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.

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

Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

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Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

Fairmile #2

Published November 24th 2020 by Atria Books

464 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Midsummer Eve 1670. Two unexpected visitors arrive at a shabby warehouse on the south side of the River Thames. The first is a wealthy man hoping to find the lover he deserted twenty-one years before. James Avery has everything to offer, including the favour of the newly restored King Charles II, and he believes that the warehouse’s poor owner Alinor has the one thing his money cannot buy—his son and heir.

The second visitor is a beautiful widow from Venice in deepest mourning. She claims Alinor as her mother-in-law and has come to tell Alinor that her son Rob has drowned in the dark tides of the Venice lagoon.

Alinor writes to her brother Ned, newly arrived in faraway New England and trying to make a life between the worlds of the English newcomers and the American Indians as they move toward inevitable war. Alinor tells him that she knows—without doubt—that her son is alive and the widow is an imposter.

Set in the poverty and glamour of Restoration London, in the golden streets of Venice, and on the tensely contested frontier of early America, this is a novel of greed and desire: for love, for wealth, for a child, and for home

Review: Quick reminder that this is the second book of the series so if you have not read the first book, there may be spoilers ahead.

I was a little on the fence about reading this sequel because I didn’t quite hit it off with the first book but I decided to give it a shot anyways because I love Philippa Gregory. I was also intrigued by the addition of some new characters from Venice. The storyline seemed a little bit far fetched at times but it ended up really working for the book as a whole. I was a little surprised at how easily Alys was ready to accept Livia’s story of Rob at face value… it seemed a little out of character for her. I was very glad to see that Alinor wasn’t going to be taken in at all until she had solid proof. I really enjoyed Sarah’s journey to Venice to investigate Livia’s claims. She really seemed to come into her own and I loved having a strong female character in this story. James, though…. Oh James… what an absolute idiot. First he tries to come back into Alinor’s life to claim his son 21 years later and then completely falls under Livia’s ridiculous spell. I don’t want to say a whole lot more about all of that drama because for one, spoilers, and for another, you just have to read it to believe it.

One thing that I really didn’t think was necessary in this book was Ned’s part of the story. He’s living in America but the only times he really connects to his family is when Alinor writes him a letter or he sends them goods. I feel like his scenes could have just been cut because they kind of distracted me in a bad way from the drama still going on in England and Venice.

Overall I did end up enjoying this book and kind of hoping there will be a third book.

4 Stars

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

Blood Countess by Lana Popović

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Lady Slayers #1

Published January 28th 2020 by Harry N. Abrams

293 Pages

Goodreads Summary: A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula

In 16th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante. It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.

Review: I was so excited to see a historical YA horror novel based on Countess Elizabeth Bathory! I’ve read a few other books and have watched a couple of those ghost hunter shows investigate her castle. There is just something strangely compelling about her. The main character, Anna Darvulia, is actually based on the real life Anna Darvolya. Three of the other servants in the book also seem to be based on real life servants of the countess. I really liked that the author actually used characters based on real people that were connected to the countess. That all makes it so much more real. I’ve read that Anna Darvolya was actually considered to be the one who honed the Countess’s torture skills and instructed the other servants. However, in this novel, the author does a little reimagining. Anna is an innocently naive village girl, trained as a midwife under her mother. She has a chance meeting with Elizabeth and her entire life changes from there.

There were things about this book that I liked but also lots of things that didn’t really click with me. Right off the bat the book seemed to be a little overwritten for my taste. Every noun seemed to have a descriptive word, some words I even had to look up and when I did they didn’t quite seem to fit the context. I also didn’t like how naive Anna was portrayed. She overlooked every single terrible thing Elizabeth had done or that Anna’s fellow scullery maids told her they had heard. It also seemed strange to me how high up Elizabeth ended up putting Anna. A countess throwing a ball for a commoner… maybe it happened, but seems a little far fetched. I know a lot of people were excited about the F/F romance aspect in this book but this one was honestly too much for the story I think. I mean, I guess I could see how a young village girl who had never been anywhere or seen anything could fall hard for a Countess who is lifting her up so high but what I really didn’t like was Anna making excuses for Elizabeth when she started to see what she was truly like. No spoilers so I won’t talk about how the book ended but it felt too easy. In the end I don’t think this even works as a horror story. It felt more like a historical romance gone wrong. Overall this book was just okay for me.

2 Stars

I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

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Camelot Rising #1

Published November 5, 2019 by Delacorte Press

352 Pages

Goodreads Summary: From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes a new fantasy series reimagining the Arthurian legend, set in the magical world of Camelot.

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

Review: I started off reading this book during a reading slump so for the first 8% I was a little out of touch with what was going on. I was really intrigued by Guinevere’s personality and back story. She is not all she appears to be, hence the title of the book. There are so many twists in this book that I’m not even sure how much I should say about the story or characters. When I got out of my reading slump, this book clicked so well with me. I loved everything that was going on and was on the edge of my seat. I was starting to ship Guinevere with a character who was NOT Arthur about halfway through. There is a mysterious character referred to as the patchwork knight and I was so sure I knew what was going to happen with this person but I was really surprised when I hit that particular twist. I’m not completely familiar with Arthurian legend but I really loved how Kiersten White approached this retelling. SUPER shocked about the major twist at the end. I seriously cannot wait until the next book comes out. I will definitely be buying myself a copy of this book and recommending it to fantasy fans.

4 stars

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