Part 1: Summary — “Her Dark Curiosity”

book cover for Her Dark Curiosity, featuring a girl in a long black dress overlooking the city of London

“Her Dark Curiosity” is a young adult and science fiction novel by Megan Shepherd. Published by HarperCollinsPublishers, it is the second novel in “The Madman’s Daughter” series and is filled with breathtaking content that will keep you at the edge of your seat.

In the beginning of the book, Juliet Moreau has returned to her hometown, London, after running away from her father’s island. Montgomery had put her in a small boat by herself to send her away and save her from the burning island. Fast-forward a few months later and Juliet finds herself heartbroken and unsure about whether or not Montgomery — or anyone living on the island — survived.

Now alone, Juliet occupies a small attic as her workspace. Her disease is getting even worse, causing her symptoms like shaking hands, dizziness, shifting joints, and many more. Being the skilled daughter of London’s most gifted surgeon, she desperately tries to find a serum that will help her with her disease. She is running out of time, however, with the symptoms getting worse and worse with each passing day.

Finding a cure for her illness is not her only problem. After slicing Dr. Hastings’s wrist for attempting to abuse her, and being put in prison for it, Juliet is always afraid and paranoid. That changes when one of her father’s former colleagues, referred to as Professor Victor von Stein, one of the people who had turned her father in after the scandal, gets her out of prison. Guilty for having left Juliet and her now-dead mother, Evelyn, in the streets, the Professor takes her whole-heartedly into his home.

At this point, Juliet’s life is starting to look more promising. Her best friend, Lucy, might marry Scotland Yard inspector, John Newcastle. She doesn’t really like him, because she likes another mysterious gentleman, but Juliet thinks she will be in good hands for now. Everything seems to be going great. Well, almost great. That is, because of her progressing illness, and something else…

It all started when she went to the meat section of a store. She had become familiar with the butcher after buying animal organs in an attempt to recreate her father’s serum. The butcher tells her that a killer, nicknamed as the “Wolf of Whitechapel”, is roaming the streets of London, killing his victims in a violent way, tearing them apart “like an animal”. When she hears about this, Juliet has a sinking feeling. “That’s how Edward had killed his victims”.

She didn’t think much of it, at first. London is a big city, where many murders happen. Her views toward the recent murders change once she learns the victims’ names. First, Annie Brenton — a “friend” who had stolen a ring, the only thing Juliet had after her mother’s death. Then, Daniel Penderwick — the person who had taken the fortune of Juliet’s family after the scandal. Juliet found the third victim herself, after following traces of blood in the snow. It was the girl-thief who had tried to steal Juliet’s silver buttons not more than half an hour earlier. What was most remarkable, however, was that she found a flower dipped in a pool of blood. She later learns that this type of flower doesn’t grow in London.  This means that someone must have brought it from a tropical place. “Flowers dipped in blood. That is his mark.”

Juliet can’t help but notice a pattern- all the victims had wronged her in the past. That is what she thinks, until the Wolf of Whitechapel kills the Professor. Juliet is, once again, heartbroken; all the Professor had ever done was help her. The real question is what will Juliet do now? Is Edward the Wolf of Whitechapel? Will she find Montgomery? Will she find a cure for her illness, and will her life ever be normal?

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The Hound of the Baskervilles

silhouette of Sherlock Holmes with pipe and magnifying glass

Review by apiazza4

The classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mystery “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is one of Doyle’s greatest stories. When the murder of Sir Charles Baskerville is brought to the attention of the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, by James Mortimer, he will go to any length to find the guilty party. Sir Charles is part of a very wealthy family with a very unfortunate past. The Baskerville family is haunted with the legend of the hound upon their moor. This story starts with Hugo when he falls victim to a hound as he chases a girl across the land. Sir Charles death has restarted these fears and suspicions. Sir Henry Baskerville, the next of kin, has come to London to take his place at Baskerville Hall but already has had some weird things happen to him, which is what really gets the attention of Holmes and Watson.

In London, Sherlock Holmes discovers that Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer are being watched by a mysterious bearded man and they don’t know why. Holmes sends Watson as his ears and eyes to Baskerville Hall telling him to report anything he finds out because he is too busy at the time to come down himself.

When Watson arrives in Devonshire where Baskerville Hall is located, he is met with armed guards on the moor watching for an escaped convict. He also meets the Barrymores, his domestic help, and his new neighbors, Mr. Stapleton and his sister, Beryl.

Right away a lot of mysterious events occur: Barrymore is found sneaking around at night; Watson hears what sounds like a dog howling on the moor; and an unknown figure shows up creeping on the land around Baskerville Hall.

Watson tries to unravel all these confusing facts thinking like his friend Sherlock Holmes would but there ends up being only one man for the job.

This story was action packed and very compelling. I definitely recommend this book and all the other adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

“The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly”, Part 2: Book Review

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“He watches me a moment, and I wonder if he can read my expression that I will never tell him the truth. I’ll give him a version of events, a half-truth, but I haven’t told anyone what happened in those smoke-filled moments in January when I stood over the Prophet’s body and watched him take his last ungodly breath.

And I never will”.

This enigmatic novel is definitely one that will make you read one chapter after the other. Full of mystery, suspense, and flashbacks, this is a very unique and intriguing novel. It is such an unpredictable book. Even if you think that you know what will happen next in the story, or if you think you solved the mystery of the murder, you actually didn’t. The mystery of the Prophet’s murder is so far away from what I thought it was. It is a book that I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys mystery and twist.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Even though it does not have any action, it is definitely very interesting. Even though it is a book with and extraordinary plot, I would rate it 4.5/5 for the use of bad words.

Ages — +12.

“The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly”, Part 1: Summary (Book Review)

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a Young Adult, Fiction novel, by Stephanie Oakes. Published by Dial Books, it is a novel of 400 pages. Though there is no action in the book, the mystery of who killed the Prophet, as well as the practices in the cult, will keep your interest until the last page.

The story begins when Minnow Bly, the main character, attempts to kill a boy, named Philip, after stressing her. “I am a blood-soaked girl,” is how the novel begins, and is what makes the readers want to keep turning the pages. A few pages later, the police are there in order to provide medical assistance to Philip, and to arrest Minnow. They are ready to handcuff Minnow, but there is a small issue — Minnow doesn’t have any hands…

Flashbacks throughout the book reveal to us what had happened earlier. Minnow is a seventeen-year-old, who has just escaped the cult which she was in for the past twelve years of her life. The cult has unusual practices and beliefs. However, the characters don’t refer to it as “cult,” but rather “Community.” The Community is run by the Prophet, named Kevin. His followers refer to themselves as “Kevinians,” in the name of their prophet. The Prophet claims that once, he had met a janitor who was named Charlie, and that he was God. He also claimed that Charlie had told him that he was chosen to write and share his words.

Life in the Community is much different than in the real world. Every day, people wake up early and start doing their chores. Some people milk the cows, and some others clean and do other chores. Every man has multiple wives, so the families are very large, each one having more than ten children. This cult has many strict beliefs. For example, the Prophet claims that women cannot read books, since they are creations of the Devil. We later learn that he wants to keep them illiterate, so they will not be able to read his notes. The believers cannot listen to music, nor do anything that goes against the Prophet’s rules. Whoever doesn’t follow the rules shall see the consequences — the Prophet’s sadistic practices.

That is what happened to Minnow. Since she was considered older, the Prophet wanted to marry her, adding to his other eight wives. Minnow refuses, but the Prophet insists. Therefore, Minnow attempts to escape the Community. When the Prophet’s men catch her, she is sent to the Prophet. The Prophet orders Minnow’s biological father to cut off her hands, and after much debate, he does so.

One day, a fire starts in the Community. Minnow is able to escape into the forest and run to civilization. She attempts to save her sister, but she sees that her father has already gotten her. When she reaches civilization, Philip causes distress to Minnow. Being much exhausted, traumatized, and having witnessed a fire, Minnow is not very patient. Though she does not have any hands, that doesn’t get in the way of kicking Philip, almost to death. Minnow escapes, and the Prophet is mysteriously murdered.

Minnow is sent to a juvenile prison, where she becomes friends with her cellmate, Angel. Not true to her name, Angel had murdered her uncle, giving her the longest sentence of all the prisoners. An FBI agent, referred to as Dr. Wilson, has taken interest in Minnow. He wants to find out who has murdered the Prophet, in return of giving back her freedom. Did anyone in the Community survive? Will Minnow get out of prison? Did Minnow kill the Prophet? Will Dr. Wilson ever know the truth?

 

“The Christmas Mystery”

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“The Christmas Mystery” is a fiction/mystery novel of the series “BookShots”, written by James Patterson and Richard Dilallo. The Christmas Mystery is a novel written by a third person’s point of view, with a focus on the protagonist, Luc Moncrief. It is a 137 page book, filled with an interesting plot, and suspense that will make sure to keep you at the edge of your seat. Published by Little, Brown and Company.

Luc Moncrief is a French detective who lives in New York, and whose wife, Dalia Boaz, died a few months ago. Even though Luc is still devastated by her death, he doesn’t let his loss affect what he enjoys to do the most – solve crimes. Along with his colleague, Katherine, or K. Burke, they make a perfect combination. With Luc, a young, French detective, son of one of the most respectful and wealthy businessmen in France, and K. Burke, a normal detective, with just the right amount of sarcasm to sometimes drive Luc crazy, will make it impossible for you to put the book down.

It is almost Christmas, and along with the chaos and confusion, Luc and K. Burke are out into New York’s streets, to guarantee the safety of all people. The first crime can be seen in just the first page of the novel. Two young, punk, teenage girls, seem to have stolen an elderly woman’s purse. Then, the plot seems to get a little more intense and interesting when their boss, Elliot, assigns the two detectives the homicide of a woman by the name of Ramona Driver Dunlop, or, her nickname, Baby D.

