Note to Readers

Roundtable Reviews receives many galley and ARC copies for review. Please understand that the finished copy may differ from the copies we have reviewed.

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or galley copy of the book. I have no material connection to the publisher, agent, or author whose book/s I am reviewing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

No More Tantrums by Maria van Lieshout

Genre: Children's Picture Book
Publisher: Chronicle Kids
Release Date: November 7, 2017


Babies have tantrums. Big kids don't.

That's the message in this latest Big Kid Power book. In No More Tantrums, a growing girl shows everyone that crying, kicking your feet, and throwing a tantrum never gets you what you want.

The print in No More Tantrums is big and easy to read, which makes it an excellent choice for a child who is learning to read. Illustrations are also catchy, done completely in white, black, brown, and orange. If you're teaching a child colors, this book isn't overwhelming with a huge array of colors. It's just artistic and pleasing.

If you're looking for an easy-to-read book with a strong message, don't miss this one.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Millard Salter's Last Day by Jacob M. Appel

Setting: New York City
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: November 7, 2017



Here's a tough book to review. I have to focus on the book itself and avoid spoilers.

Doctor Millard Salter's celebrating his birthday in a most unusual fashion. He plans to kill himself when he's still in his prime. He's had decades of loss and love, success and failure, and now he wants to end things before he faces the changes of being a frail, sick old man.

Before he commits that final act, however, he plans to reconnect with his family one more time. He wants to get the message to his 43-year-old son that he needs to find his place in the world. He wants to visit the grave of his second wife. He even surprises himself by going to see his wife for the first time in more than two decades.

Between a lynx on the loose in the building where he practices, co-workers looking for their own gains, and the surprises that seem to happen in NYC, Millard's final day is truly unexpected in many ways.

Strengths and Weaknesses


Some of the aspects in this story dragged on for me. I found myself too eager to skip sections. Millard Salter's Last Day didn't hook me as I thought it would. I became more interested in the office finding the lynx than the rest of the meandering plot. I also wanted more of Lysander, Millard's son. I felt for that guy.

The writing itself is very detailed. If I liked the characters, I would have loved the book. As was, Lysander was really the only one I felt for, and he didn't appear that often.

RTR's Bottom Line


I've never read one of Appel's novels. I've heard plenty about him. But, based on this book, I can't say I ended up that eager to seek out his other books. It ended up being a book I would have been okay not reading.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wanted: Mom for Christmas (A Cates Brothers Book) by Lee Kilraine

Setting: Climax, North Carolina
Genre: Holiday Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Release Date: November 7, 2017


Since his wife's death, Hawk Savage has done a great job raising his son and daughter. His job on the police force hasn't interfered much. His biggest struggle is taking his 10-year-old daughter bra shopping, so things aren't too bad.

Professional volleyball star Nora Joy's not having the best of weeks. She catches her boyfriend in bed with her best friend and volleyball partner. She goes to her mom, who happens to also be her manager, looking for some sympathy, only to learn her mom has spent all of Nora's money, driven up tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and is going to leave her to manage her former best friend.

Nora decides it's time to head out and find something new. A job for a rent-a-mom catches her eye. She takes it and heads back to the town she left as a teen. It's in Climax, North Carolina, that teenaged Nora also had to leave behind the first boy she ever loved.

Upon arriving at her new boss's house, she finds out that her past love happens to be that single dad in need of a rent-a-mom. Could this be the second chance for both of them to find the happiness they deserve?

Strengths and Weaknesses


Wanted: Mom for Christmas isn't long, but it hits all the marks. It's touching, emotional, and full of Christmas cheer. There isn't a ton of conflict like some romances focus on, and I liked that break. I liked watching the characters get to know each other, figure out where things could head, and look back at the past with joy and not anger or annoyance. It was refreshing.

RTR's Bottom Line


A sweet, touching holiday romance was just what I needed after a stressful day. Wanted: Mom for Christmas hit all the marks. The romance was passionate, the kids were adorable, and it didn't take long to read. This was a win with me.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Right Where We Belong by Brenda Novak

Setting: Silver Springs, CA
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: October 31, 2017



Savanna Gray is going from loving wife and mom to single mom. Her husband's in prison for attacking three women, and she's shocked and trying to shelter her children from their dad's crimes. It's not easy in a town where everyone is blaming her for not knowing how evil he was.

Savanna packs all that she can carry, drains her money from their accounts, and heads to the rundown house her family owns. It's in need of a lot of TLC, but Savanna has no other option.

Abused and abandoned as a child, Gavin Turner spent years in a foster home that was not much better. It wasn't until he entered the New Horizons Boys Ranch that Gavin found what it really meant to be loved. When he gains a new neighbor, he senses that she's in need of her own helping hand.

It doesn't take long before sparks fly. Gavin has his own issues that keep him from wanting to commit to anything more than a brief fling. After years of being married to a man she didn't really know, Savanna is not willing to enter into a new romance either. Fighting their growing attraction may be harder than they imagined.

Strengths and Weaknesses


I truly love Brenda Novak's writing. Her settings come to life and make you want to be part of them. Her characters are so genuine and enjoyable. I found myself rooting for this couple, and I couldn't wait to see how things played out.

Right Where We Belong really tugged at the heart. I got where Savanna's insecurities stemmed from, but I was eager to see her realize that her husband was slimy. There's a bit of a mystery aspect in terms of his crimes, too, which also drew me into the story. Read it and you'll see what I mean.

RTR's Bottom Line


Right Where We Belong is another addition to the Silver Springs series. If you've missed the others, it really doesn't matter. They're all great, but you won't miss pertinent plot points by not having read them.

This is the type of book you want to save for the beach, a rainy day curled up inside, or on your lounge chair. Once you start, you won't want to put it down.








Monday, October 23, 2017

Losing Leah Holloway by Lisa Regan

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: October 17, 2017



Claire Fletcher's been free of a pedophile's hands for years now, but the memories and nightmares still linger. She's out fishing with her sister and dog when they see a vehicle crash through a bridge guardrail and plummet into the river below.

Not about to sit back, Claire gets out to the vehicle and spies children and the driver. She manages to smash open the sunroof, but the driver, a woman, refuses to be rescued. Claire cannot figure out why.

This brings Claire back into the world of Detective Connor Parks. Claire broke things off, but they clearly have feelings for each other still. Claire doesn't want to be on the news and the focus of media attention again. Connor needs answers. Not only is the force busy trying to find a serial killer, but now they have to figure out why a supposedly sane loving mom would suddenly try to kill her children and herself.

Strengths and Weaknesses


Losing Leah Holloway takes you on quite the journey. There are a good number of twists to keep you guessing. Plus, the mystery is layered. You have the serial killer. There's Claire's trying to get past her past and move on with her future. There's also Leah's case. Something has to have happened to make this mom snap.

I found myself hooked, yet it never came off as a story I could rush. I had to savor each chapter and try to see if I could guess where things were leading. It took a while, but I started to get it. Once that happened, there was the excitement of seeing if the police could outsmart the killer.

RTR's Bottom Line


I find that the Thomas & Mercer line is offering some really great psychological suspense/mystery books. I worried that Losing Leah Holloway might be a struggle since it's the second book in a series, but I didn't need to. This book is a stand-alone mystery and one that will keep you guessing.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Christmas Affair by Jodi Thomas

Setting: Texas
Genre: A Holiday Romance Novella
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: October 1, 2017



After an accident left her blind, Maria's turned her skills as a chef into a thriving jam/jelly making business. She's decided she's had enough of waiting and makes her move. She wants Wes, the local shop owner, to treat her to a Christmas affair. No strings attached, just a sizzling holiday affair.

Wes is shocked and pleased when Maria confronts him. There's one problem. He's in love with her, and a holiday fling is not enough. He wants to make things between them last forever.

Young Travis is moving into town to be cared for by three elderly uncles he doesn't know. He's only sticking around long enough to get his license and then he plans to leave. Could life in this small community change his mind?

Strengths and Weaknesses


I'm not really familiar with the Ransom Canyon series. I've read three from the series, but none of the characters I really remember from those books appeared in A Christmas Affair. Yancy will always been my favorite in this series.

The romance between Wes and Maria seemed so rushed. She basically kisses him in the first few pages, announces her plan, and then you're rushed to the conclusion that bounces between Wes's plans and Travis's coming of age. It lacked the depth I like with tension building up the relationship.

I loved Travis's character and felt he stole the show. The romance between Maria and Wes was less important to me than seeing Travis turn his life around. He became the "Yancy" character for me.

RTR's Bottom Line


A Christmas Affair is very short at around 90 pages. The brevity made everything very short and sweet, and there were times I wished there had been more depth, especially where Travis is involved. It's enjoyable, but not a book I'd want to buy for my keeper shelf given how short it really was.



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

Genre: Psychological Suspense
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer
Release Date: October 1, 2017



Ella Longfield's on a train when she spies some men boarding. It's their generic black backpacks that draw her attention. When she hears them chatting up some innocent young women who are heading into New York City to catch a show, she pays a little more attention. It's when the men say they've just been released from prison that they gain her full attention.

As a mom, Ella's instincts are to find out who the girls are and tell their parents. She's just not sure how to find their identities. When she overhears one of the girls having sex with one of the guys in the train's bathroom, she realizes they may not be the innocents she thought they were and ends up never saying a thing.

A day later, Ella sees one of the girl's pictures on the news. Anna Ballard vanished overnight. Ella tells police everything she saw, but there's no trace.

A year passes. Ella's getting threatening postcards in the mail. Anna's still never been found, and police hope an anniversary story may be what it takes to uncover new clues. With Ella's threats and discoveries of secrets that others have been keeping, the truth may soon unravel.

Strengths and Weaknesses


I'm a fan of psychological suspense/thriller novels, so it's not surprising that I Am Watching You grabbed my attention. The story is told through multiple viewpoints. You have Ella who regrets her actions and is scared for her family's safety. You have the detectives and a PI who are trying to solve the case. You have Anna's best friend, who is hiding something. There's a secret watcher. There's also Anna's dad, who is also hiding something. Keeping up with the characters is easier than it may seem at first. Every chapter makes it clear who's telling the story.

Now, the secret watcher's chapters bored me. I didn't find they did much in terms of building suspense. I ended up rushing them because I preferred Ella.

My issue with the book became the ending. When the truth is revealed, I found myself thinking that was a little too quick and easy considering the police took over a year to get to that point. How could they not have looked at that angle from the start?


RTR's Bottom Line


I Am Watching You is an okay read. It ended up being enjoyable for what it was, but it wasn't a book I'd want for my keeper shelf. It ends up being the kind of book I'd like if I'd found it at a book sale, but if I paid full price, I know I'd fell a bit disappointed.




Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant

Setting: Texas
Genre: Holiday Romance
Publisher: St. Martins Paperbacks
Release Date: October 31, 2017



Every day is a bit of a struggle for Abby Harper. Her mom walked on her and her two younger brothers when she was just 18. All she left were papers handing over guardianship to Abby. Fresh out of high school, Abby became an instant single mom in a matter of hours.

When she gets a call that one of her brothers has been arrested for stealing cattle from the powerful East family, Abby is devastated. She does her best to offer to repay the loss of their cattle, but she doesn't have the hundreds of thousands that are needed. What Clayton offers instead may be the one thing she needs to turn her family's lives around.

Clayton East is a former SEAL who's seen way too much death. He never wanted to return to the family ranch, but he can't ignore his mother's cries. His dad's had a mini-stroke and the ranch is in financial ruin. He returns home to get everything resolved before he leaves.

When Clayton learns of Abby's situation, he strikes a deal with her brother. Her brother will come to the ranch after school and on weekends to work off the amount of money that they lost. He soon finds himself falling for Abby and her brothers. The cowboy that never wanted to return home may have found the best reason to stay.

Strengths and Weaknesses


You have a few things going on in The Christmas Cowboy Hero (Heart of Texas). There's the mystery behind the cattle thefts, the missing money, and Clayton's brother's death. More importantly, there's the romance between Abby and Clayton and her determination to be the best possible mother to her younger brothers. The family ties in this book create many emotional scenes.

While there is a bit going on, nothing feels rushed. The story flowed smoothly from start to finish and had me reading well into the night.

RTR's Bottom Line


The Christmas Cowboy Hero (Heart of Texas) is an emotional, heated romance that had me hooked. I felt for Abby and loved the chemistry between the pair. While it's a holiday romance, Christmas did take backstage to the mystery involving the cattle theft. The mystery is there, but it also never overshadows the romance.

Pick this one up if you want a heated romance that leaves you feeling warm and cozy. It's a great romance for any time of the year.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Hope at Christmas by Nancy Naigle

Setting: Hopewell, North Carolina
Genre: Holiday Romance
Publisher: St. Martins Griffin
Release Date: October 10, 2017



For Sydney Ragsdale, this Christmas is shaping up to be a difficult one. Valentine's Day came and went with her favorite chocolates and a note from her husband that he'd met someone else and wanted a divorce. Sydney refuses to have him controlling her finances, so she packs up their 10-year-old daughter and moves to her grandparent's farmhouse in Hopewell, North Carolina. There, she gets a temporary position working in the bookstore she cherished as a child.

Kevin MacAlea, Mac for short, has been a single parent since his wife walked out on him and their son. She never looked back. Mac's determined to make sure the boy knows how much he's loved. As the town's mysterious Santa, Mac brings Christmas to life. When a young girl sits on his lap and tells him how she doesn't want her mom to be sad anymore, he makes it his goal to make sure Sydney knows she has friends in town. Little does he know the magic of the holiday may open his heart to more than friendship.

Strengths and Weaknesses


There's a lot that happens in Hope at Christmas. Therefore, I'd call this a multi-layered read. You have Sydney and her daughter. They're both handling the emotions of the divorce, moving to a new town, and settling into an older farmhouse. You have Mac who is doing everything possible to be the best single parent possible. There's Bea who knows she's getting older and ready to retire, but her passion for her bookstore has her longing for someone who will take over.

While there are a few things going on, the book is cohesive and doesn't jump around and lose the reader. I found myself involved deeply in each character and hoping for that magical happily-ever-after moment that comes with most romance novels.

RTR's Bottom Line


Of all the holiday romances I've read this year, I think I liked this one the most. It is a romance, but it's equal parts women's fiction. It didn't rush into the romance. Instead, it built up the relationships between Sydney and the rest of the small town. I felt like part of the town and loved getting to know the characters. Hope at Christmas was a win for me.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Murder Over Mochas: A Java Jive Mystery by Caroline Fardig

Setting: Nashville, TN
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: October 24, 2017



Now that she's a private investigator, Juliet Langley tries to leave murder investigations to the murder investigators in Nashville. This time it's tough. Juliet and her boss and best friend, Pete, are prime suspects. She doesn't believe the police are doing enough to investigate the crime. The lead detective is determined to pin the murder on her.

You may be wondering why Juliet and Pete are the prime suspects. This time, the victim is Juliet's swindling thief of an ex-fiance. He dropped dead of a what appears to be a poisoning in Java Jive.

Juliet and Pete dive into an investigation together in order to clear their names. The problem is that the more they investigate, the more it appears that the real killer isn't going to let them uncover the truth.

Strengths and Weaknesses


I've been a fan of cozy mysteries for years. Diane Mott Davidson kicked things off, and I've followed many series over the years. I've come to adore Caroline Fardig's A Java Jive Mystery series. Murder Over Mochas is especially intriguing as you get to see more of the notorious Scott, for as long as he lasts.

There's always just enough action, a few twists, and settings that draw me in. I have been in Juliet's corner from the start. As she's met potential love interests, I've grown to like them very much, too. This book took a bit of a step away from her work as a PI, but the coffee shop details were still there and made me wish I was there.

RTR's Bottom Line


Buy it. If you're new to the series start at the beginning and catch up. I love how the romances in this book have taken unexpected turns. While other series seem to drag things out, I'm always pleasantly surprised by the way romances work out in this series. Murder Over Mochas is another satisfying entry in this delightful series.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Spinster Wife by Christina McKenna

Setting: Northern Ireland
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Publisher: Lake Union
Release Date: October 12, 2017



Rita-Mae's reached the last straw with her husband. She's had enough and wants out before he kills her. When she spies an ad for a rental cottage in a remote village in Northern Ireland, she feels it's the perfect time to escape.

Dorrie wakes up on a bed and breakfast with no idea how she got there or where she is. She struggles to find any clues that might help her remember more than snippets of her past.

There's also Bram, Rita-Mae's landlord. He lives under the shadow of his domineering mother. He'd love nothing more but to find his soulmate, but so far it's all been a wash. Rita-Mae may be secretive, but she's caught his eye.

Both women have no idea who to trust as they start new lives. Rita-Mae has other looming troubles as it appears a stalker is after her and determined to make her life a living hell. Is Bram someone she can trust or not? Will they be able to find peace in their temporary new homes or are they doomed to misery?

Strengths  and Weaknesses

There was a lot going on in The Spinster Wife. You have Rita-Mae, a woman whose cruel husband forced her to flee. There's Dorrie, a woman who has no idea who she is or how she got there. There's the cottage where Rita-Mae moves to that seems to have its own secrets. Then, there's Rita-Mae's landlord who comes off as creepy one minute and protective and sweet the next. Those all work together to create a puzzling mystery.

The issue is that the story flipped between people so often that I found it distracting. Things would be heating up with one character's story and suddenly you're into another location and mysterious aspect. I had a hard time adjusting to the switches and grew tired of them.

RTR's Bottom Line

While I loved the premise and intrigue found within The Spinster Wife, the story dragged at times. I found it too easy to lose focus and not want to continue. Many times, this was the direct result of the switches between the women and the landlord that rents to one of the women.

This is one of those books where I wanted to keep reading to find out what was really going on. Getting there was harder than I wish it had been.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Halloween Carnival Vol. 1 Edited by Brian James Freeman

Genre: Horror Anthology
Publisher: Hydra
Release Date: October 3, 2017



Loved, loved, loved this anthology of short and not always so sweet horror stories. Here's the breakdown of what's within the pages of Halloween Carnival Volume 1.

1. Robert McCammon's Strange Candy - Hidden in the bottom of their daughter's trick-or-treat bag is an odd skeletal hand-shaped candy. It's not wrapped, so there's no way anyone will eat it, or will someone take the chance that it's just a normal candy?

2. Kevin Lucia's The Race of Achilles - It all starts with a new priest hearing a confession. Nothing is really what it seems with this returning visitor.

3. John R. Little's Demon Air - One young woman's flight turns out to be nothing as she would imagine on Halloween eve.

4. Lisa Morton's La Hacienda de la Muertos - Trick McGrew has the chance to be a film star again. He needs the money, but he never imagines to be filming a horror movie in a place where an urban legend may be more than a legend.

5. Mark Allan Gunnell's #MakeHalloweenScaryAgain - Liking and retweeting may be all the rage, but in one small town, an author's posts go viral in a very terrifying and real way.


Strengths and Weaknesses


Let's start with my favorite in the collection. Strange Candy isn't as horrific as it is emotionally appealing. It's a spooky story, but it's also one where I felt myself become attached and had to keep reading. I loved that. I think my second favorite is the longer, creepy #MakeHalloweenScaryAgain, that one had a bit of a Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer feel to it that I loved. I noted the author's name cause he's someone I want to watch.

I say "I think" because the other three are really good. I'd almost say that while Strange Candy was my favorite, the others pretty much tied for second.

 Lisa Morton's story was creepy, but I knew where it was going. That's the only reason I won't put that in my favorites. The Race of Achilles was emotional, spooky, and touched this reader's heart. Finally, Demon Air was short, sweet, and frightening. All are crafted well and held my attention from start to finish.

RTR's Bottom Line


Buy Halloween Carnival Volume 1 now. It's a creepy collection of Halloween themed stories that you shouldn't miss.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins

Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Swerve
Release Date: October 3, 2017



When her close friend is dying shortly after giving birth, Merry Parks agrees to track down the woman's husband and present his daughter to him. Doing so will bring Merry back to the castle of a man she left five years ago.

Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, never understood why Merry left him. He loved her and knows she loved him. When she shows up with an infant, he's stunned his cousin would abandon a new wife. He agrees to help Merry unite the newborn with his cousin. It means she has to return to his castle. When snow strands her in his castle for a week, he's determined to get to the bottom of her leaving him and maybe convince her to give their love a second chance.

Strengths and Weaknesses


This is a holiday romance, though it's subtle enough that I think it's simply a good read at any time of the year. I wasn't fond of a couple characters. One I felt got off a little too easily and that bugged me. The writing, however, was pretty convincing to make me dislike these characters so much!

The romance between Alex and Merry is enjoyable. It has steamy moments, but as this is a novella, it builds quickly and never felt rushed. I appreciate having a novella not feel rushed.

RTR's Bottom Line

With This Christmas Ring is a festive, romantic Christmas tale of true love. It's tender and emotional, which made it the perfect read on a week that's been, for lack of sugar coating anything, miserable on a national and personal front.




Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Christmas in Kilts: A Highland Holiday Box Set by Various Authors

Setting: Scotland
Genre: Historical Romance Novellas
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: October 31, 2017




Christmas in Kilts is a five-novella collection of historical holiday romances. Here's the breakdown.

A Highlander's Hope by Terri Brisbin

With this novella, you have a romance where a laird's dream girl is not a choice society will approve of. Iain MacKillop's wife died, and there's a push to get him to marry again. The problem is that the woman he most desires is Robena MacKendimen, the village harlot. She sleeps with many men for money, including Iain, and that makes her a totally wrong choice.

A Highland Christmas Wager by Lecia Cornwall

She made a huge mistake sleeping with Magnus MacVane when she was 18. In her defense, she had no idea he was looking for a conquest before he married. Meggie MacLeod is now forced to take shelter in his castle. Her grandmother needs to be safe and that's of the utmost importance. Soon, Magnus and two of his other male guests have a bet in place. Whoever gets Meggie to kiss them first wins the chance to ask for her hand in marriage. Magnus is determined to win, but he has some fierce competition.

A Scot for Christmas by Bronwen Evans

Dougray, the Earl of Lorne, is mourning his wife's death. It's been six years and he needs to marry Fiona Mackenzie, even if she doesn't appeal to him. Yet, when Lady Emma appears at his home, he finds himself experience feelings he never thought he'd feel again. His house party may be about to change his entire future.

Leftover Mistletoe by Lavinia Kent

Emma Spencer is excited for Christmas. While her trip to her uncle's estate was delayed by weather, that seems to be the least of her issues right now. Some man is taking up too much room in the coach she's using to get to her uncle's. James Barran is said man. He's on his way to Glasgow to stop a wedding. Things don't go as planned for either and they find themselves stranded with each other for company.

Sweet Home Highlands by May McGoldrick

Captain Gregory Pennington is set to escort a family to Baronsford. He's eager to start a new life out of the corps. He's even thinking of leaving Scotland and starting his new life across the ocean in Boston. Fie and Ella, an aunt with her young niece, interrupt his plans when the young girl begs her aunt to ask her to ask the captain to marry her.

Strengths and Weaknesses


Each story is short and moves quickly from opening to closing line. Sometimes, the story feels complete without having been rushed. Other times, I found the ending seemed a little rushed. That happens with novellas though.

Sweet Home Highlands and A Highlander's Hope were my favorites. Both drew me in and held my attention from start to finish. The others, while good, didn't grip me to the same degree.

RTR's Bottom Line


If you love holiday romances and historical settings, Christmas in Kilts is a winner!







Monday, October 2, 2017

The Devils You Know by M.C. Atwood

Setting: Wisconsin
Genre: Teen Horror
Publisher: Soho Teen
Release Date: October 3, 2017



To avoid final exams, seniors at Red River High are given the choice of going on a field trip to the Boulder House. Legend has it that the home's original owner cursed the property. Some enter and never return.

Five of the teens who opt to go on the trip go for reasons beyond skipping exams. Ashley, Dylan, Gretchen, Paul, and Violet, find themselves trapped in the house and facing horrifying battles they never imagined. They'll have to team up, which isn't easy when you don't even like each other and try to defeat the evil within, if that's even possible.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The pacing of The Devils You Know never slowed. I did find the glimpses into the Maxwell Cartwright, Jr.'s house to be a litte jarring. I didn't need the break. I ended up racing over those to get back to the teens.

The horror aspect did a good job. I don't like clowns. I haven't liked clowns since I was a kid. Dolls to me are worse. Detailed narrative involving dolls and other items turning their heads and following the teens around, if not full out attacking them, definitely brought in that creep factor I look for in a horror novel.

The teens - maybe it's where I live - but some of their internal conflicts didn't seem authentic. I don't want to give away spoilers, but some of the things that made them "freaks" in their peers' eyes are openly accepted here. I had a hard time with those details for that reason. It could be Wisconsin is different. I'm not sure.

RTR's Bottom Line


I've read plenty of creepy books over the years. Dolls and clowns top my list of objects with a major creep factor. For that reason, The Devils You Know didn't disappoint.