Review: Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

Clown in a CornfieldClown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Quinn Maybrook moves to Kettle Springs, Missouri, after her father accepts a position as the town’s General Practitioner.

He didn’t really ask for her opinion on the matter, but due to everything they have been through recently, Quinn is willing to forgive him. She just wants to see her Dad happy again.

And to be honest, Quinn is ready to leave Philadelphia as well. Since her Mom died, it’s just too tough to be there, to deal with everyone’s pitying looks.

When they arrive at their new home, the same home as the previous town doctor, they discover a dilapidated old farmhouse. Quinn can’t say she’s surprised. It’s even pretty much in the middle of a cornfield.

Cue the eerie atmosphere. Does anyone else find cornfields to be hella creepy?

No, just me?

Unpacking in her new room, Quinn gazes out over the expanse of fields surrounding them. She notices an abandoned factory in the distance.

There’s a mural painted on the side. It’s a giant clown face and the pervy skeeve seems to be staring right into her window.

She can’t believe this is her life now. It’s all surreal. This town seems like something straight out of a movie.

Attending school the following day, Quinn begins to get acquainted with the local kids. An over-the-top teacher having a temper tantrum, even kicks her out of his classroom on her first day. It’s a lot to process.

Because of this event, she ends up hanging out with some of the more popular kids in the school. They seem a little wild, but not all bad.

They end up inviting her to a party Founder’s Day weekend. What could go wrong?

Y’all, I had so much fun reading this. Clown in a Cornfield was EVERYTHING I was hoping it would be!

Once I picked it up, I could not put it down. It is the perfect book to read to transition into spooky season. It has all the Fall vibes and I was living for it!!!

Is this a perfect book? No, it’s not, but was it the perfect book for me?

Abso-freakin-lutely!!

Those of you who know me, you know that clowns are my biggest fear. I actually have never read a book with clowns in it.

Not even It.

It’s true. I knew after seeing this around and reading the synopsis, that I wanted to give it a try.

I am so happy I went outside my comfort zone and picked this one up. It truly had everything I love in a Teen Scream, which incidentally is one of my favorite subgenres of Horror.

Clown in a Cornfield features the new girl trope, the final girl trope, kids behaving badly, corrupt town officials, an ominous atmosphere, a huge teen party, biting social commentary, a cleverly positioned ending, and plenty of jumps along the way!

This is just pure fun on the page. It’s a must read for the Fall!!! Don’t miss out, Frendo will be mad if you do.

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Review: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

To Sleep in a Sea of StarsTo Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Originally, I was planning to give To Sleep in a Sea of Stars 4.5-stars and round up.

After having some time to reflect on my reading experience, however, I can give this nothing but 5-stars. I CANNOT STOP thinking about it.

This novel is quite the accomplishment for Paolini. If I am remembering the Author’s Note correctly, he worked on this project for nine years and it shows; as close to perfection as you can get.

In the beginning of the story, we meet and follow Kira Navarez, a xenobiologist, who discovers an alien relic while on a survey mission to an uninhabited planet.

The relic isn’t as dormant as it first appears and ends up contaminating and binding with Kira. This event has lasting repercussions, leaving her feeling responsible for some negative events that follow.

This is a story of first contact. I wasn’t aware of that going in, although it says it directly in the synopsis, I missed it somehow.

I love first contact stories. It’s actually one of my favorite subgenres of Science Fiction. It is so well done here, you can definitely tell that Paolini is a Sci-Fi fan himself.

This story is so vast, it is hard to give brief plot points that would sum up the entirety of this novel’s scope. There is so much that happens from the first time Kira comes in contact with the alien suit to the stunning conclusion.

Reading this, I became so attached to her and the other characters as well. The crew that Kira travels with, defending the Universe, are the perfect rag-tag group of lovable rebels.

I loved how Paolini incorporated humor and witty banter into this story. It made the characters seem so real; they were reacting how you expect people in real life to react to such crazy and dire circumstances.

I was so engaged throughout my time reading this. It did not feel like a close to 900-page story. I got through it way more quickly than I had anticipated.

I would note this is straight-up, good old-fashioned Science Fiction. If you are thinking this will be more SFF, based on Paolini’s past works, you could be disappointed.

If you do not normally enjoy Science Fiction, you may not like this. If you are a fan of Sci-Fi though, you will eat this up. The delicious science bits are woven throughout. Start-to-finish, the details are incredible.

Also, if you do pick this book up, be sure to read through the Appendices at the end. There’s definitely a lot of interesting supplemental material there.

