Review: The Strangers by Margaret Petersen Haddix

2 stars (It was okay).

Chess, Emma, and Finn come home from school one day to find their mother very upset about an article about three missing children from Arizona who share their names. They don’t think much of it until she also disappears. Then they try to solve both mysteries and end up falling into a rather science fiction story.

I couldn’t help but compare this book to my own middle grade story about parallel worlds and kids who get mixed up in them. Except . . . dare I say I think my book is better?

I never really connected with the characters, especially the youngest, Finn. I didn’t think the clues lead logically from one to another, and I felt like the kids took way too long to figure out what was going on.

You can bet I’m using this as a comp title, though.

Review: Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

3 stars (I liked it). My middle grade son rates it 4 stars.

Space Case cover (link to Goodreads)

If you like mystery, space, sarcastic middle grade voices, fun, or any combination of the above, chances are, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s a quick read with lots of humor and the perfect situation to allow a kid to need to solve the mystery.

It wasn’t the best mystery I ever read, but I was never bored, and it made a day of picking hundreds of apples from my apple tree more pleasant (I had the audiobook running while I was way up in the tree, fighting the wind threatening to knock me out of said tree).

There are sequels, which my son read as well and liked. I love the merger of science fiction and mystery, something I feel there isn’t enough of. I may be biased, though, as my current WIP is a sf mystery (though for YA).

Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus

4 stars (I really liked it).

Two Can Keep a Secret cover (link to Goodreads)

This book has kind of mediocre reviews on Goodreads, but here’s the thing: if this had been McManus’s debut rather than following One of Us Is Lying, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with it. It’s just that McManus’s first book is so brilliant and expectations were sky high that this one felt like a letdown. And yeah, it’s not as good. But it certainly isn’t *bad.* It’s even above average, in my opinion. It’s twisty and romantic and compelling.

I liked the characters. I especially liked Ellery’s relationship with her mother. So if you want a fun YA mystery, I recommend this one. Don’t expect the moon and you’ll like it just fine.

Review: Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

4 stars: I really liked it.

The Raven Boys cover (link to Goodreads)

The fandom for this one is super devoted, and I can see why. It’s well written, mysterious, and full of colorful characters with weird names. Blue, the female main character, is a non-psychic in a family of psychics (reminds me of my friend Christine Amsden’s series a bit), but when she’s around, she enhances their abilities. She has been told she’ll one day kill her true love with a kiss. One day she sees a boy named Gansey  on a specific road at a specific time, meaning he will die in the next year. She doesn’t usually see anything, so the fact she does probably means either he’s her true love or she’ll kill him, which . . . yeah. Intriguing. When she meets Gansey in person and finds him insufferably arrogant, it turns into a fun enemies-to-lovers story with a deadly twist. Or so I thought.

Actually, Blue starts falling for a different kid in Gansey’s group of friends, and I really like that romance a lot, and I’m not sure how I feel about the whole love triangle with Gansey thing, and the intriguing vision at the beginning doesn’t pan out in this book, so that was kind of annoying, and maybe I’ll read more of these but maybe not.

Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

4 stars

One of Us Is Lying cover (link to Goodreads)

A YA mystery involving a murder-by-peanuts and a roomful of kids with deep, dark secrets that start getting out. There’s romance and bonding and drama, and it’s just right for YA. I did sort of guess the ending, but I hadn’t quite gotten all the details. I have a knack for guessing mysteries early on, so in my book, that’s a win.