Review: Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

Anatomy: A Love StoryAnatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In 1817-Edinburgh, Hazel Sinnett’s desire to be a surgeon is far from the norm. Seriously, a woman being a surgeon?

It’s true. It was the times. Women of a certain standing were meant to look pretty, take on inconsequential hobbies, be quiet and care for a husband and household.

Hazel isn’t interested in all that, but unfortunately, she knows the realities of her circumstance. In order to protect her position within society, she will need to be married.

In a way, Hazel is lucky. She’s been betrothed to her cousin Bertrand since the two were children. They’ve known each other forever and get along quite well.

Hazel feels that Bertrand may even learn to understand her passion with anatomy and helping people. At least that is what she hopes.

Jack Currer is a resurrection man, digging up recently deceased bodies and selling them to doctors and anatomists within the city.

It’s a dangerous job, but when Jack’s main source of income, his position at a local theater, gets taken away due to circumstances outside of his control, he has no other choice. Jack doesn’t come from wealth and has no family nest to crawl back into.

When their mutual arts of dealing with the dead bring them into contact with one another, Jack and Hazel are each set on a new course that will change their lives.

Anatomy: A Love Story reminded me a lot of my time spent with Down Comes the Night last year. Not because of its content, but because of its darkly gothic vibe that pleasantly took me by surprise.

I really enjoyed this. It had just the right ‘romance to darker bits’ ratio for my taste.

There is mystery, intrigue and a very slow-burn romance. Jack and Hazel are from different worlds, but together they work. They support one another in a way that neither of them have ever experienced before.

It was so comfortable watching their relationship blossom. It seriously filled my heart.

Another strong comparison would be to Stalking Jack the Ripper. Again, not so much for the content, but for the overall vibe.

Hazel is compelling, she doesn’t back down to convention. I always love that. Jack has a good heart in spite of his chosen profession. We stan a bad boy with a heart of gold. They shouldn’t work, but you know you’re going to root for them.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I was really impressed with this and look forward to reading more from Dana Schwartz.

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Review: The Orphan of Cemetery Hill by Hester Fox

The Orphan of Cemetery HillThe Orphan of Cemetery Hill by Hester Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Tabby can communicate with spirits. She developed this gift at quite a young age and after her parents passed away, she and her sister, Alice, were taken in by their Aunt, who was well aware of Tabby’s blossoming talent.

Seances had grown in popularity in the first half of the 1800s and Aunt Bellefonte wished to use Tabby’s gift in order to make herself rich.

Obviously, anyone who would exploit a recently orphaned child that way, is not a character we can get behind.

Unsurprisingly, Tabby and Alice flee their Aunt’s household and make their way to downtown Boston, a bustling metropolis, where the girls hope they’ll be able to blend into the crowd and avoid their Aunt ever finding them again.

The girls weren’t really prepared for how busy and large the city actually was, however, and they end up getting separated. Without any means to find each other, the girls must do whatever they can individually to survive.

For Tabby, that means ingratiating herself to the steward of a large Boston cemetery, Eli. Over the years, she becomes for all intents and purposes, his daughter, helping him with the general maintenance and other duties.

Things get dark when a string of grave robberies begin to plague the city and a young man Tabby is fond of is accused of committing a dasterdly act, for which Tabby knows he cannot possibly be responsible.

Tabby must tap into her gift, which she has kept buried for so long, in order to try to get to the bottom of both mysteries. Little does she know, they’re all connected in one wild and wicked web.

Set in 1844, Boston, The Orphan of Cemetery Hill is steeped in the broody historical atmosphere I have grown to love from Hester Fox.

The gothic feel, paired with her likable characters, always make for an enjoyable story.

While I didn’t become quite as invested in this one as I have with some of her earlier work, I definitely really enjoyed reading it.

I loved the setting of Boston and the historical topics explored, particularly the robbing of graves for the use in medical and scientific exploration, as well as the popularity of seances at the time. Both of those things made this an intriguing premise indeed.

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Hester Fox. I will continue to pick up anything she releases until the end of time.

This novel, as is standard for her style, is perfect for this time of year; giving off all those chilly, creepy Autumnal vibes!

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Review: Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

Within These Wicked WallsWithin These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Andromeda, known as Andi, is a debtera; essentially, an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. Raised by a man named Jember, who Andi considers to be her father, she was trained by one of the best.

Jember is well known for his exceptional abilities as a debtera, but he’s paid for them; left with chronic pain and disability after previous jobs.

Andi and Jember have a complicated relationship. No matter how much she seeks his love and acceptance, she never seems to get it.

Thus, she finds herself at the cusp of adulthood on her own. She needs to start making her own way. When she gets offered a position to cleanse the mysterious Rochester household of a crippling case of the Evil Eye, she accepts.

The Rochester home is her first big commission on her own and obviously, she’s anxious about it. It doesn’t help that Andi quickly realizes this is a massive job; with horrifying manifestations around every corner.

The master of the house, Magnus Rochester, is charming and endearing, but also a bit of a rascal. Andi feels an almost instant attraction to him. Frankly, it would be hard not to be.

She vows to herself to do everything she possibly can to help him, even if it means putting her own life at risk.

Within These Wicked Walls is a debut Fantasy from author, Lauren Blackwood. Described as an Ethiopian-inspired retelling of Jane Eyre, this novel delivered exactly what I was hoping for.

I really enjoyed this story. The atmosphere was fantastic, dripping with danger and dark gothic vibes. Andi was an incredible main character to follow; I felt like I could really get behind her.

Magnus, as well, was a delight to read. I wanted to help him as much as Andi did; he was in so much trouble when she came to him. The stakes were extremely high and time was of the essence.

Andi’s life had not been easy. All the poor thing wanted was someone to love her; to feel like she belonged to someone, somewhere. It actually broke my heart a wee bit.

In spite of everything, she had such a capacity to give love and I wanted that for her. With this being said, the relationship between Andi and Magnus does tread a bit into Instalove territory; so, if this is a problem for you, you’ve been forewarned.

I didn’t mind it. I thought their banter was adorable and I was rooting for them.

I did find some of the magic system, for example, how Andi was working her amulets in order to cleanse the Evil Eye, a little confusing. Also, there were moments when I felt the narrative dragged just a little, or scenes became repetitive.

For the most part, though, those tiny things really didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the story. This is an absolutely excellent debut.

It’s compelling from the start and the narrative solidly delivers what the synopsis promised. I definitely recommend this one for your Spooky Season TBR!

Thank you so much to Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio for providing me with copies to read and review.

I cannot wait to read more from Lauren Blackwood in the future. Exceptional debut!!!

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Review: The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

The Death of Jane LawrenceThe Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Jane Shoringfield is a practical, independent woman, but she unfortunately lives in a time when that is sort of frowned upon; when it is expected for all women to marry and care for a home.

In order to best get by, Jane decides she does need to find a husband, yes, but she wants it to be a marriage of convenience. One where she will still be able to work and maintain a portion of her current independence.

She sets her sights on a handsome, yet reclusive, doctor, Augustine Lawrence.

Jane presents her plan to the good doctor and to her surprise, he accepts. He does have one condition, however, that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his decreipt manor on the outskirts of town.

Jane agrees, but when a freak accident strands her on the manor steps in the middle of night, Augustine must relent and let her in.

Jane is disturbed by the state she finds him in. He seems a different man, scared and paranoid. What is going on here?

By morning, Augustine seems to be back to his old self. Now that Jane has been introduced to the sinister mystery of Lindridge Hall, however, she wants to know more.

What makes this place so frighteningly special to Augustine and why didn’t he want her here?

As Jane goes deeper into her husband’s history, as well as that of Lindridge Hall, she is introduced to whole new worlds she never even knew existed.

The Death of Jane Lawrence has a super intriguing premise. It’s dripping in dark, gothic atmosphere and for that, I applaud it.

I appreciated the incorporation of occult ideas explored, as well as the build-up to the craziness.

With this being said, it got a little too crazy for my tastes. It felt too addled; like a non-stop fever dream. There was almost too much going on to be able to sink in and enjoy that rich gothic atmosphere. It just lost me.

I will admit to being a bit let down by this one. I was so looking forward to it and wish I could have connected with it more.

In spite of my slight criticisms, Starling’s writing style is quite pleasing. It has a nice flow and as mentioned before, it definitely delivers on atmosphere. I know a lot of Readers are really going to love this one.


Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies of this to read and review.

The narrator for the audiobook is fantastic, so I definitely would recommend giving it a listen if you have that option!

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Review: Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Summer SonsSummer Sons by Lee Mandelo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Andrew and Eddie were best friends, closer than brothers. Their level of attachment to one another went above and beyond what you would even expect of the closest of friends.

When Eddie left Andrew behind to begin his graduate studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, it was unsurprisingly a tough transition. At least from Andrew’s perspective.

Six months later, just before Andrew was getting ready to join Eddie in Nashville, Andrew receives news that Eddie has died, an apparent suicide.

Now Andrew has inherited Eddie’s house in Nashville, complete with a roommate he doesn’t know, or necessarily want. Andrew is also left with the haunting suspicion that Eddie’s death isn’t as cut and dry as the authorities are making it out to be.

As Andrew begins to settle into the Nashville house, becoming involved in Eddie’s University studies and his friend group, he learns there was a whole side to Eddie he didn’t know.

Street racing, hot boys, late nights, hard drugs, ominious topics of study and dark family secrets; Andrew doesn’t understand how all of this could have been going on with Eddie without him knowing it.

The deeper he gets into Eddie’s secrets, the more out of control he feels. Not helping matters is the strange presence haunting him, wanting to possess him.

Summer Sons is a Queer Southern Gothic story incoporating a cut-throat academic setting with the dangerous and exciting world of street racing. With this description in mind, this should have been a great fit for my tastes.

I did get some of the Southern Gothic vibes I was hoping for, as well as a desirable level of angst and grief. I also got a touch of academic atmosphere. Unfortunately, I also got bored and confused.

I did end up listening to the audiobook, which I actually feel is the only way I was able to get through it. I may have given up otherwise.

The narrator was fantastic. I loved how he had the accent to fit the story; that’s always a plus for me. I definitely recommend if you are interested in checking this one out, that you give the audiobook a go.

Overall, I think this just wasn’t the story for me. The writing is strong, and I can get behind the ideas that set the foundation of the story, the execution just fell flat for me.

I know a lot of Readers are going to absolutely adore this story, however, you can tell that already by the reviews!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

I am glad I gave this one a shot and look forward to seeing what else Mandelo comes up with in the future.

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Review: The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon

The Drowning KindThe Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sisters, Jax and Lexie, the x-girls, were fairly close when they were growing up. They spent every summer at their Grandmother’s property in Vermont and have a lot of great memories from that time.

Lexie, the older of the two, was different than Jax, however, in a lot of ways. Lexie was more like their father, flighty, free-spirited and at times, manic.

The older the girls got, the more apparent the differences in their personalities became. It was clear that Lexie’s mental health was not well. She struggled to remain rooted in reality. It became a real problem for her.

Jax was always the more grounded of the two. She followed the rules, excelled in school and became a social worker. Over the past year, she’s also been estranged from her sister.

When Jax receives nine calls from Lexie one night, none of which she answers, she assumes her sister is just having another one of her episodes.

The increasingly frantic messages Lexie leaves don’t even make sense. Jax isn’t dealing with it. Not her problem.

The following day Jax receives news that Lexie is dead; drowned in the pool on their Grandmother’s estate, Sparrow’s Crest, which Lexie had inherited.

Jax is shocked. Why didn’t she pick up the phone when Lexie called? Heart-broken and full of regret, Jax makes the journey to Vermont to bury her sister and settled up her affairs.

Once there, reunited with family, including her Aunt and Father, Jax discovers that Lexie had been researching the history of their family and the property.

It turns out Sparrow’s Crest has a dark past and it could possibly be linked to Lexie’s death. Jax dives into the research herself, mostly centering around the property’s infamous pool and the natural spring it is fed from.

As with Jennifer McMahon’s other stories, The Drowning Kind follows two timelines. The present, mentioned above, and then a historical perspective focusing on the history of the property.

The more the Reader learns from the historical perspective, the more the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place for Jax. It is such a spectacular format. The pace is excellent!

I have found that sometimes when an author tries this dual timeline format, one of the perspectives will be more interesting than the other. Because of that, you rush through one perspective in order to return to the other.

That is definitely not the case here. Both the present and past timelines are equally foreboding and intriguing. I was fully committed to both.

Another aspect of McMahon’s work that I always enjoy is her sense of place. Sparrow’s Crest is a character. It is so well developed, you can almost hear it talking to you.

The idea that places remember, that pieces of history live on through the land and the structures upon them. I love that whole concept and it is tangible within this story.

In short, this is a phenomenally constructed multi-generational ghost story that will stick with me for a long time.

The ending, chills. Exceptionally well done. I can certainly say I didn’t see it coming!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Audio, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I highly recommend it and cannot wait to see what McMahon comes up with next!

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Review: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Down Comes the NightDown Comes the Night by Allison Saft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wren Southerland is a magical healer and the niece of the Queen, but that hasn’t won her any favors. In fact, her Aunt treats her very poorly.

After Wren’s empathy causes her to make a mistake on the battlefield, she gets banished from the Queen’s Guard and sent back to live in a remote abbey.

Most upsettingly, this causes Wren to be separated from her best friend, Una, a Captain in the Queen’s Guard. She also happens to be the woman Wren loves.

Wren is kicking herself for her mistake and just trying to figure out a way back to Una. Certainly her Aunt will find it in her heart to forgive her.

While at the abbey, stewing in her misery, Wren receives a letter from Lord Alistair Lowry, inviting her to his home, in order to help him with a little problem.

His servants are sick and dying from a mysterious illness. One man is still alive, suffering and he wants Wren to try to heal him before it is to late.

She considers it a great opportunity and decides to take him up on his offer, traveling to the neighboring kingdom of Cernos, to Lowry’s estate of Colwick Hall.

((cue the gothic ambiance))

Her movements weren’t exactly approved by the Queen, so Wren finds herself a bit of an Outlaw. In her eyes, it is worth it though.

Shockingly, her new patient turns out to be someone she knows. Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria, her kingdom’s sworn enemy.

There’s political gains to be made here. Perhaps Wren can still work her way into the Queen’s good graces and be reunited with Una.

As she begins to get to know Hal, however, she starts to question a lot of her previous beliefs. Soon, Wren and Hal are working together to solve a murder mystery chilling enough for even the sturdiest of characters.

Down Comes the Night was such a pleasant surprise. A great debut for Saft!

There were so many aspects to this that I enjoyed, but first and foremost would be the atmosphere. Colwick Hall felt like the creepy, gothic mansion of my dreams. Reading this, I felt like I was there. I could smell it, feel the cold and dread what was hiding in every shadow.

Hal and Wren working together, watching their relationship evolve, was fantastic. They were complete opposites, but grew to understand and appreciate each other because of that.

I was genuinely afraid for them. The dangers they faced as the explored the secrets of Colwick Hall were palpable.

I also thought the magic was well done. Wren’s work as a magic-based healer was quite detailed and I liked that it was a bit on the gruesome side.

Saft definitely didn’t shy away from blood and gore, so if you enjoy that, as I do, you should definitely check this one out. You know who you are.

Overall, I think this is a very fun standalone YA Fantasy. There were a few little things that didn’t work as well for my tastes, but they were definitely overshadowed by the aspects I enjoyed.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I had a great time with it and look forward to reading more from Allison Saft!

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Review: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

The Wife UpstairsThe Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-star**

Channeling the naturally gothic atmosphere of the American South, The Wife Upstairs puts a decidedly modern twist on a beloved classic.

Jane Bell is new to Alabama. Living on the outskirts of the posh neighborhood of Thornfield Estates, Jane originally works in a coffee shop, but then takes up dog-walking for the wealthy families within Thornfield.

She begins to learns the ins-and-outs of their lifestyle, envying and occasionally taking a little something for herself.

Jane is especially interested in the largest and most opulent property of all, imagining what it would be like to live there.

Once she meets the homeowner, a handsome young Widower, Eddie Rochester, things begin to change quite quickly for Jane.

As she and Eddie start a relationship, Jane can’t help but be curious about his late-wife, Bea, whose presence is still very much felt in his life.

The more she learns about Bea, the more she wonders what Eddie sees in her?

When questions begin to arise about Bea’s death, Jane becomes even more suspicious of the man she believes she is falling in love with.

Full of small town gossip and drama, this story was a cleverly-plotted, modern-interpretation of Jane Eyre. While I have never read Jane Eyre, after this, I really want to!

I really enjoyed how Hawkins gave us alternating perspectives between present-time, Jane, and past-Bea. The evolution of the story was very nicely done.

These perspective shifts also made the reveals fun and fast-paced.

Even though most of us know the basic outline of this story, I enjoyed where Hawkins took it.

In particular, I enjoyed how morally grey, Jane was. She’s not a helpless Ingenue looking for a savior. She is clearly a girl who can take care of herself. I loved that.

If you are in the mood for a fast, super-fun domestic suspense novel, look no further. Pick this book up and enjoy the show!

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with copy of this to read and review. I appreciate it so much and look forward to Hawkins writing more in the Adult space!

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Review: Eventide by Sarah Goodman

EventideEventide by Sarah Goodman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

In 1907, Verity Pruitt and her little sister, Lilah, arrive in Wheeler, Arkansas, aboard an orphan train.

The girl’s mother has passed away and their father, apparently suffering from overwhelming grief, has been committed to an asylum.

With no family to take them in, the girls become wards of the state, in spite of the fact that Verity is close to turning eighteen.

When they arrive in Arkansas, it is clear that a family is already waiting for Lilah, but poor Verity will not be going with them.

She does still luck out though, as an amazing family is willing to take her in and they live only a couple of miles from Lilah’s new home.

Of course, Verity’s position is more as a farmhand initially, than an adopted child. She’s okay with that though, a little hard work never hurt anybody.

As Verity settles in at her new home, enjoying her work on the farm and her new friendships, she discovers that something lurks in the woods surrounding the town.

It’s unsettling the things she sees as she accidentally ventures into the woods one night.

As she works to uncover the truth behind the strange things she has seen and experienced, Verity begins to uncover some truths about her own family instead.

Goodman definitely succeeded at bringing a fun, creepy atmosphere to this historical fiction tale.

I really enjoyed the setting and the cast of characters.

Some of the plot was a bit too simple for my tastes, as well as slightly campy towards the end, but it was still a quick, enjoyable read!

I definitely recommend this to readers who like the idea of a creepy read, but they don’t actually want to be scared.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Teen, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

As a debut, this is impressive. I look forward to reading more from Sarah Goodman. I hope she stays in this lane. It works for her!

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Review: The Nesting by C.J. Cooke

The NestingThe Nesting by C.J. Cooke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Lexi is at rock bottom. Her life has never been easy, but at this point, she has days where she would rather not be alive.

After her long-term relationship ends and her best friend basically tells her that she has become too much too deal with, Lexi knows she must find a way to make a new life for herself.

Riding a train one day, she overhears a conversation that provides her the opportunity to do just that.

Stealing a woman named Sophie’s identity, Lexi applies for a position as a nanny for a wealthy widower and his two young daughters. The best part is, the post is in the beautiful country of Norway.

She’s astounded to learn that she has been hired on. Obviously, she’s also nervous. She has a lot to pull off.

Lexi, now Sophie, knows absolutely nothing about home-schooling, infants or any other general duties of being a nanny.

From the very first day, she’s quickly swept up into the lives of the other staff members, Derry, Clive and Maron; the two children, Gaia and Coco, and the handsome widower, Tom.

The house itself, is a drafty, historic home that the family resides in temporarily while Tom and Clive construct the main event: Aurelia’s Nest.

As her days inside the house go on, Sophie begins to hear and see strange things.

She also starts to learn about Tom’s deceased wife, Aurelia, and the days leading up to her apparent suicide.

Interspersed throughout the story, we do get some chapters told from Aurelia’s perspective.

Sophie also stumbles across a diary that appears to be Aurelia’s, so she gets a little bit of glimpse into her life as well, which causes her to come to some startling conclusions regarding Tom and Aurelia’s marriage.

I enjoyed my time with this novel. The beginning felt very An Anonymous Girl meets Turn of the Key, but once the narrative arrives in Norway, it really takes on a life of its own.

Cooke excels at setting the atmosphere; a perfect Autumnal read. This entire novel is dripping with a cold, dark, ominous feeling throughout.

Part ghost story, part domestic drama, part ecological horror story, there’s also a lovely sprinkling of Norwegian folklore to sink your teeth into.

While I enjoyed many aspects of this story, I also felt like there were a few too many plot holes, as well as aspects that felt too much like other stories I have read recently.

However, with this being said, overall, this is a captivating book. I would absolutely read anything else C.J. Cooke writes. She definitely has a style I am interested in watching grow.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. As always, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

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