The Five by Hallie Rubenhold
First line: There are two versions of the events of 1887. One is very well known, but the other is not.
Everyone has heard the story of Jack the Ripper. He haunted the streets
of Whitechapel preying on women. His victims known as the canonical
five are Polly, Annie, Elisabeth, Catherine and Mary Jane. His story has
been researched and turned over hundreds of times but very little is
actually known about the women whose lives he took. Here are their
My Thoughts: I have recommended this book to
anyone and everyone! I was completely engrossed in it. It is thoroughly
researched and well written. It reads like fiction and is easy to get
caught up in these women’s lives. I found myself hoping for better
outcomes as I read even though I knew how each of their stories was a
going to end.
Rubenhold brings these women and the times that
they lived to the forefront. Everyone thinks that they know the victims.
They were prostitutes right? Wrong. Some were but not all five. Each
has a story to tell. I could not believe the detail put into their
narratives. Using housing records, census, interviews and newspaper
reports we get fuller picture of their lives.
romanticize the Victorian time period but it was anything but ideal.
People were barely able to care for their families. Housing was not
always safe or healthy. Disease, alcoholism and poverty were prevalent.
How people survived is astounding.
If you love history, true
crime or biographies than this is perfect for you. It is full of
information that will keep you reading until the very end.
FYI: There is very little mentioned about Jack the Ripper. This book focuses on the women only and the time that they lived.
First line: By the time Alex managed to get the blood out of her good wool coat, it was too warm to wear it.
Galaxy “Alex” stern is a freshman at Yale. She grew up in California
but got in with a rough crowd as a teenager. She dropped out of school,
took drugs and lived with her drug dealing boyfriend. Until one night
everyone in her apartment is found dead except for her. She is
approached during her hospital stay with the offer of a lifetime, a full
ride scholarship to Yale.
However, when she arrives at the
prestigious college she learns that her role here is not just academic.
Alex is now a part of a society that is tasked with monitoring the
activities of the universities secret societies. With her ability to see
ghosts she is charged with helping keep the spirits and the rituals in
When a local girl is found murdered around the campus
Alex believes that the societies may have something to do with it. As
she continues to search for more clues to the mysterious death her she
finds herself being attacked by the ghosts the walk the town of New
My Thoughts: I have been looking forward to reading
this book ever since I heard about it. I really enjoyed her young adult
series. Bardugo is a master at world building and wit. But as the
release day got closer I saw several reviewers I follow giving it low
ratings or not finishing the book at all. This started to scare me. Even
though there were these negative reviews with lots of trigger warnings I
decided to ignore them and judge it for myself. And I am so glad I did!
started the book as an audio. I liked it and continued listening to it
but alternating between it and the physical book. However, I wish that I
had read the first few chapters where much of the world building
information was. There are eight secret societies with different
rituals. There are lots of characters and also time jumps between
characters. This got a little confusing. Once I started to read more it
smoothed out and got to be quite enjoyable. I found it hard to put down.
Alex gives us a glimpse back into her life before Yale and what led her
to this point. Darlington shows us what the first few months are like
with Alex as the new Virgil.
I believe that my favorite part was
when Alex interacted with the ghosts. Some are very listless but others
can be very malevolent. I hope that Bardugo gives us more of this in the
upcoming books. Even though the main mystery was who killed Tara there
is an underlying and more interesting mystery. What happened to
Darlington?! Is he alive? Where did he go? Is he coming back? We get
left with quite a cliffhanger so I really hope that the next book is not
several years in the future!
FYI: This is Bardugo’s adult debut. Her young adult series are The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, The Dregs Duology, and the Nikolai Duology.
First line: It would be inaccurate to say that my childhood was normal before they came.
When Libby Jones turned twenty-five she receives and envelope telling
her that she has inherited a house from the estate of her dead parents.
She never knew who she was or where she came from but the answers are
finally being revealed.
Twenty-four years before the police were
summoned to a mansion along the Thames. Inside were the three dead
bodies and a baby girl in a crib. It appears to be a suicide pact as
part of a cult ritual. But neighbors reported seeing older children in
the house but none are found on the night in question. What happened at
16 Cheyne Walk that fateful night?
My Thoughts: I love
Lisa Jewell! Every book I have read by her has been a lot of fun. This
one is no exception. I really considered giving it a 5 star rating. It
flipped between three characters. Libby, the baby, who recently
inherited the house. Henry, who is telling the story of what happened in
the house. And Lucy, who is struggling to keep her family afloat while
living abroad in France.
Henry was by far my favorite chapters
because we got to see how life at 16 Cheyne Walk changed over time. His
story is told chronologically from the beginning to the end. It fills in
the gaps that Libby is trying to uncover. But his narrative is much
darker and more sinister than the others.
I struggled to
understand that point behind Lucy’s chapters. It seemed like they were
filler or a separate story. She lives in France with her children and is
trying to find a way to get back to England. It just did not seem to
fit with everything else.
But the ending. It literally gave me
goosebumps and sent a chill down my spine. What a way to close a book.
Great job again Ms. Jewell!
FYI: Perfect for fans of Shari Lapena and Gillian Flynn.
First line: A bitter wind sheared through the darkness, biting into my exposed flesh and lashing my hair across my face.
Sadie Keller is determined to find out what happened to her brother on
the night he died. She does not believe the story told to her by his
wife, Crystle. But the police do not believe that there is enough
evidence to allow them to look deeper into the events.
hoping to escape from her small Kansas town. Her family are involved in
some dangerous activities and she wants to leave before she is sucked
My Thoughts: I loved the author’s previous book Arrowood. It was thrilling. This was sold to be a thriller but it really fell flat. I was hoping for more but it took almost 60% of the book to get to the more interesting pieces. The beginning was about the town, its people and the life in small town Kansas. This made it easy to connect with at least, as a girl from a small town in Kansas.
I liked the characters
but they needed something more. We got glimpses into Sadie’s past with
her brother. I would have liked more of that. Henley seemed like a
filler character. She did reveal some information that lead to big
reveal but her story was blah.
FYI: Read Arrowood!
First line: You’re having that dream again, the one where you and Tim are in Jaipur for Diwali.
When Abbie wakes up in a hospital bed she has no memory of how she got
there. There is a man who tells her she is his wife and that something
terrible happened to her five years before. And through his
determination and technological advancements he was able to bring her
back. She is the prototype for a new technology called CoBots.
Abbie acclimates to her new life she starts to wonder what happen to
the real Abbie. Using Abbie’s memories, old text messages and the built
in intuition she follows the clues to find out how and why Abbie
My Thoughts: This was a lot of fun. It was
modern day science fiction thriller. At the beginning there is a
separate narrative by an unknown character who gives us a look into the
past and the real Abbie. I was constantly trying to figure out who it
was and I never would have guessed. I like the idea of being able to
“bring back” someone who has died but it is also a little sad. I know
that there is one person I would love to “see” again but this may make
it harder too.
So many different scenarios were flying through
my head while trying to figure out the ending. There were lots of twists
and turns which make it a great psychological thriller.
FYI: Check out Delaney’s other books Believe Me and The Girl Before.
First line: I almost went back for her.
Littleport, Maine is a small coastal town that spends half the year
catering to the wealthy visitors on summer vacation. The Loman family is
the richest and most prominent family in the area. One summer the
Loman’s daughter, Sadie develops a friendship with a local girl. They
become inseparable. As their friendship grows, Avery is brought on to
manage the family’s local rental properties and other business ventures
in town. Then one summer everything changes. Sadie is found dead. The
police rule it as a suicide but Avery feels like things do not add up.
Who could want to hurt Sadie and why?
My Thoughts: This
is a perfect read for summer vacations. It is set on a coastal town with
beaches, bungalows and bistros. While reading it I desperately wanted
to be sitting outside with a cold drink.
Miranda does a great
job a spinning a tangled web. The story jumps back and forth between the
summer Sadie died and the next one without her. But at the same time we
get glimpses farther back into Avery’s past as well. There seemed to be
so many possibilities for the ending. I was shocked by the big reveal
at the end. The last 50 pages fly by so fast. It was hard to put down.
FYI: My favorite Megan Miranda books is All The Missing Girls. It is fantastic. The story is told in reverse. You would think it would give away so much but it does not. Both of these books are perfect for your summer reading list!
First line: Those months, the months before she disappeared, were the best months.
Fifteen year old Ellie is the golden child. Then one day she disappears
without a trace. Ten years later her mother, Laurel meets a man in a
coffee shop. He is charming and appears to be the perfect man. As her
relationship with Floyd progresses she meets his daughter who bears a
striking resemblance to her missing daughter, Ellie. What happened to
Ellie? After all the years of wondering Laurel is determined to find
My Thoughts: Lisa Jewell is a new discovery for me. I recently read her latest book, Watching You, on the recommendation of Dawn (who writes our Lit Pairings blog posts). I was hooked immediately. Her novels are fast paced filled with lots of twists and turns. I was pretty sure I had everything figured out early on in the novel. However, I was wrong. Things continued to get more twisted as I read.
The book was divided into different parts
with different narrators. As the story progressed we got different looks
at the events of then and now. I was very shocked and little saddened
by the ending. If you read it you may understand. There were lots of
pieces that are very hard to read. But Jewell is an amazing writer. Even
if the story had been less intriguing her writing would have saved it. I
will definitely be on the hold list for any more of her upcoming
FYI: This is perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Shari Lapena.
The Huntress by Kate Quinn
First line: She was not used to being hunted.
Nina dreamed of becoming a pilot. When the German army attacks her
native Russia, she enlists to help her country fight its invaders. As
one of the all-female bomber regiment called the Night Witches, she gets
her wish. Until one day when she goes down behind enemy lines and
encounters the evil villainous known as the Huntress.
spent the war years as a war correspondent. He everything from the
invasion of Omaha Beach to the Nuremburg Trials but he is determined to
find and bring to justice one person, the Huntress. With a personal
vendetta against the war criminal he joins an organization tasked with
finding members of the Nazi party that escaped punishment.
McBride is a young girl and aspiring photographer in 1946. Her father
recently married a mysterious Austrian widow but her story makes Jordan
suspicious. The more she learns the less she trusts her. She is
determined to find out who this woman is in order to protect her father.
Told in three narratives we piece together the story of the Huntress.
From the very first chapter I was hooked. I have been a longtime fan of
Kate Quinn and her newest novel does not disappoint. I think I can even
say with confidence that it is her best book to date. I loved the
different timelines and how each intertwine. This would be perfect for
fans of historical fiction and mysteries.
Nina was by far my
favorite character. She is strong woman but also has a deep seeded fear.
I enjoyed seeing her change and grow throughout the story. She starts
as a poor girl from eastern Russia who dreams of becoming a pilot. As
the war progresses she discovers more about herself and the country she
serves. I learned so much while reading her chapters. I had never heard
of female bomber teams during World War II. Even though Russia has a
history of being behind the times, this is a very progressive stance.
And for them to be highly decorated after the war for their courage.
Read the author’s notes at the end for more background on the story. You can tell that Quinn did a lot of research to build her narrative.
FYI: This reminded me a lot of the new release movie, Operation Finale, starring Oscar Isaac. It follows the search and capture of Adolph Eichmann, the mastermind behind the Holocaust.
I love to hold a paper book. There is something about feeling the pages in my hands. However, sometimes I find I like the convenience of a digital copy. I can take it with me where ever I am using an app on my phone. How cool is that? Plus, we have such a great selection of books available on our Sunflower eLibrary. The app used to be called Overdrive but is slowly migrating over to Libby by Overdrive. It is a fantastic upgrade. Definitely check it out if you enjoy ebooks and audio books.
*This review will be a little different because the library does not own a physical copy but only a digital one that is available on Sunflower eLibrary.*
Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy by Elizabeth Chadwick
1. The Summer Queen
2. The Winter Crown
3. The Autumn Throne
First line: Alienor woke at dawn.
Summary: This is the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine (or Alienor as she is called in the book). She was married to two kings, one of France and one of England. She was the mother of kings. However, she was a duchess in her own right and a very strong and determined woman. She traveled to the Holy Lands on a crusade. Through her the Plantagenet dynasty began. Her life was not all easy, she faced imprisonment, war and death but managed to achieve greatness in the face of it all.
Highlights: I loved this trilogy. This was my first interaction with Elizabeth Chadwick’s work and I was very impressed. Chadwick brings Eleanor to life. She shows what a strong woman she was. I loved seeing her take on kings and prove that a woman is just as powerful. The writing is superb. I will definitely be reading more of her books.
I had heard very little about Eleanor before picking up these books. As I read I learned so much about her and life in the 12th century. Her family life was very erratic and messy. I find it hard to believe how dysfunctional her family was. Her sons were constantly fighting with one another and their father. She had to be the peace keeper but also an instigator once in a while. But I found her fascinating! I think after Anne Boleyn, Eleanor is my favorite female historical figure. She did so much, lived a long life and is still remembered nearly 900 years later.
FYI: This is perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory!
What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris
First line: She blamed the fog.
Summary: When a young woman is found murdered on the steps of Westminster Abbey all the signs point to the young viscount, Sebastian St. Cyr. In order to prove himself innocent he uses his skills gained from his time in his majesty’s military as well as enlisting the help of his former mistress, Kat Boleyn.
Highlights: As a fan of historical fiction this has become one of my favorite mystery series. Sebastian is a smart and witty protagonist. The street urchin, Tom, is a great addition. He is fun and gives the reader a look into the darker underworld of the poor in London. I love that Sebastian is involved and cares about others unlike many of the people in the upper classes. I have read nearly all of this series so far and have even gotten my mother hooked on them as well.
The author does an amazing job of researching the time and drawing in historical figures. While reading this I can even connect it with the PBS show, Victoria, even though it happens about 25 years before her reign. In one of the most recent books we get introduced to Princess Charlotte who is the future wife of Uncle Leopold.
Lowlights: Sebastian may be a little too perfect. He knows a lot people and can handle about any situation. However, this can be said for most primary characters. It seems a little cheesy but it is easily overlooked because the story is so fun.
FYI: If you like this then try The Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig. It is a female centered spy novel series that takes place during this time period.