My favorite being a timeline of events that lead up to the world as we find it at the beginning of the story. It basically fills in the blanks between our current world through Kira’s time. It’s not very long, but I found it to be a thoughtful addition to the story.

The audiobook is fantastic as well, if you think that would be a good option for you. At first, I was thinking, why didn’t they go full cast, as there are quite a few characters. After getting into it, however, I never thought of it again.

The narrator, Jennifer Hale, did an absolutely tremendous job bringing this story to life. She is such talented voice artist and I was shocked to learn that this is actually her first audiobook. Talk about coming out swinging!

I am going to be thinking about this story for a long time to come and would love to read it again someday.

Highly, highly recommend!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Books, for providing me with both an e-book and audiobook copy of this release to read and review.

I had so much fun with this story and hope Paolini continues to write Science Fiction for a long time to come!

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Review: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards, #1)Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Where Dreams Descend is sadly my Serpent & Dove of 2020.

A book that everyone else seems to be loving and I’m over here like…

As with S&D, I really didn’t start to enjoy this until around the 80% point. Unlike S&D however, I am not sure if I will even care to pick up the sequel when it releases.

I’m sad about it. I had such high hopes for this, but unfortunately this story just didn’t work for me.

The story begins with our protagonist, Kallia, working as a performer in a club, The Hellfire House, owned by the mysterious, Jack.

She has larger plans for herself, however, and sets her sights on a magical competition set to be held in the nearby city of Glorian.

In order to enter, something a woman wouldn’t normally do, she must first break free of Jack and Hellfire House.

Making her way through the cursed woods alone, Kallia does make it to the city and promptly meets a young man, Aaros, who immediately becomes her best friend, confidant and stage assistant. He also became, in my opinion, the best character in the book.

As with any competition, there must be judges. Enter romantic interest, Daron DeMarco, a retired stage magician himself, who becomes enchanted with Kallia and her power.

There are other competitors as well, but of course, Kallia far exceeds them all, both in performance powers and overall everything else.

Once the magical competition begins, it becomes clear, something is off in the city of Glorian.

Other competitors go missing, or are severely injured and Kallia begins to be haunted in her rooms.

In spite of the chaos, the show must go on and Kallia is determined to win. DeMarco watches anxiously from the sidelines as she continually tries to one up her competition.

While this Dark Magical Fantasy has a lot of elements that should have worked for me, it just didn’t. It felt disjointed and like nothing was really happening, even though on page, plenty was.

I know that makes no sense, but it was like the dramatic plot points didn’t really matter. It was nothing I cared about or felt compelled to know more about.

Kallia was one of the most arrogant characters I have ever read. I understand she was ambitious and needed to be portrayed as strong, but it’s hard to have an arc showing any growth when the character already claims to know it all.

Not only was she eons above any of the other contestants, she was also more skilled than anyone else in the world.

Okay, enough about that. I think it is fairly clear how I feel about Kallia.

On a brighter note, DeMarco and Aaros were both saving graces for me. DeMarco was quite interesting. I loved his quiet humility and learning more about his backstory.

Some of the dark moments interested me as well. There were some sections involving mirrors, or the characters being magically trapped within the town, that I found compelling; I wish there had been more of that.

As mentioned above, around the 80% point, I started to feel like the flow was a lot stronger and I liked where the relationship between Kallia and DeMarco was going.

Unfortunately, enjoying only 20% of a book, isn’t enough for me to be able to give it a higher rating.

I do think that the story left off in a great place. I’m not sure if I will pick the sequel up or not, but I will definitely keep it in mind for when the time comes.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. Although this didn’t work for me, I am definitely in the minority!

((The World to Me)):

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Review: The House That Fell From the Sky by Patrick Delaney

The House That Fell From The SkyThe House That Fell From The Sky by Patrick R. Delaney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Scarlett Vantassel is at a crossroads.

At 29-years old, after a recent break-up, she has returned to her hometown, moved in with her father and brother and resumed working at a dead-end job.

Needless to say, for a girl who once dreamed of greatness, things are not going as planned.

Even her popular YouTube channel, has lost its glow for her. Sinister Scarlett’s spark is gone.

On the night that she is set to film her farewell vlog, something truly insane happens, which interrupts her filming.

Just as she starts recording her swan song, there is a grand disturbance in Winterview City, where she lives.

It affects the power and can be felt in the air. Immediately setting off to investigate, Scarlett never does return to filming.

Once the dust settles, the city discovers an enormous gothic mansion has suddenly appeared in the downtown area. No one can explain it. Where did it come from?

The media dubs it, The House that Fell from the Sky.

Eventually a mysterious organization, Crow Corp, is somehow allowed to take ownership of the property.

