Monday, May 15, 2017

The DEVIL is IN OHIO! (and prolly a lot of other places!)

DEVIL IN OHIO by Daria Polatin... because summer reading is spent getting ready for Halloween/October titles!

Fifteen-year-old middle child Jules is having a tough time. She feels invisible at home and at school. Now, to make matters worse, her psychiatrist mom has brought home a patient, also a fifteen-year-old girl. Mae is quiet, mysterious, and pretty. Mom puts Mae in Jules’ room, buys Mae new clothes, even makes Jules show Mae around school. At the same time, Mom forgets everything relating to Jules: to pick her up from school, to leave mushrooms off the pizza, etc. So Jules’ already low self-esteem plummets even further. On top of that, there’s something about Mae that doesn’t seem right, especially that pentagram carved in her back!  Yup, that’s what I said. Girlfriend. Has. A. Pentagram. Carved. In. Her. Back!

Turns out, Mae is from Tisdale, a small backwoods town rumored to be filled with Satan worshippers. It doesn’t help matters when Mae sometimes enters trancelike states and chants creepy stuff like “For you are become as a building such as is not, save in the mind of the All-Powerful manifestation of Satan!” Yeah, like I said, creepy. Are these repressed memories, or is she calling down dark forces from daddy dearest?!

With sections alternating between first and third person narration, Polatin skillfully kept me wondering if Mae was victim or villain. Sometimes it seemed Mae was intentionally trying to supplant Jules (I mean, she DID take the boy Jules had a crush on); other times, Mae seemed to deserve all the pities (I mean, she WAS dumped on the side of the road from a moving car).

On top of all that, Mommy Dearest has some secrets in her past that may or may not coincide with Mae’s. I raced through the book trying to determine if Jules’ perception that Mae was trying to squeeze her out of her own family was valid or wildly imagined. And now, with THAT ENDING, there will be hell to pay (see what I did there?) if there’s no sequel! 

DEVIL IN OHIO is highly recommended for horror/thriller fans ages 14 and up and publishes November 7th from Feiwel & Friends, a Macmillian imprint.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cute Animal Chapter Books

The "Dr. KittyCat" series from Jane Clarke, published in the United States by Scholastic, is about as adorable as you can get. Dr. KittyCat, with her mouse assistant Peanut, helps all the little animals of Thistletown with their medical and sometimes not-so-medical issues. Each little critter, such as Posy the Puppy or Clover the Bunny, gets into some type of trouble and Dr. KittyCat is called in. Sometimes the patient isn’t suffering from a health malady…sometimes the li'l darling has stage fright or a fear of the dark. But with the help of Dr. KittyCat, Peanut, and all the animal friends, a happy resolution is found! The art is charming: photographs of real animals with line drawings superimposed and in the background. 

The latest title in the series is Pumpkin the Hamster. He fell down a hole that he didn't see because of poor vision.

Here he is after Dr. KittyCat diagnoses the problem and fits him for glasses. A happy hammie!

This sweet chapter book series (the titles of which don’t have to be read in order) is for animal lovers ages 7 to 9.  Read more about the author and her titles at

Some perfect partner titles/series for this age are:

“Pet Rescue Adventures” by Holly Webb, published by Tiger Tales. There are a lot of titles in this series (so there’s something for everyone!) but since I’m a cat lover, I had these two cover images handy. Cute, right?!

“Zoe’s Rescue Zoo” by Amelia Cobb, published by Scholastic. Sample title is The Lonely Lion Cub.

“Animal Rescue Center” by Tina Nolan, published by Tiger Tales. Sample title is The Unwanted Puppy.

As I discover more animal-related chapter books, I'll be sure to blog about them!