Review: Hell Bent (Alex Stern #2) by Leigh Bardugo

When this book came out, it promoted me to go back and read Ninth House so I could be ready to read this one. I had this whole drama around why I didn’t read Ninth House until now and you can read all about it in my review of Ninth House here. Bottom line, I suspected that I wouldn’t be able to read this latest Leigh Bardugo book before reading the first book in the series and that is absolutely correct. Do not read this book without first reading Ninth House. This book is basically an extension of the first book and it will leave readers disorientated within this book if you read it out of order.

I burned through Ninth House and was eager to start this one immediately following since Ninth House ended on such a cliff hanger. So I cleared my reading schedule and hunkered in with this book, while I didn’t read it as fast as I anticipated, I still read it fairly quickly and found a lot of the things that I loved about Ninth House, still held true in this book. This book also ended on a cliff hanger and I hope we get the next Alex Stern’s book soon! It sounds like this book series is going to be a trilogy but I really hope it’s more than that. I think there is a rich world to mine here and I would be sad if it ended after only three books when there is so much more to unpack and learn about.

If you are thinking about diving into this world of strange dark academia but aren’t sure yet—-I would say go for it. While I had some issues with Alex as a main character in the first book, overall the rich world and strong storytelling made up for the fact that Alex was at times an unlikeable character—while at other times you could cheer for her. Bardugo is an incredibly talented writer so in that you can’t go wrong. I would recommend Ninth House and then immediately follow up with this latest novel to get the full experience!

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Review: Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

When this book came out, I jumped at it! I have read the Grisha books, specifically the Shadow and Bone trilogy, and while I didn’t love every book, I remember feeling like they had a lot of imagination with ambitious characters and for a YA series, there was a lot to enjoy. But I never really read anything else from Leigh Bardugo after that trilogy. But naturally her books are quite popular and can be found on many shelves around the blog-o-sphere.

When I saw this one was coming out, I wasn’t exactly ready to buy it or even put it on my TBR—-until I started seeing all these posts and reviews about how good it was—-THEN I was jumping to get my hands on it. I even got an autographed copy that’s how excited I was for this one. Then it came and I read the opening prologue and decided it wasn’t for ‘right now’. Keep in mind it came out Oct 2019, so it SHOULD have been a ‘right now’ book for me based on the creepy content, but I had finished reading some other heavy horror books at the time and I just wasn’t up for it. So I put it on my bookshelf. Then COVID hit and I just wanted to read something happy. So there it sat for the next few years.

Until, Hell Bent was released a few weeks ago. I had a renewed interest in The Ninth House, since I ordered Hell Bent. I had no idea this was even meant to be a series, but evidently it is. And it’s an adult series, not YA—though the characters are more ‘new adult’ it’s definitely not YA, it’s geared toward the older reader. So I decided it was time to dust off my copy of The Ninth House and read it so I could read Hell Bent!

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Review: How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

When I first started reviewing books, I really shied away from the horror genre. I always thought to horror as ‘slicer dicer’ or ‘zombie’ books and it just wasn’t my thing. But I quickly came to discover that the horror genre has really grown in popularity and variety over the years and I have branded out into more and more horror as time has gone one. I especially love ghost stories so naturally the title of this book grabbed my interest. Plus I have read Grady Hendrix in the past and know that his books always seem to stick a good balance between horror and something for the more mainstream readers who maybe want to try something in the horror genre.

The horror genre isn’t for everyone. It’s truly a niche genre and either it’s your thing or it isn’t. For me, I acquired a love for the horror genre though with that said, I don’t love all the traditional horror authors. For example, I have tried to love Stephen King, but I simply do not. I personally prefer my horror novels to have some cross over in other sub genres—for example, Simone St James is a favorite of mine. She writes paranormal horror but also factors in things like a murder mystery.

I am always on the lookout for horror authors who make the genre more accessible for new readers or fans. For me Stephen King is just not my thing and his books are often lengthy and daunting. His books were my only exposure to the horror genre for a long time and I honestly never wanted to read horror books because I feared they were all like that. But after finding some other horror authors that blended other genres really made me love the genre as a whole. That’s why I was so excited for this book!

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Special Feature: Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak

I am always a sucker for books about haunted houses. When I see things like ‘The Haunting of Hill House meets The Perfect Nanny’ then naturally you have my interest! When I read the email caption as this one came across my desk all I could think of in my mind was “ok I’m listening!” I was immediately interested in this book and was eager to read it. But my review calendar always fills up quick so I opted to do a feature instead but as I was working on the feature, it was clear this book was going to work it’s way up my TBR list.

The premise of this story really calls to me, not just as a mom but as a fan of classic horror. I hate slicer dicer horror but bring me all the haunted houses, ghost stories and classic horror! As a mom, I love that one of the main characters, Teddy, is a five year old boy (same age as my boy!). It makes the creep factor feel so so real for me and it gives me something to connect with. Basically what I am saying is this book is calling my name!

If you love classic horror stories you need to get this one on your radar. Judging from the summery it sounds like there might be a little bit of a romantic element to the story too which I personally enjoy in books regardless of genre so I am really excited to have this one on my TBR list for the fall. This is a mystery book with some clear supernatural vibes so if you love books like that then you won’t want to miss this one but even if horror or paranormal isn’t your think, it sounds like there is a mystery too so I wouldn’t write this one off if horror isn’t for you, it sounds like there is a lot more going on than meets the eye!

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Review: The Hacienda by Isabel Canas

THIS BOOK! This book was at the top of my TBR list for months. The second I read the description, I KNEW this book would be right up my alley! It’s been described as a cross between Rebecca and Mexican Gothic, both of which I loved for different reasons and I think this is absolutely an accurate description of the story. I would also recommend it to anyone who loves Simone St James—-if you love her ghost stories, you will love this book!

I wanted to bust into this book the second it came in the mail, but I held off until it was a little closer to the release day. And let me just tell you that was so hard! I loved the book so much, that I also downloaded the Audible version so I could compare how reading the story was different from listening to it. Personally I liked the Audible version better but reading it was just as exciting.

This book has been on many many top recommended lists and also was featured on Book of the Month. I can say with absolute conviction that this book was absolutely worth all the hype. I loved how rich it was with folklore, religion, and socioeconomics of the time period. This is much more than just a ghost story or a horror story—it had a lot of topics that I think would also work for book clubs. This is the rare book that really works for a lot of people even if you are not a fan of horror or ghost stories.

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