Wishing and Waiting Wednesday

Wishing and Waiting Wednesday (June 28)

WWWWishing and Waiting Wednesday is an original weekly meme to spotlight two books that have been on my to buy list and TBR shelf for a little too long.

 

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23719408Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.

Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls. When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie.

As Edwidge Danticat has made personal the legacy of Haiti’s political coming of age, Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees uses one woman’s lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.

 

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WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS by Anna-Marie McLemore

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up 

 

 

 

 

What books are wishing and waiting for this Wednesday?

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Reviews

Review: WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI

CaptureBook: WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI
Author: Sandhya Menon
Rating: 5/5
Rep: Indian/Indian-American, feminism, sex-positivity.

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Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Never have I rooted for a couple as hard as I rooted for Dimple and Rishi.

Right out of the gate, I knew I was going to love Dimple Shah. There’s just something about girls who love their parents but still roll their eyes at them that set my heart on fire. I did not, however, expect to love Rishi the way I did. Seriously, I want a “Protect Rishi Patel at all costs” shirt.

The book starts out with Dimple’s mom hounding her about being more womanly and needing to “fix herself up” to find the IIH- Ideal Indian Husband. I was cringing the entire time but then Dimple broke out with “Mom, your so misogynistic!” and I immediately fell in love. While I am not Indian American, I do understand traditional cultures, aunties, and how sometimes that older generation doesn’t understand why the younger can’t be, well, more submissive and seeing Dimple give it right back to them was a blast of fresh air. I also loved Dimple’s dad- how he sort of just went along with the flow and really only wanted both of the ladies in his life to be happy. Even if they did have ulterior motives (seemingly), I also loved how both parents were willing to front money for their child’s education. That’s an element I sometimes feel is missing from a lot of diverse books- PoC and Native/Indigenous parents are usually willing to sacrifice everything to give their kid an education.

While Dimple resists her mom’s push for traditionalism, Rishis Patel embraces it. And this isn’t a ‘I’ll do what my parents say but internally mope about it’. No, Rishi honestly believes in the power of tradition and wants very much to be the good son, even sacrificing what he really wants out of life in order to secure a more “financially secure” future. That part touched me in inexplicable ways. Most YA novels feature MCs who are going to do what they want to do and chase their dreams recklessly. While I appreciate that sentiment, it doesn’t ring true for me. Rishi wants to work towards a future that includes being able to provide for his family, and not just his wife and children. He explicitly states that he wants to be able to take care of his parents in their old age and that felt truer to me than anything else in the book. I come from a fairly traditional background where we take care of our elders (parents, grandparents, uncles/aunties without children) and I think this is what connected me so deeply to Rishi.

If you follow me on twitter, you know my first reacting to Rishi and Dimple meeting was “RISHI NO!” This kid… is a dork. He’s a huge dork. He’s a huge, classy dork who makes bad jokes, can’t dance, and pretty much falls for Dimple the first time he meets her. Dimple is a little more… reluctant. While this book has a happy ending (a big, sweeping, beautiful happy ending), it also stays very true to it’s characters and their beliefs. It was interesting to see a YA story where the love interest had to give in more than the MC and, let’s be honest, I really enjoyed that. I enjoyed seeing the boy give in so that the girl can have what she needs.

This book is also super sex positive. I was a little worried about how sexuality would be treated in the book but it’s definitely portrayed in a positive light. There is a lot of consent-seeking in the book and GREAT communication of what each partner needed or wanted or didn’t want. Dimple’s roommate has a very quick, very random hook-up and she isn’t shamed for it. In fact, the shock of the hook-up isn’t the act itself but rather who her partner was.

I loved the relationship between Rishi and his brother, Ashish, and how we got to see it unfold. Ashish is the exact opposite of Rishi in every respect and there is a lot of tension between them during most of their scenes together. It was nice to see that tension somewhat resolved by the end.

Listen, there is nothing about this book I didn’t like. It’s hard for me to find a YA book that keeps me smiling the whole way through, but this one did. Even when there was a conflict, I knew Dimple and Rishi were going to get their happy ending. Not just because it’s YA contemporary and that’s how it goes, but because they fit together so well and the author developed so much chemistry between the two that there was NO WAY they wouldn’t end up with a happily ever after.

If you’re looking for a feel good book, this one is for you.

Middle Grade Monday

Middle Grade Monday (June 26)

MGMMiddle Grade Monday is an original weekly meme created to spotlight a great middle grade book!

 

249840LETTER IN THE ATTIC by Bonnie Shimko.

I am so in love with this story. I won’t tell you that it’s a particularly hard read or that you’ll take away some great, life-changing message but the book has a feel good vibe that will make even the hardest cynic smile. First, let me say that the synopsis is misleading. If you’re looking for an LGBTQ novel where girl meets girl, falls in love, girl gets a boyfriend but then realizes that she is also in love with a girl… walk away. This is about a young girl maturing and coming to terms with her sexuality and her changing life. Be prepared to fall in love with the minor characters.

Lizzy McMann, A feisty twelve-year-old, lives with her immature mother and Manny, her father (she thinks) in a fleabag Phoenix hotel. One night, Manny’s sudden announcement that he wants a divorce forces mother and daughter to move to upstate New York to live with Lizzy’s grandmother and grandfather—a mixed blessing. At school, Lizzy befriends, then falls in love with, Eva Singer, who is dyslexic, looks like Natalie Wood and lives right down the street. Like all girls her age, Lizzy has to deal with her first period, her first bra and her first boyfriend. But what scares her most is her love for Eva. She is also concerned with getting a new husband for Mama—especially after reading Mama’s letters that she has found in the attic. Then Eva gets a boyfriend and Mama’s life enters what seems to be a new crisis. . . . How Lizzy comes to grips with life’s strange twists and turns makes fascinating reading for adults and young readers alike.

Spotlight Sunday

Spotlight Sunday (June 25)

ssSpotlight Sunday is a weekly post to shed a little light on a book that deserves some love!

 

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Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before Annabeth was killed in a car accident.

Enter Geoff, Quinn’s best friend who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—a hot one—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually have a happily-ever-after ending—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story.

I’ve heard a lot of great things about THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER by Tim Federle. Have any of you read this book?

Reviews

Review: WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS

CaptureBook: WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Rating: 4.5/5
TWs: Abuse, attempted suicide, deadnaming (challenged in text), misgendering (challenged in text).
Rep: Latina (ownvoice), Pakistani-American, trans, Queer (not sure if Peyton was lesbian, bi, or pan).

28220826To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

I was not properly prepared for this book.

Which was probably my fault. I went in only knowing that there was a trans love interest and a girl with roses and that was pretty much it. I’ve seen a fair amount of gushing reviews about how beautiful this book is but I still wasn’t prepared for just how right this book feels.

This is the perfect Autumn book if you’re more into magic than spooky. The story involves a strange cast of characters. Miel, the girl who is afraid of pumpkins and water and grows roses out of her wrist. Samir, a boy who just wants to call his body what he wants. The Bonner sisters, a near sinister group of girls who have their own set of secrets. Aracely, a woman shaped by the river. The setting of this book flits between a violet house, a pumpkin patch full of increasingly glass pumpkins, and the woods that house a stained glass coffin. This book is a sensory experience and more character driven than plot oriented, but McLemore makes it work. No, she more than makes it work- she leaves you desperately wanting more.

While this book pretends to be an almost fairytale, this is really about two best friends falling in love but learning to accept themselves on their own. It takes Sam owning his own body and name to allow him to let Miel in and Miel has to start moving forward from her traumatic childhood in order to stand up for herself against the Bonner sisters. I did love how in the end, it wasn’t Miel protecting Sam as much as it was Sam protecting himself which is very important.

The magic in the story is so effortless. People believe in magic, people use magic, and it’s just something that is there and accepted. I really appreciated how organically it flowed throughout the story.

There was a lot of commentary on how PoC are treated as outsiders, especially through Samir’s mother. The town trusted her with their children but were always quick to make sure she knew that she was an outsider because of where her family came from. McLemore didn’t hold back on this topic, at all. She’s very bold in her assessment that if you are different from the people around you, it’s like walking a tight-rope… one misstep and it’s all over. Parents love Samir because he paints moons that lull that children to sleep but if they knew that he was trans, they would hate him.

Samir. Good LORD, SAMIR. I had never heard of the Pakistani practice of bacha posh and I was sort of weary about how this would play out in the story since it had been lauded as revolutionary trans rep. However, McLemore beautiful touches on this tradition and what it means for Samir… who doesn’t want to go back to being Samira because that’s not who he is. I also loved the relationship he has with his mother and how she is willing to do anything for her son. There was so much GOOD exploration of gender and sexuality and sex, and it was so great to see this characters explore and not be shamed for that exploration.

I’ve seen a lot of reviews state that they didn’t “get this book”. Honestly, if you’re a reader who needs everything to make sense or needs world building, this book probably isn’t for you. There are a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of “just roll with it” in this book. Why does Miel’s family have a history of rose girls? Why are the Bronner’s parents so apathetic? Are we in modern times? No one knows! This is definitely a book for people who are ok with “suspending disbelief” for the duration of the book.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. To everyone. 100x over.

Forever Friday

Forever Friday (June 23)

ffForever Friday is a weekly post to show a little love to a book I’ll love forever!

