Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco ~ Book Review

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  • Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper
  • Author: Kerri Maniscalco

RATING OVERVIEW: 4.25 STARS
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:

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 #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:

I’ve always been fascinated with the minds of serial killers. Not in a creepy way, but in a ‘how could anyone possible do that’ sort of way. My mind tries to understand that which cannot be understood… With that said, I’ve read a number of books about Jack the Ripper and I’ve even played his final victim in the play, The Belles of Whitechapel by Wayne Miller. So, when someone asked me to read and review this book, I jumped at the opportunity.

WRITING (★★★★): Maniscalco’s writing style is detailed and fluid. I love how easily I was swept away to the late 1800’s while Jack the Ripper was roaming the streets. Although, at times, the story seemed to drag, bogged down by unnecessary scenes, it didn’t distract me from the over all story. I loved Maniscalco’s style and am eager to read more.

STORY (★★★★): Audrey Rose, our heroine, is a member of high society expected to attend tea, brunch with the ladies, and accept her place in society as an uneducated woman. However, Audrey Rose doesn’t accept that. She has a passion for knowledge and a curiosity for forensic science. Sneaking behind her father’s back, she studies under the tutelage of her uncle, spending many days elbow deep in the viscera of the latest cadaver.

The author leads us down a few paths, making the reader question who the killer, Jack the Ripper, really is. I’ll admit, I made a couple wrong guesses, but I got it right on my third try about half way through the book. If you pay attention, the clues are there.

CHARACTERS (★★★★): The book has a small cast of primary characters, the two main characters being Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell. We’re also introduced to Audrey’s Uncle Jonathan, her brother Nathaniel, her father Lord Edmund Wadsworth, her Aunt Amelia, and her cousin Liza with a few other thrown in throughout the story.

Audrey Rose isn’t your typical 1800’s lady, but I found her to be fun, feisty, and all around relatable. Like many teenagers, she often acts without thinking, she jumps to conclusions, and she puts herself in dangerous positions. She is strong willed and brave. It’s that bravery and courage that I enjoyed the most about her character. The way she didn’t care about blending in… fitting in… she was who she was and she didn’t care what other people thought about her.

Thomas Cresswell, who fancies Audrey Rose from just about the moment he spots her is the devilishly handsome, smooth talking, bad boy. Or at least that’s what he wants you to believe. I loved the way that he and Audrey play off each other. There is chemistry between them from the start, but back in the 1800’s it wasn’t proper to act on emotions so there is also a lot of restraint. That push and pull of emotions is fun to read.

APPEARANCE (★★★★★): The cover is beautiful. We have a clear image of what Audrey Rose looks like, although, I’ll admit she isn’t the girl I was picturing as I read the book. We also get a visual of her world, the dark streets of Victorian-era London. I think the cover artist did a beautiful job.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”

“Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.”

“In my spare time I flay open bodies of the deceased. Two of whom were victims of leather Apron. The scent that hung in the room would drop a man to his knees, and I aided my uncle during the postmortems while standing in gelled blood. Whatever you have to show us won’t be too much for my stomach to handle, I assure you.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

Also by Kerri Maniscalco

Becoming the Dark Prince

In this irresistibly-priced short story, catch a glimpse of the inner struggles and triumphs that drive Stalking Jack the Ripper‘s endearing but troubled hero.
Enigmatic, brooding, and darkly handsome, Thomas Cresswell has always been the one mystery Audrey Rose has never been able to fully solve. As brilliant partners in crime investigation, they understand each other perfectly…

but as young lovers, their passionate natures have led to both euphoria and heartbreak throughout the Stalking Jack the Ripper series.
This novella features a collection of scenes that takes place during and after the pair’s horrifying Atlantic voyage in Escaping From Houdini. Experience new and familiar scenes from Thomas’s unique point of view, including an intensely personal look into his plea for Audrey Rose’s hand in marriage.
With a romance for the ages, Audrey Rose and Thomas reach the conclusion to their epic, irresistible partnership in their final adventure, Capturing the Devil.


Hunting Prince Dracula

In this New York Times bestselling thriller, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life? FEATURES BONUS CONTENT EXCLUSIVE TO THIS PAPERBACK EDITION!

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.


Escaping From Houdini

Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell find themselves aboard a luxurious ocean liner that becomes a floating prison of horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer.

The #1 bestselling series that started with Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula continues its streak in this third bloody installment…. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, Audrey Rose

Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow more and more bizarre. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation before more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?


Capturing the Devil

In the shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer—or see their fateful romance cut short by unspeakable tragedy.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London.

But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve encountered before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?


