Reviews

Review: Escaping From Houdini ~ by Kerri Maniscalco

Review: Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) ~ by Kerri Maniscalco

416 pages ~ Young Adult, Historical Fiction

2018~ Jimmy Patterson

My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description: Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

My Thoughts:

Both Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula are two of my favorite YA historical fiction novels. Kerri Maniscalco does an amazing job of capturing the Victorian aesthetic. All her books have a very “vintage detective” feel (for lack of a better word)- kind of Agatha Christie meets Nancy Drew. It was so much fun being back with my favorite sleuthing Victorian lovebirds. Everything we love about them is still there, but we also get to see them grow as individuals too. This crime was as unpredictable and fascinating as the other two books, and I loved following along with all of the clues- though they didn’t do me much good in figuring out the murderer. It was a great ride from start to finish.

Below were some highlights for me:

  • The whole set up of the Moonlight Carnival was amazing! The performers all had interesting backstories that connected so well with their talents. Their talents were also so unique to Victorian carnivals. They were all mysterious, and a little creepy, but they all still felt really likable to me. Methosopholes was the perfect mysterious, master of ceremony.
  • Like the other two books in the series, this book was full of lovely, rich description- every detail of the ship was covered in detail, the clothing that every character and performer wore, even the food that was served was described in detail.
  • The connection between the tarot cards/playing cards and the murders was next level creepy. I loved getting these clues at each new murder.
  • The murder was completely unpredictable- maybe this is a result of my poor sleuthing skills, but I had absolutely no idea who the killer was. I would like to go back and read some key moments to see if there were any clues that I might have missed.
  • The humor and banter between Thomas and Audrey Rose continued to elicit laughs and smiles from me. Though I would have liked more of it, their relationship/partnership continues to be my favorite part of the series.

Spoiler below:

-The only aspect that I didn’t love was the love triangle. I really appreciate what Maniscalco was doing by adding in another potential love interest for Audrey Rose, and I think it worked in some ways. It was nice to see that Audrey Rose would never settle and that she would continue to question what it is she really wants. I liked that she considered another life and another option for herself. I also liked that Thomas never tried to force Audrey Rose or demand that she choose. He was willing to set her free and support her no matter what she decided. My only issue with the love triangle was that I felt like her interest in Mephistopheles was half-hearted. It was so obvious to me that she was never going to pick him over Thomas, so the whole angst of it all just felt unnecessary and a little forced.

-I actually really like Mephistopheles and I would have liked him more if he had been working with Thomas and Audrey Rose to solve the murders, rather then just trying to seduce Audrey Rose and get her to agree to bargains that were so obviously ploys to get her alone.

-Also, so many of the romantic/flittery moments between Audrey Rose and Mephistopheles felt so similar to some moments between her and Thomas. So it was a little awkward to read.

Overall, this series will forever be one of my favorites. The Victorian world that Maniscalco has created is perfect- I love the aesthetic and feel of each destination. From the Gothic streets of London to Bran Castle, and now to a deadly floating carnival. Thomas and Audrey Rose are so endearing and I love how they work as a team. Both Audrey Rose and Thomas don’t subscribe to typical Victorian beliefs and I love that about them. I have heard the criticism that this makes them unrealistic characters, but I find it really refreshing. It is great to read about a strong confident Victorian girl who refuses to accept society’s role for her. And a Victorian boy who sees the girl he loves as an equal and a partner. I’m so excited that there is another book coming! Hopefully next year. I Can’t wait for another adventure with these two.

As always, I would love to hear from you! Happy reading, everyone!  

For more information on Kerri Maniscalco and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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Reviews

Review: Siege and Storm ~ by Leigh Bardugo

Review: Siege and Storm ~ by Leigh Bardugo

358 pages ~ Genre: YA Fantasy

2013 ~ Henry Holt and Company

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Description: Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

My Thoughts:

I really loved Shadow and Bone, but Siege and Storm had so much more action, humor, intrigue, plus- Nikolai! This series just got even better!

Here’s were some highlights for me:

  • Alina’s draw to the Darkling in this book was the most fascinating element for me- her subconscious need to understand him and the hidden truth that he is the only one that will ever be able to understand her- added such a great underlying tension to the plot.

“Like calls to like.” “There are no others like us, Alina. And there never will be.”

  • Alina’s own shadows – I loved how this book played with the difference between the Darklings ‘merzost’ and the Grisha’s small science. It felt like Alina’s fascination with the Darkling and his nivhevo’ya were foreshadowing her own eventual battle with her own “shadows.” I loved how this played with the idea of light and dark existing in all of us.
  • The addition of Nikolai (aka Sturmhond)- The “too clever fox” was seriously a perfect addition to this series. His witty retorts made this book so much fun and brought a lightheartedness that was missing in the first book.
  • Alina as the leader of the Grisha Army was another amazing element in this book- watching her assert her authority and command a room was inspiring. The “war room” scenes were giving me major Daenerys vibes.
  • The imperfect relationship between Alina and Mal- It’s obvious Mal and Alina love each other, but I thought that it was really refreshing that we didn’t get a “love conquers all” scenario between them. Both Alina and Mal have personal demons that they have to work through and I really liked that these weren’t easily swept aside. They actually had to overcome a lot together and separately in this book, and I’m sure they will have to overcome more as the series continues.
  • Court intrigue – the cat and mouse game between Nikolai and his brother; Alina’s interactions with the King and other members of the court; and we also get the conflict between the Grisha Army and the First Army- all of the intrigue just built this story up so well.

The ending was stress-inducing, so I immediately jumping into Ruin and Rising!

For more information on Leigh Bardugo and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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Reviews

Review: Clockwork Princess ~ by Cassandra Clare

Review: Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices Series book 3)~ by Cassandra Clare

567 pages ~ Young Adult Fantasy

2013~ Simon & Schuster Teen

My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

“Sometimes when you cannot decide what to do, you pretend you are a character in a book, because it is easier to decide what they would do”

My Thoughts:

Ok, now that I have finally finished the whole series, I can reflect back on how I felt going into it. I was honestly not expecting to love it this much. I had watched a few episodes of the Shadowhunter series on Freeform with my daughter and I honestly thought it looked super cheesy. However, I was complete attracted to the Victorian aesthetic and so many people had recommended it. So, I thought at the most it would be a fun fantasy. It was fun, there is tons of action, humor, and romance, but I did not expect to be so moved by these characters and to fall so in love with Cassandra Clare’s writing. She has not only managed to craft a beautiful love story between these characters, but she has thoroughly paid homage to the Victorian era and its literature. Below were some high points for me:

  • My favorite thing about the final book in the series was way that Clare was able to clearly express the bond between Will, Jem, and Tessa, and the love they have for each other.

“They say you cannot love two people equally at once,” she said. “And perhaps for others that is so. But you and Will—you are not like two ordinary people, two people who might have been jealous of each other, or who would have imagined my love for one of them diminished by my love of the other. You merged your souls when you were both children. I could not have loved Will so much if I had not loved you as well. And I could not love you as I do if I had not loved Will as I did.”

  • Clare is also so good with plot! Sometimes with fantasy the epicness of the plot can overshadow what is going on with the characters. Here, the dangers which the characters were up against (Mormain, the automatons, ect), mirrored their own internal struggles, questions, and shortcomings. Everything just melded together so well.
  • I know I mentioned this in my Clockwork Angel review, but I just love the way Clare was able to make the novels feel so Victorian. This consistently kept me immersed in that era as I read.
  • The parabatai connection between Will and Jem was so beautiful described in this book- the rune, the knife, glimpses of the ritual- I loved this element of their bond and the way Clare made it feel so scared and otherworldly.
  • There are so many great minor characters here:

Magnus Bane – his need to protect Will and his desire to find true love despite his impossibly long and tedious existence

Woolsey Scott – the aesthete-werewolf – his snarky loathing of everything

Henry – his inability to make anything that works, but still be completely charming

Sophie- who is finally able to fight for herself and what she wants 

  • Lastly- I loved that the final message of the book was connected to human goodness and redemption. That although we are such flawed creatures, there is always the potential for goodness.

“There was human goodness in the world, she thought- all caught up with desires and dreams, regrets and bitterness, resentments and power, but it was there.”

There was so much tragic beauty in these novels and I won’t soon forget these characters.  Ok, I’m obviously complete trash for these books and should probably end my rant now.

For more information on Cassandra Clare and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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Reviews

Review: Clockwork Prince ~ by Cassandra Clare

Review: Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices Series book 2)~ by Cassandra Clare

498 pages ~ Young Adult Fantasy

2015~ Simon & Schuster Teen

My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them.

The human heart has hidden treasures,

In secret kept, in silence sealed;

The Thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,

Whose charms were broken if revealed

Charlotte Bronte, “Evening Solace”

My Thoughts: I loved so much about Book 1- The use of Victorian Literature and Poetry, the descriptions of Victorian London, the humor, the inclusion of the Occult, and characters….ahhhh! So much to love! And Book 2 was even better. This book had a much faster pace, the plot held my interest even more than book 1, and although I do not normally like love triangles, this one was so beautifully done that it made this book my favorite in the series so far.

Below were some of my favorite scenes and elements from Book 2:

  • The opening scene of Will in the Cross Bones Graveyard buying ingredients from Ol’ Molly – the ghost who is hunting for her lost wedding ring. This scene was so creepy and gothic!
  • Tessa and Jem visiting the Poet’s corner in Westminster Abbey- this was a special nod to book worms everywhere
  • The Irish Cook, Bridget, who only sings sad Irish ballads all day- this was such a funny addition to normal, trivial parts of the plot and was something that all the characters bonded over
  • I loved how the Shadowhunter world expanded in this book – we get to see the workings of the Clave, the other Institutes, the Silent Brothers, the Mortal Sword, information on Parabatai, and the backstory of other well-known Shadowhunter families like The Herondales.
  • The backstory on Mortmain plus Tessa’s sympathy for him – this added an interesting layer to the “villain” role that Mortmain inhabits especially because he wasn’t actually in this book
  • Victorian outlook on women’s issues was more of a focus in this book. We see Charlotte fighting to keep her position as head of the London Institute against Lightwood, who claims: “women cannot run an Institute; women do not think with logic and discretion but with the emotions of the heart.” We also see Tessa’s own views about women’s sexuality and her belief that women are supposed to be more restrained and sexually chased than men. It was great to see women in this time period challenge these stereotypes and realize their own desires, authority, and power.
  • One of my absolute favorite characters was Woolsey Scott- I loved that he represented the “aesthetes” of Victorian London, he reminded me of Oscar Wilde with his “velvet jacket, knee breeches, and a trailing scarf with paisley print,” and his wit, and humor. He even lives in Chelsea, the artistic, literary area of Victorian London.
  • We also get to see Tessa and Sophie train to fight as Shadowhunters- I loved this element because it showed both girls becoming stronger, more determined, more self aware, and more confident. Tessa especially grows into her role as “Boadicea” in book 2.
  • There is so many different types of love in this book. We have the brotherhood between Jem and Will- these two are two of the best male characters and their devotion to each other was so so lovely; we have restrained, reserved love between Charlotte and Henry; the sweet, protective love between Jem and Tessa; the all consuming, burning-up type of love between Will and Tessa – I thought it was so great to see all of these different types of love represented in a time period that frowned on anything other than “traditional” love.
  • I found Tessa’s love for both Will and Jem to be so authentic and sweet. Her love for each boy was so different, but both felt very real to me. In turn, each boy loves her in such a different way.

“She could not stop herself from comparing the two- Jem with his odd combination of delicacy and strength, and Will like a storm at sea, slate blue and black with brilliant flashes of temper like heat lightning.”

  • I was so nervous going into Book 2 for the love triangle that I felt sure was coming, but Clare really did an amazing job of making this part of the plot feel genuine- it was heartbreaking, but at the end of the book I understood why each character felt the way they did and why they made the choices they did.

I will definitely be moving to my list of favorite YA Fantasy Series, EVER!  As always, I would love to hear from you! Happy reading, everyone!  

Read my review of book 1 of this series, Clockwork Angel – HERE 

For more information on Cassandra Clare and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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Reviews

Review: Clockwork Angel ~ by Cassandra Clare

Review: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices Series book 1)~ by Cassandra Clare

476 pages ~ Young Adult Fantasy

2015~ Simon & Schuster Teen

My Rating: 4.5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Goodreads Description:The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them.

My Thoughts:

As a fan of YA Fantasy I have wanted to read Cassandra Clare’s work for a while now. Although I have heard tons of recommendations on the order in which her books should be read, I decided to go with my gut and start with The Infernal Devices series. I started with this series because I adore the Victorian Era – its literature, ideology, and aesthetic. I just find it fascinating. Knowing that Clare was going to mix up this era with magic, demons, and angel warriors? I was completely on board. I didn’t know what to expect with Clare’s writing, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I loved her use of metaphor, and her gorgeous descriptions of London. She really did justice to the Victorian era in every possible way!

Below were some high points and low points for me:

High Points

  • Connection to Victorian Literature and Poetry- I loved the way that Clare wove Victorian Literature in to the narrative. Every chapter starts with a sample of poetry from this era and they all tied so beautifully to the narrative. Also, since Tessa is a bookworm, so much of the way she sees the world in connected to the books of this era and it was really cool to see how all of these great works of literature colored her outlook on life. The connection to the literature was also double sided because it was used to show a connection between Tessa and Will, and it also works as a connection between the reader and the writer. Overall- this was just brilliantly done!

“Are there any bleak moors in it, shrouded in mysterious mists? Ghostly brides wandering the halls of ruined castles? A handsome fellow rushing to the rescue of a beauteous yet penniless maiden?”

“No,” Magnus said.

“Then Tessa won’t have read it, either.”

  • Victorian aesthetic & historical accuracy -wow, this book was just so….Victorian! Everything felt so on point. From Tessa’s outlook on women and there lack of “blood lust,” Jessamine’s desire to be a “lady,” the illusion to Darwin via the clockwork creatures, Jem’s illness and “opium” addiction, people’s fascination with Jem and his “foreignness,” and the wonderful descriptions of Victorian London, and its fashion. Clare did such a great job of capturing all of this!

“He was staring out at the city, a black outline against the reddened sky. The dome of St. Paul’s shone through the mucky air, and the thames ran like dark strong tea below it, bracketed here and there with the black lines of bridges.”

  • Wit/Humor- The banter between Will, Jem, and Tessa was lovely. Their wit reminded me so much of Oscar Wilde and it seemed to fit so well with this time period.

“One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”

“I’m not sure a book has ever changed me,” said Will. “Well, there is one volume that promised to teach one how to turn oneself into an entire flock of sheep-”

  • Magic and The Occult- Since the Victorians were obsessed with Spiritualism and the Occult, I thought that Clare’s decision to make Mortmain and the other members of the Pandemonium Club “mundanes” added another layer to the Victorian aesthetic of the book- seances, ouija boards, spirit cabinets, ect, but also to their desire to become more powerful via dark magic.

Low Points

  • The only thing that I didn’t love was the foreshadowing of the love triangle. It was glaringly obvious that we can expect a love triangle between Jem, Will, and Tessa. While I am not normally a fan of the love triangle, I do understand how Tessa could eventually fall in love with both Will and Jem. They are both such complex, haunted, and intriguing characters. I am a little apprehensive going forward with this love triangle, but I have a feeling that Clare will make it work.

Overall, this made my Victorian-lovin’ heart very happy! It had all the elements of a great YA Fantasy, plus, an author who clearly set out to pay homage to this era and its literature. I am starting book 2 immediately! Happy reading, everyone!  

For more information on Cassandra Clare and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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Reviews

Review: If We Were Villains ~ by M.L. Rio

Review: If We Were Villains ~ by M.L. Rio

354 pages ~ Adult Fiction, Academia  

2017~ Flatiron Books

My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

Enter the players. There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us. Until that year, we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villains explores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls.

“You can justify anything is you do it poetically enough”

My Thoughts:

There is so much to love about this novel. I am a giant theater nerd, I love Shakespeare, and I loved getting a glimpse into the dark side of this seeming perfect academic world of art and classical scholarship. The aesthetic definitely made my little heart happy. As much as I loved the mood and the mystery element, there were some issues that kept it from being a 5 star read for me. Below were some high points and low points for me:

High Points

  • The discussion of how art imitates life and vice/versa. This was by far my favorite element of the book and I think that the author did a really great job playing with this theme throughout the book. The actors themselves are constantly playing a role, even off stage. So much of who they become is influenced by the roles they are assigned. The martyr, the villain, the savor, ect. “Was I not always his right-hand man, his lieutenant? Banquo or Benvolio or Oliver- little difference.”
  • The appreciation for the power of words was another cool theme that kept coming up: “How could we explain that standing on a stage and speaking someone else’s words as if they are your own is less an act of bravery than a desperate lunge at mutual understanding? An attempt to forge that tenuous link between speaker and listener and communicate something, anything, of substance.”
  • “I need language to live, like food- lexemes and morphemes and morsels of meaning nourish me with the knowledge that, yes, there is a word for this. Someone else has felt it before.”
  • The detailed description of the Dellecher Conversatory, the costumes, the sets, the plays (especially the Halloween Macbeth scene), the old “castle” that the fourth-years live in- I ate up all of this detail and it really set the perfect mood and background for the dark tale.
  • I liked Rio’s decision to write certain scenes as if they were a play themselves, this was a cool stylistic feature – a play within a play.

Low Points

  • Some of the banter between the characters is very cheesy at times. They sometimes hold full conversations only using lines from Shakespeare’s plays. I get that they are Shakespearean scholars and actors, but what 20-somethings talk like this? At one point, one of the characters actually has a nervous breakdown while spouting nothing but lines from their past plays. This was a little unbelievable for me.
  • Towards the beginning of the novel there is a lot of foreshadowing and it felt very over the top. I kept thinking, “ok we get it, something bad is going to happen.”
  • Relationships between characters felt disingenuous at times. A lot of the time the reader is told rather than shown how these characters feel about one another, so it became a little difficult for me to believe in the full force of their feelings.

Overall, I really did enjoy the novel. I would recommend it to fellow theater nerds, fans of Shakespeare, and anyone who also enjoys the darker side of academic life.  However, I would caution readers who are not familiar with the general plots of most of Shakespeare’s works because they might be a little lost when reading this novel. Plays and characters are referred to so often that if you were not familiar, you might spend a lot of time googling. I have read all of the plays that they refer to and I still had to rely on google a few times. I would also suggest reading Donna Tartt’s The Secret History first, if you haven’t already. It is a much better version of this same type of narrative. As always, I would love your thoughts! Happy reading!

For more information on M.L. Rio and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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Reviews

Review: ARC of Tiffany Blues ~ by M.J. Rose

Tiffany Blue Book Image

Review: ARC of Tiffany Blues ~ by M.J. Rose

336 pages ~ Genre: Historical Fiction, 1920s  

August 7th, 2018 ~ Atria Books

My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

New York, 1924. Twenty-four-year-old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall. But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson. As the summer shimmers on, the competition between artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, as series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her. Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculpture, and Oliver, Jenny pushed her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne follows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night wehn Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moments, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.

My Thoughts:

Note: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my review of the novel.

This book had so many elements that I adore in a book, which is why I jumped at the chance to read it and review it. The 1920s, the art world, the forbidden romance, and murder mystery….these are all genres that I gravitate towards. While I really loved the aesthetic and the atmosphere of this book, there were elements of the writing and plot that just didn’t work for me. I definitely enjoyed parts of it, but the mystery element just never seemed to deliver. Below were some high points and low points for me:

High Points

  • Detailed descriptions of Mr. Tiffany’s Laurelton Hall- as a giant history nerd, I really loved the long lovely, detailed descriptions of the Hall and the art within it. This also made the connection to the real life Tiffany and his history, even stronger. I am sure that some people may find these sections a little long, but I just ate them up.
  • Likewise, the description of the setting was fascinating. The combination of the Jazz Age and New York City, made for a stunning backdrop to this story.
  • I really loved Jenny as a heroine- she has a dark and interesting past that makes her very intriguing. Every new piece of her past that came to light made me want to get to know her more and more. I became very attached to Jenny and wanted her to overcome her trauma.
  • Description of the artistic process- I am not an artists, but I am fascinated by the artistic process, so getting these detailed descriptions that really showed Jenny’s passion was a huge bonus for me.

Low Points

  • At the times the writing was just confusing. I wasn’t sure if sometime was happening in the present or if it was a flashback in Jenny’s memory. This became very distracting.
  • Plot was very slow moving- Even though I loved all of the detailed description of the art, the artistic process, and the setting- I just kept waiting for the plot to really take off. I wanted to stay with the mystery and find out more about Jenny’s past. When I did finally get to the bottom of the mystery it felt rushed and slapped together kind of haphazardly. I really hate saying this, because I loved so much of the detail in this book, but I really wanted an engage plot, too. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t a balance between the two here.

Overall, I would still recommend this to someone who loves the 1920s art world, and is looking for a more atmospheric read with lots of detail, but maybe not necessarily something that is very fast paced and suspenseful. Thank you so much to the published and to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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