Book Review: Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean is a bleak tale of survival involving eight kids and three adults stuck on an island made of black rock in the Wales. The story is based on a true story, with a lot of fictional license taken. The novel can’t help but remind me of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, as young boy’s are thrust in to adulthood but still have the pressures of fitting in. Where the World Ends is almost 200 years before Lord of the Flies, where religious superstition is high and omens mean life or death. The language used took me a bit to get into with the old words and the accent. This novel is marked as Young Adult, and the younger audience can enjoy it like the Lord of the Flies but as an adult you will get meaning behind gestures, and will better understand the power struggle. Despite this novel being bleak there’s is life to it and hidden joys as characters make choices for the betterment of others to survive. Thanks to Netgalley and Flatiron for sending me an Advanced Readers Copy this book was published on December 3 2019.

The Plot: The town of St. Kilda is a small town living on the Wales in the summer of 1727. The town has horrendous winters and must prepare in the summer. There’s an island 4 miles out to sea that is full of birds before they fly south for the winter. The island has been a sort of rite of passage for the boys of the village, to spend three weeks gathering eggs and bird meat. Quill is one of the older boys and the novels narrator, it doesn’t give an age but if had to guess 14, he has just found love for the first time, and doesn’t really want to leave for that matter. But he does and on his first outing on the island is named the leader of boys he finds and almost grabs the king bird. Everthing is going great they have more than enough supplies, but the boat is late picking them up. They continue a month over when doubt sets in and they believe this must be the end of the world, for they’re parents not to save them.

What I Liked: The island setting I thought would get boring but I did not as a couple different caves were explored. The elements as the enemy really worked. It showed how religion can lead to hope but also be manipulated for power. Storytelling as a tool to motivate other from staying positive was used the best. I loved the character of John and the secret he hides, and how it can change everything for desperate men. quill was a good narrator that you follow in highs, lows, and madness. The cover was absolutely beautiful. The story as a whole was really good, there were a couple of lulls in pacing but they did not last long. The reason that the boat does not return was really good and made sense at the end.

What I Disliked: At first it was really hard keeping up with who was an adult who was a kid and the ages. The characters, physical descriptions were barely there, which was one of the reasons that age was so hard to determine. You got to differentiate the people through personality rather then physical traits. The birds were described better then the people.

Recommendations: I you love tales of survival, the obvious story to compare is Lord of the Flies but I saw a lot of 127 Hours in it as well. If you like historical fiction then this is a time a setting that I have never read before, the history aspect felt very real. I feel the Reading age should be 13 due to death, disease, and survival I rated Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Goosebumps: Let’s Get Invisible by R. L. Stine

Let’s Get Invisible by R. L. Stine is the six in the original Goosebumps series, I’m rereading them in order, and giving them to my nephews, but the’ve been so much fun, so I’ve reviewed six so far. This on is all about invisibility, the ultimate way to play hide and seek. Stine always adds something real and relevant to his horrors and this time it is addiction and peer pressure. The group of friends keeps challenging each other to go invisible longer, you’ll hear a lot of really this is the last time, only to do it more and longer. The twist was really good and clever, one of the better twist so far. This one is mild on the scares but you will get the feeling to shout maybe you guys should not do this again. This novel is more focus then others we are shown the device that makes you invisible pretty early for a goose bumps book. I did feel that the gimmick of invisibility started to run out. This story was made into an episode for the Fox TV show, in the 2nd season episode 6 and is currently on Netflix.

