BLOG TOUR (Review): Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

Hardcover: 368 pages
Tor Teen (February 12, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765399687
ISBN-13: 978-0765399687

Praise for SPECTACLE
“Clever and full of murder, Jodie Lynn Zdrok’s Spectacle had my eyes glued to the pages as the body count rose, and mystery stacked upon mystery as our heroine closed in on a killer who seemed miles ahead of the Parisian authorities. Fans of serial killers and criminal investigations will find much to love, and fascinating passages about morgue tours will appeal to the morbid rubbernecker in us all.” ―Kendare Blake, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Three Dark Crowns series
“With a fierce heroine, grisly 19th-century murders, and a mystery that left me on the edge of my seat, Spectacle is an immersive, Parisian, YA From Hell that I absolutely devoured!” ―Gretchen McNeil, author of Ten and #MurderTrending
“Zdrok explores the universal fascination with death, set among the darker corners of 1887 Paris, and the very idea of the morgue viewings (to which parents brought their children) is chilling…Grisly, plot driven―and very creepy. Fans of historical thrillers that invoke the enduring spirit of Jack the Ripper will have fun.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Hints of the murderer’s identity are subtly and intriguingly folded into the story, and unresolved plot threads pave the way for future cases, during which Nathalie can discover more about her powers. The blend of history, mystery, and fantasy makes this debut novel a good pick for fans of Libba Bray’s Diviners series or William Ritter’s Jackaby books.” ―Booklist
“The book seamlessly brings several threads together: the mystery of the murder and the horrors of the killings themselves; the beauty, bustle, and darkness of nineteenth-century Paris (the killer’s pursuit of Nathalie through the catacombs is thrillingly described); the bizarre but historically based practices of morgue viewing and blood transfusions for magic; and the destructive nature of family secrets and their generational effects. …the tension amps up to a gasp-worthy climax.” ―Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Zdrok has concocted an ambitious Victorian-era story. …Intricately plotted, the story’s pace burns slow before racing ahead to set up and topple assumptions about the true identity of the Dark Artist.” ―School Library Journal

A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.

Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.

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I received a copy of Spectacle from the publisher via Jean Book Nerd for an honest review. This is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.

The quickest way to my reader desires is to set a book in the 1800s and have a serial killer. It’s safe to say that I jumped at reading this book. As soon as I heard about Spectacle I was anticipating a good read.

I was not disappointed.

Spectacle follows the footsteps of a teenaged girl who is breaking the glass ceiling and working in the “man’s world” of journalism. On top of that, Nathalie Baudin is reporting the unidentified dead inside the morgue. She’s going against the grain and in the process learns something about herself, her family, and the serial killer who finds her interesting.

Historical fiction is not one of my top fave genres but I felt this book had a good balance of historical detail while still holding the attention of a modern reader. It was interesting seeing how the process of body identification was, like a macabre art gallery of the dead, both a process for the police and a form of entertainment for the public.

There is also a hint of something supernatural that only strengthens the story and suspense. You will not know who The Dark Artist is right away. You will not know the full truth. And like Nathalie, you will be questioning everything. This is a definite read for the thriller lover both for young adult and adult readers.

Final Rating: 4/5

Photo Content from Jodie Lynn Zdrok

Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MAs in European History (Providence College, Brown University) and an MBA (Clark University). In addition to being an author, she’s a marketing professional, a freelancer, and an unapologetic Boston sports fan. She enjoys traveling, being a foodie, doing sprint triathlons, and enabling cats. She is represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

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Book #17: The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

‘You are a wronged woman and shall have justice. Do not bring police. If you do, all will be in vain. Your unknown friend.’

When a beautiful young woman is sent a letter inviting her to a sinister assignation, she immediately seeks the advice of the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes.

For this is not the first mysterious item Mary Marston has received in the post. Every year for the last six years an anonymous benefactor has sent her a large lustrous pearl. Now it appears the sender of the pearls would like to meet her to right a wrong.

But when Sherlock Holmes and his faithful sidekick Watson, aiding Miss Marston, attend the assignation, they embark on a dark and mysterious adventure involving a one-legged ruffian, some hidden treasure, deadly poison darts and a thrilling race along the River Thames.

The Sign of Four is the second story of the Sherlock Holmes canon. It is centered on the mysterious disappearance of a young woman’s father, a treasure from India, and murder.

I found the story to be better than the first but it definitely shows its age. There are some terms and events in the book that hearken to the Victorian era. This doesn’t bother me so much as that is true to the actual publication and, really, I love the era.

The story itself had more action than the first, we see a bit more in the character that is Sherlock Holmes, and we are introduced to more of the skill of deduction. If anything, this is the story that opens up the world to the reader.

Final Rating: 3/5

BLOG TOUR: Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced by R. J. Garcia

Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced
 by R.J. Garcia
 Genre: YA Mystery/Suspense

 Release Date: May 1st 2018
 The Parliament House
Summary from Goodreads:
Mystery surrounds the town of Summertime, Indiana, where fifteen-year-old Tommy Walker and his little sister are sent to live with relatives they’ve never met. Tommy soon makes friends with Finn Wilds, a rebellious local who lives with his volatile and abusive stepfather, who also happens to be the town’s sheriff.
Finn invites Tommy to late night meetings in the woods, where Tommy gets to know two girls. He forms a special and unique connection with both girls. The meetings become a place where the kids, who don’t fit in at school, or home can finally belong. As the group of friends begin to unravel clues to a cold case murder and kidnapping— they learn the truth is darker and closer than they ever imagined. Even if they live to tell, will anyone believe them?

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I received an Audible code for the audiobook for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.

Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced by R.J. Garcia is a contemporary thriler young adult book that centers on some pretty deep topics. There is child abuse, sexual abuse, murder, drug abuse, and the foster care system. It is written with the alternating viewpoints of Tommy and Finn, two young men who become fast friends and bond over their own lives and the mystery circling a young girl.

The book itself is fairly slow moving. Not a bad slow. More like a slow burn of suspense. I found myself looking at every adult and wondering which one was the real antagonist. Everyone looked shady.

The chapters themselves are short but each one is just a step closer to the revelation. You begin to wonder just what is happening. Are these teens getting into trouble because of their imagination? Is there something really going on?

And I’ll tell you, I was not expecting what happened.

As for the audio part, I felt the narrator was a good match. I think I would have liked it a bit better if Finn and Tommy’s narrations had a bit more separation but the chapters do indicate who is talking.

All in all, Garcia weaved a great mystery that deals with multiple issues. It felt like a modern YA southern gothic with the layers on layers of intrigue and suspense. I definitely recommend for the YA thriller or darker contemporary reader.

Final Rating: 4/5



R.J. Garcia is a wife and proud mom. She earned her MSW and worked with foster children and as a school social worker. Writing has been her other great love. She has published several non-fiction pieces. She has been writing short-stories for as long as she can remember. To her amazement, those short stories became novels!

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Book #9: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

‘There’s a scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.’

From the moment Dr John Watson takes lodgings in Baker Street with the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, he becomes intimately acquainted with the bloody violence and frightening ingenuity of the criminal mind.

In A Study in Scarlet , Holmes and Watson’s first mystery, the pair are summoned to a south London house where they find a dead man whose contorted face is a twisted mask of horror. The body is unmarked by violence but on the wall a mysterious word has been written in blood.

The police are baffled by the crime and its circumstances. But when Sherlock Holmes applies his brilliantly logical mind to the problem he uncovers a tragic tale of love and deadly revenge . . .

Sherlock Holmes is an iconic literary character, a detective with astute observational skills. He is known as the first detective character just as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is known as the father of the detective novel.

I love mysteries. I love the Victorian era. Let’s face it, I’m a booknerd who loves Sherlock Holmes adaptations. And yet… and here is the part where you gasp… I have never read a Sherlock Holmes story.

Until now.

My problem was that I was never sure where to begin. I wanted to begin where they began in their own world, not necessarily in the world of the readers. So, after years of searching, I also learned that my brain couldn’t quite formulate the world through Doyle’s words. That meant finding an audiobook I liked.

I found Stephen Fry’s and now I’m good to go.

For a first story, A Study in Scarlet does set up the character dynamics well. You see how the dynamic duo, Holmes and Watson, became roommates. You also see just the beginnings of what will become literature’s most well-known detective.

As for the mystery… well, I liked it. I didn’t care for the middle part where we are given a totally new storyline and characters. It diverted from the main narrative and pulled me away from the story. That said, I understand why the story was needed. I just wish there was a different way Doyle did it. It may be common for the time period it was published in, but it doesn’t mean I have to like that part of the book.

In all, I felt the story is a good beginning to a series and I’m sure I’m just going to continue to love it as I continue reading their adventures.

Final Rating: 3/5

Book #93: Fatal Agreements by Ashley Fontainne

Whispered rumors tickled the ears of the residents of an entire town for decades about the disturbing secrets of the old Halstead House, dating all the way back to the early 1920s. Most people didn’t believe them. Several people will soon discover they should have listened. 

Three years after struggling to cope with the death of her beloved father and escaping an abusive relationship, Samantha Chapman decides it’s time to return to her hometown of Hot Springs. She buys the ramshackle Halstead House, eager to transform the dilapidated, abandoned piece of history into her new law office and residence, hoping it will be the start of a brighter chapter and a safe haven to escape her personal demons. 

Instead of newfound freedom, things take a dark turn when the resurrection of the old home reveals the disturbing secrets hidden within its walls. When youthful transgressions of numerous people come to light, including ones some members of the Chapman family are desperate to contain, it reveals the sins of the past. They collide with the grave mistakes of the present, creating a perfect storm of chaos and death for not only the Chapman family but others as well. 

Some will survive. 

Others will get burned. 

Sam and her loved ones realize some family secrets should have remained buried. 

I received an audible code via Audiobookboom for an honest review. What follows here is my honest opinion and I wasn’t compensated for this review.

I actually love Southern Fiction. It is a favorite literary genre of mine since college. Final Agreements very much follows the Southern Fiction genre. Aside from being set in the South (United States in case anyone needs to know), the book deals with family secrets.

Some of the secrets you actually learn really early on, but there is still an underlying suspense on how everything will be resolved. Really, the book is more about the family dynamic than the issues they are dealing with.

Since I listened to the audiobook, let me talk about the narration. The narrator herself wasn’t bad. There were times where the accent or the voice changes confused me as to who was speaking at the time, but the narration itself wasn’t bad.

The prose of the story was well put. When something is supposed to spur the suspense of the story, the reader is pulled in. It isn’t a book that is hard to follow though there are parts I felt that were just a bit like a soap opera and semi-resolved rather quickly in the story. That said, none of the characters themselves felt too out of their normal personality.

Final Rating: 3/5

Book #90: The Night of the Screaming Horses (Dead Air Episode 1) by Carrie Ryan, Gwenda Bond, and Rachel Caine

Explore your true crime obsession in a whole new way with Serial Box’s latest multimedia innovation in storytelling from three of today’s hottest storytellers, Gwenda Bond, New York Times-bestselling author Rachel Caine, and New York Times-bestselling author Carrie Ryan.

“Fast-paced, captivating, and completely surprising, prepare to stay up way too late—you won’t be able to put this down.” -Megan Miranda, New York Times-bestselling author of All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger

This is episode 1 of Dead Air, where M is for midnight, Mackenzie…and murder.

Mackenzie Walker wasn’t planning on using her college radio show to solve a decades-old murder, but when she receives an anonymous tip that the wrong man may have taken the fall, she can’t resist digging deeper.

It doesn’t take long for Mackenzie to discover gaps in the official story. Several potential witnesses conveniently disappeared soon after the murder. The victim, a glamorous heiress and founder of a Kentucky horse-racing dynasty, left behind plenty of enemies. And the cops don’t seem particularly interested in discussing any of it.

But when the threats begin, Mackenzie knows she’s onto something. Someone out there would prefer to keep old secrets buried and they seem willing to bury Mackenzie with them. Thankfully, she’s getting help from a very unexpected source: the victim’s son, Ryan. The closer she gets to him, however, the more important it is for Mackenzie to uncover the truth before he gets buried alongside her.

