Review: Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

stalkingjackTitle: Stalking Jack The Ripper
Series: Stalking Jack The Ripper #1
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Publication Date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Source: Waterstones Amsterdam
Rating: ★★★★☆4.5/5

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SYNOPSIS: This story revolves around the seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth. Having been born a lord’s daughter Audrey has had a life of wealth and privilege but beneath the surface of her social class, frilly dresses and the tedious social activities her aunt forces her to go to, Audrey has a deep and somewhat dark fascination for the gruesome world of forensic medicine. Sneaking out at all hours of the day to her uncle’s laboratory Audrey, unbeknownst to the outside world takes on the role of his apprentice. However, after a string of brutally murdered and mutilated corpses end up at her uncle’s laboratory, it seems a serial killer is on the loose and Audrey, being dragged into the investigation has to walk a fine line between on one hand her dangerous involvement in trying to catch the killer and on the other, the societal conventions that try and prevent her from going anywhere near the danger that is about to come her way.

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THOUGHTS: As you can see from my rating i had a great time reading this book! I don’t think i’ve actually every read something similar to this story and it exceeded my expectations in a way i did not expect. I know that a lot of YA readers usually do not read pure mystery novels so I think this book is exactly the right mix between a mystery or thriller and a YA story. While the murders of Jack the Ripper are the main events this book revolves around, it is much more than just that. The book also gives light to the position of a young woman, Audrey Rose, in victorian society and describes her struggle to keep her fascination with ‘unladylike things’ such as forensic science hidden from everyone else. The book details not just her search for the killer but it also describes her struggling to be taken seriously despite of her gender in a natural and believable way. Audrey’s perceptions on gender might be a bit ahead of her time, but she was written in a way that it was still a natural and believable thing for her to be living in victorian times. Audrey is a strong girl who does everything in her power to achieve her goals, but she also fails, she gets scared and gets emotional which makes her relatable and not just a stereotypical ‘strong feminist’ main character.  I especially fell in love with the way Kerri Maniscalco wrote this book in such a detailed way. She described Audrey Rose’s fascination for the world of forensic medicine in sometimes gruesome detail and it was clear a lot of research of forensics went into writing this story. All the way from anatomical descriptions of intestines to Audrey Rose being vividly described as being elbow down into someone’s ribcage, this book is absolutely gruesome, creepy most of the time but extremely fascinating.

Whereas i can be a bit apprehensive to the romantic sides of most YA books, the ever evolving relationship between Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell, a young man who becomes Audrey’s uncles’ second apprentice and later joins them in a quest to find Jack The Ripper, was executed perfectly. The best way i can describe it is, cliche but not cliche. Thomas is a bit self-obsessed, arrogant and is clearly fascinated by Audrey from the get-go but their relationship is fun and evolves in a natural and believable way instead of going from hating one another to falling in love from one chapter to the other. It is pretty clear from the beginning that this is Audrey’s love interest, but that doesn’t make reading their dialogues and their adventure together any less enjoyable. I also want to note that there’s actual value to the side characters in this book, in Stalking Jack The Ripper I felt like the side characters were interesting and meaningful instead of tools for the progression of the main characters.

The only reason I gave this book 4 and not 5 stars was because about half-way through i correctly predicted the identity of Jack The Ripper, which did bother me a little but i’m not sure if that is because i have read and watched too many crime related stories or just that it was increasingly easy to guess. To be fair though, it definitely did not bother me that much for me to not read all the way to the end because the way it all went down I could have never guessed and I immensely enjoyed racing through those last couple of pages. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading murder mysteries and to those who enjoy the setting and atmosphere of the victorian era. Kerri Maniscalco since writing this book has also released a 2nd and 3rd part in this series called “Hunting Prince Dracula” and “Escaping from Houdini” which I will definitely be reading this fall!

Quotes

 “I promise. I’ll be as silent as the dead.”
“Ah,” Uncle said, putting a hat on and tugging it low, “the dead speak to those who listen. Be quieter than even them.”

“Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”

If you like this, you might also enjoy

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco x

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children x

 

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Review: Trapped In Silver by Emily Sowden

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Title: Trapped In Silver
Series: The Eldryn Chronicles
Author: Emily Sowden
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Publication Date: February 7th, 2017
Publisher: Oftomes Publishing
Source: Oftomes Publishing
Rating: ★★★★☆4/5

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SYNOPSIS: To seventeen-year-old Ava, wild woodcats, hungry stragglers, and simple-minded townsfolk are the evils she’s grown accustomed to. But when Ethan, an unusual man with eyes of smoke and fire opal, enters her world she quickly understands that there are worse things out there than drunken men and carnivorous forest creatures. Ava is a specialised liar and a hell of a fighter, but against a group of animalistic men called Berserkers she struggles to survive the encounter as the desperate swing of a dagger is all it takes to change her life for good. Ava escapes the pursuit in an unfamiliar land full of impossible creatures, unlikely allies, and the man she doesn’t know whether to kiss or kill. Quickly Ava becomes involved in a centuries-long war and begins to unravel the reasons behind her relentless nightmares, discovering truths long-buried in a violent history of love, loss and betrayal.

