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Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Cure for Your Book Cravings

Recently I’ve been doing this thing where I’ll get a very specific book craving and spend an obscene amount of time tracking down a book that fits. I mean, there are books I want to read and have heard wonderful things about that I’ll just pass right by in order to quell this hankering. It’s like those times when I get an intense craving for pizza and, no, I cannot just settle for pasta, thank you very much.

So I thought it might be nice to, as I’m reviewing the following books, let you know of any literary cravings they might quash. (You can thank me later.) But instead of writing a War and Peace–length post, I figured I’d give you two reviews at a time over this week and next. For our first pairing:

You feel like: Mystery, murder, and isolation
Try: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury. 
But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. 
Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
High school Tracey would have loved this book. I know this because high school Tracey fiercely loved And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, off of which this book is based. Much of what I loved in Christie’s original was present here: an isolated setting, mysterious gathering, and ten guests getting knocked off one by one by one of their own. I didn’t know how much McNeil stuck to the storyline, and I was prepared to be pissed if the killer turned out to be someone other than the ten characters we knew—say, some random person hiding on the island. I wasn’t let down, which isn’t spoiling anything for you. Going in, we know this: There are ten teens. One is the killer. Many will die.

Yup, pretty awesome premise. The mystery was good, though I did suspect the killer. I will say, the clues were pretty heavy handed when it came to incriminating a certain character, which meant I knew without a doubt who wasn’t the killer. Still, McNeil throws suspicion on enough people that I was always guessing. The pacing is spot-on. This story never lags, nor does McNeil take too long to get to the murders. Which, of course, is what I was reading for. (Because I’m a sick, twisted girl.)

One final note: I don’t really get scared while reading, so I can’t say this kept me up at night. Still, it’d be a pretty great book to read on Halloween if you’re looking for the equivalent of a slasher flick.

You feel like: Historical fiction, witches, forbidden love
Try: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave. 
Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra. 
If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.
Aside from the fact that Spotswood’s book is about witches, which happen to be a giant part of Halloween, there’s not much similar between Ten and Born Wicked. Wait, that’s a lie. There’s also romance in each book, and if that’s what you’re looking for then pick up Born Wicked because it’s all sorts of swoony.

I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, which is why I put off reading this book for so long. That was stupid of me since A) this is more paranormal romance than historical fiction, and B) this world has an alternate history. The latter threw me for a loop since I hadn’t expected it, but it works and I liked the subtle twists Spotswood threw in. And while description of life in Puritanical New England was just right—not so much detail that I was bored with a history lesson but enough to create a vivid world—it’s not the reason I loved this book.

What really won me over was the relationship between Cahill sisters, all witches who must hide their power or risk being locked up or killed. I also can’t write this review without mentioning the adorable romance between Cate and Finn, who was one one my favorite characters.

Born Wicked is one of my favorite reads of the year. I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel (the publication of which is trying my patience; it's not out until June of 2013) hoping for even more sibling rivalry and tension. And Finn.

And that’s all for today, friends. Next time: What to read if youre looking for a book with a lush setting or plenty of action.

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