Monday, February 29, 2016

Review: Jackaby

I purchased a copy of Jackaby after seeing it reviewed on several blogs in the same week.  The description of it being a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a quick sell for me since I adore both.

Jackaby himself was immediately likable and in him I recognized little pieces of familiar people/characters.  The attractive eccentricity of Johnny Depp, the quirkiness of Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes, or even the Sherlock Holmes of the TV show "Elementary." Jackaby is odd yet charismatic and quite brilliant.  I was immediately sucked into his world of the supernatural.

Abigail is also attractive in that she is a girl who doesn't conform to the norms for women of the time period. She craves adventure and loathes the mundane, so much so that she runs away with the tuition money her parents gave her in hopes of finding a path of her own.
Looking for work, Abigail and Jackaby meet and she becomes his assistant as he tries to solve a case involving several murders and a suspect with metal shoes.

Supernatural creatures are abundant, both good and evil, and the book runs at a good pace.  It was extremely hard to stop reading and I read it in just a few hours over a couple of days.  If I had the time, I could have easily devoured it in one sitting.  The dynamic between Jackaby and Abigail is perfect and, although there is no romance between these two characters, there is a glimmer of a relationship that might present itself in the future, albeit a bit furry...  The story is a murder mystery and does have its share of blood and gore but it also has some humor and light banter between various characters living in Jackaby's household and I found myself smiling often. They make a nice little family.

Personally, I loved the book and I already bought the second book, Beastly Bones.  I'm looking forward to reading about the next adventure for Jackaby and his friends.

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It's Monday, What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date and is a great place to meet up and share what you have been reading, what you are currently reading and what you are about to read.  It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and add to that ever growing TBR pile! And mine is... ever growing. :)

Last week I read

This week I am reading

Next week I plan to begin


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Review: Happily Ever Ninja

Penny Reid never disappoints. I reluctantly picked up her first book in the Knitting in the City series, Neanderthal Seeks Human, and found myself so engaged that I read it in one evening.  This was a big deal because I don't read chic lit... ever. I was thrilled to find out that it was a series and that I would be able to read about the lives of all of the characters from the first story.  I have loved every book, including this latest one, Happily Ever Ninja, the story of Greg and Fiona, continued from Ninja at First Site (A novella).  It was refreshing to read a "married" romance where many of the daily challenges of marriage and parenthood were completely relatable.  The addition of a subplot with a bit of action and suspense added to my enjoyment of the story.  What really keeps me reading Reid's books however, is the characters.  Each character in the story is so well written and likable that you can't help but invest yourself in their well-being. Plus, as always, the continuous sarcasm and conversational wit has me laughing all the time.  Penny Reid's books are great weekend reads and will instantly lift your spirits if you are feeling down or just looking for something light and fun. Happily Ever Ninja is another winner and I look forward to the next book in the series.

Click on the titles below to see each of the books in order:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Review: The Witches of Cambridge

This book was generously given to me in exchange for an honest review.  I had previously read, and enjoyed, another novel by Menna Van Praag titled, The Dress Shop of Dreams so I knew going into this book that I would likely enjoy it.  As with Praag's previous work, The Witches of Cambridge is more about real life issues than it is about witchcraft.  It is about a group of everyday, normal people who are all connected in some way.  People who have hopes and dreams, who sometimes make mistakes and use their special gifts for the wrong reasons.  I read about friendship, love, longing, and loss and could empathize with each and every character.

Is there witchcraft in the story? Yes.  Most of it fun and light and generally well meaning with just a little taste of the dark and malevolent mixed in to add some spice to the story.  I think my favorite character was Noa in that she was also the most lost.  Her gift? To read the thoughts of others and be brutally honest about what she finds.  She doesn't start out having a lot of friends due to this habit but I think she really grows the most throughout the story and learns a lot about herself and what is really important. I loved her ending as well.  

All of the characters were interesting and I was invested in their stories.  The only negative I have is that it was hard to get to know the characters at the beginning because it jumped from one to the other a bit too quickly for me.  Once I got everyone straight and the story kicked in, I was hooked.  Another success for this Menna Van Pragg.  :)

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

If I Could Make Everyone Read One Book....

As book lovers, we all have a list of books that we want to give to someone and say, "You HAVE to read this!"  I do this often but I find that I only get minimal results.  I get a lot of, "I'm too busy to read," or "I don't really enjoy that kind of book," or, "I'll write it down and check it out later," which again, yields minimal results. Yet, for me, I feel a need for someone else to read that book immediately so I can have a fellow reader with whom to share my elation about the story.  This is one of the reasons I began a book blog in the first place.  I wanted a place to share my reading and to immerse myself in a world where everyone cherishes books as much as I do.  

This week, as I was adding to my TBR list and browsing the usual blogs and social media sites, I kept coming across one of my favorite books of all time.  This is the book I would probably choose if I were to be stranded on a desert island and would read over and over again. A book I would choose if I knew I could only choose one from a library to save from fire or flood.  A book that I will always have on my shelf and never sell or give away.  The book I just bought for my son, handed to him, and said, "You HAVE to read this!"  We will see how that goes...

So, if you haven't already read this book and you are looking for something magical, something written beautifully and that is, in my opinion, completely mesmerizing, I highly recommend this story and hope that you enjoy it as much as I have and will continue to, for a long time to come.

Do you have one book that you feel this way about? 
Which book would you want everyone to read?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Review: What Was Mine

This book is one of our books of winter, given to me generously in exchange for an honest review.  Each time the seasonal book picks are shared, we select the books we would like to read and review for the site.  It is almost always a tough choice because I want to read all of them.  I chose What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross because the synopsis was intriguing.  We hear the heart-wrenching stories of missing or kidnapped children on the news way too often but the news often gives us only a one-sided view of the story. Although I knew this would be an emotional read, I also thought it would be interesting to see how the author gave voices to all those involved, from when the event initially occurred until the conclusion over twenty years later.

Within the first few pages, as the baby is being taken, I found myself on the edge of my seat, full of apprehension as the event unfolded on the pages in front of me.  I was completely able, as a mom myself, to put myself in the position of the slightly frazzled mother, Marilyn, who just stepped away from her baby for a brief moment, but also to empathize with Lucy, a woman who desperately wanted to be a mother but couldn't, who sees this baby alone in a shopping cart in the middle of IKEA and makes an reckless, irrational decision that affects the lives of everyone involved, forever.  

What did I like about the story? Quite a lot actually. In fact, I loved it! It was fast-paced, keeping me deeply absorbed throughout, it was realistically portrayed, completely believable, and I could feel the emotions of the characters to the point of tears on several occasions. The alternating points of view really worked for this book and although Lucy, Mia, and Marilyn were the main three perspectives, other characters with opinions on the event were also represented, even if it was only for a short, two page chapter.  I felt that, although these smaller snippets were only minor characters, their insights gave me a more well-rounded experience of the reactions and emotions of everyone touched by what happened.

I did a lot of thinking during this story.  If any of us were in the situation, what would we do? What decisions would we make compared to the decisions of the characters presented to us? I thought a lot about the themes of love, loss, family, and especially about forgiveness and whether punishment is always the right path. So many factors came into play as we approached the end of the book and not everyone ends up having the same opinions about resolution.  We are left with a few questions and a lot to think about. 

Overall, I felt that the book wrapped up nicely and ended in the perfect spot, where I, as a reader, was left satisfied, and having another favorite author that I will be following.  This was an emotional story but also one that, in my opinion, you should immediately put on your TBR list for 2016. It is definitely a story that you don't want to miss.
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