THOUGHTS:
When I started reading this book I wasn’t sure what to expect, I thought it had potential to be a great story if written right, and it definitely was! It was obvious from the beginning of the book that a lot of thought had been put in the world-building of this trilogy, consisting of detailed myths, background stories, odd creatures and an interesting history the story was going to build on.

The thing that stood out the most for me however was how well the characters, in particular Ava, were written. I thought Ava was such an interesting character, portrayed as a stubborn and loud-mouthed girl but not in an over exaggerated and annoying way. In addition to the characters being well written, they were also very much real. Ava was, as she should be, written as a real person with flaws, a girl who comes from an incredibly difficult background. As Ava works on their families farm to pay for their expenses while her father is away, having to switch between herself and her alter-ego Cedar and dealing with her brother who’s closed off and seems to have several secrets of his own, life is not easy. On top of that, even though Ava has to come to terms with a lot of terrifying and overwhelming information in a short period of time, she doesn’t become the fantasy cliche of the girl turned into warrior within the first 20 pages. Ava is much more than a one dimensional character consisting of oneliners, even though hers could be incredibly funny at times. Likewise I enjoyed all the other characters just as much as I got to know more about them and their quirks each chapter, their different background stories and relationship with each-other makes the world-building aspect in this book come to life even more.

I have to admit that I thought the start of the book was quite difficult to get into, as it is a pretty slow paced book in general but as soon as I really started to understand the story, which took me some chapters, I just flew through the pages. Something I didn’t like too much about this book however were the visions and dreams Ava had especially in the beginning. I thought they were usually too long and didn’t really add to the story that much. I also need to add that I hope the next book in this series, doesn’t put too much focus on the relationship between Ava and Ethan, as this is something that fantasy themed stories usually do and I don’t often enjoy when it starts to become the overwhelming story line of the book. In the end however, I thought this was a well written original addition to the fantasy/young adult genre and I would definitely recommend this to people who want to read a new take on a fantasy cliche, and to everyone who appreciates thorough world-building.

If you like this you might also enjoy:
Lost In Darkness (Eldryn Chronicles 2) by Emily Sowden
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

(NOTE: this book has been given to me by Oftomes publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

Why I didn’t finish ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ (A Semi-Review)

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Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Publication Date: May 30th 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 380
Source: Bol.com
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 2/5

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Synopsis:
This book revolves around Dimple Shah, an Indian girl who’s about to head off to university. When her traditional parents, who are obsessed with finding the perfect Indian husband for Dimple find out about a summer program for aspiring web developers they decide to pay a lot of cash for Dimple to go. Only to set their own plan in motion: To introduce Dimple to Rishi, the perfect Indian guy they want their daughter to marry. Dimple however, doesn’t know any of this when she arrives at campus and this guy who she’s never met introduces himself as her future husband..

Thoughts:
I was actually pretty excited to read this book when I came across it on my recommended list of books on Goodreads. I thought that finally someone had gone and written a book that was going to twist the arranged marriage trope into something readable again, but in reality I barely got halfway through the book before I pretty much realized that there wasn’t anything about the story I actually liked.

First of all, I felt like it was WAY too cliche. I can appreciate a good cliche story every once in a while. In this case however it just seemed to irk me. I think the “I hate my (sort of) arranged marriage but oops I fell in love with the guy anyway” trope is just too overplayed at this point. It felt like the author in addition to using that trope tried way too hard to make it original in some way by throwing in this competition at a university where (of course) Dimple ends up partnering with the guy her parents want her to marry. I didn’t feel like it was believable and I didn’t enjoy reading the story after I started realizing this was going to be one of those books where they’re going to end up together anyways. It got so many good reviews on Goodreads and I honestly don’t understand why. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this book is disastrous. I actually think the writing style was quite pleasant and I loved a lot of the references the author made to nerd/pop culture but other than that I could not enjoy this at all.

I also felt like the way their relationship was portrayed wasn’t very exciting to read either just like Dimple’s parents or Dimple herself who didn’t feel dimensional to me. As a core character Dimple came off as way too whiny and it seemed like the author was trying way too hard to make her authentic and edgy by constantly stating every 4 or 5 pages she doesn’t wear make-up and that’s she’s oh-so strong and independent. Even more so a lot of the aspects of this story, such as the app contest, came across as forced and in reality all the book pretty much discussed was Dimple and Rishi’s relationship.

All in all, I think that if the author would’ve committed herself to drastically and honestly modifying this trope I would have enjoyed it way more than I did now.

Review: He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

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Title: He Said/She Said
Author: Erin Kelly
Genre: Thriller
Publication date: April 20th, 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 416
Source: Bol.com
Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5
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SYNOPSIS: In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever. Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear, and while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something, and someone, is always in the dark.

THOUGHTS:  I really enjoyed reading this book! I was hesitant at first because I don’t read thrillers often as it is mostly a hit or miss genre for me. This however was an amazing read and very often reminded me of the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson. This book is THE ultimate mix between betrayal, lies, guilt and trauma if that wasn’t clear from the synopsis already. All of this takes place in a time frame of about 16 years, between 1999 and 2015.

This was an incredibly unique story. I loved that the entire book connects around the theme of eclipses and so-called eclipse chasers. I think that made it intriguing and clever to me (and i’ve actually learned quite a lot about eclipses.) I also have to say that I was really impressed with how this story was structured. Because of the large period of time the book covers the plot jumps from the ‘now’ period which is 2015, back in time to when this traumatic event happened every 3 or so chapters. It was done in a way that made the story built up a lot of tension. The author really makes your opinions on these characters who you think you know, drastically change by the time you’re halfway through. In a sense, you’re peeling of layers of their personalities as you go along and right when you think you know what’s about to happen or how Laura or Kit will react, she changes up the entire plot without making it unrealistic in any way.

I thought the characters were written with a lot of depth. They were real, authentic and complex in the way they were depicted in dealing with their traumatic experiences, even the side characters. I felt as if in this book it was even more so about the unravelling of these characters, their experiences, regrets, secrets and especially the break-down of Laura and Kit’s relationship than it was about the actual event that set the story into motion.

The only thing I disliked about the book is that I think some parts just dragged on too long for my taste and weren’t really necessary to put in the book at all. Especially since it’s already quite a lot of pages (416!). Because of this I would not recommend this book to people who like their thriller books to be fast-paced all the time. I definitely think this is a great story but it takes a while for the plot to come through properly and really start making sense. However if you don’t mind being confused every once in a while and like me are a patient reader and thoroughly enjoy being put on the wrong path, this is definitely a book for you.

QUOTES:

“Leibniz said, Music is the mind counting without being conscious it’s counting. An eclipse is maths; it’s the most beautiful maths there is.”

“That’s the thing with secrets. They’re leaky; you can’t decide to share the bits that suit you without a million questions oozing out. You have to solder a part of yourself shut.”

If you like this book you might also enjoy:
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (#1 of the Millennium series)
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

a monster callsTitle: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
Publication Date: 2011, May 5th
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 216
Source: Waterstones
Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5


SYNOPSIS: The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

THOUGHTS: 
I enjoyed reading this book so much more than I thought I was going to when I picked it up from Waterstones as an impulsive buy. Not that I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it, it was just at a level of amazing I did not foresee!

First of all, I absolutely loved the artwork in this book! I’m not ashamed to say that I am someone who loves pretty books and sometimes falls into the trap of buying a book just because of it’s cover.. I thought the artwork really gave an extra dimension to the story, made it more real for me and gave me that kind of fairytale book vibe even though it isn’t quite the typical fairytale. Going on that, I loved the way the story was told and portrayed in a fairytale like way with this magical but also pretty terrifying tree telling three old tales while the story at the same time takes place in a reality where these kinds of things do not or at least should not happen.

When it comes to the plot I thought it was very heartfelt. Conor, the main character whose mom is battling cancer and is dealing with all sorts of problems ranging from bullies at school to the absence of his dad, was written very convincingly. I really did empathise with him and it definitely was an original take on depicting grief, loss and anger. The stories told by this magical tree in Conor’s backyard are not your typical fairy tale stories. They show how not everything is simply black and white, right and wrong. How loss doesn’t necessarily equal death and that is is necessary to let go and forgive those you love. At this point you might think you’ve got this book all figured out but I promise you that this is one of those books where you simply cannot predict what’s going to happen next.

I won’t spoil the ending but I will say it made me cry which I didn’t expect in a million years. I’m not the emotional type when it comes to reading books but this definitely struck a cord with me. I think it’s one of those books that will stay with me for a long time and that I would recommend both children and adults to read.

QUOTES:

“There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.”

“You do not write your life with words…You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”

If you like this book you might enjoy:
Tinder by Sally Gardner
Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine
The Last of The Spirits by Chris Priestly
Hunting Monsters by S.L. Huang

Sidenote: you can check out the website of the illustrator Jim Kay over here