She’s Gone by David Bell #bookreview #YA #thriller

When a girl disappears, who do you suspect?

When 17-year-old Hunter Gifford wakes in the hospital on the night of homecoming, he’s shocked to learn he and his girlfriend, Chloe Summers, have been in a terrible car accident. Hunter has no memory of the crash, and his shock turns to horror when he is told Chloe’s blood has been found in the car―but she has disappeared.

Back at school, his fellow students taunt him, and his former best friend starts making a true-crime documentary about the case―one that points the finger directly at Hunter. And just when things can’t get any worse, Chloe’s mother stands in front of the entire town at a candlelight vigil and accuses Hunter of murder.

Under mounting pressure from the police, Hunter takes matters into his own hands by questioning anyone who might know the truth and posting videos to prove his innocence. When Hunter learns he and Chloe were seen arguing loudly outside the dance, he faces a sickening possibility. Was he angry enough to kill the person he loved?

I’ve read several of Bell’s adult novels and was anxious to read his young adult debut. I’m hoping this won’t be his last novel in this genre.

My heart immediately went out to Hunter. After learning he and his girlfriend were in a horrible car accident, she’s now missing, most of the night is a blank, and there’s no shortage of people who blame him for her disappearance. I was so frustrated when the detective repeatedly told him to confess, tell the truth, and they’d go easier on him. Besides handling the grief and devastation over Chloe’s disappearance, he’s taunted at school by fellow students, and then called out by Chloe’s mother at a candlelight vigil. Fortunately, he has the support of a few friends, his father, and his powerhouse of a sister, Livvy. She’s willing to take on anyone who says a negative word about her brother – and even punches a lacrosse player in the face in defense of Hunter. Hunter makes some questionable decisions during the story, but rational thought goes out the window in his desperation to find his girlfriend.

I felt pretty confident I knew who was behind Chloe’s disappearance, and I was partly correct. But then there’s an added twist that caught me by surprise. The plot moves along at a brisk pace, and the short chapters made it easy for me to say “just one more” – and then a couple hours had passed.

If you’re a fan of thrillers, mystery, suspense, or true crime, She’s Gone will keep you turning the pages long after you should have been sleeping.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

After Dark with Roxie Clark by Brooke Lauren Davis #bookreview #mystery #ghosts

From the author of The Hollow Inside comes a twisty, thought-provoking YA thriller about grief, family, and what happens when true crime hits a little too close to home.

Roxie Clark has seen more dead bodies than your average seventeen-year-old. As a member of the supposedly-cursed Clark family, most of her ancestors have met tragic ends, including her own mother. Instead of fearing the curse, however, Roxie has combined her flair for performance and her gruesome family history into a successful ghost tour. But her tour never covers the most recent body she’s seen-her sister Skylar’s boyfriend, Colin Riley, found murdered in a cornfield.

A year after the murder, Roxie’s desperate to help Skylar find closure and start to heal. Instead, Skylar becomes fixated on finding the killer. As the sisters dig into what really happened, they discover that more than one person has been lying about that night. And the closer they get to the truth, the more Roxie starts to wonder if some scary stories might be better left untold. Brooke Lauren Davis offers another thought-provoking and eerily satisfying tale, perfect for fans of Kara Thomas and Cruel Summer.

A teen who turns her gruesome family history into a ghost tour? As someone who’s been on several, I couldn’t get my hands on this book fast enough.

With her love of all things spooky and creepy (the girl has a real talent for decorations), Roxie immediately captured my heart. The women in the Clark family seem to be cursed (it goes back for generations) and have met untimely and sometimes brutal demises. As a history lover, Roxie does her research and turns these stories into a popular ghost tour. Maybe she occasionally embellishes a tad, but it only adds to the intrigue. She has a tough outer shell, but I loved how her vulnerabilities are gradually revealed, which only makes it easier to relate to her character.

Roxie’s best friend Travis is also a bit of an outcast – his personality isn’t exactly the warm and fuzzy kind. His brother Riley was the boyfriend of Roxie’s sister, Skylar, and Riley was found brutally murdered a year ago. Roxie has tried being supportive, but she and Skylar are polar opposites and see the world in completely different ways. As a result, their relationship is all kinds of messy and can alternate between loving and combative in the blink of an eye. Skylar is withdrawn and still grieving, but an unexpected discovery inspires her to launch her own investigation into Riley’s death. And it soon reveals wave after wave of secrets and surprises. Even though most of the clues were right in front of me, the mystery kept me guessing. I even yelled at the book at one point because I didn’t want to believe a revelation, and I plowed through it in less than two days.

Charmingly campy at times, occasionally amusing, and heavily atmospheric, this was a perfect Halloween read. I’d take Roxie’s ghost tour anytime.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Jackal by Erin E. Adams and The Sacrifice by Rin Chupeco #bookreview #suspense #horror #TuesdayBookBlog

I’m still catching up on posting book reviews after Bad Moon Rising, so today I have a double feature that should please the horror fans out there (looking at you, Priscilla).

A young Black girl goes missing in the woods outside her white Rust Belt town. But she’s not the first—and she may not be the last. . . .

It’s watching.

Liz Rocher is coming home . . . reluctantly. As a Black woman, Liz doesn’t exactly have fond memories of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a predominantly white town. But her best friend is getting married, so she braces herself for a weekend of awkward and passive-aggressive reunions. Liz has grown, though; she can handle whatever awaits her. But on the day of the wedding, somewhere between dancing and dessert, the bride’s daughter, Caroline, goes missing—and the only thing left behind is a piece of white fabric covered in blood.

It’s taking.

As a frantic search begins, with the police combing the trees for Caroline, Liz is the only one who notices a pattern: a summer night. A missing girl. A party in the woods. She’s seen this before. Keisha Woodson, the only other Black girl in school, walked into the woods with a mysterious man and was later found with her chest cavity ripped open and her heart missing. Liz shudders at the thought that it could have been her, and now, with Caroline missing, it can’t be a coincidence. As Liz starts to dig through the town’s history, she uncovers a horrifying secret about the place she once called home. Children have been going missing in these woods for years. All of them Black. All of them girls.

It’s your turn.

With the evil in the forest creeping closer, Liz knows what she must do: find Caroline, or be entirely consumed by the darkness.

Liz bid good riddance to her small hometown several years ago, moved to NYC, and never looked back. Now several years later, she and her fiance have recently split up, and she’s returning home to be a bridesmaid in best friend Mel’s wedding. Let’s just say Liz isn’t looking forward to the visit and plans to stay only a couple days. The relationship with her mother is strained at times, especially when she mentions Liz’s weight gain and presses her to talk about the breakup – she blames Liz. The nightmare begins at the wedding reception when Mel’s daughter/Liz’s goddaughter goes missing while Liz was supposed to be watching her.

It gets off to a slow start, but initially the story presents as a mystery – who took Caroline? Soon it’s revealed that for years young Black girls have gone missing at the same time every year. But every death has been declared an accident, runaway, troubled youth, etc. It was maddening that no one noticed the pattern even when the missing girls’ families complained and pleaded with law enforcement to do more. Small town racism is alive and well in Johnstown. And then it’s not just a missing persons story – something evil is behind the abductions.

Early on I honestly thought I’d pegged the culprit and decided I’d be pretty disappointed if it was that easy. I was wrong, but my suspicions continued until almost the end. The first part of the novel captivated me and made putting down the book nearly impossible, but the last twenty percent confused me at certain points. I wasn’t sure what was real, but I won’t go into it for spoilery reasons.

Judging by other reviews, readers either give Jackal enthusiastic thumbs up or a meh. The ending didn’t work as well for me, but the mystery itself is compelling. Be warned – you may never go into the woods again after reading this novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

An island oasis turns deadly when a terrifying legend threatens to kill off visitors one by one in this haunting novel from the highly acclaimed author of The Girl from the Well and the Bone Witch trilogy.

Pristine beaches, lush greenery, and perfect weather, the island of Kisapmata would be the vacation destination…if not for the curse. The Philippine locals speak of it in hushed voices and refuse to step foot on the island. They know the lives it has claimed. They won’t be next.

A Hollywood film crew won’t be dissuaded. Legend claims a Dreamer god sleeps, waiting to grant unimaginable powers in exchange for eight sacrifices. The producers are determined to document the evidence. And they convince Alon, a local teen, to be their guide.

Within minutes of their arrival, a giant sinkhole appears, revealing a giant balete tree with a mummified corpse entwined in its gnarled branches. And the crew start seeing strange visions. Alon knows they are falling victim to the island’s curse. If Alon can’t convince them to leave, there is no telling who will survive. Or how much the Dreamer god will destroy…

I’ve read other hair-raising horror novels by Chupeco, so I knew I was in for another chilling read with The Sacrifice.

Don’t let this beautiful island setting fool you. It’s an alluring disguise for the dangers that await these characters. The island reminded me a bit of the TV series Lost with its mysterious happenings, disembodied voices, and unsettling visions, all of which delighted me. Five lives have been claimed here, and folklore says three more deaths will follow. When a Hollywood film crew arrives, most of them hold no respect for local legends and beliefs, and the Phillipine locals refuse to talk to them. Only Alon agrees to work with them, mostly for their own protection.

Bizarre happenings occur almost immediately, and although it slows in some spots, pacing is pretty even. Once the bodies start dropping, you may wonder why the crew didn’t leave the island. It’s not that simple – the island keeps a firm grip on them. The setting isn’t the only culprit. Ambitious Hollywood execs who believe they hold the power soon find they’ve grossly miscalculated. I always love when Karma plays a part.

If you’re in the mood for macabre imagery, a cursed island, and tension-filled scenes, The Sacrifice nicely checks all those boxes.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young #bookreview #magic #mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

A deeply atmospheric story about ancestral magic, an unsolved murder, and a second chance at true love.

Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever the night her best friend was found dead and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her. Years later, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence on the misty, remote shores of Saoirse Island and running the family’s business, Blackwood’s Tea Shoppe Herbal Tonics & Tea Leaf Readings.

But when the island, rooted in folklore and magic, begins to show signs of strange happenings, Emery knows that something is coming. The morning she wakes to find that every single tree on Saoirse has turned color in a single night, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that the town has tried desperately to forget.

August knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night everything changed. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from his past that has never healed—Emery.

The town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises spanning generations threaten to reveal the truth behind Lily’s mysterious death once and for all. 

I’ve read Young’s young adult Fable series, and those books were among my favorite reads that year. I was excited to see if her adult novel would captivate me just as much. Spoiler alert – it absolutely did.

What a perfect atmospheric setting for a mystery. An island with residents that include families who’ve lived there for generations, a tight knit community where everyone knows your business (sometimes before you do), magic, and secrets upon secrets. Tourists are reluctantly greeted during the season for financial reasons, but islanders are glad to see them go when it’s over. Outsiders aren’t welcome on a permanent basis. When August Salt is blamed for the murder of a teenage girl who was his friend, he and his mother pack up and leave in the middle of the night. Their family roots may extend back for generations, but they’re now considered outsiders.

August’s disappearance devastated Emery, his childhood friend and longtime girlfriend. When he returns to the island fourteen years later to scatter his mother’s ashes and sell their house, she’s unsure of how to handle things – she’s never gotten over him. The residents immediately make it clear August isn’t welcome, and he’s expected to leave the second his business is wrapped up. During his week on the island, a tidal wave of long buried secrets come to light. Long a proponent of his innocence, Embry soon questions her loyalty. Did he really murder Lily? If he didn’t, who did? And why? This mystery enthralled me, and I formed several different theories, all of which were shot down as I turned the pages.

August and Emery are well-crafted protagonists, and the supporting cast are just as strong. The dual POVs (for most of the book) between the two of them keep the pace moving, while a few chapters from some of the residents sprinkle clues here and there about what happened that night.

Plenty of twists, spells and potions, and a little romance make this magical realism mystery a thrilling read. I’m now a confirmed fan of Young’s YA and adult titles.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#BadMoonRising The Visitor by Terry Tyler #mystery #suspense

I’ve read several books by this author (highly recommend!), and we share a deep love of The Walking Dead. Her featured book is set within the same world as her Project Renova series, but can be read as a standalone. She attempted to write a novel in a genre she rarely or never reads – and it was an epic fail. Welcome Terry Tyler!

Which Stephen King novel unsettled you the most?

