December Wrap Up

December was a pretty fun month for me, and not just because it was the last month of 2016 (which needed to be over long before it was).

Books Read

Unfortunately I didn’t get around to finishing any books because of how busy I was – finals, skating, job, etc – so both of these books are just books that I was currently reading during December.

  • Catalyst, A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno
  • Winterspell by Claire Legend

Book Haul

  • Ahsoka by EK Johnston
  • Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake
  • The Heir by Kiera Cass
  • Conversion by Katherine Howe
  • A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls
  • Catalyst, A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (Illustrations by Jim Kay)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling (Illustrations by Jim Kay)
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Novelization) by Alexander Freed
  • Libyrinth by Pearl North
  • The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason
  • Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Memorable Moments

Continue reading “December Wrap Up”

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Stalking Jack the Ripper

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1)Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, YA
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Series: Book One of Stalking Jack the Ripper

No Spoilers!

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. 

Did anyone else ever have a chapter of history, or a sub-group, or something similar that they were obsessed with? I’ve had several over the years, including the Romanov Family, Dinosaurs, Queen Elizabeth I, and Cleopatra. But one interest that has always stuck around is centered around death. No, I’m not insane, but I am completely fascinated with the history and development of forensic science (did you know that Sherlock Holmes is the first detective to use a magnifying glass at a crime scene?), and for a while I went through a phase that was centered around two men: Jack the Ripper and HH Holmes, two of the most prolific and fascinating serial killers of all time.

Naturally, when I saw this book advertised I knew I had to get my hands on it. A young woman facing off against Jack the Ripper? Sign me up!! I almost bought it on my kindle when it first came out, and I can’t remember exactly why I ended up deciding against it, but I’m just as happy I didn’t. I didn’t pick this up until the other day, and I managed to get my hands on a signed copy!!

The Mystery

Stalking Jack the Ripper has everything that I look for in a good mystery book. Of course, I’m not going to spoil who did it, but I am going to say, you’re never entirely certain who did it (I really didn’t figure it out until a chapter or two before the Big Reveal). You are always left wondering, and knowing that not everything is adding up (there are times that you will be CONVINCED that you know who the Ripper is, but then something else will be revealed and you’ll be confused again).

History

One thing that frightened me about picking up this book, is that its based on a real historical event that I know a great deal about and set in a historical era that a lot of people mess up. I was very excited then, when I started reading it, to see how close to history it actually is. I was very impressed. Reading through it there was nothing that struck me as hugely wrong or inaccurate and it flowed easily, the setting not getting in the way of the story at all.

I will warn you though, if you’re easily grossed out by blood, guts, and gore, you don’t want to read this. Victorian London was not a clean and pleasant place to be, and this book isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. It is also about a forensic scientist, so there are autopsies and discussion of ripping into bodies (don’t judge me for knowing this, but the aforementioned autopsies are very realistic).

If you’re interested in how close to history this is, make sure you read the author’s notes at the end, where she talks about what she changed (some minor details that I didn’t pick up on and you probably won’t either) and why she did it.

Reading Progress and Updates

  • 02/20
    • marked as:
      • to-read
  • 10/06
    • marked as:
      • currently-reading
    • page 25
      • 7.0%
      • “I dreamed of a day when girls could wear lace and make up-or no make up at all and don burlap sacks if they desired-to their chosen profession without it being deemed inappropriate.”
      • She’s more forward thinking than most of the people of today!
    • page 48
      • 14.0%
      • “Just because I studied cadavers didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate beautiful garments.”
      • Once again she sums me up perfectly.
    • page 144
      • 42.0%
      • “Wear your assets like a blade, Cousin. No man has invented a corset for our brains. Let them think they rule the world. It’s a queen that sits that throne. Never forget that. There’s no reason you can’t wear a simple frock to work, then don the finest gown and dance the night away. But only if it pleases you.”
      • Cousin Liza knows what’s up.

Overall

I read the entire book on the day I bought it (shoutout to my doctor who was an hour late starting my appointment!) so clearly it will pull you in. My mom was also thrilled when I came home with it, because apparently she’s had it on her TBR for months as well.

This is also the first book from James Patterson’s new publishing imprint Jimmy Patterson (real original name you picked there, hon) and if the rest of them are anywhere near as good as this one, I cannot wait to read them. I hope they continue to hold any books that they might consider for publication to this standard.

Any fan of murder mysteries or historical fiction is going to love this book, even if YA isn’t your usual genre. Its a book that could be read or enjoyed by people of all ages because, yes, it is a bit long, but the content isn’t too mature or too difficult (don’t think its easy or beneath you though!). Just make sure you read the History section of this review for information on some things that you might not like if you’re easily grossed out.

Now, who’s going to write me an H.H. Holmes book?

Book Blogger Insider Tag

Tag Thursday
NaBloPoMo 2016 #17

Rules:

  1. Answer the questions below
  2. Credit the creator: Jamie @ A Little Slice of Jamie
  3. Tag at least 5 people
  4. Have fun!

1.Where do you typically write your blog posts?

Where ever I am when I have the time and inspiration to write. This typically is somewhere at school, usually the Student Union (where I eat most of my meals) or the library. When I’m not at school I’m usually in my bedroom, my bed is a bunk with a couch on the bottom, so that’s where you can find me.

2.How long does it generally take you to write a book review?

It really depends on a lot of things. Sometimes I get reviews written in just a few minutes (mainly on books I was really passionate about, either I have a lot of good to say or a lot of bad), and

3.When did you start your book blog?

I started it on October 5th of 2015 to document my adventures in writing last year’s NaNoWriMo (which I probably will not be doing this year, unfortunately. I’ll have a post up once I decide).

I posted a One-Year Blogiversay Post a few weeks ago, if you’d like to see it.

4.What is the worst thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

I think the worst thing is trying to get people to comment on reviews. I don’t always read the ‘popular’ books and I feel like sometimes that makes it hard to get an auidence. I also worry about scaring people off because I post a lot thats not just books, like the comics, games, and movies I review for Media Monday.

5.What is the best thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

The community. As a kid I never had a lot of bookish friends, so its such a novelty (see what I did there?) to think that there are so many people who want to talk about books as much as I do.

6.What blog post have you had the most fun writing so far?

Oh goodness! I’ve written so many!! Probably something from NaNoWriMo!

7.What is your favorite type of blog post to write?

I really love doing random, insane stuff that’s not really related to anything. Like tags that ask silly questions, or ‘A Day in the Life’ kind of things.

8.When do you typically write?

Whenever I have time is a recurring theme, so I won’t say much more. Its usually either middle of the afternoon (ie: when I’m done with class, but not ready to go home), or late at night once my school work is done.

9.Do you review every book you read?

That was definately the idea, but it just didn’t happen as intended. I review most things that I read, but not all of them by any means. Particularly if I don’t finish a book, I don’t feel qualified to review it (and I don’t like reviewing things I didn’t like, because I try to stay positive).

10.How do you write your book reviews? With a cup of coffee or tea? With Netflix? Cuddled with your fur baby?

Once again, this is just ‘whenever and where ever I have the time and motivation.’ Like right now I’m typing in the student union, while eating lunch and wearing a Scarlet Witch costume.

11.When do you write your book reviews? Right after finishing the book? Two weeks after finishing the book?

As soon as possible after I read it, however, it sometimes takes a little while for me to have time. During breaks I review as soon as I’m done, most of the time, and sometimes I start the review as I’m reading, either by posting progress updates on goodreads, or by

12.How often do you post?

I try to post at least once a week, but that doesn’t always happen, because I am a pretty busy girl.

13. Tagging

Misty Prose

Book Slayer Reads

Meghan M Blogs

A Universe for Books

One Bookish Girl

Book Huntress World

All of you are welcome to do the tag and say I tagged you! And if you’ve done it already, or when you do, please leave a link below so I can check it out!!!

A Study in Charlotte

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, YA, Retelling/Spin-off
Series: Book 1 of Charlotte Holmes
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Read for the Pokemon Indigo League #ReadThemAllThon

No spoilers.

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

I cannot completely express my love for this book. It is honestly one of the best things I’ve read in a very long time, and I’m probably going to read it again before the sequel comes out (something I rarely do except for High Fantasy which I have to re-read in order to remember all the characters).

