Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Lux, #1)

Obsidian (Lux, #1)Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published May 8th 2012 by Entangled Publishing, LLC (first published November 23rd 2011)
ISBN 162061006X

When seventeen-year-old Katy Swartz moved to West Virginia right before her senior year, she’d pretty much resigned herself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring, but then she spotted her hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up…until he opened his mouth. Daemon Black is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. It’s hate at first sight, but when a stranger attacks her and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens. The hot guy next door? Well, he’s an alien. Turns out that Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities and Katy is caught in the crosshairs. Daemon’s touch has lit her up like the Vegas Strip and the only way she’s getting out of this alive is by sticking close to him until her alien mojo fades. That is if she doesn’t kill him first.

You know how sometimes a book is just exactly what you needed and is so particularly good at what it is that you just…

You just read it until 3am.

That’s how good this book is. What it does, it does perfectly. I’m so blown away by how excellently the twisty, embarrassing, infuriating feelings of adolescence are crystallized in this book.

And there are also aliens. Come onnnnn this is too good.

Katy is so likeable, and very real. She has insecurities, but they aren’t crippling or overdone. She’s beautifully admirable in her courage. She’s so many things I was at her age but she manages to overcome them.

Let’s not even get me started on the chemistry. Hnng. Hnnnnnnnng.

Can I just say I’m glad I was a hopelessly abstinent loser in high school because if I had a boy like Daemon living next door, taunting me like that, I would have spent all of my spare time scratching at his bedroom window. Hooo lawdy.

Jennifer Armentrout does rocky, awkward, embarrassing, douchey relationships well. She does action and mysterious backgrounds well. Action, check. Banter, check. Mean teenagers, check check.

Just…read this book so we can fangirl over it together.

And yes, before anyone asks, I AM jealous that fictional, seventeen year old Katy’s book blog is more popular than mine.

View all my reviews | Buy Obsidian on Amazon.com

NaNoWrimo: Update on extreme failure

So predictably I haven’t been writing for NaNo. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the pressure, maybe it’s that I am just really bad at juggling life and stuff, but I’ve topped out at about 6 or 7k words.

Top 3 reasons why:

 

1. I got bored.  

Like, really really bored. My story, which seemed so new and exciting was starting to feel real. Like real life. I knew too much about it and I couldn’t be excited about something so mundane. The ironic part is it’s an urban fantasy, so maybe I just need to up the amount of dragons and monsters and butt kicking and stuff.

2. The mood.

Seriously, what’s up with that? I really wanted to want to write. I did. But I was invariably tired or grumpy or couldn’t focus. What are this.

3. That pesky social life.

Now, don’t laugh, because I’m not making this up. People actually wanted to hang out with me. It’s like every time I even put my fingers to the keyboard my phone would go off. Usually friends, but sometimes work. I had four work events, but I could have written despite those. It was the fact that I had friends to talk to that really threw me.

Unfortunately there isn’t a real solution for any of this. Whenever I am feeling particularly loser-like I am usually too restless to sit and write. So even if this was an off season for me and the calling cards ceased coming in, I doubt I’d be any more productive.

I’d have to write like 9k words a day to finish NaNo by the end of the week. Can I do it? Probably. I’ve written 10k in a day before, but that took monumental effort. Will I do it? I don’t know. I am not sure I can commit to that. It’s a really draining endeavor, and to be honest it’s not really up to me. I’d basically need someone (coughboyfriendcough) to take care of all of the things for the next five days. I don’t know if that’s something I can ask. Or will receive.

I’m pretty disappointed in myself, but it’s not too late. On the upside I’ve been reading, and have a review to post later today. I’m also doing a blog tour for T.M. Franklin’s The Guardians on Dec. 2. So check back in a week to see what I thought of the book (spoiler alert, I loved it) and read my interview with the author!

How is your NaNo going?

NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, week 2

So I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. This is my fifth or something year participating and I have yet to win, so I’m really trying to put all of my mental resources into writing, which means less (or no) reading. And probably no review blogging.

 I’ll try to post here with my updates. I really like my story idea, and I think it’s going along swimmingly, though I’ve got less than half of my day 8 target words written. I’m hoping to use the next couple of hours to really knock some of my word count out of the park.

Word count: 5074
Cups of coffee desired: 2309410397410410

Happy Halloween! Review: To Have and To Code (A Modern Witch 0.5) by Debora Geary

 It’s All Hallows’ Eve, and I think it is really fitting that the book I read today is about witches, because the costume I threw together last minute is a “witch” (Halloween being on a work day really de-prioritizes the costume energy).  Complete with stripey socks.

