Tag Archives: genre: mystery

Bad Machinery, Volume 4: The Case of the Lonely One Review

Bad-Machinery-4Bad Machinery, Volume 4: The Case of the Lonely One by John Allison

Oni Press, 2015. 978-1620102121

Synopsis: A new school year brings a new classmate to Griswald’s Grammar School! But he’s a bit strange, and he really, really likes onions. When the whole school suddenly becomes best friends with him, Shauna seems to be the only one left out. It’s up to her to peel back the mystery, one onion layer at a time. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I was giddy when I found it on the shelf of my local library, since this has totally become one of my favorite comics.

Why I finished it: I don’t know if it’s really right to play favorites with these characters, but Shauna’s been my girl since volume 1 so I was excited to see her get fleshed out a little bit more and have to work something out on her own. It’s also a little strange to see a character working more or less independently on a case, but it presented itself also as an opportunity to introduce secondary characters so that the town of Tackleford fills out a little bit more as well. For example, the reader learns more about the farms on the outer limits of the town and that Tackleford apparently has some pretty swanky mansions in the midst of the other middle class neighborhoods. I was also amused to see Shauna impressing the role players with her unexpectedly nerdy prowess and the way she is able to get them to help her after most of the school has turned into onion-loving zombies. Between new teachers and new students, the reader has a lot to follow in this latest installment. It continues to show the characters trying to balance school and home life, recreation and homework with a little bit more of the slice-of-life-in-a-small-town along with a kooky science fiction element.

Other related materials: Bad Machinery, Volume 1: The Case of the Team Spirit by John Allison; Bad Machinery, Volume 2: The Case of the Good Boy by John Allison; Bad Machinery, Volume 3: The Case of the Simple Soul by John Allison; Bad Machinery, Volume 5: The Case of the Fire Inside by John Allison; Bad Machinery, Volume 6: The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor by John Allison; Bad Machinery, Volume 7: The Case of the Forked Road by John Allison; Scott Pilgrim books by Bryan Lee O’Malley; The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks; The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky; Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen; Adventure Time comics by Ryan North, illustrated by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb; Adventure Time Volume 1: Playing with Fire by Danielle Corsetto; Adventure Time: Marceline & The Scream Queens by Meredith Gran; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, illustrated by Hope Larson; Lumberjanes comics by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen, and Grace Ellis

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Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger! Review

agent_q_or_the_smell_of_dangerAgent Q, or The Smell of Danger! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson; illustrations by Kurt Cyrus

Beach Lane Books, 2010. 978-1416986409

Synopsis: Now that the monks of Vbngoom have been saved and their monastery relocated (see Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware), Lily, Katie, and Jasper are eager to get home. But the Awful and Adorable Autarch of Dagsboro and his agents at the Ministry of Silence have other ideas, and they will do anything to detain both the children and the monks. Including hiding in glove boxes and disguising themselves as furniture in order to apprehend the fugitive travelers!

Why I picked it up: I always enjoy a bit of light reading after a long, arduous week of work.

Why I finished it: It’s been a while since I read Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware, so picking up this book had me a little bit lost. I guess I had gotten lucky and picked up the ‘stand-alone’ books in this series (Whales on Stilts!, He Laughed With His Other Mouths), so it wasn’t necessarily important for me to have remembered an entire book. Then again, this is what I get for reading series books out of order. So don’t be like me: read them in order. Okay, PSA over. Turns out it’s just as hard to get out of Delaware as it is to get in, maybe even harder since the Ministry of Silence is always watching you. Except when they lose track of you. Which isn’t often. Because these guys and gals are good. So good there’s even a whole TV series devoted to the best of the best of the Awful and Adorable Autarch of Dagsboro’s spies in which they expose themselves and their dastardly deeds before a live studio audience…of spies! The story is part spy thriller, part after school special, combining the derring-do heroics of an action-packed thriller with the ridiculousness of our favorite Saturday morning cartoons (they still have those, right?). I love that Anderson is able to take the time within the text of the story and in footnotes to give the reader hilarious commentary about some of the more over-the-top elements of the story. There is a bit with sentient lobsters about half-way through the book that the author points out would be totally ridiculous in almost any other story…except this one, in which there are sentient lobsters…that are actually an important bit of the plot. It’s a fun and engaging mystery/thriller that will have readers eager for more of Jasper, Katie, and Lily’s adventures.

Other related materials: Whales on Stilts! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Zombie Mommy (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; He Laughed With His Other Mouths (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron; Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist books by Jim Benton; Cardboard by Doug TenNapel; The Wild Robot by Peter Brown; Ungifted by Gordon Korman

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Bone, Volume 9: Crown of Horns Review

bone_9Bone, Volume 9: Crown of Horns by Jeff Smith

Graphix, 2009. 978-0439706315

Synopsis: It’s full-fledged war as Briar, the rat creatures, and the Pawan army storm the city of Atheia. The Bone cousins, Thorn, and Gran’ma Ben are all there to defend the Valley and stop the return of the Lord of the Locusts. When Thorn goes inside a ghost circle, she hears a voice urging her to seek the Crown of Horns. What follows is another dangerous journey for Thorn and loyal Fone Bone as they race to the sacred grounds of the dragons, searching for the one thing that may save them all. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: EPIC CONCLUSION TIME!

Why I finished it: I think the descriptor “epic” gets thrown around quite a bit when we’re talking about finales, but I think Smith actually pulls it off. The reader has officially peeled all the layers back from the story and gotten to the core. Action, drama, and humor take center stage as we follow our heroes through the final battles and an emotional homecoming. It’s hard to talk about this last volume without giving too much away, but needless to say that Smith has wrapped everything up nicely. There’s a bittersweet feel to the conclusion, but really, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Like any series, it’s hard to say goodbye to the characters we love. We feel like we’ve gone through everything with these characters and we don’t want them to leave, but we have to trust that they can look after themselves without the reader peeking in at their lives. This series more than deserves every award and accolade it’s received. I’ve said before that this book has more than earned its place on my shelf, and it’s a series I will happily recommend to readers of all ages.

Other related materials: Bone, Volume 1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 2: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 4: The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 5: Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 6: Old Man’s Cave by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 7: Ghost Circles by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 8: Treasure Hunters by Jeff Smith; Bone, Prequel: Rose by Jeff Smith; Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Bone: Quest for the Spark Books 1 & 2 by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke; The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso; Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack; Nnewts books by Doug TenNapel; Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

 

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Bone, Volume 8: Treasure Hunters

bone_8Bone, Volume 8: Treasure Hunters by Jeff Smith

Graphix, 2008. 978-0439706308

Synopsis: The Bone cousins, Gran’ma Ben, and Thorn finally reach the city of Atheia, where they reunite with old friends and plan to thwart The Lord of the Locusts. The Pawan army has joined forces with Briar and the rat creatures, and danger increases as Thorn’s visions get stronger. Meanwhile, Phoney Bone is convinced Atheia is a city rich in gold, and he is determined to find it! – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: It’s about to go down…in more ways than one.

Why I finished it: So, bunch of super sneaky things happening here. Our quintet has to sneak Bartleby into the city. Thorn and Grandma Ben need to keep a low profile, cause, yeah. There’s an underground resistance that is still loyal to the Harvestars that must somehow be covertly contacted. The villagers fro Old Man’s Cave must move stealthily across the barren landscape of the valley to reach Atheia before the fighting begins. And Phoney is sneaking around with one or the other of his cousins to find the gold he is so convinced he’ll be able to swindle from the Atheian people. Plus, the guards are being sneaky trying to find Grandma Ben and the rest of the resistance. So yeah. We got some real covert things going on and Phoney’s things, which are not ever as covert as he makes them out to be. With the city on the brink of war and the valley dwellers desperate to provide some aid before it’s too late, the readers find themselves at the proverbial tipping point. Quite a bit is hanging in the balance, and Thorn is the one that will be able to tip that balance should she be able to find the ancient treasure, the Crown of Horns. The catch: she can’t actually touch it or the world could potentially end for real. That’s always something you want to hear as a hero/heroine…. This volume has some really sweet moments with Bartleby and Smiley, who have become great pals over the course of the last book. There’s a strong bond being forged between the two, much like the bond we see continuing to grow between Thorn and Fone Bone. Then Smiley is reminded he has to go home sometime and then what will happen to Bartleby?

Other related materials: Bone, Volume 1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 2: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 4: The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 5: Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 6: Old Man’s Cave by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 7: Ghost Circles by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 9: Crown of Horns by Jeff Smith; Bone, Prequel: Rose by Jeff Smith; Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Bone: Quest for the Spark Books 1 & 2 by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke; The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso; Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack; Nnewts books by Doug TenNapel; Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

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Bone, Volume 6: Old Man’s Cave Review

bone_6Bone, Volume 6: Old Man’s Cave by Jeff Smith

Graphix, 2007. 978-0439706353

Synopsis: The story so far: the Bone cousins have been separated once again. Fone Bone and Smiley are lost in the woods after a narrow escape from a giant mountain lion and a small battalion of rat creatures. Meanwhile, Phoney, Thorn, and the villagers are attempting to round up the survivors in the rat creature’s assault on the valley and get them to the safety of Old Man’s Cave, where Grandma Ben waits. When the cousins are once again reunited, it is going to take all three of them working together if they hope to save Thorn and the rest of the valley inhabitants.

Why I picked it up: The plot is officially thickening….

Why I finished it: Okay, so, this is the volume where we get more into the nitty, gritty, bloody parts of the story. And yet, there is a moment at the end that I would venture to say is one of the most humorous moments of the entire series. I will say up front that the two don’t necessarily balance out, but in a series that is moving more and more towards war, there isn’t going to be a ton of happy, shiny moments. This installment also has one of the biggest reveals so far, and there’s EVEN MORE about what makes Thorn (and Phoney) so special to the overarching plan. Plus, an unexpected alliance is formed between the Hooded One and Roque Ja that could spell disaster in the short term. But with a series like this, it’s still unclear what the long term has in store for our heroes. Although we now have a better picture of the plan – beyond freeing the Lord of the Locusts – it still remains something of a mystery what role Thorn and the Bones have in being able to take down the Queen of the Dragons and prevent her from awakening. I might even go so far as to calling this the action movie volume of the series, since we are seeing much more fighting than in the last couple of volumes. And yet, Smith is still spinning masterful webs for the reader to untangle, layer upon layer as we draw closer and closer to a conclusion. Will our heroes prevail in the end? Hard to say, but they certainly won’t go down without a fight.

Other related materials: Bone, Volume 1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 2: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 4: The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 5: Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 7: Ghost Circles by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 8: Treasure Hunters by Jeff Smith; Bone, Volume 9: Crown of Horns by Jeff Smith; Bone, Prequel: Rose by Jeff Smith; Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Bone: Quest for the Spark Books 1 & 2 by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke; The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso; Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack; Nnewts books by Doug TenNapel; Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

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The Palace of Glass Review

palace-of_glassThe Palace of Glass (The Forbidden Library: Volume III) by Django Wexler, illustrations by Alexander Jansson

Kathy Dawson Books, 2016. 978-0803739789

Synopsis: Now that Alice knows the role Geryon played in her father’s disappearance, she’s determined to exact her revenge. Ending, the labyrinthine that controls Geryon’s library, has proposed a permanent, albeit dangerous, solution: retrieve The Infinite Prison from the Palace of Glass in the worlds beyond, which would allow her to trap the old Reader. Determined to forge forward, Alice takes the journey to the worlds beyond; but will the risk be worth the potential reward?

Why I picked it up: I borrowed it at the same time as The Mad Apprentice so that I wouldn’t have to wait to find out if Alice succeeds.

Why I finished it: Alice may have gotten in over her head in her desire for revenge, a fact that becomes more apparent the further she journeys into the portal. Not only is she warned against going to the Palace of Glass, but she is confronted with how she will maintain the delicate stasis that Geryon has created. True, Alice doesn’t want the creatures of the books to feel like they are servants or that they are expendable, but at what cost can she keep them safe from the other Readers? The multitude of things Alice must mull over before she makes a finite decision continues to grow, and there doesn’t seem to be a good solution in sight. All the qualities that make Alice a heroine are also those that endear her to the reader: she is confident and smart, yet she still has to come to grips with the awesome amount of power that is coming to her. We are starting to see what Ending means when she says that Alice is different, that she is the kind of Reader Ending would be willing to work with, even if her headstrong nature often puts her in a tight spot. I keep forgetting to give a shout out to Jansson for the fantastic and whimsical watercolor-esque illustrations. The beautifully haunting black-and-white pictures give the book another little edge of mystery and horror with the overarching fantasy that are reminiscent of classic Gothic novels like Dracula and Frankenstein. There’s a lot more of Alice’s adventure to go, and I am eager to read more!

Other related materials: The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler, illustrations by Alexander Jansson; The Mad Apprentice (The Forbidden Library Volume II) by Django Wexler, illustrations by Alexander Jansson; Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke; The Books of Elsewhere series by Jacqueline West; Coraline by Neil Gaiman; Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein; The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein; Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein; The Mapmakers Trilogy books by S.E. Grove; The Thickety: A Path Begins by J.A. White, illustrations by Andrea Offermann; Book Scavenger series by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman; The Books of Beginning series by John Stephens; The Wildwood Chronicles books by Colin Meloy, illustrations by Carson Ellis; 13 Treasures trilogy by Michelle Harrison; The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey

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The Mad Apprentice Review

mad-apprenticeThe Mad Apprentice (The Forbidden Library: Volume II) by Django Wexler, illustrations by Alexander Jansson

Kathy Dawson Books, 2015. 978-0803739765

Synopsis: As a Reader, Alice is becoming exposed to a world she didn’t even know existed until she was sent to live with her Uncle Geryon – and it is not always a safe world at that. So when another Reader dies and Alice (along with five other apprentices) is sent to ‘deal with’ the dead man’s apprentice, she begins to realize that the world and the power of a Reader is so much more terrifying that she could have ever imagined.

Why I picked it up: I read and loved The Forbidden Library, but had forgotten there were two more books until I was searching for my next great read at my local library.

Why I finished it: Wexler has taken children’s fantasy to a different level with this series, marrying the traditional aspects of magic and the supernatural with those of a mystery/crime drama. Since she has come to stay with Geryon, Alice has been searching for answers about her father, but nothing definitive – a frustration that is driving her more and more through these last books of the trilogy. She is hoping she will be able to find more pieces to the puzzle when she is tasked with investigating the murder of another Reader. It quickly becomes clear that the apprentices are dealing with more than they can handle, and as Alice and the others race to find a solution, we see our heroine once again stepping forward to become a leader. As I stated before, Alice’s motivations are much stronger in this volume and it is helping to round out and grow her as a character. She’s quickly learning to think on her feet in order to keep one step ahead of the creatures that case them. She’s learning to be smarter about playing dumb, which sounds sort of funny but it’s what is helping her keep her fact-finding mission a secret from her master. This novel moves at a much faster clip, keeping the adrenaline of the characters and the reader at a high even in the last few chapters. It’s another series to read if you are missing Harry Potter or The Kane Chronicles and sure to delight those readers who really liked the first book. It’s guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Other related materials: The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler, illustrations by Alexander Jansson; The Palace of Glass (The Forbidden Library Volume III) by Django Wexler, illustrations by Alexander Jansson; Inkheart by Cornelia Funke; Inkspell by Cornelia Funke; Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke; The Books of Elsewhere series by Jacqueline West; Coraline by Neil Gaiman; Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein; The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein; Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein; The Mapmakers Trilogy books by S.E. Grove; The Thickety: A Path Begins by J.A. White, illustrations by Andrea Offermann; Jinx by Sage Blackwood; The Copernicus Legacy: The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott, illustrations by Bill Perkins; The Wildwood Chronicles books by Colin Meloy, illustrations by Carson Ellis; 13 Treasures trilogy by Michelle Harrison; The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey

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