Book Reviews: The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas and Twinepathy by C.B. Cook @sherrythomas @BerkleyMystery

The Art of Theft
The Lady Sherlock Series #4
Sherry Thomas
Berkley, October 2019
ISBN 978-0-451-49247-0
Trade Paperback

Once upon a time, Sherry Thomas created the first of a retelling of the Sherlock Holmes adventures and, my word, what a charming series this is so far. Charlotte Holmes and Mrs. Watson are a delightful pair and they channel the original Holmes and Watson with a feminine aplomb that makes Sherlock himself much more accessible.

Charlotte is a successful detective, having solved numerous cases, but she’s going to have to become something of an art thief this time. The target is a particular very valuable painting but it’s the documents secreted on the back of the painting that she needs to obtain; if she can’t do so, her client will be ruined. Charlotte recruits her usual partners in crime, so to speak, and the merry band sets off to attend a masked ball and art sale at a certain chateau in France. Charlotte is the true brains of the group but she couldn’t pull this off without the able assistance of Stephen Marbleton and Lord Ingram, not to mention her sister, Livia, and the pragmatic Mrs. Watson.

There’s a great deal of fun to be had in this latest tale but the reader who’s new to the series should probably start with the first book, A Study in Scarlet Women, to enjoy the books to the fullest. If you’re like me, you’ll fall head over heels for Charlotte and company.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2020.

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Twinepathy
IDIA #1
C.B. Cook
CreateSpace, July 2016
ISBN 978-1535201551
Trade Paperback

Twin sisters Brooklyn and Albany have always hidden their telepathic abilities, believing they’re alone in the world in that sense, until a small child shows up on the doorstep, a child who seems to be suffering from total amnesia. Before they can even begin to come up with a plan—although they instinctively know they need to hide the child from their older brother and parents for the moment—two strangers appear literally out of thin air and the world as they know it changes in an instant.

It turns out that superheroes do really exist, with various powers as Data and Blaze explain; Data is a glorified mind reader and is the head of a secret agency of superheroes, the International Defense and Intelligence Agency, while Blaze specializes in teleportation and illusion. Before this first meeting is over, the sisters have code names, and they’ve learned that the little girl, dubbed Maddie, is not the first victim of memory loss. Now, Albany and Brooklyn set out to solve the first mystery—who is Maddie and what is her story?

Twinepathy is a fun tale for anyone who enjoys superheroes and adventure mixed in with a puzzle and I recommend it for a few hours of entertaining distraction from our all too real world.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2020.

Book Review: The Chronicle of Secret Riven by Ronlyn Domingue

The Chronicle of Secret RivenThe Chronicle of Secret Riven
Keeper of Tales Trilogy Book 2
Ronlyn Domingue
Atria Books, May 2014
ISBN 978-1-4516-8891-7
Hardcover

This story, which is Book 2, introduces Eve (Secret) Riven, as a small quiet child. So quiet, she never speaks. When she is only four years old Secret discovers she can talk mind-to-mind to plants, insects, and animals—and they can speak back to her.

Secret’s mother has the uncanny ability to speak and translate arcane languages and spends her time working for a single patron whose translation needs take up all her time, leaving little for Secret. And although Secret’s father dotes upon her, he is often away from home on business. The child is very lonely.

The story follows Secret through her school years, where she graduates with honors, until she takes a job with Fewmany, an enormously wealthy inventor and entrepreneur. His background is obscure and mysterious.

During this time, Secret makes a few friends. Nicholas, who will become king of the nation, for one. Another is Old Woman, who lives in the forest reached only through a mysterious tunnel, and gives the child the love for which she yearns. And there is Cyril the squirrel, who first led the child through the mysterious hollow tree that takes her into a peaceful land where time stands still.

The world-building in the story is breathtaking. The characterization is beautifully developed. The writing is lovely. The plot? Well, it moves very slowly, allowing time for all the above mentioned features to progress. Although Secret’s story is a fine one, in the end, the book left me a bit unsatisfied. I wanted to see some resolution, but instead am left hanging, presumably to await the third book of the trilogy.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, May 2014.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.

Book Review: Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

Don't Even Think About ItDon’t Even Think About It
Sarah Mlynowski
Delacorte Press, March 2014
ISBN 978-0-385-73738-8
Hardcover

From the publisher—

We weren’t always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn’t expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we’ve kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what’s coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same. So stop obsessing about your ex. We’re always listening.

Suppose you could hear what people were thinking? Now, take it a step further and suppose a bunch of your friends and acquaintances also had this “ability”. Is this the greatest thing since sliced bread or a dreadful fate…or, perhaps, something in-between?

Get ready for a roller coaster ride of ups and downs and swerves galore when the flu shot that “they” are always saying you should get every year causes a very unexpected side effect and nearly everybody in Homeroom 10B suddenly has ESP. What fun! Or maybe not so much. Sure, it’s great to hear that that boy over there thinks you’re pretty but do you really want to know what your parents are doing in the so-called privacy of their bedroom? How would you feel if kids were crowding around you during a test so they could cheat off your thoughts? Then again, how sweet is it to know who’s REALLY your friend?

Don’t Even Think About It is chock-full of laughs as Mackenzie and Olivia and the rest of the gang test their new powers and then they begin to realize the advantages:

 “It’s not just about school. Think of the edge you’ll have in everything. In relationships. You’ll always have the upper hand. You’ll always know if someone is about to break up with you. You’ll always know what your parents are really planning. What they’re thinking.”

On the other hand, there just might be some downsides to this.

This book is a quick read and I thoroughly enjoyed it, careening from laughter to tears to sympathy to anger and back again. Sarah Mlynowski is a new author to me and I loved her style and the way she turned a simple, seemingly lighthearted story on its end and made me and a crowd of teens take a second look at a most unusual problem.  I loved the POV, unusual as it is. Oh, and by the way, I really liked that conspiracy theories and government manipulation and those sorts of things…but, WAIT!  You’ll just have to find out on your own 😉

 I’m surprised more people haven’t been suspicious.
What are they going to suspect?
That we’re up to something.
We are up to something.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2014.