Review: Tripping Arcadia

Rating: ★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Dutton Books) for promotional purposes. 

This book had such a great premise. I love gothic novels, however, the execution could have been better. 

The book started off strong. As soon as the main character, Lena, started working for the mysterious Verdeau family, I was intrigued and was excited to see where the story would go. The book held steady until the last 1/3. The story seemed to be losing its momentum by that point, like it didn’t quite know where it should go. By the end, I felt let down. I was expecting a big reveal or twist but nothing shocked me or made me have an “aha” moment. 

One thing I did like about the book were the supporting characters of the Verdeau siblings, Audrey and Jonathan. They were both fascinating characters with well developed character arcs. Audrey was stuck in the middle trying to balance what she wanted versus what her dad wanted, while Jonathan was such a melancholy and tragic character who was obsessed with death. Their separate relationships with Lena was also interesting to see unfold. They each had such different relationships with Lena. It made for a nice juxtaposition. 

The author’s writing style worked with the overall vibe of the book (gothic with a touch of dark academia), although it could be a little wordy at times. 

As a whole, the plot itself was on the weak side, but the strong supporting characters helped the story. If you’re into gothic novels or stories about poison (this book is all about poison), then I would still say to give the book a shot! It might work for you. 

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Review: Plain Bad Heroines

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (William Morrow Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

This was such a unique read! 

The best part of this book was definitely the overall vibe and aesthetic. It had a slightly creepy and gothic feel that ran throughout the entire book, even the present day parts. There was also a fair amount of humor and satire that worked well with the gothic vibes and made for an interesting juxtaposition. 

The structure of the book was very clever. The story within a story element was well done and very engaging. I also liked the footnotes. They were very entertaining and added even more humor to the story.

The story started out very strong, but I was a little disappointed at the end. It didn’t live up to my expectations. I was expecting more of a big reveal or an “a-ha” moment. There are still some things that I am a little confused on. 

This book is classified by horror, but many other reviewers say they find it to be very light on horror. I agree with that and I would say that it is more of a gothic horror. The horror is more of a gothic creepiness than any sort of gore or violence. 

The book also has illustrations throughout the book which I found to be a nice touch. There is even a map of the school which made navigating the story easy. 

Overall, I enjoyed the aesthetic of this book the most. I recommend it if you’re looking for something a little different to read.

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Review: Catherine House

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Custom House) for promotional purposes. 

I know not a lot of people liked this book, but I oddly liked it. It’s not going to be an all time favorite of mine, but I was satisfied with it. 

A lot of people say that nothing happens in the book and there is some merit to that. There are a lot of scenes that aren’t that important to the book because they are kind of mundane. To me, I liked those parts because it helped highlight what life was like at the school. The school is the core of the book, so those parts were necessary. 

Speaking of the school, the author did a tremendous job giving Catherine House a voice and personality. Catherine House was a character itself. 

As for the ending, I liked it. It was a little ambiguous which I typically don’t like, but for this book it worked. The book is mysterious and I liked that it kept that element through the end. 

I really liked the writing style. There was something about it that pulled me deeper and deeper into the story. It was haunting and mesmerizing.

One critique I have is that the book didn’t do a good job explaining plasm. I still don’t fully understand that part. I understand what it is generally, but don’t grasp how it works.

Overall, this book will not be for everyone, so I recommend you read it for yourself and see what you think! 

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Review: The Ancestor

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received this book for free free as part of an Instagram tour (TLC Book Tours specifically) I did to promote the book.

Wow. This was one of the most fascinating novels I have read in a long time. 

First off, I love that the book description does not give away too much. You get to discover the truth about Bert’s family on your own. 

It’s really hard to describe this book because it is so unique and I don’t want to spoil anything. There’s some gothic suspense, but also some family tragedy. Then underneath that there is the element of genetics. It just makes an intriguing combination. 

The book is also so beautifully written and encapsulates the creepy gothic vibe perfectly. The author is an amazing storyteller. 

Lastly, the book has some wonderful descriptions of books and reading. One of the characters states:

“These books are like living creatures to me. Caring for them takes a great deal of time. I repair damaged spines…No one ever thinks that books need tenderness, but they do, quite a lot, in fact”

pg 117

At another point the main character states:

“Stories became a place of respite, a refuge from the thoughts that swirled through my mind like acid in a stomach. I clung to these books with the same obsessive need that I had felt for the genepy, reading them with an addictive greed…Had it not been for my time in bed, I might never have come to love books as I had, or developed the desire to write about my own tragic life”

pg 226

Overall, this is a book you have to read for yourself. I know there will be some people who read it and won’t like it and that’s totally okay. But others will just devour it. It’s a very different book so the only way to know is to read it for yourself. 

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Review: Lady Jayne Disappears

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from JustRead tours as part of their Blind Date with a Book tour. 

First off, I just want to say that JustRead tours did an amazing job matching me with this book. It was right up my alley. 

This book was like Jane Eyre meets a Charles Dickens novel and I loved it. It’s like Jane Eyre in the sense that the main character is living in a mysterious house with people above her station. Similar to a Dickens novel, this book deals with and shed light on some unsavory things about the Victorian era like debtors’ prison. 

I loved the vibe of this book. It’s mysterious with a hint of a gothic feel to it. 

There’s a little bit of romance too. The love interest was perfect for the main character. They were really good together. Also, he was an avid reader so you gotta love him. At point he says, “I admit I’man escapist when it comes to books.  I become drunk on story, on words, as a buffer against reality” (pg. 104). 

This book is Christian fiction but it is very light on the religious aspects. It doesn’t overpower the story itself which I liked. 

The only thing I didn’t love was that the mystery wasn’t as exciting as I would have liked. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable Victorian tale with a beautiful blend of romance and mystery. 

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