‘The Dead Girls Club’ by Damien Angelica Walters/A Review

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters
Genre: Thriller
Length: 282 pages
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Acquired through NetGalley
Release Date: December 10, 2019

Synopsis:
Red Lady, Red Lady, show us your face…

In 1991, Heather Cole and her friends were members of the Dead Girls Club. Obsessed with the macabre, the girls exchanged stories about serial killers and imaginary monsters, like the Red Lady, the spirit of a vengeful witch killed centuries before. Heather knew the stories were just that, until her best friend Becca began insisting the Red Lady was real–and she could prove it.

That belief got Becca killed.

It’s been nearly thirty years, but Heather has never told anyone what really happened that night–that Becca was right and the Red Lady was real. She’s done her best to put that fateful summer, Becca, and the Red Lady, behind her. Until a familiar necklace arrives in the mail, a necklace Heather hasn’t seen since the night Becca died.

The night Heather killed her.

Now, someone else knows what she did…and they’re determined to make Heather pay.

My Thoughts:
*I received The Dead Girls Club through NetGalley, in exchange of an honest review*

From the start of reading The Dead Girls Club, you could see that Heather Cole is a woman living with the huge burden of guilt from the past. As the story progresses, Heather’s guilt causes her to spiral into delirium, each mysterious ‘gift’ further impacting her situation.

The Dead Girls Club tells the story in a dual timeline, featuring the relationship of Heather Cole and Rebecca (Becca) Thomas: the first timeline featuring Heather in the present time, and the second highlighting Heather and Becca’s relationship when they were 12 years old. Along with two other girls, they share tales about serial killers and other dangerous stories. After some time, Becca begins sharing a tale about the Red Lady, taking the group along a path that forever effects their relationship.

One thing that The Dead Girls Club does wonderfully is feature the complex dynamic of female relationships. Women navigate the complicated process of gaining (and maintaining) trust in each other from a very young age, and this is featured prominently throughout the novel. With the loss of Becca, Heather’s desire to maintain close friendships are thrown in a loop. The realization that someone may be aware of Heather’s past pushes her into deep distrust with everyone around her.

The Dead Girls Club definitely kept me on edge, and reading both aspects of Heather’s life left me with a uneasy feeling as to what might happen next. I really enjoyed reading this story of loss and mystery in the name of friendship.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Anticipated Reads for 2020

As 2020 is rapidly approaching, there are some really great books that I just can’t wait to get my hands on!

Here’s a list of some books that I can’t wait to read during 2020:

Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith
Release Date: Jan. 28

I recently received the eARC of Don’t Read the Comments through NetGalley, and I’m so excited! This story centers around two teens who turn to the gaming world to escape their ‘real life’ dilemmas, yet they soon face harassment from the same online community they trust.

Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto
Release Date: Feb. 11

Heart of Flames is the sequel to Crown of Feathers, and I can’t wait to dive in! I have Crown of Feathers, and I really need to read it before the second book comes out!

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
Release Date: March 3

We Ride Upon Sticks tells the story of a women’s hockey team with magic on their side! This novel is also set in the 80s. I’m ready for the nostalgia!

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan
Release Date: April 7

I’m so looking forward to picking up Ruthless Gods! NetGalley provided me with an eARC recently, and it left me stunned! I can’t wait to purchase a final copy of the book when April rolls around!

Lobizona by Romina Garber
Release Date: May 5

Lobizona is a urban fantasy tale that also tackles the real life headline of family separation. I’m so prepared for the ride!

The Mall by Megan McCafferty
Release Date: June 9

The Mall is set in the early 90s, following the life of a recent high school grad working a summer job, planning her future in college with the man of her dreams. This immediately brings me back to my mall life in the early-mid 90s in New Jersey (where this novel is also set)!

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal
Release Date: July 7

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this book coming out! I absolutely adored We Hunt the Flame, and I know that Faizal’s follow-up will be just as stunning!

More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood
Release Date: August 4

I love a contemporary romance with diverse characters! This story involves finding love and acceptance in the face of familial expectations. I’m definitely intrigued!