The Plot: It’s Max’s birthday party, he had all these outdoor activity’s but it’s raining. 15 kids show up all together but start leaving at 5 (lame). Max is left with his annoying little brother Lefty, Erin the girl he likes and her best friend April the kind of shy timid one. The group are looking for something to do, they watch Terminator but then get bored, Erin who has a thing for attics realizes Max has one and they set up an adventure to the attic. The dog Whitey joins them, they rifle through old magazines when the dog starts pawing at something in the back and find out it’s a small door to a secret room. The rood contains a large old timey mirror that is wood paneled with a light attached above it. Max looks into the mirror marveled at the lack of dust and how clear it is pulls the cord on the light above as all his friend and brother freak out, because he has vanished, Max thinking this is a joke pulled the cord again as he reappears. with his friends asking how he did that. Before he can explore more his friends mom comes. Two days later Max can’t stop thinking about the mirror and little does he know his little brother is thinking the same thing. Max explores late at night and his brother follows wanting to play the ultimate game of hide and seek, they each stand in front to the mirror and pull the cord and play, for a bit when Max starts to fill weird and light all a sudden, he’s had enough and pulls the cord, but he and his brother don’t reappear right away something has gone wrong. They do appear but the more they do it the longer it takes and Max starts noticing something is not right about the return.

What I Liked: A way more focused story than other goosebumps series stories. The fear of not returning is done well. The twist is good, even though the final twist doesn’t make too much sense. The addiction angle was really great, it made me think about how friends in the past have peer pressured me into doing something that maybe weren’t that safe, just like in the story. the invisible prank on the neighbor was a classic make them see something then get someone else and nothing, but it works here.

What I Disliked: There was no history of the mirror, the novel goes out of it’s way to say it used to be the grandparents home before and even has them come over, Lefty tries to mess with them and is foiled by Max, but nothing ever happens. Also the grandparents come over for a meal and it ‘s just chicken noodle soup, really set up your serving game. the invisible angle gets tired with i’m going to quit then does it again. The final twist did not make sense, I liked that is was telegraphed fro the beginning, but with what happens in the climax it didn’t make much sense.

Recommendations: This one is a good one for the younger kids, it teaches them about peer pressure and is not scary, it has a couple prank scares but nothing really scary. I would compare this to Monster Blood where it is not scary and more humorous, I liked this one a lot better than that one. I rated Let’s Get Invisible 4 out of 5 stars. The ranking of the six I’ve read so far, from best to worse is Stay out of the Basement,The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Say Cheese and Die, Let’s Get Invisible, Welcome to Dead House and Monster Blood. I will continue to ready the series in order and give it to my nephews when finished, next up is Night of the Living Dummy.

Book Review: Becoming the Dark Prince by Kerri Maniscalco

Becoming the Dark Prince by Kerri Maniscalco is a novella and book 3.5 in the Stalking Jack The Ripper series. Thomas Cresswell is front and center taking the narrating duties away from Audrey Wadsworth. Thomas is easily my favorite character in the series so I throughly enjoyed getting in his head. This novella throws the reader back on to the RMS Etruria in the midst of the events of book three Escaping from Houdini. Escaping from Houdini was my least favorite of the series so far, that said I really enjoyed this little taste of a story. It does a good job of reminding the reader of the new villain that will be stalking the streets of New York in the new novel Capturing the Devil that releases on September 12th in 2019, it also reminds us of the love that was tested and what has endured on the last adventure to where Thomas and Audrey are in their relationship now. I liked that this story is half retelling from a different perspective and half telling the story of what went on while Audrey was not present.

The Plot: Thomas is first in the middle of book three on the RMS Etruria where Audrey and Liza have just gotten back from the first day of training in the act of the Moonlight Carnaval. Audrey has already made the deal with Mephistopheles so Thomas is dealing with not knowing where he stands with Audrey. Then the story jumps right to the finally and we the reader get to see how exactly Thomas reacted to those events, it was still exciting even knowing the out come. We then get to see how Thomas handled things after Audrey was not present. we get insight in to the conversation that Audrey only overheard bit and pieces with Thomas and Mephistopheles. We also get more insight to the mysterious body in the crate and how it relates or not to the killer of the Moonlight Carnaval.

What I Liked: Thomas’s voice for the story really worked for me all the insecurities and how he starts to count when overwhelmed. The love of Audrey and Thomas is the heart of the story and is written so beautifully. I loved finding out about Audrey’s new cane and all the thought that Thomas put in to it and the dialogue with the shop keeper about Audrey’s knife fights The cane looks so awesome featured on the cover of Capturing the Devil, just like how I pictured it in my head. I really enjoyed the back and forth with Thomas and Mephistopheles. The cover for this fits with the other’s but finally helped me have a glimpse of Thomas Cresswell’s frame.

What I Disliked I would have liked to relive more of the acts leading up to the finally and what went through Thomas’s head when she volunteered after the warnings. I was hoping for a little bit more knowledge of the new killer, and Thomas’s testimony about the Moonlight Carnival Killer.

Recommendations: The story is 99 cents and I feel so worth it as a fan, you will get more insight into the lives of character’s and events. Do not read this if you have not read Escaping from Houdini, because you will know who killer is. I rated this story slightly higher than Escaping Houdini and give it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. my best to worst order is Hunting Prince Dracula, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Becoming the Dark Prince, and Escaping from Houdini. I’m more excited now than I was for Capturing the Devil.

Book Review: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas is a compelling coming age story about truth of one’s words and perception of being labeled a thug/hood rat while teenage female African-American rapper manages life and expectation. This is the second novel by Thomas after her blockbuster debut of The Hate U Give, this novel takes place a year after the incidences in that novel (all events are referred to and just a place and time setting and as a reward for the reader who read The Hate U Give, but there is no recurring characters). This is a really good follow up to the excellent The Hate U Give, which was five starred review by me, It manages to look at real issues of poverty, drug addiction, gang influence, and all the effects it has on the family. The rhymes and raps are really good, and very smart.

The Plot: Brianna (Bri) has always wanted to be a rapper just like her dad Law, only problem is Law was gunned down when she was just a baby. So to her mother Jay who turned to drugs after her husbands death and her older brother Trey who hides a lot of resentment for his father still is not the career path that anyone wants for Bri, but she is determined. The only one she can trust with her raps are her two best friends from school Malik and Sonny and her Aunt Pooh who is a drug dealer in the local gang and looked up to Bri’s father until his death. Bri goes to her first rap battle and catches lighting in a bottle, as she beat the son of her late father’s manager. Bri gets a couple of offers and ends up recording a song On the Come Up that is based on a hostile incident that happened at her school based on racial profiling. Her song that express her anger towards the incident is misinterpreted leading some to think that she is a gangster and disses a rival gang of her cousin, the same gang that killed her father might want to harm her.

What I Liked: The novel moves at a fast pace, every scene has a purpose. Really good scenes depicting what really being poor is about. I like the way the story analyzes one races point of view against the other in terms of Bri’s rap being violent or provoking violence. The scene where Jojo the eight year old idolizes Bri as a gangster, and she learns the consequences of her words. The relationship angle worked of Bri finding love. I did call early who Sonny’s online mystery date is and was really happy with the results. I liked seeing the cultural reaction to the Marvel film Black Panther to the story. I really liked the raps, and how thought provoking and clever they were. I loved the portrayal of Trey the brother and how much he sacrifices for is family.  I like the LGTBQ side characters.

What I Disliked: The descriptions of people was really lacking so some people were hard to picture for me. Bri was sometimes very hard too like because of her actions and how stand offish she is, it’s explained but it takes a while to get there. I thought the church scene was the only scene that was not needed and that scene was way too long. I wanted a little bit more wrap up at the end, and want to know what happened to Pooh in general and the Crowns at the concert.

Recommendations: On the Come Up is a really good important read, I personally liked The Hate U Give more but this is a solid story that takes hold of you. Angie Thomas doesn’t use big words or amazing prose, but she gets to the heart and the truth of her character’s so effortlessly. Also if you like Angie Thomas you should check out the excellent Jason Reynolds as well. I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars it was super close to five but didn’t meet the standard for me. I will be eagerly anticipating Angie Thomas’s next book. A little warning the book does have a fair bit of cussing, so if you get it for a younger reader consider that, but i do think it’s an important read.

Book Review: Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

Escaping from Houdini is the Third Stalking Jack the Ripper book that follows the adventures of Audrey Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell as the investigate corpses and always find trouble in the late 1800’s. The opening was without a doubt the best one of the series it quickly pulled me in, and moved really for the first half, then it started to slow down and run out of good suspects for the mystery. I stopped caring about the victims who stopped being memorable after the first couple. I wanted to like this one more than I did.

The Plot: After the events in Stalking Prince Dracula, Audrey and Thomas are headed on a journey to America from England. Audrey’s Uncle and mentor in autopsies joins her on this journey. They set sail on a 7 day voyage on the RMS Etruria, a luxury cruiser of the time, this trip is different because of the new dinner entertainment the Moonlight Carnival, Which is a dozen or so acts featuring a young Houdini, the act promises, mayhem, madness, and possibly death, and that’s what the show delivers, a murder takes places right in front of the audience at Audrey and Thomas’s table. This murder leads to other’s and the ship pointing fingers at the mysterious performers. Audrey and Thomas are put to the test to find the killer or killers.

What I Liked: The opening is done so well, easily my favorite part. Character’s from the first book are back in this one, they were deeply missed. The love story aspect still works I liked them a lot more when Audrey and Thomas were in sync. The bits that Houdini were in worked well, but few and far between. I did like that they have one murder that can’t be explained which will fit into the next book but worked really well.

What I Disliked: The pacing was good for the first half then lost me, as character’s keep going back and forth to the same location. The explanation for the killings was good but the build up to it pretty bad and didn’t care towards the end. I needed to care about the victims but half of them I could barely remember them interacting with Audrey, which made they’re death not that impactful.

Recommendations: I think this is the weakest of the trilogy so far, I would rate this book 3 out of 5 stars while I rated the other books 4 out of 5. I would give the series 4 out of 5 stars so far the last book in the series Capturing the Devil was just announced for September and I plan on reading it, to complete the series.


Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

This book is great, this was a reread for me, my library cleverly celebrated the acquiring of Vengeful, which all copies were already borrowed out, with a display featuring V. E. Schwab’s and I wanted to revisit the first novel I read of her’s.  This book is amazing very dark, featuring misunderstood characters.  I’m so glad this is the first book in a trilogy, even though this book has a definitive end there’s still a lot more to explore in this world, or worlds.  Since I have read the series this book is the perfect first step into the ever expanding world that keeps growing.

The plot: Kell is a traveler of Worlds there is the real world which is referred as Grey London, which is the London of the early 1800’s London, where magic is only a myth,  The there’s Red London where magic exist to enrich lives, there’s White London the uses magic to corrupt, and then there is Black London that is now barred because the magic grew so powerful it imploded, they shut all the magical doors to Black London and destroyed all magical artifacts. The trouble starts when a Black magic artifact is smuggled in to Grey London by an unknown Kell who sells safe magical items from other London’s to magic aficionados, all hell breaks lose when a pickpocket named Lila steals the black magic artifact and starts infecting people all over London, the only way to get rid of it is to head to Black London, now that Lila is apart of this she must venture with Kell through the different London’s. The plot thickens as we learn who set Kell up and there plans to rule all the Londons.

What I Liked: Kell and the relationship with his brother and Lila.  The creations of all the different London’s.  The ending left me floored on multiple levels.  The character of Lila, is some of Schwab’s best character work, she’s good at writing these great antihero character’s like Lila and Victor from Villainous, but she adds this third layer of androgyny which really separates how this character deals with the world and those around her.  I do like that in the story King George the third is mad because he’s exposed to magic and no one will believe him. Kell’s job and side job are really interesting.

What I Disliked: I wanted to understand the magic a little bit more until it comes to the shit hits the fan moment. Prince Rhy is a character that does develop over the series but I wanted a lot more from him as a character. All we really get is he’s charming and he does love Kell.

Recommendations: This book has a fast moving plot and was very easy to read, I really enjoyed it, and where it took my imagination, I recommend this book for Young adults who want more adult subject matter, it is a good transition book. There is light cussing and a good deal of blood shed. This is one of my rare 5 out of 5 star reviews.


Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way Down is my first John Green book. This story has a lot of really good moments, but the story is kind of sold as a mystery and should’ve been sold as a solid character piece. Green’s character work is great in Aza showing how she deals with anxiety disorder while being a teenager dealing with love and loss, but the mystery is just a place holder to get two character’s together, and not really solve the mystery. It does eventually get solved, to a whimper. because it’s not really about that.

The plot is a girl Aza who’s dealing with anxiety disorder and her friend Daisy that has her own issues, find out about a missing billionaire. Aza befriended the son, Davis during camp and have since fallen out a couple of years ago. The police offer a 100,000 dollar reward because the dad is expected of insider trading. Daisy convinces to try to start up her friendship with Davis so they can find the whereabouts of the dad, to get the money, but she kind of falls for Davis.

What I liked: Those are the stronger moments and the portrayal of Aza a character with anxiety disorder, is very strong. I someone who has dealt with anxiety disorder, I do wish this character were available to me to identify with when I had it as a teenager.
Daisy and her Star Wars fan fiction of a relationship between Rey and Chewbacca is great I might reread this years later for that alone.  Davis and how he views and explains the stars. I thought the passage about turtles all the way down was interesting.

What I Disliked: the mystery is just such a let down and not really important.  To compare it would be like To Kill a Mockingbird was about the mystery of Boo Radley, That just a small part of the overall story and that is what the mystery is to this story.   I felt the mom character would’ve been an adult and not let Aza make such a big decision at the end, it works out eventually.

Recommendations: I would definitely recommend it for people dealing with anxiety disorder, to have a voice.  People who enjoy fan fiction will get a kick out of Daisy’s many stories. I would not recommend this for mystery lovers. Based on my only reading one John Green book I would recommend reading another of his more plot heavy books.  I gave this 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Batman: Nightwalker is kind of a misnomer, because Batman is not in this book, This is a Smallville version of Bruce Wayne before he was Batman when he turns 18. This left a pretty good opportunity for a great story, but it’s just okay. There’s was things that I liked a lot is this book, but I felt most of it was a missed opportunity to add the the Batman/Bruce Wayne mythos. The people that are relevant in the later years are few and far between, there’s of course Alfred, Lucious Fox, Harvey Dent, James Gordon, and vague hints at Killer Croc and Zsasz. The villains the Nightwalkers are new editions and one of the best parts of this novel.

The Plot: The Nightwalkers are terrorizing the rich elites of Gotham. Bruce Wayne has just turned 18 and inherited all of Thomas and Martha Wayne’s assets. Bruce throws a huge party for his 18th party, filled with a lot of people he doesn’t even know his only friend’s are Dianne, and Harvey Dent. He has a run in with a former friend the Mayor’s son, who only comes around when he seems to want something, and he wants Bruce to lie for him. Bruce refuses and just wants to leave. He ends up driving around in a supped up WayneTech Aston Marten car. He witnesses a police chase that the suspect is getting away, Bruce snaps and goes into action chasing the criminal down and crashes his car into his. Bruce then finds out the driver was one of the Nightwalkers. Bruce is not rewarded for his action but is give community service at Arkham Asylum for interfering with a police investigation. He has to sweep and mop the female wing and solitary confinement area, Bruce witnesses detective questioning one female prisoner that is a member of the Nightcrawlers, she stares off and doesn’t say anything to them. The next day when they are alone she talks to him, he soon learns he is the only person she’s talked to and she’s murdered three people. The police involve Bruce to try to get information while he’s talking to her a riot breaks out and he has to protect her. Bruce is starting to feel attached she gives him information on a weapons stash but doesn’t tell him about the next victim where the mayor is murdered. Bruce feels as he’s getting closer but his friends and Alfred are starting to worry. She reveals that he’s on the list of targets but is vague about details, notices a code in her words and actions, but will he figure it out in time? Is she a killer or a victim?

What I liked: The descriptions of Arkham Asylum are really detailed and you feel the dirt and grime of the place. I did like Bruce getting catcalled by the female inmates. The action is written really well, when it is there. I like the question it makes Bruce Wayne ask about what is justice? Madeline is a great femme fatale. The Nightwalkers are kind of throwaway bad guys, But Lu adds a lot to them and giving them reason. The little twist towards the end was well done. There are a lot of women in powerful roles and women henchwomen. something that Gotham is is not know for, so that was refreshing. Alfred called Bruce, his ward, was a great moment.

What I disliked: Bruce is moody but not really dark, his parents passed away only 5 years ago and he seems to well adjusted. The friendship with Harvey Dent was wasted, they did dig a little bit into Harvey’s abusive relationship with his dad, but there could’ve been a lot more, since he later turns into Two Face. There’s not a lot of action, when it is there it’s good but there’s only three scenes of action, I wanted the prison riot to last longer, and bigger stakes. The Mayor’s son story line falls flat, it could have been more interesting.

Recommendations: If your a casual Batman fan I would recommend skipping this, it doesn’t add anything to the mythos. I would recommend this for a good introduction to Batman, which seems to be the audience the book is aiming at. Warcross by Marie Lu has been a book that keeps getting recommended to me, reading this actually makes me want to read an original story, because when she creates something new it’s good like the bad guys, but where this book struggles is when she has to fit the story into the Batman legacy she doesn’t add much and you can feel the push back. For this book review I give it 2.5 out of 5.

There are currently 4 books in the young adult DC icons series, featuring Wonder Woman, Batman, Catwoman, and Superman I have heard that Wonder Woman: Warbreaker is great and I will like that one a bit more. The comic book nerd in me wants to eventually read them all.

Reviews By Ryan Hixson Readingwithmyeyes

Book Review: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

Hunting Prince Dracula the second in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. I feel in a lot of ways it is vastly improved from the first novel in terms of scope and descriptions. In the first novel the author was kind of handcuffed by using Jack the Ripper’s real crimes and building a novel around it, but this is a totally new tale where we get the author’s own vision. The body count is up, the dissections are more detailed, and there’s bucket loads of blood. The horror is ratcheted up, it takes a little while to get to the real horror but I have a phobia to one element that was described really well making my skin all creepy crawly.

The Plot: This novel takes days after the last one with Audrey Rose still dealing with torment that she and her family went through in the last book, and doesn’t know if she can pursue forensic medicine and operate on the dead. Thomas, her still will they won’t they “friend”, accompanies Audrey Rose to they’re new school forensic medicine at Castle Bran in Romania, the once home of Vlad the Impaler of Dracula lineage. While on the Orient Express heading to Romania a young man is murdered by a wooden stake, just outside their cabin. They see a pale sickly boy leave the scene as the police arrive. When they get to the cabin they’re not at all welcomed the headmaster thought Audrey’s application was a possible joke, and they find out there spot is not guaranteed and out of the 9 classmates only 2 will be taken. When they meet their fellow students two stick out Prince Nicolae part of the royal family and an heir through marriage to Vlad the Impaler, and she meets the sick pale boy from the train. They plan to question him, but before they can he is found impaled and with two marks on this body and all his blood drained in the nearest town. Another woman in town goes missing, as more bodies start turning up. Is this the work of a Vampire? Audrey and Thomas are determined to find out, but will it be too late?

What I liked: The setting of Bran Castle in Romania is a great location that is filled with it’s own set mysteries. The castle is both creepy and you feel the confinement by the elements and other things keeping them from exiting. Really great female characters in this story besides Audrey, the first book really missed that. The secrets revealed about the castle and people are really intriguing. The ending kept me on the edge of my seat the last fifty pages are so good, if the rest of the novel were like it, I would give it five stars without question. There’s a false scare that is written really well, you can almost see the author’s smiling crimson lips as she gets the reader. Feminism is still prevalent throughout and because there are other female characters not just Audrey bucks the system. The Thomas Audrey relationship is challenged more in this one, but the banter is still there and flows really well. Thomas does have the dumbest guy prank, that I slapped my head with what was he thinking, but it was not out of character, I can see a lot of my friends do that to someone they’re interested in thinking it was a good idea. I made a complaint in the last one that I figured it out to easily because the possible suspects were so low, but in this one almost every character is a suspect so it made figuring it out who did it really difficult. This book does have an Indiana Jones moment and it is great. I forgot to put this in my first review but the covers are absolutely beautiful, and really drew me in.

What I disliked: There’s a lot of family history, and it was always made clear to me who was related to who and how they were related to the Vlad the Impaler lineage. It made my head spin and could have been explained better. The other students needed more personality, the Italians, Prince Nicolae and the American where the only memorable students the rest seem to blend in. The writing is still current and not at all old timey, the occasional use of Romanian langue worked though. The middle slows down a lot and I had to plod through in parts.

I recommend this book for reader of the first book Stalking Jack the Ripper, I liked this more than the last one, in terms of stake secrets, and finale. The author does her research and if you want some facts on Vlad the Impaler, just like in Ripper, I learned something. Where I struggled in the last one between a three and a four star, this was an easy 4 out of 5 stars.  I will definitely be checking out Escaping from Houdini when it comes out next week.

Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper is a fantastic debut! It is set in Victorian England but feels fresh using feminist ideas from today’s society questioning what is lady-like? This novel doesn’t hold back on blood and descriptions of the horrid acts. The novel uses the real crimes and letter’s from Jack the Ripper to enhance the realism of this bloody tale. There’s a picture of the original note that Jack sent to the police. The author takes license with the Jack’s story to better fit into the narrative of her own story.

The Plot: Audrey Rose Wadsworth lives in the year 1888 in London, at a time that an unknown figure was stalking and killing prostitutes. Audrey also lives in a time that is set on what a lady should and should not do, But she bucks the system, by assisting her uncle by investigating and dissecting the corpses of the recently deceased. Audrey does this all under the cover, she goes dressed as a boy to forensic science classes. Her father does not approve of this behavior, and has been more strict with his daughter as his wife passed away years ago from a sickness. Her brother who used to let her slide has been more protective as well, so she is led to sneaking out at night. Her Uncle has a new mysterious helper named Thomas that she’d either going to love or going to hate. He also doesn’t live by society’s rules, as he spends his time operating on the unclaimed dead. The killer grows more bold and Audrey notices a pattern that the all the dead women have, that makes her fear that the killer could be someone she knows. She’s also battling societies restrictions placed on her, but she’s determined to find out who the killer is by Stalking Jack the Ripper.

What I liked: The opening really puts you into what kind of story this is as Audrey cuts into one of Jack’s first victims. The character of Audrey Rose Wadsworth is written really well and you can’t help rooting for her. I like the way that Audrey and Thomas flirt, there relationship was very tenacious and combative. The author using the real words of Jack the Ripper and the crimes, they’re already so horrific nothing is added to this element. I liked that I learned stuff that I didn’t know about Jack the Ripper, or Saucy Jack. The descriptions and word choice was one of the better I’ve read in the category of Young Adult.

What I disliked: The character’s dialogue did not have any cockney to it, I felt the setting was correct but not the way they talked just felt very modern, which was probably a conscience choice but I needed a little to fully emerge myself. There was not enough suspects, only four really and I was able to figure it out too early by simply eliminating, who could have done it. I read a lot of mystery, which helped so it might not be as obvious as it was to me. The story was still great and I questioned it a couple times if I was indeed wrong.

I would recommend this for fans of Jack the Ripper. I also think this could be a good stepping stone novel to adult horror. The story reminded me of a young adult version of the excellent Matthew Corbett series written by Robert R. McCammon. I rated this novel I rated 4 out of 5 stars, because what this novel did right it did very well.