The Siren And The Specter – JONATHAN JANZ

imageIt’s been so long since I’ve read a horror novel; I think THE GRIP OF IT was my latest read of the genre, and I remember completely devouring that one! THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER (kudos to Flame Tree Press for coming up with such a deliciously creepy cover!) totally worked for me due to many reasons, but especially because “haunted house stories” is the type of horror that creeps me out the most and that I, therefore, really really enjoy reading!

David Caine, a celebrated skeptic of the supernatural, is invited by an old friend to spend a month in “the most haunted house in Virginia,” but the Alexander House is different; it is plagued by shadows of the past and the lingering taint of bloodshed. David is haunted as well for, 22 years ago, he turned away the woman he loved, and she took her life in sorrow. And David suspects she’s followed him to the Alexander House.

 
I love reading about houses where spooky things take place, and here, we have a house that was built by a terrible man back in the 1700s and it seems as if he won’t be leaving until he terrorizes everybody on the property
If you’re ready to get into a horror novel where you’ll meet the creepiest, most troubled – and sometimes unlikable – characters, along with a protagonist whose sanity will be tested in a house full of horrors, this one is definitely for you!

***Thank you to Flame Tree Press for providing me with a copy of THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER in exchange for an honesr review***

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THE STRANGER DIARIES – Elly Griffiths

“Well, this is a story that actually happened. Those are the best kind, don’t you think?

The Stranger Diaries (Out March 5th) truly felt like the perfect Gothic suspense novel to snuggle with under the covers and with a cup of tea.

This book had everything for me. In The Stranger Diaries, we have a murder mystery, a police procedural and a haunted Victorian building known for its spooky past.

The setting of this book will draw you in instantly; Clare Cassidy moves to an isolated house on the Sussex coast with her teenage daughter Georgia after getting a teaching job in Talgarth High – a school that was once the residence of R. M. Holland, author of a ghost story called “The Stranger”.

Clare knows everything about this book, and teaches it to her students during her creative writing classes. But when another teacher is found murdered, we realize that “The Stranger”might not just be a ghost story and that it could possibly be connected to the murder in question.

We begin to get acquainted with the fact that there’s this elusive connection between Clare and the killer, but we still have no idea what it is. We have the POVs of each of Clare, daughter Georgia and Detective Sergeant Harbinder; three powerful femaleprotagonists that I could easily connect with, and that helped the plot to build up masterfully.

At first, I was nervous about the presence of a supernatural element in the book, but I grew to find out that it’s actually boosting the mystery and suspense aspects within the plot, making some passages feel even more spine-chilling!

THE SECRETARY – Renée Knight

“It was the truth that seemed to catch me out. Lies, I managed with fluency.”

The Secretary is about a woman named Christine Butcher who was hired to work as a personal assistant for Mina Appleton – the head of an ethical supermarket chain.

The plot is told from Christine’s perspective, through which we get to see the relationship sinisterly develop between her and Mina. It becomes obvious that our protagonist isn’t in safe territory, that she only fell victim to her boss’ manipulative conduct.

The 1st half of the book features the relationship between Christine and her employer Mina – the women at the heart of the story, and how the latter represents an unhealthy influence on our protagonist, who is oblivious of the danger that her employer represents.

The 2nd half is divided into a courtroom drama, and the aftermath of Christine’s coming to terms with the world she was actually living in, and how it led her to end up in her current ordeal.

I felt so invested in Christine’s character, possibly because of the elusiveness that seems to characterize her. She is loyal to her employer, she knows all the jaw-dropping secrets that Mina confides in her, and she will sacrifice everything in order to keep them.

The writing is almost hypnotizing; it grips you wholly and doesn’t let go.

There’s a major plus to Christine’s character; as we get to see the way she thinks and acts, all of this is attempted to be justified in a way where we’re taken back to her childhood so that we witness the traumatizing events that happened to her during that time of her life.

However, the nature-vs-nurture aspect wasn’t quite thoroughly explained when it came to the main heroines, and I was longing for that during the whole book because I especially needed to understand Christine’s behavior. Why does she act/feel the way that she does in the present day?

Other than that, I loved this book, and I think the ending was incredible, unpredictable and clever!

***Thank you to Harperbooks and edelweiss for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***

REVENGE IN 3 PARTS – Valerie J. Brooks

Do you guys remember the show Revenge featuring Emily VanCamp? I was a huge fan of that show, so you can imagine my excitement once I got the chance to dive into this read that features such an addictive tale revenge.

In REVENGE IN 3 PARTS By Valerie J. Brooks, we have a powerful heroine called Angeline who goes on an investigative mission to avenge the death of her sister Sophie. However, this is not an easy task and Angeline knows this. She’s willing to sacrifice the people that she loves in order to accomplish her goal.

This book turned out to be the perfect combo between Second Life by S. J. Watson and Flamingo Lane by Tim Applegate. Author Valerie knows exactly how to ambush the reader with twists and turns throughout a powerfully written psychological thriller. I feel like this book might be just what you need to get you into the Noir genre.

THE HUNTING PARTY – Lucy Foley

“I wish I hadn’t looked. I wish I had never seen any of this.”

THE HUNTING PARTY (Out on Jan 24th) grabbed my attention from the very start; we’re ambushed by the heart-thudding fact that SOMEONE IS DEAD.

Who’s the victim?

Who are the remaining guests?

We have no idea.

What peaked my interest in the beginning of the book is the captivating remote landscape of the Scottish Highlands. What better place to set a suspenseful plot than in a massive Estate surrounded by mountain peaks with a view over the sea, where a blizzard hits, a murder occurs and NO ONE COULD GET IN. OR OUT?

Everyone has a secret that they’re not sharing with the rest of the group. And it’s fascinating how these characters’ personalities sort of alter throughout the incredibly short timeline between the day of their arrival and the present day. It makes you wonder, “are these the same people I read about only a while ago?” And the more you read about the guests of the Lodge, especially the ones you find yourself rooting for, you become skeptical about their intentions and trustworthiness.


The build-up was so entertaining that, at times, I found myself oblivious to the fact that a mystery is waiting to be unraveled.
The present day is where the level of suspense is ratcheted up, and the narrator of this timeline gets more and more interesting with every chapter. Do we trust her version of events? Is she a reliable character?

When I got to the third part of the book, I was completely glued to the pages, and couldn’t bring myself to look away until the shocking final discoveries were divulged.

I urge you to pick up a copy of this book. Also, The Hunting Party is a murder mystery that is optioned for film!

***Thank you to HarperCollins UK, Abbie Salter and Lucy Foley for providing me with a copy of The Hunting Party in exchange for an honest review***

VERITY – Colleen Hoover

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Dear Colleen Hoover,
Feel free to write more thrillers in the future.

“Somewhere up there is the house, and somewhere inside of that house lies Verity Crawford.”

What. Did. I. Just. Read?!!

If you’d told me last year that one day I’d be reading a Colleen Hoover novel, I certainly wouldn’t have believed you.

The book more or less starts off with a bang. Our protagonist had witnessed something awful happen right in front of her. And from that moment on, you’ll find yourself hooked and beyond drawn to the pages.

Lowen Ashleigh, who’s portrayed as such a badass woman in this book, gets more and more interesting as we watch her character being peeled away progressively.

She’s given this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to continue a series written by incredibly successful author Verity Crawford. But she – us readers too – can already get the feeling that this job offer isn’t such a good idea, considering the mysterious history of tragedies that Verity’s family has known, the elusiveness of why Lowen was really picked for the job, and the coincidental horrifying occurrence that she had to witness at the beginning of the book.

Lowen moves into Verity’s home, and it’s not until she stumbles upon one of her manuscripts that Lowen finds herself thrusting into this author’s elusive mind.

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Inexplicable things start happening at the house. And 1/3 into the book, you’ll realize how Verity’s character is the most strangely captivating one – one that’ll keep you wondering, “Do I really want to know more about this peculiar-minded woman?”

The dialogue kept me on edge. And the things that are about to be revealed about this woman will just leave you breathless.
As you read more about the things that’ve happened to Verity and her children, you’ll feel as if you’re spying on this strange family – a voyeuristic effect that adds an extra dose of liveliness and suspense.

The author challenges everything we think we know about the characters, while our main character Lowen is torn between her attempt to leave this house where she feels she’s going completely crazy, and finding out the truths it hides.

Verity is going to trigger you, disturb you, challenge your sanity and provide you with the most overwhelming experience.

FLAMINGO LANE – Tim Applegate

Flamingo Lane – being the 2nd book in a series, does offer essentials elements from the first book, Fever Tree. Therefore, this can absolutely be read as a standalone. Which was a relief because I was SO in the mood for a light, atmospheric thriller such as this one. Southern noir, as it turns out, is the perfect comfort read to unwind with.

Overwhelmed by her family’s attempts to restore her to her “old self”, Faye Lindstrom – having encountered a harrowing past life in Quintana Roo, Mexico – takes solace inside an isolated farmhouse owned by novelist William Dieter. But that safe haven may not be as idyllic as it seems as it seems.

Yep, that’s it! What I love about this particular synopsis of FLAMINGO LANE by Tim Applegate (out Dec. 11) is that it doesn’t give TOO much away about the plot and, along with the cover, remains mysterious and gives out a feel of moodiness (which you guys know I’m all about!).

Now in the back cover, it also says that this book is for Southern noir fans (my first time reading the sub-genre!) and then it proceeded to mention that it’s a “cat-and-mouse pursuit” kind of read!! Which I think is so Patricia Highsmith/ Peter Swanson.

So, moving from Quintana Roo, Mexico to Florida, Faye Lindstrom decides to start a new life, far away from the chaos of the place that holds some of her darkest, most traumatizing memories: a flawed female protagonist (you guys know this is a total plus for me! but what she isn’t aware of is that her ex seeks revenge and is going on a mission to kill her as she resides in novelist William Dieter’s house.

This is one of those entertaining “past comes back to bite you” kind of reads, if that makes sense. There might’ve been no twists throughout the book, but there was definitely an element of suspense which, once it began, it didn’t let up! And I felt truly invested in Faye’s character as she endeavors to combat her demons. Out of all other characters, hers was the one that stood out the most for m, so the chapters where she narrates the events were the ones I kept looking forward to!

Do you guys have any thoughts on this book? Let’s discuss in the comments, fellow readers!!