Friday, September 23, 2016

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BEA16; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryGroomed to be the perfect highborn Victorian young lady, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has a decidedly different plan for herself. After the loss of her beloved mother, she is determined to understand the nature of death and its workings. Trading in her embroidery needle for an autopsy scalpel, Audrey secretly apprentices in forensics. She soon gets drawn into the investigation of serial killer Jack the Ripper, but to her horror, the search for clues brings her far closer to her sheltered world than she ever thought possible. 

ReviewStalking Jack the Ripper was one of the books I KNEW I needed to get when I attended BEA 16, so I was really excited to get an ARC as well as meet the fantastic author, Kerri Maniscalco, who signed my copy. But you're here to know what I thought about the actual novel, right? Well, it's amazing. Seriously. I find the Jack the Ripper murders to be fascinating, especially because they were so horrific and yet nobody has officially been named as "Jack." Stalking Jack the Ripper takes a lot from actual history and creates a new fictional story where a young girl fascinated by science and studying under her uncle becomes entangled in the murders, desperate to know the true culprit. 

Audrey Rose Wadsworth is an intelligent and fierce character. She loves science and despite being a young woman in Victorian times, she is determined to learn as much as she can so that she may help people in the future, especially since she lost her own mother to illness. It's through her uncle that she meets Thomas, who is an apprentice under him as well. Thomas is a bit insufferable at times, but you can't help but love him right away. He's clearly attracted to Audrey, though he loves to mess with her all the same. He's a big of a young Sherlock, often deducing things about people correctly by simply examining them and putting one and one together. I loved that he didn't care that Audrey was interested in science. He worried about her and wanted to keep her safe, but he also didn't coddle her or keep her away from the gruesome details of the Ripper murders.

Along with Thomas and Audrey's uncle, we get Audrey's father who is lost in grief over losing his wife, and Audrey's brother, who is desperate for Audrey to be happy but also wants to keep her safe. All the characters just made up the world that Maniscalco "created." I put it in quotes because this isn't fantastic. These are real places and these murders did occur, though the author obviously takes artistic liberties, especially when naming the murderer, since they have not actually been solved. I loved the ending, and it was definitely not what I expected, so kudos for that!

I need more now! 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BEA '16; all opinions are my own

Official Summary:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation...and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...


I loved Labyrinth Lost, which is a bit surprising as I don't normally seek out fantasy novels. Regardless, this one was fantastic and I highly recommend it. I'm actually glad this one is a sequel because I need more. However, I will say now that Labyrinth Lost is a full novel, so despite a few questions at the end that make you want to read the next book, this is a satisfying read all on its own.

Now, as for the actual story, I liked the world that Cordova created called Los Lagos, where the main character, Alex has to travel to save her family. She is a bruja, which is a witch of sorts, except the power is something that travels through her family. Everyone in her family loves their magic, but Alex has always tried to run away from hers, hiding something awful about it. Her trip to Los Lagos is actually because she tries to banish her power and something backfires, putting her whole family in danger. Los Lagos is a full imagined world, and I loved the various locations and details that Cordova used to help readers visualize.

One of the things that I really loved about the series are the varying characters. Everyone is so interesting and diverse. I LOVED the diversity, whether it was age, ethnicity/race, sexuality. It was all there and done so well! Alex is the main character and she is definitely a layered character that one can easily relate too. She fears and hates her power, but she fiercely loves her family and would do anything for them. Then there is Nova, who Alex doesn't know that well, but he agrees to help her through Los Lagos. Finally, we have Alex's best and only friend, Rishi, who has a much larger part in the book than I first realized. It's easy to see that Alex has a crush on Rishi, though it's not named right away. I loved that it just was though. Nobody, not even Alex, made it into a big deal.

Again, this was great and I eagerly wait for the sequel!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Annotated Copy of All the Feels by Danika Stone - Auction Ends Tonight!

