Monday Mini (9): White Cat by Holly Black

Posted on Nov 28, 2011 in 2011 | 4 comments

It’s Monday morning, the alarm clock just went off and everything is rush rush rush to get ready for the work week. Unfortunately there’s limited time for book talk, and even less for blogging, but we still MUST share some book thoughts before we dive into the day. A Monday Mini is a quick little review typed with one hand, while coffee is made, makeup is applied and car keys are found with the other. Have a great Monday morning!

White Cat

Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Date: May 4th 2010
Pages: 310
Genre: YA- Paranormal
Source: Purchased

From Goodreads:

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a while now but for some reason I had yet to pick it up. Maybe it’s the seriously creepy cover. Those gloves alone are enough to send me running. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve gotten in to darker YA so I guess it was just time to read this one. I’m so glad I did because it’s positively fabulous!

This is my first Holly Black book and I had no idea how awesome she is. White Cat was fierce. Even with its dark, nasty magic performed by wicked evil doers I was immediately rooting for the bad guys. Curse workers have formed a sort of magical mafia where they’re still busting knee caps in an old school way only in Black’s world they do it with their minds. I loved Cassel from page one. Believing that he lacks the powers that the rest of his family has, he still engages in the same manipulation and subterfuge that his twisted kinsmen do but with his wits alone. Oh and then, THEN there’s the part where he turns out to be the biggest badass.

I’m liking YA books from male points of view. They’re rare enough to make them a real treat whenever they’re stumbled upon. The sequel, Red Glove, was released this past April and I need to get my grubby little hands on it.

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Monday Mini (8): Chime by Franny Billingsley

Posted on Sep 12, 2011 in 2011 | 1 comment

It’s Monday morning, the alarm clock just went off and everything is rush rush rush to get ready for the work week. Unfortunately there’s limited time for book talk, and even less for blogging, but we still MUST share some book thoughts before we dive into the day. A Monday Mini is a quick little review typed with one hand, while coffee is made, makeup is applied and car keys are found with the other. Have a great Monday morning!


Chime
by Franny Billingsley

Published March 17th 2011 by Dial
More at:
Goodreads
Website

From Goodreads:
Before Briony’s stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family’s hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it’s become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He’s as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she’s extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn’t know.

Very interesting little read here but ultimately I was a bit underwhelmed.

I loved the language of the story (and I do mean loved), the sing-song way the characters spoke. Everyone spoke that way; humans as well as fae(-ish) and it made the mundane seem just as exciting as the magical. The main character Briony and I never really meshed what with her constant protests of just how wicked she was and yet nothing ever really happening. I wished it hadn’t taken until the last few pages of the book to let on to what was going on. The ending seemed very “And all of a sudden…” to me.

Adorable hero, Eldric- loved him instantly for his great sense of fun and willing to embrace the ridiculous. Briony’s sister Rose, quirky little thing that she was, would have made for a much more interesting story and I was disappointed whenever a scene was without her.

Eh.

Thoughts?

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Monday Mini (7): Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien

Posted on May 30, 2011 in 2011 | 0 comments

It’s Monday morning, the alarm clock just went off and everything is rush rush rush to get ready for the work week. Unfortunately there’s limited time for book talk, and even less for blogging, but we still MUST share some book thoughts before we dive into the day. A Monday Mini is a quick little review typed with one hand, while coffee is made, makeup is applied and car keys are found with the other. Have a great Monday morning!


Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien

Published March 30th 2010 by Roaring Brook Press
Goodreads
Website

From Goodreads: After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.
Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.
Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, Birthmarked explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.

Another great dystopian world in which women are merely breeders trying to save the human race. If I didn’t absolutely LOVE this kind of story, I’d be highly offended. Or flattered- since apparently only women will be able to save mankind in the future. Go us.

The people inside the Enclave are dying. Diseases they thought long gone have begun to claim the lives of their children. Years of inbreeding have rendered their offspring nearly nonviable and the need for babies from outside the wall is growing at an alarming rate. Gaia must “advance” the first three infants she delivers every month. To “advance” an infant is to take it immediately from its mother after its birth and turn it over to the orphanage inside the Enclave where it will live in safety and luxury, free of want for the rest of its life. Or at least that is what the people forced to live outside the walls, in poverty, are made to believe. To them, the Enclave is a paradise that they will never be fortunate enough to enter. The Enclave controls everything. The limited food and water left after the world’s climate changed resides within its walls and the commoners outside are given rations. When a child is advanced, the mother is given extra food and water for her troubles. Oh boy. They take your baby and give you lab created fungus curd and rain water. SIGN ME UP.

Gaia is a great, strong female lead who fears absolutely nothing and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Her single minded determination to save her parents who are being held inside the Enclave was most admirable. Then I got to thinking about it. If your job was to take a newborn out of the arms of its protesting mother and turn it over to an organization that would let all your people die if it weren’t for their offspring- you’d have to be pretty tough.

Didn’t like the love interest. He was a wishy-washy sap. No use for him.

Another fabulous, harsh, gritty Dystopian read where one person is able to hold on to a tiny spark of hope in a world that no longer has any. Love love love the world O’Brien has created and looking forward to the sequel this fall.

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Monday Mini (6): Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach

Posted on May 16, 2011 in 2011 | 1 comment

It’s Monday morning, the alarm clock just went off and everything is rush rush rush to get ready for the work week. Unfortunately there’s limited time for book talk, and even less for blogging, but we still MUST share some book thoughts before we dive into the day. A Monday Mini is a quick little review typed with one hand, while coffee is made, makeup is applied and car keys are found with the other. Have a great Monday morning!


Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach

Published March 31st 2011 by Speak
Goodreads
Website

From Goodreads: A haunted castle, a handsome young man dead for four hundred years, one heck of a scary portrait of a witch, and a treasure hunt — not to mention a princess for a roommate! — all await 15 year old American girl Caitlyn Monahan when she earns a scholarship to a French boarding school.

There are secrets behind the stone walls of Chateau de la Fortune, buried for centuries along with the mystery of who killed Raphael, the charming ghost who visits Caitlyn at night. But as Caitlyn unearths the history of the castle, nothing scares her as badly as the secret she learns about herself, and the reason she was chosen to come to the Fortune School.

And nothing breaks her heart as badly as falling in love with a dead guy.

This was just the sweetest little book. I’ve been reading Lynn Kurland’s paranormal romances and I’m a sucker for a ghostly love story. I loved all the magic throughout this book! Witchcraft and time travel and so much mystery. The research and history that went into this little work was above and beyond. The author didn’t skimp one bit on her world building and background, taking bits and pieces from historical truths and embellishing them to fit her story.

Caitlyn literally finds Raphael, the man of her dreams, in her dreams. Each night she falls asleep hoping that tonight he’ll return to her and together they can solve the mystery surrounding the castle and Raphael’s untimely death.

It’s one of those great YA boarding school novels (you know you love boarding school novels) that you just can’t help but get lost in, complete with awkward new friendships and adversaries. This was a charming little love story.

Lisa Cach is apparently a romance novelist. We should talk.

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Monday Mini (5) – The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

Posted on May 2, 2011 in 2011 | 2 comments

It’s Monday morning, the alarm clock just went off and everything is rush rush rush to get ready for the work week. Unfortunately there’s limited time for book talk, and even less for blogging, but we still MUST share some book thoughts before we dive into the day. A Monday Mini is a quick little review typed with one hand, while coffee is made, makeup is applied and car keys are found with the other. Have a great Monday morning!


The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
Published :P ublished June 1st 2010 by Sourcebooks Fire

From Goodreads:
Sometimes I still wake up shivering in the early hours of the morning, drowning in dreams of being out there in the ocean that summer, of looking up at the moon and feeling as invisible and free as a fish. But I’m jumping ahead, and to tell the story right I have to go back to the very beginning. To a place called Indigo Beach. To a boy with pale skin that glowed against the dark waves. To the start of something neither of us could have predicted, and which would mark us forever, making everything that came after and before seem like it belonged to another life.

My name is Mia Gordon: I was sixteen years old, and I remember everything.

This little gem was an unexpected surprise. At first, the story itself threatened to be rather unremarkable. Girl goes to stay with her cousins for the summer in the Hamptons. Cousins are rich elitist snobs, girl is average run-of-the-mill teenager who is overly self-conscious and eager to fit in. So I went into it not really expecting a whole lot. What I didn’t expect is to get hit with a tidal wave of self-discovery and emotion. I did a disservice to you, little book, by prejudging you and I am sorry.

At first, I didn’t like the main character, Mia. She always professed to being a person of more substance than she was and yet I never really saw any examples. All talk and no action so to speak. Mia spends a few weeks at the end of a rapidly fading (and disappointing) summer vacation, with the boy next door. Simon is the opposite of everything her cousins feel is “in.” He is carefree, unique, artistic and refreshing. No love at first sight, no crush on the wrong guy complex going on, just a nice simple friendship with the hint of the possibility of more. Through her relationship with Simon, Mia learns to let go of her need for acceptance from those who really aren’t worth the trouble to begin with.

A nice little summer read, complete with the beach and all.

(I want more contemporary beach YA. Suggestions??)

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