Book Review: Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is a horror set in the 90’s that is a take on Scooby Doo and his gang grown up and dealing with real monsters and not some man in the mask. I is a little similar to the new DC run Scooby Apocalypse, where the gang is a little more grown up and deal with real monsters. Meddling Kids is a combination of Lovecraftian creatures meet the Goonies being portrayed by the Scooby Gang. The twist and turns mainly come at the end a few are a stretch but some I really enjoyed. It has LGTBQ representation in the lead character of Andy. The book is a slow build up to an exciting finish but it will test the readers patience by having slow pacing. A. Z. Kimrean the lead of This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us Cantero’s follow up book makes an oh so brief cameo in a mental ward.

The Plot: In 1977 a group of kids started the the Blyton Summer Detective Club where four kids and a dog solved local crimes. The last case when they caught an old man in a creature mask, and admitted to the crimes calling them ,meddling kids. But 13 years later the group is still haunted by what they saw, on member Peter has recently committed suicide. The criminal has been released and when confronted he admitted it didn’t commit the crimes, but lied so he would be protected in jail. The Blyton Summer Detective Club decides to get back together and solve the crime they missed.

What I Liked: there’s a lot of clever pop culture references. Nate seeing a ghost of Peter device is used really well, and adds to the mystery. I like what they did with the dog to make it “Scooby-like” at the very end. I liked what they did with the town bully, Joey. The climax was really exciting with a couple twist and turns. There was a lot a well placed Scooby references. One of the coolest cover art’s Ive seen for horror.

What I Disliked: The pacing is super slow at the beginning, it takes the gang way to long just to get to the town on their road trip. The monster’s could have been described with more detail, it was hard picturing. Never have a I read a story that needed a flashback scene so bad, I think a flashback scene would have solved most of my problems with it.

Recommendations: I think Edgar Cantero is a really clever writer, but this one didn’t live up to my expectations after liking This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us so much, so therefore I can not recommend this one. In This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us the plot is very focused, where Meddling Kids the plot keeps going off in tangents. I rate Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: His & Hers by Alice Feeney

His & Hers by Alice Feeney is a deeply psychological mystery thriller. This is a great mystery with layers upon layers. This who done it, will have you constantly changing who you think is the killer. His & Hers reminded me of the best parts of The Girl in the Train, the unreliable narrators. Both main characters lie with in the first passage already showing you the reader mistrust. I really like the way it is told you have the perspective of him, a detective for a small town, and then you have her, a BBC news correspondent. But there is also another voice the killer’s voice, the clever thing this novel does is make you find out who the third voice belongs to is it Him, Her, or is it some one else. This novel is best not knowing too much, so my plot summary will not be too long to keep the story vague. The story had a great pace and was really hard to put down. This novel is easily in my top 10 published this year. This novel would be perfect for a movie.

The Tag Line: There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.

The Plot:Her:Anna has been the fill in correspondent for the one o’clock hour of the BBC for almost two years. Cat Jones the original host is back from two back to back pregnancies and Anna is demoted to a desk and to be used only for on site broadcast. A murder comes up in her old home town and she’s assigned it. But she knows the victim and saw them the day before and has had some relationship to the detective. Him: Detective Jack Harper investigates the murder of the young woman Rachael, but he knows her and has been seeing her secretly for months the body is discovered where he last saw her, and he knows the reporter that seems know insider information. The Voice: we are in either Him, Her, or Someone else the voice says I will kill them all for what they have done. Rachael is the first of many victims.

What I Liked: The Tag line is brilliant and made me pick this book. The layers to this mystery kept me going back and forth with interchanging subjects. The writing is really clever everything makes sense. The two main characters Anna and Jack are great and well rounded with a crazy connected past. I was able to really like the characters and not trust either one of them. One of the better reveals to a twist leaving it all at the end to know the whole story. One of the better written villains at the end you know why they did it, it is really messed up but you can emphasize what they wanted to achieve and did achieve. I guessed the killer early on but there was so many twist and turns I was convinced early that it wasn’t them. I liked the three perspectives narrative and trying to find out who the third voice was. There was more than a few moments where, I was blown away by twist and turns.

What I Disliked: To throw the reader off they have a sequence of events that were a little hard to believe that one character would act one way, and not have a conversation about it. It was a cool moment but I wanted some dialogue spoken not just action.

Recommendations: This is a perfect thriller with more twist and turns than I can remember. The killer is viscous, and will keep you guessing until the end. If you like thrillers with unreliable narrators who blatantly lie, then this book is for you. The closest book I would compare it to is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I rated His & Hers by Alice Feeney 5 out of 5 stars. This is author Alice Feeney’s third book, I am a fan and will add Sometimes I Lie and I Know Who You Are to my TBR.

Book Review: One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Next by Karen McManus is the sequel to the best selling One of Us is Lying. In this one the story is more complex, and the novel pulls double duty introducing us to new characters, while catching us up with the old characters from the first book. The book for the most part does a good job of blending the new characters with the old, I did feel at beginning it was too much of the new characters. The mystery is way more complex, it reminded me of the newest Veronica Mars storyline. Instead of 4 characters perspectives, we get 3 which was okay but it took away the rapid paced smaller chapters of the first one. The finale was really fun and exciting. There was a late twist almost at the end that I was not excepting. I did not like this book as much as the first one, but this is a pretty good follow up book with a good mystery and lots of characters I already loved and a couple new ones too.

The Plot:18 months after the what happened in the last book, Bayview High is finally getting back to normal, the school has just recently allowed cell phones back after all the trouble with Simon’s gossip App. There have been a couple of copycats but nothing has stuck around until Truth or Dare, you either take a date or get a truth revealed. Phoebe is the first victim as she refuses to play and gets a huge truth bomb delivered that she slept with her sister’s boyfriend. Phoebe is ridiculed in school and soon everyone starts taking it seriously. Dares start happening over town, until death happens. Mauve who helped solve the last mystery, is with out her brainiac sister Bronwyn this time.

What I Liked: I Liked that we got to see characters from the first book still grow in this book. I liked the character of Knox most of all, and is was good to see a genuine good character get beaten down but chose to say good and ends up not finishing last. The finally was exciting and involved characters new and old. The mystery was way more involved but good, it needed better pacing, but looking at all the twist and turns it was pretty solid. The final twist was really good, there was someone that was obviously involved in the plot, that I was disappointed because of how glaringly obvious it was, but the final twist added an extra layer to it that I liked. I liked side characters like Luis getting a bigger role in this.

What I Disliked: The flow was messy at times, making chapters feel overly long. This one took too long to get the mystery started, McManus chose to catch everyone up to what characters in the last book were up to first before trying into the new mystery.

Recommendations: Not as good as the first but a worth while sequel, that lets you spend a little time with characters you loved from the first book. If you thought the mystery was too simple in the first one, then this one is way more complex. The first book blew me a way with how fun it was, this one is not as fun but that was a high bar, and remains in the fun category. I rated One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus is a clever mystery that blends the characters of the Breakfast Club with the secrets of Pretty Little Liars. The storytelling was really simple with an easy to follow mystery with so many twist and turns. I’m happy to say that I did not guess the killer, kudos to those who did. The story gets going right from the beginning 5 people go to detention, but only 4 make it out alive. We get to live the lives through perspectives of the four survivors, the jock, the brain, the beauty, and the criminal. I really enjoyed this one, and fell in love with all the characters in the end. The ending will stick with me for some time.

The Plot: Five students of Bayview High meet for detention after school, there is Simon, the outcast, that run a gossip app exposing everybody’s secrets at school, Bronwyn, the brain, valedictorian looking to go to Yale, Addy, the beauty, who was homecoming queen, Cooper, the jock, already getting scouted from the Major Leagues, and Nate, the criminal, currently on probation and deals drugs. All are in detention for having cell phones in their bags that through conversation seems like they were set up. The conversation doesn’t last long as Simon goes into shock from a severe peanut allergy and dies. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the death Simon was always careful and there was no peanuts in the room. The whole school gets a confession from an anonymous person that details how they killed Simon, with all the details from the room, knowing that the killer has to come from the room, it’s your job to find out which one is lying.

