Friday, November 16, 2018

Review: Naughty on Ice

Title: Naughty on Ice
Author: Maia Chance
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended If You Like: cozy mysteries, strong female heroines, settings around Christmastime, romance

The Book:

Lola and Berta, the detectives of The Discreet Retrieval Agency, find themselves suddenly suspects in a murder when they are caught by police holding the ring they have been hired to find, right after someone in the house is poisoned. Forbidden to leave the town until the case is solved, Lola and Berta work to solve the case themselves, and get themselves out alive before Christmas.

What I Liked:

I really enjoyed the first entry in this series, and my enjoyment continued with this book. Lola and Berta are such great, unique, fun characters, and Lola is a narrator who you just want to be friends with. This book really has everything you could want in a cozy mystery-great characters, romance, a unique setting, a mystery full of twists and turns-and so much more-ski jumping! family drama! secret rendezvous! the legend of a bear who walks on two legs!

Anything I Didn't Like?

The solution to the mystery got a little convoluted for me. I loved the surprise element of it, but I had to do a bit of re reading of the ending to make sure I got it all.


I definitely recommend this series. The characters are great, the romance is one to root for, and the mysteries always keep you on your toes.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Review: Crippen

The focus of this book is a fictionalized account of the Dr. Crippen murder case. What is known as facts are that Dr. Crippen's wife was murdered, and that Dr. Crippen and his lover Ethel Le Neve tried to get to Canada on a boat posing as a man and his son.

What I love most about this book is that even knowing about the Crippen case, even having read books on it before, Boyne still manages to absolutely surprise and shock me as the plot progresses. I would get so caught up in the story that I would forget what I knew. And because of how little is truly known about the case, Boyne is able to hypothesize and theorize in a brilliantly written way that actually made my mouth drop open at one point and just stand there in public, flipping back pages.

I highly recommend this book, it's so well-written, and does such an impressive job of taking a famous historical crime and still making it feel new.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Review: After the Fire

Title: After the Fire
Author: Will Hill
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Genre: Young Adult/Psychological
Recommended If You Like: cult stories, strong female heroines, flashbacks used to build suspense

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:

There was a fire, a terrible fire with gunshots and people dying all around her. But Moonbeam made it out. Now she has to figure out a life outside of the compound, outside of Father John's control, all while holding two secrets inside her that refuse to let her go.

What I Liked:

The opening is so powerful, it had me sucked in right away. Hill then brilliantly uses the trope of Before and After to build up the suspense. Before takes readers back to the events leading up to the fire of the title, while After details the life of Moonbeam after everything she has known is gone.

Moonbeam is a great strong female narrator fighting to get her life back and help her fellow survivors while trying to deal with the two secrets inside her. She is telling her story to two other great characters, a psychologist and an agent, and readers get inside her head and her feelings through the first person narration.

Anything I Didn't Like?

The very end felt a little pat, but I loved it anyway.


This is a well-written, suspenseful look at a cult and how someone tries to rebuild their life when they suddenly find themselves on the outside.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Roundup

I had so much fun participating in the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon! I read four books for a total of 897 pages:

This was a very creepy and well-done graphic novel adaptation of a Lovecraft story surrounding an escaped asylum patient and his family secrets.

While this was not my favorite Patterson-it's a strange futuristic tale surrounding a new society-there are still Patterson's trademark twists and turns which had me hooked enough to keep reading.

Lord Peter Wimsey is such a fun character, and this is a great classic mystery surrounding a body in a bathtub and a mysterious pair of glasses.

This is an amazing graphic novel that manages to be memoir, powerful statement about physical and emotional violence against women, and true crime tale about the Yorkshire Ripper.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Review: Hannah-Beast

If you are looking for a scary read for the Halloween season, Hannah-Beast by Jennifer McMahon (one of my favorite authors) definitely fits the bill.

A short story that is part of Amazon's Dark Corners series, Hannah-Beast expertly cuts between the past and present. Thirty-four years ago, a group made a decision. Thirty-four years ago, Hannah was sent on a scavenger hunt with dire repercussions.

In the present, a member of that fateful group is now a mother. She is triggered every time she sees a costume that reminds her of that night, and must fight both her inner demons and those that threaten her from outside on one terrifying Halloween night.

When I say terrifying, I mean terrifying. This story is so scary. It builds and builds until it's at that delicious almost unbearable point that comes with great horror, and then the absolutely haunting ending leaves you reeling.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Review: Murder on Millionaire's Row

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.

I loved this book!

Rose Gallagher is a force to be reckoned with, a housemaid who is determined to find her missing employer. Yes, she is in love with him (and that is a romance I am definitely rooting for-their chemistry just oozes off the pages!), but she also is a strong and brave woman in a time when women, especially women in her station, were supposed to stay in their small set roles. The supporting cast is wonderful as well, but Rose is the star of the show.

And there are ghosts! I love the paranormal, and it is woven in so well and so almost matter-of-factly. It adds a real urgency and eeriness to the story and mystery.

I definitely recommend this book. I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Week in Review: The Silence of the Lambs, Looking for Alaska, and The Complete Dracula

This is one of those books where I'm left wondering how in the world I hadn't read this before. This was so good-suspenseful, terrifying, a real thriller that had me desperate to keep turning pages. Hannibal Lector and Clarice Starling are, of course, fascinating characters in their own right, but the supporting cast around them are complex and gripping too. I found myself finding every spare moment I could to find out if they would catch Buffalo Bill, if Lector would talk to Clarice, and just what they would all find.

Like Paper Towns, I struggled to like the main female protagonist, Alaska, at first, But I think that was the point. As we get under her skin, we learn so much more about her and why she is the way she is. And the narrator is someone I could certainly sympathize with and understand-going into the teenage years wanting to find yourself, wanting to find your tribe and what your purpose is. I love John Green, and need to make sure I've read everything he's written.

I love the book Dracula, so I was highly intrigued by this graphic novel adaptation. This managed to be faithful to the original, while bringing its own level of horror and eeriness to the story with really great drawings. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Reviews: The Destroyers and The Naturals

Here's the thing: I didn't not like this book.

In fact, I was definitely hooked at the beginning. A man at the end of his rope, Ian Bledsoe, ends up on a Greek island to reunite with his childhood best friend, Charlie. But as more and more events transpire, Ian thinks Charlie may have invited him there to play their childhood game, Destroyers--only this time, it's not pretend.

It's a fascinating premise. But my problem was how long it took to play out. Bollen has a wonderful writing style, but I felt like the book simply went on too long--a problem I didn't have with Orient, Bollen's book that was equally long but I found far more enjoyable. The twists in The Destroyers are definitely surprising, but by the time I got to them, I just wasn't as invested as I wanted to be.

This is the kind of really good YA series where I've already put the other books on hold at the library.

It centers around Cassie, a teenager who is a natural profiler, which makes her prime to be recruited by the FBI for their Naturals group--a collection of teenagers with innate skills who work to solve cold cases. Each have their own past, including Cassie, whose mother was murdered but whose body was never found. When a serial killer comes on their radar, the Naturals realize that this case may hit closer to home than ever before.

This book had me hooked from the start, and I flew through it. The characters are so interesting, as are the cases--and the house they all live in is fascinating, with a basement full of simulated crime scenes for them to practice on. This is a creepy, well-written book with a final twist that blew my mind. I can't wait until I can get my hands on the rest.

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
3) The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
4) Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
5) The Complete Dracula by Leah Moore
6) Murder on Millionaire's Row by Erin Lindsey
7) Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
8) Private London by James Patterson and Mark Pearson
9) All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

And Peril the Short Story:
1) Hannah-Beast by Jennifer McMahon

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
4) American Horror Story: Apocalypse: Episode 3
5) American Horror Story: Apocalypse: Episode 4
6) The Haunting of Hill House: Episode 1
7) The Haunting of Hill House: 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.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: Death by Dumpling

Title: Death by Dumpling
Author: Vivien Chien
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended If You Like: unique characters, the beginnings of romance, strong female narrators, surprise solutions to mysteries

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:

Lana Lee is back working at her family's restaurant, but when their property manager is found dead after eating dumplings from said family restaurant, Lana finds herself embroiled in a mystery that forces her to question what she thought she knew about the place she calls home.

What I Liked:

Lana is a great, strong, funny, relatable  protagonist and narrator. She stands up for herself, but also tries to meet her family halfway, and refuses to give up on solving a mystery that directly affects her. She's surrounded by a unique cast of characters who all matter in some way to the story-her best friend is especially great.

And the (budding) romance! I was rooting so hard for Lana and a certain character (who I won't name so as not to spoil anything) to get together. I need the next book now so I can see their relationship develop.

It's also a great mystery. I honestly did not see the reveal of the murderer coming.

Anything I Didn't Like?

Honestly, this is a cozy mystery it's hard to find fault with. I just really enjoyed it and wanted to keep reading it.


This is a great first entry in a really promising cozy mystery series. I definitely recommend it.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: Daughters Unto Devils

Amanda Verner is happy to have her family leave their cramped cabin behind for the prospects of the prairie. She prays that this will be exactly what she needs to leave her old nightmares behind. But when they arrive at the abandoned cabin they hope to make home, it's to find it drenched in blood and surrounded by stories of families murdered by their own kin.

I'm here to tell you, this is one creepy book. It might not seem that scary at first, and that's what makes it such a good read. The creepiness creeps up on you. It's a brilliant slow build, made especially impressive by the fact that this is not a long book. Lukavics manages to draw you in from the start by letting you into Amanda's life and mind, then begins to drop little hints that all is not well. By the time the bigger scares hit me, I was reading with my hand over my mouth in shock, totally terrified and unable to stop turning pages. This one part with scarecrows (and that's all I will say so as not to spoil anything) still has the power to make me shudder, and I finished the book over twelve hours ago.

If you want a quick, scary read that you will not be able to put down and that will stay with you after you've turned the last page, I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of this one.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Review: Bad Girls Don't Die

This is one of those books that seems to have a lot of potential, but ends up disappointing. Alexis, the protagonist, has noticed her younger sister, Kasey, is acting stranger than usual. This leads to scary confrontations, intense research, and a lot of changes in Alexis' life.

One of the main issues I had with this book is how annoying I found Kasey, before, during, and after the "event" that the back of the book pretty clearly alludes to. I know I was supposed to have sympathized with her, but since she annoyed me from the very first pages of the story, I just couldn't.

Also, I've read a lot of books with similar themes, and they were better written, and better plotted. This book felt pretty juvenile, which a middle grade/young adult novel certainly does not need to be.

There were some parts that had potential, namely in the relationships Alexis forms outside of the ones with her family. But the story itself just wasn't good enough. The ending especially, given the many, many pages of plotting that had gone on beforehand, just seemed way too pat.

I was honestly very surprised to find out this book is the first in a trilogy. To me, it wasn't strong enough for one book, let alone three.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Review: Down the Aisle with Murder

Title: Down the Aisle with Murder
Author: Auralee Wallace
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended If You Like: Janet Evanovich, humor with your mystery, unique characters to root for

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:

Erica's friend Candace is getting married, but after a wild bachlorette party, Candace's maid of honor is found dead. Erica works to solve the case, make sure Candace has a wedding, and figure out where she stands with the love of her life.

What I Liked:

This is one of my absolute favorite cozy mystery series! I love the characters, I love the romance, I love the humor, and I love the mysteries. I've read every entry so far, and they never disappoint.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I wanted more Grady! I love him, and I love his relationship with Erica.


Start at the beginning of this series for sure, and I bet you will get hooked like I did!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Review: The Marmalade Murders

Title: The Marmalade Murders
Author: Elizabeth J. Duncan
Publication Date: April 24. 2018
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended If You Like: cozy mysteries, mysteries with food, mysteries set in a small town

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:

Penny is a spa owner who has solved quite a few mysteries, and has now been asked to help out at her town's agricultural show. But when something fishy happens with the entries, and a dead body is found, Penny finds herself drawn into the mystery.

What I Liked: 

The setting really is an integral part of the story. It's a place where they hold agricultural shows that the whole town attends, where marmalade competes with jam, and every child who enters the pet contest gets their own special ribbon. Duncan really makes the town come alive, which makes it even more of a shock when a corpse is found.

Anything I Didn't Like?

There were so many characters with so many connections that I did have a hard time keeping track of who was who.


While this isn't my favorite entry in the cozy mystery genre, it was still a fun read.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Review: I'll Be Gone in the Dark

I had been wanting to read this book since it first came out, and was so excited when my dad surprised me with a copy.

And then they caught The Golden State Killer.

I dropped every other book I was reading, and went straight for this one.

The research Michelle McNamara had done before she passed is so impeccable and in depth, and mixed in with her amazing writing style, has created a book that I could not put down. There was so much care that went into making sure the book was finished and published.

Reading this, knowing that The Golden State Killer has been caught, just added another layer. Seeing where so many instincts were spot on, and reading the epilogue addressed to the killer before he was caught, was incredible.

I definitely recommend this read.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Roundup!

I always love Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, and had a great time with it again this year! My total was four books, and the start of a fifth.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor 

Binti is traveling through the galaxy to reach Oomza University, a highly prestigious school she has been accepted to. But this means leaving her family behind to study with those who do not understand her. It also means coming into the middle of a frightening war, which will require her to call upon all her strengths to survive.

This is not a genre I normally read, but I'm definitely glad my dad and brother recommended this to me. Binti is a wonderfully strong character, and her story is absolutely one worth reading. I look forward to it continuing in the second and third books.

In Private Vegas, various stories intertwine, from two diplomats running amuck with their immunity, to the trial of one of Private's key investigators, to a man training women to marry rich and then kill. I always enjoy the Private series and Patterson's books, and while this wasn't one of the strongest entries (there was just a little too much going on), I still had a good time reading it.

This was a really great book that I'm so glad was published now. Gray draws from an extensive well of amazing women to help inspire all of us to join the fight for good. She provides immediate ways to start helping, as well as important discussions on terminology, privilege, and self-care. This is an important and highly topical read.

This was a creepy, well-done middle grade read. It surrounds three friends who have created an elaborate world of play with their imaginations, but one begins to pull away when his father and teammates tease him. But when a possible ghost enters their lives, the three friends must go on one more quest together.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Review: The Broken Girls

Title: The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Publication Date: March 20, 2018
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Suspense/Paranormal
Recommended If You Like: strong female characters, crimes from the past, boarding school mysteries, paranormal woven in with realism

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:

Idlewild Hall has never been a happy place. In the 1950's, it was a boarding school for girls whose families had deemed them unwanted. In the 1990's, it's grounds were the location for a murderer to dump the body of Deb Sheridan. In the 2000's, it is being restored, and Fiona Sheridan is drawn to both writing a story about it and trying to solve what truly happened to her sister. But as she delves deeper into the story, shocking revelations come to light about the past--and about the ghostly woman who has been appearing at Idlewild since its inception.

What I Liked:

I really liked this book! It hits some of my favorite things to read about-(multiple) mysteries from the past, and paranormal elements. There are so many strong female characters. And St. James really kept me guessing-I would think I had something figured out, and would then find out something that turned everything I thought I knew on its head. One of the big reveals by the end I had absolutely never seen coming.

Anything I Didn't Like?

Honestly, no. This was a great read.


This book manages to be a mystery grounded in reality that also has a fantastically creepy paranormal element. I definitely recommend this read.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Review: Life Inside My Mind

I feel like lately I have been on here raving about well-written books that honestly depict mental illness, books that have had me nodding my head and writing down quotes and feeling so much less alone with what I go through. This is a great trend in book publishing and one that has come at a time for me when I especially need it, something I think holds true for a lot of people.

Life Inside My Mind is a collection of essays by thirty-one authors who have personal experience with mental illness. They share their deeply personal stories, to let people know they are not alone, and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

The dedication reads:

This is an important. meaningful, and well-written read that I have been recommending to everyone. I whole-heartedly recommend it to all of you.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Vacation Mini Review Roundup!

I was just on Spring Break (and am leaving for New York tomorrow for my cousin's wedding) and got a lot of reading done! I didn't quite get to all the books I brought, but here's reviews for the ones I did :)

The Blind by A.F. Brady

A story about a troubled psychologist and her mysterious patient, this book was an okay read. I had trouble connecting with the characters, and while the plot was suspenseful enough to keep me turning pages, I was able to call a lot of the major twists.

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

The lines become blurred between fact and fiction when a writer finds herself and her husband as prime suspects in a case that strongly resembles the novel she is currently writing. I really enjoyed how the lines were so blurred that I would sometimes become confused whose story I was reading-it was a really effective technique given the main plot. There were also some good twists and turns that had me really surprised.

Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison

This book started out strong, with a note left by a wife to her husband, suggesting she just needs to get away for a few days. But there are secrets under the surface of what seemed like a perfect marriage, that slowly leak out. I really enjoyed the twists and turns that left me really surprised. But I felt the book felt a little too long, and the ending felt too pat and not in keeping with everything we had learned about the characters.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

I'm so glad I finally read this book I had heard everyone raving about. It definitely lived up to the hype for me. It's the story about a seemingly perfect marriage, with a slow build that is so creepy it made my skin crawl. The use of flashbacks is so effective in building suspense. There are so many authors trying to make this exact plot work, and Paris is definitely at the top of the list for authors who know how to work this story line the right way.

Soulmates by Jessica Grose

This book was centered around a clever idea, a woman who sees in the newspaper one day that her husband, who left her to join a mysterious spiritual retreat, has died in a possible murder suicide. She has always struggled to let his memory go, and now she feels the compulsion to find out just what happened to him, and to understand just who he was and what their relationship truly meant. But the ending kind of drove me crazy. I see where Grose was going with it, but it just didn't seem to fit, at least to me.

What have you been reading recently?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Review: The Perfect Nanny

This book is the definition of chilling. Slimani tells readers in the very first sentence exactly what the end of this story is going to be, but somehow manages to keep the suspense at both a slow burn and a fever pitch.

On the surface, this is the tale of a family who hires a nanny, Louise, when the mother goes back to work. They hire a nanny who their children love, who keeps their house clean and cooks meals their friends are envious of.

But all is not what it seems.

Slimani is masterful at ripping off the facade, of showing what it is that truly boils under the surface of a human being, especially one in a determined role of subservience. Louise is family, but she's not. She is loved, but she's not. Louise seems perfect, but she's not. Besides the chill of what you know is coming from sentence one, there is also the chill of the way the characters treat each other, the way humans can treat each other. And then there is a scene with a chicken carcass, and that's all I'm going to say about that so as not to spoil anything, but it just might be one of the eeriest, creepiest, most haunting things I've read in a long time.

This is a quick read, not just in length, but because this is a book that will not let you put it down.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mini Review: The Man From the Train

In The Man From the Train, James (with research assistance from McCarthy James), tackles the unsolved ax murders that shook America in the early to mid 1900s. Using his statistician background, James analyzes the crimes to prove they were part of a series, committed by one man, and then tells you who that one man was.

This is an amazing, fascinating, gripping read (I read the last 300 pages in one sitting). James' previous true crime book, Popular Crime, is one of my all-time favorites. He has a really unique take on true crime because of his mathematics background-but don't worry if you aren't a math person (I am not in any way a math person), because James' doesn't throw formulas at you. He uses his skills to analyze data and present a solution that no one has come up with before. James' also has this fantastically wry writer's style, that will have you giggling at times, even in the middle of a true crime book.

I would definitely, 100% recommend this book. And I would also 100% recommend that while you're picking this book up, get James' Popular Crime.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Mini Review: Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds

Nora Blackbird comes from old money, but that money is essentially gone thanks to her parents' indiscretions. Now she works as a society columnist, attending parties and fundraisers with the still-rich. And she's also possibly dating a man who may be a mobster--at least, his family are. Add in the wife of an ex-boyfriend being found dead at the bottom of a pool, and Nora's life has gotten plenty complicated.

This is such a fun cozy mystery. Martin's storytelling reminds me some of Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum series, outlandish characters that work so well, a tough-as-nails heroine juggling love and stopping criminals, and a great sense of humor pervading the mystery. I'm definitely going to be reading the rest of this series.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

One Goal: A Coach, A Team, And The Game That Brought A Divided Town Together

Full disclaimer first: The author of this book is my cousin. That said, I would have wanted to read this book regardless, and I would have loved it regardless. It's thought-provoking, uplifting, and inspiring, and a fascinating read.

One Goal tells the true story of a high school soccer team, where Somali refugees not only play alongside boys whose families can trace their Maine lineage back generations, but play as a band of brothers. They weather cruel words thrown at them by opposing teams' fans and by people who live in their own town, even by a mayor who asks that Somalis stop coming to "his town". Through all this, they are a team, who stick together, play together, and win together. They are led by Coach McGraw, who never gives up on them and loves them as his own, who inspires them to greater heights than they ever thought they could reach.

This is a book that is desperately needed today. In a time when there are so many divides between people, when there is once again a politician calling for refugees to stay away, we all need to be reminded that we are stronger together.

