House of Many Ways (World of Howl #3) ★★★★☆


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: House of Many Ways
Series: World of Howl #3
Author: Diana Jones
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Pages: 162
Words: 70.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia & Me

Charmain Baker has led a respectable, and relaxing sheltered life. She has spent her days with her nose in a book, never learning how to do even the smallest household chores. When she suddenly ends up looking after the tiny cottage of her ill Great-Uncle William she seems happy for the adventure, but the easy task of house-sitting is complicated by the fact that Great-Uncle William is also the Royal Wizard Norland and his magical house bends space and time.

Though she is supposed to clean up the mess William has left the house in, Charmain knows next to nothing about magic, and yet she seems to work it in the most unexpected way. The house’s single door can lead to almost any place – from other rooms like the kitchen, to faraway places like the Royal Palace, and even other time periods. In her first days in the magical house she ends up looking after a magical stray dog named Waif, encounters a horrible lubbock, has to share a roof with a confused young apprentice wizard named Peter, tries to work some spells from William’s library, and deals with a clan of small blue creatures called Kobolds.

When Charmain is caught up in an intense royal search to remedy the kingdom’s financial troubles, she encounters Sophie Pendragon, her son Morgan, a beautiful child named Twinkle, and their fire demon Calcifer. One of the messes Twinkle gets Charmain into results in Twinkle climbing onto the roof of the Royal Mansion. She is soon involved in curing the kingdom of its ills and rediscovering the long-lost mystical Elfgift.

Calcifer destroys the Lubbock, Howl turns the Lubbockin (children of the Lubbock) into tiny versions and Waif eats them, as she turns out to be a magical dog and the Elfgift. She is bonded to Charmain, who it looks like will be the next royal wizard after her ever so great Uncle William passes on. Peter turns out to be the next heir of Norland and all the missing money is found, making Norland solvent again.

My Thoughts:

This was pretty good, rather good in fact, but there was something missing that I can’t put my finger on that made me give this 4 stars instead of 5. Pretty much what I’ve written about Howl’s Moving Castle and Castle in the Air still apply here, but something didn’t quite fill me perfectly up.

Other than something that I can’t even describe or figure out, this was another fantastic entry in the World of Howl series. Reading this trilogy so close together has been a very enjoyable experience and I don’t regret it one bit. I’ve tried other DWJ books and they didn’t really work as well for me, so I’m going to just wish there were more Howl books and leave it at that.

Having such success with this does make me wonder what other middle grade books I should try. I don’t know if I’m brave enough or willing enough to attempt that though. I think my best bet is to just relish what I’ve read here and leave it alone. No need to get greedy.

★★★★☆

Castle in the Air (World of Howl #2) ★★★★★

castleintheair (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: Castle in the Air
Series: World of Howl #2
Author: Diana Jones
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Pages: 176
Words: 67K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Castle in the Air follows the adventures of Abdullah, a handsome young carpet salesman from Zanzib, who daydreams constantly about being a stolen prince. One day a strange traveler comes to his stand to sell a magic carpet. During the night, Abdullah goes to sleep on the carpet but wakes up to find himself in a beautiful garden with a young woman. He tells the woman, Flower-in-the-Night, that he is the stolen prince of his daydreams, believing that he is in fact dreaming. Flower-in-the-Night, who has never seen a man other than her father, first believes that Abdullah is a woman, so Abdullah agrees to return the next night with portraits of many men so that she can make a proper comparison. He does so, and Abdullah and Flower-in-the-Night decide to get married.

Abdullah returns the next night, but he arrives just as Flower-in-the-Night is snatched away by a huge flying djinn. Soon after, the Sultan of Zanzib captures Abdullah who then discovers that Flower is actually the Sultan’s daughter. Enraged that his daughter is missing, the Sultan blames Abdullah and throws him in jail, threatening to impale him on a 40-foot pole if his daughter is not found. Fortunately, Abdullah is saved by his magic carpet and escapes from Zanzib.

Abdullah ends up in the desert and stumbles upon a group of bandits, who have in their possession a particularly cranky genie who grants only one wish a day. In the night, Abdullah steals the genie and flees. After a wish, Abdullah is transported to Ingary and ends up traveling with a bitter Strangian soldier whose country was recently taken in a war with Ingary. While traveling to Kingsbury in search of a wizard, the two stumble upon a cat and her kitten, whom the soldier names Midnight and Whippersnapper, respectively.

As they travel, Abdullah wishes for the return of his flying carpet, who brings with it the very Djinn that kidnapped Flower-in-the-Night. It is revealed that the Djinn, Hasruel, is being forced to kidnap princesses from all over the world by his brother, Dalzel. The two proceed on the carpet to Kingsbury, which is where they find Wizard Suliman, who, upon realizing that Midnight is actually a person in cat form, returns her to being a human. As the spell is lifted from the woman, who turns out to be Sophie Pendragon, her baby, Morgan is returned to his normal self as well. However, when they go to collect the baby, he is no longer in the inn, where he was left with the soldier.

Abdullah and Sophie then order the carpet to take them to Morgan. The carpet does so, taking them far into the sky, to the castle in the air, which is merely Wizard Howl’s castle, having been greatly enlarged. There they meet the abducted princesses and plot with them to escape the flying moving castle. Led by Abdullah, they overpower the two Djinn, freeing Hasruel who banishes his brother. Flower-of-the-Night had by then wished the Genie free, who turned out to be Sophie’s husband, the top-level sorcerer Howl.

My Thoughts:

My feelings about this book almost exactly what I felt when reading Howl’s Moving Castle. That always makes writing a review that much harder.

The light fairytale’ish feeling permeates the entire book and not at any time did I feel that things weren’t going to work out for Abullah, even if we come to realize that things might not work out exactly how he planned or wants. When I reviewed Castle in the Air in ’08, I ended it with the words “Light and Delightful”. Both still definitely apply in the best sense of the words.

This isn’t exactly a sequel to Howl though. More of another book set in the same world where some of the same characters from the previous book intrude. Just to make things complicated though, Howl’s Moving Castle was made into an anime movie by Hayao Miyazaki. Beautiful film that is more “inspired” by the book than a direct medium change. The complicated part comes because Miyazaki had previously made a movie called Castle in the Sky. It has nothing to do with this book however. What’s more, this book was written in 1990 while the anime movie Castle in the Sky was made in 1996. Howl the book was written in 1986 while Howl the movie was made in 2004. Confused yet? Good. You’re just a schmuck if that confuses you. But even if it does confuse you and makes you a schmuck, at least now you’re a better educated schmuck about something that nobody really cares about. And if that doesn’t stand for everything that the internet represents, well then, I guess I’M a schmuck.

(no schmucks were harmed (very much) in the writing of this review)

★★★★★

Howl’s Moving Castle (World of Howl #1) ★★★★★

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: Howl’s Moving Castle
Series: World of Howl #1
Author: Diana Jones
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Pages: 206
Words: 76K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

18-year-old Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters living in Market Chipping, a town in the magical kingdom of Ingary, where fairytale tropes are accepted ways of life, including that the eldest of three will never be successful. As the eldest, Sophie is resigned to a dull future running the family hat shop. Unknown to her, she is able to talk life into objects. Things change however when the powerful Witch of the Waste turns her into an old crone. Sophie leaves the shop and finds work as a cleaning lady for the notorious Wizard Howl. She strikes a bargain with Howl’s fire-demon, Calcifer: if she can break the contract between Howl and Calcifer, then Calcifer will return her to her original youthful form. Part of the contract, however, stipulates that neither Howl nor Calcifer can disclose the main clause, leaving Sophie to figure it out on her own.

Sophie learns that Howl, a rather self-absorbed and fickle but ultimately good-natured person, spreads malicious rumours about himself to avoid work and responsibility. The door to his castle is actually a portal that opens onto four places: Market Chipping, the seaside city of Porthaven, the royal capital of Kingsbury and Howl’s boyhood home in Wales, where he was named Howell Jenkins. Howl’s apprentice Michael Fisher runs most of the day-to-day affairs of Howl’s business, while Howl chases his ever-changing paramours.

When Prince Justin, the King’s younger brother, goes missing while searching for Wizard Suliman, the King orders Howl to find them both and kill the Witch of the Waste. Howl, however, has his own reasons to avoid the Witch; the Witch, a jilted former lover, has laid a dark curse on him. He successfully continues to avoid her until she lures Sophie into a trap. Believing the Witch has taken Howl’s current love interest, Miss Angorian, Sophie goes to save her and is captured by the Witch. Howl spends hours in the bathroom everyday primping himself to look handsome for girls; Michael had said that the day he does not do this is the day Michael will believe that Howl is truly in love. So when Howl comes to save Sophie, unshaven and a mess, it demonstrates his love for her. He kills the Witch and reveals that Miss Angorian was actually the Witch’s fire demon in disguise; the fire demon had taken control of the Witch and was attempting to create a “perfect human” by fusing Wizard Suliman and Prince Justin. It was to be completed by the addition of Howl’s head.

At the castle, Miss Angorian takes hold of Calcifer to capture Howl’s heart. Howl had given his heart to Calcifer. This was the contract between them; the heart kept Calcifer alive, and in return Calcifer put his magic at Howl’s disposal. Sophie uses her ability of bringing things to life to free Calcifer, thus breaking the contract between him and Howl. With his heart restored, Howl destroys the witch’s fire demon, freeing Suliman and Justin. Calcifer, as promised, breaks Sophie’s spell and she returns to her proper age. Howl had realized early on that Sophie was under a spell and secretly attempted to remove the curse; when he had met with failure, he’d figured Sophie simply enjoyed “being in disguise”.

Calcifer returns, preferring to stay with Howl. Sophie and Howl admit they love each other when Howl suggests they live happily ever after.

My Thoughts:

When I read Howl’s Moving Castle back in ’08, I only gave it 3 stars. I had enjoyed it, but wanted something a bit “more”. This time around, the light fluffiness hit the exact spot and this rocketed up to a favorable 5 stars. Which means that this is definitely a mood book and depending on how I’m feeling while reading it is going to affect how I rate it. So that might happen to others as well.

But my goodness, this was just delightful. As Mrs B might say on occasion “totes adorb”. This is definitely middle grade edging into ya territory but not once did I feel that Jones was dumbing things down or simplifying. I think is a story that a 5th grader could enjoy as much as a 40 year old (or older).

Part of it is that Sophie is a completely solid, dependable young woman but who has her blindspot. It was so interesting to see how she would be blind sided by something and I could relate exactly. The other part is that Jones introduces a lot of side characters but I was not confused about who was who or who was what at any point. Every single character was them and they slotted into the story perfectly and stuck in my head. That is how characters should be!

Delightfully light, thoroughly satisfying, wondrously fun; that about sums up my experience this time around while reading this book. I had so much fun that I’m going to be breaking my own rule and reading the next 2 books in the Howl’s World series much closer together (weeks instead of months). I hope I’m not making a mistake!

Ps, this is the first post where I’m experimenting with using google drive to host the cover pix. I have to use a stupid “iframe” and can’t get the info block of text to align around it. If you know how to do that or if anything comes up wonky or if there anything you think I should be aware of, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Thanks!

★★★★★

The Hobbit (The Lord of the Rings Prequel) ★★★★★

hobbit (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 Hobbit
Series: The Lord of the Rings Prequel
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 235
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit. Who ends up with a wizard and 13 dwarves for dinner. And somehow gets finagled into going on an adventure to recover the dwarves lost treasure, that is guarded by the dragon Smaug.

Along the way Bilbo meets elves, runs away from goblins, plays a riddle game in the dark with Gollum for his life, finds a ring of invisibility, flies on eagles’ wings, fights giant spiders and is almost eaten by 3 trolls.

Eventually he and the dwarves reach the Lonely Mountain and Laketown. They rouse the dragon and Bard of Laketown kills Smaug and then elves, humans and dwarves prepare to fight over the treasure. Until a huge goblin army shows up and everybody fights them. The good guys win, the treasure is shared and Bilbo returns home a better, wiser and more eccentric hobbit than ever.

 

My Thoughts:

What a book. I’ve read this enough times that nothing is a surprise. And yet… I am still in awe at how Tolkien weaves such a children’s tale so as to keep me intrigued, for the umpteenth time.

What do I say? A simple tale of adventure that is the prequel to one of the worlds most renowned fantasy series? A tale of bravery, generosity and kindness overcoming perils, greed and hatred? A stout heart being greater than a dragon? I just don’t know what to say beyond the fact that I enjoyed the heck out of this just like I have all the previous times and I don’t have any issues with it.

