4/29/15

Half Wild

Author: Sally Green 
Pages: 400 
Publisher: Viking Juvenile 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, seventeen-year-old Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most powerful and violent witch. Nathan is hunted from all sides: nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted. Now, Nathan has come into his own unique magical Gift, and he's on the run--but the Hunters are close behind, and they will stop at nothing until they have captured Nathan and destroyed his father.








My Summary: Nathan is on the run. 

Again.

And it's not like he doesn't know why: his father is being hunted, he's being hunted, and there's a pack of Hunters led by his hateful half-sister bent on ensuring his destruction. Not to mention that he's being blackmailed by his great-aunt - a powerful Black witch - and if he doesn't kill his father for her, she'll let the girl he loves die. 

Nathan needs help, and he needs it bad. Struggling with his new Gift, he can't seem to figure out what is real and what isn't. And on a cheerier note: his best friend may be dead because of him and the love of his life is on the brink of death. 

Nathan's running out of time, and the only person who can give him any answers is his father.

Too bad he wants him dead.

My Thoughts: This book is dark, and I don't mean "oh there's a touch of violence", I mean it's seriously dark. Half Wild picks up right where the first installment left off, with Nathan alone and afraid and in a ton of trouble. He's waiting for Gabriel at their agreed meeting spot, but it's been weeks and there's been no sign of him. Gabriel was my favourite character from Half Bad, so this was a tad bit upsetting. I mean come on, why are my faves always dying?

Sally Green's writing continued to enthrall me throughout this installment, although it did feel a little different for the first few chapters. Once I was a few chapters in the feeling was gone, so rest assured this novel does not drop the ball. 

And if you thought Half Bad was gritty and violent, then Half Wild is gonna offend your sensibilities. 

I loved getting to see Nathan's Gift (finally!) and the way he shifted into the altered point of view when he was using it. I also really liked that we get to see a bit of interaction between Nathan and Marcus, as well as some old faces from book one. And did I mention the badass fight scenes? I should've probably mentioned the badass fight scenes. This book is jam-packed with action and surprises and wow you really should check out this series because I really don't know what else to say to convince you.

Final Thoughts: Do yourself a favour and buy both installments of the series in one fell swoop - you'll save yourself a lot of time and a trip to the bookstore, as well as a few hours of book-hangover where you wished you had the next installment. Seriously, check it out!

Half Bad

Author: Sally Green 
Pages: 394 
Publisher: Viking Books 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan's only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it's too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?






My Summary: Nathan is not a bad person, but everyone seems to think he belongs in a cage.

Not figuratively - literally. At the age of fifteen, Nathan was taken from his home by a government agent and locked in a cage in the middle of nowhere. He spends his days reliving the memories he has of his childhood, trying not to go insane as he waits for the day his captor finally decides to kill him. All this is because of something Nathan can't control: the fact that he is half White witch and half Black witch. 

His mother was a powerful White witch, and his father is the most dangerous Black witch ever to walk the Earth. But Nathan doesn't think he could be that bad of a guy, really. 

Everybody has those days, right?

Nathan believes his only hope is to be rescued by his father, but Marcus doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry to save his only son. And on the day Nathan finally breaks free from his cage, he discovers there is no one left in the world he can trust. 

My Thoughts: Oh man, my heart ached for Nathan. The poor kid went through so much, all because people were afraid of him and what he might become. They never allowed him any chance to prove them wrong, and I think that was probably what drove a lot of his behaviour. He had nothing left to lose, and it showed. 

This novel was really original. It took me a few pages to really get into it, but once I did I was hooked. The premise had peaked my interest almost immediately - who doesn't love a good paranormal YA book about witches? - and the addictive writing style had me unable to put it down. 

This book was a lot darker than I expected, but it was a fun detour from the more upbeat paranormal novels I tend to go for. I blew through this novel in just a few hours and immediately picked up the sequel, so you know this is a series you'll fall in love with immediately.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to fans of fantasy and urban fantasy novels, as well as those who enjoy paranormal YA. 

