Review | The Getaway by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

In this short thriller from number one New York Times best-selling authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, a young woman’s dream getaway becomes her worst nightmare.

Prepare yourself for a transformative experience. Sometimes, life’s setbacks contain hidden gifts. Here at Lakewood, you’ll find the space to unwrap them.

A weekend at the Lakewood Retreat is exactly what Chloe Powell needs. Freshly unemployed after her boss loses a reelection campaign, the former press secretary desperately wants a break from the bustle of Washington DC. A flier posted at her yoga studio leads her to the getaway, which looks amazing: organic meals, celebrity testimonials, and a serene private property within driving distance of the city.

It’s so perfect, in fact, that Chloe’s barely bothered by the intensely personal questions she’s asked in her application, or the unnerving social experiments her enigmatic host, Sebastian, imposes on her once she arrives at his remote cabin. But when a mysterious new guest shows up, Chloe can no longer suppress her rising panic: This place is not at all what it seems.

A pulse-pounding story from the first minute to the last, The Getaway explores the weight of the small choices we make every day, and their staggering, unintended consequences.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

If you’re looking for a short thriller that has a couple decent twists, then this one is a great example. At first I was definitely unsure of where it was going, but the reveals definitely snuck up before the pieces fell into place. I did enjoy the dual timelines that slowly converged to tell the story. As with a lot of short stories, especially those with lots of twists, I did find myself wanting a little more character depth and backstory. What was written was sufficient to tell the story, but I definitely could have enjoyed it longer if there was a little more to it.

Happy reading!

Review | The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

What begins as a clever, gothic ghost story soon evolves into a wickedly twisted treasure hunt in The Supernatural Enhancements, Edgar Cantero’s wholly original, modern-day adventure.

When twentysomething A., the unexpected European relative of the Wells family, and his companion, Niamh, a mute teenage girl with shockingly dyed hair, inherit the beautiful but eerie estate of Axton House, deep in the woods of Point Bless, Virginia, it comes as a surprise to everyone—including A. himself. After all, he never even knew he had a “second cousin, twice removed” in America, much less that the eccentric gentleman had recently committed suicide by jumping out of the third floor bedroom window—at the same age and in the same way as his father had before him . . .

Together, A. and Niamh quickly come to feel as if they have inherited much more than just a rambling home and a cushy lifestyle. Axton House is haunted, they know it, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the secrets they slowly but surely uncover. Why all the suicides? What became of the Axton House butler who fled shortly after his master died? What lurks in the garden maze and what does the basement vault keep? And what of the rumors in town about a mysterious gathering at Axton House on the night of the winter solstice?

Told vividly through a series of journal entries, scrawled notes, recovered security footage, letters to Aunt Liza, audio recordings, complicated ciphers, and even advertisements, Edgar Cantero has written a dazzling and original supernatural adventure featuring classic horror elements with a Neil Gaiman-ish twist.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Even as I’m writing this review I’m still thinking about how I feel about this book. It was recommended to me because I like mixed media format books and I enjoyed Meddling Kids by the same author, so I was happy to pick it up. There were definitely some twists and turns that surprised me, especially towards the end, but I really loved the way the puzzle pieces slowly fall into place as you read – even though you are often left with more questions than answers. Also, I will always appreciate appropriate uses of the word ‘defenestrate’ which is a favorite of mine.

I love how the story pieces together through mostly diary entries, letters and video transcriptions – it made it a super fast read and kept my attention the whole time.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | Sisters of the Moon by Alexandrea Weis | Review

Sisters of the Moon
Alexandrea Weis
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication date: September 22nd 2020
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

** A Novella ***

A monstrous fate will turn a girl into a legend.

On an island in Lake Obersee, where The Sisters of St. Gertrude abide, a destitute Moor named Durra arrives. Sold for taxes, she and her two companions tend to the nuns and their collection of cats. At night, she combs the library for details on the order, the remote island, and the beasts howling outside her window.

But when a prank reveals the sisters’ gruesome secret, Durra is forced to accept a new fate. Bestowed an unearthly power, she must choose between life as a nun or living among the monsters beyond the convent walls.

