Tag Archives: YA Mystery

Book Review: Wabanaki Blues by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel – Magnificent YA Mystery

Wabanaki Blues

Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel

327 pages

Wabanaki BluesMona Lisa LaPierre is a complex teen. She is the daughter of a Native American mother, who has turned her back on tradition and her family. Mona’s father is older than her mother, is ignorant or oblivious to Mona’s needs, other than basic food and shelter.

The teen retreats into her music. She is a talented guitarist and blues singer, writing her own music, drawing from her own experiences. These experiences include hearing her dead grandmother’s voice advising her and seeing  a girl that was murdered years ago in her high school.

Mona is shipped up to New Hampshire to stay in a cabin with her grandfather, appropriately named Grumps while her parents go to an archaeological dig in Russia. Not only does she miss her high school graduation, but Grumps lives off the grid. No cell phone, no electricity, no Beetle (a guy she would love to spend more time with) and no one to talk to except Grumps. This is not how Mona planned to spend the summer after her high school graduation.

Things begin to look up for her when she meets Del, a guy her age. He plays in a band and asks her to jam with them, and surprisingly Grumps encourages them to hang out together.  When she discovers he is the son of the dead girl that has been urging her to bring her killer to justice, Mona becomes obsessed with the case. And she might just be falling for Del.

Danger lurks in the woods and in unlikely places that would normally be considered safe. Mona has angered people by uncovering long buried secrets. The deeper she digs the more help she needs from Grumps and her extended Native American family.

Zobel created one of the most memorable characters I’ve read about in a long time. Mona develops from a snarky teen to a mature young woman over the course of this novel – but she still has rough edges. She learns about herself while digging into her family’s history and culture.

This Young Adult Mystery was so much more than a “whodunit”. The mystery of the murder developed along with the characters, making Zobel’s novel fast paced and interesting. I loved the rich history and tradition that I learned along with Mona.  This is the first book in a trilogy, and I can’t wait to read the next two books.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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Filed under Blues, Book Review, Mystery, Native American, YA

Book Review: Shadow of Seth – Strong Characters and Plot – A Must Read!

The Shadow of Seth coverThe Shadow of Seth

By Tom Llewellyn

174 pages

It is apparent from the first few pages that sixteen-year-old Seth Anomundy has been alone for years, despite the fact that he lives with his mother. She is a hard worker, but a free spirit. Often that freedom means making poor choices and either forgetting about Seth, or dragging him along on some adventure that isn’t necessarily one a kid needed to take.

Now that he is in high school, she works nights cleaning businesses, so he comes home to an empty apartment over a boxing gym in a less than desirable neighborhood. Seth is surprisingly ambitious and centered, willing to pick up jobs here and there to make a few dollars. He goes to high school, making decent grades and most of the time keeps out of trouble.

Then his world spirals out of control. When picking up a clock for repair from one of the wealthiest families in town, Azura Lear answers the door. She is rich, beautiful and wants to spend more time with him. Seth brushes her off, takes the clock back to Nadel, an old-fashion clock repair man to be fixed.

Azura won’t leave him alone. At school she flirts with him and shows up in the most unlikely places to see him. This infuriates her previous boyfriend, who now is out to teach Seth a lesson about dating rich girls that “belong” to someone else.

Then the tenuous thread of stability Seth has snaps. His mother is found dead and the police are not really concerned about another junkie biting the dust. All evidence points towards murder, but they have other cases to solve and figure she put herself in a bad situation one too many times, therefore not much effort was involved in the hunt for her killer.

The only suspect they have is the owner of a diner that his mother used to clean who has turned up missing. Therefore, the case is not being worked until they find Miss Irene. Seth is sure Miss Irene is not guilty, so he begins searching for her, on the assumption that she must know something about the real killer.

Seth’s troubles explode. One of the neighborhood bullies is out to kill him and he doesn’t know why. He is falling hard for a girl that wants to be with him, but her ex-boyfriend and father will do anything to keep them apart. And worst of all he has to figure out how to make enough money to stay in the apartment so he is not homeless.

So this sixteen-year-old’s life becomes a game of cat and mouse while he works in the boxing gym as a sparring partner, runs errands for the clock maker, works in the kitchen at Miss Irene’s diner and becomes the barista for Choo-Choo, the owner of the gym. All this is happening as he continues to search for his mother’s killer.

This fast paced novel turned and twisted through the rough areas of Tacoma, Washington faster than a freight train. Llewellyn takes the reader along for this gritty ride with interesting characters doing sometimes appalling and/or comical things.

Each character is constructed as a whole person, the backstories interesting as well as the mixture of jobs and interests of each. I was especially amused by the barista info. Seth is taught how to make a perfect cup of coffee, so the reader also learns. The little things are important when making an exquisite cup of brew and none of them are lost on Seth. The unlikelihood of the perfect coffee in a boxing gym – good enough for Choo-Choo to come back in the middle of the night to see if there is a cup left – puts such a realistic feel to this book I felt like I could go to Tacoma, find the gym and enjoy a cup with him.

This is a YA novel, but like so many these days, is well worth reading if you are 16 or 61. It is a great whodunit and so much more.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

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Filed under Book Review, books, Coffee, Mystery, YA