Litani

Thomas & Mercer

US Publication – October 19,2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Description

The Amazon Charts bestselling author of Unspeakable Things and Bloodline explores the darkness at the heart of the rural Midwest in a novel inspired by a chilling true crime.

In the summer of ’84, fourteen-year-old Frankie Jubilee is shuttled off to Litani, Minnesota, to live with her estranged mother, a county prosecutor she barely knows. From the start, Frankie senses something uneasy going on in the small town. The locals whisper about The Game, and her mother warns her to stay out of the woods and away from adults.

When a bullying gang of girls invites Frankie to The Game, she accepts, determined to find out what’s really going on in Litani. She’s not the only one becoming paranoid. Hysteria burns through the community. Dark secrets emerge. And Frankie fears that, even in the bright light of day, she might be living among monsters.

My Thoughts

Ever since I read Unspeakable Things, if I see a new Jess Lourey book, I don’t even read the description to know I want it! She does such a great job putting her fictional spin on true life events. Litani is no exception as I kept looking over my shoulder because of all the strange, creepy, and downright evil things that happen in this town.

Frankie hasn’t been back to her mother’s house in Litani since she was seven years old. She lives with her father in California, and let me just say that something her mother did made Frankie never want to return, and I didn’t blame her. But life doesn’t always play fair. She is fourteen years old when her father suddenly dies and she is sent to live with her mother.

If you are thinking this will be a heartwarming mother and daughter reunion, think again. Her mother is so devoted to her job that she doesn’t even notice Frankie’s all-consuming grief. When her mother shoos her out the door and tells her to go play, I was like ‘what’, this woman doesn’t have to worry about where to put her Mother of the Year trophy. Frankie runs into some younger girls who seem to know way too much about sex and something called The Game.

As Frankie learns more about this town and the monsters who live here, she may have more to fear than having to live here, dying here might well be a possibility. My eyes were glued to my Kindle screen as all sorts of secrets were revealed. Another intriguing plot and a real page-turner, but this might not be the book for everyone as child abuse plays a large part in the story. 3.5 stars.

I received a DRC from Thomas & Mercer through NetGalley.

This Thing Between Us

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, MCD x FSG Originals

US Publication – October 12,2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

Description

“As original as it is affecting . . . left me genuinely creeped out, unsettled, and shaken. An existentially frightening book.”
—Paul Tremblay, author of Survivor Song

“Hold on, this isn’t a ride, it’s a slide, and it doesn’t care whether you’re ready or not.”
—Stephen Graham Jones, author of The Only Good Indians

A widower battles his grief, rage, and the mysterious evil inhabiting his home smart speaker, in this mesmerizing horror thriller from Gus Moreno.

It was Vera’s idea to buy the Itza. The “world’s most advanced smart speaker!” didn’t interest Thiago, but Vera thought it would be a bit of fun for them amidst all the strange occurrences happening in the condo. It made things worse. The cold spots and scratching in the walls were weird enough, but peculiar packages started showing up at the house—who ordered industrial lye? Then there was the eerie music at odd hours, Thiago waking up to Itza projecting light shows in an empty room.

It was funny and strange right up until Vera was killed, and Thiago’s world became unbearable. Pundits and politicians all looking to turn his wife’s death into a symbol for their own agendas. A barrage of texts from her well-meaning friends about letting go and moving on. Waking to the sound of Itza talking softly to someone in the living room . . .

The only thing left to do was get far away from Chicago. Away from everything and everyone. A secluded cabin in Colorado seemed like the perfect place to hole up with his crushing grief. But soon Thiago realizes there is no escape—not from his guilt, not from his simmering rage, and not from the evil hunting him, feeding on his grief, determined to make its way into this world.

A bold, original horror novel about grief, loneliness and the oppressive intimacy of technology, This Thing Between Us marks the arrival of a spectacular new talent.

My Thoughts

Thiago is consumed with grief. One alarm that failed to go off meant that his wife Vera left late for work. That one small change in her routine put her in the wrong place at the wrong time. After her death, her friends and family try to be there for Thiago, but none of them understand the depth of his loss.

He decides to sell their condo, now the home of too many painful memories. After all, they both were bothered by random unexplained noises and cold spots, and why didn’t their high technology speaker, Itza, actually wake them with their preset alarm? Was it an accident or is there something sinister lurking behind their condo walls?

He leaves Chicago for Colorado, driving over Itza before he goes. But he has barely settled in when it appears that something has followed him west, something dark and disturbing. He may no longer be able to decide how he will spend the rest of his life. The question is how many other people will suffer as he falls down the rabbit hole with only despair and evil for company.

As a reader, I think what I took from this story might be very different than someone else. Is the horror real or just in Thiago’s mind? I don’t think there will be any disagreement about how unsettling this entire story made me feel. I couldn’t put it down and thought about it for days. To me, that is a very good book.

I received a DRC from Farrar, Straus and Giroux through NetGalley.

The Mother Next Door

Harlequin – Trade Publishing – Graydon House

US Publication – October 12,2021

🎃🎃🎃🎃

GOOD MOTHERS…
Never show their feelings.
Never spill their secrets.
Never admit to murder.

The annual Halloween block party is the pinnacle of the year on idyllic suburban cul-de-sac Ivy Woods Drive. An influential group of neighborhood moms—known as the Ivy Five—plans the event for months.

Except the Ivy Five has been four for a long time.

When a new mother moves to town, eager to fit in, the moms see it as an opportunity to make the group whole again. This year’s block party should be the best yet… until the women start receiving anonymous messages threatening to expose the quiet neighborhood’s dark past—and the lengths they’ve gone to hide it.

As secrets seep out and the threats intensify, the Ivy Five must sort the loyal from the disloyal, the good from the bad. They’ll do anything to protect their families. But when a twisted plot is revealed, with dangerous consequences, their steady foundation begins to crumble, leaving only one certainty: after this year’s block party, Ivy Woods Drive will never be the same.

My Thoughts

You may have an address on Ivy Woods Drive, but you haven’t really arrived until the Ivy Five give you their seal of approval. Who are they? Just four moms who have their fingers in everything that happens in this exclusive neighborhood. Envied by some and loathed by others, one thing they are not is ignored. But wait, didn’t I say they were the Ivy Five? So why are there only four members? We will find out what happened to the fifth member when they invite Theresa into their group.

Theresa, her husband Adam, and her daughter Lily have just moved to the neighborhood. Adam is the new high school principal, and Theresa, well she has always dreamed of living and belonging in a place like this. She is pleasantly surprised when she is deemed worthy and is asked to join the group. The main event on the agenda, the spectacular Halloween party that the Ivy Five host every year.

The chapters count down the days to the big event, and you just know that there will be more than trick or treating happening. Not only does Theresa have more than one big secret, but I would not have thought she needed to borrow any decorations for her house. Her closets were overflowing with skeletons! She isn’t alone though, the other women have been keeping a huge secret too!

There were a ton of twists, turns, red herrings, and reveals as we reached the big day. Once all the puzzle pieces came together, everything and nothing made sense. I mean that in the best possible way as I was constantly yelling what at all of these characters. There is something about a book with a very descriptive fall setting that appeals to me when it is hot and humid outside. These women were more than a little over the top, but their shenanigans made this an enjoyable read.

I received a DRC from Harlequin – Trade Publishing – Graydon House.

Excerpt

HALLOWEEN

Ladies and gentlemen, skulls and boys: by the time our Halloween block party is over tonight, one of us will be dead.

And I don’t mean dead as in dull, or dead as in zombified. I mean dead as in gone. Dead as in expired. Killed.

Murdered.

You may be feeling distressed about this, knowing what you know about Ivy Woods—the great neighborhood it is, the sweet, loving families that live there. How could such a tragedy happen in such a wonderful place? You may have traveled here yourself, as a child or as a parent, lured in by the local fame of the street and its ghoulish decorations each year. The lights, the smoke, the gravestones, and the moaning. The witches, cackling and handing out candy. The swarms of little Frankensteins and cowboys and robots and ballet dancers lugging their pillowcases and plastic pumpkin buckets filled with sugar and junk.

But Ivy Woods isn’t perfect.

Far from it.

Look closer. Look under the makeup and the masks, look into the windows of the perfect houses. Dig under the surface of those freshly mowed lawns and you’ll find the worms. I’ve looked—believe me, I’ve looked. There’s something about this street. There are secrets. I know from watching through the windows, from hearing the hushed conversations, from lingering on their faces when they think everyone else has looked away.

Oh they think they are perfect. They pat themselves on the back for throwing such good parties, for raising such fine children, for living in such big houses.

But they are pretending.

They don masks on this one single night to dress up as someone or something else, but in reality they live their lives this way.

We all do.

We hate ourselves. We are too fat, or too thin. We should work hard, be smarter. We are lonely and depressed. We are worried about money. We are ashamed of the way that our friends and family treat us. But we lie about it all. We hide behind a protective façade, fragile glass figurines inside elaborate dollhouses designed to look like perfect, safe, happy places.

Tonight it will all shatter.

Watch closely and you’ll begin to see what I see. There’s trouble in the air, a cold wind blowing in from far away, and it’s settled on Ivy Woods Drive. The secrets and the lies we tell ourselves and others will emerge tonight like spirits of the dead. Lines will be drawn. Sides will be taken. Someone won’t make it out alive.

I can’t save that person, but I’ll tell the story. Turn over the rocks, expose the worms. Pull back the masks.

Because I know their secrets, secrets that will destroy them all.

If they don’t destroy themselves first.

Excerpted from The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski, Copyright © 2021 by Tara Laskowski. Published by Graydon House Books.

The Mother Next Door : A Novel of Suspense 

Tara Laskowski

On Sale Date: October 12, 2021

9781525804700

Trade Paperback

Graydon House

$16.99 USD

352 pages

ABOUT THE BOOK

For fans of Lisa Jewell, Aimee Molloy, and Joshilyn Jackson, an upmarket suspense novel from a multi-award-winning author about a tightknit group of suburban mothers who invite a new neighborhood mom into their fold, and the fallout the night of the annual block party, when secrets from the past come back to haunt them…

The annual block party is the pinnacle of the year on idyllic suburban cul de sac Ivy Woods Drive. An influential group of neighborhood moms—known as the Ivy Five—plan the event for months.

Except the Ivy Five have been four for a long time.

When a new mother moves to town, eager to fit in, the moms see it as an opportunity to make the group whole again. This year’s block party should be the best yet… until the women start receiving anonymous messages threatening to expose the quiet neighborhood’s dark past—and the lengths they’ve gone to hide it.

As secrets seep out and the threats intensify, the Ivy Five must sort the loyal from the disloyal, the good from the bad. They’ll do anything to protect their families. But when a twisted plot is revealed, with dangerous consequences, their steady foundation begins to crumble, leaving only one certainty: after this year’s block party, Ivy Woods Drive will never be the same.

From award-winning author Tara Laskowski, The Mother Next Door is an atmospheric novel of domestic suspense in which the strive for perfection ends in murder…

AUTHOR BIO

TARA LASKOWSKI is the author of One Night Gone, which won an Agatha Award, Macavity Award, and Anthony Award, and was a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, Left Coast Crime Award, Strand Critics’ Award, and Library of Virginia Literary Award. She is also the author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, has published stories in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Mid-American Review, among others, and is the former editor of SmokeLong Quarterly. Tara earned a BA in English from Susquehanna University and an MFA from George Mason University and currently lives in Virginia. Find her on Twitter and Instagram, @TaraLWrites.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://taralaskowski.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tara.laskowski.9

Twitter: @TaraLWrites

Instagram: @taralwrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56555529-the-mother-next-door

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/the-mother-next-door-a-novel-of-suspense/9781525804700

Politics & Prose: https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781525804700

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mother-next-door-tara-laskowski/1138551311?ean=9781488078125&st=AFF&2sid=HarperCollins%20Publishers%20LLC_7651142_NA&sourceId=AFFHarperCollins%20Publishers%20LLC

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mother-Next-Door-Novel-Suspense/dp/1525804707/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Target: https://www.target.com/p/the-mother-next-door-by-tara-laskowski-paperback/-/A-82219724

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-mother-next-door/id1547075567?id=1547075567&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

One More Page: https://www.onemorepagebooks.com/book/9781525804700

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-mother-next-door

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781525804700?aff=PublishersWeekly

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/The_Mother_Next_Door_A_Novel_of_Suspense?id=baYREAAAQBAJ&hl=en_US&gl=US

The Weekend Escape

HarperCollins UK, One More Chapter

US Publication – October 8,2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Description

A deserted island, a vicious storm, a murderer amongst friends…

It was meant to be a fun reunion, a chance for six friends to reconnect and relive the adventures that brought them together in the first place. But from the moment they arrive on their island home for the weekend, Lyndsey, Sonia, Bobbie, Amanda, Juliet, and Val realise that their paradise is filled with peril, and there are consequences when you try to outrun the ghosts of your past.

As everything starts to fall apart, and the friends begin to turn against one another, deep, dark secrets are revealed, and an unimaginable horror is unleashed. They came seeking adventure, but now they’ll be lucky to leave with their lives…

My Thoughts

Six friends from high school plan a weekend adventure after drifting apart over the years. Their destination, Shell Island, just a few miles away from the English coast. Before they even head to their lodge, they rappel down a lighthouse. But when the rope breaks, one of them is seriously injured, and they soon find out what it means to be isolated. With no cell reception, a brewing storm, and the only inhabitant, the caretaker, Marne missing, they are truly trapped.

When more accidents occur, they have no one to rely on but each other. Marne returned, but her radio is broken, and they can only wait for the boat to return. Time isn’t the only thing that has separated these friends. The seventh member of their group died under tragic circumstances, and one of them might be seeing the others through vengeful eyes.

The story is told from Lyndsey’s perspective and as details of her life emerge, it was hard to know if she was an unreliable narrator or just someone whose life hadn’t really worked out well. Are there just the six of them and Marne or is someone else on the island?

A brutal storm, a decrepit bunkhouse, very little heat or electricity lead to accusations and possibly murder. It is so hard not to reveal any spoilers, but I will say that while I guessed the whodunnit, the ending was jaw-dropping.

I received a DRC from Harper Collins UK,One More Chapter through NetGalley.

The Dollhouse

US Publication – June 1,2021

⭐⭐⭐.5

Description

Alfred needs Dolls. Blonde, blue-eyed human dolls that will help him rewrite his past and change his future.

When Peter Baden’s daughter Olivia was abducted nearly a year ago, he left his career as a respected journalist to find her. Now he spends his days searching for Olivia, and helping other families of abducted children survive the emotionally and physically exhausting experience of finding a missing child.

Twins Angel and Bud are used to making do. Their dad is in prison, and mom won’t win parenting awards. Bud thrives on neglect, but Angel isn’t so strong.

Now they’re captives in a place called the Dollhouse, and things have gone from bad to worse. The Dolls are forced to re-stage old photographs, but satisfying Alfred is not easy. He has a twisted sense of humor and a violent temper that explodes when things don’t go his way — and sometimes when they do.

Angel knows that if she and the other Dolls are to survive this warped playtime, she can no longer be needy and afraid. She must prove how strong she can be — fast.

