Review: They’re Watching You by Chelsea Ichaso

They're Watching YouThey’re Watching You by Chelsea Ichaso
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, that didn’t go as I expected…

They’re Watching You was a highly-anticipated release for me. Unfortunately, this story and I did not get along.

In this novel we’re following Maren, a student at the prestigious Torrey-Wells Academy. Two weeks ago, Maren’s best friend, Polly, went missing from school. Prior to her disappearance, Polly said some cryptic things to Maren.

When everyone, including the police and school headmistress, assume that Polly has run away, Maren knows that’s not true. Polly was her roommate, she knew her better than anyone. Polly would never leave her hanging like that.

Thus Maren begins looking into it. To her it’s clear, her friend is in trouble and she’ll do anything she can to help.

When Maren finds an envelope hidden among Polly’s things, containing an invitation to a secret society, she knows this is a lead worth following.

Rumors have swirled at school about this mysterious Gamemaster’s Society for years, and as Maren digs in, she realizes there may be a lot of truth behind the whispers. Luckily, she finds out from classmates just the info she needs to secure her own invitation.

Before she knows it, Maren is elbow-deep in secret society craziness. There is a whole underground world at her school, one very few people get to see.

The games cooked up by the society are one thing, but Maren discovers she is playing a game of her own. For every win, she’s one step closer to finding out the truth about what has happened to Polly.

Y’all, I really wanted to love this and in the beginning, I thought that maybe I would. Sadly, this never got off the ground for me and the ending, easily anticipated, left me underwhelmed.

The set-up was intriguing. I liked the idea behind what Ichaso was building, but the execution did not fit my tastes at all. I found the characters to be flat and frankly, boring, especially Maren.

Maren’s personality was practically nonexistent. Besides her insistence on not giving up on Polly, I couldn’t feel anything from her. All these wild things are happening to her, yet her thoughts and actions are putting me to sleep. I felt zero intensity.

Additionally, the romantic elements felt so forced and out of place in lieu of all that was happening. I sort of get one of the connections, as she is working closely with a certain someone to try to gain the information she needs, but it still felt out of place.

Lastly, the person who appears to be running everything, our villain, was ridiculous. I just could not get behind that person as an evil mastermind. Nope, nope, nope.

It just wasn’t for me. The motivations, the romance, the fatuous games that everyone willing participated in for no truly logical reasons and the fact that our heroine is hypocritical and boring, just never allowed this one to connect for me.

With this being said, this is 100% personal opinion. I know that a lot of Readers will enjoy this and I am so happy for those that do. Everyone has different tastes, that’s one of the best things about reading, how subjective it is.

So if this sounds interesting to you, if the synopsis raises your eyebrows, you should absolutely pick it up and give it a go. I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to picking up more from this author in the future. Perhaps their next release will be more to my liking.

Thank you to the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate having the opportunity to share my opinions.

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Review: These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall

These Fleeting ShadowsThese Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


In These Fleeting Shadows we meet Helen Vaughan. Helen is a girl with a murky past and a slightly haunted present.

She knows that when she was very young, she and her Mom fled their ancestral home, Harrowstone Hall, where their extended family still live, but she has no idea why.

They never discuss it. They don’t talk about the family, about why they left, nothing. It’s just a giant black hole of nothingness looming over Helen’s entire life.

Then the notification arrives that her grandfather has passed away. They’re asked to come to Harrow for the funeral and surprisingly, her Mom agrees. They’re actually going.

Once there, Helen is swept up into Harrow immediately. Meeting her strange family, the eerie house and grounds, its a lot to take in.

When she receives the news of the inheritance, it’s even more overwhelming. The grandfather she barely knew left everything to her? Everything? Really? And what’s this clause about her having to stay in the house for one-year in order to receive everything?

She decides to give it a go.

Life at Harrow is disturbing. The people eccentric, the house itself a haunted labyrinth of confusion. It’s hard to tell if there is anyone Helen can trust. Can she even trust herself?

