Book Review: Notes From A Spinning Planet - Mexico

This is the third post (2nd book review) in a Blog Tour for Melody Carlson. See the other two posts for more.

The second series I received as part of this blog tour is the first three books in the Notes From A Spinning Planet series. The third book, Mexico, is newly released this month.

This series follows Maddie Chase on adventures to different countries with her aunt (a journalist). Maddie is 19 and attending the community college while trying to decide what direction her life should go in. As a character, she's very approachable and real and I think just about anyone would enjoy reading about her travels.

Book one takes Maddie, Aunt Sid and Ryan (Aunt Sid's college roommate's son - if that makes you think of Spaceballs, it did me, too. But Ryan's actually a very good addition to the cast of characters.) off to Ireland where Sid is to do a follow up on kids who stayed in a Peace House in Ulster in the 60s (when Sid and Ryan's mom had been there as peace workers for a summer.) Mystery and intrigue follow as they discover some secrets about Ryan's dad (who met his mom during that summer in Ireland) and Sid's old boyfriend. The scenery of Ireland is well described and, overall, it's a fun tale. (The only slightly jarring note was that occasionally the Irish would blurt out "Ach, Lassie" -- to me, that's Scottish. It's certainly nothing I ever chanced to overhear the couple of times I've been to Ireland. But it's difficult to convincingly write an accent and other than that one phrase, Carlson did a good job.)

Book two follows Maddie and Aunt Sid (sans Ryan this time) off to Papua New Guinea to document the AIDS epidemic there. As with Ireland, the scenery and culture of PNG is very well depicted and you learn a lot about the situation in the country - from AIDS to crime to just general living conditions of tribes along the Sepik river and the missionaries who serve there and work to provide a written translation of the Bible (and in the process create a written form for the tribal languages.)

Book three finds Maddie and Aunt Sid off on a short trip to Cabo in Mexico. They end up in a resort that's falling down around their ears and find out that they've been double booked over the last half of their stay. Ryan and someone else from the Ireland book decide to join them half way through - so the gang's all back together as Maddie befriends a local girl who grew up in an orphanage and is trying now to make it on her own. In addition, they run into an old high school flame of Ryan's, inciting jealousy in Maddie until she sees that this girl too needs help. You learn slightly less about the Mexican culture in this book as compared to the first two, but it's still an enjoyable read with well developed characters and an interesting plot.

I'd recommed the Notes from a Spinning Planet series for just about anyone who's looking for a fun book. (And the PNG book, particularly, would be great for use in conjunction with missionary studies.)

4 stars out of 5.

As with Playing With Fire, I have two copies of Mexico to give away. So if you'd like one - send me an email (sleepybeth -at- gmail --- replace -at- with @ and pop a .com on the end of the whole thing.) I'll pull winners and announce them on Friday (and also contact you via email).


  1. Good summaries. I'll post my thoughts tomorrow on Mexico. What did you think about the casual drinking and how the author dealt with teen drinking, even alcoholism? lgp

  2. Did you read the Ireland book too, or just Mexico?

    In the Ireland book, Maddie goes on a rampage about how drinking is evil and people who drink can't be Christians, etc. etc. (so a very extreme view in other words) and then gradually switches to the "Who am I to judge" viewpoint (which is almost as annoying as the first, honestly). So after that, I have to say I didn't notice it quite as much in the Mexico book because it was underage drinking - which does happen - and overall I thought she handled it well (i.e. showed it to be a bad thing, esp. in light of taking it to an extreme). Realistically, Ryan's old friend is exactly what many kids today with uninvolved and oblivious parents turn into. So I just saw it as realistic and, given the confines of the situation, handled pretty well.

    That said, I don't have a problem with a drink now and then (which is a vast departure from my family, I realize - we get teased about it). However, it's not frequent enough to have any kind of predictability. I do agree that Sid seems to make alcohol a common part of her life. Is that bad or wrong? I don't really think so because she's responsible and not excessive. Was it necessary? Probably not. Though it did provide a good contrast between responsible adult occasional drinking and irresponsible teen alcoholic binging.

  3. Thanks for your perspective - that's helpful. I did not read Ireland, so maybe that will help. Thanks, too, for being a part of the tour. My review is at Bloggin' Outloud. Lyn

  4. Anonymous11:50 AM


    That does give a new perspective. I didn't read the Ireland book either.


    My WW is up:
    Laura Williams' Musings