Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Review: The Furies



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 Furies
Author: Katie Lowe
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Genre: Thriller/Supernatural
Recommended If You Like: exploration of the power and dynamics of female friendships, spells, women as viewed in ancient and modern times, the power of the past, stories centered around schools

The Book:

Violet, a teenage girl with a tragic past, is a new student at Elm Hollow Academy. She has no close friends until her art teacher, Annabel offers her to chance to join a special small study group. There she befriends Robin, Alex, and Grace, and grows almost obsessively close with Robin, whose former best friend disappeared the year before.

But as Violet learns more about the school's past, and the past of her new friends, she finds herself drawn into the world of The Furies, full of revenge, ancient spells, and deadly consequences.

What I Liked About the Book:

The book opens with a bang, the reader already being told that one of the teenage characters dies, having been found on a swing in a white dress with no indication of what (or who) killed her. We have no idea which character it is, or what happened, but we are immediately thrust into the story with Violet, our narrator. This builds up so much suspense and makes you have to keep turning pages.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I just wanted to shake all the characters, especially Violet, and tell them just to stop doing what they're doing. I also didn't really like any of the characters, which seemed like the point, but I tend to struggle with books like that.

The very last few pages also just didn't work for me. That last-minute plot development didn't really seem to fit with what came before.

So...?

I liked this book, but didn't love it like I was hoping I would. It's a creepy, eerie, suspenseful read, but it can get confusing, and the characters are so hard to like.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Mini Reviews: Small Spaces, and A Cup of Holiday Fear

I received ARCs of these books from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews. This did not affect my opinions of the books or my reviews itself.


I'm definitely a fan of the Ellie Alexander Bakeshop Mysteries, and this was another great entry. Jules Capshaw is once again a strong and likable protagonist surrounded by a unique cast of characters. This time, she must tackle a murder that threatens to disrupt a beautiful small town Christmas and all its traditions. 


Small Spaces

This is a well-done creepy read that is age-appropriate for middle school readers, but still enjoyable for adults as well. It features three students who only peripherally know each other, but must band together when they find themselves in an unexpected spooky situation on what should have been a typical school field trip. There are a lot of good scares, and the characters are ones you definitely root for. 


Friday, September 6, 2019

Review: The Long Call


I received a 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 Long Call
Author: Ann Cleeves
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Genre: Psychological Mystery
Recommended If You Like: detectives with complicated pasts, mysteries with multiple threads, secrets from the past, close-knit communities

The Book:

When a body is found on a beach in North Devon, Detective Matthew Venn catches the case. Fresh from his father's funeral, a service he was only able to watch from afar due to his break from a close-knit religious community, Venn finds himself once again drawn into his past life as he works to solve the crime.

What I Liked:

Matthew Venn is a great character. He's got a complicated past and an interesting present, and is passionate about his work. Cleeves has surrounded him with equally interesting supporting characters, from ones who will clearly be reoccurring in future books in the series, to one time only men and women who are provided just as equally fascinating backstories and lives.

The mystery was a really good one as well. It was just complex and complicated enough where I didn't see the ending coming, but I was still able to follow all the threads and understand everything.

Anything I Didn't Like? 

There wasn't anything not to like about this book. It was a read that absolutely flew by.

So...?

I'm really excited for this new series, and am very much looking forward to the next entry!


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Review: The Warehouse


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 Warehouse
Author: Rob Hart
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller
Recommended If You Like: biting social satire, commentary on the world through fiction, fiction dancing on the edge of dystopia

The Book:

In the future, Cloud is the biggest tech company around. No one has to leave their house ever again to get quite literally anything and everything they need, a choice most people take after the cryptically referred to "Black Friday Massacres".

Outside Cloud's facilities, the world isn't doing so well. Inside Cloud's facilities, people like Paxton and Zinnia find jobs, air conditioning, beds, and clean water- a situation most people would give anything for. But Paxton and Zinnia had different intentions when they arrived, intentions that may change as they take in the truth of the world they are now a part of.

What I Liked:

This is a chillingly contemporary read. It feels like Hart's prophecy of the future. There are so many little details that just raised the goosebumps on my arms.

The characters are written well, and I really liked how they developed throughout the story, sometimes taking a far left turn from where I thought they were going. There are a lot of twists that really surprised me.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I wish the twists had been spread out a little bit more. The ending felt a little rushed because so much was going on at one time.

So...?

Hart has created a terrifyingly timely read. At times it felt like reading a really subtle horror story. I can absolutely see this book becoming a popular one.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Review: Terns of Endearment



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

Title: Terns of Endearment
Author: Donna Andrews
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended If You Like: nature facts, family-centered mysteries, the killer is one of us

The Book:

Meg and her family are on a cruise to support her grandfather, a renowned nature expert, as he gives nightly talks to the passengers. But suddenly they find themselves stranded near the Bermuda Triangle on a broken-down cruise ship, told a passenger is overboard, and quickly realizing the killer must be somewhere on board.

What I Liked:

Meg and her family are really fun characters, with a lot of spirit and unique personalities. Andrews has included some great humor moments among the family members and the other passengers.

I also love the killer is among us trope, and I love that Andrews set her cozy mystery on a stranded cruise ship. The ending was surprising as well.

Anything I Didn't Like?

There always seemed to magically be a character who could fulfill whatever role (no matter how out there) that was needed at the moment. This seemed pretty contrived.

So...?

This was a fun, funny book with a clever mystery. Andrews' provided a fun escapist read perfect for summer.

Monday, July 29, 2019

ARC Review: The Escape Room



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 Escape Room
Author: Megan Goldin
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Genre: Thriller
Recommended If You Like: escape room puzzles, people trapped together spilling secrets, thrillers surrounding the financial world

The Book:

Four financiers think they've been summoned to an empty building for a mandatory team-building session, an escape room challenge that will prove which one of them deserves to keep their job in the midst of layoffs. But when the elevator doors close and the clues begin, they soon realize they are trapped in something far more life-threatening, with ties to secrets they've tried hard to smother.

What I Liked:

I love the concept behind this, an escape room that isn't all it seems to be. This definitely creates a lot of suspense, both with the characters trapped inside trying to figure their way out, and with the reader trying to figure out along with them who could be behind it all. The end of the book was really shocking as well.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I didn't find the financial world aspect of it particularly interesting. This wasn't the fault of the book at all-I know how important a part of the story this aspect is-it's just a personal preference of mine.

So...?

The only reason I didn't love this book as much as I had hoped to was because I wasn't super interested in the world the characters' lives revolved around. The suspense and thriller aspects are very much on point and the concept plays out really well.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

Review: Never Have I Ever




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: Never Have I Ever
Author: Joshilyn Jackson
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Suspense
Recommended If You Like: twisted female friendships, secrets from the past, lies behind perfect facades

The Book:

Amy Whey seems to be living the perfect domestic existence-a big and beautiful house, a loving husband and children, and a a best friend to take walks and have book club with.

But then Angelica Roux shows up at her front door.

It starts with a seemingly simple twist on the drinking game Never Have I Ever, with the book club members confessing the worst things they've ever done. Amy won't play, but Roux insists, saying she knows the worst thing Amy has ever done-and she's prepared to use it against her if Amy doesn't do what she wants.

What I Liked:

This is a book with a lot of suspenseful moments that Jackson layers really well. Her writing style draws you in from the first chapter, linking you with Amy's world and what is happening to it. Roux is frightening trouble from the start, and from her very first entrance she makes your skin crawl.

There are so many surprising twists, with one about three quarters of the way through that completely shocked me. Just when I thought I knew what was happening, Jackson would fool me again.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I had thought that Jackson had given away too much by the second chapter, and that put me off a little bit, but I was completely wrong. There was so much still to reveal.

So...?

I would definitely recommend this book. I can see why there has been so much hype around it before it even comes out. Jackson has created a surprising, and sometimes scary, read that feels real, and that will keep you turning pages late into the night.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

ARC Review: The Turn of the Key



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 Turn of the Key
Author: Ruth Ware
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Suspense, Gothic
Recommended If You Like: modern twists on gothic tales, slow-burning dread, eerie isolated houses, anything else Ruth Ware has written

The Book:

Rowan couldn't resist the nanny position that came with a high salary and benefits. She thought living in a modern day mansion run by smart technology could be the fulfillment of her dreams.

But in her dreams, she never imagined she would find herself in prison, accused of murdering a child.

Told in letters to her lawyer, Rowan's story is one of days and nights in an isolated house, full of mysterious noises and terrifying incidents and children who fight her every move. Rowan insists she is innocent, but is she blaming ghosts, or is there someone else out there who brought more death to the home?

What I Liked:

This is another amazing book from Ware. She is so good at taking classic mystery situations that I've always loved and adding her own (brilliantly written) spin to them. There were so many twists and turns that were impossible to guess, but made sense looking back. I was never quite sure what was truly going on and the story kept me constantly on my toes.

Also, this was one creepy read. I've always loved gothic horror, and Ware integrates it so well. There is this slow building dread that stays with you through every sentence.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I loved this book, there was nothing not to like.

So...?

As soon as this book comes out, I highly recommend everyone go out and get their hands on a copy. I hope so much that Ware continues to write for many, many more years to come.


Monday, July 22, 2019

ARC Review: And Then There Were Crumbs



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: And Then There Were Crumbs
Author: Eve Calder
Publication Date: July 30th, 2019
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended If You Like: sweet cozy mysteries, communities coming together, small town settings, baking-centered mysteries, strong female characters

The Book:

Kate McGuire has no fiance, no job, and no future in New York. So the pastry chef packs up what's left of her life and heads to Coral Cay, Florida, to try to start over.

Once there, she finds a job at the local bakery, owned by Sam, a man who seems to have lost his spark. But when her new boss finds himself accused of murder, Kate and her newfound community of friends must work together to not only save Sam but the bakery as well.

What I Liked:

This book just felt like the definition of cozy mystery to me-full of wonderful characters who form their own family, a setting that comes alive, a hobby/job that is integrated into the story, and a satisfying mystery with a surprising ending. Kate is a great strong lead, and Calder has surrounded her with a supporting cast of colorful, unique characters that I immediately fell in love with.

Anything I Didn't Like?

There really wasn't anything not to like about this book!

So...

This was one of those cozy mysteries where everything just worked. It's a cozy warm hug of a book, an enjoyable read that will leave you feeling happy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Review: A Stranger on the Beach



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: A Stranger on the Beach
Author: Michele Campbell
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Genre: Psychological Suspense/Thriller
Recommended If You Like: dueling narration, unreliable narrators, obsessive attraction

The Book:

Caroline Stark's dreams appear to be falling apart-her opulent beach house has been the scene of a very public fight between her and her husband, in front of all their friends and future clients. Despondent, Caroline sleeps with the local bartender, Aidan, a stranger she saw staring at her home from the sand. But the one night stand means so much more to Aidan, and his feelings quickly grow into obsession.

What I Liked:

There is definitely a lot of suspense to this book. Events keep building and building to create a real sense of terror. The story kept me feeling off-kilter in a positive way, where I never was entirely sure what was truly going on, especially with the dueling narrations of Caroline and Aidan. The twist at the end really surprised me as well.

Anything I Didn't Like?

While the twist at the end was surprising, once it was revealed much of what had already happened in the book didn't make much sense. The characterization felt a little heavy as well-there was a lot of repetition as opposed to development.

So...?

While I enjoyed this book, I didn't feel it lived up to the hype surrounding it. This was a good thriller, with a surprising twist and some real suspense, but I've read better in this genre.


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Review: The Last



I'm not typically drawn to dystopian fiction-I'm much more into mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and true crime, and to be honest don't usually venture too far out of my genre comfort zones-but The Last was described as being Agatha Christie-like, so I had to try it. And I'm so glad I did.

I blazed through this book in less than two days, I absolutely could not put it down. It is centered around a group of guests and staff at a hotel, who find themselves thrust together among reports of nuclear attacks around the world. Life as they knew it is over, and they must learn to live together, and somehow survive.

On top of this, the narrator (a historian, which works really well as he documents each day), has found the body of a young girl in a water tank (shades of Elise Lam and the Cecil Hotel-the hotel is also clearly based off of the Cecil), and is determined to discover who killed her-and if the murderer is still at the hotel.

Everything about this book is so gripping, from the characters and their relationships, to the danger, to the mysteries. This is a book that sticks with you after you finish it. I would definitely recommend this book, even if it doesn't seem like something you would typically read.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Review: The Hiding Place



This was a good book.

Typically this would be a positive thing, to have read a good book. And this being a good book, I did enjoy reading it.

But I was also definitely disappointed. I had such high expectations for this book, because of how much I loved Tudor's first book The Chalk Man. The Chalk Man was one of my favorite books of the year when I first read it.

The Hiding Place had so many of the qualities that made The Chalk Man so great-suspense, mystery, twists, secrets from the past, and horror. It tells the story of a man who returns to the small town he grew up in, a town where his sister disappeared, reappeared, and died. Now whatever terrible thing happened back then seems to be happening again, all connected to a horror from the past that refuses to stay buried.

The supernatural elements just do not work in this book, however. They seem unexplained and unresolved, and not as well integrated as I would have liked. This kept taking me out of the story, which was suspenseful and scary enough on its own without the supernatural elements.

From many other authors, a good book would have left me happy and content. But I just wanted so much more from Tudor's second story. I've got my fingers crossed about the third.

Monday, June 24, 2019

ARC Review: Killer in the Carriage 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: Killer in the Carriage House
Author: Sheila Connolly
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Recommended If You Like: history, research, small town setting

The Book:

Kate Hamilton has returned to the small town she grew up in an attempt to save it from complete bankruptcy and thus essential extinction. She comes up with a plan to take the town back in time and turn it into a Victorian village for tourists to visit. But on top of all the usual hurdles, Kate also must deal with a dead body, boxes of documents, and the possibility of romance.

What I Liked:

Small town settings typically work really well for cozy mysteries, and the town of Asheboro is a good fit for the story being told. Having a small town for a setting also keeps the action in one place, meaning all kinds of people must interact and the suspect list is centralized.

Connolly has a really nice writing style for this genre. It's light enough for a cozy, but able to handle the darkness of a murder mystery.

Anything I Didn't Like?

Unfortunately, there was a lot I didn't like about this book.

The main problem for me is it's a mystery where the actual mystery doesn't start until over a quarter of the way into the book. And even when the mystery does start, it feels like it's essentially a last-minute addition to the book. The story is far more centered around historical research than the murder, and the solution to the murder feels like a throwaway afterthought.

While I know this is an ARC, and thus not a finished work, there were a ton of really glaring typos, including a whole chapter repeated (the beginning of the chapter was changed to present a different scenario, but then the rest of the chapter was completely duplicated as a new chapter). This was really distracting and took me out of the story.

So...?

I've enjoyed other of Connolly's cozy mysteries, so I'm not sure what happened with this one, but I definitely wouldn't recommend it.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Review: Bad Axe County


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: Bad Axe County
Author: John Galligan
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Genre: Mystery
Recommended If You Like: gritty dark mysteries, small town settings, strong female protagonists

The Book:

Heidi Kick was Dairy Queen when she found out her parents were dead. Convinced it wasn't a murder-suicide, she tried to find the truth, and hasn't stopped now that she is interim sheriff in the small town she grew up in. As she digs deeper into the underbelly of Bad Axe County, Heidi comes up against opposition from every turn, and discovers secrets she may wish she had never uncovered.

What I Liked:

This book really flew by. There was a lot of suspense, and many twists and turns. Heidi Kick is a great protagonist, strong and complicated, and the characters she is surrounded with have layers and darkness inside them all.

Anything I Didn't Like?

This book was a lot gritter than I am normally drawn to. It was pretty much all dark with no light, and had some really hard subjects to stomach.

So...?

While I don't think I would read any more of Galligan's work, it's not because this book wasn't good. It was just too dark and gritty for my tastes.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Review: We Went to the Woods


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: We Went to the Woods
Author: Caite Dolan-Leach
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publication Date: July 2, 2019
Recommended If You Like: outsider communities, intricate looks at relationships and friendships, environmental issues, a sense of foreboding

The Book:

Our narrator, Mack, is coming off a stint on a reality show that has left America hating her. Desperate to find a fresh start, she is swept up into the idea of The Homestead, an off the grid living community made up of four young adults she has recently become involved with.

Determined to become entirely self-sustaining, so as to fight against capitalism and the environmental disasters they feel are imminent, the five strive to create their own Utopia. But as Mack does research on other such communities, she begins to realize that despite their best intentions, they are all, in the end, only human.

What I Liked:

I love a book that is both smart and accessible. Dolan-Leach has a lot to say, but it never feels preachy. Both sides of all the issues are shown in all their beauty and ugliness.

These are some believably complicated characters as well, all thinking they are doing what is best for the world, but still driven by human desires and foibles.

There is also this amazing sense of foreboding hanging over the whole book. From the start, Mack lets the readers know something is going to happen, something she feels she should have seen coming. And whether it's what Mack did on the reality show, what happened to the Oneida community that was there before The Homestead, or what is truly going on at The Collective, a large and seemingly thriving self-sustaining community nearby, there are so many twists and surprises.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I thought I might struggle through the parts about growing vegetables or Utopian philosophy, but Dolan-Leach weaves everything together so well that nothing felt difficult or boring to read.

There were a few parts with animals I struggled with, but that's because it made me really sad what happened to the animals, not because those parts weren't well-written or didn't fit into the narrative.

So...?

I would definitely recommend this book. It feels almost like a trend now to say a book is like The Secret History (a book I absolutely love), but I can definitely see really positive similarities in the ways Dolan-Leach explores the concepts of intelligence, communities, relationships, and intentions.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Review: The Last Time I Saw You



The Last Time I Saw You centers around Kate, whose mother Lily has just been murdered, and Kate's former best friend Blaire, who has returned to her grieving friend's side after many years of estrangement. As Blaire and Kate regain their previous closeness, Blaire becomes determined to find out just who killed Lily, while Kate tries to keep her sanity as her life is threatened by an unknown source.

The story is very suspenseful, which is absolutely a plus. This is a book that took me very little time to read, because I had to find out what the next twist and reveal would be.

But, while the two sisters writing together under one name worked so well with The Last Mrs. Parrish (a book that has still stuck with me even having read it almost a year ago) and the different viewpoints within that story, it did not work as well here. The character reveals seemed to come out of left field, and by the end it felt like so many of the characters had just had personalities and beliefs completely shifted to fit the story. This was a book that felt like it was written by two different people and suffered from it, feeling disjointed and disconnected.

The Last Time I Saw You was a book that absolutely captured my attention and kept me hooked (I was stalling while leaving the cafe just so I could read the last few pages), but definitely didn't live up to the promise shown in The Last Mrs. Parrish. I'm hoping the next book goes back to how great the first was.




Saturday, June 8, 2019

Review: The Never Game


Deaver's Lincoln and Rhymes series has always been a favorite of mine, ever since I read The Bone Collector. I will freely admit that every time he comes out with a new book, I'm always hoping it will be another book featuring those two characters I love so much.

But after reading The Never Game, I am thrilled he has introduced the new character of Colter Shaw.

Shaw is a tracker, raised by his survivalist father in the wilderness, his childhood full of rules and lessons on how to stay alive. Now he uses his skills to solve cases where rewards are offered. earning his living while helping others.

When a young woman gets kidnapped, Shaw takes the case. As he works to find her, he discovers the case is far bigger and reaches much further than he could have imagined. Another kidnapping leads Shaw to the world of The Whisper Man, a video game where players are abandoned in an isolated spot with only five objects to help them survive.

Entering a world entirely new to him, full of gamers and new technology, Shaw must figure out why someone would be so inspired by a game as to kidnap and kill.

The story is really clever, and I love the creepiness of the fictional game and the way it is integrated. There is a great twist towards the end that actually made me gasp out loud, which is always a positive for me. And Shaw is a really enjoyable and intriguing new character, with a mystery in his own past that I look forward to learning more about in future books.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Review: Man of the Year



Title: Man of the Year
Author: Caroline Louise Walker
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Genre: Psychological
Recommended If You Like: family dramas, male narrators interspersed with female narrators, complicated relationships

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:

Dr. Robert Hart seems to have the perfect life. He's even just been named Man of the Year for Sag Harbor. But when he takes in his son's best friend, Dr. Hart begins to see that there are cracks in the world he's built.

What I Liked:

This book kept me turning pages. From the start, I could tell that something big was going to happen, and Walker had me wanting to find out more.

There were also some great twists near the end that really surprised me, something I always appreciate. I really like when the author makes me rethink all of what I've read in the book before.

I thought it was a really clever decision to have the book interspersed with chapters from the women's points of view. This broke up what could have felt like a monologue from Dr. Hart, and provided important insight into the story.

Anything I Didn't Like?

The last chapter really bugged me. I didn't feel it was necessary, and rather than adding another twist, I felt it took away from the power behind the twists that had already come-and it made things a little confusing.

I also found the characters as a whole really unlikable. I think this was the point, but it stopped me from being as invested in the book as I would have liked.

So...?

This was a good book with potential to be a great one. There were some choices that just didn't work for me.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Review: We Were Killers Once



Title: We Were Killers Once
Author: Becky Masterman
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Genre: Suspense
Recommended If You Like: fiction centered around real crimes, strong female heroines

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:

Everyone thinks they know the true story behind the Clutter family murders, thanks to Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. No one is entirely sure what happened when the Walker family was murdered, but some think there is a connection between the two crimes.

In this fictional look at the murders, Brigid Quinn, a former FBI agent now married to a former priest, finds her world infiltrated by a man who just may have been the unknown and unsuspected third person who participated in the Clutter murders.

What I Liked: 

In Cold Blood is an amazing true crime book, so I was really intrigued by the idea of a fictional take on it. This is definitely a unique take on a well-established crime, and I really like that Masterman went for something brave and bold.

Anything I Didn't Like?

Unfortunately, this wasn't a very well-written book. The characters felt very flat, and there wasn't a lot of suspense to the story.

So...?

I sadly can't really recommend this book. Read the original In Cold Blood instead.


Friday, May 31, 2019

2019 Reading Assignment Challenge: Summer Semester



Professor AuthorLuv

Professor AuthorLuv used to have her own school, where her students we're required to pick a favorite author and commit to reading all their books over the course of a year (aka The AuthorLuv Challenge). She's decided to make her life a little easier and just host some classes here instead. She still wants you to pick a favorite author and commit to reading a certain number of books by that author each month, but she's letting you set your number based on the level course you sign up for. 

Beginner Class: My chosen author is Ngaio Marsh

Professor Genre

Professor Genre is all about choosing a genre/theme. For his classes you'll commit to reading a certain number of books from one genre each month. Choose your level course to sign up for the number of books you'll read each month.

Intermediate Class: My chosen genre is non-fiction

Professor Mix-It-Up

Professor Mix-It-Up wants you to have the freedom to mix-it-up. For her courses you'll commit to reading a certain number of books from a list that you create in the first month of the course. She's giving you a lot of freedom; The books can be any genre, any author, any format!

Beginner Class: My list is: The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz and The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Review: The Mother-in-Law



Title: The Mother-in-Law
Author: Sally Hepworth
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Publication Date: April 23, 2019
Recommended If You Like: character-driven suspense, family stories, surprising plot twists, good use of flashbacks

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:

Lucy has always wanted to be loved by her mother-in-law, but has never been able to reach that point with Diana, and now it is too late. Diana is dead, having left a suicide note behind, blaming her death on the cancer it now turns out she never had. When the police suspect it's a homicide, Lucy and the rest of their family must look back on Diana's life and her death to find the truth.

The Good:

I could not put this book down. This year is already full of great family-driven psychological thrillers and suspense, and this book adds to that.

The characters are really well-developed. Hepworth does a great job of playing around with the idea of trope characters that, in her hands, subvert expectations, upping the suspense and surprises.

Plus, the ending left me completely surprised. I really loved how what I thought I knew wasn't true at all-I always appreciate a book that can truly have a conclusion I don't see coming.

Anything I Didn't Like?

There really wasn't anything not to like about this book. It more than met my expectations based on all the raving I had been hearing about it.

So...?

I would definitely recommend this book. This is a gripping, quick, highly suspenseful and surprising story.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

COYER Summer Hunt Reading Challenge!



Here's where I will be keeping track of my progress on the treasure hunt!

ARC Reviews: The Night Before, The Invited, Burn Baby Burn

I received ARCs of these books from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews. This did not affect my opinions of the books or the reviews themselves.


When I started this book, I was immediately hooked. The story is centered around two sisters, one of whom has deep secrets in her past that may have come back into play, as she doesn't return home after a first date. Her sister is determined to find her, and through flashbacks and two POVs, the readers are there along with the characters, learning just enough information to keep the suspense high.

This book was so suspenseful. Walkers is an expert at dropping little hints as to what is going on. The reveals were all completely shocking and I didn't see a single one coming. I highly recommend this book.


I am a huge fan of McMahon's books. I have read every one, and own almost all of them. I go back to them for re reads. I was very excited about this new release, which centers around a couple building their dream home, from materials that are somehow connected to terrible deaths of women from a famous local family.

While I did enjoy this book, I unfortunately didn't love it as much as I have loved McMahon's previous books. I love the way she integrates the supernatural and paranormal with mystery and psychological thrills, and the stories surrounding the women were absolutely fascinating. But these same paranormal aspects began to feel somewhat cheesy towards the end of the book. I was also able to guess the big reveal a chapter before it happened.

This was a good read, but not a great one as McMahon's other books have been for me. If you are a reader new to McMahon, start with her older books before you try this one.


Always intrigued by a fiction book that integrates a true crime, I was interested in this book from the start, and it did not disappoint. Medina has authored a well-written book that managed to both break my heart (some parts were very difficult to read, but also brought to light a very important issue) and uplift me.

Told through the eyes of a young woman named Nora, readers are brought straight into her difficult world, lightened only by her friends and a young man who enters her life. Also impacting her story is the real-life shootings committed by the Son of Sam, who caused fear among all young women in New York at the time this book is set in. This is a smart, well-written, emotional book that I would recommend.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Review Roundup: All the Wrong Places, Guess Who, and The Silent Patient

So sorry I've been gone from this blog for so long-I moved to a new apartment, and then didn't have wireless for two weeks, so haven't been able to update. But my wireless finally got installed today!

Here are some of the books I've read since I last updated:


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 was one of those books where I kept turning pages, but I'm honestly not sure why. At various points, I would consider giving it a DNF, but something I still can't identify kept me reading.

I just had a lot of problems with this book. First, I didn't really like any of the characters, or care about them. I know there were some I was supposed to love and some I was supposed to hate, but I just felt blah towards all of them.

Also, there was barely any mystery or suspense of thrills. There were so many side plots, all full of supposed drama, and when the suspense finally came, it was so rushed. The end twist was a good one, but I saw it coming a few chapters away.

Sadly, I just can't recommend this one. I'm still not sure why I took the time to finish it.


This was a book I bought when it first came out because it checked two of my absolute favorite boxes-locked room mystery and killer among us. It is centered around a man who became famous for solving a mystery in  his childhood, who is now as an adult locked in a room and forced to figure out who is the killer before they all die.

I definitely enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down. I loved all the twists and turns, and was genuinely shocked at the majority of them. The ending left me feeling a little let down, it just seemed to be lacking a little something. But I would still recommend this read.


I had waited over two months to get my copy of this from the library (extremely long waitlist!), and luckily, my wait for this highly hyped book was worth it. After a woman shoots her husband, she refuses to speak a word. A highly determined therapist attempts to get through to her, and secrets are revealed even through the silence.

This book had me turning pages so fast! This was such a suspenseful thriller, with twist after twist being revealed, and that final twist was incredible!

I'm always so happy when a much-hyped book does live up to the hype, and this book did not disappoint.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Review: A Dangerous Collaboration



Title: A Dangerous Collaboration
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Genre: Mystery
Recommended If You Like: strong female characters, male and female detective duos, secluded island settings, mysteries from the past

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:

Veronica and Stoker find themselves as houseguests on an island owned by Malcolm Romilly, whose bride Rosamund disappeared after they said their vows. Now Romilly has reunited everyone who was there that fateful day, and Veronica and Stoker must find the murderer before the murderer finds them.

What I Liked:

This was such a fun book! Veronica and Stoker are fantastic characters, who were surrounded by a strong and unique supporting cast. There were so many revelations, twists, and turns, and I loved the use of the isolated island to up the tension level. I also didn't see the solution to the mystery coming at all, which is always fun.

Anything I Didn't Like?

Honestly, there wasn't anything not to like. This book just flew by, and was so much fun to read.

So...?

I will definitely be needing to read the rest of this series!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Review: Between the Lies



Title: Between the Lies
Author: Michelle Adams
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Recommended If You Like: amnesia mysteries, family drama

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:

Chloe Daniels finds herself surrounded by her parents and sister after waking up from a car accident with no memory. Feeling literally trapped in her childhood home, her attempts to regain her memory begin to open doors to secrets her family would rather she forget.

What I Liked:

I'm always intrigued by a book with a premise like this, where there are secrets from the past that the protagonist can only discover through finding their own clues and putting them together. Plus, there were a lot of twists.

Anything I Didn't Like?

Unfortunately, this was another meh psychological suspense book for me. I saw the big twist coming from before the halfway point of the book. Most of the main characters were highly unlikable, and the narrator came across as unfortunately pretty boring. The random italicized chapters from a "mystery" character's point of view were poorly written and took me out of the book.

So...?

This was another book I really did want to like, with an intriguing premise in a genre I tend to love. But I unfortunately cannot recommend this. I kept reading until I finished, hoping I would be surprised, but I was left unimpressed. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle



I had been wanting to read this book since I first heard about it. It took months to get a copy through the library, as the hold list was so long due to the hype being so big.

Luckily, Turton's extremely popular read did not disappoint.

This is a brilliantly original book that kept me guessing the whole time. Aiden Bishop is caught in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over, each day in a different host body. He won't be freed to live the next day until he identifies the murderer of Evelyn Hardcastle, an unsolved crime.

I will admit, sometimes this book had me confused-and I'm still a little uncertain about how some of the timeline angles worked. But I couldn't put this book down. To be honest, I just shrugged the confusion off, because the story was so brilliant, and I had to know the ending. The ending was amazing, but every other twist and turn was too.

I would definitely recommend this book. Know you may be left a little confused by some of the time aspects, but also know that this book is so good that it's worth turning those pages. In fact, you won't be able to help turning page after page.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Review: The Last Woman in the Forest



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.

I'm left not knowing how I feel about this book.

On the one hand, it was definitely suspenseful. When I was about 25% from the end, I had to sit down and just keep reading so I could find out the ending.

On the other hand, the long-sometimes paragraph long-run on sentences drove me crazy. The whole book was full of them, to the point that I almost stopped reading about 10% in. I also had a similar problem to the one I had with The Abominable, where so much of the book was focused on the main character's job-in this case, being a dog handler for wilderness studies-that I just wanted more of the mystery.

The author has a personal stake in this book which is really powerful, and she clearly did her research on the main character's job. I just really wanted to like this book so much more than I did. The writing style makes me think I won't be seeking out any more of Les Becquets' books.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review: The Cheerleaders



In The Cheerleaders, the book alternates between past and present, telling the tale of why there are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook. Years ago, five cheerleaders died, in a car crash, murdered, and through suicide, and the school disbanded the cheerleading team permanently. In the present, one of the cheerleaders' sisters is determined to find out what truly happened, as she discovers mysterious notes, cell phones, and connections she never knew about.

I really enjoyed this book, just as I really enjoyed Thomas' The Darkest Corners (and have just put her Little Monsters on hold at the library). There is so much suspense, and so many red herrings and twists and turns. The ending left me absolutely shocked, which I love-I didn't guess any of the answers or twists.

This is a quick, gripping read that will keep you guessing, and I definitely recommend picking up a copy.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Review: The Winter Sister



Title: The Winter Sister
Author: Megan Collins
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Genre: Psychological Suspense/Mystery
Recommended If You Like: family stories, secrets from the past coming to light

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

The Book:

Sylvie's sister was murdered sixteen years ago, and the murderer has never been brought to justice. Forced to return to her hometown by her estranged mother's cancer diagnosis, Sylvie finds herself brought back into contact with her sister's ex-boyfriend, who she always believed guilty of the crime. But Sylvie is dealing with guilt of her own, and her presence begins to bring out dangerous secrets from the past.

What I Liked:

Sylvie is a very compelling character you can't help but feel for, and Collins explores her family dynamics and drama in a very realistic and sometimes heartbreaking way. This book feels real, like it could be a real case I was reading articles about.

The mystery is very suspenseful, and I did not guess who the murderer was at all. I love when a book can surprise me like that.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I did call one of the major twists about halfway through, which did lessen the surprise and suspense somewhat, though it did not lessen my enjoyment of the book.

So...?

I would recommend this book. It's compelling, well-written, and the mystery is mixed really well with an exploration of the dynamics of troubled and broken families.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Reviews: Changeling and The Abominable


This is (at least at this point, I'm hoping for more!) the final book in the Six Stories series. I have been devouring this series, to the point where I had to buy this on Kindle (which I never do-oh, tight budget) when my entire library system and interlibrary loan didn't have a copy. 

This book looks at the mysterious disappearance of a young boy in woods that may be haunted. Wesolowski plays with the reader's mind so well-is the cause supernatural? Is the cause human? And then, like the other two books, everything gets expertly and incredibly turned on its head in the last chapter. This was the first one in the series where I was able to predict any part of the ending, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment. 

This is a series many, many more people need to read. It is brilliant, surprising, clever, and has twists like you literally wouldn't believe. 


Oh, this book. I wanted to love it. I absolutely loved Simmons Drood , a book I recommend to a lot of people as a brilliant example of exceptionally well done slow build unique horror. 

But The Abominable took me forever to get through. I mean, weeks. I kept putting it down, reading a chapter, putting it down again. I kept with it because I had committed to it for a few reading challenges already, and because I had loved the other Simmons' book so much, and because once I was 300 pages in I figured I might as well just go for the last 300 pages.

The main problem for me was that I was looking for the horror and suspense I was promised on the inside flap, and instead I got essentially 500 pages about mountain climbing. And then when things finally picked up, it didn't make a lot of sense, and seemed very out of left field.

Go read Drood for sure, but I wouldn't bother with The Abominable unless you really love mountain climbing.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Review: Hydra



This is the second book in the Six Stories series (I'm currently reading the third-when my library system and interlibrary loan system couldn't get a copy, I just went and bought it on my Kindle, which I never do, because I had to read it immediately!), and it did not disappoint.

The Six Stories series centers around a (fictional) podcast that looks at (fictional) crimes. In Hydra, the case is that of Arla Macleod, who beat her family to death with a hammer and is institutionalized for the murders. Each "episode" is with a different person who can hopefully shed light on what happened that night, and, perhaps, even more crucially, what brought about the horrific murders.

The tension is almost unbearable, the twists and turns expertly plotted, and the ending once again left me with my jaw dropped open from the brilliant reveals. Wesolowski weaves horror, mystery, and the supernatural together so well that you feel you are experiencing a real podcast about a real crime. I absolutely recommend this series, it deserves more readers!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Review: Six Stories


I continue to be drawn to books that integrate and center around (fictional) podcasts, especially when they are mysteries. Six Stories surrounds a podcast with a host who has kept his true identity a secret, wearing a mask when he meets with his subjects. His podcast, Six Stories, is examining the death of a teenager that was ruled accidental years ago. Six people are interviewed, and each tell their perspective and version of what happened.

This book was absolutely fascinating and flew by. I didn't know who to trust, who was telling the truth, and kept searching every "episode" for clues. The format is fantastic, and used so well. And the ending, the sixth story, left me with my jaw on the ground. Wesolowski is such a unique, talented writer, and more people need to read this book. I've already got a copy of the second book in the Six Stories series, and will be starting it today.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Review: Last Woman Standing



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.

I've been reading a lot of dark books lately, maybe because it's winter and typically pretty dark and gloomy outside. Or maybe just because I tend to love psychological thrillers and suspense and they tend to be pretty dark. And Last Woman Standing is definitely one of those dark reads.

Comparisons have been made to Strangers on a Train and I can definitely see why. When Dana Diaz, a comedian trying to find her place on stage, meets Amanda Dorn after a difficult show, the two start talking about the difficulties they've faced in their lives, especially when it comes to men. When Dana finds herself drawn into a pact, she realizes the consequences are far more than she could have anticipated.

This is a fascinating and disturbing look at what it means to be a woman in a man's world, the danger and violence women can and do face anywhere at any time. Gentry dives deep into this, through the world of stand up comedy (highly unique), as well as the tech industry (highly timely). Gentry also explores the bonds (or lack thereof) between women, and the power and harm of obsession.

I did guess a large percentage of the major revelation before it happened, but this actually upped the tension for me, because I could see what was coming and as a reader could do nothing about it.

Gentry has proven with this and her debut book that she is a talented writer who knows how to write dark, tense psychological thrillers and suspense. I'm excited to see what she comes up with next.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Reviews: Sadie, and The Shining Girls


Sadie is a book with a lot of hype surrounding it, and it more than earns all that hype. Putting a spin on the true crime podcast, Sadie tells the story of the murder of a younger sister, and the lengths the older sister will go to get revenge on the murderer. Chapters alternate between Sadie's point of view and that of a podcaster, who has found much more of a story then he ever expected. 

This is not an easy read, full of very difficult topics, but it is absolutely a haunting book worth reading. I couldn't put it down, and the last sentence is still with me. 



So I first tried this book a few months ago, read a few pages, and then put it back down. I'm not sure exactly why, whether the gruesomeness and gore was too much for me, or I found the book confusing, but it just didn't seem for me.

However, I had heard so much about this book, and so when I got a copy for free for volunteering at a charity book sale, I put it on my TBR shelf. When it fit a Popsugar Reading Challenge category for this year, I picked it up again.

It's hard to even describe the story, about a serial killer who can travel through time thanks to a mysterious house, who finds girls who "shine" and then tracks them down as women and brutally murders them, but the girl who survived who is now a woman is trying to solve the case of her past. The book is very nonlinear, which makes sense with the plot, but also made it harder for me to understand the plot. 

I'm glad I did give this book another chance. I didn't love this book, but I did like it. The gruesomeness and gore were sometimes too much for me, and I'm still not sure I entirely understood everything, especially some of the end. But I did find myself staying up much later than intended to finish the book, unable to stop turning pages, so clearly the book was doing multiple things right.



Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Review: The Golden Tresses of the Dead



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.

I must start this review by fully admitting that I love this series. I get so happy every time a new one is coming out, and The Golden Tresses of the Dead did not disappoint at all.

I really appreciate how Bradley has managed to take the series in a really intriguing new direction while still holding true to the characters he has developed and their unique personalities. This mystery starts with a finger in a wedding cake, and doesn't let up from there. Flavia is such a great, unique character, and I love seeing even more of Dogger.

These are incredibly clever, fun, original mysteries that I cannot recommend highly enough. Definitely start from the first entry in the series and keep going from there!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Weekend Review Roundup!




Zodiac Station was a really interesting read, definitely not in my usual wheelhouse, but really captivating and suspenseful. It tells the story of a station in the Arctic full of scientists, a story told  by a man who somehow skied across the freezing cold to a ship digging through the ice. But all is not as it seems. There was a lot of science, which is what makes it a book I wouldn't necessarily have picked up typically, but even if there were moments I didn't entirely understand, the story was so twisty and suspenseful I was completely drawn in.


This book was incredible! I read it in one sitting, in less than 5 hours, because I could not put it down. The main character has been in prison for 10 years for a crime we don't originally know the details of. Now that he is out, and the detective who pursued the case is retiring, he is finally ready to tell the truth of what happened. The characters are so complex, the solution is so twisty and suspenseful, and the end made me gasp out loud. 


Quiet Girl in a Noisy World is a short, powerful, meaningful collection of comics about what it truly means to be an introvert.


I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, which I was so excited about, because this is one of my favorite cozy mystery series. I love the setting, I love the characters, I love the friendships (and possible romance), and the mysteries are always good ones. Sloan is such a strong female character in a profession that is considered a man's job, and she is also full of personal history and complications. She is a character I absolutely adore, and I can't wait to read more of her solving mysteries.