Book Review│The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

cover165462-medium I recently got really into Marianne on Netflix. I binged the entire series in a weekend and was superbly creeped out the entire time. I loved the idea of a centuries old demonic witch having controlled a young writer into telling the world of her stories so that she could use the magic of influence to continue to kill and mame through brutal accidents each time the woman wrote a book. It was really well done and if you have a weekend where you just want to binge something creepy, I highly recommend it.

Similarly, Damien Angelica Walters takes us on a journey through the past and present to bring to life the story of a decades old murder and the tale of The Red Lady. Years ago, Heather was part of a club with her friends. They called it The Dead Girls Club because they would sit around and tell stories about death, the macabre and serial killers. Somewhere along the line, one of the girls, Becca, introduces the story of The Red Lady, who is a witch that was killed centuries ago.

After the story is shared, strange things start happening to the girls and ultimately tragedy strikes that summer when one of the girls is killed. Was it really The Red Lady or was it just hysteria among a group of 12-year-old girls? Years later, Heather is bent on finding the answer as she takes us back through her story and we weave into the past and present trying to put the pieces together. As Heather gets closer to the truth, mysterious threats and clues arrive, bringing Heather into a panic…who could really know what happened that summer? Who would know and why are they coming forward now? Heather becomes lost in a sea of time and regret, unable to distinguish between what is real and what is not, leaving us readers in just as panicked a state as we try to reach our own conclusions on whether or not Heather had killed Becca 30 years ago or if The Red Lady is, in fact, very real.

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters is the kind of horror thriller that will keep you reading until the early hours of the morning. This is a book that will keep you on your toes and won’t let you go until it’s done. Walters crafted a solid plot that immediately pulls you in and drives you through a roller coaster of events and moments before reaching it’s inevitable end. Just be sure to read this one with your lights on and your husband near by because you will feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and little noises will send  your book flying across the room– a wonderfully written thriller.

Book Information

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters is scheduled to be released on December 10, 2019, from Crooked Lane Books with ISBN 9781643851631. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Book Review│Across a Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood

cover163516-mediumWilhelmina “Willa” MacCarthy is your typical 18-year-old girl. She is stuck between what her devotedly religous family wants for her and what she wants for herself as she strives to find her own way in the world as a young woman. It is 1936 and her family would like nothing more than to see her become a nun. However, Willa has other plans. She is ahead of her time and longs to find her footing in medicine, a field that is almost completely male-dominated at the time. Change is coming though, both within the ideas that are held for women and within the physical area where Willa lives and works. The Golden Gate Bridge is being built and in many ways can serve as a metaphor for Willa’s ow bridge between her family obligations and her own dreams for herself.

As the story unfolds, we learn that Dr. Maloy, the local physician has retired and in his place, Dr. Katherine Winston has arrived. The town is buzzing with news of a female doctor and many are unsure if she can handle the position. Willa and Katherine spark up a friendship which leads to Willa accompanying Dr. Winston on her appointments and visits to patients. In her journey of self-discovery, we also get to fall in love with characters like, Paddy, the brother who believes in Willa from the very start. There is also Sam, a total sweetheart, that makes for that subtle young love that makes both Willa and Sam completely endearing overall.

This novel was a quick read with an enjoyable backdrop that illuminated Willa’s journey. Depression-era 1930’s San Francisco drove much of the story and made the setting enjoyable overall.

Book Information

Across a Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood is scheduled to be released on November 5, 2019, from Flux: North Star Editions with ISBN 9781635830422. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Book Review│The Mausoleum by David Mark

david markI was immediately drawn to this book and was really excited when the advanced galley was delivered to my kindle. The novel starts out with an elderly man on his death bed wracked with pain with two women standing over him in 2010. The women, Cordelia Hemlock and Felicity Goose have known each other for many years and have been investigating this unfolding historical mystery since the 1960’s when they first met.

A Chance Meeting in a Graveyard

In 1967, Cordelia is a disgraced academic who has recently arrived in a small town in Scotland called Gisland. She is deep in her grief over the loss of her 2-year-old son. She finds solace in the neighboring graveyard and spends her time among the tombstones, perhaps longing to some connection to her deceased son or to death itself. Felicity comes upon her one day, laying among the graves. The two women strike up a conversation just as a storm blows in bringing heavy rain and severe lightning with it. Felicity offers to let Cordelia come back to her cottage with her since it is closer than where Cordelia is staying. Just as the two are leaving, lightning strikes a nearby mausoleum causing it to break open and reveals a body that is only days old. The two women rush to Felicity’s home where they tell her neighbor Fairfax about it. He then rushes out to see the body and get the constable. Only, he is killed and it is found that the body is gone from the mausoleum. Thus begins a long friendship between Cordelia and Felicity that spans decades as they try to uncover the mystery of the body that they found all those years ago.

A Nazi Gestapo & the French Milice

The Mausoleum became an engrossing historical investigation that plunges the two women into the world of Nazi’s and their supporters. This story takes us back to the horrors of World War II and the pervading evilness that the Gestapo enacted on countless victims that for some, continued on even after the war was over. The French Milice are also part of the torture of this novel. While the Nazis dominated Germany, the Milice were a political group in France during the same time that aided in rounding up and deporting French Jews and their families to the concentration and death camps. Also similar to the Nazis who had Hitler Youths, the French Milice also encouraged youth to participate in their youth program known as the Avant-Garde.

The Mysterious Abel

Fairfax, prior to his untimely death, is a writer who records everything that he can get his hands on. One of the things he has recorded is the testimony of a man who describes his life and the torture he endured under the hands of the Nazi Gestapo and the French Milice. The account is horrendous and the abuse and torture seemed to be neverending. The testimony records the Gestapo’s name as being Abel. Could this Abel be the man that the two women found in the grave? The mystery only expands from here, sending the women deep into history to uncover the truth in the present. If you’re looking for a novel that unravels slowly and plunges you deep into a historical investigation then this is a mystery that you will have to pick up.

Book Information

The Mausoleum by David Mark will be released on June 1, 2019, from Severn House Publishers with ISBN 9780727888723. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review. To be linked to special pre-order pricing, click the link above!

Book Review│The Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll by Thomas Kingsley Troupe

dead eyed dollThomas Kingsley Troupe’s The Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll is scheduled to be released just in time for my favorite season: FALL!! Troupe’s book is a fictional encounter with one of the creepier things that exist in the world. Have you ever heard of Robert the Doll? He currently lives in a museum in Florida, but legend has it, he haunted the life of his former owner for years…well into the boy’s adulthood, marriage and eventual death.

Robert the Doll

Robert the Doll belonged to Robert Eugene Otto who lived in Key West, Florida. The doll was a gift to Robert from his grandfather for his birthday. As legend has it, the Robert used to blame any childhood mishap on the doll and soon the doll developed his own awareness to the world around him and later would move things around the room and disappear and reappear in different areas of the house. In his later years, Robert would the doll his own room where he would live until Robert and his wife later died. The new owner of their home described many supernatural occurrences involving the doll which would later be blamed for a variety of misfortunes including broken bones, car accidents and divorces. Today, Robert the Doll has a new home in a museum where visitors can see him first hand, but must heed his warnings of asking permission before taking his picture and must mind their manners, if not, Robert will take his revenge on you.

The Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll

Troupe’s novel is a short read, about 47 pages. It tells the story of Al, a young boy who takes part in a field trip to the museum to meet Robert the Doll. He and his friend, Selma are skeptical about Robert the Doll, but Selma also is fearful of the doll because as she says, but what if it IS real? She leaves Al alone with the doll and Al takes it upon himself to take a picture of Robert without his permission, completely disregarding the warning signs and the letters from people who have done the exact same thing to Robert in the past and have later had to apologize for their behavior. Al will later come to regret his decision as strange things start happening to Al and to those around him. Al must figure out how to accept that there are certain things in life that are just unexplainable and need to be respected…Robert the Doll is one of them.

The Haunted States of America Series

The Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll by Thomas Kingsley Troupe is the latest middle grades horror story in the Haunted States of America Series. This book series showcases a haunted tale from one of the 50 states with easy language and mild illustrations that help bring the creepy story to life. As a kid who grew up on RL Stine, I would definitely invest in this series for my son when he is older and looking for a creepy bedtime story. As a teacher, I would pick these up for early middle-grade readers who need a high-interest story to keep them motivated. Other books in Troupe’s Haunted States of America Series include Beware the Bell Witch, Ghostly Reunion, Spirits of the Storm and Trapped in Room 217

About the Author

Thomas Kingsley Troupe is a native of Minnesota. He has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books with many being geared more towards kids. His series include the Haunted in America Series as well as Hauntiques and Furry & Flo. When he is not writing, he enjoys ghost hunts and campy movies.

Book Information

Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll (Haunted States of America) by Thomas Kingsley Troupe will be released on September 1, 2019 from Jolly Fish Press with ISBN 9781631633485. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Book Review │Charleston Fancy by Witold Rybczynski

When I was an undergraduate at Rutgers University studying art history, one of my all time favorite books that I continually went back to and even now, will pick up from time to time were any of Peter Mayle’s Provence series. What I loved so much about them was that I was learning about life in Provence as an ex-pat through the life of someone who clearly loved Provence. I was learning through someone else’s passion and in so many ways that is the best way to learn because they will never cease to be an endless treasure trove of information about their subject.

