The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

Megan Miranda examines the effect of media sensationalism in the aftermath of a tragic event in her latest book, The Girl From Widow Hills. Everyone may think that they know the true story, but in reality, the truth is more twisted than anyone could ever believe.

Arden Maynor is the girl from Widow Hills. When she was six years old, Arden was swept away by a rainstorm while she was sleepwalking in the middle of the night. She went missing for days. While her story may have begun locally, it quickly gained traction and became national news. People from all over flocked to Widow Hills to help search for Arden. Prayer vigils and search parties were set up as rescuers combed the area searching for any sign of where she could be.

Against all odds, Arden was found days later alive and clinging to a storm drain. After her rescue, she became a living miracle. Her mother wrote a book. Fame swallowed what little sense of normalcy Arden had left. People sent letters, both positive and negative, as they all demanded that Arden make something important out of her life since she had survived. They wanted recompense for all the time and money that they poured into the search for her and for her recovery after she was found. On the anniversary every year, the publicity worsened. It all became too much.

Arden disappeared. She changed her name and tried to make a new life for herself. Now living hundreds of miles away from Widow Hills, Arden goes by Olivia. She has has stayed out of the media’s attention for years and started a new life. As the twentieth anniversary of her rescue creeps ever closer, Olivia is sure that the media will track her down and force her to live out the horrors of that time and the subsequent messiness after her rescue. Becoming increasingly uneasy, Olivia believes she is being watched. She has started sleepwalking again, sometimes waking up outside her house. One night, Olivia wakes up in her yard with the corpse of a man she knows from her past laying at her feet. What has she done? Why is he there? Olivia soon realizes the tranquility she has had for the last few years is going to disappear and havoc will rush back into her life. She is once again going to become the center of the story and there is nothing she can do to stop it.

This book is also available in the following formats:

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

Grady Hendrix has written a superb new novel about a women’s book club battling to save their small town from a mysterious newcomer. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a supernatural thriller set in the 1990s that highlights life in a small Southern town that is seemingly set in its ways. When a newcomer turns up in town with his white van parked in front of his elderly aunt’s house, most of the town are relieved that he has come to take care of her. One of the people not convinced: Patricia Campbell.

Patricia gave up her career as a nurse to marry her ambitious doctor beau and have children. Feeling slightly suffocated, Patricia needs a break. Her kids don’t care, her husband is hardly ever home, and her to-do-list is endlessly long and incredibly boring. The only bright spot in her life is her book club, a group of local women who are very close-knit and who all have a love of true crime.

James Harris, the newcomer, quickly becomes a topic of conversation at book club – mostly due to the fact that his van is an eyesore. The others believe him to be artistic, sensitive, and attractive, but despite Patricia’s initial attraction, she has her doubts. After some local children go missing across town, Patricia becomes increasingly worried that James has something to do with it. She starts her own investigation , but James is determined to stay in town. He inserts himself more and more into her life to the point where Patricia is terrified that he will destroy everything that she holds dear. Soon all that stands between James and the unsuspecting community is Patricia and her book club. They must find a way to save their town from him even when their families don’t see an issue with James’ kindness.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Liz Moore’s newest book, Long Bright River, is a dive into drug addiction and the impact it has on families across generations. Alternating back and forth the present and past, Moore tells the moving story of two sisters and the additions that define their lives and relationships.

Mickey and Kacey are sisters. Living in Philadelphia, the two travel the same streets on a daily basis, but they live vastly different lives. Growing up in a Philadelphia neighborhood that saw the opioid crisis destroy their family and the community around them, Mickey and Kacey have changed immensely since their childhood days. As children, the two were inseparable, sharing a bed in their grandmother’s house and struggling to survive in a world without their parents. Kacey always stuck up for Mickey, keeping her safe and taking her side. Mickey, the older sister, kept an eye out for Kacey, making sure that she was where she needed to be.

Mickey is a police officer. Kacey lives on the streets, struggling with addiction. They haven’t spoken in years, yet Mickey keeps an eye out for Kacey as she drives through the area. Mickey never stops worrying about her sister, hoping she will eventually get, and stay, sober.

One day, Mickey realizes that she hasn’t seen Kacey in a while. She has disappeared. Mickey starts asking around and people are hesitant to say anything about her whereabouts. The same time that Kacey disappeared, a string of murders starts in Mickey’s district. This extra stress leads Mickey to take the law in her own hands. She will do anything to find the person responsible for the murders, and hopefully her sister, before her world comes crashing down.

