Thursday, 31 March 2016

Half Lost by Sally Wild annihilated me and I'M A MESS

Half Lost (The Half Bad Trilogy, #3)Title: Half Lost
Series: Half Life #3
Author: Sally Green
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication: March 29th 2016, Penguin
Pages: 384 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Penguin for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
Nathan Byrn is running again. The Alliance of Free Witches has been all but destroyed. Scattered and demoralized, constantly pursued by the Council's Hunters, only a bold new strategy can save the rebels from total defeat. They need the missing half of Gabriel's amulet - an ancient artifact with the power to render its bearer invincible in battle.

But the amulet's guardian - the reclusive and awesomely powerful witch Ledger - has her own agenda. To win her trust, Nathan must travel to America and persuade her to give him the amulet. Combined with his own Gifts, the amulet might just be enough turn the tide for the Alliance and end the bloody civil war between Black and White witches once and for all...
 

So, I just finished Half Lost by Sally Green and I am reeling from the exhilarating, breathtaking, life altering story I just read and my heart is splintering as I think back on this incredible journey that I've just experienced. I loved this book, it's one of those books that consumes part of your soul and leaves a permanent mark on your heart. It's one of those books that wraps you in its arms and never relinquishes control. It's one of those books that breaks your heart, snatches your breath away and just makes you feel everything. Half Lost by Sally Green made me cry, it made me laugh, it made me scream in anger and frustration and it completely broke my heart but in the best way possible. I've fallen completely in love with this book and I guarantee that if you read it, so will you.

Where do I begin? Perhaps with the characters, who feel like my best friends?

Nathan, our protagonist, the boy who was abused, tortured and chained because of what he might not even become. A character that I'd do anything to protect, a character that feels like a brother and a best friend. A character who taught me that good and evil aren't two separate things but exist as one within a person. A character who taught me to never give up, that the pain will cease. A character who I fell completely in love with despite them being flawed and angry and hurtful. Seeing the psychological turmoil Nathan faced because of the war and because of his past frightened me and made my heart bleed because we, as the reader, see the dark thoughts that are beginning to race through Nathan's head and I know I came to fear what he might become because of the things he had been forced to do. I can't quite describe how much I love Nathan or why exactly I've formed such an emotional attachment to him, all I know is that I have – he crawled into my heart and will always reside there.

Gabriel, my vibrant, beautiful Gabriel who I fell for even more in this book. He's gentleness and he's love and he's overflowing capacity to forgive had the tears flowing down my face more times than I can count whilst reading this. He, hand in hand with Nathan, crept into my heart and I know they will stay there for as long as I live. He's such a gorgeous person with a soul that shines like the sun. The way he was able to burn away the dark in Nathan, calm him, love him despite the shadows that threatened to consume him utterly astonished me. It was a love so beautiful, an unforgettable one given by a boy so magnificent and it stole my breath away. I'm left speechless about why I love Gabriel all I know is that with every word he speaks and every part of love he shows, I fell in love with him a little bit more.

The secondary characters were just as extraordinary and I became severely emotionally attached to most of the characters which proved to be a slight issue when Sally Green thought it would be fun to kill everyone. We have found ourselves a new Veronica Roth, people. I absolutely loved Nesbitt in this book and I loved watching him and Nathan form something like friendship. I loved Van. I loved Ellen. I loved Greatorex. I even grew to feel some affection towards Celia something I never thought would happen. There was Annalise who I still don't know how exactly I feel about. I was so bitterly furious with her after Half Wild but a part of me believes she did care for Nathan and she did love him and I, like Nathan, often reminisced about the early days of their childhood friendship. I don't think I could ever like her again but I do miss her and Nathan's friendship and I regret that she did what she did because she was a character I really adored. This is what I mean, you feel everything Nathan feels in this book, his confusion, his anger, his grief – that is the mark of a truly talented writer.