Read or listen to the ebook and audiobook of the serial novel Dead Air, and then check out Mackenzie’s podcast for a uniquely immersive experience. Does the truth lie in the serial, the podcast…or somewhere in-between?

I found out about Dead Air from a Goodreads newsletter. I love serials and I love Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy. Since I hadn’t read much from Ryan since then, I wanted to go ahead and try the first episode of this serial fiction. Besides, it has to do with the idea of a college student who is DJ-ing for her university’s radio station and is interested in true crime. I’m a true crime buff myself so the premise pretty much check-marked a bunch of my likes.

For the first episode, it wasn’t bad. It grabbed me and it did feel like a murder mystery was about to unfold. That said, it does feel like the first episode in a tv series and only gives the reader a taste of what’s to come. The reader joins Mackenzie in seeing the scene of the crime, go through the process of getting the police reports, and meet with the family of the victim. Nothing is solved yet, but the taste of something more to come is there in the end.

What is great is that there is a podcast that accompanies the fiction and honestly, if you listen to it, it definitely grabs you. I might actually just continue the story with the podcast style versus the book, but the book will give you those small details to the narrative. In all, it does make for an interesting experience.

Final rating: 3/5

Book #87: Some Danger Involved by Will Thomas

An atmospheric debut novel set on the gritty streets of Victorian London, Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his apprentice, Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar. 

When a student bearing a striking resemblance to artists’ renderings of Jesus Christ is found murdered — by crucifixion — in London’s Jewish ghetto, 19th-century private detective Barker must hire an assistant to help him solve the sinister case. Out of all who answer an ad for a position with “some danger involved,” the eccentric and enigmatic Barker chooses downtrodden Llewelyn, a gutsy young man whose murky past includes recent stints at both an Oxford college and an Oxford prison. 
As Llewelyn learns the ropes of his position, he is drawn deeper and deeper into Barker’s peculiar world of vigilante detective work, as well as the dark heart of London’s teeming underworld. Together they pass through chophouses, stables, and clandestine tea rooms, tangling with the early Italian mafia, a mad professor of eugenics, and other shadowy figures, inching ever closer to the shocking truth behind the murder.

I picked up this audiobook from my library because I was in dire need of a mystery and one set in Victorian London seemed right up my alley at the time. I was honestly expecting a mystery that felt like a Sherlock Holmes retake with different characters. That said, I was pleasantly surprised.

Barker doesn’t like to be called a private detective, but that is exactly what he is. He solves crimes from the more seedier parts of London and assists the police when it comes to a group of people that don’t necessarily trust the police completely. In the case of this specific book, Barker and his newly hired aide Llewellyn (our narrator) are assigned to help solve the murder of a Jewish man who looks like Jesus Christ.

What I liked about this book is that it addressed the relations of the British Empire with the minorities of the nation, such as the Jewish community or the Asian immigrants. Barker is heavily influenced by the Japanese culture and it shows in his day to day practices as well as the landscaping of his home. It is like this character embraces the downtrodden and misunderstood.

Which is actually further addressed in him hiring Llewellyn.

Llewellyn is not only our narrator, but he is a Welshman who has had a rather rough life. At first you think that he may be a Watson sort of character, and he sort of is, but there is a quality to Llewellyn that serves as a more modern voice for the reader. You can see the mystery unfold through his eyes and see just how interesting Barker is as a character.

What I really liked about the book was the discussion about religion. It talked about the practices of that specific grouping of Jewish people as well as the differences between the cultures and religions. It was a discussion that I could see being in the past as well as being relevant today.

No, this is not a Sherlockian type of mystery with a Sherlockian type of detective. Barker seems to deal more with the seedier part of town and helps the people who are less likely to have the money. If the two detectives were in the pub together, you would see that Sherlock’s clientele are more well-off and Barker takes care of the rest.

That said, this book was filled with action and I did like the characters. I do plan on continuing the series and am glad that the next few books happen to be in audio in my library. This isn’t bad for a beginner to a series and I can’t wait to see what else comes up.

