Eventide by Sarah Goodman

Eventide by Sarah Goodman

Thank you Tor Books for sending me a free copy of Eventide in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

I don’t read much YA, I usually just mix it in as a palette cleanser. I guess I don’t expect much from YA, the stories are pretty linear and the writing can be simplistic, but that’s ok. It really is! However, Eventide did not fall prey to the typical traits of a YA novel. It was much more sophisticated and I really enjoyed it!

The plot follows two orphaned sisters as they step off the orphan train in a small town and are unexpectedly split up, being taken by different families. That alone was enough for me to want to keep reading. But as their lives go in different directions, a mystery surrounding the girls’ parents arrises, making the book even more compelling. Some witch craft makes an appearance towards the end to tie everything together, and the result is a very well done historical fiction novel!

I really like the witch crafts elements, which were well done. If you’re instantly thinking of the typical fantasy tropes common in YA, think again. Eventide’s magic is more of the folklore variety and fit in perfectly with the time and setting. Oh, and it’s not scary, so it would make a perfect spooky fall book for anyone who doesn’t like scary! I do, but was still able to enjoy this book!

Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens

Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens

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Nothing More Dangerous is the first stand alone novel from Allen Eskens, one of my favorite authors out there right now!  This novel is off of his usual path of crime fiction but it did not disappoint.

Synopsis:

In a small Southern town where loyalty to family and to “your people” carries the weight of a sacred oath, defying those unspoken rules can be a deadly proposition.

After 15 years of growing up in the Ozark hills with his widowed mother, high-school freshman Boady Sanden is beyond ready to move on. He dreams of glass towers and cityscapes, driven by his desire to be anywhere other than Jessup, Missouri. The new kid at St. Ignatius High School, if he isn’t being pushed around, he is being completely ignored. Even his beloved woods, his playground as a child and his sanctuary as he grew older, seem to be closing in on him, suffocating him.

Then Thomas Elgin moves in across the road, and Boady’s life begins to twist and turn. Coming to know the Elgins – a black family settling into a community where notions of “us” and “them” carry the weight of history – forces Boady to rethink his understanding of the world he’s taken for granted. Secrets hidden in plain sight begin to unfold: the mother who wraps herself in the loss of her husband, the neighbor who carries the wounds of a mysterious past that he holds close, the quiet boss who is fighting his own hidden battle.

But the biggest secret of all is the disappearance of Lida Poe, the African-American woman who keeps the books at the local plastics factory. Word has it that Ms. Poe left town, along with a hundred thousand dollars of company money. Although Boady has never met the missing woman, he discovers that the threads of her life are woven into the deepest fabric of his world.

As the mystery of her fate plays out, Boady begins to see the stark lines of race and class that both bind and divide this small town – and he will be forced to choose sides.

My Review:

This book is really something special.  I have heard it being compared to the likes of To Kill A Mockingbird and I completely agree!  The racial tension was palpable and also really eye opening.  It’s a reminder that it’s not enough to just treat others with respect and kindness: you have to stand up when you see someone being wronged as well.

This wasn’t a fast, roaring mystery/thriller, but more of a slowly building tension that made the last third of the book fly by!  And the pace really matched the setting and characters of 1970’s  southern Missouri. It made it feel more realistic and heartfelt. The reader is able to really grow to love the characters and understand their choices. Part coming of age story, part mystery, part racial injustice story, Nothing More Dangerous is a book I highly recommend to just about anyone. 

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

5915C6B4-7942-48D9-9560-13C99F7C4B5BThank you to Berkley books for providing me with a free copy of The Sun Down Motel in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

My Review:

This book has been getting a lot of hype, early readers are loving it!  I can tell you that I am right there with them, The Sun Down Motel is a very fun read and definitely deserving of all the attention it’s getting!

My favorite part of this novel is the setting, so much revolves around the motel and I felt like it was a character in it’s own rite. St. James included The Sun Down Motel in so much of the story that it took on it’s own ominous personality. That alone makes this a very unique book and one that I think will stick with me for a long time.

The only critique I have is about a little redundancy in the dual story lines.  Viv in 1982 is chasing the path of a serial killer, then Carly in 2017 followed a lot of the same leads trying to find her aunt so at times it felt like reading some parts twice.

However, this was a very enjoyable read for me overall. I was pulled in right from the start with the chapters alternating between past and present. The ghosts were creepy (though I was not scared by them) and everything came full circle very nicely. I recommend this to anyone who likes a mystery or ghost story,.  Very well done!

After Nightfall by A.J. Banner

After Nightfall by A.J. Banner

F9B3AD0F-6D6F-4F6F-B5E2-E6CD1B224684Thank you to Amazon Publishing for sending me a free copy of After Nightfall in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis from Amazon:

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

My review:

After Nightfall definitely falls into the caregory of ‘domestic thriller’ so fans of Lianne Moriarty will really love this one. Unfortunately, I did not. This is a short novel so it’s a super fast read, but I also think the short length caused a lack of depth in the characters. I wasn’t really able to relate to any of them. The writing itself is well done and the pacing is good so I was wondering what would happen and was still turning pages. In the end, this novel was a little too much on the domestic side of domestic thrillers and I am just not crazy about that.

Overall, I simply was not the right reader for this book. I’m going to rate After Nightfall at two stars becuase it wasn’t bad but it was just underdeveloped overall for my taste.

The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter

The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter

31F99F77-414E-4220-B3B3-5DE73555A665Wow this book was a wild ride and extremely well written.  In a nutshell, this novel is about Megan Ashley, a young woman investigating the setting that inspired her mother’s cult classic novel Kitten, a creepy murder mystery. The book was inspired by and takes place at Bonny Island, off the coast of Georgia. While there, Megan uncovers so many truths and untruths she doesn’t know what to believe and the further she digs for information, the more Kitten seems to contain more fact that fiction.

Ok, I think I really loved this one.  I kept getting Flowers in the Attic vibes with the mommy issues and creepy old mansion hiding secrets. A full cast of unreliable characters made this one twisty ride of a novel. I thought the pacing was perfection, I almost want to call this a slow burn, because there is so much build up but I think the pace was very steady and it made this book hard to put down. A great thriller/mystery that I think just about anyone could enjoy, I give this one five out of five stars!

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

2A61D9CA-C561-46CF-957C-AC59FB60D02FIn the summer of 1986, strange things start happening in the small town where Eddie and his four buddies live: a freak accident at the fair, a strange new neighbor and a dead girl. The boys had been drawing chalk symbols at each other’s homes as a fun way to communicate with each other.  However, everything changes the day that chalk images and arrows direct the boys to the park where they find the dismembered body of a girl from their town. In present time, three of the four boys, now men, still live in the same town and all have received an unsigned letter in the mail with only a drawing of a chalk man on it.  When their estranged fourth friend shows up, they begin to wonder what is going on and if the horrors from that summer are coming back to haunt them.

This novel is told in alternating time periods of past and present until they both meet for the conclusion. I liked this aspect and I liked reading about a group of four 12 year old buddies hanging out on summer break. I was getting ‘Stand By Me’ vibes and even a little ‘Stranger Things’ without the aliens. I am an 80’s baby so I liked reading these sections. I liked the conclusion and ending of this book, but I had some issues with the plot.  I felt like it was a little loose and I was about 100 pages in and was still unsure of what the problem was.  A crime is alluded to, then a murder is alluded to, and it’s not until page 175 that we even find out who got murdered.  The ending tied up all the loose ends nicely, but the first two thirds of the book didn’t have enough focus for me. Overall, I liked it, but because of the lack of direction, I don’t feel like I got immersed in this book enough and I don’t feel like it will stay with me. I give it 3/5 stars.