Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Book Review Club (September 2019)

And just like that, summer is over! Welcome to the September 2019 edition of The Book Review Club. We have reviews of a variety of books.  You know our goal: topple your to-be-read pile! Interestingly, there are more reviews of nonfiction books than usual. Enjoy!

by Margaret Peterson Haddix 
(middle grade, sci fi, mystery)

The Strangers is, hands down, one of the best middle-grade mysteries I've read in a while.

The Greystone siblings (Chess--12 yrs, Emma--10 yrs and Finn--8 yrs) all get along and live happily with their mother in Ohio. Until the day they come home from school to find their mother distraught over a news story. Three siblings in Arizona with the same names, ages and birthdates as the Greystone kids have been kidnapped. WEIRD. The next day their mom goes on a business trip,  but leaves behind her cell phone, laptop and a coded letter for her children. WEIRDER. Chess, Emma, Finn and their new friend, Natalie, take a wrong turn in the Greystone basement and find themselves in an alternate universe. WEIRDEST!

Chapters are told in alternating voices, which I love. Each sibling has a distinct voice and a distinct take on how to interpret clues and find their mother. It warms the heart to see how these kids work together, appreciating each other's strengths. The Strangers offers twists and turns and switchbacks and red herrings and clues galore. Which I also love. And...the book ends on a cliffhanger. Which I normally don't love, but do appreciate this time. The story is so dense and intense I don't think it could've been tied up properly in one book. Of course, now I'm waiting impatiently for The Deceivers (Greystone Secrets #2), which comes out in about a year!

On a personal note, I had a hard time tying up the middle-grade mystery I'm working on. I may just take a page out of Margaret Peterson Haddix's book (ha, ha!) and leave a couple of loose ends. I'll decide for sure after plowing through this next revision.

(Dear FCC: I borrowed The Strangers from my local library. Then, our very cute goldendoodle puppy, Sadie, developed a taste for the book and chewed up a corner. I ended up buying a new copy for the library and keeping the munched-on version for myself. )  

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!


                          by MT Anderson & Eugene Yelchin (MG, fantasy)

Phyllis Wheeler: THE BOOK OF THE KING by Jerry B Jenkins & Chris Fabry (MG, fantasy)

Sarah Laurence: ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS by Francesca Zappia (YA, fiction/hybrid graphic)


Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: UNDER COLD STONE by Vicki Delaney (mystery)


Linda McLaughlin: THE LITTLE BOOK OF TOURISTS IN ICELAND by Alda Sigmundsdottir
                                THE LITTLE BOOK OF ICELANDIC by Alda Sigmundsdottir (travel)

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving:MY FRIEND ANNA by Rachel DeLoache Williams (memoir)

Margy Lutz: OUT OF THE SILENCE by Eduardo Straugh & Mireya Soriano (memoir)

Patti Abbott:  WHAT THE EYES DON'T SEE by Mona Hanna-Attisha

Ray Potthoff: A PASSIONFRUIT COOKBOOK by Patrick Jesse Pons-Worley
                       (cookbook with some history)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


  1. I love this review! I'm not usually a fan of books that end on cliffhangers either but this one sounds like that particular "flaw" can be forgiven in this case.

    You gotta be careful what you say around your fur babies because it sounds like you might have said you devoured this book in front of Sadie and she wanted in on it. ;)

  2. Lucy: Ha, ha!! That may well be what happened!

  3. I'm so glad to hear about a book you loved! Thank you for sharing! I'll have to look for it in my library.

  4. Phyllis, as a fellow reading of middle grade, you'll love this mystery (series)!

  5. Good luck with your latest book!
    This sounds fun!

  6. It seems so weird to have to leave an FCC disclosure statement in a book review. I guess since I'm in Canada the FCC isn't in charge of my reading and reviewing choices. - Margy

  7. Margy, at first, I was kind of having fun with it. But, except for this month ;), I'm tired of it. I'm going to move the disclosure to the sidebar.

  8. Great review! The Strangers sounds like fine inspiration and real life doesn't always tie into neat ends either. Leave something for your sequel too?

    Sorry to be late to visit. Our internet network crashed and it took me days to fix it. After I've done my Spanish homework online (first week of class), I'll catch up on blog visits. Thanks for hosting!

  9. It's true; real life doesn't tie up nice and neatly either. You fixed your own internet?! You are multi-talented!


Comments are always welcome!