Review: The Last Murder at the End of the World by Stuart Turton

The Last Murder at the End of the WorldThe Last Murder at the End of the World by Stuart Turton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On an island at the end of the world, a small settlement of survivors lives. Outside the island there is nothing. Well, nothing but a murderous fog that contains insect-like creatures with a taste for human flesh.

I may be exaggerating this a little, but trust me, you don’t even want to dip a toe in that fog.

122-villagers and 3-valued scientists live together on the island in harmony. It’s a simple life, but they do need to abide by some stringent rules; all for their own good. We should trust the scientists, right?

Well, the villagers certainly do. One day though, the unthinkable happens. One of their beloved scientists is found murdered, thus setting into motion a chain of events that could lead to the destruction of their world.

They need to solve the murder within the next 107-hours, or risk bringing on the fog and all the terrible little creatures that come with it.

The Last Murder at the End of the World was one of my most anticipated releases of 2024. I’ve really enjoyed both of Turton’s previously releases and was excited to see what sort of brain-teaser he was going to create for us next.

Sadly, this one just wasn’t suited to my tastes, but I can still appreciate the solid plot progression and creativity it took to create this whole world.

IMO, this book would work best for Literary Fiction fans, who enjoy stories with Speculative, or Futuristic elements.

I did enjoy the very beginning; the introduction to the setting and characters. It was all very mysterious and murky. It was giving me serious LOST vibes.

Not the attractive people suddenly stranded on a beach thing, though. More the disturbing community bits that they discover on the island way later…

I feel like I knew very early on, around page 37, what one of the big reveals was going to be. I don’t normally care about that, actually, I don’t. I don’t care about that, but unfortunately for me, the reveal I felt was coming is a trope I don’t tend to enjoy.

True to trend, it didn’t work for me here either. Obviously, I am not going to spoil for you what that is, but I’m aware that is strictly a personal taste issue, and is no way a reflection on Turton, or his work.

In fact, I doff my cap to Turton’s writing, creativity and overall mental prowess. It’s clear, if you’ve ever read one of his books, that his brain works better than around 95% of the rest of us.

For me though, this failed to capture my attention. I feel like some of it was kept too obscure, meaning, I couldn’t picture any of this. I was being told a lot of things, but I couldn’t actually imagine it, in my mind’s eye, playing out.

I also did find the pace to be incredibly slow, and not in an enticing slow burn sort of way. More in a, I’m starting to fall asleep way. And once I started to feel that, I couldn’t shake it. I really just wanted it to be over, which hurts me to say, but we’re all about honesty in this house.

I was fortunate to receive an early copy of the audiobook, because that definitely helped me to get through this one. I did find the narration quite charming.

At the end of the day, this just wasn’t a great fit for my tastes. The content wasn’t something I enjoyed. Nevertheless, I still love and admire Stuart Turton as an author and I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next!

Thank you to the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark and Tantor Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. Even though this wasn’t my cup of tea, I am still very glad I had the chance to pick it up!

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Review: Where the Dead Wait by Ally Wilkes

Where the Dead WaitWhere the Dead Wait by Ally Wilkes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As you can tell from the 2-star rating, Where the Dead Wait was a disappointment for me. It’s my first time reading Ally Wilkes and honestly, I just don’t think their style is for me.

I’m thankful for the audiobook actually, because I may not have made it through otherwise. The narrator was great, as he somehow made his voice delivery just pompous enough to match the writing.

I won’t discuss the plot, as I had to reference the Publisher’s synopsis numerous times in order to figure out what was happening. I’ll let you read that for yourself.

I came here for Winter Horror, and yeah, I mean that was here, but it was so far buried under details and blah, blah, blah, that it wasn’t enjoyable for me. IMO, it’s overwritten.

I can’t stress enough how much I wanted it to be over…

With this being said, I recognize that I am being fairly snarky right now, and it’s most likely not 100% warranted, but I need to be honest about my experience. Otherwise, what are we all doing here?

Our experiences with books are completely subjective though, so just because this didn’t work for me, DOES NOT mean it won’t work for you!

If you read the synopsis and it sounds intriguing, pick it up. You could end up finding a new favorite Arctic Horror novel here, and if you do, I encourage you to come back and tell me how wrong I am.

Thank you to the publisher, Atria, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Even though this didn’t work for me, I never write off an author after only one book ((pun intended)). This one just didn’t suit my tastes. Nevertheless, I would be interested in checking out more work by Ally Wilkes.

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Review: Dead Girls Walking by Sami Ellis

Dead Girls WalkingDead Girls Walking by Sami Ellis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Dead Girls Walking is a recent YA Horror release. One that I had been very anxious to pick up. The publisher’s synopsis, as well as the intriguing cover, had my full attention.

It looks like this is a debut novel for author, Sami Ellis, and while I can appreciate the author’s creativity and ambition, the story did not work for me, unfortunately.

I considered giving it 3-stars, but I have to be honest about my experience. For me, a 3-star book is something I liked, but that didn’t blow me away and may have minor issues. I just don’t think this one reached that status for me.

I’m not going to say anything about the plot. Please read the synopsis for more info. I barely understood what was happening and had to refer to the synopsis multiple times to try to get my bearings. Because of this, I feel I have nothing further to add in that regard.

And here we come to the heart of the issue for me. I found this narrative style confusing as heck. It felt like being dropped off at a movie halfway through, taking multiple bathroom breaks, and still being expected to understand what’s going on. Spoiler Alert: I didn’t.

It never succeeded in grabbing my attention. Additionally, the cast of characters, besides our MC, Temple, all blended together for me, and by the end, I just wanted it to be over.

With this being said, just because this one didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. I have seen some great reviews, I just feel like it was a miss for my tastes.

Thank you to the publisher, Amulet Books and RB Media, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I am interested it picking up more from this author in the future. I feel like maybe a different concept could help me engage more with their writing style.

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Review: The Mystery Writer by Sulari Gentill

The Mystery WriterThe Mystery Writer by Sulari Gentill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Mystery Writer is the latest release from Sulari Gentill, author of The Woman in the Library.

I have heard so many great things about The Woman in the Library, so when I was offered the chance to read The Mystery Writer a little early, I jumped on it.

This story follows Theodosia Benton, an aspiring author, who has just left her native Australia and moved to the United States, to Lawrence, Kansas, to live with her older brother, Gus, a successful attorney.

The two had an unconventional upbringing and you can tell that there is a lot of history there, yet they have a loving and supportive relationship. Gus is happy that his sister is pursuing her dreams, instead of going along with the path her parents and grandparents had in mind for her.

As part of her writing process, Theo begins to visit the same local cafe everyday. It’s there she meets and befriends, Dan Murdoch, who turns out to be a best-selling author.

Their relationship develops at a hasty clip and then one day, Theo finds Dan has been murdered. The stuff hits the proverbial fan from there.

Gus has a friend, Mac, who happens to be a private investigator, and he sort of takes on a role as Theo’s protector, as they work together to try to figure out what happened to Dan.

This was a difficult book for me to rate. It started out strong for me. I was deeply intrigued for like the first 40%, or so, then it just went absolutely off the rails.

I got to the point where I wanted it away from me. I was over it. It was such a sharp turn, I looked up like, what the actual heck am I reading?!

There was a mixed media element to this that I did not enjoy. Usually I am totally down for mixed media use, but in this case, I found it to be more distracting than anything.

I understand what it was supposed to represent in context to the overall plot, but yeah, just because I understand it, doesn’t mean I enjoyed it.

Then there’s Theo herself, who was way too naive for my tastes. Her naivety kept being explained away by the fact that she had moved from Australia, but that doesn’t track. It’s Australia, not the moon. She felt more like a time traveler straight out of the 1920s, or something; absurd.

This is the type of story, where I really have to be able to get behind the MC and I found her to be truly annoying. I did like Gus, Mac and the dog, Horse. Theo though, not so much.

Also, I didn’t enjoy where the plot went. The baddies seemed mere caricatures of baddies, versus something that would make sense to this story. I just couldn’t get behind it all.

With this being said, I understand that this is 100% due to personal taste and that a lot of Readers may end up really enjoying this one. After all, just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean it won’t be for you.

If this synopsis sounds intriguing to you, or if you enjoyed this author’s previous work, you should absolutely give it a go. Perhaps I’m just in a mood. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.

Thank you to the publisher, Dreamscape Media, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I do appreciate it and should say that the audiobook was very well narrated. I may not have gotten through this one, if it wasn’t for the audio format!

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Review: The Other Lola by Ripley Jones

The Other LolaThe Other Lola by Ripley Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Other Lola is a follow-up to the 2023-release, Missing Clarissa. These are YA-Mystery stories following two main characters: Blair and Cam.

In Missing Clarissa, Cam and Blair investigate the disappearance of popular cheerleader, Clarissa Campbell, who went missing from their small town of Oreville, Washington, 20-years before.

It starts as a project for their high school Journalism class and ends up being a viral podcast, as well as a life-endangering pursuit of amateur sleuthing.

At the end of the Clarissa case, Cam and Blair had sudden fame, but with it, a lot of unwanted attention. They vowed to never do it again; to stick their noses in where they don’t belong, to make a podcast, none of it.

Then they meet Mattie, a Freshman at their high school. Mattie shows up on the literal doorstep, begging for the girls’ help with an unsettling family situation.

Mattie’s sister, Lola, disappeared mysteriously five years ago. The thing is, Lola has returned. She’s not talking about where she has been all these years, and Mattie is convinced she’s an imposter, but no one else believes Mattie; not her mother, not her brother, Luke, no one.

Blair and Cam, Blair in particular, are moved by Mattie’s story. They seem so passionate about it. It couldn’t hurt to help them out, could it? Look into it a little…

Before they know it, the two are neck deep in another dangerous investigation, but with secrets between them, how will they ever be able to get to the bottom of someone else’s twisted family drama?

I was intrigued by this initially, and did enjoy following Cam and Blair during the investigation. For me, it wasn’t quite as compelling as the first book, but yeah, still a solid story.

The audiobook has great narration and I would recommend that format. I was able to fly through this story and I did find that the narrator helped to keep me engaged, even when I was rolling my eyes a little bit.

I felt like, and I could be misremembering, but for me, personal issues for Blair and Cam took much more of a front seat in this one than the first book. In a way, this almost felt like a straight YA Contemporary story, with a slight mystery happening in the background.

By this I mean, the mystery almost took a back seat to Cam and Blair’s interpersonal dramas. With this being said though, I do really enjoy both Cam and Blair as characters and I love their friendship.

So, it’s not like I was disappointed with those aspects of the story, it just seemed more difficult to get as invested in the mystery surrounding Lola because of it.

Additionally, there were things at the end that I found unsatisfying; that just didn’t make sense. I am mainly referring to the events following the big reveal, so sadly, I can’t comment more without giving the ending away.

Overall though, I still enjoyed Cam and Blair, their friendship and the idea of two smart high school girls taking on the world and solving mysteries. That’s a fun concept, which is fairly well executed within these stories.

There are hints that there could be more with these characters in the future. I would be interested in picking up future books, if that turns out to be the case.

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. The Other Lola is available now!!!

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Review: The Paleontologist by Luke Dumas

The PaleontologistThe Paleontologist by Luke Dumas
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was sold on The Paleontologist after the publisher’s synopsis noted it to be about a haunted paleontologist…

The full synopsis sounded gripping. There’s also a fabulous cover, plus, a short, simple, yet effective, title.

As a one-time Anthropology major, who focused in Physical Anthropology, I felt like this was the Horror novel I’d been waiting for. Sadly, it absolutely wasn’t.

In this story we follow Curator of Paleontology, Dr. Simon Nealy, who has returned to his hometown in Pennsylvania during the Covid pandemic to begin work at the Hawthorne Museum of Natural History, a museum he remembers well from his childhood.

It’s actually the last place he ever saw his little sister. Morgan was just 6-years old when she was abducted from the museum, at a time when she was purportedly to be under the supervision of Simon, who wasn’t much older.

Their mother was a real piece of work, and she’s the one who put them both in that position on that fated day. Simon has been haunted severely by the event ever since, whilst Mom seemingly feels zero responsibility.

As he returns now, the past is brought to the surface once again and poor Simon is left wondering if his sister’s spirit is still trapped at the Hawthorne somehow. He is seeing and hearing things he can’t explain. The museum is a cage of wonder and terrors.

I am not going to go on about this too much. It absolutely wasn’t for me and frankly, I’m super disappointed about it. IMO, this book is just one more thing that Covid ruined. The concept itself is great. The execution, not so much.

I was so anxious for this to end. I even switched from an ebook to the audio to try to make it go by quicker.

I don’t know, perhaps if you enjoy being reminded of Covid every third paragraph or so, you might enjoy it more than I did. An example would be, if you’ve ever wondered about the masking status of each and every character you meet, than this one may be for you.

It wasn’t just the pandemic chat that ruined this for me though, the MC, Simon, was also as dull as dirt, IMO. He was giving me nothing. But in fairness, neither was anyone else.

I wasn’t drawn in, compelled, or intrigued. Big meh energy.

I’m happy to move on. I’m not giving on this author. I will give them another shot. I’m just hoping this is a one-off.

Thank you to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Even though this wasn’t my cup of tea, I definitely appreciate it.

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Review: Mister Lullaby by J.H. Markert

Mister LullabyMister Lullaby by J.H. Markert
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Mister Lullaby is the 2nd-novel that I have read from Horror author, J.H. Markert and honestly, after my experience with this, I’m starting to second guess my feelings on The Nightmare Man, which I thought I had fun with.

This story just did not work for me at all.

In this one, which is almost completely lost from my mind, we’re in the small town of Harrod’s Reach. Most of the action centers around an old railway tunnel and the fantastical, horrifying properties it may hold.

We follow a whole host of people as they deal with the repercussions of the nature of the tunnel. There’s quite a few individuals in comas, there’s a lot of characters in general and every once in a while there was a bit of a coherent storyline that I was actually intrigued by.

I know this is coming off as all sorts of salty, and I apologize for that, but these are the general feelings I walked away with; confusion and disappointment.

In fact, I was confused by this right from the start. I found it muddled and hard to track, and definitely not an easy narrative to settle into. I’m not trying to work too hard here. I read for fun and escape. I don’t want to be taking notes in order to follow a cast of characters.

Don’t get me wrong, there were glimmers of interest, things I wanted to learn more about, but those portions never lasted long enough to really hook me.

There were a lot of moving parts, and many of those parts were things I had seen before. It felt like a Hodge-podge of Joe Hill and Stephen King ideas rolled into a ball and thrown in a casserole dish, trying to make something delicious, but it burned in the oven.

And that’s how I walk away. Burned.

With all of my venting out of the way, I am sure this review helps you not at all, because I am also going to say, if you are interested in this book, PICK IT UP!!! At the end of the day, I know nothing. This is simply my opinion based upon my own personal reading experience.

Everyone’s taste is different and everyone enjoys different things. I have read quite a few reviews and I know a lot of Readers are enjoying this. You could be one. I would never tell someone not to read a book and I’m not going to here.

There’s a book for every Reader and a Reader for every book. The fact that I didn’t enjoy this means absolutely nothing.

Regardless of my experience, I want to thank the publisher, Crooked Lane Books and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I am 1 – 1 with this author now and do plan to pick up whatever he releases next. I am hoping this particular story is just a one-off for me and that I will love the next one!

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Review: The Night House by Jo Nesbรธ

The Night HouseThe Night House by Jo Nesbรธ
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Blinded by another stunning cover…

Sadly, The Night House was a complete flop for me. I get it. The format, and certain aspects, were creative and I give props for that, but in order to get there, it had to utilize certain plot devices that are a huge turn off for me.

It hurts me to rate this low, but I rate based on my reading experience and this was not a good one.

In this story we meet 14-year old, Richard Elauved, who moves in with his Aunt and Uncle after his parents pass away in a tragic house fire.

As if the loss of his parents wasn’t bad enough, the move puts Richard in a new school, and at 14, it’s not comfortable to be the new kid. Ballantyne is a small town as well, and since Richard is from a city, its a big change for him.

Although he is an outsider, Richard does make a couple of friends. Unfortunately, one of these friends, Tom, goes missing after he and Richard are hanging out one afternoon. Richard claims Tom got sucked through an old phone receiver, but of course, no one believes him.

Except for Karen. One of the few other friends he has made. Karen is an outcast as well and instead of laughing at Richard’s story, she encourages him to pursue it, and to hunt down the clues the police refuse to investigate.

After another classmate disappears after spending time alone with Richard, it’s more important than ever for Richard to prove he’s innocent. Richard would never hurt anyone, would he?

This story could essentially be broken down into three parts. For me, the first most closely resembled what I thought I had signed up for and although I thought Richard was a jerk, some of the plot developments were interesting.

By Act II, I was sort of ticked that it took a particular sharp turn, then by Act III, I was over it completely.

Needless to say, I can appreciate the thought that Nesbรธ put into the construction of this story, and I do feel like it is a bit of a clever take on some classic themes.

It does feel like Nesbรธ’s read some R.L. Stine. If he hasn’t, I would be surprised, because this does mirror some of the early Goosebumps tone quite a bit in the first section. From there it gets progressively more Adult, but I digress.

In spite of the fact that this wasn’t a hit for me, I know a lot of Readers will have fun with it. If the plot devices suit your tastes, you could end up loving it. I encourage everyone who thinks it sounds interesting to give it a go.

Thank you to the publisher, Knopf, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Regardless of the outcome, I’m glad I gave it a shot!

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Review: Where Darkness Blooms by Andrea Hannah

Where Darkness BloomsWhere Darkness Blooms by Andrea Hannah
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Where Darkness Blooms was an early-2023 release that I had been anticipating for months. The synopsis was intriguing and this cover called to me. I mean look at her…

Then I started seeing some reviews that made me pump the brakes a bit. They weren’t bad necessarily, just some of the things mentioned made me question whether or not this would be to my tastes.

I knew I’d pick it up eventually, it just didn’t end up making my priority list. Recently, the audiobook became available through my local library and I decided now was the time.

It’s finally September and if this cover doesn’t scream Autumnal, I don’t know what does.

Sadly, I just felt sort of meh about this one. I’ve waited almost two weeks before writing my review, because I didn’t want to come off as being too hard on it. I have a tendency to burn hot, even when I consider a book to be middle of the road, or even good.

Sorry for that, personality flaw, and the thing is, I know this is a solid story that a lot of Readers will love and connect with. The writing style, and overall story format though did not suit my tastes at all.

So, what’s it all about?

This story is set in a small-Midwestern ((I believe)) town called Bishop, which is known for it’s chronic windstorms, endless sunflower fields and disappearing women.

We follow four teen girls, who all live together, sans-adults. Whitney and Jude are twins and then there is Bo and Delilah. The girls are connected, besides by the regular bonds of friendship, by the fact that all of their moms disappeared on the same night, never to be seen again.

In the present timeline, while disappearances are still occurring, a much delayed memorial is planned for the moms and it causes the old tragedy to be dragged again to the surface, revealing new secrets in its wake.

The girls work together to dig into the town secrets, trying to get to the truth, all while navigating the basic trials and tribulations of teenage years.

We have a few things here that I do tend to enjoy, eerie small town vibes and long-buried secrets. Those elements did work for me somewhat. However, the way it was all presented sort of took the shine out of those two things.

Most critically, the way this one kicked off. By 25%, my overall feeling was confusion. I found the four girls difficult to distinguish from one another and didn’t enjoy just being dropped off in their chaotic lives without context.

Unfortunately, I never really ended up finding my footing, and frankly, just gave up after a bit. I could appreciate the concepts, but had to work really hard not to DNF it.

One book that I couldn’t help thinking about while reading this was, Burn Our Bodies Down, by Rory Power. I feel like there are quite a few similarities between the two books, and without being too harsh, I feel like Power did it better.

In spite of the fact that this didn’t really work for me, if you think the synopsis sounds intriguing, or are as enamored by the cover as I was, you should absolutely check it out. You could end up loving it.

There’s a Reader for every book and a book for every Reader. This one not being to my personal taste means absolutely nothing at the end of the day.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: The Sight by Melanie Golding

The SightThe Sight by Melanie Golding
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

๐ŸŽช๐ŸŽ ๐ŸŽช๐ŸŽ ๐ŸŽช๐ŸŽ ๐ŸŽช๐ŸŽ ๐ŸŽช๐ŸŽ ๐ŸŽช๐ŸŽ ๐ŸŽช๐ŸŽ ๐ŸŽช๐ŸŽ ๐ŸŽช

The Sight is the latest release from Melanie Golding, author of Little Darlings and The Hidden. I enjoyed both of those books so much. I loved the dark atmosphere and eerie sense of dread that permeated both.

Because of that, I was really excited to pick this one up. After completing The Sight, I would still consider myself a fan of Golding’s writing, but unfortunately, this story just didn’t do much for me.

I only have myself to blame. I really didn’t do much investigation into this one prior to reading it. I sort of just anticipated a similar feeling story to the earlier works mentioned above, and it was comped to Stranger Things.

Sadly, this didn’t feel like those previous works at all, nor did it feel like Stranger Things. I felt no dread, no urgency, no suspense and no mystery. It felt very general Literary Fiction, which is admittedly, not my cup of tea.

I was happy to have a copy of the audiobook, which I did feel was well narrated. Otherwise, it probably would have taken me weeks to get through this.

I can see that there is a solid story here and I think for people who enjoy the feel of a slow-burn Literary Fiction novel, this could be a good fit. Particularly, if you enjoy stories set in a carnival environment.

I’m not sure if I have much else to say. I’m sort of at a loss. The story does nothing wrong, it just wasn’t what I was looking for, nor what I would generally tend to pick up. My most dominant feeling while reading it was boredom.

In spite of this, I would recommend that everyone who thinks this sounds intriguing, give it a shot. Reading is highly subjective, as we all know, and your experience may be completely different than mine. In fact, you could end up with a new favorite.

I would caution against putting to much stake in the comp to Stranger Things in the synopsis though. I don’t see that comparison at all and I think if you go into this wanting that, like I did, you could be disappointed.

Thank you to the publishers, Crooked Lane Books and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with copies to read and review. Regardless of my experience with this one particular story, I look forward to picking up Golding’s next release!

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