Young Adult / November 23, 2016

Jackaby #1. Author: William Ritter. Summary: Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane—deny. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: The premise is rather hackneyed. An eccentric detective and his clever assistant, off to solve the crimes even the police fail on? It’s been done before. Kind of a lot. But the paranormal aspect is new, and Ritter’s grasp of mythology is admirable. Rather than going with the cliched paranormals that are everywhere right now, like vampires and werewolves, he’s taken in their lesser-known cousins to weave an unusual murder mystery. And even if cliched, Jackaby was an interesting, amusing, and…

Young Adult / September 5, 2016

Paranormalcy #3. Author: Kiersten White. Summary: In Endlessly, pink-loving, butt-kicking Evie has way too much on her to-do list. Paranormals are begging her to open a faerie gate so they can leave the human world, something Evie’s not sure she has the power to do. The Dark Queen is torturing humans and must be destroyed. On top of all that, Evie’s prom is coming up. She’s not sure what to wear, and, oh, yeah, her shape-shifting boyfriend, Lend, has been cursed so that he falls into an enchanted sleep whenever he and Evie are in the same room…and even Evie’s ex-boyfriend, the faerie Reth, can’t reverse the dark magic. An epic battle is looming, and the choices Evie makes will determine the fate of whole paranormal world—and her own life. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Morally, what Reth does is wrong. He manipulates and lies to Evie, using her for his own purposes. But… yeah, his summary of her behavior when she confronts him is exactly on. As he points out, Evie is more interested in her boyfriend than helping the paranormals of the world. As they beg for the help only she can give them, she whines about how hard…

Young Adult / August 17, 2016

Paranormalcy #2. Author: Kiersten White. Summary: Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be…kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees. But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself. So much for normal. (Published summary.) My Thoughts: Almost nothing happens in this book, especially on-screen. Evie goes to school and complains about how boring normal life is after all; she lies to Lend about any number of things and goes on a couple of dates with him; and gets nearly killed several times in company with Jack, but this is nothing new. I was quite disappointed with the loss of interest. Content Review: Sexual content: Some kissing, mostly off screen….

Young Adult / June 23, 2016

Paranormalcy #1. Author: Kiersten White. Summary: Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours. But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal. (Goodreads summary.) My Thoughts: Let’s do things backward for a change – we’ll start with the ugly, move on to the bad, and then to the good. The Ugly: The fairy. Reth, with his glamor and apparent power to seduce at a single touch, was *extremely* creepy, and not in a good way. The Bad: The plot’s clichéd, the almost-instant-love more so, and the main character far too fluttery. Okay, that was a harsh summation, but I’d say it’s fairly correct. I’m really tired of beautiful main characters falling in ‘love’ mostly over appearances. In their defense, though, they did actually talk together about themselves and their interests. A little. Now, the main character, I think some people will really connect with. It’s a personal…

The Girl With Borrowed Wings
Young Adult / May 16, 2016

Author: Rinsai Rossetti. Summary: Controlled by her father and bound by desert, Frenenqer Paje’s life is tediously the same, until a small act of rebellion explodes her world and she meets a boy, but not just a boy–a Free person, a winged person, a shape-shifter. He has everything Frenenqer doesn’t. No family, no attachments, no rules. At night, he flies them to the far-flung places of their childhoods to retrace their pasts. But when the delicate balance of their friendship threatens to rupture into something more, Frenenqer must confront her isolation, her father, and her very sense of identity, breaking all the rules of her life to become free. My Thoughts: This romance contrasts adventure with familiarity, freedom with safety. It’s not deep, nor life-changing, nor epic. It’s just the story of a boy and girl falling in love, intertwined with the story of a girl trying to escape the walls of abusive authority even as she struggles to understand who she is without those rules. I loved Sangris, wild and laughing and caught, through every aspect. I enjoyed Frenenquer’s voice, with her knack of description and lovely quotes. And I enjoyed the slow development of the romance. Too many…

The Hollow Boy
Young Adult / May 15, 2016

Lockwood & Co. #3. Author: Jonathan Stroud. Summary: Danger is escalating in the haunted world. The bloody footprints and murderous ghosts of their one-off cases are nothing compared to the growing mystery in London, as more and more manifestations cluster throughout the city. But Lockwood, George, and Lucy are up to it – oh, and Holly. Old divisions have been healed, but new rifts are opening in the team. Lockwood has hired an immaculate and completely organized new member, Holly Munro. From the start, she and Lucy simply cannot get along, and it’s dissolving their cohesiveness as a team. Can Lockwood and Co. compete with the major companies, avoid living assassins, solve the London mystery, all while torqueing around the internal tensions in their daily lives? My Thoughts: I did not like this as much as the preceding two. Lucy, formerly a dashing agent with a strong personality who can take care of herself, spends much of the book jealous of Holly. Holly is, frankly, ingratiating and irritating at a couple of parts, but for the most part her only fault is being too well organized and attractive, and spending too much time with Lockwood. Lucy lost a good bit…

The Whispering Skull
Young Adult / May 10, 2016

Lockwood & Co #2. Author: Jonathan Stroud. Summary: Lockwood & Co. hasn’t made much progress, for a rival agency keeps swooping in on their cases. Finally Lockwood makes a deal in exasperation – the next time they have a case in common, whoever solves it first will win, and the other must post a public declaration of inferiority. And soon after, they’re both called in to help excavate a suspicious coffin. Things get strange when it’s robbed the night after and a dangerous mirror stolen – looks like they’re on the hunt. But the team is pulling in different directions, as Lucy is distracted by the whispers of the skull, George has found a new comrade in obsession, and Lockwood is irritated with them both. Can they pull together in time to solve the robbery before more people die? Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: 5 hell, 5 bloody, 2 d*** Violence: Mention of past events where a ghost killed five people, then was destroyed. Character slaps a little girl. Characters find corpse of recently murdered man. Characters open the door at urgent knocking, a man with a knife in his back falls in. Brief sword fight. Explosion set in…

The Siren
Young Adult / May 1, 2016

Author: Kiera Cass. Summary: Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again. Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love with a human breaks the Ocean’s rules. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart. Sexual content: Girl wears revealing dress, a couple men stare at her in bar. Character is aware that a friend-siren has “affairs” with men on land. One kiss. Character reveals to another that she has a daughter, although she was never married. My Thoughts: A kind of cute romance story with an interesting character in the form of the Ocean, but it takes the trend of insta-love over the top. Kahlen has only…

The Screaming Staircase
Young Adult / May 1, 2016

Lockwood & Co #1. Author: Jonathan Stroud. Summary: Lucy Carlyle is a talented teen-agent seeking employment in London. She’s a ghost-killer, one of hundreds who protect the countryside. For fifty years now ghosts have been returning to kill the living, and only the young can sense them. The only agency Lucy can get into turns out to be a small, independent organization with only three agents, called Lockwood & Co. after its head. The agency is already struggling with lack of customers, and when a case goes disastrously wrong, they’re ready to take on anything to climb back up – even the most suspicious of cases. My Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this alternative-history murder mystery. The main character is an independent, intelligent heroine – always a plus – and her companions stand out in their own right. The alt-history is well done, grounding the story solidly in a believable place and time. I’ve seen some reviews complaining about the exposition, but for me the plot seemed fast-paced, with excellent tension. A lot of shivers, and I was careful not to read it too close to the evening. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: 10 hell, 4 bloody, 1 d*** Violence:…