Sea of Shadows

Kelley Armstrong has created an exciting fantasy world in Sea of Shadows. The first couple of chapters lagged a bit but by midway through the book I was completely hooked.

The twins are strong female characters with very different strengths. Moira is tough, brave and bold- a character that will be loved by girls who admired Merida the most out of the Disney princesses. Not that this is novel is Disney-esk. In fact, it’s often grotesque with gruesome death, scary monsters, and suspense.

Ashyn is intelligent and sweet, although a tad too naive for her age. She lives in her powerful sister’s shadow but isn’t spiteful about it.

The action is well done. Mythical beasts that are a nightmarish cross between fairy tale creatures and monsters from a horror movie.

The only thing that disappointed me was that the novel does not stand alone. I’m happy it’s a series because I want to experience more of this strange world and the wonderful characters in it, but I don’t like that it’s a cliffhanger. It would be great to have a series where everything was connected but each book left you with a sense of completion.

I think the undertones of class struggle and prejudice will be explored further in the sequel.

The Calling

This is the sequel to The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong, so go read the first book before my review or there will be spoilers.

The Calling was everything one can hope for in a YA paranormal series.

  • It has a strong female character whom fights to survive and protect her friends.
  • It has action and suspense
  • It has chemistry between characters

Many of the things that were hinted at in The Gathering become more clear and some of the questions are answered. I find the middle books in Armstrong’s series’s to be less strong than the introductions and conclusions but they are enjoyable none the less. It looks like the end of this series will be a mash up with her other popular series that began with The Summoning so I highly recommend that fans read that trilogy in preparation for the next book.

 

 

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong has wowed me once again with her novel The Gathering. Only a talented author such as herself can weave so much substance into a YA paranormal novel. The main plot is a supernatural thriller story rooted in Native American (& Canadian) folklore. The action is steady, and the tone is dark – with the death of a teen in the first chapter. The novel captured my attention from the beginning and never faltered. The characterization was strong for such an ensemble cast, with everyone having a little more depth than you often see in minor characters. Maya is a narrator that young girls will relate to, and guys will respect. I love that Armstrong is contributing another strong female character to the literary world, someone I think parents will approve of as a role model.

Prejudice is a prevailing theme of the novel. People are discriminated against or stereotyped for being native, newcomers, or tourists. Even the good characters fall into these misconceptions, but Armstrong’s stance against discrimination is clear. Alcoholism and poor parenting are also touched on in a thought provoking manner, but I’m disappointed in the characters for not dealing with this situation better. I was glad that despite other examples of unhealthy families in the novel Maya had well rounded, supportive parents that felt real. I read a blog post recently about how few GOOD parents get much attention in YA and I think hers are well written.

The challenges of male/female friendship, survivor’s guilt, date rape drugs ,and a number of other issues add a gritty reality to the paranormal tale.

I enjoyed that the novel was very clearly Canadian. As a nominee for the Canadian Library Association book award, I think having a Canadian setting is a point in it’s favour.

For more by Kelley Armstrong see my review of The Summoning

End of 2010 Survey!

The Perpetual Page Turner is hosting this survey. Go to her blog to link to the responses by tons of bloggers.

White Cat (Curse Workers, #1)1. Best book of 2010? This is hard! Since there are so many great books I’m going to interpret this as: best YA book published in 2010 to narrow it down. Holly Black’s White Cat was pretty incredible. It has action, mystery and suspense, not to mention character depth and all around awesomeness. I’m picking this book because it’s not just something I loved myself, it’s one that I confidently recommended to my younger brother, my mother and my friends. It is very rare that I think a book would appeal to all of them but Holly Black’s writing will be appreciated by a variety of audiences.

Dateable Rules, The: A Guide to the Sexes2. Worst book of 2010? I’m not usually a book basher, but there was this really terrible book I picked up at work. Dateable Rules, The: A Guide to the Sexes was really awful. At first I thought it looked pretty cool, but um no on closer inspection it’s incredibly sexist and makes me angry. According to this book men need to “conquer” and be in power in the relationship, and women need to “learn to shut up”. The fact that I disagreed with the religious nonsense just added to my general dislike of the book.

linger cover art3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010?  I was most disappointed with Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. I loved Shiver so much that I over-anticipated the sequel. It’s not that it was terrible, it just didn’t live up to the hype in my mind. I’ll still read the next book in the series but my expectations have gone down a few notches.

Generation Dead (Generation Dead, #1)4. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010? I was most surprised by Generation Dead. I forced myself to read a zombie book (I’m quite squeamish) because I was TRYING to have a zombie night at the library for teens (no one showed up but that’s a different story). I was pleasantly surprised by Daniel Waters! His book is a beautiful social commentary about discrimination, and I found myself loving the zombies and their friends. The book I was dreading turned out to my one of my favourites, and I’ve been recommending it a lot.

5. Book you recommended to people most in 2010? I have a hard time answering this because I recommend things every day, at work, to friends, on the blog…I’be probably promoted Scaredy Squirrel the most but that’s not YA. My recommendations really depend on how I’m recommending it to.

The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset
6. Best series you discovered in 2010? The Hunger Games trilogy! I can’t believe I resisted reading it for so long. Everyone kept telling me to read it and I was like “kids killing each other? Ick!”  because I thought it was just violence for violence’s sake. Once I realized that Collins is critiquing violence, reality tv, and oppressive governments, I was all in. I love dystopia and social commentary. Plus there’s tons of suspenseful action, Katniss kicks butt and Peeta is a sweetie, how could you not love the series?

7. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010? Suzanne Collins, Daniel Waters, Gemma Malley, Kelley Armstrong, Holly Black, Kim Harrison, Simone Elkeles….

8. Most hilarious read of 2010?  The Feegles in The Wintersmith had me laughing pretty hard.

9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010?  The Hunger Games trilogy. I read it in 4 days and it would have been less if I didn’t have to wait to get the next book.

10. Book you most anticipated in 2010? I think it was Linger but I mentioned earlier how that worked out.

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010?


nightshade cover links to reviewRules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry, #2)Sisters Red cover art

12. Most memorable character in 2010?  I was most struck by Cassel from White Cat, Chloe from the Summoning and Haymitch from Hunger Games but so many more characters touched me this year

 13. Most beautifully written book in 2010? I love the Scottish and formal language of The Forest Laird. Laini Taylor’s Lips Touch Three Times was pretty poetic.

14. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010? Most books have a pretty big impact on me, I don’t think I can choose.

 
15. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read?  The Hunger GamesI’ve already explained why

 Book Blogging in 2010 (optional)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2010? To be honest I just started really following any blogs in 2010. Jan 2010 my friend Erin opened my eyes to book blogs and I’ve been eating them up ever since. Some of my favourites are The Green Bean Teen Queen, Forever Young Adult, The Story Siren, Pure Imagination, and YA Bliss. I’ve also been reading Mark Reads  every day and he’s a good one to follow for a specific book but he has less variety.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2010?  I liked reviewing The Resistance, Generation Dead, and Sisters Red (I have a lot of trouble deciding)

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?  I wrote a post about why sometimes reading formulaic books is reassuring. I unfortunately haven’t had enough people commenting to work up a good discussion between people. It’s something I’d like to have next year.

 4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog? I really enjoy the discussions on the Forever Young Adult blog. They manage to be hilarious but bring up serious issues at the same time. For example their post about resolutions that makes some good points about changes I’d like to see in YA writing/publishing but is laugh out loud funny.

 

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? The Ontario Library Association Super Conference was amazing. It was my first conference and I was thrilled just to be on the expo floor getting autographed books, fighting stormtroopers and learning about new technology. That I got to go to informative sessions beyond that blew my mind. I can’t wait for more conferences.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2010? This is all really new to me and I’m pretty easily excited, so I have trouble picking a specific moment.

7. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? Um I’m gonna go with book trailers, I don’t think I knew about them in 2009 and they are a great way to promote books. I also love my new Kobo.

Awesome Author Tour

Have you heard about the Smart Chicks Kick It author tour? It looks incredible!

Kelley Armstrong and Holly Black are two of my favourite YA authors (authors in general really…) and to hear about events with both of them warms my booklover heart.

Melissa Marr and Alyson Noel, the other two headliners for the tour have been on my to-read list for quite some time.

Other big names like Melissa De La Cruz and Jackson Pearce will be at select events.

The downside is there is only one Canadian stop and I can’t make it 😦

September 25th, 2010 2 PM @ CHAPTERS BRAMPTON (52 Quarry Edge Drive) Brampton, ON
Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Melissa de la Cruz, Jeri Smith-Ready, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

The Awakening & The Reckoning

cover art of the reckoningI recently read my (autographed 🙂 ) copies of Kelley Armstrongs novels the Awakening and the Reckoning and they were great! 

 They were not quite as insightful as the first book in the series, because there were less parallels between supernatural abilities and mental illnesses.

 I enjoyed the action and the chemistry between characters. I recommend both novels, and am happy I waited an hour and half to meet Kelley Armstrong.