The Last Beautiful Girl by Nina Laurin

Wonderfully spooky!

Isa moves from Brooklyn, where she loves her life, to a small community that doesn’t seem to have much to offer. Isa, her mom and dad move into the Granger House, which was elegant and decadent a century ago but has faded and become decrepit. The house also has deaths in its history. The community is in awe of the Granger House because of the mysteries surrounding it. Bodies have been found, supposedly homeless vagrants; a teenage girl has disappeared from there; and the home owners’ unknown endings. Isabelle Granger was a beautiful model who many artists painted portraits of. These portraits are all over the house. Isabelle’s husband was discovering new art forms dealing with photography but his shop was burned to the ground but no one knows what happened to him. Isa meets an aspiring photographer at school and together they recreate Isabelle Granger’s portraits through photography and post them on an Instagram account that becomes very popular. Isa’s personality begins to change and she becomes impatient, arrogant and self-important. Her family and friends notice and they try to intervene before tragedy strikes. This is a spooky, suspenseful book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading, 5 stars!

At the End of Everything by Marieke Nijkamp

Thought-provoking dystopian!

Teens at a juvenile detention center are deserted by the adults, warden, guards and caretakers in one day. A group of teens leaves for the nearest town only to be stopped by soldiers at the town’s edge. The soldiers tell them everything is on lockdown and a sickness is going around. The soldiers instruct the teens to head back to the center. They do only to break into two groups; those leaving and those staying. A sickness soon breaks out at the center and teens start dying. The sickness starts with a cough and turns into a bloody cough. Each teen is dealing with their own problems and reasons for being sent to the center which is a good chunk of the book. I can see dystopian readers devouring this book, especially because the pandemic is so close to our current reality. Though-provoking dystopian for young adult readers, 3 stars!

The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson

The perfect ending to the Storm Crow duology!

Anthia is on her way to the meeting of rulers to gain their help in defeating Razel, the Illucian queen. She has companions with her, Res, Caylus and Kiva. On the trip, the ship stops at retired crow riders’ ports so Res and Anthia can receive training to help him develop and hone his powers. Razel attacks their ship with Malkin‘s crew, putting Caylus in Malkin’s sight once again. Anthia grows as she continues to pull herself out of the pit of depression that almost consumed her after her mother died. Res is fun and fantastic with his attitude and magic abilities. He adds bits of humor throughout the story. It’s going to take everything to defeat Razel, including teamwork. This is a wonderful read and perfect ending to The Storm Crow duology with it’s intense intrigue and strong characters, 5 stars!

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

The adventure never ends!

The prologue opens with inspiration and excitement for things to come and then ends with horror and devastation. Anthia’s world falls apart when her homeland, Rhodaire, is attacked by Illucians. Her mother is killed and so are the large, beautiful, magical crows that shared their world. Her land is decimated because without the crows’ help, nothing flourishes or grows. Her sister, Caliza, is now queen and has betrothed Anthia to the Illucian Prince Ericen. Of course, neither sister is happy about the deal but they don’t see any other way to try to mend their broken land. Before Anthia leaves her home, she visits the towers where the crows once lived. She finds and hides an egg then takes it to Illucia with her. She has no idea how to get it to hatch but she’s not leaving it behind. She’s searched everywhere for information on the crows and she’s hoping she’s going to figure it out soon. Ericen is difficult to read and Anthia is unsure about trusting him. He seems very loyal to his mother, Razel, the Illucian Queen. Razel is terrible and loves cruelty. She wants to conquer all of the other countries also and doesn’t care about who she harms in the process. Anthia accidentally meets rebels and inadvertently makes new friends in Illucia. She manages to enjoy some of her time there until she discovers a secret of Razel’s. The action and intrigue continues in the sequel, Crow Rider. I enjoyed several characters, their flaws and quirks: Anthia, Kiva, Ericen, Caylus, and the adventure that never seems to end, 5 stars!

You Will Be Mine by Natasha Preston

Unexpected Twist!

Lylah attends college and lives off campus with her friends. One of her roommates, Sonny, goes missing and Lylah and Chace find his body when they go to study. His heart is missing. Someone is leaving notes written in cut out letters from magazines and the friends are terrified. One person at a time goes missing and is found murdered. There’s a little bit of redundancy with Lylah explaining her background but the last fifty pages amp up the intensity and suspense with an unexpected twist, 4 stars!

Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie Richards

A fun, fantastic horror story!

