Review | Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth is a gorgeously creepy haunted house tale, steeped in Japanese folklore and full of devastating twists.

A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.

It’s the perfect wedding venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends.

But a night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.

And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I absolutely loved the premise of this story, I’m always up for a haunted house story, but I was a little disappointed by the final product. This was one of those novellas that left me wanting more. I wanted more backstory on the relationships between the five main characters as well as on the house itself. We are given the bones of the story behind the mansion and little tidbits here and there but I definitely wanted more.

I did really enjoy the writing style and all the details about the house itself. The descriptions of the house as it changed over time and the things that happened were suitably creepy and easy to imagine in the mind’s eye.

Overall I did enjoy the story as it was, but I would have loved to have so much more.

Happy reading!

Review | All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation.

Summer 1958—a string of murders plagues the Midwest. The victims are found in their cars and in their homes—even in their beds—their bodies drained, but with no blood anywhere.

September 19- the Carlson family is slaughtered in their Minnesota farmhouse, and the case gets its first lead: 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is found at the scene. She is covered in blood from head to toe, and at first she’s mistaken for a survivor. But not a drop of the blood is hers.

Michael Jensen, son of the local sheriff, yearns to become a journalist and escape his small-town. He never imagined that the biggest story in the country would fall into his lap, or that he would be pulled into the investigation, when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to.

As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book was quite a ride that I was not expecting. I loved the sound of it and as someone who listens to true crime podcasts which include crime cases from the early to mid 1950s I figured it would definitely be in my wheelhouse. Once I got into the book I really enjoyed the interviews between Michael and Marie. As the story moves on you definitely have that aspect of wondering if there is really something supernatural or if it is all the act of humans.

Michael, with his yearning for the truth and love of journalism was a very compelling character, while Marie was at the best of times unreliable but tragic in her own way. Other characters such as Pilson, McBride and Nancy were also well dimensioned and really fleshed out to where their personalities were clear.

There were a few times I had to remind myself this was set in the 1950s as there was perhaps some more modern language or just something that rang modern, but overall I loved the aesthetic of this story and the way it progressed. There was just enough left up in the air to give it an even more unknowing and creepy feeling which was both unsettling and satisfying.

Happy reading!

Review | Ski Weekend by Rektok Ross

Six teens, one dog, a ski trip gone wrong . . .

Sam is dreading senior ski weekend and having to watch after her brother and his best friend, Gavin, to make sure they don’t do anything stupid. Again. Gavin may be gorgeous, but he and Sam have never gotten along. Now they’re crammed into an SUV with three other classmates and Gavin’s dog, heading on a road trip that can’t go by fast enough.

Then their SUV crashes into a snowbank, and Sam and her friends find themselves stranded in the mountains with cell phone coverage long gone and temperatures dropping. When the group gets sick of waiting for rescue, they venture outside to find help—only to have a wilderness accident leave Sam’s brother with a smashed leg and, soon, a raging fever. While the hours turn to days, Sam’s brother gets sicker and sicker, and their food and supplies dwindle until there isn’t enough for everyone. As the winter elements begin to claim members of the group one by one, Sam vows to keep her brother alive.

No matter what.

Filled with twists, secrets, and life-changing moments, Ski Weekend is a snow-packed survival thriller featuring a diverse cast of teens that will appeal to fans of One of Us is Lying and I Am Still Alive.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

When I first read the synopsis of this book I was really excited as I am definitely in the mood for survival/spooky/thriller books. At first I had a hard time connecting with some of the characters and felt that they were a little too cliche in some ways, but once I got a bit into the book they developed more and gained more depth which made them more relatable. None of them were perfect and there were certain thoughts and actions that had me rolling my eyes a bit, but I feel that was intended in some cases. I did really enjoy how much we really get to know the characters in this extreme situation which was a nice facet of the story.

Since I live in an area where there are isolated places/roads where people have gotten stuck and lost before, the setting and scope of this story was very realistic to me. The suspense was well written and kept the tension high as the story went on, which made it hard to put it down because I had to know what was going to happen to the characters. If you’re looking for a fast, suspense filled survival story, this would fit the bill.

Make sure to come back to the blog on release day to read my Q&A with Rektok!

Happy reading!

Review | The Summoning by J.P. Smith

When it comes to contacting the dead, it’s easy to go a step too far

Every year, as the anniversary of 9/11 inches closer on the calendar, Kit Capriol scans the memorials published in the New York Times. It’s a simple thing to look up a name and phone number, to reach out to surviving family members who might still be yearning for connection with their lost loved one… to offer assistance. After her husband went down in the north tower, Kit scraped by as an actress, barely supporting herself and her daughter. But now Zoey is in the hospital, bills are due, and the acting work has dried up. Becoming a medium is almost too easy for someone used to pretending for a living—and desperate clients aren’t hard to come by.

Now, though, something has changed. The seances Kit holds in her apartment are starting to feel unsettlingly real, and the intriguing man she met at a local bar could be more complicated than he seems. As the voices of the dead grow louder in her head and the walls of her apartment close in, Kit realizes that despite her daughter’s absence, she hasn’t been quite as alone as she thought…

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When I heard the synopsis of this book, an actor who is pretending to be a medium to make ends meet after losing her husband in 9/11 and having her daughter in a coma – I was immediately intrigued. Things start to change when she seems to actually be hearing from the dead. I really enjoyed this roller coaster ride of a thriller as it took me in some directions I was not expecting at all. Much of the story is spent wondering if this is psychological or supernatural and that’s one of my favorite elements when done well – and it was done really well in this book. I was left guessing almost the entire book. While the pacing is neither slow or fast, I felt the story’s natural progression and evolution flowed well. The writing style was so easy to consume and kept me engaged the entire time.

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press for sending me a copy of this book for review. It’s out tomorrow (9/7) so make sure to pick up a copy!

Happy reading!

Review | The Haunted by Danielle Vega

Hendricks Becker-O’Malley is new in town, and she’s bringing baggage with her. With a dark and wild past, Hendricks doesn’t think the small town her parents moved her to has much to offer her in terms of excitement. She plans on laying low, but when she’s suddenly welcomed into the popular crowd at school, things don’t go as expected.

Hendricks learns from her new friends that the fixer-upper her parents are so excited about is notorious in town. Local legend says it’s haunted. Hendricks doesn’t believe it. Until she’s forced to. Blood-curdling screams erupt from the basement, her little brother wakes up covered in scratches, and something, or someone pushes her dad down the stairs. With help from the mysterious boy next door, Hendricks makes it her mission to take down the ghosts . . . if they don’t take her first.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was prepared for this book to have great atmosphere and a thrilling story, but it was only about halfway there for me. I would have liked the story of the supernatural elements to be expanded upon some more and honestly the event that drove Hendricks and her family to this town is only revealed in bits and pieces with a lot of drawing out…and then resolved quite abruptly. By that point it kind of felt like it wasn’t really a plot component, but just a device to account for her behavior and the reason they moved. For a quick spooky read that at some points will have you questioning if it is supernatural or something else it was good, but there were just some elements that didn’t really mesh with me.

Happy reading!

Review | Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was not expecting the twists and turns that this book took, it was quite a ride. I really enjoyed the format of this book where you get a chapter in present day and a chapter from the book that Maggie’s father wrote. Sometimes the extreme of Maggie’s anger towards her parents was a bit much, but I suppose in most instances it was appropriate considering she had been made a public figure by the book her father wrote. This was crafted incredibly well and I have to say there was only part of the twist I guessed, and only at the last minute, which was pretty extraordinary. While I didn’t like Final Girls, after reading The Last Time I Lied and this one, I’m definitely looking forward to reading the others Sager has out!

Happy reading!

Review | This is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I found this book to be really fast paced and a quite compelling read. It had really good character development, especially for characters like Nola who were a bit out there. I also really enjoyed the small town dynamics as they lent to the story itself. I did feel however that there were a number of choices made, especially by the main character that weren’t realistic, such as the risks she was taking while 7-8 months pregnant – I understand her obsession and need to move forward with the mystery, but it still felt a little off for me. Still, it had a lot of great twists that kept me guessing and I enjoyed the slightly creepy elements that kept me reading.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison | Review


Fast-paced and brilliantly unpredictable, J.T. Ellison’s breathtaking new novel invites you to a wedding none will forget—and some won’t survive.

Jutting from sparkling turquoise waters off the Italian coast, Isle Isola is an idyllic setting for a wedding. In the majestic cliff-top villa owned by the wealthy Compton family, up-and-coming artist Claire Hunter will marry handsome, charming Jack Compton, surrounded by close family, intimate friends…and a host of dark secrets.

From the moment Claire sets foot on the island, something seems amiss. Skeletal remains have just been found. There are other, newer disturbances, too. Menacing texts. A ruined wedding dress. And one troubling shadow hanging over Claire’s otherwise blissful relationship—the strange mystery surrounding Jack’s first wife.

Then a raging storm descends, the power goes out—and the real terror begins…

Buy Links | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | IndieBound | Libro.fm | Books-A-Million | Target | Walmart | Indigo | Kobo | AppleBooks | Google Play | Audible

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve previously enjoyed one of J.T. Ellison’s books so was excited to pick this one up. I did really enjoy that this story was very fast paced but didn’t always love the perspectives that we were reading from. The settings were great and really set the tone for the story. It would have been even better if there had a been a little more mystery/history thrown in as the setting could have thrived even more with it. It definitely had vibes similar to Rebecca or mysteries set in an secluded spot such as And Then There were None. Overall I really enjoyed it and would definitely read more of J.T. Ellison’s books.

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 25 novels, and the EMMY® award winning co-host of the literary TV show A WORD ON WORDS. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 28 countries. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

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Happy reading!

Review | Wait for Night by Stephen Graham Jones

Wait for Night by Stephen Graham Jones is horror story about a day laborer hired to help clean up a flooded creek outside of Boulder, Colorado, who comes across what could be a very valuable find.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This one definitely took a turn I didn’t expect. I can’t say much about the story itself since I don’t want to spoil anything but I love the abrupt twist that Stephen Graham Jones wove into this one. He’s definitely an auto buy author for me and his short stories are just as enjoyable as some of his novels. This one sucked me in fast and the writing flowed so well that it was over far too quickly. It definitely satisfied my need for a quick, creepy story.

Happy reading!

Review | The HAunting of Blackwood House by Darcy Coates

Could you survive a week in a haunted house?

Mara is the daughter of spiritualists. Her childhood was filled with séances, scam mediums and talk of ghostly presences.

When Mara finally left her family’s home, she vowed she would never allow superstition or false religion into her life again. Now she’s ready to start over with her fiancé, Neil, in a world based on rationality and facts.

But her past isn’t ready to let her go just yet.

Mara and Neil purchase Blackwood House, a derelict property outside of town. They’re warned about strange occurrences in the crumbling building. Doors open by themselves, voices whisper in the night, bloody handprints appear on the walls, and cold spots linger in the basement, where the house’s original owner was murdered.

But Blackwood was dirt-cheap and came with a large plot of overgrown land. Mara loves her new home, and disregards the warnings.

Because ghosts aren’t real…

…are they?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was my first experience with Darcy Coates’ writing, but I had been wanting to pick up her books for ages and so many of them had caught my eye. I wanted to start with this one because the synopsis grabbed me and I was not disappointed. If you’re looking for a creepy haunted house book that is also psychological, this is a great example. I kind of wished more of the history of Blackwood House had been revealed a little earlier as I did feel that some of the foundation of the story was a little slow, but when we did get to the meat of the history it was definitely a great payoff. Mara did sometimes get on my nerves with how…fiercely independent she was, but that was explained in a great way that made it very understandable, so I was happy about that. While I did guess the final twist before it happened, it didn’t lessen the story’s impact for me, so I will definitely be picking up more of Darcy Coates’ books in the future.

Happy reading!