Review: Obsession by Jennifer L. Armentrout

ObsessionTitle: Obsession
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: standalone, spinn-off from the Lux series
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance/ sci-fi
Links:

Blurb:
This is a stand alone novel that is an adult spin-off of the Lux Series You do not need to read a Lux book to read Obsession and vice versa.

He’s arrogant, domineering, and… To. Die. For.

Hunter is a ruthless killer. And the Department of Defense has him firmly in their grasp, which usually doesn’t chafe too badly because he gets to kill bad guys. Most of the time he enjoys his job. That is, until he’s saddled with something he’s never had to do before: protect a human from his mortal enemy.

Serena Cross didn’t believe her best friend when she claimed to have seen the son of a powerful senator turn into something… unnatural. Who would? But then she witnesses her friend’s murder at the hands of what can only be an alien, thrusting her into a world that will kill to protect their secret.

Hunter stirs Serena’s temper and her lust despite their differences. Soon he’s doing the unthinkable—breaking the rules he’s lived by, going against the government to keep Serena safe. But are the aliens and the government the biggest threats to Serena’s life… or is it Hunter?

My Review:
Holy smoking aliens, this book is so hot it’s scorching!!

I’m a massive fan of the Lux series, and I was intrigued enough about Hunter and Serena from the scenes in that series to read Obsession. I’m glad I did as I loved it.

Hunter starts out being a total douche, and I could relate to Serena’s initial sense of fear around him. As the story develops we start to understand him a little more, and I found myself changing my opinion of the Arum. Hunter thoroughly redeems himself in his one-man/alien quest to protect Serena from the Luxen who are out to kill her. That she falls for him is totally believable, and I was readily rooting for both of them by the end.

I love that Jennifer writes so many bonus scenes, and novellas, from different POV’s, showing different sides to the story. Obsession has inspired me to read Lux again, now that I have a different interpretation of the motivations behind Arum like Hunter.

This book is definitely not for young teens though, as the heady mix of sex and violence are for mature readers only.

Another epic read from the NA, YA, Paranormal, Fantasy, Sci-Fi Queen!

Review: Bitter Sweet Love (The Dark Elements 0.5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Bitter Sweet LoveTitle: Bitter Sweet Love
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: The Dark Elements 0.5
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Dez wasn’t just Jasmine’s crush. A gargoyle Warden like Jas, he helped her come to terms with her destiny—fending off demons and maintaining the balance between good and evil. He was her everything…right until the moment he disappeared without a trace. It didn’t help that Jas’s father had just announced that she and Dez would one day be mated. Hard not to take that personally.

And now he’s back, three years older, ten times hotter, ready to pick up exactly where they left off. But Jas isn’t taking that risk again. Dez has seven days to meet all her conditions and earn back her trust. Seven days filled with terrifying danger and sweet temptation. Seven days to win her heart—or shatter it all over again…

My Review:
I adore Jennifer’s Dark Elements series so I was looking forward to reading Bitter Sweet Love, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to expectations.
There is nothing wrong with the writing or the pacing, I just didn’t connect with either Jasmine or Dez and found that I really didn’t care what happened to them.
It was incredibly short, an easy, quick read, but it may have benefited from a little more detail and depth.
I really enjoyed the glimpse we got of a younger Layla and Zayne, and the scene with Roth was brilliant. It got extra brownie points for that, and I’d recommend it to fans of this series purely on that basis alone.

Review: Unchained (Nephilim Rising #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

UnchainedTitle: Unchained
Author: by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Nephilim Rising #1
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genres: Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Between the pissed off creatures that want demon-hunter Lily Marks dead and the fallen angel who just…wants her, Lily is about ready to trade in forever for a comfy job in a cubicle farm.

The fact that she and Julian are civil to one another is enough to have her thrown out of the Sanctuary, but she can’t shake her not-so-angelic stalker or how he brings her dangerously close to ecstasy.

Her forbidden relationship with Julian provides the perfect fuel for suspicion when a traitor is discovered to be working within the Sanctuary. Lily quickly finds herself hunted by well, everyone.

Her only hope is to discover the real traitor before she loses everything–and she’ll need Julian’s help. That is, if Julian is really there to help her…and not destroy her.

Yeah, being a Nephilim isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.

My Review:
I have mixed feelings about this book. While I definitely enjoyed reading it, it didn’t grab me in the way Jennifer’s books usually do. It lacks her usual finesse, and isn’t up to the normal superb standard. In the acknowledgments section she admits that this was the second book she ever wrote, back in 2008, and that made total sense. So I’ve adjusted my views accordingly, reviewing it as a debut work of sorts.

It took me a little while to engage with both Lily and Julian. Julian seemed like a total creeper at the start and his description was off-putting, I couldn’t understand how Lily would be attracted to him. As the story progressed and I learned more of his character he grew on me. For a 26-year-old I felt Lily was quite immature at times, but I made allowances given her background She grew up in the Sanctuary and really didn’t have much opportunity to be a kid, so I can understand how she’s mature in some ways, and immature in others. Believable.

Michael was the character I felt most connected to in this story, and I would have loved it if he had stronger plot lines. However, if she continues this series I’d expect to hear more about him in future novels given how this one ended.

In the main the writing is not as good as normal, but I’ve addressed that above. One of the things I love most about JLA’s writing is her ability to write really compelling dialogue between her characters. I still can’t get the Seth/Aiden/Alex dialogue from ‘Pure’ out of my head – totally bloody brilliant in the way it’s written. Not so much here, but she was only starting out.

Pacing is a little slow in parts, but overall okay. Plot is good but nothing overly original. Once I got half-way in I got totally sucked into the mystery and enjoyed it much more.

If you are a fan of JLA you might be a little disappointed with this one so I’d say go into it with an open mind and you’ll enjoy it more.

3.5 stars.

Review: The Six, and the Crystals of Ialana (The Six, #1) by Katlynn Brooke

the six and the crystals of ialanaTitle: The Six, and the Crystals of Ialana
Author: Katlynn Brooke
Series: The Six #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Fantasy
Links:

Blurb:
A mysterious island, strange dreams and a powerful healing crystal lost centuries ago: seven young people must discover what their connection is to the disastrous events that took place five hundred years before they were born. Who are the Six Healers, what is their mission and how did it once fail?
The Six, along with a seventh companion, must navigate perilous mountain passes, caves and tunnels guarded by monstrous creatures, and embark on a sea voyage that is doomed from the start. Not only that, there is a potential traitor in their midst who may sell them out at the first opportunity.
The story takes place on the Continent of Ialana, a mythical place in a long-forgotten time that inspired legends and blurs the distinctions between science and magic. The Six discover that all magic is only an understanding of the true nature of reality and the construct of the universe. All they know is that their lives will never be the same again.

My Review:
The Six, and the Crystals of Ialana is a captivating fantasy book that is suitable for everyone from young teenagers upwards.

Relaying the story of six teenagers who are inextricably linked, this is a story of reincarnation, discovery, fate, inner strength and belief. We meet the six main characters as they experience the power of mysterious, shared dreams. These turn out to be memories of themselves in a previous lifetime, and thus begins a new chapter in their journey. Things went disastrously wrong the last time they were all together. Now they’re in a desperate race against time to change their destiny, and the the fate of their country and loved ones. They set off on an exciting adventure, meeting many characters and creatures on the way. Blaidd is clearly the villain of the piece, though I never stopped hoping that he’d turn over a new leaf and see the error of his ways.

Containing many magical elements that are often found in fantastical tales, the author creates her own believable world with engaging characters and vivid details.

I’ll admit that I was initially a little confused over the different characters, POV’s and various locations, but it all makes sense after a few chapters and that became a non-existent issue thereafter.

Exceptionally well written, the writing flows smoothly and it was an easy read.

I think this book would appeal to fans of Percy Jackson, The Chronicles of Narnia and the Hobbit. An enjoyable read.

Review: Wicked (A Wicked Saga #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

WickedTitle: Wicked
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: A Wicked Saga #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Things are about to get Wicked in New Orleans.

Twenty-two year old Ivy Morgan isn’t your average college student. She, and others like her, know humans aren’t the only thing trolling the French Quarter for fun… and for food. Her duty to the Order is her life. After all, four years ago, she lost everything at the hands of the creatures she’d sworn to hunt, tearing her world and her heart apart.

Ren Owens is the last person Ivy expected to enter her rigidly controlled life. He’s six feet and three inches of temptation and swoon-inducing charm. With forest-green eyes and a smile that’s surely left a stream of broken hearts in its wake, he has an uncanny, almost unnatural ability to make her yearn for everything he has to offer. But letting him in is as dangerous as hunting the cold-blooded killers stalking the streets. Losing the boy she loved once before had nearly destroyed her, but the sparking tension that grows between them becomes impossible for Ivy to deny. Deep down, she wants… she needs more than what her duty demands of her, what her past has shaped for her.

But as Ivy grows closer to Ren, she realizes she’s not the only one carrying secrets that could shatter the frail bond between them. There’s something he’s not telling her, and one thing is for certain. She’s no longer sure what is more dangerous to her—the ancient beings threatening to take over the town or the man demanding to lay claim to her heart and her soul.

My Review:
Wicked is another fantastic fantasy read from writing power-house Jennifer L. Armentrout. I am seriously in awe of her talent. How on Earth does she write so many great books so quickly? She said recently that she’s released 30 books in 3 years. I only discovered her a few months back, and I’ve already read 22 of those 30 and the rest are on my Kindle, along with pre-orders of the books due out this year. I devour everything she reads, and it’s becoming a major problem as it’s taking over my life. Ha ha. So just to put it out there at the start of this review, I have a major JLA addiction and the woman can barely put a foot wrong in my book.

Onto Wicked, I loved it 🙂 Ivy is great, fiesty yet vulnerable, like-able if a bit prickly. My favorite kind of protagonist. Ren is charming as the male lead, though he reminded me a little of Aiden St. Delphi in that he’s mature and takes his responsibilities seriously, but has a funny side too. And he’s massively caring and protective of Ivy which is aahh,swoon.

But Tink is my favorite character from this book. He’s hilarious, and the banter between him and Ren at the end is priceless. He’s got Ivy’s back too, and you know there is more of an agenda there than he’s let on. Hopefully we’ll find out more when Torn is released in the summer.

I love Jennifer’s inimitable writing style and this book is up there with the best of her best. Pacing is great, and I was hooked from the start. The plot was predictable in places, but I still really enjoyed it. The whole thing with Val and what Ivy is – totally guessed it, even with the bum steer. Also where were the Elite with this big threat hanging over New Orleans? Surely they would have sent in the cavalry? The other thing that didn’t make sense to me was how David and Ren were both suspicious of Val (you could tell) yet they assigned her to room that held the gateway? Again, didn’t add up.

JLA loves her cliff-hangar endings, and so do I. This was isn’t a total killer but I’m still dying for the next book. Ivy is facing a real dilemma and I’m intrigued to see what she does. She can’t tell Ren, not that he would turn her in, but she’d involve him in it if she confided in him. Yet she can’t run either, as then they will all be hunting her. So she’s kind-of damned if she does, and damned if she doesn’t.

If you’re a fan of JLA, or of new adult fantasy in general then you should pick up a copy of this book. You won’t be disappointed.

Review: Beautiful Bedlam (Beautiful Bedlam #1) by Ali Harper

Beautifull BedlamTitle: Beautiful Bedlam
Author: Ali Harper
Series: Beautiful Bedlam #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Sienna Rivers has it all, the looks, the smarts, oh and the dysfunctional family from hell, a distorted mind of epic proportions coupled with the return of a childhood sweetheart bad boy Logan Jackson with his smoldering dark eyes, tousled hair, leather jackets and cherry red Mustang, her life suddenly got a lot more complicated.

Before the start of her junior year of high school, Sienna’s greatest problems were studying for the SAT’s and trying to watch Game of Thrones alone in her room without her mother walking in unannounced thinking she was watching some form of adult entertainment.

Now that Logan is back in their small town of Haven Falls, she has to face heartbreak and falling in an all-consuming love for the first time whilst simultaneously dealing with her strange hallucinations, her parents’ crumbling marriage, family secrets crawling out from under the woodwork and her mother’s growing alcohol abuse problem, and of course deciding what dress to wear to her first ever high school dance.

Falling in love had never been so insane.

