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Ghost Squad

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Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business. Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd's witch grandm Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business. Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd's witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely's firefly spirits before it's too late. With the family dynamics of Coco and action-packed adventure of Ghostbusters, Claribel A. Ortega delivers both a thrillingly spooky and delightfully sweet debut novel.


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Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business. Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd's witch grandm Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business. Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd's witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely's firefly spirits before it's too late. With the family dynamics of Coco and action-packed adventure of Ghostbusters, Claribel A. Ortega delivers both a thrillingly spooky and delightfully sweet debut novel.

30 review for Ghost Squad

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lala BooksandLala

    Obsessed

  2. 5 out of 5

    Claribel Ortega

    If you're wondering what kind of energy GHOST SQUAD has, look no further than this gif from COCO. Not only are there ghost chanclas (yes, ghost!) but there are: * Fat cats named after The Goonies * A witch grandma in a leather jacket * Brown & Black girls on bikes having adventures. * Dominican folklore * Vintage video games * Scary ghosts that can take the form of different creatures (like dragons) * One very fat cat named Chunk My cover is also live now, and all the thanks goes to the amazing a If you're wondering what kind of energy GHOST SQUAD has, look no further than this gif from COCO. Not only are there ghost chanclas (yes, ghost!) but there are: * Fat cats named after The Goonies * A witch grandma in a leather jacket * Brown & Black girls on bikes having adventures. * Dominican folklore * Vintage video games * Scary ghosts that can take the form of different creatures (like dragons) * One very fat cat named Chunk My cover is also live now, and all the thanks goes to the amazing artist Lorena Alvarez Gómez who you can find here You can check out my cover reveal on twitter here I'm SO excited about this book and can't wait for you all to read it and maybe cry!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mari

    I've had this book on my radar since I found Claribel on Twitter through mutuals. We invited her to speak at BookNet Fest 2018, and it was a pleasure to meet her and get all of her wonderful thoughts and experiences on our panels. As an additional note, I read this at some time during isolation, but what is time... The read date is a place holder for "at some point between after it came out and June." Why you may not like this book: You don't like middle grade. That might seem obvious, but I thi I've had this book on my radar since I found Claribel on Twitter through mutuals. We invited her to speak at BookNet Fest 2018, and it was a pleasure to meet her and get all of her wonderful thoughts and experiences on our panels. As an additional note, I read this at some time during isolation, but what is time... The read date is a place holder for "at some point between after it came out and June." Why you may not like this book: You don't like middle grade. That might seem obvious, but I think it's worth keeping in mind the sort of humor and pacing you'll find here because it is middle grade! If that is not your jam, keep it moving. Why I loved this book: The premise of this book was always going to be for me. A book about grief and found families set in Florida with a little Dominican girl as the main character? HELLO? SIGN ME UP. I'm so happy to say that Ortega delivers on all fronts. This was a heartwarming, fast-paced adventure that just oozes classic adventure vibes. There was something almost nostalgic about this in a way that invoked Stranger Things and The Goonies in my head. I was invested in the mystery and the stakes, and I enjoyed all of the beats of the story. I think what really elevated this for me was how carefully and tenderly it dealt with grief. It was such an interesting duality here-- the fact that Lucely can see ghosts so that she never really loses anyone in her family, but her mother left her and it's a grief that fills her life. I also love the role of the ghosts here. It's spooky and fun, but also an excellent way to infuse Dominican culture, not only with the lore, but with the ghosts as a personification of what that culture looks like and the stories and histories we carry in our bones and in our homes. Another wonderful thing this book did was include its adults, but allow our characters to still have their adventures. The adults were loving and tuned in, they believed our characters and helped, but Lucely and Syd still managed to sneak out a few doors and windows. I read this in one sitting and enjoyed my time here. I've not been reading a lot during isolation, and I'm not typically someone who can read for escapism, but this was incredibly easy to get lost in. Highly recommend for fans of middle grade adventures or if you have young readers in your life.

