Tag Archives: mystery

Blog Tour! The Spiritglass Charade

11 Oct

The Spiritglass Charade

Stoker & Holmes #2
Book 1: The Clockwork Scarab

author : colleen gleason

pages : [hardcover] 360

favorite characters : mina & evaline

summary :

After the Affair of the Clockwork Scarab, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes are eager to help Princess Alix with a new case. Seventeen-year-old Willa Aston is obsessed with spiritual mediums, convinced she is speaking with her mother from beyond the grave. What seems like a case of spiritualist fraud quickly devolves into something far more menacing: someone is trying to make Willa “appear lunatic,” using an innocent-looking spiritglass to control her. The list of clues piles up: an unexpected murder, a gang of pickpockets, and the return of vampires to London. But are these events connected? As Uncle Sherlock would say, “there are no coincidences.” It will take all of Mina’s wit and Evaline’s muscle to keep London’s sinister underground at bay.

review:

If you haven’t already started this series, now is the perfect time to begin! You’ll have not one but two amazing mysteries to devour.

I loved The Clockwork Scarab and was infinitely excited when I learned it was going to be part of a series! I felt like there was so much more that could be done with the characters and The Spiritglass Charade really captured not only our leading ladies but the secondary characters as well. Mina and Evaline are truly a force to be reckoned with! I absolutely love seeing such strong women in this setting. As a steampunk book set in the Victorian Era, obviously there’s some sexism going on. Whenever Evaline and Mina need to face this, they kick butt and take no names. Honestly, throughout the entire book I was trying to decide which was my favorite. Maybe Evaline because I wish that I could be more like her, physically overpowering anyone who thought I was too weak to handle them. Or maybe Mina because she’s smart enough to outwit anyone, especially the men who think a woman can’t be an investigative spy.

And all of this is embedded in a wonderful, mysterious plot! I love how these stories are anything but predictable because of the way they unfold. While the ladies investigate, I’m trying to gauge what clue might lead them to their next step, but I only figure it out when they do. Which is wonderful, really, even though I’d like to think that I’d be better at solving mysteries! Sadly, it doesn’t seem like that’ll be my calling.

Another thing that I absolutely love about these books is the writing style. For me, the way an author writes is definitely a make or break situation and Gleason blew me away. Her writing is just the right mixture of cool, detached mystery combined with fantastical, complex imagery. Whatever she writes, I’ll be willing to pick up!

I’d recommend this book to anyone. It’s a fairly quick read. While it’s the kind of series that focuses on a different problem within each novel, you’ll only get the full effect (and love the characters even more!) if you pick up both books . . . and book three, whenever that’s released!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW :

 

 Did something inspire you to write the Stoker & Holmes series?

When I was writing my series about a female vampire hunter who lives in Regency-era England, my editor at the time said I should consider writing a steampunk novel one day.

I had no idea what steampunk was at the time (this was in 2006, when hardly anyone seemed to know what steampunk was!), but I looked it up and was fascinated by the idea of melding a historical setting with technology, literary characters, and an alternate history. So I let the idea perk for several years until I realized I wanted to write a steampunk novel for teens.

Then I began to think about how I would approach something like that, and what cast of characters I’d pull together. I wanted a “girl-power” team—a group of characters that appreciated the strengths and weaknesses of young women (whether they be male or female), because I thought it would be fascinating to juxtapose that sort of power over a time period where the female gender was very repressed—ie, Victorian England.

Add to that the fact that I am a big Sherlock Holmes geek, and wanted to write a female version of that amazing detective—plus my love for vampire hunters—et voilá! The Stoker and Holmes series was born.

What did you find most challenging about writing The Spiritglass Charade?

I would say that the most challenging—but yet most important part—of writing this second book in the series was to make sure both main characters showed some sort of character growth. They have to change somehow between the beginning and the end of the novel, and they will have to continue to change throughout the rest of the series (a planned five books). So not only am I working on significant character development for one character, as in most books, I really have to focus on two of them. So it’s twice the fun!

Have you been influenced by any particular writer’s style?

