8/25/14

Beauty of the Broken

Author: Tawni Waters 
Pages: 368 
Publisher: Simon Pulse 
Format: Paperback (ARC) 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads):Growing up in conservative small-town New Mexico, fifteen-year-old Mara was never given the choice to be different. Her parents—an abusive, close-minded father and a detached alcoholic mother—raised Mara to be like all the other girls in Barnaby: God-fearing, churchgoing, and straight. Mara wants nothing to do with any of it. She feels most at home with her best friend and older brother, Iggy, but Iggy hasn’t been the same since their father beat him and put him in the hospital with a concussion. 


As Mara’s mother feeds her denial with bourbon and Iggy struggles with his own demons, Mara finds an escape with her classmate Xylia. A San Francisco transplant, Xylia is everything Mara dreams of being: free-spirited, open, wild. The closer Mara and Xylia become, the more Mara feels for her—even though their growing relationship is very much forbidden in Barnaby. Just as Mara begins to live a life she’s only imagined, the girls’ secret is threatened with exposure and Mara’s world is thrown into chaos.

Mara knows she can't live without Xylia, but can she live with an entire town who believes she is an abomination worse than the gravest sin?



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Thoughts: This book was one of those rare stories that holds your heart in a death-grip and doesn't let go. I picked it up late one night when I couldn't sleep - thinking I'd read a few chapters - and found myself unable to put it down for even a second, reading well into the morning. I finished in one sitting and tried to write a review, but couldn't find the words to describe just how much the book had affected me. 

Mara and Xylia's story was a heartbreaking one, and I felt for them during every minute of their struggle to be together and their struggle to survive in their backwoods town. This was far from a 'fun' read, but it was a book that demanded to be read. I had a major book hangover after finishing, and it took weeks before I could collect my thoughts enough to write a review. To say that this book messes with your emotions is an understatement - it devastates you. But no matter how bad things get, there is always the hope that things will get better for Mara, Iggy, and Xylia.     

The characters were extremely well-written and realistic despite their numerous flaws, but that made it all the more real. The image Tawni Waters was able to paint in my head of Mara's town was incredibly detailed, and the atmosphere of the novel matched the subject matter perfectly. I cannot think of one thing I didn't like -  this is one book hangover that I won't be recovering from for quite a while.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to fans of edgier contemporary YA and fans of romance with a darker atmosphere.  

8/21/14

Follow Friday!

Happy Friday! It's not so happy for me unfortunately, as I'm heading off to an exam, but I hope everyone else is having a great day.

This week's question: What book series do you think would make a better TV show than movie?

Personally, I think the Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies would fit the bill (I know I talk about this series a lot, but I recently just re-read it and was just thinking that it would make a great TV show). And no matter how badly they screwed it up, I'd still watch every minute (and buy the seasons on Blu-ray). 

What about you guys? Let me know! 

8/10/14

Fire

Author: Elfgren & Strandberg 
Pages: 634 
Publisher: Hammer 
Format: Paperback 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): The Chosen Ones are about to start their second year in senior high school. All summer they have been waiting for the demon's next move. But the threat comes from another direction, somewhere they could never have foreseen. 

It becomes more and more obvious that something is very wrong in Engelsfors. The past is woven together with the present. The living meet the dead. The Chosen Ones are tied even closer together and are once again reminded that magic cannot make you happy or mend broken hearts...



My Summary: With their numbers greatly reduced, the Chosen Ones have nothing left to do but close ranks. They pull closer together, trying to figure out what they could possibly do to protect themselves.

But threats are coming from every direction - from both the world of the witches and the ordinary citizens of their small town. A trial is called to punish Anna-Karin, and the Chosen Ones have no choice but to tell the truth about what happened despite wanting to protect their friend. And as a mysterious new organization begins to take over the town, the girls have no idea who they have left to turn to... except each other.

My Thoughts: Even though it was a little slow to start, I enjoyed this novel immensely. The mysterious edge added to an already suspenseful and tense atmosphere that wouldn't let you put the book down. I really enjoyed watching the growth of the characters throughout this installment of the trilogy - especially that of Ida and Minoo. I really enjoyed watching the girls' powers grow and their friendships with each other strengthen and solidify. 

The pacing of the novel was well done, and the plot flowed smoothly. I really liked that although there were a lot of paranormal elements, the more serious "human" elements of the girls'  lives were not overlooked (problems with parents, school pressures, etc) - it really added depth to the story and helped you see the characters as real, flawed people who could not always be expected to act like heroes. I also really liked the way the authors captured the helpless feeling some of the characters experienced, showing that having magical abilities wasn't enough to fix everything in their lives. I definitely felt for LinnĂ©a - her situation felt impossible to navigate and her resilience made her one of my favourites. 

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to fans of urban fantasy and edgier paranormal YA.