My Rating: 5 Stars
This book includes everything I enjoy in a story: a good, scary Gothic tale set in Victorian times.
The story starts with Elsie Bainbridge, a young woman that is recovering in the hospital, unable to speak about a number of murders that she’s accused of committing. Since she doesn’t speak a word, she’s advised by one of the doctors to write down her story. Elsie is a recently married and recently widowed young woman that moves to her husband’s old estate, The Bridge, in order to bury him and give birth to her child. Surrounded by her husband’s cousin Sarah and three servants, Elsie begins to realize that in the walls of the old estate dark secrets are whispered in its walls. From strange figures of children and maids painted in wooden boards which seem to watch every move and seem to never stay in their designed place, to some old diaries that described the horrific events that took place in the beginning of the Bainbridge family’s downfall, Elsie slowly begins to transform from a confident and bright young woman to a broken shell governed by nightmares of past events she doesn’t fully understand.
A creepy Gothic horror novel that left me afraid to look at the walls and the paintings of my house for too long. It’s a deeply unsettling story that I will remember for a long time as being one of the books that made me be afraid of the dark for a few nights.
The setting is perfect for me, it hold everything for this novel to be a true horror story. It takes place in 1866 in Victorian England and in an old estate that has more history than its inhabitants realize until it’s too late. The story-line is solid and all the historical facts make this novel memorable in many ways. It’s a psychological horror story that develops perfectly from beginning to end, suspenseful until the very last page. The fact that the author started with the end, the reader is fully aware from the first page that this story doesn’t have a happy ending.
The style of writing is brilliant and it creates this atmosphere of suspense within a complex plot. I’m an admirer of the authors that manage to recreate a Victorian novel with all the phrase structure and vocabulary that truly brings the reader closer to the plot and its characters. The way that Laura Purcell writes builds up the horror throughout gets the reader completely addicted to the story even if deep down they're waiting for something scary to take palce.
The characters are amazing and as mesmerizing as the plot itself. Elsie is a great character and it’s impossible for the reader not to get involved in her story and feel for her as she walks down a dark path without realizing. Her transformation from a strong woman to a depressed, hollow, traumatized, mute, full of scars character is both admirable and scary.
A brilliant, creepy novel that will scare any reader out of hers/his wits. I highly recommend this novel for the fans of the genre and of Victorian fiction.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Bloomsbury, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A brilliant, memorable novel. This is a book that shows the other side of the very debated issue of illegal migration. I’m not usually a fan of books that approach the dark side of society, but this one is a must-read for people to realise that in the end, we’re all human and most of the time illegal immigrants are victims forced to flee their homes due to events beyond their control.
A peaceful night of celebration turns into a bloodbath. During the birthday party of his cousin, Pato, Arbo, Gladys and Marcos sneak away quietly from the house to smoke. Suddenly the sound of multiple gunshots ring through the night and the group returns home only to find their families dead and the shooters still in the house. Forced to run, with nowhere to go and a bounty on their heads, the four teenagers are driven across the desert in hopes of finding sanctuary in American territory.
The storyline is very solid and the details are very nicely described. This truly is the perfect novel that portraits the current issues of society and how quickly the media and the people forget that sometimes illegal immigrants are running from life-threatening situations, in this case, extreme violence. It explores how much a person can endure, how they react in extreme conditions just to have a chance at an unknown future. Steve Schafer managed to capture perfectly the effects of the traumatic experience of these characters and it’s both admirable and heartbreaking. This novel shows that all a person has at some point can be taken away and that nothing should be taken for granted. If the objective of the author was to inspire compassion, understanding and empathy towards the victims of the horrors that lead to illegal immigration, he did a brilliant job. For me, he marked literature with this novel.
The characters are very well-developed and it’s very easy for the reader to connect with them. Each one reacts to events and interprets information different, which gives the reader to understand them and bond with them in different ways. It’s even easier to get entangled in their story, to really feel for their struggles and to root for them in their journey. I felt emotionally connected to them and it was both a pleasure and a struggle for me, to know that even though these are characters, these are the struggles of a lot of desperate people.
The story is quite fast-paced and intense at times but it has its slow moments too; I would say that it’s to give the reader a break and to give some time to adjust to the events that occurred before. There aren’t just moments of sadness or fear; there are also moments of humour and some drama when a line of romance starts to develop between two characters, which softens the story a bit and lightens the mood. One thing is for sure, the plot isn’t predictable at all, and the reader doesn’t know what is just around the corner.
It’s a fast-paced, heartfelt novel that I can’t recommend highly enough. It fully deserves its five stars and people should definitely read it at least once in their lives.
I want to thank the author for reaching out and for giving me access to the digital copy of his book through NetGalley.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A brilliantly written dystopian novel that will remain in the mind of its readers for a long time.
When your parents are deemed enemies of the state, you’re sent to a secret detention school. For Reed Paine meeting new people and making friends isn't something he truly considered until he becomes friends with a girl named Riley and slowly began opening up to other detainees. Together, they discover information and a long forgotten history in hidden tunnels underneath the school. As they begin to question the system and what they thought they knew about their society, the government reveals its intention to sell the school. Reed and his friends will have to make the decision of standing by and do nothing or to do something that might bring them freedom, change the world but also get them killed. Can they make it without losing their lives in the process?
The plot is very well-developed and its depth makes it almost tangible, which both admirable and scary considering the dystopian story-line isn’t that far-fetched; it’s original and refreshing. It's the type of book that can be read in one sitting.
The concepts in which the novel develops around remind the reader of the importance of history, country values, patriotism but also the importance of accepting the hard moments in life and that making mistakes is that makes us human. Furthermore, it serves as a reminder that nothing in life should be taken for granted, and that includes liberty. The style of writing approaches these themes in a subtle way, seducing the reader in going deeper into the story and into the lives of each character. Froelich’s style is impressive and it makes the story memorable.
The novel is fast-paced and packed with action and it keeps that rhythm throughout the story. The characters are very well-developed and it was easy to become a part of their adventure. Their depth is incredible and it’s almost like they’re real people that decided to tell their story. One of the things that I appreciated a lot in this novel is the fact that, yes, there are couples, but romance isn’t highlighted, friendship is. I can’t begin to describe how much I enjoyed reading the character’s interactions, their behaviour with each other and how often physical gestures are used to offer comfort and show that they care. I think the readers can truly relate to these characters and appreciate this view of friendship. The ending was like a door closing but a window opening at the same time: it’s a conclusion but there is enough space for a sequel.
This book got me hooked from page one and I recommend it to anyone interested in a fast-paced YA dystopia with historical references and lessons.
I want to thank the author Jennifer Froelich for sending me a free digital copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This book is on my top readings for this year. An epic fantasy that deserves its five stars without a shadow of a doubt.
A young boy is forced to flee from his home when his father is brutally murdered and barely escapes with his life. Accompanied by his mother and their faithful protector Sebastian, the young boy finds himself travelling with a circus in order to hide from the enemies that seem to be lurking in every corner. The boy is Prince Valiant, a Child of Leif, heir to the throne of the Munich and this is the beginning his journey.
From where do I start after this amazing read?
The plot is great both in construction and in its depth. The story starts with a flash forward to the present and then the reader is taken back in time in order to understand how the characters arrived at that point. The novel is told, in most part, from the perspective of young Valiant, smoothly moving to a third-person perspective in certain chapters. The rhythm of the story is perfect: the plot develops at a steady pace with enough action and adventure to keep the reader interest at all times. It creates a solid foundation for future books that might come, since it gives the perfect background of who the characters are and how they overcome enemies and grow, especially prince Valiant. Better than being just fast-paced it’s the level of suspense the author manages to maintain and develop throughout the pages and the fact that we go from a simple plot to something a lot more complex with each passing chapter.
The style of writing is mesmerising and it creates a perfect, solid narrative with no loose ends. The world that the author created is breath-taking and every element comes together beautifully, from the narrative settings and the colourful characters. The author has a great sensibility towards what the readers need to adapt to an event or character, something I consider a gift. I couldn’t put it down and I didn’t want to.
The characters are, for me, the best part of the novel; they are unique with their own personality traits and their own story. Despite the fact that there are quite of a number of them, the reader doesn’t get lost or loses track of who is who, especially when it comes to the people of the circus. All the characters are very likeable: Sebastian, the brave and faithful protector of the prince, whose loyalty and love knows no bounds; the kind owner of the circus, Konrad, that doesn’t hesitate in helping them and welcoming them into his family. I really enjoyed reading about the circus, it brings a feeling of nostalgia of sorts that got me even more involved in the story and it portraits perfectly the tricks and traits of what happens before and after the curtain opens and closes. Each character develops throughout the book and each has an impact in the story,
An action-packed, adventure fantasy novel that got me completely immersed and that I can highly recommend to all the fans of the genre.
I want to thank Chris Pridmore for reaching out and sending me a digital copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 5 Stars
I absolutely love and admire Miss Phyrne Fisher. A woman wise beyond her years with modern vision and temperament; what is there not to love?
The story starts as a murder mystery always starts: a death. A sweet, innocent fairy-story writer/illustrator is found dead. This time, Miss Fisher will jump into the world of magazine publishing and investigate deeply to find the truth. As the staff isn’t at all helpful, she works together with the police to see the matter solved and justice done. However, she is also involved in a second case, of a more personal nature. Her lover Lin Chung travelled to China a few weeks before and no one has heard from him since. In a family ruled by secrets and dark intents, will Miss Fisher be able to rescue her lover before it’s too late?
This was a deep and complex novel, just how I like them. There are two different plots in the story: the writer’s murder and the disappearance of Phyrne’s lover in China. The author did a great job in developing these two different cases in one story without them getting mixed up together or leaving loose endings. The first plot is steady-paced, very “according to the law” procedure (suspect interviews, taking evidence, analyzing patterns); but the second plot is where the juicy things happen. The tempo is a lot quicker, full of suspense and action. In addition, since it’s a more personal case, Miss Fisher works alone which makes things a lot more interesting.
The characters are memorable. I really enjoy Miss Phyrne Fisher as the main character, she is a force to be reckoned with. She has the determination of iron, she will do everything to protect the people she loves and lives by her own rules. She is a strong woman with a matching temper, not afraid to make her opinions known, to call out injustice and of breaking the rules every now and then. She is the opposite of what a woman should be back in 1928. Dot is a great companion and a lovely character too. Lin Chung is, as I imagine him, very handsome and sweet but at the same time, he hides a few secrets of his own. He’s daring and interesting which is why I enjoyed the chemistry between Phyrne and him so much.
A great read that I recommend to fans of strong female protagonists and of a great murder mystery!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Poisoned Pen Press, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A great read! A mix between different genres that blend perfectly together and with a style of writing that got me hooked from the beginning.
Arriving in a new school, Annie feels out of place. When she meets Elsie, she is forced to become her best friend. Her new friend soon begins to reveal that her character isn’t at all pleasant: she is controlling, spiteful and demanding, but at the same time, she is violently bullied. When Annie ends her relationship with Elsie and joins the opposition, things take a turn for the worse: Elsie dies of influenza… and she comes back to haunt Annie. How do you release a vengeful ghost when its anger is aimed at you?
This suspenseful novel is a page-turner with brilliant descriptions and amazing characters.
The setting was very well picked; the reader is taken back to 1918 during the World War I where political tension runs high, the talk of war is current and the Germans are considered the enemy. The descriptions allow the reader to live the story instead of just reading it. The storyline is solid and its depth reveals a few brutal events and behaviours that took place during that time. There is a mix of genres that is perfectly balanced and they all come together to create a historical ghost story.
The novel is fast-paced; I couldn’t find a moment it slowed down even for a moment, one of the reasons the book was so hard to put down.
The characters are the best element in the novel for me. They are very well developed and defined not only in behaviour but also in dialogue and their actions. I must admit I found it impressing that the author managed to do this with so many characters and not once lose track or diminish their presence in the story. Elsie is a character that I couldn’t help but sympathise with. In my opinion, her actions and behaviour come from her lack of attention and acceptance and her loneliness. If she never got anything positive out of human interaction, she wouldn’t know how to actually establish contact in a friendly way in the first place. She has a difficult character, but she was also a victim. Annie is a good main character and she struggles to fit in. In the end, she chooses to be part of the bullies group and it becomes her downfall. She does learn from it though, which was a satisfying point personally. Annie and Elsie are the pole opposites of each other both in personality and behaviour, like good and evil. However, I think the point of the author is that none is really good and no one is really evil, at least not without good reason.
A great read, one that I recommend to all the fans of a good ghost story with historical highlights.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Clarion Books. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A collection of memorable short stories featuring all the Queen of Mystery’s beloved characters: Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and Parker Pyne. I was very glad to find it on the shelve of my local library ready for the taking.
In this novel the titles present are:
All the stories show the brilliant mind of Agatha Christie and her great plots full of twists and hidden motives. From tales of greed, thirst for money, revenge, jealousy and betrayal, Christie covers all the themes she is famous for and does it in the style that all the fans are familiar with.
The disadvantage of the short stories is the lack of character development and the limited descriptions of the setting, but even so, Christie made it work by going straight to the point and the stories are all very engaging. Being a fan of Hercule Poirot above all the Christie’s characters, my favourite story is The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest, the almost-perfect murder. I will definitely read more about Parker Pyne, he revealed himself to be a mysterious detective with a unique way of thinking that got me intrigued from the beginning.
A short collection that I recommend if you’re looking for a quick Agatha Christie read!
My Rating: 5 Stars
A great historical/mystery novel! It was the first time I read about the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke and it captivated me from the very beginning.
Andrea Warren is haunted by the suicide of her father while searching for the coffins of Beechland a group of 117 people that went mysteriously missing in 1590. Being a young archaeologist, Andrea takes on her father’s path only to discover that her attention is very much unwanted. Someone is trying to stop her from discovering one of the biggest mysteries of the American culture but with what purpose? Can she finish what she started without losing her life?
Deborah Dunn did a great work in presenting so much historical details and research throughout the novel. It fits perfectly with the story and it made it believable, especially when put together with her own opinion of what might have happened. The mystery that is built around the legend is solid and it kept me captivated all the way through. The approach the author takes in presenting past events through dreams and visions is brilliant. No questions are left unanswered and no strings are left loose.
The descriptions are amazing. The details are so realistic that I could actually see, feel and smell what Andrea sees in her visions. Furthermore, there are the descriptions of the landscape. North Caroline both in the present and the past were described in a way that made me want to visit. The images of the small towns along the coast are mesmerising.
In the beginning, the reader is given a timeline with the known events and their dates of Roanoke; it gave me a first introduction to the theme of the novel. In the end of the novel, the author gives a clear image to the reader of what is real, what is fictional and a small bibliography if there is further interest, details that truly make the difference for me.
It’s an incredible, captivating and thrilling novel that I highly recommend to the fans of a good historical mystery.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Createspace Independent Publishing Platform. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A brilliant novel! Thrilling, a bit creepy and very intriguing novel: a promising start for a new series!
Julie Hall has had a tough life: abused by her grandmother in her childhood and cursed with the ability to find dead bodies with her dousing rods, she just wants to blend in and have a normal life with her grandfather and her dog Wookie. At the same time, a serial killer is on the loose, leaving the bodies of young women behind with very little evidence. When an FBI agent called Garrett Pierce comes knocking asking for her help, Julie has to use the ability that she was raised to believe to be evil in order to prevent other killings. As the killer gets wind of Julie, Garrett vows to protect her… but will it be enough?
Grave Calling is highly engaging and addictive. The story-line is very well-developed and constructed, full of twists and turns and a perfect ending with a very unlikely killer. I really enjoyed how the author jumped from the past to the present, it was done beautifully and it was very easy to follow the story without losing myself or the details.
Julie is a great main character and a very unlikely heroine all things considered. The abuse she suffered in her childhood is heart-breaking and the fact that she still struggles with it gives her depth as a character, it makes her more real. Her past has a direct influence in the story, not only because it shapes her, but also because it emphases her struggles to deal with the killings and the bodies she finds. It was a bit agonising to read to be honest. Even so, she has no problems in speaking her mind and definitely not afraid to take on a serial killer. Garrett is a great male protagonist and he has his share of suffering and of bad memories which makes the partnership with Julie a great one, they understand and comfort each other. I really enjoyed reading about their developing relationship and their chemistry. Despite the age difference, they are great together. The secondary characters complement the story very nicely, especially Julie’s friend Katie.
This was my first read of Wendy Roberts and I highly recommend Grave Calling for the fans of cosy mysteries with a bit of spice and a lot of twists and surprises. A great thrilling read!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Carina Press. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This was the first mystery novel I have read involving medicine and organ transplant. I’m really glad I got to have this first experience with Cut by Amy Peele. This serves as a reminder that we should always try new things!
Sarah Golden is a renowned transplant nurse and her life runs smoothly, until she uncovers a very dangerous game being played at the hospital. When bodies start piling up, Sarah turns to her crazy best friend Jackie Larsen, former nurse and a stay at-home mom, to dig further into the matter. What they find is a deadly game: rich and powerful people are buying their way up to the transplant list, getting rid of “problems” as they come, being very careful not to leave any traces. Can they bring down this network or will they be “erased” too?
I was instantly curious about the title and the plot of the story, but I wasn’t expecting being completely taken by the story and for it to be impossible to put down! Wow!
First of all, the novel is very well researched: the details of the medical community, the transplant procedures and the nursing routines are full of detail. I can see that the author has a background in nursing and the knowledge that makes these details more personal than taken out of a medical book.
The story-line is fast paced, full of twists, suspense and humour. Peele ’s managed to create a novel that is perfectly balanced in terms of plot. There is plenty of suspense and action but also a spark of witty conversations and humour that readers with crazy friends will understand very well.
I loved the relationship and the dynamics between Sarah and Jackie. What a chemistry they have! I expected their verbal confrontations with enthusiasm. Sarah is a strong woman that isn’t afraid to put herself out there to help people and do the right thing. I felt that she took a bit more the part of main character since she is the one that first realizes something is amiss in the hospital and the waiting list. She is a very likeable character, very human. Jackie, the other main character, has her own unique shine that complements Sarah very well. Jackie is a great character and her love for her family is a breath of fresh air in the middle of all the craziness. Her nursing background also comes in handy and their partnership and friendship made me smile several times throughout the novel. As for other characters: handsome Sergio with a long line of women behind him despite his cold attitude and his partner Amanda. I think they make the plot a bit more interesting and of course they are the obvious targets of suspicion and investigation. But are they really guilty?
I thoroughly enjoyed this reading, I grew addicted to it and it was impossible to put down. I wait in anticipation for Ms. Peele ’s next novel! I highly recommend it to fans of mysteries.
I want to thank the publicist Kris Verdeck and the author Amy Peele for reaching out and allowing me to review this novel.
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.