Review: The Twenty (Major Crimes #2) by Sam Holland

The TwentyThe Twenty by Sam Holland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Twenty is the second book in Sam Holland’s intense Crime Fiction series, Major Crimes.

I very recently read the first book in the series, The Echo Man, and was blown away by it. Gritty, gruesome and gripping, the taut mystery really did it for me.

I wasn’t quite sure going in how exactly this one would be related to the first and it did take me a wee bit to figure out the connection.

These novels are set in the UK and I’m not super familiar with their criminal justice system, so please forgive me if I get the terminology wrong.

I think essentially, this involves the same large police department, but it just follows investigators at what in the U.S. would be called, a different precinct, than the first.

We aren’t following any of the same main characters as the first book, but The Echo Man crimes are alluded to and one of the investigators from the first book is mentioned a few times, as well as getting her own cameo.

Our two mains here are DCI Adam Bishop and Dr. Romilly Cole. The crimes involved are numerous, brutal and perplexing. They also connect, in a way, to Romilly’s past.

The case at the heart of the book involves bodies being found, in varying states of decomp, that have roman numerals marked above them. It quickly becomes evident that the killer is counting down and there’s a way to go.

If they can’t find this sadist and stop them in time, a lot more bodies are bound to fall.

This is another solidly-brutal and compelling story from Holland. It did take me a bit longer to get into this one; to connect, but it did pick up speed and intrigue in the second half. The end left my jaw on the floor.

There were a lot of complex relationship dynamics in this one and at times, I felt like those issues sort of overshadowed the overriding mystery. Or maybe, it would be more accurate for me to say that those relationship subplots distracted me from the overall mystery.

Because of this, the balance was a little off for my taste.

With this being said, I still found this to be a super enjoyable read. In my opinion, it would be hard to follow up The Echo Man, as it was such a fantastic debut.

I feel like Holland has succeeded with her sophomore effort. This delivered intrigue and action. It left me wanting more. Happily, it seems like with this ending, there will definitely be more books in this series.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I cannot wait for the next book!

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Review: The Echo Man (Major Crimes #1) by Sam Holland

The Echo ManThe Echo Man by Sam Holland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The Echo Man is a debut Adult Thriller from Sam Holland. This novel released in 2022 and the follow-up, The Twenty, just released in early-May.

In anticipation of the release of The Twenty, which I was kindly gifted a copy by Crooked Lane Books, I wanted to be sure to pick this one up first.

I don’t know if, or how they’re related, or if you need to read them in order, but when I can, I do like to pick up an author’s work in order of release.

I decided on the audio for this one and loved that format. It was so addictive and cringey, hearing it out loud. It was exactly the reading experience I needed at the moment.

This is one of those stories that is hard to explain, but it was expertly woven together, so when you’re reading it, everything fits; everything makes sense.

There’s a woman named Jessica, married, living with her husband and their daughter. We start following her just before her house is set on fire. She narrowly escapes with her injured daughter in her arms. Her husband, sleeping in a different room, wasn’t lucky enough to make it out.

The police suspect Jessica is guilty of setting the fire, but she didn’t do it. Because of a shady history though, she’s afraid of not being believed and she flees from the hospital where she was being treated for minor injuries.

She befriends a disgraced detective, Nate Griffin, who knows Jessica isn’t guilty. In fact, he suspects the crime against Jessica and her family may have been committed by a criminal who has gotten away from him in the past.

There’s also a detective duo, Cara Elliott and Noah Deakin, who are simultaneously working a series of seemingly unrelated murders. As the bodies begin to add up, Cara can’t help but notice how the crimes seem to match those of famous serial killers.

You’re following these two separate duos, watching as their stories begin to blend and ultimately thread together into one nail-biting, pulse-pounding conclusion.

I found it very compelling. I was so into what was going on with Jessica, but also loved following along with Cara, on the more police procedural side of things. I felt it was the perfect blend of their two storylines; and I liked having one civilian perspective in addition to the investigators.

Both sides were equally interesting and the pace at which it alternated was perfection.

Let me be clear, this isn’t a story for the faint of heart. It’s not your average Thriller and it definitely took me by surprise. This gets DARK. Honestly, it contains some of the most brutal depictions of violence that I have ever read and I read dark shit for fun, like that’s my comfort zone.

I’m talking toe-curling, grimacing, exclaiming expletives whilst listening to it, dark. Not only that though, what a solid mystery; so good!

Overall, I am beyond happy that I finally made time for this one. What a way to enter the scene, Sam Holland.

I will remember this one for a long time to come and am looking forward to beginning The Twenty soon!

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Review: The Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro

The Haunting of AlejandraThe Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Haunting of Alejandra is a slow burn. One which, I’ll be honest, initially, I wasn’t sure was going to be for me.

I am happy to say that this slow-burner is well-worth the wait. It ended up really grabbing me. It is such a powerful story; so much more than a pretty cover.

In this story we follow, Alejandra, wife, mother and homemaker. When we meet her, Alejandra is struggling. She feels trapped, like she has no control over her life. She feels judged by her husband, used by her children and overlooked by the rest of the world.

Alejandra has no close family for support either. She was adopted when she was just a baby, by a super-religious family, she has since broken ties with.

She has found and contacted her birth mother though and was starting to build a relationship with her. Unfortunately, due to her husband’s work, they had to move and now her bio-mom lives far away.

Alejandra is having visions. She is depressed, in a black hole she sees no way out of. It’s difficult to read at times. I could definitely see her side, but man, was it bleak.

This is a story of generational trauma as well, so even though Alejandra doesn’t know a lot about her ancestors, or their lives, we get to follow some of them through different historical perspectives.

I did enjoy this. Some of these perspectives were more interesting than others, but where they really succeeded was in shining a light on the similarities of these women’s lives.

No matter how far they were separated in time, they all struggled with the same issues. The largest being, lack of choice and a battle for personal autonomy.

The Horror elements in this stem from Alejandra’s haunting by a spirit appearing as La Llorona, the Mexican Folk Demon, seemingly attached to Alejandra’s family.

This is the first novel I have read by V. Castro and I was impressed with the level of Horror imagery brought to the page. Toe-curling in some sections, visceral and biting, it definitely made me cringe.

Additionally, I loved how tied the haunting was to Alejandra’s culture. As mentioned above, she didn’t know a ton about her heritage initially, but believe it or not, I felt like what happened to her inspired her to learn more; to be more in touch with that part of herself.

Overall, I am so glad that I stuck with this one. It was a little tough to get through at first, but Castro made it worth it. There was a plan behind it all and it paid off big time. This will stick in my mind for a long time.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am looking forward to reading more from this author!

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Review: Funeral Songs for Dying Girls by Cherie Dimaline

Funeral Songs for Dying GirlsFuneral Songs for Dying Girls by Cherie Dimaline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Funeral Songs for Dying Girls is equal parts heartbreakingly-beautiful and chest-constricting in its uncomfortableness. This isn’t an easy read and won’t be for everyone.

I read this in 2-days and was genuinely moved by it.

This novel is told via the 1st-person perspective of a girl named Winifred. It’s the summer she turns 16 and Winifred christens it the Summer of Humiliations.

Winifred is at a difficult period in her life. Her mother passed away when she was born, so Winifred has never had a lot of strong female influence in her life. The only adult female she’s had a genuine connection with was her Aunt, her mother’s sister, who has recently passed on.

Not only was this a loss of the only sort of motherly influence she has had, but it was also the loss of the only connection she had to her Mom’s family and the MΓ©tis community. It’s a big loss and she definitely feels it.

Upsetting her world further is the news that the crematorium that her Father works at may be shutting down, his job outsourced. If this happens, Winifred and her Dad will be forced to move from the only home she has ever known.

They live in an apartment on the cemetery grounds, close to her Mother’s grave. Even the idea of having to move on from this space causes a great deal of anxiety for Winifred, and for her Dad.

When Winifred’s comings-and-goings around the graveyard mistakenly get labeled as hauntings however, Winifred sees this as a potential saving grace. A local ghost tour is interested in the hauntings and may add the cemetery to their stops list because of them.

If they do, this could mean additional income and a possibility that the crematorium could remain open. They would be able to stay in their house. Winifred needs to develop a plan to coax this possibility along.

After Winifred befriends an actual ghost in the graveyard though, her outlook on everything slowly begins to shift.

The ghost is a teen girl, Phil, who died tragically in a ravine next to the cemetery decades before. Through the telling of her story, Winifred’s eyes are opened to the greater world around her. She starts to see and consider things she never did before.

Through Phil’s short life, Winifred is inadvertently introduced to the rest of hers. There’s a great big world out there, what is Winifred’s place in it?

First of all, the writing in this book is breathtaking, in such a raw, sort of aggressive way. I’m not sure I can quite convey what I mean by this, but basically, in the beginning, Winifred is in a really tough spot in her life. The way she views the world, and tells her story, is jaded and harsh.

Not a lot is going her way. She’s an outcast at school, ridiculed by her peers for being strange. They call her Wednesday Addams and generally give her a hard time.

She has her Dad, who provides for her and obviously loves her, but he is emotionally unavailable. He’s stuck in his grief from the loss of his wife and that has unfortunately put up a bit of a wall between him and his daughter.

Winifred has her dog, Mrs. Dingleberry, who she loves so much and her best friend, Jack. Unfortunately, as her and Jack have gotten older their relationship has changed and gotten complicated. Then an event on her 16th-birthday ends up fracturing it further, so she is feeling more alone than ever.

At first, she seemed so abrasive to me. I wondered if I would be able to connect with her, but the further I got into the story, the more I learned about her and I cared more and more. Learning about her family and about her wants, it sucks you in.

Phil’s story is even more heartbreaking than Winifred’s and the way it is slowly revealed, oh man, so impactful. The final section of Phil’s story, I cried. I cried for Phil and for all the young people who have similar experiences to hers. Lost souls who will never find a way home.

Overall, I think this is a powerful story for those who can stomach it. It’s not an easy read. It’s not fast-paced, or plot heavy, this is very much a character examination and a moving portrait of growing up, discovering your identity and learning to love yourself and others.

I was so impressed with Dimaline’s writing and her ability to pour emotion and culture into the story in an unflinching and unapologetic way. It’s dark, but ultimately left me full of hope. I am very satisfied with the way it wrapped-up.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tundra Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I was moved by this and I hope it gets into the hands of Readers who appreciate it.

I think for the people this resonates with, it will be a very memorable reading experience indeed.

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Review: Lone Women by Victor LaValle

Lone WomenLone Women by Victor LaValle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Lone Women follows Adelaide Henry as she leaves her life in California behind and starts again in the wide-open spaces of Montana.

It’s 1915 and Adelaide is essentially fleeing from her previous life, leaving death and destruction behind her. At least that is what she is hoping.

In Montana, she’ll be a lone homesteader. On her journey, she’s conspicuously dragging with her an overweight steamer trunk. That’s not suspicious at all…

This story is steeped with mystery from the very first pages. A tragedy occurred on the Henry farm and Adelaide is on the run, but you have no idea what happened.

Adelaide is rushed and confused, she’s full of anticipation and doubt about her chosen path. Can she actually do this? It won’t be easy. The landscape is brutal, unforgiving.

Will she even be able to survive her first month on her own, let alone a lifetime? She feels ill-prepared.

Something is going on with the trunk. She’s so concerned about it. Double, triple-checking that it’s securely locked; that no one goes near it. It gave me anxiety.

What is in the trunk!?!?

As the Reader you follow along as Adelaide stakes her claim in Montana and begins to figure out a path to survival. She makes friends and begins to fall into a pattern.

She should know though, it won’t stay uneventful forever. She should know better, that soon enough, you know what is gonna hit the fan and boy, does it ever.

In addition, to Adelaide’s own secrets and demons, she also has to contend with those of others. It seems like a lot of people came to Montana running from something.

These homesteaders are essentially forging their own society. There’s going to be some good actors and some bad. Adelaide runs into them all.

I enjoyed this as a story of female rage, power, will and spirit. Adelaide is such an interesting main character to follow. I loved watching as the truth of her life slowly unfolded.

There were some interesting developments towards the end that I’m not quite sure what to make of yet. I feel like I could read this story a few times and pick up different points every time. LaValle packed a lot in and I’m sure a bit of it has gone over my head.

The dark elements in this were really well done, but I enjoyed them most in contrast to everything else. I liked how they added such an odd layer to the overarching plot. It made everything seem more perilous.

I also liked how those same dark elements made me question Adelaide herself; her nature, whether I really knew her at all. It was definitely compelling. I had to keep reading because I had to know more.

Additionally, I found LaValle’s writing style extremely fluid and easy to read. I feel he really succeeded in bringing a lush and historical atmosphere to this story.

In fact, the historical details were so well done, I felt like I was being transported to another time and place while reading. I was hungry, I was cold and I was scared once the sun went down. That’s a great reading experience.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys creative Dark Fiction, or Historical Horror stories. Even though this is a relatively short-story, there’s so much great content packed in here.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Nightfire, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a ton of fun with this and look forward to reading more from LaValle!

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Review: Churn the Soil by Steve Stred

Churn the SoilChurn the Soil by Steve Stred
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**


Churn the Soil kicks off with a bang and doesn’t let up; not once. In the beginning we have a murdered young girl, mutilated in a somewhat sacred area at The Border.

Basco PD officers get alerted to the gruesome crime and travel to The Border to investigate. At this point, you may be asking, what the heck is The Border?

The Border is an area outside of Basco and the border with the Yukon territory. There is a community of people there that have chosen to cut themselves off from the rest of society. They’re none too trusting of authority, particularly the local police.

When Officers Brown and Reynolds arrive, the Border dwellers are less than forthcoming about the dead girl. Luckily, Officer Brown actually was a resident at The Border when he was child and still has one friend within the settlement, a woman named, Nancy.

Nancy wants to help. She realizes something is off with the general flow of life at The Border. This type of thing hasn’t happened in recent memory. She wants to get to the bottom of it as much as the next guy.

Little do they know, it’s about to get worse. Wayy worse.

Churn the Soil is a high octane Horror story. Stred somehow seamlessly blended an Action movie with Folk Horror and a good old fashioned Police Procedural into one work. I’m not sure how he did it, but he definitely pulled it off.

I am not going to say too much more about the plot, because frankly, I feel like it is best going in knowing next to nothing, as I did. This story is full of surprises.

I will say one little thing for Readers who have tastes close to mine. There is a dog in this story. The most perfect Cane Corso that the world has ever seen. He is a K9 police officer named Bruiser and he plays a significant role.

If this concerns you, if perhaps animal content is triggering for you, please read the following: (view spoiler)

I was impressed with how quickly Stred hooked me. There’s no unnecessary build-up, or silly filler, and I was really digging his writing style from first few pages. I am looking forward to picking up more of his stories.

Additionally, this is one of those cold-weather Horror stories that will have you adding an extra layer to your wardrobe while you’re reading. I feel like Stred really succeeded in building-out a powerful setting. The backdrop of this landscape gets under your skin.

I’m not going to lie, this gets wild. W-I-L-D. The threat feels real. In fact, it almost seems hopeless. These characters are up against an incredible evil. I definitely wondered how anyone would make it out alive.

Overall, this story kept me up well into the night. It’s a creative and creepy Horror tale. Solid work from new-to-me author, Steve Stred. This was a lot of cringe-worthy, run-faster, don’t look behind you, fun!!

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Review: Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury

Delicious MonstersDelicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She’s stretched her legs. She’s tied her sneakers and she is off, in the running for my favorite book of 2023!!!

Although there’s a long road ahead, I know Delicious Monsters has serious staying power. This was a darkly delicious story, which now lives rent free in my brain.

This story follows two young women, Daisy and Brittany, 10-years apart. Daisy comes first and I would say she is decidedly the star of this show.

Brittany is a host and co-creator of a popular web series, Haunted, who is interested in featuring a property owned by Daisy’s family on her show. Brittany would win the award for ‘best supporting actress’.

When the story begins, Daisy and her Mom, Grace, are living together in a small apartment in Toronto. Daisy has recently been dumped by her boyfriend and she’s admittedly struggling with moving past that.

It seems almost too good to be true then, when just when they need it most, Daisy’s Uncle passes away and leaves the family mansion to Daisy’s Mom, Grace. After a brief discussion, the two decide to pack up everything and move. Bye-bye city, hello, wide open spaces.

Set in a remote location, that’s extremely challenging to get to, the property is steeped in mystery. Grace refuses to enter the mansion, so the two actually take up residence in a bunkie, a smaller home on the property.

The goal though is to run the big house as a B&B, and Grace sets out to accomplish that right away. Daisy helps out, explores the property and even makes a couple new, intriguing friends.

As they settle in though, Daisy begins having disturbing experiences that make her question the history of the property and her mother’s story regarding it all.

Brittany’s sections are interspersed amongst the Daisy sections. It’s a mystery precisely why she is so interested in the property, like what exactly happened there, but you know it’s not good.

As things escalate with Daisy’s timeline, it feels like it is leading towards a violent end. From there you watch as the two timelines merge and all is ultimately revealed.

Delicious Monsters is a wild freaking ride. I was buckled in for it all and absolutely adored it start-to-finish.

Immediately, I was struck by how fantastic Sambury’s writing is. I knew this going in, but it’s been a while, so I guess I had forgotten a bit.

Let me tell you about it. Sambury’s writing is fluid as heck. It’s beautiful without being so flowery that it loses all semblance of a coherent narrative. It’s emotional, it’s dark and it doesn’t shy away from examining difficult topics.

The character development is excellent. Daisy, in particular, is so compelling. You’re in her head a lot and it’s not necessarily a comfortable place to be, but you grow to love her and have such empathy for her journey.

Additionally, there is great mystery to this story, as well as some truly haunting imagery. As you race towards the conclusion, things, I believe intentionally, start to get a little addled. You won’t be sure what’s up, what’s down, what’s real and what’s not. It was intense and a real page turner.

This was such a fun reading experience for me. It’s one of those books where I wish I could go back and read it again for the first time. It’s that good. It’s stunning, crushing, hope-inducing and toe-curling. It’s everything.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys Horror, YA Horror, Haunted House stories, or Dark Fiction in general. There are quite a few sensitive topics explored though, so I urge you to seek out the author’s review, as she includes a full list of content warnings.

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

I have been anticipating this book since July of 2021, when I first heard of the initial concept. It did not disappoint in the slightest. This is a phenomenal story!

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Review: No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill

No One Gets Out Alive: A NovelNo One Gets Out Alive: A Novel by Adam Nevill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up No One Gets Out Alive as Book #14 for my TBR-Haul Project. I was excited to get to it and to be checking off another backlist Horror novel from my TBR.

I originally hauled this in January 2019, with every intention of reading it quickly. Then I held it in my hands, read some reviews and I was seriously intimidated.

My edition of this book comes in at a whopping 628-pages, which is pretty chunky for a Horror novel known to be a terrifying, emotionally-exhausting mindfuck.

But one of my intentions with this TBR-Haul Project is to read books like this. Books I’ve been too nervous to pick up before and in this case, rightly so.

It did take me a full 2-months to read. Not because it was bad, or I wasn’t enjoying it, but because the content is heavy AF. We’re talking every trigger warning EVER.

I finished reading it on January 29, 2023 and am just now feeling like I am able to talk about it. I needed some serious time to process Stephanie’s journey.

There are so many important topics explored in this one, such as the cycle of poverty, urban isolation, sexual exploitation and the exploitation of victims by society and the media in the aftermath of violent crimes.

Personally, I feel like Nevill did a phenomenal job of digging into such meaty subject matter.

This story follows Stephanie Booth, who is down on her luck. After the death of her father, she knows she can’t continue living with her toxic, abusive step-mother. Therefore, she’s forced out of the only home she’s ever known.

Unfortunately, Stephanie has no other family to lean on and she’s recently split with her boyfriend, Ryan. In short, Stephanie doesn’t have a safety net and is on her own.

Working temp jobs doesn’t provide her with a steady enough income to build a safe life for herself, so she is flailing. In search of cheap lodgings, she discovers a flat for rent on a message board at a grocery store. The cheapest one she’s ever seen. Even though it seems too good to be true, Stephanie can’t afford to look a gift horse in the mouth.

The flat is located at 82 Edgehill Road in North Birmingham. An address you’ll never forget after you read this.

She is given a tour of the building by the creepy Landlord and ignoring all her intuitions, throws caution to the wind and accepts the flat.

After just one night, she is regretting her decision and kicking herself for not listening to her instincts. That’s the thing with poverty though, it robs you of your choices. Now she has to deal with the fact that she is a girl on her own in the presence of an unhinged male stranger. You see, Knacker the landlord, lives in the building as well.

It’s more than him though, Stephanie hears voices, crying women, scratching at the floors and the distinct sounds of violence coming from behind walls and closed doors.

Still she can’t get out. Knacker refuses to return her deposit so she can leave and she doesn’t have the funds to secure another place. She stays, hoping her temp work will provide her with enough money to be able to find other lodgings.

As time wears on, the happenings inside the house escalate quickly. Stephanie begins to abandon hope. She’s trapped in a horrible spiral of increasing misfortune. Will she be able to make it out alive?

Y’all, I can’t go too much further into this without getting into the spoiler zone, so I will sort of leave it here. Let’s talk about my experience with this story though.

I went into this not really knowing anything besides what is included in the brief Publisher’s blurb. I recommend that. If you are concerned with triggers, just know everything is included in here, so if that makes you nervous, you may want to steer well clear.

This book will not be for everyone. There is an overriding feeling of fear that I found to be emotionally impactful. Stephanie’s time in the house is marked by sustained terror, where she is constantly anticipating violence against her. It’s tough to read, not gonna lie.

I think for those who can handle it though, it is well worth the read. I thought it was so impressive how Nevill could not just sustain that feeling of dread, but how he was able to build and build and build on it, until you feel like you might not be able to take any more.

Then just when your head and heart are about to explode, there is a marked shift in the narrative, where we begin to explore a new side to this type of violent experience.

I was really impressed with this one. When I was reading it, I was completely invested in Stephanie’s experience and when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. The way it is told, it’s so easy to picture yourself in Stephanie’s shoes, like what would I do?

It’s eye-opening in a lot of ways, particularly about how Stephanie’s status in society sort of stripped her of options. Even she recognized this; pondering how her life had gotten to this point.

It was sad and heavy, but an important thing to consider, because this is reality for a lot of folks. Maybe not this exact set of events, but certainly the scenario that lead Stephanie to this point and trapped her there.

On this bright and shining note, I will end this review by saying, anyone who thinks they can handle this type of narrative, should check it out. I think, as horrifying as it is, there is a lot to be taken from this.

Stephanie’s story is going to live in mind for a long time to come.

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Review: A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor

A Sliver of DarknessA Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

A Sliver of Darkness is a short-story collection comprised of 10-tales by beloved author, C.J. Tudor. This was Tudor’s only 2022 release, a fact that she addresses within this book.

Anything from Tudor would get me excited, but I was particularly looking forward to trying out some shorter fiction from her. This collection was definitely interesting.

I found these stories to be unique and entertaining. It’s pretty clear Tudor has entered her dystopian/post-apocalyptic era and I’m not mad about it.

This explored themes that felt fresh and relevant to our post-pandemic world. It also got pretty murdery and twisted; two things I adore in dark, or speculative, fiction.

I enjoyed how each story had a short introduction by the author. This reminded me of King’s The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. I always enjoy when an author includes these types of insights into their inspirations, or connections, to each story. It makes the experience more personal.

Additionally, I feel like it helps to set-up the proper tone for each story. I’m definitely glad that Tudor decided to include them in the final copy of the book.

Overall, I found this collection to be varied, unpredictable, well-written, engaging and it definitely gave me a lot to think about.

Considering all the world has been through over the past 3-years, I don’t think it is surprising that this is the type of creativity Tudor felt like expressing. It definitely feels apropos for the times.

Thank you to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I love Tudor’s style and will continue to pick up everything she writes!

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Review: Such Pretty Flowers by K.L. Cerra

Such Pretty FlowersSuch Pretty Flowers by K.L. Cerra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

‘Get it out of me.’

That was the last text Holly ever received from her brother, Dane. She was out with friends, dancing, drinking, living it up. Her brother was ending his life.

Holly is overwhelmed with grief and guilt in the days following the discovery of Dane’s mutilated body. She knew he was struggling with his mental health. She feels guilty for not being more available to him.

Running through events in her mind, Dane’s tumultuous last months, Holly begins to suspect that his suicide isn’t as straight-forward as everyone believes. Seeing her brother’s mysterious and beautiful girlfriend, Maura, at his funeral does nothing to quell those fears either.

In fact, it only makes her suspicions grow.

Determined to figure out the truth behind Dane’s tragic death, Holly sets out to learn more about Maura and her relationship with Dane.

Holly befriends the younger woman and before long, circumstances allow them to spend a lot more time together. That’s when things begin to get weird; really weird.

Maura is a very successful florist in the Savannah area. She owns a gorgeous home, she’s so put together, but she’s also creepy as heck.

At first, Holly is drawn to her, attracted to her, but she’s also scared of her and she can’t quite pinpoint why. As their relationship grows, Holly begins to fear that she could turn out just like Dane if she’s not careful.

Compelling, addicting, eerie and creepy are just a few of the adjectives I would use to describe Such Pretty Flowers.

Anddddd while it wasn’t perfect, it definitely got my anxiety up and kept me glued to the pages!

I went into this under the mistaken idea that this was a YA-story, but it’s definitely not. It’s got more of a New Adult vibe. It gets pretty dark and graphic, even including some body horror, which I always enjoy. I was here for it.

It was also super suspenseful. You can tell that there is something going on with Maura. It was so interesting trying to figure out what. It also gets pretty stressful and intense, like in a Single White Female kind of way.

It’s like one of those intense feelings where you just want to shake the protagonist. Like, why are you making these crazy decisions, just get out of there!!

Holly was determined though. She tried so hard not to let silly fears overwhelm her, even when they didn’t seem quite so silly. Maura was just a girl, younger than her even, she had no reason to be intimidated by her…right?

Overall, I found this to be a clever and compelling work of Dark Fiction. There were a few areas that could have been explored a bit more, in my opinion, but I feel like this is still a solid, engaging story.

Thank you to the publisher, Bantam, 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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