Christa and several strangers are on a bus to Blackstone Alpine Lodge in winter when they are stopped by a fallen tree across the road. Christa and Kiernan are on the trip so he can share with her the memories he made with his family at Blackstone Alpine Lodge in years past. The two wander off while the other bus passengers work on moving the tree. A storm hits and Christa falls out of Kiernan’s reach. She’s found later by the rest of the group but Kiernan is lost. The group soon discovers that a killer is in their midst when they’re taken out one by one and their heads are displayed on the large tree next to their cabin shelter. Creepy and surrounded in mystery to the very end! 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the double layer mystery, the creepiness factor and suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed the twists. Mature content: gentle kisses Violence: R for several bloody deaths by decapitation and heads being displayed on tree branches. Language: PG-13 for 16 swears and no f-bombs.
18 year-old Elwood runs away when he overhears his father talking about sacrificing him for the church he resides over in the Garden of Adam Community, located in the Upper Peninsula. He’s been told throughout his entire life that he’s a burden. He’s been punished and unloved by his parents. 18 year-old Wil is sure that her mother was sacrificed by the church and Elwood’s father. Wil and Elwood help each other hide from danger, investigate the community’s weird happenings, and try to find out what happened to Wil’s mother. Their lives will be thrown into chaos before it’s over.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the creepy aspect of Elwood’s family and his father’s effect on the community. The prose represents beauty and pain, hurt and happiness, perfectly. The story was too quick to achieve well developed characters. Mature content: PG-13 for Underage drinking and smoking, passionate undescribed kissing (PG) Language: R for 79 swears and 6 f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for Bloody sacrificing of a rabbit, sacrificing son by bleeding him to death, father plunges knife into son’s chest. Ethnicity: falls to white.
Soon to be a Netflix movie! 20yo Elodie is excited to meet her betrothed, Prince Henry of Aurea. Elodie is one of three princesses who will be given to the dragon during Harvest Week in exchange for Aurea’s prosperity. Each year for the last eight centuries, three princesses from different parts of the world have been brought to Aurea under the guise of marrying Prince Henry, only to be sacrificed to the dragon. After unceremoniously being sent into the dragon’s lair, Elodie keeps going by relying on her wits, her strength and the help of past princesses through clues they’ve left behind. She might just survive to save the next princess.
Likes/dislikes: The story is slow in the beginning to give the reader a sense of calm but then the action picks up once Elodie learns the secret of Aurea. I enjoyed how the author meshed the past and present princesses together and the perseverance of each. I’m impressed how the author’s 13yo daughter created a functional language for the dragons in this story. The language syntax, grammatical rules and words are in the back of the book. Mature content: PG for brief kisses. Language: R for 35 swears, no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for Men being eaten by dragon, detailed sounds. Being burnt by flames. Pierced through skull by dragon wing point. Ethnicity: The ethnicity of Elodie and Henry fall to white, but brown skinned characters are found in the book also.
Mystery wrapped in prejudice! Avery goes to her mother’s hometown in Bardell County, Georgia, to take care of Mama Letty, who’s dying from cancer, after being away for twelve years due to the contentious relationship between her mom and Grandmother, Mama Letty. Racism and the Ku Klux Klan destroyed Mama Letty when they killed her husband when Zora, Avery’s mother, was just a baby. Afterwards, Letty drank and checked out and was cruel to Zora and now they continue to be angry with each other. Avery and her father are caught in the crossfire. Scandals and secrets are revealed while Avery tries to break down the hurt between her mother and grandmother before time runs out. Mystery wrapped up in prejudice.
Likes/dislikes: I like the mysteries surrounding the different families in the story and they pulled me into the book. Avery and her father made me chuckle. I like how the author represents all types of people and also the prejudice that still lingers in our society. Mature content: PG-13 for making out vague descriptions, underage drinking, brief kissing, weed smoking , nondescript kiss. Language: R for 157 swears and 25 f-bombs. Violence: PG for murder with no details. Ethnicity: The characters are predominantly Black and White. Korean American is represented.
Brynn and Mia, now both 18, lost their friend Summer five years prior to a brutal death. Everyone in Twin Lakes, Vermont believes the two are guilty of murdering Summer. They have been stigmatized and their lives have been threatened and ruined because of this. Brynn and Mia form an alliance to find the truth about Summer’s death after not speaking to each other for the last five years. They both have their own personal struggles to cope with as they try to decipher Summer’s behavior, surroundings and mental state when she was alive to find her killer and bring justice to the community. Likes/dislikes: The story and the mystery surrounding the characters drew me in and I didn’t want to put the book down. I enjoyed how the characters brought a fantasy world into their own story by giving a book life. It saddens me to think of the harsh life and loneliness Summer had at only thirteen years old. She had to grow out of childhood too quickly but this background explains her actions and personality. Mature content: PG-13 for mention of oral sex, not detailed; kissing with no details; mention of a doodle of a teacher with a hard on. Underage drinking and smoking pot, mention of kissing, no description. Brief kisses with some details. Language: R for 87 swears and 10 f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for fatal stabbing and self harm by scraping arm with scissors. Ethnicity: The characters are predominantly white.
Pippa and Gabe have been married for seven years and have two girls that are both four years old. They see a woman walking by the cliff edge near their home and Gabe rushes out to talk to her and keep her from jumping in case she’s feeling suicidal. He has saved several people before but this woman, Amanda, falls off the cliff. Pippa wonders why Gabe had his arms out and palms forward as she fell and questions whether or not he pushed her. The story gradually unravels the mystery behind Gabe, Pippa, Amanda and her husband Max. Mental illness and unsure circumstances create uncertainty in Pippa’s marriage but she and Gabe stay honest with each other through it all. I didn’t become invested in the main characters Gabe and Pippa as much as I cared about Max and Amanda. Abrupt transitions made it difficult for me to love this book. The best parts are with Amanda because there’s suspense involved in her story. 4 stars!
Myra, 34, has been a recluse since her disfiguring accident when she was a young child. She inherited a small mansion from her grandfather and step-grandmother and it seems to have a mind of its own. Alex returns home to a sick father that’s always pushed him away and he needs help running their business. Myra blogs about her miniature mansion and Alex notices that some of the furniture in his life-size mansion matches exactly to the tiny furniture in Myra’s. The characters are lovable and I appreciate the empathy shown throughout the book. The mystery behind the two mansions is written with creativity and unravels perfectly, 4 stars!
In Poppy Hills, Northern California, Prudence, 16, was a Ladybird scout, hunting creatures that feed on emotions until her best friend and fellow scout Molly died during a hunt they were on together three years prior. Prudence is now assigned to train her younger cousin Avi even though PTSD has been a problem for her since the fatal hunt. Prudence dreads her assignment but learns to embrace her leadership role and the younger scouts as she takes them under her wing. Eventually she begins to also let people break through her independent wall and become true friends. Now all she has to do is teach them how to stay alive while taking down the dreaded creatures they’re supposed to hunt. Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the humor throughout the novel. I like the message that it helps when people work together. I also enjoyed how the author brought into the novel the figurative monsters that we all deal with. Language: R for 68 swears and 38 f-bombs. Mature content: PG-13 for underage drinking, undescribed kiss, vaping, mention of “getting high”, mention of smoking weed, brief kiss. Violence: PG for fist fight with no blood, death with no blood in the description. Ethnicity: Prudence has Puerto Rican mother and a white father. Other ethnicities are white, Italian, and El Salvadoran.
Horror with a touch of twisted humor that reminds me of Stephen King’s writing. When Louise receives the call from her brother Mark that their parents were in a fatal car crash, she flies home to take care of everything. What she walks into is nothing like she expected and a secret, that’s been held quiet for two generations, bursts their reality. Mark and Louise struggle with each other until they finally realize they need each other’s help to deal with the haunting of their family home. Interestingly creepy!
Mystery and folklore! Luce’s cousin goes missing from her room one evening and it’s devastating her family. Luce, 15, had seen yellow eyes in the woods behind her house in Picnic, Illinois for a few nights before her cousin Madison went missing and she thinks the eyes might be a clue to finding her. Luce’s and Anders’ teacher assigns a historical research paper and Luce chooses to research the local history of missing girls. A girl has gone missing every nineteen years and she returns a few days later but the mother always claims that the returning girl is not her daughter. When Madison returns, her mother and Luce know that it’s not really her and she’s determined to find the real Madison despite the dangers it puts Luce in.
Likes/dislikes: The story started out simplistically but grew with more depth. I like the paranormal mystery behind the missing girls. Andres is an endearing character. I appreciate the message of independence and the message that you also need others in your life. Mature content: PG for a gentle kiss and a brief kiss. Language: R for 17 swears and 1 f-bomb. Violence: PG-13 for child abduction. Ethnicity: Predominantly white.