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. — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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

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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.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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

ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER by Hazel Prior {Review}


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★


A rich, heartwarming and charming debut novel that reminds us that sometimes you find love in the most unexpected places.

Dan Hollis lives a happy, solitary life carving exquisite Celtic harps in his barn in the countryside of the English moors. Here he can be himself, away from social situations that he doesn’t always get right or completely understand.

On the anniversary of her beloved father’s death, Ellie Jacobs takes a walk in the woods and comes across Dan’s barn. She is enchanted by his collection. Dan gives her a harp made of cherrywood to match her cherry socks. He stores it for her, ready for whenever she’d like to take lessons.

Ellie begins visiting Dan almost daily and quickly learns that he isn’t like other people. He makes her sandwiches precisely cut into triangles and repeatedly counts the (seventeen) steps of the wooden staircase to the upstairs practice room. Ellie soon realizes Dan isn’t just different; in many ways, his world is better, and he gives her a fresh perspective on her own life.


Dan is a harpmaker, crafting gorgeous Celtic harps in his barn in the English countryside. Ellie is a housewife who stumbles upon Dan’s barn one day. He gives her a harp that matches the color of her socks, giving Ellie’s humdrum life a gentle nudge in a different direction.

I love Celtic harp music, so the description of this book pulled me in. I enjoyed Dan’s character the most. He was a bit quirky with a unique way of seeing the world. On the other hand I struggled with Ellie’s character. She came off as part flighty and part doormat, though I appreciate what she did for Dan as the story progressed. (Not everything though!)

ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER was a light and sweet story with an almost fairy tale quality to it. I was not quite convinced of the romance between the two main characters, but it is a lovely story of friendship, and also finding one’s self identity.

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

THE MISSING YEARS by Lexie Elliott {Review}


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 23, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★


An eerie, old Scottish manor in the middle of nowhere that’s now hers.

Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago—her father.

Leaving London behind to settle the inheritance from her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home, nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, joined by the half-sister who’s almost a stranger to her.

Ailsa can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her—as if her past hungers to consume her. She also can’t ignore how the neighbourhood animals refuse to set one foot within the gates of the garden.

When the first nighttime intruder shows up, Ailsa fears that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything.


Ailsa Calder has just inherited half of her childhood home, an estate known as the Manse in Scotland. The other half is owned by her father who has been missing for over 25 years. Legally she can’t do anything with the property until her father is found, except live there, which is what she decides to do.

THE MISSING YEARS is a quiet suspense novel. Ailsa’s return to the Manse isn’t celebrated by all she comes in contact with, and odd occurrences keep happening in and around the house. The heart of the book is the mystery of her father’s disappearance, the toll it’s taken on her over the years, and what answers the eerie old manor home can give her.

I enjoyed the setting most of all, the house full of secrets and memories, standing among “the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands.” Sounds amazing and gothic! On the flip side, I was hoping for a faster pace and more twists. Though the build up was slow, the ending was wild.

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

MAGRUDER’S CURIOSITY CABINET by H.P. Wood {Review}

Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet
Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

MAGRUDER’S CURIOSITY CABINET is a peculiar book with a large cast of odd and colorful characters.

In 1904, Coney Island draws thousands of visitors to its spectacular new amusement park called Dreamland. Seventeen-year old Kitty arrives there with her mother from South Africa, only to end up alone and homeless when her mother falls ill, then mysteriously disappears. Kitty befriends the “Unusuals” working at Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of the strange and unusual, and they agree to help her find her mother.

This book was quirky, but also rather dark and sad. My favorite parts were meeting the “Unusuals,” who at the time were society’s outcasts. They got by the best they could. Though I enjoyed the characters, there were too many, and at times they were hard to keep track of. Magruder’s museum sounds like a place I’d love to explore. So many exhibits – from fascinating and creepy to gross!

MAGRUDER’S was an ok read for me. I never felt fully invested in the story, but I thought the author did a wonderful job bringing Coney Island at the turn of the last century to life.

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


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