Red Glove by Holly Black

Last year I picked up White Cat and was fairly stunned at the creative genius involved in Holly Black's latest dark noir fantasy. A few weeks ago I finally read the second book, Red Glove, in her Curse Workers series and have not stopped thinking about it since. Red Glove was absolutely out-of-this-world, I'm-hooked-for-good, I-want-the-sequel-NOW Perfection. I'm not even kidding folks.

**Please, please!! If you haven't read White Cat yet - know that mild SPOILERS follow. Much of the appeal of this series is all the crafty cons and double-and-triple-crossing that occurs, so just trust me when I say, ignorance is bliss here. Honestly though. Why haven't you read these books yet?? I'm waiting over here...
Everyone has their claws in me. Everyone.
Once upon a time, Cassel Sharpe thought he was a powerless nobody in a world dominated by dangerous 'curse workers,' people who have to ability to kill, maim, even change your dreams with just a touch of bare skin. At least until Cassel discovered that his brothers had been altering his memory in order to keep secret his extremely rare and dangerous skill: the ability to transform anything. But Cassel isn't the only one who has been damaged by his family's duplicity: his childhood friend and longtime crush, Lila Zacharov was emotionally worked by his mother to fall in love with Cassel. Now Cassel has no way of knowing if any of what Lila says or does is real. And it's killing him to keep his distance from the one girl he's always loved.

Just when Cassel figures his life couldn't become any more complicated, a pair of Federal Agents pop up, demanding Cassel's help in solving a murder (...or else) that hits a little too close to home. Knowing he's walking a fine line between his con artist family and his own personal safety, Cassel begins to pick apart the mystery that leaves even our hero, the cool and ever unflappable con man that Cassel is, out of sorts and rattled to the core.

Let me tell you Holly Black wasn't experiencing any sort of mid-series slump when she penned Red Glove. If anything, her second Curse Workers novel is better than the first: the cons are twistier and the characters prove they have much, much more at stake. Every single one of Ms. Black's characters are dang good: Sam, Danica, Barron, and goodness LILA - each one is a pitch-perfect. And then there's Cassel. Boy howdy. I could read stories about that guy all the live long day.

Cassel has got to be my favorite male POV narrator (with Split running a close second that is). Full of candor and wit, at first glance Cassel seems easy going and full of life, yet scratch the surface and you discover this freaky-scary intelligent dude who is forever scrambling to keep up with all the various Bad Guys who have him in their sights. To be honest, Red Glove is probably one of the top books I've read all year - in any genre.

*And after you've gone and devoured Red Glove, I highly recommend you check out this short story, "Lila Zacharov in 13 Pieces," written from Lila's perspective on Holly Black's website. It's one freaking amazing collection of insights into Lila's character.

series reading order:
~ White Cat - my review
~ Red Glove
~ Black Heart (??)

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Bookshelves of Doom Review
Dear Author review
Girls in the Stacks review
Icey Books review
Novel Thoughts review

book source: my local library

"Making of Nightspell" Guest Post

Today I am so excited to welcome the incredible author Leah Cypess -- author of Mistwood and the soon-to-be-released Nightspell, which I really, really loved. Today Leah is here to talk a bit about her writing process for Nightspell - including some very awesome pictures of her writing notebooks. 
Making of Nightspell: Notebooks

This is the first of a four-part “Making of Nightspell” feature I’ll be doing as part of this blog tour. Ever wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes of an author’s work? Ever suspect it’s not half as exciting as what goes into making a movie? Well, here’s your chance! Starting with the glamorous world of notebooks.

I write my first drafts in longhand. Needless to say, because I’m a writer, I get obsessive about what type of notebook I use. It used to be that I used all types of notebooks, but would stand obsessively at the drugstore trying to figure out which specific notebook was right for this particular story. The notebook I ended up choosing when I first started writing Nightspell – at the age of 17 – was this one:

I filled about half that notebook, and wrote myself into a complete mess. Since I couldn’t see how to extricate myself, I ended up putting the notebook away and starting something new.

