Review of Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

SJtRCoverStalking Jack the Ripper
By: Kerri Maniscalco
Release Date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Format: Print ARC
Source: TLA Convention

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey 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 into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

My Thoughts:
I was so excited to get an early copy of this book because the description was so ‘me’.  I just knew this novel would be so much fun and I was totally correct in thinking that. Maniscalco created likeable characters that exude that “Sherlock and Watson” feel. Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell had great dialog and chemistry. I loved their banter and I look forward to seeing where their story goes together.

Audrey Rose was a strong willed woman in an age where that was frowned upon. Her father and brother were constantly trying to tame her and keep her from her interest in anatomy. I love that her Uncle disregards this and decides to include her in his experiments and investigations. I really loved the mentor/student relationship they had and how easy it was to get a grasp of who her uncle was.

There is always something awesome about an arrogant, highly intelligent “Sherlock” type. Why am I drawn to these types? I’ll never know but Thomas filled this role perfectly. I loved that he didn’t care about convention or how things should be. He speaks inappropriately and was an actual flirt (sort of rare in these types of books). I couldn’t help but blush and smile with Audrey at his flirtations.

I didn’t feel that this book took itself too seriously though the anatomy and topic were serious and well done. I felt that research was involved and it showed in the way the descriptions were done. I also loved the touch of having period photographs sporadically in the book. I had a phase in high school where I was enthralled with the psychology of serial killers so I did some heavy reading on the topic of profiling. I never ventured too deeply into the Jack Ripper case though, like everyone, it always was a source of intrigue. I think we all wonder who exactly was behind these horrible slayings. I was very drawn to Jack the Ripper being the villain in this story and the fact that the book called on real evidence (his letters to the newspapers). I think it really added a wonderful touch to the world building and story telling.

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Final Thoughts:
I am so impressed that Maniscalco took the topic of Jack the Ripper and turned it on its head. Not only did she add in some historically relevant things she also was able to keep the book from being dry by including humor and a lightness that kept the book from being overly dark. I think this was and excellent start and I’m so happy there will be a sequel (or two) coming up.

Review of Shutter by Courtney Alameda

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By: Courtney Alameda
Release Date: February 3rd 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She’s aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera’s technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

My Thoughts:
That cover is SO CREEPY. I had to turn the book over as I read because that face staring at me was not working. I found Shutter to be a somewhat creepy read that I enjoyed though didn’t love. I had a bit of a disconnect with the characters though I did like them. I think I would have been more scared if I had been more emotionally attached. Regardless, the story’s pacing and action sequences did work for me. There was a countdown aspect to the story- only so much time to solve the case or DEATH- and this did add tension (obviously). I enjoyed watching the soulchain curse grow on the character’s bodies…I’ve noticed lately I really delight in the character’s pain. Not sure what this says about me?

The story was told from Micheline’s point of view. I enjoyed the character’s unique skills that allowed them to excel in ghost hunting and thought it was especially wonderful to include an analog SLR camera as a weapon against spiritual entities. I’m a photographer (for fun) and so I had an easy time connecting to this aspect of the story. Trapping ghosts on film and then developing said film? Awesome! I loved the visuals of watching the images show up while alone, in a dark room. Where my disconnect came was with the secondary characters as well as the romance.

There wasn’t anything wrong with the interactions between characters I just had trouble really feeling the chemistry between them. I think with additional books I’d come to love the characters more? I hope so.  The romance was well done but it didn’t sweep me away and honestly was a tad forgettable. That’s sort of my problem with the book–the characters didn’t stick with me. I will say that some of the ghost scenes did. A month or so after reading I still remember many of the ghost interactions and think they were done so incredibly well. For me, that was the highlight of the book.

Final Thoughts:
Shutter was well worth the read and brought some fun aspects to the horror genre (there needs to be more in YA). If a sequel is released I’d want to read it since I feel these characters have great potential. I connected very well to the horror and action aspects but never had the emotional draw to the characters that I’d have preferred. Regardless, this was an entertaining read that had great ghost imagery and action sequences.