REVIEW – The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

“No one knows the worst thing they are capable of until they do it.”

I had been interested in reading this book for quite some time – I love historical fiction, but this had the added promise of a more gruesome/thrilling story. Well, it’s definitely disturbing. But it’s not quite a thriller (at least, not in the traditional sense).

This book is beautifully written, but don’t let it fool you – even in the lovely, “happy” moments, there’s an underlying cruelty and dread that follows Frannie pretty much everywhere. Since the book is told through a series of flashbacks, you somewhat already know what awaits Frannie at the end.

“That’s always been my trouble. Never knowing my place or being content in it.”

After traveling from Jamaica to England, Frannie transitions from slave to servant. However, having been enslaved for her entire life, she struggles to understand the difference. She’s still under the control and authority of someone else, and her life is still difficult regardless of the change in status.

Through Frannie’s letters/journal entries, we learn about a lot of horrific events that she either witnessed or participated in. It never gets too deep – many of the horrors are merely alluded to. That being said, there’s an overall lack of depth throughout the story – I felt that we skimmed the surface on so many topics instead of really digging in to the meat of the story.

There’s a deep sadness here too, and if you’re looking for something with a happy twist or ending, don’t expect to find it here.

I think Sara Collins shows a lot of promise, and i’d be happy to read whatever she decides to write next.

There are multiple trigger/content warnings for this one, so proceed with caution if you’re a sensitive reader.

Thank you Harper Perennial for the free book!

REVIEW – America’s First Female Serial Killer by Mary Kay McBrayer

“You had better wait and in a little while I will have another funeral for you.”

As an avid reader of true crime, I was very excited to receive a copy of America’s First Female Serial Killer in my September Night Worms box! Jane Toppan’s story is sad and disturbing. After feeling less than her entire life, she becomes an “Angel of Death” (for true crime newbies, that describes a medical professional who kills their patients).

This book is part nonfiction, part fictionalized(ish) narrative. McBrayer takes some liberties with Jane’s story, but tries to piece together a complete overview of her life. Some parts of this book are chilling (Jane’s confession is pretty horrific) but it’s not a keep-the-lights-on kind of book. I found some parts of this book more interesting than others, but I think it’s a great choice for anyone looking to read more true crime.

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Last Licks by Cynthia Baxter

Last Licks is the third entry in the Lickety Splits Ice Cream Shoppe Mystery series, and it’s my favorite so far! Each book in the series is better than the last.

Kate’s ice cream shop, Lickety Splits, sounds like the perfect place to stop for dessert (or a midday treat!) Cynthia Baxter strikes a great balance between gushing about delicious flavors of ice cream and having Kate work to solve the most recent murder in town.

This murder mystery caught me completely off guard! I thought I had it figured out, but Baxter threw in a really great twist. If you’re seeking a good, cozy Halloween murder mystery, make sure you add Last Licks to your list!

Thank you Kensington Books for the ARC.

REVIEW – The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

“I wanted to pit Dracula against my mom. As you’ll see, it’s not a fair fight.”

Full disclosure: this is only the second Grady Hendrix book i’ve read. However, I can confidently say he’s perfected the balance of campy, fun (and funny!) horror with some pretty dark and creepy stuff. This book follows a group of “respectable Southern ladies” in the late 80s and early 90s who enjoy “trashy” true crime novels. When a stranger moves in down the street, things get…weird (i’m sure from the title, you know where this is going).

This book has some GROSS scenes, but they’re balanced with laugh out loud moments. However, one scene in particular was absolutely terrifying and played to exactly a specific scenario that gives me major anxiety (and it was done PERFECTLY). Obviously, as with a lot of horror, content warnings abound.

If you’ve been thinking of reading some Grady Hendrix, what are you waiting for?

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Halloween and Christmas Round Up!


A WAFFLE LOT OF MURDER by Lena Gregory
This was my first book in this series and it was a really fun read! Gia and her best friend Savannah are such fun characters to follow – they’re the perfect team when it comes to solving mysteries in Boggy Creek, Florida. Are they qualified to do so? Well…not exactly. But that’s half the fun! The gossipy townspeople are hilarious and delightful and it’s so fun to feel like a sleuth right alongside Gia and Savannah.

DEATH BY FRENCH ROAST by Alex Erickson
I am really enjoying the Bookstore Cafe Mystery series! Anytime I find a cozy mystery set in Ohio, i’m immediately interested. Krissy owns Death by Coffee, the only coffee shop (and bookstore) in the small town of Pine Hills. She’s still relatively new to town, but quickly learns of a decades-old cold case. When asked to look into it, she unwittingly stirs up some long-festering conflicts that result in a fresh murder.

This was a really interesting case to try to solve alongside Krissy, and (of course) I will always be on board with the idea of a bookstore cafe.

MURDER AT AN IRISH CHRISTMAS by Carlene O’Connor
As always, Carlene O’Connor delivers – Murder at an Irish Christmas is a great entry in the Irish Village Mystery series! I loved that this book included more interactions with Siobhan’s siblings and the cozy Christmas vibes (with a touch of murder) are perfect for the upcoming winter months.

I’d highly recommend this series to seasoned or new cozy mystery readers alike.

Thank you to Kensington Books for the NetGalley ARCs!

REVIEW – Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

I was so excited to get a chance to read the new Lisa Jewell book early! I LOVED The Family Upstairs and had high hopes for this one. Did I love Invisible Girl quite as much? No. But it was still an enjoyable read, and I think a lot of Lisa Jewell fans are going to love it.

We follow Saffyre, a teenage girl with a complicated family history and a dark past; Cate, a mother of two and her husband Roan; and Owen, who is arguably the most interesting character in the book (and i’m sure parts of his story are going to be polarizing for readers!)

