#BookReview In The Dark by Cara Hunter

I discovered Cara Hunter years ago through Goodreads and ever since I’ve been on the hunt for her novels. I accidentally came across one of them in a local store. They normally don’t even sell books! But there was In The Dark perched on top of a little display. I grabbed it, speed walked as fast as I could and bought this book. It sat on my shelf as I admired it, and finally got the nerve to picked it up. The wait was DEFINITELY worth it. All caps, bold, italicize – let’s make this clear. In The Dark by Cara Hunter is a delightfully addicting thriller for mystery fans.

Cara Hunter has a special voice when it comes to thrillers. There are no chapters – the story just keeps moving. There’s constant movement, a fast pace and twists and turns all over. Suspects are introduced and hinted at along the way. Reader sleuths will have fun trying to nail down who did what with who throughout this book. Who kidnapped the girl and her child? Who killed another person? Was there an affair? Is the older man crazy or does he actually have dementia? Why are all of these people so suspicious?!

A young woman and her child are found in a basement. This is shocking and sudden, but links to deaths of women in the past. Everyone wonders if this is the missing woman that was presumably kidnapped years ago… But what if she’s not? The story unwinds to bring us many suspects who have likely cause for this behaviour. Abusive marriages, desperate affairs, greedy relatives after wills and deceit will bring forth the suspect… But with so many suspects, is it only one person? Or is all of this nonsense connected?

DI Adam Fawley’s books are super intriguing. They glue me to every page and it’s really hard not to binge the entire book. I couldn’t get enough of the thrills, twists and turns Cara puts into this book. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves mysteries and thrillers. The character development is also on point. I loved how Cara painted these pictures of how everyone is not perfect and how we need to think about all of the information we’ve been given. It felt like I was a detective alongside Adam Fawley and his crew. It’s an absolute delight for thriller fans like myself.

Overall, this is yet another winning book! I highly recommend it and will continue to support Cara Hunter. Who doesn’t love sneaking away into an amazingly written book?

Five out of five stars.

Want to join in the thrill ride? Grab this book now:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Indigo
B&N

Check out Cara’s socials by clicking on the links below:
Goodreads Author Page
Twitter: @CaraHunterBooks

Looking for more thrilling reads to fill up your TBR? Check out some of my other faves featured on my blog:
Close to Home by Cara Hunter
Spiral by Khaled Talib
Wrong Place by Michelle Davies

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#BookReview Spiral by Khaled Talib

Khaled Talib has crafted another magnificent thriller, called Spirals, to keep you on the edge of your seats.

In Spiral, Laurence Turner is apart of many tragic, surprise events that just keep coming his way. He’s been around enough dead people to make it suspicious. Honestly, it’s amazing this guy hasn’t been labelled suspicious before! His fiancee died on a tragic trip that he doesn’t remember much of. He picks grapes but also is near a lab that is cloning, which tragedy will soon fall on them too. This guy is just a tragedy magnet, the poor fellow.

As bad luck follows Laurence, he gets swept up into a giant conspiracy. Russian spies, fake friends and thrills everywhere, this book is gonna leave you breathless! There’s lots of plot twists that are awesome and I didn’t see coming (seriously, I was surprised which is a hard thing to do with how many books I read and soap operas I grew up on).

Other fun notes:

  1. A dude named Snowman, because of course there is.
  2. Fast paced, constant action and rescue missions.
  3. Biker gangs!
  4. Excellent introduction to insane terminology like coddiwomple.

Overall, this is an excellent thriller for those seeking something not mainstream. I love picking up indie thrillers because they don’t follow the same formula the bestsellers list does. Seriously, if you love thrillers and mysteries then grab an indie book. You’ll be surprised how many new favourites you’ll pick up!

Four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Khlaed Talib, in exchange of an honest review.

