WATCH OVER ME by Nina LaCour

Mila is used to being alone. Maybe that’s why she said yes to the opportunity: living in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.

But she hadn’t known about the ghosts.

Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a job and a place to stay at a farm on an isolated part of the Northern California Coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home, a real home. The farm is a refuge, but also haunted by the past traumas its young residents have come to escape. And Mila’s own terrible memories are starting to rise to the surface.



Title : Watch Over Me
Author : Nina LaCour
Format : hardback
Page Count : 272
Genre : contemporary / mystery / magical realism
Publisher : Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 15, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 



Hollis’ 3 star review

Right off the bat, I have to say : if you’re longing to fill a hole left by The Haunting of Bly Manor, I think you should absolutely pick this book up.

This story is less about jump scares and actual ghosts, though, and is more about being haunted by your own past, your own memories, and the grief we all carry around that follows us throughout our lives. It might actually be the perfect kind of fall/spooky read for those who really can’t handle big spooks, scares, or horror. This is more melancholy than anything else.

I feel the length of the read, which was short, both worked for it and against it. You want to know so much more, want some clarity (or at least I did..), and yet I wonder if more explanation, more time, would’ve ruined some of the magic of it all. It’s obviously hard to say.

This is not a new favourite read, though it is my first by this author and definitely won’t be my last, but it did satisfy that craving for more Bly Manor as well as leave me feeling a whole bunch of things. I don’t know if I can quite parse all said feelings but I felt them anyway.

If you want something haunting and heartbreaking, lovely and lonely, strange and sad, with a found family dynamic for those who have been cast adrift, look no further.

THE SILENT WIFE by Karin Slaughter

Investigating the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a state penitentiary, GBI investigator Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information. One of the inmates claims that he is innocent of a brutal attack for which he has always been the prime suspect. The man insists that he was framed by a corrupt law enforcement team led by Jeffrey Tolliver and that the real culprit is still out there—a serial killer who has systematically been preying on women across the state for years. If Will reopens the investigation and implicates the dead police officer with a hero’s reputation of wrongdoing, the opportunistic convict is willing to provide the information GBI needs about the riot murder.

Only days ago, another young woman was viciously murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it a fluke, or could there be a serial killer on the loose?

As Will Trent digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the cold case in order to find the answer. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear, and lies to become truth. But Will can’t crack either mystery without the help of the one person he doesn’t want involved: his girlfriend and Jeffrey Tolliver’s widow, medical examiner Sara Linton.

When the past and present begin to collide, Will realizes that everything he values is at stake . . . 


Title : The Silent Wife
Author : Karin Slaughter
Series : Will Trent (book ten)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 498
Genre : thriller/mystery
Publisher : William Morrow
Release Date : August 4, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

I’m actually pretty tempted to round up on this one. This book consumed me. It’s almost five hundred pages and yet I flew through it, hardly able to tear myself away, and when it ended I could’ve read two hundred more pages. It was that good.

But it’s also.. not good. As usual Slaughter does not hold back and this particular case, which requires some time jumping, was dark and brutal. There are some horrible things to navigate but thankfully nothing on-page, however we do have to live through the breakdown of events through the investigation of the case. If you’ve read this far into this series, however, you’ll know what’s to come. And for those who haven’t? Why are you even here, this is book ten! In a series that spins off another. Go back and start with Grant County, please. You can thank me later.

And speaking of said series.. Slaughter gave us such a gift. The way she ended her first series was devastating. And I think in some ways we’ve all come to romanticize certain things — though I obviously can’t speak for everyone. What the author did in The Silent Wife? Makes all of us (sorry, again, maybe just me) want to go back and do some serious ass kicking. This author always knows how it push my buttons and it’s not just in the horror sense. She writes these characters that make you want to reach through the page and bitchslap them. And we got three of them in this one. Familiar faces one and all and ugh. Visceral reactions, I had them. Five stars for making me feel almost unrivaled hate and disgust and disappointment. Thanks for that.

As for the mystery itself, I actually guessed this one! Ten points to me. I don’t think the foreshadowing was actually that obvious but like. I kept noticing something. It could easily have been a red herring but my gut wouldn’t let go of it. I couldn’t have rationalized it or pointed out anything to back it up. And yet. So, yeah, I’m proud. But wow what a mindfuck for.. well, one of our characters. I’m not spoiling.

On the relationship front (also, please, read the author’s note at the end, I loved it and Slaughter made me laugh at her comment regarding romance), we had some serious ups and downs to navigate. As one would expect. The author is dragging this out but now.. oh now. This was a great foil, a perfect tipping point, and getting the side by side of memory vs present, now and then, well. Obviously I have a favourite. Obviously I love these two. But I love all the characters, too. Our supporting favourites were in their element and everything just worked. Brilliant.

I’m so happy there is still more to come in this world. Thank you, Slaughter, for confirming that. Is it too soon to be asking for it.. now?

THE INHERITANCE GAMES by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

A Cinderella story with deadly stakes and thrilling twists, perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying and Knives Out.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. 

Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.


Title : The Inheritance Games
Author : Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series : The Inheritance Games (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 322
Genre : YA contemporary / mystery
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

If you’ve read a book by this author before, you will absolutely feel at home picking this one up. Barnes has a style that feels very familiar even if her plots vary. At first, though, I’ll admit this gave me a bit more than just a familiar vibe with the ‘girl uprooted and thrown into wealthy family dynamic’ concept which we saw in both the the Fixer and the Debutantes series but shortly after the introduction of said trope it this diverges into it’s own story, just like the other books did. Plus, I mean, that does seem to be Barnes’ preferred way of kicking things off. It’s definitely on brand. And that’s not a complaint.

I am currently looking at a picture of Jameson Hawthorne. Gotta say. He’s faxable.
Max!
I’m just saying, he looks like he knows his way around a fax machine. He’s probably really great at dialing the numbers. I bet he’s even faxed long distance.”
I have no idea what you’re even talking about anymore.”

This read completely sucked me in for the span of an afternoon and that’s another thing readers familiar with this author know to expect. Not only does she plot out a tense thriller but her books are compulsively readable and often a lot of fun even when the stakes are high. She also loves to torment her protagonists by bouncing them off a variety of personas and we definitely had those, too. I definitely felt this particular group was appropriate not only for the circumstances but also as a result of their upbringing but I’ll admit I wasn’t quite won over by them. I think it felt like they were trying too hard to lean into their archetype and I never quite bought it. I liked those more on the periphery, connected to the family but not the actual players, like the main lawyer liason and the bodyguard (and maybe because those two were often in the same scenes? hard to know!), but overall this might’ve been my least favourite ensemble from this author; at least from the last few releases. But the excitement of the thrills, the mystery, the games? I was hooked.

[it’s] not a figment of Thea’s delightfully vindictive imagination.”
Xander.”
I said she was delightfully vindictive.
If I were a boy, people would just call me driven.
Thea.”
Right. No feminism at the dinner table.”

Barnes does mix things up with the romance, however. She’s known for little to almost no romance in many of her stories and this one.. well, there’s an element. I’ve never minded the lack of it because I’ve always found Barnes’ stories to be strong enough to not need that as a distraction but I was totally open for seeing where things might go. And sadly I think this might’ve been a case akin to going from abstaining to.. overdoing it. Not in content but in abstract. I don’t what to spoil to how or why but it’s not my favourite trope and because of not really being sold on the characters themselves, either..? It didn’t help matters. But I’m open to seeing where this goes because of course I’m excited for a follow up and to see what is in store for these characters after certain final-chapter reveals. Because you know this isn’t the end of the secrets or the game.

I knew better than to put any confidence in the assurances of good-looking guys.

This twisty story definitely keeps you guessing, almost right up to the end, and the sheer craftiness of the method of the unveiling is unreal. But the message at the heart of it? You won’t expect it.

I will forever mourn the unfinished Fixer series but as long as Barnes keeps setting new books out in the world? I’ll be happy.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

NONE SHALL SLEEP by Ellie Marney

The Silence of the Lambs meets Sadie in this riveting psychological thriller about two teenagers teaming up with the FBI to track down juvenile serial killers.

In 1982, two teenagers—serial killer survivor Emma Lewis and US Marshal candidate Travis Bell—are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers and provide insight and advice on cold cases. From the start, Emma and Travis develop a quick friendship, gaining information from juvenile murderers that even the FBI can’t crack. But when the team is called in to give advice on an active case—a serial killer who exclusively hunts teenagers—things begin to unravel. Working against the clock, they must turn to one of the country’s most notorious incarcerated murderers for help: teenage sociopath Simon Gutmunsson. Despite Travis’s objections, Emma becomes the conduit between Simon and the FBI team. But while Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he’s an expert manipulator playing a very long game…and he has his sights set on Emma.


Title : None Shall Sleep
Author : Ellie Marney
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA historical fiction/thriller
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I think I would’ve enjoyed this a lot more if the tone, or writing style, had been a little different. Because the way this thriller unfolded, the chase, the crimes and the why, the whole set-up of using teens to hunt those who hunt and kill teens, is all fascinating. The fact that the backstories of these these junior investigators (not highschool age, this is a bit more realistic than that) were so traumatic, in very different ways, and how they battled those demons to do this work.. it was great.

Equally great was sidestepping much of what the female protagonist had gone through. We get hints, terrible hints, but nothing is explicitly explained and instead Marney lets us use our imagination — the scariest thing she could’ve done. It also, in a way, feels protective. Conversely, though, the author also leans into that when it comes to another character and that tease, as opposed to hitting us with every terrible thing, carries so much more weight.. but for a different purpose.

However. I felt quite removed from.. a lot of this. Maybe that was purposeful because there are pretty gruesome, not to mention traumatic, moments but Marney didn’t linger over them, didn’t sensationalize them, as they were already impactful. And yet still.. there were maybe only two highly charged moments that I truly felt, was truly moved by, and that just wasn’t quite enough.

I’m also left very curious as to how things wrapped. Is this the beginning of a series, maybe? Could there be more? I would absolutely read on. Maybe being familiar with the style would make a follow up book more enjoyable. I don’t know. But these two characters have me so curious as to where they would go next. Plus I liked how effortless it was to be thrown into the eighties without a thousand blinking neon signs reminding us of that fact at every turn. It was nice to leave the current timeline and skate back to something different. Even if it wasn’t sunshine and rainbows.

If you’re looking for thrills and chills during this spooky season, I would totally give this a try!

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

GROWN by Tiffany D. Jackson

Korey Fields is dead.

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?

All signs point to Enchanted.


Title : Grown
Author : Tiffany D. Jackson
Format : ARC
Page Count : 380
Genre : YA contemporary/mystery
Publisher : Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date : September 15, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

This book is a hard one to rate for me for a few reasons. One being this just feels.. too real. It’s fiction, yes, and the author stresses in her foreword that this is not about R. Kelly.. but we’re all drawing those paralells anyway. And a result it toes that line between fiction and reality a little too closely for me to feel 100% comfortable rating it. But I will.

This book was brutal at times but also very strong. You watch as Enchanted is awed by the attention and praise of a super star. Is won over by his charm. How harmless innocent texting eventually changes tone. How opportunity becomes a cage. The manipulations, the abuse, the gaslighting, the isolation.. it’s hard. It’s tough.

We open up on the aftermath of all this, not knowing quite what has happened to get us there, when Enchanted wakes up to find her abuser, the superstar, is dead. I expected a bit of a whoddunnit, the uncertainty, because if you’ve read a Jackson before you know things can be twisty and fluid. But then things took an even stranger turn and that’s where I feel this lost some of its impact. I think there were too many elements being juggled — murder mystery, the grooming and abuse of power, and straight up abuse, the.. other element, I don’t quite want to mention for fear of spoilers, mental health, and then also the very relevant, and worthy, social commentary regarding why women don’t come forward; but more specifically why Black women are treated differently than white women when they do. It’s a lot. So much of it is important. But I think tackling so much affected some pacing, affected some character development (I wish Enchanted had felt more solid prior to everything that happened to her), and even though I was riding some of the highs (and I don’t mean in a good way but in the sense I couldn’t look away) and the lows (I teared up bad at one scene), and I hated everything that was going on, so was clearly affected on a visceral level, I just feel a half-step out of sync with the whole experience as things came to a head.

What I didn’t expect from this book, but which did give this a very well-rounded feeling, were some sorta mixed media elements and snippets that really felt perfect for the way the events of this book unfolded. I don’t quite want to spoil what these elements are or look like but I liked them.

I definitely think if you can handle the subject matter (please look for trigger warnings, many lovely reviewers on GR have listed them in their reviews; but also you can see them for yourself in the beginning of the book itself), you should read this. I also encourage you to seek out reviews by #ownvoices reviewers as their opinions and feelings should definitely get priority over mine.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

MONDAY’S NOT COMING by Tiffany D. Jackson

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone? 


Title : Monday’s Not Coming
Author : Tiffany D. Jackson
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 432
Genre : YA mystery/contemporary
Publisher : Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date : May 22, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

Oof, man, oof. Jackson does not pull punches with her stories.

Whereas ALLEGEDLY gripped me, sometimes terrified me, twisted me up in knots, MONDAY’S NOT COMING, by contrast, was an equally important story — this time about the children, particularly those of colour, (and in this case, a young Black girl) who go missing — but failed to maintain that same intensity, of suspense. There was definitely some dread to be felt, as a reader, knowing that this would not have a happy ending, but getting to that moment, and wading through all the scenes leading upto it, felt a bit.. arduous. This wasn’t helped by the fact that our protagonist, Claudia, read very young. I mean, she is, I believe she’s fourteen or fifteen at the onset, but her voice felt even younger. Particularly when set against some of the subject matter. But maybe that was a deliberate choice.

This story was heartbreaking to read because for so long only Claudia notices something is wrong. Only Claudia cares. And watching how others were so slow to action, how reluctant people were to pay attention, was just excruciating. The circumstances that Monday (and her siblings) endured? Horrific. That’s where the aforementioned dread came in. You could see it happening, unfurling in slow-mo, as we live through the “before” moments; all the clues that Claudia was just too young to understand, too quick to believe otherwise, it was awful.

Where this particular read failed to land, however, was in the timeline shifting back and forth; yet another unexpected element that definitely makes me think I should be wary of getting the rug pulled out from under me for all of Jackson’s books; and there was a little too much meandering around in-between all the Monday-centric stuff. That said, of the meandering, I did like that we had some focus on Claudia’s struggle with dyslexia and some very positive and helpful moments with teachers towards coping with that.

So, yes, I had some pretty high expectations coming off of reading this author’s debut and this didn’t quite measure up. But it’s still a read touching on some very real and important issues and would recommend you give it a go.

WHO SPEAKS FOR THE DAMNED by C.S. Harris

It’s June 1814, and the royal families of Austria, Russia, and the German states have gathered in London at the Prince Regent’s invitation to celebrate the defeat of Napoléon and the restoration of monarchical control throughout Europe. But the festive atmosphere is marred one warm summer evening by the brutal murder of a disgraced British nobleman long thought dead.

Eighteen years before, Nicholas Hayes, the third son of the late Earl of Seaford, was accused of killing a beautiful young French émigré and transported to Botany Bay for life. Even before his conviction, Hayes had been disowned by his father. Few in London were surprised when they heard the ne’er-do-well had died in New South Wales in 1799. But those reports were obviously wrong. Recently Hayes returned to London with a mysterious young boy in tow–a child who vanishes shortly after Nicholas’s body is discovered.

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is drawn into the investigation by his valet, Jules Calhoun. With Calhoun’s help, Sebastian begins to piece together the shattered life of the late Earl’s ill-fated youngest son. Why did Nicholas risk his life and freedom by returning to England? And why did he bring the now-missing young boy with him? Several nervous Londoners had reason to fear that Nicholas Hayes had returned to kill them. One of them might have decided to kill him first.


Title : Who Speaks for the Damned
Author : C.S. Harris
Series : Sebastian St Cyr (book fifteen)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : historical fiction/mystery
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I am late to this series, having wanted to read it for years but only actually getting around to it back in December, but after fifteen books, no matter how recent a fan, you have to wonder : how long will it go on?

This installment definitely felt episodic in the sense that this was removed from what I sort’ve expected to see come to light by now. Events I can’t hint at or speak of due to s p o i l e r s. Instead this was just another vaguely run of the mill murder mystery that Sebastian involves himself in, much to the dismay of almost everyone around him, and as a result a lot of other people die in the midst of trying to cover something up from long ago, now come back to haunt them, and which is forced out into the open because they tried to cover it up.. again.

The one positive I can say (well, okay, that sounds terrible, this book wasn’t bad, but..) is that some of that copy and paste feeling I had reading these books, particularly when dealing with a certain character, wasn’t present this time. Some of the laziness was absent from this fifteenth book and that made everything feel much less rote, which I appreciated. Again, I just wonder, how long can things continue? I have nothing against a long series but only when the new books offer something worthwhile or fresh for the characters; that’s why we read these. Not for the plot or villain of the week but for progress.

There did seem to be some nostalgia and hearkening back to book one in this installment, some what-if and it-could’ve-been-me which did allow for some perspective on Sebastian’s part but I think we had already worked through most of that, so why was it important to rehash?

If you missed these characters, I think you’ll be satisfied by the new book. If you expected that long-awaited drama to bubble up and dealt with head-on, you might be disappointed. But either way I think you’ll enjoy sinking into a familiar world considering the world outside is looking mighty strange right now. This will be comforting in that respect but a new favourite? I wouldn’t expect so.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

A MURDEROUS RELATION by Deanna Raybourn

Veronica Speedwell navigates a dark world of scandal and murder in this new adventure from New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to help with a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, known as the Club de l’Etoile, and the proprietess, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve the jewel from the club before scandal can break.

Worse yet, London is gripped by hysteria in the autumn of 1888, terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper–and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.

Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Aurore’s high class brothel, where another body soon turns up. Many secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family–and it’s up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it’s too late for all of them.


Title : A Murderous Relation
Author : Deanna Raybourn
Series : Veronica Speedwell (book five)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : historical romance/mystery
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : March 10, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

Listen, I already know I’m going to be an outlier on this one (again!) so you should just scroll right past this review before you get too sad about this rating.

For various reasons, the last two books in this much beloved series have just not done it for me. Book four because of what I felt were out-of-character behaviours for characters I had grown to love so much, and in book five, it’s the mystery. This book had a lot of expectation riding on it because of where things ended in the previous installment and while it started out hopeful.. it kind of rambled about in another direction, putting certain things on hold, only to pick up a plot from a few books before; one I kind of thought we had moved on from. Only now do I see that this particular bit has finally (please?) run it’s course.

The particular investigation in this book runs parallel to when Jack the Ripper is rampaging around London and I definitely thought there would be some crossover with that. It seems a popular, or common, event for this time period. Strangely, we ended up bypassing it, and in some ways that was a refreshing choice. But there was a moment.. oh, wow, it perked me up. What a brilliantly written interaction.

As for the will-they-won’t-they-have-they-finally-just-got-on-with-it question, whether things progressed or not, you’ll just have to read to find out.

Considering my rather lukewarm feelings about this one on the whole, however, I wonder if this series has just run its course for me. I hate to think it so, I’ve so loved so much of this (again, books one to three? great, delightful, the best kind of frustrating), but lately? Again, I doubt this’ll be the common feeling. So definitely be excited about more Stokewell on your kindles or on your shelves. I’ll just be over here hoping to find the love again in book six. Not willing to throw in the towel quite yet.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

ALONE IN THE WILD by Kelley Armstrong

In #1 New York Times bestseller Kelley Armstrong’s latest thriller, the hidden town of Rockton is about to face a challenge none of them saw coming: a baby.

Every season in Rockton seems to bring a new challenge. At least that’s what Detective Casey Duncan has felt since she decided to call this place home. Between all the secretive residents, the sometimes-hostile settlers outside, and the surrounding wilderness, there’s always something to worry about.

While on a much needed camping vacation with her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, Casey hears a baby crying in the woods. The sound leads them to a tragic scene: a woman buried under the snow, murdered, a baby still alive in her arms.

A town that doesn’t let anyone in under the age of eighteen, Rockton must take care of its youngest resident yet while solving another murder and finding out where the baby came from – and whether she’s better off where she is.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong again delivers an engaging, tense thriller set in perhaps the most interesting town in all of contemporary crime fiction.


Title : Alone in the Wild
Author : Kelley Armstrong
Series : Rockton (book five)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : mystery/thriller
Publisher : Doubleday Canada
Release Date : February 4, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’m sad about this “low” rating because I had hoped book four was a fluke and this new book would recapture the magic of the first three installments. This is such a unique premise, with interesting characters, who have plenty of unlikeable and challenging personalities to bounce off of, along with the complicated situation of their living conditions, and it all just makes for fun and exciting and thrilling stories. But these last two..

This series is about an off-the-grid town in the Yukon, called Rockton. Rockton being a town populated by people who have escaped horrors, are on the run from something in their pasts, and have found a place where they can disappear for a few years. Sometimes, too, they are the ones who caused the horrors and just paid enough to a particular group in order to be admitted in order to lay low. Our lead protagonist is Casey Duncan, who arrived to this town to help her friend escape her ex, and has become one of the three detectives who help to police the outlaw-esque locals and keep the peace.

In this particular story, Casey discovers a baby in the woods, along with the body of a dead woman.. and discovers she was not the baby’s mother. It’s through communicating with the two local settlements, plus in speaking with a recluse, and a former hostile (someone who was once part of one of the nomad-esque tribes of.. well, hostile people), to track down who this woman is, where the baby’s parents are, and.. well, lots of that, really. There’s the politics of dealing with the settlements, trade negotiations, and just general complexities in navigating all that plus the wildlife and plus the harsh weather.

What I like about this series continues to be the characters, though some are forever a frustration, and again the setting is just so different. It’s great to read a contemporary where detectives can’t just google shit, there’s no conveniences of the kind we’re used to living with, and it’s a very hard life but not without lots of positive things, too. This particular mystery forced Casey and her Sheriff pseudo-husband to talk about the possibility of children, and the complications therein, and it got a little emotional there at the end. But while I also appreciate that Armstrong uses her cast of characters, most who have never lived within a modern society or any place other than the wilderness, to explore particular discussions, ie, bias, prejudice, toxic masculinity, etc, this one felt really.. preachy. I don’t know. Sometimes people who are too self-aware just get side eye from me.

So, yeah. Not my favourite. But the series itself is still one I enjoy. I do wonder if the particulars of some of what was brought up in this one means there’s an end date coming for the series but who knows. This is the same author who had a thirteen book series, so. Anything goes.

I’ll definitely read on! But this was not a favourite.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

WHEN YOU SEE ME by Lisa Gardner

Bestselling author Lisa Gardner unites three of her most loved characters -Detective D.D. Warren, Flora Dane, and Kimberly Quincy – in a twisty new thriller, as they investigate a mysterious murder from the past that points to a dangerous and chilling present-day crime.

FBI Special Agent Kimberly Quincy and Sergeant Detective DD Warren have built a task force to follow the digital bread crumbs left behind by deceased serial kidnapper Jacob Ness. And when a disturbing piece of evidence comes to light, they decide to bring in Flora Dane who has personal experience of being imprisoned by Ness.

Their investigations take them to a small town deep in the hills of Georgia where something seems to be deeply wrong.

What at first seems like a Gothic eeriness soon hardens into something much more sinister as they discover that for all the evil Jacob committed while alive, his worst secret is still to be revealed.

Quincy and DD must summon their considerable skills and experience to crack the most disturbing case of their careers – and Flora must face her own past directly in the hope of saving others.


Title : When You See Me
Author : Lisa Gardner
Series : Detective D. D. Warren (book eleven)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : mystery/thriller
Publisher : Dutton
Release Date : January 28, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’m writing this review before my review for book ten of this series has even gone live on the blog. In that other post, I was effusive and bubbly after rediscovering my love for this series, as the installments before had been good, but not great. Well, we’ve returned to the good. But that’s not a bad thing.

Book eleven feels like almost a direct continuation of the story in book ten. We have DD, Kimberly, and Flora all partnered up, along with Keith, a civilian crime enthusiast, expert in his own way, and on their way to Georgia when it appears they may have found one of the first of Jacob Ness’ victims. However, things are not quite what they appeared.. and yet also more.

I’ll admit the victim-ish POV story wasn’t really doing much for me. I felt something but not enough to really keep me totally focused, and interested, in what appeared to be a subplot to the main event. Except.. things shifted around the 40% mark and that’s when a) things took off and b) things got interesting. But overall there were definitely chapters where I just wasn’t as dialed in as I was in the book before it.

This feels like a huge turning point for Flora, not quite closure but the most she’ll probably ever have, and the way Gardner pivoted that moment into something bigger, connecting to the discovery in book ten, was well done. Again, big picture wise, this was huge for the series and for this trio of women, Flora in particular. And while the conspiracy that’s discovered is kind of mind boggling, and crazy clever, overall I just wasn’t super into it.

With the way things have resolved, I’ll be curious to see how much page time we get from Flora and Kimberly in future books. Because we also have a new element introduced to DD’s life, one I’m both super soft about and also a wee bit perplexed, but hey. I’m still very curious as to what comes next.

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

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