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Lil Red’s Book Club: Fire-Starter By Stephen King Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Fire-Starter By Stephen King Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! I have been visiting my own personal library and after rereading Stephen King’s Carrie for the first time since freshman year of high school, I thought that I would give Fire-Starter a try. I have never read it before and it was AMAZING and such a fun reminder of King’s greatness. From start to finish, I was hooked and I can’t wait to watch the movie of it soon. Before we begin our discussion, I will be placing a trigger warning on Fire-Starter for gruesome violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it – without giving any spoilers away, of course!

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Young Andy McGee is strapped for cash in college and decides to take part in an experiment for a quick two hundred bucks. In this experiment, some students would be injected with a hallucinogenic drug and others would get a placebo. It sounded easy enough and eleven other students thought so too, including Vicky, whom Andy would eventually marry and have a little girl with.

During the experiment, strange and violent things happened but the facilitators claimed that it was just the effects of the drugs causing these visions. Still, Andy can remember vividly when a drugged student clawed his own eyes out and others were being encouraged to move items with their minds. Apparently, this drug was thought to awaken certain mental abilities like telekinesis, levitation, pyrokinesis, and mental domination.

Because of the deaths of two students during the experiment, it was immediately shut down and covered up. Fast forward to present day and Andy and Vicky are the only two remaining from the original group. The happy couple is perfectly ordinary aside from a few quirks. Vicky can occasionally open the refrigerator door from across the room. Meanwhile, Andy can use his mental domination to “push” people into anything from losing weight to having more self confidence. Their daughter, however, is a different story.

Little Charlie McGee has the power of pyrokinesis – the ability to make and control fires with her mind. You can imagine the scares she gave her parents when she was a baby! Despite their powers that they inherited for a measly two hundred in college, the McGees live a fulfilling and normal life. They also have no idea that they have been watched and followed since the experiment ended and that an allusive group called “The Shop” is very much interested in Andy and Charlie.

After Andy has a hunch of something bad happening at his work as a college professor, he rushes home to find his wife dead and Charlie missing. He learns that his daughter was taken from a friend’s home and time is of the essence before The Shop has her for forever. He uses his power of the push to locate her and they have been on the run from Charlie’s captors ever since.

The Shop believes that Andy and Charlie are incredibly dangerous and could also be very useful for their own personal gain. They will not stop hunting father and daughter until they have them locked up at their compound. And, once they have Andy and Charlie, there is no telling what will happen to them next. How long can the McGees evade The Shop’s clutches? What’s going to happen when they’re caught? Read Fire-Starter to find out!

I am so freaking obsessed with Fire-Starter and cannot believe that I haven’t read it before. From beginning to end, the tension in this book was so high because Andy and Charlie are so easy to root for. Andy is such a doting father and Charlie is just sweet as can be. However, it wouldn’t be a Stephen King book if they were on the run for forever. They had to get caught eventually but you didn’t know when and it made the book simply unputdownable.

Fire-Starter went back and forth from past and present and shifted narrators every couple of chapters. You all know how much I love that in a book so that was a huge plus. It was also interesting to know what Charlie and Andy were doing and what The Shop was planning to do about it in tandem. There were so many times when this read lulled me into a false sense of security and I would hope that The Shop would slip up. Then, something major would happen and it was heartbreaking. Trust and believe, my jaw dropped like five hundred times throughout the book!

Fire-Starter was such an easy, enjoyable read and it was a fresh take on what horror is because it’s not always things that go bump in the night. Sometimes, it’s people who are horrifying. Stephen King really embraced that in Fire-Starter and further solidifies him as King Of Horror in my mind. Like Carrie, I will be awarding Fire-Starter with the coveted ten out of ten stars and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s a perfect spooky season read!

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah!

