Friday, December 30, 2016

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco ARC Review

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Format: Paperback ARC, 325 pages
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Hachette Book Group
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
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.

You guys, I honestly can't even think about Stalking Jack the Ripper without feeling giddy. When I first heard of this book, I wasn't sure how I would feel while reading it because I'm extremely squeamish. I thought that perhaps I'd be too much of a scaredy cat to handle all of the gory details. However, to my great pleasure and surprise, I was able to stomach the gruesome parts, though at times, it was difficult since they truly are masterfully written and incredibly detailed. Kerri Maniscalco is so talented! I could really go on and on about how much I adore this book—grisly details and all.

Stalking Jack the Ripper is a Sherlock Holmes inspired-story. It follows our leading lady, Audrey Wadsworth (*cough*Watson*cough*) and her love interest—Thomas—who has amazing deductive skills, is insanely swoony, and has a know-it-all personality. Together, they are so freaking cute—I simply cannot get enough of them.

My favorite thing about this book is how much female empowerment there is! It totally shatters the accepted gender roles in Victorian London, and the women in this story are absolutely marvelous and inspiring.

This is easily one of the best books of 2016, so if you haven't read it yet, you need to remedy this immediately. Trust me, you won't regret it!

1) Kerri's writing is nothing short of brilliant. It's well rounded, fantastically descriptive, and incredibly—it truly feels and reads like something that belongs in the Victorian Era. Witty and compelling, her words will mesmerize you and make it impossible to stop reading.

2) Audrey Rose, oh how I adore thee. Smart, feisty, witty—I could go and on (and on, and on...) about this girl. To me, the most brilliant and relate-able aspect of her character is how much she struggles with wanting to be able to pursue a criminal career, which in Victorian London is solely an occupation for men. However at the same time. she also enjoys doing her make-up, wearing dresses, and being girly—all the while still preferring to have the option to wear pants. Wanting the same opportunities as men and fighting for them, while still embracing her femininity and breaking gender roles are just a few of the things that make Audrey Rose a phenomenal role model for young girls to read about.

3) Speaking of Thomas . . . if Audrey ever decides that she doesn't want him, I'll gladly take him off her hands. The man is a little socially awkward BUT that doesn't take away from how dreamy he is. Intelligence is sexy, people!

4) I love how gender roles and feminism is tackled and addressed in this book. As I mentioned before, I love Audrey, and one of her struggles is that she does love dresses and make-up, but would like to be taken as seriously as a man, and to be able to practice medicine. She's amazing.

1) SPOILER ALERT: I'm a little annoyed with Thomas' entry in the climax of the book. If he supposedly figured out who the bad guy was at the end, why did he not intervene sooner? I know I'm nitpicking at this point but it's literally the only thing that irked me about this book.

Check out my interview with Kerri!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pub. Date: June 6th, 2017
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Caroline Oresteia has always been destined for the river. Her father is a wherryman, as was her grandmother. All Caro needs is for the river god to whisper her name, and her fate is sealed. But at seventeen, Caro may be too late.

So when pirates burn ships and her father is arrested, Caro volunteers to transport a dangerous cargo in exchange for his release. Secretly, Caro hopes that by piloting her own wherry, the river god will finally speak her name.

But when the cargo becomes more than Caro expected, she finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies. With much more than her father’s life at stake, Caro must choose between the future she knows, and the one she never could have imagined.

This immersive fantasy debut set along the waterways of a magical world will entrance fans of Sabaa Tahir and Victoria Aveyard. Sarah Tolcser weaves an epic story of danger and destiny with enchanting world-building and captivating characters.

First of all, this cover is gorgeous. It's literally calling my name xD

Also, I'm in need of a good "watery" book. So many books in 2016 were all about fire and flame powers, but it seems like more 2017 books are all about water and I love it! I'm so excited to read this and I bet it's going to be amazing!

What do you guys think? Is this one your TBR? Is this the first time you're hearing of it? Have any good "watery" book recs? Let me know ^_^

Sarah Tolcser lives in New Orleans, where she wrangles iPads and rogue computers at her day job. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, she double majored in writing and philosophy. She enjoys video games, NBA basketball, and books about girls who blow stuff up. She is married, with two three cats (sigh).

Sarah writes young adult fantasy and science fiction. She is represented by Susan Hawk at The Bent Agency.

The C in Tolcser is silent.
Connect with Sarah: Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Roar by Cora Carmack

My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!

Roar by Cora Carmack
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pub. Date: June 13th, 2017
Pre-order: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

A female lead that is looking for another way to care for her kingdom other than marriage? Count me in!

(Doesn't the girl on the cover resemble Daenerys? Extra points to this book for that XD)

Plus there is a promise of two—count 'em—TWO  swoony male characters, so how could I say no to that? 

What do you guys think? Is this book on your TBR? Let me know ^_^

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). Raised in a small Texas town, she now splits her time between New York City and Austin and spends her time writing, traveling, and marathoning various television shows on Netflix. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

Represented by the fabulous Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary.
Connect with Cora: Website | Twitter | Instagram | FacebookPinterest 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza ARC Review

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
Paperback ARC, 310 pages
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub. Date: February 7th, 2017
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a holo-vision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he's forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation—and his life.

With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

Empress of a Thousand Skies would best be described in three words: constant adrenaline rush. From the very moment you start reading, there is a tremendous amount of intrigue, action, and grief. It's one of those books that is impossible to put down because laying it aside for even a second would disrupt the energy of the moment. Rhoda's writing style pulls you in, leaving you feeling just as passionately immersed in what's happening as the characters themselves.

For the most part, the book is written in dual POVs. I personally preferred Alyosha's POV over Rhiannon's, but they are both wonderfully intriguing characters, and I loved getting to know them. Another great thing about this book is that it's one of the most diverse reads I've encountered all year, and it's written by a POC author, which is awesome! It's definitely the kind of book that's important for people to read and spread the word about right now.

Overall, Empress of a Thousand Skies is a hard-hitting, compelling, and fast-paced story that sci-fi lovers will definitely enjoy. 

1) The world-building in this book is incredible! From all of the details regarding the actual places in this story, to the diverse characters, I had zero questions about how the world works because it was so fantastically executed. I can't remember the last time I read a fantasy book where I had such a clear and vivid understanding of all the world-building aspects, which is especially amazing considering the size of this book. 

2) This is the first time that I've read a multi-POV book where the two main characters are not romantically involved with each other, and I love it. Their plot-lines are intertwined BUT they have separate love interests—it's so wonderfully refreshing! 

3) Each character voice and personality is incredibly distinct. If you removed the names at the beginning of each chapter, you would still confidently know whose mind you're in. I believe that this has a lot to do with Rhoda's dialogue—it's hilarious, witty, and adds so much depth to the characters' voices. You truly get a sense of how each character sounds and thinks through their interactions, as well as through Rhoda's masterful prose.

4) The stakes in this story are colossal. As I was reading, I was constantly at the edge of my seat and fearing for the life of the main characters—it was almost impossible to catch my breath! 

1) Rhiannon is introduced to the reader as a total badass. She has been training her whole life to face the murderer of her family, but for me, she didn't live up to her initial hype. It didn;t seem like Rhiannon was prepared for what she was up against. Considering her situation, I'm not sure anyone could be adequately prepared, but I would have liked to see her step up to the plate more.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill ARC Review

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pub. Date: December 27th, 2016
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

Ever the Hunted is a charming and adventurous story with a sweet romance. Erin's writing is truly enchanting. She cast me under her spell of her beautiful, sweeping imagery and lively dialogue. I was so incredibly happy while reading that my cheeks hurt from smiling.

Although plot-wise, there isn't a ton of action and it's sometimes predictable, Ever the Hunted is wonderfully executed, especially given the fact that in my opinion, it's really more of a character-driven book. Britta and Cohen's relationship—although complicated—is undeniably the core of the story. It also doesn't hurt that I happen to adore both characters. Ever the Hunted is a story that's laced with sorrow and betrayal, all of which is fantastically balanced out with an adorable romance and a rich setting. And that ending?! My god, I cannot wait to see what Erin has in store for us in the sequel!

1) Erin's writing style hooked me instantly. Her prose is whimsical and beautiful, the voices of her characters are incredibly distinct, and the dialogue is witty and beguiling. Her words truly inspired me and made me want to work harder on my own storytelling and dialogue.

2) Britta is awesome. This is a girl that the world has turned its back on, but she's a fighter. Literally every aspect of her life is the worst case scenario. Everything she loves is taken from her, but she still goes on, keeps pushing, and doesn't quit, no matter how bleak and impossible a situation seems to be—and I greatly admire that about her.

3) The world-building is wonderful and enchanting! The setting is so dazzling and picturesque—every visceral description feels tangible and real. How I wish I could jump into this book and see it for myself.

There is actually a scene in this gorgeously magical-sounding forest that seems like something out of a Studio Ghibli film! (UM? YES PLS.)

4) Britta and Cohen are SO. Freaking. Adorable. There were some times where I really wanted to bang their heads together, and other times where I just wanted to squish them and pinch their cheeks. Their chemistry gave me goosebumps and their banter made me laugh—repeatedly. What's especially incredible about these two is that you only get Britta's POV, but I still feel like I know both of them really well, and I am beyond words invested in their relationship!

1) I found certain aspects of the plot to be a little predictable. I knew who the villain relatively quickly, though the rest of the positive aspects of the book made up for this. Though I do wonder if the villain was deliberately predictable in order to draw the reader's attention away from other things? I guess we'll find out in book two! ^_^

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!

Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pub Date: January 17th, 2017
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository 

A debut historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms.

They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.

Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.

Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers . . . something far more sinister than gryphons.

It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.

Elle Katharine White infuses elements of Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic, crafting a modern epic fantasy that conjures a familiar yet wondrously unique new world.

First of all, if you want to get my attention really quickly, just put a dragon on the cover!

Second of all, "historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms."


This book combines two of my favorite things—Pride and Prejudice and dragons! If that doesn't get you excited then I'm sorry, we simply can't be friends. 

P.S. Just kidding, we can still be friends. I'll just low-key judge you ;D

A textbook introvert who likes to throw out the textbook every once in a while just to see what happens, Elle grew up in Buffalo, NY, where she learned valuable life skills like how to clear a snowy driveway in under twenty minutes and how to cheer for the perennial underdog. When she’s not writing, she spends her time drinking tea, loitering in libraries and secondhand bookshops, and dreaming of world travel.
Connect with Elle: Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook