Archive for the ‘Suspect’ Category

Regional Reads for Christmas

December 9, 2015

How do you pick out a Christmas present or birthday gift for a young reader?  There are all sorts of ways to choose, but sometimes I like to pick out a book set in a place where those readers live or featuring characters from the same locality. Readers have enjoyed recognizing places from Suspect, my mystery set in Missouri with scenes that take place in St. Louis and Augusta. Defending Irene might be set in the Italian Alps, but it features a young American soccer player from the St. Louis area. Saving the Griffin is set in Tuscany, but it features characters from Minnesota.

What are some other fun regional reads?  Here’s a mix new releases and old favorites that I could think of off the top of my head during the busy holiday season. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments. I’ll be adding, updating and annotating as time allows even after the 2015 holiday season wraps up.


Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan (YA)


One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia (Oakland)
Quad by C.G. Watson
Millicent Min: Girl Genius by Lisa Yee
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (San Francisco)
One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin
Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle  (A boy whose mother has been arrested for dog fighting goes to live with his great-uncle, who is a forest ranger and has a wilderness search and rescue dog.)


Katerina’s Wish by Jeannie Mobley
Searching for Silverheels by Jeannie Mobley


The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck


Cynthia’s Attic by Mary Cunningham (Southern Indiana)


Do You Know the Monkey Man by Dori Hillestad Butler



A Voice for Kanzas by Debra McArthur (Lawrence)



Harvest Moon by Tonya Coffey (recommended by the author, a former student, which is always fun)



Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith



Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack
Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
Kiki and Jacques by Susan Ross


The Dirt Diaries by Anna Staniszewski



Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth McNally Barshaw
Copper Magic by Julia Mary Gibson (Fictional town on Lake Michigan)
Bud, not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis


Ghosts I Have Been by Richard Peck
Suspect by Kristin Wolden Nitz  (St. Louis and Augusta)


Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson



Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman


New Hampshire

Any Way You Slice It by Kristine Carlson Asselin



Screaming at the Ump by Audrey Vernick

New Mexico 

Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways to Fly by Conrad Wesselhoeft (YA)

New York

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman
Eighth-Grade Super Zero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson


Pucker Up by Rachele Alpine  (Lakewood, a place near Cleveland)



The Caged Grave by Dianne Marenco Salerni (In 1867, a girl returns to her hometown and discovers her mother and aunt are buried in caged graves.)

The Eighth Day by Dianne Marenco Salerni (A boy discovers a secret day of the week hidden between Wednesday and Thursday.)

South Carolina

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson


Palace Beautiful by Sarah Deford Williams (Salt Lake City)



Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith
Golden Girl by Mari Mancusi (A snowboarding prodigy tries to reclaim her standing as the “Golden Girl” at her elite winter sports academy. )



Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj



Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft (YA) Seattle



Finders Keepers by Shelley Tougas


Faithful by Janet Fox (YA) Set in and around Yellowstone




The Society of School Librarians International Best Books

November 27, 2012

I got the news that my young adult mystery SUSPECT was on the top of the Society of School Librarians International best books for language arts (grades 7-12) last fall, but the official link never popped up for me until last week. Now I’m honored to share it, especially since I’m in such good company.

Promoting the Backlist

July 1, 2011

Peachtree Publishers does such a lovely job of promoting the books on their backlist.  My friend Sondy was at ALA and took a picture of SUSPECT being promoted even though it came out last fall. She also found SAVING THE GRIFFIN face out. It does have an extremely tempting cover.

When It All Goes Down

June 11, 2011

Once again I can’t help thinking about how this is the weekend in June where the mystery weekend in SUSPECT would take place. Weather did really play a role in the plot.

Weather, seasons and climate do play or at least should play an important role in establishing the setting in novels. In every book that I’ve had published I’ve done a study of what’s blooming. If an author gets it wrong in an area that I’m familiar with, I’ll notice. With SUSPECT, I could rely on the Missouri Botantical Gardens website. And that reminds me that I’m going to have to start checking the weather in various parts of Italy for PORTRAIT during the first and second week of July. The internet makes this incredibly easy. In fact, I’ll be able to go to webcams for certain locations and check for haze and visibility. I’m planning on spoiling my characters, though. It rained the day before the action opens, so they’ll have blue skies and incredible visibility.

This brings to mind another little review popped up for SUSPECT this week in The Crimson Review of Children’s Literature, a blog put out by the graduate students taking a course in young adult materials at the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies.

“Nitz has created a strong female character, a distinctive setting, and well-laid clues that will have the reader frantically turning the pages to figure out whodunit.”

I’m betting that the reviewer was thinking more about my bed and breakfast, weather and climate would have definitely contributed to my setting.

‘Tis the Season to Read SUSPECT

June 9, 2011

I’ve always enjoyed reading books in the season when they are set.  I’ve done this most often with the work of Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels because that writer, whose real name is actually Barbara Mertz, does such a fabulous job of bringing in the season as well as the physical setting. So I can’t help thinking about what might be going on in Augusta, Missouri with Jen and her fellow characters even though I’m up here in the slightly cooler state of Michigan.  Much like in my mystery novel,  we have storms rumbling through that are bringing cooler air and lower humidity.

By my book’s timeline, this upcoming weekend would probably be the one when Grandma Kay’s mystery weekend would take place. Today would be when Jen and Bri are putting the final touches on the Schoenhaus. And tomorrow bad things begin to happen.  I wonder whether I’d be able to read my own book for its early summer atmosphere.   A lot of novelists can’t go back because all they can see are the things that they would have done differently.

Keystone State Reading Association

May 13, 2011

SUSPECT was one of ten books picked for the High School KSRA 2011 YA book award .  Students can vote on their favorite title as long as they’ve read at least four of the following books:  

      Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins, Charlesbridge     

     Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, Simon and Schuster

      Five Flavors of Dumb by John Antony, Dial

      Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, Scholastic

      Jump by Elisa Lynn Carbone, Viking

     The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork, A.A. Levine

      The Miracle Stealer by Neil Connelly, A.A. Levine, $17.99

      Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Mabery, Simon and Schuster, $17.99

     Suspect by Kristin Wolden Nitz, Peachtree, $16.95

    Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler, Viking

The PSLA YA Top 40 (or so)

April 27, 2011

Suspect made the Pennsylvania YA Top 40 (or so) list.  I’m afraid that “or so” means closer to 200 books, but it’s still a lovely honor.  Here’s the review from the librarian who nominated it: 

Seventeen-year-old Jen goes to help her Grandma Kay for the summer at the bed-and-breakfast she owns, but finds herself investigating the disappearance of her mother, who left when Jen was just three years old. Her grandmother, who always believed Ellen was alive, now has the feeling that she is dead, and Jen’s dad doesn’t know if Grandma is just getting strange or if she really suspects something. Jen is also dealing with an attraction to Mark, who is her “uncousin” by marriage. She finds out what really happened to her mother, experiences another family tragedy, and discovers what Mark’s true feelings are for her. This is a very satisfying read – a combination of mystery and romance.

Mystery/Romance Nancy Chrismer, – Juniata High School

If THE LIAR SOCIETY Looks Interesting…

April 11, 2011

It was fun to find SUSPECT in Kirkus again.  This time it accompanied  THE LIAR SOCIETY review in the  “similar books” section.  Nice!

Reading Reviews

March 24, 2011
Some writers don’t read the reviews of their books.  Many of those who will read reviews from professional journals will avoid reader feedback from places like GoodReads.  That would undoubtedly be both smarter and safer.  A very wise writer said that “Good reviews are like crack; bad reviews, like poison.” But I’m blessed and cursed with an insatiable curiosity.  So I’ll read them and see if I can still learn from them.                                             
Sometimes, I’ll come across an inordinately painful review from someone who sneers at my skills and my characters.  But at other times, I’ll come across a reader who really gets and appreciates what I was trying to do.    For me, the following review really nails it:        
Suspect is a very cute mystery, even though the mystery at the heart of the novel is not, in fact, cute. One of my favorite things about this book is how realistic Jen’s panic attacks are, which is an odd thing to say, but Jen isn’t a fragile girl and the novel never once lets us think that she is, even when she’s freaking out. I liked all the characters and thought the writing was fun. A good, quick read, especially for those who like a good, quick, murder mystery. — review by user callmecayce

Judging Books by Their Covers

March 19, 2011

That Cover Girl is one blogger who’s willing to judge a book by its cover.  Or maybe it’s closer to say that she’s judging the covers of various YA books.   In any case, she recently interviewed Peachtree’s Mo Withee about her THIS GIRL IS DIFFERENT cover.  At a point later in the interview, Mo mentions that she really loves the SUSPECT cover for its fun simplicity.  Well, so do I!  

So if you’ve ever wondered about the process behind designing and selecting covers,  you might consider clicking through That Cover Girl’s extremely informative and opinionated blog.