The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins 
Pages: 336 
Publisher: Riverhead Books 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. 

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?



My Summary: Rachel's life is a bit of a mess.

She has no job, her cheating husband left her, and she may have a drinking problem. All that Rachel has left is the 8:04 train ride into town, where she wanders aimlessly until taking the train home again later that night. The train rides are all she has to look forward to every day, and she spends her time watching the houses outside the window, making up stories in her head.

One couple in particular catches her attention - a man and woman she names "Jason and Jess". Their life seems perfect - an example of everything she's lost. But when she notices something completely out of the ordinary outside of Jason and Jess' house one day, Rachel can no longer remain a casual observer - especially when she discovers that Jess is missing, and Rachel is the last person to see her alive. 

My Thoughts: I have seen this book everywhere. Like, literally everywhere. My professor was reading it as I wrote her exam, the pharmacist was reading it when I went to pick up my prescription, and the amount of raving reviews I've seen is ridiculous. Unfortunately, I had to wait until exams were over to read it. 

Fortunately, it was well worth the wait. It's been a while since I read a novel with such unreliable narrators, but Rachel makes your heart ache for her, and Megan and Anna get under your skin as well. Rachel's been through a lot, and she's not dealing with it very well.

The story pulls you in right away. Rachel's narrative is clear and engaging, despite her constant inebriated state. The narration flows smoothly, and the way Hawkins describes Rachel's world adds that extra spooky element to Jess' (Megan's) disappearance. I really liked the shifting point of views and the contrast we got to see between Rachel's storybook version of Jess and Jason's life and the real thing. 

I also really liked the flashback element - it really added that extra level of uncertainty to the narration. The twists and turns caught me completely off-guard - I found myself trying to formulate new theories after every chapter, and every chapter they'd be disproved. 

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to fans of Gillian Flynn, as well as psychological thrillers in general. Trust me guys, there's a reason you've been seeing this book everywhere. Don't wait to find out why. 

4/7/15

Ugly Love

Author: Colleen Hoover
Pages: 322
Publisher: Atria Books 
Format: Paperback 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she doesn't think it's love at first sight. They wouldn't even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn't want love, she doesn't have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don't expect a future.


They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can't handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated. 
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered. 
Love gets ugly.



My Summary: Tate didn't know what to except when she decided to move in with her brother after a bad break-up. She figured she'd stay for a few months, get back on her feet while she finished up her master's in nursing, and find her own place when she was ready. 

She wasn't expecting to fall in love.

She definitely wasn't expecting to meet someone like Miles.

Their attraction is powerful and immediate, but both know it's a bad idea to get involved. They make a compromise: they use each other for sex. Nothing more. 

Until things start to spiral out of control, and neither Tate or Miles can pretend that all they want from one another is sex. But what's holding Miles back? And can Tate break it off before she ends up with a heart broken beyond repair? 

My Thoughts: Colleen Hoover, why do you enjoy doing these things to me?

This is such a hard book to review because it is so packed with emotion. My heart was in a vice-grip from start to finish, and I kept hoping that everything could just work out all right in the end. I loved the complexity of Miles' back-story, and the way that everything about him was revealed bit by bit.

And what I really loved was the way Hoover shows us - in vivid detail - the gritty, ugly, painful side of love. This was not an easy read in any way, and not the type of romance that makes you go "awww!". This is a book about love and when it's okay to walk away.

A usual, Hoover's characters were extremely realistic and complex. Although I sometimes found myself cringing at their decisions, they were things that made sense in the context of the relationship. And although neither main character was perfect, they made a good fit for one another.  

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to fans of Colleen Hoover and anyone looking for a new adult romance with a bit of emotional depth. 

4/6/15

I'll Meet You There

Author: Heather Demetrios 
Pages: 400 
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line. 


Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.



My Summary: Skylar and Josh are two very different people who came from the same place: Creek View, a tiny town in California where dreams go to die. Skylar is a straight-A student, doing everything she can to get herself as far away from Creek View as possible. And it seems like she's succeeded: she has a full-ride scholarship to the school of her dreams, and a one-way bus ticket booked for the end of August. 

Josh thought he'd left Creek View for good when he joined the Marines. But after his leg is blown off by an IED, he finds himself right back where he started. Josh and Skylar never had much in common except their job at a decrepit hotel off the highway, but it is there that they find each other and find out that there may be something in Creek View worth staying for after all.

My Thoughts: I had no idea what to expect when I picked up I'll Meet You There, but oh my goodness I am SO glad I did. This was one of those books that came out of nowhere and punched me right in the emotions. Think I'm exaggerating? I started this book around 11pm ("I'll just a read a few chapters before bed") and ended up being wide awake at 7am, blinking away tears as I stared at the ceiling over my bed. I could NOT put it down, and trust me I tried (I had to wake up at 8:30 for class). 

Josh and Skylar were such relatable characters. My heart went out to both of them as they struggled to figure out what they wanted for themselves and where they wanted to be. I really loved their relationship dynamic and the way they acted together. And even though Josh was a bit of an idiot at times, I was still rooting for the two of them. 

Demetrios' writing was engaging and flowed beautifully. The imagery was so powerful that I felt like I was there alongside Skylar and Josh, sweating in the California sun. Josh's streams of consciousness at the beginning of his chapters were incredibly powerful and had me tearing up more than once. The emotional depth of this novel caught me off guard but I am so glad that I read it when I did.    

Final Thoughts: This has definitely been one of my favourite books of the year so far. I recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary lit, YA and new adult romance, and crying ugly tears in the middle of the night. Check it out!

4/5/15

Vanishing Girls

Author: Lauren Oliver 
Pages: 357 
Publisher: HarperCollins 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.









My Summary: Nick and Dara are the closest sisters you'll ever meet. They share everything: secrets, clothes, friends... and much to Nick's horror, John Parker. But that's okay, because Nick loves Dara and wants her to be happy - even if that means her sister and her best friend become an item. She'll deal, because when you love your sister as much as Nick does, that's just what you do.

After the accident, Nick and Dara barely speak. Dara avoids Nick like the plague, keeping to her room and the bad side of town. With the two sisters living under one roof and doing everything possible not to speak, it's hard not to wonder what exactly happened the night of the accident.

If only Nick could remember. 

She knows that the only way to repair their relationship is to figure out what happened that night. But as pieces of that night start to come back to her, Nick starts losing pieces of herself. What is it that caused the change in Dara? And why does it feel like Nick will have to risk everything to bring back what matters most: her sister?

My Thoughts: This book was a wild ride. 

Things started off slowly but progressed so quickly that I found myself unable to put it down for more than a few moments at a time. Oliver's writing had me hooked from the very first page, sucked into Nick and Dara's world like I'd been there all along. The pacing was perfect, and the atmosphere was so rich and dark that I found myself creeped out before anything had even begun to happen. Oliver is a master world-builder, bringing together so many little things so that Nick and Dara seemed so incredibly real. I had to blink a few times every time I looked up from the book just to remind myself that I wasn't living in Nick and Dara's world.

Anyone who has a really strong bond with a sibling will recognize Nick and Dara's love for one another. It was imperfect and not always healthy, but it was unconditional and strong. There is some romance in the novel, but I think that at its core, this is a story about the intensity of the love between two sisters and what love like that can drive us to do.

The mystery aspect was very well done, and I was on the edge of my seat until the very end. Do yourself a favour and DO NOT START READING THIS BEFORE BED. If you don't heed my warning, you will not be sleeping. Trust me on this. 

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to fans of mystery and suspense novels, as well as those who enjoyed We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.