Saturday, December 11, 2010

Halloween during the Christmas Holidays

So all assignments are handed in and all exams have been taken. I'm free from the stresses of school for approximately 2 weeks before I must sullenly trudge back. This is also in part, the reason why I haven't posted since October. Things got a little hectic.

And instead of just abandoning my planned Halloween blogs, I'm going to continue them.

My theme for this post is ghosts. That's right, those see through, white sheet wearing and metal chains clanking fiends of the night.

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong: 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?

This was the first novel by Kelley Armstrong that I actually attempted to read. She's a Canadian author and I vaguely remember seeing her books around every time I went into the bookstore but I never picked up any of novels before The Summoning. I genuinely love the series. In part that love stems from the creepy and supernatural element but a larger part of my love for this series belongs to the characters. All of them are different and not entirely likable. Yes, there are even times with where I couldn't stand Chloe but I don't thing it's a bad thing. Despite having powers or being affiliated with a type of supernatural creature, at the core they're all human individuals and they have their good days and their bad days.

The confusion of having powers and being different, at least I think, stands as a metaphor for puberty and represents the frustrating and scary elements of growing up. I think a lot of people can relate to that.

Also? The powers they have are pretty awesome and the story carries itself along the three books quite well. And if you have a chance and Kelley Armstrong is doing a signing near you, go to it. I went to the one in my city for the release of The Reckoning and it was a lot of fun. She's really nice and though I kind of wimped out (because I am painfully shy), it was a cool experience.

Important to note that The Summoning, The Awakening and The Reckoning has been released in one large volume. Try wal-mart or your local bookstore and it should be there if you want to buy it for yourself or for someone else as a Christmas present.

A Certain Slant of Light
by Laura Whitcomb: (From Publishers Weekly) Helen, a passionate lover of literature who's been "light" since her death 130 years ago, has spiritually attached herself, invisible, to human hosts for decades. But when she is one day seen by a kindred spirit literally in James, a ghost now inhabiting a teen junkie's form, everything changes. Helen takes over the body of Jenny, the "empty" daughter of strict fundamentalist Christians. As humans, the two ghosts experience new sensations; they navigate contemporary social and romantic mores and also remember more about their own past lives among the living. The intriguing premise and eerie execution of this tale will arrest romance and ghost story fans alike.

First of all, this is such a well written novel. I whimper a little when I think about it because it reminds me of the victorian novels that I've enjoyed in the past. The descriptions and language are so pretty and intense. I guarantee that you won't be able to put this book down and when you do, it'll be because you've finished it. A really good ghost story. Chilling but beautiful. But I must warn readers that this novel does deal with sexual situations. I wouldn't say it's heavily detailed like what most adult women are used to in their romance novels but it may make some individuals uncomfortable. Just a heads up.

The Mediator Series Book 1: Shadowland by Meg Cabot: (From Publishers Weekly)The Mediator series introduces high school sophomore Suze, who, in her words, has "this unfortunate ability to communicate with the dead." As a "mediator," the girl helps ghosts put unresolved issues to rest so they can move on to the next world. When her mother remarries, Suze moves from New York City to California, where she and her three stepbrothers attend a Catholic academy headed by a priest. Conveniently, the priest is also a mediator (the first of her kind that Suze has ever met). During the course of this rather repetitious and intermittently sluggish caper, Suze encounters two ghosts: a handsome young man from the 19th century who haunts her bedroom and a girl who was a student at the academy until she killed herself when Bryce, her boyfriend, broke up with her. As Suze attempts to protect Bryce from the angry apparition's wrath, the ghostly girl grows determined to get revenge on both her former beau and Suze. Suze finally resorts to an exorcism to get rid of her.

If there's one thing in my disorganized and spaztastic life that I can be relied on, it's my love for Meg Cabot. I don't think there's a novel that she's written where I haven't died (and come back) of laughter (her novels have magical laughing healing properties?). I think this was the first series of hers that I read and it's what got me hooked on her novels in the first place.

While Publisher's Weekly says that Suze isn't a realistic/credible character because she's cocky (which is a wrong wrong. I have known cocky people like this.), I think it's one of the things about the series that I really enjoy(besides the ghosts and that oh holy latin american sombrero, batman male character named Jesse). It's good to see a kick ass female character trying to make sense of the cards she's been dealt in life in stead of moping along through life about it. The stories are interesting and sometimes dark, which anyone can enjoy, and most of all funny. Meg Cabot has a gift for creating hilarious situations and I thank her every day for it.

Another story would be The Days of Little Texas by R.A Nelson which I did mention in a past post.

I know that 3 out of 4 of these novels can be viewed as old but I honestly feel like I've been put off from reading anything I don't stumble upon accidentally on my own. It's just there's this trend going about with YA fiction that's a bit unsettling for me. It's proven every time I walk into the bookstore and see a new vampire novel on the shelf in the YA section.

It appears to me that some authors are not writing with an actual original thought but are instead letting the trend guide their writing and their story. The end result is a novel that probably lacks plot and fully defined strong characters. But that's just my opinion and it is up to debate.

Well, that's the end of this post. Stay tuned for the next one which will be posted very soon. Sunday most likely. I already have a theme for it in mind.

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