Author: Claire Douglas
Series: n/a
Series #:
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

t was the house of their dreams. Until the bodies were found . . .

BODIES FOUND UNDER PATIO

When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations the last thing she expects is builders uncovering a body – two bodies, in fact.

POLICE INVESTIGATE

Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years. Nothing Saffy need worry herself over. Until the police launch a murder investigation and ask to speak to the cottage’s former owner – her grandmother, Rose.

OWNER QUESTIONED

Rose is in a care home and Alzheimer’s means her memory is increasingly confused. She can’t help the police but it is clear she remembers something.

A KILLER AT LARGE?

As Rose’s fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched.

What happened thirty years ago?

Why did no one miss the victims?

What part did her grandmother play?

And is Saffy now in danger?


Review

H O L Y

I don’t even have WORDS for this book. I was addicted from the very start. We have a multi POV book, in which we’re getting the story from multiple perspectives. I was frantically turning pages to find out what happened because I was STUNNED.

When I got to the end I had to sit and think for a few minutes. My brain was going WHAT over and over and over again. This book is mind bending in the best of ways. I loved how we get pieces of the story and the plot that link together through the different characters, and as they draw closer to the answers, the tension gets amped up. Douglas did this well — she drove the story forward in a way that made sense and was interesting enough without being too complicated.

I really enjoyed the writing in this, and was FASCINATED with the mystery aspect. In a few moments we get a bit of back and forth between past and present, and it was brilliant. Honestly, I can’t even believe this book. Definitely one of the best mystery books that I have read recently. It kept me on my toes and guessing. It also made me remember how much I enjoy a good mystery book.

I still don’t know what else to say — it’s hard to when you don’t want to give away the different plot points. This book is best read going into it blind.

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Author: Kate Alice Marshall
Series:
Series #:
Genre: horror, mystery/thriller
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

The Haunting of Hill House meets Knives Out in a bid for an inheritance that will leave Helen Vaughan either rich…or dead.

Helen Vaughan doesn’t know why she and her mother left their ancestral home at Harrowstone Hall, called Harrow, or why they haven’t spoken to their extended family since. So when her grandfather dies, she’s shocked to learn that he has left everything—the house, the grounds, and the money—to her. The inheritance comes with one condition: she must stay on the grounds of Harrow for one full year, or she’ll be left with nothing.

There is more at stake than money. For as long as she can remember, Harrow has haunted Helen’s dreams—and now those dreams have become a waking nightmare. Helen knows that if she is going to survive the year, she needs to uncover the secrets of Harrow. Why is the house built like a labyrinth? What is digging the holes that appear in the woods each night?And why does the house itself seem to be making her sick?

With each twisted revelation, Helen questions what she knows about Harrow, her family, and even herself. She no longer wonders if she wants to leave…but if she can.


Review

I so wanted to like this book, it sounded like the perfect horror/mystery book. I’ve enjoyed other YA horror books, so I went into this one with an open mind. Yet…something about it just didn’t work for me overall.

I loved the book Hill House, and I’ve never seen Knives Out (so I can’t say how it compared to that), but I felt that the book was a tad bit…boring? I liked Helen, just felt that as a reader I wasn’t invested with her. What I did like was her relationship with Bryony. It was a bit of an insta-love romance, but I liked it anyways.

I even liked the atmosphere of the book. At times it felt a little campy and reminiscent of the original Dark Shadows TV show, but I liked that aspect of it.

There is a weird connection with the house and ghosts — and those are things I absolutely adore in books. I am still not sure how I felt about them in this book.

I think one of the issues I was having was with the writing style of this book. It just didn’t jive with me. I felt some aspects of the dialogue were stilted, and just awkward to read.

I liked Desmond a lot in this book and how he was helping Helen. Some of their interactions were really amusing.

There was a twist I wasn’t expecting; and I did enjoy that part. It kept me reading until the end of the book!

The book was good and I think it is going to appeal to a lot of people, it just didn’t end up being the best book for me.

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Author: Kelly Devos
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: mystery, thriller, horror
Age Group: Young Adult
ARC?: Yes

For Dracula lovers and fans of Diana Urban’s All Your Twisted Secrets, this spine-tingling thriller follows seven horror buffs as their dream trip to a remote Romanian castle turns into a nightmare when they begin to be killed one by one.

Alex Rush is ready for the trip of a lifetime.

She and her friends have made some creepily awesome films together throughout high school, so with only a few months left before they go their separate ways for college, they’re determined to make the best one yet: an epic short film that reimagines the story of Dracula, filmed on location at a remote castle in Romania.

But when they get there, it’s not quite the majestic setting they planned for. Menacing weapons line the walls, the twisted halls are easy to get lost in, and with no connection to the outside world, the group is unexpectedly off the grid. After just a few hours spent under its roof, Alex and her friends have no trouble imagining how this dark, terrifying castle inspired one of the most enduring horror novels of all time.

Only soon they no longer have to use their imaginations to understand the location’s terrifying history—just as they get the film’s first shot rolling, one of Alex’s friends disappears, and she’s nearly certain she saw a cloaked stranger lurking in the shadows. As more members of the group begin to meet an untimely demise, Alex is desperate to stop the bloodshed, even if it means facing a monster she never thought would be let loose.


Review

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

This book is going to be a huge draw for teen readers! It combines many things that are relatable: being an influencer, struggling with college decisions, getting rejections, dating, issues with parents and so on. To top it all off it is a murder mystery. A murder mystery in a Romanian castle that has to do with Dracula. Sounds intriguing right? And I think for teens it will be. In many ways the style of this book reminds me of Tom Ryan’s I Hope You’re Listening, Kit Frick’s I Killed Zoe Spanos, the Truly Devious series and the Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series. This is a YA book, however it does remind me some of Riley Sager’s adult books. For me it is almost the teen version of those. IIt goes back between present and the past (where the main events took place) and it is interspersed with Alex’s interviews with the police in the aftermath. 

I found 90% of the characters unlikeable, and I don’t know if that was intentional. I also think that they were supposed to represent real teens, teens who are flawed and are jealous, who are still learning about themselves and what they want from life. So to me, this was a realistic representation of them. Even if I didn’t like them, it wasn’t like they were written badly! 

The writing style is easy to follow, and this book is a fairly quick read (for me). There is a lot of build up to the actual events at the castle. But there’s a lot of tension, not knowing how we get to the end. 

I guessed what was going on from the very beginning. There certainly were some red herrings thrown in, but overall I found it easy to guess. But the read itself was engaging and kept me entertained until I got to the end of the book. In some ways I wish that it had gone differently – that it hadn’t been as I expected. Alas. 

This book is going to be for anyone who enjoys slasher/final girl etc types of books and movies. It definitely lands more on the horror side of the mystery/thriller aspect, so just be aware of that. There isn’t anything overly descriptive in this book (or at least not too much), but more generalized descriptions. 

Overall, this book was a solid three star book for me. I enjoyed the book, but I think that teens (and tweens) will enjoy it far more than me! 

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Author: Lauren Belfer
Genre: mystery/thriller, historical fiction
Age Group: Adult
ARC?: Yes.

Soon after their arrival, ever-curious Nicky finds the skeletal remains of a woman walled into a forgotten part of the manor, and Hannah is pulled into an all-consuming quest for answers, Nicky close by her side. Working from clues in centuries-old ledgers showing what the woman’s household spent on everything from music to medicine; lists of books checked out of the library; and the troubling personal papers of the long-departed family, Hannah begins to recreate the Ashton Hall of the Elizabethan era in all its color and conflict. As the multilayered secrets of her own life begin to unravel, Hannah comes to realize that Ashton Hall’s women before her had lives not so different from her own, and she confronts what mothers throughout history have had to do to secure their independence and protect their children.


Review

Thank you to NG and the publisher for an e-arc of this in exchange for an honest review.

I love a good historical fiction book, especially one that has a mystery in the past that needs to be solved in the present. Susanna Kearsley is my go-to for that. Lauren Belfer has now made me want to go and read more of her works.

This book had me enthralled from the beginning. We have a murder mystery from the past and in the present Hannah is dealing with her own life situations. I rather liked the juxtaposition of the past and the present. While one didn’t have much to do with the other, in the end I think it worked well together.

While I would have liked more after the end, the final, extra chapter definitely gave me some of the answers that I was seeking.

The book was a slow paced book, but it wasn’t bad because it was engrossing. There were quite a few plot strands going on all at once, but it was interesting to see how they unfolded throughout the book. Nothing went as I expected it to.

Overall, this book was enjoyable!

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Author: Shea Ernshaw
Genre: magical realism, mystery/thriller
Age Group: adult
ARC?: No

Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend.

Called “Pastoral,” this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it… he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.

Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.


Review

I love Shea Ernshaw so I picked this book up and added it to my wishlist without even reading what it was about. I mean…it’s Shea Ernshaw, what’s not to like?

For me…well. I liked the book. I did, but it just was not what I was expecting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just didn’t realize what it was about. Would I have wanted to read this book if I had read the description?

No, I probably would not have. And I’m glad I didn’t because I did enjoy the book, even if it wasn’t what I was expecting. I want to say there was nothing that I overly dislike about this novel. I can’t say that I hated any part of it, because I didn’t.

Ernshaw’s writing is just so stunningly beautiful and it lull’s you into the story. I love reading her books because it is so easy to become engrossed and lost in the atmosphere of the book. You get sucked in and aren’t let out until you finish the book.

Part of that is because I felt, even after I finished reading this book I was still thinking about it, and all the little intricate pieces that Ernshaw had woven into the story.

