Why White Cat is like Crashing a Sexy Motorcycle

Let’s face it: being creative is hard. And being creative online is even harder. And having a blog series planned and never quite being sure how to get around to writing it is hardest.

So in my agony, someone told me to write this blog post.

And I’m not pointing fingers or anything, but it’s Snifferblog‘s fault.

So if I make you want to read this book at all: thank me, but blame him.

So, White Cat.

White Cat is the first book in Holly Black‘s The Curse Workers series. It consists of:

  1. White Cat
  2. Red Glove
  3. Black Heart

and is the one series I will unabashedly make anyone read regardless of genre orientation. They rank in my top three series, Red Glove in my top ten books, and Holly stands as my second favorite author, ever.

So obviously I think pretty highly of them.

But why is White Cat like crashing a sexy motorcycle? And how come my writing partner hit the nail on the head without having read the book yet?

Okay, admittedly, it could have something to do with the original cover publication:

whitecat(I may or may not have forced said writing partner to take home this edition out of my personal collection of…4+ copies. This may or may not be a common practice of mine. “Go on,” I say to skeptical friends, who have no choice but to take the book from my eager hands. “Give this a shot. I will tell you very little about it but sing its praises until my dying day. Go forth and read, dubious friend.”)

And so, admittedly, this cover looks like a kind of cheesy crime novel that may or may not involve a motorcycle or something. Right?

(Spoiler: No motorcycles of any kind are ever featured, much less crashed, over the course of this series.)

But there’s something about White Cat and its ensuing journey that makes this particular aesthetic inexplicably right. I can sum it up on one word:

Cassel Sharpe.

Cassel Sharpe is the hero of this story, and this boy is very much the living idea of crashing a sexy motorcycle.

Cassel Sharpe is a hot mess. Even outside of the things he struggles with inside the plot (having magic used upon him, having magic himself, murder, mayhem, school, love, hate, betrayal, the FBI, etc.) Cassel has a lot of issues.

For instance, the boy practically lives off of crappy coffee. It’s like a superpower, this ability to exist purely on caffeine and occasionally making it to dinner.

Perhaps this is the reason for Cassel’s particular brand of bitterness and smart-assery. Because another thing about Cassel Sharpe that makes him the perfect rider for this motorcycle wreck is that his heart seems to be about as black as his coffee. Cassel is very good at being involved with the magic mafia and also at lying to your face–and himself. “I’m fine!” He says, pushing 90 on the interstate without a helmet on.

And that never ends well, now does it?

Cassel’s funny. He’s funny, because he’s a very genuine person, while also being a great con. And you can’t trust him but you love him anyways, and some part of him will always be Devil’s Backbone by The Civil Wars, but the thing is another part is definitely Mr. Brightside, and what a contradiction that is. And really, I think that someone needs to tell him about Billy Joel’s Vienna and set his heart straight.

Because Cassel Sharpe is so stupid. He’s so enormously stupid. I mean, who buys a sexy motorcycle anyways? What kind of person owns a sexy motorcycle? The stupid, messy, conflicted, emotionally reckless kind, that’s what. The kind of person that is so very much a living, breathing thing that they–as a character–have major influence on their story as a whole.

Which brings me to why Cassel Sharpe is the reason White Cat is like crashing a motorcycle. Cassel inhabits his world and drives it around as much as he would a piece of vehicular terror like a motorcycle. Around and around he goes, down streets and alleys and up into different cities and back to school and around and around some more, roaring into places and roaring back out again and leaving behind burnt rubber and the smell of exhaust.

Cassel is atmosphere. And he makes the atmosphere of any place he’s in better by being in it.

So I guess that’s kind of where the sexy part comes in, since we’ve covered the crashing.

Are you beginning to understand? I hope so.

White Cat is like gravel in your palms and blood on a leather jacket, and walking away from it like a miracle with a smile. Just like that.

“Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” and Driving Scary Cars

So I got my friend to read one of my favorite books. His review is probably one of the best you’ll ever find.

Sniffer Blog

by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea in One Sentence
A book like driving a sports car for the first time, but not knowing how.

Rating
• • • • • ·
5/6

Genre: Horror / Romance / Drama

Why Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea?
This is a dangerous novel, my friends. I found it nestled in the beautiful shelves of Half Priced Books, received an immediate glowing recommendation from Linnea at Reach, and bought it without question. I held it close during the car ride home, sucking up the atmosphere that was  melting out of the pages. I felt the greatness. I wanted to drown myself in the words.
And so I took it home and threw it on my waiting pile.
I recall something similar happening with one of my favorite books, The Raven Boys. Why would I make…

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The Suffering

‘Tis the season, readers of mine.

September Scares

October ghOuls (don’t judge)

December Death

Fall Frights

In other (better) words: THE SCARY BOOKS ARE BACK, PEOPLE.

This one is going to be one of the best. Just you watch.

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The Suffering

  • Author: Rin Chupeco
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
  • Year: 2015
  • Genre vibe: Horror, of course
  • At a glance: Things have been pretty normal for Tark since book one. He’s got a ghost now, and she’s a professional murder, and things are fine. He’s a budding exorcist and he and Callie are going to Japan soon. Then Kagura disappears, along with the cast and crew of an American ghost hunting TV show. Tark, Callie, and Okiku go looking for them, in the depths of Japan’s Suicide Forest. Things go straight down from there.

So I’m sure at least some of you remember The Girl From the Well. It was my first favorite book from last year, and while this one didn’t have the good timing to gain that title for itself, it’s certainly one of my favorites.

This book is a lot of things. Freaking terrifying is among them. Both Suffering and Girl from the Well rank up with Kendare Blake’s Anna books for books-that-made-me-gasp-in-horror-the-most. Tame ghosts do not walk these woods.

Which means that the pure scare factor in this book is one of its biggest strengths. Upon reaching Japan and searching for Kagura, Tark gets…transported, to the very place that Kagura and co. were supposed to be exploring, and went missing on the road to. Now Tark is trapped there with a myriad of distasteful spirits that have a penchant for madness and just the right kind of energy to drain Okiku’s power.

I’ll be honest: this book made me scream. On one or two occasions, it startled me enough that I jumped in my seat. On one or two more, it was so creepy that I had to just stare at it for a minute and wonder how. And on a lot of others, it unsettled me. Deeply. This is a book that has the chill up the spine feeling very much under control. There isn’t ever a dull moment: everything in this book is scary.  And topping it all off is Chupeco’s beautiful writing, Tark’s voice, and the certain kind of experimental

weirdness

that

we’ve

discussed on this blog before.

The developing relationship between Tark and Okiku is one of my favorite things that this book had to offer. At school, a girl is edging closer and closer to Okiku’s host–and she’s jealous. But she also can’t stand that she’s part of the reason Tark can’t have this other girl. Put simply: Ki is a mess. I felt so bad for her throughout the whole book that sometimes all I wanted to do was rescue her, no matter how much Tark cared for her.

Which also means, the ending of this book killed me.

I won’t say anything. Because I want every single one of you to read it.

But it killed me. I’m writing this from beyond the grave. Let it be known that I died weeping bittersweet tears.

I don’t know. I love ghost stories. And this is up there with the best of ’em.

So overall:

  • Rating: 5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: If you like scary things: come. Join me in the pages of this book.
  • Lasting impression: The creeping feeling. The kind that means you know something is wrong, wrong wrong. And you just don’t know what it is.

Dani Noir

Let’s face it: Nova Ren Suma can write anything she wants. That’s really all there is to say about her; she’s a goddess. A mysterious writing being from another dimension. From ghosts to sisters to Dani–she’s a master of her craft.

All that to say: Nova Ren Suma wrote the first middle grade book I’ve enjoyed since I was actually in middle school.

indexDani Noir

  • Author: Nova Ren Suma
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Year: 2009
  • Genre vibe: Contemporary
  • At a Glance: If this were a movie, there’d be music playing in the background right now. You’d be reading this on your laptop but clearly distracted by something else. At least until you see her name: Dani Noir. Then your interests are peaked–who must she be, this girl I’ve mentioned? She must be a movie star, a rising star that will take the world by storm. In reality, she’s Dani–her parents are recently divorced, and the only thing she’s got left is the Little Art, a one-screen old theater in her one-road old town where she spends more of her summer than anyone wants to admit, except herself. Dani witnesses a strange event at her theater one day, and starts to think that maybe life isn’t so far off from the movies after all. (as you finish reading this, you’re so engrossed in this post that you can’t help but go on. The music swells and the audience hears your voice reading the rest of it. It’s somehow not boring at all.)

Where do I start with Dani? How do I start with Dani? Dani is a voice all her own. Dani is such a character. Dani is going to be beautiful when she grows up.

I’ll start like this: I don’t like middle grade.

And continue like this: I really like good stories.

Dani is a good story. Suma’s writing so competently adapts to whatever style she’s working with and somehow nothing is lost. Though I know I’m partial to the so-immersing-it-must-be-witchcraft style of The Walls Around Us, Dani’s heartfelt and often comical voice is beautiful. She very much acts like a thirteen-year-old, but she’s not a child.

I don’t know if I’m praising the book or the author here. But seriously: anything Suma touches turns to gold.

Dani’s got a great story. The movie influences–while absolutely clear and not exactly nuanced, as one would expect from mid-grade–gave everything such a clear progression that feeling lost or bored was never an issue. Events were kept up to pace, and the goal, while not always clear, was always always intriguing. Dani goes on a journey, so to speak. And it’s a fun one to get to watch.

Not all the time though. This book played with my emotions and I didn’t expect it. But let’s be real: I have a soft spot for anything that even vaguely feels like Honk if you Hate Me or includes exile of any kind, so maybe I should’ve realized. In any case, you feel for Dani. You feel so bad for Dani. Dani doesn’t deserve any of this–even though she is a little brat sometimes. She makes bad choices, sure, she’s impulsive and a little blind. But she really doesn’t deserve any of it.

The only thing that keeps this book from being a full five stars is the side characters. While interesting and not unnecessary, they weren’t…super fleshed out. I had a hard time hating Jackson because his first impression was so nice. I liked Elissa, but not much. Same for Taylor. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment very much, because Dani was the point of this book, but if they’d been just a little bit more I’d have gotten more out of it.

But this book. Seriously. It’s like two hundred and fifty pages and I read it in an afternoon and a half. It’s worth every page.

Overall:

Rating: 4/5 stars

Recommended to: Anyone who likes interesting things, a little heartache, and amazing writing.

Lasting impression: the roughness of movie theater seats; a puddle of rainwater so still you can see a reflection in it.