ARCs: The Dough Must Go On and Well-Read Black Girl

Posted on

*Note: I received free copies of these books from their publishers. All opinions are my own. Summaries via Goodreads.com.

The Dough Must Go On

Showbiz comes to Oxford in the form of Britain’s hottest new talent show, and tearoom owner Gemma Rose gets a peek behind-the-scenes when she’s asked to cater for the event. But with the Old Biddies, entering the contest as England’s first “granny band”, and her little tabby, Muesli, stealing the limelight, Gemma soon ends up with more than she bargained for… and that’s before she comes across a frozen dead body!

With things heating up in the contest and so many suspects in the running, can Gemma catch the killer before the curtain falls?

A fun, relaxing addition to a lovely series (if you search the blog’s archives for the Oxford Tearoom series, you’ll find many reviews of previous books in this cozy mystery series). I just wish there was more interaction between Gemma and Devlin in this story. Still, I liked the granny band competing in an unusual TV talent show as Gemma bakes and stumbles her way into her latest murder mystery.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

Well-Read Black Girl

Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives–but it doesn’t come around as frequently for all of us. In this timely anthology, “well-read black girl” Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how we search for ourselves in literature, and how important it is that everyone–no matter their gender, race, religion, or abilities–can find themselves there. Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Their Eyes Were Watching God, seeing a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation.

This book, filled with essays by prominent African-American authors and other figures, presents many different voices speaking about reading and writing black women in books. Although, as a white person, I don’t have personal experience with this issue, I found many of these essays very interesting, and I expanded my TBR list with even more diverse books (something I’m always trying to do). Representation matters, and the essays in this book show just how much a novel about someone who looks like you can affect your life for the better.

Rating: Good

Advertisements

ARC: The Colonel and the Bee

Posted on

*Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author. All opinions are my own.

A peculiar explorer and downtrodden acrobat span the globe on a building-sized hot air balloon, in search of a precious artifact and the murderous treasure hunter who seeks it. (Summary via Goodreads.com)

I debated long and hard before requesting this book for review. Because my schedule is so tight, I haven’t been reading many books that haven’t been recommended to me by people whose bookish tastes are like mine. But I decided to take a chance on this one, and I am extremely glad I did! If I hadn’t, I would have missed out on a gem of a book.

The Colonel and the Bee is just sheer fun. I loved Beatrix (or Bee) and the Colonel and their adventures in his hot air balloon as they chase down treasure hunters. It’s exactly as fun as it sounds like it would be. The book is a little bit steampunk, a little bit globetrotting, and a lot of quirky, fascinating characters.

The action is fast-paced as Beatrix, the Colonel, and their crew try to track down a highly sought-after treasure, but the relationships between the characters aren’t neglected either. Although Beatrix has a habit of speaking before she thinks, and although the Colonel leaves behind him a trail of broken-hearted, gun-toting women, they both do their best even in difficult circumstances to form a caring partnership.

If you’re looking for a fun, steampunk-y romp with surprisingly sweet and quirky characters, I highly recommend this book. I’m so glad I picked it up, and I think you will be too!

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

 

The Eleven Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

Posted on

I’m linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday to share my top ten list!

The title for this blog post might be a bit misleading, as there very well could be some books longer than these that I read before I started recording everything I read. Still, these are at least the longest books I’ve read in the past five years. Some of them were worth the time; others… not so much.

What are the longest books you’ve ever read? Were they worth the time? Let me know in the comments!

Small Goals + What I’m Into, October 2018

Posted on

As always, I’m linking up with writes like a girl for my October 2018 small goals, and Leigh Kramer for my monthly what I’m into.

It has been a while since I’ve done one of these posts–August was my last one. So I’m taking a quick look at my late summer goals and then moving on to my almost holiday goals!

  • Make breakfasts for school. Yes, for the most part. I’ve been making energy balls, and every once in a while my husband makes me scones or muffins. It has been nice to switch it up (although I still rely on those hard boiled eggs when I’m in a hurry!).
  • Keep doing yoga. I’ve actually been doing pretty well with this goal! I don’t work out every day, but I’m getting three or sometimes four days of yoga in. Way better than last year!
  • Read one book in translation. Two, in fact!
  • Make time for fun activities. I’m counting this one as completed in part because I actually joined a choir! I’ve been wanting to get back into choral music ever since I left college, so even though this makes my schedule even crazier than before, it’s worth it.
  • Make time for household chores. Yes. Not every day, but most days.

