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review 2015-09-20 15:56
#CBR7 Book 94: Black Heart by Holly Black
Black Heart - Holly Black

This is book 3 of a trilogy. This review, and even the book summary, is likely to contain spoilers for previous books in the series. Skip this until you're caught up.


Book summary from Goodreads, cause I'm lazy and it works well_

In a world where magic is illegal, Cassel Sharpe has the most deadly ability of all. With one touch he can transform any object - even a person - into something else entirely. And that makes him a wanted man. The Feds are willing to forgive him all his past crimes if he'll only leave his con artist family behind and go straight. But why does going straight feel so crooked?


For one thing, it means being on the opposite side from Lila, the girl he loves. She's the daughter of a mob boss and getting ready to join the family business herself. Though Cassel is sure she can never love him back, he can't stop obsessing over her. Which would be bad enough, if Lila's father wasn't keeping Cassel's mother prisoner in a posh apartment and threatening not to let her leave until she returns the priceless diamond she scammed off him years ago. Too bad she can't remember where she put it.


The Feds say they need Cassel to get rid of a powerful man who is spinning dangerously out of control. But if they want Cassel to use his unique talent to hurt people, what separates the good guys from the bad ones? Or is everyone just out to con him?


Time is running out and Cassel's magic and cleverness might not be enough to save him. With no easy answers and no one he can trust, love might be the most dangerous gamble of all. 


In the third and final volume of Holly Black's Curse Worker trilogy, Cassel has forced his older brother Barron into working for the Feds, and he's loving every minute of it, as he's able to use his memory working to get a whole load of cool fringe benefits. Cassel can't be officially recruited by them yet, as he's not 18, but the deal is that once he's finished his final year of school, he'll come work for them too. Now he's mainly using his practise missions to spy on Lila, the girl he loves and who pretty much hates him after the emotion work his mother forced on her wore off. Lila Zacharov is following in her father's footsteps, having quit school and become a gangster in training. 


Having not seen or heard from his mother in a while, Cassel discovers that Lila's father has her under house arrest for stealing and fencing his most prized possession, the resurrection diamond, a stone believed to have belonged to Rasputin, and whose owner can never be killed. He's been wearing a fake for years, but would like the original returned, and Cassel has no choice but to agree to try to locate it. Anything to be nearer to Lila, who lives in the same flat where his mother is now imprisoned.


The Feds need Cassel's help in neutralising a senator, who after emotion work performed on him by a number of individuals, including Cassel's mother, has become dangerously unstable. He keeps proposing mandatory testing of all citizens, wanting those who are proven to be workers fired from their jobs, and in some extreme cases, imprisoned. As the government also employs magically gifted workers, it's very much in their interest that the sentator is taken out of the equation. They want Cassel to change him into a dog, who they can keep contained. Every instinct Cassel has says this is a trap, and his brother's snooping confirms it. 


There is also a fairly boring subplot involving a school friend of Cassel's, hiring him and his roommate Sam to help her retrieve some photographs she's being blackmailed for. I thought the whole plot dragged quite a bit. It felt like it, as well as the extensive relationship drama between Sam and his girlfriend Daneca had been inserted mainly as padding, because Cassel's two main story lines - his doomed love for Lila and his moral quandary about transforming the senator, weren't enough to fill out the book.


What I really like about this whole series is that it's mostly a contemporary fiction series, with just a slight magical twist. The various worker powers are interesting to me, as are the implications of what such powers and the fear of them would do to a society. The books explore prejudice, fear and discrimination in an interesting way, and there is a tremendous range of morality in the various characters. There is very little right or wrong, just a whole lot of grey areas. Cassel isn't a very nice person, and has a lot of bad stuff in his past and present, but he keeps trying to protect the people he cares about and protect them as best he can. Sometimes he has to break the law to do that, but he doesn't want to become worse than he already is. He's killed people, but only because his brothers used him and made him forget it. He's caused a lot of pain to people he cares about, especially Lila, and so desperately wants to make up for it.


