Review: THE HACIENDA by Isabel Cañas (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2022
Source: Book of the Month Club

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warning: arson, murder, gore, rape (mentioned, not depicted), vomiting, financial abuse

Beatriz lost everything when her father was executed during the Mexican War of Independence. She and her mother go to live with reluctant relatives, until Beatriz sees an opportunity to return to some form of personal security in marrying Don Rodolfo Solórzano. It takes her to his family estate in the countryside, Hacienda San Isidro. But the promised security is quickly dashed when things start going bump in the night and there is more truth to the rumors surrounding Rodolfo than initially ignored.

This book has everything: 1800’s Mexican history, political tensions, a haunted house, a restless spirit, and a priest who’s also a witch. An incredible blend of historical fiction and gothic horror, I simply could not put this one down until the very last page.

Continue reading

Review: THE RESTING PLACE by Camilla Sten (2022)

Genre: Adult Thriller
Year Release: 2022
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: murder, miscarriage, vomiting, gore, suicide, child abuse, child neglect

Eleanor has prosopagnosia – face blindness, which is very convenient when an unknown assailant leaves her grandmother, Vivianne, dead before a routine weekly dinner. She learns from a lawyer that her grandmother left an estate, but the stay turns deadly when accidents start taking place and it’s a race against something to unearth all of Vivianne’s secrets.

This thriller has a tightly knit mystery alternating between past and present within an ancestral manor.

Continue reading

ARC Review: DEAD END GIRLS by Wendy Heard (2022)

Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Year Release: May 10th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read a physical ARC
Content warning: Murder, drug overdose, homophobic bullying, bullying, blackmail, attempted murder

In Dead End Girls, Maude wants to quit her life, but not in a way that prevents her from further participating. She has a plan to fake her death, but when her step-cousin, Frankie, catches onto the plan, she wants in. What then starts is a journey of being gay, doing crime and self-discovery as the two girls sprint away from their families and towards something else.

Exciting, unexpectedly tender, and a wild ride from start to finish.

Continue reading

Review: THE PARIS APARTMENT by Lucey Foley (2022)

Genre: Adult Thriller
Year Release: 2022
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: vomiting, sex trafficking, drug abuse, alcoholism, murder, gore

Jess goes to Paris for a fresh start on her brother’s invitation. But once she arrives at the ritzy Paris apartment building where he’s taken up residence, something is wrong. She can’t reach Ben. All the neighbors are cagey, and she just wants to know where her brother is. Secrets abound as a conspiracy unfolds.

A slow burn of a mystery in which everybody is a suspect with enough bread crumbs to give readers room to figure out the resolution themselves.

Continue reading

ARC Review: I’M THE GIRL by Courtney Summers (2022)

Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Year Release: September 13, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: statutory rape (graphic), child sexual abuse, kidnapping, car accident, vomiting, stalking, blackmail

Georgia Avis is a queer girl who wants one thing: to be one of the girls serving the rich and the famous as an Aspera Girl. She collects her modelling photos from But on her way home from collecting some headshots, she stumbles upon the body of a 13-year-old. What then starts is a passionate pursuit of the girl George is meant to be while the house of cards falls apart to reveal a rotten core that feels all too real.

Bleak in the way that exploring the way power and wealth take advantage of girls’ search for validation, this book is a search for autonomy starring deeply flawed, messy, compelling girls.

Continue reading

Author to Author with Lara Elena Donnelly (Base Notes)

Base Notes released this week, the latest from Lara Elena Donnelly. In this heady thriller, Vic is a perfumist whose materials from an uncomfortably natural source. There’s revenge, there’s desperation, there’s some really direct commentary on the dissatisfaction at the crossroads of survival and passion. Today’s interview divulges the origin of this twisty tale and its compelling characters and the experience of switching genres in terms of revision and reception.

Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books

Continue reading

ARC Review: BASE NOTES by Lara Elena Donnelly (2022)

Genre: Adult Thriller
Year Release: February 1, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: murder, manipulation, blackmail, gore, eye surgery, strangulation

Vic Fowler is an artist, a perfumist whose business is struggling as they’re trying to achieve the height of luxury and artistry in New York City despite everything about their lifestyle pointing to the contrary. They are threatened with blackmail in exchange for a commission—that’s right, the perfume is made of people. A saga of desperation, aesthetic, murder, and dissatisfaction follows hence forth.

Tonally, it reminded me a lot of A Certain Hunger with its voicey protagonist who’s really three anxiety attacks in a well-tailored blazer. At least they smell beautiful.

An interview with author Lara Elena Donnelly will be posted on February 3rd, 2022.

Continue reading

My 2021 in Reading: That’s a Lot of Things, Jo

I read 198 books this year in a split of: 39 ARCs, 59 audiobooks, 85 manga volumes, 9 physical copies, 2 light novels, and 6 eBooks. As my boyfriend said, “That’s a lot of things, Jo.” It is that time of year where I want to share my favorites, so please enjoy my top 20 2021 books, top 20 books from before 2021, and, a new feature, 5 manga.

I realize that I make lists for books I’m excited for and book I want to read, and failed on both those lists. So, my lists for 2022 books is mostly about boosting others works regardless of if I personally get around to reading them. That’s just how it is when you’re employed and vastly mis-measure what kind of focus you’ll have as the year goes on. Moving also robbed me of a bunch of my focus, which should not have been as surprising as it is. On top of working full time. On top of being in a relationship and trying to participate in the communities I’m a part of.

“That’s a lot of things,” indeed, self.

Continue reading

November 2021 Reading Recap

November featured not as much reading as I’m used to. That’s because I finished my rewrite as my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project, rather than writing the requisite 50,000 words. I did it! I completed the rewrite, and it is now sitting in beta readers’ inboxes. The work took a lot out of me, so much so that I’m still feeling vaguely hungover.

December will feature some more things. But also, what do you mean it’s December already?

Continue reading

Review: THE GIRLS ARE ALL SO NICE HERE by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn (2021)

Genre: Adult Psychological Thriller
Year Release: 2021
Source: Audible

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: Drug abuse, suicide, bullying, rape (depicted), alcoholism, murder

PR manager Ambrosia “Amb” Wellington is invited to a college reunion, but there are so many skeletons buried within that closet and someone is bent on revealing the truth. What follows is a story told in dual timelines, the past and the present, as what looks like normal college debauchery turns into a matter of light and death. There are parties, there are hookups, there are gross boys and even more despicable girls. There’s a laser focus on the extracurriculars of college that felt uncomfortably true to life.

This book is one hell of an anti-bullying PSA. It’s not often we see the person who did the bullying as the protagonist, but the layers to it are hard to take your eyes of.

Continue reading