Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Reviews: The Dark Lake

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.

Title:  The Dark Lake
Author: Sarah Bailey
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Suspense/Psychological Thriller
Recommended If You Like: female detectives, complicated relationships, intertwining between past and present

The Book:

Rosalind Ryan is dead, murdered and left in the lake surrounded by red roses. Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock, who has personal connections to Rosalind from their school days, attempts to solve the case while figuring out her own complicated personal life, past and present.

What I Liked:

Gemma is a complex, complicated character with imperfections and truths all her own. Taking the journey with her as she struggles to not only solve a case, but the uncertainties of her own life, really connected me to the book.

Bailey does an excellent job of building up suspense through the integration of well-timed flashbacks, giving readers information and motivations piece by piece that change everything we thought we knew about the story.

The mystery is also a good one, with an ending I did not see coming. Looking back though, I can see how so many of the clues were in place, hidden but there.

Anything I Didn't Like?

There wasn't really anything I didn't like. I did feel the book could have been tightened up a little here and there, but there wasn't really anything specific.


This isn't my favorite psychological thriller I've ever read, but it is a good one. It's definitely worth a read when you get the chance.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Mini Reviews!

I really enjoyed Roux's Asylum series, so had high hopes for her new series. House of Furies did take a while for me to get into, I actually thought about putting it aside at one point. But I am glad I stuck with it, because it did pick up and get really creepy. I'm just not sure if it was enough for me to read the next book in the series.

I received an ARC of this middle grade book at ALA, and it was a great read for the month of Halloween. It's got two strong female protagonists, a spooky storyline, and a surprising twist at the end.

The next four books I read for the Dewey 24 Readathon:

This was a brilliant book, a quick read that is important in today's times, told from the point of view of a young person who society identifies as a boy, but who knows she is a girl.

This book unfortunately wasn't that good. It was a mystery that kind of meandered around, and didn't really hold my attention. It had its moments where I was intrigued and wanted to find out the solution, but I ended up finishing it because I had already committed to it and it was short.

This was another fun middle grade paranormal ARC I received a copy of at ALA. There's a great strong female character, an endearing friendship, and some spooky fun.

I loved this book! It was beautifully written, creative and unique, with such compelling characters, and parts I never saw coming.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review: Final Girls

Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Suspense
Recommended If You Like: slasher films, strong and complicated female characters, twists and turns

The Book:

Quincy Carpenter is a Final Girl, a title she never wanted and still can't accept. She was the only survivor of a massacre at Pine Cottage, where all her friends were murdered. Now, a fellow Final Girl has died, and another has shown up at Quincy's door, forcing her to remember what she hasn't been able to face for ten years.

What I Liked:

This book was so good! I could not put it down.

Final Girls is almost unbearably suspenseful throughout. Sager masterfully weaves flashbacks of Pine Cottage into the narrative. What especially ups the ante is that Quincy cannot remember what happened the night of the massacre, so the reader isn't provided with all the facts until the very end.

The twists in this book were phenomenal! I did not see any of them coming, and was completely shocked. It is rare that a book can completely surprise me on all levels, but this book pulls it off.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I really can't find anything not to like about this book. I just really, really enjoyed it.


Read this book! Seriously, it's a great psychological thriller, with tons of suspense, and so many surprises.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: Within These Walls

Title: Within These Walls
Author: Ania Ahlborn
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Genre: Supernatural/Paranormal/Horror/Psychological Thriller
Recommended If You Like: haunted houses, stories about cults, family drama, ghosts, stories about the occult

The Book:

Lucas Graham, true crime writer, hasn't had a successful book in years. So when Jeffrey Holcomb, infamous cult leader and murderer, who has never told his story to a soul, reaches out, Graham can't believe his luck. All he has to do is move into the house where Holcomb spilled so much blood. But Holcomb has a plan that Graham and his teenage daughter can't begin to comprehend, one that reaches into realms Graham can't yet fathom.

What I Liked:

A book that promises cults, a true crime writer, and supernatural/paranormal horror is one that I'm going to have to read. Ahlborn does a great job of dropping in other true crimes and true crime books, and weaving the story of this fictional cult into the narrative. The use of flashbacks building to the cult's terrifying and cumulative event creates an eerie and gripping suspense.

The horror aspect is one that is truly creepy. It builds and builds to the point where you absolutely cannot put the book down.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I had a little trouble with the main characters of the father, daughter, and mother. I had trouble finding a lot of redeeming qualities in them, and just wanted to shake them as events began to pile up. I understand that a lot of their story was influenced by Holcomb, but I still struggled with them.


This was a really interesting, gripping story, with a lot of unique twists and turns. While I sometimes struggled with the main characters, I really appreciated and enjoyed how this book kept me guessing and never went where I expected it to.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Review: The Quality of Silence

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.

Title: The Quality of Silence
Author: Rosamund Lupton
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Recommended If You Like: family-driven stories, strong female protagonists, settings as their own characters

The Book:

Yasmin and her daughter Ruby (deaf since birth) set off through the Alaskan wilderness to find Matt, Yasmin's husband and Ruby's father. Everyone is telling them Matt is dead, victim of a tragedy in a small village, but Yasmin and Ruby refuse to believe it. As they travel through one of the most isolated places on Earth, they begin to fear that someone is following them, stalking them through the snow.

What I Liked:

Yasmin and Ruby are great characters, especially Ruby. They are strong, complex protagonists who readers can't help but root for. I love seeing such strong complex female characters, and watching them grow.

The setting is incredible as well. Alaska really becomes its own crucial character in the book. Lupton makes you feel like you are there, in the truck, in the snow, and that just ups the suspense even more. This book was highly suspenseful, as I really didn't know what was going to happen to the characters.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I missed the mystery aspect that had been present more in Sister, one of Lupton's previous books. There was a mystery in The Quality of Silence, but it frequently felt like it was on the back burner.

The  book also occasionally felt like it got too caught up in communicating a message as opposed to telling a story, particularly at the end. I really enjoy books that teach me something, but I like it better when the message is more integrated.


This was a good book, but didn't live up to how much I loved Sister. I would definitely recommend reading it, as Lupton has a beautiful writing style that really makes you feel like you are right there with her characters.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: A Witch in Time

This is a series I like, but don't love, which would probably explain why two books from the Bewitching cozy mystery series have been setting on one of my TBR shelves for quite a while.

Maggie O'Neill is a fun, engaging protagonist living in a small town and trying to figure out her intuitive powers. She has a family who irritates her, but she is still always there for, and a new boyfriend who is pushing all the right buttons.

When she goes to visit her sister, Mel, in the hospital, who is due to give birth, Maggie overhears a seemingly sinister conversation, and finds out about a tragic death. Trying to balance her love life, powers, and familial obligations, Maggie must also solve the mystery before someone else gets hurt.

I think the reason I like but don't love this series is that it takes a long time to get to the mystery, and once the mystery starts, there's so much going on it almost feels like the mystery is a minor storyline. Because I'm going into these books wanting the mystery to be the focus, it can drag a little when that's not the case. The last few chapters, which focus on the mystery predominately, flew by for me, and the solution was really clever (even though I had called a bit of it, I still enjoyed it).

Eventually I will get to the other book from this series I own, but I suspect I will read the series that focus on the mystery first.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Review: Death on Tap

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.

Title: Death on Tap
Author: Ellie Alexander
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended If You Like: strong female protagonists, learning about breweries, small town settings

The Book:

Sloan feels shattered after catching her husband with another woman. Working hard to pick up the pieces, she finds work at the new brewery in town, only to find a dead body in the fermenting tub. When her husband is accused, and her new work place threatened, Sloan is determined to solve the mystery.

What I Liked:

Sloan is a great character-she's strong, smart, and really good at brewing. I really liked her relationships with her son, her in-laws, and her new boss.

The mystery was an intriguing one as well. There were a lot of interesting suspects, and a lot of twists and turns. The way the brewing process was integrated and explained really added to the story.

Anything I Didn't Like?

The ending seemed a little rushed. The solution to the mystery made sense, and was intriguing, but I wanted a little more time spent on it.


I'm excited for this new series-Sloan is a character I look forward to following in more mysteries to come.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Review: Alex and Eliza

I love the musical Hamilton , and have started reading everything I can get my hands on about Alexander Hamilton since seeing the show. When I heard an author I had enjoyed in the past had written a young adult version of the story of Alex and Eliza, I knew I had to check it out.

Alex and Eliza was pretty good. I found, for me, it started out a little slow. I know the buildup was supposed to create conflict and tension before they admit their love, but it actually had me putting the book down a few times to pick up other books. It took me a while to actually finish the book because of this.

But once this story got going, I couldn't put it down. Even knowing how the true story ends, I was in suspense. De La Cruz made Alex and Eliza and all the real-life characters surrounding them come alive again.

So stick with this book. Give it some time. It's worth it in the end.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Review: There's Someone Inside Your House

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.

Title: There's Someone Inside Your House
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Genre: Horror/Psychological Thriller/Suspense

The Book:

Makani, a teenager now living in Nebraska, is haunted by her past and her present. Her classmates are dying one by one, picked off by a mysterious serial killer, and Makani might be next.

What I Liked:

This is like a 90s teen slasher film in book form, and I loved it! I had actually just done a rewatch of one of my favorite scary movie series, the Scream movies, before reading this book, which put me in the perfect mood for this story.

This is creepy, and clever, and keeps you on your toes. Perkins manages to create jump scares using her words, no visuals, and lulls you into a false sense of security in between each death. She makes you really care about the characters and what is going to happen, which just ups the tension even more.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I had some trouble with how gorey the book was-I'm the one who loves scary movies, but covers my eyes at the blood. I couldn't cover my eyes and still read the words, so I read the gore, and it definitely got to me.


I definitely enjoyed this book. It's a great spooky read, perfect for this month.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Review: The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes

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.

Title: The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes
Author: David Handler
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Genre: Mystery
Recommended If You Like: celebrity stories, mysteries about the rich and famous, tough wisecracking protagonists

The Book:

Stewart Hoag ("Hoagy") was once a famous writer, but now is a celebrity ghostwriter. When another once-famous writer seemingly resurfaces, Hoagy is tapped to write the story, but finds himself drawn into a murder mystery.

What I Liked:

Hoagy is a great character, with a great dog, surrounded by a unique and colorful supporting cast. It is easy to differentiate who is who, and to keep track of what is happening.

I really enjoyed the mystery aspect as well. It had a slow buildup that really worked, and a denouncement that was surprising but made sense.

Anything I Didn't Like?

The reveal felt a little rushed with the slow buildup that had preceded it. It still worked, but I would have liked Handler to have spent a little more time on it.


This was a unique, character-driven mystery that I definitely enjoyed.