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 Popović
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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Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Lock Every DoorLock Every Door by Riley Sager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After losing her job and her live-in boyfriend in one day, Jules feels like a lost soul. Crashing on her best friend’s couch, she can’t believe she has come so low so quickly.

She is determined to get back on her feet, whatever it takes, and just like that an opportunity falls in her lap. Well, not literally, she actually finds opportunity in the classifieds section. Apartment Sitter Wanted.

The Bartholomew is one of the most prestigious apartment buildings in New York City and Jules cannot believe they actually want to interview her for the appointment. Upon seeing the apartment, she absolutely cannot believe her luck. Pristine living quarters, breathtaking views and a handsome next-door neighbor.

$12,000 to live in the apartment for 3-months. Other requirements? Really none besides the fact that she isn’t allowed any visitors, she cannot spend a night away and she absolutely cannot hassle the other tenants.

Her best friend, Chloe, tries to warn her off. If it seems too good to be true it probably is but as Jules sees it, what option does she have?

So, she moves in.

Guys, I freaking loved this book so much! I cannot even describe to you how much fun this was for me to read. It basically has everything I love. Sager’s writing draws you in and the atmosphere is always intense. The setting of the Bartholomew was absolutely brilliant. The history surrounding the building, the other tenants, the odd rules…

There were scenes, reading late into the night, when I was legit terrified. Ultimately, it went in a direction I never would have predicted and it is bizarre and so flipping good. Let’s just say, Hitchcock would be impressed.

Thank you so much, PENGUIN GROUP Dutton, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I cannot even express my level of gratitude. This was my most anticipated thriller of 2019 and it did not disappoint for a moment. I loved every minute of reading this and will pick up anything Sager ever chooses to have published!

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FAVORITES: Dracula Appreciation Post!!!

DraculaDracula by Bram Stoker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A true masterpiece.

Believe it or not, I am still considering how to best write a ‘review’ for this, one of my favorite novels of all time.

I annotated this most recent time reading, in the hopes that it would help when it came to composing my final thoughts.

What I am really struggling with is the idea of little ole’ me ‘reviewing’ a masterpiece.

I guess my goal is more to compel people to read this amazing piece of world literature as opposed to providing a critique of Stoker’s work. Let me think on this a while longer. In the meantime, have a gander at this The Lost Boys gif — a movie greatly inspired by Dracula:

Review or not, I am so happy to have reread this for the 3rd time. Dracula is a book I will continue to reread periodically for the rest of my life.

If you haven’t read this yet, please give it a go, it may surprise you. You may think you know this story…

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Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of GhostsCity of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

There is no doubt that I flew through this.

I loved the premise and am planning to continue on with this series. However, while it was good, there was just something about it that kept me from truly being immersed in the story.

I actually read quite a bit of Middle Grade and for me, this was lacking the level of humor and fun that I am used to seeing in MG stories. I know this is supposed to be on the darker side, as far as content, but there still could have been humorous banter or something of that nature to keep me engaged.

Confession:
While Victoria Schwab is a beloved author, this is actually the first book I have ever read from her.

Her writing is great. Very fluid and experienced but for Middle Grade…I don’t know, something about it just never clicked for me.

Again, the premise is great. I love the idea of Cassidy’s, the main character’s, parents being paranormal investigators. The whole concept of their new television series and having to travel to different locations for filming.

I also enjoyed that Cass can actually see ghosts, and interact with them, even though no one else in her family can. I think maybe as the series continues on the plots will become more involved and perhaps we will have more of a chance to connect with the characters.

Overall, I feel this is definitely a good book and a solid start to a series. Obviously, I am not the intended audience for this so a room full of Middle Graders may have a different opinion than me.

I think if the concept of this sounds good to you, pick it up and give it a shot!

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Final Thoughts: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

((Savage SCREAM))

That was SO GOOD.
Help me, I’m dying.

Wicked Saints is the first book in an all new YA Fantasy trilogy called, Something Dark and Holy. A more apt name for a trilogy has NEVER existed. This is so dark, so damn holy. ((clutches pearls))

This is a debut novel for this author and guys, WOW. If this is Duncan’s debut, she is definitely an author to watch.

I picked this up the day before release, as I was generously provided a copy by the publisher, Wednesday Books, in exchange for an honest review, and I am hella obsessed with this story.

The tone of this is very grimdark and we all know, I live for that. Basically, in this world, there is a holy war that has been raging for centuries between two kingdoms: Kalyazin and Tranavia. We follow three main characters: Nadya, Serefin and Malachiasz.

The world is vast and complex, yet feels like nothing to learn. Last week I reviewed another YA Fantasy book, I won’t name here, but I mentioned how I felt like I needed to be taking notes as the town the characters lived in was being explained.

That shook me out of the story and made it hard for me to connect. With this book, even though this is a vastly more complex world, I never felt that. Whilst reading Wicked Saints, I felt like I am living these events along with the characters. I never felt that I didn’t understand what was going on or how the world worked.

This, to me, is a sign of a great fantasy construct; well thought out and balanced. Even though this story takes place in a world that is being created from scratch, although clearly based on Russian/Eastern European lore, culture, etc., it never feels overwhelming and in my opinion, does not suffer at all from the dreaded ‘first book in a series’ syndrome.

Nadya, the main female protagonist, is the most fascinating to me. She was raised in a monastery in the mountains of Kalyazin where the clerics and others can commune with their pantheon of gods. Nadya is very special as she is able to commune with all the gods and she can gain magical powers from them.

Even more interesting is the fact that the gods talk back! She wears a necklace around her neck with a different bead representing each of the different gods. Depending on the situation, and what powers she may need, she holds that bead and asks that god for help. The gods are all developed with their own personality and they can offer up guidance, a friendly chat or just be silent.

I love this aspect! It makes me think of the Disney animated movie, Hercules, all the different gods you meet in that and their personalities; so much fun. It is a very unique element. I have never read anything quite like this in a YA Fantasy before.

So, due to circumstances I won’t get into here, Nadya is forced to flee the monastery, fearing for her life, and once on the road bumps into a traveling trio that includes another of our main characters, Malachiasz.

Now, Malachiasz is a complex character and one that would be a little difficult to explain without going into too much of the story. Let’s just say he was once part of a very dangerous and secretive order of powerful blood mages in the kingdom of Tranavia called the Vultures.

I know, right!? Doesn’t that sound creepy and ominous AF?

Yep. The Vultures are hella creepy masked guys and gals with the most murderous of intentions. They are so scary and powerful that they are referred to as ‘monsters’ by people outside the sect. Malachiasz is a defector from the sect. The only person known to have done so. He confesses this to Nadya and tells her he is essentially on the wrong side of the law in Tranavia.

Our final main character is Serefin, the crown Prince of Tranavia. He has been leading armies for the past few years in the never-ending war with Kalyazin but has recently been summoned home by his father, the King. Serefin is convinced his father has one goal in mind, to take him out. Is he just paranoid or does his father really want to kill him? It is clear the King isn’t playing with a full deck and he is quite volatile and secretive; whispering around with the Vultures.

When Nadya, Malachiasz and their traveling companions arrive in the capital city, set on stopping the war, whatever the cost, they come into contact with Serefin and begin to wonder, exactly whose side is he on?

The writing in this is so delicious. Dark and gothic from the very start! If you love that kind of story, set in a harsh and unforgiving world, you need to pick this book up.

I enjoyed this so much, I am already planning a reread — no joke. Most of all I am looking forward to discussing this with other readers. This is so compelling, I just know there is going to be a huge fandom for this story, this world, these characters and this author!

I am so excited to see where Duncan is going to go with this story. I just can’t even imagine what ultimately is going to happen. There are so many ways it could go, all of them bloody and brutal.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and will definitely be buying a finished copy for my collection!

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