Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review - Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: June 21, 2011
Source: BEA

Kat and Hale, my favorite thieves (after Eugenides, of course) are back at it. In the two months since the events of Heist Society, Kat has developed a reputation as a thief who restores precious works of art to their rightful owners. This time Kat is approached by an elderly woman who asks her to steal the Cleopatra Emerald - to return it to her family. There are a few problems with this particular job: 1. The Cleopatra Emerald hasn't been seen in a very long time, 2. Uncle Eddie had forbidden Kat (or anyone in the family) from stealing the emerald and 3. The Cleopatra Emerald is cursed. Kat, Hale and Gabrielle manage to put together a heist and steal the emerald. But that's only the beginning.

Ally Carter has brought us another action packed installment in the life of Katarina Bishop. The stakes are higher (yes, even higher than robbing the Henley), but the characters rise to the challenge while managing to get themselves into as many impossible situations as they can get themselves out of.

Let me start out by saying that since Uncommon Criminals is the second novel about Kat and co., you really need to have read Heist Society to understand some of the relationships and dynamics in Uncommon Criminals. A few things are referenced, but for the most part Uncommon Criminals assumes that the reader has already joined Kat and her crew for their adventures at the Henley. That being said, this new job in Uncommon Criminals presents itself with its own set of issues and challenges to work through.

Like Heist Society, it was the characters that drew me into the story. Again, the characters were written so clearly that it was easy to picture them as I was reading. Kat really shows herself to be a kick-ass heroine; she's smart, stubborn, can see a situation from multiple angles, and knows when to ask for help (well, most of the time). She has definitely matured since Heist Society and it's nice to see Kat use her new skills to solve more than one tough situation. She's quickly becoming one of my favorite heroines.

Hale...what is there to say about Hale that hasn't been said? I didn't think it was possible for me to like Hale any more than I did after Heist Society, but it turns out that it is and I really shouldn't have been surprised. It was great to see the relationship between cousins, Kat and Gabrielle, strengthen and grow. Dare I say that it was my favorite relationship to read about. Yes, Kat and Hale have their spark, but I like seeing how far Kat and Gabrielle have come from that first antagonistic exchange in Heist Society.  And of course Simon and the Bagwell brothers join in on the action too; it wouldn't have been the same without them.

The action was fast paced and Ms Carter knows exactly when to throw in a twist or two, just enough to keep the reader guessing and want to keep reading. Uncommon Criminals was a one read book that kept me up way too late, because I just had to get to the end.

I would recommend Uncommon Criminals to readers who love their mysteries with a side of thievery and a dash of international intrigue.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tens List with Sissy from Luminous

Today, Sissy from Luminous by Dawn Metcalf, joins us at The Serpentine Library to share ten things you would find in her room.  

Sissy's "Ten Things You'd Find In My Room in the Flow":

1) My computer. Don't leave the Flow without it! I have a recurring nightmare that I lose track of all my pieces because crashed.

2) A glass of purified water. It isn't saline, but it'll do. (Ever try washing your eyes off with tap water? Ouch!)

3) Comfy armchair. I'm glad because it makes everyone feel homey and not under interrogation, which is what I'm usually doing to them.

4) Fresh flowers. Sure, they're wildflowers that most likely irritate my allergies, but with a whole lot of them just outside the door, I can't resist.

5) A never-ending canister of compressed air. Great for cleaning the keyboard, pushing ping pong balls across the desk, having fun at's a keeper.

6) A compact mirror and an erasable marker. Consider it a primitive cell phone. I've got V on speed-dial.

7) Bubble wrap. I'm easily amused.

8) Cardboard boxes. See #7.

9) A roll of fax paper tied with a red string. No, I won't tell you what it says. I can't read Hebrew.

10) Last decade's edition of the Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. You'll never guess why! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - Dust & Decay

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

Dust & Decay by Jonathan Mayberry
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication Date: August 30, 2011

Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It's also six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny's zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny's best friend Lou Chong are going with them. 

Sounds easy. Sounds wonderful. Except that everything that can go wrong does. Before they can even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town. But as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, insane murderers and the horrors of Gameland –where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive? 

In the great Rot & Ruin everything wants to kill you. Everything…and not everyone in Benny's small band of travelers will make it out alive.
I love that even though, Rot & Ruin was about zombies, there were so many other layers to the story. My favorite part was how Benny's relationship with his brother, Tom, changed throughout out the story. I'm looking forward to reading about the next part of Benny's adventures with Tom, Nix, Chong and Lilah in Dust & Decay. The last line in the summary has me a little worried and I'm wondering if the cover is giving a hint of what's to come.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?


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