  4. 5 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    This is SUPER cute but I'm weirdly not in the mood for MG right now? So I'm saving this for a time when I can appreciate it as much as it deserves

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cande

    Lucely and her best friend, Syd, set in an adventure to save Lucely’s firefly spirits. Accidentally they may or may not wake up evil spirits instead. So now they have to combine forces with Syd’s powerful grandmother, Babette, and her fat cat, Chunk, to save their town and families. This is such a funny and heartwarming story, a perfect mix of discussing painful feelings and having a great time with your friend. It deals with grief and loss, ghosts of course and powerful magic. And yes, this is Lucely and her best friend, Syd, set in an adventure to save Lucely’s firefly spirits. Accidentally they may or may not wake up evil spirits instead. So now they have to combine forces with Syd’s powerful grandmother, Babette, and her fat cat, Chunk, to save their town and families. This is such a funny and heartwarming story, a perfect mix of discussing painful feelings and having a great time with your friend. It deals with grief and loss, ghosts of course and powerful magic. And yes, this is a spooky book. To be honest, this book made me jump a couple of times. Claribel’s writing is so atmospheric, they perfectly capture the scene and feelings, I was so scared for my children. My heart was racing and I was holding the book tight and daring it to hurt me. It did hurt me. So rude. I haven’t felt like that with a book in a long time and it was wonderful. It also made me realize that spooky middle grade is the spooky that I love. Lucely still feels heartbroken with losing her mother and her pain goes beyond the pages, it feels almost physical. Even when it’s not the center of the story, it’s a huge part of Lucely’s life. It’s done such a respectful and honest way, how Lucely can’t stop thinking that if she’s good if she does this thing right, her mother will back. Her longing and loss, it touched my heart. Oh the characters, the characters are wonderful. I love how middle-grade can let its characters made silly jokes one page and the next pour out all the feelings and make you cry. Well, it’s also because Lucely and Syd are so honest about their love for each other and vulnerable about their feelings. I love their fierce, loyal friendship and how brave they try to be for the other. That, right there, it’s a ride or die type of friendship that’s so incredibly wonderful to see with two Black girls. Babette is the queen of the grandmothers, hands down. She gave me so much abuelita vibes, you know, the love but also the nonsense tone. Anger that it’s legendary but if it comes down to protect her grandchildren, she’ll do everything and beyond to do so. Oh yes, she reminds me so much of my abuela and I love it. Now, Chunk, Chunk deserves all the hugs and belly rubs and all the snacks. Best cat ever. Love you, Chuck. Relationships are a huge part of the book and it’s so well done. Be Lucely and Syd’s friendship, or Lucely’s dad, or the firefly spirits, they are so important for our main character and they gave her so much strength. These are all different relationships, of course, but there is history, love, loyalty and respect there. I do love books where relationships, especially friendship and familial, are key to our characters. I find comfort and all the fuzzy feelings, I don’t know. And maybe everything goes back to how Latinx this book, especially Dominican. From the firefly spirits to all the Dominican food, to the ghost chanclas jokes to the important family ties, this is a book about Dominican girl for a Dominican (and Latinx) audience, and I love how unapologetic it is. Oh, it’s so wonderful to see content that I very much understand and I have experienced in middle-grade books. You know, feeling seen and represented always it’s a wonderful experience. As a note, I’m Latinx but not Dominican, please don’t consider this review #ownvoices.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mir

    I had never heard of this author. The book came to my attention because of racist assholes harassing the author on Twitter. Thanks, racists!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Zoraida

    A charming adventure! Get it for your little ones!

  8. 4 out of 5

    CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨

    I really liked this! What a cute, spooky, and fun read! - Follows Lucely, a Dominican girl who, in trying to help her father, accidentally unleashes evil spirits. Together with her best friend, a chunky cat, and a witchy grandma, the group work together to right wrongs and save their town. - I loved loved loved the friendship and family themes in this book! They were so sweet and meaningful, and I loved that this book is carried by such a genuine and powerful friendship. - I loved that this was spo I really liked this! What a cute, spooky, and fun read! - Follows Lucely, a Dominican girl who, in trying to help her father, accidentally unleashes evil spirits. Together with her best friend, a chunky cat, and a witchy grandma, the group work together to right wrongs and save their town. - I loved loved loved the friendship and family themes in this book! They were so sweet and meaningful, and I loved that this book is carried by such a genuine and powerful friendship. - I loved that this was spooky!! I mean, I'm an adult and this book is for children but some of the moments were really spooky! (Which is probably the most I can handle anyway because I do not do well with spooky things.) - I also liked the strong emphasis on family, especially Lucely's many relatives and the relationship she has with her dad. - While I liked a lot of parts of it, I felt like the story, particularly towards the end, and how it developed was a little... unsteady? Some of the plot points wrapped up very quickly and didn't deliver on the build-up and climax that was promised. Trigger/content warning: (view spoiler)[spooky themes, ghosts, deaths of family members (described) (hide spoiler)]

