Review: ‘Jackaby’

Hello! I saw this book while scrolling through my library’s digital collection and really loved the cover. I thought it was intriguing from the blurb and decided to check it out.
Title: Jackaby

Author: William Ritter

Series: Jackaby

Rating: 3/5 stars

Summary

Mystery? The supernatural? A zany dude? Check, check and check. This book is a retelling of the classic Sherlock Holmes story, with a female Watson at Sherlock’s side. Sherlock is named Jackaby in this version and Watson is named Abigail, who has recently come to New England in order to escape her parents. She is met with the zany Jackaby on the street one day and finds out he is looking for an investigative assistant, a job which she jumps for because nowhere else in the new town is anyone hiring. Abigail had no idea what she was getting herself into.

Likes

This book was fun. I felt it was a fun read that kept me interested in reading more. I love the show Sherlock and I have read another Sherlock retelling in the past. I find mysteries to be a genre that I am usually not interested in but this book had such a cool mystery! The retelling part of this book was the fact that Jackaby is a seer and he can see paranormal and supernatural beings that commit some of the crimes he investigates. In this story, that is no different, and the two are on a hunt for a serial killer in their small town. The characters all have parallels to Sherlock Holmes, and Jackaby is an unofficial partner with the police. I thought Jackaby’s character was very entertaining. He acted very much like Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock portrayal and he was simply hilarious. His deductions were very calculated but sometimes he would just basically talk to himself because his thoughts were going a million miles a minute. He certainly was an interesting part of this story that complimented Abigial very well. She was intelligent and inquisitive, learning both about investigating and the paranormal while assisting Jackaby on the cases at hand.

Dislikes

I didn’t like that this book was a little scatterbrained for me and I really wanted to know more about the supernatural beings. They were touched on slightly but I wanted in-depth descriptions of them in relation to the case. I have to say the twist of the killer did keep me on the edge of my seat and I didn’t guess it until it actually happened in the book. I liked the idea of having paranormal beings being the killer and it was an interesting take on Sherlock. My rating reflects that I was pretty indifferent to the book but I would definitely read the second with how the first one ended.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to fans of Sherlock or mysteries. It’s fresh and new and I even think that it has a little bit of Doctor Who elements in it, with the supernatural aspect of it.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘Every Last Word’

Hi! Mental health month is in May but I saw this book recommended on Twitter as part of mental health reads. After my month of LGBT reads, I figured that I wanted to try some that deal with mental health. Mental health is something personal for me, both because of my own experience as well as my career as a counselor, which I am studying for.
Title: Every Last Word

Author: Tamara Ireland Stone

Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary

This book truly hit me hard. I was lucky that my library had a digital copy and I downloaded it to start reading right away. But wow, this is a really ‘real’ book and it made my heart hurt and soar at the same time. The book follows Samanatha (or Sam), who struggles with anxiety and OCD. She goes through high school with a really terrible group of friends but meets a girl named Caroline, who introduces her to a new group of friends and the art of poetry.

Likes

I think my favorite thing about this book was that it told it like it is. It didn’t sugarcoat what anxiety was like and it showed the everyday manifestations of the mental illness. Additionally, it chronicles Sam’s therapy sessions which I think is so important for young people to read. Many are still plagued by the idea of mental illness being a stigma and that getting help means that they’re crazy. It doesn’t! It means that they’re strong enough to realize they need help to get better and cannot do it on their own. I have recently been shown that anxiety is the root and why I do many things that I do, and why I am the way that I am. For so long, I thought I didn’t have anxiety to that level, but once I accepted I did, I was able to deal with it so much better. I am not on medication or have severe anxiety (I like to call it ‘high functioning anxiety’) but I related to Sam in a way that I really needed to have years ago. Sam’s character truly made this book everything it needed to be for me and I can’t stress enough how beautifully written she is as a character.

(Dis)likes

There isn’t anything I didn’t like about this book. While it is a contemporary, it is told in a way that keeps you intrigued and there are some twists in this book that I wasn’t expecting at all! I also found it interesting that it depicted Sam’s mother a lot in the book and she was trained by Sam’s therapist on how to deal with Sam’s anxiety attacks, when they happen. It made me think about how I want to handle my own mental health practice some day and I feel that this is such an important asset. Parents often don’t know how to deal with their child’s mental illness or developmental disability–not at their own fault, but because some therapists just don’t teach them or think it’s important to. After reading this book, I agree that it is, and I would go on to suggest teaching small things to best friends so that if the parent isn’t there, they can help as well.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to anyone struggling with anxiety, mental illness of any kind, or if someone you know is dealing with mental illness. It gives useful insights into how it really affects a person’s life daily and can help identify warning signs that someone needs some support.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘The Queen of the Tearling’

I remember picking this book up when I was a teenager and being so intimidated by the density of the book. I actually didn’t read it back then and I recently saw the new cover and binding at my library so I decided to give it another try.

 
Title: The Queen of the Tearling

Author: Erika Johansen

Series: The Queen of the Tearling

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Summary

I was surprised by this book. I had heard that it was super detailed and dense and very hard to get through. Nevertheless, I decided to read it. The book follows the story of Queen Kelsea, who is the newly appointing queen of the Tearling. Her mother, the previous queen, has died and it is time for her to take her rightful place on the throne as she comes of age. It chronicles her journey to her Keep and all that happens within the walls of her castle.

Likes

I found that I actually really liked Queen Kelsea as a character. I found that she was a strong and just ruler, one that wanted to undo all of the horrible things that her mother did. Of course, these things were only done in order to keep the kingdom safe, but Kelsea is more about being a just and free ruler, and wants to provide the best of care to her citizens. I thought that it was an interesting touch to have her learn sword fighting and realize that there were many threats upon her life. This book also uses a sort of alternate world, where the setting is New Europe and the occupation of land is New London. It wasn’t examined too much but the areas had been renamed and Kelsea’s territory was the Tearling. I also found that this book was a lot like Game of Thrones. I love GoT, so I was pleased with it, but the storyline had similar elements.

Dislikes

Also like Game of Thrones, this book was VERY DENSE. People aren’t lying when they say that. There is a lot of description and there is a lot of added wordiness that kind of makes the novel drag on. I felt like the story moved at a fairly good pace but the ‘dragging on’ I reference is to detailed descriptions of scenes that really don’t make a difference to the book as a whole. I am personally not a fan of this, as I think I mentioned in the past, but it does paint a super clear image. I also found that the threat of the other queen trying to take over wasn’t that… Scary? Pressing? I don’t really know the word to describe it. She was told as this horrible ruler who demands this and that, but when it came to the actual scenes with her, I was let down. I think the second book delves into her a little more (It is called Invasion of the Tearling) and I might read it to find out a little more about this other queen (named the Red Queen).

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to fans of Game of Thrones. That is the closest thing I can relate it to and I think that it will please these fans very much. I also heard that once upon a time, Emma Watson was to star in a movie based on this book… But I haven’t heard anything about it lately! I think she would make a fantastic Kelsea!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘Soundless’

I LOVE Richelle Mead. I read all of the Vampire Academy books within a week a few years ago. I remember my parents had to keep taking me to the library because I devoured them so fast. I also read some of her spinoff series, Bloodlines, and enjoyed that as well because Adrian is AMAZING. But how did I feel about this book?

 
Title: Soundless

Author: Richelle Mead

Series: Standalone

Rating: 2/5 stars

Summary

I didn’t like this book. And I was so surprised because I have loved everything else that Richelle has written. This just didn’t grip me and didn’t leave me wanting more. The book is about a group of people living on the top of a mountain. They are all deaf and some have even begun to lose their eyesight. Nobody knows why but they all accept that it is a part of their life. Many work in a mine and send metal down to the village at the bottom of the mountain, and then food is sent up in exhange for what they produce. Two villagers, our main character Fei as well as another man Lei, dislike this system and journey down the mountain to find out the truth.

