WOULD I LIE TO YOU? by Aliya Ali-Afzal


Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Published: February 22, 2022
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★½


In this “total page-turner,” wife and mother Faiza is about to find what happens when you have your dream life and are about to lose it… but only if you’re caught (Sarah Pearse, New York Times bestselling author of The Sanatorium).

At the school gates, Faiza fits in. It took a few years, but now the snobbish white mothers who mistook her for the nanny treat her as one of their own. She’s learned to crack their subtle codes, speak their language of fashion and vacations and haircuts. You’d never guess, seeing her at the trendy kids’ parties and the leisurely coffee mornings, that her childhood was spent being bullied and being embarrassed of her poor Pakistani immigrant parents.
When her husband Tom loses his job in finance, he stays calm. Something will come along, and in the meantime, they can live off their savings. But Faiza starts to unravel. Creating the perfect life and raising the perfect family comes at a cost – and the money Tom put aside has gone. Faiza will have to tell him she spent it all.

Unless she doesn’t…

It only takes a second to lie to Tom. Now Faiza has mere weeks to find $100,000. If anyone can do it, Faiza can. She’s had to fight for what she has, and she’ll fight to keep it. But as the clock ticks down and Faiza desperately tries to put things right, she has to ask herself: how much more should she sacrifice to live someone else’s idea of the dream life?


Would I lie to you? Umm, yes, she did. Faiza’s plight in this book was so nerve-racking!

After her husband Tom is laid off from his job in banking, Faiza finds herself in a terrible predicament. Their £75,000 savings account is empty, all of it secretly spent by Faiza to keep up with their affluent friends and neighbors. Instead of confessing her financial infidelity, she tries to find ways to cover up what she’s done, but the hole she’s in just gets deeper.

As a British Pakistani woman married to a white man, Faiza feels immense pressure to fit in with the white moms in their social circle. She wants to protect her children from the racism she faced as the child of poor immigrant parents as much as possible. Does that excuse her lying and secret spending? I was rooting for her as she attempted to make things right.

Though this book is billed as women’s contemporary fiction, it had the page-turning suspense of a thriller — fast-paced and great tension throughout. I could NOT put it down! Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

BENEATH THE STAIRS by Jennifer Fawcett


Publisher: Atria Books
Published: February 22, 2022
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★★½


In this spine-tingling, atmospheric debut for fans of Jennifer McMahon, Simone St. James, and Chris Bohjalian, a woman returns to her hometown after her childhood friend attempts suicide at a local haunted house — the same place where a traumatic incident shattered their lives twenty years ago.

Few in sleepy Sumner’s Mills have stumbled across the Octagon House hidden deep in the woods. Even fewer are brave enough to trespass. A man had killed his wife and two young daughters there, a shocking, gruesome crime that the sleepy upstate New York town tried to bury. One summer night, an emboldened fourteen-year-old Clare and her best friend, Abby, ventured into the Octagon House. Clare came out, but a piece of Abby never did.

Twenty years later, an adult Clare receives word that Abby has attempted suicide at the Octagon House and now lies in a coma. With little to lose and still grieving after a personal tragedy, Clare returns to her roots to uncover the darkness responsible for Abby’s accident.

An eerie page-turner, Beneath the Stairs is about the trauma that follows us from childhood to adulthood and returning to the beginning to reach the end.


I loved every creepy and unsettling moment of this book! BENEATH THE STAIRS is a haunting slow-burn, character-driven debut with a lot to unpack. Is there a way to break free from childhood trauma and years of guilt and regret?

In upstate New York, the small town of Sumner’s Mills has fallen on hard times. Storefronts are boarded, and the old factory walls are crumbling, but one building stands firm — the abandoned Octagon House deep in the woods. When a couple of young teen girls venture into its basement, their lives are changed forever by what they see. Twenty years later, the house calls them back with tragic consequences.

There were moments in this book when I was truly scared! The story takes place over multiple timelines where the disturbing history of the Octagon House is revealed. I was completely immersed in the story and the lives of the flawed characters. That creepy house wouldn’t let me rest until I knew its secrets! I’m excited to read more of this author’s work in the future. Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

WHAT LIVES IN THE WOODS by Lindsay Currie


Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers
Release Date: September 14, 2021
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★¾


For fans of Small Spaces and the Goosebumps series by R.L Stine comes a chilling ghost story about a girl living in the decrepit and creepy mansion, who discovers something in the woods is after her.

All Ginny Anderson wants from her summer is to sleep in, attend a mystery writing workshop, and spend time with her best friend. But when Ginny’s father ― a respected restoration expert in Chicago ― surprises the family with a month-long trip to Michigan, everything changes. They aren’t staying in a hotel like most families would. No, they’re staying in a mansion. A twenty-six room, century-old building surrounded by dense forest. Woodmoor Manor.

But unfortunately, the mansion has more problems than a little peeling wallpaper. Locals claim the surrounding woods are inhabited by mutated creatures with glowing eyes. And some say campers routinely disappear in the woods, never to be seen again.

As terrifying as it sounds, Ginny can’t shake the feeling that there’s something darker… another story she hasn’t been told. When the creaky floors and shadowy corners of the mansion seem to take on a life of their own, Ginny uncovers the wildest mystery of all: There’s more than one legend roaming Saugatuck, Michigan, and they definitely aren’t after campers.

It’s after her.


Main character Ginny Anderson is a Chicago tween obsessed with Agatha Christie novels, and she dreams of publishing her own mysteries someday. She feels her summer has been ruined when her dad gets a job renovating a spooky old mansion in Michigan. Instead of attending a fun summer writing class with her bestie, she has to spend a month stuck at Woodmoor Manor. When some creepy unexplained occurrences start happening in the house, Ginny finds herself immersed in her own mystery to solve.

What lives in the woods? I’m not sure, because the title & blurb of this book are a bit misleading. I enjoyed the mystery and the creepy atmosphere of Woodmoor Manor. If I were Ginny, I would’ve loved to spend the summer exploring an old mansion with Agatha Christie vibes, but she was focused on a way to get back to Chicago. She’s a clever and brave character who wouldn’t let ghosts get in her way. This book is a great pick for fans of middle grade horror.

ALL I WANT by Darcey Bell


Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Published: January 11, 2022
Source: Purchased (Kindle)
Rating: ★★★


When Emma’s husband, Ben, falls in love with a large Victorian mansion for sale in upstate New York, he swears to her the fixer-upper will be worth the risk. With a baby on the way, Emma would like to live in a charming, safe community, after all — and in a space larger than a one-bedroom New York City apartment. On impulse, she agrees to Ben’s plan and they put in an offer on the house.

Sure, the mansion has a somewhat creepy backstory and is a bit dilapidated, but Emma and Ben are in this together, aren’t they? When strange things start happening, Emma begins to experience a little buyer’s remorse. What’s the real history of this house? Is its dark history repeating itself? Why does her husband suddenly seem so distant? Is she in danger? Is her baby?

Combining the domestic anxiety of Liane Moriarty and the haunting twists and turns of Shirley Jackson, All I Want is an intensely absorbing novel that will change the way you look at your neighbors.


Umm… What?!?

So we have Ben, a Broadway producer, who convinces his pregnant wife Emma to buy a creepy fixer-upper mansion in upstate New York. They already know some of the house’s disturbing history, but as they dive deeper into renovations, further creepy discoveries are made.

For most of the book, I was hooked. I loved the ominous atmosphere, and the house itself was a compelling character. At about 90% things started getting really wacky, but I was willing to accept it — until the very last chapter, and now I don’t know what to think. Granted, some of the wacky stuff made sense after reading the ending, but still…😩

ALL I WANT was a promising spooky read, but that ending was a mess. I’m just going to pretend the last chapter didn’t happen and leave this one with 3 stars.

THE HAUNTING SEASON: Eight Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights


Publisher: Pegasus Crime
Published: October 12, 2021
Source: Purchased (Nook)
Rating: ★★★


Eight bestselling, award-winning writers return to the time-honored tradition of the seasonal ghost story in this spellbinding collection of new and original haunted tales.

Long before Charles Dickens and Henry James popularized the tradition of supernatural horror, the shadowy nights of winter have been a time for people to gather together by the flicker of candlelight and experience the intoxicating thrill of a spooky tale.

Now eight bestselling, award-winning authors — all of them master storytellers of the sinister and the macabre — bring the tradition to vivid life in a spellbinding new collection of original spine-tingling tales.

Taking you from the frosty fens of the English countryside, to the snow-covered grounds of a haunted estate, to a bustling London Christmas market, these mesmerizing stories will capture your imagination and serve as your indispensable companion to cold, dark nights. So curl up, light a candle, and fall under the ghostly spell of winters past…


THE HAUNTING SEASON is a mishmash of spooky winter/holiday stories. The collection was good overall, with a few hits and a couple of misses —

• A Study in Black and White by Bridget Collins: 4 Stars (creepy chess house)
• Thwaite’s Tenant by Imogen Hermes Gowar: 4 Stars (young mother on the run)
• The Eel Singers Natasha Pulley: 2 Stars (wut?)
• Lily Wilt by Jess Kidd: 3.5 Stars (photographer falls for a dead woman)
• The Chillingham Chair by Laura Purcell: 4.25 Stars (haunted wheelchair)
• The Hanging of the Greens by Andrew Michael Hurley: 3 Stars (wreaths bring up bad memories)
• Confinement by Kiran Millwood Hargrave: 3 Stars (woman in confinement stalked by evil)
• Monster by Elizabeth Macneal: 2 Stars (again, wut?)

Laura Purcell’s The Chillingham Chair was my favorite! Abrupt ending, but suspenseful & rather creepy. A Study in Black and White was probably second. I loved the chess theme and the overall creepy gothic atmosphere. ♥