Sunday, October 30, 2016

Review: I, Ripper (Halloween Read-A-Thon #6)

I've always been a big reader of true crime, in particular Jack the Ripper, so when I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. I, Ripper didn't quite live up to my hopes and expectations, but it was still a good read.

So what did I like about I, Ripper? It was very clear that Hunter had done extensive research, and really thought about what he was writing. The creative technique of alternating chapters of a (fictional) reporter's memoir with passage from Jack the Ripper's (fictional) diary was a really unique one, and one that served the narrative well, building a lot of tension.

However, even with a creative format and that built up tension, this book still seemed to move pretty slowly. It took me a lot longer to read than I had anticipated it would. It's hard to put my finger on exactly why, but maybe Hunter stretched the book out longer than he should have. Had the book been a bit more condensed, it might not have dragged at all.

I did suspect the big final twist from rather early on in the book. It was a bit disappointing that it was telegraphed so much, at least in my opinion.

Hunter definitely has something here, a unique and well-researched fictional take on a topic that has been covered many different times, in many different ways. This may not have been the best version of the story I've ever read, but it was still a good read.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Review: The Book Club Murders


Title: The Book Club Murders
Author: Leslie Nagel
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended If You Like: cozies, references to other real mystery books, female protagonists, romance, amateur detectives

The Book:

Charley owns her own vintage clothing store, and has joined the local book club, Agathas, to try to mingle with the town's elite and gain more customers. But, mixed in with the gossip and snobbery, someone is killing people through exact replicas of murder scenes from the book club's selections. 

What I Liked:

I love a mystery that references other mystery books, and this one does a great job of integrating them and making them a central part of the plot.

Charley is a great lead character, very strong and determined, and is highly helpful during the investigation. She also starts a great romance with a police officer.

The supporting characters, especially Charley's love interest and her two best friends, are well-written, unique, and easy to cheer for.

Anything I Didn't Like?

While I loved the main romance, the writing surrounding them occasionally veered on cliched.

Also, with one of the big twists at the end, a clue was a little too obvious. It was one of those that actually made me say "Oh, c'mon!" out loud as I read the sentence containing it.

The ending of two Agatha Christie novels are also spoiled with no warning--luckily I'd already read them, but a warning would be nice for those who haven't.


This was a fun, quick read, with some great characters I would definitely like to revisit. I look forward to more books in this series.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What We're Reading Wednesday, and Chime (Halloween Read-A-Thon #5)


My before-bed reads. Halloween Party is a re read along with Maidens of Murder on Bookstagram (and perfect for this season!). The Disappearing Spoon is one I've been alternating with for a while now--it can be a dense read because of all the scientific language, but is really interesting.

These are my Kindle reads. The Big Book of Jack the Ripper is really good, but really long, so I'm alternating it in with other reads. Right now that other read is The Book Club Murders, a really fun cozy mystery surrounding a small-town book club called the Agathas, and some real murders that start occurring. The Woman on the Orient Express has become my phone read when I walk my dog--it's moving really slowly, but because one of the main characters is Agatha Christie, I'm determined to finish it.

Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down is a book I keep picking up, reading a little, and then putting down. It's absolutely beautifully written, but it is a really emotionally difficult read for me, as it is centered around a school shooting. I, Ripper is my main read, and one of my Halloween Read-A-Thon books. I'm only a few chapters in, but it's a really unique fictional take on Jack the Ripper, alternating between diary entries from the Ripper himself, and memoir pages from a reporter who covered the story.

What are you reading this Wednesday?


This was not on my original Halloween Read-A-Thon TBR pile, but when I read the inside cover, I knew it fit perfectly. The narrator, Briony, believes herself to blame for all of her family's misfortunes. She hates herself, having been told by her stepmother that she is a witch. Briony can see and talk to spirits, Brownies, and dangerous others who lurk in the swamp, something only a witch should be able to do.

Briony doesn't want to be hanged, but she believes she should be. She believes she is evil. But then Eldric comes, and brings with him thoughts and ideas Briony never thought possible.

Billingsley has a great gift for language, and spins a beautiful story. There is an underlying thread of mystery throughout that makes you have to keep reading, to find out the truth.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Scary Stories

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and The Bookish.

This week's theme is a Halloween freebie, so I decided to go with my Top Ten Scary Stories!

1. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

What makes it scary:

A group of people are trapped on an isolated island with a killer.

2) Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

What makes it scary: 

A man is trapped on an isolated island (notice a trend here? ;) ) that houses an insane asylum, and a patient has escaped.

3) Turn of the Screw by Henry James

What makes it scary:

A governess on an isolated estate with two children who are being haunted by ghosts--or is she being haunted by the ghosts in her head?

4) Night Film by Marisha Pessl

What makes it scary:

A reporter is investigating a legendary horror movie director who may have taken his movies too far into real life.

5) The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

What makes it scary:

A gigantic hound may be haunting the mysterious moors, and killing people.

6) Dominance by Will Lavender

What makes it scary:

A class is being taught by a convicted murderer, a woman is missing, and a mysterious author may hold all the creepy clues.

7) The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

What makes it scary:

The past collides with the present in an old, abandoned motel.

8) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

What makes it scary:

People have willingly trapped themselves in a haunted house, and it might just drive them mad. 

9) The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

What makes it scary:

This is a ghost story about a haunted house, and a truly terrifying spirit.

10) The Bone Collector by Jeffrey Deaver

What makes it scary:

There's a diabolical madman on the loose--and he could be coming for you.

What are some of your favorite scary stories?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Some Read-A-Thon Reviews: Mini-Mysteries. Friday Barnes Girl Detective, and I Want My Mummy

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon Book #1

I've loved mini-mysteries since I was a kid, and this was a fun collection. Some parts of it did read as dated, but it was great that the protagonist was a woman-- and I was even able to guess the solutions to some of the mysteries before turning the book upside down to check!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon Book #2

This was another great recommendation from my dad! Friday Barnes is a brilliant young detective who has enrolled herself in an exclusive private school, thanks to the reward money she received from solving a diamond heist. 

Friday may not understand making friends, or boys, but she understands perfectly well how to go about solving a mystery. Over the course of the book, she solves quite a few small cases, building up to discovering the truth behind the swamp man sightings behind the school.

Friday is absolutely the kind of character you want to spend more time with. I already added the next two books in the series to my wishlist!

Halloween Read-A-Thon Book #4

This was a collection of short mystery stories, many very creepy (which makes sense considering Alfred Hitchcock is the one who curated the collection--or at least has his name on the front of the book). Everything from human anger to supernatural forces are covered, some more successfully than others (as is typically the case in a short story collection, some stories are just stronger). I'm really glad, after reading this, that I own a few more Hitchcock collections, and look forward to reading them.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon!

Opening Meme:
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? 
I'm reading from Chicago :) I'm having a little staycation at my parents' for the weekend while they are out of town, so it's me, my dog, and a big stack of books!

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I'm honestly looking forward to them all-I brought a wide selection so I'd have one for whatever I'm in the mood for.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Leftover pizza for dinner!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I'm 30 years old, a Pre-K teacher, and a dog mom-Sherlock is my adorable miniature poodle. I love reading, TV and movies, snuggling with my dog, and spending time with family and friends. 

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
This is my second read-a-thon, and this time I think I set myself up with more reading time, and a more specific selection of books :)

Books Read:
1) Mini-Mysteries by Julia Remine Piggin
2) Friday Barnes: Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: The Dead Boyfriend (Halloween Read-A-Thon #3)

Title: The Dead Boyfriend
Author: R.L. Stine
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Horror
Recommended If You Like: R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, zombies, revisiting your childhood

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:

Caitlin is a teenage girl who only has eyes for her new boyfriend. She thinks she is in love. Then she sees him with another girl, and lashes out in a seemingly-murderous rage. But when her dead boyfriend is suddenly there, staring at her, Caitlin doesn't know what to believe anymore.

What I Liked:

It was really fun revisiting R.L Stine's work. I loved his and Christopher Pike's books when I was growing up, and I couldn't resist the chance to check out a brand new R. L. Stine read.

There were some genuinely scary moments in this book, that had me officially creeped out. There were also some well-played twists scattered throughout.

Anything I Didn't Like?

Unfortunately, I feel like this book didn't have the charm for me Stine's books did when I was younger. I might have liked this book a lot more if I had read it back when I first discovered Stine and Pike.

The plot really didn't make much sense, even in the horror world Stine created. The characters read as pretty one-dimensional, and their motivations weren't that believable.

The twist at the end would have been very cool if it had been set up properly, but it came out of nowhere--and then the final twist on the last page didn't fit at all with what we had just been told. The ending felt rushed, as if Stine had a really cool idea right before the final draft was due, and just wanted to hurry up and get there.


I wanted to love this book so much. But, at least for me, it didn't live up to what I had hoped for.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Literary Names I Would Give a Pet

As always Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and The Bookish!

For this Top Ten Tuesday, here are Ten Literary Names I Would Give a Pet!

#1 has to be Sherlock, because that is my dog's name!

He is a miniature poodle, a rescue pup, and my little love :)

#2 Irene 

#3 Westing

#4 Mason

#5 Agatha

#6 Watson

#7 Baskerville

#8 Drew

#9 Hastings

#10 Doyle

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

All Her Secrets by Kate Avery Ellison: Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Title: All Her Secrets
Author: Kate Avery Ellison
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 9780998103907

Nothing is as it seems in this psychological YA thriller set in a not-too-distant future.


Eighteen-year-old Victoria, the daughter of inventor and visionary-genius Bill Faraday, was almost murdered by a stranger four years ago. She's been trying to forget the incident ever since.

When Victoria discovers something that might explain why she was brutally attacked, she heads home from college to uncover the truth. Then, she’s kidnapped.


Sam’s just a poor kid from Toivo, an experimental utopia gone wrong, but he knows who Victoria is as soon as his cousin Craig drags her from the trees. He doesn’t want anything to do with what appears to be a revenge kidnapping, but Craig has a gun and needs someone to take the fall if things go wrong.


Craig and his buddies imprison Sam and Victoria in an abandoned mountain cabin to await ransom. Putting aside mistrust for tentative friendship, Victoria and Sam conspire to escape together, and the close quarters ignite a startling attraction between them. Then they discover strange tunnels beneath the cabin. And what they find inside the tunnels proves more bizarre.

With a plan in place to escape, freedom seems within reach. But Sam and Victoria are both keeping secrets about their past.

And secrets can be deadly.

Add to your TBR list:  Goodreads

Available:  Amazon

My Review:

What could have been a story we have heard before, about a kidnapping and the bond that forms because of it, is instead a unique and gripping tale full of surprises and twists.

Ellison's best move is the world she creates for her characters. The "experimental utopia gone wrong" gives Ellison a fascinating and unique world to play in, and sets up the great twists and turns to follow. 

Even though much of the story takes place in one setting, with the two main characters trapped in a cabin, the revelations and secrets each character shares keep the story from dragging. 

I would definitely recommend this book for fans of young adult books, especially psychological thrillers.

Rafflecopter for All Her Secrets Virtual Blog Tour Giveaway:

Kate Avery Ellison is offering one (1) lucky winner a $25 Amzon Gift Card and five (5) runner-ups an eCopy of one of her books (winner’s choice)! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Kate Avery Ellison:

Kate Avery Ellison decided she wanted to be an author when she was five years old, and with hard work, determination, and the support of loved ones along the way, her dreams of telling stories for a living came true in 2011 with her first novel, The Curse Girl, and continued with her Amazon bestselling series The Frost Chronicles and numerous other fantasy and science fiction novels. She loves putting a dash of mystery in everything she writes, an ode to her childhood spent reading Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, and Sherlock Holmes, and she can’t resist adding a good twist in the story wherever she can.

Kate wishes she could live in a place where it’s always October, but until that’s possible, she makes her home in humid Atlanta with her husband, son, and two spoiled cats. When she isn’t dreaming up her next novel or holed up writing it down, Kate can be found binging her favorite shows on Netflix, reading on her Kindle, building intricate train track configurations with her toddler, and playing board games with her husband and friends.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

 Barclay Publicity

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Reviews: We Could Be Beautiful. and Before He Finds Her (Halloween Read-A-Thon #2)

Title: We Could Be Beautiful
Author: Swan Huntley
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Recommended If You Like: twists and turns, slow-burning suspense, family secrets, female narrators

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:

Catherine West is wealthy beyond most people's dreams, but she isn't completely happy. She feels something is missing, specifically love and children. So when she meets William Stockton, he seems like everything she has been looking for.

But her mother, suffering from Alzheimer's, shuts down whenever William's name is mentioned. As Catherine digs deeper into her family's past, she begins to discover she might not know William-or her parents-at all.

What I Liked:

The twist at the end of this book is amazing--it's one I never saw coming, that stayed with me long after I finished the story.

Huntley is really good at building suspense out of a plot that could have dragged. Catherine goes about her life, and goes about her life with William, and not much necessarily happens. But so much is going on, subtle but surprising.

Anything I Didn't Like?

Catherine is not always the most likable of characters. She has lived a life of privilege, and can get whiny when things aren't going her way.


In the end, despite her flaws, I couldn't help but root for Catherine. She has an inner strength to her that serves her well, in surprising ways. The twist at the end makes this a book that you won't soon forget.

In Before He Finds Her, Meg Miller has been living her life in hiding. Fifteen years before, Ramsey Miller, her father, threw a block party for his neighborhood, and then murdered his wife. Meg, his daughter, was believed killed as well, but her aunt and uncle have had her hidden away in a small town.

But Meg is pregnant now, and doesn't want her child living her life in hiding as well.. So she sets out to do what no one else has been able to do--find her father, so she can come out of the shadows. 

This book was not as creepy as I had expected when I chose it for the Halloween Read-A-Thon, but it was definitely suspenseful. The way Kardos weaves in flashbacks really builds up the tension, and the ending has a really surprising twist as well. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Two Spooky Reads: Diary of a Haunting and Strangers on a Train


(Read #1 for the Halloween Read-A-Thon)

This is a creepy book that definitely lives up to its incredibly creepy cover.

I love books that are the equivalent of "found footage". In this case, it is an online journal, photographs, old pamphlets, and letters. 

Our main source of information is Paige, the teenage daughter of the family who has moved into the mysterious home. She begins to keep an online journal of what is occurring in the house, from spider and fly infestations, to disappearing and duplicated food. Her brother Logan isn't sleeping, and her mother dismisses everything offhand as spirits simply expressing themselves.

The downstairs neighbor, Raph, begins to provide Paige and her new friend, Chloe, with more information about who and what lived in the home previously, leading Paige on a desperate hunt to figure out what is going on and stop it before it gets any worse.

This book is really creepy. As someone with a fear of spiders, those sections were especially skin crawling for me. The tension builds and builds, until the terrifying ending, that comes with a shocking scary twist.

Guy meets Bruno on a train, and finds himself confiding in the stranger about his troubles with his hopefully soon to be ex-wife. Bruno explains that he has issues with his father, and suggests a pact to commit the perfect murder--Bruno will murder Guy's wife, and Guy will kill Bruno's father. No one will ever know there was a connection between them.

This is a really excellent, suspenseful presence, and one that works very well in a two hour movie, but unfortunately dragged some within this novel. Guy's agonies, Bruno's desperation, all became a bit repetitive as they continued chapter to chapter. 

This is still a good read, but not quite as suspenseful as I had hoped, particularly given how much I enjoyed the movie, and Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Halloween Read-A-Thon!

I'm really excited to participate in WonderlessReview's Halloween Read-A-Thon! I love creepy, scary books.

So here are the books I'm aiming to read. In my ideal world I'll read all these and get to read even more, but from Oct. 10-Oct. 31, these are my main goals!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Review: The Couple Next Door

Title: The Couple Next Door
Author: Shari Lapena
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Recommended If You Like: I honestly didn't really enjoy this book, so I wouldn't recommend it.

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:

Anne and Marco left their infant daughter, Cora, at home alone while they went next door for a dinner party--and Cora disappeared. Now, as the police investigate, Anne and Marco are forced to wonder how much they truly know about each other, and who they can trust.

What I Liked:

It's a tense, suspenseful set up, and I really tend to enjoy books that explore the secrets people keep. The twists had potential as well.

Anything I Didn't Like?

Unfortunately, I didn't really like this book. For a book with such a suspenseful start, it really drags. The story gets really repetitive and goes over the same material again and again.

The ending was far too pat as well, and almost nullified the impact of the previous twists. The last twist, while a good one, felt thrown in in an attempt to keep the ending from feeling too tied up in a bow.


I almost didn't finish this book more than once, but kept going because it had gotten so much hype. Unfortunately, at least for me, this book didn't live up to that hype at all.