Yes indeed. When writing the Stoker & Holmes books in particular, I find myself heavily influenced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself (for obvious reasons), as well as Elizabeth Peters, who wrote with such a wry, pedantic, witty style—particularly in her Amelia Peabody books.

Who do you think you’re more like, Evaline or Mina?

Ha! Trick question…with a trick answer. I have elements of both young women in my makeup. I can be controlling, particular, and pedantic like Mina, and I am also socially capable, friendly, and sometimes impetuous like Evaline!

If you could meet any fictional character, who would you pick?

Hermione Granger.

Have you ever had the chance to solve a mystery?

Not in real life, though I’ve written several of them. Probably doesn’t count, though, does it?

What is the last book you read?

I just finished reading Someone in the House (a modern gothic/ghost story) by Barbara Michaels.

So, is anyone else incredibly excited to hear that there will be at least five books in this series! Because I’m so happy.

Follow the  rest of the tour!

 

Day Post Date

Blog

URL
Tuesday 10/7/2014 Esther’s Ever After http://everafteresther.blogspot.com
Wednesday 10/8/2014 Chronicle Books Blog http://www.chroniclebooks.com/blog/
Thursday 10/9/2014 Anna’s Book Blog http://annavivian.blogspot.com/
Friday 10/10/2014 Kid Lit Frenzy www.kidlitfrenzy.com
Saturday 10/11/2014 Caught Between the Pages http://caughtbetweenthepages.wordpress.com
Sunday 10/12/2014 Mother Daughter Book Club http://motherdaughterbookclub.com
Monday 10/13/2014 Cracking the Cover www.crackingthecover.com
Tuesday 10/14/2014 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia http://hauntedorchid.blogspot.com
Wednesday 10/15/2014 Forever Young Adult www.foreveryoungadult.com
Thursday 10/16/2014 SciFiChick.com Http://SciFiChick.com
Friday 10/17/2014 On Emily’s Bookshelf www.onemilysbookshelf.com

 If you’re into Steampunk things, like the world Mina and Evaline live in, think about throwing an awesome Steampunk party!

The Stoker & Holmes Guide to Throwing a Steampunk Party

//www.scribd.com/embeds/235972297/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&show_recommendations=true

Of course, for a party like that, you’ll need a great costume!

 

7 Tips for Making a Steampunk Costume (A Stoker and Holmes Guide)

//www.scribd.com/embeds/235971517/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&show_recommendations=true

 

 Start Reading the First Book!!

Clockwork Scarab Excerpt Scribd

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

20 Dec

The Clockwork Scarab

author : colleen gleason

pages : [hardcover] 356

favorite characters : mina & evaline

summary :

Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

review :

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for ages, ever since I first heard about it! A young adult steampunk novel with Sherlock Holmes’ niece and Bram Stoker’s daughter as the protagonists? How could it not be awesome? I’m so glad that the writing in this book lived up to the fantastic premise because I loved every part of this book. Every twist in the plot, every alternating point of view, seemed to fit in perfectly. And then, of course, there were the steampunk elements that I absolutely loved. I really need to read more steampunk books but this version of London impressed me.

Once I finished the book, I was still trying to decide which girl I loved and related to more, Mina or Evaline. They both had their shortcomings and their advantages. I think I’d love to be as badass as Evaline was during her scenes but also feel more intellectual and uncomfortable in social situations like Mina. And the boys in this book! I was really relieved when I found out there’s going to be more than one book because I went into this not knowing whether this would be a series. I don’t feel like I got to know enough of the men in the novel, as mysterious and dashing as they are, and I hope more answers and their backstories will be revealed in the next book. Until then, I’ll eagerly wait and try not to worry about it too much.

This is the kind of book with a setting that immerses me in a new world and left me imagining new stories and details in it. I didn’t want to let it go when I closed the book. I could easily see so many new mysteries these two ladies will need to work together on. I can’t wait to see how their odd partnership develops!

If you like mysteries, steampunk, wonderful leading ladies, and a new series to get addicted to, you should pick up this book!

5/5 stars

The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten

12 Dec

The Tulip Eaters

author : antoinette van heugtan

pages : [hardcover[ 368

favorite characters : anneke & nora

summary ;

In a riveting exploration of the power the past wields over the present, critically acclaimed author Antoinette van Heugten writes the story of a woman whose child’s life hangs in the balance, forcing her to confront the roots of her family’s troubled history in the dark days of World War II…

It’s the stuff of nightmares: Nora de Jong returns home from work one ordinary day to find her mother has been murdered. Her infant daughter is missing. And the only clue is the body of an unknown man on the living-room floor, clutching a Luger in his cold, dead hand.

Frantic to find Rose, Nora puts aside her grief and frustration to start her own search. But the contents of a locked metal box she finds in her parents’ attic leave her with as many questions as answers—and suggest the killer was not a stranger. Saving her daughter means delving deeper into her family’s darkest history, leading Nora half a world away to Amsterdam, where her own unsettled past and memories of painful heartbreak rush back to haunt her.

As Nora feverishly pieces together the truth from an old family diary, she’s drawn back to a city under Nazi occupation, where her mother’s alliances may have long ago sealed her own–and Rose’s—fate.

review :

I’ve always been fascinated with the World War II era and just in the summary of The Tulip Eaters I could see there were going to be aspects included that I haven’t heard or read much about. The Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, the impact that this has had on the people there, was one story that I’d never considered researching further. Combining those aspects of history with modern incidents, this novel seeks to embrace and explain mysteries from both time periods.

I liked not knowing some answers until the end of the book because I found myself second-guessing my assumptions a lot and this helped me realize that this book is very unpredictable. The main, modern focus of the plot can get a little muddled because there are so many different people involved in it, some of whom are mentioned and never brought back into the story again. Nora sometimes makes leaps that I know, logically, would most likely never be made by people, even someone as desperate as her. Even though in reading the story I knew when she was right and wrong because I had more facts than she did, I also knew that she would never had that same level of confidence.

One other part of the book that distracted me somewhat was the prose. Sometimes when the characters were speaking the dialogue was written in a way I knew no one would naturally say.

Of course the plotline was interesting enough to grip me so that I didn’t consider these aspects constantly. I liked the suspense built over time and the dangerous situations Nora placed herself in because she wanted to get her daughter safely back home. I liked the air of mystery around the crime and the historical significance of it. This makes me what to read more by this author to see what else she might come up with!

I’d recommend this book to fans of history, crime novels, and suspense.

5/5 stars

Blog Tour! Second Verse by Jennifer Walkup

24 Nov

Second Verse

author : jennifer walkup

pages : [paperback] 261

memorable quote : My eyes meet his and I understand exactly what he’s saying. He’s my person. He’s my home.

favorite characters : Lange & Vaughn

summary :

Bad things come in threes. In Shady Springs, that includes murder.

Murder Now
Lange Crawford’s move to Shady Springs, Pennsylvania, lands her a group of awesome friends, a major crush on songwriter Vaughn, and life in a haunted, 200-year-old farmhouse. It also brings The Hunt: an infamous murder mystery festival where students solve a fake, gruesome murder scheme during the week of Halloween. Well, supposedly fake.

Murder Then
Weeks before The Hunt, Lange and her friends hold a séance in the farmhouse’s eerie barn. When a voice rushes through, whispering haunting words that only she and Vaughn can hear, Lange realizes it’s begging for help. The mysterious voice leads Lange and Vaughn to uncover letters and photos left behind by a murdered girl, Ginny, and they become obsessed with her story and the horrifying threats that led to her murder.

Murder Yet to Come
But someone doesn’t like their snooping, and Lange and Vaughn begin receiving the same threats that Ginny once did. The mysterious words from the barn become crucial to figuring out Ginny’s past and their own, and how closely the two are connected. They must work fast to uncover the truth or risk finding out if history really does repeat itself.

review :

There is so much more to this book than immediately meets the eye. So much mystery and suspense comes into this plot, and there are so many twists and paranormal elements that I loved and just hadn’t been expecting! Some of it was a little much to comprehend, at first, as it was integrated in the plot. I ended up loving all of these extra elements, even with the building intrigue of the Hunt and the violent past that comes with Lange’s house.

I was trying to solve the mystery alongside Lange and wrongly guessed at what was going on several times. Unlike most YA novels that follow murders and intrigue, I wasn’t actually ever able to come to the right conclusion! I only started to get a feel for what was happening as soon as Lange started to expect it and by then I just couldn’t put the book down because I needed to see how it would all play out.

I really loved Lange and Vaughn. They were so cute together! I like how he kept trying to come up with creative nicknames for her strange name. But didn’t he ever notice that he has an odd name, too? Their personalities meshed so well, I think, because they’re both incredibly creative and really care about the people around them. I liked seeing how they were going to face certain situations and handle the new revelations that were flying at them.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and think that a wide variety of people can as well. It’s written in a simple way yet the style still has a beautiful, ghostly tinge to it that only enhances the plot. I’d recommend this book to fans of mysteries, paranormal books, and YA novels that keep you guessing.

4/5 stars

Darkest Hour by Meg Cabot

17 Aug

Darkest Hour

The Mediator #4
Book 1: Shadowland
Book 2: Ninth Key
Book 3: Reunion

author : meg cabot

pages : [paperback] 316

memorable quote “My mother’s psychologist says I have a over active anger switch, but people just keep pissing me off.”

favorite characters : suze & jesse

summary :

When the nineteenth–century ghost of Maria de Silva wakes her up in the middle of the night, Suze knows this is no ordinary visitation — and not just from the knife at her throat, either. In life, Maria was the fiancee of Jesse — the same Jesse who was murdered a hundred and fifty years before. The same Jesse Suze is in love with.

Maria threatens Suze: The backyard construction must cease. Suze has a pretty good idea what — or rather, who — Maria doesn’t want found. But in solving Jesse’s murder, will Suze end up losing him forever?

review :

This series is just so incredibly brilliant, fun, and gripping I can’t take it any longer. This is a review from a reread of the book, which I haven’t read in a few years and remembered I loved it. It really shows just how clever and awesome a book (especially a YA book) is when it can be read at any point in a person’s life and be enjoyed. There are serious, action-packed parts to this book, funny moments, romance, suspense . . . Anything you could ask for, this book delivers it exceptionally well.

First of all I just need to comment on the writing style and how fabulously it brings us into Suze’s mind. Told in first person, the way it’s written really makes you feel that she’s sitting there telling you this story. It’s wonderfully informal and addictive, like you’re talking to a very articulate best friend. Who happens to have a hot ghost as a roommate, and other murderous ghosts coming after her every so often.

We get to actually hear Jesse’s backstory in this one! Up until now he’s been pointedly mysterious and I love him anyway for that. He’s always been there for Suze and I love the twist in this one-now she needs to be the one there to save him!

There is so much more to this story than the previous three books. Now there’s a deeper plotline and everything isn’t wrapped up so neatly by the end. There’s still a little edge to it, leading you to wonder what exactly will happen in the next book. Which I must start reading immediately!

Because the ending of this one . . .

I’d recommend this book to anybody, any age! There’s always something to enjoy in this series! :D

5/5 stars

Blink Once by Cylin Busby

13 Mar

 

Blink Once

author : cylin busby

pages : [hardcover] 304

favorite characters : west & olivia

summary:

West is a high school senior who has everything going for him until an accident leaves him paralyzed. Strapped down in his hospital bed, slipping in and out of consciousness, West is terrified and alone. Until he meets Olivia.

She’s the girl next door-sort of. A patient in the room next to his, only Olivia can tell what West is thinking, and only Olivia seems to know that the terrible dreams he’s been having are not just a result of his medication. Yet as West comes to rely on Olivia-to love her, even-certain questions pull at him: Why has Olivia been in the hospital for so long? And what does it mean that she is at the center of his nightmares? But the biggest question of all comes when West begins to recover and learns that the mysterious girl he’s fallen in love with has a secret he could never have seen coming.

review :

Wow. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long while and knew that it had the opportunity to be a really powerful read. I love the fantastical element in it of not knowing whether or not Olivia truly exists or if she is just a figment of West’s damaged mind. Because he’s trapped in his hospital bed for so much of the novel, it was definitely at risk for falling flat or trying to overreach and become philosophical in the times when West contemplates this change in his life and what it currently means for him. I love the way that it was all handled and hope to read more from Cylin Busby in the future.

West and Olivia were both imperfect characters just like the rest of the cast and that’s what I think I liked so much about them. Olivia is erratic, with mood swings that generally center around West, while he’s unable to do much more than communicating through blinking his eyes and then attempting to write some things out. But only Olivia is the one who allows him to try this with her. She’s the one he can really come to and he seems to be the only person she’s comfortable around. They need each other desperately and it’s in that that the reader can see that they’re really still two kids who are struggling to get through this stay in the hospital.

I really recommend this book to fans of suspense novels, medical mysteries, odd romance, and intriguing plot lines. I typically lean toward fantasy and dystopia this days so Blink Once is a refreshing voice in the YA genre. If you’re interested in picking up a great YA novel that might be unlike anything you’ve read lately, definitely reach for this one!

5/5 stars

Frozen by Mary Casanova

17 Dec

Frozen

author : mary casanova

pages : [hardcover] 264

favorite characters : owen & sadie

summary :

Sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose hasn’t said a word in eleven years—ever since the day she was found lying in a snowbank during a howling storm. Like her voice, her memories of her mother and what happened that night were frozen.

Set during the roaring 1920s in the beautiful, wild area on Rainy Lake where Minnesota meets Canada, Frozen tells the remarkable story of Sadie Rose, whose mother died under strange circumstances the same night that Sadie Rose was found, unable to speak, in a snowbank. Sadie Rose doesn’t know her last name and has only fleeting memories of her mother—and the conflicting knowledge that her mother had worked in a brothel. Taken in as a foster child by a corrupt senator, Sadie Rose spends every summer along the shores of Rainy Lake, where her silence is both a prison and a sanctuary.

One day, Sadie Rose stumbles on a half dozen faded, scandalous photographs—pictures, she realizes, of her mother. They release a flood of puzzling memories, and these wisps of the past send her at last into the heart of her own life’s great mystery: who was her mother, and how did she die? Why did her mother work in a brothel—did she have a choice? What really happened that night when a five-year-old girl was found shivering in a snowbank, her voice and identity abruptly shattered?

Sadie Rose’s search for her personal truth is laid against a swirling historical drama—a time of prohibition and women winning the right to vote, political corruption, and a fevered fight over the area’s wilderness between a charismatic, unyielding, powerful industrialist and a quiet man battling to save the wide, wild forests and waters of northernmost Minnesota. Frozen is a suspenseful, moving testimonial to the haves and the have-nots, to the power of family and memory, and to the extraordinary strength of a young woman who has lost her voice in nearly every way—but is utterly determined to find it again.

review :

I was originally interested in this book because the concept of an event being so traumatic that it leads to over a decade of silence was interesting to me. But the novel behind the idea seemed to fall flat. It almost felt like there was a good idea, right within reach . . and then everywhere it could have turned in that direction, it went the other way.

I’m trying not to spoil, so one of the main things that annoyed me cannot be detailed. But things from the past that I thought she would have trouble remembered, she recalls with intense detail at the strangest moments and it makes it feel as though she has had these memories with her all along. More than that, she can’t seem to decide whether she wants to fight for herself or give into other people’s expectations of her, sometimes in ways that make no sense.

The romantic interest seemed to be thrown in as a last minute detail. Actually, many parts of the story seemed to be underdeveloped, something I think could have been solved by making the story longer. There were portions of it that were interesting and I wanted to learn more about that were simply left behind and never mentioned again, something that greatly distracted my reading.

I had high hopes for Frozen, but they grew colder the longer I immersed myself within the pages. Especially the ending. While I did like the turn that it took, again, it fell flat and just felt monotonous.

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