I found Barron's slight redemptive arc in this last book both promising and with the reveal of the picture on his phone, and what Cassel did with it, a bit heart-breaking. Barron has clearly been a sociopathic dick for much of the books, but you do get the sense that the brothers love each other despite all that. Their relationship with each other, and their mother, is very dysfunctional. I like their grandfather though, he's a nice guy, for all that he's been a mob assassin for much of his life.


I liked Cassel's solution to the dilemma he faced, and the tension in the aftermath, where his smart-arse ways were suddenly not enough to get him out of a bind. It was nice to see that the trust he'd learned to put in others over the course of the series paid off and that by the end of the series, things were seeming to look up for him. I said in my review for Red Glove that this would make an interesting TV show - a sort of paranormal Sopranos for young adults. Cast it with hot young things and it would probably do really well on the CW. 

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2015/09/cbr7-book-94-black-heart-by-holly-black.html
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review 2015-09-20 00:56
#CBR7 Book 93: Red Glove by Holly Black
Red Glove - Holly Black

This is the second book in a trilogy, and as such not the best place to start. This review will contain some spoilers for book one, because it's impossible to write about this book without talking about things that were revealed in the first one. So if you are new to these Holly Black books, go find White Cat - that's where to begin the trilogy.


Cassel Sharpe lives in a world where a select percentage of the population have certain gifts. People who, if they touch your skin with theirs, can alter your luck or prospects, manipulate or delete your memories, alter or change your emotions, break your bones or heal your illnesses. Some can even kill. In the United States, there is heavy legislation against what is known as such curse working. Everyone has to wear gloves, because you never know who might be a curse worker, manipulating you in some way. Because curse working is mainly seen as a bad thing (despite the fact that the majority of workers mainly use their powers to bring good luck or can heal the sick and injured), those who discover they are gifted with such powers keep it very secret, or go on to join organised crime, because all the major crime bosses are curse workers.


On the flip side of having a cool superpower, there is the blowback. Every time a worker uses his or her abilities, they get a reaction. Physical workers who use their powers to hurt or heal get sick themselves, emotion workers get very emotionally unstable, death workers actually lose body parts and memory workers lose their own memories. 


Cassel believed he was the only one in his family of grifters and curse workers not gifted. His mother can completely change people's emotions, his older brother Phillip could break people's bones, his middle brother Barron can completely rewrite or delete people's memories and his grandfather is a death worker. Cassel himself is one of the rarest of workers, he can transform items or people, alter their appearances or even change them into animals or inanimate objects. His mother and brothers wanted to keep him unaware of his gifts until he got older, so his brother Barron started changing his memories, making him think he was just a regular human. Over the course of the first book, Cassel discovers that his brothers kept rewriting his memories, using his transformation abilities for their own ends.


After Phillip and Barrons tried to move up in the world by trying to assassinate Zacharov, the local curse worker crime boss, Cassel made a deal that saved their lives, but led to the death of Zacharov's nephew Anton. Because of all the blowback from his memory cursing, Barron's memory is a bit like Swiss cheese, and he has to surround himself with photographs, notebooks, post-it notes and note cards to remind himself of who he is and what his memories are. Cassel has used his forgery skills to make Barron believe they don't hate each other, and go for pizza every fortnight. Their mother is out of jail, and to "thank" Cassel, manipulated Lila, Zacharov's only daughter, into being madly in love with him. Now the girl Cassel has always loved and feels horrible about betraying (I don't want to reveal how, as it's very spoilery) is attending his school, watching him like a love-sick puppy and he can't touch her, as she's effectively given a really long-lasting roofie.


To add to Cassel's difficulties, he is approached by Federal agents who tell him his brother Phillip has been murdered. The security footage show a hooded woman entering his building, wearing long red gloves. They believe Phillip's death may be the last in a string of disappearances connected to the Zacharov crime family, and want Cassel's help in solving the crimes. Looking at the pictures of the missing men, Cassel is worried he knows exactly what happened to them. Cassel is pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard place. He doesn't really want to actively work for Zacharov, but can't exactly turn around and work for the government either, as that would be seen as a betrayal of everything he comes from, and could lead to the death of Barron, his mother and likely Cassel himself. 


Luckily, over the course of the first book, Cassel discovered he has friends he can really confide in and trust. His roommate Sam, who is a special effects wizard and Sam's girlfriend Daneca, who is very passionate about protecting worker rights, helped him prevent his brothers' misguided assassination attempt of Zacharov. They are now his most important allies. Cassel's grandfather is also firmly on his side, with no illusions about his various family members, but as he's been part of the Zacharov crime family and lost four fingers because of death curses he's performed in the line of duty, so Cassel doesn't feel he can tell him the full truth. He needs to use all the tricks he's learned as a grifter to hold both sides off until he figures out how he can work out what is best for himself.


I first read White Cat, the first book in the series about five years ago, and it didn't really make much of an impact on me. Then one of my friends read the whole series and rated them so highly, saying he actually wanted to see a paranormal TV series based on them, and I figured I really should give them another try. When re-reading the first book, I liked it better this time and many of the problems I had with Cassel as a protagonist come from the fact that he's such a introverted loner. Once he starts opening up and making friends, he becomes a lot more relatable and I cared more about what happened to him. Which is good, because there is a more engaging plot in the first book than in this one. I was still interested in seeing where the story was going and how Cassel was going to play both sides against each other. My friend is right, this would make a very cool TV show.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.com/2015/09/cbr7-book-93-red-glove-by-holly-black.html
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review 2015-06-15 19:15
Black Heart by Holly Black
Black Heart (The Curse Workers #3) - Holly Black,Jesse Eisenberg

I listened to this book as an unabridged audio. It's read by Jesse Eisenberg  who does a decent but not awesome job. All of his characters pretty much sound the same. It was a good end to the series but for some reason it seemed to lag in places and get a wee bit boring. Who knows, maybe it was just my mood. It couldn't seem to grab and keep my attention for long like the previous two installments. There was a lot of stuff going on; mob jobs, double crosses, romantic entanglements and small doses of dark humor. I'd recommend reading the first two books and if you must know how it all ends, pick this one up when you're through.

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text 2015-01-07 18:48
Favorite reads of 2014!
I know i'm late. Sigh. But that's okay because I'm posting it now anyway. I only read 53 books this year which might not seem like a lot to some people, but to that's 20 more books than I read last year as well as the previous one. My goal was fifty and I accomplished thank the laaawd. 
Weirdly enough, I had a hard time choosing more than five books. I read a lot of good books and only a handful of great (probably less than a handful actually. let's be real) ones, but I don't know. When I went through my list, I just couldn't choose. Some books though blew me out of the water and made my favorite all time books list.
Anyway without further ado, here's the list. I'm also adding a few series that I've read and counting them as one book because I can. The list is in no particular order except alphabetically :).
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
First off, this book was absolutely beautiful. The writing was beautiful, the story line was beautiful, the growth of the characters was beautiful, and the ending was fracking amazing. I cried to it that's how good it was. I'm actually not a fan of books like this though (perks being an example and god did I hate that book despite the excitement I had building up before reading it) and I tend to stay from books in the contemporary (realistic fiction?) genre. But I saw that it had a slight LGBT theme and I just had to. I didn't care that it wasn't something I usually read, I just had to.
And damn it I'm so glad that I did. 
Briefly explaining what it is about. It takes place mid-80's, about two Mexican teenagers essentially finding themselves. It's told in Aristotle's P.O.V from the day he meets Dante and the growth in friendship that happens after that. To me, there was so specific plot. The message this book gives was so powerful that to  me that was the plot. 
God. It was was just soooooo beautiful. I tell everyone that read/wants to read Perks that they should read this one instead. 
The Assassin's Curse & The Pirates Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
What's better than a magic wielding assassin that is sent to kill a bad ass female Pirate? At the given moment, I have no answer. 
Ananna-the pirate-is to be wed off to another pirate clan but she does not want to and runs away.The clan she is supposed to marrying into sends Naji-the assassin-after her, but due to some unfortunate events, they are cursed and bound together. Naji is cursed to protect Ananna and the only way to break the curse is to accomplish three impossible tasks. 
I was sold on these books the minute I heard pirates. This duology was so intriguing (especially since I started it when I was on my 'historical' fiction reading binge) and all the characters were so sassy and awesome. The romance in these books deserves an A+. The growth of their relationship was so well written, despite that the fact that it wasn't an in your face romance. The romance happens in book two which I thought was different in a good way. The adventure aspect of the book overshadows the romance with I really enjoyed. 
However, I'm almost positive that the publishing company to these books has closed down, so if you're interested in these books, get them now before they're all gone!
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Cinder will still forever be my favorite, but I enjoyed Cress 10000x more than Scarlet. (Even though I could have done with the only main character being Cinder and Kai....) 
Anyway, most of you already know that this is the third installment to the Lunar Chronicles and this book focuses mainly (though the other Cinder and Scarlet still have their moments) on Cress, the retelling of Rapunzel if she was a Lunar stuck on a space pod. (Unfortunately I can't remember the exact name of where Cress lived.)
I love the world these books are set in and how Marissa Meyer describes everything was just so good.(I think I need to find more words than just good and enjoyable.) The characters in this one great, especially Captain Thorne. I was glad there was more of him in this book. Cress was also such a cute character. She fangirled over Captain Thorne. I mean... I would too. 
I especially loved it when Cinder and Kai finally met up again. Sigh. Does anyone else listen to kpop and imagine Prince Kai as Kai from EXO because I do. 
These books are just so much fun and compelling that it really is a must read.
The Covenant Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. 
Well really only the first four books and the two novellas as I'm currently reading the last one. This series has officially sold me on the author and I must read all her books. Seriously. I will be doing another post on this series once I'm finished but in short, this is one of my favorite series of all times. 
It's based around Greek gods who have mated with mortals creating demigods and their (demigods) pure blood children called the Hematoi and the Half Bloods, children of the Hematoi and mortals. The story is told from the half blood Alex's P.O.V and the things she has to deal after her mom was killed by an evil Hematoi or Daimon as their referred to in the book. 
Alex was one bad ass character and Seth and Aiden were awesome love interests and like I said, I'll be making another post soon so I don't have to ramble about this series right now. 
The Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black
 (Though I have the original covers of the first two...I prefer these more)
This was the first series I've read by her as well as my first more mature male p.o.v. I found this series to be really interesting and I loved the way Holly Black writes. 
First off, the main character's name is Cassel Sharpe and he lives in a world where curse working is illegal. Curse working in a way is a form of magic that some people can do like, one of his brother's can erase memories and his mom can manipulate emotions, his grandfather can kill people etc. However, there is always a blowback when someone curse works. His mother went crazy, his brother is losing his memories and has to write everything down, and his grandfather is losing his fingers. 
Everyone in his family can do some type of curse work, except him. He feels like the outcast of the family because he can't do anything special and he's not into conning people like his family is. He has a messed up life because his mom's a famous con artist and his brothers aren't the greatest and there's also the fact that he is under the impression that he killed his best friend. He becomes haunted with memories of her and that night.
The first book actually starts off with him sleep walking onto his school's roof after being lured by a white cat. I was sold on the series with that first chapter.
I really enjoyed reading about the art of how to con people and Cassel's p.o.v as well. The plot to this story was very different and flew through them. 
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
This was my second Rainbow Rowell book and it just made me want to read more. I already loved her writing from reading Fangirl but hoooooommmg it made me love it even more. This book again was so beautifully written I literally couldn't put this book down. I did a harry potter to this and read it under my blanket at night with a flashlight, that's how much I loved it. Eleanor and Park's relationship was just beautiful and I cried so much when they finally got together to when shit hit the fan and at the end. I wasn't the hugest fan of the ending but in a way, I also loved it. It was the perfect way to end it.
This book also showcases character growth with Park, the male protagonist. At the beginning of the book, Eleanor was the laughing stock of the school. She was new, looked different, and came from a poor family. Park was the typical teen, with popular friends and a good home life. On Eleanor's first day of school, the only seat available was next to Park and at first he didn't want to let her sit next to him because not only was everyone already laughing at her, he thought she looked like a mess. He obviously did anyway and it becomes a routine every morning for her to sit next to him and then eventually they start talking and he gets to know her and just ugh. The feels. He starts to realize what he did was wrong and how messed up his friends are and how appreciative he is of his family and what not. Ugh. More feels. 
