Kick Push: A Book Review

“You said that life’s just like skating; I just need to kick forward and take a chance, push off the ground and follow through. And when everything works out, I’ll coast.”

Book: Kick Push

Author: Jay McLean

Kick Push (Kick Push, #1)

Blurb:

There’s a single defining moment within every skater.
It lasts only a second. Two if you’re good.
Three if you’re really good.
It’s the moment you’re in the air, your board somewhere beneath you, and nothing but wind surrounds you.
It’s the feeling of being airborne.

The sixteen-year-old version of me would’ve said it was the greatest feeling in the world.
Then at seventeen, I had my son.
And every single second became a defining moment. Even the ones that consisted of heartbreak when his mother left us.

Seventeen. Single. Dad.
That’s what my life became.
Yet, every day, I managed to find that feeling of being airborne.
Or at least I convinced myself I did.
But I lied—to myself and to everyone around me.
Until she showed up; Tanned skin, raven dark hair, and eyes the color of emeralds.

You know what sucks about being in the air?
Coming down from the high.
Sometimes you land on the board and nail the trick.
Then kick, push, and coast away.
Other times you fall.
You fall hard.
And those are the times when it’s not as easy to get back up, dust off your pads and try again.
Especially when the girl with the emerald eyes becomes your drug…
And you become her poison.

My thoughts:

Kick Push was one of my Random Reads. I don’t know why I picked it up. It was about a skater. I know nothing about skating. It was a new-adult romance. I typically dislike angsty, over-blown new-adult romances. It promised to cover teen pregnancy. (This is going to sound awful) I’ve never considered the difficulties of being a single parent in your teens. Not in anything more than a vague, distant way.

Kick Push has amazing writing. It is lyrical and descriptive. Each word is violent and necessary. Each sentence high-kicks you in the face and each paragraph shoves your head under water. Sometimes, the writing was so beautiful and sad and simple, I found my lungs burning because I had forgotten to keep breathing.

“He punches the steering wheel. And then he breaks. The boy I love breaks. And there’s nothing sadder, nothing harder in the world than watching the person you love fall apart right before your eyes—and you can’t say or do anything”

Yes, it’s melodramatic and overblown. You can tell just by reading the blurb (which I did not do because it was a Random Read). It’s overly-poetic and unabashedly sorrowful but I can forgive it….Almost.

This book gave me so much more respect for single parents. In an abstract way, I knew that it wasn’t easy to be a single parent (or to be a teen parent). I know that jobs rarely want to hire high-schoolers with no experience. I know that child-care is expensive and I know that parents make sacrifices, but never has it resonated so much with me.

I am so impressed by Ms. McLean’s gutsy decision to write this from the perspective of a guy. Again, this  makes me sound recklessly uncaring,  but even though I’ve heard of single-mother teens, I’ve never considered how tough it would be for the father.

“You know what’s worse than your landlady calling you out on wearing cologne purely because you want to impress her granddaughter? I’ll tell you what. Being in the confined space of a truck while your son tells said granddaughter about how you paid him five moneys for him to tell you about what she said about you. Yeah. That’s happening.”

But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?)  this is first and foremost a love story. While I loved both characters individually, I couldn’t root for their relationship. They were just so broken and dealing with so many responsibilities, that I kept thinking their relationship was unhealthy. Maybe, that’s why I wasn’t surprised the relationship turned to shit, that the break-up was so destructive.

I appreciate that the book acknowledges that real-life lesson, that love isn’t always enough. That sometimes there is some scary, horrible things happening below the surface and that you need to be careful when you give your heart to someone, even if they’re the most selfless, bravest, kindest person you know.

This book ends on a cliff-hanger and I’m not even angry about it. If there was a happy-ending, I would have considered it rushed. Both characters fought some of their nasty demons in this book, but they still have a lot of growing up to do. There’s a second book (no idea when it’ll be released though).

“There’s a big difference between being happy and being selfish. Choose to be happy. Fire truck the rest.”

Overall Rating: 3/5

On a barely related side-note, this book makes me realize that real-life is scary.

Half Wild: A Book Review

“The point of being good is doing it when it’s tough, not when it’s easy.”

Book: Half Wild (Half Bad #2)

Author: Sally Green

Half Wild (The Half Bad Trilogy, #2)

Blurb:

“You will have a powerful Gift, but it’s how you use it that will show you to be good or bad.”

In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, seventeen-year-old Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most powerful and violent witch. Nathan is hunted from all sides: nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted. Now, Nathan has come into his own unique magical Gift, and he’s on the run–but the Hunters are close behind, and they will stop at nothing until they have captured Nathan and destroyed his father.

My Thoughts:

This book is like taffy; It’s a bit tough in the beginning  but it sticks to your teeth.
Weird description, but it holds true. I  promise. 🙂

In the first book, I felt sorry for Nathan. In that book, he was a child. Prosecuted, abused, frightened, eager to make the world like him. Nathan was the child locked away in the attic that you cry for. The poor little kicked puppy trying to so damn hard to be perfect. It was impossible to hate him- I could see why he wanted his family to accept him. But at the same time, it was impossible to be impressed by him.

In this one, he’s evolved. He isn’t a child any more; if I had to put him into an age group, I’d say angry teen who belongs to a gang. He’s come to terms with the fact that there’s a rift between Black witches and White witches. He’s no longer bright-eyed, bushy-tailed- believing that if he’s quiet enough, sweet enough, good enough- the White witches will stop judging him for the deaths that his Father caused. He’s jaded and angsty. He’s violent, less likely to look for ‘painless’ solutions. He’s turned into a serious badass (complete with missing finger) and he’s stopped trying to impress the Whites (well, except for Annalise but I’ll get annoyed about that later).

Now, here’s what I really hated about the book: Annalise and Nathan’s obsessive quest to save her. Oh! Annalise with the soft white skin and blue eyes. Oh! Annalise who’s a helpless, judgemental little twerp. Oh! Annalise- who I just can’t seem to appreciate but Nathan had to spend the first quarter of the book rhapsodising about. Oh! Annalise I am so tired of hearing about you.
<Spoiler> She betrays Nathan to the white witches at the end and I’m almost glad because, finally he realises that he’s idolised her, </spoiler>

One unique thing about this book: I have the feeling that the pretty girl will be replaced  as the love interest by the capable gay guy. That makes the protaganist bi-sexual (and a bit confused in the interim). No, I’m not making up weird slash fanfiction plots; <spoiler> Nathan does kiss Gabriel </spoiler>.  I really hope it ends up this way. I adore Gabriel. I loved the Nathan/ Gabriel dynamics when they were friends and I saw those dynamics shift (the dynamics are still as  beautiful) in this book.

“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.”

This was a pretty good middle book for the series. It carried along the plot further, made the relationships more interesting and elaborated on the history of the world.
Obviously, if you haven’t read Half Bad yet, you should start with that one. Also, if you’re wondering if Half Lies is worth springing for, (It’s a short story about Gabriel’s sister. She was a Black Witch who fell in love with a White Witch and when she was captured, the White Witches executed her.)  it definitely is.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

 

 

Mortal Heart: A Book Review

“We are all of us, gods and mortals, made up of many pieces, some of them broken, some of them scarred, but none of them the total sum of who we are.”

Book: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)
Author: Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)

Blurb:

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has.

My thoughts: 

Just finished reading Mortal Heart and I was totally blown away. Like a tornado just ripped through me. Seriously. But then I expected nothing less. Ever since I read the first book in the trilogy, I knew I was going to love all of Robin Lafever’s books. So far, I haven’t been wrong.

Like all us His Fair Assassin fans expected, this book was all about Annith. To be honest, I was a little worried about that. Both Ismae and Sybella constantly mention Annith’s saintliness- her nobility, her kindness and her innocence. In their heads, she sounds so freaking pure and pliant, I thought I was going to hate her on principle. Luckily she’s not and luckily I didn’t.

Growing up in the convent has made her a little more naive than Ismae and Sybella who were well and truly jaded by the outside world but Annith does have a backbone and she’s not boring to read about. Not in the slightest.She’s a completely ordinary daughter of death (or about as ordinary as you can get when you’re a daughter of death) meaning she doesn’t have any special gifts at all. But what she lacks in talent, she makes up for in pure determinaton and a stubbornness that you can’t help but admire. What endeared me most to her was her talent at pretending to be the good little novitiate while eavesdropping on secrets behind closed doors (Come on, who can resist a protagonist who eavesdrops?). Despite her ferocity and skill, she has her embarrassing moments (like a failed seduction, or excessive name-dropping)  and is heartbreakingly childish in her quest for affection from anyone.

This book is more than just a story of Annith’s self discovery; it’s essentially crucial in wrapping up the arc of this trilogy. In the end: this is the end. I just cried a little as I realised that.
It was a bit slow at the beginning- if anything, it has reaffirmed in my mind why I would never go to a covenant: It would be too boring. Let’s face it, if a fictional covenant where kick-ass female assassins trained occasionally felt tedious, I would never make it  in a real and totally ordinary one?

But don’t worry, the story picks up the pace really fast as soon as Annith makes her grand escape. What follows next is a series of action, wild horse rides, crazy stunts, arrow-shooting and warriors (both male and female). 464 pages of medieval fiction and I didn’t even get bored once!

Balthazar was the love interest of the story and well…let’s just say that who he is is surprising. I was less surprised than I was supposed to be because of this alternatively pesky and lovely little things called spoilers (which I try not to give out unless I’m actively trying to annoy someone or they beg me for them).
He’s charming- quite dashing actually and like all the guys in this series, he has a dangerous edge and is very, very good with banter. I might have a tiny crush on him (just a tiny one though- I have a strict policy on historical book boyfriends). This romance was not without it’s challenges and trials, and I was constantly guessing at how it would end.

Comparing it to the other two books in the series, I would say that Dark Triumph is my favourite followed by this one followed by Grave Mercy. The historical politics and court intrigue of the the previous books took a back-seat in Mortal Heart. It was less historical fiction and more fantasy, with more time spent on the truly fascinating Pagan religious beliefs of the time and the Nine Gods which were essential to them.
Another notable difference was that this book felt significantly less dark than the other ones. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was light, but it did deal with less heavy topics compared to the previous ones. I think a huge part of that was because of Annith’s upbringing. Growing up at the covenant wasn’t a cakewalk but at the same time it was nothing compared to regularly being abused by your father and sold off like livestock to a ‘husband’ like Ismae or dealing with violence that was almost off-hand in it’s execution and the threat of incest like Sybella.
Like all of the books in this trilogy, I think you could read this alone, but reading it in order of sequence will make this series so much more enjoyable.

One last thing. Before I I start handing out ratings to the book, I want to hand out a couple of hints to those of you who haven’t read it yet. Not spoilers- just hints.
The title of the book, Mortal Heart probably refers to Balthazar and the cover unlocks the huge role Annith is supposed to play (but we don’t get to find out what that role might be until close to the end). So, chew over that, will you?

My ratings:

Cover: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Characters:5/5
Romance: 5/5
Plotholes:5/5
Ending:5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5 
Other books like this: The Throne of Glass series with it’s assassin and fantasy is evolving book by book to slowly become as awesome as this one.