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The Disappearances – Emily Bain Murphy

The Disappearances – Emily Bain MurphyTitle: The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
Publishing Info: July 4, 2017 by Hachette
Source: Subscription Box
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: October 16, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home--and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together--scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream--vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible--and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone's secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

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THE DISAPPEARANCES sounded quite interesting with touches of magical realism and intrigue, but I just never quite clicked with it. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was quite boring so I’m sure that didn’t help, but I just didn’t really connect with this book on many different levels.

I did like Aila’s personality but there was something about her that just didn’t quite fit in the story. The historical aspect of the book just seemed unnecessary to a certain extent, and that’s not to say that an author needs a reason to set a book in a specific time period but I wished there had been something more to establish exactly why this time period was special besides the kids’ father being shipped off to war.

This was the type of magical realism that stretched just a bit too far beyond reality and was in that weird in-between state that asked me to suspend reality a bit too much, for my personal tastes. It was interesting to think about the different disappearances and why they were happening, but I didn’t find the answer satisfactory and it felt a little too cheesy. Plus, the addition of the Variants sort of took away from the atmosphere of the book when it could have been darker and grittier. (I mean, that’s just what I was hoping for.) Despite this being more magical realism, I felt like the Variants delved a little too into fantasy and things got a little muddy as the book went on. I wasn’t sure how much was supposed to be magical and how much was supposed to be scientific. There’s no right or wrong answer to that but I just personally didn’t love how everything was handled.

All of the little world-building additions just didn’t click for me either. There were neat things like games, sports, and traditions that were woven in that were unique and captivating but they really took me out of the story more than they pulled me in. They were things I enjoyed experiencing but it didn’t feel like it kept with the tone of the novel, or maybe I was just looking for a tone that wasn’t quite there (as I often spoil things for myself in that regard).

THE DISAPPEARANCES wasn’t a bad book but it just wasn’t the style I was hoping for and it really didn’t pull me. About halfway through I actually considered not finishing because I wasn’t really interested but then things started to evolve and questions were getting answered so I stuck with it. I’m glad I finished it but it didn’t shine for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical, I guess? This wasn’t in a contemporary time period so it was interesting to have it set in another time… I wouldn’t say I loved that aspect but it did change the way I looked at things!
Left Me Wanting More: Intrigue. I wish some of the more interesting concepts had been introduced earlier on to spark some more interest. There was some time spent with things I didn’t care about and I wanted to get into more of what was happening and why.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

Some people really enjoyed this one, but writing this review so long after reading the book, I just remember being bored and not loving how the book was structured. I would personally say skip it but hey, it’s always worth looking into!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DISAPPEARANCES

             

The Light Between Worlds – Laura E. Weymouth

The Light Between Worlds – Laura E. WeymouthTitle: The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
Publishing Info: October 23, 2018 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Parallel Universe
Date Completed: August 19, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge.

When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves.

Now, Ev spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes.

Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was.

But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

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What a beautiful book this was! THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS wasn’t quite what I was expecting but it turned out to be even better. The focus was much more on the time after the fantasy world and how the three siblings had to deal with being back in the real world and it made for such an emotional story. I loved the characters and how real everything felt. The emotions really struck me and I connected with these characters so much.

The writing was positively gorgeous. It was a tad flowery at times which sort of took away from some of the beauty because it was so well-written that it didn’t need to be over the top. Those quiet moments and emotional connections did the work so the overly flowery passages weren’t necessary, but they still evoked emotion as well, even if they did become a bit distracting. I was easily swept away with this story and I had a hard time tearing myself out of this world.

I actually really appreciated that this book wasn’t so much about the fantasy world that these children found but about how it changed them and the people they became. It wasn’t about all of them needing the world and everyone took away something different from the experience. I loved the sibling connection and the other relationships in the book were positively perfect as well. Tom was easily the best character in the book and I loved him so much, and Philippa’s Jack made for a wonderful addition as well. It’s wonderful to see supporting characters doing just that — supporting the leads for exactly who they are, despite heartbreak, secrets, stubbornness, and all the other things.

I actually didn’t quite love the ending. It was quite fitting and I knew it was one of two possibilities but I still didn’t love it. It also leaves a lot of questions left unanswered (like what will happen after the closing chapter), but it’s also not necessary to address those questions because that would be another story entirely. I’m so glad I read this book and although it wasn’t what my heart told me I was in the mood for when I picked it up, it founds its place quite fittingly.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique books about portal worlds. I really liked that this focused on what happened to the kids after they returned from their alternate world. As much as I love seeing those unique worlds, it was really interesting to see the story about what happens after, pulling on all of those raw emotions.
Left Me Wanting More: Ease of reading. One of the only things that took away from my reading experience here was some of the more flowery passages. They were beautiful but I don’t think the book needed it and at times they became a bit distracting. I was more than happy with the rest of the narration!

Addiction Rating
Read it/Try it

I highly recommend this book BUT I know a few people didn’t love it as much because of their experience with reading the Narnia books, causing a comparison between the two. I never read the Narnia books so my experience with them is much more surface level. I didn’t have a comparison here and I was able to enjoy this book without a bias.

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BOOKS LIKE THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS

             

Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) – Kerri Maniscalco

Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: September 18, 2017 by Hachette, Little Brown, Jimmy Patterson
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction
Date Completed: June 4 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1), Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

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I’ve enjoyed all of the Stalking Jack the Ripper novels and ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI was no exception! It didn’t quite bowl me over the way the previous novels have but I always love a good murder mystery and the chemistry between Audrey Rose and Thomas is stellar, as always!

Let’s start with the awesome things. Audrey Rose always feels like such a real character. She’s strong, quick-witted, and she’s still human and makes typical mistakes that we’ve all mad. Sometimes it’s frustrating (and some things in the book did frustrate me more than I would have liked), but that’s all very true character-building. Thomas really comes more and more alive in each novel and I really felt like this was his best book yet. Where I’m normally drawn to Audrey Rose, Thomas really stole the show here and I was itching for more scenes with him front and center while Audrey Rose was off having carnival adventures! There was something that caused their chemistry to be shaken up here, which honestly, I didn’t love, but I did love how much more it connected me to Thomas and his emotions.

I noticed here were moments where I was having a hard time getting into the setting and putting myself in that place and I’m not sure why. It’s happened before (mostly in HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA) and I’m wondering if it’s maybe the historical element throwing me off since I don’t read or enjoy a lot of historical fiction. Usually it’s not an issue when a mystery or some sort of supernatural element but for some reason I just haven’t been as attached to settings like Bran Castle and here, the cruise ship. I had moments where I’d be into it and then moments where I just didn’t feel like things were clicking but I still can’t quite pinpoint why, even looking back. I think the settings are just so different from book to book that maybe I’m just missing the London/Whitechapel/original setting.

I do basically live for Audrey Rose and Thomas though. I have so much love for the chemistry between those two and I was saddened to see how a few things were handled here because you know I hate shaking up couples, depending on how it’s handled. I don’t want to say a lot more so I don’t spoil anything but I just really wanted more time with them together and the murder investigation be the only thing that really shook things up. I’m so curious to see how the final copy differs from the ARC! The ending was changed and now I need to know so I’ll have to decide whether I want to go reread the whole thing or peek at the last section! addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Historical murder mysteries. The historical aspect of a murder mystery really makes things interesting! I love the lack of technology and how much the characters have to rely on investigative skills. Left Me Wanting More: Couple time. I was really saddened to witness a few of Audrey Rose’s choices. I guess I can understand how a mysterious stranger is alluring but she also doesn’t seem like she should be manipulated so easily, especially at the expense of Thomas.

Addiction Rating Read it!

I do enjoy this series so much and I’m a big fan! This wasn’t my favorite book of the series but was still very enjoyable. I’m hoping with this obstacle out of the way, we get back to some major swoons again!

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BOOKS LIKE ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI

              

Mini-Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) – William Ritter

Mini-Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) – William RitterTitle: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: August 22, 2017 by Algonquin
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 29, 2017
Related Posts: , Jackaby (Jackaby #1), Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2), Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3)

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

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For some reason, this was the least engaging book of the series for me and I felt a little bogged down and that things were going slowly in the middle. It’s entirely possible that it was because I essentially binge-read the first three books, but that was also only earlier this year and it’s not like there had been THAT much time in between reads. I had a hard time picking the book back up because I felt like it wasn’t really progressing for a while, but I also know that’s my lack of reading time that really hurt my reading pace as well.

I also know that I have a tendency to get overwhelmed when so many supernatural creatures are introduced at once because it always feels like overkill to have them all present at the same time, and that was a big part of THE DIRE KING. Things come to a grand conclusion so everyone an everything are involved and it sort of loses that magic for me when so many creatures are present.

I did absolutely love the ending! There was the perfect amount of bittersweet that every series finale should have. Things were wrapped up nicely, concepts exchanged hands, not everyone was perfectly okay, and it presented a new life for the characters after the events of this series wrapped up. I thought that was handled beautifully!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Paranormal but historical. This whole series was a lot of fun! I loved the historical meets paranormal and it was great fun to read.
Left Me Wanting More: Grounding. I just felt like everything was rushing to a conclusion and it was all a bit much sometimes. It didn’t really feel like a natural flow and it seemed like ALL of the supernatural concepts were thrown in at once.

Addiction Rating
Read it

The actual ending itself is super solid — one of the best wrap-ups, I think — but I just wish I had felt the same about the rest of the book. Still worth the read if you’re already three books in!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DIRE KING

          

Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) – Kerri Maniscalco

Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: July 11, 2017 by Hachette, Jimmy Patterson
Source: ALAAC17, Author
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 8, 2017
Related Posts: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1), Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)

In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller 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

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Kerri Maniscalso has done it again. HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA is just as fantastic as STALKING JACK THE RIPPER with a whole new exciting and yet horrific tale (and I mean that in the best possible way). I loved that HPD was a sequel to STALKING JACK THE RIPPER but it develops its own mystery and its own story line. The series continues with main characters Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell, so readers get to continue reading about their relationship, their work together, and their adventures along the way, but there’s no panic to think about the time that naturally occurs between each new book release because each case wraps up neatly! Although I will say that I’ll still panic a little bit since I read this book so long before its own release in the fall (I finished in May) and now I need to wait probably over a year for book three when I want to read it nowwwww. *ahem*

My only complaint about my experience with HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA is that life got in the way and I didn’t have enough time to just sit down and inhale it, as much as I wanted to. *grumbles things about responsibilities* Just like SJTR, I had so much fun reading this book from start to finish. I love the gothic horror elements, the pieces of true history combined with amazing adaptations and embellishments for the books, and most of all, the excellent banter between Audrey Rose and Thomas. Their relationship is fantastic in every possible way.

The suspense was constant and I loved the way that Kerri Maniscalco continuously shifted focus, as is natural in a mystery. When murders are occurring, it’s natural to be suspicious about everything and everyone and I always am as a reader so it was great to see how the focus tended to shift throughout the book as Audrey Rose and Thomas gathered up more clues. It kept me guessing as a reader and left some excellent surprises in the end! Looking back, I probably should have picked up on a few things but I’m actually glad that I wasn’t even thinking in that direction because the reveal was MOST EXCELLENT and the dark part of my heart totally flipped. out. a certain reveal point!

Kerri Maniscalco’s books are stunningly sensory with great visuals for the reader to picture, wonderful atmosphere, and delightful descriptions that really appeal to every sense. It was so easy to get lost in the castles and forests of Romania in a totally different time period despite knowing little to nothing about either the time or the place. The light tone from the banter amongst the characters really brings a great levity to a horror story that I always appreciate and it breaks some of the more serious moments to allow readers to enjoy some of that character development. The balance of dark and light is truly perfected within these pages and to quote the book, “I am wholly bewitched.”

I cannot wait for the third installment and I will be thinking about it until it’s finally revealed what the third book will be about!!

** I received a copy of HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA from the author, Kerri Maniscalco, for review purposes and to assist in the creation of new candles inspired by the book. The fact that I received this copy to read from the author in no way affected my review, feedback, or the fact that I have the mighty need to be endlessly book-pushing and recommending. **

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Kept Me Hooked On: Horror. I’m loving the historical horror and the blend of myth and history. These books are SO much fun and really make you feel like you’re a part of the action!
Left Me Wanting More: Audrey Rose & Thomas. UGH these two. They’re just the best. I love the tension, the banter, the support, the back-and-forth. It’s all great.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

Kerri Maniscalco is wonderful and I simply adore her books. They’re fun, clever, thrilling, and romantic.

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BOOKS LIKE HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    GRAVE MERCY

The Crown’s Fate (The Crown’s Game #2) – Evelyn Skye

The Crown’s Fate (The Crown’s Game #2) – Evelyn SkyeTitle: The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game #2) by Evelyn Skye
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 23, 2017
Related Posts: The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1)

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

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** Warning: This review DOES contain spoilers for the book! I will be talking about specifics! ** 

THE CROWN’S GAME was one of my favorite reads of 2016 and I absolutely loved how much it reminded me of THE NIGHT CIRCUS in so many ways (which I actually just finished re-reading and it cemented this feeling even more)! Naturally, I was very excited to read THE CROWN’S FATE and it was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! It’s always so hard when I have an most-anticipate read coming up because I tend to hype the book up for myself so it was an interesting experience reading THE CROWN’S FATE!

There’s no way I can talk about this book without specific spoilers, so first I’ll talk about some non-spoilery things! I loved that this world felt the same! There are some times with sequels that it feels like a totally different book but I was able to fall back into this world right where I left off.
The world where we left it after THE CROWN’S GAME was much more political and while I don’t mind that, I did miss some of that fun and a “challenge” aspect of THE CROWN’S GAME itself (the game, not the book) because it was a fun structure and involved some creativity on the characters’ parts to explore their abilities.
And I still love Pasha. He was very different in this book because of all the political ramifications and situations that he had to deal with so he just wasn’t as much fun but I still loved his spirit.

Okay, so here are the spoilers. While the world felt the same, why why whyyyyy did we have to have Nikolai turn bad?! Nikolai was too pure and sweet and precious and he was my favorite part of the whole darn book, so I was SO SAD to see that his character was essentially removed from the story line since his whole personality changed. I know it was because of REASONS, yes, but still. My favorite part of this story was changed and to boot, that affected the romance too which I wanted to see developed even MORE but that got put on hold because “bad” Nikolai, of course, wasn’t pursuing romance. SIGH. The book was still enjoyable but this changed so many things and took away those little nuances that really had me enjoying the series so much!

I also just wanted more magic…? The magic involved in this book was kind of dark, which is cool, I can appreciate dark magic… But I missed that sparring between Vika and Nikolai so much. I guess I’m just tired of everything ending in war or battles (which is silly considering that this series is also kiiiiind of historical fiction, with magic) so I didn’t really want to see things come to that. I just really loved the structure of the Game itself, which encouraged the enchanters to grow and explore their powers and THE CROWN’S FATE was more of a desperate battle for power or to stop that power, so it lost that magic and that spark that I loved so much. I didn’t feel as enchanted, no pun intended.

I DID appreciate that things didn’t turn out too sunshine-y though. I actually liked what happened to Vika in the end, actually. There has to be something in the events of war because no one comes out wholly unscathed and it’s a great shock to readers when something happens to a main character, even if it’s not a death. I applaud Evelyn Skye for taking it there like so many other authors have avoided. I know it’s hard to have something difficult happen to your characters without a way to “save” them but these things need to be done to keep things realistic or at least not a cheesy happy ending.

When it comes down to it, this was not the ending I was expecting or hoping for the series but I also appreciated how it wrapped up. I think I just wanted more romance and more Nikolai. Always more Nikolai.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical fiction meets magic. I never used to enjoy history or historical fiction so I’ve really been appreciating books that combine it with magical elements! It’s kind of a way for me to catch up on some historical events or at least feelings, even if they are fictionalized and combined with other things.
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. I don’t always need romance in a book but I was so delighted by the relationship between Vika and Nikolai in the first book and things were heading in a great direction… until the end. But then they didn’t really continue in this book!! I almost feel like THE CROWN’S GAME should have been a stand alone in many ways, but maybe that’s just because I didn’t totally love the finale here.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you loved THE CROWN’S GAME, it’s definitely still worth the read! It was different than what I was expecting and I would have loved just a bit more but I also did appreciate so many things still!

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BOOKS LIKE THE CROWN’S GAME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    GRAVE MERCY

Blog Tour: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton | Book Scents + Giveaway!

Blog Tour: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton | Book Scents + Giveaway!

Welcome to the blog tour for
Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton!

I’m so excited to share today’s blog post which is my blog tour stop for TRAITOR TO THE THRONE by Alwyn Hamilton! Thanks to the amazing team at Penguin Random House for having me be a part of the tour and share some of my favorite parts of any book… the scents! Being a candle-maker, I’m obsessed with the different scents described in books and there were a few lovely aromas in TRAITOR TO THE THRONE that caught my eye. On today’s stop, I’m sharing some of those and have a special candle giveaway too!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton | Book Scents + Giveaway!Title: Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) by Alwyn Hamilton
Publishing Info: March 7, 2017 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 17, 2017
Related Posts: Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1), Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2)

The sizzling, un-put-downable sequel to the bestselling Rebel of the Sands!

Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al'Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she's fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan's palace—she's determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan's secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she's a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she's been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.
Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.


ABOUT ALWYN HAMILTON

Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and spent her childhood bouncing between Europe and Canada until her parents settled in France. She grew up in a small town there, which might have compelled her to burst randomly into the opening song from Beauty and the Beast were it not for her total tone-deafness. She instead attempted to read and write her way to new places and developed a weakness for fantasy and cross-dressing heroines. She left France for Cambridge University to study History of Art at King’s College, and then to London where she became indentured to an auction house. She has a bad habit of acquiring more hardcovers than is smart for someone who moves house quite so often. Follow her at @AlwynFJH.

BOOK SCENTS: TRAITOR TO THE THRONE

Ever since I started making candles, I’ve been so much more in tune with the sensory notes in the books that I read. I feel like aromas in a book are easily skipped over and forgotten once a reader has finished because noticing and committing a smell to memory is such a unique experience that it’s harder hang onto if you haven’t experienced it first hand. I know at least for me, when a book draws on a familiar smell, I’m instantly hit with memories and nostalgia that have the potential to tie me to a book more than any other scenic description so I feel like those smells that add to the atmosphere are not to be overlooked!

Drawing upon my newly heightened awareness, I’ve started keeping tracking of specific scents described in book and how they really paint an even more vivid picture for a reader! Today on Book Scents, I’m sharing some of my favorite aromas from THE VALIANT! They immediately had me thinking back on what fragrances I would use to mimic each experience and I’ve included each one below. (Now how do we make these posts scratch and sniff?)

I knew which tents were slightly lopsided, and what the birds sounded like in late afternoon from the bathing pools, an that the smell of fresh-baked bread meant Lubna was on cooking duty for the day.

Inspiration: The rebel camp
Fragrances: Freshly-baked bread, outdoors, fresh air

Even down in Dustwalk, we’d heard stories about the celebrations. Of fountains full of water flecked with gold, dancers who leapt through fire as entertainment, and food made of sugar that was sculpted so fine the folks who made it went blind. 

Inspiration: Aureanzeb celebrations
Fragrances: Rain water, fire, sugar

I felt steam in the air before we’d gone much faster, the cloying scent of flowers and spices already winding their way to my body.

Inspiration: The harem
Fragrances: Jasmine, gardenia, spice market, cinnamon, sandalwood

There were a hundred more gardens that bloomed so thick with flowers I could barely get the doors open, or where music speed to drift through the walls along with a breeze that smelled of sale and bright air.

Inspiration: The harem
Fragrances: Sea mist, ocean, jasmine, fresh air

He smelled of mint mostly, but there was an undercurrent of desert dust and gunpowder when he kissed me that made me desperately homesick.

Inspiration: Jin
Fragrances: Earthy mint, fire & smoke, outdoors, sandalwood

So what do you think?! Which scents do you think are the strongest sensory inspirations? Which are your favorites?


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops for TRAITOR TO THE THRONE!

Week One:
3/6 – The YA Book Traveler – Mood Board
3/7 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Q&A
3/8 – Love is Not a Triangle – Review
3/9 – Mundie Moms – Review + Favorite Quotes
3/10 – Butter My Books – Guest Post
Week Two:
3/13 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Guest Post
3/14 – The Eater of Books! – Favorite Quotes
3/15 – Two Chicks on Books – Author Q&A
3/16 – Lost in Lit – Review
3/17 – My Friends Are Fiction – Review
Week Three:
3/20 – The Yong Folks – Author Q&A
3/21 – The Book Addict’s Guide – Traitor Candle
3/22 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Review
3/23 – Bookworm Everlasting – Review
3/24 – Fiction Fare – Guest Post

GIVEAWAY

There are TWO exciting giveaways for my stop on the blog tour today! The first is through Penguin for a chance to win a copy of the book! See rules and details below and enter the first Rafflecopter form for you chance to win!

Enter for a chance to win one (1) grand prize set of Alwyn Hamilton’s books, including a paperback copy of Rebel of the Sands and a hardcover of Traitor to the Throne, or to win one (1) of five (5) paperback copies of Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (ARV: $10.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 6, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 27, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 29, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The second giveaway is my own personal contribution to this blog tour stop because I turned one of these book scents into a TRAITOR-inspired candle! The candle giveaway is for one 8oz tin called “Desert Kisses”, inspired by Jin, with scents of mint, gunpowder, and sand. Open to US entries only. Must be 13 years of age or older to win. Candle giveaway open from 3/21/17 through 3/28/17. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William Ritter

Well, I had the best intentions of binge-reading this series but alas. I found out that it was actually a four-book series and not a trilogy, so today’s series review will have to be for the first three books and then when the fourth one comes out, that’ll be on its own.

SERIES REVIEW: JACKABY, BEASTLY BONES, GHOSTLY ECHOES

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William RitterTitle: Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: September 16, 2014 by Algonquin
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 1, 2017
Related Posts: The Dire King (Jackaby #4)

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.
Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

I wasn’t totally sure what JACKABY was all about but I was excited to start it! I actually hadn’t known that it involved paranormal elements so that was an interesting surprise when I started reading! (Yes, yes, I know that’s what the whole series is about and it’s plain as day in the book descriptions but you know me and going in totally blind.) I actually thought JACKABY was straight historical fiction, like a YA Sherlock Holmes. I was also interested to find out that Jackaby himself wasn’t a young adult, and I thought that was great to have an adult character as a main part of the book since so many YA books skip around older figures and stick with the teens. It brought an interesting dynamic and mix and also allowed Abigail to get involved in so many things that she may not normally have had access to. That’s always my thing with YA mysteries — a big question that always has to be addressed is why a teen wouldn’t go to an adult with a murder-mystery case and in JACKABY, Abigail is working for paranormal detective R.F. Jackaby.

I also figured that there would be a romance between Jackaby (this was before I knew how much older he was) and Abigail and I’m really glad that there wasn’t! It was nice to see the romance built with Abigail and more of a secondary character and that it was a side plot and not a main focus of the book. The quirky mysteries still took the spotlight and there wasn’t any mixing of work and romance. I actually didn’t really care for the romance, though. I thought it wasn’t very developed in the first book, which it didn’t have to be developed right away, but for some reason it felt fast and forced for me.

JACKABY wasn’t a perfect book but it was really enjoyable! Things kind of piled on with the paranormal but it was fun and not overwhelming as some books tend to feel when dealing with so many different para-creatures.

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William RitterTitle: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: September 22, 2015 by Algonquin
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 21, 2017
Related Posts: The Dire King (Jackaby #4)

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 started BEASTLY BONES right after I finished JACKABY because the first book was just so enjoyable and a breeze to read! I thought BEASTLY BONES stepped it up even more and that William Ritter’s writing really improved, not that I thought JACKABY was lacking, but it felt more mature and more put-together.

I loved the fantastical element in this book and I won’t give it away because it was a super fun reveal for me but it was a creature that I was so excited to see, and even that had a turn of its own. The characters handle the situation adeptly, as always, and the mystery was a hoot!

One thing I actually didn’t like was the appearance of some secondary characters that were immediately eliminated in this book. They had such a heavy focus in BEASTLY BONES and it kind of felt like a waste to get to know them for such a short time only to never see them again. There was also a bit of repetition of terms and words in this book that I started to notice a lot (I didn’t need to read “indomitable” 20 times) so that was a little frustrating but I thought the mystery was even more exciting than the first book and it took a different turn as well!

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William RitterTitle: Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: August 23, 2016 by Algonquin
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 25, 2017
Related Posts: The Dire King (Jackaby #4)

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.
Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

GHOSTLY ECHOES was a bit different all together with one of the main characters being involved in the mystery instead of someone from the outside. I really loved how much more personal the mystery became — to Jackaby and Abigail as well as the reader — and where the whole series went! Things really escalated in this book and I really appreciated how so many things came full circle here.

The friendships in this book were stepped up even more and I love how much tighter this group got! The different elements in this mystery were also top notch and I think this was my favorite book of the series!

SERIES THOUGHTS

 

This series is fun, easy to read, and seems to be getting better with each book! I still am missing that big “wow” factor that would shoot it up to five stars but these are all so solid and really entertaining.

