Review: Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

Love in the Time of Serial KillersLove in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ph.D. candidate, Phoebe Walsh, has always been obsessed with True Crime. It’s a great way to focus her attention and avoid thinking about her own life for too long.

Phoebe and her younger brother, Connor’s, parents divorced when the two were kids. After that, Phoebe went to live with Mom and Connor stayed with Dad in their childhood home in Florida. Needless to say, it is a complicated family history.

After their father passes away, Phoebe agrees to live in his home and help prepare it for sale. It will be nice for her to have some privacy to continue working towards her degree; she has a lot of writing to do. She’s also looking forward to reconnecting with her brother.

They don’t know each other as well as you would assume siblings do, just due to the circumstances of their upbringing. Additionally, it can definitely be hard for Phoebe to let down her defenses to connect with people. At this point, she is willing to give it her best shot.

Truth be told, most people make her a little uncomfortable.

She arrives at her Dad’s late at night and is just deciding how much she wants to unpack in the dark, when a strange man pops up out of nowhere and offers his assistance.

A serial killer. That’s where Phoebe’s mind goes first.

This story begins there and then follows Phoebe as she grapples with her feelings involving her family, being reunited with an old friend and her quest to discover the truth about the mysterious neighbor, Sam.

There’s a lot of exploration of Phoebe as a character and why she views the world the way she does. I actually really enjoyed Phoebe. I liked her dry sense of humor and sort of cynical way of viewing life and love.

I also enjoyed Sam as a character. He would be the perfect golden boy of any romance. I mean, if he wasn’t a serial killer that is.

Even though I liked the characters individually, I wasn’t super sold on the two of them together. My interest waxed and waned over the course of the story and I wound up just being underwhelmed.

I liked it. It’s a good story. I did like Phoebe’s general sensibilities, but for me it just lacked like…I don’t know, heart, maybe?

It’s like when someone sings something technically very well, but there is zero emotion in it. That’s how I felt about this book.

It even took me two tries to get all the way through. The first time I stopped around 30%, deciding I just wasn’t in the mood and I would wait for an audiobook copy to come through from my library.

When the audiobook hold came through, Spooky Season was officially over, so I figured I would give it another shot. I’m glad I finished it, but it definitely wasn’t a memorable experience for me.

With this being said, just because this story didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. If the premise sounds intriguing, you should definitely give it a go. You could end up absolutely loving it. I know many Readers did.

Thank you to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it!

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Review: Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives by Adam Cesare

Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo LivesClown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives by Adam Cesare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

In my opinion, Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives suffered a bit from middle-book syndrome.

Based upon the rumor mill and the way this one left off, I am guessing there is going to be a third book and it’s going to knock this one out of the park.

It’s been a year since the bloodbath in Kettle Springs. Quinn Maybrook finds herself back in Philadelphia, attending college and trying to recover from the horrors she survived.

The public reaction to the Kettle Springs events are mixed. There are factions of online warriors who believe the whole thing was a hoax and some who believe that Quinn and her friends, Cole and Rust, were the actual perpetrators. Frankly, it’s been difficult trying to navigate that atmosphere.

Quinn is a tough egg though, she’s getting by the best she can, just trying to blend in.

Back in Kettle Springs, her father is now the mayor, doing his best to get the damaged town back on track.

The town has become a bit of a tourist attraction for fans of the macabre, general looky-los and unfortunately, a few crazies. All the day in the life of an infamous town.

One weekend when Cole and Rust go to visit Quinn at college, they’re suddenly attacked by a familiar figure. This isn’t their first rodeo, however, and our trio is able to fight off their attackers.

Then Quinn gets the most disturbing call of her life. Something is going down in Kettle Springs and her father seems to be the latest victim. The three must return and seemingly relive the worst night of their life all over again.

Is it a copy-cat? Is it a conspiracy? How were the attacks coordinated? Quinn’s not sure yet, but she definitely intends to find out.

I loved Clown in a Cornfield. I started it on release day, read my hardback copy and enjoyed every moment of my reading experience. It was the exact book I needed to kick off the start of my Spooky Season 2020.

