Mini-Reviews

I read two really good books this week that I can’t wait to share with you. Both were very hard to put down and both had some rather terrifying moments. I hope you consider reading them soon.

Hold Back the Tide by Melinda Salisbury

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

This author never ceases to amaze me with her complex characters and riveting stories that are also quite unusual and different from others I have read. And they often have unexpected and devastating endings. This one is one of her best yet.

I loved the setting of the Scottish highlands, how isolated both the village and Alva’s home were made the story creepier and more terrifying. The small town attitudes also lended itself well to the story, especially in how one man can sway everyone to one point of view.

Alva was an amazing character. She is both fierce and strong willed in her beliefs, but she is also a straight thinker who can solve issues. She is the sole narrator of the story and you can feel her grief for her lost mother, but also for the father she remembers from before her mother’s disappearance. Murren Ross, Alva’s only friend, is such a sweet and gentle soul who would do anything for Alva, including helping her run away to a better life. Garrat, the miller’s son is also a strong character, despite having a despicable father. I loved how all three of them pulled together to help save everyone.

I don’t want to say too much about the story, but this is one about monsters both human and otherwise. The loch has its secrets, most of which Alva’s father has kept to himself, but there are other dangers around Alva and the village that shuns her and her father. It is a compelling read that will keep you up turning the pages until that very devastating ending.

Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards

Publication Date: October 6, 2020

I have not read any other books by this author, but I will certainly keep them in mind the next time I am in the mood for a suspense thriller. This one certainly kept me on the edge and wondering who the stalker is. The author certainly keeps you guessing and not trusting anyone just like Mira, until the final moment. The premise of course is a bit much, who these days would take the offer of a ride from a stranger, but it is set up well, with Mira and Harper meeting on the plane and getting along. I could see someone making that wrong decision within the circumstances.

Poor Mira, she is such a lost soul. She has had a tough year with her aunt, who she was close to, dying and her mom having a hard time coping with it. But she is resilient and stronger than she thinks, and observant of the others in the car. Her observations of all of the other kids in the car are what keeps you guessing, just as much as she does about what is really going on. Both of the boys in the car, Josh and Brecken, both at times can be pleasant and nice but at others mean and menacing. Harper, who was the first to offer Mira the ride home also seems cool and composed most of the time, but also unhinged at other times. Kayla was weird to be sure, but also disturbing in her actions and moods. Which of them was trying to prevent them all from getting home?

Loved the whole snowstorm scenario, and all of the wrong decisions that everyone in that car makes. It really was hard to tell who was pulling the strings to get Mira alone to spring their trap. I also liked that I was as equally suspicious of the girls as well as the boys, which made it all that more intriguing to the end.

The next time you are looking for a book with lots of suspense and stories that will keep wanting more, you should consider one of these two. They are both well written with great characters and stories that will keep you turning the pages until the end.

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