Review: Onyx-Jennifer L. Armentrout

5/5 Stars

Onyx (Lux, #2)-Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Holy hell, where do I even begin? It’s not often that a sequel trumps the first book in a series but seriously, I started reading this book last night as I was trying to fall asleep and at 4am was so disappointed because I had 9am class and ALL I wanted to do was finish this book. I contemplated pulling an all-nighter, and for someone who spends countless days only staying awake to research massive papers, this was far too tempting.

As you guys know, this semester is gruesomely, ridiculously hard, and just so much research I don’t even have time to work on this blog, which, if you guys can’t tell, is like therapy for me. I love books and love sharing my thoughts with you. In light of my recent crises, i.e. 3, 20 (min) page research papers and 2 long presentations are all due this month. The end of the semester is drawing near, and I wish time would slow the hell down a little so I could get everything done. This is my notice of temporary blog hiatus until December when I’ll have a bunch of new releases, cover reveals, and blog tour posts for you but as of right now, I’m so stressed I’m barely coherent. When I was applying for grad school, a Huffington Post article came out about the extremely high rate of depression in grad students. TOTALLY see why. I took 18 credits a semester as an undergrad and compared to my work now, that was a breeze.

This may well be my second to last blog post this month, and for that I’m sorry but know that I would much rather be on here chatting with you wonderful readers and kindred spirits than trekking through libraries with a pounding headache, and back pain from being hunched over taking notes for hours on end. IT SUCKS. Coffee is my savior and sanity right now. Back to the review and I’ll get back to blogging soon. Don’t worry. I’ll miss you guys.

There was something soul-burningly beautiful about being on the brink of losing control, tumbling over into the unknown, and I wanted to fall and never resurface.

***

Words were the most powerful tool. Simple and so often underestimated. They could heal. They could destroy.

***

“Can you turn off the light?” Darkness descended without him moving. Several moments passed. “That’s a handy ability.” “It is.” My eyes focused on the pale light peeking through the curtains. “Maybe one day I can be just as lazy as you and turn off the lights without moving.” “That’s something to aspire to.” I relaxed a fraction of an inch and smiled. “God, you’re so modest.” “Modesty is for saints and losers. I’m neither.”

***

Daemon kissed like he was a man starving for water, taking long, breathless drafts. His teeth caught my lower lip when he pulled away, only to come back for more. A heady mix of emotions warred inside me. I didn’t want this, because it was just the connection between us. I kept telling myself that, even as I slid my hands up his chest and circled them around his neck . When his hands inched under my shirt, it was as though he reached deep inside me, warming every cell, filling every dark space within me with the heat from his skin.

Touching him, kissing him, was like having a fever all over again. I was on fire. My body burned. The world burned. Sparks flew. Against his mouth, I moaned. 

Plot from Goodreads: 

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 are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we’re linked, I’m a goner. So is 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…

PROS:

  • CHEMISTRY! The sexual tension is all-consuming, reckless, addictive. You will want to punch Daemon in the face several times but EVERY SINGLE SECOND of his pushy, occasionally obnoxious behavior is worth the sexy.
  • Daemon and Katy are magnetic, their sarcastic, passionately angsty banter is dialogue to PERFECTION. If you’re an aspiring writer and you’re having trouble, read this book, check out the natural, witty flirtation mixed with genuine adoration, it’s fantastic.
  • The plot. If you thought the first book was action-packed you are in for quite a ride. The many plot twists and dangers are enough to put anyone on the edge. It’s thrilling, adrenaline-filled, and just all around an exciting read.
  • Katy’s character goes through a marvelous transformation. Although with Daemon she’s always been pushy, domineering, and generally stuck up for herself, this time around she is a powerhouse heroine with skills to match. Katy has finally discovered her strength and is not afraid to use it. She goes out of her way to protect those she loves, putting her life on the line without a second thought. She is fierce!
  • There are many blush-worthy, steamy scenes that will have you consumed, deep in the book oblivious to the outside world. The word choice, the general description is addictive.
  • Surprise after surprise after devastating, crushing surprise, this book will leave you mouth agape, struggling to process some of the insane events.
  • The feels. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll sigh, you’ll scream in frustration. It’s an emotional rollercoaster.

CONS:

  • Blake. Blake is a controlling, insidious, bland flake. He comes into the story, bursting with masculine wiles and charm eager to sweep Katy off her feet, and is just BORING. Up until the big revelation his character is pretty much a jerk on an ego-trip fighting with Daemon for Katy.

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strange and familiar 5.30

Pleasant reading,

-BB

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Friday Findings and Upcoming Reviews

Hi everyone,

I missed the mid-week update but decided to write one today to let y’all know what’s going on in my life and in the YA world.

