Book Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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Title: Ninth House
Series: Alex Stern
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 458
Source: Personal Collection
Rating: ★★★★☆
Amazon / Book Depository

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.


Ninth House was one of my most anticipated releases for October. I like Leigh Bardugo’s writing style. And I admit, I was curious to see if she can actually write adult fiction as well as she writes Young Adult fiction. The answer to that question is, she does.

I picked up Ninth House for the Barnes & Noble Book Club. It was November’s book of the month to read. It took me much longer to read the book because the episcleritis in my right eye made it painful to read – you never realize how much your eyes move until you try to read with an eye that hurts if it moves. In all honesty, I think that’s the only real reason it took so long to read this book.

As with most of Leigh Bardugo’s books, it does have a slightly slow, slightly confusing start. Where the prologue starts, you have no idea of what might be going on. Don’t worry, you’ll get there. You just have to be patient. Once you get into the story though, you’ll be sucked in. I read the last 200 pages or so in one sitting, my eye be damned. I didn’t want to put it down.

I liked Alex. She’s a tough kid but she’s also vulnerable. She comes from nothing, doesn’t feel like she belongs at Yale and from a standpoint of money, she really doesn’t. After all, she’s not rich. Her parents couldn’t pay her way in. She’s there because Lethe wants her. But she redeems herself well.

Dean Sandow is just plain a jerk. He’s one of those men who blames the victim. You’ll see what I mean, but honestly, he’s just a douche of a character that I really didn’t like at any point in the story. You might think he was doing Alex a favor by offering her a scholarship and a fresh start, but he’s only out for himself as you’ll see.

Darlington, an absent character that we get to know vicariously through what amounts to memories, is a mystery even after the fact. I think he’ll figure even more prominently in book 2, for reasons I won’t be disclosing.

Dawes – Pammie/Oculus – is an interesting character. She’s shy, she doesn’t know how to handle people. And she becomes very attached to the people that she cares for. She’s a fierce champion for her friends and those she loves and frankly, she is not to be trifled with.

Detective Turner is another one who is out for himself. He just wants to get ahead and make some money on the side by being Centurion for Lethe. He helps them investigate deaths or crimes that might be related to the Houses, but honestly, I didn’t care for him.

The book deals with some pretty deep situations such as frat parties that end in the rape of drugged girls, rape where the victim is believed to just be acting out instead of being a victim, and even victim blaming – although the victim blaming is in connection with a non-sexual attack. I, and the group of book club members who were mostly women, felt that Ms. Bardugo handled these things well, showing in a veiled way how society sees these types of things.

I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars because I felt it was awesome but could use some improvement. There were a couple of blatant editing errors. The ending of the book more than makes up for it, but not enough to give it a full five stars.

Blogtober: Book Review – Slumber by Becky Bird

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Title: Slumber
Author: Becky Bird
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling
Release Date: August 1, 2019
Format: Kindle
Pages: 277
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Amazon / Book Depository

A YA retelling of classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty

Prince Thomas cannot take the throne without a queen. Though the problem isn’t his lack of suitors but his refusal to marry a princess that is less than perfect.

The cardinal presents him with an opportunity: a quest to find the most beautiful princess in the land who has been in slumber for a century. But, unbeknown to the prince, the cardinal plans to kill him as soon as the prince embarks on his quest, and take the throne for himself.

Luckily, Prince Thomas’s path crosses with Lucy, a spirited orphan runaway, who saves his life and convinces the prince to continue the quest. When they eventually find Princess Aurora, they also find another contender – Prince Philip – vying for the princess’s heart.

Despite their mutual disdain for each other, Lucy agrees to assist the prince, and Thomas accepts her help to keep him alive long enough to beat out his competition and return to rule his kingdom alongside his perfect bride.

They just don’t count on falling for each other in the process.


If you’re looking for a fairy tale retelling that makes you ask, “what did I just read?”, then this book is for you. It’s a retelling of Sleeping Beauty… with elements of Snow White. Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. Elements of Snow White. Prince Thomas = Snow White. Cardinal Lionel = Evil Queen. Prince Thomas’s Guards = Huntsman. Yep.

So let’s start off with what I thought of the characters, shall we? First up we have Lucy. A tomboy in a century where that’s just not appropriate, of course. She’s sassy, mouthy, and opinionated. I love her. She’s hilarious. She’s also a feminist, getting angry when someone tries to make something easier for her because she’s a female.

Next up we have Jack. Lucy’s best friend. I’m not sure what to think of him. He’s got an eye for color coordinating and fashion, but can’t seem to get the hang of basic “manly” things. It’s like he and Lucy are the polar opposites of what the time period considers appropriate for their gender.

Prince Thomas is, well, a pompous ass at the beginning of the book. He’s shallow, rude, and just plain irritating. I don’t like him much for about 2/3 of the book. Then he finally becomes a likable character.

Cardinal Lionel is the bad guy. He’s a real piece of work. He masquerades as a man of God but has designs on taking the throne himself. He’s obnoxious and honestly, kind of stupid and boring as a bad guy.

Princess Aurora – finally, our Sleeping Beauty. She’s stupid, vapid, and so shallow and self-centered, I want to scream. I can’t believe how obnoxious she is. All she cares about are her looks.

Prince Phillip – he’s not much better than Aurora and honestly, they deserve each other. But at least he is loyal and a man of his word if nothing else.

The plot lines are ok I suppose. They aren’t great, but they aren’t terrible either. The book had the hate-to-love trope in it and honestly, in my opinion, it wasn’t done very well. I would rather the main characters either been in love from the beginning or hated each other through the whole book. It just bugged me. It was far too predictable.

I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars because it was quick and easy to read and it wasn’t a horrible book. Just not one I’d choose to re-read.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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Title: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Celadon Books
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Format: eBook
Pages: 304
Source: Personal Collection
Rating: ★★★★☆
Amazon / Book Depository

“That rarest of beasts: the perfect thriller. This extraordinary novel set my blood fizzing—I quite literally couldn’t put it down. I told myself I’d just dip in; eleven hours later—it’s now 5:47 a.m.—I’ve finished it, absolutely dazzled.”
—A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

Promising to be the debut novel of the season The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive…

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….


Holy Fricking Crap. That’s me putting this nicely. Why did I wait so long to read this book? Why did I not read it back when it first came out? Because seriously, I shouldn’t have. I really shouldn’t have. I’m going to start with a character assessment.

Theo Faber: I truly liked him. He’s one of those characters that you can’t help but like. He’s helpful, concerned, he loves his wife. He’s like the perfect guy. And he genuinely wants to help Alicia, doesn’t he?

Alicia Berenson: I didn’t really like her. Not because I thought she was guilty of murdering her husband, but because she just struck me as a little witch who just wanted her own way and had to get it. She didn’t care who she stomped on to get it. Just look at her relationship with Jean-Felix.

Jean-Felix Martin: I couldn’t really figure him out. Did he love Alicia? Did he just use her for her art? What’s the deal with this dude?

Max Berenson: Another character who just threw me for a loop. I’d never have guessed between Alicia’s diary and his attitude what would be revealed for certain toward the end.

Alex Michaelides has a writing style that is very easy to read. It only took me a couple of days to read The Silent Patient and honestly, if I’d had the time to just sit down and read, I could have probably read it in one day. It sucks you in and you just have to keep reading. You have to know if Theo will get Alicia to speak. You have to know if Theo will uncover what really happened the night Alicia’s husband Gabriel was murdered. And you’ll never, ever guess the ending.

The only true issues I had with this book have nothing to do with the story or writing style. It has to do with the sloppy editing job that was done. I found several spots where words were missing. Which tells me that the editors weren’t paying attention because it made it to print that way. I realize this means the author missed putting those words in, but that’s why they have editors. To catch errors like that.

Because of the editing errors I gave the book four stars, which is a shame because this should be a five star read.

Book Review: Donn’s Hill by Caryn Larrinaga

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Title: Donn’s Hill
Series: The Soul Searchers Mysteries
Author: Caryn Larrinaga
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: April 5, 2019
Format: Kindle
Source: BookSprout
Rating: ★★★★☆
Amazon / Book Depository

Mackenzie Clair needs a fresh start. The death of her father and a broken relationship rendered her old life unlivable. What better place to build a new one than Donn’s Hill, the most haunted town in America and her favorite childhood vacation spot?

But returning to Donn’s Hill awakens more than nostalgia. As memories resurface, so does a lost psychic ability to talk to the dead… a power the poltergeist haunting Mac’s apartment is eager to use.

Aided by her new roommate—a spirited Tortoiseshell cat named Striker—and the ghost-hunting crew of the Soul Searchers, Mac struggles to control her newfound talents. She’d better get a handle on them fast, because someone in town is hiding a deadly secret. If Mac can’t divine the truth, Donn’s Hill will never be the same.


Donn’s Hill is a horror/mystery/thriller that involves the paranormal. As such, I knew I had to give it a shot. I wasn’t disappointed.

Donn’s Hill is Caryn Larrinaga’s debut novel. As such, it does suffer a bit from “first book syndrome” but in all honesty, it doesn’t really detract from the story. This one needs the long set-up to make it as impactful as it is. Not to mention this is the first book in a series, which makes it even more forgivable that the set-up takes as long as it does.

I really like Mac. She’s funny, she’s not overly happy with her gift at first, and honestly, she’s just an all-around likable character. I also like Graham and Kit a lot. I’m on the fence about Penelope – I hated her at first, but things settled down and I don’t quite hate her anymore. Of course, as a cat lover, I definitely love Striker.

I have a copy of Donn’s Shadow, the second book in the series and I can’t wait to get started on it because I’m sure it’s going to be just as amazing as the first book. After all, there’s still a ghost that might be harming people to get rid of.

I received a copy of this book free from BookSprout in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: There’s Someone in Your House by Stephanie Perkins

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Title: There’s Someone Inside Your House
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: Young Adult Thriller, Young Adult Horror
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 16, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 287
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★★☆
Amazon / Book Depository

Love hurts…

Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn’t far behind.

Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets.


I’ve been wanting to read There’s Someone Inside Your House since I first started hearing about it, before it came out. Back then, it was a book that had some hype to it – people were getting really cool packages for this book. I wasn’t lucky enough to receive one of the packages and eventually the book fell off my radar. But the other day it was on display as a slasher/horror book for Halloween at the library and I remembered how much I wanted to read it, so I snagged it. I’m so glad I did.

Written by Stephanie Perkins, the same author of Anna and the French Kiss, this book definitely isn’t Anna and the French Kiss, or the rest of that trilogy either. This book is completely different. Those books were, as I recall, more contemporary romance type YA books. This is all thriller/horror. Trust me.

The writing was great. It was easy to read and the writing style helped keep my interest. The action starts from the very beginning, but in my opinion, the best thrillers do have action from the very beginning. I rarely like thrillers that start off slowly.

As for the characters, I love Makani. She’s fierce, loyal, and honestly, her secret just didn’t seem to be all that bad in the bigger scheme of things. Her idea that she might deserve to have the killer’s attention turned to her is just ludicrous in my opinion. I also loved Ollie. He was a great match for Makani and she brought him out of his shell a great deal. Plus, he made other friends in the process. Darby was great, though I cannot speak to the accuracy of the transgender representation, suffice it to say that I was glad to see there was transgender representation in this book. So many books I’ve read with LGBTQIA+ characters don’t cover trans characters. Alex was annoying but funny and I loved her character as well. We didn’t get as much of Darby and Alex as I might have liked, but the book wasn’t really about them.

As I said earlier, the action started right away. But I think it was necessary to set the tone and mood for the book. This was someone who was gaslighting his/her victims. This killer was playing with his/her victims’ minds before killing them. This killer took their time. The sick, twisted cat-and-mouse game played the killer played with the victims is honestly terrifying. Imagine finding objects in places they don’t belong, objects just plain missing, and thinking that something might be wrong with you. That’s what this killer did to his/her victims before actually killing them.

The one thing that was never explained was the reasoning behind the way each body was mutilated and that kind of bothered me. Each body was mutilated in a different way but there was never an explanation given for the mutilation, only the explanation for why the killer did what he/she did. That’s one of the few complaints I had for this book was the lack of explanation.

I gave this book four stars on Goodreads because it truly is a great book. I’m hoping to see more thrillers from Stephanie Perkins because she does have a knack for it.

Blogtober Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

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Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Series: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: Young Adult Horror
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: October 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 316
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★★★
Amazon / Book Depository

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.


I’d had this book on my radar for a while, but couldn’t seem to find a copy of it. Then I happened to be at the library in the YA section the other day, and lo and behold, it was in a display of Halloween-worthy books. So I snagged it up. I started it the night I got it and finished it a couple of days later because I only had time to read late at night. This is the kind of ghost story that will keep you interested.

Kendare Blake has woven a tale that is unlike any other ghost story. First, you have Cas. He’s a ghost-hunter. Sort of. He doesn’t hunt ghosts like you see on TV. He isn’t just trying to figure out if a place is haunted. He’s trying to remove the ghosts. But only certain ghosts. Only those that are dangerous. Ghosts that are angry about being dead, have turned evil, and are trying to or succeeding in harming humans. He gets it from his father.

Cas’s mother is a Wiccan. She cleans Cas’s athame used to “kill” ghosts. She makes herbal remedies, herbal protection spells, and works with candle makers to make “spell candles”. She’s sweet, worried for her son, and one tough mother.

Cas’s father is dead. He lost his life while trying to “kill” a ghost. He’s the reason Cas is doing this – he wants revenge. Not much else is known about Cas’s father, other than the fact that he had a network of friends who could help him out, who now help Cas out.

Mike, Will, and Chase are the school jocks and local bully/jerk squad. They’re seriously obnoxious and quite rude. I’d say more but I’d spoil the book if I did.

Carmel is the sweet girl that everyone likes – including Cas. He quickly makes friends with her and she will play a very important part in the story. Trust me, you’ll like her as much as everyone else does.

Thomas and Morfran. Thomas is a classmate of Cas’s and becomes one of his best friends. Morfran is Thomas’s grandfather. They’re both integral parts of the story. They’re witches and that’s all you really need to know right now.

Now for our second main character – Anna herself. Anna is a beautiful sixteen year old girl, who happens to have been murdered in 1958. She’s not the nicest of ghosts and has a habit of killing anyone who comes into her house. Except for some reason, Cas. She lets him go. Now Cas has to figure out why she let him live – and how to stop her from killing. And just when he thinks he has it all figured out, including her tragic past, another wrench is thrown into the mix.

I loved the writing in this book. It wasn’t flowery or pretty and it flowed well. The book kept me wondering what was coming next and was pretty fast paced. I was enthralled from the beginning. It does start off a bit slow, but it’s not terribly slow.

This one is perfect for spooky Halloween reading! Grab your favorite thunderstorm sounds playlist if there isn’t a real one going on, grab your favorite hot drink, a blanket, and settle in. You’re going to love this one.

I gave it five out of five stars because I just couldn’t imagine this book not being a five star read when I was finished with it. Plus, there is a sequel. I’m waiting for it to become available at my library.

Book Review: Hocus Pocus & The All-New Sequel by A. W. Jantha

Title: Hocus Pocus & The All-New Sequel
Author: A. W. Jantha
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Disney FreeForm
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 521
Source: Personal Collection
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Hocus Pocus is beloved by Halloween enthusiasts all over the world. Diving once more into the world of witches, this electrifying two-part young adult novel, released on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1993 film, marks a new era of Hocus Pocus. Fans will be spellbound by a fresh retelling of the original film, followed by the all-new sequel that continues the story with the next generation of Salem teens.

Shortly after moving from California to Salem, Massachusetts, Max Dennison finds himself in hot water when he accidentally releases a coven of witches, the Sanderson sisters, from the afterlife. Max, his sister, and his new friends (human and otherwise) must find a way to stop the witches from carrying out their evil plan and remaining on earth to torment Salem for all eternity.

Twenty-five years later, Max and Allison’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Poppy, finds herself face-to-face with the Sanderson sisters in all their sinister glory. When Halloween celebrations don’t quite go as planned, it’s a race against time as Poppy and her friends fight to save her family and all of Salem from the witches’ latest death-defying scheme.


I’m going to be honest, if there ever was a sequel that didn’t need to exist, this one is it. For one thing, they wrote the first half of the book based on the the movie Hocus Pocus. The movie left no questions, other than maybe did Jay and Ernie/Ice get out of those cages. Other than that, we didn’t have any questions. It never once occurred to us that the Sanderson sisters might find a way to come back. The way the movie is set up, it is pretty obvious that they’re supposed to be gone forever once the sun rises if they don’t get to use the life potion. Not to mention, honestly, if you’re picking this book up, you’ve probably already seen the movie so you know the story. You don’t need the first half of the book.

As far as the sequel, it wasn’t necessary. It didn’t seem like there was anything in “The All-New Sequel” that was worth having put down on paper. The writing was great, the characters were great, the main character of the story, Poppy, is a member of the LGBT community – although you have no idea how “out” she is – her best friend Travis knows, but there’s no indication until the very end of the book that anyone else knows. You only know because she has a crush on her friend. It’s never implicitly stated.

Poppy’s best friend Travis and her love interest are both black. So there are other races represented in this book as well. But the fact of the matter is, no matter how good the writing was, no matter what kind of representation there is, the book wasn’t a necessary addition to the franchise.

There are rumors going around that there might be a movie made of the sequel. Perhaps it would have been better to just make the sequel as a movie in the first place, if it those rumors are true. I know I’d rather have watched it than read it, since originally Hocus Pocus was just a movie.

I gave the book 3 stars because it’s not a terrible book, I just don’t think it was really a necessary book.