February 6, 2018

Macky's Middle Grade Round-Up | The Eternity Elixir, The Ambrose Deception + Samantha Spinner and the Super Secret Plans

It's a great year for middle grade books (isn't every year?) and January has come out swinging with some pretty nifty titles to look out for. 

First stop on our middle grade round up is The Eternity Elixir by Frank L. Cole. It's about a young boy who has been brought up to be part of an ultra secret global community of 'Elixirists', folks who have mastered the ability to combine naturally (and sometimes unnaturally) occurring substances to master the very forces of nature. Things take a turn for the crazy when our hero Gordy gets a package from his aunt that could very well destroy the Elixirist world as he knows it making it up to him to outwit the forces that are coming to use the contents of that package for their nefarious schemes. 

This reads like a Nickelodeon summer blockbuster movie (*possible spoiler* there may be some slime). Fast paced, well-crafted characters that are easy to follow and connect to and overall, a rip- roaring adventure that sets up a pretty interesting series. 4 stars! 

The Potion Masters by Frank L. Cole | Series: Potion Masters #1 | Publisher: Shadow Mountain | Publication Date: January 2, 2018 | Source: ARC picked up at BEA 2017 (Thanks!)

Coming February 13, 2018 is The Ambrose Deception, a uniquely written story about three grade school kids with spotty backgrounds that were selected for an ultra-prestigious $10,000 scholarship program if they would but only provide answers to three unique clues each. It's really quite the caper following Melissa, Bondi and Wilf use their "unique" skills to tear through some very real places in Chicago in pursuit of the one thing that could turn their lives around for better and for good. Personally, I am not a fan of mystery solving stories (of any genre) but I enjoyed this book. The ending is pretty predictable, if you're the type to want to preemptively spoil yourself. But even if you go ahead and do that, it's still worth the payoff thanks to the twists and turns. It's well-written with some really cool art and great in-between chapter recaps. I especially love how the clues and even text and email correspondences between the characters as the story progresses are woven into the experience. Yet another four stars for this book, and highly recommended for anyone who loves a good old fashioned middle grade contemporary adventure! 

The Ambrose Deception by Emily Ecton | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | Publication Date: February 13, 2018 | Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)

Also coming out February 13, 2018 is Samantha Spinner and the Super Secret Plans. When their eccentric uncle (with a penchant for pajamas) disappears mysteriously, it is up to Samantha and her little brother Nipper to get to the bottom of the mystery starting with the seemingly unassuming umbrella her uncle left her. From there, I completely enjoyed how this story escalated quickly into a (personally more enjoyable) “National Treasure”-like adventure filled with secret passages and architectural secrets hidden in plain sight. (Yes, I loved that Nicolas Cage movie.) And yes, I loved Samantha Spinner even more. Peppered with historical (and narratively enriched) factoids in between chapters, this was a wild ride that has got me looking forward to book two. I’m most certainly getting myself a finished copy so I can see all the final art the ARC promised. That should really cap the whole experience off quite nicely! Totally recommend this to any middle-grade fans who love a good adventure.

Samantha Spinner and the Super Secret Plans by Russell Ginns | Series: Samantha Spinner #1 | Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers | Publication Date: February 13, 2018 | Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)


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