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YA Book Review – Half-Blood (Covenant Series #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals–well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden.

But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem–staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

My Review
There’s so much to love about Half-Blood. First, there’s Alex. She’s a feisty, irreverent, half-blood who’s never met a rule she’s not willing to break. And when the biggest rule of all means the boy of her dreams is totally off limits, you know there’s going to be trouble. The world Jennifer L. Armentrout has created is part Percy Jackson, part Vampire Academy, with a dash of Harry Potter. After Alex’s mother is killed, she returns to the Covenant where she was born to train to be a  Sentinel. When Aiden, the boy she’s crushing on hard, agrees to train her, sparks fly and all hell breaks loose.

Plot
I know there are a lot of similarities to other books, and I’ve heard a lot of people complain, but as the saying goes, there are only seven original plots. The rest is execution and the author delivers a story that stands apart from the others and as a result, is unpredictable. Sure, we know something’s going to happen between Aiden and Alex because it’s forbidden, but this is a young adult romance after all. But what we don’t know is how the rest of the story is going to play out and how the intense attraction between the two of them is not only going to affect their lives, but the lives of everyone around them.

Characters
I like Alex. She’s mouthy, stubborn, and impulsive, which makes her unlikeable to some, but it’s probably what I like most about her. I get tired of female heroes who never do anything wrong. Sure, Alex does everything wrong, but it so fits her personality that I get her. Aiden is my book boyfriend. He’s perfect in every way. In fact, he’s the anti-Alex. Far from being a drawback, though, his perfection only makes him more endearing, because he tries to keep Alex in line. But, I think my favorite character is Caleb. As Alex’s best friend, he has some of the best lines and their relationship is sweet and helps humanize Alex a bit.

Bottom Line
Half-Blood is a thrilling young adult adventure with a strong romantic component and both the romance and the adventure will leave you breathless.

Title: Half-Blood (Covenant Series #1)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 303
Category: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
LinksGoodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

YA Book Review – A Killing Frost (Tomorrow Series #3) by John Marsden

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
Life in the war zone enters its sixth month of heart-stopping tension in the latest installment of the internationally bestselling Tomorrow series.

In the third installment of the Tomorrow saga, the anything-to-survive existence of Ellie and her friends has sharpened their senses and emboldened their plans. They aren’t merely on the defensive anymore; they’re also striking back. Their strategy? Attack the enemy not just on land, but also on water. If they have any hope of sabotaging the formidable container ship at Cobbler’s Bay, then stealth is a must, but so, too, is one very big explosion.

And if they fail, they may face a whole new kind of terror — imprisonment.

My Review
The Killing Frost is probably the most intense and tragic book in the Tomorrow When the War Began Series. It opens with all of the characters really struggling to come to terms with their own inner demons. Instead of drawing together, though, they begin sniping at each other. The stress takes its toll on this group of teens in a very realistic fashion.

Once again, not content to sit around and let the enemy run amok in their country, they decide to strike back. They choose a target that is the most dangerous to date, but also far more strategic . Which means things are going to go horribly, horribly wrong.

Plot
John Marsden tells a gripping tale that keeps us on the edge of our seats. This story moves along at a faster pace than either of the two previous books and almost never lets up. As a result, I finished it in just three days — it was impossible to put down. While the plot careens along, Marsden doesn’t let up on his characters either. They have emotional as well as physical challenges that test not only themselves, but the bonds of their friendship. They might be in this war together, but when it comes right down to it, it’s the character you least expect that stands up and does what needs to be done.

Characters
The characters are all so incredibly real, it’s hard to remember they’re all just figments of our imaginations. I love how the author forces them to deal with the realities of the world they live in, rather than just existing alongside those realities. These are teens, afterall, and believably so. Even though they perform a number of truly selfless acts, they can’t escape the fact that at their ages, so much of their world revolves around them. Marsden crafts them beautifully so that we never forget this about them.

Bottom Line
A Killing Frost is a thrill-ride from the opening pages. It takes us on a heart-pounding journey through a fictional world we’d never want to live in, and yet we’re somehow better for having read about it.

Title: A Killing Frost (Tomorrow Series #3)
Author: John Marsden
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Pages: 291
Category: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links to Purchase: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble