on Nov 28, 2014
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Genre(s): Young Adult / Contemporary Fiction

Blurb: If she let herself, she'd drown in a world of pain..

Review: Willow is a touching and unique tale of a young womans struggle with self-injury. 

From the very first page the reader is drawn into the world of Willow, it is a world filled with shame, suffering, guilt, and pain. Willow lives with an unfathomable weight on her shoulders, and her extreme answer to her heartache is to cut herself. My heart bleed for this incredibly authentic character. Her journey felt real, and served as a reminder that there are many who face this problem in reality. 

The book is written in third person limited, a point of view I don't usually care for, but which greatly compliments the story and offers a moving look at Willows everyday pains. This choice of POV prevents the reader from feeling bored and gives a more objective look at Willow's life. 

Guy is a stand out young adult male lead. He is quiet, thoughtful, far from seeming perfect or popular. His quickly becomes a steady confidant and friend for Willow. He is there with her as she reveals the reasons behind her actions, and as she overcomes the lure of the razor blade and pulls herself up from the bottom. I greatly admired the progression of Guy and Willow's relationship. It was interesting to see them start as friends and slowly fall in love. As Willow falls in love with Guy she opens up to the many emotions that she has been blocking since her parents death, her difficulty is evident as she comes to grips with her changed reality, finally admitting that her parents are gone and her world will never be the same.  

Throughout the book Willow has a difficult relationship with her brother, David. This wasn't always the case, and only changed when their parents died. Ever since then they have been stuck in silence or on occasion stilted, awkward short conversations. The resolution between them was truly beautiful and revealed the pain that they both were feeling, other truths that went previously unspoken and how much they both really loved each other. 

Not since Thirteen Reasons Why have I read a book in which a teens emotional distress was so profoundly written. While I feel I could write more on this story, I'll save the spoilers for future readers to discover for themselves. 

About the Author: Julia Hoban is a woman of many talents; She writes, designs her own clothes and handbags, and attended graduate school for physics and philosophy. She lives with her husband in New York City, and is working on her next novel (and outfit). 

Interested in this book? Find it online! 


A Message from the Reviewer: 
Hello, everyone. I greatly enjoyed Willow and I hope my review was enjoyed as well.
However, there are friends, family, coworkers, even strangers on the bus who are living every day with a reality far too similar to Willow's. If you are struggling with self-injury or know someone who is, I encourage you to check out TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS - this non-profit movement is dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
You were created to love and be loved! <3

on Nov 16, 2014
Blurb: She won't rest until she's sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. But that's all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone. 

Her father was right. The monsters are real. 

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn't careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies. \

Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal / Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Review: First off, Gena Showalter gets major points for the sheer awesomeness of that title. Just had to put that out there. 

Alice is the type of MC you will love instantly. She is humble, truthful, resilient, and rises to overcome whatever obstacles are in her path. The author gives us wonderful insight into the emotions and mindset of Alice. The reader feels every occurance as Alice does, and will be rooting for her throughout the entire novel. Go, Alice, Go,

On a personal note I found it very refreshing to read a teen/young adult who respects their parents, grandparents, etc. I have no problem with teens being independent but the contempt for parents and elders that permeates Young Adult fiction is something very disappointing in my eyes. It's good to see Alice exhibiting behavior that is based on lessons her parents taught her. Even though she believes they are gone, she loves her parents and hopes to one day reunite with them. 

There is only one way to describe Alices best friend Kat, and that is - unforgettable. I was unsure about her at first, fearful that she would be nothing more than one of the "Alice Cullen" clones that have run rampant in Young Adult fiction since the rise of Twilight. But I soon found myself enjoying her confident I-just-don't-care attitude. She acts cool and collected, but never with malice. Her brash attitude greatly compliments Alices quiet, introspective personality. In many way she felt like the Mad Hatter. *wink* Add to all this the fact that she was hilarious! Also, I now ship Kat+Frosty. Forever.

Now on to Cole. Oh, handsome, infuriating bad boy Cole.  Actually what I really loved about Cole was that he wasn't a bad guy. He (and his friends) fight zombies without praise or reward. Because of this they end up appearing at school and such with scraps and bruises, leading others to think they are just crazy, rebellious teens in a gang. Whether from pride or humility they don't seem to bother with what teachers and students think about their injuries or strange behavior. Cole is arrogant, a player, but ultimately you'll love him because of how much he loves Alice. I love these two together and they make an excellent team. Team Cole represent! 

If you're like me and find yourself reticent to join in the recent wave of zombie literature. I reluctantly admit to having several sleepless nights after watching World War Z. I encourage you to not let that keep you from reading this book. Showalter presents a very fresh take on zombies, her take on the creatures reveals an infected spirit longing to feed and spread its disease, and a good-vs-evil battle that is far more heroic than a cheap zombie horror flick could ever hope to be. 

Finally, those of us wondering what happened to the moral center of many Young Adult novels in recent years, can be assured that this novel remains firmly on the side of good and never wavers. Alice and her companions continually do the right thing no matter how hard that is. Readers will be wishing to hop in this story and join the fight along side them. 

I started and finished this book all in one day, which is proof enough of just how amazing it is! I tip my invisible hat to Gena Showalters immense talent. 

About the Reviewer: M. A. Bronson is a bookworm, book reviewer, and aspiring author. Since 2012, she has been reviewing indie and traditionally published books at runawaypen.com. She spends her time reading, drinking tea, writing, and ardently shipping RumBelle. M lives in Upstate New York and works at a library, happily surrounded by thousands of stories. Connect with her on twitter and instagram @theprincessmab