Characters

Jaime

Jaime is the Watson of this story, and as such he serves as the main character and POV (save for a short excerpt by Charlotte at the end). He’s really likable and easy to become invested in as he struggles to make sense of everything that’s been happening to him. Just like Watson in the original stories, Jaime serves as an important link between Holmes and the auidence, who asks the questions that need asked so that we as readers can understand what happens in the genius’ head.

Charlotte

The descendant of Sherlock Holmes who is not quite as like her ancestor as you may be expecting. Charlotte is a really fun character and really has a great deal of depth. She is allowed to grow and and learn, not just as a super genius, but also as a teenage girl, and struggles with a lot of girl problems on top of the murder.

Milo

Milo, the brother of Charlotte, serves as the Mycroft of this story, however, he’s far less pompous and annoying and far more of just a very nerdy guy who does (at times) manage to care at least a little for his sister (although, most of it is less for ‘Lottie’ and more to preserve the family name).

The Murder

I don’t read mysteries very often, because I often find them to be a bit boring and I can almost always guess ‘who done it.’ I am pleased to report that was not the case in A Study in Charlotte for almost all of the book. Yes there were some parts that I figured out, but other things were as much a surprise to me as they were to Jaime and Charlotte.

Because this is set up to be like the Sherlockian stories, it follows in the same format where the auidence knows less than the main character. That was one of the things that made the classic Sherlock stories so popular, because, unlike in all the other mysteries of the time, it was actually impossible to know everything because Holmes always knew more than he was letting on (and because Watson was the primary storyteller, you never knew more than him).

Overall

This really reminded me of a book I reviewed not too long ago, Buzzkill by Beth Fantaskey, and that’s a really good thing (in case you don’t know, Buzz Kill is one of my favorite mystery books EVER).

Anyone who is a fan of mysteries should give this book a try, even if retellings and reimaginings aren’t your thing. There are a lot of nods to Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, and discussion of them among the characters, but it still can stand on its own as a great read.

Daughters of Ruin

Daughters of RuinDaughters of Ruin by K.D. Castner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Series: N/A (sadly it seems to be a stand alone)

This review contains NO spoilers.

Meet rumor with quiet, treason with cunning, and vicious with vicious.

Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren have lived together since they were children. They are called sisters. They are not. They are called equals. They are not. They are princesses. And they are enemies.

A brutal war ravaged their kingdoms, and Rhea’s father was the victor. As a gesture of peace, King Declan brought the daughters of his rivals to live under his protection—and his ever-watchful eye.

For ten years they have trained together as diplomats and warriors, raised to accept their thrones and unite their kingdoms in peace. But there is no peace among sisters, and all plans shatter when the palace is attacked. As their intended future lies in ashes, Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren must decide where their loyalties lie: to their nations, or to each other.

Alliances shift and the consequences are deadly in this stunning fantasy debut from K. D. Castner.

First off, I just have to say how much better this was than I expected.

I picked it up because it sounded mildly interesting, and like something that I wouldn’t really mind reading a little bit of, not because I thought it was going to be phenomenal (lets be real, the plot sounds kind of weird), but man, did it exceed my expectations.

You never know what’s going to happen next, and you never grow bored. The POV is constantly switching between the four sisters, and there is more than one storyline that is explored as it works its way toward the main climax.

Characters

The characters are one of the strongest parts of this, because they’re all so diverse. Unlike many YA books, each character is allowed to change and grow, instead of just one central character getting all the attention. Everyone has their own motivations, and no character does what you’re expecting them to.

Rhea

I felt as though Rhea was the sister I cared about the most, and that may be because she certainly got more attention from the author (she also seemed to have it pretty rough, more than she got credit for at least) and her POV scenes were usually some of the best.

Cadis

I really liked her. I could see why people hated her (particularly during the Rhea POV scenes) and it almost made her struggles that much more relatable.

Suki

Suki’s scenes are some of the most interestingly written I’ve ever seen in a book. I won’t spoil too much, but she’s completely insane and you can tell that just from her POV. Some other reviewers described it as jarring, but to me it fit perfectly.

Iren

Iren was a character that I always knew was up to something, but in a way that it made me want to keep reading about her. She’s quite incredible, and might be my second favorite of the sisters.

Overall

The worst thing about this book, is that I don’t think theres going to be a sequel. So if cliffhanger endings with no hope of resolution aren’t for you, you may want to put this aside and move onto the next book. However, if that’s your thing, or you just like a good action – adventure book with some fantasy elements, then I highly recommend this.