Likes

First, what I did like was the general landscape that was painted. Richelle does a very good job of explaining setting so that you are truly immersed in a story. I felt like I was on that mountain with those people and I felt their pain as well. The book was very emotional at points because you really felt for the people on that mountain and you wanted to help them just as Lei tries to do. I also found the unique representation of those who are deaf to be interesting in this book. 99% of this book has no spoken word in it, just italicized sentences that stood for the signing the characters used to communicate. I haven’t read a book in the past that has had deaf characters in it so while I thought that was interesting to have, there is another reason for their deafness, which is a little strange.

Dislikes

Now to what I didn’t like about this book. The characters weren’t powerful enough for me to fall in love with them. They carried the main summary of the story but they didn’t make me swoon and didn’t make me have strong emotional reactions to what they did–those were reserved for the harsh plot points. I also didn’t find the love story in this book to be that compelling. After reading other books by this author, I had higher expectations for the main male lead and thought that the love story would play more of a part. That is just an opinion and my comparison to other books by this author, but I think the love story was unnecessary in this book. The story is tragic, and heartbreaking, but I think it was meant to be that way in order to strike a chord. I also thought that there would be more elements of Asian culture in this story. I think I sort of expected it with the setting of the book and I enjoy learning about new cultures, so it was a disappointment on my end.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to someone who isn’t afraid of a ‘real’ story that has an optimistic ending. I am sure that in other terms, events like this have happened throughout history. It is painful and raw, which is also something I would use to describe this book.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘Invictus’

OH MY GOD. I randomly got this book while giving a secret password at the Hachette booth at BookCon. I received the Cruel Prince and then saw this book lying there and asked if I could take a copy… I am so happy the lady said yes!!!!

 
Title: Invictus

Author: Ryan Graudin

Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5 stars

Pub date: September 26, 2017

I received this book as an ARC from BookCon. This is an honest review.

Summary

Wow. Honestly, I didn’t even know what this book was about when I picked it up. I just loved the cover and had heard people getting it at BEA, so I figured it was probably a good read. I read the blurb and found that it said it was a mixture of Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy… WHAAAT? That caught my eye right away and I dove into this book headfirst, which is honestly the only way to dive into this book. This story follows Far, a boy from the future that is trying his hand at theiving and time travel. Yeah, they TIME TRAVEL in this book. His ship is called Invictus, and along with his crew and a new unlikely guest, they fight to stop time from destroying itself.

Likes

Okay I know you’re probably overwhelmed with that whole summary. But, seriously, this book was amazing. I fell in love with the the characters and the story and I desperately wish this was a series because I would pick up the sequel in a heartbeat. The main reason I loved this book was because of the story. It was just so unique and enthralling and there were plenty of historical elements to the book, including the Titanic, old France and Rome. I found this historical elements fitting into the story perfectly and who doesn’t love a little time travel? There are also a few Doctor Who references in this book, including the use of blue box as a sort of exclamation. Oh, I should mention: there are a few made-up swears in this book that are kind of adorable and I love them. The second thing I loved about this book were the characters. I have to say my favorite was Imogen. I related to her awkwardness and need for fantasy hair (mine is ombré dark pink!). She was also one of the smartest people on the Invictus crew and she dazzled everyone with her historical knowledge, which they needed to effectively complete missions without detection.

(Dis)likes

There isn’t much I disliked about this book. It was a pretty long one, rounding out at about 450 pages in the ARC copy. I didn’t feel like it was rushed and I felt that all of my questions were answered by the end of the book. Again, I wish that there were more books coming because the story was so unique and fascinating, but it’s okay. I will definitely be checking out more of Ryan’s books!

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves Doctor Who, or time travel, or anyone who wants a great read. It was so fantastic to have a great book after a little bit of a book depression (I DNF’d a couple of books yesterday ):) and be lifted up by this fantastic tale.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘The Darkest Part of the Forest’

Well. Here I am, trying another Holly Black book. Because I want to like her books, I really do.

 
Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest

Author: Holly Black

Series: Standalone

Rating: 2/5 stars

Summary

I… Didn’t like this book. At all. If it was longer, I would have not finished it (DNF’d, in reviewer terms). It was ~170 pages so I figured I would suffer through it and try to get myself to like it. But I just couldn’t. This story follows Hazel and Ben, who wake up a faerie prince and then some serious stuff goes down in the rest of the book.

Likes

I will say I gave this book 2 stars because I did see the potential it had and I liked the plot of the book. I thought it was interesting to have a town plagued by faeries, who think faeries are real, and make deals with them on occasion. I thought having the faerie Prince rise was a neat idea and to have the characters stop this beast that awakens as well. Ben is also eventually revealed to be gay in this book and I also liked that because it was very gradual and felt very real when dealing with the other characters’ reactions. I felt this book was for younger readers (more on that later) and if more young people read this book, I think they could relate to Ben if they are also struggling with the coming out process or exploring their sexuality.

Dislikes

Now, to what I didn’t like. I feel this book moved way. Too. Fast. It was only ~170 pages and so much happened that my head spun. I think elaborating a bit would have made it much more enjoyable and I would have been able to feel like I was in that forest, with the characters, instead of just seeing a quick summary of what happened. I also did not really care for the writing. I have read other Holly Black books in the past and I didn’t like one of them (Coldest Girl in Coldtown) but I liked her Curse Workers series A LOT. I think that series had more of an adult/YA feel to it and this seemed very middle grade to me. I Googled it to make sure it wasn’t, and it’s in teen/YA on Amazon, so I just didn’t get that feel. I also have a ton of unanswered questions because the book is so short and hurried, that I would have loved to find out the answers to and had a little bit more elaboration and detail.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to younger readers, probably not past 12-13. I think if you enjoy a quick and painless read then this would also be a book that you would like to pick up!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘Words In Deep Blue’

Words in Deep Blue is the perfect summer read to take to the beach or read poolside. If you love books (I’m going to assume you do), this book is for you.

Title: Words In Deep Blue
Author: Cath Crowley
Series: n/a – Standalone
Rating: 3/5 stars

This story takes place in Australia, which, if you know anything about the author Cath Crowley, will make sense – since she is Australian. I didn’t know this going into the book so it was a delightful surprise when I listened to the audiobook and immediately heard Australian accents rather then American ones I’m used to! Happy surprise! Personally I think this is a book better read rather then listened to – there were specific parts I liked, but if you can, I’d recommend reading this one over listening to it.

It’s told in dual perspectives – best friends since childhood Rachel and Henry – and told via letters. The main setting is a bookstore owned by Henry’s family called Howling Books. Inside the store is a “letter library” – books that aren’t for sale, but that customers can write notes in, underline their favorite passages, or leave letters in for someone else to find. Throughout this story, the characters all leave letters to each other in specific books and they write back to each other. Now you may be wondering, why write letters when you could talk face to face? Sometimes things you can’t say in person can be said better when written down. I really liked this concept and wish I knew a bookstore in real life that had a “letter library” (if there is one that exists, please let me know!)

This is a story about book lovers, for book lovers. Many well-known books are mentioned through this story and it’s fun to hear what the characters each think about the books or what meaning it might have to them. This is about how even if things seem like they’re falling apart, sometimes you can find comfort in the books and the people already around you if you just ask – and sometimes writing a letter will help.

But at the end of the day, the story isn’t about just the books. It’s about the people who read them and the notes and letters they leave behind. It’s an imprint of themselves and of a moment in time – and that’s what will stick with me from reading this book.

Overall this was an enjoyable summer read and if you’re looking for a contemporary book, I would recommend this one. Its fast paced and leaves you smiling and feeling for these characters.

~Missy