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1. MMGM Links (8/22/16)

Gah--how is August almost over???? The universe really needs a pause button!

We're getting seriously close to the release of LODESTAR, so I will soon have lots of fun things to share in the weeks ahead. Keep an eye out for them (and if you're not following me on social media--especially instagram--you might wanna)

In the meantime, here are your  MMGM links!

- Got my Book is raving about THE POE ESTATE. Click HERE for their review. 
- Melissa Roske is interviewing author Sally J. Pia. Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Completely Full Bookshelf is spotlighting RUBY GOLDBERG'S BRIGHT IDEA. Click HERE to see why.
- Mark Baker is whispering about LEGACY OF SECRETS. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Dorine White is cheering for HUNDRED PERCENT. Click HERE for her feature. 
- Tara Creel is sharing some Bucket List books for kids. Click HERE to see what they are. 
- Natalie Aguirre has a guest post from author C. Lee Mckenzie, along with a GIVEAWAY of SIGN OF THE GREEN DRAGON. Click HERE for all the fun.
- The B.O.B. is championing VARIANT. Click HERE to see why. 
- Greg Pattridge is celebrating his 3rd MMGM anniversary with a GIVEAWAY. Click HERE for details.
- Rosi Hollinbeck has another special guest post this week from the #MGGETSREAL authors, along with a five-book GIVEAWAY. Click HERE to learn more.
- Justin Talks Books is highlighting DR. CRITCHLORE'S SCHOOL FOR MINIONS. Click HERE to find his feature. 
- Jenni Enzor is seeing great things for THE MAGIC MIRROR. Click HERE to see why. 
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time. 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site 
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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 SWMessenger (at) hotmail (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 in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*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. 

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2. Blog Tour: My Thoughts: The Secret Sea by Barry Lyga


4 yummy frosted maple cookies.

Cover Love:
I really like this cover, I think it would make kids want to pick up this book.

Why I Wanted to Read this:
I really like a good alternate universe book and the synopsis of this one seemed right up my alley.  Here it is from GoodReads:

Twelve-year-old Zak Killian is hearing a voice. Could it be a guardian angel? A ghost? No, that's crazy. But sometimes the voice is so real. . . . It warns him of danger.

One day Zak is standing on the subway platform when the tunnel starts to fill with water. He sees it before anyone else. The voice warns him to run. His friends Moira and Khalid believe this is more than a premonition, and soon all three find themselves in an alternate universe that is both familiar and seriously strange. As Zak unravels the mystery behind the voice, he faces decisions that may mean the end of their world at home--if they can even get home!

My Thoughts:
Overall this was a great read.  There were a few things in the beginning that made it a little hard fro me to get into but once I was over that hump, the book flew.

One of the things that bothered me a ton were Zak's parents.  They were so frustrating.  They were convinced that Zak was doing "bad" things so rather than talk with him, they ground him.  Then they get him a psychiatrist, but are more into blaming each other for his behavior than really getting him help. It was very hard to get over this because every scene with them made me want to throw the book!

After a pretty slow start a little twist happens that caught my interest.  Once that came about, I was much more into the book.  Once they got to the alternate universe, I was very into the book.  The author set up a great world with the alternate universe.  There are a lot of similarities between our world and the one that Zak and his friends get to, but enough differences that cause them to be very lost and confused.  The rules of the new world and society are very different than ours and they don't have a lot of time to learn them.  The author did a great job of conveying their confusion and fear.  This new universe is very technologically advanced to us and open to a lot of new ideas, but they are also very backwards in some issues.  I was glad that Khalid was able to find an ally once they got to the alternative universe and thankfully it was one willing to believe and help out.  Giving them a guide was very important.

From the start of their time in the alternate universe I felt something was off in the story Zak was being told.  I'm not sure if this was because I'm an adult and I consume a lot of content, so I'm pretty quick to develop theories, or if it was easy to deduce.  I would like to chat with someone from the target audience after they read it to see if they jumped to the same conclusion that I did.

There is a lot of action and I guess what I would call "speculative science" in the alternate universe.  None of it was over my head and the story moved along very quickly.

To Sum Up:  I think this is going to be a big hit with middle school readers.  I will be buying a copy for my library and book talking it this fall.  I already have my first reader for this story picked out and I know he will love it.

Macmillan is giving away a finished copy of The Secret Sea to one of my readers.  US only, winner will be announced on August 29.  Loading... Read the rest of this post

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3. Friday Feature: Sign of the Green Dragon




Three plucky sleuths. A crumbling skeleton. A buried treasure.

After six months in a new school, Sam's finally fitting in. He's the one kid with enough talent to hit the winning home run and bring the baseball trophy back to Haggarty Elementary. But Sam's guardian is shipping him off to boarding school before that can happen.

When teammates, Joey and Roger, hear his bad news, they plot to hide him until the big game. Their secret cave is a perfect place until an earthquake shatters a wall and reveals a wooden chest with a red-eyed dragon carved into its top. Inside, a bony hand clutches a map with a note, promising treasure.

With Joey and Roger, Sam sets off to track down the clues and hopefully discover treasure.

Just as some puzzle pieces start to make sense, the boys become lost in a labyrinth of underground tunnels, trapped by dangerous thieves and sealed inside an airless tomb. 

Sign of the Green Dragon gets a high five for fantasy, fun and some fearsome adventure. If you like intrepid would-be knights on impossible and dangerous quests, you'll love this story. As one reader says, this book, "has more twists than a dragon's tail."

Buy now to jump into the adventure.

Grab it on Amazon.

C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication. Her greatest passion is writing for young readers. Sign of the Green Dragon is her third Middle Grade novel. Alligators Overhead and the sequel, The Great Time Lock Disaster were her first two. She has traditionally published four young adult novels: Sliding on the Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative and Sudden Secrets.


*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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4. MMGM Links (8/15/16)

Still need to hit my word count for the night (and no, I can't tell you what I'm working on. Hopefully soon!) so I'll keep this short and just say: here are the MMGM links!

- Melissa Roske joins the MMGM fun with her "Ask the Author" feature, this week with Kristi Wientge. Click HERE to welcome her to the group. 
- Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is cheering for JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM. Click HERE to read his review.
- Completely Full Bookshelf is gushing about EVA AND PIP. Click HERE to see why.
- Mark Baker has had his heart stolen by STORY THIEVES: THE STOLEN CHAPTERS. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Dorine White is feeling haunted by THE MINISTRY OF GHOSTS. Click HERE for her feature. 
- Tara Creel is seeing stars for THE LITTLE PRINCE. Click HERE to see why she loves this classic. 
- Sue Kooky is championing HARRY POTTER. Click HERE to read her review.  
- The B.O.B. is seeing stars for SUPERNOVA. Click HERE to check it out.
- Greg Pattridge has is raving about DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck has a special guest post this week, on middle grade books that address hard topics. Click HERE to learn more.
- Justin Talks Books is highlighting CHARLIE JOE JACKSON'S GUIDE TO NOT READING. Click HERE to find his feature.   
- Jess at the Reading Nook is feeling FRAZZLED: EVERYDAY DISASTERS AND IMPENDING DOOM. Click HERE to see her review.   
- Jenni Enzor is seeing stars for THE STARS OF SUMMER. Click HERE to see why.
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time. 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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 SWMessenger (at) hotmail (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 in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*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. 

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5. MMGM Links (8/8/16)

Gah, crazy weekend thanks to some last minute LODESTAR deadlines--but I'm happy to say the book is officially DONE (well, on my end at least. My publisher is still fine tuning the formatting and whatnot, and then it's off to the printers to be turned into real books by 11/1/16)

Also, if you're in the OC of SoCal, I have an event tomorrow (8/9/16) at 7pm at Once Upon A Storybook in Tustin. Details are on my events page.

And now, on to the MMGM links!

- Completely Full Bookshelf joins the MMGM Fun with a feature on WHEN YOU REACH ME. Click HERE to welcome them to the group! 
- Mark Baker wants everyone to RACE FOR THE PARK STREET TREASURE. Click HERE to see why. 
- Eli at Tweens Read Too is back with an interview with Brooks Benjamin. Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Tara Creel is gushing about THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON. Click HERE to see why. 
- Sue Kooky is sees no reason to worry about PUDDLE'S WONDROUS WORRY DOLLS. Click HERE to read her review.  
- The B.O.B. is spreading some love for THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT. Click HERE to check it out.
- Greg Pattridge has is raving about DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing THE GIRL IN THE WELL IS ME. Click HERE to see why.
- Justin Talks Books is highlighting BOOK SCAVENGER. Click HERE to find his feature.   
- Jess at the Reading Nook is wondering at ZOE IN WONDERLAND. Click HERE to see her review.   
- Literary Hoots is talking about HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD. Click HERE to see what she thought.   
- Jenni Enzor has chills for BRIAN'S WINTER. Click HERE to see why. 
- Cindy Reads A Lot is singing praises for THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY. Click HERE to find her feature.   
- Faith Hough is interviewing Jessica Lawson, with a GIVEAWAY of WAITING FOR AUGUSTA. Click HERE for all the fun.  
- Natalie Aguirre is interviewing Bridget Hodder, with a GIVEAWAY of THE RAT PRINCE. Click HERE for details.
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time. 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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 SWMessenger (at) hotmail (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 in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*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. 

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6. Obsessing Over #6: Furthermore



I have been seeing this pop up on blogs and twitter and it has peaked my interest.  First off, this is a dynamic cover.  Second, it sounds like such a fun play on words type of book.  I think this is going to be an awesome read and I can't wait to get a copy for myself and for my library!

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7. MMGM Links (8/1/16)

Okay, first, HOW IS IT AUGUST??? Seriously, can someone please slow down time???

Ahem.

We are now officially three months away from the release of LODESTAR, I guess that means I need to start organizing all the awesome release-time things (keep an eye out for them in the months ahead)

In the meantime, here are the MMGM links!

