Review: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows & Brodi Ashton

My Plain JaneMy Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A rollicking, ‘spirited’ good time! ((see what I did there?))

My Plain Jane is the second novel released by the Lady Janies (Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows). As with their first collaboration, My Plain Jane this book is full of good humor and replete with pop culture references. Dubbed as Jane Eyre meets the Ghostbusters, this story provides a wacky and fun retelling of the classic with lots of supernatural twists! In addition to this, I was picking up a strong Scooby-Doo vibe. There was something about the gang of characters that came together and the style of the antagonist that gave me those feelings. I adore Scooby-Doo so this worked really well for me!

As with the first book, this story follows the perspectives of three main characters: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre and Alexander Blackwood. Although the characters were fun, I personally didn’t become as invested in them as I did with the characters in My Lady Jane. I am not really sure why. I sort of felt like I didn’t get a chance to know them and their feelings, motivations, etc., as well as in the first one. This may be because there is so much more going on in the action part of the plot in this one. A lot of ghosts and things to follow at Thornfield Hall, London, the Lowood School and everywhere in between!

Although at times it felt a little overdone, overall I think the humorous effect was there and that the varied perspectives of the story wrapped up in a nice, cohesive way. I think the authors are so creative to come up with these twists, it is amusing to think of these classics in a whole new light. Jane Eyre is such a beloved tale though ((one I haven’t read)) that I can see some readers perhaps being sensitive to it being altered in such a huge way. To me, it is all in good fun and to pay homage to such a cherished classic only serves to bring renewed energy towards the original source materials. This is actually the second Jane Eyre retelling I have read this year and I can honestly say, I am much closer to reading it now than ever before.

I had a fun time reading this and felt like it was a great book to read during October! I look forward to seeing what the Lady Janies come up with next!

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Review: The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Darkest Star (Origin, #1)The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4-happy shining stars**

“We were all dark stars, but Luc…he was the darkest.”

The Darkest Star is the first book in a new YA-series written by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This is a companion/spin-off from her hugely popular Lux series. Hold on to your hats Ladies & Gents because I have a confession to make: I have not read the Lux series!!!

Yes, it’s true. I went into this having never read a Jennifer L. Armentrout book and having no idea what the Luxen were all about. I was most pleasantly surprised! I think it is a testament to Armentrout’s skill as a writer that I never for a moment felt lost or like I was missing anything. If I had not heard of the Lux series prior to starting this, I would have never guessed that there was a prior series. So, if you are like me and have never read the Lux series and you don’t really have time or space on your tbr to fit it in, please don’t let that dissuade you. If the synopsis of this one sounds interesting to you, pick it up, have no fear, you will understand everything. That’s a megs_bookrack guarantee!

This book follows teenager, Evie, as she navigates a lot of disturbing revelations about herself. Early on in the story she meets a handsome stranger, Luc, at the club ((you know how it is)) and one thing leads to another and before you know it they are running from the cops, hiding in a broom closet and then seemingly just a part of each others lives from there on out.

I had a lot of fun watching Evie and Luc’s relationship grow. It was heavy in the hate to love feels and I cherish that when the banter is super witty. Luc is a sexy and successful young man…well, actually he is an Origin ((Origin = the child of a Luxen + mutated human)), who is the baddest badass of all. Side Note: the Luxen are an alien race that cohabits Earth with us after they had to flee their own planet.

Through Evie’s new relationship with Luc a lot gets revealed to her about her own past and who she really is. Pretty much anything she thought was real, wasn’t. Poor Evie really gets through for a loop in this book but she handles it as well as could be expected and her growth is satisfying. I look forward to seeing where the next book goes. I have a few ideas of areas/plot lines that I am hoping will be explored but only time will tell!

I really enjoyed Armentrout’s writing style. I found it was relaxed and had a nice, even flow to it. The pace was good and there was a lot of great, natural humor that I found refreshing. I also picked up on some social commentary on issues such as race, immigration, minority communities, fear-mongering, etc. I was surprised by some of the connections I was able to make from what was happening in the book and what has happened in my own country in recent history. I always appreciate when an author throws in real social issues into a fantastical or magical narrative. It feels like finding Easter Eggs.

Overall, I had a great time reading this book. I was impressed with the writing, I found it very easy to read and follow and I appreciated the fact that Armentrout made the story approachable for both new and veteran readers of her material.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Teen, for providing me with an early copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to jump into this world created by Armentrout and am already excited for the next book in the series!

Original: My October just got more interesting – ARC received!

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Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Wicked DeepThe Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Wicked Deep is by far the most eerily beautiful book I have read in a long, long time. I finished this over a week ago and I have been trying to come up with a way to express how this book made me feel. I still can’t quite put my finger on it but damn, whatever it is, I likey and I want more. This will probably be a story I revisit in October for years to come. I’m like…

This book has received a lot of buzz. In this case, I feel it is well deserved. Going in, I wanted one thing out of it =
ATMOSPHERE.

The author delivered that in spades. Her descriptions of the small seaside town of Sparrow, Oregon, of the island, the weather, the tourists, it was 100% relatable to me. I live on a small island myself, one that is a tourist destination and at times can feel exploited because of that, and I can tell you, I could feel the wind, the mist, the fog, the influx of outsiders – the weight of it – it is palatable and I thought that Ernshaw really brought that feeling to life in this book.

Her writing is enchanting and she uses breathtaking descriptions to weave her tale. It read like a modern day fairytale – full of witches, magic, curses, revenge, mystery, love – it checked all of the boxes for a whimsical narrative. I loved how she gave us insights into the times of the Swan sisters as well. That was a neat little twist I wasn’t expecting. The modern and historical were woven together seamlessly and it gave such depth to the story and the characters.

“Love is an enchantress – devious and wild. It sneaks up behind you, soft and gentle and quiet, just before it slits your throat.”

When love stories are combined with ghost stories, I find them so haunting. One of my favorites for bringing these two elements together is Stephen King’s, Bag of Bones. While they are completely different animals, that one being heavily adult and this one very YA, I feel they both combined those two elements to create a spooky and memorable ghost story. Ones that truly get under your skin and sit there; that make you simultaneously warm and cold. I am actually glad this is going to be adapted as I feel it could translate well into more visual media.

Now, the characters…the characters were great! The present day story mainly follows local girl, Penny Talbot. She lives out on Lumiere Island tending the lighthouse with her mother, who isn’t well. Penny is likable, if a bit aloof, but definitely someone you can get behind and cheer for. When a new guy Bo arrives in town, she ends up giving him a job out on the island helping with the lighthouse and other tasks gone to pot since her father disappeared. I enjoyed her relationship with Bo; watching its evolution felt mysterious; that more was hidden right under the surface. The big reveal for me was bloody fantastic! I did not see it coming. I didn’t, maybe I am an idiot but regardless, I felt it was really well done.

My favorite character, of course, was Marguerite Swan. I got strong Slytherin vibes from her. Described as ‘ vengeful & clever…single-minded in her hatred for the town…’ Yep, I dig that. Getting the perspectives on the Swan sisters, as I mentioned above, was a real treat. This story could have been done without that historical element but I am glad that Ernshaw chose to write it this way. Reading and understanding the motivations for ghosts or spirits haunting a person, place or thing, is not something you see a lot of. I really, really enjoyed it.

Overall, I absolutely adored this story. I cannot praise it enough and will absolutely be reading it again! Cheers~

Original: Take my breath away. ((fans self))

I’m utterly heartsick over how beautiful this book is. The magical atmosphere has delved deep into my bones. I definitely need some time to gather my thoughts on this. An absolutely stunning read.

Full review to come…stay tuned!

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Review: Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5-stars!!!

Ahhhh, young love. Isn’t it grand? You know the story, the tale as old as time: girl meets wolf, wolf and girl fall in love, angsty things happen…wait, is that not how the story usually goes?

This story follows two perspectives, Grace, a girl low-key obsessed with the wolves in the woods behind her house, and Sam, a werewolf. Sam has golden eyes and beautiful fur that Grace is instantly drawn too because…gold.

Seriously though, this is a love story between a girl and the werewolf who once saved her life. It was full of teenage drama and I must admit that had 14-to-20 year-old Meg read this book she would have been swooning from now till next year, honey! Needless to say, old Meg, not as thoroughly blown away by the plot.

The first half was difficult for me. More romance than an actual plot. Once I got towards the middle however I felt myself getting sucked into this bizarre storyline in an oddly addictive way…

Then finally, at the end, I’m like, Thank all that is holy that I have the entire series!!! Yep. You read that right, I am now officially a sucker for teenage werewolf love and I am not even upset about it. I am sure the fact that Maggie Stiefvater happens to be a truly good writer definitely aides along my new found addiction. So, thank you Ms. Stiefvater, for that!

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Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows & Brodi Ashton

My Lady JaneMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Continuous fun the whole way through! I loved this. ğŸ’–ğŸŽğŸ’–

My Lady Jane is a fantastical romance loosely based around the life of Lady Jane Grey. Who was Lady Jane Grey?

I mean, I really don’t know. All I can tell you is she was Queen of England for a shockingly short 9-days; hence her nickname the ‘the Nine Days Queen’. As to the circumstances surrounding that = a complete mystery to me. I am choosing from this day forward to believe this amazingly hysterical version of events put forth in these pages by the Lady Janies (Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows & Brodi Ashton).

We get to follow multiple perspectives in this book: Jane, her cousin King Edward and Gifford (“call me G”). There is a really fun and unique ‘narrator directly addressing the reader’ format to this which I found absolutely charming. The fantastical elements were so far out there but again so much fun. That’s pretty much my largest take from this book – reading can be so much fun. I was transported by this story and could see the events playing out in my mind. I loved the different perspectives and felt the characters were well fleshed out with their own very distinct voices.

I always find collaborations like this so impressive. It is surprising to me that a group of three individuals could work so well together that they could create such a seamless narrative. I am excited to see what else these authors put out. I do have a copy of My Plain Jane but I haven’t gotten to it yet. In short, if you are looking for a fast-paced, heart-warming, ton-of-fun book, you should definitely give this one a shot!

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Recommendation: Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie

Hallowe'en Party (Hercule Poirot #39)Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hello Reader Friends!! Are you still trying to find that perfect Halloween read?

Maybe you aren’t a fan of horror or don’t want to be afraid but still want the feeling of the Halloween season? If this is the case, than this may be the perfect book for you!

I read Hallowe’en Party last year on Halloween night and I had a lot of fun with it. This is one of the Hercule Poirot books and if you are a fan of him, his calm and efficient manner in solving mysteries, than what are you waiting for? Pick this one up!

The main plot revolves around a children’s Halloween Party and what one child claims to have witnessed during that party. A murder ((dun dun dun)) Is this kid full of it or what? The atmosphere is definitely Halloweenie but without being frightening and intimidating. Perfect for fans of Christie’s classic ‘whodunit’ formulaic (not meant as shade, I personally find them relaxing) mysteries!

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Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1)Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Stalking Jack the Ripper is the first book in the series of the same name featuring young protagonist Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her charming friend, Thomas Cresswell. Audrey Rose is a great character, although at times a little flat, I liked the idea behind her. A young lady who doesn’t buckle under the pressures of conventional society. Audrey Rose wants to use her mind and more specifically, she wants to use it to study forensic medicine and thusly, crime.

She apprentices with her Uncle, which she has to keep secret from her father and the rest of the world. Her Uncle, who happens to be a forensic scientist, teaches at a local college and advises the local law enforcement on crimes. When the Jack the Ripper killings begin the bodies are brought to her Uncle’s laboratory to be studied and due to that, Audrey Rose becomes interested and tangentially involved with the case. It is during this early stage of the investigation that she first meets Thomas and a sort of hate-to-love relationship begins – one of my favorite YA-tropes. The banter between them is really sweet and Thomas stole my heart as well along the way!

The setting is Victorian London, one of my favorite settings, but for me this didn’t really feel that way. I felt like it could have been set anywhere. The atmosphere wasn’t as rich as I hoped it would be and that is my only real gripe with this book. Well that and the fact that I thought certain sections dragged a bit or were slightly unnecessary.

Overall, I thought the mystery was fun and I liked the risky situations that Audrey Rose put herself in. I definitely plan to continue on with the series. In fact, the last page of this book probably bumped my star rating a half star. I loved how it leaves you off in the perfect spot to have you strongly anticipating the second book. The next book features the legend of Dracula so, totally my aesthetic!

Original: FINALLY getting to this one which I bought when it was a new release a million years ago. This is my first book I am trying to complete for
Spookathon
which will meet challenge #3 to ‘read a book not set in our time period’. Victorian London is my aesthetic and forensic science, yes please! This should be a good one for me!

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Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

The Death of Mrs. WestawayThe Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a twisted tale of long buried secrets and newly developed deceptions. Mostly set at a decrepit old estate property where the coldness gets under your skin, I think I enjoyed the setting most of all. I went into this hoping for a gothic atmosphere that would pull me into the story and that’s exactly what I got.

Our main character, Harriet ‘Hal’ Westaway, is a very young woman down on her luck since the unfortunate hit-and-run death of her beloved mother. One day as she is believing she has hit rock bottom, she receives a letter in the mail announcing that her Grandmother, Hester Westaway, has passed and that she is due to the solicitor’s office to attend the reading of the will as she is named a beneficiary. Harriet, knowing there must be some sort of mistake as her Grandparents died years ago, decides to test her luck and go pretend to be the Harriet Westaway named in the letter. At most she is expecting a small financial payout that will allow her to pay off some debt and perhaps live a little more comfortably. Never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined what would take place once she entered into this dangerous game.

I don’t want to say too much more regarding the plot as I feel it is best to go into it knowing as little as possible. I will say that the family she meets upon traveling to the Westaway estate, Trepassen House, is very interesting indeed and it was a ton of fun watching the truth unfold. Again, to me the setting and atmosphere of this were fantastic. I could picture the cold, the snow, the eerie lake, the attic room with the bars on the windows; the estate was brought to life within the pages. I live for that in a story. At times, I felt I knew the answer to the mystery and I was correct on parts of it, but it was so twisted it was hard to tell until the final reveal whether I was on the right track or not. Truly a lot of fun to read.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes some gothic vibes weaved throughout their mystery/thrillers. My only slight criticism was that the beginning was a little slow. I had this same feeling while reading, The Woman in Cabin 10, another one of Ruth Ware’s books but luckily, for me, the introductory portion of this story didn’t drag quite as much as that one.

In the end, I am so happy that I picked this one up and I will definitely continue reading Ware’s books in future. If this one is any sign, it’s that her works are getting stronger and stronger!

Original: Spookathon Book #2 (read a thriller) – switching up my initial TBR (as I ALWAYS do) and starting this before it’s due back at the library! Excited to start!

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Spookathon Update – Day #3

Hi bookworms! Since it is day 3 of Spookathon, I thought I would provide a quick update on my reading stats thus far. As I had initially anticipated, I have had to switch up my TBR for the week a tiny bit. Basically, I want to be able to complete all 5 challenges but realized after day 1 that I would never be able to get to 5 physical books. Because of this, I decided to pick up an audiobook to complete one of the challenges.

I chose, The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware, to complete the ‘read a thriller’ challenge. If you read my earlier ‘Spookathon TBR’ post, you may remember that initially I had wanted to read Baby Teeth by Zoji Stage. However, that is NOT happening. I just won’t have the time. Now, I did read another Ruth Ware book a few weeks ago, The Woman in Cabin 10 which I rated 3.5-stars. While there were moments I did really like, there were also a lot that were mediocre at best for me. The Death of Mrs. Westaway is her latest book having released in May of this year and I have heard a lot of good things about it.

As I felt with The Woman in Cabin 10, this one also started out a little slow for me but I am over 1/4 of the way in now and it is really starting to pick up. In this one, our main character, Hal (short for Harriet) receives a mysterious letter that her Grandmother has passed and she is set to inherit a vast sum of money. Problem being, they have the wrong Harriet Westaway, as both of Hal’s Grandparents passed away years ago. Being in dire straights financially, Hal decides to take the risk, to travel to the funeral and attempt to impersonate this other Harriet Westaway. I am just to the portion of the book where, the funeral being over, she has traveled back to the manor house and is just meeting with all of the remaining family. Lucky enough for her, the woman whose daughter she is supposed to be is dead and was estranged from her family anyway so no one is yet privy to her deception.

Yeah, so I am liking it so far and cannot wait to see where it ends up. I have about 10-hours left on the audio so a lot of book left to go. We’ll see. I am predicting at least a 4-star for this one, perhaps and hopefully, higher.

I am also currently reading, Stalking Jack the Ripper, by Kerri Maniscalco. This I had on my original tbr to meet the challenge, ‘read a book not set in our time period’. As this book takes place in Victorian London during the time of the infamous Jack the Ripper killings (1888), it perfectly meets that prompt. As luck would have it, and unbeknownst to me prior to opening the book, this also completes the ‘read a book with pictures in it’ challenge, as it has creepy old photos of London, crime scenes, medical abnormalities, etc. I am always a fan of killing two birds with one stone so I was very pleased to make this discovery. I started Stalking Jack the Ripper on Monday and have just over 50-pages left so may actually be finishing it tonight!

Tomorrow the plan is to start The Wicked Deep, by Shea Ernshaw, to complete the ‘read a book with a spooky word in the title’. On Friday or Saturday, I will start Toil and Trouble: 15 Stories of Women & Witchcraft, which will complete the ‘read a book with purple on the cover’ as well as being the ‘group book’ for the readathon. I know there is no way I will finish Toil & Trouble by the time the readathon ends on Sunday but I am going to give it the old college try anyway.

That’s it for now fellow worms! What are you all reading this week? Leave a comment below or contact me on any of my social media platforms – links to the right>>>>

Cheers and happy reading!

Review: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

The Cabin at the End of the WorldThe Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-WTH DID I JUST READ-STARS**

Well, this book launched me into the throes of a full-blown existential crisis.

What is life? What is love? What are words? What does anything mean? Did I just read this? What did I just read? Is there anybody out there? Are you there God, it’s me Meg?

Wen and her Daddies, Andrew and Eric, head off on a family vacation to a little cabin in the woods of New Hampshire to unplug from the world for a while. The cutest little family ever to family. I fell in love with them from the very first chapter and knew immediately that this book would crush my soul. It did.

As Wen is outside catching grasshoppers, cataloging and naming them (as you do), a stranger appears. Wen knows she shouldn’t talk to strangers but this man seems nice and eventually gets her to let down her guard. It’s not until his friends appear that Wen realizes something is horribly wrong.

What happens next is too messed up to even summarize for a review. I was so invested in this. I loved the format and really enjoyed how my mind was screaming, “NOOOOOOOOOOOO” pretty much the entire time. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a tense, slightly brutal read. If you are someone who likes everything to be tied up with a nice little bow at the end however, this may not be the book for you. Tremblay likes to make us think. Really well done!

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