I’ve had this book sitting on my kindle for several months, and a fit of boredom this morning led me to read most of it. Here’s the review. Happy Samhain!

To Have and To Code (A Modern Witch 0.5)To Have and To Code
 by Debora Geary
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Published September 12th 2012
by Fireweed Publishing

Nell Sullivan is fiery, easily distracted by cookies, and doomed to wear the peach monstrosity at her best friend’s wedding.

And she’s a witch.

Daniel Walker is a former baseball player turned bored hacker looking for a challenge. Hacking Nell’s online gaming world is going to get him a lot more than he bargained for.

A prophecy says they will make babies together – but when it comes to the love life of a modern witch and a hacker, prophecy might not get a vote.

It’s really unfair of me to rate this book so low because it really wasn’t bad, I just expected different things of it than what it gave me. I started it because it was free in the Amazon lending library and it’s about witches. Here are some things I’d wish I’d known about it before starting.

1. There is no sex in it. NONE. Lots of “heat,” so much, in fact, that stuff is always threatening to get melted. Cool right? Yeah, I guess, the first 20 times it’s threatened. Then it loses threat power.

2. There isn’t enough magic.

3. It’s set in 1997. Somehow I missed this for the first three quarters of the book. It’s about computer programming/gaming. Let’s just say if you know anything about computers it’s going to be a low level buzz in the back of your brain the entire time you read it.

4. The characters are wayyy too close. All of them. They all talk too much about their feelings and are way too interested in the feelings of others.

All in all, it’s a nice read if you’re interested in romances between characters with few flaws, no sex, and lots of destined true love. Not what I needed today, but still written well!

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What I’m reading: everything, pretty much.

Do you ever get the sudden rush of horror and despair when you think about how many books there are in the world (at least, in languages you can read), and how little time you have to read them?

I’ve been experiencing a bit of that lately. Just a bit. *stares blankly at wall*

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)I’m halfway-ish through the final book in the Wheel of Time series. I’ve let it sit in the backburner of my kindle because after racing through thirteen other books I don’t really want to be finished with it. It’s not really the type of series I’m likely to ever reread, so I guess I’m trying to keep the world alive in my mind.

I’ve kinda gottten sucked into Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, which is a testament to how entertaining they are, because I am SO very over vampires. But these books are like a rocket, you get sped through these stories and are kinda hooked. Like the (good) action movie equivalent of urban fantasy.

Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, #1)I’ve been reading other series too, but so quickly I haven’t had the wherewithal to review the books individually. Richelle Mead’s Georgina Kincaid series is six books long, and I tore through them. I doubt I’ll ever get around to reviewing them, so I’ll just say that I enjoyed the world she crafted, even though Georgina being a succubus kind of sank the character into the hot-girl-at-whom-all-male-characters-throw-themselves territory. I’m not such a huge fan of this, but I enjoyed the story, which is very romance heavy. Shrug. It was pretty good anyway.

Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #1)I also started Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series. I’m on the latest right now. This series is really interesting! It’s set in this sort of dystopic future society where ghosts are murderous and are held in captivity in the City of Eternity by the Church, whose motto is “Facts are Truth.” Cesaria “Chess” Putnam, the protagonist, is a drug addict with an insanely depressing past. She’s a weird anti-heroine that isn’t really that hard to like. I love the gritty aspect of the setting, a look into an addict character like Chess’s mind, and the slang Kane uses, which other reviewers have noted is actually brilliant in that it’s not racist. It’s also kind of infectious. Bump (a pimp/drug dealer) is probably the most entertaining dialogue to read. He uses the eff word with true artistry.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real MagicHmm, what else? I read a book called The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic which I adored. I think I should definitely review that in depth. (I just checked Emily Croy Barker’s Twitter account and she’s working on a sequel. YAAAASSSSS)

That’s all really, right now. I’ve been really busy this last week and kind of burned out on reading, but that’s usually temporary. I’m thinking about getting back into more contemporary general fiction and literary fiction. I’ve been glutting myself on fantasy books to cleanse my mind palette, but I’m starting to feel as if my standards are being lowered by popular fiction. I’m open to book suggestions, although I have a stack of to-read books on my night stand that nearly reaches from the floor to my hip…maybe after the new year.

What have you been reading?

Review: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1) by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published 2011 by Viking Penguin
ISBN 0670022411

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

This book had a LOT of problems. Really kind of troubling problems. I liked it anyway. Sit down, I’ll tell you why.

I’ll start with what I loved with this book: the settings were excellent. I love coming to know a place through a book. I’ve never been to Oxford but I think I caught a sliver of it through the narrative. I loved the academic parts of it, and I loved that I learned things about history from it. I always enjoy picking up tidbits of practical knowledge from fiction. The premise of the book was interesting. And here is where we run into my issues.

This book is disturbingly like Twilight. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Twilight, despite my better judgment and its many flaws, but this book is supposed to be a book about a witch and her personal struggle against fate, or the underground political struggles between the supernatural races. This would have worked out in a really interesting way if not for one thing: homegirl falls in love with a vampire.

There is something about [male] vampires in urban fantasy acquiring the power to utterly ruin any story the minute the heroine falls for them. It doesn’t happen every time, see Sunshine or Rachel Morgan, but it seems to tap into this dark well of perverse desire to be absorbed entirely into someone else’s life in certain authors of certain books. The relationship turns into this black hole that seems to swallow everything else. Granted, relationships often do, but you can’t realistically let your life be subsumed into that of a really old dead guy when you are just beginning your own journey of self discovery without your readers thinking you’ve lost your damn mind. Which is pretty much what happens here.

Luckily this guy is ptherwise pretty interesting and you get to go to France and find out a buncha stuff. But the original plotlines suffer for this.

Don’t even get me STARTED ranting about the whole alpha male/pack business. We get it, vampires are animalistic. Let’s just go ahead and disregard all feminist social progress. Because he just can’t help himself. EYE ROLL

I really enjoy reading books about witches. Unfortunately, this book was almost entirely hijacked by vampires from the beginning. I really would have liked to learn more about Diana’s parents and her Bishop lineage. I would DEFINITELY liked to learn more about daemons. Not the secrety things, just more about what they are like and what differentiates them from…well, mentally gifted and disturbed humans. Because aside from being savants, I can’t pinpoint a single thing.

All in all, a good/ruthless editor with a scalpel and an aversion to vampire hijacking would have done this book a world of good. It was about a hundred, maybe two hundred pages longer than I expected it to be (ebook), and about the same length stretched out/overwritten. Despite all of my issues and opinions to the contrary, I did really enjoy this book and can’t wait to read the next one.

I know. I’m hopeless.

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Review: The Restorer (Graveyard Queen, #1) by Amanda Stevens

The Restorer (Graveyard Queen, #1)The Restorer
by Amanda Stevens
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Published April 19th 2011 by Mira
ISBN13 9780778329817

  

My name is Amelia Gray. I’m a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I’ve always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.It started with the discovery of a young woman’s brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I’ve been hired to restore. The clues to the killer—and to his other victims—lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I’ve vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

I really wanted to like this book more. It has all of the ingredients to bake up into a beautiful cupcake of favorite book, for me anyway. Ghosts, Charleston, NC, hot guys, murder. The reason the first half of the book took me forever to get through (or at least it felt like an eternity) was due to the style of the writing.

This is SO unlike me to say, but the narration style was overdone. It was too…stylized, too over-written. No one thinks in such a flowery, erudite way. But people sure do write that way. I’m sure I’ve got pages and pages of abandoned writing that read exactly the way the beginning of The Restorer does.

It’s too bad, really, because what was shooting to be beautifully written, almost literature, wayyyy overshot, but had atmosphere and intrigue. Luckily it eventually did get better. That or I just got used to it.

Amelia Gray isn’t a very interesting or well fleshed out character (I can tell you exactly one thing about her personality: that she’s reserved) but her circumstances make up for it. Lots of stuff happens to her. Interesting stuff. And all of the information about graveyards is fascinating!

Definitely a good summer read, with lots of ghosts and southern gothic settings. My cup of tea, mostly.

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Advance review: Elysian Fields (Sentinels of New Orleans #3) by Suzanne Johnson

Elysian Fields (Sentinels of New Orleans, #3)Elysian Fields
by Suzanne Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Expected publication: August 13th 2013 by Tor Books 

ISBN0765333198

An undead serial killer comes for DJ in this thrilling third installment of Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series.

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi.

New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans. Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren’t random—an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard. Namely, DJ.

Combatting an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn’t easy. Jake Warin’s loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world’s most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex Warin just turned up on DJ’s to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte’s pirate wench could be DJ’s best option.

I started reading the Sentinels of New Orleans series in my desperate quest to tide myself over before the new Alex Craft and Kate Daniels books come out at the beginning of August and end of July, respectively. I’ve mentioned before that the southern setting is a big draw for me, and N’awlins seemed like a great place for a paranormal urban fantasy. It is really fun to get to know the city and its legends and night spots through these books.

