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Review & #Giveaway: Hidden Rooms by Kate Michaelson



Book Details:

Published by: CamCat Books

Publication Date: April 30, 2024

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 9780744310153 (ISBN10: 0744310156)

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You can run fast. You can run far. But you can’t outrun your family.


Long-distance runner Riley has been fighting various bewildering symptoms for months, from vertigo to fainting spells. Worse, her doctors can’t tell her what’s wrong, leaving her to wonder if it’s stress or something more threatening. But when her brother’s fiancée is killed—and he becomes the prime suspect—Riley must prove his innocence, despite the toll on her health.


As she reacquaints herself with the familiar houses and wild woods of her childhood, the secrets she uncovers take her on a trail to the real killer that leads right back to the very people she knows best and loves most.


For readers who enjoy Deer Season by Erin Flanagan, All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers, and A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham.



Universal Purchase Link - click HERE

Also Available From CamCat Books

I grew up inside a lightning bolt, in a family of pure momentum. My siblings and I were young, stupid, and fearless in our white gingerbread house, surrounded by dark earth, green shoots, and wild woods—untamed beasts running loose from morning to night. We snarled and bucked, more a pack than a family.

Born less than a year apart, my brother Ethan and I spent most of our lives scrapping after the same few things, pinching each other where we knew it would hurt the most. But we also protected each other. When Trevor Paltree shoved Ethan off the tall metal slide the first day of preschool, I kicked Trevor’s little ass, and I’d do it again.

Only, now, I didn’t know what protecting my brother looked like, though I felt fairly certain that kicking his fiancée’s ass was not it. Besides, I couldn’t even say what exactly Beth was up to, which (admittedly) undermined my argument. Putting my head down and going along with the wedding might feel cowardly, but it also seemed like the least destructive path forward.

So, that’s how I found myself pulling up to Ethan and Beth’s house to pick up my puce monstrosity of a bridesmaid’s dress with Beth’s recent words still replaying in my mind: Riley, you know I’d never do anything to hurt Ethan. The problem was that she also once said with a wink and a smile that what Ethan didn’t know couldn’t hurt him. I parked in the shade of a lowlimbed oak and got out, lifting my hair off my neck to catch the breeze. The autumn sun had built throughout the afternoon into the kind of fleetingly gorgeous day that makes up for Ohio’s multitude of weather sins: one last warm postscript to summer. Rain loomed in the low shelf of clouds to the north. I crossed my fingers that it would hold off until I could get home to walk Bruno. Maybe I could even get a run in if my energy held out.

My phone buzzed, and I knew without looking it would be Audra. She called most days and knew that just the previous night, I’d finally worked up the nerve to have a conversation with Ethan about Beth. She would want the details. I was amazed she had waited this long.

“How’d it go with Ethan?” Her melodious voice skipped along briskly. People usually went with what she said simply because they were so swept up with how she said it. As her sister, I was an exception.

“Hello to you too.” I continued toward the house but slowed my pace. “I’ll give you one guess how it went.”

“Hello, dearest Riley. I guess he got mad.”

“Not just mad. He guilt-tripped me. I asked him if he’d noticed anything wrong with Beth, and he acted all injured about it. He told me, ‘She thinks you’re her friend.’” I mimicked Ethan’s self-righteous tone. The jab still stung. “I told him I think of her as a friend too, which is how I know she’s hiding something.” Granted, I couldn’t untangle what it was. It was something I sensed more than saw—a shift in posture or flicker behind an expression. The past few weeks she’d become more self-contained than ever, which was saying something for her.

“Yeah, but can you really be friends with someone who has no personality? It’s like being friends with a mannequin. I don’t know how you can tell if she’s hiding something when she never shares anything—”

“Look, I can’t talk about it now.” I lowered my voice as I neared the house. “I’m at their place getting my dress. I’ll call you later.”

I climbed the porch steps, the front of their house looking so Instagram-perfect that I wondered whether I’d been seeing problems that weren’t there. The afternoon light slanted across the pumpkins and yellow chrysanthemums that Beth had arranged just so. Dried bundles of corn rattled in the breeze. Beneath the pale-blue porch swing, Beth had set out a matching ceramic bowl full of kibble for Bibbs, the half-feral cat that had adopted her and Ethan.

The only thing amiss was the open door of the old-fashioned cast-iron mailbox nestled amid the pumpkins and flowers. Beth would kill the mail carrier for ruining the ambiance. I grabbed the few pieces of mail in the box and shut the little door obligingly, like a good future sister-in-law.

Careful not to disturb a precarious wreath of orange berries, I knocked on the screen door and tapped my foot, ready to grab my puffy dress and go. I had been a whirl of motion all day, zipping through work and crossing items off my to-do list. I worked for Wicks, an oversized candle company that sold overpriced candles. Today was my last day in the office before a trip to England to set up the IT network at our new British headquarters.

For months, I’d been fighting some kind of long-term bug my doctors couldn’t figure out, but today I felt a glimmer of my former self, twitchy with energy and moving at a clip to get everything done.

4 out of 5 (very good)

Independent Reviewer for Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!


This is the author's debut novel, and I reckon she nailed it!


Riley's sister-in-law to be, Beth, is murdered, and her brother Ethan, is the prime suspect. Riley knows he's innocent, and sets about to prove it.


What I particularly liked about this, was being kept on my toes! Until it all came out, I didn't know whether Ethan did it or not!


Beth is keeping secrets, and those secrets cost her, but again, it takes time for things to come out.


Everything does take a time to come out, and I suggest, if like me, you weren't liking the slow pace, KEEP AT IT! It does speed up and move at pace. I am glad I kept with it.


Riley tells a great tale, even with this illness that rocks her through much of the book. I enjoyed her, especially as she is the only voice in the book. I liked the way the illness was dealt with, or not for much of the time!


I think I might not have enjoyed this so much had someone else had a say, which is contrary to my usual "I wanted to hear from everyone" thing, I know, but I really did like Riley.


It's well written, and well delivered. There is just enough suspense, once it kicks off, to keep you fully engaged and invested with this group of people.


As an ARC reader of many years, my primary genre is romance. Once in a while something different will come through and my interest is piqued. I am certainly glad I took this one on, and will absolutely read more by this author as and when.


4 very VERY good stars


** same worded review will appear elsewhere **

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book; the comments here are my honest opinion. *
































Growing up in rural Ohio, Kate Michaelson simultaneously developed a love of nature and a strong desire to live closer to a mall. Pursuing the latter, she attended Ohio State, where she studied English and Psychology. After earning her MFA in Creative Writing, Kate worked as a technical writer and taught English at St. Petersburg College in Florida and, later, at the University of Toledo in Ohio. Over the years, she has published academic articles, creative nonfiction, poetry, and short stories. Her debut novel, Hidden Rooms, follows a distance runner who returns to her rural Ohio hometown and must clear her brother of murdering his fiancée while also seeking answers to her own medical mystery. As someone with Lyme disease and dysautonomia, Kate’s writing uses humor and suspense to explore the experience of coping with chronic illness. Ultimately, she wants to portray the reality of the challenges that invisible disabilities pose while also demonstrating that “ability” is not a binary concept—that illness does not equal a loss of self or agency.


Kate enjoys traveling, hiking, and trying (fruitlessly) to tire out her Labrador mix. She works in curriculum design and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. She lives with her husband and pets in Toledo, Ohio, only ten minutes from a mall she now avoids whenever possible.


Catch Up With Kate Michaelson:


Tour hosted by: Partners in Crime Tours


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Apr 29

Great review! Can't wait to read this one myself!

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