Tag Archives: Kelley Armstrong

Omens (Book I of the Cainsville Series) by Kelley Armstrong – A Review

GUEST POST – teachergirl 73

If you have read any of my earlier posts regarding Kelley Armstrong, then you know that I am a huge fan. Armstrong hooked me for life after her first novel Bitten, and I know that when I pick up her books, that I’ll be entertained. That is not to say that I love all of her works the same, but I know that even if the story line isn’t my favourite, it will still be well written.

SYNOPSIS – Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.

Armstrong-Kelley-Omens-794x529Omens is the first book in a series that Armstrong began in 2013. It is a departure from her Otherworld series, which introduced us to Armstrong’s perspective of the world of werewolves, witches, vampires and other supernatural beings. To be honest, even now that I’ve finished Omens, I still can’t quite put my finger on what supernatural vibes are going on other than there are hints of the occult and old superstitions related to paganism. Olivia, our protagonist of the story, seems to have the ability to foretell events that may happen through the interpretation of “old wives tales”. She seems unaware of why she has this talent, and throughout most of the book, she is trying to deny the importance of these superstitious beliefs which becomes increasingly difficult for her as the story progresses.

IMG_0087Beyond this unusual talent of Olivia’s, I was really left wondering where Armstrong was headed with this story. Armstrong is very good at cliffhangers. Years ago, as I was reading Armstrong’s YA series, The Darkest Powers Trilogy: Summoning, Awakening and Reckoning, I was impressed with her skills for keeping her readers hooked from chapter to chapter and then from book to book. The way that Omens is wrapped up, you are definitely left wanting more, if only to figure out what the heck is going on in the increasingly creepy town of Cainsville,  where our heroine ends up calling home. A town which seems to be under the ever watchful eye of the many gargoyles found around town, including some gargoyles that only come out at night.  Did I mention that the town is creepy?


 

When the plague struck Chicago, the townspeople here erected the gargoyles, and nary a soul was lost to the Black Death.”
“The bubonic plague predates Chicago by about five hundred years.”
He lowered himself to the bench. “I know. I was very disappointed when I found out. Almost as bad as when I learned there were no fairies. The world is much more interesting with goblins and plagues.”
Unless you catch the plague.”
Kelley Armstrong, Omens


 

In Omens, we are dropped into the life of Olivia Taylor-Jones, a member of Chicago’s high-society elite, who finds her life blown apart as she learns that nothing is really as it seems. Olivia is really Eden Larsen, who was adopted as a young toddler by the Taylor-Jones family. Her birth parents turn out to be notorious serial killers. Her widowed mother is too fragile for the media maelstrom that erupts after the world discovers Olivia’s true identity and goes into hiding, leaving Olivia on her own. In an attempt to avoid the paparazzi, as well as, protect her family and friends in Chicago, Olivia goes on the run and finds herself back in the small town of Cainsville, where she lived with her birth parents. Unaware of what appears to be preternatural machinations that draw her to Cainsville, Olivia goes about the business of finding a place to live and getting a job. The town seems to accept Olivia’s presence, unlike Olivia’s friends, family and even her fiance back in Chicago who cannot wait to be rid of her and the scandal that she has brought to their doorsteps.

There are some interesting characters living in Cainsville, in particular the senior citizen contingent of the town. In terms of demographics, Cainsville definitely seems to have more seniors than children running around. The seniors also seem to be true “elders” of the town, and you get the sense that they are running the show. One character, however, seems to command more respect than the seniors and that is Patrick. He is a writer of paranormal romance, or so he says, but it is clear to Olivia that there is more to Patrick than meets the eye. Olivia senses a definite “don’t f@ck with me” vibe rolling off of Patrick, but she can’t quite put her finger on the why behind it.

Then there’s Gabriel Walsh, who is the real enigma in this story. Is he just a money-grubbing lawyer, only interested in the fame and fortune that Olivia’s story can bring him? Or is he a tortured soul, unknowingly looking for redemption and salvation that only Olivia can provide? I found the development of Olivia and Gabriel’s relationship intriguing and I definitely want to see how Gabriel’s character evolves over the course of the series.

JaxI would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the introduction of the character Ricky, who can only be a Charlie Hunnam look-a-like, and if you have ever watched the show Sons of Anarchy, you would understand why. Coincidentally, Ricky is the son of the head of a successful motorcycle club, just like Hunnam’s character “Jacks” in SOA. Ricky seems to possess many of Jacks’ charming qualities and resourcefulness which will undoubtedly be needed in the second and third book of the series. Ricky could also prove to be a possible love interest for Olivia, or at least the third of a potential Gabriel-Olivia-Ricky love triangle. Who doesn’t enjoy a good love triangle?

EXCERPT – First eight chapters

At the end of Omens, some questions are answered, but so many more are left, which is the sign of a good writer. I’m very curious to see just what Cainsville is really all about and are Olivia’s birth parents murderers or is there something worse that they are hiding?

BUY LINKS

Amazon | Amazon CA | Chapters/Indigo | B&N | Kobo 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelley_Armstrong_3-lrgKelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers’ dismay. All efforts to make her produce “normal” stories failed.

Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She’s the author of the NYT-bestselling “Women of the Otherworld” paranormal suspense series and “Darkest Powers” young adult urban fantasy trilogy, as well as the Nadia Stafford crime series. Armstrong lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets.

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‘Tis the Season for Witches, Ghouls and Goblins…Or Something Like That! A Review for Led Astray: The Best of Kelley Armstrong

GUEST POST – teachergirl73

Led Astray

Two brand new tales anchor this wide-ranging collection from one of urban fantasy’s most successful authors. Here is the first time that best-selling fantasy, YA, and crime author Kelley Armstrong has had her stories collected from Otherworld and beyond. With her signature twists and turns, Armstrong gives a fresh spin on city-dwelling vampires, werewolves, and zombies, while also traveling further afield, to a post-apocalyptic fortress, a superstitious village, a supernatural brothel, and even to feudal Japan.

With tales that range from humorous to heart-stopping, these are the stories that showcase Kelley Armstrong at her versatile best.

  • Rakshashi (standalone)
  • Kat (Darkest Powers universe, non-series narrator)
  • A Haunted House of Her Own (standalone)
  • Learning Curve (Otherworld universe, Zoe)
  • The Screams of Dragons (Cainsville universe, non-series narrator)
  • The Kitsune’s Nine Tales (Age of Legends universe, non-series narrator)
  • Last Stand (standalone)
  • Bamboozled (Otherworld universe, non-series narrator)
  • Branded (Otherworld universe, non-series narrator)
  • The List (Otherworld universe, Zoe)
  • Young Bloods (Otherworld universe, non-series narrator)
  • The Door (standalone, original to this collection)
  • Dead Flowers by a Roadside (standalone)
  • Suffer the Children (standalone)
  • The Collector (standalone)
  • Gabriel’s Gargoyles (Cainsville universe, Gabriel)
  • Harbinger (standalone)
  • V Plates (Otherworld universe, Nick)
  • Life Sentence (Otherworld universe, non-series narrator)
  • Plan B (standalone)
  • The Hunt (Cainsville universe, non-series narrator)
  • Dead to Me (standalone)
  • Devil May Care (Cainsville universe, Patrick, original to this collection)

REVIEW

I recently had the opportunity to read the ARC for Kelley Armstrong’s latest offering, Led Astray, which is due to be released this October, just in time for the “witching hour” of Halloween. As a general rule of thumb, I tend not to read short story anthologies, probably for the same reason that I prefer hour-long dramas versus a short, half hour sitcom, if I like something then I always want more. That said, Armstrong has long proven to be able to satisfy her readers over the years regardless of the format of her storytelling. She has always been generous with her fans, posting short stories related to her current writing projects via her website. This latest collection of Armstrong’s work is no exception. Armstrong’s knack for grabbing her reader’s attention from page one and propelling them through the various adventures of the supernatural world has definitely not faded over the years.

BittenIt is hard to believe that it has been almost 15 years since Bitten was first published, Armstrong’s debut novel which introduced us to the werewolf super-couple Elena Michaels and Clayton Danvers (my personal favourite) from her Women of the Otherworld series. From there, she has gone on to write a wide-range of novels and short stories, mostly in the supernatural realm, with the odd exception such as the Nadia Stafford series which is about the adventures of a female hit woman. After reading Bitten, I read through most of the Otherworld series, firstly to get my Clay and Elena fix, but I also learned to appreciate her many other cast of characters that included witches, demons, ghosts, vampires and of course werewolves. Armstrong has also achieved acclaim with her YA series’ such as the Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising books.

BTVSWhat I enjoyed the most about Led Astray was the fact that I found each story to be compelling. Some of Led Astray’s short stories are companions to pre-existing series’ like the Otherworld such as “Bamboozled” which goes back to the days of the wild west and a couple not unlike Elena and Clay living in the American frontier. I really enjoyed reading about a another female werewolf and her mate, as it clearly debunked the myth that Elena was the only female werewolf ever to exist. In the stories, “Learning Curve” and “The List”, we are introduced to a vampire named Zoe who is living in Toronto and after an evening of being “stalked” by a half-fire demon who fancies herself to be a vampire hunter, Zoe decides to take her would-be stalker and turn her into her protege. After reading “Learning Curve” which comes earlier in the anthology than “The List“, I was fondly reminded of my “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” days, and thoroughly enjoyed reading the evolution of the friendship between Zoe and her trainee, Brittany. Supernaturals need to stick together, you know.

Of the standalone stories, one of my favourites was the first entry in the anthology entitled, “Rakshasi” which is about a demon warrior named Amrita who is enslaved by a curse to walk the Earth trying to make up for her crimes during her human life in order to regain her freedom. As a “rakshasi”, Amrita is bound to her master, also known as an “isha”, who orders her to eliminate the most wanted criminals in society, but Amrita has been doing her job for 200 years, and she is beginning to wonder when her debt will be repaid, if ever?

The “Last Stand” is a dystopian story that explores the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Who doesn’t love a good zombie apocalypse??? In the “Last Stand” we meet survivors who are forced to become soldiers, to fight the zombies, or so we think that is who the enemy is in the beginning. And of course, a little romance or something like is always able to flourish even in the most dismal post-apocalyptic landscape. For both of these standalone stories, “Rakshasi” and “Last Stand”, I was left wanting more, and hopefully, Armstrong will explore both stories a little more in the future. I think that both short stories have the potential to be great novels.

In the early days, I really enjoyed reading Armstrong’s collection of short stories online, so having a collection such as this is a great way to sample Armstrong’s talents. But beware, sometimes Armstrong’s story-telling can become a little too engaging, as she weaves the fine threads of the supernatural world with that of horror and you might just find yourself looking over your shoulder or wondering about the things that go bump in the night.

Bitten: The TV Series – Summer Replay

GUEST POST – teachergirl73

bitten_poster

This review was originally posted back in January, when Bitten first aired on the Space Channel in Canada and the Syfy channel in the United States.  As the show’s storyline unfolded, I eagerly followed along, writing my reviews along the way. I’m re-posting my first review now as CTV in Canada is replaying the first season of the show which has just been renewed for a second season to air in 2015. If you haven’t caught the series yet, you can find it on CTV, Saturdays at 10:00 pm. I’m very excited for the return of this show, as it truly has become it’s own story separate from the novels, which might put some fans off, but I think it makes for an interesting re-imagining of the story.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/22/bitten-renewed-season-2_n_5373055.html

When I read that Bitten, the novel by New York Times best-selling author Kelley Armstrong, was coming to television, I was super-excited. This is one of my all time favourite books, and when I thought about how the story unfolds, I thought that there was definitely enough plot-line to carry a season. Now that we are into the first four episodes of the show, I’m still holding out hope that the show will continue to grow and develop into something really good. For the most part, the show’s creators have done a good job with the casting and setting, although I think in my own mind, Antonio and Jeremy were older and it is difficult to get around Clay’s lack of a southern accent, but that’s just me nit-picking.

bitten_group2

As for the plot, my verdict is still out. There are some places where they have almost taken the story and dialogue word for word from the novel and then in other places completely changed it. I know that this is inevitable, so I’m trying to keep an open mind about those changes. One of these changes is having Logan living in the same city as Elena. In the book, Elena is on her own in Toronto and you get a real sense of her isolation and loneliness being separated from her pack. I suspect that this story change was made to demonstrate the closeness between Logan and Elena, which is really told through Elena’s reflections in the novel.

bitten-tv-showElena is living in Toronto to escape her guilt over killing a human who was threatening to expose the existence of werewolves to the world. She’s forced to make a split second decision and blames the “animal” side of her for decision to kill. Elena’s struggle to be human rather than wolf colours every choice that she makes from that point on in her life, including her attempt to leave her pack family behind for good. For the most part, this is all conveyed over the course of the first two episodes. In the first episode, you get to see the life that Elena has tried to build for herself during her self-imposed exile. She has a job, an apartment, and a live-in boyfriend, while she increasingly struggles to hide the wolf side of her.  In the second episode, you learn the history of the pack, and who is in it and the different relationship dynamics that Elena has with each of her pack brothers. By episodes three and four, the danger to the pack has escalated quite dramatically and I certainly hope that the show’s creators can build on this momentum.

Recently I read a review by Kaitlin Thomas for www.tv.com, which I thinks does an excellent job of summing up what isn’t quite right with the story-line: Kaitlin Thomas www.tv.com  Jan. 14, 2014, “there’s nothing inherently bad about Bitten. Fans of genre shows will probably enjoy the series and its mysteries just fine, especially if the story picks up as the show progresses, but overall, Bitten isn’t adding anything new to a television slate that’s slowly becoming overrun with supernatural and fantasy shows. If the series wants to make a name for itself (especially in the U.S.), it’s going to need to step up its game by developing its characters, adding more action, and giving the pack members some distinguishing characteristics and personalities. ” http://www.tv.com/m/shows/bitten-2013/community/post/bitten-series-premiere-review-summons-season-1-episode-1-138946732922/

What I think is the missing piece to the show is Elena’s narration. In the book, most of the story is from her “inside voice”, and it is that personal recount that creates context for how the other characters interact with her, as well as the fills in the story-line more fully. Although somewhat unrelated, an example of a recent excellent film adaptation of a story where the majority of the inner dialogue of the protagonist plays an important part of the movie was Warm Bodies. In this depiction R’s narration was so skillfully incorporated that the film in my opinion was better than the book.

 

I will stick with the show until the end of the season, for better or for worse, but I’m hoping that it lives up to its potential. Bitten is the first book in Armstrong’s “Otherworld” series, where each subsequent book focuses on different characters and their stories. As a fan of Clay and Elena’s story, I’ve always wanted more of it.

Still Waters – Spring Preview

shining“He would write it for the reason he felt that all great literature, fiction and nonfiction, was written: truth comes out, in the end it always comes out. He would write it because he felt he had to.”
Stephen King, The Shining    

 

Perhaps I am dating myself, but is there anyone who doesn’t recognize that iconic image of Jack Nicholson playing the part of Jack Torrance from Stephen King’s classic novel The Shining? I felt that it was particularly fitting given my excitement about upcoming posts. Despite the relative quiet recently, due to some unfortunate personal scheduling conflicts, there is a great deal to look forward to in the coming weeks. For a sampling read on!

Book Talk & Interview – Alena Graedon

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I recently had the great pleasure of speaking with Alena Graedon, author of The Word Exchange. A truly disturbing dystopian thriller featuring a daughter’s search for her father, which may or may not be tied to an insidious virus attacking technology and persons alike.

Author Feature & Retrospective  Simone St. James

SSJ

Having just finished her most recent work Silence for the Dead, I can state unequivocally that Simone St. James never disappoints. In fact, she just gets better and better, if you haven’t read her yet, don’t hesitate, just buy them all…but be prepared to sleep with the lights on afterward!

GUEST POSTElise de Sallier, author of Innocence will be writing about her follow up Protection.

IP

PROTECTION (A Forbidden Love, Book Two) – In the much awaited conclusion to Innocence, (A Forbidden Love, Book One) Nathaniel, the Marquis of Marsden, is left reeling at the revelation of Lisa’s royal heritage. Keeping her safe has always been his priority, and he is determined to protect her . . . from the King’s machinations, their enemies, and her own overly generous nature if necessary.

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY – Just One Night by Lauren Layne

Just-One-Night-Lauren-Layne2

UPCOMING REVIEWS

The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley – Eve Lattimore’s family is like every other on their suburban street, with one exception. Her son Tyler has a rare medical condition that makes him fatally sensitive to light, which means heavy curtains and deadlocked doors protect him during the day and he can never leave the house except at night. For Eve, only constant vigilance stands between an increasingly restless teenage son and the dangers of the outside world.

Until the night the unthinkable happens. When tragedy strikes, it becomes clear that this family is not the only one on the quiet cul-de-sac that is more complicated than it appears. And as Eve is forced to shield her family from harm, there are some crises she cannot control—and some secrets that not even love can conceal.

DS

Exactly Where They’d Fall by Laura Rae Amos – With vivid characters, generous doses of humor, and palpable emotion, Exactly Where They’d Fall is a story about three friends forced to explore the complicated and fragile bonds of friendship and love. Fans of heartfelt, witty literary fiction, and smart women’s fiction will enjoy this charming and honest debut.

GSGolden State by Michelle Richmond – Doctor Julie Walker has just signed her divorce papers when she receives news that her younger sister, Heather, has gone into labor. Though theirs is a strained relationship, Julie sets out for the hospital to be at her sister’s side—no easy task since the streets of San Francisco are filled with commotion. Today is also the day that Julie will find herself at the epicenter of a violent standoff in which she is forced to examine both the promising and painful parts of her past—her Southern childhood; her romance with her husband, Tom; her estrangement from Heather; and the shattering incident that led to her greatest heartbreak.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black – The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

 

The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn – Sarah Pleinsworth can’t forgive Hugh Prentice for the duel he fought three years ago that nearly destroyed her family, sent her cousin fleeing, and left Hugh himself with a badly injured leg. That’s fine with Hugh, who can’t tolerate Sarah’s dramatic ways. But when the two are forced to spend a week together, they find that unexpected kisses, and mutual passion, may have the power to change both of their minds.

Written with Julia Quinn’s trademark style, The Sum of All Kisses is a witty and lighthearted Regency romance.

Sea of Shadows

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong –  In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.
Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court–one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh – Set on the rugged, mountainous west coast of Mallorca, this taut, sultry, brilliantly paced novel is an urgent meditation on female desire, the vicissitudes of marriage and the allure of youth.

TheHereandNow

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Last but not least

Im-Back

Bitten – The TV Series, Episodes 5-6

GUEST POST – teachergirl73

bittenBANNER

We finally get to see how Clay and Elena first met and fell in love in Episode 5. The writers stayed fairly close to Kelley Armstrong’s original story, with just a few minor discrepancies.  I thought that they did a good job of setting the scene that shows Clay’s desperate plan to keep Elena. Upon Elena and Clay’s arrival at Stonehaven to meet Clay’s family for the first time, Jeremy makes it very clear to Clay that he can’t possibly continue his relationship with Elena. Jeremy’s directive seems very cold and harsh, but this is how the Pack has survived over the centuries. The Pack rules state women are not allowed to have lasting relationships with any members of the Pack, for fear of revealing the existence of werewolves to the human world. This was just too big of a secret to try to hide from humans on a day-to-day basis, as already demonstrated by Elena’s struggle to live in Toronto with Philip. All male children were taken from their mothers at a very young age so that no one could discover the truth. Prior to Elena being bitten, no female werewolf had ever survived the change, so when Clay makes the reckless and desperate choice to change and appear in Jeremy’s study in his wolf form, Elena just thinks he’s a very large dog. She had no idea that her life was about to change forever.

In the book, Clay is banished from Stonehaven for more than a year, while Elena learned how to deal with her new circumstances. The show deviates from the original story again, instead of having Jeremy nurse Elena through the early days of her transition, Clay is also present. In the episode, Clay continually restated that Elena was a survivor and that she will survive this.

The novel does an excellent job of explaining how difficult this process was for Elena, and how Clay’s actions are never really forgiven. This is part of the back story between the two characters that I think the show is going to have a difficult time communicating. In the first few episodes, it is made very clear that Elena has no time for Clay, but what is unfortunately not really shown yet to viewers is that when Elena returns to Stonehaven, she is very conflicted by her feelings for Clay. As mentioned in my early post, we discover her struggle mostly through her inner monologue which is missing.

One character that was introduced in earlier episode, Daniel Santos, makes an interesting return. We first met Daniel when he paid  a visit to Logan in Toronto, to say that he wanted to reach out to the Pack. Daniel’s family once belonged to the Pack but after a failed attempt to oust Jeremy as alpha years before, they were kicked out of the family. In the book, there is more back story on Daniel which better explains his obsession with defeating Clay and making Elena his “mate”. At this point in the show, Daniel is offering to work with the Pack to help bring an end to the mutt problem in Bear Valley. In exchange, Daniel wants to return to the Pack.

Another new character in this episode is Victor Olsen, who is a convicted pedophile who has been released back into the community. One of the first people he encounters on the outside is Zachary Cain, who we know to be one of the mutts threatening the Pack. He offers Olsen a chance to seek revenge on his victims by going after Elena Michaels. I have to admit when I first saw this scene, I didn’t really understand where they were going with it.  In the novel, the first time the Pack meet the “new” mutts are through the various attacks in Bear Valley.  It isn’t until Episode 6, that it becomes clear that there is another connection between the Pack and Olsen.

Bitten1

In Episode 6, the show deviates completely from the original. For die-hard fans of the novel, this episode might be too much to handle because the show’s storyline has truly become its own. If, however, I hadn’t read the book, this episode would certainly fill in some missing blanks.

Elena has returned to Toronto and her human life. She feels that her commitment to the Pack is complete, and as a result, she asked Jeremy not to call her back to Stonehaven.  All seems to be going swimmingly well, except for the fact that Daniel Santos makes another appearance, this time at the wedding of Philip’s sister. We get to see more clearly in this episode Elena’s distaste for Daniel, and we also get to see a little more of his darker side.  The show did a good job of casting, as I find Daniel to be very creepy, but it’s hard to say how much of that feeling is based on the actor’s performance or because I have prior knowledge of the character.

Another big departure from the original story is the connection between Olsen and Elena. In a conversation with Philip, Elena reveals that she was abused as a child at the hands of Olsen, who was a neighbour of one of her foster families. Elena’s testimony helped to get Olsen convicted. So now, it becomes a little bit clearer as to how Olsen will be a new threat in episodes to come.  In the book, Elena is a survivor of sexual abuse, but not from Olsen, the abuse came from her foster families and was mostly insinuated rather than told explicitly. Eventually, Elena learns to defend herself, and works very hard to leave her experiences in the foster system behind. Elena’s awful childhood is one of the reasons that Clay recognizes her as a fellow survivor.

The most shocking new development in the show is the discovery that Logan’s girlfriend is pregnant. Given that in the book, Logan is long gone by this point, it is going to be very interesting to see where the show goes with this new development. Will Logan be faced with the heartbreaking choice to tear his new-born child from the arms of the woman he loves, never to see her again? Or will he try to live in the human world? What will Jeremy have to say about this new development?

I guess that I’ll have to keep watching to find out!

RELATED ARTICLES

Bitten – The TV Series

GUEST POST – teachergirl73

bitten_poster

When I read that Bitten, the novel by New York Times best-selling author Kelley Armstrong, was coming to television, I was super-excited. This is one of my all time favourite books, and when I thought about how the story unfolds, I thought that there was definitely enough plot-line to carry a season. Now that we are into the first four episodes of the show, I’m still holding out hope that the show will continue to grow and develop into something really good. For the most part, the show’s creators have done a good job with the casting and setting, although I think in my own mind, Antonio and Jeremy were older and it is difficult to get around Clay’s lack of a southern accent, but that’s just me nit-picking.

bitten_group2

As for the plot, my verdict is still out. There are some places where they have almost taken the story and dialogue word for word from the novel and then in other places completely changed it. I know that this is inevitable, so I’m trying to keep an open mind about those changes. One of these changes is having Logan living in the same city as Elena. In the book, Elena is on her own in Toronto and you get a real sense of her isolation and loneliness being separated from her pack. I suspect that this story change was made to demonstrate the closeness between Logan and Elena, which is really told through Elena’s reflections in the novel.

bitten-tv-showElena is living in Toronto to escape her guilt over killing a human who was threatening to expose the existence of werewolves to the world. She’s forced to make a split second decision and blames the “animal” side of her for decision to kill. Elena’s struggle to be human rather than wolf colours every choice that she makes from that point on in her life, including her attempt to leave her pack family behind for good. For the most part, this is all conveyed over the course of the first two episodes. In the first episode, you get to see the life that Elena has tried to build for herself during her self-imposed exile. She has a job, an apartment, and a live-in boyfriend, while she increasingly struggles to hide the wolf side of her.  In the second episode, you learn the history of the pack, and who is in it and the different relationship dynamics that Elena has with each of her pack brothers. By episodes three and four, the danger to the pack has escalated quite dramatically and I certainly hope that the show’s creators can build on this momentum.

Recently I read a review by Kaitlin Thomas for www.tv.com, which I thinks does an excellent job of summing up what isn’t quite right with the story-line: Kaitlin Thomas www.tv.com  Jan. 14, 2014, “there’s nothing inherently bad about Bitten. Fans of genre shows will probably enjoy the series and its mysteries just fine, especially if the story picks up as the show progresses, but overall, Bitten isn’t adding anything new to a television slate that’s slowly becoming overrun with supernatural and fantasy shows. If the series wants to make a name for itself (especially in the U.S.), it’s going to need to step up its game by developing its characters, adding more action, and giving the pack members some distinguishing characteristics and personalities. ” http://www.tv.com/m/shows/bitten-2013/community/post/bitten-series-premiere-review-summons-season-1-episode-1-138946732922/

What I think is the missing piece to the show is Elena’s narration. In the book, most of the story is from her “inside voice”, and it is that personal recount that creates context for how the other characters interact with her, as well as the fills in the story-line more fully. Although somewhat unrelated, an example of a recent excellent film adaptation of a story where the majority of the inner dialogue of the protagonist plays an important part of the movie was Warm Bodies. In this depiction R’s narration was so skillfully incorporated that the film in my opinion was better than the book.

I will stick with the show until the end of the season, for better or for worse, but I’m hoping that it lives up to its potential. Bitten is the first book in Armstrong’s “Otherworld” series, where each subsequent book focuses on different characters and their stories. As a fan of Clay and Elena’s story, I’ve always wanted more of it.

Bitten: Season 1, Episode 1 – Summons

You Can’t Go Home Again

Or can you? Last night’s premiere of the television adaptation of Bitten by Kelley Armstrong was the perfect opportunity to do something I have wanted to since the blog’s inception last May, review a television adaptation. The opportunity just hadn’t presented itself, Under the Dome was just too big an undertaking even for my gluttonous “eyes that are pretty much always bigger than my belly” literally and figuratively. df1991-178Though I enjoy television and films a great deal I typically give any adaptation of a favorite of mine an extremely wide berth. I have a low tolerance for tom foolery particularly when it comes to my favorite stories, case in point True Blood which has deviated so far from the Southern Vampire series on which it is based by Charlaine Harris as to be laughable.

Elena Michaels is a werewolf. She tries to be human, but the man whose bite changed her existence forever, and his legacy, continue to haunt her. Thrown into a desperate war for survival that tests her allegiance to a secret clan of werewolves, Elena must reconsider who and what she is.

Bitten_blondI was struck immediately at how perfectly Laura Vandervoot embodied my vision of Elena which was enough to override my inherent skepticism and give this adaptation of one of my all time favorite books a try. As for some of the other casting I cannot say that I was reassured. While I didn’t question for a moment that Greyston Holt could be a werewolf, but as Clayton Danvers, he couldn’t be more miscast (and I am not just bemoaning the loss of his Southern accent). I will try not to fall into a diatribe about what I consider some of the biggest casting fails in history but will sum up with the peroxide horror show that was Twilight. No such hair crimes were committed in Bitten, their transgressions were much more subtle.

bitten_orgWhile the essence of the novel was preserved at least for the duration of the pilot episode, that of Elena’s struggle to live as a werewolf in the human world, they did take a number of liberties with the plot that left me perplexed and concerned about the future. The opening scene portrays Elena in flagrante delicto which she must break off to avoid changing in front of her human boyfriend. Barely escaping the apartment in time she is forced to change in an alleyway. Laura Vandervoot is very attractive as is her costar Paul Greene, however the opening sex scene felt gratuitous. Not exclusive to the opening scene and throughout the liberties that were taken with the plot were somewhat baffling including but not exclusive to relocating Logan to Toronto and changing his profession to a therapist from a lawyer, making Elena a photographer rather than a writer and last but not least having Elena and Phillip’s relationship originate from a fix up rather than a chance meeting.

I believe that the intention is to create a sexy series in the vein of True Blood and Vampire Diaries, which are both unquestionable financial successes but content wise fall short of the potential Bitten holds. I hope that they do not waste the opportunities provided by such a fascinating intelligent series.

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