Review: Harvey Takes the Lead (Harvey #3)

Title: Harvey Takes the Lead (Harvey #3)
Author: Colleen Nelson, Tara Anderson (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

The award-winning Harvey Stories are back with a new story of acceptance, understanding, and the loving comfort of everyone’s favourite Westie.

There’s nothing quite like the loving companionship of a loyal dog. When Harvey’s status as Brayside’s comfort dog comes into question, the elderly residents are quick to stand up for him.

Mr. Kowalski, a longstanding Brayside resident, is struggling with his wife’s recent hospitalization. As Harvey watches over him, Mr. Kowalski shares stories of his youth during World War II—tales which fascinates Harvey’s friend Austin. At the same time, the newly appointed Assistant Director Hilary Appleby, the person who wants to get rid of Harvey, also creates unreasonable rules which make the residents of Brayside miserable.

The new school season for Austin and Harvey’s owner Maggie proves to be harder than expected. Maggie’s audition for the school play of Annie doesn’t go as planned, with the role she wanted going to Ndidi, who rarely comes out to rehearsals. Austin, for his part, is battling shame around not being able to afford a school trip.

Award-winning author Colleen Nelson and illustrator Tara Anderson team up once again to deliver another engaging story where Harvey’s exceptional nose leads Maggie and Austin to find resolution to the many challenges they face.

Themes of acceptance, understanding, and intergenerational friendships are the strengths of this middle-grade novel.


When Brayside retirement home gets a new assistant director, she decides to make new rules. These include, Harvey, the Westie, needing special permission to visit and having restrictions while there. Mr. Kowalski’s wife ends up hospitalized, so Harvey would be a great comfort to him. Maggie and Austin sneak Harvey in when they can, but they also have a lot of other issues to deal with. Maggie has auditioned to play Annie in her school play, but she’s given the understudy role and is disappointed. Austin wants to go on a special class trip, but he knows his mom can’t afford the expense. Maggie and Austin have to try to save the welcoming place they know Brayside can be, while also solving their problems along the way. 

These Harvey books are so adorable. They get better with each book. Though they’re fairly short, there is a lot of information packed inside them. There is also incredible character development, so it feels like I’m reading about real people. 

The issues at the retirement home were an important part of this story. The new assistant director thought she was doing the right thing by restricting Harvey’s visits and banning activities for the residents. However, these were things that they looked forward to, so it actually hurt their quality of life. I saw first hand at my grandmother’s nursing home how music and dogs can brighten up the residents. There were even non-verbal residents who would speak when they saw dogs or heard certain songs. I’m glad this was part of a children’s book, so they can learn about life in a retirement home. 

Harvey Takes the Lead is another wonderful Harvey story!

Thank you Pajama Press for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Undercover Book List by Colleen Nelson

The Unique Lou Fox by Jodi Carmichael

Other books in the series:

Have you read Harvey Takes the Lead? What did you think of it?

Review: Read Between the Lines (Ms. Right #1)

Title: Read Between the Lines
Author: Rachel Lacey
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQ
Publisher: Montlake
Source: Thomas Allen and Son
Format: Paperback
Release Date: December 1, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

From award-winning author Rachel Lacey comes a playful romance about a Manhattan bookstore owner and a reclusive author who love to hate—and hate to love—each other.

Books are Rosie Taft’s life. And ever since she took over her mother’s beloved Manhattan bookstore, they’ve become her home too. The only thing missing is her own real-life romance like the ones she loves to read about, and Rosie has an idea of who she might like to sweep her off her feet. She’s struck up a flirty online friendship with lesbian romance author Brie, and what could be more romantic than falling in love with her favorite author?

Jane Breslin works hard to keep her professional and personal lives neatly separated. By day, she works for the family property development business. By night, she puts her steamier side on paper under her pen name: Brie. Jane hasn’t had much luck with her own love life, but her online connection with a loyal reader makes Jane wonder if she could be the one.

