The Visitant by Megan Chance

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Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 339 pgs.
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The Visitant by Megan Chance is a ghost story with Gothic romance elements, reminiscent of the Brontes but not as dark.  Elena Spira arrives in Venice in the late 1900s (given the use of Bromide as a cure) with high expectations of caring for Samuel Farber in a plush palazzo, but Ca’ Basilio is rundown and falling apart, with few rooms furnished, a staff that’s very abrasive, and a family with dark secrets.   Samuel’s ailments are a secret as well, as the Basilio family believes him to be merely the victim of a robbery and beating, but there are those in the house who are aware of his true sickness.  Nero Basilio is Samuel’s best friend and when he returns from his trip to Rome, Elena captures his attention.  As he fervently pursues her, Samuel warns her against his darker nature given her virginal innocence, but it’s clear he has designs on her as well.

“When I was finished, the trunk was still half-empty.  So sad, really, that a life could be compressed to so few things.  Three or four books, a photographic portrait of my parents and me.   Should someone wish to write my biography, a paragraph would be enough.” (pg. 88 ARC)

Elena wants more from her life that the future that awaits her if she fails in her mission to return Samuel to health.  Her one mistake led her to this place of desolation, and her success can not only affect her own life, but that of her parents.  Her failure would be devastating for them all.  But even as she finds the palazzo in disrepair and the family without a fortune to repair it, she’s less curious about the house than one would expect in a ghost story, particularly one with Gothic elements.  However, given her heavy guilt, her focus remains where it should be for the most part, though she is not unaware of the oppressive spirit of the house and its former inhabitant.

Chance weaves a captivating story from beginning to end, though Elena could have been a little more perceptive about Nero than she was given her past mistakes, which are referenced a few times.  In the fall season and Halloween around the corner, The Visitant by Megan Chance is a good fit.  It provides enough ghostly elements and enough mystery to keep readers going, and the romantic elements are not over the top.  Another solid novel from this author.

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About the Author:

Megan Chance is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of historical fiction, including Inamorata, Bone River, and City of Ash. Her novels have been chosen for the Borders Original Voices and Book Sense programs. A former television news photographer and graduate of Western Washington University, Chance lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two daughters.  Visit her Website, Facebook, and Twitter pages.










Dining With … Monsters: A Disgusting Way to Count to 10! by Agnese Baruzzi

Source: Sterling Children’s Books
Hardcover, 34 pgs.
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Dining With … Monsters A Disgusting Way to Count to 10! by Agnese Baruzzi is a cute children’s book in which young readers can dine with monsters on some of their favorite foods.  From The Beast with Giant Claws and Scales to Mr. One-Eye Not-So-Nice, these beasts eat spiders, frogs, and more.  My daughter has read and re-read this book several times with me and she enjoys flipping open the flaps to count the disgusting creatures being swallowed whole.  Even when we are not reading together, she often opens the book and creates her own stories about these monsters.

The bright, bold colors in these drawings and the short little rhymes are engaging and entertaining, and these characters are scary and funny at the same time. It’s a fun way to count to 10.  At the end, there is even a recap of all the items eaten, so that young readers can recount these items.  Dining With … Monsters A Disgusting Way to Count to 10! by Agnese Baruzzi was a big hit.  Perfect for Halloween and for R.I.P. X.

About the Author:

Qualified from the ISIA in Urbino in 2004, Agnese Baruzzi currently lives in Bologna, Italy. She has been working as an illustrator and has been publishing children’s books since 2001 in several countries. She collaborates with advertising agencies and leads workshops for kids in schools and libraries.