Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ghostly Echoes ~ William Ritter (earc) review [@Willothewords @AlgonquinYR]

Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3)
Algonquin Young Readers
August 23, 2016
352 pages
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My reviews of Jackaby (#1) and Beastly Bones (#2)

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.

I really, really, really love this series. This third book does a great job keeping true to the characters we got to know in the first two books while also allowing them to grow and develop. Jackaby is still so very Jackaby but we get a few more peeks at just who R.F. Jackaby is (or was) in this third installment - and it definitely left me wanting to know even more!

While it may be a small thing, I was glad to have Jenny talking to Abigail more this book than (at least it seemed) in the first two. It helped me to think of her more as Abigail and not only as Miss Rook. I liked seeing her more settled into life as Jackaby's assistant and seeming a bit more sure of herself and maybe more forthright, too.

It was the perfect time for everything in regards to Jenny's case and their investigation of it to come to a head. Things readers already know that seemed unconnected are worked together with new information (some even new to the characters) for a mystery that's satisfying but keeps you guessing, as well.

There is more of the supernatural world involved in this story and it's great fun seeing what's 'real' in New Fiddleham and with Jackaby and how it either matches with the lore we already know or where it differs.

There was an instance where we receive Jackaby's opinion on a very current (but still relevant during the time of Ghostly Echoes) topic delivered with his usual manner. It's approached differently but you can't deny the logic (and no, I won't say what the what is exactly but I loved the inclusion).

As much as I hate that the fourth book will be the last in this series, Ia m really excited to see how everything all wraps up, to learn ore about Jackaby, Abigail and Jenny, and have one more trip into that world. Ghostly Echoes is another fun, creative, imaginative and smart novel the Jackaby series and a fabulous read.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Unlikely Friendships: Dogs ~ Jennifer S Holland (earc) review [@WorkmanPub]

Unlikely Friendships: Dogs: 37 Stories of Canine Compassion and Courage
Workman Publishing Company
August 23, 2016
248 pages
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A new book from the New York Times bestselling series.

Enhanced with beautiful full-color photographs, these true stories of camaraderie, affection, and remarkable bravery are from the author of the New York Times bestsellers Unlikely Friendships, Unlikely Loves, and Unlikely Heroes, as well as other books and calendars, with nearly two million copies in print.

Meet Rex, a Belgian Malinois who learned to love and trust again through the improbable friendship of a goose. The pit bull named Dolly, whose antics with her best friend, Sheldon the tortoise, include games of tag.

For the millions of dog lovers, this heartwarming and inspirational book celebrates 37 stories of unusual canine companionship.

Unlikely Friendships: Dogs is a great book that shows just how amazing, surprising and loving dgs can be. There are dogs who have helped mother kittens, one who likes hanging with their birds (see the cover), a dog wo looks after a goat and dogs who've helped save lives - of all kinds.

There are a few stories in the book that are more about dogs doing jobs than friendship. They are still amazing and are 'friendships' of a sort, but I mention them because they don't really fit the theme.

A few stories are 'classics' from the other Unlikely books (ie reprinted, exactly, from those earlier books) so if you've read them you may recognize a few animals and their stories. I was still happy to have them included, though.

Aside from the great/humorous/loving/sweet/astounding/beautiful stories about dogs and the, honestly, unlikely friendships they sometimes can form, I loved who was included in this book. Holland's narratives for each story could be cutesy but they seemed to give the best parts of the friends' tale.  What was great was that they were several dog breeds included that I did not know about before. Seeing them here was a great introduction. There was also mention (and usually a brief description) of some rescue organizations, animal welfare groups, service dog trainers that I am glad to now be aware of.

Not all of the friendships in Unlikely Friendships: Dogs have happily ever after endings. I thought that it was very nice that the author still uncluded those. The animal kingdom itself does not always allow for happy endings (in fact, those almost endings are how several friendships began) and to include tales that might include death or (required) separation at some point was appreciated.

digital copy received for review from publisher, via NetGalley

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko ~ Scott Stambach (earc) review [@ScottStambach @StMartinsPress]

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
St Martin's Press
August 09, 2016
336 pages
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The Fault In Our Stars meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Seventeen-year-old Ivan Isaenko is a life-long resident of the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. For the most part, every day is exactly the same for Ivan, which is why he turns everything into a game, manipulating people and events around him for his own amusement.

Until Polina arrives.

She steals his books. She challenges his routine. The nurses like her.

She is exquisite. Soon, he cannot help being drawn to her and the two forge a romance that is tenuous and beautiful and everything they never dared dream of. Before, he survived by being utterly detached from things and people. Now, Ivan wants something more: Ivan wants Polina to live.

"Intellectually, I understand why you should be so odd. I would be strange if I were trapped in this hellhole for a year, let alone however long you've been here. But you are levels of strange I've never met, and I've met strange. Mostly prostitutes and derelicts in Moscow. (pg 169)

Ivan Isaenko is strange. But his whole life is a bit strange, as well. Born following the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion in 1986, its effects impacted Ivan's prenatal development. As it did to many others.

Ivan's life has been a series of days very nearly exactly like the one before. He has a schedule, he knows what to expect.

Until Polina.

She is something different, someone new - which very rarely happens to Ivan. Their relationship is not typical - the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children is not made for romance, Ivan's life doesn't seem made for happy endings, Polina doesn't fit any mold Ivan knows of. Still, something develops.

Ivan's character is different than I imagine anyone's read before. The location and circumstances of his birth, the radiation's effects are just the beginning. They set things up for a character who's at once so unlike you've read before but still very easy to relate to and connect with. Even if you can't truly understand what Ivan's life must be like, he does a great job of telling us, of letting us in, that it seems as if we do.

Despite all that Ivan's already been dealt you don't pity him. You may feel sorry for him, but you don't pity him - he has too much personality,t oo much sarcasm and self awareness for that. (Maybe he just gives readers the same idea of karma that he used to have? [It's pg 38 when you read the book.])

Sometimes, it's hard to believe Ivan isn't somehow odder than hie is, given what his life has bene.

Polina is her own sort of weird, though, too. Through what she shares, you van understand some of why. Her life has been closer to 'normal' but the events that bring her to the hospital, the things she's experienced allow her that connection with Ivan.

This is a world I never quite imagined existing, with a cast of characters I couldn't have put together and a central character, Ivan, not like anyone I've read before. Somehow all of these different or weird or just off things add up to a story readers can really connect with and won't soon forget.

digital copy received for review from publisher, via NetGalley

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

City of Shadows ~ Pippa DaCosta (earc) review [@PippaDaCosta @hooked_books @bloomsburykids #BloomsburySpark]

City of Shadows (London Fae #2)
Bloomsbury Spark
July 07. 2016
ebook only
add to Goodreads/buy from Amazon

**Contains spoilers for London Fae #1 City of Fae**

Alina knows she is not real – the fae queen spun an evil web to create her – but she wants more than to spend her days feeding off humans’ energy to survive. She isn’t content to lose herself in the dangerously attractive Reign. She wants a life of her own making.

Desperate to help the man who saved her life, Alina vows to find his missing sister. Alina is convinced that the general of the Fae Authority plays a part in her disappearance. She infiltrates the organisation and gets close to their strongest fighter. But while Samuel’s tormented soul and masterful touch stirs in Alina a feeling of being human again, her loyalty to Reign makes her Samuel’s enemy. Who should she trust?

This New Adult urban fantasy is packed with action and suspense and will have you yearning for more forbidden fae romance.
City of Shadows is the sequel to last year's City of Fae (my review) where we met Alina, the American Girl and (literal) rockstar fae Reign and learned about the fae in London. Now we know not only about the tenuous coexistence of the fae and humans in London, the rules (Look, but don't touch. Touch, but don't feel. Feel, but never ever love) intended to keep people safe, but about how dangerous the fae can really be.

The queen may no longer be a threat to Alina or Reign, at least physcially, but now ALina also knows the truth of who and what she is. Now it's time to figure out what that means.

If, in that process, she can help Andrews learn the fate of his sister, that's even better.

Normally, if you introduced two main characters in a book then, in the sequel, had one of them all but disappear from the story, I would hate it. It - and Reign's absence from much of the tale - actually works quite well in City of Shadows. It reflects the mindset of the characters and and moves the plot where it needs to go. (Which isn't to say, of course, that he's entirely gone. He's there. Oh, he's there.)

We discover a lot more about Alina (and who-slash-what she is), about the Fae Authority and about why the fae are in London and how many of them feel about it. I really like how her character grows from that out of work, going to prove herself reporter from the beginning of City of Fae to where she is at the end of City of Shadows.

City of Shadows did a great job expanding on the world and characters we were introduced to in City of Fae. It was both bigger and more personal, with Alina's quest to understand herself, to continue. I have a better understanding of who, how and why the fae are in London, who the characters are and who they all are to each other. I am really hoping thre's more of the London Fae series to come!

Other Titles You May Also Enjoy: All that Glows and All that Burns by Ryan Graudin

received, for review, from publisher via NetGalley
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