Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: Deadly Cool

Title: Deadly Cool
Author: Gemma Halliday
Series: Deadly Cool #1
Published: 2011 by HarperTeen
Version: Paperback
Obtained: Library

Hartley Grace Featherstone is having a very bad day. First she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the Herbert Hoover High School Chastity Club. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And if that weren’t enough, now he’s depending on Hartley to clear his name. 
But as much as Hartley wouldn’t mind seeing him squirm, she knows he’s innocent, and she’s the only one who can help him. Along with her best friend, Sam, and the school’s resident Bad Boy, Chase, Hartley starts investigating on her own. But as the dead bodies begin to pile up, the mystery deepens, the suspects multiply, and Hartley begins to fear that she may be the killer’s next victim.

First Sentence:
There are three things you never want to find in your boyfriend’s locker: a sweaty jockstrap, a D minus on last week’s history test, and an empty condom wrapper.”

I’m a huge mystery fan. It was always a goal of mine to read all the yellow hardcover Nancy Drew books (I think I’m still missing two). Anyways, this series is a modern day Nancy Drew series. But instead of being naturally curious, Hartley is haphazardly thrown into this world of amateur crime investigation.

Throughout all of her investigation attempts, all on the down-low, Hartley remains hilariously upbeat. She’s literally living a horror movie, but the story comes across as humorous with great side characters, like her best friend Samantha (Sam) and her new acquaintance, Chase.

Although I probably should have figured out the culprit quickly, I didn’t. Not only is the mystery difficult, but it’s SO ADDICTING! I read this in one day because I could NOT stop reading.

The sequel is Social Suicide, and it’s equally perfect. This is just a fantastic series, so go read them if you love murder mysteries and hilarity.

Content Warning: Language

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: Death Cloud

Title: Death Cloud
Author: Andrew Lane
Published: 2010 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Series: Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins #1
Version: Hardcover
Obtained: Library

It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with eccentric strangers—his uncle and aunt—in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe. So begins Sherlock’s true education in detection, as he discovers the dastardly crimes of a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent.

First Sentence:
'You there! Come here!'
Sherlock Holmes turned to see who was being called and who was doing the calling

I love Sherlock Holmes. And by that I don’t just mean I love Robert Downey Jr., though I do, I really love the Arthur Conan Doyle stories of this unstable genius of a man. However, I wasn’t all that excited to read about Sherlock as a kid. Then something on the cover caught my eye and reassured me. This is the first series about young Sherlock Holmes to be endorsed/approved by the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate.

Everything about this book is amazing and CRAZY.
Sherlock has to go live with his uncle and aunt in the countryside during his school break. While there, bored out of his mind, Sherlock meets a new friend, Mattie, and together they attempt to solve a mystery concerning strange deaths. Soon Sherlock’s tutor, Amyus Crowe, and his daughter Virginia join in to solve the mystery.

The easiest way for me to explain the awesome behind this evil plot is to ask you to think of the Alex Rider series. If you’ve read any of them, you’ll know this type of completely ingenious but dementedly evil plots. This villain is just pure evil and when you finally see him . . .*shudder*. He’s perfect in his villain-ness. In order to beat him, Sherlock, Mattie, Amyus, and Virginia must travel around England and France and escape death over and over again. It’s intense.

This Sherlock is (obviously) younger and he’s beginning to gain the skills he perfected as an adult. It’s interesting to see him mess-up frequently because of inexperience. At the same time, he amazes me with his already budding genius.

I desperately want to read the next book, which has already come out. Consider this series if you love the Alex Rider series, if you love Sherlock Holmes, or if you just love mysteries/adventures.

Content Warnings: Possibly mild language

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy

Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Version: Hardcover
Published: 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Obtained: Bought

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

First Sentence:
I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.

This book is intimidating. I don’t know about you, but when I saw the page count (549 pg) and tried to understand the complex summary, I felt like giving up right there. Boy, am I happy I didn’t. I LOVE THIS BOOK.

Ismae is rescued from an abusive husband/life and brought to the convent of St. Mortain, the god of Death. There she learns to fight and kill and destroy men. As she is sent on assignments, she learns different things about the convent and who she is.

First off, I adored Ismae. I loved the feminism she possessed. While she was all “women are powerful,” she didn’t think men were inherently horrible. I mean, she had to get over the evil men from earlier in her life, but she soon understood that not all men were like those. Some men can love you for who you are and not hurt you. It wasn’t the feminism of Graceling by Kristen Cashore, where the powerful heroine doesn’t want to tie herself to any man. This was a true embrace of feminine power without down-grading men, aside from showing their weaknesses when it comes to beautiful women.

Ismae was a force of nature. Most epic, amazing, frightening assassin ever. She knew her job as an assassin and she wasn’t going to let anyone get in the way of her “calling.” However, as her big assignment progressed, she realized that maybe the convent wasn’t as perfect as she thought and maybe her “calling” was different.

Gavriel Duval, by the way, is like, the greatest guy ever. Their romance, which happens at the most perfect speed, is real. I knew where the emotions they felt towards each other stemmed from and understood what it would take to get past their differences and hang-ups.

The sequels to this book will be about Ismae’s two “sisters,” Annith and Sybella. I cannot wait to read about them, as they are introduced as such potentially complex and fascinating characters. The court intrigue did get a bit confusing and I was lost amidst the millions of names and evil plots. Also, one moment had me completely heartbroken for Anne. I felt despair and hopeless during that moment and had no clue how things could get better. Thankfully that wasn’t the ending. :)

I wait with eager anticipation for the two sequels to this fantastic book. I love the length, the world, the writing, etc.

Content Warning: Kissing, blunt talk of seduction, affairs, mistresses, etc., implied sex.

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