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:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

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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ARC Book Review: I Hate Everyone But You

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Synopsis:

Dear Best Friend,
I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.
Sincerely,
Ava Helmer
(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.
Stop crying.
G

So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

I Hate Everyone But You, the debut novel by two emerging major talents in YA, Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn, is a story about new beginnings, love and heartbreak, and ultimately about the power of friendship.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley. 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 September 5, 2017.*

Going into this novel I didn’t really know what it was about. I just love the authors, Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin, who started out at BuzzFeed before starting their own YouTube channel, Just Between Us. When I heard they wrote a YA novel together I knew I had to read it and was very excited to receive an eARC copy. I was even more excited when I realized this book is told in emails and texts, my favorite form of story telling (I love dialogue more than plot, fyi!).

I Hate Everyone But You, follows two best friends, Ava and Gen, who are starting their first year of college. While Ava is staying close to home by going to the University of Southern California, Gen is moving to the east coast to attend Emerson. Thus, the emails and texts are how they keep in touch, and I absolutely loved their friendship.

Ava has anxiety and is constantly battling that. Even though she’s still close to home she’s moved far enough where she must find a new therapist that can help her, and that’s sometimes easier said than done. Moreover, because of her anxiety and her personality in general, she struggles to make new friends and live in a world without Gen.

Differently, Gen is diving head first into her new life at Emerson. She’s writing for the school newspaper and aiming for a staff writer position, and her TA, Charlotte, seems eager to be her mentor. Additionally, Gen is exploring her sexuality in a way that surprises Ava.

While it’s clear Ava and Gen love each other, they also fight and have disagreements about a lot of different things. They discuss mental health, gender, sexuality, and more. They also challenge each other. Gen constantly corrects Ava, who struggles to understand that sexuality is fluid, and Gen has to come to terms with the fact that Ava will sometimes say things that Gen really needs to hear, even if she doesn’t like it.

Possibly my favorite thing about this novel is that Ava is clearly Allison and Gen is obviously Gaby, and the fact that the novel didn’t try to hide from that, but instead joked about it. BuzzFeed is mentioned as is their YouTube series, and Gen even calls Ava an “Allison,” at one point. I really liked that the authors weren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves.

Overall, I thought this was a great read and shows a realistic friendship, while also covering very real topics that aren’t talked about enough. Even if you’re not a fan of Allison and Gaby (though you really should be), you should definitely pick up this book.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“Never blame yourself for the physical failings of a man. Their infrastructure is designed for malfunction.”

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ARC Book Review: Genuine Fraud

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Synopsis:

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book at BookCon. 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 September 5, 2017.*

The only book I’d ever read by E. Lockhart was How to Be Bad, which she cowrote with two authors. I also didn’t enjoy it. However, I’ve heard mostly good things about We Were Liars so when I had the opportunity to snag an ARC of her newest novel and get it signed, I decided to go for it. Thankfully, I ended up really enjoying Genuine Fraud.

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The novel is told in the third person and follows Jule, but the chapters go backwards in time. I don’t want to spoil anything because half the fun of this novel is the mystery, so I won’t go too much into the plot. What I will say is I really enjoyed the twists in this novel and was kind of surprised by a lot of what happened. Additionally, I really liked the main character, Jule. She’s definitely an antihero who sometimes does bad things, but I still liked her anyway.

What I really loved about this story was learning more about Jule and her friendship with Imogen. Since the story works backwards, it was interesting to see how everything came to be at the beginning of the novel. Moreover, I really liked that while the novel answered most of my questions, I was still left with questions by the end of the story. Usually, I don’t like that kind of thing, but I really liked how it added to the mystery and left me still questioning what was true in Jule’s story and what was not.

Overall, I highly recommend buying this book when it’s released, because if you’re like me, you’re going to want to reread it from back to front once you’re done.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“[Jule] believed that the best way to avoid having your heart broken was to pretend you don’t have one.”

