Review: Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun (Finlay Donovan #3) by Elle Cosimano

Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun (Finlay Donovan, #3)Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun by Elle Cosimano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another thrilling, fun-filled, action packed, over-the-top adventure with my favorite gal pals, Finlay and Vero!!

In this 3rd-installment of the beloved Finlay Donovan Mystery series, Finlay and Vero pack their bags and head to a recently developed Citizen’s Police Academy.

Nick, Finlay’s potential love interest, is the cop in charge of the program and many of his departmental friends are there acting as instructors. Finlay is under the guise of researching her next book, but we all know how true that is.

She’s actually there to try to find the mysterious character, Easy Clean. But like, yeah, she does actually need to finish that book. Will her protagonist get together with the cop?

As you can imagine, Finlay and Vero’s time living in dorms, attending classes where they get put through police training along with Finlay’s elderly neighbor, some over-enthusiastic podcasters and others, will not be without its hijinks.

There’s so much going on in this one. Finlay’s ex-husband is circling around, trying to make amends, which Finlay wants no part of. Vero’s past gets brought up in a big way and mob boss, Feliks isn’t quite done with the ladies yet.

The Finlay Donovan series is one of my favorite Cozy Mystery series ever. The main reasons for that are the characters and the humor.

Finlay has such a dry sense of humor. I absolutely love the way she describes everything going on around her and her feelings about it. I’m seriously in stitches half the time.

I have listened to the entire series on audio and definitely recommend that medium. At this point, the narrator, Angela Dawe, is Finlay Donovan to me. Her voice-work in that role is top notch!

The relationship between Finlay and Vero is perfect as well. They’re so in deep together at this point. I love how even though, they are pretty different when you think about it, they are fully committed to one another and their friendship benefits them both equally.

The ending of this leads me to believe there will absolutely be a fourth installment. I’m not sure how many books are slated to be in this series, but I will be reading them all. Each and every one. Happily and with excitement.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I have been so excited for this release and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun is available now!!!

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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: How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

How to Sell a Haunted HouseHow to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t recall when Grady Hendrix and I had a conversation about everything I would love to see in a Horror novel, but the man must have been taking notes!!!

This story follows Louise Joyner and her brother, Mark. Louise lives in California, while her brother, Mark, still lives in their hometown of Charleston, South Carolina.

The two siblings are not close. They basically only see each other, or talk really, when they are doing things with the rest of the family, like with their Mom, Dad, cousins, Aunts, etc. Otherwise, it’s a bit like cats and dogs.

So, when Louise receives a random call from Mark, she knows the news can’t be good and it’s not. It’s like the rug has been ripped out from under her.

Their parents were killed in an accident. Louise needs to come home right away. It’s devastating. She leaves Poppy with her ex, packs her things and boards a plane.

There’s so much to do, the funeral, the estate, but she doesn’t want to be dealing with any of it. She just wants to be alone, but unfortunately, when people die they leave things behind that have to be dealt with.

Her parents left a lot behind. Of course they did, they weren’t expecting to go anytime soon. They built an entire life in Charleston. They lived in the same house that Louise and Mark’s Mom grew-up in; decades and decades of stuff, memories, accumulating.

How can they get rid of all of that? Stressful! Adding fuel to the fire, there are unexpected turns, mainly involving the wills, that leave Louise and Mark even more at odds.

This sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? It is. It is for regular people with regular items that need to be dealt with, but what is kept within the walls of Louise and Mark’s childhood home isn’t exactly what you would call regular.

Their Mom was a puppeteer. She hand-made all of her own puppets; hundreds and hundreds of puppets. But even puppets need more friends, so there are dolls and odd taxidermy craft projects as well. Every room seems to have dozens of little eyes watching your every move.

From the moment Louise sets foot in the house, she feels like something is off. It’s giving her the creeps, she can hardly stand to be in there anymore. Memories overwhelm her. Disturbing incidents from her childhood. Was it just her imagination? Is it now?

Regardless of the vibe of the house, her and Mark want to prep it for sale. Both of them need the money. They need this done quick. They’ll have to work together.

I won’t say anything more about the plot of this novel, as I definitely recommend going into it knowing as little as possible. I didn’t really know what it involved when I started and I’m so glad.

I knew Haunted House, siblings and the fact that their parents had passed away. From that I expected to really enjoy this as I love Horror that explores grief, complicated family dynamics and of course, haunted houses.

This story does have all of that, but also much more. The surface level story is so engaging, yet this one runs deep. If you want to unpack it all, there’s a lot to explore.

Louise and Mark. Their relationship is so complicated. At first, I hated Mark. Not going to lie. I thought he was the biggest jerk to his sister and for no reason. He seemed spoiled to me and jealous of her.

As the story builds, you do get back story of their childhood and a lot of interesting things had happened to them; between them. I felt like after reading that stuff, Mark’s personality started to make a lot more sense.

I loved watching the evolution of their relationship as well. As they began to open up with one another and tried to understand the other’s perspective. I thought that was such a nicely done progression. I felt bad that it took the death of their parents for them to have those needed conversations.

It was dramatic. I also started to feel a certain way towards their parents and it wasn’t very charitable. I felt like they had sort of plagued their own children to grow up with certain issues because of the choices they had made.

This won’t make sense until you read the novel, but just trust, if you become as invested in this as I did, your emotions will run the full range before you are done. With emotional range in mind, I loved the clever section titles. Well played by Hendrix.

I can acknowledge that this book won’t be for everyone. I know that. It plays on certain tropes not everyone is going to love, but for me, this was a top-tier Horror story.

It was incredibly well-told with compelling characters, deep family issues and themes explored, as well as toe-curling imagery. This played off all of my childhood fears and let’s be frank, things I am still afraid of today, even as an adult.

I had moments where I had to walk away from it. It was scary to me. Seriously, there were nights when I had to put it down and read a palate cleansing book before I could even attempt to go to sleep. That’s a sign of a great story!

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

This was absolutely one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint. In fact, I’ve found a new one to add to my ‘Favorites’ shelf!!

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Review: Begin Again by Emma Lord

Begin AgainBegin Again by Emma Lord
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Emma Lord and I have a special relationship. It’s like she sees me, she gets me, she channels what interests me into her stories. Every time I pick up one of her books, my heart is filled to the brim with love.

Okay, I’m not delusional. I know we don’t actually have a special relationship, but I definitely connect with her stories in a remarkable way; one that stands out to me amongst the many books I read.

For her latest release, Begin Again, I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the synopsis. I don’t really care what it is about, if her name is on the cover, I’m picking it up.

I went into this blind and was absolutely delighted with how this story began to unfold. Something completely wild happens in our protagonist’s life right off the bat. I was shocked and laughed, is this what this book is about?

This story follows Andie, who is navigating her first year post-high school. After spending her first semester at a local community college, remaining at home with her grandmothers, Andie has recently transferred to the college of her dreams.

Blue Ridge State is 2-hours from Andie’s home and once she is there, she quickly realizes that she is on her own for the very first time. Honestly, the wide-open freedom is jarring and a bit overwhelming.

Andie is a girl who always has a plan and right from the start her plans for her time at Blue Ridge don’t go as she anticipated. Her long-term boyfriend, Connor, who attended Blue Ridge first semester actually transferred to Andie’s old community college to surprise her.

She transferred to Blue Ridge with the hopes of surprising him. Huge whoopsie!

That enormous flub really sets the stage for Andie’s first term. She’s sort of thrown for a loop, but she isn’t someone who gives in easily. She slowly starts to build her own life; establish her independence.

Andie finds a group of friends, passions to pursue and a boy who is super kind and shares her interests. Blue Ridge is beginning to feel like home.

Life isn’t always smooth sailing though, as we all know and before too long the stress-monster is rearing his ugly head.

Connor is trying to maintain his presence in Andie’s life and she has mixed feelings about the status of their relationship. Then some startling secrets are revealed and of course, there’s some family drama happening that Andie can no longer ignore.

It’s a lot for her to try to navigate successfully. She’s sort of torn between the person she was and the person she has the potential to become. I became super invested in Andie’s life and all the issues swirling around her.

This story is set in that pivotal time of life when you are transitioning from high school, living with your family, to adulthood, living on your own. It’s that sweet spot where the building blocks of your future really begin to solidify.

Andie had some trauma in her family. She lost her mother when she was younger and her father skipped out a bit after that. It was a very impactful experience in her life.

As you would expect, Andie brings that into college with her. Her relationship with her father is still strained, even though he is making an effort, she’s not entirely sure she’s ready to forgive him just yet.

I love how Lord’s stories always include the complexity of family life. Families are just that, they’re complicated. Even the ones that appear perfect, there’s always something there; some issue or issues that can be explored.

Andie being on her own for the first time was also so compelling. She was on quite a journey of self-discovery, even if she was the last one to realize it.

Emma Lord brings so much love to her stories. You can tell she writes with care. She cares about her characters and how the issues are presented. While the stories overall have a feel-good tone, there are always deeper meanings and connections to be made.

I connected particularly well with this story. I’m not entirely sure what it was, but I developed such empathy for Andie. Additionally, the friend group, the found family feel, really touched me and the ending was completely satisfying.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

While I figured I would love this story, I had no idea how much I would LOVE this story. I cannot wait to see what Emma Lord gifts us with next!!

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Review: The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes

The House in the PinesThe House in the Pines by Ana Reyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

A fun debut novel! I liked this one a lot. The House in the Pines contains solid storytelling and an intriguing premise.

This story follows Maya. When Maya was a Senior in high school, her best friend Aubrey, died suddenly, mysteriously and with no identifiable cause, directly in front of Maya’s eyes. The only other person around, a young man named Frank, fled the scene.

Seven years later, Maya lives with a loving boyfriend, has a job she enjoys, although isn’t challenged by and is working through kicking a prescription drug habit.

Maya has struggled with the circumstances of Aubrey’s death ever since. Due to this, she has understandably had trouble with sleeping and the pills sort of took the edge off, helped her to suppress the overwhelming anxiety.

At this point, the prescriptions have run out. She needs to stop. It’s going about as well as would be expected, which is to say, not well at all. Then Maya makes a disturbing discovery.

Maya comes across a YouTube video showing a young woman, sitting in a diner booth, suddenly keel over and die. Sitting directly across from this woman is none other than Frank, the same man who happened to be sitting right next to Aubrey at the time of her death.

Maya is rattled. It seems like proof to her. She always knew Frank did something to Aubrey and now this other girl, this sort of proves it, doesn’t it?

After a disastrous dinner at her boyfriend’s parent’s house, Maya knows she can’t live with not knowing the truth any longer. She packs her bags and jumps a bus for her hometown of Pittsfield.

Her Mom still lives there in the house that Maya grew up in and welcomes her home with open arms. It’s hard for Maya to be back there after everything that happened, but she knows she needs this resolution in order to move forward.

Additionally, her mother, who has years of experience as an EMT, may be just the person to help Maya through the painful withdrawal process.

Maya finally feels able to face her past. She throws herself into an investigation, not only of what happened to her and Aubrey all those years ago, but also to the young woman at the diner.

I was really intrigued by this story. It pulled me in from the start. I enjoyed how Reyes structured the telling of the story. There are both past-and-present timelines, as you slowly piece together what happened between Maya, Frank and Aubrey that summer and how that has impacted Maya’s life ever since.

When she meets Frank at the local library, inexperienced Maya is taken in by the older boy right away. It’s not necessarily his looks, but more a certain magnetism he has that is hard to resist.

Frank knows just what to say and it seems they have similar interests. Before too long though, Maya begins to notice certain things about their time together that make her greatly uncomfortable. In fact, she becomes so ill at ease around him, she actually begins to fear him.

Additionally, Frank’s presence is putting a strain on her other relationships. Always thick as thieves, Maya and Aubrey are spending less time together than ever.

Once Maya finally admits to Aubrey the truth behind her relationship with Frank, Aubrey surprises her. She’s afraid of him too. Just as the two girls begin to make connections, on that very day, Aubrey ends up dead.

I could really sympathize with Maya. The events of that summer were truly traumatic and it definitely had lasting repercussions on her life. Finding and watching that video brought it all back for her.

It’s like she was forced to relive it. I appreciated that her character was willing to return home and face all her fears and it did get creepy.

I really enjoyed the pace of this as well. I couldn’t put it down once I started. While I found some reveals fairly predictable, if you’ve recently read (view spoiler), you may see it too, I still enjoyed the story a lot.

Overall, I am so glad that I picked this one up. It was quick and fun, yet thoughtful and slightly spooky. I am really impressed with this as a debut.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dutton, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I can’t wait to pick up more from Ana Reyes in the future!

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Review: Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Hell Bent (Alex Stern, #2)Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hell Bent is the second release in the Alex Stern series by Leigh Bardugo. I’m told this is a trilogy, but at this point I would certainly accept a lot more.

As this is the second book in the series, I may mention certain things in this review that some may consider spoilers for the first book. I will try not to, but if you are concerned at all, turn back now.

In this book, we find Alex and Dawes desperately trying to find Darlington and bring him back from…well, hell.

It’s so dangerous and many would have chalked it up as a loss, but Alex and Dawes refuse to give up. After a failed attempt, it’s clear the girls cannot achieve their goal alone. Dawes thinks she knows the reason and the type of team they will need to assemble to help them.

They need to find two other people with a very specific qualification. It won’t be easy, but there’s more going on in New Haven than Darlington being missing. It’s imperative they work quickly.

As faculty members begin to mysteriously die off, it’s clear Alex and Dawes will need all the help they can get.

In this installment, both Alex and Darlington’s backstories continue to be built-out, but we also get more info on the side characters. Most importantly, the things that these characters have been through in their lives that make them strong additions to this team. They’ve all had their traumas.

I loved the team ultimately assembled, every one of them. It was giving me light Buffy-vibes in a couple of different ways and I was verrrrrry here for it.

Alex’s past comes back to haunt her when she least expects it, providing us with a very convincing new villain. I was really intrigued with the new occult/supernatural elements explored in this one, the new villain being one of those.

I think my favorite thing about this was watching Alex let down her guard a bit with her peers, or dare I say, friends. She has always been closed off, so watching her accept help from others was really very satisfying.

The closing scenes left me so excited for the next book. There is absolutely zero information on it right now, that I know of. It literally could be years, but you better believe I will be rereading these first two books again prior to it’s release.

Upon completion, I was left with my head spinning, racing and ecstatic. There was so much that happened over the course of this story, I can still hardly wrap my brain around it all. I seriously can’t wait to move forward with this series!

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Review: Tell Me I’m Worthless by Alison Rumfitt

Tell Me I'm WorthlessTell Me I’m Worthless by Alison Rumfitt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tell Me I’m Worthless, originally publisher by Cipher Press in 2021, was rereleased on January 17, 2023 by Tor Nightfire and Macmillan Audio.

This story mainly follows Alice and Ila, close friends and part-time lovers, who have been estranged after a hallucinatory night spent in a haunted house. Their friend Hannah was there that night too, but she never made it out.

The Reader gets both Alice and Ila’s perspectives, as well as a third perspective that I will let you discover for yourself.

I went into this story expecting it to be a new take on a haunted house story and it is, but I wouldn’t classify it as a haunted house story per se. Rumfitt does creatively use that beloved Horror trope to bring something completely new to the table within these pages.

As a piece of Transgressive Horror, this story definitely gets high marks. For me, although I can appreciate the creativity and gut-punching social commentary, I can’t say this was a highly enjoyable reading experience for me.

Please note, I am not remarking on the skill or creativity of the author when I say that, I just feel like this story wasn’t particularly suited to my reading tastes.

I could have used a bit more of a linear plot and a stronger atmosphere, as that is one of the main things I look for. There was a lot of great character work here and topical commentary, but there were also a lot of fever dream-type, internal monologue rants that sort of lost me.

Additionally, I found some of it a little hard to track. With this being said, I still appreciate all that Rumfitt poured into this story and the stark, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners feel of it all.

I would definitely pick up more of Rumfitt’s work.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Macmillan Audio, for providing me copies to read and review. I would recommend the audiobook as a medium for this.

They did some really unique sound work for a few of the intense horror scenes. It’s definitely worth checking out.

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Review: What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall

What Lies in the WoodsWhat Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When they were 11-years old, best friends, Naomi, Olivia and Cassidy, spent an entire summer playing a game of their own invention, dubbed The Goddess Game, in the woods of their town. It was secret and magical, the rules made up as they went, appeasing a goddess known only to them.

They loved it and truly got immersed in their play. Sadly, their summer came to a shocking close when Naomi was viciously attacked in their playground, the woods.

Somehow, the little girl is able to survive her 17-stab wounds. Naomi is left with many scars though, both on her physical body, as well as in her heart and mind.

Olivia and Cassidy saw the man who did it, identified as Allan Michael Stahl, a suspected serial killer. The testimony of the three girls helped to put him behind bars.

He had killed six women, but it was his attack on Naomi that ultimately lead to his incarceration. The girls are lauded as heroes for their courageous testimony.

22-years later, Naomi receives a phone call that brings that horrible summer back to the forefront of her mind. Stahl has died in prison.

One might think this would provide Naomi with a bit of relief. The man who brutally attacked her, tried to take her life, has come to the end of his. He can never hurt another person. But Naomi feels more guilt and doubt than relief.

It’s clear from her reaction that there’s much more to the story. The girls may not have been 100% truthful about what was going on in the woods that day.

Naomi travels back to her hometown. She needs to see Liv and Cass. Maybe they can work through this together. The reunion brings up a lot of feelings, including tension. Liv wants to reveal the truth, but Naomi’s not even sure she knows the truth.

Naomi’s determined to figure it out. She knows the story they gave the authorities wasn’t the whole story, but what is? Naomi starts digging in and before long it’s clear, someone doesn’t want the truth coming out. Are they willing to kill to keep the secret?

I have really enjoyed some of Kate Alice Marshall’s YA-books, so when I heard that she was coming out with a debut Adult novel, I was super stoked. She has a darker writing style and I was very interested to see what she could do with that in the Adult space.

I was not disappointed! What Lies in the Woods was super intriguing to me from the very start. I loved how the reveals were arranged and the pace was perfection for me.

I had a lot of theories, some turned out to be true, but there were also some fun surprises along the way.

The tone of this story, and even some of the themes, reminded me a lot of two YA-Thrillers that I have really enjoyed, Little Monsters and Broken Things. So, yes, while this is Adult, there is a past perspective that takes place when the girls are younger.

I liked this. I always enjoy an alternating timeline, especially when it helps to piece a story together like this one did. Additionally, I think that makes this one a great transitional book for Readers who may be moving from YA-stories in the Adult-space. This could be a great place to start.

While this wasn’t perfect for me, I did lose track of some of the side characters every now and again, it is still such a strong debut for Marshall in this new space. I hope she continues to write more Adult Mystery/Thriller stories.

She definitely has a knack for the darker side of humanity and that’s what I like to see in this genre. Her main characters are always super compelling as well and I definitely felt that way about Naomi.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Flatiron Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I had so much fun with this.

I will pick up anything Kate Alice Marshall writes, no matter the age range. Middle Grade to Adult, I’m here for it!!

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Review: Locust Lane by Stephen Amidon

Locust LaneLocust Lane by Stephen Amidon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The suburban town of Emerson, Massachusetts, seems like the ideal place to live and raise a family, but we all know that a lot drama goes on in such towns. It may hide below the surface, but trust, it’s there.

In Stephen Amidon’s Locust Lane, the death of a young woman, Eden, opens up a crack through which the more unsavory sides of this town can be viewed.

After her body is discovered, it is clear that Eden was a victim of foul play. The police investigation into her death includes three local teens discovered to have been partying with Eden that night, Jack, Hannah and Christopher.

This narrative follows multiple perspectives of the adults in the town tied to Eden’s death. These include Jack’s Mom, Celia, Hannah’s Step-Mom, Alice and Christopher’s Father, Michel, as well as Patrick, a man who inadvertently ended up near the crime scene on the night in question. We also get the perspective of Eden’s Mom, Danielle.

This might sound like a lot, but it wasn’t difficult to follow. I think Amidon did a really great job of presenting all of these different perspectives in a distinct and important way.

Each one added to the building-out of this story. Sometimes I feel like, when there are this many perspectives, some are not as important, or interesting as the others, but that wasn’t the case here at all. In fact, I can’t imagine this story being told any other way.

I found the connections amongst the adults so interesting. Their relationships, whether mere acquaintance, friendship, or something more, had a very tight-web feel. Emerson is a small, wealthy town, and Eden was an unwealthy outsider. She didn’t grow up there like the rest of the kids. This definitely had an impact.

How could the truth ever come to light with the parents involved to the extent that they were?

The kids felt more like pawns in a game the adults were playing, as the parents scrambled trying to make sure their kids came out of this incident okay. Very little thought was given to the dead girl. Honestly, this felt real as heck.

I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed the narration. It was so well-done, truly bringing the story to life. I definitely recommend it. The story itself is super intriguing, but I felt the quality of the narration really took it to the next level for me.

The tone and feel of this story reminded me of a gorgeous blend of some of my favorite Crime Thrillers and Domestic Dramas. I’m thinking, for example, of books such as Take It Back by Kia Abdullah, A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson and Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda, to name a few.

If you enjoyed any of those novels, you should absolutely have this one on your TBR!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Celadon Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I was hooked by this story, beginning-to-end. This was my first Amidon novel and I’m looking forward to many more!!

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Review: Ragman by J.G. Faherty

RagmanRagman by J.G. Faherty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Ragman is a fun-filled, brutally-descriptive Horror romp through the streets of modern-day New York City, following multiple perspectives, all trying to survive the wrath of an ancient mummy’s curse.

I’ve actually never read a book featuring a mummy before and ended up having a ton of fun with this one. It was a bit like a SyFy channel movie come to the page and frankly, that hit the spot for my current reading mood.

In this story our main characters include Dan, a current NYPD officer, his ex-partner, disgraced NYPD officer, Tom, Dan’s wife, Joanna, a forensic lab tech, and Stacy, Tom’s ex-girlfriend, who works at an Egyptian Museum in the city. We do get a couple of other perspectives, but these four were really the stars of the show.

The gist of this is that in the 1800s, a group of very rich young men traveled to Egypt, raided a temple, killed the priest of the temple and robbed a bunch of ancient artifacts to increase their own wealth and prestige.

A mummy from this theft ends up at a museum of Egyptology in New York City, where present day it is awakened. Said mummy rises from his slumber with a deep yearning for revenge against those who’d wronged him and his temple.

As luck would have it, the descendants of these tomb raiders, now mostly live in NYC, convenient yes, but not surprising. They’re all still incredibly wealthy families and New York City is a known haven for the ultra-rich.

And when very rich men begin to be brutally murdered, literally torn limb-from-limb, it draws attention. When people, including our protagonists, witness the being doing the murdering, they can hardly believe their eyes.

A giant mummy erupting out of thin air with a clear vengeance against particular people. It’s unclear how they’ll ever be able to stop it. Bullets have zero effect.

How will they stop it?

I’ll be honest, I started to feel a little hopeless here. This ancient killing machine seemed unstoppable. How could our protagonists ever survive its wrath?!

As mentioned above, I had a lot of fun with this. It wasn’t perfect, but it definitely kept me entertained and wanting to read more.

The killing scenes were wild, brutal, descriptive and cringe-worthy. That’s basically everything I’m looking for in a supernatural creature feature.

This is the second novel that I have read from Faherty and both had very engaging horror imagery. He has quite the knack for creatively killing people off.

Additionally, in this one, I enjoyed all of the ancient Egyptian lore and concepts included. It gave the narrative a little something extra that was just so interesting. I loved the premise and how it followed through to the end.

Finally, I will mention that I really enjoyed Tom and Dan. I liked the women as well, especially Joanna, but the relationship between Tom and Dan was very well done.

They were partners and best friends at one point, but had a falling out, so a lot of this focused on them rebuilding trust and friendship.

I liked watching that play-out amidst a backdrop of brutal murders. It sounds insane, but it’s true. I really felt for Tom, he got the short-end of the stick quite a bit, so I loved seeing him gain some confidence back over the course of this story.

I’m hoping there is a sequel to this following these main characters. Faherty definitely set-up that possibility and I would absolutely be here for it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Flame Tree Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was a damn good time!

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