Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

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Synopsis:

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.

Purchase From:

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Review

I’d heard a lot about this book, mostly on bookstagram, but didn’t decide to give it a try until I received an ARC of it’s sequel, Hunting Prince Dracula. Unfortunately, as hard as I tried to get into this story I just did not enjoy it. The story follows Audrey Rose, a young woman in high society who is fascinated with cadavers. Thankfully, her Uncle Jonathan is a scientist who also enjoys exploring dead bodies but Audrey Rose’s father doesn’t approve. Thus, Audrey must sneak around to do her scientific work, which gets more and more difficult as she begins to get invested in solving the Jack the Ripper case.

The main premise, or mystery, of the story is of course, who is Jack the Ripper? While I hoped the answer would be surprising, I guessed who it was pretty much right away. Maybe I’m just a naturally suspicious person, but I didn’t trust this person from the get go and all the false leads were such obvious red herrings that they just confirmed to me my suspicions were right. So yeah, the mystery didn’t thrill me and the “twist” left me feeling meh.

Additionally, I could’ve done without all the gross descriptions of dead bodies, but that was too expected in this novel. However, if you’re squeamish I highly wouldn’t recommend this book. It literally begins with Audrey cutting into a body.

The best part of the novel was the bit of romance between Audrey and her uncle’s student, Thomas. The two work together to solve the case of Jack the Ripper and of course they fall for each other, because that’s what happens when you stick two teens in a room together for too long. Sorry, my sarcasm just slips out sometimes. I really did enjoy their scenes together and they pretty much got me through this book.

Even so, as cute as I think Audrey and Thomas are together, I actually don’t really care about them or any of the other characters. Nothing about the story made me want to know more or keep reading, and so I felt the story dragged. I began skimming towards the end just I could finally be finished with the book. Because of this I’ve decided not to read the sequel, though I did give it try. I just can’t get into this story. Maybe it’s just not right for me, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow!

Stars:

2 stars

Favorite Line:

“Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”

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Book Review: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

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Synopsis:

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered.

Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s outrageous transformation—sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively—as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn.

This epic YA debut draws from Chinese folklore, features a larger-than-life heroine, and perfectly balances the realities of Genie’s grounded high school life with the absurd supernatural world she finds herself commanding.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Abrams Books for Young Readers. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel is now on sale.*

Let me start by saying this book is kind of weird. There were multiple times during my reading of this novel where I said to myself, “Wait, what?” For example, very early on it’s revealed that Quentin has a monkey tail. I still don’t fully understand how he hides this from regular people.

However, despite the strangeness of the story I find myself being pretty sucked in to Genie Lo’s story. I found her strive to get accepted into an Ivy League school and leave her life in suburbia behind relatable. I also really enjoyed her friendship with Yunie and liked how their friendship was kind of tested during the novel.

Genie and Quentin’s relationship was also interesting and also a little strange. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to like him at first or not. Genie certainly didn’t, and rightly so. Still, as the novel went on, I started to really ship them and they had some cute moments that made me laugh and smile.

As far as the demon fighting goes, though, I wasn’t all that impressed by that plot. It seemed pretty easily resolved in the end to me; however, there was a nice little twist that did surprise me. Even with the twist though, I didn’t really find the villains impressive and I was annoyed with Guanyin, the goddess that was supposedly on Quentin and Genie’s side. The way she treated Genie annoyed me and made no sense to me. I felt the same way about Genie’s mom, as well.

There were also some plot points that just seemed to fall off and never really be explained. For example, I’m not sure what the relationship with Guanyin and Quentin really was in the past. And Genie’s involvement with volleyball team seemingly disappears entirely halfway through the novel, as well as the girl who tormented her.

Overall, I wanted more from this novel. I could’ve done with a little more romance, more action, and more of Yunie. I believe this is a stand alone, but I’d actually be interested in seeing this story continue, because I think it could only get better.

For now though, this novel just didn’t do it for me.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

3 stars

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Book Review: Seriously… I’m Kidding

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Synopsis:

Seriously… I’m Kidding is a lively, hilarious, and often sweetly poignant look at the life of the much-loved entertainer as she opens up about her personal life, her talk show, and joining the judges table of American Idol.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

According to Goodreads, I started this book in September 2016. As much as I love Ellen this book just didn’t hook me and it was a book I definitely didn’t have a problem putting down, multiple times. Even so, Ellen’s wit and natural humor definitely made me laugh a few times and I highly recommend listening to the audiobook, rather than just reading the book.

One of my favorite parts about listening to this book five years after it was first published is remembering all the things Ellen has done and been through. She discusses her coming out and her brief stint as an American Idol judge, which I totally forgot about. She also jokes about her frustration with Pixar making sequels to just about every movie except Finding Nemo, which was extra funny now that the sequel has been made (and was very good).

Ellen also dropped some words of wisdom and advice that were so ridiculous I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, even while I was doing a run. This book just reminded me how incredibly kind and amazing Ellen is and I was happy to learn a little bit more about her by listening to this audiobook. I just wouldn’t listen to it again.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.”

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Book Review: The Rose & the Dagger

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Synopsis:

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*Warning: There will be spoilers from The Wrath & the Dawn in this read. Read at your own risk!*

I wanted to love this duology but overall it was overhyped to me. The first book got better, so I was able to look past my issues with it but The Rose and the Dagger was just such a huge disappointment.

This novel pretty much begins where the first book left off. Shazi now has to figure out how she can break the curse on her husband, Khalid, so they can be together. However, she, along with her family, are now living in the desert with Khalid’s enemies, which includes Shazi’s first love, Tariq. Needless to say, the situation is complicated.

My biggest issue with this book was how big magic ended up coming to play in the story. In the first novel, Shazi and her father’s ability with magic was briefly mentioned but not in such a way that I thought it would be such a huge part of solving basically every issue in this novel. The magic that basically took over the story just seemed like such a cop out to me, especially with the introduction of Artan, a skilled magician, and his whole backstory.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Artan has a character but we just met him and all of sudden he becomes this big player in the story. His addition to the story, along with Shazi’s magical carpet, changed this series from A Thousand Nights retelling to an Aladdin retelling and I didn’t really like the shift.

Additionally, how the issue of the curse was resolved just seemed very anticlimactic to me. The curse was made out to be the worst possible thing every so I was expecting something crazy to happen and I just kind of felt meh when everything was resolved. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t that. I felt that way about pretty much all the conflicts in this book. I just expected the stakes to feel higher or something crazier to go down and it didn’t play out that way.

There were some deaths that did shock me so that was a nice surprise. This book really dragged for me and I didn’t start getting into until the last 100 pages when there was more action and everything starts coming together. Even so, I just did not love this novel overall.

My favorite part about this novel was probably seeing more of Irsa and her relationship with Rahim. Besides that though, I was majorly disappointed with how this story played out and I thought about not finishing it multiple times but decided to push through since I was doing a buddy read.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be reading more of Renée Ahdieh’s books. I didn’t love this duology and most of the issues I had with it were the same issues I had with Flame in the Mist. I just found that in her storytelling she doesn’t explain things. She throws out these ideas and solutions and you’re just supposed to be like, “Yeah sure that makes sense,” when it actually does not, in fact, back sense. It drove me crazy with this book as it did with her others.

However, I will say she definitely knows how to write romance and that’s what kept these books interesting for me. If you’ve read The Rose and the Dagger let me know your thoughts about it below!

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“True strength isn’t about sovereignty. It’s about knowing when you need help and having the courage to accept it.”

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Book Review: Trusting You & Other Lies

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Synopsis:

Phoenix can’t imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years—do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?

On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum—the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he’s impossible to figure out—and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he’s promising Phoenix a summer she’ll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on June 20.*

It’s officially summer, which means it’s time to pull out those contemporaries and get into a summer time vibe and Trusting You & Other Lies is the perfect book for that. Set at a family summer camp that was giving me serious Dirty Dancing vibes (the original, not the remake), we find Phoenix, her little brother, Harry, and their parents trying to pretend their family is way more functional than it actually is.

