Book Review : Meddling Kids By Edgar Cantero

If you grew up watching Scooby-Doo like I did, you’ll recognize the parallels here – four young people and a dog unmasking the villains behind mysterious circumstances who would have gotten away with their crimes if it weren’t for those ‘meddling kids’. There was no way I could pass this one up!

What starts out as a nostalgic walk down memory lane quickly takes a sinister turn that doesn’t let up as the amateur detectives reunite to revisit their last – and most memorable – case, the one that’s left them all struggling their own types of PTSD into adulthood. As they delve into the mystery, the story deviates from the Scooby track as they find themselves up against an enemy of supernatural proportions. I liked it, but it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.

From Goodreads:

For fans of John Dies at the End and Welcome to Night Vale comes a tour de force of horror, humor, and H.P. Lovecraft. The surviving members of a forgotten teenage detective club (and their dog) must reunite as broken adults to finally solve the terrifying case that ruined them all…and sent the wrong man to prison. Scooby Doo and the gang never had to do this!

1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven’t seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Keri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she’s got Sean, an excitable Weimeraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arhkam, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter’s been dead for years.

The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting.

With raucous humor and brilliantly orchestrated mayhem, Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids taps into our shared nostalgia for the books and cartoons we grew up with, and delivers an exuberant, eclectic, and highly entertaining celebration of horror, life, friendship, and many-tentacled, interdimensional demon spawn.

Book Review : In My Dreams I Hold A Knife By Ashley Winstead

Things explode at a college reunion when dark secrets and friendships unravel until the killer of a classmate who never made it to graduation is revealed.

This one had a LOT going on in it. Every time there was another twist I looked to see how much was left in the book and then asked myself, “How’s the author going to keep this going now that we know this?” But she did! Because there were SO many secrets! There’s one line near the beginning of the book that made me sure I knew who the killer was, and while I ended up being right, the author made me second guess myself numerous times. Well done!

From Goodreads:

Six friends.

One college reunion.

One unsolved murder.

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has been invited back to her university for a reunion and she is obsessed with dazzling everyone with her beauty and success. This time when they see her, it has to be perfect because she is perfect. Not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather Shelby’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year.

But there’s more at stake than the delicious envy of her peers—not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. In fact, someone has orchestrated the whole weekend to trap the real killer. As the weekend unfolds and they get closer to the truth, the group finds there was more than murder hidden amongst them on campus.

Told in racing dual timelines, with a dark campus setting and a darker look at friendship, love, obsession and ambition, In My Dreams I Hold a Knife is an addictive, propulsive millennial thriller you won’t be able to put down.

Book Review: Bad Call By Stephen Wallenfels

Four high school seniors lie about going to a school-related activity over the weekend and go camping instead – without telling anyone where they’re really going. When a forest fire alters their course, they find themselves lost in the wilderness with no cell service, dwindling supplies, and a freak snowstorm that they aren’t prepared for. As they struggle to survive, one thing becomes clear – the elements might not be their biggest threat. Four go up the mountain. How many will come down?

This book has mixed reviews, but I really liked it. The characters, the plot, and the situation combine to create a perfect storm. I was expecting more of a kill them all high body count thriller, which might be what the disappointed readers were looking for, too. Instead, the author takes a more realistic approach, focusing on the characters and group dynamic rather than thinking up how many different ways he can kill someone off. I thought it worked well. No complaints here.

From Goodreads:

It was supposed to be epic. During a late-night poker game, tennis teammates Colin, Ceo, Grahame, and Rhody make a pact to go on a camping trip in Yosemite National Park. And poker vows can’t be broken. So the first sign that they should ditch the plan is when Rhody backs out. The next is when Ceo replaces him with Ellie, a girl Grahame and Colin have never even heard of. And then there’s the forest fire at their intended campsite. But instead of bailing, they decide to take the treacherous Snow Creek Falls Trail to the top of Yosemite Valley. From there, the bad decisions really pile up. A freak storm is threatening snow, their Craigslist tent is a piece of junk, and Grahame is pretty sure there’s a bear on the prowl. On top of that, the guys have some serious baggage (and that’s not including the ridiculously heavy ax that Grahame insisted on packing) and Ellie can’t figure out what their deal is. And then one of them doesn’t make it back to the tent. Desperate to survive while piecing together what happened, the remaining hikers must decide who to trust in this riveting, witty, and truly unforgettable psychological thriller that reveals how one small mistake can have chilling consequences.

Book Review: Five Little Pigs By Agatha Christie

After her mother is convicted of killing her father, a young girl is sent to live with relatives in another country. On her 21st birthday, she’s given a letter from her mother that declares her innocence. Someway, somehow, the young woman must find out the truth about what happened all those years ago. Hercule Poirot to the rescue!

I thought I had read almost all of Christie’s books, but when this one showed up in my Kindle daily deals email and it didn’t sound familiar, I decided to scoop it up.

It’s amazing how this book, written in the 1940s, still manages to compare with those written today. Truly the Queen of Mystery, Christie weaves a tangled web of secrets and deceit, giving the reader all the clues they need to figure out who committed the crime while creating enough diversions and plausible scenarios to keep them guessing!

From Goodreads: In Agatha Christie’s classic, Five Little Pigs, beloved detective Hercule Poirot races to solve a case from out of the past.

Beautiful Caroline Crale was convicted of poisoning her husband, but just like the nursery rhyme, there were five other “little pigs” who could have done it: Philip Blake (the stockbroker), who went to market; Meredith Blake (the amateur herbalist), who stayed at home; Elsa Greer (the three-time divorcée), who had her roast beef; Cecilia Williams (the devoted governess), who had none; and Angela Warren (the disfigured sister), who cried all the way home.

Sixteen years later, Caroline’s daughter is determined to prove her mother’s innocence, and Poirot just can’t get that nursery rhyme out of his mind.

ARC Book Review : The Midnight Man By Caroline Mitchell

A horrible crime creates a kind of urban myth legend (think Candyman) decades later, only not everyone who plays the game will survive!

Sometimes you read a book and several pages in you think, “Nope. Not for me.” That’s how I felt when I started this one. I wasn’t connecting with the writing or the characters. I read a little further, but still wasn’t feeling it. But I rarely ever DNR a book, so I took a look at the reviews, and they were good, so I plugged on a little further, and suddenly all the little things that were bothering me fell away and I found myself caught up in a book with a compelling plot that kept me guessing. I’m glad I kept reading! I ended up enjoying this one much more than I anticipated. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

From Goodreads: From number one bestselling author Caroline Mitchell, comes the first chilling Slayton thriller for fans of C. J. Tudor and Stephen King.

If you open your door to the Midnight Man, hide with a candle wherever you can. Try not to scream as he draws near, because one of you won’t be leaving here…

On Halloween night in Slayton, five girls go to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Game. They write their names on a piece of paper and prick their fingers to soak it in blood. At exactly midnight they knock on the door twenty-two times – they have invited the Midnight Man in.

It was supposed to be a game, but only four girls come home.

Detective Sarah Noble has just returned to the force, and no one knows more about Blackhall Manor than her. It’s a case that will take Sarah back to everything she’s been running from, and shake her to the core.

Will she be ready to meet the Midnight Man? 

Book Review : All These Bodies By Kendare Blake

A serial killer’s rampage keeps the nation breathless as they follow the news in 1958 America. For an aspiring young journalist, he expects the papers to be as close as he’ll get to the case from his tiny Midwest nowhere town. Right? Wrong.

I had such high hopes for this one that I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. On the one hand, the plot was compelling, the characters were well developed, the writing kept me drawn in and hooked. On the other, this is the author of “Anna Dressed In Blood.” I expected my emotions to run the full gamut of the spectrum while my toes curled and I debated whether or not I was ready to turn the page. Sigh. It would be unfair not to say this was a good read, because it was, it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be, which is unfair to everyone (book, author, and reader). I enjoyed it. But it’s no Anna.

From Goodreads: Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation. In this edge-of-your-seat mystery from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake, the truth is as hard to believe as it is to find.

Summer 1958. A gruesome killer plagues the Midwest, leaving behind a trail of bodies completely drained of blood.

Michael Jensen, an aspiring journalist whose father happens to be the town sheriff, never imagined that the Bloodless Murders would come to his backyard. Not until the night the Carlson family was found murdered in their home. Marie Catherine Hale, a diminutive fifteen-year-old, was discovered at the scene—covered in blood. She is the sole suspect in custody.
Michael didn’t think that he would be part of the investigation, but he is pulled in 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?

Book Review : The Cabin By Natasha Preston

A group of teenagers goes away for the weekend to party at a cabin. When they wake up after a drunken bender, well, not everyone wakes up.

This is the kind of book that is usually a perfect fit for me, but this one felt like a bad fit from the start. Still, I wanted to see where the author went with it, so I kept reading. Did it keep me reading? Yes. Was I wowed? No.

