First I want to thank Amanda Brice for getting us started by compiling a great list of middle grade and young adult mysteries! Thank you also to everyone who suggested books for the list. We ended up with a great selection of books and authors! I can’t wait to hit the library and bookstore with both of my children. To that end, I’ve taken all the recommendations and compiled them into one Word document you can download by clicking: K&T 2013 MG & YA reading list.
And now for our winner who gets to choose one of the mysteries Amanda recommended in the blog, and will receive a copy of PAS DE DEATH by Amanda Brice
The winner is… Anthea Sharp
Anthea, to claim your books please email your preferred format (print or ebook) and your selection from Amanda’s list to email@example.com (or go to contact page for details). Remember, we must hear from you within 10 days and you must provide a US or Canadian address to qualify.
Next Tuesday at Kiss and Thrill Sharon Wray is interviewing our own Manda Collins to celebrate the release of her wonderful novella THE PERKS OF BEING A BEAUTY.
And on Thursday Krista Hall interviews the fabulous Kimberly Kincaid.
Summer vacation is looming in my house. That big blank spot on the calendar, which I am woefully unprepared for. I have two kids, 13 and 10, girl and boy. Both voracious readers with very different tastes. Five more days of school, then we enter the abyss.
In a panic, I turned again to my friend, the brilliant author Amanda Brice for help. My daughter has read and loved all of Amanda’s Dani Spevak mysteries, and while I really wanted Amanda to write a few dozen more of the dance-world set mysteries before next Tuesday, that wasn’t really feasible, so instead she compiled this list of mysteries for Tweens and Teens.
We are opening up the comments today for middle grade and young adult book recommendations in any genre. On Thursday I will post a PDF of all the books recommended by Amanda as well as all the recommendations from our readers, so be sure to come back on Thursday for a library/shopping list. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Amanda’s PAS DE DEATH plus one of the books recommended by Amanda (winner’s choice) for the voracious reader in their life!
Thank you to Rachel and the rest of the Kill & Thrill ladies for hosting me today. I had so much fun making summer reading suggestions last year, I’m delighted to make this an annual tradition. Here’s to great summer reading for years to come!
Now that school is out (or will be shortly), moms and dads across the country are faced with the task of what to do with their kids for the next 2 months or so. I can’t help you with summer camps or childcare of occupying their every waking hour, but in keeping with the suspense theme of this blog, I can help provide you with a list of awesome YA and middle grade mysteries!
These books are in no particularly order, so please don’t try to interpret it as a ranking of preference. But they are just some of my faves, and I hope they’ll come your kids’ faves, too.
For the Tweens:
Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his backyard. The critters he can handle. His father is the unpredictable one.
When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called “Expedition Survival!”, Wahoo figures he’ll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo’s acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.
They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun . . .
It’s anyone’s guess who will actually survive “Expedition Survival”. . . .
The first book in this groundbreaking multimedia series sends readers around the world on the hunt for the 39 Clues. Written by #1 NYT bestseller Rick Riordan, and backed by $100,000 in prizes!
Minutes before she died Grace Cahill changed her will, leaving her decendants an impossible decision: “You have a choice – one million dollars or a clue.”
Grace is the last matriarch of the Cahills, the world’s most powerful family. Everyone from Napoleon to Houdini is related to the Cahills, yet the source of the family power is lost. 39 Clues hidden around the world will reveal the family’s secret, but no one has been able to assemble them. Now the clues race is on, and young Amy and Dan must decide what’s important: hunting clues or uncovering what REALLY happened to their parents.
NOTE: Each of the books in this series is written by a different famous author: Gordon Korman, Peter Lerangis, Margaret Peterson Haddix, David Baldacci, Clifford Riley, etc.
Steven Thomas is one of two lucky winners of the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association’s contest for aspiring journalists. His prize? A trip to New Orleans and a coveted press pass for the Final Four. It’s a basketball junkie’s dream come true!
But the games going on behind the scenes between the coaches, the players, the media, the money-men, and the fans turn out to be even more fiercely competitive than those on the court. Steven and his fellow winner, Susan Carol Anderson, are nosing around the Superdome and overhear what sounds like a threat to throw the championship game. Now they have just 48 hours to figure out who is blackmailing one of MSU’s star players . . . and why.
