Review: Stalking Jack the RipperTitle: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #1
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Thriller, YA
Pages: 392
Source: Own
For: Play Book Tag, Unofficial Trim Challenge
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

Against Audrey Rose's stern father's wishes and society's expectations, she often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey Rose into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

My Thoughts

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Jack the Ripper ever since I was a teenager. I watched a couple of TV miniseries fictionalizing his rampage of terror with my parents and I often wondered who the real Ripper was and why he did what he did.

I’ve been excited to read STALKING JACK THE RIPPER ever since I knew the book existed. I just never took the time to read it. I’m so glad I finally did. I loved how Maniscalco wove the historical in with the fiction. I loved seeing the events of Jack’s murders through the eyes of Audrey Rose and the other characters around her.

Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.

One of the things I loved about STALKING JACK THE RIPPER was reading about the science of the times. In Maniscalco’s author’s note, she said she tried to remain as true to the capabilities of the time as possible. I thought it was really interesting that even though most of society scorned the work of forensic scientists because they thought it ungodly and mad, scientists were able to do all they did without the many advancements we have today.

I loved the cast of characters in STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, including Jack. Even though I guessed who Jack was in the end, I was surprised how it all went down. It made for a fun, surprising ending that I really enjoyed. View Spoiler »

I’m glad I finally took the time to read STALKING JACK THE RIPPER. Even though I’ve watched several miniseries and movies about the infamous Ripper, this is my first book. I now want to read more books and see how they compare. I also look forward to reading more by Maniscalco as I enjoyed her writing.

Have you read STALKING JACK THE RIPPER? If so, what did you think?

Review: A River EnchantedTitle: A River Enchanted
Author: Rebecca Ross
Series: Elements of Cadence #1
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 480
Source: Own
For: Book of the Month
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1.5 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.

My Thoughts

I’m so glad I chose A RIVER ENCHANTED as my February Book of the Month choice. As soon as I started to read the story of Cadence and its inhabitants, I was hooked. When I was reading A RIVER ENCHANTED, I didn’t want to put it down and I couldn’t stop thinking about it in between reads. I stayed up until 4am on Sunday night finishing it because I was that invested in the characters and the story. I haven’t done that for a very long time.

I loved that RIVER ENCHANTED was written from different POVs and that it wasn’t done chapter by chapter. The story was told from whoever’s POV it needed to be told from at that moment. (Don’t worry. It’s not confusing in any way.) I also loved all the characters and the slow-burn romances. I wish there was more kissing, but I’m glad the story wasn’t sacrificed for the romance.

I once thought home was simply a place. Four walls to hold you at night while you slept. But I was wrong. It’s people. It’s being with the ones that you love, and maybe even the ones that you hate.

I adored the mythology of A RIVER ENCHANTED. It was fascinating. The magical system with the spirits was fun to read about and experience.

I really loved the Scottish feel to A RIVER ENCHANTED and I think Ross could’ve pushed that aspect of the story a lot more. My guess is she didn’t want to make it hard for her readers to pronounce the names and places or dialogue between the characters. Because she didn’t embrace the Scottishness whole-heartedly, the story felt a little YA at times. (Ross states in her “review” on Goodreads that A RIVER ENCHANTED started out that way.) The YA feel doesn’t take away from the story. However, as a lover of adult high fantasy, I think A RIVER ENCHANTED could’ve been that much better if Ross had pushed the envelope a lot more.

I’ve been trying to decide if I want to give A RIVER ENCHANTED 4 or 5 stars. I finally settled on 4.5 stars. I’m so glad I finally got a chance to read it. It was a delight to read and I look forward to reading its sequel. It’s going to be a very long wait until December View Spoiler ».

Have you read A RIVER ENCHANTED? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for cutting, physical assault, mention of stillbirths, and loss of a child and parent.

Review: FangirlTitle: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 457
Source: Own
For: Unofficial Trim Challenge
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

Now that Cath and her twin sister are going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words ... and she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

My Thoughts

I’ve been wanting to read FANGIRL ever since I first heard about it. I’ve just never gotten around to it. I’m glad I put it on my Unofficial Trim Challenge list because I finally read it and it was just as good as I’d hoped it would be.

I loved the whole concept of FANGIRL. Other than the writing fanfiction thing because I don’t do that, I connected with Cath so hard. I’ve been obsessed with fandoms like she and Wren are with Simon before. I’ve met friends in forums and then IRL who are still some of my best friends. I’ve traveled with those friends to settings in the books we love. And, I’ve read fanfics because I wanted those fandoms to live on.