I think William Ritter does a great job bringing all of the plot together, especially in GHOSTLY ECHOES, and it was also nice to have an overall plot but mysteries that were solved at the end of each book so I didn’t have to jump back into a world where I forgot everything that had happened, as with so many series. (Although I did binge read these so that wasn’t a huge issue anyway.)

I do feel like I could do without Abigail’s romance. I personally have never connected to it and it still feels forced to me. I actually feel like Abigail would be a stronger character without it, or she needs a more spirited companion. She’s so spunky and I would love to see her banter with someone instead of becoming softer and more gentle, although I guess she does have a different sort of banter with Jackaby. Still, I love that romantic banter and teasing.

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

This is a really solid series and each book seems to get better! The paranormal and fantasy aspects are so much fun and the two main characters (Jackaby and Abigail) are really solid.

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BOOKS LIKE JACKABY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Blog Tour: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston | Book Scents + Giveaway!

Blog Tour: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston | Book Scents + Giveaway!

Welcome to the blog tour for
The Valiant by Lesley Livingston!

I’m so excited to share today’s blog post which is my blog your stop for THE VALIANT by Lesley Livingston! Thanks to the amazing team at Penguin Random House for having me be a part of the tour and share some of my favorite parts of any book… the scents! Being a candle-maker, I’m obsessed with the different scents described in books and there were a few lovely aromas in THE VALIANT that caught my eye. On today’s stop, I’m sharing some of those and have a special candle giveaway too!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston | Book Scents + Giveaway!Title: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Publishing Info: February 14, 2017 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 18, 2017
Related Posts: The Valiant (The Valiant #1)

Princess. Captive. Gladiator.
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.
When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.
Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.
Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.


ABOUT LESLEY LIVINGSTON

Lesley Livingston is the author of Once Every Never, winner of the inaugural Copper Cylinder Award and shortlisted for the CLA Young Adult Book Award and the BC Stellar Book Award. She is also the author of the Wondrous Strange and Starling trilogies. She lives in Toronto. 

BOOK SCENTS: THE VALIANT

Ever since I started making candles, I’ve been so much more in tune with the sensory notes in the books that I read. I feel like aromas in a book are easily skipped over and forgotten once a reader has finished because noticing and committing a smell to memory is such a unique experience that it’s harder hang onto if you haven’t experienced it first hand. I know at least for me, when a book draws on a familiar smell, I’m instantly hit with memories and nostalgia that have the potential to tie me to a book more than any other scenic description so I feel like those smells that add to the atmosphere are not to be overlooked!

Drawing upon my newly heightened awareness, I’ve started keeping tracking of specific scents described in book and how they really paint an even more vivid picture for a reader! Today on Book Scents, I’m sharing some of my favorite aromas from THE VALIANT! They immediately had me thinking back on what fragrances I would use to mimic each experience and I’ve included each one below. (Now how do we make these posts scratch and sniff?)

 

“Now. Into the cold pool and scrub off as much of that travel muck as you can. Gruoch will be back to assist you once she’s disposed of those rags. You’ve probably both got fleas so use the sopa — it’s got rosemary and lavender to kill the little buggers — and lather it through your hair. Thoroughly. More than once. And don’t dawdle.”

Inspiration: Roman baths
Fragrances: Lavender, rosemary, clean soap smells

When I got to the practice yard, I saw it had been decorated for the occasion. Garlands of green leaves and sheaves of lavender and lemon verbena hung between the pillars of the courtyard colonnades, perfuming the night air with heady scents that mingled with the smoke from the braziers.

Inspiration: Huntress Moon Oath
Fragrances: Lemon verbena, lavender, greenery, smoke

With the door to the hallway open, the subtle perfume of lilacs on the window sill was displaced by a heavier, cloying haze of incense.

Inspiration: House of Venus
Fragrances: Lilac, musk, cloves

So what do you think?! Which scents do you think are the strongest sensory inspirations? Which are your favorites?


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops for THE VALIANT!

