Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Stalking Jack the Ripper is a YA historical fiction novel written by Kerri Maniscalco. The book follows Audrey Rose Wadsworth, an apprenticing coroner turned amateur detective, as she throws aside societal expectations and sets her sites on solving the gruesome murders plaguing London. Who is this monstrous murderer? Is it someone she knows? Why is he only killing women?

Review

Let me start by saying I am not a fan of historical fiction. I’ve never found a book from this genre that I actually enjoyed reading. The reason I read Stalking Jack the Ripper is to complete the Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with an amateur detective.

I found Stalking Jack the Ripper to be dry and dull. Sure, it had it’s twists and a bit of suspense here and there, but it was predictable. A romance is budding between our protagonist and her antagonist partner. Audrey Rose is so anti-societal norms, the feminist ideology screams in your face. Not that feminist ideology shouldn’t scream, but in a book I wanna be shown and not told. Also, the setting was dark and unimaginative, but it’s 19th century London so….not much can be done about that.

Overall, I didn’t like it. I ended up skim reading the last 40% of the book just to get through it. I can say, I didn’t quite see the ending coming though. Maniscalco got me there.

Audiobooks Aren’t Cheating

I’ve written about the pros and cons of paper books, e-books, and audiobooks in the past. My perspective on audiobooks has changed and I wanted to share with you what I’ve discovered. Are audiobooks even really reading? Right? The answer might not be what you think.

Comprehension

The opinions vary when it comes to reading vs listening, but studies have shown that comprehension is the same no matter what form you choose.

  • A 1977 study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology had 48 college students listen or read a story 2,000 word story and their summaries were the same.
  • A 2016 study published by Beth A. Rogowsky had 91 participants. Groups of participants were given the same material to read, listen to, or read and listen to at the same time. All participants were able to summarize the material with the same efficiency.

That special something

Often people feel passionate about reading and don’t want to miss out on the special experience a book can provide. Audiobooks can provide that too, and sometimes in better ways.

  • Get the real dialect from a narrator that you couldn’t when reading.
  • Learn the correct pronunciation of character names (I’m looking at you Hermione).
  • Listen to a production of a book. Some audiobooks are complete with a full cast, sound effects, and sometimes music.

Convenience

The key reason I listen to audiobooks is time. I am a mom, wife, and hold a full time job. I simply do not have the time to read all the books I want to.

  • With an audiobook I can “read” while I’m at my desk at work, driving, cleaning my house, going for a walk, etc.
  • If I’m just not getting into a book, but I really want to finish it the audiobook can make it easier to get through. I’ve even started a series I wasn’t sure about by listening to the audiobook and then continuing the series by reading the books.

There continues to be a debate surrounding audiobooks. There are benefits to both reading and listening. There is also some debate about whether reading is more beneficial with a paper book vs an e-reader. At the end of the day, who cares? Life is too short, do what you love. Don’t feel guilty because you like audiobooks. Do you!

Review: Heartless

Heartless

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5/5

Everybody has a backstory, even the villains. Catherine is determined to make her own choices for her life. Everyone in Hearts wants her to be the next queen, except Catherine. All she wants in life is to own her own bakery where she can sell her famous sweets and to be with the mysterious Jest. After experiencing magic, monsters, love, and madness how can she settle down in a life she doesn’t want?

Heartless is a amazing. It is filled with adventure and beautiful imagery. The story is set in the famous kingdom of Heartless and giving you a glimpse into their world before Alice. I love a villain back story and a different take on a classic fairy tale. This book fits both. As Marissa Meyer’s first stand alone novel, it’s one of the best she’s written in my opinion.

Book to Screen Adamptations

As a reader it’s fun to watch a television show or movie based off a book I’ve read. If something comes out based on a book I scramble to find it so I can read it before watching the screen adaptation. Also, my husband isn’t a big reading and it’s fun to watch book adaptations with him so I can share what I’ve read with him.

