2.5 star, YA

ARC Review: The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson

New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson ramps up the horror and tackles America’s history and legacy of racism in this suspenseful YA novel following a biracial teenager as her Georgia high school hosts its first integrated prom. 

When Springville residents—at least the ones still alive—are questioned about what happened on prom night, they all have the same explanation . . . Maddy did it.

An outcast at her small-town Georgia high school, Madison Washington has always been a teasing target for bullies. And she’s dealt with it because she has more pressing problems to manage. Until the morning a surprise rainstorm reveals her most closely kept secret: Maddy is biracial. She has been passing for white her entire life at the behest of her fanatical white father, Thomas Washington.

After a viral bullying video pulls back the curtain on Springville High’s racist roots, student leaders come up with a plan to change their image: host the school’s first integrated prom as a show of unity. The popular white class president convinces her Black superstar quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date, leaving Maddy wondering if it’s possible to have a normal life.

But some of her classmates aren’t done with her just yet. And what they don’t know is that Maddy still has another secret . . . one that will cost them all their lives.



**The Weight of Blood comes out September 6, 2022**

Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

While The Weight of Blood was every bit the strong contender about race and the continued challenges the Black community faces in certain small towns with a history of segregation and racism, the execution of the mystery fell flat on so many levels. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I’ll explain why I can’t give it a higher rating no matter how much I want to.

The premise of the story from the synopsis makes it sound like we follow Maddy, a girl who is half-Black but has been “lying” to the whole town and passing off as white her whole life. Unfortunately, her POV is only one of many that we follow and it dilutes the focus between too many people to thoroughly invest and enjoy any one of them. We follow Kenny, the love interest, who also happens be dating a popular white girl who is part of the group that bullied Maddy. But not only his POV, we get his girlfriend’s POV which was a rather interesting take as it made it harder to yearn for the main romance when I empathized with her situation the more I got to know her.

For the parts where we do get to see the situations Maddy lives through which we know somehow leads up to a Bloody Prom Night that left over a hundred dead in their small town, I was utterly enthralled in half amazement and disgust. Amazement at how she was raised and her fanatical father who put this narrative in her mind that being Black was wrong, but definite disgust at the treatment of her peers and the town overall towards her. I mean, they still had separate proms, like other ethnicities weren’t seen as equals to dance and celebrate together? Just disgusting behaviour, and I really hope not reflective of small towns in America.

I did think the social commentary on racism was a great place to launch much-needed discussions on this topic. In particular, I also liked the focus on her peers who didn’t throw any insults or directly did anything but nevertheless just stood by and allowed the ones who did get a free pass. Aren’t they as much at fault for what led up to the tragic Night?

Another interesting take was how the small Black community at school didn’t necessarily welcome her into their arms either. Was it because they thought she was ashamed of her Blackness and thus extends to those in the community? Was she not Black enough for them to at least acknowledge her as one of them? It was something that Kenny had to reflect on too as he had integrated well into the popular groups at school by, in a sense, pretending he was colour blind to the little “jokes” by his friends that really were microaggressions or harmful stereotypes.

I would’ve liked to have seen more focus on this topic but I suppose the point of the main premise is a thriller – the big Why everyone (or rather, the survivors) is trying to answer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good thriller, but the pacing was super off here. First, reminiscent to the popular book Sadie, there’s a present day podcast in interview style narrating what had happened a decade ago that is Maddy’s story. So the timeline is actually split with the present day parts looking to explain what led to the tragedy. While I like having the podcast style and making us feel just as confused and intrigued by Maddy’s story as the podcaster, it slows things down by cutting into any buildup. The multiple POVs with changing tensions (or different kinds of tension) doesn’t allow for extended buildup either. It’s just getting good – and then it cuts to present day or another person.

The romance was also marketed for this book in some ways, but I never felt any real chemistry between Kenny and Maddy. Yes, they both had to come to terms with their Blackness and what that means in who they want to be and how others may see them. But a connection on that struggle that doesn’t equate to instant attraction and undying love. Kenny did a complete 180 as he was still technically in a relationship with his girlfriend Wendy (whom we also get to really know) for most of the book. I honestly felt bad for Wendy at times even though she missed some cues that the relationship was not going where she hoped it would.

But, the one thing I think everyone loved given the strong Carrie vibes (is this considered a retelling?) but didn’t quite settle with me is the supernatural element to the story. I never read Carrie so I didn’t immediately make that connection with the synopsis so I most definitely wasn’t anticipating this supernatural narrative. In a way, it makes the premise less mysterious and therefore exciting for me. Now there’s a very plausible way that Bloody Prom Night ends up happening and there’s definitely plenty of motive for why on Maddy’s part. The only unknown is the exact sequence of events that led up to it. And the execution of that, as mentioned above, was at times convoluted and all over the place.

