CeeCee’s Book Bites: Now Entering Adamsville

image of Now Entering Adamsville
In this new age of social distancing, disinfecting and chronic hand washing, CeeCee and I are turning to our towering bookshelf (this thing is massive!) to escape from this grim reality!

Since we’re knocking out our TBR list at a breakneck pace, there’s little time left for reviewing. Therefore, we bring you the first in our new Book Bites series, in which CeeCee is taking a bite out of crime—crime fiction that is!

The gist: Zora, an angry, demon-slaying teen on the wrong side of the tracks, must save the town of Adamsville from fiendish pyromaniac beings that are claiming the lives of townsfolk and tourists—including a rather unlikable team of celebrity ghost hunters who are quite literally playing with fire!

What I liked: Ever since Jarred finally hooked up our TV to Netflix, I’ve become obsessed with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The Gothic setting in this book is right on par with the creepy visuals in Sabrina’s world. I just loved the descriptions of the many haunted homesteads, the creepy caves and the haunted woods surrounding Zora’s trailer park. I also enjoyed the witty quips and snarky banter among the teenage sidekicks.

I would be remiss to not point out something truly special about this author’s gift. She has a way of articulating some really heavy emotions that had me shouting, “Yes! This!” After the week I’ve had (I work in dog rescue), I can certainly relate to this musing:

Sometimes you have so many thoughts and feelings that your brain decides to ignore every single one of them. It hangs a Closed for Business sign and walks out. No more worrying whether you did right or wrong. No more flashes of the only home you ever had reduced to beach wreckage. No more fear. No more anger. No more tears. You can’t look inward anymore, so you look out and see what’s left, and you’re happy to take it, no matter what it is. And if you’re lucky, you find exactly what you need. 

What irked me: I enjoyed the story, but yet it took me a long time—a whole month—to finish this book. I think a big part of the problem is the main character. I really didn’t connect with Zora, and it was rather unpleasant being inside the head of a bitter, angsty, hot-tempered teenage girl. I get her reasons for being this way, but it would’ve been helpful if the author softened her up just a tad. Maybe this book would’ve been a faster read with multiple narrators.

Favorite character: Zora’s historian/ghost-hunting cousin Artemis stole the show. I would love her to narrate the next book, if this becomes a series. Considering how it left off, I’d be surprised if I didn’t see book two on the shelves sometime soon.

Overall: This is a quality YA paranormal thriller that is sure to please fans of Buffy and Sabrina. There’s even a few LGBTQ+ characters thrown into the mix (about time this becomes mainstream!) and no annoying love triangles—hallelujah!

Broken by A.E. Rought

13515848Oh how I love teen love stories filled with dark love, dead boyfriends and sadistic mean girls. And A.E. Rought delivers all this and more in her revamped version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

It all begins with our tortured protagonist, Emma, who spends her days roaming the local cemetery where she and her dead boyfriend, Daniel, spent their happiest moments drinking whiskey atop gravestones. Huh…is it just me, or doesn’t that seem like a rather bizarre pastime?  Kids these days…

So Emma breaks out of her funk when the mysterious new boy, Alex Franks, enters the scene at the local coffee stand, Mugz and Chugz. Wow of all the names you could give a coffee place…really? Emma soon finds herself enraptured by his otherworldly connection to Daniel.

Keeping with the formula of most YA dark romances, Emma and Alex are bewildered by their instant connection, and after a lot of push and pull they eventually fall headfirst into the deep abyss of teenage love. Sorry if that was a spoiler, but I’m sure anyone who reads the synopsis will know where this is heading.

After encountering the enigmatic new boy in town, Emma’s obsession with the dead boyfriend ebbs away. For this I am very thankful because a lot of teen brooding goes a loooong way. Although she’s out of her funk, she still insists on clinging onto Daniel’s damned hoodie to the point of obsession. My god, the word “hoodie” must have appeared in the book at least 500 times! I was really tired of that effing hoodie. And wouldn’t you know it, Alex wears a hoodie all day, every day too. I’m willing to bet this author is a fan of The Gap.

So as Emma and Daniel grow closer, she finds that he possesses qualities that are intrinsic to the dead boyfriend. He knows her secret pet name. He has the amazing ability to open her temperamental locker with just a wiggle and a punch. It’s all very uncanny. Things get even weirder when she finds Alex’s father is the town’s resident Dr. Giggles. What is going on with Alex’s otherworldly connection to dead animals? What caused all of those ghastly scars that he’s hiding under that darn hoodie? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

To be fair, this book is made for teens, so I’m not going to get down on all the melodrama. Teens are hypersensitive drama junkies, so I’m sure they can totally relate to all the brooding and over-the-top descriptions of high school hell. I was, in fact, thoroughly entertained by the mean girl antics in the “Ugly Room.” Anyone who wasn’t a part of the “in crowd” knows that high school gym was created solely to torment young girls with body and self-esteem issues.

Overall, this is an entertaining book for teens, not so much YA-loving adults. Although the pacing was rather slow, I have to give A.E. Rought props for her lyrical prose. She does a fantastic job setting the scene – complete with moonlit cemeteries, undead night-walking creatures and leering jack-o’-lanterns. I’m not sure if I’ll read another book in this series, but I certainly will look out for other titles by this author because she truly is a gifted writer.  

Short & Sweet Sundays

These past few months have gone by in a blur – and I’ve been reading more books than I have time to review! But don’t fret, my wonderful bookish friends, I have plenty of reviews coming your way. And today, I bring you a veritable cornucopia of short and sweet book reviews! Here’s a few hits and misses from my fall reading list.


Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen (Audiobook)

This was a quality audiobook. Great narrator, fast-moving plot, interesting characters, swoony teen paranormal romance – pretty much the perfect escape from reality! I’m hoping there’s going to be a romantic triangle brewing in the next book because Craven and Samantha would be dynamite together! The author did a fine job tying up the story at the end, while leaving her readers with lots of questions. All in all, this is an entertaining read for paranormal romance enthusiasts.

Dead of Night by Charlaine Harris and Amanda Stevens

Confession: I bought this book at an airport because of the spooktacular cover! As expected, Charlaine Harris delivers a quality novella titled Dancers in the Dark.  It’s a deliciously romantic mashup of  Dirty Dancing and True Blood. The author did a bang-up job slowly unraveling the characters’ mysterious backstories while bringing their simmering romance into a rolling boil.  I read this thing from start to finish in one sitting. Five stars all around! As for the next story, The Devil’s Footprints, I’m only halfway through it. So far, it’s pretty darn creepy. Stay tuned for the review!

Haunting Violet by Alxyandra Harvey

This may very well be my most favorite YA paranormal novel.  Set amidst England’s lush and foggy countryside, this is the perfect atmospheric gothic romance for a blustery winter’s night. The mystery behind the drowned ghost girl kept me glued to the pages as Violet searched for clues in a stately English manor. Complete with masquerade balls, danger and romance, this book is everything I could ever ask for in a paranormal mystery. If you love Barbara Michaels (how could you not?), I highly recommend this one!


Mid Summer Night’s Scream by R.L. Stine

Oh R.L. Stine! I love you. I really do! This book just didn’t do it for me. I love the concept of young actors getting terrorized on a cursed movie set. And I certainly wasn’t expecting a whole lot, except for maybe some campy 80s horror movie fun. Yet it’s never a good sign when you’re rooting for the masked killer to knock off the utterly despicable characters. I absolutely loathed all of the kids in this book, mainly because they’re a bunch of rich, fame-obsessed brats in the Hollywood Hills. I get that R.L. needs to keep up with the times and market his books to the “Me Generation,” but at what cost? I can see how this book might be of interest to fans of the Kardashians and those Jersey Shore lushes, but do those people actually read? I don’t know, guys, after this sad attempt of a paranormal thriller, I might have to write R.L. off.  Life is too short for lame-ass books.

Phantom Evil by Heather Graham (Audiobook)

I’ve always been very “meh” about Heather Graham’s formulaic thrillers, but sometimes she delivers some quality stuff. Plus, this audiobook was on clearance for five bucks, so I decided to go for it. Unfortunately, I got what I paid for. Lured by the haunted New Orleans setting, I really wanted to like this book, but sadly it was stilted by flat characters and a very tedious plot. It all seemed very rushed, and the author failed to make the most out of an incredibly spooky location. When you’re setting a horror story in New Orleans, you owe it to your readers to take a page from Anne Rice’s playbook and delve into the evocative, mystical Louisiana setting. I hardly ever quit a book, but I had to stick a fork in this one long before the Scooby Doo cast of characters solved the mystery.