Tag Archives: paranormal

The Magician and the Spirits by Deborah Noyes

The Magician and the Spirits by Deborah Noyes. August 22, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 160 p. ISBN: 9780803740181.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.9; Lexile: 1250.

A century ago, the curious idea that spirits not only survive death but can be contacted on the “other side” was widespread. Psychic mediums led countless seances, claiming to connect the grieving with their lost relations through everything from frenzied trance writing to sticky expulsions of ectoplasm.

The craze caught Harry Houdini’s attention. Well-known by then as most renowned magician and escape artist, he began to investigate these spiritual phenomena. Are ghosts real? Can we communicate with them? Catch them in photographs? Or are all mediums “flim-flammers,” employing tricks and illusions like Houdini himself?

Peopled with odd and fascinating characters, Houdini’s gripping quest will excite readers’ universal wonderment with life, death, and the possibility of the Beyond.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Murder, Suicide

 

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 19))
Grades 5-8. Plenty has been written about Houdini’s iconic escape routines and stage magic, but in this biography, Noyes focuses on a lesser-known facet of his career: his mission to debunk spiritualists. After his mother died, Houdini wanted to believe in the possibility of contact from beyond the grave. But his career gave him singular insight into tricks mediums deployed during seances, and, angered by the thought of mediums swindling grief-stricken people, he became determined to reveal the fakery of spiritualism. While describing Houdini’s campaign to unmask fraudulent mediums, Noyes offers compelling tidbits about the many ways spiritualists performed their tricks, and helpful historical context for the popularity of spiritualism. Houdini’s feud with avowed spiritualist Arthur Conan Doyle is particularly fascinating, though the details of their clash get a bit lost. Still, there’s plenty of intriguing information here, often in eye-catching inset boxes with additional background, and Noyes’ attention to Houdini’s outsize personality—a key component of his campaign against spiritualists—adds compelling depth. A worthwhile addition to any nonfiction section, and ideal for kids intrigued by historical oddities.

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2017)
There was a time, not long ago, when many people believed that death was no barrier to staying connected with loved ones. The idea was enthusiastically embraced by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the logically minded Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle saw nothing illogical in the ability of psychic mediums to connect the grief-stricken with their lost relations. A true believer and zealous evangelist for spiritualism, Conan Doyle believed such phenomena as automatic writing, frenzied trances, disembodied voices, levitating tables, ghost photography, and oral expulsions of ectoplasm were real and perfectly rational. Conan Doyle’s friend Harry Houdini was dubious. The most renowned magician and escape artist of his time knew plenty about tricking audiences, and his investigations into these spiritual phenomena convinced him that mediums used trickery and illusion to dupe people like his friend. Noyes’ engaging narrative explores how Houdini’s public crusade to expose spiritualism as bunk and mediums as frauds strained his relationship with Conan Doyle. The account is illustrated with archival material and densely populated with odd, outrageous characters such as D.D. Home, whose levitation acts saw him sailing out windows feet first, and Eva C. who expelled “ectoplasm” from her mouth during séances. Sidebars take readers down numerous, entertaining detours. A compelling true story of magic, ghosts, science, friendship, deception, feuding, and sleuthing told with great flair. (photos, source notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Deborah Noyes is the author of nonfiction and fiction for young readers and adults, including Ten Days a MadwomanEncyclopedia of the End, One Kingdom, and The Ghosts of Kerfol. She has also compiled and edited the short story anthologies Gothic!, The Restless Dead, and Sideshow. 

She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her website is www.deborahnoyes.com

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Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older

Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older. September 12, 2017. Arthur A. Levine Books, 368 p. ISBN: 9780545952828.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 670.

Shadowhouse rising

Sierra and her friends love their new lives as shadowshapers, making art and creating change with the spirits of Brooklyn. Then Sierra receives a strange card depicting a beast called the Hound of Light—an image from the enigmatic, influential Deck of Worlds. The Deck tracks the players and powers of all the magical houses in the city, and when the real Hound begins to stalk Sierra through the streets, the shadowshapers know their next battle has arrived.

Worlds in revolution

Sierra and Shadowhouse have been thrust into an ancient struggle with enemies old and new—a struggle they didn’t want, but are determined to win. Revolution is brewing in the real world as well, as the shadowshapers lead the fight against systems that oppress their community. To protect her family and friends in every sphere, Sierra must take down the Hound and master the Deck of Worlds…or else she could lose all the things that matter most.

Part of Series: The Shadowshaper Cipher (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Racism, Confrontations with police

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 22))
Grades 8-11. With the same keen eye for the power of art and a sly commentary on the insidious nature of racism and white supremacy—as well as a deft handle on zippy teenage banter and cinematic pacing—Older delivers a fantastic follow-up to his best-selling Shadowshaper (2015), which not only intensifies the stakes of the first book but also expands the scope of his well-wrought, vivid world building. When Sierra receives a creepy card and a dire warning about coming conflict, at first she thinks nothing of it. But that card is part of the enigmatic Deck of Worlds, which reveals the four major houses locked in an age-old power struggle. Unbeknownst to Sierra, she and her shadowshapers are one of those houses, and other houses are in hot pursuit of their power. Older deepens the mythology of shadowshaping in this installment, subtly showcasing how cultural heritage, even the trauma of ancestors, can become a power to wield rather than a burden to bear, not to mention how the history of colonization bleeds into contemporary culture. Plenty of elements have a ripped-from-the-headlines feel, but Older expertly integrates those moments into the wider story and keeps the narrative solidly on Sierra and her quest. The expanding cast of well-rounded characters, clearly choreographed action, and foreshadowing of installments to come will have fantasy fans eagerly awaiting more of this dynamic, smart series.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2017)
Sierra and the shadowshapers are back in this sequel to Shadowshaper (2015).A few months after the close of Shadowshaper, Nuyorican Sierra Santiago has grown in her shadowshaping powers but feels overwhelmed by her new role as Lucera, head of Shadowhouse. One night in Prospect Park, a girl from school attempts to give Sierra a creepy playing card from the Deck of Worlds, warning Sierra that the Deck is in play again and the Sorrows (who tried to wipe out the shadowshapers in the last book) are out to get them once more. Meanwhile, Older paints a compelling picture of contemporary life for black and brown teens in cities: Afro-Latinx Sierra and her friends deal with police harassment and brutality, both on the streets of Bed-Stuy and at school, themes that feel especially timely and relevant. When Sierra learns the Sorrows want her to join them in order to complete their magic, she must take a dangerous chance in order to protect herself and those that she loves. Older excels at crafting teen dialogue that feels authentic, and props to everyone involved for not othering the Spanish language. This second volume features a tighter plot and smoother pacing than the first, and the ending will leave readers eagerly awaiting the further adventures of Sierra and her friends. Lit. (Urban fantasy. 14-adult)

About the Author

Daniel José Older is the New York Times bestselling author of the Young Adult series the Shadowshaper Cypher (Scholastic), the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series (Penguin), and the upcoming Middle Grade sci-fi adventure Flood City (Scholastic). He won the International Latino Book Award and has been nominated for the Kirkus Prize, the Mythopoeic Award, the Locus Award, the Andre Norton Award, and yes, the World Fantasy Award. Shadowshaper was named one of Esquire’s 80 Books Every Person Should Read.

His website is www.danieljoseolder.net

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A Million Junes by Emily Henry

A Million Junes by Emily Henry. May 16, 2017. Razorbill, 350 p. ISBN: 9780448493961.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 760.

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. 

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Underage drinking

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Online))
Grades 9-12. Jack (aka June) O’Donnell IV lives in a place where the divide between the real world and that of ghosts and spirits is thin. These ethereal forces sustain a generations-old feud between the O’Donnells and the Angerts, but when June meets Saul Angert, she only knows he’s beautiful and a kindred soul. The two embark on an odyssey to recover memories of those they loved, learn the truth of their shared history, and maybe put the long feud to rest. With a firm nod to Romeo and Juliet, this supernatural mystery is a gift to readers’ imagination. There are coywolves (a mix of coyote and wolf) who steal shoes so that people can reach the spirit world; “Whites,” puffballs that embody memories that act as clues; and relatable characters tethered and anchored by love. The first-person narrative supports a textured story that is an exploration of duty, family, and faith and yet doesn’t forget the humor of everyday life. Try it with fans of John Green or Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Weight of Feathers (2015).

