Thursday, August 18, 2016

Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter

This review was written by: C
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: September 2015
Pages: 296
Stars: 4/5

Official Summary:

“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.

First, a vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens, and a day later, their owner is found murdered with a single mysterious puncture wound. Then in nearby Gad’s Valley, now home to the exiled New Fiddleham police detective Charlie Cane, dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Charlie calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

My Thoughts:

William Ritter is back with another tale featuring one of my favorite characters: R. F. Jackaby -- an odd, quirky, eccentric, and unforgettable detective capable of seeing all manor of supernatural entities.

I've had my hands on Beastly Bones for  quite some time now. However, with series that I love, I tend to put off reading the next installment until the book following the one in my possession is almost ready to be published. It's kind of my fail-safe to make sure that I won't be kept hanging at the end of a book. And if I am, I will have the next book available fairly soon. Not to mention, it keeps the story fresh in my mind when going to read the next installment (which usually helps me determine how well the story was written and if it progressed forward in a positive way). I wasn't disappointed by choosing to wait to read Beastly Bones, and now I can't wait to start the third book!

After completing Jackaby (the first book in the series), I was hoping that Ritter would be capable of retaining the amazing personality of the character Jackaby that I fell in love with in the first book -- and I was so happy that he did! There was no shortness of Jackaby-esque humor and hilarious comments that most take offense to, but, in Jackaby's mind, they are nothing more than his simple opinion. For example, there's a conversation between Jackaby and a character named Charlie, who also happens to possess the gift of turning into a large dog:

“Charlie helped with the dig as well?"Jackaby said.
Charlie nodded.
"Surprising-I should think that unburying bones would go against generations of instinct to do just the opposite, wouldn't it? Ouch! Watch your step in the dark, Miss Rook-you just kicked my shin. Where was I? Right-I was saying that coming from a family of dogs-ouch! You've done it again, rather hard that time. Really, the path isn't even bumpy here.” 

Abigail/Miss Rook does attempt to keep Jackaby's mouth in line, but he can be utterly oblivious as to how his words may impact another. This just adds great humor to the story, and it's one of the best perks to Jackaby's character.

Even though Jackaby's personality was left intact, I do feel that the character was a bit distant to the plot and story itself. Jackaby and Beastly Bones are both told from Abigail's perspective, but Jackaby seemed to play a less pertinent role in this installment than he did in the first book. This was a bit of a disappointment. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy Abigail as a character, but I feel that Jackaby should have played a more important role, especially due to the fact that the books revolve around Jackaby's supernatural cases and his gift of "seeing beyond the veil." 

A lot of reviewers did complain that the plot was a bit boring, and although it may not have been as spectacular as the plot explored in the first book, I don't think it was terrible. I like the fact that dragons and their lore were introduced. So, while some reviewers grumbled that the story was nothing but digging, I feel as if this isn't true. In fact, Jenny Cavanaugh's past and current ghostly state are explored, and it seemed that Beastly Bones was examining Jenny a bit more in order to set up the plot for the third book: Ghostly Echoes

A supporting character named Hank Hudson is also introduced. He is an old friend of Jackaby, and he seems to be a character that's modeled after Hagrid (from Harry Potter) -- they are both depicted as very large and hairy men who love all manor of spectacular, magical beasts. The only difference is that Hudson enjoys hunting and collecting large and supernatural game. In the end, Hudson seemed to be a bit of an archetype, and while I don't mind some archetypes, Hudson was just a little too typical.

In the end, I enjoyed the story even though there were some aspects that left me a bit disappointed. Plus, I am consoled by the fact that Jenny's murderer will hopefully be revealed. And the most exciting aspect is that Jackaby's very own Moriarty may have just been introduced in Beastly Bones! What's a supernatural detective without his ultimate rival?!

Without further adieu, I shall leave you with some advice from Jackaby:

“So often,” Jackaby said, “people think that when we arrive at a crossroads, we can choose only one path, but—as I have often and articulately postulated—people are stupid. We’re not walking the path. We are the path. We are all of the roads and all of the intersections. Of course you can choose both.” 

SPOILER -- Major plot spoiler! Read at your own risk! 
You have been warned! 
The only major disappointment was that the living and breathing dragon wasn't really a dragon at all. I really had my hopes up that they weren't as extinct as Jackaby had originally thought. Ritter did dash my hopes in this regard.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

The Devil's Dreamcatcher (The Devil's #2) by Donna Hosie

This review was written by: C
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: May 2015
Pages: 261
Stars: 4.5/5

Official Summary:

Hell is full of thieves. But only one has dared to rob The Devil.

The Devil’s accounting office is hiring an intern, and sixteen-year-old Medusa Pallister wants the job. Badly. Not only would she report to the coolest boss in the Underworld, she’d also be working alongside Mitchell Johnson, who, she’s certain, is the key to solving a mystery that’s been haunting her since her death.

Landing the internship is easy, but answers about her past will have to wait. Medusa has barely made Mitchell’s acquaintance when Hell goes into lockdown. Someone has robbed The Devil of his most precious possession: a dreamcatcher so powerful it could be apocalyptic in the wrong hands.

In this gripping sequel to The Devil’s Intern, Team DEVIL reunites for a quest for stolen property that will lead Medusa to a showdown that no one, not even The Devil himself, could have foreseen.

My Thoughts:

With The Devil’s Dreamcatcher, Donna has brought us a new and exciting adventure featuring the one and only Team DEVIL!

Although Mitchell, Elinor, and Alfarin were capable of altering Medusa’s past, death still claimed her at a very young age. Thus, she has been in Hell for 40+ years. However, dying twice has made Medusa special, and she often remembers bits and pieces from the first timeline in which she existed. Medusa is also attempting to work her way up in Hell and applies for an intern position that will enable her to work alongside Mitchell Johnson – whom she feels is quite familiar.

Once easily attaining the position, Medusa joins Team DEVIL and meets up with all of her old friends. However, their reunion doesn’t go quite as expected, especially due to the fact that Medusa’s stepfather, Rory Hunter (also known as the Unspeakable), has escaped from the nine circles of Hell and stolen The Devil’s Dreamcatcher. Septimus entrusts Team DEVIL with the Viciseometer in order to track Rory through time, capture The Devil’s Dreamcatcher, and bring it back to Hell. There’s only one slight hitch, they are all pawns in a complicated game and there is one powerful individual who has even betrayed Septimus, one of Hell’s most feared devils.

After reading The Devil’s Intern, I wasn’t sure how Donna would expand the world that was introduced to us. There are many series that decline in world building after the first installment, and Hosie already explored time travel and Hell itself. However, she was able to expand the world of Team DEVIL for the better, and I almost feel as if The Devil’s Dreamcatcher is better than her first book!

It was also brilliant of her to introduce Team ANGEL, those sent from Up There in order to capture The Devil’s Dreamcatcher for Heaven. The devils have to learn how to work with the divine beings and take back that which belongs to the ruler of Hell. The chemistry between the two groups was amazing, and Donna knew just how to add the right amount of humor at the most opportune times. I absolutely loved the comedy from the first book, and I am so glad that she was able to carry this over in the second book. Let me give you a little example of one particular part of the book that made me laugh out loud. Within the following conversation, the members of Team DEVIL are joking about what form of torture their own fictional circle of Hell would possess, and Alfarin gave a humorous response:

“Mine would be having to wear those garments called underpants,” says Alfarin. “My manly parts cannot be constricted. It affects my appetite.”
“Well, that is an image I did not need in my brain, Alfarin.” Scolds Elinor, standing up. 

Plus, there was so much more lore to be explored. The reader learns about the original Dreamcatcher, what other worlds exist besides Earth, Heaven, and Hell, and what powers angels and devils may possess when they exist outside of their respective domains. There were so many new and exciting aspects introduced into this world, and they all made the story so exciting and fast-paced. The only complaint that I have would be the first bit of the book. It just seemed a little slow at first, and the story is told from Medusa’s perspective, as well. Mitchell is by far my favorite character, so it admittedly took a bit of getting used to seeing events unfold from Medusa’s viewpoint. However, the story picked right up once the Dreamcatcher was stolen and Team DEVIL was introduced to Team ANGEL. All-in-all, this is a read you don’t want to miss!

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