Blogtober Day Ten: Amanda’s Favorite Horror Recommendations

Hi, lovelies! In the last two years, I’ve gotten into the horror genre. I’ve read some really great books that I was surprised to love. I’m excited that I gave horror a chance because I’ve found some really amazing stories to love. I’ve also chosen to DNF quite a bit of horror. I’m definitely learning what kinds of things I can and can’t read about when it comes to horror. I’m not super into gruesome and graphic horror, but I can read a bit of it if it’s relevant to the rest of the story.

Middle Grade

The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf

Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

Young Adult

The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Adult

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Sundial by Catriona Ward

Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist

Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

I didn’t realize how much more adult horror I’ve read until making this list. I definitely added some new middle-grade horror to my tbr. For YA, I read a fair bit, but often they have endings that ruin things. Do you have any favorite horror novels?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White

Summary:
Twelve-year-old twins Theodora and Alexander and their older sister Wilhelmina Sinister-Winterbottom don’t know how they ended up with their Aunt Saffronia for an entire summer. She’s not exactly well equipped to handle children. The twins are determined to make it a good vacation, though, so when Aunt Saffronia suggests a waterpark, they hastily agree.
But Fathoms of Fun is not your typical waterpark. Instead of cabanas, guests rent mausoleums. The waterslides are gray tongues extending from horrible gargoyle faces. The few people they encounter are very, very odd. And the owner disappeared under bizarre circumstances, lost to the Cold, Unknowable Sea—the wave pool.
When Wil goes missing, rule following, cautious Alexander and competitive, brave Theo will have to work together to solve the mystery of Fathoms of Fun. But are they out of their depth?

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Wretched Waterpark follows two siblings as they are weirdly dropped off by their parents at an aunt’s house. They’ve never met this aunt before and they spend the whole week at the local Waterpark. But it’s not like any Waterpark they’ve been to before. Something weird is going on and they just might be nose enough to figure it out.
I liked the siblings as the main characters. I love a good sibling story and this one definitely covered that aspect. I think the relationship between the siblings is what really made this book shine.
The setting was pretty good too. This weird-ass Waterpark was full of slides and such, but the restaurant served fancy food, and there didn’t seem to be many other guests. I think White did a great job making it obvious that something was wrong at the park.
Overall, I had a good time reading this one. I liked that the siblings could depend on one another. But they were also distinct, and I enjoyed getting to know them all.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Last Laugh by Mindy McGinnis

Summary:
Tress Montor murdered Felicity Turnado—but she might not have to live with the guilt for long. With an infected arm held together by duct tape, the panther who clawed her open on the loose, and the whole town on the hunt for the lost homecoming queen, the odds are stacked against Tress. As her mind slides deeper into delirium, Tress is haunted by the growing sound of Felicity’s heartbeat pulsing from the “best friend” charm around her fevered neck.
Ribbit Usher has been a punchline his whole life—from his nickname to his latest turn as the unwitting star of a humiliating viral video. In the past he’s willingly played the fool, but now it’s time to fulfill his destiny. That means saving the girl, so that Felicity can take her place at his side and Ribbit can exact revenge on all who have done him wrong—which includes his cousin, Tress. Ribbit is held by a pact he made with his mother long ago, a pact that must be delivered upon in four days.
With time ticking down and an enemy she considers a friend lurking in the shadows, Tress’s grip on reality is failing. Can she keep both mind and body together long enough to finally find out what happened to her parents? 

