Cemetery Girl

Posted July 16, 2014 By JS Daly

Cemetery Girl 1

Cemetery Girl
(Book 1: The Pretenders)

by Christopher Golden
& Charlaine Harris
InkLit, 2014
128 Pages
Young Adult

When the author’s name is emblazoned on the cover even larger than the title of a book, we expect it to be good, the fruits of a master. Cemetery Girl has promise, a graphic novel penned by Christopher Golden (Baltimore) and Charlaine Harris (’s Sookie Stackhouse series). The first installment of the dark thriller introduces us to an unnamed protagonist, but the story is To Be Continued…

A girl wakes up in a graveyard and her only memory is of dying. She is a victim of amnesia, but she can sense something bad has happened. Memory flashes ensue of her being injected with something horrible by an intruder, but she has no idea who it was, why, or even who she is. Nonetheless, she realizes that if whoever dumped her in the cemetery discovers she is still walking, they will likely return to finish the job. She steals a name from those surrounding her: Calexa Rose Dunhill.

The caretaker of the cemetery starts referring to the girl as his little ghost as he notices food missing from his kitchen. The girl also makes an ally in a lady who catches Calexa red-handed in her fridge one night. The story picks up when a group of rowdy teens breaks into the cemetery to practice a magical ritual. When they return for the real deal, a death occurs, and Calexa is thrown between a rock and a hard place. If she reports what she has witnessed, she will be discovered hiding out in the cemetery. Throwing a real twist into the mystery are the ghosts of the cemeteries inhabitants, who she can now see. A stolen smart phone is a key component of the noir adventure, which is a welcome, modern angle.

The mix of adventure and supernatural is spot on, just enough to leave you hanging for the over-arching storyline while the intense drama of Book One is brought to a fulfilling close. The artwork is good, not artsy, but realistic with nice dark, autumn shades of color. It smells distinctly like a Vertigo title, though it is published by Penguin’s InkLit imprint. I am waiting anxiously for the next chapter, since this introduction to the mystery girl Calexa passed quickly, inviting a re-read.



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Theodosia and
The Last Pharaoh

Posted July 3, 2014 By JS Daly

Theodosia Last Pharaoh

Theodosia (Book 4) &
The Last Pharaoh

By R.L. LaFevers
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
400 Pages
Mid-Grade (Ages 9-12)


As the smoke clears from the battlefield of Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus, our young protagonist is given a task to return the Emerald Tablet to Egypt, directly to the Wedjadeen!

Upon arrival, she meets secretly with her version of James Bond’s ‘Q,’ Doctor Seymour Quillings, head of the Brotherhood of Chosen Keepers’ Research and Development branch. He gifts her with awesome heavy weaponry like the curse of one-thousand scorpion stings (ouch!), a powder compact filled with sand from a pharaoh’s tomb, and a homing device pocket-watch! Meanwhile, her mother is meeting with a man she believes to be working for the antiquities service, but is in fact, none other than von Braggenschnott of the Serpents of Chaos!

After being pursued by a man named Carruthers who works for the Serpents, Theodosia finds herself lost is a sea of nationalist protestors and enlists the aid of a donkey-boy named Gadji (and his monkey, Sefu,) who helps her escape the angry mob.

Theodosia is eager to learn more about what it means that she was born in a Temple of Isis and was accepted as a gift to the Goddess. Under the pretense of locating the lost Temple of Thutmose III, she sets forth to meet with the Wedjadeen… but finds them less than hospitable. In fact, they begin discussing whether they should cut out her tongue or just kill her on the spot.

This was a thick miasma of magic and curses. Far removed from the source of their power, they buzzed faintly in the air, an invisible swarm of tiny, malevolent insects. With so much of it contained in such a confined space, there was the distinct sense of pressure building– like the air just before a thunderstorm.

Major Harriman Grindle, The Brotherhood’s contact in Luxor, becomes a steadfast ally to Theodosia. The strange thing about him though, is that unlike Wigmere and the Brotherhood of Chosen Keepers in London, Major Grindle has no reservations about the use of ancient magic. The front lines, you know, require rather less ethical philosophy and more direct action. Grindle also knows things about Theodosia’s grandfather, and he helps put some pieces together for her. It is interesting that both the Brotherhood and the Wedjadeen bear the wedjat eye tattoo.

Theodosia returns the Tablet to its rightful protectors (we think,) but despite this, the Wedjadeen again threaten to kill her unless she now hands over the other treasure! The real treasure that she keeps by her side. The donkey boy, they inform her, is more than what he appears. Gadji is a descendant of the last true pharaoh of Egypt.

Then the Serpents of Chaos demand the tablet which Theodosia no longer has in her possession, or they will kill her mother. Grindle helps to make a fake tablet with his magic, but it will only last for a short time. Isis disappears, and the monkey, Sefu is gravely injured. The Wedjadeen take Major Grindle and Theodosia captive and place them on trial for knowing things they should not know. Luckily, an elderly woman speaks up and declares Theodosia “Rekhet,” a seer. Will Theodosia be able to escape the very people she came to Egypt to help and then save the boy pharaoh from the clutches of the Serpents of Chaos?

The Chosen Keepers are descendants of the ancient librarians of the Royal Library of Alexandria– the few, the proud, and the learned. We have sworn an oath to seek out and replace all the ancient knowledge that was lost when our great library was destroyed by Emperor Theodosius. Our goal is to reignite the flame of knowledge and restore it to mankind.

The story explodes in a final crescendo as the Eyes of Horus and the Brotherhood face off against the Serpents of Chaos with the life of both the young Pharaoh and Theodosia’s mother at stake! Giant sphinxes come to life! A thousand scorpions sting! Will Theodosia finally clear Awi Bubu’s name? Will she even survive?

It is a title of respect or courtesy, equivalent to the English Sir, which was used in Ottoman Empire. It is generally given to members of the learned professions and to government officials.
African word meaning “sword”
These wise women were consulted as seers who could make contact with the dead. They had the special ability to sense the presence of a god and particularly to determine whether someone had been placed under a spell, or baw, and which evil spirit or deity was responsible.


Related Posts:
Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos
Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris
Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus
Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh



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Greetings From the Graveyard

Posted June 18, 2014 By JS Daly


From The Graveyard
(43 Old Cemetery Road #6)

By Kate & Sarah and Klige
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
160 Pages


VIOLENCE: There is a burglary
SEXUALITY: A man and a female ghost living together have adopted a boy
ADULT TOPICS: Love letters are used as blackmail

The famous authors of 43 Cemetery Road, Olive C. Spence and Ignatius B. Grumply, are starting a new business! Identifying a need for “cards in rhyme for difficult times,” the family begins designing greeting cards for awkward occasions and when things go badly– illustrated, of course, by their adopted son, Seymour Hope.

Nadia S. Richenov, a lady who once turned down a marriage proposal from Ignatius, is back in the picture now that she smells Iggy’s writing success. Meanwhile, two con-artist convicts have escaped from prison in Peoria and are headed straight for Ghastly, Illinois! Seymour keeps worrying that the new folks in town who have also started a new business look just like the convicts. But why would scam artists sell security systems?

An art appraiser, Art Smart, visits with his show What’s it Worth?, and declares the portrait of Olive hanging in the parlor of Spence Mansion to be worth a million dollars. Boy does that perk Nadia’s ears! She offers to nix her plans to write a tell-all gossip book about the scandalous past she and Ignatius shared… if he will hand over the painting.

Offering to sell a tell-all book about me to Paige Turner is one thing. Luring my innocent son into your web of deceit is another thing entirely…

The intrigue begins as burglaries begin in Ghastly and Olive invites her old employee, T. Leeves, to return to service… as a ghostly butler! A race for the painting begins as the two criminals, Nadia, and Nadia’s new partner in blackmail –none other than Iggy’s editor Paige Turner—all make a play for the million-dollar painting.

The latest installment in the 43 Old Cemetery Road series lives up to its predecessors, a comedy meets arsenic and old-lace mystery for the seven to twelve year-old set. It introduces new characters to the usual cast, continuing the adventures of a reclusive author and his ghost writer companion. Kids who like mild suspense will enjoy this not-at-all scary ghost story conveyed through newspaper clippings, letters, and text messages.



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Theodosia and
The Eyes of Horus

Posted June 4, 2014 By JS Daly

Theodosia Eyes Horus

Theodosia (Book 3) &
The Eyes of Horus

by R.L. LaFevers
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
375 Pages
Middle-Grade (Ages 9-12)


Theodosia visits a seedy part of town to see a stage show where a magician named Awi Bubu claims to perform “real Egyptian magic!” Magic that turns out to be identical to the ceremony performed by the Arcane Order of the Black Sun when they were trying to force Theo into showing them her powers (Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris). Within two weeks, Awi Bubu is discovered lurking in Theo’s museum at night!

“If by ‘different,’ little miss means ‘so gifted in her dealings with Egyptian magic,’ then the answer is yes. The time and location of your birth set you on an unusual path. If you had an Egyptian calendar here, I could even tell you the prophecy foretold on the day of your birth.”

The Seven Scorpions, a group of the Black Sun’s who are dedicated to protecting Theodosia from harm, coerce the girl into visiting their secret meeting house to perform another magical ritual. (I am astounded at Aloysious Trawley’s hubris to imagine it acceptable to kidnap one who they believe to be Isis incarnate!) And, oh yeah, the 3rd Assistant Curator, Stilton, has been spying on her.

But similarly, The Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers isn’t treating their star pupil much better. Clive Fagenbush is harassing Theodosia for regular reports so he can deliver them to Wigmere.

Theodosia’s brother returns from boarding school, and they make a discovery in the cellar of the museum where Theo has been doing inventory while avoiding her grandmother and her plans to conduct a memorial service for the hero, Admiral Sopcoate.

Stilton believes it to be the Tabula Smaragdina, the Emerald Tablet of the alchemists, said to contain the formula to transmute metal into gold. Will he report this to the Black Sun?

Soon enough, Theodosia discovers Aloysious himself and his merry band skulking through her museum. With her having refused to offer them some of her magic, they now believe that she is only capable of using magical objects, not performing magic. But one object from the museum has already been claimed—- Awi Bubu appears and demands the Emerald Tablet! He possesses great power, real magic, and the only thing preventing him from stealing the tablet is Theo’s cat, Isis! He becomes a deep mystery.

Meanwhile, Henry is set upon by the evil restless spirit (or mut) of Tetley, the man mummified as a calling card for the Serpents of Chaos!

While Sniffles, Ratsy, and Sticky Will help Theodosia to make the best of a bad situation by giving Tetley a proper Christian… and Egyptian burial with authentic funerary rites, who should appear but none other than the “late” Admiral Sopcoate, also demanding the Emerald Tablet!

”Are you one of the Wedjadeen?”
Before I finished uttering the word, Awi Bubu sprang across the room, clamped his hand over my mouth, and made a snatching gesture with the other, as if he were plucking the word from the air itself.

We learn that Awi Bubu belongs to yet another fraternal faction, and visit Curator Monk, who acquired an entire warehouse of special artifacts– (Augustus Monk was one of the founders of The Museum of Antiquities,) artifacts of “unknown provenance” that included the Staff of Osiris.

Theodosia gets a few good curses in on Fagenbush, who gets too nosy, and Sticky Will is suspended from the Brotherhood’s order because of Theodosia’s refusal to cooperate with Wigmere’s chain of command.

Grandmother Throckmorton’s house is then burgled of only an emerald necklace, obviously the Serpents sending a message. Can she trust Awi Bubu to help her, or does he represent just another group of selfish children scrambling for a coveted piece of magic treasure?

All the factions come together for a giant melee at the end! Awi Bubu is horribly wounded! Will and Snuffles, Wigmere and Fagenbush, The Serpents of Chaos, Trawley and the Black Sun! And… (Shhh!) the Wedjadeen… all clash!

Ka, Ba
The ancient Egyptians believed that a human soul was made up of five parts: the Ren, the Ba, the Ka, the Sheut, and the Ib.
Wedjat Eye
Wadjet was one of the earliest of Egyptian deities, associated with the land and depicted as a snake-headed woman. The Wadjet or Eye of Horus was intended to protect the pharaoh in the afterlife and to ward off evil.
Was Scepter
The was scepter is a symbol of power that appeared often in relics, art, and hieroglyphics, associated with the gods (such as Set or Anubis) as well as with the pharaoh.


Related Posts:
Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos
Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris
Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus
Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh



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Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Posted May 30, 2014 By JS Daly


Daughter of Smoke & Bone
(Book 1)

by Laini Taylor
Little, Brown Books, 2012
448 Pages
Young Adult

Guest Review by:
Kristin Grady
Something keeps leaving hand prints on doorways around the world and no one knows why. Karou is about to find out. She doesn’t realize that everything is about to come crashing down around her. She meets an angel and is about to lose her devil. She has to fight as hard as she can, but will it be enough to save her family? Will she have to ask the person trying to kill her for help to save the ones she loves? Will she get there in time?

Let me get right to the details. This book wasn’t that scary, but some of the half/half creatures were a little ominous. There was more paranormal suspense than there was romance, but I think that it was a perfect amount for this kind of book. I liked the storyline in this book especially between the
main character and her father figure. There wasn’t really a chase in the beginning, but there was from the middle to end, and I think it played out really great. There wasn’t only a single bad guy but a whole lot of them. I think young adults will really be able to connect to the main character. My favorite character though, is the devil who makes bodies out of teeth, diamonds and other stuff. I really liked this book a lot and I can’t wait until I read the second book it the series!



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