Gotta Read ’em All!

This Read-a-Thon is hosted by Read At Midnight, who also did the Pokemon Go Book Tag just in case you were wondering how much its taken over her life.

For me this read-a-thon comes at whats either a great time or a terrible time: the first week of college. That means that I will probably be combining books – which yes, will cost me points according to the FAQ – but I’ll still be reading and posting about lots of Pokemon so it will still be fun!

I’ve set up my list so that there are some badges that I won’t have to do in case I run out of time, picking books that could work for more than one badge so I don’t need to stress if I can’t read one for every gym. That being said, I’d prefer to

My393Piplup_DP_anime_2 Pokemon

If you’ve not read the original post – and you really should which is why I linked to it in the first place – you need to know that part of the challenge can include leveling up your own Pokemon and, of course, I chose Piplup!

Evolutions: 

  • Level 50 CP is Prinplup
  • Level 400 CP is Empoleon

 

Continue reading “Gotta Read ’em All!”

The Princess in the Opal Mask

The Princess in the Opal Mask (The Opal Mask, #1)The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Series: Book one of The Opal Mask
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

There are spoilers, but they are at the bottom and hidden under a read more.

Every Fairy-Tale Ending Has a Price. . .

Orphaned as a child in the crumbling village of Tulan, Elara is determined to learn her true identity, even if it means wielding a dagger. Meanwhile, in Galandria’s royal capital, Princess Wilha stands out as someone to either worship or fear. Though no one knows why the king has always made her conceal her face—including Wilha herself.

When an assassination attempt threatens the peace of neighboring kingdoms, Elara and Wilha are brought face to face . . . with a chance at claiming new identities. However, with dark revelations now surfacing, both girls will need to decide if brighter futures are worth the binding risks.

This is the story of Wilha and Elara, two girls from vastly different social circles who are thrown together seemingly by chance. There’s a lot of drama and political intrigue happening and it never gets too dull.

The point of view changes between Wilha and Elara, and both are equal. There were times that neither one was interesting and times that both had me on the edge of my seat, but never was I completely fed up with one or the other.

One thing I will say about this – that I appreciated as someone who thinks our society values sex far too highly – is that its completely clean. I cannot tell you the last time I read a book that only had one reference to “desire” (I mean, there’s talk about love and marriage, but that’s different).

My biggest complaint with this book is when Wilha describes a half-face mask by saying “it covered my entire face except for my chin, lips, and nose.” It was so grating and such a poor descriptor – if half your face is exposed, it doesn’t cover your “entire face” no ifs, ands, or buts – that I had a hard time trusting many of the descriptions after that. Its a rather petty thing to complain about, but its how I felt nonetheless.

Another annoying thing – although 98% of fantasy books are guilty of this – is the royalty owning too many clothes. Before steam power and cotton it just wasn’t feasible for anyone EVEN THE RICH to own as many clothes as Wilha is seen to have.

Characters

Wilha

I really liked her for the most part. There were times that she was slow to pick up on things or just plain stupid, and she had moments of selfishness, but it all made since. Who wouldn’t make the choices she did if they’d been through everything she has?

Elara

Elara had a problem with listening. She was so caught up in the ‘my life is worse than everyones’ that she failed to see the truth about Wilha. I’m not saying Wilha had it worse, but I am saying they are both very much victims.

Patric

I didn’t really like him either. He’s very judgmental and if he really does care for Wilha as much as he claims he wouldn’t flip out over her being betrothed.

Cordon

He was just plain rude and I didn’t end up liking him. Its nice to see someone who doesn’t feel bound by all their childhood promises (because if we were I would have a very unpleasant maid of honor if I ever get married).

Overall

It was a good book, although it was a total cover buy and sat on my shelf for several years before I read it. I did enjoy it, for the most part, but there were parts that I wasn’t interested in, or things – like the mask and dress issue – that detracted from my enjoyment.

However, if you like fantasy thats a quick, easy read with lots of action and plot I think you’ll like this book. I did enjoy it enough to put the sequel on hold at the library, but not enough to give it a four or a five star review.

Spoilers

Continue reading “The Princess in the Opal Mask”