 

Lil Red’s Book Club: Carrie By Stephen King Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Carrie By Stephen King Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! With minimal time to go to the library, I have been pulling from mine and Johnny’s book nook for something to read. After finishing In Cold Blood, I decided on Carrie by Stephen King. I haven’t read Carrie since freshman year of high school and it is MESSED. UP. Before our discussion (with no spoilers, of course), I will be placing a trigger warning on it for disturbing content, abuse, and bullying. Now, let’s get to it:

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Carrie White is a sad and lonely girl and has been since the day she was born to her religious fanatic mother. Her days consist of being beaten, locked in a closet to pray, and being the butt of everyone’s jokes at school. However, Carrie is special and has a power deep within her that didn’t get unlocked until a particularly nasty incident.

Poor Carrie got her first period in the shower after gym class and thought that she was bleeding to death. Rather than help her, all of the girls in her class began throwing tampons and pads and yelled at her to “plug it up”. In her despair, Carrie made the lights in the bathroom burn out – just by using her mind.

Carrie is, indeed, special and has the power of telekinesis or being able to move objects just by thinking of it. While Carrie spends her time perfecting her craft, other plans are set into motion. Popular Sue Snell feels remorse for the bathroom incident and wants to make things right. So, she asks her boyfriend, Tommy, to take Carrie to the senior prom.

Meanwhile, mean girl Chris is enraged that she has to miss the prom because she skipped out on the detentions given for tormenting Carrie in the bathroom. Chris and Sue have a very different idea of making prom an unforgettable night for Carrie. As Carrie prepares for the prom by making her own dress and watching what she eats, Chris and her boyfriend begin planning the ultimate revenge.

Fast forward to prom night and Carrie shows up on the arm of Tommy Ross. She feels beautiful and is entranced by the magic of the event. People are complimenting her, talking to her, and for once in her life Carrie feels seen. Her and Tommy are even voted prom king and queen. Then, everything goes downhill rapidly.

While standing on stage and accepting their new title of high school royalty, two buckets of pig’s blood are spilled all over Carrie. The metaphorical straw broke the camel’s back and a murderous rampage ensues compliments of Carrie’s special gift. Prom night was unforgettable. Will anyone make it out alive? Read Carrie to find out!

My husband and I are huge fans of Stephen King and rereading Carrie after so long is a perfect reminder why. This book is terrifying and, honestly, heartbreaking. It was SO hard to read about the torment that Carrie is subjected to on a daily basis. She is not safe at home or school and is utterly alone in her misery. I couldn’t even imagine.

I often see memes on Facebook of “reading or watching Carrie” with the picture of the mom from Arrested Development saying “good for her”. And to be real, I was rooting for Carrie the entire time, even during the grand finale. It is such a prime example of the hunted becoming the huntress and essentially making the bullies eat their words. So, yes, GOOD FOR HER – especially because it was impossible to root for any of the people who were so awful to her!

I am going to rate Carrie with the coveted ten out of ten stars. If you haven’t read it and are into the horror genre, then I cannot recommend it enough. It is such a great introduction to Stephen King books and is, easily, one of his most powerful novels.

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: In Cold Blood By Truman Capote Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: In Cold Blood By Truman Capote Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! After finishing the Obama Biden Mystery series by Andrew Shaffer, I was completely out of things to read. So, I decided to finally take Johnny’s advice and read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. He has been telling me for three years to give it a try and after caving, I don’t know why I didn’t listen to him from the start. It. Was. AMAZING!

Without giving any spoilers away, we will be discussing what is thought to be one of the best True Crime books after written. Before we begin, however, I will be placing a big fat trigger warning on In Cold Blood for disturbing content and gruesome violence. Now, let’s get to it:

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Holcomb, Kansas is a small rural town where everyone knows everyone. People are generous to their neighbors, attend church, and never lock their doors. The Clutter family is at the center of this community and each member is well liked and respected by all. Mr. and Mrs. Clutter and their children, Kenyon and Nancy, live on a beautiful ranching property and spent their final day without even an inkling of what was going to happen next.

On November 15th, 1959, each member of the Clutter family was murdered in their own home. The slaying was brutal and no one could make sense of it. The assailants left behind almost no clues and the inhabitants of Holcomb couldn’t imagine a crime like this unfolding before them. Especially a crime against the Clutters. After the discovery of the murders, everyone began locking their doors at night.

As the crime scene was examined with a fine toothed comb, fresh from prison Perry Smith and Dick Hickock are patting themselves on the back for a job well done. They executed their plan to perfection and left no witnesses or clues. There was nothing tying them to the Clutter killings so there’s no way they will get caught. Now, they were on their way to Mexico to search for work and live the lives that they always dreamed about behind bars.

With seemingly no information for the detectives to work with and the assailants on the move, it is believed that the Clutter’s murderers will never be brought to justice. However, when a huge break in the case happens, Perry and Dick are officially on the radar. Will they get caught before they can hurt anyone else? Read In Cold Blood to find out!

Let me start off by saying that I found the first seventy or so pages of In Cold Blood to be boring as HELL. There were two things that kept me reading, though, and I am glad for it. 1) Johnny’s promise of “things are about to get crazy” and 2) His copy of the book was purchased at Goodwill and there were notes, highlighted, and underlined sections from the previous owner on every page. I thought that this was really cool and liked seeing what someone else was thinking as they read!

When the pace of In Cold Blood picked up, I was completely absorbed in it and always felt disappointed when I had to put it down. This book was INSANE. It went back and forth between Perry, Dick, and the detectives and I never had any idea what was going to happen next. It was a nail biter because of the cat and mouse chase between the parties. I knew that eventually Perry and Dick would be caught but I never knew when or how.

In Cold Blood made me experience a whirlwind of different emotions. I was enraged by the Clutter family tragedy and rooting for justice to be served. I also felt sympathetic to Perry in a sense but not so much for Dick. Truman Capote’s masterful writing was able to invoke so many diverse feelings and it felt like I was a resident of Holcomb too and waiting on pins and needles for the end result. It was a rollarcoaster ride!

Despite a slow start, I am still going to rate In Cold Blood with the highly coveted ten out of ten stars. The story needed to be set up and I see that. Once all of the Dominoes were in place and tumbling down, it kept me invested for days after finishing the book. I can now understand why people call it “the best”!

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Paris Apartment By Lucy Foley Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Paris Apartment By Lucy Foley Edition

Hello! We interrupt your regularly scheduled OOTD bloopers for a brand new Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing an excellent read by Lucy Foley called The Paris Apartment. This was a fast paced thriller that included everything I like – multiple narrators, short chapters, a good whodoneit, and lots of text in French. Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on The Paris Apartment for violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it – without giving any spoilers away, of course:

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Jess is on the run. Not only from her past but a petty crime committed in the UK. With no friends and family to turn to aside from her estranged half brother, Ben, she decides that now is as good a time as any to visit him in Paris. He somewhat reluctantly agrees, gives her his address, and promises to wait up for her when she arrives in the evening. However, during her travels, Ben stops replying to texts and phone calls. He is also nowhere to be found when Jess arrives at the ultra posh apartment that she has no idea how he affords as a freelance journalist.

With a bit of ingenuity at the locked gate and some good old fashioned lock picking at Ben’s apartment door, she is finally inside. Rather than finding Ben asleep, she sees that his wallet and phone have been left behind. Still hopeful that her free spirited brother will arrive in the morning with an excuse that he forgot, Jess goes to sleep. And in the morning? Nothing. And the days to come? Nothing. Ben has disappeared.

The day after her arrival, Jess begins to investigate and there is no better place to start than with the residents of the apartment. There is the violent alcoholic Antoine on the first floor, nice guy Nicholas on the second, elusive Mimi and party girl Camille on the fourth, filthy rich Sophie and Jacques in the penthouse, and a concierge who sees everything in the lodge. All of them provide Jess with nothing of value but they all appear to be hiding something about her brother’s whereabouts.

The more Jess digs, the more she is convinced that someone in the apartment is to blame. In Ben’s wallet, she finds a business card for Theo, an editor of a Paris newspaper. He tells Jess that Ben was working on an article for him that was a pure investigative piece. A far cry from his usual restaurant reviews. Ben’s big scoop is about someone in the apartment but who? And is this how he came to disappear into thin air? Read The Paris Apartment to find out!

I really enjoyed The Paris Apartment and, despite the *slightly* farfetched conclusion, I think that it is worth the read. While I did figure out the grand reveals fairly easily, it was still a fun thriller that had me hooked. In fact, I was sad when I finished it because I wanted more – especially in regards to the reactions of the grand finale from the apartment residents.

Jess was a very likeable and unlikely heroine and she was so easy to root for. She has a somewhat scruffy appearance and is dirt poor so it was really endearing as she went about her investigation among people who want for nothing. Jess was also reckless and you truly felt that danger was around the corner for her all of the time, which kept me on the edge of my seat.

Although the other main players in the book were equally horrible in their own right, I still loved the back and forth chapters between all of them. Their chapters shifted between the past with Ben and the present without him so you got to learn all of the key moments that led up to his disappearance. I do like a more vague read but it was nice to have all of the cards out on the table with minimal guesswork for once.

Overall, I am going to rate The Paris Apartment with an eight out of ten stars. Was it the most original thing I’ve read? Not really. However, it was a good page turner and I still recommend it. I would definitely read more by Lucy Foley!

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: Mexican Gothic By Silvia Moreno-Garcia Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Mexican Gothic By Silvia Moreno-Garcia Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Without giving any spoilers away, as always, we will be discussing a suspense novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia called Mexican Gothic. Before we begin, I will be placing a big fat trigger warning on this book for disturbing content and violence both physical and sexual. Now, let’s get to it:

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Noemi Taboada is a young socialite living in Mexico City in the early 1950s. She is a tenacious woman and when she isn’t spending her free time dancing the night away she is diligently working towards a Masters degree in anthropology. Noemi’s biggest concern is what to wear on a night out but this is all about to change drastically after her family receives a disturbing letter from her cousin, Catalina.

Catalina is a bit older than Noemi and has been married for about a year to the handsome Virgil Doyle. She lives a fair distance away in the remote El Triunfo in the Doyle estate called the High Place. Noemi’s family assumed she was too busy being a newlywed to be in contact often and her letter is the first correspondence they’ve had since the wedding. In her letter, she describes hearing and seeing ghosts and desperately requests Noemi’s presence.

In exchange for checking in on Noemi, her father will allow her to go to a co-ed college to continue her studies. So, she packs her bags and makes her way to the High Place. Noemi’s destination is a looming estate shrouded by mist and an overwhelming darkness. The dark cloud is not limited to the property itself but to those who inhabit it too.

What used to be a flourishing mining community run by the Doyle family is now limited to a handful of zombie like servants and the remaining Doyles. There is Catalina and her husband Virgil, Virgil’s aunt and cousin named Florence and Francis, and Howard who is Virgil’s father. To Noemi, each one seems more unpleasant than the next and she has half a mind to turn around and go home.

The rules of High Place are strict and something that Noemi is not used to. No talking at dinner, no smoking, speak in hushed voices, and not to disturb Catalina because she needs her rest. The longer she is at the Doyle home, the worse Catalina seems to get and Noemi begins to get a taste of what her cousin suffers from.

Noemi starts to have dreadful bouts of sleepwalking, distressing nightmares, and terrifying encounters with the Doyle family. She used to scoff at the idea that there are ghosts lurking in the High Place but begins to see that Catalina might be right. High Place had a dark past and even more disturbing plans for the future of the Doyles. Will Noemi and her cousin make it out alive? Read Mexican Gothic to find out!

Upon finishing Mexican Gothic, I felt rather torn. I liked the book overall but found the plot twist to be extremely farfetched. Then, I began to take it for what it was despite its unlikelihood and decided it was still a very worthwhile read. I am not used to reading books with a touch of dark magic (Which is all I will say about the grand reveal.) and found that I enjoyed it even more after having time to digest it.

Noemi carried this story so well as the only narrator and I loved her sass, determination, and panache for bending the rules. She came to High Place with a mission of protecting her cousin and refused to leave until that was fulfilled. This showed so much strength and perseverance on her end because the easiest thing for her to do was simply leave – especially because the villains were completely despicable.

I will admit that some parts of Mexican Gothic kind of dragged on but it wasn’t as slow of a burn as books I have read recently. It continued to hold my attention until the very end and I will rate it with a seven out of ten stars. This is not a read for the faint of heart but if you dare to visit the High Place, you won’t be disappointed!

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: Behind Closed Doors By B.A. Paris Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Behind Closed Doors By B.A. Paris Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a thriller by B.A. Paris called Behind Closed Doors – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Before we begin, let me start off by saying that this book was JACKED UP and, easily, one of the most disturbing things that I have read in a while. So, it should go without saying that a big fat trigger warning will be placed on it for physical and mental abuse, intended abuse, animal abuse, and a plot that had me fucked up (For lack of a better word!). You’ve been warned, now let’s get to it:

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Could Jack and Grace Angel be any more perfect? Jack has the perfect job of defending battered women and has never lost a case. Grace is a perfect, beautiful stay at home wife and cooks lavish meals to entertain their friends in a perfect mansion. To all concerned, they are the epitome of the perfect couple and surprise those they know by never arguing and constantly looking lovingly into each other’s eyes. Although, they have no idea what is going on Behind Closed Doors.

Within the walls of the Angel home, Grace is under the strict control of her psychopathic husband and is confined to one room with nothing but a bed and a bathroom. Jack has created the persona of perfection for them both and has painted Grace as mentally unstable to divert attention from her attempts to escape and claims of being held prisoner. That is, truly, the pot calling the kettle black because Jack is about as mentally unstable as it gets.

Ever since spotting Grace and her younger sister, Millie, who has Down Syndrome at the park, Jack knew that he had to have them both. He thrives on fear and has since he was a child and considered Grace and Millie the perfect candidates for his sick torture games. For now, Millie is safe because she is away at boarding school. As soon as she turns eighteen and lives with Jack and Grace, however, is a totally different story.

The birthday countdown for Millie is fast approaching and Grace knows that her chances of saving them both become less likely with each passing day. With her determination and the ingenious help from Millie, Grace begins to plot their escape. But can it even be done when Grace can’t leave the cell in her own home and Jack is always ten steps ahead? Read Behind Closed Doors to find out!

Behind Closed Doors left me purely and utterly shook and I am still digesting it days after finishing it. The plot was somewhat of your classic “secret room” thriller but it had so many unique and, honestly, disgusting twists that it was in a category all of its own. Behind Closed Doors allowed you to tap into Grace’s mind in her past and present as a severely abused woman and there were times when it felt like you were suffering right along with her.

After finishing Behind Closed Doors, I was very curious to find out what other people had thought about it and read some reviews. There were many who said that it was one of the best thrillers that they have read in years. However, I was surprised to see so many reviews in which people called it “boring”. I knew that it was not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but I have a hard time understanding how it bored the reader.

As someone who was in a mentally abusive relationship, the psychological torture that Grace faced hit close to home. Her paranoia, constant fear, and huge sense of betrayal were all such real feelings that I felt personally and was invoked in this book. I do agree with the reviewers saying that the situation in Behind Closed Doors was not plausible BUT the emotions Grace felt and her own diminishing mental state was all too real.

As far as characters go, Jack was the worst of the worst villains that I have read about in a long while. This, in itself, was enough to keep you rooting for Grace and Millie even after finishing the book. I simply adored Millie who was brilliant, sweet, and hilarious. Grace was a formidable heroine who continued to fight no matter how many times she was foiled if not for her sake than for Millie’s. I loved the bond that Millie and Grace had with each other and it provided a glimmer of sunshine during such a dark read.

Overall, I am going to rate Behind Closed Doors with a ten out of ten stars. I keep trying to find reasons to rate it lower and I can’t. Despite its brutal subject matter, it was a hell of a read that kept me emotionally invested several days after reading the last page. This is not a read for everyone and I recommend not reading it if you fall under that category. However, if you can stomach it, then you will not be disappointed.

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Family Across The Street By Nicole Trope Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Family Across The Street By Nicole Trope Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we will be discussing an intense psychological thriller by Nicole Trope called The Family Across The Street – without giving any spoilers away, of course. This book was absolutely insane and before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on it for graphic violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it:

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Katherine West lives in a posh neighborhood in Sydney, Australia with her husband and their set of twins, Sophie and George. They live on a quiet street and the residents can’t even remember the last time they heard a police siren or seen a cop driving by. It is picture perfect and safe as can be for Katherine, Gladys across the street, and all their neighbors. But, we all know that this is never the case in a thriller.

Logan is a former convict and is covered in violent tattoos inspired from his lifetime of struggle. He is finally turning into the man that he wants to be for himself and his wife and has been working as a delivery driver for his brother in law’s company. On the hottest day of the year, his day begins at Katherine’s home to deliver her new laptop.

At Katherine’s door, she tells Logan that she cannot open it and to leave her purchase there. He can’t do that, however, because it needs signed for and throughout his day, he can’t shake the feeling that there was something wrong. The nosy Gladys across the street feels similarly and throughout her day, she stops by Katherine’s door too only to be told it can’t be opened.

The perfect stranger and neighbor were right, of course, but what is happening in Katherine’s home is something that they never could have guessed. A hostage situation is unfolding in the West’s living room and Katherine and her two twins sit huddled on the couch as they are held at gunpoint. Who is the person that could possibly do this to such a beautiful family? That’s something you will never guess too so read The Family Across The Street to find out!

The Family Across The Street was a rollarcoaster ride of a read with the craziest twists and turns happening every chapter. This is why I had to keep the synopsis short and sweet because every shocking twist is so important to the story. The grand reveal is one that I would have never seen coming in a million years and I am still mulling it over several days after finishing it. It left me totally and completely shook.

The past few books that I have read have been slow burn thrillers and although I enjoyed them, it was nice to read something more fast paced. The Family Across The Street started out with a bang and the punches kept rolling until the last page. The chapters alternated between Katherine, Gladys, Logan, and the person holding the Wests hostage and I just had to keep reading to find out what happens next.

Other than the guilty party in this book, all of the characters were so likeable and it made all of the blows that much more painful. I loved brave, determined Katherine and her children. I eventually came around to busybody Gladys and simply adored Logan who was so desperate to keep himself on the straight and narrow. Needless to say, these characters would have never crossed paths had tragedy not struck and their interactions were really cool to read.

Overall, I am going to rate The Family Across The Street with an eight out of ten stars. This book was gruesome and difficult to read at times so if that’s not your bag, then don’t bother. However, if you are looking for a mind blowing thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat, then I can’t recommend it enough!

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Familiars By Stacey Halls Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Familiars By Stacey Halls Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! It has been a while since our last book club meeting because I have been so busy with the move and housewarming party. But we’re back, baby, and today we will be discussing a very unique book called The Familiars by Stacey Halls. Before we begin, I am putting a big fat trigger warning on The Familiars because it is based on the main character’s series of miscarriages. Now, let’s get to it and, as always, without giving any spoilers away:

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*Before we begin our synopsis, we must note that The Familiars is based in England in 1612 during the infamous Pendle Witch Trials.

Fleetwood Shuttleworth (Coolest name ever) is the young mistress of the great Gawthorpe Hall and is with child. Actually, with her fourth child because she has miscarried thrice at just seventeen years old. Fleetwood has had a difficult pregnancy every single time and this one is no different. She can barely keep food down, can’t sleep, and her hair is falling out in clumps.

Her physical health is declining but her mental health is close to the brink too because Fleetwood has discovered a secret correspondence between her husband and doctor. In this letter, the doctor explains that both baby and mother won’t survive this next birth. Knowing that her earthly life will soon come to an end, it is no wonder that her mental health is deteriorating as well.

