THE VANISHED BRIDE by Bella Ellis {Review}


Series: A Brontë Sisters Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


Before they became legendary writers, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, and Anne Brontë were detectors in this charming historical mystery…

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters–the Brontë sisters–learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril…


THE VANISHED BRIDE is a unique historical mystery that casts the famous Brontë sisters as amateur sleuths who set out to solve a local missing persons case. It’s 1845, and Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are once again living at home with their father Patrick and brother Branwell, before they became published authors. The sisters are struggling to find their place in the world as unmarried women who would prefer to set their own course in life. When they hear a young wife has disappeared under gruesome circumstances, the Brontës become “lady detectors” and use their smarts & daring to find out what happened.

I enjoyed this book very much! Not only was I intrigued by the twisty mystery, I absolutely loved being able to live in the world of the Brontës for a little while. From what I’ve previously learned about them, I think the author did a fantastic job capturing the sisters’ personalities, conflicts, and closeness to one another. Though the mystery was fictional, it had many elements that would have influenced this Charlotte to write Jane Eyre. THE VANISHED BRIDE is a must read for Brontë fans — intriguing, well-written, and great fun.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE WOLF WANTS IN by Laura McHugh {Review}


Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


In a small town ravaged by the opioid crisis, a woman confronts a dark secret about her brother’s shocking death–a gripping novel of suspense for fans of Sharp Objects and S-Town.

Sadie Keller is determined to find out how her brother died, even if no one else thinks it’s worth investigating. Untimely deaths are all too common in rural Blackwater, Kansas, where crime and overdoses are on the rise, and the small-town police force is consumed with the recent discovery of a child’s skull in the woods. Sadie is on her own, delving into the dark corners of a life her brother kept hidden and unearthing more questions than answers.

Eighteen-year-old Henley Pettit knows more than she’d like to about the seedy side of Blackwater, and she’s desperate to escape before she’s irreparably entangled in her family’s crimes. She dreams of disappearing and leaving her old life behind, but shedding the past is never easy, and getting out of town will be far more dangerous than she ever imagined.

As more bones are found in the woods, time is running out for Sadie to uncover the truth and for Henley to make her escape. Both women are torn between family loyalties and the weight of the secrets they carry, knowing full well that while some secrets are hard to live with, others will get you killed.

Like Laura McHugh’s previous award-winning thrillers, The Weight of Blood and Arrowood, The Wolf Wants In is an atmospheric, beautifully told novel that barrels toward a twisting, chilling end and keeps us turning the page to find out how these small-town secrets will unravel–and who will survive.


THE WOLF WANTS IN is a quiet mystery/family drama set in a small Kansas town. Sadie Keller believes her brother has died under suspicious circumstances and wants answers. At the same time police are investigating the discovery of a child’s skull found in the woods. Henley Pettit is just looking for a way out of Blackwater, a town of people plagued by the opioid epidemic, including her mother.

I very much enjoy Laura McHugh’s writing style and the way she crafts her atmospheric Midwestern settings. I don’t think the mystery & suspense elements in this book were as strong as in her previous novels (The Weight of Blood & Arrowood). There weren’t a lot of clues presented until the end, and I was left a bit confused about what happened & why. However, this character-driven book presents a realistic look at how poverty and opioid abuse affects people in small town America.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A GIRL NAMED ANNA by Lizzy Barber {Review}


Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Source: Review copy from publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


If your whole life is a lie, who can you trust? Raised in a quiet rural community, Anna has always been taught that her mamma’s rules are the only path to follow. But, on her eighteenth birthday, she defies her mamma for the first time in her life and goes to Astroland. She’s never been allowed to visit Florida’s biggest theme park, so why, when she arrives, does everything about it seem so familiar? And is there a connection to the mysterious letter she receives that same day—a letter addressing her by a different name?

Rosie has grown up in the shadow of the missing sister she barely remembers, her family fractured by years of searching without leads. Now, on the fifteenth anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, the media circus resumes as the funds dedicated to the search dry up, and Rosie vows to uncover the truth herself. But can she find the answer before it tears her family apart?

Winner of the Daily Mail First Novel Competition, A Girl Named Anna is a psychologically riveting read that introduces Lizzy Barber as an outstanding new voice in suspense fiction.


A GIRL NAMED ANNA is an engrossing debut novel that’s part mystery and part family drama. At the center of this book is a child abduction and its aftermath for everyone involved. The story alternates between two teenage protagonists: Anna in Florida, being raised by her very religious mother, and Rosie in England, whose older sister Emily vanished 15 years earlier at an amusement park. On this year’s anniversary of Emily’s disappearance, things happen that propel both girls forward to find out the truth. This was a suspenseful and emotional book that I couldn’t put down! I enjoyed Anna and Rosie’s alternating perspectives as their discoveries brought them closer and closer together. Gripping & unsettling!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

R.I.P. XIV Reading Challenge #ripxiv

What? Readers Imbibing Peril Reading Challenge
When? September 1, 2019 – October 31, 2019
Where? Link up @ readersimbibingperil.com
Why? It’s fun!!! 🎃
How? Read Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy,
Supernatural, Gothic, and Horror

R.I.P. XIV Books Read:

      1. A GIRL NAMED ANNA by Lizzy Barber
      2. THE WOLF WANTS IN by Laura McHugh
      3. THE STRANGERS by Margaret Peterson Haddix
      4. THE VANISHED BRIDE by Bella Ellis

 

ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER by Hazel Prior {Review}


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★


A rich, heartwarming and charming debut novel that reminds us that sometimes you find love in the most unexpected places.

Dan Hollis lives a happy, solitary life carving exquisite Celtic harps in his barn in the countryside of the English moors. Here he can be himself, away from social situations that he doesn’t always get right or completely understand.

On the anniversary of her beloved father’s death, Ellie Jacobs takes a walk in the woods and comes across Dan’s barn. She is enchanted by his collection. Dan gives her a harp made of cherrywood to match her cherry socks. He stores it for her, ready for whenever she’d like to take lessons.

Ellie begins visiting Dan almost daily and quickly learns that he isn’t like other people. He makes her sandwiches precisely cut into triangles and repeatedly counts the (seventeen) steps of the wooden staircase to the upstairs practice room. Ellie soon realizes Dan isn’t just different; in many ways, his world is better, and he gives her a fresh perspective on her own life.


Dan is a harpmaker, crafting gorgeous Celtic harps in his barn in the English countryside. Ellie is a housewife who stumbles upon Dan’s barn one day. He gives her a harp that matches the color of her socks, giving Ellie’s humdrum life a gentle nudge in a different direction.

I love Celtic harp music, so the description of this book pulled me in. I enjoyed Dan’s character the most. He was a bit quirky with a unique way of seeing the world. On the other hand I struggled with Ellie’s character. She came off as part flighty and part doormat, though I appreciate what she did for Dan as the story progressed. (Not everything though!)

ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER was a light and sweet story with an almost fairy tale quality to it. I was not quite convinced of the romance between the two main characters, but it is a lovely story of friendship, and also finding one’s self identity.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.