The Stowaway by James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth

Audio Narrated by Barrie Kreinik

Description from the Publisher through Netgalley

From writer, producer, and actor best known as “Murr” on the hit television shows Impractical Jokers and The Misery Index, James S. Murray, and co-writer Darren Wearmouth, comes The Stowaway, a suspenseful masterpiece that leaves a cruise ship stranded at sea with a serial killer hiding aboard.

Two years ago, Maria Fontana, the head of the Psychology Department at Columbia University, sat on a jury for one of the most depraved cases ever to pass through the hallowed halls of City Hall. Wyatt Butler, an antique watch restorer and alleged serial killer, was portrayed in the courtroom as a brutal monster. But Maria had to make the tough choice. In good conscience, she couldn’t convict him based purely on circumstantial evidence, and her deciding vote set Wyatt Butler free. The media soon outed her as the lone juror and her successful and quaint life was turned upside down. The victims of Wyatt’s ritualistic killings never forgave her either.

Now, she and her family have decided to take a vacation to get away from everything: a two-week-long transatlantic cruise. Nothing, and nobody should be able to bother her there. With her two twins and her fiancé Steve, she is set to put the past behind her as soon as the ship leaves port. But when a passenger mysteriously disappears, Maria is left to wonder if maybe this was no coincidence. When another passenger is discovered brutally murdered in a similar way to Butler’s ritualistic MO, the ship goes on lockdown.

Maria, one of only twelve people in the world with intimate knowledge of the case, faces a perilous ticking clock. Is it a copycat? Or is she trapped on board with the bloodthirsty maniac she chose to set free?

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin’s Press

“Murray and Wearmouth’s latest thriller THE STOWAWAY is a riveting high-seas game of cat and mouse. It’s Agatha Christie crossed with James Patterson. If you’re nervous about taking a cruise now, you’ll be terrified after this read. Pick up a copy and enjoy the thrill ride.”—James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestseller of The Last Odyssey

“Trapped on a cruise ship with a twisted murderer onboard. Intense horror. Frightening suspense. A true mystery. Lots of twists and turns. What more could you want? This is my kind of book!”–R.L. Stine, author of Goosebumps and Fear Street

My Review

When I saw that this book was written by Murr, I had to seize the opportunity to listen to it. I had no idea that James S. Murray had co-authored several books in the past. This book’s description seemed right in my wheelhouse.

If you listen to audiobooks, I highly recommend that you listen to this one. The narrator did an excellent job distinguishing between the characters’ voices and the story itself was excellent. It had the perfect mix of gruesome horror and mystery thriller. The fact that it takes place on a cruise ship with no way off the boat adds a level of fear that I haven’t come across in a long time.

I gave this book 5 crowns.

I received this Audio ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

Indie Next Selection | Buzz Books Selection | POPSUGAR “Best New Books of October” | CountryLiving “Best New Books for This Fall” | Atlanta Journal-Constitution “10 Must Read Southern Books This Fall” | Booklist Queen “Most Anticipated”

From Patti Callahan, the bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis, comes another enchanting story that pulls back the curtain on the early life of C. S. Lewis.

“Where did Narnia come from?”

The answer will change everything.

Megs Devonshire is brilliant with numbers and equations, on a scholarship at Oxford, and dreams of solving the greatest mysteries of physics.

She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the younger brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse.

Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, imploring them for answers. What she receives instead are more stories . . . stories of Jack Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George.

Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know? The answer will reveal to Meg many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.

Praise for Once Upon a Wardrobe:

“I advise you to read this book, then wait for a while and then read it again, for while it may not be Narnia, there is magic in it.” —Douglas Gresham, C. S. Lewis’s stepson

“Exquisitely heartfelt, Once Upon a Wardrobe is a love letter to the magic of stories. I call it the Callahan Effect—from the first page to the last, Patti Callahan’s wise and beautiful prose draws you in and doesn’t let you go.” —Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author

“With a touch of fairy-tale magic, Once Upon a Wardrobe will take you behind the legend and deep into the English and Irish countryside, where you’ll encounter not only the inspirations for one of the 20th century’s most beloved works, but also a tale of heartache, hope, and discovery that will forever change the Narnia you thought you knew.” —Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling authorNew York Time bestselling authorAlso by Patti Callahan: Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Surviving SavannahIncludes discussion questions for book clubs as well as a note from Douglas Gresham, C. S. Lewis’s stepson.

My Review

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is one of my favorite books. There is something very magical about the story that touches its readers at their core. This book takes that beloved story and digs deeper. It is a reimagining of the life of C.S. Lewis and the events that may have influenced the creation of Narnia.

Megs is a young college student that would do anything for her beloved but ill brother. When he takes a strong interest in the story The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Megs vows to get answers from C.S. Lewis himself to her brother’s questions before it is too late. Megs does what she can to speak with C.S. Lewis (Jack) who works at the same University. As she asks all of her brother’s questions, Jack tells her his life story.

This was such a beautiful novel and one that will stay with me forever. If you are a fan of C.S. Lewis, do not hesitate to get your hands on this.

I gave this book 5 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Litani by Jess Lourey

Publication Date: October 19, 2021

The Amazon Charts bestselling author of Unspeakable Things and Bloodline explores the darkness at the heart of the rural Midwest in a novel inspired by a chilling true crime.

In the summer of ’84, fourteen-year-old Frankie Jubilee is shuttled off to Litani, Minnesota, to live with her estranged mother, a county prosecutor she barely knows. From the start, Frankie senses something uneasy going on in the small town. The locals whisper about The Game, and her mother warns her to stay out of the woods and away from adults.

When a bullying gang of girls invites Frankie to The Game, she accepts, determined to find out what’s really going on in Litani. She’s not the only one becoming paranoid. Hysteria burns through the community. Dark secrets emerge. And Frankie fears that, even in the bright light of day, she might be living among monsters.

The Violent Season by Sara Walters

Happy Book Birthday!

Description from the Publisher through Netgalley

There is something terribly wrong in Wolf Ridge. Every November, every teen is overwhelmed with a hunger for violence…at least, that’s the urban legend.

After Wyatt Green’s mother was brutally murdered last Fall, she’s convinced that the November sickness plaguing Wolf Ridge isn’t just a town rumor that everyone ignores…it’s a palpable force infecting her neighbors. Wyatt is going to prove it, and find her mother’s murderer in the process. She digs up every past brutal act she can find from Wolf Ridge’s past – from car wrecks, suicides, and unnamed victims turning up in rivers—and even reaches out to an out-of-state journalist that seems to believe her. But all of her digging leads to nowhere. Everyone in Wolf Ridge accepts that the November sickness is real, and absolutely no one will talk about it.

As Wyatt’s best friend Cash turns on her, and her friend is almost killed in a tragic accident, Wyatt panics – how can she keep her friends safe, and find her mother’s murderer, when no one believes her?

As the evidence stars to disappear, Wyatt wonders: is she just imagining everything? Is the sickness real, or are the people of Wolf Ridge just naturally prone to doing bad things?

Can Wyatt and her friends come out of the Violent Season unscathed, or is one of them going to be the next victim?

My Review

Wyatt is convinced that there is a sickness that takes over her town every year in November that makes people crazy and leads them to do unspeakable things. Wyatt has been angry and fearful ever since her mother was murdered the year before. Her friend Cash has been her only source of comfort until a school project changes that.

This was a quick read and had an air of thriller vibes to it. I was definitely a YA read but it was well done. This was a great read for October.

I gave this book 4 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

Publication Date: September 21, 2021

Description from the Publisher

From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of the Three Dark Crowns series and Anna Dressed in Blood, this new standalone crime thriller was in part inspired by the Charlie Starkweather murders and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Perfect for fans of Courtney Summers, Karen McManus and Holly Jackson. Set in the 1950s, we begin with a lone victim, found on his front porch with his throat cut and his body drained of blood. By the time it’s over, the Bloodless Murders leave a trail of sixteen bodies littered across the Midwest, with no suspects and no witnesses. Only questions: how were the victims chosen? Why didn’t they fight? And where, where is all the blood? Michael Jensen yearns to become a journalist and escape his small-town life. When the Bloodless Murders come to sleepy Black Deer Falls, the only suspect in the case is found with them in the house that night: fifteen-year-old Marie Catherine Hale, unharmed but covered in blood. She claims the murderer abandoned her at the scene, and though her story is suspicious, no one believes her capable of committing the crimes on her own. When Marie refuses to talk to anyone but Michael, he agrees to record her side of the story. But how can he trust her confession when it calls into question everything that he holds to be true? Marie knows that her time is running out. But she chose Michael for a reason, and his search for answers gives her one last chance to tell her truth.  

My Review

This is my first time reading a book by Kendare Blake. While reading, I did forget that the timeline was set in the 1950s as there wasn’t much that created that setting. One of the main characters, Michael, seemed to be younger than he was supposed to be.

The story itself is more of a behind-the-scenes journalism project. There wasn’t much to the thriller component of this story. It read quickly and it was a good story but it wasn’t what I anticipated it to be.

Overall, I gave this book 3 crowns.

I received this E-ARC through Netgalley from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The Missing Hours by Julia Dahl

Publication Date: September 13, 2021

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

From the critically acclaimed author of Invisible City and ConvictionThe Missing Hours is a novel about obsession, privilege, and the explosive consequences of one violent act.

From a distance, Claudia Castro has it all: a famous family, a trust fund, thousands of Instagram followers, and a spot in NYU’s freshman class. But look closer, and things are messier: her parents are separating, she’s just been humiliated by a sleazy documentary, and her sister is about to have a baby with a man she barely knows.

Claudia starts the school year resolved to find a path toward something positive, maybe even meaningful – and then one drunken night everything changes. Reeling, her memory hazy, Claudia cuts herself off from her family, seeking solace in a new friendship. But when the rest of school comes back from spring break, Claudia is missing.

Suddenly, the whole city is trying to piece together the hours of that terrible night.

My Review

I am a fan of Julia Dahl’s other books and was so excited to see that she was releasing something new. I jumped at the opportunity to read an early copy of The Missing Hours. I am sorry to say that I was disappointed. Although the writing style did not disappoint, the storyline did.

The main premise of the story is a tough subject to tackle. Claudia as a main character wasn’t a likable one for me. Although I read this quickly, it felt a bit disjointed to me.

I could not give this book more than 2 stars.

I received this E-ARC from the Publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Necklace by Matt Witten

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

The clock ticks down in a heart-pounding crusade for justice

Susan Lentigo’s daughter was murdered twenty years ago—and now, at long last, this small-town waitress sets out on a road trip all the way from Upstate New York to North Dakota to witness the killer’s execution.

On her journey she discovers shocking new evidence that leads her to suspect the condemned man is innocent—and the real killer is still free. Even worse, her prime suspect has a young daughter who’s at terrible risk. With no money and no time to spare, Susan sets out to uncover the truth before an innocent man gets executed and another little girl is killed.

But the FBI refuses to reopen the case. They—and Susan’s own mother—believe she’s just having an emotional breakdown. Reaching deep, Susan finds an inner strength she never knew she had. With the help of two unlikely allies—a cynical, defiant teenage girl and the retired cop who made the original arrest—Susan battles the FBI to put the real killer behind bars. Will she win justice for the condemned man—and her daughter—at last?

Perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and Harlan Coben

Optioned for film—with Leonardo DiCaprio attached as producer

My Review

This is the first book that I read by Matt Witten and after looking into the author’s biography and finding out that he was a writer for screen productions, I can see why this book was so atmospheric. I found myself envisioning the scenes clearly and getting absorbed into the plot.

Although the nature of the crimes of this book were troublesome and not for everyone, I was captivated by the story and was in it until the end. This story had twists and turns and led to many visible facial expressions that my family witnessed.

If you can stomach the content, I highly recommend this fast-paced read.

I gave this book 4 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

A Library Reads Pick

June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way.

Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother.

Joining a band of eccentric yet dedicated locals in a campaign to keep the library, June opens herself up to other people for the first time since her mother died. It just so happens that her old school friend Alex Chen is back in town and willing to lend a helping hand. The kindhearted lawyer’s feelings for her are obvious to everyone but June, who won’t believe that anyone could ever care for her in that way.

To save the place and the books that mean so much to her, June must finally make some changes to her life. For once, she’s determined not to go down without a fight. And maybe, in fighting for her cherished library, June can save herself, too.

My Review

If you are an avid reader than I would assume that you have a love of libraries. Although this book takes place in the UK, maybe libraries around the world are threatened with losing funding. This story is about one such library but it is about so much more than that at the same time.

The library itself is just a building but it is what happens inside of that building that makes the library so very important. I adored each and every quirky character in this novel and instantly connected with them in some way. The debut novel is top-notch and I can’t wait to see what else Freya comes out with.

I gave this book 5 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the Publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward Audiobook and Physical Book Review

U.S. Publication Date: September 28, 2021

Description from the Publisher

Catriona Ward’s The Last House on Needless Street is a shocking and immersive listen perfect for fans of Gone Girl and The Haunting of Hill House.

“The new face of literary dark fiction.” —Sarah Pinborough, New York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes

“The buzz…is real. I’ve read it and was blown away. It’s a true nerve-shredder that keeps its mind-blowing secrets to the very end.” —Stephen King

In a boarded-up house on a dead-end street at the edge of the wild Washington woods lives a family of three.

A teenage girl who isn’t allowed outside, not after last time.
A man who drinks alone in front of his TV, trying to ignore the gaps in his memory.
And a house cat who loves napping and reading the Bible.

An unspeakable secret binds them together, but when a new neighbor moves in next door, what is buried out among the birch trees may come back to haunt them all.

A Macmillan Audio production from Tor Nightfire

Narrated by Christopher Ragland

“A chilling and beautiful masterpiece of suspense.” —Joe Hill, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2

My Review

If you don’t read any other part of my review but this, I would be okay. DO NOT READ SPOILERS FOR THIS BOOK. GO INTO IT BLINDLY!

I was able to both read and listen to ARCs of this book and, in complete honesty, I preferred the audio version over the actual reading experience. The narrator did an excellent job distinguishing between the characters’ voices and with the physical reading experience, it did not have the same impact.

When you do pick this book up in any format, stick with it through the end. You may feel the need to not finish this book however, it does come together in the end. Trigger warnings are aplenty in this book. Without giving anything away, I can say that this was not my favorite read of this type of novel.

Overall, I gave the audio format 3.5 crowns and the physical version 3 crowns.

I received these ARCs from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones

Publication Date: August 3, 2021

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

In the vein of the Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine Book Club pick The Other Woman, Sandie Jones’s explosive new novel The Guilt Trip will have listeners gripped to the very last chapter. A Macmillan Audio production from Minotaur Books.

They went away as friends.
They came back as suspects.

Rachel and Jack. Paige and Noah. Will and Ali. Five friends who’ve known each other for years. And Ali, Will’s new fiancée.

The three couples travel to Portugal for Ali and Will’s destination wedding. Arriving at the gorgeous clifftop villa, the weekend away is a chance to relax and get to know Ali a little better. A newcomer to their group, she seems perfectly nice and Will seems happy after years of bad choices.

But when Rachel discovers a shocking secret about Ali, everything changes. As the wedding weekend unfolds, the secrets each of them holds begin to spill, and friendships and marriages threaten to unravel.

In Sandie Jones’s explosive new suspense novel, jumping to conclusions can become the difference between life and death.

My Review

I have been able to read early copies of Sandie Jones’ latest releases and was excited to be approved for both the E-ARC and the Audiobook for this book.

I struggled with the audio of this book but I feel that it was because my focus wasn’t completely there. There were many characters that appeared at once and I had a hard time keeping them straight. Once I switched to the physical edition as was able to read it, I was fine. This was no fault of the narrator of the audio edition and strictly my own lack of attention.

The storyline was interesting as it dealt with adult topics that some may not want to read about. The characters did come off as a bit immature and obnoxious and this was not my favorite read from Sandie Jones. By no means was this a bad book, it had its twists and turns and startling conclusion. Overall, I gave this 3 crowns.

I received the E-ARC and the Audio ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.