I'll make this largely a visual post, since it's all about judging a book by its cover ;)
I love Charlie Brown books. They are instantly recognizable characters to most students, and the books are easy to read independently. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown would be a good read aloud right before Halloween, or it would be a great center for reader's theatre or student recording. Both of these centers promote fluency. This is appropriate for grades 1-3.
This book is best read to your students around thanksgiving time! The Charlie Brown series are such fun books to read! This book is about Charlie Brown getting into some trouble with his friends, but also the books shows the importance of friendship and how valuable it is. With this book you can have your very own A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving party in your very own classroom! This book is geared towards kindergarten-3rd grade students!
This collection is of magic filled mystery stories of who or why set in the magic city where anything magical is possible, New Orleans. There is a vast history to this city that it makes it easy for the variety of stories here to come in all shapes and sizes. There is current mystery settings, historical settings, and historical references.
I enjoyed most of the stories in this anthology as they were my kind of reads with magic and action. There are some copy editing errors in this book, not as many as the first book but there are some. One thing I noticed is these stories are mostly in first person. Not a bad thing as we get to step into the characters shoes. But I also noticed a few of them tell about the characters at the beginning of the story instead of letting their positions unfold as we read, more an introduction of the character.
I know these are short stories and it's hard to do, but it's done and not done here -- Showing us the character and who they are through the story rather than starting the story with telling us who they are and what they do along with about themselves.
All these short stories have a complete end to the story. They stand on their own and you don't need to read other books to be caught up or to find out what happens.
Introduction: Hiding in Myth's Shadows: New Orleans's Complicated Relationship With Truth by Charlie Brown
Knowledge is Power by Rhonda Eudaly
Janna's on vacation. A theurgist on vacation in the most magically known city - New Orleans. She's touring the historical landmarks of museums, libraries, and churches. But in the Cathedral she gets a personal tour from a Priest she worked for when first out of the Academy. He shows her the heavily protected Grimoire. Then, the next day, she's arrested for stealing the powerful book. Janna is now determined to find the grimoire, to prove her innocence and keep people from being hurt.
I really liked this story. Great story to start the collection with. I got all my pertinent information with quick pacing. I was curious as to who took the grimoire and why. Then...why set up Janna?
We take a trip down the magic side of New Orleans into voodoo and also a brief interaction with a man who's a wolf, along with other creatures. The story is a mystery with quick action.
Blood Debt by Terry Mixon
Al Blake is paid handsomely to come to talk to the local mob boss of New Orleans, Sam "Silver Dollar" Carolla. If he takes the assassination job he'll be paid better than he ever imagined and more. Who wanted the dead man dead? And who has killed again?
This story is set in mobster days with a blend of blood mage, magic, and prohibition.
While Al is at the brothel investigating, another murder happens. The murderer is here! All Al has to do, find which person it is. Al is a blood mage and he uses his magic to find the assassin. You'll be surprised by who did it! I was. Al is then left with a choice to make, magic or his promise...
I was taken by this story as it was a turn of events and how All sticks to his word is so cool. It was even touching. Very well done.
Stigmata by Scott Roche
A vision drew Willie to this side of town. Hedge wizard Willie "Sparkles" Evans enters the Church of the Immaculate Conception seeking sanctuary. Someone, or thing, is chasing him. But what he walks into at the church... he's calling his detective sister now.
Oh, I love the history of the Vampire and a specific church connection here. Vampire history in New Orleans with ghouls and magic. All good things in one place, and there is troubles from it.
Another story I enjoyed the action and magic present in with the mystery of who.
Scott Roche even has me curious with Willie and Helen at the end of this story. I hope he does a few more short stories with them. I like what he brings to the table with them and want to see more.
All the Pretty Horses by Michael Ashleigh Finn
Josiah is joined by Baba as he's listening to the fine music of New Orleans. Baba has news that worries him. The Loa are missing. Baba wants Josiah to find his brother, Nibo, as he hasn't seen him in some time.
I find this story interesting with the Loa and Ghede. But...I did become a bit confused when Jo started working. I'm not sure what it was he did or how he "saw". I felt like there were missed moments for me to understand what's happening and why in the story. It could use more details to help us. I did like the idea and the ending though.
I like when Nibo shows up. Nibo is a Ghede and doesn't need a human rider, he can appear looking to be in his own body. Something is preying on the Loa and Ghede.
Everything Has Strings by Claudia T. Smith
Shugah shows up early at Violet's paranormal investigation office, which is unusual because she works the streets at night and sleeping by now. The local night girls are dying. Violet takes the case. When her friend suggests going to a revival that's in town, Violet sees a pattern starting and attends the revival to learn there is more going on than meets the eye.
We start right off with telling us who she is and the case, not letting us learn through events and actions.
What's interesting here is the magic. Violet calls upon Papa Ghede for help, asking of the connection she suspects of the deaths and the salesman, preacher. I like her magic. It's rough but believable because of that, it's not all flare. And the religion the man is preaching...well, it may be more than he thinks.
Last Dance in Storyville by Brent Nichols
George crossed Basin Street into another world, Storyville. George dances with the ladies of the brothel, but he has another mission. One of the beautiful woman here is a Merlin and she's hunting. And so is he.
We get the story of George's heritage and family mission to hunt the murdering witch along with his story here and now. This is very interesting as it's two stories in one that connect. The stories held my attention as I was curious to see how it worked out.
The city of Storyville has a bit of an Old West feel to it. I really enjoyed this adaptation and twist to setting in this book. The story was quick and to the point. Neat!
Normandy by Jeff Leyco
Sam has returned home for his brother's funeral. The casket is a closed casket. A friend, Mischa, said someone cut Shawn's brains out. Retrieving Shawn's items from the police, Sam finds a note in a pocket. But no one's looking into the note, or Shawn's death.
Sam has a whole history with his old home, and why he left. We get that story as well as the mystery as to what happened to his brother Shawn, and others that are dying just as gruesome deaths.
This story had the hints of all the great elements, zombie, wolves, magic, and mystery. We have the back story and set up. However I couldn't get excited about the story. I think it's the broken up scenes as the story moved from scene to scene we need to make this a short story. Some how if felt choppy in the transitions.
Glass Darkly by Paul K. Ellis
Jack reluctantly agrees to visit and help his brother Renny, at the insistence of Grandmama. Renny's chef has been missing for a week and Jack has the know how to find people. Jack finds himself a bit deeper in the magics of the world than he was wanting. And Renny too.
This story starts right in on Jack looking around the chef's bloody apartment. Now this caught my attention! I loved this start. Then the story seemed to slow a bit but when we got to the mirror, oh yeah. That was when it all came together. I liked the touch of magic in that mirror. There were a few details I would have liked a bit more concrete to help explain, but I did enjoyed this short story.
Oh, Grandmama. LOL! This woman is a hoot. She has a strong feel for family, and bad language around her. And she doesn't hold her tongue when she thinks her family should help each other, or watch their mouth. She comes across as the strong grandma that makes others smile while she's scolding her grandchildren.
What, or who, Jack and Renny come across would probably be a kind of fey type feel to them. The way Renny has gotten tangled up with these people, and Jack as well now, is interesting.
Casket Girls by Patrick Scaffido
(note: I think the next story should have come before this story as I would have understood what a casket girl was better for this story.)
Lucy wants her sister. But her sister signed on with a black magic gangster, Valdis Arcade, because she thought Lucy was dangerous to her. She thought Lucy was a zombie. Lucy is determined to get to her casket sister, one way or another. The spirits of the city answer to Lucy's call, because they believe in the worry for others like Lucy is worried. Arcade is a dangerous man, and the spirits know this all to well.
Lucy was neat as she can see memories in the ground. She can also see the ghosts clinging to Arcade's building. Death is her power.