Review:
The Last Laugh picks up right where The Initial Insult ends, but honestly this book felt like it didn’t need to be a whole book.
Things are not looking good for Tress when this story opens. But this book felt like it was essentially following Tress into madness. Maybe that was the point, but it wasn’t super enjoyable for me.
Overall, I’m going to keep this review short because I don’t have much to say. McGinnis does a great job setting the scene and making this story feel atmospheric. But I was left wondering what the point was if Felicity’s death was the big thing, it happened too soon.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

Summary:
Arlee Gold is anxious about spending the summer at the college prep Camp Rockaway—the same camp her mother attended years ago, which her mother insists will help give Arlee a “fresh start” and will “change her life.” Little does Arlee know that, once she steps foot on the manicured grounds, this will prove to be true in horrifying ways.
Even though the girls in her cabin are awesome—and she’s developing a major crush on the girl who sleeps in the bunk above her—the other campers seem to be wary of Arlee, unwilling to talk to her or be near her, which only ramps up her paranoia. When she’s tapped to join a strange secret society, Arlee thinks this will be her shot at fitting in…until her new “sisters” ask her to do the unthinkable, putting her life, and the life of her new crush, in perilous danger.

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review.
Primal Animals follows Arlee who is being dropped off at the same summer camp that her mother went to when she was Arlee’s age. Her mother hopes that Arlee will make some life long connections, but Arlee is just hoping to survive her extreme bug phobia since she will be spending the summer in the woods. This summer camp is full of secrets and we follow Arlee as she reveals them and wishes she hadn’t.
I think this author nailed the horror aspects of this book. Definitely do not read this if you have any sort of issues with bugs. And while I liked the summer camp setting, I really wish the plot had gone a different way. I think the story would have been way better had the plot leaned into Arlee’s phobia of bugs. Things just escalated very quickly plot-wise. Also, I could really relate to Arlee, but I actually didn’t like her very much.
Overall, definitely, an atmospheric horror novel that involves a fear of bugs. The rich kid summer camp was a really engaging setting. I just wasn’t very compelled by the plot sadly. I also absolutely hated the ending. It had an ending similar to Wilder Girls by Rory Power or Horrid by Katrina Leno which is my least favorite kind of endings for books. I definitely think some people will really love this, but I’m not one of them.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

Summary:
Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow.
Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain.
Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.
Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself.
now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.
If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil—her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart.
Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.

Review:
Thank you to Netgalley for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Bone Orchard follows Charm, who is the mistress of Orchard House. We follow as politics are revealed and we get to know the characters. I am sorry to say that I don’t think I enjoyed this book very much. I was confused pretty much the whole time. I could follow along with some of the plotlines and whatnot. But by the time I finished the book, I still had questions that hadn’t been answered.
I do think that this was a me thing and not the fault of the book. I think maybe I’m just not smart enough for this book or maybe I just didn’t read it with enough focus but I feel like I completely missed something.
Overall, I probably wouldn’t recommend this one, but I’d like to see what others thought of this one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Sundial by Catriona Ward

Summary:
You can’t escape what’s in your blood…
All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it, too: a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. But Rob fears for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of the family she left behind.
She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.
Callie is worried about her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely, and speaks of past secrets. And Callie fears that only one of them will leave Sundial alive…
The mother and daughter embark on a dark, desert journey to the past in the hopes of redeeming their future.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Sundial was an absolutely wild ride with twists and turns that I did not see coming at all. The story follows Rob, a mother to two daughters. When she thinks that one of her daughters has tried to kill the other, she takes Callie to her childhood home, Sundial. Sundial is where it all started and Rob thinks she must finally tell Callie the whole truth now that she’s tried to kill her sister and has a room full of bones.
What a story this was. I genuinely never knew what was going to happen next. I made predictions over and over and every prediction I had was completely wrong. Ward really kept me at the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next and how the story was going to play out. I really liked how the story jumped between the past and the present. We mostly follow Rob’s point of view, in both the past and the present. But every once in a while we got a chapter from Callie, and every single one of them was creepy and chilling, filled with ghosts.
I definitely don’t think that I can say I actually liked any of these characters. But I was quickly invested in their stories. Ward has written an engaging and compelling story that was very difficult to put down. The story was well-paced and suspenseful. Sharing just enough secrets to let me guess at what might happen next, but never enough for me to guess correctly.
Overall, I’m very excited to read more of Ward’s writing. This was a well-written story that has characters I wanted to root for, even if I didn’t actually like them. The twists and turns were completely unpredictable but still were tied back to the plot bringing the story full circle. I will definitely be recommending this one in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar

Summary:
The New York Times bestselling coauthor of Gwendy’s Button Box brings his signature “thrilling, page-turning” (Michael Koryta, author of How It Happened) prose to this story of small-town evil that combines the storytelling of Stephen King with the true-crime suspense of Michelle McNamara.
In the summer of 1988, the mutilated bodies of several missing girls begin to turn up in a small Maryland town. The grisly evidence leads police to the terrifying assumption that a serial killer is on the loose in the quiet suburb. But soon a rumor begins to spread that the evil stalking local teens is not entirely human. Law enforcement, as well as members of the FBI are certain that the killer is a living, breathing madman—and he’s playing games with them. For a once peaceful community trapped in the depths of paranoia and suspicion, it feels like a nightmare that will never end.
Recent college graduate Richard Chizmar returns to his hometown just as a curfew is enacted and a neighborhood watch is formed. In the midst of preparing for his wedding and embarking on a writing career, he soon finds himself thrust into the real-life horror story. Inspired by the terrifying events, Richard writes a personal account of the serial killer’s reign of terror, unaware that these events will continue to haunt him for years to come.
A clever, terrifying, and heartrending work of metafiction, Chasing the Boogeyman is the ultimate marriage between horror fiction and true crime. Chizmar’s “brilliant…absolutely fascinating, totally compelling, and immediately poignant” (C.J. Tudor, New York Times bestselling author) writing is on full display in this truly unique novel that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.

Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar

Review:
I read Chasing the Boogeyman for a part of the 12 Recommendations Challenge that was going around on Instagram (thanks @amy for recommending this one). This is a horror novel mixed with non-fiction in a true-crime sort of way. By that I mean, the author Richard Chizmar, is also our main character. And this story takes place in his hometown. We follow him as he’s living at home after college for a few months before he gets married. But while he’s staying with his parents in his childhood home, something terrible starts to happen in his small town. Four girls are kidnapped and brutally murdered. The worst part? The police can’t seem to find the killer but suspect that’s it’s someone local to the town.
My biggest issue with this book was that I spent entirely too much time wondering what was true and what was false because at the beginning of the story it’s explained that some parts of the story are fiction and some aren’t. So obviously, I wanted to know which parts were which. I’m here to tell you not to focus on that if you read this book. You will be told what’s the truth and what isn’t before the book is over. I didn’t know that, so I focused too much on wondering. I was totally blown away by the big reveal of what’s fact versus fiction in this story and I think that’s what made this story so good for me.
Now, the story starts off super slow with a bit of history about the town of Edgewood. But once you get past that, the story has a pretty good pace. It was really hard not to get sucked into the drama and suspense of solving this case. Chizmar did an incredible job of making me feel like I knew everything about this small town and like I’d grown up there alongside him. But he also did a great job keeping me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next, and when there was going to be a big break in the case.
Overall, this was a wild ride. It was terrifyingly realistic (especially since I live in the same state as this book). Chizmar clearly knows how to write a good story and I think any fan of horror will like this one. But I think it will also appeal to fans of true crime and mystery/thriller lovers.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist

Summary:
Med school dropout Lena is desperate for a job, any job, to help her parents, who are approaching bankruptcy after her father was injured and laid off nearly simultaneously. So when she is offered a position, against all odds, working for one of Boston’s most elite families, the illustrious and secretive Verdeaus, she knows she must accept it—no matter how bizarre the interview or how vague the job description.
By day, she is assistant to the family doctor and his charge, Jonathan, the sickly, poetic, drunken heir to the family empire, who is as difficult as his illness is mysterious. By night, Lena discovers the more sinister side of the family, as she works overtime at their lavish parties, helping to hide their self-destructive tendencies . . . and trying not to fall for Jonathan’s alluring sister, Audrey. But when she stumbles upon the knowledge that the Verdeau patriarch is the one responsible for the ruin of her own family, Lena vows to get revenge—a poison-filled quest that leads her further into this hedonistic world than she ever bargained for, forcing her to decide how much—and who—she’s willing to sacrifice for payback.
The perfect next read for fans of Mexican GothicTripping Arcadia is a page-turning and shocking tale with an unforgettable protagonist that explores family legacy and inheritance, the sacrifices we must make to get by in today’s world, and the intoxicating, dangerous power of wealth.

Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review.
The story follows Lena as she’s just arriving back in Boston. She took a break from medical school and went to work with her Aunt in Italy working with plants that have medicinal purposes. But she’s returned to help her parents who are having financial issues. This leads to Lena getting a job as a doctors assistant for a very wealthy family. Lena finds herself entirely too involved with the family, and that’s she’s in completely over her head. But when she realizes the connections between the family she’s employed by and the downfall of her own family, she decides to take things into her own hands and seek revenge.
I really liked Lena right from the start. You could tell that she was super smart and passionate about certain things (like the work with plants she was doing with her Aunt). Her sudden idea and decision to position the man that employed her seemed a little rash for what bwe were shown was an otherwise thoughtful character. Lena seemed to try to think things through before making reckless choices, but the choice to attempt to poison Martin was a snap decision that felt like it took hold of her rather than her actually making the decision. Aside from that, I liked Lena. I didn’t totally understand why she was so enamored by Audrey and Jonathan, as neither of them were very likable characters.
Overall, this was an absolutely wild ride and I really enjoyed it. While I didn’t like all of the characters, I liked Lena. The writing of this story was absolutely beautiful. Mayquist’s prose was lyrical and mysterious, with beautifully described settings. I will be looking forward to whatever work Mayquist writes in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

No Beauties or Monsters by Tara Goedjen

Summary:
A mystery about a girl whose family secrets are as threatening as the desert that surrounds her—but whose quest to expose the truth may tear apart reality itself.
Rylie hasn’t been back to Twentynine Palms since her dad died. She left a lot of memories out there, buried in the sand of the Mojave Desert. Memories about her dad, her old friends Nathan and Lily, and most of all, her enigmatic grandfather, a man who cut ties with Rylie’s family before he passed away. But her mom’s new work assignment means their family has to move, and now Rylie’s in the one place she never wanted to return to, living in the house of a grandfather she barely knew.
At least her old friends are happy to welcome her home. Well, some of them, anyway. Lily is gone, vanished into the desert. And Twentynine Palms is so much stranger than Rylie remembers. There are whispers around town of a mysterious killer on the loose, but it isn’t just Twentynine Palms that feels off—there’s something wrong with Rylie, too. She’s seeing things she can’t explain. Visions of monstrous creatures that stalk the night.
Somehow, it all seems to be tied to her grandfather and the family cabin he left behind. Rylie wants the truth, but she doesn’t know if she can trust herself. Are the monsters in her head really out there? Or could it be that the deadliest thing in the desert . . . is Rylie herself?

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
I have to say, this book was freaking weird, but in a good way, I think. The story follows Rylie just after her family has moved back to Twentynine Palms (a military base in California). Weird things are happening here and Rylie can’t be sure if she’s remembering things from the summers she spent staying with her grandfather, or if she’s just losing her mind.
I want to say that the mystery of this story was a good one, but I don’t know that it was. I was incredibly confused for most of this story and not in a fun, slowly putting the pieces together kind of way. I just genuinely had no clue what was going on. Rylie is having weird gaps in her memory, trying to remember with hypnosis, but remembering even weirder things that just don’t make any sense. I will say that when we find out what the big twist is, all of the confusion and weird puzzle pieces absolutely make sense. So, it’s a well-constructed mystery, I was just incredibly confused until the absolute last piece was revealed to the reader.
I think the setting of the desert was an interesting one. I feel like I don’t see much outside of the fantasy genre with a desert setting. But I think it worked really well for this story.
Overall, this story was absolutely bizarre. But I found myself unable to put it down until I learned what the heck was actually happening to these characters. Despite my confusion for most of the book, I was compelled to continue. The pace of the story felt quick even though things happened pretty slowly. The characters were interesting, but I didn’t feel any special attachment to them. I do think they were well developed with interesting personalities. I believe this is labeled as a horror story, but I don’t think it totally fits there. I think if anything this would be more science fiction than horror. But I want to know if anyone else has read this.  If you have, leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.
The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?
Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.

Book Cover

Review:
The Bone Houses follows Ryn, who is just trying to keep her family together. Since both her parents died, she’s the oldest and feels like she needs to do whatever it takes to keep her home and her brother and sister with her. To do this, she’s taken up her father’s position of grave digger, but the people in her town have started burning their dead instead of having them buried. Also, the dead don’t always stay dead in this town. The dead that rise again are called bone houses.
The magic of the bone houses was one of the best parts of this book. The magic that brings these bodies back to life was absolutely fascinating. I loved following Ryn’s journey with Ellis to the place of legends. I really enjoyed Ryn telling Ellis of these legends and then getting to see the places she’d been telling him about. There was a mystery about the bone houses that was slowly unraveled and each time we thought we’d gotten to the bottom of it, another layer to the myth and magic was revealed.
Second to the magic was the developing relationship between Ryn and Ellis. I really liked them together. Ellis has an injury that causes him chronic pain. I thought this representation was interesting because I don’t often see disability portrayed as chronic pain from an old injury. We see him struggling, but we also get to see some really great communication about how Ryn can help him and what isn’t actually helpful. I liked the development of their relationship. They start as strangers and slowly become friends before anything romantic even comes into the story. I thought it was a really well-developed romance and I couldn’t help but root for them.
Overall, I liked this story very much. It was so much darker than I was anticipating and I loved that. I guessed a few of the twists right before they were revealed, which was fun for me because I’m not usually good at guessing twists. I also just have to say that this book cover is absolutely stunning.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Summary:
Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.
Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.
Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

Book Cover

Review:
This is another audiobook that I read for spooky season. I didn’t get all my reviews written and scheduled in time, so we’re keeping the spooky content into November. The Sun Down Motel was confirmation that I love the ‘are the ghosts real or not’ trope in horror/mystery. Another example of this that I liked this season was Home Before Dark by Riley Sager.
The Sun Down Motel also had another common element with a few other books I read this October. It tells two stories: one in the past and one in the present. In the present, we are following Carly who finds herself in Fell, New York. The same town that her aunt disappeared in 30 years ago, an event that’s haunted her family since. In the past, we follow Carly’s aunt, Viv, and we get to see what really happened to her all those years ago in that same small town. I loved the back and forth between the past and the present. I loved that the events in the present seemed to mirror and reflect those that happened in the past.
I liked Carly and Viv. Both of them made some pretty poor choices, but I liked them anyway. They’re both head strong women that just couldn’t back down from a mystery. Carly’s mystery was her aunt and Viv’s mystery was the serial killer in Fell.
I absolutely adored the Sun Down Motel. It was such a weird setting, but I loved it anyway. I thought the ghosts that were there were completely fascinating and I really loved learning more about them and how they ended up stuck there.
Overall, I loved this book and I’ll be picking up more of St. James’s books in the future. She tells a suspenseful and emotional story that you just cannot put down until you manage to find every last detail and secret. I loved the setting, the characters, the pace of the story. I loved this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Summary:
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.

Book Cover

Review:
Here are five things I liked about Home Before Dark:

