Audiobook Review: Dead End Drive

Hello, fellow readers! Today I’m bringing you a new audiobook review! If you like your horror with a bit of humor, Dead End Drive may be for you!

TW: Death, Body Horror, Graphic Description of Murder, Homophobia, Mild Sexual Content

Dead End Drive begins with the death of Agatha Benedict, Lady of the Benedict Estate in Louisiana. Her adopted son, Kelly, is set to inherit everything, but nobody told him how things really work at the Benedict Estate. The ‘Will reading’ is the beginning of a free-for-all murder party, with the estate going to the survivor.

I enjoyed the plot and learning how many of the characters ended up at Benedict Estate. Agatha Benedict seemed to have a menagerie of broken individuals. Those who end up at Benedict Estate have not thrived in the world.

Trying to figure out who was actually in on the game and who could be trusted was difficult. Alliances could easily be broken. I found myself wondering how many times a “will reading” had taken place. How many bodies are hidden on the property? And what does it cost to clean-up after a “will reading?” I would love a history of the Benedict Estate!

My least favorite part of the book had to be the continuous descriptions of a body burning. As soon as I would be able to forget, it would come up again. It felt unnecessary – and gross.

Kieran Regan did a good job of bringing the story to life. Each character had a different voice and it was easy to distinguish one from the other. Alex’s voice was very grating, but also my favorite.

Part And Then There Were None and part Clue, Dead End Drive is a thrilling read.

I received a copy of this audiobook for free via NetGalley and am leaving this review voluntarily.

Bookish Confessions: Cozy Mystery Irks

I love a cozy mystery. They’re quick reads, the characters are quirky, and there’s normally a laugh or two along the way.

But there are a few tropes in the cozy mystery genre that really drive me crazy. Here’s a list of my worst cozy mystery irks:

1. The Love Triangle

Everything is going good in the MC’s life. Her small, family-owned business is doing well, she has a quirky and supportive friend, and she’s found the man of her dreams. And then, she meets the other man of her dreams and spends a book or two debating who she finds dreamier. Make a choice, MC!

2. Stomping All Over Crime Scenes

You would think that cozy mystery characters have never heard of forensics. Or police investigations. Or fingerprints. Oh no, there’s a body on the floor! Make sure and touch everything, MC! Destroy that evidence!

3. Does any cozy mystery MC start out happily married/in a relationship and stay that way?

There are far too many single white female MCs in the cozy genre. I honestly can’t think of a series (except when the MC is a ghost) where the MC is in the same relationship the entire series. If you know of one, let me know!

Those are a few of my cozy mystery pet peeves. Do you have anything that irks you about cozies?

ARC Review: Lifetime Passes

TW: Death, Serious Injury

I love a unique graphic novel concept, and that’s exactly what Terry Blas and Claudia Aguirre have created. Lifetime Passes is about a group of friends who spend their summers at a local amusement park. But Jackie, a DACA kid being raised by her aunt, is devastated to learn that her aunt can’t afford the season pass this year. Desperate to spend the summer at the park with her friends, Jackie hatches a plot to earn a lifetime pass. If someone in a park-goer’s party dies whilst in the park, the entire party may be given lifetime passes for their silence. Jackie uses her aunt’s position at the Valley Care Living facility to take some of the residents on field trips to the park, hoping that one will die during the visit and earn the group passes.

The most compelling part of the story to me was the connections that Jackie makes with some of the characters. She really learns a lot about herself and life by talking with others and learning about their struggles. It doesn’t take long for her to understand how selfish and shallow her plot to get lifetime passes is.

The graphics in Lifetime Passes are very good – I can’t wait to see them in full-color.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel. Though the basic plot was dark, there was also hope, growth, and love. I look forward to reading more from Blas and Aguirre.

Lifetime Passes will be released October 5th, 2021.

I received an advanced review copy of this book for free via NetGalley, and am leaving this review voluntarily.

Book Review: A Talent to Deceive

TW: kidnapping, death of child

I vaguely recalled the details of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping before reading A Talent to Deceive, but there’s so much more to the case than I realized.

A Talent to Deceive is a good piece of investigative journalism. William Norris does a great job of telling the story of the Lindbergh baby and subsequent trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann. Norris shows the clear imbalance of power between one of the time’s most lauded citizens and a German immigrant with few friends.

Norris offers a new potential suspect in the murder of the Lindbergh baby, and provides compelling evidence to back up his theory. If the authorities had not been hindered in their investigation by Lindbergh and others, would an innocent man have been spared?

Tom Beyer provides a great performance in the audio recording. His accents are well-done and do not distract from the reading. I would listen to more audiobooks narrated by Tom Beyer.
Overall, I was pleased with this investigative work.

I received a copy of this audiobook for free via NetGalley, and am leaving this review voluntarily.

Non-Fiction ARC Review: Queer Icons and their Cats

Photography books have never really been my thing. I think photography is a beautiful art form, but owning books of it never appealed to me. But when I saw Queer Icons and their Cats, I had to check it out!

This collection of photographs is very cool. I loved seeing photos of these queer icons and their beloved felines. If ever I own coffee table books – and a coffee table on which to display them – this will be one of them.

The blurbs about each person were relatively short, but informative. They offered just enough information to be intriguing- I found myself wanting to read more about several of the individuals included.

If you are interested in LGBTQIA issues, learning more about some pretty awesome people, or you just want to see some adorable pictures of people with cats, check out Queer Icons and their Cats.

Queer Icons and their Cats will be released May 4, 2021.

I received an advanced review copy for free via NetGalley and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Thriller Book Review: Five Total Strangers

TW: Violence, Stalking, Death

I really like thrillers and mysteries. I do spend a lot of my time screaming internally (and occasionally out loud) about the horrible decisions that the characters make, though. And the characters in Natalie D. Richards’ Five Total Strangers make a lot of horrible decisions!