I don’t really know what to say about this novel. There were many things about it that I enjoyed, but I also found it to be convoluted, with certain events being very difficult to track.

The premise is great. We love an inheritance story, particularly ones set at a gothic mansion. Add in bizarre family members and we’re still on the right track.

A protagonist feeling haunted, unsure if her dreams are just that, or repressed memories? I’ll grab the popcorn. I’m still here for it.

I think where it really started losing me was the nature of the house, which really is the essence of the story. The reason behind the family doing what they were doing. It just lost me. It moved from where I thought it was going to something else entirely.

At the heart of the story, this reminded me of Kiersten White’s release, Hide. There’s a similar vein running through here that ran through that novel. Frankly, I didn’t enjoy it in either place.

In the Author’s Note at the end, Kate Alice Marshall writes a bit about being inspired by Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan to write this story. It sounds like this is in fact a modern-reimagining of that tale.

I wish I would have known that before. I think that could have made this story more impactful for me. Also, I would have loved to have read that original source material prior to picking this one up.

Either way, this ended up being a mixed bag for me. I fell in love with the cover, but eventually fell out of love with the content. The beginning was great, with a very promising set-up.

I loved the atmosphere created once they arrived at Harrow. By the mid-way point though, my interest was waning and by the end, I was looking forward to it being over.

While this story wasn’t necessarily to my liking, I still love Kate Alice Marshall’s writing and the risks she is willing to take with her stories.

These Fleeting Shadows may not have been a hit for me, but I’m confident that so many Readers will absolutely love this. I look forward to seeing what Marshall will serve us next!

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Review: Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

Little MonstersLittle Monsters by Kara Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Kacey has had a strained relationship with her volatile mother for years. When it becomes too much for her to handle, Kacey moves to Broken Falls, Wisconsin, to live with the father she has never met.

Her Dad has a wife, Ashley, a step-son, Andrew, and a younger daughter, Lauren. Kacey is simply thrust into their family. It’s not necessarily comfortable at first, but overall she’s grateful to have a more secure environment. It’s definitely a change for her.

It’s not necessarily easy to be the new girl at school either, although we love a new girl trope.

Luckily for Kacey, Bailey and her best friend, Jade, see Kacey, a ship without a port and take her into their group. Soon enough the trio are like peas in a pod.

They get up to the typical high school girl things like sneaking out, trespassing and trying to summon spirits in abandoned buildings. You know, the usual. There is some minor tension amongst the girls, of course, but that’s normal too.

Sometimes Kacey prefers to spend quiet nights at home, but Bailey and Jade are usually fairly insistent that she join them on nights out.

On the night of the biggest party of the year though, Kacey doesn’t hear from them. They seem to have ghosted her.

Kacey is concerned. Even though she enjoys some quiet time, FOMO is real. The next day, Kacey receives the news that Bailey is missing. She just disappeared, gone in the night. Did she run off, was she taken, is she still alive?

When the police question Kacey, she’s not exactly forthcoming with the truth. Does she have something to hide she’s not letting on to the Reader?

This was such an interesting story. We followed Kacey mostly, but we also got some of Bailey’s perspective. It was a compelling sway of back-and-forth.

Kacey was an interesting main character, who had been through a lot already in her young life. Now as she seemed to be settling into a more secure home environment, other aspects of her life seemed to be getting out of hand.

The more Kacey digs, the more it seems that everyone suspects her of having done something to Bailey. Kacey’s determined to figure this out. She actually wants to find Bailey, but small towns can hold a lot of secrets and loyalties run deep.

Kara Thomas knows how to build suspense. This one had me absolutely glued to the pages. It was unsettling. Stories like this, that feel so very real to life can be so disturbing.

I picked this up as Book #11 for my TBR-Haul Project. I hauled this in November of 2018 and am so happy that I finally made the time for it.

I’d heard a lot about this book from others and everything they said was true. I definitely recommend the audiobook format. It was fantastically narrated. I was so invested in this narrative and characters.