The Supernaturals by David L. Golemon (Book Review)

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TITLE: The Supernaturals

AUTHOR: David L. Golemon

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★

OVERALL: (4.5)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:

Named One of Riffle’s Ten Best Haunted House Books of All Time

Built at the turn of the twentieth century by one of the richest and most powerful men in the world tucked away in the pristine Pocono Mountains, Summer Place, a retreat for the rich and famous, seems the very essence of charm and beauty, “a scene borrowed from a wondrous fairytale of gingerbread houses, bright forests, and glowing, sunny meadows.”

But behind the yellow and white trimmed exterior lurks an evil, waiting to devour the unwary…

Seven years ago, Professor Gabriel Kennedy’s investigation into paranormal activity at Summer Place ended in tragedy, and destroyed his career. Now, Kelly Delaphoy, the ambitious producer of a top-rated ghost-hunting television series, is determined to make Summer Place the centerpiece of an epic live broadcast on Halloween night. To ensure success, she needs help from the one man who has come face-to-face with the evil that dwells in Summer Place, a man still haunted by the ghosts of his own failure. Disgraced and alienated from the academic community, Kennedy wants nothing to do with the event. But Summer Place has other plans…

As Summer Place grows stronger, Kennedy, along with the paranormal ghost hunting team, The Supernaturals, sets out to confront…and if possible, destroy…the evil presence dwelling there.

MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:

WRITING (★★★★): Although a bit slow and repetitive at times, I feel like David Golemon is one of the best haunted house storytellers I’ve read in a long time. I was on the edge of my seat most of the time and even when the story slowed down, at no point was I ready to give up on it. He is descriptive and captivating and makes you feel what his characters are feeling. This is not the book to read at night in a large, dark house by yourself.

STORY (★★★★): I liked how Golemon brought the modern twist of reality television into his traditional haunted house story. It did get a bit repetitive, the same haunting events happened over and over throughout the book… the doors pushing in, loud banging noises, a misty black entity, and the animals in the woods surrounding the house going a bit mad. However, I still loved this story.

When I picked up the book, recommended by a friend, I was expecting to enter a haunted house and be scared. I wasn’t scared, nor did I enter the house never to leave. The story takes you to a number of locations before you’re even allowed inside the house with ‘The Supernaturals’ a group of ghost hunters that have gathered to not only seek out, but to kill, the entity haunting Summer Place.

CHARACTERS (★★★★★): I’m a huge fan of books where the characters have powers. That can mean vampires, shifters, or witches. It can also mean, as in this book the power to dream walk, possession, and to feel or sense the spirits and ghosts among us.

I loved each of the characters that, by the end of the book, were known as The Supernaturals; Professor Kennedy, John Lonetree, Jennifer Tilden, Leonard Sickles, George Cordero, Julie Reilly, Harris Dalton, Jason Sanborn, Kelly Delaphoy, and Detective Damian Jackson.

APPEARANCE (★★★★★): The cover is beautiful. The house looks creepy and the wispy tendrils of light floating around it are ominous. This book was given to my by a friend, but had I seen it on the shelf at the bookstore, I would have picked it up.

QUESTION: My only question is this, why has this book not been turned into a movie yet?

FAVORITE QUOTE: “Now tell me I don’t know how to throw a Halloween party.” ~ Professor Gabriel Kennedy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

David L. Golemon was born and raised in Chino, California. He come from a family steeped in military history, from the Civil War through to Vietnam. He raised three children, Shaune, Brandon and Katie Anne. After spending many years in Loveland, Colorado, he now makes his home on Long Island, New York.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

Also by David L. Golemon:

In the Still of the Night: The Supernaturals II

Set in the world of The Supernaturals, one of Riffle’s Ten Best Haunted House Books of All Time, In the Still of the Night, a supernatural thriller from New York Times bestselling author of The Event Group series David L. Golemon, will make your Halloween extra spooky this year.

Event: A Novel (Event Group Thrillers Book 1)

In the summer of 1947, an unidentified object crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. There were no survivors. Now it’s happened again. But this time, two creatures have emerged from the wreckage alive . . .

Empire of the Dragon (Event Group Thriller)

230 B.C. – The first sovereign emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, has consolidated his ultimate power with battles against the last of the dissenting tribes of China. With one last province to take, he knows he will be pitted against the one man he fears–his mysterious half-brother, Li Zhang, leader of a peaceful province to the north. The new Emperor’s goal was to murder Li Zhang for the secrets he has kept from the world that would give Qin Shi Huang the power to strike beyond the borders of ancient China. The power over earth, water, fire, and air. After a fierce battle by the Great Wall of China, Li Zhang used the powers of Air Bending to escape with his many villages into the expansive and brutal Gobi Desert. There, Li Zhang and his nation will vanish from the histories of not only the First Emperor, but of China itself.

The Mountain: An Event Group Thriller

In 1863 a meeting takes place between legendary war leaders–a secret alliance that will never show up in any American history books. A clandestine arrangement has been struck for a single chance to heal a war-torn nation. The mission is to bring the greatest prize in the world back to American soil-remnants of pre-history’s greatest ship and most startling mystery. The prize may lie on a mountain top inside the fierce Ottoman Empire, yet the men who seek it are only days away from trying to kill one another.

Carpathian: An Event Group Thriller

Rumors of the seemingly magical victory that allowed the Exodus of Israelites from Egypt have resonated through the archaeological world for decades. Now evidence has been discovered that points to a new explanation of how the ancient Hebrews destroyed the unstoppable army of Pharaoh with a tribe of warriors who disappeared a generation later, after the destruction of the City of Jericho, taking with them the most valued treasures of a people without a homeland.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Review)

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TITLE:          The Alchemist

AUTHOR:     Paulo Coelho

RATING OVERVIEW (OVERALL: 3.75)
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:

Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.

Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.

Buy the book HERE!

MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:

WRITING (★★★★): Paulo Coelho is a wonderfully talented author who’s storytelling ability draws you in and keeps you reading. His writing style is intriguing and yet simple. With that said, The Alchemist is a very fast read. It took me all of maybe five or six hours to get through.

STORY (★★★★): On the surface, The Alchemist is a simple story of a sheep farmer who sells his sheep to set out on a journey to follow his dream… his calling… his Personal Legend as it is called in the book. Yet, in reality, there are deeper messages weaved throughout the story. Lessons we are all meant to learn, but maybe in each our own way.

Paulo Coelho is a philosopher. The over-arching theme I believe he is trying to get across is that everyone and all things are connected. The past, the present, and the future are all intertwined.  

One could read this story and take away that you must live in the moment… be mindful of the life here in the present because the past and future can not be changed.

Another reader may take away that the author is telling you to stop working to live and just start living. Follow your dreams and give 100% of yourself to the journey to reach your Personal Legend. If you’ve ever heard Arnold Schwarzenegger talk about his life – this is similar to the message he tries to get across; that you must be all in – with no backup plan.

I’m sure there are a dozen other life lessons that one could read in the passages of The Alchemist and I would argue that each and every one is right, for the reader that interprets them.

If you’ve read The Alchemist, I’d love to know what lesson or message you took away from it. Comment below and tell me what you thought of the story and what your major take away was.

I highly recommend this story for teens and young adults. They are still trying to find themselves and figure out exactly what they want out of life. I would argue that this story is a great source of encouragement to never give up and always strive to achieve what you are truly passionate about.

CHARACTERS (★★★★): I enjoyed all of the characters, for what they were. However, the lead character, the young sheep farmer named Santiago, was written extremely well. His backstory was laid out beautifully and I felt a connection to him and an investment in his journey.

The character development and connection from chapter to chapter flowed wonderfully. It was nice, for once, to read a book where the author didn’t introduce a thousand new characters in every chapter.

APPEARANCE (★★★): The cover is simple and yet aged. I don’t think I would have picked this book up if I had passed it in the book store. However, because it was given to me by someone I trust, I ignored the cover and jumped right in.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’”

“Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”

“Don’t give in to your fears, if you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.”

AUTHOR:

The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO is considered one of the most influential authors of our times. His books have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages.

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, he soon discovered his vocation for writing. He worked as a director, theater actor, songwriter and journalist. His collaboration with Brazilian composer and singer Raúl Seixas gave some of the greatest classic rock songs in Brazil. In 1986, a special meeting led him to make the pilgrimage to Saint James Compostela (in Spain). The Road to Santiago was not only a common pilgrimage but a turning point in his existence. A year later, he wrote ‘The Pilgrimage’, an autobiographical novel that is considered the beginning of his career.

In the following year, COELHO published ‘The Alchemist’. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

ALSO BY PAULO COELHO:

Brida (1990)

Brida, a young Irish girl, has long been interested in various aspects of magic but is searching for something more. Her search leads her to people of great wisdom. She meets a wise man who dwells in a forest, who teaches her to trust in the goodness of the world, and a woman who teaches her how to dance to the music of the world. As Brida seeks her destiny, she struggles to find a balance between her relationships and her desire to become a witch.

This enthralling novel incorporates themes that fans of Paulo Coelho will recognize and treasure. It is a tale of love, passion, mystery, and spirituality from the master storyteller.

The Valkyries (1992)

A Magical Tale About Forgiving Our Past and Believing in Our Future

The enchanting true story of The Valkyries begins in Rio de Janeiro when author Paulo Coelho gives his mysterious master the only manuscript for his book The Alchemist. Haunted by a devastating curse; Coelho confesses to have seen my dreams fall apart just when I seemed about to achieve them. In response he gives Coelho a daunting task: He must find and speak with his guardian angel. The curse can be broken; he replies; if you complete the task.

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept (1994)

Rarely does adolescent love reach its full potential, but what happens when two young lovers reunite after eleven years? Time has transformed Pilar into a strong and independent woman, while her devoted childhood friend has grown into a handsome and charismatic spiritual leader. She has learned well how to bury her feelings . . . and he has turned to religion as a refuge from his raging inner conflicts.

Now they are together once again, embarking on a journey fraught with difficulties, as long-buried demons of blame and resentment resurface after more than a decade. But in a small village in the French Pyrenees, by the waters of the River Piedra, a most special relationship will be reexamined in the dazzling light of some of life’s biggest questions.

The Fifth Mountain (1996)

In the ninth century b.c., the Phoenician princess Jezebel orders the execution of all the prophets who refuse to worship the pagan god Baal. Commanded by an angel of God to flee Israel, Elijah seeks safety in the land of Zarephath, where he unexpectedly finds true love with a young widow. But this newfound rapture is to be cut short, and Elijah sees all of his hopes and dreams irrevocably erased as he is swept into a whirlwind of events that threatens his very existence.

Written with the same masterful prose and clarity of vision that made The Alchemist an international phenomenon, The Fifth Mountain is a quietly moving account of a man touched by the hand of God who must triumph over his frustrations in a soul-shattering trial of faith.

Manual of a Warrior of Light (1997)

Warrior of the Light: A Manual is an inspirational companion to The Alchemist, an international bestseller that has beguiled millions of readers around the world. Every short passage invites us to live out our dreams, to embrace the uncertainty of life, and to rise to our own unique destiny. In his inimitable style, Paulo Coelho helps bring out the Warrior of the Light within each of us. He also shows readers how to embark upon the way of the Warrior: the one who appreciates the miracle of being alive, the one who accepts failure, and the one whose quest leads him to become the person he wants to be.

Paulo Coelho is one of the most beloved storytellers of our time. Now, in the long-awaited companion to his first novel, Coelho presents a collection of philosophical stories that will delight and guide seekers everywhere.

Eleven Minutes (2003)

Eleven Minutes is the story of Maria, a young girl from a Brazilian village, whose first innocent brushes with love leave her heartbroken. At a tender age, she becomes convinced that she will never find true love, instead believing that “love is a terrible thing that will make you suffer. . . .” A chance meeting in Rio takes her to Geneva, where she dreams of finding fame and fortune. Maria’s despairing view of love is put to the test when she meets a handsome young painter. In this odyssey of self-discovery, Maria has to choose between pursuing a path of darkness – sexual pleasure for its own sake – or risking everything to find her own “inner light” and the possibility of sacred sex, sex in the context of love.

The Zahir (2005)

The narrator of The Zahir is a bestselling novelist who lives in Paris and enjoys all the privileges money and celebrity bring. His wife of ten years, Esther, is a war correspondent who has disappeared along with a friend, Mikhail, who may or may not be her lover.

Was Esther kidnapped, murdered, or did she simply escape a marriage that left her unfulfilled? The narrator doesn’t have any answers, but he has plenty of questions of his own. Then one day Mikhail finds the narrator and promises to reunite him with his wife. In his attempt to recapture a lost love, the narrator discovers something unexpected about himself.

The Witch of Portobello (2006)

How do we find the courage to always be true to ourselves—even if we are unsure of who we are?

Aleph (2010)

In his most personal novel to date, internationally bestselling author Paulo Coelho returns with a remarkable journey of self-discovery. Like the main character in his much-beloved The Alchemist, Paulo is facing a grave crisis of faith. As he seeks a path of spiritual renewal and growth, his only real option is to begin again—to travel, to experiment, to reconnect with people and the landscapes around him.

Setting off to Africa, and then to Europe and Asia via the Trans-Siberian railroad, he initiates a journey to revitalize his energy and passion. Even so, he never expects to meet Hilal. A gifted young violinist, she is the woman Paulo loved five hundred years before—and the woman he betrayed in an act of cowardice so far-reaching that it prevents him from finding real happiness in this life. Together they will initiate a mystical voyage through time and space, traveling a path that teaches love, forgiveness, and the courage to overcome life’s inevitable challenges. Beautiful and inspiring, Aleph invites us to consider the meaning of our own personal journeys.

Adultery (2014)

I want to change. I need to change. I’m gradually losing touch with myself. 

Adultery, the provocative new novel by Paulo Coelho, best-selling author of The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes, explores the question of what it means to live life fully and happily, finding the balance between life’s routine and the desire for something new. 

Look For Her by Emily Winslow

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Look for herTITLE: Look For Her
AUTHOR: Emily Winslow

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Everyone loves a beautiful missing girl…

Look For Her ratchets up the tension while also offering moments of sheer grace.”-Riley Sager, bestselling author of Final Girls

“Beautifully written with an expertly twisty, surprising story, this is a must-read!”
— Chevy Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of Never Let You Go

Lilling might seem like an idyllic English village, but it’s home to a dark history. In 1976, a teenage girl named Annalise Wood disappeared, and though her body was later discovered, the culprit was never found. Decades later, Annalise maintains a perverse kind of celebrity, and is still the focus of grief, speculation, and for one young woman, a disturbing, escalating jealousy.

When DNA linked to the Annalise murder unexpectedly surfaces, cold case detective Morris Keene and his former partner, Chloe Frohmann, hope to finally bring closure to this traumatized community. But the new evidence instead undoes the case’s only certainty: the buried body that had long ago been confidently identified as Annalise may be someone else entirely, and instead of answers, the investigators face only new puzzles.

Whose body was unearthed all those years ago, and what happened to the real Annalise? Is someone interfering with the investigation? And is there a link to a present-day drowning with eerie connections? With piercing insight and shocking twists, Emily Winslow explores the dark side of sensationalized crime in this haunting psychological thriller.

Buy the book HERE

MY 2 CENTS:
WRITING (★★★★): I’m not going to lie, when I started this book the writing style threw me off. The first chapter starts with a therapy session transcript. It’s all dialogue, but instead of reading both sides of the conversation you only read one; Annalise Williams, the patients. It makes for a very strange, jarring read. It didn’t flow.

With that said, it does grow on you.

With each chapter, you meet new characters and hear (or rather read) the story through their perspective. When all is said and done, we get to learn about what is happening through the words of four different characters; Annalise Williams, Dr. Laurie Ambrose, Morris Keene, and Chloe Frohmann.

Once I got into the flow of Winslow’s writing style, this was a fast paced, exciting read. I loved the twist at the end, no I won’t give it away, but definitely worth the read to find out.

STORY (★★★★): Look for Her is the 4th book in the Keene and Frohmann series… which would have been nice to know when I started reading it, but I had no idea and I hadn’t read any of the Keene and Frohmann series before picking up Look For Her (Solely based on the cover) and reading it.

Honestly, the story stands on its own. I’m not sure what the first three books were about, but I think this one is easily enjoyable as a stand-alone book. That doesn’t mean I don’t intend to pick up the first three books in the series, because I most certainly do. If this one was this good, why should I expect the others to be any less entertaining?

Look For Her is a murder mystery/thriller… not horror, like the cover and title might make it sound. It takes the reader on a journey to solving a cold case when new DNA evidence is discovered. I love reading stories where the criminals think they’ve gotten away with something only to find that new evidence, years later, links them to the crime… I’m not going to say that’s what happened in this novel, but the idea of a cold case being reopened is very intriguing and Winslow delivered a great story.

CHARACTERS (★★★★): This story takes the reader on twists and turns, not only in plot but also in the character development and how Winslow weaves the characters lives together in unsuspecting ways.

Although I didn’t have the benefit of reading the first 3 books in the series, I didn’t feel like I was at a disadvantage when it came to understanding the characters. Winslow does a beautiful job of feeding the reader bits of backstory throughout the book without it sounding preachy or overdone.

I’m excited that there are more books in the Keene and Frohmann series so I can get to know the characters even more.

APPEARANCE (★★★★): The cover is beautiful, simple, and draws you in with an almost mysterious nature. You can make out woods and the reflection of a lake, but not much more. It doesn’t give away anything about the story, but does make you wonder where the “HER” in the title ‘Look For Her’ may have gone or where she may be.

EmilyAUTHOR:
Emily Winslow is an American writer living in Cambridge, England. She’s the author of the novels The Whole World, The Start of Everything, and The Red House, and the memoir Jane Doe January (HarperCollins, May 2016).

FAVORITE QUOTES:
“You can’t control what other people do, Morris. You can only control whether you deserve respect, not whether he gives it to you.” Chloe Frohmann to Morris Keene.

“She only became the important ‘Annalise’ in the eyes of others, once she was gone. She became a kind of symbol, a kind of idol, to strangers, and to me, but she didn’t get to experience being that herself. I don’t think anyone ever gets to experience being that, even if they’re alive and award that it’s happening in other people’s minds. That’s something you can think about others, but you can’t ever be inside of it. When you’re inside yourself, you know better.” Anna Williams during her last therapy session.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

Bonus Features at the end of the book:

  • About the Author
    • Meet Emily Winslow
    • Neighbours in Crime: A Conversation with Sophie Hannah
  • About the Book
    • Questions for Discussion
  • Read on…
    • Have You Read? (More from Emily Winslow)

OTHER BOOKS BY EMILY WINSLOW:

The Red HouseThe Red House: A Keene and Frohmann Mystery
Maxwell’s fiancée, Imogen, is obsessed with her idyllic childhood in Cambridge, England, which was cut short by her parents’ deaths at a young age, causing her and her siblings to be adopted by different families. With plans to move back there, the young couple travel to the city together, where Imogen’s excitement is offset by Max’s deeply unsettling déjà vu: despite having no history there, something about Cambridge is all too familiar. As the wedding planning begins and Imogen’s preoccupation with her lost younger brother intensifies, Maxwell is forced to consider that he may actually be Imogen’s missing brother. Worse, he fears that she may already know that he is, and be marrying him anyway.

Meanwhile, Detective Chief Inspector Morris Keene languishes at home, struggling with a debilitating injury and post-traumatic stress, and his former partner, Detective Inspector Chloe Frohmann, investigates a suicide case in which Morris’ daughter is suspected of having a hand. When buried skeletons are discovered next to an old barn, the suicide is linked back to Imogen’s childhood, revealing horrors of the past and triggering new dangers in the present.

The third book by talented author Emily Winslow and featuring Cambridgeshire detectives Morris Keene and Chloe Frohmann, The Red House is a suspenseful and skillfully written mystery, twisting and unraveling in deft and unusual ways as the simultaneous investigations raise the question: for how long can you call your findings pure coincidence?

The Whole WorldThe Whole World: A Keene and Frohmann Mystery
Set in the richly evoked pathways and environs of Cambridge, England, The Whole World unearths the desperate secrets kept by its many complex characters—students, professors, detectives, husbands, and mothers—that lead to deadly consequences.
Two Americans studying at Cambridge University, Polly and Liv, who are both strangers to their new home and both running away from painful memories, become quick friends. They find a common interest in Nick, a handsome, charming, seemingly guileless graduate student. For a time, the three engage in harmless flirtation, growing closer while doing research for Professor Gretchen Paul, the blind and devoted daughter of a semi-famous novelist. But a betrayal, followed by Nick’s inexplicable disappearance, brings long-buried histories to the surface.

The investigation, helmed by Detective Chief Inspector Morris Keene and his partner, Detective Sergeant Chloe Frohmann, raises countless questions—from the crime that scars Polly’s past to the searing truths concealed in family photographs which Gretchen cannot see. Soon the three young lovers will discover how little they know about one another, and how devastating the ripples of long-ago actions can be.

At once a sensual and irresistible mystery and a haunting work of penetrating insight and emotional depth, The Whole World marks the beginning of Emily Winslow’s series of psychological suspense.

The StartThe Start of Everything: A Keene and Frohmann Mystery
Outside the city of Cambridge, England, the badly decomposed body of a young woman has washed up in the flooded fens. Detective Inspector Chloe Frohmann and her partner, Detective Chief Inspector Morris Keene, must identify the victim and uncover what malice hid her there.

Across the hallowed paths and storied squares of Cambridge University, the detectives follow scant clues toward the identity of the dead girl. Eventually, their search leads them to Deeping House, an imposing country manor where, over the course of one Christmas holiday, three families, two nannies, and one young writer were snowed in together. Chloe begins to unravel a tangled web of passions and secrets, of long-buried crimes and freshly committed horrors. But in order to reveal the truth—about mysterious letters, devastating liaisons, and murder—she may have to betray her partner.

In this stunning psychological thriller, Emily Winslow has crafted a literary prism. With uncommon perceptiveness, she tells her story through the eyes of many intricately drawn characters: a troubled young woman in the University’s dead-letter office, an astronomy professor full of regret, an anxious man willing to kill to keep his past hidden. As their beautifully rendered stories coalesce, a piercing and haunting truth emerges. Masterful and memorizing, The Start of Everything will captivate to the very last page.

Jane DoeJane Doe January
On the morning of September 12, 2013, a fugitive task force arrested Arthur Fryar at his apartment in Brooklyn. His DNA, entered in the FBI’s criminal database after a drug conviction, had been matched to evidence from a rape in Pennsylvania years earlier. Over the next year, Fryar and his lawyer fought his extradition and prosecution for the rape—and another like it—which occurred in 1992. The victims—one from January of that year, the other from November—were kept anonymous in the media. This is the story of Jane Doe January.

Emily Winslow was a young drama student at Carnegie Mellon University’s elite conservatory in Pittsburgh when a man brutally attacked and raped her in January 1992. While the police’s search for her rapist proved futile, Emily reclaimed her life. Over the course of the next two decades, she fell in love, married, had two children, and began writing mystery novels set in her new hometown of Cambridge, England. Then, in fall 2013, she received shocking news—the police had found her rapist.

This is her intimate memoir—the story of a woman’s traumatic past catching up with her, in a country far from home, surrounded by people who have no idea what she’s endured. Caught between past and present, and between two very different cultures, the inquisitive and restless crime novelist searches for clarity. Beginning her own investigation, she delves into Fryar’s family and past, reconnects with the detectives of her case, and works with prosecutors in the months leading to trial.

As she recounts her long-term quest for closure, Winslow offers a heartbreakingly honest look at a vicious crime—and offers invaluable insights into the mind and heart of a victim.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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wonderTITLE: Wonder
AUTHOR: R.J. Palacio

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

GOODREADS DESCRIPTION:
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING JULIA ROBERTS, OWEN WILSON, AND JACOB TREMBLAY!

Over 6 million people have read the #1 New York Times bestseller WONDER and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face.

The book that inspired the Choose Kind movement.

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

“Wonder is the best kids’ book of the year,” said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Buy the book HERE

MY 2 CENTS:

WRITING (★★★★★): I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! It is a truly amazing story with a profoundly important message – Choose Kindness!

I read this book because my son wanted to see the movie and I suggested we read the story first. Within the first couple of chapters, I was hooked. It took us only a few days to finish the book and we were both on the edges of our seats the whole time.

I cried… a lot!

Palacio has a beautiful way of capturing the emotion in what’s happening throughout the story. Her writing style is fluid. Wonder can be easily read by young children and still enjoyed by adults. Not an easy task for a children’s author to manage, but Palacio pulled it off seamlessly.

STORY (★★★★★): Wonder is the story of August (Auggie) Pullman, a young boy who has a congenital facial abnormality. Do to his unusual appearance, he has had to deal with a range of reactions from people he meets and others who just noticing him passing by. Kids he encounters, as well as many adults, are cruel. They use hateful, hurtful language, often displaying their disgust without trying to hide it. However, it is important to know – if you are letting your child read this book – that goodness does win in the end. Readers will learn a valuable lesson on choosing kindness and should find Auggie’s story to be both inspiring and emotionally moving.

It is hard to read a story about suffering, especially the suffering of a child. The way the character of Auggie Pullman has suffered all his “life” is devastating. Yet, he keeps a positive attitude in the face of bullying, ridicule, pain, loss, and humiliation. There are days that I wish I was as strong as he is.

This story started the Choose Kind movement and honestly, I believe it should be required reading in all elementary and middle schools across the country and around the world. We could all learn something from Auggie Pullman.

CHARACTERS (★★★★★): Auggie Pullman is the epitome of kind-hearted and selfless. Not only do I feel that the author gave us a completely fleshed out lead character, she successfully brought to life Auggie’s parents, sister, and the school staff and other children around him. There wasn’t a single character that I didn’t feel I got to know, understand, and relate to.

APPEARANCE (★★★★★): The cover of Wonder is simple and powerful at the same time. I’m not sure who designed it, but the minimalist illustration of August (Auggie) Pullman’s face on the cover is perfect.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”

“Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”

“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”

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Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

You can check out the Movie Trailer here:

https://youtu.be/Ob7fPOzbmzE

11/22/63 by Stephen King

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11.22.63

 

TITLE: 11/22/63
AUTHOR: Stephen King

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
One of the Ten Best Books of The New York Times Book Review
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Now a miniseries from Hulu starring James Franco

ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK?

In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away—a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life—like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963—turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

Buy the book HERE

MY 2 CENTS:

WRITING: I love reading, and I’ll be the first to admit that if the story is good enough bad writing doesn’t necessarily ruin the experience for me. Because of this, some books may receive a higher rating from me simply because the story was fantastic… maybe as a reader you don’t agree with that method, but I feel that creativity in a story should outweigh the other flaws one might find. HOWEVER, this was not one of those books… This one topped the charts on writing, story development, character development, back story, flashbacks, structure, etc. etc. etc.

Stephen King is a master when it comes to creative writing. He develops characters that are more believable than the people you live next door to… but, with this story, he weaved together a fine thread of life. Creating fictional characters and weaving them into a reality with real life historical figures can’t be easy, yet King makes it seem seamless.

STORY: At first glance, looking at the cover, one might think this book focuses on the assassination of President J.F. Kennedy. In reality, this is a time-travel novel. Sure, it involves the Kennedy assassination, but that is not the primary focus. This book focuses on Jake Epping, a man of 2011 who travels back in time to 1958. We get to see how his actions in the past affect his life and the lives of others. It shows how the butterfly effect can have both positive and negative ramifications on the world and the course of history. It begs the reader to think about what he/she might do in a similar situation, or to think about the decisions you make in your every day life that seem mundane or harmless… How do those small decision affect the greater good?

