Review | Jackaby

Jackaby by William Ritterfive stars
As one friend recently mentioned — William Ritter writes like that guy who always has a good story up his sleeve. Jackaby is one of those great stories. It is an adventure to be had and a mystery worth investigating. Whimsical and alluring, Ritter takes you on a journey through the unexplained with investigator, R.F. Jackaby, and his newly arrived assistant detective, Abigail Rook.  When a gruesome string of murders happen in New Fiddleham, Jackaby is second on the case, right behind the New Fiddleham police department, who refuse to believe in the strange and paranormal happenings surrounding the town. With help from good-looking detective, Charlie Cane, can Jackaby and Abigail stop the paranormal creature wreaking havoc on New Fiddleham?

The Good

If you’ve seen Jackaby floating around the inter-sphere you have most likely seen it compared to Doctor Who or SherlockJackaby
Holmes. Those comparisons are not far off. The characters that Ritter creates are phenomenal. No stone is left un-turned with his character development. Jackaby is an adventure of his own. He is a delightfully intriguing character whose style choices are questionable and he never shies away from the unusual. The paranormal is his forte and he takes pride in his keen observations. Abigail isn’t your typical YA heroine. She’s bold and adventurous, yet she is shy and subtle. She strives for a life of equality, but doesn’t throw away her girlish charms. Some days she prefers pants and other days she prefers skirts — she’s three-dimensional that way. (Bravo, Ritter!)

The subtle jokes that are mentioned throughout, make this book. Ogden the frog and Douglas the duck are highlight characters that add a comedic air. Jackaby is downright hilarious and I adore Abby’s slight wit.

The Not-So-Good

Honestly, it’s hard for me to write the not-so-good, because I love this book! I would say it is a bit juvenile at times, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under the age of 12. The murder scenes can be a bit gruesome, which would make 11 year old me have nightmares.

Overview

This book is a 5 and with good reason. It’s quirky, yet serious when it needs to be. It’s a book that will keep you reading, and by the end you will be anxiously awaiting book number two of the series, Beastly Bones. If you are a fan of Doctor Who, mysteries, humor, or gassy frogs, Jackaby is a book for you.

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository 

Jackaby by William Ritter
Algonquin Young Readers
304 Pages
September 16, 2014
$16.95

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Review | Charlie, Presumed Dead


Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anna Heltzelfour stars

Hold on to your pants with this one. (I’m not exactly sure what that phrase means, but you should probably do that when reading this book anyway because it’s 100% CRAY-ZAY.)

Seriously. Charlie, Presumed Dead is a definite thriller. I’m not exactly sure what this book is labeled under. I’m assuming that it is a YA title because the main characters are both teens, but it could definitely be a crossover.

Anyway, you should probably read the synopsis (which you can find here) to better know what I’m rambling about.

The Good.

Okay, first things first. This cover is gorgeous. It’s what first attracted me to the book (yes, I judge a book by its cover) and it didn’t let me down.

The writing is a bit juvenile, but the twists and deception is so great you really won’t care. I was looking at a few reviews that stated the book was “slow”…”uneventful”…”boring”…don’t listen to them because I’m pretty sure they read the wrong book. I flew through this because the mystery and the “CRAY-ZAY-NESS” was so intense that I had to know more. The overall plot is fantastic and unexpectedly dark. There were a few times I blurted “WHAT IS THIS BOOK?!” during the craziest of parts (My mother can testify). It’s definitely one of those reads you want to talk about with another person when you finish the last page–so make sure you read it with a friend so you can freak out together.

The Bad.

The reviews have been a bit negative for this one, and when I say a bit, I mean really. Which I believe stem from the poor structure of the book. The characters do have depth, but they are a bit stereotypical. You have Aubrey, the good and clean Midwest gal, and then you have Lena, who is the mega rich, slightly snobby, city-slicker. Also, the realism of this book is so far off, which I could see being a huge turn off when you have an overall realistic setting but then the details are out in left field. Also, (slight spoiler alert, but not really) for anyone who has read this—did you not think that Lena and Aubrey were going to fall in love with one another? I’m pretty sure the only thing they thought about during their “trip” (besides Charlie) was how great the other one was. Did anyone else find this to be really odd?

Overall, it’s definitely a book to pick up if you are looking for a thrill ride. I hate to make major comparisons, but if you liked Gone Girl, Charlie, Presumed Dead is for you.

A big thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group for providing an e-galley in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository

Image via


All opinions are my own and are not sponsored or affiliated with any company or organization. 

Review | Ana of California

23398869four stars

CONFESSION: I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables. *GASP* THE HORROR! I know. It’s been that book that I’ve wanted to read, but I have never had a copy or I forgot to pick one up at the library because I was too busy praying that the newest John Green book was available.(Someone out there is shooting me angry daggers for mentioning John Green and Anne of Green Gables in one sentence.)

I only confess this to you because Ana of California is a modern retelling of Anne of Green Gables, So if you are looking for comparisons, sorry charlie, you’re just not gonna get ’em. But I will share my thoughts on the book with you and hopefully that will suffice.

First, a big thank you to Penguin Group for allowing me to read this wonderful novel in exchange for an honest review. This book comes out on the 30th (Yes, of this month!) and is definitely worth the time.

For a synopsis of Ana of California click here.

The Good.
The characters are wonderful. Ana is a girl after my own heart. You empathize with her and her past and cheer her on throughout the novel. Abbie is a dear. I would want her to be my best friend. She’s loving, ambitious, and her meals make you salivate every time she talks of them.  You have Emmett, who is a grumpus, but you know that there is so much love underneath all of those layers. I have an enormous crush on Will. Then you have Rye and Cole who each add a unique element to the story-line.

I loved the diversity this book held. I especially love when retellings change the background of the character. The pace is perfect. I read this pretty much in a day (minus a few hours of sleep here and there). I was actually surprised when I reached the end…which leads to…

The Not So Good.
The only “not so good” about this novel is that it leaves me hanging like a leaf. I mean, COME ON. There is an epilogue (thank goodness), but I needed just a bit more. You have a glimpse of what happens later down the road, but I personally just wanted the assurance. After everything Ana goes through (I promise, no spoilers!) you just want some satisfaction that everything will be okay from here on out (even if that thinking is completely unrealistic). Also, I would love to know more about Abbie. I know the story’s center points to Ana, but there is so much worth mentioning about the characters that surrounds her. Although we are given glimpses into Abbie’s background story, I would have loved to read more about her time away from the city.

Overall, I loved this book. Ana of California is a wonderful, heart-warming read that will inspire you to open your eyes to the good in your life.

On Sale Date: June 30th from Penguin Group
Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | iBooks

image via Goodreads


All opinions are my own and are not sponsored or endorsed. 

Review | Geek Girl

Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Geek Girl by Holly Smale Published by HarperCollins

four stars

Who hasn’t wanted to be an international supermodel their entire life? Oh… that would be Harriet Manners. Harriet is all numbers and logical thinking. She gets math but doesn’t understand fashion. She leaves all of the beauty tips and tricks to her best friend, Nat. At least until she gets “spotted” at a local fashion event where her “geek” life gets flipped upside down.

Geek Girl by Holly Smale is laugh-out-loud funny and will leave you with all the warm and fuzzies. It will remind you to celebrate who you are and that we are more than what we label ourselves.

Smale’s characters are golden. Each character holds their own and their are so many dominant and out-there personalities you will constantly be entertained even after the last page.

There are a handful of super duper moral guidances hidden among the pages of this book which unveil a beautiful coming of age story. One of the greatest is rendered in this quote:

“Nobody really metamorphoses. Cinderella is always Cinderella, just in a nicer dress. The Ugly Duckling was always a swan, just a smaller version. And I bet the tadpole and the caterpillar still feel the same, even when they’re jumping and flying, swimming and floating.

Just like I am now.

I didn’t need to transform after all.
My name is Harriet Manners and I am a geek.
And maybe that’s not so bad after all.”

If you are in search for a feel good and light-hearted novel, this one’s for you.

For full synopsis for Geek Girl, click here. 


All opinions are my own and are not affiliated or endorsed by any company or organization. 

Review| The Last Time We Say Goodbye

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand via Goodreads

 

five stars

Grief can be one of the toughest emotions to capture, because each person tends to grieve a little unlike the other. With that being said– Bravo, Cynthia Hand for portraying the ugliness of grief so beautifully and so honestly.

I’ve read a lot of books recently that ended with death. You have picture-perfect moments through 3/4ths of the book and then the inevitable hits and your heart feels like it was put through some weird & tortuous organ shredder. I appreciate that Hand began with death and ended her story towards healing.

I will echo my sentiment written in my review of All the Bright Places. When an author and a reader share in the same experience and the work between the author and the reader reflect that experience, there is a magic that occurs. I lost a friend to suicide about 10 years ago to the month. Suicide is tricky. As Hand points out, there is a different tone to death when the death is occurred by the victims own hands.

“They took Ty’s name off the roster.  The even expunged his school records for the year, as if they could erase his existence altogether.

I’d bet good money they didn’t do that kind of thing with Hailey McKennett, who lost her battle with cystic fibrosis two years ago, or Sammie Sullivan, who died of complications from pneumonia, or Jacob Wright, who was killed in a car crash driving home drunk from a party at Branched Oak Lake last summer.  Jacob got a tree planted for him at the front of the school, a plaque under it that I pass every day walking in that reads WE’LL MISS YOU, J.  Sammie got a moment of silence during first period that year and an entire page of the yearbook devoted to her memory.  They read Hailey’s name at graduation.

But Ty got his locker packed up and delivered promptly back to my mother, before we’d even had a chance to bury him.

Because it was suicide.

Because they don’t want to seem like they’re condoning it.

There are also a lot of “what ifs”. What if I would have said this…done this…noticed this. After dealing with my own grief I still sometimes wonder if things could have ended differently than they did. But has Hand mentions so beautifully, the only person that could have helped him was him. At some point you have to come to peace with not only your loss but with yourself.

I can’t end this review without mentioning Lex. I LOVE her. She is logical, not emotional, slightly socially awkward, and she is who she is. She doesn’t strive to be something she’s not. She isn’t able to curse with conviction—which I can relate—and she views the world in a completely unique way. Honestly, I was thrilled that Hand made a Bones reference because it made it so easy to connect and understand her character.  (Also Bones is my all-time favorite TV show, so, just reading that I knew this book would be a good one.)

The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a beautifully written portrayal of loss, understanding, guilt, grief, and most importantly healing. If you liked All the Bright Places or The Fault in Our Stars, add this to your list.

Click here for full synopsis.


All opinions are my own and are not affiliated or endorsed with any company or organization. 

 

Review | Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)

Image via Goodreads Release Date: April 14th from Poppy

Um, Amy Spalding have we met? Because I am pretty sure you just wrote about me in your newest book, Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys).

Awk-ward. No really, awkward. This book is chock-full of it and it will have you laughing out loud (and yes, mighty loud) til the end.

I love Spalding’s characters, like L-O-V-E. Each of her characters hold their own. You have Riley who runs head first into love, says the first thing that pops in her head, and is (just a little bit) reckless. Reid is her fierce band companion, and I love their platonic friendship. (Who says boys and girls can’t just be friends?!) He is a bubble of insecurities, and I appreciate that Spalding added a male character like his into the mix. Then there is Lucy, she is sensible, nice, and is the definition of what a friend should be. Milo, who is quite possibly the coolest (and smoothest) kid in town.  Oh, and let’s not forget Ted! I may or may not have a crush on Ted. He is a bit of a mystery, plus he is smart, kind, thoughtful, and seems to be the All-American good guy. He may be a bit of a geek, but those are usually the best kind of guys. (I mean have you watched The Big Bang Theory?!)

This book has been compared a lot to Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. It definitely has a similar vibe, meaning Riley is in a band and music is a huge part of this story, but Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) is definitely in a category of its own. Spalding was very smart when she wrote this novel. It is a love story that is so authentically adolescent, you will feel like you are in your teenage shoes again.

Get ready to laugh because this one brings everything to the table.

For full synopsis click here.
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Poppy / Little, Brown Book for Young Readers 

Special thanks to NetGalley and Little Brown for this ARC. It was a pleasure reading this title!  


All opinions are my own and are not endorsed or affiliated with any company or organization. 

Review | Red Queen

Red Queen

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Published by HarperTeen Image via Goodreads

four starsAnyone can betray anyone. Sometimes even the author can betray the reader. (Cough, Victoria Aveyard, Cough) 

Mare Barrow bleeds red therefore her life was made for service not for privilege like the Silver. Once she turns eighteen she will be forced to conscript into the King’s army to fight a never ending war with outer provinces, just like her three older brothers did before her. Her life is less precious than the Silver.

The Silvers were destined to rule through their steel colored blood which hold abilities that enable their reign. Some move metal, others heal, while few are able to enter the conscious gripping control over the mind. But what if everything wasn’t so Black and White…er…I mean Red and Silver. What if there was a middle ground that could spark a revolution?

I highly enjoyed Red Queen. I could have read it in one sitting, but it’s one of those books that you like to pace yourself because you know it’s just book one and book two won’t come out for another year. (BAH!)

I hated Aveyard’s characters, but for this read it’s a good thing. It isn’t a satisfying read, but you appreciate the twists and turns her story weaves. Red Queen is very “young-adulty”, but it does take a few different approaches than the typical YA story-line. If you are looking for romance, you get a glimpse, but not much. So don’t buy this thinking you get a twilight love story. The story-line mainly surrounds Mare’s understanding of the world; that the grass isn’t always so green on the other side, but maybe with a little work (AKA a lot of betrayal and killing) you can try to make your side a little bit greener. It is a revolution story through and through and it have you in it’s grip until the end.

For those who love Suzanne Collins’  The Hunger Games and Kiera Cass’ The Selection Series, don’t wait to pick this one up. It’s a royal goody.

For full synopsis or to purchase click here.


All opinions are my own and are not endorsed or affiliated with any company or organization.