Stalking Jack the Ripper (Review)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #1
Genre: Young Adult/Mystery/Historical Fiction
Format: ARC (given to me by my lovely friend Rachel)
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Publication Date: September 20, 2016

About Stalking Jack the Ripper (via Goodreads):

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.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco was an absolutely fascinating and fantastic read. I went in with uncertainty, but quickly enthralled by Maniscalco's spectacular debut.
Historical fiction and mysteries are not the genres I typically gravitate toward, but Maniscalco's superb writing really transported me into late-19th century London and I was captivated by every intricate detail woven into the story. While some of the forensic elements were especially gory, it fortunately did not dominate the plot, as there were plenty of swoon-worthy romance scenes and laugh-out-loud dialogues.

The plot overall was just the right pace. It was a perfect blend of anticipation and action, and I was never bored because Maniscalco kept me on my toes with the mystery, romance, violence, and more. While I haven't read a lot of mysteries, Maniscalco did a splendid job redirecting my thoughts along with the characters. Although I kind of figured out who was behind it all before the characters did, I will admit that it was a completely random, serendipitous thing that led me to suspect the culprit. I don't want to say much else because I don't want to give it away, but despite suspecting the character, the ending definitely threw me for a loop anyway.

The characters were so snarky and witty and overall wonderful. I absolutely loved how Audrey Rose and Thomas interacted, with so much banter, attempts to outsmart each other, and steamy kiss scenes resulting from passionate arguments. Audrey's cousin Liza was also surprisingly a favorite of mine, despite (or possibly because of) all her deception as being the perfect daughter and lady when she was really quite bright and attuned to everything (and had her secret, somewhat scandalous motives).
All in all, I absolutely adored Stalking Jack the Ripper. In fact, it is now one of my favorite books ever, and I am eagerly anticipating Hunting Prince Dracula, the next installment in Maniscalco's brilliant series.
My rating: 5 stars

First We Were IV Favorite Quotes (+ Giveaway!)

Monday, April 17, 2017

First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Synopsis: A group of friends start a secret society in this out-of-control thriller from the author of The Telling and The Creeping that examines the all-consuming love of lifelong friendship—and what someone is capable of when they’re afraid of losing it.

Izzie loves nothing more than her three best friends, Viv, Graham, and Harry, and the bond the four of them share. And she’s terrified of their friendship falling apart next year when they go off to college. To bind them together, she decides to create that will belong only to them, a special thing that they’ll always share between the four of them. And so they dream up the Order of IV, a secret society devoted to mischief that rights wrongs and pays back debts. At first, it works like a charm—but when the Order of IV’s escapades get recognition beyond their wildest expectations, other people start wanting in. And soon, what started as a game of friendship is spiraling into something dangerous and beyond their control—and before it’s over, they’ll pay the ultimate sacrifice.

Add to Goodreads:
Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

About the Author:

Alexandra Sirowy is the author of the young adult thrillers THE CREEPING, the Bram Stoker Award® Nominated THE TELLING, and the upcoming FIRST WE WERE IV. Alexandra attended a women's college as an undergrad and received her graduate degree in International Studies. When she isn't writing, she loves to travel, read, eat, and get into mischief. She lives with her husband in Northern California.

Disclaimer: All content directly from First We Were IV (such as quotes and excerpts) is taken directly from an advanced reader's copy of the book. Therefore, it is not to be separately quoted from due to the fact that it is not in its final publication form. 


"Four seasons, four directions, four chambers of a heart, four elements, and four of us."
"No matter how much you see, there are bottomless seas you don't."
"'Not anachronistic, exactly,' I told him. 'You look timeless, like you could always exist and you always have. Like a vampire.'"
"Ironic that she used to give me tons of grief over how I dressed and now she wears decapitated toys on her head to cover up how pure evil she is."
"There were no cracks between us then. We outshone the star-choked sky. We stared into space and didn't wonder what was there because we were the universe. All wormholes led to us."
"To be a truly great actor [...] is to forget the truth."
"Don't be a hero."

"You had to ground Graham like you would a live wire. Grab him before his stories got out of control. Except then you'd catch a little of his electricity and be that much more alive for it."
"It felt like we were stealing the last bit of the year's sunshine. Like we were existing as our own little planet, in a tropical solar system [he] invented. And weren't we, a little? We'd invented a secret order and rebellions and history. Were there any stars we couldn't touch?"

"The Order had one invisible hand. With [...] the others, we would have many. All invisible. Omnipresent. Vengeful gods capable of endless aftershocks."


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure to check out the rest of the tour!

Week 1
March 27: Brittany's Book Rambles - Intro Post + Excerpt
March 28: YA and Wine - Most Mischievous YA Characters
March 29: Rattle the Pages - Nail Art
March 30: Book Nerd Addict - Inventing A Secret Society
March 31: Fables Library - YA Books with Secret Societies

Week 2
April 3: Emily Reads Everything - Fancast
April 4: The Eater of Books - History of Secret Societies
April 5: It Starts At Midnight - Author Guest Post: FIRST WE WERE IV vs. Alexandra's Previous Books
April 6: BookCatPin - Mystery YA List
April 7: A Book and a Cup of Coffee - Moodboard

Week 3
April 10: The Book Buzz - YA Thrillers You Need to Know About
April 11: The Candid Cover - Bookworm Initiation Quiz
April 12: Girl in the Pages - Book Recs for First We Were IV Characters
April 13: Stories and Sweeties - Author Guest Post - Story Behind the Title
April 14: Little Lillie Reads - Playlist

Week 4
April 17: Literary Legionnaire - Favorite Quotes
April 18: Chapter by Chapter - Author Guest Post: Secret Society Initiation Rituals
April 19: Tales of the Ravenous Reader - Secret Societies You Never Knew Existed
April 20: YA Book Central - Author Guest Post:  3 Favorite Books About Secret Societies
April 21: The Bookish Feels - Author's March Favorites

Week 5
April 24: Waiting For Wentworth - Author Guest Post: Secret Society Rules
April 25: The Reader and the Chef - Book Inspired-Recipe
April 26: Forever Lost in Literature - Author Guest Post: What We Do For Friendship
April 27: Flying Through Fiction - Favorite YA Friendships
April 28: One Way or an Author - Phone Wallpapers

Waiting on Wednesday (73)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Umberland by Wendy Spinale
Series: Everland #2
Genre: Young Adult/Retelling/Steampunk
Page Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: May 9, 2017

About Umberland (via Goodreads):

What began with a reimagining of Peter Pan and Wendy now twists into a stunning version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass!

Gwen, Pete, and the others have escaped from Everland. But the safe haven they hoped to find at Alnwick Castle doesn't exist. With the Queen of England on her deathbed, Duchess Alyssa has stepped in to lead, but things have gotten worse as the cure Doc created for the Horologia virus has mutated, accelerating the disease. The only possible solution he can think of is to go back to the virus's origin: an extinct poisonous apple.

Legend has it a tree bearing the apple might be found at the center of a deadly labyrinth hidden deep within Germany. A place that no one in their right mind enters. Leaving Pete in charge of the survivors, Alyssa sets out with only her sword, her wits, and the help of Maddox Hadder, a wild boy who oversees the castle gardens. To get to the center of the maze, she'll be forced to battle monsters more terrifying than her darkest nightmares.

But can anyone truly survive the madness of the maze? And what if there's no apple to be found there?

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Waiting on Wednesday (72)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Like Water by Rebecca Podos
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/LGBTQIA+
Page Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 17, 2017

About Like Water (via Goodreads):

A gorgeously written and deeply felt literary young adult novel of identity, millennial anxiety, and first love, from the widely acclaimed author of The Mystery of Hollow Places

In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now, she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.

That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend. But caring about another person stirs up the moat Vanni has carefully constructed around herself, and threatens to bring to the surface the questions she’s held under for so long.

With her signature stunning writing, Rebecca Podos, author of The Mystery of Hollow Places, has crafted a story of first love and of the complex ways in which the deepest parts of us are hidden, even from ourselves.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Blood Rose Rebellion (DNF Review)

Saturday, April 1, 2017
Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Series: Blood Rose Rebellion #1
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Page Length: 416 pages
Format: ARC (received from Penguin/First In Line, still reaping the benefits from my B-Fest trivia win over the summer)
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 28, 2017

About Blood Rose Rebellion (via Goodreads):

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.
Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

DNF'd @ 28%

I believe this is a book that other people may enjoy, but it just wasn't right for me. I did like several elements of the novel, but there were also several issues that I could not get out of my head.

First, I want to briefly talk about the positives. I absolutely loved how Eves weaved the story and her magical system around historical Europe, and how she included so many different cultural aspects. Her writing flowed gracefully, and in general, things were masterfully created.

However, there was so much info-dumping in the first few chapters (and even beyond that). The information that was given could have definitely been more evenly distributed as the events of the novel unfolded. Especially because when there is a lot of explaining all at once, it is too easy to get swept up by it all and lose track of everything that was just dumped on the reader. I know I felt that way about the magic system and the world at first, and even as I continued reading because there was just too much for me to remember.

In addition, the pacing seemed really skewed to me. In the beginning, there seemed to be so much going on, yet it quickly became stagnant with very little plot progression at all. The pacing also negatively impacted my opinions of the characters. At the beginning, I could not develop any true feelings (much less positive ones) about any of the characters presented to me, including Anna, the protagonist. Almost immediately, the characters came across as snobbish and seem like massive, selfish jerks (other than their amazing Grandmama). I could barely sympathize with anyone.

Furthermore, although the setting and historical aspects were a nice change, most of the other aspects of the book were pretty trope-y and filled with cliches. There was the whole, almost reverse-chosen one thing going on where the girl with no powers in a world of super-humans somehow manages to overthrow society and change the world, and so much more that just seemed a repetition of the popular books before it.

Ultimately, Blood Rose Rebellion has a lot of potential, and I believe others may greatly enjoy it, but there were several flaws that were a turn-off for me. I honestly may pick it back up again in the near future, but as of right now, I have no intention of finishing.

Waiting on Wednesday (71)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović
Series: Hibiscus Daughter #1
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Page Length: 416 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: August 15, 2017

About Wicked Like a Wildfire (via Goodreads):

All the women in Iris and Malina's family are born with a gleam—a unique way of manipulating beauty through magic. Seventeen-year-old Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, her twin sister Malina interprets moods as music, and their cold, distant mother Jasmina bakes scenery into decadent treats at her confectionery in Old Town Cattaro, Montenegro.

Jasmina forbids Iris and Malina to share their gleams with anyone, and above all, she forbids them to fall in love—being discovered could shatter the quiet lives they’ve built in their tucked-away, seaside town. But Iris and Malina are tired of abiding by their mother’s rules and rebel in secret whenever they can.

Yet when a mysterious, white-haired woman attacks their mother and leaves her hovering between life and death, the sisters unearth an ancient curse that haunts their line—a wicked bargain that masquerades as a blessing, and binds the twins’ fates—and hearts—to a force larger than life. To save each other, they must untangle a thousand years of lies and reveal their own hurtful secrets. But even the deepest sacrifice might not be enough.

Wicked Like a Wildfire is the first book in a sumptuous, bewitching duology about the power of love, death, magic, and the many faces of beauty.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Waiting on Wednesday (70)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: Young Adult/Magical Realism/LGBTQIA+
Page Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: October 3, 2017

About Wild Beauty (via Goodreads):

Love grows such strange things.

Anna-Marie McLemore's debut novel The Weight of Feathers garnered fabulous reviews and was a finalist for the prestigious YALSA Morris Award, and her second novel, When the Moon was Ours, was longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Now, in Wild Beauty, McLemore introduces a spellbinding setting and two characters who are drawn together by fate—and pulled apart by reality.
For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.