I am actually quite proud of myself for juggling two jobs, volunteering at church, blogging, household stuff, and hobbies! I completed all five goals from August, so I’m trying to keep my October goals just as reachable.

  • Prep for the holidays. Can it be that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are just around the corner already? I won’t get everything done this month, certainly, but I’m hoping that if I start now, things won’t be so hectic at the end of the year.
  • Go to the tropical fruit market. This one is just for fun!
  • Prep for our first chorale performances. We’ve got a ton of music, and I know I’ll soon be receiving more for the choir I accompany for. I need to stay on top of learning this new music.
  • Watch/read some spooky stuff. I’m not a big Halloween person, and I don’t generally like horror movies or intensely scary books, but this year I’m kind of feeling like some mildly spooky media might be fun. Last year around this time I read Dracula; this year I’m going for things like Hocus Pocus and Coraline.

What I’m Into

Books I’m looking forward to reading: I found a Penderwicks book that I didn’t even know existed and I’m saving it for a day when I can savor it.

TV shows I’ve watched: I am obsessed with Lords and Ladles. If you like cooking shows without drama, Irish accents, and learning the history of gorgeous historical homes, this show is absolutely for you.

Online creator I’m loving: Have you heard of Grandpa Kitchen? It’s a sweet YouTube channel in which an Indian grandpa makes ridiculously large meals and then gives the food to the children in need that he cares for. (All the money the channel earns through ad revenue and Patreon goes toward supporting the orphanage he runs, which makes these fun videos even better!)

Links I like: These modern covers for classic books are fascinating.

I would love to watch this TV series starring the former hosts of GBBO.

The illustrator for Matilda imagines the character’s life thirty years later.

This orchestra playing an impromptu concert after a flight delay made me smile.

My favorite Instagram:

Look at this gorgeous bookish tote (and the Hamilton apron, too!):

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram (I post lots of book pictures and the occasional selfie), you can do so here.

What are you all up to this month? Let me know in the comments!

Classics Roundup: September 2018

Posted on

I’ve been making my way through many classics recently (mostly thanks to the Serial app or the audiobooks on Scribd). I’m not an academic or even a former English major, so I’m just offering short summaries and my feelings about these books. Hopefully that will help you decide if you’re interested in reading these books yourself. (Summaries via Goodreads.com)

The Canterbury Tales

This collection of stories, framed as the tales told on the road to Canterbury, was really hit or miss for me. There were a few that were fun or interesting, and it was certainly interesting to have a look at the kinds of things people were talking about hundreds of years ago (they’re not much different from the things we talk about today!). But many of the stories bored me to death (particularly the ones that switched from verse to prose), and several of them mentioned rape in a way that was meant to be humorous and no longer is.

Rating: Meh

Far from the Madding Crowd

Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community. The first of his works set in Wessex, Hardy’s novel of swift passion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with unflinching honesty about sexual relationships.

There is sooo much sexism in this book that I couldn’t really enjoy the story. It was an okay story, but I basically had to hate-read to finish the book.

Rating: Meh

Flannery O’Connor short stories

Powerful, disturbing stories about the South, race, and religion. This collection is definitely worth your time, even if (like me) you usually don’t enjoy short stories.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

The Left Hand of Darkness

A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can choose -and change – their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters. 

I wasn’t sure whether or not to include this in my classics roundup, but I don’t think anyone could argue that The Left Hand of Darkness isn’t at least a science fiction classic.

I found the book interesting, and I enjoyed it much more than I anticipated (sci fi isn’t usually my thing), but there is a surprising amount of sexism for a book written by a woman about a culture that is neither male nor female. I wouldn’t say no to reading another Le Guin, but I don’t think I’ll go out of my way to find her books either.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

Orlando

Spanning three centuries, the novel opens as Orlando, a young nobleman in Elizabeth’s England, awaits a visit from the Queen and traces his experience with first love as England under James I lies locked in the embrace of the Great Frost. At the midpoint of the novel, Orlando, now an ambassador in Costantinople, awakes to find that he is a woman, and the novel indulges in farce and irony to consider the roles of women in the 18th and 19th centuries. As the novel ends in 1928, a year consonant with full suffrage for women. Orlando, now a wife and mother, stands poised at the brink of a future that holds new hope and promise for women.

This short book has an interesting premise—our (male) main character Orlando becomes a woman halfway through the book and shows the oppression of women and their eventual freedom. Although this is a short book, it spans centuries. I loved the idea, but somehow even the short length couldn’t keep me from getting distracted and forgetting the details of the plot.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

In this book, Maya Angelou shares stories of her childhood, complete with all the traumas and joys of growing up Black during this time period.

This book is a classic for good reason, but the extended, graphic rape scene was absolutely awful to read. Please be forewarned and don’t listen to this as an audiobook on your way to work, as I did.

Rating: Good but Difficult

ARC: The Dough Must Go On

Posted on

*Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author. All opinions are my own. Summary via Goodreads.com

Showbiz comes to Oxford in the form of Britain’s hottest new talent show, and tearoom owner Gemma Rose gets a peek behind-the-scenes when she’s asked to cater for the event. But with the Old Biddies entering the contest as England’s first “granny band”, and her little tabby, Muesli, stealing the limelight, Gemma soon ends up with more than she bargained for… and that’s before she comes across a frozen dead body!

Now, she’s on the trail of a murderer, with four nosy old ladies giving her a helping hand, while also dealing with her embarrassing mother, her workaholic boyfriend–and even a mouse invader at her tearoom!

With things heating up in the contest and so many suspects in the running, can Gemma catch the killer before the curtain falls?

This latest installment in the Oxford Tearoom series is just as fun and sweet as I wanted it to be. Gemma is excited to have been hired as the caterer for a surprise hit talent show TV series, but as always, murder is not far behind.

Gemma spends more time working on her own in this mystery–her loyal friends keep the tearoom in order, her mother becomes a judge on the show, and the Old Biddies are perfecting their musical numbers. Instead, Gemma gets to know each of the talent show contestants in her attempt to find the murderer. I didn’t mind this, but I wish we could have had all of the wonderful supporting characters alongside the new, quirky contestants.

The only thing that disappointed me about this book was how little interaction Gemma and her detective boyfriend Devlin had with each other. The past few books have brought up issues in their relationship—namely, Devlin’s workaholic nature—and I wanted that issue to be explored more in this book. Hopefully the next installment will address it!

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

Newbery Roundup: September 2018

Posted on

While most of the books in this month’s Newbery roundup aren’t that great (and some I actively un-recommend), a couple of them surprised me! Over the past year or so, I’ve gotten used to reading dry, slow-paced fiction, and a few of these classic Newbery honor books were engaging and fun. (All summaries via Goodreads.com)

The Apprentice of Florence

Opening in 1453, this is the story of sixteen-year-old Nemo, apprenticed to a silk merchant of Florence, who accompanies the merchant’s son to Constantinople on business.

Let’s get this one out of the way first. This book consists of boring historical fiction about Florence (and Constantinople) during the 1400s, complete with the crusades and the “infidels.” There is so much sexism and racism that I barely made it through to the end. There’s just no reason for today’s readers to pick up this book.

Rating: Skip This One

The Big Tree of Bunlahy

A collection of thirteen short stories from Padraic Colum, based on life in his home village of Bunlahy, in County Longford, Ireland.

This book contains several interesting and fun short stories and tall tales about the Irish village of Bunlahy. I love that the author based these stories on his own life in the village. It’s a fun, quick read.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

New Land

A family journey from Chicago to Wyoming in the 1930s, in order to homestead on an unproved claim.

New Land offers a surprisingly interesting look at a more recent homesteading venture, this one in the 1930s. However, while the story is engaging, I found it extremely frustrating that the most competent, ambitious, and level-headed character, Sayre, was constantly being put down for being a girl.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

The Winged Girl of Knossos

Inas leaps at adventure. She dives to the bottom of the Aegean Sea to harvest sponges and somersaults over charging bulls in front of thousands of people. Best of all, she soars from cliffs wearing the glider-wings her father builds in secret, safe from the prying eyes of their neighbors, who think flying is sorcery.

When Princess Ariadne seeks Inas’s help to hatch a plan with Theseus, a young Greek who’s held prisoner in the palace’s Labyrinth, Inas doesn’t realize how much adventure she is taking on. In fact, Inas suddenly finds that she may be about to lose everything she holds dear on the island of Crete.

I don’t typically like mythology or the dry historical fiction that the early Newbery books are known for, but this book surprised me. Winged Girl is a novel about a girl defying cultural expectations (jumping bulls! flying with wings! harvesting sponges!) in Knossos. Inas is an interesting character, and the setting gives you a taste of what life was like on Crete during this time period. After reading the book, it’s not surprising to me that this book was recently re-released.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

Swords of Steel

This is amazingly boring Civil War historical fiction. The main character lives with his family just outside Gettysburg, and during the infamous battle his house is temporarily turned into a hospital, but even during this time, very little happens in the book. The boy (yep, I’ve already forgotten his name) is too young to join the war until the very end, and most of the information about the war comes through letters from family members and friends. I’m really into a good “life on the homefront” story, but we don’t even get that. If you’re looking for a children’s book about the Civil War, there are many, many better options.

Rating: Meh

Newbery and Beyond is Moving!

Posted on

Hey all! Just a quick housekeeping note. Because I’m blogging so much less than I used to, I’m going to be switching from newberyandbeyond.com to newberyandbeyond.wordpress.com. Please update your bookmarks/RSS feed/however you get your newest posts from Newbery and Beyond. I will be making the switch this Friday, September 7th.

Small Goals + What I’m Into, August 2018

Posted on

As always, I’m linking up with writes like a girl for my August 2018 small goals, and Leigh Kramer for my monthly what I’m into.

As I’m writing this post, the school year is about to begin. I’m squeezing in as much enjoyment and relaxation as I can for the last few days of summer, but I know that my schedule is about to get crazy busy again (though hopefully not as busy as it was last spring!). With that in mind, I’m lowering my goals for posting book reviews. I’m going to attempt to write one book review or book roundup each week (although I won’t kid myself and guarantee that I’ll make time for this every single week!), with the occasional addition of a Top Ten Tuesday or small goals post. I love writing reviews here, but I don’t want to set a goal that I won’t be able to meet.

With that said, let’s take a look at how I did with my goals for July!

  • Study for the FTCE. Yes. I’ve done a ton of studying, and I’ve roped my husband and roommate into sharing their expertise with me to help me understand the things I’ve forgotten. I still have a ways to go, and I’m not sure when I’ll have time to study during the school year, but I will make time for it.
  • Go to the beach. No on this one. I don’t know if the algae pouring from Lake Okeechobee and onto our southwest Florida beaches has made national news, but it has made our beaches actually dangerous to visit. I made do with a trip to the pool, but I’m also putting pressure on our local politicians to do something about this harmful pollution destroying our gorgeous state.
  • Read, read, read. Yes! I’ve finished a lot of books that have been sitting in a stack by my bed for longer than I want to admit, including the beautifully illustrated Harry Potter books.
  • Make this year’s photo book. Check!
  • Celebrate our fifth anniversary! Also check! We had a dinner of steak and scallops and cracked open a bottle of champagne.

So, 4.5 out of 5? I’ll take it. As we’re approaching the start of the school year, I’m going to try to keep my small goals light and manageable.

  • Make breakfasts for school. I’m not a morning person, so my breakfast usually consists of a granola bar or hard boiled egg that I eat in my car. I want to make an effort to have tasty, healthy breakfasts this year (even if I continue to eat them in the car…).
  • Keep doing yoga. I struggled to make time for yoga during the school year last spring, but it combines the physical and mental health workout that I really need, so I’m going to make a bigger effort to continue doing yoga this fall.
  • Read one book in translation. This is part of one of my long-term reading goals, and I think one book is manageable for this month.
  • Make time for fun activities. I don’t want to get into the habit of getting home from work, putting my stuff down, scarfing down dinner while watching TV, and going to sleep. That may still be the case for some evenings, but I want to make a little time during the week to do things I enjoy, rather than only allowing myself to relax on the weekends.
  • Make time for household chores. This is the exact opposite of my previous goal, but I know that I feel a lot more relaxed when the counters are wiped down, the floors are vacuumed, and the kitchen is stocked with food. I’m going to do my best to take small steps every day when I get home from work to keep things neat and organized.

What I’m Into

Books I’m looking forward to reading: I’m finally getting around to finishing the Books of Bayern series. I love Shannon Hale’s writing, so I think I’ll enjoy these books.

TV shows I’ve watched: Everyone has been raving about the new Queer Eye on Netflix, and I finally got around to watching the first episode. I never watched the original, but this iteration reminds me of What Not to Wear.

Instagram account I’m loving: Rachel Callahan (of the blog Grasping for Objectivity) takes absolutely gorgeous photos of sunsets, nature hikes, and Birmingham.

Links I like: This chef who fed the Civil Rights movement is inspiring.

I love unusual libraries! This man packs books on his burros and takes them to rural areas in Colombia.

My favorite Instagram:

I loved how this photo turned out!

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram (I post lots of book pictures and the occasional selfie), you can do so here.

What are you all up to this month? Let me know in the comments!

Magical YA and MG Books!

Posted on

I’ve read a lot of YA and middle grade books this summer that can be summed up with the word “magical.” From wonderful plots and characters to actual fantastical elements, all of these books are magical in one way or another. I hope you find one on this list that you will love. (All summaries via Goodreads.com)

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

There’s a murderer on the loose—but that doesn’t stop the girls of St. Etheldreda’s from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce.

The students of St. Etheldreda’s School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong.

One of the best books I’ve read this year. The girls are all flawed but lovable and interesting, and even when they work together to hide two murders so they can keep their freedom, the book remains funny and lighthearted and sweet (and a bit gruesome). You will enjoy this book if you like books about boarding school, Victorian England, teens solving mysteries, or independent girls.

Rating: Re-read Worthy

Greenglass House

It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House-and themselves.

This might actually be my favorite book I’ve read this year so far! It’s stocked with fun, engaging characters, including Milo (a kid whose identity as an adopted child is part, but not all, of the focus of the story) and Meddy (the only other kid in a houseful of strange and mysterious guests), and Milo’s parents, who are kind and trusting and not oblivious (a rare quality for most children’s fiction). If you like books about odd characters and kids solving mysteries, plus the great atmosphere of an old inn at Christmastime, this book is a must read.

Rating: Re-read Worthy

Book Scavenger

Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold’s attackers make them their next target.

Reminiscent of The Westing Game, this is a fun story about two kids searching for books, solving puzzles, and getting caught up in a game that is much more dangerous than it seems. I’d love to have a real life Book Scavenger game! I’m not sure if I’ll finish reading the series, but I enjoyed this book.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways

Far to the south of the land of Ingary, in the Sultanates of Rashpuht, there lived in the city of Zanzib a young and not very prosperous carpet dealer named Abdullah who loved to spend his time daydreaming. He was content with his life and his daydreams until, one day, a stranger sold him a magic carpet.

That very night, the carpet flew him to an enchanted garden. There, he met and fell in love with the beauteous princess Flower-in-the-Night, only to have her snatched away, right under his very nose, by a wicked djinn. With only his magic carpet and his wits to help him, Abdullah sets off to rescue his princess….

AND:

Charmain Baker is in over her head. Looking after Great-Uncle William’s tiny cottage while he’s ill should have been easy. But Great-Uncle William is better known as the Royal Wizard Norland, and his house bends space and time. Its single door leads to any number of places—the bedrooms, the kitchen, the caves under the mountains, the past, and the Royal Mansion, to name just a few.

By opening that door, Charmain has become responsible for not only the house, but for an extremely magical stray dog, a muddled young apprentice wizard, and a box of the king’s most treasured documents. She has encountered a terrifying beast called a lubbock, irritated a clan of small blue creatures, and wound up smack in the middle of an urgent search. The king and his daughter are desperate to find the lost, fabled Elfgift—so desperate that they’ve even called in an intimidating sorceress named Sophie to help. And where Sophie is, can the Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer be far behind?

I read Howl’s Moving Castle a while back, and I finally finished the other books in the series. The two books have a very different feel from one another. Castle in the Air is fun, but not quite as good as the other books in the series. It’s almost an Aladdin retelling, complete with magic carpet and an Arabian setting.

House of Many Ways, on the other hand, was wonderful! It’s almost as good as Howl’s Moving Castle–or maybe even better? I loved Great-Uncle William’s wizard house with the many mysterious rooms, and Charmain was a fun character. And Sophie and Howl play a sizable role in this book, which I enjoyed as well.

Rating: Good but Forgettable, Pretty Darn Good

Ghostly Echoes and The Dire King (*spoilers ahead!*)

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 fiancé, 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.

AND:

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

If you haven’t read the Jackaby series yet, be warned: there are spoilers ahead!

I greatly enjoyed the first two books in this series for their Sherlock-meets-Doctor-Who mysteries, but as we get into the last two books, the feeling turns much more Supernatural. Jackaby and Abigail begin by attempting to uncover the truth behind Jenny’s death, and what they find leads them to a much bigger and more dangerous mystery.

The last book wraps up the series with Jackaby and Abigail, along with their human and non-human allies, fighting the titular Dire King and his army. It was a good ending, but I missed the smaller, cozier mysteries of the early books. Still, if you enjoyed the previous books, you should stick around for the spectacular ending.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good, Good but Forgettable