“The companion” Katie Alender

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Random House). To be published August 25, 2020.

The CompanionMargot was the only survivor after her parents and sisters were in a car crash and drowned. Sent to live in an orphanage, she was taken in by a rich family to be a companion for their daughter Agatha. At the estate daily nightmares of her family’s watery death subsided, as Agatha’s mother Laura was very kind. But things began to change when Margot found an old diary of Laura’s younger sister who had died years ago. By the time she began to put two and two together, time was up before she could get to four.

This was very creepy, so make sure not to read it at night or you’ll have the same nightmares as Margot. Alender was very clever as she lured readers along on her sinister plot, making us totally despair for Margot and Agatha. Well-done Ms. Alender. Very well done.

PS – not sure why the cover has a spoon with pins in it. I can think of lots of different types of covers to describe this book, but a spoon with pins would not be one of them.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Thirteens” Kate Alice Marshall

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Viking (Penguin Random House). The secrets of Eden Eld #1. To be published August 18, 2020.

ThirteensAfter a house fire and the disappearance of her mother, Ellie moved in with her aunt and uncle in the little town of Eden Eld. She’s determined to show them that she’s normal, because she and her mom used to see things nobody else saw. She’s not going to tell them about the weird grandfather clock that just appeared outside of her room ticking backwards, and she’s certainly not going to tell them about the big, strange looking bird with a yellow eye that was staring at her while she waited for the bus.

At school Ellie becomes friends with Pip and Otto, who clue her into the fact that they can also see things no one else sees but she has to keep it a secret. It doesn’t take long to realize their names are palindromes, they’re all going to be thirteen years old on Halloween, and they all have the same birthmarks. These strange similarities don’t seem coincidental so, working together, they discover the town is hiding a strange secret. Every 13 years, three thirteen-year-olds disappear. They’re next on the list to disappear without a trace, so will have to pull out all the stops if they plan to make it to their fourteenth birthday.

Those of you who are regulars on my blog know I refuse to read books in a series unless I have all of them in front of me. However, the publisher tricked me. The description sounded really interesting on NetGalley and Goodreads. Neither site had the name of a series listed for the book, so I requested it. When I downloaded it, the very first page said it was part one of a planned series. I was upset I’d been hoodwinked, but gamely set about reading because I had to review it.

I actually enjoyed it, but the cliffhanger ending reminded me that nothing could be tied into a big bow until the series was completed. I don’t even know how many books will BE in the series! I can’t wait to find out what happens next to Ellie, Otto and Pip, and the first book hasn’t even officially come out yet!!

Grrr! However, despite all this angst, I will still recommend it for ages 11-14.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“The nesting” C. J. Cooke

The nestingRated 3 stars *** ARC. ebook. Berkley (Penguin Random House). To be published September 29, 2020.

Lexi had grown up in foster care with a mom who hated her. After a suicide attempt, she lost her job and was dumped by her boyfriend. Helpless and homeless, she spent hours riding commuter rail trains where she overheard a conversation about a nanny job in Norway. Lexi didn’t know anything about being a nanny, but knew she needed this job. She took over the resume and persona of Sophie Hallerton, the commuter who’d been thinking about applying for the job, and sent off her application.

After getting the job Lexi enjoyed her life in Norway with Coco and Gaia, her two young charges. However, Norway had its own secrets. What was the terrifying creature that regularly appeared in the house and grounds? What really happened to Coco and Gaia’s mother? Why did it seem as if the very earth wanted them all gone?

I enjoyed this book, and felt great sympathy for Lexi. HOWEVER I have BIG questions about the ending. For those who are reading my review, if you don’t want to spoil the ending for yourself, please don’t read below the SPOILER ALERT! banner. These questions, and resulting uncertainties, made me drop two stars from my rating.

However, since the storyline is very imaginative, I will recommend it for Adults. I hope the situation I mentioned below gets fixed before the book is published.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

******SPOILER ALERT! ******* SPOILER ALERT! **********SPOILER ALERT! ********

******SPOILER ALERT! ******* SPOILER ALERT! **********SPOILER ALERT! ********

I am VERY confused over how Aurelia died. In Derry’s version she wades into the fjord, submerges and drowns. However this doesn’t jive with what was written earlier in the book because Aurelia imagined herself wading into the fjord with reindeer and then returned home. She didn’t die during that particular visit to the fjord.

In the Prologue Cooke wrote that Aurelia died when she accidentally fell off a cliff while being chased. Did the author forget what she’d written and decide to make up a completely different death for Aurelia? Did she fall off the cliff OR did she drown while having hallucinations with the reindeer? If she drowned with the invisible reindeer then the Prologue needs to be rewritten.

Also, why did Tom decide to let Lexi stay on after her accident? He didn’t feel bad about her attempted suicide when she told him why she’d impersonated Sophie. He could have insisted she return to London after she got out of the hospital. What changed? I hope the author or publisher have answers for me. Thanks.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Eventide” Sarah Goodman

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Tor Teen. To be published October 6, 2020.

EventideIn 1907 seventeen-year-old Verity and her little sister Lilah set out from New York City on an orphan train to find a new home. Verity was bitter because she hadn’t been allowed to care for her sister. She was almost eighteen, and had taken care of her ever since their mother died and their father started to go insane. However, she was still underage, so they had been forced to go to an orphanage when their father was taken to an asylum.

When they arrived in the small town of Wheeling Arkansas Miss Maeve, the local schoolteacher, adopted Lilah. Desperate to stay near her sister Verity allowed herself to be indentured to a couple that needed help on their farm. As she struggled through her chores, the thought of being able to leave forever with Lilah in a few months enabled her to get through the days in this little, superstitious town.

Verity couldn’t understand why everyone was afraid of the woods, and why she’d been warned to stay away from it. When she decided to explore it for herself she couldn’t understand why it suddenly became freezing cold and foggy, nor could she explain the presence of a little girl who disappeared when Verity tried to follow her. As Verity learned more about the people in the small town she began to realize that Lilah was in grave danger. Verity will do anything she can to protect her sister – even if it means giving up everything she once held dear.

I loved this book! It was suspenseful, spooky, thrilling and kept me up turning pages until late at night. I did have some questions about the ending that I would love to ask the author but, because they might reveal spoilers, I can’t ask them on this blog. However, I would love it if Sarah Goodman contacted me on the “down low” so I can unburden myself and get the answers I seek.

Despite my questions I highly recommend “Eventide” for ages 16 and older.

I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


“People of the lake” by N.L. Scorza

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. To be published October 15, 2019. Sky Pony Press.

People of the lakeGrowing up Clara’s twin sister Zoe got her in trouble all the time, but Clara didn’t mind. They shared stories and even had their own secret language but, when they were eight years old, Zoe drowned. It took Clara many years to get over losing her best friend, but she still talked to Zoe all the time in her head. After her parents divorced she lived with her mom but, when her boyfriend moved in, Clara sought refuge for the summer with her father in the tiny town of Redmarch Lake.

From her first day there Clara felt something was very strange about the town and its foreboding lake that seemed to draw her with a malevolent power. Townies didn’t want to talk to her, and looked either afraid or as if they hated her because she was an outsider. She was warned multiple times to stay out of the woods and, when she managed to make a new friend, he was suddenly murdered in the woods.

Soon afterwards she and Hector, another outsider, began to work together to try and figure out the town’s secrets and answer its many unspoken questions. Why was everyone afraid? What were the strange sounds they kept hearing in the woods? Who was leaving her notes in the language she and Zoe made up many years ago? When another boy is murdered, Clara and Hector began to realize the town didn’t want its secrets revealed. Something was coming after them, and it was only a matter of time before it got what it wanted.

This book was SO horribly creepy and exciting. I was on the edge of my seat rapidly reading and turning pages to find out what was going to happen next. My biggest advice to anyone reading this book is to NOT read it at night. If you do then you’ll have to distract yourself with something peppy if you plan to actually sleep after reading it. No one told me that, so I’m off to go watch a pep rally or something…….

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Ghosts of the Shadow Market” by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Kelly Link and Robin Wasserman

Rated 5 stars ***** 2019. Margaret K. McElderry Books. 607 p.

Ghosts of the Shadow MarketSeveral well-known Young Adult authors join with Cassandra Clare to pen 10 stories about Jem, Tessa and other characters from the “Mortal Instruments, “Infernal Devices” and “Dark Artifices” series in Shadow Markets of different locations and time periods.

Unlike “Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy”, “Ghosts of the Shadow Market” doesn’t waste time rehashing characters in each story. By now anyone who’s read the series knows the characters, so constantly describing them in each story is boring and repetitive for those of us who know all about them. Thank you for not taking more than a quick sentence or two to tell us about them in each story.

The stories take place between 1899 (when Matthew Fairchild was parabatai with James Herondale and Jem was still Brother Zacahriah) and 2013 (when Jem and Tessa are married and expecting their first child.) This time period is also when “Queen of Air and Darkness” ended, leading readers into what will definitely be a new series with Jace Herondale’s Thule double preparing to wreck disaster on the characters we’ve grown to know and love.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.






“The Shadowhunter’s codex” Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis

Rated 1 star * 2013. Margaret K. Elderry Books. N.Y. 274 p.

The Shadowhunter's CodexWhat a waste of $24.99 + tax! I should’ve gone with my first instinct, and borrowed it from the Public Library instead of spending money on it. Don’t waste your money!

The book is divided into sections (complete with illustrations) to teach new Shadowhunters information about demons, the Law, how Shadowhunters were created, weapons, Marks, etc. Scattered in the margins of these various sections of information are comments by Clary, Jace and Simon that are supposed to be pithy or humorous but are just thrown in to awaken the reader who has just nodded off from all the boring “information.”

It took all my willpower to finish the book. It was as dry and dusty as reading a Dictionary from A to Z. Don’t waste money, or your time. If you are a big Shadowhunter fan, as I am, then borrow it from the library and make sure to have a big – no make that GIANT – cup of coffee by your side. You’re going to need it to stay awake.

Though I didn’t like it, I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you want to read it or not.


“Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy” Cassandra Clare

Rated 3 stars *** 2015. Margaret K. Elderry Books. N.Y. 655 p.

TalesFromTheShadowhunterAcademyThis book should be read right after “City of heavenly fire,” as references of things to come, and things that already happened, are widely hinted at in the book. Too bad I read it years (and many Cassandra Clare books) too late.

“City of heavenly fire” ends with Magnus offering to restore part of Simon’s memories, which had been given freely in exchange for Magnus’ life. Now, in “Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy,” Simon’s story continues in the decrepit Academy where he’s learning to become a Shadowhunter while desperately trying to remember everything he’s forgotten. His relationship with Isabelle is part of those lost memories, and he keeps pushing her away believing she only wants to be with him because of who he was, not who he now is.

Each story told in “Tales” puts a little bit more of a chink into the holes of stories left untold, or hinted at, in past books. The story of Robert Lightwood and his former parabatai Michael, which was hinted at when Alec revealed his true self to his father, as well as how Magnus and Alec got baby Max is another example that will cause readers to get that “aha!” moment as they realize they read a little about it in a different Cassandra Clare book.

What I didn’t like in “Tales” was the constant explanations, as if all the stories weren’t linked. Why do we have to endure explanations of characters and events in each story when we already know them? For example, Simon and George, his roommate, are introduced early, so it makes sense that by the fourth story we would know their relationship. Is it necessary to explain who they are, or who anyone in the Academy is, as if we hadn’t just finished reading about them in earlier stories? These types of “explanations” continue throughout each story, making them feel disjointed instead of seamless.

However, true diehard Shadowhunter fans will still want to read “Tales.” It’s for these 14 and older readers that I recommend it.



“Queen of air and darkness” Cassandra Clare

Rated 4 stars **** 2018. The dark artifices, Book #3. Margaret K. Elderry Books. N.Y. 880 p.

Queen of air and darknessWhen last we saw her Annabel Blackthorn had killed Julian’s little sister Livvy, as well as the Inquisitor, and was whisked away to the Unseelie Court by the King. Drawing on the Shadowhunter’s fear of faeries, and these untimely deaths, Zara Deaborn and her newly elected Inquisitor father have taken over the Clave with little resistance. Laws to register Downworlders have been passed, with more ways to separate Downworlders and Shadowhunters planned.

Ty refuses to believe Livvy is gone and is determined to raise her from the dead. Kit, drawn strongly to him, agrees to help. Meanwhile, afraid of the Parabatai curse, Julian asked Malcolm to take away his feelings – believing this would keep him away from Emma. His inability to react to her, or to anything else, leaves her in despair.

Determined to rid himself of Julian and Emma, the Inquisitor sends them on an illegal mission to Faerie to find the Black Volume, where he intends to have them killed. Meanwhile Cristina finds herself in love with both Kieran as well as Mark, while the two of them realize they also love her.

With the Clave in total disarray, warlocks rapidly sickening from a mysterious illness, and the Unseelie Court playing a large role in the Dearborns’ plans, our favorite Shadowhunters will have their work cut out for them to restore things back to normalcy.

Recommended for ages 14 and older, despite the multiple sex scenes, and constant addition of new characters and new “happenings.”



This 880-page tome that, by the way is WAY too full of sex scenes, should have been enough to end the suspense over the Shadowhunter world of the Dark Artifices, and should have tied everything into a relatively nice knot of happiness. But, alas, Cassandra left enough loose ends dangling so there will be ANOTHER series featuring characters such as Kit, Ash and the newly arrived Jace Herondale #2.

Sometimes, because there are just too many books to read in endless series, I just want to quit the Shadowhunter world cold turkey like I did after watching 3 yrs. of a long running television soap opera that never seemed to end. Unfortunately, or fortunately for her, Clare has a way of drawing in readers to make us want no, NEED, to find out what happens to our beloved friends.

Will Kit have to return to Faerie? Will Ash meet Dru? Will Jace #2 get his hands on Clary? Will Clary marry the real Jace? Stay tuned to whatever will be the next title in the new Shadowhunter series about them. Remember, you heard it here first!

“Lord of shadows” Cassandra Clare

Rated 5 stars ***** 2017. The dark artifices, Book #2. Margaret K. McElderry Books. 699 p.

Lord of ShadowsWhen last we saw the warlock Malcolm Fade, he’d been planning revenge on Shadowhunters for killing his girlfriend, Annabel Blackthorn. Though Emma killed him, his evil magic lives on…

A contingent of Centurions (highly trained Shadowhunters) arrives at the Los Angeles Institute to search for Malcolm’s body and the Black Volume of evil magic. Power hungry Zara Dearborn leads the group. She is determined to punish and oust Downworlders, and has gained a large following of Shadowhunters who feel as if they must maintain strict rules on all Downworlders.

Meanwhile Mark, Julian, Cristina and Emma break Clave Law to rescue Kieran from the Unseelie King as he’s about to be executed. Hotly pursued by his army they are given refuge in the Seelie Queen’s kingdom. There she reveals to Julian that she knows how to break his parabatai bond. All she wants in return is the Black Volume, also being sought by the Unseelie King.

His relationship with Emma is at stake, so Julian joins the long list of those wanting to get their hands on the Black Volume. Unfortunately the decisions he makes to gain it costs him more than he’d ever expected.

With every cliffhanger chapter I found myself on the edge of my seat, eagerly reading to find out what happens to Emma and the Blackthorns. I think I even found myself sliding over to Team Mark instead of Team Julian, as more of Mark’s character traits was revealed. There are lots of loose ends that need tying, so I can’t wait to dive into book 3  “Queen of air and darkness.”

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.