I wanted to love this book so badly. I haven’t been reading the reviews for it so I had no high expectations either beyond the premise. Unfortunately, however unpopular this is, The Weight of Blood was less thriller and more of a paranormal story with commentary on race and segregation in small town America.

Overall Recommendation:

The Weight of Blood doesn’t quite hit the nail as a thriller but it at least provides thoughtful reflection on Black identity in predominantly white small towns with a legacy of racism. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect although it sickened me in places at the abuse our protagonist, Maddy, faced. However, the romance felt forced and the supernatural elements came as a surprise. If you enjoy social commentary on race with a huge sprinkling of paranormal activity, then this is for you! But otherwise, this isn’t what I’d say is a typical thriller and unfortunately not what I anticipated for my first Tiffany D. Jackson novel. It’s probably a case of “it’s me, not the book” so take what you will from this review.

4 star

Review: The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

For fans of the compulsive psychological suspense of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a mother daughter story—one running from a horrible truth, and the other fighting to reveal it—that twists and turns in shocking ways, from the internationally bestselling author of The Scholar and The Ruin.

First Rule: Make them like you.

Second Rule: Make them need you.

Third Rule: Make them pay.

They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

They think I’m working hard to impress them.

They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.



Another one I picked off the shelf, but it certainly had an interesting premise. As a legal(ish) thriller, it was fairly well executed, and it wasn’t too jargon heavy, and anything that needed explaining was explained well. Compared to my last review of Verity, there were actually a lot of similar plot elements that I found interesting.

The Murder Rule follows our protagonist, Hannah, who worms her way into the Project Innocence project at the University of Virginia Law. She has high stakes in this project, as they are taking care of a famous murder case. Except she isn’t there to help free him like everyone else is. Will she be found out as she works against her own team? Full of twists and surprises, this is a story of girl who will do anything for her goals, with her own ideals of the justice system.

Continue reading “Review: The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan”
5 star

Review: Verity by Colleen Hoover

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.



A couple of people have recommended this one to me and boy did it not disappoint. I had no expectations going in and honestly I didn’t even know it was a thriller until I started it. Overall it was a fantastic surprise and I can say it really was one of the best (or at least most exciting) thrillers I’ve read in a while, that really elicited some emotional reactions.

Verity is a story of a struggling thriller writer who is suddenly whisked away to write for a an author (Verity) renowned for writing thrillers from the perspective of the villain. Our protagonist, Lowen, arrives at Verity’s house to do research for the upcoming writing projects, but the home is the site of many recent tragedies, including the death of their twin daughters followed by Verity’s accident, leaving her unable to finish writing her series. Lowen finds Verity’s autobiography, detailing the events of meeting her husband and even through the deaths of her children, hidden away in her office. The house gives Lowen an eerie feeling, and maybe or good reason. Just what happened with Verity, and is there something much more sinister lurking behind each corner? What is the truth, and do we really want to know what it is?

The characters were all great in this book. Honestly I found most of them at least some base level of despicable. However, it was still written in such a way that I really enjoyed reading and I struggled to put it down (though I did, explained later). Usually in a book where I can’t really relate to any character or “get behind” their perspective, I usually don’t enjoy the book. However, the characters in this novel were all flawed in believable ways, and it just made me feel like an innocent bystander who couldn’t help but watch the train wreck unfold. For a thriller, we got a lot of time to dive deep into many of the characters because of the nature of having the autobiography retelling everything. This was definitely unique to the book and I really enjoyed the dual perspectives.

The plot was very good. I was instantly enraptured and it was really hard to put it down, because I just needed to know the ending or at least discover what the truth was. The suspense was extremely well executed. Just enough paranoia, mixed with the protagonist’s sleepwalking history, mixed with the accident-prone family, and the fact that the deal was too good to be true really had me suspicious from the very start. The book really leads you down a path which seems normal at first but with each page becomes more of a shocking horror. Kudos to the author for genuinely spooking me with this book (in a good way!)

The ending was also phenomenal. One of the best thriller endings I have ever read to be honest. On the spectrum of too much left hanging versus everything tied up too well, it reached a very very happy medium. Overall it just really baffled my mind and was a type of ending that I really didn’t see coming. The author really took the train of thought I had and then turned it around halfway and jammed it onto itself–can you tell I was really affected by it? Anyway, I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending, but I really felt that it added a whole extra level of horror that I haven’t experienced in a while.

Overall Recommendations

Verity is a suspenseful thriller novel revolving around a struggling writer, Lowen, who gets asked to finish a famous series of thrillers written in the perspective of the villain. As Lowen enters into the headspace of the original author, Verity, especially by reading her unpublished autobiography, dark things begin to become clear. What is the truth behind the tragedies in Verity’s life and is it more sinister than what it appears to be? Find out in this exciting thriller that you won’t want to put down!