Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Blog Tour + Review - Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Mexican Gothic
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Pages: 336
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Release Date: 30th June 2020

Blurb from Goodreads:
He is trying to poison me. You must come for me, Noemí. You have to save me.

When glamorous socialite Noemí Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging to be rescued from a mysterious doom, it's clear something is desperately amiss. Catalina has always had a flair for the dramatic, but her claims that her husband is poisoning her and her visions of restless ghosts seem remarkable, even for her.
Noemí's chic gowns and perfect lipstick are more suited to cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing, but she immediately heads to High Place, a remote mansion in the Mexican countryside, determined to discover what is so affecting her cousin.

Tough and smart, she possesses an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin's new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi's dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family's youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family's past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family's once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to leave this enigmatic house behind . . .

My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Jo Fletcher Books and NetGalley*

Noemí Taboada usually spends her time drinking champagne and flirting with eligible men.
Then her father receives a worrying letter from Noemí’s recently married cousin, Catalina, who claims her new home is full of ghosts and that her husband is poisoning her, and Catalina begs Noemí to save her. Noemí’s father decides to send his daughter to investigate and determine whether there is any truth in Catalina’s letter or if she needs psychiatric help.

Noemí sets of to High Place, Catalina’s new home, and the home of Catalina’s husband and family.

High Place and the Doyle family are strange and Noemí finds that her only ally is Francis, the youngest of the family. Francis helps Noemí, but is afraid of upsetting the rest of the Doyles.

Noemí soon begins having strange dreams and digs into the Doyle family past.

What secrets are the family keeping?

Is Catalina telling the truth?

I’m a huge fan of the author’s previous novel, Gods of Jade and Shadow, so I was very excited to read Mexican Gothic. While I don’t usually watch or read horror, I was intrigued and willing to give this a go, and I’m glad that I did.

I wasn’t sure how much I would like Noemí, but I did like her and found her to be relatable. There was a lot more to her than there appeared to be. She was out of her depth at High Place so it was interesting to read her interactions with the other characters and her thoughts.

Apart from Noemí, Francis was my favourite character. I really felt for him and wanted to give him a hug.

I really liked that the novel was set in 1950s Mexico and I felt that the author did an excellent job of making High Place very atmospheric and real. There were a few times when I almost felt like I was within the rundown walls of the house alongside Noemí.

The plot was good and held my attention. It did take a little while to get going, but once it did I found myself getting sucked into the story. I did have an inkling about one of the twists, but didn’t guess them all entirely.

There were a few times when I found what I was reading quite disturbing and I was most definitely thoroughly creeped out, which I think shows just how good the author’s writing is. This book is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Mexican Gothic is a novel that has something for everyone – action, mystery, historical elements, hints of romance, horror, and well-written characters.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read that I would recommend.

Monday, June 29, 2020

June Wrap-Up



 Seven Devils (Seven Devils, #1) by Elizabeth May and Laura Lam - eARC - 3.5/5 stars - review to come.
Loveboat, Taipei (Loveboat, Taipei, #1) by Abigail Hing Wen - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia - eARC - 3.5/5 stars - review to come.

 Blood Heir (Blood Heir, #1) by Amelie Wen Zhao - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.
Hold Back the Tide by Melinda Salisbury - Kindle copy - 3/5 stars.
Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.

The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde - eARC - 4/5 stars - review to come.
Shielded (Shielded, #1) by KayLynn Flanders - eARC - 3.5/5 stars - review to come.


 I picked up Kindle copies of both of these for 99p!

These are books I was approved on NetGalley:


 I hosted a guest post as part of the blog tour for The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant which can be found here.

The Falling in Love Montage is another blog tour that I took part in this month. I hosted an interview with the Ciara Smyth which can be read here.

To celebrate the release of The Empire of Gold, the third and final book in the Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty, I created a post with my five star review and five reasons that everyone should read the series. Read it here.

 I also hosted an interview as part the blog tour for The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen, which can be read here.

Another blog tour I participated in was for Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey. I hosted an interview, which can be read here.


Night Spinner (Night Spinner, #1) by Addie Thorley

What did you read this month?


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Blog Tour + Guest Post + Giveaway - Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey

 Find the tour schedule here.


Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 23rd 2020
Genres: Historical Romance, Young Adult

A twisty tale reminiscent of Jane Austen—with a dash of murder—Cindy Anstey’s Deadly Curious is perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Agatha Christie.

Some secrets are better left buried…

1834. Sophia Thompson wants nothing more than to be one of the famed Bow Street Runners, London’s most elite corps of detectives. Never mind that a woman has never before joined their ranks—and certainly never mind that her reclusive family has forbidden her from pursuing such an unladylike goal.

She gets the chance to prove her capabilities when an urgent letter arrives from her frantic cousin Daphne, begging Sophia to come look into the suspicious death of Daphne’s brother.

As Sophia begins to unravel the tangled threads of the case—with the help of a charming young policeman—she soon realizes that the murderer may be even closer to her family than she ever suspected.

 Book Links:

Five things I Researched for Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey 
As a historical fiction writer, I have to do a lot of research to ensure that I get the facts right. I would not want to refer to toothpaste before it was available or have a cook turning on a gas stove before 1828. Innovation dates differ between the US and the UK (even more confusing when you throw Canada into the mix) and so I have to make certain that my materials are country specific as Deadly Curious is set in 1830s England. Every time I shift a decade, a new set of social rules has to be learned as well as clothing styles and food preferences. There are other more insidious differences that require a little more time and consideration. Such as: 
1) Policing: Law enforcement was in its infancy and did not function in the countryside the same way as in London. I had to research how and why the Bow Street Runners left the city to investigate. How they worked in conjunction with the local constabulary, and who would be sent. Policing England’s small villages and towns was not yet a fulltime job; it was often taken on as an additional occupation without any specific education. The officers of Bow Street were trained and hired to investigate any serious crime, such as murder and arson.

2) Gamekeepers and poachers: A gamekeeper was a man hired to protect and preserve the game (deer, rabbits, pheasants, quail etc.) on a large estate. A poacher was someone who shot or trapped these protected creatures for their own purposes, to sell or eat. As anyone would imagine, there was a great deal of animosity between these two groups. 
3) Carriage Travel: While there is a plethora of books that will tell you what carriages, coaches or wagons looked like, if they were equipped with a lamp or needed 4 horses to pull them, few say ‘it took xx hours to reach London from Brighton/Bath/Edinburgh. I did learn that the average coach could travel 20 to 30 miles in an eight-hour day—depending on the terrain and fitness of the horses. Using a map, I could guess how long a trip across country would take by the distance. Some years were rainier than others. The muddy conditions would slow traffic down and so I would then turn to Google for weather conditions of that year. (Yes, you can find anything on the Internet.) 
4) Fairs: Markets and Fairs were popular as a pastime and a necessity. Food fairs/markets were held in towns weekly; specialty fairs were yearly, such as the hiring fair at the end of the farming season. A hiring fair was a type of labor exchange. Those seeking employment would carry a tool of their trade. To name a few: some carried a pail or mop, a pitchfork or a tuft of wool. 
5) Fashion: By shifting away from the British Regency period (1811 to 1820) of my previous books and stepping into the 1830s, I had a chance to learn more about their clothing, particularly ladies’ gowns. While they still had ankle length skirts, the waist had dropped to a near normal position. Puffed sleeves abounded, as did dropped shoulders, pleats, bows and embellishments of one kind or another. Soft colors were still the preferred tones for young ladies. 
These are just a few of my research projects for Deadly Curious. As I started writing I had more questions and was constantly turning to my library, the bookstore or the Internet for answers. While I may not have lived in the 1830, research helps me pull the reader into the past.

Author Bio
Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.
 She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

 Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester.

 Author Links:

Tour-wide giveaway

Open INT


Monday, June 22, 2020

Review - Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Title: Jane Anonymous
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Pages: 310
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: 7th January 2020

Blurb from Goodreads:

Seven months.

That’s how long I was kept captive. 
Locked in a room with a bed, refrigerator, and adjoining bathroom, I was instructed to eat, bathe, and behave. I received meals, laundered clothes, and toiletries through a cat door, never knowing if it was day or night. The last time I saw the face of my abductor was when he dragged me fighting from the trunk of his car. My only solace was Mason—one of the other kidnapped teens—and our pact to one day escape together. But when that day finally came, I had to leave him behind.

Now that I’m home, my parents and friends want everything to be like it was before I left. But they don’t understand that dining out and shopping trips can’t heal what’s broken inside me. I barely leave my bedroom. Therapists are clueless and condescending. So I start my own form of therapy—but writing about my experience awakens uncomfortable memories, ones that should’ve stayed buried. 

When I ask the detectives assigned to my case about Mason, I get an answer I don’t believe—that there were no traces of any other kidnapped kids. But I distinctly remember the screams, holding hands with Mason through a hole in my wall, and sharing a chocolate bar. I don’t believe he wasn’t really there and I’m determined to find him. How far will I have to go to uncover the truth of what happened—and will it break me forever?

Book Links:

My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley*

Jane Anonymous, a seventeen-year-old young woman, was kidnapped and kept locked up for seven months.

Jane's life became limited to two rooms and she had to rely on her kidnapper for food, clothes, and other items that were delivered through a flap in the door.

Jane would have gone crazy if not for Mason, one of the kidnapper's other victims. Jane and Mason kept each other going and planned to escape together. But when Jane did escape, she had to do so without Mason.

Now back home, Jane struggles with everyday life and doesn't believe the detectives assigned to her case who tell her that there are no signs of other kidnapped people at the crime scene except for her.

Jane is determined to find Mason so they can be reunited, but can she trust her memories of what happened?

Can Jane go back to the girl she used to be?

Jane Anonymous is told in chapters set in the past and in the present. It was interesting to read the chapters set in the past knowing that Jane does escape and that she is questioning what happened when in the present.

I really sympathised with Jane and was rooting for her to escape and find a way to heal or talk to someone about what happened to her. I just wanted to reach into the book, give her a hug and tell her that everything would be all right in the end.

The plot was interesting and held my attention, but I wasn't gripped or thinking about the book when I wasn't reading it.

The writing style was easy to follow and I ended up reading this very quickly.

I felt that the author handled the dark subjects in the book well.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Review - Blood Heir (Blood Heir Trilogy, #1) by Amélie Wen Zhao

Title: Blood Heir (Blood Heir Trilogy, #1)
Author: Amélie Wen Zhao
Pages: 400
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Release Date: 21st November 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:
In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls. 

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

My Review:
*I receiced an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to HarperVoyager and NetGalley*

Anastacya 'Ana' Mikhailov is the crown princess of the Cyrilian Empire. Ana hasn't left the palace for several years, because of her ability to control blood. In the Cyrilian Empire, people with gifts, or Affinities, like Ana are feared and forced to work. No one can know about Ana's ability.

Then the emperor, Ana's father, is murdered and Ana is framed. Fleeing the castle, Ana vows to bring the real murderer to justice and to clear her name.

Ana finds herself allying with Ramson Quicktongue, a criminal who is on his own quest for revenge.

Ana and Ramson make a deal, but can Ana trust the con man?

Will Ana catch the man she saw poisoning her father that fateful night?

I have to admit that going into this book I was expecting it to be just like every other YA fantasy I've read the past few years. However, it did end up surprising me.

Ana was a likeable and relatable protagonist. It was interesting to read her thoughts on her power. She didn't shy away from using it when she had to (and didn't have to), which was quite refreshing.

I really liked May and Linn, and Ramson was quite likeable, but I felt like I'd seen several characters like him before.

The setting was interesting and I would like to see/find out more about the other countries that were mentioned.

The plot was good overall, but I did find my attention drifting a couple of times. There were a few plot twists that I didn't see coming, so I was left guessing as to what would happen next.

The writing style was easy to follow and understand.

I haven't decided if I will continue with the series, but this was a solid first book.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Blog Tour + Interview + Giveaway - The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen

Find the tour schedule here.

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen

Publisher: Wattpad Books

Release Date: June 16, 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction


It’s the summer of 1955. For Ethan Harper, a biracial kid raised

mostly by his white father, race has always been a distant

conversation. When he’s sent to spend the summer with his aunt 

and uncle in small-town Alabama, his Blackness is suddenly front 

and center, and no one is shy about making it known he’s not 

welcome there. Except for Juniper Jones. The town’s resident 

oddball and free spirit, she’s everything the townspeople 

aren’t―open, kind, and full of acceptance.

Armed with two bikes and an unlimited supply of root beer floats, 

Ethan and Juniper set out to find their place in a town that’s bent 

on rejecting them. As Ethan is confronted for the first time by what 

it means to be Black in America, Juniper tries to help him see the 

beauty in even the ugliest reality, and that even the darkest days 

can give rise to an invincible summer.

Daven McQueen’s Juniper Jones is a character for all ages in this

sweet coming of age story set in 1950s Alabama.

Book Links:

How did you come up with the idea for The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones? 

The idea for an ‘invincible summer’ came from an Albert Camus quote that I loved at the time, but the story itself really started with me wanting to write a summer lakeside story. At the same time, I was realizing that pretty much everything I’d written up to that point had featured white characters, mostly because it’d always been indirectly signaled to me that that was what people wanted to read. I really wanted to start writing stories I could see myself in, so I decide to tackle both at once. 

Did you do any research for The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones? 

I did do a lot of research, though in hindsight, during my first draft, I wasn’t exactly researching the right things. I spent a lot of time brushing up on fifties slang, TV news programs, what people wore, the kinds of cars they drove – so mostly surface level stuff. I drew a lot on my own experiences with race and what I’d learned about the Jim Crow era in school, which you know, wasn’t much. Coming back to the story years later with my editor, though, gave me a chance to do deeper research into how racism really manifested in the South at that time. 

Do you have a favourite character in The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones? 

I know popular opinion is that Juniper is the best, and she’s great – but I really love Ethan. I loved writing his growth and I think he’s so earnest and has so much capacity for friendship. 

What was your favourite part of writing The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones? 

 I really loved writing the scenes of Ethan and Juniper having their adventures around Ellison – their friendship was so much fun to bring to life. 

Do you have any advice for new writers? 

 Just keep writing! It can feel daunting and futile especially when you’re only a couple of chapters into what you imagine as 100k word novel, but the words will come. And you might not like some of them the first time around, but that’s what editing is for. 

What’s your favourite book/series? 

 An impossible question. But I’ve been reading a lot in quarantine, and a couple of my favorites have been Love by Toni Morrison, In the Country by Mia Alvar, and Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang.

About the Author


Daven McQueen grew up outside of Los Angeles, California. She

graduated from Brown University, where she earned a B.A. in 

literary arts and economics. When she’s not writing, Daven can be 

found tap dancing, embroidering, cooking, and eating dessert. She 

lives in Boston, Massachusetts and works in education.

Author Links:

 Tour-wide giveaway

Open to US only

* Please be aware that delays due to COVID-19 may occur on the shipping of the prizes *