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi
Release Date: September 22

The Silvered Serpents is another of my ‘can’t wait releases’ of 2020! I very much enjoyed the eARC of The Silvered Serpents (thank you NetGalley!), and the end of the story definitely left me wanting more! You should definitely run out and buy this book when it comes out during the Fall!

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab (Cover not yet revealed)
Release Date: October 6

The moment I heard about the plot (a woman who sells her soul to the devil, yet he curses her to be forgotten by everyone she meets), I immediately wanted this in my hands!

**Note: I couldn’t find releases during November and December, so here are two more books–also coming out in 2020–that I can’t wait to read**

Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab
Release Date: September 1

Bridge of Souls is the third book in the Cassidy Blake series (a young girl who has the ability to cross over the ‘Veil’ in order to speak to the dead).

A Crown So Cursed by L.L. McKinney
Release Date: September 22

A Crown So Cursed is Book 3 in the Nightmare-Verse series. I can’t wait to learn what happens next in Wonderland!

That’s all of the stories for now! I’m sure that even more tales will emerge as 2020 unfolds!

Goodreads Monday: December 30

I’m taking part in Goodreads Monday. This was started by Lauren’s Page Turners, in which you choose a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it.

This week’s post:

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

Synopsis:

Russia, July 17, 1918: Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia, where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.

Germany, February 17, 1920: A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water or even acknowledge her rescuers, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious young woman claims to be the Russian grand duchess.

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre at Ekaterinburg, old enemies and new threats are awakened. The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling saga is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.

Why I Want to Read It:
I’m a huge fan of Historical Fiction, and was always intrigued by the story of Anastasia Romanov. When I first became aware of Ariel Lawhon’s book, I placed it on my list to read in the near future. Hopefully I can make time to read it in 2020!

Sunday Sentence: December 29

I’m participating in David Abrams’s ‘Sunday Sentence‘ project, sharing the best sentence I’ve read during the past week, ‘out of context and without commentary’.

“Negative stereotypes of Chinese women have impacted my life, the life of my mother, my sisters, and my friends. They fuel violence and abuse against women like me”.

Source: ‘Romance Writers Stand Behind Author Courtney Milan in Light of RWA Ruling’ by Princess Weekes

My Disappointing Reads of 2019

These are the books I read during 2019, but wasn’t too crazy about. They are as follows:

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Out of all the books in the Grisha trilogy, this is the book that I liked the least. It consisted of lots of talking about Alina gathering the Second Army, but very little action!

Minion by L.A. Banks
This book is the first in the Vampire Huntress series. While I was so excited in reading about a powerful female huntress, it follows the prescribed ‘setting up the plotline for the rest of the series’ layout that many First Books in a series contain.

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
This story carries lots of nostalgia for those loving the Scooby Gang, but I personally couldn’t get myself to enjoy it. I think it was the blending of humor and horror elements throughout the story that was difficult for me to love.

Kingdom Soul (Book 2) by Brittni Chenelle
I read Book 1 of the Kingdom Cold series, and it was quite entertaining. However, Book 2 left me wanting a little more than characters figuring out their feelings for one another. I’m hopeful that Book 3 will provide that!

Those were my disappointing reads! I’ll share my anticipated releases in my next post.

Books I Read (and Loved) in 2019

2019 has been quite a memorable year for me, and I regained my love of reading! While my reading passion has always been here with me, a shift in my life have kickstarted my strong love of reading.

I gave a Goodreads goals of 30 books to read this year, and I ended up reading 44 books (yay!). During this time, I read many memorable stories. Here is a list of books I enjoyed reading the most in 2019!

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
This was a great story that shares the quest of Annaleigh, as she seeks to unravel the mystery of her sisters’ deaths. This had a great blend of romance and horror, and was a fairy tale retelling!

The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi
The Oyster Thief is a touching story with mermaids as the focal point. Coralline seeks to find a cure for her brother’s illness after a crippling oil spill. Along her journey she encounters Izar, who harbors a dangerous secret. This story delves deep into the urgency of environmental protection.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I absolutely adored Daisy Jones & The Six! I read this story through Audible, and I felt like I was listening to a classic rock documentary! It had a healthy balance of tension and camaraderie that usually accompanies the story of a band’s rise and fall.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Girls of Paper and Fire covered the issue of young women seeking freedom among the bonds of servitude. There is a battle towards the end of the story that features these women as such powerful figures!

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
Lisa See writes such powerful Historical Fiction, and The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane continues this streak. This story is set in the Yunnan mountains, following the strength of a mother and daughter’s bond among the constraints of tradition and distance.

Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab
Tunnel of Bones is the sequel to the Cassidy Blake series, in which the daughter of ‘celebrity’ paranormal investigators possesses the ability to speak to the dead. I’ve read City of Ghosts as well, and I can truly say that the sequel is stronger than the first!

A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney
A Dream So Dark is the sequel to A Blade So Black, an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ retelling set in Atlanta. It was so difficult to choose which story I enjoyed better, but A Dream So Dark carries so much emotional power. Chapter 7 will bring you to tears!

Crier’s War by Nina Varela
I loved the layered storylines of Crier’s War! The timeline at the beginning of the book set the foundation of a book strewn with the thoughts between two women (one human, one automa), as they seek to understand a war far more complicated than they thought.

The Moments Between by Natalie Banks
The Moments Between is Natalie Banks’s fourth novel. I received this book as part of Natalie Banks’ launch team, and I loved it. This was a tale steeped in romantic suspense, following the story of Claire DuPont solving the mystery of her husband’s reappearance, while fighting to prevent his death.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

I can’t even begin to explain how enjoyable this book is! A fantasy book with strong female characters in a Middle Eastern-inspired universe. We Hunt the Flame is truly a gift! Although the release date for its sequel We Free the Stars was pushed back, I eagerly anticipate its arrival!

I can’t wait to discover more stories to love in 2020!

‘A Wedding in December’ by Sarah Morgan

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan
Length: 384 pages
Acquired through NetGalley
Publisher: Harlequin (HQN) Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 31, 2019

Synopsis:
In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding. First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret of their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.
Rosie’s older sister, Katie, is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself! If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…
Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiancé but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived—how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget!

My Thoughts:
**I received A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan through NetGalley, in exchange of an honest review**

A Wedding in December is a fun holiday story that captures the essence of togetherness in the midst of chaos. All of the characters have an innate sense of wanting to do the right thing, while harboring a close secret of their own. Even Rosie, the woman the White family are all gathered to celebrate, has second doubts about her impending nuptials (after a very brief courtship)!

I found the book to be delightful, as it highlights the fact that family can stay united, no matter what complications can get thrown their way. Despite challenges, true love and devotion exists among family and loved ones. The holidays can bring about lots of stress, but within all the layers of tension lies the deep meaning of togetherness.

If you’re into stories that feature family bonds with a touch of tension, then this is the book for you. A Wedding in December is a holiday story you definitely want to read, even after the holidays are over!

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Blogmas Day 25: Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas! Today marks the joyous occasion of Jesus’s arrival. Many people gather to worship the birth of Jesus through song and prayer.

Christmas Day also brings family and loved ones together as they share gifts, laughter, and precious memories. However you spend this day, I hope it’s an exciting day for all!

Blogmas Day 24: Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas Eve usually brings a flurry of activity! Many families do preparations for their evening meals, while others frantically complete last-minute shopping for loved ones.

Andy’s family takes part in celebrating a traditional meal that occurs every Christmas Eve. It’s wonderful to participate in the meal, and also have a nice visit from my sister-in-law’s cat Bebe! Here she is with Andy!

What traditions do you take part in during Christmas Eve, if any? Let me know in the comments!

Blogmas Day 23: Cape May Fun

Andy and I enjoyed a lovely trip to Cape May this past Saturday! Cape May is so festive during this time of year. We ventured down Congress Hall and checked out the enormous tree! We also headed down to Cape May Brewing Company and relaxed with some drinks. I made sure to bring my Christmas/Winter themed Snoopys!

Here are some snapshots of our trip. I’ll post more photos soon!