Sailing toward dawn, and I was perched atop the crow’s nest, being the ship’s eyes. We were two nights out of Sydney, and there’d been no weather to speak of so far. I was keeping watch on a dark stack of nimbus clouds off to the northwest, but we were leaving it far behind, and it looked to be smooth going all the way back to Lionsgate City. Like riding a cloud. . . .
Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt’s always wanted; convinced he’s lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist’s granddaughter that he realizes that the man’s ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.
In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.
Kids who grew up with Jane O’Connor’s Fancy Nancy picture books can spend some quality time with their BFF: Nancy Clancy is now starring in her novels!
Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth is the first in a series of delightful middle-grade mysteries. Sassy Fancy Nancy is now a detective. When one of her classmate’s most special possessions disappears from school, it’s up to Nancy to save the day. With the help of her friend Bree, she follows the clues to an unexpected source.
Fans of Nancy Drew’s Clue Crew will be happy to see a new Nancy join the ranks of super sleuths.
In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.
Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.
Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.
It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…
For the Teens:
Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.
When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.
Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers. (Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery.)
protect the diamonds
survive the clubs
dig deep through the spades
feel the hearts
Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.
That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.
That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.
Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?
A 2005 Michael L. Printz Honor Book and recipient of five starred reviews, I Am the Messenger is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists, and love by the author of the extraordinary international bestseller The Book Thief.
Peterson. Amanda Peterson. When my life suddenly turns into the Princess Diaries meets Mission Impossible, can I do in a week what I haven’t managed to do in all my fifteen years—reel in a hottie?
When Amanda spends a week with her aunt, Christie, she learns that her aunt is a spy. Christie admits that Amanda has security clearance and has already started her training. When her aunt asks her to investigate a teenage hacker, Amanda thinks that spending time with a nerd should be doable despite her social ineptitude. Unfortunately for Amanda, the hacker is a hottie.
Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.
Supernatural possession is the new “disease” and teen exorcist Caden Butcher is the cure…
Caden Butcher, known as the whiz-kid exorcist to the stars, loves the Hollywood limelight. Or at least that’s what he wants people to believe so he can earn enough cash from his high profile exorcisms to take care of his ailing father. The problem is, not everyone’s happy with Caden’s star status, particularly Remy Martin, a high ranking member of the International Order of Exorcists, who suspects the truth, that these Hollywood exorcisms are staged with the help of Caden’s demon BFF, Dan.
So when a real exorcism goes bad and a nasty demon jumps bodies, the crap hits the supernatural fan. The Order strips Caden of his exorcism license right before he discovers the unleashed demon is one he knows well, very well. This demon is hell bent on destroying Caden’s life and everyone else who gets in his way. Now with the help of his demon buddy, and Caden’s girlfriend Aspen Spencer, a necromancer in training, Caden must defy the Order, track down the rogue demon and send him back to hell before it’s too late.
What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?
Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminal’s point of view.
And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.
In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?
Thank you, Amanda, for putting together such a great list! Now it’s time for me to add my own recommendation:
pas de deux: (NOUN: pl. pas de deux)
1. A dance for two, especially a dance in ballet consisting of an entrée and adagio, a variation for each dancer, and a coda.
2. A close relationship between two people or things, as during an activity.
pas de death (NOUN: yeah … totally made up)
1. A dance of death.
2. When Dani Spevak stumbles over a dead body and gets into another crazy situation.
Aspiring ballerina Dani Spevak is back home for the summer, recovering from an injury. What was supposed to be a simple day trip into New York City to visit her friends at the Manhattan Ballet Conservatory turns deadly when Dani discovers that the world of professional dance can be cutthroat — literally.
Please give us your recommendations for teens and tweens in the comments, all genres welcome! One lucky commenter will get a copy of PAS DE DEATH and their pick of one of the books Amanda recommended.
As the mother of a twelve-year-old voracious reader, I can’t keep up with my daughter’s need for books. Thankfully, I have friends who are wonderful Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction authors whom I rely on to recommend books. Thanks to my friends, my daughter and teenaged nieces think I’m a genius for selecting books.
My daughter adores Amanda Brice’s Dani Spevak middle grade mysteries. After reading the first book, Code Name: Dancer she couldn’t wait for the sequel. The short story in Eternal Spring helped to tide her over as she waited for Pointe of No Return to be released in Kindle format. Now she’s devoured Pointe, and is ready for more.
Summer starts in my house tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. and I need help keeping my kid in books for the next ten weeks. Thankfully, Amanda Brice has come to my rescue.
To thank Amanda for her help, I’m giving a copy of Pointe of No Return and one of the books she recommends below (winner’s choice) to one lucky commenter.
First I want to say thank you to Rachel and the rest of the Kiss & Thrill ladies for hosting me today. It’s an awesome blog and it’s so much fun to be here to discuss reading suggestions for your tweens and teens.
Now that school is out (or will be shortly), moms and dads across the country are faced with the task of what to do with their kids for the next 2 months or so. I can’t help you with summer camps or childcare or occupying their every waking hour, but in keeping with the suspense theme of this website, I can help provide you with a list of awesome YA and middle grade mysteries.
These books are in no particular order, so don’t try to interpret it as a ranking of preference. But they’re some of my faves – both classic and modern, and I hope they’ll become your kids’ faves, too.
For the tweens:
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
When an eccentric millionaire dies mysteriously, sixteen very unlikely people are gathered together for the reading of the will…and what a will it is!
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere she wants to run to somewhere–to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and preferably elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing that her younger brother, Jamie, has money and thus can help her with the serious cash flow problem she invites him along.
Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie, find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at an auction for a bargain price of $250. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it? Claudia is determined to find out. This quest leads Claudia to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.
Alex Rider: Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
When his guardian dies in suspicious circumstances, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider finds his world turned upside down. Forcibly recruited into MI6, Alex has to take part in grueling SAS training exercises. Then, armed with his own special set of secret gadgets, he’s off on his first mission to Cornwall, where Middle-Eastern multi-billionaire Herod Sayle is producing his state-of-the-art Stormbreaker computers. Sayle has offered to give one free to every school in the country – but there’s more to the gift than meets the eye.
Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics by John Feinstein
Bestselling sportswriter and Edgar Award winner John Feinstein is back with another sports mystery featuring Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson—this one set at the summer Olympics in London. In this book, Susan Carol isn’t a reporter—she’s an Olympian, competing as a swimmer at her first Olympic games. Stevie is both proud and envious of her athletic prowess. And he’s worried by the agents and sponsors and media all wanting to get up close and personal with Susan Carol. But the more disturbing question becomes—how far might they go to ensure that America’s newest Olympic darling wins gold?
Hot Ticket by Tracy Marchini
Hot tickets could be awarded for doing something cool, saying something funny, or sometimes even just wearing something the ticket dispenser liked. All authentic hot tickets were two inch by six inch rectangles made from this orange cardboard material, with “HOT TICKET” written in big bold letters at the top. Hot tickets first started becoming popular about a month after school started. Then there was this rash of copycat tickets on regular paper, but people just tossed those in the trash. Everybody could figure out it was one of their friends that made it anyway. But an authentic ticket – that was something you kept.
Some people had their lockers decorated in hot and shame tickets. Some people kept their hot tickets at home to prevent theft.
If I got a hot ticket, I would definitely keep it taped on the inside door of my locker. Right now my locker only had a locker mirror, a picture of Lucy and I from my birthday party at Six Flags and these annoying cat stickers from the person who had my locker before me.
Fifth grade did not prepare me for this at all.
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham
In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he’s only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he’s one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk — and a lot about the law. He dreams of a life in the courtroom. But he finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much — maybe too much — he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth. The stakes are high, but Theo won’t stop until justice is served.
For the teens:
Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday
First I find out that my boyfriend is cheating on me. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And now he’s depending on me to clear his name. Seriously?
