Here are some shorter musings on recent MG reads.
Beast & Crown by Joel Ross
I wasn't a huge fan of Ross' first works. It was a me thing. I've never been super into dystopia, and I was well and truly done with it by the time his first two books came out. This was much more my type of story. It is a quest fantasy with a great cast of characters to love and root for. The heart of this team is Ji, who is a snarky lying thief. (And yes, that is my character weak spot.) There is a great deal of treachery and plot twists. Definitely worth an addition to any MG shelves. I was a bit thrown out of the story due to the world being a weird mix of British manors and California culture, but the target audience is not going to notice that as much.
A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander
A fun, quick read about kids who have to save their town from a malevolent ghost. This is one of those MG books where the adults can't do what needs to be done and the kids rise to the occasion. It takes place in a world where hauntings or normal except in this one town. The mystery revolves around figuring out why and why that seems to be suddenly changing. The characters are easy to identify with and the world is built enough to understand without going into too much detail. I would've liked to see more resolution on a couple of points on the plot and character development though.
Rules for Thieves by Alexandra Ott
For kids who can't get enough of adventure fantasies, Rules for Thieves is a fun one to have on hand. There is a Thieves Guild, a murder, intrigue, mysterious identities, a strong fierce heroine, and a sneaky accomplice. From a personal perspective, I felt the whole thing could have been more layered and fleshed out. The world-building is scant and the characterization is fairly basic. I was also not enamored of that end. I prefer books that have more closure (even when they are getting a sequel).