 

21969786MORE THAN THIS by Patrick Ness follows the author’s traditional writing style of keeping you entirely off balance until the very end of the story where he then slings you into a wall.

And I love it.

A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies.

Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive.

How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?

As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

I read this book in 2015 and it immediately put me in a book slump. It’s that good. While Seth is Queer, that’s not the central message of the story and it was very refreshing to read a book about a Queer character that was allowed to exist outside of their sexuality.

If you’ve read this book, what are your thoughts on it?

 

Diversity Spotlight

Diversity Spotlight Thursday (June 22)

dstDiversity Spotlight Thursday is hosted by Aimal! This is a weekly meme to spotlight a set of diverse books by asking: what have you read, what’s on your TBR, and what’s releasing soon?

 

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11672159I’m a sucker for any f/f retelling and Sarah Diemer sucked me in with THE DARK WIFE, a reimagined Hades and Persephone story featuring two hot babes falling in love.

Three thousand years ago, a god told a lie. Now, only a goddess can tell the truth. Persephone has everything a daughter of Zeus could want–except for freedom. She lives on the green earth with her mother, Demeter, growing up beneath the ever-watchful eyes of the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus. But when Persephone meets the enigmatic Hades, she experiences something new: choice. Zeus calls Hades “lord” of the dead as a joke. In truth, Hades is the goddess of the underworld, and no friend of Zeus. She offers Persephone sanctuary in her land of the dead, so the young goddess may escape her Olympian destiny. But Persephone finds more than freedom in the underworld. She finds love, and herself.

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25014114True confession time: I haven’t read any of Adam Silvera’s books. I just haven’t worked up enough nerve to let him destroy me.

HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME is on my TBR… I might get to it… some day.

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

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28147258Look at this cover. THE GALLERY OF UNFINISHED GIRLS by Lauren Karcz has flamingos on the cover. Come on.

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile since her award-winning piece Food Poisoning #1 last year.

Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is lying comatose in faraway Puerto Rico after suffering a stroke. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings.

Despite Mercedes’s creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate.

At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she never has before. She can share her deepest secrets and feel safe. But Mercedes can’t take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. As her life continues to crumble around her, the Estate offers more solace than she could hope for. But Mercedes can’t live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

What books are you reading, tbr-ing, and waiting for a release on?

Wishing and Waiting Wednesday

Wishing and Waiting Wednesday (June 21)

WWWWishing and Waiting Wednesday is an original weekly meme to spotlight two books that have been on my to buy list and TBR shelf for a little too long.

 

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18278652Fairytales For Lost Children by Diriye Osman is narrated by people constantly on the verge of self-revelation. These characters – young, gay and lesbian Somalis – must navigate the complexities of family, identity and the immigrant experience as they tumble towards freedom.

Using a unique idiom rooted in hip-hop, graphic illustrations, Arabic calligraphy and folklore studded with Kiswahili and Somali slang, these stories mark the arrival of a singular new voice in contemporary fiction.

 

 

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172442050 WAYS OF SAYING FABULOUS by Graeme Aitken was a lucky thrift store find for me back in 2015.

12-year-old Billy loves food and Lost in Space. As the only son on a remote farm in New Zealand, he’s forced into farm chores that aren’t just abhorrent, but that leave him little time to indulge his theatrical bent. He gets by with the help of his tomboy cousin Lou and a rich fantasy life. The arrival of two outsiders — the freaky, pimply Roy and the sexy David Cassidy look-alike Jamie — changes everything. Billy is drawn to both Roy and Jamie, testing his friendships and loyalties in the process. Funny and engaging, this tale of a gay awakening resonates with anyone who endured an awkward adolescence. Billy struggles with his sexual identity, but also with his weight, in achingly familiar attempts to diet and camouflage his girth. Capturing the period when the adult world begins to impinge on the child’s, the book narrates the agonies of early adolescence with wit and tenderness.

 

What books are you wishing and waiting on this Wednesday?

 

Book Tags

MID YEAR BOOK FREAK OUT TAG

CaptureThe Mid Year Freak Out Tag was originally created by Chami and Ely! Yes, this is another BookTuber tag and one day I’ll make a YouTube channel so I can do tags there but until then…

I can’t believe June is almost over! We’ve reached that half-way point in the year and it just reinforces my belief that the older you get, the fast time flies. I have read a staggering 90 books so far and I’m hoping to keep the momentum going and finish the year out with a bang.

Without further ado…

1) What is the BEST book you’ve read so far this year?

This one was SO hard. Even excluding books that won’t be released until 2018 (which is where my FAVORITE book will be), narrowing it down to one was… impossible. So I picked three.

THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED by Becky Albertalli is my first pick. I’ve gushed about this book so much, y’all should know exactly what it’s about. This was one of those books that gave me happy, summer feels.

