Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3)Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery
Content: Clean

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly landlord of 826 Augur Lane, has enlisted the services of her detective-agency tenants to solve a decade-old murder--her own.

After reading the first two books in this series and finding them delightful, sadly I found Ghostly Echoes to be a disappointment. I'm not sure what happened but the charm and humor from the other two books was greatly missing in this one. Maybe it was that this one is darker than the others and that didn't leave room for humor. Whatever the reason, it was just a rather dull read that I found hard to get through. To top it off the author decided to add in a modern day social issue that was out of place. I would rather the soapboxing be left out next time.

I did like that we learn more about Jackaby's background in the book, but I can't say I would really recommend reading this one other than to just get through the rest of the series. There is still one more book in the series and after feeling so disappointed in this one, I'm not sure if I'm going to read it or not.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Beastly Bones (Jackaby, #2)Beastly Bones by William Ritter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery
Content: One curse word that I noticed, other than that clean.

I've found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I've known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality . . .

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural.

Why did I wait so long to continue with this series? I forgot how much I enjoyed Jackaby. This time around Jackaby and Abigail deal with some mysterious deaths and some mysterious bones that have been unearthed out in the country. I still love Jackaby and the book made me laugh quite a few times. Jackaby in personality is sort of like Sherlock, but there is some Dirk Gently thrown in there as well.

When I read the first book I thought of a Sherlock and Doctor Who mashup, but I think Dirk Gently is a better example. There are some seriously crazy and off the wall things that happen in these books. Not Dirk Gently crazy, but still there is that element there. In fact the whole opening part of this book reminded me a lot of something from the first season of Dirk Gently, but that's all I'm going to say. I don't want to spoil anything.

Overall this is a fun book and a fun series so far. It is a rather short book at 296 pages but I think it is just the right length for the story, and the perfect length for me to continue on to the next book in the series right away, without feeling like I need a break from the characters first.

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Girl in DisguiseGirl in Disguise by Greer Macallister

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Content: a mild sex scene

For the first female Pinkerton detective, respect is hard to come by. Danger, however, is not.

In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin-unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation.

When I picked up Girl in Disguise I was expecting a mystery novel, but this turned out to be more solidly in the historical fiction category. I also wasn't aware that it was about a real person. Kate Warne really was the first female Pinkerton detective and very little is actually really known about her, besides a few of the cases she was instrumental in solving. She also played a part in seeing President Elect Abraham Lincoln safely to Washington D.C. for his inauguration when there were threats on his life, and acted as a spy during the war.

The cases that were included in the book were all interesting, but since there isn't a whole lot known about Kate Warne's personal life there was a lot of creative license taken by the author with her story. Of course that was necessary to create a book and this is fiction, but I'll be honest and say that I'm not always crazy about reading made up things about real people, even if we do know very little about them. I wasn't completely on board with the way Kate was portrayed in this book, but there were things I did like about her. Despite that, this book was very readable and at times difficult to put down.

If anything, reading this book made me want to know the real stories behind the Pinkerton agents mentioned in this book. I had to look them up and find out which ones were actually based on real people and how the book diverged from the real stories .

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Diabolic (The Diabolic, #1)The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-fi, Dystopia
Content: Some drug use, sexual predators, a couple of brutal killings

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator's daughter, Sidonia. There's no one Nemesis wouldn't kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

The Diabolic is a Young Adult fantasy/sci-fi with a dystopian aspect to it as well. This is closer to fantasy to me because the sci-fi is very soft with really no explanation behind how any of it works, because much of it wouldn't work. The book is set sometime in the far future out in space. I will say that I think this is for older teens as there are some themes in the book that are too mature for younger ones. There is some drug use and a couple of sexual predators that are dealt with at one point. There is also some killing and brutality in this book.

For the most part I really liked it though. It was very readable and hard to put down. It was interesting to read from Nemesis's point of view as she learns and grows and realizes that she is more than just a diabolic - which is a genetically engineered person created to protect, like a bodyguard, and not really considered a person by society. I enjoyed reading as Nemesis came to the realization that she was, in fact, a person with her own wants and needs. I also enjoyed the romance between Nemesis and the person she ends up falling in love with (I won't spoil who that is here).

The political machinations in the book were interesting but not too complicated. This is where I would have liked to have gotten more than one point of view. It would have made Tyrus's decisions more interesting if we had witnessed his thought processes instead of being told from Nemesis's point of view, but that's the downside of first person narration.

I had a hard time believing in the religious aspect of the book where learning new technology is outlawed. I could see if it was outlawed for the lower class citizens, but with the elites having access to that knowledge. That would have been more believable. It would have kept the masses in check and under the Emperor's thumb, but for the Emperor and the whole upper class to also not have this knowledge, was silly. How would they expect to be able to maintain what they already had? And yes, I know we are told in the book that they think the bots will maintain it, but even bots break down eventually and someone has to know how to fix them. Surely they would know that and wouldn't want to lose what they already had, especially since they are living out in space and depend on that tech. So this part of the story was completely implausible to me.

There were a couple of other things that slightly annoyed me. First, there were some inconsistencies in the story. One example of this is the fact that Nemesis doesn't have tear ducts but there are parts of the story where her eyes blur when she is upset like they are filling with tears or something, and her eyes are crusted over when she wakes up once. That can't happen without tear ducts. Plus can you imagine what it would be like to not have tear ducts? Your eyes would be extremely dry. The other is a spoiler so I won't talk about it here. 

There were a few twists in the book that didn't surprise me at all. I predicted every one of them, but I didn't mind that because I enjoyed reading the book so much. As I said, this book kept me glued to it. The sci-fi and space fantasy aspect was very appealing to me, as well as the slow burn romance, which I didn't feel was too overdone. I always like a little bit of romance in the books I read. So in spite of the negatives I've pointed out, I would still recommend this, because I liked it anyway.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Song Unheard (Shadows Over England, #2)A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult, Christian Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Content: Clean

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which make her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I—to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he's won—until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father's work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is in meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

A Song Unheard is the second book in the Shadows Over England companion series, and I loved this book as much as I loved the first one in the series. We met Willa in the first book and I was happy that she was the main character here. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her and Lukas and seeing their romance develop. Willa's growth as a person was especially wonderful and I love that the author actually had someone write and perform her song that is at the end of the book. Here's a link to the book trailer, which I think was very well done, that features the music: http://bit.ly/ASongUnheardTrailer

This is a Christian historical romance with some intrigue added in with spies during WWI. I liked the historical aspect of the story a lot, and found the author's note at the end of the book really interesting. It turns out that the Davies sisters who are featured in the book were actually real people and they really did put together an orchestra composed of Belgian musicians, among other things. I'm looking forward to reading the third book in the series, and I hope it isn't the last one.

Thanks to NetGalley and Baker Publishing Group for giving me a copy of this book for review.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Stolen Songbird. My review from 2014.

I thought I would get back to adding some of my older reviews to the blog. This book was one that I really loved. I also read the second book in the trilogy. I'll post my review for that one later in the week.

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Content: Steamy kissing scenes but mostly clean

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…

I absolutely loved Stolen Songbird. The twist on trolls was nice. They are not all ugly, only the ones who have inbred are. I loved that the protagonist is a singer, and it looks like we get to explore that side of her life a lot more in the next book, which I might add I am dying to read, but have to wait until next year until it's published! The ending just leaves you wanting more, which is pretty much how all of my favorite books are.

The romance in this one is a slow burn, which I really loved. The tension between Cecile and Tristan was both wonderful and frustrating. There were a few times I was yelling at them in my head to just tell each other certain things. And what a tease this book is, every time I thought something would happen between them it didn't. I thought Cecile was, for the most part written very smart. There is just one thing she does somewhere around page 300 that I thought was incredibly stupid, but other than that I loved her. I loved Tristan as well. He was a complex character and I liked that. There are also a lot of good supporting characters. Not all of them are very well fleshed out, but they are still very likeable. One of the best YA books I read in 2014.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Lies That Comfort and Betray (A Gilded Age Mystery #2)Lies That Comfort and Betray by Rosemary Simpson

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery
Content: Some gruesome murders, talk of sex, sexual deviancy, abortionists, prostitutes.

The Ripper murders in Whitechapel are shocking enough to make news worldwide, and in the autumn of 1888, Geoffrey and Prudence find the stories in the New York Herald quite unsettling. But London is not the only city to be terrorized by a mad butcher.

What the Dead Leave Behind was the mystery I enjoyed reading the most last year, so needless to say, I was really looking forward to reading this sequel. I'll start by saying that I liked this one a lot, but not as much as I liked What the Dead Leave Behind. In that book the murder happened during the Great Blizzard of 1888 and I really found the setting interesting. This time around we have the murder happening at around the same time as the Jack the Ripper murders are taking place over in London. I was a bit disappointed in this because I feel like the Jack the Ripper thing has been done to death. This seems to be very loosely based on events that occurred in New York at a later date and features a police detective who was actually a real person.

For most of the book I thought I knew who the killer probably was, but also thought that the solution was too easy. The book did end up keeping me guessing for a while as eventually there ended up being three different good suspects. Besides the ripper part, this book dealt with some heavy issues including abortionists, sexual deviancy, and prostitution. This resulted in the book feeling quite a bit darker than the first book in the series.

I enjoyed revisiting the characters Prudence and Geoffrey, and also liked the addition of the new character Kevin and his dog Blossom, although I did feel like they stole the show a little. I had a big problem with the way Blossom was portrayed. The dog came off as way too human and it wasn't realistic in a book like this that is set in the real world. I also would have liked for a little more development in the personal lives of Prudence and Geoffrey, but I can see that that is being set up as a slow burn with the focus mainly on the mystery, which is fine since this is a mystery series. I just kind of missed them a little here because we didn't spend as much time with their perspectives.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for giving me a copy of this book for review.

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