Review: Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

Neverworld WakeNeverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

…time for you has become snagged on a splinter, forming a closed-circuited potentiality called a Neverworld Wake.

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl is a YA science-fiction novel that incorporates the idea of a time loop to tell the story. If this doesn’t sound like something you would be into…probably should avoid this one. If however, you are like me, and live for this type of story, definitely pick it up!

This story follows our main girl, Beatrice ‘Bea’ Hartley, as she goes to her estranged friend Whitley’s seaside mansion, Wincroft, to try to get answers regarding the mysterious death of her boyfriend, Jim. Basically, Bea and Whitley were part of a super tight friend group at their private school, Darrow, which was comprised of them, Jim, Kipling, Cannon and Martha. After Jim’s death, ruled a suicide (which Bea never believed), Bea separated herself from the rest of the group as she struggled to overcome her grief.

Once she arrives at Wincroft for their ill-fated reunion, the group (all in attendance, of course) pretty much accepts her back with good grace, as friends tend to do and they whisk her out for a night of clubbing. As we all know, nights out at the club can end dramatically and this one definitely did.

Once they finally drag themselves back to the mansion shit starts to get real freaky, real quick. A knock at the door. A mysterious creepy old dude. The rules of the Neverworld Wake are explained to them and it’s off to the races. Bea never gives up her quest to discover what really happened to Jim and that is where the rest of the narrative takes us. The group investigating and uncovering what truly happened to Jim. Secrets and deceptions are revealed as we race towards the finale.

Guys, I loved this book. I loved the mystery. I loved the sci-fi elements – anything relating to the concept of time I am down for. I loved the dynamics among the friends. I loved the characters. This group of kids were the golden children of their school. They were all so smart and ambitious. I got real Slytherin vibes from this. If you are a Slytherin and are looking for book recs, I definitely think this would qualify.

This is my second Marisha Pessl book. I love her and will basically read anything she writes. Anything. Got one of her discarded grocery lists? I’ll read that.

Initial Reaction: We are all anthologies. We are each thousands of pages long, filled with fairy tales and poetry, mysteries and tragedy, forgotten stories in the back no one will read.

I loved this. Full review to come…stay tuned!

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Review: Dead Ringer (Agatha Raisin #29) by M.C. Beaton

The Dead Ringer (Agatha Raisin #29)The Dead Ringer by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ugh, guys! This makes me SO SAD!!! I didn’t like this one and I really wanted to…

I read a lot of Agatha Raisin books in high school and during summer break for college. This was a long time ago, certainly before I was a member of Goodreads, so I don’t even recall which ones that I read. From what I remember one of the things I really liked about the series was our protagonist, Agatha Raisin. In my memory, she was snarky, impulsive, man crazy, full of fun and daring. That was not the Agatha I found in this story. This Agatha seemed miserable, desperate in her search for a man (CONSTANTLY) and down-right rude to pretty much everyone around her.

The storyline itself was all over the place in my opinion. We were introduced to quickly to way to many side characters and as the story went on, I found myself confused pretty frequently. Having completed it, I am couldn’t tell you who the killer was or what their motivation was. I have already forgotten.

I have so much respect for M.C. Beaton as an author. She has created some iconic characters with Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth but this just was not a solid story for me. I hope if this series continues on that Agatha gets some of her old fun-loving spark back.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate every opportunity I receive to provide my feedback on a story even if it doesn’t go 100% to my tastes.

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Review: Our House by Louise Candlish

Our HouseOur House by Louise Candlish
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Our house is a very, very, very fine house with two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy ’cause of you

…not quite the case on Trinity Avenue where secrets and deceptions run rampant!
Our House by Louise Candlish is a taut domestic drama that follows the dual narrative of husband and wife, Bram and Fi Lawson. The book starts out with a crime, a fraud within a marriage, you know who did it, and the events leading up to that crime are then pieced together over the course of the book. Through the excellent use of mixed media you get both Fi’s perspective and Bram’s perspective. Hers is told through an extensive interview she did for a podcast called, The Victim. His is told through a ‘word document’ that is sort of a confessional manifesto.