  1. I really liked that the story was told in alternating chapters. We follow Maggie, present day, but we also get excerpts from her father’s book (which is heavily talked about by Maggie in the present-day chapters). I thought this was a creative and interesting way to tell the story. I think it worked right up until the big reveal about the book.
  2. Along with how the story is told in both the present and the past, I thought it was really interesting how things that were happening to Maggie and Maggie’s actions were mirroring and reflecting many of the things that had already happened (or were claimed to happen in her dad’s book) in the past.
  3. I was surprised to find that I actually sort of liked that I had no idea what was the truth and what wasn’t. I don’t usually like books where I don’t actually know what’s going on. But Sager did an excellent job keeping up the mystery and the suspense until the big reveal. I spent most of the book flip-flopping between firmly believing that the ghosts were real or that they were definitely all made up.
  4. I listened to the audiobook which has two narrators. I liked both narrators. The male narrator that read Maggie’s father’s book did a great job and I will absolutely be seeking out more book narrated by him. I liked the narrator for Maggie as well. I think she did a great job telling the story and keeping up the emotion and suspense.
  5. The big reveal. I liked it because like I said above, I went back and forth for the entire book between believing and not believing that the ghosts were real. So, to finally have confirmation one way or another was almost a relief. I liked how things all played out to put it vaguely so that I don’t spoil anything.

Overall, I really liked this book. I’m not surprised since I’ve liked all of Sager’s other books I’ve read. I also discovered (partially because of this book) that I really like the ‘but are the ghosts real or not’ trope for horror and mystery books. I would definitely recommend the audiobook for this one to any audiobook fans, but I’m sure the physical or digital book was just as good.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Summary:
Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him.
By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to. Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This Crimson Peak-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for an advanced copy of The Death of Jane Lawrence in exchange for an honest review. This story follows Jane, a woman that is seeking a platonic marriage of convenience so that she is no longer the responsibility of her foster family. She meets with Augustine Lawrence, a local doctor, who eventually agrees to her proposal. But she’s never allowed to stay overnight at his family home, Lindrige Hall. As things tend to go in stories, the first night they are married, Jane’s carriage is washed off the road on its way to town by a rain storm, so the only alternative is that Jane walks back and stays the night with Augustine at Lindrige Hall. This is when things start to get creepy.
I really liked Jane. I thought her backstory and character development were well done. We didn’t get her life’s story dumped on us, but instead got to know her as the story developed. We learned that she was a level headed, logical woman. But the things happening at Lindrige Hall were anything but logical. It was really interesting to see Jane in a situation where her brain couldn’t use reason and logic to explain what was going on around her. I liked Augustine, too. He had secrets that he never thought he would have to share with Jane. It was a marriage of convenience, after all. But when his secrets start coming out, the reader isn’t left with a clear idea of whether or not Augustine is a good or bad person. He was a complicated man and Jane’s growing romantic feelings for him didn’t make things any easier.
The mystery and weirdness of Lindrige Hall made this story excellently spooky. There are ghosts, we think. But they might not actually be ghosts. There’s magic, but is magic actually real? I guess it’s only real if you believe that it’s real. There was so much that defied the logic that Jane depended upon and this really added some confusion to the story, in a good way.
Overall, The Death of Jane Lawrence is the perfect book for October. It’s creepy and atmospheric. It’s weird and confusing. It leaves the reader wondering ‘what the heck is actually going on?’ But all the things that the reader learns are wrapped up for the most part by the end of the story. I liked the characters, the setting, and the magic. I would definitely recommend this one and I will be seeking out Starling’s backlist very soon.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twenty-Two: Spooky Book Covers

Hello, lovelies! I was running out of blogtober ideas and then I realized I haven’t done a post (outside of a Top Ten Tuesday) about book covers in quite a while. So, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite spooky/creepy covers that I love. I’m a sucker for a good cover and there are definitely some that have drawn me to mystery or horror books when the summary probably wouldn’t have grabbed me.

The Arsonist and Spellbook of the Lost and Found were absolutely books I bought because of their covers. They were also books that I enjoyed very much when I read them.

Please just look at these stunning purple covers. I’d recommend all of these for spooky season based on the cover alone (but the stories inside are also good spooky season stories).

Creepy weather. Creepy teeth. Creepy animals. Seriously, what more could someone ask for from these covers? Nothing, they’re absolute perfection.

The Valley and the Flood cover is the only reason that I read this book. It’s weird and I just had to know more about the story inside. The Inheritance Games is such a good cover because there’s so much going on that you don’t know where to look (which is really telling of the story inside). Mexican Gothic is such a simple cover, but damn does it make a statement.

Who knew that flowers could be horrifying? Well, they only really are for Horrid. Those flower eyes will haunt me. The other flowers are totally pretty, but with the other elements of the covers, there is a mysteriousness about both These Vengeful Hearts and Whichwood.

There are some books that I haven’t read yet that I wanted to share their covers, too. For some of them, the covers are absolutely the reason that these books are on my radar in the first place.

For the Throne has a stunning cover, much like the first book in the series. I’m reading it because I loved the first book, not because of the cover. But it’s cover was just released and it’s so beautiful that I had to include it. The Last Laugh is also a sequel that I’ll be reading either way, but oh jeez that cover. Lakesedge is one that grabbed me from the synopsis and the cover wasn’t released until very recently. There’s just something that screams spooky and atmospheric about it.

I don’t usually like books with faces on the cover, but these are creepy as hell and I’m absolutely living for it.

The Forest of Stolen Girls has what looks like two girls drowning in flowers and that sounds absolutely horrifying. I’m honestly not sure what is going on with The River Has Teeth but I just borrowed a copy from the library and I’m about to find out. Where the Drowned Girls Go is part of the Wayward Children series which I love, but that random door in the ocean is mysterious as hell.

What are some of your favorite creepy and weird covers?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

Summary:
Courtney Gould’s thrilling debut The Dead and the Dark is about the things that lurk in dark corners, the parts of you that can’t remain hidden, and about finding home in places―and people―you didn’t expect.
The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won’t stay hidden any longer.
Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.
Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. The Dead and the Dark is a creepy story that follows Logan, the daughter of the two stars of ParaSpectors. Her dads star on a ghost hunting kind of show and they claim that their next big shoot is going to be in Snakebite, Oregon where her dads grew up. But when Logan and her Pop arrive, they are anything but welcomed by the towns people. This story was suspenseful and mysterious. It was an excellent read for spooky season. I’m still not writing reviews that I’m super happy with, so, I’m going to change up the format again for this one.

Things I Liked:

I really liked the diversity. Logan is a lesbian. She has two dads. There’s also a character that’s unsure about their sexuality.

I liked the family dynamic. Logan gets along with her Pop way more than she does with her dad. There were reasons behind this, but I think Gould did a great job showing the love that this family has for each other.

The setting. I love books that have small town settings and this one absolutely didn’t disappoint in that regard. The setting of Snakebite really made this story what it was.

The mystery that this story is trying to solve was a fascinating one. We see a bad thing happen at the beginning, but the person’s identity isn’t revealed so I spent the whole book guessing who this ‘big bad’ was. I never did figure it out until the big reveal.

I grew to like the romance. Logan ends up having feelings for a girl that we’re led to believe is straight. She’s also kind of shitty in the sense that she spends all this time with Logan, but she doesn’t defend her to her local friends. But I think she grew enough that I did really end up liking her and Logan together.

I really liked the family history that we learned about. Both of Logan’s fathers grew up in Snakebite, so there’s so much that she doesn’t know about their childhood. We get to learn bits and pieces about what things were like for them as the story goes along.

Things I Didn’t Like:

At times, I didn’t like Logan. She was rude as hell to her dad but so nice to her Pop. There were reasons for the things her dad did and the was that he acted and she never took the time to even ask about it. She just let her negative feelings fester and I really didn’t like that.

I think the story was a bit slow at times. I’m not sure how to explain it other than that. I don’t think that I was expecting creepy things to jump out at me, but there was just something about it that couldn’t hold my focus.

The ending felt like it was a bit rushed compared to the slower pace of the rest of the story. There were so many plotlines that needed to be tied together in order to wrap up the story and I think it all happened really quickly and neatly and I didn’t love that. This story was messy, but the ending wrapped up in a nice neat bow.

Overall, this was a suspenseful and atmospheric story about a family that returns to a small town full of secrets. I really loved the ‘small town full of secrets’ aspect of the story. I would definitely recommend this book for spooky season.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.