Thursday, March 13, 2014

Brad About Books: Nil by Lynne Matson

Read on September 29, 2013
Published: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (Macmillan)
Format: ARC
Page Count: 384 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

How do you escape from an island that doesn't exist?

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have exactly 365 days to escape—or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that she has to find a way to beat the clock, and quickly.

Nil is a thrilling, heart-pounding read that had me tangled up in the race against the clock of surviving this deadly island - it's unlike anything I've ever read!

Nil starts off with a bang and the action never stops. Right from page one, Matson throws us into turmoil right alongside the characters, and each page has something to offer that will either having your heart racing or have you looking over your shoulder (or both!), and I really loved that she managed to capture the feeling of fear in Nil. This island is a true nightmare and with all the secrets that are revealed about the island, I would hate to be stuck on it - but it was a blast to read about. The clock is ticking for our characters, and Matson does an exceptional job at keeping the energy going throughout Nil.

Speaking of characters, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the inhabitants on Nil! Charley is such an awesome protagonist. I loved her smokey, unclear background - she wakes up not knowing anything about the island, and we get to discover the secrets with her. Not only do we discover secrets about the island, we get to know more about Charley and the other characters throughout Nil, and I thought it was fantastic how no one was truly what they seemed to be. If I had just one complaint about Nil, it would be that I would've liked to have seen a little more character development from the side characters. Other than that, all the characters (or villagers of Nil, I guess you could say) are truly fascinating, and they're definitely one of the best team-effort YA groups I've ever read about!

I'm all for anything thriller/mystery/anything that can keep my eyes glued to the page and have me turning pages as fast as I can, and Nil did just the trick. From its absorbing atmosphere of darkness and peril to the small quirks of the island the reader discovers while sinking deeper into the mystery of the island Nil, Nil is sure to have readers entwined with its stunning mystery and haunting prose. 

Overall, Nil is an epic, fast-paced thriller that is highly intriguing and addicting. Wonderful!

M Y    R A T I N G

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Brad About Books: Half Bad by Sally Green

Read from October 22 to 23, 2013
Published: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (Penguin)
Format: ARC
Page Count: 416 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Series: Half Life, #1

A stunning, magical debut. An international sensation.

In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-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 sixteenth 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.


Half Bad is a stunning, captivating tale that caught my attention from page one and held onto me until the epic finale. It's unlike anything I've ever read, and I couldn't have asked for a more action-packed, engrossing tale from this book. Loved it!

I haven't read too many witch stories, but out of all of the ones I have read, Half Bad truly stands out. Nathan's character was fantastic. With the internal struggle of leaning towards his pure side or his dark, twisted side, the reader gets to discover all sides of Nathan in this novel, both good and bad. He transforms so much from the beginning to the end, and to see his character morph and change was awesome. He starts off weak and lonely in the beginning, but Green builds him up in Half Bad and definitely isn't afraid to tear him back down. Nathan is a hero worth rooting for. He goes through so many trials in Half Bad, and I absolutely loved how Sally Green handled his character development.

World-building is so important to me in a novel, and the world of Half Bad is marvelous. The views society has on witches - and the views witches have on society - blends into the storyline perfectly, and it alters the vision that the reader sees of our modern day world. I wasn't ever sure whether I should be rooting for the witches or hating them, and I loved how Green managed to capture that sense in this novel. Half Bad is all about finding your place in the world and figuring out yourself in the loneliness of times, and it truly is a brutal, phenomenal gem that was still on my mind long after I turned the final page. Masterfully plotted and intoxicating, Half Bad is an absolute must-read.

The paranormal genre could be a tad overdone at times, but Half Bad is something unlike anything that's ever been done before, and it will capture you until the very end. From heavy action scenes of daring escapes and finding the people who have abandoned you to scenes of discovering yourself within the darkest of places, Half Bad is everything you could want in a book. I still haven't gotten over this book.

Overall, Half Bad is one of a kind, and it will have you entangled with Nathan's world with its intrigue, mystical beauty, and world of lies and betrayal. Half Bad is astonishingly fantastic!

M Y    R A T I N G

Monday, March 3, 2014

Brad About Books: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Read from December 16 to 19, 2013
Expected Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: FSG (Macmillan)
Format: ARC
Page Count: 355 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Series: The Winner's Trilogy, #1

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. 

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

There are no words to describe how fantastic that The Winner's Curse truly is. From its incredible world-building to the heartbreaking way that Rutkoski crafts together Kestrel and Arin's story in a world full of betrayal and the true price of coming out on top, The Winner's Curse is sure to revolutionize the YA genre. I adored this book. 

If you want to know how much I love The Winner's Curse, it was in the top two of my favorite reads of last year - I loved it that much. And with all the hype surrounding it, it most definitely lives up to all of its praise. The writing style is superb. I'm a huge fan of world-building, and Rutkoski does a phenomenal job of sweeping the reader into this beautiful, dark empire where nothing is as it seems and one act of rebellion can ignite a war. Rutkoski grabbed me from page one and never let me go - this book consumed everything of me while I was reading it and long after I turned the final page. If you're a huge fan of fantasy like I am, to say that The Winner's Curse is a must-read is an absolute understatement. I can't even with this amazingness that is The Winner's Curse.

"The piano, on the other hand, was a network of parts - a ship, with its strings like rigging, its a case a hull, its lifted lid a sail." -The Winner's Curse (This writing style is fantastic. Absolutely stunning.)

I connected to the characters in more of a way than I have with characters in a very long time. Kestrel is a heroine worth rooting for. She's determined and headstrong, and I loved how independent and courageous she was. Even if it meant betraying those she loved, Kestrel would do anything for her country and her heart, and I couldn't ask for her to be anymore amazing. I'm excited to see how her character will develop in the sequel! Arin, on the other hand, was so mysterious and dark - it was interesting to get an insight into his world! (His twisted world, that is) I love it when you just know that a character is up to no good, but you have that spark within you that they could be doing something for the better; Arin was that type of character. Though he and Kestrel never seemed to agree, they balanced each other out so perfectly, and I loved seeing them together throughout the story. Their bonds were definitely tested many times throughout The Winner's Curse, and Marie Rutkoski did an incredible job with these characters. Oh my gosh, THIS BOOK. There are seriously no words. Please, do yourself a favor and pick up this gem. It's a masterpiece. 

The Winner's Curse is impossible to put down. Enthralling and captivating, this novel broke my heart and had me fully engrossed in the story at all times. And with fantastic characters and one of the best world-buildings I've ever come across, it does just the trick. I can't stress enough how powerful and emotional The Winner's Curse is. From the times of secrets and betrayals lingering all around Kestrel's world to the times of silence when its just Kestrel with the only thing she can ever truly love, The Winner's Curse is sure  to have you on the edge of your seat until the explosive, fantastic finale.

Overall, The Winner's Curse is hands down one of my favorite books of all time. Incredibly thought-out and smart in the ways that it portrays society and the true cost of winning, The Winner's Curse is spectacular.

M Y     R A T I N G