Review of Netflix’s “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

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Last night I watched the first episode of the new Netflix series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on the comic books that also inspired the 90’s tv show Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I was a big fan of the 90’s show, so I have been waiting with excitement to check out the new series, however, after watching the first episode, it is clear that this new version is much, much darker and less light-hearted than the older tv show!

I do like the new show so far, so I am not necessarily complaining, but I want to warn everyone that if you are looking for something similar to the Melissa Joan Hart Sabrina, you will not find that! I was initially a little bummed that Salem doesn’t really talk in this version, but I think it actually fits better into the show considering how somber this show is compared to the previous one.

I do like the actress they cast as Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka). I’m not huge on Ross Lynch playing Harvey, but maybe that is just because every time I see him I still see Austin from Austin & Ally. I felt like they did try to find actresses who resembled the 90’s versions of Aunt Hilda and Aunt Zelda, although Zelda is not nearly as likeable and is kind of mean instead of just serious and scholarly like the older adaptation. I do enjoy the character of Ambrose quite a bit and feel it was a good addition.

I have seen some viewers complain about the satanism elements included in this new show, and I can see why some people would find that upsetting, although it doesn’t bother me personally. Although, as someone interested in paganism and Wicca, I hope that viewers of this show don’t start thinking everyone into witchcraft is into satanism – a stereotype that has already existed far too long.

I do plan to watch the rest of the series and enjoy it, but as more of a horror/dark fantasy series than a comedy or silly teenage drama.

YA Book Review: “Without Tess” by Marcella Pixley

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“Without Tess”, written by Marcella Pixley, is one of the best YA novels I have read in a while. I rarely give books five stars when rating them, but this one I did. The story revolves around the main character (Lizzie), and her dead sister (Tess). Lizzie is the younger sister by a couple years and was only 10 when her older sister tragically passed away.

The real star of the novel is Tess. As you read through the book and relive vibrant memories Lizzie shared with Tess, you come to both love and sometimes dislike Tess. Tess was a true believer in magic. She was creative and passionate. She was both loving and loyal, but at times cruel and violent. She was mentally ill, and at times downright psychotic. This novel is a lifelike retelling of what it is like to grow up with an extremely mentally ill sibling. It addresses the love, the hate, the sadness, the pain, the rage, the guilt, and all the other emotions that come along with such a disturbing family dynamic.

I had a deeply personal connection with this book, both as someone who grew up with a mentally ill sibling, and someone who eventually lost that sibling, mostly due to that mental illness. At one point the book even made me tear up, which is extremely rare for any book to do. Definitely recommended!

2 Great YA Books About a Sensitive Subject

Suicide is a sensitive subject, and one that people often shy away from, even if it has touched their own lives personally. However, as someone whose life was deeply impacted by a loss due to suicide, I try to be open about its reality and unafraid to tackle it head on. In the spirit of that, I want to share the following two videos I made about young adult novels I’ve read recently that really handled the subject well in my opinion, and will give readers plenty of food for thought:

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New school year starting! Author visit time!

I am thrilled to see the start of another school year because that means I get to do what I love best, visit schools and share my love of literature with kids and young adults! This year will be especially happy for me because I am visiting my old stomping ground. Although most of the school author visits I conduct are close to the Dayton, Ohio area (where I currently live), this year I will be going back to my hometown of Muncie, Indiana!

Why does this excite me so much? Well, some of it is plain, old-fashioned pride. I loved growing up in Muncie and am excited to return there to share my two published books. I am also thrilled to get the chance to be the featured author and speaker at Muncie’s Young Author’s Conference. This is pretty much a dream come true for me since I went to the Young Author’s Conferences myself as a child and dreamed of someday being an author just like those I met there…and now, I have achieved that!

I also plan to visit my old elementary school and my old high school (among other school visits). I just can’t imagine how it will feel to be back within those walls of the schools I once loved so much. I really hope to be able to inspire the kids there and show them that we all have the potential to make our dreams come true!