Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican GothicMexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

When Neomi Taboada’s father asks her to go check on her recently married cousin, Catalina, she really doesn’t want to. Why her? She’s got so much going on in the city.

Catalina currently resides at a remote manor home, known as High Place, with her husband, Virgil’s, family.

As posh as that sounds, according to Catalina’s desperate letters, the home is a desolate wasteland where she is currently very unwell, or else is in incredible danger.

Neomi’s father urges her to go and check on Catalina’s health and living conditions. When urging doesn’t work, he bribes her.

Neomi wants nothing more than to attend University, so that’s exactly the carrot he dangles in front of her.

Before you know it, Neomi is packing her bag and heading to High Place.

Once there, Neomi immediately feels at odds with Virgil’s stuffy, overly proper family. She is a modern, society-girl, who is used to having her own way, or at least being able to have a conversation over dinner.

In addition to the regimented, claustrophobic feel of the house itself, Neomi begins feeling spooked out by her surroundings and dreaming frightening things. Something is definitely going on here.

Her interactions with Virgil and his family get more disturbing as the days go by, until Neomi doesn’t fear just for Catalina’s well-being, but also her own.

Y’all, I was highly anticipating this novel. I have really enjoyed previous works from Moreno-Garcia and the gothic vibes of this are totally my jam.

While there is no denying that Moreno-Garcia’s writing is lush and captivating, something about the pace of this was off for me.

The premise is super intriguing, the atmosphere was top notch, but for me, the characters were not as well developed as I would of liked. I feel like I should have been attached to Neomi, but I just wasn’t.

The horror elements were interesting. I found the ideas behind that aspect intriguing for sure.

There were also scenes that legit grossed me out. I may even have gagged once or twice. I am telling you, Uncle Howard. The descriptions. I had to take a shower after.

Overall, this is a good book, bordering on really good for me. I think if this pace wasn’t so variant from lull to extreme intensity, I could have enjoyed it more.

I hope that Moreno-Garcia continues in this lane though. This gothic horror is fantastic for her writing style. I’m on board for anything else she writes, believe that.

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Review: Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Moody, dark and secretive, just like me.

Ninth House was a delightfully intriguing start to the all-new, Alex Stern series by Leigh Bardugo.

I have been fascinated by the idea of this book for a while. What’s not to love about the Yale campus, secret societies and magic.

On a recent road trip, I finally decided to give this one a shot.

I have to say, while I really enjoyed the audiobook, particularly the two narrators, I think I may have enjoyed it even more if I had read a hard copy.

I feel like I may have been able to concentrate more on the story if I had been holding the book in my hands and there’s a lot to take in here.

A lot of details regarding the setting of the Yale campus, the magic system, the lore of the secret societies, as well as back and forth timelines, I think just got lost somewhere around mile marker 50.

I was intrigued by Alex’s character. Here was a girl who had a rough start at life, raised by a hippie Mom in California, who ends up at one of the most elite institutions in the world.

After a close call that could have ended her life, Alex instead ends up being offered a seat in the Freshman class at Yale, but why? Her academic transcript certainly wasn’t recommending her for the slot.

Regardless of any trauma experienced in her life, Alex is a survivor and a fighter. I loved that about her.

When she starts at Yale, Alex gets tapped for Lethe House; the ninth of the secret societies at Yale and the one with the closest ties to the occult.

It’s also the responsibility of Lethe House to oversee the other houses to ensure there are no bad actors.

Alex, as it turns out, is well-suited for her new house, as she has an arcane ability she has been struggling with her entire life. This allows her a close connection to the spiritual underworld surrounding her.

Essentially a murder mystery, this novel offers up a lot of darker real world topics for consideration as well.

One of these topics that I found extremely interesting, was the great amount of privilege on the Yale campus, and the way uneven power dynamics can contribute to an extremely harmful environment.

There is also quite a bit on page of drug abuse, sexual assault and rape culture in general. If you are sensitive to these topics, I would tread cautiously.

With this being said, I was impressed overall with Bardugo’s transition to the Adult space. This is definitely an Adult novel. There are some real dark scenes in here and frankly, I am glad that she went as dark as she did.

It made this seedy underbelly of a privileged world seem so incredibly real.

I think as the series progresses the stories will continue to get stronger and stronger.

I may even read this one again, my hard copy, before the second novel is released.

I would love to experience this entire story in a more controlled environment than an SUV whizzing down the highway.

Also, does anyone else want to go snoop around New Haven in the middle of the night now, or just me?

The atmosphere, as always with Bardugo, was really something to behold; loved that aspect so much. I am really looking forward to getting back into this world when the next book releases!

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Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Home Before DarkHome Before Dark by Riley Sager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

RILEY SAGER!!!

He has done it again, and actually, I think this is his best work yet!!!

Loved. Loved. Loved.

Perhaps I should throw together some coherent thoughts? Yeah, let’s try.

Upon the death of her father, Maggie Holt, is shocked to discover she has just inherited Baneberry Hall, the allegedly haunted mansion her and her parents abandoned some 25-years earlier.

Quite literally fleeing in the middle of the night, her parents refused to ever return to the property. Her father then published a best-selling non-fiction account of their time there. As you do.

For Maggie’s part, she remembers nothing of her time at Baneberry. Of course, she was just 5-years old and apparently her little mind wiped the slate clean after they departed.

She has read her father’s book, House of Horrors, numerous times, but doesn’t believe a word of it. Her parents, whose relationship didn’t survive the Book, wouldn’t tell her anything, even though she pleaded with them frequently to do so.

Returning all these years later, Maggie hopes to piece together a bit of the truth while she is renovating the home for sale.

As soon as she steps foot on the Baneberry property, however, she’s knows it is not going to be as easy as she had hoped.

Alternating between Maggie’s current perspective and full chapters from House of Horrors was an absolutely delightful way to read this story. I loved how Sager set that up.

The pacing was perfection!

I was so engaged with this throughout. It got into my mind.

I was racing towards the conclusion trying to discover how much of House of Horrors was the truth.

Baneberry Hall was such a presence in the story. It was ominous and creepy AF.

I can’t imagine being Maggie and actually staying there on my own!

Home Before Dark is without a doubt going to be on my top books of the year list!

If you haven’t read anything by Sager yet and are wondering where to start, I highly recommend giving this one a shot. I think it is a perfect example of his style.

If you have read Sager before, and are a fan, what are you waiting for!?

I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next!

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Review: Duma Key by Stephen King

Duma KeyDuma Key by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Duma Key has climbed the ranks and officially entered my ‘Top 5 Kings’ List. This is quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself.

Edgar Freemantle is a successful businessman.

Living with his wife of 20+ years in Minnesota, they have raised two healthy girls and have a good life. A solid life.

This is, until the day Edgar is involved in a horrific accident on one of his construction sites.

Crushed by a piece of heavy equipment, he is lucky to be alive, although losing his right arm, injuring his hip and scrambling his brain doesn’t seem so lucky to him immediately after the fact.

His recovery is extremely difficult, putting a lot of strain on his marriage, with him and Pam ultimately separating.

His psychologist, Dr. Kamen, suggests perhaps a change of scenery would be best for his recovery efforts, as well as a hobby. Edgar figures, why not? He has the money, what is he sticking around Minnesota for?

He rents a beach house on a remote, undeveloped piece of land on the Florida coast, Duma Key. The house, something of an artist’s retreat, is perfect for him, as he is feeling like doing some sketching himself.

Edgar begins to settle in and does indeed begin to create amazing art.

He’s unsure where some of it is coming from. He just seems to be compelled. The drawings and paintings pour out of him at an incredible rate, becoming more intricate and astounding as he progresses.

During this time, he makes a new friend while out for one of his daily beach walks. Jerome Wireman lives at the big house on Duma Key, caring for its aging lady of the house, Elizabeth Eastlake.

It is mainly through these characters that Edgar begins to learn of the dark history and lore of Duma Key and the Eastlake family.

However, Duma has a lot to say itself and that’s when things really start to get dangerous.

There is so much to love about this story. I knew absolutely zero about it going in. I don’t even think I ever read a full synopsis.

I was delighted as the story unfolded. The relationships, as is to be expected with King, were so deep and well done. The friendship between Edgar and Wireman is easily one of the best I have ever read.

In my opinion, King is great with this type of human dynamics. Further, I really appreciate how none of the relationships in this story were romantic.

It’s friendship, it’s family, and none of them are perfect, but they’re all so real and compelling.

Duma Key itself was incredibly well done. He has such a sense of place, always incorporating the idea that places remember; pieces of history live on through the lifeblood of the land and structures themselves.

You see this type of idea a lot throughout King’s works, from this one, to The Shining, Pet Sematary and everything in between.

Overall, I could wax poetic about this novel for hours. There is so much to unpack with this story. It’s extremely intricate, I would love to read it again someday and most likely will.

If you are a Constant Reader and haven’t picked this up yet, delay no more. It’s a stunner!

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Review: The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni

The AncestorThe Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Alberta ‘Bert’ Monte receives a letter telling her she is the sole heir to a large fortune, including a gothic castle in Italy, she thinks it must be some sort of hoax.

Upon further investigation however, she discovers it is true. Why her parents would keep such a thing secret from her, she cannot imagine.

Before she knows it, she and her estranged husband, Luca, are being whisked away on a private plane to Turin. There she will meet with the estate’s attorneys to discuss the full parameters of her inheritance.

Once there, Bert and Luca are taken with the enchanting atmosphere of the city. They seem to be on the brink of reconciliation, when a brief quarrel finds them separated again.

The next day, Luca is nowhere to be found. He must have left the city, but Bert has no time to figure it out, she is on her way to the mysterious castle to meet her Grandfather’s sister-in-law, Dolores, who is very much alive.

Dolores wants to meet her and teach her more about her family history. Considering she knows next to nothing about her ancestors, she is willing to give it a go.

Arriving at the castle, Bert is hesitant to stay. It is so remote, with little to no contact with the outside world. Add to this the horrifying legends she has heard about creatures living in the surrounding mountains, and you have a perfect mix for an uncomfortable family holiday.

A strange set of events unfold that find Bert scared for her life. Will she ever leave the castle of Montebianco? Will her dark family secrets be the end of her? Will she ever see Luca again?

All of this had me hooked. Not to mention, Trussoni’s writing is super compelling!

I was flipping through these pages so fast, anxiously anticipating the truth behind the Montebianco family.

There were so many twists along the way, with a dark intensity that kept me fully engaged. Then there was a turn in the story unlike any I have ever read before…

And I got to say, my interest sort of fell of a cliff with it. My reason is not so much the content, but it felt like the whole tone of the novel shifted.

Prior to this event, the book is an intriguing tale of gothic suspense with deeply held family secrets. Post-event it meanders into a textbook-style cultural anthropology field experiment.

Obviously, this is 100% my opinion and even with this being said, just because I was less interested in the last quarter of the book, it is still a good book!

If the premise sounds interesting, if you need a way to escape from life for a while, you should definitely check this one out!

Plus, aren’t you curious about what the plot twist is…

Overall, this is a hella unique book with some great gothic atmosphere. I look forward to hearing other reader’s thoughts on this one.

Thank you so much to the author, Danielle Trussoni, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion and had a fun time reading it!

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Review: Blood Countess by Lana Popovic

Blood Countess (Lady Slayers #1)Blood Countess by Lana Popovińá
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Anna Darvulia, daughter of a peasant midwife, gets summoned in the night to attend to the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, she learns a secret that she promises to keep.

In turn, she earns the favor of the Countess, a woman she greatly admires. Although Countess Bathory seems a tad dangerous, she is also glamorous and powerful. A combination young Anna is in awe of.

Before too long, due to her strong first impression, Anna is summoned by the Countess again. This time to go and live in the castle as one of her scullery maids.

Once there, Anna’s relationship with Elizabeth continues to grow. Ultimately, she is selected to be her chambermaid, a huge step up in position and responsibility.

As the relationship turns romantic in nature, Anna begins to be swayed to do things for Elizabeth that she would have never guessed herself capable of.

Elizabeth is cruel and hot headed, but Anna sometimes has a hard time recognizing those flaws within her. In her search for the key to vitality however, she goes too far, and Anna finally sees her for who, or what, she truly is.

This book was good, but it was not what I expected it to be. While I feel I was pitched an historical YA horror novel, what I actually got was straight YA historical fiction with a hint of romance.

I definitely would not classify this as a horror story, so if that is what you are looking for you may want to look elsewhere.

The writing was pleasing, but it was very, very slow. I kept waiting for something big to happen and it just never did. There was nothing mysterious, suspenseful or haunting about this.

It felt like a love story gone wrong. Anna fell in love with the wrong person, end of story. Of course we all know Elizabeth Bathory was insane, so really nothing surprising there.

I don’t know. I think if I had gone into this, thinking gothic historical fiction, as opposed to horror , I may have been less disappointed.

It’s not a bad book. It’s a good story, it just read slow for me and I sort of lost interest. I think this would be a great place for younger readers to start who are looking to get into darker works of fiction however.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Amulet Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity!

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October Reading Plans

IT’S¬†THE¬†MOST¬†WONDERFUL¬†TIME¬†OF¬†THE¬†YEAR!!!

That’s right, witches! It’s OCTOBER!!!

Many bookworms will tell you that October is by far the best month of the year to be a reader. There is nothing better than getting cozy in your nice warm house, in your comfy clothes, lighting a bookish inspired candle and reading a creepy story well into the night.

To be frank, it is my absolute favorite activity. I generally read a lot of creepy, scary things but for October, I feel extra inspired to pick up exclusively eerie content. With this being said, it will come as no surprise to anyone that my October theme is: SPOOKTOBER READS!!

As with my previously themed reading months, the goal is to complete 10-books that are spooky, creepy, eerie, scary, all my favorite adjective things. DARK. I want to be afraid to turn my lights out at night.

I also hope to participate in Spookathon, hosted by Kayla over at the YouTube channel, Books and Lala. To view her Spookathon announcement video, click here:¬†Spookathon 2019 Announcement¬†where she will list the dates, challenges, etc. I won’t have a specific TBR for that week but will try to meet all of the challenges.

So, that’s it for now! Are you planning to read a lot of creepy books this month? What is your favorite scary book or movie? I want to know. Leave a comment below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Until my next post, Cheers & Happy Reading~

BLOG TOUR: New Release, The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox

The Widow of Pale HarborThe Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**


A town gripped by fear.
A woman accused of witchcraft.
Who can save Pale Harbor from itself?


Welcome to Pale Harbor, Maine, 1846, where a young widow, Sophronia Carver, haunts the halls of her mansion by the sea. Her home, Castle Carver, goes unvisited by the locals as they believe Sophronia to be a witch suspected of killing her husband, magazine magnate, Nathaniel Carver.

Shunned and mistreated by those in town, Sophronia shuts herself off from the rest of society. Having inherited her husband’s magazine upon his death, she spends her days reading submissions, drinking tea and taking short walks on the cliffs of her property.

Sophronia’s only company, her loyal domestic staff made up of one lady’s maid, a serving girl and a groundskeeper. Her maid, Helen, is more than just a maid however, she is a trusted companion who takes her task of caring for Sophronia quite seriously.

When a new transcendentalist minister, Gabriel Stone, a widower himself, arrives in the sleepy town, he takes an interest in the case of the secluded woman. After visiting with her, he finds her to be quite charming and quickly becomes smitten.

Soon dark events push the two of them further together and things really begin to take off. Someone is out to get Sophronia, leaving cryptic messages and dead things for her to find.

The clues all relate to different poems and stories by Edgar Allen Poe. When the cryptic messages turn to murder and Sophronia is a suspect, she and Gabriel team up to investigate the crimes on their own.

With equal parts Mystery and Romance, this Historical Fiction novel is steeped in the gothic atmosphere that I love. Set on the rocky coast of Maine, this is a perfect book to pick up during this most wonderful season of the year, AUTUMN.

I really enjoyed Sophronia as a character. She was not dealt an easy hand but took all that was thrown at her with a grace that truly set her apart from those around her. She was sweet and caring and although misunderstood and mistreated by the townsfolk, she never became jaded or vengeful.

Gabriel, as well, was a great. Although a bit mysterious, and perhaps not exactly what he was purporting to be, he was strong and caring. I loved watching him and Sophronia learn to confide in each other and trust one another. They both really needed someone on their side and as a duo, they paired quite nicely.

As the pace is picking up, we also have an old friend of Gabriel’s arrive for a visit, Tom. He was fantastic. He brought a flirty good humor to the story that was much needed at that point as the action was getting dark. Gabriel and Tom had such a strong friendship, it was great to see that on page between two grown men. Very well done indeed.

I also appreciated the complex relationship between Sophronia and Helen. I don’t want to get into this too much as it could be a bit of a spoiler but let’s just say that, in truth, it was not the most healthy of relationship. Dedicated, to be sure, but also quite codependent. Helen was great to read. She is surrounded in mystery and quite creepy. She definitely adds a lot to the story!