There aren’t many photos left ..

My Thoughts

When Shine leaves her twins, Bud and Angel alone for the weekend, she has no idea they will disappear while she is gone. Tied up, scared, and drugged, they wake up with no idea where they are, or what their kidnapper, Jennifer wants. She tells them they are in the Dollhouse, and soon they meet another doll, Olivia.

At first, they do normal sort of things, like schoolwork, watching movies, and eating dinner together. While Jennifer is rigid, she is somehow also pleasant, but the other adult in the house, Alfred is another story. He has plans for his dolls and thinks nothing of inflicting horrific abuse on them when things don’t go his way.

A twisted and dark thriller that had me cringing more than once. Olivia’s father, Peter, has not given up looking for her and all I could think was please hurry up before time runs out. Everything is wrapped up in the end, but I did learn that there will be a sequel. If any of these things are triggers, this might not be the book for you. But if not, you’ll have to read The Dollhouse to find out which characters make it to the next book. 3.5 stars.

I received a DRC from Sara Ennis through NetGalley.

The Violent Season

US Publication – October 5,2021

Sourcebooks Fire

😱😱😱😱

Description

There is something terribly wrong in Wolf Ridge. Every November, every teen is overwhelmed with a hunger for violence…at least, that’s the urban legend.

After Wyatt Green’s mother was brutally murdered last Fall, she’s convinced that the November sickness plaguing Wolf Ridge isn’t just a town rumor that everyone ignores…it’s a palpable force infecting her neighbors. Wyatt is going to prove it, and find her mother’s murderer in the process. She digs up every past brutal act she can find from Wolf Ridge’s past – from car wrecks, suicides, and unnamed victims turning up in rivers—and even reaches out to an out-of-state journalist that seems to believe her. But all of her digging leads to nowhere. Everyone in Wolf Ridge accepts that the November sickness is real, and absolutely no one will talk about it.

As Wyatt’s best friend Cash turns on her, and her friend is almost killed in a tragic accident, Wyatt panics – how can she keep her friends safe, and find her mother’s murderer, when no one believes her?

As the evidence stars to disappear, Wyatt wonders: is she just imagining everything? Is the sickness real, or are the people of Wolf Ridge just naturally prone to doing bad things?

Can Wyatt and her friends come out of the Violent Season unscathed, or is one of them going to be the next victim?

My Thoughts

Wyatt Green knows firsthand that evil lives in her hometown, Wolf Ridge. In November, murderous impulses rise to the surface, and her mother was the most recent victim. It isn’t some random outsider who wandered into town, it is someone who lives here, someone Wyatt knows, and she is going to find out who is the wolf hiding in sheep’s clothing.

Wyatt only has one person she trusts with her whole heart, Cash. She has been obsessed/in love with him since they were children on the playground. Even if he manages to isolate her, even if he will never love her, even if Wolf Ridge’s sickness is now hiding behind his eyes, Wyatt cannot stay away from him. When a school assignment partners her with Porter, Cash’s nemesis, it seems nothing good can come from this triangle. And it shouldn’t, but Wyatt experiences a different kind of relationship with Porter, one where the sickness doesn’t totally envelop her anymore.

When the truth about her mother’s death comes out, Wyatt will have to face reality without the blinders that Cash provided. The mystery surrounding this town sucked me in and even when I started to look twice at certain people, I was not prepared for the jaw-dropping conclusion.

Even though this is marketed as YA and the main characters are teenagers, this is one dark and disturbing book. Be prepared if violence, murder, or suicide are triggers for you, but for me, I could not look away and sat quietly stunned after I finished the last page. I was looking over my shoulder the entire time I was reading. I was more horrified when the author revealed the true nature of the sickness.

I received a DRC from Sourcebooks Fire through NetGalley.

Five Strangers

Scarlet

US Publication – October 5,2021

**** According to Amazon, this will not publish until October 19th.****

⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

Description

Five strangers witness a brutal murder in broad daylight — but can they truly believe what they saw?

With its grassy hills and breathtaking city views, London’s Hampstead Heath is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with friends and loved ones—and on an unseasonably warm Valentine’s Day, the lawns are especially full. So when an aggressive lovers’ quarrel breaks out, there’s an audience of park goers nearby to hear the shouts traded back and forth, and to watch as the violence escalates suddenly to murder, then suicide.

For the five strangers who observed the gruesome act, the memory of the gore is unshakable. But one of them—disgraced journalist Jen Hunter—is compelled to question the truth of what she thought she saw. Are the facts of the case plain as day, or were they obscured, in the moment, by the glaring sunlight?

As she mounts an obsessive investigation for a seemingly-impossible alternative, the lives of the other witnesses begin to unravel, each in its own particular way. Soon one thing becomes clear: the crime they witnessed was more terrible, more twisted, and more far-reaching than they ever could have imagined.

About the Author: 

E. V. Adamson is a pseudonym of award-winning journalist and author Andrew Wilson. He is the author of four acclaimed biographies, including one on Patricia Highsmith, and four Agatha Christie novels, which feature the Queen of Crime as a series sleuth.

My Thoughts

I was not at all prepared for how much I would enjoy Five Strangers!

It is a gorgeous February day Valentine’s Day and Jen Hunter is waiting for her friend Bex at Hampstead Heath. A day for love turns tragic with no warning as a man murders the woman he was with and then commits suicide. For the five witnesses, it is something that will affect each of their lives and something that none of them will ever forget.

Jen had lost her job and her boyfriend, and even if she was not already having an awful day, this tragedy will have unimaginable repercussions for her. She receives a message asking her if she is certain about what happened at the park. At first, convinced this is someone’s idea of a cruel joke, events soon lead her on a journey to find the truth. Is it possible that the five of them have somehow been deceived?

Her investigation uncovers many secrets but as she digs deeper, she slowly fears that she is either losing her grip on reality or that someone once very close to her wants her dead. The more I learned about Jen, the more I questioned whether or not she was an unreliable narrator or if something more sinister was occurring. Told from Jen and Bex’s POVs, I found out how far someone would go to fulfill their sick agenda as I flew through the pages.

You know how you can love a book but also dislike writing a review because you don’t want to give anything away. Yep, this is that book. All I will say is that this story took off in a way I never expected. 4.5 stars.

I received a DRC from Scarlet through NetGalley.

y.

Nanny Needed

Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine – Bantam

US Publication – October 5, 2021

🌟🌟🌟🌟

Description

A young woman takes a job as a nanny for an impossibly wealthy family, thinking she’s found her entrée into a better life—only to discover instead she’s walked into a world of deception and dark secrets.

Nanny needed. Discretion is of the utmost importance. Special conditions apply.

When Sarah Larsen finds the notice, posted on creamy card stock in her building’s lobby, one glance at the exclusive address tells her she’s found her ticket out of a dead-end job—and life.

At the interview, the job seems like a dream come true: a glamorous penthouse apartment on the Upper West Side of NYC; a salary that adds several zeroes to her current income; the beautiful, worldly mother of her charge, who feels more like a friend than a potential boss. She’s overjoyed when they offer her the position and signs the NDA without a second thought.

In retrospect, the notice in her lobby was less an engraved invitation than a waving red flag. For there is something very strange about the Bird family. Why does the beautiful Mrs. Bird never leave the apartment alone? And what happened to the nanny before her? It soon becomes clear that the Birds’ odd behaviors are more than the eccentricities of the wealthy.

But by then it’s too late for Sarah to seek help. After all, discretion is of the utmost importance.

My Thoughts

Sarah is drowning in debt. Working at the same restaurant as her fiancé Jonathan, they are barely surviving. When she sees an advertisement for a nanny, it seems like this job might help her pay off her bills and start planning the future. The fact that she has zero experience doesn’t phase her one bit, after all, how hard could it be to take care of a child? She interviews for the job with the very wealthy Bird family.

An extremely generous salary, set hours that won’t interfere with her waitress job, a loving and devoted mother, and just one little girl to watch. Her lack of skills doesn’t seem to bother the family and they offer her the job. The only catch is an NDA she must sign. She doesn’t hesitate, nor does she bother to read the fine print, or get a copy. Do you hear warning bells? No, just me, cause Sarah missed them too!

Sarah discovers a devastating and dark secret almost immediately, and her impulse is to run and never look back. But her contract won’t be easy to break, and if she does, all her plans for the future will be lost. She can’t tell Jonathan or anyone else the truth, and she soon realizes she is in way over her head.

Holy crazy crackers! The Bird family and their secrets had me furiously flipping pages. They say money can buy anything, but it cannot buy good sense or rational behavior. As Sarah becomes more involved, she may not live to pay off those debts. The ending required some suspension of belief, but I have no problem with that since it was a fiction book. A well-played hand by the author and enough tension to have me holding my breath more than once.

I received a DRC from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine through NetGalley.

A Spindle Splintered

Tordotcom

US Publication – October 5,2021

🌟🌟🌟🌟

Description

USA Today bestselling author Alix E. Harrow’s A Spindle Splintered brings her patented charm to a new version of a classic story. Featuring Arthur Rackham’s original illustrations for The Sleeping Beauty, fractured and reimagined.

“A vivid, subversive and feminist reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, where implacable destiny is no match for courage, sisterhood, stubbornness and a good working knowledge of fairy tales.” —Katherine Arden

It’s Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it’s the last birthday she’ll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no-one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia’s last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.

My Thoughts

A reimagining of Sleeping Beauty! Yes, please!

It is Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday and probably her last. She suffers from a rare condition that no one has survived past this age. Her friend Charm has arranged a Sleeping Beauty-themed party in the tower of an abandoned penitentiary. When Zinnia pricks her finger on a spinning wheel, she wakes up in a different when. She meets Primrose, a princess destined to marry a prince she doesn’t love. They both find a way to take back control of their lives, and I loved these two characters.

It is a short book(128 pages) but we do meet other princesses who are all suffering. These were all unique characters, and I thought the author’s dedication was perfect,” for everyone who deserves a better story than the one they have”.

For such a short book, it covered a lot of topics and well. Diversity, male power and privilege, friendship, empowerment, and hope.

I received a DRC from Tordotcom through NetGalley.

The Santa Suit

St.Martin’s Press,

US Publication – September 28,2021

🎅🎅🎅🎅

Description

From Mary Kay Andrews, the New York Times bestselling author of Hello, Summer, comes a novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances in The Santa Suit.

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love—but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it.

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit—beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.

My Thoughts

Ivy has left her old life behind. She is recently divorced and decides it is time to move from Atlanta to a small North Carolina town. She buys a farmhouse based solely on the real estate pictures, just because she has a feeling that this will be the right place for her. When she arrives, the house is less and more than she imagined. It needs some repairs and it is still full of the prior owners’ furniture, clothes, and mementos. She does meet some kind-hearted neighbors, including Ezra, her real estate agent, and he is not the older gentleman she pictured.

When Ivy finds a letter in a Santa suit that belonged to the last owner, she finds a mystery and more than a little bit of Christmas magic. Her house, The Four Roses was affectionately known as the Christmas House, and even though everyone expects her to take over the tradition, Ivy just isn’t interested. Fate seems to have other ideas though and soon it seems like everything that went wrong in her old life brought her to this place.

A quick read (224 pages) full of all the feels. The characters were endearing and there might just be more than one happily ever after ending this year. It’s the kind of community that just feels like home.

I received a DRC from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.