- Eli at Tweens Read Too joins the MMGM fun with an interview with Jennifer A. Nielsen. Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Tara Creel is cheering for THE DISTANCE TO HOME. Click HERE to see why. 
- Sue Kooky is spotlighting EDNA IN THE DESERT. Click HERE to read her review.  
- The B.O.B. is caught up in A MAD, WICKED FOLLY. Click HERE to check it out.
- Greg Pattridge has is raving about THE SEVENTH WISH. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--MAYDAY. Click HERE for details.  
- Literary Hoots has chills for DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM. Click HERE to see their feature.   
- Jess at the Reading Nook is also reviewing DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM. Click HERE to see her take.   
- Dorine White is cheering for EVERYTHING SPORTS. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Susan Olson is featuring RACE TO THE SOUTH POLE (Ranger in Time #4). Click HERE to find her feature.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time.
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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 SWMessenger (at) hotmail (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 in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*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. 

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8.

Just got back from San Diego Comic Con (so much fun--but SO EXHAUSTING)--and there are quite a few links this week--so here's hoping I get these right.

Here are the MMGM links!

- The Runaway Librarian joins the MMGM fun with a feature on four of her favorite new reads. Click HERE to welcome her to the group. 
- Books 4 Learning is spreading some love for PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS. Click HERE to see why. 
- Sue Kooky is spotlighting THE IT GIRL. Click HERE to read her review.  
- Susan Olson is gushing about ONCE WAS TIME. Click HERE to find her feature.
- Justin at Justin Talks Books is highlighting JUST MY LUCK. Click HERE to read what he thought 
- The B.O.B. is interviewing author Christopher Healey. Click HERE to check it out.
- Michelle Mason is wishing for THE SEVENTH WISH. Click HERE to find her review. 
- Susan Uhlig has a double feature this week. To see her review of COUNTING THYME, go HERE. And to see her review of THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY, click HERE 
- Greg Pattridge has a double feature with THE DRAGONFLY EFFECT and SLACKER. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--AIM. Click HERE for details.  
- Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is revealing the cover of A CRACK IN THE SEA . Click HERE to check it out.   
- Jess at the Reading Nook has a Q&A with author Kit Grindstaff. Click HERE for all the fun.   
- Carl at Boys Rule! Boys Read! has a special guest feature from one of his awesome readers. Click HERE to see what they thought of THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY. 
- Jenni Enzor is sweet on SWEET HOME ALASKA. Click HERE to see why. 
- Got My Book is throwing down THE COPPER GAUNTLET. Click HERE to read their feature. 
- Michelle Mason is covering RUBY REINVENTED. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time.
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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 SWMessenger (at) hotmail (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 in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*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. 

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9. Weekend Reading #11

I will admit that a couple of things have really slowed down my reading this summer.  
First of all, Stranger Things on Netflix completely captivated me.  I binged on that really hard this week.
Secondly, I am playing Pokemon Go.  I adore this game, but my very favorite thing is that my son will ask me to drive him and his friends around to play.  When your 18 year old, about to go to college son wants you to go out and play a game with him, you go out and play that game!

Anyway, I am going to focus on some reading this weekend.  These are the two books I am currently reading.  I am participating in a blog tour for The Secret Sea in August.  I like the alternate reality aspect of this book.  I also received The Gallery in the mail and this cover is so gorgeous I bumped it to the top of my TBR.  I love the feel of this book in my hands.
(I am also going to Star Trek this weekend, can't wait!!)
What are you reading this weekend?

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10. Turning Pages Reads: CLOSE TO FAMOUS, by JOAN BAUER

Welcome to another session of Turning Pages!When we talk about comfort reads, we have to mention the works of Joan Bauer. A little offbeat, a little unique, her books are always engaging and wise. Though quite a few are written for teens, many... Read the rest of this post

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11. AUTHOR INTERVIEW! Sarah Beth Durst on THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM

A little while ago I had the privilege of reading Sarah Beth Durst's latest fantasy novel for middle grade readers, The Girl Who Could Not Dream--the tale of a girl whose parents distill, bottle, and sell dreams out of a secret room in their... Read the rest of this post

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12. MMGM Links (7/18/16)

Here's this week's MMGM links!

- Tara Creel joins the MMGM fun with a feature on PAX. Click HERE to welcome her to the group. 
- Books 4 Learning wants everyone to SMILE. Click HERE to see why.
- Justin at Justin Talks Books is cracking THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA. Click HERE to read what he thought 
- The B.O.B. is highlighting BETTY CORNELL'S TEEN-AGE POPULARITY GUIDE. Click HERE to check it out.
- Michelle Mason is wishing for THE SEVENTH WISH. Click HERE to find her review. 
- Susan Uhlig has a double feature this week. To see her review of COUNTING THYME, go HERE. And to see her review of THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY, click HERE 
- Greg Pattridge is solving THE DRAKE EQUATION. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--COUNTING BY 7s. Click HERE for details.  
- Michael Gettel-Gilmartin has chills for THE PECULIAR HAUNTING OF THELMA BEE . Click HERE to see why.   
- Jess at the Reading Nook has a Q&A with CC Payne. Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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 SWMessenger (at) hotmail (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 in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*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. 

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13. Book Review: Black Lightning by K.S. Jones…

I absolutely love Arizona! I’ve been lucky enough to visit twice (Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale areas), and would love to go back and see the Grand Canyon, since I never got a chance to go there. K.S. Jones paints a vibrant and beautiful picture with her words, that allows me to feel my skin sizzle under the Arizona heat, and make my mouth water for buttery cornbread. So what’s my take on a story set in a place that can conjure up Geronimo’s ghost and make you sweat with every page you turn? This is what I posted on Amazon and Goodreads…



Lightning does indeed strike twice with this 5 Star Winner!

K.S. Jones combines a mixture of Apache folklore, natural phenomenon, and science fiction in a dessert setting to create her middle grade sci-fy adventure about 10 year-old Samuel Baker and his incredible journey into another dimension. Fast-paced from beginning to end, Jones weaves a fantastic and emotional tale wrought with love, death, magic, and hope.

Jones’s imaginative story is a must for any bookshelf (or ereader), and though geared for tween boys, there’s plenty of action to get the girls cheering for Samuel and his friend Isabelle to get them back home to the families they love. High fives for K.S. Jones and her electrifying tale!

Tagline and Blurb:

Life moves on — no matter what...

Following his father’s puzzling disappearance and his mother’s death, ten-year-old Samuel Baker goes through the motions of living in a world turned upside down. He wears an Apache talisman, a long ago gift from his father, in hopes its promise of strength and guidance is true. But what he truly wants is the power to bring his parents back. 

Heartless Aunt Janis is elated at the prospect of becoming Samuel’s legal guardian. She is sure an orphan boy will elicit such an outpouring of public sympathy that her husband will win his Senate bid by a landslide. But when Grandpa Tate arrives, things don’t go as expected, especially when black lightning strikes!

Read an Excerpt:

Samuel stood beside his mother’s rain-speckled casket. He had cried his tears dry, so there was no point in trying to find more.

“Chin up, young man,” Aunt Janis said as her fingers nudged Samuel’s jaw upward. “Death is just part of life, and our photographer needs a good picture of you for the newspapers.”

A camera flashed, leaving Samuel’s red and swollen eyes burning as if stung by the sun instead of grief.

So many important days had come and gone without his father, but surely he would come home today, wouldn’t he? Samuel closed his eyes. He pretended his father was beside him holding his hand. They had a right to hold hands, he told himself. Not because he was ten, but because it was his mother’s funeral. Two years had passed since his father left, never to be seen again. Vanished, was the word his mother had used. Into thin air, she’d said.

“Take that silly thing off.” Aunt Janis flicked Samuel’s wood and bead necklace.

“No,” he said and shook his head. “My dad gave it to me.” It was a pinewood tile, the size of a domino shaved nickel-thin, which hung from a leather cord around his neck. Burned onto the front side of the wood was a lightning bolt. Its flipside bore the blackened imprint of a tribal dancer. It had a turquoise nugget and a shiny black hematite bead strung together on each side. His father had given the talisman to him with a promise: It will guide you and give you strength when you need it most.

Today, dressed in a black suit and starchy white shirt, Samuel wore it in hopes the promise was true.

As mourners gathered, Samuel’s friend Brian came to stand beside him. “Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” Samuel answered without taking his eyes off the casket.

“Is that the necklace your dad gave you? You don’t usually wear it.” Brian’s wire-rimmed glasses slid down his straight arrow nose. He pushed them back up the bridge with one finger until they encircled his eyes again. “Can I see it? I promise I’ll give it right back.”

“It’s not a necklace.” Samuel pulled the leather cord off over his head, mussing his overgrown blond hair. “It’s a talisman.” He handed it to Brian. “My dad said it would help me, but it hasn’t done anything yet. I think it was just one of his stories. It’s probably just an old piece of scrap wood with a couple rocks tied to it.”

Brian shrugged after examining the piece then he handed it back to Samuel. “I think it’s cool. You should keep wearing it anyway.”

Nodding, Samuel hung the talisman around his neck again, but this time he dropped it down beneath his shirt where it was no longer visible. It felt warm against his skin.

“Has anybody told you where you’re going to live now?” Brian asked.

“Probably with Aunt Janis and Uncle Jack.”

Brian frowned. He kicked the tip of his shoe into the muddy soil. “They live so far away. Why can’t you just stay here and live with Mrs. Abel? She doesn’t have any kids.”

Mrs. Abel was their fourth grade teacher. She had plainly stated to all who would listen that her job was to teach the proper use of the English language to children who behaved properly. A babysitter, she had said, she was not. Today, she stood in the rain with the other mourners, eyeing the ground where the hem of her long, gray dress lay caked in mud. Tufts of brown hair jutted out from under her pink plaid scarf. Even though she stood a few feet from him, she had not spoken to Samuel since his mother’s death. Few people had. Everyone had words for Aunt Janis and they talked to Uncle Jack, but no one but Brian and a few classmates had spoken to him. Maybe talking to an orphan was harder than talking to a normal kid.

