An Interview with author, Anna Meriano

Happy Friday Everyone! Joining us today is Anna Meriano, author of the LOVE SUGAR MAGIC series. Here’s a quick background:

The series centers on Leo Logroño, the youngest in a family of Mexican-American sisters in small-town Rose Hill, Texas. Leo’s family runs the beloved Amor y Azucar panaderia, and it’s truly a magical place. TRULY. Little Leo learns in book one that she and her sisters are the next generation of bakery brujas, and each of them is imbued with a special power of her own. But no one told Leo, because she’s too young to use her magic. So of course she dives headfirst into it, and chaos ensues. In book three, titled A Mixture of Mischief (released this past February 4), it’s spring in Rose Hill, and the bakery’s got some stiff competition in the new Honeybees across town. Plus, Leo still hasn’t figured out what her magical powers are. Will a visit from her long lost Abuelo finally clear things up?

Hi Anna! Thanks for joining us on ALWAYS in the MIDDLE.

Tell us about your journey. How did a girl from Texas end up being a writer?

AnnamerianoI started writing at a young age (like, “drawing squiggles on a sheet of paper and calling it a story” young), and officially decided I wanted to become an author around fourth or fifth grade when I read The School Story by Andrew Clements. I was lucky to have teachers and professors who let me write fiction for my finals, and parents who could support me when I went to graduate school in New York, and I was very lucky to meet CAKE Literary founders Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra who started me on the LOVE SUGAR MAGIC adventure.

It really is the connections you make in life that can make a difference. Was the original plan to make LOVE SUGAR MAGIC a series?

Yes! I think so! I’m 99% sure that was something I discussed with Dhonielle and Sona in our first ever meeting about the project. The idea of Leo discovering her family’s baking brujería opened up too many interesting avenues to be a standalone story.

Food is the centerpiece of this series. Does this come from your own culinary experiences?

Well, I am not a cook or a baker myself, but I do think food is intimately connected to family and culture, and many people have some connection with a certain food that makes them feel safe or loved. So I do put my feelings about food into the books, and I do give Leo’s family some signature dishes that my family also cooks (like the migas in the first book), but a lot of Leo’s food traditions are specific to a family of bakers, which my family is not.

Many of my readers are authors or on the road to being one. What does your writing process look like?

It looks a little different every time, but for this series I usually worked from an outline and wrote the manuscript in order from beginning to end by hand. Then I typed it all up, often while making large-scale changes like deleting scenes or fixing plot holes or switching the order of things. Then I got feedback and worked on revisions.

For this book specifically I also gave myself permission to throw in things just because I wanted to. Since it was the end of the trilogy, I let myself explore tangents and topics that had been on my mind while writing the other books, but had never made it in. I did still end up cutting some of those things, but others became important character motivations or even arcs.

Your main character, Leo, wants to discover her magical power. What would be the magic power you’d choose for yourself?

Oooh, no spoilers but I would really like to have Leo’s power… I would also definitely like Marisol’s power of conjuring up small items, which is the one I would actually have if I followed the rules of my own magic system. Or, if I could pick any power at all, I would like to have pyrokinesis like the Human Torch!

Yes, there are times Leo’s newfound ability would come in handy. What is on the horizon for your writing career?

I’m venturing into YA soon with a contemporary novel about a muggle quidditch team (title forthcoming), which is scheduled for fall of this year! I’m not sure yet what’s next for me in middle grade, but I’ve got several possible projects I’m excited about.

Thanks for your time, Anna. You can find Anna at https://www.annameriano.com/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AnnaMisboring.

Hurry back after the weekend for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and my review of LOVE SUGAR MAGIC A Mixture of Mischief. If you plan on posting something middle grade related next week here are the details on how to join the celebration:

All you have to do is blog about a middle grade book on a Monday (contests, author interviews, or anything middle grade related also count). Email me the title of the book or feature and a link to your blog at gpcolo[at]gmail[dot]com
Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book or author you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.
Thanks for spreading the middle grade love and for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and carried on here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.
Posted in Interviews, New Release | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

MMGM for February 3, 2020

          

Love is on the horizon and there’s a lot of love for MG books. Check out my review of PIPPA PARK RAISES HER GAME by Erin Yun right here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE (just click the heart!).

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, and Stitch-Metic celebrates her 2nd Blog Birthday! She has author guest posts from her most popular MMGM posts along with book prizes.

A touch of sadness hangs over our MMGM celebration today as long time contributor Suzanne Warr steps away from her blog, Tales From The Raven. She leaves us with one more spotlight on The Library of Ever, by Zeno Alexander.

Andrea Mack at That’s Another Story is back with us this week with our second review today of Pippa Park Raises Her Game by Erin Yun.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea has some mini-reviews for the January reading bingo.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL kicks off Black History month with a review of For Black Girls Like Me, a tender middle grade novel about interracial adoptions by Mariama J. Lockington.

A Garden of Books features Britfield and the Lost Crown by C.R. Stewart.

Rosi Hollinbeck reviews COUNTING TO PERFECT by Suzanne LeFleur. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

Stephanie Robinson on Fairday’s Blog is featuring The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson.

Susan Uhlig was amazed at the story of ALLIES by Alan Gratz which explores many pieces of D-Day. Written for ages 8 and up, older readers will also appreciate the book.

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has another fantastic MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her reviews the past week including 96 MILES.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun and get your own spot in the parade, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count–but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you’re featuring and a link to your blog at gpcolo (at) gmail (dot) com
(Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book you’re featuring)
You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.
Thanks for spreading the middle grade love and for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and carried on here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.
Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

PIPPA PARK RAISES HER GAME

It’s Another Month of Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays!

This debut from Erin Yun features Pippa’s first person narration as she tries to fit into her new private middle school. Unlike the other students with their makeup and fancy homes, Pippa hides the embarrassment of her upbringing and present situation by pretending she’s like the other kids. Let’s just say things don’t go as planned.

With her mother in Korea, Pippa lives with her older sister and husband. There’s pressure to do well both in basketball and in her classes. Failure means she’ll be asked to leave the school. A dominating group of girls and a crush on her math tutor provide the drama. It all turns into a realistic romp with a touch of mystery. Perfect for fifth grade on up (including interested adults), the 27 chapters flow by smoothly.

Great job, Erin! A sequel would be welcome.

PIPPAPARK.png

PUBLISHED: 2020 PAGE COUNT: 264 pages

THE OFFICIAL BACKGROUND

Life is full of great expectations for Korean American Pippa Park. So when she gets a mysterious basketball scholarship to Lakeview Private, she jumps at the chance to reinvent herself. At Lakeview, Pippa juggles old and new friends, a crush, and the pressure to perform at school while keeping her past and her family’s laundromat a secret from her elite classmates. When social media threatens Pippa’s persona, she wonders if she can keep it together.

laughingboyFIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUTlaughingboy

PIPPA PARK RAISES HER GAME

  1. I always call the teen and preteen years the “Oops” or “Whoops” time period. Kids often act first then realize when its too late what they did wrong. Pippa provides many ‘oops’ and readers will be nodding with familiarity.
  2. The cast of characters were perhaps too many, but each has a personality that surfaces in both good ways and bad. Some of the so called clique group break the usual stereotype and befriend Pippa.
  3. You feel Pippa’s passion for basketball, but it doesn’t dominate the story for anyone assuming this is a basketball book. It’s about the Korean culture and the tension of being the new kid in school.
  4. A nice plot twist when her crush has a far from perfect life than Pippa believed at first.
  5. The brother-in-law, Jung-Hwa, is the kindest and most sincere caregiver you’d ever hope for in a family. His dress and demeanor added special charm to the story.
About the Author
Debut author Erin Yun grew up in Frisco, Texas. She received her BFA in English from New York University and served as president of its policy debate team. This experience came in handy for her job as the debate consultant for the Tony-nominated Best Play on Broadway—What the Constitution Means to Me. Erin is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and has written reviews and articles for BookBrowse. She currently lives in New York City, and yes—she used to play basketball as a middle grader!
About Fabled Films and Fabled Films Press
Fabled Films is a publishing and entertainment company creating original content for young readers and middle-grade audiences. Fabled Films Press combines strong literary properties with high-quality production values to connect books with generations of parents and their children. Each property is supported by websites, educator guides, and activities for bookstores, educators, and librarians, as well as videos, social media content, and supplemental entertainment for additional platforms.
Thanks for stopping by. Comments are welcome below.
Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

AND THE WINNER IS…

A whole batch of great middle grade books!

It’s award season and I try to keep up with the almost daily announcements, focusing of course on middle grade. The CYBILS won’t reveal their winners until February 14th, but here are other announced awards. I included the book jacket description and one click on the image will take you to the publisher or book seller site.

John Newbery Medal & Coretta Scott King Award

newkidSeventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

Newbery Honor Books

Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in undefeatedthe United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.

9781250181428When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention.

Featuring eight interconnected stories and sixteen hauntingly beautiful illustrations, Scary Stories for Young Foxes contains the kinds of adventures and thrills you love to listen to beside a campfire in the dark of night. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Auxier, and R. L. Stine have found their next favorite book.

homeJude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before.

But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

51sYN1eQl0L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant—even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.

What’s not so regular is that this time they all don’t have a place to crash, so Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma. It’s not that Genesis doesn’t like her grandma, but she and Mom always fight—Grandma haranguing Mom to leave Dad, that she should have gone back to school, that if she’d married a lighter skinned man none of this would be happening, and on and on and on. But things aren’t all bad. Genesis actually likes her new school; she’s made a couple friends, her choir teacher says she has real talent, and she even encourages Genesis to join the talent show.

But how can Genesis believe anything her teacher says when her dad tells her the exact opposite? How can she stand up in front of all those people with her dark, dark skin knowing even her own family thinks lesser of her because of it? Why, why, why won’t the lemon or yogurt or fancy creams lighten her skin like they’re supposed to? And when Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again?

Coretta Scott King Honor Books (Just the middle grade ones…)

tristanstrongSeventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s notebook. Tristan chases after it–is that a doll?–and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American folk heroes John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?

look both waysThis story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky. But no one saw it happen. They were all too busy—

Talking about boogers.
Stealing pocket change.
Skateboarding.
Wiping out.
Braving up.
Executing complicated handshakes.
Planning an escape.
Making jokes.
Lotioning up.
Finding comfort.
But mostly, too busy walking home.

Jason Reynolds conjures ten tales (one per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings, and brilliantly weaves them into one wickedly funny, piercingly poignant look at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life.

Mildred L. Batchelder Award

(Awarded to a United States publisher for a children’s book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originating in a country other than the United States and in a language other than English and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States during the preceding year. For more visit the award website.

brown+drop+shadow+websiteNew in the neighborhood and hounded by fort-wrecking bullies, things are looking glum for Rusty. And to top it all off, his grandfather has just died. Rusty is stuck sorting out his emotions while the adults are busy sorting out the “practicalities” with the hospital. But one dark night, after watching a superhero movie on TV, Rusty gets an idea…

Dressed in brown pants, a black-and-brown striped shirt, a brown mask and cape, and his mother’s brown belt, the superhero BROWN is born! Guided by his grandfather’s ghost, two cans of paint, and a little help from his friends, Brown can do anything! Just as long as nobody’s parents find out.

Stonewall Book Award – (One MG selection made the Honor category)

(Presented to English language books that have exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience. For more info visit the award website.

thebestatitRahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at and become the BEST at it.

Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. While he’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Mason will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge…. But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?

Funny, charming, and incredibly touching, this is a story about friendship, family, and the courage it takes to live your truth.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award

(Presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. For more info visit the award website)

9780525645535In R. J. Palacio’s bestselling collection of stories Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian’s grandmother, Grandmère. Here, Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with Grandmère’s heartrending story: how she, a young Jewish girl, was hidden by a family in a Nazi-occupied French village during World War II; how the boy she and her classmates once shunned became her savior and best friend.

Sara’s harrowing experience movingly demonstrates the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives. As Grandmère tells Julian, “It always takes courage to be kind, but in those days, such kindness could cost you everything.” With poignant symbolism and gorgeous artwork that brings Sara’s story out of the past and cements it firmly in this moment in history, White Bird is sure to captivate anyone who was moved by the book Wonder or the blockbuster movie adaptation and its message.

