Dead and Breakfast (Cayo Hueso Mystery #1) by Kimberly G. Giarratano is about a small hotel, the Dead and Breakfast, which is marketed to people who are interested in knowing about its haunted past. Autumn Abernathy and Liam Breyer both work there. Autumn is someone who has become accustomed to the ghosts. She can see and communicate with them. However, it’s Liam’s first day and, unfortunately for him, one of the ghosts has taken a dislike to him. Throughout the book, both teenagers try to uncover the mystery behind this unfriendly apparition. The excerpt on the Kindle Scout website is what first drew me to the book. I liked the introduction of the characters and the welcoming to the Dead and Breakfast. However, much like the events in the plot, things took a turn once I actually began reading past the excerpt after I received my copy. This review is kind of lengthy and opinionated, just to warn you.
Autumn and Liam are the two narrators of the plot and it switches back and forth between them.
Liam isn’t the most interesting person on the planet, but he has some good thoughts here and there. The relationship between Liam and Autumn is pretty bad and somewhat cringe worthy. There are a lot of tacky areas where others keep on telling them not to be together; Autumn’s mother and Victoria both have problems with it. Though neither have particular reason to be upset with the relationship. For Autumn’s mother, it’s pretty much just meant to seem like she doesn’t want Liam turning out like her own ex-husband, though she’s no reason to think it. With Victoria, the only real reason we’re given is jealousy; which doesn’t make much sense either. It’s a fairly typical “love” story and it kind of feels like they’re just together because the author has deemed it so. I don’t sense much real relationship, or get the feeling that they even like being in each other’s company. The most cringe worthy moment is late in the book where, for no reason, there’s one of those scenes where the antagonist kisses Liam and then Autumn walks in. I hate those moments in media; it’s just a bit where one character is meant to be making another one jealous. However, Autumn was already plenty jealous of her. It’s all really generic.
Autumn’s parents have recently divorced. Autumn was brought to the Dead and Breakfast by her mother, from where they had lived in New Jersey. Autumn is desperate to return there. She longs for the memories she had there whilst growing up and would love to return to that happy point in life. She’s miserable here at the hotel. It definitely shows in the entirety of the story. She’s a somewhat hateful person. In the beginning, I understood it as a general dislike for her position. However, later on, I realise that she’s just a spiteful person in general. No matter what goes on, there’s just so much she dislikes, and she’s just so angry all the time. She goes about the place and deliberately antagonises people she dislikes.
There are a few antagonists, but Victoria is pretty much the primary one. She’s… Not very original. She’s your generic mean girl. Realistically there isn’t much reason to hate her, in my opinion, but the author keeps on trying to thrust this opinion on us. Characters keep on implying that Victoria is a terrible person because she’s rich and beautiful. Nothing wrong with either but, for some reason, that’s cause enough for people to look down on her. So, basically it’s just others being jealous of her. Just because she has money and her grandfather is an important person, doesn’t mean that we should hate her, despite what the author is trying to imply. Another reason given, in Autumn’s case, is that she doesn’t like her because she thinks Victoria is entitled. One example, soon after we meet her, is that Victoria asks for Autumn’s class notes because of a quiz and Autumn internally mocks her for not doing well in classes. Really, this just makes me look upon Autumn more negatively; she’s just bullying someone who’s looking for genuine help with school work. I’d like to point out that Victoria didn’t actually seem that entitled to me. She hosted a party for her friends. Though it had a cover charge, that money went to charity. She even offered Liam money to help him start a business. Sure, it had strings attached, but at least she was giving him an opportunity. Really, I can sort of see why we’re meant to dislike her. There is the basis for demanding and selfish behaviour. However, the majority of situations where she’s involved/ mentioned are scenes where Autumn and Liam are bullying her. They make fun of her behind her back, mocking her for not being smart or for her appearance. Things like that. I’d like to comment here that there was some negative behaviour on Victoria’s part, such as pushing Autumn in the pool. That’s obviously not acceptable, but nor is Autumn and Liam’s behaviour. Yes, she does make fun of the hotel for being haunted, but Autumn does it more than Victoria does. Autumn absolutely loathes the place, so why should she care about some random thinking it as haunted. To be honest, Victoria’s comments about the place being haunted come off as jokey to me. She comes up and tries talking to Autumn, making conversation. As much as we’re meant to see Victoria as a bad person, the behaviour of both Autumn and Liam are worse, in my opinion.
Going back to the “entitled” reason, I’d like to discuss Autumn’s character a bit here. It seems to me that that Autumn shows far more feelings of entitlement than Victoria does. That’s pretty much the basis for Autumn’s entire character. I’ll explain: Autumn desperately wants to go back to New Jersey because she misses it there. However, she has no money for college. Plus, she blames her mother for spending money on the Dead and Breakfast- her college fund, in particular- when she feels that she ought to go to college instead. Let me point out that, though it is her college fund, it isn’t really her money. It’s money that her parents have been putting aside and her mother just happens to feel that it’s more important being put towards a business. Autumn has all sorts of complaints about others with this whole New Jersey thing. She blames her father for not being able to accept her back- despite the fact that he has a child on the way, which is a good enough reason for me. She hates her friend for not being able to take her in- which, I’d like to point out, she oughtn’t have to; it’s not her friend’s fault that she’s in this position. She complains at her mother for taking them to Florida in the first place. She hates the Dead and Breakfast, and any of the ideas people have to better it. Sure, Victoria might be entitled in Autumn’s mind, but Autumn is pretty much the epitome of entitled. She blames everyone else and is pretty ungrateful in general. Autumn shows much more feeling of entitlement than Victoria does.