As much as I wouldn’t mind watching him squirm, I know that he’s innocent. So I’m brushing off my previously untapped detective skills and getting down to business. But I keep tripping over dead bodies and I’m still no closer to figuring out who did it. And what’s worse: all signs seem to point to me as the killer’s next victim.
I really need to pick a better boyfriend next time.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.
Thirteen Reasons Why is the gripping, addictive international bestseller that has changed lives the world over. It’s an unrelenting modern classic.
The Twin’s Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Lucy Sexton is stunned when her mother’s identical twin sister shows up at the family’s front door one day. Separated at birth, the two women have had dramatically different upbringings, and Lucy’s mother, Aliese, will do anything to make it up to Helen-including taking Helen into their home and turning her into a lady that all of society will admire. Aunt Helen’s transformation is remarkable. But is it just Lucy’s imagination, or does Helen seem to enjoy being mistaken for Lucy’s mother? Then, on New Year’s Day, Lucy is horrified to find her aunt and mother tied to chairs in the parlor. One of them has been brutally murdered-but which twin has died? Surely her daughter will know…
Filled with shocking twists and turns, The Twin’s Daughter is an engrossing gothic novel of betrayals and secrets that will keep readers guessing until the end.
Heist Society by Ally Carter
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own–scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.
Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help. For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history–or at least her family’s (very crooked) history.
Revenge of the Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale
I, the flawless Aspen Brooks, was born to be Homecoming Queen. I’ve prepped for it like some kids do the SAT. So can someone please tell me why the crown was given to my evil nemesis?
As if that wasn’t bad enough, somebody seems out to get me. Locker vandalism, a slashed tire, and horrendous lipstick graffiti are just a few of the ways someone is trying to get under my blemish-free skin. (And I’m not even going to mention how the biggest geek in school kissed me, and I didn’t hate it.)
But things start getting serious when girls begin disappearing. I can’t be worrying about tiaras or crushing on a geek when the detective on the case is completely clueless. I have to save the day, all while looking fabulous.
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world…and the imprints that attach to their killers.
Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer…and becoming his prey herself.
Kings & Queens by Courtney Vail
Seventeen-year-old Majesty Alistair wants police to look further into her father’s fatal car wreck, hopes the baseball team she manages can reclaim the state crown, aches for Derek…or, no…maybe Alec…maybe. And she mostly wishes to retract the hateful words she said to her dad right before slamming the door in his face, only to never see him again.
All her desires get sidelined, though, when she overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. She doubts cops will follow up on her tip since they’re sick of her coming around with notions of possible crimes-in-the-works. And it’s not like she cries wolf. Not really. They’d be freaked too, but they’re not the ones suffering from bloody dreams that hint at disaster like some crazy, street guy forecasting the Apocalypse.
So, she does what any habitual winner with zero cred would do…try to I.D. the nutjobs before they act. But, when their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and even friends start looking suspect, the truth and her actions threaten to haunt her forever, especially since she’s left with blood on her hands, the blood of someone she loves.
Thank you, Amanda for these wonderful recommendations! This is bound to keep my daughter busy for a few weeks at least. 🙂
And now it’s our readers’ turn to make their own recommendations. What Middle Grade or Young Adult book do you recommend? We’re opening up the genres for the question, so you don’t have to recommend mysteries, although I’d love to see more mystery recommendations if you have them!
One lucky commenter will win a copy of one of the books Amanda recommended (winner’s choice) plus a copy of my daughter’s recommendation, Pointe of No Return. The winner will be announced on Thursday and must provide a U.S. or Canadian address within ten days to claim their prize.
Pointe of No Return by Amanda Brice
Aspiring ballerina Dani Spevak’s visions of sugar plums are dashed when she’s assigned to understudy her nemesis, Hadley Taylor, in the Nutcracker. Pretty, popular, and rich, that girl has all the luck. Or so she thought.
When Hadley mysteriously disappears with opening night just around the corner, Dani can’t sit idly by, even if it means losing the part. Now she’s running all over Phoenix in a race against the clock. From reality TV trophy wives to sleazy real estate developers to a possible drug ring, the cast of suspects begins to add up. Will she find Hadley before the curtain rises?