Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And she does it again!

My friends know that I was high on Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers series. It was a great paranormal series about a group of kids who found out they were apart of an experiment giving them paranormal powers. However, their powers were mutated and these four have powers beyond what the experimenters, including Dr. Davidoff, could imagine. Chloe, Simon, Tori, and Derek discover the truth, escape from captive, and go on a search for Simon and Derek's father. I absolutely loved this series. It did not have a teeny bopper feel to it, and the powers they had were different. Chloe's a necromancer, which was such a different idea that I was intrigued. The adventures, the friendships, and the trouble they encounter forced me to continue reading. I picked up this series after I finished Mockingjay. Yea, The Hunger Games is a hard series to follow, especially because of how exhausted I was at the end of the journey, but luckily Armstrong's series was not a let down. I had bought the first book months before because I thought it would be a nice filler, but after reading the first half I became obsessed. I immediately bough the second, and I ordered the third in paperback. I am looking forward to revisiting these book.
Armstrong's spin off series: Darkness Rising begins with The Gathering. Maya is Native American and adopted by her animal loving parents. All is quiet in Salmon Creek, Canada where the closest mall is an hour drive from the town. Quiet it may be, the town still has many mysterious, including the one about why Dr. Davidoff appears every few months to test the teenagers on their health. When Maya's best friend, Serena, drowns in the lake, most rule it out as an accident. But there is something suspicious about a first class swimmer mysteriously drowning. There's also something different about Maya and how she can mysteriously heal and "feel" animals. Maybe it has something to do with her paw print birthmark. As the story goes on Maya encounter Rafe, the new kid in town, who seems to have an interesting background himself. Although Maya doesn't trust him at first, he helps her to discover something about her past she wished she never knew. Along with her best friend, Daniel, Maya begins to unravel missing information about the town that could be linked to Serena's death.
I read this book extremely quickly because I do love Armstrong's writing. I really liked how she tied the doctor into this book. Even though Davidoff never shows up, he is mentioned enough that you find commonalities between the four characters in the previous series. It almost makes you wonder if the characters will find each other. The mystery behind the drowning plays a big role towards the end of the novel. I found myself going on the hunt with Daniel and Maya and wanting so badly to figure out who the hell is behind the lies and cover up. The second per usual, is out in April. :p. I am really hoping Maya and Daniel become an item...they've been friends forever, and come on, what's a bigger turn on than a guy who is constantly looking to protect you and keep you happy? Hello!?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Werewolves of Mercy Falls

