The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees

We’ve got a nice winter storm coming up, so I’m excited to be diving into my kindle this week!

Thank you One More Chapter for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: How well do you know your neighbor? Would you trust them with your life? I heard Emily before I saw her. The harsh smack of heels against cheap wooden floorboards. The loud phone calls. The incessant music. I knew Emily before I met her. Discarded receipts in our communal hallway. Sticky leftovers in the shared food waste bin. Wine shop vouchers in the letterbox. Now she’s gone missing, and I’m the only one who can find her. The only one who can save her. Because I know her best, and I heard everything.

I was hoping for an easy fast-paced read that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but this was not that. It’s slow, unrealistic, and has too quick of an ending for my liking. It doesn’t help that I have read so many thrillers in my past, because this just didn’t match up to them. It’s not terrible, but not something I would recommend others to read if they want a good thriller.

2/5 Stars

The Hawthorne School by Sylvie Perry

I started off the year with a typical book for me – a dark mystery! I couldn’t let the new year start without it!

Thank you Crooked Lane Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Claudia Morgan is overwhelmed. She’s a single parent trying the best that she can, but her four-year-old son, Henry, is a handful–for her and for his preschool. When Claudia hears about a school with an atypical teaching style near her Chicagoland home, she has to visit. The Hawthorne School is beautiful and has everything she dreams of for Henry: time to play outside, music, and art. The head of the school, Zelma, will even let Claudia volunteer to cover the cost of tuition. The school is good for Henry: his “behavioral problems” disappear, and he comes home subdued instead of rageful. But there’s something a bit off about the school, its cold halls, and its enigmatic headmistress. When Henry brings home stories of ceremonies in the woods and odd rules, Claudia’s instincts tell her that something isn’t quite right, and she begins to realize she’s caught in a web of manipulations and power.

As a parent and a teacher myself, I was really intrigued about the premise of this book. The setting gave a perfect eerie, gothic vibe that made me feel like I was right there with Claudia. On the other hand, this story was predictable and fell flat for me. Granted, I read a lot of gothic mystery novels, so story-lines start to become a bit repetitive for me. The ending twist was different than most, but was a tad dark if that’s not something you’re into. I can definitely find myself reading this again in the fall time this year!

4/5 Stars

Everything We Didn’t Say by Nicole Baart

This book was featured in last month’s Book of the Month Club selection. You may have had a chance to read it before I have! If so, please share your thoughts in the comments!

Thank you Atria books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Juniper Baker had just graduated from high school and was deep in the throes of a summer romance when Cal and Beth Murphy, a childless couple who lived on a neighboring farm, were brutally murdered. When her younger brother became the prime suspect, June’s world collapsed and everything she loved that summer fell away. She left, promising never to return to tiny Jericho, Iowa. Until now. Officially, she’s back in town to help an ill friend manage the local library. But really, she’s returned to repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, who’s been raised by Juniper’s mother and stepfather since birth—and to solve the infamous Murphy murders once and for all. She knows the key to both lies in the darkest secret of that long-ago summer night, one that’s haunted her for nearly fifteen years. As history begins to repeat itself and a dogged local true crime podcaster starts delving into the murders, the race to the truth puts past and present on a dangerous collision course. Juniper lands back in an all-too-familiar place with the answers to everything finally in her sights, but this time it’s her daughter’s life that hangs in the balance. Will revealing what really happened mean a fresh start? Or will the truth destroy everything Juniper loves for a second time?

Nicole has a wonderful talent for writing. The prose in her books is so beautiful! I’m captivated each time a read one of her novels. On the other hand, this was a bit too much of a slow burn for me. I also had a really hard time with the dual timelines (if you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know this a tricky thing to master for me). Regardless, this is definitely my favorite novel of hers to date!

3.5/5 Stars

The Weekend Escape by Rakie Bennett

58899150

I don’t know about you, but locked room type mysteries are my favorite for this time of year! While this isn’t necessarily a locked room, it certainly gives me all the vibes of one!

Thank you One More Chapter for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: It was meant to be a fun reunion, a chance for six friends to reconnect and relive the adventures that brought them together in the first place. But from the moment they arrive on their island home for the weekend, Lyndsey, Sonia, Bobbie, Amanda, Juliet, and Val realize that their paradise is filled with peril, and there are consequences when you try to outrun the ghosts of your past. As everything starts to fall apart, and the friends begin to turn against one another, deep, dark secrets are revealed, and an unimaginable horror is unleashed. They came seeking adventure, but now they’ll be lucky to leave with their lives…

I think this book at a lot of potential, but it got a little muddied for me. With six characters to keep track of and a bit of a slow pace, I struggled to maintain full attention. There are some flashbacks which I also had to mindfully keep track of, so my attention was lost in more than one way. The shift between the possible suspects is what truly kept me reading through to the end. While it was a great wrap-up, it was a bit rough for me to get there. I think the pacing and shift in timelines and characters was just a bit much for me, but others may enjoy it well.

2.5/3 Stars

Trick or Treat by Katerina Diamond

57841285. sy475

I get really excited when I find a new mystery author! This one had such a cool cover too. It’s perfect for this time of year!

Thank you Avon books for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: When six-year-old Marcus is taken from outside his house on Halloween, there is only one witness: a frightened teen determined to keep himself hidden. After an anonymous tip off, Detective Imogen Grey is called out to an expensive Exeter street, caught up in the buzz of the holiday. But when the police visit Marcus’s house, his parents claim everything is fine. Imogen is sure there is more to the family than meets the eye. But just how much more, she could never have imagined… What has happened to little Marcus? And will he ever come home?

If you are a fan of true crime, this one is for you! This is dark and intense and not for the faint of heart, only because it involves a child being kidnapped. It’s twisty and thrilling which is everything I want for an October read. It’s written so well, I need to go back and read the other books in this series! I’m not usually a fan of detective series because I feel like I miss out on key facts if I haven’t read the other books, but this works really well without having done as such. This one had me biting my nails all the way up to the end. This comes highly recommended!

5/5 Stars

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

48915818

Have you ever picked up a book based on advertisements you’ve seen randomly across the internet? I think my phone and computer has learned of my taste and books, and I stated to see this book advertised everywhere website I went to! It worked, because I immediately had to read it!

Thank you St Martins Press for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him. By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to. Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon.

I first want to mention – how gorgeous is this cover?! I think it’s absolutely stunning. While I thought this would be more of a suspenseful story, it’s definitely more of a gothic horror tale. With that being said, it was mind-bendingly insane. It’s creepy and twisted and will keep you up on night thinking about it in the best way possible. It’s magic meets a haunted house – what more could you ask for in an October read? I will say the plot got a little muddled half way through, but wasn’t enough to keep me from reading on. If you are there, I encourage you to keep going.

4/5 Stars

Cackle by Rachel Harrison

56637938

I’m pretty sure just after looking at this awesome cover, I couldn’t think of a better book to read in October!

Thank you Berkley books for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: All her life, Annie has played it nice and safe. After being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend, Annie seeks a fresh start. She accepts a teaching position that moves her from Manhattan to a small village upstate. She’s stunned by how perfect and picturesque the town is. The people are all friendly and warm. Her new apartment is dreamy too, minus the oddly persistent spider infestation. Then Annie meets Sophie. Beautiful, charming, magnetic Sophie, who takes a special interest in Annie, who wants to be her friend. More importantly, she wants Annie to stop apologizing and start living for herself. That’s how Sophie lives. Annie can’t help but gravitate toward the self-possessed Sophie, wanting to spend more and more time with her, despite the fact that the rest of the townsfolk seem…a little afraid of her. And like, okay. There are some things. Sophie’s appearance is uncanny and ageless, her mansion in the middle of the woods feels a little unearthly, and she does seem to wield a certain power…but she couldn’t be…could she?

Not only was this such a fun witchy read, it had such a positive message to go along with it! Honestly, this may be one of my new favorite books to read of the season! The characters are so lovable, the story line is unique and draws you right in and leaves your heart so full. It’s funny with a touch of spooks. It’s the perfect book for anyone to read! This comes highly recommended!

5/5 Stars

Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan

56179370

My next thriller is a from an author who is popular in the thriller world, but one that I’ve never read a book from. I honestly get really excited when that happens!

Thank you Forge Books for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Everyone knows Lily Atwood—and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all—fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret. Her own. Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips—but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he—or she—know the truth? Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world—and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear. How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?

This was an okay read for me. I had a hard time really becoming invested in this one. I think a lot of it had to do with the characters. I felt like the actions of the characters did not match up to their jobs or personalities originally described. I found myself saying “well surely they wouldn’t do that if they’re an Emmy-award winning reporter?” The plot itself flowed beautifully and didn’t slow down. I think a lot more people will enjoy this one, it just didn’t quite make the mark for me.

3/5 Stars

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

55511726. sy475

If Stephen King is giving this one high praises, it has to be good!

Thank you Tor Nightfire for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: In a boarded-up house on a dead-end street at the edge of the wild Washington woods lives a family of three. A teenage girl who isn’t allowed outside, not after last time. A man who drinks alone in front of his TV, trying to ignore the gaps in his memory. And a house cat who loves napping and reading the Bible. An unspeakable secret binds them together, but when a new neighbor moves in next door, what is buried out among the birch trees may come back to haunt them all.

I’ve been holding off on this book until October came around. This one is very different. Part of the book is told from the perspective of the house cat. Odd? Completely. Unique and interesting? Totally! If you are looking for a different twist on a horror novel, this is the book for you. There isn’t much else I want to share bout this book because the less you know, the crazier of a ride reading it will be. Just make sure you read the afterward when you do finish the book because that will make everything make sense in the end!

4/5 Stars

The Last Guest by Tess Little

56637946. sy475

Are you someone who pays attention to the Stars of Hollywood? While I’m not caught up in Hollywood drama, I sure love reading mysteries about it!

Thank you Ballantine Books for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: When actress Elspeth Bell attends the fiftieth birthday party of her ex-husband Richard Bryant, the Hollywood director who launched her career, all she wants is to pass unnoticed through the glamorous crowd in his sprawling Los Angeles mansion. Instead, there are just seven other guests–and Richard’s pet octopus, Persephone, watching over them from her tank as the intimate party grows more surreal (and rowdy) by the hour. Come morning, Richard is dead–and all of the guests are suspects. In the weeks that follow, each of the guests come under suspicion: the school friend, the studio producer, the actress, the actor, the new partner, the manager, the cinematographer, and even Elspeth herself. What starts out as a locked-room mystery soon reveals itself to be much more complicated, as dark stories from Richard’s past surface, colliding with Elspeth’s memories of their marriage that she vowed never to revisit. Elspeth begins to wonder not just who killed Richard, but why these eight guests were invited, and what sort of man would desire to possess a creature as mysterious and unsettling as Persephone.

If you are looking for a good locked room mystery, this is it. This was written so nicely that it played out like a movie in my head. The Hollywood theme lent itself well to that. It’s definitely a slow burn and took me a bit to really dive into the plot, but glad I stuck through with it. I wasn’t able to guess the twist and that always wins me over in a book.

4/5 Stars