Phoenix is pissed at her parents because they’re in dire financial straits, but rather than tell Phoenix and Harry the truth they’ve been hiding it, though Phoenix has discovered their dirty little secret. Of course, rather than confront them she decides to be passive aggressive and has decided from the get go that she will not like this camp she’s being forced to attend.

Of course, that’s when Callum steps in. Callum is cute, mysterious, and everything you’re looking for in a summer fling. While Callum trains Phoenix to be a counselor it becomes more and more obvious that there’s an attraction between them, but Phoenix has serious trust issues, and not just because of her parents; her ex cheated on her right before she went to camp. As Phoenix tries to figure out her feelings for Callum (and his feelings for her), she also has to decide if she’s willing to forgive the ones who’ve betrayed her trust and learn to trust again.

While there were definitely some cute and swoonworthy scenes in this novel, I wasn’t all that impressed with Phoenix and Callum’s romance. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of Phoenix or Callum. They both annoyed me a lot throughout the novel and I just wanted to shake them and ask, “Why are you like this?” Harry was honestly my favorite character.

I was also kind of annoyed about some things that were mentioned and then never explained, mainly about Callum’s brother. I know Callum’s supposed to be mysterious but he’d just drop these tiny bombshells about his brother and then never say another else about it, which I found so irritating.

Besides that though, this was a decent romance and it was a pretty quick read. I probably wouldn’t read again but I didn’t hate it. Basically, it was meh.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“You are the porterhouse [steak]. The best. All those other girls, any other girl, they’re packing popcorn.”

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Book Review: Cheater

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Synopsis:

Lucas Thorn wasn’t born a cheater. All it took was a single moment—say, a certain disastrous incident on the night before his wedding—and boom. Reputation destroyed forever and always. So now he owns it. He has a lady friend for every night of the week (except Sundays—God’s day and all), and his rules are simple: No commitments. No exceptions.

But a certain smart-mouthed, strawberry blonde vixen is about to blow that all to hell.

Avery Black has never forgiven Lucas for cheating on her sister. And suddenly being forced to work with him is pretty much a nightmare on steroids. Of course, it does afford her the opportunity to make his life as difficult as possible. But no good revenge scheme comes without payback. Because he didn’t become the Lucas Thorn without learning a few things about women.

Now Avery’s lust for vengeance has turned into, well, lust. And if Lucas stops cheating, it’s definitely not because he’s falling in love…

Purchase From:

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Review

First, the synopsis of this novel led me to believe this would be an office type of romance situation in which the protagonists hate each other but they clearly also have chemistry and by having to work together sparks fly and they end up together. This was not that kind of book. Instead, I got a “let’s pretend we’re in a relationship for some reason and then while we’re pretending we realize it’s real” kind of story, which is not what I signed up for.

My biggest issue with this isn’t even that the plot was so very different than what I was led to believe, it was how the book got to this point. This is a bit spoilery but it happens early on in the novel and I’ll try to keep it as vague as possible.

Basically, Avery ends up sleeping over at Lucas’ apartment because she was drunk and his sister came over and thought that Avery and Lucas hooked up. Rather than just tell Lucas’ sister the truth, Avery decided it’d be better to pretend that they were actually dating and were in a serious committed relationship. Honestly, this was so ridiculous and only got more ridiculous when Lucas’ sister than told his mother about it and again, rather than just tell her the truth, he then played along with it until suddenly every one in Avery and Lucas’ families believed they were in a committed relationship.

Also, Lucas and Avery decided to continue the lie simply because they wanted their mothers to become friends again since they’d stopped talking after Lucas cheated on Avery’s sister Kayla with her other sister Brooke. Because somehow no one was upset that Lucas was now dating yet another sister of his ex-fiancé. Sure.

Truly, I thought the whole plot of this novel was outrageous and the only thing that saved it for me was that Lucas and Avery were pretty funny. The novel is told in their alternating POVs and there were a few lines that did make me laugh out loud. Plus, the two did have chemistry, which was nice.

