Whats New Category: Mystery

Curse Workers series by Holly Black

Holly Black is my favorite author, and she has been my favorite author since I picked up her book Tithe about 6 years ago.  I have always been a reluctant reader, and not because I don’t enjoy reading but because I am a slow reader.  However, Holly Black has been one of a handful of authors who catch my interest right from the first page and as a result I read their work voraciously.

The problem: after her 3rd YA novel, Ironside, was published in 2007 she was not publishing a new novel until May 2010.  It was a long time to wait! Granted, she did edit some awesome short story collections (like Zombies vs. Unicorns) but I really enjoy reading her novels.  So, I was excited to get my hands on first book in the Curse Workers series, White Cat, and I am now about half way through the second book Red Glove.

The Curse Workers series centers on Cassel Sharpe.  He has grown up a non-worker in a family of workers.  Workers, or curse workers, are people who have the ability to control emotions, luck, or even physically change someone all with the touch of a hand.  Most curse workers turn to organized crime to ensure their protection and also to use their abilities to their most profitable potential.  Cassel’s mother is not only an emotion curse worker she is also an expert con-woman who happens to be in jail right now.  So, Cassel is stuck in boarding school, where he is running a profitable gambling business using the tricks of the trade that his mother taught him.  Cassel, however, is scarred by the vague memory of killing his best friend, Lila, three years ago.  Lately, he can’t shake the feeling that there is something wrong, especially when a white cat shows up in his dreams and then in his reality.

Holly Black is most well known for writing about faeries (most famously for The Spiderwick Chronicles).  So, when I first heard about her new Curse Workers series, I was curious to see if she would be able to write successfully about something other than faeries.  Let me tell you, she did not disappoint.  Her concept for this new series is so interesting.  In the world she has created everyone has to wear gloves, since that is the way a curse worker “works”.  No matter what the weather or what you’re doing you have to be wearing gloves.  Even family members rarely see each other’s bare hands.  Also, in order to work someone the worker has to deal with the blowback.  So, when Cassel’s mother works another person’s emotions, she will then experience uncontrollable emotions for days after–depending on how much she worked the person.  Not only is Black’s mythology of the curse worker world so interesting, but I find myself instantly drawn into the story and mystery around Cassel and his place in his family and death of his best friend, Lila.  (Who, by the way, he also had a huge unrequited crush on…)

So, in case you couldn’t figure it out by this point I really like Holly Black’s new Curse Workers series.  Check out the series at the Library:
1) White Cat
2) Red Glove
3) Black Heart will not be out for about another year, but Black recently shared this photo of the cover on her blog:

 

Black also shared that a jewelry designer has created a set of jewelry inspired by the Curse Workers series.  Charms are big in the world of curse workers because they can help protect someone from being worked.  Here’s an important one that Black herself loves, the Resurrection Diamond:

 

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarab

Carly has been dead for a year.  Her ex-boyfriend Neily found her shot to death on the bridge where they often met.  Her uncle, Enzo Ribelli, was found guilty of her murder.  As an unfit father and an alcoholic, Enzo was quickly tried and convicted of Carly’s murder.  Though a year has gone by, Enzo’s daughter Audrey (Carly’s cousin and seemingly best friend), can’t move on.  Audrey is convinced that her father could not have killed Carly.  Audrey is determined to find the real killer and approaches Neily for help.

Since finding Carly’s body on the bridge, Neily’s life has been unwinding.  He no longer sleeps due to nightmares and he has allowed he perfect grades to fall.  Though Neily and Carly had a terrible breakup, Neily knew that Carly was different from other girls and he held onto the hope that one day Carly would come back to him.  Now that she’s dead, Neily can’t move on and is stuck dwelling on the death of Carly and what that means for him.

Told in alternating viewpoints of Audrey and Neily, this novel delves deep into each character and what connected them to Carly.  Jarzab weaves a great mystery here, told at just the right pace to keep you guessing until the killer is revealed.  Jarzab also tells the stories from different time periods.  You read about what is happening during the current day (Audrey and Neily’s senior year), but you also jump back in time to important moments–like to eighth grade when Neily and Carly first met.  Slowly these flashbacks reveal more and more about Carly and her murder.

I really enjoyed All Unquiet Things.  The mystery told here was very intriguing.  Sometimes books in alternating viewpoints are not appealing to me, but the way that Jarzab wrote All Unquiet Thingsmade it very easy to follow.  Even though everyone is a suspect in this novel, I also really liked the characters of Neily and Audrey and the way their non-romantic relationship develops.  The ending is very satisfying, as the truth about Carly’s murder is revealed in a way that is surprising but also plausible.  Pick this book up if you are looking for an excellent mystery to devour.

Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez

OK, the title alone, Dead is the New Black, should make you want to pick up this book!

I know that’s why I read it.

Everyone in Daisy’s family has psychic powers– except for Daisy.  Daisy is used to being the “norm”, and she is OK with being an average high schooler.  All she needs is her best friend Ryan, who she also happens to have a huge crush on.  However, when head cheerleader Samantha shows up at the start of the new school year clad in black and carrying a coffin around, strange things begin to happen at Nightshade High School.  Teenage girls are attacked and killed and Daisy’s family joins forces with the local police to help solve the murders, using their psychic gifts.  Daisy, though, is determined to find the killer with Ryan’s help.  Daisy doesn’t know it, but trying to track down this killer will put her in danger and have scary consequences–- like having to join the cheerleading squad!

This novel is a quick read, and it is hilarious because Marlene Perez has such a funny and sarcastic style of writing.  Dead is the New Black has a unique and interesting plot, that has been continued in a series. So far there are four books total in the series and the fifth book will be on bookshelves in May 2011.  Here’s the series order so far:

1) Dead is the New Black
2) Dead is a State of Mind
3) Dead is so Last Year
4) Dead is Just a Rumor
5) Dead is Not an Option

I recommend this book, especially if you want a fast read that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

True Blue reviewed

This review is taken from a MPPL Teen Summer Reading Program log:

I read the book True Blue by David Baldacci.  It was about a girl cop, Mace, who was framed for a crime.  She was sent to jail.  The book focuses on her trying to solve a crime to get back on the force.

Gallagher Girl series reviewed

This review is taken from a MPPL Teen Summer Reading Program log:

I read a book from the Gallagher Girl series.  It’s about a girl named Cammie who goes to a secret school for spies.  She learns about herself, develops her relationship with her mom and makes her friendships stronger.