Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Happy Book Birthday, Whispering Pines: Extinction by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski!

It's time to celebrate another book birthday (yippeee!). Today's read is the 4th in a series, and I'm back to my old habit of not reading any other books in the series first. So, I'm definitely hitting this tale late into the plot. I'm hoping that I can still sink into the story (I love series, which still allow the reader to do that) and enjoy the fun because this should be a very action packed read with zombies, aliens, monsters and more.

Whispering Pines, #4
by Heidi Lang &
Kati Bartkowski
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Middle Grade Science Fiction
368 pages
ages 9 to 12

In this spine-tingling final book in the Whispering Pines middle grade series that’s Stranger Things meets The X-Files , Caden searches for a way to destroy the creatures from the Other Place for good while Rae tries to free her father from the sinister Green On!.

After more than a year of searching, Rae finally has a lead on her missing father: he’s being kept prisoner by the shady alternative energy company, Green On!. Now all she has to do is rescue him—even though that means battling her way through the alien-infested Watchful Woods to reach him. But her father isn’t the only secret they have locked up, and if Rae wants to free him, she’ll first have to make a deal with someone who has betrayed her in the past.

With the Other Place gone and all the aliens sealed within the Watchful Woods, Caden believes his family’s worries are over at last—until he discovers that the magical seal keeping the creatures contained is near collapse. If they manage to escape the woods, there will be no stopping them from ravaging the town and the world beyond. Caden only has one choice: he must find a way to destroy the creatures once and for all. Even if it means destroying everything in the woods.

Including his friends.

With the fate of Whispering Pines hanging by a thread, it’s a desperate race against the clock as Rae and Caden fight to save the people they love—and the strange, wonderful town they call home.



Tension and action mix with enough emotion to drive this tale forward from beginning to end.

Usually, I start with a quick overview of the story...or at least, enough to get readers going. This time, I'm just going to skip out since there is really that much going on. Plus, I didn't hit this series until this fourth book, which means that the other three books have already built up tons of background and world-building. While I did miss some information and had to just accept some things at face value because I hadn't read three books, it was actually fairly easy to jump into the story and get a grip on the characters. Still, I would recommend reading this series in order, since each book builds on the last.

This is an exciting and packed read, which doesn't talk down to the age group nor try to soften the blow for them. These characters have tons to deal with (aliens, sinister organizations, secrets and more) and each of these problems scream real danger and extremely high stakes. There is blood and gore, not super graphic but enough to make fans sink right in. This book doesn't shy away just because the audience is middle grade, but rather, it dives right in and pays only enough attention not to press the borders too far. Sensitive readers should be aware of how tense this read gets, where fans of action and thrillers will thoroughly enjoy the read.

That said, every scene races by and leaves only short space for catching a breath. But it's not too fast, either. Then, there's the monsters and aliens, and other things which seem to tease at the border of a horror novel. I see why this is a popular series and imagine fans will enjoy this latest edition quite a bit.

 And here they are...

Heidi Lang managed to stumble upon the two best jobs in the world: writing for kids and walking dogs. If she’s not out on the trails surrounded by wagging tails and puppy kisses, she’s probably hunched over her laptop working on her next book. She lives in northern California with her husband and two adventure-loving dogs, and she is the coauthor of the Mystic Cooking Chronicles and Whispering Pines series, and author of Out of Range. Find her on Twitter @HidLang or visit the website she shares with her writing partner at HeidiandKatiBooks.com.

Kati Bartkowski was originally drawn to illustration before she got swept up in the world of words. Nowadays she’s a fan of creating fantastical creatures and feisty heroines in both mediums. If she’s not reading, writing, or drawing, she’s probably chasing after her high energy little girl. She lives in northern California and is the coauthor of the Mystic Cooking Chronicles and Whispering Pines series. Find her on Twitter @KTBartkowski or visit the website she shares with her writing partner at HeidiandKatiBooks.com.

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