Satisfying teen entertainment but also a cathartic, uncompromising tribute to New Orleans.


From the Casquette Girls series , Vol. 1

Set in a storm-ravaged New Orleans, this evocative paranormal romance pits teen heroine Adele against suave ghouls.

Back from Paris and home in New Orleans, high school junior Adele is glad to be away from her coldly distant mother. The city she knew, however, has been destroyed by a superstorm. Adele and her father must adjust to a water-damaged—and frequently nightmarish—reality. Exploring their house, she’s attacked and severely scratched by a crow. Then one night, near her indefinitely closed school, she finds a corpse. This chilling episode leads to an even more surreal event, in which a convent’s shuttered window explodes, showering Adele with debris. After a large metal stake rolls near her and she grabs it, a supernatural talent begins to awaken within her. Later, she reconnects with friends and meets newcomers Gabe and Niccolò Medici, who search New Orleans for missing relatives. At home, she uses her strange new control over metal to discover the hidden diary of Adeline Saint-Germaine, her 18th-century ancestor. The diary speaks of European girls traveling to America with royal dowries in wooden boxes; the girls also used witchcraft to keep vampires at bay. Gradually, Adele sees connections among New Orleans’ high murder rate, her uncanny abilities and Saint-Germaine’s tale. Debut author Arden offers readers a full plate of Southern gothic atmospherics and sparkling teen romance in a patiently crafted tale that will best reward careful readers. Adele is a strong, sensible protagonist who’s just vulnerable enough: “His hand swept my neck as he delicately picked up the thin silver chain, following the tightly woven links all the way down to the two charms dangling at my waist.” Her winning characterization is topped off with subtly drawn superpowers: “Careful not to let them clink on the glass [of the jar] and bring attention to what I was doing, I smiled as a dime did a swan-dive to join the pirouetting nickels.” Best of all, Arden’s insights regarding her fragile city color the narrative with tragic realism: “Everything we drove past—an abandoned supermarket, a dilapidated bank, a gym, a hamburger chain, a laundry mat, a pizza joint, a housing project—everything had that same distinct mark of the Storm left on it: the water line.”

Satisfying teen entertainment but also a cathartic, uncompromising tribute to New Orleans.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989757706

Page Count: 428

Publisher: fortheARTofit Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

Did you like this book?

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?