The real plot twist, though, is in the heart of the holiday season. Priceless paintings have disappeared from Park Avenue. Luc and K. Burke have to act and think fast. They have to find all of the paintings that each and one of them seems to cost a fortune, and make sure to catch the killer before he paints the town red. All while trying to make the town a safe environment for New York’s citizens, having to take the place of his multimillionaire father, and trying not to remember the death of his beautiful wife. Of course, his colleague and best friend, K. Burke, stays by his side at all times, and helps him get over his problems, while solving the crime. Seems like Christmas did not go as planned.

“Have yourself a scary little Christmas.”

James Patterson is an amazing author, and his BookShot series are composed of books that are:
• Novels you can devour in a few hours
• Impossible to stop reading
• All original content from James Patterson

My impressions on this book are almost all good. First of all, it is very interesting, and contains just the right amount of useful details throughout the book. It is suspenseful, and despite the limited page number, I am almost sure that most people would enjoy this novel. Though it is not one of my favorite books ever, it is a nice book to spend your time on reading, and I definitely did not regret reading it.

I would highly suggest you reading this book for many reasons. If you like mystery and suspense novels, this is one of the reasons why you should read this book. This book is also great if you have a limited amount of time to read. If these factors apply to you, I can almost guarantee you that you will like this book. It has a few bad words in this book, the main reason being to add to the sarcasm and humor of the author and the protagonists, but they are not too many, and none of them is too inappropriate. Therefore, I would say that this is a +12 book, also because the plot twist can be difficult to understand. I would give this book a 4/5 rating for some of the reasons I mentioned earlier in my review. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, and I would recommend you read it if you are interested in short, mystery novels that are suspenseful.

“See Me” by Nicholas Sparks Book Review

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Review by: dancingforever27
This month, I read the novel See Me by Nicholas Sparks. Sparks has published around twenty books, and ten of them have been produced into movies such as The Notebook. This book surely does account to the exquisite love story of those other pieces of literature.

This narrative focuses on two characters through alternating third-person omniscience that varies each chapter.

Colin Hancock is the leading male character with a history of impulses that have gotten him in trouble with the police. He has been granted, by the authorities, five year probation to erase all of his criminal records, but a single petty offense could have him locked up for all of his charges.

Maria Sanchez, on the other hand, is a working daughter of a family that immigrated from Mexico. Speculated, everything in her life is met with awards, recognition, and success. She works at a law firm in Wilmington, North Carolina. Eventually, the reader comes to find out that this job has caused her trauma with their brutally aggressive cases.

In the first chapters, the reader is able to observe how the characters come to find one another, simply described as quite standoffish. The scene is set to be a rainy night where Maria has a flat tire on a stretch of road with little to no cars. Colin approaches Maria, tattoos and bruises laced across his body, offering assistance.She is immediately frightened as she suspects he could take her life without anyone knowing out in the middle of nowhere. Colin notices her terror and allots a large space in between them for her comfort, which helps her later trust him.

Shortly enough, the two twenty-eight year olds meet again and their love story begins. They are able to test how horrid tragedies, mainly involving a stalker, can either bring them together, or make them part ways.

All in all, this story has a roller coaster of a plot line, where every chapter has a new addition to the mystery of who is leaving mysterious signs for Maria.

This book also demonstrates consistency in many cases, especially through characters’ actions, to make it more compelling to the readers. Barney, one of Maria’s bosses, always stands or sits up straighter when he is feeling nervous or on the wrong side of an accusation. Colin frequently says “Okay.” whenever there is an open ended statement requiring advice or further explaining. This tells the readers that he does not provide life assistance or advice, is always honest, and excepts the limits of what people will confess to him.

With the fact that Sparks used great character development, made careful decisions when choosing what actions those people would perform that stay true to their identity, and provides a love story while menacing messages are  produced, I would absolutely rate this book 10/10.

(This book will be rated for somewhat older audiences for intimacy. However, nothing is ever described in detail and is mainly only referred to.)

Ages 14+

The Leaf Reader (Book Review)

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Review by: apiazza4

The day Andrea Quinley went missing, all of the problems started. The town Colesbury didn’t think much of the disappearance. After a few months without finding anything they concluded she was gone for good and stopped the search. Some people like Matt Cotrell don’t want to give up that easily, so as a last resort he has his fortune read to find out where Andrea is.
Marnie Wells has been a fortune teller ever since she found a tea leaf reading book on her grandmother’s shelf. Marnie has fun doing the readings and she knows they aren’t real, but her customers start to believe in her abilities. When Matt comes to her seeking answers, she assumes he is just there to make fun of her, but when his reading comes true he keeps coming back for more. Matt shows Marnie some e-mails he received that say they are from Andrea, and soon they are trying to solve this mystery together.
Matt gets a tip in an e-mail and they find a body, but now they are more confused than ever. Together Matt and Marnie uncover more and more secrets about what happened. When they figure it out, the criminal is someone no one expects.
I liked The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault because it was full of surprises and I couldn’t put it down. I recommend this book because it was a great mystery that left me guessing. until the end.