Who Killed Christopher Goodman?: A Review

“The finger that tips the first domino is guilty, not the dominos themselves.”

Who Killed Christopher Goodman? by Allan WolfChristopher Goodman wears ridiculous bell bottoms. He plays trombone in the school band. He introduces himself to every person he meets and shakes their hands. No doubt, Christ is a little eccentric, but he’s a genuinely nice guy. Which is why everyone in Goldsburg, Virginia is shocked when Chris is murdered during 1979’s Deadwood Days, a western street festival that draws tourists to the town every summer.

Classmates Doc Chestnut and Squib Kaplan find Chris’ body during a cross country run. The entire school, the entire community, is stunned by the murder.

Doc and Squib along with Hunger McCoy, Hazel Turner, and Mildred Penny carry the burden of knowing they were together on the night of the murder and may have inadvertently played a part in the tragedy. All five of them are haunted by the events of that night and the ways things could have turned out differently as they try to make sense of their grief and guilt in Who Killed Christopher Goodman? (2017) by Allan Wolf.

This mystery is inspired by an actual murder that occurred when Wolf was a teen himself as explained in an author’s note. Although Wolf was not as connected to that murder as his characters in Who Killed Christopher Goodman? he never forgot about the murder and always wondered about that lost chance at friendship.

Who Killed Christopher Goodman? features six narrators including Chris’ killer. While readers might guess who the killer is early on, Wolf does an excellent job of maintaining just enough tension and suspense over the course of the novel to still keep readers wondering.

Scenes with group dialogue are written in a screenplay style which ties well with the way the cast of voices are listed  in the beginning with quick identifiers: David Oscar “Doc” Chestnut, the Sleepwalker; Leonard Pelf, the Runaway; Scott “Squib” Kaplan, the Genius; Hunger McCoy, the Good Ol’ Boy; Hazel Turner, the Farm Girl; and Mildred Penny, the Stamp Collector. Wolf helps to differentiate between the large cast of narrators with distinct dialects including long-winded sentences for Squib who has Tourette’s and verse passages for Leonard.

Wolf uses this unique format to excellent effect to create a gripping mystery as well as a thoughtful character study where each of the six main characters grapple with their actions on the night of the murder and their blame, if any, in Christopher Goodman’s death. Who Killed Christopher Goodman? is a fast-paced novel that will appeal to reluctant readers as well as fans of mystery and suspense. (In fact, I wouldn’t surprised to see this get an Edgar nomination.)

Possible Pairings: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Game of Love and Death by Martha A. Brockenbrouch, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, Sorcery and Cecelia by Caroline Stevemer and Patricia C. Wrede, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

*A more condensed version of this review appeared in the January 2017 issue of School Library Journal as a starred review*

Week in Review: March 11

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

This week mostly saw me enjoying the nice weather before it disappeared (Why is it so cold this weekend? Why?). I am spending the weekend cooking for a small army to prepare for the upcoming week.

I marked International Women’s Day by sharing this display I made at work:

Here’s my latest from Instagram:

If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my March Reading Tracker.

How was your week? What are you reading?

Let’s talk in the comments.

Booklist: Read-a-Likes for Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (This Month at YALSA’s Hub)

This month at the Hub I have a new booklist of read-a-likes for Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.

Nicola Yoon’s debut novel Everything, Everything took the book world by storm when it was published in 2015. This May readers will get to see this much loved story come to life on the big screen when the film adaptation starring Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson hits theaters. In the meantime this booklist has everything, everything you might want to read if you are a fan waiting for the movie to come out.

You can head over to YALSA’s Hub to read my list of read-a-likes and start your reading before the movie comes out!

Daughter of the Pirate King: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia LevensellerAlosa is one of the most ruthless pirates sailing with a crew that has as much cunning as it does intelligence. Alosa is also the seventeen-year-old daughter of the feared Pirate King.

When the Pirate King needs to steal an ancient piece of a  treasure map from a rival pirate lord, Alosa knows she is the best candidate for the job. Leaving behind her ship and her talented (mostly female) crew is a trial and allowing herself to be bested and abducted by her targets is humiliating. But Alosa is willing to do whatever it takes to complete her mission and steal the map.

