Tag: Mystery (page 1 of 14)

BOOK REVIEW: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco

BOOK REVIEW: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri ManiscalcoStalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1)
by Kerri Maniscalco
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: 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.

 

 “Didn’t your family warn you against sneaking around at night alone?” he asked. “Dangerous things linger in the dark.”

Halloooo therreee. It seems I’m catching up and producing enough reviews to halfway feel like myself again!!!! And it. Is. GLORIOUS. And I’m so happy to be reviewing a book my dear friend, Brittney, has been unflinchingly begging me to read for ages. It’s not often I’ll pick up a book that has creepier tendencies, but when I do, they sometimes become my absolute favorites (a la Jazz from I Hunt Killers).

But where this book was strong in its witty writing and intriguing characters, there were also some flaws that I couldn’t help but to be bothered by (and the matter gets worse in book 2…but I wouldn’t let that effect the rating of this installment, of course!). As I always like to repeat: Let’s start with the sour, then we’ll get to the sweet. And oh, let me tell ya, Thomas was as sweet as it can get.

I stood, and Thomas joined me, eager to move onto our next mission.
“Hurry along, then,” I said, grabbing my orchid and securing it safely in my journal. “I want to sit by the window.”
“Hmm.”
“What now?” I asked, losing patience.
“I usually sit by the window. You may have to sit in my lap.”

I know this is going to get me kicked in the teeth, metaphorically speaking, for saying this, but I found that Audrey Rose really, really loved to get haughty about being a woman who deserved the same equality as a man. Now

I’m not sayiiinnngggg women shouldn’t be treated equally-I NEVER said that-howeverrrr, when a point is repeated, well, repeatedly, it begins to lose its importance. Just let the dead horse lay, as they say, and stop beating it. Like I said, I noticed it here in this book, but it didn’t really get on my nerves TOO BAD until book two. Or maybe I’m just confused because I read them so close together….either way, girl needs to stop. She’s said it enough I’m sure even the corpses she’s operating on got it through their thick, dead skulls.

“…the dead speak to those who listen. Be quieter than even them.”

Secondly, I was so SOOOO excited and into her and Thomas’s banter. From the beginning (this is a plus) my heart went into overdrive when they first met, because Thomas was just an outspoken little soul who couldn’t help but to get under her (and everyone else’s) skin. But, again, being inside Audrey Rose’s head just kind of got….annoying. NOT BADLY SO, but enough that I balked near the end when she’d proclaim what a fiend and a scoundrel Thomas was. I ADORE Thomas, but sometimes saying things so much just ruins the whole effect-such is the case with her repetitive proclamations-both about Thomas’s idiosyncrasies and being a wholly capable woman who is able to handle herself just as the men do.

I was determined to be both pretty and fierce, as Mother had said I could be. Just because I was interested in a man’s job didn’t mean I had to give up being girly. Who defined those roles anyhow?

NOW. Onto the pleasant and sweet-Which far surpassed the sour.

All in all this story was super addicting. I loved the fast-paced feeling, yet it was handled in a manner in which you didn’t feel rushed. It was day-to-day and we were constantly on the lookout for Jack the Ripper. Shrouded in mystery, each page had me guessing who near Audrey Rose could possibly be the killer. You just knew it was someone she was in close proximity with, yet she was missing key clues to really pin it down. Was I right in the end? Yes and no. Was it somewhat obvious? Not particularly. But I did like how the author handled everything so that we constantly questioned everyone’s intent, were constantly second guessing ourselves, and really how it made me feel like a damned fool because I was like a chicken running around with its head cut off.

This story was also quite creepy-not in the way you will feel if you continue onto the second (castles and secret tunnels and creepy creepy crawlers, oh my!), but enough that it had me looking over my shoulder. Who said alleyways aren’t creepy? As the book came to its haunting conclusion, I began shaking in a way that I haven’t for a book in…I don’t know how long. I’m talking stomach flutters of actual TERROR, people, a dread I couldn’t grasp onto. Reading each page slower than the last not to savor, but because my fear had grown so immeasurable I could hardly breathe, for I didn’t know what horrors each new page possessed. That alone deserved 4 stars! However, this book caused loss of breath for two reasons, and one isn’t so scary as the last…

Thomas held a hand up, shaking his head. Fine. “What makes you sure I even need a partner? I’m quite capable of doing things on my own.”
“Perhaps it’s not you who would benefit from our partnership,” he said quietly.

Thomas. Thomas Cresswell. Be still my heart…sweet, cocky, and socially inept, this boy stole my heart INSTANTLY. It wasn’t so much that he was different or special or anything, but I suppose it’s just his mannerisms, the way he handled himself. I love that he knew he wanted to be with Audrey, so he went for it. He went in for the kill at each present opportunity, never once allowing her to believe he had any other intention. He knows what people say about him, and he knows what they think, but never once does he let it bother him…or is it more that he didn’t let his insecurities show? I think this defines Thomas to a tee-outwardly cocky, but a soft, insecure, unsure of himself boy who is fiercely loyal and only wishes to be accepted by those he loves. And….I simply adore him. What else is there to say? He’s simply marvelous and he would literally do anything to win Audrey Rose’s heart. He’d do anything to protect her, and his love is genuine. You can’t ask for more than that.

Without lifting his head from his own journal, he said, “Not having any luck figuring me out, then? Don’t worry, you’ll get better with practice. And, yes”—he grinned wickedly, eyes fixed on his paper—“ you’ll still fancy me tomorrow no matter how much you wish otherwise. I’m unpredictable, and you adore it. Just as I cannot wrap my massive brain around the equation of you and yet adore it.”

This book was a nice little surprise-whenever you repeatedly hear something about a story, you really can’t expect much lest the hype monster devour you. But with this story I was pleasantly surprised and pleased beyond words. With a clever mystery, enrapturing characters full of banter, and nail-biting suspense, your heart will surely break for these spell-binding characters. And, if I’m being completely honest, I do have a soft spot for our MC because, well, her name is scary close to my baby girl’s name-Aubrey Rose. OOPS. So…there you have it. I’m biased and refuse to relent…and it doesn’t hurt that the author knows what she’s doing.

View all my reviews

BOOK REVIEW: The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

BOOK REVIEW: The Midnight Dance by Nikki KatzThe Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When the music stops, the dance begins.

Seventeen-year-old Penny is a lead dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and eleven other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep into the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate – and in the only life Penny has never known.

But when flashes of memories, memories of a life very different from the one she thinks she’s been leading, start to appear, Penny begins to question the Grand Teatro and the motivations of the Master. With a kind and attractive kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, the Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must find a way to escape the school and uncover the secrets of her past before it’s too late.

I’m… not quite sure how to feel. On one hand, the writing was absolutely lovely, but I think the story was a bit of a miss for me personally, though that might be due to personal preferences! But let me say this first- this would make an incredible film! Can someone please make this into a movie? Thanksssss.

Penny is one of many dancers held up in the Master’s estate. At the beginning, she starts to realize her memories are off kilter and something is very wrong. Despite being drawn to the (very handsome) Master (the owner of the estate), Penny discovers he’s doing something to manipulate all the girls. (Sounds cool right?)

I was super into the first few chapters. The plot takes no time to dive you in deep, and I was totally into the whole Master concept. So much in fact, that I think it set my hopes too high for the end. I was expecting some majorly cool plot twists and while there were a few small ones, nothing really caught me off guard. So that’s probably my fault-my expectation levels with the whole mystery thing were sky high, so I was sad when there were no big surprises. I DID like the few small ones though. I also felt like there were quite a few loop holes, but it could be that I missed some important details.

The concept was strong, but the characterization fell a bit flat for me. The focus was much more on the present circumstances and mystery vs the character’s pasts or personalities, so I had a difficult time connecting to anyone, especially at the beginning. I get it, everything was supposed to be a mystery, but since the mystery aspect didn’t have many surprises, I just had a hard time with it.

The Master totally had ‘Darkling’ vibes, and I LOVED that bit, but he kinda disappointed me in the end. It was cool that we saw bits of his story in the past but it didn’t feel like strong enough motivation for him to become who he was. I’m SUPER particular about my villains though, so I doubt anyone else will feel the same.

Now I know that all sounds a bit negative, but trust me, those are all personal opinions that I doubt others will share. This book had MANY redeeming qualities. For instance, the setting was SO COOL and the writing (which I mentioned earlier) was absolutely lovely. While the mystery aspect was a bit of a let down for me personally, the story was still really cool and I really enjoyed several bits. I would definitely read another book by Nikki because she’s an extremely talented author.

So all in all, If you’re in the mood for a mystery/semi-thriller with hints of romance, check out this book!

BOOK REVIEW – The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison

BOOK REVIEW – The Killer in Me by Margot HarrisonThe Killer in Me by Margot Harrison
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.

Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.

But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief?

Let’s have a minute of silence dedicated to everything that was missing in The Killer in Me, okay?