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon is a super recent read. There is literally nothing about this book I didn’t like. I think the characters were super sweet and relatable and I am a sucker for a happy ending.

WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS by Anna-Marie McLemore snuck up on me in a lot of good ways! I knew the premise of the book going in but no one prepared me for the utter magical Autumn feel about this book.

2) Best sequel you’ve read so far?

WILD BOY AND THE BLACK TERROR by Rob Lloyd Jones. This was a close one because of the Grisha series I plowed through last month but… this sequel to WILD BOY was so satisfying and I loved every minute of it.

3) New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

GEM & DIXIE by Sara Zarr. I have heard so many good things about this book and I can’t resist a story about sisters.

4) Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

It’s definitely a tie between WILD BEAUTY by Anna-Marie McLemore and THE WONDERLING by Mira Bartok. Both of these books have such stunning covers!

5) Biggest disappointment?

TASH HEARTS TOLSTOY by Kathryn Ormsbee. I tried to read this earlier in the month and just couldn’t. I may give this another shot later on, but Tash’s character just completely turned me off.

6) Biggest surprise?

BONE GAP by Laura Ruby. I had been putting off reading this for such a long time because I had friends who said the book was pretty awful. I ended up reading this on a whim and absolutely fell in love.

7) Favorite new author? (Debut or new to you)

Mackenzi Lee! I can’t wait for everyone to read THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE!

8) Newest fictional crush?

We all know how about Nikolai Lantsov at this point.

9) Newest favorite character?

This one is hard, too! But probably Finn O’Sullivan from THE BONE GAP.

10) Book that made you cry?

THE YEAR OF SHADOWS by Claire Legrand. I cry easily but this book really wiped me out at the end.

11)  Book that made you happy?

THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSE by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock. This isn’t a particularly happy story… but it is a hopeful story and it has a stick-to-your-ribs goodness about it.

12) Most beautiful book you’ve bought or received this year?

I’m giving this one to THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSE by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock.

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13) What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

IT by Stephen King. I just want to be finished with this mammoth, send help.

 

 

So, that’s it for my mid year freak out! Comment below if any of these books sound interesting to you! And I tag anyone who wants to do this!

Reviews

Review: THE YEAR OF SHADOWS

ysBook: THE YEAR OF SHADOWS
Author: Claire Legrand
Rating: 5/5
TWs: Death, bullying, blood, vaguely graphic scenes of death.
MG/YA/NA/A: Middle Grade

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Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.

Her mother’s left, her neglectful father—the maestro of a failing orchestra—has moved her and her grandmother into the city’s dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.

Just when she thinks life couldn’t get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia’s help—if the hall is torn down, they’ll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.

Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: Save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living…and soon it’s not just the concert hall that needs saving.

So far, Claire Legrand has not let me down.

I picked up her debut novel, THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, and was immediately blown away by the stories and characters she created. The book was the perfect amount and creepy and entertaining, but not so creepy that I felt uncomfortable sharing the book with my godkids. THE YEAR OF SHADOWS is no different.

The story starts with Olivia Stellatella moving into the concert hall with her aging Nonnie and her… Maestro. See, Olivia refuses to call him Dad anymore because she’s convinced he is the sole reason for all of her problems. She isn’t too far off base. Not only is the Maestro so focused on the orchestra that Olivia’s mom ran away, but he’s poured all of the family’s money into saving it and now the family is homeless and living off scraps and charity. Even worse, Olivia’s perfect classmate, Henry, works as an usher at the concert hall and knows her family’s situation.

But then the ghosts start showing themselves to Olivia and Henry, and they need help to move on to the other side.

I love how Legrand uses reluctant friendship to move her plots along. Olivia is definitely an abrasive character who doesn’t know how to let her guard down since her mom walked out and Henry is just open and nice to everyone. While they have their ups and downs throughout the book, I enjoyed that their friendship never really wavered. This is middle grade, so we don’t exactly get a romance but we do get to see Olivia’s feelings change from disdain to friendship to butterflies for Henry.

This does have the usual middle grade element of neglectful parents, ridiculous school officials, and the cool adults down the street. As an adult, I think I do understand the Maestro’s intentions: the orchestra is how he provides for his family and the only career he has ever known. It did seem very unfair that Olivia put all the blame on him for her problems when it was her mother’s choice to leave and to not take Olivia with her.

There is a bit of  plot twist at the end, but if you pay close enough attention to the shades, you’ll figure it out long before Olivia does.

If you have younger ones who are affected by death, be careful of this one! In order for the ghosts to move on, Henry and Olivia have to experience their deaths as if it was happening to them. Not all of the stories are terrible, but their are a few that’s probably a bit much for delicate readers.

I really enjoyed this book and the characters! Would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes a little spook in their middle grade!