Posts Tagged middle grade series

Cover Reveal! The Long Trail Home

Today I’m honored to participate in some Cover Reveal Fun! I’m celebrating with Kiersi Burkhart and Amber J Keyser, whose new middle grade series, Quartz Creek Ranch, launches in January 2017.

It’s a bit out of the ordinary for all the first books in the series to drop at once, but I’m really excited about it! Books 1-3 in the series, are Shy Girl & Shy GuyOne Brave Summer, and At Top Speed. I got a sneak peek at the first few chapters of The Long Trail Home, the fourth book, to prepare for this cover reveal. I have to tell you,  I can’t wait to read them all.

Here’s what the publishers have to share about the series:

Every summer, the gates of Quartz Creek Ranch swing open for kids in trouble. Under the watchful eyes of lifelong ranchers Willard and Etty Bridle, these ten to twelve-year-olds put their hands—and hearts—to good use, herding cattle, tending the garden, harvesting hay, and caring for animals. Aided by two teenage horse trainers, the kids must forge a bond with their therapy horses, grow beyond the mistakes that brought them to the ranch, and face unique challenges in the rugged Colorado rangeland.

I spent many formative hours on a cattle ranch when I was a middle grade kid, and learning to coexist with working animals shaped my view of the world in some powerful ways. This volume in the series is also important because it helps young readers see themselves between the pages of a book. As Amber shared with me, this book is near and dear to her heart. “I so wanted to have a book about a Jewish girl that wasn’t about the Holocaust, and this is it!”

Also from the publishers, about The Long Trail Home, the subject of our post today:

Rivka can’t wait to get away from her family for the summer.  Since that terrible day last year, she wants no part in their Jewish community. At least at Quartz Creek Ranch, she feels worlds away from home among the Colorado scenery, goofy ranch owners, and baby animals. Other parts of Quartz Creek, however, are too familiar, including the unsettling wave of anti-immigrant threats to ranch workers. On a trip to the country, Rivka is also surprised to learn the history of Jewish pioneers in the area. When she and her defiant cabinmate, Cat, face disaster in the wild, Rivka will need to find strength deep within her to help them both get home safely.
I’ve read Amber’s work, both fiction and nonfiction, and her books are unique and wonderful reflections of this diversely talented author. I’m really looking forward to this series by Kiersi and Amber, and I hope you are, too.

And now, drumroll…

The cover! Isn’t it lovely?

I will be so happy when these books are available to share with my favorite nieces, nephews, and school libraries…

More about Kiersi and Amber:

KIERSI BURKHART grew up riding horses on the Colorado Front Range. At sixteen, she attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland and spent her young adult years in beautiful Oregon—until she discovered her sense of adventure was calling her elsewhere. Now she travels around with her best friend, a mutt named Baby, writing fiction for children of all ages. Kiersi’s website is: Find her on Twitter @kiersi.

AMBER J. KEYSER is happiest when she is in the wilderness with her family. Lucky for her, the rivers and forests of Central Oregon let her paddle, hike, ski, and ride horses right outside her front door. When she isn’t adventuring, Amber writes fiction and nonfiction for young readers and goes running with her dog, Gilda. Her website is: and you can follow her on Twitter: @amberjkeyser.

Thanks so much for allowing me to share in the fun with our readers, Amber and Kiersi!


In fourth grade, Valerie Stein touched an ancient artifact from an archaeological dig. Though she never got to travel the world in search of buried treasure, she ended up journeying to new and exciting places between the pages of books. Now she spends her time researching history in museums and libraries, which is like archaeology but without the dirt. Valerie’s book, The Best of It: A Journal of Life, Love and Dying, was published in 2009.  Both her current work and upcoming middle grade stories are historical fiction set in Washington State. Valerie is Publisher at Homeostasis Press, and manages Gather Here: History for Young People

Sky Jumpers! (Author interview and a giveaway!)

sky jumpers

Who doesn’t love a series? Peggy Eddleman’s Sky Jumpers plunges you right from the first page into a post World War III world where things have gone both wrong—and right—since the release of green bombs. There’s enough drama to keep the pages turning and this new series going. Book one releases from Random House on September 24—add a comment below to win a copy!

As the jacket blurb says, it’s the story about twelve-year-old Hope, who lives in White Rock, a town struggling to recover from the green bombs of World War III. The bombs destroyed almost everything that came before, so the skill that matters most is the ability to invent so that the world can regain some of what it’s lost. But Hope is terrible at inventing and would much rather sneak off to cliff dive into the Bomb’s Breath—the deadly band of air that covers the crater the town lives in—than fail at yet another invention. When bandits discover that White Rock has invented priceless antibiotics, they invade. The town must choose whether to hand over the medicine and die from disease in the coming months or to die fighting the bandits now. Hope and her friends, Aaren and Brock, might be the only ones who can escape through the Bomb’s Breath and make the dangerous trek over the snow-covered mountain to get help. Inventing won’t help them, but the daring and risk-taking that usually gets Hope into trouble might just save them all.

Peggy Eddleman authorPeggy Eddleman, who lives at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Utah with her husband and their three kids, took some time to answer a few questions via email:

Mixed-Up Files: Sky Jumpers is post apocalyptic, but yet it’s more hopeful than some of the other books out there. Can you talk about that?

Peggy Eddleman: This came from two things: First, to me, if the world came close to ending and only pockets of people remained, one of those pockets would emerge to be very similar to White Rock. Mankind has an amazing ability to survive and fight to carry on and move forward. When devastating things happen, we emerge stronger. We stick together and we work together to make a life that’s worth living. We, as humans, have a lot of hope in us.

Second, I don’t believe that middle grade kids are as big of fans of dystopia. I think that dystopian conflicts in books work really well for teens—they are at a time in their life where they feel like they are constantly fighting against authority figures to move from childhood to adulthood, so conflicts with an uberly-controlling government are right up their alley. But middle grade kids have their whole lives ahead of them—the whole world ahead of them—and they want to know that the world is going to be one worth living in. That no matter what crazy things happen, they are going to flourish living there.

MUF: Hope struggles to be an inventor like everyone else, since inventions are so important to the survival of the community. How did you get your ideas for the inventions?

PE: The idea for Hope came first—I wanted a character who couldn’t do the one thing that mattered most. So then I asked what mattered most in White Rock? When the answer of inventions came to mind, it felt natural and right. When most of everything we had was destroyed, and there are people alive still who remember what things used to be like, of course inventing would be important. It’s what got us to the point we are at today, and it’s what will get White Rock back to that point in the future.

MUF: One of the other things I love about this book is the strong emphasis on family. Everyone sticks together. Was that important to you?

PE: Very. My husband and my kids mean the world to me, as do my parents and siblings and their families. I think strong families can make an incredible difference in the lives of children, and I wish every kid could experience that. When they can’t experience it in real life, I think they should get the chance to experience it in books.

MUF: Have you ever jumped off a cliff?

PE: Yes. 🙂 But into water, not into the Bomb’s Breath. I think a more close representation to jumping into the Bomb’s Breath would be paragliding, which, sadly, I’ve never gotten the chance to do. But I do take every opportunity to jump into water that I can. And no—you’d never catch me jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. As fun and fascinating as that sounds, the part of my brain that controls my will to live speaks louder than the part that wants to experience that.

Like to win a free copy? Post a comment below by midnight September 24 to be entered in the drawing. The winner will be announced on Thursday, September 26.