Not So Itty Bitty Book Reviews
Okay, I know I’m breaking my trend of writing bite-sized reviews you can read, absorb, and then move on from but every now and then I run across a few books that hit me hard enough to warrant full sized reviews (for better or worse.) And since I’m honest to a fault, I’m going to hit you up with some honest to goodness truth about a couple of books that really made an impact on me over these last few weeks. Ready?
I picked this book out of the clearance bin at a Half Price Books. I liked the description and it seemed like it would be a fun read, a nice break from all the YA I was reading (and a good way for me to avoid the pile of to-be-read YA books staring at me accusingly from the corner of my living room.) I freely admit that I have never, ever read a book quite like this and I am very late to join the scores of fans this book and its author has at his beck and call. Locke Lamora is a passable swordsman but an excellent thief and an even better mastermind. But, the Thorn of Camorr, as he’s known in the dark alleys and back streets of the Venice-like city Lynch builds from the ground up in your imagination (and it is a fully realized city, with dirty streets and an intricate religious system and politics and wealthy nobles…it’s enough to leave you breathless) is like a knife in the dark, flashing when you least expect it. So Lamora builds on this (very inaccurate) reputation, letting his quick tongue and sly hand do the work for him while bards tell tales of the Thorn to the crowds. With money in his pocket and a loyal crew to watch his back, Lamora figures very little can go wrong, as long as he pays the right people and no one suspects that he is quite the master thief and a rather bad swordsman.
When the city’s politics, a favor for an old friend, and lessons learned long ago at the hands of a scheming priest all catch up to him, Lamora is torn between his plot and duty, honor and friendship. He and his friends find themselves on the run in the very city they had been running schemes on for years, never thinking that one day it might all end horribly wrong.
I truly can’t describe this book accurately. It’s like Oceans Eleven in its cleverness (because even the reader can’t see all the twists and turns coming), tons of action to keep the plot moving, and lots of inappropriate humor (not a YA book in the least, if you haven’t already guessed). I really recommend this to people who love Game of Thrones or any other dark/high adult fantasy novels, because it really is just brilliant.
The Beginning of Everything by Robin Schneider
Published August 2013 by Katherine Tegen
Argh, this book …..
First of all, I received this book as an ARC to write a review for VOYA. So while I won’t be recapitulating my review for that publication, I have to state that upfront. Secondly, the original title of this novel was Severed Heads, Broken Hearts. I think that title is much more appropriate (you’ll have to read the book in order to know why). Had I not received it for review, I wouldn’t have been so inclined to pick it up and read it under its current title…but Severed Heads, Broken Hearts? Who wouldn’t pick that up, even out of morbid curiosity?
All that being said, I have a deep love/hate relationship with this book. The short of it is, it’s a brilliantly written novel about a teenage boy, Ezra, who is a little too self aware, a little too self deprecating, but I found myself liking him anyways. He’s the star tennis player at his high school until a car accident over summer break leaves him with a leg that won’t work properly and suddenly he’s an outcast. His childhood friends, whom he’d drifted away from since becoming a big time jock, accept him back (not without some skepticism) and then there’s the new girl in school, Cassidy. Cassidy throws Ezra’s life off balance even more and he’s completely enamored with her. Before we all roll our eyes at the typical he’s in love with the chick who is just soooo different storyline, I actually need to defend Cassidy here. She is different, but in all the right ways. She is fiercely intelligent, wickedly funny, and you do want to hang out with her and Ezra and the rest of their little group.
But as the novel progresses and the relationship between these two grows, it’s clear that Cassidy has some demons she’s struggling with. And I started making guesses about her big secret only to discover that I was wrong, wrong, wrong. What I will say is this – all this build up through the novel leads to a spectacularly mediocre conclusion. I haven’t been this disappointed in the last fifty page of a novel in….well, honestly, I can’t remember when. This novel, up to that point, is so good, and I felt incredibly let down. But don’t let my opinion stop you, please. Read it for yourself and let me know what you think.
Catch you all later!