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing

Amazon 

Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author:

Karen (K.S.) Jones grew up in California, but now lives in the beautiful Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio with her husband, Richard, and their dogs Jack Black, Libby Loo, and Red Bleu. Black Lightning is her first middle-grade novel. She credits her love of fantasy to the early influences of authors J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. Her award-winning first novel, Shadow of the Hawk, a Young Adult Historical, released in 2015.

Connect with K.S. Jones:



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14. My Thoughts: Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

4 spicy & soft ginger cookies.

Cover Love:
I LOVE this cover. You have to see it in person to see how beautiful it is, but it's like  rose gold and shimmery and gorgeous.  So eye catching!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I had been hearing a lot of buzz about this book, even before it was released.  I was lucky enough to get an ARC in the mail, but it still took me a few months to get it read.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.
Romance?: Nope, not that kind of book.

My Thoughts:
This was a great read.  The only reason I gave it four cookies was because I had a hard time getting into the story.  I feel like this was my fault.  Reading the synopsis made me know there was going to be a lot of times my stomach would be in knots while reading this book.   It made me a little hesitant about diving right in, so I took my time.  When I let myself go, I realized that my fears came true, but the way the author handles it all made it an easy read.  There was a lot of tension and my stomach was in knots, but one reason I was too upset while reading this is that Annabelle always has someone on her side.  People, her parents, believe her.  Having someone in her corner the whole time gives her the confidence she needs to stand up for the innocent and for herself.

I love the setting. This was set at the start of World War 2, in a rural area.  Annabelle goes to school in a one room schoolhouse, but there are also cars.  It's like the cusp of the technological revolution. Annabelle's parents are hard working farmers, but also very much devoted to their children. Annabelle's grandparents and an aunt live with them as well.  These things are during a time that always fascinates me, there is such an innocence about the world still.  And that's what makes this book so powerful.  We see a little girl on the verge of growing up who loses her innocence pretty quickly.  What happens to her and her world changes her, makes her see how the world really is, but it doesn't destroy her.  The author does a great job of walking the fine line between destroying Annabelle and using the situation to make her stronger.

One of my favorite parts of this book is how much takes place in the family kitchen.  Most of Annabelle's confessions to her family happen around the table or when she is helping her mom cooking and baking.  I love that!  This is what happens in my family, the kitchen is the heart of our home and some of our best times are when I am cooking or cleaning up and my kids are doing homework and my husband is helping them or me and we are all just enjoying being together.  Even though the events that happen in this book are serious, you just know that their kitchen is the room that has the most love and trust.

To Sum Up: This book didn't turn out to be the hard read I had expected. It was innocent and interesting and a little disturbing.  It would be a great read for a middle school book club!

Book sent to me from Rachel at Penguin.  Thanks Rachel!

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15. Friday Feature: A Family For Leona


I'm back! My blogging break is over. Of course I've missed you all. Today, I'm sharing Beverly Stowe McClure's latest release, A Family For Leona.


Ten-year-old Leona Chapter doesn't understand why her papa left his six children at the Brooklyn Home for Homeless Children after their mother's death in 1921. Each day she prays he'll return and take his children home. God, however, isn't listening. Her brothers and sisters are either adopted or run away, leaving only Leona and Baby Mildred in the orphanage. Leona promises she and Mildred will be together for always. A promise she cannot keep, for Leona, along with her friend Noah, who she defends from the bullies Hiram and Jehu, and several other orphans, are soon on a train headed to Texas, while her sister stays at the orphanage. Leona vows she'll go back to Brooklyn, the first chance she gets. An Orphan Tran tale of the early 1900s.

Grab it on Amazon.

Most days, you'll find Beverly at her computer writing stories young voices whisper in her ear. When she's not writing, she plays the piano. Her cats don't appreciate good music and run and hide when she tickles the ivories. She's sometimes called the "bug lady." She's not telling why.


*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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16. Thursday Review: SPARKERS by Eleanor Glewwe

Synopsis: With cover blurbs from the likes of Rachel Hartman, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Anne Ursu, and Ingrid Law, the MG fantasy Sparkers by Eleanor Glewwe should have caught my eye earlier. I met Eleanor at a conference this summer and I'm a... Read the rest of this post

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17. Obsessing Over #5: The Littlest Bigfoot


 
 
I love the synopsis for this book.  I love the author and have read many of her adult books.  I love the cover.  Right now, I think this book is at the top of my WANT list.  It comes out in early September and I will be pre-ordering a copy for myself and a copy or two for my library. 

Also, I have a certain fascination with Bigfoot.  When my oldest son was first diagnosed with Crohn's disease he had to spend about a week in the hospital.  He wasn't overly sick, he just needed to be on an IV because he was pretty malnourished, so he was really, really bored.  One of the things we discovered was the TV show Finding Bigfoot.  For some reason there was a marathon on and we spent one whole day and evening watching that show.  It was a lot of fun and a good memory during a bad time.  Ever since then we have lots of Bigfoot discussions, even though he's 18 now.  It is something that bonds us a bit, and makes me even more excited for this book.

Any upcoming fall releases catch your eye yet?

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18. MMGM Links (7/11/16)

Here's the MMGM links!

- Justin at Justin Talks Books is seeing stars for COSMIC. Click HERE to read what he thought 
- The B.O.B. is back with a miniature book haul feature. Click HERE to check it out.
- Andrea Mack is cheering for OCDANIEL. Click HERE for their feature. 
- Jenni Enzor is highlighting kidlit books that have been translated from other languages. Click HERE to see what they are. 
- Greg Pattridge is WAITING FOR AUGUSTA. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing WOLF HOLLOW. Click HERE to find her feature.  
- Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is sweet on STARS SO SWEET . Click HERE to see why.  
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time. 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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 SWMessenger (at) hotmail (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 in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*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. 

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19. MMGM Links (6/27/16)

Here's this week's MMGM links:

- Justin at Justin Talks Books joins the MMGM fun with a feature on TO CATCH A CHEAT. Click HERE to welcome him to the group 
- Sue Kooky is seeing stars for SPACE CASE! Click HERE to see why.  
- Patricia at Children's Books Heal wants everyone to LISTEN, SLOWLY. Click HERE for her feature. 
- Jenni Enzor is highlighting THE BFG. Click HERE to see why she loves this classic.    
- Greg Pattridge is cheering for NINJA LIBRARIANS: SWORD IN THE STACKS. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--PATRIOT PAPERS. Click HERE for details. 
- Reading Violet wishes everyone would read EDEN'S WISH. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time. 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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 SWMessenger (at) hotmail (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 in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*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. 

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20. The Blitz Next Door by Cathy Forde

For Pete Smeaton, age 10 going on 11, moving from London to Clydebank, Scotland had its good points and its bad ones.  He was sorry to leave a place he knew so well, and his two best mates Simon and Alfie.  On the other hand, in Scotland, Pete has a big bedroom to himself, away from the rest of his family, including baby sister Jenny and her incessant crying.  Not only that, but there's that old WWII Anderson shelter at the end of the garden, just past the bomb crater, perfect to use as his personal den. Now, if only the girl next door would stop crying - except there is no next door, not since WWII when it took a direct hit from a bomb.

But no sooner do Pete and his football-figure collection get to the shelter, then he is confronted by Dunny, who claims the shelter is his.  After a brief showdown, the two boys bond over the football figures and in no time, Pete had a new best mate.  Everything seems to be going well - the house comes with his dad's new job, his dad's boss, Jamie Milligan, loves old rock and rock music as much as Pete does, and he doesn't have to start a new school until after the Easter holiday.  If only the girl next door would stop crying and who is the creepy old lady that is always standing at the bomb crater and doesn't seem to see or hear anyone?

Little by little, with the help of Dunny, Mr. Milligan and his mum, Pete begins to unravel the mystery of the crying girl next door.  No one who has lived in this area in Clydebank seems surprised when they discover that Pete can hear her.  He learns from them that her name is Beth and she lived next door during the war.  On the night of the Clydebank Blitz, Beth was in the Anderson shelter when the bomb hit her side of the house and destroyed it.  A box of treasured items, including her mother's wedding photo got lost in the rubble. Beth's mother was killed in the blitz and she and her father migrated to New Zealand in the 1950s.

Beth is an old woman now, and all she wants is to see the photo of her mother once more, the one in her lost box.  On the anniversary of the Clydebank Blitz, the Anderson shelter becomes a portal that takes Pete back to that terrifying night.  Can he help Beth find her treasure box in the past, so she can die in peace in the present?

The Blitz Next Door is a nice blending of real events with realistic fiction and fantasy.  The story is told in the third person, from Pete's perspective.  He is a clever, sensitive boy, good to both his sister and the girl next door, for all their crying, and brave enough to take risks to help Beth.  The other characters, especially Dunny and Mr. Milligan are also well developed with definite personalities, even Jamie Milligan and Dunny's younger brother Wee Stookie are solid and believable, though Pete's mum and dad as minor characters never really evolve.

The Clydebank Blitz was, indeed, a real event, and happened over the course of two nights, March 13 and 14, 1941.  A total of 560 Luftwaffe bombed the city because of its munitions factories and shipyards, 578 people were killed and many, like Beth, lost their homes.  The Blitz Next Door is a basically a contemporary story and you may wonder, as I did, if there would still be a bomb crater from WWII.  I didn't find one specific to Clydebank, but there actually are still some craters in the area.

This is a story set in Scotland and there is some amount of British slang used.  It won't take long to figure out that footy is soccer, that a stookie is a plaster cast, and that bally doesn't what it sounds like it should mean.  It is actually a substitute for saying ?bloody" which at one time was considered to be an expletive, but isn't really, anymore.

The Blitz Next Door is a compelling story that should appeal to readers who like a mystery and time travel stirred into their contemporary adventure stories, and that explores themes about friendship, family, courage.  This would pair nicely with A Shirtful of Frogs by Shalini Boland.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was an EARC received from NetGalley

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21. My Thoughts: A Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff

3 peanut butter cookies.

Cover Love:  YES! I love this cover, it is darling.  It makes me think of summer camps and lakes and fireflies and fun.  Wonderful cover!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this in the mail and after I read A Tangle of Knots I knew I had to read this one.  While it's not quite a sequel, it should definitely be read after A Tangle of Knots. Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:
In this companion to A Tangle of Knots, it's summertime and everyone is heading off to camp. For Talented kids, the place to be is Camp Atropos, where they can sing songs by the campfire, practice for the Talent show, and take some nice long dips in the lake. But what the kids don't know is that they've been gathered for a reason--one that the camp's director wants to keep hidden at all costs.

Meanwhile, a Talent jar that has been dropped to the bottom of the lake has sprung a leak, and strange things have begun to happen. Dozens of seemingly empty jars have been washing up on the shoreline, Talents have been swapped, and memories have been ripped from one camper's head and placed into another. And no one knows why.

Romance?:  Nope.

My Thoughts:
While I enjoyed this read, I didn't like it as much as A Tangle of Knots.  Part of the reason is that in Knots, the Talents that people had were kind of normal things.  Things that a lot of people might be good at, just enhanced for different people.  I enjoyed that idea a lot.  It's not like people were superheroes, they were just enhanced.  The Talents that some of these kids had in Jars were more...powerful.  Not all of them, some of them were normal, but they just seemed more impressive.  I didn't really like that change.

This was also a darker book.   The campers were in real danger in this book and a lot of the campers were desperate about their Talents or lack of Talents.  The camp director was one of the most desperate and the desperation leads her to doing some pretty awful things.  I didn't feel like anyone was in true danger, and I hoped everything would be tied up nicely, but I was antsy while reading a lot of this book.

However, I liked the setting a lot.  I always wanted to go to a summer camp like this one, on a lake.  I always went to sports camp that were hot and dusty, not on a lake.  I liked most of the kids in this book and how they worked together to figure out what was going on and how to fix it.  And I did like being back in the same world as A Tangle of Knots.  It's really fun and there is a lot of possibilities.  Also, I love how easily the author writes other points of view.  She can slip in and out of characters so smoothly the story just flows!

To Sum Up:  Love this world and these are two awesome middle grade books.  I will be book talking them a lot in the fall and recommending them for a lot of my 6th grade readers!

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22. Blitzed by Robert Swindells

This post was originally posted in 2012, but something odd happened on Blogger and it had to be reposted.

It is 2002 and Georgie Wetherall loves two things - knowing all about England in World War II and creeping. Creeping?  That is when you “streak across a row of back gardens, over fences, through hedges, across veg patches...without getting caught or recognized.” (pg13)  And he especially likes leaving Miss Coverley’s garden is shambles.  Georgie knows she doesn’t like him - she's always watching him.  So when he has to repair her fence post as punishment for his last creeping adventure, Georgie discoveres she watches him - it seems he reminds her of someone, but who?

All this is forgotten, however, when Georgie’s class goes on a trip to Eden Camp, a former POW camp turned into a WW 2 museum of 29 huts each dedicated to one aspect of the war.  Hut 5 is a realistic replica of a bombed street in London during the Blitz.  The sounds and smells add to the realistic atmosphere - but wait, it is perhaps a little too realistic.  In fact, Georgie suddenly finds himself transported back to wartime London.

Finding himself faced with the real deal, cold, hungry, lost and scared, Georgie wanders around until he finds a friendly searchlight crew who give him something to eat.  After living through a night of bombing in a public shelter, Georgie notices four kids emerging from a bombed out pub.  He and the kids start talking and they tell him he can stay with them as long as Ma approves.  Ma turns out to be a 14 year-old girl who watches over orphaned kids in the pub's basement.

Ma has a job in a second hand shop owned by what she believes to be is a Jewish refugee from Germany called Rags.  But when Georgie discovers a radio transmitter locked in one of the shops upstairs rooms, the kids begin to suspect that maybe Rags isn't who they think he is.  And they decide to find out exactly what he is up to with that radio transmitter.  Trouble is, Rags begins to suspect Ma of snooping in his stuff and decides to find out what she is up to.  So, Georgie, along with Ma and the other orphans, is on a wartime adventure he never dreamt possible.

I liked this coming of age time travel story.  It is told in the first person, and the author maintains the voice of a 12 year-old boy throughout, giving it an authentic quality - quick, witty, full of colloquialisms from 2002 that are questioned by the folks from 1940.  I also found Georgie's reaction to his predicament refreshing.  In most time travel stories, kids end up in a different time and place and seem to assimilate so easily.  But for Georgie, it isn't just a jolly adventure.  He worries throughout about not getting home, not seeing his parents again.  As wartime London loses its romanticized aura and becomes reality, it causes Georgie to experience real reactions like throwing up more than once and even wetting himself at one point.

But it is also a story of survival, complete with a cast of orphan characters right out of Charles Dicken's London, who become Georgie's family away from family, helping him adjust and carry on. And most importantly, helping him see the reality of war.

Blitzed is a fast paced but wonderful book.  The chapters are only a few pages long, but the events are exciting, making it an ideal book for a reluctant readers and certainly one that would appeal to boys as well as girls.

This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was purchased for my personal library

You can hear Robert Swindells speaking about Blitzed here.  It is on YouTube but the embed function is disengaged.

And there really is an Eden Camp in Yorkshire, so if you happen to be in England and would have an interest in visiting (you might want to go to Yorkshire anyway, it is a wonderful place to see.)  Information about visiting can be found here

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23. MMGM Links (7/4/16)

More MMGM links than I would've expected today--but here you go:

- Justin at Justin Talks Books is featuring UNGIFTED. Click HERE to read what he thought 
- S.W. Lothian joins the MMGM fun with a mini review of SHIRLEY LINK AND THE SAFE CASE. Click HERE to check it out.
- Books 4 Learning is cheering for SISTERS. Click HERE for their feature. 
- Got my Book is spotlighting CITY OF THIRST. Click HERE to see what they thought 
- Greg Pattridge is swept away with THE TURN OF THE TIDE. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--MAYBE A FOX. Click HERE for details. 
- Reading Violet is spreading some love for THE FORGOTTEN SISTERS. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Faith Hough is howling for WOLF HOLLOW. Click HERE to find her review.  
- Carl at Boys Rule, Boys Read is championing BIG NATE. Click HERE to see why.  
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time. 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, 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 SWMessenger (at) hotmail (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 in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*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. 

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24. Skating with the Statue of Liberty by Susan Lynn Meyer

Skating with the Statue of Liberty continues the story of Gustave Becker begun in Black Radishes.  Gustave, now 12, and his family, along with his cousin Jean-Paul and his mother, all French Jews who have finally gotten American visas to leave Nazi-occupied Europe and sail to America.  It's January 1942, and the ship the family is sailing must dock in Baltimore to avoid the Nazi U-boats patrolling the waters around New York City.  Gustave is disappointed that the Statue of Liberty won't be his first view of America, but arriving in the US is his first taste of freedom since before WWII began.

However, life isn't all that easy for the Becker family in NYC.  After staying with kind relatives, they find a small, affordable one room apartment with a shared bathroom on West 91st Street in Manhattan.  His father must settle for a low-paying job a as janitor in a department store, and his mother ends up sewing decorations onto hats.   Gustave begins school at Joan of Arc Junior High school, hoping the name is fortuitous for him in his new school, home and country.

School issn't too bad for Gustave, who already knows a little English, with except for his homeroom teacher, Mrs. McAdams, who believes that raising her voice at him will make Gustave understand her better.  And she also decides that his name is too foreign and begins to call him Gus.  He does have one African American student in his class, September Rose, but he doesn't understand why she keeps her distance.  Eventually they do become friends, and face some nasty physical and verbal incidents because of it.

Gustave's English improves quickly, and he even gets an after-school job delivering laundry.  He and his cousin Jean-Paul, who now lives with his mother at a relative's home in the Bronx, join a French boy scout troop run by a French priest and a French rabbi, the same rabbi who has begum preparing the two cousins for their Bar Mitzvahs. And through his friendship with September Rose, Gustave learns about the Double V campaign in which her older brother Alan and his friends are involved.

But Gustave also worries about his friend Marcel in hiding back in France.  Luckily, he is able to write to his friend Nicole in Saint-Georges, France, whose father is in the French Resistance, so there is always hope that there will be good news about Marcel.

I had very mixed feelings about this novel.  There is no real conflict in it, really.  It is mostly about Gustave assimilation into American life.  And while that is very interesting and realistic, it isn't very exciting.  In fact, the whole issue around the Double V campaign, including the demonstration staged by Alan and his friends outside a department store in Harlem that refuses to hire African Americans is actually the most exciting part of the book and, I think, it should have been a story in its own right.

On the other hand, and perhaps because my dad was an immigrant, I personally liked reading about Gustave's life in America, perhaps because it is inspired on the author's father's real experiences after arriving in this country.  For sure, America isn't portrayed perfect and even Gustave faces incidents of racism and anti-Semitism, but for the most part, he does make friends and has a nice support system in his family, Boy Scouts and school.  I certainly appreciate his mixed feelings about which country to give his loyalty to and how that is resolved.    

Themes of friendship, family, refugees, racism, hate, and acceptance make this historical fiction novel as relevant in today's world as in 1942.  It is a quiet, almost gentle novel that will give young readers a real appreciation of what their family may have lived through coming to a new, unfamiliar country, finding a place in it and giving back as productive members of society.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

Did the Statue of Liberty really skate in this book?  Of course not, but you'll have to read to the end to find out where the title comes from.

Gustave lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, just as Meyer's father did.  His school, Joan of Arc Junior High School on West 93rd Street, is referred to in the book as a "skyscraper school" which only means that it was built up not out because of rising property values.  But it is also a real school, now landmarked and on the NY Art Deco Registry.  As you can see, it is an unusual school:


Gustave also spends a lot of time at the Joan of Arc statue in Riverside Park, at the end of West 93rd Street.  It is also a famous landmark and you can read all about it at one of my favorite blogs, Daytonian in Manhattan (he has better photos)

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25. Road Trip Reading #2 & Weekend Reading #10


This weekend we are driving three hours away to watch our son play in a senior showcase soccer game.  It will be a down and back in one day trip and my husband is driving, which means I am going to be reading!  

What are you reading this weekend?

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