And as you do, when you gain a creepy gothic mansion, you host a horrifying contest. If someone can survive one night in the house, which is clearly haunted, they win a million dollars.

Also, as you do, you select your contestants via lottery. I mean, it worked for Willy Wonka.

Before you get to all that however, there is a lot of build-up.

We follow Scarlett, her brother, Tommy, his ex-girlfriend, Hannah, and Scarlett’s best friend, Jackson, as they contemplate their lives, their friendships and the secret of the house.

We get the history of their relationships, what has caused them to be strained now and their own personal desires to discover the truth behind The House that Fell from the Sky.

The character with the biggest drive to get into the house is Hannah. She believes the house holds the secret to life after death, and even that she may be able to find her recently deceased mother within the walls.

Coming in at over 500-pages, this novel really leaves no stone unturned.

While I believe it could have been edited down, and certain areas tightened up, I did find the premise behind this extremely intriguing.

If I had my way, I would have had either Tommy or Jackson be the main protagonist and I also would have had the entire friend group be around the age of 21. That’s the age they seemed, although their stated ages were closer to 30.

I also found both Tommy and Jackson more believable heroes than Scarlett, and don’t get me started on Hannah. Frankly, I’m not sure why anyone was friends with her.

Their time in the house was intriguing. It was sort of a Lovecraftian-Overlook Hotel, run by Willy Wonka on acid.

If that doesn’t have you lifting your brows, I don’t know what will!?

One of the aspects I enjoyed the most about the friend’s time in the mansion was the cyclical nature of it. They would experience a bunch of horrifying things, then it was like someone hit a reset button and they would start all over again.

This thought of a never-ending trap makes me extremely agitated; like a hallway that never ends. That really freaks me out.

And while they were stuck, with no sense of time, the events and surroundings were actually continually changing. They continued to face new monsters and challenges while their sanity was pushed to the brink.

Even though I had fun reading these sections, I did feel like it was a bit more fever dream quality than I would have preferred. There was so much, it was almost too much.

With all of this being said, this is a good book and an ambitious debut.

The author, Patrick Delaney, is clearly wildly creative and I know as his career progresses, his material will continue to get stronger and stronger.

I for one, will be along for the journey. Looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Oblivion Publishing, as well as the author, Patrick Delaney, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I truly appreciate it!!

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Blog Tour: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Hello my lovely book friends!

Let’s chat about Where Dreams Descend, shall we? This is the first book in Janella Angeles debut fantasy duology, Kingdom of Cards. Where Dreams Descend is releasing this Tuesday, August 25, 2020!

The publisher summarizes it as follows:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

I am currently 50% through this story and I’m interested to see how it turns out. Hoping it starts to pick up a bit soon, as it has been a slow burn thus far.

I would recommend this novel to anyone trying to get into YA Fantasy, maybe someone who hasn’t read a lot of Fantasy series or duologies before. This could be a good place to start.

Also, if you love content involving magical circuses or performing magicians, this is definitely one you should check out!

I am planning to spend the majority of my day today continuing on with this story. I will definitely update you as I progress along and will be posting a full review when finished.

Be sure to look at your favorite local retailer or online bookstore for this gorgeous book!

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this magical tale to read and review. I appreciate it!

Blog Tour: When I Was You by Amber Garza

When I Was YouWhen I Was You by Amber Garza
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up **

Below is a line from the first paragraph of the synopsis for this book. I think it sums it up perfectly:

…this up-all-night psychological thriller about a lonely empty-nester’s growing obsession with a young mother who shares her name.

That statement certainly caught my attention and I’m super glad it did!

Kelly Medina is the empty-nester in question. Kelly Medina is also the young woman who arrives and shakes up her life.

The main Kelly, I will refer to her as ‘our Kelly’ from this point forward, is adjusting to life with her only son, Aaron, gone from home. Her husband, Raphael, is not around much either, as his job keeps him away during the week and even some weekends.

Because of this, our Kelly spends a lot of time alone and to be honest, she’s struggling.

Feeling increasingly lonely and isolated, one day she receives a phone call that will change everything.

The call is from Aaron’s pediatrician’s office, with a reminder of her upcoming well-baby appointment.

Kelly tries to laugh it off with the receptionist. Obviously, it’s a mistake, her son is in college.

The lady apologizes profusely. Apparently, there is another Kelly Medina in the area and their numbers must have gotten mixed up in the system.

Our Kelly is taken aback. Another woman, sharing her same name, in the same area, with a baby.

In the coming hours, it’s all she can think about. Imagining who this young woman is and what her life must be like. It all seems too strange.

