Review: Belle Morte

Title: Belle Morte
Author: Bella Higgin
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Parnormal, Contemporary
Publisher: Wattpad Books
Source: Raincoast Books
Format: Paperback ARC
Release Date: April 5, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

There’s only one way out.

Belle Morte. One of five houses where vampires reside as celebrities and humans are paid to be their living donors. While others came here seeking fortune, I came in search of my sister who walked into Belle Morte five months ago . . . and never walked back out.

Now that I’m here, the secrets about this world have proven to be much bigger than I ever anticipated. And lurking around every corner are shocking insinuations of what happened to my sister.

There’s only one person who might have the answers I need, and the undeniable pull I feel toward him is terrifying: Edmond Dantès―a vampire, and my mortal enemy.

The harder I try to resist him, the further I fall under his spell. And in one instant my life is irrevocably changed. My past becomes prologue and my fate becomes sealed behind these doors.

Belle Morte has spoken. And it may never let me go.

Review:

Belle Morte is one of the five vampire houses in the UK, where humans can work to be living blood donors to the vampires. Renie’s older sister June was obsessed with vampires, and she was chosen to live there. However, a few months later, June stopped sending letters to Renie and no one could tell her what happened. Renie decides to apply to live in Belle Morte to finally learn what happened to her, but when she arrives at the house, no one will answer her questions. Renie has to do her own investigation into what happened to her sister, but what she discovers is life changing. 

This was a refreshing vampire story. I loved that it focused on the “donor,” who had the job of giving their blood to vampires. Vampire are often characterized as predators but these ones paid people who wanted the chance to feed vampires. There were strict rules that they had to follow in the house to maintain a distance between the donors and the vampires, but they didn’t always follow these rules in this story. 

The vampire culture in this story reminded me of reality stars and influencers who are famous because of their famous parents or for no apparent reason. The vampires were rich and famous, just because they were vampires. A lot of the donors didn’t know what they were actually getting into by moving into the house, including June. This was an interesting way for the vampires to fit into modern society. 

Belle Morte is a fun and thrilling vampire story!

Thank you Raincoast Books and Wattpad Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Vampires Never Get Old edited by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker

Have you read Belle Morte? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: A Lullaby for Witches

Title: A Lullaby for Witches
Author: Hester Fox
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Publisher: Graydon House
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 1, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Two women. A history of witchcraft. And a deep-rooted female power that sings across the centuries. 

Once there was a young woman from a well-to-do New England family who never quite fit with the drawing rooms and parlors of her kin.

Called instead to the tangled woods and wild cliffs surrounding her family’s estate, Margaret Harlowe grew both stranger and more beautiful as she cultivated her uncanny power. Soon, whispers of “witch” dogged her footsteps, and Margaret’s power began to wind itself with the tendrils of something darker.

One hundred and fifty years later, Augusta Podos takes a dream job at Harlowe House, the historic home of a wealthy New England family that has been turned into a small museum in Tynemouth, Massachusetts. When Augusta stumbles across an oblique reference to a daughter of the Harlowes who has nearly been expunged from the historical record, the mystery is too intriguing to ignore.

But as she digs deeper, something sinister unfurls from its sleep, a dark power that binds one woman to the other across lines of blood and time. If Augusta can’t resist its allure, everything she knows and loves—including her very life—could be lost forever.

Review:

Augusta Podos has worked at a dead end job giving tours in Salem, when she discovers her dream job at the historic Hawlowe House. While working, she discovers a woman named Margaret Harlowe, who lived in the house a hundred and fifty years ago, but her life is a mystery. Augusta makes it her mission to find out everything she can about Margaret to get her the justice she deserved. However, her research reveals a close bond between the two women, that Augusta must overcome to finally get to the truth.

This was a tragic story about how women can be lost in history. Both Margaret and Augusta experienced abusive relationships. In Margaret’s case, it ended in her disappearance from history. Margaret was rumored to be a witch, and wasn’t well liked in her time, but she still deserved to live her life and have her story told after death. This story told the complete history of Margaret and tied up all the loose threads in the ending.

This story took a surprising supernatural turn that I wasn’t expecting. I really enjoyed the story but I wasn’t expecting it to have a supernatural, ghostly element. I won’t say too much about that so I don’t give any spoilers. This supernatural element was unexpected in a historical novel but I enjoyed it.

A Lullaby for Witches is a beautiful historical fiction story.

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book.

The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

About the author:

Hester Fox is a full-time writer and mother, with a background in museum work and historical archaeology. A native New-Englander, she now lives in rural Virginia with her husband and their son.

Have you read A Lullaby for Witches? What did you think of it?

Review: Bridge of Souls (Cassidy Blake #3)

Title: Bridge of Souls (Cassidy Blake #3)
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Middle Grade, Paranormal, Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: March 2, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Where there are ghosts, Cassidy Blake follows … unless it’s the other way around?

Cass thinks she might have this ghost-hunting thing down. After all, she and her ghost best friend, Jacob, have survived two haunted cities while travelling for her parents’ TV show.

But nothing can prepare Cass for New Orleans, which wears all of its hauntings on its sleeve. In a city of ghost tours and tombs, raucous music and all kinds of magic, Cass could get lost in all the colourful, grisly local legends. And the city’s biggest surprise is a foe Cass never expected to face: a servant of Death itself.

Cass takes on her most dangerous challenge yet…

Review:

Cassidy Blake travels with her parents to New Orleans to film their paranormal tv show. Cassidy’s parents don’t know that she’s a ghost hunter, who is always accompanied by her ghost best friend Jacob. New Orleans is a haunted city, filled with ghosts for Cassidy to hunt down. However, soon after she arrives, she sees a mysterious person with a skeleton mask, who she first saw in Paris. This person is an emissary of Death, who has come to claim what Cassidy stole from Death. She must figure out how to get rid of the emissary before her time is up.

This is one of my favourite series. I love them as an adult, and I know I would have loved it as a young reader. The story is fast paced and creepy, so it flies by quickly.

I definitely want to visit New Orleans after reading this story. Cassidy and her parents visited many haunted areas of the city. There’s a lot of dark history and ghosts stories in New Orleans. They were even more creepy in this story, since Cassidy could look within the veil, where ghosts live, and see the ghosts herself. I love paranormal stories like this one, so I’d love to visit New Orleans.

This is such a fun series! I hope Victoria Schwab writes more Cassidy Blake stories in the future.

What to read next:

Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Other books in the series:

Have you read Bridge of Souls? What did you think of it?

Review: Screech!

Title: Screech!
Author: Charis Cotter, Genevieve Simms (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Nimbus Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 31, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The whole world seemed to tilt at that moment, like a painting on a wall that gets knocked a little crooked. Everything she had known as real up until now was slightly altered, and she seemed to be standing on the edge of a huge, dark, trembling world that was just a little different than it had been one minute before. Ghosts were real.

There is no dark like the Newfoundland dark. These ominous words beckon young readers onward in this spooky collection of ghost stories by celebrated ghost story-teller and award-winning middle-grade author Charis Cotter. Reimagined from family stories told across Newfoundland and passed down over generations, these 10 spine-tingling tales traverse centuries and introduce readers to the Rock’s nooks and crannies. From a ghostly blueberry-picker on the barrens to a visit from the notorious Old Hag, from a mysterious ballet troupe in a St. John’s mansion to a haunted house in an outport community on the cusp of resettlement, these stories bring the island of Newfoundland to vibrant new life (and death) as the thread of these years-old yarns is unravelled for a whole new generation. 

Featuring ghostly black-and-white illustrations from Newfoundland artist Genevieve Simms, as well as an overview of the Newfoundland storytelling tradition, and a Story Behind the Story for each tale including context on the story’s history, its original teller, its featured ghost, and setting, along with tips for spooky storytelling and a Glossary of Newfoundland terms, Screech! is equal parts eerie and educational, making it a riveting read as well as a great resource for budding historians and storytellers.

Review:

This book has a collection of ghost stories from Newfoundland. These stories are based on real events from the last few centuries. Newfoundland has a long history of shipwrecks, illnesses, and hard living conditions. These elements created the atmosphere for ghost stories.

One thing that I loved about these stories was that after each story, there was a description of the origins of the story. The location of the story was described, because every town in Newfoundland has it’s own history and different living conditions. The type of ghost was described, because some were ghost stories that have appeared throughout time, such as a loved one appearing at their time of death. The author also talked about where she heard the story. I loved this historical explanation of the stories.

This is a great collection of ghost stories from Newfoundland!

Thank you Nimbus Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Swallow: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter

Have you read Screech!? What did you think of it?

Review: The Archived (The Archived #1)

Title: The Archived (The Archived #1)
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost, Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

Review:

Mackenzie Bishop’s family moves to a renovated hotel for a fresh start after the death of her brother and her grandfather. Mac had a special bond with her grandfather: they were both Keepers, people who return the dead to the Library where they belong. The dead are called Histories, and sometimes they escape the shelves in the Library where they are kept, and they can wreck havoc in the world if they get out. Mac meets Wes, another Keeper who often visits her new building. Mac has to adjust to her new home and the Histories that are kept there, while also piecing together the crumbling Library.

This was an original ghost story. The “ghosts” are called histories, and they are kept in a library. When they get out, they can become dangerous, so it’s important that a Keeper returns them to the library using their special key. I loved how the library and books played an important role in protecting people from the ghosts.

There were some flashbacks in this story to when Mac was taught how to be a Keeper from her grandfather, who she calls Da. These flashbacks were jarring at first, because I didn’t know who he was and when these flashbacks were happening. A couple of chapters into the story, I got into the flow of the narrative and I loved Mac’s voice in the story.

This is a great, original ghost story!

What to read next:

The Unbound (The Archived #2) by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Other books in the series:

  • The Unbound

Have you read The Archived? What did you think of it?

Review: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)

Title: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 27, 2007
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Review:

When Clary Fray goes to an all-ages nightclub in New York City with her best friend, she witnesses a murder of a teenager by three other teens. However, her best friend Simon couldn’t see them. One of the teens, Jace, finds Clary the next day and brings her into the world of the shadowhunters, who hunt demons. Clary becomes personally involved in the lives of the shadowhunters when her mother disappears after being attacked by demons. Clary has to find her mother, while also discovering the secrets of her past.

I had been holding off on reading this series, because I knew I would love it and would have to read it all immediately once I started. I was sucked into this world right away. I loved that there were so many different creatures all in one world, including vampires, werewolves, and warlocks. They had a wide range of powers, but they all fit into the world.

The twists and big reveals in the story were predictable. When secrets of a character’s past were revealed, I could predict how it would affect the lives of the main characters. Even though it was predictable, I loved the storyline. I’m excited to see where it goes next!

What to read next:

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare

Have you read City of Bones? What did you think of it?

Review: Ghosted in L.A., Vol. 1

Title: Ghosted in L.A., Vol. 1
Author: Sina Grace, Siobhan Keenan, Cathy Le
Genre: Graphic Novel, Contemporary, LGBT, Paranormal
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 14, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Daphne Walters moves to Los Angeles and finds that the only ones who can help her find love and live life to the fullest are the ghosts of her new home!

In Los Angeles, finding an apartment is killer—unless you live with the dead. Daphne Walters moves to Los Angeles for her boyfriend Ronnie, ready to live her happily ever after. But when happily ever after turns into happily for a month, she’s stuck in a strange city with no friends, family, or prospects for fun. Desperate to escape the lingering ghost of Ronnie’s presence everywhere, Daphne sets out to explore the city—and ends up encountering ghosts of a more literal kind! Rycroft Manor is abandoned, beautiful, and haunted. Will the dead be able to help Daphne find the life she’s been missing in the big city? From GLAAD Award-nominated Sina Grace (Iceman) and illustrator Siobhan Keenan (Jem and the Holograms) comes a story about learning how to make friends, find love, and live life to the fullest with a little help from some friends whose lives didn’t end at death. Collects Ghosted In L.A #1-4.

Review:

Daphne chooses to go to the same university as her boyfriend, but when she arrives on campus, he tells her he wants to break up. She leaves her dorm and discovers a beautiful mansion that appears to be empty. She quickly learns that it is filled with ghosts from a variety of backgrounds. Daphne spends time with the ghosts while also learning more about her ex-boyfriend.

I loved the format of this graphic novel. The chapters had small scenes from the ghosts’s previous lives. The ghosts come from different decades, like the 40s and 80s. These scenes explained a bit about what happened to them and how their lives were affected by the time periods. This was a great way to give some background on the ghost characters.

There were some huge reveals and cliffhangers in the final pages. I’m really excited to see where this story goes next.

Thank you BOOM! Box for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Avant-Guards, Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin, Noah Hayes

Eat, and Love Yourself by Sweeney Boo, Lylian Klepakowsky

Have you read Ghosted in L.A., Vol. 1? What did you think of it?

Review: Lola: A Ghost Story

Title: Lola: A Ghost Story
Author: J. Torres, Elbert Or (illustrator)
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Paranormal
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 24, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Jesse sees dead people, monsters, demons, and lots of other things that go bump in the night that no one else can see. No one except his ailing grandmother—a woman who used her visions to help those living in her small town… the same rural community in all the scary stories Jesse’s heard as a child. Man-eating ogres in trees. Farmhouses haunted by wraiths. Even pigs possessed by the devil. Upon his grandmother’s passing, Jesse has no choice but to face his demons and whatever else might be awaiting him at grandma’s house. 

Review:

Jesse has inherited his grandmother’s ability to see ghosts. When his grandmother dies, his family travels back to their home country of the Philippines. He revisits some of his memories of his grandmother and his cousin, who died when he was a kid.

I didn’t know about this Filipino folklore before reading the book. There were some creatures in the graphic novel that were so creepy. There were some that were used as explanations for birth complications, and those “creatures” targeted pregnant women. All of the different kinds of creatures were listed in a glossary of these creatures at the end of the book.

This book was also dark at times. I found the ending really creepy.

This was a great, ghostly graphic novel!

Thank you Oni Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Sheets by Brenna Thummler

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Have you read Lola: A Ghost Story? What did you think of it?

Review: Echoes Between Us

Title: Echoes Between Us
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 14, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Echoes Between Us is bestselling author Katie McGarry’s breakout teen contemporary novel about a girl with everything to lose and the boy who will do anything to save her.

Veronica sees ghosts. More specifically, her mother’s ghost. The afterimages of blinding migraines caused by the brain tumor that keeps her on the fringes and consumes her whole life haunt her, even as she wonders if it’s something more…

Golden boy Sawyer is handsome and popular, a state champion swimmer, but his adrenaline addiction draws him to Veronica.

A girl with nothing to live for and a boy with everything to lose–can they conquer their demons together?

Review:

This is a great paranormal story.

Veronica has a brain tumor. Her mother died of brain cancer, and Veronica’s tumor is getting worse, but she wants to keep it a secret. This is more complicated because she also sees her mother’s ghost in her house. That makes her want to research ghosts for a paper at school. When Sawyer, the popular boy at school, moves into the apartment in her house, she has her suspicions of her haunted house confirmed because his sister also sees the “monsters” downstairs.

I loved the paranormal, ghost hunting aspects of the story. They were creepy. I found myself holding my breath in many parts. Those parts were very descriptive and realistic.

The paranormal parts were slightly fantasy, but there were also serious issues addressed in this book. Veronica has a brain tumor, which she is in denial of. There are also some characters with addictions. These health problems were also scary because they were very realistic.

I really enjoyed this story!

Thank you Tor Teen for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin

Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

Have you read Echoes Between Us? What did you think of it?

Review: The Reckoning of Noah Shaw

Title: The Reckoning of Noah Shaw
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: November 13, 2018
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Noah Shaw confesses all in this second novel of a chilling new companion series to Michelle Hodkin’s New York Timesbestselling Mara Dyer trilogy!

Noah Shaw doesn’t think he needs his father’s inheritance.
He does.

Noah believes there’s something off about the suicides in his visions.
There is.

Noah is convinced that he still knows the real Mara Dyer.
He does not. 

Everyone thought the nightmare had ended with Mara Dyer’s memoirs, but it was only the beginning. As old skeletons are laid bare, alliances will be tested, hearts will be broken, and no one will be left unscarred.

Review:

I was looking forward to this book after the cliffhanger of the previous one, but it was so disappointing.

The main problem with this story was that it didn’t progress the plot. There were some interesting flashbacks to what happened when Noah was in the hospital, which was in the Mara Dyer series. However, there were also flashbacks to Noah’s ancestors, which could have been explained in a couple of sentences, rather than multiple chapters.

I had a hard time keeping track of the characters by the end. There were some new people, but they all seemed the same. They had long drawn-out conversations about the same things over and over. There wasn’t much that actually happened in the story, other than many conversations.

Unfortunately, this book didn’t live up to my expectations. I expected a lot more from the book.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Shatter Me (Shatter
Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) Maggie Stiefvater

Other Books in the Series:

Have you read The Reckoning of Noah Shaw? What did you think of it?