Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

I couldn’t put this book down! It had all the thrills, chills, horror and suspense I was looking for! From the premise to the execution, this story had me hooked!

Full disclosure? I watched the movie before reading the book. Despite that, enough was changed and the novel reads so well that it still felt fresh and unpredictable. The situation is absolutely terrifying and you can’t help cheering for the MC despite her prickly personality. This is horror done right! Seriously, I lost sleep over this one (because I stayed up too late reading)! If you like scary books and you haven’t tried this one yet, I highly recommend giving it a chance. Must. Read. Sequel. Immediately.

From Goodreads: Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now, that the boy and girl are four, it is time to go. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motley group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos.

But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted? 

Review: The Lizard King by Bryan Christie

The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers – The Tiger King ain’t got nothing on these guys!

If you’re looking for a nonfiction book that reads like fiction, this is it! If you’re looking for a plot where sometimes the good guys are the bad guys and the bad guys are the good guys, here’s your book. And if you want to read something unbelievable but true, look no further.

The lengths people have gone to in order to procure and trade exotic reptiles is ridiculous. The money that’s changed hands is extraordinary! Growing up, I had a number of snakes, iguanas, even a Nile monitor, and I never stopped to think where these pets came from or what they went through before they came into my home. I feel horrible for having contributed to some of the horrors that occur in this eye-opening tale of the world’s reptile trade, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

From Goodreads: Michael J. Van Nostrand owns a business in Florida importing as many as 300,000 iguanas each year as well as hundreds of thousands of snakes, lizards, frogs, spiders, and scorpions. This book tells how, for years, Special Agent Chip Bepler has been trying to expose Van Nostrand’s suspected crimes as a reptile smuggler

Review: The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

I’ve read books by this author before and really enjoyed them, so I decided to give this one a shot,
but after the first few pages, I found myself questioning my decision. There was an instant disconnect. I wasn’t really feeling the characters. Then, all hell broke loose.

What I feared was going to be a humdrum book centering on a boring girl turned into a super fast paced page turner featuring a kick ass heroine (or two). The characters came alive and the stakes rose higher and higher as I raced through the pages. My only complaint would be that there were certain events referenced in the book that made me wonder if there was a prequel, and that were never explained to my satisfaction. So . . . maybe a sequel?!?!

Overall, engaging and enthralling!

From Goodreads: A deliciously commercial YA page-turner about the daughter of a con artist who is taken hostage in a bank heist.

Nora O’Malley is a lot of things. A sister. An ex. A secret girlfriend. Kind of crooked, but reformed… somewhat.

Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up her mother’s protege. But when mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape.

For five years she’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:

#1: her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’ve all been inseparable for months, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.

#2: The morning after, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised together. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly.

Because #3: right after they get in the bank, two guys start robbing it.

But they have no idea who they’re really holding hostage.

The robbers are trouble. Nora’s something else entirely. 

Review: The Box In The Woods by Maureen Johnson

I absolutely LOVED the Truly Devious series, so I was thrilled when I learned that Maureen Johnson was writing another mystery featuring the same characters! I rarely preorder a book, preferring instead to wait until it appears in one of the half dozen Kindle daily deal emails I receive, but I knew had to get my hands on this one as soon as possible, so I purchased this one months before its release date. After what seemed like eons of waiting, finally the day came when I got to see beyond the cover to the actual pages of the book!

While I really enjoyed this story, it was definitely different from the previous novels in the series. For one, it felt darker, which I didn’t mind at all, but there were other differences that were an uncomfortable fit, like a too tight sock. The supporting characters (Stevie’s friends) felt a little off to me, maybe because they didn’t have as much of a chance to show their personalities in this one. They almost felt like window dressing to me – only there to serve a specific purpose instead of adding to the dynamics of the plot.

But I think the biggest difference for me was the mystery itself. There aren’t many suspects in this one, so the big payoff of the reveal is more focused on the how and why of the crime. The author does leave a trail of breadcrumbs for readers to follow, and while I don’t mind when I can’t put all the clues together early, when the motivation of the killer comes to light it this one, it almost felt like it wasn’t fair play.

Ultimately, I did like this book, but suspect I would have enjoyed it more had it used characters I was unfamiliar with. After waiting so long to reconnect with Stevie and the gang, the reunion felt a little underwhelming, but Maureen Johnson puts on a good show! 4.5 stars!

From Goodreads:

The Truly Devious series continues as Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery.

Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.

But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls–the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.

Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.

But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive.

Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness: Lisa Unger’s House Of Crows Novella Series

This week I read:

This novella series is about 4 adults who were friends as teenagers, a dark secret that they share, and the past that’s come back to haunt them.

This was a good introduction to the novella series. In this book we’re introduced to the major characters and we get a glimpse of their troubled pasts as well as the creepy house at the center of the mystery.

In the 2nd part of the series, we learn more about the dynamics of the characters’ childhood friendships, their adult relationships, and the darkness that followed them from their past into their present.

In the 3rd part of the series, we learn that things aren’t always as they seem. Danger lurks around every corner, and no one is safe.

The conclusion to the series packs a wallop with enough tension, suspense and unexpected twists to keep the reader on the edge of their seats! All in all a creepy, atmospheric series.

I just started:

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Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness

This week I read:

Gifted teens in Vegas? What’s the worst that could happen? The 3rd installment of The Naturals series presents a tightly plotted, super smart mystery that deepens the arc that connects all the books. We get to know the characters, their backgrounds, and their motivations better as the author teases the reader with answers they so desperately want, all while deftly laying clues for them to solve the case at hand.

This final installment wraps the series up nicely. I’m sad that it’s over, but now maybe I can finally get some sleep! 🙂 Barnes is a master of creating tension and suspense even as the events teased throughout the series finally come to fruition. The stakes are high – not just because they’re life or death, but because it feels like you’ve come to know the characters and are invested in their fates. There you are, holding your breath, hoping for the best, and then whammy! What an emotional rollercoaster!

This novella picks up 6 years after the novels leave off. I was eager to read more about the characters I had come to know over the course of the series, and to discover how they had evolved as they aged. The case presented in this one was interesting and had a nice twist, but there was something missing. It felt a bit rushed, not just because there was a clock ticking down, creating a sense of urgency and suspense, but because the time usually spent with the characters and their development was missing. This was like a 2 hour movie paring down to a 1/2 hour show with half the cast. Good but not great.

I just started:

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Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness

This week I read:

I LOVED this book! And I stayed up WAY too late reading it! Some people have a natural gift for reading people . . . what happens when the FBI recruits them while they’re still teenagers? In full disclosure I did guess who the villain was, but I didn’t care. I loved the characters, the storyline, everything. Every once in a while a book comes along where I have to pick the sequel up immediately – and this was one of those books!

Barnes is officially to blame for my sleep deficit! This is the 4th book I’ve read by her this year, the 2nd in this series, and she’s quickly become one of my YA favorite authors. The stakes are no less serious in this sequel, the characters no less likeable, the storyline no less suspenseful! Teenage angst and twisty plots? I’m addicted! I just broke my book buying diet to buy the next installment!

I just started:

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Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness

This week I read:

Three friends who share a mysterious secret from their past find themselves treading water as their lives start to unravel. Has the past come back to haunt them? Or is the threat a reality? This was good, but not my favorite by this author. A bit predictable and unbelievable at times. I enjoyed the dynamics of the friendship and the character development more than the suspense, which is rare for me.

Four college friends – or are they frienemies – meet up for a reunion. When the secrets come out, so do the claws, but some will pay more than others. Who do you trust when everybody’s a suspect? I enjoyed my time with this twisty mystery but wish I hadn’t pegged the culprit as early as I did.

I just started:

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Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness

This week I read:

A woman with synesthesia – she sees colors when people speak, each with their own distinctive shades and patterns – returns home 13 years after her boyfriend and his family disappeared to take care of her aging grandmother and autistic brother. But not everybody is happy that she’s back.

This one has mixed reviews, and I’ll admit that it wasn’t without its faults, but it held my attention and I enjoyed reading it. I found it fast paced and suspenseful.

This book packs a punch! A successful black student with an Ivy League future starts writing letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a way to work through his feelings after suffering an injustice due to racial profiling. Despite his efforts to learn wisdom from Luther’s teachings, the MC struggles to make sense of a reality that gets progressively more confusing and hostile. A raw, insightful look into how it feels when you’re judged by the color of your skin and not your actions.

I just started:

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Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness

This week I read:

I loved the idea behind this book – a club of high schoolers who celebrate their love of all things horror by pulling pranks and ‘fear tests’ on their fellow students. But even better than that, I loved the execution of this book! It’s all fun and games until someone takes it too far . . . that’s when things get really interesting. The thrills, the chills, the ‘everybody’s a suspect’ kept me gripped until the very end! My only complaint would be that the ending left so many questions unanswered – I can only assume that means there’s a sequel!

Three 12 year old girls who have been researching the man at the center of a local urban legend sneak out of a slumber party and go to the train yard, where one of them gets severely beaten. But who’s to blame?

It’s certainly a compelling plot, and brings to mind news reports surrounding murky figures such as slender man. Gudenkauf had me hooked! She does a good job of providing plenty of suspects for the reader, and while the twist had occurred to me while reading, it and was the one I had hoped she wouldn’t take, there’s no denying that I couldn’t put this book down!

I just started:

Click the links to friend me on Litsy or Goodreads!

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