{Book Review} Half Bad

{Book Review} Half BadHalf Bad by Sally Green
Published by Penguin on March 4th 2014
Genres: Boys & Men, Family, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Source: Purchased
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four-stars

In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves? In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

My thoughts: If you like action, adventure, plus magic then this book is for you. In a world where witches live among fains (humans) in Modern Day England, white witches are good and black witches are bad, and Nathan is the only half white witch and half black witch. In some ways this book reminded me a little bit of Harry Potter, since Nathan is an outcast.  He is ‘different’ from everyone else, since he is half white witch and half black witch and is forever being tormented by the white witches, with whom he has grown up with. No one wants anything to do with him and the white witch council is slowly limiting his rights and freedom; no one trusts him as they don’t know whether his loyalty lies with the white or black witches. Nathan is not only trying to figure out who he is but he also needs to find his father, Marcus, the most feared black witch of all. When the council imprisons him, Nathan must figure out a way to escape and locate his father to find out why he left him and has never tried to find him. In the process he begins to define who he is and learns to place trust in others.  This books kept me on the edge of my seat and turning the pages.

four-stars

{Book Review} The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

{Book Review} The Unbecoming of Mara DyerThe Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Published by Simon and Schuster on October 23rd 2012
Genres: Dating & Sex, Family, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Paranormal, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 456
Source: Purchased
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five-stars

Mara Dyer doesn’t know if she is crazy or haunted—all she knows is that everyone around her is dying in this suspenseful and “strong, inventive tale” (Kirkus Reviews).Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.     It can.     She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.     There is.     She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.     She’s wrong.     After Mara survives the traumatizing accident at the old asylum, it makes sense that she has issues. She lost her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s sister, and as if that weren’t enough to cope with, her family moves to a new state in order to give her a fresh start. But that fresh start is quickly filled with hallucinations—or are they premonitions?—and then corpses, and the boundary between reality and nightmare is wavering. At school, there’s Noah, a devastatingly handsome charmer who seems determined to help Mara piece together what’s real, what’s imagined—and what’s very, very dangerous.     This fast-paced psychological—or is it paranormal?—thriller will leave you breathless for its sequel, The Evolution of Mara Dyer.

My thoughts: I absolutely loved Michelle Hodkins debut novel! I loved the characters, I loved the mystery and the ending left me eagerly anticipating the next book!

Mara is struggling to remember the accident that killed her best friend and boyfriend but she also wants to escape all the memories that surround her so she and her family uproot and move to Florida.  But dealing with survivors guilt is hard enough without having to deal with the ins and outs of a new new school and she’s not off to the best start by attracting the attention of the hottest guy on campus, Noah. Mara has no interest in Noah…at first.  I loved Mara’s attitude and her snarky remarks to him, but Noah doesn’t give up and slowly Mara begins to warm to his affections and see the true inner Noah.  As their relationship develops and as she slowly begins to remember the accident, Mara begins to trust him with her past and the strange things that have been happening to her and as the mystery deepens Noah has a mystery of his own. The plot is well developed, fast paced and the ending leaves the reader wanting more.

“The trees, sidewalk and the flashing lights spun around me as I felt it: the first unmistakable snarl in the delicate fabric of my sanity.” p. 81

 

five-stars

{Book Review} Willow

{Book Review} WillowWillow by Julia Hoban
Published by Dial Books on 2009
Genres: Death & Dying, Depression & Mental Illness, Family, Siblings, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 329
Source: Purchased
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four-stars

Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow?s parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when one boy ?one sensitive, soulful boy?discovers Willow?s secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the ?safe? world Willow has created for herself upside down. Told in an extraordinary fresh voice, Willow is an unforgettable novel about one girl?s struggle to cope with tragedy, and one boy?s refusal to give up on her.

My thoughts: This premise of this book is intense. I cannot even imagine the emotional turmoil Willow must have felt dealing not only the loss of both parents, but most importantly knowing that she was the cause of that loss. Instead of reaching out for help, Willow turns inward and to cutting which releases her emotional pain through physical pain.

“She looks down at her stomach, searching to find a likely place, and makes the first cut, waiting for the moment when the pain of the razor erases everything else.” p. 182

“I’ve taught myself, I’ve trained myself, not to feel anything except physical pain. I’m completely in control of that.” p.222

I never understood the concept of cutting and how someone could do that to themselves, but Hoban created a character that I sympathized with, I felt her pain and suffering and understood her need to cut.

I truly admired Guy. I think it’s extremely unusual and shows great character for a teenager to feel a responsibility towards the well being of someone they don’t know but to reach out to try to stop their destruction.

“But I can’t leave you like this! You can’t put me in this position!”

I haven’t put you in any position,” Willow says coldly. She quickens her steps. They’ve almost reached the park now.

“Yes you have,” Guy says stubbornly. “I can’t just forget about this. What if you –”

“I told you I’m not going to kill myself.”

“Is that supposed to make it all right?” p.71

Although Guy doesn’t truly understand her need to cut, his steadfast friendship becomes Willow’s savior.

As their relationship develops and Willow takes tentative steps towards friendship and trust Willow begins to heal. Communication is the key to healing and by shutting out her friends and family her self destruction was inevitable, but by learning to open up and share her feelings true healing begins.

four-stars