I loved the new girl trope we had happening with Quinn as she first arrived in Kettle Springs. The set-up was fantastic, including details as small as the view from Quinn’s bedroom window. I see you, Frendo.

The social commentary was fantastic as well and the kill scenes were a ton of fun. I marveled at Cesare’s creativity.

While this reading experience was quite different for me, I’m not mad at it.

This time around, I listened to the audiobook, while preparing for and traveling for Thanksgiving. Because of this, I feel like my mind wasn’t 100% committed and had the tendency to wander.

In fact, I listened to the last 40% twice, just trying to determine my opinion on it. One issue was that I found the multiple perspectives difficult to track.

Additionally, I found the build-up to the climax to be a bit muddled. In fact, it was confusion city there for me for a while.

Obviously Quinn’s personality has completely changed as well. At least it felt that way to me. While that’s understandable after all she’s been through, I did find it a little more challenging to connect with her.

While Cole and Rust’s relationship/angle was a bit of a mess for me, I did enjoy the inclusion of a new character in Kettle Springs, Jeri. Meaning new, as in we get her perspective multiple times in this installment.

Jeri lost her sister in the first book and had a very close call with Frendo. I really enjoyed learning more about her and her experience in the aftermath of his sister’s death and the town’s sudden infamy.

Personally, I don’t think the audibook did me any favors either. It’s not like the narration was bad. It really wasn’t. It was great in fact. I just think this could have been a better experience for me if I had read my hard copy.

Regardless, this was still a solid book. The themes involved were well-expressed. Particularly relevant in the aftermath of the Alex Jones / Sandy Hook trial. Cesare did a good job channeling those types of real-life issues into this.

I like that. I always enjoy some social commentary in my Horror. So, while this wasn’t great for me, I’m still enjoying this series and would absolutely pick up a third book!!!

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Review: Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales

Never Ever Getting Back TogetherNever Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My confession of the day is that I have never watched a full episode of either The Bachelor, or The Bachelorette.

Of course I have watched clips and understand the general idea, I’m not a savage. I also recognize it is an absolute sensation and many people love it.

After having so much fun with this book, I think I may need to binge some!

The set-up of Never Ever Getting Back Together feels very ode’ to The Bachelor and frankly I was living for it.

We follow rich, related-to-royalty, arguably-charming playboy, Jordy, getting his own reality television show, Second-Chance Romance.

For the show, ex-girlfriends of Jordy’s will be living together in a mansion, interacting with him and each other, participating in challenges and generally biding for his attention. Week-by-week, Jordy sends one girl packing, until the time comes for his final selection.

Maya dated Jordy two-years ago and the break-up was rough. He cheated on her for months before ultimately calling it quits suddenly when she called him out on his behavior.

Skye dated Jordy directly after Maya. In fact, Maya’s reputation precedes her. Jordy warned Skye how jealous and crazy Maya got after he broke up with her.

Skye can’t believe Maya is joining the show too. Isn’t she like a security risk or something?

When Maya learns Skye, the girl who stole Jordy from her, is going to be participating on the show as well, she’s furious. This girl knowingly dated Jordy behind her back for months. Who does that? Filthy liars, that’s who.

Arriving at the mansion the two girls learn an even more horrible truth, they’re being forced to room together. They’re quite literally bunk-mates.

They try to muscle through it, they might even be contractually-obligated to, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Along with four other girls, Maya and Skye start to settle into their new normal and compete for the ultimate prize: Jordy.

Maya’s no fool though. She knows Jordy too well to fall for any of this smoke in mirrors. Jordy hasn’t changed and that’s fine by her. Maya isn’t dreaming of becoming Jordy’s one-true love, she’s dreaming of revenge.

I had a lot of fun with this. Particularly the set-up, it was adorable. The narrative alternates between Skye and Maya, beginning a little before they even agree to be on the show.

The backdrop of the mansion, filming the reality show, it was great. I felt like I was getting a real glimpse behind the scenes of an actual show. It felt very realistic.

I also liked the mix of personalities that the contestants had. They all had their own motivations for being there and few of those actually revolved around Jordy, or love.

Skye and Maya’s interactions, as they got to know one another, as they battled and then began to drop their defenses; I thought that was really well done too.

My only slight issues with this story would be that I feel like it may have worked better if the story was actually written as New Adult, or Adult. It could have gone farther in the exploration of the relationships.

Also, I didn’t feel the chemistry between the characters. I didn’t find the romance that ultimately transpires believable.

These are tiny critiques though and both of these things are simply my personal opinion. Overall, this book is adorable as heck and I really enjoyed following the concept through to the end.

I was lucky enough to listen to an audio copy and definitely recommend that medium. The narrators did an incredible job bringing this story to life.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I am absolutely looking forward to more from Sophie Gonzales!!


Never Ever Getting Back Together
releases next Tuesday, November 29th. Preorder your copy now. You don’t want to miss out. Get it while it’s hot!!

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Review: The Killing Code by Ellie Marney

The Killing CodeThe Killing Code by Ellie Marney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Killing Code is a YA-Historical Mystery following Kit Sutherland, a young woman with a big secret.

The year is 1943 and the war is raging in Europe. In America, women have been recruited to aid in the war effort in a number of different ways. Kit is one of these women, hired due to her education to work as a code breaker.

Pictured above: Code Girls working at Arlington Hall, circa 1943.

The women work and live at Arlington Hall in Virginia, a former girls’ college now serving as the site of a secret US Signals Intelligence facility.

When Kit arrives she’s full of trepidation. As noted above, she’s harboring an important secret, the revelation of which could get her into a lot of trouble. In spite of this, Kit feels her job is crucial and she throws herself into it with gusto.

Kit befriends a few of the other girls, most importantly, Dottie, Moya and Violet. Kit is comfortable, she’s happy. She feels like she belongs. She never expected it to be this way.

But then the murders start. Murders of government girls in and around D.C. This puts Kit and her friends on high alert. These killings are way too close to home.

When it appears the authorities aren’t taking the killings seriously, or if they are, they aren’t getting far, Kit and her friends decide to take matters into their own hands.

They can figure this out. They have too, or one of them very well could be next…

After being beyond impressed by None Shall Sleep, I was really excited to get more from Ellie Marney. Even though Historical Fiction isn’t generally my go-to, I knew in Marney’s hands it would be compelling.

Happy to report, I wasn’t wrong. This was so good. I loved the characters and really hope we get another book following Kit and her friends. I feel like this one set up that possibility nicely.

Kit’s character was so well-developed. From the very start, she’s intriguing. She has a solid backstory, one that could set her up for failure, but she was smart and determined. She pushed through when a lot of people would have given up.

I liked and respected that about her character, finding her easy to follow and root for. The other girls in her friend group were super likable as well, all with their own unique personalities and contributions to the group.

The mystery was solid. I did get confused at times, tracking the men they considered suspicious, but maybe that’s because I was so distracted by the dynamics going on amongst the girls.

I’m looking at you, Kit and Moya…

I was definitely satisfied with the resolution though and would love to hear news that this is actually a start to a series. That could be so fun!

I recommend this to Readers who enjoys a strong historic setting mixed with an even stronger dark mystery plot. We’re talking serial killers. Also, if you love girl groups, kicking butt and not taking no for an answer, you could really end up loving this.

Finally, while this is classified as a YA-story, I feel like Readers of all ages could enjoy this one. It didn’t really feel YA, except in the fact that the characters are late-teens, early-20s in age.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it so much and look forward to getting more from Ellie Marney!

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Review: Such Sharp Teeth by Rachel Harrison

Such Sharp TeethSuch Sharp Teeth by Rachel Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Such Sharp Teeth follows Rory Morris. Rory is somewhat reluctantly returning to her hometown to support her sister, Scarlett, through her pregnancy. Scarlett is currently estranged from the baby’s father and living alone.

Rory moved away for a reason though and isn’t crazy about being back, but she figures she should suck it up for a bit in order to help her sister. It’s the right thing to do and doesn’t hurt to be a good person once in a while.

Regardless, like many of us who have moved away from our hometowns, to return just feels weird. You’re out of place, life has move on without you. You feel so removed.

In an effort to re-acclimate herself, she heads to a local bar, as you do. Seriously, that would be my first stop. There are faces there she hasn’t seen in years. Some look real good, like the bartender and one time almost-flame, Ian.

Maybe this won’t be so bad after all…

On her way home from the bar that night, as her mind is racing over the surreal nature of her evening, Rory hits something with her car.

Shocked and a bit unsure, she gets out to investigate. Apparently, Rory has never watched a Horror movie before. The next thing she knows, she’s on the ground being viciously attacked.

Awaking in the hospital, Rory doesn’t remember much, just the feeling of tearing flesh and a distinct, gamey odor.

The explanation offered up is that she was attacked by and then fought off a bear. Okay, Rory doesn’t necessarily think that was it, but what her mind is leaning towards is too crazy to even say, no one will believe her.

Recovering from her accident, in the following days, Rory notices some changes within herself. She deals with them alone, again, she doesn’t want everyone to think she is crazier than they already do.

As the full moon arrives, however, it can no longer be ignored. Rory can’t control it. It can’t be denied, Rory has found herself in the midst of a werewolf tale and she’s the star. Ughhh, just her luck.

Such Sharp Teeth was such a delightful surprise. I love Rachel Harrison’s brand of ‘Horror with Heart’ and this one is the perfect example of that style.

Harrison excels at body horror, of which there is plenty within these pages, all while meshing it perfectly with everyday, relatable life issues. Her characters are so well done. I never have a problem connecting with her mains and Rory is no exception.

This story feels contemporary, and it is, but with one horrifying thing happening to Rory, it changes the entire tone. It’s funny, heart-warming, heart-breaking and addicting.

This is easily the most unique werewolf story that I’ve ever read. It was so much fun to go along with Rory as she comes to grips with what is happening to her and tries to find a way to deal with it.

Rory needed to get control of her life before the incident, but the stakes are raised for sure by the attack.

I would definitely recommend this one to anyone who enjoys humorous horror, or body horror. It’s a quick read and completely engaging throughout.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I cannot wait to see what Harrison delivers next!!

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Review: Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus

Nothing More to TellNothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Karen M. McManus is back and her latest novel, Nothing More to Tell is my favorite yet!

I have been so hyped about this book for over a year and apparently, for good reason. I’m not sure if it was my level of excitement that pushed this one over the top for me, but this was pretty much a perfect YA Mystery for my tastes.

And that Epilogue?! Are you kidding me, McManus!? I want more of this story and these characters so much. Fingers crossed there will be an announcement soon, if there hasn’t been already. It’s possible I missed something. Nevertheless…

This story follows Brynn and Tripp, long-time friends from Sturgis, Massachusetts, who had a falling out and were then separated for four years after Brynn’s family moved to Chicago.

Due to a change in Brynn’s father’s job, they’re back in Sturgis, right back in their old house. Brynn is nervous about going back to Saint Ambrose School. She didn’t leave under the best terms, after her ex-best friend, Tripp, embarrassed her in gym class and then socially shunned her with zero impetus or explanation.

More tragic that all that though is the fact that just prior to their move, Brynn’s favorite teacher Mr. Larkin was murdered and found in the woods adjacent to the school. Three student discovered his body, her ex-friend Tripp being one of them.

Now upon their return, Brynn is determined to get to the truth behind Mr. Larkin’s death. She even pitches the case to a popular True Crime podcast, at which she has secured a dream internship.

Back in school, Brynn’s pretty determined. Let the investigation begin. She knows someone is hiding something about Mr. Larkin and it just may be Tripp.

The Reader also gets Tripp’s perspective and there are some scenes set in the before, surrounding the time that Mr. Larkin was killed.

I absolutely adore how McManus unrolled this story. The shifting perspectives, the mini-reveals along the way as Brynn gathers more and more information, it was perfectly paced in my opinion.

I loved Brynn’s investigation. Amateur sleuths are one of my favorite tropes and I found both Brynn’s motivations and her methods believable.

I also thought there were some great red herrings and the way this wrapped up was smart. As mentioned earlier, I am fairly sure there will be another book to follow this one, but since I have heard nothing official in that regard, I will just say that I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Personally, I would love more content with Brynn and Tripp!! There’s more to explore in this town.

As an aside to long-time McManus fans, you’ll find entertaining Easter Eggs, or references to her previous works cleverly placed throughout. Every time I came across one, it would just bring a ridiculous smile to my face.

Also, it made me want to reread everything she has ever written. Frankly, that shows you just how clever this one really is. Well played, McManus. Again. Well played.

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Review: Jackal by Erin E. Adams

JackalJackal by Erin E. Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Even though she is returning to her hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, as a successful adult, Liz Rocher is still filled with trepidation. Her memories of her time there fill her with anxiety.

Growing up a bit of an outcast, the one person she could always rely on was her best friend, Mel. Now Mel is getting married and has asked Liz to be part of her special day.

Mel and Liz have remained close over the years and Liz is even the godmother to Mel’s daughter, Caroline. When it comes to visits though, it’s always them going to see Liz in the city; same with Liz’s Mom.

It’s her turn to show up this time, so she does. It feels strange to be back; doesn’t seem like a lot has changed. Her Mom is certainly full of the critiques straight away.

At the wedding, Liz is discomforted by the woodsy venue. The local woods, the subject of dark legends and a frequent player in Liz’s nightmares, are part of her worst memories from Johnstown.

In spite of the location, Liz is enjoying spending quality time with Caroline. It’s sort of on her to keep an eye on the girl while Mel and her new husband entertain at the reception.

Sometime between dessert, dancing and dodging awkward conversations, Liz loses site of Caroline. She begins searching, asking everyone if they have seen the little girl, but no one has. Starting to panic, Liz enters the edge of the woods. She’s scared.

After finding a frightening bit of evidence, Liz comes to the conclusion that Caroline is gone. She needs help. A full search party is assembled.

Liz is devastated. How could this happen? The incident is reminiscent of another horrible night back when Liz was in high school. A night when another girl went missing in the woods from a party; Keisha Woodson.

Even though she had only planned to stay in town for a couple of days, Liz can’t leave now. She has to stay until Caroline is found. Whatever the outcome, she needs to help. She needs to be here.

In an effort to help find the girl, Liz begins asking around regarding Keisha’s disappearance. Perhaps the two cases are related. What she finds is that Keisha wasn’t the first. She also finds a very distinct pattern, all black girls, missing from the woods, directly around the summer solstice.

Will Liz be able to figure out who, or what, is taking the girls, and find Caroline before it’s too late?

Jackal impressed me. It’s hard to define, it’s quite unique. I would describe it as a thoughtful work of Dark Fiction with heavy Social Horror components. The writing style has a stream of consciousness quality to it, that honestly, I’m not normally crazy about, but it really fit here.

It’s not a super straight-forward story, it does require some effort on the part of the Reader, but I feel like for those who are willing to put in some energy, it will leave a mark.

Liz was a well-developed character. It took time to get to know her, but it would be hard not to feel for her and her experiences. I also felt like her character growth was paced well throughout.

The overall tone reminded me of The Other Black Girl, in that the entire build-up of the story is laced with a certain uneasiness; like you know something sinister is going on just beyond your line of sight.

I love that feeling. The ominous feeling of the developing mystery and the building of tension as the conclusion approaches.

It did sort of lose me a bit towards the end. I’m still a little confused on a couple of things and maybe in those instances would have preferred a more definitive outcome. However, this is 100% personal preference.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys Social Horror, or Dark Fiction in general. The topics explored, the over-arching mystery and compelling main character, all combine to make Jackal a stirring debut.

Thank you to the publisher, Bantam, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m really looking forward to reading more from Erin E. Adams!

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Review: Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger

Secluded Cabin Sleeps SixSecluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Yeahhhhhh. No. This wasn’t it for me. This wasn’t even in the same zip code as it. I’m disappointed, not gonna lie. You see the rating. I legit celebrated when it was over. We all know, that’s never a good sign.

When Hannah’s often over-the-top brother, Mako, rents an isolated luxury cabin for their friend group for a weekend, she and her husband Bruce, begrudgingly agree to go. Sometimes it is just easier to give Mako what he wants than to fight against him.

Hannah and Bruce have a baby daughter and it will be their first time really leaving her behind. Hannah struggles with the choice a lot, but her mother-in-law is more than capable of babysitting while they’re away.

Thus, they go. Prepared to unplug with Mako, his wife, Liza, Hannah’s best friend, Cricket and her new beau, who none of them have met before.

Arriving at the cabin, they’re impressed. It’s gorgeous, but with Mako, they would really expect nothing less. The tech mogul does tend to go all out.

As the Reader, you follow the interactions of the family and friends as they settle into the cabin. The first night is full of food, drink and fun. An isolated atmosphere is created as they have trouble with wifi connectivity and a storm is coming in. They’ve been warned they could lose power, or worse, get stuck there.

That’s nice. I like the idea of that, but it’s only one part.

There’s also Henry, who we start following as a child in a completely different time and place. Also, it’s not clear how his life is connected to the rest of the story.

And by not clear, I mean not at all. At first when he came in, it was so jarring, I thought I had accidentally opened the wrong book on my kindle.

But wait, yeah, I’m not done yet. You also get the perspective of the owner of the house Mako rented. That was the oddest of them all to me, like, why?!

And lest you believe that we only get the group scenes from Hannah’s perspective, let me assure you, we do not. We get those scenes from multiple perspectives as well.

To me, this story really suffered from trying to do too much. I didn’t feel like the multiple perspectives, or alternating storylines, meshed well together at all.

Additionally, I felt like the thread tying it all together was ridiculous. The antagonist was so unbelievable. I was actually surprised when my eyeballs didn’t roll out of my head during any dialogue involving that character.

I’m gonna leave it there. I have plenty more thoughts, but nobody has time to read through them all and honestly, I’ve burned enough time and energy on this. I’m so ready to move along.

However, with all of this being said, I can see how some Readers may be entertained by this. Just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. If you think it sounds interesting, give it a shot. You seriously could end up loving it.

Thank you to the publisher, Park Row Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. They can’t all knock our socks off.

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Review: Cursed (Gilded #2) by Marissa Meyer

Cursed (Gilded, #2)Cursed by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cursed is the highly-anticipated follow-up to Marissa Meyer’s 2021-release, Gilded. I genuinely love Meyer’s style of writing and her always clever take on classic stories. In my opinion, she’s the queen of retellings.

Because of this, Gilded, pitched as a haunted retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021. Spoiler alert: it did not disappoint!!

Initially, I was under the impression that that was a standalone novel. Reaching the final pages though, it was clear that was not the end of the story.

I have been anticipating this novel, Cursed, ever since.

Following the final scenes of Gilded, Adalheid Castle is in chaos. Serilda has been trapped in a deadly game with the cruel and clever, Erlking, or Alder King.

In a classic power move, the Erlking forces Serilda to become his wife. He’s hoping to be able to use her powers for his own gain. She plays along, mildly, as she has her own agenda going on under the Erlking’s nose; keep your enemies close and all that.

Serilda is determined to help Gild, the mysterious boy who came to her aid in the first book, solve the mystery of his forgotten past.

Meanwhile, the Erlking is plotting revenge against the seven gods who trapped the Dark Ones behind the veil. If he succeeds, it could change the mortal realm forever.

The stakes are high. Can Serilda and Gild figure out how to free themselves from the Erlking’s grasp before the Endless Moon finds them cursed forever?

Y’all, I’m most likely summarizing this very poorly. My apologies for that, but I do not want to give anything away. This is such a fun story to just sit back and watch unfold effortlessly before you.

I think Meyer did an incredible job of building this world, the characters, the lore and the action, oh my goodness! This one had so much action, but most captivating was Serilda’s character arc over the two books.

The conclusion to this couldn’t have been better. It felt so complete; a true 360. I loved sort of the exploration of the idea of what is in a story, folklore, legends that are passed down over generations. Is there truth in them? From where did these legends come?

Overall, this is a fantastic duology for Fairy Tale fans. It has such a classic feel, but is wholly original; great writing and character development.

Additionally, I did listen to the audiobook for both installments, narrated by the always fabulous, Rebecca Soler.

I highly recommend that format for these stories. Soler’s narration style lends itself perfectly to Meyer’s writing. It’s a match made in heaven.

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

I’m not sure what is going to come next for Marissa Meyer, but you best believe I’ll be reading it!!

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Review: The Family Game by Catherine Steadman

The Family GameThe Family Game by Catherine Steadman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The publisher claims the rules are as follows:

1. Listen carefully
2. Do your research
3. Trust no one
4. Run for your life

With the The Family Game, Steadman has created her most intriguing plot yet. I was truly captivated!!

We follow UK-born novelist, Harry, who currently lives in NYC with her beau, Edward. Things are going so well for Harry. Her first novel was well-received and she is currently writing her second. And there’s Edward. She can hardly believe their relationship. It’s almost too good to be true.

He’s as handsome as a movie star and as wealthy as an Astor; old money, family money. He’s also kind, supportive and seems so into her it hurts.

The thing is, their relationship is progressing rapidly and Harry has yet to be introduced to his family. Edward has warned her they can be a bit much.

Now that they are engaged, the Holbeck family suddenly emerges as a huge force in their lives. Edward was right, they are a bit overwhelming. That American old-money vibe is just poring from every orifice.

Harry grins and tries her best to take it in stride, but her future-father-in-law, Robert Holbeck really gets under her skin. She’s drawn to him in a way that frankly makes her uncomfortable. Then, of course, there is the Dictaphone cassette he slips her upon their initial meeting.

Harry is confused. What is this? Some sort of test?

Firstly, she will need to find a device to play the ancient form of technology, but once she does, it takes even longer for her to actually listen to it. Frankly, I would have had that baby listened to in full by the end of brunch the next day, but that’s just me.

Harry is shocked by the contents of the tape. It seems to be a confession of a very dark family secret. Something that, if true, could be the downfall of them all. Is it real? Why would Robert have given it to her?

With this potentially shocking information in mind, Harry must endure more family events, each one more dangerous than the last. It’s the holiday season, after all.

In between festive activities, Harry puts her natural research skills to the test as she tries to figure out whether or not Robert’s tape is based in fact or fiction. She’s not sure who she can trust, but the wrong decision could cost her everything.

The Family Game is fun, crazy, dangerous and dramatic, just how I like ’em. The twist was a bit obvious in my opinion, but the writing made it wildly-entertaining anyway.

Harry was in a tough spot. Having no family of her own, I could see why she would be attracted to the Holbecks.

Even though they were a bit scary in their forwardness, there was also something attractive about their closeness and traditions. I can certainly see why she would get caught up a bit in their opulent lifestyle.

I really enjoyed Harry’s investigations into the tape. Because of her work as an author, she was used to researching things and brought all of her experience to the table when looking into Robert’s confession.

I also loved the use of the contents of the tape as a narrative device for learning more about the Holbeck family and Edward’s backstory. We don’t get Edward’s perspective at all, so I found that useful for actually getting a read on him and his life.

I had a lot of fun reading this. It was paced so well and I loved the different family events that Harry got to attend with the Holbecks, each one more startling than the last.

By the end, this was well and truly wild, as over-the-top as they come, but still super fun with a satisfying conclusion. It’s the sort of story where you’ll need to suspend belief for a bit, but for me, that didn’t impact my enjoyment level at all.

Thank you to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Steadman!

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