Well, except maybe all the singing. I wouldn’t have minded if there hadn’t been any singing. In regards to the singing though, the only thing I can say positively about the horrific movie trilogy is that the song by the dwarves in Bilbo’s house is absolutely haunting and enchanting. Who knows how long this link will exist, but here’s a youtube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ymgFyzbDo

If only the Silmarillion had been this interesting. Well, at least I’ve got the rest of the Trilogy to look forward too!

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

To Kill a Mockingbird ★★★★★

tokillamockingbird (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: To Kill a Mockingbird
Series: ———-
Author: Harper Lee
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Jem and Scout Finch are growing up. Scout has to go to school and while she’s learned to argue with her lawyer father Atticus, some times Dad just puts his foot down. Scout makes friends with a boy her own age named Dill who comes to live with his aunt each summer. Dill wants to see Boo Radley, a mysterious recluse who lives next door to the Finch’s.

Atticus takes on a case where a black man is accused of raping a white woman. Atticus is afraid of how it is going to affect both Jem and Scout as gossip mongers in town are now calling Atticus a nigger lover and that attitude trickles down to the children. Atticus make hash of the prosecutors case but the jury isn’t swayed and convict the man to death. While in prison awaiting appeal he tries to escape (his right arm is withered and of no use) and is gunned down by the guards. The father of the woman making the accusations realizes how Atticus destroyed his story and vows revenge on him even though he won the case.

Jem and Scout are returning home one night from the Halloween party at school when they are attacked by an unknown assailant. Jem’s arm is broken and he’s knocked on the head. The assailant begins to try to choke Scout to death but due to her costume (a ham made from chicken wire and paper mache) is foiled. The assailant is in turn assailed by a mysterious rescuer and this person takes an unconscious Jem home. Turns out the assailant was the father who swore vengeance on Atticus. The rescuer? Boo Radley, a sickly albino.

The book ends with the Sheriff telling Atticus that the vengeance swearer fell on his own knife and that nobody, especially not Boo Radley, stabbed him to protect the children.

 

My Thoughts:

My goodness. What a great book. A story told by an adult remembering everything through the eyes of a 7-9 year old girl.

While everyone always focuses on the case with the black man and that Boo Radley is real and saves Scout, to Scout, who is telling the story, they aren’t any more important than the day at school when the teacher smacked her hand because she explained how some of the kids thought. This is a book about growing up and not realizing it until years later.

I don’t know exactly what to say here. I am glad that books like this are still read in schools. Maybe being older has given me an appreciation for just what Lee did here? I found the idea of “Scout” telling the story to be perfect. The occasional interjections by her as her older self simply brought out what she missed as a child. At the same time, I never felt hit over the head by Lee writing ham-handedly or TRYING to “make a point”. She makes her points very casually and lets it be up to the reader just how much they actually want to “get”.

I know I saw the movie several times during middleschool and highschool but I can’t remember if I ever actually read this before. I am glad I did read this now and I look forward to a re-read in 10’ish years.

This is a well written, engaging book that you can read for pure enjoyment if you so desire or you can read it as a classic tale of growing up in the South or you can read it as an activist and use it to bash people over the head with your SJW ideals. In this regards Lee is like a firearms manufacturer. She lets you, the user, decide just how to use this book.

As it should be.

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Darkside War (Icarus Corps #1) ★★☆☆½

darksidewar (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 Darkside War
Series: Icarus Corps #1
Author: Zachary Brown
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA SF
Pages: 241
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The aliens have conquered us. They destroyed Washington, DC, made examples of other capitals of the world and now occupy Earth. And they are the good aliens.

Devlin’s parents are the leaders of the Protest Movement. After millions died in violent protest, it was thought that only non-violent protesting was the way to go. Unfortunately for humanity, “protesting” is a 4 letter word for the aliens. Devlin is caught in a sweep and unless he joins the aliens new hybrid armed forces, his parents will be executed on world wide television.

Devlin goes to military academy on the darkside of the moon. The bad aliens make a sneak attack and it is up to the recruits to get a message to Earth to warn them. They succeed but find out that there are what appear to be humans working for the bad aliens and that the bad aliens have blockaded Earth’s system and we’re on our own.

The book ends with Humanity swinging into a full time war footing alongside the good aliens instead of under their boot.

