A dramatic thriller featuring a wily, young protagonist who tackles crime with the ingenuity of a seasoned professional.

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Blood Dolls

From the Fiona Frost series , Vol. 5

Teenage investigator Fiona Frost returns to help stop a serial killer causing vehicular accidents across the United States in Blossman’s (Fiona Frost: Shillingstone Witch, 2015, etc.) YA novel.

Fiona will soon be leaving behind her renowned forensic training program for an internship at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Agent Richard Jonas, however, has the interns forgo the 30-day program so that they can assist in catching the Blood Doll Killer, who’s been dropping blood-filled porcelain dolls from bridges onto passing cars with fatal results. Things are off to a shaky start when wealthy Remy Sinclair, who’d previously “stalked and manipulated” Fiona, joins the internship, along with Fiona’s boyfriend, Wolfe Nero, and best friend, Maddie Christie. As the killer’s murderous efforts continue in various cities, Jonas surprises the four teenagers by taking them into the field. Fiona eventually suspects a link between the Blood Doll Killer and the Bleak Society, a group that’s been hijacking TV networks and asserting a mission to bring criminals to justice. Corresponding to this is her speculation that the accidents aren’t as random as they appear. As the mystery slowly unravels, Fiona remains on call regarding another threat: a potentially deliberate salmonella outbreak. Along the way, she juggles the investigation with her personal life; Wolfe and Maddie are both miffed that she readily forgives the apologetic Remy for his past behavior. But such troubles have to wait when the killer calls Fiona to let her know she’s scheduled to die next. Blossman’s novel is a consummate mix of mystery and drama. Although narrator Fiona persistently notes Wolfe’s handsomeness, their endearing romance never overwhelms the investigation plot. However, the teens mostly just proffer theories, and the FBI’s investigation would likely have been much the same without them. The possibility of supernatural elements, though, shows Fiona’s flexibility, as she sets aside her skepticism in light of peculiar evidence. It also leads to a convoluted pile of suspects and murder scenarios that are fortunately cleared up by the time the story finds a resolution. Blossman’s prose is intelligent and refined, but it’s not above a hilarious bit in which Fiona and Wolfe endure a flatulent taxi driver.

A dramatic thriller featuring a wily, young protagonist who tackles crime with the ingenuity of a seasoned professional.

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9965248-1-0

Page Count: 290

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2016

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A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath...

GREGORY AND THE GRIMBOCKLE

In this debut middle-grade novel, a lonely boy finds friendship and learns about the magic of human connection.

Defined by the large mole on his lip, 10-year-old Gregory has grown distant from his family. He is friendless and withdrawn. Then one night a strange little creature emerges from Gregory’s mole. It is riding a (quite lovable) cockroach and can change size. This is the Grimbockle. The Grimbockle—one of many Bockles, who, like Palmer Cox’s Brownies, live at the peripheries of human awareness—tends to the exoodles that bind people together. Exoodles are long, transparent, noodlelike threads and are usually invisible. Once Gregory has his eyeballs painted with Carrot Juicy, though, he can see them. He joins the Grimbockle and the roach, traveling the exoodles as if on a high-speed roller coaster. Exoodles wither and die when people don’t look after their relationships. The Grimbockle is trying to repair a particularly sickly exoodle that links a boy to his mother. Can Gregory help—and can he mend the exoodles in his own life? Schubert follows delightedly in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, opening her unfortunate young protagonist’s eyes to a previously unseen world both weird and wondrous (yet for all its outlandish magic, oddly logical). The scenario is one of riotous imagination, while the Grimbockle himself—brought sweetly to life in black-and-white illustrations by Kraft—is a sprightly and good-natured little person, full of the type of singsong infelicities found in Dahl’s beloved nonhuman characters: “Is you ever seeing glimpses of squiggles in the corners of your twinklers but then they is disappearing in a snippety blink?” “ ‘Exoodles!’ shouted the Grimbockle in triumph. ‘Sometimes, hoo-mans is getting so twisty and wound up in extra exoodles that they is feeling gloomy blue and heavy all day long.’ ” The story is perhaps too much of a parable to fully match Dahl’s template; the adventure is safer and the threats less dark. Nonetheless, readers should fall willingly and with thrilled abandon into the fizzy, fanciful world of Gregory and his Grimbockle friend.

A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath surface appearances.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9911109-3-3

Page Count: 153

Publisher: New Wrinkle Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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A story with a tried-and-true plot that needs to freshen up its presentation.

The Lost Little Rabbit

A lost bunny searches for his mother in this debut picture book.

The youngster is already lost in the beginning of Lakhiani’s version of the time-honored tale of a lost child reuniting witha parent. On a foggy day, a young rabbit finds that he doesn’t recognize where he is. He calls for his mother, but instead of her voice in response, he hears the hum of a bumblebee. The nameless little rabbit asks if the bee knows where his home is, but the bee doesn’t and sends him on to the wise owl, who “sees everything.” As the little rabbit runs through the “eerie” fog toward the owl’s tree, he meets a kind squirrel. “I’ve lost my mother….I am lost and scared,” explains the little rabbit. The squirrel leads the rabbit to the wise owl’s tree, which the rabbit climbs to ask the owl, “[C]an you see where I live?” The fog is too thick for the owl to spot little rabbit’s home, so he gives the little rabbit a snack and invites him to rest. Falling asleep, the little rabbit dreams of his mother but is awakened by the hooting, buzzing and chattering of his three new friends. Looking around, he sees his mother, who embraces him: “I will never again let you out of my sight,” she tells him. The digitized art by Adams, some of which is credited to Thinkstock, is in a cartoon style that clearly delineates the characters but includes a few anthropomorphic details—a graduation cap for the owl, spectacles for the squirrel and only four legs for the bee—that add little value. Since the story centers on the little rabbit failing to recognize where he is, the choice to make the right-hand page of every spread identical is potentially confusing; regardless, it’s repetitious. The text fails in the opposite direction: It doesn’t create the typical patterns that can help toddlers follow the story, build anticipation and learn to chime in—steps on the path to reading alone. Erratic rhythms, changing stanza lengths and rhyme schemes, and awkward syntax undercut attempts to enliven the tale with poetry.

A story with a tried-and-true plot that needs to freshen up its presentation.

Pub Date: May 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491895603

Page Count: 24

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2015

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