You can find out more about Spirals or purchase it by clicking on one of the links below:
Goodreads
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
B&N

Khaled Talib is one magnificent author. Why don’t you give his pages a like or a follow to learn more about him?
Goodreads Author Page
https://www.khaledtalibthriller.com/
Twitter: @KhaledTalib

Do you love thrillers? Here are some other thrilling books featured on my blog that you’ll enjoy if you love books like Spiral:
#BookReview Gun Kiss by Khaled Talib
#BookReview The American Crusade by Mark Spivek
#BookReview The Rainbow Vintner by Geza Tatrallyay

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#BookReview Intricate Deceptions by Jennifer Rayes

Intricate Deceptions was an exceptional start to an exciting series.

This novel was far better than I expected it to be. At the beginning, I was a little put off by the start (loss of memory/amnesia as an intro hasn’t boded well for me in my readings) but it turned out to blow my mind! I’m really impressed with Jennifer Rayes’s story telling and I am desperate to get the next novel in this book now!

Anywho, my opinions:

1. The start felt like an adult novel 100%, but as the story went on it felt closer to a New Adult novel. It is definitely R rated for some of the content (human trafficking), but some of the conversations felt more YA like (the romance).

2. Without spoiling, some of the plot points seem to happen “just in time” or to fit the narrative, rather than the story unfolding in a timely manner to get to those sections. I would have loved this book to be a little bit longer and come to the conclusions on their own, but the plot still worked.

3. CLIFFHANGER. Jennifer, why did you do this to me? Now I NEED the second book!

4. Difficult content – Human trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping… Some of this content may be difficult to read for some people. Keep that in mind when you want to read this book! I did think Jennifer did a great job in this book with how she addressed the tough/harsh issues of the world. It’d be very difficult to have a book be light-hearted at some moments, but harsh at others yet Jennifer managed to keep the tones perfect and at the right timing.

5. Time period – I’m kind of confused on what the time period is. At the beginning, it felt like early times monarchy but as I moved forward it felt like a modern story without cellular devices. That confused me the most with this book, but once I got past that and just let myself enjoy the book it was no problem at all. I probably missed the cues somewhere (gotta love exam time). In the next book, I’d love to see this expanded on more. Maybe I could learn more about the history of this magical world we’ve dove into in this novel?

6. Characters seem to disappear for a while at the beginning of the book, but they do come back! I was worried that characters were being introduced for no reason, but Jennifer did tie them back into the story. I hope more of them make appearances in further novels!

Overall, I really liked this book! When you look past the small continuity errors, this book is an exciting ride that I want to continue! Hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on a copy of the second book!

Four out of five stars!

Jennifer Rayes requested a review for this book and sent me a free copy. This had no impact on my review, this is my honest opinion.

Find Intricate Deceptions on Amazon:

Intricate Deceptions on Amazon.ca

Intricate Deceptions on Amazon.com

Find Jennifer Rayes on her website or Goodreads:

http://jenniferrayes.wix.com/intricateseries

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7410834.Jennifer_Rayes

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview The Charming Predator by Lee MacKenzie

If you read this review, comment below your opinions on this book! Or give me a shoutout on twitter @ReviewAlholic with the hashtags #BriarsReviews & #IntricateDeceptions

#BookReview Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

Hidden by Catherine McKenzie was the most surprising book of the year – it 200% exceeded my expectations!

If you haven’t read this book, I’d highly recommend it. This contemporary novel follows the death of a man and the fallout that ensues. Jeff steps into the street (with his eyes closed, bad decision on his part) and is killed. His wife and son along with his co-workers must come to accept his death and unravel a big secret he left behind.

There is lots of drama in this book – cheating, big life decisions like changing jobs, following dreams and dealing with past mistakes. Claire, Jeff’s wife, used to date Jeff’s brother. When he left for Australia and broke up with Claire, suddenly feelings were developing between the now married couple. Claire and Jeff have a son, Seth, and end up experiencing a miscarriage when they try for a second child. Jeff always seems to compare himself to his brother and has his doubts about Claire’s love. When Claire kisses Tim (her ex/Jeff’s brother) Jeff goes on a bit of a spiral – in secret, of course.

