Book Review | Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

33784373After the tragic events that occurred in London, Audrey Rose and Thomas have travelled to Romania to attend a prestigious medical school. Love is brewing, Audrey Rose and Thomas are finally able to learn together; but death has followed them everywhere. With bodies turning up drained of blood, Audrey Rose is wondering if the rumours are true: that Dracula has arisen from the dead… 

I. loved. this. book.

After ripping (heh) through Maniscalco’s first book, Stalking Jack the Ripper, I knew that I was going to love this one. I wouldn’t say that it is better than Jack, and although I think that I actually preferred that one, this certainly does not suffer from second book syndrome.

Why did I enjoy book 1 more? Well, I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I think it’s the excitement. Audrey Rose was suffering a great deal throughout this book, battling depression and grief, and I feel like she didn’t have this weight in book 1. This is no criticism to the author, because it gave a different feel to the book and gave scope for so much character development. It just gave a very different tone to the book, but I liked this far darker version. I think I would like to reread both back to back and come back to this part of my review in the future!

So let’s start with the plot. Whilst I guessed the murderer right at the beginning, I was actually left questioning my decision the entire way through, and that’s what you need in a murder mystery novel. Maniscalco throws in so many red herrings and new ideas that you really are left guessing. She dug up an old myth, and I felt like it was really fascinating how she interweaves history and turns it into this incredible book.

The characters are, of course, brilliant. Audrey Rose and Thomas – ugh, can they just get married and have cute babies already?! I loved the diversity that Maniscalco managed to incorporate despite the time period it is in. I thought that Audrey Rose’s reaction was quite appropriate too – I thought she might have been more shocked, considering lesbianism in the 1800s wasn’t exactly able to be as open as it is nowadays, but she stayed completely true to her character in her response to it.

I think that’s something I really like about Kerri Maniscalco’s writing – her consistently. I find that some writers really exemplify their characters after they find what streaks readers enjoy, but she has managed to mingle character development and consistency throughout both of the novels.

I also liked how there wasn’t a huge jump between books #1 and #2. I feel like, again, this can be a huge mistake some writers make, especially when it’s a book following a debut, and also when lots of readers have had a lot of time between two books. I took a while to find my feet again in Hunting Prince Dracula, but I think that that’s partly because it’s been a year (??) since I read book 1.

Maniscalco set us up brilliantly for book 2, though. The setting was so delicious! I cannot explain how much I loved the setting for this book. It was chosen so well, and I feel like it really helped the book along and to be far more creepy than it could have been!

Overall, these are incredible books and I highly, highly recommend them. I zipped through both of them, and I cannot wait for book 3! I’m excited to see what mystery Maniscalco aims to write about next. I think that it’s a really great concept for a book series – unsolved mysteries that are explored by a really plucky, strong female character.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads
Source: bought from Wordery

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Book Review | The Tinderbox by Hans Christian Anderson

Image result for the tinderbox lbcAnderson’s bittersweet fairy tales propelled their troubled author to international fame and revolutionised children’s writing. – blurb.

Certainly, this book was unexpected. One thing that completely stuck out to me about The Tinderbox and all of the other stories were how personal they are. I felt as I was reading them that I was actually just a little kid in bed being told a story by my dad.

I have actually read retellings of three of the stories in this collection without ever knowing they were by Hans Christian Anderson, and I feel like reading the originals was like finding another little present under the tree the day after Christmas and discovering that it’s for you.

Anderson was a brilliant storyteller, and I feel like this collection really shows off his repertoire. I would dearly love to read more of his stories. They really speak to me, and I feel like I am really drawn into the world, even when the stories are only, say, a couple of hundred words long.

My favourite story in this collection was definitely The Nightingale, the fifth story. It was a story I had never heard before, and yet it was the one that I loved the most! It was a really beautiful story. I think something that differs Anderson from the Grimm brothers was that there are some actual happy endings in Anderson’s stories. In The Nightingale, the ‘bad guy’ doesn’t get their comeuppance, but rather is treated with kindness and respect by the otherwise disregarded nightingale, and I think that this says so much about Anderson as a person. There is so much social commentary just in these little stories, and they really affect you as a reader in just a handful of words.

“Now you see, that was a real story!” – The Princess on the Pea, Hans Christan Anderson

The stories in this collection are: The Tinderbox, Little Claus and Big Claus, The Princess on the Pea, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Nightingale, and The Red Shoes.

The Tinderbox is #23 in the Little Black Classic collection.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads 
Source: bought on Amazon

Book Review | Come Close by Sappho

24874364Beautiful, lyrical poems about love, sexuality, Greece and the Gods. Sappho lived c.630-570 BCE on Lesbos in Ancient Greece. 

Little Black Classics celebrate the range of Penguin Classics; 80 books for Penguin’s 80th birthday! Come Close is LBC #74. 

Sappho is truly one of my favourite poets. People scoff at me for enjoying her poetry and even just talking about it, but try reading this collection and then come to talk to me! Lots of people just think of Sappho as “that lesbian Greek poet with no complete poems” (all of these are true!), but she’s also so much more.

Many of Sappho’s poems were lost to history. A lot have been collected from vases and pottery, but I really love how it’s not complete. I feel like the fact that it isn’t complete actually tells us a lot more! We can invent around it, and, thankfully, the parts which have survived are just beautiful. 

Sappho writes about family, relationships, the gods, and even Troy! I never knew that she wrote about Troy, so having a chapter in this book about Troy was a real pleasant surprise, and I really enjoyed it. The Trojan War is one of my favourite truth-myths, so having it written about by another poet was really pleasing.

I love Sappho, and I also love the Penguin Little Black Classics. I really, really recommend this book (it’s only 80p!) and hope you enjoy some new Ancient Greek poetry.

You can check out my collection of Little Black Classics here!

Book Review | Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

32048554Alice doesn’t believe in luck – at least, not the good kind. But she does believe that she is in love; with her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday, she buys him a lottery ticket as a joke – but to their astonishment, he wins $140 million and changes everything. 

At first it seems like a dream come true, but it quickly spirals into more of a curse than a windfall and Alice begins to wish she could take the ticket back. But she knows that you can’t change time, better than anyone. Will she and Teddy ever find their way back to each other? 

I really enjoyed this novel. I think it’s a really feel-good YA, and I got through it so quickly which was an added bonus. It’s a real dreamy book – both in the way of winning the lottery, and the way it was written! I felt so relaxed reading it, although I was completely unable to put it down. Continue reading

Book Review | Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

30145677A girl locked in battle between Love and Death. A book with a paradise too good to be true. And a castle with a Beast and his servants. 

Belle is captive in the Beast’s castle. She’s befriended the inhabitants – Lumiere, Mrs Potts, Cogsworth, Chip – but she still feels lonely and trapped. Then Nevermore appears in the library. It’s a book full of possibilities – perhaps too many. As Belle begins to spend more and more time within the pages, cracks begin to appear, and she finds that she might have to choose between the Beast and the book. 

What a lovely book! Lost in a Book is actually titled: Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book, and it’s a tie-in to the new film. I think there’s a few like this around at the moment, some called “Twisted Tales”, but thankfully this was not (that) twisted – I mean, apart from the whole Beauty and the Beast story as a whole… but that’s for another time!  Continue reading

Pro-Review Writing Tips | III: Generic Hints and Tips

It’s the finale of my trio of posts! I’ve also written posts on writing the review and writing the book description if you would like to check that out!

Since I’ve been writing reviews for quite a while, I’ve amassed what, I think, are some pretty good tips that I like to use. Some I use every time I write; some on occasion; and some are very rare, and just in the back of my mind.  Continue reading

Pro-Review Writing Tips! | II: Book Description

Last week, I wrote about the writing process of book reviews. This week is writing a book description!

It’s worth saying that not everybody puts a book description in if they choose to write a book review. Some people like to incorporate it into their review part way through, and some, like me sometimes, copy and paste from Goodreads or Amazon.  Continue reading

Pro-Review Writing Tips! | I: The Writing Process

Slight disclaimer: I am by no means the world’s best reviewer. However, I have reviewed a lot of books in my time, and I thought I would share some of my tips of how to make your reviews rock. Or, at least, be mildly interesting.

This is one of three different blog posts in the mini series (they’ll be going up in the next few weeks). This one is (as you have seen) about the writing process of the actual review; then we get onto how to write a rocking book description; and finally just some final hints, tips, and pieces of advice to be a kind and considerate, as well as good, reviewer. Enjoy!  Continue reading

Book Review | A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

30197201Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. – from Goodreads

I absolutely LOVED this book. I was in need of a lovely YA romance, and that’s exactly what this book offered: but with diversity!  Continue reading

6 Ways Of Controlling Your TBR!

We all know that TBR*s are wild and dangerous things. They seem to miraculously grow whenever you turn your back even for the briefest of seconds, and the books just seem to mount up… and up.. and up.

*to be read [pile]

I am also the proud and slightly scared owner of a TBR pile, and I understand how nauseating and scary it can be to see the unread books looming over you and even causing reading slumps. *sigh* Unruly things, these.  Continue reading