Book Review – Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter

Hello again Blogland!

Yesterday ended up being very productive. I wrote the Interlude for From the Quorum from start to finish, wrapping it at 3,508 words. For the time I sat writing, that was extremely productive. This book is writing itself!

Beyond that, I also finished reading all the installments of Locke & Key, as well as Low, vol. 1. That’s all the graphic novels I had checked out, so I get to return a bunch of items to the library today and move on to reading Arcanum Unbounded, which I’ve put off for far too long.

But, before I get too wrapped up in that, let’s talk about Ghostly Echoes. Beware the spoilers!ghostly-echoes

This was the largest of the three Jackaby books so far. The other two were under 300 pages, but this one had 352. And that’s because there’s a lot happening.

The book opens with Jenny and Abigail experimenting with possession. Yep. You read that right. Now, most of us sane folk would say, “that’s a terrible idea.” And it is. But, Abigail adores Jenny and wants to help her anyway she can. Even if that means subjecting herself to the disorienting and painful process of letting her friend take over her body.

But, the catch is, that when Jenny is in Abigail’s body, Abigail has access to Jenny’s memories. That’s really useful since Jenny can’t actually remember the circumstances of her death.

That’s the case they’re working on, by the way. Jenny’s murder.

Well, as they investigate they learn that Jenny’s murder is tied into the string of murders from the last book, and it’s all one big case. Add in some political ties, and this book gets interesting fast!

Charlie arrives out of concern for Abigail’s safety as she tackles this enormous case with Jackaby, much to her delight. I was a little bummed because he’s not very critical to the story. I mean, he plays an important role, but he doesn’t get as much screen time as I’d like.

So, all kinds of crazy things happen in this book. Possession, Abigail throws a brick in a vampire’s face, forcefully pushing him from their home, they cross into the Anwynn, a place between life and death, and Abigail is the one chosen to cross the river Styx to try and find a particular spirit that could help them solve the case.

jackaby-with-quote
Except, she doesn’t find who she expects, but Jenny’s fiancé.

Yeah, this book is all over the place. But, when you’re reading it everything makes sense. It’s only in this summation that I see how wild some of these events are, but I ain’t even mad. This book was fast-paced fun!

Anyway, they learn that a group known as The Dire Council is behind all these deaths, and that they’re trying to create some sort of enormous scientific device, that has something to do with energies. And while Jackaby and Co., catch the main murderer, a henchman for the Council, they are no closer to actually thwarting their dastardly plan.

And that’s where the book leaves off. The next (and final) book is titled The Dire King, and I am ready for it now! I don’t want to wait until August!

Now, my favorite aspects of this book are Abigail’s newfound confidence. She loves these people she’s met and built a new life with, and she feels empowered by them to do anything for them. It’s a good look on her.

I also really loved the tender moments where Jackaby opens up about himself. There’s a lot of Jackaby’s history in this book, because The Dire Council needs him to complete their device. And so the history of how he acquired the Sight and how he coped with that gets fleshed out a bit. I loved it! He’s also more vulnerable in this book than in the others, because of his concern for Jenny. He’s hesitant to solve her case because he doesn’t want her business to be finished. He doesn’t want her to leave.

douglas-and-jenny
Two of Jackaby’s companions

It’s not like Jackaby has a lot of friends.

There was a moment in the book that, while not critical to the plot, was really powerful for me. Early in the novel Abigail and Jackaby come across a transgender woman being attacked. They stave off her attackers and get her home, Jackaby never faltering in calling her ‘her’ and treating her with respect. Abigail does her best, but she’s a little bewildered by the encounter.

When she asks Jackaby if Miss Lee was, in fact, a man, Jackaby’s response is perfect.

“‘Underneath she was herself- as are we all. Lydia Lee is as much a lady as you or Jenny or anyone. I imagine a midwife or attending doctor probably had another opinion on the matter, but it only goes to show what doctors really know’

‘Shouldn’t a doctor be able to tell at least that much?’

Jackaby’s expression clouded darkly. ‘I have great respect for the medical profession, Miss Rook,’ he said soberly, ‘but it is not for doctors to tell us who we are.'”

It struck me as immensely profound, coming from this man who most doctors would label insane. And a true representation of his character that he would stand up for Lydia Lee and defend her in a manner less defensive and more educational, even to Abigail.

I love this eccentric, fictional man. A shame I have to wait all summer to see what happens…

You probably won’t hear from me again this weekend, but I’ll see you all on Monday!

 

BZ

Book Review – Beastly Bones by William Ritter

Hello, Blogland.

I’ve been a busy little reader these last few days, and have completed both Jackaby novels, as well as a few installments of Locke & Key. Pop over to the “What I’m Reading” page to get a full update.

Today we’re here to discuss the second novel in the Jackaby series, Beastly Bones. If you’ve not read my review of Jackaby, now would be the time.

beastly-bonesIn this installment, Abigail and Jackaby find themselves on a case in Gad’s Valley, which is lovely since that’s where Charlie Barker, formerly Charlie Cane, now resides. There’s been a string of murders, seemingly unrelated save for a peculiar wound to the neck: a single puncture surrounded by bruising.

Along the way they catch up with an old friend of Jackaby’s, Hank Hudson. He’s a hunter and trapper, with a focus on unusual creatures. He’s also huge. I pictured him like a frontiersman Hagrid, but less approachable.

On this adventure, Abigail is torn. The official reason they’re sent to Gad’s Valley is to track down a stolen fossil, and her paleontology roots call to her. It was really great to see Abigail in her element, and she had several occasions to one up the male experts who were quick to disregard her. Jackaby was proud of her, but her interest and aptitude meant that he spent a bit of his time on his own, hunting the unseen forces behind the theft.

being-clever
I’m still waiting for a moment like this…

As the story goes on, things remain relatively light. The two paleontologists bicker and argue over all sorts of minutia, there’s a femme fatale reporter who befriends Abigail, and Abigail has a few delightfully awkward encounters with Charlie, who is even more endearing in this book.

 

But, when it appears that an actual dragon, thought extinct for a few thousand years, is terrorizing the valley, things get dark quick. Houses are razed, a nearby couple are killed, and in the final battle the reporter, Nellie Fuller, sacrifices herself to give Jackaby and Abigail time to figure something out.

And, Abigail does. That was my favorite part of this story. Abigail saves the day, and Jackaby’s life. She’s the hero, finally the strong female character, even if she refuses to see herself that way. But, as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Abigail even kisses Charlie by the very end! Very bold indeed.

But, the events of Gad’s Valley also trouble her immensely, giving Jackaby the opportunity to wax philosophical, as he often does, and it’s always a treat. But, the events also set the stage for the next book, and help establish a larger arc for the series.

I would say that this book is very much Abigail’s. Though she’s the main character of the series, the first book had to introduce us to Jackaby and his unique place and function in the world. Now, with all that established, Abigail had the opportunity to really grow and shine.

Ritter did a good job of making his likeable narrator even more so, and keeping things fun while he did.

william-ritter
William Ritter

That would be my number one selling point of these books. They’re fun. The characters are endearing and well-developed, and the city of New Fiddleham feels like home. I want to spend time in this world, with these people. I’m happy to report that the third book is probably the best of them all, and the next book is due out this summer!

There’s no shortage of time with Abigail and Co., just yet.

Unrelated to the actual plot or books, I found out that William Ritter is a local author. He lives in Springfield, Oregon, about an hour south of Salem, near Eugene. He’s an educator, and I look forward to catching him during his promotion of the next book, The Dire King.

Aaaand, I just read that it’s the conclusion of the series. I am not OK with that. Not in the least. How can that be the end? There’s too many possibilities! You can’t just wrapghostly-echoes everything up in one book, right?

Now I’m sad. Damn it. Well, I’ll see you all tomorrow when I return with the book review for Ghostly Echoes.

Until then, Blogland…

 

BZ

Book Review- Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hello Blogland!

To say Book Club met last night would be generous. Two of us met, and I was the only one who read the book.

Needless to say there wasn’t much discussion happening. But, I promised a book review, and I’m not deferring it for a whole month.

So, let me preface this by saying that Hush, Hush is not my typical reading fare. Usually there’s magic, and swords, or some sort of weaponry, and though I never shy away from romance, it’s rarely the focal point of the stories I read.
hush hus.jpg

So, the entire concept of Hush, Hush is that angels are real. Which has me immediately interested. There are angels, and we learn there is a hierarchy within their society, Archangels at the top, Angels of Death somewhere in the middle, and apparently Guardian Angels falling low on the totem pole.

And where there are angels, there are those that have been disgraced, those whose wings were stripped from their shoulders, and who fell from grace. Quite literally, Fallen Angels. These creatures walk the Earth, appearing as humans, but are immortal. They don’t have physical sensations, and so can never truly join in the human experience.

But, when an Angel sleeps with a human, it creates what’s called a Nephilim. These are also immortal, but are much closer to being human. They have interesting abilities but have no affiliation with God or the Devil (both of whom are conspicuously absent from this book).

Being Nephilim sounds rad, right? Oh, except for the fine print that says that, for two weeks during the Hebrew month of Chesvhan, Fallen Angels will assume control of your body so they can party it up like humans.

Talk about awkward.
vulnerable

Anyway, the main character is 16 year old Nora Grey. She seems a reasonable enough teenager at first. Focused on school, one good friend, but socially capable. She’s likable, at least initially.

And then we meet Patch, the mysterious transfer student that Nora gets paired with in Biology. Really, at this point, I have to wonder how many biology teachers are responsible for teenage romance.

And that’s really my biggest problem with this book. It’s riddled with clichés and tropes. Now, that doesn’t necessarily make a book bad, if its aware of its hackneyed status and is poking fun. But Hush, Hush isn’t so tongue in cheek. In fact, it reads like someone took Twilight, and instead of Vampires went with Angels. Over protective boyfriend fully assembled.

So why did I keep reading?

Honestly, because Patch is a really good character. He’s interesting, complex, and probably the only one in the entire book that seems fully fleshed out. I want to know more about him and his world. If Fitzpatrick had written this for adults and completely developed the angels and their hierarchy, then followed Patch on his quest to become human, it would have been a great book.

Instead, for unknown reasons, Patch, an immortal Fallen Angel, has fallen for a 16 year old girl with a sliver of Nephilim blood.

Puke.

Anyway, he’s mysterious and gets into trouble often. But Nora is inexplicably drawn to him. Yet again, a hapless female child is “meant” to be with some overpowered immortal being. And, so far, there’s no apparent reason as to why.

So, as the story continues, Nora has a string of close calls, and she thinks it’s Patch’s doing. But she continues to talk to him and find herself in situations where they’re alone. Because she’s sixteen and dumb, I suppose. There’s no other reasonable conclusion.

But, it turns out that Jules, the love interest of Nora’s best friend, is a Nephilim sworn to Patch. Basically meaning that come Chesvhan, Patch gets dibs. Well, Jules knows that Nora is very distantly related to him, carries his Nephilim blood, and if he kills her, Patch will become human, which is what Patch wants. This will also keep Patch from possessing Jules every year, and make him vulnerable to Jules.
nephilim

So, Patch’s original plan, before he ever really knew her, was to kill Nora so he could be human. That’s why he enrolled at her school. Honestly, don’t question it, it just makes your face scrunch and your head hurt. Just shrug and keep reading.

But, he gets to know her and he falls for her and yadda yadda. So, instead of letting Jules kill her, Nora tries to jump from the rafter of her gym (she was being hunted by Jules so it wasn’t just some whimsical suicide attempt. At least there’s that.), but Patch saves her, unable to let her die for him.

And that gives him his wings back, making him her Guardian Angel.

A little convenient, but all right. Patch dispatches (hehe) Jules, and they go about their lives. Until book 2! Which I’m currently reading and generally disliking.

Now, I do want to say that I didn’t hate this book. It’s… it’s like watching a movie and thinking, “wow, this is terrible. Like really bad. But, dammit, I’m having such a good time.”

