A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor #shortstories #horror #suspense #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog

The debut short story collection from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man, featuring ten bone-chilling and mind-bending tales

Timeslips. Doomsday scenarios. Killer butterflies. C. J. Tudor’s novels are widely acclaimed for their dark, twisty suspense plots, but with A Sliver of Darkness, she pulls us even further into her dizzying imagination.

In Final Course, the world has descended into darkness, but a group of old friends make time for one last dinner party. In Runaway Blues, thwarted love, revenge, and something very nasty stowed in a hat box converge. In Gloria, a strange girl at a service station endears herself to a cold-hearted killer, but can a leopard really change its spots? And in I’m Not Ted, a case of mistaken identity has unforeseen, fatal consequences.

Riveting and explosively original, A Sliver of Darkness is C. J. Tudor at her most wicked and uninhibited.

I’ve had The Chalk Man in my TBR for longer that I’d like, but so many books! When I was offered an ARC of the author’s short stories, I knew the time had come to get acquainted with her. And now I’m kicking myself for waiting this long to read her novels.

One of the things I liked best about this collection was the author’s introduction to each story – personal experiences that sparked the idea, where she was when the idea came to her, etc. I always love hearing origin stories. Each of these captivated me, and I could probably have finished the book in one sitting (it’s a little over 250 pages), but I did have a few favorites.

End of the Liner – What if a pandemic/apocalyptic event/catastrophe made living on land impossible? In this story some passengers have lived their whole lives on a cruise ship that never docks. Once they turn seventy-five they’re “retired”. And by retired I mean tossed overboard.

Runaway Blues – The author says this is probably her “most King-esque short story”. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Blues music, dancing, young couples in love, and hat boxes that you may not want to open.

Dust – A woman checks into a hotel to get away from the stresses of being dumped by her boyfriend. But is that where she really is? Sometimes it’s hard to face the consequences of our actions.

If you’re looking for a compelling, quick read, A Sliver of Darkness 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.

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.

#BadMoonRising Boondock Butcher by Chuck Buda #horror #suspense

Happy Friday! Many of us remember childhood sleepovers where we told ghost stories. But this author’s recounting of his sleepover will send chills down your spine. He also introduces his most recent writing distraction – and the cuteness is off the charts. Welcome Chuck Buda!

Which Stephen King novel unsettled you the most?

The Stephen King novel that unsettled me the most was Pet Semetary. I read the book late at night one summer, next to an open window. While the book was creepy, the scares were amplified by the nightly shriek of wild cats fighting outside my window. I would have to check under my bed before turning off the lights. IT was a close second because the story preyed on the fears in my mind. I suppose if clowns shrieked and fought outside my window then IT would have surpassed Pet Semetary easily.

Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

The unsolved murder that fascinates me the most would have to be the Dyatlov Pass Incident. I have read numerous books on the eerie event and the intrigue is overwhelming. Tales of strange lights in the area, a sketchy photo of a hairy monster and the random injuries or positions of the bodies check off all my boxes for things Bigfoot, UFO and unknown. If the event had taken place in more favorable conditions or a place less remote than the Ural Mountains, the potential explanations would make far more sense. It freaks me out to think about this crazy, unsolved murder.

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

Hands down, I would much rather watch a horror movie marathon than go to a real haunted house. It is easier to shake off scares from celluloid. I’m deathly afraid of bringing home an attachment from a haunted house. I love to watch ghost hunting television programs and often daydream about visiting a real haunted location. But I couldn’t do it in real life. True story, I stayed at a friend’s house once, a documented haunted house, and I couldn’t sleep the whole night. I insisted my friends lock the bedroom door. In the middle of the night, I heard footsteps in the hall and then the doorknob jiggled as if the person tried to come inside but found it locked. Moments later, the footsteps were inside the room, approaching my bed on the other side of the room. I had the pillow jammed into my mouth and the covers pulled up over my head. Nothing happened but I trembled, awake all night. The next morning, none of the guys who crashed in the room with me had heard a thing. Goosebumps!

Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing? 

Pets have never gotten in the way of my writing until recently. We welcomed a new puppy into our lives (a Cavapoo) and he is a handful. He gets into lots of trouble chewing furniture and tearing apart our clothing but he is sooooooo cute. His name is Bobo and he is almost four months old now. The interruptions are well worth it!

What books did you grow up reading?

I grew up reading Encyclopedia Brown mysteries, Edgar Allan Poe and The Hardy Boys. Then I moved on to James Bond novels. With all the suspense and thrills in my formative reading years, it was a natural progression to Stephen King books at age thirteen.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on a six-book classic western series. The Sentinel series will be rapidly released over the next year (one book every other month) starting this month. I am very excited about this series. Fans of my Son of Earp weird western series have already expressed interest in this new venture.

Local legends aren’t what they seem.

Nestled within the remote Tennessee mountains, a small town hides an ugly secret. A bloody wound that has never healed.

Renee Hunter finds herself broken down on a dark, lonely road. A local Samaritan helps her out. But he may have just delivered her into the belly of the beast.

Renee discovers that young women like her disappear in these woods. Now she must fight for survival.

But the Boondock Butcher stands in her way.

Purchase Links

Boondock Butcher

Sentinel Series

Son of Earp Series

Gushers Series

Debt Collector Series

Author Bio and Social Media

Chuck Buda writes across multiple genres including westerns, horror, and crime thrillers. He loves to eat pizza, drink whiskey and craft beers, listen to Norwegian Black Metal and search for answers about Bigfoot and UFOs. Plus, he works very hard to fit quotes from Seinfeld or Big Bang Theory into every conversation. That’s a ton of fun in one man.

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Follow Chuck on BookBub:

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/chuck-buda

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https://www.goodreads.com/author/Chuck_Buda

Chuck Buda co-hosts The Mando Method Podcast on Project Entertainment Network with author, Armand Rosamilia. They talk about all aspects of writing.

#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 House of Sorrow by Joan Hall #thriller #shortstory #suspense

I share this author’s disappointment in ghost tours – we’ve yet to see a ghost. Seems like its something that should be guaranteed on that kind of tour, right? The Legends and Lore posts on her blog feature jaw-dropping and uncanny mysteries/legends – I highly recommend you check them out. Furry friends have been stealing the spotlight this month, and she brings a couple of cuties with her today. Welcome Joan Hall!

Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Can I cheat a bit by mentioning another type of unsolved mystery? The story of D. B. Cooper has always intrigued me. He hijacked a commercial airliner in 1971, demanded 200K in ransom money, then parachuted out of the plane somewhere over the Pacific Northwest. A portion of the ransom money was found years later, but there’s been no sign of the man (living or dead).

Specific to a murder, it would have to be the story of Lizzie Borden. Did she really give her mother forty whacks, then gave her father forty-one?

If you could have a spooky Halloween pet (black cat, owl, bat, rat, wolf, etc.), which would you choose?

A black cat, of course. Matter of fact, I have a black cat. Little Bit found us and he’s often my writing “helper.”

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

A real haunted house, of course. I’ve been on Ghost Walks in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Jefferson, Texas. Jefferson is a small town about an hour from where I live. Still haven’t seen a ghost. “Sigh…”

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

Does going to a coffee shop count? Seriously, I haven’t traveled to a specific location, but when I’m out and about—even locally—I’m always looking for ideas, observing people, etc. I’ve had short stories inspired by some of my observations of people.

Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing? 

As I said, my cat Little Bit is my “helper.” My other cat, Tucker, is never far away from me when I’m on the sofa with my laptop. Both have served as the inspiration for pets in a couple of my stories, so yes, you could say they do help – even if they sometimes want to crawl on my lap during my writing time.

What books did you grow up reading?

I read a variety of books, but one of my favorites from childhood was Charlotte’s Web. I’m terrified of spiders, but I loved Charlotte and Wilber—even Templeton. After reading my first Agatha Christie book as a teenager, I was hooked on mystery and suspense.

Dream home or damned home?

Ruth Hazelton is over the moon when her husband Lee agrees with the nineteenth-century Victorian in Madeira, New Mexico, is the perfect home for them. While he starts his new job as police chief, she sets about unpacking and decorating.

But it’s not long before Ruth needs more. She becomes a fixture in the community, making time for everyone, volunteering, hosting events—she’s every bit the social butterfly her husband is not. Through her friendships, she learns several former residents of her home met with untimely deaths. If she were superstitious, she might fear a curse, but such nonsense doesn’t faze her.

Until the unthinkable happens.

Now, as the end of Ruth’s life draws near, she must find a way to convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow.

Purchase Link

Amazon

Author Bio and Social Media

Website: https://joanhall.net

Blog: https://joanhall.blog/

Books: https://www.joanhall.net/books/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joanhallwrites

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoanHallWrites

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joanhall2/

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Joan-Hall/e/B01FNFO1RO

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/joan-hall

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15256532.Joan_Hall

#BadMoonRising A Killer Strikes (A Shade Darker #1) by Georgia Rose #thriller #suspense

Are you a thriller lover? Today’s author is featuring the first book in her new domestic thriller series – look for the preorder link below. She’d never bring a haunted doll into her home – but doesn’t mind buying one for someone else. Consider yourself warned if you receive a gift from her! Welcome Georgia Rose!

Which Stephen King novel unsettled you the most?

Oh, definitely Misery. The setting, the intensity of possible discovery and in the film that terrible scene with the ankles that makes me hide behind my hands every time. Although as I type this I’m now thinking, The Shining… and both involve writers… interesting.

Would you buy a doll that you knew was haunted?

Nope, unless I was buying it for someone else. Because that’s the sort of person I am – haha! Otherwise, I keep haunted articles well away from my home. If I experienced any type of haunting, I suspect it would freak me out.

What is the spookiest ghost story you’ve ever heard?

So, I found this one:

Sometimes the very short ghost stories are the best, and this tale, from Reddit via Buzzfeed, tells the story of a father putting his young son to bed:

“I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, “Daddy, check for monsters under my bed.” I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, “Daddy, there’s somebody on my bed.””

This sums up what creeps me out. Somebody who shouldn’t be there already in my house, and possibly in place of a member of my family! Shudder.

How do you use social media as an author? 

Extremely badly is the honest truth. I’m very good at sharing the blog posts of others on social media, usually Twitter, but never get round to putting out stuff on my own books. But I’m aiming to improve with the new series on the horizon. I’m trying to get better at making images and adding quotes and snippets of reviews to jazz things up a bit. Plus, I am trying to keep to a schedule to post regularly now in the buildup, and thanks to Terry Tyler I’m even scheduling some tweets. Yay!

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

Yes, I went to Edinburgh and gathered the research I thought I needed but, as yet, I’ve not finished that book. I was trying to work out if I could squeeze it into the new series but I’m not sure I can.

Do you regret leaving out something in the final draft of any of your books?

Yes, actually. I do use bad language in my books but only when it’s necessary. However, there is an assault in Parallel Lies and in real life the attacker would have used a really, really bad word and I held back from doing so. I’ve regretted the lack of authenticity ever since.

What are you working on now?

Well, I have the first two books of my new A Shade Darker series already on pre-order – A Killer Strikes (to be published 1 January 2023) and Shape of Revenge (to be published 1 February 2023) and I’m keen to get the third book up on the 1 March 2023. I am way behind on it at the moment though.

The perfect family… The perfect murders…

A family massacred. A village in mourning. Can anyone sleep safely while a killer is on the loose?

Laura Percival, owner of The Stables, notices something wrong at her friend’s house when out on her morning ride. Further investigation reveals scenes she’ll never forget.

While the police are quick to accuse, Laura is less so, defending those around her as she struggles to make sense of the deaths. And all the time she wonders if she really knew her friends at all.

A chance encounter opens up a line of investigation that uncovers a secret life. One that Laura is much closer to than she ever realised.

A Killer Strikes is a gripping domestic thriller. If you like character-driven action, suspenseful storytelling and dark revelations then you’ll love this exciting novel.

Purchase Links

Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/AKillerStrikes

Goodreads: A Killer Strikes (A Shade Darker #1) by Georgia Rose | Goodreads

BookBub: A Killer Strikes by Georgia Rose – BookBub

Genres: Psychological thriller, domestic suspense

Formats: eBook (available to pre-order now), paperback and hardback to be available by 1 January 2023.

Author Bio and Social Media

Georgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. Following completion of the trilogy she was asked for more and so wrote a short story, The Joker, which is based on a favourite character from the series and the eBook is available to download for free at the retailer of your choice.

Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual blending of genre and its sequel, Loving Vengeance, has now completed The Ross Duology.

She is now embarking on her third series – A Shade Darker.

Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her passion for people watching and her overactive imagination.

info@georgiarosebooks.com

georgiarosebooks.com

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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.

Teen Killers In Love (Teen Killers Club #2) by Lily Sparks #bookreview #YA #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

The Teen Killers Club is on the brink of destruction, with one faction pitted against another in a deadly game of survival. Erik and Signal are part of the group who’ve had their “kill switches” disabled, and the others are under orders to hunt them down—or meet their own demise. Now, Erik and Signal have to find a way to neutralize the others’ switches and clear Signal’s name. In the middle of a manhunt that is going viral and turning them into an internet-age Bonnie and Clyde.

Erik and Signal are both Class As—the most dangerous and manipulative criminal profile—but Erik is the ultimate Class A, with ten kills to his name and a secret in his past that will change everything.

As if being hunted down wasn’t enough, Erik is determined to get Signal admit that she loves him. But Signal is hellbent on crushing her own growing attraction.

It’s a race against time to save the Teen Killers Club from its worst nightmare—having to kill the friends they need more than ever. 

The premise of the first book in this series hooked me immediately – a camp where Class A teens, the most dangerous and manipulative criminal profiles, are trained to be assassins.

With their kill switches now disabled, Erik and Signal are on a quest for evidence that will prove Signal’s innocence. They need to move fast, because their friends from assassin camp have been dispatched to locate them. Bringing them back to camp alive may be optional. With the help of a friend, contacts on the outside, and weirdly starstruck fans, the two of them slowly make their way back to Signal’s hometown. Some pretty hefty secrets are revealed, but I’m still unsure who to believe. Luckily, there’s a third book coming that should answer my questions.

All of these teens have allegedly killed someone and been deemed unrehabilitable by a psychological test. Their lives now consist of being sent on numerous missions to assassinate designated targets until they reach their thirties (if they live that long) at which time they’ll be killed. Can’t have any loose ends out in the real world. But this group forms strong bonds and friendships with each other. Can people change? Is there good inside someone after they’ve done bad things? Are they a danger to society and themselves? Those are the questions some of these characters are asking about themselves and others.

What I could have done without was the whiplash relationship angst between Erik and Signal – mostly due to her flip-flopping indecision. She wants to be with him on one page, then changes her mind on the next. Honestly, I’m surprised Erik didn’t leave her on the side of the road somewhere. I was more invested in them finding the evidence and exposing the camp to the public.

If you enjoy government conspiracies, psychological thrillers, and lots of morally gray characters, you’ll find all that in this series.

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

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey #bookreview #suspense #paranormal

“Come home.” Vera’s mother called and Vera obeyed. In spite of their long estrangement, in spite of the memories — she’s come back to the home of a serial killer. Back to face the love she had for her father and the bodies he buried there.

Coming home is hard enough for Vera, and to make things worse, she and her mother aren’t alone. A parasitic artist has moved into the guest house out back, and is slowly stripping Vera’s childhood for spare parts. He insists that he isn’t the one leaving notes around the house in her father’s handwriting… but who else could it possibly be?

There are secrets yet undiscovered in the foundations of the notorious Crowder House. Vera must face them, and find out for herself just how deep the rot goes.

The house dripping blood on the cover first grabbed my attention, but the creepy description made me request this book. A serial killer and a possible ghost?

Vera’s mother is dying and asks her to come home. They’re estranged and for good reason – Daphne is a horrible person and doesn’t deserve to be a mother. Through two timelines, one in the present and one in the past, the reader discovers just how terrible she was to Vera when she was a child. Her father was a serial killer and without going into too much detail, let’s just say it’s had an adverse effect on Vera’s life in more ways than one. Talk about being cursed with bad parents.

From the description I assumed this would be a dark read. And it is. Some parts are brutal and disturbing, but the story is about a serial killer so that’s to be expected. What surprised me was the slow pace – almost a snail’s pace at times. I listened to the audiobook ARC, but if I’d had an ebook ARC instead I probably would have skimmed several pages.

The notes Vera finds in her father’s handwriting and whatever it is that keeps moving her bed are delightfully macabre, but the story takes a turn I never suspected. And it’s a good one. Just Like Home is a twisted tale of toxic family dynamics with a few surprises along the way. Just be prepared for the darkness.

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