These are some books I’ve read for my Ultimate Recommendation Project (as I mentioned here). I took out quite a few more books today, so I’m sure I’ll have more posts like this in the future!

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

★★★★

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Short, easy read. Theodora is self-sufficient and smart and her friendship with Bodhi is entertaining. The mystery is fun (and the history, ranging from Renaissance painters to art stolen by Nazis, is wonderfully complex for a kid’s book), though wrapped up too neatly in a way that I would not accept in an adult book. Would recommend for kids in middle school, though I think it’s also accessible for younger kids.

Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams

★★★★★

Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams

A longer novel; 407 pages in paperback. I really enjoyed this one. It reminded me of being a kid devouring Nancy Drews. My main concern is that the story reads a bit dated; it was released around 2005 and does not feel like it’s taking place in 2015. Ingrid is a great character, though. She has personality and hobbies and comes off as a fully rounded character. The mystery is tense and there is a real sense of danger when characters are in peril. The author has set up a few plotlines that will obviously be continued in later books. I would recommend this book for both middle schoolers and teens.

Vanishing Acts by Philip Margolin and Ami Margolin Rome

★★

Vanishing Acts by Philip Margolin and Ami Margolin Rome

I don’t remember a single thing about this book, it was so boring. Characters were flat, mystery started well but ended dumb, the plotline with her friend did not hold my attention. Everything was told, not shown. Adults were constantly making unrealistic and distracting “As you know” statements to explain things to the reader. I might recommend this to a young reader, but the story and writing are too simple for older readers.

The Wig in the Window by  Kristen Kittscher

★★★★★

The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher

I waffled between four and five stars for this. I decided that the mystery was twisty and turny enough to warrant the full five! It really was – the authors manages to flip your perceptions on their head several times in the course of the story. Sophie’s an enjoyable POV character, and her friendship – and friendship troubles! – with Grace ring true. (Also with Trista, who’s amazing!) There were a lot of times in the book I wanted to scream at the girls to TELL AN ADULT about what was going on, but that probably won’t be as distracting to young readers! I would happily recommend this to middle schoolers.

Shakespeare's Secret by Elise Broach

★★★

Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach

I feel like the cover makes this book look more serious than it is. I enjoyed the Shakespeare history and themes because I enjoy those things, but I wonder if kids will find them as interesting. I didn’t find it particularly suspenseful; there was no sense of any serious consequences. The story was very simple. This is another story that was wrapped up too neatly. Middle schoolers might enjoy this, though I think it’s better aimed at younger readers.

The Girl From Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson

★★★★★

The Girl From Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson

Here’s another one I enjoyed. Abbey is a character who has suffered a great loss – her father’s in a coma, they’ve lost all their money, and she has to live with her horrible aunt and uncle – and is dealing with it the best she can. Her relationship with Bee is lovely, and helps both girls deal with losses. There’s also a fascinating racial issue – Bee is a descendant of the slaves owned by Abbey’s ancestors, and her family now owns Abbey’s home. This is addressed with care, but doesn’t shy away from the issue. The book has a great Southern atmosphere, and the side characters are all enjoyable. I would definitely recommend it to middle schoolers and adventurous younger readers.

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