Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) ★★★☆½

beastlybonesThis review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Beastly Bones
Series: Jackaby #2
Author: William Ritter
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 305
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Jackaby solves a case of a shapeshifting creature and when that creature’s owner is killed, ostensibly by a vampire, Jackaby and Abigal Rook are on it. When another victim turns up in Gads Valley, where Charlie Cane is now living and with the promise of dinosaur bones, both of our main characters are anxious to be off.

Once in Gads Valley, along with 2 competing archeologists and a strong willed journalist, Jackaby reveals that the bones belong to a dragon, not a dinosaur and there appears to be a live dragon as well. Carnage and mayhem ensue as the dragon, really a shapeshifter from the litter that Jackaby solved right at the beginning of the book, runs rampant. It violently explodes when Abigal throws a lit torch down its throat.

Jackaby and Abigal realize everything has been a distraction to keep them from the mastermind of it all. Abigal kisses Charlie at the train station and once back in New Fiddleham, both protagonists come to the conclusion that the death of their ghost Jenny is tied to everything. Solve her case and the mastermind of supernatural evil will be revealed.

 

My Thoughts:

A cracking fun read. Everything was a slow build up and I have to admit, I did not see the whole changling thing coming at all. That completely surprised me, in a good way.

Jenny the ghost does some poltergeist’y stuff near the beginning so I did know that her story was going to be important and sure enough, by the end of the book, her case is going to be the case that reveals who this supernatural meddler is.

The 2 archeologists and the journalist, along with a hunter who is a friend of Jackaby all provide nice background noise and are pretty much perfect side characters who are good for one book. Charlie and Abigal and their whole romance thing played a bigger part in this book, but more for various characters to tell Abigal what she should do or feel and for Abigal to finally decide on her own. Very modern young lady * eye roll * It was laid on a little thick, but considering this is YA bordering on middle grade, that is kind of to be expected.

Abigal is a great narrator and I’m glad the author didn’t try to change things from the first book and make somebody else do that. She’s feisty and smart and yet at the same time can be very human with being clumsy or not understanding something blindingly obvious to everyone else.

In many ways these remind me of Patricia Wrede’s Frontier Magic trilogy. The tone is very similar and while Abigal is a little bit older than Eff, Eff had to grow up fast while Abigal had the protection of money. But after this second Jackaby book, I suspect if you like one, you’ll like the other. I sure know I do.

And I have to end this review talking about the cover. I’ve included a large version if you click the pix by the info block. I’m not sure if it is the colors or the simplicity of it or what, but this is just as gorgeous as the first book.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition ★★★★★

phantomtollbooth (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition
Series: ——
Author: Norton Juster
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Milo is a discontented, bored little boy. Until one day he gets a tollbooth and goes on an adventure to rescue the Princesses Rhyme and Reason. With his friends Tock the Watch-Dog and the Humbug, Milo will learn the importance of words and numbers and just how they can affect everything.

Milo completes his adventure and once back home realizes just how big of a place our world is and how much there is to do. No more boring days for Milo!

 

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books I read as a kid and that has stuck with me ever since. I couldn’t remember every detail, but the clever word plays and number games always stuck in my head. So when I saw this 50th Anniversary Edition a couple of years ago I had to pick it up. Of course, it’s taken me several years to actually get around to reading it.

It is a children’s book so some things are childish. But even now, I never felt like Juster was trying to talk down to his audience or dumb things down. I enjoyed the heck out of this. I had forgotten just how quickly everything happens. Bam, Bam, Bam.

If you’ve never read this book, I highly recommend you do. It is good even for adults. If you happen to know some kids, I’d even higherly recommend this to them.

This 50th Anniversary Edition had a forward from Maurice Sendak [which was actually from the 35th Anniversary Edition] and several “How the Phantom Tollbooth Affected Me” stories from various people at the end of the book. I wasn’t impressed with Sendak’s blabbing and will definitely be skipping that if I read this again. I WAS looking forward to the various stories at the end, but sadly, I only recognized 1 or 2 names and nobody told a good story. It was all the same “I love it, my children loved it, the dog loved it.” blah, blah, blah. It did make me wonder who all those people were whose names I didn’t recognize. Maybe someday I’ll care enough to look them up, but not now.

To end. The story was fantastic, the addons, ie the forward and the stories at the end, not so much. Ignore those, read the story and have a wonderful time! I’m giving it my “best book of the year” tag as well.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge

Talking to Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles #4) ★★★★☆

talkingtodragons (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Talking to Dragons
Series: Enchanted Forest Chronicles #4
Author: Patricia Wrede
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 272
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Daystar discovers a wizard spying on his mom. His mom promptly melts the wizard, heads off into the Enchanted Forest and comes back with a sword. She hands the sword to Daystar and tells him to seek his fortune in the Enchanted Forest.

So, being a good son, Daystar does. He meets Shiara, a flame witch who can’t control her powers and a young dragon who is out proving just how grown up it actually is. All the while all of them are being chased by wizards for various reasons.

They have adventures, meet the dragons, rescue Daystar’s dad, have a battle with the wizards and then settle down to live happily ever after.

Sometimes it is good to find out you are the Prince of the Enchanted Forest.

 

My Thoughts:

What a cute book. I was wondering, near the beginning, WHY Cimorene wouldn’t tell Daystar anything, but that gets explained.

Daystar is very polite to everyone he meets and that nets him more than he loses over the course of the book. I also liked how the adults in the book are competent adults and not stupid idiots. Well, except for the wizards but since they are the badguys, that is expected.

The first time I read these Chronicles I read an omnibus edition with all 4 books together. I think that was a bit too much. The childish nature of the humor, while wonderful, would wear rather thin right in a row for an adult. So I think I enjoyed my reading of these more this time around. I was able to enjoy each story on its own without rushing through them all and getting overloaded on cuteness and middle grade humor.

These books just cement the idea in my mind that Wrede is another wonderful author who has talent and discretion and that I am lucky to have found her books. I am also thankful that she’s never gone into the PNR direction or love triangle, angsty YA direction. Because, she’s a real author.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Calling on Dragons (Book 3)
  2. Searching for Dragons (Book 2)
  3. Dealing with Dragons (Book 1)
  4. Enchanted Forest Chronicles Omnibus (2006 Review)

Calling on Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles #3) ★★★★☆

calling (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Calling on Dragons
Series: Enchanted Forest Chronicles #3
Author: Patricia Wrede
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 274
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Morwen the Witch, and her 9 cats, are trying to help out Cimorene and the King of the Enchanted Forest. Wizards have stolen his magic sword which makes the Enchanted Forest vulnerable. So Morwen, Cimorene, the magician, Kazul the King of the Dragons and an enchanted bunny that eventually turns into a flying, blue, ghost donkey [seriously!] all set out to recover the sword.

They are successful but upon their return to the Enchanted Forest they find that the King and his castle have been put inside a super powerful shield spell by the wizards and only the magic sword can cut through it. Unfortunately, only a direct heir to the king can wield the sword. Cimorene is pregnant, so all they have to do is wait for the kid to be born and grow up enough to use the sword.

No problemo!

 

My Thoughts:

This was fun. Just like the other books, it is definitely middle grade, but it is well written that even a young virile man like myself can enjoy it.

I liked this better than the previous book and I suspect that is because Wrede writes from a female main character perspective. Killer the rabbit, who through an ongoing reaction to various magics, ends up as a blue, flying, ghost donkey, alternated between an annoying prat and an extremely funny foil. I think he would have been funnier if he hadn’t had so many lines.

The cats were great little snippets of personality here and there. They exuded “catness” in everything they said and did. I’m guessing Wrede owns cats.

My only grouse comes from a more adult perspetive. Those pesky wizards. Instead of just melting them, and having them reform after a couple of days, why not let the dragons eat them wholesale OR have Mendenbarr [the king of the Enchanted Forest] hunt them down with his magic sword, assassin style.

She could even have him be on the cover of another book as this dark broody guy in a hooded cape with lots of glitter. You know, the kind of cover that seems to be on most of the YA crap out there these days. Or he could be this huge buff guy with no shirt and long hair kissing some buxom lass with half her clothes gone. I would title that one: “Mendenbarr: King Of Love” with a byline, “he KNOWS how to use that sword”. Surprisingly, Wrede never even ASKED for my input in any form for these potential spinoff novels. I would have totally split the royalties with her. But hey, not everyone recognizes genius when they see it.

In closing, this was a good light read that I have NO regrets about re-reading.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Dealing with Dragons (Book 1)
  2. Searching for Dragons (Book 2)

Searching for Dragons (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles #2) ★★★★☆

searching (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

 

 
Title:         Searching for Dragons
Series:      The Enchanted Forest Chronicles #2
Author:     Patricia Wrede
Rating:      4 of 5 Stars
Genre:      Fantasy, Middle-grade
Pages:      276
Format:    Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Mendanbar, King of the Enchanted Forest, runs across some wizards who seem to not be quite on the up and up. In his investigation, he comes into contact with Cimorene. Kazul is missing and they both end up going to look for her. Kazul is being held captive by the wizards and it is up to Mendanbar, Cimorene, Morwen the witch, Gipsy Jack and the magician Telemain to free her, vanquish the wizards, restore the deadzones in the Magic Forest, and plan a wedding.

Because when a King meets a Princess and both are rather unconventional, of course they get married! Duh…

 

My Thoughts:

This story was from Mendenbar’s view, as opposed to Cimorenes. It wasn’t quite as quirky and the tone was the same, so it didn’t have that “newness” factor. I enjoyed my time but whereas Cimorene took charge and kicked butt in the first book, Mendanbar is much more of a passive character, at least in his attitude. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll kill rock snakes and fight wizards with the best of them, but he just seems to exude “That’s nice. Next?” The adventure happened TO him. He didn’t take it by the throat and throttle it into submission.

When I originally read this back in ’06, I read the whole tetralogy at once and I think that gives a very different flavor than reading these individually a month or 2 apart.

Book 1, Dealing with Dragons, charmed me completely. This just kept me entertained.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

  1. Dealing with Dragons

Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1)

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 This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything and links at Booklikes, & Goodreads by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

 

 
Title: Dealing with Dragons
Series: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1
Author: Patricia Wrede
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 244
Format: Kindle digital edition

 

Synopsis: Spoilers

Cimorene is an unusual Princess in the Kingdom that sets the Standard for Normal. It doesn’t help that she has several older sisters who all Normal Princesses. After trying to learn magic, cooking, horseback riding, fencing and other various unsuitable activities for a Princess, Cimorene finds out that her parents are going to marry her off to get her of their hands. Not being particularly enamoured of the idea, Cimorene takes the advice of a magic frog she meets in the garden and sets off to find herself a dragon. A dragon that will keep everyone away from her.

Cimorene is taken under wing [ha!] by Kazul, who happens to like cherry jubilee, one of the few desserts that Cimorene knows how to make. As knights and princes come and go, Cimorene stumbles upon a plot by wizards to cause problems at the next choosing of the Dragon King. With the the help of another Princess, a Stone Prince and a local witch from the Enchanted Forest, Cimorene exposes the plot, foils the wizards and allows Kazul to become the next King of the Dragons.

 

My Thoughts:

This was humorous, delightful and cute. There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like with this story. It was fun. Sometimes in the midst of epic fantasy tomes or the weighty thoughts of science fiction classics, you need a break. I didn’t know I needed a break, but when I started reading this, I realized I needed to be charmed and this book charmed me from beginning to end.

This was written in such a way that an adult like me could enjoy it fully and yet it seemed accessible all the way down to middle grade readers, perhaps even precocious elementary ones. To be able to reach that full spectrum is the mark of an author who knows her craft.

Don’t have much else to say beyond the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I was tempted to just read all 4 of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles right in a row. But much like cherry jubilee, you cannot gorge yourself without some consequences. So I’m pacing myself and now I am REALLY looking forward to the next books.

star50-custom-custom

 

 

bookstooge

  1. Enchanted Forest Chronicles from 2006

 

Treasure Island (Classic)

dd5ca3a9aee35a693cfc54a00dae4602 This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com by express permission of this reviewer

 

Synopsis:

Jim Hawkins, young boy at a boarding house, ends up with a treasure map. A good friend, a doctor, believes it is real and thus an adventure to recover pirate treasure is started. And pirates come back into the picture before all is said and done!

 

My Thoughts:

After reading Stevenson’s Black Arrow last year and being sorely disappointed, I was hoping this would redeem him. It certainly did.

It started out very fast paced and suspenseful. Jim at the inn with an old drunk who turns out to be a pirate, who other pirates are after, makes for a good time. An attack on the inn, Jim fleeing, taking refuge with the doctor, it was a good beginning.

Then you have the sailing to the island and all the whoop de whoo with just about all the crew being former pirates. The adventure ON the island after the mutiny and whole working out of justice as the pirates fall prey to their own piratical nature.

And through it all, Jim the scamp, the wonder hero, the all round British boyo, is central to everything.

This is very much a boys adventure fantasy. I enjoyed it quite a bit and can see why so many spinoffs [Disney’s Treasure Planet and the Muppet Treasure Island being the most recent in my mind] exist. It is simply a great story.

 

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Author: Robert Stevenson

Treasure Island