MOON OF THE CRUSTED SNOW by Waubgeshig Rice


Publisher: ECW Press
Release Date: October 2, 2018

This was a haunting cautionary tale! Set in northern Canada, MOON OF THE CRUSTED SNOW is a character-driven, slow-burn thriller about what happens in a remote Anishinaabe community when the unthinkable happens. Their power goes out, their phones quit working, and suddenly they’re cut off from the rest of the world. Winter is setting in, food supplies are low, and word from the south is that the chaos is widespread. When an outsider arrives seeking shelter, their precarious situation gets worse.

I’m not usually a fan of dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction, BUT something about the premise of this book pulled me in. I’m so glad I took a chance and read it. The wonderfully tense, ominous atmosphere kept me glued to the pages. What a terrifying situation to be in, and I felt like I was a part of it, wondering what was coming next.

One of the most memorable moments was when main character Evan talked to an elder about the meaning of “apocalypse,” and how their world had already ended when they were forced off their land and had their children taken away.

If a dystopian novel can be realistic, then this was it. In the end, I was left with a lot of unanswered questions, but in an actual apocalypse, would you have all the answers? I just read that there will be a sequel coming out (next year, maybe), and I can’t wait to find out what happens next! β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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FIVE TOTAL STRANGERS by Natalie D. Richards


Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: October 6, 2020

I love cold weather/snowy suspense novels, so the cover of this book was screaming for me to read it. FIVE TOTAL STRANGERS is a locked-room-on-wheels YA thriller that left me with mixed feelings.

The protagonist Mira is a high school student flying home to Pittsburgh to be with her mother on Christmas. A snow storm cancels connecting flights and leaves her stranded at the Philly airport. Desperate to get home, she makes the BAD decision of hitching a ride with four college-aged strangers who were on her flight. In a blizzard with strangers on desolate backroads? What’s the worst that could happen? Mira is about to find out…

First of all, I loved the creepy, frozen atmosphere the author created. As odd things start to happen, Mira becomes convinced that someone in their party doesn’t want them to get home. But why? There were a lot of tense moments, and my thoughts on who was the bad one was constantly changing.

Though the book kept me guessing, I thought the first half moved too slowly, and the ending was too abrupt. There were loose ends and unanswered questions that annoyed me, plus the reasoning behind the bad one’s actions wasn’t convincing, and also, what an absurd plan. You’re in a blizzard!?!

Overall though, I did enjoy the author’s descriptive writing style, and I wouldn’t hesitate to give her other books a try. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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

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THE PUSH by Ashley Audrain


Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date: January 5, 2021

β˜… BOTM Club Pick β˜…

Wow! I’ve seen THE PUSH getting a lot of buzz on Instagram, and I can certainly see why. The subject matter is chilling and flat-out tragic, but I couldn’t quit reading.

The story is told in second person, with the narrator being Blythe, and the “you” she’s taking to, her husband, Fox. Blythe’s own mother, and her mother before her, were cold & neglectful. Was it mental illness, or simply a lack of desire to be a mother? Blythe wants to give her new baby, Violet, the love and affection she missed as a child. But, things don’t go as planned, and Blythe soon senses that something is wrong with Violet.

This book tackles the struggles of motherhood, generational trauma, and the “nature versus nurture” debate in a gripping way. My mind kept wrestling over Blythe and Violet’s characters, wondering if there really was something “off,” or whether it was imagined. Either way, what a devastating situation to be in.

THE PUSH is a remarkable debut novel from Ashley Audrain, and she’s definitely going on my auto-buy list! β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS by Susan Meissner


Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Release Date: February 2, 2021

THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS is a wonderful and absorbing story of survival, friendship, and motherhood. Set during the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, this work of historical fiction weaves together a bit of mystery and an emotional family drama with characters I won’t soon forget.

Sophie is an Irish immigrant who answers a mail-order bride ad placed by a man in San Francisco. It seems like widower Martin Hocking can provide her with the life she craves β€” a comfortable home far away from the slums in New York City, and a child to raise named Kat, the young daughter of Martin and his deceased wife.

Sophie’s relationship with her new husband is odd, and sometimes his behavior is unusual, but she has security and a family, and that’s what matters. That is, until a very pregnant woman named Belinda shows up at her house the night before the great earthquake. The lives Sophie, Kat, and Belinda have known are about to come crashing down figuratively & literally!

I won’t go further into the plot, but just know that if you’re a fan of 20th century historical fiction, I highly recommend THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS. Susan Meissner is a gifted story teller who creates complicated characters readers will understand and enjoy. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

“It is the nature of the earth to shift. It is the nature of fragile things to break. It is the nature of fire to burn.”

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

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SHIVER by Allie Reynolds


Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: January 19, 2021

If you’re needing a chilling winter thriller, SHIVER is it! This gripping locked-room mystery is set in a deserted ski resort in the French Alps, and Milla & four friends, all former snowboarding competitors, are invited to a reunion weekend there. The only one missing is the sixth member of their group who disappeared at that same location a decade ago and is presumed dead. (OK, right away, what a disturbing place for a reunion!)

I loved the frozen, desolate, and desperate atmosphere the author created. It may be off-season, but the weather is still bitterly cold and deep snow abounds. The friends quickly realize that something is wrong. Their phones go missing, the cable cars stop running, and there are no staff members to be found. Someone is clearly messing with them, and trying to remind them of Saskia, gone these past 10 years. Is it an outsider, or one of their own group?

Overall, this was a fantastic nail-biter that flipped back and forth between present day and ten years earlier, in the time leading up to Saskia’s disappearance. My only quibble was the large amount of snowboarding details, which slowed the pace down somewhat. If you enjoyed ONE BY ONE by Ruth Ware, you’d probably enjoy SHIVER β€” same atmosphere, yet its own unique mystery. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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