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31 July 2015

#BookBeginnings & #Friday56 & A Ramble - William Ritter's Jackaby

It's Friday again so it's time for Friday56 at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader!

The Book Beginnings rules are to share the first few sentences & initial thoughts while the Friday56 is to share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark.

I just completed William Ritter's ever-so-amazing Jackaby. I had thought that I had read it before since I meant to SO many times and had read so much about it that, in my head, I already loved it ... but when I got "back" into it before this past Teaser Tuesday post, I realized that it really was all in my head. I'm sure Jackaby would appreciate that.

Set in 1892, Jackaby has been described as a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who ... although I would nix the Doctor Who bit and say it's more Sherlockian and either Supernatural or Grimm with more than a tad Harry Potter thrown in for good measure (it is, after all, a "young adult" novel). Even Abigail, the narrator and female lead, compares Jackaby to Sherlock Holmes (in an implied kind of way, at least). 


There's quite a bit of paranormal/magical awesomeness going on along with a good ol' Victorian-times murder mystery but the "all of time and space" deal that goes along with my beloved Doctor just isn't there (in the first book, anyway ... and I think I'll be disappointed if it crops up in the second). 

I ramble.... but....

I. Love. This. Book.

The spunk of Abigail ... the awesomeness of the home/office (and the other inhabitants) ... the humor. Oh, and so much humor there is! I'm quite glad that the same handful of regulars ride the bus with me into work most nights because I let out quite a hoot a couple of nights ago and it may have been awkward among strangers who haven't just come to expect such things from me.

And the actual mystery storyline? Well, I had quite a bit of the bits figured out but, being Jackaby, there had to be some twists tossed in that I didn't quite see coming and I love him (and William Ritter) for them.

And I love Abigail (so much so that I've said it twice). 

And Charlie.

And the old lady who fishes for the bridge troll.

And the duck.

And even Chief Inspector Marlowe.

Most of all, I love how the whack-doodle-ness of it all actually fits together.

Beastly Bones is the second in the series and will be out September 22nd. I'll be curling up under a cozy blanket with it before then, though, thanks yet again to NetGalley.

27 July 2015

B.B. Oak's Thoreau in Phantom Bog

WARNING: There may be snippets of spoilery-type stuff relating to the first two books in the series. Go and read those first. If you don't, don't snipe at me later for giving something away. This is your official warning. Do with it what you will ... 

And so I have caught up on the wonderful little series that I began just a week ago. Thoreau in Phantom Bog is the third of B. B. Oak's Henry David Thoreau mystery series and because it was offered to me by the publisher on NetGalley, is the reason I flew through the first two books in the series. This one is due to be released on August 25th so I could have staggered them some and taken my time more, I suppose, but once I started I didn't want to stop or slow down.

This time around the main focus behind the mystery is the Underground Railroad -- for which Thoreau acted as a "conductor," assisting runaway slaves journey to freedom. At the beginning of the book another conductor is killed and the girl he was assisting has gone missing. Of course, Henry and his friends Adam and Julia take it upon themselves to solve both mysteries : who killed him, and what happened to her?

As if this all wasn't enough to deal with, Julia had gotten married since the last book and run away from her husband in France. In spite of her being legally married (divorce was, at the time, illegal in France), she develops a relationship in Plumford which leads to further complications in the lives of everyone. I admit that I haven't cared all that much for Julia in the previous installments but, even so, my heart went out to the poor girl with everything she's been put through this time! I may have even found myself rooting for her a time or two.

The highlight for me, as with the others, was Thoreau. The Oaks (as "B. B." is a husband-wife writing team rather than just one person) write him so beautifully I sometimes found myself getting all warm and fuzzy and goose-bumpy reading "his" words -- just as I have done reading his actual writings.
(from an Advanced Copy -- final published text may differ)

24 July 2015

#BookBeginnings & #Friday56 (& a Ramble) -- Thoreau on Wolf Hill

It's Friday again so it's time for Friday56 at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader!

The Book Beginnings rules are to share the first few sentences & initial thoughts while the Friday56 is to share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark.

This week we're looking at B. B. Oak's Thoreau on Wolf Hill:

The Book Beginnings blurb was "written in" Adam's journal while the Friday 56 appears in Julia's notebook. I love how each chapter is set up as being written by one or the other! 

Adam's bit gave me a chuckle over having a dram of whiskey before breakfast ... until I about how this is 19th century New England and that there must have been quite a stressful reason for the small town doctor. Julia's I love because it really highlights Thoreau's role in the series thus far.

Since I finished the book while waiting for my bus in to work tonight, I've already thrown a small reviewish ramble up on GoodReads. I'm far too lazy right now to re-type it all, but that's what the snipping tool is for, right? 

23 July 2015

Reading With John : Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher

The book  Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher was written by Bruce Coville.

It was published in 1991 and is 148 pages long.

The story takes place in Jeremy's home town during the present.

The main characters are  Jeremy and Tiamat

I liked Jeremy because he likes to draw like me and takes care  of Tiamat and other animals.

I disliked Freddy the Frog Killer because he is a mean and rude bully and tortures Fat Pete the cat.

At the beginning Jeremy finds a magic store when he is running away from bullies and a girl who wants to kiss him. He buys a colorful ball for a quarter. The ball is a dragon egg.

Then, he  helps Tiamat the dragon grow into a beautiful dragon and becomes friends with the girl that chased him. She can see Tiamat like Jeremy. No one else can.

At the end jeremy had to let Tiamat go to the dragon world but a part of her was always with him.

My favorite parts of the the book were Jeremy getting Tiamat, Tiamat flying with Jeremy on her back when she got big, and them talking with pictures in their heads.

I did not like when Jeremy was being picked on or when Tiamat went away.

I would tell a friend to read this book because it is a great book. It is fun and full of surprises.

21 July 2015

Teaser Tuesday # 20 (& A Ramble) - Thoreau at Devil's Perch by B.B. Oak

The Tease & The Book

# 1 in the Henry David Thoreau Mystery series

The Meme

The Ramble
Last time I mentioned that I was veering again thanks to the conspiracy Kensington Books & NetGalley once again offering up a book that looked too good to pass up ... that once again isn't the first in its series. SO I grabbed the first couple of books in order to read them first and, as per usual with Kensington, I'm glad that I did.

I was in elementary school still when I first read and fell for Henry David Thoreau and his friends/colleagues like Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Ellery Channing. My mom was taking college courses at the time and I loved going with her on my days off from school (or skipping mine altogether so I could go) and -- aside from her Faulkner course -- ate it all up. I would do the readings and, often, my own 8-9 year old attempts at the homework. When I saw that the book that I was being offered was part of a Henry David Thoreau mystery series? Of course I had to say yes!

Granted, I was a little hesitant because I've read books before that have totally messed up (in my mind, anyway) favorite fictional and/or non-fictional characters from days gone by. So far this has not been the case with this series. Yes, it has his name as the center of it all but he appears more in a supporting role to a set of cousins -- Adam and Julia. 

Thoreau at Devil's Perch takes place when Henry is 29 years old and at Walden Pond -- not too far from where Adam, a doctor, and Julia, an artist, are taking care of their ailing grandfather. Murders and mysteries crop up, of course, but what I loved most about the book was how true it seemed to the time. The racism, sexism, and classism of the time were all there. As were social norms (and abnorms). The language felt much like I was reading one of the journals of Thoreau or Emerson. The chapters alternate between being written "by" Adam in his journal or Julia in her notebook and each has its own way of telling things -- spellings and grammar and the like included. At one point someone teaches their grandfather a card game called "poca" (poker) and Henry tells them about different beliefs and stories from the "Hindoo" (Hindu) people. 

I started the book on my way into work the night of the Sunday the 19th and finished it before leaving for work tonight (Tuesday the 21st). It's a quick read which I appreciate since now I have one more to go before getting to my NetGalley freebie ...

20 July 2015

Conspiracy theories and the #20BooksOfSummer

Yet again NetGalley and Kensington Books appear to have been conspiring against my original plan for the 20 Books of Summer. They seem to "get" me and when Kensington sends me a pre-approval notice for something? I jump at it. It doesn't seem to matter if I already have a plan in place ... or if the book is the third or fourth in a series that I then have to find the earlier installments of and marathon read .... which is what happened the last time.

And it's happened again.

This time I'll be diving into the Henry David Thoreau Mysteries by husband-wife writing team B. B. Oak. I've always been a Thoreau freak and we all know by now that I love a good mystery. I'm already 20% in to the first in the series, Thoreau at Devil's Perch, just from the bus ride to work tonight and so far I'm loving it! Luckily my library has the second book and the third is already waiting in my Kindle app thanks to NetGalley.

Aren't they pretty???

So my new goal? To read at least 15 of my original 20 Books of Summer. At the rate I'm going it could happen ... if I block NetGalley & Kensington from my inbox.

17 July 2015

#BookBeginnings & #Friday56 - Betrayal in the Highlands

I'm back on my normal plan for my 20 Books of Summer and back to Robert Evert's Riddle in Stone trilogy! I had read the first one back in February and loved it. I had said then that I would get to the second book, Betrayal in the Highlands, "soon." Well, July is sooner than August or September so it all works out, right?

It's Friday again so it's time for Friday56 at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader!

So, the Book Beginnings rules are to share the first few sentences & initial thoughts while the Friday56 is to share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark.

(the first quote is the beginning -- the second is from the 56% mark)
I love knowing that Pond and Edmund are still traveling together (at least in the beginning) ... and I can't WAIT to find out "what this is all about" after the 56% mark!

14 July 2015

Teaser Tuesday # 19 - A Deceptive Homecoming

The Tease & The Book

I typically don't do teasers from ARCs but this was too good to pass up! 
They're talking about an insane asylum ...

A Deceptive Homecoming by Anna Loan-Wilsey
# 4 in the Hattie Davish Mystery series

The Meme

13 July 2015

Anna Loan-Wilsey's Hattie Davish Mysteries (updated 07/16)

I had mentioned that I was veering off the original plan for my 20 Books of Summer in order to read a series that I unintentionally abandoned before I had even begun reading it -- Anna Loan-Wilsey's Hattie Davish Mysteries.

Set in the 1890s, the series follows Hattie Davish who is a travelling secretary. While she answers mostly to her wealthy English benefactor, Sir Arthur Windom-Greene, Hattie goes where her skills are needed. The first book saw us in Eureka Spring, Arkansas, where she was hired to work for the leader of a women's temperance group. Then she spent the holidays with Sir Arthur in Galena, Illinois, where he was researching a book on the Civil War. The third book took her to Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer season amidst the posh and powerful. Of course, every place she goes people end up dying and she ends up solving the mysteries surrounding the deaths.

It's not a mystery series for nothing, you know.

Let me just tell you: I love this series. Hattie is an absolute gem and the research that Loan-Wilsey has obviously put in to her writing is apparent with how richly detailed each setting is -- not only the physical locations and differences, but also the differences in population from place to place. Rather than rehashing the same locale with the same cast of characters over and over like so many series do, Hattie's profession gives us the opportunity to travel around the country -- while not losing a solid core of supporting characters who pop in for each book and believably so. You don't end up wondering why this one or that would possibly be here or there. It all just makes sense. There's a wonderful blend of history and humor and suspense and, yes, even a little romance.

I'm so horribly pleased that I accidentally requested the fourth book in the series from NetGalley!

A Deceptive Homecoming is the fourth book in the series and is set for release on July 28th. I'll start my NetGalley copy once I hit "publish" on this thanks. You can pre-order it from Amazon (or wherever) and if you start soon you should have plenty of time to read the first three before it arrives!




July 16th Update:
I finished A Deceptive Homecoming before my pre-work nap Wednesday evening. I couldn't bring myself to sleep until it was done and it was SO worth losing sleep over! So many of the questions that I have had about Hattie's background were finally answered and, as an added bonus, one of the new characters shares my last name. It's almost as though I was so destined to be a fan that Anna Loan-Wilsey named a character for me before even knowing that I exist. I'm fairly certain that the reason why trilogies are so popular is that authors can't always figure out what to do with a character after that. Luckily, there's no sign of that being a problem here and I can't wait to see what Hattie has coming up next! (Well, I can wait ... because I have to ... but hopefully not for terribly long.)

Reading With John : The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Over the summer in order to keep John reading regularly and practice his writing, we've come up with a "fill-in-the-blank" form for book reports/reviews. I wrote out the template after he and I discussed what a good report should include and then he answered the blanks that we left. Those fill-ins are indicated with green text (since green is his favorite color).
The book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was written by C. S. Lewis. It was published in 1950 and is 189 pages long.

The story takes place in Narnia and at the Professor's house in England during World War II. The main characters are Lucy, Edmund, Susan, Peter, Aslan and the White Witch. I liked Lucy because she is gentle and kind. I disliked the White Witch because she is mean and rude.

At the beginning of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the kids (Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter) found Narnia in the wardrobe. Then, they work to defeat the White Witch who was doing bad things to Narnia. At the end, they grow up as Kings and Queens and go back through the wardrobe as kids again.

My favorite part of the the book was when they defeated the Witch because of Edmund's bravery. I did not like when Asland died because he did nothing wrong and it wasn't fair.

I would tell a friend to read the book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe because it's fun and exciting.

10 July 2015

#BookBeginnings & #Friday56 - A Sense of Entitlement by Anna Loan-Wilsey

Already on the third Hattie Davish book! I adore Hattie. She's spunky, smart, loves cake, and counts in French to calm herself down. (I've tried it -- it works!)

Of course, it's Friday again so it's time for Friday56 at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader!

So, the Book Beginnings rules are to share the first few sentences & initial thoughts while the Friday56 is to share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark.

Oh, Hattie ... what in the world have you gotten yourself wrapped up in now???

03 July 2015

#BookBeginnings & #Friday56 -- Anna Loan-Wilsey's A Lack of Temperance

It's another Friday with The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings (also found at Freda's Voice & hosted by Rose City Reader)!

Today we're visiting A Lack of Temperance by Anna Loan-Wilsey. It's the FIRST in the Hattie Davish series but I'm still considering it to be an abandoned series since I had requested (and was accepted for) the FOURTH in the series on NetGalley and then totally forgot about it ... so sort of abandoned the series before starting it. I'm making up for it with a marathon read ... which, you know, I don't normally do.

So, the Book Beginnings rules are to share the first few sentences & initial thoughts:

It was chaos. Several whiskey barrels had been left smashed and blazing in the middle of the road.
 What the what?!? It certainly sounds chaotic! What's up with the whiskey barrels on fire?

Fast forward to the The Friday 56:

01 July 2015

#20BooksOfSummer -- 1 Month Down!

I figured I'd do a little "the road so far" post to recap the first month of the #20BooksOfSummer challenge. It's been great fun revisiting my abandoned series ... but I do think that I'm going to add at least one "abandoned before started" to the list before all is said and done.

John Connolly's The Infernals - # 2 in the Samuel Johnson Trilogy

This series has the greatest chapter titles and the greatest footnotes and is just a whole freaking crapton of fun. A good continuation of the first book and I'm chomping at the bit to get to the third ... even though then I'll be sad and mopey over it being a trilogy and not (so far) in the Douglas Adams sense of the word.

Stephanie Bond's 7 Brides For 7 Bodies - # 7 in the Body Movers series

I waited for years for the Body Movers series to continue and when it finally did it felt like I was getting to spend the weekend with a long lost best friend. I actually gave it 7 out of 5 stars and even that seemed like it wasn't enough.

Charlotte MacLeod's Wrack & Rune - # 3 in the Peter Shandy series

The first "lit crush" I can ever recall having was on Gilbert Blythe from the Anne books. Many MANY years later I'm still developing lit crushes -- most recently on Peter Shandy AND on his boss, the President of Balaclava Agricultural College. It's a viking thing ... at least with the President.

Rhys Bowen's A Royal Pain - # 2 in the Royal Spyness series

I enjoyed the first book in this series when I read it but was hesitant about continuing the series. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised and actually loved this one (seldom the case with second books -- unless it's a trilogy .... or has vikings)! Because we didn't need as much time introducing everyone we were able to get to know the main characters better. I still have an issue with the main character's taste in men that has carried over from the first book, but in every aspect this was good enough that I've already picked up the next one in the series (and the one after that).

Charlaine Harris' Shakespeare's Trollop - # 4 in the Lily Bard series

I really had absolutely no intention of loving this series. I started to read them just before Christmas because I was determined to read only Christmas-themed books and the third would fit that. And then I got hooked. Totally unlike Harris' more-known Sookie Stackhouse and in such a wonderful way. (Sookie started to get on my nerves after a while.) Harris only wrote five Lily Bard books. I'm going to miss her.

Deanna Chase's Engaged Off Bourbon Street and Angels of Bourbon Street - #s 3.5 and 4 in the Jade Calhoun series

I'm honestly not sure if I'll ever continue with this series. The first book I enjoyed. The second book I was "ehh" about. The third book made me want to shake the main character. By the end of the fourth I was kind of hoping that she would stop getting saved when faced with some horrible life-or-death situation so I could just be done with her. I've been told that she changes quite a lot in the next few books but I really don't know if I can put myself through it.

Gail Carriger's Curtsies & Conspiracies - # 2 in the Finishing School series
Another delightful second-in-a-series where character development lifts off! So many changes happened over the course of the book that I'm excited to see what will happen next and may not put it off for so many months. The fourth (and, supposedly, last) in the series is set for a November release so I'll likely catch up in time for that. Luckily Carriger has two other series following this one chronologically (although one was written before this) that I'll have so I won't go through the dreaded series withdrawal as badly.

Carolyn G Hart's Mint Julep Murder - # 9 in the Death on Demand series
It's coming to the point where I don't know if I'll ever catch up with this series. Mint Julep Murder is the ninth of (so far) twenty-five and even if I was the type to marathon read series ... I don't think I could with these without pulling some hair out. Oh, don't get me wrong. I love Annie and Max and their regular supporting cast ... but Hart has a tendency to use the same few phrases in every. single. book. over. and. over. and after the first couple they started reading to me like nails on a chalk board. Yes. Yes. I KNOW she owns the best mystery bookstore this side of Atlanta. Yes. Yes. I KNOW her husband is like Joe Hardy all grown up and sexy as blah blah blah. It's a darn good thing that I enjoy the actual stories almost every time. This time? Eh. Made it to the 50% mark not missing a single word but feeling like it was dragging. So I jumped ahead to 62%ish and didn't feel like I had missed anything. Read a couple of screens and jumped ahead to 81% and still ... not much had been missed as far as I could tell. I'll read from here to the end ... then jump to the next book. Whatever that may be ....