BLOG TOUR Book Review – In the Neighborhood of True

Title: In the Neighborhood of True

Author: Susan Kaplan Carlton

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication date: April 9th, 2019

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.

After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.

Review

TW: racism, anti-Semitism, bombing

Set in Atlanta in the 1950’s, In the Neighborhood of True tackles anti-Semitism and racism through the eyes of 16 year old Ruth Robb. Ruth just moved to Atlanta and want to participate in being a debutante, but has to hide her Jewish faith as she wouldn’t be allowed to participate if people knew. She meets new friends, gets a boyfriend, and thinks all is swell until her temple is bombed by by someone with the KKK. The bomber took issues with her temple and rabbi assisting black churches in the efforts of integration and the equality of Black people in the South. Ruth must make a choice – honor her heritage or her newfound friends.

This story has a lot of timeliness, as there is much going on right now in America that frankly doesn’t feel much different than is portrayed in this book. The millennium may change, but people and hate have stayed consistent. It was interesting to read in the dialect and slang of the South at the time, and see just how different life was. Ruth’s story was eye opening in many ways.

The story felt slow in the beginning and the middle, I wasn’t quite sure where it was going. But by the last 100 pages, it really picked up and showed the true struggle that Ruth was going through. Because what 16 year old doesn’t want to fit in? But is it worth changing who you are, just to please others? I felt it was well done by the author to show Ruth not only learning to accept herself as Jewish, but see Black people as equal and deserving. Ruth messed up often in the book, but was open to correction, and sometimes that’s all we can do.

I highly recommend reading this if you have an interest in social justice and the current events happening now.

Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Hunting Prince Dracula

“Humans were the true monsters and villains, more real than any novel or fantasy could invent.”

Title: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books

Publication date: September 19th, 2017

435 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

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.

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?

Review

“For there are no limits to the stars; their numbers are infinite. Which is precisely why I measure my love for you by them. An amount too boundless to count.”

kerri maniscalco, hunting prince dracula

Audrey Rose and Thomas just can’t escape death. I mean, they *are* forensic examiners so they see death all the time but for our purposes I mean unexpected deaths. Our friends are off on the Orient Express to Romania to study at the exceptional school for forensic science as Vlad the Impaler’s old castle (nbd, right). And bam someone is murdered on the train. Like I said, they can’t escape death. So, they have to start figuring out why it seems vampires exist & people are being killed by them.

Okay first off, Thomas was a complete butt and tried to fork up his relationship with Audrey Rose in the first third of the book and I was not there for it. Like, don’t be dumb man. But he brought it back and returned to being a amazing lil cinnamon roll that I just want to steal and squeeze. Audrey Rose was having some PTSD issues in this book, but overall she is still a cool character and I’m here for females doing male dominated things, especially in this time period.

The plot was suitably creepy for the a vampire novel and it had the same level of surprise and suspense that STJR had. I love vampire books so the mystery aspects of who was trying to convince people in Romania that vampires back was super cool. I liked the additional characters that were added – Thomas’ sister & her girlfriend (here for LGBTQIA rep) were very cool and I wish they were more active in the book.

The ending scenes and chapters were amazing. Even better than the reveal in STJR, because there was so much intense build up to the final showdown. It was so well written and thrilling. Hats off to Kerri for handling that ending in such an fantastic way.

Excited to continue in the series! Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Grave Mercy

“One heart cannot serve two masters.” 

Title: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)

Author: Robin LaFevers

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication date: April 3rd, 2012

576 pages

Goodreads Synopsis

Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Review

“I stare at him coldly. “I do not care for needlework.” I pause. “Unless it involves the base of the skull.”

robin lafevers, grave mercy

Another day, another review for a book with a young, female assassin! Whereas Grave Mercy has a similar main character to Throne of Glass, that’s pretty much the only similarity these two books have! But, I do still enjoy a good, female assassin!

Grave Mercy is the first in a trilogy following the lady assassins of St. Mortain, the god of Death. Set in the 1400’s in Brittany, Europe, Grave Mercy is a historical fantasy where the gods grant certain powers, abilities, and duties to those sworn to them. Ismae, our MC, hsa a horrendous childhood as she was marked at birth and seen as cursed. Her birthmark is really proof that St. Mortain saved her when her mother tried to abort her. Ismae was sold to a terrible husband, but quickly saved to go study to be an assassin for the god. The story jumps and Ismae is thrust into the political environment of Brittany as they try to stave off the French, and she is instructed to protect the young duchess ruling all of Brittany.

I have many thoughts on this book. First off, I don’t generally like historical fiction/fantasy that much, but this book reads more like fantasy than historical – so much so that I didn’t realize it was really based off real events until I read the afterword! It feels like a fresh, new world & the powers and abilities of the assassins of St. Mortain are interesting.

In terms of the actual assassinating, Ismae is good at what she does – but she isn’t written as all powerful like Celaena from Throne of Glass. She isn’t unstoppable, she’s methodical and take pride in her work, but not necessarily enjoyment. As a character, Ismae did not thrill me. I loved her budding romance with *redacted* but I found her character to be more boring than the other characters. There were chunks of the book I enjoyed her more in than others, so it was really a roller coaster experience for me.

The writing is superb, the world-building is phenomenal, and the political intrigue is top notch. I enjoyed these elements of Grave Mercy immensely, and definitely plan on continuing to read this series to see how the story goes with the Duchess and Brittany. The villain was also suitable evil and hateable, which I always enjoy!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Stalking Jack the Ripper

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

Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1)

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Publication date: September 20th, 2016

327 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

Review

There’s nothing better than a little danger dashed with some romance.

kerri maniscalco, stalking jack the ripper

I reread STJR in order to continue the series, and it was exactly how I remembered. I like historical retellings, but not historical fiction (which I know, doesn’t exactly make sense. I just don’t always like historical fiction, but STJR gave the Jack the Ripper story more interesting pieces by writing a story about a girl investigating the crimes. Add in the fact that women were not supposed to do that kind of work at the time period? I’m down. Audrey Rose Wadsworth is queen & I’m here for it.

I have to say a large part of my enjoyment from this book is that I didn’t see the ending coming the first time I read it. During my reread, I was able to catch some more details that I missed the first time around – but only because I’d already read it. I like the Kerri is able to keep the mystery alive.

Thomas Cresswell makes my heart beat faster & he’s entirely fictional. I want him to myself, but I absolutely adore the relationship he builds with Audrey Rose. He’s not there to shackle her like her father or society, he respects her for her intelligence & allows her to be independent. Thomas is a seriously amazing character, I only wish we were able to read from his POV as well as Audrey Rose’s.

Stalking Jack the Ripper is a great beginning to a series. The end wraps up well, no cliffhanger. But you’re excited to see what adventures Thomas and Audrey Rose get up to next.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Lady Rogue

Title: The Lady Rogue

Author: Jenn Bennett

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: September 3, 2019

384 pages

3.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis

The Last Magician meets A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this thrilling tale filled with magic and set in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains where a girl must hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring in order to save her father.

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.

Review

Good morning, glorious people! Special thanks again go to Netgalley and Simon Pulse for a copy of The Lady Rogue in exchange for an honest review. I am positively ZOOMING through eARC’s these days in order to get that pesky ratio up higher!

Jenn Bennett is one of my favorite contemporary authors. I adored Starry Eyes and I am planning to read Alex, Approximately soon as I checked it out of the library a few weeks ago. When I saw The Lady Rogue available on Netgalley, I knew I wanted to read it. Unfortunately, this just didn’t end up being a good fit for me.

The Lady Rogue is a great historical fiction book, if you like those. That genre is pretty low on my favorites list, which is partially why I wasn’t as drawn to this book. The Lady Rogue follows Theodora Fox, a well off American whose father is an international treasure hunter. He has gone off searching for Vlad the Impaler’s infamous bone ring, after being hired to find it by a certain Mr. Rothwild. Theodora is in a hotel in Istanbul, when it is determined that her father is MIA and likely caught up in a dark and dangerous sequence of events. Theo’s long lost “brother” and former lover (they are not related, they just grew up together), Huck shows up to break the news and then they begin a long and harrowing adventure to find Richard Fox and solve the mystery of The Impaler’s ring.

The Lady Rogue features some a magic system that isn’t very defined, but having that definition wasn’t super important to the plot. Fantasy lovers, there is some witchcraft in this book! Theo and Huck also have a drawn out and intense romance that is as slow a burn as one can find. There is also evidence that the history was well researched and well represented. The historical nature of this book will be very interesting for folks who are drawn to this genre. I have never been very interested in Vlad Dracula and his history, but if you are then this book is for you!

Overall, I found this book hard to get through, simply because it isn’t a genre I can get into easily. It has Stalking Jack The Ripper/Enchantee/Romanov vibes for you fans out there. I highly recommend this book for those folks who enjoy this genre. It is told very well, with a solid plot line and flow. The writing is great and the characters are well told.

Check it out! Happy reading, book friends 🙂