Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Heist Society by Ally Carter

"When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre...to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria...to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own--scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help.

For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history-or at least her family's (very crooked) history."

Overall: 4.5/5

As a huge fan of Carter's Gallagher Girls series, one of the things I couldn't help but notice about this book was how similar it is to her previous ones. The writing style, the personality and skill set of the MC, all of it was kind of ridiculously alike. And yet, Heist Society still managed to be a story all it's own.

Quite simply, I loved it. I thought it was brilliantly put to together and executed, and I have no idea how long it must have taken Carter to build the adventures of Katarina in her mind. I even have kind of a secret hope that this book will eventually be the (albeit loose, character-wise) basis for an Ocean's 14 movie to be made.

And, to add to the brilliance (though I think this probably had less to do with Ally Carter and more to do with her cover-designer), I love that little Mona Lisa smile on the cover! Irony, anyone?

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Ending: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Happy factor: 5/5

Other books by Ally Carter: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You, Cross my Heart and Hope to Spy, Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

"Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself."

Overall: 5/5

I'm in love. Yes, with the book too, but mostly just with Jay. Part of me wonders why I get so sappy about fictional characters, but then the rest of me just tells that part to shut up and just enjoy it.

As for the rest of the book, it was pretty darn amazing too. Violet was the kind of character that I could easily see myself being friends with; strong and independent, and with enough spunk to make it all interesting. And the ability to find dead bodies? Kind of creepy, but also morbidly cool. Derting did a fabulous job telling this story in such a way that it wasn't completely gross, which is a bit of a feat.

I can't help but wonder what's going to come next.

Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Ending: 4/5
Cover: 5/5
Happy Factor: 5/5

This is Kimberly Derting's first book.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

In My Mailbox (18)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week!

Due to a lack of an internet connection for a while there, I actually have two weeks worth of new books to share. So, fianlly, here they are:

(Becuase I'm an essentially lazy person by nature and there are so many books this time, I'm just going to put up the Goodreads links)

Runaway by Meg Cabot
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine

Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson
The Shifter by Janice Hardy

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Wow, that was a lot less painful than copying and pasting a synopsis for each one. I may have to start doing this on a regular basis.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

"Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her."-Goodreads.com

Overall: 5/5

I loved this book! I wasn't sure that I would, becuase it tends to go 50/50 for me on witch books. But this one grabbed my attention from the start and didn't let go. The characters were real and the plot twists caught me completely by surprise. Way to go, Hawkins!

It surprised me with this book that magic seemed to come so easily to the characters. I guess I've gotten in the habbit of thinking of magic in a way where it takes lots of time and practice and concentration to get anywhere with it, rather than it just showing up naturally and painlessly once the recipient comes of age. I almost think of this as a flaw, because life rarely allows anything worth having to come easily and painlessly. But then again, who am I to say that it's not plausible?

I'm trying to think of what else I can say about it without giving anything away, and I'm not coming up with much. Just know that this is an incredible book that is a must-read. I can't wait for book 2, Demonglass, to come out!

Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Ending: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Happy Factor: 5/5

This is Rachel Hawkin's first book.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Just Couldn't Do It

You know how, sometimes, you just can't make yourself read a certain book?

I really hate it when that happens, particularly when it's a book I really want to want to read. The most recent book that I've run into this problem with: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.

I've been holding onto this book for a couple months now, sure that I would pick it up eventually. And it just kept sitting there and sitting there and getting pushed bback farther and farther in the tbr stack. Finally, I grabbed it, made it three pages in, and had to put it back down again. It's officially time for me to call it like it is and say that I am sinerely not in any way interested in this book.

This pains me greatly because I'm a huge Westerfeld fan. His Uglies books were some of the key books that really got me hooked on reading, and his Midnighters books were beyond brilliant. When I heard that he was coming out with a new series, I was thrilled. So here I am now, a little shocked and confused as to why I can't seem to make myself read this book.

So I did a mental disection, using what little I know of the book. Here it is:
  • This is a book set during WWI
  • It follows a man named Aleksandar through his battles
  • There is also a girl named Deryn thrown in there, with whom Aleksandar most likely inevitably falls in love with
  • It's written by Scott Westerfeld

The top two of these are cons in my book, and the bottom two are pros. I can't stand books set between the years of about 1910 to approximately 1990, mostly because most of them will involve one of the World Wars or the Vietnam War in some way, shape, or form. But also because I just can't understand those time periods. They're so close to ours, and yet so completely different. It just doesn't quite mesh with my brain.

I also very much dislike male protaganists. I know, all me sexist or whatever it is that you want, but I can't connecct with them or their stories unless they have total kick-ass stories to tell. Hearing that there's a girl thrown in there, along with the hints that there's going to be a romance thrown in as well, gave it a bit more promise. But, if we're being completely honest, I would have to say that the romance aspect of the story has never been Westerfeld's strong point and certainly not enough to base reading an entire 434 page novel off of.

And so we come to the last bullet point. If any other author had written this book, I never would have even glanced at it. It's really a tribute to Westerfeld that I tried so hard and for so long with this book. But in the end, even that wasn't enough.

Is this just me, or are there other people out there that have books like this? I genuinely want to know.