Thursday, September 28, 2017

Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

I really wanted to love this book. It's about Jack the Ripper, with a female protagonist billed as smart and defying society's conventions, and published under James' Patterson's new imprint. Plus the next book in the series features Dracula.

Sadly, I did not love this book.

It's not a bad book by any means, I just didn't feel it's a very good book either. It starts out strong, with Audrey Rose Wadsworth, born into wealth and high society, but with a passion for forensic medicine. She is drawn into the Jack the Ripper murders by working on the corpses of the unfortunate victims.

But it's here that the book started to lose me.  A lot of the character development just doesn't make a lot of sense. The writing unfortunately starts to veer into corny and cliched, and a lot seems to come out of left field. Also, why is Audrey Rose allowed so much police access-not only allowed, but specifically brought in (she is seventeen years old)? I saw the ending coming from a long way away, and thought the very last chapter didn't make any sense in the context of all the characters had done and said before.

This book definitely has potential. The romance has some good banter, and Audrey Rose is a strong female character to carry the book. The author discusses in the back of the book all the liberties she took with dates and times and historical facts surrounding Jack the Ripper, and I think that shows in the story. The book meanders around, and it's disjointedness keeps it from holding itself together as the good book it could have been.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: The Van Gogh Deception

Title: The Van Gogh Deception
Author: Deron Hicks
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Genre: Middle Grade/Mystery
Recommended If You Like: art and art history, smart kid characters, quick fun mysteries

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book:

When a young boy with amnesia is found sitting in The National Gallery, it sets off an adventure full of art and mystery.

What I Liked:

I loved all the art and art history in this! It was really well integrated and added a lot to the book.

The main characters of Art and Camilla were a lot of fun too, and made a great pair. I loved that the kid characters were well-rounded, smart, and loyal.

Anything I Didn't Like?

The book occasionally felt a little slow at times. I did feel it could be tightened up a bit.


This was a fun, quick read that I think adults and middle graders alike could and would enjoy. The art history aspect was a wonderful bonus.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Review: The Fever

I am a big fan of Megan Abbot's books. She creates these amazing mysteries, but what's perhaps even more impressive is the story she tells around the mystery.

In The Fever, a group of girls begin to exhibit mysterious symptoms, that seem to have no rhyme or reason to them. While various theories are frantically bandied around, and public health services are called in, a small town becomes terrified, searching for anyone and anything to blame for what is happening to their children.

Abbot really gets at the psychological underpinnings of what makes us human. She explores how much the unknown frightens us, and how the desire to turn the unknown to known, and to protect our families, drives us to do things we never would do otherwise. Abbot also unpicks the heart of female friendships, their complexities and depths, and the way the world views women.

When you read an Abbot book, you are getting not only a great mystery full of surprises, but psychological suspense that delves deep into the heart of humanity.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Review: The Drowning Tree

Title: The Drowning Tree
Author: Carol Goodman
Publication Date: December 28, 2004
Genre: Psychological Suspense/Mystery
Recommended If You Like: Goodman's other books, psychological explorations, art woven into mysteries

The Book:

When Juno reluctantly attends her college reunion, only there to support her best friend Christine as she gives an art history lecture, she doesn't expect to have Christine's speech spiral out in dangerous repercussions that will reverberate throughout her past and present, and challenge everything she thinks she knows.

What I Liked:

I love Goodman's writing style. It feels so immediate and puts you right in her characters' heads.

Goodman does an excellent job of exploring so many different types of relationships, from female friendships, to mother and daughter, to sisters, to lovers.

And of course the mystery-there are so many layers to it, and I was constantly being surprised by new revelations.

Anything I Didn't Like?

There was so much going on, that occasionally it got a little confusing. I really appreciated how many storylines Goodman was able to weave together, but I did sometimes struggle to keep everyone and everything straight.


This is a beautiful, introspective, and twisty mystery full of powerful characters and lots of surprises. I definitely recommend this book.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII Signup!

I always look forward to the R.I.P. Challenge, it's so much fun!

As described on the blog:

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:
Dark Fantasy.
The emphasis is never on the word challenge, instead it is about coming together as a community and embracing the autumnal mood, whether the weather is cooperative where you live or not.

Peril the First:
1) Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (reread)
2) The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman
3) The Fever by Megan Abbott
4) Crazy House by James Patterson
5) Cross the Line by James Patterson
6) Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs
7) The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagencrantz
8) Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
9) The Store by James Patterson
10) There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
11) Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander
12) A Witch in Time by Madelyn Alt
13. Hell House by Richard Matheson
14) Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn
15) House of Furies by Madeleine Roux
16) Midnight Reynolds and the Spectral Transformer by Catherine Holt
17) A Lesson in Murder by Augustus Cileone
18) A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander

Peril on the Screen:
1) Shutter Island (rewatch)
2) American Horror Story: Cult: Episode 1
3) American Horror Story: Cult: Episode 2
4) American Horror Story: Cult: Episode 3
5) Scream (rewatch)
6) Scream 2 (rewatch)
7) Scream 3 (rewatch)
8) Scream 4 (rewatch)
9) Lucifer: Season 2: Episode 15
10) Lucifer: Season 2: Episode 16
11) Lucifer: Season 2: Episode 17
12) American Horror Story: Cult: Episode 4
13) American Horror Story: Cult: Episode 5
14) Lucifer: Season 2: Episode 18
15) Lucifer: Season 3: Episode 1
16) And Then There Were None (2015): Episode 1 (rewatch)
17) The Legend of Hill House (1973)
18) Mindhunter: Season 1: Episode 1
19) And Then There Were None (2015): Episode 2 (rewatch)
20) And Then There Were None (2015): Episode 3 (rewatch)
21) American Horror Story: Cult: Episode 6
22) American Horror Story: Cult: Episode 7
23) Slasher Season 2: Episode 1
24) Slasher Season 2: Episode 2
25) Slasher Season 2:  Episode 3
26) Slasher Season 2 : Episode 4
27) Slasher Season 2: Episode 5
28) Slasher Season 2: Episode 6
29) Slasher Season 2: Episode 7
30) Slasher Season 2: Episode 8
31) Mindhunter: Season 1: Episode 2
32) Criminal Minds: Season 13: Episode 1
33) Criminal Minds: Season 13: Episode 2
34) Criminal Minds: Season 13: Episode 3
35) Criminal Minds: Season 13: Episode 4

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Review: Thornhill

Title: Thornhill
Author: Pam Smy
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Genre: Middle Grade/Graphic Novel/Gothic/Horror/Suspense/Paranormal
Recommended If You Like: quick reads with eerie pictures, books told in diary format, parallel stories that intersect, one side of the story told entirely in pictures

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book:

The words tell the story of Mary, an orphan who lived in Thornhill as a ward of the state before it was shut down. The pictures tell the story of Ella, who finds herself alone in the house across from Thornhill after her mother passes away and her father loses himself in work.

What I Liked:

The pictures were so striking, and really captured the eeriness of the story. The use of first person narration through Mary's diary made everything feel very immediate, just like it felt to both Mary and Ella. This book definitely grabbed me, and flew by.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I found not having any words with Ella's side of the story did make things a little confusing for me. I occasionally had trouble following what was going on.


This would be a great read with fall coming up, especially as Halloween draws near. It could scare younger readers, but it definitely has a captivating spooky tale to tell that can pull in adults as well.