What I Liked: The characters are great and really make you care for each one. The twist ending is one of the better ones I have read in the Young Adult genre. I like that The twist made sense and was backed up with evidence, and really worked, I say bravo to McManus for pulling it off. The relationships were easy to get invested in, especially the one at the end, you really wanted to shout get over yourself. The LGTBQ storyline worked it kind was the same as Pretty Little Liars but with the media’s reaction to it as well. I liked that the group did form a bond with this even if they can’t totally trust each other.

What I Disliked: The dialogue was sometimes stale, don’t know if I ever bought in to the fact that Cooper was Southern.

Recommendations: This is just such a fun read. The story pulls off an incredible twist, and it makes you fall in love with the characters. Fans of Pretty Little Liars will enjoy the twist, turns, and drama. If you’re looking for an entertaining Young Adult mystery then this is the book for you. This book was pretty minimal on swear words, since some YA are filled with them this is in the low spectrum. I rated One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus 5 out of 5 stars. This book was between a 4 and a 5 but the fun factor pulled me to a 5.

Book Review: The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton is a historical nautical mystery that takes an Agatha Christie plot and adds the devil. The plot has so many twist and turns that all make sense. The novel is a fun who done it, with so many suspects all with murder that will make you head spin. The standouts for me is the plot, however crazy it gets there’s always a plausible reason and character work is so good giving all 20 supporting characters their unique voices who all have their own motives and actions. A quick plot for The Devil and the Dark Water is what if a Sherlock like character was in chains and locked away and his Watson like compatriot who is a sympathetic giant that is more of a bodyguard than a problem solver had to solve a supernatural the crime. This is Stuart Turton’s second novel after the excellent 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle that was best described as Agatha Christie on crack! I rarely buy new books when they first come out, but based on his strong debut I did and I was rewarded with a well thought out who done it. The story did not blow me away like The 7 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle did, which was my the number one book I read last year, but this is a great book that is easily in my top ten of this year.

The Plot: Samuel Pipps is the world’s greatest detective in 1634, who has been imprisoned and taken to a ship setting sail for Amsterdam to serve time for his crimes, what ever thy are. Arent Hayes is Samuel’s loyal bodyguard determined to protect him and prove his innocence, but before he can do that he has to stop a devil that boarded the transport ship. A leper warns the people boarding the Saaradam that Old Tom/ The Devil is a board this ship as he burns himself alive. When the leper is seen to they find his tongue had been severed and could not talk. Arent finds people willing to help but never knows who to trust as ghost and phantom boats lead to murder plot.

What I Liked: Really well written characters, both main and side. I was never confused with characters and there is an awful lot of them. The plot is really captivating and dealing with all the elements on a boat which is. character in it’s self. The twist are very layered, I did not guess who the killer or killers was, and was guessing back and forth until it was revealed. That for me is a true sign of a great mystery. Women are written very well and hold there own being very clever at a time when they did not have power. Arent’s character really grew on me and you can’t help but root for him solving the mystery. It’s great to see a big character not dumb who is still a gentle giant but a smart one. The going to the bathroom and what they wiped with on a ship at the time is pretty horrifying. The way the sailors are described – They’re only on this ship because they’d be hanged anywhere else.

What I Disliked: The story was always interesting, but it took a little bit for it to really get going. The after the climax ending felt unfinished, I felt the characters would definitively decide what was going to happen next, it left it mostly closed but there was still a crack that was left unclosed.

Recommendations: Check out the work of Stuart Turton great characters, really clever plot twist, that will have you guessing who done it until the end. The Devil and Dark Water is less confusing than the 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle which was the main criticism for people who did not like it. This book is a lot more accessible and told in a more traditional mystery way than Hardcastle. I rated The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton 5 out of 5 stars. It is a little too soon to call Turton the king of new mystery, but he’s off to a great start I eagerly anticipate his next work. I have rated all his works 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Guest List By Lucy Foley

The Guest List By Lucy Foley is slow build thriller filled with lies and secrets bursting at the seems. A wedding party on a remote island, what can go wrong? A scream to the sight of a murdered body is what starts off The Guest List. By the end you will know who is murdered and who the murder or murders are. The book is told through 6 perspective wedding guest each with his or her own secret and motive. It’s a fun who done it? where you the reader get to play the detective. This was my first Lucy Foley book, she came on my radar after last year’s The Hunting Party, which I want to read now. I have to say I wasn’t blown away I guessed early who the killer or killers would be and were right, there were some details that I did not get right that kept it enjoyable for me. After you know who the murder or murders, there’s still a little bit more like are they going to get away with it and I liked that bit.

The Plot: On the a storming evening there is a black out on the wedding night, when the lights come on there is scream from the island of someone finding a dead body. We meet all the main players of the wedding, the uptight control freak bride Jules, the charming TV star groom Will, the university dropout Jules’ sister and bride’s maid Olivia, the estranged party boy best man Johnno, the stay at home mom and plus one of Charlie her husband and Jules’ best friend, the wedding planner and Chef Aoife and Freddy, and four of Will’s drunk best mates from boarding school, Duncan, Pete, Femi, and Angus. That’s the guest list, list of suspect, and also list of possible murder victims.

What I Liked: The perspectives of the six individuals worked really well, I only got confused once, and it was for a short time. The setting of Cormorant Island comes with its own haunted past and adds to the isolation of being trapped. I enjoyed learning all the secrets and how some strangely connected. The ending was really good how one character ended up getting a comeuppance for their part in a secret that hurt others even though they were not involved with the murder. Good writing keeps this from not being a typical murder mystery.

What I Disliked: I was able to guess the murderer or murderers pretty easily, I t just made the most sense, like I said in my first thoughts it was still interesting, but I kind of wanted to be wrong.

Recommendations: I would recommend others check The Guest List out. If you like a good Murder Mystery and train wreck of secrets all coming out at a secluded island than this is the book for you. I compared this book to Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Woods, which I rated similarly. I rated The Guest List by Lucy Foley 4 out of 5 stars. I will definitely try to read The Hunting Party when I have a chance.

Book Review: The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi

The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi is about murder stories taken place before World War II. The Eighth Detective is a story within stories, it works as both a short story anthology and an over-arching narrative. The novel is very clever in the way twist are laid out, the end is filled with so many twists they actually where’s out their welcome. There are 7 short stories in this novel all involving murder and a mathematic formula to make a murder mystery work. The short stories are borrowed from mainly Agatha Christie stories, I’m sure for legal reasons the story could not mention her by name. The short stories are good with some being great, but I enjoyed the conversations after the stories more, where the story is broken down and discussed. Thanks to Netgalley and Henry and Holt Company for granting me a copy. The Eighth Detective was published on 8-4-2020.

Favorite Quote: “Chess is a cheap metaphor. It’s what men use to talk in a grandiose way about conflict.”

The Plot: Grant McAllister, a professor of mathematics, worked out a theory thirty years ago about how to create the perfect murder mystery stories. After the theory was published, he quietly wrote a book of 7 short stories testing the theory called The White Murders . The book has came and went, but now 30 years later a young editor Julia is interested in republishing the book and wants access to the Grant McAllister who lives a quiet life away as a recluse. Grant is real iffy on his past not really wanting to discuss it. They start reading his short stories and breaking them down after exposing little truth and some he can’t or won’t answer like the similarity in the title and the real murders called The White Murders.

What I Liked: The conversations on the breakdown of stories are so good. The first short story is really good and immediately had me hooked. There’s one short story that takes place on the remote island after the aftermath of one of my favorite Agatha Christie stories And Then There Were None. I liked this one it intrigued me because it would be so hard to figure out what happened, and the perfect place for murder. This story was the only direct clone the ending’s of The Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd are part of the perfect endings. The language and lines of dialogue are good and through out the short stories. The main twist is really good with how clever it is.

What I Disliked: The first thing that intrigued me was the comparison to the White Murders, it’s kind of answered but I wanted more facts. How do you not think or acknowledge Agatha Christie in the Foreword or Afterword. I thought at the end there was too many twist that did not involve the short stories we just analyzed.

Recommendations: I’m going to barely recommend this one, the short stories for the most part are good and the conversations after are even better. If you like classic murder mystery that involves thought and deduction and not forensics then this novel is for you. You’re never going to be as good as Agatha Christie but it is still enjoyable. This book is getting unfairly compared to The 7 and a half Murders of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton who reinvented the murder mystery and told it in a unique way, the Eighth detective just has a unique telling. This was another hard review for me to place, I kept going back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, but eventually settled on a number barely making it to the threshold. I rated The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi 4 out of 5 stars. I will look for Pavesi books in the future, I see a lot of promise in the writing.

Book Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager is a top notch thriller wrapped in a ghost story. Home Before Dark reminded me of why I love Riley Sager so much, good writing that for the most part keeps me guessing while adding that level of believability, that it could happen that way. I felt like this book was a good return to form after I was let down by Lock Every Door which was released last year. Home After Dark offers two accounts one of a book written 25 years ago that is a nonfictional ghost story called House of Horrors that written by Ewan Holt that tells of the Baneberry House haunting of him and his family; the other is Maggie Holt that was five at the time of House of Horrors returning after 25 years to see what was real as her family won’t speak of the book. This book is high suspense with more twist than a Tilt-A-Whirl.

The Plot: Maggie Holt has just been called to her father’s will reading. Maggie’s dad is infamous because he wrote a book 25 years ago called House of Horrors about him and his family buying their first home the Baneberry house. The family only last 25 days as they were haunted by ghost. Maggie has asked her father and mother many times through her life what was real? What really went down? Even on her father’s death bed when asked all he could say was he’s sorry? Maggie is shocked when goes to the will reading and the Baneberry house is in the will to her. She still can’t believe he had it in his name still for 25 years, and shocked further still when she finds out her father visited one day everyone of those 25 years. Maggie who is in real estate plans to fix up the house and sell it, while also investigating what is real or not. Maggie unearths secret after, secret, was every word written true? or a clever lie?

What I Liked: The twist were really good I had a couple of the theories, but all were proven false, I liked the end. The narrative of bouncing back from Maggie to her dad’s voice was a little disjointed at first but I really enjoyed it as we would learn more about what was true. I liked the conspiracy theories that came out of the ending. I liked Maggie and the closure she got at the end. The snake scene is terrifying, both of them. I loved the ghost aspect.

What I Disliked: Petra and what was theorized especially in the beginning, and the justification being how much she is in the book, but she’s barely in the book. I thought there was going to be more than one alone time with Ewan, but that’s it. I liked everything else but I wanted more scenes of Ewan and Petra together.

Recommendations: I really enjoyed this one it’s a good mix of horror and mystery. The twist are good and through out, which makes for an easy fast paced read. This was my second favorite out of four that Riley Sager has written, and already can not wait until next summer to read another one. He remains the king of summer. I rated Home Before Dark by Riley Sager 5 out of 5 stars. Since I have read all other books written by Riley Sager here’s mr order of best to worst: The Last Time I Lied, Home Before Dark, Final Girls, and Lock Every Door.

Book Review: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James is a nonstop thriller that mixes elements of a ghost story with a mystery. The pace was nonstop from the beginning, and did not let up as it reached the climax. The story is really fun, I enjoyed finding out more about the ghost and why they haunted the Sun Down Motel. The twists are plausible and well thought out to fool the audience. This book has been hyped recently, and I have to say I really enjoyed it, it doesn’t reinvent the genre, just tells a good story in a way that is easy to read and picture. This is a fast read that was a breeze to consume one afternoon.

The Plot: In 1982 Vivian starts working the nightshift at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, NY. The town is quiet but it has a string of missing and murdered young women, and Vivian is the next victim. She has been missing for 37 years when Carly her niece travels to Fell to investigate. She always knew her aunt was missing, but upon her mother’s death, she finds old news clipping about the crime that her mom would never get a straight answer. Carley’s investigation cause her to live in the same apartment as her aunt and take a job working the night shift at the Sun Down Motel. Carley discovers secrets of ghosts old and new. Carley wants the truth, but she may risk her life to get it.

What I Liked: I loved the ghost and their personalities. I love how focused this novel was, I felt no scene was wasted. I like the flipping back from 1982 to present day. I liked how the personalities of Vivian and Carley complimented each other. I liked the roommate Heather, how she still powered on after her panic attacks upon investigation. I loved the investigative photographer and the role they play in everything. This novel was about female power and I loved it!

What I Disliked: After the climax the wrap up took a little too long, but It didn’t effect my review too much, since I was so entertained by 90% of the story.

Recommendations: This is a really fun thriller that delivers. The narrative is easy to follow and the pace doesn’t let up. I wanted a decent mystery and I got a ghost story that is surrounded by a mystery, which was more than I expected. I rated The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs is one crazy book, that you can’t predict or put down. Characters flip from being good to bad, as the reader learns more secrets. This book has some of the most cringe worthy scenes, not because of gore or anything horrid, but because you are reading about a character that keeps digging themselves into holes. This is family disfunction at its finest. What would it take for you to chain your mother in her room? The answers come quickly but the reasons behind them stay buried in lies. This is the second novel that I have by John Marrs, last year I read Passengers about driverless car taking 8 people hostage to murder them as people choose who lives or dies. Passengers rifted me while What Lies Between Us rocked me to my core. A huge thanks to Netgalley and Amazon Publishing UK for letting me read a novel that has taken my top spot in favorite books of 2020. The screen writes were picked up by Renee Zellweger’s production company, which would have a juicy role as the daughter who chains her mother, while exposing a lifetime of secrets and lies. What Lies Between Us is to be published on May 15th 2020.

The Plot: Maggie is believed to be a shut in that relies on her doting daughter Nina to get her through her days, then the chain is revealed. Maggie is not a shut in by choice. Her daughter Nina has been chaining her up in the attic which she soundproofed for two years. Nina is convinced her mom murdered her father years ago, and is determined to lock her up, in replacement for the last 21 years of her life since her father disappeared.

What I Liked: How crazy this novel got, there were many times where I was astounded of the places this novel went. There’s so many twist, I guessed a couple of them, but there were sometimes twist on twist. I enjoyed the ending, I felt like everything wrapped up in a very messed up bow. Never have I been so back and forth with characters, you will read one thing and be like Maggie had a point and then read another where I was like how could Maggie do that to Nina. The back and forth go almost to the end.I liked the side character of Bobby and how he fit in to the mother and daughter fight. The party scene was one of the most cringe worthy scenes I’ve ever read, and I kind of loved every minute of it. The scene was like a slow train wreck, you just have to watch. The way this novel was written getting into Maggie’s and Nina’s heads was perfect and helped explain a lot about the characters and their motivation.

What I Disliked: There was disappearance scene that the police don’t have a suspect, and we know the last text that go the person there and an incident that happened just weeks before the disappearance, I found it very unlikely that this character would not be the main suspect. The police go to the house but there were all these red flags that the police wouldn’t be ale to overlook. I hate that we never knew how high Jon was during the incident, or didn’t look into his appeals. I didn’t like the cover, it looks mediocre.

Recommendations: I really connected with this thriller and could not put it down. The only thing I would caution readers with is the characters given their reasons remain mostly unlikeable. I can still love a novel even if the character’s are difficult to like, but I know some can not. I think this is a can’t miss thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. I did not want to stop reading. I rated What Lies Between Us by John Marrs 5 out of 5 stars. So far this is my top book of the year.