Friday, September 29, 2017

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough Blog Tour Review and Giveaway


13 Minutes
by Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: October 3rd 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Crime, Mystery, Fiction

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Links: Goodreads - AmazonB&NBook DepositoryiBooksKobo -  IndieBound -

Synopsis: "Mean Girls for the Instagram age." --The Times (London) 
The New York Times bestselling author known for her thrilling twists is back: 

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you're a teenage girl, it's hard to tell them apart. Natasha doesn't remember how she ended up in the icy water that night, but she does know this--it wasn't an accident, and she wasn't suicidal. Her two closest friends are acting strangely, and Natasha turns to Becca, the best friend she dumped years before when she got popular, to help her figure out what happened.

Natasha's sure that her friends love her. But does that mean they didn't try to kill her?

13 Minutes is a psychological thriller with a killer twist from the #1 internationally bestselling author Sarah Pinborough.

Wow, this was a really good thriller. It totally sounded like a book that was up my alley and I am so glad I got to be a part of the blog tour for it to be able to read this one. It had an atmosphere full of mystery, complex and odious characters, and a plot with tons of surprises.

I love me a good YA mystery and this one is the perfect example of what I love about them. First of all it had an atmosphere that was full of mystery and suspense. This is one of those mysteries where you really are not sure what is going on until the very end when it is all revealed which made for a totally engrossing book. When I got down to reading it, I did not want to stop because I needed to find out what was going to happen.

This is also on of those YA Mysteries and thrillers that relies heavily on the drama of high school. It's not uncommon to have a book compared to Mean Girls and I always take that with a grain of salt, but I definitely feel like this one had some aspects of that movie. It focused a lot on the girls and their relationships, or lack there of. The super popular girls have this total frenemies vibe which made for some interesting aspect of the mystery, plus it gave the book this subtle theme of friendship, bullying, and what it means to be a good friend. The themes totally added a lot to the general feel of the book and was just one more reason why I really liked this thriller.

All of this of course made for really dark and complex characters. This is a book which is full of really terrible people. Nobody is perfect and everyone has some kind of secret. Which is what I love in Mysteries and thrillers. I love awful characters, especially if they are sympathetic. And they were definitely sympathetic here. You understood their motivations and weirdly rooted for them even when they were doing bad things because it was so entertaining. Plus it worked so well in a book like this. What also worked really well was switching perspectives. Most of the book alternated between Tasha, who died for 13 minutes after ending up in a freezing near cold river, and Becca who is her old best friend who she turns to for help trying to figure out what happened. Both characters were complex and interesting. I'm sure which one I found the most interesting to be entirely honest and that's not very common with these kinds of books. But they both added so much to the overall story.

Speaking of that overall story, this plot was one that was full of surprises. I pride myself at being really good at solving mysteries and this one I did not see coming. But that's what this book did so well, there was always another shoe to drop. I was prepared to say that the pacing was a little weird because it wrapped stuff up too early, and then it surprised me again. Although I will say, the beginning was a little slow. It is the kind of book that very slowly builds to something and it definitely did. I read the last half of this book in a day because I could not put it down. It was that thrilling.

All in all, this was a really good mystery that had a thriller feel to it. It had a great atmosphere full of mystery, complex themes about friendship, dark and complex characters, and a thrilling plot.

I give 13 Minutes by Sara Pinborough 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I really enjoyed this book. It was a fantastic thriller and I think fans of YA Mysteries should definitely check it out. If you are looking for a book full of twists and turns with terrible characters than this is the book for you.



Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed adult and YA author based in London.

Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.

Her next novel, Behind Her Eyes, coming for HarperFiction in the UK and Flatiron in the US (January 2017) has sold in nearly 20 territories worldwide and is a dark thriller about rela-tionships with a kicker of a twist. You can follow her on Twitter @sarahpinborough



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Thursday, September 28, 2017

ARC Review: Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

Title: Speak Easy, Speak Love
Written by: McKelle George
Published: September 19, 2017 by Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. 

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background. 

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.

Some of my favorite retellings lately have been Shakespeare retellings. So I was incredibly excited to find one that is a historical fiction book set in a period I love reading about and based on one of my favorite Shakespearean comedies, Much Ado About Nothing. This is that book and I was so excited to read it. And I really enjoyed it. It had great characters, an interesting historical setting, and an exciting plot.

My favorite thing about this book was probably the characters. I absolutely love the characters in Much Ado About Nothing and was really excited to see what the author would do with them. Our mai characters here are of course Beatrice and Benedick. I absolutely loved both of them. Beatrice is too smart for her own good, Benedick too stubborn, and both of them too outspoken. The original play did a great job of playing with gender stereotypes and that is definitely something the author did here with all the characters but especially Beatrice. I loved how the author made Beatrice ahead of her time and the kind of woman who was unabashedly herself despite what others thought of her. In contrast, Ben is the sensitive one. He's got a heart of gold and I loved him for it. Plus as expected their banter was amazing and the love to hate romance totally had me rooting for them to get together in the end.

But this book had more characters beyond Beatrice and Benedick. As the synopsis informs you, there are six main teenagers here. Beyond the two main characters we have Hero, Prince, Claude, Maggie, and John. All six of those characters are connected in some way or another and at first it was kind of hard to keep straight. It helped that I had knowledge of the play and knew who they were supposed to represent but without that I would have gotten very confused. I definitely think as far as these secondary characters go, the women is where this book shined. I really liked Hero and her desire to follow in her mother's footsteps running the speak easy and Maggie, the jazz singer, was a fantastic character. I would have liked a little more from the male characters though. I think John and Prince blended together in my mind and Claude was just not around much at all. In general I thought the characters were good but there may have been to many perspectives for my taste.

And those many perspectives did make for an interesting but slightly confusing plot development. There is a lot going on in this book. The plot of the original play lends itself well to a lot of different things and so does the setting of the 1920's. And this book definitely explored all of that. Jazz, party scenes, prohibition, mafia, and more. It was all incredibly interesting and made me want to read it to find out what was happening. But I also had to pay very close attention because there just wasn't enough attention placed on each of these plot threads. When certain things came out that was it, it just came out and then the book moved on. So I don't think the big reveals didn't hit as much as they could have if there was a bit narrower of a focus. I think just maybe this book bit off more than it could chew when it came to the plot.

But a lot of the plot I think was redeemed by the retelling aspect. You can tell that the author is super familiar with the play and has strong love for it. But you can also tell that there are some aspects about it that she didn't really enjoy. It's not a shot for shot retelling which honestly I enjoyed. I usually prefer retellings that take the original and expand on it in some creative way. This creative way was the historical setting. I feel like the period worked so well with the play. It was an equal balance with fun and dark, with lots of real history thrown in. It made for an interesting setting and a good retelling.

On the whole, Speak Easy, Speak Love was a fun and interesting read. it had great characters, an interesting setting, and an exciting plot that made for a good retelling. I do wish it was a little narrower perspective so some of the plot wasn't as confusing but in general I really liked it.

I give Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a Shakespeare retelling. If you like Much Ado About Nothing definitely check this book out or if you are a fan of historical fiction set in the 1920s.

Have you read Speak Easy, Speak Love? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Retribution Rails
Series: Vengeance Road #2
Author: Erin Bowman
Published: November 7, 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers


When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece's path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.

In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.

Why I'm Waiting:

I absolutely loved Vengeance Road. It was such a fantastic piece of historical fiction. I was all about the YA Westerns a few years ago when that book first came out and I don't think I have gotten any less interested. It was a trend at the time but it still isn't something you see very often so I still get really excited about them when I see them. Plus Erin did a really great job in immersing the reader in that world and historical setting so I am excited to return to it.

But this is a companion to Vengeance Road so it doesn't give us the same characters which frankly I am a little disappointed about because I loved Kate so much. But I'm sure the new characters will be just as good. Bowman wrote a very complex strong female protagonist is Vengeance Road so I am sure that will happen here as well. Plus come on, the synopsis says that they manipulate each other toward their own end so I'm on board.

I am expecting another supper thrilling and fast-paced read with lots of action and adventure because that's what Vengeance Road was. Plus how could this one not be like that based on the synopsis. It has mysterious gold coins, botched train robberies, threats of the noose. You have my attention, book.

I have a copy of this book from Netgalley and I am super excited to read it when we get closer to release date. I'm so pumped for another YA western. It's going to be great!

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on Retribution Rails along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook: Review and Giveaway

About the Book: 

Author: Eileen Cook
Pub. Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD, Goodreads


 Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late.

My Review:

I loved With, Malice the author's last thriller and so I was so excited to read her next book. And I definitely was not disappointed by this book. It was a really good read with an atmospheric setting with a good mystery and complex characters.

One of the things that I liked most about this book was the setting. For one thing The Hanging Girl has a small town setting, something that I love when it comes to mysteries. It's the kind of location that lends it self well to a mystery because everyone knows everyone and is in their business. Plus it had this really great subtle fantasy feel to it that made it the perfect read for fall. There was no real magic here but there was enough atmosphere to give the book the perfect amount of mystery and wonder. I really enjoyed that.

But the best part for me was the plot development and mystery. I am such a plot driven reader and I really need a strongly engaging plot to keep me engaged and I definitely found that here. I would say that they book and the mystery was split into three sections. In the end of each third there is a twist, the first one which caught me completely off guard. That's right, a third of the way in there is a fantastic plot twist. It might seem from the outset that the book reveals things too quickly, and I would be the first person to say that, but it doesn't get in the way of enjoying the book. In fact it has the opposite effect and made want to keep reading. It made for an incredibly engrossing read that had me wanting to find out what the twists were going to lead two. I did however find the final twist a little bit obvious but I still really enjoyed it. Eileen Cook is really good at throwing her readers for a loop and she definitely did that here.

I also enjoyed the characters here. I feel like Cook does a fantastic job of writing characters that are complex and odious. So many of these characters are doing terrible things for the right reason, or maybe for the wrong reason, but they are still incredibly sympathetic. There are some really terrible characters in this book but I still found my self rooting for them. But the person I rooted for the most was of course Skye. She is one of those characters who wanted to get out of her small town and do more with her life but wasn't sure how to do that. I really identified with her and her struggle in that way. When things went badly for here I was nervous for what that would mean and when things went well I was really happy for her. Cook succeeded in developing characters who were sympathetic in spite of, or maybe because of their mistakes and the mistakes of people around them.

The Hanging Girl is a really fast read. It's only about 320 and because of how engrossing the mystery is I flew through it. I didn't expect to finish it as quickly as I did. With everything that is going on with my life I thought I would have to spend the weekend reading it but I really could not put it down. I finished the book in a few days. Now I do think that maybe that is the book is a little bit more simple than I expected. I didn't find the ending a bit rushed. It seemed like there wasn't really enough attention spent on the big finish and with a book that had great twists throughout I expected the ending to hit just as hard and it didn't. But on the whole that didn't impact my feelings of the book.

The Hanging Girl is a fantastic book with a atmospheric small town setting, a plot full of twists and mystery, and complex and sympathetic characters. It was the perfect fall read for fans of thrillers or anyone looking for a good YA mystery.

I give The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you enjoyed With Malice than I would definitely recommend the author's second thriller. I liked that one more but this is still a really fantastic thriller full of surprises that fans of YA mysteries and thrillers should check out.

About Eileen: 

Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight different languages. Her books have been optioned for film and TV. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her newest book, WITH MALICE, will be out in June 2016. She’s an instructor/mentor with the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio Program. You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two very naughty dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram 

Giveaway Details:  

3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE HANGING GIRL, US Only.

Rafflecopter link: 

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
9/25/2017- Falling For YA - Interview
9/26/2017- My Thoughts Literally - Review
9/27/2017- Novel Novice - Guest Post
9/28/2017- A Dream Within A Dream - Review
9/29/2017- BookHounds YA - Interview

Week Two:
10/2/2017- books and photographs - Review
10/3/2017- Wandering Bark Books - Guest Post
10/4/2017- JustAddaWord - Review
10/5/2017- a GREAT read - Review
10/6/2017- Jump Into Books - Review

Friday, September 22, 2017

Audiobook Review: Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Tower of Dawn
Series: Throne of Glass #6
Written by: Sarah J. Maas
Published: September 5, 2017 by Bloomsbury Children's Books

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: In the next installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, follow Chaol on his sweeping journey to a distant empire. 

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken. 

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them. 

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

I was not planning on reading this right now but I needed a new audiobook and after hearing that it was more complex that originally thought I decided to jump it up the TBR. And I'm so glad that I did. Because seriously, this book was amazing. For one thing, this is more than just a quick Chaol one shot to explain where he has been. This is a complex and elaborate book in the Throne of Glass series. We seriously learn so much about the world and the characters in Tower of Dawn. I want to make one thing clear, if you like the Throne of Glass series and were planning on skipping this one, DON'T. It is essentially reading for the series.

The reason I say this most is the way that Sarah expands the world in this book. First we get to explore the Southern Continent, which is one more land mass in the world that we have yet to see until now. It reminded me a lot of the Western portion of Erilea. There are mountains, desserts, and seas and we got to see all of that. Sarah explains it in immersive details so that you can see each new location and feel like you're there. We also learned a lot more about the people of the Southern Continent. A lot of the book is spent with the khaganate, which is the rulers of the Continent. And oh do they have an interesting succession plan. The khagan always has many children and then when they are about to die they decide which of their children the most worthy of the throne. Needless to say it makes for a lot of scheming and infighting which was totally fascinating to me. In general it was just really interesting to explore a new culture in this book.

But when I say Sarah expands the world in this book I don't just mean physically. I also mean the magically world and the history and mythology that was established in the rest of this series. Tower of Dawn drops some serious knowledge bombs on us about important characters and concepts that have a huge bearing on the final conclusion of this series. So many of them caught me completely off guard and were absolutely fascinating. This is my favorite thing about this series. It'a so elaborate and intricate. I was not expecting to learn much in this book but I did. Oh boy, did I. When the book was over my mind was racing and going a million miles a minute trying to figure what it all means and how it will impact the end game. It was fantastic.

The thing that I don't think was entirely fantastic however was the plot development. Now don't get me wrong, it was engaging and kept me reading from beginning to end, but it wasn't totally what I expect from Sarah. It kind of lacked some cohesion. Or maybe I was missing what the overall arc of this book was. There were a lot of reasons for Chaol and Nesryn to go to Antica and the book really explored all of them, and resolved them, which was nice. But in general it sort of just felt like a way to get the characters somewhere to reveal major information. And that the original reason wasn't the actual reason for the book. I mean this is a 600 page book that was supposed to be a novella. How? In what world could this have been a novella. I mean maybe as Sarah started writing the book just got away from here and it became this, which is fine, but that worries me for the final book in the series. But in general, I just think the world overshadowed the plot. And despite loving the world I needed more from the plot here.

As for the characters, I did really like them. The focus of this book is on Chaol and Nesryn. I've always had a bit of a frustrated enjoyment of Chaol. I think hems a really interesting character in that he is allowed to be incredibly flawed and still heroic. And in this book is goes through a really great journey of self-discovery as he deals with his back being broken. I really liked the way Sarah handled this. It felt very real. I can't speak to the handicapped rep but I have seen some reviews from people who strongly identify with it. But to me, Chaol is all about being a brash self-sacrificing noble idiot. And that Chaol comes out in full force in this book. There were so many moments where I was like "Chaol you giant jerk, why did you say that?" But I still love him because he does acknowledge those screw ups. He's not perfect but he's learning. Nesryn I have less to say about. I never fully connected with Nesryn, either in previous books or this book. She is a great strong female protagonist in that she's complex like all of Sarah's other characters but I just think there are so many more interesting characters in this series.

Speaking of interesting characters, Yrene Towers. As expected the heart from The Assassin and the Healer came back in a big way in this book. And I absolutely loved Yrene. I loved seeing her healing magic at work, I loved seeing her interact with the other characters, I love how fierce and strong she has become, and I like that she is still so caring and kind. Her and Chaol had some really amazing interactions. I think Celaena/Aelin would be so proud of the way that she is able to put Chaol in his place. I can't believe she did it again but Sarah made me ship something different. Not that I ever full committed to Chaol and Nesryn but I wanted him to move on from Aelin. And I was really glad to see him find his equal in Yrene. I didn't think I would but by the end of this book I was shipping those two so hard. And yes, there are some decisions the two of them make that I don't fully agree with but I definitely ship it.

All in all, Tower of Dawn was a really good read. I was expecting an interesting diversion to keep me connected to the Throne of Glass world but I found an elaborate new read with tons of key information for the series and good character development.

I give Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you are a Throne of Glass fan you should definitely pick this one up. It has some really vital information for the series and you will definitely need to read it before the final book. But don't think it won't have you desperately needing that last book in the series because I want it even more now.

Have you read Tower of Dawn? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Life Update: I Quit My Job and I'm Moving

Hi Everyone,
I hope you don't mind but I am taking a break from your regularly scheduled content to talk about something a little bit more personal. Yes, friends, this will not be a post about books. As the title leads you to believe, this is a post about my life. Although it does relate to books and blogging because it may cause a little bit of hiccups from the blog. I'm going to try and maintain my usual schedule but things are going to be very different for the next few weeks. Okay, let's dive right in...

1.) I Quit My Job (and got a new one)

For the past seven and a half years I have worked for a non-profit environmental organization. I don't often talk about my work here or on social media because honestly I just need a break from it. It's nice to have that work/life balance and the blogosphere has definitely helped me balance it all in the past four years that I have been more involved in it.

But the company I work for unites diverse communities to protect the environment and public health and make democracy work for all. I've been a community organizer in that doing a few different things including canvassing, event planning, and working with community groups to speak truth to power. It's a very thankless job. It's the kind of job that never really has a finish line. You just keep plugging away and moving the finish line. And after awhile the thing I liked most about the job became the thing that frustrated me. I felt like I was never going to win and that was just too hard after four years. After some personal struggles with my mental health this winter it became apparent that I needed to move on.

Enter a new opportunity. A friend of mine owns a start up called Interview Connections. It's a company that does online marketing and media with a specialization in podcasts and guest bookings. The company has been growing a lot in the past couple of years. Every time she is hiring she texts me and tells me I should come work for her. This time when she did I said tell me more. Well we talked more seriously and she ended up making a job just for me. I'll be doing the guest bookings, managing the staff, and planning training. I'm really excited for the new challenge and to work with my friend (and a few others who work for the company again).

2.) I'm Moving

Well part of why I had been reluctant in the past to work for my friend is that it would have meant moving. And like to a new apartment, no to three states away. But to be honest, I wanted to move but it was just too much work. So when I said yes I knew it required the move but I was ready for it.

For the past four years I have lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I never expected to be here that long. I assumed that this would just be a few year stop before I went somewhere else. But somewhere along the way I started enjoying Pittsburgh. It's a really cool place. It's not the old industrial Pittsburgh that it used to be. And like a lot of Rust Belt cities there is a lot of focus on revitalizing through science and technology. Plus there's great restaurants and a pretty active arts scene with plenty of festivals, museums, and theater. In the time I have lived here I have also met some amazing people. I joined a book club and made some good friends with the ladies there who also love YA. Special thanks to Michelle from Pink Polka Dot Books who introduced me to the book club and has become a good friend. Also in my time here, my brother and then girlfriend, now wife, moved here. They had a baby about six months ago and I am so in love with that little girl who is my goddaughter. Needless to say, I had a lot of reasons to stay.

And yet I am moving back to Rhode Island. Just after college I moved to Providence, Rhode Island to work for Americorps. One of the first things I heard when I moved there is Rhode Island grows on you. And it definitely grew on me. I lived for six years in Providence and I loved it. In the four years I have lived here in Pittsburgh I have only been back twice and both times it made me realize how much I missed it. I missed the beaches and ocean breezes, I missed the history of the region, I missed the music scene, the food, the neighborhoods, the friends I made there. Rhode Island is the place where I felt like I fit in. It felt right. And so I am so excited to move back.

But.. moving is a lot of work. I have lived in the same apartment for four years and in that time I have accumulated a lot of stuff. Obviously a lot of books. I have five times as much books as I had when I first moved here. But also a lot of other stuff too. A lot of furniture, a lot of clothes, a lot of stuff. I've known I was moving for weeks and I still haven't done much packing. Mostly I have just been culling things from my life. Throwing stuff away, donating stuff, just getting rid of everything that I have collected all these years. But this weekend I spent a lot of time packing and I'm not even close to being ready to move.

I have to be out of my apartment by the end of the month so the next ten days there will be a lot of packing and cleaning. And then I will be spending two days loading up the truck and two days driving back there. My Dad is coming down from NY to drive the truck so I can drive my car which is super helpful. And I have hired movers when we get to RI so we don't have to unload anything. But then I have to unpack everything before I start my new job on the 4th.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well because there is so much work to do in the next two weeks that I am not sure how much time I will have to read. What that means is that I am also not sure how much time I will have to review books and post here on the blog. As much as I want to read in October I am going to have a lot going on in my life. So bear with me if I am not able to post five times a week like I usually like to. I have some posts planned already and a book I have not yet reviewed which comes out in October so I won't totally disappear, but still.

Okay, that is all I got. That is my life update for the time being. I will still be around and you can always tweet me. I hope to come back in the same way I was before but until I know for sure how everything will go with the new job I don't know. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hunting Prince Dracula Blog Tour: Interview with Author Kerri Maniscalco and Giveaway

I'm so excited to be a part of the blog tour for this book. If you saw my review on Monday you know that I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper (it was one of my favorite books of last year), and I was not disappointed by Hunting Prince Dracula (it will probably be one of my favorite books of this year). So I was really happy to help spread the word about this book.

In addition to that, I really like Kerri. I've been chatting with her on Twitter for over awhile now and I was able to meet her both at BEA in 2016 and at ALA this year. She is just a total sweetheart. So because of that I am super excited to have an interview with Kerri.

Hunting Prince Dracula
(Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)
by Kerri Maniscalso
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

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Synopsis: In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller 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?

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.

Hi, Kerri! I'm so excited tobe able to ask you a few questions. I loved your debut Stalking Jack the Ripper and I can't wait to read the sequel Hunting Prince Dracula. I'm excited for our readers to learn more about you and the book. Okay, let's dive right in.

Thank you so much! I’m excited about the questions and am so excited to be here!

General Questions About The Book

Can you explain the series in ten words or less?

Sure! Victorian Era Gothic Nancy Drew meets Sherlock.

How would you describe the main characters of Audrey Rose and Thomas? What Hogwarts Houses would you sort them in?

I LOVE this question! I usually describe HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA inHP terms: (a forensic academy full of Slytherins go Ravenclaw on each other while trying to solve murders in Dracula’s castle), so this is fabulous. I think they’d both be sorted into Ravenclaw, though they do have some maybe Raverin.

(As a Slytherclaw myself I love this answer. I told Kerri when she said this on Twitter that this is my personal Hero's Journey because I was a teenage Slytherin but now I'm a total Ravenclaw.)

What can you tell us about the setting of the book? I know in this one we are headed to Romania.

Most of the setting takes place at Bran Castle, which is a magnificent fortress located in the his-toric region of Romania known as Transylvania. I’ve definitely taken liberties with the interior ofthe castle and have included really fun, subterranean tunnels for the characters to explore. It’s filled with chambers that feature “fun” surprises for them.

 What inspired you to write this series?

I really wanted to read a book about a girl like me—one who loves forensic science. My grand-mother was always one of my biggest supporters, so I used my love of forensics and my grandmother’s love of“whodunits” and came up with the idea of a gothic Nancy Drew-type series. Women in STEM are amazing and it felt right to feature that passion in my main character.

Do you have a favorite scene? One that you’re excited for readers to experience? (No spoilers of course).

I do! There’s a scene in HPD that I’ve been holding back on since SJTR and it has to do with Thomas Cresswell. I think readers will totally know the scene when they get to that chapter...I believe it’s 29. 

This series involves solving unsolved murders. What unsolved crime would you want to solve?

I still stand by wanting to know who Jack the Ripper really was—his case is still so captivating after all of these years, it would be nice to have closure. I also have always been intrigued by the Black Dahlia case.

Questions About Your Writing Process.

When you write are you a plotter or a pantser?

A little of both, actually. I always have an idea of how I want the story to play out—a lot of times I’ll write out character sheets with details of all the players before I begin. I also like to write up a short three or four hundred word blurb for myself. (Much like the sort of jacket copy you read on books.)

I also have this thing called the “The 3 C’s”of drafting I sort of live by:
1. Cursing
2. Crying
3. Chocolate

I know a lot of writers listen to music, and some use Pinterest to visualize everything. How do you get into the frame of mind to write?

I ADORE using my Pinterest board! I’m a visual person, so anytime I can find a picture that’s similar to what’s in my head, I’m in a happy place. I also am a huge fan of taking writing breaks to listen to music that sets a certain mood or atmosphere for whichever scene I’m currently working on.

I love your Pintrest board! It was how I got verification that I was right about how this book was going to be about Dracula after I read SJTR. Before seeing that it was just a theory. If you want to check out Kerri's Pinterest here it is.

Which book was harder to write, this book or the first book in the series and why?

Definitely HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA! I was terrified of the second book curse, and writing to deadline is SO HARD. I normally like to write in a linear fashion...starting from chapter one and going on until I reach the end, editing as I go to fine tune it before sending it off to critique partners, revising, rinsing and repeating until my dark heart’s content. Deadline writing is much different. I wrote scenes out of order (based on what was feeling like the most natural scene for me that day), and fit it all together chapter by chapter. It was stressful since it wasn’t my usual process, but I actually love writing that way now!

When you were writing did you start with the setting or the plot?

Before I started drafting SJTR I’d say I started with the setting. I knew I wanted to write about a girl who studied forensics, sort of have her be a female Dr. Watson, but thought there needed to be more tension based on why that would be difficult for her. When I read about some badass female doctors during the 1840’s and beyond, I knew I wanted to set it in the 19th century. After that, there was only one case that jumped out, waving its hands to be solved by this brave heroine.

What research did you do for the book?

I think it might be easier to ask what research I didn’t do;) Everything. From the setting to the dresses to Victorian protocol to upper class versus lower class, folklore regarding strigoi and pricolici, research on Vlad the Impaler and his family, the list truly goes on and on.

Questions About You

Favorite book?

I have several that I reread occasionally, but growing up I loved WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS by Shel Silverstein.

Favorite TV show?

I LOVED the Victoria series on PBS and can’t wait for the second season.

Favorite Movie?

I’m a huge fan of Shakespeare and absolutely LOVE Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo and Juliet.

Favorite Song?

Ohh. Too hard! I listen to songs based on mood and it changes often. Right now I’m listening to“Burial”by Miike Snow.

Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat?

Wonderland, Fantasia, and Velaris.

Name a recent book that you read which would recommend to our book lovers.

GIRL AT THE GRAVE by Teri Bailey Black which is perfect for fans of SJTR, or SKY IN THE DEEP by Adrienne Young, this epic Viking-inspired fantasy. Both are coming out in 2018 and need to be on everyone’s pre-order lists.

Oh, I want to read Sky In the Deep. It's one of my most excited debut of next year. I'll have to look into Girl at the Grave though.

If you were trapped on a desert island what would your island be made of?

 Mangoes. I could eat them all day long. Oh...are we talking about food this just me? If not food, then abalone shells. Totally not functional but it would be gorgeous at sunrise and sunset!

That sounds amazing and totally realistic. I'm sure somewhere out there is an island full of mangoes and one full of shells. I mean I have definitely seen beaches made out of shells. It must exist.

Thanks so much for being here Kerri. It was my pleasure getting to interview you and get to know you a little bit more.

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.

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There you have it folks, my interview with Kerri Maniscalco, author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series including the newly released Hunting Prince Dracula. Hunting Prince Dracula is officially out there in the world so get yourself to a bookstore and pick it up. It's soooo good. If you need a little encouragement here is my review which was posted Monday. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!