Review: You Know What You Did by K.T. Nguyen

You Know What You DidYou Know What You Did by K.T. Nguyen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

You Know What You Did is an intensely-suspenseful Mystery/Thriller debut from a hot up-and-coming author, K.T. Nguyen. And what a crackling debut it is!!

This story follows a fascinating-MC, Anh Le, who goes by Annie. She’s married, and the mother of a teenaged daughter. Annie is also an artist, although she’s feeling unsatisfied with her career lately.

In fact, a few aspects of Annie’s life are beginning to derail after the passing of her Mom, a Vietnam War refugee, who Annie had a contentious relationship with.

Annie’s mother had been residing in an out-building on their family property, so she had been a fairly constant presence in Annie’s life.

The loss impacted Annie in a lot of unexpected ways. Her severe-OCD comes roaring back and the dark fixations of her mind seem to be morphing into her reality.

When Annie’s most wealthy patron goes missing, shortly after Annie visited her home, the police come knocking.

The disappearance is shocking and it has Annie questioning everything, even herself. She can’t seem to keep current events straight in her mind.

She’s confused about many things and it’s scary. She begins to distance herself from her family and friends.

With Annie’s husband traveling for work, and her daughter off to summer camp, Annie is left to her own devices. As you can imagine, that doesn’t go well.

Waking up in a hotel, with a lifeless body beside her, Annie has officially hit rock bottom. The police are back and she doesn’t have answers that make sense, not even to herself.

Y’all, I loved this. I found it completely engaging, creepy and thought-provoking. K.T. Nguyen delivered all the tense, claustrophobic, desperate, unreliable narrator vibes that I could ever hope for.

I found it so easy to connect with Annie. I felt everything she was feeling. It made me incredibly anxious, but in a good, entertaining way, if that’s possible. There were times that I was crawling out of my skin of anticipation.

I was sympathetic to Annie’s character from the start, particularly since I couldn’t stand her husband, or her daughter. It often felt like they were ganging up on Annie and were just not giving her any slack.

I was happy when they both left, so Annie could be alone. Although it definitely didn’t help her mental state.

It’s funny, I was Buddy Reading this with a friend and she mentioned, like how much is what Annie is relaying to us about her husband and daughter true? Could it be her paranoia? Part of her mental spiral? Or were they really being that rotten to her?

It’s so funny, I didn’t even consider that before she said it, but yeah, Annie’s mental state definitely added so much to the suspense of this story. It was an exceptionally well-executed unreliable narrator situation.

I absolutely loved Nguyen’s writing. The character work in particular, I was so impressed. I enjoyed not only the suspense and mystery of this story, but Nguyen also chose to tackle some difficult topics, such as the immigrant experience and mental health.

I enjoyed the levels of depth that these topics added to the story. This is more than just your standard Popcorn Thriller. This story has meat and I enjoyed every bite.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a taut, engaging and emotional Mystery/Thriller. Particularly, if you enjoy an unreliable narrator.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dutton, for providing me with a copy to read and review. If this is her debut, I cannot wait to see what Nguyen delivers next!!!

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Review: Twenty-Seven Minutes by Ashley Tate

Twenty-Seven MinutesTwenty-Seven Minutes by Ashley Tate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twenty-Seven Minutes, what I would classify as a slow-burn Literary Suspense novel, is a debut for author, Ashley Tate.

In this story, we settle into the small town of West Wilmer, where 10-years ago, their local It-Girl, Phoebe Dean was killed in a car accident on the way home from a party.

Her brother, Grant, was the driver that night and for unknown reasons, he waited 27-minutes after the crash before he called 9-1-1.

Yeah, it’s suspicious and rumors have swirled for years that the reason he waited so long was that he needed to sober up.

For a multitude of reasons, this tragedy hit the town especially hard. As the 10th-anniversary approaches, a memorial is planned for Phoebe and the town is abuzz again with theories and speculation about that night.

As you can imagine, this causes stress for those closest to the incident. It’s like they have to keep repeating the worst night of their life over and over again. Why won’t people just let them forget?

This story is told via multiple POVs and a dual timeline, as we follow those most effected by the events of that night.

Basically, if Phoebe’s death were a pebble dropped in a pond, we’d be following the ripples closest to impact. And honestly, that’s how I thought of this set-up. It worked.

As past and present begin to merge, the truth about that night is finally made clear for the Reader. It’s an emotional and angst-filled journey that doesn’t rush anything along.

I enjoyed this one. I found it to be well-written and the mystery behind that night, the pace at which all is revealed, I thought was really well done.

I think it is important to keep in mind though, this is a slow burn. If you are looking for a fast-paced Thriller, there may be better options. You have to be comfortable just sitting with characters and getting to know them through their thoughts and reflections.

For me, this was truly a story about surviving grief and trauma. Each journey through that space is going to look different. People deal with such events using the resources available to them, and some fare better than others.

I loved the small town atmosphere; she ran deep. I feel like anyone who grew up in a small town could relate with a lot of the vibes Tate created here.

I also enjoyed all the messy, damaged relationships and characters. I found them interesting and frankly, I don’t trust characters who are too perfect. I thought Tate did a great job of blending all of their stories together and pulling off a solid conclusion.

Overall, I think for Readers who really love to sink their teeth into fabulous character work, and they don’t need to like those characters, this will be a great read.

As far as this being a debut, I’m impressed. I think Tate brought everything she needed and more to this story. I am really looking forward to getting more from her!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

While this wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be, I am very pleased with what I got!

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Review: The Expectant Detectives (The Expectant Detectives #1) by Kat Ailes

The Expectant Detectives (Expectant Detectives, #1)The Expectant Detectives by Kat Ailes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The Expectant Detectives is a new style of Cozy Mystery that I have certainly never read before. I found it to be charming and a heck of a lot of fun; pure enjoyment.

I love Cozy Mysteries that feature an MC and their friend group trying to solve a local mystery. A few favorites, to be noted for example, from recent years would be The Thursday Murder Club, Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers and The Marlow Murder Club.

All three of these books have one important thing in common, the MCs are older than we would typically find in the Mystery genre. These older, dare we call them elderly, characters are quirky, fun and provide a bit of a different perspective than the norm.

In The Expectant Detectives, Kat Ailes uses a very similar set-up to other Cozies, but her intrepid group of amateur sleuths are pregnant women, not elderly individuals.

In this story, we meet and follow, Alice. She and her boyfriend, Joe, are expecting their first child. Although not planned, they’re both excited about the pregnancy and looking forward to the next steps in their relationship.

Thinking their city-located flat will be too small for their growing family, they decide to move to the sleepy village of Penton. They just feel like it would be a more desirable place to raise a child. Safer and all that…

That is until a dead body is discovered at a prenatal class they have joined. They can’t believe it. This is not what they thought village life would be like.

Now everyone in attendance at the class is a suspect, including Alice and Joe.

Together with a few of the other pregnant women, Alice begins looking into the murder herself. She needs to clear their names before this baby arrives.

Side note, Alice has a glorious dog, Helen, who could easily turn out to be my favorite character of the year. I just adored her and the joy she brought to the narrative.

I was really entertained by this story. The audiobook was well done, the narration so on-point with the humor that it had me laughing out loud numerous times.

I thought Ailes set-up for this story was creative and truly unlike anything I’ve read before. Alice has a dry, witty sense of humor that worked well for me. She tells it like it is. She’s pretty blunt about her pregnancy and the way it is changing/affecting her body.

I also liked that it wasn’t just Alice that was pregnant, she had her new friends to share the experience with, as well as to help her do some first-rate investigating.

For me, I wouldn’t say the initial murder was totally compelling. It didn’t even make sense to me at first how they were so confident it was a murder, like it almost felt like it could have been an accident or something.

Nevertheless, I was willing to go on that journey with the characters because I was enjoying them so much. After a while, the more the ladies dug in, the more secrets and intrigue they revealed, then I was hooked.

Overall, this is a fantastic debut Mystery. It had just the right amount of humor and fun, mixed in with the actual mystery. I think the longer this series goes on, the more attached that I’m going to get to these characters and this village as well.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m definitely looking forward to more from Kat Ailes!

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Review: That’s Not My Name by Megan Lally

That's Not My NameThat’s Not My Name by Megan Lally
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

That’s Not My Name was a great start to a new reading year. If this is what 2024 has in store, I’m a happy girl!

I’ve been on a holiday for the past 10-days. My house needed cleaning, I needed to unpack, organize, it was a whole day affair. Thanks to Megan Lally, that day was a breeze.

I started this one as soon as I started cleaning this morning and could not stop. It’s super compelling, with fabulous narration for the audio. Before I knew it, it was done.

This story follows two perspectives, Mary and Drew. There are dual narrators for the audio and they were each perfect for the character they were portraying. They were convincing as teens, which isn’t always the case.

When we meet Mary, she is injured and in distress. She is taken to a police station and expresses that she has no memory of who she is, or how she got injured.

As she and the kind Officer who picked her up try to decide what their next steps will be, a frantic man arrives at the station looking for his daughter.

She doesn’t remember him, but really, she doesn’t remember anything. He is able to provide the Officer with everything needed to prove she’s his daughter, Mary Boone. He has School IDs, family photos, even her birth certificate.

The Officer leaves Mary in his care, but does promise to check up on her soon, after she’s had a chance to rest.

Drew’s whole life changed weeks ago after his girlfriend, Lola, disappeared. He hasn’t been 100% truthful about the last night he saw her, not with anyone, not even the police, and now the guilt is eating away at him.

Making matters worse, the whole town, even people he considered friends, seem to think he is responsible for her disappearance. It’s always the boyfriend, right?

Drew tries to stay positive and focused. He knows he didn’t do anything to Lola and he’s determined to find her before it’s too late. He needs to prove his innocence, but he also feels he owes it to her after what he did.

The longer Lola is missing though, the more his chances of finding her diminish. He knows that, he’s realistic, so clearly time is of the essence. Along with a couple of friends Drew begins some sleuthing of his own, following leads to a place he never would have suspected.

When I tell you I was drawn in from the very start of this story, that is not an exaggeration. Getting Mary’s perspective as she struggles to recover memories and figure out what happened to her, that whole narrative was so freaking compelling.

Then with Drew, I was equally transfixed by his story. He doesn’t reveal everything right away and you can tell he is second-guessing some things. I needed to stay with him until the end.

I love how Lally paced this out. The perspective shifts were so well done. It’s definitely a ‘one more chapter’ kind of read. Each chapter left me wanting more in such a fun way.

The intensity builds at a nice steady pace as you are given more and more information about what the truth actually is for these two. By the end, I was racing along and felt so many emotions by the end.

I loved the conclusion and am just so very pleased by the overall experience. I am absolutely blown away that this is a debut. Lally knocked this out of the park, IMO and I am super stoked to see what she delivers us next.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a tense, fast-paced, emotional YA Thriller. I think this would work well for fans of Kit Frick, Laurie Faria Stolarz, Mindy McGinnis, or even Natalie D. Richards.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Recorded Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Megan Lally is going on my autobuy list for sure. I can’t wait for more!

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Review: The Stranger Upstairs by Lisa M. Matlin

The Stranger UpstairsThe Stranger Upstairs by Lisa M. Matlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Things to know about me: I am a huge sucker for an unreliable narrator, particularly if alcohol is involved, and I like unlikable MCs. Check and check for this book.

Unsurprisingly, the first thing that attracted me to The Stranger Upstairs was the cover. I’m shallow. Seriously, can we just take a moment to drink in these colors?

Next was the synopsis, which sold me on the idea of a social media influencer buying a murder house to renovate for content. And with gothic vibes!?

We love that. Additionally, it’s from a debut author and is set in Australia. We love that even more!!

Unfortunately, due to over-extending myself, and I didn’t get to it as quickly as I wanted to. Then the reviews started rolling in and some of them weren’t the greatest.

I started to get nervous. I started to prioritize other books over this one. It was a whole thing. Having now completed this, I wish I would have read it sooner. I thought it was so much fun; a gripping page-turner!

In this story we follow Sarah Slade, a therapist, who is also gaining some traction as a lifestyle influencer.

Black Wood House was once the scene of a grisly murder-suicide, and now it’s Sarah’s latest pet project. She and her husband need a place to start over, and due to its murder house status, they’re able to procure Black Wood at a ridiculously low price in a highly-desirable neighborhood.

Sarah’s idea is to renovate it and she can use the renovation as constant content to attract new followers, helping her to reach the next level in social media status.

Her husband, not a fan of purchasing the house in the first place, can hardly stand to be there. He doesn’t understand Sarah’s determination with this project.

Once the builders, hired on to help with the reno, begin acting strangely and having unexplained accidents, it appears maybe Sarah’s husband is on to something about the malevolent nature of the house.

Nothing is shaking Sarah though, not even the threatening notes that begin showing up for her. Someone doesn’t want her there. Is it the house, or someone else and is Sarah really willing to risk everything just for content?

There are so many layers to this story, but you’ll have to read it to discover all the little avenues Matlin takes us down. Admittedly, the writing style took me a minute to get used to, as it didn’t flow quite the way I expected.

However, after reading the entire story, I sort of feel like the way it was written matches Sarah’s personality perfectly. It’s like viewing the world through her eyes and I not only came to enjoy it, but I became extremely invested in it.

If I had to compare it, I would say the style reminds me of Mona Awad’s style, particularly in All’s Well.

I was extremely intrigued by the house and Sarah’s motivations for being there. I did feel like the house had a lot of Amityville vibes, but it wasn’t a turn off for me. I actually quite liked that.

Sarah, as a character isn’t particularly likable, and you might even classify her as unreliable, but I don’t need to like characters to enjoy a story. Additionally, as mentioned above, I love an unreliable narrator, so I think this story was just set-up to work for me.

I also really enjoyed the mystery behind what was happening with the house. It had a great, is it supernatural, is it not-intrigue to it that I always enjoy.

As Sarah is coming more unhinged the longer she stays in the house, she’s also simultaneously trying to figure out what is going on. I thought Matlin did a great job keeping the intensity up throughout and making Sarah’s investigations into her circumstances believable.

I think as far as debuts go, this one is very strong. I think if this is the kind of story that usually works for you, you should absolutely give this one a go. It’s tense and gripping throughout, with a very interesting conclusion.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Bantam, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am really looking forward to reading more from Lisa M. Matlin!

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Review: What We Harvest by Ann Fraistat

What We HarvestWhat We Harvest by Ann Fraistat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


What We Harvest, a 2022-debut from Ann Fraistat, is a YA-EcoHorror novel set in the farming town of Hollow’s End.

We follow Wren, a teenager, whose family descends from one of the founding families of the town and is well known for their rainbow wheat fields.

Each of the founding families has their own unique, somewhat magical crop. For decades Hollow’s End has flourished. Tourists come from miles around to marvel at the miracle crops. That is until 5-months ago, when the blight set in, ruining crops, animals and people alike.

Now the town is at the edge of total destruction, with curfews and quarantines in place, there’s no more marveling at the crops. It’s all running and hiding for your life.

After Wren’s parents fail to return from helping at a neighbor’s farm, and Wren gets herself in a bit of a pickle, she needs help. She ends up having to call the last person she wants to reach out to, her ex-boyfriend, Derek.

Unfortunately, Wren and Derek will have to put past issues behind them in order to survive. In fact, the teens may be the last hope for Hollow’s End. Will they be able to stop the blight before it gets them as well?

What We Harvest is a cracking debut. I love small towns filled with big secrets, and not only did this town harbor a lot of secrets, they were also very dark and dangerous ones.

This story kicks off very quickly, with the blight already having been taking over the town for a while. I liked Wren’s perspective right away and learning about the blight, as well as the history and dynamics of Hollow’s End.

You know right away that something very dangerous lurks here, hiding in the woods during the day, but you don’t really know what. I loved the ominous tone this sets. Right from the start, you know to be on edge.

Scattered amongst the more dangerous scenes, we also get some quieter moments, reflecting on Wren and Derek, and the various relationships in their lives. It was a nice balance between those more personal moments and the intensity of what is going on with the blight.

I enjoyed Wren and Derek’s relationship a lot, as we got to the bottom of what was really going on between them. I also liked learning about the founding families and the lore that surrounds how the town came to be.

Those elements did remind me of The Devouring Gray. If you enjoyed that book, I do think that you could really enjoy this. Another one with similar vibes would be Burn Our Bodies Down, although I did enjoy this story more.

The entire drama of this narrative played out so well. I feel like it was paced brilliantly and did have some super intense, edge-of-your-seat, nail-biter moments.

The Horror elements were well executed too, particularly in regards to the effects of the blight. There were definitely moments I was truly scared for these characters that I had grown attached to.

Overall, this was a great reading experience and I’m sure glad that I finally made time for it.

If you are a fan of any sort of Eco-Horror, YA or Adult, I think this one is worth giving a try. There’s some interesting elements in here that could keep you up at night. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author!

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Review: Let Him In by William Friend

Let Him InLet Him In by William Friend
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With a cover that immediately grabbed by attention, Let Him In impressed me with its exploration of some really complicated family dynamics.

In this story, we meet Dad, Alfie, and his twin daughters, Cassia and Sylvie. Nine months ago, the girls’ Mum, and Alfie’s long-time partner, Pippa, died suddenly and unexpectedly in their home.

Alfie, battling his own grief, is struggling to parent the girls alone. In spite of the challenges, Alfie feels like overall, they’re doing okay. At least as well as could be expected.

Things take a turn though when the girls wake Alfie one night stating, ‘Daddy, there’s a man in our room…’

Cue eyebrow raise, jaw drop and shiver running up spine.

That starts the girls’ new found obsession with their imaginary friend, Black Mamba, who they describe as a man who can shape-shift into any animal. He protects them and also takes them on fabulous adventures.

Alfie calls in Pippa’s sister, the girls’ Aunt Julia, for help with the Black Mamba situation. As a psychiatrist, he feels Julia is probably much more qualified to navigate this situation than he is.

The Reader gets both Alfie and Julia’s perspectives as the drama with the girls’ new friend escalates.

What they both assume is just a coping mechanism following Pippa’s untimely death begins to feel like more, however, as a series of increasingly disturbing events occurs. This includes both Alfie and Julia having visions that could possibly be linked to the mysterious Black Mamba.

Will Julia and Alfie be able to exorcise this hostile presence from their lives? Their family has already been shattered by tragedy, but it seems this being, the hold he has over the girls, could end up causing even further irreparable harm.

I really enjoyed my time with this story. I did end up listening to the audiobook and appreciate that it included the use of dual narration. Having a different voice for both Alfie and Julia helped to bring the story to life.

I thought the family dynamics were fascinating, not just amongst our main characters, but the backstory of Pippa and Julia’s family as well.

This is a debut novel for William Friend and I feel like it’s definitely impressive in that regard. The story has a ominous, haunting feel throughout that succeeded in getting under my skin.

There were a couple places towards the end where I got a little lost, but that could totally just be my own issue. Wandering mind and all that. Besides those couple of spots though, overall, I was extremely invested in this.

One of my favorite Horror tropes is the creepy kid trope. Friend definitely nailed that. Bonus points for them being twins and for the super-disturbing imaginary friend.

I’m not going to say anything else about this one, because I feel it’s best served if you go in knowing just the basics. Settle in and go along for the ride. This is the perfect read to kick off your October Spooky Season TBR.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with copies to read and review. I’m looking forward to more from William Friend!

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Review: Suddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz

Suddenly a MurderSuddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Suddenly a Murder is a fun and engaging YA Mystery from debut author, Lauren Muñoz.

As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to pick it up. The setting is a 1920s-theme party that ends in murder…on an island! This was screaming Classic Mystery feel to me, and that’s something I have soooo been into this year.

This story follows a group of teens who have just graduated from high school. Before they go their separate ways, their queen bee, Kassidy, plans an OTT-all expenses paid, 1920s-themed week at the lavish, Ashwood Manor, set on Sparrow Island, off the coast of Maine.

Frankly, if that alone doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what else to say.

I suppose I should give you a little more though. So, basically, Kassidy is the organizer of the entire weekend.

She’s super wealthy and is footing the bill for the entire event. Not only does this include the rental of the extravagant, and completely secluded island property, but it also includes all the 1920s-themed wardrobes and accoutrements for the guests.

All is going well, I mean except for the occasional teen drama, or spat, obviously to be expected, until the very unexpected happens.

Before dinner one night, Kassidy’s boyfriend, Blaine, is discovered dead in his room. Desperate and afraid, the teens call the authorities, who make it just in time, before a ferocious storm stops ferry travel to-and-from the island.

Murder, they say. But can that possibly be true? Who of the group of friends could possibly commit murder, and why?

Y’all, this was a fantastic set-up by Muñoz. I love how she brought that classic feel we all know and love, whilst seamlessly making it modern and engaging enough for the next generation of Mystery Readers.

I was pulled in right from the very start, as our group of characters is making their way out to the island. We begin to learn a bit about each of the guests for the week, as well the relationships and history they have amongst themselves.

Isadora, Izzy, is our main character that we come to know and love, or at least I did, over the course of the story. She is a bit of an outsider with this group, even though Kassidy is her tried-and-true best friend.

Izzy’s Mom is a teacher at the prestigious academy from which the teens just graduated. Izzy was able to attend due to scholarship, unlike all of her other friends, whose parents could more than afford the pricey tuition.

Because of this, and other experiences, Izzy provides a bit of a different insight into the events than the other teens.

There are some hints dropped in this one where I was like, could this be the answer? But honestly, I didn’t figure this one out until about 80% of the way through, and even then, I didn’t figure it all out. Some aspects I still needed the characters to fill in the blanks for me.

I thought this was a ton a fun. I feel like Muñoz plotted the murder mystery aspects so well, while also including some more heavy-hitting topics for consideration.

In my opinion. the story overall was really well balanced and it definitely kept me engaged throughout.

I definitely recommend this to any Reader who enjoys a YA Mystery/Thriller with well-developed characters, lush atmosphere and rich people behaving badly. Bonus points if you enjoy reading about private school students and drama.

Thank you so much to the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a ton of fun with this and cannot wait to read more from this author!!

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Review: The September House by Carissa Orlando

The September HouseThe September House by Carissa Orlando
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The September House, a debut novel from Carissa Orlando, is delightfully dark, entertaining and unique. Perfect for fans of Rachel Harrison and T. Kingfisher.

I was blown away and completely impressed by this!!!

Having received a copy of this month ago, by the time I got around to it, I had forgotten what it was about. Instead of re-reading the synopsis, I decided to jump straight in.

That was a great decision and I highly recommend going into this knowing as little as possible. Clear your mind and just dive in. You won’t be disappointed.

In fact, I am so committed in this belief that even I, the over-sharer that I am, am going to say as little as possible about this plot. I will say that it follows a woman, Margaret, and you get told the story fully from her perspective.

Margaret is living in her dream home. From the curb, it’s enviable, but things have slowly gotten out of hand. Mainly in September. Septembers are hell. Fed up with the living situation, Margaret’s husband, Hal, leaves.

Surprised by her Dad’s sudden absence, their daughter, Katherine, who has never visited the home her parents have lived in for the past four years, decides to pay a visit. She’s determined to figure out why her Dad left.

Katherine is suspicious as heck. Why would her Dad just leave, and why won’t her Mom provide her with any substantive information? What happened?

I absolutely love how Orlando chose to write this story. Being inside Margaret’s head as you learn the truth about the house and the things happening there was completely engaging. I was surprised how quickly it kicked off, dropping us right into the heart of it.

Additionally, I loved Margaret’s narrative voice. There was such nuance to it; it was funny, charming and completely heartbreaking at the same time, as all is revealed.

The introduction of Katherine into the house was an absolute delight as well.

I always find mother-daughter relationships interesting, but this one felt particularly well done. They are completely different people and at first, I thought, well, I can see why they really haven’t visited much in the past four years.

Katherine can seem a bit abrasive and honestly, at times, Margaret’s a bit doormat-ish for my tastes, but as the story evolves, and you learn their history, the true nature of their relationship was laid bare.

I was moved by it. Their relationship felt real to me. I became completely invested in them. It’s funny, even with all the horror elements, the truth behind Margaret and Katherine’s lives was the thing that almost broke me.

So yeah, the horror. Let’s discuss. This is a Horror novel, after all and boy, did Orlando impress me with her grasp of horror imagery and her ability to bring it to the page.

If this is Orlando’s debut, I cannot way to read her next book, and her next and her next, and so on and so forth, for what I know will be a long and successful career.

If you love haunted house stories, but are looking for something fresh, powerful and also slightly humorous, you absolutely, positively, definitely need to pick this up.

You might be wondering why I didn’t give it a full 5-star rating if I am swooning about it this much. My only slight nit-pick criticism is that somewhere, around the middle, there were times it felt slightly repetitive and dragged just a wee bit for me personally.

Nevertheless, a sensational debut. I am super stoked to read more from Carissa Orlando. I hope she stays in this lane, the deep, Cozy Horror vibe of this story is something I always enjoy and seek out.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This will remain in my mind for a long time to come!

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Review: The Girls from Hush Cabin by Marie Hoy-Kenny

The Girls from Hush CabinThe Girls from Hush Cabin by Marie Hoy-Kenny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The moment I heard about this YA Thriller involving a sleepaway camp and featuring a gorgeously ominous cover, I knew that I needed to read it ASAP.

A bonus for me was that The Girls from Hush Cabin is a debut for Marie Hoy-Kenny and we all know, I love checking out author debuts. It’s such an exciting moment!

In this story we meet a group of four teens, Holly, Zoe, Denise and Calista, who have been friends since they used to bunk together at Camp Bellwood Lake. Unfortunately, after the closure of the camp, the girls drifted apart a bit.

They’re brought together again unexpectedly after the tragic death of their beloved counselor, Violet. They all want to attend her services to pay their respects, so they decide it would be best to go together.

Since Zoe lives in the same town that Violet did, the other girls travel to Zoe’s to stay for the duration of events.

The girls have definitely changed over the years, but if there is one thing they can agree on it’s that Violet’s death is suspicious as heck.

They believe she could have been murdered and that her death could be related to the incident that caused the closing of the camp. The thing is, each one of the girls is keeping her own secrets about that particular summer and may know more about the incident than they’re letting on.

If someone was willing to kill Violet over it, could they all be in danger too?

The girls want to uncover the truth, whatever the risks. They feel like they owe it to Violet, even if it means exposing some hurtful truths of their own.

I had so much fun with this. I don’t care what anyone says, this is a dramatic, OTT page-turner. Hoy-Kenny delivered exactly what I wanted and expected.

I thought the story was well told. I liked the structure of it, starting with how we met each of the girls and then also, that we got all of their perspectives.

As mentioned, they each had their own secrets, memories and experiences with Violet and learning all that stuff helped to build out the substance of the story.

This is super dramatic. The girls make every scene a dramatic scene, but they’re teens who just lost a good friend. Only one of them had really ever experienced that kind of loss before, so this is a whole new experience for them.

I think for characters this age, it all made sense. Not only was there external drama, there was also a lot of drama just amongst the four girls.

Ultimately though, I liked how they worked together and ended up evolving through a lot of their disputes. Some of the things, I personally would have found hard to forgive, so good on them.

There were also some side characters bringing a lot of intrigue and dramatic flair as well. Violet’s Mom, Mrs. Williams, was a particular favorite of mine.

If you read this, you’ll easily understand why. All I could picture while reading her was Jennifer Coolidge, who I absolutely adore.

As this gets closer to the conclusion, things really amp up. This definitely went places I wasn’t expecting. My jaw dropped more than once; such a thrill ride.

Overall, I just think this is a fun time. It might not make my top 10 list, out of the 100s of books I read this year, but I still think it is a great freaking debut and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

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

I think Marie Hoy-Kenny is a great addition to the YA Thriller space. I’m looking forward to her next release!

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