Book Review: The Juju Girl

This week, I was on a fascinating journey in New Orleans of the 19th century, with a Creole girl and her Gift. The coming-of-age story of 15-year-old Gabrielle starts from a devastating flood in her hometown of Buras and ends in a New Orleans home.

The Juju Girl

Book: The Juju Girl

Author: Nikki Marsh

Genre: Teens and Young Adult (13+), Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal

Review Copy: Reedsy.com

This week, I was on a fascinating journey in New Orleans of the 19th century, with a Creole girl and her gift. The coming-of-age story of 15-year-old Gabrielle starts from a devastating flood in her hometown of Buras and ends in a New Orleans home. This is a journey filled with magic and hauntings, spells and conjuring, sadness and misgivings. The breezy storyline has much to offer and flows meticulously and swiftly from one chapter to the next, building up curiosity as esoteric elements emerge in the life of the young girl.

The narrative creates vivid pictures of an age gone by, yet so alive. The author does not dwell much on extensive imagery and descriptions, though I felt that descriptive scenes of the ambiance and the rich Creole culture would have given more depth to the work. Maybe I was just craving for more as I became engaged in the travails of the protagonist and her family.

This young adult fiction pulled me in with its smooth and simple language and the possibilities of learning about the culture of the Creoles. As an Indian reader, I could relate to the superstitions and home remedies generously sprinkled all over the book, because we have heard all of them since our childhood. The book refers to the Creoles mixed culture of Indian, African, Spanish, and French origins.

Spooky in good parts, the novel works with a specific set of characters and builds them up well. It is reminiscent of the Classics as it dwells in 19th century America. From simple pranks to dark magic, from overnight remedies to crafted spells, secret rendezvous to clandestine affairs, from a dark past to the hopes of a future, from new friends to strange ones, from travels to worlds unknown to being unaware of the realities around, The Juju Girl, is a perfect weekend read, or to be read in short sprints and savored in parts.

The book maintains its pace throughout; the second half is as engaging as the first. Characters bring forth extra dimensions and paranormal happenings take center stage. This is the story of a family and its tryst with love, longing, death, jealousy, resentment, repentance, and a special gift. As secrets unfold, true colors revealed, they put friendships and relationships to test, culminating in the confrontation between the powers from beyond and Gabrielle’s Gift.

I thoroughly enjoyed this light young adult book; oft reading late into the night after a long day at work and that is a testimony to the fact that the book enthralls. As an avid web series watcher, I could not help but think that how well this book would translate into a televised fantasy series. It is the perfect blend of youth, drama, charms, and spells!

It also occurred to me that the character of The Juju Girl has just arrived. There is potential to build on the character and take Gabrielle on a whirlwind journey around the globe with her gift. I am hoping to read more in the series; a book that wants you to read and know more is definitely one to have on your reading list.

Book Review: The Emperor who Vanished

The book has good font size, smooth language, and dives into anecdotes and information from history, art, and architecture. A great memory refresher for adults with a few new facts and a wonderful book to make the children interested in our rich history, monuments, and the wonders of ancient times! I recommend this book for 10 years and above readers and even as a bedtime read for younger children.

Now, that I am building my 11-year old son’s library, I am getting to read some great children’s/young adult fiction, and rediscovering forgotten facts. Kavitha Mandana’s The Emperor who Vanished is a book that introduces Indian history, art, and architecture in an interesting manner. This book is relevant for children in middle school because this is the time they are discovering more about India’s rich heritage and culture in their school curriculum.

The book has good font size, smooth language, and dives into anecdotes and information from history, art, and architecture. A great memory refresher for adults with a few additional facts and a wonderful book to make the children interested in our rich history, monuments, and the wonders of ancient times! I recommend this book for 10 years and above readers and even as a bedtime read for younger children.

Rating – 4/5. A star less because my son did not enjoy the fictional bit about the two students embarking on a school project. I also felt the language was not taut in those sections. The characters were not flushed out and the attempt to create a funny and engaging storyline was not exactly accomplished. Even without focussing on the story of Apu and Nina, the book is worth a read.

Nurturing a Young Blogger and Reader

My son and I have much in common – from our introvert temperament to love for reading and writing. Last summer during a long Covid19 lockdown in India, which was labelled by some media houses as one of the toughest, my son asked me about blogging. I explained it was an online journal, diary, or a place to share thoughts and stories and engage with like-minded followers.

I told him I used to blog and can set up a blog for him. That is how I restarted blogging in an all-new blog space, which is this, and he got a brand new blog – www.blackpenstrokes.wordpress.com. What I find endearing is that he still writes his “private journal” by hand. Though, I know it’s more to do with his love for stationery; again something he has acquired from me!

Continue reading “Nurturing a Young Blogger and Reader”

Book Review: Stories from Hindu Mythology for Young Readers

Image Source: https://www.behance.net/gallery/74431539/Garuda-and-the-Serpents-Book-illustrations

Arshia Sattar‘s collection of 18 stories from Hindu mythology is written in the genre of retelling of the myths, as popularized by Devdutt Pattanaik. When I got Garuda and the Serpents from Juggernaut publishers, I was elated to see the beautifully illustrated cover page. The inside of the book revealed more beautiful renditions in bright colors by talented illustrator, Ishan Trivedi, who loves to bring the mythologies to life on canvas. My 11-year old son, an avid reader, was also attracted by the vibrant book cover.

Continue reading “Book Review: Stories from Hindu Mythology for Young Readers”
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