Review: When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears by Kersten Hamilton

 

Title: When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears

Author: Kersten Hamilton

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

“People will die.”

Locked doors are opening, and uncanny creatures are tumbling through mysterious portals from Mag Mell, the world-between-worlds, into the streets of Chicago. The Dark Man has marked Aiden with a new song that’s scared him badly, and a frightening new group of sídhe is lurking nearby.

Teagan knows this is war, and she must protect her family. She leaves her flesh and bones behind to join Finn in hunting the evil beings across the city. Meanwhile, their relationship is heating up—almost faster than they can control. But he is still bound to fight goblins his entire life . . . and by blood she is one of them now.

Then the gateway to Mag Mell cracks open again, and the Wylltsons find themselves caught in a trap. As her loved ones begin to die, Teagan realizes that she must destroy the Dark Man and his minions once and for all in order to save those who remain . . .

. . . before it is too late.


Review:

All good things must come to an end, so it is with some sadness that I type out this review.  I have loved Kersten Hamilton’s Goblin Wars series since the first book, which I remember reading in Lexington KY at a horse show.  I read a lot of books and usually can’t remember the protagonists’ names half of the time, but I distinctly remember reading Tyger, Tyger in the hot, sweltering arena.  I remember some OMG moments, and I remember being impatient to read In the Forests of the Night, which I thought was an even better book.  And so here we are, on the finale, and once again, I thought Kersten Hamilton delivered a powerful, adventurous story, which closed out the series nicely.  While people did die, as promised, she wrapped up most of the story lines to my satisfaction, and I don’t hesitate to urge you to read this if you have been enjoying the series so far.  You won’t be disappointed.

I will make one observation about the author’s narrative style, because I believe that it will drive some people batty.  Occasionally, the character interactions come across as kind of random, but I think that these conversations add a lot of flavor and background to the events.  Topics fly back and forth, and at the time, they don’t always seem to fit with what is going on.  Only as Teagan and Finn are ramping up for their big showdown with the Dark Man, Mab, and all of the scary creatures in Mag Mell do they make sense.  When the conversations are finally placed in the context they belong, all of seams become neat and tidy.  The prose requires some patience, and I didn’t find it as immediate and relevant as other YA books.  It doesn’t plod by any stretch of imagination, but I wonder if this series would have been better suited as straight up fantasy, instead of being shelved in the YA section of the bookstore.  Your mileage may vary here.

I grew to love many of the characters, especially Teagen, Aiden, and Abby.  The Turtles even had their Mafioso charm, which made the scene in Rosehill that much more painful.  New character Seamus was a welcome arrival, and I never knew if he should have been trusted.  One thing that I will say for Teagan is that she gave her trust unconditionally, and she always believed the best in everyone and everything.  Even when it was doubtful that her trust was deserved, she still gave it wholeheartedly, accepting that there were risks involved.  Once crossed, however, it would take a feat of great sacrifice and effort to earn it back.  It was her unfaltering belief in others that made Teagan such an easy character to like.  She knew that she was going to get bit on the backside every now and again, but that didn’t destroy her faith that others would do the right thing.

I enjoyed this series very much, and am sad to see it come to a close.  I knew that I could count on an engaging read with each new installment, and that something would happen to shock and horrify me, but also give me hope that things would, somehow, work out in the end.  I also appreciated Teagan’s growth as a character, because, if I have to be honest, I was a little iffy on her the first 100 pages of Tyger, Tyger.  She more than made up for that by the end of the series, becoming strong, brave, and kind.  I don’t think I would have managed to remain kind, considering all of the life-altering and heartbreaking events that she experienced.  In the end, that’s the take away I’ll have for this series; Teagan’s unwavering faith in others, despite all of the betrayals and treachery, and that’s where she found the strength to keep fighting against the Dark Man and Mab.  Win or lose, she refused to compromise her beliefs.  I loved that about her.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Meet Jake Olsen from Robyn Thomas’ Famously Engaged and Giveaway!

 

We have a special guest in the virtual offices this morning!  Rocker hottie Jake Olsen from Robyn Thomas’ Famously Engaged dropped in for a visit, so please give him a warm welcome.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Jake Olsen] Only five? I’m accustomed to being the ‘mouth’ of Five Awesome Emperors and talking us up in interview situations, so limiting my answer will be a challenge. I’d have to say: caged, ambitious, loyal, itinerant and overconfident.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you share a typical day in the life of Jake Olsen?

[Jake Olsen] There is no pattern to my days. They start early, finish late and usually involve some combination of the following: long distance travel, public appearances, radio interviews, video and photo shoots, working out, recording, performing and song writing. If all five Emperors are in the same city, and our schedule can be twisted to accommodate it, I get the band together for a quick jam session.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words come to mind when you think of Beth?

[Jake Olsen] Beth is essential, admirable, strong and grounded. (Did I mention that I can’t count?)

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you find most exasperating about her?

[Jake Olsen] Beth’s loyalty to her ex-husband drives me CRAZY. Their divorce failed to break the bond between them and his upcoming wedding shows no sign of succeeding either. I can’t understand why she’d settle for his company when she has access to me 24/7.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Jake Olsen] I wouldn’t change a thing. I carried around some hefty regrets before I met Beth, but every bad decision and foolish mistake I ever made combined to lead me to her doorstep. Music is important to me, but I could always write songs for other people, tour with a different band or pursue a solo career. Beth is my weakness, my strength and my reason for living. I can’t imagine a life better than the one I share with Beth, so I have no desire to change anything.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the book:

A chef and a rock star. They couldn’t be from more different worlds…

Rock star royalty’s favorite son, Jake Olsen, couldn’t help but interfere after listening to his future brother-in-law talk non-stop about his ex-wife, Beth Carlisle. Jake decides that the only way to get the groom’s mind off his ex-wife is to give her a fake fiancé.

Before Jake can convince Beth of his plan, he’s forced to move in with her to avoid the paparazzi. Their instant attraction makes for a sizzling "first date", but soon Jake’s fame gets in the way and Beth wants out. Too bad Jake’s figured out just why her ex is so obsessed with her, and he’s afraid he’s not going to be able to give her up either.

Now it’s up to Jake to convince this chef together they make the perfect recipe.

About Robyn Thomas:

Robyn is a cheesecake connoisseur, caffeine addict, and mother of two boys. Happily married, she lives in Melbourne, Australia. Writing romance helps her balance the effects of living in an all-male household. Robyn loves romantic comedies, art glass, cooking and browsing in quirky gift shops.

Author Website ? Twitter ? Goodreads

Interview with Debbie Levy, Author of Imperfect Spiral

Please give a warm welcome to Debbie Levy this morning. Debbie is visiting the virtual offices to celebrate the release of Imperfect Spiral.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Debbie Levy] Mom, spouse, dog- and cat-friend. Reader, writer, nature-lover. Once upon a time: Newspaper editor. Lawyer. Don’t hold that against me.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Imperfect Spiral?

[Debbie Levy] In Imperfect Spiral, Danielle Snyder’s summer job babysitting five-year-old Humphrey Danker turns tragic when, as they walk home from the park, Humphrey runs into traffic to chase down his football. Immediately Danielle is caught up in the machinery of tragedy: police investigations, neighborhood squabbling, and, when the driver of the car that struck Humphrey turns out to be an undocumented immigrant—a politically charged immigration debate. Danielle’s thoughts are on Humphrey—her funny, fun, peculiar “Humpty” and the two months they spent together—but all around her, friends and strangers seem focused on everything and everyone else.