This book was so sad and so good that everyone needs to read it. 
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. 
Yet another book by her. What a surprise. Not really. I need to read her other books. I have yet to get them but hopefully this month I will. 
The story is about twin sisters Cath and Wren who are off to college. The two were very close growing up yet when they get to college, Wren wants to go separate ways and do her own thing, leaving Cath to basically fend for herself. She did everything with her sister and not having her right next to her sets her a little off. 
Cath was so relatable because like a majority of people she is a fangirl (heh) and writes Simon Snow-which is based off of Harry Potter-fanfiction which plays a huge role in her life and I absolutely loved the little snippets of the book with the actual fanfiction of Simon and Baz. She also has to deal with a new and strange environment and I know what she felt like when she at a new school and having to make friends. There's this scene where her roommate asks her if she knew where the cafeteria was and Catch says no, which actually happened to me. In 11th grade, I never stepped foot into my new school's cafeteria. 
Levi was also an awesome and funny love interest. I would get so excited when he showed up.
This book made me feel all warm and fuzzy. It was adorable and a must read for all fangirls like myself.
Ink & Rain by Amanda Sun
Once I found out that these books were set in Japan-I was sold. It's no secret I really enjoy anything that has to do with Japan (I'll save that story for another day) and once I read the plot I just knew I had to read them. And my god did I enjoy these books, though not many people actually did. I guess some people thought they were too typical YA or JDrama-ish. 
This story follows Katie, an American, who had to move to Japan and live with her aunt after her mom passes away. There she has to deal with being a foreigner, learning a new language, and a new way of living with new customs and different food. There she meets a Tomo, a typical J-Drama bad boy, as he's breaking up with his girlfriend. But while that's happening, she sees something strange. She sees his artwork move. Things progress from their when his abilities start to go out of whack and the two try to find answers. 
I loved Tomo's and Katie's relationship too and how that progressed. One of my favorite literary couples right there. There was the immediate attraction to one another (not instalove) but the Tomo's abilities were reacting to Katie in a bad way so they had to stay away from each other. I'm a sucker for forbidden romance, sue me.
The way Amanda Sun wrote about Japan shows just how much she loves the country as well and the words she used to describe everything was authentic. It wasn't like someone just threw words in there and tried to write about something they didn't know about.
Also the art was an A+. There were pages showing Tomo's art and I really liked that.
These books made me want to visit Japan and learn the language even more. 
Legend by Marie Lu
This is the only dystopian book that I like. Really. It was the first book I read of that particular genre that didn't have a boring plot. 
We've got June, The Republic's Prodigy, and Day, The Republic's most wanted criminal. June's brother is murdered and Day is blamed and in order to capture him, June goes under cover and finds Day and shit hits the fan afterwards. 
For one, the characters were great. I love characters like June-if that wasn't obvious-where she is a very strong female lead. Smart, knows how to defend herself, doesn't take any crap.
And on top of that, the actual plot to the story was amazing. There's a plague that goes around the city and how that was interwoven into the plot and what's really going on with the Republic and the warring Colonies was so good that I finished this book in two days. 
The only thing that I wasn't a fan of was the romance, but it was such a minuscule thing that was forgiven because the actual plot was so amazing.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
I'm pretty sure everyone and their mom has heard about this graphic novel. But can I say I read this without the persuasion of booktube. Booktube always makes me read stuff that I do not like. Why I insist on listening to them, I will never know.
This was my first graphic novel I've read that wasn't manga and holy crap! It was sooooo good. It's about Alana and Marco who come from warring planets-except that Marco comes from a moon. Alana is a soldier and Marco gets captured with Alana having to watch over him. Within the span of (what i believe) is 24 hours, the two run away together. 
The story actually starts with Alana giving birth to their daughter and the story is actually told in her-the daughter's-p.o.v
I absolutely love the universe, the characters, the art style, the story line. Everything. To me there is literally nothing wrong with this series. Some people might think it's a bit graphic...which it is. Only for 18+ eyes only. Regardless, it's so good and if you're going to read a graphic novel, start with these. 
Shadow Falls series by C.C Hunter
I've never actually heard anyone talk about this series before and when I picked up the first one day I didn't have very high hopes. 
I was mistaken. 
The writing of these books was meh and the romance got a bit annoying, but I was still thoroughly into these books that I read all of them in the same month. The actual plot and how it developed was really good.
It's starts off with Kylie, and her arguing parents. They're getting a divorce and Kylie takes it hard so for some reason Kylie's mom sends her to a summer camp for troubled teen. Only it's not for troubled teens but the supernaturally gifted. Kylie sees something strange on the bus but she just thinks she's bugging out. When she actually learns about the supernatural world, she freaks out but she gets used to it and learns to live with it. Through out the first two books, she's still learning how to deal with the new world and I enjoyed that. It made it seem "real" that it took time to adjust. The story got better with each book. A darker theme comes into play and they were really enjoyable. 
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
This is another one of those beautifully written books that will just leave you in awe and wanting more. This was another book that gave me the feels. How the romance in the book was written and the relationship between Kestrel and Arin was so beautifully written and I loved the progression of it. The romance was one of those that when it happened, it was like a slap in the face. It wasn't something that happened quick, it crept up on me and when they finally kissed man. I got the feels hard. Best way for me to describe it. 
Besides that, Kestrel was a great protagonist as well. She wasn't physically strong, but she was a great strategist and bad ass in her own way. There's a particular scene in the book where Kestrel is involved in a duel and she wins it by her keen observations. 
Let me not forget to mention the plot. It was interesting because Kestrel's country had taken over Arin's and all of his people become slaves. That's how Kestrel meets Arin by purchasing him on a whim. I won't go into more detail because of spoilers but let's just say it was all a set up and the turn of events was very good. 
That damn ending though. I put the book and sat there like "Marie Rutkoski...why". What a damn cliffhanger that was.
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-07-08 19:32
White Cat by Holly Black: Review with Spoliers and what to read next.