When Rosie learns that her bookstore’s lease has been terminated by Jane’s company, romance moves to the back burner. Even though they’re at odds, there’s no denying the sparks that fly every time they’re together. When their online identities are revealed, will Jane be able to write her way to a happy ending, or is Rosie’s heart a closed book?


Rosie Taft runs the Between the Pages bookstore in the Upper East Side. She loves romance novels, and she’s started an online friendship with her favourite author Brie. However, Brie is a pen name, so Rosie doesn’t know who she is. One day, Rosie gets a letter that she’s being evicted from the store because the building will be torn down. Jane Breslin works for the company who owns the building, and she’s the one who sent the letter to Rosie. But Jane’s secret is that she’s a romance author who uses the pen name Brie. When Jane and Rosie meet, Rosie only sees her as the woman who’s tearing away her store. Their secret online relationship is undeniable, so they have to decide if they can put aside their differences to have their happy ending.

Enemies to lovers is quickly becoming one of my favourite romance tropes. The tension in their “enemy” relationship didn’t last long in the story though, so most of it was a cute romance. It was so adorable to see how their relationship started with a love of books online and then moved to the real world.

I liked the progression of their relationship in this story. There was a lot of tension, with Jane’s secret identity as an author and the fact that Jane’s company had destroyed Rosie’s store, so it was bound to explode at some point. I was really happy with the way it ended though.

Read Between the Lines is an adorable queer romance! I can’t wait to read the next book!

Thank you Thomas Allen and Son for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

No Rings Attached by Rachel Lacey

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Other books in the series:

  • No Rings Attached

Have you read Read Between the Lines? What did you think of it?

Review: Kiss and Tell

Title: Kiss and Tell
Author: Adib Khorram
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Dial Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 22, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Kiss & Tell is a total rush! Perfectly sweet and swoon worthy. I loved every page! – Julie Murphy, New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’

A smart, sexy YA novel about a boy band star, his first breakup, his first rebound, and what it means to be queer in the public eye, from award-winning author Adib Khorram

Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend–leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all–and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens.

But Hunter isn’t really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T’s shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the drummer for the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble–for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.


Hunter is the only gay member of the Canadian boy band, Kiss and Tell. After they start their first North American tour, Hunter’s ex-boyfriend leaks texts and details about their relationship, fueling gossip about Hunter. People start to question if he is a good role model for young kids after this leak. Hunter starts dating Kaivan, the drummer for their opening act, and when their label finds out, they plan out the dates for them. The label also changes Hunter’s style to reflect a more family-friendly image. Hunter has to figure out how to deal with the vicious gossip and his new image before he has a complete breakdown. 

This story was a fun look behind the scenes of a boy band. The boys had to deal with the usual problems of growing up, like new relationships, while also living in the public eye. There were news articles and interviews between chapters so we could see exactly what the press was saying about Hunter and the rest of the boy band. 

Most of the characters had to deal with racism, homophobia, and sometimes both. The press and the public were horrible to the boys a lot of the time. It was interesting to see that everyone was okay with Hunter being gay, until the details of his sex life were leaked to the public. Once he was sexualized, he was no longer an “acceptable” gay, yet straight people don’t face the same kind of criticism. Many of these scenes were uncomfortable to read, but embarrassing moments and having them made public, especially in the days of social media, are part of growing up. 

Kiss and Tell is a great, queer story!

Thank you Dial Books for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Have you read Kiss and Tell? What did you think of it?

Review: Burn Down, Rise Up

Title: Burn Down, Rise Up
Author: Vincent Tirado
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Raincoast Books
Format: Paperback ARC
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Stranger Things meets Get Out in this Sapphic Horror debut from nonbinary, Afro-Latine author Vincent Tirado.

Mysterious disappearances.

An urban legend rumored to be responsible.

And one group of teens determined to save their city at any cost.