CHARACTERS: As with all of King’s novels, I loved getting to know the characters. I enjoyed reading the details of Jake’s realization of what was happening and the weight of the responsibility that was placed on him. His journey takes him through struggles we can only imagine. He grows, learns, fails, succeeds, falls in love, and endures unmeasurable loss.

APPEARANCE: The cover is simply perfect.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
I’m an author, so of course I loved this one: “When all else fails, give up and go to the library.”

“Sometimes the things presented to use as choices aren’t choices at all.”

“When you put on a clown suit and a rubber nose, nobody has any idea what you look like inside.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

https://youtu.be/Xg3c7K5Tb88

* * * * *

11.22.63 mini series

 

Did you know that Hulu turned 11/22/63 into a mini-series? It did… Want to know my thoughts about the mini-series? Check out my blog post HERE! Blog Review of the mini-series will be active on Sunday, April 14, 2019. 

 

You can also check out my YouTube review of the mini-series below (video review will be posted on Sunday, April 14, 2019:

 

On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson

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Golden Pond

PLAY TITLE: On Golden Pond
AUTHOR: Ernest Thompson

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.75)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
A comedy for a cast of 3 men, 2 women, 1 boy. This is the love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are returning to their summer home on Golden Pond for the forty-eighth year. He is a retired professor, nearing eighty, with heart palpitations and a failing memory-but still as tart-tongued, observant and eager for life as ever. Ethel, ten years younger, and the perfect foil for Norman, delights in all the small things that have enriched and continue to enrich their long life together. They are visited by their divorced, middle-aged daughter and her dentist fiancé, who then go off to Europe, leaving his teenage son behind for the summer. The boy quickly becomes the “grandchild” the elderly couple have longed for, and as Norman revels in taking his ward fishing and thrusting good books at him, he also learns some lessons about modern teenage awareness-and slang-in return. In the end, as the summer wanes, so does their brief idyll, and in the final, deeply moving moments of the play, Norman and Ethel are brought even closer together by the incidence of a mild heart attack. Time, they know, is now against them, but the years have been good and, perhaps, another summer on Golden Pond still awaits.

Buy the play HERE!

Buy the movie HERE!
MY 2 CENTS: 
On Golden Pond is a classic. The way that Thompson brings these characters to live is simply beautiful. It’s about life, relationships, and the heart.

I love when an author like Thompson can take a simple story, a retired couple spending the summer at their lake house, and turn it into so much more. By the end of the script, you’re emotionally attached to the characters, you care what happens to them, and you long to learn more about them.

The father/daughter relationship between Norman and Chelsea is heartbreaking. In just the few scenes in which they are together, it is obvious how much they love each other… how much they want to be close… and yet, they aren’t. It isn’t until Chelsea brings Billy, her boyfriend’s son, to visit her parents that Norman finally bonds with a child. It’s just said that it wasn’t his own child.

The husband/wife relationship between Norman and Ethel is exactly what I believe my grandparents had. They lived a similar life and were not only each other’s best friends, but they were soul mates. They were perfect together in every way. I believe that Thompson wrote their relationship to be perfect… almost to perfect, but not unbelievable in any way.

As an actress, reading this script has just added two characters to my list of dream roles I’d love to play. If I ever get the chance, in the next few years to audition for Chelsea, I will not let it pass me by, and of course… Ethel would be a dream role when I get older.

As a director, I have to be honest… I think it would be hard knowing how emotionally connected I am with the characters. I think I’d want to be on stage too much to do justice as a director.

APPEARANCE: Plain green cover with black text… Typical Dramatists Play Service cover. I feel like the plain cover allows the reader to use their imagination when envisioning the characters.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
“Sometimes you have to look hard at a person and remember he’s doing the best he can. He’s just trying to find his way, just like you.”

“Well, that’s what happens if you live long enough: You end up being old. it’s one of the disadvantages of a long life. I still prefer it to the alternative.” 

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

 

on golden pond movie posterMovie Title: On Golden Pond
Director: Mark Rydell
Stars: Katharine Hepburn (Ethel Thayer), Henry Fonda (Norman Thayer Jr.), and Jane Fonda (Chelsea Thayer Wayne)

STORYLINE: The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and Ethel who have had a summer cottage there since early in their marriage. This summer their daughter Chelsea — whom they haven’t seen for years — feels she must be there for Norman’s birthday. She and her fiancé are on their way to Europe the next day but will be back in a couple of weeks to pick up the fiancé’s son. When she returns Chelsea is married and her stepson has the relationship with her father that she always wanted. Will father and daughter be able to communicate at last? (IMDB.COM)

Watch the official movie trailers here:

https://youtu.be/l-lcl2j3yf0

https://youtu.be/Y85sfYVOS84