“He was stunning, striking, charismatic, extroverted, grand and greater than life, every guy wanted to be him and all the girls wanted to be with him. He was the spark, twinkle and gleam of the stars and she was merely the contrasting dark night sky behind that allowed him to shine.”

“She’s everything right in this world, she’s kind, and funny and so beautifully insanely weird and she just gets it. She gets me.”

My Review:
Beautiful Bedlam is in the main a romance story, with elements of suspense, family drama, betrayal, intrigue and a hint at some paranormal twists.

Sienna is like-able if a bit naive at times. Her family life is very dysfunctional, and her best friend betrays her in the worst possible way. Sienna has been pining for Logan Jackson since he upped and left very mysteriously a couple of years previously. As soon as he reappears, she gets sucked back into his life, and falls for him all over again.

Logan was definitely rocking the whole bad-boy vibe, but I’m a total sucker for these type of fictional boyfriends, so I loved him (sad to admit I know). Noah was just too sickly-sweet, no contest if you’re Sienna.

Ali Harper writes beautifully in the main, though I was a little confused in parts at some unclear scene and POV changes.

It’s a very quick, easy read and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next for Logan and Sienna, especially now they’re properly together. I’m also keen to see how the author develops the paranormal theme throughout the rest of the series.

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Sienna Rivers, ex-nerd, undisputed reigning chess champion of the class of ’09 and the proverbial all around wise-ass degenerate pain in your backside.”

“Be careful. He uses that line on all the girls.”

“All clichés aside, sometimes a girl needed to cry in the rain.”

“Meet Logan Jackson, smug, self-entitled, proud, arrogant, trust-fund brat.”

Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

I engaged in a R4R swap in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

dont look backTitle: Don’t Look Back
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: standalone
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Mystery/ Suspense/ Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

My Review:
Sammy wakes up bloodied and battered with no recollection of where she is, or how she got there. This is further confounded when she can’t even remember her name, or who she is. Her family arrive at the hospital to reclaim her and that doesn’t jog her memory. Her brother Scott, his girlfriend Julie and Carson the sorta-boy-next-door all try and help her to piece back the memories of her life. She discovers that she wasn’t a very likable person and quickly realizes this is a ‘second chance’ that most don’t get.

Her best friend Cassie is still missing and her body is subsequently discovered prompting the police to begin a murder investigation, with Sammy prime suspect.

Her parents have a non-existent relationship and the family atmosphere is tense, heightened by Sammy’s obvious distaste towards long-term boyfriend Del and some serious crushing on Carson.She quickly discards the majority of her so-called friends, who are in the main nasty and bitchy.

Sammy’s mind is playing tricks on her as she suffers hallucinations/visions, surges of memory/recollections, eerie images of dead Cassie, and mysterious warning notes that are left in close proximity.

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of JLA’s writing and I adore the Lux, Covenent and Dark Elements series. This is the first contemporary novel I’ve read from JLA and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, it didn’t hook me as much as the other books did. The romance is quite muted compared to her other novels, and I missed that. Because boy can JLA write great romance scenes.

However, she has deftly developed the mystery/suspense theme within this novel and as a reader, you constantly wonder whether Sammy is being told the truth by those around her, and continuously ponder who is trustworthy. I did guess the culprit pretty early on – the clues are subtly embedded throughout the story – but I constantly questioned myself, and switched my mind a few times.

The writing was sublime, and the pacing bang-on, as usual. I don’t think the dialogue was as engaging as normal, lacking the humorous/satirical element that is regularly found in her fantasy books, however I felt the characters were a bit more unique and individual as a result.
I finished this book in less than 24 hours, and that says it all really.

Another epic read from writing power-house Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Review: Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Stone Cold TouchTitle: Stone Cold Touch
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: The Dark Elements #2
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Every touch has its price

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

My Review:
I started reading Stone Cold Touch as soon as I turned the last page on White Hot Kiss. I was sold on Roth. Completely. Unflinchingly. He’s the man. But goddammit JLA had to go and mess all that up for me!I’m now referring to White Hot Kiss as Book Roth and Stone Cold Touch as Book Zayne.

You can’t help but fall in love with Zayne in this book, even though there are moments where you want to shake some sense into him. He loves Layla with such intensity that he overlooks the fact that she’s running off on little adventures with Roth left, right and center.

Layla’s mind and body are in a bit of a mess, as she feels torn between the two guys. I don’t blame her, it’s a real dilemma as both guys are incredibly hot, very protective of her and offer distinct possibilities. However, Zayne always errs on the side of caution while Roth is more your typical bad-boy (rocking some Seth/Daemon qualities in my opinion, not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

I felt there was a lot more focus on the romance in this book than usual, but there’s still plenty of action to propel the story along.

I hated Abbott in this book and really couldn’t understand how he could throw Layla under the bus so easily. She was supposed to be like a daughter to him, but he never treated her this way and was always quick to think the worst of her. Zayne in comparison was resolute in his defence of Layla, and his belief in her inherent goodness.

I hate snakes, they give me a serious case of the heebie-jeebies, but I love Bambi! Go Figure.

I worked out the identity of the Lilin pretty early on, the subtle clues were there, but that ending was still incredible.

I only read this after the whole voting on Roth vs. Zayne had ended so I couldn’t contribute to who Layla ends up with. I’m guessing it’s going to be Roth. It’s a tough call as both guys are great. However, ultimately I think she’s better suited to Roth as it’s easier to be with him. If she ends up with Zayne she’ll constantly have the whole no-kissing-or-I’ll-take-his-soul type dilemma. No one could live like that. It seems more natural for her to belong with Roth.

Another epic read from JLA, and I can’t wait for Every Last Breath.

Review: White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

White Hot KissTitle: White Hot Kiss
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: The Dark Elements #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
One kiss could be the last.

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne… it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

My Review:
Layla is half demon, half warden and very confused over her identity and her place in the world. Having grown up with the Wardens, her entire belief system comes into question the minute she meets Upper Level Demon Roth. Inexplicably drawn to him, her feelings towards him are initially conflicted, but as she gets to know him she can’t help but fall in love.

However, she also has ill-conceived feelings for her ‘adopted’ Warden brother Zayne, and is fending serious bouts of jealousy and envy at his apparent closeness to his proposed mate Danika.

Throw in a seriously bad-ass Mom who is chained in the fiery pits of hell, and an errant Dad who seems hell-bent on eliminating her, and you get a sense of the turmoil that is Layla’s life.

White Hot Kiss contains all the elements that make a JLA novel completely riveting. Superb prose, engaging characters, fiery romance, action packed scenes,compelling dialogue and roller-coaster twists and turns.

By the end of the book Roth had won me over completely,never more so than when he made a massive sacrifice in the name of love – all to protect Layla and those she loves.

A must-read for fans of Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Review: Unmasked by EM Kaplan

UnmaskedTitle: Unmasked
Author: EM Kaplan
Series: standalone
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Fantasy/ Paranormal
Links:

Blurb:
Mel can sense the blood beating through her companions’ veins. She can count the moments between heartbeats to tell who is sincere and who is lying. She can make herself stronger for short periods of time, heal small wounds on her body, and manipulate light to change her appearance subtly. These abilities are useful skills for a Mask—a preternaturally sensitive, cloaked and imposing, impartial arbitrator, both revered and feared by everyone.

Mattieus Ottick, or just Ott to his friends, comes from the frozen north to hunt the strange ogre-like creatures, or trogs, that threaten the northern mines. Magical beasties? Nightmares come to life? The world as Ott knows it is about to change. Blessed by easy charm and good looks, Ott is used to the attention of females, but, gods above, he is knocked flat by the kiss of the ethereal woman he rescues. How could she possibly be a Mask?

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Rated approximately PG-13 for fantasy violence and some smooching.

My Review:
Unmasked is the story of Mel, a young girl with special paranormal abilities, who is in training to be a Mask. The community of Masks are skilled mediators, called upon to negotiate disputes, and they are as revered as they are feared.Trained to be neutral, objective and emotionless, they lead a rather solitary life. Mel is sent to Cillary Keep to study human nature, and to see where she fits in society. A chance encounter with a hunter named Ott changes her destiny forever.
It took me a little while to get into the story, but once I got to Chapter 5 I was drawn into the world and quickly became engrossed.
This book is beautifully written and EM Kaplan has a magical way with words.
I’d highly recommend this book to fans of fantasy/paranormal romance.