This is such a compelling mystery. Highly recommend!

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Review: Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives by Adam Cesare

Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo LivesClown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives by Adam Cesare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


In my opinion, Clown in a Cornfield 2: Frendo Lives suffered a bit from middle-book syndrome.

Based upon the rumor mill and the way this one left off, I am guessing there is going to be a third book and it’s going to knock this one out of the park.

It’s been a year since the bloodbath in Kettle Springs. Quinn Maybrook finds herself back in Philadelphia, attending college and trying to recover from the horrors she survived.

The public reaction to the Kettle Springs events are mixed. There are factions of online warriors who believe the whole thing was a hoax and some who believe that Quinn and her friends, Cole and Rust, were the actual perpetrators. Frankly, it’s been difficult trying to navigate that atmosphere.

Quinn is a tough egg though, she’s getting by the best she can, just trying to blend in.

Back in Kettle Springs, her father is now the mayor, doing his best to get the damaged town back on track.

The town has become a bit of a tourist attraction for fans of the macabre, general looky-los and unfortunately, a few crazies. All the day in the life of an infamous town.

One weekend when Cole and Rust go to visit Quinn at college, they’re suddenly attacked by a familiar figure. This isn’t their first rodeo, however, and our trio is able to fight off their attackers.

Then Quinn gets the most disturbing call of her life. Something is going down in Kettle Springs and her father seems to be the latest victim. The three must return and seemingly relive the worst night of their life all over again.

Is it a copy-cat? Is it a conspiracy? How were the attacks coordinated? Quinn’s not sure yet, but she definitely intends to find out.

I loved Clown in a Cornfield. I started it on release day, read my hardback copy and enjoyed every moment of my reading experience. It was the exact book I needed to kick off the start of my Spooky Season 2020.

I loved the new girl trope we had happening with Quinn as she first arrived in Kettle Springs. The set-up was fantastic, including details as small as the view from Quinn’s bedroom window. I see you, Frendo.

The social commentary was fantastic as well and the kill scenes were a ton of fun. I marveled at Cesare’s creativity.

While this reading experience was quite different for me, I’m not mad at it.

This time around, I listened to the audiobook, while preparing for and traveling for Thanksgiving. Because of this, I feel like my mind wasn’t 100% committed and had the tendency to wander.

In fact, I listened to the last 40% twice, just trying to determine my opinion on it. One issue was that I found the multiple perspectives difficult to track.

Additionally, I found the build-up to the climax to be a bit muddled. In fact, it was confusion city there for me for a while.

Obviously Quinn’s personality has completely changed as well. At least it felt that way to me. While that’s understandable after all she’s been through, I did find it a little more challenging to connect with her.

While Cole and Rust’s relationship/angle was a bit of a mess for me, I did enjoy the inclusion of a new character in Kettle Springs, Jeri. Meaning new, as in we get her perspective multiple times in this installment.

Jeri lost her sister in the first book and had a very close call with Frendo. I really enjoyed learning more about her and her experience in the aftermath of his sister’s death and the town’s sudden infamy.

Personally, I don’t think the audibook did me any favors either. It’s not like the narration was bad. It really wasn’t. It was great in fact. I just think this could have been a better experience for me if I had read my hard copy.

Regardless, this was still a solid book. The themes involved were well-expressed. Particularly relevant in the aftermath of the Alex Jones / Sandy Hook trial. Cesare did a good job channeling those types of real-life issues into this.

I like that. I always enjoy some social commentary in my Horror. So, while this wasn’t great for me, I’m still enjoying this series and would absolutely pick up a third book!!!

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Review: Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus

Nothing More to TellNothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Karen M. McManus is back and her latest novel, Nothing More to Tell is my favorite yet!

I have been so hyped about this book for over a year and apparently, for good reason. I’m not sure if it was my level of excitement that pushed this one over the top for me, but this was pretty much a perfect YA Mystery for my tastes.

