Review: The Sight by Melanie Golding

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


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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Review: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and TomorrowTomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m going to keep this short and sweet for there is nothing I can say about this book that hasn’t be said before.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow first came onto my radar because of the stunning cover. It’s because of that cover it ended up on my shelves.

This book was everywhere you turned in 2022. There was a lot of hype and if fact, it won the Goodreads Award for Best Fiction. I avoided it initially. I didn’t want to be disappointed after hearing this was basically the best thing ever.

Additionally, Literary Fiction is not my comfort zone. It’s not my go-to, not even in my top-5, genres. This story spans over 30-years. Also, something that is definitely not my jam.

In spite of all that, this story succeeded in capturing my heart. It captivated me. It made me feel things I had no anticipation of, or desire to, feel.

It actually shocked me how connected I felt to these main characters; how much empathy and true emotion I felt for them throughout the various stages of their lives.

Dark Fiction, and I’m talking DARK, is my comfort place, but every once in a while it’s nice to read outside that lane.

This book is the perfect example of why. It’s the kind of story that reminds you of what it means to feel alive. Full of raw emotion and beautiful character work. This story made an impact on me.

The audiobook is fantastic. I definitely recommend that format. The final day I was reading it, I think I was around the 80% point and I was on my morning commute to work, this is actual footage of me:

Honestly, crying in the car that morning was not how I saw that day starting off. Thanks for the surprise, Gabrielle Zevin. I can’t wait to read more of your work!!

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Review: Reprieve by James Han Mattson

ReprieveReprieve by James Han Mattson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this. I don’t read a lot of stories that feature this sort of Literary Fiction mixed with strong Social Horror.

I felt like this author did a great job constructing this one. I feel like with the people it’s going to hit with, it will really hit. Reprieve has the power to stay on your mind.

I listened to the audiobook and found it immersive. The tone of J.D. Jackson’s narration was, despite the content, soothing and very easy to get swept up in.

This story is set in 1997 and is constructed via a few different style elements. The idea is that there has been a murder at a full-contact, horror-inspired escape room called Quigley House, and we learn about the individuals involved, as well as the aftermath of the crime.

You get a few different character perspectives leading up to their involvement with the fateful night at Quigley House. You also follow along with the group of four contestants making their way through the different levels of the escape room process. Finally, you get court transcripts from the trial following the murder.

An aspect I think some Readers may dislike are the fairly large sections from the different perspectives in the before portions, that are pure character development. They provide context for the various characters ending up at the escape room, but they’re not particularly exciting, or thrilling, if I’m being honest.

With this being said though, I actually really enjoyed the author’s choices in constructing it that way. There were little hints provided throughout these sections that gave you insight into how they were all ultimately going to be connected. I liked watching it all come together.

Additionally, I enjoyed that sort of slow build-up of the eventual relationships and connections. I felt James Han Mattson gave real care to the creation of these characters and it gave it a certain level of authenticity that I appreciated.

The Social Horror was strong, particularly involving race and social status. Those themes branched throughout all of the different sections of the story and I feel like the author did a great job with it, bringing a slightly different perspective than I have read before. Jaidee’s experience as a foreign student coming to the U.S. was eye-opening.

Even though I had a great experience with this one, I do understand why some Readers aren’t connecting with this like they wanted. I think if you go into it expecting a fast-paced and exciting Horror-Thriller set in a escape room, you may be let down by the slow-build and focus on non-escape room content, of which there’s a lot.

I think if you enter this one with the right mindset though, and allow yourself to just settle into the character’s personal journeys, you could end up enjoying this as much as I did. Hopefully, this review will help you decide whether it will be for you or not.

I will definitely be picking up whatever James Han Mattson chooses to write next!

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Review: Babel: An Arcane History by R.F. Kuang

Babel: An Arcane HistoryBabel: An Arcane History by R.F. Kuang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Babel: An Arcane History is the latest release from R.F. Kuang, beloved author of the The Poppy War trilogy. This is the first I have read from this author.

Babel is one of those books that everyone was buzzing about in 2022. It seemed everyone was reading it; your brother, your mother, your cousin, your neighbor, your coworkers, maybe even your enemies.

Y’all know, I can’t resist that type of hype. So, I bought it.

Then it arrived. What a day! I still remember opening that box. Behold the beauty!

Then I lifted it from the box and thought, oh shit. Yeah, she’s thick. So, then I was intimidated and hid it on my shelves for a later date. Last week was that date.

I decided to listen to the audio and am really happy I did. I feel like it helped me get through it more quickly and I enjoyed the narration, imagining the wonderful narrator, Chris Lew Kum Hoi, as our MC, Robin Swift.

The story starts in 1828, when a young boy, orphaned by cholera is taken in by a mysterious benefactor, Professor Lovell, after performing a bit of a test. The Professor, who will be moving the boy from his native Canton to London, makes the boy select a more Western-pleasing name. Thus, the boy christens himself Robin Swift.

We follow Robin on his voyage to his new home, as well as his subsequent educational journey from his benefactor’s home lessons, all the way through to the hallowed halls of Oxford University.

More specifically, Robin is enrolled in the prestigious Royal Institute of Translation, also known as Babel.

For Robin, this all feels like a dream. He is enamored with Babel, truly in awe, but as with many things in life, the more he learns about the institution and its function and goals, the more he becomes disillusioned by it all.

((…think Anakin Skywalker…))

We follow Robin, and his cohort, as they all come to certain realizations and as they decide which course they would like their lives to take.

I was very intrigued with this story from the start. The set-up was fantastic. You can’t help but be drawn to Robin’s character right away. From his first encounter with the Professor, you can just tell this is a boy of pure heart.

Once he starts University, he gets the opportunity to make his first real friends within his first year cohort. I was so happy for him.

The found family element was like something he had been lacking all along, but he didn’t even realize it. Meeting friends like Rami was a really pivotal moment for Robin.

It was interesting to watch the tone shift in this novel. It was a bit bright-eyed optimism, full of possibilities, to darker realizations of the world and its systemic dysfunctions rather quickly. But so is life. That did ring true.

I’m so impressed with this novel as an undertaking. You can tell that Kuang is a true lover of language. That fact pours off the page, that feeling and heart about language and its power. I was fascinated by this aspect.

Even though I was impressed with the content, I do consider this a challenging read. It’s heavy, with blatant racism and exploitation on page, and I did feel that there were sections that dragged a little.

There was a particular trip to Canton, that after that, from the return voyage onward, the pace really picked up for me. The stakes were raised higher than I could have imagined and I enjoyed seeing where the story went from there.

Oddly, even though I was initially intimidated by the size of this novel, I actually think it should have been longer.

Hear me out. I actually feel like I would have liked even more character and world development. Please note, this is a positive thing if I am asking for more.

For me, this may have worked better as a duology. Perhaps with the first book being up through the end of the first year at Babel and the second book picking up with the start of second year.

Is that crazy?

Overall, I would say that, small nit-pick things aside, this is an incredible novel that shows off Kuang’s stunning intellect, grace and superbly smooth writing style in only the best light. I cannot wait to pick up more of her work!!

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Review: The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

The Twyford CodeThe Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Damnnn, that was impressive. A literary treasure hunt the likes of which may never be matched. I am so in awe of this!

When I read Janice Hallett’s release, The Appeal, in January of 2022, I gave the book a rating of 3.5-stars.

I noted that I gave the author top marks for thinking outside the box and getting super creative with her format, but that the story itself was just average for me. It was solid, but it wasn’t great.

In spite of not being necessarily blown away by the plot, I found the use of mixed media to tell the entire story impressive. I knew she was an author that I would want to read more from.

I went into The Twyford Code not knowing much. I knew it had the mixed media use I loved, but what was the plot?

I listened to the audiobook for this and was absolutely swept up into the narrative right away.

The majority of the story is made up of quasi-diary entries that our protagonist, Steven Smith, recorded on an old phone gifted to him by his estranged son. There are also conversations, phone and otherwise, with a varied cast.

We find out that 40-years ago, on an unsponsored trip to the coast with their beloved school teacher, Miss Isles, Steven and five of his classmates were stranded after their teacher disappeared.

Maybe stranded is the wrong word, they made it back to the school very late at night, but none of them can really recall how they got there. Miss Isles never returned to school and none of the children present on the trip ever saw her again.

The incident has haunted Steven ever since. He blames himself. Miss Isles only took them to the coast that day because of the Edith Twyford book Steven had found and brought to class. Miss Isles was convinced there were coded messages within the book to some lost treasure.

It’s all a muddled mess in Steven’s hazy memories, but after being released from a stint in prison, he is determined to discover what the truth is about that day. What happened to Miss Isles?

I started this early Saturday morning while out walking my dog. I became so engrossed that I barely remember getting back to the house.

I then listened to it for hours will cleaning and doing my standard Saturday errands. It’s all a haze. When I tell you I fell down a rabbit hole with this one, I’m not joking. Yikes, this was enthralling.

By the time Sunday morning rolled around, I had 48-minutes of the audio left. I sat on my couch and just listened.

To even think about the complexity of this story makes my head spin. It is so impressive to consider how one would even tackle a project such as this. How in the actual heck did Hallett pull this off?

I don’t want to say anything else about the plot, or even my thoughts, because I think this one is best experienced if you just sit back, relax, trust Hallett and let it all wash over you like the literary masterpiece that it is.

