Pass the Scalpel, Please.

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You better watch out,

You better hide.

You better run.

I’m telling you why,

Jack the Ripper is coming to town!

As you can tell from that little ditty I came up with above, I’m obsessed with Jack the Ripper.  Well, not just him.  I’m a big fan of unsolved crimes and the more sinister parts of history.  So, it’s safe to say that when I stumbled upon Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper on Goodreads, I was ecstatic.  Not only had one of my favorite authors, A.G. Howard, enjoyed it, but it had received a shower of positive tweets and reviews.  After devouring this gem, I’ve come to the conclusion that the praise was not undeserved.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth is not a person to be trifled with.  Determined to be both strong and elegant, she struggles to stand by her refreshingly modern ideals in an era where most wanted women to keep their mouth shut.  Secretly apprenticed to her uncle in forensics, she and her fellow apprentice, Thomas Cresswell, combine their sharp wit and observational skills to uncover the identity of the infamous Jack the Ripper.  Flirtatious banter are shared between the Audrey Rose and Thomas, not only in dark alleyways but over cold corpses, scalpels in hand.

But there is more to this case than meets-the-eye and romance is far from the only thing on their minds.  All the clues are pointing to someone close to Audrey Rose.  If only she can discover who the killer is before she becomes the next victim.

I am beyond pleased that this was the start of my 2017 reading challenge.  It was a clever romp in the gritty streets of a Gothic and gory Victorian England.  I can’t wait to read more of Ms. Maniscalco’s books.  I rate this five out of five stars.

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Zero

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Sometimes my subconscious warns me as I’m entering a funk.  These warnings usually revolve around my reading, writing, and eating habits.  Last October, when I checked out The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati, I was on the verge of a funk.  A bad funk.  I didn’t start reading the book until the last week of December, and I’m glad about that.  Reading The Weight of Zero would’ve more than likely effected me in a similar way The Perks of Being a Wallflower had effected the lead character at the beginning of this book.  But enough of my ramblings.  Onward!

Catherine Puaski was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after her first suicide attempt two years previous.  Determined not to become a victim of the devastating depression, ‘Zero,’ or to drag her family down even further, Catherine stockpiles medications.  She plans to take her life the next time Zero strikes, but, as she forms new friendships and does a new course of treatment, pushing her out of her isolation, she begins to see a glimpse of hope.  The problem is that she’s been planning to kill herself for so long that she struggles to see a future beyond it.

Full of loss, hope, and grief, Karen Fortunati weaves a story of a young woman living with mental illness, bullying, and how love of all sorts affects her.

I fell in love with Catherine and her companions from the moment I read about them.  If I had to describe The Weight of Zero in three words, they’d be raw, relatable, realistic.  I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, and I rate it a glittering five out of five stars.

Lydia, Lydia, LYDIA!

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While I knew that it was love the minute I saw Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it took me a month and much persuasion from the little person inside me to read this.  Yes, it looked cute.  Yes, it seemed funny.  But it seemed very…  chick-flick-y, and I wasn’t in in a chick-flick mood.  Still.  It wasn’t until I was halfway through Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that I decided to open up Natasha Farrant’s The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet.  It took me less than the first chapter to realize that I would not regret my decision.

I’m generally a sucker for books written in journal or letter format, and this didn’t change my mind.  It was fresh, funny, and clever.  Ms. Farrant approached Lydia and her story with the original novel in mind but stayed true to herself.  Her voice shone through.  She oh so kindly made not only Lydia but Wickham as well have, dare I say it, enduring qualities.  Their interaction were both heartwarming and agonizing.  Throughout the ups and downs, I found myself simultaneously rooting for them and cursing their names.  They went from being two of the most disliked characters in Pride and Prejudice to being the stars of their very own story.  They were humanized.

The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet has earned a place in my heart.  I consumed it in one enjoyable sitting and would happily do so again.  It was monstrous fun.

I rate it four out of five stars.

Zombies, Ninjas, and Darcy! Oh My!

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From the very first moment I saw it, I knew it was love.  A gory, vomit stained, prejudice filled love.  (Hey, no one ever said love is perfect.)  As per usual, I didn’t pick it up until two and a half years later as the previews for the movie were just starting to pop up.  It sat sadly on my bookshelf and guilt piled up in my stomach.  Unable to take it any longer, I returned it to the library, a tear in my eye.  It wasn’t until I watched the movie that I finally gave it a go.

But, before I could go about reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I dove straight into its prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls!

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Without giving too much away, Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith was a wonderful prequel that made me very anxious to read the next book in the series.  Even though there was a love triangle (and a love triangle of a most modern YA sense), I was satisfied with both the lurking distrust for both love interests from Elizabeth and the outcome of the romance subplot that I was hardly bothered by it.  As for the story itself, I immediately took to the concept of a young ninja Elizabeth.  Without as much of the focus on she or Jane to be married, I felt as if there was room for a different kind of character development.

I would have no problem rating it a solid four out of five stars.

Now, let me introduce the star of this post: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

Because it weighs most heavily on my mind, I shall start with Darcy and Wickham.  Darcy himself is pretty much the same as he was in the original.  Arrogant, distrusting, and an all around git who makes a surprising yet not incompletely unforeseen change three-fourths of the way through the book.  Wickham also does a 180 but in the opposite direction.  There’s also a satisfying plot development in store for his character that wasn’t included in the original book.  I was extremely pleased with Wickham’s fate.  Both boys have earned a place in my heart as one of the most swoon-worthy and one of the most charmingly cruel characters I’ve read of.

Next are the Bingleys, Bennets, and Darcys.  Mr. Bingley was wonderful as usual, and he and Jane were perfectly adorable.  Miss Bingley was…  well, I’d prefer not to say lest this post becomes less child-friendly.  Mary, Kitty, Lydia, and Georgina Darcy were as close as they could be to their original versions.  Mrs. Bennet was even more so.  There was a different side of Mr. Bennet shown that put a bad taste in my mouth, and the same goes for Lady Catherine, only to a greater extent.

As for the overall story, I must say, I was satisfied.  Yes, many of the fight scenes were a tad bit underwhelming.  Actually, a good portion of the time they left me wanting more.  But, in retrospect, it makes sense that it went the way it did.  If the battles had been more intense, characters would’ve died and thrown the book’s atmosphere off.

All in all, I enjoyed it.  Would I read it again?  Probably.  Would I recommend it to even the purist of Jane Austen fans?  Yes.  Like its prequel, I have no difficultly giving it a four out of five stars.