The Project by Courtney Summers

I’m a little backed up on my reviews here, but in early February I picked up Courtney Summers’ new release, The Project. I was a big fan of her previous work, Sadie, which was a thriller about a young girl who was investigating the disappearance of her little sister. This new book takes on that same theme but in a very different setting.

Title: The Project

Author: Courtney Summers

Published: February 2, 2021

This was a story about 2 estranged sisters, Bea and Lo, that was told in a dual timeline. One sister was in a disfiguring car accident that also killed their parents and one sister joined a cult-like organization called the Unity Project when she couldn’t deal with the aftermath of the accident. As Lo, the sister who was injured, searches for her sister Bea, who joined the Unity Project and then fell off the grid, Lo finds herself attempting to infiltrate the same group where her sister found a home. Lo is a young woman who is searching for both a home and a family and the Unity Project is a tempting potential answer for both of those needs.

I enjoy reading about cult stories and I love a dual timeline, so this story really appealed to me. While I won’t spoil it, I really enjoyed the ending, not the resolution about Bea, but the parts that came after. Those parts represented trauma very well, in my opinion. I rated this one 4 stars personally. I will continue to pick up future titles from Summers because she writes female trauma and familial bonds so well.

Lemonade rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon3 glasses of lemonade= a book that you could recommend to coworkers and friends you don’t know very well. There are some sex scenes and some violent scenes, but the story is addictive and you’ll want to keep reading once you’re hooked.

Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin

Hello Kittens! The book I’m talking about today is the recently published sequel to Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin, which I read during quarantine and really enjoyed. Serpent & Dove is the story of a witch named Lou, and the witch hunter who is forced to become her husband, named Reid. It is a YA fantasy romance with a unique magic system. I highly recommend Serpent & Dove. I am going to try to talk about the sequel without revealing any spoilers, but I can’t promise I won’t inadvertently reveal something, so go pick up Serpent & Dove now and then come back and read this. This will be the first time that I have ever attempted to write a spoiler-free review of a sequel, so this ought to be interesting.

Title: Blood & Honey

Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2)

Author: Shelby Mahurin

Author website:

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publish date: September 1, 2020

ISBN: 9780062878052

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble


This novel picks up almost exactly where the last novel ended. Our main characters are in imminent danger and are on the run from both the Chasseurs (religious army) and witches. They are also struggling with mourning someone who held radically different positions in both of their lives. They are working on a plan for what they and their band of compatriots will do next, but both are reluctant to leave the relative safety of their current location.

Ultimately, the decision is made to journey throughout the land to recruit allies for their cause. This doesn’t go well on either front and forces them to split up, which allows for certain vulnerabilities to be exploited. Nonetheless, they do convince a few new people/beings to join their cause and they head towards the city, where they believe their enemy will soon attack again.

Pretty much everything goes wrong. At least one of their band will die and others will go missing. The story ends on a massive cliffhanger after several unexpected twists and the reader alone will know how much danger they are all still in.

Why I liked it:

I appreciated that we got to reunite with all of the characters from the original book and that the new characters that came into the story in this novel did not overshadow them. I still love the magic system in this book and it was expanded upon here in ways that I found really interesting. We get new magical beings and more magically-inclined people who no one believed existed and they play pivotal roles in moving the story forward.

Lastly, I really loved the world building that we got in this story. We explore two new areas in this world and get to see the range of living experiences of the “average” people. It’s really nice to see how life outside of the main city functions and to realize that actually there’s a lot of range among the people in their levels of tolerance for the Chasseurs and witches.

What I would like to change:

Lou and Reid’s relationship currently is troubling me. They are struggling with legitimate differences and it’s not unrealistic to think that they might not be perfectly suited for each other since they were forced to marry and then were in desperate circumstances that allowed feelings to blossom. We started to explore the idea that these two people might love each other but might not be good for each other, and I felt like that was a legitimate line of thinking to pursue, but then it seems like things get tied up in a nice cozy bow at the end that just felt a little disingenuous to the issues that were building throughout the rest of the book.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic galley of this title from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My library rating: This book had fewer steamy scenes in it than the first book did, so I think it would be fine for most people. It’s just an intense young adult romance with a lot of magic thrown in, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon3 glasses of lemonade= a book that you could recommend to coworkers and friends you don’t know very well.

My personal preference rating: I rated this title 3 stars. Ultimately, I think that I liked the first book a little better, but I will definitely be reading the third book when it comes out.

