Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels

REDO REVIEW: Fly by Night by Tara O’Connor

*No Major Spoilers*

Trigger Warnings: Verbal Abuse, Grief, and brief mentions of fire and murder

Something supernatural is lurking in the woods. While out searching for her missing sister and desperately trying to find any possible clues to her whereabouts, Dee discovers something . . . isn’t quite right . . . in the woods. Dee soon finds herself in the middle of a battle to save the pinelands, and she is finding more suspects, and more questions, than answers.

As time goes on, there is only one thing she knows for certain, there are monsters among us. But they aren’t who you should be afraid of . . .


Rating: 4 out of 5.

I have been trying to diversify my reading this year, and when I saw this at my local library I thought I’d take the opportunity to check it out. The vibrant cover, and the mystery aspect makes this seem like the perfect review for me. So let’s sniff out Fly by Night.

First of this novel’s favorite color is purple. Even though a majority of this graphic novel is seen in shades of lavender and lilac, there’s a creepiness to it that helps the on going mystery of it all. Color theory for the win!

I like that we have a unique situation regarding Dee’s parents. That they were not only divorced but it was an interracial marriage. It’s hinted at through dialogue and insomnia spells that Dee’s father was abusive towards their mother. The father believes that if he kept both sisters together that Beth wouldn’t be missing.

Dee’s mom is visibly declining in health, she has heavy bags under her eyes and she looks like she hasn’t eaten or slept since Beth’s disappearance. Having her ex-husband there going on tirades when he’s not at work clearly is not making things easier. However she is relieved to have Dee there to help find out what happened to Beth.

As Dee is trying to sniff out clues, there’s an ongoing war against an oil company wanting to destroy the Pine-lands by building a pipeline. Beth was a major defender for the forest along with their science teacher and other students at the school. So how anyone has time to finish homework is beyond me. (haha)

Overall, I really enjoyed this graphic novel, there’s a lot of heart and care put in towards the characters. Even the Jersey Devil get’s an appearance and has a role to play in Dee’s story. I would recommend this novel for anyone looking for a heartwarming mystery. Even fans of the Jersey Devil or Cryptozoology would enjoy this tale of how we need to protect the places that mean the most to us.

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels

RAPID REVIEW: Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

*No Spoilers*

Trigger Warnings: brief sexual assault, swearing, and brief mentions about weight and peer pressure, moderate blood and gore

When Becca transfers to a high school in an elite San Francisco suburb, she’s worried she’s not going to fit in. To her surprise, she’s immediately adopted by the most popular girls in school. At first glance, Marley, Arianna, and Mandy are perfect. But at a party under a full moon, Becca learns that they also have a big secret.

Becca’s new friends are werewolves. Their prey? Slimy boys who take advantage of unsuspecting girls. Eager to be accepted, Becca allows her friends to turn her into a werewolf, and finally, for the first time in her life, she feels like she truly belongs.

But things get complicated when Arianna’s predatory boyfriend is killed, and the cops begin searching for a serial killer. As their pack begins to buckle under the pressure—and their moral high ground gets muddier and muddier—Becca realizes that she might have feelings for one of her new best friends.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

This graphic novel has been floating around TikTok and overall the reviews have been mixed. So I went into this story not expecting much, most high school tropes get on my nerves. So let’s sniff out this review for Squad.

This is another one of those novels that is obviously not for my demographic. I was never the new kid at school, and I never really joined a Mean Girls type friend group. Since those are huge aspects of this story that I don’t match then yeah, but I read it because I was curious. You don’t see female werewolves outside of the romance section.

One thing I didn’t like was that there’s pressure amongst the main group for Becca to fit a size 2 or 3 so they can easily share clothes. I want this toxic idea out of YA fiction. You should love your body no matter whether your a 0 or a 42+. If anyone disagrees then you don’t need that kind of toxicity in your life.