I did really enjoy this book a lot. It was a fun first book in the series. I like the world building. I thought the way that workers was created and shown to us was so cool. I thought it was also intreating that the character of Cassel did follow conventions in many ways but it did then go against the grain in some very important ways. I did not see the fact that Cassel did not kill Lila coming to play and that really shocked me. I was not surprised by the fact that Cassel was found out to be a rare worker but it did shock me about all the "deaths" he was involved in and also how terrible his family turned out to be. I mean how mean the brothers were was enough but to add the ending when the men made lila fall in love with Cassel was just cruel. All of these people basically spent a lifetime working Cassel and that makes my heart break for this character and also made me become much more invested in this character and the series. I also really loved all the dream like parts in the novel they were some of the most engaging and visual and intense parts for me. I was able to feel like I was really in Cassel head and that was such a cool experience. That was largely thanks to the writing by Holly black. I have a lot of anger towards his family especially his brothers but I did really like his grandfather i thought that relationship was cool and very full of love. One of my favorite scenes in this book was when the grandfather killed Anton. It was such a gripping moment that I was on the edge of my seats. I really excited for the next book in this series and to hopefully get my hands on it soon.

Today I went shopping and got my hands on several more books that I am excited to read and i will do unboxing later in the month to unveil them. However now i am debating what book to read it is between clockwork prince by cassandra clare and the thief by megan whalen turner. I want to read them both i just don't know what book to start with. Well i will let you guys know what I read next. I will be sure to keep you in the loop. If you want to me review or talk about anything comment below!

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