The auction for an awesome ANNOTATED copy of All the Feels by Danika Stone on Leave a Mark Auctions ends tonight at 9 p.m. EST! Definitely think about bidding. This is one seriously awesome annotated book - I wish I could keep it! Oh, and it's open to U.S. and Canadian bids - If you live in another country, you can bid/win but I ask that you help with shipping! I can probably do about half.

A new auction should be up in a day or so; keep an eye out! Lots of great auctions to come. Please follow the blog so you are automatically updated!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Bombs that Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

The Bombs that Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryFourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don't want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever.

Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town's rules crumble, Charlie is sucked into a dangerous game. There's a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy.

Charlie Law wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will... But he's got to kill someone else first.


I thought I'd switch up my reviewing style a bit and share the likes and dislikes of this book for you all:


1. It takes place in Europe. Now, the main character lives in New Town and they are against the neighboring town, Old Country. Despite this, the book is obviously supposed to be set in Europe and I like books outside the United States.

2. Charlie Law. He's fourteen, almost fifteen, and not quite like a lot of boys in books. He's infatuated with a girl from school, yet he's a good person all around. He knows to do the right thing and he wants to be a teacher when he grows up. He even befriends Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, when a lot of people wouldn't.

3. The fight between New Town and Old Country seemed very realistic, especially in today's time. New Town isn't run by the best people, but they are taught that Old Country is awful, and even people from Old Country agree, like the Duda family. However, Old Country eventually invades New Town and the question is: Is it better now, or was it better then? Can it get better now?


1. I suppose my main dislike is how quick the ending seemed to go. There is a lot going on in Charlie's life and there are some serious stakes. However, it just seemed like things were worked out too quickly or too unrealistically, even, with everything that had been shown or stated before.

Overall, this was an interesting YA novel. I appreciated the way the friendship between Pav and Charlie was shown, without too much romance overtaking the plot. There is a lot of realistic overtones to these made-up towns. If the end had played out a bit different, I would definitely have loved this one. Regardless, I'd still recommend.

Monday, September 19, 2016

100 Years of Roald Dahl: Etsy Products!

I'm so excited to be taking part in the 100 Years of Roald Dahl Celebratory Blog Tour! I grew up reading Dahl's books and even watching the movies. Recently, I have begun thinking that I should collect the books and reread some of the titles from my childhood, as well as read some of Dahl's works for the first time, as I definitely haven't read them all!

Now is a great time to start your Dahl collection because his children's novels have been given a new look in paperback (there are even some select titles in hardcover such as Matilda and James and the Giant Peach).

Above you can see the new paperback covers for Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Witches. I love Quentin Blake's illustrations!

Today, in honor of 100 Years of Roald Dahl, I thought I would share some fun Dahl themed products that are available on Etsy. If you don't know, Etsy is a place where people can create all sorts of items and then sell them (along with vintage and other such items). Dahl is such an iconic author, as are many of his characters, that I thought you might be interested in grabbing one of these fun items below!

Matilda Purse Clutch from the Etsy shop Marjorie Handmade. This clutch is $24 and it comes from Australia! The shop includes products from other Dahl novels too such as The Twits, The BFG, and more!

Your choice from one of 6 different Roald Dahl books - a Book Locket Necklace/Bracelet/Key Ring from The Locket Library, based in the U.K. Depending on what you choose, these start at $8.05.

Handmade Roald Dahl Themed Journal from the Etsy shop Iartjournal, based in the U.K. You can buy this for $12.74!

James and the Giant Peach Ornament from the Etsy shop Novel Adornment. You can buy this starting at $5 (other options raise the price a bit) and the shop is based in the U.S.

Original Book Art, Esio Trot by Roald Dahl from the Etsy shop ShireArts, based in the U.K. This is being sold for $20.10. There are other Dahl books available for sale too!

Over on the right, is the Roald Dahl Bookmark with a quote from him. This is from the Etsy shop SJCampbellCreative and the shop is based in the U.S.

On the left here, you get another look at the bookmark. At the end of the quote, there are some beads and another metal addition that says roald dahl.

You can buy this for $20!


I had a ton of fun finding all of these Roald Dahl items on Etsy, and I hope you enjoyed looking them over. We have shops from the U.K, the U.S., and Australia - so I hope most of you reading will be able to find something you enjoy and that won't cost you too much. I do recommend looking at shipping if the shop is out of your country - some aren't too bad!


What is your favorite Etsy product in this post? What is your favorite Roald Dahl novel?

And now, enter the tour wide giveaway!

--Rafflecopter Giveaway HTML: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 16, 2016

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BEA '16; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryCatrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake - and her own.


This is a book that I read in one night, which isn't surprising because it's a graphic novel, but it was also really good and something I didn't want to put down! Ghosts is the story of two sisters, Cat and Maya, though the book follows Cat's point of view. The two girls have been moved to a town in Northern California that is not as sunny in order to help with Maya's cystic fibrosis. While there, they realize that the town very much believe in ghosts and they aren't afraid of them returning on The Day of the Dead. 

image source

I loved this graphic novel for various reasons, so I thought I'd share a list!

1. The sister relationship. Despite Cat wishing she didn't have to move, she loves her sister and would obviously do anything to help if needed.

2. Day of the Dead celebrations. I know a bit about this holiday, when ghosts of people's ancestors are said to return. I loved learning more, as well as getting some colorful illustrations of the parties and costumes.

3. Being able to see Maya's cystic fibrosis. It's one thing to explain this disease in a novel, but with the illustrations, the author could really show the coughing and the equipment that Maya had to use to move the fluid from her lungs. It made me care for her even that much more.

4. Have I mentioned the illustrations? I know not all graphic novels are in color, but this one was, and I really loved it! It wouldn't have been as an exciting novel without the color, especially concerning the Day of the Dead celebrations.

A great graphic novel - perfect for middle school and up, though I highly suggest adults check it out too!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins

When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BEA '16; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryA language barrier is no match for love. Lauren Collins discovered this firsthand when, in her early thirties, she moved to London and fell for a Frenchman named Olivier—a surprising turn of events for someone who didn’t have a passport until she was in college. But what does it mean to love someone in a second language? Collins wonders, as her relationship with Olivier continues to grow entirely in English. Are there things she doesn’t understand about Olivier, having never spoken to him in his native tongue? Does “I love you” even mean the same thing as “Je t’aime”? When the couple, newly married, relocates to Francophone Geneva, Collins—fearful of one day becoming "a Borat of a mother" who doesn’t understand her own kids—decides to answer her questions for herself by learning French. 


I picked this one up on a whim at BEA 16 because I thought the premise sounded great. Basically, Lauren Collins moves to England to continue working for a New York magazine, just in a remote location. It's here where she meets her future husband, Olivier, who speaks English, but is actually French. When the two end up in Switzerland because of Olivier's job, Collins realizes that she really needs to learn one of the biggest languages, which is French. This will also help her communicate with her boyfriend in his own language, as well as converse with his family, who only speak French.

If this were the whole of the book, I would have been very happy. I love memoirs and reading about people's lives, even if they aren't "famous names" or "celebrities." Lauren Collins writes for magazines, but I wouldn't say people know her based on her name. However, this memoir of sorts was really enjoyable. I'm from the United States and I can only speak English. I wish I could speak another language, but my classes never seemed to stick (French in high school, Spanish in college). I do believe we need to learn at a much younger age!

Anyway, in between true stories of Collins and the task of learning a second language, she shares various historical anecdotes concerning language. I found most of these interesting, and they did add a lot to what Collins was going through in her personal life. I wouldn't say I was all that interested in everything that was added to the book but overall, it was intriguing and I'm glad to have read it. I'd highly recommend to those who speak another language or want too, and for those of us who like to travel or want to explore the world more!