New from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Here are a few new books from Macmillan Children’s that caught my eye:

 

Howard Carter was obsessed with mummies. He met his first when he was a boy in England and lived near a mansion filled with Egyptian artifacts. Howard dreamed of discovering a mummy himself–especially a royal mummy in its tomb, complete with all its treasures. When he was seventeen, he took a job with the Egypt Exploration Fund and was sent to Egypt to learn about archaeology and excavation sites. And his mummy hunt was on! Howard discovered many amazing artifacts, but he searched for years before coming upon the most famous mummy of all, King Tut.

 

A timely, poignant tale of family, sacrifice and the friendship between a young Syrian refugee and an American boy living in Brussels.

Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him. Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. Now Ahmed’s struggling to get by on his own, but with no one left to trust and nowhere to go, he’s starting to lose hope.

Then he meets Max, a thirteen-year-old American boy. Lonely and homesick, Max is being bothered by a bully at school, he doesn’t speak a word of French, and just can’t seem to do anything right. But with one startling discovery, Max and Ahmed’s lives collide, banding the boys together to help Ahmed survive.

As their friendship grows, Ahmed and Max defy the odds, learning from each other what it means to be brave, and how hope can change your destiny.

Set against the backdrop of the Syrian refugee crisis, award-winning author Katherine Marsh delivers a gripping, heartwarming story of resilience, friendship and everyday heroes.

Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost.

Grace has Asperger’s and her own way of looking at the world. She’s got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that’s pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn’t make much sense to her any more.

Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it’s up to Grace to fix it on her own.

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Guest Book Review: FATED (BOOK ONE of The Soul Seekers) by Alyson Noel

Genre: Young Adult
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Paperback: 440 pages
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
ISBN-13: 97-1-4472-0680-4
Rating: 4.5 stars

Life changes for Daire Santos at age seventeen. In fact, things get so weird that her mother, Jennika, a film make-up artist, sends Daire to her grandmother in a little town called Enchantment, New Mexico. For a rebellious teen like Daire, this dusty backwater is anything but enchanting. She is also scared of what’s been happening to her: animals follow her; crows mock her; the atmosphere turns hazy and glowing people appear from out the blue. Daire wonders if she is actually having the nervous breakdown her mother thinks she is. Once in Enchantment, her grandmother starts piecing together the puzzle that Daire’s life has become. She is not going nuts. Daire has a role in life that ultimately she’s not too keen on accepting. Her father was a gifted Soul Seeker, as is Daire. His death points to the ominous force looming, one that Daire needs to battle. To do this, she has to learn her craft as a mystical Soul Seeker, one who can navigate between the Upperworld, Middleworld, and the dark Underworld. Daire must also connect with her Shaman bloodlines and her animal guide to harness the kind of magickal powers she’ll need. Added to this, Daire meets Dace, the boy she has dreamed about. He is a handsome, pure young man, with similar powers. Alas, his twin, Cade is the exact opposite, and represents evil incarnate. The fight for control of Enchantment begins…
In a novel twist, this book introduces Native American traditions, mythology, and legends to the YA market. This makes for an intriguing story as the reader learns with heroine Daire. Admittedly, Daire starts out a little whiney, but that’s understandable with so many seemingly crazy things happening to her. Daire also loses control when nightmarish visions plague her, and that’s not good for the people around her. Daire’s grandmother is a fount of wisdom and it’s a unique way for the author to weave in the kind of traditions and history that give this book its unusual slant. Fated is filled with a rich mythology in the soul visions, the spiritual quest, and the animal guides that all have meaning for Daire. This book does focus on spiritual growth in a fascinating way, and makes a nice change from the usual menu of vampires/werewolves and other undead elements in the YA market. Daire learns about love, trust, faith and hope; all the things that have eluded her up until now. Teens keen on an interesting read will love this book. Fated is Book One in the Soul Seekers series. Look out for Book Two: Echo later in 2012.

(First reviewed for Jozikids)

No monetary compensation was received for this review.

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

Guest Book Review: All The Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Fast forward to a semi-dystopian 2083, where pleasure items such as chocolate and coffee are banned, paper is in short supply (thus, no more books are printed), water is rationed, and New York City is a hot bed of crime and poverty. Simple things like telephone calls and emails carry a high price tag. Museums, libraries, and cultural centres have closed down, lakes have dried up, and people wear ‘vintage’ clothing because garment manufacture has stopped. You can’t even get fruit! Yet, life goes on and people manage…in a way.

Anya Balanchine is the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss. The Balanchine family manufactures chocolate, a business that now carries a criminal label. Anya’s mother was killed in a botched assassination attempt on her father’s life. The incident also injured her older brother Leo, leaving him childlike in an adult body. It’s up to Anya to keep the remaining family together, and still shoulder the tasks of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother. Anya is out the family’s immediate sphere of activities until a batch of Balanchine chocolate, given to her by a cousin, has fatal consequences. Anya’s ex-boyfriend is almost fatally poisoned and the police naturally think she’s to blame. At the same time, her new boyfriend’s father, the assistant DA, tells her to keep away from his son (Win) or else! Suddenly, Anya finds herself the focus of public attention and that’s not good! Things go from bad to worse when gentle Leo, who had started working for the family as a gopher, takes it into his head to shoot his uncle, now the head of the Balanchine family business. Everything spirals out of control and Anya faces a heart-breaking decision in order to save her brother and her younger sister.

Told from Anya’s point of view, the story unfolds as Anya battles hardships, trying to salvage her life. Anya is feisty and brave, with a slightly hardened attitude to relationships and people. A nice touch is Anya’s increasing memories of things her father said, and his words of advice. In this way, the father becomes like a living character. Anya will do anything to protect what remains of her family. She is also loyal to her buddy Scarlet, a wacky, arty girl, who is a good friend to Anya. The author has captured perfectly the emotional highs and lows of the main character and readers will really bond with Anya. The book has great pace and action until the high point of Anya’s arrest. Then the story slackens and much of what takes place thereafter (exciting in itself) seems almost quickly jammed together to get to the end. This is the first book in the Birthright trilogy, which could account for a rushed conclusion.

Genre: Young Adult

Reading level: Ages 12 and up

Paperback: 384 pages

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

ISBN-13: 978—0-33-53789-6

Rating: 3.5 stars

View the publisher’s website for availability.

No monetary compensation was received for this review.

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.