#BadMoonRising Eternal Road: The Final Stop by John W. Howell #paranormal #supernatural #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

If today’s author’s name isn’t familiar to you, I’ll bet you know his lovable furry friends Twiggy and Lucy from the pics of them on his blog (they totally steal the spotlight). Discussion has been made on previous BMR posts about the hazards of dunking for apples in the time of COVID, but I think this author has come up with a viable alternative. You just may not be sober once you finally latch onto that apple. Welcome John W. Howell!

Would you rather dunk for apples or carve a Jack o’ lantern?

I would rather carve a Jack o’ lantern. Before I get into why I like to carve Jack o’ lanterns, let me point out in the time of COVID how creepy it is to dunk for apples. Someone is coughing up a storm and then placing an unmasked head into a vat of apples floating in the water. They come up with one, and the excess water runs out of both sides of the mouth back into the vat. Can you say Sleeping Beauty or Snow White side effects? Good gravy, folks. Let’s not even think about dunking for apples unless they are floating in 200 proof moonshine. Now to the Jack o’ lantern part of the question. I have been carving them for at least 70 years. I love to make pictures and words and funny faces. I also backlight my creations with a candle and parchment paper over the openings so the candle flame doesn’t show and ruin the effect.

If you watch horror movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, covers your eyes, or falls asleep?

When watching horror movies, I’m the one up in the grill of each stupid character. You know the ones. They back into a dark corner of a cellar or run for the car. Come on, people. How many movies do you have to see to catch on? Also, you don’t say something stupid like, “Well, I guess Jason is dead.” You have to know you are just jinxing yourself. And to that one who absolutely must take a shower right in the middle of all the mayhem. I have no sympathy for you at all. I do enjoy seeing you streak through the woods, trying to cover up with a towel and screaming your head off. Was the shower worthwhile?

Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?

Whoa, this question just scared the pants off me. I can’t imagine that seeing figures in your peripheral vision was a thing. I thought it was just me and some weird brain abnormality. I have been seeing figures in my peripheral vision for years. Those little black suckers dart in and out of my field of vision. I have pretty much come to the point of ignoring them. Why not? They pretty much ignore me. I have tried to make contact, but nooo. They jump behind me and then dare me to make a fool of myself by twirling around to see if I can catch them. It becomes a problem in the line at Starbucks. Just when I get my grande and before I put in cream, I see ‘em and twirl around only to lay a coffee-colored swath across some poor civilian’s white outfit. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little, but it could happen.

How do you celebrate when you finish writing a book?

Finishing a book seems to be a challenging point in time to pinpoint. There’s the first draft which I guess could count as finishing a book. But it is usually a mess, so I wouldn’t want that to be my celebration point. Next, there is the final draft. Sure, I guess that could be the finish, except then there is the professional edit. So not yet time to celebrate because after the edit comes the formatting. Holy Crap, when is this dog ever going to be finished? After formatting comes publish. All right now, we’re talking—time to celebrate. Yeah, but my stomach is still rolling from the tension, so I doubt anything will stay with me. Well, let’s just say when my books are complete, I have a giant slug of Keopectate and a bourbon.

What do you do to get inside your characters’ heads?

The more accurate question as it applies to me is what do my characters do to get inside my head. I’m usually minding my own business working on the book when all of a sudden, I get this call from the blue. There is no ringing like a telephone, but there is a connection. Before I know it, I’m having a conversation with a being that is a figment of my imagination. Under these circumstances, I am definitely at a disadvantage because I maintain an arrogant view that I understand my creation. Nothing is further from the truth. These things have a mind of their own, and I’m just glad they can’t use the keyboard. If they did, there is no telling what kind of story could get written. I’m the only thing standing between them and what I could describe is an outrageous collection of narcissistic rambling with my name on it.

What are you working on now?

I am working on the sequel to Eternal Road – The last stop. It doesn’t have a title yet but is a story of the two main characters from Eternal Road who can help rescue another soul lost on the Eternal Road. The soul is a combat pilot who stayed with his fighter in Afghanistan rather than bailing out, knowing the plane would crash into a school. His name is Ryan Sanders, and he is being escorted on the Eternal Road by none other than Eddie Rickenbacker. It seems Eddie and Ryan have come up missing, and there is speculation that Lucifer has had a hand in their disappearance. They were last seen in aerial combat over France in 1918. Sam and James must find the pair and help Ryan chose his Eternal Home.

James Wainwright picks up a hitchhiker and discovers two things

1. The woman he picks up is his childhood sweetheart, only Seventeen years older.

2. He is no longer of this world.

James began a road trip alone in his 1956 Oldsmobile. He stops for a hitchhiker only to discover she is his childhood sweetheart, Sam, who disappeared seventeen years before. James learns from Sam falling asleep miles back caused him to perish in a one-car accident. He also comes to understand that Sam was taken and murdered all those years ago, and now she has come back to help him find his eternal home.

The pair visit a number of times and places and are witness to a number of historical events. The rules dictate that they do no harm to the time continuum. Trying to be careful, they inadvertently come to the attention of Lucifer who would love to have their souls as his subjects. They also find a threat to human survival and desperately need to put in place the fix necessary to save mankind.

The question becomes, will James find his eternal home in grace or lose the battle with Satan for his immortal soul and the future of human life with it? If you like time-travel, adventure, mystery, justice, and the supernatural, this story is for you.

Purchase Link

Kindle Universal link  mybook.to/EternalRoad

Author Bio and Social Media

John is an award-winning author who, after an extensive business career, began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written five other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. The paperback versions are also available in the Indie Lector store

John lives in Lakeway, Texas, with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Contact John

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

BookBub  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/john-w-howell

#BadMoonRising The Grimy and the Greedy by Meaghan Curley #paranormal #comedy #thriller

It’s time to change gears a bit. Today’s book is a paranormal thriller, but with a dash of comedy added. The author admits to hearing voices in her head – read on to see who’s behind them. Welcome Meaghan Curley!

Which urban legend scares you the most?

Trickle down economics. 

Have you ever had a tarot card reading?

Yeah but I kept lying to the fortune teller to see if they were legit so my reading didn’t go well at all. LOL 

Was there a horror movie you refused to watch because the previews were too scary?

The 2019 Lion King remake. 

Would you and your main character get along?

We’re both brash, crass and full of sass so hell yeah. 

If you decided to write a spinoff of a side character, who would you choose?

PJ Clements the monster for sure. 

What do you do to get inside your characters’ heads?

I’m that writer who “hears” characters’ voices before I “see” their physical traits so it’s easy for me to get inside their heads because I hear their tones, accents, diction, the cascade of their voices long before I even know who they are structurally. (I forgot who said it but someone said writing is the socially acceptable form of schizophrenia and I firmly agree with that because I’m convinced if I wasn’t a writer I would’ve been locked up years ago).

The odious Jeanette Sobriquet is dead and her granddaughter, Fizzy, is too relieved to grieve. Unfortunately for her, when Fizzy announces her refusal to attend the abusive woman’s funeral, her life becomes a living nightmare. Now, she has demons, ghosts, and the threat of homelessness hunting her down, all demanding she caves into the dead woman’s iron will.

Bar owner, Affidious Dixon, is forced to carry out Fizzy’s dead grandmother’s last requests; otherwise, the ghost of the Bosnian war criminal that is following him around will murder his mother.

The Grimy & the Greedy is a comedic paranormal thriller about one woman’s fight to save herself from tyrannical death customs and one man’s journey to save his mother from pure evil. 

Purchase Links


Barnes & Noble

Author Bio

Meaghan Curley is a writer from New York with two novels, “Girl: Repurposed” and “the Grimy and the Greedy” and a chapbook out titled “Vulgar Wisdoms”. 

Social Media

Twitter link https://mobile.twitter.com/UncleMeag

#BadMoonRising Cold Dark Night: Legends of Madeira #1 by Joan Hall #thriller #suspense #mystery

Happy Friday! The urban legend tale shared by today’s author may send shivers up your spine and encourage you to pick up the pace when driving past cemeteries – it’s an eerie one. She brings the first book in her Legends of Madeira suspense/thriller series, Cold Dark Night. Welcome Joan Hall!

Which urban legend scares you most?

The Legend of La Llorona doesn’t really scare me, but I’m fascinated by it. This legend varies from state to state, but in Fort Stockton, Texas a “woman in white” was seen as late as the 1960s along a stretch of highway outside of town. She would “attach” herself to cars and ride for about ten miles. As a child, I heard a family story about my grandfather’s brother who died in the early 1900s. Three weeks before his sudden (and unexpected) death, he encountered a woman in white near a cemetery. She “rode” alongside his horse until he passed the cemetery gate.

Have you ever had a tarot card reading?

I haven’t had a tarot reading, but a relative used to read cards using a regular deck. Some things she “saw” actually came true, including the death of a neighbor. She said there would be a lot of controversy surrounding the death and she was right.

If you watch horror movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, covers your eyes, or falls asleep?

I don’t watch a lot of horror movies, but I used to cover my eyes if there was blood in any scene. I once made the mistake of eating dinner while watching the movie Seven. I had to stop the film. The only reason I wanted to see it is because I’m a fan of Morgan Freeman.

What do you do to get inside your characters’ heads?

I picture the scene or situation, then ask myself, “What would I do in this situation?” Sort of like acting out a movie in my mind.

Which book have you read more than once?

Mary Higgins Clark was one of my favorite authors. I’ve read several of her books more than once. Among my favorites are Remember Me and Moonlight Becomes You. A favorite childhood book was The Incredible Journey. I used to read it every year in the fall, even after I became an adult.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a collection of short stories for some time. They’re a mixed bag of ghost fiction, contemporary, suspense, and possibly one military fiction story. I’m also beginning the second book of my Legends of Madeira series.

New husband, new house, new town… and a new mystery to solve.

Tami Montgomery thought her police chief husband was going to be the only investigator in the family when she gave up her journalism career and moved with him to Madeira, New Mexico.

But after the historical society asks her to write stories for a book celebrating the town’s history, she becomes embroiled in a new mystery. If she can’t solve this one, she could lose everything. Her research uncovers a spate of untimely deaths of local law enforcement officials. Further digging reveals a common link—they all lived in the house she and Jason now share.

Tami isn’t a superstitious person, but the circumstances are too similar for coincidence. Then she unearths an even more disturbing pattern. And if history repeats itself, her husband will be the next to die.

Purchase Link


Bio and Social Links

From the time she was a small child, Joan Hall always enjoyed listening to a good story. The ones that often intrigued her most were those steeped in folklore, and her Scots-Irish relatives had plenty of them to tell.

At the age of ten, Joan decided she wanted to become a writer. Having written in the mystery and suspense genre, her Legends of Madeira series is the first in which she delves into folklore and legends.

When she’s not writing, Joan likes to spend time outdoors, observe the night skies, and explore old cemeteries. She also enjoys ghost walks and hearing the stories behind the “hauntings.” She and her husband share their Texas home with two cats.

You can connect with Joan at the following sites:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |   Bookbub  |  Goodreads  |  Instagram

#BadMoonRising Blaze In, Blaze Out by Joseph Lewis #thriller #mystery #indieauthor

Today I have a thriller to share with you that’s available for pre-order and will be released January 2022. Find out why his family refuses to watch movies with him and how he may have proof the figures in his peripheral vision exist. Welcome Joseph Lewis!

Would you rather dunk for apples or carve a Jack-o’-lantern?

Definitely, without any doubt or hesitation at all, I would carve a Jack-o’-lantern. The thought of sticking my head in a barrel where others had their drool and slobber and their mouths on the apples truly gags me. There is absolutely no way. Nope. Nada.

If you watch horror movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, covers your eyes, or falls asleep?

My wife and kids refuse to watch scary movies with me. In fact, they don’t enjoy watching movies with me. I ask too many questions. I talk. Every bad habit you can think of while watching movies- that’s me. It was only after my wife and I were married that I found out Kim would shut her eyes at scary parts. I never knew because I was glued to the screen. I’ve screamed. I dumped popcorn on the people sitting next to me. I seldom shut my eyes because I want to see what is happening and what is coming next. But, I’m noisy.

Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?

Absolutely. I consider myself a spiritual person. I believe in good, therefore, I believe in evil. I believe in angels and in helpful, caring spirits who guide us. I’ve written them into my novels- George’s grandfather; Brian’s twin brother. They are there to help, counsel, guide, and many times, to give comfort and serve as a sounding board. So, yes, I believe in ghosts or spirits and I believe I’ve seen or at least witnessed them in my life or around me. We’ve had lights suddenly turn on. We’ve had the faucet in the kitchen sink turn on. Our dog has barked at a “spot” in the living room. It makes life interesting.

Would you and your main character get along?

Absolutely! I like my characters. I have more in common, I think, with the adolescent boys in my stories. At first glance, you would see the boys as athletes, but you’d be missing significant character traits. They are sensitive, loving, caring, loyal to a fault, and, in Brian’s and George’s case, willing to sacrifice their lives if it meant their brothers could live. They laugh easily. They love one another. They are beyond tough. Several have a tough shell but are marshmallow on the inside. They have depth. They are fun. I think we’d be friends.

What do you do to get inside your characters’ heads?

I think it’s easy for me because of my background in psychology and counseling. This is my 46th year in education. I’ve been around kids all my like. I stand in the hallway and listen and watch them. I wander the cafeteria watching how they interact with each other, with adults. When I sit down to write, I use all of this information as I imagine my characters in various situations. Because I write thriller-crime-detective stories, I imagine one or more in situations that would stretch, pull, and test their mind, heart, and soul. As I said, it is easier for me than perhaps other writers.

Which book have you read more than once?

There are several. Lord of the Flies jumped to mind because the plot fascinated me. It pitted kids against one another, forcing them to choose sides. It created situations where good was challenged by evil. It gave us a scenario of what life might be like without rules. Ghost Story by Peter Straub and The Stand by Stephen King were two others. In Ghost Story, the real/imagined Fenny Bate scared the heck out of me. I couldn’t read it at night. The Stand is like Lord of the Flies in that there was the struggle between good and evil, the light and the dark. Characters had to rise to a different level, often challenging their own beliefs and abilities. Great books! I think I want to pick up one or more again!

If you could spend the day with another popular author, who would you choose?

I’ve learned so much by reading David Baldacci- action, mystery, and intrigue from the opening page with twists at the end; by reading John Sandford- his ability to describe action without clichés, and I love his characters- they are real to me; by reading Stephen King- his ability to make me laugh right along with sit on the edge of my seat; by reading Tony Hillerman- his ability to create a story with so very few characters in a setting (the Navajo Nation Reservation) I love and use in my writing. These are the authors I would love to spend an evening with. Talking, story-telling, laughing, learning from. And of course, I’d invite Robin Williams and Billy Crystal because I wouldn’t want it to get too serious. We all need to laugh.

Working with a joint multi-law enforcement task force, Detective Pat O’Connor infiltrated a Ukrainian crime family headed by Dmitry Andruko. O’Connor and his control, Detective Paul Eiselmann were the linchpins in the guilty verdict.

The two detectives thought it was over.

Eiselmann planned for a quiet weekend with his family at home. O’Connor planned on attending a high school soccer game and then head to Northern Wisconsin for a fishing trip with another cop, Detective Jamie Graff and four teenage, adopted brothers: George Tokay, Brian Evans, Brett McGovern, and Michael Two Feathers.

But Andruko is ruthless and vindictive. From his prison cell, he hires two contract killers to kill both O’Connor and Eiselmann and anyone else in the way. The killers can be anyone. The killers could be anywhere, and the killers could strike at any time.

The quiet weekend and the short vacation turn into a deadly nightmare as O’Connor’s and Eiselmann’s lives and the lives of the four boys are in peril. 

Purchase Link

Blaze In, Blaze Out available for preorder NOW at https://www.blackrosewriting.com/mystery/blazeinblazeout. Purchase your copy prior to January 6, 2022, and receive a 15% discount. Use the promo code: PREORDER2021 


Author Bio

After having been in education for forty-six years as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator, Joseph Lewis has semi-retired and now works part-time as an online learning facilitator. He uses his psychology and counseling background in crafting thriller/crime/detective mysteries. He has taken creative writing and screen writing courses at UCLA and USC.

Lewis has published seven books, all available on Amazon and each to excellent reviews: Taking Lives (August 2014; May 2021) the prequel to the Lives Trilogy; Stolen Lives (November 2014; May 2021) Book One of the Lives Trilogy; Shattered Lives (March 2015; May 2021) Book Two of the Trilogy; and Splintered Lives (November 2015; May 2021) Book Three of the Trilogy each from True Visions Publications, and then re-issued by Black Rose Writing; Caught in a Web (April 2018) from Black Rose Writing, which was a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Crime Fiction and named “One of the Best Crime Fiction Thrillers of 2018!” by Best Thrillers; Spiral Into Darkness (January 2019) from Black Rose Writing, which was named a Recommended Read by Author’s Favorites. His newest, Betrayed November 2020 is a Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery-Suspense, a Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner, and a Reader’s Favorite 5 Star Rating Winner. Blaze In, Blaze Out is currently available for preorder and will be released January 6, 2022. Lewis is currently working on another thriller-crime-mystery.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Lewis has been happily married to his wife, Kim. Together they have three wonderful children: Wil (deceased July 2014), Hannah, and Emily. He and his wife now reside in Virginia.

Social Media Contact:

Author Website at www.jrlewisauthor.blog

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI /

Blog at: www.simplethoughtsfromacomplicatedmindsortof.com  

The Last Beautiful Girl by Nina Laurin #bookreview #YA #horror #gothic

BLACK MIRROR meets Darcy Coates in this exploration of the dangerous, dark side of beauty in the digital age, with a gothic, haunted-house setting.

When Izzy is dragged from Brooklyn to a tiny town for her parents’ new job, she’s not thrilled. The silver lining is the gorgeous old mansion she’s moved into: the former home of an artist’s muse who died tragically in a fire. But the house has its quirks: whole floors are closed off, paintings are covered up, and cell reception is nonexistent.

Izzy throws herself into starting an Instagram fashion account using the gowns and jewelry she finds hidden away in the house. She looks perfect in the photos–almost unnaturally perfect–and they quickly go viral. Soon she’s got a new best friend, a potential boyfriend, and is surrounded by a group of girls who want the photoshoots and fame for themselves. But there’s a darkness in the house, and a darkness growing in Izzy, too. When girls start dying, it’s clear that something–or someone–in the house is growing in power, with deadly intentions. 

I have to admit – I would have passed up this book if it hadn’t mentioned Black Mirror, Darcy Coates, and a gothic, haunted-house setting. The cover didn’t scream horror to me.

The descriptions of the old mansion Izzy and her family relocate to paint a picture of a beautiful home that’s falling into ruin. I could easily imagine the architectural details and understand Izzy’s unexpected delight when seeing it for the first time. This haunted house had the potential to offer those delicious spine-tingling chills horror fans chase after, and I was excited to delve into its darkness. Maybe I’ve read so many books in this genre that I’ve become immune, but I never felt the chills. There are some eerie moments, but when the situation really starts to become intense, the scene never plays out. Something would interrupt it, leaving Izzy to rationalize what happened. Without giving away spoilers, the reader isn’t given much time to get to know Izzy before she moves into the house, and it was difficult for me to emphathize with her – she’s a difficult person to like. The final scene builds up to a tension-filled, creepy climax, but then ends abruptly and leaves several questions unanswered.

Kudos to the author for an admirable job of calling attention to the dark sides of vanity and obsession with social media and the effects both can have on a person. While this is an enjoyable read, I’d recommend it for the younger YA crowd.

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

The Haunting of Leigh Harker by Darcy Coates #bookreview #horror #thriller

Sometimes the dead reach back...

Leigh Harker’s quiet suburban home was her sanctuary for more than a decade, until things abruptly changed. Curtains open by themselves. Radios turn off and on. And a dark figure looms in the shadows of her bedroom door at night, watching her, waiting for her to finally let down her guard enough to fall asleep.

Pushed to her limits but unwilling to abandon her home, Leigh struggles to find answers. But each step forces her towards something more terrifying than she ever imagined.

A poisonous shadow seeps from the locked door beneath the stairs. The handle rattles through the night and fingernails scratch at the wood. Her home harbours dangerous secrets, and now that Leigh is trapped within its walls, she fears she may never escape.

Do you think you’re safe?

You’re wrong.

I’ve read a few Darcy Coates novels, but this one is unlike any of those I’m familiar with. It’s creepy, chilling, and guaranteed to have you leaving lights on all over the house – but the premise is something I haven’t come across in other horror novels. Which is why this review will be brief since I don’t do spoilers.

I’m not the first reviewer to say they almost DNFed the book, but most of those reviewers also encouraged readers to stick with it, and everything would soon make sense. The beginning is slow, filled with the monotonous details of Leigh’s everyday life interspersed with some terrifying moments that didn’t seem to make sense. I couldn’t imagine why the author chose to begin the story this way. Trust me when I say you’ll be rewarded with a jaw-dropping reveal later on. Everything will click.

Something else resides in Leigh’s house with her. The doorknob of a locked closet under the stairs rattles at night when whatever is on the other side tries to get out. It watches while she sleeps – if she ever manages to get any. Then there’s the harrowing encounter with sharp tools in a gardening shed when the door mysteriously slams shut and traps her inside. There’s no shortage of gripping scenes that may have you holding your breath while reading. Coates draws the reader in and makes them feel as if they’re right beside Leigh experiencing every terrifying moment with her.

Surprisingly, the story also contains some bittersweet and heartfelt scenes – and I can’t say that about most horror novels I’ve read. Part of the ending shot out of left field for me, but it comes with an explanation. If you’re looking for a different spin on the haunted house tale, give this novel a chance. Just remember to hang with it a few chapters.

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

Calling #Horror, #Thriller, and #Paranormal #IndieAuthors for #BadMoonRising

I’m not sure how we got here so fast, but it’s time for Bad Moon Rising again!  Thirty-one authors for thirty-one days in October will be featured right here at Books & Such.  If you’re an indie author of horror, thriller, or paranormal/supernatural books and would like to participate, send me an email.  FREE publicity, book sales, new authors to follow, loads of fun, and more books added to the TBR – woo-hoo!

Each post will feature one of your releases, a book description, author bio, social media links, buy links, and a short interview.  If you’d like to include a giveaway or have alternative ideas for your post, I’m always open to suggestions.

This is the seventh year of Bad Moon Rising and spots tend to fill up fast, so if you’d like to be included, email me at tpolen6@gmail.com.

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee #bookreview #YA #thriller #LGBT #TuesdayBookBlog

For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past.

Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School.

Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.

Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.

And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.

I’m a fan of this author’s Feverwake series and had the pleasure of meeting her at a local book event a couple years ago. When I saw she had a new release coming up, I jumped to request it on NetGalley.

Dark, twisty atmospheric thriller is a perfect description for this novel, and a centuries old campus is the ultimate setting. The story begins with the MC, Felicity, returning to campus to repeat her senior year after dropping out the previous year due to the tragic death of her girlfriend. The house Felicity and four other students reside in is rumored to be haunted by the Dalloway Five – women who were supposedly witches. All died hundreds of years ago on the grounds under mysterious circumstances. The story of these women enthralled Felicity enough that she researched them extensively for her thesis prior to leaving the previous year. She immersed herself in their history and experimented with witchcraft – maybe a little too much – and began seeing a therapist after leaving school. Upon returning, she’s determined to steer clear of anything involving witchcraft and concentrate on her studies. Things change when new student Ellis arrives. Felicity is immediately drawn to her, and Ellis has a way of pulling – or pushing – Felicity into questionable situations using logic that sounds reasonable.

It’s clear early on that Felicity may be an unreliable narrator, and I love that angle in a novel. She’s convinced the ghost of her ex-girlfriend is haunting her, and eerie things happen that may send chills up your spine. After she and her ex used a ouija board to contact one of the dead witches the previous year, Felicity also wonders if she’s cursed. Is she being haunted or is someone trying to manipulate her?

The students at this boarding school are on a different level from your average high school students, and their conversations are intellectual and thought-provoking as they lounge around and drink Old Fashioneds. Honestly, the complexity of their school assignments gave me a headache. The characters read much older than they are. Ellis, at only seventeen-years-old, has just won a Pulitzer Prize for her first novel (some suspension of disbelief is required). She’s working on her second novel and the research she invites Felicity to help her with is morbid and unsettling. Did I mention this book is dark?

The ending is comparable to a strategic chess match, but I’m surprised one character, usually several steps ahead of everyone else, didn’t see it coming. If you’re a fan of dark tales, morally gray characters, and potentially unreliable narrators, find a cozy reading space where you won’t be disturbed and allow yourself to sink into this novel.

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

How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao #bookreview #mystery #thriller

Students at an elite prep school are forced to confront their secrets when their ex-best friend turns up dead.

Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends–Krystal, Akil, and Alexander–are the prime suspects, thanks to “The Proctor,” someone anonymously incriminating them via the school’s social media app.

They all used to be Jamie’s closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow The Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy’s full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too. 

One of the comp titles for this novel is One of Us Is Lying, a book I enjoyed from beginning to end, so I went into this with some high expectations.

The competition to be the best at Sinclair Prep is cutthroat. These teens put an enormous amount of pressure on themselves and each other, while some of their parents demand the best no matter the cost. Stress levels are through the roof. Most of the student body look up to these five students, so when Jamie turns up dead and the mysterious Proctor begins making accusations and threatening to reveal dark secrets about the other four, their reputations are tarnished to say the least.

This is a short, quick read that I finished in less than twenty-four hours. It moves along at a brisk pace, and the developments come pretty fast. These characters are supposed to be best friends, especially Nancy and Jamie, but I sure wasn’t feeling the love between most of them. I even wondered how and why they became friends considering the way they treat each other. Of the five of them, Nancy and Jamie are especially unlikeable, but I’m not sure if that’s what the author intended. I can’t imagine many readers would feel sympathetic toward them for most of the book. I figured out the identity of the Proctor – kind of (no spoilers) – but the reveal requires quite a big suspension of disbelief. Looking at other reviews, several have mentioned that fans of Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girls would be the intended audience for this book, but I haven’t seen either of those shows. Maybe that’s why It didn’t work for me as much as I’d hoped, but I’m glad I read How We Fall Apart and will look for future novels 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.

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig #bookreview #YA #darkfantasy #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range–five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned.

As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.

This is the second book I’ve read by this author, and I’ll be waiting in line for her third no matter what it is.

Don’t be deceived by the calming, flower-filled cover. Inside is a chilling, dark fantasy that will make you hesitate before entering the woods ever again. I count the movie The Village directed by M. Night Shyamalan as one of my favorites, and this book shares many similarities with it – a small, tightly knit community, strange activities in the town, deadly creatures in the forest, and a MC who’s determined she and her family will survive. There are also shades of Stephen King’s Needful Things with some of the townfolks’ deepest desires being fulfilled.

The first few chapters introduce readers to a simpler kind of life and allow them to become acquainted with the isolated town, its residents, and their daily activities. Ellerie’s idyllic life of learning beekeeping from her father, cooking with her mother, and playing with her little sister begins sliding away a piece at a time after a supply party goes missing. Visitors, a rare event, show up in town, and one is especially intriguing to her. Whitaker’s motivations were a mystery to me throughout the story, and I wasn’t sure if I should trust him. Soon the town is plagued with deformed animals, strange bouts of weather, and a lack of food before neighbors turn against each other in vengeance and hatred. I’m talking a serious spiraling of events, folks. Some of these scenes aren’t for the faint of heart.

This slow burn dark fantasy pulls you in a page at a time, and before long you’ll notice the book is super glued to your hands. It felt like 350 pages instead of nearly 500 to me. Fans of The Village, Needful Things, and dark fantasy will spend several engrossing hours reading Small Favors and shutting out the world around them. Just be careful when you go into the woods.

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