Sea of Secrets by Amanda DeWees

Sea of Secrets by Amanda DeWees


Book Description:  Can I save him from the darkness in his soul–or will it destroy us both?
My name is Oriel Pembroke–or was, until my father disowned me. Although he had always despised me, it was not until my beloved brother was killed in the Crimean War that Father cast me out. I had nowhere to turn until I met the former Duchess of Ellsworth, a relative whose existence I had never guessed, who recently scandalized society by remarrying soon after her first husband’s death. At her opulent seaside estate, Ellsmere, I think at first that I may have found a safe haven–but the handsome, fascinating young duke, Herron, believes otherwise. Haunted by the death of his father, he insists that Ellsmere is sheltering a murderer.

I cannot help but fall in love with the duke, but increasingly I fear that his grief and suspicion may be turning to madness. When dangerous accidents start to befall both of us, however, I realize that someone may be trying to stop us from discovering the truth about the past. And when someone from my past comes back into my life, I learn that he may hold the answer to the most horrifying secret of all…

My Review:  The book says it’s a retelling of Hamlet but I think this book is part Hamlet and part Jane Eyre.  Amanda DeWees mixes the two easily and the result is astounding.

This story is beautifully written.  It’s very atmospheric.  Most importantly there is an excellent cast of character. This book is less Hamlet when you take cast size into consideration. I don’t know about you but I have to refer to who is who when I read Hamlet because there are so many characters involved.  Like Hamlet, however, the relationships are complicated.  Also like Hamlet the crazy goes on for a beat too long which tells me this author knows her Hamlet inside and out if she was willing to stick to it.  What I mean by a beat to long is that we’re pretty sure that Hamlet is mad from the beginning.  In this book we know that Herron is mad because he exhibits Hamlet’s characteristics.  We also know he’s mad because Amanda DeWees, like the bard, wanted us to have that extra moment of is he really crazy?  Could he be sane or is Hamlet a genius and toying with everyone?

There are also parallels between Ophelia and Oriel.  There is a great scene towards the end of the book where Oriel is floating in the water.  It’s a great scene.

I have to say that I think there may be a smattering of Georgette Heyer or Jane Austen in there also.   I wasn’t sure about Charles. There were points where I thought he held some responsibility in the mystery and then there were times I didn’t.  You’ll see who Charles is when you read the book. And you will want to read this book. This one is going into the pile of books that stay with me forever. I loved it that much. What it comes down to is that this is a great gothic novel.  It even has a great ending.

Fun Fact:  Here is a bit of vampire book history for you. Oriel reads Varney the Vampire in this novel. Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood by James Malcolm Rymer is a real book. It was a penny dreadful serial in the mid 1840’s. It was packaged up and published as a book when the serial came to an end in 1847. Something like Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. And just like A Tale of Two Cities Varney is very long (232 chapters not including the preface and notes at the end) so be prepared if you pick it up in the Kindle store because the serial ran for a couple of years.

See Jessica.  I don’t hate romance.  I just like mine with crashing waves and a bit of murder.

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PG-  Did I mention there was murder and madness.


Background Image: Scotland by FrankWinkler

The Hollow by Jessica Verday

The Hollow by Jessica Verday

*We originally posted this a very long time ago. We mentioned it recently so we thought we would post it again.*

The Hollow

Book Description:  Abby’s best friend Kristen vanishes sending Abby into a tailspin.  Everyone thinks she fell into the river but without a body Abby refuses to believe it’s true.  When Kristen’s body washes up down river Abby decides to look for answers.  She’s urged on by a mysterious boy that she meets in the cemetery.  A mysterious boy that turns out to be another mystery to solve.

My Review:  This book takes place in Sleepy Hollow, New York.  Home of Washington Irving‘s iconic and beloved tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  I’m a sucker for reimagined classics and this book doesn’t disappoint.  It isn’t the main attraction though.

Abby meets Caspian, the afore mentioned mysterious boy, in the cemetery that she and Kristen always hung out in.  It may appear creepy that the cemetery is where most of the story takes place but then again it’s a character in this book.  Abby spends time there even after Kristen’s death talking to Washington Irving’s grave.  Irving’s grave is where she meets the cemetery’s caretaker.  I won’t blow the surprise twist but finding out who the caretaker really is sends Abby off the deep end.

Caspian turns out to be more mysterious than she could ever have imagined.  His on and off behavior helps to unravel Abby’s mental stability.  The whole time I was reading this I knew something was up with him but I couldn’t decide what it was.

This book was fun to read and made me want to take another look at The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  The book went fast and I liked Abby.  She’s a well rounded character.  She makes perfume and wants to have her own business in Sleepy Hollow one day.  I liked that she had goals and wasn’t waiting with baited breath for Caspian to do something.  That’s what drove me crazy about Twilight.  Bella’s only real interest was Edward.  That isn’t true with Abby.  Abby tries to focus on her perfume and business plan in addition to her homework with her science partner.

I liked this book and you will too especially if you’ve jumped on the Sleepy Hollow TV show band wagon.

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Abby deals with her best friends death and the secrets that she left behind.





Background Image: Moonlight by cocoparisienne

Cursed Once More by Amanda DeWees

Cursed Once More

by Amanda DeWees

Book Summary:

She went in search of her past… and found danger in the present.

Former seamstress Clara Blackwood seems to have found happiness at last. Having defied the Gravesend Curse, she is a blissfully married baroness and mistress of a grand estate. But now a mysterious summons shatters her contented life.

Clara grew up believing that her mother’s family had disowned them. But the grandmother Clara never knew is now entreating her to visit Thurnley Hall, the family seat in Yorkshire. The old lady is on her deathbed and anxious to disclose vital family secrets before it’s too late–for Clara’s unborn child may be cursed with a horrible fate.

Accompanied by her devoted husband, Atticus, Clara arrives at Thurnley to find intrigue brewing. Her boorish uncle, Horace Burleigh, is greedy for her wealth and desperate to protect the family’s mysteries. Superstitious fear of Atticus torments the hulking Romanian servant, Grigore, and even the soft-spoken young ward, Victor Lynch, may have secret motives for getting close to Clara and her husband.

When her grandmother dies under suspicious circumstances, Clara feels compelled to investigate. And when Atticus vanishes mysteriously, she must draw on all her strength and determination to find him before his time runs out… before her life can be cursed once more.

My Review:

Wow! Talk about a follow up.  Cursed Once More picks up where With This Curse left off and goes so much further. You have a bigger curse, a spookier setting and more danger.

Let’s start with Atticus.  He is a wonderful husband and thinks about Clara is everything he does.  He treats her as his equal and would fight to the death for her.  When he goes missing you can’t help but feel his loss. He is a force to be reckoned with.

Clara has her worries about meeting her Mother’s family. Who wouldn’t. And to add to the pressure surrounding her is the pregnancy, of which she hasn’t told Atticus.  Clara knows her Uncle is hiding much more then the loss of money in there home and when Atticus goes missing her world gets turned upside down.

This book adds a new curse.  One that not only affects Clara and Atticus, but their unborn child.  As always with Amanda’s book you are drawn into her world.  She tells the story like no other.  Victorian Gothic has a new Queen. temp-4










Be sure to check out these other stories by Amanda DeWees





Bad Girls by Jan Stradling

Bad Girls: The Most Powerful, Shocking, Amazing, Thrilling, and Dangerous Women of all Time by Jan Stradling


Book Description:

BGCSassy, brilliant, vicious, cunning, unstable, tough-as-nails—readers will relish these stories of 22 women in history who defied the mainstream boundaries and social mores of their times.

Each gripping story speaks for itself: from Queen Mary I who did ‘what it took’ to protect Catholicism in England, to Madame Mao who became one of communist China’s most powerful and feared leaders, to Georgia Tann who, as a director of the Tennessee Children’s Home, made millions selling babies on the black market.

Some of these women were cruel, others visionary, yet others blinded by ambition or love. All were driven by a powerful combination of primal forces.

The most powerful, shocking, amazing, thrilling & dangerous women of all time. Breathtaking, at times inspiring and always riveting, this book takes the reader into the lives and times of 32 of history’s most ruthless and ambitious women.


My Review: We generally don’t review nonfiction but on occasion we do make the odd exception. I enjoyed this book so much. It would have been cruel not to share this book.

I’ve heard of several of these women before but have never read anything so detailed. The book starts out with Cleopatra. Everyone knows the story of Cleopatra and she is often portrayed as Caesar and Mark Antony’s whore but after reading her story you’ll see that she was protecting her rule and her people.  Both of which she cared deeply about.

Cleopatra only aliened with Caesar because her brother/husband Ptolemy XIII wanted her dead. With family like that who needs enemies?  This book made me consider aspects of Cleopatra’s story that I hadn’t really thought about before. Cleopatra was the first Ptolemy to speak the native language of her people. FYI the Ptolemy’s were Greek and they spoke Greek. Official documents were in Greek. They married their siblings, I’m assuming, so that the Greek bloodline wasn’t diluted and not because of any kind of native traditions. In short, the Ptolemy’s liked being Greek and they flaunted it every chance they got. That’s why I think Cleopatra actually cared about her people. Don’t get me wrong; she spoke many languages but if it was just an issue of enjoying learning other languages there were many, many others that would have been just as beneficial.

Consider this history lesson over. This is a great book about well known and not so well known women of history. It makes them human. Some of them were not so nice and some of them were not so nice for very human reasons. Whether you love them or hate them you’ll learn new things about these infamous women of history.

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These ladies of history lived real lives and most of the time it wasn’t pretty.




Background Image: Coast, Elgol by FrankWinkler


Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865. The story goes that Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed the Liddell girls from Folly Bridge to Godstow.  It was a rainy, gloomy day so Lewis Carroll entertained them all with the story of a bored girl named Alice who finds herself falling into an adventure. Alice Liddell loved the story so much that she asked Carroll to write it down for her. A month later he took the girls on another boat ride and expanded the story for them. He set to work, not long after, on the version we all know and love.

Alice in Wonderland


Original Background Image: Mushroom by knipsenix