I have several upcoming reviews for you guys, I’m not exactly sure when they will be out but keep an eye out for them.

Here’s what’s in store for you in the next week or so:

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Dare-You-To

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Also, I have been toying with the idea of starting a new blog specifically for romance books, what do you guys think?

In other news:

Pleasant reading,

-BB

Review: Asylum-Madeleine Roux

2.5/5 Stars

Asylum-Madeleine Roux

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I picked up Asylum because I am a sucker for horror films. I absolutely love creepy, psych ward, haunted, exorcism, Paranormal Activity type films. I saw this cover and immediately grabbed it and held on for dear life. I thought FINALLY!!! horror of my specific preference has come to YA and WITH PICTURES. It’s taken me a while to write this review, first because I am swamped with research papers but the true reason is that I was so disappointed. This is one of those books that has a fantastic concept, the kind that has you hanging on to your seat, sleeping with the lights on, insomnia inducing terror right at your fingertips, and it simply failed to deliver.

Plot: Dan Crawford is thrilled to be attending the New Hampshire College Prep summer program. He has high hopes to finally meet some people who are as enthusiastic about learning, and escaping the stereotypical labels of high school as he is. Dan loves research, he’s fascinated by history, and plans to take this prep program for all it’s worth. Dan is nervous about making friends, and is pleasantly surprised that as soon as he sets foot of the campus he falls in with a beautiful girl named Abby, and her new gay BFF Jordan. Things are looking up, and it seems like Dan will get his dream summer after all, and maybe even go on a date, when he learns that the New Hampshire College dorms are in an old sanitarium that housed the criminally insane. As Dan and his friends dig deeper, they uncover the horrific past of the asylum, gruesome, chilling tales of experimental procedures, serial killers, and operating theater performances on children. Breaking into a forbidden office, Dan and his friends discover the files of the former patients, and haunting photographs that suggest a darker past hidden within the walls of their dorms. Strange and disturbing things start to happen, obsession becomes sinister, and Dan scrambles to decode the puzzling psyche of the former warden who looks an awful lot like him. Murder, possession, ghosts, and events that threaten to drive even the most sane out of their minds, Asylum digs into a past that is so terrifying that people would rather demolish the building than uncover the truth.

Here is the Goodreads blurb:

Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux’s teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

PROS:

  • The photographs are ominous, and startling in the most chillingly graphic way. The black and white photos depict patients with dead, haunted eyes, doctors and nurses with creepy smiles, and jarring poses that will have you guessing at the secrets hidden behind those expressions. Specs of blood, handprints, bare bulbs in cellar-like padded rooms with manacles, and spotted gurney’s suggest a tortured, shadowed existence. Surgical instruments stained with blood, healed over, jagged wounds point to procedures too backwards, and painful to comprehend. These pictures are things of nightmares, loss, and macabre.
  • The plot twist was unexpected, and jilting.
  • Stories of the patients in the sanitarium were truly eerie, and a touch menacing. The diary entries, ghoulish notes, and crazed quotes made for a thrilling build up that will have you second-guessing everything.

CONS:

  • While the story attempted to use to the pictures as a supplement or even explanation of plot elements, the descriptions, actions, and events do not do the photos justice. What is left unsaid is far more terrifying.
  • Slow, and hard to get into.
  • Dan is boring. He’s completely devoid of any interesting, memorable characteristics except for his dwindling sanity.
  • Nearly all of the characters were undeveloped, the dialogue was stilted, forced, and a little unrealistic. The sheer anger, borderline rage that suddenly took over was so weird that it was unbelievable, and felt unnecessary. The conflicts between the three main characters were random, and complete over reactions. It seems that the author was trying to make these conflicts so out of place that they would be associated with the supernatural, ghostly elements of the plot but it just didn’t quite get to that point.

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Happy reading,

-BB

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown-Holly Black

4.5/5 Stars

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown-Holly Black

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They ran through the night together in a darkling fairy tale of blood and forests and snow, of girls with raven’s wing hair and rose-red lips and sharp teeth as white as milk.

***

He kissed her ferociously, savagely, their lips sliding together with bruising fervor. The pain in her tongue became a distant throbbing. Her fingers dug into the muscles of his back. their bodies pressed so close that he must have felt every hitch of her breath, every shuddering beat of her heart. And as scared of him as she had been, right then she was more frightened of herself. 

*** 

Every night, in every Coldtown, people die. People are fragile. They die of mistakes, of overdoses, of sickness. But mostly they die of Death.

Death drinks down their warmth until their veins are dry. Death forgets restraint. The older vampires might grow dusty and careful, but those freshly made want to glut themselves and sometimes, foolishly, they give in to Death and do. 

Plot: Tana wakes up from a rough night of partying to find herself in a bathtub, missing her shoes. She has no clue what happened last night or how many people noticed her black out wasted in the bathtub behind the curtain. Noticing the sunlight streaming through the window and absolute silence, she figures everyone must still be asleep. Stumbling from the bathroom she is met with slaughter. Torn throats, shredded skin, puddles of blood, and cold, lifeless bodies lay strewn across the house. Tana is terrified, bordering on hysteria, she knew these people, they were her classmates, her friends. Ever since the Coldtowns were established after the vampires have stepped out of the closet, attacks on houses had been rare. Someone must have left a window open and rogue vampires climbed in, hungry and savage. Knowing what she does about vampires, she is aware that they could be slumbering in the house, waiting for darkness, so she must be absolutely quiet, grab her stuff, and get out before the sun sets. Cautiously stepping into the shadowed room where she expects her coat to be, she is shocked to find her ex, Aiden,  strapped to the bed in some sort of weird bondage, and a vampire, chained up against the wall. Baffled, Tana doesn’t know what to make of the situation but knows that she can’t leave Aiden for vampire food no matter how much of a jerk he was to her. As she goes to untie him, he launches, teeth out, jonesing for blood. He’s been bitten, he’s cold. Those who have been bitten by vampires suffer an infection in the blood that only kills them and makes them a vampire when they drink human blood. If they fight the cold for 88 days then the infection will pass and they’ll stay human. Most don’t make it that long. As the sun starts to slant in the sky, Tana is flooded with desperate anxiety, she needs to save Aiden but hears the vampires starting to rise. Enlisting the help of the vampire, Tana gets Aiden out the door and they embark on a journey of love, lust, loss, anger, betrayal, and revenge to Coldtown.

This is the Goodreads summary:

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

PROS:

  • Dark, twisted, and acerbic humor that is fueled by macabre ingenuity.
  • The descriptions are gory, meticulous, and written with such a poetic, candid touch that you’ll feel simultaneously removed from the carnage yet actively participate as each bloody detail is revealed. The shock, disbelief, and sheer heart-ponding terror will leave you feeling breathless as the wickedly gruesome slaughter, feedings, and fights reach their climax.
  • The danger, excitement, and general feeling of recklessness that comes along with taking risks, taunting death, and playing into the hands of cold-blooded killers will have you turning pages, consumed by hunger to know more.
  • Gavriel is a character in the vein of Anne Rice, with such a rich, complex, and vibrant history that is just exotic and corrupt enough to pull you in and have you begging for more. On top of that, he’s one of the most sexy vampires EVER. The kissing scene. Holy hell, the heat radiating off the page is enough to send even the more timid into overload mode. It’s tantalizing, dark, bloody, and just as wickedly sinister as you’d expect from a vampire-human make out. For this scene alone, I would have given this book at least 4 stars. Deeply impressed by the chemistry, the passion, and overall eroticism in a book that is not blatantly sexual. It sneaks up on you, surprising and raw.
  • Holly Black never ceases to amaze me. Somehow she takes overdone folklore and fantasy, gives it so much depth and emotion that it seems like an entirely new story.

CONS:

  • When I started reading this, I was completely and utterly appalled and disgusted with Tana. I really strongly disliked her. Mainly, Tana seemed like a pushover, someone with so little respect for herself that she put up with an open relationship that was highly masochistic, and very unhealthy, and didn’t care enough about herself and what it was doing to her to get out. Tana just wasn’t a character I could get behind, she wasn’t strong, she was weak-minded, insecure, and just not conflicted enough within her situation. That being said, on first impression, Tana was so not a heroine, hell, she was closer to a secondary character. As more and more of her backstory is revealed, her personality starts to make sense but some of her actions don’t match up. It’s only until later in the plot, somewhere around 80% through at least when the lightbulb goes off. Tana’s actions, her bravery, her unswerving devotion to morality, her mortality, and making sacrifices for the greater good are some of the most developed, inspiring signs of character growth that I’ve seen. As the story moves forward, Tana slowly recognizes her own self-worth, she’s able to embrace her recklessness and use it to save herself from dire situations, solve seemingly impossible problems, and face off against some of the most maliciously evil villains in the book. Tana is a badass of epic proportions. She puts others first, and brutally fights for her life, using ingenuity, calculation, and sheer brilliance to cheat Death time and time again. If you’re like me, give Tana some time, get to know her, and maybe you’ll be surprised by what a fantastically courageous heroine she turns out to be.

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Happy reading,

-BB