I shined my flashlight on the wooden steps leading below, doing my best to stay calm as a frigid chill raised goosebumps on my arms and legs. There’s nothing down here but your stupid little sister. Monsters don’t exist. You’re being a baby.
Ignoring my own thoughts, I forced myself to begin my descent. Each step on the rickety stairs gave a loud squeak that made my heart pound and skin tingle. My flashlight continued to guide me down the steps, but the further down I went, the more it seemed that the darkness was getting thicker. Was that even possible? It’s all in your head.
By the time I reached the bottom of the steps, my nerves were rattled. Imogen had better be down here, and she better be ready to go. I was done playing these stupid games.
An awful smell rose on my left. I turned my light to it. On top of an old wooden table was an ornate black lantern. Wisps of black smoke came off it, but no light. I gave a good sniff and instantly recoiled.
Who lit this terrible thing? This was ten times worse than the stinky candles Mom lit every year. I plugged my nose and gave the contents of the lantern another glance. Inside was a grey-looking candle with weird flecks of black stuff molded inside of it. My nose crinkled. Whatever it was, I didn’t care. I needed to find Immy.
I turned back around to the rest of the basement. “Immy? Immy!” I shouted. I thought I heard a scuffle up ahead, so I shined my light that way.
Numerous toys littered the floor and old furniture covered with large white sheets took up most of the space in the basement. Something about the odd shapes the unwanted stuff created creeped me out, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave. I stood still, listening in the darkness. Was that … breathing? It was faint, but what else did I have to go off of?
I maneuvered around a cluster of covered couches, wiping my sweaty palms on my pants as I ventured towards the back. Ahead of me were small rows of sheeted items, but one stood out to me, one particularly little-girl shaped.
I smirked. Nice try, Immy.
I crept up on my toes, and as soon as I was within arm’s reach, I yanked the white sheet away. “Aha!” It was a rusty standing birdcage. But I could’ve sworn … Damn it! I kicked the nearest couch and wandered aimlessly to vent off my frustration.
What could I do to draw Immy out? Talking to her wasn’t working; I’d already tried that. I could try the candy route, but the bucket was all the way upstairs and she could hide again by the time I got back. I supposed I could knock stuff around until she emerged, but then I’d have to clean it all up or Mom and Dad would kill me. I walked up to an uncovered desk and wiped my finger along the top, inspecting the layer of dust on my forefinger. Maybe I could scare her out.
Suddenly, something grabbed my ankle from under the desk. I shrieked and yanked my leg back as my heart pounded.
QOTD: Do you like fairytale retellings? If so, which is your fave retelling?
If you like:
If you’re nodding your head to my checklist, then this one’s for you! It’s currently on Kindle Unlimited, with book 2 coming out later this month! (04.26.22)
What if Peter Pan was really the villain?
I’m a big fan of dark fairytale retellings, and this one did not disappoint. I’m so glad Diana insisted on reading this first for our buddy read this month, cause I enjoyed this take on the beloved tale of Peter Pan. Truth be told. I am not a big Peter Pan fan in general. Shocker! Cinderella was always my girl. But..I don’t hate it and feel it’s a story that can be reimagined in SO many creative ways.
My only complaint was that I still had a lot of questions that needed answers. I wanted to know more about Vane & the twins, and what it was their dad did.
I was also hoping to get an appearance with Hook, but maybe that will be in the next book? Otherwise, this was a nice quick read which took me only 2 days to finish! Which is a world record for my snail paced, sometimes non-existent reading.
All you need to know is that 1)Peter Pan is painted as a villain here, and 2) All the Lost Boys were hot men with tatts.
I seriously kept picturing Magic Mike in my head while reading this (you’re welcome! 😉)❤️🔥🔥
Is this on your tbr? Have you read it?
The stories were all wrong — Hook was never the villain.
For two centuries, all of the Darling women have disappeared on their 18th birthday. Sometimes they’re gone for only a day, some a week or a month. But they always return broken.
Now, on the afternoon of my 18th birthday, my mother is running around the house making sure all the windows are barred and the doors locked.
But it’s pointless.
Because when night falls, he comes for me. And this time, the Never King and the Lost Boys aren’t willing to let me go.
NOTE: The Never King is a reimagining of Peter and Wendy. Characters have been aged up for this darker, grittier version. If you like your enemies to lovers romance with hot, ruthless, morally gray love interests, you’ll enjoy The Never King and the Lost Boys. You can expect hate kissing, fighting, bickering, and ‘touch her and I’ll unalive you’ vibes. Book one ends on a cliff.
I hate it when I start off a book thinking it’s gonna be a stellar read, only to have it go downhill and end up a 2-3 star read 🤦🏻♀️
What I liked:
⁃ I was really digging Travis’ POV and his special talent. His narration was my favourite part.
⁃ The setting and mystery of where Maggie disappeared to.
What didn’t work for me:
I’ve come to realize that magical realism and cult stories are just not for me. I didn’t like where the story ended up going. Not only did I figure things out early on (which I’m sure most readers will), but I found myself rolling my eyes and thinking it was kinda stupid.
In the end, I think a lot of you will enjoy this one, especially if you were a fan of Season 3 Riverdale.
Have you read it? Did you enjoy any of Shea Ernshaw’s other books?
I highly recommend going audio if you haven’t read this yet. It has a full cast! Something I love.
This is a hard one to review without any spoilers, but here it goes..
I wasn’t a fan of The Guest List, but I really enjoyed this one! It was a lot of fun trying to guess whodunnit. I had my list of suspects, but even then, Lucy Foley did a great job of adding those twists in the end! 👏👏 I didn’t see it coming! Well done!! Everyone in this book had secrets, making them all sus.
Not gonna lie. The pickier, twisted side of me, could have gone with a darker ending. But regardless, it was still very satisfying!
If you enjoyed Lock Every Door by Riley Sager, then I think you’ll like this one. Ok, but even if you didn’t like his book, I still think you should try this one. 😉🖤
Me: Yes, I do! I married mine. But I also believe your soulmate isn’t necessarily a romantic partner.
What to expect:
A Romeo & Juliet retelling.
If you like:
⁃ angels, fantasy
⁃ Bad boys
⁃ Spicy reads
⁃ Enemies to lovers
⁃ Morally grey characters
This one played out like a TV series in my head. I even created a playlist for it on Spotify. Link in my bio.
I’m total trash when it comes to fantasy romance. So this was purely a guilty pleasure read for me.
@olives21 What did you do to me?!! Oh my poor heart. Eventhough I knew what was coming, I was still somehow not prepared.
I really enjoyed the whole angel hierarchy and feather earning system. It was a very unique way to integrate the story of Romeo & Juliet. There were so many great characters, that it was hard to pick a fave, including the ones you hate!
Jarod definitely stole my heart, bear hair and all. 😂 I found myself giggling at Jarod’s & Leigh’s conversation about chest hair. IFYKYK.
I also had a soft spot for Asher and can’t wait to see what happens with him in book 2! Especially with that ending!!
And Celeste! Omg..how could you not love her?!! Loved her sass and style. Also looking forward to seeing how she earns her wings.
I’m so glad I picked this one up! It got me out of my slumpy reading mood and can be found on KU.
Annie Ward is the author of Beautiful Bad. She has a BA in English literature from UCLA and an MFA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. Her first short screenplay, Strange Habit, starring Adam Scott, was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award winner at the Aspen Film Festival. She has received a Fulbright scholarship and an Escape to Create artist residency. She lives in Kansas with her family.
From the acclaimed author of Beautiful Bad comes an explosive new novel of revenge, murder and shocking secrets—where the victims aren’t who you might think. Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Lucy Foley, and Liv Constantine.
Three women. Two bodies. One big lie…
A tangled web of lies draws together three women in this explosive thriller of revenge, murder and shocking secrets.
At an elite private school nestled in the Colorado mountains, Natalie, an office assistant, dreams of having a life like the school moms she deals with every day. Women like Brooke—a gorgeous heiress, ferociously loving mother and serial cheater—and Asha, an overprotective mom who suspects her husband of having an affair. Their fates are bound by the handsome assistant athletic director Nicholas, whom Natalie loves, Brooke wants and Asha needs.
But when two bodies are carried out of the school one morning, it seems the tension between mothers and daughters, rival lovers, and the haves and have-nots has shattered the surface of this isolated, affluent town—where people stop at nothing to get what they want.
THE NECKTIE OF her ex was still clasped in her hand when Natalie woke. Her head was pounding, and her mouth tasted bad, like she’d fallen into bed without brushing her teeth. She had a horrible, cloudy feeling that she’d done something regrettable, but in that moment, she couldn’t remember what it was.
She wasn’t at home. Instead, she was upright, a seat belt crossing her chest. In front of her was the windshield of her own car, coated in a sheet of frost, and her I LOVE COLORADO! key chain was dangling from the ignition.
Natalie realized then that she’d blacked out. It had happened before, when she was much younger, and the memory of that awful awakening hit her with an electrifying jolt. After a frantic inspection, she concluded that all her clothes were on and nothing seemed torn or altered. She slipped the tie into her coat pocket.
Yanking the rearview mirror toward her face, she saw thather hazel eyes were huge, the pupils tiny pinpoints, and her mascara was smudged. A chapped crack ran down the bottom of her lower lip, but there were no other bruises or cuts. It didn’t appear that she’d crashed into a building or a tree. There were no sirens.
She rolled down her window, and a thin wall of ice collapsed into the car, dampening her plaid skirt. It was almost dark outside.
Work. She was at work. Across the snowy parking lot, she could see the back door to the east wing of the private school where she was an administrative assistant in the front office.
Pulling on her stocking cap and opening the car door, Natalie noticed footprints, slightly softened by snowfall, leading from her car to the rear exit of the school’s gym. Another set of identical prints returned from the door to the car, but not in a straight line. They zigzagged, and there was a large compression in the snow, just about the size of a small person like her. Gingerly, she lowered one boot into the first of the prints to make sure it was a match. It was. It seemed likely that the body-shaped spot in the snow was an indication that she’d fallen, and a quick pat down of her coat confirmed that it was wet.
Natalie stepped out of her car and squinted into the wind. Her legs felt weak, as if she’d just returned from one of her longer runs.
She retraced her own tracks, leading to the school. The sky was changing color from a grayish stormy dusk to night, and it struck Natalie, who loved art, that the swirling white flurries between her and the stars resembled a monochrome Van Gogh painting. Snow-capped peaks surrounded her on all sides. Down the mountain was the town center. Lights twinkled. Houses, vacation condos, and old-timey shops were piled like Christmas gifts on top of one another alongside a dark and twisting river.
The heavy back door was ajar. When she tugged on it, it groaned, scraped, and opened. Heart pounding, she went in.
During school hours, the sports pavilion would have been filled with the sound of bouncing basketballs, laughter, whistles, and sneakers squeaking on the gym floor. Now, there was distant, droning pop music playing up on the mezzanine, but no one was singing along or dropping weights to the floor with a crash.
Natalie walked with slow, hesitant steps over to the double doors that opened onto the basketball courts.
Normally those doors stood propped open by gray rubber wedges. Now they were closed, but each had a rectangular window. Natalie curled her hand and made a cup for her eyes.
It took a second to see anything at all. The court was dim, aglow only from the small green emergency lights situated over the doors and in the corners of the room. Her eyes were adjusting. Something was there.
She jumped away from the door as if the glass had burned her skin. Her hands flew up to cover her mouth. A scream almost escaped, but she stopped it in her throat with a choking noise.
Not far from the door was what looked like a crumpled pile of clothes and broken body parts, motionless in the middle of a spreading pool of blood.
What the hell did I do?
The security lights in the Falcon Academy parking lot flickered. It was early Monday morning and still dark. A beat-up Pathfinder left tracks in the snow as it swerved into a spot re-served for employees.
Harry Doyle climbed out and used his heel to squelch acigarette into the ground. He grabbed a battered baseball cap from the dashboard and plopped it on his head, holding down what little was left of his hair. After slamming the driver’s door shut, he looked up at the sky, which was turning pink and orange to the east. An enormous blanket of fluffy white covered the parking lot. Last night had been the first big storm of the season, and some parents would call their kids in sick so they could hit the slopes with their friends.
The sixty-eight-year-old custodian shuffled towards the rear entrance of the sports pavilion. The automatic fluorescents in the back hallway glowed a sickly yellow. He hummed as he plodded down the hall to the boys’ changing room, where he put his lunch and jacket away in his locker before going to the storage closet. Harry grabbed the fiberglass handle of the deluxe wet mop and hauled it, and the bucket, out into the corridor toward the basketball courts. Pushing past the double doors, he activated all nine light switches with a swipe of his hand. The bulky, caged gymnasium overheads burst to life with a buzz.
“What the hell?” he exclaimed, dropping the mop.
The handle clattered against the maple wood planks. “Ohdear God.” The words came out strangled.
Harry scrambled for his phone in a zippered compartment of his slacks.
“Hello?” he managed to say, after dialing 911. He was having trouble breathing. “The Falcon Academy. Off Highway 70. Just west of Blackswift. Oh Jesus. Jesus Mary and Joseph. We need help. There’s a lot of blood.”
QOTD: What’s your favourite fairytale? Do you enjoy fairytale retellings?
It’s so hard to review this one without ruining the story. It’s a retelling of the German Fairytale ‘The Goose Girl’, which I haven’t read yet. But I really enjoyed this one! It had a little bit of everything: magic, adventure, a hint of romance and lgbtq rep.
This was like Kaz Bekker meets Jack Sparrow. The cast of characters in this one was just brilliant.
Vanja was such a good morally grey character! She was frustrating at times, but you couldn’t help but root for her to do the right thing. My fave character though, was Ragne and her red eyes!
Would definitely recommend checking it out if you want something different.
If I had know walking into this book that it was compared to Eleanor Oliphant, I wouldn’t have bothered picking it up. Did I hate it? No. But it was another overhyped read for me, that was just kinda meh.
What didn’t work for me:
⁃ It was slow, boring and repetitive. But it was also told in Molly’s perspective, which was like a double edged sword. It wouldn’t have been the same otherwise.
⁃ once I stopped reading, and put the book down, it was very easy to lose momentum and not wanna pick it back up..like for days! I ended up skimming just to get to the best part. The end. Which I totally guessed from the beginning.
I’ve come to realize cozy mysteries are slower paced. With that in mind, I enjoyed the mystery aspect. I had my Poirot hat on the whole time.
What I enjoyed:
I liked the cast of characters. Molly was like your modern day Amelia Bedelia, except smarter. Remember her?! I love Amelia bedelia.
I really enjoyed Gran and all her lessons! I felt like those were the best parts.
“We’re all entitled to a bad day now and again. But when they are all bad days, with no pleasant ones, then it’s time to reconsider things.”
Overall, I’m glad I buddy read this with some friends who encouraged me to see it through, cause I almost DNF’d it, but was also curious enough to see whether I was right about whodunnit.
QOTD: What was your last overhyped/disappointing read?
Ugh..I wanted to like this one! The FOMO was real you guys!! Everyone raved about it on Bookstagram and book tok…except me.
MY ISSUES WITH IT..
– I happen to be a fan of the fake dating trope, but this one just didn’t work for me. I wasn’t convinced.
– I found it incredibly annoying how many times Adam being an ass or dick, along with his height was mentioned. It was literally every other page! I get it! He’s the fucking Shaquille O’Neal of the research department.
“She was going to lose her visa and her only source of income and move back to Canada, where it snowed all the time and people ate moose heart.”
– Perhaps I missed the joke? But it sounded so stupid and ignorant! Not impressed.
Maybe if the author were Canadian, I would have given her a pass. Just sayin..
– Ok, seriously. I did not see the REYLO (Kylo Ren & Rey from Star Wars) connection. If anything, picturing Adam Driver as Adam Carlsen was SO not sexy and cringey. After my friend mentioned it, I couldn’t unsee him in my head while reading!
I did however, appreciate the women in STEM rep, which is new to me.
Overall, the premise I was sold on, turned out to be a disappointing read. womp womp. Maybe this author is just not for me? I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet.
I’m so glad I borrowed it from the library! Don’t you just love the library?