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Review: Swallowed by a secret

Title: Swallowed by a secret

Author: Risa Nyman

Genres: Middle grade/Mystery/Family/Grief

Pages: 198

Goodreads rating: 4.63/5

My rating: 5/5

Synopsys:

One dead father. One lying mother. One giant secret.

12-year-old Rocky’s father dies suddenly, and he learns the “his heart stopped” story he has been told is bogus. Immediately after the funeral, his mother sticks the For-Sale sign in the lawn and whisks them out of town as if living there has become too dangerous. As his trust in his one remaining parent unravels, Rocky is determined to crack the secret about how his father really died.

The road to the truth involves eavesdropping, snooping, and listening to advice from his dead father which sends Rocky on a risky journey to find the truth.

But sometimes it might be better for a secret to stay secret. Will Rocky have to rethink the father he thought he knew?

Review:

First of all, I want to thank Risa, she’s the first author who contacted me on IG after reading my bio, and gently asked me if I want to read her book. I’m grateful for this, it means that my work on bookstagram is seen by someone.

At first, I admit I wasn’t fond of the main character, Rocky, since he was so rude and ungrateful to his mother, but it was also somewhat justified but the tragedy that took away his father.

This book shows perfectly the “famous” stages of grief, and also includes one of the best character development of the MC I have ever seen in a book, even in an “adult” book.

My fave character is Olive, a great side character who easily became best friend with Rocky and helps him in more than a way.

The relationship between the characters is so heartwarming, thanks also to the development and personal growth of Rocky.

Prepare the tissues, because you’ll need them right before the ending. It was so emotional I had to pause my reading and calm myself. But don’t worry, there’s a happy ending.

Read it, you’ll not regret it.

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Wrap up: March 2022

Hello readers and welcome to another wrap up!

In March I’ve read a total of 12 books, with a DNF, as usual.

5 stars:

Jeremy Ray as quickly became one of my fave authors. Petrified women is a piece of art, I can’t recommend it enough.

E a mio nipote Albert lascio l’isola che ho vinto a Fatty Hagan in una partita a poker has the longest title I know. Super funny and entertaining.

4,5 stars to The golden key simply because is really strange and incredibly sad. But there’s a happy ending, perfect to shed a tear or two.

4 stars:

I’m participating in an Agatha Christie challenge on Instagram, and Giorno dei morti (sparkling cyanide) was my read for March.

Another great short story by Jeremy Ray, My mother’s eyes. I’ll also add that all his stories began with a page dedicated to the trigger warnings you’ll find in that story. Very thoughtful.

I love reading non-fiction books about weird/macabre topics, and Tomb raiders was funny and interesting.

Look how colorful the cover of The sapphire library is!! Love it! This is definitely my cozy series, love the characters, so happy to have discovered it!

3 stars:

Can we all agree that the cover of The time of green magic is special and wonderful? It reminds me of the works of Miyazaki, unfortunately, the plot isn’t really engaging.

One for sorrow is a middle grade set in 1918 with the outbreak of Spanish Influenza. A lot of things are happening even now with the Covid epidemic, it’s sad and hurtful.

2 stars/DNF:

Il castello di Otranto (The castle of Otranto) is weird and sometimes just absurd.

Death and the harlot had the possibility to be a great historical mystery, but it’s really fatphobic.

I DNF The route of ice and salt on page 20. Nothing more to say.

And that was my reading month, how was yours?

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Wrap up: February 2022

Hello readers and welcome to another wrap up!

My birthday was on 27th, I received a lovely steampunk rabbit music box!

Anyway, in February I’ve read 12 books with 1 DNF.

5 stars:

I’ve discovered A is for Arson through Instagram, and itìs fantastic, an historical fiction with an intelligent young woman and a super cute man and a mystery. And look at the cover! ❤

How a short story about a house plant can make you laugh, cry and change forever your idea of house plants? If it’s written by Jeremy Ray, apparently, my new favorite author.

4 stars:

How lovely is the cover of Assassinio sull’Orient Express?(Murder on the Orient Express) A great classic.

React is a short story with a great plot twist. The winter freak show is a great historical mystery/fantasy, really adventurous.

3 stars:

It was a dark and creepy night space up to really nightmares materials stories to WTF? are you kidding me? Stories. There’s no middle ground.

