Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.
Last summer, we celebrated the theme on Crime, Thriller, Mysteries, and Puzzles in Literature. I’m sharing eight middle grade titles I read a couple of months ago but was unable to feature it in time for our theme. Have you read any of these books?
“Quinn Martin and Kara Cawston have been best friends since kindergarten, so when Kara and her family are about to move away, Quinn joins the Cawstons on one last trip west to Nevada. They stop at the first hotel they see, an old Victorian that instantly gives Quinn the creeps. She begins to notice disturbing things happening around them, and soon Kara’s parents and brother mysteriously disappear. The girls are left alone to navigate strange guests, hallways that twist back on themselves, and a particularly nasty surprise lurking beneath the floorboards. Will the girls be able to solve the mystery of what happened to Kara’s family and escape, or will they remain stranded forever at the Inn Between?”
The Inn Between was an Amazon Best Book of the Month Editor’s Choice Pick. It’s a haunting story that brings to mind Stephen King’s The Shining because of the setting. It’s a quick read for anyone who likes to scare themselves silly.
“Orphan Elizabeth Somers’s malevolent aunt Purdy and uncle Burlap ship her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel, owned by the peculiar Norbridge Falls. Upon arrival, Elizabeth quickly discovers that Winterhouse has many charms—most notably its massive library. It’s not long before she locates a magical book of puzzles that will unlock a mystery involving Norbridge and his sinister family. But as she uncovers the hotel’s secrets, Elizabeth starts to realize that she is somehow connected to Winterhouse, for better or for worse.”
With the mention of familiar book titles—there were a lot, believe me—and a mystery involving a book about games and puzzles called A Guide for Children, Winterhouse appeals to bibliophiles of all ages.
“Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked, derailing the launch of his epic new game. Then she and her friend James discover an odd clue, which leads them to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this special prize, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before his attackers find them.”
This was a fun read. I was particularly intrigued by the Book Scavenger game itself. It sure sounds like a lot of fun for people who like to read and collect books!
“It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smugglers’ inn is always quiet during this season, and Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon, Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves.”
This book had me at “smugglers’ inn.” It has just the right mix of mystery and ghost story.
“When Kyle learns that the world’s most famous game maker has designed the town’s new library and is having an invitation-only lock-in on the first night, he is determined to be there. But the tricky part isn’t getting into the library—it’s getting out. Kyle’s going to need all his smarts, because a good roll of dice or lucky draw of the cards is not enough to win in Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.”
A Willy Wonka for bibliophiles! How delightful! The book titles mentioned in the story got me all giddy. There are puzzles, of course, a competition, a scheming overachiever, and a good mix of friendship and teamwork. Fun read altogether!
“Melissa is a nobody. Wilf is a slacker. Bondi is a show-off. At least that’s what their middle school teachers think. To everyone’s surprise, they are the three students chosen to compete for a ten-thousand-dollar scholarship, solving clues that lead them to various locations around Chicago. At first the three contestants work independently, but it doesn’t take long before each begins to wonder whether the competition is a sham. It’s only by secretly joining forces and using their unique talents that the trio is able to uncover the truth behind the Ambrose Deception—a truth that involves a lot more than just a scholarship.”
This book is a wonderful tribute to the beautiful city of Chicago and a nice treat to mystery-loving and clue-solving readers.
“Guinevere St. Clair is going to be a lawyer. She was the fastest girl in New York City. She knows everything there is to know about the brain. And now that she’s living in Crow, Iowa, she wants to ride into her first day of school on a cow named Willowdale Princess Deon Dawn. But Gwyn isn’t in Crow, Iowa, just for royal cows. Her family has moved there, where her parents grew up, in the hopes of jogging her mother Vienna’s memory. Vienna has been suffering from memory loss since Gwyn was four. She can no longer remember anything past the age of thirteen, not even that she has two young daughters. Gwyn’s father is obsessed with finding out everything he can to help his wife, but Gwyn’s focused on problems that seem a little more within her reach. Like proving that the very strange Gaysie Cutter who lives next door is behind the disappearance of her only friend, Wilbur Truesdale.”
Gwyn was a character that is hard to like. You have to give it to her, though, because she was having a hard time adjusting with the long-term effects of her mom’s brain injury. This book involves a certain kind of mystery. It also sends a powerful message about kindness and withholding judgment against people whose stories we don’t really know about.
“A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!”
The books in this post appeared in no particular order. However, I do have a soft spot for Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game, which won the Newbery Medal award in 1979. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. The Westing Game is the last book that Ellen Raskin wrote before her illness claimed her life in 1984. This was my fourth time reading the book. Always a pleasure to be part of Samuel W. Westing’s game.