American Indian Youth Literature Award

51AdD6C3OWL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Regina Petit’s family has always been Umpqua, and living on the Grand Ronde reservation is all ten-year-old Regina has ever known. Her biggest worry is that Sasquatch may actually exist out in the forest. But when the federal government signs a bill into law that says Regina’s tribe no longer exists, Regina becomes “Indian no more” overnight–even though she was given a number by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that counted her as Indian, even though she lives with her tribe and practices tribal customs, and even though her ancestors were Indian for countless generations.

With no good jobs available in Oregon, Regina’s father signs the family up for the Indian Relocation program and moves them to Los Angeles. Regina finds a whole new world in her neighborhood on 58th Place. She’s never met kids of other races, and they’ve never met a real Indian. For the first time in her life, Regina comes face to face with the viciousness of racism, personally and toward her new friends.

Meanwhile, her father believes that if he works hard, their family will be treated just like white Americans. But it’s not that easy. It’s 1957 during the Civil Rights Era. The family struggles without their tribal community and land. At least Regina has her grandmother, Chich, and her stories. At least they are all together.

In this moving middle-grade novel drawing upon Umpqua author Charlene Willing McManis’s own tribal history, Regina must find out: Who is Regina Petit? Is she Indian? Is she American? And will she and her family ever be okay?

That’s all for now, and yes, my TBR list just exploded.

Posted in Awards | Tagged | 2 Comments

MMGM for 1/27/2020

                   

It’s Holocaust Remembrance Day and I’m featuring Greenhorn (pictured above) by Anna Olswanger. Included in the post is a GIVEAWAY. Click the green book on the left to reach my review.

June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing, and Stitch-Metic gives us her thoughts on a contemporary MG holiday novel, The Angel Tree.

Alex Baugh at Randomly Reading takes a look at The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin.

Beth Mitchell at Imaginary Friends reviews All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey.

Maria Antonia at Of Books, Photography, and Tea has Roll by Darcy Miller.

Patricia Tilton at CHILDREN’S BOOKS HEAL reviews Our Future: How Kids are Taking Action by Janet Wilson. She also has info about Multicultural Children’s Book Day on Jan. 31, 2020.

Rosi Hollinbeck reviews and has a GIVEAWAY of THE MULBERRY TREE by Allison Rushby. Rosi also has some not to be missed links for her writing friends.

TBR NEXT gives five stars to What We Found in the Corn Maze and How It Saved a Dragon by Henry Clark.

Susan Uhlig is back this week with a feature on Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. “It’s a really fun fantasy,” according to Susan.

Karen Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads has another informative MMGM post. Be sure to check out today’s feature and all of her reviews the past week including BEGINNER”S WELCOME.

AND ONE MORE… Michael Gettel-Gilmartin at The Middle Grade Mafioso reviews  PIPPA PARK RAISES HER GAME, by Erin Yun.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun and get your own spot in the parade, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count–but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you’re featuring and a link to your blog at gpcolo (at) gmail (dot) com
(Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book you’re featuring)
You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.
Thanks for spreading the middle grade love and for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and carried on here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.
Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, MMGM Links | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

GREENHORN (and a Giveaway)

January 27th is Holocaust Remembrance Day. It has now been 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.  I’m featuring a special story by author/literary agent Anna Olswanger.81XPuCHnlML.jpg

The hardback is just 48 pages, but packs a powerful  punch. It’s the true story of Daniel, a Holocaust survivor who arrives at the Brooklyn Jewish school carrying a box. He won’t open it and always keeps the container near.

Another boy, Aaron, is a stutterer and is often teased for his repetitions. The school bully has given him the name, Gravel Mouth. Aaron’s main wish is to become a rabbi. His compassion for others has him reaching out to Daniel. This begins a friendship between the two boys. Together they face the taunts, learning to deal with hurtful words and actions.

Greenhorn would be a great choice for an adult and child to read together. The contents of the box are heartbreaking to comprehend, but also a reality of the time. It’s the perfect story to share in our current world.

Here are five more things I liked about GREENHORN:

  1. Color illustrations appear throughout. They support and extend the words on the page.
  2. The Afterword tells the story when the boys meet again as adults. A satisfying footnote.
  3. Both boys have difficulty expressing themselves for very different reasons. The inclusion of this character trait pushed the story to even greater heights.
  4. Serves as a springboard to a deeper study of the Holocaust. I’d suggest reading more middle grade books about the topic. The Jewish Book Council has a list of HOLOCAUST BOOKS FOR MIDDLE GRADE READERS; Brightly presents 13 CHILDREN’S AND YA BOOKS TO HELP REMEMBER THE HOLOCAUST; and Pragmatic Mom has 39 HAUNTING HOLOCAUST BOOKS FOR KIDS.
  5. I kept thinking as I read the story that it would make a fantastic movie. Someone else thought the same thing and made a short film. Check out the 90 second trailer:

The film is available on AMAZON in DVD format.

The hardback edition of GREENHORN is available here.

Visit UNITED NATIONS list of events for today’s remembrance.

Learn more about Anna Olswanger at her website.

My school already has a copy of the book so I’m giving away the one I received for this review. Make a comment to enter and I’ll draw the winning entrant on February 1st.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

FROZEN SECRETS

This Europa Academy series is a welcome addition to the upper middle grade book shelf. The fiction choices for space adventure at this level are rather limited.

This first book reminded me a bit of the Explorer Academy series from National Geographic. The main difference is Frozen Secrets goes the science fiction route and takes place in the often dangerous locale of Europa, Jupiter’s moon. Scenes also occur back on earth in Houston, Texas where main character Max and his family reside when not in  space.

Here’s the official blurb:

Thirteen-year-old Max Parker is a grounded Earthling with the soul of a space explorer. So when he learns his family is relocating to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, he readily agrees to stay out of trouble. But his promise is soon forgotten, and his snooping lands him on a shuttle doomed for a fiery disintegration.48126868.jpg

Convinced someone sabotaged the craft to cover up the theft he witnessed, he digs into the incident. Why was this robbery worth attempted murder? Dodging a series of deadly accidents, he follows the clues to an abandoned outpost and discovers a secret that could blow the lid off a moon-wide conspiracy… Can Max solve the mystery before his interplanetary escapade gets him killed?

Frozen Secrets kicks off the thrilling, teen science fiction series, Europa Academy. It’s filled with fearless friends, high-orbit mysteries, and immersive worlds.

I love stories where you can’t tell the good guys from the bad. Here you’ll find a half dozen characters who could go either way. I changed my mind several times as to who was up to no good. Max of course is the one trying to figure all of this out. He’s a do now, ask later, impulsive type of kid. Thank goodness he has a cadre of friends who keep an eye out for him.

Despite Max’s sometimes questionable decision making, he’s an endearing character and perfect as the protagonist. He’s always questioning. The soft romantic side plot with crushes and jealousy is exactly the way it goes for this age.

Most of the plot though centers on the mystery at hand. There is a high amount of action, adventure, and danger at every turn. When Max is teamed up with Mei Li in a sled race, she provides a nice balance of toughness and the ability to speak her own mind.

Both the setting and story are memorable. I’d recommend this one to ages 10-15, especially those who have a fascination with worlds beyond earth.

The ending wrapped up all the dangling plot points which is much appreciated in reading a series. Ah, but another school term will soon begin, and Max will for sure find more trouble to contend with at The Europa Academy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (From Myles Christensen’s web site)

Myles writes exciting adventures in a variety of genres. His characters rarely avoid falling in love (or at least crushing on each other).  For each new story, he makes a music playlist to match—and inspire—his writing.

Myles studied mechanical engineering in college. He works full-time as a design engineer and freelance product development consultant. He also teaches a CAD class at BYU twice a week.

Myles enjoys inventing new products. He has licensed three card games (Toss Your Cookies, Order’s Up!, and Skiwampus) to Gamewright.

******************************

Coming up this Monday is another edition of…

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book on a Monday (contests, author interviews, or anything middle grade related also count). Email me the title of the book or feature and a link to your blog at gpcolo[at]gmail[dot]com
Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book or author you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.
Thanks for spreading the middle grade love and for being a part of this awesome tradition begun by Shannon Messenger and carried on here at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE! (CLICK HERE FOR PAST MMGM POSTS)
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

 

Posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments