Friday, November 1, 2019

Books I Read in September and October

There aren't many pictures this month because most of these were ebooks

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
I finished Dracula the day before I left for Scotland and immediately went onto the Barnes and Noble website to order this book for in-store pick-up. I was the second person in the store the next day to pick it up. I just knew this book was going to be amazing, and I was absolutely correct.
This novel follows Audrey Rose and Thomas on a cruise to America. While on the cruise, they attend a carnival show, led my Ring Leader Mephistopheles. The act includes acrobats, knife throwers, the amazing Harry Houdini, and more. What no one was expecting was attendants being murdered. Audrey Rose and Thomas, having just figured out the Dracula murders, once again begin to collect clues and suspicions about who could be killing the cruise-goers. However, when Audrey Rose makes a deal with Mephistopheles, she starts to distance herself from her partner. As you can imagine, I did not like the idea of Audrey Rose getting closer to Mephistopheles and possibly choosing him over Thomas. Thomas didn't like it either. The love triangle did add a very interesting aspect to the story because Audrey Rose did struggle with her new feelings for Mephistopheles while continuing to love Thomas. It was hard to know what was genuine and what was part of the deal. But the boys aren't the only thing on AR's mind. Her cousin makes a surprise appearance on the boat, claiming to be running away to America with the carnival group because she has fallen in love with Houdini. And of course, the dead bodies that keep appearing on the ship.
There is a lot of personal conflict for AR in this novel as her loyalties are testes, probably the most so far in the series. Her loyalty to her cousin. AR didn't think Liza should ruin her reputation by running away with the carnival, but her cousin had always been supportive of her interest in forensics, which was also far from proper. Her loyalty to Thomas. The two of them were always a team, but when she makes a deal with Mephistopheles, he makes her keep things from Thomas. She goes along with it allows her to gain backstage access to the carnival, but Thomas realizes she's keeping things from him. Her loyalty to herself. AR has always been a strong-willed character who doesn't need anyone else. But at the same time, as she's worked her way through all of the murder mysteries, Thomas has been right beside her. For the first time, there is another love interest in her life, which is different and exciting. She finds herself being pulled in different directions. She has to remind herself that she doesn't need a man, but that doesn't mean she doesn't want one. And once she makes her decision on which one, will he want her too?
The one thing I didn't really understand about this novel was the title. Houdini isn't a huge part of the story, and he isn't a suspect any more than the other carnival members. Thomas views Mephistopheles as a major suspect, so I was surprised that his name wasn't in the title instead. But I guess more people recognize the name Houdini as opposed to Mephistopheles.

Becoming the Dark Prince by Kerri Maniscalco
This novella is the end of Escaping from Houdini, but from Thomas's point of view and if you've been reading my blog, you know how much I love getting multiple viewpoints, so I thought this was amazing.
This allows you to learn about Thomas's jealousy of Audrey Rose's relationship with Mephistopheles, a feeling he's never faced before. He constantly has to stop himself from acting on his jealousy for two reasons. 1) He refuses to make his father's prediction of his Vlad the Impaler bloodline taking over, and 2) he always told Audrey Rose she has the choice whether or not to choose him, and he would never pressure her into a decision.
Also, something happens at the end of Houdini that results in Audrey Rose getting hurt while defending Thomas. He struggles to see himself as worthy of Audrey Rose's choice and considers staying in New York without her at the end of the story. But he's still in love with her, so there is a very tense scene between the two of them that decides their future together. I don't want to give too many spoilers, but it was worth reading it from both points of view. This book is only available in e-format.

Ice Hard by Tracy Goodwin*
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Camille doesn't date hockey players. Anymore. Because the last one she was with involved an unplanned pregnancy, marriage, miscarriage, surgery that led to infertility, divorce: in that order. It was hard to come back from, but when Nick comes into her life, Camille needs to rethink her rule. Because Nick isn't the stereotypical hockey player, Camille was used to and divorced from. He was smart, enjoyed documentaries, and down to earth, so she agrees to give it a chance. But when her family life is rocked by a surprise marriage announcement, and her dad fires her from the family business, Camille has to make a choice: stay with the hockey player she's falling for, or go after a great, out of state job opportunity. On the other hand, when Nick fell for Camille, he fell hard, and he wasn't going to give her up easily, he just had to find a way to make her see that she could have everything she wanted for herself and also be with him.
I enjoyed this story. It was a romance with a lot of family drama mixed in. It contained viewpoints from both Camille and Nick, so you were able to know what they were both thinking throughout. The multiple viewpoints allowed you to see Nick fall hard and fast, and Camille allows herself to admit her feelings for the new hockey player in her life.
There was one thing that did confuse me, but I was reading an ARC copy, so it might be different in the final print. At one point, Camille is set to move to Florida but then doesn't. The confusing part was that the change in the decision was never discussed. And time passes, but it's unclear how much time goes by. I wasn't sure if she moved and quickly moved back because she hated it, or she never left at all.
Ice Hot by Tracy Goodwin
This is the first book in the New York Nighthawks Series, but I read it after I read Ice Hard. This one has a similar structure as Ice Hard and most romance novels that I read: they meet, they date, they break up, they end up together in the end. I don't mind this structure at all, but I do like to point it out in case you're over it. This book also alternates viewpoints between Christian and Serena.
This story follows Christian, captain of the Nighthawks, and Serena, a fashion designer. Christian is constantly in the spotlight for being a professional athlete and a captain of a new team that is putting a lot of pressure on him to bring home the Stanley Cup in their first season. Serena is a designer for women who are bigger than a size two. She quickly learns that being seen with Christian gives her publicity - good and bad. Good when their relationship is good, and people appreciate her body positivity message, but bad when she's accused of causing animosity amongst the team. And when Christian decides that breaking up with Serena is the only way to protect her business, she becomes an even bigger target for breaking the captain's heart. Mix in a teammate who's out to sabotage Christian and Serena's strained relationship with her parents, and this book gives a good balance between romance and drama.

The Furies by Katie Lowe*
This book is hard for me to like because I didn't like the main character, but I don't think I was supposed to. I've been learning a lot about writing unlikeable characters and the craft it takes to create someone your readers won't like, but will still follow to the end of the story. Lowe's ability to do this is impressive.
While reading, you get to watch Violet and her friends become more and more evil. They're influenced by one of their teachers who shares stories about The Furies, vengeance seekers from ancient greek mythology. They start partaking in satanic rituals to eliminate anyone who has done them wrong. These events could be argued as coincidental to the girls' rituals, but it happens more than once. Violet and Robin start to enjoy the power and pain they can inflict on others. The other two girls take a little longer to persuade, but eventually, they do. They're basically a group of serial killers. And as you read, you keep hoping they come up with another way to solve their problems, but they just keep killing. However, the spooky concept of the book makes it perfect for Halloween.
Violet's character gets sucked because she's the new girl who wants to belong. She also resembles Emma Frost, the girls' friend who died right before Violet's arrival. She is constantly jealous of Emma and Robin's relationship.
This book left me with a few questions as well. They were partially explained, but I was hoping for some more details on them. These probably won't make any sense to you if you haven't read it yet, but if you have and know the answers please comment below! What was the Dean trying to get Emma to do? Also, Emma's death is described a little bit, but I felt like it needed more. 

Pour Judgement by Heather M. Orgeron
Instagram made me buy it! Yes, this book was brought to my attention by my targeted ads on Instagram. It's a romance staring Rhett, country singer, and Korie, a female trying to break into the world of skateboarding and X Games. They meet through a band member who is also Korie's cousin, but they don't like at each other at first. Then they spend a week together at a couple's retreat and when a photoshopped image of Rhett proposing to Korie goes viral, they decide to play along. Of course, fake dating leads to real dating and when a celebrity is involved so is paparazzi.  Korie calls it quits when a photo of Rhett and another girl get released to the press, but he's not willing to give up on her that quickly.

*I was lucky enough to receive ARC versions of these novels. All opinions are my own.


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