Where Darkness Blooms by. Andrea Hannah | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Title: Where Darkness Blooms

Author: Andrea Hannah

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 2/21/23

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery, LGBT+, Horror, Magical Realism

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Wednesday Books for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Andrea Hannah’s Where Darkness Blooms is a supernatural thriller about an eerie town where the sunflowers whisper secrets and the land hungers for blood.

The town of Bishop is known for exactly two things: recurring windstorms and an endless field of sunflowers that stretches farther than the eye can see. And women—missing women. So when three more women disappear one stormy night, no one in Bishop is surprised. The case is closed and their daughters are left in their dusty shared house with the shattered pieces of their lives. Until the wind kicks up a terrible secret at their mothers’ much-delayed memorial.

With secrets come the lies each of the girls is forced to confront. After caring for the other girls, Delilah would like to move on with her boyfriend, Bennett, but she can’t bear his touch. Whitney has already lost both her mother and her girlfriend, Eleanor, and now her only solace is an old weathervane that seems to whisper to her. Jude, Whitney’s twin sister, would rather ignore it all, but the wind kicks up her secret too: the summer fling she had with Delilah’s boyfriend. And more than anything, Bo wants answers and she wants them now. Something happened to their mothers and the townsfolk know what it was. She’s sure of it.

Bishop has always been a strange town. But what the girls don’t know is that Bishop was founded on blood—and now it craves theirs.

Content Warning: rape, violence

I wanted to read something creepy and look at this cover – it’s totally creepy. This is what I thought of the story:

+ I like the four different main characters. Four girls, who’s mothers are gone/missing or dead – the town assumes they are dead. So these four girls: Bo, Whitney, Jude and Delilah all live together and basically are trying to move on with their lives. They had distinct personalities and their lives are intertwined with certain events that culminated at a bon fire party. There is a big mystery in this story and these girls are the ones trying to figure out what is going on. I like the feminism theme in the story

+ The town of Bishop is strange. Women and girls go missing or end up dead every few months – but why? There is no “hospital” even though one of the girls had to be brought to one. There are the Harding boys who seem like they are the popular boys in school who can get whatever they want, but what they is to mess with these girls. There are these random storms or tornados but they are in a small town so that doesn’t seem totally mysterious…or is it? And what’s with the sunflowers?

~ A few things didn’t work for me – I was thrown into the story and left to figure things out. And it took me awhile to care about what was going on in this town. All I knew was that the boys were awful and two of the girls were in love with one of these awful boys, and that sucked. I knew right away this town was killing it’s women, but why? And why didn’t anyone else in town care about missing women?

~ I’ve read a few books similar to this but I don’t think I enjoyed the execution of this one. Everything is a big mystery but it didn’t creep me out as much as I wanted it to and it had all the potential to do so. I didn’t know what the connection was to the tornados, sunflowers and missing women and when the mystery is revealed I wasn’t super surprised. I wanted to know more about the town and get a better feel for the people, even the villains. I just wanted more from the story and I wanted to be spooked. Sunflower fields and a strange, small town with missing women has such a big potential to scare me, but this didn’t.

Why you should read it:

  • you like lite-horror and magical realism
  • the feminism message in the story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • didn’t scare me enough
  • slow start

My Thoughts:

This one didn’t work for me. I liked the concept and I like the creepy town, and the sunflowers fields, but it wasn’t as scary as I was expecting. I also feel like the story just didn’t flow easily. The bright spot for me in the story is the one about the girls working together to figure out why the women were going missing. The girls survive what is coming for them together, which is awesome, especially because it is such a dark story.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Nothing More to Tell by. Karen M. McManus | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Nothing More to Tell

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Author: Karen M. McManus

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 8/29/22

Categories: Young Adult, Thriller, Murder Mystery, Romance, Crime

True crime can leave a false trail.

Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favourite teacher. The case was never solved, but she’s sure that the three kids who found Mr. Larkin’s body know more than they’re telling, especially her ex-best friend Tripp Talbot. He’s definitely hiding something.

When Brynn gets an internship working on a popular true-crime show, she decides to investigate what really happened that day in the woods. But the further she dives into the past, the more secrets she finds.

Four years ago someone got away with murder. Now it’s time to uncover the truth . . .

Content Warning: neglectful parent, murder scene description, underage drinking

I’ve read one book from this author and enjoyed it. I’ve been meaning to read more so I decided to borrow this one and enjoyed it! Here’s what I thought:

+ The story flows so well and I could not figure who the murderer was yet had all my suspicions! I like many of the twists the story took, it really kept me on my toes and engaged. I read this in one sitting.

+ I like Brynn and Tripp a lot. They used to be friends, until Tripp pushed her away. Brynn moved away and is now back in Sturgis. Clearly Tripp had the biggest crush on her when they were kids, but it’s cute to see her like him now as they are older. I liked them together and though the romance takes a back seat, I did like that it was there because I’m a romance lover.

+ I thought the whole cast was great and had their roles to play. I love Brynn’s younger sister who actually helped Brynn kind of solve this murder mystery.

~ My major issue with the book is the ending. It didn’t seem like a totally shut case for who they suspected the murderer to be. I know the story was pulled in so many directions which left me guessing as to who really committed the crime, but even the ending didn’t give us solid evidence or a confession of the crime. This story may bug me…unless they turn it into a series. I want closure! lol

~ This is supposedly set in a private school and though it mentions the division between elite and dregs…not much comes out of that. It doesn’t show much division between the kids. So I’d say it didn’t really give off those vibes.

Tropes: childhood friends to enemies to lovers

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • kept me on my toes, it’s fun, engaging and entertaining – read it in one sitting
  • Brynn and Tripp’s little romance was cute in the midst of the murder mystery

Why you might not want to read it:

  • ending felt a little anti-climatic, is it going to be a series? 🤔

My Thoughts:

I’m glad I read this one, it kept me on the toes to the very end! I just wish the ending evidence around the supposedly killer was more concrete – it was left a bit open I think. So I’m not sure if there will be a spin off? It would be cool to see Brynn’s sister have her own story because that girl was on it and helping Brynn figure stuff out. Overall, I enjoyed this book!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Cousins | Book Review ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The River Has Teeth by. Erica Waters | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: The River Has Teeth

Format: hard cover (own)

Author: Erica Waters

Pages: 393

Publication Date: 7/26/21

Categories: Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Paranormal, Romance, Horror, LGBT+, Witches

Natasha’s sister is missing.

Her car was found abandoned on the edge of a local nature preserve known as the Bend, but as the case goes cold, Natasha’s loss turns to burning anger.

She’ll do anything to find answers.

Della’s family has channeled magic from the Bend for generations, providing spells for the desperate. But when Natasha appears on her doorstep, Della knows it will take more than simple potions to help her.

But Della has her own secrets to hide.

Because Della thinks she knows the beast who’s responsible for the disappearance — her own mother, who was turned into a terrible monster by magic gone wrong.

Natasha is angry. Della has little to lose.

They are each other’s only hope.

Content Warning: murder scene, violence, drugging someone

I’ve had this book on my shelf since summer and it was time to finally read it for spooky season! I love the book cover and was intrigued by the synopsis. Here is what I thought of the book:

+ I enjoyed the mystery and suspense of the story. I love the witchcraft and history and lore about The Bend and Lloyd family. I was intrigued with it throughout the whole book. I loved the atmosphere of the Bend and the woods, it was definitely creepy at times, especially in the abandoned prison!

+ The story is told between two perspectives. Natasha who is looking for her missing sister and Della, the witch, a recluse of a girl who lives in the woods with her dad. Della is a Lloyd and we learn about the magic and history through her. I felt like the author did a great job highlighting how women are treated if they disappear – she even mentions the difference between white and black women and who gets the most coverage in the news.

+ There is a romance that happens between Natasha and Della and though it doesn’t overtake the story, I thought it worked for this type of suspense and mystery story. It’s not a sweet romance, more like one of desperation and desire because of the heavy emotions both are going through but I like how they do fit together. They are opposites that attract one another. Natasha is headstrong and Della is more of someone who thinks things through.

~ I wasn’t vibing with Natasha’s character. I know she was in a rage and desperate to find her sister, I related to that but she was angry throughout the whole book. So angry she was blinded by it and her actions really weren’t thought out. It’s why Della being with her was a good balance. Natasha could have really lost herself in the anger by the end and transformed into something else but Della pulled her back.

Tropes: opposites attract, rich girl/poor girl

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • creepy, mysterious, great setting and very atmospheric
  • f/f romance, opposites attract
  • loved the lore of the The Bend and the witchcraft

Why you might not want to read it:

  • Natasha’s POV was full of anger, rightly so, but made her be rash about some of her decisions which annoyed me

My Thoughts:

I’m so glad I chose this to read for spooky season! It had the perfect creepy vibes, witchcraft, girls going missing and a possible serial killer on the loose. The Lloyd family has a fascinating history and a strong character in Della. I wish Natasha was just as likable but at times I was annoyed with her character. Overall though an enjoyable and entertaining story and I look forward to reading more from this author.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Weight of Blood by. Tiffany D. Jackson | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Weight of Blood

Author: Tiffany D. Jackson

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Pages: 416

Publication Date: 9/6/22

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Categories: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary, Carrie Reimagined, Racism

When Springville residents—at least the ones still alive—are questioned about what happened on prom night, they all have the same explanation… Maddy did it.

An outcast at her small-town Georgia high school, Madison Washington has always been a teasing target for bullies. And she’s dealt with it because she has more pressing problems to manage. Until the morning a surprise rainstorm reveals her most closely kept secret: Maddy is biracial. She has been passing for white her entire life at the behest of her fanatical white father, Thomas Washington.

After a viral bullying video pulls back the curtain on Springville High’s racist roots, student leaders come up with a plan to change their image: host the school’s first integrated prom as a show of unity. The popular white class president convinces her Black superstar quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date, leaving Maddy wondering if it’s possible to have a normal life.

But some of her classmates aren’t done with her just yet. And what they don’t know is that Maddy still has another secret… one that will cost them all their lives.

Content Warning: racism, bullying, child abuse

I haven’t read Carrie by Stephen King in years…and when I say years, I mean like 20 years ago! I also haven’t watched the original movie in so long. But it’s one of those iconic, memorable stories and movies because of that ending. When I saw this book cover I knew it would be a retelling or a reimagined Carrie, and by Tiffany D. Jackson, who is one of my favorite authors – I had to read it. Here’s what did and didn’t work for me:

+ Maddy has been passing off as white until one fateful day at school, it rains, and her hair puffs up into an afro. And they hate her for hiding that she is half black. She gets bullied by the white kids which starts the ball rolling onto the events that lead up to prom night. But no one knows Maddy’s home life – she is abused by her dad who believes in keeping her pure, hiding her hair, and having her watch shows from the 50’s- which made me remember the days in the 80’s as a child when I watched those shows like Leave it to Beaver! Talk about blast from the past.

+ This story is told from a podcast show as they review the events that happen and try to figure out why it happened. It is also told during when things are leading up to the prom. For the most part it worked out – because we get an insight into telekinesis and Maddy’s powers.

+ What I love about Tiffany D. Jackson’s books are that they are always thought provoking and talk about racism. In this story is Maddy and her being bi-racial and the way people react to her is telling in itself. She tackles issues about colorism and segregation. There is the white kids who bully Maddy, there is Kendrick’s sister who is mad that Maddy never claimed her blackness, and there is Wendy and Kendrick who try to make the whole situation right but it doesn’t turn out the way they planned. We learn about the town they live in and how they have segregated proms and after I did a quick google search because I was so curious, and apparently some towns in Georgia still have segregated proms! The article I read was printed in 2014, which kind of makes sense why The Weight of Blood takes place in 2014. I wondered about that year being used in the story!

+ I found all the characters so interesting. Maddy and her powers, Wendy and her goals to be with Kendrick (does she really love him or what he represents for her future?), Kendrick and the pressures he has to live up to, Kali who is proud to be black and is a fighter.

+ I love the lead up to prom and I think the author did such a great job with how it ends. There is carnage, there is chaos, and there is a whole town that is changed forever.

~ For the most part the podcast worked for me but I also wished the story was told without it because I felt like it interrupted the flow of the story. I understand that people were trying to analyze what happened though.

Tropes: girl with secret powers

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • great reimagining of Carrie but with a twist, including racial issues that we can relate to today
  • it’s got a great blend of psychology horror: with Maddy’s home life, her powers and the racism in town
  • compelling characters, great story-telling, thought provoking

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into Carrie

My Thoughts:

I say this over and over but I am such a big fan of Tiffany D. Jackson’s work. Her books are always thought provoking. The fact that racism in itself is part of the horror in this story makes a big impact. I love how the story leads up to the classic ending that is similar to Carrie. Only thing I wish was different was the whole podcast element because I think the story would have been great without it. Other than that, this was an entertaining book with that classic Carrie ending.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

I’m the Girl by. Courtney Summers | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: I’m the Girl

Author: Courtney Summers

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 9/12/22

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Categories: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary

The new groundbreaking queer thriller from New York Times bestselling and Edgar-award Winning author Courtney Summers.

When sixteen-year-old Georgia Avis discovers the dead body of thirteen-year-old Ashley James, she teams up with Ashley’s older sister, Nora, to find and bring the killer to justice before he strikes again. But their investigation throws Georgia into a world of unimaginable privilege and wealth, without conscience or consequence, and as Ashley’s killer closes in, Georgia will discover when money, power and beauty rule, it might not be a matter of who is guilty—but who is guiltiest.

A spiritual successor to the 2018 breakout hit, SadieI’m the Girl is a masterfully written, bold, and unflinching account of how one young woman feels in her body as she struggles to navigate a deadly and predatory power structure while asking readers one question: if this is the way the world is, do you accept it?

Content Warning: sexual assault, rape, murder, grooming

There are some books I have no clue how to rate because I hated every part of the subject matter of this book and yet the writing is so captivating that I read it in one sitting. I want to call this book something like realistic horror because all of it happens in our world way too much. This is what did and didn’t work for me:

+ I read Sadie and loved it because it’s an important read, it broke my heart. I cheered Sadie on. This book is a different beast altogether and asks the question: if this is the way the world is, do you accept it? The one time Georgia is told she is beautiful by a rich and powerful man she is obsessed with this idea to belong in his world. The world of Aspera, a resort that caters to the elite, the very rich, the very famous. But even though her mom told her it’s not the kind of place Georgia should aspire to, she defiantly reaches for the dream her mom tells her to gorget. Beauty is her power and she wants to belong. Georgia finds out a few things when she starts working at Aspera…and its horrific.

+ This is not an easy read. It’s uncomfortable and I was disgusted throughout the whole thing but it’s compelling too. I was looking over at my daughter wondering how I can protect her from being prey. There is lots of triggering topics in this book: sexual assault, rape, murder, sex trafficking, a boys club who can do whatever they want and get away with it. Think Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell’s of the world….this is the world Georgia has made herself covet without really knowing. She doesn’t see what is behind the glitz and glamour…and only sees when it’s too late. And she’s a teenager! That’s the crazy thing about this whole story, she’s a kid!

+ There is a murder that needs to be solved that Georgia is tied to because she found the body. But there are things that the murderer has taken from Georgia that night when he hit her bike with his car. So does that mean he is out there and coming back for her? There were some moments when the mystery of the killer is out there where the story had some suspenseful moments. But the really scary parts of this books is plain to see and in vivid detail.

+ There is two bright spots in Georgia’s life. Her half brother Tyler who is trying his best to keep her safe as best he can. And Nora, the murdered victim’s sister who because a rock for Georgia to lean on, no matter what.

~ There were so many times….so many times I wanted to shake Georgia. She seems naive but it’s mostly because she doesn’t want to see that all the glitter isn’t gold. But the danger she is in…the things she does to accept her Aspera goals. I kept wanting to tell her it is NOT worth it. None of it is and how didn’t she know she was in danger when a way older man is doing things to her…but that’s what grooming is. Still – I was just so mad.

~ And why wouldn’t her mom and brother just tell her what happened to her mom at Aspera. Like tell the girl so she would stop wanting to be an Aspera girl. At least tell the truth. So much kept happening to Georgia and she just kept jumping back into the fire because she was obsessed with Aspera. Did I say I wanted to shake her?

~ The ending didn’t feel as impactful as I was hoping. But when I did sit and think about it, I can see why it ended like that. Georgia isn’t the type of girl who fights back, as we can see throughout the whole story, her whole world was banking on being an Aspera girl. But on the other hand, Nora is the girl who is a fighter. We have a Georgia and Nora in all of us.

Tropes: girl who let’s things happen until it’s almost too late

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • important story about balance of power in society: class and gender. It brings up sexual assault and violence.
  • the question is the thing to keep in mind while you read this: if this is the way the world is, do you accept it?

Why you might not want to read it:

  • triggering story – triggers EVERYWHERE. Rape, sexual assault, murder, grooming…such a hard and uncomfortable story to read.

My Thoughts:

Read it for the issues it brings up, but don’t expect to feel good after this story. I think it’s safe to say this author tackles some hard subjects in her books. I like the question the book poses to the reader and I hope as the book hopes by the end…that the answer is NO, we won’t accept the world this way.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

  • Book Review | Sadie ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
  • The Project – Audiobook – DNF, only because I really suck at paying attention to audiobooks. I’ll have to go back and finish it by reading a copy of it. I got 50% through though and still remember what the story is about.

The Getaway by. Lamar Giles | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Getaway

Author: Lamar Giles

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 9/19/22

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Categories: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery, Dystopia, Suspense

Welcome to the funnest spot around . . .

Jay is living his best life at Karloff Country, one of the world’s most famous resorts. He’s got his family, his crew, and an incredible after-school job at the property’s main theme park. Life isn’t so great for the rest of the world, but when people come here to vacation, it’s to get away from all that.

As things outside get worse, trouble starts seeping into Karloff. First, Jay’s friend Connie and her family disappear in the middle of the night and no one will talk about it. Then the richest and most powerful families start arriving, only… they aren’t leaving. Unknown to the employees, the resort has been selling shares in an end-of-the-world oasis. The best of the best at the end of days. And in order to deliver the top-notch customer service the wealthy clientele paid for, the employees will be at their total beck and call.

Whether they like it or not.

Yet Karloff Country didn’t count on Jay and his crew–and just how far they’ll go to find out the truth and save themselves. But what’s more dangerous: the monster you know in your home or the unknown nightmare outside the walls?

Content Warning: gore, violence, racism

I went into this blind! I like the creepy cover and since it’s October, I wanted something to set the spooky season mood. This wasn’t as spooky as I wanted it to be but horrifying…absolutely. Here’s what did and didn’t work for me:

+ The cover sets the tone. The concept for this story is great! Karloff County is a famous resort – think amusement park, high quality service, someplace people go to be entertained. I kept thinking of Disneyland when I read this book and how nothing is “perfect”. So this pretend utopia living is not all what it seems – there is something wrong and throughout the story it just gets worse!

+ World building was interesting. We get a really good glimpse of how people Karloff County is run and who lives there to make it function. They rely on workers called Helpers to make people who visit get the full, happy experience. This is set in a dystopian society though so apparently everything outside the walls of the county is chaos. Jay, one of our main characters, mentions world hunger, riots, and protests outside of the county so it sounds dire. We eventually learn the real goals of the Karloff family and investors and it is quite sinister.

+ I think the story did a good job of keeping me engaged to get me to the big reveal. And the reveal is pretty horrifying. Karloff County is supposed to be this refuge that Jay and his family and others have found as a blessing, but when things change – the place they love starts to turn on them. The story did a good job of addressing race and classism in this story especially since it is set in such a place as Karloff County.

~ It’s told through four perspectives so although I liked getting to know each of the four friends: Jay, Zeke, Connie and Chelle – I felt like we didn’t get to know them very well. I think I connected to Jay more than anyway and Chelle, I didn’t trust. There is a little romance that gets addressed in the beginning but it’s not something that is sustained throughout the book. It’s not a focus but I thought maybe because it was discussed right away, it would have made a bigger impact down the line.

Tropes: amusement park horror, suburban-utopia creepiness

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • to see what is really going on in Karloff County
  • I love how Karloff County was known as this paradise to all the world, but it’s a fake/bought paradise – all an illusion and the author let us know how scary that can be
  • you like the kind of thrillers that builds slowly but really horrifies you at the end of it

Why you might not want to read it:

  • definitely be in the mood for a dystopian, mystery-thriller with the payoff at the end

My Thoughts:

I found this to be a quick read and one that wasn’t super and blatant horror until the last pages. I love the concept of the story and how the story brings in racism and classism into the story. The setting of Karloff County is perfect and made me realize how creepy an amusement park type of utopia can be! I’m glad I read this one and look forward to reading more from this author!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Our Crooked Hearts by. Melissa Albert | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Our Crooked Hearts

Author: Melissa Albert

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Pages: 339

Publication Date: 6/28/22

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Categories: Young Adult, Witchcraft, Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Contemporary, YA Thriller


Seventeen-year-old Ivy’s summer break kicks off with an accident, a punishment, and a mystery: a stranger whose appearance in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night, heralds a string of increasingly unsettling events. As the days pass, Ivy grapples with eerie offerings, corroded memories, and a secret she’s always known—that there’s more to her mother than meets the eye.


Dana has always been perceptive. And the summer she turns sixteen, with the help of her best friend and an ambitious older girl, her gifts bloom into a heady fling with the supernatural, set in a city of magical possibilities and secret mystics. As the trio’s aspirations darken, they find themselves speeding toward a violent breaking point.

Years after it began, Ivy and Dana’s shared story will come down to a reckoning among a daughter, a mother, and the dark forces they never should’ve messed with.

Content Warning: violence, blood, animal death

I went into this one expecting nothing and thoroughly enjoyed it! I’ve read Melissa Albert’s Hazel Wood series and honestly thought her books were not for me. I was curious about this one because it was about witchcraft and with the way she writes, I thought maybe…just maybe, this would be better than The Hazel Wood. Here’s what I thought did and didn’t work for me:

+ The witchcraft is dark and sinister, just how I like it. At first we follow Ivy, who’s a teenager who comes upon a strange girl in the woods. After that the story sucks you into the mystery of the girl, and Ivy’s mom’s secretive past. It’s one of those stories where I don’t know where it leads but it takes you on a twisty, dark journey until all the secrets are revealed. One of the best things about this story is how it unfolds.

+ The story is told between Dana’s past and Ivy’s present and I think it was well done and I was interested in both timelines. It merges together in the climax of the story. The writing is lyrical and dark, and I especially liked when we are in Dana’s past which is set in the 1990’s. I could visually see it all (since I grew up in that time).

+ There are some choices that Dana makes that affects Ivy and it’s something as mother and daughter that puts a wedge between them. Even now as I think about it all, I wonder if Dana could have done something else different to keep her daughter safe from her past.

+ There is a tiny bit of romance, but it’s not a main focus of the book.

~ The beginning may seem a little slow because it’s building the story of the past and it is also part mystery on Ivy’s part.

~ The book is atmospheric but if you aren’t into lyrical prose, this might not be your thing. I’m on the fence with her writing but I feel like for this type of book – where it’s creepy, mysterious and edgy too – it works. Witchcraft and Melissa Albert goes well together! It gave me flashbacks of the movie The Craft – especially when Dana is telling her story because her story is set the 90’s.

Tropes: family secrets, best friends for life

Why you should read it:

  • there is witchcraft and I love how twisty this story is
  • Dana and Ivy’s mother daughter relationship is strained – but you have to find out why
  • atmospheric, creepy, thrilling and so dark

Why you might not want to read it:

  • a little slow to get into only because it is a mystery but it picks up once the pieces fall into place
  • lyrical prose

My Thoughts:

I didn’t know what to expect with this one but I enjoyed it a lot! I was craving a good, spooky witchy book and this had all those elements and more. I was really invested in how Dana and Ivy’s story intertwined and how the consequences of Dana’s past would surface. If you like dark, witchy books with a few twists, you might enjoy this one! I hope the author writes more books like this one!

📚 ~ Yolanda

Other books I’ve reviewed from this Author:

The Hazel Wood by. Melissa Albert – 3.5 STARS

The Night Country (The Hazel Wood, #2) by. Melissa Albert – 2.5 STARS

Quotes From the Book:

He’d had all these ideas about who I was—that’s one of the perils of being quiet, people invent personalities for you—”

~Melissa Albert, Our Crooked Hearts

A mother can be a paring knife, a chisel. She can shape and destroy. I never really thought I would become one.”

~Melissa Albert, Our Crooked Hearts

magic was a thing with teeth, and a history as old as the world.”

~Melissa Albert, Our Crooked Hearts

The Hacienda by. Isabel Cañas | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Hacienda

Author: Isabel Cañas

Format: ebooks (borrowed)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 5/3/22

Publisher: Berkley

Categories: Gothic Horror, Historical Fiction, Forbidden Romance, Young Adult, Supernatural

In the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father is executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.

But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark its doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?

Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will help her.

Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness. 

Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.

Content Warning: abuse, gory scenes, cheating

I don’t read a lot of horror, but I really enjoy gothic horror type of stories so when I see it I try to get a copy to read it.

+ What I love about historical gothic fiction is the history facts I get in the story. This one takes place after the period of Mexico’s War of Independence which I know nothing about. I learned a lot just from this story alone about the casta system, the racial issues and socioeconomics of the hacienda owners, colonialism and religion – I mean they were threatening to bring people to the Inquisition which I knew happened a long, long time ago like in the 1300’s or something like that, but I didn’t know it was still happening in the 1800’s! A lot of eye opening information.

+ The gothic atmosphere around the hacienda was really creepy and chilling especially at night. You know something is wrong, the house is clearly haunted by some evil spirit but we don’t know why. There is a bit of a mystery about the first wife of Don Rodolfo Solórzano, and Beatriz being his second wife is the target of some entity or someone in the house.

+ There is haunts, there are scary hallucinations, there are gory bloody scenes and witchcraft. It made me even question if I should walk in the dark to the bathroom because I was reading late at night lol. That’s what I want in a horror/gothic story.

+ I liked Beatriz and found her to be really brave while dealing with a haunted house without any support and no husband by her side. Even though she was terrified night after night, she slept there – that would so NOT be me lol. I felt like she was so fed up with the spirit haunting her, I liked her fighting spirit.

~ There isn’t much scenes between Beatriz and her husband. He leaves right away to go somewhere after he drops her off at the hacienda. So her budding forbidden romance with Padre Andrés had lots of room to grow. I wasn’t into it though – and not because he was a priest – I get that it’s a forbidden love situation and what’s more forbidden than a priest and a married woman?! I understood his and his family’s reasoning to pushing him into priesthood but I did like them as friends. I didn’t quite feel the chemistry between them.

~ Like with most mysteries, it feels like a slow read, especially in the beginning when we don’t know much about the history of the house or Beatriz’ husband and his first wife. Once we get more information, it picks up. I did feel like I wish Padre Andrés had more witchcraft powers – he seemed so weak against the spirit at times. Maybe I was just expecting too much from him.

Why you should read it:

  • you like mysterious gothic, historical fiction with a bit of creep factor and lite horror
  • the time period and information we get about the state of Mexico after the War of Independence
  • thrills, chills and lush world-building

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into horror
  • not into forbidden love between a priest and married woman
  • kinda slow at first

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this one because it gave me scared to read at night haha – especially once night came to the hacienda! Some parts were a bit slow but once Beatriz and Padre Andrés set to exorcizing the house of the spirit, there is a bit of action. I enjoyed all the historical aspects of the book and found it an entertaining story. I look forward to reading more from this author.

📚 ~ Yolanda

Quotes From the Book:

Life has a way of taking the wind out of our dreams sometimes…”

Judy I. Lin, A Magic Steeped in Poison

Tea for me is home, is joy, is family.”

Judy I. Lin, A Magic Steeped in Poison

Human hands make mistakes, Ning, but they are the hands the gods gave us. We use them to make amends, to do good things.”

Judy I. Lin, A Magic Steeped in Poison

Never Coming Home by. Kate Williams | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Never Coming Home

Author: Kate Williams

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 6/21/22

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Categories: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Horror

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Delacorte Press for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

The beach read you have been dying for! When ten of America’s hottest teenage influencers are invited to an exclusive island resort, things are sure to get wild. But murder isn’t what anyone expected. Will anyone survive?

Everyone knows Unknown Island—it’s the world’s most exclusive destination. Think white sand beaches, turquoise seas, and luxury accommodations. Plus, it’s invite only, no one over twenty-one allowed, and it’s absolutely free. Who wouldn’t want to go?

After launching with a showstopping viral marketing campaign, the whole world is watching as the mysterious resort opens its doors to the First Ten, the ten elite influencers specifically chosen to be the first to experience everything Unknown Island has to offer. You know them. There’s the gamer, the beauty blogger, the rich girl, the superstar, the junior politician, the environmentalist, the DJ, the CEO, the chef, and the athlete.

What they don’t know is that they weren’t invited to Unknown Island for their following—they were invited for their secrets. Everyone is hiding a deadly one, and it looks like someone’s decided it’s payback time. Unknown Island isn’t a vacation, it’s a trap. And it’s beginning to look like the First Ten—no matter how influential—are never coming home.

Content Warning: Murder, Death, Drug Use, Suicide

This was an interesting story that kept me on my toes even though I had an inkling of who the murderer was after the first murder.

I did like the premise of the story. A bunch of social media influencers get invited to an exclusive, mysterious island – they assume it will boost their following but when they arrive there, they figure out real fast that something is off. Did it make me think of the Fyre Festival debacle? For sure. One by one the influencers start dying. It seems like someone wants revenge because each of these influencers have a past. Each one of them is tied to a death and now they are being killed off one by one on this island.

The murders happen fairly quick and this is the type of story that takes place in 24 hours, except in this case it is 48 hours I believe – though it felt like a week at least. How can all that killing happen in one day? A mastermind must be behind it all. I had my suspicions who it was which turned out right but didn’t know exactly how the person was pulling it off. We get an explanation in the end though.

As for the characters, I think the only one who I thought was interesting was Manny, but maybe because we had more time in his head than the other characters. And Emma Jane was interesting also. I did like learning about each character’s back story especially with how they were tied to a death.

The ending was interesting, we get an explanation of how things happened by way of social media commenters – it reminded me of how people on TikTok like to try and figure it out murder cases as a community. But I don’t think that it totally worked for me, I was left a little unsatisfied with it.

Why you should read it:

  • take the Fyre Festival incident and add murder to it and you have a story that could be a reality show type slasher movie
  • to see who the murderer is and why
  • you like thrillers and mysteries

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into gruesome murder

My Thoughts:

This was a quick read and it kept me on my toes even though my suspicions about who the killer was correct. It was interesting to see how the person pulled it off. I think the story did a good job of exploring the issue of who gets to decide who deserves death. Each person on this island has a story to tell, but were they deserving death because of the mistakes they made in their life? Though it was a quick read I did feel somewhat unsatisfied at the end of it. But this one could definitely be made into a slasher movie, and I’d definitely watch it, but close my eyes during a few parts.

📚 ~ Yolanda

BLOG TOUR} Mrs. England by. Stacey Halls | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Mrs. England

Author: Stacey Halls

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

BUY HERE: BookShop.org | Harlequin | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s

Publication Date: 4/12/22

Publisher: MIRA

Categories: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Gothic

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to MIRA for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Simmering with slow-burning menace,  Mrs. England  is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, an enthralling tale of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. 

West Yorkshire, 1904. When recently graduated Ruby May takes a nanny position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear something is not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs. England.

Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband and is far from the angel of the house Ruby was expecting.

As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracized by the servants and increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family—she should know.

This captivating new feminist novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Stacey Halls  is her third work of fiction and proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our time. 

Content Warning: Abuse, Manipulation, Misogyny

I read this in one sitting and my favorite part of the book has to be the setting and all the details the author gave us about West Yorkshire, England. I could totally imagine the pollution in the air due to the industrial jobs around at that time. I don’t know how anyone could breathe well there! I love how remote location of Hardcastle House, it really added mystery and a creepy undertone, giving the feeling that something wasn’t right in the town…or in the family. But what it is – we don’t find out until later. Ruby’s position as nanny/nurse was very well detailed also. She was a very fleshed out character and through her eyes we see the ongoings within the England household where something is amiss but we don’t fully know the extent until the end.

I thought the story did a good job of making me suspicious of everyone around Ruby, except for the kids, who are amazing kids with different personalities. I was as attached to them as Ruby were. Ruby was indeed a good nanny to her charges. Mrs. England was so mystery, aloof and inattentive towards her children, seeming afraid of her husband and just absolutely unhappy – but is she a danger to herself like Mr. England tells Ruby?

The writing is fantastic and kept me hooked into the story.

The things that didn’t quite work for me was I felt like nothing much happened in the story until the very end. I found the writing and the household dynamic interesting enough that it held my interest but in the end, I felt like it was missing something. I wish there was more suspense. Also there were some interesting feelings Ruby was feeling for a man in the town who was already engaged to one of the maids at the house – not sure where it was going with that storyline but it went nowhere.

Why you should read it:

  • you like historical fiction with some mystery that involved a dysfunctional marriage and a nanny
  • good writing
  • great setting details

Why you might not want to read it:

  • for me it fell a little flat, needs more suspense

My Thoughts:

I read this in one sitting because I found the writing to be wonderful plus it gave me some suspenseful vibes but I feel like it fell short and had to much more potential to surprise me. I love the setting and characters but I wish more of the action happened earlier in the book instead of at the end of the story. I look forward to reading more from this author.

📚 ~ Yolanda

About the Author:

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and has written for publications including the Guardian, Stylist, Psychologies, the Independent, the Sun and Fabulous. Both of her first two novels, The Familiars and The Lost Orphan, were Sunday Times bestsellers, Mrs England is her third novel.

Author Website | Twitter: @stacey_halls | Instagram:@staceyhallsauthor | Goodreads