And that Epilogue?! Are you kidding me, McManus!? I want more of this story and these characters so much. Fingers crossed there will be an announcement soon, if there hasn’t been already. It’s possible I missed something. Nevertheless…

This story follows Brynn and Tripp, long-time friends from Sturgis, Massachusetts, who had a falling out and were then separated for four years after Brynn’s family moved to Chicago.

Due to a change in Brynn’s father’s job, they’re back in Sturgis, right back in their old house. Brynn is nervous about going back to Saint Ambrose School. She didn’t leave under the best terms, after her ex-best friend, Tripp, embarrassed her in gym class and then socially shunned her with zero impetus or explanation.

More tragic that all that though is the fact that just prior to their move, Brynn’s favorite teacher Mr. Larkin was murdered and found in the woods adjacent to the school. Three student discovered his body, her ex-friend Tripp being one of them.

Now upon their return, Brynn is determined to get to the truth behind Mr. Larkin’s death. She even pitches the case to a popular True Crime podcast, at which she has secured a dream internship.

Back in school, Brynn’s pretty determined. Let the investigation begin. She knows someone is hiding something about Mr. Larkin and it just may be Tripp.

The Reader also gets Tripp’s perspective and there are some scenes set in the before, surrounding the time that Mr. Larkin was killed.

I absolutely adore how McManus unrolled this story. The shifting perspectives, the mini-reveals along the way as Brynn gathers more and more information, it was perfectly paced in my opinion.

I loved Brynn’s investigation. Amateur sleuths are one of my favorite tropes and I found both Brynn’s motivations and her methods believable.

I also thought there were some great red herrings and the way this wrapped up was smart. As mentioned earlier, I am fairly sure there will be another book to follow this one, but since I have heard nothing official in that regard, I will just say that I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Personally, I would love more content with Brynn and Tripp!! There’s more to explore in this town.

As an aside to long-time McManus fans, you’ll find entertaining Easter Eggs, or references to her previous works cleverly placed throughout. Every time I came across one, it would just bring a ridiculous smile to my face.

Also, it made me want to reread everything she has ever written. Frankly, that shows you just how clever this one really is. Well played, McManus. Again. Well played.

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Review: The Sacrifice by Rin Chupeco

The SacrificeThe Sacrifice by Rin Chupeco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


When a film crew from the United States arrives on Kisapmata, a deserted island in the Philippines, they are ready to get to work. They need their new show to be a success and with the content they’re after, it should be.

For me it was easy to picture this crew and their motivations. I was thinking something around the lines of Discovery shows such as The Curse of Oak Island, or The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. You know the type of show I mean.

The thing with Kisapmata island is that a God is reputed to live within the island. He goes by different names, some consider him a Death God, some call him the Dreamer, but he is said to have the ability to grant unknowable power in exchange for eight, very specific, sacrifices.

Because of this legend, locals avoid the island as much as they can. It’s uninhabited and while they do have knowledge and respect of it, they tend to give the God his space.

The crew does discover one local teen, Alon, said to have a special relationship with the island. They’re a bit of a caretaker, spending a lot of time there and even maybe communing with the God.

Considered an expert of all things Kisapmata, the film crew are delighted when Alon agrees to stay with them and be their guide during the show.

As they settle in and begin to set up, a giant sinkhole appears in the middle of their camp. In it, belying logic, is a giant balete tree with a mummified corpse wrapped amongst it creepy-as-heck branches.

It’s like the corpse has been feeding the tree for years, but who is it and more importantly, how the heck is this tree growing underground?

Thus begins the horror that is this little island. From there stuff escalates real quick. The crew needs to get their story, but is the payoff going to be worth it?

People start seeing things, visions of people long dead and it seems nowhere is safe. As a storm rages offshore, they lose communication and have no means of escape. Is anyone going to get off this island alive?

Y’all, y’all, y’all! First of all, this is the perfect time of year to pick up this book. This story has almost everything you need for a phenomenal reading experience.

We have detailed and fascinating legends. We have, basically a curse. We have a dynamic film crew with well-fleshed out characters. We have a nonbinary main character. We have inclement weather trapping our cast at a remote location. We have atmosphere for days. We have stunning, toe-curling horror imagery. We have scenes that will make you sleep with the lights on.

The tension builds very quickly and then continues to build. It’s claustrophobic, it’s a bit panic inducing, it’s scary.

I will say that the pace increases so much towards the end, that it almost got a bit too chaotic. I found it more difficult to track what was happening towards the end and challenging to picture in my mind all that was happening. Hence, it’s not quite a 5-star for me.

That is 100% personal taste though, for many people, whose minds possibly work more quickly than my own, this will be a 5-star experience.

I have only read one other Rin Chupeco, The Girl from the Well, and I was super-impressed with the eeriness of that story as well. Chupeco definitely has the gift for horror. I would consider this to be a more-modern, YA-South Pacific version of The Ruins.

The Sacrifice is super-chilling and will stick with me for a long time to come. Chupeco truly knows how to set a scene. I had so much fun with this. 10-out-of-10 recommend!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Now I need to go back and devour Chupeco’s backlist!!

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Review: Mina and the Slayers (Mina and the Undead #2) by Amy McCaw

Mina and the Slayers (Mina and the Undead, #2)Mina and the Slayers by Amy McCaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


((…screams in 90s-pop culture…))

Mina and the Slayers is the follow-up to Amy McCaw’s 2021-debut novel, Mina and the Undead.

This super fun YA-series follows 17-year old, Mina, who moves to New Orleans from Whitby, in England ((incidentally, the town that inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula)), to live with her older sister, Libby.

A lot goes down in the first novel, where McCaw does an incredible job setting the stage for what I am hoping is going to be a long running series. The New Orleans atmosphere is completely on point.

Mina and Libby work at a Horror Mansion, with interactive live scenes from some of your favorite horror movies, and that continues on into this second novel.

I had so much fun reading the first book. It was such a nostalgic treat and this one was no different. The first book definitely left off in a great spot for a sequel, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting this release for a year.

I’m happy to report, not only did it not disappoint, but it actually exceeded all my expectations. McCaw’s writing and character development has continued to grow and we absolutely love to see that!

In this installment, we have a few new things going on in Mina’s life that really helped to build out this story.

First, and my favorite new aspect, is that Mina is now job shadowing with the local police department. She’s paired up with an Investigator named Cafferty and when mysterious stabbings begin plaguing the city, she’s along for the ride and the subsequent investigation.

I love investigations of any type of violent crime, so this was such a pleasant surprise. I had no clue this was going to be a new part of Mina’s life.

We also find Mina a bit estranged from her boyfriend, Jared, due to something that happened to him in the first book.

Regardless, the couple is working on their relationship and I enjoyed watching that evolution over the course of the story.

Finally, y’all know this is a vampire book, right? Did I mention that?

Well, with that in mind, let it be known, there is slaying in this book. There are bad ones in the city, killing humans and of course, you need people who know about the existence of vamps to be willing to fight to save human lives.

Someone has to do it. When vampires walk amongst us, things can get dangerous real quick. I mean, just ask the residents of Santa Carla, California…

Yeah, so overall, I had an absolute blast with this. It was intense, with high stakes, great character development, a fun mystery and nostalgic vibes for days.

I’m not sure, but I am getting a feeling that we’ll be getting a third book and I am absolutely here for it.

Thank you so much to the author, Amy McCaw, for providing me with an early copy. This sequel would make John Carpenter, John Hughes and John Stamos proud, so I certainly hope you are proud as well!!


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Review: Don’t Let in the Cold by Keely Parrack

Don't Let in the ColdDon’t Let in the Cold by Keely Parrack
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

On their first night home alone together, new step-sisters, Lottie and Jade run into a whole host of problems.

The first being, they don’t know each other at all, but are suddenly expected to act like sisters. Are they even going to be able to get along?