Teenagers getting killed? Check. Everybody’s a suspect? Check. The MC can’t trust anybody? Check. This has all the parts, and I can’t really put my finger on why, for me, it remained in pieces, so maybe chalk it up to wrong book, wrong time?

From Goodreads:

They think they can do and say whatever they want. They think there are no consequences. They’ve left me no choice. It’s time for them to pay for their sins.

A weekend partying at a remote cabin is just what Mackenzie needs. She can’t wait to let loose with her friends. But a crazy night of fun leaves two of them dead—murdered.

With no signs of a forced entry or struggle, suspicion turns to the five survivors. Someone isn’t telling the truth. And Mackenzie’s first mistake? Assuming the killing is over…

Book Review : Survivor Song By Paul Tremblay

This is one of those books that worms its way under your skin and won’t get out. A fast acting, rabies-like virus is spreading like wildfire. Those who get infected quickly turn, becoming insanely violent a la zombie style. But – like rabies, the virus is spread by saliva, so when an almost to term pregnant woman is bitten, there’s a chance her baby will be fine – if someone can help her deliver in time.

What ensues is a race against the clock filled with terror, suspense, and yes, a bit of gore. Trigger Warning – animals, as the initial carrying vector, do die. Usually that’s enough to get a hard pass from me, but I made it through trauma-free, though I might have lost a few nails by the last page!

This is the second book I’ve read by Tremblay, but it won’t be the last! He’s quickly earning a spot as one of my favorite horror authors, someone who can deliver a varying array of thrills and chills in both an effective and well-written way!

From Goodreads:

A riveting novel of suspense and terror from the Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts.In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds and are driven to bite and infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine and curfew. But society is breaking down and the government’s emergency protocols are faltering.

Dr. Ramola “Rams” Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-thirties, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is eight months pregnant. Natalie’s husband has been killed—viciously attacked by an infected neighbor—and in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie’s only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her and for her unborn child.

Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she and Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares—terrifying, strange, and sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink. 

Paul Tremblay once again demonstrates his mastery in this chilling and all-too-plausible novel that will leave readers racing through the pages . . . and shake them to their core.

Book Review: Craven Manor By Darcy Coates

For down on his luck Daniel, opportunity knocks at the perfect time . . . but will it take him to an imperfect place?

More than just a ghost story, the horror extends beyond the paranormal in this creepy little tale. That said, it’s cozy horror, more atmospheric than scary. You have the old, abandoned house, a set of mysteries as to what happened and who’s behind the MC’s sudden good fortune, and a whole host of the otherworldly to keep you guessing friend from foe. Not my favorite by this author. Good but not great.

From Goodreads:

Daniel is desperate for a job. When someone slides a note under his door offering him the groundskeeper’s position at an old estate, it seems too good to be true.

Alarm bells start ringing when he arrives at Craven Manor. The mansion’s front door hangs open, and leaves and cobwebs coat the marble foyer. It’s clear no one has lived there in a long time.

But an envelope waits for him inside the doorway. It contains money, and promises more.

Daniel is desperate. Against his better judgement, he moves into the groundskeeper’s cottage behind the crypt. He’s determined to ignore the strange occurrences that plague the estate.

But when a candle flickers to life in the abandoned tower window, Daniel realises Craven Manor is hiding a terrible secret… one that threatens to bury him with it. 

Book Review: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

A couple who just recently met decides to move in together so they can continue developing their relationship instead of putting it on pause during the Covid pandemic lockdown. Weeks later, a body is discovered in the apartment they shared.

The premise is certainly intriguing, and the author definitely kept me on the hook with the need to know what the characters’ secrets and motivations were. There was even a nice twist I didn’t see coming. That said, the way the narrative jumped, not just between characters but time, and by this I mean the flashbacks start out sequentially, (56 days, 35 days, etc.), but then starts to bounce around (35 days, 56 days, 12 days, 23 days, etc.), really worked to the story’s detriment. It made it hard to follow and a bit frustrating. I did enjoy it, and would say it’s worth a read because that’s my only complaint, but I would have liked to read the story in a more linear fashion.

From Goodreads:

No one knew they’d moved in together. Now one of them is dead. Could this be the perfect murder?

56 DAYS AGO
Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin the same week Covid-19 reaches Irish shores.

35 DAYS AGO
When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests that Ciara move in with him. She sees a unique opportunity for a new relationship to flourish without the pressure of scrutiny of family and friends. He sees it as an opportunity to hide who – and what – he really is.

TODAY
Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Will they be able to determine what really happened, or has lockdown provided someone with the opportunity to commit the perfect crime?

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