My name is Kylie Sebert. I'm a native of Spirit Lake and currently living in the literary hub of Portland, Maine! I have Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, with an emphasis in fiction, and now hope to begin a novel writing career. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook as @notsotwentysomething. As with most writers, one of my passions is discovering and reading great books. I hope my reviews will spark an excitement for literature in people around the Great Lakes area!
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
(Early Release Review-hits shelves June 30th)
My enthusiasm for Riley Sager is definitely not unique in the thriller-loving world, but there’s a good reason for that. Home Before Dark just further proves that he is a thriller crafting genius!
Home Before Dark follows Maggie as she returns to Baneberry Hall, the allegedly haunted mansion made famous by her father’s memoir. The book talks about their horrific experience living there for just 20 days when she was a child. This horror memoir becomes a bestseller and Maggie is forced to deal with the notoriety that comes with it as she grows up. She also doesn’t believe a word of the book. We pick up just after her father has died, and she had inherited the estate. She returns seeking answers that her parents never gave her, why did they really flee from the house and never return? What follows alternates between the memoir and Maggie’s current experiences. As she uncovers more about the dark history of the house, she starts experiencing strange things that line up with her father’s story. It gets increasingly terrifying and starts to feel like maybe she was wrong to doubt her father’s words.
There are so many interesting elements of Home Before Dark that make it stand out. There’s a book within a book, House of Horrors told from her father’s perspective in the past, so we see Maggie’s childhood as we follow her through her current story. They link up and interweave seamlessly. There’s the personification of the house, Baneberry Hall, very much its own character. There’s the deeper history of the estate and the many tragedies that have taken place. There’s also this ominous doubt, you’re never quite certain who is telling the whole truth. It’s atmospheric, spooky and full of surprises.
Did I mention this book is exceptionally creepy? It’s a haunted house in the classic sense. Edgar Allen Poe crossed with Stephen King with a dash of Hitchcock. I was terrified, losing sleep, hiding from the shadows. Scare-O-Meter 10/10! It releases on June 30th and every thriller or ghost story lover should add this to their list!
The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
I’m a big audiobook fan, especially when the narration is excellent. I was immediately drawn into this story when I started the audio version. It brought back instant memories of the experience I had listening to Abby Jimenez’s The Friend Zone. I listened to it in one day because I couldn’t get enough of the characters!
This book is an absolute gem! I’m a huge music lover. No matter what I’m doing, writing, reading, working out, there is always music involved. Each chapter of this book starts with a song in the playlist that fits the mood of the chapter. The only thing I missed with the audiobook version, is listening to each song as I went through. It’s such a unique feature of the book.
While this is a sequel, it can be read as a stand-alone novel, as well. It begins two years after Sloan lost her fiancé, and she’s still mourning him/not fully living her life. Then one day, a dog named Tucker changes everything for her. She finds him and brings him home to figure out how to get in touch with his owner. She leaves the owner, Jason, messages for two weeks, then decides Tucker is hers to keep especially because he has gotten her back into a healthy routine.
Jason has been traveling in Australia and when he receives the messages, he wants Tucker back. They communicate back and forth, and as they get to know each other, the conversations turn flirtatious. Sloan begins to wonder if Jason is just what she needs…
Jimenez delivers a perfect second novel in The Happy Ever After Playlist. Her characters remain witty and playful. The dialogue is relatable and hilarious. There are some really heavy topics, as well, and the reader is so connected with these characters, it’s very emotional. You ride out the highs and lows with Jason and Sloan. It’s a gorgeous piece of writing that will whisk you all around the world.