Posts tagged ‘holly black’

June 7, 2011

Review: White Cat by Holly Black

by renata

White Cat by Holly Black was on my summer reading list. It’s the first one off the list I’ve read so far. And I didn’t even read it, I just listened to it. (It’s fine, it’s still the first week of June. I have time, right?) Anyway, it was so awesome, you guys! Normally I’m kind of ambivalent about audiobooks. I love the idea of them, especially for long trips. But in practice, I get fidgety. I usually end up listening to a disc and then changing to music for awhile, then putting in the next disc. I listened to White Cat all the way through, and I was mad when it was over. I already requested the sequel, Red Glove, from the library. (In audiobook form, of course, since it is also narrated by my celebrity crush Jesse Eisenberg.)

Partly I think this audiobook was successful because of its narrator (my celebrity crush Jesse Eisenberg). He was a perfect match for the book’s narrator, Cassel Sharp. Cassel’s a teenage con man attending an upper-crust private school. He’s often the smartest guy in the room, though he’s not always quite as smart as he thinks he is. I know not everyone loved The Social Network the way I did, but hopefully we can all admit that my celebrity crush Jesse Eisenberg is an excellent smartass.

JesseEisenberg

My celebrity crush Jesse Eisenberg

I didn’t know much about the book. I might not have read it if it hadn’t been narrated by my celebrity crush Jesse Eisenberg. But I’m so glad I did! I knew it was a fantasy book, which isn’t usually my jam. But for some reason I thought it was an old timey fantasy book, which really isn’t my jam. But, it isn’t! It’s my favorite type of fantasy book, which is, of course, fantasy books set in modern day where everything is the same except for one magical difference. I also love it when the political ramifications of magical differences are explored in detail. (This is also why I love X-Men so much, though I guess that’s sci-fi, not fantasy. Whatevs. See also: the scene from Harry Potter when the Minister of Magic talks to the regular Prime Minister of England. Totally awesome. Is that book 5 or book 6? Uhh either way, totally awesome.)

Anyway, the one magical difference in the world of White Cat is that some people are born with a magical power. These people are called “curse workers” and they’re very rare. There are seven kinds of curse workers, and the most common type is luck workers. As the name implies, these people can change your luck. Mostly, people hire them to be present at weddings and baptisms and stuff. But there are other ones, like death workers (who… can kill you) and memory workers (who can erase your memories, or give you false memories). It’s illegal to ever use these abilities, so most people who have them end up as criminals.

Everyone in Cassel’s family is a curse worker, except for Cassel. He’s the youngest and he’s still in school while his two older brothers work their way up the hierarchy of one of the biggest crime families. His mother is in jail after one of her cons went bad on her. Cassel has learned a lot from her, though, and even though he’s not a worker, he’s still a talented con artist in his own right. But he tries to downplay his family life at school–he just wants to keep his head down and fit in. He especially doesn’t want anyone to find out that he accidentally killed his childhood best friend, Lila. Unfortunately, Cassel starts having strange dreams of Lila that cause him to sleepwalk, and he’s forced to leave boarding school when he almost sleepwalks off the roof and the school declares him an insurance liability.

Cassel starts to suspect that someone is working him, and he starts to discover that things in his family are not what they seem.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but it’s all very exciting! I figured out some of the plot twists, but not all of them. I rate this book four Jesse Eisenbergs (out of a possible five Jesse Eisenbergs).

WhiteCat

White Cat by Holly Black

May 19, 2011

My Summer Reading List

by renata

Summer’s here! If not in weather–it’s cloudy and in the low 50s here in central Illinois–at least in official school terminology. This summer session I’m only taking one class (web design), and I’m hoping to catch up on some non-academic reading. (Okay, let’s be real, I’m taking classes on youth librarianship, so a lot of my “academic” reading is in size 14-font with a lot of pictures. But still, woo, summer!) Here’s some of what’s on my list:

  • Re-reading the Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins. I burned through all three of these books so Firequickly that I don’t even really remember half of the stuff that happened. And I need to have a good background so I can nitpick all the movie photos that are starting to leak out!
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Highly recommended by many, including Sandy and John Green.
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore. I loved Graceling, the book to which this is a prequel. (That phrase is awkward. Sorry.) Everyone I’ve talked to (sample size = 3) says that Fire isn’t as good, but that it’s still pretty good, so I’m willing to check it out. (If you haven’t read Graceling yet–it’s a must! A very cool fantasy world–and I’m not necessarily a huge fantasy fan–with great characters and a very suspenseful story.)
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Where She Went, the sequel to this, receShipBreakerntly came out, and everyone I know who’s read both raved about If I Stay and says that Where She Went is even better. If I Stay is about a girl in a coma deciding whether or not to live, and apparently it’s much more riveting than that plot summary might imply.
  • Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. Honestly, this book–a dystopia/post-apocalyptic kind of thing–doesn’t really sound like my cup of tea. But it did win the Printz award this year and I would like to at least have an opinion about it.
  • White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black–the audio book. Holly Black has been on my radar for awhile, ever since I read Zombies Vs. Unicorns which she co-edited (with Justine Larbalestier). She was Team Unicorn, as am I. (I highly recommend Z vs U, even if you do not have particularly strong feelings about zombies or unicorns.) Also, Stephanie Perkins was recently tweeting about her crush on Jesse Eisenberg (of Zombieland and The Social Network), which I share, and she mentioned that he reads the audiobooks for this series and recommended them, both for their own merits and for his narration. Anyway, White Cat is the first in a series about people who have magic curse WhiteCatpowers or some shit, I don’t really know. I’m going to wait until Jesse Eisenberg tells me about it.
  • More Meg Cabot! I loved the entire Princess Diaries series, but until I did a big project about Meg Cabot for my YA Lit class this semester I didn’t really realize how many books she’s written! Here’s a link to my project, which has info about her life and career as well as blurbs for all of her 50 + books. (And if you haven’t read the Princess Diaries yet–check them out! So funny and fun.)
  • The Pale King by David Foster Wallace. Not YA lit but it has been on my to-read list ever since it came out! It takes place in Peoria, which is kind of where I grew up. DFW is my non-YA, extremely-difficult-to-read homeboy. I will probably read this book at a ratio of one chapter of The Pale King to every complete YA novel I read this summer.

What are you planning to read this summer? Any suggestions for me?