Jennifer L. Armentrout – Obsidian (Lux #1)

imgObsidian
Author: Jennifer L Armentrout
Series: Lux
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Summary:
Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring… until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something… unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

The only other paranormal romance for YA I’ve read is Twilight, before the movie came out. I didn’t necessarily hate it, but I just remember cringing so many times while reading it. Thankfully, I didn’t cringe as much with this book.
I have to admit, the cover is SUCH a turn off. I’m keeping this in my eReader unless they publish a new cover, because I’m not sure I’d like to see these model’s faces on my bookshelf. Who decided that having this cover was a good marketing strategy? It’s not interesting at all. In fact, all the covers in this series are so unattractive. I’m going to be honest, I do indeed judge a book by its cover many times (I mean this is the worst it can get right? RIGHT?) and the only reason why I’m reading this is because of the glowing reviews. So here goes.

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Nova Ren Suma – The Walls Around Us

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“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.

We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.

Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I honestly didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. I’ve never read any of Nova Ren Suma’s (what a cool name!) other books, but after reading this one I’d definitely be up for one. Her writing is beautiful. I have no eloquent words to describe this, because it’s literally unarguable. Nova Ren Suma uses a lot of rhetoric (mostly repetition, i.e. anaphora, epanalepsis, etc) to convey the mood of the story and add amazing depth. Reading it just sucks you in, whether you want to or not. I would know, since I spent the majority of the time reading this during band rehearsals (whoops).

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Marie Rutkoski – The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)

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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.

I am in love with the cover of the book. Although it would appeal more to the female audience, whoever designed it knew what s/he was doing. (Disappointed that the character never wore that kind of dress in the book though.)

This book was a big hit last year (and miss for some people), so I was always wary of it. I started watching booktubers (people who talk about books on Youtube) and seeing good reviews of it just kind of swayed me. (I don’t know, looking at a person reviewing just gives different vibes than reading it.)

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Victoria Aveyard – Red Queen

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The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

I began the book with no expectations, but as the story progressed, I found myself disliking it more and more.

Let’s start with our main character, Mare. I still cannot get over her name.
Mare /noun/ – the female of a horse or other equine animal.
Every time someone said her name, or a love interest breathed it, all I could think of was a blushing girl horse. Sorry Mare. (hehe)

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Mare is a Red in a society where Silvers dominate over Reds. (Sound familiar? Considering Red Rising had the similar premise of Reds living under the thumbs of the Golds.) While Silvers have cool powers like telepathy, water-bending, and telekinesis (as well as silver blood), Reds have plain ol’ red blood and no powers. They’re the servants, workers, and laborers of the society while Silvers are the elites, nobles, and royalty.

When you have this kind of oppression, there’s always the scent of revolution, eh? That’s exactly what happens – Reds banding together to go against the elitist Silvers.

“‘We are the Scarlet Guard and we stand for the freedom and equality of all man…”

All this stuff was pretty interesting! But then we get to the drama the main character gets into. In the blurb, it explains that Mare (neigh) gets a job at the Silver Palace. Her connections come from a one-chance meeting with the… DUN DUN DUN!! Crown prince of the land – Cal. How surprising.

Mare attends the Queenstrial as a servant, where different Silver females compete in a “pageant” to become the bride of the crown prince. Through a bunch of unlikely events, she ends up showing her really cool powers in front of all the Silvers participating and watching. But hold up a minute – Reds aren’t supposed to have powers? Now the royal family gets involved to cover the mess. And this is where I sigh deeply.

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To save face, the king orders Mare to pretend to be the long-lost daughter of a Silver war hero who grew up like a Red as a means of propaganda. She is also betrothed to the second prince (half-brother of Cal), Maven. I was barfing so hard when the queen was talking about how speciiiaaaaaal Mare was.

“‘You are a miracle, Mare Barrow, an impossibility.'”

What is it with main characters always having a bitchy rival in books?? Why can’t we all be friends? Case point: a supporting character named Evangeline who is betrothed to one of the love interests, Cal.

“A smile ghosts over her face when her eyes fall on me. I don’t miss the feral flash of teeth.” 

Why are their teeth always feral? Other than being a bitch, Evangeline and the other Silver nobles had no depth. Considering the fact that Mare and Evangeline were “rivals” throughout the book, I would’ve liked a little bit more details to know about Evangeline other than being aggressive, bitchy, and violent.

This drama goes on forever. And ever. It was halfway through the book and she’s still talking about liking one brother over the other and how to act like a Silver because “ohhh a Silver would never say sorry.”

It wasn’t until the latter half that things took a turn to an awesome fantastic amazing level. 

When Mare joins the Scarlet Guard? Ohhh, everything gets intense from there on. New loyalties are made while betrayals appear left and right – whether planned or not. From this point, the readers get to understand the two love interests better. Cal – the devoted, soldier who has grown to put a mask on – is pitted against Maven – who is always second, always thought after his older brother, always in the shadow – in not only romance but the political tension happening in the palace. 

Speaking of romance – what romance? More like deceptionbetrayal, and manipulation. While the beginning of the book had a good start to a cheesy, lame romance that would dominate over the revolution plot, the end of the book really makes you think about each character’s motive and how they used other people’s emotions to control them.

“Anyone can betray anyone.”

This is a great quote in terms of the situations in the book, but something that bothered me was how Mare always said it after she thought about betraying someone or gets betrayed. It got so annoying. She said this exact quote seven times in the book! After the third time, I was ready to throw something. We. Get. It. No need to remind us every single freaking time you think about the “b” word.

In the end, Mare’s character develops considerably, especially after she joins the Scarlet Guard. Even though I disliked her at first for being so “spechialll,” she is not a Mary Sue. She fails when she tries things, and more than once. She does not magically learn how to use her powers and magically becomes an expert at it. Sometimes Mare does not know what is wrong, and what is right. Throughout the book, she starts to realize more about Silvers and their apathy towards life, as well as their true fear for a rebel organization that could threaten their existence.

While the beginning of the book set it up for a romance story set during a revolution that would have faded into the background, the second half turned a total 180 and set readers up for a rebellion that would completely change the society. The characters are not nice. By characters, I’m not even talking about the air/hot-headed Evangeline and Silver nobles. They lie. They betray each other. They keep secrets. They manipulate. Everyone is looking out for their own interests, based upon their situation. In the end, it all boils down to what they think is right, until they’re pitted with the question – what really is the right thing to do?

God I was so conflicted when I finished the book. I wanted to hug someone and cry at the second half. The first half made me cringe and cry too, but for a totally different reason. In the end, I’ve decided that I would rather have a book I dislike in the first half and like in the second than the other way around. Because right now, I’m totally up for the second book. Hit me up!

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Rating: 4/5
(I wasn’t going to give this… but the second half was just too enjoyable to rate so low.)

Maggie Hall – The Conspiracy of Us

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A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance–perfect for fans of Ally Carter

Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family–but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she’s falling in love with.

Dang man. I raced through this book in one sitting! It was that good.

We have fast-paced action, quite reminscent of The DaVinci Code (makes sense, as this book is said to be a YA version) and a book holds true to its title: there are conspiracies everywhere. The beginning was a little slow to me, but once things sped up, they sped up. Of course, since this is YA, we have a little more emphasis on romance during all the running away and gathering clues part of the book. Not that I’m complaining. It was really sweet, and I wouldn’t really call it a love triangle. It’s more like one love interest is based on the character’s feelings and the other is based on plot. Does that make sense? Maybe we should start from the beginning.

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Marie Lu – The Young Elites

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I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

Step away, all you cute little heroes and heroines that save the day at the end of the book, cuz we got ourselves a new character in town: the dark, irresistable anti-hero from The Young Elites, Adelina Amouteru! 

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Kelley Powell – The Merit Birds

imgThe Merit Birds
Author: Kelley Powell
Publisher: Dundurn
Release Date: May 26, 2015

Synospsis:
Eighteen-year-old Cam Scott is angry. He’s angry about his absent dad, he’s angry about being angry, and he’s angry that he has had to give up his Ottawa basketball team to follow his mom to her new job in Vientiane, Laos. However, Cam’s anger begins to melt under the Southeast Asian sun as he finds friendship with his neighbour, Somchai, and gradually falls in love with Nok, who teaches him about building merit, or karma, by doing good deeds, such as purchasing caged “merit birds.” Tragedy strikes and Cam finds himself falsely accused of a crime. His freedom depends on a person he’s never met. A person who knows that the only way to restore his merit is to confess. “The Merit Birds” blends action and suspense and humour in a far-off land where things seem so different, yet deep down are so much the same.

I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This book was not what I expected at all.
That can either mean it was betterworse, or in this case, it just stunned me.

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Marketplace in Laos!

 

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Amy Tintera – Rebel (Reboot #2)

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Wren Connolly thought she’d left her human side behind when she dies five years ago and came back 178 minutes later as a Reboot. With her new abilities of strength, speed, and healing—along with a lack of emotions—Wren 178 became the perfect soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation). Then Callum 22 came along and changed everything.

Now that they’ve both escaped, they’re ready to start a new life in peace on the Reboot reservation. But Micah 163, the Reboot running the reservation, has darker plans in mind: to wipe out the humans. All of them. Micah has been building a Reboot army for years and is now ready to launch his attack on the cities. Callum wants to stick around and protect the humans. Wren wants nothing more than to leave all the fighting behind them.

With Micah on one side, HARC on the other, and Wren and Callum at odds in the middle, there’s only one option left…

It’s time for Reboots to become rebels.

This book was a great conclusion to the Reboot series! Amy Tintera really packed a solid debut, and I’ll definitely be looking out for her new books soon.

In Reboot, we’re introduced to a world where kids are able to be “Rebooted” with a stronger, faster body. The longer it takes for you to Reboot, the more less human you are (or so it’s said). Our main character Wren stayed dead for 178 minutes before Rebooting, while Callum was only dead for 22 minutes. This may seem like they are totally different, but despite the fact, they end up together and escape the facility that contained them with a bunch of other Reboots. However, at the Reboot reservation center where they end up in, things aren’t what they seem.

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Rainbow Rowell – Eleanor and Park

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Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

This book is going to be a movie and I cannot wait.

I got the Exclusive Collector’s Edition of this book from B&N, and the fan art in the inner cover is so beautiful!! Woo lookee here:

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Tim Tharp – The Spectacular Now

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This National Book Award Finalist is now a major motion picture — one of the most buzzed-about films at Sundance 2013, starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller.

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

I watched the movie with Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, but didn’t know that it was a book until we decided to read it for book club. In regards to book vs. movie, the movie certainly kept the important parts of the book – some were even direct quotes. However, the movie has an ending that I would say… left people more satisfied. The ending of the book was not bad, it just didn’t go the way people would have expected it. I would have liked it to have gone another way, but there’s no denying that it was hands-down realistic.

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