A CURIOUS BEGINNING by Deanna Raybourn

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1)
A CURIOUS BEGINNING by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes, it was a curious beginning. :-) This is the first book I’ve picked up by Deanna Raybourn, and it was an enjoyable read. It’s an intriguing Victorian mystery with an oh-so-unconventional Victorian heroine. Veronica Speedwell is worldly, independent, and free-thinking. She has a scientific mind and would rather travel to exotic locales in search of rare butterflies than settle down with a hubby and kids. Unfortunately, her life is in danger, and she has no idea why.

After an abduction attempt, Veronica flees to London with the help of a mysterious baron who claims to know her deceased mother. He hides her at a friend’s house – a man named Stoker, who I can only describe as a sexy curmudgeon taxidermist, lol. Before the baron can return to spill his secrets to Veronica, he’s murdered. Now she and Stoker are on the run from unknown baddies, and together they have to figure out the who and why before it’s too late.

Overall, I really liked this book. I enjoyed the Gothic atmosphere mixed with plenty of humor from Veronica and Stoker. What a pair! Both were hard-headed know-it-alls, and their banter had me giggling. Good chemistry between them too. It took the mystery a while to get going, but the big reveal was worth it. Looking forward to the next book in the series!

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

THE VANISHING YEAR by Kate Moretti

The Vanishing Year
THE VANISHING YEAR by Kate Moretti
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Enthralling and emotional domestic suspense! THE VANISHING YEAR is the story of Zoe, a woman on the run from her dark past. Her new husband, Henry, has pulled her into his opulent world of wealth and power. Zoe will never want for anything again, as long as she can keep her secrets buried deep. Then one day, her seemingly perfect world begins to unravel.

I thought that this was a well-written psychological thriller. Gave me a feeling of unease from the beginning. I wasn’t sure which characters to trust, and what twist was waiting around the next corner. There were three *big* jaw-dropping moments, which I loved. I dislike spoilers, so I’m not going to say anymore about the plot. Enjoy the sweet (and disturbing!) surprises on your own. The epilogue was emotional and bittersweet, made me teary-eyed.

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

THE MADWOMAN UPSTAIRS by Catherine Lowell

The Madwoman Upstairs
THE MADWOMAN UPSTAIRS by Catherine Lowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jane Eyre ♥ and Wuthering Heights ♥ are two of my favorite novels, so I couldn’t pass this one up. THE MADWOMAN UPSTAIRS is about the last living Brontë descendant, and her quest to find the family’s missing literary estate – if it actually exists at all.

Samantha Whipple is a new student at Oxford. Soon after her arrival in England, she starts receiving obscure clues to finding the mysterious Brontë inheritance. Samantha was an okay character. She’s young and awkward, and tries to compensate with sarcasm and funny zingers. She had me giggling several times, though I was hoping that eventually she’d act more mature. Something that drove me nuts was the vast number of times the characters said “Pardon?” and “Sorry?” to each other. It’s like no one could understand what the other was talking about.

What I liked about this book was how the actual novels of the Brontë Sisters tied into the story. I loved hearing the characters talk about Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Lots of interesting theories about the books and where the sisters got their inspirations.

Overall, this was a fun read, geared toward Brontë fans. {Borrowed from the library.}

LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE by Jessica Knoll

Luckiest Girl Alive
LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE by Jessica Knoll
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE isn’t the easiest book to read, though I can understand why it’s gotten so much buzz. None of the characters are particularly likable (except maybe Mr. Larson), but I would caution not to judge the main character Ani too harshly in the beginning. She comes off as shallow and self-centered, but after learning all the terrible things she went through as a young teen, I can only assume her harsh persona is a coping mechanism. I almost felt like there was too much tragedy in this book, as the first ordeal she went through was horrible enough.

It’s not exactly the twisty thriller I was expecting, but Ani’s story definitely held my attention. I kept thinking, “Where are these children’s parents?!?” Ugh, Ani’s mother and father were awful. This is a dark read that tackles some very difficult and important issues. I was pleased with the ending, when some emotion finally came out. 3.75 stars!

P.S. I borrowed the audiobook from the library. Narrator Madeleine Maby was wonderful.