What Alosa doesn’t count on is the ships first mate. Riden is smarter than he lets on and tasked with uncovering all of Alosa’s secrets. Locked in a battle of wits with this formidable foe, Alosa will have to watch her back (and her heart) if she wants to get the map and escape before anyone is the wiser in Daughter of the Pirate King (2017) by Tricia Levenseller.

Daughter of the Pirate King is Levenseller’s debut novel.

This book is a lot of fun–something readers can expect from the very first page when the book opens with a quote from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. How you feel about that movie will also quickly determine how you feel about the rest of the book.

Daughter of the Pirate King is a fantasy filled with seemingly anachronistic phrases that begin to appear almost as soon as the novel starts. Most of the action plays out against the small backdrop of the ship where Alosa is being held captive leaving larger details of the world to remain blurry at best.

This novel is narrated by Alosa who while entertaining remains a bit too fastidious (particularly when it comes to cleanliness) to make an entirely convincing pirate. Some narrators are capable and clever, some narrators talk about being capable and clever. Alosa is largely the latter as she tries to convince readers that she is in fact a cunning pirate captain far superior to those around her instead of a reckless one who only barely manages to keep a grasp of her mission.

For all intents and purposes the pirates here are exactly what you would expect from eighteenth century pirates with the added technicolor touches of a good pirate movie including witty repartee, dashing clothes, and high octane sword fights. The pirates in Daughter of the Pirate King are, however, completely divorced from any historical context and left to flounder in an imagined world that feels flimsy by comparison. The addition of true fantasy elements come too late in the story to redeem the lackluster beginning.

Daughter of the Pirate King is an entertaining, swashbuckling adventure. Recommended for readers who enjoy pirate stories but can take or leave historical accuracy. Ideal for anyone looking for a light adventure with romance and banter.

Possible Pairings: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman, The Reader by Traci Chee, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, Winterspell by Claire Legrand, Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell, Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer, Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch, The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

Snow Like Ashes: A Review

Snow Like Ashes by Sara RaaschSixteen years ago the kingdom of Spring invaded Winter. The Winterians were captured and enslaved during the invasion and the kingdom was left without a ruler or the locket that serves as a vessel for its magic.

Eight survivors escaped that day. They have spent the years since hiding, training, and following any clue that might bring them closer to reclaiming their lost kingdom. Meira has lived among the refugees for most of her life. Her memories of Winter come from the stories of her older companions, leaving the ruined kingdom feeling more like a concept than a home.

Meira is determined to prove her worth among her band and show that she can and will do whatever it takes to save Winter and to protect Winter’s heir, Mather–the boy Meira loves even though she knows he will need to forge a powerful alliance for Winter with his marriage to someone more influential and powerful.

When the refugees have a solid lead on part of the Winterian locket, Meira impetuously strikes out to steal it back. The mission doesn’t go as planned thrusting Meira and her friends on a dangerous path toward unknown magic, risky alliances, and a destiny Meira never could have imagined in Snow Like Ashes (2016) by Sara Raasch.

Snow Like Ashes is the first book in Raasch’s Snow Like Ashes trilogy. Meira’s story continues in Ice Like Fire and Frost Like Night.

Meira narrates this novel in first person present tense. The close focus on her perspective leave a lot of room in the narrative for unexpected twists and surprises as the story moves forward. Because of her distance from the events of Winter’s past it also leads to a lot of information being passed along in clunky accounts of memories and past lessons.

Winter is part of a world with eight kingdoms, four seasons and four rhythms which move through all four seasons. While the concept is interesting, it’s never fully explained as Meira spends more time focused on fighting with her chakram and proving herself to the leader of the refugees. Meira is headstrong and often reckless but her heart is in the right place and she’s definitely a strong female character.

It’s worth noting that this novel makes nods to diversity but doesn’t quite meet the mark. Characters from other kingdoms have different coloring but the cast here is overwhelming white including the light skinned Spring citizens and Winterians who are winter pale with white hair.

Snow Like Ashes is a breakneck story filled with intense action, carefully described fights, and lots of battles. Raasch dives right into the action at the beginning of the book and doesn’t let up throughout the novel. Recommended for readers looking for plot driven fantasy above intricate characterization.

Possible Pairings: Frostblood by Elly Blake, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay, Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, The Young Elites by Marie Lu, Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury, The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace

Week in Review: March 4

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

Be sure to enter my giveaway on the blog for three awesome books (you have until Monday!)