So the novel is about a tragedy, a community’s search for someone or something to blame, and Danielle’s growing realization that sometimes the most, and least, you can do is try to stop one bad thing from leading to another. And it’s equally the story of a deep connection between two slightly oddball souls—Danielle and Humphrey—that transcends age and, in some ways, even death.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Debbie Levy] My process is not tidy or organized—although I, personally, am both of those things, really I am—so I could honestly answer this by saying:

Who knows.

But I can also try to impose structure on the disorder that characterizes the inception of most of my projects. So I can say that the origins of Imperfect Spiral were my musings about a character, a teenage girl who feels that she is terribly peculiar. She’s not actually terribly peculiar but she may be a little bit peculiar. In a good way, in my opinion, but not hers.

There’s more. I thought it would be helpful for my character—Danielle—to come to see herself reflected in the eyes of someone else, but not a love-interest someone else, so I came up with a little boy. A great little boy, who is also a little bit peculiar. Who thinks Danielle is absolutely the greatest. And who can make it clear to the reader how great she is. I named that boy Humphrey.

And then. . . . Well, then, Humphrey died. At my hands, obviously.

And this is where the idea-making process gets even more difficult to explain. Once my two main characters came into being, they took on lives of their own. Once I had Danielle and Humphrey in play, the situation presented itself: that of something terrible happening to Humphrey, and happening on Danielle’s watch, when she was babysitting him. This is what presented itself, sad as the idea was.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Danielle?

[Debbie Levy] Work. In. Progress.

[Manga Maniac Café] Name one thing Danielle is never without.

[Debbie Levy] Her fare card for the Washington, D.C. area subway and bus system. Because you never know when you might want to go somewhere.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Debbie Levy] Books, woods, and water. Books, because they remind me that, hard as it is to write something that really touches people, it is possible. Woods and water, because walking in the woods, paddling in, or even just looking at, rivers and other bodies of water clears my head, helps me create, and also helps me deal when the creating is not going well.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Debbie Levy] An idea. And then two more.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was your biggest distraction while working on Imperfect Spiral?

[Debbie Levy] I was putting together presentations for my 2010 book, The Year of Goodbyes, which involved revisiting some very emotional territory. That book is about my mother’s last year as a child living in Nazi Germany in 1938, and what happened to her friends and family. I have a lot of photographs and other documentary material that I use to illustrate those presentations, and you know a picture is worth a thousand words (a cliché is a cliché because it’s true)—so this was all very intense.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Debbie Levy] The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer. Before that, Stoner, by John Williams. It’s a quiet classic that I’d never heard of before this year, and I can’t piece together how I heard of it this year—but anyway, it is so intelligent, so clear, so non-gimmicky. Fiction for grown-ups. Before that, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Debbie Levy] Seriously, just one book?

Okay. All-of-a-Kind Family, by Sydney Taylor.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Debbie Levy] I love to kayak, enjoying birds and other wildlife and also fishing from the kayak. I know, not so enjoyable for the fish, but we are not a vegetarian family and I only take the fish that I’m going to fillet and cook. I also love to read. (Surprise!) And to swim.

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Debbie Levy] Email me at debbie@debbielevybooks.com. Send me a Tweet at @debbielevybooks. Friend or message me on Facebook.

Or skywrite me a message. I’m always looking up.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Purchase Link:

About the book:

Danielle Snyder’s summer job as a babysitter takes a tragic turn when Humphrey, the five-year-old boy she’s watching, runs in front of oncoming traffic to chase down his football. Immediately Danielle is caught up in the machinery of tragedy: police investigations, neighborhood squabbling, and, when the driver of the car that struck Humphrey turns out to be an undocumented alien, outsiders use the accident to further a politically charged immigration debate. Wanting only to mourn Humphrey, the sweet kid she had a surprisingly strong friendship with, Danielle tries to avoid the world around her. Through a new relationship with Justin, a boy she meets at the park, she begins to work through her grief, but as details of the accident emerge, much is not as it seems. It’s time for Danielle to face reality, but when the truth brings so much pain, can she find a way to do right by Humphrey’s memory and forgive herself for his death?