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

 

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The Sky-liners (Sacketts #11) ★★★☆½

skyliners (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: The Sky-liners
Series: Sacketts #11
Author: Louis L’Amour
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 208
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Flagan and his brother Galloway Sackett have returned from their adventures in The Sackett Brand and they’ve paid off their father’s debts. Now they’ve got to start all over and earn their own stake. In some no account little town they face down a gang of roughs who are intent on causing trouble for an Irish gypsy and his granddaughter. Said gypsy convinces them to take the granddaughter, Judith, to her father out west. They also take some of the finest horseflesh they’ve ever seen to help as breeding stock for Judith’s father. Well, the roughs, led by a man named Black Fletchen, don’t take kindly to this. Especially considering that Black was all set to marry Judith and take those horses for himself.

Flagan and Galloway and Judith all headout West, expecting trouble and they find it. Fletchen kills the gypsy, goes full on outlaw by rustling a herd of cattle, killing the owners son and begins hunting the Sackett brothers. When Flagan and company do reach Judith’s father, it is only to find that Black has already taken over the ranch and the father is being held captive.

Flagan and Galloway have hooked up with the cowboys whose herd was stolen, so when they plan on facing down the Fletchens, they’re not alone. However, Black sets a clever trap and gets Flagan, Galloway and Judith pretty much trapped on a mountain side. There is a big showdown ranging across the mountains in a thunderstorm. Fletchen gets his, Flagan gets shot and ends up being taken care of by Judith.

The book ends with it looking like Flagan and Judith will be getting married and Flagan taking on the ranch to help her father.

 

My Thoughts:

Heck, L’Amour has a pattern that he writes from. It works. So don’t expect anything new in any of these books and you’re all set.

For all that every single main character in each Sackett book complains about how they aren’t handsome like “Relative X” and don’t know how to talk to women, these Sackett boys sure don’t seem to have any problems picking themselves up some wives. Of course, it usually takes getting shot in some desperate battle in the worst of weather, after having ridden, walked and generally existed for 100’s of miles in even worse conditions. But still.

I like this book a lot better than the previous one. I think that comes down to having new characters. Since L’Amour writes more “archetypes” than actual characters, after a while any particular character begins to show their weakness as a growing, evolving person. The easiest way to deal with that is to constantly switch to new characters and new circumstances. That might come across as a criticism, but that is only if you are looking for deep characterization in your western. L’Amour made no bones that he was a storyteller. The characters come second. It is a way of telling a story that isn’t nearly as popular nowadays as it used to be. I think a lot of it has to do with culture shift more than anything.

The other thing I noticed is the weight of the pistols. I think it was in this book that it is mentioned that the character’s pistol weighed over 2 pounds. If not in this book, then definitely in another. Anyway, that is HEAVY! My little Sig P938, loaded with 7 rounds, weighs in at around 17ounces (16 oz to a lb for you furrenners!). So add some bullets to those old guns and you’re talking close to 3lbs. I can’t imagine doing a fast draw with something that big and heavy. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not a gunslinger, hahahahaa.

Bookstooge Sackett I am not.

★★★☆½

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No Thoroughfare ★★★★☆

nothoroughfare (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: No Thoroughfare
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens & Wilkie Collins
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 256
Format: Digital Edition

 

The synopsis will have some real spoilers, so if you think you might ever read this book and don’t want it spoiled, just read the “My Thoughts” portion.

Synopsis: Spoilers

A baby boy is given to an Foundling and in his teen years is adopted by an older lady. She educates him and reveals that she is his birth mother. She sets him on the path of success in the Wine Business and promptly passes away.

Said young man, Walter Wilding, is in poor health and so takes on a partner to help with the business, one George Vendale. Walter also hires a new housekeeper and in the process it is revealed that she was a former nurse at the Foundling. It is also revealed that there were several “Walter Wilding”s and the lady got the wrong one. This distresses young Wilding to no end and he begins to seek out the rightful heir. It also places an incredible stress upon his already weak constitution and he soon passes away. He leaves it to his partner George to find the heir and if he can’t, to take Wilding’s share of the company.

At the same time, George is woo’ing Margeurite Obenreizer, a young swiss woman who is under the guardianship of her half-uncle. During this whole thing, it is revealed by an inquiry of George’s that someone in a high position of trust, has been stealing money from the company that Obenreizer works for.

George ends up taking a hike over the Alps to give his evidence and of course it is Obenreizer, who goes along to try to either steal the evidence or kill George. Margeurite senses something is wrong, follows with the help of faithful retainer of George’s and saves George only to apparently have him die in her arms.

Several months elapse and Obenreizer, now let go from his previous job, is working for a lawyer with the aim of stealing his secrets and using them for personal gain. He learns something about Vendale, who he thinks is dead. Then Margeurite and George spring forth, alive and whole and reveal the treachery of Obenreizer in full. Obenreizer, thinking he is getting revenge, reveals that George Vendale is actually adopted by the Vendales and that he was a foundling. Of course, it turns out that George Vendale was the heir that Walter Wilding was looking for the entire time.

The book ends with Obenreizer dying in an avalanche and George and Margeurite getting married.

 

My Thoughts:

I remembered a few things from my initial read in ’03, but in so many ways it was like reading it for the first time. I enjoyed this a lot.

This was drama of the finest vintage. Orphans and searches for lost heirs and love and evil villains and love triumphant and just desserts. This has it all in spades. And it is short, so anyone who might be intimidated by Dicken’s rather lengthy style won’t be put off. I don’t have anything else to say. I’m tired and worded out.

★★★★☆

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The Devil in Miss Urd (Oh My Goddess! #11) ★★☆☆☆ (Manga Monday)

devilinmissurd (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: The Devil in Miss Urd
Series: Oh My Goddess! #11
Author: Kosuke Fujishima
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 176
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Kei, Bell and the gang all “win” a trip to a hotsprings. There, they run across Mara and they all decide to call a truce while on vacation. Of course, it is all a ruse by Mara to gain a strand of Urd’s hair, which she uses to make a clone of Urd. The clone is empty and needs a soul.

Mara kidnapps Urd and using junkstore equipment, separates her goddess half from her demon half. The demon half Mara sends into the clone and lets it loose. Belldandy realizes what is going on and knows that if one half of Urd’s soul perishes, the other will as well. So they can’t destroy Demon Urd, just try to subdue her. Goddess Urd gets free and with the help of Belldandy and Skuld, Urd is put back together again. Of course, there is an empty “Urd skin” lying around.

The book ends with a one shot story of Banpei the robot putting on the Urd skin and going around helping people.

 

My Thoughts:

This was amusing. Convoluted, silly and not well thought out, but amusing nonetheless.

I think my biggest problem with this series is that I constantly see the manga-ka undercutting himself in the longterm to get what he wants in the short term. Take Urd. She’s supposedly half-goddess and half-demon. Gods and Demons are supposedly the antithesis of each other, so how did she come about? And then it is revealed that even the Almighty couldn’t separate Urd’s two natures but we’re supposed to believe that imbecilic Mara can do it? It is just too evident that Fujishima is making things up as he goes and the inconsistancies are glaring.

Going to be talking to myself for a minute, so bear with it. This series is making me not want to read manga at all. I dread having to read this because it is so blah and this re-read has destroyed all my good memories of what I read before. The romance and humor that appealed to me when I was 24 has not matured along with me. I’ve outgrown this and cannot overlook the faults. And yet I paid for the whole 48 volumes. I feel like I’ve got a ball and chain wrapped around my neck and I’ve been tossed off the dock.

And when I put it as bluntly as that, I realize something. I don’t like this manga anymore and while I spent some good money on it, spending TIME on it will not justify the money. I need to cut my losses and just let it go. I am done with this series. Hopefully I can at least sell it on Craigslist and not lose all my money.

I think this final picture is appropriate. Goodbye Oh My Goddess! Only the anime ova shall live on in my memory. This manga has punished me enough.

domg1_15

Sweet Belldandy. It wasn’t only Kei who was in love with you back then

★★☆☆☆

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Miss Keiichi (Oh My Goddess! #10) ★★★☆☆ (Manga Monday)

misskeiichi (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:
Miss Keiichi
Series: Oh My Goddess! #10
Author: Kosuke Fujishima
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 117
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Urd and Skuld are called back to Heaven, giving Kei some alone time with Belldandy. She gets sick, he messes around with some of Urd’s “medicine” and ends up turning himself into a girl. He manages to get ahold of Urd and she and Skuld come back to nurse Belldandy back to health.

Then a former lover of Urds shows up, a Plum Spirit, by the name of Troubador. He professes to want to get together with Urd but is really after her tears so he can complete his training as a bard. He is insanely jealous and so Urd won’t turn Kei back into a guy while he’s around.

Kei gets suckered into taking over the motor club since the two elder students are graduating that year. He wins a competition only to find out that the two Senpais are staying on for advanced mechanical courses and so will still be in charge.

A girl confesses to Kei in a love letter but her ulterior motive is to perform an exorcism on him as she claims she senses “unhuman” energy surrounding him. Due to her own ineptness, she calls forth some super demon dog and it is only thanks to Urd manipulating Belldandy’s jealousy that allows them all to survive.

Megumi has left the motorclub to join the softball team, but with only 4 members, they are being pressured by the baseball club to fold up and become gofers for them. Megumi, Kei and everyone else gets together as a team and end up winning on a technicality. And Urd shows cleavage.

The final story is about Megumi finding a stray dog, it worming its way into everyone’s heart, Megumi finding the owner and Kei admitting he really likes the dog.

 

My Thoughts:

The only amusing part of this manga was when Kei was a woman and preparing to take a bath. I’ll let this picture speak for itself.

omg-c55-p23

 

The rest of these chapters? Barely humorous, wallowing in vapid sentimentality (that puppy chapter just about made me barf) and generally feeling like the manga-ka was mailing it in. Nothing happens. There is no overall plot. A good manga doesn’t always need some overarching story. Yotsuba is the perfect example of that and the manga-ka there carries it off really well. I can forgive random crap chapters when they at least entertain me or are funny or “something”. However, this book felt like a big bowl of diet vanilla pudding. I don’t know if “diet” vanilla pudding even exists, but I imagine it tastes like chalk or something and that is what this book came across as. Dry and bleh.

Mediocre is a good word for this volume. “Miss Keiichi” keeps it from dropping to a 2 ½ rating since I found that panel very humorous.

★★★☆☆

 

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As You Like It ★★★☆½

asyoulikeit (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: As You Like It
Series: ———-
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Pages: 120
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Orlando, youngest son of a dead lord, has been cheated by his older brother. He runs off to the Duke, out wrestles the duke’s champion and meets, and falls in love with, Rosalind. He then runs off to the forest because the Duke didn’t like his pappy. There he pines for Rosalind. He meets a young man, who is really Rosalind in diguise ands woos said young man who claims that he can cure anyone of love. Orlando is successful and Rosalind marries him, all the while she is orchestrating the marriage of 2 other couples along with her own nuptials. Orlando’s brother gives up the estates to him, the naughty duke, Rosalind’s Uncle, takes religious vows and Rosalind’s daddy becomes ruler.

Everybody is happy. The End.

 

My Thoughts:

I keep wanting to treat these plays like novels and you just can’t do that. The value contained in the words aren’t necessarily the actual plots. Boy and Girl fall in love, overcome Incredible Odds, Happy Ending for Everyone. That story is as old and Jacob and Rachel. Yet, seeing these plot points is good as it gives you the necessary understanding of where so much of our modern stories come from. There is truly nothing new under the sun.

You can say that again.

What I am liking is the metred cadence. This is a play. It is meant to be spoken. While I am not, at this point in time, reading these outloud, I am not discounting the idea of doing that for one of these, just to hear how it flows. I am no thespian, nor poetic enough to write in iambic pentameter, but some time this year I’m going to try to write one of my reviews like it was a Shakespeare play. I already know that will take some serious work. The whole mindset has to be different than the prose I am used to and think in.

Honestly, I can’t even tell you exactly what iambic pentameter IS or how to do it. I know roughly it is so many this and thats over so many lines, blah, blah, blah. Not sure if rhyming is necessary or not. See, I have a lot to learn before I even attempt a review like that. And Shakespeare wrote a whole raft full of the bloody things.

★★★☆½

 

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Ninja Master (Oh My Goddess! #9) ★★★★☆ (Manga Monday)

ninjamaster (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: Ninja Master
Series: Oh My Goddess! #9
Author: Kosuke Fujishima
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 117
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

This volume starts out with Kei and the girls at a beach where Urd, always trying to hurry along Kei and Belldandy’s romance, informs Kei that telling Belldandy he loves her under a full moon will result in their eternal happiness. Urd interferes to make things happen while Skuld interferes to stop them.

Next Skuld goes through a goddess growing up moment, only nobody tells her or Kei and Kei thinks she’s started her periods. So he goes to the department store to buy her “feminine products” and almost gets sold a Happy Family Planning pack.

The final story of this book revolves around Mara siccing a bunch of chibi ninja’s upon the household. Kodoma goes in first and is overcome by Bell’s kindness and moves her loyalty to Bell. Then Kodoma’s best friend Hikari makes her move, with the same result. Then the rest of the clan attacks everyone and Belldandy uses a spell to knock them all out. The little ninjas all renounce Mara and send her a break up letter. Oh, one of the Ninjettes is a Peeping Tom Boy.

 

My Thoughts:

Now this is the Oh My Goddess I remember. Funny vignette style stories that are light and fluffy and fun to read, as long as you don’t poke at them.

It is evident that the manga-ka is poking fun at himself in regards to Kei and Bell’s romance as the first little ninja writes down something like “Bell and Kei Romance: Kindergarten Level” on her first recon mission. It just made me grin.

This time around Fujishima’s humor really worked for me. I was amused from start to finish. Not exactly sure if it was me just being in a good mood or if the humor was actually that funny. The end result was the same though. I laughed out loud several times.

What got me the most though was the whole Senrigan the Peeping Tom Boy. That is the picture this time and boy, did it strike my fancy. The scale isn’t here in this picture, but these girls are all the size of your hand. So imagine something that small filled with that much attitude.

peepingtomboy
Better watch out or Senrigan will tell on you!

 

 

 

★★★★☆

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