I also have a giveaway for a different title going on Instagram. Please enter and prove to me that it’s possible to successfully host a giveaway on there.

This week I’m finally feeling healthy although barely. I hadn’t planned to talk about this but I guess there’s no reason for it to be a secret: My mom fell this weekend and really hurt herself. Nothing is broken and she’s on the mend if bruised but it led to a trying two hours in which we realized neither of us had the strength to get her up so I had to call 911 and two police officers came to help. It was all just deeply unpleasant. But she’s better now.

This week I also went to an all-day publisher presentation for library types which was a lot of fun and I’m starting to whittle down my to read list again slowly but surely. This week I finished my re-read of Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s still my favorite book in the world and you should all read it immediately. I’m on a fantasy kick so I also am starting A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab and the only drawback is that the book is enormous.

I also read Frogkisser which is a delightful middle grade by Garth Nix and I loved it so much I made a bookstagram post for it:

Frogs. Royalty. Magic. Humor. 🦄 All Anya wants to do is sit in the castle library and read and learn new spells (but only small ones because she doesn't want to become an evil sorcerer). Unfortunately Anya has to go on a Quest instead. While she tries to gather ingredients for a magical Transmogrification lip balm to transform sundry victims of her step-step-father the duke Anya will grapple with her privilege and responsibility as a princess. This rollicking adventure is filled with magical creatures including talking dogs, wizards, good robbers, evil sorcerers and more. This masterful fantasy is another winner from Nix sure to appeal to fans of fractured fairy tales, adventures like The Princess Bride, and books by Vivian Vande Velde. 🦄 #bookstagram #goodreads #instabook #instareads #bibliophile #books #reading #currentlyreading #amreading #bookworm #bookish #bookgram #booktography #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookphotography #books #frogkisser

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I’ve been experimenting with when and what to post on Instagram (including my giveaway, hint) and can confirm that for me the best time in terms of getting the photo seen/liked more is the afternoon on a weekday. I also find that posting too often actually minimizes the chances of anything being seen. Which I guess is as good a testament to quality over quantity as anything.

Anyway . . .

Here’s my latest from Instagram:

This weekend I read American Street by Ibi Zoboi and it should definitely be on your radar. Fabiola Toussaint and her mother arrive in the United States eager to join Fabiola's aunt and cousins. But her mother is detained by ICE at a facility in New Jersey and Fabiola arrives alone. Fabiola finds new friends and first love, but she also learns that nothing in America is what she imagined back home in Haiti–not even her new home with family at the corner of American Street and Joy Road. 🔮 Fabiola clings to her faith and her Vodou iwas for guidance but she isn't sure that Papa Legba's riddles or help from other iwas like beautiful Ezili will be enough to protect her family and bring her mother to her side. How much will Fabiola have to sacrifice to help her mother and herself become American and grab their own small piece of joy? How far would you go for the same thing? 🔮 #bookstagram #goodreads #instabook #instareads #bibliophile #books #reading #currentlyreading #amreading #bookworm #bookish #bookgram #booktography #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookphotography #books #americanstreet

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It's not every day that you get a review copy with a zine. Moxie sounds like everything I want in a book. A strong female protagonist, feminism, and the story quiet but determined character coming into their own. Super excited to have this early copy. You can watch for Moxie this September (and keep an eye out for movie news too since it's already been optioned by Amy Poehler). You can also check out moxiegirlsfightback.com for some awesome fierce feminist content leading up to the book's release this fall. (And on a superficial note I am in love with the bold style and color combination of the cover.) #bookstagram #goodreads #instabook #instareads #bibliophile #books #reading #currentlyreading #amreading #bookworm #bookish #bookgram #booktography #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookphotography #books #feminism #moxiegirlsfightback #bookmail

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If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my March Reading Tracker.

How was your week? What are you reading? Do you Bookstagram?

Let’s talk in the comments.

Top Fives from Simon & Schuster’s Summer 2017 Educator and Librarian Preview

missprinttopfivesOn February 17 I attended Simon & Schuster’s Summer 2017 Educator and Librarian Preview. You may have been following the news with the publisher’s recent cancellation of a book by someone who can politely be called a far-right commentator (and who is a racist, homophobic, and misogynist). That’s worth remembering but I have to say I was pleased with how inclusive the list was for this upcoming season for their children’s imprints.