Tish is Jeff’s coworker. She works in HR and ends up helping him out during the firing that occurs just before he dies. The two of them went on a work trip together, and it’s always hinted that there might be something more between them. Once Jeff dies, Claire goes on the hunt to see if this relationship existed.

The big theme of this book seems to be surrounding the concept of not knowing a secret or a bad thing can keep you innocent. Claire would have been devastated to know her dead husband cheated on her. Was it better to keep it in the dark? Would she have liked it better to know he was faithful or that he cheated? This final question is left up to the reader after the final chapter. Along the way, I kept going back and forth on whether I believed anything happened. The book does give the reader a concrete answer on this.

My personal opinions:

1. I don’t like Tish. I’m not sure if Catherine meant for us to hate her, but I definitely did not like her. She goes to the funeral and makes Claire’s life miserable. That woman didn’t need to do this! Why in the world would you go out of your way to hurt a grieving widow?! She also seems rather clueless about her own daughter. There is a side of me that feels bad about her, but MAN I still dislike her. In the end, I believe she’s the type of woman who is incredibly selfish. She did and didn’t do something major plot points for her own well-being. No where does it say she did it for the well being of Claire, Seth, her husband, Jeff or her own daughter.

2. Jeff’s a dumb man. He’s also a jerk. Mainly because he’s self-conscious about his relationship, so he should have gotten some major therapy for that. If you’re so concerned that you’re wife used to date your brother, maybe don’t marry her? After his wife’s miscarriage he didn’t seem that supportive either, but that’s my own personal opinion on how it was written. Also, who walks with their eyes closed into a street?

3. In the end, Claire should have run off into the sunset with Tim. I think she would have been much happier with him, especially after reading all of Jeff’s short comings. Maybe that’s the inner romance reader in me…

I might seem to have many negatives about this book, BUT IT IS STILL SO GOOD. I was hooked on every word and needed to know how the book ended. It was compelling and intriguing. I cannot recommend it enough.

The book does seem to be a “you love it or you don’t” sort of novel with other reviewers, so reader beware! Either way, I enjoyed it! And that is what counts.

Final question: Did Claire ever join her sister in a joint law firm? I NEED TO KNOW. CATHERINE, HIT ME UP GIRL!

Five out of five stars.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Kobo

Did you enjoy this book (or review!)? Here’s some other books you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Fourth Courier by Timothy Jay Smith
#TopBooksList Briar’s Crime, Mystery & Thriller Reads
#BookReview The Age of the Child by Kristen J. Tsetsi

 

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#BookReview Bunnicula by James & Deborah Howe

Happy Spooky Month!
This is my favourite time of year, so it’s time to share some of my fave spooky reads! This particular book is a personal fave from my youth. Enjoy!

 

Back in the day, Bunnicula was THE book to read in elementary school. The class clambered to the front of the classroom to sit in our little circle and have story time. This book turned us all into little book loving zombies and we were desperate for more. Unfortunately, our school and teachers were only ever able to get the first book, but that didn’t deter us. We all had it memorized by the end of the day.

Fast forward to 2020. I see this book in a local used bookstore and I decide, “Hey, why not read it again and see if it holds up?” I can see this book for what it is – an absolute delightful middle grade novel that introduces fun horror to youthful eyes. As an adult, it didn’t hold up for me but I still have a special place in my heart for it. Who doesn’t love Bunnicula? Seriously.

Vampire Bunnies. It’s such a unique idea and I LOVE it. This book sits with Goosebumps on my happy, little, Halloween-loving shelf. This bunny goes and drains vegetables, because obviously it was owned by Dracula! It’s a fun concept and super silly! It’s definitely a book I would recommend for parents and educators. Get your little readers into a spooky, Halloween spirit with this little gem!

As an adult, it feels like a funny SNL skit. It’s not scary to us because we know it’s fiction but to little kids it’s a potential nightmare (in a good way, it’s not THAT scary). The anticipation as a child was not there as an adult, but I can still appreciate how wonderfully written this book is. It’s short and sweet but packed full of story!

Also, surprise ending! I forgot how this book ended so I was pleasantly surprised!

The only negative I had with this book was some of the adult references: classic books, taxes, etc. Kids might not understand these terms, but if they have a great adult reader helping them along, it might be a good educational opportunity, I guess.

Overall, this book is a childhood fave of mine that I would still highly recommend! It’s so nostalgic for me and I truly miss the whimsical nature of reading these books!

Four out of five stars.

 

You can find out more about this childhood classic on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Kobo

 

Looking for more middle grade books? Here’s some recently featured on my blog that you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Great Grain Elevator Incident by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Seizure by Kathy Reichs
#BookReview Loki’s Wolves by K.A. Armstrong and M.A. Marr

 

Check me out on:

Twitter: Briar’s Reviews – @ReviewAlholic #briarsreviews

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#BookReview The First Days of August by Alan Froning

I have a love/hate relationship with this book. For one, it’s seriously incredible and so well written that OMG why haven’t you read it yet? For the second, the ending made me SO DARN MAD. I did not enjoy that ending and I think it almost defeated the purpose of this book – but I’m not the writer, so I don’t really get a say in that.

Either way, this book is EPIC. It reminds me of Mission Impossible meets Medical Drama – action, adventure, mystery, intrigue, sexy R rated romance, thrills and lots of science! It’s a great mash-up of two big draws for books – mystery and medical.

The lead of this book is Steve August. This man takes a job at a famous laboratory to help develop a cure for brain cancer. Along the way, we meet his girlfriend Morgan, some shady co-workers and some giant secrets the lab doesn’t want anyone to know. Steve doesn’t go actively looking for them, he’s simply a tired scientist who accidentally stumbled across them. That ignites a wild chase where everyone is trying to stop everyone else.

There’s some side plots in this story that I actually really enjoyed. Morgan’s side stories made me quite happy – typically the girlfriends in stories like this are just used as the sex object and damsel in distress. This girl was NOT a damsel in distress and had some quality moments. That being said… there was a woman who was essentially a sex object but was the bad guy. I’m not sure where I sit with her, but I did think her story arc was interesting.

I found this book to be highly addicting. The first few chapters didn’t draw me in as much as I would have liked, but I stuck it through and found myself REALLY enjoying the book. It’s an adult mystery novel that felt intense and thrilling. I needed to know what would happen to Steve and Morgan (and everybody else, but I was mostly invested in those two). And, to be brutally honest, I’m not sure why more people haven’t read this book (or at least rated and reviewed it on Goodreads). It’s better than a lot of mystery books I have read! Alan Froning has some real talent!

In summary – this book is a wild ride that I’d highly recommend. I didn’t enjoy the ending per say, but it was still a well written book (and ending!). If you like thrillers, mystery, medical books and books with some epic plot twists, grab this book!

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Check out this book on:
Amazon.ca
Goodreads
Kobo
Indigo

 

If you enjoyed this book, check out another you might enjoy:
#BookReview Avalon Hall by Ruth Miranda
#BookReview A Woman of Valor by Gary Corbin
#BookReview Open Source by Anna L. Davis

 

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#BookReview Wrong Place by Michelle Davies

Michelle Davies has crafted one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read, honestly.

It’s rare for me to get so caught up in a thriller novel. Normally, I know what’s coming and just bumble along and read it for the fun. With this book, I had so many theories about what was going on and it was exciting! The twists and turns along the way had me recrafting my theories until I was almost spot on near the end. The entire story is written well that it all builds on each other, until you come to the finale and everything just clicks.

Maggie Neville is a Family Liaison Officer who is dealing with two crimes at the same time. An elderly woman has been attacked, and it appears to be the same duo hurting other elderly ladies who live alone. And then a husband and wife appear to have been in a scuffle, possibly from a domestic dispute. And then, she realizes they might not be so different from each other…

There’s so many parts to this story. Sadie, the elderly lady who was attacked, has only her granddaughter Della as a family member. That family has drama since Della’s Mother long since disappeared and never returned. Della believes her Mother attacked Sadie. Then there’s Eleanor, who was attacked by her husband in a domestic dispute. Add in that Maggie has her own dark secrets that could tear her family apart, and that her co-workers are trying to find the duo who were attacking old ladies… There’s a lot going on.

Despite all of these interconnecting plot lines, the story is packed tight perfectly. I never felt like the plots were too much! Michelle spends enough time on each plot line that when it switches over to another character, I’m not disappointed. I honestly was surprised with how great this book worked for me. I need the rest of this series STAT!

I’d highly recommend this book. I am totally impressed and even managed to go through it a second time to see what I missed. This perfectly crafted book needs an audience! It’d be a real shame for it not to grab it!

Side Note: You do not need to read the rest of this series to know what’s going on. You get filled in with enough information to know what’s happening.

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out my fave 2020 thriller at the links below:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

 

If you love mysteries and thrillers, here’s some other books featured on my blog you can add to your TBR:
#BookReview Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio
#BookReview The Extra Cadaver Murder by Roy Innes
#TopBooksList Briar’s Crime, Mystery & Thriller Reads

 

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Close to Home by Cara Hunter

Holy. Moly!

Close to Home by Cara Hunter is one wildly epic ride that mystery and thriller lovers will absolutely be OBSESSED with! I sure was!

Eight-year-old Daisy Mason suddenly vanishes during her parents party. When the investigation about her disappearance begins, things seem fishy. The family is strange, there’s no clear leads and something just isn’t right… There were tons of guests at this backyard barbecue – friends, family, school mates. Could one of them taken Daisy? The police force won’t stop until they locate this youngling.

For my first point, I did NOT see this ending coming. There was an inkling there, but I was never fully convinced of which way this story was going to go. Cara set this story up so wonderfully that there was never a dull moment and my inner Detective was constantly at work.

I also really appreciated how Cara slowly unwound the story behind this dysfunctional family. They aren’t what they appear to be, and slowly but surely we see what’s truly going on behind the scenes. Because of this, my theories about what happened were constantly being molded and changed, which was really fun! Throw in the fast-paced nature, the epic Tweets and News Reports and the character dynamics presented and you’ve got one amazing book.

My biggest negative about this book was that there was no chapters. This book was continuous which led to me being unsure of where to stop. There are breaks in the story, but I like having a full stop at a chapter. This doesn’t affect the story at all, it’s more of a personal pet peeve.

Another note: This book features child pornography, child kidnapping and abuse, and potential child murder. It’s not for the light-hearted. Reader beware!

I can honestly say I’m surprised this book doesn’t have more ratings, reviews and people talking about it. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time! This book needs to get in the hands of readers because Cara Hunter is marvelously talented! Cat and mouse tales like these are just splendid.

Overall, DI Adam Fawley should be among the top mystery books out there. I’m not kidding – it was one of the best I’ve read in a very long time, and I read a fair about of thriller, suspense and mystery books. I’d highly recommend this! 110% recommendation! I haven’t had this much fun in a mystery in a very long time.

Five out of five stars.

I received an ARC version of this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo

 

If you love mystery, thrills and suspense, check out some other books recently featured on my blog:
#BookReview Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio
#BookReview The Extra Cadaver Murder by Roy Innes
#TopBooksList Briar’s Crime, Mystery & Thriller Reads

 

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Fire on the Island by Timothy Jay Smith

Fire on the Island by Timothy Jay Smith is an addicting, fun and thrilling ride around a small Greek village.

In this thriller, an FBI agent finds his way to a Greek island where fires keep happening. He is investigating why they are happening and who could have caused him. Along the way, he comes across local islanders and business owners trying their best to succeed and living their lives. He meets himself a fancy man who he begins to fall for, and who might not be who he says he is. Many other islanders face the same fate: there’s a priest who isn’t so saintly, a family struggling to keep their business afloat, an Albanian waiter who has lots of drama going on, and his new lover’s sister is trying to get with every man no matter the relationships she ruins for them along the way.

This book is WILD. I was instantly stuck to it and truly intrigued about the ending. It took a bit for the entire story to piece itself together, but when it does it’s absolutely marvelous. I can easily say this is one of my top 2020 reads. I couldn’t put the book down!

There are some difficult topics in this book, like suicide and rape. Reader beware – this book doesn’t go too crazy into these topics, but they are still there. The mystery and romance is much more in the fore front.

On another note: This book is LGBT friendly! Huzzah!

Overall, this book was excellent! I’d highly recommend picking this book up if you love mystery and suspense with a dash of romance.

Five out of five stars.

Thank you to Timothy Jay Smith and NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Indigo
Kobo
B&N

You can find Timothy Jay Smith on:
Goodreads Author Page
http://www.timothyjaysmith.com/
Twitter – @timothyjaysmith|

Tim on Santorini

Here’s another Timothy Jay Smith book recently featured on my blog:
The Fourth Courier by Timothy Jay Smith – Briar’s Reviews

Check out more mystery and suspense novels to fill up your TBR:
#BookReview Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio
#BookReview The Extra Cadaver Murder by Roy Innes
#BookReview A Woman of Valor by Gary Corbin

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Hart & Soul #1: Kill The Story by Jahnna N. Malcolm

Oh man! I got so excited when I hit the jackpot and found a lot of books from my childhood at a local book sale. I found the first four books in this series and scooped them up instantly. I remember always wanting to read these from the library but I always maxed out the number of books I could have out. I never actually ended up reading this series even though my heart was set on them. So, fast forward many, many years and I finally get to experience the books that all of the ‘popular’ kids were reading.

This book was so pleasant and clearly written back in the eighties and nineties. AND I LOVED IT. It’s so nostalgic for me, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.

Amanda Hart is a writer (and the editor-in-chief for her school’s newspaper). She is going to release a series of stories about the sororities present in her city and someone is NOT happy. They are going after her with vicious notes and threats. When Amanda and her team call upon a courier service, along comes Mick Soul with his handy dandy bicycle. He gets attacked when trying to deliver a copy of their story, and suddenly Hart and Soul wind up working on the mystery together. Mick enrolls in her high school to help figure out who is threatening her… because what else is a bicycle courier supposed to do in his spare time? School? Pfft, no!

It’s a “will they, won’t they” sort of duo – like Bones and Booth, Ross and Rachel, Jane and Rafael, etc. Hart and Mick have so much chemistry for a middle grade (almost YA) novel that it’s unbelievable. Seriously, I just need to finish the series to know if they end up together because they are super flirty in this book!

There’s a good cast of characters filling up the typical high school tropes: Jason the nerd who wants his story in the paper, Pepper the best friend, Josh the tech geek, Whitney the mean girl, and so on.

My one big flaw is as followed: you can kind of figure out what’s going to happen by the end but it’s not really hinted at. I love when mystery books leave you little hints here and there, but there’s not much until the end. I had a pretty good inkling of what would happen based off reading way to many mystery books and watching too many mystery shows, but I wanted to work my way through this mystery with Hart and Soul. It doesn’t ruin the story by any means, but I’m a picky reader like that.

Side note, this is my FAVOURITE line in the whole book:
“What a slime!”

Seriously, that’s a Briar insult from my childhood. Score +1 for that gem!

Overall, this book is cute and fun! I love a good throw back and I’m so glad I found this book. I will 100% be continuing this series, especially since I have the next three books on my shelf. Hopefully I managed to score the rest of the series! This book is an absolute delight and I 100% recommend it either for middle grader/YA readers or some of you as old as me who want a childhood nostalgia trip.

Three out of five stars!

You can find this book on:
Amazon.ca
Barnes & Noble

If you love middle grade novels, check out some other fantastic books featured on my blog:
#BookReview Unlimited by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
#BookReview Monster Blood (Goosebumps) by R.L. Stine

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