My Rating: 5 Stars
A great collection of classic horror stories that are definitely worth it.
I was expecting just one type of story so I was a bit disappointed to read others while the title indicated otherwise. Even so, they were pleasant to read and I enjoyed them more than I thought I would. The novel consists of four horror tales, each different from the other but still loosely connected. The King in Yellow is a cursed book that no one seems able to read until the end, driving people to insanity and even commit suicide. It makes an appearance in all the four stories I think it’s a nice touch, the book seems to have the ability to compel people to read it, which adds spice to the stories.
The style of writing is beautiful and compelling, like hearing a soft, creepy melody coming out of the book but with words instead of music notes.
Here are the summaries and some light comments of each story:
I truly enjoyed this one! It’s creepy, very well described and a great start to the collection.
This one is more on the creepy side since we see it through the eyes of the narrator, the man in love with the sculptor’s wife. With that said, it’s not hard to guess what takes place after. Even so, it was a tragic line to it.
The worst things are those you can’t see. This story takes this to a new level and it leaves trying to figure out of there is actually something there or not. Very psychological indeed! On the downside, I think the author had space to go develop a bit more the character and go a bit more in-depth into the story. I feel it wouldn’t lose any intensity if it was a bit longer.
Robert Chambers and his work was unknown to me before I read this book and I highly enjoyed it. I will definitely look at his other works.
I recommend this book to fans of short stories, both from the horror and romance/drama genres.
Thank you NetGalley and the publisher Pushkin Press for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
What.a.read! This is one of those books that you stay up all night reading.
Thomas Fawkes has a problem: he’s turning to stone from the Stone Plague that infected his eye. If he doesn’t do something about it, he will turn into a statue. When a solution presents itself, it might be the craziest plot he’s ever seen. He is to join his father in a plot to assassinate the king of England, the Gunpowder plot. The plan is to use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow him up. The problem is that by doing so, he will kill the family of the woman he loves, but if he backs away, both his father and his followers end up on the gallows. Which side will he choose and which one can he live with?
Absolutely brilliant! I stayed up until dawn reading this one, between the action and the heart-stopping moments, I couldn’t put it down!
The plot is great, complex, very well developed and packed with action. The premise of the book is the Gunpowder plot, a true event that took place in England in early 1600s where a group of Catholic traitors plan to assassinate the Protestant king. If you don’t know anything about this particular event, I suggest you only research after you read the book. Discovering it through the eyes of Nadine Brandes, who mixes history with fantasy and fiction, is absolutely worth it. Plus, it keeps the suspense until the end of the story. The pace starts by being very fast, then it slows down a bit in the middle and then it’s just full speed ahead. It gives the reader enough space to breathe and process the past occurrences without breaking out of the story itself.
The characters are the story in this case. It’s like they completely ran out of the author’s control and have a life of their own, they are the plot and the plot revolves around them. They rule the plot, but the plot doesn’t control them. Weird, I know!
Thomas Fawkes, the main male lead, isn’t a very likeable character for me and in the end, I couldn’t completely connect with him. He does bring some spice to the story and I do believe he has a strong character and inner strength; he just needs to grow up a bit more. I felt like he complained a lot during the novel. Even though he has some reasons to, he sounded like a whiny kid. Plus, I couldn’t keep up with his actions and decisions, some of them were incomprehensible to me.
On the other hand, Guy Hawkes is something else entirely. He’s a complex, unpredictable and mysterious type of character. I actually re-read most of the scenes with him. Guy is guided by his sense of bringing justice to the Catholics being prosecuted by the Protestant church. He’s moved by his strong morals and values and in the end, it makes him a memorable character. The main female character is awesome and she reveals herself an important piece of the game. She’s one of the reasons I go so attached to the novel. I cannot go into more details of the characters without spoiling the story, so I will let you discover more of them on your own!
The style of writing is compelling, clean and uses the vocabulary of the 1600s perfectly. Brandes does an amazing job with the descriptions, it’s like you can see a picture of the places and the people. Masterfully done!
Fawkes is a fun read, mixing fiction and history perfectly while keeping a great level of action and suspense throughout the story. I recommend it to the fans of historical fiction with a twist and for those you enjoy the setting in 17th-century London. I can tell you, my friends, the trip to this world is totally worth it!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Thomas Nelson and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A brilliant mystery novel with a fantastic par of main characters! Unfortunately, I skipped the first book, which is already ordered! I can’t wait to see how this all start.
Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson don’t find that domestic life is up to their standards. After five years away from an Egyptian adventure, the only thing or person that makes that all better is their son, the abnormal intelligent ‘Ramses’ Walter Peabody Emerson. When Lady Baskerville comes to them fearing the curse that killed her husband on an expedition, the Amelia and Emerson travel to deep into Egypt and continue to work on the excavation Sir Henry left behind. However, as they make progress, people around them start dying. By curse or not, a lady dressed in white floats spreads fear and death.
For this one, I have to start with the main characters.
I can’t love a fictional couple more than do Amelia and Emerson. Amelia, the main female lead, believes she’s the smartest person in the room, observant of the details and connections missed by the normal eye. She’s this incredible Victorian woman with a mind and beliefs way ahead of her time that prefers to face ancient curses, camels and extreme height to tea parties with the neighbours. At the same time, she uses communication to get her way even without others noticing it, especially Emerson. I just love how she handles him. While she enjoys being a mother, she’s very happy to be able to escape the boredom of London with her handsome husband. She’s not afraid of admitting she needs a break from everything. Emerson is a grumpy, arrogant man that thinks he’s always right, but he has a soft side for Amelia and Ramses. His love for Egyptology is bigger than himself and sometimes even his wife but his heart is in the right place. They complement and challenge each other at each turn; they make the other stay on their toes. Their relationship is incredible and it’s hard not to enjoy the sparing between them. They make a great team.
Ramses, their son, takes after both of his parents both in the level of intelligence and wittiness. While a normal child likes to hear fairytale bedtime stories, Ramses prefers the History of Egypt. Even his parents don’t know how to react to some of Ramses comments or deep vocabulary. He’s only 4 and a half years old!
As for the other characters, Elizabeth Peter’s does a great job in developing them in depth. Everyone has a purpose and she manages to engage every single one of them in the story, both in the murder investigation and the daily life of the group of explorers.
The plot is engaging and complex. Peters masterfully brings up the Victorian and Egyptian life and completes with detailed historical facts which shows the passion of the author on the subject of Ancient Egypt. At the same time, she makes everything fit and the reader doesn’t grow bored with the history lessons. A simple yet intriguing and engaging style of writing is an essential part to achieve such a thing and Peter’s is the queen of it! I actually learned a thing or two about some pharaohs and their accomplishments. The murder storyline is also complex. Peter’s gives includes a considerable number of characters which a respectful list of suspects. The best part is that the author makes everyone look like a suspect with both motivate and alibi. I was able to figure out who the killer was before the end, but even so, the story was explored very well.
This is was the perfect novel for me. I can’t wait to see more of Amelia and Emerson in the next instalments! I recommend this novel to fans of archaeology, Ancient Egypt and a complex murder mystery with a dash of romance.
My Rating: 3 Stars
Callum Hunt’s life has been completely torn apart: his best friend is dead, his killer escaped, everyone knows he has the soul of Constantine Madden and he's sent to prison for crimes he didn’t commit. Incarcerated in the strongest prison for magicians for months, Call is interrogated every day. Until someone sets the fire to the place and breaks him out that is. Unfortunately, his life doesn’t get any easier. A shocking revelation and a promise of freedom come with a very high price. As Constantine’s plans are put in his hands, Call must decide how to use his power and choose a side in a war that threatens to destroy his world. Will he stay with his friends or betray everyone he loves for an old friend?
The plot holds a few surprises for you and unexpected events that will turn the tide on the next instalment. The first part of the novel develops at a steady pace without much surprise. The twists take place more in the second half of the story; some were a bit predictable for me, but one managed to surprise me.
The style of writing is amazing as one would expect from the two brilliant authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. The interactions between the characters are great, filled with real emotion and some humour which breaks the ice in some serious settings.
Just like in the previous novels, the characters are the main and best part of these novels. Call is desperately trying to hold himself together only to learn he might really have some traits of the Enemy of Death. He spends this time struggling to understand his feelings for Tamara and deal with the death of his best friend Aaron. Tamara takes a big role in this book and it’s her decision that changes the course of Call’s life. Jasper is a fun character to read about and his lines always manage to make me smile or laugh. You get to see more of him and get to see a side of him that I definitely didn’t see coming. On the negative side, I fail to see a growth in the characters. Call, Tamara and Jasper spend the book trying to figure out something that is revealed in the previous instalments. Their friendship changes neither for better or worse and only in the end it’s put to the test. It felt like the test was merely to make Call suffer for nothing.
The Silver Mask is the fourth instalment of the Magisterium series and on the opposite of what happened with the previous books, I was a little bit disappointed starting from the number of pages. Don’t get me wrong, exciting things happen and there are some twists but overall, it was all a bit predictable. There is a lot of information revealed about past events but they don’t seem to have an effect on the plot at all. Plus, the characters spend most of the time trying to make pointless decisions and just walk in circles without any results at all. Even though I read it in two days, I felt something was missing.
In general, it was a pleasant read, saved mostly by the writing style of the two authors. I hope I will connect more with the next novel than I did with this one.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A brilliantly novel that raised the bar on pirate fiction to new heights for all the right reasons. This novel will make its way to the Top 10 of many pirate-novel fans!
Edward Thatcher, also known as Blackbeard, British Navy privateer turned pirate, controlled the Atlantic and the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. Both a hero and a villain of his time, Blackbeard became one of the first American revolutionaries in the War of Independence against the British. But who was he before Blackbeard, the most known pirate of the seas? This is the true story of the honourable man that masterfully dodged his obsessed pursuer, Alexander Spotswood, Virginia’s governor, became the most feared pirate to conquer both Atlantic and Pacific.
I can’t even put into words how much I enjoyed this novel. If I could give it more than five stars, I would.
As the reader follows both the perspectives of Blackbeard and Alexander, the reader is taken deep into the adventure marked by both determination and obsession in this cat-and-mouse game across the seas. The pace starts slow but picks up the pace, especially in the third part of the novel. I couldn’t put it down.
The novel starts with a detailed presentation of Edward Thatch, his life and values, portraying him as a hero before he became the evil pirate that he’s still known for nowadays. Pirates were paid by the British settlers in the New World to attack French and Spanish ships, something that Blackbeard was accustomed to doing. Only later, alliances shifted. The common dislike for the rule of King George of the House of Hanover the growing desire to see James III from the House of Stuart in his place fuelled a revolution that turned the ties in favour of the New World. As the rich became richer and the common folk paid the price, Blackbeard turned against the British taking the fortune of the rich and distributing it fairly amongst the people. Since the beginning, however, the man was known for his charisma, leadership and the way he swiftly attacked ships avoiding deadly confrontations for both his crew and the adversary. He treated everyone equally, no matter the colour of their skin or background. His men were proud to work with and for him. Surprisingly, by the end, he made choices that I definitely wasn’t expecting from him.
The way Samuel Marquis describes the life of Blackbeard and his crew, I could almost smell the salty waters and feel the fresh breeze. At the same time, he smoothly makes clear that those who became pirates had political, economic motivations and a deep love of freedom. He jumps from scene to scene connecting you to the story and its numerous characters with perfect ease, giving you just enough time to process all the details and information and fully visualise the settings.
The style of writing is incredible, Marquis found the perfect balance between historical facts, and fiction, bringing it together with a solid historical base and a beautiful, melodically and addictive style that makes you want to stay and sail the seas in it. I was amazed at the number of true facts the author embedded and I must admit I questioned myself which ones were true and which ones were fiction. Marquis mixed everything so perfectly, that it’s hard to distinguish what’s real and what’s not.
As you might have figured out, Blackbeard isn’t the villain of this story. Alexander Spotswood, Virginia’s lieutenant is the opposite of Blackbeard. A vindictive and tyrannical man, disliked by the members of his colony, obsessed in capturing the notorious privateer-turned-pirate to gain the favour of England, Alexander his known for his thirst for power and dominance. Marquis did an incredible job with this character and his build-up; he’s the perfect villain of this Golden Age of Piracy and the representation of the beliefs that the founders of the future United States would go against. Other characters like Steede Bonnet, a man that gave up his plantations in Barbados to make a life at sea (despite knowing next-to-nothing about it), give an extra touch of “human” to the story, making the story jump out of its pages. Marquis is a master of character building!
Buying a paper version of this novel is on my priority books-to-buy list! My recommendation? Read it, read it, read it! It’s a brilliant novel that will freshen up the lives of all pirate fans!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Mount Sopris Publishing and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A collection of short horror stories that will make you look over your shoulder and pay more attention to your daily activities.
Lewis Williams masterfully edited these 16 horror stories, creating a crescendo of horror with each next title. Presenting a number of new talent authors that you may or not know, is a breath of fresh air in the horror genre. Some short-stories are bigger in length than others, like Ticks by Lewis Williams (not recommended for those of you that don’t like bugs). The writing styles change depending on the author and the feeling of the stories changes with it. Some are more psychological, others focus more on physical violence.
The stories proved to be creepy beyond understanding by transforming simple objects and day-to-day scenes into a nightmare s. Some of the titles that struck me in a good way are:
• Nizzy’s Egg by S.L Powell – This one will make you pay more attention to what you eat for breakfast;
• The Box by Sue Eaton - a package that comes back no matter how many times you throw it away and gets hungry… very hungry;
• The Rose by Suzan St Maur – the subtlety of the story and the style of writing really made love this story.
• Framed by T.R Hitchman – Be careful when you see old ladies with cameras, you never know what can happen when they take your photo.
• Bad Boys Don’t get Desert by William Quincy Belle - A type of mother that praises his son for a job well done but punishes him for not burying his toy before a meal.
• Death by Appointment by A.H. Sargeant – When you get a surprise visit at your office from an unexpected someone, remember that what goes around, comes around.
I thoroughly enjoyed each one of these short stories, but there are some of them that involve animals and those were a bit tough to swallow. Nevertheless, there were very well written and the organisation of the stories builds-up your interest to know what comes next.
The book is a great read, with a collection of unique stories that are a most, have for the fans of the horror genre that are looking for something out-of-the-box. I highly recommend it!
Thank you Lewis Williams and the publisher Corona Books for reaching out and sending me a paperback version of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 4 Stars
It’s a nice, simple book that goes in depth into spirit animals. It offers helpful advice for those that want to discover more about the meaning of spirit animals and about their guidance, but also to authors that want to include these spirits in their work.
Melissa Alvarez takes her time presenting the different fields of spirit animals. She starts by presenting the different types of animals, an extensive characterization of each and the messages and lessons that each specific spirit includes. Alvarez also describes different rituals to know your spirit guide; and how to communicate with it. The author manages to cover the most important fields and details in this condensed guide without leaving out any crucial information.
The style of writing is simple and easy to follow. The thematic is presented in a simple way and the author’s message is clearly presented and developed between the pages.
It’s the perfect reference for those interested in exploring the world of spiritual animal guides.
Thank you NetGalley, Llewellyn Publications and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
The type of novel take gets you hooked from page one. A mesmerising, captivating, suspenseful narrative that will keep you from putting it down.
Anne Chatham desperately needs a new start. After losing her family to Influenza and almost dying herself, Anne is ready to start a new chapter of her life as a typewriter with the Wellingtons family. But her almost-death experience gave Anne a unique gift: she can sense spirits. On her arrival, she’s introduced to the owner of the manor Henry Wellington, confined to a wheelchair, his two sons and the unpleasant wife, Lavinia. Anne soon discovers that the family hides a dark and terrible secret and that wondering spirit she senses in the house may hold the answers to the mysterious disappearance of Henry’s first wife 40 years before. Together with the less favoured son, Owen, they try to solve the mystery of what really happened to Eleanor Wellington. But someone isn’t happy with these meddling. During a masquerade ball, death strikes. Anne slowly becomes aware of the dangerous road she’s taking and the price of getting closer to a horrifying truth. Can she and Owen get out alive?
Highly addictive, captivating and impossible to put down. It’s a real page-turner.
The setting of the novel is amazing and one of my all-time favourites: an English haunted house in 1922. The atmosphere is that of a gothic novel, dark with several characters that slowly begin to reveal themselves as no so pure people. The pace is very steady and builds up suspense and thrill throughout the story. Clues and crucial information are given in a smooth way and it keeps you on your toes. There are enough twists in the story to keep you guessing the identity of the killer. The ending is completely unexpected but the author gives all the necessary pointers and leaves no loose ends.
The style of writing is captivating and the language is brilliant. Phyllis Newman was able to captivate the dark and mysterious atmosphere typical of a gothic novel. At the same time, it was some cosy mystery elements, like the romance line between Anne and Owen, which was perfectly in line with the mystery. The descriptions are perfect as they give a clear image of the setting and the actions of the characters. The best part is that you cannot get bored with them; with the style of writing runs like soft, dark music running in the background. Additionally, Newman introduces the social problems of the period in a way that gives depth to the story and the characters. The main issue is the class distinction, a characteristic from the 20th century. A young woman loses everything, she doesn’t have any rights and she has to find a way to survive. Finding a job was the only way not to end up in poverty. Newman also integrates supernatural elements just at the right times and the right places which creates spine-chilling moments in the story. I enjoyed every single one of them.
The characters are fantastic and very well developed. Anne is an intelligent young woman that even after going through traumatic events in her life keeps her head up and takes on the challenge life put in front of her. I loved her reasoning and her courage. She’s like a ray of light in that house and to the character that lives in it. Anne isn’t governed by fear, which isn’t surprising considering that she stared at death right in the face. However, she’s not reckless, she follows a logical approach and preserves herself from the people she doesn’t fully trust or understand. All this while being “ladylike”. I loved walking with her through this dark adventure.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel: the romance, the suspense build-up and the moments of pure horror. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Thank you, Phyllis Newman, for reaching out and sending me a digital copy of your book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 3 Stars
A gory horror story 90s style that will make you run through the pages.
A haunting secret from the past comes back to haunt the present in the most deadly way possible. At the elite high school Trask Hall located on a secluded island, the life of Layna is a lively competition. When her friends start dying one by one, Layna begins to question her past and her connection to a theatre fire where a student lost his life. Can she find the truth before the killer gets to her?
Now, this is a spooky, heart-stopping novel! I usually don’t fall for high school novels but this one was definitely creepy enough to get my interest. The story is addictive by the way the killings happen and how the plot keeps twisting.
The style of writing is simple and easy to follow but gripping in intriguing at the same time. I think at times it got a bit too aggressive and a bit stereotypical when it comes to describing his characters. The descriptions are very detailed and it’s easy for the reader to jump into this world. I must admit that in some scenes were was hard to read through. It’s clear that Hutson has a passion for horror movies/books.
The novel is fast-paced right from the beginning and the story is told in the third person, which for me made the story easy to follow. The plot was both good and classic. A lot of scenes of the novel definitely brought up memories from the classic horror movies with “let’s go into the basement” and “let’s take a walk in a dark, deserted hallway with a killer on the loose”. Still, there is a definite charm to it. Thommy Hutson adds enough darkness and gory details to create something that leaves a trail of goosebumps. The idea of killing based on superstitions was good and it added spice to the story. There are enough twists to keep the reader completely involved in the story. The best part is that the reader doesn’t really know how everything is connected but in the end, all the information comes together perfectly. The end is shocking and completely unpredictable which worked fine for me. The bottom line of this story: don’t keep secrets, they might come back to get you.
The characters didn’t work out too well for me. I couldn’t connect with them and it seemed like the author didn’t have any love for them either. There is a love-triangle between characters but it felt a bit disconnected from the plot. The fact that the characters just throw themselves in the line of danger and do exactly what they shouldn’t annoy me a bit. It’s like there were created just for the killing. The killer who seemed to be everywhere at once kept messing up his image by being sloppy in some scenes, which killed a bit the mood. I think there is a lack of character development that could make the story more intriguing and actually make the reader feel for these characters.
I have mixed feelings about this novel. I think the plot is great and the style of writing, in general, was intriguing but the characters are seriously lacking.
Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author Thommy Hutson for allow me to participate on the book tour of Jinxed.
My Rating: 5 Stars
An amazing, deliciously sweet book that will brighten the tea time of every book lover.
A Literary Tea Party brings the foods of classic books to light and gives you enough recipes to spice up any bookish time. You’re taken on a trip from stories and fairytales through dishes and desserts: Turkish Delight and Hot chocolate from the Narnia Chronicles, Gingerbread from Little Women, Drink Me Tea and Painted Rose Cupcakes from Alice in Wonderland, Delicious Death chocolate cake from Agatha Christie’s Murder is Announced, amongst others. Fifty-five recipes that will brighten any tea time and/or book club meeting.
I loved this little book and even tried a few recipes. They are easy to follow and the instructions are written in a simple and direct way. Reading through them, I felt the need to read the books again. It gives out a sense of nostalgia and cosiness. In each page, beautiful photographs and quotes from the classics give a sense of magic.
This is a must-have in any book lovers’ collection right between the classics and the cookbooks.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Skyhorse Publish and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.
Disclaim: All the images used serve for illustration purposes only, I don't own them. All the reviews and opinions are my own.