Book Review: Book Covers All Things KISS

 

Front cover image c. 2016 iStock

“The Encyclopedia of Kiss” by Brett Weiss (McFarland, 2016) is a well-researched guide of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Kiss. The book covers all things Kiss, including facts that even die hard fans may not have known, or have forgotten about.

The book was written, as Weiss details in the opening, because he could not find a detailed book on facts and all things Kiss (besides a book from Japan), being a fan of the band. The research Weiss puts into the book, is remarkable, and it lives up to the subtitle “Music Personnel, Events, and Related Subjects.” It covers names such as merchandise managers to guitar techs, along with the all the members of the band and people who helped out along the way.

The Preface of the book tells how Weiss grew up being a Kiss fan, but unable to afford all of the merchandise that the band bombarded the public with throughout the years, even having to make his own toy Kiss van by putting Kiss stickers on a van. Weiss focused spending his money on the albums and the magazines that the band was featured in, along with telling the story when he and a friend were anxiously waiting for the TV movie “Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park” debut on the television in 1978. Weiss also details the time, after the 1970s when being a Kiss fan “wasn’t cool” among other people , but still kept his love of the band (something I can relate to). The Preface proves that the author is not just writing a book to be published, but shows his love for the band in a touching background of his youth.

The book itself is easy to read , just like a normal encyclopedia. The topics are in alphabetical order, and easy to find throughout. Weiss covers all the eras of the band, not just the original lineup, so there is information on members Eric Singer, Eric Carr, Tommy Thayer, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick, and Vinnie Vincent, as well the other bands they were in before (and with some of the members) after their time in Kiss. The collection covers the solo albums of the members, tribute albums (official and unofficial), and the concert tours listed under the name of the tours. Opening acts are mentioned briefly as well as the equipment the band members used during their time.

A Kiss book would not be complete without the merchandise that the band has put out during the years, and Weiss covers them just as well as the other information. The Kiss pinball machines, toys, trading cards, books, are all in here. A surprising topic is the Kiss comic books, and named in the book is Youngstown, Ohio’s Chris Yambar, whose work is in the Simpson’s “Tree House of Horrors” comic that featured Kiss (who also contributed to my ode to the Batman TV Show in this page’s archives). The book covers the Kiss WCW wrestler, and even lists the band’s connections to people like George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The Gene Simmons appearances are listed as well, from his movies to game shows and reality shows to interviews. The appearances of the other people in the Kiss universe, including the “fake” Peter Criss.

Being a Kiss fan, I thought I knew tons of information about the band, but this book had several things that I learned; including some of the tribute CDs that were released in other countries (one including the music geared to the baby friendly audience) to high schools creating musical productions of the band’s album “Music From The Elder,” and the tour that Gene did not spit fire on (“Hot in the Shade” Tour). I also forgot about the TV Show “PM Magazine,” which I used to watch all the time, where the band made some appearances.

There are a few errors in the book, where the author mentions the song “Dirty Livin” from 1979’s “Dynasty” album and then a few pages later, mentions the song again as “Dirt Livin,” and states that Eric Carr’s “only lead vocal with Kiss” was 1989 “Little Caesar,” but then mentions Carr singing “Beth” in 1989 on “Smashes Trashes and Hits.” Also, there is a note that Eric Carr sang on the song “All For The Glory ” on the “Sonic Boom” CD, when it was Eric Singer. Given all of the information that is listed in the book, a few errors can be overlooked, because it is very far and between. With all the research in the book, a few minor mistakes is expected, and doesn’t take away from this 236 page gem of a writing.

The text also has the author’s views on several of the track listings of the songs, along with some reviews from magazines and websites. The opinions are not offensive for those fans that love certain songs , and some may hate (and vice versa), which makes Kiss fans so unique in their love of certain albums and songs (and members) as opposed to others (This page constantly praises the “Crazy Nights” release which many Kiss fans goof on). There are some nice black and white photographs throughout the book as well covering some of the toys, comics and rarities that is worth the price of the book.

