Seriously? I Read That?

Archive for the ‘Seriously? You See Dead People?’ Category

shadowedsummerIn a small Louisiana town where nothing exciting has happened since the disappearance of Elijah years before they were even born, fourteen year old Ivy and her best friend Collette, bored with their lives in a boring town, dabble with magic and spirits. It’s all play until Ivy sees the real ghost of the missing boy, Elijah. Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell is a story of a girl haunted by much more than a ghost as she struggles to solve a mystery, navigate a stormy friendship and a first crush, and deal with her own coming-of-age.

While the young girl haunted by a ghost plot has been done before in many incarnations, Shadowed Summer is worth the read. Early on, it becomes apparent that it’s as much a story of a family, a town, secrets, and tragedies both small and large as it is a ghost story. That’s not to say the ghost story is superfluous or feels tacked on to ride the paranormal trend wave. Elijah and his haunting of Ivy is the catalyst that forces Ivy to reevaluate her friends, her family, and all that she has been told.

The setting, post-Katrina Louisiana, in a town named Ondine, where Ivy says people are “bred with God and superstition in [their] blood” is what really won me over. I don’t think this would have worked as well had it been set in suburban New England or amidst urban sprawl. This is an atmospheric novel. It’s very Southern-feeling, mossy and humid.

The characters are likable enough, though at times they seem a little younger than they actually are. Overall, Shadowed Summer read like a middle-grade novel, and I think it would be entirely appropriate for the older members of that audience.


Rating: 4 witch boards out of 5.

Skeleton Creek

Something strange is going on in Skeleton Creek and Ryan and his best friend Sarah are determined to find out what that something really is. There’s just one small problem: Ryan is trapped in his house with a broken leg after an accident at the local dredge, the apparent hot-spot of strange happenings in Skeleton Creek, and his and Sarah’s parents have forbidden them from contacting each other. But Ryan and Sarah decide that the risk of getting caught is outweighed by the importance of what they must do. Ryan and Sarah continue digging into the mysteries of Skeleton Creek, aware of the danger they may already be in.

Skeleton Creek book 1 is presented as Ryan’s journal. Inside are clues and remembrances of his accident and research he and Sarah have undertaken. As Sarah continues her own investigating, she sends Ryan passwords to videos she has uploaded to her website. Readers are invited to view the videos, using the passwords provided in the book.

Like Cathy’s Book and The 39 Clues series, Skeleton Creek is an interactive book. The story exists in print and in online videos, making the book more of a live experience. Ryan’s journal is narrated as it happens, so readers are sucked right into the action.

Skeleton Creek is a voyeuristic experience. While reading the journal and watching the videos it is as if you’ve come across something you shouldn’t really be privy to.

Skeleton Creek is a quick, fast-paced read with plenty of creepy, atmospheric suspense. The sense of creepiness is only heightened by the videos which add a nice dimension to the book, blurring the line between reality and fantasy. Quite a few moments made me a jump a little. Very well-done.

It should be noted that while the book can be read and understood without the videos, the videos should be watched to get the full experience (not to mention to see the amazing cliff-hanger).

Book 2 comes out this fall. I’m positive many readers will be counting down the days until they can get another glimpse of the mysteries surrounding Skeleton Creek.

I’m very curious to see how the rest of the series will play out, both in terms of plot and execution.

Rating: 4.5 “little birdies” out of 5.


Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman
Published: February 1st 2009 by Scholastic Press
Binding: Hardcover, 144 pages
ISBN: 0545075661
Reading Level: Young Adult

I see dead people; don’t tell my crazy family.

Sparrow Delaney, the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter can see, smell, and hear dead people, a fact she desperately tries to hide from her eager, psychic-filled family. Ignoring her gift reaches it’s height of difficulty when she starts receiving messages from a very persistent ghost. Sparrow is forced to decide between protecting her secret or helping a friend in need.

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney is a fun book that combines mystery, a little romance, and a traditional coming of age tale. Sparrow is highly likable as a character and as narrator. She’s well-developed and her portrayal is believable and honest. Other characters, mainly her 6 sisters, are not as well developed, and their personalities are basically dictated by their names (all 7 sisters are names after birds). This is a slight weakness, but does not distract from the many strengths of the novel. This is Sparrow’s novel, and her immense likability is what I imagine will win most readers over.

I’d recommend The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney even to those that do not enjoy paranormal plots, as there is much more to this novel than just ghost and seances.

Rating: 4 spirit guides out of 5.

Book #1 for the YA Challenge

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney by Suzanne Harper
Reading level:
Young Adult
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (May 27, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0061131601

Where else you can find me:

Books That Go Bump in the Night- Halloween and scary books for kids and teens. My other blog.