{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 Truth About Forever

{Book Review} The Truth About ForeverThe Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen
Published by Penguin on 2006
Genres: Adolescence, Death & Dying, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 374
Source: Purchased
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five-stars

Macy's summer stretches before her, carefully planned and outlined. She will spend her days sitting at the library information desk. She will spend her evenings studying for the SATs. Spare time will be used to help her obsessive mother prepare for the big opening of the townhouse section of her luxury development. But Macy's plans don't anticipate a surprising and chaotic job with Wish Catering, a motley crew of new friends, or ... Wes. Tattooed, artistic, anything-but-expected Wes. He doesn't fit Macy's life at all--so why does she feel so comfortable with him? So ... happy? What is it about him that makes her let down her guard and finally talk about how much she misses her father, who died before he eyes the year before? Sarah Dessen delivers a page-turning novel that carries readers on a roller coaster of denial, grief, comfort, and love as we watch a broken but resilient girl pick up the pieces of her life and fit them back together.

My thoughts: Sarah Dessen knows how to reel you in emotionally and connect you with each of her characters. She has one of the most lyrical and poetic writing that I have read and continue to be astounded and wrapped up in her writing. She knows how to keep the reader turning the pages and I cannot read a Sarah Dessen book without a fresh pack of sticky notes on hand.

Macy, her sister and mom are still dealing with the sudden death of her dad; her mom buries her grief deep inside by working 24/7 and getting rid of everything connected with her dad, her sister has a quick romance and is suddenly married, while Macy hides from her grief behind a safe, unemotional boyfriend. The one thing that Macy hangs onto are the quirky purchases her father made from infomercials and which continue to arrive even after his death and what is this mysterious gift her father said he had for her at Christmas?

“Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. You get used to the weight, to how it holds you to a place.” p. 180

When Macy’s boyfriend goes away to spend the summer at brain camp, leaving her the responsibility of his job at the library which she hates, fate intervenes and she begins to work for the completely disorganized and absolutely fun and spontaneous Wish Catering company. Delia is the ever disorganized but “everything works out” owner, Kristy is fun loving and says what she feels, while her sister Monica barely says a word, and then there is Wes.  Ahhh Wes, the gorgeous, quiet, artistic and mysterious Wes who manages to help Macy discover who she really is and that she doesn’t need to be safe and that she can live again. As Macy and Wes learn about each other through their game of Truth, Macy must decide between her safe boyfriend or take a chance on Wes.

“There is never,” Kristy said adamantly, “a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.” p. 356

The story ends in a culmination of chaotic events that forces everyone in Macy’s family to confront their grief and finally come together.

“You think you’re so strong because you never talk about Dad. Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that’s what makes you strong.” p. 327

I won’t spoil what the mysterious gift was and while I was reading I was hoping and praying that Sarah Dessen’s plan was what I was thinking and she did not let me down; she magically brought fate and destiny together.

“That was the thing. You just never knew. Forever was so many different things. It was always changing, it was what everything was really all about.” p. 374

five-stars

{Book Review} Matched

{Book Review} MatchedMatched by Ally Condie
Published by Penguin on September 20th 2011
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Source: Purchased
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five-stars

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.Look for the sequel, CROSSED, and the epic series finale, REACHED!

My thoughts: Wow! This is my first dystopian novel and I am totally hooked. Condie’s writing is absolutely incredible and her imagery helps the reader see and feel the society she has created. Imagining a life in a society where everything is decided for you guiding you to feel the oppressive rules of the society. She also did a great job of creating suspense and mystery as she leaves hints about the society which made me want to keep turning the pages. What are the pills that everyone carries around? Why are people matched? Imagine a society where everything is decided for you, who you will marry, what your job will be, what you eat, what you learn, where you are always watched, this is the society that Cassia has grown up in.

“I’ll stand next to that dry fountain and wait until the Official finds me. And when she does and asks me what I’m doing, I’ll tell her and everyone else that I know: they are giving us pieces of a real life instead of the whole thing. And I’ll tell her that I don’t want my life to be samples and scraps. A taste of everything but a meal of nothing.

They have perfected the art of giving us just enough freedom; just enough that when we are ready to snap, a little bone is offered and we roll over, belly up, comfortable and placated like a dog I saw once when we visited my grandparents at the Farmlands.” p. 249

When Cassia is matched with Xander, her lifelong friend, she feels happiness and content until, another boy appears on the screen, another boy she already knows, Ky. She feels confusion and anxiousness, the society doesn’t make mistakes. Despite reassurances from an Official that it was just a mistake, Cassia begins to wonder about Ky and yearns to get to know him. Don’t we always want what we can’t have? They begin to secretly fall in love, share their secrets and begin to trust one another, something not easily done in such an oppressive society. One of the biggest secrets they share is that Ky knows how to write, something forbidden in the society, and Ky begins to teach Cassia.

“When I open it up there are words inside. Gorgeous words. Cursive words. The were beautiful up on the green hill with the sound of the wind in trees and they are beautiful here in my gray-and-blue kitchen with the grumbling of the incinerator in the background. Dark, curling, swirling words curve across the brown paper.” p. 176

While Cassia and Xander have a bond of lifelong friendship, she and Ky share an incredible and enduring connection. Will Cassia decide on the safe and pre-determined path of the Society, or will she make her own path with Ky?

“I let myself imagine futures that can never be, the two of us together.” p. 259

five-stars