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.

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 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.

Review | Her Dying Day

Her Dying Day by Mindy Carlson

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The disappearance of famed mystery author Greer Larkin has been the subject of intense debate for 20 years. Aspiring filmmaker June Masterson, who learned of the mystery as a teen living in an isolated family commune, is digging into the case and making it the subject of her first documentary.

Meeting with those closest to Greer, June finds everyone from her mother to her agent to her fiance has a different theory. After Rachel (Greer’s former BFF) gives June a suitcase of Greer’s private notes with the desperate hope she’ll find new clues, Rachel is found dead. And whoever killed Rachel — and possibly Greer — has turned their attention to June.

I loved the mystery, I loved meeting the suspects, I loved piecing together what could’ve happened to Greer based on the intriguing missing person scene. What I didn’t love was June’s character. Her relationship with her married teacher was annoying, her odd upbringing that caused her to stop speaking to her parents felt random/out of place – so did the “big reveal” behind that at the end. The climax was also sorely lacking here. All in all, a great mystery that needed a different MC (just my personal opinion).

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Her Dying Day is scheduled for release on June 7, 2022.

Review | I’ll Be You

I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown

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Identical twins Sam and Elli are former child stars who have grown apart through the years. Elli is a florist living close to the beach with her lawyer husband. Sam is a recovering addict still hoping for a Hollywood career. The sisters haven’t spoken in over a year when Sam receives a call from her mom that Elli is taking an extended rest at a spa in Ojai and requesting a visit from Sam to help care for Elli’s adopted two-year-old daughter. Sam is stunned to learn about the adoption as well as her sister’s recent marital woes.

Sam arrives to help care for her niece while navigating sober living, an awkward relationship with her parents (most of all her mom), and concern for her sister who has failed to call and check on her daughter. As Sam looks into Elli’s life in the days leading up to her disappearance, she also considers the past, giving readers insight into their childhood and family dynamic, and Elli’s investigation soon becomes a rescue mission as shocking secrets unfold.

While the relationships should be the focus of this story, I honestly felt like the over the top storyline overshadowed them and I didn’t become as invested as most readers (based on other early reviews I read after finishing the book myself). I’m a huge fan of Janelle Brown’s storytelling, this one just didn’t have the impact of her previous books for me.

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. I’ll Be You is scheduled for release on April 26, 2022.

Review | Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance

Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach

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Billy Barnes is swoon worthy and young Sally Holt loves listening to her older sister Kathy talk about him. Their fascination and secret devotion to Billy is a sweet and innocent part of their bond.
As Sally prepares for eighth grade, Kathy begins dating Billy; a calm but memorable summer with long afternoons poolside ensues… until the morning Billy speeds down Main Street and slams into a tree to miss a deer. Billy is injured, Sally walks away unscathed, but Kathy dies instantly.

What follows is the touching story of life after the tragedy through Sally’s reflections – living with grief, regret, desire; emotions complicated by the large hole left behind by someone you love as you consider the trajectory of your life if only that one defining event hadn’t occurred.

Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance could’ve easily been a dark and depressing story but I found it to be touching and genuine with moments of unexpected beauty and humor. It’s a slow burn but that works wonderfully here as you savor Sally’s coming of age story told with a candor I appreciated.

A huge thanks for the physical ARC I received through a Goodreads giveaway as well as the D-ARC from Henry Holt & Company and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review! Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance is scheduled for release on May 17, 2022.