Book Review: Jackaby – William Ritter

Title: Jackaby

Author: William Ritter
Synopsis from Goodreads:   

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion–and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

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.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

I picked up this book because I loved the idea of a paranormal Sherlock Holmes, however it took me quite a while to really get invested in this book.  I think that was because this felt more like watching a TV series than  a movie.  As a reader you get a pretty basic idea of the characters and who they were, Jackaby being the easiest since we all know Holmes pretty well, but I didn’t really feel like I got any character depth on any of them.  Jackaby’s character was my favorite because while he did echo all the parts of Sherlock everyone loves, he was very much his own character exhibiting a bit more compassion and personable attributes that Holmes lacked.  I enjoyed the diversity of characters and the legends/theories/stories presented; they made the discovery of ‘who-did-it’ part of the book more enjoyable.  I believe that people who enjoy Sherlock Holmes, and (in my opinion a better comparison than Dr. Who) the TV Series Grimm, this book (series) will have a lot of appeal.

Rated:  PG
Genre: Fiction – Mystery
Rating: 4 Stars

Immortal in Death – J.D. Robb

Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb
Genre: Mystery & Detective
Form: Audio Book
Series: In Death
Narrator: Susan Ericksen

When a top model is murdered, police lieutenant Eve Dallas discovers that the world of high fashion thrives on an all-consuming obsession for youth and fame. One that leads from the runway to the dark underworld of New York City, where drugs can be found to fulfill any desire–for any price. J.D. Robb is the pseudonym of New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts.

One word summary: Riveting
I felt like Immortal in Death ended a few concerns in my mind about Eve and her relationship to Roarke. I just cannot imagine what J. D. Robb continues to write about for another 20 or so books, but I felt like this was a break through for Eve in many ways. Not only does she clear up some questions about the past as her flashbacks all join together into clear memory of what took place when she was a child, but she also comes to some realizations about Roarke and her love and marriage to him. When she explained to Roarke that marriage was not a tradition or a contract, but that it was a promise, and she always kept her promises, I felt the finality of the situation in that statement. I hope I’m not disappointed in the future.
The mystery in this book also took me by surprise. I’m always trying to guess who did it as the investigation proceeds. This is another aspect of these books I love, you get the investigation in detail and it’s wonderful! The description, the thought process, it’s just another mark of what a great writer J. D. Robb (Nora Roberts) really is.

Visions of Sugar Plums – Janet Evanovich

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich
Genre: Adult Fiction

Form: Audio Book

Series: Stephanie Plum

Narrator: Lorelei King

It’s five days before Christmas and things are not looking merry for Fugitive Apprehension Agent Stephanie Plum. She hasn’t got a tree. She hasn’t bought any presents. The malls are jam-packed with staggering shoppers. There’s not a twinkle light anywhere to be seen in her apartment. And there’s a strange man in her kitchen.

Sure, this has happened to Stephanie Plum before. Strangers, weirdos, felons, creeps, and lunatics are always finding their way to her front door. But this guy is different. This guy is mysterious, sexy-and he has his own agenda. His name is Diesel and he is a man on a mission. And Diesel is unlike anyone Stephanie has ever met before in her life. The question is, what does he want with her? Can he help her find a little old toy maker who has skipped out on his bail right before Christmas? Can he survive the Plum family holiday dinner? Can he get Stephanie a tree that doesn’t look like it was grown next to a nuclear power plant? These questions and more are keeping Stephanie awake at night. Not to mention the fact that she needs to find a bunch of nasty elves, her sister Valerie has a Christmas “surprise” for the Plums, her niece Mary Alice doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, and Grandma Mazur has a new stud muffin. So bring out the plastic reindeer, strap on your jingle bells, and get ready to celebrate the holidays-Jersey style. “Visions of Sugar Plums”-the world of Plum has never been merrier.

I’m shocked, a Stephanie Plum I wasn’t too crazy about. I’m not exactly what it was I didn’t care for about this book, except maybe it felt rushed. You never got a good idea of who Diesel was, which I guess could have been purposefully done. He also took on too many Ranger-like qualities, in a mysterious, handsome, “he’s got his ways,” type of way. The action was sub-par as well, and it all seemed, well, cheesy. I’m a big Stephanie Plum fan, but this wasn’t her greatest adventure.

Glory in Death – J. D. Robb

Glory in Death by J.D. Robb
Genre: Adult Mystery & Detective
Form: Audio Book
Series: In Death Series
Narrator: Susan Ericksen

In a time when technology can reveal the darkest of secrets, there’s only one place to hide a crime of passion – in the heart. . . The first victim was found lying on a sidewalk in the rain. The second was murdered in her own apartment building. Police lieutenant Eve Dallas had no problem finding connections between the two crimes. Both victims were beautiful and highly successful women. Their glamorous lives and loves were the talk of the city. And their intimate relations with men of great power and wealth provided Eve with a long list of suspects – including her own lover, Roarke. As a woman, Eve was compelled to trust the man who shared her bed. But as a cop, it was her job to follow every lead . . .to investigate every scandalous rumor . . .to explore every secret passion, no matter how dark. Or how dangerous.

I never would have thought of myself as a crime/mystery book reader, but here I am in love with a mystery series. I’m sure it has a lot to do with the characters, and the world that J.D. Robb has created. It’s amazing to be transformed into a future (yet not all together unbelievable with the way our technology advances) setting. But more than that, the stories created in this series are amazing captivating. You just have to find out what happens. Of course Eve and Roarke’s relationship helps in moving the plot along as well.

Once again, my hat’s off to the narrator, Susan Ericksen. The production of the audio book is wonderful. I love it when you can feel the emotion of the characters, and I must say – when Roarke says “Eve, I love you” in his lovely Irish accent, you can feel it in your toes. There are some books that are just better as an audiobook, and I would hesitate to say that this series is one of them, in fact I think that I would love to sit and read these books – but Susan really makes it a very enjoyable experience.

Naked In Death by J.D. Robb

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
Genre: Adult – Mystery & Detective
Form: Audio Book
Series: In Death

Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she’s seen it all – and knows that her survival depends on her instincts. And she’s going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire – and suspect in Eve’s murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it’s up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about – except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

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This is the beginning of a loooong series that has been recommended to me by several people. I can see why. I like Stephanie Plum, the bounty hunter that accidently get’s her man every time. I like Mackalya Lane – who hunts evil Fae, and with no real training, pulls off some pretty sweet moves. It’s only natural I’m going to like Eve Dallas, the futuristic cop who is the best at the job. I am concerned about the length of the series, and the fact I’m coming in on it so late in the game. On one hand, it’s good – because I don’t have to wait forever for the next book to come out. On the other hand – with over 20 books into the series, there is a chance that I will get bored with it. Plus, I like status quo right now. Roarke made such a great beau for Eve, I don’t want to see that boat rocked, but I can’t see how that will be possible with such a long lasting series.
Naked in Death, and probably the other books in the series – is much more serious and graphic than I am used to. The crimes committed are described in great detail, and you even get to be a witness in some cases. I just hope there is not much more involvement with kids. Having three kids of my own, I’m not really interested in reading about child abuse, murder, etc. It’s just too much for me to handle.
I was really shocked at J.D. Robb’s (aka Nora Roberts) ability to create such a wonderful setting. She has developed an entire new future, one that probably really isn’t that far off the mark. I completely understand the need for a pen name, because this is so very far off the track from what I’ve read out of Nora Roberts in the past. I imagine it’s hard to make such a drastic genre change without some repercussions. Actually, I have seen first hand some of the results of that kind of change in some of the reviews of Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series. Some of her fans picked up the series expecting it to be somewhat reminiscent of her Highlander series, and while the books are excellent (my opinion of course) they are not the same. I think some fans felt a bit duped – and Karen Marie Moning made just a little bit of a change. What Nora Roberts has done is way different from her norm.

