ALL I WANT by Darcey Bell

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.

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

★★★

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.

OF WOMEN AND SALT by Gabriela Garcia


Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: March 30, 2021

I’m torn over this book. I feel like OF WOMEN AND SALT paints a distressing and realistic picture of immigration to the US, particularly what it’s like for women from Latin America entering the country illegally. I would call it a timely novel, though detention centers, family separation, and deportation have been going on for many years.

My issue with this book was its lack of a strong plot. This has been mentioned in other reviews, but it’s more a collection of short stories, some very compelling and others not so much. The novel alternates between several different time periods (not chronologically) and POVs from different generations of women from a Cuban/Cuban American family. It also includes the story of a mother and daughter from El Salvador, whom I loved the most.

This was a short novel, and with the choppy nature of the chapters I felt like the story was missing something that would have tied everything together. There were also characters I wish had been fleshed out more, like Maria Isabel who worked in a cigar factory in 1860s Cuba. I wanted to know more about her life.

OF WOMEN AND SALT is a heartbreaking book that explores mother/daughter bonds, loss, survival, and desperate choices. I just wish it had been more cohesive. — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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

Vintage Gothic Romance: GHOSTWIND by Rachel Ann Payne


Publisher: Paperback Library
Release Date: November 1966

“A madman stalks Jane Corby at sinister Hampton Hill.”

Oh, Jane Corby! Just ever so slightly too dumb to live. It’s 1867, and Jane, a young New York City librarian, is hired to catalog the extensive library at Hampton Hill, a mansion in a remote area near Syracuse. Locals aren’t too keen on the house’s new owner, the reclusive Captain Ralf Hampton. Something is off about him, his fickle personality, and his entire situation, but Jane can’t help falling in love.

“You just be sure he’s not a wicked man with a key to your door.”

The first half of the book was a little slow, and I did not understand Jane’s insta-love for Ralf, considering she felt threatened by his abusive temperament much of the time. By the second half, the pacing picked up as Jane set out to uncover the mysteries of Hampton Hill and the creepy family vault in the cemetery. I enjoyed the twists and a bit of Civil War history woven into the story, plus, how wonderful that Jane is a librarian. Rating: Good.

GHOSTWIND was originally published in 1966 by Paperback Library. Rachel Ann Payne is a pen name used by John Jakes. — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

THE VALLEY AND THE FLOOD by Rebecca Mahoney


Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 23, 2021

✦ YA Magical Realism | Contemporary Fantasy ✦

THE VALLEY AND THE FLOOD was a strange book. It was like a weird dream that sometimes makes sense and other times you can’t figure out what’s going on.

Since her best friend Gaby’s death, Rose has suffered from PTSD, anxiety, and panic attacks. Driving through the Nevada desert one night, Rose’s car breaks down, and she hears a familiar voicemail messages playing over the radio. This leads Rose to a town called Lotus Valley, where she finds out from the quirky locals that her arrival is part of a prophecy about a flood that will destroy everything.

I appreciate how the author presented Rose’s struggles with PTSD and her grief over Gaby’s death, both realistically and through magical realism. The beginning of the book hooked me right away, but it wasn’t until 70% or so that things started making sense and the pieces of the puzzle clicked together. Up until that point, some of it was downright confusing and frustrating. This is an emotional journey for Rose, who ultimately just wants to make it home, but she has to face the prophecy first. — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

📚 Find THE VALLEY AND THE FLOOD on Goodreads 📚