Book Review: Resurrection Girls by Ava Morgyn @AvaMorgyn @YABoundToursPR

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Resurrection Girls
by Ava Morgyn
Genre: YA Magical Realism
Release date: October 1st 2019

Summary:

Olivia Foster hasn’t felt alive since her little brother drowned in the backyard pool three years ago. Then Kara Hallas moves in across the street with her mother and grandmother, and Olivia is immediately drawn to these three generations of women. Kara is particularly intoxicating, so much so that Olivia not only comes to accept Kara’s morbid habit of writing to men on death row, she helps her do it. They sign their letters as the Resurrection Girls.

But as Kara’s friendship pulls Olivia out of the dark fog she’s been living in, Olivia realizes that a different kind of darkness taints the otherwise lively Hallas women—an impulse that is strange, magical, and possibly deadly.

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Purchase links:

Advance Praise:

“Ava Morgyn’s passion and tenderness shine like a candle,
guiding readers through the darkness of Olivia’s story. Her compelling
characters are made all the more real by the eerie undertow
of myth. A beautiful, deeply emotional debut!”
–Sarah Porter, author of VASSA IN THE NIGHT
 and NEVER-CONTENTED THINGS
“Resurrection Girls is a powerful examination of grief and loss,
captivatingly woven with magic and ultimately hope. A
compassionately rendered debut.”
–Emily Duncan,
NYT Bestselling author of WICKED SAINTS
“RESURRECTION GIRLS is a heartbreak of a book, where love and
loss writes letters to the strange things that lurk in the darkness.
It’s a stunning story that blends the inexplicable and the beautiful
with the bittersweet.”
–Rin Chupeco, author of THE BONE WITCH
and THE NEVER TILTING WORLD
 
“A raw, poignant, unflinching examination of grief and healing
wrapped up in a compelling story. Resurrection Girls is a brilliant debut.”
–CJ Redwine, NYT Bestselling author of
THE SHADOW QUEEN and the RAVENSPIRE series
“The lovely, assured prose draws on ancient archetypes and a
lingering sense of dread to pave the way for a strange but satisfying
conclusion … Morgyn’s supernaturally tinged debut is a
heartbreaking but hopeful exploration of death and grief.” 
Kirkus Reviews

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My Review

As we inch towards the time of witches and ghosties, Resurrection Girls gives off an appropriately creepy vibe with an attention to death and the still-living who are faced with death. Accident and suicide play a part in the dynamics along with a strange compulsion for two teenaged girls to become penpals with men who have no hope of long life.

This tale is far more than that, though, as it delves into a family and how each individual member copes with the nearly unbearable grief after a child dies. There’s no real coming together here; the loss of Olivia’s little brother has fractured this family and Olivia and each of her parents have spent the past few years growing further apart and more mired in their devastation. When Kara and her mother and grandmother move in across the street, Olivia finally has something else to think about with this new friend and the oddities that seem to swirl around the new family.

You might think that this is a very depressing book with its emphasis on grief and the inability to recover but, in fact, it’s really a look at the journey to find peace as well as Olivia’s personal redemption helped along by Kara and a dose of…could it be magic?

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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Excerpt:

In the beginning, the dead are always with you. It’s almost as if they aren’t even gone, as though you could round any given corner and see them there, waiting. For months after Robby died, I heard his voice, his laughter catching in his throat, the sound of his footfalls down the long hall upstairs. I could feel his towheaded locks soft against the pads of my fingers still, and imagine his quiet breathing in the night. It was all there, floating around me, able to be summoned forward at any given moment. Like a balloon, I had Robby’s memory, his soul, on a string.

But that only lasts as long as the pain is fresh. You bleed memories for a while. And then one day you find you’ve bled them all out. And the sharp sting of loss has waned into a dull ache.

It’s the little things that go first. The way light would play across his face at a certain angle. The expression he made when he pouted. The smell of him in the morning. You go to summon some detail up from the depths and it’s no longer there. The dead drift away.

And then even the dull ache disappears, and only numbness holds in its place. You stop trying to recall details because the futility of it is worse than the grief. It’s no longer the loss of the person you mourn, but the loss of the haunt. And the absence is all that is left when you reach for your pain.

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About the Author

Ava Morgyn is a long-time avid reader and writer of young adult fiction. She studied English Writing & Rhetoric at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, and now lives in Houston—city with the most rain, best food, and worst traffic—with her family. When she isn’t at her laptop spinning darkly hypnotic tales, she can be found making fairy houses, talking to her crystals and plants, hunting for delicious new vegan recipes, or bothering her dog. She also blogs regularly about the devastating journey of child loss at ForLoveofEvelyn.com.
 

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One hard copy of Resurrection Girls

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Book Reviews: Overturned by Lamar Giles and The Histronauts: An Egyptian Adventure by Frances Durkin and Grace Cooke @LRGiles @Scholastic @HistoriaFrankie @JollyFishPress

Overturned
Lamar Giles
Scholastic Press, April 2017
ISBN 978-0-545-81250-4
Hardcover

I am always seeking books that will immediately intrigue ‘my’ students. Many times, I’ve been sucked into a suspense-filled, action-packed, heart-pumping mystery…surrounding a subject they could not care less about. Aptly, of course, young adults are not the intended audience—I am.

But.

Young adult readers deserve thrilling books.

Mr. Giles seems pleased to provide. And now, I may be the only person looking forward to school starting. I cannot wait to share Overturned.

The setting: the very casino where 16-year-old Nikki Tate works…as well as resides, stimulates the reader’s senses. At a blush, that life-style—for a high-school student—sounds kinda fabulous. And it was. Once.

Without her dad around to run things, the responsibility falls straight through her mother’s trembling fingers into Nikki’s own hands. She can handle it. Has to. Knowing, with her whole heart, that her father is not capable of murder doesn’t keep him off death row. Someone has to support the family—not just the three of them; the trusted and treasured employees of Cosmos matter, too.

Otherwise, she would never consider running her own after-hours, under-the-table card games. Which were not really a big deal. There’s only one human better at poker than Nikki and he’s not here right now. Gavin may still be in his teens, but his bulk makes him the perfect bouncer. Maybe he has a few butterflies when her invitations are extended to some shady characters, but Nikki knows she’s got this.

Until something even odder than the initial arrest and murder charge. New evidence, and an attorney more than pleased to represent Mr. Tate, appears. Conviction overturned and Mr. Tate is head of his casino once again.

Nikki’s delight with his return was fleeting. She once believed he was always there when she needed him. Now, his presence is so far past smothering, she seethes when they share the same space. Determined to make up for the lost time, and hoping to find the sweet, happy Babygirl he remembers; her dad dives deeper into her life.

Although Nikki doesn’t see it at first, Mr. Tate is not as angry as he is horrified and frightened by what he finds. As dad works diligently to get his daughter out of the quick-sand she doesn’t know she’s standing in, Nikki consistently (albeit unintentionally) blocks his way with a combination of teen-age infatuation and obligatory rebellion.

Overturned by Mr. Giles is absolutely every single thing I wish for when I want to wow ‘my’ students with a Book Talk.

Reviewed by jv poore, July 2019.

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The Histronauts: An Egyptian Adventure
Frances Durkin and Grace Cooke
Jolly Fish Press, January 2019
ISBN 978-1-63163-239-6
Hardcover

I don’t know if Ms. Durkin and Ms. Cooke colluded to create a tiny tome that would call to all; from the self-dubbed non-reader to the basic bookworm, but that’s exactly what this groovy graphic-novel does.

Filled with fascinating facts, in the same way a teeny car contains a multitude of clowns, this was a particularly pleasing read for me. An at-a-glance timeline from 5,000 BC through 30 BC took up only a tiny portion of a page, but was packed with information. I had no idea that Egypt was divided and reunited so many times! Nor could I have fathomed the complicated process of turning papyrus into paper.

The “novel” is in the narration. The Histronauts, a quirky crew, complete with a cat, needed an indoor activity on a rainy day. Their museum visit morphs into an adventurous Egyptian exploration. As the kids take in the sights and ask amazing questions, I am completely captivated, learning about ancient Egyptians and their way of life. And if all of that isn’t enough, there are even activities through-out. From making jewelry to flatbread or simply solving puzzles, these were engaging additions.

I believe that reluctant readers will enjoy this because of the tantalizing trivia and the graphic-novel-format seems to be more appealing for shorter attention spans. I think avid readers will be reeling from the intriguing information. I was totally into it. And truly, who knew there more than 2,000 ancient Egyptian gods? Or that music was such an imperative part of their lives?

The Histronauts also embark on a Roman adventure and I am already looking forward to joining them.

Reviewed by jv poore, December 2018.