I felt this was a different type of mystery/thriller than I’ve seen recently. It wasn’t your typical one I would say, which makes it stand out among all the mystery/thrillers. And the ending too, was unexpected to me. I was rather shocked about it.

I did love how the story held together and how the plot led you on a journey. There were some parts that had me scratching my head and wondering if I was imagining things and the other half of me was speculating.

I very much enjoyed this book even if it was different than what I expected. I love how the story unfolded and when little clues were revealed to us.

I recommend this book to people who like mind bending thrillers, but at a slower pace. 

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Author: Riley Sager
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: horror, mystery, thriller
Age Group: adult
ARC?: no

It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.


Review

Survive the Night isn’t my first Riley Sager book. In fact, I read a lot of his other ones as well. I enjoyed Home Before Dark but found Final Girls lacking on so many levels. So going into this one I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know if it was going to be more like the one I liked or more like the one that I didn’t. The concept of the book seemed interesting to me – it sounded like something that would catch my attention and hold it for a period of time. Usually, I can finish Sager’s books quickly. This is because they are often fast paced and don’t take much “critical thinking” to read.

This doesn’t mean they’re bad – they’re not. But I don’t have to sit there are parse through things. I can read and guess at the mystery or what’s happening which is enjoyable for me to do. I’m usually wrong about everything, which is quite amusing to me. I’ve never been a terribly good guesser at these mystery books. Maybe that’s why I like them so much. In the end this book ended up being more like Home Before Dark for me, especially with the twists in this one.

I 100% did not guess the twists right AT ALL in this book. I said I was bad at it, I was really bad at it. But the twists were interesting, because Charlie and her mental health issues made her a very unreliable narrator so you wondered how much was true and how much was in her imagination in this book. Most of this  book is told from Charlie’s perspective but at about halfway through we switch to Josh’s POV. Adding in his POV made the book become a lot more spooky, because you’re wondering about his motivations. Is he the serial killer or not? He’s clearly lying about something…and Charlie struggles to figure out the truth on this long car ride.

What makes the book more eerie for me is the fact that it takes place in 1991 – which means, yes, there are no mobile phones for regular use – only payphones. I think this book evoked a fear in me – of being without a phone and with a (maybe) serial killer. But that made the book a lot more atmospheric. Just the whole tone of the book as well really added to the feelings the book gave me. It was certainly really interesting.

The ending was VERY surprising. It was a twist within a twist, and it was that second twist that I didn’t guess, but I guess I should have with all the hints that were dropped. Or maybe there weren’t and it was out of the blue. This book also took place in a very short span of time, just over the course of a night.

At the same time I was really annoyed with Charlie – because girl, some of your decision making skills are seriously lacking. I mean SERIOUSLY. I guess that the whole premise of this is based on Charlie just not making the greatest choices. In the end though, that’s the premise of the story and what makes the story good is Charlie’s lack of thinking skills. Or ability to tell the truth from a lie.

Overall, I liked this book. It was a firm 3 star read for me. It was an enjoyable few hours that I spent reading it. It isn’t a book that I would reread though, as I think that it was best read once, and after that it lacks the same “shock” value.

As another reviewer said, going into this book blind is the best.

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Author: Wendy Clarke
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: mystery
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

Everyone in town said it was a mercy that she remembered so little. But there are some things Maya has never forgotten: that her mother was beautiful and kind, and she loved Maya very much. It’s what her father Stephen always tells her, about his perfect wife.

Years later, Maya still lives with her father in their cliffside home. Thankful for all the sacrifices he has made for her, she never pushes to find out what happened the night he lost the woman he loved. Even when she hears the whispers in town about him, and what they say he’s done.

But then Stephen introduces Maya to his new girlfriend Amy, and Maya starts to feel uneasy. With her soft dark hair and big blue eyes, Amy looks just like Maya’s mother. The more time they spend together the more Maya notices just how similar they are. And the tune Amy hums whilst cleaning the dishes is the same lullaby Maya’s mother sang to her when she was a little girl…

A thrilling and twisty tale, His Hidden Wife will keep you up all night, desperate to race through to its final conclusion. Readers of Gone Girl, The Couple Next Door and Lisa Jewell will be hooked.


Review

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an earc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

So, the premise of the book seemed intriguing. It was why I requested it in the first place. However, I just didn’t enjoy the book. It was okay. The writing was good, and there was enough of a mystery to be entertaining. Yet, at the same time, the mystery felt a little disjointed. It was almost as if there was too much going on, and nothing felt really well developed.

The characters too, I didn’t really like. It felt like the book was aiming for unreliable narrators and just missed the mark with this one. It’s a shame, because I think it could have been a really good book.

There were some important points brought up in the book, but in the context of the whole plot…just felt odd and unnecessary, like, they were brought in to add more tension, but instead did nothing.

CW/TW: abuse, domestic abuse, murder, self-harm

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