Review Rendezvous: 3/17/18

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalo
Book stats:
Genre(s): Historical, young adult, mystery, horror
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 326
Publish date: September 20th, 2016
Purchase: Amazon Book Depository

StalkingSeventeen-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.

I’ve wanted to read this book for quite some time. I don’t remember how I came across it, but I know Sasha from Abookutopia on Youtube recommended it as her book of the year 2016, so I was more than excited to check it out. It’s always been interesting, the mystery of Jack the Ripper, so I was excited to see another take on the famed legend.

First impression when I opened the book though? I didn’t know if I could handle the forensic terminology. Ironic, considering some of my TV shows of choice are Law & Order: SVU, Bones, and other procedurals. But, for some reason it’s different reading the description of an autopsy on paper with my horrid imagination set to work. But, luckily the descriptions aren’t quite as vivid for the rest of the book. Just don’t be shocked going into it.

Honestly, I am all for heroines who challenge the social norm, especially back in historical times when they were basically there to sit and look pretty. Audrey is a “never take no for an answer” type of person, and she is unafraid to practice forensic science in a time when it was looked down on for men to engage in, let alone women.

I also did like the inclusion of a romance subplot. Most would be annoyed at the distraction from the main storyline, but in this instance I believe Maniscalo wove the threads of the plot in very well with the mystery that everyone is trying to solve. Then there’s the fact that her love interest, Thomas, is basically Sherlock. So many deductions, so little time!

The ending also has a lovely twist. There is so much suspicion surrounding the identity of the killer. Is it her father? Uncle? Thomas? The inspector? Someone entirely unrelated to the case at all? You’ll have to read to find out. But, the ending was quite satisfying and I can’t wait to read the next in the series, Hunting Prince Dracula.


If you liked this book, check these ones out:


A slight fantasy twist on a historical tale featuring a runaway countess


A rebellious southern woman covertly assists the north during the Civil War


A young woman is drawn into the world of spies during the First World War










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Review Rendezvous: 2/24/18

Vicarious by Paula Stokes
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult, science fiction, mystery
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 336
Publish date: August 16th, 2016
Purchase: Amazon Book Depository

VicariousWinter Kim and her sister, Rose, work as high-tech stunt girls for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it’s bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities at the city’s hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you—for a price.

When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter is devastated. She won’t rest until she finds her sister’s killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the digital recordings her sister made, Winter isn’t sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she’ll have to untangle what’s real from what only seems real, risking her life in the process.

This one is another book that I was interested in at first but lost traction in the middle of the book. The idea of having virtual reality experiences seemed creative and intriguing, so I went for it. But somewhere after Winter discovers that her sister is dead, I lost touch. Maybe it was because she has a blatant disregard for her own safety and the protection that her brother-figure provides?

Either way, I put it down for a few days and then want to see how it ended, so I flipped farther towards the back. I was then met with quite a shock as I had read just past a huge plot twist in the book, So I went back a few chapters to see how things had developed. While it did not drag me back into the world, I will give Stokes credit for the move. I certainly did not see that coming at all, and it provided and interesting take on the unreliable narrator character.

I can’t give out the spoiler moment, but I will say that at least Winter does experience a fair amount of character growth by the end. The plot is a bit convoluted and crazy, which maybe be part of why I wasn’t keyed in, but it was good all the same. Maybe not re-read material, but interesting the first time around.


If you liked this book, check this one out:

Dear Amy

A newspaper columnist receives a letter from a girl who was kidnapped many years ago.

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Review Rendezvous: 1/20/18

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Book stats:
Genre(s): Mystery, thriller, contemporary, young adult
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 372
Publish date: July 7th, 2015
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

TFSixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather’s ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.

And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess’s classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.

If you’re a fan of ABC’s political thriller Scandal, then I have just the book for you. Granted, this one has much less death, destruction, and all around mayhem, but the certainly doesn’t mean it’s lacking.

I love the idea of a teenage fixer, because it’s no secret that teens love to present themselves and their lives as perfect. The stakes are raised in the lives of D.C.’s elite families, because the wrong move can bring down tough consequences. At first, Tess doesn’t plan to make herself a fixer for her classmates, she kind of just stumbles into it. However, she’s good at it, just like her older sister who fixes bigger, badder problems for the adults of D.C.

Of course, anytime a teenager in YA decides to run free and do their own thing, they usually end up in a host of trouble, this book not withstanding. Tess stumbles upon something that could actually be big, which gets her into very hot water and send her sister scrambling to try and fixer Tess’ own life.

If you’re interested, there is also a second book to this duology that throws some major curveballs. you should totally check it out!


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Review Rendezvous: 11/25/17

A Bad Day For Sorry by Sophie Littlefield
Book stats:
Genre(s): Mystery, thriller
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 288
Publish date: August 4th, 2009
Purchase: Amazon Book Depository

Bad DayStella Hardesty, our salty, unlikely heroine, runs a sewing shop in rural Missouri. She also has a side business helping battered women with their abusive boyfriends and husbands. When Chrissy Shaw asks Stella for help, it seems like a straightforward case, until Chrissy’s no-good husband disappears with her two-year-old son. Now Stella finds herself in a battle against a more formidable enemy as she risks her own life to recover the boy.

I had such high hopes. So high. After coming down from the amazing-ness that is Kelly Oram’s books, I jumped into this one, and was supremely disappointed. Nothing against the book, but I had envisioned the protagonist quite a bit different than she actually is.

Stella Hardesty is an older (I believe 40s or 50s?) woman on her own in Missouri. She’s taken it upon herself to stop men from beating up on their wives and girlfriends, which would be fine, but she delivers “justice” however she see’s fit. From the review I wrote of “Premeditated” by Josie L McQuein, you should know that I really don’t like characters that take justice into their own hands.

I tried, I really did. This is another of the books that I read precisely two chapters and proceeded to skim the rest so I could decipher the plot. There was a twist at the end, but unlike other books where the twist has hooked me and I go back to read, there was no saving this book.

I’ll be chalking this one up to an unsuccessful finish, and it may interest you in a different way, it’s just not my cup of tea.


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Review Rendezvous: 11/4/17

Zero Day by Jan Gangsei
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult, mystery, thriller
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 368
Publish date: January 12th, 2016
Purchase: Amazon Book Depository

Zero DayEight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping of the decade. Addie vanished—and her high-profile parents were forced to move on.

Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the Oval Office after a tumultuous first term. Then, the unthinkable happens: the president’s daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family’s fold…but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the administration who find her timely return suspicious.

When a national security advisor approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie’s childhood best friend and the son of the president’s chief of staff, he doesn’t know what to think. How could the girl he’s missed for all these years be a threat to the United States? Still, at the risk of having his own secrets exposed, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie.

He soon realizes that his old friend is much more than the traumatized victim of a political fringe group. Addie has come with a mission…but will she choose to complete it?

I read this one in an interesting form because I was quite hooked on it. I found it at my local library, but the physical copies were out and I really wanted to read it, so I settled for reading it on my laptop. If I e-read books, it’s always on my Kindle, but this wasn’t a bad format.

Moving on.

There’s a lot of plot lines and ideas that converge here, which is part of the reason why it seemed so interesting. We’ve got kidnapping going on, the presidential family, a bit of friendship/romance (but not too much, which would have complicated the entire plotline), terrorists, hacking…. I think that’s it. That sounds like a lot now that I type it out, but Gangsei has managed to weave it all together quite successfully.

There is something off about Addie from the very beginning. The book is told between both Addie and Darrow’s points of view, with the occasional third person thrown in whenever there is a major event. I did like the occasional third person chapter, but I also felt that the book could’ve done without it.

There was a very “two-faced” feeling I got from Addie to start with, so I don’t know if it was Gangsei’s intention to let us in so quickly, but it felt like I automatically was being told what side she was one. I’d much rather have decided that myself and then had it revealed later. But, with some of the things Addie does, it would’ve been hard to keep her neutral. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Addie at first, but I did end up endeared to her because of certain revelations and sympathizing with how she was taught while she was kidnapped.

I felt bad for her family though, at first they were all trying to get to know her and help her, and she kinda just brushed them all off. But, Addie was coming back from quite the experience, to be fair.

While it took me a few days to actually begin the book, I ended up sucked in by the end. It sets up well for a sequel, but there is nothing in the works so far. I can only hope Gangsei decides to write one, because I’d certainly be interested in it.


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