Monthly Wrap-Ups

2018 Year in Review

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2018 was a really different type of reading year for me. Prior to this year, my reading experiences have mostly been a solitary affair. I have always been a big reader, but other than college, I never really shared my thoughts or opinions on what I read. At least, not beyond my own reading journal. I am so glad that this year I decided to break out of my comfort zone and start blogging. It has really meant a lot to me to have this small space online and to be able to connect with all of you amazing and thoughtful readers and writers. I love hearing your opinions and seeing what you are reading. I can’t wait to see where your reading adventures take you in 2019!

img_3068In reviewing my 2018 reading, my choices were all over the place. From Fantasy to Mystery, Romance and Historical Fiction, I read a little bit of everything. I read a ton of YA Fantasy this year. Besides reading Harry Potter as a teenager, this is the first time I have read so much fantasy. My daughter has been really into reading the last few years and this is her favorite genre. So, I really wanted to share those books with her. It was really fun reading The Throne of Glass, The Shadow and Bone, and The Infernal Devices series with her. My personal favorite in this genre was The Arc of the Scythe (Scythe and Thunderhead) by Neal Shusterman. My Daughter and I also visited the YA’ll West Festival together this year which was an amazing experience. The level of commitment that YA fans have is staggering!

I also read a lot of Literary/Historical Fiction this year: The Immortalists, Alias Grace, The Witches of New York, The Silence of the Girls, and The Heart’s Invisible Furies. My Mystery selections also went really well this year: Lethal White, The Last Time I Lied, and Final Girls. Riley Sager is one of my new favorite mystery authors. As far as romance goes, I read Roomies, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, and London Belongs to Me. Roomies being my favorite romance of the year.

Well, without further ado, here are my top five reads of 2018: (click on the titles to read my full review for each)

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The Heart’s Invisible Furies – Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction:

This was hands down, my favorite book of the year. This book is a thought-provoking, insightful, heartwarming, and bittersweet story of one man, Cyril Avery. As a baby, Cyril is put up for adoption by Catherine Goggin, a young girl who is kicked out of her small parish, country town in Ireland for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Cyril is taken in by a wealthy couple, who have very little time for him and barely notice his existence. He discovers at an early age that he is gay and his relationship with his best friend, Julian Woodbead, proves to be a complicated one. Over the course of the novel, while in the midst of trying to understand his sexuality, and also find real love, Cyril has to navigate the hypocrisy of Irish society at this time (late 1940s-1980s). In his search for identity and meaning, Cyril’s life, just like all of our lives, is filled with moments of blissful happiness and moments of sorrow and loss. However, there are so many moments in this book that come full circle that it leaves you with a feeling of rightness, despite the heartbreak that you witness. The title couldn’t be more perfect. We all carry around burdens, pain, loss, and injustice that become etched on our hearts. These are our “furies,” and as heartbreaking as they may be, they are also part of what makes this life so beautiful.

 

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The Silence of the Girls – Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction:

Barker does something pretty brilliant in this book- she manages to simultaneously celebrate The Iliad (the original source of this story) and challenge it. Her challenge comes in the form of perspective because her story brings to light the thoughts/feelings/struggles/triumphs of the women in this story- who both A) played a crucial role in the politics and the emotion of the story, and B) whose perspectives were woefully left out of the original. However, her book also celebrates the Iliad. She gives you a sense of the majesty of this story and the complexity of its heroes. I honestly can’t say enough about how much I loved this book- it was a breath of fresh air, it was moving, emotional, honest, and beautifully written. If you’re a fan of Greek Mythology/retellings, you should definitely check this out.

img_2958-1Book of Dust– by Philip Pullman – Fantasy:

Philip Pullman is a master craftsman of the slow spun tale. His rich, building, lyrical style is so comforting that it draws you into a parallel universe. The protagonist, Malcolm, is such as smart and likable boy that you can’t help root for him as he gets caught up in this world of political intrigue, scholarship, and magic. If you are a fan of Narnia or Harry Potter, you would definitely enjoy this.

 

3d2832c7-d396-4ed9-9eec-26ae1753cab5Thunderhead– YA Fantasy:

I really loved Scythe, but Thunderhead takes the loose threads from book #1 and spins them into a whole new world of intrigue, danger, and suspense, with some really cool philosophical questions underlining the whole plot. While book #1 focuses on the Scythedom and Rowan and Citra’s place within it, book #2 continues this journey, but with more connection to the Thunderhead- the vast, all-knowing, God-like “server,” that monitors the world. Instead of being privy to the journals of the Scythes, we now get the journals/thoughts of the Thunderhead. The actions of the Scythes and Rowan, woven together with the thoughts of the all-seeing Thunderhead, created a brilliant contrast. If you’re a fan of YA dystopian, do yourself a big favor and read this series. The next book in the series, Toll, comes out in 2019.

 

0d838b18-8cfb-4c17-ad8c-2407b575136cLethal White– Detective/Mystery:

The same attention to detail and suspense that Rowling gives us in HP, works so well in her detective series. Every tiny detail is crafted to come together at the perfect moment, and suddenly, all of the pieces fit together and it is so satisfying. I have loved every Cormoran Strike novel so far, Cuckoo’s Calling being my favorite, but Lethal White was so much more intricate than the other 3 novels. Unlike all of the other Strike novels, we are not dealing with one crime in Lethal White. There is policial corruption, blackmail, and a repressed memory that, for the majority of the book, we’re not even sure is real). The length was completely welcome for me. I wanted to stay with Strike and Robin as long as I could and continue to take in all of the minute details of the case as they unfolded. I would have welcomed another 500 pages if it meant staying with these two a little longer.

Overall, a great year in books for me. Thank you all for being here and sharing with me. Stay tuned for my 2019 reading goals/TBR coming up in a day or so. Happy New Year, everyone! 

Click here: @somewhereinpages to find me on Instagram and here:  erinrossi to find me on Goodreads. 

Happy Reading!

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Reviews

Review ~ Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

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Review: Vengeful ~ by V.E. Schwab

478 pages ~ Adult Fantasy

2018~ TOR

My Rating: 4/5 ✰✰✰✰

Goodreads Description:

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.

Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.

Link to my Vicious- Book 1 Review

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My Thoughts:

Even though I loved Vicious, I actually enjoyed the plot of Vengeful much more. With Vicious I found myself disinterest at times, but Vengeful grabbed me right from the beginning and never let go. The build-up/plot was much more complex and intricate than the first. Schwab is such a skilled writer and there were so many unique themes running through this book. Below were some of the high points for me:

  • My enthusiasm for this book is in large part due to Marcella. She was such a great addition to this story because she added the drama and romance that was lacking in the first book. Her relationship with her husband and their backstory made her revenge and descent into villainy even more poignant. I felt like I really knew her and the motives behind her actions, which is something that was often lacking for Victor and Eli. I loved that Marcella’s character was beautiful and powerful. Schwab did such a great job playing with this femme fatale vibe.

“People looked at Marcella and assumed a whole lot. That a pretty face meant an Empty head, that a girl like her was only after an easy life, that she would be Satisfied with luxury, instead of power- as if you couldn’t have both.”

  • The banter between June and Marcella was also a really great addition. Two powerful females, the hit woman and the mod wife, trying to feel each other and anticipate each other’s moves was really fun to watch.
  • I really loved June as well- she had a very Arya Stark vibe with her “kill list.” She protected Sydney but also tried to empower her by teaching her the value of a family that is chosen rather than the one we are born into. I would have really liked more backstory on June, but maybe Schwab has plans for that.
  • The connection with the mod also gave the book a very cool film noir vibe that I absolutely loved. I can completely see this being made into a film noir style detective mystery complete with black and white stylized cinematography.
  • Eli’s backstory was fascinating. It was so interesting to finally see the motivation behind his actions. His backstory then brought up so many questions about motive. Victor and Eli commit the same crimes but for different reasons- Is Victor less evil because he kills EOs in order to protect Syd, their makeshift family, and find a cure for himself? Do we still consider Eli purely evil once we understand the full extent of his motive? These were all really interesting questions that the book brought up and I actually really liked that it never attempted to answer them. “There are no good men in this game.”- because no one is wholly good or bad.
  • Haverty- AKA: Frankenstein – His desire to tap into what the EOs have was a really cool reflection on Victor and Eli creating their own monsters (themselves). I would have liked more with the doctor at the end of the novel. His role was really shaping up to be something pivotal at the end, but it was over pretty quickly.

What was missing?

  • Ok, my only complaint is really the same complaint that I had with book one. Victor and Eli are supposed to be these legendary friends turned enemies. The inside cover of the book even compares them to “Magneto and Professor X” and “Superman and Lex Luthor.” But because we never get very much of the backstory on the formation of their friendship, I just consistently found it hard to understand their intense hatred for each other and their desire to destroy each other. There is a small flashback to the day they met, but that is it. It was not enough to understand the connection and/or love that they once had for each other. It might seem a little nitpicky, but I just wanted to be more invested in their relationship than I was. Ultimately, it was the side characters that I really ended up investing.

Without giving anything away, the ending does seem to leave you guessing. This could mean a potential continuation of the EO would, I’m not sure, but I would definitely be there for that.

For more information on V.E. Schwab and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Monthly Wrap-Ups

November Wrap-Up

Happy December, Everyone! Time is flying by and now it is full speed ahead into Christmas. November was such a great reading month for me. I managed to read 4 books total, but I didn’t have a lot of time to write up individual reviews throughout the month. So, I thought I would do a monthly wrap-up with 4 mini-reviews. So here goes:

Roomies by Christina Lauren ✰✰✰✰

I was in the mood for something lighthearted and fun over the Thanksgiving weekend and Roomies was a perfect choice. It definitely indulged my weepy romantic side, but it was also really well written. The characterization of both Holland and Calvin was so unique and really gave a sense of the whole person, not just who they were in terms of the relationship and the plot. I loved that the authors included all of their embarrassing moments – including Holland’s obsession with her “hot subway busker,” and Calvin’s marriage lies to his family back home in Ireland. These were all very real and relatable moments. My only complaint here was that I never really questioned either character’s motives in the same way they questioned each other. So it was a little frustrating at times to watch the two of them essentially make up things to be upset about. But overall, this was a perfect feel-good romantic comedy with really adorable characters.

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren ✰✰✰✰

img_1016Ok, full disclosure, I read Roomies so fast that I needed another feelgood romance to finish out the long Thanksgiving weekend. Since I loved Roomies so much, I picked up Josh and Hazel. This was a really cute “friends to lovers” troupe with a fun twist. Ok, Hazel herself is really the twist. She was so unlike any female lead character I’ve read. She is unapologetically over-the-top, loud, blunt, free, and absolutely amazing! I loved that even though she’d been told time and time again that she was “too weird” or “too crazy” she never changed. She never altered herself in any way or attempted to please anyone but herself. For that, I give Christina Lauren a big high five. Hazel’s personality contrasted so well with Josh’s uptight demeanor and they made such a funny pair of opposites. I also really loved the Portland vibes. Having lived there for two years, I can definitely see someone like Hazel being happy and thriving in this amazing city. Thanks for keeping Portland weird Christina Lauren.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager ✰✰✰✰

The second I read that this book took place at a creepy summer camp in upstate New York where a mysterious crime once took place, I was all in. Emma is a prominent New York artist who returns to the summer camp she attended at age 13 to confront the unsolved disappearance of her 3 cabin roommates 15 years prior. Once Emma actually arrives back at the camp, she starts to uncover cryptic clues and messages left by the girls. She has to unravel these clues in order to finally figuring out what happened to them. This novel was so fast paced and kept me guessing the entire time. It led me on a wild goose chase. Emma herself is constantly following different leads and theories, and I was following right along with her. Every time I thought I had it figured out, a new clue appeared and it was right back to square one. With about 5 pages left in the book, I thought everything was nicely wrapped up. I was completely wrong! Another crazy plot twist left me stunned. This was a perfect mystery with a crazy fun plot twist! My only complaint was that at times there was this weird time warp happening- where things happened exactly as they did in the past. Even down to what the camp served for dinner. I am not sure if all of this was intentional, but it took away from the believability at times.

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay ✰✰✰✰

After Halloween, I was really feeling the witchy vibes. Although the plot took a little while to pick-up for me, I loved the mood of this book. Witch grimoires, talking ravens, crafting spells, reading tea leaves- all of this created such an irresistible mood. The 1880s (Gilded Age) New York was the perfect setting for this story- gas lamps, horse-drawn carriages, bowler hats, parasols, plus the growing urbanization of the city. Adelaide, Beatrice, and Eleanor, our witches, are powerful women, but still, have to hide their talents for fear of persecution. With the start of Women’s Suffrage at this time, their little tea shop becomes a safe haven for all women seeking change. The overall message of the story was a really powerful one about what women can accomplish when they come together.

So that is my November Wrap-Up! Here’s to some more cozy holiday reads in December! Happy reading! 

-Erin

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Reviews

Review: Vicious (Villains #1) ~ by V.E. Schwab

Review: Vicious ~ by V.E. Schwab

364 pages ~ Adult Fantasy

2013~ TOR

My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

My Thoughts:

This story was such a unique and interesting twist on what someone would be willing to do to gain power. It reminded me a lot of the film, Flatliners. This film was both horrific to watch, but also strangely insightful for many different reasons. You are watching these kids destroy themselves for the sake of “science” and for the sake of gaining power, and it is kind of traumatizing but fascinating at the same time. But it also brings up so many interesting questions about what role religion and science play in convincing us of what is right and wrong, and how far humans should go in their desire to control life and death.

Below were some high points for me:

  • The blurred line between villain and hero- How do we define a hero or a villain?- it’s really such a messy and complicated question that a lot of books try to grapple with, but Schwab has managed to do it in such a unique way. It’s all about outside perception in this book- how the world perceives Eli and Victor- they are seen as both throughout the book- Victor claims: “these words people threw around – humans, monsters, heroes, villains – to Victor it was all just a matter of semantics. Someone could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labeled a villain for trying to stop them. Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”
  • “The paper called Eli a hero. The word made Victor laugh. Not just because it was absurd, but because it posed a question. If Eli was really a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain? He took a long sip of his drink, tipped his head back against the couch, and decided he could live with that.”
  • Victor’s blackout poetry- “a sight, a civilian hero, nameless, a bad feeling, fearless unarmed, and in the mayhem uninjured. It was a remarkable display.” Victor’s desire to turn his parent’s self-help books into something creative and self-expressive was a really clever element. It felt like a comment on the power that creativity and fiction can have over psychology/self-help.
  • The question of what Religion/Faith can convince us to do- Eli used religion to convince himself that what he was doing was right and part of some divine plan- “the unnatural made natural,” but he is a walking contradiction due to his own status as an EO. I felt like this was Schwab’s clever way of commenting on the dangers of religion and what crimes it can convince us to commit.
  • The “gifts” that can be attributed to God vs. Science- After his “experiment,” Eli attributes his new “gifts” to God’s divine intervention:

Eli: “Why of all the potential powers I ended up with his one. Maybe it’s not random. Maybe there’s some correlation between a person’s character and their resulting ability?

Victor: “According to your thesis, an influx of adrenaline and a desire to survive gave you that talent. Not God. This isn’t divinity, Eli. It’s science and chance.”

  • I thought it was a really fascination twist that a medical student, trained in the power of Science, could attribute the results of a Science experience, to the divine. That he saw himself not as a monster, but an “avenging angel.” Major props to Schwab on this one- this was a fascinating twist.

What was missing?

  • I felt like there wasn’t enough background on Victor and Eli’s relationship. When the eventual rift between the two comes, the intensity of it didn’t feel fully believable to me because I didn’t feel like I knew or understood their previous relationship. The connection between the two wasn’t built up enough to warrant such an intense hatred.
  • Victor and Eli- because I didn’t have much background on them, I didn’t find a lot of connection with them. I think I just wanted to know and understand them more. Because I didn’t, I wasn’t fully invested in who came out on top. I was more concerned about the people who they managed to drag into their feud- mainly Mitch, Sydney, and Dol.

Overall, it was an interesting read with a crazy cool twist on Superheroes vs. Villains. Schwab is a great writer and she managed to seamlessly blend in some really complex questions while also just being purely entertaining and fun! I will definitely be reading Vengeful soon!

For more information on V.E. Schwab and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4) ~ by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

Review: Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4) ~ by Robert Galbraith (Pseudonym of J.K. Rowling)

656 pages ~ Detective, Mystery, Crime

September 2018~ Sphere (Little, Brown, and Co.)

My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

“I seen a kid killed…He strangled it, up by the horse.”

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.

Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott—once his assistant, now a partner in the agency—set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.

And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been—Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much trickier than that.

My Thoughts:

Ok, let’s be honest, I’ll always be a little bias when it comes to Jo Rowling. She gave me one of my favorite series, which has been a constant source of light and love since first reading The Sorcerer’s Stone when I was 17. I can never thank her enough for bringing Harry into the world. That being said, her detective novels deserve the same amount of praise as far as I’m concerned. The attention to detail and suspense that we get in HP, works so well in her detective series. Every tiny detail is crafted to come together at the perfect moment, and suddenly, all of the pieces fit together and it is so satisfying. I have loved every Cormoran Strike novel so far, Cuckoo’s Calling being my favorite, but Lethal White was so much more intricate than the other 3 novels. I can now see why it took so long for this book to finally make it to publication. The level of detail and intersecting plot points make it seriously remarkable. Was it long? Yes. Did I care? No. The length was absolutely necessary when considering the intricacy of the plot and the investigation. Unlike all of the other Strike novels, we are not dealing with one crime in Lethal White. There is policial corruption, blackmail, and a repressed memory that, for the majority of the book, we’re not even sure is real). The length was completely welcome for me. I wanted to stay with Strike and Robin as long as I could and continue to take in all of the minute details of the case as they unfolded. I would have welcomed another 500 pages if it meant staying with these two a little longer.

Below were some high points for me:

  • The Detail!- Unlike most detective novels, where certain pieces of information are withheld from the reader until the perfect moment, Rowling doesn’t do this. The reader gets EVERYTHING! And I mean everything. All of the tiny pieces of the mystery that Strike and Robin are grabbling with and trying to fit together, are given to the reader. You have all the pieces to the puzzle, but like Strike and Robin, you don’t understand how they fit together. Because you have all of the pieces, seeing how they fit together at the end is even more satisfying. This is my absolute favorite element of Rowling’s detective novels, and it is really beautifully done in Lethal White.
  • The Realistic lives of Strike and Robin- If you haven’t noticed, I love these two. They are smart, funny, real, honest, and good, truly good – with no gray area. But now that we are into the 4th book with them, their personalities, their imperfections, and unique way of seeing the world and themselves are really coming through. There is so much of their own inner dialogue in this book and it was great to get to know them even more.
  • Politics: Every member of this diverse cast of characters has a political connection. There’s Jasper Chiswell- the Tory MP; his rich, dysfunction family; Della Winn- the blind, Liberal, Saint-like MP; her sleazy, power-hungry husband – Geriant Winn; Flick Purdue – upper-class daughter, turned Liberal activist; Jimmy Knight- troubled, Liberal activist, bent on bringing down the Tories; his brother- Billy Knight- mentally disturbed and convinced he witnessed a murder when he was young. All of these characters are multi-dimensional, none are wholly good or bad, and you find yourself liking them all at certain points in the novel.  I also loved that no political leaning came out squeaky clean. The Liberal characters (or Whigs in the UK), come out looking just as bad as the Conservatives (Tories), and vice versa.
  • Undercover work for Strike and Robin was new in this novel. There are small moments in the other novels, but we get so much more of it here. This was a really fun element in the novel. It was great to see them both thinking on their feet, taking on new personas, and reacting when things didn’t go as planned.
  • Romance: I have heard the comment so many times that J.K. Rowling can’t write romance, and I really just don’t agree. The subtle moments of tenderness and affection between Strike and Robin are realistic and in tune with their working relationship. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are so many lovely kernels of romance throughout the book- it’s just enough to give you the warm and fuzzies, and leaving you guessing.

Needless to say, I loved it. Rowling continues to be one of the favorite writers, and I can’t wait for book #5. I am keeping my figures crossed that this is planned for 2019. 

For more information on Robert Galbraith and the other Cormoran Strike novels, check out Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

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

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

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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