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: 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: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Mystery + Thriller
Length: 384 pages
Author: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Expected Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is. 

HAD SOME GOOD MOMENTS.

This starts out super chill. We have a nanny who’s going to work at a very creepy smart-house. It can automatically be assumed something will go down because when does a smart-house in a thriller novel ever work correctly? I was intrigued and ready to get things rolling. What slowed me down (time and time again) was the excessive paragraphs dedicated to describing every nook and cranny of the house. I’m not someone who needs to know minute details so for me, I breezed past those to get to the more interesting bits.

I like the way everything was set up. The age of the girls, the parents, the other staff members. I felt they all kind of played their parts well and had rolls that you loved or hated. I liked Rowan and thought she was an odd character. It seemed like she was trying her best to help out and take care of the kids. The style set-up with Rowan writing to a lawyer was interesting. I thought it might get in the way, but she only really addressed him a handful of times so it’s not as bothersome as it could have been.

Something I didn’t love was the awful husband, when his full story came to light I was already angry at him and this just fueled that rage. I kinda wish he had gotten his karma in this book because he deserved it. Another piece was the “romance” thrown into this. WHY. Why does every thriller with a female lead NEED a randevu with the handsome new guy/stranger. It added nothing to the story.

The ending plot twists…I did NOT see coming. And was totally floored when they happened. I absolutely loved them and thought it was a great way to turn everything on its head before the story ended. I wish we did get more of an end because I closed the book feeling unsatisfied that I didn’t get the last little pieces I was hoping *sigh*.

Overall audience notes:

  • Thriller/Mystery
  • Language: some strong language throughout
  • Romance: one love scene, took one paragraph and pretty vague
  • Violence: murder
  • Trigger warnings: death of a child, unwanted sexual advancements, cheating spouse

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + mystery
Length: 296 pages
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality . . .

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural. First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad’s Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer. 

I ENJOY ANYTHING THAT REFERENCES DINOSAURS.

I am hooked by anything that references paleontology. The fact that Abigail comes from a family with a paleontologist, and she herself loves the field only made me more excited when this book had that as its main focus.

What’s even better is what the dinosaur turned out to be! I loved the intrigue and mystery surrounding the whole case itself. Kept me guessing and even set up for the next book which I appreciated.

I am still laughing out loud at Jackaby and his antics and phrases. He has some good moments and I love his character! He’s actually funny and so often it’s not done well. I love his dynamic with Abigail and that they seem to appreciate each other (even when they are both terrible at showing it). They are a dynamic duo and Abigail can hold her own which makes her character even more lovable.

Not to mention the cute romance brewing between her and Charlie. It’s nothing in your face. It’s this nice background love story that you are cheering for, but not flipping pages just to read about them. I like where things are headed for them and that they seem to understand each other and what it would take to be together.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + mystery + historical
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: ancient creatures eating people, murder, most violence is because of creature attacks

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult historical fiction + mystery
Length: 326 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release Date: September 20th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

THOMAS CRESSWELL IS MY NEW FAVORITE.

Okay, this was new. I haven’t read a book quite like this with the take on someone trying to catch a historical serial killer. WHAT FUN RIGHT? Mostly.

My biggest issue, that curbed my rating significantly was how easy it was to know who the murderer was. I truly picked them out from the moment they walked onto the page. Since he ended up because Jack, I was downtrodden and it made it hard for me to keep picking up the book.

BUT, I was enjoying the heeeeeck about of Thomas. He is my new favorite and I loved every single moment of his shameless flirting with Audrey Rose. SO STINKIN’ CUTE. I clearly couldn’t get enough of him, and their relationship alone is why I will read book two at some point.

Audrey Rose was a great character herself too. Even in the time period she was a strong, independent woman who was going to make sure every man in her way would give her the time of day. Though she was too blinded to see the answer to her troubles, I loved her dialogue and interactions in general.

The plot itself was fine, but like I previously stated when you immediately know who the killer it, it takes away from everything else. I love historical fictions though. And am really curious where this goes from here. The ending was nicely put together with an opening for the next book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction + mystery
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: a lot, detailed murders, mentions of cannibalism, detailed violence by knives

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult mystery/thriller
Length: 336 pages
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: January 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself. 

DEFINITELY A BIT CREEPY.

I’m not a horror/scary fan. Never have been, and while I would love to try a legit horror book just once, I like this dialed back version a lot.

I loved One of Us Is Lying, and TCKaS was better.

I spent the entire book trying to guess who was the original murderer. Every time I thought I had an idea, whoa bam, something would happen and I would have to change my mind.

THIS IS HOW I’M SUPPOSED TO FEEL. Right? No one wants a mystery book where you can guess the person before you even start reading it. I loved that the blame kept moving around making me nervous as to what the final fallout would be.

There were definitely some creepy moments. And it only got more disturbing as all of the facts were known. I mean, really disturbing.

I loved our two main POVs, Ellery and Malcolm. They had great banter and chemistry together. I liked that both of there backgrounds were different and switching between them gave a truly different view point on how these murders were affecting them.

A chilling last sentence left me feeling shook. I am not mad I read this. These are the only YA mystery/thrillers I’ve ever read and I will definitely keep picking her books up.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery/thriller
  • Language: a bit of strong language
  • Romance: kiss/small make-out
  • Violence: light descriptions of multiple murders, creepy dolls, poisoning, physical
  • Trigger warnings: loss of a loved one

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Eveyln Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Mystery/Fiction
Length: 449 pages
Author: Stuart Turton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: September 18th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The Rules of Blackheath:

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m. 
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit. 
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer. 
Understood? Then let’s begin…

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

WHAT WAS THE DEAL WITH THE FOOTMAN.

Okay. I liked this book.

But I’m going to start this out with saying I can not figure out what in the world was happening with the footman. He was there, doing all of these things, but had no context. Never learned his name, anything about him, NOTHING. I literally knew he was hired by another character and that was it. I know he’s a side character, but he was so frequently involved (and in the mind of the main character) that I really wanted some back story. I think I was supposed to hate him, but I became so indifferent from lack of information.

Now, momentarily, back to things I did like.

Y’all, this book is trippy. I am SO impressed with the way the author kept up with the timeline and all of guests at Blackheath. I was surprised at how easily I kept up and things made sense. Serious kudos for keeping things straight.

What also impressed me was that I didn’t figure out the final twist! I had surmised most of the story, but then things started breaking down even more and that last reveal moment had me like WHOA. There was never a lot of fingers pointed at one person so it made it difficult to nail down who I thought was the murderer. I honestly can’t believe that many people died. Totally insane.

Okay, back to the last frustrating bit I had.

There was no background to Blackheath itself. When the “boss” (trying to remain spoiler-free and as vague as I can) showed up and gave the narrator the low-down, it left me hanging. Who came up with this idea? How does this idea work? Is there magic involved? Also, WHAT TIME PERIOD ARE WE IN?

Unfortunately, I was left with more questions than answers which is why I had to knock off a few stars.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fiction/mystery (thriller? maybe a little)
  • Language: The use of b*tch was used once
  • Romance: kiss, a very little detailed morning after scene
  • Violence: guns, knives, physical beatings, poison, murder (a lot of murder)
  • Trigger warnings: some implication that one of the hosts has raped/sexually assaulted multiple women

Instagram || Goodreads