These fledgling ghost busters and their adventures should enchant readers.

THE GHOST ON FIREFLY LANE

From the Pekin Dewlap Mystery series , Vol. 2

Three amiable, young ghost hunters learn lessons the hard way in this second installment of a middle-grade mystery series.

Pekin Dewlap grew up in the spirit world, able to see ghosts. But when the teenage Pekin hadn’t seen any since age 12, she missed the talent that made her feel special. So she started a ghost-busting business with her best friends, Amber and Scout. Later, Pekin developed a crush on Scout. In this second outing, the trio is recruited by the Dwyers, who wish to help their longtime ghost, a crying woman searching for her missing baby, to cross over. After talking with the Dwyers’ elderly neighbors, the Mastersons, the teens identify the spirit as Lily Grayson, who died during childbirth in the house. Shortly after Lily’s death, her husband, Ron, sold the place, then moved away with their infant daughter, Violet. But identifying Lily is only their first challenge. Lily reacts violently when Pekin tries to talk to her about Violet. Ron and Violet reject the team’s efforts to bring them to the Dwyers’ house. The friends then seek aid from their mentor, Mildew, and friendly ghost Miranda, whom they rescued in McCord’s (The Haunting of Elmwood Manor, 2019) series opener. This time out, the author shows the growth of Pekin, Amber, and Scout. Mildew offers them the opportunity to learn from her experiences, teaching them the tricks of the trade so they’re more prepared for danger. That promises to become even more important in future volumes, as McCord foreshadows Pekin’s starting to regain her paranormal ability. The friends also discover that every ghost requires different handling methods. On the personal side, while Amber is blissful in a relationship with jock Josh Parker, Pekin and Scout are stuck in romantic limbo, which interferes with their case until stress leads to a breakthrough. This sequel, with no villain, does lack the suspense of the first volume. And even though the ghost hunt only lasts a week, the pace seems too leisurely, with the teens having time for normal activities while on duty at the Dwyers’ home. Still, this charming mystery remains a step forward for the trio’s Ghost Company.

These fledgling ghost busters and their adventures should enchant readers.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947392-73-1

Page Count: 225

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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