Her path is about to change the tide in the ultimate war. The war between good and evil.

Goodreads / Amazon


I wasn’t expecting this book to be horror, I knew it had paranormal elements, but I’m so glad that it was horror and that I wasn’t fully aware of that going in – it made the reading experience so much better. As soon as I started reading this story I couldn’t put it down and found it to be a quick and well paced read.

This was perfectly suited to the spooky mood I’ve been in and seeing these girls who have been sold to pay tax debts be able to empower themselves and grow was an added bonus. I really enjoyed it’s gothic feel and the way it used history to display how women were treated. In a way this story dismantles that in some way, giving them power. In that way I really enjoyed the kind of dual layers of this story, while also fully enjoying the horror aspects as well.

Author Bio:

Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, PhD, is a multi-award-winning author, screenwriter, advanced practice registered nurse, and historian who was born and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Having grown up in the motion picture industry as the daughter of a director, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable.

Weis writes romance, mystery, suspense, thrillers, supernatural, and young adult fiction and has sold approximately one million books. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans where she is a permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and rescues orphaned and injured animals.

She is a member of both the International Thriller Writers Association and the Horror Writers Association. http://www.AlexandreaWeis.com

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Newsletter


GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted by:
XBTBanner1

Review | Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör is designed to retain its luster and natural appearance for a lifetime of use. Pleasingly proportioned with generous French flaps and a softcover binding, Horrorstör delivers the psychological terror you need in the elegant package you deserve.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I thoroughly enjoyed this creepy exploration of a knockoff Ikea where employees get more than they bargained for when they stay overnight, but I sadly think it was a little overhyped for me. I had heard numerous people talk about how creepy this book is and how they couldn’t read it after dark, etc. Hearing those things I was super excited, but I would get to pages that were noted as being extra creepy and while they were creepy and the descriptions were done really well – it didn’t scare me or send chills down my spine. Granted, this is totally a me problem, it may be because I’m just desensitized to some stuff and it doesn’t really affect me as bad.

That being said I really enjoyed the adventure of this story, and the creepy twists that were thrown in. The backstory that Hendrix created was perfect and fit in with everything depicted really well. Many of the characters aren’t necessarily likeable, but they all fit into the puzzle and the events that happen. All in all, it was a great read to start off October and a really good story.

Happy reading!

Review | Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones returns with Night of the Mannequins, a contemporary horror story where a teen prank goes very wrong and all hell breaks loose: is there a supernatural cause, a psychopath on the loose, or both?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve only read two of Stephen Graham Jones’ books so far, but I’m thinking he’s definitely going on my auto-buy list. I spent a lot of Night of the Mannequins wondering what was really going on and even when I reached the end there was a part of me that was left guessing, I loved it!

Graham Jones’ writing is masterful, it flows so well and is so immersive that you really don’t notice the time passing. I read this one pretty much in one sitting and just couldn’t put it down. I don’t want to get into the actual plot of the book because with this one I think it’s a great idea to go into this book knowing as little as possible – that way it’s even more twisty when things ramp up. I really enjoy more psychologically bent horror and this one definitely fit the bill. This book had the perfect amount of humor tossed in while also being really twisted and dark. It was just amazing and great for this time of year.

Did this just break into my top 5 reads of the year? I think it did. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go see about adding more of his books to my wishlist.

Bonus! The ebook is currently $3.99 on Amazon – go pick it up!

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | Stranger In the Lake | Review

When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.

At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.

As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.

Buy Links | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | IndieBound |
Books-A-Million | Kobo | AppleBooks |Google Play

This is the first book I’ve read from Kimberly Belle and based on her writing style alone I will be picking up other books from her. I enjoyed the way the story slowly unwound through both modern day and flashbacks, though there were some portions that I felt were a little slow.

I loved the setting and the descriptions of the environment, town and their house. I definitely had a creepy shiver when thinking about those big windows that weren’t covered in any way. So many secrets and moments of deception wove things together and really were the meat of the story, it definitely kept me wondering and on my toes.

All in all I really enjoyed this psychological thriller and will definitely be checking out more of Belle’s writing in the future.

Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including the forthcoming Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

Social Links | Author website | Facebook: @KimberlyBelleBooks |
Twitter: @KimberlySBelle | Instagram: @kimberlysbelle | Goodreads

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | My Sister Dear | Review

In Hannah Mary McKinnon’s psychological thriller, SISTER DEAR (MIRA Trade; May 26, 2020; $17.99), the obsession of Single White Female meets the insidiousness of You, in a twisted fable about the ease of letting in those who wish us harm, and that mistake’s dire consequences.

The day he dies, Eleanor Hardwicke discovers her father – the only person who has ever loved her – is not her father. Instead, her biological father is a wealthy Portland businessman who wants nothing to do with her and to continue his life as if she doesn’t exist. That isn’t going to work for Eleanor.

Eleanor decides to settle the score. So, she befriends his daughter Victoria, her perfect, beautiful, carefree half-sister who has gotten all of life’s advantages while Eleanor has gotten none.

As she grows closer to Victoria, Eleanor’s obsession begins to deepen. Maybe she can have the life she wants, Victoria’s life, if only she can get close enough. 

Buy Links | Harlequin  | Barnes & Noble | Amazon |
Books-A-Million | Powell’s

While I wouldn’t necessarily call this book a thriller, it’s definitely domestic drama or suspense. It was well crafted and full of twists that just kept coming throughout the story. There were some character decisions and situations that were perhaps a little unrealistic, but overall it was an exciting read that I had a hard time putting down. While some things weren’t as surprising, the major pot twists were definitely surprises.

The story was well written and as implied, the pace felt fast and went by smoothly without anything that dragged it down. If you’re looking for drama and suspense, this is a great one.

Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing, and is now the author of The Neighbors and Her Secret Son. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her twenty-second commute.

Social Links | Author Website | Twitter: @HannahMMcKinnon | Instagram: @hannahmarymckinnon | Facebook: @HannahMaryMcKinnon | Goodreads

Happy reading!

Review | Out of Body

A small-town librarian witnesses a murder at his local deli, and what had been routine sleep paralysis begins to transform into something far more disturbing. The trauma of holding a dying girl in his arms drives him out of his own body. The town he knows so well is suddenly revealed to him from a whole new perspective. Secrets are everywhere and demons fester behind closed doors.

Worst of all, he discovers a serial killer who has been preying on the area for over a century, one capable of traveling with him through his dreams.

This book definitely went places I was not expecting it to. I didn’t know much going in except that it had to do with sleep paralysis and out of body experiences, but it definitely took a lot of twists and turns from there. From the very start unexpected things are happening to the main character, Owen, whose life is rather mediocre and unexciting. He goes through a traumatic experience and suddenly his life becomes much more active and full of adventure. Each night he learns more things about people and the world as it lives at night, as well as what dwells in the dark.

The writing flowed well and the descriptions were fledged out, but I did feel that the story might have benefited by being a little longer. When the climax happened it felt like everything suddenly happened all at once and was wrapped up rather quickly. I would have liked a little more in depth into the ‘big bad’ and what their actual purpose was, rather than a sudden climax and conclusion. Still it was pretty fast paced and an enjoyable read overall.

Thanks so much to Tor.com for sending me an ARC of this book, it’s expected to be released July 28th. Happy reading!

Blog Tour | This is How I Lied | Excerpt

Hey there! Today I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for This is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf and to be sharing an excerpt from the book which was kindly provided by Harlequin/Park Row Books. I’ll have a review coming in the future. Be sure to check it out if it sounds like something you would enjoy.

With the eccentricity of Fargo and the intensity of Sadie, THIS IS HOW I LIED by Heather Gudenkauf (Park Row Books; May 12, 2020; $17.99) is a timely and gripping thriller about careless violence we can inflict on those we love, and the lengths we will go to make it right, even 25 years later.

