Bad Witch Burning, By Jessica Lewis ~ 5.0 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s/Delacorte Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: August 24th, 2021

336 Pages

Synopsis: For fans of “Us” and “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” comes a witchy story full of black girl magic as one girl’s dark ability to summon the dead offers her a chance at a new life, while revealing to her and even darker future.

Katrell doesn’t mind talking to the dead; she just wishes it made more money. Clients pay her to talk to their deceased loved ones, but it isn’t enough to support her unemployed mother and Mom’s deadbeat boyfriend of-the-week. Things get worse when a ghost warns her to stop the summonings or she’ll “burn everything down.” Katrell is willing to call them on their bluff, though. She has no choice. What do ghosts know about eating peanut butter for dinner?

However, when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this new lucrative business go.

But magic doesn’t come for free, and soon dark forces are closing in on Katrell. The further she goes, the more she risks the lives of not only herself, but those she loves. Katrell faces a dark choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late. (Goodreads)

For me personally, Bad Witch Burning was a difficult read. As you can tell from the 5 stars I’ve given it, it’s not because I think it’s a badly written story. No, it’s because it’s so on point in regards to living with a toxic parent, something author, Jessica Lewis sadly experienced herself. Without going into details, I too am a survivor of a childhood filled with abuse, although my background was white and middle class, rather than black and poverty stricken. Despite the differences in race and socioeconomic background, I strongly connected with Katrell and her complicated feelings toward her mother. She makes many terrible decisions, but every one of them can be laid at the feet of her horrendous home life and her desperation to escape. Her anger, bitterness, loneliness, and anguish are so intense they pulsate off the pages, and what she goes through is utterly heart wrenching. I confess to tearing up more then once. Mixed in with the darker real life themes of child abuse and neglect, is this incredible supernatural mythology which reminded me at first a little of The Monkey’s Paw, before taking a truly unique turn which had me worrying how Katrell was going to survive. Lest you think it is all doom and gloom, it’s not. There are moments of bright spots in the forms of Katrell’s loyal best friend Will and her adoptive parents who do their best to help, and Katrell’s caring guidance counselor, Mike. And without giving any spoilers, the book ends on a hopeful note. Because of the graphic abuse scenes, certain readers may have a tough time reading Bad Witch Burning, but if you’re looking for a vulnerable yet fiercely courageous protagonist to root for in a story that will suck you in from the first page, I highly recommend you give this a try. I guarantee it’s a book you won’t soon forget.

The Last Post?

Many of you know Sue Vincent as a gifted writer and kind and caring fellow blogger. Yesterday she published what may be her final post as she comes to the end of her battle with cancer. Please click on the link to her post and join me in saying farewell to this courageous and inspirational lady.

The Silent Eye

This may be the final post that I get chance to write for the Silent Eye… that decision has been taken out of my hands. I spent much of last week in hospital, having, as many of you know, been diagnosed with incurable small cell lung cancer last September. It has been an interesting and informative journey on so many levels as familiar things have been stripped away and a gift of love left in its place… rather like the tooth fairy leaving something of real value in place of a discarded incisor.

First to go was the illusion of near-immortality that gets us through life, one way or another. We know there is a certain inevitability about life leading to death, but we tend not to apply it to ourselves until we are forced to pay attention. Dealing with the situation that made me sit up and listen meant…

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You’ll Thank Me ForThis, By Nina Siegal ~ 4.0 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: March 23rd, 2021

256 Pages

Synopsis: A pulse-pounding psychological thriller based on the popular Dutch tradition of blindfolding teens and pre-teens and dropping them in the middle of a forest—and what happens when it goes horribly wrong.

Twelve-year-old Karin is blindfolded and dropped into the Hoge Veluwe National Forest with three other children. With nothing but a few basic supplies and emergency food, the children are tasked with working together to navigate one of the Netherlands’ most beautiful and wild locations and return to where their families are anxiously waiting.

Karin quickly finds herself at odds with two of the older teens, and suddenly looks up to see that the other children have vanished. As Karin struggles against the elements to find her way back, she soon realizes that something far more sinister lurks in the woods.

Grace, Karin’s mother,and an American married to a Dutch husband, has been nervous about this practice from the start. At first she tells herself that the space is good for her daughter, but as the hours begin to tick by and the children fail to arrive at their designated campsite, she becomes certain that something has gone horribly wrong.

As Karin fights for survival, and Grace hastens to find her daughter, the night culminates in the reveal of a deadly secret—and a shocking confrontation—that will push each of them to her edge. (Goodreads)

As you can see in the synopsis, You’ll Thank Me Later is based on the Dutch tradition of “dropping,” in which groups of pre-teens are left in the woods, where they have to work together to find their way out. Here’s a 2019 New York Times article which tells more about it.


Admittedly my first reaction was: “Are they crazy? Oh my God! How can they blindfold their babies and desert them in the woods? What kind of horrible parents would do that?” However, that reaction is coming from my deep belief in Murphy’s Law, and the pretty much irrefutable fact that if anything can go wrong, it will. Then I started reading more about it and learned that the UK has a right of passage called the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and even the Boy Scouts of America have sponsored similar outings. And I do understand the purpose behind these: Cooperation, self reliance, etc.

After finishing this book though, I say again Murphy’s Law people! The story itself is a quick one at a little over 256 pages. I liked the main characters Karin and her mother, Grace, and the chapters alternate between the two of them. The mystery certainly kept me guessing almost right up until the end. My biggest issue concerns the dialogue which often comes across as stilted and rather awkward, which is surprising as the author is American. Overall though, I found You’ll Thank Me For This an entertaining read that I easily finished in under two hours.

The United States vs Billie Holiday

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Tomorrow, the much buzzed about The United States vs Billie Holiday, starring Andra Day, is dropping on Hulu here in the U.S. and it’ll be on Sky Cinema in the UK on Saturday. Here’s the trailer:

And here are both Bille Holiday and Andra Day singing the heart wrenching anti-lynching song, Strange Fruit.

The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep (Jane Anonymous #2), By Laurie Faria Stolarz ~ 4.0 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martins Press/Wednesday Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: March 16th, 2021

336 Pages

Synopsis: Four days…

Trapped in a well, surrounded by dirt, scratching at the walls, trying to find a way out. Four days of a thirst so strong, that when it finally rains, I drink as much as possible from the dripping walls, not even caring how much dirt comes with it.

Six months…

Since my escape. Since no on believed I was taken to begin with—from my own bed, after a party, when no one else was home…Six months of trying to find answers and being told instead that I made the whole incident up.

One month…

Since I logged on to the Jane Anonymous site for the first time and found a community of survivors who listen without judgement, provide advice, and console each other when needed. A month of chatting with a survivor whose story eerily mirrors my own: a girl who’s been receiving triggering clues, just like me, and who could help me find the answers I’m looking for.

Three days…

Since she mysteriously disappears, and since I’m forced to ask the questions: will my chance to find out what happened to me vanish with her? And will I be next?

The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep has a few issues, but somehow still wound up a winner for me. The problems included: underdeveloped secondary characters, police being portrayed in a negative light (which happens far too often in YA novels), certain character’s actions not making sense, and a few predictable elements. However, what saved this for me was Terra, who I really connected with despite some of her appalling decision making. She’s an unreliable narrator who tells her story from the past when she was taken, as well as the present. To say my heart broke for her, doesn’t quite describe my feelings. I was infuriated by the callous and unfeeling way she was treated by her aunt, the police, former friends, and even her therapist, all who decided she made up this story about being taken to cope with an earlier trauma. Terra finds comfort in the online chat rooms of Jane Anonymous which was created as a safe space for victims of similar crimes. I felt the dialogue between the girls in the forum did slow things down a little, but there was also a direct tie-in from the previous book, so this is a minor complaint. Terra is so lost and confused for the majority of the story that it was a relief when a love interest named Garrett was introduced, who actually supported her and was determined to discover what actually happened. This poor girl desperately needed someone in her corner and Garrett filled that purpose. The ending took a truly bizarre twist, which I both liked and disliked. It came out of nowhere, yet was creative and memorable. Overall, while I don’t think The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep is as tightly written as Jane Anonymous, thanks to a strongly written and sympathetic main character, I was engrossed from the first chapter. I believe fans of the previous book will enjoy this, and you needn’t have read Jane Anonymous, to read this as the characters are new here.