Monday, December 16, 2013

Middle Grade Mania! How To Survive Ancient Spells & Crazy Kings

MMGM aka Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday was created by Shannon Messenger to give middle grade reads the attention they deserve. I'm joining in, today. If you'd like to see more MG books, Click HERE to follow other participants.

Title: How To Survive Ancient Spells & Crazy Kings
Author: Laura Pauling
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure
Publisher: Pugalicious Press
Released: November 2012
Format: eBook & paperback
Pages: 174

Favorite Line/Passage: His words hovered over me, hissing at me that I'd made the biggest mistake of my life. My legs wobbled and I grasped the edge of the stone table. Safekeeping? I mean I knew they needed to be guarded, but this was bad. The survival or downfall of a madman rested on my shoulders and one little innocent mistake I made because I loved Zeb and wanted to feel close to him. But this? This could destroy everything.

Description: Convinced that her grandfather, Zeb, needs help, twelve-year-old Bianca persuades her family to fly to the Mayan ruins of Tikal on a search and rescue mission. Impatient, she and her brainy cousin, Melvin, sneak out in the middle of the night and follow the clues to the ancient Maya city of Etza, where the people haven’t aged in 2,000 years.

The cousins must learn to work together as they face loincloth-wearing skeletons from the underworld, a backstabbing princess, and an ancient prophecy—one that says in three days the city will be destroyed. They’ll find Zeb and zip right out of there. No problem. 

Except, Bianca starts to care for her new friends, and Zeb does not want to be rescued. The fact that a crazy king wants to serve Bianca up to the gods as an appetizer is just a minor technicality. But this ancient evil dude has finally met his match.


My Splats: ancient adventure seeking and fun, Pauling takes kids on a wild ride through secret rooms, passages, and a whole lot of crazy in the mysterious culture of the Mayans. 

The opening of the story instantly blankets the reader in intrigue. Something strange is going on with Zeb, Bianca's grandfather, and she's determined to figure out what that is; a bit stubborn, one might say.

Bianca and Melvin have a great relationship: funny, teasing, and caring. They do engage in conflicts and disagreements, making it real and plausible, like families are. Having them cousins was another effective technique to give an overall feeling of wholesomeness and family unity. 

I love where Bianca started out--tough on the outside; a bit insecure on the inside. As the story progresses, she grows and changes. She takes the challenge of finding her grandfather, uncovering a secret that could end life as we know it, and accepting disappointments in stride as she devises a plan of action, turning all on its head with confidence and a willingness to sacrifice for others. 

Short chapters make for easy and quick reading, while details about a civilization gone by enrich the story. From exterior tattoos to head dressings, young readers are given a view of the Mayans and how different they are from us, today. It's all done with a little humor, too. 

I'd recommend this story to young middle grade readers and their parents, adventure and historical culture lovers, and even school teachers to read with their students. 

NOTE: Sadly, shortly after the release of this book the publisher closed. For those interested, Laura has offered to send an ePub copy of the story. Just leave your email addy in the comments. Thanks so much, Laura!

What's the last book you've read, where the setting is an ancient civilization or really unfamiliar to you?
 photo Sheri2.png


  1. Aw, Sheri - Thank you so much!!! It makes me so sad to know the small press that published this book closed a few months within publishing Ancient Spells and Crazy Kings. If any readers would like an epub or a mobi just comment here with your email and I'll send you it!

    Thank you for the wonderful review!

  2. Great review, Sheri! Laura -- I remember when this came out. I'm sorry to hear the publisher went out of business so quickly. :(

  3. Great review. I have this on my Nook to read and you're making me want to reach it. So sorry that Laura's publisher went out of business.

    1. It's a really easy read. Plus, I learned some info, too! I bet you could read it with your daughter with no issue at all.

  4. Great review, Sheri! And, Laura, I'd love a copy! Soon, I'll be switching gears from memoir to middle grade! samantha(dot)verant@gmail(dot)com

    1. You'll be writing MG? YAY! If you're ever in need of a CP, let me know. I'm currently finishing up a rewrite of my MG and could use a few new eyes. Plus, I just love reading other author's MG work. It's such a great age.

      I've let Laura know you're interesting in an eCopy.

  5. That's a real bummer the publisher closed!

    1. I know, right. I often forget this sort of thing happens to authors. Major bummer.

  6. That's really sad about the publisher. The book sounds great. Tweeted!

    Hugs and chocolate!

  7. I wondered what happened. They left several messages for me about doing a review but then never responded. I'd love a copy, Laura! torres dot pam3 at gmail dot com Thanks!

    Sheri, Your review was full of interesting detail and well written!

  8. I agree: Great review, Sheri.

    This is exciting, as my 5th grader has just done a project on the Mayans. I went to B&N, planning to buy it, but it sounds as if it's unavailable. Then I saw at the bottom of your review that the publisher has gone out of business. If possible, I'd love an epub copy:

    1. That's awesome, Michael! I've let Laura know you're interested in a copy.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  9. Love the review, Sheri! It sounds like a great adventure--something my older son may like when he catches up on his big pile of MG books.

  10. I adore the sound of this book! It's just the type of adventure-in-an-exotic-setting that I love to write. I'm so sorry for Laura that the publisher closed. How unfair. I don't read MG that often, but this one sounds too good to pass up, and I'd love a copy.

    Wishing Laura better luck in 2014! Happy holidays, Sheri! :-)

  11. Thanks everyone! I really appreciate it. :) I've sent the ebook out!

  12. So sorry for Laura that the publisher closed shortly after the release of her book! This sounds like such a great book and the characters sound excellent. I love MG books and review them each week on my blog (plus that is the genre I write). Wishing Laura the best of luck and hoping she has a wonderful 2014!!

    My co-author and I would love a copy: (my co-author has a Kindle).

    Thanks so much!

  13. Laura's book look so great. Thanks for the review!

  14. This sounds like a great story and I'm sorry the publisher closed. Thank you for offering an ebook. sharif(at)sharifwrites(dot)com

    I can't recall the last book like that I've read. I want to say Jean Auel, but I'm sure there's something more recent.


!SPLAT Your Awesomeness! I'd love to hear from you!


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