Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

Sarcastic and tough, Lola has developed these survival skills since she’s pretty much left on her own all of the time. Her mother left when she was five and her father is a busy film director. When she finds her father stabbed during an attack, she’s sent to stay with her maternal grandmother in Harrow Lake; the remote town that was made famous by her father’s movie, Nightjar. Nightjar is a horror movie that gave Harrow Lake fame and Lola’s mother was the main character. Lola has never known her grandmother and when she meets her it’s weird, awkward, and unwelcoming. Her suitcase disappears and the more she explores the town, the stranger it seems. Lola begins to hear chattering sounds and sees and carries on conversations with her long-ago imaginary friend from her childhood. She has vivid dreams and starts to question the fact that maybe Harrow Lake is making her crazy. Secrets unraveled and revealed bring resolution to this unique horror mystery, 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!

Only Ashes Remain by Rebecca Shaeffer

Nita finds Fabricio at INHUP and vows to kill him. She misses Kovit and emails back and forth with him. She also emails her mother and they plan to meet in Toronto. Nita is heartbroken after hearing about her father’s murder. Kovit and Nita team up and take down some people that are hunting them. The two of them go on a roller coaster ride of a relationship and they both learn and grow because of it. Nita comes to terms with her mother and her actions but doesn’t learn any more about her father’s death. Great sequel, 4 stars!

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Shaeffer

Nita listens to her Disney playlist while she dissects dead unnatural beings. She lives with her mother and helps her with the collecting and dissecting that she does for a living. Nita’s mother sells body parts on the black market on the dark web. The first chapter shows her cruelty when she brings home a creature that looks like he’s an eighteen-year-old human. She locks him in a newly purchased cage and handcuffs him. She wants to keep him alive as long as possible while she removes and sells pieces of his body. Nita can’t stand to see him suffer so she helps him escape. Her mother is furious but calm. Soon after, Nita is kidnapped and imprisoned. After witnessing torture and seeing some black market buyers, Nita manages to escape and takes her neighboring cellmate along. Through suspenseful danger and action, Nita discovers more information about her kidnapping. Twists and intrigue, 4 stars!

Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G. Thompson

Intense, suspenseful and genre-bending!
Amy returns home after six horrible years with her kidnapper. She was kidnapped along with her cousin Dee. A man obsessed with dolls, Kyle stalked twelve-year-old Dee and took the opportunity to grab her the first chance he got. He, Kyle, took Amy also, so he wouldn’t leave behind a witness. After Amy returns home, she struggles deeply with guilt, blackout episodes and trusting anyone enough to tell what happened during the six years she was away. This heartrending story mixes mystery, realistic fiction and horror together well to create a tale of brutality, psychopathic tendencies and coping skills. 5 stars for an intense read!

The Deep by Alma Katsu

Titanic horror/historical fiction

This story jumps back and forth in several different ways, mostly from 1912 to 1916 when the main characters are on the fateful journey of the Titanic in 1912 and four years later on the Brittanic. Desperation, sadness and selfishness turn anger into an invitation to the supernatural that becomes a possession causing chaos, confusion and harm. I truly didn’t see the possession coming but it all made sense in the end. I also didn’t realize that the Britannic also sunk which just added more tragedy to the story. Some of the storyline felt choppy, 3.5 stars.

The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers

The story feels a bit scattered because Jocey is relaying information that way. The more I read, the more I wondered what is holding Jocey together. She received a letter coded in a way that only herself, Noah and her deceased brother knew about so she’s bound and determined to find her brother alive. Jocey, Jack and Noah lived in a foster home together when they were younger. The three of them were best friends and stuck up for each other and trusted no one else. Joecey’s latest discovery has her traveling to the Peace Tower to hopefully find her brother or at least another clue. With Noah’s help, Jocey decodes and chases clues, tries to avoid danger and hunts for anything to do with Jack. If I say anymore, I’ll spoil the storyline. This story is a riddle with a unique and unexpected ending. The twist is mind-boggling and the author did a fantastic job pulling everything together, 5 stars for a wonderfully twisted mystery thriller.

The Institute by Stephen King

A cop, Tim, from Florida needs a change, so he leaves and heads north to see where life takes him. Luke Ellis lives happily with his parents until they’re shot, unknown to him, and he’s kidnapped. He’s taken to The Institute where children are experimented and tested on for telepathic and telekinetic abilities. The treatment isn’t kind and any empathy they do get seems to be for manipulative purposes only. Stephen King’s writing tends to pull me completely under and into the story and I became immersed in the children’s Institute lives and their well-being and mistreatment. The characters are laid out and built up with depth, as is the author’s way, and I was rooting for Tim and Luke the whole time. Another aspect of Mr. King’s writing is the philosophical pondering that always takes place when I read his books. The Institute made me stop and think about the greater good and how perspectives differ drastically. The children of the Institute had quirks, talents, and innocence until the experimenting drained them of everything. Thought-provoking and intense dystopian, 5 stars!

The Unleashed by Danielle Vega

Creepy and more complex than The Haunted!
Hendricks is trying to get past the loss of Eddie with the help of her friends. She thinks that Steele House is destroyed and when strange things start to happen again, she hopes that it’s Eddie trying to contact her. An evil has been set loose in Drearford that connects the murders that have occurred in town over the past several decades. New terror builds on top of what Hendricks has already uncovered, creating a complex string of horrible events. Suspense, hold your breath terror and an unexpected ending, 5 stars!

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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This book is just as awesome the second time around!

I love the characters and the historical tidbits throughout the story that keep it in line with factual events!

I read Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco as part of the Goodreads group, One ‘n Done Book Corner for the May Book of the Month (BOTM).

Audrey loves science and wants to pursue a career in the medical field. She’s learned everything she knows about anatomy and diagnosis from her uncle. She finally convinces him to let her be a student in his class, as long as she dresses like a young man and talks to no one. In her first day of class, she meets Thomas. The two have much in common and neither is squeamish around dead bodies. I enjoy the clever banter between Thomas and Audrey. I enjoyed this second reading of this book as much as the first read, even though I knew the ending the second time around. A historical mystery worth 5 stars!