Thursday, March 07, 2024

Book Review: REPLACED

Title: Replaced

Author: Nolon King with Lauren Street

Publisher: Sterling and Stone

Pages: 346

My GoodReads Rating: ⭐

I was intrigued by the premise of this book and the writing was good enough to hold my interest.

Jessica Clarke has the perfect life with husband David. And now that David has a new job, and they've bought a new house, things are even better. What makes their life even more perfect is that they've just adopted a baby girl. All of one week, she's their joy, and they've named her Gwen.

Jessica, afraid of flying, drives a U-haul with her belongings from New York to Dallas. David has already flown to their new home with Gwen. Tired and exhausted, Jessica reaches the house only to find that the keys that David has given her don't work. What's worse, there's another woman, a lookalike of hers, in the house, and she's claiming to be Jessica Clarke, David’s wife, who is bonding with her baby, who she calls Bella. The worst thing is that David claims he doesn’t know her, that he has never seen her before.

Now David and the other woman have called in the police and Jessica is hauled in. How will she ever get her home and baby back?

The story is written in the 3rd person PoV of both Jessicas in alternate chapters. In order to ensure clarity for us readers, the authors refer to the first woman as Jessica, and the second as Jess.

It’s not hard to figure out the plot, but to the credit of the authors, they make us feel invested in spite of that. The action just doesn’t let up. 

The only problem lies in their description of Baby Gwen/Bella. The authors clearly don’t know anything about babies. Earlier on, Jessica things she hears the week-old baby chuckling. When the baby is still just a week old, she is shown to sleep calmly through the night for many hours straight. In Chapter 44, the baby is still less than a month old, and yet she plays with blocks and stuffed animals while still an infant. Any parent will tell you that playing with blocks is not a newborn’s thing. The baby claps too. Either it’s an issue that will get corrected or the authors have no idea what babies can or cannot do.

Other than this, it was a fun read.

(I read this book on NetGalley. Thank you to the author, the publisher and NetGalley.) 

Saturday, March 02, 2024


Title: On A Clear Day You Can See Block Island  

Author: Gage Greenwood

Publisher: Tanner's Switch Publishing

Pages: 284

My GoodReads Rating: ⭐

After the sudden death of his wife on account of corporate negligence, Jackson uses the compensation money from her company to move his children into a bigger house on Block Island. Wreath (17), Brian (15), Charlie (13), Chrissy (9) and Angela (8) are excited about the future even as they work through their complicated feelings of grief.

On their very first night in their new home, Wreath dies a horrible death, when she is literally eaten alive in her room by a monster.

Four years later, Jackson is an alcoholic mess. Brian lives out on the streets, addicted to drugs and opioids. Charlie, Chrissy and Angela are living with their aunt, Jackson’s sister, who isn’t much of a caregiver. But that’s not the worst of it. Charlie suffers from crippling anxiety. Chrissy has no memory of the monster that destroyed her family, while Angela has a terrible fear of being alone.

Chrissy questions her family’s insistence on clinging to the story. Then in a library book, she sees a picture of the monster and the blocked memories come rushing back at her.


The book is suffused with horror. Chrissy devours horror fiction. She has turned into ‘someone who would find peace in violent words.’ The author uses Chrissy’s interest in horror fiction to recommend some books. There’s also the horror of alcohol and drug addiction.

There were some lines from the book that stood out for me:

Horror wasn’t a spotlight on evil, it was control. If a person could create beautiful sentences from horrific events, then any person could weave their way through life’s trauma. You just have to make the grime shine.

Grief was a mysterious lump on your flesh . . .  One minute, you can convince yourself it’s benign, just an ugly little thing you can learn to deal with, and the next, you’re certain it’s the start of something bigger, the kind of thing that will eat away at your flesh, devour your bones.

A person can only fray for so long before they become nothing but loose strands.


The book cover was interesting, with the island, seemingly ordinary, and the lives that it has claimed, visible in the spilling of blood below the surface of the water.

The writing was masterful in the first part of the book, especially the first chapter, inviting the reader to stop speed reading to lavish upon the words the attention the author had devoted to crafting them. Through the first half of the book, we see the pain born of grief and trauma.

We feel a sense of sadness for the plight of this this suffering family. The challenges that batter the kids relentlessly make us feel protective towards them. 

The friendship that siblings Tiffany and Doug show to Charlie was sweet, and I felt bad that things didn’t turn out differently for them. Also why were they attacked?


But the second half of the book lost me. The first half definitely felt tighter than the second. And the action against the monsters took too long. Against it, the sibling dynamics was reduced to petty squabbles.

The chapters, alternating between Tiffany and Doug, Chrissy and Angela, and Detective Burns and Jackson, were essentially the same, with each pair facing off against the monster, and each pair coming to the same conclusion about their situation. My attention flagged at this point. It was almost like a sibling fight, with each pair hitting the monster, and being hit back in turn.

There was a hint about a weakness suffered by the monsters, but no explanation for why they have that weakness.

The character of Brian was explored briefly but not in a way that helped the plot along.  

The action vis-à-vis the monsters takes far too long. We can’t imagine how this part of the book will end. What scenario could possibly result in the destruction of such horrible monsters?


The climax and the resolution left me feeling dissatisfied. There was no good explanation about why the nightmare ended when it did or even how, and whether it would ever recur.

Some elements in the story didn’t make sense. Why did Angela have the visions about the monsters in the past?

It was surprising that the detailed flashback of Jackson’s wife comes at the 76 percent mark, almost like an afterthought or a force-fit, making it appear like an unplanned addition. Before that, we are told almost nothing about her, which is odd considering that it is her death that sets the plot going.

The relationship between the siblings felt incomplete. Other than the fact that most of them don’t get along with each other, I saw very little of the dynamics between the siblings or the family. The aunt that is apparently caring for Charlie, Chrissy and Angela isn’t even seen in the book.

The chapter titles were intriguing. They made no sense out of context and, at first glance, seemed rather random. It was only when one read the chapter that one could make sense of them.


I don’t enjoy monster horror, but I expected better from this because of the themes of grief and trauma that were woven through. But ultimately, this book didn’t work for me. 


(I read this book on NetGalley. Thank you to the author, the publisher and NetGalley.) 



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