Sunday, 13 April 2014

Half Bad by Sally Green

Summary : 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 Rating : 3.5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so." - William Shakespeare

Set on the backdrop of alternative England, the book is Sally Green’s ingenious take on the old concept of witches and the ever going battle between good and evil. By drawing a distinction between light and dark with great √©lan, the story is replete with ingredients such as angst and romance and blood and a race against time, and the plot manages to infuse in originality. My only regret is that a book about witches didn't exhibit the flair of magic I had been highly anticipating.

“Niall catches me on the side of the head with the brick and Connor is clinging on to me.
Then I get rammed in my back, which must be with the brick again.
It reverberates down my spine and stops me dead.
I’ve been hammered into the tarmac like a nail.”

In a society of White Witches those are prone to revile Black ones, Nathan is a half-blooded witch locked in a cage, constantly being taunted, tortured and bullied. His only crime was being born to a father who is not only detested by his clan, but the entire White Witch community—an evil Black Witch named Marcus, murderer of hundred. Even Nathan’s elder sister Jessica despises him beyond any measure. Though some of his other siblings, Deborah, and Arran, and his grandmother try to protect him, they can’t really do much in that department. As his 17th birthday draws nearer Nathan must escape to receive three gifts from his father, or else he will die. And his time is running out.

As a main character Nathan is well-drawn and leaves an impact on the reader’s mind. He was successful to hold my concern and sympathy. While reading, I found myself often screaming with rage and desperation for him to stand up against the unjust he was facing.

Thankfully he has a sweet girl—a pure blooded White Witch named Annalise to offer him solace in all his peril.

“Annalise has long blonde hair that glistens like melted white chocolate over her shoulders. She has blue eyes and long pale eyelashes. She smiles a lot, revealing her straight, white teeth. Her hands are impossibly clean, her skin is the color of honey, and her fingernails gleam.”

My objection is with their romance being short. The inadequacy of emotional intimacies in the romance felt very distant to grasp, therefore unreal. I craved for more of Annalise’s involvement in Nathan’s life.However, she made very little appearance in the pages, which wasn't enough to leave an impression. I wanted her to grow as an individual character rather than the girl Nathan fancies.

In a hidden world of witches that discriminates between Black and White Witches, where violence collides with love and destinies are drawn in blood, I expected an environment strikingly extravagant, blended with fiery spells and evocative magic, and what I got was rather simplistic. The central story being largely focused on Nathan and his quest and how he is being abused (which drags halfway across the book), provides a very little background information despite the occasional stories of Witches and Hunters we stumbled upon.

Also, in my opinion, another drawback was the slow pacing. With such interesting premise the story ought to have been a gruesome, fast-moving and action-packed thriller, but I found myself yawning very often. For the first half of the story nothing happened except Nathan being tortured and making plans. And the second half also fizzles out after a good start.

However, after that ending (where a character from Nathan’s past made an unexpected reappearance) I'm really curious to find more in Half Mad.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Book Summary : Does life go on when your heart is broken?

Since her mother’s sudden death, Emma has existed in a fog of grief, unable to let go, unable to move forward--because her mother is, in a way, still there. She’s being kept alive on machines for the sake of the baby growing inside her.

Estranged from her stepfather and letting go of things that no longer seem important--grades, crushes, college plans--Emma has only her best friend to remind her to breathe. Until she meets a boy with a bad reputation who sparks something in her--Caleb Harrison, whose anger and loss might just match Emma’s own. Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death—and maybe, for love?

Heartbeat is Elizabeth Scott’s heartbreaking, heartwarming and heart-healing new novel about the ties that bind--and the ties that free.

My Rating : 3.5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : “When someone you love...when they die, you want it undone. You'd do anything to have them back, and it's easy to believe that if only this had happened or that had happened, everything would be fine. And that's what makes you angry. What makes you hate. You don't want to believe that sometimes bad things happen just because they do.”

Heartbeat was, in my opinion, one of those stories that dramatized a set of complex characters, while the execution was rather simple. The author, Elizabeth Scott, is always best known for dealing with highly sensitive issues in a respectful and deft manner. Her famous novella Living Dead Girl was an upsetting and unsettling book, with such a visceral literary fashion that had chilled me to my bones. But, unlike the author’s previous issue novels, this particular title didn't gratify me to that level. It has severely failed to snag my attention to what promised to be a compelling plot.

Emma’s mother is lying brain-dead in hospital and being kept alive by life support machines to ensure her unborn baby’s survival. A lordly decision made by Emma’s step-father Dan. But to Emma, as she watches life moves on without her mother, her forlornness grows into anger. She thinks her stepdad had betrayed her. He doesn't love her mom but the baby growing inside her.This whole ambiance, both inside and outside, is cumulatively affecting her studies. Her life was on a tough act to be followed.

Emma, for the most part, was not a good protagonist. She is hard to connect with. I truly understand that, with her pain, her frustration, her anger, Emma was supposed to be an exceptional character—a flawed one. Her story was touching, but I would've loved it even more if it were not for her coarseness that put me off. Her rough and edgy behaviors, her tendency to blame Dan even for what he wasn't responsible, often felt wrong. I wanted her to grow, to act mature, and to think past her irrationality. Pardon me if I’m being insensitive to her conditions, but her attitude was what provoked me into belittling her decisions.

However, I loved her relationship with Caleb, because even though she constantly professed that Caleb was a bad boy, that she should stay away from him; but the situations made Caleb her staunch companion throughout her grieving period, helping her to get through it, making the romance real and believable to me.

Overall, Heartbeat is a story of acceptance and shows the growth of a character through many perilous stages of life in a short period. Every pages, every line, every word is weaved with undiluted emotions. It doesn't have neat plots parameters, nor does it have the most perfect characters. And despite my commentary on Emma’s condition, I hope many readers will find the book worth reading.

View all my reviews

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Book Summary : Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : I have heard many of my friends drawing comparisons of this book to the Faefever series, but I won't go into that as I haven’t yet read the later (don’t kill me, please). My judgment is solely based on what I liked and what I didn't in The Falconer.

The author, Elizabeth May knows how to weave charming and damaged individuals, a thrilling action-packed fantasy wherein they play deadly games to peruse their quarries.

Set in alternate Edinburgh where humans and faeries coexist, the story itself was somehow intriguing. Lady Aileana Kameron, the daughter of a Scottish Marquess was destined for a good life with parties, teas and balls, until one day her mother was murdered by a faery and making Aileana a subject to many gossips rumors on her involvement in the murder.

Now fueled with rage, Aileana formed an unlikely alliance with Kiaran, a faery, motivated towards killing his own people. Armed with modified pistols and explosives, she peeled off her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting.

As a wrecked character, Aileana was portrayed quite well. Although how from being a happy and upbeat girly girl who, after witnessing her mother’s murder transmuted into a cold-hearted warrior and now was committed to a quest for vengeance was not shown. It was rather told away. Again apart from the feelings of anger, frustration, and helplessness, she seemed to lack some basic emotions such as sorrow and grief. I understand that the author intended to portray her as a strong character (And she did well), but weakness is also the unavoidable trait of human behavior. Showing vulnerability doesn't make someone whinny, rather helps in a better correlation to character. As the story unfolds, we came to know more about her legacy and lineage, that she is a decedent of a line of female warriors known as Falconers, gifted with sighting no mundane has, destined to kill the faeries.

As of Kiaran, he was what I call hawt—a faery, a deadly one at that, cold and entirely mysterious. There weren't too many details about his past, or his history with Aileana. In the beginning their relationship was strictly mentor-protegee, which all of a sudden, if I should add, changed into a much more intense one—the one we call love and thus, it felt forced.

