Book Review

Book Review: Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction mystery + romance
Length: 453 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release Date: September 10th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In the shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer—or see their fateful romance cut short by unspeakable tragedy.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

BEST OF THE BUNCH.

Okay. I can officially say I’m glad I read this after being very frustrated with how book three went down. This was a solid ending that wrapped everything up liked it needed to be.

BUT FIRST. Let me just say, I do not appreciate why the marriage was postponed. I haaaaaaate stuff like that y’all. Hate. And that’s pretty much why it’s a four star. I think they should have gotten married and solved the murder together, married. There wasn’t angst adding the drama in.

Now, THOMAS CRESSWELL. Seriously one of my top bookish boyfriends. I can’t get over him. The sweet and precious moments between Thomas and Audrey Rose were written so beautifully. I swooned over and over at the writing. Lyrical and utterly romantic. Thomas is amazing. We won’t discuss Audrey Rose, though I will say this was the best version of her I’ve seen in the series. The least annoying.

I’ve seen some lower reviews for this because they wanted more of the mystery aspect. These books are romance books at their base. They really are. If you’re interested in them, definitely know that going in. My expectations went much better when I knew I was going to be getting a lot of romance (which we know I prefer anyways).

The plot line of this book kind of went: romance, romance, mystery, mystery, romance. It felt a little disjointed. There was a big focus on the romance, then it dove off into just about solving the murders, then the epilogue finished off the romance. It worked out okay, but I think they could have been combined better.

I’m satisfied and happy with this series and would still recommend it to those interested. I liked the historical fiction aspects and of course, THOMAS CRESSWELL. The writing is well done and even the frustrating moments don’t ruin the enchanting story it is.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction romance + mystery
  • Language: very little light
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a little detailed love scene, another fade to black scene
  • Violence: very detailed descriptions of multiple murders, physical attacks

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Raven and the Dove (The Raven and the Dove #1) by Kaitlyn Davis

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fantasy retelling + romance
Length: 506 pages
Author: Kaitlyn Davis
Publisher: Self-published
Expected Release Date: March 9th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Four fates collide in this avian-inspired, epic fantasy retelling of Tristan and Isolde perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo!

A princess longing to be free…

On the dawn of her courtship trials, Princess Lyana Aethionus knows she should be focused on winning her perfect mate, yet her thoughts wander to the open sky waiting at the edge of her floating kingdom. One final adventure calls. Upon fleeing the palace, the last thing she expects to find is a raven prince locked in a death match with a dragon.

A bastard aching to belong…

Reviled son of a dead king, Rafe would do anything for his beloved half-brother, Prince Lysander Taetanus, including posing as him in the upcoming courtship trials. When a dragon interrupts their secret exchange, he orders his studious sibling to run. After suffering a fatal blow, Rafe is saved by a beautiful dove who possesses forbidden magic, just like him.

Fate brought them together, now destiny will tear them apart…

Unknown to the world above, on the foggy sea ten thousand feet below, a young king fights a forgotten war. He believes Lyana is the queen prophesied to save the world, and with the help of his favored spy, hidden deep in the highest ranks of the dove royal house, he will stop at nothing to have her.

Three shocking betrayals. Two star-crossed lovers. One unforgettable journey. If you like fierce heroines, brooding heroes, forbidden romance, and action-packed magical adventures with twists you’ll never see coming, don’t miss The Raven and the Dove!

Thank you to the author Kaitlyn Davis for providing an e-ARC through Netgalley. All opinions are my own!

IF YOU’RE A BIRD, I’M A BIRD.

Wait a minute, hold on, come support an indie author and get this book on your TBR! It has everything I’m looking for in a YA fantasy and the 500 pages really felt like nothing. Let’s get into this review.

It’s a Tristan and Isolde retelling, and if you’re not sure who those people are, please Google the story like I did after reading Sweet Black Waves and getting my heart ripped out. I love the way this version was written and like the twists Davis put on it. I could definitely see some of the similarities, but it swayed far enough away that this is it’s own novel, on a whole new fantasy level.

I am in love with my cinnamon rolls Rafe and Xander. These brothers are so tender, and kind. They’re loyal to one another and I appreciated the strong family bond they have. Lyana and Cassi were great friends too. I love that everyone had a support system with them. They brought the soft moments, and the hard ones together.

Ships were flying all over the place. This is a rare example of a sort of love triangle actually not bothering me. I know, I can’t believe I said it either. But really! This was so well done. You can see where [I think] the ships will eventually end, but I like how it flowed back and forth just enough to add intrigue and another layer to the story.

THE ENDING WAS WILD. Oh my goodness so much happened. It luckily didn’t end in a dramatic cliff-hanger. Enough happened though that the next book is definitely on my radar. I love how much action and characters came onto the scene. Betrayals were flying all around, people getting tossed off of worlds, INSANE. Oh, and did I mention, THIS WORLD HAS DRAGONS?

I liked the world-building as well. I still have a few questions, but I feel like those will be answered over other books so I’m not concerned. The way the world is set up with one group on land and one group in the air is CRAZY COOL. And the way the people become birds? I need someone to tell me more about that! I love the way the Houses are all split to different types of birds and their strengths. Everything was well thought out and I am so happy I picked this up!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: VERY little
  • Romance: some kisses, a no detail fade-to-black scene
  • Violence: dragons, fire, swords, earthquakes, magic, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: The Dazzling Heights (The Thousandth Floor #2) by Katharine McGee

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult dystopian
Length: 422 pages
Author: Katharine McGee
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: August 29th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

All that glitters is not gold.

New York City, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amid high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets…

Leda is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden—even if it means trusting her enemy.

Watt just wants to put everything behind him…until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Will he do what it takes to be free of her for good?

When Rylin wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being there also means seeing the boy whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.

Avery is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. She’s desperate to be with him…no matter the cost.

And then there’s Calliope, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York determined to cause a stir. And she knows exactly where to begin.

But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. After all, in a world of such dazzling heights, just one wrong step can mean a devastating fall.

NOTHING HAPPENED.

I listened to this on audio, which I did really enjoy. The voices weren’t odd and the speaker did a great job. Definite props to the audio book.

But, the book itself? Nothing happened until the last few pages. Seriously.

I know this book is meant to be high drama and such. I got bored with this model though the longer this book went on. The high school hormones were ruling the day and I couldn’t stop my eyes from rolling form time to time.

Characters more or less were still interesting. I liked seeing the arc for Leda, because I was really not liking her at first. Watt did her a lot of good. Avery and Atlas definitely have the oddest story and it I am kinda curious what will happen next with them.

There were so many rotating relationships I couldn’t keep track. People were kissing over here, people were kissing over there. And based off of the prologue i thought the entire book was going to have a different more mysterious focus. The character didn’t even show up for the book except for the very beginning and the very end. I would have loved to see more of them.

This unfortunately had all the makings of a weaker second book. So much so I haven’t decided when (or if) I’ll pick up book three. I’m not even sure how this whole saga could end.

I do love the way the world is set-up and find all of the futuristic stuff amazing. I think it would be pretty cool to have a lot of those gadgets.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult dystopia
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a few fade to black scenes with no detail
  • Violence: murder by drowning, physical
  • Trigger warnings: drug use, underage alcohol consumption, a teacher kissing a student

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Book Review

Book Review: One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2) by Kendare Blake

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 464 pages
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: September 19th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

THIS WAS BETTER.

After the mostly disaster of Three Dark Crowns, I somehow convinced myself I wanted to see if book two actually got better (like a lot of my friends had mentioned). They were right, this was at least, better.

I thought the drama and stakes gained a couple of levels that kept me interested throughout the book. The writing is quick and fast paced with a continual flow of things happening.

Having a wicked character really helped too. Katharine hit a monstrous streak that I was here for. Sometimes it’s nice actually seeing some darkness from a book with dark in the title. I found it pretty creepy what had ended up happening to her to cause such a darkness and am curious how that will continual to fuel her decisions.

Arsinoe and Mirabella are fine. I like them and like that all of the queens have stand-out personalities. It would be a bummer if they all sounded and acted the same. There story line was infinitely different and now I have been dragged into wanting to see how book three and four play out. I kind of wish that one of the queens actually did die (maybe that’s coming?) because I feel like the character deaths that did happen weren’t earth-shattering. Honestly, I wasn’t even upset with the deaths.

The romances played a big part of the plot line still. While I felt I got more out of them because this was book two, it was still missing a lot of background information. I know very little about the suitors and I have been having a hard time connecting with any of these characters.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, a few fade to black with no detail
  • Violence: physical, animal attacks, poison, someone is choked to death

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Book Review

Book Review: Storm and Fury (The Harbinger #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + romance
Length: 512 pages
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: June 11th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…

WHERE AM I?

That’s how I felt most of this book.

My biggest issue was the total lack of world building. I know this is a spin-off from a previous series of hers. I was told by multiple people that you don’t have to read it to be able to understand and enjoy this one. I agree up until the point that if the previous series has better world-building that would have been a major help here.

I finally gathered that it is some type of dystopia / fantasy universe. There were normal US cities, but we had magical powers and people who could transform into gargoyles, so somewhere between all of that is your world. Do I know why it is that way? NOPE, this book’s focus is the romance (not necessarily a bad thing), but since the everything else was sorely lacking, I couldn’t be as involved with the romance.

Though the romance is the part I did like best. I thought the flow between Zane and Trinity was great. It’s sort of slow, with a touch of animosity at first, that gives way to some tender moments. The love scene was kind of odd, but other than that, I ship them.

My other problem with this book was the immaturity of conversation. Using phrases like *douche nozzle* takes me out of the story and I’m clearly still not over that this word was used. The lingo annoyed me as well. Just the whole combination of conversations bothered me the entire time. I didn’t love Trinity as an MC. Never got on board with her.

The plot was focused around finding a lost friend…that was it. There were hints and nods towards some bigger focus, and I wish we had more of that. It made the story somewhat boring because of how intensely focused they were on this one thing. Whoever is really pulling the strings needs to come out of the word work so this book can liven up some more.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + romance
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, once love scene (with some description)
  • Violence: battles, physical, knives, swords, magical

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Book Review

Book Review: The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 347 pages
Author: C.G. Drews
Publisher: Orchard Books
Release Date: April 4th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Can two broken boys find their perfect home?

Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he’s ever known. Now Sam’s trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he’s caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing – each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life, and falling for the beautiful Moxie.

But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him.

ALL THE FEELS.

I devoured this book in hours y’all. It was a quick read, with lots of emotions and a cute love story too. It’s a loose Goldilocks and the three bears retelling and I thought it did that service well.

The story itself started out a little slow, but the more I got to know Sam, Avery and the De Lainey family I was smitten by them. This is a dark contemporary though. It is not going to be a fluffy read (though there were a few fluffy moments). Sam is a very well fleshed out character who has some personal troubles from his past that he’s running away from rather than trying to work through. He’s never had anyone support him while he’s been supporting his older brother who has autism. This is really a journey for Sam as he finally learns what it feels like to have people take care of you.

You won’t even get a CRAZY HAPPY ENDING. You will get the ending this book should have. As I already mentioned it’s not a fluffy contemporary. Sam (with his new support system) has to confront his past to move on from it. I love the hopeful message it gave.

The bond between brothers was amazing. Most of the books I read are love stories, so the focus on brothers was different for me. I adored the way it was written. I found myself completely caught up in their lives and the flashback chapters shook me every time. I love how deeply Avery and Sam love each other (even when fighting).

This does have a touch of romance that took up the perfect amount of page time. It wasn’t the focus. It was stinkin’ cute though to watch Sam try to flirt and apologize to Moxie. He was precious and maybe a bit desperate. Moxie was bold and I love watching their interactions. It was sweet and endearing.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult dark contemporary
  • Language: some
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: physical, stabbing, see more in Trigger Warnings
  • Trigger warnings: child abuse (physical, verbal), homelessness, anxiety

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Book Review

Book Review: The Art of Falling in Love by Haleigh Wenger

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 262 pages
Author: Haleigh Wenger
Publisher: Literary Crush Publishing
Expected Release Date: August 13th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Seventeen-year-old Claire Haynes always spends summer vacation at her family’s beach house in Florida, sketching and dreaming of art school with her biggest fan–her Opa. But when Opa dies right before summer break, all Claire has left besides her memories is a sand-sculpting contest application with her name on it and the lingering question of why Opa filled it out in the first place. Claire has never even made a decent sandcastle, but she reluctantly turns in the entry forms, hoping the contest will help her navigate the grieving process by honoring one of Opa’s last wishes.

When she meets Foster, a teenage boy with a talent for turning recyclables into abstract sculptures, the two join forces to win the contest and salvage the Summer of Art. They spend the humid summer days shoveling sand, devouring ice cream, and exploring Florida’s art scene. Just like Opa, Foster understands Claire and her overwhelming need to create, but he has a secret that threatens to ruin everything: he’s homeless and hiding from an abusive brother who would have him believe family trumps all.

When Claire’s parents find out about Foster’s homelessness, they offer him a home along with their hearts. But even picture-perfect families like Claire’s can harbor an ugly side, especially in the aftermath of Opa’s death. When someone close to Claire spills Foster’s secret, they’re both forced to choose between love and familial obligation. If Claire can’t break through long-held beliefs and prove family is more than shared DNA, she could permanently lose Foster and a chance at the sand contest to honor Opa.

A CUTE BEACH READ WITH DEEPER CONTEXT.

I saw a friend talking about this book and when she mentioned it was free on Kindle that day, I thought, WHY NOT? Why not indeed. This was a hidden gem from a debut author (and it’s only $2.99 on Kindle now so hey! That’s cheap too).

I loved the way the relationship between Claire and Foster developed. They had a nice meet cute and then things slowly built with actual conversation and interactions with each other. Even as a summer romance nothing ever felt insta-love and I was totally wrapped up in how things were going with them. The only thing that bothered me at times was watching Claire keep trying and seeking out Foster and when he should have done the same…he didn’t. Foster eventually did take matters into his own hands, but it took him a very long time to actually do something for their relationship.

Claire had a summer of growth and learning about herself. After the loss of her grandfather she coped with it while also having to look forward to decisions about art school and what type of medium she was interested in. I felt she really came into herself and her increased confidence and decision making by the end made her a heroine to remember.

The only character that truly upset me was Claire’s sister, Livvy. I still don’t think she actually redeemed herself from the crappy choices she made out of spite. Livvy acted very immature and completely irrational more than half the time. It felt like she was only there to add some more drama, but I could have done without her.

I loved the beach setting and it made me wish I could have read this during the summer because it is the epitome of a beach read. Lots of sun, sand, love and road trips. What more could you ask for?

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: physical
  • Trigger warnings: child abuse, homelessness

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