Saffyre goes missing and Owen is the last person who saw her. As you can imagine, all of these characters are interconnected in some way, and the answer to Saffyre’s disappearance isn’t as cut and dry as you may think. I’d recommend going into this book as blind as possible! I was really intrigued to find out what happened next, and the turns this book takes really caught me off guard.

That being said, I think it fell just a little flat. Maybe we didn’t get enough time with the characters. Or maybe some themes and ideas just weren’t as fleshed out as I would have liked. But if you’re a Lisa Jewell fan (or a thriller fan in general) you’ll probably want to pick this up!

Content warning: self harm, sexual assault, incel culture

Thank you Atria for the NetGalley ARC!

REVIEW – Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

Before you read any further, this is important: go into this book as blind as possible! Reading the synopsis is okay, but i’d avoid any thorough reviews until you’re done. I’ll tell you my thoughts without giving anything away:

  1. This book surprised the heck out of me.
  2. I really enjoyed reading it!

That’s kind of it. It’s a solid, classic thriller/suspense novel and a quick, fun read.

Thank you Harper Books for the ARC (and finished copy) of Goodnight Beautiful!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Murder in an Irish Cottage by Carlene O’Connor

Oh, I am really enjoying this series! Murder in an Irish Cottage picks up right where Murder in an Irish Pub left off (but you don’t necessarily need to read the series in order for things to make sense). When Siobhan’s fiance’s aunt is murdered in a tiny Irish village, the residents claim that fairies had something to do with it. Siobhan and Macdara know better…and slowly realize that the villagers each have their own secrets.

What I love about this series is that the mysteries are relatively elaborate and a lot of pieces need to come together before Siobhan (or the reader) can come close to finding a solution. O’Connor’s writing transports you right to Ireland, and I love spending time in the cozy villages and town she writes about (even if there might be a murderer on the loose…)

I’d highly recommend this series for seasoned and new cozy mystery readers alike!

Thank you Kensington Books for sending me a finished copy of this book.

REVIEW – Standalone by Paul Michael Anderson

“What you want and what existence needs are sometimes two different things.”

I had so much fun reading Standalone! I would recommend going into this one as blind as possible – there are some fun little Easter eggs here that will delight horror movie fans. There’s a LOT of plot and action packed into such a short little book, but it makes for a fun, quick read. This is definitely more sci-fi than it is horror (at least in my humble opinion) but there’s definitely some creepy, gory imagery that will shock and delight readers.

It’s worth noting: there’s a bonus story at the end of this book that expands on what the reader learns while reading Standalone. Don’t skip it!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Holiday Round Up!

I recently read a variety of Christmas-themed cozies all releasing at the end of September. Other than fall and Halloween, I think Christmas cozies are my favorite! Nothing is better than a cozy, small town setting draped in fresh snow. Twinkling lights, hot cocoa and a good murder mystery are all I need to settle in for a night of reading.

GINGERDEAD MAN by Maya Corrigan
I had so much fun reading Gingerdead Man! Val and Granddad are delightful characters and their relationship is adorable. Granddad is such a hoot – he’s whipsmart, hilarious and a great sleuth. The mystery was very interesting and the stakes were high. Overall this cozy is well written and the premise of the series is super cute.

HOLLYBERRY HOMICIDE by Sharon Farrow
Hollyberry Homicide is the second book i’ve read in the Berry Basket Mystery series. I love “visiting” Oriole Point, an adorable village on the shores of Lake Michigan.

When an elderly man known for playing Jacob Marley in Oriole Point’s annual production of A Christmas Carol is found dead, our main character steps up to fill the role – and ends up investigating his death. Marlee is convinced he has been murdered, but no one else seems to be convinced. When a second body turns up in town, the town is on high alert to catch a killer (or maybe two!?)

I had so much fun reading this book – it’s cute and funny, and Farrow does a great job of building suspense and crafting an interesting mystery.

CANDY SLAIN MURDER by Maddie Day
This was the first full book i’ve ready in the Country Store Mystery series, and I enjoyed it! I love reading about Robbie’s restaurant/shop, Pans ‘N Pancakes. In these weird quarantine times, this book really made me miss going out to breakfast! Day really captures the bustling atmosphere of a local diner, complete with delicious daily specials.

When a house fire uncovers the skeleton of an unknown victim, the town of South Lick, Indiana, is thrown into full investigative mode. Do the remains belong to a local doctor’s long-missing wife? What happened to her?

Robbie tries to stay out of the investigation, but Pans ‘N Pancakes is South Lick’s gossip hub, and she gets sucked in (and maybe, just maybe, she actually wants to be involved…) Then, another suspicious death occurs that could be tied to the discovery of the skeleton.

Day includes a lot of suspects throughout this book and I changed my mind a handful of times before the final reveal.

THE CORPSE WHO KNEW TOO MUCH by Debra Sennefelder
The Corpse Who Knew Too Much is the fourth book in the Food Blogger Mysteries, and the second one i’ve read. Our main character, Hope, is a relatively successful food blogger. Hope begins teaching her first blogging class at the local library, but is quickly distracted by the arrival of her old friend, Devon. Devon hosts a true-crime podcast about missing persons cases, and she’s back in town for the 20th anniversary of her mother’s disappearance. Knowing Hope’s recent experience with investigating and solving murders in town, Devon enlists Hope’s help. But when Devon dies in a suspicious car accident, Hope starts to suspect something more sinister at play.

I really enjoyed reading this book and trying to solve the disappearance and suspected murder. However, this is a little darker for a cozy which could be a draw for some readers but a deterrent for others. I would add a content warning to this one for portrayal and discussion of suicide. This wasn’t a negative for me, but I think it’s worth noting for other readers.

Thank you Kensington Books for the NetGalley ARCs!