THE COMPANION by Katie Alender


Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 25, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


The other orphans say Margot is lucky.

Lucky to survive the horrible accident that killed her family.

Lucky to have her own room because she wakes up screaming every night.

And finally, lucky to be chosen by a prestigious family to live at their remote country estate.

But it wasn’t luck that made the Suttons rescue Margot from her bleak existence at the group home. Margot was handpicked to be a companion to their silent, mysterious daughter, Agatha. At first, helping with Agatha–and getting to know her handsome older brother–seems much better than the group home. But soon, the isolated, gothic house begins playing tricks on Margot’s mind, making her question everything she believes about the Suttons . . . and herself.

Margot’s bad dreams may have stopped when she came to live with Agatha – but the real nightmare has just begun.


“So I lay in the dark without making a sound, waiting and wanting to die. Three months later, I was still waiting.”

THE COMPANION is a creepy and addictive YA thriller that put me on edge. Sixteen-year old Margot is orphaned when her family dies in an accident, and she ends up in a group home for several months. The other girls consider her “lucky” when a prestigious family takes her into their home, a remote Gothic mansion in the country. But there’s a catch — Margot was chosen because the Sutton family wants her to be a companion to their silent and curious daughter, Agatha.

Copeland Hall may be beautiful and grand, but Margot can sense that something is off. She slowly uncovers its disturbing history, while always looking over her shoulder. What secrets are lurking in the shadows of the ominous manor, and what’s behind the locked garden gate?

Margot was a compelling character, and I loved the bravery and humor she kept throughout the book. Agatha was a mystery! I enjoyed the unique bond that formed between the two girls. You knew there was something just below the surface that Agatha so badly wanted to say…..

THE COMPANION was an intriguing mystery, and though I guessed right at some of the twists, it was an enjoyable read. If you’re looking for a tense and eerie page-turner perfect for the spooky season, this is it!

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review.

SCRITCH SCRATCH by Lindsay Currie @SourcebooksKids


Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★


For fans of Small Spaces comes a chilling ghost story about a malevolent spirit, an unlucky girl, and a haunting mystery that will tie the two together.

Claire has absolutely no interest in the paranormal. She’s a scientist, which is why she can’t think of anything worse than having to help out her dad on one of his ghost-themed Chicago bus tours. She thinks she’s made it through when she sees a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus. There’s something off about his presence, especially because when she checks at the end of the tour…he’s gone.

Claire tries to brush it off, she must be imagining things, letting her dad’s ghost stories get the best of her. But then the scratching starts. Voices whisper to her in the dark. The number 396 appears everywhere she turns. And the boy with the dark eyes starts following her.

Claire is being haunted. The boy from the bus wants something…and Claire needs to find out what before it’s too late.


SCRITCH SCRATCH is a fantastic and spooky middle grade book that blends Chicago history, an intriguing ghostly mystery, and a story of friendship. Claire’s 7th-grade year has been a challenge, with her dad’s ghost tour business being super embarrassing, and a new girl moving in to steal her best friend.

Claire is a scientist and doesn’t believe any of that paranormal nonsense her dad is pushing, until one night she’s forced to help him on his ghost tour, and a very troubled spirit follows her home. Claire must overcome her fear of new situations and new people, while using her tried and true scientific method to solve the mystery of the ghost boy.

“Look for the story history doesn’t tell, because that might be the one that matters.”

As the parent of a middle grader, I feel like SCRITCH SCRATCH had just the right amount scariness for this age group, and the Chicago history woven into the story was fascinating. I ended up researching all of the places and events mentioned for even more details and pictures. I had heard the legend of Resurrection Mary, but the rest were new to me. Some were truly heartbreaking.

I loved the message of friendship and the rewards of opening your heart to new people. Claire’s relationship with her older brother Sam was wonderful too. SCRITCH SCRATCH is the perfect spooky read for Halloween or any time you’re in the mood for a chilling ghost story. Highly recommended!

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through the Early Reads program from Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review.

CLIMATE CHANGE FOR BABIES by Chris Ferrie @SourcebooksKids


Publisher: Sourcebooks Explore
Release Date: August 18, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★


A colorfully simple explanation of the science behind climate change, from the #1 science author for kids!

Climate Change for Babies is an engaging, basic introduction for youngsters (and grownups!) to the complex questions of what climate change is and what we can do about it. Full of scientific information and written by experts, this timely installment of the Baby University board book series is perfect for enlightening the next generation of geniuses. After all, it’s never too early to become a scientist!


Thank you to the publisher for the review copy of CLIMATE CHANGE FOR BABIES. This simple yet informative board book is meant for the youngest of book lovers, but its message on climate change will educate readers of all ages. The drawings and colors will draw the attention, but it’s the lesson that’s important. The author uses terms and concepts that very young children can relate to, such as referring to our atmosphere as a blanket, and that global warming makes us too hot under the blanket. I’m sure the pictures of cows passing gas will have kiddos giggling. Not only does the book explain what happens when we don’t take care of our home planet, it presents ways we can help the Earth before it’s too late.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

What I’ve Been Reading Lately 📚 #DarkCorners #HushCollection

“By all these lovely tokens, September days are here, with summer’s best of weather, and autumn’s best of cheer.” — Helen Hunt Jackson

Instagram 📷 | Pinterest 📌 | Goodreads 📖


📙 THE SLEEP TIGHT MOTEL by Lisa Unger (★★★★★) | A Dark Corners short story from Amazon. Lots of creepy goodness packed into less than 50 pages! A woman running from an abusive ex and the police takes refuge in a roadside motel on a isolated stretch of highway. Even though Eve is the only guest, she keeps hearing weird and disturbing noises at night coming from the room next door. Is she brave enough to find out what’s happening on the other side of the wall? Highly recommended to fans of spooky motel stories.

📘 SLOW BURNER by Laura Lippman (★★★★★) | A Hush Collection short story from Amazon. An intriguing dose of domestic suspense! I loved this one. Phil was caught cheating once, and has promised not to do it again. Liz believed him, until she finds his secret burner phone that suggests otherwise. Instead of confronting him, she quietly reads his back and forth flirty texts with another woman. Realizing that he will never change, what will she do? Great twisty ending.

📙 HANNAH-BEAST by Jennifer McMahon (★★★★) | A Dark Corners short story from Amazon. Yikes. This was a horrifying and gruesome Halloween tidbit. Find out what a group of mean girls from 1982 and 30+ years of guilt will do! Enjoyable, yet disturbing, psychological suspense.

📘 I KILLED ZOE SPANOS by Kit Frick (★★★★) | Very good! This novel is a young adult psychological suspense with a Rebecca-like atmosphere and a modern twist — a teen-hosted true crime podcast. Recommend if you enjoy Gothic mystery/suspense. Read for the B&N YA Book Club.

📙 THE SEARCH PARTY by Simon Lelic (★★) | Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to review THE SEARCH PARTY. Unfortunately this book wasn’t my cup of tea. I was intrigued by the premise, and the intro sure grabbed me — until the teenagers started their monologues. Their chapters were just ramblings, and honestly I could barely differentiate between the speakers. I did enjoy Detective Fleet’s character, and it was a relief to return to his POV. The twisty ending was exciting, but overall I didn’t enjoy THE SEARCH PARTY like I did his previous thrillers.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

BEAUTY MARK: A VERSE NOVEL OF MARILYN MONROE by Carole Boston Weatherford


Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


In a powerful novel in verse, an award-winning author offers an eye-opening look at the life of Marilyn Monroe.

From the day she was born into a troubled home to her reigning days as a Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe (née Norma Jeane Mortenson) lived a life that was often defined by others. Here, in a luminous poetic narrative, acclaimed author Carole Boston Weatherford tells Marilyn’s story in a way that restores her voice to its rightful place: center stage. Revisiting Marilyn’s often traumatic early life — foster homes, loneliness, sexual abuse, teen marriage — through a hard-won, meteoric rise to stardom that brought with it exploitation, pill dependency, and depression, the lyrical narrative continues through Marilyn’s famous performance at JFK’s birthday party, three months before her death. In a story at once riveting, moving, and unflinching, Carole Boston Weatherford tells a tale of extraordinary pain and moments of unexpected grace, gumption, and perseverance, as well as the inexorable power of pursuing one’s dreams. A beautifully designed volume.


I’ve always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe, a captivating icon who hid a lot of pain behind her dazzling smile. Author Carole Boston Weatherford has done a beautiful job giving Marilyn a voice to tell us her own amazing yet heartbreaking story in poems.

The novel is written mainly in first person free verse format, beginning with Marilyn’s childhood, then moving through her adult life as a star, and ending just a few weeks before her death. Though this is fictional retelling of Marilyn’s life, the poems are very raw and personal, like lyrical journal entries.

BEAUTY MARK gives us a poignant look at the complicated, intelligent, and troubled woman underneath the beauty. Gorgeous & heartrending.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers Program in exchange for an honest review.