Category Archives: HarperCollins

Review: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Harper
Release date: April 12, 2011
Source: Purchased
Series: Darkness Rising #1
Purchase: Book Depository

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.

This is one of those books that sits on the shelf forever, and once you finally read it you wonder why you waited so long. I enjoyed The Gathering very much, and I’m kicking myself for waiting since I bought this shortly after it was released.

Before The Gathering I hadn’t read anything by Kelley Armstrong, but I knew it had to be pretty good since she’d written quite a few novels, mostly for adults, but also her YA series. The writing flowed and all the dialogue and interactions felt real. And even humor from the main character, and humor can sometimes be hard to write. But Kelley nails it.

All of the characters felt real, even Serena, though we weren’t with her for very long. I absolutely adored Maya. She’s so strong, knows her own mind and has natural leadership qualities that others just follow instinctively. Probably has to do with the fact that there’s something different about her. What’s revealed wasn’t really a surprise, but I definitely enjoyed it since it was a different take on the paranormal genre than what’s out there currently. Of the two boys, my favorite was actually Daniel. Rafe was an awesome bad boy, but then he wasn’t really. I’m rooting for Daniel.

The only thing that I was annoyed about with this book was the ending. It’s left on a sort of cliffhanger, but there was something else too. You’re reading the last chapter, though you don’t yet realize it’s the last. You turn the page and realize that OH, that was last page. What? Seriously?! The ending was somewhat abrupt, and with the cliffhanger definitely serves the purpose of you wanting the next book. I will definitely read on.

Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release date: January 3, 2012
Source: Around the World Tours
Purchase: Book Depository

Summary from Goodreads:
Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love – one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

I loved Under the Never Sky. Starts out with light science fiction and then shifts to fantasy for the bulk of the story. Fantasy is my favorite genre. Then the end shifts back to science fiction, and all transitions are smooth and make complete sense the way they’re done. Nicely blended, so that even if you aren’t really a sci-fi fan, you’d probably still enjoy this for the most part. The pacing was excellent, nothing felt rushed to bogged down. Backstory for everyone in need of one was revealed at times that made sense and helped you understand some of the actions these characters were taking.
Aria is an awesome lead. She gets thrown out of her home, and yes just sits there for a while in disbelief, but then she gets up and starts moving. And she survives and becomes even stronger than she was before. I admire characters like that. Perry, or Peregrine, got on my nerves a lot at first. He kept blaming Aria for something that was out of her control and wasn’t her fault at all, it was actually Perry’s own fault since he made the decision to act on something that had consequences. Although in the end, it really wasn’t the fault of either because of a plot twist that threw me for a loop. Perry grew on me in the end, though honestly I don’t think he compared to Roar. I would have loved this book even more (if that’s possible) if Roar had been the main male lead opposite Aria. Dangerous, lethal, and sexy, this is one swoon-worthy guy. I craved any scenes with him.
Some of the ideas behind this book are incredibly creepy. Take the Realms for example. Virtual reality that no one ever leaves, kind of similar to the world in the movie The Surrogates. While being able to do anything you could possilby think of (FLYING!) sounds awesome, it’s also scary because these people are letting this control their lives, making them weaker overall so that they think they can’t survive outside their pods. That’s also prophetic because we’re well on our way to that kind of society with so many people already spending so much of their time attached to technology, whether it’s phones, computers, or videogames. I can definitely see us and our technology evolving in such a way that Under the Never Sky’s world could become ours. Which would be all right with me if I met Roar, but otherwise is creepy to think about.
Under the Never Sky packs a punch from the getgo and doesn’t let up with the action, romance, plot twists until the very end. It makes you think even while you’re just enjoying a fun story. If you’re into fantasy, this is definitely a book for you. I’ll be snatching up a finished copy as soon as they hit shelves.

Review: Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release date: October 4, 2011
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC paperback, 307
Series: N/A
Purchase: Book Depository

Summary from Goodreads:
Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
 
That same night, an alchemist’s apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.
 
Will’s mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
 
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.

I am absolutely blown away by this book. This is one of the most magical books I’ve read, the kind of book you search for among the vast amount of ordinary books. Truly a gem. There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like about this book.
The cast of characters in this book is like no other. We have Liesl, who is so strong despite suffering the loss of her dad; Po and Bundle, the ghosts who don’t quite know what they used to be, but like Liesl’s drawings and so are drawn to the living world. Liesl’s evil stepmother, wow she’s absolutely evil. Will, who watches a girl in a window from the street everynight, and his master the Alchemist, a grouchy old man who answers to the Lady Premiere, who is not what she seems. Their strands of the story are all woven together magically. And I absolutely loved that the story is told from every viewpoint, so you know exactly what any character is thinking at any given time, and know the motivations behind their actions.
This book makes you feel as well. The grief Liesl feels, but also the excitement at escaping the attic and beginning the journey to give her father rest. Near the end when everything’s coming to a head you definitely feel the tension, and I for one had trouble putting it down at this point, needing to see what happened next.  And the interior art, while not finalized in the ARC, was beautiful. They were mostly rough sketches, but honestly, I loved them. They definitely added to the atmosphere of the story, and I’d almost prefer and hope that the final versions look almost exactly like what is in the ARC.
All in all, this is a Lauren Oliver book you do not want to miss. Even if you’re not a fan of fantasy, I would still recommend this. I’m definitely hoping that she writes more middle-grade books in the future, because of all three of Lauren’s books, this is definitely my favorite. I will be buying a finished copy to reread and cherish for years to come.