Two New Reviews From Our Local Book Reviewer

By Adventures in Obsessive Reading 

Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Page Count: 326
Rating: A
Keywords: London, Serial Killer, Gothic, Mystery
Genre: Young Adult
Narrators: Nicola Barber
Duration: 9 hours and 26 minutes

Younger Readers: This is a fictional representation of Jack the Ripper, the infamous serial killer who primarily targeted prostitutes. Language and sexual content are minimal however. 

I loved this one! On a very long travel day from the US to Dublin, Ireland  I listened to this book and it actually made the three flights, cab rides, and random strangers falling asleep on me tolerable. As someone who travels often, finding a book that is just the right level of engaging and fun is crucial to not losing my mind. I have certainly made the mistake of packing overly dense non-fiction tomes for school (try explaining a forensic anthropology diagram of a murder scene to the person sitting next to you for three hours, never goes well), overly emotional romance novels that left me weeping, and the dreaded just plain boring book in my many years of flying all over. This one was perfect though. It was intriguing, funny, fast paced, and kept me in Audrey Rose’s world.

Audrey Rose was enjoyable in that unlike most female YA characters that are involved with “nontraditional” interests or occupations, she did not entirely shun the girly things. She was well balanced. At times she would be examining a mutilated body and at others she would be experimenting with makeup or thinking about pretty dresses. This mix made her far easier to relate to.

There is some small degree of romance but it is never more than a flirtation built up from friendship. It is always obvious and up front but still a satisfying build up. If you hate the YA trend of insta love then you should have no worries with this read. 

Without giving anything away, if you gravitate towards creepier themed books or loved the gothic books required in high school you should definitely give this read a try. Aspects of the resolution were easy to pick up for me but the actual ending was a total shock. 

*****No spoilers, but the end of this book actually sets you up for a sequel. I was not expecting this at all but now I honestly can’t wait to see where the series goes*****

If you want something on the shorter side, fun, a bit gruesome, and completely satisfying, I definitely recommend picking up this book. I have absolutely become a fan and will be reading the rest of the series.

If you listen to the audiobook I did enjoy Nicola’s narration. It took me about twenty minutes to get used to her reading style but soon after it became natural and no issues. Occasionally a word was pronounced in a way a smidgeon off from how I am used to hearing it pronounced. However, this distraction quickly fades as well. I listened at 1.5x speed on Audible. 

 

A Study in Charlotte
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Page Count: 321
Rating: B
Genre: Young Adult

Younger Readers: This is a book about teenagers at a boarding school so there is a degree of sex, drugs, and language. One character is also raped before the beginning of the novel but this is addressed throughout. Young children may not be ready for this or require guidance.

I love the original Sherlock stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the BBC Sherlock, and various other adaptations. So when I heard about this new adaptation I had to pick it up. 

When my best friend asked me to describe this book only one thing came to mind: this is Gossip Girl meets Sherlock Holmes. 

I did like this book. Seeing the descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson reimagined as a teenage boy and girl was a fun spin. Usually I see the same characters modernized or as descendants but both female, best friends. Jamie and Charlotte retain the characteristics of their namesakes but also possess unique attributes of both the era in which they exist and their unique circumstances. I also loved their relationship. Obviously, Jaime has a crush on Charlotte instantly. This does not mean that they are just together though. They are friends first and things slowly begin to progress.

Do not expect characters that are bright and cheery just because this takes place in a boarding school. They are dark and twisty in the best way possible. They draw you into their world without any effort and you quickly devour their backstories. References to the original stories are present and the new mystery is not entirely obvious. Colorful characters are sprinkled throughout, supporting the story. I did not feel like anyone was overly annoying in the traditional bubbly high school sense. 

There is one point that I felt like it’s important to mention. Charlotte Holmes was raped shortly before the events that occur in the first chapter. Usually YA shies away from this topic unless it is a major factor in the plot. However, this is not the case for Charlotte. It is mentioned but not a main character trait. Jaime’s reaction to it, the feelings of rage and helplessness, were something that I thought was important. He cares about Charlotte but does not get angry with her for what happened. There is no victim blaming. He understands that there is nothing he can do but that does not extinguish the desire to fix it. Charlotte’s own reactions to what happened to her were interesting. She is angry but hides it. The most obvious reaction is how difficult of a time she has towards the end of the book with letting Jaime touch her. When he understood that it was going to be a very long time, if ever, that they were going to be able to be physical with her feeling comfortable I definitely felt a little emotional. Charlotte is more than an object to him. She is a person that he cares about exactly as she is. I wish this was more common in literature. I wish real people learned this more often than they do. 

My biggest hang up was that I wanted more. I felt like the mystery and story were just barely scratching the surface of Sherringford. If the story had been a couple hundred pages longer I would not have been upset at all. There could have been more to the mystery, more world building, and more character development. Luckily for readers this will be a trilogy. I look forward to continuing on with Jaime and Charlotte.

On the upside, the mystery was not entirely predictable and the characters were enjoyable.

This book was good, verging on great. A promising start to a trilogy. If you love mystery, Sherlock, and a touch of drama then I would absolutely recommend this one.

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