Social Media Icons

Friday, July 29, 2022

Point Last Seen by Christina Dodd


Point Last Seen by Christina Dodd

From New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd comes a brand new, standalone suspense about a reclusive artist who retrieves a seemingly dead woman from the Pacific Ocean...only to have her come back to life with no memory of what happened to her. With a strong female protagonist, a chilling villain, and twisty secrets that will keep you turning the pages. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Karin Slaughter and Sandra Brown, POINT LAST SEEN, will have readers keeping the lights on all night.


When you’ve already died, there should be nothing left to fear… When Adam Ramsdell pulls Elle’s half-frozen body from the surf on a lonely California beach, she has no memory of what her full name is and how she got those bruises ringing her throat.


Elle finds refuge in Adam’s home on the edge of Gothic, a remote village located between the steep lonely mountains and the raging Pacific Ocean. As flashes of her memory return, Elle faces a terrible truth—buried in her mind lurks a secret so dark it could get her killed.


Everyone in Gothic seems to hide a dark past. Even Adam knows more than he will admit. Until Elle can unravel the truth, she doesn’t know who to trust, when to run and who else might be hurt when the killer who stalks her nightmares appears to finish what he started… | Harlequin | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s

New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes "edge-of-the-seat suspense" (Iris Johansen) with "brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd" (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called "scary, sexy, and smartly written" by Booklist and, much to her mother's delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina's worlds and join her mailing list at

Author Website | Twitter: @ChristinaDodd | Facebook: Christina Dodd 
Instagram: @christinadoddbooks | Goodreads


A Morning in February

Gothic, California

The storm off the Pacific had been brutal, a relentless night of cold rain and shrieking wind. Adam Ramsdell had spent the hours working, welding and polishing a tall, heavy, massive piece of sculpture, not hearing the wailing voices that lamented their own passing, not shuddering when he caught sight of his own face in the polished stainless steel. He sweated as he moved swiftly to capture the image he saw in his mind, a clawed monster rising from the deep: beautiful, deadly, dangerous.

And as always, when dawn broke, the storm moved on and he stepped away, he realized he had failed.

Impatient, he shoved the trolley that held the sculpture toward the wall. One of claws swiped his bare chest and proved to him he’d done one thing right: razor-sharp, it opened a long, thin gash in his skin. Blood oozed to the surface. He used his toe to lock the wheels on the trolley, securing the sculpture in case of the occasional California earth tremor.

Then with the swift efficiency of someone who had dealt with minor wounds, his own and others’, he found a clean towel and stanched the flow. Going into the tiny bathroom, he washed the site and used superglue to close the gash. The cut wasn’t deep; it would hold.

He tied on his running shoes and stepped outside into the short, bent, wet grass that covered his acreage. The rosemary hedge that grew at the edge of his front porch released its woody scent. The newly washed sunlight had burned away the fog, and Adam started running uphill toward town, determined to get breakfast, then come home to bed. Now that the sculpture was done and the storm had passed, he needed the bliss of oblivion, the moments of peace sleep could give him.

Yet every year as the Ides of March and the anniversary of his failure approached, nightmares tracked through his sleep and followed him into the light. They were never the same but always a variation on a theme: he had failed, and in two separate incidents, people had died…

The route was all uphill; nevertheless, each step was swift and precise. The sodden grasses bent beneath his running shoes. He never slipped; a man could die from a single slip. He’d always known that, but now, five years later, he knew it in ways he could never forget.

As he ran, he shed the weariness of a long night of cutting, grinding, hammering, polishing. He reached the asphalt and he lengthened his stride, increased his pace.

He ran past the cemetery where a woman knelt to take a chalk etching of a crumbling headstone, past the Gothic Museum run by local historian Freya Goodnight.

The Gothic General Store stood on the outside of the lowest curve of the road. Today the parking lot was empty, the rockers were unoccupied, and the store’s sixteen-year-old clerk lounged in the open door. “How you doing, Mr. Ramsdell?” she called.

He lifted his hand. “Hi, Tamalyn.”

She giggled.

Somehow, on the basis of him waving and remembering her name, she had fallen in love with him. He reminded himself that the dearth of male teens in the area left him little competition, but he could feel her watching him as he ran past the tiny hair salon where Daphne was cutting a local rancher’s hair in the outdoor barber chair.

His body urged him to slow to a walk, but he deliberately pushed himself.

Every time he took a turn, he looked up at Widow’s Peak, the rocky ridge that overshadowed the town, and the Tower, the edifice built by the Swedish silent-film star who in the early 1930s had bought land and created the town to her specifications.

At last he saw his destination, the Live Oak, a four-star restaurant in a one-star town. The three-story building stood at the corner of the highest hairpin turn and housed the eatery and three exclusive suites available for rent.

When Adam arrived he was gasping, sweating, holding his side. Since his return from the Amazon basin, he had never completely recovered his stamina.


At the corner of the building, he turned to look out at the view.

The vista was magnificent: spring-green slopes, wave-battered sea stacks, the ocean’s endless surges, and the horizon that stretched to eternity. During the Gothic jeep tour, Freya always told the tourists that from this point, if a person tripped and fell, that person could tumble all the way to the beach. Which was an exaggeration. Mostly.

Adam used the small towel hooked into his waistband to wipe the sweat off his face. Then disquiet began its slow crawl up his spine.

Someone had him under observation.

He glanced up the grassy hill toward the olive grove and stared. A glint, like someone stood in the trees’ shadows watching with binoculars. Watching him.

No. Not him. A peregrine falcon glided through the shredded clouds, and seagulls cawed and circled. Birders came from all over the word to view the richness of the Big Sur aviary life. As he watched, the glint disappeared. Perhaps the birder had spotted a tufted puffin. Adam felt an uncomfortable amount of relief in that: it showed a level of paranoia to imagine someone was watching him, but…

But. He had learned never to ignore his instincts. The hard way, of course.

He stepped into the restaurant doorway, and from across the restaurant he heard the loud snap of the continental waiter’s fingers and saw the properly suited Ludwig point at a small, isolated table in the back corner. Adam’s usual table.

Before Adam took a second step, he made an inventory of all possible entrances and exits, counted the number of occupants and assessed them as possible threats, and evaluated any available weapons. An old habit, it gave him peace of mind.

Three exits: front door, door to kitchen, door to the upper suites.

Mr. Kulshan sat by the windows, as was his wont. He liked the sun, and he lived to people-watch. Why not? He was in his midnineties. What else had he to do?

In the conference room, behind an open door, reserved for a business breakfast, was a long table with places set for twenty people.

A young couple, tourists by the look of them, held hands on the table and smiled into each other’s eyes.

Nice. Really nice to know young love still existed.

There, her back against the opposite wall, was an actress. Obviously an actress. She had possibly arrived for breakfast, or to stay in one of the suites. Celebrities visits happened often enough that most of the town was blasé, although the occasional scuffle with the paparazzi did lend interest to the village’s tranquil days.

She wasn’t pretty. Her face was too angular, her mouth too wide, her chin too determined. She was reading through a stack of papers and using a marker to highlight and a ballpoint to make notes… And she wore glasses. Not casual I need a little visual assistance glasses. These were Coke-bottle bottoms set in lime-green frames.

Interesting: Why had an actress not had laser surgery? Not that it mattered. Behind those glasses her brown eyes sparked with life, interest and humor, although he didn’t understand how someone could convey all that while never looking up. She had shampoo-commercial hair—long, dark, wavy, shining—and when she caught it in her hand and shoved it over one shoulder, he felt his breath catch.

A gravelly voice interrupted a moment that had gone on too long and revealed too clearly how Adam’s isolation had affected him. “Hey, you. Boy! Come here.” Mr. Kulshan beckoned. Mr. Kulshan, who had once been tall, sturdy and handsome. Then the jaws of old age had seized him, gnawed him down to a bent-shouldered, skinny old man.

Adam lifted a finger to Ludwig, indicating breakfast would have to wait.

Ludwig glowered. Maybe his name was suggestive, but the man looked like Ludwig van Beethoven: rough, wild, wavy hair, dark brooding eyes under bushy eyebrows, pouty lips, cleft in the chin. He seldom talked and never smiled. Most people were afraid of him.

Adam was not. He walked to Mr. Kulshan’s table and took a seat opposite the old man. “What can I do for you, sir?”

“Don’t call me sir. I told you, call me K.H.”

Adam didn’t call people by their first names. That encouraged friendliness.

“If you can’t do that, call me Kulshan.” With his fork, the old guy stabbed a lump of breaded something and handed it to Adam. “What do you think this is?”

Adam had traveled the world, learned to eat what was offered, so he took the fork, sniffed the lump and nibbled a corner. “I believe it’s fried sweetbread.”

Mr. Kulshan made a gagging noise. “My grandmother made us eat sweetbread.” He bit it off the end of the fork. “This isn’t as awful as hers.” With loathing, he said, “This is Frenchie food.”

“Señor Alfonso is Spanish.”

Mr. Kulshan ignored Adam for all he was worth. “Next thing you know, this Alfonso will be scraping snails off the sidewalk and calling it escargots.”

“Actually…” Adam caught the twinkle in Mr. Kulshan’s eyes and stood. “Fine. Pull my chain. I’m going to have breakfast.”

Mr. Kulshan caught his wrist. “Have you heard what Caltrans is doing about the washout?” He referred to the California Department of Transportation and their attempts to repair the Pacific Coast Highway and open it to traffic.

“No. What?”

“Nothing!” Mr. Kulshan cackled wildly, then nodded at the actress. “The girl. Isn’t she something? Built like a brick shithouse.”

Interested, Adam settled back into the chair. “Who is she?”

“Don’t you ever read People magazine? That’s Clarice Burbage. She’s set to star in the modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s…um…one of Shakespeare’s plays. Who cares? She’ll play a king. Or something. That’s the script she’s reading.”

Clarice looked up as if she’d heard them—which she had, because Mr. Kulshan wore hearing aids that didn’t work well enough to compensate for his hearing loss—and smiled and nodded genially.

Mr. Kulshan grinned at her. “Hi, Clarice. Loved you in Inferno!”

“Thank you, K.H.” She projected her voice so he could hear her.

Mr. Kulshan shot Adam a triumphant look that clearly said See? Clarice Burbage calls me by my first name.

The actress-distraction was why the two men were surprised when the door opened and a middle-aged, handsome, casually dressed woman with cropped red hair walked in.

Mr. Kulshan made a sound of disgust. “Her.”

Excerpted from Point Last Seen by Christina Dodd. Copyright © 2022 by Christina Dodd. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Review: From the Deep by Kateri Stanley

From the Deep
by Kateri Stanley

Thank you Rachel's Random Resources for this gifted copy for review.

Publisher: Burton Mayers Books
Publish Date: May 6, 2022
Kindle Edition
294 Pages
Genre: Fantasy

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Waterstones

Julian Finch, widower and fisherman, awakes to learn that the bodies of two colleagues have washed up on the beach of Drake Cove. The close-knit community is under fierce public scrutiny due to a long-standing tradition called "The Culling", the annual slaughter of pilot whales for consumption. An act which divides the nation.

The suspects are the extreme animal rights group, the Fighters Against Animal Cruelty (FAAC) who go wherever the politics is trending. They've been harassing the small fishing town for many years, smashing up their boats and sending vicious hate mail.

Tensions mount after a viral video, uploaded by the FAAC of Julian killing a pregnant whale, causes uproar online and in real life. In the aftermath, Julian becomes the victim of hate crime. In order to avoid further life-threatening attacks, Julian and his daughter take refuge in the home of Frank Blothio: ex-fisherman turned writer and political activist who does not have the best history with the animal rights movement, or Drake Cove as a whole.

As Julian integrates into the Blothio way of life, he discovers heinous secrets and disturbing truths lurking beneath the skin of his hometown that will change his life forever.

About the Author:

Kateri Stanley is a pseudonym for the multi-genre fiction writer. Since being a child, Kateri has been inspired by the wondrous mediums of books, music, TV and film. After working in the healthcare industry for eight years and studying for an Arts and Humanities degree, she made the decision to move cities in the West Midlands and live with her ever-suffering partner and their felines. Her debut novel Forgive Me was published by indie press house, DarkStroke Books in 2021 and it reached #1 in the US Horror Fiction charts on Amazon. She is currently working on her third novel, Bittersweet Injuries and would love to pursue a full-time career in writing.

My Review:

The synopsis intrigued me from the beginning but had I known how this story was going to play out, I would've devoured this as soon as I had received it.... which admittedly was awhile ago but life got me crazed and here we are.  There is so much happening here and you simply must get involved.

What happens when traditions, like the culling of whales for consumption, become unnecessary as times change but is the only thing certain families know?  Where's the line between slaughtering and using all the parts to animal cruelty?  Are there shades of grey? I'm sure we ALL know that sometimes traditions just need to die... and sometimes extreme measures need to be taken to change the minds of some.

I became IMMENSELY involved in this story when Shae become involved. I was not expecting this story line but loved it and the message she ended up bringing.  Plus, give me mermaids and I'm SOLD.  Listen, this isn't a spoiler, it's a must know because I hope it further draws you into wanting to read this story.  Dark fantasy swirled into modern day animal cruelty activism.  Heroism and villainism intermingled into a story that had me glued to the pages.

There was one scene at the beginning that had me flinch so I already knew who I was going to root for and yet I could still understand where Julian was coming from. ARGH. I love it when a book does this.  The only thing keeping me from giving this all the stars is that certain parts felt a bit disjointed. Other than that....  come on in readers, the water is bloody warm.


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Review: Good Husbands by Cate Ray

Good Husbands 
by Cate Ray

Huge thank you to Park Row for this gifted book.

Publisher: Park Row
Publish Date: June 7, 2022
384 Pages
Genre: Thriller

Three wives, one letter, and an explosive secret that will change everything.

He said, she said. Who do you believe?

Jessica, Stephanie and Priyanka are complete strangers, but they have one thing in common: they’ve each received a letter accusing their husbands of committing a sexual assault more than two decades prior. Is the accusation true or is there more to the story? It was a secret that remained buried for years.

With their worlds suddenly turned upside down, they don’t know who to trust—a complete stranger or the men they love and built their lives with. The three women come together to embark on a hunt for the truth, but they are hardly prepared for what they will discover. Who is the victim, and will justice ultimately be served?

My Review:

What woud you do if you received a random letter from a girl claiming her mother was raped by your husband over 20 years ago... and he wasn't alone.  Do you disrupt your own life for something that could possibly not even be true? Or do you have to look into this because it woud be a unforgivable act from someone you *thought* you knew and now see differently? What a predicament.

This book touches on the subject of sexual assault, what that can mean across the board, the consequences that ripped throughout the lives of the victims and assaulters and those around them. It was interesting to get to know the very different three women - Jess, Stephanie and Priyanka.  The author does a great job in showing how differently people can react to disastrous news and how doing the "right" thing can take on so many layers.  Is the ripple effect worth a 'they said, she said' situation?  OH how the moral compass turns.

If this were to be appropriately categorized in the "thriller" genre then it would be a very light domestic suspense mystery-ish one that reads more like a contemporary novel of did they or didn't they.  I appreciate the themes laden within but at times I felt like I was getting statistical facts that didn't feel seamless within the storyline. 

I was intrugued from the get go but felt the middle got a bit muddled down, losing my interest a bit. Was the ending worth it?  The mind boggles.  While someone is a "very clever girl", it most certainly isn't me because I'm not sure I got it, tbh.  Entertaining?  Sure.  Worth it? I'm torn straight down the middle.


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Review: Counterfeit by Kristin Chen

by Kristin Chen
Narrated by Catherine Ho

Thanks so much to William Morrow, HarperAudio and for this #giftedbook.

Publisher: HarperAudio
Publish Date: June 7, 2022
7 hrs 20 min
Genre: Contemporary

Money can't buy happiness... but it can buy a decent fake.

Ava Wong has always played it safe. As a strait-laced, rule-abiding Chinese American lawyer with a successful surgeon as a husband, a young son, and a beautiful home--she's built the perfect life. But beneath this façade, Ava's world is crumbling: her marriage is falling apart, her expensive law degree hasn't been used in years, and her toddler's tantrums are pushing her to the breaking point.

Enter Winnie Fang, Ava's enigmatic college roommate from Mainland China, who abruptly dropped out under mysterious circumstances. Now, twenty years later, Winnie is looking to reconnect with her old friend. But the shy, awkward girl Ava once knew has been replaced with a confident woman of the world, dripping in luxury goods, including a coveted Birkin in classic orange. The secret to her success? Winnie has developed an ingenious counterfeit scheme that involves importing near-exact replicas of luxury handbags and now she needs someone with a U.S. passport to help manage her business--someone who'd never be suspected of wrongdoing, someone like Ava. But when their spectacular success is threatened and Winnie vanishes once again, Ava is left to face the consequences.

Swift, surprising, and sharply comic, Counterfeit is a stylish and feminist caper with a strong point of view and an axe to grind. Peering behind the curtain of the upscale designer storefronts and the Chinese factories where luxury goods are produced, Kirstin Chen interrogates the myth of the model minority through two unforgettable women determined to demand more from life. 

My Review:

Who has ever owned a *fake* designer bag? 🙋  Honestly, I could give a 💩 about designer labels (though if I had the money to spend, I'd definitely be more intrigued...).  COUNTERFEIT tells the story of Ava and Winnie, two Asian Americans who are conning their way into the wallets of the rich and entitled. And of course, the more you get away with something, the more you're willing to expand on it... increasing all risks.

I think the take I found most interesting in this read was when Ava realized that now she couldn't get away with her "model minority", demure, innocent Asian presence anymore and that she was now being looked upon as sketchy and someone the stores now needed to keep an eye on.  

I honestly don't have a whole lot to say on this one.  It's an easy read/listen.  The narrator is amazing and helped to keep me involved in the story.  While I do think the second half went a teensy bit off the rails, I still enjoyed this quick and entertaining story.  Go forth and buy your handbags - but remember, a bag is a bag is a bag, but you may want to get it authenticated before purchase. 


Friday, June 17, 2022

Review: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry
by Bonnie Garmus
Narrated by Miranda Raison & Pandora Sykes

Thanks to Random House Audio for this delightful gifted audiobook.

Publisher: Random House Audio
Publish Date: April 5, 2022
11 hrs, 55 min
Genres: Historical Fiction, Contemporary

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

My Review:

Chemistry, feminism, cooking, a precocious daughter and the small views through the eyes of Six Thirty make this quite an interesting and delightful listen.  Was this "laugh-out-loud funny" as the synopsis dictates - definitely not (at least not for me) but there were definite moments where I enjoyed the dryness of it all.

Elizabeth is a character who is very sure of what she thinks and what she will stand for.  Now the 60s weren't exactly screaming equality for women and it certainly wasn't doing it in science but because of people like Elizabeth, look where we are now. And she rows?  I would love to see that erg machine she had and see how it compares to the machines of today.  Let's see what the adaptation, that supposedly is coming, shows us!  

I would totally watch Supper at Six.  I think. I love cooking shows and how Elizabeth turns her cooking show into a place to help women rise (and keep to her roots in chemistry)... well, this is just a testament to her character.  She already knew dogs could understand more than we give them credit for (see how we have animal 'talking' buttons' these days?).  Six Thirty (their dog) and Mad (the daughter) are by far my favorites and is what brought *some* levity to this somewhat very serious book.  (Could we get Elizabeth to enjoy and laugh a bit more, eh?)

For the most part, I loved this book and what lessons it was teaching us.  However, I didn't expect it to be so serious and wanted the laughter it so promised. That being said, I couldn't stop listening and love that this story stemmed from the author having a very bad day at work dealing with sexism.  And as a debut? Hell yeah, Garmus!


Review: Hide by Kiersten White

by Kiersten White

Thanks so much to Del Rey Books for these gifted copies.

Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publish Date: May 24, 2022
256 Pages
Genre: Horror

The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don't get caught.

The prize: enough money to change everything.

Even though everyone is desperate to win--to seize their dream futures or escape their haunting pasts--Mack feels sure that she can beat her competitors. All she has to do is hide, and she's an expert at that.

It's the reason she's alive, and her family isn't.

But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes this competition is more sinister than even she imagined, and that together might be the only way to survive.

Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide, but nowhere to run.

Come out, come out, wherever you are.

A high-stakes hide-and-seek competition turns deadly in this dark supernatural thriller from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

My Review:

insert photot

Would I spend seven days in an abandoned amusement park for $50,000.00? Your guess is as good as mine.  I'd like to think *yes* but my ** anxiety level of *nope* may persuade me differently.  Also, I've read and watched WAY too much horror to know that this will likely not end well.

I've actually never read this author before but with this cover and that premise I couldn't say no. A little bit of hide and seek gone bananas.  Serve me up!  From what I understand, this author write mostly YA fantasy (?) and I definitely could feel the YA in this book as it felt more like YA over Adult fiction. 🤷 But it was still a lot of fun. 

Despite the NUMEROUS characters (too many for my taste, tbh) and some plot holes, I could absolutely get behind this competition.. and the consequences it provides. 😏 I am glad that I weirdly read the synopsis right before reading this (something I rarely ever do) because otherwise I may have been disappointed in the supernatural part of it as it comes across less so in the rest of the description and I would've expected a more bloody-fight-to-the-death kind of thing.  But then again, maybe it it. *wink*  Guess you'll just have to read this and find out.


Saturday, May 21, 2022

Review: Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

Our Crooked Hearts
by Melissa Albert

A huge thanks to Flatiron Books for this gifted book.

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publish Date: June 28, 2022
352 Pages
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult


Seventeen-year-old Ivy’s summer break kicks off with an accident, a punishment, and a mystery: a stranger whose appearance in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night, heralds a string of increasingly unsettling events. As the days pass, Ivy grapples with eerie offerings, corroded memories, and a secret she’s always known—that there’s more to her mother than meets the eye.


Dana has always been perceptive. And the summer she turns sixteen, with the help of her best friend and an ambitious older girl, her gifts bloom into a heady fling with the supernatural, set in a city of magical possibilities and secret mystics. As the trio’s aspirations darken, they find themselves speeding toward a violent breaking point.

Years after it began, Ivy and Dana’s shared story will come down to a reckoning among a daughter, a mother, and the dark forces they never should’ve messed with.

My Review:

What a fun, paranormal, YA fantasy novel with Craft-esque vibes.  Exactly the kind of book I find fun to read.  I really loved Hazelwood by this author, but I think I like this one more!  Albert gives us two timelines.  Ivy, in the present, with a complicated relationship with her mother, who has recently seen a stranger appear in the road which puts her on the path to figuring this mystery out.  And Dana, in the past, Ivy's mother, who knew she had special gifts.  Finds her way into a group of people with her best friend, Fee, which launches a lifelong pursuit of safety. The mother/daughter dynamic between Ivy and Dana was complicated but underneath it all, they protected themselves and each other in their own special ways. 

Personally, I really loved seeing how this all played out. At first, I really loved the present-day perspective more but then as the book went along, I found myself more and more interested in the past. The visuals I had while reading this were fun.  For those who tend to steer away from YA, you may want to give this a chance.  It did not "read like a YA" novel and I would say it's on the cusp of an NA book instead.  While *maybe* this could've been a few pages shorter, it never felt like a slog. 

Everything I want to mention could be a potential spoiler so I'm gonna stop here.  But if you like haunted libraries, witches, covens, family secrets with a pinch of first love... add this to your TBR asap. (Does anyone else feels like there's an abundance of rabbits in horror books these days?!)


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Review: The Haunting of Leigh Harker by Darcy Coates

The Haunting of Leigh Harker
by Darcy Coates

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publish Date: October 7, 2021 (first pub 9/7/21)
340 Pages
Genres: Horror, Paranormal

Leigh Harker's quiet suburban home was her sanctuary for more than a decade, until things abruptly changed. Curtains open by themselves. Radios turn off and on. And a dark figure looms in the shadows of her bedroom door at night, watching her, waiting for her to finally let down her guard enough to fall asleep.

Pushed to her limits but unwilling to abandon her home, Leigh struggles to find answers. But each step forces her towards something more terrifying than she ever imagined.

A poisonous shadow seeps from the locked door beneath the stairs. The handle rattles through the night and fingernails scratch at the wood. Her home harbours dangerous secrets, and now that Leigh is trapped within its walls, she fears she may never escape.

Do you think you're safe?

You're wrong.

My Review:

Finally a buddy read with @escapefromrealilty! And what better way to launch our *first* with this paranormal horror novel. *shiver* (and yes, I really am this pale and NOT a ghost... yet)

Ok - I'm ashamed to say that this is my first Coates novel though I own several of her books. This haunting story starts off strong - the atmosphere is built from the get go and is very ominous.  I wanted to tell Leigh to GTFO! There was too many weird things happening and if salt ain't gonna help you keep the paranormal at bay then you may as well make some margaritas.... 😉  I get to Chapter 9 and um, WHAT.  Not that it's particularly a new avenue for a book to go but it still surprised me greatly!  

Sadly, after this it became more of a whodunit kinda thrillery read between the paranormal and the not.  I think I just wanted way more creepy.  I bet if they did an adaptation to screen it could get REALLY dark. (DO IT.)  And beyond this, it was also a story of companionship and relationships and, not gonna lie, I really enjoyed watching Leigh and Sarah build their bond.  Probably one of my favorite parts to be honest.
While I didn't figure out the WHO, I did figure out the WHERE... and quite certainly would go visit them in a heartbeat (or not, if I'm dead as I didn't rule out going as a ghost guest).  

I didn't quite get the super creepy gothic ghost story I was expecting, but I did get a great novel with a lot of heart.  Now excuse me while I go find an extreme horror novella to satiate my blood thirst.


Friday, May 13, 2022

Review: Dark Lines by Jack Harding

Dark Lines
by Jack Harding

Thanks so much to DarkLit Press for this gifted copy.

Publisher: DarkLit Press
Publish Date: May 2, 2022
Genres: Horror, Short Stories

From the author of Ripper Country comes sixteen tales of psychological horror, each more frightening than the last. Venture into a dark and brooding world of twists and turns where things are rarely as they seem, and terror reigns supreme…

A mother is haunted by an apocalyptic vision…a husband banished to the couch is awoken by a bump in the night…a vampire catches up with an old friend…a brooding man-child suffers some unpleasant side-effects from a new medication…an office worker’s routine commute home turns out to be anything but…

Let Jack Harding take you on a perilous journey into the nightmare-inducing landscape he has crafted for your enjoyment. Dark Lines is a versatile and gut-wrenching collection that will stir your senses, and stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. 

My Review:

What a fun horror collection!!  So many good ones here so definitely would recommend picking up.  As with all collections, some I liked more than others.  The one that will stick with me the most is the one about the spiders because NO... I can't do insects or arachnids - this is why I'll be cremated over being buried. Don't @ me. Hahah

But seriously folks, there's a lot to get out of this and there's definitely something for everyone so pick it up and enjoy it! Whether you do that in one sitting or devour a story at a time. Either way, keep those lights on. 


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Review: Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel #ATBR2022

Just Like Mother
by Anne Heltzel

Huge thanks to Tor Nightfire for these gifted copies.

Publisher: Nightfire
Publish Date: May 17, 2022
320 Pages
Genre: Horror

A girl would be such a blessing...

The last time Maeve saw her cousin was the night she escaped the cult they were raised in. For the past two decades, Maeve has worked hard to build a normal life in New York City, where she keeps everything—and everyone—at a safe distance.

When Andrea suddenly reappears, Maeve regains the only true friend she’s ever had. Soon she’s spending more time at Andrea’s remote Catskills estate than in her own cramped apartment. Maeve doesn’t even mind that her cousin’s wealthy work friends clearly disapprove of her single lifestyle. After all, Andrea has made her fortune in the fertility industry—baby fever comes with the territory.

The more Maeve immerses herself in Andrea’s world, the more disconnected she feels from her life back in the city; and the cousins’ increasing attachment triggers memories Maeve has fought hard to bury. But confronting the terrors of her childhood may be the only way for Maeve to transcend the nightmare still to come…

My Review:

Hmmmm... Oh myyyyyyyyyyy.  For those who don't know, I absolutely HATE dolls.  Hate them.  Like decapitated my Barbies and threw various body parts in trash cans across my neighborhood so they couldn't reassemble and come after me.  Yes, yes... it's a wonder I've made it this far in life.  But hey, you must FACE YOUR FEARS right?  Not as if this cover watched me wherever I went. Nope. It DID NOT. *shiver*

Now, the cover is very apropos of this storyline and lemme just say... cult vibes with creepy lifelike dolls... how could I say no?  All my happy horror nerves were all a tingle.  But how, oh how, do I review this?  Ok. Lemme give it a go.  Maeve and Andrea grew up together in a nightmarish childhood and then were forced apart against their wills.  Growing into adulthood, they took two drastically different paths.  And what a bang their reunion ends up causing.

Uff.  I loved this book but also had some tiny issues with it.  I wasn't to shake Maeve so many times but if all characters made the best choices, where would all my entertainment go?  I felt like things were pretty obvious and knew where the story was going to go chapter after chapter.  But all of this also fascinated me so I was hungry to feed myself page after page.  All the red herrings filling me up and pointing the way to the obvious conclusion.  And surprisingly not *quite* as creepy as I expected it to be considering my attitude towards dolls though there are certainly a couple of scenes that will stick with me for quite some time.

While I wish this wasn't as predictable as it was for me (and had one pet peeve moment of mine....), I definitely had a fun time reading it and look forward to reading more by Heltzel. Suspend the belief and have yourself a good time.  And keep an eye out... they're EVERYWHERE.


Jessica's Review:

Here is a book where the cover absolutely sets the tone for the book before you even open it. That baby doll head is super unsettling and I definitely had this book face down on the nightstand. JUST LIKE MOTHER by Anne Heltzel was a quick read and while there are definite horror elements, I would probably classify this as more of a psychological thriller. There was plenty of suspense and tension to go around and who doesn’t love a good story about an extreme cult?

Maeve and her cousin, Andrea, were two young girls raised in what was called the Mother Collective. A cult that Maeve was able to escape and ultimately cause it’s undoing. Ever since that day, Maeve has never stopped thinking about and longing for her cousin and best friend, but was never successful in finding her. Fast forward twenty years, Maeve is mostly isolated in the city and keeps her casual kind-of boyfriend at a distance but after doing an at-home DNA kit she gets an email from a woman claiming to be Andrea. They meet and their bond is almost instant – who wouldn’t want to hold onto the one bit of flesh and blood family they had left? Maeve quickly learns that her cousin is an incredibly successful business woman that is the CEO of a groundbreaking startup called NewLife.

When Andrea invites her to spend her birthday weekend at their new historical mansion in the Catskills she agrees without hesitation. Why not spend the time with her cousin again and repair the bond that was broken when the cult was broken up? The newest project they’re unveiling soon at NewLife is the Olivia doll – an incredibly, and almost creepily, lifelike doll that women can take care of to either prepare them for motherhood or to help in the grieving process for those that have lost children. Just the description of these dolls was unnerving, like I understand the sentiment and how they could greatly help the women in need, but dolls still creep me out.

Well, without going into too much detail, Maeve begins discovering secrets and unsettling things about Andrea and those around her. I will say that I had some things figured out fairly early but that didn’t take away from the fun of it. I was able to guess some of the events but I wasn’t sure how they were going to unravel, so that kept the suspense up for me. In the end, I’m definitely convinced I’d be seen as a Bloody Mary, so I’m glad this isn’t based off a true story. I will definitely be looking for more from Heltzel!

5 stars