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Friday, October 21, 2016

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by Kerri Maniscalco \\ Oh the gore!!

Review by Jackie

by Kerri Maniscalco
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: jimmy patterson (September 20, 2016)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
I adore gore. I like my Halloween (all of October, bring on the ghouls and vampires and werewolves) reads to be feisty and bloody and filled with feminist power. Stalking Jack the Ripper was a slam dunk for all of these criteria. When were adding a darling Victorian backdrop, a cold case, and an equally snarky and swoony main guy? I am so here for all of it.

When our darling Audrey Rose loses her mother, she begins to develop a fascination with the dead. With her Uncle as a mentor, her father desperately trying to shield her, and her brother trying to keep her happy, she’s struggling to find her balance between the work she loved (dissection) and the life she’s being shoved into living. When she runs in to her Uncle’s super dashing and super angsty apprentice, Thomas, he makes it known that he’s along for the ride that is her own personal quest to solve the case of Jack the Ripper.

In this she puts together the puzzle pieces, pulls apart bodies, and is betrayed just as often as she trusts.


I’m so sorry. I just had to. This book deserves squealing and skipping and swooning. Talk about a good book. People lurking in the dark, ladies up to their elbows in guts and blood, and a twist in the classic real life mystery: Jack the Ripper. This is one of my favorite murders to read about. It’s so gruesome—showing some of the darkest parts of the human psyche. It’s so interesting—I mean, how could a person rip open another human’s body so brutally and steal their organs? What possesses someone to do that? Are they in their right mind? Can someone be in their right mind if they are able to commit such a horrific act of violence?

These are the thoughts that Audrey Rose is bound to have during her investigation.

The characters, mainly Audrey Rose and Thomas (but I do so adore her fierce cousin too, a true lion wearing sheep skin), are incredibly well fleshed out. I felt like I knew them both. Their fears and hopes and confusion were mine. This, I believe, is one of the most important things in a book. You’ve got to be able to root for something. Why else are you reading the book?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

REBEL GENIUS by Michael Dante DiMartino, Co-Creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender

Review by Natalie

by Michael Dante DiMartino
Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 3 - 7
Series: Rebel Geniuses
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (October 4, 2016)

Goodreads | Amazon
A new fantasy-adventure series from the co-creator of the hit animated shows Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra!

In twelve-year-old Giacomo's Renaissance-inspired world, art is powerful, dangerous, and outlawed. A few artists possess Geniuses, birdlike creatures that are the living embodiment of an artist's creative spirit. Those caught with one face a punishment akin to death, so when Giacomo discovers he has a Genius, he knows he's in serious trouble.

Luckily, he finds safety in a secret studio where young artists and their Geniuses train in sacred geometry to channel their creative energies as weapons. But when a murderous artist goes after the three Sacred Tools--objects that would allow him to destroy the world and everyone in his path―Giacomo and his friends must risk their lives to stop him.
To start, know that I am a devout Avatar: The Last Airbender fan.  I LURVE THAT SHOW.  (The author of this here novel is the creator of Avatar, so major points right there.)


This book is set in an alternate Italy, basically.  The main character's name is Giacomo, and if that's not Italian, I don't know what is.  The whole concept of the novel was so incredibly creative.  Artists have Geniuses which come in the form of birds that wear a crown.  For example, Melina, a fellow character, has a Crane Genius.  The Genius' help with people's artistic ability.  But naturally, some guy took it a little too far and created a Tulpa (a walking, talking person made entirely of clay), which did not sit well with the dictator of Giacomo's hometown.

Michael Dante DiMartino (I WANT THAT NAME) did a great job of explaining everything clearly and creating an adventurous, and really rather perilous, plot.  Giacomo and some friends are in a race against aforementioned bad guy to collect the Creator's (their god) three Sacred Tools.  The journey was incredibly fun and, at times, rather violent.  At one point they have to cross this valley of death where there are invisible lizards that like to chow down on anybody that passes through.  Creepy.  Bloody.  But cool.

I know what you're wondering.  Was there a cabbage man?  No, I'm sorry, but for a brief moment, there was a fruit man.

This book was fun and quick (with cute little drawings every few pages!), but it didn't have a whole lot of world building.  And the mission wasn't completely resolved in the end, I felt, but I don't think is a series.  Overall, it was a solid middle grade adventure.

Happy Reading!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

BLACK WIDOW: Red Vengeance \\ Excerpt and Prize Pack Giveaway!

Hey all you bibliophiles and Marvel fanatics! I have an awesome prize pack for you today! I don't know about you, but I am a HUGE fan of everything Marvel. So, I'm super excited to be able to share this with you.

Thanks so much to Marvel Press for providing us a copy and providing this awesome prize pack! Check it out, and don't miss the excerpt below!

By Margaret Stohl
Release: October 11th, 2016

Goodreads | Amazon
Emotions are dangerous, which is why the graduates of Moscow’s famed spy school the Red Room are taught to keep their enemies close and their loved ones at a distance. Black Widow and Red Widow, also known as Natasha Romanoff and Ava Orlova, forgot that lesson once, and they won’t forget it again.

But the Widows have inherited something else from their shared Moscow past: a relentless need for vengeance—Ivan Somodorov is dead, but his network of terror remains.

While the Widows search South America in order to extinguish a smuggling operation with ties to their old nemesis, their own Red Room not only attempts to assassinate them both but also hacks their secure S.H.I.E.L.D. network. As a result, Ava and Natasha find themselves thrust into a trying mission of international intrigue that takes them throughout the world and back to New York City, where their friends Dante and Sana become unlikely targets as well.

Once again, nothing is as it seems, no one can be trusted, and no one is safe—not unless the Widows can stop a conspiracy involving stolen nuclear warheads, mind-altering chemical weapons, and ultimately, betrayal by old friends and enemies alike.

One (1) winner receives:
  • Copies of both Black Widow: Forever Red and Black Widow: Red Vengeance;
  • a branded Black Widow bag and pin.
*Giveaway open to US addresses only.
 *Prizing and samples provided by Marvel Press.

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Nothing like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, thought Natasha Romanoff— for terrorists, crackpots, and basic criminal scumbags. As always, there were no visions of sugarplums dancing in the Black Widow’s cold red head.  The S.H.I.E.L.D. agent glanced up at the green-needled monolith—dusted with snowflakes and twinkling with lights and Swarovski crystals, the centerpiece of Manhattan’s annual   holiday party—and thought two words.
Merry Christmas?  Try: target package.
Natasha knew that the famed Rockefeller Center tree was larger-than-life in a score of dangerously useful ways. Symbolic significance? Check. Media coverage? Check, check. Mass casualties? Check, check, check. She sighed and touched her earpiece. “Black to base. No sign of their Alpha.”
“Copy that, but don’t park your sleigh just yet, Black.” Coulson’s voice crackled into her ear as she moved through the crowd. “And check in with Red. We’ve lost her signal.”
“Copy that, base. Black out.” She kept moving.
A sea of raised arms, all holding cell-phone cameras, now saluted the hundred-foot Norway spruce from every side, as if the yuletide monstrosity had crash-landed on some worshipful alien planet and assumed the role of supreme leader. Yeah, a planet of sardines, more than a million a day, all packed squirming into one snowy city block, Natasha thought.
And for what? To see a freaking plant.
It was a stormy Saturday afternoon in December, a bad time both for crowds and weather, which meant these were die-hard tree people—Natasha just hoped not literally.
Tourists plus terrorists? That always ends well.
The potential for disaster was staggering. Eyes up, defenses down—not one dazed worshiper was looking anywhere but the supersized tree—even though there was an entire holiday parade moving down Fifth Avenue at the far edge of the block.
Ever since the yuletide crowd had begun to surge and climb over the sludge-banked metal barricades at the edges of Rockefeller Center plaza—the corner of Fifty-Ninth and Fifth—the NYPD had given up. Now they just cursed the cold afternoon, waiting out the end of their shifts on the safe side of the roadblocks, their breath curling upward in raggedy white puffs. And they’re strictly donut patrol, not top command. That had probably been a factor in the strategic acquisition of this target, she thought. Human gridlock with only Paul Blart on your tail—
Natasha touched her ear again. “Red, what’s going on? Ava? You lost?”
All she got back was static.
That’s not a good sound—
“Hey, happy holidays,” said a harried-looking mom in a cheery red fleece, pushing a stroller zippered in plastic up the curb next to Natasha. “Great snowsuit--“
Natasha nodded, eyeing the kid as the patch of red disappeared into the snowflaked crowd. Don’t get distracted, Romanoff. Do your job and maybe this time nobody gets hurt. She hitched her pack higher, pushing on toward Fifth Avenue.
Yeah, right.
The odds were good that this op was going to end in casualties—and that, soon enough, the red in the snow wasn’t going to be fleece. Natasha’s hooded “snowsuit” was a CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear) state-of-the-art mop suit that only resembled snow gear; really, it was lined with filtering charcoal and striped with M-9 detection paper so she could gauge what was being thrown at her in any given hot zone. And the goggles around her neck weren’t for skiing but surviving—a mouth guard flipped down from inside, like a collapsible gas mask. (Dire biological functions aside, the whole getup also lowered the odds that one of the Black Widow’s many superfans would recognize her infamous red hair. Oh, the price of super hero superstardom..)
But it was the contents of her rucksack that really set her apart. Her requisition S.H.I.E.L.D. ruck held an M183 demolition charge assembly with enough C-4 (sixteen charges in all) to flatten a city block, if that’s what it came to.
Unlike the rest of Manhattan, Natasha Romanoff hadn’t come for the tree. She was there to take out the unknown number of hostiles who were plotting to use Rockefeller Center as holiday bait for civilian casualties. Her alpha priority was their leader, who had threatened to launch the largest and most sophisticated chemical-weapons attack in the nation’s history.
When it hit, the Northeast Megalopolis, the Boston-Washington corridor that was home to more than fifty million people, would be flooded with aerosolized chemical particulates. The invisible, odorless microbes would seize control of human neurons and eventually destroy them—unless Natasha could destroy the as-yet-unidentified dispersal devise before the Alpha triggered it, somewhere on this street, sometime on this day, at some point during this parade.
But no pressure.
This wasn’t the first time she had carried a satchel charge through the streets of a populated area; off the top of her head, there had been Pristina and Grozny and Sana’s and Djibouti and Bogotá before now. She had infiltrated Serbian revolutionaries and Chechen guerillas and Yemeni pirates and Somali armed forces and Columbian mercenaries—but then, they had already known they were at war. It didn’t make the ops any less devastating, only less of a surprise; those buildings had long been riddled by bullets, roads ravaged from IEDs, walls chiseled with rat holes for hostiles at every turn. Those cities had become operational theaters way before she’d gotten the call; everyone who could leave had already left.
At least, that was how Natasha had rationalized it to herself.
This, on the other hand, was midtown Manhattan. This was a holiday attack perpetuated on American soil in the clear light of day during prime traffic for the highest-density urban population in the country. It was the sort of bad business only attempted by the depraved coalition of psychopaths grasping for global attention—because it worked. Every lethal move the opposition made brought them closer to achieving the desired result, to producing the headlines—the worst! the deadliest! the bloodiest!—that could shape or rule an era and force a country to its knees.
Not if someone stops them first.
She checked her watch.
Come on, Ava. Where are you?
They didn’t have this kind of time to waste. For the next two hours, the parade would still be going, and Rockefeller Center would still be jammed with civilians. The timing wasn’t an accident. Pearl Harbor was hit at 7:53 a.m.; the first of the Twin Towers was 8:45 a.m. If the attack succeeded, today would be worse by an order of magnitude.
From where Natasha stood, she knew she could shake up a Coke and spray fifty people without so much as tossing it. If she had to use it, the effect of a single stick of C-4 in a place like this, on a day like this, at a time like this, would be unimaginable. If she didn’t use it, the number of people affected by the chemical attack would probably be worse. There was no easy answer, and there never had been.
Twenty-eight years of peace. She’d read it in one of Ava’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy assignments, citing a journalist named Chris Hedges.
That’s all the quiet this planet has ever known, since the beginning of recorded history. How can one person change that?
Even if that one person happened to be the Black Widow.
But it’s not just you; there are two of you now, she scolded herself. I don’t know why you keep forgetting that. Red and Black, remember? You don’t always have to be so alone, Natashkava—
“Natashkava!” She heard Ava’s voice while her back was still turned. “I found the Alpha. Right around the corner. There’s just one thing—“
Natasha heard it in Ava’s voice before she saw it. The flinty hardness, the push of adrenaline that inflected every syllable.
The betrayal.
Her hand went immediately to the back of her waistband.
It’s not there—
Now the voice was louder, harsher. “Touch one hair on that Alpha’s head and I’ll shoot,” Ava said. “And I mean it.”
“I know,” Natasha said, raising her hands in surrender. And as she slowly turned to face all that remained of her family, she also found herself staring down the barrel of her own Glock revolver.


Margaret Stohl is the #1 New York Times best-selling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures novels (also a major motion picture) and the author of the instant New York Times best seller Black Widow: Forever Red, as well as a contributor to multiple Marvel comics. Previously, Margaret was a veteran of the video game industry, working as a writer and designer before co-founding 7 Studios with Lewis Peterson.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

THE LOVELY RECKLESS by Kami Garcia\\ Giveaway

by Kami Garcia
Goodreads | Amazon
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia, a contemporary romance full of loss, love and redemption…

Seventeen year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad―an undercover cop. She transfers to public school in the Downs, where fistfights in the halls don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him . . . and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

Your own heart will race with each page turn of this heart-stopping star-crossed love story.

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Kami Garcia is the #1 New York Times, USA Today & international bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures and Dangerous Creatures novels. Kami’s solo series, The Legion, includes the instant New York Times bestseller UNBREAKABLE, and the sequel UNMARKED. Her forthcoming YA contemporary romance THE LOVELY RECKLESS releases on October 4, 2016, followed by THE X-FILESORIGINS: AGENT OF CHAOS, a novel about a teenage Fox Mulder, in January 2017, both from Imprint (Macmillan).

Kami was a teacher for seventeen years before co-authoring her first novel on a dare from seven of her students. If she isn’t busy watching Supernatural, Kami can teach you how to escape from a pair of handcuffs or bake a Coca-Cola cake. She lives in Maryland with her family, and their dogs Spike and Oz (named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Visit Kami at and on Twitter and Instagram @kamigarcia.

Kami's Website:

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING || Review and Giveaway

Review by Jackie...

By Jessica Cluess
Series: Kingdom on Fire #1
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Random House (September 20, 2016)
Language: English
Grade Range: 7 and up
Age Range: 12 and up

I am Henrietta Howel.
The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.
The prophesied one.
Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one. 
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettably heroine, and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal. Hand to fans of Libba Bray, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassandra Clare.

Uhm, did you say Victorian magical stuff with lots of attractive guys and betrayal (who doesn’t love a good double cross) and DESTINY?

Oh, honey, I am so there. In A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING, young Henrietta—or Nettie—is many possibly kind of sort of the sorcerer who could save the world. She’s kept the secret of her ability to induce fire from within herself for fear of being persecuted as a witch in this Victorian, magically-aware setting. Sexism is alive in well in some parts, but so is enthusiastic feminism. The lines of friendship, romantic relationships, and Nettie figuring out who (and what) she is makes up the meat of the novel.

Whew. It felt good to get all those words out.

*cracks knuckles*

Now, babes, let’s get into the characters a bit, because these lovely (and not so lovely) folks make up a good portion of what I like about the book. I tend to lean toward character driven novels, and this book certainly read like one. Nettie and Rook (her childhood best friend) are inseparable. The bond of their relationship is my favorite part of the book, and it’s a critically defining feature of the story. Everything that one of them does, they do with the other’s future and safety and happiness in mind. This is the best kind of friendship. It defies the class system and what is considered appropriate for either gender.

The other characters are, of course, the boys at the school, the teachers of magic, and the higher ups to pull stings to make this magical (literally) place what it is. Our two main magic men are unique. One rather reminds me of Mr. Darcy. But, really, I see that man everywhere. There are so many ships that you could ship I mean goodness. I love it. None of them felt forced, which is awesome because I’ve read some love triangle books lately and nope. You don’t know who the betrayer is, who the love fighter, and who is the lover. Alliances are forged, and favorite characters are made.

Finally, there is the plot itself. Along with the personal plot of self-discovery and all that flows around that, there’s also the much bigger picture. The walls of protection around the chosen circle are failing. It’s up to those with magic to protect those without, but nothing is what it seems. At least not quite.

With the brutal and bloody imagery, amazingly crafted relationships, and dark and beautiful setting, I really honestly don’t have much to complain about. I will say that once I put down the book it was harder to get back into it. Once you stop the flow, it’s really stopped. Nettie figuring out who she was and what she was really capable of set up the big picture plot.

Questions are definitely left unanswered, but I’m not itching for the next book. I’ll read it when it comes out, but I’m content with waiting.

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