4.5 star, YA

ARC Review: The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

Series: Truly Devious #4

After solving the case of Truly Devious, Stevie Bell investigates her first mystery outside of Ellingham Academy in this spine-chilling and hilarious stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.

Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.

But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls—the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.

Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.

But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive.

**The Box in the Woods comes out June 15, 2021**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

Did you think the story was over? Guess again.

Our favorite high school sleuth, Stevie Bell, is out for the summer. At home, you guessed it, bored. What’s a summer after you (technically) solved the cold case murder mystery of the century? Well, time to jump into another case, right?

While I, maybe like a lot of you who’ve perhaps read the trilogy, thought that was the end, boy am I glad that there’s more! I think I loved this one even more than the previous books. Why? Because:

A) it’s a self contained murder mystery within this one book instead of spread across 3 books where I will forget details and lose suspense with the wait time between novels

B) we already know Stevie and her friends well that it’s like slipping on old shoes and seeing them at their best (or worst) without unnecessary fanfare

Continue reading “ARC Review: The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson”
4.5 star, YA

ARC Review: Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan

A reserved Bangladeshi teenager has twenty-eight days to make the biggest decision of her life after agreeing to fake date her school’s resident bad boy.
How do you make one month last a lifetime?

Karina Ahmed has a plan. Keep her head down, get through high school without a fuss, and follow her parents’ rules—even if it means sacrificing her dreams. When her parents go abroad to Bangladesh for four weeks, Karina expects some peace and quiet. Instead, one simple lie unravels everything.

Karina is my girlfriend.

Tutoring the school’s resident bad boy was already crossing a line. Pretending to date him? Out of the question. But Ace Clyde does everything right—he brings her coffee in the mornings, impresses her friends without trying, and even promises to buy her a dozen books (a week) if she goes along with his fake-dating facade. Though Karina agrees, she can’t help but start counting down the days until her parents come back.

T-minus twenty-eight days until everything returns to normal—but what if Karina no longer wants it to?

**Counting Down with You comes out May 4, 2021**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

I will first say that I do not know too much about Bangladeshi people and culture except the stories I hear from a good friend of mine in grad school. What I do know is that with every culture, there are hardships and this resonated with me in so many ways. Counting Down with You was the emotional rollercoaster romance story centred around a protagonist I could root for and empathize with at the same time in her struggles to fight for herself. This own-voices story was everything I didn’t know I needed in 2021, and I am ecstatic to have found it.

Karina, nicknamed by her family as Myra, has just waved her parents off for a 1-month stay with relatives in their home country of Bangladesh. While they are gone, she finds the sudden freedom from the harsh restrictions her parents have placed on her with regards to school and social life. Normally, she had a curfew to be back from school – yes, not a night-out curfew but to come home directly from school unless she was in the Pre-Med Society meeting. Even tutoring was frowned upon unless it was for something related to STEM. So English, you can kiss that goodbye. As is already obvious, Karina struggled with the sciences and maths while English was her true passion. The premise of this story draws Karina into the path of bad-boy Ace whom she has to tutor in English at the request of her favourite teacher.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan”
4.5 star, YA

Review: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper #2

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine… and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

In this New York Times bestselling sequel to Kerri Maniscalco’s haunting #1 debut Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Kerri Maniscalco does it again! It is honestly rare for sequels to be as good as their predecessors, but I can truly, truly say that this sequel is every bit as good as the original. It perfectly picks up from where we left off, and characters keep moving forwards in their lives, ready to solve the next mystery thrown at them with their powers of deduction. In fact, Andge rates this as a 5 Drink Me Potions, and she actually enjoyed this even a little bit more than book one!

I think I would almost agree that it is better, but there’s just a little bit of the ending that I didn’t find quite as satisfying as I did in the first book. That being said, Maniscalco always manages to surprise me and lead me on this fantastic mystery-solving journey while providing deep and rich characters, and setting it on a very well-researched backdrop of late nineteenth century Europe.

Hunting Prince Dracula once again follows our dynamic duo, Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell, as they journey to the famous castle of Dracula in Romania, vying for spots in one of the top schools for forensic medicine. While it is initially a dream scenario, everything goes drastically downhill (as usual), as bodies are discovered, killed in very peculiar and haunting fashions.

Continue reading “Review: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco”