4 star

Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?



This was another one that was recommended by one of my friends who shares the same tastes as me. I believe she mentioned that there were some mixed reviews about this book, but I personally found that it was pretty good! Overall quite plausible, and the story is very sad, and dark at times but not too overbearingly so. It was just the right amount of dark for a sad story, though I’ll get into a few more details later about that.

The Night Swim is a story that has a few elements to it. Our main protagonist, Rachel, is the latest hit in true crime podcasts, having unearthed decade-old cold cases successfully while podcasting about it. Her latest case takes place in the small town of Neapolis, where everyone knows everyone, and there is a rape trial going on. At the same time, a girl seeks Rachel’s help solving a desperate mystery from her past that was never solved. Rachel investigates both, and it becomes clear that the town hides many more secrets than it first shows, and Rachel wonders what will happen in the end at the trial and with this girl.

The characters in this book were pretty good. Nothing to really speak of in the character growth/development department though I think that can be rare for thriller/mystery novels. Essentially, most people are exactly how you’d expect them to be, and that paints the air of suspicion in a certain light and really frames the story. If people were changing all the time, it might be too hard to follow. This is one such novel where there are numerous characters from the past and present, and so most of them do remain static as the story progresses to reveal the ultimate truths. Of course, more and more is revealed about certain characters so they “grow” in that way.

The plot is fairly interesting. Yes, there is the classic protagonist butting her nose into the past and in the present to dig for her podcast, which is classic. But in my opinion that’s where the common tropes end. The use of the podcast is very interesting, and we really do get to listen (read) through each episode as she goes through the trial and addresses her readers. The implausibility here is probably attending a trial all day while recording a podcast in the evening, that sounds crazy. But it was cool to follow along with the podcast. While there were suspense elements (as to be expected in a mystery novel), the podcast really toned down a lot of the suspense, so if you’re looking for a true crime creepy mystery, this was totally not the vibe here.

The ending was overall good. Perhaps a little bit too convenient in how everything tied together, but I certainly didn’t hate it. In fact, as I was reading it, I was fairly happy nodding along to what was a very simplistic ending. However, upon further reflection I’m not sure it was really the best way to just have things work out, but again, it was far from “magically” working out so I’ll give it a pass there. I overall really enjoyed reading a book in this kind of format, and the tying together of two timelines (of different characters!) I felt was pretty well done.

Trigger warnings of course for rape and sexual assault, and some parts did get quite into the weeds (though nothing too graphic). I overall felt it was handled pretty well, the subject was quite objectively approached and really urged readers to think about the standards that are in the justice system. Delicately handled yet still got to the truth, I felt that the author could have pushed it even further, but I don’t have any qualms with how it was handled – I certainly felt frustrated for the victim!

Overall Recommendations

The Night Swim is a story of our protagonist making her true crime podcast, this time about a rape trial. At the same time, Rachel also researches into the past of this town in the cover-up of a murder 25 years past. As the trial drags on, the town (and her listeners) both get heated all around the subject of rape and the double standards it imposes. Follow along in this journey as the past and present collide, and the trial comes up to its spectacular finish. It isn’t the most suspenseful and thrilling novel, but it certainly executes its murder mystery element well. Hope you enjoy!

3 star, YA

Review: Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus

From the internationally bestselling author of Netflix’s hottest new show, One of Us is Lying, comes a new, page-turning thriller . . .

True crime can leave a false trail.


Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favourite teacher. The case was never solved, but she’s sure that the three kids who found Mr. Larkin’s body know more than they’re telling, especially her ex-best friend Tripp Talbot. He’s definitely hiding something.

When Brynn gets an internship working on a popular true-crime show, she decides to investigate what really happened that day in the woods. But the further she dives into the past, the more secrets she finds.

Four years ago someone got away with murder. Now it’s time to uncover the truth . . .



Overall Recommendation:

Nothing More to Tell is a solid enough standalone mystery – if you haven’t read any of Karen M. McManus’ other stories. The mystery itself was intriguing (death of a teacher *gasp*) but the pacing felt a little off as we focused more on Brynn and Tripp’s history and individual struggles. There was also nothing particularly outstanding about either protagonist. Ultimately, this is a fine mystery to read, relatively, but one that unfortunately is not super memorable.

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5 star, YA

ARC Review: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

Series: The Luminaries #1

From Susan Dennard, the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchlands series, comes a haunting and high-octane contemporary fantasy, about the magic it takes to face your fears in a nightmare-filled forest, and the mettle required to face the secrets hiding in the dark corners of your own family.

Hemlock Falls isn’t like other towns. You won’t find it on a map, your phone won’t work here, and the forest outside town might just kill you. 

Winnie Wednesday wants nothing more than to join the Luminaries, the ancient order that protects Winnie’s town—and the rest of humanity—from the monsters and nightmares that rise in the forest of Hemlock Falls every night. 

Ever since her father was exposed as a witch and a traitor, Winnie and her family have been shunned. But on her sixteenth birthday, she can take the deadly Luminary hunter trials and prove herself true and loyal—and restore her family’s good name. Or die trying.

But in order to survive, Winnie enlists the help of the one person who can help her train: Jay Friday, resident bad boy and Winnie’s ex-best friend. While Jay might be the most promising new hunter in Hemlock Falls, he also seems to know more about the nightmares of the forest than he should. Together, he and Winnie will discover a danger lurking in the forest no one in Hemlock Falls is prepared for.

Not all monsters can be slain, and not all nightmares are confined to the dark.



Overall Recommendation

The Luminaries sets a new secret society within our world that guards humankind from nightmarish creatures lurking in the forests at night. Beautiful worldbuilding and mystery subplots keep the momentum going that I couldn’t put this book down at all. The ending was abrupt and most things were not concluded in a satisfactory manner, but this definitely makes me all the more excited for what’s to come in the next book.

Continue reading “ARC Review: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard”