Review: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco


When the Christian monk William of Baskerville arrives at a thriving Italian abbey with his apprentice, what was supposed to be a mission from the Emperor turns into something more sinister. For William arrives just as the abbey uncovers its first of seven bizarre deaths. Following the abbot’s desperate request, William agrees to become a detective to unearth the killer in their midst. In the backdrop of fraught religious politics of 1327, William must use his full logic to collect evidence, decipher secrets and dig deeper into the labyrinth of the abbey, all the while keeping in mind his most important mission, which has the history of his brotherhood at stake.

Personal Take: This is one of those books I’ve had on my shelf for so long, and only by the recent death of its author that I was spurred to pick it up. And I wish I’d read it sooner.

The Name of the Rose was beautifully written, in the point of view of William’s young apprentice. This works well, as we’re just as innocent and clueless as he is, and we see through his eyes the treachery of the “wise” people around him. His innocence also adds a nice humor throughout the book. His role as a side-kick to William almost gave this book the feel of Sherlock Holmes in the 12th century, except William is more level-headed and grounded.

The amount of research done to bring this book to life was very evident (and no surprise, considering Umberto’s profession). The book’s events are interwoven with real historical encounters that were almost seamless (I didn’t do my own research until after I finished reading). The story is a beautiful and gripping post-modern classic, and in true fashion of all the amazing writers, Umberto leaves nothing to chance.

This book isn’t for everyone– if you’re patient enough to go through the detailed layers of a novel, then this is definitely the book for you– I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a taste of a well-crafted murder mystery that takes place in medieval times!

Audience: Older readers. There are some pretty hefty historic explanations in this book, and some sexual references (and some disturbing descriptions).



Other recommendations: Though this is the first Umberto book I’ve read, it’s by no means the last, as he’s written about really interesting topics.

Review: I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga


When the small town of Lobo’s Nod has it’s first murder in years, Jazz Dent is convinced that it was the work of a serial killer. Being the son of the most notorious serial killer, and being witness to the most horrific scenes, Jazz thinks he can help the police find the real killer. But with bodies piling up around town, Jazz and his friends are running out of time– especially when the killer seems to have a fascination with Jazz himself.

Personal Take: I’ll just go ahead and say it– this book blew my mind. The premise was really good, and reading it was just…amazing.

Jazz was a fantastic protagonist, with a very twisted childhood that left him with an interesting personality to wrestle with (though it did get tedious at times). Throughout the whole book, you can almost feel his struggle to be the person he wants to be. The other characters in the book were also amazing, very well fleshed out and so real.

The events were suspenseful, alternating between Jazz and the serial killer, which had me turning the pages non-stop. It was such an addictive read, and gave me chills and sent my heart beating at the right moments.

What I loved about I Hunt Killers is that even though it’s a YA book revolving around teens, it had them dealing with thought-provoking themes can that easily be explored in adult novels too. It’s such a breath of fresh air to have that level of writing in YA.

I’ll definitely be following the rest of the trilogy.

Audience: I won’t lie, this book showed a bit of violence, and had some gruesome scenes. I’d have it for older teens.



Other recommendations: This book is the first of the Jasper Dent trilogy (which I will be reading in it entirety). Another series that Lyga wrote is The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (which I will also be reading). Check out what else he wrote!

Review: Deadly Cool (Deadly Cool #1) by Gemma Halliday


After experiencing the humiliation of her boyfriend cheating on her with a cheerleader, Hart has another bout of unwanted experience– absolute terror when she finds the body of said cheerleader at her ex-boyfriend’s house. All fingers lead to her ex, but Hart is convinced that someone is framing him. As she gets closer to finding the culprit, signs start hinting that Hart may be the next victim.

Personal Take: It’s been SO LONG since I enjoyed a good contemporary mystery! Just from the first few pages of the book, I knew I’d love Hartley. I loved her even more with her gutsy personality and sense of humor. It reminded me so much of Veronica Mars (with less edge), which was another reason why I loved it.The events were fast paced, the mystery was REALLY good. The secondary characters were fantastic. There were elements that Halliway decided to build up as she goes through the series, which I totally appreciate. Her writing flowed wonderfully, and the characters were so well written for such a short book.

One thing that probably knocked off a pumpkin was a minor thing with Hart doing something she promised not to do, and not feeling guilty about it– character growth/development is important!

Still, I loved every bit of the story, and if it weren’t for other reading commitments, I would have jumped to the second book instantly.

Audience: This is a teen-approved book, but I would say older teens for suggestive language.



Other recommendations: After researching about Halliday, I’ve come to learn she’s the queen of contemporary chick-lit mysteries. Other than her Deadly Cool series, she also authored the Jamie Bond series, High Heels series, and Hollywood Headlines , among others.

Review: Slide (Slide #1) by Jill Hathaway


Vee Bell has narcolepsy, and she hates it. It’s not enough that she could pass out at any second without warning (even in high school), but the what no one knows is that during these episodes, Vee slips into people’s minds, and see things through their eyes. But what is already an unpleasant curse turns horrifying when she witnesses a murder– through the killer’s eyes. Suddenly, everyone’s a suspect, and Vee has to figure out who the killer is before they strike again.

Personal Take: Discovered something about myself while reading this book– that I absolutely love the thriller/mystery/suspense genre. Or at least, the way Hathaway writes it. Slide is the perfect read for Veronica Mars fans– the scandalous high school students, the secrets, the wit and intelligence of the protagonist, Vee, who’s very comfortable in her outcast status.

The book isn’t superficial, and deals with a few real issues, one of them being family. Hathaway does an amazing job building depth into Vee’s family, and depth in Vee herself.

The writing itself was AWESOME, suspenseful, faced paced, and made the book so hard to put down. I enjoyed every aspect of this book (even if it did go a little too fast towards the end), and I can’t wait to read the sequel and whatever Hathaway will write next.

Audience: This book is full of older teens being older teens, so there are swear words and adult references.



Other recommendations: The sequel to Slide is Impostor, which I can’t wait to read.