Friday, June 28, 2019

Book Review: Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalo

 Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalo
Cover Courtesy of Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:  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 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 Review:  I was blown away by this book! The characters, plot, setting, all of it was incredible! Let me explain further:
  • The attention to detail was impressive, and I appreciated the work the author put in to develop the story and create an enchanting cruise ship. She really took her time, and with each death came a detailed examination of the body (postmortem), clues, and suspense. 
  • This story definitely wasn't predictable, and felt like a very realistic mystery with so many suspects (okay, maybe 5-ish, but my brain can't even handle that lol).
  • Character-wise, I really enjoyed Thomas Cresswell's wit, humor, and sass. The banter between him and Audrey was hilarious. Audrey herself  was also a fun, intelligent protagonist. She was always true to herself, and didn't care what other people thought about her. She also made sure that people trusted her, and didn't give up on her ideas.
Some minor flaws:
  • I have to admit, it did get a bit boring around the last few bodies because of the repetitiveness of the deaths. 
  • The triangle between Thomas, Audrey, and Mephistopheles was unnecessary and annoying. I hadn't even read the two previous books but it was clear that Audrey was making a huge mistake by neglecting Thomas.
  • The title was a bit misleading. I won't divulge too much, though, because I don't want to spoil anything.
If you're a fan of murder mysteries and forensic science and don't mind a bit of gory detail, this one is for you! I rate it 4.5 stars, and can't wait to read the first two books in the series! (Also, I'd recommend reading the first couple of books before this one because it does discuss details of those stories.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer Reading Plans

The Hostess: That Artsy Reader Girl
 Now that school's out, I can finally read books I want to read. English classes' selections are often pretty boring (though there are always a couple of great reads). There's also just something special about reading during the summer; perhaps it's due to my tradition of binge-reading lazily during this season. Anyways, as you can probably guess, I've made quite a few summer reading plans. Here are the books I'm dying to read this summer!

Cover Courtesy of Goodreads
Cover Courtesy of Goodreads
I read the third book in the series before these two, and it is amazing! I'll post a review soon!
Cover Courtesy of Goodreads
If you haven't read Stacey Lee's work, you haven't properly read historical fiction. This one comes out in August and I can't wait!

Cover Courtesy of Goodreads
More histfic!

Covers Courtesy of Goodreads
These look pretty fun!

Cover Courtesy of Goodreads
This one just came out, and usually it takes me months to get access to books after their release dates, but hopefully this time will be different. (Ha! See what I did there?)

I'll be adding more books as summer progresses, of course :). 
Do you have any reading plans of your own? Any suggestions to this list? Tell me below :)

*Also sorry about font inconsistencies between posts. I'll be fixing that in the weeks to come.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Book Review: Pride vs. Pride and Prejudice

Hey everyone! Today I'll be reviewing Pride by Ibi Zoboi, a retelling of Pride and Prejudice.

Cover Courtesy of Goodreads

Goodreads Summary: Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street. Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding. But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all. In a timely update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.
My Review: Firstly, I would definitely recommend actually reading Pride and Prejudice before reading this retelling because half of the book would a lot more sense :). I actually didn't realize this was a retelling until too late, and then I had to go back and read P&P.
That being said, I like Zuri as a protagonist: she has strong opinions, a whole lot of pride, but is also very caring and protective of her sister. Unfortunately, I didn't find any reason for her to hate Darius so early on (at least in P&P Darcy is snobbish to everyone, but that's not really the case in Pride). Also, at least in P&P, we get Darcy's point of view, but we have no clue what Darius is thinking which leads to sudden plot developments instead of a flowing story. I ended up disliking Darius for his random bursts of emotion, and I think the Janae-Ainsley plot line was also not exceptionally written.
However, I have to admit that the story line is fun and pretty similar to P&P. Pride is modernized very well, and I found it relatively realistic (as realistic as P&P can get, anyways). I especially like the way the Charlotte-Collins plot line was modernized. Finally, Pride was diverse, and as briefly mentioned above, I loved Zuri's pride about her culture.
Overall, I'd give Pride 3.5 stars. Though it wasn't quite a great retelling, it did have its fun moments.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Taking Inventory

Whenever I go school supply shopping, I never know how much stuff to buy! I always forget how many notebooks, binders, etc. I used last year. So this year, I'm not going to let that happen!
I decided to take inventory of my school supplies now that the school year is over. I was curious to see if my estimates at the beginning of last year were accurate, and how well my supplies lasted me throughout the year (hint: they didn't last very long). Hopefully, next time you shop, you can use this data to your advantage :).

    Warning: though school is out, I'm still using math ;).

Binder Paper: 5 sheets left/200 bought before school started (but I did borrow many sheets from friends and ripped pages out of my notebook...) = 2.5%
Pencils: 3/27 left (but I bought led at the end of May, so again, they would have run out earlier)= 11%
Notebooks: 9/4 notebooks left/in use (I started out with 4, but ended up having to buy 5 more) = 225%
And since we love statistics, I broke notebooks down even further by subject: History, 2 notebooks; Math, 5 notebooks (!!!); Language, 1 notebook; English: 1 notebook
Sorry for the low quality, Blogger is having issues...
Binders: 1/1 left (yay, it's not even that damaged!) = 100%
Erasers: 5/1 left (technically, I started out with 1 eraser, but I acquired 4 more throughout the year and now I only have one 😢) = 500%
Rulers: 1/2 currently in use (interestingly, I've had this ruler since 3rd grade) = 50%
Protractor/Compass set: 0/1 left (I mean, I think it's somewhere in my room, but I can't really find it and I don't really use it...) = 0%

It turns out that the only accurate prediction was for the binder! As for the rest of the supplies, I had either extra or I had to not enough and went out and bought more. Or I just lost them. Oops.

Anyways, how many of your supplies do you have left? Are you usually left without any pencils by the end of the school year? Tell me below!

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