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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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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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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