Medallion of Murder by B. R. Meyers

Medallion of MurderBlue Moon Publishers, 2018.

Daughter of Egyptologists and superpower wielding Nefertari Hughes is at it again. Halfway through her senior year in high school, Terry’s got some major life decisions ahead of her. The rest of her life is looming and Terry and her best friend Maude must decide what they’re going to do next. Unfortunately, their choices aren’t exactly what their parents had in mind for them, and they’re both avoiding that reveal.

Soon, mind a jumble of thoughts and emotions about the future, Terry’s wrapped up in another big mystery involving Cleopatra’s legacy. Is it right for Terry to involve her friends and boyfriend in the danger that seems to follow her? Is she taking foolish risks because of her powers or is she simply a victim of circumstance?

I enjoyed this next installment of the mysteries–I especially loved the way Maude seems to be coming into her own as the series continues. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens in the next installment of the Nefertari Hughes mysteries.

Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage

beautiful-broken-girlsFarrar, Straus, and Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2017

When sisters Mira and Francesca are found drowned in the bottom of the town’s old quarry, the citizens of the Boston suburb where they lived are horrified—especially since the accidental death of their cousin only a few weeks earlier. The town is reeling. The newspapers suggest a teen suicide trend. In fact Ben’s parents are watching him like hawks, afraid that somehow his one-time girlfriend’s suicide will spur Ben to take his own life. But Ben doesn’t want to die, he just wants answers: Why did Mira become so distant? What was going on in her head during the month before she took her own life? Did their father’s overprotective ways push the girls to do something drastic?

Ben’s first thought when he sees the letter in Mira’s handwriting is that she’s alive, but he knows better. Instead, before Mira died, she left Ben a series of messages hidden in the places that they touched. Each message explains a little bit more about what happened and why. But the messages are cryptic, and don’t always contain the information Ben is longing for. In order to find the answers his heart needs, Ben will have to navigate an ever more complicated labyrinth of locations past friends and adults who have their own agendas, suspicions, and fears.

Beautiful Broken Girls is a page-turner of a book and an eerie, New England tale. I zipped through it quickly, eager to discover what exactly had happened to Mira and Francesca. Ben is a sympathetic character, and I felt his frustration as he tried to piece together the clues to the mystery. Through flashbacks from Mira’s point of view, the reader also gets to know the girls in their last days.

I felt that many of the characters in this story did not have clear motivations. I would have liked to come away with a better understanding of the motivations of the adults in the story. Perhaps since the story was told entirely from the point of view of teens, this makes sense, but I would have liked a little more insight into their decisions and motivations.

A quick and engaging read, Beautiful Broken Girls comes out on February 21.

I received an advanced reader copy of Beautiful Broken Girls from Netgalley and the publisher, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

 

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

one-of-us-is-lyingDelacourt Press/ Random House 2017

One Monday afternoon, five kids walk into detention in Mr. Avery’s science room. They’re not friends; they’re not even the usual suspects. Branwyn is the brainy, uber involved mathlete who has never had detention before. Cooper’s headed for baseball fame, if his father has anything to say about it. Addy’s the gorgeous girlfriend of the quarterback and hangs with the popular crowd. Nate’s the school’s dealer and all around bad boy. Simon’s the inventor of the gossip app that’s plaguing the school.

Every one of them got bagged for carrying a cell phone into science class, and every one of them swears that they’ve never seen that phone before. But before long, they’ve got a lot more to worry about than some illegal cell phones because before long one of them is dead and the rest? They are at the top of the list of suspects for the murder of their classmate Simon.

McManus has written an engaging Agatha Christie style mystery. Set in a modern high school, four appealing characters battle the expectations of their families, the cut throat social pressures of their peers, and the unpredictability of a murder investigation. Their most hidden secrets come out, making them pariahs among their peers and causing discord with their families. Against the advice of their lawyers, the remaining four tentatively build a friendship and work their way through the tangle of events that led to Simon’s being wheeled out on a stretcher and never coming back.

This mystery was a great read! Not only was it filled with the angst and social pressures of senior year of high school, but the story beautifully reflected the tightrope of senior year. Pressure comes from everywhere: parents, teachers, friends, college choices. When you add being investigated as a murder suspect? It’s a wonder they don’t all blow to pieces. Instead, in the most satisfying way each character seems to embrace the pressure, and rather than allowing it to blast them to pieces, each character instead grows stronger and begins to mold themselves into the adult they will soon be.

I was lucky enough to win an ARC of One of Us Is Lying on Twitter. I was drawn into the story from word one and read it in one weekend. It comes out May 30th. I will definitely look for more books from Karen McManus in the future.

 

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles

Read Between the Lines

Candlewick, 2015

Nine teenagers, one adult, one day, and one rude gesture that connects their stories. Told in ten vignettes, Jo Knowles’ story shows the face of human life and of the personal struggles that underlie each character’s actions. It also shows the real and tenuous connections between both friends and strangers.

I’m a fan of Jo Knowles’ books, and when I read an interview about this book I was intrigued enough with the premise to look for it at my local library. Read Between the Lines is built on a universal experience; I expect we’ve all been flipped the bird unfairly at one time or another. What makes this story rich is the way it portrays both how the “flipper” was provoked and the reaction of the “flippee.” I appreciated the insight into all of the characters’ lives. Every one of the characters is dealing with public perceptions, personal problems, and life. Reading Jo Knowles’ newest book is a sure way to spur deeper thought about rules, everyday misunderstandings, and the forces that drive us.

I checked this book out of my local library.