I admit, it did take me a while to sit down and read this trilogy, but not because it was not truly an amazing story. None of my co-workers had read the series, so I guess you can say I was unaware that it even existed. I actually discovered it on a friend's blog because she listed it as a favorite teen read. I did a little reading up on the novels and discovered they were, apparently, the new emerging teen craze. As mentioned in an earlier post, and as I am sure those following can tell, I am not a fan of this whole Twilight, sparkly vampire craze. I work in a middle school and because I basically live at the library, I know that these books were not spoken about much among teen girls. You know what's new? Pretty Little Prostitutes...or Liars, same difference. I feel like the Mercy Falls Trilogy is forgotten, or simply a diamond in the rough. Here is why it is a must read even for adults who enjoy teen reads:
Shiver centers around Grace, who is seventeen, and lives with parents who are more like roommates to her. She is obsessed with the wolves who are outside her window in the woods, and she feels a connection to them. Sam shows up on her doorstep with the same eyes 'her wolf' has. She soon discovers they are the same. Sam shifts into a wolf in the winter because of the cold, but his natural form, the one he prefers, is human. Throughout the novel, Grace and Sam develop a love people can only dream about. This is the story of Sam's life as a wolf and his fight to pick up the pieces of his broken past to hopefully have a chance at a normal human life. It is also about Grace's struggle to keep this secret, discover more about the lives of the werewolves, and her fight to keep the one thing she truly loves close.
Linger picks up a few months later. Sam has family issues that he is dealing with, but his adoptive father, Beck, is not like most parents. Beck is a wolf too, but now he is unable to transform back to human. Before he changed, Beck was able to find new individuals that agreed to be wolves. The only way to chose this way of life is to be bitten and infected with the wolf. Without Beck's guidance, Sam is left on his own to take on these responsibilities. In addition, Grace has been falling ill, but no one seems to understand why, and Isabel's father has determined that he is going to destroy the wolves that destroyed his son.  Forever takes place two months later answering the questions readers are dying to know. What is wrong with Grace? Will Isabel's dad prevail in his plan of destruction? Can Sam take on the responsibilities to lead the pack and keep Grace safe at the same time?
What I liked the most about the series is that the characters and their emotions were so real, it made the story feel real. The love Grace and Sam share is so pure and passionate that everyone wishes they had it. Sam is always willing to express his love and affection for Grace, and even though she feels the same as him, she is more reserved with her words. That is how love works. It was great to have an author so aware that even though their love is so pure and unbreakable, the two do have different ways of portraying it. It was also nice to have different points of view besides Grace and Sam.
In Linger we are introduced to Isabel and Cole as narrators. Isabel is so cynical and sarcastic. She is quite a firecracker, and it almost seems like Grace and her don't fit together as friends. However, Grace seems to be Isabel's balance. The third book revealed how trapped Isabel feels beneath her "hot blond" exterior. She's alone, and she is forced to keep the secret of what actually caused her brother's death. Her family is far from perfect, but constantly battling her father's obsession takes its toll on her emotionally. She wants to be loved, but refuses to take down the wall keeping everyone out.
Cole turned out to be my favorite character. He is battling his inner demons, but he's so casual and humorous on the outside. Inside he feels as though he is already dead. He chose this path because he couldn't follow in his father's footsteps, he was addicted to drugs, and the thought of suicide was never far behind. The problem is: shifting doesn't happen for long, and he isn't sure why. All he wants is to be a wolf and leave his human life behind, but it seems that is going to be harder than expected.
Just as Grace balances Isabel, Cole's chaotic personality seems to balance Sam. As the novels go on, readers discover Cole's past, and you also see that Cole has hidden talents that prove to be helpful in the most horrible situations. I feel I saw Cole grow and come into his own in the last book. Plus, how can you not root for the badly bruised guy to get the girl and come out on top?
This series is a must read. The three books compliment each other, and I really did not feel a moment of down time. I think having the book from four people's perspectives helps get all the different stories across. The personalities of all four compromise each other. They are all broken somehow, and these novels show growth in each of them. The trilogy intertwines these four stories and make it impossible to not grow some attachment to at least one of the characters.

Shorty I can take you there

Maybe it's just me, but every time I see this book title I immediately think of Sean Kingston's Take You There. Again, could be just a me thing. :p
Finished Take Me There by Carolee Dean and felt it was worthy of a blog post. The book was published last year, but because I was browsing shelfari randomly (insert nerd joke here) I stumbled upon this book by accident. By the description on the back I assumed it was one of those dark and mysterious wannabe books about a kid who is messed up, finds a girl, falls in love, and drastically changes everything to be with her. Although there is some truth in that, the book is definitely worth a second glance.