For over a year, the Bronx has been plagued by sudden disappearances that no one can explain. Sixteen-year-old Raquel does her best to ignore it. After all, the police only look for the white kids. But when her crush Charlize’s cousin goes missing, Raquel starts to pay attention—especially when her own mom comes down with a mysterious illness that seems linked to the disappearances.

Raquel and Charlize team up to investigate, but they soon discover that everything is tied to a terrifying urban legend called the Echo Game. The game is rumored to trap people in a sinister world underneath the city, and the rules are based on a particularly dark chapter in New York’s past. And if the friends want to save their home and everyone they love, they will have to play the game and destroy the evil at its heart—or die trying.


Fifteen-year-old Racquel has been ignoring the recent disappearances in her home of the Bronx for the last year. When Cisco, the cousin of her crush Charlize, goes missing and her mom comes down with a mysterious illness that’s linked to the disappearance, Racquel has to figure out what’s going on. Racquel and Charlize team up to play the Echo Game, which Cisco was playing when he went missing. She starts having visions of a burning version of the Bronx, which is hidden in the underground game. The game starts to blend into their reality, so they have to finish the game and make it out alive before it kills them. 

This story was so intense and hard to put down. The Echo Game was a terrifying ride through the subway, and the rules had to be followed precisely so that they wouldn’t get trapped there. The underground version of the Bronx was burning and full of the walking dead, so that added to the tension. 

The history of the Bronx was an important part of this story. I’ve never been there and I didn’t know the horrific history. The buildings were turned into slums and many were burned down in fires in the 1970s. There was even a bridge built that was too low to allow buses through so people couldn’t travel under the bridge. These were systemic problems that are still affecting them today. I appreciated that this history was woven into the narrative. 

Burn Down, Rise Up is an intense page-turner!

Thank you Raincoast Books and Sourcebooks Fire for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Have you read Burn Down, Rise Up? What did you think of it?

Review: Meet Me in the Margins

Title: Meet Me in the Margins
Author: Melissa Ferguson
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Purchased
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 15, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Savannah Cade is a low-level editor at Pennington Publishing, a prestigious publisher producing only the highest of highbrow titles. And while editing the latest edition of The Anthology of Medieval Didactic Poetry may be her day job, she has two secrets she’s hiding.

One: She’s writing a romance novel.

Two: She’s discovered the Book Nook—a secret room in the publishing house where she finds inspiration for her “lowbrow” hobby.

After leaving her manuscript behind one afternoon, she returns to the nook only to discover someone has written notes in the margins. Savannah’s first response to the criticism is defensive, but events transpire that force her to admit that she needs the help of this shadowy editor after all. As the notes take a turn for the romantic, and as Savannah’s madcap life gets more complicated than ever, she uses the process of elimination to identify her mysterious editor—only to discover that what she truly wants and what she should want just might not be the same. Melissa Ferguson’s latest—a love letter to books, readers, and romance—will leave fans laughing out loud and swooning in the same breath.


Savannah Cade is an acquisitions editor at the high-brow Pennington Press which publishes literary fiction and nonfiction. She has two secrets. The first is that she’s writing a romance novel under the pen name Holly Ray. The second is that she’s found a hidden room in the attic of her office. When she sends her manuscript to an editor, she’s given 44 days to improve it before that editor retires. Savannah leaves the manuscript in her secret room one day, and comes back to find that someone has made editorial notes. At first she’s offended at the criticism, but when she realizes these notes the ones from the editor, she decides to take the advice. As Savannah improves this manuscript, she tries to figure out the identity of her mystery editor. 

This was such a fun story. I loved the writing aspects of it. Savannah struggled with her manuscript in many of the same ways I have in the past. It’s hard to take criticism, but with the right editor, it can really make a difference. 

This was a slow romance. There wasn’t really any romance until the end. However, it was fun to see Savannah and her mystery editor slowly get closer throughout the anonymous editing process. 

Meet Me in the Margins is a fun bookish romance!

What to read next:

The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

Have you read Meet Me in the Margins? What did you think of it?

Review: Darling Girl

Title: Darling Girl
Author: Liz Michalski
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy
Publisher: Dutton
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

In this beautiful, grounded, and darkly magical modern-day reimagining of J. M. Barrie’s classic, to save her daughter’s life one woman must take on the infamous Peter Pan–who is not the innocent adventurer the fairy tales make him out to be . . .

Life is looking up for Holly Darling, granddaughter of Wendy–yes, that Wendy. She’s running a successful skincare company; her son, Jack, is happy and healthy; and the tragedy of her past is well behind her . . . until she gets a call that her daughter, Eden, who has been in a coma for nearly a decade, has gone missing from the estate where she’s been long tucked away. And, worst of all, Holly knows who must be responsible: Peter Pan, who is not only very real, but more dangerous than anyone could imagine.

Eden’s disappearance is a disaster for more reasons than one. She has a rare condition that causes her to age rapidly–ironic, considering her father is the boy who will never grow up–which also makes her blood incredibly valuable. It’s a secret that Holly is desperate to protect, especially from Eden’s half-brother, Jack, who knows nothing about his sister or the crucial role she plays in his life. Holly has no one to turn to–her mother is the only other person in the world who knows that Peter is more than a story, but she refuses to accept that he is not the hero she’s always imagined. Desperate, Holly enlists the help of Christopher Cooke, a notorious ex-soldier, in the hopes of rescuing Eden before it’s too late . . . or she may lose both her children.

Darling Girl brings all the magic of the classic Peter Pan story to the present, while also exploring the dark underpinnings of fairy tales, grief, aging, sacrifice, motherhood, and just how far we will go to protect those we love.


Holly Darling is the granddaughter of Wendy Darling, who travelled with Peter Pan a hundred years ago. The story made the Darling family famous, but only they know that it was a true story. Holly has experienced many tragedies, including losing her husband and son in a car accident. Her remaining son is happy and healthy, but that’s come at a cost. One day, Holly gets a call that her daughter has gone missing from her home in Cornwall. Her daughter, Eden, has been in a coma for ten years, and has a rare condition that causes her to age quickly so she looks much older than her thirteen years. The problem is that Eden is a secret. Holly hasn’t told her friends or even her son that Eden exists. Holly returns to her childhood home, enlisting an ex-soldier, Christopher Cooke, to find her daughter before Peter Pan returns to their lives. 

I tried to read the original Peter Pan story a year ago but I couldn’t get into it. I watched the movies when I was a kid so I know the story. I really enjoyed this book. It would be helpful for readers to have some familiarity with the story, because many of the characters were referenced, but it was a very different kind of story. 

This story took a dark turn that I wasn’t expecting. It was unusual that Holly kept her ill daughter a secret from everyone who was close to her, so that was a hint that this wouldn’t have the same fairytale feeling as Peter Pan. Some of the dark scenes included drug abuse, drug overdose, kidnapping, and rape. These intense scenes took away the innocence of the original story and made it more mature. 

Dating Girl is a dark twist on Peter Pan.

Thank you Wunderkind PR and Dutton for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Have you read Darling Girl? What did you think of it?

Review: Belle Morte

Title: Belle Morte
Author: Bella Higgin
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Parnormal, Contemporary
Publisher: Wattpad Books
Source: Raincoast Books
Format: Paperback ARC
Release Date: April 5, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

There’s only one way out.

Belle Morte. One of five houses where vampires reside as celebrities and humans are paid to be their living donors. While others came here seeking fortune, I came in search of my sister who walked into Belle Morte five months ago . . . and never walked back out.

Now that I’m here, the secrets about this world have proven to be much bigger than I ever anticipated. And lurking around every corner are shocking insinuations of what happened to my sister.

There’s only one person who might have the answers I need, and the undeniable pull I feel toward him is terrifying: Edmond Dantès―a vampire, and my mortal enemy.

The harder I try to resist him, the further I fall under his spell. And in one instant my life is irrevocably changed. My past becomes prologue and my fate becomes sealed behind these doors.

Belle Morte has spoken. And it may never let me go.


Belle Morte is one of the five vampire houses in the UK, where humans can work to be living blood donors to the vampires. Renie’s older sister June was obsessed with vampires, and she was chosen to live there. However, a few months later, June stopped sending letters to Renie and no one could tell her what happened. Renie decides to apply to live in Belle Morte to finally learn what happened to her, but when she arrives at the house, no one will answer her questions. Renie has to do her own investigation into what happened to her sister, but what she discovers is life changing. 

This was a refreshing vampire story. I loved that it focused on the “donor,” who had the job of giving their blood to vampires. Vampire are often characterized as predators but these ones paid people who wanted the chance to feed vampires. There were strict rules that they had to follow in the house to maintain a distance between the donors and the vampires, but they didn’t always follow these rules in this story. 

The vampire culture in this story reminded me of reality stars and influencers who are famous because of their famous parents or for no apparent reason. The vampires were rich and famous, just because they were vampires. A lot of the donors didn’t know what they were actually getting into by moving into the house, including June. This was an interesting way for the vampires to fit into modern society. 

Belle Morte is a fun and thrilling vampire story!

Thank you Raincoast Books and Wattpad Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Vampires Never Get Old edited by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker

Have you read Belle Morte? What did you think of it?

Review: Squad

Title: Squad
Author: Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Contemporary, Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Pretty Little Liars meets Teen Wolf in this fast-paced, sharply funny, and patriarchy-smashing graphic novel from author Maggie Tokuda-Hall and artist Lisa Sterle. When the new girl is invited to join her high school’s most popular clique, she can’t believe her luck—and she can’t believe their secret, either: they’re werewolves. Fans of Mariko Tamaki and Elana K. Arnold will devour the snappy dialogue, vivid artwork, and timely social commentary.

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.

Lisa Sterle’s stylish illustrations paired with Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s sharp writing make Squad a fun, haunting, and fast-paced thriller that will resonate with fans of Riverdale, and with readers of This Savage Song, Lumberjanes, and Paper Girls.


When Becca and her mom move to an elite suburb in San Francisco, she’s surprised to be welcomed into the popular clique at school. Arianna, Marley, and Mandy are idolized at school and go to all the parties. However, one night Becca learns their secret: they’re werewolves. Every month the wolves target a guy from another school who takes advantage of girls. Then the werewolves take turns feeding off of him. Becca joins in their hunting, until things take a dark turn. Arianna’s boyfriend is murdered, which makes the police investigate a number of similar murders of young men in the area. This puts pressure on the pack, and they have to figure out how to hide their true lifestyle. 

This graphic novel immediately reminded me of Mean Girls. Arianna, Marley, and Mandy were a lot like the Plastics. Becca was an unsuspecting new girl, who they took under their wing, just like Kady in Mean Girls. That’s one of my favourite movies, so these similarities were so fun. 

I loved the social justice part of this story. The werewolf pack wanted to get justice for the girls who had been harmed by these horrible guys, so they chose them as their targets. Some of the names of these guys were similar to real life male predators, which was an insightful reference. Eventually, though, these attacks went too far and the trail appeared to lead back to the wolf pack.

Squad is a fun, feminist graphic novel!

What to read next:

Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan

Have you read Squad? What did you think of it?

Review: Spells Trouble (Sisters of Salem #1)

Title: Spells Trouble (Sisters of Salem #1)
Author: P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Contemporary
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Double double, twins spell trouble…

Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin witches, direct descendants of the founder of their town of Goodeville. As their ancestors have done before them, it is now time for the twins to learn what it means to be Gatekeepers–the protectors of the Gates to different underworlds, ancient portals between their world and realms where mythology rules and nightmares come to life.

When their mother becomes the first victim in a string of murders, the devastated sisters vow to avenge her death. But it will take more than magic to rein in the ancient mythological monsters who’ve infected their peaceful town.

Now Hunter and Mercy must come together and accept their destiny or risk being separated for good.


Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin teenage witches in their town of Goodeville, which was founded by their ancestor. The girls are gatekeepers to the portals of the underworlds of ancient and mythological lands. However, when their mother’s death begins a string of murders in their town, the sister witches must do something to stop the demon who is threatening their town. Mercy and Hunter must accept their legacy as protectors of Goodeville or risk ruining it forever. 

I went into this book blind and I was completely surprised by what it was about. I didn’t expect the mythological aspects. There were creatures and gods from Greek, Norse, and Egyptian mythology mentioned. It was an unusual blend of the modern world with these ancient stories. 

There was an awkward subplot about Mercy’s terrible boyfriend. It involved a “slut-shaming” incident which didn’t really add to the story. That part felt out of place and could have been replaced with something that wasn’t so controversial since it didn’t move the plot forward. 

My favourite part of this story was Xena, the Goode family’s cat. She surprised them by transforming into a person after their mother died. Even though she became a human, she still had cat behaviours and called everyone “kitten.” She was adorable and funny. 

Spells Trouble is an original modern witch story. 

Thank you Wednesday Books for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Omens Bite by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Other books in the series:

  • Omens Bite

Have you read Spells Trouble? What did you think of it?

Review: Very Bad People

Title: Very Bad People
Author: Kit Frick
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: April 5, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

In this dark academia young adult thriller for fans of The Female of the Species and People Like Us, a teen girl’s search for answers about her mother’s mysterious death leads to a powerful secret society at her new boarding school—and a dangerous game of revenge that will leave her forever changed.

Six years ago, Calliope Bolan’s mother drove the family van into a lake with her three daughters inside. The girls escaped, but their mother drowned, and the truth behind the “accident” remains a mystery Calliope is determined to solve. Now sixteen, she transfers to Tipton Academy, the same elite boarding school her mother once attended. Tipton promises a peek into the past and a host of new opportunities—including a coveted invitation to join Haunt and Rail, an exclusive secret society that looms over campus like a legend.

Calliope accepts, stepping into the exhilarating world of the “ghosts,” a society of revolutionaries fighting for social justice. But when Haunt and Rail commits to exposing a dangerous person on campus, it becomes clear that some ghosts define justice differently than others.

As the society’s tactics escalate, Calliope uncovers a possible link between Haunt and Rail and her mother’s deadly crash. Now, she must question what lengths the society might go to in order to see a victory—and if the secret behind her mother’s death could be buried here at Tipton.


Six years ago, Calliope Bolan’s mother drove their van into a lake. Only Calliope and her two younger sisters survived. Now, Calliope is still looking for answers for what made her mother drive off the road. She transfers to the elite boarding school Tipton Academy, which her mother attended. Calliope is invited to join the secret society, Haunt and Rail, which stages pranks across campus in order to achieve social justice. She discovers a possible link between the society and what happened to her mother, involving a mysterious man she sees in town who reminds her of the crash. As the society takes on a huge social justice issue, Calliope discovers the secret behind her mother’s death. 

This was such a suspenseful thriller. I couldn’t put it down. There were so many layers to the story, including the car crash where Calliope’s mother died, the Haunt and Rail society, and the new relationships Calliope made at school. All of these plots came together at the end. 

The only thing that I didn’t like was that the story ended on a cliffhanger. I realized when I had about ten pages left that there wasn’t enough space to resolve all the questions I had. I’m really hoping there will be a sequel because I need to know what happens next!

Very Bad People is a suspenseful, boarding school thriller!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Have you read Very Bad People? What did you think of it?