This book is also available in the following formats:

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Do you have authors whose new books you anxiously await? I’m sure you do. One of the newest authors I have added to this list is Stuart Turton. Turton wrote The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastlewhich was published in 2018. That book is a mix of an Agatha Christie novel and the movie Groundhog Day as readers learn that Evelyn Hardcastle keeps dying and Aiden must solve her murder or relive the day over and over. It kept me engaged from start to finish, so when I learned that Turton had a new book coming out at the end of 2020, I knew I wanted to read it.

The Devil in the Dark Water is Turton’s latest novel and it’s a gloriously written complex historical mystery telling the story of people trapped on a ship traveling across the high seas to Amsterdam. Stuck on a ship means that there has to be a bad guy and, OH BOY, are they bad! It’s a bit of a closed room mystery mixed with Sherlock Holmes and a strong dab of history. Read it and let me know what you think. Let’s get into this review!

It’s 1634. Samuel Pipps is the world’s greatest detective, traveling the world with his bodyguard Arent Hayes solving cases that no one can solve. He sees things others miss and can easily figure out the answer to whatever is plaguing him in a case. Arent believes Sammy is gifted and can solve anything. When Sammy ends up being arrested for a crime he may not have committed, Arent is devastated. The two end up boarding a ship to Amsterdam where Sammy is locked away in a small dark and musty cell. He is being transported to Amsterdam to stand trial for his crimes and Arent’s job to keep him safe becomes immensely harder.

As soon as they head out to sea, issues start to plague the ship. Devilry wreaks havoc on the ship and passengers and crew alike are scared. Pipps is shackled inside his cell, leaving Arent to solve the mystery without him. A leper who should have been dead is stalking the ship. Livestock is brutally killed. A strange symbol connected to Arent’s past starts showing up all over the ship.

When the deaths start, panic reaches a fever pitch. Could a demon be responsible for everything happening on board the ship? Voices whisper to people promising their heart’s desire for a small price. Arent needs help solving this mystery and reaches out to other passengers he deems safe. Multiple passengers are connected to this mystery with past secrets and hidden questions that threaten to sink the ship, killing everyone onboard.

This book is also available in the following format:

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

Guest post by Anthony

I love horror and suspense stories but I tend to be a little bit of chicken when it comes to movies or TV shows. Because of that books are where I usually go for my creepy or suspenseful tales. A recent novel that I read that falls into that category is The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling.

The Luminous Dead is a young adult book that follows the story of a cave diver named Gyre who lives on an alien world and takes on a mysterious but lucrative new job in order to get enough money to leave the planet. The job that Gyre is assignment will have her explore a cave system by herself with a radio connection to her handler Em stationed on the surface as her only means of communication. Gyre lied about herself in order to get the job offer so when odd circumstances such as a lack of briefing on the mission until after she starts down the cave system and a lack of contact with other members of the organization pop up she doesn’t raise any concerns in order to avoid her lie being discovered. As Gyre climbs farther down from the surface of the planet these concerns pile up until it becomes clear that the job was far different and more dangerous than she was led to believe and that Em has been lying about herself and her past as much as Gyre has.

The Luminous Dead does a great job describing and escalating the tension of exploring a cave system. For the mission Gyre wears a caving suit that completely encases her body, recycles her oxygen, and has a shunt implanted directly into her stomach for food. After many days of caving this lack of ability to feel herself with her own hands or breath any fresh air extracts quite a mental toll on Gyre. In addition to this what Gyre sees and hears is also played for her by the suit, there are no windows or other openings to the outside. Early on in the mission it is revealed that both of these feeds can be remotely monitored and changed by Em which adds further stress on Grye as she has to decide if what she believes that she is seeing or hearing is real or not. 

I really enjoyed the The Luminous Dead. It did a great job building up the suspense while riding the fine line of keeping the reader unsure of whether something truly supernatural was happening or not. Both Gyre and Em are really well-developed characters with flaws and perspectives that are fully explored. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good suspense story with a sci-fi twist.

Virtual Book Club – ‘Catherine House’ on October 14th

On Wednesday, October 14th, Virtual Book Club will be meeting to discuss Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas. This book club meets virtually every week to discuss a new book. Information about how to join is listed at the end of this blog.

Curious what Catherine House is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years–summers included–completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises a future of sublime power and prestige, and that its graduates can become anything or anyone they desire.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Virtual Book Club
Wed, Oct 14, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/215406549

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (224) 501-3412

Access Code: 215-406-549

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/215406549

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Sometimes a change of scenery is necessary to get your life back on track. Other times, it can end up completely derailing the precious balance that you have. Mary Kubica’s latest book, The Other Mrs., talks about the balance between family and work, new and old.

Sadie and Will Foust have the perfect life. Well, at least they used to. Having started their family in Chicago, they always imagined staying there forever. When Sadie finds out that Will is having an affair and when her older son has issues at school, they decide they need to move. Uprooting their family from Chicago to a tiny island off the coast of Maine, the Foust family is ready to start over.

Having only lived in this small town for a few weeks, Sadie is shocked when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home down the street. Crime doesn’t happen on the island. The murder shocks the small town, but Sadie takes it extra hard. She never imagined the horrors of Chicago would follow them to Maine, but it seems that they did. Sadie is on edge.

Searching for any clues as to what happened to Morgan, Sadie is dismayed to discover that suspicion has been cast onto her family. As the new family in town, Sadie can’t understand why people believe that anyone in her family would have anything to do with Morgan’s death. Wanting to clear her family, Sadie starts digging into what really happened that night. The more she uncovers, the more uncomfortable and uneasy she feels about the truth. If anyone finds out what actually happened, her life would be destroyed. Sadie has to decide what she’s going to do with the information she discovers.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Virtual Book Club – ‘The Institute’ on September 16

Have you joined the Virtual Book Club yet? On Wednesday, September 16th at 2pm, Virtual Book Club will be discussing The Institute by Stephen King. This program meets virtually every week to discuss a book using GoTo Meeting. Information about how to join is listed at the end of this post.

Curious what The Institute is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents, telekinesis and telepathy, who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, like the roach motel, Kalisha says. ‘You check in, but you don’t check out.’ In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don|t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute. As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Virtual Book Club – The Institute by Stephen King
Wed, Sep 16, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/792093261

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (224) 501-3412

Access Code: 792-093-261

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/792093261

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

Did you know that Investigation Discovery has a book club? Working with Random House, the ID Book Club was formed as a way for fans of Investigation Discovery to read more about crime and justice. To see a list of past book club selections, check out their website!

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown was one of the ID Book club’s selections and my introduction to the club. This mystery novel weave together the stories of two very different women. Although they grew up in wildly different circumstances, their life decisions lead back to a handful of similar life-forming moments that they both shared.

All Nina ever hoped for was a decent childhood and to live a life that was different than her mom’s. Nina’s mother is a con artist who hustled throughout Nina’s entire childhood in order to hopefully give her daughter a better life. Moving constantly and trying to make new friends was hard for Nina until Nina and her mom ended up in Lake Tahoe. That year living in Lake Tahoe changed Nina’s life forever, introducing her to her closest friend and first love. That year of tranquility came crashing down around them and ended with Nina and her mom running from the town in a cloud of shame. Nina worked hard and went to college, graduating with a liberal arts degree that she hoped would lead her to a legitimate career. When she gets a call saying that her mom is sick and needs her help, Nina leaves everything behind and rushes home to help her. She ends up putting her life on the line and starts pulling scams with her Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina promised herself she wouldn’t turn into her mom, but what did she expect: she learned from the best and to deny the tricks she grew up learning from her mother doesn’t make sense anymore.

Vanessa is privileged. A young heiress who has had anything and everything in life handed to her, Vanessa wants to leave her mark in the world. She wants to do better than her parents. When her plans don’t turn out quite like she hoped, Vanessa becomes an Instagram influencer. Traveling around the globe, posing for pictures in exotic locations, and being showered in free clothes and products as long as she posts pictures of herself using them has become Vanessa’s life. Being an Instagram influencer quickly overtakes and becomes her entire life. Based on her Instagram, it looks like Vanessa leads a perfect and immensely covetable life. She shouldn’t be wanting for anything. Behind that facade however, Vanessa’s life is full of tragedy. The catalyst proves to be a broken engagement, which sends Vanessa, in desperate search of solitude, to her family’s estate, Stonehaven. This sprawling mansion on Lake Tahoe is full of dark secrets that haunt Vanessa and her family.

Lake Tahoe and Stonehaven sing a siren call to Vanessa and Nina, luring both women back to the site where their lives intertwine even tighter, leading to a twisting confrontation full of revenge, deceit, duplicity, and destruction.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Virtual Book Club – ‘The Cabin at the End of the World’ on August 12th

The Virtual Book Club is meeting next Wednesday, August 12th, at 2pm central to discuss The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay. We are using GoTo Meeting which will allow patrons to video chat with others about the book. Information about how to join is below!

Curious what the book is about? Check out the following description from the publisher.

The Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts adds an inventive twist to the home invasion horror story in a heart-palpitating novel of psychological suspense. Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road. One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.” Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined. The Cabin at the End of the World is a masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay.

This book is also available in the following format:

Virtual Book Club
Wed, Aug 12, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/969823581

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (646) 749-3122

Access Code: 969-823-581

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/969823581