Kelley Armstrong Photobombed Me

The one and only Kelley Armstrong during her Q&A

The one and only Kelley Armstrong during her Q&A

Well, not really.  Not intentionally, it just looked like a photobomb.  Sorta.  So it doesn’t count.  But whatever.  I’ll get to that.

Kelley Armstrong is one of my favourite authors.  I have reviewed some of her books on this blog here, here, and here.  I love her style of writing, I love her characters.  I have read almost all of her novels and novellas both for adults and young adults, and enjoyed each one.  The fact that she is from the London, Ontario area is very cool to me as well.

Naturally, when I heard from my bestest Jolene that Kelley Armstrong was going to be doing a book signing and a pre-release event for her latest book Sea of Shadows where you could meet her and have her sign the book for you 3 days before it comes out, I was in.  Especially when I found out that it was as close as Brampton, ON.  Okay, at first I thought it was in Burlington, not Brampton.  But that’s a long, not very interesting story that doesn’t really bring anything to this story, so I won’t expand on that.

So I got an e-mail from Jolene a few weeks ago, telling me that Kelley Armstrong was going to be in Brampton, because she knows that I like her books a lot.  I immediately asked her if she was free and wanted to meet me there.  A true testament to what an amazing friend she is: she didn’t hesitate to agree to drive over an hour to meet me and stand in line with me to wait for an author she has never read, and probably never will read, as it is a genre that she has no interest in.  I also called my good buddy Karen, who I have to credit with introducing me to Kelley’s books in the first place.  She was in too.  I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I have awesome friends. 🙂

We had an awesome day, got to meet Kelley Armstrong (who is charming as all heck), and got to spend time with two of my dearest friends.  We had a lovely lunch, and we had a great time with lots of laughs.

If you’re into the supernatural at all, both adult fiction and YA, be sure to check out Kelley Armstrong’s books.  She has created an awesome world and characters you fall in love with.  Start with the 13 books in the Otherworld series.  Bitten is the first one.  That’s a good place to start.

Waiting in line

Waiting in line

Meeting a favourite

Meeting a favourite

Sadly, the only pic of Jolene from the day.  She was taking them all!

Sadly, the only pic of Jolene from the day. She was taking them all!

Doesn't it look like she photobombed me?  Maybe?  A little?

Doesn’t it look like she photobombed me? Maybe? A little?

Thirteen – Book Review

I am a huge fan of Kelley Armstrong. I’ve reviewed a few of her books here, and have never been disappointed with anything she’s done.  I’ve read her YA books, but by far, my favourite of her books are her Women of the Otherworld series.  This series started with a story about a female werewolf, Elena Michaels – in Bitten.  This series has it ALL.  Basically all supernatural types are featured throughout this series – werewolves, witches, sorcerers, vampires, demons, half demons, necromancers, zombies, ghosts, angels…you name it.

Thirteen is the latest and final installment of the Otherworld series. I was disappointed to hear that it was going to be ending, but I suppose it had to happen sooner or later.

The thing I liked most about this whole series is that it centered around strong, powerful, independent women.  The other cool thing about it is the men they choose.  Pretty much without exception, they choose equally strong men, who support them and work along side them, as opposed to trying to hold them back and oppress them.

The thing that I liked most about Thirteen in particular, is that we get a full ensemble cast.  All the favourites from the past installments were there.  I was thrilled to see Elena and Clayton, Jamie and Jeremy, Paige and Lucas, Eve and Kristoff, Hope and Karl, and of course, Savannah and Adam.

The supernatural world is at war.  Those who want to out the supernaturals, let everyone know about them, that think they will be free from hiding, that their offspring will have a better life if they are out in the open.  This of course is ridiculous for several reasons.  The interracial council and the cabals find themselves with a common goal, which doesn’t happen very often.  We even get a little insight into Lucifer, and you may be surprised as to how he is depicted.

This book, as the previous two before it, was told from the point of view of Savannah.  I think Kelley Armstrong always planned to have a trilogy within a series type of thing with Savannah in the centre as the final part of this series.  There is a chapter from Elena, as well as one from Paige, which is also very cool.

Any fans of the series I think will not be disappointed with this book.  It ties everything up nicely, and fulfills any need to know how characters are doing, and where they will end up.  I’m sad the series is over, but excited to see what Armstrong will come up with next.

Bloodlines & The Golden Lily – Book Reviews

If you read my previous blog entry about the Vampire Academy books by Richelle Mead, you’ll know I’m a fan.  I was very happy to learn that there was indeed a spinoff planned of these books.  The Bloodlines Series started with Bloodlines, and continued with The Golden Lily.  The Indigo Spell is due out in February of 2013.

You don’t totally have to have read the Vampire Academy books to understand this series, but it certainly helps.  Many things are written as though it is implied that the reader has read the previous series.

Bloodlines is basically the story of Alchemist Sydney Sage.  If you read the VA books, you’ll recognize her as one of the people who aided Rose in her quest.  The story picks up a little while after the VA books leave off, and we are re-united with Sydney, who is somewhat suffering the consequences of her involvement in aiding a fugitive.

She is recruited by the Alchemists to go on a mission to keep Jill Dragomir (Lissa’s half sister) safe from the ones who are trying to kill her.  Lissa’s reign as Queen of the Moroi is only valid as long as she has a living relative.  Trying to kill a queen is tough work, so the rebels are going after her sister Jill, who is more vulnerable, and in killing her they basically achieve the same thing: removing Lissa from the throne.

So Sydney is posing as Lissa’s sister at a totally human school under complete secrecy.  We get to see many others from the VA series as more central characters in this series.  Aside from Sydney, we have Eddie and Adrian, and even Sonia and Dmitri play supporting rolls.  There is even a cameo appearance near the beginning from Rose herself.  Those who read and enjoyed VA will appreciate that.

These books are kind of the same as VA, but very different in some ways too.  Our heroine is very different.  With Rose, we had a badass, ass kicking, brave, impulsive heroine.  Sydney has her own style, and though she is very intelligent, and brave as well, she certainly goes about life more differently and more responsibly.

I liked these books.  I will have to wait to pass my full judgment until I read farther into the series, obviously.  They move a little slower, and spend a lot of time building up the characters and giving insight into them.  Sydney can be extremely frustrating at times as she has literally no dating experience and is completely oblivious to the world of love and dating.  As an Alchemist, she also has several prejudices against vampires that have been ingrained in her since she was little.  She literally has a physical reaction to the use of magic.  She is certainly more tolerant of vampires and damphirs than most of the rest of her kind.  She considers them friends and allies, and shares her life with them, above and beyond her mission to protect Jill.  But those prejudices are there, and though I hope she shakes them as she continues throughout this series, I imagine that will take some time and will cause much more frustration for the reader as she does.  She is already starting to see many things about her kind that are disturbing to her, and making her question the foundation upon which her life has been built.

These books have everything.  A bit of action, a bit of magic, some romance, friendship, you name it.  Adrian plays a large role, as I loved him in the other books.  I didn’t love him for Rose, as I am a huge fan of Dmitri and believe that they are totally right together.  But he is still a wonderful and very misunderstood character, and from what I can see, I think he will finally get a chance to really shine in these books.

Overall, if you like this kind of thing, definitely read these.  I’m looking forward to the rest.  I had heard somewhere I think that there were six planned, but I’m not 100% sure about that.  I hope there is, because there are a lot of directions this story can go.

Until the next one… 🙂

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Book Review

I’m walking through Chapters one day with a very dear friend of mine, who just happens to not only share my love of books and reading, but also shares my love of young adult fiction, fantasy, Harry Potter, Hunger Games and the like.  Great girl, she is.  We’re browsing through the stacks and she points out this book to me: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith.  I’m very open minded when it comes to books, but when I saw this one, I had to admit, I was taken aback.  Especially since next to it on the shelf were several copies of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I felt a bit like I had entered the Twilight Zone.  She assured me though, that it was awesome, so trusting her as always, I purchased it.

It sat on my shelf for a while.  I wanted to read it.  It held appeal, for three reasons mostly – the sheer oddness of the title, the fact that it had vampires in it, and that Karen had recommended it to me.  But I never picked it up.

Then we went to see the Hunger Games.  And there was a trailer for the movie that was being released for this book in June.  Karen got quite excited about it, and from looking at the trailer, I thought to myself: I want to see this movie. Well, as I always read the book before seeing the movie, I knew I’d better get cracking, especially if I wanted to see it with her.

This book is kind of a story within a story.  It is told by a narrator, whose story you get a brief explanation of at the beginning.  Without giving away too much, he happens  upon several diaries that were written by none other than Abraham Lincoln.  He is commissioned to write the story of Lincoln’s life, as told through these diaries, not the ones in the history books.  The two are similar, and the main events are true, and obviously Lincoln’s public and political life were documented, but the true motivation behind all of Lincoln’s actions, policies, and drive to abolish slavery were not what you may think.  Actually, it was all about the vampires.

Starting from when he was a young boy, when a vampire took the life of his beloved mother, Abe vowed that he would do whatever he could to rid the earth of as many of these creatures as possible.  This quest shaped his whole life.

To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about Abraham Lincoln, aside from the basics.  This book gave me a good insight, and I often found myself turning to Wikipedia and Google to verify facts and try to figure out what was real and what was fiction.  Whenever I thought of Lincoln before, all I could see in my head was the Abe from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  A far cry from the man presented in the pages of this book – a towering, limber, fast, strong individual who could cut the head off a vampire with relative ease.

I liked this book, but for once, I think I might like the movie better.  I can see how this book will lend itself to a movie in such a way that it may be portrayed better on screen.  If you’re into that type of thing (if there is that type of thing) I recommend it.  It will make you look at this historical figure in a different light, and perhaps learn a few things about him as I did, by reading past the fiction and about the actual events of his life.

 

The Night Circus – Book Review

There has been a lot of hype surrounding The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Tons of reviews saying how wonderful it is, how magical, how unputdownable (is that a word?  It is now).

I really wanted to read this book.  I hate hardcover, and was convinced to wait for the paperback.  I refuse to pay over $9.99 for an e-book of any format.  $4.99 is my usual.  With all the hoopla about this book, you can imagine how happy I was that the price for the kindle version dipped below my spending limit.  $9.96.  Cha-ching!

Now that I had it finally, I needed to read it.  This took me a while.  Or a while for me anyway.  As I stated above, I really wanted this book.  Now that I had it, I really wanted to like it.  Really, I did.

I did like it.  Sort of .

As I said, this book took me a really long time to get into.  Some books are best read large chunks at a time.  It’s easy to forget what you’ve read and lose yourself if you just read small bits, and if there is lots of time in between reads.  This was one of those books.

Okay.  So overall, it’s a story about a circus.  A truly magical circus.  One that is open from dusk until dawn.  The circus is the lifeblood of the story, but really it is merely a backdrop for a relationship between two people, Celia and Marco.  Bound together and yet against each other in a magical competition of sorts.  Neither of them really know the full details of the competition, what the outcome could be, even that they were competing against each other at first.  So what happens when the whole thing comes to light and they realize that one must win, and the other….well, never mind.  What happens?  They fall in love of course.

The plot of this book takes a while to get going, and even once it does, doesn’t really speed along at all.  The secondary stories about the supporting characters are interesting, and charming at times, as well as slightly disturbing.  The circus becomes an object of obsession for many, startlingly so for some.

Do I recommend this to everyone?  No.  To some?  Yes.  I have friends that I know would love it.  Others that I know would hate it.  It is definitely magical.  Definitely dark at times.  The circus is described as being black, white, and a million different shades of grey.  The book is like this, only there are bright splashes of colour every now and then, often in clothing that people are wearing, in brief, bright descriptions.  I really do feel though that this is one of those books that is trying to be dark, trying to be artsy and different, and though it succeeds, it doesn’t come as effortlessly as perhaps the author hoped it would.

Overall, 3/5 stars.  I liked it.  Sort of.

Men of the Otherworld – Book Review

Last night I finished reading “Men of the Otherworld” by Kelley Armstrong.  I want to preface this by saying that I have already read books 1-10 of the “Women of the Otherworld” series.  I love all these books and how they depict the women in them as strong, intelligent, and resourceful.

The men obviously play an important role in the other books, but only as how they are related to the women.  We hear little bits of their stories, of their pasts, but none of the true meat of it, and always as told by the women in the story….with the exception of Lucas, who has that sexy geek thing down to a science and whose story is also quite interesting and I’d love to hear more about him – hopefully in further books.

This story begins with Jeremy – the current Alpha of the American werewolves.  You don’t know much about his story from the other books.  This gives you an insight as to what the pack was like under a different Alpha, and of how completely different Jeremy is from his father – Malcolm.  We learn the circumstances surrounding Jeremy’s conception, and see his mother for the first time.

The bulk of this story is about Clayton, and the tale of his “childhood,” though really only from the bite onwards.  It’s as though his pre-bitten life didn’t exist.  This is an interesting story, especially told from Clay’s point of view.  He has an interesting mind and way of looking at things.  And apparently, complete obliviousness as to how completely gorgeous he is.  You get an insight of the true relationship between Clayton and Jeremy, and realize that considering Clayton’s state of mind when he was discovered by the Pack, there truly would never be anyone as suited as Jeremy to remove Clay from his wilderness home, civilize and raise him.

The book covers Jeremy’s rise to power as Alpha and cuts off pretty much right before he meets Elena.  It then jumps ahead to present day.

The POV switches and Jeremy is the voice now.  I won’t say much, only that I hope that the last tale in the book, with Jeremy and Jamie is a precursor to a future tale, where Jeremy can hopefully find out more about the other side of his parentage, his mother.

Overall, an excellent read, especially for those Women of the Underworld fans who agree with me that the werewolf tales concerning Elena and Clay et al are the best and most exciting in the series.

As these stories go – 5/5 stars.