Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Review: Embassy of the Dead by Will Mabbitt

Some say that children (and cats) can see things no one else can. Some children are referred to as sensitive because they can sense when something is off...or they can tell when something paranormal is near. ⁣
Jake Green is sensitive, and when he coincidentally meets (and talks to!) his first ghost (spectre to be exact), Stiffkey, he mistakenly takes a package meant for someone else. Now that he’s opened the package, the Embassy of the Dead is looking for him, and they won’t stop until the grim reaper Mawkins finds Jake and plunges him into the Eternal Void. ⁣
Releasing in September, (author) Will Mabbitt) and (illustrator) Taryn Knight take young readers on a ghost-filled adventure as Jake and Stiffkey (with the help of a spirited young ghost named Cora) set to make things right. ⁣
I love ghost stories, especially ones where the writer, and in this case writer and illustrator) can create an entire world set with the living and the dead.⁣
Mabbitt creates a paranormal universe that reminds me of Beetlejuice with quirky ghosts and a journey to the spirit world. Knight’s illustrations bring the characters (both dead and undead) to life throughout the book. Together, they show young readers a world outside of reality (for James, dealing with his parents’ separation). ⁣
Their first book in a new series, I can’t wait to read more of Jake’s paranormal adventures

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Review: The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins

“Because the cost of light is darkness.”⁣
Out for publication (@candlewickpress) in September, Hayley Chewins creates a magical new world for young readers. Straygarden Place is no ordinary house, and the Ballastian sisters are no ordinary sisters. ⁣
Mayhap, Winnow, and Pavonine Ballastian were brought to Straygarden by their parents who were seeking botanical research. ⁣
For reasons unknown, they leave the girls with explicit instructions: “Do not leave the house. Do not go into the grass. Wait for us. Sleep darkly.” Being stuck in a place is hard, even a magical house like Straygarden that takes care of every material need you may have, and Mayhap catches Winnow sneaking outside into the grass. That’s where the book begins. ⁣
What follows is a mystery filled with magical, talking objects and an unbroken bond between sisters as they fight to save Winnow from the silver poison.⁣
Chewins invents unique vocabulary (dog=droomhund) and labels for her characters, human and inhuman, as well as a story never told before.⁣
Readers are transported in and through Straygarden as each room in the house, each page in the book, presents a new adventure. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Feature/Brief Review: Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis

Truth is a human right. ⁣
You’ve probably heard of Lindsay Ellis through YouTube and PBS. From the publisher: “It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government—and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.”⁣
Ellis explores government secrets, aliens, abduction in a way that has never been written before. Entertaining and insightful, Ellis presents the truth, or lack thereof, in a science-fiction novel that sometimes doesn’t seem so fictional. ⁣

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Review: Give This Heart a Pen by Sophia Thakur

I always believe it’s easier to review fiction than poetry. There’s just something about poetry that lends itself to individual interpretation, and one’s review of someone else’s poetry tends to be subpar. 

But, let’s give it a go, shall we? 

Sophia Thakur begins with the process: two poems that discuss the writing process as a “natural process of the heart”. Not just the writing process itself but the ebb and flow of life and one’s ability to “always restart”. Through the four sections (Grow, Wait, Break, Grow Again), Thakur’s heart bleeds onto the black and white pages. 

Writing poetry is hard because your bare your soul to the world in a raw and sometimes uninviting way, but there’s nothing undesirable here. Thakur’s words beg to be read and cherished and reread.  

She has so many verses that destined for immortality.  Be sure to get a copy when the book hits the shelves in September.