THE SUN DOWN MOTEL by Simone St. James


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: February 18, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★


Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.


Amazing! THE SUN DOWN MOTEL is an addictive and chilling paranormal mystery set in the small town of Fell, New York. The story is told in dual time periods — Viv in 1982, and her niece, Carly, in 2017. Viv was the lone night clerk of the creepy motel when she went missing without a trace 35 years ago. Now Carly has come to Fell and taken Viv’s old position in hopes of finding out what happened to her aunt decades ago.

Simone St. James knows how to create the perfect dark, eerie atmosphere and compelling mystery. I adored the cast of characters who were mainly strong and intriguing women. Of course, one the most fascinating characters in the book was the motel itself. That place felt so alive and real with the creepiest vibe ever!

THE SUN DOWN MOTEL is a haunting page-turner that kept me reading all night. Highly recommended!

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

DEATH IN THE FAMILY by Tessa Wegert


Series: Shana Merchant, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: February 18, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


A storm-struck island. A blood-soaked bed. A missing man. In this captivating mystery that’s perfect for fans of Knives Out, Senior Investigator Shana Merchant discovers that murder is a family affair.

Thirteen months ago, former NYPD detective Shana Merchant barely survived being abducted by a serial killer. Now hoping to leave grisly murder cases behind, she’s taken a job in her fiancé’s sleepy hometown in the Thousand Islands region of Upstate New York.

But as a nor’easter bears down on her new territory, Shana and fellow investigator Tim Wellington receive a call about a man missing on a private island. Shana and Tim travel to the isolated island owned by the wealthy Sinclair family to question the witnesses. They arrive to find blood on the scene and a house full of Sinclair family and friends on edge.

While Tim guesses they’re dealing with a runaway case, Shana is convinced that they have a murder on their hands. As the gale intensifies outside, she starts conducting interviews and discovers the Sinclairs and their guests are crawling with dark and dangerous secrets.

Trapped on the island by the raging storm with only Tim whose reliability is thrown into question, the increasingly restless suspects, and her own trauma-fueled flashbacks for company, Shana will have to trust the one person her abduction destroyed her faith in—herself. But time is ticking down, because if Shana’s right, a killer is in their midst and as the pressure mounts, so do the odds that they’ll strike again.


DEATH IN THE FAMILY is a Christie-inspired mystery set on a remote private island in Upstate New York. Two local detectives are called to investigate a missing persons case at the home of a wealthy family. They arrive to find a bed covered in bloody sheets and eight potential suspects — some more cooperative than others. As a terrible storm begins to rage, the detectives find themselves trapped on this small island, possibly with a killer on the loose.

The mystery was intriguing and solid, and I was kept wondering who among the eight may have played a part in the disappearance and why. I loved the stormy setting and the unsettling feeling that the characters were cut-off from the rest of the world. I liked that the lead investigator was a strong yet flawed female character, however the numerous references and flashbacks to her troubled past interrupted the story’s flow (though it seems to be setting up a series arc). Overall, this was an enjoyable, slow-burn, classic mystery.

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

THE VANISHED BRIDE by Bella Ellis {Review}


Series: A Brontë Sisters Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


Before they became legendary writers, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, and Anne Brontë were detectors in this charming historical mystery…

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters–the Brontë sisters–learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril…


THE VANISHED BRIDE is a unique historical mystery that casts the famous Brontë sisters as amateur sleuths who set out to solve a local missing persons case. It’s 1845, and Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are once again living at home with their father Patrick and brother Branwell, before they became published authors. The sisters are struggling to find their place in the world as unmarried women who would prefer to set their own course in life. When they hear a young wife has disappeared under gruesome circumstances, the Brontës become “lady detectors” and use their smarts & daring to find out what happened.

I enjoyed this book very much! Not only was I intrigued by the twisty mystery, I absolutely loved being able to live in the world of the Brontës for a little while. From what I’ve previously learned about them, I think the author did a fantastic job capturing the sisters’ personalities, conflicts, and closeness to one another. Though the mystery was fictional, it had many elements that would have influenced this Charlotte to write Jane Eyre. THE VANISHED BRIDE is a must read for Brontë fans — intriguing, well-written, and great fun.

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

THE WOLF WANTS IN by Laura McHugh {Review}


Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


In a small town ravaged by the opioid crisis, a woman confronts a dark secret about her brother’s shocking death–a gripping novel of suspense for fans of Sharp Objects and S-Town.

Sadie Keller is determined to find out how her brother died, even if no one else thinks it’s worth investigating. Untimely deaths are all too common in rural Blackwater, Kansas, where crime and overdoses are on the rise, and the small-town police force is consumed with the recent discovery of a child’s skull in the woods. Sadie is on her own, delving into the dark corners of a life her brother kept hidden and unearthing more questions than answers.

Eighteen-year-old Henley Pettit knows more than she’d like to about the seedy side of Blackwater, and she’s desperate to escape before she’s irreparably entangled in her family’s crimes. She dreams of disappearing and leaving her old life behind, but shedding the past is never easy, and getting out of town will be far more dangerous than she ever imagined.

As more bones are found in the woods, time is running out for Sadie to uncover the truth and for Henley to make her escape. Both women are torn between family loyalties and the weight of the secrets they carry, knowing full well that while some secrets are hard to live with, others will get you killed.

Like Laura McHugh’s previous award-winning thrillers, The Weight of Blood and Arrowood, The Wolf Wants In is an atmospheric, beautifully told novel that barrels toward a twisting, chilling end and keeps us turning the page to find out how these small-town secrets will unravel–and who will survive.


THE WOLF WANTS IN is a quiet mystery/family drama set in a small Kansas town. Sadie Keller believes her brother has died under suspicious circumstances and wants answers. At the same time police are investigating the discovery of a child’s skull found in the woods. Henley Pettit is just looking for a way out of Blackwater, a town of people plagued by the opioid epidemic, including her mother.

I very much enjoy Laura McHugh’s writing style and the way she crafts her atmospheric Midwestern settings. I don’t think the mystery & suspense elements in this book were as strong as in her previous novels (The Weight of Blood & Arrowood). There weren’t a lot of clues presented until the end, and I was left a bit confused about what happened & why. However, this character-driven book presents a realistic look at how poverty and opioid abuse affects people in small town America.

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

A GIRL NAMED ANNA by Lizzy Barber {Review}


Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Source: Review copy from publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


If your whole life is a lie, who can you trust? Raised in a quiet rural community, Anna has always been taught that her mamma’s rules are the only path to follow. But, on her eighteenth birthday, she defies her mamma for the first time in her life and goes to Astroland. She’s never been allowed to visit Florida’s biggest theme park, so why, when she arrives, does everything about it seem so familiar? And is there a connection to the mysterious letter she receives that same day—a letter addressing her by a different name?

Rosie has grown up in the shadow of the missing sister she barely remembers, her family fractured by years of searching without leads. Now, on the fifteenth anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, the media circus resumes as the funds dedicated to the search dry up, and Rosie vows to uncover the truth herself. But can she find the answer before it tears her family apart?

Winner of the Daily Mail First Novel Competition, A Girl Named Anna is a psychologically riveting read that introduces Lizzy Barber as an outstanding new voice in suspense fiction.


A GIRL NAMED ANNA is an engrossing debut novel that’s part mystery and part family drama. At the center of this book is a child abduction and its aftermath for everyone involved. The story alternates between two teenage protagonists: Anna in Florida, being raised by her very religious mother, and Rosie in England, whose older sister Emily vanished 15 years earlier at an amusement park. On this year’s anniversary of Emily’s disappearance, things happen that propel both girls forward to find out the truth. This was a suspenseful and emotional book that I couldn’t put down! I enjoyed Anna and Rosie’s alternating perspectives as their discoveries brought them closer and closer together. Gripping & unsettling!

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