Stalking Jack the Ripper – Staff Review – Isabella

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Stalking Jack the Ripper had me hooked by the first sentence. Set in Victorian Era London, the novel centers around the crimes of Jack the Ripper, a famous real-life serial killer who (in the real world) has yet to be identified. The main character, Audrey Rose Wadsworth lives a life of privilege and frills, but much prefers heading to her uncle’s to perform autopsies. Suddenly, slain women from across London start showing up on Audrey’s autopsy table, getting her wrapped up in one of the most well-known serial murders in history. The spooky setting of the novel and the true-crime aspect kept me on my toes throughout. I was regularly surprised by all the twists and turns that Kerri Maniscalco weaved into her debut novel. Stalking Jack the Ripper was a rollercoaster ride of murder, romance, and history and I loved every second of it. 

5 stars

Snow Like Ashes – Staff Review – Isabella

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (CloudLibrary)

Snow Like Ashes follows Meira, an orphan girl from the conquered kingdom of Winter. Meria is one of only eight (free) surviving Winterians following the subjugation of Winter and the enslavement of the remaining citizens. Much of Meria’s life consists of training to be a mighty knight in the hope of one day recapturing Winter, but when scouts from another country find Meria’s camp her world is thrown into chaos. I greatly enjoyed this book and the two succeeding novels in the trilogy. The eight countries emulating seasons and sound were written in vivid detail which I found very entertaining. The characters, as well as the different countries, were unique and compelling in their own ways. Overall, Snow Like Ashes was a very fun read that was hard to put down. 


5 stars

Six of crows – Staff Review – Isabella

Six of crows by Leigh Bardugo (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Six of Crows, set in the bustling town of Ketterdam, follows six individuals, each incredibly different yet all cohesive. The group is formed when Kaz, a gang leader, enlists each person for their respective skills (stealth, strength, sabotage, etc). While all are working toward a common goal of completing one of the hardest heists known to man, many arguments are ignited and the prospect of pulling off the feat seems poised to dwindle fast. As mentioned before, this novel follows six individuals, and rather than being solely narrated by the leader of the group, Kaz, each member of the crew gets to narrate throughout the novel. I tend to find this hard to read because I get lost amongst the different perspectives and timelines offered up in quick succession. However, this was not the case with Six of Crows. Leigh Bardugo managed to make each character’s perspective unique and personal, yet cohesive and supplementary to the other views and the novel as a whole. Six of Crows is a great novel filled with nail-biting tension and teamwork that just might beat the odds.

4 stars

Sense and Sensibility – Staff Review – Isabella

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Set in Regency Era England, Sense and Sensibility transports the reader back in time while simultaneously bringing up prevalent issues of today. At the beginning of the novel, Elinor (sense) and Marianne (sensibility) are introduced. Elinor is emotionless and practical while Marianne is empathetic and passionate. Both regularly butt heads due to their differing dispositions, but Elinor and Marianne learn to band together when hardship comes along. Despite being a novel from around 200 years ago, Sense and Sensibility introduces a problem present today, judging based on differences. Preceding the hardship, Marianne and Elinor frequently find themselves disliking the actions and attitudes of the other. Afterward, both of the sisters learn to love one another for who they are and even adopt some characteristics of the opposite person. Sense and Sensibility teaches readers to love and accept the differences in others while coming to terms with the uniqueness of oneself. I love this novel and the accepting message it relays to the audience.

5 stars

Northanger Abbey – Staff Review – Isabella

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Northanger Abbey veers off from the other Jane Austen novels due to its spooky and gothic ambiance. The protagonist of the story, Catherine Morland, travels to Bath, England where she meets Henry Tilney and is subsequently invited to his estate, Northanger Abbey. Due to her love of mystery/horror novels, Catherine’s curious brain soon becomes suspicious of all that goes on in Northanger Abbey. Catherine’s curiosity may be her downfall, or it may lead her to conclusions that just might blow her mind. I love this novel. It expertly meets the sweet, romantic nature of many Jane Austen novels with a mysterious, gothic aura. Readers are brought along with Catherine as she searches through wooden chests, sneaks into private rooms, and mulls over her feelings for Henry Tilney. The incredibleness of Northanger Abbey continues into the last line, which just so happens to be my favorite concluding sentence of any novel I have read. 

5 stars

With the Fire on High – Staff Review – Trisha

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (Request)(CloudLibrary)

This YA novel had romance, intrigue and suspense. It was a charming book about a young teenage mom finding what her passions are outside of school and home. What will Emoni do once she graduates from high school? Is there time for romance too? The story had just enough romance and real life stories to make it seem relatable. For those single moms, regardless of age, this is a totally relatable story of trying to find your way in the world outside the title of MOM and where to go from there. While the story seemed to pick up pace in the end, it left me with questions on how some of the story lines ended. Kind of left it open to interpretation and left me waiting it to last longer. 

4 stars

Jane Eyre – Staff Review – Isabella

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Jane Eyre is a classic for a reason. With its beautiful prose and girl-power undertones, Jane Eyre never ceases to be relevant and entertaining. The woman who gives the book its namesake, Jane Eyre, is an orphan who grows up unloved by her wealthy adoptee family. Jane is sent off to an all-girls school by her family where her love for learning and first true friendships ignite. After school, Jane gets a job as a governess at the mysterious and cold estate of Mr. Rochester. Jane finds love while working there, but one little secret may turn everything upside down. Throughout the many hardships Jane faces in her life, she never ceases to use her wit, intelligence, and strength to keep moving; she finds her independence and learns that she can make it on her own. Jane Eyre is an inspiration for all with her ability to speak out against those with more power than her and become independent in an era when women regularly could not. This book is an incredible one, with twists, turns, darkness, and mysteries not found in many female novels of the time. I love this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for an entertaining read with spooky and girl-power undertones.

5 stars

City on Fire – Staff Review – Haley

City on Fire By Don Winslow (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Don Winslow translates his love for classic literary tales, like The Iliad, and turns it into a contemporary saga set in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. Together the Irish and the Italians have been controlling criminal activity in New England, until a beautiful woman comes between them and ignites a war.
“City on Fire” is a true crime family novel set in the 1980s with all the drama, suspense, and authentic dialogue Winslow is known for. It is a fast paced, mob story with likeable characters who are gritty and unapologetic. If you are a fan of his previous novels, or of stories like The Godfather, this is a must read.

4 Stars

Ocean State – Staff Review – Haley

Ocean State by Stewart O’Nan (Request)(CloudLibrary)

A high school student is murdered and everyone involved has the projectory of their lives changed forever. Set in a coastal town in Rhode Island, Ocean State follows two teenage girls, and their families, as one boy becomes romantically entangled with both.

This is another book I picked up without knowing what it was going to be about. Had I known in advance, I probably wouldn’t have read it. The storyline, while plausible, just didn’t sit well with me. Perhaps because I am a mother of girls who will someday become teenagers, or because of the foulness of the character’s speech, attitude, and actions.

2 Stars

A Discovery of Witches – Staff Review – Isabella

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Deborah Harkness somehow encapsulates three main interests of mine (England, history, and fantastical creatures) into the perfect little box that is “A Discovery of Witches.” Diana Bishop, a professor at Oxford University, spends much of her time in the historical halls of Bodleian Library. Many of her days consist of research, rowing, and rejecting any connections to her witchy identity and lineage. Diana’s self-identity, and the world, flip on their head when an ancient tome and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist, fall into Diana’s path. Though I generally lean away from novels set in the present day, Harkness sprinkles the book with enough history (and a lot of magic) to keep a history and fantasy buff like me, enjoying the ride. I adored this novel and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an escape into a dark academia and wit-filled world.

5 stars

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