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?