While walking in the vast woods surrounding Gawthorpe Hall with her faithful dog, Puck, Fleetwood meets a young woman named Alice. She pays what her husband considers a trespasser no mind until Alice and her cross paths again when she has fallen from her horse. Fleetwood learns that Alice is a midwife and hires her to be the savior of herself and unborn child.

Alice has been trained by her mother, who was also a midwife, and cares for her charges with herbs, roots, and things found in nature. And, her methods seem to work because almost instantly, Fleetwood has regained her appetite, sleeps peacefully, and her hair has stopped falling out. Despite Alice’s success, Fleetwood’s husband is suspicious of her, especially because witch trials have just begun and accusations are flying left and right between counties.

Fleetwood’s husband, Richard, is a powerful young man and has the potential to go far in the government. Because of these close family ties, Fleetwood learns that Alice will soon be arrested and tried for witchcraft. She also finds out that her husband might not be the person she fell in love with after all.

Desperate to be away from Richard and fearful for herself and child if Alice stops caring for her, Fleetwood and her midwife flee to safety. The time in the haven of Fleetwood’s mother’s home is cut short, however, and Alice is taken away to the gaols. Will Alice be hung for witchcraft? Will Fleetwood and her child live without her care? Read The Familiars to find out!

I am quite torn about The Familiars because on one hand, I really enjoyed it. On the other, I was so ready for it to be over. This read was a slow burn and written in old English so some of the chapters seemed to drag on endlessly. At first, I was charmed by reading what felt like The Crucible (My favorite!) but there were times when my patience wore thin because there was so much context to wrap my head around.

The Familiars introduced a lot of characters at once and it was difficult to keep track of them all. This was especially true when the witches and their accusers came into play. Of course, every character held their own significance but I think that I would have liked it better if the focus were only on a handful of people. I like an involved story line as much as the next but when I have to go back and reread sections to remember who someone was, I start to get irritated!

Although the characters were plentiful, I did love both Fleetwood and Alice and they each shone as heroines. Fleetwood was brave, determined, and wasn’t afraid to let her opinion be known to a man. And, that was a rarity in 1612! Alice was a perfect character to compliment Fleetwood’s brashness with and was shy, intelligent, and kind. My heart ached when Alice was sent to the gaols and I was rooting for both of them every step of the way.

The synopsis that I provided, truly, doesn’t begin to cover a quarter of what The Familiars is all about and it’s a big bite to chew off. If you can stick with it, I think you will find things about it that you enjoy. However, I ain’t mad at ya if you don’t! Overall, I am going to rate The Familiars with a six out of ten stars. I loved the main characters and primary plot but I don’t think that speaks well for a book if I was thrilled when it was finally over. Take it or leave it, because my opinion is somewhere right in the middle.

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

Lil Red’s Book Club: Secret Admirer By Patricia MacDonald Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Secret Admirer By Patricia MacDonald Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! It has been a while since our last book club post because Johnny and I have been so busy with the move. It took me way longer than usual to finish Secret Admirer by Patricia MacDonald but I’m ready to discuss it today – without giving any spoilers away, of course! Before we begin, I will be putting a trigger warning on Secret Admirer for general violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it:

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Laura and her husband, Jimmy, have it all. A beautiful son named Michael, a successful art gallery, and a loving relationship ready to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, their plans for a prosperous life together are cut short on New Year’s Eve when tragedy strikes – Jimmy has been murdered in his own bed by a supposed burglar. Laura was left with superficial wounds and Michael was unharmed but the trauma of such a great loss has turned their world upside down… Especially because everyone thinks that Laura committed the murder.

Laura claims that a figure dressed in all black attacked her and her husband but no such person has been found. It also is suspicious to law enforcement and everyone in the tight knit community that Laura was essentially left unharmed. Granted, she also makes herself seem even more suspect when she begins a whirlwind romance with Ian Turner and gets married to him almost immediately. Were they the ones plotting Jimmy’s death all along?

As Jimmy’s case grows cold and Laura and Ian seeming more and more likely to have been the perpetrators, new information needs to surface and quickly. Unfortunately, the new lead does nothing to help the new couple. In fact, it’s even more damning because whomever killed Jimmy could have been a contract killer. Will Laura spend the rest of her life behind bars? And, if she didn’t have a part to play in her husband’s death, then who did? Read Secret Admirer to find out!

Overall, I thought that Secret Admirer was pretty good. However, it was a slow boil of a read with things only getting really interesting about a half of the way through. While I did like that I didn’t figure out the main plot twist, it didn’t blow me away by any means and I would have preferred if the book ended differently. Not bad, but definitely not my favorite.

Secret Admirer boasted a long list of characters, but I didn’t particularly care for any of them. I did like Laura and Jimmy’s friend, Gary, a lot but that was about it. Of course, I was rooting for Laura and her family to come out on top but, like the book itself, they weren’t my favorite characters that I have read about.

I am going to rate Secret Admirer with a five out of ten stars. An average rating for an average book. I’m glad that I finally finished it but I think it’s one that you can all skip on.

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: Behind The Red Door By Megan Collins Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Behind The Red Door By Megan Collins Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a thriller by Megan Collins called Behind The Red Door – without giving any spoilers away, of course. This is the third book in a row that I have read by Collins and it was pretty good. However, I definitely didn’t like it as much as The Family Plot or The Winter Sister.

Before we begin our discussion, I will be placing a trigger warning on Behind The Red Door for general violence and disturbing content. Now, let’s get to it:

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Fern has lived a life in which her anxiety will always define her. Her childhood was a lonely and… unique one, which puts in really nicely! Her mother is an artist who would immerse herself in her studio and would stay there for days on end. Her father studies the psychology behind fear and Fern was his subject during a majority of his “experiments”.

During these experiments, Fern’s dad would leave her in unfamiliar places or alone all night and then interview her afterwards to learn about what scared her. She was more of a test subject than a daughter and her whole childhood was spent longing for attention from her parents. Needless to say, this deeply effected her adult life and at thirty-two, she has profound anxiety, reoccurring nightmares, and is constantly scratching at her wrists.

Fern has spent a majority of her adult life avoiding her parents and hometown but she agrees to return to help her dad pack for his upcoming move. The night before Fern leaves, she is settled in front of the TV with her husband watching the evening news. The main headline is a shocking one about a woman who has gone missing named Astrid.

After seeing her picture, Fern can’t shake the feeling that she knows Astrid from somewhere. Her husband isn’t surprised because Astrid made the news twenty years prior for being kidnapped for a month and then returned close to Fern’s hometown. What he doesn’t know, though, is that Astrid’s face has haunted Fern’s nightmares for as long as she can remember.

Fern takes the opportunity of helping her dad pack to try and find the missing woman herself. Twenty years ago, Astrid disappeared without a trace but her newly released memoir reveals that there was a witness. Is Fern the witness that never came forward? And, if so, why can’t she remember meeting Astrid at all? Read Behind The Red Door to find out!

After a couple chapters in of Behind The Red Door, I thought that it wasn’t Collins’ best work. In her other two novels, the characters had their faults but they were, for the most part, very likeable. I felt connections to the people that I was reading about and that just wasn’t the case with Behind The Red Door.

Fern’s father was a nightmare and Fern, herself, wasn’t my favorite leading lady. From the start of this book, you can tell that her anxiety is absolutely crippling and understandably so. However, I was hoping for moments of her strength to shine through and this never happened. About halfway through, I admit that I stopped rooting for her because her character development was so minimal.

As far as the story line goes, it was fine. Now, I know that the books that I like to read have far fetched plots but this one was way too impossible for my liking. This also made it difficult to care for any of the characters because everything about Behind The Red Door was just so unlikely. I will say that the grand reveal was good and I didn’t figure it out, which is always a plus.

Overall, I am going to rate Behind The Red Door with a five out of ten stars. A writer’s work can’t all be winners and this book was a prime example of that. I wouldn’t recommend reading this one but do give The Family Plot or The Winter Sister a try because they were excellent.

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah