Horrid by Katrina Leno

Book provided by Owlcrate // ARC provided by The NOVL in exchange for an honest review

It’s been a while since I’ve read a genuinely spooky YA book, and Horrid did not disappoint. I always love a book where the focal point is an ominous house. In this case we have North Manor, a family mansion in Maine that has sat empty for two years until a mother and daughter move in. The mother grew up in this manor, but something has made her never want to go back. But due to some unfortunate circumstances, she and her teenage daughter have to live there now.

We follow Jane, the daughter, and how she quickly figures out there’s something very… strange about this home: the tapping, the creaking, the sudden appearance of random objects. But we also learn Jane has problems with anger and how to deal with it. This book deeply delves into the topics of mental health, and how certain conditions can be passed genetically, and how it is handled and portrayed in the book may not be the best way.

So that leads me into this: there’s some unreliable narrator territory going on, which isn’t usually my cup of tea. But in this case Leno so perfectly toed the line between reality and the paranormal. Leno is also the master at crafting such atmospheric books. I truly felt like I was transported to Maine on a chilly, autumnal day. And if I’m being totally honest, the mother-daughter vibes I got reminded me a bit of Rory and Lorelai Gilmore (but of course, this being much darker!)

I really enjoyed the reading experience SO much, and I fully recommend this book especially during the spooky season!

TW: pica (a disorder that makes people want to eat things that aren’t food), death of parent, death of family members, mention of overdosing, bullying, child abuse, animal abuse.

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#FridayFrightAThon 2019 Announcement!

Spooky and dark foggy forest at dusk

Hi, friends! I’m so excited to announce that we are bringing back FridayFrightAThon this year! Come join me, Melanie, Jen, and Chelsea as we buddy read four books during the month of October.

So, what is FridayFrightAThon? Every Friday in October we will pick up one thriller to read together. We’ll use the hashtag #FridayFrightAThon on Instagram and Twitter to chat about our thoughts and progress. Feel free to join us in reading one book or all four!

The Schedule:

Friday October 4th: American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan (Note: this is our only non-fiction pick.)

Friday October 11th: The Whisper Man by Alex North

Friday October 18th: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Friday October 25th: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

Your Hosts:

Amy (that’s me!) @ A Court of Crowns and Quills

Melanie @ Meltotheany

Jen @ Pinot & Pages

Chelsea Palmer

We are so excited and hope you’ll join us this year for round 2!



Ninth House (Ninth House Series, #1) by Leigh Bardugo


ARC obtained from BookExpo in exchange for an honest review.

I really think this is going to be one of those books you’ll either love or hate. Fans of Bardugo will pick up on how perfectly she personifies each character, but please be warned, this is not young adult. This book is very much about healing from past traumas while trying to also survive in a society that’s filled with so much death and darkness.

I will say that I was a bit confused in the beginning because this book jumps a lot between two timelines (the past winter, and the present which is spring.) We follow Alex, a girl who attends Yale University and ends up being recruited into a secret society. Alex has a supernatural ability which makes her a unique society member of Lethe House. Yale also has eight other secret societies where each one deals with their own paranormal/supernatural “specialties.” We get glimpses into each society and learning about them was interesting, yet a bit tedious, at times for me.

The murder of a local woman sets the story in motion as Alex suspects one of the societies is involved. But she’s also dealing with the disappearance of her friend and society “mentor”, Darlington. The story weaves both mysteries together, and at times it would be a bit too slow for my liking. However, I was so immersed in the dark mysteries surrounding the cases and the occult that I still enjoyed reading this very much!

Honestly, I would rate the overall story itself four stars. But once we began peeling back the layers of Alex and Darlington’s characters… I just fell in love with the book. The characters are so well written and, in true Bardugo fashion, their backstories really punched me in the gut. Also? There are ghosts. So that’s major bonus points for me!

I found myself very slowly chipping away at this book just so I could absorb all the information about the societies. But also please use caution as the themes are very dark and heavy. Bardugo said she wrote about her own experiences (and that this book is her way of healing) and she is valid and unapologetic. She does not hold back.

Trigger/content warnings: rape of a minor, drug use, cutting, bullying, gore/medical procedures, sexual assault of a minor, sexual acts under the influence of magic/drugs, parental neglect/abandonment, talks of cancer.


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The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda


One of my goals in 2019 is to read more thrillers, and so far I… haven’t been fully reaching that goal. But it’s okay! I’m excited to keep slowly chipping away at my thriller collection. Of course, it would probably help if I stopped adding more to said collection. Ha.

So here’s a prime example of “cool cover with pretty font” that caught my attention. Yep, I decided to stock up on Megan Miranda’s books. I just finished The Perfect Stranger. It’s the first book I decided to read from this author. I understand her debut, All the Missing Girls (which I have NOT yet read), has raving reviews. So I was a bit worried how The Perfect Stranger was going to be. But I’m always up for reading a book with polarizing reviews!


This book follows Leah, a woman who was shunned out of her town due to mysterious circumstances that relates to her job as a reporter. She moves into a rural area in western Pennsylvania with an old college friend, Emmy. Leah wants a fresh start, and begins working as a high school teacher. But then someone turns up dead, and then Emmy disappears. Leah’s journalist-instincts kick in, which soon gets her involved in the investigation.

And it was… just okay? First let me explain what I appreciated about this book. There are SEVERAL mysteries going on at once. I won’t explain them all to avoid spoilers, but Leah gets pulled in a million directions when one mystery leads to another. And not only are there mysteries happening in the present timeline, but there are dark secrets that are revealed from Leah’s past, too. I enjoyed how multi-layered this story was and how Leah didn’t stop until she got answers.

The biggest thing that bothered me, though, was the sheer volume of victim blaming. I’m so tired of reading books that always paint women to be hysterical/unreliable/emotional/crazy. I get it – this is something that we still have to face in the real world. Women are still painted in this light. And it sucks. And it feels bad. The white male privilege in this book is SO prevalent that I was just getting more annoyed. It just reinforces the notion that you can be a white male in a position of power, and be able to get away with anything. (Don’t worry, not a spoiler. It’s just a constant theme.)

It also took me a long time to get into this author’s writing style. At times the writing felt a bit disjointed. This makes me a bit nervous to read her other works, but I’m still planning to give them a shot.

Overall, it’s an okay book. It’s a quiet book in terms of “thrill-factor.” So if that’s not your thing, then you may want to skip this one. I guess, for me personally, it wasn’t a very memorable read.


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My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing


Every once in a while you come across a thriller that just sticks with you… and wow, this was the one!

I know rating and reviewing thrillers can be such a mixed bag because everyone has their own levels of comfort when it comes to the violence depicted, or perhaps you’re just really good at guessing the twists (which is a good or bad thing depending on your preference.)

My Lovely Wife exceeded my expectations when it came down to two things: The serial killer plot line, and the pacing. Really, I’m just a sucker for serial killer stories, I guess!

We follow a married couple who, in truth, are both quite terrible people. The story is told from the husband’s perspective, which I particularly enjoyed because I feel like most of the thrillers I pick up tend to be from the woman’s POV. I enjoyed being his mind and seeing his truly fucked up relationship with his wife, Millicent.

Millicent is a real estate agent but she has a darker secret: She murders people. Her husband helps lure the victims, and then Millicent is the executioner. But in order to cover up their trail of murders, they both decide to resurrect a famous serial killer named Owen. By copying Owen’s MO and using his name to taunt the police, they are able to get away with their own crimes.

But in true thriller fashion, things don’t go quiet according to plan. Y’all, I immensely enjoyed the ride and just how well written everything was! All the clues and bread crumbs fell into place, and I was left feeling so satisfied with the ending.

However, I do want to mention that if you’re not a fan of thrillers that depict torture/violence then this may not be your cup of tea. It’s clear the author pulled lots of inspiration from true crime cases (particularly that of serial killers from our past) that you are going to notice some similarities.

Another thing I want to mention is that while this book is marketed as “Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” I wouldn’t say that is quite… true. It errs more on the Dexter side of things, but the Mr. and Mrs. Smith analogy is a bit of a joke. Our married duo in this book are not trained assassins. They’re not hired to go around killing other people. They’re just two people who have a very fucked up relationship and quite frankly, they’re both shitty people.

Nonetheless, I loved this thriller so much, and I hope you’ll pick it up, too! I truly couldn’t put it down.


