Indie Scouting Report: November 2021
In this roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife titles, we highlight a middle grade horror story, a puppy reincarnation tale, and more.
Synopsis: In this Creeptown sequel, Arlo Vreeland is a medical enigma: ever since he was a child, his skeleton has slowly been disappearing. But his own missing bones soon take a backseat to the presumed-stolen skeleton of Creeposaurus Rex, a “newly discovered” fanged theropod.
PW’s takeaway: Charles’s vibrant, memorable voice shines through in this Creeptown sequel. The plentiful eerie twists and comedic turns will engross young horror readers.
Comparable title: Katherine Arden’s Small Spaces
Sample line: “The craziest, spookiest, most bone-flopping day of my life started six hours earlier, with a dinosaur bone on my doorstep.”
Synopsis: Jerry weeps when he thinks of his puppy, Hugo, who was hit by a car; in fact, Jerry hasn’t handled death well since his childhood friend Morgan drowned. But unbeknownst to Jerry, Hugo has been reincarnated as a kitten in San Francisco.
PW’s takeaway: The author reins in the far-fetched material to craft a breezy story, and finds plenty of humor in animal antics and Jerry’s reentry to the dating scene.
Comparable title: Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain
Sample line: “The Shelter wasn’t all bad; in fact, compared to First Home and the Street, it was cushy living. No one screamed at you and hit you with a newspaper. No one made you wear a choke chain.”
Synopsis: This caper finds an aging lothario and an American who overstayed her student visa embroiled in a mystery.
PW’s takeaway: Petruzziello’s loving descriptions of Milan’s streets, galleries, and cafés are worth the price of admission.
Comparable title: Elmore Leonard’s Swag
Synopsis: In Butler’s fifth mystery featuring Washington, D.C., lobbyist Karina Cardinal, the heroine sets out to clear her ex-boyfriend’s name.
PW’s Takeaway: Fans of intelligent escapism will look forward to more.
Comparable title: Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series
Synopsis: Gilbert channels her interest in wild birds into a novel revolving around the restoration of a bald eagle to a Canadian refuge.
PW’s takeaway: Gilbert does a great job describing the distinct world of her characters, and the plot builds nail-biting suspense.
Comparable title: Julia London’s You Lucky Dog