Friday, November 6, 2020

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James-- Creepy and Ghosty, But Kinda Repetitive

The Sun Down Motel

When Viv leaves home for NYC in 1982, she doesn't quite end up there. Somehow she gets stuck in a small town in New York called Fell. She gets a job working the night shift at a motel that sits out on the highway and immediately knows that this motel and town has secrets. Missing and murdered women seem to be a theme here and if Viv doesn't want to wind up as one of them, she knows she needs to figure out what is going on....

In 2017, Carly is determined to find out what happened to her long-lost aunt Vivian. Viv disappeared in 1982 while working the night shift at a motel, so Carly travels to the small town to see if there's anything she can find out. Immediately she realizes that Fell is like the town that time forgot. She gets the same job her aunt had, and is determined to find out what this hotel is hiding.











Since this book came out earlier this year, I've been hearing so much about it. How it was such a good, creepy mystery-- so it sounded like the perfect book to read around Halloween time!! To say I was hyped going into this was an understatement. I was 100% on board to love this book (especially because I've been reading and loving mainly Adult Mystery/Thrillers lately).

And I did like this book. But did I LOVE it?? No. I think a list is in order to organize my feelings about this book:

  • The Setting.  This book is set in a motel on the outskirts of a town called Fell.  Both the motel and the town brought some interesting things to the story.  The motel was one of those relics from the past-- those cheap motels that are never updated and probably end up being rented by the hour at some point.  The town of Fell was basically a place where time stood still.  The modern part of this story takes place in 2017, but it was clear little had changed from the 2nd timeline of 1982.  I enjoyed the creepy motel setting and the way Fell felt unchanged by time-- it was endearing in a way and made things easier to figure things out in the 2017 timeline.
  • The Dual Timelines. The first timeline is in 1982 and features Viv, a girl who was originally going to New York City, but winds up in Fell working the night shift at The Sun Down Motel.  While there, she discovers that there's been a string of unsolved murders taking place in and around Fell.  
  • The second timeline is present day (2017) and features Carly, Viv's niece who is determined to find out what happened to her.  Viv disappeared while working the night shift at The Sun Down Motel and has never been found.  Carly has always been curious about why her mother refused to talk about her aunt that she's never seen or met beyond a faded newspaper clipping.  She ends up traveling to Fell and working the same shift that Viv worked at The Sun Down-- all the while looking into what could've happened to Viv.  
  • It was an interesting concept and definitely could've worked, but for some reason it just didn't for me.  The 2 timelines were so similar-- the girls were around the same age, were both very similar in how naive they were, they were both investigating virtually the exact same crimes and coming to the same conclusions, and they were both living in the same apartment and working at the same motel.  Adding to that, the town of Fell was like a time-warp-- it was practically unchanged from Viv's time there to Carly's.  Because of these things, I was forever getting the details confused (was Carly the one who saw the ghost that time, or was it Viv?? Was Carly the one who figured that one detail out, or was it Viv?).  I needed more differences in the characters and their movements to be able to keep things straight.
  • The Ghosts. Normally I do not like a surprise ghost book.  I mean, I don't mind a this place is creepy and may be haunted book, but this was straight up real ghosts in your face from the get-go.  And usually that would bug me and make it feel fake, but here I actually liked it.  The ghosts were scary in a The Sixth Sense kind of way-- they were angry and had unfinished business.  I really think the ghosts saved this book for me.
  • The Mystery. I thought it was an interesting mystery.  Did I think that BOTH Viv and Carly would figure out everything a serial killer was doing when the police couldn't??  I mean, that's kind of far fetched-- but it was a really good mystery to follow despite that.  There were multiple twists and I kind of did love that because I saw the major twist coming, but didn't figure out the minor twist at all (even though the minor twist was kind of unnecessary and didn't really make a ton of sense).
  • The Pacing. The best part of this book (besides the creepy ghosts) was that it didn't drag. It's the kind of book that will hook you and keep you wanting to read just one more chapter.
  • Is it YA or Adult?? I know this is classified as Adult Mystery, but it felt VERY YA to me. It's one of those things where just because a book is about teens, doesn't mean it's YA-- and just because this one is about girls in their 20's doesn't mean it's Adult. I think there's more to those categories than age-- and this one just didn't have the Adult Mystery feel. I don't have a definitive reason why I feel it's YA beyond the fact that the writing felt like YA-- it's just my gut feeling being a reader of both genres, but I feel it works better as YA. One reason could be that it didn't feel as polished or developed as Adult Mysteries usually are. Not that I'm talking crap on YA, it's just that Adult Mysteries usually get pretty deep into their characters and this one was very surface level.