Big (to me) news from the event: Merit Press is now an imprint of Simon & Schuster after their acquisition of Adams Media. I’ve been following Merit titles for a long time and I’m excited to see them attached to one of the big publishers as I think it will lead to some more attention for them.

If you want to see more about the preview you can check out the #sskidspreview tag on Twitter and also look at my tweets from the preview.

Picture Books:

  1. This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Suzy Lee: A picture book so pretty it has no by-lines on the front cover (author attribution will be on the back). A thoughtful story about turning a gloomy day into a beautiful one. Coming August 2017
  2. Little Red Riding Sheep by Linda Ravin Lodding, illustrated by Cate Atkinson: What happens when an author tries to write a version of Little Red Riding Hood with a sheep who is afraid of the woods? Well, the sheep is definitely going to have something to say about it in this picture book that breaks the fourth wall. Perfect for fans of fracture fairy tales like Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. Coming August 2017
  3. Rodzilla by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Dan Santat: Rodzilla is a chubby, slimy monster and he is wrecking havoc on town. But, (spoiler!) he is also a toddler taking seven big steps across his playroom. Coming May 2017
  4. Long May She Wave: The True Story of Caroline Pickersgill and her Star-Spangled Creation by Kristen Fulton, illustrated by Holly Berry: Did you know that the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sewn by a thirteen-year-old girl who was working in the shop her mother owned? Coming May 2017
  5. Whobert Whover: Owl Detective by Jason Gallagher, illustrated by Jess Pauwels: Picture book about an owl detective asking the tough (and inevitably wrong) questions about the murder of his possum friend. Just take my money. Coming July 2017.

Middle Grade:

  1. Quicksand Pond by Janet Taylor Lisle: It still feels very surreal that I was in the same room as Janet Taylor Lisle. Her new book is about an unlikely friendship that forms between two girls from different backgrounds when they spend their summer days together on a raft. Coming May 2017.
  2. Pablo and Birdy by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Ana Juan: The story of a boy and his parrot. Pablo wants to know about his past and his biological parents while Birdy wonders why she can’t fly or talk like other parrots. This book is going to have a hint of fantasy and stunning illustrations. Coming August 2017.
  3. One Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson: A timely and heartbreaking middlegrade debut set in Senegal with poetic writing. Comparisons made to Between Shades of Gray. Coming June 2017.
  4. Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder: In her MG debut Crowder delivers a story about last chances and new opportunities with multiple points of view including an old owl. Coming May 2017.
  5. Our Story Begins edited by Elissa Brent Weissman: This anthology features a wide range of children’s book authors talking about how they begin writing or illustrating. Each piece is prefaced by a childhood picture of the author and includes a piece of their early work. Includes pieces from Dan Santat, Rita Williams Garcia, Grace Lin, and more! Coming July 2017.
  6. A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander: What happens when a ghost-hunting librarian moves to a town where there aren’t any ghosts? Her daughter Rosa isn’t sure–especially when it turns out the ghosts aren’t just absent, they’re being kept away by something worse. Coming August 2017.

Young Adult:

  1. Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things by Betsy Aldredge and Carrie Dubois Shaw: Samantha, a nice Jewish girl, is dragged onto a Yeti hunt with her parents as part of a reality show. To make matters worse, the whole thing is taking place near an elite boarding school where a Bollywood handsome boy has a front row seat to Samantha’s humiliation. Coming August 2017.
  2. Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta: A fantasy with magic that shines like gold until it is corrupted and begins to burn. Also political machinations. Need it yesterday. Coming August 2017.
  3. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell: Gangs of New York. With magic. Do you actually need to know more? Coming July 2017.
  4. Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali: This is one of the first YA titles coming from the Salaam Reads imprint. Described as My So-Called Life featuring a Muslim hijabi female lead obsessed with Flannery O’Connor. Compared to Fangirl and I’ll Give You the Sun. Coming June 2017.
  5. Two Roads From Here by Teddy Steinkeller: A Sliding Doors style story about five teens getting ready to graduate high school and what could happen if they went on the road not taken.Coming June 2017.