The story was okay. I felt there was something deeper in the meaning here, but I just didn't get it. But it might be me as I didn't know the history of casket girls.
L'or Des Fous (Fool's Gold) by Lisa-Anne Samuels
Robert Livingston, U.S. Minister to France, is to secure the French colonies of La Nouvelle-Orleans as the newest part of the United States. Others don't agree with the President and would do anything to stall or stop the purchase, maybe even the residents of the colonies too. The $3 million to pay for the purchase has gone missing! It's due to the French government in days. Robert is set on the mission to retrieve the money in time.
Livingston meets and is lead by a seer and a wind witch in New Orleans. They are to work together with their magics to guide Livingston to the money. These two know each other and bicker like an old couple. The Wind Witch brings up the worry he, and many residents of the land being purchased, have. They fear they will end up in shackles.
As we travel with the seer and wind witch talking, it felt as though this is a historical story. As if the history was being re-written with magic included. Then Livingston learns a secret of himself and his family. It's magnificent to see the world through his newly opened eyes. There is so much more to the world. A paranormal essence is strong here.
A Gilded Fox by Emily Karnes
A local artist who's barely able to make ends meet is now selling items cast in pure gold. The Council is concerned where the gold is coming from and has sent Kasa with two others to investigate. They are concerned there might be an artifact around.
Kasa is more than she appears. But seeing her float through town on cloud nine and enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of New Orleans is part of the fun of the story. The 'artifact' is interesting to see what it really is. But I was a bit bored with watching Kasa take in the sights of New Orleans and the two men with her. The men had a small purpose, but were not as important to me. It was an okay story.
Blood On The Quarter by Riley James Keith
Alton Bently is woken from his warm bed and drunken haze on New Years Eve/Day morning. It's 12:30 AM. His partner calls with a dead body that needs their attention.
I liked the way this one starts. It caught my interest quick and made me smile. Alton's personality and take on things and the world is a hard look yet it's got a humorous ring to it.
This world definitely has different beings living in it and everyone knows about them. Alton can converse with the dead. However he only gets one word. The magic he can do is accepted and seems other magics are as well.
This was a quick read for me as I enjoyed the story and world created.
Butler's Last Stand by Michell Plested
Rafael and his partner, Jean, investigate a report of gunfire, though no witnesses heard it. When Raf looks around, he finds a head hanging from the roof. A ghostly head that disappears. He keeps seeing the ghost, until he talks to it.
As you guessed it, there is a connection between the ghost and Rafael. And the ghost has a need for Rafael's help. An undead power is trying to raise a spirit army to overtake and rule New Orleans. Rafael uses his detective position to help the ghost, but there is more than meets the eye and he has to take a step closer to trust with the ghost to help his city.
I liked the feel of the story as it felt like I was watching a movie and the main character was also narrating, telling me snippets of his past or relations as the story went. It's neat, the gift Raf is left with in the end.
Prompt Succor by Hugh O'Donnell
Terry O'Byrne's services are required by the Church. The Arch Bishop sent a letter, by way of ghost, for Terry to meet with him and help with a disturbance...
This was a neat set up. I liked the time in the church and the way Terry helps the ghosts. This was a nice story to read.
This story was set in the church and involved the church, but in no way was it preach-y. (We are in New Orleans, after all. Thank you!) This was well done. And one I enjoyed after the introduction of Terry.
The Sacred Marriage of Etienne McCray by Kristen M.Corby
Steve, a cop working the beat in New Orleans, tries to clear a street worker from 'her' corner. In doing so, he steps into a whole new side of New Orleans, learning he's special as well.
Now this is a story to end the book with! This started off with me a bit nervous of how it was going to go, this can be - and is - a good thing. It's a different start and one that had me curious. I loved the story here and the way the other world unfolds for Steve.
Steve sees things now. What happened for Steve to 'open his eyes'? Well, that is a bit... intimate and detailed in the beginning. Go ahead, read it. It's neat to see what Steve sees and takes on here.