BOOK REVIEW: The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

This post is going to focus on The Vanished Bride written by Bella Ellis. It is the first novel in Ellis’s Brontë Sisters Mystery series and was released on September 10, 2019.

This book has the interesting concept of following the Brontë sisters in 1845 as they learn of a murder that has taken place in a nearby village. The murder has taken place in a home in which one of their friends works as a governess. But is it even murder? The woman of the house is missing, but left her room covered in blood. What other explanation could there possibly be?

Though they have yet to publish any of their works, they already have the research skills needed to become “detectors.” Ellis has done an enormous amount of research on the Brontë family and because of this was able to use each family member to their strengths in her plot.

Ellis also does a good job at describing a society that believes women should be at home, and seen, but not heard. They take various journeys together, and apart in following the clues they uncover under the guise of searching for the right place to open a school.

I found the plot enjoyable as I followed along the twists and turns throughout the English countryside. This book will be enjoyed by fans of the Brontë clan, and cozy mystery readers.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Trouble With Hedge Witches Series Bundle by Sarina Dorie

This review is going to focus on the Trouble with Hedge Witches 4 book series by Sarina Dorie. I received an eARC of the series through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The first book in this series bundle is The Witch of Nightmares: Dark Fairy Tales of Magic and Mystery. This introductory book introduces readers to the main character, 14-year-old Abigail MacQuillan and her journey with fate. We are introduced to the Morty Realm, the Unseen Realm, and the Fae Realm, each having its own rules about magic.

This installment has readers following Abby on her journey to find her lost family. Can she accomplish this while protecting her younger brother, and staying away from dark magic?

The second book in the series is A Cauldron Full of Curses: Dark Fairy Tales of Magic and Mystery. This installment follows Abby as she deals with the loss of her family, learning how to use her plant magic, and becoming an apprentice to a wicked hedge witch, Baba Nata. Abby and her friend Lucifer, who is another apprentice of Baba, learn to fight against the Fae that prey upon lost humans.

The third book in this series is A Pocket Full of Poison: Dark Fairy Tales of Magic and Mystery. In this book you will learn that revenge comes at a price.

Readers will follow Abby and Lucifer as they continue to learn how to harness their magic. Baba Nata begins to teach Abby the darker magic that she will need to use against the Fae. How far will Abby go to avenge her brothers? Will she keep the act in her seduction, or fall for a Fae?

The last installment to this series bundle is Abigail Lawrence’s Untold Story: The Witch’s Familiar, which is also part of Dorie’s Womby’s School for Wayward Witches series.

This segment takes place almost thirty years after the last book, and Abby has led a life in the Morty Realm, reconnecting with Grace, and her nephew Adam. Over time she marries Adam, and they adopt two daughters. This story focuses on Abigail after she receives news that her twenty-two-year old daughter Clarissa is in danger and recovering from an attack at the school she teaches at.

Lucifer, who has been stuck in cat form for the last thirty years begins to act strange while back in the Unseen Realm and runs away. Much of this story is searching for Lucifer, and trying to find a way to return him to human form. Will she succeed?

This series was an interesting read, and I enjoyed reading about the different plant and animal magic affinities that different characters controlled. I started to lose some interest in Abby’s story in the third book because she was so entrenched in her desire to kill the Fae without listening to anything Lucifer would say about how it would change her. I hope you enjoy reading this series. Each installment is a quick, roughly 100 page, read.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

This review is going to focus on The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. I loaned this book from my local public library back when it came out in December 2017 and I have had a blog post draft sitting in my queue for ages.

This book dives into the question “How do I respond to expectations?” While researching an answer to this question Rubin found that people generally fit into four different groups, which she calls the Four Tendencies (Hello title!): Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Throughout the book she describes how one’s tendency influences one’s behavior and helps shed light on how to work around a tendency to be more effective in daily decisions.

The first book I read by Gretchen Rubin was The Happiness Project, and although I loved that book, I think this book is my new favorite by her because it helps me understand myself, and those around me in a different light. I am able to understand to some extent why my husband does things the way he does. I love that this book discusses how to best approach each tendency, and I think by keeping in mind our tendencies a lot of little squabbles can be avoided.

My review may be late to the game on this one, but I think this book needed to be covered. Will you grab a copy of the book and learn more about yourself? I also recommend taking her quiz to find out what tendency you are.

I am an obliger. This means that I respond to outer expectations, but avoid responding to inner expectations. It’s easy for me to respond to what others want me to do, but when I have a goal that I would like to pursue, i.e. go to the gym, it is much easier for me to put that on the back burner when something comes up instead of saying no to the outer expectation. Once I learned more about my tendency, I focused a lot on figuring out how I could learn to say no to outer expectations and reach some of my personal goals. It hasn’t been easy, but progress is better than nothing.

I truly hope you enjoy reading this book. Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Shape of the Night by Tess Gerritsen

This review is going to take a look at the book The Shape of the Night by New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen. I received an eArc of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The book was released on October 1st–so get out there an read a copy!

This novel is set mostly in a Maine coastal town with some appearances by Boston. Our main character, Ava Collette is a food writer, and while punishing herself she has decided to get away from Boston to test some recipes for her very late book.

The cookbook she is writing is about traditional New England cuisine, so where better than Maine to write!? She finds an old home available to rent of the summer called Brodie’s Watch. It is the former home of a sea captain that perished at sea. At first all is normal, until she begins hearing weird sounds.

Ava becomes all consumed with trying to figure out who is watching her and what is happening. She begins to wonder if it’s her, and the binge drinking to cope with tragedy, or if it’s all real? Who can she trust in this small coastal town where locals fit in and tourists aren’t trusted.

Gerritsen does a great job of writing the story in a way that it could actually be a ghost, or it could be this other more logical option throughout the entire book. Even after finishing the book I was left wondering–but was the ghost real? The story instills a real feeling of being right there the entire time. I felt like I was by the ocean in Maine. I drooled over the recipes Ava made, just like her carpenters. It was an entertaining read and I encourage you to go read it so you can be in Maine too!

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Ice Hard by Tracy Goodwin

This review is going to center on the book Ice Hard by Tracy Goodwin. I received an ARC through NetGalley. This was published on October 8th, and is the second book in the New York Nighthawks series. The first book in the series is Ice Hot.

The main characters in this book are Nicholas Alexander George (yep, three first names make up his name), a right winger and NHL league enforcer, and Camille Bennetti, a loyal daughter currently running the family’s Italian restaurant.

Nick meets Cami while she’s helping out working a bar shift during Nick’s best friend’s bachelor party. Nick can’t take his eyes off her and the two share some quick banter. The major problem, as he finds out, is that she doesn’t date hockey players. Cami’s tortured past slowly comes to light throughout the story. Nick plans to prove himself worthy of Camille any way he can.

Will Camille be able to stick to the one night deal, or will she end up wanting more, much more?

I enjoyed reading this book and read it during this past weekend’s 24 hour Dewey Readathon. I think Goodwin did a good job of making her characters imperfect. They were believable in their personalities. It was clear that the characters understood that relationships are hard and take work to maintain instead of the many romance novels that are a bit easier in getting to the Happily Ever After. Persistence was a big aspect of this book. I hope those of you that pick it up enjoy it!

Happy reading 🙂


BOOK REVIEW: The Furies by Katie Lowe

This review is going to focus on The Furies, written by Katie Lowe. I received an ARC through NetGalley. This book was released on October 8th and is a great option for a Halloween read–so check out your local library or bookstore of choice and grab a copy.

The story of the Furies is set in 1997-1998 at Elm Hollow Academy, an all-girl’s boarding school. We follow Violet, the main character, on her journey through what is meant to be a fresh start after the abrupt passing of both her father and younger sister in a car crash that she survived.

Violet finds herself drawn to one girl at the school, Robin, who allows Violet to join her group of friends, consisting of Alex, and Grace. Elm Hollow Academy has a history with the witch hunt in the UK, with the founding headmistress being accused of witchcraft and executed on campus.

But, before she died, Ms. Boucher, had created an advanced studies class, which is now taught by Annabel. There are only four students, Robin, Alex, Grace, and now Violet. The classes focus on mythology and the occult, and the girls quickly start believing that the spells and rituals will work to their whims. And once they cast a spell, and their desire comes true, the group really begins to believe in the Furies.

Drugs, sex, and alcohol all take part in the chaos that ensues. Especially once the second girl in two years is found dead, sitting on a swing.

Katie Lowe did an good job of setting up the characters in this story. The group dynamics were quite interesting to follow, and there was plenty of mystery to solve. In a school filled with 16 and 17-year-old girls the resulting drama and pettiness comes through well. It was an interesting read, and a decent read for Halloween when the reader may want something dark, but not especially frightening.

Happy reading 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This review is going to focus on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks written by Rebecca Skloot. This book was published in 2010–which means it’s out there for you to read folks! I had heard many good things about this book and bought it several years ago. Then I went back to graduate school and reading for fun wasn’t at the top of my priority list so this book lived on my TBR shelf for quite a while.

This book is a non-fiction biography that tells the story of Henrietta Lacks and her legacy through science and her family’s story. If you’re into science you may have heard of HeLa cells–they came from Henrietta.

Henrietta was a tobacco farmer. She lived and worked on the same land that her ancestors did. Then she got sick. She went to Johns Hopkins for some tests and found out that she had cervical cancer. The cells that were taken for biopsy were also used to try and grow more cells for research, without her consent. These cells were the beginning of HeLa, and they are still alive today.

Although Henrietta succumbed to her disease, her cells were responsible for virus and cancer research, studying the aftermath of an atom bomb, and helping to develop the polio vaccine, in vitro ferilization and gene mapping to name a few uses.

Not only did Rebecca Skloot bring to light the scientific importance of the cells, but she highlights the wrong doing that the scientific community performed by taking human cells without permission, and also by not financially helping the Lacks family.

Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah is a large part of the research that Rebecca did to uncover the story behind HeLa. Deborah and her siblings did not handle learning about the cells well. Deborah didn’t understand how cells work, and had many health problems of her own.

This book was very interesting in that it talked in both science and emotion. I finished reading this book in just a couple days and would love to learn more about what HeLa has helped develop around the world. However, it is also an important work highlighting injustices against African Americans in this country and an example of how they were taken advantage of and experimented on.

Happy reading 🙂