Sunday, January 3, 2016

Book Review: The Tiara on the Terrace by Kristen Kittscher (Young and Yang #2)



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Well drawn characters and a perfectly executed mystery
Cons: Spoils the mystery in the first book.
The Bottom Line:
Parade of suspects
In mystery at parade
All will enjoy it




Death by S’more

Two and a half years ago, I was offered the ARC for a wonderful middle grade mystery.  Naturally, when Kristen Kittscher. offered me an ARC of her second novel, I jumped at the chance.  The Tiara on the Terrace is a wonderful follow up to her great debut.

The town of Luna Vista is still reeling from what Sophie Young, Grace Yang, and Trista Bottoms discovered just a couple of months ago and the negative publicity it has gotten their town.  But as the winter solstice approaches, they hope to put that all behind them.  It’s time for the Winter Sun Festival, a huge event that still gets media coverage even if it isn’t as much as it used to be.  This is an anniversary year, and the town is hoping that the publicity behind their 125th annual parade will put them in a favorable light again.

As with most kids in Jr. High and High School, Sophie, Grace, and Trista are spending the week before the parade helping build the giant floats.  This particular morning, however, their work is halted when Jim Steptoe, the parade president for the year, is found dead behind the campfire on the Girl Scouts’ float.  It is quickly determined that he has hit over the head by the s’more created for the float.  While the adults are quick to label it a tragic accident, Trista knows that it couldn’t have happened accidentally.  The trio have no choice but to investigate themselves, but they quickly realize that their list of suspects could also contain the next victim.  Can they figure out what is happening before tragedy strikes again?

Once again, this book is a wonderfully executed mix of delightful characters and well thought out plot.  The main characters are thirteen-year-old girls, and the author never forgets that but I mean that in a good way.  While they throw themselves into this mystery, there are still moments when they act their age.  Yet they are always able to work through their differences realistically and grow as a result.  I loved them, and I think the target age will as well.

This book is filled with a large cast, and I will admit it took me a little bit to keep them all straight, but I was quickly able to do that thanks to the great characterization.  All of them are distinct people who have valid motives for the murder.

Which brings us to the plot.  There are more than enough red herrings that I couldn’t sniff out the real clues until Sophie put things together at the end, but everything made perfect sense when she figured it out.  Just like in the first book, the climax was a page turner.  I reached it on my lunch hour and was rushing to make sure everyone was safe before I had to go back to a meeting.

The Winter Sun Festival is loosely inspired by the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, and I enjoyed that aspect of the book as well.  It helped set the scene, although many details have been fictionalized for this novel (obviously).

Further adding to my enjoyment, a couple of scenes had me laughing.

My only warning is that this book spoils the previous book in the series.  Trust me, you want to read that book first because you need to read it unspoiled.  But that is my only issue with this book at all, and isn’t an issue for you since both books are well worth reading.

While the target may be middle grade students, anyone who enjoys a well thought out mystery will love The Tiara on the Terrace.  It’s a fun page turner with great characters and a fantastic ending.  Pick up this series and you will not be disappointed.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

13 comments:

  1. This sounds like a fun series! I love MG books but neglected the genre terrible last year. I'm hoping to make up for it this year!

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    1. It's easy for MG books to get buried in the TBR pile isn't it? I don't recommend you do that with these books at all.

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  2. I haven't heard of this series so thanks for the review. I've placed it high on my list of books to read for 2016.

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    1. It is a series well worth putting high on a TBR list.

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  3. Gosh, I read WIG IN THE WINDOW and it was fabulous; so I know that I NEED to read this one. Thanks for the reminder!

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  4. Not only is this a great series for middle grade readers, but the author, Kristen Kittscher, is a really nice person. Deserves success!

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    1. Yes, I've met her a few times, and she is a very nice person.

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  5. Thanks for sharing this, Mark. I am working on building the middle grade collection at the school I am at (second year there). And this sounds like a perfect (perfect!) fit for some of my students! Will be sure to get these.

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    1. Glad I could help you find these books. Hope your students enjoy.

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  6. I love books that make you laugh out loud. Especially a mystery. :-)

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    1. I love my humorous mysteries as well.

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  7. Not heard of this series but I think I need to check it out. :)

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