Thursday, May 29, 2014

Armchair BEA: Middle Grade/Young Adult

It's Friday already!  How Armchair BEA has flown by.  Hard to believe it's our last full day.

However, today's book topic is one I'm very excited about.  As I said back on Monday, while I normally read cozy novels, I am getting back into middle grade fiction again, and I've been having a blast doing it.

Of course, I read middle grade books when I was a kid, and I have fond memories of The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, and Trixie Belden.  (See, my love of mysteries started earlier.)  I also read other genres.  I loved Elizabeth George Speare when I discovered her books in Jr. High.  While I never read them all, I did laugh at the Beverly Cleary books I read.  In 3rd grade, I was obsessed with Narnia.  Other favorites included Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and The Great Brain.  I also loved a sci-fi series written by Alfred Slote starting with My Robot Buddy.

Back then, my family went to the library every week, and I was always bring back more books than I could possibly read in the time we could check them out.  Not that it kept me from checking out even more the next week.

Not that I ever completely got out of middle grade.  When I was in high school, I got my younger brother hooked on The Accidental Detective Series by Sigmund Brouwer just because I'd heard great things about them.  Once he started raving about it, I started reading them, too, and I loved them.

And yes, I love Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.

But here are some of the others I've found in the last few years (with links to my reviews).

If you haven't found Michael Buckley, he has two great series out.  The Sisters Grimm (starts with The Fairy Tale Detectives) features Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, modern day descendants of the original Brothers Grimm.  They soon learn their family is tasked with keeping all the fairy tale characters we know and love in line, however it's not as easy as it sounds.  In his other series, we learn about a group of five NERDS who are tasked with keeping us safe from super villains.  Both are creative, fun, and addicting for all ages.

Last fall, I discovered Magic Marks the Spot, the debut from Caroline Carlson in her Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series.  It's got a feisty female main character, humor, pirates, humor, magic, twists, and humor.  I can no wait until the next one comes out.  And I mentioned the humor, right?

Shannon Messenger has a great fantasy series out called Keeper of the Lost Cities.  It has several staples of the middle grade fantasy genre these days, but she keeps it fresh and fun with pure imagination and great characters.  For the YA crowd, she also writes the Let the Sky Fall series.

In the fractured fairy tale genre, there's Half Upon a Time by James Riley which combines fairy tale characters in new ways with a nice twist of sarcasm.

Another series featuring pirates and crazy adventures is The Chronicles of Egg by Geoff Rodkey.  They start with Deadweather and Sunrise and are a fun ride.

I also have to give a huge shout out to Stuart Gibbs.  I've been a fan since his very first book, Belly Up.  He has something different - parents who are involved in the story without taking away from the main character being the hero.  It's nice to see.  He's just released a sequel to that book as well as The Last Musketeer trilogy and Spy School.

Last summer, I got to read The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher.  The twists and turns in this one were wonderful, and I had no clue what was coming until the end.

And there's a new series for kids with an interest in science or creating their own gadgets - Nick and Tesla.  They are co-written by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith.  The first is Nick and Tesla's High Voltage Danger Lab.  Each book includes some gadgets you can build on your own later.

Finally, I have to give mention the books of Marlane Kennedy.  She's got a series coming out soon, but several years ago she wrote two stand alones that were outstanding - Me and the Pumpkin Queen and The Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes.

Just in case this wasn't overwhelming enough for you, I've got to give you one more link.  Shannon Messenger (mentioned above) hosts a weekly event - Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - on her blog.  It's a collection each week of new middle grade reviews, interviews, etc.  If you are looking for recommendations or post reviews yourself, this is a great weekly event to be a part of.

28 comments:

  1. You have a great list of middle grade books here. I think I am most intrigued by Magic Marks the Spot. I must check it out. Thanks for all the great recommendations.

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    1. While I recommend all of these books, I can't recommend MMtS highly enough. It was completely fun from start to finish.

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  2. I love how many people had a Narnia obsessed phase!

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    1. It's a series worth obsessing over!

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  3. I loved The Wig in the Window, too! It's hard to find well-written middle grade mysteries - I hope the author will write more.

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    1. She is working on a sequel. I think the target publication date is next fall, but it is in the works.

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  4. Yay! I love it when I see someone else mention Trixie. They were my favorite childhood books and I collect them now. :)

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    1. I still have mine, and I hope to reread and review a few of them in the coming months. I've already reviewed 1-23.

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    2. Awesome!! I had the full set, but gave them to a "friend" to hold on to when I had to move and she got rid of them. If she was no longer a friend for other reasons, she would have been for that one, losing them all really hurt!! I at least have my favorites back (3, 9, 7). :) I have about 20 now, but at least 5 are doubles. I just pick any up I see any time.

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    3. 3 is my favorite as well, followed closely by 13.

      I tend to buy any I see as well to pass on to people who need them.

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  5. Great list with a lot of titles that should keep me busy for a while.

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    1. Glad I can help. That's the idea, right?

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  6. Nice on the recommends! Some great ones....and now I just want to go home and do a bunch of re-reading, lol! Love, love the Michael Buckley series. You are reminding me to revisit some of my old favorites. Thank you!

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    1. Putting up that list made me want to sit down and reread some of my old favorites. Oh to find the time.

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  7. Excellent MG selections! Did you ever read The Mysterious Benedict Society series? That is one of the top ones for me.

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    1. I had never heard of that book. Off to look it up now. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  8. I don't read much Middle Grade, but I feel like I'm really missing out if I don't get to Percy Jackson at some point. Great list of new books to try!

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    1. The Percy Jackson books can be hit or miss. Some are great, some are just okay. Overall, I really have enjoyed them.

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  9. Great list of books! And thanks for the link to the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday feature!

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    1. You are welcome. I'd love to see MMGM grow.

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  10. I read all the Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Bobsey Twins books as a young one. LOVED them!

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    1. I missed the Bobsey Twins somehow, but I certainly loved the others.

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  11. I would have loved to have a friend growing up that loved Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Encyclopedia Brown and the Hardy Boys like I did. And Lois Lowry - read her ages ago before all the recent hype (well-deserved).
    I snagged a few new suggestions.

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    1. Very few of my friends read much either, so I was alone in loving those books.

      Hope you enjoy the books you found here.

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  12. I really need to start reading some MG so that I can read with my son. I'll add these to the list of books he might be interested in.

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    1. Sounds like you've got a perfect excuse to enjoy some MG to me. I wish I had an excuse like that.

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  13. Thank you for providing this great recommendation list! I'm loving the concept of the Nick and Tesla book...entertaining and informative, it sounds like!

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    1. Not quite informative, but definitely with some hands on, supervised projects to build later that I think kids will love doing. I know I would have wanted to as a kid.

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