Dylan has a broken family. His father is on death row in Texas for murder, his mother is an alcoholic who constantly plays the helpless victim, and Dylan just can't stay out of trouble. He failed to finish high school and spent some time in juvie. Juvie was an experience Dylan would rather not repeat, considering he and his best friend, Wade, were almost killed. He decided he needed to get his life on track and try to start over.
After leaving Texas, Dylan never expected to see Jess again. But when she comes into the mechanic shop, he can't help feeling he's in a dream. Jess is too good for him, he knows that, but there is something about her that is intoxicating. He would give anything to be with her and be apart of her future.
However, a 'bad boy' can never really stay out of trouble for long. Dylan is forced to hit the road and leave everything he dreams of behind. On this journey out of California, Dylan decides now is the time for unfinished business to be handled and questions to be answered. Once faced with his past, he realizes that perhaps the questions he was asking were the wrong ones. Maybe it was better to leave the past behind.
This story is a great coming of age journey. The reader is taken through the main character's thoughts, but it almost seemed like everything around me melted away and I was in Dylan's world. I could feel his struggle with staying sober and remaining on good terms with his parole officer, and I felt the way his heart was breaking when he decided he had no choice but to abandon his dream filled future. Dylan eventually visits his father in prison, which begins to stir old memories, but also brings about more problems. This story really was able to show Dylan's growth from the beginning of the novel. The decisions he made forced different outcomes; some outcomes brought tear jerking results. The ending was a surprise; it was not at all what you would expect. But, I feel it does fit. Even though a lot of things happened a little too coincidentally, the ending did not reflect a typical happy go lucky teen romance novel. Not all stories can have happily ever afters, and this novel was definitely a good dose of reality.
Take Me There is definitely a novel for mature audiences. Had I known about this book before I would have easily recommended this to some of my eighth grade boys who were in a constant struggle with themselves. Dylan is a character teenage boys can relate to easily, but also the novel gives a little peek at what prison life is.
It is a quick read, but enjoyable if you have a moment. In short, the story is about a young boy who is struggling to find himself, which most of us can relate to. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Is love worth the risk?

Wolves appear to be the new craze, BUT the stories are more clever than our friends who are into sparkly vampires.
I read the first of the Nightshade series before the book even surfaced thanks to a few superheroes who attended the book expo in New York. The story stars Calla, who is the Alpha Guardian of her pack. Her and the rest of the Guardians have the ability to shape shift into wolves. It's not a werewolf, silver bullet, full moon wolf at all. These wolves are made to serve the Keepers, who control everything. Calla is to be married to the Bane Alpha, Ren, on her eighteenth birthday and begin a new pack. Up to this point, she has accepted everything. Ren and his pack are slowly beginning to mingle with hers, so why should she be worried? Then there was Shay. Shay is bleeding to death on a mountain as Calla comes across him on her patrol. Calla saves him. Each time she encounters Shay he seems to take the breath out of her. What is it about this human boy that is causing her to question her beliefs? As her story continues, Calla discover many secrets hidden beneath her pack's past. She eventually has to make a choice that could put herself, Shay, and her entire pack in harm's way.
This book was ridiculously good! The writing was very clever, and each turn of the page was something new. The shape shifting idea gave way to a fantastic story about a group of different individuals with different abilities. The story is not a new Twilight, but an emerging story about a society where expectations are made in order to appease the Keepers. It is a story of forbidden love and the risks one individual goes through in order to discover the past and save her pack. Loved this book.
I finished the sequel: Wolfsbane yesterday. This time, I had to wait to read it. :( But it proved to be a great journey as well. This story picks up where it left us. The interesting thing is this book takes place in three days. It sounds like it would be drawn out, but the amount of detail, character development, and action crammed into these three days makes it appear longer. New characters emerge, old ones resurface, and new challenges are met. Calla must, once again, make choices, rediscover the history behind this war, and reunite with her pack. But, did she make the right decision? The thing I liked about this book was it gave you a recap of the first without making it long and boring. I had read Nightshade in September, so I didn't remember details, but Cremer did a nice job of retelling so you were aware of your surroundings. But she didn't drag on for chapters about how the other book ended, the characters, etc.
The final in the series: Bloodrose comes out in February. Not quite as long as the sequel took, but still long enough to annoy me. I finished Wolfsbane then immediately checked her website to see when the final book would be out. Why can't authors just know that I will immediately want to read the next book in the series? Therefore, they should STOP tweeting about their cats and CONTINUE writing their books?! OR release the gosh darn book already!!! Ugh.
And how could I forget the covers? I am such a cover nerd, but these are pretty. I have to say I liked the hardcover to Nightshade better than the paperback. Pretty, with just a little sparkle. No, not like Edward. That would be nauseating.