Book Review

Book Review: Girls of Salt and Sea by Natalia Macias Lucia

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Genre: Thriller + Romance
Length: 484 pages
Author: Natalia Macias Lucia
Publisher: Lightkeeper Press LLC
Release Date: August 26th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

“Don’t go back to Halcyon Bay.”

24-year-old Dell Costa knows nothing of the island where she was born, nor of the distant family that calls it home. For years, she’s lived a world away from Halcyon Bay, fiercely protected from the secrets of her past. But when Dell receives notice that her estranged grandmother has died, and her mother falls into a sudden downward spiral, she is determined to figure out why.

Returning to the island one stormy night, Dell resides at her grandparents’ seaside estate over a long weekend of funeral proceedings, learning of her family’s tragic history and the strange local folklore concerning drowned girls. With the help of a captivating young fisherman, Dell discovers that her childhood home teems with dangers at every turn—some even lurk beneath the crashing waves.

Nothing on Halcyon Bay is as it seems on the surface, and when small town whispers prove to be more than hearsay, Dell finds herself at the center of a dangerous plot with deadly repercussions.

In Girls of Salt and Sea, debut author Natalia Macias Lucia weaves a sultry, atmospheric tale dripping with haunting secrets, electrifying romance, and dark loyalties. Readers will be swept away on a thrilling wave of suspense into a story as intoxicating and mysterious as the sea itself.

___

Note: Girls of Salt and Sea is a new adult contemporary fantasy with some dark content. Please refer to the author’s website for a list of content warnings. 

READ THIS.

I’m not generally a thriller gal. But a friend gave this such a good recommendation I couldn’t help but download it. I actually went in thinking it was a romance (whoops, though there is a romance!!), and after a few chapters and realizing my mistake I was loving it enough that I kept going and I’m glad I did!

The writing was incredible. A debut author who knows how to write and I love it. The only issue I had was some minor pacing things where I thought it slowed down a touch too much here and there.

I loved the murder mystery. It really kept me guessing. And even at the end I was looking like a fish out of water when even more things kept being brought to life. I LOVED IT. I love the way this story was woven. How you had to double check each character wondering who was on what side.

I enjoyed the romance too (and would have loved even more of them). I thought it fit well into the story and they were a couple I wanted to root for. Also meaning, I better get more of them in the next book!!

Any who, really loved this. Highly recommend.

Overall audience notes:

  • Thriller
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: brief/vague fade to black
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: drowning, suicide, mental illness, physical and weapons violence, physical and emotional abuse, brief remarks about a rumored sexual assault against a child, grief, alcohol and drug use, cults, murder

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Book Review

ARC Review: Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus

Rating: ★★★
Audience: YA Thriller
Length: 368 pages
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: August 30th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

IT WAS FINE.

I think I’m kind of out growing YA thrillers, or maybe thrillers in general? I picked this up on NetGalley at a weak moment so knew i had to get through it. I was never upset reading it though, I just think it’s no longer my vibe (unless I’m super in the mood).

ANYWHO. I liked these main characters!! Tripp and Brynn were a bit flawed of course, but I really enjoyed the progression of both of them. There was a sweet romance between them too that I liked. It was a cute, softer side to the murder mystery.

I do feel a bit unsatisfied by the ending? It made it seem like there might be a book two so I think that’s my issue. I struggle when any ending is too open and I don’t get the closure needed to round out the plot. And there were some characters that I didn’t love.

The murderer kept me in the dark for a long time. I thought I had pinned the right person from the get-go and was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong! It was good read in the end.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Thriller
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder, kidnapping, gun violence, manipulation, extortion, underage drinking, media slander

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Book Review

Book Review: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Thriller
Length: 432 pages
Author: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: June 1st, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Gossip Girl meets Get Out in Ace of Spades, a YA contemporary thriller by debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé about two students, Devon & Chiamaka, and their struggles against an anonymous bully.

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

With heart-pounding suspense and relevant social commentary comes a high-octane thriller from debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé.

THE BLACK, QUEER THRILLER YOU NEED.

I am shook and completely freaked out by this book. I’ve never seen Gossip Girl or Get Out, but close friends have said it’s a great combination of both. I loved the academic setting, the twisted story, and how intense the ending was.

The two main characters, Chiamaka and Devon were amazing. I loved both of their POV’s. Both perspectives gave different sides to ultimately the same story. I was endeared by both of them and as the a creeping sense of dread swarmed my mind as the pages went on I couldn’t put this down.

Full of the nuanced, obvious and threatening realities of racism and supremacy. It was incredibly well written and I am in awe of what this author will write next. The relevant exploration of haunting themes will leave you speechless.

I loved the epilogue and the ending in general. I was invested in both story lines and love how Chiamaka’s and Devon’s story never overshadowed one another. Even with a bit of a slow start for me, it ramped up in the second half. For not a huge thriller fan, this is one where I’ll be shouting READ IT to anyone who’ll listen.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Thriller
  • Language: strong
  • Romance: kisses to closed door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: racism, homophobia, public outing, loss of a parent, murder, car accident, stalking

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Book Review

Book Review: A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Mystery
Length: 368 pages
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: December 7th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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.

Hauntingly beautiful, hypnotic, and bewitching, A History of Wild Places is a story about fairy tales, our fear of the dark, and losing yourself within the wilderness of your mind.

WELL THAT WAS TWISTED.

If you have the option, definitely go with the full cast audio book. I’ve read Ershaw’s young adult books and liked the atmosphere, but often felt they were slow. Reading with the audio book helped speed things up and I think this was an awesome adult debut.

This story was wiiiiild. And so trippy. Started off really creepy and dove into things I didn’t see coming. I was actually blindsided by the twist at the end. An interesting choice, but I thought worked well in the case for the plot. Which is fine, I’m good with that. I thought there were plenty of likable characters. All of the main characters were easy to read their stories, I wanted to cheer for them and help them get out.

Very much bewitching, I liked the tidbits of magical realism too. It made sense and completed the story better than without those extra pieces. I liked this one soooo much better than her young adult books. This hooked me enough that I’m back to wanting to read whatever Ernshaw writes next. Always great writing, spooky atmosphere, and a small dash of romance and whimsy.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery / Magical Realism
  • Language: little
  • Romance: multiple vague open-ish door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: suicide by overdose, grief/loss depiction, loss of a loved one, execution by hanging, physical altercations, manipulation and gaslighting

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