RILEY MACK STIRS UP MORE TROUBLE for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

It’s the start of another year of reviews for MMGM here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE and time to announce the winners of my first giveaway. As announced last week ROSI HOLLINBECK won the first part of the contest and a $25 Visa Gift Card. You can catch Rosi’s fun and informative blog at THE WRITE STUFF.

Here are the results of the drawing for part two of the ARE YOU KIDDING? contest:

A Dozen Hardback MG Books: SA LARSEN (Find her blog here)

$25 Visa Gift Card: MARCIA STRYKOWSKI (Find her blog here)

$25 Amazon Gift Card: MICHAEL GETTEL-GILMARTIN (Find his blog here)

Congratulations to all and once you send me your address, I’ll send out your prize. What’s next? I’m planning already!

Now, let’s jump into this week’s review. I’m a bit late getting to this series as it has been buried on my TBR list for a year. I chose to read the second book (The first, RILEY MACK AND OTHER KNOWN TROUBLEMAKERS was released in 2012). It didn’t matter that I’d missed that one as character backgrounds are slipped in along the way.

Okay, let me get a few things out of the way. The plot is far-fetched as are many of the adult and child characters. I was shaking 9780062202970_p0_v2_s260x420my head a few times at the unbelievable dialog on many of the pages. Similar to the recent GREAT GREENE HEIST, I moved beyond those concerns  and just enjoyed the story. The tale borders on the impossible in more ways than one, but it’s fun following Riley Mack as he attempts to make right too many wrongs.


FULL PLOT (From Amazon):

Briana Bloomfield, the talent Jake Lowenstein, the genius “Mongo,” the muscle Jamal Wilson, the fifth grader —and—Riley Mack, the fearless leader

Together, these five are the Known Troublemakers, stirring up trouble in the name of justice. Wherever a wrong needs righting or an innocent kid needs protecting, Riley and his friends will be there, ready to use their problem-causing expertise for the greater good.

Only this time, injustice strikes a little too close to home. School’s out for the summer, and somebody’s polluting the gang’s favorite swimming hole. And if that wasn’t enough to ruin the vacation, one of the Troublemakers is in serious trouble, and all of Riley’s efforts to help are only making things worse. With ten thousand dollars and the fate of his friends and family on the line, Riley will have to think fast if he hopes to pull off his most daring caper yet!


  1. Riley has a touching relationship with his dad who is stationed in Afghanistan. It’s what so many kids have to go through in the U.S. as a parent they adore is so far away. Riley mimics his dad’s army way of communicating, especially in the few opportunities they get to talk with each other.
  2. The humor had me laughing several times. Most of it comes from Riley’s mom or one of the other adult characters. The gags might go over a young reader’s head. For example, would they giggle at Mrs’ Mack’s request of a screwdriver (the kind used for screws) and everyone mistakenly assumes she’s ordering a drink by that name. I doubt it, but it was funny.
  3. Despite failing numerous times, Riley keeps coming up with new ideas. Success can only happen if you keep trying.
  4. The mystery in the story does its job. The outcome will have you guessing until that AHA moment when the various subplots come together to make a satisfying whole.
  5. Plenty of technology here for tech loving kids.


Riley Mack’s extraordinary awesome talents weren’t the kind he could showcase on TV or at a school talent show.

If he did, he might end up in detention hall.

For life.


Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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13 Responses to RILEY MACK STIRS UP MORE TROUBLE for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. swlothian says:

    I enjoyed your review. It sounds like a fun read. I like books/movies that have different levels of humor that can entertain readers/viewers in different ways

  2. Not sure about this one. But glad you were able to get beyond shaking your head to enjoy this. And congrats on so many reviews. Sorry I missed last week’s post.

  3. msyingling says:

    I’ll have to brush this one off and get it out there today. It had its moments– the students are never as perturbed by children-saving-the-day as I am. Congrats on the 52 reviews! Takes a lot of dedication!

  4. salarsen says:

    Holy … I won all those books!?? Me? That is one awesome way to welcome a Monday morning. Thank you so much, Greg! I’m excited, but even more so for my ten year old. He’ll be besides himself to read them all.

  5. Another great review and I’m very excited to see my name listed as a winner in your contest–thank you so much! 🙂

  6. Janet Smart says:

    Sometimes books have me shaking my head, too. I enjoy mysteries and humor in books. Thanks for the review.

  7. I love Chris Grabenstein! Thanks for this review–I hadn’t heard of this book. Also: Terribly jealous of SA Larsen, of course, but I’ll get over it. Great giveaway!

  8. Mark says:

    I read and enjoyed both books in the series. Unfortunately, they didn’t sell well so we won’t get to see Riley save the day once and for all against the series villains.

    Unrealistic parts? I didn’t care about that since it comes with the Middle Grade territory. I viewed it as a MG caper, and capers are never super realistic, but I enjoy them anyway.

  9. jennienzor says:

    This sounds intriguing. I felt similarly about the Great Greene Heist, while I enjoyed it at times, it didn’t seem believable. But I enjoy mysteries like this, so I’ll have to check this out.

  10. Joanne Fritz says:

    Had to laugh at you shaking your head over the far-fetched plot and characters, but glad you got beyond that to enjoy the story. And, thankfully, things like that don’t usually bother kid readers.

    Congrats to all those winners. So sorry I missed that giveaway. But congrats on 52 reviews in one year. Most impressive.

  11. Congrats to all the winners and thanks for making me one of them! I have read several Riley Mack books and enjoyed them all. I will have to check this one out as well. Thanks for the review.

  12. I hadn’t heard of this series. Will have to check it out!

  13. warrchick says:

    I tend to be a stickler for solid characters and authentic voice, so this one may present a problem for me. On the other hand, I absolutely adore a good plot that I can’t unravel before its time, and that fav line you’ve pulled out is to die for. So, it’s going on the TBR pile. Thanks for the recommend!

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