Misery.  The gradual revelation of Annie Wilkes’ insanity was terrifying, as her behaviour changed from benign if a little eccentric, to completely psychotic.  The sense of menace, as Paul began to understand how much danger he was in.  How trapped he was.  I much prefer this brand of darkness to the evil turning out to be a giant spider, or similar. 

My favourite of King’s books is The Stand, but it was Misery that made me feel scared when I was reading it.

Would you rather go to a real haunted house or watch a horror movie marathon?

I’ll go with the film binge.  Mind you, I’d choose that over most activities! 

Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

I do have an interest in those that many consider still unsolved, such as JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain, etc.  Perhaps ‘controversial’ is the right word, though!

Have you ever tried to write a novel in a genre you rarely or never read? 

Yes.  It was hopeless!  About 10 years ago I thought I’d see if I could write chick lit/a romcom, as that was one of the most popular genres on Amazon at the time.  By the fourth page, my not-ditzy-enough heroine was having deep introspective thoughts and making incisive remarks about the human condition.   Wasn’t going to happen.

Have you ever traveled as research for any of your books? 

Yes, but not very far. The island of Lindisfarne was the farthest (just off the coast of the far north east of England).  I went alone on my second trip; it was March, and the rain was relentless.  I walked around the island in a big yellow waterproof thing, wiping the rain off my glasses as I took verbal notes and film.  I was stuck there for six hours, cold and wet, because I don’t drive; the bus from Berwick-on-Tweed dropped me off at 10 am and was not due back until 4 pm.

I haven’t travelled much, generally – because of this, I see everywhere I go as possible research/setting for future works.  One reason why I take a lot of photos, all the time.

What are you working on now?

A series about a ‘rage’ type of virus, in the form of three short novels.  I will be writing at least two of them before I publish the first, as it’s a continuing story.  I’ve always thought that I would not go to my grave without writing a zombie series, then I decided to make it a rage virus instead, because it feels more feasible.  The virus affects certain neurotransmitters in the brain and causes the subject to be motivated by two instincts only: to kill and to eat.  

Aside from anything else, I didn’t want to run the risk of writing a really bad version of The Walking Dead, so I had to say goodbye to the zombie idea.

Many thanks for including me in your October feature, Teri!

In 2024, a mystery virus ravages the entire world. ‘Bat Fever’ is highly contagious and one hundred per cent lethal.

A cottage tucked away in an isolated Norfolk village seems like the ideal place to sit out a catastrophic pandemic, but some residents of Hincham resent the arrival of Jack, Sarah and their friends, while others want to know too much about them.

What the villagers don’t know is that beneath Sarah’s cottage is a fully-stocked, luxury survival bunker. A post-apocalyptic ‘des res’.

Hincham isolates itself from the rest of the country, but the deaths continue―and not from the virus. There’s a killer on the loose, but is it a member of the much-depleted community, or somebody from outside? Paranoia is rife, as friend suspects friend, and everybody suspects the newcomers.

Most terrifying of all is that nobody knows who’s next on the list…

Purchase Link

https://bookgoodies.com/a/B08ML72P2K

Author Bio and Social Media

Terry Tyler writes dark psychological, post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, available on Amazon.  Her latest book, Where There’s Doubt, is about a romance scammer and his victims.  She is an avid reader and is a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review team.  Aside from writing and reading, she loves The Walking Dead, history, the coast and the countryside and anything on telly about the end of the world as we know it.  She lives in North East England with her husband.

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#BadMoonRising Between the Darkness and the Dawn by Paula Cappa #paranormal #mystery #shortstory

I’ve read a few of this author’s books, and if I could only use a couple words to describe them, they would be atmospheric and immersive. It’s so easy to lose yourself in her stories, and it may have something to do with her visiting the actual settings of some of her works. A name on a cemetery headstone inspired a story idea, and now she’s working on the final draft. Welcome Paula Cappa!

Would you rather visit a haunted house or a haunted graveyard?

Graveyard for sure. I prefer the ghostly quiet of cemeteries. Reading the names and dates on the headstones are inspiring for me to conjure up stories and scenes. I once read a headstone with the name Draakensky on it. The name was startling to me and actually ignited a story of a haunted estate named Draakensky. I’m now working on the final draft of my supernatural novel Draakensky.

Which Stephen King novel unsettled you the most?

The Shining. Mostly because the ghosts had such power in the story and they were unrelenting. Jack, of course, became a terrifying entity. The thing about King’s stories is they touch a vulnerable part of the human psyche and once he does that, as a reader, I can’t let go. The psychological elements are always compelling.

Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

I think the murders where the cause of death is mysterious and doesn’t lead directly to the killer. When a person dies and the cause is not clear or conflicting, it presents such doubt and curiosity. Something like the old-fashioned lock-door mysteries. How did the killer get in or out, accomplishing what seems impossible?

Have you ever traveled as research for any of your books? 

Yes, for my novel Greylock, a mystery story about a music phantom, I placed the setting on Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts. The mountain itself is said to be haunted, so it was perfect to explore from a ghostly perspective. I traveled to Mt. Greylock twice to walk the trails and spend time at the top, getting inspiration from the views and the trails. There’s a lot of research that can be done online and lots of images, but putting your feet on the ground where your characters are walking, is another whole adventure.  Also, I wrote a ghost short story (historical) about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Old Manse in Concord, MA. I toured the Old Manse several times to get the feel in the house when Hawthorne lived there. The short story “Between the Darkness and the Dawn,” was published at Whistling Shade Literary Journal and now it’s a Kindle Single.

Have you ever tried to write a novel in a genre you rarely or never read? 

I normally don’t read fairy tales, but a story with a king and queen kept circling in my head. When I started writing it down, I realized it was a traditional fairy tale (novelette). So, then I did have to start reading that genre and studying about how to write fairy tales. Because the story used magick (of course), I opened a whole new and exciting element to my writing. And wouldn’t you know, the novel I’m working on now has magick in it. Experimenting in new genres for reading and writing can only add more richness to your writing life and reading.

What are you working on now?

I am writing a novel about a haunted windmill and how magick lives with all of nature. The characters in the story are drawn to the magickal realms, some to witchcraft.

“Cappa’s Between Darkness and Dawn is as nuanced and atmospheric as the stories of Hawthorne himself. Mesmerizing.” –Erika Robuck, author of House of Hawthorne: A Novel.   

Come visit the Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts. Does the ghost of author Nathaniel Hawthorne stalk the front parlor? Edward Fane, ley line hunter aims to find out. Armed with his EMF meters, Edward tests the Old Manse for ghosts that might be streaming the reported ley lines on the property. What Edward finds is more than just the ghost of Mr. Hawthorne. Edward uncovers a mysterious woman from Hawthorne’s yesterdays. In this supernatural mystery, more than just shadows exist between the darkness and the dawn. This historical ghost story was based on true events in Hawthorne’s life. Between the Darkness and the Dawn was originally published by Whistling Shade Literary Journal.

Purchase Link

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Between-Darkness-Dawn-Short-Story-ebook/dp/B00TEKS8E2

Smashwords.com  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/591916

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/between-the-darkness-and-the-dawn-a-short-story-paula-cappa/1122774075

Apple Books https://books.apple.com/us/book/between-the-darkness-and-the-dawn-a-short-story/id1057761874

Author Bio and Social Media

Paula Cappa is a multi-award winning author of supernatural, metaphysical, and mysterious fiction. She is the recipient of the Gold Medal from Global Book Awards, the Chanticleer Book Award, and the American Book Fest Best Books Award Finalist for her novel Greylock. She also earned the prestigious Eric Hoffer Book Award, the Silver Medal at Global Book Awards, the Bronze Medal from Readers’ Favorite International Awards in Supernatural Suspense, and is a Gothic Readers Book Club Award Winner in Outstanding Fiction.

She is the author of Greylock, The Dazzling Darkness, and Night Sea Journey—print editions published by Crispin Books, Milwaukee WI.Cappa’s short fiction has appeared in ParABnormal Magazine, Coffin Bell Literary Journal, Unfading Daydream, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Whistling Shade Literary Journal, SmokeLong Quarterly, Sirens Call Ezine, Every Day Fiction, Fiction365, Twilight Times Ezine, and in anthologies Journals of Horror: Found Fiction, Mystery Time, and Human Writes Literary Journal. Many of her short stories are now Kindle Singles on Amazon. Paula Cappa is a freelance copy editor and writes a short story blog, Reading Fiction Blog, at her website at paulacappa.wordpress.com. She is Co-Chair of the Pound Ridge Authors Society in Pound Ridge, NY.

Website and Reading Fiction Blog:  paulacappa.wordpress.com

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/paula.cappa.94

Goodreads URL:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6553133.Paula_Cappa

 Twitter:     https://twitter.com/PaulaCappa1 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/paula_cappa/

Author page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Paula-Cappa/e/B009P2HZ7A/

Silver Under Nightfall by Rin Chupeco and Daphne by Josh Malerman #bookreview #horror #asianmyth #vampires #LGBTQ

I know I’ve been featuring more reviews than usual lately (and you’re probably getting a little tired of them), but I’ve been trying to get the September releases posted before Bad Moon Rising takes over the month of October. The fun starts tomorrow with the preview of BMR authors!

Full of court intrigue, queer romance, and terrifying monsters—this gothic epic fantasy will appeal to fans of Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree and the adult animated series Castlevania.

Remy Pendergast is many things: the only son of the Duke of Valenbonne (though his father might wish otherwise), an elite bounty hunter of rogue vampires, and an outcast among his fellow Reapers. His mother was the subject of gossip even before she eloped with a vampire, giving rise to the rumors that Remy is half-vampire himself. Though the kingdom of Aluria barely tolerates him, Remy’s father has been shaping him into a weapon to fight for the kingdom at any cost.

When a terrifying new breed of vampire is sighted outside of the city, Remy prepares to investigate alone. But then he encounters the shockingly warmhearted vampire heiress Xiaodan Song and her infuriatingly arrogant fiancé, vampire lord Zidan Malekh, who may hold the key to defeating the creatures—though he knows associating with them won’t do his reputation any favors. When he’s offered a spot alongside them to find the truth about the mutating virus Rot that’s plaguing the kingdom, Remy faces a choice.

It’s one he’s certain he’ll regret.

But as the three face dangerous hardships during their journey, Remy develops fond and complicated feelings for the couple. He begins to question what he holds true about vampires, as well as the story behind his own family legacy. As the Rot continues to spread across the kingdom, Remy must decide where his loyalties lie: with his father and the kingdom he’s been trained all his life to defend or the vampires who might just be the death of him. 

I’m a fan of Chupeco’s YA books and jumped at the chance to read their first foray into the adult genre. I nearly did a happy dance when I learned the story involves vampires.

Remy’s life hasn’t been an easy one. He’s a vampire hunter but is shunned by other hunters because of rumors his mother ran away with a vampire – and Remy might be half vampire. His father, a human and former hunter, is ambitious, power-hungry, and constantly demeans Remy. He also pimps Remy out to the wives of men who hold strategic positions in society in order to gain information. Trust me, no Father of the Year trophies will ever grace this guy’s mantle. As a result of all this, Remy doesn’t think highly of himself and believes he’s not worthy of kindness from anyone. He’s definitely an easy character to root for.

When a new breed of vampire shows up, Remy finds himself teamed up with an engaged vampire couple, both of them high up in their respective courts. Having read several vampire books, I liked this different take on a mutant strain of vamps. I also enjoyed seeing a human and vampires working alongside each other, encountering plenty of obstacles along the way, in order to discover who’s behind the Rot. What Remy lacks in self-esteem he more than makes up for as a hunter and can hold his own in a fight. And there are plenty of bloody ones in this story. It’s also full of gothic atmosphere, and the polyamorous relationship that develops between the three of them is pretty amusing at times because of differing personalities. Seeing Remy begin to realize he’s worthy of love and kindness also comes with some heartfelt moments.

At over five hundred pages, this is a chunk of a novel that moves at a brisk pace. It’s not listed as a series on Goodreads, but the ending makes me believe a sequel will be coming – and I’ll absolutely be reading it. HIghly recommend to fans of supernatural mystery.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

It’s the last summer for Kit Lamb: The last summer before college. The last summer with her high school basketball team, and with Dana, her best friend. The last summer before her life begins.

But the night before the big game, one of the players tells a ghost story about Daphne, a girl who went to their school many years ago and died under mysterious circumstances. Some say she was murdered, others that she died by her own hand. And some say that Daphne is a murderer herself. They also say that Daphne is still out there, obsessed with revenge, and will appear to kill again anytime someone thinks about her.

After Kit hears the story, her teammates vanish, one by one, and Kit begins to suspect that the stories about Daphne are real . . . and to fear that her own mind is conjuring the killer. Now it’s a race against time as Kit searches for the truth behind the legend and learns to face her own fears—before the summer of her life becomes the last summer of her life.

Mixing a nostalgic coming-of-age story and an instantly iconic female villain with an innovative new vision of classic horror, Daphne is an unforgettable thriller as only Josh Malerman could imagine it.

When you’re told not to think about a certain thing, see how well you do. It’s not easy. At all. In this novel, if you think about Daphne, she comes for you. And you won’t survive the visit.

Daphne is kind of an urban legend in this town. Seven feet tall, the owner of a muscle car, and rumored to be a murderer, she was an outcast in high school, but has been dead for many years. Or has she? When one of the basketball players tells a ghost story about Daphne to the team, the body count begins a couple days later. With her friends dying one by one in horrific ways, Kit is sure it’s only a matter of time before Daphne pays her a visit. Can she be stopped?

If you’re a fan of both basketball and horror, you’ll be thrilled with this book. Basketball isn’t one of my interests, so I skimmed over a good bit of those parts. But when Daphne is on the page? I couldn’t look away. Those scenes are creepy, bloodcurdling, and exactly what I’d hoped. For me, this had the feel of an 80s slasher movie, and it was something I really liked. As a KISS fan, I also appreciated them being mentioned, but chuckled over Kit not knowing who they were.

Daphne is a chilling blend of horror and psychological thriller that may keep you awake at night. Just try not to think about her. Good luck.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral by Darlene Foster #bookreview #childrensbooks #travel #mystery

Amanda explores the exciting streets of Paris, the fabulous Palace of Versailles and the gardens of the painter Claude Monet, while being drawn into the mystery surrounding the destructive fire of Notre Dame cathedral.

Amanda is in love! With Paris – the city of love. She’s in awe of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and Notre Dame Cathedral. While there, she gets to work as a volunteer and stay in a famous book store, along with her bestie, Leah, and Leah’s eccentric Aunt Jenny. A dream come true for a book lover like Amanda.

Except, while she’s at the Paris Opera House there is a bomb threat. Then the lights go out during their visit to the Louvre. Worst of all, a devastating fire blazes in Notre Dame. Why does a mysterious man, who claims to be a busker, writer and artist, show up every time something bad happens?

Join Amanda as she explores the exciting streets of Paris, the fabulous Palace of Versailles and the gardens of the painter Claude Monet, all the time looking for clues as to who would want to destroy such a beautiful, historic cathedral.

Join Amanda as she explores the exciting streets and sites around Paris, all the while looking for clues as to who would want to destroy such a beautiful, historic place.

I’ve armchair traveled with Amanda a few times now, and I was thrilled to experience France with her this time around.

Even though these books are geared toward the younger crowd, I learn something about the different countries every time. Here are just a few examples from France: the purpose of gargoyles, there’s a lake beneath the Palais Garnier (just like Phantom of the Opera!), and the Louvre was originally a royal palace. Evidently I never paid much attention in history class.

Amanda has a talent for attracting trouble, and she’s not in Paris long before strange occurrences begin. Why do they keep running into the same man everywhere they go? Who went through Aunt Jenny’s belongings in their room at Shakespeare and Company? Can their new friend Pierre be trusted? Amanda and her friend Leah (who’s beginning to show signs of classic teen moodiness) find themselves in the middle of a mystery all while touring the wonderful sites (and food!) Paris has to offer.

This is a fast-paced story easily finished in under two hours. I highly recommend this series as a way to introduce kids to different countries and cultures. Solving mysteries with Amanda is just a bonus.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus #bookreview #YA #mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

Be sure to keep your friends close . . . and your secrets closer.

Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favorite teacher—a story that made headlines after the teacher’s body was found by three Saint Ambrose students in the woods behind their school. The case was never solved. Now that Brynn is moving home and starting her dream internship at a true-crime show, she’s determined to find out what really happened.

