Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Dark Deception (Daphne and Velma #2) by Morgan Baden


*No Major Spoilers*

Despite their differences, Daphne and Velma were able to solve the mystery of The Vanishing Girl. But there are a lot of secrets buried in the town of Crystal Cove. And the biggest case of all still remains unsolved… why did the town’s original settlers all disappear? What happened to them?

Velma is determined to find out… especially because her family’s ancestors were among the disappeared. And now that she and Daphne have started to get a reputation for solving mysteries, everyone in town is looking to them for answers.

But digging up the past can be dangerous… especially when some people in town have profited from the mystery for so long. Can these two intrepid teen detectives crack the case… and escape with their lives?

~~ Trigger Warnings for mentions of bullying ~~

As you know, I love Scooby-Doo and, the franchise is something near and dear to me. When I found out about this series existence, I read and reviewed The Vanishing Girl in March. I loved the novel overall, and I couldn’t wait to read the sequel Dark Deception. So let’s see how the sequel stands up. 

Since the previous book tackled most of the drama between Velma and Daphne, that’s now resolved. Though there are hints here and there that times haven’t healed things completely, overall things are better. 

This novel takes place shortly after the previous one. I loved how there was a smooth transition back into Crystal Cove and, hijinks abound. Shaggy is in trouble and, it’s up to Velma and Daphne to figure out what has their childhood friend troubled. Don’t worry, no mention of child abuse!

However, Shaggy’s family troubles are the least of their worries when gems start washing up on the shores of Crystal Cove. It seems like Velma and Daphne have more investigating to do!

If teenage drama is not your thing, then I would say to start with this novel. There’s a little high school drama, but it’s nothing like the previous entry in the series. Velma continues to deal with the insecurities that high school gives. Daphne received an internship to work at the local paper and quickly develops a crush on one of her coworkers.

Overall, I liked this sequel. I think this one was a bit of a letdown because the mystery was predictable. Of course, I am a twenty-something reading a book series meant for kids. Even though the case was easily solvable for me, it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the story.

I enjoyed the characters and the familiar nostalgia that the Scooby-Doo series brings. I am already looking forward to the next entry in this series! I would recommend this novel for lovers of Scooby-Doo, mysteries, YA fiction, and female detectives. 

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Posted in Book Club Reads, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

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*No Major Spoilers*

Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.

So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her best friend was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.

In this month’s book club read, I was interested in the premise of this novel. A unique twist on the zombie/paranormal genre. Teen Wiccans or “witches” as society calls the group. Solving a possible murder case with no help from friends or family.

“A scoop of dried rosemary goes into the bag, followed by salt. Sometimes, magic looks a lot like how my mom prepares chicken”- Undead Girl Gang

When I found out that this was a young adult novel, I was hesitant. With my book readings, I find most young adult fiction to be immature and drama that is unnecessary to the plot. This novel does have patches of teen drama, but it’s not too much to break the immersion. I groaned and complained when I felt like the drama was going on for too long. But overall, it sticks with the main story fairly well.

I know a lot of adolescents go through with body image issues, but it still bothered me how the main character kept saying that she was a “fat witch” or paints herself in a negative light.

One of my favorite parts that I found to be clever in the storytelling was how the girls couldn’t be further than 100 paces apart without the undead girls to turn into actual-looking zombies.

The only character I found to be likable was Xander, who is Riley’s older brother. Over the course of the book, Mila and Xander become close as they both mourn the loss of their friends and his sister. He seems to be a likable guy who I can relate to somewhat from real life experience.

This book’s plot twist blew me away in that I didn’t see it coming! I won’t spoil who the killer is, but if it’s someone I didn’t guess then you won’t see it coming either.

The bad guy’s motives I found to be realistic and relatable. I was worried about how the author was going to explain the motive for doing the evil deeds. Sometimes authors try and pull a huge plot twist, and they make a weak motive or don’t explain the motive very well.

“Most magic is just telling the universe that you’re thankful to be here”- Undead Girl Gang

Overall, I found this book to be a good read if you want a fun read that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you like paranormal, zombies, high school crushes, and a good mystery, this is the book for you!

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

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*No Major Spoilers*

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company, and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths even more disturbing secrets.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?

I was really looking forward to reading this novel while I was looking for Jessica Jones comic books for the comic week. Krysten Ritter is the actress that plays Jessica Jones on the Netflix series of the same name. I was wondering if it was going to have hints of her Netflix character sprinkled in there.

I listened to this novel on audiobook, I feel like I absorb and understand the novel better when I hear it. So I’m sorry if you consider that cheating.

Anyway, this novel reminded me a lot of my experiences in high school. High school was not the best time for me because of many reasons. So I had to deal with those feelings that the novel brought up.

This novel is parts what I expected it to be, and parts that threw me for a loop. There were sprinklings of Jessica Jones in here, if you have never seen the show then it’s just a cool “easter egg” for the fans.

I loved this novel, there wasn’t a moment of rest. I was just go-go-go as soon as Abby Williams drives into Barren. Both action and thriller wise as well as an emotional roller coaster.

I actually like this protagonist, she is strong and determined. When she becomes close to solving the mystery of her used-to-be friend, Kaycee, she will not stop until the mystery of her past is solved.

I would recommend this for Book Clubs and casual readers alike. There’s mystery, thriller, emotions, and dug up memories to satisfy any reader.