The Clackity by Lora Senf
Release Date: June 28, 2022
Why I love this book: Have you ever read a book that you loved so much that you have a hard time actually forming sentances? Maybe that's just me. At least it is me for this book. The Clackity is actual perfection. I am deeply in love with this strange, beautiful, terrifying, hopeful book.
Evie lives in a haunted town, her house has burnt down, her parents are missing and considered dead, and now her Aunt has taken a huge risk and been taken into an alternate realm and it's up to Ecie to face the darkness, face her fears and save her Aunt.
Senf completely nails the balance on this story and it perfectly hits that middle grade horror note. It's scary, there are moments where we aren't sure if Evie will be able to get past what scares her, but it is also full of so many acts of bravery (both physical and mental) that I know will inspire kids to believe they can do the hard things.
As a small addition... I have never read a book that I wanted to become a TV series so badly. My middle schoolers are always looking for the next show to get obsessed with and they also love horror. This book is almost perfectly suited to be a series... each week with Evie tackling a new challenge. I want to see it, how do we make this happen??
I can not wait to add this book to my shelves next year.
middle school (approximately 25 years ago) when I first discovered country music and my days were filled with me alternating between Boy Bands, Alternative Rock and Classic Country. So when I saw that Brian Kennedy had written a YA Romance that features a larger then life, Dolly-esque singer named Wanda Jean who has her own theme park (Wanda World), where our main characters meet... I was obviously all in. And A Little Bit Country doesn't disappoint.
At the heart of the story are Emmett, a summer employee at Wanda World who has made his way from Chicago with the hopes of making it big in Country music as the first openly gay superstar and Luke, a would be chef whose family has bad blood with Wanda Jean, but who nonetheless finds himself working at Wanda World. Both boys have a lot to contend with, and they inevitable to to each other to help figure it all out- but it's a big weight to lift. Between family issues, business issues, and one massive secret about what the history with Wanda Jean was really all about, the question becomes whether or not Luke and Emmett do everything that needs to be done without losing sight of each other and themselves.
Kennedy pulls together a really great story about two boys figuring themselves out and learning that sometimes it's worth taking the leap and doing something scary, even when it's hard, especially when it's hard, because the rewards can be so good.
once in while a title drops in my lap that I know I have to jump on. Mystery in Rocky Mountain National Park is exactly that kind of book for me. It hits a lot of the things I love- it's Middle Grade and a mystery, making it perfect to add to my library shelves for next year, it's a series so there will be more titles for everyone to dig into, and lastly, it's set in the National Parks, and for those of you that know me, you know that next to books my absolute favorite thing is to visit the National Parks.
I was stoked to get a copy of this book and even more excited to discover how good it really is. This story follows Jake who is on a summer road trip with his family and some family friends- before they leave, Jake is gifted a scrapbook, and a scavenger hunt complete with several mysteries to solve. It was his grandfathers, and now it's his to work his way through. I don't want to give too much away because the unraveling of the different threads is really what makes this book so much fun. I also really loved that the story jumped back and forth from the late 1880's when the area was being explored and settled (and fought over) and present day. It really gave some extra context not just to the story, but also to the area that eventually would become Rocky Mountain National Park.
You don't have to love the National Parks to get into this story, but I can promise that if you have a outdoorsy adventure kid (or if you were/are an outdoorsy adventure kid), this book will defintiely land for you. What I founf the most exciting was that Johnson includes several illustrations and maps in the book- if you've been to Rocky Mountain National Park you might find yourself thinking "I've been there!" or "I know right where that is!" as you read. If you haven't been, but want to go, this book will give your kids some spots to find as you travel through the park. Several trails and landmarks are featured prominently in the book, and make for a great jumping off point. It would super fun for a family to take the hike to Alberta Falls and Bear Lake just like Jake, Wes and Amber do in the book. I know that while I read I kept thinking of the pictures I'd taken that almost exactly matched the illustrations in the book!
The other thing that Johnson does that I really appreciate is include both history of RMNP and the people referenced in the book and outdoor safety tips in the Author's notes. There were a few points in the book that I worried that it would be giving kids an unrealistic expectation of roaming the National Parks relatively unsupervised. In the story Jake, Wes and Amber are allowed to take hikes, ride their bikes, and generally explore on their own. Their parents take tons of precautions, but even still, heading out into the wilderness, even on maintained trails, can be dangerous. As the story progressed though, the parents shared more and more safety tips and in the Author's Note, even more safety information was shared. I really appreciated that this book was fun and full of adventure, but didn't ignore the very real dangers that you can come across out in the wild.
It also made me think of the card game Ten Essentials, which is one of my families favorites to play while we are road tripping. You can check it out here: Ten Essentials
To wrap this up, I'll just say that if you and your family like mystery books, adventure and especially if you love to travel, this is a great book to pick up. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book, and I especailly can't wait to read Books 9 & 10 which will take place in my personal favorite parks Yellowstone and the Tetons.
Check out some other pictures that I took on my last few trips through Rocky Mountain National Park that reflect some of the places that Jake, Wes and Amber visit in the book!
Home of the ramblings of an avid reader. In my spare time I also run, ride, teach, go on adventures and get into shenanigans.
Find me here: