Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) by William Ritter

This review was written by: C
Received: Publisher (Algonquin Young Readers)
Date of Publication: August 2016
Pages: 341
Stars: 5/5

Official Summary:

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancĂ©, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

My Thoughts:

“The real powers at play never take center stage. Don't follow the marionette, follow the strings.” 
― Jackaby

I have to say that Jackaby has become one of my favorite mystery/historical/fantasy YA series ever. There is just so much to experience with each new installment. There's more to discover, fiercer challenges to face, and a whole lot of that Jackaby attitude that I love! He is simply one of those characters that you can't help but fall in love with from the very beginning. He possesses so much knowledge and insight in various situations involving the magical and fantastical, but he can be quite daft when it comes to social interactions, social norms, and common courtesy. It just makes him so damn lovable! For example:

“Bertram!” Jackaby patted him on the arm affably as he bustled past him into the front hall. “It’s been ages, how are the kids?” 
“I remain unmarried, Mr. Jackaby, and I’m afraid you can’t be seen just now.” 
“Nonsense. Miss Rook, can you see me?” 
“Certainly, sir.” 
“Well, there you have it. You must have your eyes checked, Bertram.” 

As you can see, Ritter truly knows how to craft a humorous conversation. Anyway, Ghostly Echoes continues the tale of Jackaby and Abigail, but so much more is revealed about Jenny, her death, her tragic past, and ghostly powers. I thoroughly enjoyed her character development and emotional journey. However, you don't only learn about Jenny's past, but Jackaby's as well. We finally get a better idea of his gift and the individual who previously possessed it.

I have to say that this third installment was much darker than the previous two (I feel as though the second book was the lightest of the three), and I think it just made the story even better. There is also quite a bit more magic in the mix as well as science. Ritter does such a great job of blending the two, but I did feel as though the magic took center stage in this volume, and the occurrences involving magic were a bit more out there than in the previous novels. Without spoiling too much, I'll just say that various other realms aside from our own were explored.

I was also super excited to find answers to many questions that have come about from the first two books, and the grand scheme/plot of the series is coming to light. Although, this did result in more questions arising, and I still can't believe that there is only one installment left! Jackaby is such an amazing character and I don't want his remarkable story to be over just yet.

Most of all, I adored Jackaby's moments of brilliance and wisdom and Abigail's, too. There are so many quotable moments, but there was one in particular that stood out to me. While Jackaby and Abigail were out and about, they came across an individual that was transgender and being picked upon by a larger group. Jackaby didn't even register the character's outward  male appearance and automatically began to refer to the person as she. I thought that Ritter's addition of this scene was touching and profound, and I am so glad that an interesting LGBTQ+ character has been introduced. Anyway, there was one quote that referenced this individual that stood out to me:

There are lots of people out there who are terribly hateful. She could avoid a whole lot of trouble and dress and act as they want her to, but she chooses to be herself. That's brave. Also - the last time we met she stopped Jackaby from hurting the men who hurt her. They might have killed her. Kindness is an act of bravery. I think, just as hatred is an act of fear. I sure can appreciate that not all strength is muscle, Mr. Finstern. She has a strong spirit, and I believe she is brave about the way she chooses to use it.”

All I can say, is that this series is a must read. It blends so many genres (history, fantasy, paranormal, detective/mystery) that there is bound to be something for everyone. So, I shall leave you with one last quote from Ghostly Echoes:

“There is something humbling about knowing that an entity capable of moving mountains and reshaping continents still takes the time to tend to the smallest patch of dirt. Little things matter. Footsteps matter.” 
― William Ritter, Ghostly Echoes

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Sammie Street Adventures: Stormy Saturday by Jennifer Blyth


This review was written by: C
Received: Ebook from Author for Review
Date of Publication: Dec 14, 2015
Pages: 49
 Stars: 4/5

Official Summary:

A terrible storm keeps siblings Braydon and Brooklynn stuck at home. Does this stop their fun? No way! With the use of their imagination, these kids set out on all kinds of adventures inside their blue house on Sammie Street.

It was just a typical Saturday, or so it would seem.

Braydon sets the pace in his bedroom by teaching Brooklynn how to turn a normal pile of clothes into a grand adventure where they climb Mount Clothia, but things spin out of control for these two in the Flying Forest. Afterward, the pair travels down to the Whispering Waterfalls, where Braydon and Brooklynn show off their bravery. Something bad happens when Mom loses her ring, but the kids offer to help find it. The siblings head off in search of the missing ring and make some new friends while searching in Jolly Jungle. These kids enjoy one of the best days of their lives stuck inside on an awful rainy day.

Do you want to know how? Do you want to try?

Well then, get comfy, pick up this book, and start turning the pages as you follow along. An adventure is at your fingertips.

My Thoughts:

Imagination is such an important aspect of any childhood, and I am so glad to have been given the opportunity to read a book that puts it front and center! My favorite aspect would have to be how the characters were able to remain part of fantastical adventures that stemmed from ordinary things found within their own home. It opens a child's eyes to the magic that can exist around them and the fact that there are no limitations, aside from what you are able to bring to life with your own creativity and passion. The Giggling Guardians were definitely a nice touch, as they were cute and adorable additions.

The illustrations were also enjoyable and Blyth was able to bring an engaging manor forth through her writing. Thus, her voice came across beautifully, and I believe that young readers will enjoy her style and the story's positive energy.

The only suggestion that I have would be that readers around or above the age of five may enjoy this story more so than those four or younger. In my experience, longer sections of text in books like this one might be a bit more difficult for younger readers to sit through. However, the story is truly enjoyable and you should give it a try if you think it might be something that your child would be interested in.

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