Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Wicked DeepThe Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Wicked Deep is by far the most eerily beautiful book I have read in a long, long time. I finished this over a week ago and I have been trying to come up with a way to express how this book made me feel. I still can’t quite put my finger on it but damn, whatever it is, I likey and I want more. This will probably be a story I revisit in October for years to come. I’m like…

This book has received a lot of buzz. In this case, I feel it is well deserved. Going in, I wanted one thing out of it =
ATMOSPHERE.

The author delivered that in spades. Her descriptions of the small seaside town of Sparrow, Oregon, of the island, the weather, the tourists, it was 100% relatable to me. I live on a small island myself, one that is a tourist destination and at times can feel exploited because of that, and I can tell you, I could feel the wind, the mist, the fog, the influx of outsiders – the weight of it – it is palatable and I thought that Ernshaw really brought that feeling to life in this book.

Her writing is enchanting and she uses breathtaking descriptions to weave her tale. It read like a modern day fairytale – full of witches, magic, curses, revenge, mystery, love – it checked all of the boxes for a whimsical narrative. I loved how she gave us insights into the times of the Swan sisters as well. That was a neat little twist I wasn’t expecting. The modern and historical were woven together seamlessly and it gave such depth to the story and the characters.

“Love is an enchantress – devious and wild. It sneaks up behind you, soft and gentle and quiet, just before it slits your throat.”

When love stories are combined with ghost stories, I find them so haunting. One of my favorites for bringing these two elements together is Stephen King’s, Bag of Bones. While they are completely different animals, that one being heavily adult and this one very YA, I feel they both combined those two elements to create a spooky and memorable ghost story. Ones that truly get under your skin and sit there; that make you simultaneously warm and cold. I am actually glad this is going to be adapted as I feel it could translate well into more visual media.

Now, the characters…the characters were great! The present day story mainly follows local girl, Penny Talbot. She lives out on Lumiere Island tending the lighthouse with her mother, who isn’t well. Penny is likable, if a bit aloof, but definitely someone you can get behind and cheer for. When a new guy Bo arrives in town, she ends up giving him a job out on the island helping with the lighthouse and other tasks gone to pot since her father disappeared. I enjoyed her relationship with Bo; watching its evolution felt mysterious; that more was hidden right under the surface. The big reveal for me was bloody fantastic! I did not see it coming. I didn’t, maybe I am an idiot but regardless, I felt it was really well done.

My favorite character, of course, was Marguerite Swan. I got strong Slytherin vibes from her. Described as ‘ vengeful & clever…single-minded in her hatred for the town…’ Yep, I dig that. Getting the perspectives on the Swan sisters, as I mentioned above, was a real treat. This story could have been done without that historical element but I am glad that Ernshaw chose to write it this way. Reading and understanding the motivations for ghosts or spirits haunting a person, place or thing, is not something you see a lot of. I really, really enjoyed it.

Overall, I absolutely adored this story. I cannot praise it enough and will absolutely be reading it again! Cheers~

Original: Take my breath away. ((fans self))

I’m utterly heartsick over how beautiful this book is. The magical atmosphere has delved deep into my bones. I definitely need some time to gather my thoughts on this. An absolutely stunning read.

Full review to come…stay tuned!

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Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

The Death of Mrs. WestawayThe Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a twisted tale of long buried secrets and newly developed deceptions. Mostly set at a decrepit old estate property where the coldness gets under your skin, I think I enjoyed the setting most of all. I went into this hoping for a gothic atmosphere that would pull me into the story and that’s exactly what I got.

Our main character, Harriet ‘Hal’ Westaway, is a very young woman down on her luck since the unfortunate hit-and-run death of her beloved mother. One day as she is believing she has hit rock bottom, she receives a letter in the mail announcing that her Grandmother, Hester Westaway, has passed and that she is due to the solicitor’s office to attend the reading of the will as she is named a beneficiary. Harriet, knowing there must be some sort of mistake as her Grandparents died years ago, decides to test her luck and go pretend to be the Harriet Westaway named in the letter. At most she is expecting a small financial payout that will allow her to pay off some debt and perhaps live a little more comfortably. Never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined what would take place once she entered into this dangerous game.

I don’t want to say too much more regarding the plot as I feel it is best to go into it knowing as little as possible. I will say that the family she meets upon traveling to the Westaway estate, Trepassen House, is very interesting indeed and it was a ton of fun watching the truth unfold. Again, to me the setting and atmosphere of this were fantastic. I could picture the cold, the snow, the eerie lake, the attic room with the bars on the windows; the estate was brought to life within the pages. I live for that in a story. At times, I felt I knew the answer to the mystery and I was correct on parts of it, but it was so twisted it was hard to tell until the final reveal whether I was on the right track or not. Truly a lot of fun to read.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes some gothic vibes weaved throughout their mystery/thrillers. My only slight criticism was that the beginning was a little slow. I had this same feeling while reading, The Woman in Cabin 10, another one of Ruth Ware’s books but luckily, for me, the introductory portion of this story didn’t drag quite as much as that one.

In the end, I am so happy that I picked this one up and I will definitely continue reading Ware’s books in future. If this one is any sign, it’s that her works are getting stronger and stronger!

Original: Spookathon Book #2 (read a thriller) – switching up my initial TBR (as I ALWAYS do) and starting this before it’s due back at the library! Excited to start!

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Review: The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy HollowThe Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel is best summed up as a retelling of Washington Irving’s, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow from Katrina Van Tassel’s perspective. This may seem obvious to many by the title but for those less familiar with Irving’s original story, Katrina Van Tassel, is pretty much the only female ‘real’ character we have in that story. In that tale she is sort of the beautiful, sweet, yet most likely brainless, love interest of Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones.

As soon as I discovered that this book was happening, I knew I needed to get my hands on it as soon as I could. Growing up in New England, I can attest to the fact that there is literally no better place to be that New England in Autumn. That is my honest opinion. It’s just magical and crisp and awesome and just a slight bit ominous and creepy. Combine this with the fact that The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorite stories and this sounded like the perfect book for me to get my hands on this Fall.

While this book did start out slow for me, hence the 4-star rating rather than 5, I was completely enamored with Palombo’s ability to create the feel of time and the place of Sleepy Hollow. I felt the atmosphere was richly developed and I had no trouble picturing it all in my mind, from the Van Tassel farm, to the little town, to the woods surrounding the Hudson River, everything was as it should be. I loved the development of Katrina’s character and the strong friendship that was displayed between her and her best friend, Charlotte. I always enjoy a book with strong female friendships and this one was particularly beautiful for anyone else who may enjoy that sort of thing.

The secret courtship between Katrina & Ichabod was definitely a slow burn but once lit…it was on fire. Be prepared for sexy times – I was a little surprised by the sexy times – so, if you aren’t into that, beware, it’s here. If you love that stuff, this is the book for you.

As this love was developing, the first half of the book, I was really getting anxious for my spooky stuff. Where is the headless horseman? I wondered on more than one occasion. Then it happens, one night, All Hallows Eve, of course, that will change Katrina’s life forever. Her world is shattered and through the help of her BFF, Charlotte, and her long-time friend/domestic help, Nancy, she does her best to rebuild herself and to find out what happened that night after her parent’s Halloween party.

I cannot say too much more about the plot without giving things away. I understand this is a story many of us know but I think being told from a different perspective, the author was able to bring a lot of new life and details into this well loved tale. I was impressed with this, the second half of the book really kept me engaged and I loved the way it wrapped up.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and am excited to see what other readers think of this one. Great job with release date as well – October is the PERFECT month to read this book!

Original: Y’all know I love a retelling and a retelling of such a classic piece of gothic literature is a must for me! Very happy to be starting this one and to get Katrina’s POV. My #1 hope = good atmosphere. I am all about that in my Fall reads.

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Review: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Publication Date: March 20, 2018     |     Rating: 5-STARS!!!

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is pretty much perfection in my opinion. This book exceeded my expectations in every way possible. I went into this book knowing two things: prep school for girls/mystery. This book is so much more than that. The novel is replete with a gothic atmosphere that transports you in time and place into the storyline. It is the perfect blend of mystery/thriller with extra special paranormal goodness sprinkled the whole way through!

The main portion of the story alternates back and forth between 1950 and 2014, following different girls/women in and around Barrens, Vermont, and more importantly Idlewilde Hall. I do not want to say too much about the story itself, as I wouldn’t want to risk giving anything away to potential readers. Just know this – I put off reading this book for many months. I don’t know why – I can’t explain it – it just kept getting shuffled down the ole’ tbr. Now, I can say, I am physically distraught at not having read this as soon as I got it. Okay – that may be taking it a little far but I do wish I would have picked it up immediately. I honestly do not have even one constructive criticism of this. Because of that this will be a very short review: This book is incredible. This book wants you to read it. This book will keep you up nights after…read it!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy to review. I apologize to you, as well as to myself, that I didn’t get to it until now. I am even going to run out and buy myself a copy so that I may read it again and share it with others – I love it that much!

Review: Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

Publication Date: February 6, 2018   |    Rating: 3.5-stars

Dark and lyrical, Shadowsong, brings to a conclusion the story of Liesl and her Goblin King. This second book in the Wintersong duology picks up a few months after the conclusion of Wintersong. Although I selected 3-stars, I would actually give this a 3.5-star rating if given the option. This is a tough book to describe and I definitely don’t feel it is for everyone. For me, it works; I love S. Jae-Jones writing style. She has a way of weaving together an eerie tale where you struggle to piece together reality and unreality.

Our MC, Liesl, is not really a likable character but somehow I still found myself caring about her. I wanted to shake her out of her funk multiple times but I know, with depression and other mental health issues, it is not that easy. She really struggles in this one, more so than the first, with her decisions, her past, her family relations. She is moody and brooding and honestly, kind of a dark cloud over the whole story, but in a way that contributes to the overall story line, in my opinion. I would say trigger warning for suicidal thoughts and ideation.

I love the atmosphere of this book. In Wintersong, we were pretty sedentary in our action; you were either at the Inn owned by Liesl’s family, or in the Underground. Here, our characters travel from home to find their brother Josef, who resides in Vienna. The city life is quite a change for Liesl and being far from the Goblin Grove certainly doesn’t enhance her mood any. After a swift turn of events at a masked ball, Liesl and Josef, are swept away to Snovin Hall. Their relationship has been under extreme duress and they do begin to form a reconnection of a sort whilst at Snovin.

I loved Snovin Hall – the gothic vibes were a plenty and some of the scenes written while our characters were there gave me chills. Joseph playing in the mirrored ballroom…it still gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it! However, this aspect of the story did get a little confusing in places. There is a fine line between being intriguing and being confusing and this one swayed into the confusion zone more than once. That being said, the overall feel of the book was dark and creepy enough for me to enjoy and keep me invested. The last 15 or 20 pages were excellent – I enjoyed the ending and felt that S. Jae-Jones wrapped up a complicated story quite fluidly.

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this book for review. It is greatly appreciated!

Review: Sitting Murder by A.J. Wright

Publication Date: 10/12/2017

Good morning bookworms!  Well, I finished Sitting Murder last night!  (after staying up way past my bedtime in order to do so – I regret nothing!)

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Endeavor Press, in exchange for an honest review. The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover – it’s beautiful! Luckily, this book is a lot more than a pretty cover. When I started this book I was not aware that this is actually book #4 of a currently 4 book series. I didn’t realize that until about a quarter way in – I loved the writing and thought, why have I never heard of this author before? This is really good. I look it up on Goodreads and that is when I discovered it is actually a full series. I did not feel that not having read the first three books I was missing any information – I think you could easily read this as a stand-alone story or read the earlier ones out of order. I definitely plan on seeking out the other books in this series.

The setting is in a small village in Victorian times which is quite gothic -something I love. You can almost feel the cold streets, the flickering candlelight and the hardships of the characters. There is a girl acting as medium, seances, a murder – what is not to love about all that? This was a completely enthralling mystery, classic in the sense of Christie or Sayers, complete with strong, smart detectives cracking the case. My only slight criticism would be that I wish there had been a bit more character development for some of the main characters, particularly Brennan and Jaggery; that is but a minor thing however and perhaps that is something that was taken care of in the earlier books. I am genuinely happy that I had the opportunity to read this book – thank you to Endeavor Press – I would definitely recommend Sitting Murder to anyone who loves a good mystery!

What are your favorite mystery writers?  I am always looking to discover new series in this genre – there is so much to love about them!

Status Update: Sitting Murder

Good afternoon guys & ghouls!  Sorry, I’m still a bit in the Halloween spirit – Last night I made a lot of progress in the book, Sitting Murder by A.J. Wright.  I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher Endeavor Press in exchange for an honest review.

First off, the cover – that is what attracted me to this book; it’s gorgeous!  This is apparently book #4, in a currently 4 book series called the Lancashire Detective Mystery series.  This being said, I was unaware of the earlier books prior to starting this and I don’t feel that it is inhibiting my enjoyment at all.  I don’t feel like I am missing any pertinent information.

I have noticed there is not a lot of really strong character development – it is a pretty standard police procedural with the classic, whodunit, format.  However, it is a historical fiction mystery, being set in Victorian times which is fabulous!  I love the atmosphere the book has created thus far – it has such a gothic feel with a girl acting as a Medium, seances and a murder!  Seriously, what’s not to love!?

I was surprised when I checked on Instagram that there were no posts regarding this author or this series.  It is really well written, I wish it were getting a bit more attention.  You know I’ll be posting it once I am complete with a review – I am looking forward to finishing this one up!

Happy Reading!