Sunday, 23 August 2009

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

In "Bitten" Kelley Armstrong brings us the story of a woman named Elena Michaels who is young, beautiful and successful. She is also a werewolf. In this world all born werewolves are male, as only men can carry the gene, it is only in being bitten that a woman can become a werewolf, and prior to Elena, no woman had survived the change (as many do not, werewolves don't usually leave their victims alive after biting them). This leaves Elena in an interesting situation, being the only female werewolf. Having not chosen the lifestyle that was thrust upon her when she was bitten, Elena leaves her werewolf pack to have a "normal" human life in Toronto Canada. She has a human fiance, a normal job, and despite the necessity to change into a wolf once a week, she lives a normal life. Elena tries hard to fit into the mold of normal human, until she gets a phone call from someone from her past, someone she can't say "no" to...

This book is an intriguing read and has some great characters who are relatable and seem very real, unfortunately I found it a bit difficult to relate to the main character. The story is good enough and the ending made the other issues I had with the book worth reading it.

Character development for Jeremy and Clay makes them far more interesting characters. While Clay has plenty of flaws and seems almost inhuman at times, the emotion and sacrifices he makes for those he loves makes him relatable and in the end, an unlikely hero. Jeremy is the ultimate parental figure, always with Elena's best interests at heart, he loves and cares for the members of his pack more then he cares for himself. This proves that Armstrong is talented in developing characters and making you love them, and feel what they are feeling. It's just in her portrayal of Elena that I felt there was much to be desired.

Elena is off putting in her grumpy attitude about everything. She often comes off as a whinny child not getting her way. I found myself thinking"a terrible thing happened and now you're a werewolf, it's been 11 years, get over it". No one has ever been anything but kind and accepting of her. She takes out her bad mood and sulky attitude on everyone. As far as Clay goes, it's more deserved, but Jeremy and the other characters hardly deserve it. They are nothing but kind and inviting to a woman in a place where no woman has been before, and it could be argued that no woman ever belongs. Honestly, it made me wonder if she is worth the trouble at all. Elena really only provides one unique quality, sex. Being the only female werewolf on the planet, her gender grants her a license to be a total jerk. The pack certainly would not put up with the same behavior from a male.

I was ready to not like this book, but the ending really saved it for me. While all I said in the above paragraph was definitely true, I came out of this book liking it. By the end of the book Elena had grown up and seemingly accepted her fate, and there was hope of a better attitude from what could be a strong female character that I wanted so badly to root for.

Bottom Line: A decent read. While the main character was sort of off putting initially, the supporting characters and charter development is good. I'd recommend giving it a try. Plus, there are so many books about vampires, it's nice to read something that is a bit different!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The vampire Diaries: Dark Reunion

Somehow Smith found it necessary to impart a fourth book on the reading public (remember that tag line on the cover of the last book? Guess that was a lie). I read online that this series was originally supposed to be a trilogy, and with the death of the protagonist from the first 3 books (final death, not "transformation into vampire" death) at the end of the last book, I could see how it would seen pretty definite that that was the end. Apparently L.J. Smith could not leave well enough alone and made a fourth book, and yes, I read it though none of the first three were any good. This time I had no expectation that the book would be good, I can be taught. I understand that based on the previous data that statistics say this book will be bad too. I was still shocked as to how bad it was. It just goes to show that nothing is ever so bad that it can't get worse.

This book picks up six months after the final death of Elena and is told from Bonnie's point of view. While at a slumber party the girls contact Elena using a Ouija board (as she is dead). Elena warns them there is evil in Fell's Church, and that they are all in danger (seems like evil just loves this place, why do people live here? Sounds like a gateway to hell to me). She tells them they need to summon someone to help them, but is interrupted before she can tell them who). With Matt's help, Bonnie and Meredith perform a spell to summon Stefan, who arrives back in town with Damon. The five work to find the source of evil in the town.

Spoilers Ahead
If you read "The Fury" you know that Katherine supposedly killed her maker Klause, at least she told a story that she did. Then what the heck was he doing back, without explanation, or even question from anyone? That was some of the worst story telling I have ever read. And what about the werewolves? Did that seem like an afterthought to anyone else? It was as if Smith needed a reason to make Tyler join up with Klause, an unexplained, slap-dash, ridiculous reason, or perhaps she just thought "people who like vampires probably like werewolves, oh I'll just through one in".

Of all the vampire books to make into a television show, why would anyone pick this one? Perhaps they only read the back of the cover of the book and thought (like me and so many others) "this seems promising". This is probably the only time I'm pretty sure the show will be BETTER then the book. I can't imagine it being worse.

Can you believe L.J Smith is making a new trilogy?!?! The first book came out earlier this year. No, I'm not reading it. I have been tortured enough. I did read the back of the new book, it said something about Stefan having to leave because he couldn't resist turning Elene into a vampire AGAIN! After she was miraculously brought back to life after dying, coming back as a vampire then dying again, she comes back as human (with no real explanation I might add). If any of you out there read the new one, let me know what happens, I still have a morbid curiosity...

Bottom Line: Don't even ask.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Vampire Diaries: The Fury

Book Three of the Vampire Diaries. Yes, I kept reading it. If you've read either of my previous reviews of these books I'm sure you think I'm crazy for subjecting myself to more of this torture and wasting more of my time. I think you might be right, perhaps I am crazy. There have been plenty of series that I never read past the first book, so it isn't an undying desire to finish what I've started, I quit stuff all the time, perhaps it's that as ridiculous as this book was, it was not boring.

This book starts out right after Elena has "died" and woke up a vampire (a side effect of having unknowingly ingested too much of both Stefan and Damon's blood over a long period of time). Somehow during this transformation Elena has forgotten that she loves Stefan and is convinced she instead loves Damon, whether this phenomenon is a result of having more of Damon's blood then of Stefan's or if it's just a fluke, it's not really explained. Surprisingly, Damon does not take this as fact and instead shows the first bit of chivalry and kindness and stops Elena from killing Stefan (as Stefan is trying to harm Damon), and tells Stefan we have to get to the cause of her change in behavior before they take anything she says seriously. This is a total un-Damon like thing to do, all things point to him being overjoyed by this turn of events and not caring what caused it, just wanting the "win" against his brother.
From this point Damon becomes a different character, I suppose it could be seen as a more "likeable" character, as he is far more helpful and no longer, above all else, desires to destroy his brother. To me it just seemed bland and fake. I almost prefer the total jerk, at least he seemed somewhat interesting. This new version is like a robot.
Spoilers ahead:
It is revealed at the end of the book that the town founder's wife Honoria Fell was a witch and since her death has been protecting the town. One would think that if that were the case she's obviously doing a terrible job, as a teacher is killed and vampires have come and settle in "her" town. Plus, the whole "mystery presence" in this book. So when she tells the gang "I'm done now, the coming battle is yours", they should be thinking, well great, as you were providing so much help to begin with. Whatever.

It is finally revealed that the cause of all the terrible occurrences is Katherine (not Damon as Stefan and Elena thought), who actually is not dead but faked her own death to make Damon and Stefan "sorry" all those years ago when she "turned" them both. Katherine is also responsible for Elena's "death", but did not count on her having had Damon and Stefan's blood and therefore becoming a vampire.

In the end Elena (without her "magic" ring that protects vampires from sunlight in these books) leaps at Katherine, removing her pendant that is protecting her, and they both burn in the sunlight. Elena's dying words to Damon and Stefan are to take care of each other. The book ends with Elena having sacrificed herself to save Stefan, Damon, and the town. Seems simple enough. A definite ending to a trilogy, it even says "The final conflict" right on the cover of the book, seems pretty definitive to me...

Bottom Line: This book does provide closure, and if you've read the first 2 books, the 3rd seems like a definite end...

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Untamed by PC & Kristin Cast

The fourth book in the House of Night series sees Zoey abandoned by her friends and her loves. After Damian and the twins found out about Zoey’s secret relationship with Loren and her keeping Stevie Rae’s being alive away from them; they pulled away from her. Erik dumped her for cheating on him and left the House of Night as a newly changed vampyre. Her blood bond with Heath was broken through her imprint with Loren and he, too, is out of her life.

Fortunately for Zoey, she still has the unlikeliest of friends in Aphrodite. She returns to the House of Night, appearing to be the same fledgling she’s always been but there’s been a change. She’s no longer a fledgling at all. She gave up her earth affinity and her vampyre characteristics when Stevie Rae bit her. She’s now a human, albeit a human with the gift of premonition and the love of Nyx on her side. She and Stevie Rae meet with Zoey and tell her about a terrible vision that Aphrodite has. She’s had two visions of Zoey’s death; one at the hands of Neferet and the other by a strange raven-like creature. Zoey’s death will plunge the world into war, humans vs. vampyres, and it must be stopped at all costs.

Neferet is intent on said war, she’s called in The Sons of Erebus, skilled vampyre warriors, to protect the school from the humans she claims murdered two professors. She’s also arranged for a new student to transfer to the school from the Chicago branch of the House of Night. His name is James Stark and he’s the most skilled archer in all of the world. Whatever he aims at, he hits. Zoey & James are introduced and seem to have a bit of chemistry before he is consumed by fits of coughing and he succumbs to death. But death is not ever permanent at this House of Night and Zoey knows that she needs to be there when Stark awakens. If Neferet gets her hands on him, who knows what would happen?

In order to face Neferet, Zoey is going to need all of her friends. Fortunately Aphrodite is on her side and she’s more than willing to tell Damian, Erin and Shaunee why Zoey had to keep secrets from them. Once they understand the threat to Zoey, they all band back together to try face the worst darkness yet. Aphrodite foresees a new prophecy about an evil queen and the rise of a fallen angel, Kolona. With the help of Stevie Rae and the red fledglings, Zoey’s grandmother and even a Catholic nun, can Zoey and her friends keep a powerful evil from being unleashed on the world? Read and find out!