Book Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

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Young Adult > Fantasy

Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

Easy.

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I cannot stop reading Half Bad. Brutal, hateful, but (that ending was) hopeful. Really good stuff.

The POV in Part I was very interesting. Using “you” instead of “I”, it made my reading experience unpleasantly real. It’s as if I was the one losing a hand because of some nasty acid, instead of Nathan. =) I easily adopted to Sally Green‘s cruel, magical world. A little subdued on the “magic” element, but it still worked for me.

Amidst persecution from the White Witches, Nathan persevered to live day by day. With the help of his brother Arran (I want a devoted sibling like him!), his sister Deborah, and his Gran, the Council’s oppression for a wild card like him was a bit bearable. When Nathan’s birthday draws near, and he awaits the Three Gifts that his bloodline will bestow upon him, the noose held by the Council grows tighter. Should he bear the unreasonable suffering, or should he run for his life?

I love, love Half Bad. It’s so simple – you’re different, so they fear you. But they will bully you into submission to disguise their fear into strength. But we all know that even good witches need to lose some damn steam.. like Nathan. 😀 Sally Green knows how to rile me up. I hated Kieran. I loathed Nathan’s sister, Jessica. I did not think of Mercury as a threat, though. Celia was a surprise, but a good one. And high five to Rose!

The value of a family and the strength that comes from its members are encouraged in this book. Nathan never gave up hoping that his father wants him as a child, and for an orphan like him, it’s all he has. 

The ending was good enough, the meeting between two characters in the midst of the battle was so cool, and so heartwarming!

*whispers* I haven’t read an absorbing magic-themed book like Half Bad in a while. The thrill of it!

P.S. Team Gabriel, anyone? 😀

(Attention to Jessica, Kieran, Hunters, Members of the Council… here’s me making a gesture of slashing your throats.)

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HALF BAD by Sally Green

Ebook, 416 pages

Published March 4th 2014 by Viking Children’s

4/5 stars

Book Review: School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

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Young Adult > Paranormal

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy’s mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who’s always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

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School Spirits is a far cry from the funny element of Hex Hall series that made me love the latter so much. I think this book has little to offer to Sophie-Archer fans like me out there. It was boring.

The story felt juvenile for a spinoff. Izzy was hard to connect with, I dunno why. Dex… he didn’t gave off that crush-worthy material vibe that I got from Archer and Cal. He was just this (sometimes) funny guy.

I felt cheated, that’s what. I was expecting more, and all the time I was reading, I was thinking: did Rachel Hawkins really write this? Because it felt shallow, plain, and downright mediocre.

Thank goodness this was a short read, otherwise it will be a torture to finish School Spirits. I love ghost stories, but Izzy’s case was so flat, there was little suspense that I can work with.

Thank you NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for granting my galley request.

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SCHOOL SPIRITS by Rachel Hawkins

Kindle Edition, 304 pages

Published May 14th 2013

2/5 stars

Book Review: Flyte by Angie Sage

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Young Adult > Fantasy

(Septimus Heap #2)

It’s been a year since septimus heap discovered his real family and true calling to be a wizard. As Apprentice to Extra Ordinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand, he is learning the fine arts of Conjurations, Charms, and other Magyk, while Jenna is adapting to life as the Princess and enjoying the freedom of the Castle.

But there is something sinister at work. Marcia is constantly trailed by a menacing Darke Shadow, and Septimus’s brother Simon seems bent on a revenge no one understands. Why is the Darke Magyk still lingering?

Bringing fantasy to new heights, Angie Sage continues the journey of Septimus Heap with her trademark humor and all of the clever details readers have come to love.

Book 1: Magyk review

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Flyte is a fun sequel. The emphasis on the importance of family is what I liked the most in here. See, Septimus‘ oldest brother Simon is the villain. Even if Simon tried to “indirectly” kill him a few times, Septimus chose to spare his brother’s life in the end. Now, isn’t that nice?

I got a lot of laughs while listening to the audiobook. Nico‘s the most entertaining character! Besides Septimus, his rants and banters are the most enjoyable. And the spells are delightful, especially the chocolate spell! I would love to get my hands on that.

Marcia was the typical adult character who does not listen to the complaints and accusations of a child, and in this case, Septimus (who is her apprentice). Sometimes, you just want to knock these kind of adults out, yes? 😀

I found a loose end with the Dragon Boat, but overall Flyte made me want to continue reading this series. It was simply hilarious and just downright entertaining for fantasy readers like me.

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FLYTE by Angie Sage

Audiobook

Published January 1st 2006 by Recorded Books LLC

3/5 stars

Book Review: Seven Realms #2: The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

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Young Adult > Fantasy

(Seven Realms #2)

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, hunted by the powerful Bayar family, Han Alister makes a devil’s bargain with the clans. If they sponsor his schooling at Mystwerk Academy at Oden’s Ford, he will become their magical sell-sword against the power-hungry Wizard Council.

Han and his clan friend Fire Dancer undertake the dangerous journey south through war-torn Arden. Once in Oden’s Ford, it doesn’t take long for the smoldering feud between Han and Micah Bayar to kindle into flame. After several attempts on his life, Han knows he has to find a way to defend himself.

In the magical dream world of Aediion, Han meets the mysterious Crow, a wizard with a long-standing grudge against the Bayars. Crow offers to tutor Han in wizardry in exchange for his help. Han agrees, once again forced into a bargain he hopes he won’t regret.

Meanwhile, Han’s friends Fire Dancer and Cat Tyburn struggle with their own demons. Dancer is determined to become a clan flashcrafter, despite his charmcaster status. Cat carries a load of guilt, as the only survivor of the slaughter of the gangs in Ragmarket and Southbridge.

Resuming her disguise as gently-born Rebecca Morley, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna travels with her friend Amon Byrne and his triple of cadets to Wien House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. There she hopes she will find both temporary sanctuary from a forced marriage and the education she needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Much of Raisa’s education takes place outside of the classroom. As she mingles with students of all classes from throughout the Seven Realms, she forges the kind of friendships that don’t happen amid the cut-throat politics of the Gray Wolf Court. She also struggles to deal with her attraction to Amon—an attraction he seems determined to discourage.

When Han Alister asks the girl he knows as Rebecca to tutor him, she agrees. The streetlord turned wizard with the complicated past fascinates her, and he makes it clear the interest is mutual. But Han blames Queen Marianna and the Bayars for the loss of his family. As their relationship deepens, Raisa suspects that if Han knew her true identity, he wouldn’t want anything to do with her.

Literary Awards: Teen Buckeye Book Award (2011), Voya Perfect Ten (2010)

Book 1: The Demon King review

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…I liked The Demon King better, I think. But this sequels has its own merits, so.. let’s put it this way: I really liked both books but, for different reasons.

The Exiled Queen chronicles Raisa’s time in Oden’s Ford, from escaping an arranged marriage to hiding in Oden’s Ford posing as a cadet. Han was also on his way there but going to the opposite side, where he was hell-bent on becoming a competent and powerful wizard worthy of his amulet.

This book was so hard to get into, just like The Demon King because the beginning was very slow! But, it’s worthy of investment. The Exiled Queen has that tone of Harry Potter..? Citizens of the Seven Kingdoms from different walks of life are learning to hone their powers and become a wizard. I didn’t like this part. Petty quarrels, diminutive discussions were boring to me.

Things started to pick up when the moment of Raisa and Han’s inevitable meeting approaches. I was so excited and giddy anticipating their reunion (of sorts)! And wow, I didn’t expect to swooon over Han. But I did! Over-the-top swoon. *blushes* He knows what he wants, alright. Oh, Han Allister. You swept me off my feet. 🙂

I pity Amon Byrnes. What a miserable situation you are in. But I felt no sympathy for him. Nope. I believe Han can beat him in a  fight again and again. Even without magic. Ha!

Raissa‘s character was more of a seesaw. Indignant one moment, selfless the next. I cannot figure out if she did grow up, now that she was no longer pampered as a princess, or if she’s still this stubborn heir to the throne who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

The highlight for me? Han. He’s a go-getter, and smart. So smart. Hot-tempered yes, but I’m glad Dancer was there to ground him.

I think The Exiled Queen is more on character development rather than the plot. Raissa and Han dug deeper into their hearts on what’s more important: happiness to one’s self, vengeance, or the greater good of the Seven Kingdoms?

Cuffs Allister, you rock!

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THE EXILED QUEEN by Cinda Williams Chima

Ebook, 593 pages

Published September 28th 2010 by Disney Hyperion

4/5 stars

Book Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Rating: StarStarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Paranormal > Witches

“The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. ”

“If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. ”

“And there are no strangers in the town of Near.”

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.
But when an actual stranger–a boy who seems to fade like smoke–appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know–about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.
Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

*****

Yay for being eerie and creepy!

The Near Witch is perfect for a Halloween read! The story is rich in detail and Schwab is a gifted storyteller. There is something unconsciously scary about a village being plagued by a singing wind, eh? The wind that whispers through the night, inviting the children (even Lexi hears it) to come out and play at night. *goosebumps*

I love how Lexi reminisce about his father. It is apparent that it was a bond of love, and sometimes, longing. But not bitterness over his father’s death. Ain’t it refreshing to read Lexi’s normal yet heartbreaking memories of him? And she’s a tracker just like him! She knows how to hunt and track anything. =)

I was mesmerized with the legend of the Near Witch. Truly, fear can only come from the baseness of things. Apprehension, Guilt, Cruelty. The village of Near has it coming to them. Ha! But snatching of children in the dead of night with nothing but the singing wind as witness, it becomes scary.

I would have given this a 5 if not for the abrupt, “that’s it?!!” ending. Still, I really really liked this spooky read!

The Near Witch is true to its form. I believe I like those witch’s stories who got burned in the stakes better, if I want to be truly afraid of their lot.

Book Review: The Infernal Devices #2: The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Rating: StarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Paranormal

(The Infernal Devices #2)

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

Literary Awards: Teen Buckeye Book Award Nominee (2012), Children’s Choice Book Award Nominee for Teen Choice Book of the Year (2012)

Book 1: Clockwork Angel

*****

What the hell was the hype all about???

1. There was no plot.
2. It was a romance disguised in a Steampunk novel.
3. You would think that this was e-novella (like The Infernal Devices #1.5) because it did NOTHING to add and continue Clockwork Angel‘s story. This is nothing but a freakin’ filler!

I didn’t like Clockwork Angel so I didn’t expect Clockwork Prince would be better, and it’s NOT. Why am i even bothering with this series??? Cassandra Clare is stealing my money!

4. It’s BORING.
5. The drama-rama between Tess-Will-Jem is NEVER ENDING.
6. Tessa is worse than Clary.
7. One measly action scene involving ONE automaton.
8. The Magister didn’t even appear for hell’s sake!

I felt little love with the characters. Well, maybe with Will. But that even went down the drain when I realized what an idiot he was about his curse. *slaps Will at the back of his head* Are you even thinking?!? And Magnus, too. He’s the only reason I finished reading this.

500 pages long and Clockwork Prince is nothing but a bore and a sore.

I said it before and I will say it again: Cassandra Clare, you should’ve stopped the series at City of Glass. Really.

So Clockwork Princess to be released on 2014? So fine with me. Tessa doesn’t deserve either Will or Jem. I’m hoping Tessa Gray will end up dead in the end, but i’m hoping too much. It will be a kindness to kill her, so i hope she suffers. *crossing fingers*

Book Review: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Rating: StarStarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Paranormal

Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else. 

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?

Literary Awards: William C. Morris YA Debut Award Nominee (2011), YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2011)

*****

The only book i read that dealt mainly with necromancers is The Reckoning. It was new to my paranormal taste and yet i like its theme.

Morbidly funny – that’s what comes to mind when I remembered reading Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Two-thirds of the book was information download, so i found that part okay if not a little boring. I’m waiting for some action! But the dark humor did cover for that.

Sam is somewhat a loser. So to think that he has these “necromancy” powers is laughable. How he dealt with this bizarre news is even funnier. =) And it seems that everyone wants him dead, but Douglas got the dibs on him. How can he defeat the most powerful necromancer in town when he is just a college dropout turned diner cook?

I love his friends! Frank, Brooke, and that Latino guy (man, i can’t remember his best friend’s name!). Brid and her family is way cool. There are also witches and werewolves here; just little touches, but enough to create the paranormal setting in Seattle believable.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is an enjoyable read. Rarely does a paranormal book possesses both humorous and dark content. Wish this was a series, but I think this is a good enough to be a standalone.

Book Review: Caster Chronicles #3: Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

RATING: StarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Urban Fantasy | Paranormal > Witches

(Caster Chronicles #3)

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena’s Claiming. Even Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals is affected – and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What – or who – will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He’s being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn’t by Lena – and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself – forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn’t know why, and most days he’s too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn’t just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there’s no going back. And this time there won’t be a happy ending.Literary Awards: Costa Book Award for Children’s Book (2009), Booklist Top Ten Science Fiction/Fantasy Novels for Youth (2010)

Book 1: Beautiful Creatures review          Book 2: Beautiful Darkness review

*****

 

 

Book Review: Gods & Monsters #2: A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton

Rating: StarStarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Mythology

(Gods and Monsters #2)

Myth and mayhem inhabit a richly reimagined New Orleans in this sequel to Darkness Becomes Her.After the epic graveyard battle at the end of Darkness Becomes Her, Ari and her friends know what they’re up against: Ari is facing the Medusa curse and is haunted by the image of what she will become. To make matters worse, the heinous goddess Athena has kidnapped young Violet and is threatening to destroy Ari.

 
Ari, along with the superhot Sebastian, is doing everything she can to learn more about Athena and to get Violet back. But the battle of good and evil is bigger than she realizes, and she’s about to be pulled into a world more horrific than she could ever imagine….

*****

Darkness Becomes Her is better than A Beautiful Evil but this second book has its own merits. Athena is menacing as ever, and for that, this book is quite the bomb.

Ari is still bad-*ss but there’s this instance that i found her incredulous. idiotic, even. Sigh. i would like my heroine to be confident and skilled in battle, but i do not want her going into one without proper arsenal. Ari, you’re fighting a goddess (Athena, no less!), for goodness sake. The least you can do is make the capturing a little difficult. i find it rather insulting to have Athena slaughter you at her silver plate because of your stupidity

Sebastian is almost a god in this sequel. I am so envious of his powers! Man, now you look positively hot. *Ahem* 

The unusual portrayal of Pandora’s box is alluring. The agenda behind Athena’s relentless pursuit of Ari’s power is shockingly… human. I loved that. 

If you dig the first book, you will dig A Beautiful Evil even more. Powerful Athena versus an equally powerful god-killer. =) Hoho! Cat fight has never been this delicious to read.

Book Review: Goddess Test #2: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Rating: StarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Mythology

(Goddess Test #2)

Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.Henry’s first wife, Persephone.

Book 1: The Goddess Test review

*****

I guess I’ll start by saying… I liked Goddess Interrupted in spite of its many flaws. It does not bore like so many middle books, but i’ll admit that the characters are annoying enough to classify it as such. i love Kate, but gosh, she really is a whiner sometimes. And Henry is so infuriating! I have never met (or read, for that matter) a god with so many emotional baggage like he has.

After living above for six months, Kate cannot wait to go in Eden Manor and be with Henry. To her dismay, Henry was not happy to see her. Why is that? Henry is one emo boy, that’s why. Ugh. I thought Henry’s character would’ve have develop into a confident, less-than-sallow male lead by now. Sadly, he is still this indifferent, insecure god who cannot believe that someone such as Kate can love him. What. A. Loser. All throughout the book, I saw Kate reassuring Henry of her love, Kate doubting Henry’s affection for her, and Kate doing little to prove she is worthy to be a goddess.

Like I said, I still liked the book. Perhaps my connection with Kate is too real, too emotional to ignore. You see, i hate rejection. And Kate’s constant mulling over Henry’s rejection of her is something I felt so strongly about. Also, Calliope is one scheming, manipulative goddess that I can’t help but cheer on.

Persephone is intolerable. Ava‘s character is disappointing. You’d think that as Aphrodite, she’d be as vain, scheming and manipulative like Calliope. But Ava is nothing but a pretty decor beside Kate.

If you liked The Goddess Test, there’s a likely possibility that Goddess Interrupted will appeal to you, too.

Publisher: Harlequin

Imprint: HarlequinTEEN

Pub Date: 03/27/2012

Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin for granting my galley request.