BEHIND THE RED DOOR by Megan Collins


Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: August 4, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★


The author of the “suspenseful, atmospheric, and completely riveting” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author) debut The Winter Sister returns with a darkly thrilling novel about a woman who comes to believe that she has a connection to a decades old kidnapping and now that the victim has gone missing again, begins a frantic search to learn what happened in the past.

When Fern Douglas sees the news about Astrid Sullivan, a thirty-four-year-old missing woman from Maine, she is positive that she knows her. Fern’s husband is sure it’s because of Astrid’s famous kidnapping—and equally famous return—twenty years ago, but Fern has no memory of that, even though it happened an hour outside her New Hampshire hometown. And when Astrid appears in Fern’s recurring nightmare, one in which a girl reaches out to her, pleading, Fern fears that it’s not a dream at all, but a memory.

Back at her childhood home to help her father pack for a move, Fern purchases a copy of Astrid’s recently published memoir—which may have provoked her original kidnapper to abduct her again—and as she reads through its chapters and visits the people and places within it, she discovers more evidence that she has an unsettling connection to the missing woman. With the help of her psychologist father, Fern digs deeper, hoping to find evidence that her connection to Astrid can help the police locate her. But when Fern discovers more about her own past than she ever bargained for, the disturbing truth will change both of their lives forever.

Featuring Megan Collins’s signature “dark, tense, and completely absorbing” (Booklist) prose and plenty of shocking twists and turns, Behind the Red Door is an arresting thriller that will haunt you long after you turn the last page.


BEHIND THE RED DOOR is a dark family drama/mystery about a woman desperate to unlock her repressed memories in order to save another woman who’s gone missing. Astrid Sullivan was kidnapped as a young teen, but was released a month later. Now, after two decades, Astrid has gone missing again, and seeing her face on the news has sparked something in Fern Douglas’ mind did she know her?

The author created the perfect ominous atmosphere for this disturbing tale. While my initial hunch was right about what happened, I was still on the edge of my seat as everything was playing out. At times I felt like I was Fern’s memories screaming for her to remember!

This was a well-written and suspenseful novel filled with compelling characters, both shady and unreliable. A gripping page-turner, for sure.

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

THE GIRL FROM WIDOW HILLS by Megan Miranda


Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last House Guest — a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick — comes a riveting new novel of psychological suspense about a young woman plagued by night terrors after a childhood trauma who wakes one evening to find a corpse at her feet.

Everyone knows the story of “the girl from Widow Hills.”

Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Strangers and friends, neighbors and rescue workers, set up search parties and held vigils, praying for her safe return. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain. The girl from Widow Hills was a living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book. Fame followed. Fans and fan letters, creeps, and stalkers. And every year, the anniversary. It all became too much. As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.

Now a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden goes by Olivia. She’s managed to stay off the radar for the last few years. But with the twentieth anniversary of her rescue approaching, the media will inevitably renew its interest in Arden. Where is she now? Soon Olivia feels like she’s being watched and begins sleepwalking again, like she did long ago, even waking outside her home. Until late one night she jolts awake in her yard. At her feet is the corpse of a man she knows — from her previous life, as Arden Maynor.

And now, the girl from Widow Hills is about to become the center of the story, once again, in this propulsive page-turner from suspense master Megan Miranda.


Reading this book immediately brought to mind Baby Jessica’s rescue back in the late 80s. That was a major news event with everyone’s eyes glued to the TV, hoping for the best. Once something like that is over, do you ever wonder what impact the attention has on those involved as the years pass?

In THE GIRL FROM WIDOW HILLS, six year-old Arden Maynor’s life is changed forever when she’s swept away in a storm drain after sleepwalking. After a huge search and media circus, she’s miraculously rescued a few days later, and unfortunately the fame she didn’t ask for never goes away.

Now approaching the 20-year anniversary of the incident, Arden has left her hometown and changed her name to Olivia. The anniversary is putting her under stress, and she finds herself sleepwalking once again. This time, she trips over a dead body in her backyard. What could it mean?

I have mixed feelings about this book. It’s a slower paced novel with a couple of good twists, particularly when the identity of the body Arden/Olivia finds is revealed. For such an intriguing premise, there wasn’t a lot of excitement or suspense in the plot, and I wish the secondary characters would have been fleshed out more. The ending was kind of crazy, not at all what I was expecting! Overall, this was a good mystery that just needed a little more thrill.

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

Now in Paperback: THE VANISHED BRIDE by Bella Ellis [Re-Post Review]


Series: A Brontë Sisters Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 7, 2020
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…


Hello! I’m re-posting my review of THE VANISHED BRIDE from last year to celebrate the paperback release with a brand new cover (which I love!). I’m also including the cover and blurb for the next book in the series, THE DIABOLICAL BONES, coming in November…♥


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.

…and coming November 10, 2020, THE DIABOLICAL BONES:


Haworth Parsonage, February 1846: The Brontë sisters — Anne, Emily, and Charlotte — are busy with their literary pursuits. As they query publishers for their poetry, each sister hopes to write a full-length novel that will thrill the reading public. They’re also hoping for a new case for their fledgling detecting enterprise, Bell Brothers and Company solicitors. On a bitterly cold February evening, their housekeeper Tabby tells them of a grim discovery at Scar Top House, an old farmhouse belonging to the Bradshaw family. A set of bones has been found bricked up in a chimney breast inside the ancient home.

Tabby says it’s bad doings, and dark omens for all of them. The rattled housekeeper gives them a warning, telling the sisters of a chilling rumour attached to the family. The villagers believe that, on the verge of bankruptcy, Clifton Bradshaw sold his soul to the devil in return for great riches. Does this have anything to do with the bones found in the Bradshaw house? The sisters are intrigued by the story and feel compelled to investigate. But Anne, Emily, and Charlotte soon learn that true evil has set a murderous trap and they’ve been lured right into it…


 

DEATH OF A WANDERING WOLF by Julia Buckley

Series: A Hungarian Tea House Mystery, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★


Hana Keller is enjoying a day off from serving up tea and delicious pastries at her family’s Hungarian Tea House when her downtime turns deadly.

The only thing Hana loves more than a good cuppa is finding a delicate porcelain treasure to add to her collection. She’s usually on the hunt for teacups but when she spots a rare wolf figurine at a local yard sale, she knows it’s her lucky day. Hana also knows the wolf is valuable and tells the seller that he’s charging too little for it. His reaction is peculiar–he says he received the wolf from someone he doesn’t trust and he just wants it out of his life.

Hana is inspecting her new prize when she finds a tiny microchip attached to the bottom of the porcelain wolf. When she shows the figure to her police detective boyfriend, Erik, Hana is shocked to learn that the chip is actually a tracking device. They decide to confront the seller about the sneaky sale but when they arrive at his house, they find him dead. Erik and Hana now must hunt a calculating killer who has no intentions of crying wolf when it comes to murder…


DEATH OF A WANDERING WOLF is the second book in the delightful Hungarian Tea House Mystery series. Hana Keller gets more than she bargained for at a yard sale, when the seller, a local artist, is murdered shortly after Hana scores some too good to be true deals. Hana uses her developing psychic ability and smarts to unlock the secrets in his paintings. Will his art reveal the identity of his killer?

I enjoyed this complex murder mystery that combines intriguing Hungarian culture and folklore, mysterious paintings, and a touch of the paranormal. It was great seeing Hana and Detective Erik Wolf’s relationship grow closer, and the introduction of Erik’s sisters was a lot of fun. I hope they make an appearance in future books. Hana and her family are wonderful characters who make this an engaging cozy mystery series. Highly recommended!

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

What I’ve Been Reading Lately 📚

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” — Audrey Hepburn

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THE VANISHING HALF
by Britt Bennett
★★★★★
(sisters fiction, family drama, historical fiction, coming of age)

This was the B&N Book Club’s June selection. THE VANISHING HALF is a truly spellbinding novel. I was completely immersed in the characters’ lives, relationships, secrets, and struggles. I did not want the book to end! ♥ {Purchased}


THE WIFE STALKER
by Liv Constantine
★★★★
(domestic suspense, psychological thriller)

Alright, Liv Constantine, you got me with that twist. This was a fun, fast-paced psychological thriller with two dueling unreliable narrators. {Library}


STAMPED: RACISM, ANTIRACISM, AND YOU
by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi
★★★★★
(non-fiction, young adult, civil and human rights, politics and government)

STAMPED is an eye-opening and informative book about the origins of racism and how it has been ingrained in our society for hundreds of years, and the people who have fought against it. This should be required reading for middle/high school students. I listened to this on audiobook — fantastic narration by the author Jason Reynolds. {Purchased}


THE NANNY
by Gilly Macmillan
★★★★
(gothic suspense, mystery, family drama)

What really happened to the nanny at Lake Hall all those many years ago? Enjoyable slow-burn mystery with Gothic undertones! Listened to on audiobook via Chirp. {Purchased}


THE SWEENEY SISTERS
by Lian Dolan
★★★
(sisters fiction, family drama, contemporary fiction)

This book may have my favorite cover art this year. 🙂 I enjoyed the premise and beginning of this book, where the three Sweeney sisters discover they have a 4th sister via a DNA testing database just after their father’s death. Overall though, the plot wasn’t very strong and lacked the emotional punch you’d expect. It was an ok read, just didn’t grab me completely. {Library}