2019 Book #79 – The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

51+pKU74twLTitle: The Witch of Willow Hall
Author: Hester Fox
Date finished: 10/19/19
Genre: Gothic romance, suspense, magic stuff
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also I’m reading this book as part of my October Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge, checking of the “a spell goes wrong” box since Lydia does a spell that goes wrong, even if she doesn’t mean to. I’m also reading this book for my Bookish 2019 Reading Challenge: 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR checking off line #1 – a book you bought (requested) for the cover. Since I’m using this checklist to check off some of my previously requested NetGalley titles, I hadn’t bought any of them but so I changed bought to request. And I had originally requested this book in large part based on the cover – I think it’s so pretty and intriguing.

Even though I mostly requested based on the cover for this book. I also thought the story line sounded really interesting too. Plus I’m trying to read as many spooky books as possible for this month so it was a perfect fit for me to read this one. I’m glad I got to read it too – I really liked it. There were definitely a lot of pieces of the book that I didn’t care for but overall I really liked it! Lydia as a character had a lot of layers but she was a bit too much of a doormat for me. And I loved the whole journey to her discovering she was a witch and her long dead ancestor and what not but I wished that it had happened a little earlier in the book. This was definitely a good read for October – it was super spooky and creepy. I thought it was really captivating, I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. At the same time the pacing was a little slow for me. Overall I really liked the book but it wasn’t my favorite. Great read for October though!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2019 Book #59 – The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

514ieZC9mqLTitle: The Turn of the Key
Author: Ruth Ware
Date finished: 8/11/19
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Gallery / Scout Press
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley and Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish 1 ARC set in Summer ” box since this book takes place in the July to early September time frame.

There was a good amount of buzz going on about this book and I really wanted the chance to read it. I had read another book by this author last year (The Death of Mrs. Westaway) and didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it enough and I hear so many good things about this author that I wanted to give another book a shot. I’m glad I did because I really ended up liking this book. It started out a little slow and I had to struggle a bit through the first part of the book. I was worried that I wouldn’t end up liking this one either but once the action picked up towards the latter half of the book I didn’t want to put it down. There was a good build up of tension in the story and I thought it was appropriately creepy for what it was trying to accomplish. And the plot twists, holy bananas. I never saw it coming! There are only a handful of books out there that I’ve gasped literally out loud when getting to the plot twists and this book was one of them. If I hadn’t felt quite the struggle I did in the first half of the book I would’ve given the book higher stars rating. Also I felt like there were some things left unresolved at the end – like there was a mention of Jack also hiding secrets but I don’t remember them being revealed. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the first half of the book but the second half definitely made it worth it! I would recommend this one, I ended up really enjoying it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #94 – The Space Between Heartbeats by Melissa Pearl

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Title: The Space Between Heartbeats
Author: Melissa Pearl
Date finished: 9/5/15
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Alloy Entertainment
Publication Date: September 15, 2015 (originally published November 1, 2012
Pages in book: 286
Stand alone or series: Betwixt series?
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Nicole Tepper has it all—beauty, popularity, and the perfect boyfriend. But after a party she can’t remember, she wakes up in a ghostly state, trapped between life and death. Nicole’s injured body is lying in a wooded area, but she has no idea where—or how long she has left to live.
Only one person can hear her now: Dale Finnegan, a loner classmate that Nicole has relentlessly bullied. Dale’s the last person in school who would want to help her, but he sets their tangled history aside to try to save her life. As they dig into what happened at the party, they discover her boyfriend isn’t as perfect as he seems—and neither are her friends. With the clock ticking down and her life slipping away, Nicole must face a hard truth: Was what happened to her a terrible accident? Or does someone want her dead?

My rating: 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Nicole Tepper. After her sister died a couple years ago, her family pretty much fell apart and she worked hard to fill her life with people she could keep at a distance. She liked her boyfriend Trent because he doesn’t see past her bad girl attitude and accepts her at face value. She has her group of friends for the same reason. After a wild party one night she wakes up and no one will talk to her or even respond to her questions. It isn’t until her hand slides right through another person that she realizes something horrible, she’s a ghost. Later on her spirit ends up drifting back into her body and Nicole discovers she isn’t dead as she thought but just in and out of consciousness from the injuries she sustained and she is in unbelievable pain.
As she wanders through her daily routine, trying to make sure of everything and her presence in the spiritual world, she discovers one of her classmates can hear her even though she’s a ghost. Dale is someone she’s always made fun of to assert her popularity. But it turns out he’s the only one who can help her now. She doesn’t have any idea where her body is but she knows she doesn’t have much longer to live. And so Nicole and Dale race to figure out what happened that night and where her boy now lays before its too late.
Overall I very much liked this book. The characters were well developed and the plot line was honestly just riveting. I couldn’t put this book down once I started it, it was so good! I would definitely recommend.

The bottom line: I thought this was a great book! Would definitely recommend.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #68 – The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

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Title: The Ghost Bride
Author: Yangsze Choo
Date finished: 7/5/15
Genre:  Historical/paranormal fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Pages in book: 354
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Part 19th century novel, part magical journey to the Chinese world of the dead, Yangsze Choo’s debut novel The Ghost Bride is a startlingly original historical fantasy infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, and unexpected supernatural twists. Reminiscent of Lisa See’s Peony in Love and Neil Gaiman’s NeverwhereThe Ghost Bride is a wondrous coming-of-age story from a remarkable new voice in fiction.
Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.
After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy–including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets–and the truth about her own family–before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I saw this book awhile ago I think it was in a previous publication of Book Page but I can’t remember for sure. I thought the premise behind this novel sounded extremely interesting, a woman being pledged to marry a ghost. There was a lot of information in the book about the cultures at that time in Malacca (where the book was set, which apparently is another term for an area in Malaysia). Li Lan lost her mother to small pox when she was very young, and the disease also left her father disfigured and he became something of a recluse. It is because of this that Li Lan does not have a marriage arranged for her when she comes of age. And even further, Li Lan’s father doesn’t seem to do anything for which and smokes just too much opium every night so they don’t really have any money at all. So when the Lim family offers for Li Lan to be their recently deceased son’s ghost bride, while not ideal, it is an offer than is hard for her father to turn away.
Soon after this offer is made, Li Lan begins having dreams of the deceased son where he basically demands that she marry him. Overall though it is really creepy and I can’t blame her for saying no way. Things go from bad to worse though and the story continues through the spirit world including it’s funeral customs.
I found this book very interesting. It was different from anything I have ever read before and included a lot of new information on foreign superstitions and customs. The characters in the book were frustrating at times and there some slightly wordy parts but the plot was interesting and kept me engaged throughout the story. The description of the spirit world was fascinating and while I thought Li Lan was a bit flip-floppy, I liked the ending.
The bottom line: I would recommend this book because I found it to be different from the norm and interesting.
Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2014 – Book #100

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The hundredth book I read in 2014 was Long Time Coming by Edie Claire. This book was recommended to me by my cousin, Stephanie Gorman. I finished this book on 11/9/14. This was the first book I’ve read by this author. I rated this book 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This book tells the story of Joy Hudson, who after 18 years away returns home to Wharton, Kentucky to care for her father and mother, both of which are not in the best of health anymore. Joy left home a long time ago and never looked back, too scarred by traumatic events that occurred at the end of her senior year to think of Wharton as home.

When Joy returns to Wharton though she is forced to face a variety of issues that she had up until then successfully avoided. Like why she feels so guilty about her best friend’s death in high school. And why she’s scared of Jeff Bradford (her best friend’s high school boyfriend) and how he makes her feel, even now eighteen years later.

Overall I did enjoy this book. I was interested in the story line and liked the mixture of paranormal and suspense in the plot. I thought that the characters could’ve been developed a tad bit more and had more depth. As much as we delved into Joy’s psyche I found her character to be a bit flat I guess. Other than that I liked the story well enough. Though I wouldn’t consider it one of my favorites, it was interesting and also free on Amazon Kindle!

Link to author website: http://www.edieclaire.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Long-Time-Coming-Edie-Claire-ebook/dp/B004RJ7Y8Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415646021&sr=8-1&keywords=long+time+coming

2014 – Book #17

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The seventeenth book I finished in 2014 was The Haunting of Josie by Kay Hooper. I finished this book on 3/17/14. I rated this book 2.75 stars out of a scale of 5. This was the first book I’ve read by this author.

Overall this was a cute story and a quick read. Since it was so quick though I thought it went a bit too fast and the plot/characters were a little underdeveloped for my tastes. This story is about Josie Douglas who retreats to a quiet country house to complete her research in trying to vindicate her father. She becomes infatuated with her landlord, much to her dismay, and also becomes involved in the mystery of the ghost who wanders the house she’s staying in.

I love it when a book ties everything out in the end. I think that’s one of the things I found frustrating in this book, there was discussion of a villain who set hotels on fire but the question was never addressed and she never cleared her father’s name before the end of the book. I just found this disappointing as I felt like there should have been more resolution there.

Overall it was an ok book though and was a quick read at only 212 pages so if you’re looking for a quick and interesting suspense then this would be a good one. Be prepared to feel unresolved at the end though. I have heard that this is a good author so I will likely try another of her books but I wouldn’t return to this one I don’t think.

Link to author website: http://www.kayhooper.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Haunting-Josie-Kay-Hooper/dp/0553590472/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395152100&sr=8-1&keywords=the+haunting+of+josie