Book Review

Book Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Thriller
Length: 384 pages
Author: Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton Books
Release Date: June 30th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

In the latest thriller from New York Times bestseller Riley Sager, a woman returns to the house made famous by her father’s bestselling horror memoir. Is the place really haunted by evil forces, as her father claimed? Or are there more earthbound—and dangerous—secrets hidden within its walls?

INDEED, IT WAS SPOOKY.

I have officially decided this is my second favorite of Sager’s (The Last Time I Lied being the first). It freaked me out, had some interesting story lines, and was overall a good spooky thriller.

The ghosts and haunted manor setting had me reading in the day time. I do NOT do haunted houses. Regardless of ridiculousness, I still found myself totally on edge. This is a slow-burn kind of haunting. It felt like a movie, slowly amping up to the climax of all the weird things going off at once.

I liked the alternating chapters between the Dad and daughter, Maggie. Though I think I leaned more towards her Dad’s more horrific tale. Which lead me to being let down by the ending. I almost wanted more ghost-y-ness (is that a word?) then having every single answer laid out. I have a confused mix of how I feel about the end. I liked how things were overall solved, but still, just something, *something* was missing for me.

What also had me out of the book from the beginning was the ease at which this entire book wouldn’t have existed if she sold the house. And I always love a character who sprints towards the danger rather than away.

Overall audience notes:

  • Thriller
  • Language: occasional
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: murder, physical altercations
  • Trigger warnings: multiple discussions a murder-suicide and of multiple children being murdered

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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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