Mini-Reviews – SuperWhoLock 2 & 3

Hi all! Well, I’ve finally caught up on the Jackaby series and wanted to give you a couple of mini-reviews about how the series is going so far.

Series: Jackaby — Author: William Ritter

Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Mystery

Beastly Bones (#2)

Description from Goodreads: In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never 24001095quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural. First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad’s Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

My Review: Ok, so how to do this without spoilers? Hmm…

Well, there’s a fun mixture of creatures in this one. I especially liked the homage to ancient creatures; I admit to squee-ing a bit when I realized what the ‘big bad’ was going to be. 😉 I liked the new characters too. The paleontologists and reporter were a nice nod to real-life people from around that time period (see the Bone Wars & Nellie Bly) and the Huntsman was affable and played off Jackaby and Abigail well. We also got to see the return of our favorite rozzer, Charlie Cane (aka Charlie Barker).

I will admit that the story will probably be a bit draggy for those who aren’t into paleontology. There was quite a lot discussion about digging and bones and such. With my love of geology, archaeology, and paleontology, I quite enjoyed it, but I can see where it might put some people off. But it was still a fun story and a nice lead into the next book.

Ghostly Echoes (#3)

Description from Goodreads: Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has 28110857enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancĂ©, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected. Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

My Review: The action is really ramping up in this novel. We finally get some answers to what happened to Jenny and a little bit of closure on that case…though it ends up leading into an even bigger over-arching mystery. This new mystery is really interesting and brings in all sorts of new characters and creatures! We even get a little peak at the Annwyn, along with a wonderful mixture of afterlife mythology.

There was a lot of character building in this novel. We’re given a lot more backstory not only for Jenny, but also for Jackaby, both of which look like they will be integral to the overall storyline. (Spoiler?) I’m happy Jenny gets some closure, but that she will still be in the books; I love her character.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I won’t go into too much detail, but the ultimate foes sound wonderfully evil and it looks like the final showdown will be utilize an impressive mixture of science and magic. I can’t wait for the next installment!

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Book Review – Jackaby (aka SuperWhoLock)

Book: Jackaby – Author: William Ritter

Genre: Mystery, Supernatural, Young Adult

Description from Goodreads:

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this one. The description on Goodreads actually goes on to call it “Doctor Who meets Sherlock” and I can see their point. Jackaby reminds me so much of the 11th Doctor, that I actually kept picturing him as Matt Smith while I was reading. I mean…

“The most recent gentleman has proven to be far more resilient and a great deal more helpful. He remains with me in a . . . different capacity.”

“What capacity?”

Jackaby’s step faltered, and he turned his head away slightly. His mumbled reply was nearly lost to the wind. “He is temporarily waterfowl.”

Yeah, totally the 11th Doctor. 😉

Vincent-and-the-Doctor-gif.gif

But the main character in this book isn’t the adorably quirky Jackaby, it is his new assistant, Abigail. Like the illustrious Dr. Watson, Abigail finds herself caught up in the whirlwind that is Jackaby, but isn’t so taken aback that she can’t hold her own. She’s feisty and capable and won’t back down in a fight, but she’s also smart and uses her position in society (a young lady in the late 1800s) to her advantage.

Speaking of characters, can a house be a character? Jackaby’s house reminded me of a mixture of Sherlock’s flat and Newt Scamander’s briefcase, with a few ghosts thrown in for good measure. I would LOVE a whole book of short stories based on the artifacts in that house!

The mystery itself was really interesting too. It was obvious from the get-go that we weren’t dealing with a normal murderer, but it took a long time to piece together what type of creature was lurking. See, Jackaby & Abagail don’t just investigate regular crimes. Like Sherlock, Jackaby is only called in when the crime is so strange the police can’t figure out what’s going on, but in Jackaby’s case, this usually leads down a more mystical path (though he would insist that everything can be explained by science). There were a lot of twists and turns, good monsters and bad monsters, and we were learning about which to trust and which to run from right alongside Abigail.

Now, there WAS a bit of romance, but it wasn’t really in your face and (spoilers?) it wasn’t between Abigail & Jackaby, which was a relief. I know I’m in the minority, especially among female young adult readers, but I always think that sort of thing detracts from the story rather than adds to it.

Actually, doing this review reminded me why I liked this book; so much so that I paused while writing it to pop down the street to the library and pick up the next two in the series. 😉 Let’s see if they are as good, shall we?

Similar Books:

Death Cloud (Andrew Lane) Series: Young Sherlock Holmes

The Screaming Staircase (Jonathon Stroud) Series: Lockwood & Co

Book Review – Welcome to Night Vale

Book: Welcome to Night Vale – Author: Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor

Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Supernatural-ish

Description from Goodreads:

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked “King City” by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels.

Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.

Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: “King City”. It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures…if they can ever find it.

My Review:

The Podcast – Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor have built something so completely unique with this podcast that it’s very difficult for me to describe. The cast of characters is extremely diverse: from our favorite radio host, Cecil Palmer, to the real 5-headed dragon, Hiram McDaniels, this is a crazy wonderful cast. The plots of the show are all based loosely (and not so loosely) on real conspiracy theories and contain everything from a giant glow cloud that drops dead animals (ALL HAIL) to a mysterious desert other-world to an overreaching corporation run by a smiling god. See? Very hard to explain. The best I can do is share my all-time favorite review of the podcast: “It’s like Steven King & Neil Gaiman got together to build a Sim City and just left it running for a few years”. Seriously awesome. 🙂

The Book – This book was just as wonderful as the podcast. It gave us an in-depth look at several “side characters” from the show and tied up a few plot lines. It also contained a full storyline of its own, though with several call backs that pointed out some rather clever foreshadowing they had done in the podcast.

I especially liked the Library sequence, since I’ve always been curious as to what those exactly those horrible Librarian monsters are and what a Library in Night Vale actually looks like. Turns out it looks like any other library…filled with horrific monsters that want to kill you, making any attempt to use the Library like running a gauntlet where you have to remain completely silent and hope your weaponry holds out. You know, just the usual. 😉

The King City mystery was really interesting and finally took us outside of our small town for a glimpse of what else this world holds. The authors described the town so well, that it felt like I was actually walking down the streets, looking at the abandoned shops myself. The plot line with the Man in the Tan Jacket finally cleared up the story behind this mysterious character who has been wandering around Night Vale for quite some time. Wow, I was not expecting that!

And the thing with the pink flamingos was great. I just love all the completely off the wall things these the guys come up with!

No review is complete without giving props to the Voice of Night Vale, Cecil Baldwin. I was lucky enough to purchase the audio version of this book, so I got to spend several hours basking in his melodious tones. (Really, he has a GREAT voice.) He didn’t do super well at trying to sound like the female main characters, but his voice is so naturally deep, that I’ve forgiven him for it. 😉 The rest of the book was very well done; he just makes the reading sound so natural, like he’s having a conversation with you. I’m very glad I got the audio version, reading it on paper just isn’t the same experience.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an interesting, touching, completely crazy adventure. You don’t necessarily have to have listened to the podcast to understand what’s going on, but it would definitely help. There are some small details that you won’t pick up on if you haven’t done your homework. 😉 You can find out how to listen to the show here: http://www.welcometonightvale.com/listen

Similar Book(s):

Can I just list all the WtNV books here? Lol!

Mostly Void, Partially Stars – WtNV Episodes, Year 1
The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe – WtNV Episodes, Year 2

And the new book, It Devours, is now available for pre-order!

Book Review – The Darkest Part of the Forest

Book: The Darkest Part of the Forest – Author: Holly Black

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Supernatural

Description from Amazon:

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointy as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down and a hero is needed to save them all, Hazel tries to remember her years spent pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

My Review:

In a town where the fairy world is never far away, life seems to be very interesting. My favorite thing about the book is that Holly Black was able to so completely entwine the worlds together. Usually, when I read these types of books, there’s at least one point story where I go “well THAT was over the top”, but even during the most monstrous attacks in this book, everything just seemed so plausible.

Perhaps the story was so believable because of the characters in the book. I thought they were all fairly well developed and seemed very realistic for their age level (high-school). They spoke and acted just like normal kids would, and reacted to the events as if they were a problem, but a problem they lived their whole lives expecting to happen, which lent credibility to even the most audacious bits of the storyline. (I also thought all of the characters were likable, which doesn’t happen all that often in YA books, so I was very happy about that.)

Part of the believability must also have come from how well the author understood the world she had created. Black describes everything in detail, from the beings themselves to their woods to their habits. She knows the world so well that she is able to explain everything that is happening in a way that makes you believe that there’s no reason it shouldn’t be happening. But she also knows her audience and doesn’t go into SO much detail that the reader gets bored.

Aside from not having to worry about suspension of disbelief, I also liked the story itself. It was a nice story with some interesting plot twists. And you actually worried about whether the characters would survive. A lot of YA books in this genre try to give their characters a super-power or some secret knowledge that you know will save them in the long run. This one didn’t really do that, at least, not overtly (I will admit, there is at least one super-power, but it doesn’t initially come off as really useful, lol). In this story, you actually cared about the characters and were concerned they might not make it to the end of the book.

It also helped that you weren’t inundated with the characters’ backstories upfront. As the book went along, relevant events in their past popped up and made you understand their reactions to what was happening in the story. This did cause some confusion in the beginning, but I think overall it was a good strategy, since trying to force all the background into the beginning of the book probably would have lost the readers’ interest.

So without giving any of the plot away, I will just say that I really enjoyed this book. There was an air of suspense and mystery through-out the entire story and plenty of action to keep you interested. If you enjoy YA and the fairy realm, you will enjoy this book. 🙂

Similar Books:

Grimm Fairytales (Original) – Brothers Grimm

The Replacement – Brenna Yovanoff

Book Review – Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Book: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch – Authors: Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

Genre: Fiction, Supernatural, Humorous

Description from Amazon:

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completelyaccurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

My Review:

As a longtime admirer of Neil Gaiman (and a newbie to Terry Pratchett), I was happy that I ended up really liking this one. The authors’ storytelling techniques meshed very well and the end result was a very humorous, yet thoughtful book. I really liked the way they went about the apocalypse. It was hilarious while still being horrifying. The Antichrist had an interesting take as well. No spoilers, promise, but the individual they used for the character was very well done and, though it normally would seem like an absurd individual to use, the way they are used is done so well that it all comes across as very believable.

Fans of the show Supernatural will be surprised to find a character named Crowley (though after I looked up the true reference, it totally made sense for him to be in the story) who’s attitude greatly resembles the tv persona. Instead of putting me off like it normally would, this coincidence actually made me enjoy the book even more. I love the character of Crowley in both instances, it seems.

My favorites, however, would have to be the Four Horsemen. I loved the re-imagining of these characters. Modern and eternal all at the same time.

My only con for this book was that it was long. Not really in physical length, but in time. There were several places where the story seemed to drag and I was pushing myself to keep going because “things will start to pull together soon”. I’m hoping that this isn’t reminiscent of all of Terry Pratchett’s work for me, since I had the same reaction afterwards to “The Color of Magic”; the story seemed to kind of hop around more than necessary and you weren’t always sure how things tied together.

All in all, though, I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

Similar Books:

Hitchikker’s Guide to the Galaxy – by Douglas Adams