Royal Street, the first book in the series, introduces the heroine, deputy Sentinel Drusilla Jaco (call her DJ or she will pummel you), a minor wizard living in New Orleans right before Hurricane Katrina hits. Her mentor, Gerry, goes missing, her city is devastated, and it’s up to her to make it right. With a new partner foisted on her – one who just happens to be extremely hot, the story and setting are interesting. The second book is even better, even though the narrative jumps forward two years and all of the characters’ relationships…don’t.

Now we skip to THIS book, which albeit is an ARC (I love NetGalley), so there might still be some changes that show up in the finished copy, but from what I read, either my memory is awful or Suzanne Johnson’s writing style and editor changed. Dramatically.

Don’t get me wrong, the story is still great. You’ll be hooked. It’s a page turner, and that’s exactly why I have a problem with it. The chapters feel truncated and stilted. DJ ends the narration of a chapter in a punchy, dramatic way, and then picks up at the start of the next chapter with an entirely different temporal subject. It’s hours or days later, and the cliff-hanger of the previous chapter gets resolved in a quick, past-tense aside. Not gonna lie, I felt cheated. I would almost ALWAYS rather “see” how an altercation or issue gets resolved than be told. It starts to be less jarring toward the middle of the book, but that also may be because I became accustomed to it.

All in all, decent read, I will definitely pick up the next in the series when it comes out next year, and I will go down with my ‘ship. There are like a bajillion (3) absurdly attractive guys in this series vying for DJ’s attention and Johnson is being VERY clever with these relationship plot twists, that clever boots. Pirates and shifters and elves, oh my. Though it’s kind of a dead giveaway which one is meant to win out, he’s the only one who hasn’t done something jaw droppingly awful to DJ in the past two books, so it’s hard to root for anyone else.

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What I’m reading: Not dead!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin Hey y’all. I’ve been AWOL the last few months but I have been reading. A lot. Too much, some might say (We don’t listen to those voices, though, remember that).

I’m still rolling along through Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I’m on book 8, and BOY are these books long! This is coming from a huge fan of the ASOIAF series (Game of Thrones, for the uninitiated). So much book. I’m pretty invested at this point, so I’ll probably see them through.

Everything else has fallen by the wayside, though, in the face of these behemoths. I have several ebooks on deck, including some I’ve looked forward to for a while, like the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel. Shut up, you. I love them.

Anyway I just wanted to check in, say hello. Point to the title (kind of not a funny joke when you have depression, but people like morbid humor right? No? Well, too bad I DID IT).

Truthfully, I prefer designing* blog pages more than I like actually blogging, but luckily for DEP (one letter away from DERP) I like talking about the books I read a lot too. There is war in my soul. Fear not gentle readers. And my stepdad. (Hi, John. Remind me to bring you that book when I come over on Saturday.)

What are your summer reads so far?

*ratchet web design involves a lot of googling for tutorials and using MSPaint. Yup, Paint still exists.

What I’m reading: long awaited releases.

I love book series, but the wait between installments can be a killer, as any George R. R. Martin fan can attest. Sometimes I get distracted and forget about the books I am waiting impatiently to read, and the publication date sneaks up on me, as was the case with Maureen Johnson’s The Madness Underneath and Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess.

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)I am on the fence about reviewing Clockwork Princess because a) it’s the end of a series and b) I still have too many feels to really write a decent review. I definitely recommend both, though! TMU is a ghost thriller kinda, set in London, which I reviewed here, and CP2 (the 2 is because the middle book in the trilogy, Clockwork Prince is CP) is a steampunk take on Clare’s The Mortal Instruments, which I definitely enjoy. The movie is coming out in August, and the cast is phenomenal, they’ve got Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell-Bower, Lena Headey (Cersei from “Game of Thrones” Queen Gorgo in 300!), Aidan Turner (uber hot vamp Mitchell in the UK “Being Human” show) and Robert Sheehan (Misfits). I die.

Other than that, I’ve been slowly chewing through Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files series, which is decent, thus far. I mean, they’re about a wizard named Harry, so. A grown-up one, in this case. I can’t say I really love them—Harry Dresden is sexist in a way that I assume is supposed to be endearing. There are a lot of female characters, though, and they’re not entirely flat. In fact, Harry gets saved by them on occasion. But it’s still kind of grating to be inside of a character’s head when you would probably want to verbally eviscerate them in reality.

Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your WasteI’ve also started reading Bea Johnson from The Zero Waste Home‘s upcoming book. I’ve loved her blog for years, since I read an article in Sunset Magazine. I was undergoing a bit of doubt about my personal commitment to reducing my environmental impact, and seeing that another person, another family, had felt the same way and really DONE something about it changed my life. The book is great so far, and I can’t wait to review it here and on my eco/lifestyle blog, Project Pura Vida.

What are you reading lately? Are you, like, me, avoiding your course materials?