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Charleston, South Carolina

I felt the same concept of learning through someone else’s passion with Witold Rybczynski’s Charleston Fancy. Instead of Provence, we are emersed in the world of Charleston, South Carolina, and its beautiful architecture. Charleston is a town with roots that go back to a time before the 1700’s when it was first occupied by British colonists who had landed on the Carolina coast. The city grew and has attracted varieties of people to its warm climate and abundance of different architecture that is notable throughout the town.

Rybczynski opens the world of Charleston, South Carolina up to his readers as we are informed about the various types of architecture that are present and the different types of people and characters we meet along the way. The novel brings Charleston to life through small vignettes and glimpses of Rybczynski’s cast of characters and homeowners as we are further exposed to the varied world of Charleston and its architecture.

Southern Architecture

When I think of Charleston, my mind immediately wonders off to verandas, wicker chairs and huge porches that are all sprinkled along tree-lined streets with brick sidewalks and beautiful masonry. While some parts of the south are like this, Rybczynski focuses his book on the surprises that Charleston has to bring us. From the small houses that hide beautiful courtyard verandas to Byzantine and Moorish beauties that are tucked away– he takes us on a ride through the surprises and beauty that is the prevailing sense of creativity that abounds throughout Charleston’s homes and architecture. It is detailed and colorful in his approach to bringing the world of Charleston, South Carolina for those of us who aren’t familiar.

Book Information

Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City by Witold Rybczynski will be released on May 28, 2019, from Yale University Press with ISBN 9780300229073. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Book Review │ Cherry Scones and Broken Bones by Darci Hannah

This is the second book of the Very Cherry Mystery Series. If you are looking for a cozy sort of mystery mixed up with a love triangle then this is one you have to pick up. We meet our main character Whitney, who has returned to her small Wisconsin town to take over control of her family’s bed and breakfast, The Cherry Orchard Inn.

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Whitney is an experienced manager and baker with her signature dish being cherry scones. Everything seems to be going well for Whitney, until, Silvia Lumiere a renowned portrait painter decides to book a two-month stay at the Inn. At first, everyone is extremely excited to have such a celebrity staying there, however, the tides quickly turn when Silvia’s true character comes out. She is the most unhappy of people and will find anything to complain about which gets on everyone’s last nerve.

It’s almost not shocking when she is found dead at the bottom of the stairs of the Inn with a cherry scone jammed in her mouth. Someone has shut her up permanently and everything seems to be pointing to Whitney as her murderer.

Despite being at the center of a murder mystery, Whitney does find time to find herself in the middle of a love triangle between herself, Jake and Jack’s friend Tate. This is where a lot of the drama happens as even though Whitney is a 30-something-year-old woman, she is incredibly immature when it comes to her romantic life. She’s too afraid to turn down Tate, but also too afraid to be rejected by Jack and it lends itself to much of the drama between all of them.

However, the twist at the end really brought this book together for me. While this is not a murder mystery that is littered with clues and it is more of a cozy, quick read than something more substantial, Darci Hannah does deliver a good, shocking end with a murderer that is not our romantically entwined heroin.

Cherry Scones & Broken Bones (A Very Cherry Mystery Book 2) by Darci Hannah will be released on June 8, 2019 from Midnight Ink with ISBN 9780738758381. This review refers to an advanced electronic galley that was shared in exchange for a review.

Book Review │ Manet and Modern Beauty

The following volume corresponds to exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago which runs from May 26 to September 8, 2019 and the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center which runs from October 8, 2019, to January 12, 2020.

manet

Unlike most Manet exhibitions, the curators of Manet and Modern Beauty chose to focus their show on a less popular period within Manet’s life: his later years. This is a period for the artist that is largely overlooked because it is such a shift from what Manet is so well-known for. The shift in his work is often attributed to his decline in health and his growing interest in fashion and women painters, namely Berthe Morisot, a woman created with being a source of inspiration for this period of his work.

Weaving together gorgeous reproductions of Manet’s works with essays and correspondence from the artist during this period in his life, Allan, Beeny, and Groom create an in-depth view of Manet and his later works. While the writing is academic in tone, the inclusion of the personal correspondence really illuminates where the artist was during this part of his life and how it could relate to why there is such a shift in his work from previous paintings.

As viewers, we get to see the lush social world that Manet found himself in during the 1870’s and 1880’s and in many ways, we can also uncover his commentary on this world that he lived in during his later years. With nearly 300 beautiful reproductions, Manet and Modern Beauty stands as a gorgeous literacy and artistic work that brings to life the later years of Eugène Manet.

Manet and Modern Beauty: The Artist’s Last Years edited by Scott Allan, Emily A. Beeny, and Gloria Groom will be released on June 25, 2019 from Getty Publishing with ISBN 9781606066041. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was shared in exchange for a review.