The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

Shea is a receptionist in a doctor’s office and makes a crime podcast in the evenings. She wants to interview a woman accused of but acquitted of murdering two men forty years ago, Beth Greer. Beth is a rich heiress who lives alone in the family mansion after her father was shot and her mother died in a car accident. Mystery surrounds Beth. She reaches out to Shea to talk about what happened forty years ago. Little by little, Shea is exposed to Beth’s life and secrets and the further she digs the more dangerous it all becomes. 5 stars for this well-written haunted mystery!

What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall

Book edition:

Three eleven year old girls entered the woods and two came out. One of them had been stabbed so the other two girls got help and testified that a serial killer rapist was to blame. Years later, when the three girls have become adults, the killer dies in prison. The three women meet and discuss how relieved but worried they are about a secret they’re hiding. The mystery of their secret becomes many mysteries buried, one on top of another. This is a delightfully twisted and unexpected mystery, 5 stars!

The Corpse Queen by Heather M. Herrman

Riveting read!

In 1855 Philadelphia, Molly lives at an orphanage until her aunt requests that she live with her. Before she even meets her aunt, she’s told she has to pick up a package first which turns out to be nothing like she expects. Molly is mourning the death of her friend Kitty who drowned in the river. Mother Superior told Molly, with a sneer, that Kitty was pregnant and this made Molly angry because Kitty told that secret in confession and no one else should know except the priest. Tom works for Molly’s aunt Ava and he picks her up from the orphanage, takes her to pick up the package then transports her to Ava’s home. Molly finally meets Ava and is given snippets of information about living there and what she’s required to do to stay. She’s expected to collect bodies for Dr. Lavall’s lectures and usually this requires dishonesty. Molly is eventually allowed to join the lectures and discovers that she wants to become a doctor herself even though she’s not welcomed into the surgical world by society. Molly also becomes deeply entwined in the mystery of The Knifeman and it’s going to take all her cleverness and bravery to keep from becoming a victim herself.

Likes/dislikes:
Suspenseful, creepy and frightening story kept me riveted. Molly’s strength overcomes her insecurities from being left in an orphanage by her parents and the abuse she suffered there. I enjoy the diverse characters and Tom’s personality and perseverance. The mystery is interesting.

Language: R for 43 swears and 4 f-bombs.
Mature content: PG-13 for
premarital sex without details and unwed pregnancy by side characters, kissing with main characters.
Violence: PG-13 for grave robbery and stealing parts from dead bodies, such as teeth, an ear and skin, bloody remains, stabbing.

The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond by Amanda Glaze

Riveting, suspenseful and fun to read!

In 1885 Sacramento, amidst the fight for women’s rights, runaway twins work for a performance troupe as psychics. Edie is reserved while her twin Violet is theatrical. They conduct a seance for an elderly woman who recently lost her cat. While pretending that the cat’s spirit is with them in the room, Edie senses the Veil thinning and a cold, uncomfortable feeling enters the room. She douses the smoldering lavender and the feeling goes away. They’ve helped their customer feel comfort but they’re shaken. Edie’s and Violet’s mother had spiritualist powers and she helped her daughters learn how to be safe with the powers they inherited from her. When their mother dies due to a shadow spirit, their preacher father threatens to send them to an asylum so they run away. They join up with the troupe and meet like-minded women trying to make a living. Edie and Violet become embroiled in a mystery that’s bigger than they ever imagined and much more dangerous than they planned on. Riveting, suspenseful and fun to read, 5 stars!

Likes/dislikes:
I appreciate the author’s note explaining how she based this story on her deceased great grandmother and her twin sister, who both happened to be spiritualists. I was riveted throughout the entire book because the story is interesting and I love the characters. The danger and suspense are intense. The ethnicity is mixed with white, Italian and Black.

Language: PG for 4 swears and no f-bombs
Mature content: PG for a lesbian couple mentioned. Edie (female) and Laws (male)kissing.
Violence: PG-13 for An angry shadow spirit threatening spiritualists, kidnapping and trapping and a bloody death.

The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Once upon a time, Mer lives in the kingdom of Wales which is full of magic and conflict. Mer is a diviner of magic who wants a peaceful life after she’s escaped from the abusive prince. The spymaster that captured her for the prince years ago offers her a job that will give her revenge on the prince and lots of coin so she can start a new life somewhere safe. She meets the rest of the group that includes a lord’s cousin with a gambling debt, a man who seeks revenge, a man that made a deal with the Otherfolk and a past acquaintance who happens to be an excellent thief. The banter and dynamics keep their journey interesting and the danger builds to intense levels. Mer will have to choose between herself and others and that will help decide her fate and the fate of the kingdom. Incredible world building, 5 stars!

Likes/dislikes:
The prose is beautiful and the world building is incredible. I love the variety of characters, especially the Corgi dog. I like how this book ties into the author’s book, The Bone Houses. The ethnicity is European.
Language: PG for one swear and no f-bombs
Violence: PG-13
Bandits burning homes with families inside. A young girl being taken from her family. Fighting to the death. A knife buried by the prince into a spy’s eye. A water horse bites a man in half. A giant magical boar stabs a man with his tusk.
Mature Content: PG for kissing.

Five Survive by Holly Jackson

The intensity builds to the extreme!

Red is traveling in an RV to Florida with her friends to spend a week celebrating spring break together. They lose cell service and GPS capabilities then end up down a dead end road getting a flat tire. After replacing the flat tire with the spare, Red sees a red dot hovering around the RV and yells at the others to notice. They ignore her until they hear the gunshots that take out all four tires. The group runs into the RV for protection. The shooter leaves a walkie talkie for communication and tells them that one of them has a secret they need to share. The secret is going to be revealed, one way or another!

Likes/dislikes:
Oliver is annoying because he’s a know-it-all with a superiority complex. The mystery is interesting to try to unravel when a few characters allude to having secrets. The suspense builds intensely, which makes a riveting read.

Mature Content:
PG-13 for drinking

Language:
R for 20 swears and 105 f-bombs.

Violence:
PG-13 for Someone shoots at the RV and holds the travelers hostage inside. The sniper fatally shoots an elderly couple that stop to help. Bloody shootings. Attack with a knife.

Ethnicity:
Mixed, Korean, Mexican, white, African American

The Haunting of Maddy Clare

A haunting spooky thriller!

Sarah Piper is alone in the world. She lives in a little apartment and works temporary jobs for a living. In 1920’s post-war England, live is dreary. Most young adult men have injuries from the war, physically and mentally and jobs aren’t easy to find. When the temp service calls her to assist an unfamiliar male writer, Alistair, Sarah is leery but accepts the meeting and eventually the job as his ghost research assistant. They travel to a haunted barn in a small town and meet the homeowner. Mrs. Clare has told Alistair about the haunting, the ghost Maddy, and that Maddy hates men and recently chased a vicar away who was trying to perform an exorcism. Alistair is hoping for actual evidence of a haunting or manifestation and Sarah just wants the job. Both of them become part of a horrible past tragedy and the terror the tragedy caused. A haunting, spooky thriller! 5 stars!

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

A perfect mystery thriller!

Emma remembers summer camp fifteen years ago when her three cabin mates disappeared. She’s now an artist and the three missing girls disappearing into the forest are the subject of most of her paintings. At her art show, the camp owner shows up, purchases one of her paintings and asks her to lunch. At lunch the next day, Emma is asked to be an art teacher to camp residents when it reopens. When she arrives she’s told the counselors are to pick a cabin to stay in with the campers, so Emma requests Dogwood, her old cabin. She’ll be the only adult in the cabin with three teens, Miranda, Krystal and Sasha. Emma is anxious about being back at the camp and every sight, sound and scent reminds her of fifteen years ago. When Miranda, Krystal and Sasha go missing, chaos erupts throughout the camp, accusations fly and the danger has just begun. A perfect mystery thriller, 5 stars!

It Ends In Fire by Andrew Shvarts

4 stars for the writing and intensity of the story!

Sixteen-year-old Alka tricks a group of thieves into stopping a wagon for her. They think the wagon holds treasure but it holds a Wizard that is the senator’s powerful daughter. Alka wants revenge on the Wizards for killing her parents ten years ago and Lady Alayne is the key. After dueling with Alayne, Alka retrieves Alayne’s invitation to Blackwater Academy of Magic so she can go in her place and infiltrate the Wizard power. The next chapter explains what happened to Alka’s parents. Wizards arrive at their home so seven-year-old Alka and her six-year-old sister Sera hide under the floorboards like their parents told them to. Their father, Petyr, admits he’s a rebel to save his wife but the Enforcers kill them both. But before Petyr dies, he tells his daughters to run and then he sets off an explosion to kill the Wizards. Alka’s childhood ended that day. Her world completely changed. Now, she travels to Blackwater Academy to take Alayne’s place and exact her revenge. Fylmonela Potts befriends Alka and the two form an alliance preparing for the intense competitive Blackwater Academy where one third of the students will drop out or die instead of graduating. At the opening ceremony, Alka sees the man who killed her parents, Magnus Aberdeen, headmaster of Blackwater Academy. After a failed attempt to get close to Aberdeen, Alka meets the exchange student Prince Talyn Ravensgale IV. The story continues to alternate between young Alka and the present Alka, when she’s at Blackwater. She pretends to mess up a Glyph that distracts Aberdeen and the entire class so she can steal the last four Glyph pages from the master codex of the wizard spells to keep and learn on her own. She wants to be the most powerful so she can take down the wizards. When she was being trained by rebels, she was told not to feel remorse for killing wizards or others who stand in the way of her mission. Despite that, Alka gains allies and friends and when their order competes in a school challenge, they try a daring stunt to beat the competition. This makes the ruling order angry but the rest of the school feels empowered. The second challenge doesn’t go down as planned and when a friend dies, Alka knows the end is coming. She’s got to make a plan that will take the biggest toll of all. 4 stars for the writing and the intensity. Similar to a Harry Potter outline.

Final Girls by Riley Sager

I was glued to the pages of this book!

Quincy is the lone survivor of a serial killing spree, therefore she’s a final girl. She knows two other final girls from completely different murder scenes, Lisa and Samantha. Lisa wrote a book about her experience and went on to become a psychologist to help others cope and overcome trauma. When Quincy hears that Lisa committed suicide, she has a hard time understanding or believing it. Samantha has disappeared or at least kept herself hidden from the public until she arrives to visit Quincy with concerns of her own. The lives of the three final girls become intertwined and complicated beyond what should be a logical possibility. Final Girls kept me glued to the pages and it didn’t disappoint! A mystery thriller worth every moment spent reading it, 5 stars!