Book Review

Book Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Mystery + Thriller
Length: 384 pages
Author: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Expected Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is. 

HAD SOME GOOD MOMENTS.

This starts out super chill. We have a nanny who’s going to work at a very creepy smart-house. It can automatically be assumed something will go down because when does a smart-house in a thriller novel ever work correctly? I was intrigued and ready to get things rolling. What slowed me down (time and time again) was the excessive paragraphs dedicated to describing every nook and cranny of the house. I’m not someone who needs to know minute details so for me, I breezed past those to get to the more interesting bits.

I like the way everything was set up. The age of the girls, the parents, the other staff members. I felt they all kind of played their parts well and had rolls that you loved or hated. I liked Rowan and thought she was an odd character. It seemed like she was trying her best to help out and take care of the kids. The style set-up with Rowan writing to a lawyer was interesting. I thought it might get in the way, but she only really addressed him a handful of times so it’s not as bothersome as it could have been.

Something I didn’t love was the awful husband, when his full story came to light I was already angry at him and this just fueled that rage. I kinda wish he had gotten his karma in this book because he deserved it. Another piece was the “romance” thrown into this. WHY. Why does every thriller with a female lead NEED a randevu with the handsome new guy/stranger. It added nothing to the story.

The ending plot twists…I did NOT see coming. And was totally floored when they happened. I absolutely loved them and thought it was a great way to turn everything on its head before the story ended. I wish we did get more of an end because I closed the book feeling unsatisfied that I didn’t get the last little pieces I was hoping *sigh*.

Overall audience notes:

  • Thriller/Mystery
  • Language: some strong language throughout
  • Romance: one love scene, took one paragraph and pretty vague
  • Violence: murder
  • Trigger warnings: death of a child, unwanted sexual advancements, cheating spouse

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Book Talk

Happy Halloween!: Some Favorite Spooky Reads from 2019

Happy Halloween Y’all! I hope everyone has the plans to look forward to tonight. Whether that’s getting dressed up and going out or shutting your porch light off to watch a spooky movie.

We’re going to a Halloween party tonight and my family is dressing up as pirates this year!

I wanted to write a special little post about what spooky reads I’ve enjoyed this year, and a few from some of my Bookstagram friends. Spooky is a very broad term for this post. Anything that has fall vibes, freaked someone out, had a creepy moment or two, maybe some witches? It all goes! I wanted to give some options for all to add to your TBR! My only rule was that you had to read it in 2019, whether or not it came out then doesn’t matter!

These responses were from my friends on Instagram. I’ve included a link to their Insta’s and a little blurb about why the enjoyed this read. I’ll include my thoughts if I’ve read them!


littlelindsreadsThe Whisper Man by Alex North

“If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken. If you play outside alone, soon you won’t be going home. If you window’s left unlatched, you’ll hear him tapping at the glass. If you’re lonely, sad, and blue, the Whisper Man will come for you.”

Lindsay says: Just this quote alone from The Whisper Man gives me the chills! This book has just the right amount of spookiness to have you on edge while you are reading it. The alternating points of view keep the story interesting as you try to solve the case of the disappearing children. Fans of Law and Order will love this book!


bookish_tayThe Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Taylor says: I loved The Wicked Deep because it was so creepy and enjoyable. Even though parts were predictable, I was sucked into the story. Rooting for the boys, rooting for the witches at times, rooting for Penny. It was a perfect read for this time of year!

Cait says: I’ve read this one too! I definitely loved the creepy vibes it gave off. The story of the Swan sisters and the witchy vibes. Perfect for October. Find my full review here.


caro.libraryHouse of Salt & Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin, and The Whisper Man by Alex North

Caroline says:

House of Salt & Sorrows: Is there anything better than a spooky fairy tale retelling? This atmospheric retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses is equal parts dark fantasy, mystery, and Gothic horror. It’s creepy and magical, and it kept me guessing until the end.

Serpent & Dove: This book has the best cast of characters! It’s a great witchy story, but also hilarious and heartfelt.

The Whisper Man: One of the best thrillers I’ve read this year! It was so well done with great pacing, a ghost story feel, and some downright chilling moments!

Cait says: I’ve read the first two of her suggestions. House of Salt & Sorrows was a buddy I read I actually did with Caroline! It was great and this book is DEFINITELY creepy. It’s a dark take on the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Full review here!

Serpent & Dove. ONE OF MY FAVS OF 2019. I usually don’t love books with witches. THIS IS THE BEST EXCEPTION. Seriously. Read it. Full review here!

This second section will include books I’ve enjoyed from this year (some might overlap).

Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Probably the best thriller I read this year. It had the creepy factor and a lot of unknowns. Some twists were easy to see, but others left me shocked.


Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

OH MY GOODNESS. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. Really. Top 10 from this year. Without a doubt. I’m going to link my review again because you must get this on your TBR ASAP.


The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

This one is all about Dracula! No actual vampires, but a lot of spooky vibes as the MCs run across Romania. See my full review here!


Stalking Jack the Ripper Series by Kerri Maniscalco

I’m waiting on a library hold for the very last book, but this are perfect for a good spooky time. There’s murder, romance, mystery, a great mix of YA historical fiction goodness. And of course, there’s Thomas Cresswell.

I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe found a new book or two to consider for your TBR. Have you read any of these? What was one of your favorite spooky reads this year? Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

Book Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Thriller
Length: 384 pages
Author: Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: July 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

NOT AS THRILLING AS I HAD HYPED IN MY MIND.

I think I overthought this book. It seemed really creepy, but I wasn’t AS creeped out as I expected (and trust me, I am a wimp about the scary stuff).

This was definitely a unique premise! I don’t plan on living in any apartment any time soon after reading this. I thought it was well crafted and kept me in the dark long enough to want to keep reading. It was great writing and kept me intrigued. I thought more action would happen before so late in the book, but it didn’t drag it down too much.

I liked Jules as an MC. I thought she had some good qualities and wasn’t that annoying girl in a thriller, ya know? I wanted her to figure everything out and get the heck out of dodge. Jules was crazy brave, and her in those last few scenes? YES. I could picture that in a movie and thought it was absolute thriller gold.

I never got freaked out until around page 315 (out of 371). There was a lot more talk about all of the things happening at the Bartholomew, but not a lot of showing yet. The deeper the story wove, and the more Jules got to be involved, the better everything became. The atmosphere was full of a dark edge.

I love the way the chapters wove together. The flashes back and forth were perfectly timed and made me read even faster. I didn’t see the ending coming at all! It was truly unique to the handful of thrillers I have read (which isn’t a lot, but was excited it was totally different). When it leaned one way I was like ehhhhh, then when it turned a different way I was like WHAAA, okay that blows my mind.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult thriller/mystery
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: some kisses, one love scene (a little detailed)
  • Violence: torture, medical experimentation, murder, physical, arson
  • Trigger warnings: a lot of mentions of suicide: one throughout about an off screen character (jumping from building), suicide by overdose and arson (Chapter 22), suicide by jumping (Chapter 55), suicide by gun shot (Chapter 56)

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Book Review

Book Review: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson

Rating: ☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary mystery
Length: 416 pages
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history. 

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

UNFORTUNATELY. I WAS BORED.

The entire time y’all. I kept reading thinking things were going to amp up, and they never did. And I know it’s a series, but I was more annoyed that I felt like I got ZERO answers than wanting to read the second book. I even had a bookish friend who told me what happens in book two because I really didn’t want to read it (though I will say, it does seem moderately more interesting in case you want to pick it up).

It took til about 200 pages (halfway-ish) for anything to happen. I was way more interested in the flashbacks where the original murder had taken place than I was with Stevie at school. Most of the story focused on being in school and meeting other students (which were all trying way too hard).

The original story was interesting and I wanted that to play a bigger role in the present timeline. That really drove the story for me.

I hated most of the side characters other than Nate and Janelle. This group of three were building a solid friendship and I was enjoying seeing that dynamic. They were supporting each other and being kind when Stevie made some bad choices acting as a wannabe Sherlock Holmes (not on board with her going through people’s things).

I did NOT GET THE RELATIONSHIP WITH DANIEL. It came out of literally nowhere. Luckily, not in an instant-love kinda way, but just a flat-out, wait all of a sudden we’re making out kinda way. I did become a fan of Daniel towards the end of the story though. He was probably my favorite character.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary mystery
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a make-out
  • Violence: multiple descriptions of murder

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Book Review

Book Review: Recursion by Blake Crouch

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Sci-fi fiction + thriller
Length: 336 pages
Author: Blake Crouch
Publisher: Crown
Release Date: June 11th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Memory makes reality. That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. 

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them? 

MY HEAD HURTS.

I have an unpopular opinion coming your way. I liked Dark Matter more. This book was only okay. On the lower half of my 3 star rating.

This started out great. My head was exhausted trying to grasp all of the scientific concepts, BUT I was still having a good time. I knew we were building up and the back and forth timelines were keeping me intrigued.

Then at a bit past the halfway point I started to notice the repetitiveness. And over and over again the same situation kept happening. Way more times than I thought was necessary to get the point across (and how awful that Helena kept having to go through the same time frame?!?). At this point I stared scanning the pages til we brought up some more action…but none ever came.

The book felt more dedicated to the relationship between Barry and Helena than it did to the drama and thriller aspects I felt I got in Dark Matter. Yes, I was invested in them and thought their relationship made sense. But, it was dragged out and I only wanted to know the answer to how to stop the world from ending.

What was also totally trippy was thinking about this actually happening and what could result from this. A lot of current aspects were taken into account for this book which made it feel all the more real. I dearly hope our government isn’t hiding some memory machine planning to control the fates. There’s a point to this book, you can’t play God.

Overall audience notes:

  • Science fiction mystery/thriller
  • Language: f-word a lot (too much for me personally)
  • Romance: some kisses, mentions of “f-ing” each other, but not descriptions of the event
  • Violence: murder, guns, see trigger warnings for me
  • Trigger warnings: suicide ideation, multiple descriptions of peoples suicide and mass suicides

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Book Review

Book Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult mystery/thriller
Length: 336 pages
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: January 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself. 

DEFINITELY A BIT CREEPY.

I’m not a horror/scary fan. Never have been, and while I would love to try a legit horror book just once, I like this dialed back version a lot.

I loved One of Us Is Lying, and TCKaS was better.

I spent the entire book trying to guess who was the original murderer. Every time I thought I had an idea, whoa bam, something would happen and I would have to change my mind.

THIS IS HOW I’M SUPPOSED TO FEEL. Right? No one wants a mystery book where you can guess the person before you even start reading it. I loved that the blame kept moving around making me nervous as to what the final fallout would be.

There were definitely some creepy moments. And it only got more disturbing as all of the facts were known. I mean, really disturbing.

I loved our two main POVs, Ellery and Malcolm. They had great banter and chemistry together. I liked that both of there backgrounds were different and switching between them gave a truly different view point on how these murders were affecting them.

A chilling last sentence left me feeling shook. I am not mad I read this. These are the only YA mystery/thrillers I’ve ever read and I will definitely keep picking her books up.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery/thriller
  • Language: a bit of strong language
  • Romance: kiss/small make-out
  • Violence: light descriptions of multiple murders, creepy dolls, poisoning, physical
  • Trigger warnings: loss of a loved one

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Book Review

Book Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Eveyln Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Mystery/Fiction
Length: 449 pages
Author: Stuart Turton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: September 18th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The Rules of Blackheath:

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m. 
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit. 
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer. 
Understood? Then let’s begin…

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

WHAT WAS THE DEAL WITH THE FOOTMAN.

Okay. I liked this book.

But I’m going to start this out with saying I can not figure out what in the world was happening with the footman. He was there, doing all of these things, but had no context. Never learned his name, anything about him, NOTHING. I literally knew he was hired by another character and that was it. I know he’s a side character, but he was so frequently involved (and in the mind of the main character) that I really wanted some back story. I think I was supposed to hate him, but I became so indifferent from lack of information.

Now, momentarily, back to things I did like.

Y’all, this book is trippy. I am SO impressed with the way the author kept up with the timeline and all of guests at Blackheath. I was surprised at how easily I kept up and things made sense. Serious kudos for keeping things straight.

What also impressed me was that I didn’t figure out the final twist! I had surmised most of the story, but then things started breaking down even more and that last reveal moment had me like WHOA. There was never a lot of fingers pointed at one person so it made it difficult to nail down who I thought was the murderer. I honestly can’t believe that many people died. Totally insane.

Okay, back to the last frustrating bit I had.

There was no background to Blackheath itself. When the “boss” (trying to remain spoiler-free and as vague as I can) showed up and gave the narrator the low-down, it left me hanging. Who came up with this idea? How does this idea work? Is there magic involved? Also, WHAT TIME PERIOD ARE WE IN?

Unfortunately, I was left with more questions than answers which is why I had to knock off a few stars.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fiction/mystery (thriller? maybe a little)
  • Language: The use of b*tch was used once
  • Romance: kiss, a very little detailed morning after scene
  • Violence: guns, knives, physical beatings, poison, murder (a lot of murder)
  • Trigger warnings: some implication that one of the hosts has raped/sexually assaulted multiple women

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