Review: The Hacienda by Isabel Canas

THIS BOOK! This book was at the top of my TBR list for months. The second I read the description, I KNEW this book would be right up my alley! It’s been described as a cross between Rebecca and Mexican Gothic, both of which I loved for different reasons and I think this is absolutely an accurate description of the story. I would also recommend it to anyone who loves Simone St James—-if you love her ghost stories, you will love this book!

I wanted to bust into this book the second it came in the mail, but I held off until it was a little closer to the release day. And let me just tell you that was so hard! I loved the book so much, that I also downloaded the Audible version so I could compare how reading the story was different from listening to it. Personally I liked the Audible version better but reading it was just as exciting.

This book has been on many many top recommended lists and also was featured on Book of the Month. I can say with absolute conviction that this book was absolutely worth all the hype. I loved how rich it was with folklore, religion, and socioeconomics of the time period. This is much more than just a ghost story or a horror story—it had a lot of topics that I think would also work for book clubs. This is the rare book that really works for a lot of people even if you are not a fan of horror or ghost stories.

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Special Feature and Excerpt: Mrs. England by Stacey Halls

You all know how much I love a great Edwardian era historical fiction book right?! There aren’t many out there that purely focus on the Edwardian era, most start with late Victorian or Great War and just skip right on over the Edwardian era all together. That was one of the reasons this book stood out to me since it is actually set in my favorite era plus it has some Gothic elements—absolutely sold. This book focuses on specifically the Edwardian era marriage and I am so looking forward to reading this one! It’s been getting lots of rave review and I have it added to my TBR for later this spring.

This book has mystery, romance, gothic goodness and history all promised in its description and I am absolutely here for it. I have a lovely excerpt to share with you guys today and I loved reading it so I hope you all do as well. Author Stacey Halls has written The Familiars and The Lost Orphan which I read a couple of years ago and really enjoyed!

I think Halls has a wonderful gift for telling atmospheric historical fiction with lots of attention to detail! I am really looking forward to this latest book and after reading some of the early reviews I am even more excited to check it out. If like me, you are a fan of the Gothic with history mixed in then you will want to grab this one for you spring reading. Set in the Yorkshire moors, this is going to be an eerie read with lots to devour no doubt! Be sure to keep reading for an excerpt of this sunning new historical fiction read! I love how it’s described as a slow burn menace—I am already hooked and I haven’t even started reading it yet!

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Review: The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St James

I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a fan I am of Simone St James! I have read every single one of her books and she is absolutely an auto buy author for me. I had her latest novel pre ordered for MONTHS in advance. I am just a massive fan girl. Her books (especially the more recent ones) are the perfect mix of murder, ghosts, horror, and gothic. I can’t say enough good things about her books just read them if you haven’t already! Especially the newest books like The Broken Girls and The Sun Down Motel.

I didn’t think a book could top The Broken Girls and then along came The Sun Down Motel. I loved them both for different reasons and then this book came along! Besides being a massive St James fan girl, the thing that drew me to this book was the setting! This book is set in Oregon and there is something about the Pac NW that really works for murder books!

Since I live in Oregon (which has been home to its fair share of serial killers) I was eager to see my state come alive under St James’s pen. Clear Lake Oregon (which is where the book is set) is both a fictional place and a real place if that makes sense. There isn’t a coastal town, or any town for that matter that is called Clear Lake as it is in the book, but there is an actual mountain lake called Clear Lake (which is stunning by the way and a must see if you travel to Oregon!). But even if it’s a fictional town, the accuracy and the haunting feel of the Pac NW was captured perfectly in this one and added so much to the atmosphere!

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Review: Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal

I read Elizabeth Macneal’s debut novel, The Doll Factory, a couple of years ago and loved it. I was super excited to see this book was coming out and I absolutely love the cover. The cover is eye catching and bright and just screams ‘circus theme’ and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Honestly the cover and title implied that it would be a lot more whimsical and happy then it actually was.

Having read her previous novel, I was not entirely surprised that this book was a bit more serious than the cover implies. Macneal has a great way of capturing the atmosphere of late Victorian England and she has a strong sense of history as well as creating memorable characters. In her book The Doll Factory, I seem to recall that her characters had some disfigurements and in this one the main character also suffers from a disfigurement. This little detail really makes for powerful and outstanding characters which is why her books themselves stand out for me so much.

If you love historical fiction but want something a little different with a hint of circus glamour then you need to read this book. I loved the atmosphere and story more than I thought I would. While I love the cover, I think it implies more of a carefree story inside but this one had substance and so much to remember. I really liked it as a follow up to The Doll Factory, the books aren’t related but I see themes in both and I love that Macneal has such a wonderful style that will stand out to readers.

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Review: Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen

I read one of Julie Klassen’s books a few years ago and absolutely loved it. She reminds me of a modern Victoria Holt and by modern I don’t mean her stories, as they are all historical fiction, but modern in that Klassen is a modern woman and she writes strong, vibrant heroines! I was super excited to check out this latest novel from Klassen so when it came up for review, naturally it was a no brainer as a YES!

In the historical fiction world, there are a ton of Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart fans and for good reason. Their novels really took the small ‘Gothic romance’ genre and brought it forward into the modern era. Now tat both of these talented writers have passed away, I know that I am always looking for a new writer to rise to the top of the Gothic romance genre.

Sure there are plenty out there who claim to be similar to Holt or Stewart, however when I think of an author who is most like Holt I always come back to Klassen. I know a lot of people have described this one as Christie meets Austen which I agree with but I still always think of Victoria Holt when I read Klassen’s books! I just love how well done the romances are and how new the mystery or family secrets feel and this book did not disappoint! If you are looking for an excellent gothic romance with a lovely crumbling and possibly haunted abbey—then look no further! I simply adored this book and I am sure you will too!

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