Novella Review: Commencement by Paige Cuccaro

Title: Commencement (Hellsbane 0.5)
Author: Paige Cuccaro
Genre: New Adult; paranormal; urban fantasy
Publisher: Entangled Publishing 
Publication Date: September 2012 
Pages: 87 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):

Hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn for frat guys…

Emma Jane Hellsbane knows something evil is worming its way through her college campus—she can feel it. Literally. Her freakish ability to feel other people’s emotions as though they were her own has always been monumentally awkward, and it’s easier for her to just pretend it doesn’t exist. But this time her paranormal ability just might help her save lives.

Emma Jane’s fairly certain that whatever the hateful, egomaniacal, Godlike thing is, it’s set up shop inside her boyfriend, the frat boy/soccer star Justin. And if she doesn’t figure a way to get it out of him soon, Justin’s soul will be the appetizer to the main course—the whole student body. Problem is, the big baddy is granting sinister wishes, and with each one the risks grow higher and the phrase Be careful what you wish for becomes a real-life dire warning. Of course for Emma, what feels like it could be the end is in fact just the beginning…

My Review:

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this introduction to the Hellbane series considering my usual dislike for novellas. It’s short and sweet but we get to see a great snapshot of Emma Jane at 19 – intelligent, caring and determined to help those she cares about.

With computer savvy boy genius Mihir at her side, Emma tries to work out what’s bothering her boyfriend and first true love, soccer star frat boy Jason never realizing that it’s more than anything she’s seen before. Her empath’s gift is telling her that this is an evil beyond anything she’s ever considered to be real. Jason has found himself a Jinn and not even Emma can come between him and his wishes.

Plot wise – well… there’s not all that much that can happen in 87 pages especially when so much character development is occurring. But I really liked how the characters were detailed. Emma is interesting and Mihir? I’d love to read more about him and his practitioner of the Dark Arts grandmother. The many pop-culture references were another plus in Commencement‘s favour for me. – seriously, Mihir wants to be Giles to Paige’s Buffy? 😀

The first book in the Hellsbane series starts five years after this novella and would not count as young adult fiction since Emma is then 24 but I think that this is a series I could definitely fall in love with.

Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the review copy.

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Book Review: Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Onyx (Lux #2)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Sci-Fi, Aliens
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: August 2012
Pages: 376
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (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…

My Review:

Onyx picks up right where Obsidian ends – with Katy, Daemon and the other Lumins having defeated the latest Amun threat. And it seems like the arrogant alien has turned over a new leaf. Daemon is now romantically pursuing Katy and whilst she’s not immune to his charms, she’s slightly put out. She’s convinced he’s only interested because of the connection they share after he healed her from her near fatal injuries after the Amun battle. Katy wants the kind of relationship her parents had. “Undying love. Powerful. True. [Something] a whacked-out alien bond [just] couldn’t do [for her].”

Things between the two of them don’t get any easier when the new guy in school, a surfer from California, Blake Saunders asks Katy to a party… and stumbles upon her secret. That ever since Daemon healed her, she’s been starting to possess alien powers that she can’t control.

With the Department of Defense (DoD) arrive in town and the Amun show up again, it seems that Katy has more to worry about than ever before…

I’ll admit it. I’m a little bit of a Daemon fan girl. I liked him in Obsidian and he didn’t disappoint in Onyx. Although I do wonder just what it is he has against computers – they don’t seem to stand a chance when he’s around Katy. The bad boy alien shows off his jealous side and started to become more than just the angry boy-next-door. Despite all the arrogance, I could tell that he really does care about Katy, and not just because she possessed the information to out him and his family to the authorities.

Katy, as many main characters in the books I like to read have a tendency to do, doesn’t always think before she acts. Even when it’s likely to put her at a disadvantage in a life or death situation. But this time around I found myself wanting her to succeed.

Blake was a great new addition to the story. A romantic rival who brings more than just Daemon’s jealousy to the plot. He’s interesting and I enjoyed learning all about the Lumins and the connections between certain aliens and humans. The DoD added an extra element of fear and suspense to the novel. I liked that the supernatural beings (not including the Amun) were the good guys and the human department are what the characters should be fearing.

I enjoyed all the drama that occurred in this book. There’s suspense and action but it’s more than just drama. I liked how the relationships developed. This book is exciting. Just when I thought everything was wrapping up, something new happened and I was thrown right back into everything.

There’s new characters who are more than they seem and a sinister plot that’s really ramping up with lots too look forward to in the next instalment of the Lux series.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 

Book Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Obsidian 
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Sci-Fi 
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: November 2011
Pages: 299
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Starting over sucks.When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.And then he opened his mouth.Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens. The hot alien living next door marks me.You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. If I don’t kill him first, that is.

My Review:

I love when I come across a novel that features a supernatural being that I haven’t read much of. I don’t think I’ve read a YA alien story since I read the Roswell High series many years ago. It was on of my favourite series and I think that this series has the potential to become a favourite of mine too.

Katy’s mother moves the two of them out into the middle of nowhere for a new start. Both of them are living in the shadow of their former life since Katy’s father died of a brain tumour three years ago. Now, Katy has the entire summer with no friends in a small town (they don’t even have their own grocery store) with no one but her blog followers for company. Or at least she would have them except that the internet hasn’t been hooked up yet.

After promising her mother that she’d make and effort to try to enjoy life in West Virginia, Katy goes next door to introduce herself to the teenagers who live there. What she’s confronted with is a shirtless Daemon – the most irritating, rude and arrogant person she’s ever met. Despite the constant tension between the two, there are sparks of chemistry from the start.

Katy is furious with Daemon but manages to strike up a close friendship with Daemon’s sister, Dee, much to his disapproval. He wants nothing more than to ignore the girl next door but he can’t – his sister’s safety depends on him to make sure Katy isn’t a threat but also as much as Daemon would like to fight it, he can’t help his feelings towards the new girl.

I loved the relationship between Katy and Daemon. This is not a story where the main couple are insanely in love at first sight for no apparent reason. Instead, this is a novel where both the heroine and the hero seem to hate each other for many reasons. Katy can’t start Daemon’s attitude and hates herself for being attracted to him. Daemon thinks that Katy is a risk to his family and wants nothing more than for her to go back to where she came from. I loved their interactions. The novel takes place over several months and during this time you can see their relationship develop and grow.

As an avid reader myself, I could relate in many ways to Katy. I’m still unsure why her blog was featured so prominently in the story – as far as I could tell it didn’t really add anything – but I enjoyed how many of the memes and sites she talked about where ones that I’d come across myself and that helped make Katy the perfect girl-next-door. She amazed me with how calm she was with the revelations revealed in the book. I think I will put that down to how many paranormal novels she reads.

This was a perfect introduction to the Lux series. I loved the pacing and the interactions of the character. I can’t wait to read the second book. If you enjoy teen paranormal romances where the hero is not quite what you’ve read before, I strongly suggest you read this book.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository