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Sunday, October 31, 2021

Review: Everything We Didn't Say by Nicole Baart

Everything We Didn't Say
by Nicole Baart

Thank you Atria for this gifted book.

Publisher: Atria
Publish Date: November 2, 2021
368 Pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Juniper Baker had just graduated from high school and was deep in the throes of a summer romance when Cal and Beth Murphy, a childless couple who lived on a neighboring farm, were brutally murdered. When her younger brother became the prime suspect, June’s world collapsed and everything she loved that summer fell away. She left, promising never to return to tiny Jericho, Iowa.

Until now. Officially, she’s back in town to help an ill friend manage the local library. But really, she’s returned to repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, who’s been raised by Juniper’s mother and stepfather since birth—and to solve the infamous Murphy murders once and for all. She knows the key to both lies in the darkest secret of that long-ago summer night, one that’s haunted her for nearly fifteen years.

As history begins to repeat itself and a dogged local true crime podcaster starts delving into the murders, the race to the truth puts past and present on a dangerous collision course. Juniper lands back in an all-too-familiar place with the answers to everything finally in her sights, but this time it’s her daughter’s life that hangs in the balance. Will revealing what really happened mean a fresh start? Or will the truth destroy everything Juniper loves for a second time? Baart once again brilliantly weaves mystery into family drama in this expertly-crafted novel for fans of Lisa Jewell and Megan Miranda. 

My Review:

My second novel by Baart and danggggggggg, she can tell a story! This one has dual timelines, a lot of characters and a mystery that unravels in the last 20% that is worth the first 80. 

While I did feel that the story lulled in certain areas, I was ever so intrigued in what was going to happen.  Juniper is quite the interesting character and her personal relationships with several of the other characters were jarring at times, emotional at others and a whisper of hope for some. When each link starts interlocking, we see everything come together in quite a surprise.  

Small towns, big secrets - this combination is one I somehow never tire of.  The way Baart tells her stories in such a beautiful way - well, you just can't help but feel you're right in that town, a fly on the wall, chasing Juniper around from past to present.

While I did enjoy this story, I did feel it was a bit slower paced than I typically like and have questions on some things ... HOWEVER, that ending left me fully satisfied so it's fine. It's FINE. haha - I'll definitely continue to pick up everythign Baart writes - and you should too.


Review: My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

My Monticello
by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

Thanks so much to for this gifted audiobook.

Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publish Date: October 5, 2021
7 hrs 36 min
Genres: Short Stories, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

In a daring and fierce debut work of fiction - the likes of which comes along once in a generation - Virginia's landscapes, emblems, and Thomas Jefferson's historic plantation set the. stage for a cast of unforgettable characters fighting for their right to exist in America.

A young woman descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings driven from her neighborhood by a white militia. A university professor studying racism by conducting a secret social experiment on his own son. A single mother desperate to buy her first home even as the world hurtles toward catastrophe. Each fighting to survive in America.

Tough-minded, vulnerable, and brave, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s precisely imagined debut explores burdened inheritances and extraordinary pursuits of belonging. Set in the near future, the eponymous novella, “My Monticello,” tells of a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors fleeing violent white supremacists. Led by Da’Naisha, a young Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, they seek refuge in Jefferson’s historic plantation home in a desperate attempt to outlive the long-foretold racial and environmental unravelling within the nation.

In “Control Negro," a university professor devotes himself to the study of racism and the development of ACMs (average American Caucasian males) by clinically observing his own son from birth in order to “painstakingly mark the route of this Black child too, one whom I could prove was so strikingly decent and true that America could not find fault in him unless we as a nation had projected it there.” Johnson’s characters all seek out home as a place and an internal state, whether in the form of a Nigerian widower who immigrates to a meager existence in the city of Alexandria, finding himself adrift; a young mixed-race woman who adopts a new tongue and name to escape the landscapes of rural Virginia and her family; or a single mother who seeks salvation through “Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse.”

United by these characters’ relentless struggles against reality and fate, 'MY MONTICELLO' is a formidable book that bears witness to this country’s legacies and announces the arrival of a wildly original new voice in American fiction.

My Review:

This review is going to be super short because all you need to know is that YOU NEED TO READ THIS.  The audiobook is outstanding with the various narrators that pull you straight in to each and every story that is told.  Beautifully told prose that tackles the very serious subject of racism -  I could feel the emotions thoroughly. If there's one book you need to add to your TBR, this is definitely it.


Friday, October 29, 2021

Review: Human Tenderloin by Craig Wallwork

Human Tenderloin
by Craig Wallwork

Thanks so much to Underbelly Books for this gifted copy.

Publisher: Underbelly Books
Publish Date: September 15, 2021
Kindle Edition
226 Pages
Genres: Horror, Short Stories

A prematurely ageing girl learns to fly during the end of the world. A husband makes the ultimate sacrifice for his dying wife. Two brothers endure a rainstorm that lasts five years. A father tries to save his daughter from a sleeping epidemic. A man books into a hotel where the guests check in but never check out. A group of fine-dining cannibals worry where their next meal will come from. And a grieving mother goes in search of ghosts in a haunted house.

Human Tenderloin is a collection of horror stories with heart. Some will goose the skin. Others will leave you bloated with terror. But each one will stay with you.

My Review:

As most of y'all probably know, anthologies and short story collections are such a hit or miss for me that for a while I wasn't reading any.  I felt it always landed in the middle area as some stories within the pages I loved and others not so much.  But sometimes you see a cover and title and you just can't say no. And so here we are and I'm so glad.

Horror covers a variety of genres and Wallwork hits a lot of them in this collection. Favorites: Farewell Valencia, Human Tenderloin and Rosemary and Time.  Honorable mentions: Dollhouse and They Were Born Without Faces.  Though if I had to choose an absolute favorite of them, it would definitely be Farewell Valencia. I'm going to be looking at everyone's shoes from now on.

Regardless of whether I loved the story or was just meh about it, there's no taking away from the brilliant way in which Wallwork writes.  It's almost as if I could feel the pages palpitating. The stories within just as beautiful and creepy as the cover that holds them.

Want gruesome and bloody horror? Want the subtle fear and weary dread of what's to come? Paranormal your jam? It's all in here.  There's bound to be a story or seven you're going to love. So get on it, but you may want to keep the lights on.


Thursday, October 28, 2021

Review: The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

The Plot
by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Narrated by Kirby Heyborne

Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publish Date: May 11, 2021
10 min 43 min
Genres: Thriller, Psychological Suspense

Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he’s teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what’s left of his self-respect; he hasn’t written—let alone published—anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn’t need Jake’s help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot.

Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker’s first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that - a story that absolutely needs to be told.

In a few short years, all of Evan Parker’s predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says.

As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his “sure thing” of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?

My Review:

Slurp slurp... oh excuse me.  This soup is delicious but erm....

Haha - omg y'all.. I LOOOOVED this book so dang much.  Jake is... something. But I get him in a weird way.  Who doesn't want to be successful.  Who, after a taste of success and subsequent downfall, doesn't want it again.. isn't jealous of those around who are making it?  Who then stumbles along something that while might not be the best idea, surely couldn't really hurt anyone? I mean, his asshole student is dead now so it's not reaalllllly stealing. 

AHHHHHHHH - ok, I just loved the way this whole story unfolded.  Screw Evan, GO JAKE. But also Jake was sometimes so damned annoying. I almost welcomed these harassing messages he was getting. I was here for the journey he had to go on to figure out what the hell was actually going on and why.  At a certain point, I was like, "maybe.... this this and that"... and BOOM - my neighbors probably wondered why I was like "I KNEW IT!!" - especially loud since I had my ear plugs in. Oh happy smile. I loved the ending. Like a lot. 

The narrator was fun.  And I think one of my favorite characters was Mike - although a tertiary character, he made an impression and I needed that giggle.  Why haven't I read this author before?? Kicking myself a little for waiting so long on this one. 


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Review: Ski Weekend by Rektok Ross

Ski Weekend
by Rektok Ross

Thanks to SparkPress for this gifted book.

Publisher: SparkPress
Publish Date: October 26, 2021
280 Pages
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller

Six teens, one dog, a ski trip gone wrong . . .

Sam is dreading senior ski weekend and having to watch after her brother and his best friend, Gavin, to make sure they don’t do anything stupid. Again. Gavin may be gorgeous, but he and Sam have never gotten along. Now they’re crammed into an SUV with three other classmates and Gavin’s dog, heading on a road trip that can’t go by fast enough.

Then their SUV crashes into a snowbank, and Sam and her friends find themselves stranded in the mountains with cell phone coverage long gone and temperatures dropping. When the group gets sick of waiting for rescue, they venture outside to find help—only to have a wilderness accident leave Sam’s brother with a smashed leg and, soon, a raging fever. While the hours turn to days, Sam’s brother gets sicker and sicker, and their food and supplies dwindle until there isn’t enough for everyone. As the winter elements begin to claim members of the group one by one, Sam vows to keep her brother alive.

No matter what.

Filled with twists, secrets, and life-changing moments, Ski Weekend is a snow-packed survival thriller featuring a diverse cast of teens that will appeal to fans of One of Us is Lying and I Am Still Alive.

My Review:

This isn't a terrible story and as much as I love YA and YA thrillers, there's just not enough thrill for me.  And when the Asian girl in the story who is studying during this entire epic trapped in a car in the middle of a blizzard thing says she won't eat her friends but isn't above eating the dog... well, that was just too much for me and so I DNF at the halfway mark.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Review: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

The Sanatorium
by Sarah Pearse
Narrated by: 

Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publish Date: February 2, 2021
11 hrs 59 min
Series: Detective Elin Warner #1
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

You won't want to leave. . . until you can't.

Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel.

An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin's taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge--there's something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she's the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in. . . 

My Review:

Welcome to the hotel Le Sommet - where you can enter.. but you can never leave....

Who else loves a good gothic setting at an abandoned sanatorium turned hotel?! Me Me ME! Pearse does an amazing job bringing us the atmosphere we need to truly feel like we are there with Elin.  I am truly fascinaed with the past and the terrible things that happened at these kinds of places.  Imagine your husband or father putting you into a place claiming you had tuberculosis (which you may or may not have had) just to undergo experiments - whether it's collapsing a lung or something even more sinister.  #heebiejeebies Of course, this dies down as all things eventually do and now we have our setting - welcome to the new (and improved?) hotel ... which is a character all in itself.

The mystery aspect of this is a lot of fun. I love it when history presents itself in the... well... present. Elin as a detective on extended leave for her PTSD ends up way out of her jurisdiction but when you're isolated, miles from anyone else, with no way out - it may just be up to her to dig deep within herself to use her skills to figure out what the hell is going on - as she has a very personal stake in the outcome.

Appluase for Pearse for a debut novel well done.  There's definitely some implausabilities .. but it's a work of fiction and I was more here for the FEEL of the novel, rather than the many details, if that makes sense.  There's one scene at the end that had me scratching my head because I'm SO CURIOUS - so yes, I'll definitely be reading the next book.  I can't wait to see Pearse grow as a writer and get to know Elin a bit more - because I have a feeling she's going to be showing us readers a side worth waiting for.


Monday, October 25, 2021

BLOG TOUR and REVIEW: Fan Club by Erin Mayer

Fan Club
by Erin Mayer

Thanks so much to MIRA for this gifted book and stop on the blog tour.

Publisher: MIRA
Publish Date: October 26, 2021
320 Pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller | Indie Bound | Books-A-Million | B&N

In this raucous psychological thriller, a millennial office worker finds relief from her crippling ennui in the embrace of a cliquey fan club, until she discovers the group of women is bound together by something darker than devotion.

Day after day our narrator, a gloomy millennial, searches for meaning beyond her vacuous job at a women's lifestyle website—entering text into a computer system while she watches their beauty editor unwrap box after box of perfectly packaged bits of happiness. Then, one night at a dive bar, she hears a message in the newest single by child-actor-turned-international-pop-star Adriana Argento, and she is struck. Soon she loses herself to the online fandom, a community whose members feverishly track Adriana's every move.

When a colleague notices the extent of her obsession, she’s invited to join an enigmatic group of adult Adriana superfans who call themselves the Ivies and worship her music in witchy, candlelit listening parties. As the narrator becomes more entrenched in the group, she gets closer to uncovering the sinister secrets that bind them together—while simultaneously losing her grip on reality.

With caustic wit and hypnotic writing, this unsparingly critical thrill ride through millennial life examines all that is wrong in our celebrity-obsessed internet age, and how easy it is to lose yourself in it.

