The Resting Place by Camilla Sten

The Resting Place by Camilla Sten (translation by Alexandra Fleming)

Published March 29th 2022 by Minotaur Books

336 Pages

Goodreads Summary: A spine-chilling, propulsive psychological suspense from international sensation Camilla Sten.

The medical term is prosopagnosia. The average person calls it face blindness—the inability to recognize a familiar person’s face, even the faces of those closest to you.

When Eleanor walked in on the scene of her capriciously cruel grandmother, Vivianne’s, murder, she came face to face with the killer—a maddening expression that means nothing to someone like her. With each passing day, her anxiety mounts. The dark feelings of having brushed by a killer, yet not know who could do this—or if they’d be back—overtakes both her dreams and her waking moments, thwarting her perception of reality.

Then a lawyer calls. Vivianne has left her a house—a looming estate tucked away in the Swedish woods. The place her grandfather died, suddenly. A place that has housed a dark past for over fifty years.

Eleanor. Her steadfast boyfriend, Sebastian. Her reckless aunt, Veronika. The lawyer. All will go to this house of secrets, looking for answers. But as they get closer to bringing the truth to light, they’ll wish they had never come to disturb what rests there.

A heart-thumping, relentless thriller that will shake you to your core, The Resting Place is an unforgettable novel of horror and suspense.

Review: The premise of this story had me hooked. I had never heard of prosopagnosia before but it sounds like it could add some serious drama to a thriller like this one. I mean what could be more crazy… she sees the murderer face to face but because of this condition, has no way of telling who it was! I was definitely intrigued by Eleanor because of this and a few other little things like why she was so adamant about not being called by her true name. I also love the whole premise of being trapped in a remote cabin/location while a killer is on the loose. Unfortunately I found myself bored more often than not by this story. I only hung on to the end to find out who the killer really was and when that was revealed it was a bit of a let down to be honest. Overall this one had some serious potential but I was left feeling let down and uninterested in how it ended.

3 Stars

I received an advance copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater

Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater

Publication: May 3rd 2022 by Disney Press

384 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Merida goes on an all-new, life-changing adventure in this original YA novel set several years after the close of Brave!

What if you had one year to save everything you loved?

ONE PRINCESS. Merida of DunBroch needs a change. She loves her family—jovial King Fergus, proper Queen Elinor, the mischievous triplets— and her peaceful kingdom. But she’s frustrated by its sluggishness; each day, the same. Merida longs for adventure, purpose, challenge – maybe even, someday, love.

TWO GODS. But the fiery Princess never expects her disquiet to manifest by way of Feradach, an uncanny supernatural being tasked with rooting out rot and stagnation, who appears in DunBroch on Christmas Eve with the intent to demolish the realm – and everyone within. Only the intervention of the Cailleach, an ancient entity of creation, gives Merida a shred of hope: convince her family to change within the year – or suffer the eternal consequences.

THREE VOYAGES. Under the watchful eyes of the gods, Merida leads a series of epic journeys to kingdoms near and far in an attempt to inspire revolution within her family. But in her efforts to save those she loves from ruin, has Merida lost sight of the Clan member grown most stagnant of all – herself?

FOUR SEASONS TO SAVE DUNBROCH – OR SEE IT DESTROYED, FOREVER.

Review: I loved Brave, the movie and I also love Maggie Stiefvater so combining the two had to be good, right?! So right! When I first started reading the book I was a little unsure of my mood which could potentially be a problem being a mood reader. But I didn’t need to worry about that… I was almost instantly sucked into the story.

Merida had been away from home for awhile traveling. Not long after she returned she was thrown into a mess between two gods. A bargain was struck and for the next year, Merida was to try her hardest to make changes to the stagnation that had fallen upon her home and family. If she could not prove enough change, Feradach would be forced to bring ruination to her home and family. Of course with Merida being very headstrong, she was bound to have some issues with Feradach and getting her family to change themselves without being able to tell anyone about the bargain that had been struck. I really enjoyed the banter between Merida and Feradach. There were a few things I didn’t really like about this book. It felt like a very young YA, almost bordering on middle grade. And although I knew that Maggie Stiefvater wrote it, it didn’t really feel like it. The writing was rather basic and not what I have come to love and expect from her. Overall I enjoyed this book but would have enjoyed it a bit more were it not for those two issues I had with it.

3 Stars

I received an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

Bellinger Sisters #2

Published March 1st 2022 by Avon Books

385 Pages

Goodreads Summary: King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time–in bed and out–and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?

In the follow-up to It Happened One Summer, Tessa Bailey delivers another deliciously fun rom-com about a former player who accidentally falls for his best friend while trying to help her land a different man…

Review: Last year I read and reviews It Happened One Summer, the first book in a duology by Tessa Bailey about two sisters who must leave their posh lives in Los Angeles to prove themselves to be capable adults in a small fishing town in Washington state. I really enjoyed that first book introducing the two sisters, with the main focus on Piper, so I was really excited to get a chance to read and review book 2 in the series that focuses on Hannah. I could more easily connect with Hannah than Piper so I knew the second book would probably be even better for me than the first book. I was not disappointed.

The book opens with a text string between Hannah and Fox over the course of several months while she is back in L.A. and he is in Westport. I loved the connection between them and how music brought them even closer together. They seemed to easily understand one another even though they were both so different at the same time. Even before Hannah got back to Westport, the way they fought their growing attraction made it seem more and more that they were meant to be together. Their chemistry was absolutely undeniable throughout the book. I also really enjoyed the vulnerability that they both had. Neither had been in a serious relationship and were scared to take that step. Especially with Fox knowing how his father was and thinking that everybody basically expected him to follow suite. Even more than the romance between Hannah and Fox, I very much enjoyed Hannah’s character evolution. She started out working as a production assistant for this director and always thought of herself as an extra or sidekick character rather than the leading lady. Gradually Fox helped her to see that she can and should be the leading lady in her own life. She started to take those steps to put herself out there more and get what she wants. I enjoy romances but it makes it so much better when the female character takes charge of her own life and doesn’t just let things happen to her.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I am sad that there will not be anymore of these characters in future books. But I will definitely be checking out more books from this author in the future.

4 Stars

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

Published December 7th 2021 by Atria Books

354 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend.

Called “Pastoral,” this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it… he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.

Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.

Hauntingly beautiful, hypnotic, and bewitching, A History of Wild Places is a story about fairy tales, our fear of the dark, and losing yourself within the wilderness of your mind.

Review: The first thing that drew me to this book was the author, Shea Ernshaw. I read and loved The Wicked Deep a few years back when it was published so I knew that she was an author I wanted to keep my eye on. The second thing that drew me to this book was the cover. The cover image is so haunting and beautiful, I just had to know what this book was about. The third and final thing that drew me to this book was the synopsis. Missing author and a mysterious commune in the middle of the woods?! Yes please.

When the book began I figured that the story would be following from Travis’s point of view for the duration but it didn’t take long for me to be proven wrong. We are then introduced to three characters living within Pastoral, the secret community in the woods: Theo, Calla, and Bee. Theo and Calla are married and Bee is Calla’s sister. Together they live in a farmhouse near the edge of the commune. Each of them has secrets they are trying to keep from each other but those secrets don’t last for long.

I don’t want to say too much about the story because I think honestly one of the best parts was being unsure of what was going on and what was going to happen next. It was such a puzzle to try and fit all of the pieces together about what happened to Travis and Maggie. And when those pieces began to be revealed… I was shocked by each and every one of them. The last third of the book is so full of twists and turns. I literally just finished the book a few minutes ago and wanted to start this review while my head was still spinning. So many “Aha” moments! One of the other really cool things about this book is you get little excerpts from the Foxtail book that Maggie St. James was famous for. It was incredibly eerie with how well it fit the surroundings of Pastoral. Shea Ernshaw did a fantastic job writing this book. Her words had a way of drawing me into the story and I felt as though I was in Pastoral, seeing and experiencing everything that the characters were experiencing. Especially with Bee’s character. Bee is blind and so you get to experience all of her other senses being heightened, mainly her sense of hearing and smell. I definitely see myself thinking about this book for quite some time.

4.5 Stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

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The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic #2

Published October 12, 2021 by Simon Schuster

400 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Master storyteller Alice Hoffman brings us the conclusion of the Practical Magic series in a spellbinding and enchanting final Owens novel brimming with lyric beauty and vivid characters.

The Owens family has been cursed in matters of love for over three-hundred years but all of that is about to change. The novel begins in a library, the best place for a story to be conjured, when beloved aunt Jet Owens hears the deathwatch beetle and knows she has only seven days to live. Jet is not the only one in danger—the curse is already at work.

A frantic attempt to save a young man’s life spurs three generations of the Owens women, and one long-lost brother, to use their unusual gifts to break the curse as they travel from Paris to London to the English countryside where their ancestor Maria Owens first practiced the Unnamed Art. The younger generation discovers secrets that have been hidden from them in matters of both magic and love by Sally, their fiercely protective mother. As Kylie Owens uncovers the truth about who she is and what her own dark powers are, her aunt Franny comes to understand that she is ready to sacrifice everything for her family, and Sally Owens realizes that she is willing to give up everything for love.

The Book of Magic is a breathtaking conclusion that celebrates mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, and anyone who has ever been in love.

Review: **Please note that this is the final book of a 4 book series so if you have not read the other books there may be spoilers ahead.**

When I heard that there was going to be one more book in the Practical Magic series I was INSANELY excited. I jumped at the chance to get an early copy of this book because I love the stories of the Owens women. The story picks up with Franny and Jet in their 80s, Gillian and Sally in their 40s, and Antonia and Kylie in their 20s. Jet hears the infamous deathwatch beetle and knows that it’s almost her time to go. She spends her remaining time with those she loves and after discovering something in the Owens Library, sets up Franny to find a way to break the family curse that their ancestor Maria set upon them centuries ago. But it’s not Franny who finds what Jet leaves behind for her. Let me tell you that when that happened, I knew that all sorts of things were about to happen and not all of them good. Kylie finally discovers the truth about who she is and who her family is after her mother, Sally, had spent all those years hiding it from her daughters.

If you have read and loved one of the previous books in this series, The Rules of Magic, then you will be very happy to find that a familiar face has returned to the story. Franny and Jet’s brother Vincent! Vincent is also the absentee grandfather to Gillian and Sally. Before they were born, Vincent had faked his own death to escape being drafted into the army during the Vietnam War. He fell in love with a man named William and the two of them absconded to France, leaving behind everything and everything they ever knew. When Kylie goes off in search of answers, Franny, Gillian, and Sally board a plane to France to see Vincent and enlist him to help them find her. Seeing them all together again was wonderful even if the circumstances weren’t the best. Add another plane ride and another character later and we have the incredibly interesting Professor Ian Wright in England.

I don’t want to say a whole lot more in regards to the plot because once you hit that point in the story, it’s hard to keep out the spoilers. But let me tell you that it was absolutely incredible. I loved being with these characters again in their story and the new characters that were introduced to the story, with the exception of Tom Lockland (you know what you did, Tom!). The writing is everything I’ve come to love from Alice Hoffman. Everything flows so easily and so descriptive that I have no trouble playing the story out as a movie in my head which is one of my favorite parts about reading. She has a way of making it feel as though the reader was right there in those moments. I fell in love with these characters more than I had loved them before. As sad as I am that this is the end of this series, I believe it was the perfect conclusion. I highly recommend reading this book. I can’t wait to re-read the entire series again in the near future from Maria’s tale in Magic Lessons, to the introduction of Franny, Vincent, and Jet in The Rules of Magic, with Gillian and Sally in Practical Magic, and finally this continuation of Franny, Jet, Vincent, Gillian, Sally, Antonia, and Kylie’s story in The Book of Magic.

5 Stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.