I do have a couple of unresolved questions, but I am sure that is more to do with my own tiny brain trying to wrap itself around all the details, than an issue with the story. Nevertheless, those small items did make the experience a tiny smidge short of perfect for me.

With this being said, I have never read anything like this and I am really looking forward to seeing what Janice Hallett delivers us next!

Thank you to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was an absolute blast to read and will stick with me for a long time to come.

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Review: The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in CluesThe Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues by Nova Jacobs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up The Last Equation of Isaac Severy as book #4 for my TBR-Haul Project. I hauled this book in May 2018 as a Book of the Month selection. I was super excited for it initially, but then it fell off my radar.

Described as a Literary Mystery, it just sounded like something I would enjoy. Unfortunately, the reviews weren’t drawing me to it, even though I frequently find myself in the minority opinion on ratings.

This story takes place after the apparent suicide of mathematician, and eccentric family patriarch, Isaac Severy. After his death, Isaac’s granddaughter, Hazel, receives a strange letter from him in the mail.

The letter claims that a secret organization is after his final, reportedly dangerous, equation and he charges Hazel with delivering it to a colleague of his for safe keeping. But first, she needs to find it.

In L.A. for Isaac’s funeral, it becomes clear that Hazel isn’t the only one with her sights set on Isaac’s missing equation.

The entire Severy family is in attendance actually and oh boy, are they interesting. A family full of barely functioning geniuses left spiraling by Isaac’s sudden death. What could go wrong?

In the midst of all the family drama, Hazel must follow the clues left for her in her favorite novel by Isaac in order to find the equation before it’s too late. Will she be able to pull it off alone?

Y’all, I really enjoyed this; what a pleasant surprise! I’m glad I ignored the overall rating and made time for it. It’s honestly like a Wes Anderson film come to the page.

I devoured this once I started. The quirky characters, Hazel’s bizarre mission, it was all so much fun. I did end up listening to the audiobook and I felt it was really well done.

The writing actually reminded me a lot of some of Kate Racculia’s work, particularly Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts, which is definitely a bonus. It’s very smart, witty and darkly engaging. It’s different from pretty much everything else.

I definitely recommend this one for a change of pace. Ignore the ratings, dive in and enjoy the ride!

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Review: All’s Well by Mona Awad

All's Well: A NovelAll’s Well: A Novel by Mona Awad
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Miranda Fitch is a theater professor at a small New England college. Due to chronic pain stemming from the accident that ended her once promising acting career, Miranda isn’t currently functioning at the top of her game.

Doctors and Physical Therapists have been unable to make any progress with her. It all feels like a sick joke; nothing she tries has helped. Therefore, she takes way more painkillers than she probably should.

As we meet Miranda, she is just about at her rock bottom. The Reader gets a glimpse inside her mind, as she tries to direct her students in this year’s production.

Although Miranda is hellbent on All’s Well That Ends Well, her students want to do the Scottish play. Ha! Can you even imagine? Miranda will not let that happen.

The students are relentless. Worse, they’re mutinous and her colleagues, in the faltering Theater Department, are no better. Just when she begins to believe all is lost, Miranda meets three mysterious strangers at her local watering hole who are able to turn the tides of fate. But at what cost?

I really, really enjoyed the first half of this novel. There’s no denying how fantastic the writing is. It’s cutting, funny, socially relevant, dark and quirky.

However, somewhere around 70%, it took a bad turn, from which it never recovered.

There are a lot of elements included that generally work for me. It’s weird, it’s biting, it has a touch of the fantastical, but unfortunately, it just got too confusing. You can have solid weird, without confusing. I just feel like in this case, it missed that mark.

I’m sure there will be a lot of Readers that will get it; I’m just not one of them. During the first half of the story, even when things got a little strange, you could still tell the events that were happening in Miranda’s reality; you could tell she was having interactions with her students, with her colleagues, what were memories, musings, thoughts and wishes.

When it got closer to the end, it changed. I couldn’t tell what was real. I couldn’t tell where Miranda was in time, space, what was happening to her? And it never revealed itself, at least not in my opinion. So, I got to the end and felt like I didn’t have a conclusion.

Theoretically, I understand the ideas behind what was happening, but I just wanted more closure. I was really disappointed with the last 25%. In it way, it made me feel like I had wasted my time. Never a good feeling.

I’m mainly bummed because I expected to enjoy this a lot more than I did. It happens. All’s well, I suppose.

I bumped myrating up from 3-stars to 3.5, based solely on the author’s creativity and quality of writing. The story for me was a solid 3-stars. It was a good story, but not necessarily my cup of tea.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to share my opinions.

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Review: Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Leave the World BehindLeave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Leave the World Behind is essentially Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World written for people with a subscription to the New Yorker.

While I was reading this, I felt like I had read it before and frankly, for me, I enjoyed how Tremblay did it more.

Amanda and Clay, a married couple with two teenaged children, have a lovely family vacation planned in a remote area of Long Island.

Their goal is the same as many people going on vacation, to let loose and unplug from the stressors of life in the city. If they happen to reconnect as a family, all the better.

Arriving at the rental house, they’re quite pleased; it’s perfect. Everything they were hoping for. The kids can’t wait to get into the pool.

Over the course of the first evening, Amanda and Clay really begin to settle into vacation mode. All is going swimmingly, until quite late when there’s an unexpected knocking at the door.

Surprised at the interruption, they’re even more surprised when they open the door and find an older black couple standing on the porch.

They say their names are G.H. and Ruth and this is their house.

They’re quite apologetic, but explain that something is happening in the city. They aren’t exactly sure what, but something big. There’s a blackout.

They had been out at an event and didn’t feel safe returning to their apartment. They plead with Amanda and Clay to let them stay, which after a quick debate, the couple agrees to do.

The two couples stay up, having a few drinks, and speculating on the bizarre turn of events. In their minds, Amanda and Clay are questioning whether or not to believe these people at all. They have no cell service, no wifi, there’s no way to check their story.

The morning finds no new information, as the tension and uncertainty continues to build.

This is absolutely a tense and captivating story. You get a glimpse into all of the character’s inner thoughts and at times, it’s confusing AF.

Their reactions and musings, it’s all so potent. I needed to know what was happening!

I think if I hadn’t already read The Cabin at the End of the World, I would have enjoyed this more and given it a higher rating.

However, as mentioned earlier, there were just so many similarities between this book and that one, and I personally, enjoyed the Horror writing style of Tremblay’s version more. It was a better fit for my tastes.

With this being said, I appreciate what this story accomplished. The level of tension and sense of dread this author’s words were able to illicit; it’s powerful.

While I know this may leave some Readers underwhelmed, it’s smart, eerie and subtly terrifying. I would definitely be interested in picking up more from Rumaan Alam.

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Review: The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarhenas

The Psychology of Time TravelThe Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I won’t drag this out. This book just did not work for me.

I was kindly sent a copy by the publisher to read and review, which I truly appreciate. I accepted the title because it sounded like something that would be right up my alley.

I went in, rightly or wrongly, with the following beliefs: the story was Science Fiction, that it followed a group of female scientists who discovered how to successfully travel through time, that a murder happens and they use said time travel abilities to solve it.

What I got was sort of that.

I would say this is a Literary Fiction novel with a few characters who happen to be scientists and where time travel is used as plot device to tie different parts of the story together.

Okay, fine. That’s great, so it wasn’t what I initially expected. I can usually get over that fairly quickly.

The execution of the story, however, for me, was not good.

I generally enjoy multiple perspectives, and even multiple timelines, but here, it jumped around so much, to so many different characters, none of whom felt distinctive in any way, I couldn’t remember who I was reading from or where I was in time.

The chapters were really short, so you were never in a particular perspective long enough for it to have a lasting impact.

On a lot of occasions, I find that short chapters help to increase the pace of the story and the rate in which you read it. Not so here. This was incredibly slow. It just never really went anywhere.

Then I get to the last page, the last paragraph and am left scratching my head. That’s it?

So, yeah, not for me, but it may be for you. This book has numerous positive reviews, so please do not take my word for it. Pick it up and find out for yourself. Will you or won’t you?

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

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Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires EverywhereLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The relationship between mother and child can be a beautiful thing.

However, it’s not always and it’s not exclusively. Oftentimes it can be messy, complex and immensely stressful for both parties.

In Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng, weaves an intricate tapestry of such relationships.

The resultant story is one of family, loyalty, community and independence. When I went into this book, I thought it was a story, set in the mid-1990s, about the adoption of a Chinese baby by a white family in suburban Ohio and the resulting community reactions/interactions based off that adoption. There is an adoption. The baby is in fact Chinese, but this baby, her birth mother and her adoptive parents are only a very small part of this deeply emotional tale.

Full disclosure, I never cried but I was moved. I was angry at times, sad, emotionally drained. I had my curiosity peaked, I had my temper flare and most importantly, this story made me think about it even when I wasn’t reading it.

I think that is a sign of a strong literary fiction novel doing its job. I had never read a Celeste Ng book before and I was deeply impressed by her subtle way of totally drawing the reader in to the emotions, drama and angst of her characters.

I definitely plan to read more of Ng’s books in the future. Additionally, I did listen to the audiobook for this and thought that the narration was excellent!

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