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Book Review: Big Little Lies

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Synopsis:

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal…
A murder…a tragic accident…or just parents behaving badly?  
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I’ve actually had an ARC copy of this novel since 2014, but it wasn’t until my book club decided to read it that I finally picked it up. I don’t know why I waited so long; it was so good!

The novel is told in the third person POV and follows Madeline, Celeste, and Jane, three moms whose kids are all starting kindergarten at the same school. At the start of the novel, you know someone ends up dead in two months at trivia night. At the start and end of the chapters there are other characters telling their own recollection of events, seemingly to the detectives investigating the case.

I loved those little snippets because they often differed from what really happened and they were also often funny and ridiculous. Moreover, I loved these characters. Madeline, Celeste, and Jane are all flawed but I loved them anyway, though Madeline was definitely my favorite and because of the show I pictured her as Reese Witherspoon, who I love.

Madeline loves conflict but can’t stand the fact that her daughter will be starting school with her ex’s daughter.To make matters worse, Madeline’s eldest daughter, Abigail, seems to be choosing her dad (Madeline’s ex) and his new wife, Bonnie, over Madeline and her new husband, Ed. Of course, Madeline can’t stand it.

Meanwhile, Celeste’s perfect life is anything but perfect, but how can she possibly tell anyone that? Besides, Celeste can’t help but feel like maybe her life isn’t all that bad and if she just sticks it out a little while longer, what’s the worst that can happen?

Jane moved to town looking for a fresh start but before her son, Ziggy, even begins school he’s painted as a violent bully and although Jane can’t believe it she also can’t help but wonder if it’s true.

I really liked Madeline, Celeste, and Jane’s friendship and I loved all the twists in the book (there were so many!). Though I suspected most of them, I was still pretty surprised to be right. I was also surprised by how dark this book was at times, but how it also made me laugh and smile a lot. I was happy with the ending and I highly recommend giving this book a read if you haven’t already. I can’t wait to watch the show!

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“Reading a novel was like returning to a once beloved holiday destination.”

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Book Review: The Hating Game

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Synopsis:

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.

                       2) A person’s undoing

                       3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I’d been hearing about this novel for a while and decided to finally give it a try when I needed a new audiobook for my run. Even after I finished running I couldn’t stop listening. I was totally hooked.

The story is told in Lucy’s point of view and she hates Josh, mainly because when they first met she gave him her best smile and he did not return it in the slightest. These two are polar opposites. While Lucy is tiny and aims to please everyone, Josh is tall, a little stand offish, and every one thinks he’s mean. It’s pretty easy to see why these two clash, especially since their desks face each other so they have to deal with each other often.

Their little childish antics in the office were cute and funny and the sparks between them were pretty obvious from the very beginning. The romance aspects of the novel were pretty steamy and Josh totally made me swoon. Moreover, I liked getting to learn more about Lucy and Josh’s personalities and why they are the way they are. The novel delves into both Lucy and Josh’s family lives and their pasts, which I found really interesting.

Besides the obvious romance, the main conflict of the novel was Lucy and Josh fighting for the same promotion. I was really happy with how it was resolved in the end because I wasn’t sure how it would be. Overall, I loved this book from beginning to end and highly recommend it if you’re looking for a quick and cute romance that will make you laugh.

I can’t wait to see what Sally Thorne writes next!

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“The trick is to find that one person who can give it back as good as they can take it.”

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ARC Book Review: Lucky in Love

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Synopsis:

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Scholastic via Edelweiss. 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 July 25, 2017.*

Kasie West has become my go to author for YA contemporary romance novels. Her books are always so cute, fun, and quick to read, and Lucky in Love was no exception. This novel is told in the first person point of view of Maddie, a high school senior who’s very focused on school. She’s so focused that she and her best friends, Blair and Elise, have a pact that they’re not allowed to date in high school.

Maddie believes nothing comes easy and you have to work hard for what you want, which is why she’s not interested in entering the lottery at first. However, when her friends bail on her birthday party Maddie decides to spend the rest of her money on a lottery ticket and surprisingly she actually wins.

Suddenly, her life goes from kind of boring to very exciting. Everyone wants to be her friend and every one wants her money. Her friends and family start acting differently and Maddie soon questions who she can and can’t trust. Except for Seth, her cute coworker at the zoo. Seth was grounded when the news of Maddie’s lottery win broke and rather than tell him about it, Maddie likes that there’s someone in her life who presumably doesn’t know about her lottery win, so she keeps it to herself.

My favorite part of this book was definitely Seth. First, I loved that he’s Vietnamese American. As far as I can tell this is the first time the love interest has been a person of color in West’s novels and I thought that was great, especially because Seth opened up to Maddie about what it’s like to be Asian in America. There were multiple points where he and Maddie had open conversations about race and I really liked that a lot because while it wasn’t the main topic of the book, West also didn’t shy away from it.

I also really liked Maddie as a character. Though I was frustrated that she wasn’t handling her new wealth very responsibly I also acknowledged the fact that she was 18 and truthfully she did win $50 million ($30 million once you take out the taxes). It wasn’t like she was actually going to use up all her money but it still stressed me out every time she bought something extravagant, especially because it was so out of character for her. Overall though, I was more upset with her parents for not stepping in when they saw how much she was spending.

That small frustration aside, I really enjoyed this novel. It was a quick read and I loved Seth from the moment he was first introduced. I highly recommend picking up Lucky in Love once it hits stores. It’s definitely worth a read.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“Magic cannot be explained. It can only be experienced.”

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Book Review: History Is All You Left Me

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Synopsis:

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I saw this book a lot on Instagram but the only reason I finally decided to give it a read was because I applied for a job at the publishing house that published this book. Anyway, I say this all to say while I may not have picked this one up on my own, I’m so glad I did because it was an incredible read.

The novel is told by Griffin but jumps between the present (Today), after his ex-boyfriend, Theo, died, and the past (History), which shows how Griffin’s relationship with Theo began and what led to their break-up. I really liked the shifting of perspective, especially because in the Today portions Griffin is talking to Theo in second person narration, which I found really interesting, whereas in History it was just your regular first person narration.

In the Today portions you really got to see how Griffin was such a mess of emotions. He was obviously sad, but also angry at Theo for dying, especially because Theo once made the impossible promise that he wouldn’t die. Additionally, the appearance of Jackson, Theo’s boyfriend at the time of his death, was so interesting as well. At first I didn’t know if I should like Jackson or not. I wanted to be on Griffin’s side and hate him on principal but that’s obviously not fair, especially because Jackson loved Theo too, which is something Griffin begrudgingly has to realize.

What I loved most about this novel was the level of mystery to it. In the Today portions, Griffin is kind of an unreliable narrator because he’s talking to Theo and there’s some things Griffin didn’t get to tell Theo before he died that he doesn’t know how to tell him now. I really liked that because this book was able to surprise me, especially in the last 100 pages. I loved the whole book but that back end literally made me put the book down and take a step back and just reevaluate everything I thought I knew. I honestly wanted to go back to the beginning right there and start rereading, but I wanted to know how it ended so I didn’t actually do that.

The point is, this book was really good. I loved the characters even though they were all far from perfect. I also liked seeing how Griffin dealt with his OCD compulsions (he likes thing in even numbers, he always has to be on someone’s left side, etc.) and how they related to his relationship with Theo. And I loved that Theo was this complicated character, even in death. It becomes clear Griffin’s love for Theo turned into Griffin putting Theo on this kind of pedestal, something Griffin has to learn for himself in the novel.

Honestly, if you haven’t read this book yet you definitely need to. It’s a great LGBTQ novel with some diversity that deals with grief in a way that’s heartbreaking but somehow also filled with laughs and swoonworthy moments. All in all, this is definitely at the top of my list for best books of 2017.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it, immediately!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“History remains with the people who will appreciate it most.”

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