Book Reviews of the Latest Releases

June 2022
Written By: 
Sam Ikner
Photographs by: 
courtesy of the Publishers

The best in kid-friendly and sophisticated reads from local authors

Buccaneer’s Spit 
By J.E. Thompson 
Pelican Publishing, $15.95
Release Date: October 18, 2021

Although this story is primarily for middle grade readers, even adults can get enjoyment out of J.E. Thompson’s novel that explores themes of conservation, family turmoil and learning disabilities. The story follows Callie, our 12-year-old heroine, as she navigates a solo spring break trip to her grandfather’s home in Charleston. From the start, it’s clear that Callie’s family is keeping a secret or two from her, and she’s determined to find out why the adults in her life are seemingly hiding something huge from her. With a heavy emphasis on problem solving, coastal conservation and a plethora of interesting facts about sea turtles, porpoises, alligators and even pirate treasure, readers will learn more about the environment without even realizing it! Buccaneer’s Spit is also set in OpenDyslexic typeface, making it easily accessible for all readers to enjoy—including those who might struggle with dyslexia, like the book’s prominent secondary character, Jimmy. The pair race to solve the mystery of hidden treasure before time runs out and an unscrupulous real estate developer ruins the natural beauty of Buccaneer’s Spit. With a final twist that many readers won’t see coming, this story will keep you engaged until the very end.  

By Jason Ockert 
Dzanc, $16.95
Release Date: February 22, 2022 

Our older readers will enjoy Jason Ockert’s fourth published work, Shadowselves, which is comprised of a dark collection of stories. Ockert, author of novels, such as Wasp Box, and other short story collections, such as Neighbors of Nothing and Rabbit Punches, is also a local professor at Coastal Carolina University (CCU). His work takes on a surreal feel, while simultaneously creating characters that are real, believable and full of life on the page. Ockert demonstrates his ability to craft complex characters and situations that consistently subvert expectations and leave you guessing until the end. If you’re looking for a read that will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you really think about your own reality, this is a perfect collection for you. With a writing style that is dark, powerful and unafraid of risk-taking, Shadowselves is a praise-worthy collection that takes a look at the grotesque and unnerving. While reading his work, you’ll understand that students at CCU who have the pleasure of taking his writing courses are learning from a seasoned professional with a real knack for crafting stories.