Thursday, September 21, 2017

Blog Tour: The Clue in the Tree by Margi Preus...Review & Giveaway!

Have an interesting and quirky mystery to share with you all today...keep reading to learn more and to enter the giveaway!
The Clue in the Trees
(Northwoods #2)
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery


Francie’s brother Theo has secrets—secrets Francie thinks she wants to know. But what if one of those secrets is that Theo is a murderer? To avoid considering that possibility, Francie plunges into her senior year at a small-town high school near Enchantment Lake in northern Minnesota. It’s a radical change from her private school in New York, but she hopes to keep an eye on her great aunts and maybe finally learn more about the mother she never knew. A small silver box seems to hold the answers, and she is determined to get her hands on it.

But when her long-lost brother turns up, so does a dead body, and once again Francie is drawn into a mystery. A long list of suspects, with Theo at the top, keeps her head spinning. When Francie herself becomes a suspect she starts to feel like she is walking on thin ice, but it isn’t until she is literally walking on thin ice that the pieces start to come together—and by then it may be too late.

In her previous adventure Enchantment Lake, Francie was thrown into northern Minnesota lake living: fishing, berry picking, lost kayaks and scary boat rides, poisoned hotdishes, exploding bulldozers, a forest fire . . . and murder. But if she thinks things have settled down, she’s in for a surprise. A new school with new friends (and a few enemies), a lead role in a play, an encounter with a giant muskie, archaeological twists, secret tunnels, thin ice, and a strangely sticky murder are all coming her way in The Clue in the Trees.
Margi Preus is a New York Times bestselling author of several books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor book, Heart of a Samurai, the Minnesota Book Award winning West of the Moon, and Shadow on the Mountain, a Notable Book for a Global Society. New in 2015 is Enchantment Lake, a northwoods mystery, and The Bamboo Sword, which Bookpage says is “historical fiction at its best.”

“Margi Preus has a remarkable ability to create fascinating, page-turning stories that transport readers to faraway times and places. Whether she’s evoking Norway during World War II or 19th century Japan, Preus combines impeccable research with strong characterization and plot—the very elements that draw readers into history and spark the curiosity to learn more.” Bookpage, Sept. 2015

The publisher kindly sent me a copy of the first book featuring Francie Frye so I wanted to spotlight it here a bit as well write a brief review.  So before I tell you my thoughts on The Clue in the Trees, here's a little about Enchantment Lake…but remember both books can be read as standalones.

From the back cover…
On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hotdish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake? At the center of everything is a suddenly booming business in cabin sales and a road not everyone wants built. 

My thoughts:
In this fun mystery, former child actor Francie Frye heads to mysterious Enchantment Lake when she becomes concerned about her great aunts. Once there the seventeen-year-old uncovers some strange happenings and gets more than she bargained for when her aunts ask her to investigate the mysterious deaths of a few of their fellow residents. Reluctant, but curious this amateur sleuth does her best to figure out what is going on at Enchantment Lake and uncovers a few secrets along the way.

This is such a fun, quirky story with a likable and colorful cast of characters and some unexpected twists and turns.  I enjoyed Francie's suspense-filled adventures from moonlight fishing excursions with possible suspects to blindfolded boat rides with suspicious treasure hunters.  Francie is such a fun character, if a bit too analytical and overeager at times, and I couldn't wait to see where her investigations and curiosity would take her. In addition to Francie, I also absolutely adored her eccentric aunts and the other memorable residents of Enchantment Lake.  This is a charming and entertaining mystery with plenty of humor, but the ending was a bit rushed and there are a few unanswered questions that I hope get resolved in future books.  But overall, Enchantment Lake is a delightful book I'd recommend to mystery fans of any age.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
After reading and enjoying the antics of teen-detective Francie in Enchantment Lake, I couldn't wait to read more of her adventures and the peculiar residents of Enchantment Lake in The Clue in the Trees and I was not disappointed! 

In The Clue in the Trees, former child actress and reluctant amateur detective Francie Frye is starting her senior year of high school near the quirky Enchantment Lake rather than in New York. Now she can keep an eye on her great aunts as well as possibly search for answers about the mother she never knew.  As Francie prepares to settle in, her estranged brother unexpectedly returns to her life and brings with him more questions than answers. 

It’s not long before Francie finds herself caught up in another murder mystery on Enchantment Lake.  However, Francie is not sure she wants this one solved when it looks like her brother could have something to do with it.  To distract herself from the case and the mystery that surrounds her brother, Francie returns to acting as the star in the school’s production of Antigone.  But much to Francie’s surprise, many around her seem to want her to put her investigative skills back to work despite her reluctance to get involved.

The Clue in the Trees was just as delightful as the first Francie Frye mystery. And because I know you may be wondering if you haven't yet had the chance to read Francie’s first mystery, Enchantment Lake, you could read this one first, but I'd recommend reading them in order as we get a few answers to some discoveries made in the first book as well as references to people, places, and events from Enchantment Lake.

We also get to revisit some of the same quirky and fun characters from Enchantment Lake, such as the eccentric aunts, as well as meet a few more memorable characters, such as Francie's brother Theo and classmate Raven.  For me, the characters are truly what make this read so entertaining. You never know what they are going to say or do next.  It was especially nice to meet a few more closer in age to Francie and to see her interact with her peers.  But I kind of missed the quirks and oddness of the older folks that called Enchantment Lake home.  This one just didn't feel quite the same for some reason.

And Francie, an accidental Nancy Drew I guess you could say, is such a fun and relatable main character.  I enjoyed reading the story from her POV.  Her observations and conversations are sometimes a bit random and she can be easily distracted. I have to admit that I completely relate to this and found some of them to be hilarious and sometimes even distracting myself (Google is my friend).  

As Francie slowly learns to adjust to a new school and to make new friends, she finds herself starring in the high school’s production of Antigone. All of this while she worries about her brother and does her best NOT to get involved in the murder investigation (even though almost EVERYONE wants her to get involved…which is so weird).  That's a lot for an adult to handle yet alone a teenager. Francie actually reminds me a bit of some of my favorite female detectives such as Jessica Fletcher (Murder, She Wrote TV series) and Nancy Drew (but don't tell Francie I said that) as trouble and dead bodies seem to find them wherever they go.

As for the mystery of the story, it was not predictable or too formulaic and the suspense was there as were the plot twists you’d expect in a murder mystery.  However, the pacing was a bit slow and at times I had to stop myself from reading ahead just to see how it ended.  But I am so glad that I didn't as it turned out to be quite different than I was expecting.

Laced with humor and a few laugh-out-loud moments The Clue in the Trees is an entertaining mystery.  I hope more books are to come as I look forward to more of Francie Frye’s mysterious adventures.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
1 copy of THE CLUE IN THE TREES by Margi Preus
It can be read as a standalone
US Only

The Fantastic Flying Book Club

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