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review 2017-05-12 02:40
Stalking Jack the Ripper
Stalking Jack the Ripper - Kerri Maniscalco,Nicola Barber

 

 

I was in the YA section of my local library looking for something else entirely, when this Playaway audiobook caught my eye.  I read the description and was intrigued.  It wasn't until later that I discovered that this is the first installment of a planned trilogy.  Having learned that, I was worried that the mystery would be spread out over three books, but it is actually resolved in this one.  This book works as a stand-alone, though I guess the others will follow the main character on future adventures.

 

The protagonist, Audrey Rose Wadsworth, won me over with her refusal to settle for the rules that proper young Victorian ladies were expected to follow.  She is determined to pursue her interest in forensic science, even if it means sneaking to her uncle's classes and laboratory behind the back of her hyper-protective widower father.

 

Audrey Rose, her Uncle Jonathan, and Jonathan's student and apprentice Thomas Cresswell are determined to solve the case of the notorious Jack the Ripper, who has been murdering women in London's East End.

 

As noted above, the mystery does get resolved.  I confess I'm somewhat disappointed in the identity and motives of the killer, only because I have trouble believing the profile is plausible.  Still, I would be interested in reading more works by Kerri Maniscalco and to follow Audrey Rose's next installments.

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review 2017-01-17 19:57
Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Stalking Jack the Ripper - Kerri Maniscalco,Hachette Audio,James Patterson,Nicola Barber

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher from BEA 2016.*

 

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

 

I brought ARCs to my classroom after we attended Book Expo last year.  I have an extensive classroom library, but rarely do students ever take up my offer to borrow books to read independently.  I pitched having these ARCs in the class as a really cool insider opportunity to read books before many other people were able to and even would tell students about how they would get in trouble if they borrowed one and then sold it (which most students laughed at, but I think did emphasize the specialness about them I was trying to create).  Most of the students who borrowed books were pretty strong readers.  However, I had one student who I would have pegged as a reluctant reader.  He looked through the books after class one day and grabbed this book.  He told me he was interested in serial killers and asked if he could borrow it.  Of course I let him, and several months later he returned saying he really liked it.

 

This is one of the main reasons I decided to pick the book up myself (I had also heard some decent buzz about it as well since it came out) and some of the things that delighted me about the book, I must be honest, impacted me more through the lens of thinking about my students reading the book.  I feel I would be remiss if I did not start with my favorite element of the book, which is how Audrey Rose, the main character, is developed.  She starts off seeming to be another run-of-the-mill example of a female character interested in non-feminine topics.  What I think is done so well though is that her disgust is not directed at these feminine pursuits (and indeed even shows some interest and admiration towards some elements of it), but rather the way society pigeonholes girls and women into them.  I thought this was a nice balance and one that usually tips one way or the other far too often.  I must note here that I think this being such a large part of the story is something that made me smile a lot thinking about my student reading it.

 

The one criticism I have with the book is Audrey Rose’s relationship with Thomas Cresswell.  I do not want to overstate this point, since I think both characters were well written and interesting, but I do think that some of their exchanges were the few moments I found myself wanting to skim rather than poring over the words in front of me.

 

Finally, I have a huge issue with television, movies, books, or any other form of media that has a mystery that would be impossible to solve until it is resolved within the story.  I think that what this book does, which many great mysteries do, is that looking back on the story you can pick out moments that could have allowed you to guess at the big reveal, but along the way (unless you are really taking the time to ponder it) you might miss.  I will admit that I figured it out only a few pages before the reveal and found that to be thoroughly satisfying.  Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and tore through it on my winter break.  I definitely think it is worth checking out.

 
Source: www.purplereaders.com/?p=3156
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review 2016-12-19 00:00
Stalking Jack the Ripper
Stalking Jack the Ripper - Kerri Maniscalco,James Patterson I really wish that I had liked this book. The premise sounded great, but besides the descriptions of the dissections, this book was all over the place with the main character, Audrey Rose Wadsworth. We find out in the story that she is a biracial young woman living in England in 1888. I had a hard time with believing that society would not have reacted to her being half-Indian. Also the description of what she looked like didn't really mesh with someone who was half white and half Indian. I only say this because I have two sets of friends in interracial marriages where one of the parties is white and the other is Indian. Their kids do not have creamy/pale skin. So that part of Audrey threw me. Also author Maniscalco does not go into at all what makes Audrey obsessed with the dead. From what I can gather from the book it seems as if her uncle assists Scotland Yard in cases and he is an earlier form of forensic scientist. Does Audrey want this same type of career? Obviously that type of career is closed to her during this time period, but they quickly gets undone with the ending. My biggest issue though is that besides having Audrey being a woman investigating the Ripper murders in Whitechapel, there is not enough intrigue left for me to care much. And I say investigating loosely since most of her investigating is going around and not actually talking to anyone besides her uncle, brother, and the love interest (who sucks by the way) in this book Thomas.

The beginning of this book starts off with a bang, we find the main character Audrey dissecting a corpse with her uncle looking on. We don't know why Audrey is dissecting this corpse and the writing at times will turn you off here, but we quickly find out it is 1888 and that Audrey is doing something that would make most women and men shun her due to Audrey holding interest in something besides clothes and tea. This is also the beginning of dealing with Audrey being insufferable as anything. I should not be rooting for the main character to get her comeuppance as I read, but I thought that Audrey looking down on everyone while she "investigates" was off-putting. There are a couple of well it's shame that women are out here having to be prostitutes to get by, but I don't think Audrey even understands that world and the book did not take enough pains to even describe it. Audrey is an outsider looking in throughout the book so as far as I am concerned the main character could have been male since Audrey being female felt like a gimmick to me. The reason why Audrey even gets tangled up in the Ripper killings are convoluted and then every member of her family starts to become involved. At that point I may have rolled my eyes a few times.

I feel really let down though because the character of Audrey could have been a wonderful heroine if done right. I was intrigued by her parents backstory (too bad we don't get any real details about her mother except here and there) and I wondered how England would react to a I think a half Indian and English woman marrying an Englishman back then. I also wondered how Audrey and her brother were able to go about in society and not have that affecting how people would treat them. We do get a throwaway line here and there about Audrey's mother trying to teach her and her father about their foods and clothing in Indian, but that her brother refused to have anything to do with it because it was messy. I may have said some rude words to myself about not all Indian food required one eating with your hands. And just wearing saris once in a while is not getting in touch with your heritage.

I also thought that the other characters are very underdeveloped. I never got a great sense of Audrey's uncle besides him being eccentric (and that was turned up to a level 10 for this book) her father was obsessive, and her brother had a whole devil may care attitude about things, until he didn't. The character of Thomas was flat and boring and I am actually disappointed that Maniscalo decided that he was a better love interest for her rather than the inspector in the case who honestly seem to like Audrey's abilities as a forensic scientist. Thomas was rude throughout the book and out of nowhere Audrey has feelings for him which is that old romance trope of a woman deciding that a rude alpha dude equals the best love story ever told. I also hope you like to read a lot about Thomas's looks because the book is filled with descriptions of his eyes, hair, regal bearing, etc. I kept hoping that Jack the Ripper would have Thomas as one of his victims, no dice there I am afraid.

The writing is honestly what caused me to just lower the book to two stars. The whole book reads like a modern book that is just taking place in 1888. Audrey's thoughts on women, men, her running around wearing breeches, her apparently leaving home for three weeks to investigate, etc. does not work in a novel taking place in Victorian England. She would have been shunned by every acquaintance, there's no way she would be allowed to go and view crime scenes with people standing by, etc. It was just too much to overlook while reading that drove me nuts. I really wish there had actually been real consequences for Audrey for forging ahead in the "career" she wanted to undertake. Instead most of the book hand-waved this concerns away.

The writing is also not written in the manner in which people would have talked. I am reading "A Study in Scarlet Women right now, and there are some issues here and there, but the dialogue is band on for the time period."

Also for some weird reason, in my e-book version the chapter headings would sometimes be cut off abruptly and moved to the next line. I have no idea if that happened in the hardcover version or not, but I thought I throw that out there for people who may read this electronically.

The one thing I will give the book kudos for is incorporating some of the Ripper letters, and photos of things that Audrey was seeing in this book. However, some photos (women having tea) could have been left out.

The flow was up and down the whole book. We would suddenly skip time periods, scenes, etc. and then Maniscalco would refer to it later on. There was not enough show in this book at all.

The ending was just a setup to the next book in the series and I can honestly say that I will pass on books #2 and #3 unless I read some reviews that show a more interesting story and more realistic view of what Audrey is up to. I did call the killer, but the why behind the murders was just not well thought of at all, and just made no sense from what we knew of other murders.
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review 2016-10-28 03:55
Stalking Jack The Ripper - Book 1...
Stalking Jack the Ripper - Kerri Maniscalco,Hachette Audio,James Patterson,Nicola Barber

 "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."

 

"The story's shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget."

 

When I saw this was published by James Patterson's new imprint and his name was on the front cover, as usual, my first thought was- oh no, really! I know, I know- he didn't write it, lol, and I shouldn't judge but I still wondered what the hell I was getting myself into. I'm almost embarrassed to say though, I honestly loved it and thought it was fantastic! : )

 

I especially liked the story's foray into forensic medicine, although it was a little gruesome, but I didn't think it was too bad. I listened to the audio version though and missed out on all of the graphic pictures and detailed footnotes that I heard were included. The narrator was really good but I would still like to see the book at some point. If you have a weak constitution though, the audio route might be the way to go.

 

I also absolutely loved the main characters, Audrey Rose and Thomas Creswell. Audrey's strong willed and determined to study forensic medicine no matter what the cost. She wears what she wants to and does what she wants to do- screw the rules of society and she stands up to her father and anyone else in her way. She's my kind of girl!

 

Thomas is also studying forensic medicine. Him and Audrey end up as partners in detection as well as falling for each other. He's smart, sarcastic and so very blunt -it's hilarious! He comes across sometimes as cold and harsh but I loved his personality.  The dialogue between the two was absolutely priceless. I really hope to see more of both him and Audrey. I'm definitely going to keep my eye out for the sequel.

 

I read this for my 2016 Halloween Bingo: ~Scary Women (Authors)~ square

 

Scary Women Authors

 

 

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review 2016-10-16 00:00
Stalking Jack the Ripper
Stalking Jack the Ripper - Kerri Maniscalco ~*Full review on The Bent Bookworm!*~

First of all, look at that gorgeous cover. I could practically reach out and touch the silk of that dress. Also I swear I see blood on the knife, every time I see it out of the corner of my eye. But when I look at it closely, of course there’s nothing there. And that, my friends, is why this was my Creepy Cover. Because no matter how many times I look at it…I see that blood (it’s probably the combination of the lip color with the knife when I just glance at it…but still). Oh, and inside at many of the chapter beginnings, there are these AWESOME old creepy pictures.
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I’m fascinated by unsolved true crime. Yes, I am one of those people. At the same time, I like keeping a semi-safe distance between me and the crime. Hence, Jack the Ripper fits the bill because he’s obviously dead by now. Phew. All the same, this book raised the hairs on the back of my neck. While simultaneously causing me to tear up in the final chapter. Like what IS this mix of emotions, even?!?

Audrey is a scientifically minded young woman with a backbone of steel. She is fascinated with the human body and despite the VERY suspicious appearances, studies under her uncle, a professor with an unsettling obsession with the dead (now we call it forensic science). I love the way she flaunts society while at the same time enjoying what fashions suit her own fancy. Of course, this also involves disobeying her extremely protective father, who honestly comes across as rather unhinged after the passing of her mother. She still cares deeply for him, despite her constant frustrations with the limitations forced on her. Audrey’s brother, Nathaniel, is another sympathetic character. He deals with the loss of their mother much differently, seeming to have picked up and moved on as a sadder, melancholy person concerned only with his family and holding them together. Her motivation for studying science above and beyond what’s considered proper really resonated with me:
It was then that I knew I’d rely on something more tangible than holy spirits. Science never abandoned me the way religion had that night…God no longer held dominion over my soul.

Yessssss. I’ll join you in hell, dear sister.

Ahem. Moving on. *insert “Fight Song” playing in the background*

Then there is Thomas, the quirky, socially awkward student with the face of an angel and tongue of a viper. He’s annoying in an endearing sort of way. Every time I was about to be all, “Awwwww,” he would make some other caustic remark that made me want to slap him. Like for real slap, not pretend slap. He gets better and we get inside his crusty exterior more and more as the story goes on, though, and by the end I was feeling very charitable towards him, indeed. In the way one feel charitable to a naughty but adorable puppy.
image
The hunt for the serial killer (a term not yet coined) Jack the Ripper – first called Leather Apron by the press (look at me, learning things!) keeps the plot moving along briskly. The attention to historical detail in this book is AWESOME, even if there were a few liberties taken that made me roll my eyes. Like at one point Audrey’s cousin says women should be able to wear a certain type of clothing to “go to work.” Um…wealthy women in the 1880s most definitely did not “go to work.” Just saying. I understand Audrey is something of a revolutionary, but to maintain believability I think a couple things like that should have been edited out. I do love the way she comes into her own through the story, and THAT part is handled exceptionally well.
“This who deserve respect are given it freely. If one must demand such a thing, he’ll never truly command it. I am your daughter, not your horse, sir.”

The creep factor is amazing. At first I thought it was going to be relatively tame (flaying bodies open and lots of blood really don’t bother me, ummm…sorry?), but the psychological aspect of it really starting affecting me about a third of the way in and I couldn’t put it down at all! I started it in bed one night…and quickly decided to finish the rest in broad daylight. I was by turns fascinated, horrified, and at the last just so very sad. The foreshadowing was incredible – which means it was so skillfully done that I was completing flailing in chapter before the reveal and while I felt completely broadsided, immediately saw the clues I’d missed.

My biggest issue with the book is actually the romance. Thankfully, it’s more of a sub-plot, but I think the whole thing would have been better by just hinting at possibilities to come instead of anything actually happening. In the first several chapters it’s WAY too distracting and it really seems out of place for Aubrey’s character. Contrary to popular opinion, it seems, I think you can have a very successfully told YA story without having any romance at all. Sometimes “just-friends” friendships are the strongest ones we have.

Overall, 4 out of 5 stars.
Monsters were supposed to be scary and ugly. They weren’t supposed to hide behind friendly smiles and well-trimmed hair. Goodness, twisted as it might be, was not meant to be locked away in an icy heart and anxious exterior. Grief was not supposed to hide guilt of wrongdoing.


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