And there enters Gavin—the third point of hinted love-triangle, brother of Aileana’s best friend. Speaking of love triangle, I don’t mind one, unless it is entirely revolved around choosing the best suitor instead of the plot. Thankfully such didn't happen in this book. *Sigh of relief.* However Gavin was born into nobility and contrary to Kiaran he was shown more gentle, the kind of a guy your mom would want you to pick.

As the book was focused mainly on action sequences, I must say they were drawn well. They were graphic and I loved them. I loved seeing Aileana kick some asses. I loved her way of using her inventions into killing faeries. The inclusions of Steampunk aspects were also quite useful.

As a whole, The Falconer was enjoying. A fast-paced light reading that will leave you gripping the edge of your seat.

View all my reviews

Monday, 24 February 2014

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Goodreads Summary : Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn't happened yet.

Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture - being kept apart, overhearing each other's anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There's no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It's from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that's about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future.

My Rating : 5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : All Our Yesterdays is one of the best science-fiction/time-travel novels I ever crossed path with, and probably the best YA thriller I have read recently. A fast-paced plot that kept me flipping through the pages as every moment I dreaded what might happen next.

All Our Yesterday had the most riveting story in which every event were tied together, with no loose ends that might raise questions, and wrapped up in a bittersweet ending that summed up the entire story. Time paradoxes were thoroughly explained, even for those with very less idea about the non-linearity of time, would be able to explain Grandfather Paradox. I must say the author did an excellent job of unraveling the knots one by one.

The actual setting was four years from now, in a world where a time travelling machine has changed our normal way of living. Em, locked in a secret military base along with her friend Finn, hatched an escape plan, and traveled back in time to finish off their third pal, James, just to stop him from making time-travel possible. We follow Em and Finn in their quest, and face with moral questions—several of them I myself find difficult to answer.

How would you kill the person you love? The innocence you know will cease, and sprang forth a man capable of evil—would you still pull the trigger, or give him a second chance of redemption?
The story itself pulled me in with throughout action (I’m talking about events after events, not unnecessary combat scenes), and intense emotion. I was caught in a web of passion and deception, a struggle between good versus evil.

Ms Terrill created some great multi-layered characters with depths quiet difficult to fathom. They seemed to leap right off the pages into life. I loved Em for what see is now—strong, practical and determined, and so did I loved Marina for what she was four years back—naive, stupid and drowned in love. I didn't blame her for being such a lovesick, for she had no idea of that future she was planning with James, would change just because of him. Plus didn't most of us made mistakes for loving a wrong guy who did nothing to deserve such devotion? Except, James was the nice boy—someone any girl would fall head over heels for.

I loved Finn—when he was the goofy guy with a crooked smile who loved to tease Marina, and when, four years later, he was the man matured and hardened beyond his age, yet still had the same goofiness in him.

I loved James, for who he was four years ago—a next door nerd, a sweet guy Marina fell in love with. I even liked the black-and-white alignments in his character (not him) for what he became later—a scientist so much obsessed with his invention, a man risen from the ashes of own innocence, and became driving force of apocalypse. I loved his moments of weakness, and moments when he didn't hesitate twice before hurting those friends who were once part of his soul. His idealism was his final word.

All Our Yesterdays was, all the way, a dazzling debut—probably the best I've read this year. I was entirely entranced by it.

View all my reviews

Friday, 7 February 2014

Cover Reveal : Rain by Christie Cote

Book Blurb : Taylor Sullivan took her life for granted until she received news that would change her life forever. In a state of denial she met Kyle, who didn’t end up being what she expected. She wasn’t able to escape her new reality, but with his friendship, just maybe she could survive it.

Add Rain on Goodreads

About Christie : Christie Cote resides in Vermont with her Husband and their dog. When she isn’t reading, writing, or dreaming up her next story, she can be found shooting targets with her bow, drawing or baking.
Rain is her first book.

Christie writes Young Adult Realistic Fiction, Fiction, and New Adult novels.

Find Christie:

| Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Review Blog |

Watch Rain Trailer