Overall, this was a mediocre story to the point where I really don’t have many thoughts or opinions about it. I liked the diversity amongst the main group of girls, but other than that this is just a petty story filled with melodrama and flimsy motives. I’d say pass on this unless your curious like I was.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

RAPID REVIEW: The Hunchback Assignments (The Hunchback Assignments #1) by Arthur Slade

*No Major Spoilers*

The mysterious Mr. Socrates rescues Modo, a child in a traveling freak show. Modo is a hunchback with an amazing ability to transform his appearance, and Mr. Socrates raises him in isolation as an agent for the Permanent Association, a spy agency behind Brittania’s efforts to rule the empire. At 14, Modo is left on the streets of London to fend for himself. When he encounters Octavia Milkweed, another Association agent, the two uncover a plot by the Clockword Guild behind the murders of important men. Furthermore, a mad scientist is turning orphan children into automatons to further the goals of the Guild. Modo and Octavia journey deep into the tunnels under London and discover a terrifying plot against the British government. It’s up to them to save their country.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Back in 2020, I read a graphic novel spin-off of this series called Modo: Ember’s End. I still enjoyed this novel even without knowing much about the series other than what was said in the graphic novel. So, I am thinking about making a whole post comparing the two after I reread the graphic novel so I can talk about them with fresh eyes.

I like this alternative take on The Hunchback of Notre Dame story. Modo gets found by a secret organization and gets to be trained on how to be an undercover agent. It’s so cool on top of everything being steampunk.

In my review of Modo: Ember’s End I said that I wish they didn’t make Octavia the typical dumb brute that is paired with the smart, scientific genius. However, in The Hunchback Assignments, Octavia is a smart and clever girl who catches on that Modo has a special ability. Even when she asks to see his true form she respects Modo’s boundaries when he refuses.

Overall, I found this novel to be an entertaining read. Seeing Modo go through a transformation makes me excited to read more of this series in the future. I would recommend this novel for fans of fairy tale retellings, Young Adult fiction, or fans of spy thrillers and steampunk.

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino

*Spoilers Incoming!*

**This novel contains descriptions of magic, blood, gore, and violence. Rated for 14+**

Tess Matheson only wants three things: time to practice her cello, for her sister to be happy, and for everyone else to leave her alone.

Instead, Tess finds herself working all summer at her boarding school library, shelving books and dealing with the intolerable patrons. The worst of them is Eliot Birch: snide, privileged, and constantly requesting forbidden grimoires. After a bargain with Eliot leads to the discovery of an ancient book in the library’s grimoire collection, the pair accidentally unleash a book-bound demon.

The demon will stop at nothing to stay free, manipulating ink to threaten those Tess loves and dismantling Eliot’s strange magic. Tess is plagued by terrible dreams of the devil and haunting memories of a boy who wears Eliot’s face. All she knows is to stay free, the demon needs her… and he’ll have her, dead or alive.


Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

When I found this novel at my local library it sounded like an interesting premise. Haunted library, demonic possession, and chaos all around; sounds fun right? Well, I tend to be picky about my Young Adult fiction sometimes. When I read a novel, I am more of a ‘don’t beat around the bush and say what you want to say’ kind of person. This whole ‘oh he has to hate me for my simple mistake’ and ‘she doesn’t want me. She wants boy X,Y, or Z.” When they are both clearly into each other is annoying and aggravating. Maybe that’s just me getting old, or maybe I’m not much of a romantic.

This novel is Ms. Bovalino’s debut novel, and I have a difficult time just completely tearing down this book. It has it’s good qualities and it’s bad qualities. My complaints lay with things I consider to be a major factor in my enjoyment of reading. Those being character dialogue and character development.

Now, I can tell that she put a lot of love and care into Eliot. I clearly understood his motives and his backstory. Tess on the other hand, I never fully understood her motives, even though she kept repeating them at least once a chapter. Maybe Tess and I got off on the wrong foot in the beginning, and I’m blowing this out of proportion.

If you wanted peace, you wouldn’t wear the devil’s face.

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino

Tess’s reasons for going to this boarding school revolve around her parents being bad with money and making poor business decisions while the economy is struggling. She is giving up her dreams of going to her dream college just to make sure she can protect her little sister Natalie. I felt that not only keeping Natalie, who’s 13, in the dark about everything is naïve. I think a 13 year old has the capacity to understand that her parents made bad financial decisions. However, her older sister will still be there for her when she needs someone to talk to.

Tess throughout the story is so concerned about paying for this prep school, surely she would qualify for financial aid or scholarships because of her parents’ financial situation. If she discussed that I must’ve missed it because doing so would’ve helped ease the stress a bit.

Now with Eliot, his parents are wealthy enough he could’ve gone to any school he wanted. However, he goes to the one where his dad used to be on the school board, even though he is closer with his mother. He wants to learn more about the magic he shares with his mother, even though he is the reason he and Tess unleash a demon into the world he is still more than willing to help Tess destroy the book and the devil right along with it.

Overall, I thought this book was okay. The premise was promising, but the execution of the characters and their dynamics wasn’t my cup of tea. If you enjoy YA romance with their paranormal activity then I’d say give this book a shot. Just because it isn’t my cup of tea doesn’t mean you shouldn’t borrow it from a friend or local library.


Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Vanishing Girl (Daphne and Velma #1) by Josephine Ruby

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*No Major Spoilers*

Popular Daphne Blake and über-nerd Velma Dinkley are not friends. They aren’t enemies either, but they don’t have any reason to speak to each other, and that’s how they prefer it. The two girls grew up together—they’d been best friends since pre-K—but when they hit middle school, Daphne dropped Velma and never looked back.

These days, Daphne’s deep in the popular crowd, daughter of the richest family in town, while Velma’s an outsider, hiding from the world behind her thick glasses. When they run into each other in the halls of Crystal Cove High, they look the other way.

But then Daphne’s best friend, Marcy—who happens to be Velma’s cousin—goes missing. A century ago, there was a wave of disappearances in Crystal Cove, and many local people believe that supernatural forces were behind it. Now the whole town believes those same forces are back…and up to no good.

Daphne and Velma may be the only ones who can solve the mystery and save Marcy—if they can trust each other enough to try. Especially since the truth might be stranger—and scarier—than either girl can imagine…

~

If you are a fan of the Scooby-Doo franchise, the fan service is all here. You have references to fan-favorite characters, as well as characters the author created herself. So let’s see how The Vanishing Girl stands up to the typical Scooby-Doo formula.

This novel handles a lot of difficult topics in a very realistic way. Daphne is dealing with the hurt of her parents being divorced and co-parenting. Velma is dealing with being an outcast to everyone around her while her dad is suffering from crippling depression and her mom is the manager at the local theme park. Not only that, but Velma is also working at the same amusement park just to help her family make ends meet.

I felt the issues were handled as any teenager would handle something they couldn’t see the big picture of. Wounds take time to heal, and this novel shows us this throughout the unraveling mystery. After so many hurtful words and actions between Velma and Daphne, they’re not going to be going back to being BFFs overnight.

The mystery of who or what is haunting Crystal Cove is your typical Scooby mystery, a case that seems complex but actually, once solved and explained, is pretty simple. However, since it’s primarily Velma and Daphne working on the case, Shaggy, Scooby, or Fred make many appearances throughout the story.

Even though I was able to solve the mystery before Velma and Daphne, I felt the emotional ride the author took us on was more important and more valuable than the mystery itself. I had to take small breaks at points in the novel to keep myself from getting upset. So get those tissues ready when you read this one!

Overall, as easy as it is to write this off as glorified fanfiction, I really enjoyed The Vanishing Girl. The mystery is well thought out and the drama feels genuine and realistic. I would highly recommend this novel to fans of the Scooby-Doo franchise, fans of female detectives, and young adult readers alike.

Read more of my Scooby-Doo reviews if you enjoyed this review.

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