The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

I received this novel as an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

I’m going to start with a confession: when I heard about this book I was nervous that it was going to be just hype and not live up to my expectations. NEVER HAVE I BEEN SO HAPPY TO BE WRONG!

35297394Summary (Goodreads): Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


Review: This is hands-down one of my favourite books I’ve read this month.

At first, I was a little confused as to where the story was going to go. The writing style was very elegant but the events seemed a little too teenager-y for my taste. I was worried I wouldn’t like this book….

AND THEN IT ALL CHANGED.

The ghostliness of the story became the forefront and it was just amazing. I loved the atmosphere of this novel, with its haunting imagery and creepy scenes. It delivered on so many fronts. Every chapter began with a small section about the 3 sisters who were responsible for the curse on the island and these excerpts were so intriguing! The entire reading experience was just fantastic.

Even though I had already predicted the biggest twist in the story, I found myself enjoying the story so much that I didn’t care. I didn’t need for there to be that massive surprise when the quality of the storytelling was just so good!

I also quite liked the interactions between the different characters. I didn’t think I would since I’m not a big fan of romance, but it was done very nicely here, and I was able to really connect with the characters. Needless to say, I was pretty emotional when I got to the ending – but that’s when you know you’ve read something amazing!

I honestly cannot say enough about this book because I just loved every minute of it. If you like romance and ghostly encounters and witches and amazing writing, then check out this book! I’m giving it 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

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Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone – The Hatching #3

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I have loved this series since I received my first ARC for it. I’ve never been scared of spiders, but The Hatching had me feeling differently. I loved both The Hatching and Skitter, the 2nd book in the series, so I was super excited to know how it would all conclude. Here is my review:

35297544Summary (Goodreads): The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come.

The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realization that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders, or do we gamble on Professor Guyer’s theory that we need to kill only the queens?

For President Stephanie Pilgrim, it’s an easy answer. She’s gone as far as she can—more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder—and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer. Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don’t agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what’s more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?


Review: For a novel that’s supposed to be about killer crazy spiders, there weren’t too many spider scenes.

I was hoping that this book would have crazy spider action and scare the bejeezus out of me. But I don’t think there was a spider scene until the halfway point of the book. Most of the story was just a lot of characters talking and politics. I think that the other novels in this series spoiled me for the last one; they were such high-impact, adrenaline-fueled stories that this one seemed like a bit of a let-down.

One of the things I had really loved about this series were the different perspectives that were included. I loved that there were some civilians and people from various areas of the world, all reeling from this spider issue. I was eager to see how these perspectives would converge in the end. However, after reading this final book, I question the necessity for all of those viewpoints and characters. So many of them just sputtered out in this book that it felt like it was all just a moot point. After having read about all of these different characters from the other 2 books in this series, I was quite disappointed with how their stories ended in this final book. Looking back, it might have been better for the author to only have focused on a few of the core story lines and left the unnecessary ones out, since it really didn’t add anything.

The writing was still great, which made this novel move along at a fast pace. Even though not a lot was happening in terms of action, all of the plot holes were filled and I appreciated that the author caught the readers up on things from the previous novels that may have been forgotten.

I know it sounds like I didn’t love this novel. And you’re right, I didn’t love it. But it was still quite good. I liked the writing, and the way the story ended. I was super invested in this series, which is probably why I enjoyed this last book despite it not being as action-packed as I had hoped. If you like creepy stories, I would definitely recommend checking this series out; it is honestly so good and it’s worth reading! I’m giving this book a 3/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

Coyotes, Volume 1 by Sean Lewis, Caitlin Yarsky

Thank you to the publishers and Edelweiss for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

I don’t read graphic novels often. But I really really like them and want to spend more time reading them. The problem is that I never know which ones are out and nobody I know reads them. My favourite one right now has got to be Monstress by Marjorie Liu, but I’ve been itching to see what else is out there. This one caught my eye right away and I decided to read it all in one go! Here is my review:

36861079Summary (Goodreads): Women are going missing in the City of Lost Girls, a border town in the desert. Officer Frank Coffey is trying to get to the bottom of this when he meets Red, a thirteen girl with a katana blade and a mission: murder the Werewolves stalking the border picking women off one by one. When it’s discovered that the Wolves are the men of these villages, both Red and Officer Coffey are thrown together in a thriller of mythic proportions with he lives of their friends and loved ones in the balance.


Review: I’m going to start by saying that I really liked the artwork here. It’s got some beautiful illustrations, courtesy of Caitlin Yarsky. But I also really liked the story!

It’s important for readers to read the entire Volume rather than single issues because the story won’t make sense otherwise. I love the concept of this story: women are being hunted by werewolves. But they’re fighting back. For a first volume in a series, I think that the novel generates a lot of intrigue. I wanted to know how these women decided to band together, how they learned to fight, how long these attacks had been going on. Not many of these questions are answered in this book, but I feel confident that they will in future issues. The story has some great flow to it and I like the idea of a band of women fighting together. There’s a lot of symbolism in this story and the message is very clear – but I’m going to let you figure that out for yourself by reading this novel!

I did have one negative thing to say: I didn’t like having Officer Coffey’s involvement. He was an unnecessary character. I also wish there had been more details given of the circumstances to tighten up the story. Both of these things are easy to resolve in future volumes, so I am excited to see what the creators will do with this story!

This may have just been the first volume but it has me hooked! I’m interested to see how the story will continue! I’m giving this 4/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson

When I found out that this novel was inspired by the Slender Man attack, I was immediately interested. I know that sounds like there is something seriously wrong with me, but I wanted to know how the author would describe it in a fictional setting. This story takes place after the incident and the premise was just too interesting to pass up. Here is my review:


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Summary (Goodreads): How far are you willing to go for Mister Tender?
At fourteen, Alice Hill was viciously attacked by two of her classmates and left to die. The teens claim she was a sacrifice for a man called Mister Tender, but that could never be true: Mister Tender doesn’t exist. His sinister character is pop-culture fiction, created by Alice’s own father in a series of popular graphic novels.
Over a decade later, Alice has changed her name and is trying to heal. But someone is watching her. They know more about Alice than any stranger could: her scars, her fears, and the secrets she keeps locked away. She can try to escape her past, but Mister Tender is never far behind. He will come with a smile that seduces, and a dark whisper in her ear…


Review: I have very mixed feelings about this book. Do I think this is a very unique thriller? Yes, 100%. Did I love it? Not entirely.

If you haven’t heard about the Slender Man trials, then let me give you a little recap: a couple of years ago, there was a lot of hype about this creepy character named Slender Man. 2 girls became so obsessed with it that they stabbed another girl, claiming that Slender Man told them to do it. This was the premise that sparked the idea for this book, but the author took it further than just the incident: in this novel, we read about the victim’s life in the future.

The novel started off great. I loved reading from Alice’s perspective. She is damaged, she is paranoid, but she is strong and refuses to be a victim. The author painted a very realistic depiction of a survivor and I wanted to get to know her. However, as the story progressed, I found I didn’t really like Alice as much as I had hoped. For one thing, she’s a blabbermouth. For someone who should trust nobody, she trusts EVERYBODY. Every other chapter involves her meeting a character, deciding to trust them with her life story, and then divulging every little detail, including things that could be used against her. I wanted to shake her and yell at her for this. YOU ARE BEING STALKED BY A PSYCHO!!! DON’T GO AROUND TRUSTING PEOPLE!!! She even ignores the advice of her dead father, who explicitly told her to not trust anybody. It was something that really bothered me with this story.

That being said, I did like the way the story developed. There were a lot of twists and turns and a lot of mysteries explored. I like that things unfolded in their own time; instead of having the reader try to tease things apart, the author let everything come out gradually. It gave the story a good flow and allowed me to just enjoy the story as it came to me. I liked the identity reveal of Mister Tender and the way things led up to the climax.

But it was the climactic point that failed me. Mainly because there wasn’t one. After all this build up, after all the violence, it ended very easily. It was just too simple after all of the tension that was evoked previously, and I just couldn’t feel satisfied by it.

Despite some of the negative aspects of this story, I think that it gives a lot of food for thought about sensationalism and victim fetishism. The story is about how everyone is obsessed with getting to know Alice, understanding her and seeing how she lives her day after her horrific incident. In a way, the reader is a part of that: I am drawn to the grisliness of her story, I’m fascinated by her character and how she behaves. It’s easy to see how I could become another “fan” of Mister Tender… except I would never stoop to that level of depravity and violence. In a sense, this theme of sensationalism also touches on issues with privacy. With the internet, there really is no such thing as having privacy and through Alice’s struggles, we see how hard it can be to remain anonymous. This novel also looks at abuse in a very unique way. There are so many different types of abuse that this novel considers and it is worthwhile to note that abuse doesn’t just manifest itself through physical violence; it can come from a loved one, too, and have disastrous consequences on one’s mental and emotional well-being.

Even though there were things I really didn’t like about this novel, I’m still giving it a fairly high rating of 3.5/5 stars. This is a very unique psychological thriller, with plenty of twists and turns to keep readers interested, so if you are looking for something new in the genre, consider this book.

Happy reading ~

The King of Bones and Ashes by J. D. Horn

Books that involve witchcraft or covens are my thing. I will literally devour any book that mentions the word “witch” in it because I am THAT obsessed! I’m so glad I got to read an ARC of this book because it was such a fantastic read and fulfilled my need for dark stories!

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Summary (Goodreads): Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.


Review: I never realized how much I love urban fantasy until recently, but it is quickly becoming one of my favourite genres to read. And this book is such a fantastic addition to the genre.

One of the things I loved about the story was the pacing. This was not a very fast-paced story, but the slower pace worked very well because it allowed for the development of the darker elements. And the dark aspects of the story were worth waiting for! I knew this story wasn’t going to be a lighthearted read but even I was taken aback by the sheer evil mentioned in this book – and I loved it! The writing style that the author used was also perfect for building up tension in the plot and between the different characters. There was also no fakeness to any of the character interactions or situations; every remark, every scene was carefully crafted and served a higher purpose of solidifying the themes of the story.

There were quite a few characters to keep track of, and I will admit that I struggled here a bit. The author definitely did a great job of making each of them unique, but I would find myself forgetting how everyone was related or how old the characters were. The author does provide a helpful list of characters at the end of the book, but I wouldn’t recommend readers look at it while they are still reading the story because some of the descriptions of the characters can be spoilers.

But the plot was to die for: it was gripping, dark, and scary. It was everything I could ask for in an urban story centered around powerful witch families and covens.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this dark urban fantasy set in New Orleans. The characters, writing style, and eerie plot were absolutely amazing and I am definitely going to be reading more books by this author in the near future! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading ~

The Black Painting by Neil Olson

Look at this cover, and tell me you wouldn’t be intrigued to read it (especially if you are a book cover snob like me)!

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I thought this was a stunning cover, and when I read the premise, I was immediately drawn to the supernatural aspect of the story. I may not know much about art, but I love everything to do with demons and this novel had everything to make it the perfect read for me.


Synopsis (Goodreads): There were four cousins in the Morse family: perfect Kenny, the preppy West Coast lawyer; James, the shy but brilliant medical student; his seductive, hard-drinking sister Audrey; and Teresa, youngest and most fragile, haunted by the fear that she has inherited the madness that possessed her father.

Their grandfather summons them to his mansion at Owl’s Point. None of them has visited the family estate since they were children, when a prized painting disappeared: a self-portrait by Goya, rumored to cause madness or death upon viewing. Afterward, the family split apart amid the accusations and suspicions that followed its theft.

Any hope that their grandfather planned to make amends evaporates when Teresa arrives to find the old man dead, his horrified gaze pinned upon the spot where the painting once hung. As the family gathers and suspicions mount, Teresa hopes to find the reasons behind her grandfather’s death and the painting’s loss. But to do so she must uncover ugly family secrets and confront those who would keep them hidden.


Review: What a great premise, right? Unfortunately, the actual story failed to live up to it.

The story itself had all the makings to be great. You have a painting that contains a demon in it, and this painting is stolen. The owner of the painting, Teresa’s grandfather, is found dead with a look of horror on his face. And everyone in the family wants to find this painting because of its wealth – and because of the powers it is rumored to hold. The problem with the story, however, is the plot doesn’t really stick to the script. It meanders and flows in so many different directions that it is hard to keep track. I don’t care about any of the other side plots, I just want to know what is going on with this painting! It was so frustrating to read this novel because I never got the information or the story I wanted.

There were also a lot of characters. As in, way too many. There was nothing to really set any of them apart, and there was just so many names being dropped with no proper development that they all melded into one. It almost felt like I was experiencing whiplash, what with the sheer volume of characters and character interactions that were present in this novel. This is what happens when a story doesn’t have any character development whatsoever – and it was an experience I do not want to ever repeat.

As I’m writing this review, I feel quite sad. This novel could have been so good. And I don’t want to bash the author’s efforts to write and publish a book. But there was no redeeming quality about this book. There was no effort made to keep the plot concise and interesting. There was absolutely no character development, leaving the reader swamped by the sheer number of players in this book. It was just not a good book. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~

Top books of January

I can’t believe that it is already the end of the month! I still have a great deal of ARCs to get to, and many of them are January releases that I will only get to in February (oops) …. but they will definitely be done!

There have been so many amazing novels that I’ve read this month and I really wanted to highlight some of these great reads! Here is my list of my top books from this month:

  1. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekannen: I have a very high standard when it comes to thrillers but this novel was actually really good. It had me guessing the entire time, and I loved the intensity and tension that was pervasive in this novel.
  2. The Cruel Prince by Holly BlackThis was one of my favourite YA fantasy books of the month. It had an interesting story and, more importantly, unique characters. This is not the same old story rehashed. I loved the immersion into the world of the fae as well as all the treachery and planning and twists that were thrown in! I am definitely keeping my eye out for the sequel!!
  3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgWhile I know that this wasn’t a book that came out in January, I only got around to it this month. It is so beautiful and heartbreaking and wonderful. It is a very complex story that looks at what it means to be a mother. I was riveted from page one and emotionally exhausted by the end – and I mean this in the best way possible.
  4. Only Child by Rhiannon NavinI loved that this story was told entirely from the perspective of a young boy. This story is all about how tragedy can change a family and a community. It was poignant and I was bawling my eyes out by the time the story was done. It’s worth the ugly crying!
  5. The Perfect Nanny/Lullaby by Leila Slimani: This was a short read but it was eerie and unputdownable. This book was all about ramping up the tension that eventually led to a complete breakdown and the ultimate death of two innocents. I was blown away by the writing style and the story.
  6. A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave: A very interesting book that deals with a lot of heavy subject matter like cellular memory and vigilante behaviour. It was fast-paced and intriguing, with plenty of twists and turns to keep me occupied!
  7. Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman: This is not a new book by any standards but it featured one of the most unique protagonists ever. Brigid Quinn is a 59-year-old woman who was once a great FBI agent, but has seen sought early retirement. She is quirky and dark and fierce in the best way possible. I loved this novel and cannot wait to start on this amazing series.
  8. Himself by Jess KiddAnother novel that I waited way too long to read, this one was not at all I expected. I love magical realism, and this novel did it right, with plenty of interesting characters and events.
  9. In Case I Go by Angie AbdouThis book was a cross between a ghost story, historical fiction, and had some magical realism in it. It worked beautifully. The story was haunting, the writing was captivating, and I just couldn’t put this book down!
  10. The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen DionneNot only did this novel have a unique premise, it also had a believable protagonist. This is a character-study novel that explores how the protagonist’s childhood shaped her into the person she becomes later on – and how it makes her the best person to kill the most dangerous man she knows: her father.

That’s a wrap for January … can’t wait for the books that February is going to bring!

Happy reading ~

All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (Goodreads): In the wake of World War I in the small, Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina, the town folk believe they’ve found a little slice of heaven in a mysterious chapel in the woods. But they soon realize that evil can come in the most beautiful of forms.

The people of Bellhaven have always looked to Ellsworth Newberry for guidance, but after losing his wife and his future as a professional pitcher, he is moments away from testing his mortality once and for all. Until he finally takes notice of the changes in his town . . . and the cardinals that have returned.

Upon the discovery of a small chapel deep in the Bellhaven woods, healing seems to fall upon the townspeople, bringing peace after several years of mourning. But as they visit the “healing floor” more frequently, the people begin to turn on one another, and the unusually tolerant town becomes anything but.

The cracks between the natural and supernatural begin to widen, and tensions rise. Before the town crumbles, Ellsworth must pull himself from the brink of suicide, overcome his demons, and face the truth of who he was born to be by leading the town into the woods to face the evil threatening Bellhaven.


Review: I went into this novel with absolutely no idea on how I would feel about it. I emerged from it thinking that it was quite an interesting read.

I really liked the premise of this book and the way events unfolded in this town. The story is told entirely from Ellsworth’s point of view, and he is quite a character. I think the author tries really hard to make him complex, but at times, it was a bit forced. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by Ellsworth and really liked him. There were many different characters who were introduced to the story, and it could be quite confusing to keep them all straight. However, all of the characters had backstories and vices that helped the reader make a connection with them. I did think that everyone’s constant positive regard for Ellsworth was a tad overbearing, but it makes sense in terms of the story.

I really liked the way that the story progressed. We start off with the emergence of this chapel, which has always been present, yet the people of this town have been unaware of it. But once they become aware, they cannot help but visit, enticed by the messages it gives them. Soon, however, it becomes apparent that this chapel is not a blessing – rather, it is curse. The frenzy that developed throughout this story was fantastic, and I really enjoyed every minute of the book…. until we got to the final climax. That’s when I felt disappointment. After all this amazing build up and tension and intrigue, the climax felt lackluster.

Even though the ending was not as great as I had hoped, the story itself was interesting and I enjoyed most of it. I wasn’t expecting it to make references to faith (totally missed out that it was labelled as Christian fiction) but the author made it work in the story. I would give this a 3/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba

I’ve always been eager to read books that are written by an author whose first language is not English. Usually, these authors are from countries that are very different than where I live and what I am accustomed to, so I like to see how their cultural setting influences their writing. Of course, then comes the doubt about whether the translation was accurate enough to pick up on the subtle nuances … but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. I heard about this book and immediately wanted to give it a shot. Here is my review:

Synopsis (Goodreads): Life changes at the orphanage the day seven-year-old Marina shows up. She is different from the other girls: at once an outcast and object of fascination. As Marina struggles to find her place, she invents a game whose rules are dictated by a haunting violence.


Review: I know the synopsis is short but any more information and you would have everything revealed. This was a quick read but it was packed with A LOT. I was expecting a simple creepy story but instead got something a lot deeper and more complex. The story is told from Marina’s perspective and that of the other children in the orphanage. The sentences are short but they convey the brokenness that inhabits the children. A great deal of emotional turmoil is conveyed in this short read, and it haunts the reader long afterwards. This novel is disturbing in its prose, and in the story it tells. I don’t want to speak more about this story, because it is better to experience it. With that, I would say I’m giving this novel a solid 4/5 stars, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a haunting and eerie read.

Happy reading ~

In Case I Go by Angie Abdou

I always love it when I decide to read a book on a whim and find myself loving the story. That’s what happened here. I saw this sitting on the shelf of my local library and the synopsis, while sparse, was interesting enough that I decided to give it a shot.

Synopsis: 10-year-old Eli and his parents have returned to their family home in Coalton, a small mountain town. The parents, Nicholas and Lucy, hope that by escaping their hectic city lives, they will restore calm and stability to their marriage, but they find that once charming Coalton is no longer the remote idyll they remembered. Development of a high-end subdivision has disturbed a historic graveyard, drawing negative press from national media. While Nicholas works long hours at the local coal mine and Lucy battles loneliness and depression, Eli must make his own way in this town.

Eli is not like other young boys. His birth was complicated, making him more fragile than other children his age. His parents have raised him more like an adult than a kid, making him more perceptive – but also more reclusive. When Eli moves to Coalton, he meets Mary. And while everyone tells him Mary is mute, she speaks to Eli. She calls Eli by his full name, Elijah, the name he inherited from an ancestor who was famous in Coalton.

Eli’s encounters with Mary are not like that between children, between friends. There is a hidden anger in Mary’s eyes, and her words are not always kind. And with each encounter, Eli starts to have visions of a time before this one. Eli stops being himself – and starts having memories of Elijah, his ancestor. And Elijah has sinned.


This book is really hard to categorize; it’s like a cross between a ghost story and historical fiction, mixed in with some magical realism. And it works beautifully.

The story is haunting in its prose and in the way it takes the present and blends it with the past. It speaks about regrets and how one’s sins can carry forward. There are so many layers to peel back with this story, and I love how it was steeped in facts about the Aboriginal community. In fact, the author did a fantastic job of representing this community and the hardships they have faced, which I really appreciated. There is an emphasis on the idea that the past cannot just stay buried and hidden; the truth will out, and we must pay for our consequences. This concept was stressed throughout the story and it is one we should all keep in mind. The story itself was extremely engaging, and I wanted to know more about Eli’s transformation – and whether he would ever be himself again. This is a book that I know I will recommend to many people because it is beautiful, emotional, and deserves to be read. 5/5 stars from me.

Happy reading ~