  9. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This was delightful!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I’m not sure if this was too middle grade for me or what, but I couldn’t really get into it. But then again, I was considering reading with my daughter and I don’t think she really would’ve liked it that much either. I felt like there was too much lead up and not enough action. If there had been more action packed encounters spaced throughout, and then a big ending, it may have been better. Overall not what I expected, but still a really interesting cultural take on ghosts and witches. I did lov I’m not sure if this was too middle grade for me or what, but I couldn’t really get into it. But then again, I was considering reading with my daughter and I don’t think she really would’ve liked it that much either. I felt like there was too much lead up and not enough action. If there had been more action packed encounters spaced throughout, and then a big ending, it may have been better. Overall not what I expected, but still a really interesting cultural take on ghosts and witches. I did love the pop culture references dropped throughout!! *I read an ARC of this book*

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bee ♡

    ─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ─── Synopsis: Lucely Luna is a 12 year old that can see ghosts, and surrounded by the ghosts of her family she finds happiness and love. When an incident at her father’s Ghost Tour threatens to separate her from her loved ones, Lucely and her best friend Syd Faires try to solve the mystery together. With the help of Babette the Witch The Ghost Squad must find out what evil is trying to take over her town and the lost spirits that reside there. ─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ─── My Tho ─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ─── Synopsis: Lucely Luna is a 12 year old that can see ghosts, and surrounded by the ghosts of her family she finds happiness and love. When an incident at her father’s Ghost Tour threatens to separate her from her loved ones, Lucely and her best friend Syd Faires try to solve the mystery together. With the help of Babette the Witch The Ghost Squad must find out what evil is trying to take over her town and the lost spirits that reside there. ─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ─── My Thoughts: I remember going to the bookstore multiple times before the release date looking for this book and now that it’s finally out I can scream about the adorable cover and the equally adorable contents of this novel. It was like reading a Middle Grade Scooby Doo adventure solely for Black and Brown readers, and the way that Claribel Ortega portrayed Dominican culture was nothing short of beautiful. From Mamá Terese, to Manny, Tía Milagros and every single ghost family member in-between, the cast was a knockout and the audiobook was great at setting the atmosphere. The worldbuilding in this story was very well done and I need a prequel of Las Brujas Moradas and the Luna Family stories before I implode. It was also a story about how the ones you love never really leave you, Lucely found a home in her friends and her fireflies after her Mother left and it helped her grow in ways she never realized. The look into how poverty can affect children was also something I rarely see portrayed in books but Lucely was happy and grateful for what she had and was content with the love of her friends and family. Can I scream about Babette the Witch and Chunk for a moment? If Babette doesn’t get a spin off series for the badass powerful Grandma that runs the whole game it will be an injustice. Babette was a great guide to the girls throughout the story and the magic that she brought to the story was everything. Chunk is one of Babette’s magical companions who provides cute and comical moments when it gets a bit spooky but wait until the end! Chunk really shows everyone who the star of the story is. Is it completely obvious that I’m obsessed with this book? ─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ─── Wrap-Up: I don’t think I could find a flaw with this story even if I tried, it was the perfect spooky, Halloween centered, escape. I was sad when the story was over because it was one of those books that become a warm hug while you’re reading it. Latinx + Black readers every where can find themselves represented in this book and messaging back and forth with the author really made me appreciate their work that much more. Please go pick up this book, I’m going to be re-reading it a ton before the year is over. ─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ───

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richelle Robinson

    “ I received a review copy from Amazon Vine and voluntarily provided an honest review. This does not affect the opinion of the book or the content of the review.’’ I really enjoyed this story written by Claribel Ortega even though I am not the intended target audience. The book was nicely written, family focused and introduce me into a new culture filled with a rich history. While reading, I felt like I was in the story fighting along with the squad. Some but not many of the phrases are written i “ I received a review copy from Amazon Vine and voluntarily provided an honest review. This does not affect the opinion of the book or the content of the review.’’ I really enjoyed this story written by Claribel Ortega even though I am not the intended target audience. The book was nicely written, family focused and introduce me into a new culture filled with a rich history. While reading, I felt like I was in the story fighting along with the squad. Some but not many of the phrases are written in Spanish so I did have to break out Google translate but that made the story even more interesting. It was nice reading about Lucely and Syd being kids running around on bikes and having adventures. Reminds me of my youth. This would be a nice book to read around Halloween.

