Hunting Prince Dracula Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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“The world is neither kind nor is it cruel. It simply exists. We have the ability to view it however we choose.” 

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Publisher: September 19th 2017 by Little, Brown & Company

Pages: 434

Rating: 5/5

HOLY CANNOLI! I think it’s safe to say that I loved the second book even more than the first! It’s honestly something that rarely happens with most series since some of them fall into the “Second Book Syndrome,” but I am so happy that this book did not! As with the previous book, I did not see that ending coming! JUST WOW! 🙂

Please note the summary/review below may have spoilers from the first book, Stalking Jack the Ripper

Summary (From GoodReads):

In this New York Times bestselling sequel to Kerri Maniscalco’s haunting #1 debut Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

Characters

Audrey Rose Wadsworth – I definitely liked Audrey a lot more in this book! Although she was a strong character in the first novel, I felt that her character was more relatable in the second. She is going though the aftermaths of her days in London and the Ripper murders and even with this period of grief, she still is a formidable force and has so much strength.

“Please do not make the mistake of telling me what’s best for me, as if you are the sole authority on the subject.” 

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Thomas Cresswell – Excuse me, but where can I find this man? Like I must know. Right now! I love how the author provided us more depths to his character. His flaws make him seem more human and also gives us more reason to adore him! Besides his charm and kindness, he also has level of maturity which is a quality I greatly admire. There were so many quotes from him in this book where I had to take a moment and be like . . . wow that was deep! But usually he is a devilish flirt LOL

“Try not to miss me too much Wadsworth. Though that might be an impossible task. I, for one, miss myself terribly when asleep.” 

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Final Thoughts

While Stalking Jack the Ripper takes place in Victorian Era London, Hunting Prince Dracula is set in Romania. Similar to the first book, the author does a phenomenal job creating the vast and gorgeous scenery of the Romanian landscape and it does feel that you are within the country. She is very skilled in capturing the exquisite details to make the setting very realistic and I loved venturing into these new lands and learning more about the culture.

Audrey’s character development  was done quite well in this book. Although it wasn’t anything too dynamic, we do see her struggle with the aftermath of the previous novel and fight to regain her strength to overcome her demons. Although she is filled with such turmoil, what makes her more interesting to read about is her endearing personality and her passion for what she does and wants to achieve. We also given more insight into Thomas’s background and I appreciated that we were able to see the different layers of his character.

The overall pacing of the novel was well done in my opinion. From the very beginning, it was very gripping and as a reader, you knew you were in for a wild ride! The writing was beautiful as well. It captured the Romanian scenery, the ambiance of the horrific murders, the tension between the students at the Academy and terrifying moments of the investigations. In addition, the quotes in this book are worth recognition! Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the artistry in this piece of literature:

“Monsters could wear the smiles of friends while secreting away the rotten soul of the Devil in the darkest crevices of themselves.” (pg. 287) 

“Monsters are only real as the stories that grant them life. And they only live for long as we tell those tales.” (pg. 132)

“No matter how much death and horror existed, there were still things of beauty to find.” (pg. 407)

JUST STUNNING.

Overall, I LOVED this sequel to Stalking Jack the Ripper and I would definitely recommend this series if you enjoy reading books with sassy characters, hilarious banter, gripping and mysterious plot and beautiful writing!

Have any of you read this series yet? What were your thoughts on it?

Until next time keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post! (Hopefully, that would be soon since I am still recovering from the BTS performance and 2 wins on the Billboard Awards last night. DAYUUMMMM )

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Girls with Sharp Sticks ARC Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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Author: Suzanne Young

Publication: March 19th 2019 by Simon Pulse

Pages: 400

Rating: 3.5/5

GoodReads

Thank you very much to Netgalley and the publisher for the free advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

When I first began to read a few pages of this book, I will admit that I wasn’t as hooked. It was probably due to the typical YA dystopian aura I felt from earlier books that it did not grasp me. However, it was not until the 80 page mark when I noticed a more mysterious and thrilling atmosphere looming within the pages. I grew curious and that made me more invested into wanting to complete the book. It wasn’t long before I found myself flying though the pages wanting to know what happens next. If you are a fan of dystopian/thriller novels, then I think this one is the book for you!

Summary:

The Innovations Academy prioritizes in providing the studies and activities for the girl students to be the best in society. However their curriculum is quite different from those offered today. Some of which include courses such as  “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The main purpose is to ensure that the girls grow to be obedient young ladies – something that Mena and her friends realize is part of a darker scheme within the school. Together they hope to uncover the secrets of the school, their background and the purpose of their studies there no matter how ugly the truth may be. 

My Review:

Setting : Who doesn’t love a boarding school setting? Especially if it incorporates a thrilling atmosphere such as this one? While it is quite obvious from the first few pages that the Academy is not your typical High School, it still peaks your interests with the strange behaviors of the students and faculty.

“The roses. . . They’re alive, you know. All . of them. And if you listen closely enough, you can hear their shared roots. Their common purpose. They’re beautiful, but it’s not all they are.” 

Plot: I believe the main issue for me was the story line. Maybe it was because I read a lot of dystopians before but it felt a bit similar especially in the beginning. However, over time I noticed the story changing and when the elements of thrill were thrown into the mix, that was when I became invested into the story. I will admit there were moments which made my skin crawl! I didn’t expect that going into this book. And the amount of plot twists in this book too! These were the moments which the author handled very well since she cleverly weaves the threads of suspense and danger into the book where the readers would have no choice but be glued to the pages!

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Characters: We follow the perspective of Mena who in the beginning we see her venture through her school life one day at a time, but a sequence of events has her questioning the origins of the Academy and because of her experiences, she grows to be very dynamic. I really liked her as a character since she truly cares for the other girls around her and develops an intense bravery despite the odds. We also see her with her close friends, Sydney, Brynn, Marcella, Annalise, Valentine, and Lennon Rose. We also have a side character by the name of Jackson who is the romantic interest; however, it was not over bearing and it did not overshadow the main plot.

Themes: Definitely do not let the Girls Private School setting fool you! While some may expect to find a lot of toxic jealousy, I was so surprised to see the amount of female friendship in this novel and it was truly one of the aspects that made it a delightful read. The feminism in this book is worth noting and I love the spin the author took on this subject and I am sure it is something that the readers will find intriguing.

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Overall, I did find this to be a quick easy read and it is definitely something to get you out of a reading slump for sure!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all in my next bookish post!

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Stalking Jack the Ripper Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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“Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.” 

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Publication: September 20th 2016 by Jimmy Patterson

Pages: 337

Genre: Fiction; YA; Mystery

Rating: 4/5

Summary:

Audrey Rose Wadsworth is not like many women her age – organizing tea parties, attending silk dress fittings, or jumping in on the latest gossip. Instead, she lives a secret life unbeknownst to her father as an apprentice to her Uncle, a professor of forensic medicine. Amidst her dissection studies, she stumbles upon an investigation of a notorious serial killer who rampaged the streets of London. Despite the brutality of the murders, Audrey’s curiosity and tenacity pushes her to search for answers and reclaim justice for the victims. But as she gets closer to unraveling the clues, it leads her to the most blood chilling conclusion.

Characters: 

Audrey Rose WadsworthSmart, Witty, Kind, Fearless – Its official. Audrey has fallen into my top favorite female leads of all times 🙂  She has such a great combination of strength, tenacity and intelligence which makes you want to root for her throughout the novel. Despite these esteemed qualities, she does have her weaknesses too and that showcase her to be more relatable as a character. Nevertheless, I loved her curiosity and her passion for forensic science and it was so refreshing to see her fight for women given the time period that the novel is set in.

“By my blood, I will make this right or die trying.” 

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Thomas CreswellCharming, Witty, Arrogant – Oh Lord. This guy haha A close representation of Thomas’ character would probably be Captain Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles whom I adored from the start and Thomas was no different. I swear, the amount of eye rolls and laughter I experienced whenever he would comment with a sly and witty demeanor is exponential 🙂 And when paired with a feisty heroine with sass of her own, you get the most entertaining banter ever! I loved it!

“I don’t blame you, I am rather attractive. The tall, dark hero of your dreams, swooping in to save you with my vast intellect. You should accept my hand at once.” 

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Final Thoughts: 

After finishing Truly Devious, I was in the mood for some more mystery novels and this one immediately caught my attention. Everything about the premise was so interesting and I am happy to say that the author delivered an awesome story! One aspect of the novel which I really enjoyed was the setting. The late 1800s London was very well delineated and I honestly felt as if I was walking through the streets with these characters. It was also refreshing to read about a heroine who is from a mixed background – half Indian and half British. It’s not so often I come across characters who I can relate to! And I loved the bits of Indian heritage that the author had woven into the story but I would have definitely liked to have seen more of it.

In addition, the author does a fabulous job setting the tone for the novel, creating an eerie yet mysterious atmosphere which entangles you into the story. I will say that there were certain parts of the novel which completely creeped me out! But if you are a fan of forensics and criminal investigations, then I would definitely recommend this book to you!

Have any of you read Stalking Jack the Ripper? What were your thoughts on it?

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all with another bookish post!

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Truly Devious Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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Schools may be famous for many things: academics, graduates, sports teams. They are not supposed to be famous for murders.

Author: Maureen Johnson

Publication: January 16th 2018 by HarperCollins

Pages: 416

Rating: 5/5

One of my reading goals for 2019 is to read novels of various genres and I am so excited that I picked up this one! Truly Devious completely strays away from the typical fantasy novels I usually reach for and it definitely surprised me!

Summary:

Amidst a late April night of 1936, a business tycoon’s named Albert Ellingham found that his wife and daughter were kidnapped and the only real clue was within a mocking riddle signed as Truly Devious. And now present day, Stevie Bell, a girl who wishes nothing more to have a successful career as detective, ventures into the Ellingham Academy as a student. She has one goal in mind: to reopen and solve this cold case. In a sudden twist of events, the past returns to the Academy and the students are surrounded by a death which has them shocked and bewildered – Was it an accident or was it murder?

Characters: 

Stevie – Goal-oriented, Diligent, self-driven – Don’t we all love a smart female lead? I was really thrilled to read about character like Stevie who is able to notice quirks that maybe we as readers may sometimes miss. I definitely found her relatable since she also seems grounded with her awkwardness in social situations despite having a brilliant and intuitive mindset.

Janelle – Smart, Kind and Driven – Janelle was a such a pleasure to read about and I loved that the author included diversity within the novel. Although we did not see too much of her within this book, I definitely found her to be a character who values relationships and her friendship with Stevie.

Nate – Distant, Secluded, Writer – As with Janelle, I felt that we did not see too much of Nate in this book and he did not have much layers to his personality as we see with Stevie. However, I did find him to be a great friend to Stevie even with his grumpy personality.

Final Thoughts: 

Written in a dual past and present day perspective, this novel is surely a thrill for fans of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. I would say that the present day narrative does flow slowly; however, the author does this for a reason as she tries to enable the reader to understand the present day characters, environment and circumstances. The flashbacks were interesting to read since we get glimpses of secrets and twists to the cold case. The author did create a good balance of when and how to switch from the past and the present so we as readers understand the case well enough to follow with the present timeline.

There is also a moment in the book where a major plot event occurs and after that, I couldn’t help but fly through the pages. I just could NOT put it down. That was how addicting it was! The author kept you on the edge of your seat and offered many twists and turns that had you scrambling to figure out who the culprit could be. AND THAT ENDING!!

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Overall, I think Truly Devious is a wonderful read for anyone who loves mystery novels and the second book is definitely on my 2019 TBR!

Until next time, keep reading and I will be back with another post!

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