Review: The Shadows by Alex North

The ShadowsThe Shadows by Alex North
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Paul Adams was a teenager, a classmate of his was quite brutally murdered. Paul was arrested and accused of the murder.

His mother, who knew her son was innocent, fought like a dog to regain his freedom. Paul was innocent, but who were the real culprits?

It turns out that two of Paul’s one-time friends, Billy and Charlie Crabtree, were the killers. Of the two, Charlie was definitely the leader. Billy went to prison and Charlie, subsequently, disappeared into the local woods, known as The Shadows.

Having suffered enough in the public spotlight of his village, Paul moves away as soon as he can, leaving his mother behind. He doesn’t return for 25-years.

He only returns after receiving word that his mother, who is in poor health and suffering from dementia, has taken a fall and is now being kept in a nursing facility.

As you can imagine, returning to the village he fled so many years before, stirs up a lot of memories and emotions. Making matters worse, a copycat crime has been committed, bringing the brutal violence of the past to a whole new generation.

As with, The Whisper Man, I really enjoyed North’s writing and the way he chose to format the story.

We follow a couple different perspectives, as well as past and present timelines. I just feel like he makes such clever choices with his storytelling and I’m down for it.

There were definitely moments I didn’t see coming, as well as some solid red herrings.

I wasn’t crazy about the conclusion to some of the mysteries held within the story, but that is purely personal preference. It is no way a reflection on the skill of the writing or the book itself. There were just a couple of things, I personally wish would have wrapped-up differently.

Overall, this is a fun, creepy read. I love the is it paranormal, is it not paranormal feel that North brings to his work. That’s how I live my life and I love it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Celadon Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. It was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint!

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Review: Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

Survivor SongSurvivor Song by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

THERE WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER BE A BETTER TIME TO READ THIS BOOK.

After the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is hit by a super contagious strain of a rabies-like virus, the entire state goes into lockdown.

Hospitals are overrun, public resources drained, people are ordered to go into quarantine and it is literally dangerous to go outside.

Dr. Ramola ‘Rams’ Sherman receives frantic news from her best friend, Natalie, who is currently 8-months pregnant with her first child.

Apparently, Natalie’s husband has just been killed after an infected neighbor broke into their home and attacked them. Making matters worse, if that’s even possible, Natalie was bitten by the infected man during the attack.

Due to the very rapid rate of progression for the virus, the clock is ticking for Natalie. She needs to get medical care right away and calls the one person she knows will help her, Rams.

Natalie makes her way to Rams and the two women set out together to try to make it to the closest hospital. Even though the hospitals are at max capacity, the fact that Ramola is employed there as a pediatrician, makes them think that they will be able to receive care.

The rest of the novel takes place over just a matter of hours, as the two women race against time to try to save Natalie and her unborn child.

This book is compact and extremely intense. Following Rams and Natalie on their journey was so incredibly vivid. I could completely imagine what they were seeing, hearing and feeling.

Picking up Survivor Song in the midst of a global pandemic, I will say, is a surreal experience.

Within the first 20-pages, I’m thinking, is Paul Tremblay clarivoyant? How the heck did he release this book at just the right moment?

I think reading this, hot on the heels of the beginning of the pandemic, when we were first coming under quarantine, for the first time in my life, made this soul-shattering story even more impactful.

While this is a horror story that, in concept is as frightening as hell, to me the most important aspect of the story, the aspect that effected me the most, was the relationship between Rams and Nats.

Their relationship reminded me so much of my own relationship with my best friend, Nichole. Just imagining going through what these women were going through, the choices they had to make, it tore my heart out.

I’ll admit it, I cried. It was very much one of those, there but for the grace of God, go I-moments for me. It was hard to read.

I texted her a few times throughout the ending of the story and of course she was sympathetic.

She knows how I get with my stories!

There was one scene that I did have to skip over, but I don’t think editing that out for myself diminished any of the story for me.

For those curious, (view spoiler) in an ignorant attempt to halt the spread of the virus.

I’m too sensitive on that topic to subject myself to that, so I just flipped on through.

With that being said, this is an great story. One that will haunt me for years to come and isn’t that really what Horror it is all about?

Thank you so much to the publisher, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and as I expected, Tremblay does not disappoint! Get your hands on this as soon as you can, I know a lot of people are going to be talking about it!

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Review: All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault

All the Pretty ThingsAll the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars**

Going into All the Pretty Things, I had some reservations. I had heard some mixed reviews and wasn’t quite sure what sort of experience I would have with this book.

First off, the synopsis describes this book as an ‘all new thriller about a boy who turns up dead under suspicious circumstances.’

I would not classify this as a Thriller and the death of the boy, which wasn’t the main plot BTW, didn’t seem that suspicious, certainly not so much so, that a girl not even involved in the incident would make it her life mission to investigate.

Okay, I think I am getting too far ahead of myself. Let’s go back.

High schooler, Ivy, spends her summers working at her Dad’s amusement park, Fabuland, in rural New Hampshire. She mainly makes cotton candy, but sometimes helps out with other positions as well.

After taking some time off to visit relatives, she returns to find the park in chaos. While she was away, one of the park’s employees, Ethan, died. Her best friend, Morgan, discovered his body.

Morgan, apparently distraught from her discovery, gets drunk one night and climbs to the top of the ferris wheel. Authorities, fearing she may try to take her own life, contact Ivy and have her go to the top of the wheel to talk Morgan down.

Plausible?

Morgan promptly gets sent to a psychiatric ward.

Ivy then begins an investigation into the death of Ethan.

There were some moments of interest for me within this story. I wouldn’t necessarily say this was a bad book, for me it just seemed like a poorly formulated story.

This is really, if you look at the actual biggest issue in the book, which I would not say is the death of poor Ethan, a hard-hitting YA Contemporary. Why it would try to be spun as a murder mystery is beyond me.

The more I think about it, the more I am turned off by the whole thing.

There were some fairly serious issues touched upon in this book, but in my opinion they were not handled well.

Yeah, that’s really all I have to say. Sorry I can’t provide more clarification. I certainly do not want to spoil anything for people who want to pick this one up.

Let me be clear, just because this book wasn’t for me, I know there are readers out there that will enjoy this a lot. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t me.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. Although this wasn’t necessarily the story for me, I still greatly appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

I Killed Zoe SpanosI Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A couple of months ago, I read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, and promptly proclaimed it my new favorite YA Mystery/Thriller.

I also initially said it would be hard to beat. The next thing I know, Kit Frick comes along with this beauty, I Killed Zoe Spanos, and shattered all my expectations.

I love this book so much, y’all. An all new favorite!!

I will admit, right out of the gate, that I know this isn’t going to be for everyone. However, for me, this was pretty damn near perfect.

Our protagonist, Anna Cicconi, has accepted a position as a summer nanny for a family in the small Hamptons village of, Herron Mills.

She has recently graduated high school and is trying to turn over a new leaf before starting college in the Fall.

This includes distancing herself from city life, particularly her best friend, Kaylee, who is a party girl through and through.

Anna has been running wild lately and doesn’t like how she feels about herself after. The blackout nights are the worst. She just needs to stay away from alcohol for the summer, put her head down, and concentrate on saving money for school.

Once she is settled in, she can hardly believe her luck. The little girl she is caring for, Paisley, is really sweet and easy, plus the house she is staying in is completely swank.

Anna does have one problem though, the nights. She has every evening off and needs to stay occupied because it is never good for her to sit to long with her thoughts. She starts to go on a lot of nighttime walks, exploring the property grounds and surrounding neighborhood.

It’s on one of these excursions when she happens to meet the cute and mysterious boy next door, Caden, for the first time. He is home from Yale for the summer, staying in his family mansion, Windmere.

Caden is surprised to meet Anna as well, as she looks shockingly like his fiance, Zoe Spanos, who has been missing since New Years Eve.

It’s not the first time Anna has experienced this. Around town people are definitely shocked upon seeing the similarity between her and the missing girl.

Paired with the fact that Anna begins to have memories of Herron Mills, even though she has never been there before, it’s not surprising when she starts to believe she may have a connection to Zoe.

Interspersed amongst the current narrative chapters, we also have entire podcast episodes by Martina Green, investigating Zoe’s disappearance.

Even though the police believe she ran away, Martina, best friend of Zoe’s younger sister, Aster, doesn’t buy it. She begins her own investigation and documents it through her podcast.

It’s so good. I love, love, love the podcast element as a way to tell the story.

The back and forth, the way details of Zoe’s life and disappearance are exposed, was absolutely intoxicating. Once I got into this story, I could not put it down.

Racing towards the conclusion, I had no idea how it was going to end. Were Zoe and Anna connected? Was something supernatural happening? Is Zoe alive? Are Zoe and Anna the same person!?

I was confused, I was intrigued, I was loving every minute of it!

This is a summer Thriller everyone will want to read. I may read it again, actually, once the audiobook is released. I would love how to see how they handle the podcast in the audio.

So, in short, if you love intense, twisty-turny Thrillers, with a possibly unreliable narrator, a podcast, amateur sleuthing and multiple red herrings, you definitely need to pick this book up!

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

There’s nothing like finding a new favorite!

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Review: Party of Two (Wedding Date #5) by Jasmine Guillory

Party of TwoParty of Two by Jasmine Guillory
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

My favorite Guillory yet!!!

Party of Two follows Olivia Monroe, Alexa’s older sister, just after she returns to California to open her own law firm with her long-time friend, Ellie.

Olivia had been in NYC since law school and when the opportunity presented itself for her to get out of the big firm game, and all the negative aspects that came with it, and move closer to her family, she jumps on it.

Setting up temporary lodging at a L.A. hotel, she has a lot on her plate. In addition to all of the busy work starting a new business entails, she also needs to find a more permanent place to live, buy a car and get a lot of networking done.

The last thing she is thinking about is starting a relationship. That is, until a very handsome man at the hotel bar starts chatting her up over one of her favorite topics: DESSERT!

She is polite and does enjoy talking to him, but seriously, the last thing she needs is to hook up with a stranger from her hotel bar.

He was charming though. Those eyes…

Saying their goodbyes, Olivia heads back to her room, exhausted. As she turns on the television, she can’t believe her eyes. It’s the man from the bar!

Senator Max Powell.

When the two accidentally run into each other again, the spark is still there and this time, there’s no turning Max away.

Y’all, this book was so much fun!

As mentioned above, it’s my favorite of The Wedding Date series thus far.

I think as far as protagonists go, I related to Olivia the most. I love how analytically she views her world and the cautious way she has of interacting with others.

I liked that she did fall all over herself just because a cute guy was paying attention to her. She had her own goals and wasn’t letting anything distract her from reaching them.

Max as a male lead was great. I loved how earnest he was with his feelings and how genuine his intentions were toward Olivia.

I would say in comparison to the earlier novels in the series, this one had more of a solid foundation to the relationship. There wasn’t as much unnecessary drama, which I appreciated.

I liked the open communication between Olivia and Max. They both exuded maturity which could be expected with two such successful people.

We saw a lot behind the scenes of Max’s life as Senator, the travel required, the staff, the schmoozing. I love politics in books, so was definitely down for all that.

In addition to the normal things you go through when starting a new relationship, Olivia and Max had to navigate surviving a long distance relationship and the paparazzi.

If there would have been a couple more sex scenes, this could have been a full five stars. However, in this installment, there was more dessert than sex and sometimes, that’s okay.

Overall, this is a great summer romance. Available now!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it so much and would be more than happy to get more books in this series.

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Review: The Finders (Mace Reid K-9 Mystery #1) by Jeffrey B. Burton

The Finders (Mace Reid K-9 Mystery, #1)The Finders by Jeffrey B. Burton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

The Finders, the first installment of the new Mace Reid K-9 Mystery series, is an Investigatory Thriller following an unlikely hero and his four-legged companions.

Mason, ‘Mace’, Reid, is a dog trainer who specializes in training cadaver dogs which he uses to help out local law enforcement with body searches.

At the beginning of the story, Mace has the opportunity to adopt a Golden Retriever puppy who has had a very traumatic start to life.

Dog lover that he is, and having recently loss one of his pack, he welcomes the puppy with open arms and names her Vira. Not long after her training begins.

Unbeknownst to Mace, Vira is soon to be working her first case, as a deadly killer is lurking very close to home.

When the serial killer sets his sights on Mace, all bets are off. It’s up to Mace, his new friend, CPD Officer Kippy Gim and Vira, to stop the killer and stay alive.

This was a solid start to a series. Dealing with a fictional serial killer can definitely up the ante of a story and this is no exception.

It was intense, it was fast-paced, but there were some elements I wasn’t crazy about.

For example, there was some cringey, insensitive humor, but also some fairly good humor where I laughed out loud. Yeah, so a mixed bag.

The occasions where I actually grimaced at badly worded jokes were fewer than things I liked about the story overall though, hence my 3.5-star rating.

I also had a hard time with some of the scenes involving the dogs. I will say, dogs in stories, is generally something I have a problem with; it’s not specific to this. It causes my anxiety to rise and makes it hard for me to relax and connect.

With this being said, I am aware that this is 100% specific to me as a reader. If you are fine with reading stories with dogs, or even love them, you will most likely really enjoy this.

Mace is a really good dog owner. You can tell he loves his boy and girls and treats them like part of his family; as they are.

Overall, I think this is a solid start to a series. I would definitely consider picking up the next book, praying the whole way that all the dogs remain happy and healthy throughout.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate having the opportunity to provide my opinion.

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Review: The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

The Girl from Widow HillsThe Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When she was just 6-years old, Arden Maynor became a national news story because of something shocking and terrifying that happened to her.

One night, in the midst of a sleepwalking episode, she exited her house during a terrible storm and subsequently got swept away into her hometown storm drain system.

Her mother reports her missing when she is not in her bed early the next morning. Hearing of the missing girl, the entire town of Widow Hills, and even neighboring towns, mobilize to search for her.

Three days later, a man helping with the search discovers her grasping a grate at the top of a storm drain. Unable to pry open the grate lid, he holds her tight until a final rescue plan can be implemented.

It’s an unbelievable story that unsurprisingly took the media by storm. How could a little girl possibly survive in a water-logged drainage system for three days on her own!?

Riding on the wings of such attention, Arden’s mother takes full advantage and publishes a book telling her story. Along with the generosity of strangers and paid speaking events, the book royalties allow the Maynors a fairly stable income.

But Arden disagrees with her mother a hundred percent on how she wants her life to go. She wants to be as far from the spotlight as possible.

She hates the pressure, people thinking they know her, her life story, acting like she owes them something. She just wants to move on with her life and forget that horrible night altogether.

As soon as she can, Arden changes her name to Olivia, goes to college and breaks away from her mother for good.

Frankly, the woman is toxic and being as far away from her as possible, does wonders for Olivia’s own mental health and wellness.

The bulk of the narrative takes place as the 20th-anniversary of that fateful night approaches. In addition to the present-day narrative, mixed media sources are interspersed throughout that shine further light on the incident that changed Olivia’s life forever.

These include 9-1-1 call transcripts, police and media interviews, as well as excerpts from her mother’s book.

As the anniversary gets closer, Olivia discovers she is sleepwalking again and begins to feel paranoid that she is being watched. She confides in her protective next-door neighbor and even a close friend after her hand is forced.

Are the reporters back at it again, looking for another story, or is something more sinister going on? When a man ends up dead in her yard, Olivia guesses the latter.

This was a fun story. Such a quick read, I just wanted to know what was happening. The suspense was killing me, I just wanted Olivia to be okay!

There were some great red herrings, excellent plot twists and steady, exciting pacing.

This made me think of the story of Baby Jessica from the 1980s. The notoriety that surrounded her life and her family for years to come.

I thought Miranda did a great job expressing the stress and discomfort that can have on people involved in that sort of media firestorm. I cannot even imagine. As a private person, even thinking of that gives me anxiety.

This was my first novel by Megan Miranda and I really vibed well with her writing style. I will absolutely be picking up more of her work soon.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it and know a lot of readers are going to really enjoy this!

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Review: Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

Something to Talk AboutSomething to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Something to Talk About is Berkley’s first published F/F romance. Believe me when I tell you that I was HIGHLY anticipating its release.

However, as intriguing as the premise sounds, and as monumental as its release is, it unfortunately left me underwhelmed.

Honestly, it hurts me so much to write this. It is a good book, there is nothing off-putting about it, and it even tackles some fairly serious issues, but I was expecting to be swooning the whole way through.

Picturing in my head, Red, White and Royal Blue, but with lady loves and it just fell flat. It took me close to a month to finish it, where normally it would take just a few days to read an Adult Romance.

Initially, I found myself connecting with Jo, the older of the two main characters, who happens to be a big shot Hollywood director.

We’re the same age and a lot of the feelings she was having surrounding her career and relationships, I could relate with.

Emma, Jo’s intelligent and capable assistant, is about a decade younger than Jo and an aspiring director herself.

The two have been working together for just over a year and slowly begin to notice their feelings for one another may be pushing the bounds of what is acceptable in the work place.

Forbidden, age-gap romance, uneven power dynamic, when will they kiss; I was into it in the beginning.

Unfortunately, for me, it never seemed to go anywhere. Jo and Emma struggled with the same feelings over and over and over; never communicating and never progressing in their relationship.

It was like the wheels of the plot were just spinning. I started to get a little frustrated at about the halfway point, but stuck with it.

I am glad I stuck with it, at least I know the conclusion. (view spoiler)

I think as far as romances go, and I am by no means a sophisticated romance reader, but for me, this was a little too straight and narrow for my tastes.

I understand in reality, these were huge choices these women were making, but make a freaking decision already!

Overall, I am excited that this book exists. I certainly hope that Berkley continues to publisher more Queer Romance for a long time to come!

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


I appreciate it and although this wasn’t necessarily the story for me, I know a lot of readers are going to really enjoy this one!

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Review: Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2) by Danielle L. Jensen

Dark Skies (Dark Shores, #2)Dark Skies by Danielle L. Jensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading Dark Shores last year and consider it to be an extremely underrated YA Fantasy novel.

Going into this second installment, I was completely prepared to enjoy it, but Dark Skies takes it to a whole new level.

One very interesting point of note on the format of this series, which I was unaware of going into this, is that this book’s storyline runs parallel to the storyline of Dark Shores.

I expected this to be a linear continuation of the series, picking up directly after the events of the first book.

However, that is not this case. This book follows two completely different perspectives during the course of the same period of time as the first book.

It was so interesting to see the story unfold this way. Lydia, one of the protagonists in this book, is a side character in Dark Shores. The other protagonist, Killian, is new, I believe.

Lydia lives within the Celandor Empire and she was actually the impetus for a great many of the events in Dark Shores, but as the reader, you don’t know the whole story.

Dark Skies fills it in. Not only does this book fill in some missing pieces, it continues to grow the world at an impressive rate.

Lydia meets Killian when she is forced to flee her home due to a botched assassination plot. She ends up in the West, on the far side of the endless sea.

Killian is a solider, marked by the God of War for great things. He is sworn to protect the Princess of Mudamore, a principality on the brink of war.

There are too many incredible elements of this story, but some of my favorites include: Lydia’s character arc, the brutal world that seems inspired by ancient Rome, the political intrigue, the dangerous, dragon-like creatures terrorizing the city by night, the blight infecting the citizens and yes, the extremely slow-burn romance.

This book is close to 500-pages and there is always something going on. These characters have to constantly be on guard and it certainly made me tense.

I had no idea where this was going to go. There is so much left to this story and I was shocked and delighted to learn, this is slated to be a 4-book series!

If you have not picked this series up yet, I highly recommend giving it a shot.

Personally, I did enjoy this more than Dark Shores and that’s saying a lot. I think the main reason is because of Lydia and Killian. Not their relationship, well yes, that helps, but just because I loved each of them both as characters.

Lydia is the legit best. A bookworm who gets in over her head and then learns to be a certifiable badass. Talk about coming out of your shell!

I cannot wait for the next book in the series, which if I understand correctly, will follow the events of the first two books and will have all four main character perspectives: Teriana and Marcus, from Dark Shores, and Lydia and Killian, from Dark Skies.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Teen, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I am really looking forward to continuing with this series!

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Review: Hood by Jenny Elder Moke

HoodHood by Jenny Elder Moke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

What happened after Robin Hood and Maid Marian rode off into the sunset together?

They had a daughter, Isabelle. This is her story.

Finding herself on the wrong side of the law, Isabelle is forced to flee the village of Kirklees and the priory where her mother, Marian, is Prioress.

With her mother’s aide, she sets out with a destination in mind, where dwells one of her mother’s old friends who can help her hide from the King’s men.

After a fearful journey, over many days, she reaches the Inn her mother advised her to go to.

It’s there she joins up with the Merry Men, learns the truth of her parentage and grows ever closer to meeting the infamous, Robin Hood.

This was an action-packed, super fun story, full of adventure and close calls.

I enjoyed where Moke took this, finding out how Robin and Marian’s ‘happily ever after’ went.

While I had fun reading this, it was quick and light, I wasn’t necessarily blown away by anything here.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good story, and if you are a fan of the Disney animated version, you should definitely check it out, but I can’t help but wish it would have been built out further.

Moke has a very pleasing writing style and all the bones were here, but I just wanted more.

I believe this is a standalone, but I sort of wish it was going to be a duology. I started to feel very connected with Isabelle towards the end, and the rest of the Merry Men. Personally, I would really enjoy following them on further adventures.

While I wasn’t crazy about some of the content of the conclusion to this tale, I do believe there is a lot more story to tell and Moke is the perfect person to tell it.

Give me more Isabelle. She is just starting to come into her own!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to reading more from Jenny Elder Moke!

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