Overall, I adored this book. While it did start out a little slow, once it picked up the pace was incredible. I always appreciate a slow burn and this one would certainly fall into that category. I would have enjoyed a bit more atmosphere, particularly surrounding Castle Carver itself, but that is definitely a personal taste issue and no reflection on the actual story.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Graydon House Books, for providing me with an early copy of this book to read and review. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint.

In my opinion, Hester Fox is an absolute blessing and this book helped cement her status as an auto-buy author for me. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!!!

This lovely gothic tale releases tomorrow, Tuesday, September 17, 2019.¬†Don’t miss out, be sure to pick up a copy to add to your Spooktober TBR. You won’t regret it!

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Review: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

The Lady RogueThe Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Darkly glorious!!!

A bit Stalking Jack the Ripper, mixed with A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, I loved this fast-paced, historical romp with every fiber of my being.

Theo and Huck make a great team and following them on their mystery-filled, rescue mission through the rustic Carpathian Mountains was hella entertaining!

Theodora’s father is a treasure hunter, hired by a mysterious aristocrat to track down the legendary war ring of Vlad the Impaler. Along with his assistant, Huck Gallagher, also Theo’s former beau, he begins his search discovering new clues and following-up on leads.

Poor Theo gets left behind in a hotel, as she usually does, and is more than frustrated with that turn of events. She wants adventure too and is very good at solving puzzles. She just cannot understand why her father wouldn’t want to utilize her talents.

When Huck arrives back at the hotel, without her father, he has no clue as to where he went but he does have his cryptic travel journal. Theo’s mind is put to the test as she tries to decode his writings and figure out where he could be. Did he go willingly or was foul play involved?

I loved so much about this. The mystery, the intrigue, the dark historical connections, the partnership between Theo and Huck, the setting, it was all very up my alley.

I have never read a Jenn Bennett book before but I know this is a new genre for her. I thought she did a fantastic job. Although some of the paranormal things were a little wonky, I was having so much fun with the story, I didn’t even care.

Further, I am not sure if this is slated to be a standalone or a series, but I really, really hope this is not the last we see of this courageous duo!!!

The characters mention at the end of this book a location they may be traveling to next…I’m looking at you, Scotland…and I really NEED that to happen.

Who do I contact about that? Let’s do this, Bennett! I know you have it in you!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon Pulse, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity but extra love when I discover a new favorite!

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Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

House of Salt and SorrowsHouse of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

…and the award for Exceptional New Voice in YA Horror goes to…

ERIN A. CRAIG!!!!

Love this. Not at all what I expected but so damned pleased with what I got!

Annaleigh lives at Highmoor, a remote manor on the sea with her father, stepmother and sisters. Where once there were twelve sisters, at the start of our story only nine remain.

The most recent to die, Eulalie, plunged to her death after falling from a cliff into the sea. It is rumored she was out to meet a lover and run away with him.

Tragedy has struck the family so many times, in fact, the villagers whisper that they are cursed. While some of her sisters buy into the curse, Annaleigh has other ideas. She doesn’t believe Eulalie’s death was an accident. Perhaps her other sister’s deaths weren’t accidental either?

Teaming up with a handsome and mysterious stranger, Annaleigh begins to investigate what is truly happening at Highmoor.

As many of you may know, House of Salt and Sorrows is a retelling of a fairy tale known as The Shoes That Were Danced To Pieces, or The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Going into this, I expected a typical YA fairy tale retelling. Fortunately, there was nothing typical about this!

Truth be told, parts of this story creeped me the heck out.

There was one night, I was up late, reading this on my kindle with all the lights turned off, I got to a section where there is a particularly lucid scene involving one of Annaleigh’s dead sisters and I legit almost put that thing in the freezer! I had to switch to something fluffy just to be able to go to sleep that night.

As someone who is a great fan of the dark and macabre, I must say, I was beyond impressed with Craig’s writing. Her ability to conjure truly terrifying moments and atmosphere is absolutely fantastic.

I am calling this a YA Horror, because even though the story isn’t exactly a Horror story, I am calling out Erin A. Craig as a Horror writer!

I really hope she continues more in that vein with her future stories. There was an ominous feeling surrounding this whole story. (view spoiler), it was all incredibly visceral.

I have never read the original source material, so I cannot weigh in on the merits of this as a retelling but I imagine, most folks who have read the original will be impressed by this. In my opinion, this book has it all and if you are a fan of gothic-feeling stories, you CANNOT miss this one. Pick it up, you won’t regret it!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I cannot wait to see what Craig comes up with next! You better believe I will be buying it!

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