Still, overall I thought this novel was sub par at best. I also didn’t understand this idea that Lucas was a “cheater.” Yes, he cheated in the past and in that way he was a cheater but him sleeping with different women every day of the week doesn’t make him a cheater. All of these women knew he wasn’t dating just them and agreed to it therefore I’m confused as to how what he was doing was considered cheating. It’s called being in an open relationship or just having multiple partners.

As long as everyone is involved is aware it’s not cheating and I hated that this book basically makes it seem like dating multiple people at once is problematic or being polyamorous is wrong. It’s not and this book shouldn’t promote this idea that it is. This idea that Lucas was a cheater was repeatedly hammered on throughout the novel, hence the title, and it thoroughly annoyed me all the way through.

So if you couldn’t already tell I didn’t love this book and I definitely will not be reading the sequel/companion novel. If you haven’t read this book, I definitely don’t recommend it but if you have read it let me know what you think.

Also, I’m currently running a giveaway on my Instagram. You can check it out here.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow it.

Stars:

2 stars

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ARC Book Review: Flame in the Mist

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Synopsis:

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and track down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 16, 2017.*

I didn’t know this was a Mulan retelling until someone on Instagram said it was and that made me feel so much better because my first thought while reading was, “Is this supposed to be like Mulan or are the similarities just an unfortunate coincidence?” Once I knew it was a retelling I was more comfortable with the similarities between the plots and I also liked how much Renée Ahdieh also changed it for her own story.

The first noticeable difference is this novel takes place in feudal Japan not Han China. However, there’s also a lot of other differences. I’d say the only real similarities is that Mariko disguises herself as a man and she develops romantic feelings for one of the men she ends up working alongside. Otherwise the stories are actually very different.

Mariko ends up disguising herself as a means of survival. Walking around in the jungle is never a good idea. Walking around in the jungle as a woman is an even a worse idea. It’s unfortunate but it’s also true. So Mariko takes on a new (male) identity and heads on a mission to find the Black Clan who she believes is responsible for trying to kill her and killing all those that were with her.

She of course finds them and figures out a way to weasel into their group. It’s not easy and she quickly realizes that while she’s smart in a lot of way, she’s not exactly “street smart.” Still, while working with the Black Clan she begins to make friends and even finds some romance.

Besides Mariko, the story also follows other characters. Told in the third person the story switches around a bit to Mariko’s brother, Kenshin, the Emperor, and members of the Black Clan. The jump in perspectives was nice because at points I found Mariko’s story to be a bit slow. I wanted action and she’s a planner, which is fine I just wasn’t really interested in all her plotting.

There’s also a great deal of mystery and magic in this novel and while I think the mystery did it’s job in making me want to know more it also left me thoroughly confused. Mainly, I was very confused by the ending and I’m not sure that I’m supposed to be. This book is the first in the series so obviously the cliff hanger sets up the next novel but I think the ending of this book was a plot twist that I somehow missed. I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll just say that the ending left me feeling unsatisfied, not entirely eager to continue on with the series but also curious to know what happens next.

Another issue I had with the novel was the romance. I won’t say who it’s with because one thing I did like about this novel was I wasn’t entirely sure at first who Mariko’s romance would be with. Not to say it took me by surprise when it happened but there’s definitely a few twists that I was definitely surprised by and liked a lot. What I didn’t enjoy was the ease in which the conflict between Mariko and her love interest was resolved. It just seemed way too easy to me. It was like there was this huge betrayal and then a few chapters it was like, “Never mind, we’re good.” I didn’t get it all and it didn’t sit right with me.

Besides that though, I did really love the romance. It made me swoon, which sounds cheesy to say but it’s true. Plus, I just really liked the relationship between them. Mariko spent her whole life feeling less than just because she was a woman and with the Black Clan and her love interest she began to realize that being a woman wasn’t a weakness or a fault, it was just who she was. I absolutely loved that and I loved that overall message of the book.

For that alone I really did enjoy this novel. Would I read it again? I’m not sure. Still, I think you should give this book a try. It’s really interesting and like I said, the romance is fantastic.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“You are first and foremost a person. A reckless, foolish person, but a person nonetheless. If I ever say you are not permitted to do something, rest assured that the last reason I would ever say so would be because you are a girl.”

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