Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

18079804book info finalTitle: Half Bad (Half Life Trilogy #1)

Author: Sally Green

My Rating:blog 5 leaf rating

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sumary finalHalf 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.

– Summary not mine; taken from Half Bad’s Goodreads page.

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I received Half Bad as a gift from a friend, as a very early birthday present. I was given the choice to have it early or to wait, and I chose to have it early – some time later, the book was read, but my birthday was still distant on the horizon. Needless to say, I enjoyed the book an incredible amount.

Half Bad had me gripped from the first page – the first person, present tense that is rarely used in books really surprised me, and set Half Bad apart from other books right away. I was curious to see whether the entire book was written this way, but when main character Nathan reminisces of his past life, the tense changes to fit this. This immediately caused Half Bad to strike me as a unique and very enjoyable book.
Do not be fooled by the use of the trope of white and black magic, because the world of Half Bad is still very unique. As I read on, I discovered that Half Bad was literally my perfect type of book. There was a lot of action, a fantasy world that absorbed me, and just the right amount of focus on the romance. There were also so many hints at things that made me want to read on, and the interesting characters really helped make the story come together.
I didn’t find Nathan’s father, Marcus, as menacing as he was made out to be, though. Don’t get me wrong, he was very menacing, but when he actually turns up in the book, he’s not the big raging ball of hellfire I was expecting. This may all change in the sequel though, and I may be forced to eat my own words.
One thing I really enjoyed was the family relationships in this book. Nathan is close to his grandma, but even closer to his half-brother, Arran. The bond between them is very strong and there were more than a few heart-wrenching moments between them, which only added to the pain and difficulty Nathan is forced to go through. These aren’t the only interesting characters though – Celia was also a favourite of mine, because even though she’s portrayed as a very evil, horrible person, there’s also a strange kind of bond between her and Nathan. Their relationship is incredibly complicated, but I hope something good will come of it.

When I finished this book, I just wanted to scream and through it across the room. I loved the ending, but I also really hated it because I wanted more of the story. It will be a long wait for Half Wild, though, and I might just go mad in the time it takes for a copy to reach my hands.

Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

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Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, Book #1)

Author: Patrick Ness

My Rating:blog 5 leaf rating

sumary finalPrentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

from Goodreads

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The first thing that struck me about The Knife of Never Letting go was the interesting writing style. Todd’s narration is written in the dialect used in Prentisstown, and since it is coming from his perspective and he cannot read or write, it makes sense that longer words would be spelt phonetically. This made me feel a lot closer to Todd and his story, which I really enjoyed. It also demonstrated how different his world is, and gave the narration personality. I also liked the rather artsy way that the Noise was portrayed – the text in different fonts, showing whether the thought was harsh and quick through a spidery, scrawled text, or whether it was calm and methodical in a very conservative font. It really made me understand how the noise worked, even if I did have to focus and read each thought, trying to gain some insight into who it was.

What really drew me into reading the book in the first place was its very unusual concept. Unusual is a good thing when reading, especially since a lot of books can sound the same, making them quite boring. Even so, once I thought I knew what was going to happen and had been lured into a false sense of knowing the world, a big surprise made me take a step back for a moment, and then read on vigorously for the next three hours. I’m not sure whether this is Ness’ storytelling or my complete lack of observation (it may be a bit of both), but either way I liked it a lot.

Throughout the novel there is a huge sense of foreboding, which at some points made me want to read on more, and at some points made me feel like I was going to go into cardiac arrest. I knew that bad things were going to happen, but the suspense was almost unbearable. The book is very powerful, and very violent. Not just in terms of plot, but in the way that the novel is unforgiving and completely ignorant of the reader’s feelings. In more than one instance, I felt uncomfortable reading violent scenes, but I knew this was Ness’ desired effect.

By the end of the book I was expecting a very large cliff hanger (which I got) and I’m sure this is some evil plot Patrick Ness conjured up to put his readers through the most pain. Nevertheless, I’m eager to read more and will seek out the rest of the trilogy, and the author’s other books, to devour and savour. As a footnote, however, Manchee will never be forgotten (and Ness, never forgiven).

Interview with author Connor Wolf

connor wolf

1. Hello Connor, and welcome to the books, food and other things blog! It’s lovely to
have you here. To start us off, give us a little introduction.

Hi thank you so much for having me here, I’ll answer all questions as best I can. I’m Connor and I love to write, and of course to read. I’m an avid reader and I read a variety of genres, my favourites being fantasy, action and horror! During the day, I spend time honing my skills as a painter and decorator and in my spare time and evenings I write.

2. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I haven’t always considered writing to be a possibility as a future profession nor did I much think I would enjoy it as much as I do. I think I first really thought about writing seriously at age 11. I met a well-known author and it was then I really sought to write books.

3. What are your favourite authors and how do you think they have influenced you as a writer?

My favourite author are Oliver Bowden (Assassin’s Creed series) J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series and Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games series)  it was a mix of these three very talented authors that really help me see the way a book should be written. As I read these books I found myself developing my own style of writing.

4. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

My advice for any aspiring writer out there is perseverance. With a lot of motivation and no small amount of effort, you can hold a finished book, filled to bursting point with everything that you created. It’s not so much about writing skill, or novel length. For me, it’s about imagination, the thrill of creating a whole world filled with creatures and magical things. Putting this to paper and seeing the result after you have finished is what really drives me. It can bring on tears and happiness but whatever you do, don’t give up because if you believe in yourself you can do this.

5. What else do you enjoy other than books and writing?

As stated earlier, I enjoy painting and decorating, I study it at college, but also, I enjoy the more oriental of activities. Martial Arts for me is amazing, it’s so calming and really helps you find who you really are, and what you’re capable of. I’m also a lover of swimming and cycling, I cycle a lot and I really enjoy it.

6. Recently, I reviewed your book, ‘The Bite of Vengeance: The Devil’s Gift’. Why don’t
you tell us a little bit about the book.

The Bite of Vengeance: The Devil’s Gift is the first instalment of a growing trilogy, the second I am working on now. It’s a fantasy-horror book, aimed at those who love a book that really twists and turns. It took me around a year to finish writing it but I really think it was worth it, I’m so happy with the final result.

7. What were the main inspirations behind your action-packed vampire novel?

My main inspiration came from the same place my book was first created, in a dream. I saw the figures muttering indistinctly in my dream, I couldn’t quite see their faces but I knew roughly what they were doing, how they came to be. I wanted to fill in the gaps and share that dream. I’ve always been a big lover of everything vampiric and action-packed. I wanted to write a book that showed the reader what was happening, not watching them eat a bowl of spaghetti. It was this that really inspired me to finish my dream.

8. Since your novel takes place mostly in Italy, have you ever been there?

I’ve never actually been to Italy, but I’ve seen what it looks like and it just looks beautiful, I thought this would be a wonderful setting for my book, plus the fact the Vatican is located here, the building where the Pope resides, the cardinals. It seemed important Roconn lived in Italy.

9. Can you tell us what’s next in store for Roconn?

I don’t want to spoil the next instalment The Bite of Vengeance: Fallen Angel but I can say this, many unexpected things take place, a new side of Roconn will be shown and it is also written in first-person as opposed the the third person of the first book. I found writing in first-person really helps the reader see and feel exactly what Roconn sees and feels, it helps better understand him and see what motivates him with his actions.

10. What film do you think every vampire fan should watch?

I think any vampire fan should watch Underworld. It’s such a fantastic film that really shows vampires in whole new light, for me this is one of the inspirations behind The Devil’s Gift.

11. If readers enjoyed your book, what should they read in the meantime whilst waiting for the sequel?

I think, whilst waiting for Fallen Angel, readers should immerse themselves in a book such as Assassin’s Creed Renaissance or Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and it’s location in Italy will help keep them in the same area as Roconn.

12. Well, it’s been lovely having you here, Connor! Last of all, where can we find your books?

Thanks again for having me here, it’s been great. The Bite of Vengeance: The Devil’s Gift is available via www.rowanvalebooks.com or www.amazon.co.uk as well as their international sites. eBook & Paperback copies are available for purchase on Amazon, and the eBook is priced at 99p (prices vary via different retailers)

 

 

Review: Maze Runner by James Dashner

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Title: Maze Runner (The Maze Runner, Book #1)

Author: James Dashner

My Rating: blog 5 leaf rating

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When Thomas awakes and finds himself in the Glade with no memories, he thinks that things couldn’t get any worse. But, they do.

He soon meets the Gladers with their own slang and own lost memories, and learns of the Maze that shuts the Gladers in (or out) and protects them from the dreaded Grievers. But with Thomas comes other changes to the Gladers routine of life, and they blame him for it. However, Thomas thinks that he can find his way out of the maze.

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Maze Runner is a very imaginative and unique story.

In the beginning, the reader has just as many questions as newbie Thomas, and I liked that. The reader makes discoveries along with him, which makes you want to read on and on.

There were so many interesting characters in the book, which was great. Chuck was a wonderful character, he was annoying but funny at the same time and I understand why Thomas liked him so much. I had an instant dislike for Gally, and my general feelings for the characters were strong.

Grievers were really good enemies – even though I didn’t picture them as they were described (I thought they were more like giant slugs with metal hands) I thought they were quite intimidating which added to the story. I really enjoyed the last half of the book because there were a lot of new questions and plenty of action going on.

I found that Maze Runner fits as a series. I didn’t find out very much in the first book, and that was okay, because I know there’s two other books to come that will answer my questions. This is good because it means there won’t be much pointless filler, and hopefully the next two will be just as good as the first.

My only complaint is that maybe more could have been done with Teresa. I think that she could have had more presence, and more of her own personality. She was present for at least half the book, but I knew her just as little as characters that were introduced in the last few chapters. Hopefully in the next book there will be more of her.

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

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Title: Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Author: Veronica Roth

My Rating:blog 5 leaf rating

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Beatrice belongs to the Abnegation faction – a city filled with the selfless, always willing to help others and committing to a life of self-sacrifice. But Beatrice doesn’t quite fit in. When the day comes that Beatrice must choose between staying with her family, and choosing a faction that will let her be who she truly is, she makes a choice that even shocks herself.

Becoming Tris, a member of the Dauntless faction, she is thrust into a world completely unlike Abnegation, a world of violence and bravery. Her taxing initiation provides her with new friends – and new enemies – and a possible budding romance.

But Tris has a secret that has been playing on her mind ever since she chose the Dauntless faction. She’s different, and in a perfect society, that could be very dangerous.

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In honour of Divergent’s release in the UK, I’m reviewing Divergent! Maybe I’ll even get to see the film today…

My first impressions of Divergent were that the beginning was very gripping, the world had been explained very quickly and efficiently, making me want to read on. It was a very different book to what I had been expecting, There was a lot more action and plot twists, rather than the overwhelming romance that I had been expecting. However, the connection between Tris and Four was fairly obvious, but I didn’t mind because Four is a very irresistible character.

I loved the plot. It was just right – not too fast, or too slow, and it had enough twists to keep me interested (even though I had read a lot of spoilers on the internet, which were practically unavoidable considering how popular the series is).

The ending was brilliant, and I read the last half in one big chunk, and once I had finished it, I couldn’t stop raving about it and about how I needed to see the film. I thought that Tris was a very interesting main character. She wasn’t the perfect type that often comes up a lot in YA, which I liked, because it made her relatable and understandable. Though, I wish in the end she had thought a little bit more about her friends.

I found there was very little if anything in Divergent that I didn’t enjoy.

I now also have the problem that I need to get my hands on Insurgent and Allegiant.

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Title: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

My Rating:blog 5 leaf rating

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Shadow and Bone opens with heroine Alina and her friend Mal being tested to see if they are Grisha – special humans with various magical powers. Both fail the test.

Fast forward to many years later, where Alina and Mal are travelling into the Shadow Fold –  a darkness that covers some of the nation of Ravka, filled with horrible man-eating creatures. When Mal is attacked by one of these creatures, Alina discovers that she has a brilliant power stored inside of her, one that might just be able to destroy the Shadow Fold.

But, when the Darkling takes her for Grisha training, Alina is seperated from her childhood friend and thrust into a strange new world, filled with jealous and powerful Grisha who want to be impressed.

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I had heard a lot about  Shadow and Bone before I bought it so I had high hopes, that were only made higher by the gorgeous and intriguing cover. Thankfully, I was in no way disappointed.

When people claim Leigh Bardugo’s novel is a wonderfully told fantasy story set in a Russian-esque world, they are telling no lies.

Though the beginning may seem a little abrupt, the story very quickly becomes enthralling and action packed. Alina is a wonderful female lead who does not let anything get in her way, and reading her is nothing but pleasurable. The Darkling comes across as a stereotypical heart throb, but it is all just a facade! His big reveal is surprising and I didn’t see it coming at all, which is a refreshing thing to come across in books. Like Alina, I feel drawn to the Darkling ans since he never confirmed those things Baghra said… is there still hope? I wonder.

I can’t speak for how true/untrue/accurate the Russian elements are in the novel, but since it is fantasy I do believe that the author has pretty much free reign, since fantasy is meant to be different from our own world.

I loved the world building in this novel; it was simple but very effective and I am very much excited to read the sequel.

Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfield

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I N F O R M A T I O N

Title: Uglies (Uglies Trilogy #1)

Author: Scott Westerfield

My Rating: leaf rating buttonleaf rating buttonleaf rating buttonleaf rating button

S U M M A R Y

Tally is an ugly. But soon, it’s her sixteenth birthday, and she will undergo plastic surgery to make her pretty, where she can join her older bestfriend and go to the best parties with all of the pretty people.

But then she meets Shay, who wants to show Tally a man called David, who she says lives permanently ugly outside of society. Tally doesn’t believe the story, but then Shay goes missing… And Tally is given a choice: Find Shay, or stay ugly forever….

R E V I E W

I really enjoyed the unique world that Scott Westerfield created. I thought that Uglies was very tense and suspenseful, and I ate the whole book up in just a day. The novel was very plot and character driven, with Tally not being the most likable narrator, but that only reinforced how much she had been brainwashed into thinking she was ugly. I loved how clear the personality changes were in the uglies and pretties, and I loved how there was so much going on at once.

I thought that the world was very well developed and unique, and I can’t wait to get started on Pretties.