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.

SjtR

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 The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

TheQueenofBloodThe Queen of Blood
By: Sarah Beth Durst
Release Date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.

My Thoughts:
I typically try not to build up what I think a book will be like or elements that might be involved but when I read the back cover of The Queen of Blood I immediately envisioned a romance between this idealistic young student and the banished warrior. I went in wanting the ‘mentor that slowly falls in love with his student’ trope but that wasn’t what happened. I couldn’t help but be disappointed. I went into this shipping the wrong couple and I’ll admit it made me a bit sad. But this was, of course, no fault of the book! These were my expectations that I let go a bit wild. I wanted this book to be something it was not.

Once I got over my self enforced disappointment I was able to see this book for what it was and enjoy it very much. It is in the adult fantasy genre so there are more detailed descriptions (and that teeny tiny print). The characters are very developed and I really did learn to care for a great many of them. I wanted there to be a lot of romance and there wasn’t- though there was some- just not who I wanted. I’m not sure if it was because of my false idea of who should be together but I never really got behind any of the romantic relationships in this book. That was fine though because they were not a very large part of the story line. This book was about much more than romance- it had betrayal, friendship, the trust of a mentor, cost of power and sacrifice for duty.

I really appreciate Durst’s writing style- she creates vivid worlds and Renthia was so beautifully rendered. I loved the usage of magic and how spirits drove the forest growth, wind, fire, etc. The idea behind this was so creative and original. I loved that girls trained to be able to control these spirits and there was always the tension that they could lose control allowing the spirits to unleash death and havoc.

The main character, Daleina, was so easy to relate to and root for. She suffered a horrible event in her youth which shaped her entire future. This girl doesn’t let anything stop her and pushes herself so far. I love that she takes on responsibility and strives to fulfill a duty that she sees herself having. A lot of others would give up under the circumstances Daleina finds herself but she refuses to. She also has some amazing character growth throughout even this first novel in the series so I’m very excited to see what the other books go with her and the other characters.

The banished warrior type is a trope I just love. The brave, fierce warrior that has fallen out of grace is often the plot line for so many good stories and once again I loved that Durst used this to shape a character, Ven, that was a perfect foil for Daleina. Though there was not a romance between these two they did have wonderful chemistry (and I still ship them!).

TheQueenofBloodPicFinal Thoughts:
The Queen of Blood was a beautifully done high fantasy that focused primarily on the main character’s journey to fulfill the duty she feels she had. I loved the character development and world building, though dense at times. I am eager to see where Durst will take the rest of the series.