Cleo gets done showering and sees a gift- wrapped package on the bathroom sink that wasn’t there before she got in the shower. She assumes it’s from a family member or friend but when she asks about it, no one has any idea about the package. This freaks Cleo out so she calls the police and the cop is respectful and helps her realize that she did the right thing by calling. No victim shaming. Her best friend Hope shows up in the meantime. The officer finds a few windows unlocked in her house but nothing else. After the officer leaves, the two friends find another box containing a scavenger hunt clue like the first package. The hunt grows creepier as the clues dredge up memories that Cleo would like to forget. This mystery gets more interesting as the creep factor cranks up! A fun, fantastic horror story, 5 stars!

Good Girls Die First by Kathryn Foxfield

Love the creepy cover!

Content warning for depictions of eating disorders, suicide, drunk-driving, date rape and drug and alcohol misuse.
The creepy cover promises something foreboding ahead. Several teens are mailed a note to meet at the old, abandoned pier where a carnival was burned down decades ago. The notes all ask the same question, “Can you keep a secret?” As they wander around the area, more teens appear, all with a similar note. As one of them walks on the pier, it collapses, trapping them away from the mainland. One of them dies, then another and the rest are scrambling to figure out how to get off of the island. Mysterious, suspenseful, and creepy! The cliffhanger at the end of chapter 17, when the group follows a trail of blood and ends up at the maze of mirrors, is deliciously ominous! This book is on the same line as It by Stephen King, but for young adults. Guilt feeds the dark entity and only one can survive. Creepy fun, 4 stars!

Reverie by Ryan La Sala

Reverie by Ryan La Sala
This fun fantasy adventure has a variety of characters set in different worlds or “reveries”. The story opens as Kane struggles with memory loss and frustration because he’s been accused of reckless behavior, destruction of property and possibly murder but he doesn’t remember any of it. He digs deeper into solving the mystery of his life and discovers that he was part of a group called “Others”. The more he reveals, the crazier everything gets. Dreams from individual minds come to life and most people are swept into the reverie while the Others have special powers of illusion, strength and cleverness to guide people safely through the dream world. The story also has a drag queen reverie guide that adds flair as well as lesbian side characters and Kane, who is the gay main character. These characters add perspective, kindness, diversity and a broad array of personalities to Reverie. A fun adventure fantasy geared towards young adults. The relationship scenes aren’t detailed and are a small part of the Reverie world. 4 stars!

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

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You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
On the fifth anniversary of her brother’s death, his graduation night, Jaycee is spending her own graduation night trying to lose herself in the memories that she’s been holding tightly to. She’s revisiting the places he enjoyed but she feels him slipping away. She reluctantly lets people tag along as friends on the adventures and each of them experiences something eye-opening that shoves them into adulthood. I love this book and even though I just finished it, I want to read it again. The circumstances that start the story, the character development and growth, the uniquely different characters and the setting work together to build a wonderful book, 5 stars!

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

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Japanese cultures and legends with a spooky aspect kept me glued to the pages of The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco!
I bought this book years ago because the synopsis intrigued me, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading it until it was set as the October read for the Dragons & Tea Book Club. The first five chapters introduce us to a ghost that sees murderers and scares them to death. This ghost’s life was ended in murder and she seeks justice and rids the world of killers. She notices a teen boy with strange tattoos that he tries to keep hidden as he moves into a house in Applegate, with his father. The boy, Tarquin (Tark for short) lives alone with his father since his mother seemingly tried to kill him when he was younger. The two visit her in the psychiatric hospital and she is terrified when she sees Tark and she’s threatening harm to whoever she thinks is going to hurt him, and only she can see this being. Tark thinks he freaks her out but his mother sees a dark shadow in him. The ghost sees the shadow too. The suspense heightens immensely in the next few chapters and leaves me rooting for the ghostly woman and her strong intentions. Chapters 6- 10: The action picks up alongside the suspense and I didn’t want to stop reading! 11-14: detailed descriptions of Japanese ghost legends surrounding Okiku in the well explain the ghost’s story and the humor picks up as Tark and Callie exchange emails. 15: A group of high school boys committed horrible and mutilating acts on a young woman and this setting opens a chapter with a new murder and retribution. 16-20: Tark, his father and cousin Callie travel to the shrine where Tark’s mother grew up. They learn about her life and all the things they never knew about her from the people she was raised by and grew up with. They witness a possession and exorcism of a little boy and see the shrine’s powers at work. 20-ending: sacrifices are made, tragedy strikes and parts of the shrine are damaged and destroyed.
I love this book and read through it quickly because it was interesting, suspenseful and I grew to love the characters and wanted to know how everything turned out for them. I enjoyed learning more about Japanese culture and legends, 5 stars!