That was my exact experience with this book. Plus, Patch is a compelling character, and the dialogue is pretty good. I laughed a lot, not just at the corny bits either.
crescendo

But, I am having a hard time with the second book, and am only continuing because I need to know what Patch is up to. I don’t really care about Nora at all. It’s the dark lurkings and secret nature of the world of Angels that has me turning pages.

Anyway, thanks for getting this far. You should be hearing from me soon, with a review of the sequel, Crescendo.

Until then Blogland!

 

 

Progress on ‘The Portrait’.

Ok, here’s the real post for today. The earlier one was just a silly fangirl overtaking my blog and running wild whilst foaming at the mouth.

Ahem.

The matter at hand, is the short story project I’m working on.

I’ve finally got all the handwritten bits typed up, and I’m pleasantly surprised. There’s a lot of material to work with. 4,356 words, which in MS Word is 16 pages. Now, for most publications that is still considered short fiction, but in Brittany-land, that’s HUGE.

Well, for a short story anyway. All my other short stories are between 800-3,000 words. But, this story is completely raw. A conglomeration of scenes that need some serious reworking before I even begin editing. I’m sure it will be smaller once all the editing and pruning is over.

Add the lurking problem of publication. This story is a genre piece. A ghost story, and a pretty sexually graphic one at that. At least for me. I don’t typically write sex scenes, or really even sexual tension, but that’s what really pushes this story along. I’ve had some friends read bits of it back when I first thought of the idea, and the response was quite positive. But, I’m still a bit embarrassed by it.

So, most literary magazines don’t consider publishing genre pieces. Placing this story will be hard. I’m prepared for that. But, what if it does get picked up? My entire family will read it, and will be shocked at its content.

Not looking forward to those conversations…

Anyway, now that the typing is done, I’ve had to get my brain thinking about what the story’s current problems are.

Here’s the list:

  • Tense–> I need to decide between past tense, which is familiar, or present tense, which allows for a sense of immediacy and the lurking unknown. I need to read and study this in order to make a decision.
  • What is the Main Character’s motivation? What does she want? What is she trying to accomplish?
  • Time—> I like the jumping- adds to the sense of disorientation. How to keep story continuity if time doesn’t flow chronologically? Also need to read more to study this.
  • Unreliable Narrator—> how to make it apparent that the narrator isn’t seeing or understanding everything. And how to make the reader understand that the Main Character is slowly losing her mind. Another thing to read and study.

Right now, calling this a story is a bit generous. Its a grouping of words that, with some tweaking, will become a story. And it’s getting closer. It’s the closest this piece has ever been.

So, this is coming along nicely. I’m excited to get it to a point where printing and hand editing are a reality. But, the new novel idea is trying to push itself forward. There are a lot of exciting possibilities in that story. There’s so much writing and working to be done!

And now that the first draft of ‘Vessels’ is done, people keep asking me what’s next.  It’s a bit daunting to be honest. People on Facebook message me links about Self-publishing, which is helpful, and I appreciate, but I’m nowhere near that step yet. People ask me when it’s going to be published, when can they buy a copy. The honest answer is probably never. I think people assume that once the rough draft is done, it obviously gets sent out into the ether, spends some time in this mysterious place, and then suddenly appears on the shelves in their local Barnes and Noble.

HA!

This is my FIRST novel that I’ve ever completed. Brandon Sanderson wrote 11 or 13 (I can’t remember which, and am too lazy to google it) before he ever got published, and he’s a mad genius/potential writing God.

So let’s be real. ‘Vessels’ will likely never see the light of day. And that’s ok. It will always hold a special place in my heart, as well as in the hearts of my closest family and friends that get to read it. It’s a stepping stone. A start to something bigger. And I’m excited to start this adventure.

After I finish and submit ‘The Portrait’, ‘My Final Frontier’, and start the rough draft of ‘Cards’.

Like I said, there’s a lot of writing and work left to do. And I’m excited to start really developing my portfolio as a writer. But for now, I’m really excited about ordering lunch!

Have a great day, Blogland.

 

BZ