Book Reviews

Home Before Dark Book Review

Every house has a story to tell and a secret to share”

Riley Sager – Home Before Dark
5/5 Haunted Houses (stars)

Synopsis

When Maggie Holt was five years old, she and her parents spent 20 days living in Baneberry Hall, a creepy mansion with a dark past. Maggie’s father wrote a story about their days in that house, claiming it was a horror house. Maggie doesn’t remember anything and doesn’t believe a word in her dad’s “horror novel”. After her dad passes, Maggie finds that the house is now hers and she decides to go get it ready to sell. Despite her father’s final warning to Maggie to not go back, she goes to try and uncover the truth in those dark and horrifying 20 days, even if it means unburying some old ghosts.

My Thoughts

This was a much anticipated read for me and I finally got it from Book of the Month. I knew close to nothing about this book but was very intrigued by the cover and the title, so I went out on a limb and gave it a shot.

The first 40 pages or so of this book, I was a bit irritated because it was very similar to the Netflix series, the Haunting of Hill House. I read that book and the series was nothing like it…this book does a better job outlining and telling that story, that one would easily think the show is based off of this book. The haunted house, the short stay, the spooky things happening, the grounds keeper, etc., all are things that were part of the show too! However, I love a Haunting of Hill House and was quickly over my irritation. I almost wished that the show was based off of this book (but maybe the book was based off the show…who knows?!).

The writing of this book was fantastic. The chapters rotated from Maggie’s perspective to the chapters in her father’s novel. It was so interesting to be able to read a book inside of a book. Sager did a phenomenal job connecting the present perspective with the book’s perspective. For example: One of Maggie’s chapters ends with the sentence; “Some promises do indeed need to be broken” and the next chapter (from her dad’s book) starts with “I need you to make a promise”. This happens quite a few times and I loved how it flowed so nicely even though it was two different perspectives. The chapters complimented each other very well.

I also think that having this “book in a book” aspect added to the mystery and suspense of the story. I was so invested in the story Maggie’s dad wrote, that I was believing every word of it, even if Maggie didn’t (maybe I’m gullible?). His book really brought the horror aspect of the story and then intensified the things Maggie felt and experienced during her short stay as an adult.

I enjoyed Maggie very much. Seeing the story unfold through her eyes and watching her hatch out the mysteries of the house step by step was fascinating. Having to dive into this time of her life that she only knew from the pages in her father’s book was hard for Maggie. It added to the suspense of the story. I found myself trying to decide if her father’s book was fiction of non-fiction and then I was on my toes as Maggie began digging into the past of Baneberry Hall.

Holy Plot-Twist x 2! I didn’t see the ending coming at all (also because I’m dumb when it comes to twists). I was thrown through a loop twice at the end of this book and I loved every second of it! Sager did a fantastic job building the characters, the suspense, making readers formulate their own ideas, and then he threw a wrench in everything and had me reading faster than ever before!

I couldn’t put this book down. From the first chapter I was invested in what was happening in Baneberry Hall. I also loved that the house itself was portrayed as a character; “it never forgets”, “it remembers”, “it breathes”, things like that make the house so much more than just a setting. Some of my favorite thrillers have the setting become like a character and I can add this book to that list too!

There were some parts where I would have liked some more description or scare factor, but other than that, I can’t complain about this book! It wrapped up nicely and I didn’t feel like it was rushed or dragged on. I’ll say it again too, I REALLY loved the book inside of a book writing style too. I recently read Colleen Hoover’s Verity and that also has a similar writing style (I enjoyed that book too, a fun mystery…also a bit creepy).

Overall, I can’t rave enough about this. I’m going to talk my fiance into reading this book because he also loves the Haunting of Hill House and I think he’ll love this book. I may or may not have been raving about it when I finished and it got him interested.

So…if you got anything out of this, let it be to READ THIS BOOK! If you like a good thriller/mystery, this is a great one to try! It had my skin crawling a few times and I was definitely creeped out too!

Buy this book here!

Wrap-Ups

May 2020 Wrap-Up

This is my first time doing a wrap-up before and I am SO excited to revisit the books that I read! I want to start with some statistics (more-so for my records) of the books I read! Please note that I in no means am a professional book reviewer and I base my ratings on my own preferences…maybe one day I’ll get to using an actual formula!

Statistics

Books Read: 12 books

Pages Read: 5,778

Authors: Roald Dahl, Karina Halle, Abigail Haas, Colleen Hoover, Sarah J Maas, Christina Lauren

I can’t remember the last time I was able to read more than one book in a five month period. Work, grad school, and all the other things happening in life weigh down on me and make me struggle to feel sane enough to breath half the time. I get home and want to sleep, not pick up a book or open an e-book. If this quarantine has been anything, it has been a form of peace; allowing me to soothe the mental aches adult life has caused and given me time to submerge myself into one of my favorite hobbies: reading. So, reading ELEVEN books (big books at that) this month has really put a fire under me to continue reading and to make time for myself.

I owe 10/11 all of my May books to Sophie Snow. She got me hooked on Sarah J Maas and I found the rest of the books on Sophie’s Goodreads account. I have no regrets of getting all my book recommendations from someone who knows and loves books (and has been giving me bomb book recs for over 10 years now). Also huge shout out to Sophie for turning me into SJM trash and for fangirling all day, every day with me! Love you and appreciate you!

May’s Books

May started off with an ACOTAR reread. It was my second time reading ACOTAR and my fourth reading ACOMAF. I am still working on my reread of ACOWAR because I read it before bed, usually after reading something else for hours, and I’m tired.

I love this series so much and could rant about it forever. ACOMAF is my favorite (hence the million re-reads), but I loved ACOTAR just as much my second time around…especially because I picked up on SO MUCH foreshadowing! SJM is truly a work of art herself…that brain, *muah*.

These four books came next in my reading journey.
Heir of Fire: I rated this one three stars. I struggled big time going from just Celaena’s perspective to a handful of different POVs. Now that I’m used to the format, I feel like I unfairly rated this book and will have to reread and re-evaluate my choices.
Queen of Shadows: This one earned 4 stars from me. I found a new appreciation for the characters and was enjoying watching the plot build.
Empire of Storms: 5 stars, hands down. This book was amazing and SJM wrecked me per usual. Aelin is truly a masterpiece and her character is who I want to be when I grow up.
***Missing Link: Tower of Dawn: So I got to about chapter 10 in this book and couldn’t do it. Empire of storms had me fired up and invested in Aelin and her friend’s at the end that I didn’t give a youknowwhat about Chaol. I tried to read it, but flounced it in the end. When I re-read this series I will read EoS and ToD simultaneously since they happened at the same time. Maybe that will help me through.
Kingdom of Ash: another five stars for SJM. This book had me consistently flipping through the almost 1000 pages. It was action packed and had me on an emotional roller coaster – I felt like I submerged myself in the book so deeply that I was one of the characters. I wish there were more to the series so I could see how everyone is doing…is that weird?

This book was a chance for me to relax after the craziness that is SJM. I read this in about three hours and enjoyed the simplicity of it. I rated it 3 stars. I enjoy a good smutty book, but this was lacking in the smut department. I appreciated the characters and the plot was fun. Didn’t blow my mind or anything, but it was a nice time to breathe. I would read more by this author as I’m interested to see what else she has written about.

I’ve loved Colleen Hoover’s writing for years now, and this book is nothing like her other books! This is another I read in three-ish hours, mostly because I didn’t dare put it down because I needed to know what in the world was happening! I loved the idea of this book and the plot was something so intriguing to me. I love me a book with mystery and smut! However, I gave Verity 4 stars because of the ending. I, personally, felt like the ending was rushed. I found myself wanting to know more information than was presented and was just kind of left hanging at the end. The book spent all this time building up to this awesome reveal and then, the climax happens, and the book ended…there wasn’t any falling actions that helped close out the plot. Still love the book and will happily re-read it in the future!

This is the third book that I finished, consecutively, in a single evening. There’s a lot of back and forth, time wise, in this book, but the chapter titles do a good job of telling you the “when” of the chapter. This book had me believing one thing the whole entire time I was reading and threw a HUGE plot twist to me at the end. I was dumbfounded and pleasantly surprised by the twist. I gave Dangerous Girls 4 stars because it was another one that had me flipping through pages to figure out what was happening. Is this a book I can see myself reading over and over again? Not really, but I’m glad I got to read it!

I’ve read a lot of smut in my 26 years, and this may be my favorite one yet. The beginning started off slow for me and the story is definitely a slow burn, but it is so worth it in the end. The story flips between POVs of the male and female leads and I enjoy being able to get a read on their characters in different situations. The plot of the book is one that I wasn’t expecting either so that added a bit of excitement into the mix. The smut scenes themselves made me blush and giggle like a school girl but I may or may not have loved them (spoiler: I did). At the end of the book I REALLY wished that Karina Halle had written a sequel so I could follow the two main characters for a little bit more time. I rated this 5 stars and highly recommend for my fellow smut lovers (albeit some word choices are cringey but I powered through).

This book came about because I asked my fiance to pick me a book off our shelf so I could have a really easy read and time to relax my brain. I, believe it or not, have not read any Roald Dahl stories, but I have seen a lot of movie adaptations of his tales. This book was 32 pages of me saying I would never let my child read this (if I had a child). The premise is this “enormous crocodile” making plans to eat the children of the village. I’m not sure how that is appealing to a child…because I probably would have been terrified. The ending also made me wonder what Roald was drinking when he wrote this. Although, thinking on Roald Dahl’s other works…they are all very strange in their own ways. Anyway, this got 3 stars from me and that’s only because I liked the other animals in the book and it was easy to read.

I thought I had finished reading for May, but I finished this one today (May, 30) and had to come add it to my wrap-up!

So, I got to read another Christina Lauren book after all! I gave this one 3.5 stars (and not just because I love the cover!). This was another fun read and I loved that the setting for most of the book is Maui – this is where we want to go on our honeymoon! I liked the idea of the story and enjoyed how it panned out. There were some characters and sub-plots that I didn’t care for though. This book has less smut than the other CL book I read this month, but then again these aren’t really smutty books (which is fine!). My main appreciation is that the main female is curvy, like yours truly (although probably not as curvy as I am), and I was happy to feel like I could relate more to the main female than usual.

Final Thoughts

If you made it this far, thank you for reading my May wrap up and seeing a bit into my book loving mind. I’m not sure what kind of information should go into a wrap up, so I strayed away from going over the plots of the stories. I feel like that’s easier to do in a video, and I don’t know how to record/edit videos so here we are! I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books if you’ve read them, as well as share more information about them as needed!

Thanks for tagging along!