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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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

 

 

The Thorn of Dentonhill (Maradaine #1) ★★☆☆☆

thornofdentonhill (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 Thorn of Dentonhill
Series: Maradaine #1
Author: Marshall Maresca
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Veranix Calbert is the son of a former gang leader. His father fled the city but when it was discovered that “Veranix” had magical talent, the family returned for just a couple of days to drop the boy off at an academy under his now assumed name. Another gang leader, Willem Fenmere, used those days to kill the father and brain burn the mother with an illegal drug.

Now a young mage, Veranix spends his nights taking out two bit hoods who sell the drug and giving any of their money to local charities. By day he has to be a student full time. In the process of spoiling what he thinks is a huge drug deal, Veranix comes into possession of a magical cape and rope. Using these items, his war against Fenmere escalates, to the point where Fenmere hires professional assassins to kill The Thorn.

It leads to his professor and a young woman who has been helping him all along being kidnapped by some mages who hired Fenmere to import the cape and rope. With the help of his friend and a cousin in a gang and some just plain dumb luck, Veranix rescues everybody, keeps his identity a secret and prevents one of the bad mages from gaining some super serious magic stuff.

Then its back to school and business as usual.

 

My Thoughts:

I went into this book, and series, with a really bad attitude towards the author. He’s currently writing 3!!!!! Maradaine related series, which wasn’t real bad, but I’d prefer he writes one series then the next. But what crossed the line was when he intersected two of the series, making it imperative to have read book 1 and 2 of one series and book 1 or 2 of the second series to understand the 3rd book in series one. That pissed me off. So that was my starting point.

I had heard lots of good things though, so I figured I needed to give this guy a chance.

Right off the bat, it’s Young Adult. Then the main character Veranix acts like every stupid teenage male you could imagine. He’s going after dealers and stealing their take each week? While completely ignoring going after Fenmere? Then, from a student perspective, he’s talented, very talented and coasts on that and is one lazy son of a gun instead of working hard. Then when he does go out at night, he does NO planning, no tactics, no strategies, just shoot, hit and run and kind of counts on his natural abilities and acrobat training to get him through. He’s a phracking idiot is what he is.

There were 4 distinct places where I almost DNF’d this. I hate stupid characters and Veranix was deliberately written as an angry, rash, stupid young man. Everybody else covers for him and instead of growing up and learning and becoming better, he’s just clueless about their sacrifices on his behalf. I became an angry middle aged man reading about this chowderhead!

The story was good though and that is why this got even 2 stars. It is also the reason I’m giving Maresca one more book to turn things around. But if the characters in the next book act just as stupidly, I’ll be coming down like a ton of bricks on that and abandon this author like a pile of donkey diarhea.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge

 

Revenger ★★☆☆ ½

revenger (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: Revenger
Series: ——
Author: Alistair Reynolds
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA-SF
Pages: 411
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Adrana and Fura Ness run away from home and join the crew of a spaceship that looks for treasures from older civilizations. They are “Bone Readers”, which allows them to communicate with other Bone Readers on other ships. They’re first mission sees them attacked by the Dread Pirate Bosa Sennen (make sure you said that part like Andre the Giant does in The Princess Bride) and Adrana is captured, Ness hides in the walls of the ship and one other of the crew, Porzor, survives. Fura and Porzor are rescued and Fura, who is under age, is taken back to her ailing father.

Back home Fura is given drugs to keep her docile and fed the story that her sister is dead, not alive and captured. Fura resists, hooks back up with Porzor on another ships and plans how to rescue Adrana and get her revenge on Bosa Sennen.

*Spoiler*

Fura tricks the crew to get some special armor, makes them a target for Bosa Sennen, kills all the crew on Bosa Sennen’s ship and takes it over. She rescues her sister Adrana, who now believes in the cause that Bosa Sennen was fighting for, and Fura pretty much becomes Bosa Sennen in all but name.

/End Spoiler of Everything

 

My Thoughts:

This was not my first book by Reynolds and for that I am intensely grateful. I read Beyond the Aquila Rift just last year in fact. What a great book. So I KNOW at what level Reynolds can write.

Unfortunately, this was deliberately written to be sold in the YA genre and it shows. I’d actually recommend this to a 12-14 year old and once they’d gotten used to Reynold’s name, introduce them to his other stuff when they hit the mid to late teens.

My biggest issue. The slang words used. I am going to just list the ones that I can remember:

  1. Glowy
  2. the grey
  3. the squawky
  4. the Swirly
  5. gubbins
  6. the viewy
  7. lungstuff

There were more,but those stuck out the most. A mature society doesn’t talk like that. A closed, insular society would but that disappears when homogenization takes place. Only teens talk like that, making ordinary things just a little bit different to make it their own. Needless to say, every time I read the word “lungstuff” I was completely thrown out of the book.

My other issue is Fura Ness. She goes from being a naive, tender young thing to a complete bad ass who glows and has a metal hand but she can’t think for crap. She has no plan, she has no tactical training, no fighting training, nothing in fact but the Righteous Anger of her Cause. She is presented as someone as tough as Bosa Sennen by the end of the book, but there is nothing to back that up. Being hard emotionally and having some real anger issues aren’t going to actually do you squat when facing trained professionals. But this being a YA book, it IS enough.

For a review by someone who has read more Reynolds than me [admittedly, not a hard goal to reach], please check out Manuel’s review of Revenger.

Now that I have read this, I’m spurred on to track down Reynolds’ other books so at least this book has that one good point.

★★☆☆ ½

 

bookstooge

 

The Wrath of the Great Guilds (Pillars of Reality #6)

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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: Wrath of the Great Guilds
Series: Pillars of Reality #6
Author: Jack Campbell
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 280
Format: Digital edition

 

Synopsis: Spoilers!!

Mari and Alain must face the combined might of both Great Guilds and the Empire in an attempt to stave off the Storm of Destruction prophecied.

Dividing her army in parts, Mari sends the majority of it to another city and only takes a small force, but many great arms, with her to Dorcastle. There, she and Alain inspire the troops, unite the factions and fight off dragons and gatebuster bombs.

Dorcastle has 7 walls. Mari’s forces are pushed back to the final wall and are about to lose even that when the other army she had separated out arrives to rescue them, turn the tide and allow the Daughter of Jules a complete and utter victory.

Now Mari can allow her world to develop technologically and the first thing they do is use the world far speaker they found in an earlier book. And someone answers back.

 

My Thoughts:

Almost all of this book was the battle scene at Dorcastle. Close to 60% is my guess. It was great. Much like Minas Tirath’s 7 walls, Dorcastle provides plenty of room for lots of action. Mages and their dragons, Mechanics and their bombs, the Empire and their numberless cohorts, all fodder for the advanced weaponry Mari brings with her. It also showcases how she utilizes Mechanics, Mages and Commons, with all their various strengths and weaknesses. Alain’s vision of Mari is constantly at the forefront of his mind and Campbell never lets the reader forget it.

This is definitely young adult but I did appreciate the fact that Alain and Mari were married a book or two ago. The romance was there, but it wasn’t angsty, unsure love. It was growing, committed love that wasn’t based just on their feelings.

There were only 2 things I didn’t care for and I knocked off a 1/2star for each.

First, Campbell loves big, powerful, DUMB villains. Much like in his Lost Fleet series, where the 2 “official” sides do the same thing over and over and the main character Jack “Black” Geary, takes advantage, here we have the Heads of both the Mage’s Guild and the Mechanic’s Guild doing the same thing in the big battle that has NOT worked before against Mari and Alain. It just made the Guild leaders seem incredibly inept and stupid and you wonder how someone so dense got to the place of authority that they are in. Of course, it might have something to do with Campbell being a retired navy officer and perhaps reflects his actual experience with higher echelon officers. Pure speculation on my part though.

Second, no character development. It has taken me over 25 books of Campbell/Hemry to realize this (Lost Fleet, Lost Fleet:Beyond the Frontier, Lost Stars, JAG in Space, Stark’s War) so it kind of came as a shock to really realize that he can’t write growing characters beyond a certain point. It is the kind of writer he is and he needs to write accordingly. And now that I know this, I will also adjust my expectations accordingly.

Now I know I’ve highlighted the negatives mostly. But obviously, I’ve stuck with this 6 book series until the end and given the final book 4 stars. That does say a lot without me having to write a lot. Nothing in this book is going to make you feel that you wasted your time or overturn all the good in the previous books. This is a good solid book to end a good solid YA series.

star40full-custom

 

 

bookstooge

  1. Review of Book 1

  2. Review of Book 2

  3. Review of Book 3

  4. Review of Book 4

  5. Review of Book 5

Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1)

2d77a25d2c7a57ff6b95425cbd83f923

 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