Saturday, May 7, 2011

Review: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong
Hardcover, 359 pages
Harper Collins, New York
April 12th 2011

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.

In The GatheringNew York Times best-selling author Kelley Armstrong brings all the supernatural thrills from her wildly successful Darkest Powers series to Darkness Rising, her scorching hot new trilogy. 


Kelley Armstrong is one of my favorite authors, so when I found out she was starting a new series I was thrilled. She is the type of author who sucks you into a book and wont let go until the very last page. 

The Gathering is the first book in the Darkness Rising trilogy. Maya, the main character is just an ordinary girl, living in a very small town. She is a very likable character, she is smart and sweet. But Maya also is a very strong girl, she doesn't let people push her around or get to close. I love the fact that she really has a sense of who she is. She is the type of main character who you can really follow.

Her best friend Daniel is the big brother type of guy that you cant help but fall in love with. He is sweet and very protective of Maya. He has a good sense of humor and will stand up for what he knows is right. I absolutely love Daniel. He is someone you wish to have as your best friend. He is always by Maya's side and is always there when she has to deal with the hard stuff.

Rafe, the bad boy from out of town is Maya's new crush. She always thought he was the school's player, but now he is showing her a new side to him. As their relationship progresses, Maya seems skeptical of the way Rafe is acting. She learns that things are not what they seem. I liked Rafe well enough, he has the bad boy thing going for him but he just seems a bit played out to me. I feel like the bad boy who has a softer side and a secret thing is a bit over played. But all in all he is an OK character.... I really like Daniel :)

Overall The Gathering was a good first in a trilogy book. I liked the fact it gave you a solid back story and gave you time to get to know the characters. I feel that things could have moved a bit faster but all in all I feel it will make the other books in the trilogy better. A good connection with the characters is important and I do like when an author takes the time to establish them. I also have to had that this book has a major cliff hanger ending. I finished the last page and flipped to the next expecting a new chapter to began. I dont hate cliff-hangers but it just makes it 10 times harder to wait for the next book.

I give The Gathering a 4+. It had very likable characters, a well written plot and an interesting story. I am very excited to read The Calling, The second book in the Darkness Rising Trilogy, coming in April 2012. I also hear that she might merge The Darkest Powers and The Darkness Rising Trilogy's together which is very exciting. If you love Kelley Armstrong as much as I do, I say, you should really pick up The Gathering. It is sure to be a very exciting story!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Author Spotlight: Aimee Carter

Please Welcome
Aimee Carter
Author of
The Goddess Test!

1) Could you tell us a bit about yourself. 

 I'm Aimée, and I write too much for my own good. I love dogs, books, music, and I got a degree in screenwriting and film from the University of Michigan. I've been writing since I was eleven, and I got my start in fan fiction. The Goddess Test is my first published novel, but I wrote roughly two dozen manuscripts before it. I'm represented by the lovely Rosemary Stimola. The Goddess Test will be released on April 19th, 2011, from Harlequin Teen.

2) Could you tell us a bit about The Goddess Test? 
 The Goddess Test is a sort of a sequel to the myth of Hades and Persephone. The back of the book sums it up rather nicely:

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails...

3) What was the inspiration for writing The Goddess Test? 

 I've loved Greek mythology for as long as I can remember. D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths was one of my favorite books as a kid, and I used to reread the myths over and over. This story has been in the back of my mind ever since I was a kid, and over the years the pieces fell into place. Finally in 2007, I put pen to paper.

4) Were there any personal experiences that went in to writing The Goddess Test? 

 Funny you should ask. In the story, Kate's had to face the reality that her mother, who is her only family, will die very, very soon - she's suffering from cancer, and she's at the end. They return to her mother's hometown, and Kate is essentially her caretaker, being thrust into this very adult role that she's trying so hard to handle. But she's eighteen, and this is a lot for an adult to go through with support, let alone a teenager who's in a strange place where she doesn't know anyone.

About four months after Harlequin Teen made an offer to publish The Goddess Test, my father had two heart attacks and wound up having to have heart surgery. Those few weeks and the months after were so much like what Kate was going through - not exactly by any means, since my father was recovering (and has since recovered). But it was setback after setback, and I think that gave me a lot keener insight into what Kate was going through. Because I was still in the editing stage of the book, I went through and added some of those aspects in, trying to make the story more authentic in that regard.

5) Was Kate's character based on anyone or was she a purely made up character? What is she like?

 Kate is purely fictional, though like I mentioned, in later edits a lot of what she was going through with her mother and some of her feelings on the matter were taken from my experience taking care of my father. She's gone through a lot, but she doesn't let it get to her - she does what she has to do when she has to do it. It's hard for her to open up to new ideas, and she's a very closed-off person based on the life she's lived so far, particularly with her mother so sick. But she really develops throughout the story, and I hope she's someone you can root for.

6) What was your inspiration for Henry's Character? Could you tell us a bit about him? 

 Henry...oh, Henry. I can't say too much without it being a big spoiler, but I spent a lot of time developing his character and deciding exactly who he is and what he's gone through. He and Kate complement each other in interesting ways, as he's experienced a great deal of tragedy and loss in his life as well. He has his own set of goals separate from Kate, which I hope makes him a more intriguing character than just Kate's love interest. Melissa Anelli, who read and was kind enough to provide a blurb for the book, once called Henry "Heathcliff with a sense of humor".

7) What was your inspiration in the cover art for The Goddess Test? 

 I have nothing to do with the cover art - most authors don't have any input. The fantastic artists at Harlequin Teen did an outstanding job, and I adore the cover to pieces. I had no idea what to expect, had no mental image of what it might look like, so that was a great day, that first glimpse of their vision for the cover.

8) Do you plan to have The Goddess Test as a stand alone novel or part of a series? 

 Originally I wrote it as a standalone, and it can stand on its own as a story. However, once it was over, I realized there was still so much story to tell, and it became a trilogy. I've written the sequel, Goddess Interrupted, which will be out in January 2012, and I'm about to start writing the third book as well.

9) Who is your favorite character in the book? And why? 

 That's kind of like asking who's my favorite child! I love them all, even the baddies. Nothing's worse, in my opinion, than being asked to follow a boring character around for four hundred pages, and I tried not to do that. I think if I had to first instinct is to say Ava, who is a classmate of Kate's and somewhat of a bully. But then I have to say Henry, and then I have to say James (another classmate of Kate's), and it's all one big mess. So let's go with my top three instead: Ava, Henry, and James. As for why, I'd say it's because all three of these characters surprised me in the writing and editing process. I love their voices and how they interact with others, and each of them has a story that I really enjoyed creating.

10) If The Goddess Test was made into a movie, Who would be your dream cast? 

 I just did a blog post on this! I almost never picture actors as characters in my head when I'm writing them, but I do have a few firm contenders:

Kate - She would be by far the hardest to cast. I think I'd prefer a newcomer. Someone brunette and not stunningly gorgeous, but other than that, her face has always been fuzzy to me.

Henry - Ben Barnes, hands down. He fits Henry perfectly, both in his looks and his acting voice (and I've always pictured Henry with a British accent). If by some miracle there was ever a movie, I would give up my first born to have him play Henry.

Ava - Elisabeth Harnois. This is an example of a character whose face I did picture from day one, and Ava has always been Elisabeth Harnois to me, though she's in her thirties now.

James - I've never run across an actor who looked exactly like my mental image of James, but Mitch Hewer (from the UK version of Skins) is fairly close. As far as personality goes, however, Darren Criss (best known from playing Blaine from Glee) would be a perfect fit. I'm willing to sacrifice hair color for Darren. :)

11) Do you write to music? If so, what is your favorite? 

 I used to for a long time, but I found I paid more attention to the music than to the writing. Now if I listen to music while writing, it's because I'm in a public place and trying to drown others out. Right now I've been listening to Apocalyptica's version of Nothing Else Matters on repeat. No words, so it works out well.

12) What do you plan on doing in the future? 

 That depends entirely on how many people buy my books. I would love to keep writing and publishing novels for the rest of my life, but I'm only 25, so who knows what the future brings? If I had a choice though, writing novels would be it.

13) What are you reading right now? 

 I just finished Beth Revis' wonderful novel, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. I'm in the middle of rereading HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS before the movie's release this summer. I haven't read it since it was released, so it's almost like discovering an entirely new book.

14) Who are a few of your favorite authors? 

 JK Rowling, without question. The Harry Potter series is the reason I stuck with writing, and I wouldn't have gotten this far if it hadn't been for her. Orson Scott Card is one of my all-time favorites as well. Anne Bishop, Suzanne Collins, David Eddings, Kevin Brooks, Meg Cabot, Rick Riordan...too many to count! I do tend to be a rereader with books and authors. If I love something, I'll reread it once a year or so.

15) Anything you would like to add? 

 Thanks for having me, and I can't wait to hear what you think of The Goddess Test!

Where to find Aimee:


It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

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