By the same author as React comes Driving in the dark, great cover but predictable.

2 stars:

Interviewing the dead was predictable and a little boring, but I’ve loved Carlyle’s daughter and her obvious crush.

My respect to The Queen, it was lovely to read about her, but the investigation and the mystery in The Windsor’s knot were terrible.

1 star/DNF:

I had to DNF The binding because the motivations of the characters to erase the memory were horrible.

This dark endeavor is a prequel of Frankenstein following the Frankenstein brothers, but Victor is a terrible character, it’s ableist and there’s violence against animals.

Look at me, giving Hamnet only 1 star, because if it’s about Hamnet, the son of William Shakespeare, I want to read about him, not his mother or his grandma. Very disappointing.

How was your reading month?

What do you plan on reading next month? Tell me in the comments!

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Wrap Up: January 2022

Hello readers, sorry if I’m late for this wrap up, I totally forgot to post it!

In January I’ve read 11 books and 1 DNF, a super hyped book.

5 stars:

Did you know that there’s a book with some of the letters from Theo to Vincent, alongside letters from Jo (Theo’s wife) and Gauguin? In Italian is Verranno Giorni migliori, from a phrase in a Theo’s letter. An unmissable read if you love the Van Gogh brothers.

Once upon a haunted moor is a supernatural/crime/m/m book, lovely and creepy, and with remarkable characters.

My first read of 2022 was The Last photograph of John Buckley, a short story about a ghost in a photo, some secrets, and justice.

4 stars:

Devil may care is a spin-off/ sequel of Dracula, where the Harker, both Mina and Jonathan, need to investigate some dark supernatural circumstances. Very entertaining.

Il segreto di Greenshore (Poirot and the Greenshore folly) is a short story involving Poirot, very well crafted and planned, like you can expect from Agatha Christie. I’m participating in a Christie challenge this year on Instagram, if you are interested you can find the post here.

3 and 2 stars:

3 stars to Happily Ever awkward, that from the cover alone seems a sci-fi book, in reality, is a funny twist of the traditional fairytales, with the princess who wants to be kidnapped so she places an AD on a journal, to the prince who isn’t charming, or brave…

A historical fiction that is set during the great blizzard of 1888 of New York, rapidly became boring and predictable, I had great expectations from What the dead leave behind.

Another disappointment was Paola Santiago and the river of tears: I wasn’t a fun of Paola, and La Llorona appears at the end of the book, too late to save the plot.

1 star/DNF:

Three hyped books are fallen under my severe judgment: I’ve understood that I didn’t like the writing style of Schwab, so I had to DNF This savage song; The silence of the girls was a constant eye-rolling to Briseid; in Come una lady sfugge ai cannibali there’s a scene of a se*ual assault to a man, gratuitous and unnecessary; and I don’t want to talk about The devil and the dark water, is simply disgusting.

Remember that these are my opinions, if you liked the books above I’m happy for you!

And that’s all, have you had a good reading month? Tell me in the comments!

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Best books of 2021

Hello readers! Here’s the first post recap of all the books I’ve read in 2021.

This post will focus on the best of the best!

If someone is interested, here you can find my year in books on Goodreads. Feel free to add me as a friend or send me a request if you like my profile!

It’s quite a selection, some middle grade, a lot of historical fiction, both crime and a little romance, I’m satisfied with those 5 stars books.

In the next few days you will find the post with the worst books of 2021.

Happy reading!

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Movie review: Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise

Available now on Disney +

Release date: July 24th, 2021

Genre: adventure, fantasy, romance, historical

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Jack Whitehall, Paul Giamatti, etc…

Rating: 4/5

Review:

I’ll not post a summary of the plot, to avoid spoilers, but you will find the trailer and the end of the post.

First of all, you need to know that I have a little crush on Dwayne Johson, and Emily Blunt too.

Jungle Cruise is based on Disney’s eponymous theme park attraction, one of the first to open in 1955 in the Adventureland part of Disneyland.

It’s not a perfect movie, I admit it, but it’s really enjoyable and pays tribute to other more famous and successful adventure movies, from Indiana Jones to The Mummy (A wise and adventurous sister with a more pacific brother… Hello Eve and Jonathan!)

I’ve loved the setting of this movie, first London than Brazil and The amazon forest, and all the historical details, like the old camera and the cars.

The plot and the characters aren’t well developed, and we don’t know a lot of their past, but the strength of the movie is the great connection and feeling between the two main characters, Frank and Lily. You immediately saw that they are great friends even in the real life, and the chemistry (in friendship terms) is really strong.

Plus, I have to say, Emily Blunt with that green shirt and brown pants is stunning. That color is perfect for her.

Her brother is the comic one of the duo, and a really good one. Maybe not as good as Jonathan from The Mummy, but that’s ok. Disney tried to include a diverse cast, it’s an attempt, but it’s not elaborated on.

A good movie to relax, funny and enjoyable.

Have you watched it?

Tell me in the comments!

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Netflix review: The Casketeers

Hello readers! Only 4 days left to Halloween!

If you are still searching for a good series to watch this October, I’m here today to recommend The Casketeers, or Pompe Funebri (Funeral Home) as it’s called in Italian.

The Casketeers (I love this title) is a New Zealand reality tv shows that follow the Tipene family who runs the Tipene funerals in Oakland.

Maybe you think it’s a morbid show, but in fact, it’s really heartwarming and funny too.

Francis Tipene, the boss of the funeral home, is a super funny person, obviously still respectful of his job and his clients.

There are a lot of comedic scenes between him and his wife, or between him and one of his staff members, Fiona. I love Fiona, she’s my favorite because we have a similar character. But it’s a reality show that talks about death, funerals and grief, so please be aware of that. Nothing is shown too explicitly, we only catch glimpses of the deceased, but it will not be suitable for a sensible viewer. It deals a lot with human emotions, and that’s the heart of this show: the love of the Tipene family, the respect for their job, the sadness, the despair caused by a death, the joy of seeing the community embrace and celebrate a life on this planet. I confess I’ve cried nearly for every single episode.

The episodes are in English (with Italian subtitles for us) but they talk a lot in Maori, so it’s really interesting and useful to learn words in Maori, at least for me. Don’t worry, all the Maori words are translated on screen.

On Netflix Italy there are only 2 seasons of this show that has begun in January 2018, but I read online that are currently 4 seasons, the last one deals with the pandemic and the victims of Covid-19.

Have you watched it?

Can’t wait to hear your opinions!

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ARC Review: The women of Blackmouth Street

Title: The women of Blackmouth Street

Author: Thea Sutton

Pages: 244

Publication date: September 29th, 2021

Genre: historical fiction, crime, adult.

Goodreads rating: 4.06/5

My rating: 2/5

Trigger warning: graphic description of murders, corpses, blood, mental illness, asylum, torture, s*x.

Synopsis:

A gifted psychologist is forced to hunt a serial killer or risk having a dark chapter of her past exposed—but her mission may mark her as the next victim…
1890’s London. Strong-willed Georgia Buchanan, a mind doctor and heiress, spends her time with the mad, the bad, and devils incarnate, armed only with her expert understanding of the human psyche.
But when her young, high-profile patient unexpectedly commits suicide, Georgia leaves Boston under a cloud of guilt. Lured to London’s notorious Bedlam asylum, she’s trapped by a vengeful detective and a dangerous anarchist—who know too much about her—into tracking a serial killer of women in the city’s East End.
As Georgia struggles to prevent more women from meeting a violent end, her own secrets and closest ties are stripped bare… With her Harvard mentor, William James, and his sister. With her wealthy, scandalous father. With a troubled patient. All the while the city’s streets reel with carnage and social unrest. Alone and questioning her abilities as the killer closes in, Georgia has one last chance to save the innocent before she confronts the most devastating truth yet.

Review:

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Thanks to BookSirens and the author for an ARC of this book.


Was it a retelling of the murders of Jack The Ripper? Because the murders are very similar, and the victim’s name too, also the locations of the crime, so if you are interested in this particular episode of history, you will easily be deduced how the murders occurred and the wounds on the victims.
It’s also set in 1890, so just 2 years after the real murders, but Jack isn’t mentioned, so nothing happened in this alternative version of London.
I was confused also by the treatment received by the female main character: why most of the male characters are treating her so badly, so rude, and menacing?
We have two male characters who ask for the help of Georgia, but constantly judging and mistreating her, but when in trouble, one of them calls Georgia to help him and his family, deciding later to host her in his home with his wife and children. I was like, WTF?


It wasn’t pleasing to read, it made me sad and I didn’t understand it. Probably it was more historically accurate to a lot of historical fiction where women can do everything and go everywhere they want, but I don’t want to be sad when I read something, except if I know it’s a sad story on purpose.


I appreciated the writing style and the MC, but in conclusion, I think this was like a female retelling of Jack The Ripper that nobody needed.

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Review: The spirit engineer

Title: The spirit engineer

Author: A.J. West

Pages: 304

Published: October 7th, 2021 by Duckworth Books

Genre: Historical fiction, Mystery, Adult, Paranormal, Gothic

Goodreads rating: 4.17/5

My rating: 1/5

Add on: Goodreads / Amazon

Trigger warning: death, blood, beating, mental illness

Synopsis:

Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism in the form of seances that attempt to contact the spirits of loved ones lost at sea.

William is a man of science and a skeptic, but one night with everyone sat around the circle something happens that places doubt in his heart and a seed of obsession in his mind. Could the spirits truly be communicating with him or is this one of Kathleen’s parlour tricks gone too far?

This early 20th century gothic set in Northern Ireland contains all the mystery and intrigue one might expect from a Sarah Waters novel. Deftly plotted with echoes of The Woman in Black, readers will be thrilled to discover West’s chilling prose.

Based on the true story of William Jackson Crawford and famed medium Kathleen Goligher, and with a cast of characters that include Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, The Spirit Engineer conjures a haunting tale that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Review:

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
I had great expectations from The spirit Engineer, which combines a lot of my favorite genres/situations: ghosts, spiritism, historical fiction, seancè, the sinking of the Titanic, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a beautiful cover.

I ended up deeply regretting the time I spent reading it. The night I finished it, I had had problems to fell asleep, causing it by the terrible ending.
For the first 30% of the book nothing happens: is about boring arguments between the MC and his family, him talking bad about his colleagues, and no ghosts.

I want my books full of ghosts!! Real and terrifying ghosts!!


My main issue with this book is William Crawford: he’s totally unlikeable. He’s mean with his family, sarcastic and annoyed by his children, whiny and invidious, and most of the time just stupid. There’s nothing about him that I liked, even worse when he became involved in the seances.

A lot of the great revelations or plot twists were easily guessed if someone is familiar with this kind of gothic story.
The tragedy of the Titanic and the lives of those who have lost someone is barely mentioned, same for Sir Conan Doyle and Houdini: they appear only in a chapter, but I really liked them, they are portrayed well in my opinion. Such a shame it doesn’t elaborate on the Titanic, a book set in Ireland some years after the sinking can talk for hours about this, and I will gladly read it.
And I don’t want to talk about the ending, but I hate this kind of revelation in horror/gothic books.

In conclusion: I save nothing about this book, except the cover.

5 star, meme, review

The time hunters saga: review

Hello readers! I’m finally back with a review!

This will be a general review of the first five installment in the series. There’s a sixth book that I didn’t read yet.

Title: The Time hunters

Author: Carl Ashmore

Genre: Sci -fi/Time Travel/Young Adult

General rating: 5/5

Add on: Goodreads

The time hunters is a great series, and even if GR says that’s young adult, an older middle-grade reader will find it really entreating.

I found it by chance on Amazon unlimited, and quickly became addicted, I easily gave all the first 4 books in the series 5 stars on GR, except for the fifth, with a solid 3 stars.

The plot is simple, at the beginning: Joe and Becky, brother and sister, are invited to spend the summer holidays with their Uncle Percy, an eccentric man who lives at Bowen Hall. They didn’t know that Uncle Percy is a time traveller!

Each book is set in a different era, a bunch of characters are a costant in every story, and it’s fascinating to read all their adventures. The reader will encounter a lot of famous character and creatures (yes, even dinosaurs!) during the time travels.

There are the villains, and they are really mean. There’s a great sense of family and friendship, to try to being kind and do the right things, but the books deal also with some darker pages of our history, like the Olocaust. Keep that in mind for younger readers.

I found myself crying and laughing and hold my breath during my reading sessions, and with the progress of the series, the plot became more violent, and darker and complicated, that’s why the fifth book hasn’t reached the 5 stars for me.

I still reccomend this underrated series, if you have read it or plan to, feel free to comment below! I would love to hear your opinion!