The Woman in the Window

Release date: October 4, 2019

Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Wyatt Russell

The Woman in the Window is about Anna Fox, a trauma scarred agoraphobic who drinks too much, plays online chess, and watches her neighbors. In the time she’s been shut in her spying has shown her the basics of everyday lives through her neighbors, until a new family moves in across the street. One night she witnesses a shocking event that starts the unraveling of her neighbor’s secrets. Nothing is basic anymore. Is what she is experiencing real? Is her own mind betraying her?

This book was slow to start. Once it picked up though, it was hard to put down. Anna Fox is the epitome of unreliable narrator. Is it the wine? The anti-psychotic medication? The mixing of the two? Her mental struggles are an important topic to bring forward. Though it may be hard for everyone else to understand, Anna’s struggle is very real. A big plot twist at the end that I didn’t see coming made it even better. I highly recommend reading The Woman in the Window before you watch the movie.

Where’d You Go Bernadette

Release Date: March 22, 2019

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Troian Bellisario, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer

Once a successful, eccentric architect, Bernadette Fox is a mother and wife who can’t seem to fit herself into the role. After struggling with the PTO moms and not being able to get a foothold in her life, she vanishes. Gone. Her daughter and husband are left to figure out where she went and why.

I LOVED this book. Bernadette Fox is a lovable mess and she suffers for not fitting into societal norms. She doesn’t have a job and is restless, so she doesn’t whatever she can think of to make life not so boring. Her husband and daughter lover her in spite of and because of her quirkiness. I highly recommend reading Where’d You Go Bernadette. The movie is just a bonus.

A Discovery of Witches

Release Date: September 14, 2018

Starring: Matthew Goode, Teresa Palmer, Alex Kingston

Young scholar, Dr Diana Bishop, discovers a bewitched alchemist manuscript from the Oxford’s Bodleian Library. After finding the book and looking it over briefly she decides to put it back. As a descendant from a long line of witches, she wants nothing to do with it. Soon after all sorts of mythical creatures decend upon the library. Diana has to thwart vampires, witches, and a horde of daemons.

I didn’t enjoy A Discovery of Witches. The book was dry and I ended up just listening to it on audiobook. There is a budding love story mixed in involving Diana and an ancient vampire that shows up and decides to protect her. Reading it was hard work.

You

Release Date: September 9, 2019

Starring: Elizabeth Lail, Penn Badgley, Shay Michell

When a beautiful, aspiring writing walks in to Joe Goldberg’s book store he is instantly in love with her. He can’t simply approach her though. After meeting her he searches her name on Google and quickly finds her active social media accounts. While tracking her online, he finds perfect ways to observe her unseen and mold her life so he fits in perfectly. Along the way of making it from stalker to boyfriend, he will stop at nothing to remove any obstacle that gets in their way.

I haven’t read this book, but I did watch the series on Netflix. It’s creepy and endearing. I couldn’t decide if Joe was creepy or if he was just devoted. Normally I won’t watch something based off a book until I’ve read the book first, but I didn’t know this was a book series until after watching the show. I do have the book on my TBR however.

Review: Luckiest Girl Alive

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll is a mystery novel that follows Ani Fanelli as she tries to set herself up for the perfect life despite her past. The trauma from her past has has lead her to construct the life she wants instead of just living it. Her past is harsh and she relives it to bring it into the light for the world to see.

Luckiest Girl Alive

Author: Jessica Knoll

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Rating: 3/5

Review:

I began this book in text form and ended up finishing it in audio. I found the writing didn’t flow well for me. I also wasn’t fond of the main character’s personality. Ani Fanelli, the leading character, comes across as obnoxiously self aware, though she has some deep scars she tries to stifle. She has this secret past that ends up being some very traumatic events she lived through at a young age. They shaped her into someone that lives life deliberately and she calculates every move. This is obvious in the very first few pages as her inner monologue shows her choosing every word and action to get the outcome she wants. She manipulates her life.

Aside from the main character’s personality, Ani’s story is a relatable one. The trauma she experienced is one many girls have had to live through. High school hierarchy can leave teenagers searching for acceptance and the scars of those social endeavors can last into adulthood. The story Luckiest Girl Alive reveals is an important one for us to read because it’s one that is all too real.

Challenge yourself to read in 2019

New year new me! It’s the time of year people everywhere make resolutions to be improve upon the previous year. Some of the more popular resolutions are fitness, financial high ground, and self care. One resolution I personally think should be on everyone’s list is reading more and reading more diversely.

The benefits of reading are endless. Here’s a few of them:

  • Expand your vocabulary and reading comprehension
  • Relax and unwind
  • Time away from screens
  • Look though a different lens than your own

One way to help you reach your 2019 resolution reading goals is to complete a reading challenge, or a few. There are some over achievers and ambitious readers out there who will complete multiple reading challenges this year. My hats off to those that do. Reading challenges are a great way to get you reading books you normally wouldn’t and broadening your world view. Remember that audiobooks count too!

2019 Reading Challenges

1. Popsugar Reading Challenge

This is my favorite reading challenge and the one I am participating in for sure this year. It gives you prompts that are specific enough to get you thinking about your book choices, yet simple enough to give you some room for interpretation. The list includes 40 prompts and 10 advanced prompts. There is also a great group on Goodreads where readers discuss book choices, reading logs, and many more helpful things.

2. Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge

There are 10 reading prompts on this challenge that will guide you through 13 books. The prompts are similar to those on the Popsugar list, but less specific. You can truly chose books from your TBR list that are sure to fit into this challenge

3. Year of Epic Reads

The popular site for YA readers is getting into the reading challenge game this year. You can chose to read quarterly, monthly, or weekly. For prompts you can join the Facebook group and discussion with other challenge participants. There is also a weekly newsletter as well as all their other social medias to follow for more challenge fun.

4. Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

Book Riot is another popular reading site and this challenge has been going on yearly since 2015. It includes 24 reading tasks that are geared toward getting you to read books from different perspectives and outside your comfort zone. There is also a Goodreads group for this challenge you can join to chat with other participants, share your amazing book finds and get help with reading prompt suggestions.

5. Professional Book Nerds Reading Challenge

New to the reading challenge list, Overdrive has created a list of 12 tasks for the year. Once the tasks are completed participants can fill out a form or submit a screenshot to be entered to win a device from Overdrive. The prompts are similar to the other challenges, but the chance to win a device adds an extra intensive. This challenge even has a podcast you can listen to for commentary and suggestions.

6. Goodreads Reading Challenge

Last, but certainly not least, is the Goodreads yearly reading challenge. This one is different. You don’t get prompts or tasks, you simply set your own personal goal for the number of books you want to read in the year and then make sure you keep track of your books completed on the site. One tip is to make sure you enter the dates you start and finish a book or it won’t count toward your total. If you keep up with all the books you read on Goodreads you can see your totals for every year.

There are countless reading challenges you can choose from to tackle that TBR list in a fun new way and stay on track with your new year resolution to read more. If you want more to chose from head over to girlxoxo.com and check out The Master List of 2019 Reading Challenges and take your pick. Which challenge are you joining this year?

All Things Raven

The Raven Cycle.png

I recently read the first book of The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater. The Raven Boys is a fresh breath in a sea of YA supernatural repetition. In wake of Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent series everything I have read in the past few years seems to be attempting to ride on the coat tales of success. Some of them have been good, most have just been repeats with different characters and monsters.17675462

What makes The Raven Cycle so interesting?

  • A non-annoying budding love story going on.
  • Most of the main characters and POV that the story is written in are male.
  • Actual adults present in the lives of these teenagers.
  • Underlying mystery.
  • Original supernatural elements I’ve not seen before.

I am currently on book two, The Dream Thieves, and I’m 89% finished. 4 out of 5 stars is my current review, but only because I haven’t read to the final book, The Raven King, yet (which released in 2016 by the way).  This is due to the fact that every series, no matter how great, seems to have a lull in the middle somewhere. A book that isn’t as good as all the others. There are also two of those little in-between stories if you’re into them.

On a side note, I recommend taking a look at Maggie Steifvater’s website. It’s probably the best author’s site I’ve ever seen. You can just click the link to check it out.