Book Review

Book Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction +fantasy
Length: 352 pages
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push the earth and the otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve daily mysteries in New Fiddleham, New England—like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why the undead are appearing around town.

At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, Jenny Cavanaugh, begins to give way. But before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

The epic conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Jackaby series features wry humor and a cast of unforgettable characters facing off against their most dangerous, bone-chilling foe ever.

READ EVERY LAST DANG PAGE OF THIS BOOK.

Or you might feel like throwing it across the room. Like me. Then I read it all. Then I got the ending I was demanding from my bookish soul.

This was a great finale! Definitely the best book of the series by far.

I loved watching all of the story lines come together. Seeing all of the characters align. It all was beautifully woven and closed the ending as it should be. I wasn’t left with questions or concerns. I closed the book at peace. That’s a good ending. There was even a double crossing betrayer that I had no idea was coming. It was a twist that added an edge.

ABIGAIL AND CHARLIE ARE SO DANG CUTE. Absolutely precious. This was the first time I wish they had some more screen time. I was smitten with Charlie and their interactions. They were a great, simple, no drama relationship that added the touch of romance to round out this series.

Jackaby and Abigail are once again a dynamic duo. Jenny became team member number three and I loved having her around more! The banter and dynamics between everyone always make me smile and really appreciate their friendships. I was so happy that Jackaby got the ending he deserved. It made a lot of sense and I figured it would have to move in that direction to bring closure.

This is one of those books that handles the addition of literally every magical creature from fairytales and folklore well. They’re SO MANY CREATURES. I love learning more about them and the way they each added their own touch.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction/fantasy/paranormal mystery
  • Language: one word (witch)
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: knives, magic, swords, murder, animal attacks, vampire attacks, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: The Black Witch (The Black Witch Chronicles #1) by Laurie Forest

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy + paranormal (witches)
Length: 601 pages
Author: Laurie Forest
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.

GOOD ENOUGH TO PURSUE BOOK TWO.

I had heard about a million different conflicting reviews and issues with this book. But with a personal friends and Morrighan’s Review (give her a follow!) I chose to give it a chance.

Overall, it was good. I definitely had some issues with it but I liked what was being laid out and want to see where it continues to go.

Things I liked:

  • The way that racism was depicted as always a bad thing (this is a fantasy so it’s between the different races in the book: witches, fae, werewolves, etc.). Elloren (and others) would make me so mad with how they were all treating each other and the things they would do and say. But, as time went on Elloren consciously realized what she was doing and how wrong she was. This allowed her character to grow a lot and made the book so much better.
  • I really loved the setting. There wasn’t a lot of world-building, but I thought it was fun to have it at a school. I feel like any school setting is immediately judged against Harry Potter, but this is so vastly different I had a good time with it.
  • The nuanced relationships. Things were a lot more focused on friendships rather than relationships (though, those are definitely building up). Since Elloren was evolving she was opening herself up to new people and they were all learning from each other.

Things I struggled with:

  • For a witch her doesn’t have powers (but obviously does) they NEVER SHOWED UP. I thought surely within 600 pages we have that grand moment where her powers come in full force, but nope. So now I have to wait til I get book two to see how that comes out.
  • Elloren was a wreck most of the time. I felt she cried literally every other page (not saying crying is a bad thing, but if I notice something recurring that often, holy wow). Her emotions were kind of all over the place and boys were taking up a lot of her time.
  • There wasn’t much that moved the plot forward. She spent her time at school, making friends, overcoming her own misguided sense of hatred, but at the same time, it didn’t lead anywhere. Things are happening further away from her, but the “battle” hasn’t come to them yet. I guess this book was setting up for all to come.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + paranormal (witches)
  • Language: b**ch used a few times
  • Romance: a lightly passionate kiss
  • Violence: magic, physical, bullying
  • Trigger warnings: racism, bullying, racial slurs, animal cruelty

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Book Review

Book Review: The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Middle Grade/YA Mystery + Fantasy (paranormal)
Length: 381 pages
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: August 29th, 2013
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business. 

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall’s legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day? 

Readers who enjoyed the action, suspense, and humor in Jonathan Stroud’s internationally best-selling Bartimaeus books will be delighted to find the same ingredients, combined with deliciously creepy scares, in his thrilling and chilling Lockwood & Co. series.

VERY SPOOKY INDEED.

I read this book based off of a recommendation from Bookstagram, and it did not disappoint.

I generally don’t read much middle-school books unless they come highly recommended, I had seen this enough from her to know I must have it (even better, if you’re a Prime member, the first book is free on Kindle!). While they’re some YA aspects, it generally leaned towards a younger audience, yet I can see how it captivates older groups. It’s a really underrated book.

This group: Lucy, Lockwood and George are a hoot to watch interact. They have funny banter, quiet moments and are a great team. Lucy and Lockwood especially made this book. It was narrated by Lucy (which I wasn’t expecting given it’s called Lockwood & Co.). I loved the world-building and how *just* enough was left out to keep me interested for further installments.