Ten years later, having quit my job to give full-time writing a try, I pulled that notebook out again and went through it, trying to figure out which parts of what I had written were worth salvaging. Most of it got nixed:

In fact, out of that entire notebook, I ended up with maybe a page’s worth of actual writing I wanted to salvage. And then I started from scratch. This time, my taste in notebooks had changed, ever since a friend in law school introduced me to these awesome notebooks from Japan:

I do a lot of writing on the playground these days, and these notebooks are wonderful for that: they’re really thin and fit perfectly into a small backpack. You can also fold them open and closed several million times without having them fall apart. These are the notebooks on which Nightspell was REwritten… for the first time.

For the next part of the Making of Nightspell, check out Books Complete Me on June 3!


Many, many thanks to Leah for stopping by and sharing her notebooks with us! 

Nightspell by Leah Cypess

Four years ago, Callie was forced to leave her home and family as part of an arranged marriage to the prince of Ghostland, despite being too young to marry at the time. Still she remained in Ghostland - essentially as a hostage to ensure a tenuous peace between their two countries.

From the day Callie was sent away, Darri vowed to rescue her beloved younger sister. Finally Darri gets her chance when she and her subtly cunning brother Varis travel to Ghostland to deal with the dangerous inhabitants there. More than a simple rescue mission awaits Darri in Ghostland however. Her sister is much changed, the politics of Ghostland are seemingly endless, and the people of Ghostland themselves prove extremely ruthless. That and the fact that it is almost impossible to tell who is still among the living and who is actually a ghost.

Once again, Leah Cypess has caught me with her unique writing, her unforgettable characters and her fantastic pacing in Nightspell. Even after experiencing the fantastic world building of her debut Mistwood, I was enthralled by the complex territory of Ghostland and its inhabitants. Leah Cypess doesn't write easy characters by any means. With the point of view switching from Darri to Callie to Varis and even various Ghostland inhabitants, you are given time to occasionally mistrust or love every single character. Literally everyone had some secret or other up their sleeve and the added tension of complicated court politics ensured that someone was always up to No Good.  And that includes the enigmatic and devious Clarisse whom you may remember from Mistwood, who true to form, manages to stir up trouble whatever land she happens to reside in.

As one of those authors who respects her readers enough to not have to spell out every single detail within her stories, Leah Cypess leaves much of the puzzle of Nighspell to her audience to discover. It's a quality I highly appreciate actually. It's also a quality that had me continually flipping back pages trying to work out details and the significance of certain passages. It's work, but a type of work that I enjoy as a reader and something that makes the reading process that much more enjoyable in  my book. In other words, Nightspell was one heck of an enjoyable book.

**Be sure to stop in on Friday -- Leah Cypess will be here to share her writing process for Nightspell.

series reading order:
~ Mistwood - my review
~ Nightspell

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Eating YA Books review
Kirkus Reviews
My Bookish Ways review

book source: ARC from the publisher

My Kind of Kindle

Check out how Rachel Walsh, a design student at the Cardiff School of Art and Design, decided to explain the concept of the Amazon Kindle to Charles Dickens.

She took one large book and cut out 40 little windows in which she placed miniature copies of Dickens' (and her own) favorite novels.

The artist explained that: “I made the book start to finish over five days, and it took about 35 hours to make I reckon. It was pretty painstaking cutting out all the gaps in the book itself, and making the books to go inside. They’re all bound like actual books, so as I waited for them to glue and dry I would design the covers for them. All the covers are copies of real book covers. They include many of Dickens’s novels, his favorite childhood books, and some of my own.”

In My Mailbox: Baby Boy edition

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. This meme is about books that you received or bought during the week.
This week I've got a very special IMM for you - almost weeks ago this little man joined our family:
Benjamin Golden
6lbs 2oz & 19.5" 

Needless to say, with a newborn around things will probably be a little quiet around this here bloggy for the next couple of weeks. I'll still be reading (of course), so I thought I'd share all the truly excellent new books that have come my way in the past two weeks.

This first stack I won from All Things Urban Fantasy's huge Paranormal Giveaway. Such a beautiful pile - some of which I've already read but some are new reads for me. Although I am especially excited about Franny Billingsley's Chime after loving The Folk Keeper a few weeks ago

And then these are the books I've bought recently. Many of which I've already devoured and loved, loved, loved. That includes the Sara Creasy's Song & Children of Scarabaeus books and Unsticky. Many thanks to Holly, Angie, and Janicu for their glowing reviews - my self-restraint is powerless in the face of such persuasive recommendations.

There you have it. The cute new baby boy and all the books that will hopefully keep me occupied in the coming weeks. Anything fun show up in your mailbox this week? 

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

This past year, I've come to discover some truly unforgettable Australian authors. Many due to the influence (and enthusiastic reviews) of Nomes who recently gushed about Liane Moriarty's latest What Alice Forgot. Well, discovering that Liane is sister to the incomparable Jaclyn Moriarty, I was more than ready to give her books a go on that point alone. Since Alice isn't available in my neck of the woods yet, I set about tracking down her backlist pronto and first up was the infinitely funny yet poignant novel about three sisters, Three Wishes.

Attracting attention wherever they go, the triplets Gemma, Cat and Lyn Kettle couldn't be more different - or closer. Gemma is the flighty one and can't seem to hold onto a job, or a boyfriend to save her life. While sarcastic Cat has always been in control and ready to take charge especially when it comes to her job and her marriage. And organized Lyn seems to have it all: the career, the loving husband, and the kids. As these three independent yet devoted sisters get ready to celebrate their thirty-fourth birthday, each will deal with heartaches and joys aplenty. From rocky marriages to unexpected pregnancies and even long-secret revelations brought to light, these three women manage to conquer each new obstacle in the trademark Kettle way - together.

I suppose I should go ahead and say that Liane Moriarty will now be added to my auto-buy list of chick lit authors. Up there with Jennifer Cruise and Julie James, Moriarty manages to capture the distinct personalities of these three dynamic women in such an endearing way without ever glossing over their less than savory attributes. Cat, Gemma, and Lyn are human. They make mistakes. But they each love deeply and are fiercely loyal to each other which makes me love them that much more. I adored their constant banter, which never fails to highlight their individual temperaments and how they continually poke fun at their infamous triplet status.
The birthday dinners had started in their mid-twenties. They were Lyn's ideas. "No partners," she had said. "Just the three of us. Seeing as we never give each other presents, it could be our present to ourselves."

"How very sisterly," said Cat. "How very triplety."

"It's a wonderful idea. I second it!" Gemma interrupted, as Lyn began to pinch her nose. "I know! We can each have our own birthday cake!"

And so the annual drunken Birthday Bash became an institution.

So you could say it was all Lyn's fault really.

This year they went to a new seafood restaurant in Cockle Bay, with shiny wooden floorboards, disdainful white walls, and sleek chrome hairs. The kitchen was a square box in the center of the room with narrow, horizontal windows revealing bobbing chefs' hats and occasional, rather alarming, fiery explosions.

"I hate it when you can see the kitchen staff," said Lyn. "It makes me feel stressed."

"You love feeling stressed," said Cat.

"You don't know me at all."

"Oh no. You're just a casual acquaintance."

A waitress with a blue-and-white-striped apron and a distressing row of silver studs under her bottom lip appeared at their table, her arms stretched wide around a giant blackboard. "Tonight's specials," she said, plunking down the board and flexing her fingers. "We're out of oysters and scallops, blue-eyed cod, and trout."

"Why don't you just rub out what you don't have?" asked Cat. "Is it just to torture us?"

The waitress shrugged, and her eyes flickered. "Ha-ha."

"Let's share the seafood fondue," interrupted Gemma.

"Could we get this opened soon, do you think?" asked Lyn pointedly, nodding her head at Michael's contribution to the evening -- a bottle of Bollinger.

"What's the occasion, ladies?" sighed the waitress, sounding like a jaded hooker, as she lifted an expert elbow, popped the cork, and began to pour their glasses.

"It's our birthday," said Gemma. "We're triplets!"

"Yeah? Oh, yeah?" The hand holding the bottle hovered precariously off course as she looked at them. Lyn reached over and navigated the glass under the liquid.

"How cool!" The waitress grinned. "Hey! You two are the same, right!"

"Five bucks and you can get your photo taken with us," said Cat.
Never a dull moment with these three around I say.

Cleverly added to the sisters' narrative, Liane Moriarty randomly included various accounts of strangers memories of meeting the triplets. As odd as it may seem, these vignettes (often hilarious) though from an outsiders point of view, often helped me to get a better handle on certain events and made each sister that much more understandable and accessible. Very clever Ms. Moriarty.

Three Wishes is an utter winner all about the highs and lows of being part of a close-knit family of sisters. I simply cannot wait to see what I discover from this fabulous author next.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
The Last Book I Read review

book source: purchased