Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: Ripper

By Amy Carol Reeves
Publication date: April 8, 2012

My review:

Abbie Sharp arrives from Dublin to live with her wealthy grandmother after the death of her mother. Hoping to give Abbie some discipline and focus, her grandmother arranges for Abbie to do some volunteer work at Whitechapel Hospital, where the patients are mostly prostitutes. While Abbie enjoys the work and proves to be up to the challenge, a startling murder takes place. Abbie also begins having frightening visions and as the killings continue, she suspects that her visions are somehow connected.

Ripper is a new twist on the Jack the Ripper killings. In this suspenseful YA novel, historical details are combined with elements of the paranormal to produce a gripping read. Abbie is an intelligent and resourceful heroine who is capable of defending herself in a fight. She is not quite the Victorian lady but then she grew up street fighting in Dublin. I liked Abbie as a character and admired her plans to become a doctor in spite of the odds. She does come across as a rather modern girl plunked down in Victorian London but as this isn't strictly historical fiction, I made allowances for it. In some ways, Abbie reminded me of Lady Julia Grey, the heroine of Deanna Raybourn's Victorian mysteries with similar modern sensibilities. As far as the historical information, the author skillfully incorporates details of Victorian life, the Ripper killings, science, and culture without bogging down the story. 

I do wish there hadn't been a love triangle. One  suitor would have been enough in this case since it is a novel of historical suspense. The romance was the weak point in what is otherwise a strong debut and I hope going forward that this element will improve as the triangle is resolved. The best part of the book was the suspense-there are some truly chilling scenes involving the killer that will have readers looking over their shoulders. While there are questions that go unanswered in the end, particularly about the paranormal elements, this is not unexpected as it is the first book in a series. Overall I enjoyed Ripper and found it to be a suspenseful read.

Readalikes: The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink, The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell, Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Note: I received an e-ARC of this title for review courtesy of NetGalley

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (88)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.    

This week, I'm waiting on:

Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Release date: September 18, 2012


And their doom comes swiftly. 

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury. 

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. 

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off the from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None was one of my favorite books as a teen. I don't know if this book is inspired by that one but it sounds similar enough that I can't wait to read it! I enjoy suspense and it is nice to see more YA suspense being published, especially as Ten seems to not include any paranormal/supernatural elements.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Guest Post: Amy Carol Reeves, Author of Ripper

Amy Carol Reeves has a PhD in nineteenth-century British literature. She published a few academic articles before deciding that it would be much more fun to write about Jack the Ripper. When she is not writing or teaching college classes, she enjoys running around her neighborhood with her giant Labrador Retriever and serial reading Jane Austen novels. She lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband and two children. Ripper is her debut novel.

Why I wrote Ripper

I’ve had several people ask me why I decided to write Ripper, why I would choose the Victorian period as a setting and add the paranormal element to a well-known historical mystery.  Here is a look at why I decided to write about Jack the Ripper and what was going through my mind as I wrote. 
1.) The actual historical background of the era is so inconsistent. The Victorian period was such a sexually repressed period and yet this was the same era where the vibrator was invented (yes, physicians then often treated women for hysteria during the period with vibrators!). Also, in spite of the period’s prudishness, there was a high interest in new more science-based ways of thinking, the most notable being evolution. Yet many, including Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, embraced the psychic movements of spiritualism and mesmerism. Others went so far (ie. the late Victorianist Aleister Crowley) as to practice mythical occult religions.

2)  The unsolved Jack the Ripper murders allowed me as an author to “fill in the blanks” as I wished. There is so much unknown about who the Ripper was and how he was able to murder so swiftly and unnoticed. After all of my research, I do not have a clear suspect in mind as the actual Ripper. No one seemed to be a “perfect” fit. It has been suggested that the Ripper could have been a physician, a butcher, or even a woman. (Abberline, a major investigator in the case, suggested the female Ripper theory.) Many others have filled in these blanks themselves by creating outrageous but interesting theories about who the Ripper might be. Among my favorite theory is the one asserting that Lewis Carroll was Jack the Ripper. Although I think the suggestion highly implausible, I find it very intriguing to imagine him writing Alice in Wonderland by day and then killing women with his vorpal sword in East End London at night. But it was this theory actually inspired me to place the dodo in Dr. Buck’s hothouse.

3.)  Finally, I thought adding a paranormal element would give me an even greater scope for the landscape and characters in Ripper. I felt like this would move the story away from a traditional whodunit and raise the stakes a bit for Abbie as a heroine. Rather than just finding the murderer and solving the crime, she ends up with a bigger mission on her hands. She has to learn about herself and her family’s bizarre history. She also must decipher her mother’s character as well as figure out what she herself values—what she wants to be. I wanted to write a mystery with dimension and having a teenage heroine thrown in the middle of a historical mystery with paranormal elements—something completely foreign to her “known” world—helped  me accomplish this.  Furthermore, structurally, the paranormal element works very well with the Jack the Ripper mystery. The manner in which the Ripper could strike so quickly, particularly on the night of the double murders, has baffled Ripperologists for years. A paranormal explanation works quite smoothly for a work of fiction.  

Thank you Amy for sharing a little bit about the inspiration for your book! Ripper is now available from and other retailers.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (100)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Books read:

I am currently rereading the Gallagher Girls series before reading the newest book. It was fun rediscovering my enjoyment of the books. 

I had a feeling I was going to like Grave Mercy and it did not disappoint! I liked the historical feel and the mystery as much as the romance. 

It was interesting to reread this book as it is Cammie's introduction to Zach and Blackthorne. 

I'd forgotten some of what happens in this book so I'm glad I reread it too. This is the book where the series starts to get a little more serious and darker.

This was a moving and disturbing novel about the genocide in Rwanda told from the perspective of a young man who hopes to become an Olympic athlete even though there are many obstacles since he is Tutsi.

Books reviewed:

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Currently reading:

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton has been on my TBR list for years but sadly I do not find it all that compelling of a read so far. Unfortunately it is a book group pick and our discussion is Tuesday! 

I have been listening to this in my car and it is excellent! I have the hardcover book but something about hearing Conor Grennan read his story makes it that much better.

I just started this one on my Kindle and truthfully I'd rather reread this than read the Kate Morton book!

What I plan to read next:

I was so excited about attending the Ally Carter luncheon at PLA and didn't even know we'd get a copy of Out of Sight, Out of Time or that she'd be signing the books! Of course she was really nice even though I was kind of incoherent when I met her. 

I hope to read this soon as I've heard really good things about it. I've always been a fan of Robin Hood...

I'm not so sure about this one but it is Jodi Picoult so I think I should give it a try...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

In My Mailbox-PLA Edition (77)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to share what books you received for review, purchased, or checked out from the library during the past week.

I went to PLA last week and shipped back way too many books. Probably the one I am most excited about is my signed copy of Out of Sight, Out of Time though I was also really excited to get ARCs of Such Wicked Intent and The Immortal Rules.

YA Books:

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter (signed copy!)

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter
The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney
In Too Deep by Amanda Grace
Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves
The City's Son by Tom Pollock
Maya's Choice by Earl Sewell (signed)
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Crave by Melissa Darnell

Books for adults:

The Other Woman's House by Sophie Hannah

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke

Love Child by Sheila Kohler (signed)

Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas (signed)

Making Piece by Beth M. Howard

Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham

An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd

So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore

Protection For Hire by Camy Tang
Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins
Genie Knows Best by Judi Fennell (signed)

MG Books:

Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

The Storm Makers by Jennifer E. Smith
Around the World by Matt Phelan (signed)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Flight of Gemma Hardy
By Margot Livesey
Publication date: January 24, 2012

My review:

The Flight of Gemma Hardy is based on Jane Eyre but it is not a direct retelling. The story is set in Scotland in the 1950s and 60s, follows the life of Gemma Hardy from her childhood living with her unpleasant aunt and cousins to her tenure at a strict all girls school where she is a charity case and then to her post as an au pair working for the Sinclair household. This is where the novel departs from Jane Eyre a little. 

I love Jane Eyre not just for the plot and characters but for the Gothic tone as well. That is something I missed with The Flight of Gemma Hardy. Margot Livesey does an excellent job of conveying a sense of place with her descriptive writing. She makes the reader feel the remote beauty and isolation of the Orkneys. What is missing is the sense of darkness, mystery, and menace that pervaded life at Thornfield Hall in Jane EyreI was particularly disappointed with the climactic scene between Gemma and Mr. Sinclair. In Jane Eyre, you really understand why Jane reacts the way she does to Mr. Rochester's secret but not so in Gemma Hardy

Unlike Jane Eyre which incorporates mystery into the storyline, The Flight of Gemma Hardy focuses mainly on the internal growth of Gemma and her search for that elusive concept of who she is as a person and what home represents for her.  I liked the use of symbolism with Gemma's name and the incorporation of birds and the theme of flight. I also liked the way setting played such an important role in the novel. I do wish that I hadn't found the story to be so slow moving at times but I think that I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been expecting a retelling of Jane Eyre. I think The Flight of Gemma Hardy is best savored on its own as the story of a resourceful young woman on a journey of self discovery.

Note: I received an ARC of this book for review purposes through the Amazon Vine Program

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (87)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.    

This week, I'm waiting on:

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Publication date: June 12, 2012


Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.

But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—-one that could change the society in which they live…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she has lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s PERSUASION, FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it. 

I love that this is based on one of my favorite Jane Austen novels, Persuasion. I also am intrigued by the science fiction-ish setting. 

A Teeny Bit of Trouble by Michael Lee West
Publication date: April 10, 2012


In this hilarious follow-up to GONE WITH A HANDSOMER MAN, Charleston pastry chef Teeny Templeton witnesses a murder and discovers that her laywer-boyfriend, Coop O'Malley, has been keeping secrets. 
It’s not every day that I bake a dozen Red Velvet cakes, learn my boyfriend may have a love child, and I witness a murder.
After Charleston pastry chef, Teeny Templeton, witnesses a murder, she discovers that her lawyer-boyfriend, Coop O’Malley, has been keeping secrets: the victim’s ten-year-old daughter may be his child. As more lies explode, Teeny finds herself trapped in Bonaventure, Georgia, a zany“little Savannah,” where she must deal with her commitment phobia, gather DNA from a ten-year old child genius, outwit a stalker, decode an encrypted diary, and fend off advances of an ex-beau, a handsome plastic surgeon who’s crazy-in-love with her.  Teeny’s life gets maddeningly complicated by a series of not-so-teeny troubles: an uneasy love triangle, a gossip-mongering tarantula breeder, an wise-cracking Southern Belle with early Alzheimer’s, Coop’s loveable Chihuahua-toting granny, and clues that point to the illegal trafficking of human organs. But when a suspect is arrested, the bodies keep piling up and Teeny doesn’t know who to trust. As the murderers close in, Teeny unearths a revelation that becomes a game-changer and flips her world upside-down. 

I thought Gone With a Handsomer Man was a fun mystery and I am looking forward to reading more of Teeny's adventures. I love the cover!

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's topic is "Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR List". 

1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (May 2012)

This book is probably on many people's TBR lists this spring and it is certainly the book I am looking forward to reading the most this year.

2. The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan (May 2012)

While I prefer the Percy Jackson books, I do enjoy this series and can't wait to read the next book. They are usually funny and entertaining.

3. The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (June 2012)

I am looking forward to this one because of the return of a certain favorite character of mine.

4. Taken By Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (May 2012)

Jennifer Lynn Barnes has become my favorite YA paranormal author because her books tell a good story rather than just focusing on romance. I love her take on werewolves in this series.

5. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter (March 2012)

I've heard this is a darker book in the series but I am still eager to read it. First I plan to reread the other books to refresh my memory since I first read them a few years ago (I'm currently on Cross My Heart, Hope to Spy). I just got an autographed copy of Out of Sight, Out of Time at PLA and had the chance to hear Ally Carter speak about her books. 

6. Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins (March 2012)

I'm on the waiting list for this book at my library. After the cliffhanger ending of Demonglass, I really want to know what will happen next!

7. The Savage Grace by Bree Despain (March 2012)

This is the final book in the series and I've heard only good things about it so far. I may not get to this one for awhile. I feel like I really need to reread The Dark Divine and The Lost Saint first. 

8. Timeless by Gail Carriger (March 2012)

I bought this right away when it was published but I really don't know when I will have time to read it. I have so many other books ahead of it, especially library books and review copies.

9. Home Front by Kristin Hannah (January 2012)

I hope I get to read Home Front soon. The story sounds fantastic and moving.

10. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (December 2011)

I bought this book this past Christmas and still haven't had the opportunity to read it. I am a fan of the series so hopefully I will be able to read this before summer.

What books are on your spring TBR list?
Have you read any of these yet?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Going to PLA!

I will be heading to the PLA (Public Library Association) Conference tomorrow so I won't have any posts up for the rest of the week. I am excited about attending the conference, meeting other librarians, and seeing authors like Ally Carter! I also want to do some sightseeing if the weather cooperates. Best of all, my sister is going too though she will be busy shopping while I am attending conference sessions :)

Have you been to Philadelphia? Any places you suggest I visit or any good restaurants you recommend?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (99)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I only finished two books this past week but both were really good. This week I will be attending the PLA (Public Library Association) Conference in Philadelphia. I am really looking forward to the sessions as well as doing some sightseeing with my sister. I likely won't have a lot of time for reading except on the flights and at the airport.

Books read:

I thought this was a creative and fantastic novel. I didn't think I'd like it but I really enjoyed it. It is nice when a book lives up to the hype!

The House at Tyneford reminded me of The Countess Below Stairs. It took a little while for me to get involved in the story and at first I did find Elise annoying but that quickly changed once she arrived in England. I've heard this book compared to Kate Morton's works and I will be reading The House at Riverton soon so I'll see how they stack up. It has also been said that this would appeal to fans of Downton Abbey and I'd agree. 

Books reviewed:

The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes
The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

Currently reading:

So far, I like this historical fantasy novel. I have high hopes for it. Grave Mercy has been compared to Graceling, a book that I liked but didn't love because I had some issues with it. 

What I might read next:

This is the final book in the Parasol Protectorate series and I'm looking forward to it. I also enjoy reading funny books on vacation as opposed to serious ones so this might be just perfect.

I've already read this one but it was back in the summer of 2010 so I don't remember the story well. I thought it would be a good idea to reread before I pick up Out of Sight, Out of Time. Ally Carter will be at PLA this week and I am attending her author lunch. I don't know if she is signing books but unfortunately this is on my Kindle. Probably not a good idea for her to sign my Kindle screen :)