Review: A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby

29241322A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby

Published September 27, 2016, by Scholastic Press.

YA > Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal


Fear the living more than the dead.

It’s London 1888, and Jack the Ripper is terrorizing the people of the city. Evelyn, a young woman disfigured by her dangerous work in a matchstick factory, who has nowhere to go, does not know what to make of her new position as a maid to the Elephant Man in the London Hospital. Evelyn wants to be locked away from the world, like he is, shut in from the filth and dangers of the streets. But in Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, she finds a gentle kindred who does not recoil from her and who understands her pain.

When the murders begin, however, Joseph and Evelyn are haunted nightly by the ghosts of the Ripper’s dead, setting Evelyn on a path to facing her fears and uncovering humanity’s worst nightmares.

Continue reading “Review: A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby”

Review: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

25639296The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

Published April 19, 2016, by Delacorte Press.

YA > Mystery, Thriller


The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

Continue reading “Review: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas”

Review, Author Q&A, and Giveaway: SANCTUARY BAY by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz


25663880Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: January 19th, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Blog Tour)
Genre(s): Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Synopsis from Goodreads:

In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson’s shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah’s new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this “school” is something much more sinister.

my rambles

Special thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review, and for the opportunity to be on the blog tour!

I’ve mentioned before that I have a love for books set at boarding schools. There’s always mystery, intrigue, and thrilling plotlines! Sanctuary Bay did not disappoint on those aspects, and in fact, there’s a completely unexpected element to the story that made me like it even more!

The prologue of the book sets the ball rolling in a flashback scene that is filled with action, and leaves you wondering what the HECK just happened. It’s quite a way to start off a story! With Chapter One, the story flashes forward to the main character, Summer, who is now in foster care after her parents’ murder. She’s on her way to Sanctuary Bay Academy, an isolated and mysterious institution where she’ll stay for the rest of her high school career.

Continue reading “Review, Author Q&A, and Giveaway: SANCTUARY BAY by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz”

Review: Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

24891517Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 29th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Gothic, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Synopsis from Goodreads:

After the untimely death of her aunt, Cecilia Cross is forced to return to Sanctuary, a rambling, old mansion that crowns a remote island off the coast of Maine. Cecilia is both drawn to and repulsed by Sanctuary. The scent of the ocean intoxicates her, but she’s also haunted by the ghosts of her past—of her father and sister who died there, of her mother who was torn away from her and sent to an asylum, and of the vengeful spirit of a woman wronged. Flooding memories leave Cecilia shaken, desperate to run away and forget her terrible family history.

But then a mysterious guest arrives at Sanctuary: Eli Bauer, a professor sent to examine Sanctuary’s library. Cecilia is intrigued by this strange young man who seems so interested in her—even more interested in her than in the books he is meant to be studying. Who is he and what does he want? Can Cecilia possibly trust her growing feelings for him? And can he help her make peace a tragic past and a haunted present?

Luminous and evocative, Sanctuary is a remarkable exploration of love and loss—and the ghosts that come back to haunt us.

my rambles

Special thanks to Scholastic for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

Sanctuary landed on my doorstep unsolicited, so prior to opening the package, I’d never heard of it before. I’m really happy it came into my possession though, because I quite enjoyed this book!

Very eerie, Sanctuary is one of the few Gothic YA books I’ve read. There are ghosts, and old mansion with an intriguing past, a creepy psychologist and asylum, and lots of family secrets. Sounds good, right? And it is! Not only were the elements Gothic-influenced, but the writing was beautiful. It added to the creepiness of the story and transported me back in time to both the current events of the book, and the flashbacks.

Sometimes books of this genre tend to drag in parts (for example I’m currently rereading Jane Eyre for my Lit class, and some parts are indeed slow). But for me, Sanctuary was well paced, and entertaining to the very, very end. The one foible I have with this book is that I found the chapters to have kind of abrupt endings. This won’t be a problem for someone picking up and putting down the book often, but as someone who read this in large chunks at a time, it was something I noticed. I would have liked it if the chapters flowed more, but that’s just my personal preference.

The mystery involved an interesting melding of history and paranormal. There was talk of witches, the history of Acadians from Nova Scotia, and the inclusion of ghosts, possession, and spirits. I liked how the book had lots of detail, but at times I got a bit confused. There’s also a lot of family relations that are talked about over generations, which was sometime difficult for me to follow. Much like I felt for the abrupt chapter endings, this didn’t really affect my overall liking of the book, though.

There is a bit of romance, because what’s a YA book without romance these days, right?! I liked it, and I thought it was sweet, but a bit rushed. I did root for the pair of Liza and Eli from the beginning though. I like myself a young, hot, intelligent guy!

So all in all, I found Sanctuary to be an entertaining historical-gothic-paranormal book! I really enjoyed the lush writing that took me back in time, and the focus on a group and location in history that I wasn’t familiar with. Both historical fiction and ghost-loving fans will find something they’ll enjoy in Sanctuary!



Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: October 27th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 496
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

my rambles

Special thanks to Delacorte Press and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

YA Historical Fiction is one of my go-to genres. I love how they transport me back in time to to places that I’ll never be able to visit and things I’ll never be able to experience. But one of my favorite things about the genre is the way that historical fiction authors tend to have their female protagonists step outside the lines about what’s considered “right” for women and girls during the period. There hasn’t been a historical fiction book I’ve read where there’s a damsel in distress, and These Shallow Graves is no different.

From the very beginning you can’t help but love Jo Montfort. She’s a fish out of water in her world, only wanting to do what she loves: investigative journalism. She’s fierce and stops at nothing to discover the truth. We really get to see her development throughout the story. Early on she’s careful to hide her true self, but as the story progresses she begins to stand up for herself and what she wants her life to be.

The story itself is very fast paced and exciting. I wasn’t able to put These Shallow Graves down. For such a large book, especially in the historical genre, I was nervous that it would be a slow read, with some portions dragging, but that’s not the case at all. As the story goes on, the mystery deepens, and things get intense enough to keep you turning pages and solving the mystery along with Jo.

As you can imagine, the book surrounds a dark topic: murders. I mean, look at the title… But it is lightened by Jo’s wonderful personality, and a sweet romance between her and Eddie, a lower class reporter who helps her out, and she just can’t resist.

The ending seemed a little rushed, for such a clearly well thought out and long book. It was kind of like a huge information dump right at the end in one confession. But I still think that it was written very well and the ending provided good closure to the story.

These Shallow Graves is a monster of a book, with wonderful characters, an intense and exciting mystery, and surprises that will keep you guessing until the very end. Don’t be intimidated by the size, because once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down until the mystery’s been solved!


If you’re looking for other historical books with girls who just can’t help but break the rules, check out The Diviners and Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray! More on the paranormal end of the spectrum, and just as exciting as These Shallow Graves!