With their parents rushing off on a quick one night honeymoon, the girls are left to their own devices at Jade’s Dad’s Tahoe cabin.

One would think that it couldn’t be too bad. It’s one night. Even if they lock themselves in separate bedrooms for the night, they should be okay, right?

But many, many, many, many things are not going to work in their favor that night. For example, there are strangers lurking about the remote cabin, including a young man named Alex and his adorable dog.

Then there’s the solar flares that cause a massive blackout, causing the cabin to lose power and all connection to the outside world.

It doesn’t stop there though, ultimately the girls are forced out into the cold, bleak wilderness, in the midst of a horrendous blizzard as they struggle through every obstacle known to man to try to reach help.

Speaking of struggles, I had my own struggles trying to get through this one. I listened to the audiobook, thinking my annual road trip to Maine for Labor Day weekend would be the perfect time to listen to it.

I am a huge fan of Survival Thrillers, or Horror novels, and this sounded like it would be right up my alley. Sadly, that didn’t turn out to be the case.

I quickly found the whole thing ridiculous and not in a good way. Oftentimes ridiculous can be hella fun, but it has to be engaging. This felt monotonous to me and never-ending.

The characters were bland and there was a completely unnecessary romance thrown in. With everything they were going through, was finding love truly needed?

Honestly, this felt like the author sat down and compiled a list of forty-five things that could go wrong if you were staying at a remote cabin in the mountains and then connected all of those things with lightly-entertaining filler content.

I know that’s harsh, but clearly I’m burnt that this is what I spent almost my whole solo car trip listening to. I was relieved when it was over.

Nevertheless, as we all know reading is highly subjective. Just because this one didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.

Please don’t take my word for it. If the synopsis sounds interesting to you, give it a shot, you may end up loving it!

Thank you to the publisher, SOURCEBOOKS Fire and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with copies to read and review. I appreciate it very much.

I am glad that I picked this one up. Even though it wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, I would have always wondered about it otherwise.

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Review: Dead Flip by Sara Farizan

Dead FlipDead Flip by Sara Farizan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


When they were kids, Cori, Maz and Sam were best friends; three peas in a pod. The trio were always together, bopping around, getting into childhood mischief.

As they grew older though, things began to change. One fateful Halloween night cracks appeared, the three had a bit of a spat and Sam took off on his own. That was the night Sam disappeared without a trace.

In 1992, five years have passed since Sam disappeared, but the aftershocks of that tragedy are still felt every day by Maz and Cori. They have never forgotten him.

After Sam vanished, Maz and Cori’s friendship dissolved. Maz and his family moved to a nearby town, so the two didn’t even go to the same school anymore. They went their separate ways; tried to move on.

Now it’s their Senior year and Maz is a track star at his school, with a penchant for partying. That’s all surface level though, what he’s really doing is hiding from his past.

Cori is the queen bee at her high school. A pretty, popular girl, a shoe-in for Homecoming Queen, who secretly pines for another girl, Janet, loves Horror movies more than anything and feels like she needs to hide who she truly is.

Cori is adept at plastering on a smile and pretending all is well, when really she is just passing time until things might be different.

The old friends lives are turned upside down when Sam suddenly reappears. While this would be an exciting and jaw-dropping turn of events, the most shocking thing is, he still appears to be 12-years old, the age he was when he disappeared.

The friends cannot explain it, but they believe it has something to do with a pinball machine they used to play at a local store. A haunted pinball machine?

They need to keep Sam hidden until they get this figured out. Luckily, Cori’s parents are out of town, so that at least provides a safe haven. But as the trio begins to spend time together again, it’s clear not all is well with Sam. He didn’t return quite the same.

As increasingly disturbing events begin to plague Maz and Cori, the race is on to solve this mystery, before anyone else gets hurt.

I absolutely adored every moment I spent with this story. It’s told through alternating timelines. The first is 1987, when the trio are kids. You get to know them, the dynamics of their friendship group, as well as the events leading up to and the aftermath of, Sam’s disappearance.

