Book Review

Book Review: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Historical fiction + mystery
Length: 435 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Release Date: September 19th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this New York Times bestselling sequel to Kerri Maniscalco’s haunting #1 debut Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

STILL ONLY HERE FOR THOMAS CRESSWELL.

This wasn’t bad. I think it’ll probably be my favorite of the entire series.

I keep expecting these books to have a better plot line, because it keeps forcing whatever mystery is happening in my face rather than letting the romance really shine. And so far I’ve been disappointed twice. I think HPD would be better if everything was turned more towards the relationship between Thomas and Audrey Rose. BECAUSE THOMAS Y’ALL.

I fear every story will repeat the same saga. Murder, murder, run around, fight with Thomas, love Thomas, murder, solve it quickly. That’s what I see in my future, yet here I am already downloading book three. There’s something oddly catchy about these books and I think it all goes back to THOMAS Y’ALL.

Cleary, I have a new book boyfriend and he really holds all of the cards here. I love his banter, confessions of love and the general way he swaggers about. This paragraph may be small, but my love for Thomas is large. I understand why everyone reads these for him, I’m doing the same dang thing.

Audrey Rose is fine. She’s still one of those main characters that runs around scatter-brained and trying to accomplish everything while accomplishing nothing.

I liked the change in setting and though the mystery around Dracula was cool. We got to meet a lot of interesting characters and I didn’t pick the bad guy out super early so that’s a plus. I’m captivating by listening to these audio books.

Really though, THOMAS Y’ALL.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery + historical fiction + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: murder, baths of blood, bodies being drained of blood, autopsies, near drownings

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary fiction + romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Abbi Waxman
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

I CAN RELATE.

As an introvert extraordinaire, I could connect to quite a bit of what Nina was feeling throughout this book. That was probably my favorite part. The rest? Not as big of a fan.

I found it hard to read because I didn’t feel like there was an actual plot. Things were happening to Nina, but that was it. Nothing really moved forward. I did see a welcome change in Nina going from inflexible and unwilling to change to someone who was learning to adapt to the craziness of the universe and life in general. I did wholly appreciate this. I liked seeing this character arc.

The romance? Eh. I thought we were getting a cute story, but I felt it was allllll physical. They went on barely a date or two then sleeping together, to breaking up and I just shrugged my shoulders. I never felt an emotional connection to them and it made me not care either way what happened. It then got super cheesy at the end which only made it worse.

I also struggled with the third person point of view. I think I would have liked it more being only in Nina’s mind. The concept change to random characters was annoying and pointless. And there were so many random tangent paragraphs that I found myself often scanning.

This was a lackluster contemporary that I know I have an unpopular opinion about, but hey, can’t love them all.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction + romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses, a few fade to black scenes
  • Trigger warnings: anxiety, loss of a parent

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6, The Alloy Era #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 447 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: January 26th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metal minds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

ANOTHER GREAT READ.

These have been some of my favorite audio books. Since I would highly recommend reading the original Mistborn series before reading this one it makes it easy to follow on audio. You already have the base for the magic system and religious aspects. All that gets added are some amazing characters.

I’m all over the Western vibes from these books. It’s still present and it’s still awesome.

Oh my goodness, I was thoroughly convinced I would never like a character, Steris, and by the end of the book I was LOVING her. She’s only played a small role in the previous books (hardly in them for that matter) and this one gave her more ample opportunity to shine. I love the slow and steady romance that formed between her and Wax. It always played a side role, but those tender moments when they are talking or just being there for each other had my squealing with delight. AND THAT ENDING. Oh yes *claps enthusiastically*.

This book really amped up the diabolic-ness of the villains. After finding one of their main bases, a lot the history circulates back from the original trilogy. Isn’t that crazy?! Sanderson has the ability to expertly weave two series (set 300+ years apart) with such skill that I’m blown away by that fact alone. Every little tidbit and Easter egg from the original series that’s thrown in only makes me love these more.

Wayne, Marasi, and MeLaan are such great side characters y’all. I LOVE THEM. They all have unique personalities with their own quirks. I like that we got to have POVs from both Wayne and Marasi because it only helps me understand them more.

Basically, I’m just happy these books exist.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: guns, physical, magic; all a bit detailed but not unnecessarily gory

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2) by Deanna Raybourn

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Mystery + Historical Fiction + Romance
Length: 338 pages
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Berkley Books
Expected Release Date: January 10th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

London, 1887. At the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task–saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Ramsforth, accused of the brutal murder of his mistress, Artemisia, will face the hangman’s noose in a week’s time if the real killer is not found.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural-historian colleague, Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer. From a Bohemian artists’ colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed….

THE TENSION IS PALPABLE.

Seriously, Veronica and Stoker. GET WITH THE PROGRAM AND KISS FOR REAL ALREADY.

Oh y’all. I’m LOVING these books! I know I’m only saying that after two of them, but they’re so good and quick to read!

I love that the mystery keeps me on my toes. Its the forefront of each book and it’s in enough of the spotlight that you’re intrigued, but it doesn’t overshadow the main character development. I always have my guesses on who’s the culprit, and whenever the unveiling scene happens I’m surprised with more information to round out the whole book.

Veronica is still the same sassy, full of banter, does what she pleases kind of character. I love that she has continued to make decisions for herself and isn’t swayed by others perceptions of her. It’s nice to follow a confident heroine who can also understand when she needs help or encouragement. I am living for her partnership with Stoker. I sincerely hope they are endgame by the time I finish this series or I’ll RIOT. That kind of chemistry and interactions HAS TO LEAD TO SOMETHING. I’m going to sit here tapping my fingers anxiously until I find out more. I’m hoping it happens soon or the waiting will then become ridiculous.

There were a lot of great scenes throughout this novel. I found myself smiling and laughing at different conversations and wittiness of characters. Veronica and Stoker are easy to love and cheer for. The side characters are charming themselves and don’t take up so much page time that they overshadow the story. I’m curious how Veronica’s background will continue to change the narrative as these mysteries continue.

I like that we got more information about Stoker at last. I believe the third book really focuses on him so it will be nice to receive even more. Learning about him and Veronica has been in bits and pieces over both books. I am grateful there’s not any info dumping, but rather a gradual increase in further knowing these two as they get to know each other.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery + Historical Fiction + Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss, a lot of sexual innuendo and conversations (the mystery revolves around a sex club)
  • Violence: murder, guns, physical

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 304 pages
Author: Erin Hahn
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

WOULD WORK WELL AS A MOVIE.

This was more unique to any YA contemporary I’ve read in recent past in regards to the setting. It’s set on a country music tour and that provided a whole array of situations including tour buses, hotels and concerts. There were some great scenes from those options alone.

My biggest gripe was that I felt it would work SUPER great as a movie. There were a lot of concert scenes and lyrics throughout the novel and I wanted to see those brought to life. Hearing the voices, seeing the emotions and body language of Annie and Clay on stage would really create an awesome movie. As a book, it was hard to truly convey everything.

The love story wasn’t bad, everything just happened SO FAST. It’s a very short book (under 300 pages) and things are thrown out in rapid fire. The relationship came off a bit insta-love, yet it was full of artist passion so in some odd way it kind of worked? Jury is still out for me. I will say, I loved how it came together at the end. That was a solid happily ever after that made sense and made me smile.

This was somehow naive and adult all in the same breath. The writing felt more on the younger side of YA, but the situations were DARK. I mention this in my trigger warnings, the descriptions of a child finding two who had committed suicide was probably one of the darker things I have read recently. Then having to watch a teen go through an addiction to alcohol and coping with grief was a lot to handle.

I enjoyed seeing the evolution of Clay and how he learned to cope with his choices and grief from situations out of his control. He and Annie were able to feed off of each other to help get to higher ground. I liked their connection and hope that they were finally able to find.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: some kisses, and mentions of spending the night together but no big details
  • Violence: physical
  • Trigger warnings: drug use, underage drinking, alcoholism, loss of loved ones, double suicide (discussed throughout book, detailed in chapter 23), overdose, depression

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Thriller + Mystery
Length: 342 pages
Author: Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: July 11th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
 
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
 
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

IT WAS ALRIGHT.

This is the second book by Sager I’ve picked up, and y’all. I’m still not a FAN. The books are fine, and some of the twists at the end get me, but it takes so long to get there I question my choices in taking the time to read that long.

The beginning really brought me into the story. I was curious with what was happening (didn’t trust it of course) and wanted to know more. During the middle section though, I still don’t fully understand the point of it. It was 100 pages of filler scenes in getting more of Quincy’s personality and getting to know Samantha, but it felt stilted. I was expecting more involving the murder and instead was left hanging.

I found at least a little of it creepy. The flashbacks to the Pine Cottage, CREEPY. It’s convinced me I never want a cabin in the woods, everrrrrrr. Which is fine with me. Everything else didn’t spook me out. I’m reading a thriller, I want to feel at least a little panicked at times.

The twists at the end did TOTALLY surprise me. I didn’t see them coming and want to be completely vague because I think it’s more enjoyable that way. There was some information I didn’t love or appreciate happening, which rubbed me the wrong way and brought the book down all together for me.

Overall audience notes:

  • Thriller + Mystery book
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: some detailed love scenes, a lot of casual sex, kissing, etc.
  • Violence: murder, physical, guns, very descriptive and bloody/gory
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault, murder, a murder thought to be a suicide, suicide ideation, cheating

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 426 pages
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Expected Release Date: April 16th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

MOSTLY CHARMING.

Unfortunately I read this one after finishing a five star YA contemporary that I adore now so this had a lot to live up to. And while I did find it cute, it fell flat in some spots.

Namely, was I reading a mystery novel or a romance? The plot this book surrounded was focused on Birdie and Daniel trying to find out who this mystery guy was at the hotel where they worked. I feel like this often took up too much page time and wanted to focus more on their relationship. It honestly would have probably made the book a bit shorter (which is fine).

I did love Daniel. I thought he was charming and cute. He was open to discussing his mental health and disability. I liked the way he approached things and his relationship with Birdie. I wish Birdie responded better to some of the information he told her, but I do understand it would be a lot to work through initially.

Though y’all. If you read my Starry Eyes review (linked!) and have read this book, then you know what I’m about to mention. HOW IN THE WORLD DID THEY GO THROUGH A BOX OF CONDOMS IN A NIGHT? And why is this a reoccurring theme in her books?! I’m sorry, until someone can tell me this is a usual and common thing that happens I refuse to believe otherwise. It just seems ridiculous, out of place, and not necessary information to what was initially a sweet love scene.

The expansion of grief, depression, anger, and resentment are a foundation in this novel. I liked that this hit on harder topics because this is what a lot of us deal with. I felt for Daniel and Birdie (and many side characters) at different times because life is hard sometimes (and I know that’s mild). It was nice to have it woven in with a tender happy-ending love story. There was a lot of depth from both of these characters, even if I found some decisions amusing.

Even though I had some issues with it I think the biggest factor was reading a book I really love prior. So please take this review in that light! You will probably enjoy this and I definitely plan on continuing to read her books.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: some kisses, a remembrance of a night together (a little detailed), and another little detailed FTB scene, mentions of sleeping with each other and sex in general
  • Trigger warnings: discussion of a previous suicide attempt (chapter 19) and then it is brought up a few more times, depression, anxiety

Instagram || Goodreads