  13. 4 out of 5

    caitlin ✶

    I’m adding this book to my want to read shelf because I follow Claribel Ortega on Twitter. And let me tell you that she is the most intellectual and kind soul on there. Please follow her on Twitter!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Enne (they/them)

    4 stars Things I would not recommend doing: reading this book while it's dark outside. Things I would recommend: trying the audiobook!! After following Claribel on twitter for,,, a while, I was incredibly eager to pick up their latest!! And it definitely didn't disappoint!! I've been on a mission to read more MG this year and can I just say that picking this one up was definitely a great choice!! I absolutely adored Lucely and her family of ghosts. I adore reading about big families and their rel 4 stars Things I would not recommend doing: reading this book while it's dark outside. Things I would recommend: trying the audiobook!! After following Claribel on twitter for,,, a while, I was incredibly eager to pick up their latest!! And it definitely didn't disappoint!! I've been on a mission to read more MG this year and can I just say that picking this one up was definitely a great choice!! I absolutely adored Lucely and her family of ghosts. I adore reading about big families and their relationships and dynamics and this one was just,,, so precious and I was too busy crying about it for over half of this book. I adored the amount of love and care Lucely has for her family. It was so precious to read about. I also really loved the relationship between Lucely and her dad. The friendship in this book also took my breath away?? Lucely and Syd are both so well written and their friendship is genuinely one of my favorite parts of this book. They play off of each other so effortlessly and their relationship feels really realistic. Also reading about friendship in middle grade never seizes to make me emotional as Fuck, so!! That's also great. I also really loved Syd's grandmother, Babette, who is an icon in her own right and the reason the girls make it through this book, tbh, so!! Everyone say thank you Babette!! However, as much as I enjoyed the friendship dynamic, I have to say!! My most favorite part of this book by far was Chunk the cat, whom I absolutely adore!! Her presence completes this book and her character?? Is absolutely everything. I would give up my life for Chunk, that's it, that's the post. Now that I'm done talking about all of my love for the characters of this book, let's move on to the plot!! Which I absolutely adored!! I loved all the twists and turns this book took and I love how we ultimately arrived at the conclusion. Also?? All of the ghosts involved in this story were Very creepy and I was very pleased with that!! I adore creepy books that also don't make me terrified to sleep and this one fell right in the middle on that, which I am very grateful for! The only reason that I'm not giving this book a full five stars is because the ending felt a bit rushed to me, but I feel like that's just a personal preference, so it's definitely not a problem with the book!! Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I am now convinced that Claribel Ortega deserves the world!! So, do give this one a chance, especially if you're a fan of middle grade.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Speckels (Metaphors and Miscellanea)

    3.5/5, rounded up for the super-wholesome "chosen family" message and for Chunk, the amazing giant cat. It was a little cheesy for my liking, and there were some plot elements that felt rushed/incomplete, but overall was a really cute book (especially considering it is a ghost story!).

  16. 4 out of 5

    karli

    4/5 stars! Wow what an enchanting story!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alicia (A Kernel of Nonsense)

    **I received a copy of this book from the publisher, which does not influence my review** Claribel A. Ortega’s debut novel, Ghost Squad, is a delightful middle grade with lots of heart and a cast of character that is sure to charm readers of every age. Lucely Luna is just like any twelve-year girl, she likes hanging out with her best friend, Syd, and spending time with her family. Only most of her family are ghosts and she’s the only one who can see them. When Lucely discovers that her dad may no **I received a copy of this book from the publisher, which does not influence my review** Claribel A. Ortega’s debut novel, Ghost Squad, is a delightful middle grade with lots of heart and a cast of character that is sure to charm readers of every age. Lucely Luna is just like any twelve-year girl, she likes hanging out with her best friend, Syd, and spending time with her family. Only most of her family are ghosts and she’s the only one who can see them. When Lucely discovers that her dad may not have the money to keep their house and something odd begins happening to her ghost family, she’s determined to help on both fronts. But her plans take a frightening turn when Lucely, along with her best friend Syd, stumble upon an evil plan by the mayor himself to take over St. Augustine and steal the townspeople’s souls! Now Lucely and Syd, along with a suspiciously shrewd cat named Chunk, must figure out a way to stop him before it’s too late. Ghost Squad is a great reminder that middle grade novels are some of the most engaging and heartfelt reads you will ever pick up. The most important thing to Lucely is her family and it is this bond that drives the story. Her father is a single parent who works hard to provide a good home life for her. His ghost tours haven’t had the kind of buzz he was hoping for, but the last thing he wants is for Lucely to worry about their finances. The rest of Lucely’s family is a different kind of special. Inspired by Dominican folklore, family members who’ve passed appear as firelies, called cocuyos, and are tied to the magical willow tree on Lucely’s family property. They also appear as ghosts, but only to Lucely’s young eyes. From her grandmother, Mamá Teresa to her long line of cousins, Lucely’s family is unconventional but fierce and loving. When Lucely discovers that something is amiss and she may lose the connection she has with her family for good, she will stop at nothing to make sure they are safe. She’s brave and little reckless, but her heart is always in the right place. Syd is Lucely’s best friend and I immediately took a liking to her. Not only is she sassy, she is also willing to do anything for her friend. Her vast knowledge of all things paranormal ends up being a big help in their quest to defeat the nefarious spirits who plan to take over their town. It was hard not to love these two girls. I was delighted with their saucy conversations and inability to avoid getting into trouble. My favorite character by far is Syd’s grandmother, Babette, who steals the show every moment she’s on the page. Owner of an eccentric occult shop, there have always been whispers about whether or not she could be a witch. Though the girls believe they can sneak out and wander cemeteries without any of the adults in their life noticing, Babette is much smarter than either of them realize. I love that she takes the girls under her wing and shows them you should never underestimate a grandmother. And, of course, one must not forget Chunk, one of Babette’s cats, who has some strong opinions even for a cat. She made the best reluctant animal companion. With playful dialogue and fun characters, Claribel A. Ortega’s Ghost Squad is an unforgettable debut that will thrill and bewitch readers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Iris

    I want to clarify: I'm marking this as dnf for now because I don't want to clutter my currently reading any more than it already is, but I 100% plan to come back to it, and it was very much an "I struggle with audiobooks and wasn't far enough in to be properly invested yet so I procrastinated reading it and then my scribd free trial ended" dnf, not an "I don't like this book" dnf

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Woc Reader

    The movie adaptation of this book is gonna be an instant hit. This book is great presentation for young Latinx and African American girls. Finally they can pick up a fantasy story where they are present on the pages. And it's a fun story full of jokes, culture, and family. Lucely has the gift of seeing spirits when others around her can only see fireflies. But those fireflies are the spirts of her abulita, her tias, her tios, and her primos who protect and watch over her. But lately strange thin The movie adaptation of this book is gonna be an instant hit. This book is great presentation for young Latinx and African American girls. Finally they can pick up a fantasy story where they are present on the pages. And it's a fun story full of jokes, culture, and family. Lucely has the gift of seeing spirits when others around her can only see fireflies. But those fireflies are the spirts of her abulita, her tias, her tios, and her primos who protect and watch over her. But lately strange things have been happening to them. It's almost as if they are reliving their deaths. And thing haven't been so great for her father's ghost tour business either. So Lucely enlists her best friend Syd to help fix things. Only now they may have accidentally unleashed a spell which is causing evil spirits to haunt their town. Read more in depth review below https://womenofcolorreadtoo.blogspot....

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katerina Kondrenko

    5 out of 10 A girlish version of Ghostbusters. Or Supernatural for a middle-grade audience, idk. Not bad, a lot of humor, but I'm too grown-up for this.

  21. 4 out of 5

    charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)

    chunk, an absolute ICON Rep: Dominican American mc, Black characters

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mila

    3,75 stars What I liked: - The friendship between Lucely and Syd was so precious, their banter honestly carried most of the novel; - The portrayal of witches and witchcraft; - The big emphasis on importance of family. What I didn't really like: - The plot moved too quickly and actually made some events more confusing than they actually were; - Partially because of that the book felt too short as well.

  23. 5 out of 5

    whereIreadthewords

    DNF at page 28. The first chapter had so much Spanish written without context so I was completely lost. I don’t mind bilingual characters using a nonEnglish language but... context! I had no idea what was going on or if it was important and it didn’t help me garner an appreciation of Spanish or culture, but just made me feel excluded from what was probably supposed to be character building moments? The author posted on Twitter about this, saying "I put Spanish in my book for a reason. The moment DNF at page 28. The first chapter had so much Spanish written without context so I was completely lost. I don’t mind bilingual characters using a nonEnglish language but... context! I had no idea what was going on or if it was important and it didn’t help me garner an appreciation of Spanish or culture, but just made me feel excluded from what was probably supposed to be character building moments? The author posted on Twitter about this, saying "I put Spanish in my book for a reason. The moment you're reading and you realize you might need to look a little further to understand is a moment people like me have experienced over a lifetime of not being centered in stories. It's okay to not be the focus all the time, I promise <3" And... I understand what she is saying. I understand this book may not be for me. But it's also not for my daughter, who is the target audience, because while she takes Spanish in school, she's not at this level yet, and because she is 8, she doesn't have the access nor the knowledge to use Google translate to read a book that is meant for her. It feels more like gloating, like victoriously lording over someone who doesn't understand a language, vengefully declaring "SEE! THAT IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE!" which, imo, doesn't help foster connectivity. Simon... maybe it’s personal but the Dad being referred to by his name in the text was so very jarring. It’s Lucely’s POV... she calls him Dad in her dialogue but... Honestly though? I couldn’t get into the characters. I couldn’t feel any of their personalities. I couldn’t feel anything. Even when Lucely ruins her dad’s (Simon’s?) ghost tour, it was treated so BLANDLY like there was zero urgency or emotion. I held out to meet Syd because others said she was so fun but I just couldn’t feel it. One star because I DNFed after two chapters, but I will give it two stars for representation but this was just not an engaging read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Charvi

    This book was so beautifully written! What started out as an adorable story with lively characters turned into a well-developed and enriching cast as well as plot. To start with, I love the unabashed usage of Spanish sprinkled in between and the fact that the story draws its roots from fables and myths. I loved getting a glimpse into the culture and I feel that my favourite part of this books was the fireflies and Lucely's undying love for them. Tia mi labros and the abuela were my favourite ghost This book was so beautifully written! What started out as an adorable story with lively characters turned into a well-developed and enriching cast as well as plot. To start with, I love the unabashed usage of Spanish sprinkled in between and the fact that the story draws its roots from fables and myths. I loved getting a glimpse into the culture and I feel that my favourite part of this books was the fireflies and Lucely's undying love for them. Tia mi labros and the abuela were my favourite ghosts because they were so fierce and protective of Luce! Lucely herself is a wonderful protagonist to follow- loyal and determined. Also, she and Syd make for a dynamic duo. I love the snark and wit on Syd and her huge interest in witches and anything unnatural. She's dramatic and does everything with a flair. I absolutely loved seeing their undying friendship. But my all time favourite character has to be the mysterious and absolutely amazing Babette. I won't give any spoilers but let's just say that she's amazing and has a huge role to play in this book. I stan this grandma so hard. Also, can I adopt Chunk? He's just the perfect cat ever. The whole story was written very well and had an aura of magic. My experience was even more enhanced because the audiobook narrator outdid herself with the voice modulation and her expressions. The only thing is that I saw all the plot twists coming way before so it was a bit predictable but I enjoyed it nevertheless. And since this is a middle grade book maybe it's just me who saw the twists coming and younger readers will be able to gasp better at the revelations. Either way, I definitely ended up loving this book :)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gabriela Pop

    POTENTIAL NEW FAVOURITE MIDDLE GRADE ALERT!! I loved the premise of the book from the very beginning as it sounded right up my alley (and, HELLO, look at that cover!!), so my expectations were rather high.I am delighted to report that not only did it meet my expectations, but it definitely exceeded them. What a treat of a novel! I adored Lucely as a protagonist, from her passion and curiosity to the fervor with which she is willing to fight for her family and her town even from such a young age. POTENTIAL NEW FAVOURITE MIDDLE GRADE ALERT!! I loved the premise of the book from the very beginning as it sounded right up my alley (and, HELLO, look at that cover!!), so my expectations were rather high.I am delighted to report that not only did it meet my expectations, but it definitely exceeded them. What a treat of a novel! I adored Lucely as a protagonist, from her passion and curiosity to the fervor with which she is willing to fight for her family and her town even from such a young age. If saving the world and kicking ass comes with having to break a few rules, then so be it as far as Lucely is concerned. And honestly? She is right, we love to see it. I always appreciate seeing depictions of families that don't fit that nuclear family mold, so a single dad trying his best and a family of deceased relatives who stayed behind was quite a treat. On top of the wonderful heartwarming depiction of biological families, Claribel Ortega does a fantastic job at exploring the depths that friendships can achieve and the way they can seamlessly morph into found families. From hilarious witty best friends, to their bad-ass witchy grandma and a collection of magical cats (the star of which is Chunk), this unusual family set up stole my heart in no time. On top of the fantastic characters and dynamics between them, I loved everything else about the book. From writing style to pacing to humor to horror to underlying messages of feminism, historical bias and legacies, everything about this book spoke to me and I can see it speaking to many young readers in a similar manner. I cannot wait to be back in the bookshop to get recommending this to a lot of children that I'm sure will enjoy it !

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Sweeney

    Middle grade is generally not my jam and in truth I bought this because after I had the good fortune of talking to Claribel for a podcast I followed her on Twitter, where she is a genuine delight. And I'm so glad I picked this up because I truly adored this book. I read it slowly because it was kind of like a warm hug before I went to bed at night. Lucely & Syd's friendship is really, really beautiful and in a lot of ways a more mature friendship than is often depicted in adult literature – the w Middle grade is generally not my jam and in truth I bought this because after I had the good fortune of talking to Claribel for a podcast I followed her on Twitter, where she is a genuine delight. And I'm so glad I picked this up because I truly adored this book. I read it slowly because it was kind of like a warm hug before I went to bed at night. Lucely & Syd's friendship is really, really beautiful and in a lot of ways a more mature friendship than is often depicted in adult literature – the way that they care for and support each other makes me emotional when I think about it. The themes of grief and loss and families we choose were beautifully handled. Babette, Syd's grandmother, is extremely cool, and there is also an extremely cool cat. The magic & adventure were fun, the writing was engaging, and the FEEEEEELLINGS were strong. All-around A+ read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Abbey

    I absolutely adored this! What a fun, exciting ghost story. I loved the characters and the friendship and the family elements. One of my favorite aspects was Syd's grandmother being an important part of the story, helping the girls to solve the town's curse. She led them and taught them and helped them, but didn't do everything for them. She was loving and protective, but gave the girls their freedom to fix their mistake when necessary. I love a middle grade with competent adults that are part o I absolutely adored this! What a fun, exciting ghost story. I loved the characters and the friendship and the family elements. One of my favorite aspects was Syd's grandmother being an important part of the story, helping the girls to solve the town's curse. She led them and taught them and helped them, but didn't do everything for them. She was loving and protective, but gave the girls their freedom to fix their mistake when necessary. I love a middle grade with competent adults that are part of the story. Overall this was well-written, diverse, and fun. I listened to the audiobook through my library and will definitely be getting a physical copy and maybe even do a reread around Halloween.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    A heartfelt tale of friendship, family, and spooky mystery that will capture the imagination if any adventurer.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Renata

    This is a really fun idea and I'm glad for more variety of this kind of spooky book to provide to tweens! I think the "Stranger Things meets Coco" is a pretty good comp and I know there are tons of young readers who will be eager for that. That said for me as an adult reader, I think I just often struggle with middle grade books for being a bit silly and simplistic? Which is like...how they should be for their target audience, which is not me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Izzie

    (Thank you to my Mum for typing this for me). This book follows the main character Lucely who sets out on a n adventure with her best friend Syd to save her magical fireflies which hold the souls of her ancestors. On the way they accidentally awaken evil spirits and have to try and save their town. What I Liked: - The Writing. This was a debut novel and the writing was excellent. It was atmospheric and it gave the books a lot of life, despite it being a middle grade book there were times I found it (Thank you to my Mum for typing this for me). This book follows the main character Lucely who sets out on a n adventure with her best friend Syd to save her magical fireflies which hold the souls of her ancestors. On the way they accidentally awaken evil spirits and have to try and save their town. What I Liked: - The Writing. This was a debut novel and the writing was excellent. It was atmospheric and it gave the books a lot of life, despite it being a middle grade book there were times I found it genuinely creepy and it kept me on the edge of my seat. - Culture. This book really focuses on Dominican culture as this is where Lucely's family comes from. I learned a lot about the culture and ancestry. What I Didn't Like: - Development. The reason I didn't fall in love with his book was because it really wasn't fleshed out enough. It would have benefitted from being longer so there was more time to learn about both the characters and the magic that takes place. I couldn't fully connect with the characters or the story, for me it just felt too surface level. Overall this was a fun and spooky novel which sadly didn't have enough depth. I would still recommend it if it sounds interesting as I enjoyed reading it. I look forward to seeing what Claribel Ortega writes next.

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