Friday, September 21, 2018

Review: The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street

Tessa is already upset with having to move from Florida to Chicago for her dad's job, but when she starts to suspect her house is haunted, she wants to move back to the sunny beaches even more. A new group of friends just might change her mind, both about Chicago and about solving the mystery behind her home's history.

This was a fun, spooky middle grade read that flew by. The characters felt real, and I enjoyed their  forming friendship and the paranormal research they embarked on. I especially loved that the book was set in Chicago-it always makes it extra fun when the setting is one you know well.

If you are looking for a quick enjoyable read as the Halloween season approaches, this would be a good book to pick up.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Review: If I Die Tonight

When a former pop star claims she is the victim of a carjacking, one that has put the teenage boy who tried to save her in a coma, it shakes up the foundations of a small town and brings everyone's secrets into the light.

This book was full of suspense. Gaylin really cleverly plays with the idea of a modern-day witch hunt, as the town decides on who they think is the perpetrator of the carjacking. Using multiple perspectives with cliffhanger endings as perspectives are switched was extremely effective.

I also really liked the use of social media as evidence. Everything we put online is out there in the public eye, and Gaylin shows how that can be used to build different types of stories, from hero to villain. 

I did feel one the ending felt a little pat for all that had come before. But the book as a whole was very strong, and completely drew me in.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Readers Imbibing Peril XIII Sign Up!

This is one of my favorite challenges of the year!

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:
Dark Fantasy.

I'm going for Peril the First, four books:
1) Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
2) The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie

And Peril the Short Story:

I'm also going for Peril on the Screen, where I watch scary movies and shows:
1) American Horror Story: Apocalypse: Episode 1
2) The Nun
3) American Horror Story: Apocalypse: Episode 2

This challenge starts September 1st!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Review: The Prisoner in the Castle

Title: The Prisoner in the Castle
Author: Susan Elia MacNeal
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Genre: Spy Thriller/Psychological Suspense/Mystery
Recommended If You Like: homages to Agatha Christie entrenched in spy tales

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book:

A group of agents in World World II are secreted away on an isolated island, made prisoners because they know too many secrets. Maggie Hope is desperate to get back so she can help the war effort, but soon she finds herself desperate to stay alive as her fellow island inmates begin dropping dead. 

What I Liked:

This book had so many homages, big and small, to Agatha Christie and And Then There Were None, and I loved it! It was so fun finding them all, and made me really happy.

The mystery is twisty, and the setting and murders make this a creepy suspenseful page turner. I found myself invested in the characters and what was going to happen to them, especially Maggie. I also really liked the side plot about a series of murders that took place on the island years ago.

Anything I Didn't Like?

This is just a personal preference, but I wasn't as interested in the spy storylines. I think this was because the mystery storyline was so captivating that I wanted to stay with it.


This was a fun, scary, eerie, suspenseful, clever read that used its Agatha Christie references really well. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Review: The Party

Title: The Party
Author: Robyn Harding
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Genre: Psychological
Recommended If You Like: exploration of high school hierarchies, female friendships, and family ties

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book:

When a sweet sixteen party goes terribly wrong, the terrible aftermath crumbles the foundations of friendships, family, and status.

What I Liked: 

This book is so full of palpable, believable tension! Harding writes people that feel so real, and I get so caught up in their stories. This was a real page turner for me, having to know what was going to happen to each character, and what truly happened at the party that night.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I felt like two of the side relationships, one involving the dad, one involving the mom, weren't as interesting and didn't ring as true. The one with the dad especially felt rushed and didn't make a lot of sense in context.


Both of Harding's books I've read I've really enjoyed and flew through because I couldn't put them down. I'm still thinking about the last chapter of The Party-it gave me actual chills.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Review: She Was the Quiet One

Title: She Was the Quiet One
Author: Michele Campbell
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Recommended If You Like: stories about twins, boarding school mysteries, the complexities of teenage emotions

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book: Twins Bel and Rose start at Odell Academy, a boarding school full of wealth and opportunity, but also temptations and malice. As the sisters choose sides, their relationship, and that of those around them, change for the worse, leading to destruction and tragedy.

What I Liked:

This book starts out with a lot of suspense. The first few pages pack a real punch, and had me flipping pages to find out what had really happened.

I also really liked the use of police interview transcripts. I thought this was a really clever way to hint at what had ended up happening.

Anything I Didn't Like?

This book became very predictable for me about 1/3 of the way through. I knew what was going to happen essentially every step of the way, and what did happen seemed very cliched to me.


