Book Review

Book Review: The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1) by Renée Ahdieh

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction + romance + paranormal
Length: 448 pages
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

VAMPIRES?

I hesitantly picked this book up because I love Ahdieh’s books, but I heard the hypeness over the apparent vampires in this book [note: not a fan of vampire books, never really have been]. My cautionary read turned out a lot better than I thought. And I know I liked this much better than others BECAUSE there were barely any vampires in the entire book.

Ahdieh’s writing is always wonderful. I was easily invested in the story and enjoyed reading it. I love the setting, especially having traveled there, it really added to the atmosphere and vibe of old world New Orleans. The mystery and mythical combination is a tune I can love.

The romance was good, when the love triangle wasn’t in play. UGH. It didn’t need that at all to add to it (though now apparently it’ll play a big part in book two). Jury is still out and how the rest of this will unfold, but I was definitely shipping Celene and Bastien. I love the sultry banter and romantic moments they had. The ending left me all up in arms and I need a resolution.

I liked Celene for the most part. Her lack of communication skills were obvious and annoying. Celene could have had a better friendship with Pippa if she would trust her for one minute. The amount of inner dialogue she had about not telling anyone anything was running me ragged. An inability to communicate anything can really sour a character. Otherwise, I enjoyed her braveness and her courage against her situation.

Oh yes, those vampires? Well throughout the book I really couldn’t figure out who the mystery chapters were (in the vampires POV). I honestly didn’t know until they showed up on the page. That was satisfying to be on edge the entire time with who was attacking Celene and her cohorts. I definitely think they underworld of New Orleans will play a much bigger role in the second book since all of the reveals didn’t come out until the second half.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult paranormal, historical fiction romance
  • Language: a little strong
  • Romance: some kisses, an almost love scene with a little detail
  • Violence: gory murder description
  • Trigger Warning: attempted rape (never in full detail, discussed as part of Celene’s past with a few paragraphs dedicated to how he attacked her)

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Monthly Wrap-Up

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: December 2019

Oh hey, LAST READING MONTH OF THE DECADE.

And what a month it was. I tried to read as many Christmas books as I could get my hands on to really feel that Christmas spirit. It totally worked. I had a lot of fantastic reads for the end of the year.

  • Starsight (Skyward #2) by Brandon Sanderson – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • There Will Come a Darkness (The Age of Darkness #1) by Katy Rose Pool – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Bid My Soul Farewell (Give the Dark my Love #2) by Beth Revis – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Of Rioters & Royals (Swift Shadows #1) by M.L. Greye – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Powell and Faith Erin Hicks – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) by Kerri Maniscalco – (☆☆☆☆)
  • It Happened at Christmas by Christen Krumm – (☆☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Christmas Like This by Carina Taylor – (☆☆)
  • Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West – (☆☆☆)
  • Defy the Stars (Constellation #1) by Claudia Gray – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Entwined Paths (Swift Shadows #2) by M.L. Greye – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
  • One Christmas in Winter by Bell Renshaw – (☆☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Ashlords by Scott Reintgen – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Defy the Worlds (Constellation #2) by Claudia Gray – (☆☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1) by Renee Ahdieh – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Defy the Fates (Constellation #3) by Claudia Gray – (☆☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Veins of Magic (The Otherworld #2) by Emma Hamm – (☆☆☆☆)
  • East (East #1) by Edith Pattou – (☆☆☆☆)

My favorite this month: Faking Under the Mistletoe

Least favorite this month: Christmas Like This

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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

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Book Review

Review: The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) by Deborah Harkness

The Book of Life.jpg

 

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Adult, a tiny bit of language, a few love scenes, kiss/make-outs, some violence/torture
Length: 584 pages
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Viking Adult
Release Date: July 15th, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

 

BOOK SUMMARY:

Bringing the magic and suspense of the All Souls Trilogy to a deeply satisfying conclusion, this highly anticipated finale went straight to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. In The Book of Life, Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present—facing new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

FINALLY AT THE END.

Well, I’m neither happy nor sad this is over. It was an okay series.

Yet again, you can honestly skip whole chapters and have missed nothing. The story finally swung around and started focusing on the actual, Book of Life (solid pun, right?).

There was also the addition of more characters that took a front running, THAT WERE HARDLY MENTIONED THE ENTIRE TIME. Turns out, this vamp was rather important to the plot of the series. Too many side stories that only kinda helped everything.

More on the adult side, a tiny bit of language. A few semi-descriptive love scenes. Descriptions of violence and torture.

Book Review

Review: Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night

 

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Adult, a tiny bit of language, a handful of love scenes, lots of kisses & make-outs, some violence
Length: 584 pages
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Viking Adult
Release Date: July 10th, 2012
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

 

BOOK SUMMARY:

Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I HATE THAT I SOMEHOW ENJOY THIS.

Alright, well, I sped-read (I mean really, flew through unnecessary paragraphs at an alarming rate) and was still able to grasp the entire book. Goes to reiterate, this book is entirely too long and with too many side plots that sway from the trilogies original intentions.

Once again I struggled with the atmosphere of vampires. I think that kind of character is just too much for me. Though, Gallowglass is definitely my favorite side character from this spectacle. I love that he calls Diana, “Auntie” and watches our for her while adding in chuckling anecdotes.

This book was spent 95% in 1590 Elizabethan London. That’s too much time y’all. I was so ready for everyone to be back in the 21st Century and actually focus on the problem at hand, Ashmole 782. The entire series is predicated on this manuscript and it doesn’t seem to even be that big of a focus throughout. The book, truthfully, focuses more on the love story between Matthew and Diana. And while I don’t have a problem with that, that’s where the synopsis and the beginning plot lines should have sprung from. I think I thought too much into where the plot was really taking me. It’s almost more a romance novel than anything else.

I still did appreciate reading about the love story. It’s tender, and Diana has more a backbone in this book at least. The human intentions and emotions from meeting people from the past gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. It’s enough for me to speed through this last book so I can at least know what the ending holds.

Very little language. A handful of love scenes that range from a soft gloss-over to detailed (though not as erotic as we all know some books go haha). Too many vampires to not have a decent dose of violence.

 

 

Book Review

Review: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

ADOW

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ [truthfully some unknown number between 3 & 4]
Audience: Adult, a tiny bit of language, a few love scenes, lots of kisses & make-outs, some violence
Length: 579 pages
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Viking Penguin
Release Date: February 2011
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I AM SO AT ODDS WITH THIS BOOK.

Okay y’all. The reason my star rating is “somewhere between 3 & 4” is because goodness gracious, I can’t decide what I feel about this book! Stay with me here. My thoughts may get scattered.

I definitely give points to the concept. I think it’s cool! It’s a different spin on Vampires, Witches and Daemons. Also, it spans such big time periods! I actually like that Matthew is 1500+ years old because there is so much to his background.

My issue stems from the fact that, generally speaking, I hate vampire books. I read (and enjoyed) the Twilight series, but after that I felt done. Since then, if I realize a book is about vampires it usually ends up on my DNF shelf with no remorse.

Matthew being a vampire didn’t ruin this book for me, but his dynamic occasionally bugged me. He felt too possessive, demanding, stubborn, stealthy, etc. Which then made Diana appear way too meek, submissive, and just an overall sense of: STAND UP FOR YOURSELF WOMAN.

While I felt their love story had truly good moments, the action of the book never heightened enough. I kept asking myself, was that all? Maybe that’s why I’m at odds. I kept reading expecting more, but never got it, yet enjoyed it, but also skimmed it, and this run-on sentence could just keep going. It was too long of a book, with a lot of side stuff that got in the way, so I sped-read through those bits to get to the heart of the novel.

I will pick-up the second book and reconvene here for a determination as to whether the third book is worth my time.

Book leans more towards adult, very very little language. Some kiss/make-out scenes. A few love scenes that are semi-descriptive. A bit of violence.