Tough as nails and seven months pregnant, Detective Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe of Grotto PD, is dreading going on desk duty before having the baby her and her husband so badly want. But when new evidence is found in the 25-year-old cold case of her best friend’s murder that requires the work of a desk jockey, Maggie jumps at the opportunity to be the one who finally puts Eve Knox’s case to rest.

Maggie has her work cut out for her. Everyone close to Eve is a suspect. There’s Nola, Eve’s little sister who’s always been a little… off; Nick, Eve’s ex-boyfriend with a vicious temper; a Schwinn riding drifter who blew in and out of Grotto; even Maggie’s husband Sean, who may have known more about Eve’s last day than he’s letting on. As Maggie continues to investigate, the case comes closer and closer to home, forcing her to confront her own demons before she can find justice for Eve. 

Buy Links | Harlequin  | Barnes & Noble | Amazon |
Books-A-Million | Powell’s

Excerpt:
Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe
Monday, June 15, 2020

As I slide out of my unmarked police car my swollen belly briefly gets wedged against the steering wheel. Sucking in my gut does little good but I manage to move the seat back and squeeze past the wheel. I swing my legs out the open door and glance furtively around the parking lot behind the Grotto Police Department to see if anyone is watching.

Almost eight months pregnant with a girl and not at my most graceful. I’m not crazy about the idea of one of my fellow officers seeing me try to pry myself out of this tin can. The coast appears to be clear so I begin the little ritual of rocking back and forth trying to build up enough momentum to launch myself out of the driver’s seat.

Once upright, I pause to catch my breath. The morning dew is already sending up steam from the weeds growing out of the cracked concrete. Sweating, I slowly make my way to the rear entrance of the Old Gray Lady, the nickname for the building we’re housed in. Built in the early 1900s, the first floor consists of the lobby, the finger printing and intake center, a community room, interview rooms and the jail. The second floor, which once held the old jail is home to the squad room and offices. The dank, dark basement holds a temperamental boiler and the department archives.

The Grotto Police Department has sixteen sworn officers that includes the chief, two lieutenants, a K-9 patrol officer, nine patrol officers, a school resource officer and two detectives. I’m detective number two.

I grew up in Grotto, a small river town of about ten thousand that sits among a circuitous cave system known as Grotto Caves State Park, the most extensive in Iowa. Besides being a favorite destination spot for families, hikers and spelunkers, Grotto is known for its high number of family owned farms – a dying breed. My husband Shaun and I are part of that breed – we own an apple orchard and tree farm.

 “Pretty soon we’re going to have to roll you in,” an irritatingly familiar voice calls out from behind me.

I don’t bother turning around. “Francis, that wasn’t funny the first fifty times you said it and it still isn’t,” I say as I scan my key card to let us in.

Behind me, Pete Francis, rookie officer and all-around caveman grabs the door handle and in a rare show of chivalry opens it so I can step through. “You know I’m just joking,” Francis says giving me the grin that all the young ladies in Grotto seem to find irresistible but just gives me another reason to roll my eyes.

“With the wrong person, those kinds of jokes will land you in sensitivity training,” I remind him.

“Yeah, but you’re not the wrong person, right?” he says seriously, “You’re cool with it?”

I wave to Peg behind the reception desk and stop at the elevator and punch the number two button. The police department only has two levels but I’m in no mood to climb up even one flight of stairs today. “Do I look like I’m okay with it?” I ask him.

Francis scans me up and down. He takes in my brown hair pulled back in a low bun, wayward curls springing out from all directions, my eyes red from lack of sleep, my untucked shirt, the fabric stretched tight against my round stomach, my sturdy shoes that I think are tied, but I can’t know for sure because I can’t see over my boulder-sized belly.

“Sorry,” he says appropriately contrite and wisely decides to take the stairs rather than ride the elevator with me.

“You’re forgiven,” I call after him.  As I step on the elevator to head up to my desk, I check my watch. My appointment with the chief is at eight and though he didn’t tell me what the exact reason is for this meeting I think I can make a pretty good guess.

It can’t be dictated as to when I have to go on light duty, seven months into my pregnancy, but it’s probably time. I’m guessing that Chief Digby wants to talk with me about when I want to begin desk duty or take my maternity leave. I get it.

It’s time I start to take it easy. I’ve either been the daughter of a cop or a cop my entire life but I’m more than ready to set it aside for a while and give my attention, twenty-four-seven to the little being inhabiting my uterus.

Shaun and I have been trying for a baby for a long, long time. And thousands of dollars and dozens of procedures later, when we finally found out we were pregnant, Shaun started calling her peanut because the only thing I could eat for the first nine weeks without throwing up was peanut butter sandwiches. The name stuck.

This baby is what we want more than anything in the world but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m a little bit scared. I’m used to toting around a sidearm not an infant.

 The elevator door opens to a dark paneled hallway lined with ten by sixteen framed photos of all the men who served as police chief of Grotto over the years. I pass by eleven photos before I reach the portrait of my father. Henry William Kennedy, 1995 – 2019, the plaque reads.

While the other chiefs stare out from behind the glass with serious expressions, my dad smiles showing his straight, white teeth. He was so proud when he was named chief of police. We were all proud, except maybe my older brother, Colin. God knows what Colin thought of it. As a teenager he was pretty self-absorbed, but I guess I was too, especially after my best friend died. I went off the rails for a while but here I am now. A Grotto PD detective, following in my dad’s footsteps. I think he’s proud of me too. At least when he remembers.

Last time I brought my dad back here to visit, we walked down this long corridor and paused at his photo. For a minute I thought he might make a joke, say something like, Hey, who’s that good looking guy? But he didn’t say anything. Finding the right words is hard for him now. Occasionally, his frustration bubbles over and he yells and sometimes even throws things which is hard to watch. My father has always been a very gentle man.

The next portrait in line is our current police chief, Les Digby. No smile on his tough guy mug. He was hired a month ago, taking over for Dexter Stroope who acted as the interim chief after my dad retired. Les is about ten years older than I am, recently widowed with two teenage sons. He previously worked for the Ransom Sheriff’s Office and I’m trying to decide if I like him. Jury’s still out.

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running.

Social Links| Author Website | Twitter: @hgudenkauf |
Instagram: @heathergudenkauf | Facebook: @HeatherGudenkaufAuthor | Goodreads

Happy reading!

Blog Tour: The Darkness We Hide

In the thrilling conclusion to The Undertaker’s Daughter series, THE DARKNESS WE HIDE, Doctor Rowan Dupont has been staring death in the face for so long, she’s willing to meet it for the secrets it holds. Death has followed her back to her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee, ten months ago, cloaking the walls of her family’s Victorian funeral home like a shroud. In investigating the mysterious deaths of her loved ones, Rowan has unearthed enough family secrets to bury everything she’d previously thought true. But each shocking discovery has only led to more bodies and more questions; the rabbit hole is deeper than she ever imagined.

Despite settling into a comfortable life with Police Chief Billy Brannigan, Rowan knows dangerous serial killer Julian Addington is still out there. She can’t let her guard down now. Not when she’s this close to ending it once and for all. But with a storm brewing on the horizon, she’ll get only one shot before the impending darkness takes hold, threatening to wipe away every truth she’s uncovered—and everything she holds dear.

Buy Links: Harlequin  Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-A-Million Powell’s

Oh boy, this one was full of twists and turns that I didn’t expect. I had not read the other books in the series and kind of wish I had read them first. I may go back and read them even though I’ve already read this one, just so I can better understand all the nuances of the characters and story.

That being said, it was still a really enjoyable and thrilling story. There were a number of points where I was both scared to find out what was going to happen and also eagerly needing to know. I’ve only read a few of Debra Webb’s books so far, but she is quickly becoming an author whose writing I really enjoy.

I would definitely say read the rest of the series first, but I would recommend picking them up for sure!

Debra Webb is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 130 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama. Visit Debra at www.DebraWebb.com or write to her at PO Box 176, Madison, AL 35758.

Social Links:
Author Website
Twitter: @DebraWebbAuthor
Instagram: @DebraEWebb
Facebook: @DebraWebbAuthor
Goodreads

Happy reading!