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Hello Kittens! How do you guys feel about fairy tale re-tellings? I am a fan of them, personally, which is why I jumped at the chance to read an upcoming release that is a re-telling of Cinderella. This is a YA fantasy book that features a black female lesbian protagonist. It is a debut for this author, who has signed a 2-book deal with the publisher. It’s always hard to know how a book like this will land in my area of the country, but I really enjoyed this read. It wasn’t perfect, but I honestly enjoyed this take on the classic Cinderella story and I was rooting for the protagonist throughout. Give it a try if you’re willing.

Title: Cinderella is DeadCinderella Is Dead

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Author website:

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publish date: July 7th, 2020

ISBN: 9781547603886

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble


It has been 200 years since Cinderella married Prince Charming, and all who live in her land know the story by heart…all the girls at least. Things have changed a little bit since Cinderella sat on the throne. First, there are a set of decrees that are designed to “protect” the women of this land. Things like curfews and rules about obeying their heads of households (all men, by the way). Additionally, a ball is held in honor of Cinderella’s fairy tale ending every year, but attendance is now mandatory for every young woman of marriageable age. Girls come to the ball to be chosen by their husbands. If they are not chosen by their third ball, they are considered “forfeit” and are sent to work as laborers in service to their kingdom.

This year, a young woman named Sophia is agonizing over the upcoming ball. She’s read Cinderella’s story over and over again. She knows it by heart, as do all of the girls in this land. The only problem is, she wouldn’t have chosen a prince for herself, she would much rather have married a princess. She is in love with her best friend Erin and has no desire to be “chosen” by any man at the ball. As she struggles with what her parents and her country expect of her, desperation sets in. Not content to accept her fate, Sophia begs Erin to run away with her. If they’re caught, they’ll be put to death and their families will suffer, but Sophia sees it as their only option. Erin, however, is not brave enough to turn away from their fate and endanger her family.

When the night of the ball finally arrives, everything goes wrong and Sophia ends up fleeing for her life. As she runs from the castle, she encounters a young woman named Constance who is a descendant of one of Cinderella’s stepsisters. Constance begins to unravel the tale that Sophia thought she knew and they both set off on a course to change this world for all of the girls who are still trapped in it. It won’t be easy. They’ll have to seek magic that they aren’t even sure exists and will still need to return to the castle to confront the evil king. No one thinks they will win, but Sophia and Constance know that there are no other options.

Why I liked it:

I appreciated that the original story was kept in tact, but that the author played with the interpretation of events. I think that Sophia is a well-developed character and the reader is invested in her personal growth throughout the story. There are some emotionally gutting moments in the story that the reader feels as viscerally as Sophia does. I also appreciated that Sophia’s inner monologue directly addresses what might feel like inauthentic moments in the plot. In particular, I appreciate how Sophia’s feelings about the witch are expressed in the story. Up until it was put on the page, I found her acceptance of Amina to be a little too convenient, but Bayron gives the inner monologue the authenticity that was lacking a little in the dialogue.

I really appreciate that we get a Cinderella (both in the character of Sophia and the original Cinderella) who is more of a warrior. I know Disney likes their happy, uncomplicated endings, but I like a Cinderella who has a little more depth to aspire to. The Cinderella that we get in this story suffered a terrible fate, but she was a fighter who was trying to do what was right for her people. Admirable.

What I would like to change:

We get thrown right into the story here, and that was pretty disorienting for me as the reader. We get a lot of information dumped on us at the very beginning, which feels a little awkward because the book is 400 pages long. I was left wondering what the rush was and it made the first part of the story feel clunky. Once that initial portion was over, we moved on to a little more action.

I also didn’t love Erin’s development in the story. I felt like the character was sacrificed but that her motivations didn’t line up with what the reader was told about her. She’s in a relationship with Sophia up until the ball and then she suddenly shuts it all down? Her first foray into marriage is with a highly abusive man and she doesn’t take an opportunity to run? I can understand her staying if the pattern of abuse was more established, but by all accounts she had a good home life and a reason to believe in Sophia. I just didn’t quite buy into that part as a reader.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.

My library rating: Like I said, it’s hard to peg how a title like this will be received in my area of the country. There are certainly people who will object to it for a number of reasons, but I think in terms of my ability to recommend it to patrons, it still has a lot of potential. I hope there will come a day where I don’t need to worry about someone screaming at me or writing to the local paper because a Librarian recommended material that they consider “inappropriate” to their child. I hope it comes soon.

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon3 glasses of lemonade= a book that you could recommend to coworkers and friends you don’t know very well.

My personal preference rating: I gave this title 4 stars and look forward to the author’s next book.

The Shadows by Alex North

Hello Kittens! I was looking through my archives in preparation for writing this review because I just knew that I had reviewed The Whisper Man by Alex North sometime last year. I absolutely had to have reviewed it because I raved about the book to nearly anyone who would listen and recommended it to all of my colleagues who read thrillers. But, guess what? I must have been so busy talking about the book that I forgot to write about it, because there was no review on the site. I will not make that mistake again. Here today for your reading pleasure, I offer my review of Alex North’s second book, The Shadows. It is even creepier than The Whisper Man was. If you like spooky thrillers, then you need to clear your calendar for this book, because it is definitely worth the read.

Title: The ShadowsThe Shadows

Author: Alex North

Author Twitter (no website found):

Publisher: Celadon

Publish date: 7/7/20

ISBN: 9781250318039

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble


Twenty-five years ago something terrible happened in the town of Gritten Woods and Paul Adams was an unwilling witness to most of it. As a young man, his best friend James got caught up with two other local boys who were nothing but trouble, Billy Roberts and Charlie Crabtree. Before the school year is out, Billy and Charlie will murder one of their classmates in a ritualistic effort to leave this world for a dreamworld that they have worked to convince James and Paul is real. That murder will tear many lives apart for many reasons, but the biggest one of all will be that while Billy is brought to justice for the crime, Charlie is never seen again. Did his sacrificial offering work? Did he die in the woods? Is he still out there somewhere? These questions will haunt everyone who was involved in the case then and have unforeseen repercussions in the present.

Paul left Gritten Woods as soon as he was old enough, severing contact with nearly everyone there. He hasn’t been back since he was a teen and only returns now because his mother has been placed in hospice care. Coming home is not easy and he is bombarded by the memories that he has been shutting out for so many years. He is forced to confront everything that happened then and works to figure out what actually happened wtth Charlie. Someone is leaving creepy and threatening messages for Paul in the present and this time he is determined to stand his ground instead of running away.

We also reunite with Detective Amanda Beck (who readers will remember from The Whisper Man). While she was not involved in the original case, a current case in her jurisdiction sends her looking for answers in Gritten Woods. What starts out as an isolated incident suddenly seems to have connections to the dark past of this desolate town. Amanda will be facing her fears and confronting her feelings about her job and her relationship with her deceased father, all while chasing a killer who seems to be pure evil.

Is it all just a story made up by twisted teenagers or is there something lurking in the shadows of Gritten Woods? Something that wants to finish what it started 25 years ago?

Why I liked it:

It’s seriously creepy right from the start. While we only have 2 books to judge, this seems to be an Alex North hallmark. He sets the scenes perfectly in these dying towns which are described as being lacking in purpose and opportunity. These are the places that people want to leave but often find themselves stuck in. These descriptions really add to the perception that the characters are going to become trapped in their situations.

I loved the twists in this book. It made writing the review a little tricky, because there’s one piece of information about 75% of the way through the book and it makes the reader re-evaluate everything they’ve read up to that point (as all good twists should). Once you know, you can’t un-know it, and I look forward to re-reading this title with that knowledge the second time around.

I also like that North gives the reader everything that they need to know for the story to make sense without twisting the plot too dramatically in an effort to shock the reader. I don’t love when authors make the bad guy at the end an unknown entity with motives that the reader would not have known ahead of time. North gave us all of the clues and I appreciated that, even if I didn’t catch them all at the time. I did peg one of the twists, but the second one caught me completely off guard and I loved that.

What I would like to change:

I wish that I had re-read The Whisper Man more recently before starting this. For me, Detective Amanda Beck started out as a stranger for me. I had to go back and re-read some reviews from the first book to remember her character. I really appreciated that she was there and that there was a reference to the “Whisper Man” case in this book, since it was like finding an Easter egg for the fans, but I really had forgotten a lot about her in the meantime.

Disclaimer: I received an e-galley of this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My library rating: There are a lot of f-bombs and a little bit of gore in this book. I would probably be a little more selective about who I recommended it to. While it is a thriller, it’s darker than a traditional thriller and leans heavily towards horror.

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon3 glasses of lemonade= a book that you could recommend to coworkers and friends you don’t know very well.

My personal preference rating: I gave this title 5 stars. I have no idea how long we’ll be waiting for the next book from Alex North, but it will be an auto-buy for me for sure. This was no sophomore slump effort as far as I was concerned. I may have even liked it better than The Whisper Man.

Extra stuff:

The Mysterious Alex North

Alex North is a somewhat mysterious author at the moment. This is his second book written under this pen name and there is no author website or photo associated with him, only a Twitter account and some brief info on the publisher’s page. A little internet digging is suggesting however, that Alex North and Steve Mosby are one in the same ( Mosby has 11 published works that might be worth a look, just based on how great Alex North writes. I’m not sure what the point of separating the works is at this point, but I can only guess that his work as Alex North is drastically different from the Mosby writings. Either way, it adds an air of mystery to Alex North’s titles.

Lucid Dreams

A good bit of the plot in this book deals with a concept called lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is a type of dreaming that involves the dreamer being aware that they are asleep and having the ability to control what happens in the dream (a simplistic definition). As it turns out, this is an actual thing. If you’re interested in learning more about it, I found a list of books on Goodreads that focus on lucid dreaming.

Goodreads list:

The Other People by C. J. Tudor

My Dear Kittens! For today, I have a pretty creepy read for you. I read my first C.J. Tudor book a few weeks ago and loved it so much that I snapped up another one right away. I’m very grateful for ebooks right now, even if I do get a headache when I read too many hours in that format. If you’re looking for a read to take you away from all of this but still keep you in a dark place, then this would be a good choice. This is a relatively new release and Tudor doesn’t have a huge backlist, but having read 2 of her titles now, I’ll be adding her to my list of must-read authors. Stay well and enjoy reading!

Title: The Other People

Author: C.J. TudorThe Other People

Author website:

Publisher: Ballantine Books (a Random House imprint)

Publish date: January 28th, 2020

ISBN: 9781984824998

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble


Gabriel is stuck in traffic on his way home when his life changes forever. In the car ahead of him he gets a fleeting glimpse of a young girl. She looks exactly like his daughter, Izzy, and she seems frightened. Gabe makes a split second decision to pursue the car through the traffic, but eventually loses track of the vehicle and convinces himself that it could not have been Izzy. He pulls over at a service station to call home and confirm that all is well, but when the police answer the phone, they tell him that something terrible has happened to his wife and his daughter.

Despite the police’s insistence that both his wife and daughter died that day, with both of their bodies recovered at the scene, Gabe refuses to believe that Izzy is dead. After all, he knows now that he could have seen her that day on the interstate. Consumed with guilt for giving up the chase then, Gabe now spends his days driving up and down the interstates, looking for that car and any other sign of his daughter. Along the way he comes into contact with a host of characters, some who seem willing to help him for reasons unknown, and some who believe he is just a hopeless man with an obsession.

When Gabe starts uncovering the truth of what happened that day, he falls down a rabbit hole that will entangle half a dozen lives. His wife is dead. Izzy must be alive. People he trusted have lied to him and a mysterious group known only on the Dark Web as the Other People, is coming after him. The vigilante group has a reputation for settling scores, and the more he digs into them, the more trouble he finds.

Why I liked the book:

The book is structured in a way that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. We get chapters from the perspectives of different characters. At first, the only character whose backstory we really know is Gabe, but we are also given the perspectives of a woman named Fran who travels with a strange girl named Alice, as well as the story of a waitress named Katie who works at one of the travel stops that Gabe frequents. As with all good thrillers, their stories seem entirely separate to begin with, but they twine together and form an entirely coherent storyline by the end.

In particular, I really love how many chapters drop a major clue or plot twist in the last sentence. It made it very difficult to stop reading at any one point because I was dying to know how each revelation would impact the overall story.

I also love a good creepy element, and the references to Alice’s narcolepsy and the beach and the strange girl in the bed kept me wondering if the supernatural would play deeply in the story.

Lastly, the Other People vigilante group make great villains. With an underground shady internet group, you never know who is with them, which means that the main characters literally have no one they can trust.

Disclaimer: No disclaimer needed. I borrowed an electronic copy of this title from my library’s digital collection.

My library rating:

This book is a no-brainer recommendation for mystery and thriller lovers, but if I was recommending it to a stranger who wasn’t as familiar with the world of mysteries and thrillers, I probably wouldn’t start with this title. There’s a fair bit of violence and a few actual and attempted murders. It doesn’t really go deep enough into difficult subject matter to be a good book club selection (unless it’s a mystery/thriller book club).

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon3 glasses of lemonade= a book that you could recommend to coworkers and friends you don’t know very well.

My personal preference rating: I gave this one five stars. I love a good dark mystery. I didn’t guess the twists (in fact I was pretty far off about a few things). This is a solid novel for my tastes.