I’m mystified as to how much Liam and Autumn really hate Victoria. If either of them really hates Victoria so much, they wouldn’t have gone to the girl’s party. Autumn even comments that Liam probably only did it to annoy Victoria. They essentially both know that they’re just going to the girl’s party to bother her and try and make her jealous. Even when they get there, there are a lot of complaints from both of them. Autumn, for example, has problems with the house being so big and there being a cover charge (which goes to charity, I’ll point out). She’s making herself miserable, and trying to make others miserable as well. The party is a particular event. It’s pretty much the epitome of all teen movies. We’re meant to think that Victoria’s cool because she’s got a mansion and catering. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I don’t see why Autumn’s meant to be surprised by any of it. Plus, it doesn’t make sense that Victoria would just push Autumn in the pool. The author has very little reason for her to do it. None of the conversations with Victoria and her friends make much sense. It’s just generic mean girl stuff, but without any point. From what the author implies, Victoria doesn’t like Autumn. Well, later scenes make it obvious- where she tries and pays Liam to stay away from Autumn. However, a lot of her behaviour suggests otherwise. If I’m honest, it kind of seems like Victoria is actually trying to befriend Autumn. She often tries to come and talk to her, even asking her about her life. Why would she ask for Autumn’s class notes, rather than someone else’s? Why would someone who supposedly dislikes Autumn so much VOLUNTARILY come up and talk to them so often?
Autumn is a quite pretentious character. She’s desperate to go to college but, for some reason, she’s definitely against community college. It seemed odd to me; she was interested in taking a journalism course, but has no experience. Going to take courses at a community college would be great to help her along that path. Yet, for some silly reason, she was quite set against it. Jennifer is her father’s girlfriend. The back-story is that the father cheated with Jennifer, Autumn’s parents got divorced and now he lives with Jennifer. They’re expecting a kid. Apparently Jennifer and Autumn are about the same age. Okay, I get that everyone dislikes her because she’s “the other woman”, but Autumn has some pretty hateful things to say about her. Again, we’re led to hate someone, despite not having the full story. There’s probably a LOT more behind the relationship, but the author just has these inane reasons for why we should hate her. Yet, Autumn makes contact with her father several times, wanting to move back into their house, despite hating Jennifer so much. That just makes no sense; she’s desperate to move in with a woman that she hates? She just expects everyone else to accommodate her wishes, no matter how difficult or expensive it is for them. Just as long as she’s happy…
It’s pretty *beeping* obvious that, if you dislike someone, you should probably stay away from them.
The actual mystery and investigation aspect were somewhat generic. Many TV shows and other books I’ve read have similar plots at times. As for supernatural aspects, I could have probably done without them. I wasn’t particularly interested in the actual supernatural happenings; I felt that they could have been better dealt with. For example, the reasoning the author gives for Autumn being able to sense the ghosts isn’t very original. It was really reminiscent of things I’ve seen in some movies and TV, even in genres such as science fiction. I’m reminded, in particular, of an episode of Stargate SG:1 where it was the explanation for certain alien appearances. The primary reason she was looking into the ghost of the ring was for a potential college opportunity. However, after the initial mentions of it, that plotline was sort of dropped. We saw her researching the ghost, yes, but we never really saw her writing any notes or an indication that she was recording this for journalism purposes. If she was planning on using any of the information, she should have been at least making sure to get some evidence of it. The plot in general is alright. However, I think that there are people who don’t get a proper introduction and there are a lot of portions that feel missing. For example, the areas where we’re meant to hate Victoria and the father’s GF. Right now, they aren’t there. Some characters get kind of lost. Timothy, for example, is a character where I just seem to miss a lot of information about him and don’t really feel like he fits in. The same can be said of the primary mystery aspect. I think, had the author focused a lot less on Victoria, and actually worked to build a better plot, we would have a much more intriguing mystery.
I didn’t particularly enjoy any of the characters. To me, the majority are just ordinary people. However, others have behaviour and feelings that don’t make sense. For example, the hatred towards Victoria and Jennifer. Autumn is just such a spiteful person and she displays such a poor attitude. Yes, I get that she hated her situation. However, she could have made the best of it. College costs a LOT, so she could have been using community college as a way to build her knowledge, and a part time job to build her funds, before heading to a more expensive place. However, for some reason, she thought that she was above that. Other characters, such as Victoria, just show such weird behaviour. I know that she’s just meant to be an antagonist, but the least the author could do is have Victoria’s actions make some sense. To me, it just looks like she was just stuck into the book to have someone to hate. As much as I appreciate the free book, I feel like it just needed a lot more work in a variety of aspects. The character behaviour/ opinions are unbelievable and the plot/ mystery aspects are generic. I first nominated it because I thought it was an interesting premise and I liked the author’s writing style in the excerpt. The thing I’m primarily disappointed at is that the rest of the novel doesn’t follow through with my expectations of an original plot and characters.
Overall, I wish I could rate it higher, but sadly I was very disappointed with it.
I obtained a free copy for nominating the book on Kindle Scout and this is an honest review.