I really enjoyed the plot in this book. It showed the fear, the boredom, the grief and the full spectrum of emotions that one feels when faced with a war. There were moments of heart-stopping terror that made my heart freeze in my chest. There were moments of joy when things started looking up. And there was severe ugly crying when things didn't go according to plan. I loved the introduction of Ledger and learning more about the magic the witches possess, I loved watching Nathan harness his gifts, I loved the action-packed scenes and the scenes that had a gentle, melodic quality, I loved everything about this book, except the ending which I will be forever in denial about. That ending completely shattered me. I cried and I screamed and I couldn't bare to turn the pages, I felt such anxiety for my characters and I was left in such shock that for several moments all I could do was sit there and swallow air because that ending made me feel like I'd been punched in the gut. I don't think I've ever been that affected by an ending in my entire life and I still don't think it's officially sunk in. When you read Half Lost, don't be afraid to email or tweet me because you will need to talk about it. (Thank you Charnell and Shannon for being there to cry and rant with me!). It's been a day and I still tear up about it and I'm sure I will continue to tear up whenever I think about it for many more days to come because that ending was cruel and devastating and I could type a thousand more words on just the ending alone but pain. In fact, I still feel in shock and in a haze because how? I have become so attached to this trilogy.

I once again loved the theme this book delved into, about how there is never a distinct good or evil person. There's always going to be love and hatred, peace and war, the beautiful and the horrifying that exist within us. There's a fine line between good and bad and I love how this series wasn't afraid to reveal the venom that lies in all of our hearts. I love how this book shows that no matter what you believe you are, if you come from a family that is consumed with blackened hearts, there's always a speck of good, a blossom of love that you can water and you can grow until the blackness is just dot amidst the sea of white. I love how this book showed that you choose what you become.

I'm so incredibly happy that I've read this trilogy. I've fallen so in love with these characters and they are a firm fixture that sits upon my heart. The writing in this book was lyric and delightful, the plot was enchanting and this whole entire series has utterly swept me away. Half Lost was a heart-breaking but brilliant finale to an exquisite series.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!

- Violence including chopping off body parts and various other graphic scenes
- Implicit sex scene
- Swearing 
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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #36 - The last 10 books I've fallen in love with


I've read 21 books this year and I've read some amazing ones. I haven't read ten 5-star reads this year but I have read a lot of 4.5 reads that are nearly 5 star, so I'm going to include those as well! It's close enough, right?

SO! Let's look at my recent reads that I've fallen in love with:

  1. Talon by Julie Kagawa (5)Talon was my first read of 2016 and I LOVED it! I was quite surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did as I'd heard quite negative things about it but I loved it. I loved the plot and I loved the main character and I loved the romance...I thoroughly enjoyed it!
  1. Am I Normal Yet? By Holly Bourne (5): I'll let you onto a little secret...I actually DNFed this book when I was around 100 pages in because the honest, gritty portrayal of OCD made me feel anxious. However, I decided that I really wanted to finish AINY and I read it and I completely loved it. It's such an amazing book and I highly recommend it.
  1. The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair by Lara Williamson (4.5)I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was such a charming, whimsical yet emotional read about death and family and brothers and ah – I absolutely adored it!
  1. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (4.5): I originally rated this 5/5 cupcakes but although I absolutely loved it, it wasn't an all-time favourite. I loved the characters, the adventure, the romance and the writing in this book. It certainly swept me away and I cannot wait for the sequel!
  1. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (5): This book was freaking amazing! The characters were so real and once I'd finished the book I felt like I'd just made a few new best friends – I love it when that happens! I also really appreciated the themes it explored such as doing what makes you happy and not what society expects of you.
  1. White Cat by Holly Black (4.5): I saw Cait from Paper Fury had recommended this book so I had to give it a go, right? AND I'M SO GLAD I DID. I loved the main character and the crime family and the magic and ah, it was such a unique book – I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy!
  1. Splintered by A.G. Howard (5): GUYS. This book was so flipping amazing. It was like a creepy, Gothic Wonderland with phenomenal characters and snark and delectable writing and AH, I LOVED IT.
  1. Half Wild by Sally Green (5): It was quite funny. I didn't really love Half Bad and I wasn't keen to continue the series but then I read Half Wild and it BLEW MY MIND. I LOVED IT SO MUCH AND I LOVED THE CHARACTERS AND THE STORY AND THE WRITING AND ASDFGHJKL.
  1. Half Lost by Sally Green (5): I finished this last night hence why this post is a day late. I had a feeling that I was going to rate this book 5 cupcakes (which I did) and I didn't want to leave it off the list if it was 5/5. This book totally broke my heart and it was amazing and I'm going to start crying again if I think about it SO LET'S NOT EVEN GO THERE.
  1. Storm by Brigid Kemmerer (4.5): I've always been interested in this series and when I saw this in my local library I didn't hesitate to snatch it up. This book was so fast-paced, I loved the witty one-liners, I loved the romance and the plot was fantastic!
Those were my top 10 recent reads! Have you read any of these? What book was your last 5 star read? Let me know!
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Saturday, 26 March 2016

Need to Read #2 - Popular YA Series I'd Like to Start


Remember that one time I had an idea for a meme? No, me either as it was eight months ago (how is time going so fast?! How?). Today I was thinking about all the YA books I still need to read, especially popular YA books that everyone and their pet alpaca has read except me. SO, I remembered I once made a meme (which you can check out here) and it's basically where I compile a list of certain books and then I try to tick off those books because I want to read every book ever which is impossible but I can dream okay.

I also thought I'd do a wrap-up of the previous Need to Read post and see how many books I've read from that list, spoiler: not many. The ones with the pink check mark I've read, as you can see I haven't read many from the list but at least it's something, right?? On this list I have the following on my bookshelf: The Raven Boys, Throne of Glass, We Were Liars, City of Heavenly Fire and A Great and Terrible Beauty, so I should read them shortly methinks!



SO! Today I was thinking there are so many YA series that I would like to start and I'm going to compile a list of those books! If you would like to make your own list of Popular YA Series You'd Like to Start, make a post and leave the link in the comments!


Popular YA Series I'd Like to Start:

I KNOW IT'S EMBARRASSING OKAY DON'T JUDGE ME. BUT I'm going to print this list and I'm going to work my way through this list! Summer is around the corner and then I shall read all day, every day YAS. 

I'm particularly excited about reading Vampire Academy (even though I'm terrified of vampire books because ew, blood), Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (I saw the trailer and I need this book in my life), Throne of Glass (everyone loves that book, I swear), The Raven Boys (Cait recommended it and Cait is good at recommending *nods*) and The Winner's Curse (Fun fact: I've dreamed that I've bought this book three times but I still don't have it, unfortunately). Which book should I read first?? LET'S VOTE!


Which book should I read first?

Delirium
Everneath
Fallen
I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You
Legend
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
These Broken Stars
The Raven Boys
Throne of Glass
The Selection
Under the Never Sky
Vampire Academy
The Winner's Curse
trivia quiz
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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

I'm officially in love with Half Wild by Sally Green

Half Wild (The Half Bad Trilogy, #2)Title: Half Wild
Series: Half Life #2
Author: Sally Green
Publication: Penguin UK, March 24th 2015
Pages: 402 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
After finally meeting his elusive father, Marcus, and receiving the three gifts that confirm him as a full adult witch, Nathan is still on the run. He needs to find his friend Gabriel and rescue Annalise, now a prisoner of the powerful Black witch Mercury. Most of all he needs to learn how to control his Gift – a strange, wild new power that threatens to overwhelm him.
Meanwhile, Soul O'Brien has seized control of the Council of White Witches and is expanding his war against Black witches into Europe. In response, an unprecedented alliance has formed between Black and White witches determined to resist him. Drawn into the rebellion by the enigmatic Black witch Van Dal, Nathan finds himself fighting alongside both old friends and old enemies. But can all the rebels be trusted, or is Nathan walking into a trap?
I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. I'm not even sure if I can write this review right now because there's about a billion feelings whizzing around inside of me and every single one of them is to do with this book because Half Wild broke my heart. I loved every second of it but still, it completely annihilated me. I'd also like to say It's very rare for me to love a sequel more than I love the first book, but Half Wild, the sequel to Half Bad, blew me away. It took me on a journey, it broke my heart and I'm still waiting for the author to stitch me back together with ink on ivory. It made me laugh and it made me swim in an ocean created by my tears. Half Wild was exhilarating and riveting and I've fallen completely in love with it.

I was quite hesitant going into Half Wild because I didn't fall as in love with Half Bad like I was hoping to, but within 60 pages this book had me completely and irrevocably entranced. Everything about this book was so excellent. There was a fast-pace, there was beautiful character development, there was an engrossing plot, humorous dialogue and shocking twists that drove a stake into my heart. I'm not even joking, I have not cried so much whilst reading a book in a very long time. 

I'll talk about the characters who are all so angry, confused and hurt and who I just want to wrap in a blanket and keep them safe from the mean author. Nathan was one part of Half Bad that saved the book for me. I absolutely love Nathan. He's not a perfect person, he has the blood of witches on his hands, he lashes out at the people he loves, he's scared and he's so angry, but he's also not bad. He cares for people and loves people and wants to minimize the amounts of death in the world. He's conflicted due to all that he's experienced but he has his heart in the right place. He's this fiery ball of fierceness, vulnerability and snark and I just absolutely fell in love with Nathan all over again. It was quite painful for me to read of the internal struggle he was having with himself, debating his worth and whether or not he was more "Black" or more "White". I think we both realise now how much more complicated it is than that and I really adored how this book, like the former, challenged the good vs evil. In this book lines begin to be more blurred though and you realise how complicated and complex the nature of being wholly angelic and thoroughly devilish is and whether or not it's even possible to reside as both.

Then there was my darling Gabriel who I am utterly in love with. He's so sweet, so gentle, so patient and it breaks his heart daily to see Nathan pine over Annalise but even if Nathan doesn't reciprocate his feelings he stays by Nathan's side, does whatever he asks, is willing to lay down his life for Nathan. His devout loyalty and his fierce determination to protect Nathan just broke my heart and I wish him nothing but happiness. He's definitely one of my new favorite fictional characters but gosh, he can make me cry.
I can’t not be with you, Nathan. I wanted to leave you in that grave and walk away but I couldn’t. I can’t walk ten paces away from you without it hurting me. I treasure every second with you. Every second. More than you know.” 
MY EMOTIONS. I CAN'T RIGHT NOW. I JUST CAN'T.


stacerizz crying cry david schwimmer american crime story

I absolutely adored the addition of Van and Nesbitt to the story! Not only do I ship them (they are so utterly different yet I feel like they belong together. Are they even like a thing? I don't know but I ship them) but they added more texture to the story and it was from the introduction of Nesbitt where I really started falling in love with Half Wild. Sally Green creates such interesting, complex characters and I'm so happy that she added Nesbitt and Van to the story because their banter and their Gifts and just everything about them made the book so much more interesting to me.

Then there's Annalise who I am so mad at I could possibly explode. Not only is she unsympathetic, doesn't appreciate my precious Nathan enough and ruins pretty much everything for everyone the entire book, I think I have enough reason to be mad at her. Especially in this book, you'll know what I'm talking about if you've read it. I can understand her reasoning for the way she acted but GOSH, COULDN'T SHE HAVE THOUGHT THINGS THROUGH A BIT MORE. Spoiler: Clearly not.

Disney Pixar disney angry pixar mad

There was also another character who we were introduced to in the first book but who we only got to see more of in this book and that is Marcus, Nathan's mysterious father. Guys, I love Marcus. He's a villain because he's one of the most evil, murderous Black Witches in the UK but if you see the way he interacts with his son, the way he protects him and the way he's always been there for him in small ways, you'll begin to see him differently. I also appreciated how the author showed us his ruthless, murderous side as well as the caring, loving father as it once again emphasized how good and evil coexists in all of us. Within the darkest of hearts can be a flickering of light and in the purest of hearts there can be a jagged crack of darkness. 

Another thing I absolutely adored about Half Wild was the development of the characters and the relationships. I feel like all the characters are growing and becoming more comfortable with themselves and becoming fearless in their attempts to test their limits. I also loved the relationships. You see Nathan and Gabriel grow closer as they truly realise how much they love each other and how loyal they are to one another. You see Nathan begins to see a darker side to Annalise. You get to see the almost friendship of  Nathan and Nesbitt which was absolutely hilarious and you get to experience the magnificent relationship between Nathan and his father which just killed me inside. The relationships were so well done and I fell so in love with reading about every single one of them and I'M IN LOVE WITH THIS TRILOGY OKAY.

Then there was the writing which was as divine as always. I love the author's unique writing style, I loved the breathtaking quotes scattered throughout this book and I loved how wonderfully everything is tying together.

Half Wild was an extraordinary sequel that snatched me up in its clutches from the first few chapters and didn't relinquish control until the end of the novel where I was allowed to catch my breath again. With characters you'll fall in love with, a plot that will have your heart racing, magic weaving through the story, a heartbreaking romance and devastating plot twists, Half Wild stole my breath away and now holds a place on my "favorites" shelf.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES

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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

IT'S MY BLOGOVERSARY!!!

GUESS WHOSE BLOG TURNS 4 today?!

Mine!

*throws confetti and hands out cake*

I cannot quite comprehend that it's been four years since I started my book blog. Looking back it makes me smile to think of that clueless little thirteen year old sitting in front of her computer and deciding to make a blog, not having a clue what she was doing, to the seventeen year old I am today. Looking back I never expected the things I would achieve, the people I would meet, the opportunities I would get...I never expected blogging to become such a big part of my life.

There have been times where blogging hasn't been easy. Times where guilt sinks in as schoolwork stares at me as I blog or read, times where my anxiety has been bad and I've just been too exhausted to think of something witty or even coherent to say...but it's always been there for me. My blog is a safe haven for me to escape to when things are tough. There's all the amazing, wonderful people in the book blogging community who are there to speak to, there's the books I can read that I've been given the opportunity to read, the authors I get to speak to on Twitter (this still blows my mind. Seriously.) - I can talk about books and cry about books and no one will judge me for it - in fact, they generally join in (if that doesn't prove that book people are the best people than what does?!)

I started this book blog because I loved reading, I never knew there was a whole community of people who also blogged about books, I didn't know I'd be working with such awesome publicists who would actually send me books. I've become more confident in myself, my writing has improved (those first reviews are no. Just, no.), I've made friends and I've just grown as a person. This blog has opened me up to so many amazing things and I'll always be grateful for that.

Now, there are so many people I want to thank and I apologise if I miss anyone out!

❤️ Jolien from The Fictional Reader for being such an amazing blogging friend. I absolutely love Jolien's blog and she is such a spectacular person and always there for words of encouragement and I'm so grateful for her friendship!
❤️ Cait from Paper Fury for her fabulous posts, her enthusiastic flailing, incessant fangirling and brilliant book recommendations that always makes me smile!
❤️ Beth from The Quiet People for her kindness and her wonderful comments that always leave a huge smile on my face.
❤️ Ranu from The Araylia Bookshelf who is such a wonderful person! She's got brilliant taste in books, she's so kind and wonderfully funny and it's always lovely chatting to her!
❤️ Shannon from It Starts at Midnight is such a wonderful person and she always leaves the sweetest, most supportive comments and they always, always make me happy! <3
❤️ Kristin from Simply Bookish Things is actually my best friend in real life and it's been awesome her starting a book blog as we discuss bookstagram photos, review copies, picture editing etc which is fantastic!
❤️ Zoe who used to own the book blog Bookhi and who's been my bookish buddy for the majority of these four years. She's also such a kind person and so wonderful to chat to! 

These are just a few people but there are many, many more! I'd also like to give the following bloggers a shout out for being there 
at points in this blogging journey: Lucy from Queen of Contemporary, Amber from The Mile Long Bookshelf, Jess from My Reading Dress, Emily from Loony Literate and Becca from Reading Teen, Aentee from Read at Midnight, Alise from Readers in Wonderland, Hawwa from HAWWA, ETC and Joy from Joyous Reads...thank you for the tweets and the kind comments on my blog! <3

I also want to thank all the publishers I've worked with: Pan Macmillan SA, Penguin Random House South Africa, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Penguin Random House UK, Usborne Publishers, MIRA Ink and Abrams & Chronicle! Thank you for all the books you've sent me and the opportunities you've given me!


I also thought it would be interesting to see the stats I've accumulated over the past four years. SO LET'S SEE!

Page views: 309,440

GFC: 508

Twitter: 1,021

BlogLovin: 412

Instagram: 943

Wow! Thank you! I'm so happy with that and although I don't really focus that much on stats anymore, it makes my heart swell with pride that at some point each of these people wanted to hear what I had to say - thank you!

I'm so thankful to all you guys who read and comment on my blog, it makes me so indescribably happy! <3 I'm really excited to see where Blog of a Bookaholic takes me in the future and I'm excited to see it grow alongside me. :D

To show my appreciation I thought I'd treat all you lovely people to a giveaway! You can win any book of your choice as long as it's under £10 GBP and The Book Depository ships to your country. A few other rules are:

  1. You must be over 13 to enter or have your parents' permission.
  2. Be able to provide a legit shipping address
  3. The winner has 48 hours to reply, otherwise another winner will be chosen!
  4. The giveaway will run from today, March 22nd, up until April 22nd!
  5. That's all! May the odds be ever in your favor! ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Monday, 21 March 2016

I sadly didn't fall in love with Half Bad by Sally Green like I was hoping to

Half Bad (Half-Life Trilogy, #1)Title: Half Bad
Series: Half Life #1
Author: Sally Green
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publication: March 4th 2014, Viking Books for Young Readers
Pages: 380 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 3.5/5 CUPCAKES!
Wanted by no one.Hunted by everyone.
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?
Half Bad is an international sensation and the start of a brilliant trilogy: a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive.

When I was given the opportunity to be sent the Half Bad trilogy to review, I immediately jumped at the chance. I've heard fantastic things about the books and I've been craving a delicious fantasy read to sink my teeth into. So upon starting the book my expectations were high and for the first few chapters, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, however, as the story wore on, my love and interest in the book slightly decreased.
Half Bad features Nathan Byrn - the child of a White Witch and one of the most wicked, darkest Black Witches in the country. Due to the cruel, despicable natures of Black Witches, they are generally hunted and killed. As Nathan is the child of Marcus, one of the most feared Black Witches, Nathan is abused, tortured and hunted due to his parentage. The book follows Nathan from when he's 8 years old up until the age of 17, the year he becomes a fully fledged witch and receives his Gift. It chronicles his life, showing the inhumane suffering he experiences, the friends he makes and the journey he takes in order to discover what lies in his heart - a void of darkness or the purity of a white heart?

My feelings on this book are quite jumbled. I feel like it's one of those books that I could have potentially fallen in love with and I thought I was falling in love with the book as I read the first few pages but as I progressed through the story I began to feel slightly...bored, a feeling that I wasn't expecting to experience when I first picked up this book. That was my main problem with Half Bad, I was bored because this book moves at such a slow pace. As I reached the half way point of this book nothing much had happened and it really disappointed me as I was expecting this book to take me on a fast-paced, thrilling adventure and it didn't contain that. I just felt like more needed to happen and at a faster pace. There were a couple of instances when things did  speed up and there was a riveting, tense scene between Nathan and the Hunters and I devoured those scenes. 

I was also quite disappointed at the limited amount of magic featured in Half Bad, they're witches, they can do magic and there just wasn't enough of that, in my opinion. Perhaps I had too high expectations about witch books because the only other wizardry type books I've read are Harry Potter. Another thing is I never really felt connected to this book, it didn't play like a movie in my head and I was always fully aware that I was reading - it didn't sweep me away like I thought it would. Perhaps that's just me.

Despite that, there were some things about Half Bad that I really enjoyed. I loved our main character, Nathan, in fact, he's probably what saved the book for me. He's angry, he's defensive, he lashes out, he's wonderfully snarky and he's just this adorable mess of frustration and hurt and I just wanted to hug him because he's experienced the most vicious abuse and torture despite him never having done anything to harm anyone. The White Witches are using him as their personal punching bag to unleash the bitterness and hate they hold towards Nathan's father and it broke my heart, because we have a boy who is just that...a boy. He's not purely good and he's not devastatingly bad and he doesn't deserve to be treated as an abomination because of what his parents were. I cried several times whilst reading this book because Nathan's hopeless situation tore at my heartstrings and I think what made reading this even more devastating is because we've grown up with Nathan in a sense. The book starts when he's eight years old and ends when he's the age of seventeen and we see throughout all the years he's lived, the hate and torture he receives every year and because of this he almost begins to feel like your little brother or a close friend you've known for years, someone you'd do anything to protect because he's 8, 9, 10 years old and even at 17 it's still so young to be hunted for something you might not even turn out to be. So, it can safely be said, I definitely have a soft spot for Nathan and I highly admire his bravery and resilience. 

I adored the other characters too, especially Nathan's family (not Jessica, that girl is hell personified). Deborah, Arran and Nathan's gran were so supportive, loving and protective and it warmed my heart to see all they were willing to do to help Nathan and the lengths they would go to in order to protect him. Also, Nathan's relationship with his older brother was just SO ADORABLE. The family dynamics in this book were utterly wonderful. Seriously.

There are two other characters who are important in this book. A White Witch named Annalise who befriended Nathan and who he is spellbound by (not literally but can we appreciate my pun?) and Gabriel, a boy Nathan befriends in the process of trying to find his father. I liked Annalise, she's a very sincere and such a lovely person and I'm looking forward to seeing her character develop further in the sequel as I didn't really see enough of her in Half Bad in order to form a strong emotional attachment to her but that what I did see I really liked.

I also LOVED Gabriel! HE READS BOOKS obviously not the only reason I like him but he reads. Not only is he a fellow bibliophile, he's also incredibly brave, kind, sweet and just a wonderful character. As with Annalise, I didn't feel as connected to him as we didn't see much of him either but I absolutely adored him whenever he appeared and I'm super excited to see his character development in the sequels.

Another thing I really liked about this book is the writing. I've heard quite a few complaints about the second person narrative in the first part of the book but I loved that. Not many authors write in second person but I can really appreciate it when one does. I personally love writing my poetry from second person so I absolutely relished in the delightful surprise of that. It does switch to first person narrative after that though and it was quite intriguing having two different narratives taking place. I also loved how connected we were to Nathan's emotions like every thought he gets, every slice of pain he excruciatingly experiences, every pang of fear that stills his heart and then sends it into overdrive the readers feel as well. When reading Half Bad, you become Nathan.

I also enjoyed the representation of good vs evil and nature vs nurture. It evokes thinking and conversation upon the topic of what makes us who we are. The way we're raised or the DNA laced through our bodies? How do you define who is essentially good and evil when both sides have murdered and both sides have shown love and compassion? I really enjoyed the depiction of the wars between good and evil that rages within our hearts and how nothing is ever simply black and white, no matter how much we want it to be.

Half Bad wasn't the exhilarating, breathtaking adventure I was hoping for but nonetheless, I loved the complex but lovable characters, the unique, magical writing, dark and the thought-provoking questions of what determines who we are, who we're meant to be and whether any of us are truly good or completely evil, wrapped up in the twisted, gritty world of witches.

I give it: 3.5/5 cupcakes!
- Graphic scenes of violence

- Mild swearing
- Violence
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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Splintered by A.G. Howard IS MY NEW FAVORITE THING OKAY

Splintered (Splintered, #1)Title: Splintered
Series: Splintered #1
Author: A.G. Howard
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Publication: January 1st 2013, Amulet Books
Pages: 371 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Abrams & Chronicle for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES! A new favorite.
This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence.
Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

GUYS. This book. You know, I try to review books eloquently and in an articulate manner but Splintered is one of those books where I can't help but use GIFs and all caps because I just loved it that freaking much. When I was offered to review this book, I immediately jumped at the chance as I've always been intrigued by this book because 1) That cover just makes all covers pale in comparison and b) THAT PREMISE. An Alice in Wonderland retelling?! YES PLEASE. I love Alice in Wonderland so much (and pretty covers but I digress) so since this book was released I've been wanting to read this. AND I FINALLY READ IT AND I LOVED IT EVEN MORE THAN I THOUGHT I WOULD.

Anyway, when Splintered landed on my doorstep as if by magic and I saw how stunning it is (the font in the book is purple. This book is literally beautiful.) and the heaven's sang (okay, I'm getting slightly carried away but I just really love this), I sprinted through my current read and began Splintered. And I'll tell you, I fell in love from the very first page. From the very first page Splintered swept me up into it's enchanting, dark, fascinating world. The rich writing, lovable characters and incandescent plot combined together made this book one of the best books I've read this year - and perhaps ever. I can definitely say Splintered is a new favorite. It's one of those books that will have you turning the pages until your eyes are burning from exhaustion, one of those books that will have you shrieking and flailing and crying and gaining concerned looks from passersby. Splintered had me utterly captivated.


SO! Let's talk about all the things that I loved (which was basically everything. THIS BOOK CAN DO NO WRONG.).

Let's speak about my precious characters first!

Okay, so. I seriously adore Alyssa, who is our main character. She's quite vulnerable and sometimes afraid, she's terrified of ending up in an asylum like her mother (who wouldn't be?), she's snarky and she's innocent and people want to protect her because of the things she's had to go through with her mom being admitted, but she isn't afraid to put them in their place when she informs them that she can, in fact, take care of herself. I also may have fangirled throughout when Alyssa was determined to keep saving her mother, herself and their future descendants from the madness instead of fawning over boys like a lot of heroines I've read about.

Also, can I just say, Alyssa's relationship with her father was SO ADORABLE, in fact, just her general relationship with her parents were great. So many book characters don't get along with their parents and it was so refreshing seeing a change from  I love how real Alyssa seemed and she's definitely one of my new favorite heroines.

 I love how she isn't your standard gutsy, confident heroine. I love how she likes dressing up in flamboyant outfits and decorating her face with makeup but she also loved skateboarding and creating Gothic masterpieces made out of the bugs...she just had such character. I loved how she couldn't be defined by a stereotype. She wasn't strictly girly girl, or strictly a tomboy, or strictly into creative hobbies and not sporty hobbies...she was just a girl and I loved that about this book as I feel like in a lot of books I read, there's always these stereotypes. Alyssa can't fit into any kind of stereotype, she's unique and she just allows herself to be and I LOVE THAT.

Another thing I really liked was that Alyssa was innocent and hadn't experienced a lot of things that many teenagers supposedly have. She hasn't had her first kiss yet, she's still a virgin and shes never had a boyfriend and I love that the author included a character who isn't as experienced in romantic activities, as there are teenagers out there who are like Alyssa but they're never really written about and I'm glad that Alyssa was quite innocent and naive like that as she's a character that a few people - myself included - can relate to. So, thank you, A.G. Howard!

Then there are the two love interests - Jeb and Morpheus. Yes, there is a love triangle but it's done well, okay? If you want to know what team I'm on, it's team Jeb. I LOVE JEB SO MUCH. He's so protective of Alyssa and they've been best friends since they were kids and Alyssa is secretly in love with him and he's in love with her and I was just like:


I will admit that I do think at times he's slightly *too* protective but it's only because he loves Alyssa and cares about her with all his heart. He's so kind and caring and he always has everyone's best interests at heart and I'M JUST IN LOVE WITH JEB. Him and Alyssa just fit so well together, Jeb is protective and Alyssa is vulnerable and they have this cute banter and the chemistry between them is fantastic and THEY'RE MY NEW OTP, I LOVE THEM.

Then there is Morpheus. At first I was completely intrigued by him, he's an enthralling, mysterious figure and I, like Alyssa was enraptured by his existence, by those tattooed eyes and that electric blue hair. There's also the fact that Morpheus and Alyssa were childhood friends and she trusts him, he helped her find her footing among the twisted deception of Wonderland, he protected her, he taught her...she was his friend, his accomplice and his pupil. I, like Alyssa, had a soft spot for him and appreciated all he's done for her but I, also like Alyssa, wasn't sure where we stood once the story ended. I still don't know how I feel about Morpheus. He's manipulative, he's deceptive, he alters lies to sound like the truth...but there's still something about him that makes the reader feel like there's a good soul hidden beneath those blackened, electrifying eyes. There's something tender in the way he speaks to Alyssa, in the way which he holds her, something that shows how much he deeply cares for her and cherishes the childhood innocence she allowed him to have. And although I want to dislike Morpheus for his ulterior motives involving Alyssa...I'm intrigued by him and I even like him. I appreciate the fact that he's aware of Alyssa's capabilities and doesn't feel the need to save and protect her from every sign of danger. He believes in her, he's funny and sarcastic...he's a complex character and I'm looking forward to finding out more about him in the next book. I feel like I could fall in love with him BUT JUST STOP WITH THE MIND GAMES, MORPHEUS. GOSH.


Then there's the plot which was just indescribably amazing! Splintered contains the magic of a Gothic wonderland, spellbinding adventure and extraordinary occurrences. Everything about this book was just so exhilarating and I wasn't bored, not for a single moment. Not only is there an epic adventure that will leave you breathless, but there's plot twists. Major plot twists. At first I was confused because I just could not believe what I was reading...


And then reality sank in...


And I may have freaked out slightly and run around the house yelling WHAT IS THIS LIFE because deception and betrayal is made clear. My parents were slightly worried but, I'm good now. Kind of.


(Spoiler: No, not really)

Not only was the plot flawless, but the writing was utterly scrumptious, snatching me from the first word and holding me captive all the way through the book. The sentences the author strung together gave the book such an enchanting, divine quality, I can't quite explain it but it made me firmly conclude that A.G. Howard is going on my auto-buy authors list.

A.G. Howard has concocted a spellbinding, exhilarating story that takes place in the heart of the dark, deceptive landscape of Wonderland. With vivid, rich writing that weaved it's way through a vivacious tale, a morbidly fascinating setting and charming characters, Splintered by A.G. Howard will have you completely captivated. If you're looking for your new favorite book, READ THIS.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!

“Sometimes a flame must level a forest to ash before new growth can begin. I believe Wonderland needed a scouring.”
“He is glory and deprecation—sunlight and shadows—the scuttle of a scorpion and the melody of a nightingale. The breath of the sea and the cannonade of a storm. Can you relay birdsong, or the sound of wind, or the scurry of a creature across the sand? For the proper names of netherlings are made up of the life forces defining them. Can you speak these things with your tongue?”  
“For that is the essence of a soul. Hopes and dreams and love.” 
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