 

My Thoughts:

This was everything I was afraid Red Rising was going to be. (RR turned into a good, fun book thankfully). Imagine that the Millennials now run the world and aliens invade.

I just kept shaking my head in disgust at what was being written. This was deliberately Young Adult (but with a boatload of profanity) in tone but even still, the whole mindset of the characters were so “today” that it hurt. I was thinking, Robert Heinlein wrote a lot of juvenile books with young protaganists but they were still competent human beings. These kids in this book? Bunch of special snowflakes. I mean, the main character punches a girl while wearing power armor because she steps between him and another guy who hate each other. I don’t care what anyone says, unless your life is in danger, you don’t hit women, period. A man is so much physically stronger and as such needs to keep himself under control. The profanity level is also another indicator of just how out of control these characters are. If you as an author are going to write simplified SF, then that type of language has no place in it. These weren’t military recruits swearing because that was the mythos but because they were selfish, stupid kids who couldn’t control themselves for 1 minute.

Then the whole “Peaceful Protest” thing. This assumes that the people/aliens you are protesting against actually care about what you think. Once again, it is a completely modern YA idea that everybody cares about ME because I’m so special, blah, blah, blah. I realize that Earth was completely bent over by the aliens and that millions died in the occupation, but my goodness, where is the Underground military? You’d think they’d have their young people infiltrate the alien/human army and learn about the aliens and their weaponry, etc. But nooooooooo.

The final issue I had was how much Devlin simply “changes”. He’s a spoiled kid at the beginning and now is some sort of leader in the new army at the end. He goes through a LOT during the bad aliens attack and in warning the Earth has chances to really grow up, but it wasn’t written in such a way that I believed he did grow up.

The idea for this book is great. Even when I was done reading, I was really tempted to keep on going with the series. ( Reading Over The Shoulder reviewed this last year but never reviewed the later books. Considering they haven’t posted since September, I’m also wondering if they’re just done with blogging.) After writing the above though, I realized this is a book that simply contains too many things that rub me the wrong way.

Not recommended and I won’t be reading any more by “Zachary Brown”, whoever that cowardly piece of excrement is. If you’re going to use a fake name, don’t bloody advertise that you’re using a fake name and that you’re actually a really good writer with awards under your belt. Especially if you’re going to write such a sub-par piece of simplified puff.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) ☆☆☆☆½ DNF@22%

ghostlyechoes (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: Ghostly Echoes
Series: Jackaby #3
Author: William Ritter
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 353/DNF@22%
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

[Miss Rook] “Miss Lee was really a boy, wasn’t she? Underneath”

He slowed and then came to a stop and looked me square in the eyes, “That’s up to her to decide,”

~page 56

 

Yep, I’m done with this author now. Ritter’s going to push the SJW line about gender and cross dressing down my throat, forget it. As much as I enjoyed the previous 2 books, no amount of enjoyment is worth listening to lies for.

By the by, cross dressing is a moral deviancy that indicates some real brokenness inside. It isn’t normal and it shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s an indicator and Christian professional help should be sought. Just like you wouldn’t tell a man with a broken leg that he’s ok. Even if you can’t fix it, you can tell him to go to a doctors. But denying that there is anything wrong is the height of foolishness.

Man, this is NOT the way I wanted to start out a new month…

☆☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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)

 

 

Jackaby (Jackaby #1) ★★★☆½

jackaby (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:
Jackaby
Series: Jackaby #1
Author: William Ritter
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover

 

Synopsis:

Miss Abigail Rook has found herself in New Fiddleham, after running away from her college and absconding with the tuition put forth by her parents. Wanting adventure, yet afraid of her parents censure, Abigail took a “tour” of Europe. Which was mostly digging uselessly through mud looking for dinosaur bones.

Now in America, Abigail is looking for work that will support her until she can figure out how to have a proper adventure. She comes across an advertisement as an Assistant and this in turn leads her to Mr. R.F. Jackaby, investigator of the unknown. Jackaby is eccentric at best and with his unusual hat and long trailing scarf AND his ability to see supernatural entities, wasn’t quite what Abigail was looking for.

Sucked in to an ongoing murder investigation, Abigail becomes Jackaby’s new assistant. More murders occur and in the end Abigail and Jackaby and Jack Cane face off against a Red Hat fairy, whose mundane existence comes as a surprise to them all.

Jack is revealed to be a shapeshifter and saves Abigail’s life. This leads to him being dismissed from the force at New Fiddleham but he ends up in another small town and continues communicating with Abigail. The fairy has the kabosh put on it, Jackaby solves the case and the police inspector involved is promoted to Chief until a new one can be voted in.

 

My Thoughts:

Rec’ed by Simply a Book Drunkard.

This was in the young adult section of my library and after my conversation with Milou on her review I knew this was YA. Thankfully, none of the tropes that make most YA books so abhorrent to me were present in this and I do plan on reading the next 3 to finish the series.

Jackaby is eccentric at best and would be infuriating as a character if he was the main focus. Thankfully, we as readers get him filtered through Abigail and makes him mostly eccentric. With his funny hat and scarf, the mental picture I have of him is Dr Who when played by Tom Baker.

tombaker

Doctor Who? Doctor Jackaby you jackass!

I enjoyed this book, as it rolled along and Abigail is very good narrator. The hint of romance between her and Jack Cane was masterfully done and walked the line of not being obnoxious and not existing. I liked it. It is made clear from the get-go that Abigail and Jackaby are not an item, so no triangle. Jackaby hints at a mysteriously sad instance of love lost of his own, so I figure we’ll see more of that storyline resolved.

I enjoyed this a lot and it was on track to be a solid 4star read before I read one small thing that knocked it down half a star.

“Saint George’s legend tells of the dangers of mythical creatures, and the value of man asserting dominance over them. Manu’s tale, quite conversely, stresses the value of mercy, coexistence, and peaceful symbiosis.”

– Jackaby to Abigal Rook

Coexistence. That is one of those words that is a loaded phrase nowadays and displays such an astonishing amount of ignorance of all the various religions of the world. It is condescending in tone, with the implications that what you may believe doesn’t really matter as long as you get along (however that is defined, and seems to differ from person to person). This is an obvious sore spot for me and won’t make an impression on most other readers.

Overall, I was very pleased with my read of this book. It was short, told an engaging story, didn’t wallow in hormones or sentimentality and gave me a couple hrs of enjoyment. It also helps that the series is finished so I know I can go through all 4 books and then be done.

★★★☆½

bookstooge

 

 

A Murder of Mages (Maradaine Constabulary #1) ★★★☆☆

murderofmages (Custom).jpgThis 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: A Murder of Mages
Series: Maradaine Constabulary #1
Author: Marshall Maresca
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 341
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Satrine Rainey, former Intelligence Officer, wife of a former Maradaine Constable and mother of two, must forge her way into the Constabulary as an Inspector Third Class so as to provide for her family. Her husband, hurt on duty, is now a human vegetable and his superiors have hung him out to dry, financially speaking. Satrine successfully gets the job. She is paired up with Minox Welling, an uncircled mage who uses rather unorthodox investigative methods. Minox’s nickname is Jinx, as he has already lost 3 partners.

They begin by investigating the murder of a mage who had his heart cut out. More murders follow, apparently without much rhyme or reason beyond them being of mages. At the same time Satrine has to worry about her deception being found out and kicked off the force.

Her deception is found out when her daughter gets involved with a college student and Satrine puts a very public stop to the relationship. The boy retaliates by telling his daddy who knows the Commisioner, whose seal Satrine forged to get her the job. It all comes crashing down and she is off the force and having to seriously think about being a prostitute to support her family.

Then she figures out what is going with the murders, discovers that her former partner is next on the list and sets out to rescue him even while not officially being on the force. She has the help of 2 other Constables and ends up saving Minox, getting reinstated in the Constabulary and bringing the murderer to justice.

There is another storyline involving Minox and another uncircled mage, but it is very much setup for future books and doesn’t impact this one very much.

 

My Thoughts:

After my mis-adventure with the stupidity of the first Maradaine book, I came into this with extremely low expectations. It is a good thing I did.

Thankfully, none of the characters were complete idiots like the guy in the other book. However, everything, from characterers to plot to motivations, were still very simplistic. There are times I want a simple book, especially after reading one of the Malazan tomes, but there is a difference between simple and simplistic.

I was not impressed with this book at all, but I also didn’t feel like throwing it out the window. That’s about the only praise you’ll get out of me for this. I’m done with Maresca and will leave him to those who enjoy his writing. I am not one of those people.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge