Review | Hide

Hide by Kiersten White

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Come out, come out, wherever you are…

A week long hide and seek competition in an abandoned amusement park seems a bit strange but it’s easily overlooked when you consider the grand prize of $50,000.
Fourteen competitors are chosen and one in particular, Mack, is in it to win it. She’s an expert at hiding thanks to her haunting past.

There are few rules: You get a 30 minute window to hide at the start of each day, you must stay hidden from dawn until dusk – zero allowances (nope, no bathroom breaks), and 2 competitors will be eliminated each day.
Mack quickly realizes this competition isn’t a silly reality show contest but something much more sinister…

I don’t want to give anything else away! This book was just plain fun; it sounds odd to say considering the plot, but it made me nostalgic for the middle grade/YA horror stories I read as a kid from authors like R.L. Stine (same vibes). While this is geared toward adults, it’ll be a good fit in YA as well.
Creepy with a dark back story, Hide is definitely an entertaining contemporary horror story that I couldn’t put down!

Thanks to Del Rey and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Hide is scheduled for release on May 24, 2022.

Review | The Woman in the Library

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

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Sitting down to catch up on reviews today, I realized I’ve been on a roll with books about books!

The Woman in the Library is a bit unexpected in the fact that it’s a book about a book … within a book. Mystery lovers will be pulled in immediately when a scream shatters the quiet in the Boston Public Library reading room. While security guards investigate, four strangers all seated together strike up a conversation – and a friendship …and one of them is a murderer.

Mystery writer Hannah Tigone is writing this book from Australia, unable to travel to Boston for research due to Covid restrictions. She sends her chapters to Leo Johnson, a beta reader in the city, for help with locations and lingo. Each chapter of Hannah’s book ends with correspondence from Leo who is becoming increasingly invested in the mystery – and Hannah herself.

While many aspects of the story make it clever, there is must about both story lines that felt ridiculous/contrived. I never cared about any of the characters, their instant friendship felt awkward and forced, and did no one have a job? They literally all meet in the library one day and then spend every day afterward meeting up to discuss the strange events that have brought them together. All that said, I kept right on reading to see where this was going and was underwhelmed overall.

Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The Woman in the Library is scheduled for release on June 7, 2022.

Review | My Summer Darlings

My Summer Darlings by May Cobb

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Whew, this is the quintessential guilty pleasure read.

Jenn, Kittie, and Cynthia are childhood best friends all approaching forty now. Jenn, newly divorced with a teenage son, has just returned to the tiny neighborhood of her youth, where Kittie and Cynthia have stayed to raise their families. The three friends spend a lot of time drinking wine and bonding over their ungrateful teens and their nonexistent love lives.

Then the gorgeous and mysterious stranger Will Harding arrives in the neighborhood to stir up desire … and trouble.

It’s not long before lust turns into hot and heavy encounters for all three women, who are doing their best to keep it a secret from each other.

This story is a hot mess that I couldn’t stop reading. I love to hate stories like this. The women are all shallow, vapid, bored housewives lusting after a sexy guy who they know nothing about except that he is raising major red flags at every turn that they choose to ignore. Even when things get twisty and betrayal is obvious, they are somehow blaming each other rather than the douchey new guy who doesn’t have to do any work to get them into bed or come up with any remotely plausible story to cover the truth.

My Summer Darlings is a steamy popcorn read that’s superficial …but still juicy.

Thanks to Berkley and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. My Summer Darlings is scheduled for release on May 17, 2022.

The Story Collector

The Story Collector (The Story Collector #1) by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb

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I love any opportunity to share a book with my eight-year-old and we enjoyed listening to the first book of this middle grade series in the car on the way to school and errands over the course of a couple weeks. The Story Collector is an adventure based on the real life of Viviani Joffre Fedeler, a girl born and raised in the New York Public Library!

Eleven-year-old Viviani has explored every room of the New York Public Library with her older brothers and her best friend Eva, after all, it is her home! When she becomes convinced that a ghost resides in the library, she’s stunned to find the new girl at school, Merit, makes fun of her. She’s on a mission to prove to Merit that there is a ghost and needs a little help to make it happen.
Meanwhile, a valuable stamp goes missing from an exhibit and Viviani and her brothers look like prime suspects!

This was a fun middle grade book. The “villain” is quite obvious but it didn’t make the story any less fun, Viviani’s vivid imagination made this a charming adventure, and the setting made for a great atmosphere!

Review | The Book Woman’s Daughter

The Book Woman’s Daughter (The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek #2) my Kim Michele Richardson

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Readers will be swept back to the hollers of Kentucky where book woman Cussy Mary and her husband have been raising their adopted daughter, Honey, until the law catches up to them and imprisons the pair for marrying because of Cussy’s blue skin.

Honey is still a minor in need of a guardian or else she’ll end up in the care of the state until she’s an adult. She takes up her mama’s old book route with the faithful mule Junia, delivering to the remote cabins and facing many of the same obstacles as Cussy did.
Honey knows she must fight to stay free — and to free her parents — and she works hard to secure her emancipation and live on her own terms, when the law is against her every step of the way.

This is a lovely, inspiring story rich in well-researched details that I know fans of the first book, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, will love. (It’s not absolutely necessary but I definitely recommend reading that book first!  Read my review here.)

Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The Book Woman’s Daughter was released on May 3, 2022.

Review | The Book of Moods

The Book of Moods by Lauren Martin

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Five years before writing this book, Lauren Martin had a great job, apartment, and boyfriend … and she was miserable. She should’ve been happy but she couldn’t stop focusing on everything negative: anything that could stress her out and leave her irritated and ready to lash out was taking over her life and jeopardizing her work and personal relationships.

Why was she constantly moody and depressed?

The Book of Moods covers Lauren’s five year journey of self awareness to discover what was causing her to miss out on happiness. Her observations are unflinchingly honest as most of the personal anecdotes she shares doesn’t put her in a great light but I think most women will find at least one personal example that she shares relatable.

There’s nothing new or groundbreaking about emotions here but I did appreciate the look at universal triggers women face and how the author learned to work through them.
(Spoiler alert: A lot of this growth seems to happen by simply growing up/maturing and getting to know yourself)

Review | Insomnia

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

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I have a complicated relationship with Sarah Pinborough novels. On one hand, I usually enjoy the mystery and attempting to piece together the truth … on the other, I’m usually left saying “What the hell did I just read?” with a final feeling of ambivalence.
So when someone asks me if I like her books, my response is usually, “Well, I keep reading them…” *shrug*

Emma Averell was only five when she and her older sister were placed in foster care after a terrifying incident with their mother on her fortieth birthday.
Now Emma, nearing forty, is a high-powered divorce attorney with two beautiful kids and a stay-at-home husband. She’s suppressed her childhood trauma her entire life but that is slowly crumbling as she finds herself unable to sleep and losing time as her birthday draws near. Is she going mad like her mother? Could she end up hurting her own family?

While I enjoyed the intense skewed perception that is brought on by Emma’s insomnia – watching it lead to paranoia and questioned sanity – I found the ending to be over the top yet underwhelming at the same time, if that makes any sense. It wasn’t really a thriller but it was an intense slow burn and once again, I feel pretty ambivalent about it.

Review | The Children on the Hill

The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon

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Jennifer McMahon knows how to craft a spooky story, leaving readers to consider if the known or unknown is more sinister!

In 1978, the acclaimed psychiatrist Dr. Helen Hildreth is working with the mentally ill at a peaceful treatment center in Vermont. At home she’s simply “Gran” to her grandchildren, Vi and Eric.
One day Gran brings home Iris, a silent girl who is peculiar but immediately accepted as a playmate since the children have no friends besides each other. Iris is invited to join the Monster Club and help write their book about monsters and how to defeat them.

While Iris eventually comes out of her shell and begins to speak, she doesn’t remember anything before her arrival. Vi, curious about her new playmate, begins to investigate her mysterious arrival in hopes of learning who Iris is.

In 2019, famed podcaster/monster hunter Lizzy Shelley arrives in Vermont to investigate a missing girl. She’s noticed a pattern of missing girls for years but is always one step behind. She isn’t afraid of monsters … but she is afraid of her missing sister.

I really loved this story. While the ending was a bit too far-fetched, the Frankenstein inspired story is a wonderful mix of coming of age and mystery with major spooky vibes.

Thanks to Gallery/Scout Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The Children on the Hill was released on April 26, 2022.

Review | Sundial

Sundial by Catriona Ward

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The picture perfect image of Rob’s life is fading fast as she argues constantly with her husband Irving and becomes fearful of her oldest daughter Callie who has started collecting tiny bones and whispering to imaginary friends. There is a darkness to Callie that Rob is familiar with.

Rob takes Callie to her childhood home in the Mojave Desert called Sundial to share a dark but important story with her. As Rob’s story unfolds, Irving becomes increasingly angry that she has left with their daughter and soon readers aren’t sure who they should be afraid of or afraid for.

I really enjoyed Ward’s novel The Last House on Needless Street (read my review here)- it was almost <i>too</i> out there for me but managed to pull me in with a brilliant psychological horror I didn’t expect. While I devoured Sundial quickly, it kind of left me unimpressed. I once again appreciated the unsettling confusion as I tried to piece together what was real but the truth was a mixed bag that didn’t have the emotional punch that Ward’s previous novel delivered.

Trigger warning for physical/psychological animal, child, and spousal abuse.

Review | Fevered Star

Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse

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Fevered Star is the sequel to 2020’s Black Sun and book two in the Between Earth and Sky epic fantasy trilogy! (Read my review of Black Sun here.)

Readers return to The Meridian where the great city of Tova is veiled in a lasting eclipse while blood covers the ground after the Crow God’s return. Serapio struggles with being a man and a god and grapples with his destiny while Naranpa searches for her place within the devastated city.
Sea captain Xiala yearns to be with Serapio but understands she must learn the plans being made against him.
Clan Matriarchs gather to form alliances as war becomes imminent.

I don’t want to give too much away because the world building and character development is so strong as it weaves together this epic fantasy. I can’t say enough good things about this series! This book has less action but the amazing plot sets up the final book to put the intense build up in motion. I can’t wait for the conclusion!

Thanks to Gallery/Saga Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Fevered Star was released on April 19, 2022.