Friday, August 9, 2013

Mini-Reviews: A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness and PERFECT SCOUNDRELS by Ally Carter

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.
Ugh. Just... ugh. You know the saying "Good things come in small packages?" Well, this small package contains a sparsely worded sorrow-bomb with a side of ugly tears. I've never read a Patrick Ness book before, but if A Monster Calls is a solid representation of his style, I completely understand the appeal.

A Monster Calls is probably one of the most beautifully written cancer books I've ever read. I almost called it MG, and while that's its official category, I hesitate to so narrowly confine its readership. Mr. Ness writes with a Bridge to Terabithia quality that children and adults alike will appreciate, though I suspect that appreciation only deepens with age. It reads like a fairy tale, but one that lacks clear-cut heroes and villains. There are stories inside this story, parallel worlds that mirror the whole, revealed by the monster to Conor. Good people do bad things. Bad people do good things. Motivation, thoughts, and actions snarl together to create a world less than black-and-white but entirely more similar to life as we know it, despite being narrated by a talking tree.

It is a small book, so it receives a small review. But do not mistake small for powerless. A Monster Calls will gut you as few books can.

Note: I received a digital ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it's that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting-or stealing-whatever they want. No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale's family, all bets are off when money is on the line.

When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother's billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there's no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won't let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother's will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company's fortune. So instead of being the heir-this time, Hale might be the mark.

Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she's willing to save her boyfriend's company if it means losing the boy.
Ally Carter is awesome. Her series follow a fantastic pattern by starting out light and fun before progressively growing darker and more intense. I love it, because I grow more concerned with each book, so the series never loses its shine. Perfect Scoundrels stays true to form as the most intense Heist book to date. The stakes are higher than ever in every possible way. The typical don't-get-caught suspense abounds but is compounded by the thorny dilemma of treating Hale as a mark. Throughout the book, Kat questions if what she is doing is right. What if she loses Hale forever? What if she hurts him irrevocably? Ms. Carter also adds a level of physical danger that is both new and welcome. I've never truly feared for Kat's life before, so the tingles of fear up and down my arms were a welcome addition.

Ally Carter is and always will be my go-to for fun, adventure, and awesome hijinks. I'm so glad she kept the ball rolling for Kat and the gang in Perfect Scoundrels, and I look forward to their next adventure.

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