The whole incident has shaken her. Arriving later at the gym to meet her best friend, Christine, for a yoga class, she has forgotten her membership card.

When the desk clerk looks her up in the system, she comments on how funny it is that another Kelly Medina was there that very morning for a workout.

Now the girl is even invading her gym space? Who is this person?

That’s all it takes for Kelly to become obsessed with finding out more about the other Kelly Medina.

After several attempts to discover who she is online, our Kelly realizes the best way to find her would be to go to that well-baby appointment.

That’s exactly what she does. The rest of the story goes from there and let me tell you, you are in for a WILD RIDE!!

I had so much fun reading When I Was You!

Once I got into the story, I could not put it down. I can definitely see why the publisher chose to describe it as an, up-all-night Psychological Thriller!

Garza added some epic twists. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My goodness.

My jaw hit the floor so many times! It was a bloody fantastic.

I don’t think I have had this much fun reading a Thriller since the first B.A. Paris novel I read, Behind Closed Doors.

And like that novel, When I Was You, is not perfect. Personally though, I feel like any tiny flaws were completely made up for with the perfectly plotted story.

I hope that Amber Garza continues to write in this genre. I really look forward to getting more of this type of story from her.

This is wildly imaginative. It went some places, guys, I was shocked. Just when you think you have hit the crazy limit, another revelation comes to light!

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a twisty-turny, compulsively readable Psychological Thriller.

Once you pick it up, it will be hard to put it down, so clear your calendar!

Thank you so, so much to the publisher, Harlequin MIRA, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I had so, so, so much fun reading it!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Review: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Winter by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A bittersweet conclusion to a fantastic YA-SciFi series. This is retelling GOLD!

Winter is the fourth, and concluding novel, in Marissa Meyer’s beloved, Lunar Chronicles series.

Coming in at over 800-pages, this hefty book provides the final stand-off between our intrepid heroes, their allies, and the wicked Lunar Queen.

There was a ton of action in this installment, some of it quite brutal, and I enjoyed learning a bit more about each of our main characters.

I can’t believe it is over. As some of you may know, I have a difficult time continuing with series. There was no problem with this one. I was that compelled to pick it up.

I love how Meyer built the world out. Each book, you gain more characters, more knowledge of the world and the stakes are steadily increased.

In this book, our newest character, per the title, is Winter, the Lunar Princess.

She was such a delight. Due to repressing the use of her glamour, her mind is a bit janky. She hallucinates and people in the kingdom think she is bit crazy, but love her nonetheless.

Again with this one, I appreciate so much the connections to the original fairy tales.

As a set of retellings, I think The Lunar Chronicles is top notch work. I would love to read further retellings from Meyer and definitely have boosted Heartless up by TBR.

I’m so happy that I finally took the time to pick this series up! I was enthralled the entire way through.

If you haven’t given this one a shot yet, and are a Sci-Fi fan, you should definitely check it out!

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Review: Dark Celebrations by Calvin Demmer

Dark CelebrationsDark Celebrations by Calvin Demmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dark Celebrations includes 12-short stories from one of my favorite Horror authors, Calvin Demmer.

Each of these tales is centered around a particular celebration or holiday around the world, which I felt was such a creative way to structure a short-story collection.

This book absolutely has something for everyone. Moving through, I couldn’t help but think this was a pure monster mash at its finest!

You have everything in here: zombies and vampires and mummies…

No matter what your favorite creature feature, you will find something to sink your teeth into.

Demmer’s writing is hella dark and quirky. The way he can set a tone and pack a punch within such a short number of pages just astounds me.

And, good news, after you pick up this stellar collection, you can then dive into The Sea Was a Fair Master, my favorite collection of 2018.

Basically, you have a lot of good reading ahead of you!

Thank you so much to the author, Calvin Demmer, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. If you know me, you know this has in no way swayed my review.

Demmer is so fire. That’s all there is too it. I look forward to picking up anything he writes!

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Review: Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

Little DisastersLittle Disasters by Sarah Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Liz, a pediatric doctor, is surprised when one of her closest friends, Jess, arrives at emergency services with her 10-month old baby, Betsey.

She is even more surprised when she discovers that Betsey has suffered severe head trauma causing a cranial fracture.

Making matters worse, Jess is very dodgy with her story, claiming she didn’t even know Betsey had hit her head that badly.

She claims that she was bringing Betsey in because she seemed unwell, having vomited in her crib.

Jess insists that Betsey has suffered no real trauma. Perhaps she just fell over as she was trying to pull herself upright, certainly nothing out of the norm for a baby who is increasing her mobility.

