Review: Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Onyx
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Lux #2
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Paranormal Romance
Publication date: August 14 2012
by Entangled Teen
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★★

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Being connected to Daemon Black sucks...

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon's determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. so I've sworn him off, even though he's running more hot than cold these days. But we've got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town...

The Department of Defense is here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I'm a goner. So if he. And there's this new boy in school who's got a secret of his own. He knows what's happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes...

I've seen someone who shouldn't be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he's never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them - from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies...
Since I DNF’d the book that I read before reading Onyx, I still had Obsidian fresh in my head and was more than eager to delve into more hot aliens. Well, more Daemon to be specific, but there’s nothing wrong with that, right? I was really hoping that the main body of the story wouldn’t take too long to get into as it did with Obsidian but other than that one little hope, I was expecting awesomeness. And I got that awesomeness to the point that I liked Onyx just a little bit more than Obsidian.

Onyx starts a couple of days after where Obsidian left off, so there isn’t a lengthy absence of action that needs to be explained (one of my biggest pet peeves ever). After being sick and recovering unusually fast, Katy notices something weird happening to her. She doesn’t find out what exactly it is that is happening to her until new boy Blake arrives in town. From there, a lot of sexual tension and even action follows. Onyx’s story is definitely one of the major reasons why I liked it more than Obsidian. The story doesn’t take too long to get into and I was hooked from pretty much the first page. There wasn’t a single moment that I found boring; every part of the book was exciting, even the slower parts. For me, Onyx was one of those books that I just didn’t want to end. I got the last page and just didn’t know what to do with my life (I’m unable to buy Opal as of right now). I loved how there was a good mixture of action and steamy sexual tension in Onyx, I haven’t read anything so steamy and tense at the same time since I read Sweet Evil, and since I’m not an expert in romances or anything like that, it hit me like a ton of bricks since I really didn’t expect it.

I thought that the characters of this series couldn’t get any better and boy was I wrong. I love how Katy becomes stronger in terms of who she is as a person as she story progresses and I like her even more than I did before since she just kept getting better and better as the story progressed. Whenever Daemon had chewed her out she didn’t sit around like a little lovesick puppy, she would get up off her butt and do something that would put her mind at ease, which is something I just love seeing girls doing (seriously, there is nothing I hate more than when a girl goes near-comatose over some boy). Daemon, on the other hand, is still a dick but that doesn’t really matter because he now has a reason to. It’s better for a boy to have a reason as to why he acts the way he does than for him to do it for no reason whatsoever. In Onyx, it becomes clear that Daemon is a dick because he cares about Katy, which, I am not ashamed to admit, made me majorly swoon to the point that I wished that I were Katy, the lucky thing. Even though I’ve never been in a real-life relationship (or had anything to do with boys at all), I am ready to admit that fictional boys are better than real boys. Well, to an extent since there are some fictional boys that aren’t better than real ones. Take Blake, for example. I had to completely agree with Daemon as I had a bad feeling about the dude when he was hanging around with Katy too. Dude didn’t seem right and then once everything was revealed about Blake, I was really impressed with how well-concealed and constructed he was. There’s nothing I like more than a good deception.

I said in my review of Obsidian that I love the voice that Armentrout gave Katy and in Onyx, I loved the narration and writing style even more. Everything just seemed a lot more if that makes sense. More humour, more suspense, more sexual tension and I just loved every bit of it. More is definitely more when it comes to books. Throughout the book, there is a sort of feeling of terror surrounding the DOD since even though they’re not there; you just know that they’re doing something malicious without anyone knowing it. Up until the DOD actually does make a physical appearance, they feel like a malicious force that is indirectly messing with the characters which has a more terrifying effect than if they were physically there all the time since sometimes things that you can’t see are scarier than things that you can.

In my experience with pretty much everything, the sequel is usually not as good as the first one. That’s not the case with Onyx. I really did like this book more than Obsidian, everything was just awesome. I got a lot more of a lot of things: more action, more suspense, more sexual tension and, of course, more Daemon who I am growing to love more and more. I’d said in my review of Obsidian that it was the best book that I’d read so far. Onyx has taken that title away and given it to itself thanks to its steamy-ness and action, which is a better combination than it sounds. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to wait for money so that I can buy Opal.

DNF Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed
Ally Condie
Series: Matched #2
Genre: YA Dystopian
Publication date: November 1 2011
by Penguin Teen
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: DNF

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The Society chooses everything.
The books you read.
The music you listen to.
The person you love.

Yet for Cassia the rules have changed. Ky has been taken and she will sacrifice everything to find him.

And when Cassia discovers Ky has escaped to the wild frontiers beyong the Society there is hope.

But on the edge of society nothing is as it seems...

A rebellion is rising.

And a tangles web of lies and double-crosses could destroy everything.
Because I believe that everyone and everything deserves a second chance, I decided to give the Matched series a second chance by reading Crossed in the hopes that it would be better than the first book. I gave Matched two stars so to me, that meant that it wasn't bad enough for me to abandon the series altogether, which is what I really should have done. I honestly didn’t think that it could have gotten any worse.

I got over a quarter of the way through Crossed before putting it down forever. My biggest problem with this book is that what I read was just boring. Nothing happened! To add to the fact that very little happened; we are introduced to alternate chapters that are told from Ky’s point of view, which I just didn’t care for them. Those chapters just didn’t add anything more to the plot and I asked myself this at one point: “Ky’s practically gone missing and Cassia is trying to find him. Why is he narrating about what he’s doing?” I usually figure that when a person is to be found by others, they’re supposed to be a bit of a mystery. I would rather have known exclusively what Cassia was getting up to (if she was getting up to anything at all).

I wasn’t too fond of Cassia in Matched, but I just didn’t like her in Crossed. I don’t think her decisions are very good since it seemed very likely to me that she would be killed (she obviously isn’t killed since there is yet another book in this series). If Cassia had done everything that I wanted her to do (be with Xander and stay in the Society where it is at least somewhat exciting), the first book would have been over very quickly. You know what they say, curiosity killed the cat. As for Ky, I just didn’t care for him in this book. His narration fell flat for me and just seemed unnecessary to the plot. I also found that his narrative voice is very similar to Cassia’s so something I would start a new chapter thinking that I was still reading from Cassia’s POV. Simply marking who the narrator of the chapter won’t do anything for me if the POVs don’t have different voices.

I don’t really care for poetry and unfortunately for me, poetry cropped up a lot more than I expected. There’s obviously Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas and Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson that are referenced to in the story, but on top of that, Cassia is writing her own poem. The quarter that I read felt like a bit of a poetry bombardment at times and I just wanted it to stop since I have never cared for poetry and I probably never will.

Twelve chapters into Crossed I began to doubt my reasons for giving this series a second chance. I tried to go further into the book but I just couldn’t take much more of nothing happening. If something did happen that I missed, it was probably because I was blinded by boredom. On the basis of nothing happening, this book unfortunately gets a big fat DNF from me.

Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Obsidian
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Lux #1
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Paranormal Romance
Publication date:May 8th 2012
by Entangled Teen
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

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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 and 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.
I don’t usually tend to pay attention to hype, so when I saw so many people raving about Obsidian, I didn't pay much attention. My interest wasn't fully grabbed when I read a review to see what all of the fuss was about. What was it that grabbed my attention? Aliens. If there are aliens in a book, I will read it without knowing what the story is. So many of reviews of Obsidian (including one on the book itself) told me that I wouldn’t be disappointed, and oh how I wasn't!

Obsidian introduces us to Katy, who has recently moved to West Virginia with her mum following the death of her dad three years ago. Katy then strikes up a friendship with the extraordinarily beautiful Dee and is teased by her hot jerk of a twin brother Daemon who both live next door. When Katy is nearly hit by a truck, she learns what it is that makes the twins so extraordinary: they are Luxen, alien beings composed of light energy. While I enjoyed the book’s story, I only had one major problem: the main part of the story takes a bit too long to get to. We don’t find out what Daemon and Dee are until chapter 15, which is about halfway through. The story moves a bit slowly before that, with a lot of establishing going on. Thankfully, that is the only issue that I had with the story.

While the majority of Obsidian’s characters a likable, it took me a while to get used to some of them, specifically Daemon. As soon as Daemon was introduced, I, like most people, thought he was pretty hot. Until he opened his mouth, that is. Up until he started being nicer, he only had his looks going for him. If a hot boy is a total dick, his hotness decreases by 50%/ Once Daemon started being nicer I started to swoon over him and want him all to myself. Sexy alien who starts to be nice? Yes please!

I really liked Katy a lot. She’s probably one of the best narrators that I've read in a YA book. I liked to see how she developed as the story progressed, going from being a bit of a pushover to being more assertive, thanks to nasty bitchy Ash and a plate of spaghetti. One of the things that I like the most about Katy is that although she does become more assertive and does have quite a few squabbles with Daemon, she is generally a good person. Even though she knows that being friends with Dee is potentially going to get her killed, she continues to be her friend, because she values her friendship.

I thought that the small-town West Virginian setting is particularly fitting for a book about aliens, since aliens never really appear in places that are densely populated (they’re far too smart to do that!). I prefer small-town settings, like we see in Obsidian, to city settings because they can really shape a character’s attitudes towards things or how they’re treated by others, like when Dee is given odd looks from a woman in the grocery store.

As I said earlier, I really liked Katy’s narration; Armentrout has given her a great voice that I enjoyed reading. The ways in which things were described was very clear and was even humorous at times. I think the narration made Katy seem more relatable since she sounded like teenage girls tend to sound, rather than an adult trying to sound like a teenager, which I really like to see.

I really, really enjoyed this book. The year is not even a quarter of the way through and Obsidian is already one of the best books I've read this year. It took me a while to get into the book, but once I did I enjoyed every page and I am very glad that my opinion of Daemon changed as the book progressed! I wouldn’t have enjoyed the book as much if my opinion of him stayed the same. I am very much looking forward to reading Onyx, the next book in the series!

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Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

ACTIVITY: Write a letter to your favorite character. Rant, rave or gush…just pretend like they are real and you just want to let them know a "few things".

Dear Tally Youngblood,

As awesome as I think you are, you really should have taken both of those pills. If you did, Zane would still be alive. He'd be a total bubble-headed pretty, but he'd be alive. But then again, I'm biased because I like Zane more than David. He had nice hair. That is all.

Sincerely,
Louise.

Happy Friday!

Review: Lincoln (2013)

Lincoln
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.
Based on: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Genre: Period Drama / Biopic
Released: January 25 2013 (UK)
by 20th Century Fox Pictures
Running time: 150 mins (2 hr, 30 mins)
Cert: 12 (BBFC) PG-13 (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★★+

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In 1865, as the American Civil War winds inexorably toward conclusion, U.S. president Abraham Lincoln endeavours to achieve passage of the landmark Constitutional Amendment which will forever ban slavery from the United States. However, his task is a race against time, for peace may come at any time, and if it comes before the Amendment is passed, the returning Southern States will stop it before it can become law. Lincoln must, by almost any means possible, obtain enough votes from a recalcitrant Congress before peace arrives and it is too late. Yet the President is torn, as an early peace would save thousands of lives. As the nation confronts its conscience over the freedom of its entire population, Lincoln faces his own crisis of confidence - end slavery or end the war.
Prior to watching Lincoln, I had very little knowledge of American history. That can mainly be attributed to the fact that I am not American and in our British schools, we learn history about Britain (mainly England). The only US history I knew of prior to watching the film was the Civil Rights Movement (which included a little bit of the Civil War) and I knew some things about George Washington that I wasn't taught in school (his ancestral home is in the town over from me, and Washington D.C. is a sister city to where I live). But that aside, I have always taken an interest in Abraham Lincoln and what he did for America so as soon as I heard of this film I wanted to see it. As soon as I learnt that Steven Freaking Spielberg is the director, I became rabid and pestered my Dad for weeks to come see it with me (I ended up going with my mum instead and she fell asleep since it was pretty late at night). At the beginning of our screening, there was something wrong with the screen: the projector was placed a bit too far forward and had to be moved back to fill up the entire screen. To do so, the projectionist had to move the machine backwards but also tilted it up at the same time. It was somewhat amusing to see the opening credits travel up to the ceiling and then the film appeared on the full screen along with a "sorry everyone!" from the projectionist. Oh dear.

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood
Kendare Blake
Series: Anna #1
Genre: YA Horror
Publication date: August 30 2011
by Tor Teen
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★★

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Cas Lowood is no ordinary guy - 
he hunts dead people.

People like Anna. Anna Dressed in Blood. A beautiful, muderous ghost entangled in curses and rage. Cas knows he must destroy her, but as her tragic past is revealed, he starts to understand why Anna has killed everyone who's ever dared to enter her spooky home.

Everyone, that is, except Cas...

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story.
I've never really been a fan of ghost stories, mainly because I scare very easily. Before reading Anna Dressed in Blood, the only ghost books that I'd read and enjoyed were the books in Meg Cabot's Mediator series which aren't really scary. However, I did see reviews on this book going around quite some time ago now (I'm incredibly late with this >.<) and I decided to give it a try and see what it's all about. With the word 'blood' in the title, I was expecting a fair bit of the red stuff itself and boy did I get that.

Anna tells of Cas (full name Theseus Cassio Lowood), a ghost hunter who travels around with his Wiccan mother searching for ghosts to kill. After his recent success, Cas and his mother move to a new town in Ontario in order to kill a ghost named Anna Korlov, a.k.a Anna Dressed in Blood. Armed with his father's athame, Cas finds that his mission will be more difficult than he expected when he witnesses Anna's power. I absolutely loved the story of the book; it is probably the most unique horror story I have ever read. All the way through the book, I was kept interested and wanting to turn the page to find out what would happen next. My definite favourite moment of the book is when we first see Anna's power and she performs a Mortal Kombat-esque fatality on Mike, one of the meaner kids in town (click for video, but not advised for the faint of heart). Seriously, my mind said 'Anna wins. Flawless Victory. FATALITY!' when it happened. I loved the way that the story was told; the amount of tense moments almost left me with no fingernails. The scary moments of this book are scary.

What I liked the most about Anna is the characters, especially Cas. I really enjoyed reading from his perspective due to his witty voice that provides both atmosphere and humour to the appropriate moments. I don't think the book would necessarily be the same if Cas wasn't the narrator and his narration is what I think makes the book very unique. I don't think I've read many YA books with male narrators, but I think I obviously need to seek out some more since this was a nice change from having a female narrator or an omniscient one. All of the characters of Anna are very well-constructed and believable, which made reading even more enjoyable. I think if I had to pick one specific thing about the characters that I liked is that they're not clich├ęd in anyway at all, even if they initially seem like they are, they quickly turn around and show you that they're not.

I could bang on and on about how unique this book is, but I'll tell you what's really unique to me: before reading Anna, I had never read a book that was set in Canada. Not a single one. Not a YA book, nor an adult book. Most of the books that I have read are set in either the US or England so it was an incredibly nice change to read a book set in a different country to most YA books. I loved the descriptions of Thunder Bay and especially of Anna's house. The descriptions really set up the creepy atmosphere that occurs when the characters enter the house and I could almost feel how haunted the house was through the description.

Holy fudgecicles, this book was awesome. I don't think there is anything more I can say other than that. I loved every second of this book and I really didn't want to put it down at all. Unfortunately for little old me sitting here in the UK, I have to wait until next month for the second book in the series but I am eagerly anticipating it!

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Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: What is the first thing you would do if you woke up to find yourself in your favourite book?

This ones tough since I have a few favourites! I think if I were in Uglies, I would spend the day hoverboarding around Uglyville and maybe even sneak into New Pretty Town like Tally did when she wanted to find Peris.

If I were in Forgotten, I would probably seek out London and then help her remember everything that happened the day before; because I'm a nice person and all that ^_^

Happy Friday!