Mira, a high school senior, is desperate to get home for Christmas. Her aunt died a year earlier and she is very worried about her mom’s mental state.But when her plane lands, she finds that all flights out have been cancelled due to an impending winter storm. Her chatty seat-mate Harper manages to rent a car and invites Mira to join her and her “friends”, Josh, Kayla, and Brecken on a drive home.

Even though the roads aren’t bad when the group starts out, conditions quickly worsen, and they have to take dangerous alternative routes to get around major accidents. And it’s not just the road conditions that have Mira feeling unsafe – she can’t help but feel that one of her fellow travelers is watching her. Is one of her car-mates lying about who they are?

The suspense was great in this book! There were little hints dropped throughout that made it hard to trust anyone. Then there are the letters to Mira – they are so creepy! Richards was very good at building the suspense, but not giving too much away.

But the horrible decisions that these characters make drove me crazy! From the moment Mira accepted the ride, things continued to spiral out of control. I’m not even a mother, but I can tell you that no mother would rather their child put themself in harm’s way than miss a holiday or event. Mira is completely misguided in her logic, and she should have realized this was a bad idea when her friend was taken aback by her choice.

I look forward to reading more from Natalie D. Richards. If you enjoy insulting characters’ awful decisions, this is the book for you!

ARC Review: Pantomime

A graphic novel with disability and LGBTQA+ representation? Yes please!!

In Pantomime, Max and Haley are all each other has after the death of their mother. They are sent off to Wayfair Academy, a school for children with special needs. Haley is deaf and Max is mute. They find their own little family at the academy, and decide to break into a campus building to retrieve some confiscated items. When their petty crime goes off without a hitch, they decide they want more.

This is such a cool graphic novel. I enjoyed the ASL throughout the book. Also, the graphics were very good! I also enjoyed having an unreliable narrator – it’s always fun when you’re not sure who you can trust!

Pantomime will be released July 20, 2021.

I received an advanced review copy of this book via NetGalley and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: She Kills Me

TW: This collection of true crime stories contains many trigger warnings including death, murder, violence, torture, and rape. I’m assuming if you are sensitive to death and murder, you don’t frequent the true crime section of your local bookstore.

Jennifer Wright has somehow managed to turn a collection of true crime stories into a book on female empowerment and I love every second of it!

Ok, so saying that this book is about female empowerment is a bit of an overreach, but Wright does dispel the myth that women are not killers. Many of the male victims in these stories learned that women are just as capable of committing atrocities.

Wright breaks the stories down into 9 sections, including poisoners and scorned women. The chapter on each deadly woman is a few pages long, but Wright cites her source material at the end of each if you’re interested in further reading. I also love the illustrations by Eva Bee that adorn each story – they’re so pretty!

Also helpful is that Wright provides content warnings for each chapter. For example, the entry for Elizabeth Báthory notes that it contains “torture, enslavement, juvenile death, and cannibalism”. These were really handy – I liked knowing what content to look out for and knowing I could skip a section if I found anything triggering.

I really loved this book! It felt like sitting down with one of my favorite true crime podcasts! If you can’t get enough true crime in your life, I highly recommend this!

She Kills Me is set to be released September 14th, 2021.

I received an Advanced Readers Copy via NetGalley and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Book Review: The Root Witch

Urban legends are so creepy and yet so cool. In Debra Castaneda’s The Root Witch, TV producer Sandra Molina knows that the Trembling Giant aspen forest is spooky to say the least, but when a story presents itself just in time for Halloween, she sends out a crew to investigate reports of shadows. Her crew goes missing, and she’s afraid that the Root Witch legends are all too real.

I really enjoyed the format of the story – it was told through faxes, diary entries, and academic journal excerpts. It really lent to a fascinating telling of the story, but also provided for a bit of an unreliable narrator.

If you enjoy urban legends or The Blair Witch Project, I think you’ll enjoy The Root Witch.

I received a copy of this book for free and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Book Review: A Touch of Death

TW: Death, Torture

Dystopian books are always interesting to me. I love to see what spin an author puts on their image of the future. I haven’t been reading much dystopian fiction over the last year given that 2020 could have thrown us anything, but I’m happy to be getting back into the genre.

In the first book of Rebecca Crunden’s Outlands Pentalogy: A Touch of Death, the planet has been through a terrible battle between the humans and the mutants. The remaining humans are under the rule of one monarch in the Kingdom of Cutta. There is one religion and one language. Freedom and history are outlawed. The most important aspects of society are conformity, control, and continuation.The King requires that his subjects reproduce, and complemented pairs that produce 3 or more children are given grants.

But not everything is sunny in the Kingdom of Cutta. Famine and poverty are rampant outside the prosperous capital. Diseases such as the Plague and the Bite still ravage the population. Dissenters are imprisoned and often executed if their families are not of enough influence to prevent it.

And though the king took great strides to cover up the atrocities of the war, vile things still linger in the mountains. Catherine “Kitty” Taenia and Nate Anteros stumble upon an experimental serum while camping out in an abandoned building in the Nitoib Mountain Range, and find themselves inflicted with a strange infection. Nate is rapidly deteriorating, and they must race to find answers in a kingdom that likes to bury its mistakes.

I loved this book. I loved the search for answers and the bond that Kitty formed with Nate as the story moved forward. It was clear that she had “bought-in” at a very early age, but after seeing things for herself and losing ones she loved, her mind changes about Cutta and even her own family. She has become a stronger, more resilient person.

I plan to read on in this series – I need to know how Kitty moves forward. I am so glad I got the opportunity to review this book! Thank you to Rebecca Crunden for providing me a copy for review!

I received a free copy of this book and am leaving this review voluntarily.