RIP, suspense. You almost tricked me in the beginning, but soon it became clear that I’d entered a magical place where somehow, I am Sherlock (I am not). Not to be mean or anything, but I feel a little baffled by the fact that I’m supposed to acknowledge the existence of twists in there. Twists there aren’t, but rather long, laborious passages in which I know what’s happening and the MC just can’t FIGURE IT OUT. Did I mention that I was no Sherlock? Me guessing almost everything at 25% shouldn’t happen in a Thriller. Ever.

RIP, suspension of disbelief (SoD). Again, buddy left too soon. Look, I am not one of these readers who ask for scientific accuracies in Science-Fiction, but even me have a hard time accepting fantastical explanations in contemporaries. I mean, where do we draw the line, then? If everything is possible, why bother finding believable plots? The Killer in Me abandoned any pretense of caring about logical reasoning early on, and in my opinion it weakened grandly the book – I call bullshit on this.

RIP, coherence. Hey, look at SoD’s buddy trying to survive its friend! Of course it’s a fail! You cannot give up everything that makes a contemporary and hope that somehow it will keep working. It doesn’t. Each and every one of Nina’s doubts just does not make any sense, because she keeps forgetting facts that would destroy them :

View Spoiler »

RIP, showing. This one speaks for itself, or, rather, TELLS for itself.

RIP, climax. I was expecting a thrilling descent into hell – what I got is a little hike in the mountains. Don’t be fooled, the atmosphere is dark, but my feelings stayed muffled and when the ending came, I just didn’t care anymore. There was no dilemma as far as I’m concerned, no nuances.

► Although I did like Warren and his loyalty to Nina, and that the writing, if unpretentious, was pretty compelling, with vivid descriptions sometimes, unfortunately The Killer in Me wasn’t the great book I’d been waiting for my come-back into reading. Disappointing.

PS. It feels so GOOD to write a review again. I’M BACK! WOOT! EVEN IF I’M IN THE MINORITY ON THIS ONE! I DON’T CARE! sorry, got a little excited here

*arc kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

BOOK REVIEW – In The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana French

BOOK REVIEW – In The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana FrenchIn The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1)
by Tana French
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.
Richly atmospheric and stunning in its complexity, In the Woods is utterly convincing and surprising to the end.

“Not any more. In ways too dark and crucial to be called metaphorical, I never left that wood.”

I know that I ought to gather my thoughts to organize them or whatever I usually do before writing a review, especially when the last page let me shell-shocked as In the Woods did. But I can’t. I’m leaving tomorrow and I’m not one for writing reviews weeks after having read the damn book. I’m actually in awe of people who manage to do just that. I think that it says something about me : in the end, I’m an emotional reader, and I’ll always hold to the bewilderment and wonder I feel when fictional stories get to me in such a strong level.

And I just began too many sentences with I. Ugh. Bear with me, would you?

In the Woods affected me in a way that I didn’t expect, slowly enveloping me in its sickeningly sweet lure. Little by little, I’ve been rocked by a false sense of safety, by the discreet and uncertain laughs, proofs of Rob and Cassie’s complicity. Of course I saw the warnings, the insights, yet I chose to ignore the bad taste in my mouth, the inexorable growth of my doubts and then the pang of betrayal and sadness. God, this book let me so fucking sad. Hollowed. There’s nothing, really, that I could say to convince you to give it a chance, and many reviewers did it before me and with much more eloquence.

So I’ll only say this : rarely did I feel that the character’s personality – whether they’re likeable or not – was so besides the point as when reading this book. Is Rob a jerk? Maybe, but I don’t care, he’s real, all of them are real to me. I care so much, og my god, do I care for him still. Did I guess some clues before he did? Yes, actually, I did, but again, it changes nothing to the way I feel right now, to the sheer awe still palpable in me when I’m writing these (clumsy) words. View Spoiler »

I am frustrated, does that show? I’m just so sick of writing that, it’s not perfect but – god, I’m so fed up with that sentence and I write it way too often. Nothing’s perfect. Life is far from perfect (or everybody would look at populists and say, What The Hell, do I look like an idiot to you?!). Tana French pictures the unfairness and imperfection of it all perfectly. It’s enough for me. Of course it’s enough.

PS. One day later and I’m still dazzled and yeah, so very much sad. It will linger, I just know it.

BOOK REVIEW – Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar

BOOK REVIEW – Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay RibarRocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow in this paranormal suspense novel about a boy who can reach inside people and steal their innermost things—fears, memories, scars, even love—and his family’s secret ritual that for centuries has kept the cliff above their small town from collapsing.

Aspen Quick has never really worried about how he’s affecting people when he steals from them. But this summer he’ll discover just how strong the Quick family magic is—and how far they’ll go to keep their secrets safe.

With a smart, arrogant protagonist, a sinister family tradition, and an ending you won’t see coming, this is a fast-paced, twisty story about power, addiction, and deciding what kind of person you want to be, in a family that has the ability to control everything you are.

I’ll be upfront with you : If you can’t stand unlikeable MCs, you may want to steer clear of this book.*

While we’re at it, I need to point that the Paranormal label is misleading in my opinion : Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies (how’s that for an awesome title?!) reads more like a coming-of-age/mystery novel with important magical-realism elements (I know, it looks complicated XD). Look, I’m the first to say that genres aren’t important and that we shouldn’t choose our books because of some marketing categorization, and I still stand by it, but going into this book expecting some action-packed plot and detailed world-building would only lead to disappointment.

What is it about, then? Well. Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies primarily deals with Aspen’s character growth and what it means to be who we are. All the tiny traits that define us…. What if they’d been stolen? At which point do we stop being ourselves?

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies (I do love this title, sorry) can also count on its captivating mystery to keep the tension growing.

But mostly, it’s about following Aspen while he’s busy being an asshole. No, really. Trust me on this. At first I thought, oh, hey, he reminds me of Cassel**, arrogant but sarcastic and I love his voice? Then he did something and I was all –

DON’T YOU DARE!!!

*Yell and throw my hands out in a frustrated fashion*

But then, his voice was still compelling? Sorry? Still, every time that *insert swearing terms* decision was mentioned I felt icky. I mentioned character growth, and yes, there is, but don’t go in there expecting that Aspen will become a nice guy at 20%. Or 50%, for that matter. I’m not even sure he is a nice guy in the end – but I’ll come back to that.

If I take a close look at his flaws, I genuinely can’t fathom how and why I was able to stand him. The guy pushed All. My. Buttons. Every time I thought that I would be able to get past some shitty decision he took, he had to go and – Ugh. Facepalm and swearing ensued.

Yet the thing is, his behavior was believable : it rang so, so true.

See, Aspen’s family has an original power : all of them are able to reach into someone – anyone – and steal a part of them for their own benefit : their sight, their ability to do Math, their sadness, their memories – you name it. Grade-A thieves, the bunch of them. Granted, the first purpose of their power is to prevent the cliff from Three Peaks, their town, to fall and well, kill everyone. But would they be humans if they didn’t use this amazing power in their everyday life? Of course they wouldn’t.

We love reading about magical characters who are so selfless and genuine and martyrs and nice and kind and… really? Who are we kidding? No matter how insufferable Aspen was, oh my gosh, that was so much more believable and – hate me for this but – so satisfying. A teenager, who grew up with the ability to (basically) manipulate people, ever since he was a toddler?! Of course he’s an arrogant asshole! It doesn’t mean that I love these parts of him, but they make sense, even if the guy is an hypocrite piece of shit.

Yet more and more along the way, we start getting the impression that something… isn’t quite right. Is Aspen genuinely clueless, delusional or a damn SOCIOPATH?

What? The guy can’t be bothered with empathy, or so it seems.

About that : (do not read before finishing the book) View Spoiler »

Most of all, I loved that Aspen’s character development was slow and incomplete, because no matter what romance novels tell us, a complete 360 in someone’s personality isn’t really a thing. Also, he really made me laugh. Oops.

The relative predictability – I guessed one major plot point early on – actually HELPED me to enjoy the book better, but that doesn’t mean that I saw everything coming : I did not. So many lies, really : the questions surrounding Aspen’s family made for the most unsettling mystery, keeping me eager to turn the pages, because I really, really needed to know if I was right. Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies was thoroughly engrossing and fascinating, albeit disturbing. As I said, though, it was certainly not an action-packed novel, and there were many random everyday life events pictured (including romance, but…). I couldn’t stop reading all the same.

The ending wasn’t wrapped in a neat bow but I thought that its honesty suited the book perfectly : Some readers can find it unsatisfying, but for me Lindsay Ribar couldn’t have taken a better decision.

Add a compelling writing, and you get an unputdownable book. A weird, but thought-provoking one, for which I developed a strange fondness.

*Yes, in the end, I cared about him anyway. Sigh.

**There were similarities with White Cat, by the way. They didn’t bother me, but they were here.

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