The kids who found Mr. Larkin are her way in, and her ex–best friend, Tripp Talbot, was one of them. Without his account of events, the other two kids might have gone down for Mr. Larkin’s murder. They’ve never forgotten what Tripp did for them that day. Just like he hasn’t forgotten that everything he told the police was a lie.

Digging into the past is bound to shake up the present, and as Brynn begins to investigate what happened in the woods that day, she begins to uncover secrets that might change everything—about Saint Ambrose, about Mr. Larkin, and about her ex-best friend, Tripp Talbot.

Four years ago someone got away with murder. The most terrifying part is that they never left.

I’ve read several books by this author and always know I’m in for a compelling mystery that keeps me guessing.

Brynn has known since middle school that she wants to be a journalist. After a juvenile prank she’s blamed for (she’s innocent), she’s fired as editor of her school newspaper. Luckily, due to her dad’s job, the family relocates back to the town they left four years ago. Brynn then takes a leap of faith, uses a clever approach, and talks her way into an internship on a true crime show. She even pitches a story idea to them – the unsolved murder of her favorite teacher, Mr. Larkin, four years ago. The catch? Three of her classmates, including one who’s her ex-best friend, found the body. Her assignment is to snoop around and see what she can dig up. Someone’s not talking, and once she’s focused on a story, Brynn is like a dog with a bone and refuses to give up. Even when it may endanger her life and others.

Tripp, Brynn’s ex-bestie, won that title when he humiliated her in front of their gym class shortly before she moved away. He regrets what he did, although he had his reasons. Since the horrific day he, Shane, and Charlotte discovered Mr. Larkin’s body, Tripp has been hanging onto secrets that are slowly eating him alive.

I thought I had this one figured out somewhere around the middle, but after previous experiences with McManus’s books I should have known my early assumptions are usually way off base. With her stories I’ve learned that my perceptions will change and new layers to the plot are waiting to be revealed just around the corner.

With plenty of suspects to put on your list and lots of intriguing characters (shoutout to Brynn’s clever sister, Ellie), this mystery will keep you glued to the pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin #bookreview #thriller #mystery

Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there. When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers―a stranger who now lives in her apartment and forces her out in the cold. She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing, and in its place is a bloodstained knife. That’s when she sees that her hands are covered in black pen, scribbled messages like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.

Two years ago, Liv was living with her best friend, dating a new man, and thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine. Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers. Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, the same message that’s inked on her hands. What did she do last night? And why does she remember nothing from the past two years? Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life. But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget―permanently.

In the vein of SJ Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Christopher Nolan’s cult classic Memento, Megan Goldin’s Stay Awake is an electrifying novel that plays with memory and murder. 

I still remember watching the movie Memento the first time and being totally blown away by the concept. When it was used as a comp title for this book, there was no doubt I’d request it.

Just like Leonard in Memento, Liz Reese makes notes to herself on her hands and arms – Stay awake, Don’t trust anyone, Don’t answer the phone. Every time she falls asleep her mind resets to two years ago, and the last thing she remembers is answering her office phone on a sunny summer morning. A lot happened in that time span. Imagine losing two years of your life – people you can’t remember, places you’ve lived, things you’ve done. Even worse, losing loved ones during that period and every time you’re told about their death you experience the grief all over again. Maybe you can’t exactly relate to what Liz is going through, but it sure is easy to emphathize with her.

This book had me hook, line, and sinker, and I plowed through it as quickly as I could turn the pages. I rooted for Liz to stay awake and remember the crucial details from her past. She hits one obstacle after another, but is fortunate to have found some compassionate people who are also willing to offer help. Around the halfway mark I was pretty sure of the identity of the culprit (I was correct), but I kept waiting for the motive. Yes, something happened that might make that person angry, but based on the information given about them, it seemed completely out of character. I’d hoped some earth-shattering reveal would be made at the end – but it wasn’t. And I felt cheated.

Judging by other reviews, I’m very much in the minority with this opinion, so take it with a grain of salt. Maybe I even missed some crucial line of detail somewhere along the way. This could turn out to be one of the best reads of the year for someone else. Before the ending I was completely engrossed in this book, so I wouldn’t hesitate to read something else by this author.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.