A young boy going missing, in such a small town, was a huge deal. It was felt by the whole community and Farizan did a great job of examining that.

The other is in 1992, leading up to and following Sam’s return. Through this format you get a lovely coming-of-age feel to this quirky YA Horror tale.

I really enjoyed the format and all of the characters. I found Farizan’s writing to be extremely engaging. I was loving every moment. Granted, I am right around the same age as these characters, so getting the alteranting 1987 and 1992 timelines was so nostalgic for me.

I have seen this compared a lot to Stranger Things and I do sort of get that, but it’s also very much it’s own thing.

I was definitely picking up that vibe, but you know what else I was picking up? You know the movie Big, the whole pinball element of this reminded me of the fortune-teller machine, Zoltar, except in this, Sam returns smaller than his friends, not bigger.

I loved the mystery behind what happened to Sam. It was so interesting. Watching Cori and Maz come together to try to help Sam, while also trying to solve the mystery was a ton of fun.

I always love some amateur sleuthing and I was captivated by the whole process. This was just pure fun, all the way, exactly what I needed for the chaotic end of summer. I was absolutely surprised by this one. It swept me away.

My slight critique would be that I felt like some of the events at the conclusion were too quick, up-in-the-air and not necessarily explained to my liking. Regardless, that’s simply personal taste. It was close to perfection for me.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I cannot wait to pick up more from this author!

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Review: The Counselors by Jessica Goodman

The CounselorsThe Counselors by Jessica Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With numerous YA Thrillers being released every month, three things about The Counselors made it stand out for me:

Jessica Goodman’s name, this cover giving me nostalgic-campy vibes and the line in the synopsis that states, a twisty new thriller about three best friends, one elite summer camp, and the dark secrets that lead to a body in the lake.

I had a bit of a wait before the audiobook became available through my library, but it was well worth it. Particularly since it is narrated by the fabulous, Phoebe Strole.

This narrative follows Goldie and her two best friends, Ava and Imogen. The girls developed a friendship years ago at the prestigious Camp Alpine Lake. They were campers when they first met, but now as young adults, all three stayed on at the camp as counselors.

Goldie is the only one of the three who is local to the area though, so she has been anxiously awaiting summer and with it, Ava and Imo’s return. Truth be told, Goldie wouldn’t even have been able to attend the camp initially if her parents didn’t work there.

Generally, the campers are from very well-off families. Because of this, there has been a bit of tension over the years happening between those involved in the camp and the local community.

Goldie is the odd exception that has experience with the situation from both sides.

She has mixed feelings about it. Also, even though Ava and Imogen are her best friends, she does keep a lot from them. Goldie was involved in an incident that led to her senior year of high school being a virtual hell on earth.

She kept that from them. Now that Ava and Imogen are returning to town, Goldie wonders if she will need to tell them. The thing that happened was big local news. She doesn’t want them to hear about it on one of their many ventures into town.

Stress, upon stress, upon stress.

When a local boy, who played a very big part in Goldie’s worst year ever, ends up dead in the lake at the camp, Goldie’s summer takes a sudden dark turn.

What was he even doing there? Locals aren’t allowed on the grounds of the camp. Had he been looking for her?

As Goldie digs into this unexplained death, she uncovers truths she could have never imagined. Her whole world is suddenly and viciously turned asunder.

The Counselors is a great YA Summer Thriller, with all the nostalgic campy vibes that I was looking for, as well as a solid friendship trio. I really enjoyed my time getting to know Goldie, Ava and Imo.

The camp and its relationship to the surrounding area was also quite engaging. I live in a resort-type community as well, so I definitely could relate to a lot of the dynamics that Goodman was exploring. I thought that provided an interesting context to the overarching story.

The mystery was well-developed and paced. It kept me glued to the story. When I wasn’t reading it, I wished that I was. The ending got wild, but it was so fun.

This is pretty close to a perfect summer read. I’m looking forward to picking up more from this author soon!

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