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

ONE STEP BEHIND by Lauren North


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★½


A woman pushed to the breaking point by a stalker develops an obsession of her own in this shocking new novel of psychological suspense from the acclaimed author of The Perfect Son.

Jenna is a wife, a mother, a doctor. She’s also the victim of a stalker. Frightening “gifts” are left on her doorstep, her home is broken in to, and when she leaves her house to take her children to school, he’s waiting. She feels powerless, and the police are unable to help.

Then her stalker is brought into the emergency room after a terrible accident, and Jenna has to treat the man who’s been tormenting her for months. With her stalker in a coma, Jenna is desperate to understand the life of this seemingly normal man. When she finds startling images on his phone, she is consumed by her need for answers–and her own obsession leads her down a twisting path of destruction.

Just how far is Jenna willing to go to take back control of her life?


ONE STEP BEHIND presents an intriguing and difficult dilemma for main character Jenna, a mom, ER doctor, and victim of a relentless stalker. After a year of receiving threatening messages and disturbing “gifts,” Jenna is at the breaking point. The police have made no progress in the case, and Jenna fears for herself and family. Then one day her stalker is wheeled into the emergency room near death after an accident. Now that she has control over his life, how far is she willing to go?

This book is a fast-paced and tense domestic thriller that shows what can happen when someone is threatened and put under mental stress for so long. Jenna’s behavior gets a bit wacky as she investigates her stalker, but I can’t say I blame her. I enjoyed how Jenna’s chapters are written in second person, with the “you” she’s talking to being her stalker.

The author crafted several red herrings and suspicious characters that kept me guessing. I thought the alternating chapters with another character, particularly the backstory, dragged a bit. Another quibble I had was that I thought the final twist, the “reasoning” behind the stalking, was a bit unbelievable. Still, it was an intense ending to wrap up the story. Recommend to readers who would enjoy a cat-and-mouse mystery.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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

ONE BY ONE by Ruth Ware


Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★★½


The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?


Ruth Ware gives a modern twist to a classic Christie-inspired mystery in her latest thriller, ONE BY ONE. Executives of a hot up and coming tech firm called Snoop head to a remote chalet high in the Alps for a company retreat. This dream getaway of skiing, great food, and breathtaking views takes a tragic turn when an avalanche hits, trapping their party in a half-buried chalet. Their situation becomes more terrifying when guests disappear or are found dead, picked off one by one. But who among them is the killer?

This was an exciting and fast-paced thriller told in the alternating POVs of two women, Erin, a chalet employee and Liz, a guest and Snoop shareholder. I really enjoyed the chilling atmosphere of the desolate mountain after the avalanche, with those left at the chalet cut off from the rest of the world without power or WiFi, and killer on the loose.

Though there were only two narrators, there was still a large cast of characters to keep track of, and I did find myself flipping back to the beginning where each person was introduced on the “About Us” page of Snoop’s website to refresh my memory. I did love how the book also began with a news report of the tragedy, and we’re left to wonder who are the dead and who survived the “house of horror” mentioned.

ONE BY ONE is another fantastic whodunit from one of my favorite suspense authors. I’m already eagerly awaiting her next!

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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

Vintage Gothic Romance: ALWAYS IN AUGUST by Ann Head


Publisher: Signet
Release Date: August 1974
Rating: ★★★★★


PASSION AND HATE,
JEALOUSY AND VENGEANCE,
WERE HIDDEN BEHIND THE GREAT WALLED ESTATE OF MENLO…

It was August again, and Gloria was returning to Menlo. Gloria, with her stunning beauty and vast wealth, who hungered for everything that belonged to Lucy – even Lucy’s husband. Lucy could only wait in dread of what menace Gloria would unleash in this place of haunting beauty and mounting terror – of what evil she would bring to Lucy’s life and to the man Lucy loved and knew she could not hold.


“It was August again. And as always in August tempers are frayed, nerve ends laid bare by the heat.”

ALWAYS IN AUGUST is a Gothic Romance originally published in 1961. The story seems to take place around the time it was written, probably late 1950s, in the small coastal town of Royal Bay, South Carolina.

Lucy and Gloria were childhood friends, for a while. Gloria grew into a fiery and gorgeous young woman, while Lucy, though lovely, was level-headed and down to earth. Lucy had also been lifelong friends with the heir to Menlo Estate, a boy named Stark.

It was thought by all that Lucy and Stark would marry, until ruthless Gloria set her sights on him, and she always got what she wanted, especially if it was Lucy’s first. After tragedy strikes and Gloria flees Royal Bay, Lucy falls in love with another.

“The bad things always happen in August. Whatever potential evil sleeps here, beneath the easy, gentle surface of our days, is nourished, brought to fruit in the heavy, fetid August air.”

So, in August, years later, Gloria returns to Menlo, this time with the intention of stealing Lucy’s husband. But Lucy knows the tragic secrets hidden within the grand estate, and she’s not giving up without a fight.

I loved this book. The characters were well-crafted and memorable. Gloria was the perfect devious villain, while Lucy was easy to empathize with. You may or may not agree with her decisions, but I believe she did what she thought was best. The blurb makes the book sound so scary (menace! terror! evil!), but in reality ALWAYS IN AUGUST is a dramatic & gripping domestic suspense.

I read the 99¢ Kindle edition, which unfortunately is full of typos. I’m going to keep an eye out for an old paperback copy to add to my collection. (And, yay! I finished this review on the last day of August.)

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