Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I ran my fingers over the plant. Like it was laughing in my face, the colorful blossoms went first. Pink and white petals broke off, and by the time they hit the soil, they’d turned brown. Ugh. I really was Death in sneakers. ~ARC p. 117

Jennifer has done it yet again. But this time she has mastered another aspect of YA literature: a heartbreaking strong main character. Cursed is a tantalizing tale of mystery, heartbreak, struggle and complete devotion. Ember’s ability to push through all the crap thrown at her is miraculous.

by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Expected publication: September 18th 2012 by Spencer Hill Press
*I received an Advanced Reading Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Dying sucks--and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he’s a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she’s more than interested. There’s just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she’s willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't? 

But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not've been an accident at all, she’s not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time. 

Stealing a touch
Cursed follows Ember McWilliams, living the past two years on browed time. She died once, and was brought back to life by her gifted sister, Olivia (Olivia has the gift to bring the dead back to like, both animals and people alike. The complete opposite of her sister, Ember). But Ember came back different…changed. She now has the touch of death, literally. Her touch kills, everything, plants, animals and people. She pretty much accepted her fate and new life. The accident that caused everything killed their Dad and left their mom in a kind of stupor: a somber, emotionless state and Olivia needs to be taken care of. Ember became the social outcast and the caretaker of her five-year-old sister (Olivia). And things were tolerable, barely. But that all changed when her ex, Dustin, accidently touched her and a strange boy stepped into her life. Now thrown into a new life, and new family, Ember has to struggle with trusting this Mr. Cromwell and his other gifted children. But Ember is soon found on the end of some nasty pranks at her new school and finds out that the accident that changed her life, might not have been an accident at all. And all the evidence is point to her new found family. 
I glanced at the clock in the dashboard—five minutes to make it to homeroom without getting another tardy. Collecting tardy slips had become sort of a hobby of mine. One day, I would have a pretty collage of pink paper with angry red writing. I'd hand it on the fridge for Olivia. She dug pink things. ~ARC p. 6 
Ember McWillams
Cursed is a completely different read than anything else out there. Jennifer really is a writing machine and total genius. I was arrested again by Jennifer’s words and held prisoner this time by Ember’s deliciously somber and perfectly heartbreaking story. Cursed is full of action, mystery, romance and betrayal. Every page leaves your fingers tingling to turn to the next and when you reach the end, you will want to start it all over again. Your heart sputters all over the place with every action scene and forbidden touch from Hayden. It will be twisted and pulled in every direction with each insult, every mean word and malicious action against Ember. Jennifer has yet again written a compelling story that will stay with you and quickly become another one of your favorite reads. 

Ember is a totally different heroine that I haven’t seen before. She is fiercely devoted to her family and her love for her sister is refreshing. Many books lately, the main character is fighting for love of a boy, where Ember will do anything for her sister. And I LOVED that. And don’t get me wrong; Ember is striving for someone to love her. Her body has evidence that she was dead and her no touch policy makes it hard for her to get close to people. Her pain is deep and the love she develops with Hayden is heartwarming. But the romance isn’t the entire book. You are with Ember, in her mind, in the trenches with her pain, fighting with her, rooting for her and wanting her to come out on top! This book goes deeper than boy meets sad girl that needs to be loved. So much deeper. 
Once inside my bedroom, I slammed the door shut behind me. Once. Then twice. Doing that always made me feel better whenever I'd gotten into an argument with my parents. ~ARC p. 62 
Ember is as her name states: a glowing fragment from fire, stewing quietly passing the time, but if pushed or provoked, sends sparks flying and brings the fire roaring back. This is her struggle, and we get to watch her discover her self and discover her life. Your heart is pulled all over the place with Ember. Jennifer did something totally different with this book. She really made you feel the heartbreak Ember goes through. Every time someone called her a freak, put something in her locker, chose her sister over her and every time the whole house wanted her to leave you felt her pain. You felt for her, you wanted to stand up for her and fight for her. Shove those bullies around and give them a taste of their own medicine! You understand her struggle and you understand the times when she just wants to let go and wrap her fingers around someone else. Her motives and decisions were made with conviction and pure passion. You felt her true pain and torment and I know I wanted nothing more than to be her best friend! To be someone that could help her! 

Hayden Cromwell
I seriously want to read this book over and over again! I have had this book on my mind and my TBR pile for the longest time. It drew me in the second I laid my eyes on it and it did not disappoint! I consider this to be JLA mild (like Taco Bell sauce). Where Obsidian was a true fire sauce, and Half-Blood is a tantalizing hot, Cursed is a wonderful mild, bringing tantalizing heat and flavor the literature world. This book truly shines in telling Ember’s heartache. I have never read a book where I truly felt the main character’s pain, absolute pure pain. 

Now this book isn’t all heartache and bad bullies. There is chemistry too. Oooooooo sweet honey suckle is there chemistry!!!! Hayden is well… oh he is your typical JLA man candy. Tall, dark, brooding and all around hottie with a heart of gold, plated in platinum! He fills these pages with mystery and chemistry. There is so much between Ember and Hayden and you never know where it is going to go! And no love is easy. His dad’s interest in the McWilliams girls complicates their relationship and Ember’s no touch policy makes their relationship difficult. But Hayden sees beneath Ember’s scars and killer touch and he is determined to love Ember and make her love and embrace herself. This is his shining personality trait. And only Jennifer can write a scene where two people are kissing without touching each other and still get you all hot and bothered! 
“What are you doing?” he asked. Since I was eye-level with his chest I was, well, staring at his chest. And it didn’t take much for me to picture that chest naked. The image was forever burned in my memory.Wow. ~ARC p. 153 
Make a wish...
And I can’t forget to mention the other people, the twins: Phoebe and Parker, best friend: Adam (excuse my heart while is breaks) and Kurt and Gabe (talk about hunkie mean older brothers!). A perfectly rounded group of characters to complement Ember’s story. You can guess and try to decipher what is going on, but you will never know till the very last page. Jennifer’s gift is her ability to compel you into her story. The mystery will keep you on your toes, the action will make your heart race and the romance will make your body swelter. 

If you love romance, you will love Ember’s and Hayden’s tale. If you love action, you will love to lace up your sneakers and run with Ember. If you love mystery, you will love to break out your CSI skills and try to figure out what is happening to Ember. And most of all, if you love just a damn good book that you can’t put down and refuse to part with (even to pee and eat) you will love Cursed. 

I twisted around, spotting Hayden in the doorway. “Watching the…uh,” I turned back, frowning at the screen, “the…way tigers mate.” I sighed. Damn you, Discovery Channel. 
He chuckled deep in his throat. “Didn’t know that kind of thing interested you.” 
“Oh. Yeah, always wanted to know how they picked their boyfriends.” ~ARC p. 105


  1. Love your Cursed review Tara!! Makes me want to read it NOW!

  2. Love your review:) I want to read this book myself now:)

  3. What a beautiful review! I've just added this to my "to read" list on Goodreads. Thanks for the insight! : )

  4. Sounds great! It reminds me of Shatter Me, with the lethal touch and all

  5. Love!
    So ready to get my hands on this book!
    And I loved how you gave us depth into Ember's character! She sounds amazing!
    Also enjoyed how you compared JLA's books to Taco Bell sauce!
    JLA is a wonderful author and I know this book will be amazing!

    Great review :)

    Magen Corrie
    ~Corrie the book, crazed girl

  6. Loved this book! So glad you did too!


  7. That last teaser cracked me up! Great review!

  8. What a fantastic premise. I will be downloading this one in september!


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