Review: Jackaby

20312462Author: William Ritter

Age: 12 and up

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Released: 2014

Click here to read summary from Amazon.

Jackaby does have a sequel I can’t wait to read called Beastly Bones.

It was the last phrase of the summary that grabbed my attention.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in a debut novel, the first in a series, brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock??? Yes please!! I loved seeing how the author combined these two ideas in old world America. It pulled from old tales such as screaming banshees and fairies too.

Characters:

Some of the British fans may be disappointed when they just read “old world America”, which is where our story takes place. Hold on British fans, the “companion” is a spunky British girl…Abigail Rook is very Clara Oswald-ish!

One of my favorite secondary characters in this novel, is the resident ghost of Jackaby’s eccentric home. She added a lot of wit and charm to the novel.

Plot:

The story line itself has a somewhat predictable villain, but overall very enjoyable. I loved seeing how Sherlock and Dr. Who quirks were combined to make a delightful read. I feel like adding the fantasy creatures made it different enough from the two TV shows to keep it interesting.

There is some slight romance between Abigail Rook and an understanding detective from the police force. I hope to see this play out in the sequel!

Content Advisory:

Language: 2 Not a lot in this book that I remember.

Sexual: 1 I don’t remember if there was a kiss, but there was a crush going on!

Violence: 3 Good guys fight bad guys!

*Our reviews do contain affiliate links, meaning we could make a very small commission should you buy something using one of those links.

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Review: Dream A Little Dream

dream a little dream review by Kerstin Gier

Author: Kerstin Gier

Age: Young Adult

Genre: Supernatural, Romance

Click here to read summary from Goodreads.

First off, a big thank you to Macmillan for this ARC! Release day for this book is January 6, 2014.

What first drew me to this book was the cover. I thought it was so pretty with that bright purple door and the bubbles and butterflies. It looked so dreamy, which I’m pretty sure was the point.

Then, I saw the name of the author. Kerstin Gier! I LOVED her Ruby Red trilogy, and wanted to give Dream A Little Dream a try. I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t live up to my expectations, and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did Ruby Red.

Things I liked:

  • Olivia’s family. I loved the relationship between Olivia and her sister and their Nanny. So adorable!
  • Swoonworthy boys. Yes, plural, because there were lots of them!
  • The idea of being able to enter other people’s dreams. Sure, things can go terribly bad because of this, but it’s a really cool concept. It’s amazing what you can learn about someone if you visit their dreams.

Things I didn’t like:

  • Creepy stuffs. I knew going in that there was a possibility of some questionable content, but I hoped that a more reasonable explanation would be provided. Basically, (this is a little spoiler-y, but not too much) they end up making a deal with the devil to make their wildest dreams come true. I hoped that maybe there was some misunderstanding and there would be some other explanation for what was going on, but nope. That’s totally what happened, which is quite creepy.
  • Too much talk of sex and virgins. How have I not gone on a ranty post about sex in YA yet? Because I want to really bad. So yeah, that’s definitely a negative point.

The ultimatum:
3.5 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the characters and the dream sequences, but there was some iffy stuff that I didn’t like.

You can download the first five chapters for free if you’re interested.

Content Advisory:
Language: 3.5
Uses of h, s, d, and a scattered throughout.
Sexual: 3
Some innuendos; talk about virgins and sex
Other: 
Characters drinking at a party; some scary elements

>>>Kerstin Gier is also the author of the Ruby Red trilogy, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Read our review of Ruby Red HERE.

>>>Buy this book HERE {disclaimer: This is an affiliate link, meaning we could make a small (like really really small) commission should you choose to make a purchase.}

Review: Etiquette & Espionage

etiquette and espionageAuthor: Gail Carriger

Age: Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction, Spy, Supernatural

Click here to view synopsis from Goodreads.

Carriger does an excellent job at building a fascinating world that is a mix between the Victorian era with some more advanced technology. Not only is her world-building fantastic, but so is her writing style. I take notes as I read, marking down my favorite lines, and I had a lot for this one, so I simply must include a few of my favorite quotes, which fellow Gallagher Girls (and non-Gallagher Girls, of course) will appreciate and enjoy:

“If we have time, I will move us on how to properly judge a gentleman by the color and knot of his cravat. Believe you me, ladies, the two subjects are far more intimately entangled than you might first suppose.”

“Perhaps, Miss Pelouse, as you know everything so well, you would like to demonstrate fainting in a crowded ballroom in a manner that might attract only the attention of a specific gentleman? Without wrinkling your dress.”

“It’s no good choosing your first husband from a school for evil geniuses. Much too difficult to kill.”

This book didn’t exactly keep me on the edge of my seat, but that’s not a bad thing. I wasn’t rushing to read it to find out what happens next, but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of getting to know Sophronia and explore Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. The school is such a fascinating thing in and of itself, with lots of interesting teachers and staff and rooms (which Sophronia finds herself in even during non-class hours). Mademoiselle Geraldine’s truly has character, with teachers who care equally about one’s ability to perfect a curtsy as they do one’s knowledge of poisons. It is a finishing school in every sense—of girls, of lives.

There were a lot of lovely characters, but I sometimes had trouble telling them apart, because I kept forgetting their names. (They tend to have really strange names, like Mrs. Barnaclegoose, but they aren’t regarded as strange in this world.) However, the little team that Sophronia winds up with with is an entertaining bunch who find themselves in some very interesting situations. Entertainment abounds. There is also a very classy werewolf who fastens his top hat to his head so when he morphs into his wolf form, he is still impeccably dressed. (Something to note: If he is not extremely well-dressed, he is not a werewolf.)

One thing I liked very much about this book was its lack of romance. Now don’t get me wrong—I love a good romance, but it was quite refreshing to read a book that focused more on friendship. Though there isn’t a romantic relationship, the book is set up so that there could possibly be one in future books. I would very much like to see how that plays out.

Etiquette and Espionage gets five out of five stars! I will absolutely be reading Curtsies and Conspiracies.

I’d recommend this book to fans of The Gallagher Girls and spy books in general and also to those who enjoy historical fiction with a twist.

Content Advisory: None! This book is a clean read!

Review: Sidekicked

Sidekicked coverAuthor: John David Anderson

Age: Middle Grade

Genre: Supernatural

What does a good Super need? besides a cape… that’s a given. A SIDEKICK!!
And how does it feel to be hunted by the nations most notorious, and recently jail-broken band of villains?
Does the Code say anything about certain situations when it’s ok to scream like a ninny?
What can happen if you only have a minute?

Continuing in our theme of Heroes and Villains, here is a book about just those very things. Well sort of. It’s about a lot of things. The main character is a middle school guy, very average, nothing special. Except for that part where he almost dies, several times, and goes to a party and *insert spoiler*, and then when he finds out his best friend *insert spoiler*… It’s a bit of a roller coaster. Drew has two lives. One that his parents know about, a normal kid who is part of H.E.R.O., a community cleanup group.  And then there is the one as part of H.E.R.O., a training program for especially talented young folks as superhero sidekicks, led by a time-stopping teacher in a sweater vest. Drew is assigned to apprentice under The Titan, once the greatest, the leader of the Legion of Justice, but has withdrawn into the dark corner of a bar and is not up for saving anybody. Through the course of the book, Drew, or his alter-ego, The Sensationalist, must maneuver the tricks of growing up, knowing your friends, learning who to trust, and saving a Super.

Reading this book was a real delight.  To mirror Larry Tye in his review in The NY Times, “I was totally lost by Page 2 of the preface “.   Every page turn was driven by the action and suspense, and accented by pure middle-school wit.  One phrase I particularly enjoyed described a character’s arms being crossed in a “pretzel of triumph” while creating a scene that made me despise said character.   While reading this I could see it unfolding as a graphic novel, with boomerangs flying and people melting through walls, swords wooshing and things exploding!!!   It was great! I loved the POV being from an age we don’t usually hear from, it was very convincing, and refreshing really.   I loved the acts of relative bravery, and watching Drew find his, for lack of a better word, inner “umph”.   Not to mention the guy is funny as all get out, I would want to be friends with that guy!   The plot has just enough twists to keep the reader intrigued, with a smart balance of “normal” issues and “super” issues, and great moments when the lines get a little fuzzy and you realize that the two aren’t that different.   Except for the ‘people are trying to kill me’ part, of course…

Another thing to note is how truly well-crafted both the Heroes and Villains are.  Anderson shows an apparent knowledge of comic history and craft, which added to his story skills, creates a book that can be enjoyed by super-fans and the hardly comic-conscious alike, of any age.  Again referencing Tye’s review, “Anderson…knows Superman and the other golden-age comic book heroes well enough to understand when to pay homage and when to modernize or even parody.”  While it is full of moments that made me grin like an idiot or laugh randomly, Anderson also bring up issues like the paradigm of “good”, and the balance of power and responsibility.

Aside from 2 typos and one unnecessary word, Sidekicked is just Super! 😉

Content Advisory:
Language: 2 (one use of the d word)