Mundie Moms

Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Review: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Flashback Friday is a meme I started last year here on the blog for the sole purpose of spotlighting books that have been sitting on my shelf to read for awhile. This will include titles released the previous year and ones that have been out for a few years. Today's feature is for a book that's been on list to read for awhile: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong.

Published by: Harper Teen
Released on: April 12th, 2011
Source: Bought
4 stars: I Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound
Series: Darkness Rising, Book #1

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. -quoted from Goodreads

The Gathering is one of those books that hooked me with it's mystery and strung me along by sheer curiosity. It's not a story that's full of action scenes, but a story that's rich in many subtle scenes, and a lot of mystery all of which fed into the over all arc of the story. In the beginning I kept waiting for something big to happen, but quickly realized this was a story that would offer up plenty of little scenes to satisfy my craving for excitement. This story has a different pace than what I normally enjoy, and I liked that about this book. It gave me plenty of things to keep me craving more, but it didn't reveal all the secrets that lie within it's pages. Kelley created a story with a beautifully mesmerizing setting, characters whom all harbor secrets, and created an enticing mix of her own paranormal element with a richly detailed lore.

My favorite aspects of this book are Kelley's descriptive setting, and her Native American lore. The setting itself is beautiful and has an eerie feeling about what's really going on in Salmon Creek. This small village houses families who work for a pharmaceutical company there, and though we see that's something fishy is definitely going on, we still don't know what. I like that Kelley kept this open ended and didn't overly reveal too much in this book. This just adds to fuel of wanting to know what exactly is going on. I seriously loved the role the lush outdoors of the pacific Northwest played in this book. Vancouver Island is one of the most beautiful places I've visited, and I loved visiting it again in this book. It's the perfect place for the outdoor active and the native lore that's tied to the story.

I have always been fascinated by Native American lore, and I loved the role this plays both in the setting and the story. Kelley's unique spin on shape-shifters is one I want to know more about. I like that she created a character who's part Native American, but doesn't know much about her birth parents until towards the end of the book. Maya's quest into finding out more about herself, her heritage and what the birthmark on her hip mean allowed me to learn more about what's going on with Maya and some of the people around her. I like it when I discover certain aspects of the story right along side the main character. It allows me to feel like I'm taking a journey with them.

The characters in this book were fun to read about, but they're not characters I felt like I connected with. I felt more drawn to the book with the lore and the setting vs them. That's not to say I didn't find some of them fascinating, because I did. I like the relationship that Maya and Daniel have. I like what develops between Maya and Rafe, though I'm curious to find out what happens between them in The Calling. There's still secrets I think Rafe is holding out on that deal with Maya. I also liked the role that Maya's adoptive parent's play in her life. It was refreshing to see a main character's parents be apart of their story.

Over all I really enjoyed reading The Gathering. I've not read the original series this book spins off from, so I'm not sure how the two are connected or if one series is better than the other. I can say I didn't once feel lost about what's going on in this book. Don't let not reading Kelley's other YA series stop you from picking this book up. Now that I've read this I want to go back and read the Darkest Powers series. I'm looking forward to uncovering more of this story's mystery when The Calling is out. I think YA fans will enjoy the paranormal elements and the mystery that this book has.

Haunted Blog Tour: Interview with author Joy Preble

I am so excited to have author Joy Preble on Mundie Moms today to talk about her sequel, Haunted! You can read my review for Haunted here. Joy is one of the sweetest people I've had the chance of getting to know. If you ever come out to TX, I highly recommend attending one of the many book/author events that Joy goes to. She is a lovely person to meet.

No one has ever asked me that question! I think there are two. Tess has definitely evolved from how I had first envisioned her, which was as the quippy/comic relief girl to rock solid, loyal young woman. Readers usually have the same soft spot for Tess as I do. Another is Baba Yaga. As the books continued, her backstory unfolded more to me. I've always known more than the reader, held some back, but in both HAUNTED as well as the forthcoming ANASTASIA FOREVER, there's definitely more to her and her motivations.

Do you find writing a sequel is easier or more challenging than a first book in a series?

Both. It's easier in that I know the characters and I've set up the world and I know the character and series arcs. But it's challenging to keep making sure that there is a continued continuity, and that ultimately, every plot event, every small item, has a large overarching purpose. Luckily, although I've had different editors during the series, my production team has stayed the same. So my copy editor knows if I'm staying true to what I'd begun!

What aspect of your series lore have you enjoyed creating the most?

Well, Ethan in general and everything magic about him, is always fun to write. But I think developing Baba Yaga and Lily the rusalka (the malevolent and tragic Russian mermaid) have been the most fun. Tragic and evil characters are just fun to write. Especially once you know why they have become what they've become.

Is there a book from your childhood that inspired you as a reader? If so, what book is?

There are many, but one of my main early influences was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle, which did set my love for both strong female characters and fantasy plots.

If you could co-write a book, who would you want to cowrite with and what genre would your book be?

Great question! I would love to co-write a book with Libba Bray. She is an amazing genius and hysterically funny and I've been honored that my DREAMING ANASTASIA series has been compared at times to her GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY series. Plus she wrote Going Bovine, which is actually my husband's favorite book! We would do historical romantic fantasy set in the Wild West. So if someone could tell Libba...

Is there a YA book you've recently read that you wish you had as a teen?

I think almost anything by Sarah Dessen, and definitely her The Truth About Forever. Her female characters evolve in ways that would have been important to me as a teen. They get over their fears and insecurities, learn to see the world differently, realize how special they are. That would have been very important to me! I was so ridiculously shy and really took years to believe in myself and what I could do.


Thank you Joy for stopping by today!

You can follow Joy on her: Blog | Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

You can purchase Haunted from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

You can follow the entire Haunted Blog Tour here. Don't miss Girls in the Stacks review on Haunted tomorrow.