I have mentioned before that I am absolute
for books that incorporate mixed media sources. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Stephen King’s Carrie, Nick Cutter’s The Troop and Marisha Pessl’s Night Film to everything in between, I just love how these different elements, be they journal entries, newspaper articles, police reports, etc., can truly bring a story to life. Is it just me? Maybe. But to me, this type of format only enhances my commitment to a storyline. In my opinion, Candlish did a really great job weaving the two perspectives together, whilst also running it along with a shorter ‘present’ events perspective. If not done well, this type of formatting can become disjointed and confusing but I never felt that here.

Now let’s talk about our two protagonists, Fi and Bram. What can I say about Fi and Bram? I didn’t like either one of them. Fi can come off a bit weak, whiny and passive aggressive, while Bram is a complete and utter coward. Did this keep me from enjoying this? Absolutely not. I am not a person who needs to like any or all of the characters in the books I read. I mean, I only like about 50% of the people I meet IRL, so how can I expect to be enamored with all the book characters I meet?

This being said, although to me personally, Fi and Bram were far from likable, I did get drawn down the rabbit hole of the lies and deceptions and absolutely wanted to know the truth behind it! I think if we can all learn a little something from this story it would be, honesty IS IN FACT the best policy.

The ending of this was fabulous! Just when I thought at least one thing was going to go the way I wanted…

Do I think you should read this book? Yes, definitely. I think this would be a great book to read around the holidays…it will make your own family life seem so much better by comparison and if that doesn’t recommend a book, I don’t know what will!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a lot of fun with it and look forward to reading more from this author!

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Review: The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer

The Sea Was a Fair MasterThe Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sea Was a Fair Master was so freaking fun to read!

I have never read a flash fiction collection before and I wonder, are they all like this? Are they all so good? I am guessing probably not. Calvin Demmer is a master at this style! There are 23-stories within these 83-pages and each and every one of them left me with chills. Mostly horror stories, with a sprinkling of scifi and crime fiction, there is something here for everyone. Whether your biggest fear is clowns (MINE), carnivals, the psycho next door, dolls, robots, etc., you will find something in here to make your blood go cold.

I recommend reading it at night, home alone, on your kindle so you can turn all the lights out…that’s how I read it anyway and it worked for me!

If you are someone who is participating in one of the 43,651 readathons in October, you should DEFINITELY pick this one up. Currently only $2.99 for your kindle and with a short page count this is the perfect book for any Spooky Reads challenge!

I really look forward to reading further works from Calvin Demmer. One to watch IMO!

Original: Thrills & Chills aplenty! Loved this. Full review to come…stay tuned!

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Spookathon TBR

Hi Geeks & Ghouls! I hope you are all having a wonderful October and getting all your spooky, eerie Halloweenie vibes in; I know I am! Today I wanted to go over my TBR for Spookathon. For those of you who do not know what Spookathon is, it is 1-week readathon, hosted by Kayla @Booksandlala, as well as Peter from @Peterlikesbooks and Shannon @Bookerly – you can find all of their channels on BookTube (aka YouTube), so go check them out! The dates for this year are October 15th to October 21st, there are five challenges and one group book. Click the link to the right to see Kayla’s announcement video >>> Spookathon Announcement >>> Without further ado, let’s get into the challenges, and hence, my overly ambitious TBR:

  1. Read a Thriller: For this I am choosing, Baby Teeth, by Zoje Stage. This is an Adult Thriller that was released in July and I believe it revolves around a woman who thinks her young daughter is possessed. Who doesn’t love a story with a creepy kid in it, am I right? I really don’t want to know too much about this going in but I have heard some pretty good feedback on it. I have the hardcover of this which is 304 pages.
  2. Read a Book with Purple on the Cover: For this I am going to use the group book which is, Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft, edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe. This is a new YA anthology that includes stories from 15 different YA authors where the heroines are witchy in some way. It is diverse and involves a number of different sub-genres like historical fiction, scifi, contemporary, etc. This sounds really fun but it’s a chunker. I have the hardcover of this and it comes in at a whopping 405 pages.
  3. Read a Book Not Set in Our Time Period: For this I am finally getting to a book that has been on my ‘to be read’ list since 2016 and that is, Stalking Jack the Ripper, by Kerri Maniscalco. This is the first book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. There are currently three books out in the series and I have all three so really would like to start this. This is a historical fiction YA story that follows a girl named, Audrey, who wants to study forensic medicine and I guess is apparently going to try to solve the Jack the Ripper case? I don’t know if that last bit is true or not but makes sense based on the title, I would say. I love forensic science and the Jack the Ripper case is one that I have had interest in for a number of years so this seems like it would be right up my alley. This is part of the James Patterson Imprint and will be my first book to read of their releases. I have the hardcover of this as well which comes in at 326 pages.
  4. Read a Book with a Spooky Word in the Title: For this I have chosen, The Wicked Deep, by Shea Ernshaw. I bought this book when it was released in March and have been specifically saving it for this month. This is about a small town called, Sparrow, that is cursed since two centuries before they hanged three sisters for witchcraft. Apparently every summer these sisters return and lure boys of the town into the local harbor where they ultimately drown. You would think these parents would keep their boys locked up in summer but anyway, regardless of absentee parenting, I am really excited to FINALLY be getting to this. This gives me strong Hocus Pocus vibes and I live for that! I have the hardcover version for this book, which also happens to be my favorite book cover of the year, and it comes in at 308 pages.
  5. Read a Book with Pictures: For this I decided to go with a graphic novel because I should be able to read it in one sitting and I have a lot of pages to get through already. The graphic novel I chose is, Locke & Key, Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodrigues. I love the artwork in this. I have had it for a while and I think October is the perfect time to get to it. This takes place in the fictional town of Lovecraft, Massachusetts and involves a haunted mansion of some sort which I am all about. This one is 168 pages long.

So, that is it! That is my official Spookathon TBR. Will I actually get to and finish all of these books in a week? Probably not but I am always up for a challenge. Also, I am a major mood reader so the books on this may ultimately get swapped out. I am hoping I can find at least one of these on audiobook, that would certainly help, as I always listen to audiobooks when walking my dog (which I do a lot) and commuting. My current page count for this would be 1,511 pages for the week, so 215 pages a day approximately. That’s heavy. I probably read on average 100-150 pages a day so this would be a big, big push. We’ll see!

Leave me a comment below if you are planning to participate in Spookathon. What is on your TBR for the month? Have you read any of these books, do you want to read any of these books? I want to know! You can comment here or contact me through any of my ‘contact me’ links to the right!

Cheers & Happy Reading!

Review: Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

Forget You Know MeForget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Forget You Know Me is a lovely examination of relationships and different types of love. It follows multiple perspectives and for me felt more like a domestic drama than the ‘thriller’ I am used to reading. The book starts off with a bang – BFFs, Liza & Molly, who have grown apart in recent years, decide on a catch-up Skype date while Molly’s husband is away. As Molly is away from her computer momentarily, checking on one of her children, Liza sees a stranger enter Molly’s house and it all goes wild from there. However, again, I wouldn’t classify this as a ‘thriller’. As a portrait of adult life, f/f friendships, marital relationships, m/f friendships and new loves, it is wonderfully done. As a thriller, it is lacking a bit of the thrill. Besides that first chapter, I was never on the edge of my seat anxiously awaiting a big reveal. A creepy thing happened and we just sort of moved on. In the end, it is wrapped up but the end was just sort of okay for me. It was a good book for sure but I don’t anticipate lying awake tonight thinking about it.

I did really enjoyed Stawser’s writing style and absolutely plan to read more of her books. The prose is well-thought out and rich in detail. As far as the characters go, they were all very well developed and we spent a good amount of time learning the main characters thoughts, past and motivations. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary literature, especially those that revolve around the complications that can arise within adult relationships.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it so much and as always, look forward to hearing other reader’s thoughts on this one.

Original: Why am I starting this book when I said I was going to wait until October…and it doesn’t even come out until next February!? Because I have ZERO chill. Just none.

Previously: ARC received!! The synopsis of this sounds incredible – right in my comfort zone and the perfect book for the Fall. Psyched to get started on this one – #spooktober read for sure!

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Review: The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy HollowThe Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel is best summed up as a retelling of Washington Irving’s, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow from Katrina Van Tassel’s perspective. This may seem obvious to many by the title but for those less familiar with Irving’s original story, Katrina Van Tassel, is pretty much the only female ‘real’ character we have in that story. In that tale she is sort of the beautiful, sweet, yet most likely brainless, love interest of Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones.

As soon as I discovered that this book was happening, I knew I needed to get my hands on it as soon as I could. Growing up in New England, I can attest to the fact that there is literally no better place to be that New England in Autumn. That is my honest opinion. It’s just magical and crisp and awesome and just a slight bit ominous and creepy. Combine this with the fact that The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorite stories and this sounded like the perfect book for me to get my hands on this Fall.

While this book did start out slow for me, hence the 4-star rating rather than 5, I was completely enamored with Palombo’s ability to create the feel of time and the place of Sleepy Hollow. I felt the atmosphere was richly developed and I had no trouble picturing it all in my mind, from the Van Tassel farm, to the little town, to the woods surrounding the Hudson River, everything was as it should be. I loved the development of Katrina’s character and the strong friendship that was displayed between her and her best friend, Charlotte. I always enjoy a book with strong female friendships and this one was particularly beautiful for anyone else who may enjoy that sort of thing.

The secret courtship between Katrina & Ichabod was definitely a slow burn but once lit…it was on fire. Be prepared for sexy times – I was a little surprised by the sexy times – so, if you aren’t into that, beware, it’s here. If you love that stuff, this is the book for you.

As this love was developing, the first half of the book, I was really getting anxious for my spooky stuff. Where is the headless horseman? I wondered on more than one occasion. Then it happens, one night, All Hallows Eve, of course, that will change Katrina’s life forever. Her world is shattered and through the help of her BFF, Charlotte, and her long-time friend/domestic help, Nancy, she does her best to rebuild herself and to find out what happened that night after her parent’s Halloween party.

I cannot say too much more about the plot without giving things away. I understand this is a story many of us know but I think being told from a different perspective, the author was able to bring a lot of new life and details into this well loved tale. I was impressed with this, the second half of the book really kept me engaged and I loved the way it wrapped up.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and am excited to see what other readers think of this one. Great job with release date as well – October is the PERFECT month to read this book!

Original: Y’all know I love a retelling and a retelling of such a classic piece of gothic literature is a must for me! Very happy to be starting this one and to get Katrina’s POV. My #1 hope = good atmosphere. I am all about that in my Fall reads.

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Review: Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley

Find You in the DarkFind You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Dark and twisted, this book had me glued to the pages from start to finish. I flew through it. Almost as soon as I started reading I was sucked in. Find You in the Dark mainly follows Martin Reese, a retired tech guru with an amazingly odd hobby. He was a really unique character. Not super likable in the mainstream sense, he is definitely morally grey, but personally, I like that. I got major Tony Stark vibes from this guy without the iron super-suit. Super smart, wealthy, cunning, dry and harboring a lot of secrets.

We also get the perspective of Detective Sandra Whittal. I loved Sandra, she was my favorite character. She’s on to Reese and his extracurricular activities and she’s pretty much the only one. Dogged in her investigation, Detective Whittal refuses to back down, even when reprimanded by her higher-ups. Along with her sexy partner, who she may or may not be intimately involved with – you’ll have to read to find out – she commences a wonderfully plotted cat-and-mouse game with Reese.

Okay, we have a cat, we have a mouse, then a dog gets thrown in too just to make the game a little more interesting. That’s right, we get to climb into the mind of a serial killer. It’s dark and I loved every second of it. There were twists and turns in this I did not see coming. In a few places I was absolutely floored. I thought the plot progression was wonderful and the characters fleshed out, messy and complicated though they were. As you can tell, I had a heck of a lot of fun with this one. I hope there is a continuation to this book. It left off in a place that could stay here and let the reader decide the rest or could be progressed further. I would love to see Sandra and Martin meet again for a rematch!

A big thank you to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity and really look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

Original: I am planning to start this one this week as I feel it will be perfect for Spooktober. A little nervous because the ratings aren’t the best so far but I have odd tastes, so who knows, maybe I will love it! I mean a bloody shovel on the cover is intriguing to me, so there’s that…

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Review: The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp

The City of Lost FortunesThe City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

***3.5-stars rounded up***

Wow. Okay, this one was a wild ride. I barely knew what was happening MOST of the time and I do mean that literally!

The City of Lost Fortunes is a beautifully written novel that seemed a bit like a mythology textbook on steroids. I went into this book somehow thinking it was YA magical realism? Not exactly sure where that idea came from because that is NOT what this is. I think I may have heard someone talking about it on Booktube and misunderstood the synopsis. That out of the way, what is this book? It is urban fantasy, which if we are being honest, is not my favorite subgenre of fantasy to say the least, and I would call it New Adult versus YA or Adult.

The story follows Jude, who when we meet him, appears to be a simple street magician in New Orleans. In fact, he is actually a demigod…I think…we follow him into a card game where there are gods, vampires, etc., involved. They are playing with tarot cards but it sounded like poker and it is for his talents, gifts, fates, futures…I seriously don’t know. A god gets murdered and then Jude must investigate the incident to figure out whodunit so he can get his magic back? There was A LOT going on in this book. The side characters were all from different culture’s mythologies/belief systems. So, basically it was like a hodgepodge of all types of mythological beings and creatures from all around the world. This was really cool. I did enjoy it and the author did include so very interesting facts/beliefs behind all most of these beings as well. It was just hard for me to keep track of who was who and what their special powers, etc., were.

This being said, the writing in this book is absolutely beautiful. It has such a gorgeous lyrical quality to it. I really wish the plot could have been a little less hectic so that I could focus more on that incredible styling as opposed to trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Maybe it’s me? I don’t know. I am really interested to see what other readers thought of this one. I haven’t read any reviews of it thus far. Again, the concept of it was excellent, I just feel like the execution could have been a little less hectic and perhaps more concise. If that makes sense?

If there is a continuation of this story, I think it is the start to a series maybe, I would definitely check it out. Perhaps more of the pieces would fall into place for me. I did have fun reading it, I laughed a bit and there was definitely a ton of action. Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with an e-copy to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity!
Original: I need to get my head straight on this one. I was confused the majority of the time – full review to come…stay tuned!

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Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost (Letters to the Lost, #1)Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I feel like a bad friend, but I can’t help it. I can’t force what I’m feeling to fit between chapters two and six in some handbook dealing with the death of a loved one.”

Vivid and heartbreaking, Letters to the Lost, follows the lives of two teenagers in the wake of personal tragedies. Through very odd circumstances they begin a correspondence, initially through handwritten letters left in a local cemetery, and eventually through dummy email accounts. Since they are unaware of the identity of the other, they feel completely able to be open and honest about their feelings and what they are going through and what transpires is absolutely stunning.

– After the loss of her mother in a tragic car accident, Juliet shuts herself off from pretty much the entire world, except her best friend, but even their relationship is not as it once was. She is struggling with an overwhelming sense of grief combined with guilt and fear of never being able to live up to her mother’s legacy. Every day she goes to the cemetery and visits her mother’s gravesite and even leaves letters there for her.

– Declan is the quintessential ‘bad boy’ or so he would have you believe. He is dealing with his own personal tragedy, the loss of his sister and his father ending up in prison for the drunk driving incident that killed her. Declan, feeling abandoned by his mother, who has since gone on to remarry (a prick), struggles with his own feelings of guilt and isolation. He is holding onto a lot of anger as well and tends to lash out at those around him without necessarily intending to. Declan, forced to do community service work for his own drunk driving incident, ends up working at the local cemetery where he stumbles upon on of Juliet’s letters.

Watching the relationship between these two develop is absolutely beautiful. I cannot express it any better than that. I was completely blown away by Brigid Kemmerer’s writing. She is so talented and I already picked up the companion novel to this one, More Than We Can Tell, which follows one of my favorite characters from this book, Declan’s misunderstood best friend, Rev.

If you have been on the fence about picking this one up, please do. It is really just so stunning and for anyone who has lost anyone under tragic circumstances, I think a lot of the text surrounding those feelings of grief and guilt are just so relatable and really, cathartic. That’s the way it felt for me anyway. This is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone and will probably end up reading again someday. Well done!

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