Vintage Gothic Suspense: NIGHTMARE IN JULY by Clara Coleman


Publisher: Lancer Books
Release Date: 1967

“The first time she met him, Amanda Swanson recognized the mark of evil deep in the stranger’s cold blue eyes. He terrified her even though she couldn’t name the secret he threatened her with. Yet her husband, knowing it, condemned her to spend the summer alone with him โ€” and the legacy of violence he carried with him.”

Amanda Swanson’s husband Paul owns a publishing company. She was an editor there at one time, but quit working after they got married, feeling it wasn’t right to work at the same company or at a competing publisher. I was never convinced she was happy about the situation, but suddenly her life was dedicated to supporting Paul’s publishing ambitions. If only he were worthy of her loyalty!

Paul is ecstatic when he receives an incomplete manuscript in the mail that he believes will be a huge success. Paul invites this once-in-a-lifetime literary talent to finish his book at their secluded country home where they spend weekends.

When Amanda first meets Jordan Youngfield, she senses that something is off about the young author. Things get worse when Paul insists that she stay with Jordan in the country for the summer while he works in the city. Jordan’s behavior becomes more threatening, and Amanda fears for her safety, but Paul only cares about getting that finished manuscript…

“The last thing I did that night before I fell asleep was remind myself that danger surrounded me โ€” that the Mill was a place of terror that July.”

Overall this was a suspenseful and enjoyable quick read. Jordan’s character needed more fleshing out, but he did come across as creepy. I felt bad for Amanda having to be second to Paul’s publishing company, plus he was a condescending jerk. The ending was good. Not a big surprise, but satisfying. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

THE THERAPIST by B.A. Paris


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: July 13, 2021

After being in a long-distance relationship for a while, Alice and Leo take the plunge and move in together in an exclusive gated community in London. With only 12 houses in “The Circle,” most of the neighbors are already cozy, and Alice worries she won’t fit in.

Leo bought the house for a steal, and it’s not until after they’re settled in that Alice discovers why โ€” a tragedy befell the previous owners. While working at home alone as a translator, Alice becomes increasingly obsessed with Nina, a therapist who lived in the house before. Alice believes the police got the details of the case all wrong, and she’s determined to find out what really happened at #6 The Circle.

I love a group of neighbors with secrets to hide. The beginning of this book hooked me right away and had some pretty creepy moments. Was someone in their house watching them at night? Or just overactive imaginations? The middle slowed down a bit with Alice visiting with neighbors but never getting much out of them. Plus she was so gullible! The great thing about this book was that anyone could have been the culprit. I didn’t have it figured out until the very end.

Even though Alice could be frustrating and her constant fixation on Nina was unusual, I found THE THERAPIST to be tense and twisty domestic suspense. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

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

SECOND SLEEP by Diane Stanley


Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Release Date: November 2, 2021

โ˜… Middle Grade Magical Realism โ˜…

“The time by the lake is everything perfect about a childhood summer. And maybe, these nights also hold the answers Max is looking for…”

SECOND SLEEP is a very sweet middle grade book with an original magical premise that I enjoyed. When Max’s mother disappears, his grandmother takes him and younger sister Rosie to the family’s cabin by the lake, a special place where their mom spent her childhood summers. There Max and Rosie find themselves in an alternate dream world filled with kids who share a unique connection. Max soon realizes that his new friends may help him solve the mystery of his missing mother.

I think middle grade readers will have fun with the magical realism in this book. The dream world is never explained, it just is. I loved the friendships that were formed there, between kids that wouldn’t even know each other in the real world (you’ll find out why!).

There were two things that bothered me in this book. One was how formal the dialogue seemed, even with the younger characters. This may be in part because I listened to a synthetic voice galley, and the delivery made it seem stiff. Second was the story behind the mystery and a certain character’s decisions that made me so mad, though a young reader would probably see it differently. I’m glad Max was ultimately able to express his feelings about the situation.

SECOND SLEEP is a lovely story of friendship, dealing with unavoidable change, and holding onto childhood magic for as long as possible. It will leave readers with a lot to think about. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

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

LOCAL WOMAN MISSING by Mary Kubica


Publisher: Park Row
Release Date: May 18, 2021

I love Mary Kubica’s thrillers. She’s an auto-buy author for me, and her latest LOCAL WOMAN MISSING is one crazy ride! The prologue and first chapter were amazing, definitely hooked me immediately. The prologue sets up some fabulous ominous tension about what’s to come. And the first chapter that follows! Wow, it was one of the scariest, most nail-biting things I’ve read in a long time. My anxiety was on high alert (but in a good way)!

Overall, I thought the book was suspenseful and entertaining, however I had some issues with it. The premise is that three people have gone missing. First, it’s new mom Shelby Tebow. Then soon after, Meredith Dickey and young daughter, Delilah disappear. What happened to them? Over a decade passes, and suddenly Delilah reappears with a grim story to tell about her missing years, which reignites interest in the cold cases of the other two women.

My main gripe was that I did not buy the motivation behind the whole situation, I guess? The ending was so far out there, you must be able to suspend disbelief. Meredith’s character was particularly frustrating. Some of the things she hid from people or things she did/didn’t do were unbelievable. She’s a doula, after all, hired to advocate for people, but she couldn’t do that for herself??

Even with my quibbles, I’m glad I read it. Looking forward to her next book. (Purchased the Nook book.) โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช