July Wrap Up!

Happy end of July friends!! I somehow failed this month’s TBR while also exceeding all expectations. Let me explain how that happens. I did NOT follow through on the Four Nations Readathon. I got about halfway, and it served it’s purpose of getting me out of my slight reading funk. So I quit halfway because I got into reading books I didn’t really want to be reading, and that just isn’t fun right? Reading should be fun. So my reading continued to blossom AND I went on vacation for the last almost week of the month. Long car ride + COVID closing everything around us = plenty of reading time.

All this to say that whereas I did not follow my TBR, I read a whopping 31 books this month (I pushed the last book today because I liked the symmetry of 31 books for 31 days of the month. This is seriously WAY more than I would ever read in a month, I’m honestly shocked it somehow happened. It didn’t feel like I was reading this much throughout the month, but I keep a draft of this post all month so I can remember my ratings. So when I looked at it a few days ago and really counted, I was amazed. (Also, several are short story/novellas).

I don’t want anyone to see this and think they don’t read enough. As my partner likes to say, I am very extra. The amount you read or don’t read is valid. I will likely never come even close to this number again, and I blame it entirely on COVID and it stealing my social life and needing to destress by way of books. I can’t be anxious about my own life if I’m anxious about character’s lives!

PHYSICAL BOOKS

  1. The Unhoneymooners, Christina Lauren – 5/5 stars (reread)
  2. In the Neighborhood of True, Susan Kaplan Carlton – 4/5 stars
  3. Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1), Tahereh Mafi – 4.5/5 stars
  4. Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), 4/5 stars
  5. All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1), Adalyn Grace
  6. The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1), Suzanne Collins – 5/5 stars
  7. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2), Suzanne Collins – 4/5 stars
  8. Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2), Tahereh Mafi – 4/5 stars
  9. Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3), Tahereh Mafi – 4/5 stars
  10. Restore Me (Shatter Me #4), Tahereh Mafi – 3.5/5 stars
  11. Hieroglyphics, Jill McCorkle – 4/5 stars (also Netgalley but received physical book from publisher)
  12. With or Without You, Caroline Leavitt – 4/5 stars (also Netgalley but received physical book from publisher)
  13. Head Over Heels, Hannah Orenstein – 4/5 stars
  14. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3), Suzanne Collins – 4/5 stars

EBOOKS

  1. Not That Kind of Guy, Andie J Christopher – 3/5 stars
  2. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  3. The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2), Helen Hoang – 4.5/5 stars (reread) (FourNationsReadathon)
  4. The Choice, Nicholas Sparks – 3/5 stars (reread) (FourNationsReadathon)
  5. Take a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters #2), Talia Hibbert – 4.5/5 stars
  6. Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5), Tahereh Mafi – 4/5 stars
  7. Fracture Me (Shatter Me #2.5), Tahereh Mafi – 3/5 stars

NETGALLEY/EDELWEISS/AUTHOR EARCS

  1. One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and A Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, Cara Sue Achterberg
  2. In A Holidaze, Christina Lauren – 4/5 stars
  3. The First to Lie, Hank Phillippi Ryan – 4/5 stars
  4. Float Plan, Trish Doller – 5/5 stars
  5. The Code for Love and Heartbreak, Jillian Cantor – 3.5/5 stars
  6. In Case You Missed It, Lindsay Kelk – 3.5/5 stars
  7. Sorry Not Sorry, Sophie Ranald – 3.5/5 stars
  8. Recommended For You, Laura Silverman – 4/5 stars
  9. Set Fire to the Gods (Set Fire to the Gods #1), Sara Raash & Kristen Simmons
  10. A Tortured Soul, L.A. Detwiler – 4/5 stars

Look out tomorrow for my August TBR! I am betting high on myself next month, because even if you don’t reach the moon, you’ll fall amongst the stars!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Set Fire to the Gods

Title: Set Fire to the Gods (Set Fire to the Gods #1)

Authors: Sara Raasch & Kristen Simmons

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Publication date: August 4th, 2020

432 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Ash is descended from a long line of gladiators, and she knows the brutal nature of war firsthand. But after her mother dies in an arena, she vows to avenge her by overthrowing her fire god, whose temper has stripped her country of its resources.

Madoc grew up fighting on the streets to pay his family’s taxes. But he hides a dangerous secret: he doesn’t have the earth god’s powers like his opponents. His elemental gift is something else—something that hasn’t been seen in centuries.

When an attempted revenge plot goes dangerously wrong, Ash inadvertently throws the fire and earth gods into a conflict that can only be settled by deadly, lavish gladiator games. The fights put Madoc in Ash’s path, and she realizes that his powers are the weapon her rebellion needs—but Madoc won’t jeopardize his family, regardless of how intrigued he is by the beautiful warrior.

But when the gods force Madoc’s hand, he and Ash uncover an ancient war that will threaten more than one immortal—it will unravel the world.

Review

tw: death, physical abuse

Ash and Madoc are unlikely allies. Pitted against each other in their god’s war, the goal is to defeat the other. But when it starts to seem like there is more at stake than a war fought over a gladiator battle gone wrong, the two must team up to stop the gods from destroying both their countries. But their loyalty to each other will be tested, and they will be shocked by what each other, and those around them, are really capable of.

Wow okay so I literally just finished reading this book 5 minutes ago and I am still processing it. THAT ENDING. Whereas the first say, 15% of the book is tough to engage with, it really picks up and the action just never ends. With shifting alliances and allegiances there’s no predicting what will happening, ESPECIALLY THAT ENDING. Did I mention the ending??? Holy cow.

This book is pitched as Avator the Last Airbender meets gladiators. Whereas the gladiator part is very evident, the ATLA is less evident. Sure, the characters have elemental abilities, but there was a lot less use of them than I was expecting. I wish there was more use of the powers and abilities through the book, but based on what happens I imagine there will be more in the second book.

Set Fire to the Gods is a unique take on books with gods. Basically, the gods are on “earth” with them and you can interact with them almost on a daily basis. The idea of the gods fighting each other and their original creator is not new, but it didn’t feel overdone or reminiscent of any other series that I can think of. Once the action got going, I truly enjoyed this and could barely put it down.

Thank you to Balzer & Bray and Edelweiss for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Ever Cursed

Title: Ever Cursed

Author: Corey Ann Haydu

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: July 28th, 2020

304 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Damsel meets A Heart in a Body in the World in this incisive and lyrical feminist fairy tale about a princess determined to save her sisters from a curse, even if it means allying herself with the very witch who cast it.

The Princesses of Ever are beloved by the kingdom and their father, the King. They are cherished, admired.

Cursed.

Jane, Alice, Nora, Grace, and Eden carry the burden of being punished for a crime they did not commit, or even know about. They are each cursed to be Without one essential thing—the ability to eat, sleep, love, remember, or hope. And their mother, the Queen, is imprisoned, frozen in time in an unbreakable glass box.

But when Eden’s curse sets in on her thirteenth birthday, the princesses are given the opportunity to break the curse, preventing it from becoming a True Spell and dooming the princesses for life. To do this, they must confront the one who cast the spell—Reagan, a young witch who might not be the villain they thought—as well as the wickedness plaguing their own kingdom…and family.

Told through the eyes of Reagan and Jane—the witch and the bewitched—this insightful twist of a fairy tale explores power in a patriarchal kingdom not unlike our own.

Review

**Thank you to Simon Pulse, Netgalley, and Corey Ann Haydu for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

TW: sexual assault, eating disorders, insomnia, gaslighting

Ever Cursed is a fairytale style story of witches and royals. Don’t be fooled though, there are seriously dark themes in this book, on’s that need to be discussed and addressed. Several years ago a witch named Reagan cast the Spell of Without on the Princesses of Ever. Each one lost something that day – can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t love, can’t hope, and can’t remember. The Queen was trapped in a glass box. The princesses must find a way to reverse the spell, or it will stay forever. In an unlikely twist, Reagan begins to help the princesses gather what is needed to reverse the spell. But will it be enough?

This story is told through alternating POV’s of Princess Jane, the oldest Princess, and Reagan. I thought Ever Curse was so well done, I finished it in just a few hours and just couldn’t put it down. Firstly, I loved the writing style. Ever Cursed is written in a fairy tale format so it seems very whimsical and fairy-like, but the tone of the book is very serious and tackles matter such as sexual assault, sexism, and conquering fears. It is a hard line to walk, but Haydu does it very well.

The characters aren’t exactly redeemable. If you’re looking for a book about perfect people, you won’t find it here. Everyone has made mistakes or done terrible things, but I think this story is more about fixing wrongs than being perfect. The character growth is real and Princess Jane comes to realize some terrible truths about her father, the King, and Reagan learns the real consequences of actions and magic.

I felt like the ending could have been stronger and had a better message it. The whole book ramped up to a pretty serious ending but it felt like it wasn’t given enough attention. For that reason, but overall rating was pulled down but I still very much enjoyed this books.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Escaping from Houdini

Title: Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1)

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Publication date: September 18th, 2018

437 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

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 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?

Review

“I love you… More than all the stars in the universe. In this life and ever after. I love you.”

kerri maniscalco, escaping from houdini

BEST IN THE SERIES SO FAR. The surprises in this book were so shocking and the drama was top notch! Holy cow I’m still trying to get over this one. The setting was truly spectacular, on a cruise ship with a traveling circus. Our lovebirds, Audrey Rose and Thomas, are back and traveling to America to consult on a case. On the very first night, the young woman next to Audrey Rose is slain in the middle of the circus acts, and just like that we’re off!

A truly amazing part of this series is just how quickly things start happening. Like in each book there is a major, dramatic incident (likely a death) that happens within the first two chapters! It really works to keep the interest up, though you do start to wonder how these two are such a magnet for dead people! The middle of the book kind of dragged. The plot was different and unique, but you knew what was going to keep happening… people were going to keep dying! It just isn’t new in the third book, you know people are going to die.

I really enjoyed this book…. although Audrey Rose is really killing me. Her whole thing with Mephistopheles drove me up a freaking wall. Like, how are you confused about your relationship with Thomas after you basically agreed to be engaged, like a week ago? But now that we’re talking about Mephistopheles, HELLO HI MY NAME IS MOLLY. I feel like Mephistopheles is what the Darkling was trying to be. Don’t come for me, I am not a Darkling stan. But Mephistopheles? He could get it, seriously.

Escaping from Houdini, in my opinion, is the best STJR book yet. Even with AR being insane for a cool 200 pages, it ends amazingly and I’m so stoked to read Capturing the Devil. Also, this is hands down the best cover. I love the theme of all the covers, but the colors and the ship and that DRESS – perfection. It’s truly the best cover.

Feel free to comment if you want to complain more about AR with me!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Dark Triumph

“Jewels can be replaced, cousin. Independence, once lost, cannot.”

Title: Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2)

Author: Robin LaFevers

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication date: April 2nd, 2013

416 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The convent returns Sybella to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

Return to the world of the critically acclaimed His Fair Assassin series in this “romantic fantasy with a vengeance” and sequel to Grave Mercy that takes reader’s deep into the wicked world of corrupt politics, dangerous love, and hard-won vengeance.

Review

“It is a good thing I no longer have a heart, because if I did, it would surely break.”

robin lafevers, dark triumph

TW: incest, sexual assault, murder

So, I was very iffy on Grave Mercy as a book because the MC just wasn’t very interesting to me – but I LOVE Sybella. I adored this book so much more than the first because Sybella’s story was so much more interesting and enthralling. Sybella is sent off to her family’s home in order to spy for the convent, as he father is the horrid man trying to marry the young duchess. It is clear from the start that Sybella had a terrible upbringing, her brother molested her and her father may have as well. Everyone is terrified to be in his father’s court, as he is impulsive and violent. But, Sybella must spy for the good of all Brittany. But, what ends are too far for even her to justify the means?

Ugh I loved this book. I felt so deeply for Sybella. She is a character struggling with her destiny and her past. Her father has her watched by her ladies in waiting, and she is in constant danger of being discovered as one of Mortain’s assassins. She also has to fend off her brother’s “love” at all times. All while following orders and keeping herself motivated. She is such a strong character. And don’t even get me started on her romance with the giant man, who loves her even with her past and even though it connects so painfully to his. *swoon*

The action is really starting to ramp up with this book. I almost felt like the first book suffered more of middle book syndrome than this book did. The action never stopped and I love learning more about Mortain with every book, and how it’s likely the convent has misinterpreted (whether purposefully or accidentally) his meaning and visions. It’s truly an interesting magic system that I’m excited to keep reading about.

The MC from the first book is still in this book, but she was still fairly infuriating. Thankfully, she held a much smaller part because she really gets on my nerves. There were so many times during this book she could have explained to Sybella what she learned in the first book, and helped her escape the grips of the convent – but she chose not to. It drove me absolutely batty.

As a second book goes, this was fantastic and has me enthusiastically looking forward to continuing the trilogy with Mortal Heart.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – More Than Maybe

Title: More Than Maybe

Author: Erin Hahn

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: July 21st, 2020

336 pages

4.5/5 star

Goodreads Synopsis

Growing up under his punk rocker dad’s spotlight, eighteen-year-old Luke Greenly knows fame and wants nothing to do with it. His real love isn’t in front of a crowd, it’s on the page. Hiding his gift and secretly hoarding songs in his bedroom at night, he prefers the anonymous comfort of the locally popular podcast he co-hosts with his outgoing and meddling, far-too-jealousy-inspiringly-happy-with-his-long-term-boyfriend twin brother, Cullen. But that’s not Luke’s only secret. He also has a major un-requited crush on music blogger, Vada Carsewell.

Vada’s got a five year plan: secure a job at the Loud Lizard to learn from local legend (and her mom’s boyfriend) Phil Josephs (check), take over Phil’s music blog (double check), get accepted into Berkeley’s prestigious music journalism program (check, check, check), manage Ann Arbor’s summer concert series and secure a Rolling Stone internship. Luke Greenly is most definitely NOT on the list. So what if his self-deprecating charm and out-of-this-world music knowledge makes her dizzy? Or his brother just released a bootleg recording of Luke singing about some mystery girl on their podcast and she really, really wishes it was her?

Review

**Thank you to Wednesday Books, Netgalley, and Erin Hahn for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

More Than Maybe is a Young Adult (or maybe New Adult) contemporary romance told in alternating POV’s. Luke is a shy and dorky, but very good looking, high school senior with a long term unrequited crush on music blogger, Vada. He runs a podcast with his twin brother Cullen, and secretly sings and composes songs. His father was a punk rock musician who wants nothing more for Luke than to have him famous – but Luke wants nothing to do with it. Vada ALSO crushes on Luke, and has her own dad issues. Vada has a plan to take her music career to the next level and Luke was decidedly not a part of that plan. But when they work together on a school project, they get close enough to throw some plans out the window.

I LOVED this book. Definitely 4.5 stars for me. I loved the emphasis on music and how even though they are in high school, they are able to work in a bar and have their dreams planned out. It’s so NOT how my life was in high school, but I love that they both know what they want – or DON”T want. I loved the characters, especially Luke. My favorite part of rom coms is when the guy also has a POV, and Luke does not disappoint. He is the softest, cinnamon roll of a boy ever and he makes me heart ache. He and Vada are just perfect for each other, because they bond over music and basically create their own language with songs.

There are some plot holes, and a plot line that I felt needed more attention at the end. Basically something kind of major happens and is never addressed again. Would’ve liked to see more closure with that piece.

Overall, the writing is beautiful, the descriptions and plot are pristine, and I loved watching Luke and Vada’s story arcs come together.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Keep My Heart in San Francisco

Title: Keep My Heart in San Francisco

Author: Amelia Diane Coombs

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: July 14th, 2020

400 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Sparks fly when two ex-best-friends team up to save a family business in this swoon-worthy and witty debut perfect for fans of Jenn Bennett and Sarah Dessen.

Caroline “Chuck” Wilson has big plans for spring break—hit up estate sales to score vintage fashion finds and tour the fashion school she dreams of attending. But her dad wrecks those plans when he asks her to spend vacation working the counter at Bigmouth’s Bowl, her family’s failing bowling alley. Making things astronomically worse, Chuck finds out her dad is way behind on back rent—meaning they might be losing Bigmouth’s, the only thing keeping Chuck’s family in San Francisco.

And the one person other than Chuck who wants to do anything about it? Beckett Porter, her annoyingly attractive ex-best friend.

So when Beckett propositions Chuck with a plan to make serious cash infiltrating the Bay Area action bowling scene, she accepts. But she can’t shake the nagging feeling that she’s acting irrational—too much like her mother for comfort. Plus, despite her best efforts to keep things strictly business, Beckett’s charm is winning her back over…in ways that go beyond friendship.

If Chuck fails, Bigmouth’s Bowl and their San Francisco legacy are gone forever. But if she succeeds, she might just get everything she ever wanted.

Review

**Thank you to Simon Pulse, Netgalley, and Amelia Diane Coombs for an early book copy in exchange for an honest review**

Caroline “Chuck” Wilson loves San Francisco – she would do anything to stay living there. When her father’s bowling alley, Bigmouth Bowl, starts to go under, Chuck thinks she can help out. Her ex-best friend, turned new best friend, Beckett suggests they participate in illegal bowling gambling by hustling bowlers under the table at lanes across San Fran. While she’s bowling her heart out to stay, she’s giving her heart away to someone who broke her trust a long time ago. Will she be able to save her family’s bowling alley?

A main focus of this book is Chuck’s struggles with her mental health, and the potential of turning out like her mom – who killed herself when Chuck was young. Her mother had bipolar disorder, and Chuck has already experience several depressive episodes. Every decision she makes, she wonders if it’s a decision that should be made or one she made impulsively – which would denote the manic side of bipolar. Due to the afterword, the reader knows this is an Own Voices novel, and I cannot speak on the mental health portrayal in this book as it’s likely very personal for the author.

The other main plots are the bowling and the romance. As someone who has been bowling for over 20 years, I have to say that there are several bowling inaccuracies in this manuscript, which could potentially be cleaned up in edits or with further research. However, the romance felt very flat and unconvincing to me. I’m all for friends to lovers and hate to love tropes but Beckett as a character was very one dimensional and I didn’t buy the romance. The date scene was good and unique, but it all fell flat for me.

Overall KMHISF was a decent Young Adult rom com with the unique twist of bowling. It wasn’t my favorite, but I guarantee there are many people who will read it and love it.

Happy reading, folks!

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!

eARC Review – Unravel the Dusk

Title: Unravel the Dusk (Blood of Stars #2)

Author: Elizabeth Lim

Publisher: Knopf

Publication date: July 7th, 2020

416 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The thrilling sequel to SPIN THE DAWN, a magical series steeped in Chinese culture.

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

YA fantasy readers will love the sizzling forbidden romance, mystery, and intrigue of UNRAVEL THE DUSK.

Review

**Thank you to Knopf, Netgalley, and Elizabeth Lim for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Unravel the Dusk is a stunning conclusion to a Chinese inspired story that is a mix of Mulan and Project Runway. Our main girl Maia is dealing with the aftermath of the events of Spin the Dawn, and is still working to save A’landi from the shansen. Her family is in danger, and Maia must make some very hard decisions in order to keep everyone safe, including herself.

I truly loved this sequel. Lim’s writing is so lyrical and beautiful that you feel transported to A’landi, seeing what Maia sees. Unravel the Dusk provides more background to other characters, instead of focusing mostly on Edan and Maia. The romance continues (no spoilers) but is still very PG and YA like. You get to see more of her family, the Emperor, Lady Sarnai, and the shansen – I liked this because Lim was able to add dimension to these characters.

The plot was a touch confusing and hard to follow at times, especially as it was reaching the climax. I had some difficulty following the potential consequences of Maia’s actions at any given time, and I think this is due to so many things happening. There were a few false endings where I thought the book was just about over, only to look down and see I was still only 77% through the book. This made the reading experience seem a bit disjointed as I got prepared for the “ending” only for it not to come.

I read through this book mostly in one day. It is a quick read, and I still loved the world that Lim created. I did not do a re-read of Spin the Dawn before I dove in, and I did not feel like I should have when reading. The plot picked right up from the ending and there were enough reminders in the text that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

Overall, a great conclusion and I am so lucky that I was approved to receive this book from Netgalley. I am so appreciative and can’t wait for this to be officially released! And, that cover is just gorgeous!

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!