Review: The Rising by Kelley Armstrong

Review: The Rising by Kelley ArmstrongThe Rising by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkness Rising #3
Published by ATOM
Pages: 406
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: The Gathering

Things are getting desperate for Maya and her friends. Hunted by the powerful St. Clouds and now a rival Cabal as well, they're quickly running out of places to hide. And with the whole world thinking they died in a helicopter crash, it's not like they can just go to the authorities for help.

All they have is the name and number of someone who might be able to give them a few answers. Answers to why they're so valuable, and why their supernatural powers are getting more and more out of control.

But Maya is unprepared for the truths that await her. And now, like it or not, she'll have to face down some demons from her past if she ever hopes to move on with her life. Because Maya can't keep running forever.

Thoughts: I’d been looking forward to The Rising for 4 years; I kid you not. Back in 2009, when I met Kelley at one of her rare UK signings, she said she’d be bringing together the characters from the Darkest Powers series with those from her new trilogy. As the “Biggest. Fan. EVA.” of Darkest Powers, this was pretty much the best news I could have heard.

So, not meeting Chloe, Derek and the rest of the gang until the last 100 pages? That was a complete let down. I wanted to see how Maya and the gang interacted, but what we saw was minimal (I think there were about 30 pages of real dialogue) else only referenced to (“Chloe and I talked about X, and decided Y”). Those few interactions were brilliant, but there was nowhere near enough. Fail.

As for the rest of the book? Well, it felt a bit unfocussed. Unlike The Gathering – which introduced the characters and revealed that “All Is Not Well.” – and The Calling – which was the action-packed, we’re-on-the-run book – this final book had no real focus. I guess I could say The Rising was the “Let’s all be reasonable adults and be boring” book… so yeah, not much fun. This all culminated into a series ending which I found rather unsatisfying. It was logically the best way to wrap up the books, but at the same time it managed to undermine almost everything that the kids had fought for. So, logical? Yes. Satisfying? Nope.

Same went for the love triangle in this novel. First off, I felt like the triangle aspect pretty much came out of nowhere. Second, unlike the Derek/Chloe/Simon resolution, I had no die-hard favourites in the race. I would have been happy if she’d pulled a Lilith St.Crow and left us without a resolution.

On the plus side: it’s still Kelley Armstrong. The Rising is tightly written, and fits a mammoth amount of character development and plot into its 400 pages. Not to mention it has Chloe, Derek, Simon and Tori in it – which alone is enough to give the book a read!

Bottom line: Even when Kelley Armstrong is disappointing, she’s still rather brilliant. I finished The Rising in a day and was – on the whole – happy with how she decided to end her YA series.

Review: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Review: Bitten by Kelley ArmstrongBitten by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Women of the Otherworld #1
Published by Orbit
Pages: 448
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Elena Michaels is your regular twenty-first-century girl: self-assured, smart and fighting fit. She also just happens to be the only female werewolf in the world...

It has some good points. When she walks down a dark alleyway, she's the scary one. But now her Pack - the one she abandoned so that she could live a normal life - are in trouble, and they need her help. Is she willing to risk her life to help the ex-lover who betrayed her by turning her into a werewolf in the first place? And, more to the point, does she have a choice?

Thoughts: I’ve had Bitten on my shelves for a couple of years now and, despite my ardent love for Kelley Armstrong, I had trouble picking it up. This was partly because I had heard so many good things about the book but – if I’m completely honest – it had more to do with the book itself. Because for all the great reviews out there, there were also a number of reviews that were highly critical of Clay, one of the central characters. And after reading the summary of Bitten, I couldn’t blame them. This man chose to infect the love-of-his-life against her will… how could I ever like him?

So that was my main worry going into Bitten… but in the end, my read trouble was with Elena. While I could readily accept her leaving Clay after what he had done – she never really did. Instead she kinda strung him along… and that’s just not nice. The only thing that made me forgive her was the fact that she is monstrously screwed up. She was orphaned at a young age, sexually and emotionally abused growing up, and then turned into a werewolf against her will. These aren’t the sorts of experiences that leave you unscarred. But still, given that Bitten takes place 10 years after she was bitten, I think Elena had been given enough time to get her act sorted out.

