Book Review: Bridge of Souls (City of Ghosts)

Book Review: "Bridge of Souls" ("City of Ghosts" #3) by Victoria Schwab ...

The Bridge of Souls is the third installment in a series for young adult readers by Victoria Schwab, a writer I enjoy for her range of magical fiction. I had read and savored the first two books in the Cassidy Blake series when they came out, and both during a unit on Independent Reading/Choice Books with my students, and so it is again this year.

Bridge of Souls continues Cassie’s journal an in-between, a person whose gift allows her to traverse the “veil” between the land of the living and the world of the ghosts, wandering souls who are waiting to move to a final resting place. Cassie’s family produces video documentaries of ghostly places, and this third book takes place in New Orleans.

Schwab takes her time with character development, which I appreciate, and there are nuances and hints at what still might unfold ahead in the series. Here, Cassie is confronted with an Emissary of Death, which is calling for her, and it takes all of her cunning and power and friendships to survive.

Meanwhile, her best friend, a ghost named Jacob, is changing, too, and it’s not clear if this is for the better or not. (Jacob had saved Cassie’s life in the first book, and that near-death experience gives Cassie the ability to move through the Veil and to use a mirror pendant to send ghosts on the way to a final resting destination).

This book is a good fit for any adolescent readers who like ghost stories, but not one that are too scary. With its focus on character and mystery, Schwab has woven another good adventure in the City of Ghosts series.

Peace (resting),

Song: You Couldn’t Lose Me Now (If You Tried)

Much of 2023, I wasn’t writing much on my guitar. I did other music projects (like my In An Otherwise Odd World electronic music collection) but not much in terms of sitting down, with pen and paper, and finding chords, and writing something new. It wasn’t Writers Block, necessarily – just uninspired.

Then 2024 rolls around, and I have three new songs underway.

This one is the first — You Couldn’t Lose Me Now (If You Tried) — and I decided to go further on it than a simple demo, as I recorded many parts, and it felt pretty good (except for some vocal parts that just eluded me, and I still cringe at those moments, which I sort of covered up with some other sounds. My vocal range is small.)

I felt creative throughout the entire process — from the first sparks of the music and lyrics, to how it ended up — and I was grateful for the Muse to be sitting there with me, for a bit.

My lyric sheets were an adventure, though, and periodically, I track my writing process from initial writing to revision to final.

Lyric Sheets: You Couldn't Lose Me Now

After the song was done, I decided to create an animated text video with the lyrics in Keynote. I was reminded of how difficult and how long it takes to sync words to sound in a project like this. But, overall, I am happy with how the video came out.

Peace (strummed with words),

Open Write: Five Days/Five Poems

Words, Delayed By Snow

I joined in for this month’s Open Write at Ethical ELA (although I came a day late and stayed a day longer with my poetry writing). It was another interesting round of poetry prompts.

The open above is in the form of a Naani (Indian) poem, and a form I was not familiar with. It’s sort of like a Haiku in terms of character limitations, but a bit more open in structure. I wrote about waiting for the call on a wintry day (which came minutes after I finished writing the poem).

This next poem was prompted to rethink a person in your orbit. I had a student in mind.


A “why?” poem had me pondering why I write songs.

Why Write SongsThe prompt I missed and then returned to suggests using fictional characters from a book, put into some recent situation or technology theme. I used the main characters from Jake Burt’s The Right Hook Of Devin Velma, which we are reading in class, and it already has a social media theme to it.

Saving Devin's Dad

And this was another school-related poem, retold of an incident that a colleague shared.

Paper Horn Of Plenty
I look forward to next month’s five days of Open Write.

Peace (and poems),

Duke Rushmore: Live Clips

My band — Duke Rushmore — played out with the other night with a new singer and we had a pretty full club of friends, family and strangers who came out to listen and dance. These clips were shot by my son. That’s me, on saxophone.

Peace (in the beat),

Video Documentary: The Last Repair Shop

When I was a kid, my father (a drummer) used to bring me to visit a musical instrument repair shop for odds and ends, and it would be a place I enjoy just being in, just hanging out in.

It was called George’s Music Shop, and George was the man behind the counter, and when I was learning saxophone, it remained a place of wonder. I even used my memories there for a collection of connected short stories at one point (NOTE TO SELF: dig that up and revisit the stories)

This documentary — The Last Repair Shop – is a wonder of capturing a place in Los Angeles, and how the shop is a hub for fixing things and maybe, people.

It also inspired my morning poem:

On a memory stop
to an old repair shop
on Main, a whistle in B flat
ringing on the door, opening,
explaining I’m here,
aiming to get a broken sax,
fixed; worn pads,
replaced; things sound
better, with love

I hand it to the man
behind a glass counter
littered with sheet music,
cork grease, guitar strings –
his probing fingers pour
over every turn of the neck,
the bell, the cage, the springs

In a gruff voice, he speaks,
in a sort of bebop rhyme:
he’ll weave some magic
to make my sax sing again –
come back in two weeks time

Peace (and repairs),

Roots (Still) Take Hold

I revisited this poem last year with an art adventure with Simon, and now with Sarah and others thinking of launching a Rhizomatic Learning for 2024, I went back, and did another version. Why? The poem captures for me a moment in Rhizo14 that anchors me in that learning time, and makes me wonder at what we can do now, ten years later.

Peace (Digging Deep),

PS — hat nod to Dave Cormier’s long tail in helping many of us to learn in open spaces … or is it his long tale?