THE STARS OF WHISTLING RIDGE by Cindy Baldwin


Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Release Date: June 15, 2021

✦ Middle Grade Magical Realism ✦

“Ivy Mae Bloom is almost thirteen years old, her name is almost a complete sentence, and her family’s RV is almost a home.”

THE STARS OF WHISTLING RIDGE is a magical middle grade story of a girl desperate for a forever home, and ultimately learning that “home” means more than just a stationary building. Ivy Mae Bloom’s mother and two aunts are fallen stars in human form, and they control the magic in different parts of the country. Ivy’s family is constantly on the move, traveling from place to place so her mother can help people by granting wishes.

Even though her mom warned her that sometimes wishes were unpredictable, Ivy steals the wish jars and dreams of a permeant home like her Aunt Agatha has in Whistling Ridge, North Carolina. Not long after, the family ends up stranded in Whistling Ridge, and they learn that the town is plagued by a sinister force destroying its magic. Ivy is then faced with a dilemma, since saving the town will mean having to move on again.

Ivy is a relatable character as she faces conflicts with her parents & siblings, the challenge of making new friends, and doing the right thing even if it means not getting what she wants. I enjoyed the mystery of Whistling Ridge’s curse, and how clever Ivy was to research the town’s history and try to fit the puzzle pieces together. The ending was satisfying with Ivy learning a lot about herself, her family, and what “home” truly means. Recommended to fans of magical realism and mystery. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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

πŸ“š Find THE STARS OF WHISTLING RIDGE on Goodreads πŸ“š

THE LISTENING HOUSE by Mabel Seeley


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 8, 2021

First published in 1938, THE LISTENING HOUSE was the debut crime novel of Mabel Seeley, who came to be known as β€œThe Mistress of Mystery.” I’m glad Berkley is reissuing some of her books, because before spotting this one I was not familiar with Seeley’s work.

The main character Gwynne Dacres is a young, independent woman, making her way through the Depression years. After losing her job as a copywriter, she moves into a creepy boarding house run by a grumpy, paranoid woman who’s convinced her tenants are snooping through her things.

Gwynne, too, feels like there’s something off about the house, that something or someone is always listening. Her situation becomes more precarious when back to back suspicious deaths occur at the house. Gwynne gets wrapped up in the investigation when someone targets her, and uncovers some sinister secrets tied to the past.

There was a big group of potential suspects, and I enjoyed their characterizations. I definitely felt like I was sitting among a group of real folks from the 1930s. The mystery was dark and intricate, though I think it dragged in some places. There was even a romance for Gwynne, and plenty of humor mixed in. I’d recommend to fans of mysteries who enjoy the golden age of detective fiction. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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

πŸ“š Find THE LISTENING HOUSE on Goodreads πŸ“š

Vintage Gothic Romance: GHOSTWIND by Rachel Ann Payne

Publisher: Paperback Library
Release Date: November 1966

“A madman stalks Jane Corby at sinister Hampton Hill.”

Oh, Jane Corby! Just ever so slightly too dumb to live. It’s 1867, and Jane, a young New York City librarian, is hired to catalog the extensive library at Hampton Hill, a mansion in a remote area near Syracuse. Locals aren’t too keen on the house’s new owner, the reclusive Captain Ralf Hampton. Something is off about him, his fickle personality, and his entire situation, but Jane can’t help falling in love.

“You just be sure he’s not a wicked man with a key to your door.”

The first half of the book was a little slow, and I did not understand Jane’s insta-love for Ralf, considering she felt threatened by his abusive temperament much of the time. By the second half, the pacing picked up as Jane set out to uncover the mysteries of Hampton Hill and the creepy family vault in the cemetery. I enjoyed the twists and a bit of Civil War history woven into the story, plus, how wonderful that Jane is a librarian. Rating: Good.

GHOSTWIND was originally published in 1966 by Paperback Library. Rachel Ann Payne is a pen name used by John Jakes. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME by Laura Dave

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 4, 2021

Wow, I loved this book! THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME is an unputdownable twisty suspense novel and family drama that hooked me right away.

Owen and Hannah have only been married a short time when he suddenly disappears. Owen’s last message to Hannah was a note saying, “Protect her,” and she immediately knows he’s referring to his 16-year old daughter, Bailey, whose own mother died when she was very young.

Hannah and her stepdaughter have a chilly relationship, with Bailey wanting nothing to do with her. However, their quest to figure out what happened to Owen and what he’s been hiding begins to change their dynamic.

This is one of the best domestic suspense novels I’ve read, with realistic characters and a believable story. I enjoyed the author’s wonderful, absorbing writing. The last line of the book got me choked up a bit! Highly recommended. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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

πŸ“š Find THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME on GoodreadsΒ πŸ“š

THE DROWNING KIND by Jennifer McMahon


Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Release Date: April 6, 2021

β˜† Don’t go near the water β˜†

THE DROWNING KIND is a wonderfully creepy book! In Brandenburg, Vermont, and surrounding areas, the legend is that a dark pool of water fed by a natural spring has the power to grant wishes β€” but when it gives, it also takes something away.

The murky water connects the two storylines in this book: Ethel in 1929, desperately wishing for a child of her own, and Jax in present day, returning to her deceased grandmother’s home after her sister Lexie drowns in the pool. In her last weeks, Lexie uncovered clues to the history of pool, but will Jax be able to decipher her sister’s notes and discover what’s really at the bottom?

This was an eerie, atmospheric story with a vivid sense of place. The pool itself felt alive and so menacing! The ending was quite a shocker. It’s one that I had to reread just to make sure I understood what happened. I was left with some lingering questions, but overall I enjoyed it. I connected most with Ethel’s story and my heart went out to her. Recommended to fans of haunting, slow-burn paranormal suspense. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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

πŸ“š Find THE DROWNING KIND on GoodreadsΒ πŸ“š