Thoughts on Books (#21): LITTLE THREATS • MAGIC DARK AND STRANGE • THE AWAKENING


Little Threats
Little Threats by Emily Schultz *
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In 1993, teenage twin sisters Carter and Kennedy Wynn rebel against their suburban upbringing with grunge, drugs, and dangerous guys. The night after a bad acid trip, their best friend Haley is murdered and Kennedy takes the blame, and she spends 15 years in prison wondering what really happened. In 2008, Kennedy is finally free to start her life, but soon true-crime tv show host Dee Nash comes to town intent on stirring up the past.

While it is part mystery, LITTLE THREATS is mostly a slow-burn family drama about the repercussions of a young girl’s murder. The characters were difficult to like, though I thought their dilemmas were compelling. Kennedy’s conviction at 16 was a stretch. Motive is important, and to me there wasn’t one. She ends up accepting the charges against her though maintaining her innocence because she blacked out and couldn’t remember what actually happened. What lazy police work. The victim’s younger brother and Dee Nash investigate further and open a nasty can of worms. I wasn’t surprised by how things turned out, though I found it intriguing, and rather depressing.

The best part of the book was the early 90s nostalgia — grunge music, doc martens with floral peasant dresses, Kurt Cobain — this story brings it all back. Fun to revisit, though so glad I didn’t go through it with this disturbing crew.

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


Magic Dark and Strange
Magic Dark and Strange by Kelly Powell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

MAGIC DARK AND STRANGE is a YA historical fantasy set in the Victorian-like city of Invercarn. The main character is 17-year old Catherine Daly who works at a print shop by day, and by night she raises the dead for grieving families who just want a few more moments with their departed loved ones — for a price. She and Guy Nolan, a watchmaker’s son, end up entangled in a mystery involving a charmed timepiece said to be buried in an unmarked grave. Catherine’s boss wants her to retrieve this item at any cost, but she and Guy get more than they bargained for when the coffin is opened.

There was much to enjoy in this Gothic mystery — dark atmosphere, creepy cemeteries, slow-burn romance, clever characters, and a Victorian setting. I was disappointed, though, with the lack of world-building. All of this amazing magic, and no explanation of where it comes from and how it works. Why is Catherine magical? Has she always been that way? It almost felt like this was book two of a series. Some backstory was missing. MAGIC DARK AND STRANGE had a lot of potential, but it needed to be fleshed out more.


The Awakening (Graveyard Queen #6)
The Awakening by Amanda Stevens *
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading THE AWAKENING was bittersweet, as it’s the conclusion to one of my favorite series. I didn’t want it to end! Known as the Graveyard Queen, protagonist Amelia Gray has made a successful career restoring dilapidated and often forgotten cemeteries. She’s also gifted with being able to see and communicate with ghosts. Her latest job restoring Woodbine Cemetery brings her face to face with the malevolent spirit of a young girl. She seems to be fixated on an unnamed baby’s grave, and it’s up to Amelia to figure out the connection between them and what will finally allow the child to rest in peace.

A lot more juicy secrets are revealed in this book, and Amelia’s turbulent on-again, off-again relationship with John Devlin comes to a head. Though I was sad to see the story end, I was pleased with the way the author wrapped things up. Emotional! I highly recommend the Graveyard Queen series to fans of Gothic suspense and creepy ghost stories, just start at the beginning with The Restorer (#1) or The Abandoned (#0.5).

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

Instagram 📷 | Pinterest 📌 | Goodreads 📖

Thoughts on Books (#20): FISHING FOR TROUBLE • THE NESTING • GOODNIGHT BEAUTIFUL


Fishing for Trouble (Alaskan Diner Mystery #2)
Fishing for Trouble by Elizabeth Logan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FISHING FOR TROUBLE is the second installment in the Alaskan Diner Mystery series. Chef Charlie Cooke has recently returned to her hometown of Elkview, Alaska, to take over the family business, the Bear Claw Diner. When a young man working at a nearby fish processing plant keels over in her restaurant, Charlie is horrified — both for the victim and her diner’s reputation. Charlie is a kind soul, and wants to help the man’s grieving friend, so she ends up neck-deep in the investigation.