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Lock Every Door by Riley Sager


ARC obtained from BookExpo

I always love a good thriller or horror novel that stars one of my favorite characters: The house itself. The house is its own ominous being, exuding so much negative energy with its sordid past that it consumes the main characters. It’s why I’m always keen for stories in the likes of American Horror Story (Murder House), The Haunting of Hill House, and, albeit non-fiction, the murder castle of H.H. Holmes.

While Lock Every Door is not paranormal, and I wouldn’t call it horror either, the same concept is there: The house these people live in has a bloody past, and now history may be repeating itself.

But instead of a house, we are introduced to The Bartholomew: a 44-room luxury apartment building in New York City. Getting to live in The Bartholomew is nearly impossible. It’s highly exclusive; only reserved for the rich and famous who value their privacy.

Jules Larsen is out of a job and recently broke up with her cheating boyfriend. She answers an ad in the newspaper to apartment-sit for three months. The job is pretty simple: be a temporary tenant at The Bartholomew. The previous owner passed away, and while the next of kin are fighting over who inherits the apartment, they want someone to take care of it for them. Jules knows this is too good to be true, but she can’t pass up the opportunity to live in a luxury NYC apartment AND get paid to do it.

We are introduced to The Bartholomew’s tenants; who range from actresses, authors, politicians, and physicians. Jules has to follow some strict rules such as not bothering the other tenants, no visitors, and she must sleep in the apartment every single night. But Jules knows something is amiss when one of the other apartment sitters disappears.

I truly had so much fun reading this book. I devoured it in 24 hours. I found Jules to be somewhat annoying and, of course, made some questionable decisions throughout the book. But it was such a damn page-turner, and I love how history and legends were a driving force in this book. I find Riley Sager’s style of writing so easy to follow, and everything flows beautifully on the page. The thriller element was superb in this one. While I thought I had things figured out, I was led in an entirely different direction.

I also want to mention that I particularly enjoyed learning about Jules’s past, too. Without giving anything away, there’s a bit of a mystery involving her family. It’s sad and gut-wrenching. So be prepared for that!

I’m sure you seasoned thriller-readers may be able to guess some of the twists. I did, but it was such a fun ride and I loved thinking back to all the bread crumbs I totally missed. Now things make even more sense! I know I’m being vague but I want to stop here so I don’t spoil anything. Please pick up this book if you want a thriller that stars a mysterious apartment with a spooky past!


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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides


Goodreads Synopsis:

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

I’m quite surprised by how much I loved this? Honestly, I went in pretty much blind. I avoided all the reviews. I didn’t overthink it. I didn’t try to over analyze everything. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. I really felt like this book has the perfect blend of darkness, mystery, and twists.

I can see why some people may have not liked this book, and if you read a ton of thrillers, then you may think this book was just okay. I took a break from thrillers but I made it my goal to read more thrillers this year. The Silent Patient was a great start for me, and I really do recommend this book if you’re wanting something dark and fast paced. Also, I think it really helps that the chapters were so short, because it truly made the reading fly by!

So here are the basics: Alicia is arrested for shooting her husband in the face several times. She doesn’t provide an explanation, and she remains silent throughout the entire investigation process and trial. So she’s sentenced to a psychiatric hospital called the Grove, where she continues to remain silent for the next six years — until psychotherapist Theo joins the staff, and he wants to help Alicia speak once again.

What I wasn’t expecting was this book to be (almost) entirely from Theo’s perspective. And while there are bits of Alicia’s journal entries sprinkled throughout the book, we get a lot of investigative work as Theo tries to dig up Alicia’s past and follow any breadcrumbs that could expose Alicia’s motives.

And even if you were able to predict the twists and outcome, I still felt like it was a rabbit hole that was well formulated, and the path we took to the conclusion was superbly done. I also loved how Greek mythology and art was a strong theme throughout this book.

Some things that I did find bothersome was the use of ableist terms such as “crazy” when referring to patients in the Grove. I know that’s expected in a psychological thriller that takes place in a psychiatric hospital, but please use caution if mental illness topics is a trigger for you. Also Theo likes to mention how he wants to “fix” Alicia, which is just language I find gross.

I also want to note that I listened to this book on audio and read along the book at the same time. I loved the cast in the audiobook and I truly felt like that overall enhanced my reading experience. Plus, Louise Brealey is the voice of Alicia, and I loved her so much from Sherlock (BBC)!

Possible spoilers (but not really) in trigger warnings below.


Trigger warnings: ableist terms such as “crazy”, talks of suicide, mental illness, depression, stalking, cheating, loss of a parent, abuse from a parent.


Buddy read with Stephanie and Amber!

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No Exit by Taylor Adams


Goodreads Synopsis:

A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath.

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

With exquisitely controlled pacing, Taylor Adams diabolically ratchets up the tension with every page. Full of terrifying twists and hairpin turns, No Exit will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you breathless.

Okay, I had a really hard time deciding what to rate this book. I was sitting at 4-stars for a while but then things got a bit too outlandish for my liking.

I will say, this book is incredibly fast paced and doesn’t hold back any punches. And the trigger warnings. Lots and lots of trigger warnings. I feel like that’s pretty much a guarantee when it comes to a thriller, but just use caution if things like child abuse/sexual abuse are big triggers for you.

We follow Darby, a college student driving to Utah to visit her sick mother in the hospital. While she’s driving through Colorado she gets stuck in a blizzard and has no choice but to pull into a rest stop to wait it out. There are a few other people stuck there as well. They mostly keep to themselves, but soon they realize the weather isn’t going to let up, and without a cell signal, they have to prepare to stay the night. Small talk ensues, card games are played, but Darby doesn’t let her guard down.

Then while she’s outside in the parking lot she discovers a horrific scene: inside the trunk of a van is a cage, and inside the cage is a little girl. So, who inside the rest area is responsible for this nightmare?

This really is such a page turner, and if you’re a fan of a small cast stuck in one place (a la Agatha Christie) then this is the book for you. I really love whodunnits where everyone is trapped in a room and we must figure out the mystery. It’s like a game of Clue. But in reality this book was more like a gory, murder-infused-rage game of Clue. Sounds kind of fun, right?

Well, let’s just say the “bad guy” was really over the top, moving straight into campy mode. I don’t really mind gore or disturbing crime topics, but I expect them to actually be written well and to… have a point. The “bad guy” here was so careless, cheesy, and had zero plan of action. It was such a mess.

I think this book would’ve been better adapted into a movie. On the page, it just didn’t wow me like I expected it to. But I do recommend this book if you’re looking for a fast paced thriller that will leave you wanting to keep reading once you finish a chapter. It really will hook you in!


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You Owe Me a Murder by Eileen Cook


ARC provided by HMH in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Kim gets more than she bargained for when she is set up for murder. Perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying, E. Lockhart, and Gillian Flynn.

17-year-old Kim never expected to plot a murder. But that was before her boyfriend dumped her for another girl. Now, Kim’s stuck on a class trip to London with him and his new soulmate and she can’t help wishing he was a little bit dead, even if she’d never really do that.

But when Kim meets Nicki, a stranger on the plane who’s more than willing to listen to Kim’s woes, things start to look up. Nicki’s got a great sense of humor, and when she jokes about swapping murders, Kim plays along—that is, until Kim’s ex-boyfriend mysteriously dies.

Blackmailed by Nicki to fulfill her end of the deal, Kim will have to commit a murder or take the fall for one.

I knew I had to read this the second I found out Eileen Cook was releasing a new book! I have been a fan for a very long time, and I love how Eileen’s books always incorporate a thrilling/mysterious theme.

You Owe Me a Murder follows a similar type of story in line with Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith, which was then made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock. The format goes like this: Two strangers meet, in this case, on a plane. One person expresses that they want someone in their life *gone*, and the other person expresses the same wish. Together they formulate the perfect crime; they swap murders so the crime cannot be linked to themselves.

We first meet Kim, a high school student sitting in an airport waiting on her flight to London. She’s traveling with a small group of students on a 2 week study-abroad, but she’s not in good spirits because her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend are going, too. Noticing how lonely Kim is, Nicki, a stranger, sits beside Kim and they form a sudden kinship. Soon they’re both getting tipsy on stolen vodka on the plane, and they both express how much they’re hurting: Nicki claims her alcoholic mother is ruining her life, while Kim is angry with her ex, Connor. Nicki convinces Kim to write down all the reasons Connor “should die”, and in her drunken stupor, Kim agrees. Then the conversation turns serious and Nicki asks Kim to kill her mother. Kim is stunned, but doesn’t agree to it.

When Kim wakes up from her vodka-induced sleep, the plane has landed in London and Nicki is gone. Thinking it was all just a silly conversation, Kim continues on her school trip — until early on, Connor ends up dead and Kim finds a horrifying note linking Nicki to his death.

Kim also pairs up with a cute boy named Alex, and an insta-love romance blooms. I actually don’t mind insta-love tropes, but one thing that I wasn’t really fond of was when things went into… “unreliable narrator territory.” There are some twists that throw Kim under the unreliable narrator bus, and I just wasn’t loving it. I was also getting frustrated by how poorly Kim was handling everything and how unrealistic Nicki was as a “villain.”

However, I also want to talk about WHY I think Kim reacted the way she did. Sure, it may have annoyed me, but it’s also important to remember that she was in a foreign country, and we all know what happens when young American women start to fall under suspicion by law enforcement. (*Cough* Can we say Amanda Knox? Which, by the way, I feel is now a good time to boost With Malice, because Eileen Cook drew lots of inspiration from Knox’s case for that book.)

But I always enjoy a good whodunnit mystery, and I loved how their investigative adventures took them all over London. I will forever read anything Eileen writes because she has such a knack for writing amazing YA plots and characters. I am always a sucker for any books that take place in Europe.

I think if you want something more adult, then I’d recommend picking up The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. The strangers-meet-to-swap-murders set-up is similar but with more mature content. But I truly think You Owe Me a Murder is great for younger readers, and it has just the right amount of murder, adventure, and romance!

Trigger warnings: Talks of suicide, alcoholism, cheating, stalking, death of child.


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Blog Tour: In Another Life by C.C. Hunter


ARC provided by Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review.

Title: In Another Life

Author: C.C. Hunter

Pages: 352

Genre: YA Contemporary, Mystery

Publication Date: March 26, 2019

Goodreads Synopsis:

Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her.

When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth.

As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?

This was my first time reading a book by C.C. Hunter and I am definitely intrigued and would love to read more! I am always drawn to mysteries, but sometimes YA mysteries can be a hit or miss for me. However, I really did enjoy this book so much, and although I had a few issues with some of the characters, I really think fans of young romance mixed with a hard-hitting mystery would enjoy this book.

This book follows two POVs: Chloe and Cash. Chloe has a strained relationship with both of her adoptive parents. Her father had an affair and is dating someone new, while her mother is a cancer survivor struggling with depression.

Then there’s Cash, a “mysterious” and “tough” character who enters Chloe’s life when he suspects she might be someone else. Cash is also a foster child living with a married couple, the Fullers. Chloe and Cash’s worlds come together when Cash recognizes Chloe in a missing person’s age progression photo. He thinks she may be the Fuller’s missing child.

This story had a lot going on from the get-go: Chloe and Cash have an insta-love budding romance, Chloe is her mom’s caretaker, Chloe is constantly fighting with her father, Cash has a strained relationship with his foster parents, and then there’s the big mystery of who exactly is Chloe Holden?

While this book starts off feeling more like a contemporary, it quickly turned into a mystery as pieces of the adoption and kidnapping came into play. I also really appreciated how such hard-hitting topics were woven into this story. Cash has an extremely tragic past, and even though he’s with a wonderful foster family, he feels immense guilt for being there.

I think what made me lower my rating a bit on this book was how much Chloe had to act like the adult and caretaker for everyone. Not only was she still struggling with her parent’s divorce and her father’s infidelity, but she also became the sole caretaker for her mother during her cancer treatments. And while I completely understand depression is horrible, I was so mad at her mother for how she treated Chloe. Her mother clearly needed professional help but kept piling her anger toward her ex-husband on to her child. I just… felt really, really uncomfortable reading those scenes.

But I really did love Cash so much. He was trying so hard to do the right thing, and I really liked how his and Chloe’s relationship bloomed. And I really felt for Chloe. I couldn’t even imagine being in her position, let alone finding out I might possibly be a kidnapped child? Like, how would I even begin to process that information?

I really enjoyed how the mystery played out and I was second-guessing a lot of things until the very end. And I found the ending soooo satisfying!

Trigger/content warnings: Cancer, divorce, infidelity, kidnapping, child abuse, depression.

About the author:

CC Hunter_Author Photo

C.C. HUNTER is a pseudonym for award-winning romance author Christie Craig. She is lives in Tomball, Texas, where she’s at work on her next novel.