THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR by Anne Rivers Siddons


Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: July 3, 2007 β€” Reprint edition
(First published in 1978)

I’ve seen THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR on so many “Best of Horror” lists, and now I know why. It’s an enthralling blend of Southern gothic fiction and quiet horror. The creepy, slow-build kind that makes you question what’s really going on, something sinister or is your mind playing tricks?

This book was originally published in the 1970s and is set during that time. Colquitt and her husband Walter live in an upscale Atlanta neighborhood. There’s a lot of tennis at the club, parties with the neighbors, and day drinking for these folks. Don’t get me wrong! I liked Colquitt and Walter.

For many years an empty wooded “unbuildable” lot sat next to their house, and that’s how they liked it. Then one day, a talented young architect finds a way to build newlyweds their modern dream home on that lot. Neighbors don’t like it, but what can you do? They welcome the couple into the fold, then have to stand back helplessly while their dream home becomes a nightmare. And this happens over and over, tragedy finding each family that moves in.

“In the moonlight the ice-sheathed trees tossed and tinkled like great crystal hands fingering the sky, weaving and reweaving an incantation over the sweetly sleeping shape of the house next door.”

I greatly enjoyed the author’s haunting, beautiful writing and her flawed & memorable characters. I especially loved trying to figure out that malevolent house and its terrible influence on the occupants & neighbors. This is the first book by Siddons I’ve read, and I understand her other books are more contemporary Southern fiction β€” probably wonderful, but I so wish she had written more horror like THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR. Fantastic! β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

Check out the different covers over the years, from 1978 to 2007. Such big difference! From horror to mystery/suspense to women’s fiction, maybe? I don’t think the most recent cover fits the story at all!

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME by Laura Dave


Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 4, 2021

Wow, I loved this book! THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME is an unputdownable twisty suspense novel and family drama that hooked me right away.

Owen and Hannah have only been married a short time when he suddenly disappears. Owen’s last message to Hannah was a note saying, “Protect her,” and she immediately knows he’s referring to his 16-year old daughter, Bailey, whose own mother died when she was very young.

Hannah and her stepdaughter have a chilly relationship, with Bailey wanting nothing to do with her. However, their quest to figure out what happened to Owen and what he’s been hiding begins to change their dynamic.

This is one of the best domestic suspense novels I’ve read, with realistic characters and a believable story. I enjoyed the author’s wonderful, absorbing writing. The last line of the book got me choked up a bit! Highly recommended. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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

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THE PUSH by Ashley Audrain


Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date: January 5, 2021

β˜… BOTM Club Pick β˜…

Wow! I’ve seen THE PUSH getting a lot of buzz on Instagram, and I can certainly see why. The subject matter is chilling and flat-out tragic, but I couldn’t quit reading.

The story is told in second person, with the narrator being Blythe, and the “you” she’s taking to, her husband, Fox. Blythe’s own mother, and her mother before her, were cold & neglectful. Was it mental illness, or simply a lack of desire to be a mother? Blythe wants to give her new baby, Violet, the love and affection she missed as a child. But, things don’t go as planned, and Blythe soon senses that something is wrong with Violet.

This book tackles the struggles of motherhood, generational trauma, and the “nature versus nurture” debate in a gripping way. My mind kept wrestling over Blythe and Violet’s characters, wondering if there really was something “off,” or whether it was imagined. Either way, what a devastating situation to be in.

THE PUSH is a remarkable debut novel from Ashley Audrain, and she’s definitely going on my auto-buy list! β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS by Susan Meissner


Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Release Date: February 2, 2021

THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS is a wonderful and absorbing story of survival, friendship, and motherhood. Set during the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, this work of historical fiction weaves together a bit of mystery and an emotional family drama with characters I won’t soon forget.

Sophie is an Irish immigrant who answers a mail-order bride ad placed by a man in San Francisco. It seems like widower Martin Hocking can provide her with the life she craves β€” a comfortable home far away from the slums in New York City, and a child to raise named Kat, the young daughter of Martin and his deceased wife.

Sophie’s relationship with her new husband is odd, and sometimes his behavior is unusual, but she has security and a family, and that’s what matters. That is, until a very pregnant woman named Belinda shows up at her house the night before the great earthquake. The lives Sophie, Kat, and Belinda have known are about to come crashing down figuratively & literally!

I won’t go further into the plot, but just know that if you’re a fan of 20th century historical fiction, I highly recommend THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS. Susan Meissner is a gifted story teller who creates complicated characters readers will understand and enjoy. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

“It is the nature of the earth to shift. It is the nature of fragile things to break. It is the nature of fire to burn.”

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

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ROOT MAGIC by Eden Royce


Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Release Date: January 5, 2021

Reading ROOT MAGIC was such a joy β€” can I give it more than five stars? The protagonist, 11-year old Jezebel Turner, is a mighty and memorable middle grade heroine. Set in South Carolina in 1963, the story follows Jezebel as she begins to study rootwork, a tradition passed down from her Gullah ancestors. Root magic is misunderstood by many to be something evil, but her Uncle Doc is teaching her the good ways it helps the community. She must use her newly developed powers to save herself and her family from malevolent forces threatening them, and not just otherworldly ones.

There’s so much I loved about this book, and Jezebel is such a relatable character. What stood out for me in particular was the message of friendship and discovering it in someone unexpected. The story was suspenseful and creepy at times, which kept me glued to the pages. The ending chapter was so moving, and of course, I was sad to see it end! I would love to read a sequel about Jezebel and her family, and find out what their futures hold. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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