I definitely had mixed and complicated feelings on this one. I think some things could've been done better and that the 2 main characters could've been differentiated better-- but I do not regret reading this. It really was the perfect Halloween-time read and I was happy that it was a page-turner.

OVERALL: I'm in between on this one. I liked the creepy motel and the real ghosts that resided there. I wished the characters were better developed and better distinguished from one another. I do recommend this, and I think if you're looking for an easy Mystery to read, this is your book.


Date Published: 2/18/2020
How I got this book: Library
Publisher: Berkley/ Penguin Random House
Type: Adult Mystery/Thriller/Horror



My Rating: 3/5

Character: Carly (and let's be honest, Viv too-- they're the same character)
Book: I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara












Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier-- A+ Dark Mystery

Little Secrets

Life for Marin is pretty much perfect-- successful job, financial freedom, upscale lifestyle, great kid & husband.  Then comes the day when Sebastian, her 4-year-old son, goes missing at a local shopping area.

A year goes by with no answers, and Marin a shell of who she used to be. She barely has the brainpower to think not to mention care about the status of her relationship with her husband-- that is until the PI she hired to find Sebastian comes to her with info that Derek has been seeing a woman behind her back for the last 6 months.  Marin's been numb for 16 months, but suddenly she has one emotion coming to the surface: RAGE.

The more she digs into this mistress, the more she has a focus for all her frustrations.












This is the dark thriller that I NEEDED to get me back into reading again.  This year has been shit, and it's been wreaking havoc on my reading (and blogging) life. This book took me right out of 2020 and dropped me into a story that I couldn't get enough of.  It was such a rollercoaster ride, with twists and unexpected turns.  I wish all dark thrillers could keep my attention the way this one did.

It starts off with Marin's son getting kidnapped.  As a parent, I almost had to put it down before I even really started.  Something happening to my son (and soon to be daughter) is my biggest fear in life.  It would mean my life was completely over-- there's no coming back from that.  So I was very emotionally invested and it was hard to read about.  But I decided I could put my parental fears aside and focus on where this book was going.

And it went to some super unexpected places.  I fully did not expect that this book would go so far away from the missing kid and into such dark and fucked up territory.  But this book was fucked up in all the best ways.  And INTENSE.  It's kind of one of those books that you want to read as fast as you can so that you can stop feeling so damn anxious about what is going to happen.

I love a book where you think you want to root for one or 2 of the characters, but then you realize-- NOPE, they're all kind of toxic and unlikable.  That was this book. In the beginning I felt for Marin and her feelings of grief. Like I said, as a mother it was hard not to put myself in her shoes. But soon I realized that Marin was more than just the grieving, scared mother. She was just as toxic as the rest of the characters in this book.

OVERALL: If you love a dark mystery, you'll love this one. It's just the book I needed to pull me out of my current reality. Very Unputdownable.

Date Published: 4/21/2020
How I got this book: Library
Publisher: Minotaur Books/ Macmillan
Type: Adult Mystery



My Rating: 5/5








Character: Marin Machado
Book: Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten
  • I think Marin would relate to Sasha's need to do dark things.











Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday- Books With Long Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (October 13th) I'm one of them :)



Today's Topic

Top Ten Books With Long Titles


  • Look at me blogging!!!  I've been MIA for many reasons-- and I'm trying to put those reasons aside and get myself back in the blogging mood.  Because I am a blogger and I love blogging about books, and I don't know what I am without it anymore TBH.
  • So, yeah-- back to this post: I'm listing some of my favorite books that have super long titles!! I've read all of these and enjoyed all of them.




1.  The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix- I loved this book. It felt like a fresh take on vampires (although I'm not THAT well read in vampire books), and it was about suburban 90's housewives.  LOVE.

2.  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White- Fun take on the Frankenstein story. It wasn't perfect, but I really enjoyed it.

Walton- Oh gosh, hard to read this one. It was completely emotion destroying.

4.  Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow's Diary by Emma Chastain- HA! This one is one of my all-time LOL books.  I love books that make me happy like this one did :)

5.  Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King- A.S. King will always be one of my favorite authors because her books are special. She's a queen and deserves so much more hype than she gets.






6.  The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith- This wasn't a FAVORITE, but it was cute and fun. The title is a mouthful, so it deserves it's place here.

7.  To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han- Okay, so it's not the longest title ever or anything, but it's a lot to say when you're talking books to someone.

8.  Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten- Same goes for this one, it's not the longest title, but it's a mouthful to say.

9.  The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart- E. Lockhart might be the queen of long ass titles!!  This was a fun prank book.

10.  The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart- I saved the best for last!!!  I love this book SO so much and this title is just.... forever long!






What books made your list this week??? Have you read any on my list??


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Blog Tour Review: These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin



THESE VENGEFUL HEARTS
Author: Katherine Laurin
Pub. Date: September 8, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press


Mean Girls meets Siobhan Vivian’s The List in THESE VENGEFUL HEARTS, an utterly addictive standalone YA debut that follows 16-year-old Ember Williams as she seeks revenge against the Red Court, a secret organization of Heller High’s most elite female students that specializes in granting and requesting favors—and which is responsible for the accident that left her older sister paralyzed.

A thrilling novel about a secret society and the dangers that lie in wait for anyone brave enough to join—perfect for fans of Karen M. McManus, Kara Thomas, and Maureen Johnson.

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities known only by their leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Now, she’s determined to hold the organization accountable by taking it down from the inside. But will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?







I gotta say this book reeled me in with the cover and the "secret society" premise.  I mean, who doesn't want to read about high school secret societies and someone who is determined to take one down from the inside??

This ended up being very middle of the road for me.  It wasn't as suspenseful or dark as I was hoping it would be, but it did bring that Mean Girls feel that I love.

Ember is FINALLY getting to join the Red Court-- a secret society that uses favors as currency.  They're a group of girls who rig elections, break up relationships, and basically anything else they're asked to do... but it comes at a price.  Ember has been trying to get noticed by them because her sister had an accident which left her paralyzed years back, and the Red Court were at fault.  She's built her whole high school career on getting into the Red Court and getting revenge!

I liked that it didn't take long for Ember to get in to the Red Court and get involved in their antics.  I liked that she went through some sort of inner turmoil with actually liking some of the girls in the Court and liking the power she had-- but at the same time feeling guilty about that and still wanting to take them down.  It was a cool push-pull dynamic.

I feel like it could've went down in a more thrilling way.  I was expecting a big mission at the end to go wrong and the big reveal to come then.  It actually happened very gradually and without the punch I wanted.

I think this book was fun for what it was and I see potential for more Katherine Laurin books in my future!!

OVERALL: A fun take on high school secret societies.  I liked the characters and the revenge plot, but wanted a bigger punch out of the ending.


My Rating: 3/5



Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary eARC in exchange for this review & blog post.  It did not affect my opinions of the book.





Katherine Laurin lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons, and tiny dog. When she's not writing, Katherine enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, and listening to true crime podcasts. These Vengeful Hearts is her first young adult novel.

Twitter: @writerkatherine
Instagram: @kl_writer
Author Website: https://katherinelaurin.com/









Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday-- ARC August Considerations

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (May 12th) I'm one of them :)


Today's Topic

Top Ten Books I'm Considering For ARC August



  • Since today's topic was a FREEBIE & ARC August is rapidly approaching-- I decided to make a list of the books I am considering reading during the challenge.
  • I am woefully behind on reading (also, the speed at which I read does not match the want that I have for books).  I am hoping to knock some of these out next month
  • If you haven't heard of ARC August-- My friends over at Read, Sleep, Repeat host this every year and it's tons of fun.  Go check it out!!





1.  Again Again by E. Lockhart- This is one of my all-time favorite authors (I think I've read everything she's written- including kids book- besides this one!).


2.  A Breath Too Late by Rocky Callen- I got this in a trade and I really really want to read it.


3.  Little Universes by Heather Demetrios- I'm such a bad blogger.  I really really really wanted this ARC so bad-- and then I got it and didn't get around to picking it up.  I blame it on the mood reading + pregnancy/pandemic slump.


4.  What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel- I have enjoyed other books by this author and this topic is really interesting.


5.  Take Me With You by Tara Altebrando- Another author I really love.  I don't alway click with her books, but she does such interesting things with her stories, that I can't help but want to see what she does next!






6.  Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills- One of 2 Emma Mills books that I desperately want to read.


7.  Lucky Caller by Emma Mills- The 2nd Emma Mills book on my list and the 3rd example of me being a bad blogger because I really really wanted these ARCs and didn't read them :(


8.  The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White- Not my usual type of book, but I've liked a few of this author's books now and I want to try to go out of my comfort-zone a little more.


9.  Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe by Sarah Mlynowski- I really can't believe I haven't read this one.  I SO love Sarah Mlynowski's books (like she might be my #2 favorite author ever-- after Courtney Summers).


10.  How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian- I really liked Wrecked even if I did get frustrated with some of the characters, so I've been wanting to read this.






Have you read any of these??  Any you think I should definitely start my August reading with??