A sweet adventure that celebrates the wisdom of young and old generations.

THE GIRL IN THE BLUE TIE-DYE SHIRT

A MUD STREET MISFITS ADVENTURE

This middle-grade novel tells the story of a musically talented young man who hits his head, gains a strange ability, and draws his friends into a mystery.

In the small town of Ozark, Liam MacLeod and his best friend, Connor Harrison, ride their bikes to Ashford Park. Liam crashes and ends up with five stitches in his temple. Later, in school, he suffers a headache during a test, which heightens his stress over a school orchestra dress rehearsal. He also must deal with bullies Dylan, Kaylee, and Brandon. Despite these distractions, Liam plays bass well during the rehearsal, and his teacher, Mr. Walsh, nominates him for the Musicians Honors Performance Program. After school, on Mud Street, Liam and his sister, Molly, head to Connor’s house to hear a new vinyl record that his uncle gave him—the Allman Brothers’ 1972 album “Eat a Peach.” While listening, Liam holds the used album’s sleeve—and somehow, he’s briefly transported to a different bedroom with “wood-paneled walls and dirty red carpet.” There, he sees a crying girl in a blue, tie-dyed shirt—just before finding himself back at Connor’s place. Liam begins researching extrasensory perception and hears a story from his dad, Lloyd, about a spectral visit that he received from his own grandmother just before she died. Curiosity becomes fright, however, when the sobbing girl again appears to Liam during orchestra practice. Connor suggests that the Mud Street gang should track down the record’s previous owner—Greg Ortman, who wrote his name on the sleeve—to solve the puzzle. For their nostalgic debut, authors O’Dell and Lauderdale craft a musical mystery that will appeal to children and adults. Though clearly set in modern times (Liam uses Google and Wikipedia), the kids experience an idyllic childhood with bike rides, engaged parents, and secret missions into a nearby city. In total, there are five Mud Streeters, including Liam’s classmate Sarah and her younger brother, David, yet the narrative doesn’t attempt to give everyone equal time, instead choosing to focus on Liam and Connor. This is a wise decision that makes for an exceptionally well-paced story. Side characters, such as Cora, a psychic expert and the owner of a shop called Cora’s Crystals, appear briefly but memorably; she intriguingly tells the kids, “I didn’t realize it was already Wednesday,” as if she was expecting their visit. The authors also grasp that their audience may have a nascent interest in both scientific and supernatural phenomena, and they offer great jumping-off points for further research, as in the line, “matter on a subatomic level exists essentially as vibration.” Parents will be tickled by mentions of the rock band Rush and 1970s radio hits, such as Blue Öyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” However, they may be less enthusiastic about the kids’ dangerous overnight undertaking in the tale’s final third. Nevertheless, most readers will reach the end wanting to get to know the Mud Street Misfits better.

A sweet adventure that celebrates the wisdom of young and old generations.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 110

Publisher: Mud Street Misfits LLC

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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