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2017)
In a town where magic is alive and cherries taste like the sun, the children of two rival families must break a curse that’s haunted them for generations and learn what it means to live with loss.Jack O’Donnell IV—called Jack, Jackie, Junior, or June—knows two things for sure. First, she will always be her father’s daughter, even though he passed when she was 8. Second, she must never, ever interact with the Angerts, or terrible things will happen to both families. But when Saul Angert returns to town and the two literally bump into each other, their chemistry is undeniable—as is the fact that they’re suddenly able to enter their deceased loved ones’ memories. As the recollections lead them closer to the truth about the O’Donnell-Angert vitriol, they also reveal that the father June grew up worshipping was more complicated than he seemed. Early on, readers will fall for the teens’ witty repartee and June’s father’s tall tales, but Henry’s (The Love That Split the World, 2016) beautifully crafted if largely white world, which is rich with a strong best friendship, a complicated writing teacher, and a dreamlike touch—becomes unwieldy as fantasy takes over. A potential treat for readers who enjoy magical realism, but there are stronger examples of the genre, such as Laura Ruby’s Printz-winning Bone Gap. (Magical realism. 12-16)

About the Author

Emily Henry is the author of The Love That Split the World. She is a full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it.

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The Inn Between by Marina Cohen

The Inn Between by Marina Cohen. March 22, 2016. Roaring Brook Press, 208 p. ISBN: 9781626722026.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.3; Lexile: 580.

The Shining meets “Hotel California” in this supremely creepy middle grade novel about the bizarre things that happen to two girls stranded at a desert inn.

Eleven-year-old Quinn has had some bad experiences lately. She was caught cheating in school, and then one day, her little sister Emma disappeared while walking home from school. She never returned

When Quinn’s best friend Kara has to move away, she goes on one last trip with Kara and her family. They stop over at the first hotel they see, a Victorian inn that instantly gives Quinn the creeps, and she begins to notice strange things happening around them. When Kara’s parents and then brother disappear without a trace, the girls are stranded in a hotel full of strange guests, hallways that twist back in on themselves, and a particularly nasty surprise lurking beneath the floorboards. Will the girls be able to solve the mystery of what happened to Kara’s family before it’s too late?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Dark subject matter including death; child abduction; and vivid depiction of hell; Grotesque imagery

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2016 (Online))
Grades 5-8. Long-time friends Quinn and Kara find their friendship sorely tested when Kara’s family moves to California and Quinn accompanies them on a road trip to their new home. An unexpected stop at a strange desert inn full of increasingly spooky disappearances reminds Quinn too vividly of how her younger sister, Emma, went missing earlier that year. When Kara’s parents and brother appear to vanish, Quinn is determined to solve the inn’s mystery. The employees have names that might tip off astute readers to the inn’s real nature—Sharon and Persephone, for instance. Eerie flashbacks to Emma’s plight haunt Quinn, who catches glimpses of the little girl at the inn, but always in places she can’t reach. In an attempt to escape, the girls face increasing terror—a subbasement of horror and a flight across a scorching landscape that further tests the way Quinn and Kara are linked. For readers who enjoy being scared silly, this will fit the bill while also providing them with a thought-provoking ending.

Kirkus Reviews starred (January 1, 2016)
A haunted hotel seeks new victims in this middle-grade suspense novel. Eleven-year-old Quinn’s best friend, Kara, is moving. Quinn is having difficulty letting go, so she makes the trip from Denver to Santa Monica with Kara and her family. When Kara’s parents stop to rest at the Inn Between, a grand Victorian hotel in the desert, Quinn is unnerved by the hotel’s strange architecture, its isolated location, and the odd guests and even odder hotel employees. Kara’s parents and brother disappear after the first night. Knowing they aren’t safe, the girls resolve to escape, even if it means traveling through the hot desert with little food and water, but before Quinn can leave the Inn Between, she must wrestle with some demons–both literally and figuratively. Shifting between past and present as Quinn reflects on her difficult relationship with her younger sister, Emma, and her immediate dilemma with Kara and the Inn Between, Cohen’s emotionally gripping tale perfectly captures the essences of friendship and sibling love. Heavy themes are handled with sensitivity, offering a cathartic experience for readers who may be dealing with similar situations. Readers should not be misled by the book’s innocuous cover–the book deals with such dark subjects as death and child abduction, and the concept of hell is described in vivid, frightening detail. Readers looking for a mystery with heart, humor, and hairy moments will be captivated. (Supernatural fiction. 9-12)

About the Author

Marina Cohen grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, where she spent far too much time asking herself what if… She has an M.A. in French Literature and is the author of several horror and fantasy novels for kids and teens.

In elementary school, one of her favorite authors was Edgar Allen Poe. She loved stories like The Tell-Tale Heart and The Pit and the Pendulum and aspired to write similar stories. She is a lover of the fantastical, the bizarre, and all things creepy.

Her website is www.marinacohen.com.

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The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. April  26, 2016. Scholastic, 448 p. ISBN: 9780545424981.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 760.

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore

Part of Series: The Raven Cycle

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language

 

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist starred (March 1, 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 13))
Grades 9-12. Here it is—the final volume in the Raven Cycle—and it is, simply, a marvel, the strongest and most spacious of the four volumes. This installment finds the world of the Raven Boys (Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah) and their best friend Blue in considerable and dangerous disarray. As strange, increasingly sinister things begin happening in Henrietta and the magic forest of Cabeswater, the search for sleeping king Owen Glendower becomes more imperative, as it becomes apparent that something wicked this way comes. To say more here would be to rob readers of the joy of discovering the book’s many secrets, twists, and surprises. Instead, let’s observe that if writing a book is taking readers’ minds for a walk, Stiefvater never makes a false step. Everything is exactly right: the writing is gorgeous, the characters are brilliantly realized, the compelling plot arises organically from them, the mounting danger and suspense leaves the reader breathless, and the presence of evil is palpable. Best of all, Stiefvater has created a richly imagined, complete world that readers can, with a sense of wonder, inhabit, experiencing viscerally the magic with which it is suffused and falling in love with its unforgettable characters. Like this world she has created, Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle is magic, plain and simple.

Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2016)
A group of Virginia teenagers finally finds a long-buried Welsh king in this conclusion to the four-part Raven Cycle. A demon has infected the magical forest, Cabeswater, killing Ronan’s mother, Aurora, and threatening Ronan’s brother, Matthew, as well as Ronan and maybe the whole world–Gansey knows what he has to do. It’s all been foretold, and readers have been waiting for it since Blue saw him on the corpse road in quartet opener The Raven Boys (2012). For three out of four novels, Stiefvater combined extraordinary magic and visceral reality in a way that felt entirely true. Here, the magic scatters in all directions, and too little of it makes sense. The characters–Ronan, Gansey, long-dead Noah, Blue Sargent, newcomer Henry, and especially Adam–are as multidimensional and fully realized as ever; Ronan and Adam’s budding romance is beautifully told. The writing sings–each sentence, each paragraph marvelously wrought. Yet at the point where the story needs to make the most sense, it makes the least, prophecy and magics piling up on one another in a chaotic, anticlimactic climax. The ending feels trivial, almost mocking the seriousness of the rest of the quartet. Stiefvater couldn’t write a bad book, and this isn’t one, but it is a disappointment after years of glorious buildup. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader.

All of Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she’s tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She’s made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.

Her website is www.maggiestiefvater.com.

Teacher Resources

The Raven Cycle Discussion Guide

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Messenger by Carol Lynch Williams

Messenger by Carol Lynch Williams. October 18, 2016. Paula Wiseman Books, 288 p. ISBN: 9781481457767.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 450.

Evie Messenger knows that her family is different from other families. But it isn’t until her fifteenth birthday that the Messenger gift is revealed to her. Evie has the family’s gift—a special power. Soon she realizes she is able to see and talk to the dead—ghosts—often with no idea who the person was. Or as Evie says: “I see Dead People. It’s a Messenger gift.” That doesn’t mean she wants the Messenger gift. So Evie tries to ignore it but soon she finds she cannot. Can Evie find a way to live her life without letting her power take over?And what if the dead person is someone close to Evie’s family?

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 1, 2016 (Online))
Grades 7-12. In the Messenger family, special skills, or “gifts,” are revealed to girls on their fifteenth birthday. Evie Messenger’s mother has the power to heal, and her aunt Odie has established a successful cooking empire by creating and selling boxed baking mixes. Evie awakens the morning of her fifteenth birthday dying to know what her gift is, until her mother and aunt start acting strangely, and the lines between this life, memory, and the afterlife start to blur. Evie’s gift, as she soon discovers, is an unwanted ability to speak to the dead. The one ray of sunlight in her life is Buddy, the handsome older boy who lives nearby, but even he has a secret. Melancholy and sweet, this coming-of-age tale deals in love, loss, and memories, blending together romance, mystery, and the supernatural for a haunting read. Recommended for fans of mild romance, lingering ghost stories, and reluctant heroines.

Publishers Weekly (August 22, 2016)
Williams’s engaging, supernatural-tinged novel opens in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., on Evie Messenger’s 15th birthday-the day that Messenger women are traditionally bestowed with a special skill that determines their life path. When no new ability presents itself, Evie assumes that the “Messenger Gift” has skipped a generation. After a few days, though, she realizes that Tommie-the intrusive girl who has dogged her ever since her birthday party-is a ghost, and that Evie isn’t just able to communicate with spirits but is expected to help them cross over. Being a teenager is difficult enough without having to tackle the dead’s unresolved issues, too. Can Evie strike a balance, or will her gift render normal life impossible? Relatable characters and a down-to-earth narrative carry Williams’s story to a pat yet emotionally gratifying conclusion. The plot is slight, but clever twists and efficient worldbuilding keep the pace swift, and Williams (Never Said) makes smart use of her premise to encapsulate what it’s like to straddle the line between childhood and adolescence. Ages 12-up. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary. (Oct.)

About the Author

Carol Lynch Williams is an author of Young Adult and Middle Grade novels. As of 2016, Williams is the conference director for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference and is a professor of creative writing at Brigham Young University.

Her website is www.carollynchwilliams.com.

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The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker

The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker. October 11, 2016. Skyscape, 380 p. ISBN: 9781503938823.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

It’s never wise to talk to strangers…and that goes double when they’re dead. Unfortunately, seventeen-year-old Anna Morgan has no choice. Resting on a park bench, touching the turnstile at the Metro station—she never knows where she’ll encounter a ghost. These mental hitchhikers are the reason Anna has been tossed from one foster home and psychiatric institution to the next for most of her life.

When a chance touch leads her to pick up the insistent spirit of a girl who was brutally murdered, Anna is pulled headlong into a deadly conspiracy that extends to the highest levels of government. Facing the forces behind her new hitcher’s death will challenge the barriers, both good and bad, that Anna has erected over the years and shed light on her power’s origins. And when the covert organization seeking to recruit her crosses the line by kidnapping her friend, it will discover just how far Anna is willing to go to bring it down.

Part of Series: The Delphi Trilogy

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns; Strong language; Violence; Sexual assault; Human trafficking

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Publishers Weekly Annex (October 10, 2016)
Anna Morgan, an intermittently homeless teenager, has a tendency to pick up psychic “hitchhikers”: the remnants of dead souls, who need Anna’s help with their unfinished business. When Anna comes into contact with Molly, a teenage girl who was kidnapped by her stepfather and murdered by the son of a U.S. senator, she tries to put things right by reaching out to Molly’s grandfather, a gruff cop. Instead, Anna stumbles onto a nefarious conspiracy: the man who murdered Molly has psychic powers, and he’s continuing abandoned military research in an attempt to forcibly develop others’ psychic abilities. He’s ruthless and untouchable, and now Anna and her adoptive brother, Deo, are on his radar. Anna and Deo are a charismatic duo, and the story benefits from its focus on their connection as members of a found family rather than Anna’s budding romance with Aaron, a boy Molly knew. But the book-first in the Delphi trilogy from Walker (the Chronos Files)-suffers from a bloated plot and an overabundance of backstory. The middle of the book sags under its weight, and the story builds to a dissatisfying cliffhanger. Ages 13-up. (Oct.)

About the Author

Rysa Walker is the author of the bestselling Chronos Files series. Timebound, the first book in the series, was the Young Adult and Grand Prize winner in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.

Rysa grew up on a cattle ranch in the South, where she read every chance she got. On the rare occasion that she gained control of the television, she watched Star Trek and imagined living in the future, on distant planets, or at least in a town big enough to have a stop light.

She currently lives in North Carolina, where she is working on her next series, The Delphi Project. If you see her on social media, please tell her to get back into the writing cave.

Her website is rysa.com.

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The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud

The Creeping Shadow: Lockwood & Co. Book 4 by Jonathan Stroud. September 13, 2016. Disney-Hyperion, 464 p. ISBN: 9781484709672.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.0; Lexile: 690.

After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them–and only them–to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. But, in a shocking cliffhanger ending, the team learns that someone has been manipulating them all along….

Part of Series: Lockwood & Company

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Murder; Violent imagery; Cannibalism; Suicide

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 4))
Grades 5-8. Though Lucy’s making a go of it as a freelance psychic investigator, when Lockwood knocks on her door, asking for help with a case, she’s willing to work with the old firm again. Their tasks escalate from eradicating the ghost of a cannibalistic Londoner to descending, unarmed, into a den of brutal thugs and thieves. Soon the four young Lockwood agents stumble upon their most alarming and momentous challenge yet. Dispatching a vicious ghost is one thing, but uncovering a vast scheme of calculated evildoing is quite another. While the novel’s epic climax will please any lover of chills, thrills, and explosions, the simultaneous conversational counterpoint is not to be missed. A revelation in the concluding pages will leave readers wondering what dark secret lies behind the plague of spirits terrorizing England for 50 years. The wry first-person narrative is a pleasure, relating the story with an impeccable, understated sense of drama. Appearing at chapter headings, Adams’ dark, richly atmospheric, and often ghostly vignette drawings can make even a sandwich look downright sinister. Stroud’s scene setting and storytelling are second to none, but it’s his ability to create credible, idiosyncratic characters and relationships that makes avid fans of the Lockwood & Co. series.

About the Author

Jonathan Stroud is an author of fantasy books, mainly for children and youths.

Stroud grew up in St Albans where he enjoyed reading books, drawing pictures, and writing stories. Between the ages seven and nine he was often ill, so he spent most of his days in the hospital or in his bed at home. To escape boredom he would occupy himself with books and stories. After he completed his studies of English literature at the University of York, he worked in London as an editor for the Walker Books store. He worked with different types of books there and this soon led to the writing of his own books. During the 1990s, he started publishing his own works and quickly gained success.

Stroud lives in St Albans, Hertfordshire, with his two children, Isabelle and Arthur, and his wife Gina, an illustrator of children’s books.

His website is www.jonathanstroud.com.

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The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

The Midnight Star by Marie Lu. October 11, 2016. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 336p. ISBN: 9780399167850.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 800.

There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all she’s gained.

When a new danger appears, Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds, putting not only herself at risk, but every Elite. In order to preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu concludes Adelina’s story with this haunting and hypnotizing final installment to the Young Elites series.

Sequel to: The Rose Society

Part of Series: The Young Elites (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Discrimination; War; Violence; Mild sexual themes; Alcohol

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 6))
Grades 9-12. Lu brings her Young Elites trilogy to a thunderous close with this final installment. Illusion-weaver Adelina Amouteru has gained more power—and a crueler reputation—than she’d ever dreamed. Now a conqueror queen, she unleashes her brutal justice on a society that once debased people like her: those who bear the scars (and, occasionally, mystical powers) left by a deadly disease. Adelina’s beloved sister, Violetta, has fled to the Elites, who once sheltered and trained Adelina before she betrayed them, and Adelina wants her back. But Adelina’s powers are faltering; her illusions cause her to weaken, she hears terrible voices in her head, and she’s plagued with vicious nightmares. The powers of the Elites are failing, too, and when Violetta falls mysteriously ill, Adelina must once again join forces with them to save both her sister and the world she’s hated. Lu puts the final pieces of this world into place here; the scope only grows as her beautifully developed characters prepare to take on the gods themselves. The Rose Society (2015) remains the strongest volume of this trilogy—some readers might find Adelina too easily forgiven as her dark heart thaws and her redemption arc begins—but this is a worthy, bittersweet end. More than ever, it is the bond between sisters and the struggle to be human that take center stage in this heartrending finale.

Kirkus Reviews (October 15, 2016)
The affecting conclusion to the Young Elites trilogy relishes ardent emotion but is never mawkish. Adelina Amouteru, once a hated malfetto, is now fast becoming the queen of the known world. Her Kenettran army has conquered Domacca, northern Tamoura, and finally Dumor. Inquisitors enforce her harsh rule, and the tables have been turned: survivors of the blood fever who were tortured and burned as malfettos under the old powers are known as those marked by the gods and have free rein to maltreat their former tormentors. Even Adelina’s beloved, Magiano, thinks she’s become too cruel, but invisible voices plague Adelina, whispering that her closest allies are plotting with her enemies. The superpowered Young Elites are all struggling with powers gone awry; invulnerable Teren has wounds that will not heal, and storm-bringer Sergio is endlessly thirsty. There is an imbalance in the world, and it can only be fixed if the Young Elites work together. The multinational characters are primarily olive- or brown-skinned, with a few pale Beldish redheads scattered throughout; Adelina seems to see brown-skinned Magiano as exotic, with his “mess of long braids” and “smile full of white teeth.” The primary romantic pairing is between Adelina and Magiano, but among the background liasons, one potential same-sex relationship ends in tragedy and another in happiness. Like many a classic antihero’s, Adelina’s trajectory is both sobering and satisfying. (Fantasy. 13 & up))

About the Author

Marie Lu is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Legend, Prodigy, and Champion, as well as The Young Elites. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic), with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

Her website is www.marielu.org.

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