Week One
2/13 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Gladiator Makeup
2/14 – Two Chicks on Books – Author Interview
2/15 – Alexa Loves Books – Weapon Spotlight: Bow & Arrow
2/16 – Novel Novice – Review
2/17 – Arctic Books – Review + Book Look
Week Two
2/20 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Author Guest Post
2/21 – What Sarah Read – Review + Mood Board
2/22 – Mundie Moms – Weapon Spotlight: Shield
2/23 – ButterMyBooks – Author Interview
2/24 – Fiction Fare – Weapon Spotlight: Dimachaerus
Week Three
2/27 – Oh the Book Feels – Author Interview
2/28 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Weapon Spotlight: Gladius
3/1 – No More Grumpy Bookseller – Review
3/2 – The YA Book Traveler – Weapon Spotlight: Trident & Net
3/3 – My Friends Are Fiction – Author Guest Post
Week Four
3/6 – The Reading Nook Reviews – Weapon Spotlight: Spear
3/7 – A Page with a View – Like/Try/Why
3/8 – The Young Folks – Author Guest Post
3/9 – Icey Books – Quote Candy + Review
3/10 – Book Addict’s Guide – Bookish Scents

GIVEAWAY

There are TWO exciting giveaways for my stop on the blog tour today! The first is through Penguin for a chance to win a copy of the book! See rules and details below and enter the first Rafflecopter form for you chance to win!

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (ARV: $17.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on February 13, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 13, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 15, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The second giveaway is my own personal contribution to this blog tour stop because I turned one of these book scents into a VALIANT-inspired candle! The candle giveaway is for one 8oz tin of “Huntress Moon Oath” with scents of lemon verbena, lavender, fern, and smoke. Open to US entries only. Must be 13 years of age or older to win. Candle giveaway open from 3/10/17 through 3/17/17. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

The Valiant Candle

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) – Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by Hachette
Source: BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 4, 2016
Related Posts: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2), Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)

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.

bookreview1

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER was such a fun read for me! I was in the mood for something delightfully dark and yet not too scary (since I’m a total chicken) and this was the perfect blend of history, mystery, and gore. Kerri Maniscalco brings the story of Jack the Ripper to life in this book with some real-life facts (including photos of actual items/evidence from the original Ripper cases) and blends them with some historical fiction to create an overall wonderful read.

The characters in this book are just excellent. I love main character Audrey Rose for so many reasons. She’s intelligent, independent, and generally doesn’t care what society thinks. She tries to do right by her family, especially after the death of her mother several years ago, but her father highly disapproves of her favorite hobby — apprenticing with her uncle in his laboratory and studying forensics. I personally love it! I loved the darkness and gruesomeness of Audrey Rose’s passion but I also loved how well it ties into the Jack the Ripper case. Audrey Rose becomes so invested in the case that she ends up often taking things into her own hands which is where another favorite character of mine, Thomas Cresswell, comes in.

Ah, Thomas Cresswell. He’s also an intellectual type but where Audrey Rose follows up with passion, Cresswell comes in with reasoning and cold logic. He’s a tough shell to crack and I loved trying to figure him out throughout the book! There were times when I loved him, times when I feared him, times when I was suspicious of him, and times when I couldn’t get enough of him! I really enjoyed the partnership he had going on with Audrey Rose and I cannot wait to see more of them working together in the second book!

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but I’ve had some really good luck with historical aspects and true facts being adapted to fiction novels lately, and this falls into that category! I really enjoyed reading the afterword from Kerri Maniscalco about the actual facts of Jack the Ripper and pieces of the case and how she adapted them to the book. It’s neat to see real pieces of a mystery incorporated into this exciting adaptation!

I also loved how the identity of Jack the Ripper really kept me guessing throughout the book! I had several suspicions which waxed and waned throughout my read and the ending was so exciting!!! I was so hooked waiting to see how this all wrapped up and it beautifully set up the next book (for which I cannot wait)! The reveals were just great and perfectly timed and there were some really exciting and stunning moments!! I just really enjoyed STALKING JACK THE RIPPER from start to finish and I can’t wait for the next book.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction – and reading extra notes! I don’t read a ton of historical fiction but when I do, I’ve been enjoying reading the extra notes from the authors — what was true, what was bent to fit the story, and what could have possibly happened. I’m really loving the true history belnded with fiction!
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. Okay, I actually really appreciated that swoons that I had weren’t rushed and were delightfully gradual (which also killed me a little) because it has me even more excited for future books! I’m just being greedy!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I really, really enjoyed this book and Kerri Maniscalco is just a lovely person. I’ve had so much fun flailing and reading and speculating and I can’t wait to continue this series when the next book comes out!

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BOOKS LIKE STALKING JACK THE RIPPER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    this dark endeavor