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She’s Still Here

Kate Sablowsky just moved to Iowa with her famous news anchor mom, Maria Silver. Following the move, Kate starts the seventh grade at Ravendale middle school, where she discovers more than just a cast of kooky teachers. She quickly finds out that she has a gift passed down that allows her to see and speak with the dead. With this skill, she meets Jane, a shy girl who loves chemistry but who died a tragic death in school over 20 years ago. Jane is not fully sure of why and how she died; is there possibly a killer on the loose? You can find out in the first installment of the Kate Sablowsky Paranormal Investigator Series, She’s Still Here by Caitlin Alexander!

This exciting book is a much-welcomed refresh to the middle-grade detective/horror genre. It has all of the simple but entertaining qualities of a classic Nancy Drew mixed with the spookiness of John Bellairs’ works.

Alexander’s writing is simplistic in language but has enough complexities in the plot to make the book appropriate for the targeted audience. As an adult reading this, I was still thoroughly entertained and engaged. Throughout the book, Alexander hints that the killer may still walk amongst the school halls, but all is not what it seems, and I appreciated that final twist to make the book less predictable.

Seeing as She’s Still Here is the first book in a series, I am hoping to see Kate’s character grow and evolve. I feel that Kate comes off as a bit shallow and unwilling to embrace small-town life at the start. The characters encounter typical teenage social situations and struggle to adjust and fit in with peers. Middle-grade readers will be able to relate and sympathize with the characters’ feelings as they navigate middle school. These themes are mixed into the storyline seamlessly next to the paranormal mystery and adventure components.

She’s Still Here by Caitlin Alexander is a gripping paranormal mystery and adventure novel for middle-grade readers that a wide age group can enjoy. I look forward to reading more books in this series.

Pages: 184 | ASIN : B0BHFDRYVW

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The Warlock’s Curse

Avoiding bullying behavior from their peers, navigating around their parents’ fights, and working hard to find hope in the ramshackle family manor of Seacrest, life as teenage twins Angelica and Clara Grace know it has never been easy. Trapped in a never-ending cycle of despair, desperation nearly overtakes the sisters…until everything changes. Meeting new friends and allies, Clara and Angelica are thrown into a marvelous adventure that spans the multiverse, facing deadly villains, exploring new realms, and encountering numerous new compatriots on a quest that will determine the fate of the universe itself.

The Warlock’s Curse by C.B. Oresky is a thought-provoking journey across the cosmos. Centered around two girls who are anything but ordinary, the story of overcoming personal problems and fighting to save countless lives has multiple layers of depth. This fantastic tale dares to explore multi-dimensional travel, differing modes of existence, and deep philosophical themes seldom found in middle-grade fiction. The bond between the twins can be stormy but always comes through in the end. I loved the ever-telescoping cast of characters, from gentle Phileus to the stalwart captain, as the book comes to a Tolkienesque end sequence that leaves the reader satisfied with the possibility of many more adventures to come.

While this intelligent story has many high notes, a few passages, particularly the House of Truth sequence, seemed to go on a bit long. The biggest detraction in the story for me was the interactions other characters had with Clara. A shy, often nervous girl, Clara must fight to overcome her inner fears. While reading the story, it seemed to me that Clara suffers from an anxiety disorder, which is a form of disability rather than the inherent character flaw others in the story treat it as. I would have loved to see Clara overcome her fears by receiving love and support from those around her rather than encountering impatience and disdain from nearly every member of the cast. 

That said, this thrilling middle-grade novel is a memorable journey across the fabric of the universe itself. It is recommended for ages 13 and up due to its violence, mention of suicide, and advanced philosophical concepts. This thrilling race to protect the multiverse is perfect for any avid readers of complex fantasy adventures. The Warlock’s Curse is an incredible journey through familiar and completely new worlds as twins Clara and Angelica risk everything to protect life across the dimensions.

Pages: 371 | ASIN : B0B7KHB2RB

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