Final rating: 4/5

Book #86: Forgotten Girls (Louise Rick #7) by Sara Blaedel

In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick—the new commander of the Missing Persons Department—is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a “forgotten girl.” But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed—and hidden—in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed.

I can’t quite remember why I picked up this book, but I did like the idea of reading something set in Denmark, a place where I have family but may never actually get to visit. Add in that the book itself is a mystery and one about a person in an institution, and I mean, it makes sense why I would have opened the book.

That said, I feel I probably should have started the Louise Rick series at book 1. I’m not saying you need to read the other books to follow the story because you essentially don’t, but I don’t think I could relate to the protagonist as well as I could have if I had read the first book in this series first.

The mystery itself did have a few twists I didn’t see coming, but I feel it fell sort of flat near the climax. It felt forced for lack of a better term. Like, the author wanted to have a pivotal and emotional moment so pasted this specific scene in. And I understand why. The alternative may not have gone as well either. But, I don’t know, I feel that with the ending as it was, it probably wasn’t Blaedel’s best work and most likely not the best book to start with her as a new to you author.

That isn’t to say that this experience has turned me off to the author herself. No, I still want to read more of Blaedel. I also believe that there may have been something missed in translation. So, reading book one of the series may not only help me grasp the protagonist, but also help me with whatever reticence I am going through about this current book itself. All in all, I would read Blaedel, but this book didn’t really grab me all the way.

Final rating: 3/5

Book #58: Skeletons in the Attic by Judy Penz Sheluk

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder. 

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

I received a copy of this audiobook through Audiobook Boom! The review that follows is my honest opinion. There has been no compensation.

I have to say, this book didn’t end the way I was expecting. And after a few days of listening to the book, I’m still not sure where I stand in it.

The writing is well done. It pulls the reader in and never lets go. Though there isn’t much in action, there is a mental process at work. You get to experience the MC, Callie undergo her investigation on the disappearance of her mother. Which only poses more questions by the end of the book.

Yes, the disappearance is explained in the end, but there is still so much left unanswered that I’m led to hope that it will be in later books.

Callie is a strong enough character and I was able to relate to her. She definitely showed a stubbornness that she claimed to have, but there was a loyalty to her. I found that she was a heroine I wanted to see succeed.

I am still unsure about the supporting cast as characters, but so is Callie. It really makes the experience interesting. Would I read more? Maybe.

Final rating: 3/5

Book #48: Good Bones by L.A. Kelley

No matter how challenging the case, psychologist Katherine Fleming never shirks from helping a patient confront a painful issue. Her keen powers of observation and compassionate nature have eased many troubled souls, but a homicide detective with a buried secret of his own stirs more than just clinical interest. 

The first time Detective Jake Sumner spied the old house, he sensed the good bones. Little did he know the purchase of the property included an unusual tenant far from resting in peace. Can the new psychologist in town help him treat a ghostly trauma case or is his growing attraction to Katherine Fleming best left buried? 

With the help of a mysterious white cat and a mystic mirror, Katherine and Jake join forces to solve a murder. Can they stop a killer from claiming the next victim or will their investigation only lead them six feet under?

To begin, I want to state that I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. Everything that follows is an honest opinion and I wasn’t compensated in any way for this review.

Now with that out of the way, what grabbed me right off the bat was the title and blurb. A good old ghost story with an old house and mystery doesn’t seem all that abnormal. It is a fairly common theme. That said, I’m a sucker for a ghost story.

L.A. Kelley not only did a good job at the creep factor, but added humor into her text, AND added a bit of something different that made the story memorable. I am constantly talking about the books I’m currently reading to my best friend. Usually, the ones that get the most airtime though are the ones I really enjoy or the ones I really hated.

Good Bones I REALLY enjoyed. I think I actually loved this book. It’s a book that I plan on getting my mom to read. I want more of this world and I want more of L.A. Kelley’s works.

Then there is the narration by Ruth Redman. Her voice is calm, collected, and I genuinely felt the main character in her narration. It was the perfect pick for this book. I can see myself listening to her voice again in another project.

All in all, this was a good book and I definitely recommend be it visual or audio.

Final rating: 4.5/5