There are other people on the Internet. It’s awesome. You get all the benefits of ‘other people’ without the body odor and the eye contact.

I also loved reading the excerpts not only from the “original” Simon books, but also from Cath’s fanfiction, especially CARRY ON, SIMON. The excerpts made me love the characters almost as much as Cath does. I’m excited that Rowell decided to write CARRY ON so I can read it at some point.

I loved the slow-burn romance between Cath and Levi. I loved their relationship. It was so cute and swoony. There were times when I wanted less Simon because I wanted more kissing, lol. And, I liked the story just the way it was too because Rowell explored some really tough subjects, like abandonment, addiction, and mental illness.

Ever since I finished reading FANGIRL, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to give it 4 or 5 stars. I finally settled on 4.5 stars, but that might change.

Have you read FANGIRL? If so, what did you think?

Review: The Sound of StarsTitle: The Sound of Stars
Author: Alechia Dow
Series: The Starry-Eyed Universe #1
Genre(s): Romance, Science Fiction, YA
Pages: 432
Source: Library
For: Black History Month
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When young Ilori commander Morris finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. But Morris isn’t a typical Ilori ... and Ellie and her books might be the key to a desperate rebellion of his own.

My Thoughts

I really wanted to read a book or two for Black History Month this year by supporting a Black author. Goodreads had a post at the beginning of February showcasing a bunch of books written by Black authors and THE SOUND OF STARS and THE KINDRED by Alechia Dow, companion novels in her Starry-Eyed Universe, caught my eye. Time got the better of me and I didn’t finish reading either of them in time. Fortunately, I finished reading THE SOUND OF STARS this week. Better late than never, right?

It took me a little bit to get into THE SOUND OF STARS. Once I did, though, I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up late reading it a couple of nights, savoring the story I was reading.

One of my favorite things about THE SOUND OF STARS was its message of inclusivity. There were so many LGBTQ+ characters, including Ellie. Dow didn’t shove a pro-LGBTQ+ agenda in your face or anything; she just had characters that identified in different ways and the other characters were accepting and considerate of them and their pronouns.

Some people were always valued, and some people never were. … We asked for equality and they thought we were asking for more.

I also loved how Dow used the invasion of Earth by the Ilori as a way to talk about racism, prejudice, police brutality, and other current hot topics. It added to the story by giving it more depth, strengthened Ellie and M0Rr1S’ connection, and made the story more memorable.

I really enjoyed Dow’s creativity. THE SOUND OF STARS was fun and engaging. I look forward to reading more books not only in the Starry-Eyed Universe, but written by Alechia Dow as well.

Have you read THE SOUND OF STARS? If so, what did you think?

Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved BeforeTitle: To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 368
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

Goodreads Amazon

There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. One for every boy she's ever loved. The letters are for her eyes only. Until the day they are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

My Thoughts

I’ve wanted to read TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE ever since it became a huge phenomenon because of the Netflix movie. Yet, I’m only just reading it now because it’s my IRL book club’s book for February. (I’m excited that I can finally watch the Netflix movie at least! Woot woot! ) There are minor spoilers in this review.

I really liked Lara Jean and her sisters. I also really liked the interaction between Lara Jean and the two main guys, the boy next door and Mister Cocky-Handsome-Everyone-Loves-Me. What I didn’t like is that two main guys meant that there was a love triangle. I despise love triangles. They’re my least favorite YA trope. They’re the main reason I don’t read as much YA romance anymore.

Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s part of the risk.

Even though TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE had a love triangle, I decided to be optimistic. I even told myself, maybe Lara Jean will end up with the boy I want her to. Of course, all kinds of chaos ensued and it was a lot of fun to read and witness. I actually really enjoyed the story, but the ending, or non-ending I should say, almost ruined it all for me!

I like choosing to read the next book in a series because I want to, not because I have to. I understand series have cliffhangers; I’ve just never read one quite like this and in the first book. At this point, I’m not sure I’m going to continue the series. I’ll probably just see if I can get what I need from the Netflix movie(s).

I’ve been trying to decide if I want to rate TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE 3 or 4 stars. I’m settling on 3.5 stars. (I find myself giving out more half-star ratings.)

Have you read TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for loss of a parent.