I heard about this book when the author was on the Mitch Lafon “Rock Talk” podcast, and had to seek it out. Even though it is not an official Kiss book, this book is a must have to add to the Kiss collection. The research and easy to find topics, makes the book a great go-to text reference for Kisstory fans. McFarland Publishing has had many wonderful writers and books released that have been featured on this page, and “Encyclopedia of Kiss” is another wonderful piece of work. A Kiss fan’s collection is not complete without having this book on their shelf.

 

 

Thank you to McFarland for the Review Copy of the book.

 

“Encyclopedia of Kiss” by Brett Weiss (2016 McFarland pISBN: 978-0-7864-9802-4 eISBN: 978-1-4766-2540-9) can be found at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com or at their order line at 800-253-2187.

 

For information about Brett Weiss, go to http://www.brettweisswords.com

 

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Book Review: Caddyshack Book will Make Readers Feel Alright

Cover design by Henry Sene Yee

“Caddyshack” is not just one of the best comedies of all time, but it is also one of the best sports movies ever. With a cast that features Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, and Ted Knight, (along with a mechanical gopher) the film is a wonderful moment of one liners, and goofy experiences that one does not have to be knowledgeable on the sport of golf to enjoy this masterpiece of comedy. However, just like any movie, there were problems on the set of the film, which Chris Nashawaty details in his book “Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story” (Flatiron Press, 2018).

A film critic for the magazine Entertainment Weekly, Nashawaty takes the reader through the early days of the National Lampoon magazine, which gives a historical feel of the satire of the magazine, and how some of the writers and owners of the magazine ended up at Saturday Night Live, and also worked on “Animal House” – the model for which Hollywood went looking for the next version of “Animal House”- where “Caddyshack” was given birth. This history of Lampoon also details how acts like John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, and more became involved with the radio show of the magazine that led these stars to their own comedy movies.

One the great things about books like these is reading about who was rumored to be cast for each part of films, and then how the directors or studios decided on the stars that ended up making the movie. There are several unique choices that were considered for the “Animal House” film, such as singer Meatloaf, and once the characters for “Caddyshack” came together, there are some strange (to some viewers) choices of character considerations after seeing the final version, such as Don Rickles, Mickey Rourke, Michelle Pfeiffer, and even Bo Derek, who were all considered for the movie.

Once the concept of “Caddyshack” was approved and casting was set, the film had problems such as finding a proper golf course, trying to work around several actor’s other film projects, and of course, the fact that there was a small script that kept changing throughout the filming, and at most times, ad-libs for most of the movie, having a first time director in Harold Ramis (and tons of drugs on set among the cast and crew). According to the book, there wasn’t even a part written for Bill Murray until after he signed on.

The book also tells wild tales during filming, such as golf cart races, how Rodney Dangerfield would freeze when the word “action” was said, and how the studio made Ramis find a part where Chase and Murray had to be in the same scene, once they found out that the two biggest comedy stars were not even in a scene together (which Nashawaty takes the reader back a few years before where Chase and Murray had problems with each other on the set of Saturday Night Live). There is also stories of how the Orion studio (which was financing the film) was in competition with Universal Studios, who were working on “The Blues Brothers” at the time.

This making of “Caddyshack” also covers how the famous gopher got placed in the film after shooting was finished, and how Kenny Loggins was picked to create the famous opening theme song, where the gopher does his famous dance.

The book is a nice read, with short chapters and a nice flow, once the reader gets through the early stages of the National Lampoon history. When first reading this part, the reader may think “What does any of this have to do with the movie,” but with some patience, Nashawaty fits it all together so the reader can understand how the Lampoon history ends up with the crew of ” Caddyshack.” If you think the movie was a crazy, wild scene, the behind the scenes that this book creates, is even wilder. Although the book just ends with a tragic story of one of the crew members (No Spoilers on this page!), which makes this reviewer think the book just ends without a summary (the next several pages just has a glossary of a “Where Are They Now” theme), and very few Rodney Dangerfield stories (which I can not get enough of) the book still has some great tales, along with a nice insight of how this movie ended up being made (which is shocking it even ended up getting done!)

 

 

Thanks to Flatiron Books for the Advanced Reading Copy.

 

“Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story” by Chris Nashawaty (Flatiron Books, 2018 ISBN: 978-1-250-10595-0 eISBN: 978-1-250-10597-4) is available at http://www.flatironbooks.com.

 

For information about the author, go to : twitter.com @chrisnashawaty

Book Reviews: Two Different Approaches to Success

Cover Design by Jody Waldrup.

Reading Self-Help books are like buying Greatest Hits or Live CDs-they are not for everyone, and sometimes only die hard fans can relate to them. Most Self-Help books are geared to business savvy people , or are written by people who are already rich via given the family business to run or given a heavy inheritance to start off. Some of the books are filled with ideas that are not available to every reader, such as working 2-3 jobs to be successful (most employers in today’s society will not work around any other schedule), or are geared to only the people that live in a bigger city where opportunities are everywhere (not everyone can pack up and move, and if they did, those cities would be overcrowded and the jobs would still be slim due to all the people taking them).

Skip Prichard’s “The Book of Mistakes” (Center Street Books, 2018) is a different kind of Self-Help book where the tips given are not only simple to incorporate, but is told in a fiction setting that makes the reader want to learn more.

The book follows several people in different time periods who get a hold of a manuscripts with the key to a successful future. The book starts off in the 1400s, and then jumps to current day time, following David, who is struggling through his job and life, barely making ends meet while working for a big time business firm. One day David sees a woman dropping a piece of paper on the street which has a time and place to meet. David decides to go to the meeting, hoping to find out what the secrets are, and if things go wrong, he can just state he was returning the paper that the woman dropped. David finds out that he was meant to get the paper and meets several different people (a bartender, a bodybuilder, a playwright, a banker, and some other people) during the next several months by “chance,” who end up telling him what the common mistakes are made by these people who wished they knew these tips when they were younger.

The mistakes given can be used to the normal everyday person (I won’t give out spoilers to all of them), with one being not letting someone else determine your value in life (the person’s value is more than they seem). This , along with the fictional setting, is something that makes the book unique, as opposed to others in the genre that write things like, “This is how I was successful. Follow these tips and here’s why it worked for me.”

The book jumps back and forth at times to the 1400s in following a girl whose uncle is trying to protect the manuscript from getting in the wrong hands. This brings an action theme to the book, which makes the reader keep wanting to know how the book ends up into those that teach David many years later.

Prichard’s book would draw fans of Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven, ” which brings random people along David’s journey in order to help him, while he meets them during everyday encounters. However, those readers that like business books, can also enjoy the book, with action thrown in as well.

“The Book of Mistakes” is a different type of Self- Help book that combines action and lessons (almost in parable style). This book can reach many genre of fans. One does not have to be a business guru to learn some of these lessons that can be used in any aspect of life, even those that just want to make themselves feel better and do some good in their lives. The book is a surprisingly good read for those that are looking for something different.

 

“The Book of Mistakes” by Skip Prichard (2018 Center Street Books ISBN : 978-1-4789-7090-3 ebook ISBN: 978-1-4789-7093-4) is available at http://www.centerstreet.com and at http://www.hatchettebookgroup.com.

 

For other information on Skip Prichard, go to http://www.skipprichard.com

Cover copyright 2018 by Hatchette Book Group, Inc.

 

Cal Turner Jr. and Rob Simbeck, in the book “My Father’s Business” (Center Street, 2018) walks the reader through how Turner’s father started a small store and turned it into the Billion-Dollar Dollar General stores.

Turner Jr. discusses his early childhood growing up, while his father started purchasing department stores in Kentucky. The first Dollar General was in Springfield, Kentucky, at a store that was struggling in sales. Cal’s father decided to take the idea of putting all items at a dollar once he saw how well other stores sold merchandise during their “dollar days’ sales. His father thought why not have a store that kept all items at a dollar? By 1957, his father owned 29 stores that equaled $5 million dollars in sales.

The book discusses how Turner Jr. wanted to go into the ministry, but was talked out of it, his stint in the Navy, along with his college years. In 1965, he started working at his father’s stores, working at stocking and opening the stores, where he claims he found his mission in life by helping people in a different way, which filled his need of a calling when he considered the ministry.

“My Father’s Business” is a leadership/business book that details how the family each had a role in the managing of the stores, how the company branded into a corporation and public traded business, including how they handled a Teamster/Union strike in the 1970s, which included threats on Cal Jr’s family, as well as a kidnapping attempt of his young son. The book also follows Cal Jr’s rise to become the president of the company and having to fire one of his brothers along the way. His rise to CEO and dealing with his father’s old ways of handling business is covered as he becomes conflicted on keeping a company successful while dealing with family members.

“My Father’s Business” is geared more for those that known something about the business world, and is not just a normal biography. There are parts in the book that lost me as a normal reader with no idea what the writers were discussing in terms of sales, profits, and percentages. There are sections about his faith, along with some Bible quotes, which gives a picture of what his family values were growing up in the business world.

Turner writes in a way that is not all business jargon, but those that are reading it as just a biography may fight through a few parts. For those that study economics and business related topics, this book will be a good read to find out how the small general store turned into a booming business.

 

“My Father’s Business” by Cal Turner Jr, with Rob Simbeck (Center Street, 2018 ISBN: 978-1-4789-9298-1, eISBN: 978-1-4789-9299-8, special edition ISBN: 978-1-5460-7619-3) is available at http://www.centerstreet.com.

 

Both review copies were given courtesy of Center Street and Hatchette Books.

Author Q&A: Author Gary A. Smith Talks Horror Films and Writing.

Cover of Gary A. Smith’s “Vampire Films” book. Cover photo Robert Quarry in “The Deathmaster”, 1972, R.F. Brown Productions/World Entertainment Productions.

 

One of the great things about doing this page is that not only do I get some great books from awesome companies, but I get to interact with some of the authors as well. A while back I wrote a review on a book by Gary A. Smith, entitled “Vampire Films of the 1970s: Dracula to Blacula and Every Fang Between” (MacFarland, 2017) Not only was it a great book, but Mr. Smith and I got to emailing each other after the post, discussing our love for horror films.

Gary A. Smith was a regular contributor for Little Shoppe of Horrors magazine from 1980 to 2013, and has authored 7 books on various aspects of film history. He was also generous to agree to a Q&A for me on not only horror films, but some of the book writing process.

 

Q: What made you become a horror film fan, and also, what motivated you to write books on the genre?

A: I’ve been a fan of horror movies since I was about seven years old. That’s when they started showing the old Universal films on TV. I wrote a paper for a college film class comparing the Universal horror films to the Hammer remakes and my professor said I should consider writing books on similar subjects some day. 

 

Q: Do you have favorite horror actor (s) and why?

A: I would have to say Vincent Price. I love him in anything, especially the Corman/Poe films. 

 

Q: Do you have a preference in studio films (aka Universal, Hammer, AIP), if so why?

A: I love them all but I have to say “my heart belongs to Hammer.” The first Hammer films I saw was a double bill of Horror of Dracula and Revenge of Frankenstein. I was eight years old and I was instantly smitten. Why? Even at eight I was an anglophile. 

 

Q: What is your “Top 5” horror films that you think everyone should see?

A: Yikes! That is a tough one. It’s easier to say which are my top 5 favorites. There are better horror movies out there I’m sure, but these are my favorites. Not necessarily in any order: Brides of Dracula, The Mummy (1959), Pit and the Pendulum, Circus of Horrors, and Son of Dracula. 

 

Q: What (in your opinion) are the qualities that make a great horror film?

A: The actors must approach the material seriously. Tongue in cheek ruins a horror movie for me. Stylish direction can make a horror movie, even if the material isn’t that strong. I watched Baron Blood the other day and that was certainly a triumph of style over substance. Most of Mario Bava’s films are.

 

Q: In your book “Vampire Films of the 1970s” you list many different genres of vampire films, such as comedies, odd films, and even mention wrestler El Santo’s films. Do you have a favorite part in the book that you cover?

A: The Hammer films, of course. But the movie I most enjoyed writing about was Nocturna. I still haven’t recovered from that one! 

Compass International Pictures’s 1979’s Vampire Disco film “Nocturna,” stars Nai Bonet, John Carradine, and Yvonne DeCarlo, and Anthony Hamilton, with music by Gloria Gaynor.

 

Q: What is the most difficult part in the writing process that occurs for you in getting a book published?

A: Getting the publisher to do it the way I want it done. Some are very intrusive and want to change everything. McFarland was very good about the Vampire book but I have had trouble with them on past projects. 

 

Q: Do you have a regular writing process for your work? Do you write everyday?

A: When I am writing a book I do write every day. My most recent project is now at the publishers and I was fairly obsessed when I was writing it. I love doing research and this new book involved a lot of it.

 

Q: In the “Vampire Films” book, you discuss some odd films that are just guilty pleasures (for me it was “Love at First Bite” growing up as a kid seeing it all the time. Another is 1986’s “Trick or Treat” with Gene Simmons of Kiss for me.). Do you have a guilty pleasure film that is just fun to watch? Why?

A: Actually most of my favorite movies are probably guilty pleasures to other people. I suppose The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is my guiltiest pleasure. I never get tired of seeing it. Why? Because it is deliriously awful in every way. 

 

Q: Is there a film that you would like to see, but for some reason, have not been able to get a copy of? And why?

A: Without a doubt that would be the Italian film The Pharaohs’ Woman. I haven’t seen it in decades and, to my knowledge, a decent copy of it isn’t available anywhere. 

Q: In your opinion, which is the most scariest creature in horror, the slasher (Jason and Freddy), the vampire, or the monsters like Frankenstein and Wolfman?

A: The slasher types are the scariest because they are closer to reality. Michael Meyers in the Halloween films is terrifying to me, especially in the first film in the series. Now that’s a great horror movie! 

 

Q: Do you follow current horror films? If so, opinions on them, or what they lack?

A: I do see current horror films and, more often than not, come away feeling disappointed. All the fuss over The Shape of Water this year baffled me. Best Picture? Really? It was a B movie dressed up in A movie clothing. I’d rather see Creature from the Black Lagoon any day. The other horror movie up for Best Picture was Get Out; a retread of The Stepford Wives.  

 

Q: Do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

A: The book now at the publishers is about best selling novels that were made into films. No horror movies, I’m sorry to tell you. Some of the movies I write about are The Egyptian, Captain from Castile, and The Foxes of Harrow. These are books and films which are largely forgotten now and shouldn’t be. I hope my book helps to remedy that situation.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for those that are writers that want to write about film or writing in general ?

A: My way has always been to provide a detailed framework that I can send to prospective publishers prior to sitting down to write the entire book. I always include an Introduction to the project and several sample chapters. This eliminates the heartbreak of writing an entire book only to discover that nobody wants to publish it. And please do your research and provide the facts to the best of your ability. It seems that errors abound in film books in particular and these mistakes tend to be perpetuated. 

        

A very special thank you goes out to Gary A. Smith for taking the time to this Q&A.

 

My review on “Vampire Films of the 1970s: Dracula to Blacula and Every Fang Between” (McFarland, 2017 ISBN: 978-0-7864-9779-9 eISBN: 978-1-4766-2559-1) can be found here in the archives.

For information on ordering a copy of the book, visit McFarland’s site at http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com

Book Review: “Boy Wonder” Looks at Dick Grayson’s History

Image c. 2015 Digital Vision.

McFarland’s book “Dick Grayson, Boy Wonder” (2015),edited by Kristen L. Geaman, is filled with essays celebrating the 75 years of DC Comic’s famous sidekick.

Throughout the many essays in the 360 page book, the history of Dick Grayson is discussed with an academic approach to the character. Not only does the book discuss the early days of Dick becoming the Robin character, but also his turn into the Nightwing creation. The essays also features how the character name “Robin” was possibly created (including a theory that Bruce Wayne was the original Robin) to the symbolism of the colors used in the designing of the costume.

There are some unique topics covered in the book, including when Grayson moved out of the Batcave and away from Wayne and teamed with Batgirl (but still under the “sidekick” shadow although he was trained by Batman, and was older than Batgirl). Also covered is how the creators of Robin were influenced by Robin Hood, and there are some brief references to the later Robins, Jason Todd and Damian Wayne.

Just like any academia themed book, there are subjects covered in the book dealing with a Freudian look at the Robin character, to a psychoanalytic criticism of Batman and Robin overcoming trauma in their lives, to the topic of the coming of age theme, when Grayson leads the Teen Titans, which he helps Superman and Deadman, all with quotes and story lines from the comic books to back up the theories.

Being a Batman fan, this book was interesting at parts, especially learning some of the story line ideas that has been used in the 75 years of the character. There is some information I was not aware of, including Dick Grayson actually becoming Batman for a time.

The McFarland company is geared towards the educational writings on the topics, but for this reviewer, some of the topics covered here were stretching the stories and the characters. Although one must respect the concept that comic books are now considered good enough readings for academic coverage in texts and even classes in colleges, some of the writings were just a bit too much for me, which seems to happen when some stuffy academia “know it alls” get their hands on topics. There are many great topics in the book (the essay on the colors of the costume, along with the writing suggesting that Robin’s costume was built from pieces of Batman’s suit are very interesting). The book even covers the influence of butler Alfred as a father figure type and his impact on Grayson.

This book would be best for those that are die hard fans of the Robin character, as opposed to someone who is a causal fan of the character. This is not a history book of the character, although the reader will find many references to the character’s past to create a historical timeline. “Dick Grayson: Boy Wonder “is a typical text book style that would be used for a college class- not that it’s a bad thing- it’s just a different feel for a casual reader. The packaging reminds this reader of the college criticism books that were read as an English Major in college, with some writings that are thought provoking, while others are just out there with the theories and read too much into the subject.

The reviewer is a huge supporter of the McFarland brand and the books. However, this book is not for everyone who is a comic book reader. If the reader is looking for a timeline Robin/Dick Grayson story, they may have to go elsewhere, but if the reader wants some intellectual thinking added to the Batman family, this will be the book for you. Kristen L. Geaman has compiled some great topics in the book, along with some others that are kind of strange, but that is the writer’s right to explore the topics.

 

Thanks to McFarland for the Review copy.

 

“Dick Grayson, Boy Wonder” Edited by Kristen L. Geaman (McFarland, 2015 ISBN: 978-0-7864-9788-1 eISBN: 978-1-4766-2085-5) is available at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com or at the order line at 800-253-2187.

 

 

 

 

Book Reviews: Maniscalco Books Great for Horror/Mystery Fans

One thing missing in today’s horror films and books is the art of building the suspense to the audience. Especially in the film industry, the horror genre tends to be missing the mystery aspect that draws the viewer in, keeps them engaged, and then brings the ending to a climax that keeps them talking. One person that has not lost this skill in the publishing world is Kerri Maniscalco with her book “Stalking Jack The Ripper” (Jimmy Patterson Books, 2016).

Maniscalco’s novel about a girl named Audrey Rose Wadsworth, who studies under her uncle the skill of forensic science in the Victorian Age, where young girls should be proper and social, is the type of horror/mystery tale that would be perfectly shown on classic horror TV shows like Boris Karloff’s “Thriller” show or any of the other 1950-1960s shows.

The story takes us through Audrey’s studies with her uncle, while her father and brother want her to be more of a socialite like many of the other girls her age. Even though Audrey likes training with her uncle and dissecting bodies for research, a local crime turns her into a sleuth trying to find out who is doing the murders of women in her area. Women start being murdered with their body parts being taken, which ends up being called the “Leather Apron” aka Jack The Ripper. Audrey and a young man who also studied under her uncle, named Thomas, start investigating the crimes, while also trying to help prove false accusations against some of the innocent people in their lives who are charged with being The Ripper.

Maniscalco’s writing combines great scientific elements with the horror and mystery of finding out who this murderer is, along with a plot that gives many false leads and turns among the characters. The reader is taken on a ride that not only is page turning, but makes them think they have the killer figured out, only to be swerved again. The author has definitely done research on the topic, along with the science of the time, with only a few changes in history (which she writes at the end of the book why she changed a few things here and there for the consistency of her plot). Even if one criticizes the few changes in the historical timeline, it doesn’t change the fact that the novel is well written and takes the reader on a suspenseful journey that those things can be overlooked.

Audrey Rose is a strong female character, one who speaks her mind among those in her life that expect her to act a certain way, while adding the Nancy Drew like inquisitive mind that makes her character wonderful. Although the Thomas character is extremely annoying, annoying, and unlovable, that does not deter from the theatrical mysterious chiller that makes the book so magnificent.

Maniscalco’s first novel is a gem, not only just for the Young Adult readers, but for the horror/mystery readers. Fans of old school mysteries, where the audience is slowly taken on a ride that has many accusations, false villains, and a shocking ending are advised to check out this book. If this book was a movie back in earlier days, one could see someone like the legendary Vincent Price of Christopher Lee playing a role in this story. Bravo to Maniscalco for not losing the great art of storytelling, along with the imaginative plot combining history, horror, and mystery.

 

 

Kerri Maniscalco’s second novel in her series, “Hunting Prince Dracula” (Jimmy Patterson, 2017) , takes the reader through another adventure with her character Audrey Rose Wadsworth.

The book takes place shortly after her last book, the wonderful “Stalking Jack the Ripper,” where the main characters Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell are sent to a university with other prospective forensics students in order to gain one of the top positions to stay at the school for future studies, which happened to be the one time home of Vlad the Impaler. After a series of strange deaths, including one of the train ride to the school, Audrey and Thomas decide that their investigated skills are needed to solve the mystery.

Much like the last book, there is banter between Thomas and Audrey, making the reader try and decide if Audrey really does have romantic feelings towards Thomas or not.   While the two characters are competing with the other students, and each other’s feelings, the townspeople start whispering that these murders could indeed be Vlad brought back to life.

The book has a more Harry Potter theme to it, with a gothic looking school with several students vying for one of the top spots in the studies. Instead of wizards, the book deals with historical rumors and myths about vampires and other undead creatures, along with many scientific references throughout the book, even more so than the first book in the series.

“Hunting Prince Dracula” has a more mystery theme to it than the “Stalking Jack the Ripper” book, where there was more of a horror feel to it compared to this book. The build up in this book seems slow, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The ending was a little predictable, revealing the person behind all of the antics (but that could just be because this is a Young Adult series, and this reviewer is much older). It is wise to read the “Jack the Ripper” book first, just to understand the interaction between the two main characters, along with understanding what Audrey Rose went through at the end of the first book. There are several references to incidents that happened in the first book that readers should know about and read the first of the series, although the reader could still get through the second without having read the first one, but it is advised to read it in a series.

Even though this book was slow build up, there is no complaints about the author’s writing style. Maniscalco has no sophomore jinx in her writing, although “Jack the Ripper” was a more enjoyable book overall for this reviewer. The great thing about Maniscalco’s writing in this book is that she leaves the reader wanting more, especially with her ending, where he hints yet another book in the series (NO Spoilers given on this page).

Overall “Hunting Prince Dracula” is a good read, especially for those readers that love science related themes on top of a mystery. The characters are strong, but if you are looking for a more horror/historical book, “Stalking Jack the Ripper” will be the best pick. Either book you choose, there is something good about Manicalco’s original characters and ideas.

 

Thanks to Jimmy Patterson Books and Little, Brown, and Company for the review copies.

“Stalking Jack The Ripper” by Kerri Maniscalco (Jimmy Patterson Books ISBN : ISBN-13: 9780316273503) is an imprint of Little, Brown, and Company, a division of Hatchette Book Group, Inc.

“Hunting Prince Dracula” by Kerri Maniscalco (Jimmy Patterson, 2017 ISBN: 031655166X) is available at http://www.hatchettebookgroup.com .

For information on the author, go to: http://www.kerrimaniscalco.com.