I am captivated. I love this look at the future, I love the characters. The writing is great! This will definitely become one of my favorite series – I can tell already.

Seven Up – Janet Evanovich

Seven Up by Janet Evanovich
Genre: Adult Mystery
Form: Audio Book
Series: Stephanie Plum Series

Semi-retired mob guy, Eddie DeChooch, is caught trafficking contraband cigarettes through Trenton, New Jersey. When DeChooch fails to show for a court appearance, bond enforcement agent Stephanie Plum is assigned the task of finding him and dragging his decrepit ass back to jail. Not such an easy job, it turns out, since DeChooch has learned a lot of tricks over the years and isn’t afraid to use his gun. He’s already shot Loretta Ricci and left her for worm food in his shed. He wouldn’t mind shooting Stephanie next.
Likeable losers (and former high school classmates) Walter “MoonMan” Dunphy and Dougie “The Dealer” Kruper have inadvertently become involved with DeChooch. They’ve gotten sucked into an operation which is much more than simple cigarette smuggling and holds risks far greater than anyone could have imagined.
When Dougie disappears, Steph goes into search mode. When Mooner disappears, she calls in the heavy artillery and asks master bounty hunter Ranger for help. Ranger’s price for the job? One night with Stephanie, dusk to dawn. Not information she’d want to share with her some-time live in roommate, vice cop Joe Morelli.
A typical dilemma in the world of Plum.
And on the homefront, Stephanie’s “perfect” sister Valerie has decided to move back to Trenton, bringing her two kids from hell. Grandma Mazur is asking questions about being a lesbian, and Bob, the bulimic dog, is eating everything in sight-including the furniture.
Mud wrestling, motorcycles, fast cars, fast food, and fast men. It’s Seven Up. Absolutely Janet Evanovich at her very best.

My comments:
Love the addition of the Harley, although I just can’t imagine doing bounty hunter stuff, with a two-hundred pounds of “back up” in tow as well. Wonder how long this is going to last…(probably not very, knowing Stephanie). Also…..HELLO Ranger.

Hot Six – Janet Evanovich

Hot Six by Janet Evanovich
Genre: Adult Fiction
Form: Mass Paperback
Series: Stephanie Plum Series

Hot Day
Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is faced with her most daunting task yet: bring in the mysterious former Special Forces agent, Carlose Manoso (aka Ranger). He’s the man who taught her everything about fugitive apprehension, and Stephanie knows she will be testing her skills against the master. But if she does catch him, she’s not so sure she could turn in her friend-even if he’s wanted for murder…

Hot Night
Ant if this isn’t enough to keep her up at night, Grandma Mazur is crimping her sex life by moving in with her and keeping her from getting any action from her cop boyfriend, Joe Morelli. Now, with her love life messing with her head, two threatening goons on her tail, and three corpses – so far – it’s getting a little too hot for Stephaine, who’s search for Ranger is bringing her dangerously close to the wrong side of the law…

Source: back of book

First of all, the synopsis has it wrong. This isn’t her task. She does not take the assignment to bring Ranger in – Joyce Barnhardt has this assignment. But Stephanie, of course, cannot help but be caught in the middle of all the drama. Especially as others involved in this mystery are following HER to find Ranger. Which of course, they are right to – since Ranger somehow finds himself into Stephanie’s apartment on a semi-regular basis. Oh, and we can’t forget the new addition to the Plum series: Bob the dog..the poop-tacular mutt who (of course) eats everything in sight!

Hot Six steps up the Stephanie/Ranger possibilities a bit – bring on another love triangle…will be Team Joe or Team Ranger? Personally – I’d go with Joe. But that’s just me.

High Five – Janet Evanovich Take Two

Take FiveJanet Evanovich
Genre: Adult Fiction
Form: Mass Paperback
Series: Stephanie Plum Series

In her fifth high-octane thriller, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum sets out to find her missing uncle – and along the way smacks slam-bang into: a dead body, a nasty bookie, her stun-gun-toting grandmother, two very sexy men, an angry little man who won’t leave her apartment, and a Mafia wedding…

Jersey’s favorite bounty hunter has never been better! With high hair, street smarts and plenty of attitude, Steph’s sure to nail this case – or risk life and spandex-clad limb trying…

Source: back of book

What can I say? I love these books because Janet Evanovich is awesome. Her writing is not only hilarious, but sexy, suspenseful and fun. I can’t keep giving these books the same review over and over again because – it’s boring to do that, but in reality these books are all funny and great. The sexual tension is there between Stephanie, Joe and now Ranger. Stephanie is always blowing something up (usually cars), messing her hair up, and tumbling with one criminal or another. The thing is, it’s still entertaining. This is why there are so many Stephanie Plum novels out there. Everyone loves to see what antic’s and situations are going to pop up next.

From now on, with the Stephanie Plum books – I’ll probably put it down with the synopsis and may a line or two as a “review.” But this is more just to record that I read or listened to the book than anything. It’s obvious I like these book – you all don’t need to read about it over and over again.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder – Joanne Fluke

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Genre: Adult Mystery
Form: Audio Book
Series: Hannah Swenson Series

Hannah Swenson already has her hands full trying to dodge her mother’s attempts to marry her off while running The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden, Minnesota’s most popular bakery. But once Ron LaSalle, the beloved delivery man from the Cozy Cow Dairy, is found murdered behind her bakery with Hannah’s famous Chocolate Chip Crunchies scattered around him, her life just can’t get any worse. Determined not to let her cookies get a bad reputation, she sets out to track down a killer.

Who would have the sheer audacity and the motive to kill the most punctual delivery man Hannah ever had? Topping the list is the high school football coach. What exactly was his wife doing, making the rounds with the milkman? Could Max Turner, owner of Cozy Cow Dairy, have had a secret he didn’t want to share with his top employee? The more Hannah snoops, the more suspects turn up. Why has Lake Eden’s most prominent prodigal son, Benton Woodley, just resurfaced? And what about the mysterious Mr. Harris who seemed interested in buying the property next to the dairy, but then disappeared? This is one murder that’s starting to leave a very bad taste in Hannah’s mouth. And if she doesn’t watch her back, Hannah’s sweet life may get burned to a crisp.

I bought this book of iTunes because, 1. I didn’t have an audiobook to load onto my iPod, and 2. I was trying to find something similar to the Stephanie Plum series that I would enjoy. I was not overly impressed though. I was excited, and I must admit – this book had me constantly hungry for cookies (big surprise there seeing as how Hannah owns a cookie shop and bakes cookies throughout the entire book.)

There were actually a number of things I didn’t really care for about this book. The characters just didn’t jump out at me. I didn’t feel the need to intimately know any one of them – nor did we get the chance to know any of the characters. The interaction between characters was really just not that great. Another thing I didn’t like was it just wasn’t realistic. Many times people noticed tiny little miniscule details. And I’m not talking CSI agents or anything , I’m talking like mom or sister. It’s highly unlikely someone is going to notice a tiny scratch on a ring in a consignment shop that is identical to the scratch on a ring you saw on the hand of Joe-Schmoe you saw in town. I’m was just too…much. Also, Hannah was WAYYYY more competitant than Bill, her police officer brother who just achieved a certificat or some kind of credential in detective work. Judging from this book, Bill deserves to be fired, and Hannah is one step down from super women.

Hannah’s mom was annoying with her constant husband badgering. Hannah’s sister was just minute she is the anti-mom having her daughter calling her by name, the next minute she’s trying to get all cuddly and win mom of the year award. (Okay, it wasn’t THAT drastic, but it was getting close.)

Did I hate this book? No, not really. I did like the antics with Hannah’s cat. Poor cat is probably the fattest in the world though. I just am not excited, impressed or interested enough to continue through the series, despite the promise of a love triangle (which I admit, did intrigue me….just a little.)