Clay, on the other hand, was fantastic. I mean, I wouldn’t actually want to meet the man out of fear for my life, but I still adored him. I had heard him described as an older version of Derek (from her Darkest Powers series) – and that’d be correct with one amendment: Clay has no “human” conscience. He doesn’t do things because they are the right thing to do, instead he’ll do whatever he must in order to protect his pack. That includes the disemboweling of innocents (no, that doesn’t happen in Bitten, but I would never put it past him).

As you might have imagined, there is an insane amount of violence in this book. Usually, I’m all on board with blood and guts in my UF, but there was one scene of needless violence that really bothered me. I get that they are werewolves and that, in their wolf form, they’ll kill pretty much anything if it threatens them. But when Elena killed a dog while she was human, and neither she nor Clay felt the slightest bit of remorse? I was so so so not ok with that. Killing out of necessity I understand, but when they killed the dog out of convenience it just seemed… out of character.

And despite my issues with Elena and her somewhat-homicidal habits (Derek and Chloe need to stay far far away from the pack if they are still like this), I still enjoyed Bitten. It kept me up well past my bedtime; I was thinking about these characters while I wasn’t reading. And I think Stolen will be much better… Bitten was written as a stand-alone novel, and I truly believe it would have been a different (more enjoyable) book if Kelley Armstrong had written it knowing there’d be a sequel.

Bottom line? Kelley Armstrong is a fantastic author and her Otherworld verse is one I can’t wait to read more about. But is this her best book? Well… she can do better.

Favourite Quote:

The glowing ember shot into the sky, arced, then came tumbling down, end over end like a falling star. I glanced down at Clay. He was watching the sparkler and grinning with as much childlike joy as I´d felt, dancing around the grove with my fairy wand. I looked back up at the light, closed my eyes, and made my wish.

I wished I knew what I wanted.

Review: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Review: The Gathering by Kelley ArmstrongThe Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkness Rising #1
Published by ATOM
Pages: 359
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: The Rising

Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn't know much about her background - the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip - but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.

Until now.

Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town - from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.

Thoughts: I’ll admit it, I almost didn’t want to read this book. I was such a huge fan of the Darkest Powers series and was pretty terrified that this newest trilogy wouldn’t live up to my expectations. And while it is certainly not as fierce as The Awakening or The Reckoning, I’d say it is most certainly the first book in a fantastic new Kelley Armstrong series.

Let’s start off with our new heroine, Maya. For starters, she’s a lot more experienced than Chloe – she’s confident in all sorts of social situations, with guys, and holds no prisoners even when speaking to her parents. Even though Chloe could certainly stand up for herself, Maya let’s no one think she can’t handle herself. This is a girl who can – literally – scare off a cougar… she’s awesome. And just because she’s tough, it doesn’t make her mean. Yeah, she has quite a few defense mechanisms in place to stop from getting emotionally hurt, but she isn’t bitchy in the least.

I also adored Maya’s relationship with her adoptive parents. Armstrong avoids all the parental YA tropes! If you want to read a realistic, loving relationship between two parents and their daughter, then read The Gathering. In fact, Armstrong gets an A+ for all characters in this novel. Love interest Rafe was fabulous. Slightly twisted by circumstance, but fundamentally a good guy. Reminded me of Derek despite being nothing at all like Derek. In fact, this entire book reminded me of its predecessor trilogy despite being very, very different…

Then there’s the plot. Although the book left me going “what! that’s it! I need MORE!”, it is by no means lacking in substance. While those of us who have read the Darkest Powers trilogy might see a couple of clues that first-time Armstrong fans will not, by the end of the book, I’m certain you’ll be just as mystified as everyone else. After I finished The Gathering, I filled my Books Moleskine with over a dozen questions I wanted answered asap. I wasn’t sure what side I should be on, I didn’t know who the bad guys were, and I sure didn’t know whether or not Maya was making the right decision. All the same thoughts/feelings I had after reading The Summoning!


Ok, so I tried and failed to review this book without mentioning the first trilogy… but read that as the compliment it is meant to be!

Bottom line? Kelley Armstrong can do no wrong. Read this. Now.

The Reckoning Release Day! (+ Review)

Today is the release date of THE RECKONING BY KELLEY ARMSTRONG! Yay! This is the final book in the Darkest Powers trilogy, which started with THE SUMMONING and THE AWAKENING.

You’ll probably have noticed from the layout (and my incessant squee posts) that I am a huge fan of these books. While most people got into YA because of the Twilight books, I got into the genre because of this series! The books are action-packed, and far too easy to devour. And they are packed with paranormal beasties: werewolves, necromancers, ghosts, evil!humans, and witches, oh my!



The Summoning Summary: Chloe Saunders sees dead people. Yes, like in the films. The problem is, in real life saying you see ghosts gets you a one-way ticket to the psych ward. And at 15, all Chloe wants to do is fit in at school and maybe get a boy to notice her. But when a particularly violent ghost haunts her, she gets noticed for all the wrong reasons. Her seemingly crazed behaviour earns her a trip to Lyle House, a centre for ‘disturbed teens’.

At first Chloe is determined to keep her head down. But then her room mate disappears after confessing she has a poltergeist, and some of the other patients also seem to be manifesting paranormal behaviour. Could that be a coincidence? Or is Lyle House not quite what it seems…? Chloe realizes that if she doesn’t uncover the truth, she could be destined for a lifetime in a psychiatric hospital. Or could her fate be even worse…? Can she trust her fellow students, and does she dare reveal her dark secret?


♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Review! The Reckoning (Darkest Powers #3) by Kelley Armstrong

The Reckoning Release Day! (+ Review)The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkest Powers #3on 2010-04-06
Pages: 400
Genres: Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Only two weeks ago, life was all too predictable. But that was before I saw my first ghost. Now along with my supernatural friends Tori, Derek, and Simon, I'm on the run from the Edison Group, which genetically altered us as part of their sinister experiment. We're hiding in a safe house that might not be as safe as it seems. We'll be gone soon anyway, back to rescue those we'd left behind and take out the Edison Group... or so we hope.

SPOILERS for the first to books. But most are rather vague… if you aren’t a hard-liner, you should be fine!

Thoughts: It is so damn hard to write reviews for books you love, so I apologise in advance for the incoherence! I had been holding my breath for a year waiting for The Reckoning to come out. The first two books in the series were absolutely fantastic – action packed with a very subtle romance tension that made my stomach flip. So needless to say, getting my hands on the last of the Darkest Powers trilogy as exciting as getting a new Harry Potter book as a wee girl.

Where to start?  Well, Armstrong successfully managed to include plot twists and turns I was completely unprepared for.  Considering I had had a year to think it over, I thought I had a pretty good idea how this book would go.  I was so wrong!  The action was violent, sudden, and unexpectedly terrifying – and intensely emotional.  Chloe and Derek had to do some things they really weren’t ready for, and it pained me to read what Armstrong put them through.

Only that angst?  Made it the book all the better.

We also got a great look at Tori’s character.  She was such a villian in the first book in the series, but The Reckoning has really made me like her.  Apparently she can be just as good a friend as she can be an enemy (not that she’d ever admit to liking any of these losers!)  Armstrong includes some very subtle hints at what lies beneath her bitchy exterior – Tori engrossed in The Count of Monte Cristo was one I was not expecting.  I would love to read more about her in Armstrong’s next YA books!

I am not going to comment too much about the romantic triangle in this book – other than to say it plays a much bigger role and is dealt with extremely well.  If you hadn’t picked up these books because of their lack of romance, well, you should have.  Read all three at once, and you won’t be lacking for a thing.

And how about the ending?  Well, The Reckoning really does feel like the end of a trilogy – but not the end of a series.  There are still plenty of questions left to explore, and plenty of characters you will want to hear more from.  I was left totally satisfied, but also ludicrously excited about Armstrong’s next trilogy!

Bottom line? The Reckoning is the best book in an amazing trilogy and I would give it ten stars if I could!

OMG I’ve finished it!  What now?  Armstrong is going to be publishing a new YA trilogy in the same verse, and Chloe should be featured in it (just not as the protagonist!)  She also confirmed that she will be writing more books from Chloe’s POV – but we will just have to wait a while.  To hold you off, read Kelley Armstrong’s short story Dangerous.  It is from Derek’s POV set prior to The Summoning – explaining how he and Simon ended up in the Lyle House.