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Monday, July 6, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: The Swap by Robyn Harding @scoutpressbooks @rhardingwriter @jessmapreviews

The Swap 
by Robyn Harding 

Thank you Scout Press/Gallery Books for these copies!


Publisher: Scout Press
Publish Date: June 23, 2020
Paperback
336 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her looming height or her dreary, isolated hometown on an island in the Pacific Northwest. But whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit in—and neither does Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer who now owns the local pottery studio.

After signing up for a class, Low quickly falls under Freya’s spell. And Freya, buoyed by Low’s adoration, is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, both feel a sense of belonging...that is, until Jamie walks through the studio door. Desperate for a baby, she and her husband have moved to the island hoping that the healthy environment will result in a pregnancy. Freya and Jamie become fast friends, as do their husbands, leaving Low alone once again.

Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, one night of debauchery that they would put behind them, but instead, it upends their lives. And provides Low the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.

My Review:


Island living and the manipulation is REAL.  Freya, Freya, Freya..... you've all met her before haven't you? That seemingly perfect person with that magnetism that draws everyone - and you know it's not healthy, but you can't help but want to be a part of her life, her world.... HER.

This is my fourth Harding book and she continues to give us one-sit reads that you just canNOT pull yourself away from.  This book is chock full of deceit, manipulation, sex, drugs, partner swaps and spineless men with insecurities that fuel the women to do whatever they need or want to... and while the eye of the storm is Freya, it's Low who is the main character and most complex.  Goodness gracious!  

I did have some issues with this book - it got a bit too convoluted but hell, that's what made it so damn fun to read.  You'd think the partner swapping would make the threesome or foursome the main focus but the threesome you need to keep an eye on are between the women.  Debauchery galore and WHY OH WHY do these women keep yo-yo-ing back to the same damn thing.  I mean, I get it but I don't.  Know what I mean? Ha - probably not but really y'all... if you like insanity, short chapters and insane women you want to scream at, you need to pick this book up.  For entertainment value alone, this is a winner.

★★★☆

Jessica's Review:


Yet another book by Robyn Harding that I finished in a day! There's just something so addictive about her writing and I can never get myself to put her books down once I start. THE SWAP is her fourth book and, like her previous releases, this one is full of little twists, lies, and she has you constantly questioning the motives of the characters. We get multiple POV's and a singular timeline that spans about a year.

We meet a high school senior named Swallow, but she goes by Low for obvious reasons (we all know how high school seniors can turn that into a joke). She sees a woman come into her school and post fliers for pottery classes, and Low's budding curiosity with the woman prompts her to join the class. With this begins the odd relationship between Low and Freya. Low becomes infatuated, and even obsessed, with Freya and her husband Max. The couple is trying to leave their dark past behind them by starting over on the small island town. The budding relationship gives them something they both crave and fights off the loneliness they both experience.

However, when Jamie enters the picture, Low realizes her place in Freya's life is threatened. How far will her obsession push her? Jamie and her husband, Brian, become fast friends with Freya and her husband Max. One night changes everything after Freya initiates a partner swap during a mushroom fueled dinner party. Their lives become intertwined in ways they never imagined but Jamie is so dependent on Freya's friendship that will do whatever is necessary to keep it strong. 

Freya is such an awful person. A master at manipulating everyone around her and is the definition of a narcissist. Reeling people in, pushing them away with her awful behavior, and then reeling them back in again with her charm and charisma. Jamie and Low are just unfortunate enough to get caught up in her web. I was pretty satisfied with how things ended, things were tied up nicely and I feel like all characters got what they deserved (good or bad). It's hard to say which of her books I like best but what I do know is that Harding firmly remains an auto-buy author for me!

5 stars

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Review: The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan

The First to Lie 
by Hank Phillippi Ryan


Publisher: Forge Books
Publish Date: August 4, 2020
Kindle Edition
304 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Suspense, Mystery
What happens when an undercover reporter gets in too deep? And when a practiced liar has to face off with her own truth—how does she choose her true reality?
Who will be the first to lie?
Bestselling and award-winning author and investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan delivers another twisty, thrilling suspense novel that will leave you breathless.
My Review:
FUCK YOU PHARMINEX!
end of review
JUST KIDDING!  But yay for a storyline about bringing down a big pharma company that doesn't represent itself or its drug(s) the way it should.  And then to use this towards women with fertility issues - let me just say that this makes my blood boil for a number of reasons.....  But while this is the main part of the book in terms of storyline, let's take a big look at the characters that seem to be the most interesting thing within these pages.
Ok, first of all, I didn't expect so many damn POVs and it took a while for me to get into this book because of it... and then once it all made sense, I did that open mouthed "huh" thing you do when that light bulb goes off over your head.  Now, I'm all for suspending some belief in any story that I read... but I do think this one may have *just* gone a little too far.  One character, maybe two but then..... what? Sorry readers, I can't say much more or it'll spoil this book for you and I refuse to do that.
Full of twists and turns you may or may not see coming, what you will find are motivated characters who will do whatever they need to in order to get to the bottom line.  While I found the book to be entertaining, I do think taking it down a notch or two in terms of the whose who would've helped me enjoy it more as a story rather than as one of trying to keep track of what was going on.  My first by this author and definitely wanting to try another.
★★★


Review: These Violent Delights by Micah Nemerever @harperbooks @nemerevermore

These Violent Delights 
by Micah Nemerever 

Thank you Harper Books for this copy.


Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: September 15, 2020
Hardcover
448 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+

The Secret History meets Call Me by Your Name in Micah Nemerever's compulsively readable debut novel—a feverishly taut Hitchcockian story about two college students, each with his own troubled past, whose escalating obsession with one another leads to an act of unspeakable violence.

When Paul and Julian meet as university freshmen in early 1970s Pittsburgh, they are immediately drawn to one another. A talented artist, Paul is sensitive and agonizingly insecure, incomprehensible to his working-class family, and desolate with grief over his father’s recent death.

Paul sees the wealthy, effortlessly charming Julian as his sole intellectual equal—an ally against the conventional world he finds so suffocating. He idolizes his friend for his magnetic confidence. But as charismatic as he can choose to be, Julian is also volatile and capriciously cruel. And admiration isn’t the same as trust.

As their friendship spirals into an all-consuming intimacy, Paul is desperate to protect their precarious bond, even as it becomes clear that pressures from the outside world are nothing compared with the brutality they are capable of inflicting on one another. Separation is out of the question. But as their orbit compresses and their grip on one another tightens, they are drawn to an act of irrevocable violence that will force the young men to confront a shattering truth at the core of their relationship.

Exquisitely plotted, unfolding with a propulsive ferocity, These Violent Delights is a novel of escalating dread and an excavation of the unsettling depths of human desire.

My Review:


Wooooooooooow.  Where do I start with this read?  Early 1970s, Paul and Julian meet and finally find an equal intellect within each other.  This prompts an immediate magnetism between two very different, yet similar individuals.  How could they not become attracted towards each other? How do they NOT become so utterly dependent on the other that it not only becomes unhealthy, both mentally and physically, but continue in such "violent delights".  

This is such a powerful read.  I loved the banter between them.  The word play and intellectual stimulation they find within each other is fascinating and even consuming to you as a reader.  The obsession that grows with each page is challenging at times to read.  I did find some parts slow but at the same time, these pages are necessary to really soak in what is happening between these two.  What happens here is so subtly done that while the ending is quite powerful, you realize that everything leading up to this point is also equally powerful in its own right and you realize that SO many factors within each of their lives play a part in all of it.

As the synopsis portrays, it's The Secret History meets Call Me By Your Name.  I never read the latter, but I can definitely say that it has that feel of reading the former.  Honestly, this isn't typically my favorite writing style to read.  However, with this particular story, the psychological entirety of it all kept me riveted to the pages - even through some of the slower parts.  

This isn't an easy read by any means.  There's no levity to offset the seriousness we get straight away from the prologue that immediately draws you in.  A book that will definitely stick with you for quite some time after you turn that last page.

★★★★

Friday, July 3, 2020

Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust @flatironbooks

Girl, Serpent, Thorn 
by Melissa Bashardoust

Thank you Flatiron for this amazing copy. 


Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publish Date: July 7, 2020
Hardcover
336 Pages
Standalone
Genres: LGBTQIA+, Fantasy, Young Adult, Mythology

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse...

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming...human or demon. Princess or monster.

My Review:


"She was a Princess.  She was a Monster."  BOOM. SOLD.  I LOVE fantasy and monsters and, sometimes, even princesses so I couldn't say no! But here's where I'm SO happy I have a rule to always give an author another chance if the first book I've read by them didn't work for me.  Girls Made of Snow and Glass was NOT the read for me and I didn't even realize this was the same author until after I accepted this galley.  So needless to say, I wasn't mad when the publishing date got moved from May to July because let's face it y'all - even though I have that personal rule, it still kinda made me go "hmmmm".  And now... NOW, I'm kicking myself in the ass for not reading this sooner since it's been in my possession since April! Can you tell I loved this one? Does the star rating give it away?

You absolutely must read the Author's Note in this book as well.  To see how she pieced together so many things to create this magical land was truly fascinating.  We're talking ancient Persian Mythology mixed with fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel.... every damn character is unreliable.  And she gives these characters such depth that even the ones you shouldn't be rooting for, you just DO.  I felt myself gasping at certain parts, enraged at others and thrilled for Soraya for finding her way in SO many different facets of her life.  Love is love and not all monsters are monsters. 

If you love fantasy and fairy tales and just a fast paced story with a protagonist you'll absolutely fall in love with - put this on your TBR.  Then come to me so we can discuss! I'll just say you're welcome in advance. YOU'RE WELCOME.

★★★★★

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager @duttonbooks @riley_sager @jessmapreviews

Home Before Dark 
by Riley Sager 

Thank you Dutton and NetGalley for these free advanced copies!
Happy Publication Day!


Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: Jun 30, 2020
Kindle Edition
384 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Horror

What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

My Review:


A book within a book is a hit or miss for me sometimes and it was a definite HIT for me in Home Before Dark.  Combine that with some unreliable narrators, dual timelines and riveting pages that keep you flipping them until the wee hours.... and you get another winning book from Sager.

 How comfortable would you be about inheriting a house that was a part of your family, considered haunted and which your father's famous book is about.... that can't possibly be true?  Old houses scare the begeezuz out of me but I also love that rush.  I'm not entirely sure I could handle one by myself.... and Sager gives us some flesh crawling moments.  

"You are sixteen... going on....."  I cannot get this damn song out of my head now! Grrr

Sager is an autobuy author and I am always thrilled to see a new book come out.  Run thriller vibes along with some horror tones, and I am one happy girl.  While ghost stories are hit or miss for me, I am always attracted to these reads.  And if Sager write it, I'm gonna read it.  

★★★★ 

Jessica's Review:


The fourth novel from Riley Sager and its another win for me! Another unique and twisty suspenseful read that kept my attention from cover to cover. While HOME BEFORE DARK isn’t my favorite of his four novels, it’s still one I absolutely recommend picking up.
Maggie is left Baneberry Hall – a home that she and her parents lived in for only three weeks before fleeing. Her father ended up publishing a book about the horrors and events that they endured during their time there. A story that ended up surpassing The Amityville Horror in popularity, but it also brought with it a ton of skepticism, because there’s no way it could possibly be true.
Now that Maggie professionally restores old homes, she has returned to fix up the place to sell it. Of course, the small Vermont town isn’t entirely welcoming and people from the past begin to surface. Why would Maggie be concerned? She was so young and remembers nothing of her time there and ghosts and ghouls aren’t real.
We get two POVs – present day and then excerpts from a book written by Maggie’s father about their experiences in Baneberry Hall. As things begin to mirror each other it dawns on her that maybe there was some truth to what her parents experienced. This had an incredible gothic feel throughout the book and just an eerie overall tone.
Another solid release from Sager and he continues to solidify his place as an auto-buy author for me. If you’re looking for creepy and addictive reads, then look no further! I highly recommend any and all of his books.
4 stars

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Review: Blood Victory by Christopher Rice @amazonpub @chrisricewriter

Blood Victory 
by Christopher Rice


Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: August 18, 2020
Kindle Edition
Series: Burning Girl #3
Genres: Thriller, Mystery

On a cross-country journey to hell, fear is the engine and vengeance is the destination as Christopher Rice’s Amazon Charts bestselling series continues.

As the test subject of an experimental drug, Charlotte Rowe was infused with extraordinary powers. As the secret weapon of a mysterious consortium, she baits evil predators and stops them in their tracks. But it takes more than fear to trigger what’s coursing through Charlotte’s blood. She needs to be terrorized. Serial killer Cyrus Mattingly is up to the task.

Cyrus is a long-haul truck driver, and his cargo bay is a gallery of horrors on wheels. To stop his bloodshed, Charlotte will become his next victim, reining in her powers so she can face each of his evils in turn.

As much as they know about Cyrus—his method of selecting victims, his prolonged rituals—there is something they don’t. What happens on the dark and lonely highways is only the journey. It’s the destination that’s truly depraved. Before she can unleash vengeance on a scale this killer has never seen, Charlotte and her team will have to go the distance into hell.

My Review:


Book 3 in the Burning Girl Series and so far it's a full five stars for EVERY BOOK IN THE SERIES.  Rice has really launched this series forward in these three books and while you could likely read this as a standalone, I would STRONGLY recommend reading this from book one and it'll give you better understanding and deeper connection to the full story line.  And trust me, readers, this is definitely a series where you want to know all the details.

From being the stolen baby raised by serial killers, to finding out she has been drugged with Zypraxon that gives her superhuman powers and luckily is the first to survive being triggered... to now trying to work with authorities to bring down other killers, Charlotte is a character you will absolutely love and to see these big transitions via only three books so far, it so impresses me how Rice does this without making time seem to move too fast, making the sci-fi part of it not convoluted but an added bonus to the scary parts of things we could potentially see happening in the future... I mean, I don't even know where to start in terms of how well crafted this series is.

Side note to the author: I'm absolutely ok with snakes but that whole set up with the RATS... I physically wretched (which is also why I LOVED all of that as well - what can I say, I'm a sick person *wink*).

The dirty birds in this story had quite the evil story to tell.  I definitely do NOT want to be a seedling that someone else needs to plant.  Not gonna lie, I absolutely loved this side of the story and I truly intrigued to see where this series continues in terms of future villains and from a certain new character that has all my must know hairs standing straight up.  Rice has done it again and I'm telling y'all, you WANT to read this series. Get on it.

★★★★★


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Review: These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf @harlequinbooks #Mira @hgudenkauf #BuddyReadstoDieFor #ATBR2020

These Things Hidden
by Heather Gudenkauf

The June Buddy Reads to Die For choice and another All The Book Reviews buddy read - we had quite the group read for this amazing story.


Publisher: Mira
Publish Date: January 18, 2011
Paperback
337 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Psychological Thriller

When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn--shy, quiet Brynn--who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her. But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

My Review:


PHEW! Well that was an emotional roller coaster of a read!  I'm going to keep this review as vague as the synopsis because you really should go into this one blind.  I'm not a person who gets triggered but you should peruse other reviews if you are to see if this read may or may not be difficult for you.  Though I think the subject matter probably wouldn't be easy for anyone who isn't a socio/psychopath.

Now that that's out of the way - Gudenkauf is one of my absolute favorite authors and her writing will speak for itself.  I highly suggest you pick her up if you're a thriller lover and prepare yourself to dive headlong into the vortex she creates while you continually turn these pages.  Short chapters, intriguing plot line, characters to love and to hate and strap yourself in for the emotional roller coaster she will put you on.   

Oh the pressure on kids to be perfect and the parents who put pressure on them to be so.  A tsk-tsk to those parents who are so selfish that they focus only on their own happiness rather than the health and happiness of their own children.  Big hugs and tears to those who long to be parents but cannot and somehow get blessed along the way by other means.  Gudenkauf puts us through the gauntlet of emotions as we see these stories play out.  

I can see why this wouldn't be a book for everyone but this is a book that wows me and now I understand why it's Jamie's favorite of this author.  Thanks for sending this one my way.  If you're looking for an emotional thriller that will simultaneously piss you off and make you love some very flawed characters... well, look no further.  

★★★★★

Jessica's Review:


This is my third outing with Heather Gudenkauf and I haven't been disappointed yet! Having read her two newest releases I was excited to go back to one of her backlist books for the #buddyreadstodiefor book club. THESE THINGS HIDDEN had all the things that I loved about her other two books - just a fun and solid thriller to fly through.

This is my third outing with Heather Gudenkauf and I haven't been disappointed yet! Having read her two newest releases I was excited to go back to one of her backlist books for the #buddyreadstodiefor book club. THESE THINGS HIDDEN had all the things that I loved about her other two books - just a fun and solid thriller to fly through.

What I will always love is how she hooks you from that first chapter. Once you start, you aren't going to want to stop or put down the book. Fast pace, multiple POVs, twists, red herrings, and well-developed characters (some you'll love and some that will get under your skin). It's always so hard to review her books because you don't want to accidentally spoil anything and ruin the fun and suspense.

I will continue to pick up anything by Gudenkauf - this one solidified her status as one of my auto-buy authors. I highly recommend this one as well as BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND and THIS IS HOW I LIE - you won't be disappointed. Now, to go back and get more of her books.

5 stars

Monday, June 22, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas @jessmapreviews

Catherine House 
by Elisabeth Thomas

Continue below to see Jessica and I's very different view points on this debut novel.


Publisher: Custom House
Publish Date: May 12, 2020
Hardcover
320 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Gothic

A seductive, gothic-infused tale of literary suspense — the debut of a spectacular new voice — about a dangerously curious young undergraduate whose rebelliousness leads her to discover a shocking secret involving an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.

You are in the house and the house is in the woods.
You are in the house and the house is in you . . .
Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises its graduates a future of sublime power and prestige, and that they can become anything or anyone they desire.
Among this year’s incoming class is Ines, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, pills, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. The school’s enigmatic director, Vikt√≥ria, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves and their place within the formidable black iron gates of Catherine.
For Ines, Catherine is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had, and her serious, timid roommate, Baby, soon becomes an unlikely friend. Yet the House’s strange protocols make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when Baby’s obsessive desire for acceptance ends in tragedy, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda that is connected to a secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.
Combining the haunting sophistication and dusky, atmospheric style of Sarah Waters with the unsettling isolation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Catherine House is a devious, deliciously steamy, and suspenseful page-turner with shocking twists and sharp edges that is sure to leave readers breathless.
My Review:
"Do you know what plasm is?"
"What do you mean? Plasm, the new material?'
"Yes, Plasm.  I mean, do you really understand what it is - exactly? Do you really get it?"
Replace Plasm with Catherine House and this is basically a conversation I'd probably have regarding the book.  This is a very atmospheric, gothic bit of a read and it reminds me of watching an Indie movie - a bit of a slow build up where you're eyebrows are pinched in trying to figure out what is going on.  Hence why my attention wouldn't be fully on the read and I would find myself putting it down every so often.  I considered DNFing it but then things got really interesting.... 
What I liked and didn't like about this book kind of are for the same reasons.  It's a bit of a mindfuck as you never really know what's happening.  There are hints and we get touches of this and that... but I never really saw it fleshed out completely.  I kind of liked being able to make my own assumptions but I also really wanted some answers.  Le sigh.  I like that we only get the view point of Ines but I also would've liked to see how everyone else took in this environment (especially Yaya).  It's got that creepy, gothic feel but I wanted it to be just a bit more... I felt at times I was reading it as if I was seeing everything in a haze.  I'm not sure if that had to do with the writing or that, like the plot, the characters also didn't seem fully solid.
Now, I think this was probably done intentionally for the purposes of what the plot seems to bring the reader.  And I applaud that this is a debut novel that gives us something different than what we have been used to being published.  Trust me, I'm a big flip flopper when it comes to ambiguity.  While I don't think this book will be for everyone, I think if you're even considering it, definitely pick it up and decide where you land for yourself.
★★
Jessica's Review:

I think 2020 has been a great year for debut authors, and this is one of them. CATHERINE HOUSE by Elisabeth Thomas was different than what I was expecting it to be, and I really enjoyed it! I can already see this not working for all readers because some aren’t fans of ambiguity in their books. While this one isn’t laser focused on one plot point, there is enough detail to keep the story progressing at a good pace.
I was so intrigued to learn more about the mysterious Catherine House. A school that isn’t quite a college, but it’s not high school. A school where you basically agree to leave your past behind you and spend the next 3 years completely isolated on a private campus, but, you are guaranteed the future that you desire. Seems too good to be true, right? Well, let’s learn the secrets of Catherine House.
The highlight of this book for me was the Gothic theme. Thomas just immerses you in Catherine House and creates an atmosphere of mounting dread with each chapter and interaction. It was a very different reading experience because there isn’t a ton of details and the conversations had a different feel to them. It’s really hard to describe, but I think it’s best to experience. I think this was a solid debut and I’ll be looking for more from Elisabeth Thomas in the future.
4 stars