Friday, July 8, 2022

Today's read: The Zee Files by Tina Wells

 After the action-packed, wonderful fantasy world of yesterday's read, it was time for something lighter, sillier, and simply dramatic. Today's read hits the first in a series (the 2nd book is out, too), which swims around school and friendship drama pure. It's a spin-off of the Mackenzie Blue series...which I never read...and takes off in a slightly younger direction, I assume, since that series is for tweens. 

Anyway, pack that suitcase because we're heading to London!

The Zee Files, #1
by Tina Wells
West Margin Press
Middle Grade Contemporary
168 pages
ages 8 to 12

Meet Zee!

Fans of the bestselling Mackenzie Blue books will love this spin-off series that follows Zee's new adventures across the pond—in London!

Thirteen-year-old Mackenzie Blue Carmichael, aka "Zee," has never eaten fish 'n' chips, never slept away from home longer than a few nights, and knows nothing about London. But when her family relocates for her dad's new job, Zee has to leave her old life in California behind for a new one in England.

Now at her new boarding school, The Hollows Creative Arts Academy, Zee hopes to find new friends and jumpstart her music career. But things aren’t so easy. Some classes are more difficult than expected, and between a chilly roommate, a BFF who's gone MIA, and distractions from the hottest—and poshest—student in her grade, Zee has to wonder: will she ever find her place in London?



Adding humor, life's rollercoaster, and a good amount of heart, this is a cute beginning to what promises to be a soon loved series.

Mackenzie (Zee) is on her way to London thanks to her father's new job. She's really not ready for any of it, especially since it means leaving the last of her two best friends behind (the other already being in Paris). Upon arrival, her mother announces that Zee is staying at a boarding school, but luckily, an old friend of hers happens to attend the same school. Already feeling shoved around, Zee not only faces a roommate, who doesn't talk much, but is suddenly battling classes, has a best friend ignoring her, and a guy, who doesn't make friends with anyone, claiming she's his muse. And things get crazier from there.

Zee is a lively girl, who is caught up in a whirlwind, which she's not really sure she wants. Her energy radiates from every page, but she's by no means overly bubbly or silly. Her decisions are thought out, she tries not to break any rules, and she's always thinking of others. She's the kind of girl everyone like and gets along with. Even the situations she faces, while being in London and, therefore, a bit more 'exotic', are the type many middle graders will be able to relate to and understand.

The writing is well done and flows smoothly. Zee's concerns fit well for her age group, and if nothing else, she acts a little young for her age. Being in the 9th grade, I'd normally say this was for a tween/YA audience, but it is solidly written with the middle grade audience in mind. While she is a little older, it's no problem for this age group to relate to her. 

Zee faces all sorts of issues, none which are caused by her, but the drama around her is non-stop. It's a quick-paced read, lets some of the culture of London seep in, but really sticks more to the drama. I did smirk that her family's furniture was at the house the same time as they were (we've moved overseas and I promise it isn't that easy), but the author has done her research well. The emotions and troubles Zee encounters are all over the place and constant...she doesn't get to catch her breath...but this is what makes the read addicting and fun. Plus, with all the friends she has, her time is tight. I was disappointed to not have any sort of ending to this book. It leaves off as if at the end of a chapter with everything still open. Especially for middle graders, who don't have their own money flow, this makes it impossible to enjoy just one book, and even more so to pick up one somewhere in the series. 

This is a very cute book with an adorable character, which I can see many middle graders enjoying. 

And here she is...

Tina Wells is a business strategist, advisor, author, and the founder of RLVNT Media, a multimedia content venture serving entrepreneurs, tweens and culturists with authentic representation. Tina has been recognized by Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business, Essence’s 40 Under 40, and more. For over two decades she led Buzz Marketing Group, an agency she founded at age 16 with clients like Dell, The Oprah Winfrey Network, Kroger, Apple, P+G, Johnson & Johnson, and American Eagle that Tina connected with her network of 30,000 buzzSpotters® and 7,000 “momSpotters”, all influential millennials and passionate end-consumers. Tina is also the author of seven books, including the best-selling tween fiction series Mackenzie Blue, its 2020 spinoff series, The Zee Files, and the marketing handbook, Chasing Youth Culture and Getting It Right. Tina’s board positions have included THINX, the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council, The Franklin Institute and Young Entrepreneur’s Council. She has also served as the Academic Director for Wharton’s Leadership in the Business World Program at the University of Pennsylvania and is a member of the 2017 Class of Henry Crown Fellows within the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute.

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