Erin Mayer is a freelance writer and editor based in Maine. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Man Repeller, Literary Hub, and others. She was previously an associate fashion and beauty editor at

My Review:

Have you ever just been OBSESSED with a celebrity? Like tracking them online everywhere, listening to their music over and over again, etc... and then find a group that is equally as obsessed (if not more) and you just end up spiraling out of control?  Yeah, me neither but our unnamed protagonist is excessively nuts.. and while I do enjoy crazy, this one just didn't quite work for me.  Maybe if the celebrity in question wasn't who I think she was? *shrug*

Mayer does a good job showcasing how celebrity obsession is a real thing - and it truly is unbelievably crazy.  Remember reading about celebrity deaths at the hands of their stalker/#1 fan? Yeah - I'm not sure if the perks would outweigh always being watched. For me, this started quite slow... and yet I understood where the main character was headed - daily trudging of life at a desk just to get home, shove some food down the throat, watch a little tv, avoid the roommate and then wake up to do it all over again. How mundane. But once you find yourself involved with some absolutely insane women... well, life sure isn't boring anymore but you may regret your decision making.

Unfortunately the ending kinda killed the whole shebang for me. I have a love/hate relationship with these kinds of endings and this one clearly fell on the latter side. If they adapted it would I watch it? Absolutely - I think this particular kind of read would resonate better for me on screen.


Friday, October 22, 2021

Review: The House of Tongues by James Dashner

The House of Tongues
by James Dashner
Narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner

Thanks NetGalley and Tantor Audio for this amazing gifted audiobook.

Publisher: Tantor Audio
Publish Date: October 21, 2021
12 hrs 22 min
Genre: Horror

There's no synopsis other than stating this is a new must-listen novel from the author.

My Review:

You'll know Dashner's name mostly from The Maze Runner series, which I enjoyed.. but the series that is still my favorite is The Mortality Doctrine and I HIGHLY recommend this trilogy - especially for those who loved Ready Player One. Anyhoooooooooooo....

When I saw THE HOUSE OF TONGUES was available through NetGalley and is only available on audio, I was SO happy that I finally could listen to audiobooks and thrilled to see something new by Dashner and boy does he deliver!!! And the narrator, Malcolm Hillgartner is AMAZING and truly brings this story to life.

Told through David Partner's eyes only, we go back and forth from 1989 to 2017 in South Carolina where at a young age he comes eye to eye with a killer and makes a decision he has to deal with for the rest of his life.  Fast forward, he's in his 40s with kids of his own.  The past has come to haunt him and he will do whatever he has to to protect his own.  Little does he know, there are some things you just cannot run from and some secrets you wish you never knew.

Y'all!!!  I can't express how much I LOVE the way this author writes.  Riddled with levity and family love - you can just feel how much he loves his children and he reminded me of my Dad with his humor and ways of showing his love.  I especially love his relationship with his best friend, Andrea. AND the story behind the story... well, somehow I was NOT expecting that but I was here for it!

You just can't seem to go wrong with anything by this author.  Go snag a copy ASAP!


Thursday, October 21, 2021

Review: White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

White Smoke
by Tiffany D. Jackson

A huge thanks to BookSparks & Katherine Tegen Books for this gifted book.

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publish Date: September 14, 2021
384 Pages
Genres: Horror, Young Adult, Psychological Thriller

Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper.

The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.

But “running from ghosts” is just a metaphor, right?

As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.

My Review:

I have such a soft spot for YA horror. As the second book I've read by this author (first being Allegedly which I also would highly recommend), I have already catapulted her into a favorite author spot. 

I couldn't figure out what this book reminded me of and then I realized that it delves into the same theme that Alyssa Cole's 'When No One is Watching' does: gentrification of a neighborhood/community and y'all, that truly is some scary shit and is so unfair in how it happens and really pisses me off. The horror part of WHITE SMOKE isn't necessarily from the shadows that follow you or the creaks and noises in the night.  The way things go missing. The fact that your new little sister has a new "friend" she blames everything on. Or even how Buddy (the dog) starts acting strangely.  The horror is in how unfairly the rich, White people are slowly killing a community that they can then renovate and make money from.  The horror is in planting drugs on people and sending them unfairly to jail.  The horror is in how Maribel needs to stop being treated as an addict and get some proper help for her severe anxiety and paranoia of bed bugs.

My heart went out to Maribel... and Sammy... and Buddy... and even little Piper.  Blending a family and moving to a brand new place where you know no one and having to start over... especially at their ages.  And Jackson does a great job in showing the dynamics that occur within.  I enjoyed seeing Maribel and Yusef's friendship blossom.  I loved the banter between Maribel and Sammy.  I hated Alec- ha.  And I certainly wasn't expecting that ending! 

There's a lot to unpack in this book.  I low key hope Jackson is writing another book so we know where this family goes from here because I felt like I got lit on fire and left to burn. 🤣.  It's always a good thing if a reader wants more though, am I right?

But also dammit... I live in NYC and the threat of bed bugs is real and now I'm going to be eyeing every single little thing and hoping like hell I'm just finding coffee grounds. UFFFFFFF

"Change is good. Change is necessary. Change is needed."


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Review: All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

All These Bodies
by Kendare Blake

Thanks to Go Spark Point for this gifted book.

Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Publish Date: September 21, 2021
Kindle Edition
304 Pages
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Horror

Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation. In this edge-of-your-seat mystery from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake, the truth is as hard to believe as it is to find.

Summer 1958. A gruesome killer plagues the Midwest, leaving behind a trail of bodies completely drained of blood.

Michael Jensen, an aspiring journalist whose father happens to be the town sheriff, never imagined that the Bloodless Murders would come to his backyard. Not until the night the Carlson family was found murdered in their home. Marie Catherine Hale, a diminutive fifteen-year-old, was discovered at the scene—covered in blood. She is the sole suspect in custody.

Michael didn’t think that he would be part of the investigation, but he is pulled in when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to. As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?

My Review:

Imagine living in a small town where you hear about a serial killer going around.. and then it shows up on your back door.  But in this case, there is a survivor - Marie... and she will only speak with Michael.  As her story unfolds, it's really up to him (and his journalistic aspirations) to find out what is true and what is not.  

Again I'm reading a more character driven book.  This starts off strong and I am immediately pulled in.  A teenage girl covered in blood.. none of it hers? The only "survivor" of a family gruesomely murdered? Who aided her? Why is it THIS time that we find someone alive at one of these kinds of scenes? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

I enjoyed the relationship between Marie and Michael... though this part did feel a bit slow at times.  It was annoying at times to see Marie give no real answers... and someone please just give her a damn pack of smokes already. Then we get to the end... and well, ambiguity is a real big hit or miss for me and in this case, it was a miss unfortunately.  I think had other things been explained a bit more, I wouldn't have minded it as much.  I wanted a sandwich and all I got was bread.  Where's my meat?!

Blake does deliver in giving us a real small town feel and a sense of ominous throughout.  I appreciate what she was trying to do here and I think it's going to be a love it/hate it kind of read for most people and I stem somewhere right down the middle. 


Review: Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

by Carole Johnstone
Narrated by Katie Leung

Thank you for this gifted listen.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publish Date: April 20, 2021
11 hrs 38 min
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

A thrilling work of psychological suspense with the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is the story of twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind.

Cat lives in Los Angeles, about as far away as she can get from her estranged twin sister El and No. 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where they grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.

But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to the grand old house, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. No. 36 Westeryk Road is still full of shadowy, hidden corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues all over the house: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting...

A twisty, dark, and brilliantly crafted thriller about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom.

My Review:

Woah woah woah - another 5 star read from me?! Either I'm feeling very generous during these holidays (and Spooky Season is MY FAVE) or I'm just coming across some very good books.  And yet ANOTHER character driven novel.  WHO AM I?!

I tried listening to this a few months back but my brain wouldn't allow me the patience with the Scottish accent - my brain is weird.  But I finally went back and although I couldn't listen to it at warp speed like I can with other audiobooks, I'm here to tell you that the narrator truly makes this SUCH an enjoyable experience - look her up!! The voice became very mesmerizing and her performance is outstanding. Yeah, I'm a fan. 😊

This story. It's dark, moody, atmospheric and half the time I had no idea WTF was happening. Did I somehow end up in Mirrorland? Did Cat bring me with her in her insane journey? DID I LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT?! Ok ok let me back up. I love dark fairy tales and the presence of Mirrorland is in itself its own entity. A living, breathing character that was breathing down my neck and making the tiny hairs stand at attention. And these twins. W....T....F.... I thought my family had issues. 

Listen, there's a LOT to unpack from this story.  There's no levity at all in this read. It's harrowing and seeps right into your skin and you HAVE to pay attention or you'll easily get lost. I would highly recommend the audiobook for this because if I'm being honest - I'm not sure how reading this with my eyes would have gone. What I do know is that my ears are happy and I'm kicking myself for not listening to this sooner. Kids - don't put yourself in a position to where you'll need to kick yourself, k?


Monday, October 18, 2021

Review: The Savage Kind by John Copenhaven

The Savage Kind
by John Copenhaven

A huge thanks to Slice.Pr, Pegasus Books and the author for this gifted book.

Publisher: Pegasus Crime
Publish Date: October 5, 2021
352 Pages
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Queer

Two lonely teenage girls in 1940s Washington, DC, discover they have a penchant for solving crimes—and an even greater desire to commit them—in the new mystery novel by Macavity Award-winning novelist John Copenhaver.

Philippa Watson, a good-natured yet troubled seventeen-year-old, has just moved to Washington, DC. She’s lonely until she meets Judy Peabody, a brilliant and tempestuous classmate. The girls become unlikely friends and fashion themselves as intellectuals, drawing the notice of Christine Martins, their dazzling English teacher, who enthralls them with her passion for literature and her love of noirish detective fiction.

When Philippa returns a novel Miss Martins has lent her, she interrupts a man grappling with her in the shadows. Frightened, Philippa flees, unsure who the man is or what she’s seen. Days later, her teacher returns to school altered: a dark shell of herself. On the heels of her teacher’s transformation, a classmate is found dead in the Anacostia River—murdered—the body stripped and defiled with a mysterious inscription.

As the girls follow the clues and wrestle with newfound feelings toward each other, they suspect that the killer is closer to their circle than they imagined—and that the greatest threat they face may not be lurking in the halls at school, or in the city streets, but creeping out from a murderous impulse of their own.

My Review:

Femme fatale noir that's twisty and covers a variety of subjects and genres... two girls who meet, become sleuths, grapple with their own attraction to each other (in so many ways), cater to their darker side and EVERYTHING is unrealiable. SIGN ME UP. Oh hi.

I've found that while I used to be a more plot driven reader, lately character driven reads have really started to speak to me. Enter THE SAVAGE KIND. Yes there's a mystery that's intriguing but the stars are most definitely Philippa and Judy.  It's true, opposites do attract.

I related to Philippa a lot - always moving around from being in a military family and not always fitting into the popular/mainstream group.  And having that dark side that made me a magnet for those who may have seemed peculiar and/or dangerous.  Which got me in trouble a lot but I sure did have a lot of fun.  Being a military brat, you tend to change your personality to those around you to constantly fit in - a chameleon in human form. With Judy being the kind of girl I always wanted to impress and be around. Yep, RELATABLE.

Set in the 1940s, the author brings such atmosphere to this read. While some might find this slow paced, and at times it can be, it's necessary to see the transitions these girls (and some of the characters around them) go through.  I mean, who hasn't wanted to try and solve a mystery and then see if they could probably get away with a crime of their own.  Am I right? *wink*

I also thoroughly enjoyed my chat with the author (which you can find on my IG Live tab) which enhanced my reading experience and really made me see this story through a new lens.  There are more books coming that will span the 50s and the 60s so we get to see these characters grow immensely and I am here for it!


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Review: Shallow Waters by Anita Kopacz

Shallow Waters
by Anita Kopacz

Thanks so much to Atria/Black Privilege Publishing for this gifted book.

Publisher: Atria/Black Privilege Publishing
Publish Date: August 3, 2021
224 Pages
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Historical Fiction, African

Shallow Waters imagines Yemaya, an Orïsha—a deity in the religion of Africa’s Yoruba people—cast into mid-1800s America. We meet Yemaya as a young woman, still in the care of her mother and not yet fully aware of the spectacular power she possesses to protect herself and those she holds dear.

The journey laid out in Shallow Waters sees Yemaya confront the greatest evils of this era; transcend time and place in search of Obatala, a man who sacrifices his own freedom for the chance at hers; and grow into the powerful woman she was destined to become. We travel alongside Yemaya from her native Africa and on to the “New World,” with vivid pictures of life for those left on the outskirts of power in the nascent Americas.

Yemaya realizes the fighter within, travels the Underground Railroad in search of the mysterious stranger Obatala, and crosses paths with icons of our history on the road to freedom. Shallow Waters is a nourishing work of ritual storytelling from promising debut author Anita Kopacz.

My Review:

This debut novel is beautifully written and spans the genres of historical fiction, fantasy, mythology and African culture. When I read the opening where it appears a mermaid is emerging from her shell now with her legs, I knew instantly I was going to love this read.  

In this book, we see the world solely through Yemana's eyes.  She falls in love with Obatala when he releases her from a net and becomes punished for it.  From this point she is on a mission to find him. Slavery, Abolitionists, Quakers, Mers, Yoruba folklore, the Underground Railroad... all stories told throughout her travels towards him. While very lyrical, it is also very straight forward in its story telling and comes across like a young adult novel and I am here for it.

I think some people will want the story itself expanded in certain ways re the historical references but for me, I felt the 224 pages of Yemana's journey to find her love compelling, though at some times hard to read.  The descriptives of Yemana's power were fascinating and I became entranced in each part as she traveled and as she grew into her womanhood. I do wish there had been some more character development and little more information on why Yemana and Obtala's bond was so strong after such a brief meeting.  Overall I did really enjoy the journey.


Friday, October 15, 2021

Review: In Another Light by A.J. Banner

In Another Light
by A.J. Banner

Thanks so much to GetRedPr for this gifted book.

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: October 5, 2021
Kindle Edition
252 Pages
Genre: Thriller

Three years ago mortuary cosmetologist Phoebe Glassman lost her husband in a tragic accident. No longer the hopeful wife and mother she once was, Phoebe is disappearing into her grief and into the quietude of her job—restoring to the dead the illusion of life. Then the body of a woman named Pauline Steele arrives in the mortuary, and for Phoebe, everything changes.

Pauline is unmistakably Phoebe’s mirror image and bears an alarmingly familiar tattoo. Even more startling is that among Pauline’s effects is a faded photograph of Phoebe. Aided by an eccentric colleague, her curiosity sparked, Phoebe investigates her doppelgänger’s life and death—and uncovers surprising clues to a shared past.

Phoebe’s emotional journey soon leads to shocking revelations about those closest to her…and even herself. When she’s driven to the brink, how much of what she discovers can she trust?

My Review:

My fourth Banner novel and by far my favorite.  Her books are quick reads at under 300 pages so it's easy to fly right through them.  This novel sheds light on the process of grief and we get to deep dive into Phoebe's ups and downs as she struggles to deal with the loss of her husband and young daughter.  I mean, if you worked in a mortuary and a woman shows up on your table looking almost identical to yourself and bearing a tattoo that you've seen on your husband's phone... well, wouldn't that get you spiraling? 

Doppelganger books are always fun for me because you just KNOW something weird is happening.  Secrets will be unleashed... curiosity doesn't just kill the cat.  When Phoebe really loses it in one part of the book, my heart just went out to her.  While love can make you do some crazy things, it has absolutely nothing on grief and I believe the author does a great job of showcasing that struggle. I definitely did not figure out certain parts of it and I certainly was unsure as to the credibility of what Phoebe was seeing.  I applaud her tenacity but also cringe at some of her actions.. while also still understanding them..

Really the only thing that didn't quite work for me was the ending - and not in the whole ending part but in a teeny, tiny romance part that I felt was just unnecessary.  I also felt like there were some plot holes but honestly, it didn't really take away from the read.  

Go hug your loved ones.


Saturday, October 9, 2021

Review: The Corpse Flower by Anne Mette Hancock

The Corpse Flower
by Anne Mette Hancock

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and for these gifted books!

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publish Date: October 12, 2021
336 Pages
Series: Kalda og Schafer #1
Genres: Nordic Noir, Thriller, Crime Fiction

A Danish journalist digs deep to uncover a web of lies that stretches back to a grisly murder, but knowing the truth might put an end to her story.

It's early September in Copenhagen, the rain has been coming down for weeks, and 36-year-old journalist Heloise Kaldan is in the middle of a nightmare. One of her sources has been caught lying, and she could lose her job over it. And then she receives the first in a series of cryptic and ominous letters from an alleged killer.

Wanted in connection with the fatal stabbing of a young lawyer three years earlier, Anna Kiel hasn't been seen by anyone since she left the crime scene covered in blood. The police think she's fled the country and have zero clues as to her motive. But homicide detective Erik Scháfer comes up with the first lead when the reporter who first wrote about the case is found murdered in his apartment. Has Anna Kiel struck again, or is there more than one killer at large? And why does every clue point directly to Heloise Kaldan?

Meanwhile, the letters keep coming, and they hint at a connection between Anna and Heloise. As Heloise starts digging deeper, she realizes that, to tell Anna's story, she will have to revisit the darkest parts of her own past--confronting someone she swore she'd never see again.

My Review:

Nordic noir thrillers are just gorgeous pieces of work - such great atmosphere and feels so much darker than other thrillers... but in such a subtle way.  It's hard to explain bt if you've read a few in this genre I think you'll know what I mean.  And this first in a series thriller most definitely fits the bill.

Is there such a thing as journalism procedurals? Because this felt like a police/journalism procedural - but even if you dont' like procedurals, don't let this deter you because it's not quite so bogged down by the details. I'm not even certain where to start with this one.  I decided to listen to this one and felt lost in certain sections as while the pacing was suspenseful, it also felt like there was a lot going on within.  Not gonna lie, I did enjoy learning about The Corpse Flower but by the second half had almost forgotten all about it.  And danggggggg... the build up to this one...

I really enjoyed getting to know Heloise.  She's tenacious and multi-layered and I'm happy this is going to be a series as I've love to see where she goes from here. And y'all... the ending to this.  The things she finds out.... this is when I truly paid full, 100% attention to it.  I don't know why I was making a face when listening to these parts as it's not like it's the first time I've read on this subject matter.  I think I was just so within Heloise's head that I FELT it when she went through it.  And Anna... phew girl.  But also Erik.  Yeah, ya'll... while nordic noirs aren't for everyone, I absolutely loved this one.  Sometimes you just need to tell someone's story for them... no matter how hard it hits you. 


Review: There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins - Book & Movie

There's Someone Inside Your House
by Stephanie Perkins

A big thanks to Penguin Teen & Dutton for this gifted book and being a part of the watch party for the Netflix adapted movie!

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: September 26, 2017
320 Pages
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller

It's been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she's still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii.

Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets.

My Book & Movie Review:

Oh hello there.  Did you say young adult, horror and thriller? How could I EVER say no to this?  I'm not sure why I missed reading this when it first came out but am happy to have had the opportunity right before the Netflix movie watch with @PenguinTeen.  I literally finished the book 43 minutes before watch time! 🤣 And so... let me break it down for you...

The book was just ok for me.  It didn't feel like horror and more like a dark thriller with romance qualities.  Now, I get it's basically a slasher so I understand why it was put in the horror realm... it just doesn't ooze off the pages, if you know what I mean.  I felt it was less about the murders and more about Makani and Ollie - which I did enjoy their arc tbh.  And with this being centered, I also appreciated that their relationship wasn't instalove and didn't feel forced.  But going back to the murderous parts of the book... I enjoyed some of the scenes but once we got to the reveal and reasoning behind it... sorry but meh.  Did not work for me at all.

Now... the movie - this is a rare case where I felt the movie was much better than the book.  While a LOT of things deviated from the book (like A LOT), I enjoyed that it felt VERY YA but also was much creepier and definitely much more horror than the book allowed.  They could've at least given Ollie the pink hair he deserved though, y'all.  I mean, come on! But hell, what can I say... I love these kinds of movies so bravo, Netflix! 

What I enjoyed about both... the diversity.  Thank you for making a diverse cast and for it not being centered around the typical popular woe-is-me clique.  I actually wouldn't mind seeing Makani's background being made into a movie with what she went through.  I somehow was more interested than this than anything.. in the book anyways.

Honestly, take it for what it's worth.  If you want something light to read that defies logic at times, definitely take a stab at the book (see what I did there?) but if you want something a bit darker and a fun horror movie, grab some popcorn and turn it on.

Book: ★★☆
Movie: ★★★☆