The Screaming Staircase is CREEPY. This is honestly the closest I’ll ever come to a horror book. They’re ghosts that can do all of these crazy things (including kill you). Blood coming off of ceilings, things jumping out, it was definitely intense at times.

I liked the addition of a mystery within the paranormal activity. It made me more invested as I am weary of reading paranormal books. It was another level of intrigue and wonderment as I flew through this.

Overall audience notes:

  • Middle school/YA Paranormal Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: descriptions of murders, detailed hauntings, physical, swords, guns, explosions

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Book Review

Review: The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Regency period paranormal/fantasy, young adult, no language, little romance, violence
Length: 544 pages
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: December 14th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Eon and Eona; a Regency adventure series starring a stylish and intrepid Buffy-esque demon-hunter

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

REGENCY PERIOD FOR THE WIN.

This was so fun. There was a lot of work that went into this by the author. Goodman did so much research to make sure that her world depicted London in 1812. It was fantastic. Regency books are some of my favorite and this was very well done. YAY!

Y’all I love Lord Carlston. Because I am a total sucker for brooding men with some dark secrets that are [hopefully] marshmallows. I have high hopes for him. He better not disappoint. I am however, completely on the fence about the Duke. I don’t know where I stand, but I’m not really shipping him at all right now. And we all know, my series love can fall apart if who I ship first off doesn’t end up happening. THE SUSPENSE WILL END ME.

I liked Helen overall. Since she unfortunately had no idea about her powers she is a bit naive in this book. Having to learn everything, and understand the world of the Dark Days Club takes over half the book. I’m looking forward to her character growing as the series does. I want an awesome, sword fighting, Jane Austen-esque heroine.

The magic system in this book is complicated. And that’s probably my biggest reason for 4 stars. It sounded awful to actually be a Reclaimer. The 101 things that have to be done just to see the Deceiver, destroy them, their progeny and the like blew my mind. It was too intricate for me to see the fun in being a part of the Club. I will give points for everything being explained even if I didn’t fully grasp it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical-fiction, Regency period, paranormal [demons]
  • No explicit language: use of the word whore and others like it for the time period
  • Violence: demons with whip-like extensions, knives, physical, gory-detailed scenes
  • Romance: a passionate kiss, discussion of some sexual things
Book Review

Review: The Law of Moses (The Law of Moses #1) by Amy Harmon

Law of Moses

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult, paranormal contemporary, language, violence, some love scenes, kissing, etc.
Length: 359 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: November 27th, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Someone found him in a laundry basket at the Quick Wash, wrapped in a towel, a few hours old and close to death. They called him Baby Moses when they shared his story on the ten o’clock news – the little baby left in a basket at a dingy Laundromat, born to a crack addict and expected to have all sorts of problems. I imagined the crack baby, Moses, having a giant crack that ran down his body, like he’d been broken at birth. I knew that wasn’t what the term meant, but the image stuck in my mind. Maybe the fact that he was broken drew me to him from the start.

It all happened before I was born, and by the time I met Moses and my mom told me all about him, the story was old news and nobody wanted anything to do with him. People love babies, even sick babies. Even crack babies. But babies grow up to be kids, and kids grow up to be teenagers. Nobody wants a messed up teenager.

And Moses was messed up. Moses was a law unto himself. But he was also strange and exotic and beautiful. To be with him would change my life in ways I could never have imagined. Maybe I should have stayed away. Maybe I should have listened. My mother warned me. Even Moses warned me. But I didn’t stay away.

And so begins a story of pain and promise, of heartache and healing, of life and death. A story of before and after, of new beginnings and never-endings. But most of all…a love story.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I KNEW IT.

If I tell you right up front, right in the beginning that I lost him, it will be easier for you to bear. You will know it’s coming, and it will hurt. But you’ll be able to prepare.

WHO DOES THAT? Who tells you the horror that you’re about to read? Amy Harmon does, that’s for sure.

After preparing myself for the worst, I then went on a ride where once again I was loving everything Harmon did. I will not that this is more paranormal as Moses can see dead people (not a spoiler, you know this pretty quickly). Knowing this beforehand would have helped me understand and connect with the story more.

Her stories carry such depth. The characters truly suffer and you feel it all. I don’t have a lot to say for this review, because I simply enjoyed what I read. I was wanting to read a love story and I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Some portions are a little bit of a drag, and the inclusion of the side story didn’t seem necessary, but did add some action and intrigue that literally had me shouting “I KNEW IT!” when I got to the piece of the plot where the puzzle was complete.

Tag is also a great sidekick and he’s the center of the next book WHICH MAKES ME SO HAPPY. I think side characters can make or break a book.

There is language, but wasn’t enough where I started to feel that it needed to back off a bit. The love scenes are tasteful and a little descriptive. Some kissing and make-out scenes. Minor violence, including guns.