This was a solid mystery that blends in life in small-town Alaska, this time during the summer months with sunshine 20 hours a day. I liked the inclusion of the state’s fishing industry. I didn’t realize billions (wow!) of pounds of fish were processed through Alaskan fisheries, which draws young people looking for summer jobs. Charlie is a great character, and this time around she has to deal with a dreadful person from her past in addition to solving a murder. Recipes from the Bear Claw Diner are included.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book.


The Nesting
The Nesting by C.J. Cooke
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

THE NESTING is a Gothic mystery with Nordic folklore woven into the story, which sounds like something I’d love, but unfortunately it didn’t work for me. The main character Lexi ends up as a nanny in Norway under false pretenses, with the false pretenses part being a weak plotline.

Was there a solid plot? Was this horror or mystery? I’m not sure about either question. The mother of the two girls Lexi is caring for died by suicide just months earlier. The father is building a home on a cliff in her honor. Weird occurrences start happening in the house, and Lexi finds the deceased woman’s secret diary. What really happened to her?

There’s also an environmental impact element to what’s happening on the cliff, which I actually enjoyed, it’s just the rest didn’t make much sense. For me THE NESTING was drawn out and lacked real focus.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book.


Goodnight Beautiful
Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

GOODNIGHT BEAUTIFUL is an amazing psychological thriller/domestic suspense that pulled the rug out from under me more than once. Wow! The shocking twists really challenge your assumptions and make you think. This was a super-fast read because I was quickly flipping the pages to see what would be revealed next. I’m very happy with this impulse buy for my Kindle. I just quickly glanced at the blurb — knowing very little about the plot is the best way to enjoy this book. Highly recommended!

Instagram 📷 | Pinterest 📌 | Goodreads 📖

Thoughts on Books (#19): THE WIFE AND THE WIDOW / ELEVATOR PITCH


The Wife and the Widow
The Wife and the Widow by Christian White
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Dark secrets are a terrible burden! THE WIFE AND THE WIDOW is a fast-paced family drama/thriller told in the alternating POVs of the two title characters — a wife and a widow. The big question that kept me flipping the pages is how are their stories connected? I love those mind-bending twists that make me stop and say, “Wait, WHAT?!? This book had the perfect one for these troubled characters. Haunting and gripping. {Borrowed from the library.}


Elevator Pitch
Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tense, twisty, and scary! Tall buildings and elevators make me nervous to begin with, so this book only made my phobias worse…eek! ;-) In the latest thriller from Linwood Barclay, the whole of New York City is at the mercy of a terrorist sabotaging elevators. Are the buildings being targeted randomly? Who is behind the attacks and why? Two police detectives and a journalist rush to put the pieces together before another elevator disaster kills more innocent people. Elevator Pitch is an intense and entertaining read. Fantastic follow up to A Noise Downstairs. {Borrowed from the library.}

Thoughts on Books (#18): FINDING COLIN FIRTH / WAITING FOR TOM HANKS


Finding Colin Firth
Finding Colin Firth by Mia March
My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

Three women, Bea, Veronica, and Gemma, experience a life-changing summer when Colin Firth comes to town to film a movie. I wasn’t sure what to expect in this book, but what I found was a heartwarming story about motherhood, identity, loss, family, and magical elixir pies.

What’s really at the heart of this book is Hope Home, a refuge for pregnant teens near Boothbay Harbor, Maine, that’s approaching its 50-year anniversary. Veronica was a resident 22 years ago, and she gave up her baby for adoption, hoping for a better life for her daughter than she could give. Bea has just recently found out that Veronica is her birth mother, and she’s come to town to learn her history. Gemma is at a turning point in her life, newly unemployed and pregnant, and doing a freelance story on Hope Home. She’s conflicted about motherhood and at odds with her husband about how and where to raise their child.

I enjoyed and connected with all of the characters, and their conflicts were realistic and emotional ones. Lovely Maine setting too. FINDING COLIN FIRTH is a wonderful summer read with depth and heart. Enjoyed!

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


Waiting for Tom Hanks (Waiting for Tom Hanks, #1)
Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

WAITING FOR TOM HANKS is a light & cute story about a young woman so obsessed with romantic comedies that she’s holding out on love until she meets her perfect Tom Hanks. Annie is an aspiring screenwriter living in Ohio with her quirky uncle. When a film crew comes to town to shoot an upcoming romcom, her uncle uses his connections to get her a job as director’s assistant. Will she find her perfect match in Drew Danforth, the film’s leading man? Of course, like any true romcom, the road to HEA can be a bumpy & unexpected one.

Overall, I thought this book was fun and occasionally silly, with a grown woman thinking she could eventually live inside one of her favorite films. I never quite understood her rudeness toward Drew, like she was creating a conflict where there shouldn’t have been one. I greatly enjoyed the secondary characters, especially her Uncle Don and best friend Chloe.

WAITING FOR TOM HANKS is a charming beach read with plenty of funny moments. After finishing this book, I had to pull out my DVDs of Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail and watch them again. ♥

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

Thoughts on Books (#17): The Raven’s Tale / The Hunting Party / Murder on Cape Cod


The Raven's Tale
The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

THE RAVEN’S TALE is a fictionalized account of 17-year old Edgar Allan Poe and his turbulent relationship with Lenore, his muse. In this world, muses are real, physical beings, and they’re considered corrupt and dangerous by polite society. Lenore comes to Edgar at a particularly vulnerable time in his life, at odds with his foster father and leaving for university. Edgar’s passion for poetry and dreams of making a living as a writer are in sharp contrast to the wishes of his practical and cruel foster father. Will Lenore save Edgar’s creative spark, or will she be snuffed out forever(more)?

I enjoyed that this book imagined what a teenage Poe would have been like, and how his “muse” buried the seeds in his mind for many of his greatest works. The plot struggled in parts, moving slowly especially during his time at university, though the writing was lovely and atmospheric. I was also hoping for more explanation of what the muses actually were. Living spirits, maybe? As a fan of Poe, there was much to appreciate in this well-researched novel. Borrowed from the library.


The Hunting Party
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A group of friends meet at a remote lodge in the Scottish Highlands to celebrate New Year’s Eve. One of them ends up dead, and another is the murderer. But who’s dead, and whodunit? The story flips back and forth between characters and before and after the murder, until the truth is slowly revealed.

I loved the premise of this book, however I struggled to stay engaged. There were many POVs presented, and their voices were so similar it was hard to keep track. The whole group of them gave off a snobby, shallow vibe, so it was hard to care what happened to them. Their drama dragged on too long. I suppose my two favorite characters were the lodge employees, Heather and Doug. They were easier to sympathize with.

While not for me, THE HUNTING PARTY has gotten a lot of great buzz. Please check out the other reviews! Borrowed from the library.


Murder on Cape Cod (Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery #1)
Murder on Cape Cod by Maddie Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Westham, Massachusetts, is a delightful tourist town on Cape Cod, and home to bike shop owner Macenzie “Mac” Almeida. After book club one foggy evening, Mac stumbles across a dead body very near her home. Unfortunately evidence found at the scene makes her brother a prime suspect. The pressure is on Mac to clear her brother’s name without interfering in the official investigation.

I enjoyed this first book in the Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery. The Cape Cod setting was lovely, and the wonderful descriptions made me want to visit. Mac was a relatable, no nonsense protagonist, and I loved that she lived in a cozy tiny home! The murder mystery was not an easy one to figure out. Mac’s book group didn’t play a big role in solving the murder, but I felt like we got a solid introduction to all the members. I’m looking forward to the next Cozy Capers mystery! Purchased from Barnes & Noble.


⭐ FIND ME: INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS | BLOGLOVIN ⭐