The severity of the injury seems to negate this explanation, however, and Liz cannot understand why her friend, who always seems like the most put together mom, could suddenly be so obtuse about her child’s condition.

Consulting with a senior doctor, Liz understands that the hospital must contact Social Services regarding Jess and Betsey. They have a duty to report if there is even a chance that a child is being harmed.

Jess’s weak explanation, paired with the skull fracture, is more than enough to bring in outside intervention.

Following multiple perspectives, over multiple timelines, Little Disasters is a thoughtful examination of modern motherhood.

The main bulk of the story is made up of Liz, Jess and Jess’s husband, Ed’s, perspectives, but there are a few others sprinkled in.

The Reader learns what Jess’s life as a stay-at-home mom to three busy children is really like.

While she may stay buttoned up outside of the home, amongst her friends and at the children’s activities, inside the home, things are far from perfect.

We also get a glimpse into Liz’s life and what her childhood was like; the events that pushed her into a career in pediatrics.

Finally, we get an examination of friendship, that of Liz and Jess, as well as the other women in their circle.

I enjoyed my time reading this novel quite a bit. My one concern is that people will go into this expecting a tense Thriller, and it’s really not.

I would classify this novel as a thought-provoking Domestic Drama with a hint of suspense. I think if you go into it expecting that, you will not be disappointed.

As far as content, I think this novel is poignant and important. I mentioned recently in my review for Megan Goldin’s, The Night Swim, that I love when this type of novel has something to say about hard-hitting real world issues.

This one definitely does. I think this would make an incredible book club read, as it could lead to a ton of great discussions involving motherhood, mental health and the societal expectations placed on women.

The writing is highly compelling and I flew through it. The short chapters and alternating perspectives kept me glued to the pages.

Overall, I think this will be enjoyed and appreciated by a lot of Readers. One of them should be you. Available now!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I appreciate the opportunity!

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Blog Tour: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

The Night SwimThe Night Swim by Megan Goldin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Megan Goldin does it again!!!

Rachel Krall is the creator and host of a hugely successful True Crime podcast.

During her first season, evidence she procured through her work was subsequently used to free an innocent man.

Now a household name, with a reputation as a tireless truth seeker, many people reach out to her with cases they think she should investigate next.

A lot of these people feel they have no other options when searching for justice for a friend or loved one; that the system has failed them and Rachel is their last resort.

These letters for help generally come in the form of email or through more traditional post. Therefore, Rachel is surprised when a letter ends up stuck under her windshield wiper at a remote rest stop.

How would someone even have recognized her? People generally know her voice, not her face?

When she receives the first mysterious note, Rachel is on her way to Neapolis, where a high profile rape case is currently dividing the small coastal town.

For the latest season of the podcast, Rachel will be looking into the case and attending the trial.

In the ultimate, her story versus his, the victim is the granddaughter of the police chief, and the accused perpetrator is a golden boy, local-celebrity champion swimmer.

As Rachel throws herself into her investigation, the mysterious letters continue to show up in unexpected places, including her hotel room.

The author of the letters, a young woman named Hannah, pleads with Rachel to look into the death of her sister, Jenny, 25-years earlier in Neapolis.

Rachel admittedly finds Jenny’s case interesting. A reported drowning, Hannah insists that foul play was involved.

Y’all, I loved this book! The format Goldin chose to tell this story was absolutely perfect.

We get multiple perspectives, past and present timelines, and full episodes of Rachel’s podcast!

The way that Goldin was able to weave these two mysteries together was flawless. I found myself so invested in both the current rape trial and the historical perspective of what actually happened to Jenny.

I was blessed enough to have received both an e-copy, and an audio copy, of this from the publisher to read and review. I started it off switching back and forth between the two, but ultimately stuck with the audiobook.

The audiobook is so well done. The podcast chapters are incredible!

I had to keep reminding myself I wasn’t actually listening to a podcast, that it was fictional. It’s that believable!

I was already a fan of Goldin after the release of The Escape Room last year, but this one, The Night Swim takes it to a whole new level.

Megan Goldin is for sure an autobuy author for me!

In addition to the fabulous presentation of this story, I was also impressed with the commentary regarding rape culture and the treatment of victims of rape and sexual assault.

I love when a Thriller can not only be surprising and immersive, but also when it has something to say on real world issues. I think it opens up so many great discussions that are important and impactful.

In short, if you have not picked up The Night Swim yet, please do so. I particularly recommend the audiobook, although the story is fantastic regardless of the medium.

A heartfelt thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with the opportunity to read this early. It will definitely be making my Favorites List for 2020!!!

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