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all hearthfires & holocausts

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R.J. Palacio
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Red Glove - Holly Black As usual, I was late to the Holly Black bandwagon. I read White Cat Monday night and (my fingers) practically sprinted to the (kindle) bookstore (on Amazon) to pick up Red Glove. I'm officially hooked.I'm in awe of Black's world building. It was so seamless; there were no clunky info dumps or distracting back stories. The history of the curse workers was incorporated into the context of the story in such a way that I felt as though I knew it rather than learned it. (If that makes any sense at all.) Subtle and disarming.The story itself is complex without seeming overdone. I loved the 'noir' feeling to it, the old time crime families and the community aspect of the curse workers. The political overtones did not distract or detract from the overall plot, but added an extra layer of drama and intrigue without feeling like the never ending string of contrived conflict that seems to plague many YA novels lately.Most of all, it kept me guessing--something that is pretty rare. I find most crime dramas to be rather predictable, and can usually tell you who the killer is as soon as they are introduced. Not so here. I was wondering until the very end. No unrealistic twists or turns, just a very well written mystery.Cassel is wonderfully flawed and so easy to become attached to. I fell for his recklessness and vulnerability as much as I did his bravery and smart mouth. And even with all his genius masterminding, he still manages to feel like an authentically clueless seventeen year old boy. I love the relationship he has with Lila--the push and pull and insecurities that everyone has at that age, which felt no less realistic for their magical amplification. She's hard to like, so brittle and harsh at times, but there is always a vulnerability that peeks through to humanize her. Though we see everything through Cassel's perspective, Black has given Lila such a strong and consistent characterization that you know why she does things, even if Cassel doesn't. This is one of the most unique and well written YAs I've ever read. I look forward to the third book and can't wait to check out more from Holly Black!