This book wasn't bad, it was an interesting read, but it was far too predictable and cliched. It felt like a subject that had been done before, and done better.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Vacation ARC Review Roundup!

I haven't posted reviews in a few weeks because I was on vacation in Italy! I had the most amazing three weeks, and got a lot of reading done on the train rides between cities. I then got back and at the end of the week rescued a new dog, Indy! So its been a busy month for sure. I've got a bunch of books to review, and am starting with Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage!

This is one well-done, very creepy book, and definitely not a read for the faint of heart.

Hanna is not your typical child. She is a seven year old who refuses to speak, but she is also a child who shows terrifying and escalating aggression towards her unwell mother, Suzette. Hanna's father never sees anything but a loving little girl who needs help to express herself--but Suzette sees a dangerous mind in the body she carried inside her.

The alternating chapters between Suzette and Hanna's perspectives really up the ante. Baby Teeth is a book that is constantly upping the ante, with such intensity that it's haunting. I could not put this book down.

To say Louise is struggling in life would be an understatement. But when she meets the rich and beautiful Lavinia, Louise thinks everything is going to change for the better. Louise is drawn into the parties, the decadence, the drugs and the drinking, as well as finally being part of a group where she has the chance to matter.

But what the reader knows from the start is that Lavinia is going to die. Louise tells us herself.

Knowing this from the start ups the suspense as readers know they are in the hands of a narrator who can't afford to lose. I really enjoyed Burton's writing style, and am excited to see what she writes next.

In Bring Me Back, Paris continues to explore relationships, facades, and the complications of secrets and lies.

The love of Finn's life, Layla, disappeared at a roadside stop a decade ago. Now Finn is marrying Layla's sister, Ellen, an event that seems to have brought Layla--or someone pretending to be her--back into their lives. But there are things both Finn and Ellen have been keeping secret for a long time, and whoever is sending them messages is determined to bring everything into the light.

While this was a gripping suspenseful read, I didn't love it in the same way I loved Behind Closed Doors. The ending was definitely a surprise with a huge twist, but when I thought about it, it didn't really make a lot of sense.

When a newlywed couple finds something completely unexpected on their honeymoon, they make decisions that change everything for them and their life together.

Here's the thing with this book. It starts out with a lot of promise. The first chapter is a great set up that had me hooked right away.

But the middle section, at least to me, was very predictable. I called it very early on. This made getting through the middle section almost a bit of a chore.

The end, however, was also really well done. It was completely unexpected, a great twist, that surprised me and left me thinking.

So, total, the book was pretty good. It was just that middle section that really lacked. Steadman has great ideas, she just needs to work on carrying the interest of the story completely through, not just the beginning and ending.

Kate Randolph seems like Frances Metcalfe's savior. Ostracized by the other school moms for an incident involving her son, unhappy with her looks, and feeling deeply lonely, Frances has always yearned for a friend like Kate. Kate brings Frances and her son out of their shells, and Frances helps Kate's daughter feel comfortable in her own skin.

But within this seemingly perfect friendship, something is terribly wrong. One of these women is Amber Kunik. One of these women is a murderer.

This was a really clever, suspenseful take on female friendships, culpability, and family. I kept thinking I knew who was who and what was going on, but I was always wrong, and I really enjoyed being constantly surprised.

When Michael finds out he might be the father of a missing girl, he immediately jumps into action, finding himself lost and confused on a road trip with his ex-wife. His ex-wife insists she knows who is responsible for kidnapping the little girl, but as the night progresses, Michael begins to question everything he thought he knew.

This was a suspenseful read, especially with the chapters alternating between Michael's journey and what was happening with his current wife at their home. I did see the final twist coming a few chapters before it happened, but I think that was the author's intention, to drop just enough clues so the reader could have a chance to figure it out.

Claire has had to make a living by working undercover with divorce lawyers to prove wive's suspicions that their husbands are cheating. But when one of her clients is suddenly murdered, Claire goes deeply undercover to get a confession out of the husband. As Claire gets more and more entangled in the husband's life, she finds herself more and more unsure about who she truly is and what she is truly involved in.

Here's the thing with this book, at least for me-it felt like Delaney was throwing way too much into the mix. The premise itself was already interesting, but there kept being twist after twist, where it got to the point where the twists stopped making sense and just seemed to be there just for there to be more twists. This took me out of the story and made me like the book less than I suspect I would have had Delaney just settled on a few solid surprises and left it there.