You will not be able to stop rooting for this high school team, and for the inspiring lesson they, and Bass, impart.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review: Into the Thinnest of Air

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: Into the Thinnest of Air
Author: Simon R. Green
Publication Date: March 1, 2018
Genre: Paranormal/Supernatural/Mystery
Recommended If You Like: a healthy dose of the paranormal and supernatural with your mystery, locked room mysteries, creepy country inns, local legends

The Book:

When Ishmael Jones' partner Penny is invited to the private reopening of a infamous inn, they learn of the legend behind it, that the previous owner poisoned all his dinner guests while his wife and child disappeared. But when people in the present start disappearing, what began as a dinner among old friends turns into a frightening and possibly supernatural locked room mystery.

What I Liked:

This is a creepy book with a lot of suspense. I'm always a sucker for a locked room mystery, especially one tinged with a horror aspect, and this story definitely delivers on that end. The ending also packs quite a punch, and is not one I saw coming.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I have to admit, I almost put this book down within the first two pages, because the strangeness factor behind the main character, Ishmael, just seemed so, to put it bluntly, weird. I hadn't known what the premise behind him was (and won't say it here to avoid spoilers), which is a good thing, because I wouldn't have picked up the book otherwise. It's not a bad or nasty thing, it's just not at all what I expected when I picked up a mystery.


I'm definitely glad I kept going with this book, because it ended up being so full of suspense, and horror aspects, and mystery. And that ending was really well-done. Get past the premise of the main character and you're in for a clever mystery.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Why Turtles All the Way Down Means So Much to Me

There are times when you pick up a book at the exact time you need it. This was one of those times, and this was one of those books.

In John Green's Turtles All the Way Down, we meet Aza, a sixteen year old consumed by anxiety and obsessive compulsive thoughts, feeling forced by her own brain to focus on the bacteria that surround her and the bacteria she knows are inside her, an absolute all-consuming compulsion that compels her to reopen a cut on her fingerpad over and over to make sure it is clean and not infected.

When a billionaire goes missing, on the run because of shady things he's done with his money, Aza finds herself and her best friend drawn into the mystery, because of the reward, but also because of Aza's past connection with the fugitive's son, Davis. As Aza is drawn into the seemingly infinite and and completely overwhelming spirals of her own mind, she struggles to hold onto herself and the relationships she has formed.

Aza is so so painfully and amazingly real. Green has done a masterful and important thing by making her the first person narrator of her own story. I needed and need Aza, as I am sure so many readers did and do. I picked this book up not only because of glowing recommendations from people I care about, but also because I needed it. I am in the midst of my own work on my own anxiety disorder and depression, especially following the loss of my beloved dog, and while it is nowhere near where Aza finds herself, there is still so much in the book I could relate to, so much I needed to hear put into words. Green understands it so well because he's been there, and is still there, and this allows him to write with such honesty. He tells a story that needs to be told, because it makes all of us out there who can relate feel and know we are not alone. And that there is nothing to be ashamed of, no need to hide--a best-selling author has put out a best-selling book that tells our truth--and who we are is important, and valid, and makes us no less than anyone around us.

It is so rare to find a book that you keep nodding your head along to, that you feel every word in your heart, that resonates so strongly, and that makes you feel uplifted in your soul. This was one of those books for me. I recommend it with my whole heart, and with my spiraling, but beautiful, mind.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Review: Grit

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.

This book is a bit of an enigma to me. Not much really happens, but yet it's interesting enough to keep me reading.

In Grit, we meet Darcy, who everyone in town loves to spread rumors about and call the "town slut". But she's fine hiding behind the gossip so she doesn't have to think about the truth-what happened to her cousin Nell, her missing best friend, and herself, on the Fourth of July. Then someone nominates Darcy for Bay Festival Princess, and she can't hide anymore.

This book moves around through Darcy's everyday life, raking berries during the summer to try to earn extra cash, spending time with her family, interacting with boys and friends. But while on the surface it seems like a story that is meandering around, knowing that there is so much simmering under the surface kept me turning pages. French drops lots of small, almost hidden, hints that add up to subtle foreshadowing about what is to come, and there's this overarching sense of depressing dread that makes this book so atmospheric.

I don't see myself rushing out to read more of French's work, simply because there are so many other books in this genre that are already demanding my attention. But if you are looking for a quick, highly atmospheric almost haunting read, with a slow build and some real emotional punches, this would be a good one to pick up.