Category Archives: Graham Podolecki

Husband/Wife Book Reviews – Graham Reviews ‘The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner’ by Stephenie Meyer

  

We are very busy preparing for our Big Move on Monday, but Graham did manage to fit in some time to write his review of Stephenie Meyer’s The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Without further ado, here it is: 

Jammed between the breathless action of Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer decided to put in a near-200-page tangent for me on my quest to complete the Twilight Saga.
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner describes exactly that. Bree is made into a vampire in Seattle and is destroyed by the Volturi. All this we knew from Eclipse, so it did kinda bore those who were hoping for some new developments in the Bella-Edward story arc. The novella focuses on those newborns who wreak havoc in Seattle and the very different life experiences by these non-Cullen vampires. All the while, Bree falls for another newborn named Diego. They figure out the suicidal plans of their mistress, Victoria, only to have Diego be destroyed by Victoria, and Bree and her friends destroyed by the Cullens and the werewolves.
This novella gets criticized for some of the reasons noted above: it’s boring, it feels pointless, it’s just a cash grab by Meyer who knows she has a hooked audience willing to pay. I think those criticisms are a bit unfair, however, as the novella does have its upsides. I found Riley’s tormented character to be an interesting study, as well as seeing the life of these newborns and the very different experiences of vampire life they have compared to the Cullens. Unfortunately, that’s really it for this book. Such a short work unfortunately also lacks character development, the plot is pre-determined, and we know from the start that things are going to be ending badly for Bree. Bree herself lacks much uniqueness and I easily could have placed Bella in place of Bree and seen things through her eyes without much of a difference in character or personality.

I give this novella a 2 out of 5.

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We Are Moving – Again!

 

Tulita, NWT

 
That’s right, everybody! Graham and I are moving again! This time, we are moving 2,345 km (or 1,457 m) northwest from our current hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba to the small hamlet of Tulita in the Northwest Territories. Graham got a job with the North West Company at a Northern Store up there, and we couldn’t be more excited to start this new chapter in our lives! It’s going to take a little while before we get things settled (the official move date is October 20th – I have so much to do!), but I promise we will do our best to keep the blog up and running as usual. 

We look forward to taking Ivy on her first plane trip, though of course we’re slightly terrified by the possibility that she may just lose her shit. But she loves watching airplanes, so we’re hoping she’ll love being in one just as much (knock on wood)! We’re bringing Willow with us, and I found a really comfy and warm carseat liner from when Ivy was just an itty bitty newborn winter baby that we’ll be lining her kennel with, so at least she’ll be comfortable.

Honestly, I can NOT wait to leave the hustle and bustle of the city. We live on the junction of Maryland Street and St. Matthew’s Avenue here, where inner city crime is generally at its height, and I am so pleased that we will no longer have to bear multiple emergency vehicle sirens in the middle of the night, or several fire alarms in our building due to faulty installation or the crazy noise of upstairs neighbours with twins plus one, since our new home is a side-by-side in a quiet bush town full of bears and foxes (I am not kidding) where we will get 20 hours of night in the middle of winter and light all the time in the middle of summer. Yes, the bugs will be bad. But I think this move will be good for all of us. I think it will help me clear my head. I think it will be good for my writing. I can’t wait to share my adventures with all of you (and of course keep reviewing the books on my list) as we make this wonderful change in our lives.

Love you all, and happy reading!   ❤ ❤ ❤   

 – SharaLee Podolecki


Husband/Wife Book Reviews – Graham Reviews ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ by Stephenie Meyer

I have it on good authority that the following review was written during a bubble bath, so it comes from the heart and a place of innermost zen. 😉 Enjoy, everyone. – SharaLee ❤

Three books down, one and a half to go!  I’ve recently completed Eclipse, and it has done a lot to convince me that Stephenie Meyer has a curious sense of what love is.

Eclipse picks up where New Moon left off with Bella and Edward happily together and the imposing prospect of Bella becoming a vampire and (gasp) graduation approaching. Bella, however, is torn between her love for Edward and her lingering feelings for Jacob – her werewolf companion from New Moon. Jacob makes things difficult by basically following Bella around and having pretty much everyone she knows save the Cullens wonder why she’s not with him. A love triangle ensues with Bella spending time with them both.

The actual conflict stems from trouble in Seattle where newborn vampires are causing havoc until finally (surprise) the pieces come together and, in fact, these wild newborns are coming to get Bella. Why? Because Victoria the jilted ex-lover of James from Twilight (remember?) still wants to get her revenge on Edward. To stop this a vampire-werewolf alliance comes together and after an awkward camping trip featuring some cringe-inducing scenes with Jacob, Bella watches Edward kill Victoria and the rest of the newborn vampires are destroyed. Jacob is injured but he heals, and Bella graduates and prepares for her wedding with Edward. Jacob says he’s waiting to get Bella for himself. Happy Ending? Ummm…maybe.

I wrote in my previous review how much I found Edward and Bella to be harsh towards the pitiable figure of Jacob, but after reading Eclipse, I have a hard time having anything but contempt for the three of them. If anything, Edward comes out of Eclipse looking honourable, while Jacob comes across as a creepy stalker guy who can’t take no for an answer. The scene in the tent with Jacob ‘keeping Bella warm’ while talking to Edward (who’s watching the whole thing) is weird, and Bella convincing herself she’s dreaming is almost laughable. Also, the long-anticipated showdown with Victoria is anti-climactic, since the Weird Tent Scene has almost double the book time given to it than the battle that I had spent over half the book looking forward to.

I could write a whole article on Bella, and in fact, it’s rather tempting. There is so much not to like about her character, so I’ll sum up for now: Girls, please don’t expect guys to be like Edward or Jacob. Real guys would realize how much of a two-timer you were being and dump you!

In reality, Eclipse gives me an unsettling idea of love that I worry Meyer is pushing on her readers. This idea is that love is one of obsession – and not just the usual sense of being enamoured with someone that comes with a crush or a lover – but one of possessiveness and objectification. Jacob wants Bella and he refuses her saying ‘no’ several times and gets what he wants. (A kiss and some time with Bella, not ‘that’). Bella responds to this assault (and that’s what it is) by relenting! What is Meyer trying to tell us? More confusing are Edward’s traditional views of no sex until marriage. So Meyer presents us with a couple strange choices: let a man take it from you or let the man make you marry him first. Removed from this is Bella’s own choice – in fact, it’s been made for her by her men! Add to that the fact that Bella obliviously plays them both. It just sends readers weirder messages about women, like should a man control a woman? If not, she might mess with you like Bella!

This book was a particular struggle to review because there was so much to dislike about it and so little to like. I liked Jasper’s story. He has a fascinating history. But that’s about it.

I give Eclipse 1.5 stars out of 5

– Graham Podolecki

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Husband/Wife Book Reviews – Graham Reviews ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’ by Stephenie Meyer

So as many of you already know, my husband (Graham) and I like to challenge each other to read certain books that we think would be interesting for the other to review.  Graham usually chooses engaging or thought-provoking books for me to read. I respond in kind (as any good wife would) with sparkly vampire romances. Here is his review of New Moon, and I must say, I actually agreed with him when I read this as well. Enjoy!

Well, I’m back to keep you (my enthralled audience) informed on my adventures through The Twilight Saga. This time I’m taking on the second installment: New Moon.

Picking up where Twilight leaves off, New Moon chronicles Bella and Edward’s relationship after they become ‘official’, with problems quickly arising. Edward fears that the nature of his family will ultimately doom Bella to death – or worse, becoming a vampire. He decides to make a clean break, leaving Forks with the Cullens, and our protagonist is left in a state of über hopelessness. The middle part of New Moon explores Bella’s friendship with Jacob Black, and Bella’s slow understanding that he, like Edward, hides a secret. Jacob disappears and returns a different person, and Bella discovers that Jacob, like many in his native tribe, has become a werewolf. With Edward gone, Bella is conflicted and on the verge of falling for Jacob when the Cullens return, needing Bella’s help. The final part of New Moon describes Bella saving Edward from the Volturi, an old, powerful vampire family in Italy. To save Bella from the Volturi, the Cullens promise to turn Bella into a vampire. The book ends with Bella and Edward reunited, a dejected Jacob looking on, and Bella awaiting being turned into a vampire.

Reading New Moon, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away, but I found this work tended to feel like cereal that has sat in milk a little too long. It still has the flavour, and the look of the initial cereal, but the texture and consistency are off. Meyer carries the story on in a satisfying direction, the vampire world is expanded, the world around Forks is dug into more deeply, and we get to know more about Jacob, the fascinating outlier character in Twilight. The writing flows well, there is a good use of humour and like in Twilight, I enjoyed the buildup to the climactic scene with the bizarre and creepy Volturi.

The big problem I have with New Moon (and I think it really is dangerous when writing) is that Meyer has made her main two characters difficult to like. I could not get over the sense at the end of this book that Bella and Edward were just being cruel to Jacob, and acting completely oblivious to those around them just for their love. Edward had just gone on an angst-ridden trip to Italy, and put everyone in grave danger for what? Hearing a rumour that Bella was dead! What about going and checking yourself, Edward?! Edward’s breakup with Bella is terribly childish in how he acts, as well as really cruel. And Bella, her entire ‘relationship’ with Jacob was based on her getting some feeble reminder of Edward! She is totally using him! Jacob has to go through trying to see if Bella likes him, getting suddenly transformed into a werewolf, then seeing Bella ditch him for her jerk ex-boyfriend. I really feel sorry for Jacob.

And inevitably this makes me dislike Meyer’s main characters, and what’s the point of reading a book where I don’t like the main characters?

My wife challenged me, and I have no choice, so stay tuned for my next review, that of Eclipse. I give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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Husband/Wife Book Reviews: ‘The Twilight Saga: Twilight’ by Stephenie Meyer

My wife delighted in challenging me to read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, and despite my many delays I completed it nearly a year after being challenged. (An over-the-weekend reader I am not).
For those of you living in a cave and came out to read my review (a fine choice) Twilight is the love story of Forks, Washington exile Bella Swan and with the both unbelievably handsome and strange Edward Cullen. Through a variety of odd events/rescues, Bella finds out that Edward and his family are vampires. Drawn to one another, despite their differences, Bella soon finds herself in the world of the fascinating and dangerous world of the Cullens. With all its risks, Bella is left to decide whether or not a life with Edward is possible, and Meyer’s work ends happily with the two together.
While widely criticized (particularly the simplified movie version) for having a predictable storyline, a variety of romantic and high-school cliches, and at times groan-inducing/creepy acts of love (Edward watching Bella sleep every night comes to mind) Twilight does have some redeeming and enjoyable parts to it.
One of the things I noticed reading this work was Meyer’s naturalistic feel to the whole work. Forks, Washington really comes alive, and the idea of the dark, damp brooding forest surrounding the characters really helps add to the books feel of strangeness and beauty. Likewise, Meyer writes in an easy-going, at times quite humorous, style that instantly connects the reader with the mind and world of a high school student. Bella, despite how odd she believes she is, is a very easy person to understand and relate to. Certain relationships, like the one between Bella and her father Charlie are charming in both their distance and closeness. Even with all the supernatural things happening in Twilight, the characters and the environment are very real.
Meyer’s use of tension, especially when Bella is in Port Angeles, or dealing with the Tracker in Phoenix is very effective, and even had me an out-and-out critic of Twilight, really into it. Despite my best efforts, I actually did enjoy reading this book.
Now, only 3 books left to see if this will hold up.

3 stars out of 5

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A Look At My Books (February 17, 2015)

Reposted from my YouTube channel, ‘SharaLee Reads’:

(A sort of home video featuring strange noises, book shelves, and my first time recording with an iPad…)


Husband/Wife Book Reviews – ‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert (March 29th, 2014)

Reposted from Livejournal:

Hello, dear readers!!! As you may remember, a while ago, my husband and I challenged each other to read a book and review it. I was given Bram Stoker’s Dracula and my husband Graham was allotted Frank Herbert’s Dune. Here are those reviews! The honour of first review goes to my husband Graham Podolecki, who, admittedly, writes better book reviews than I do.

Dune by Frank Herbert

A prophetic and earnest work, Frank Herbert’s Dune is a foundational text for modern science fiction, bringing in themes that in 1968 were just beginning to acquire prominence: ecology, over-dependence on foreign resources, and the sometimes breathtaking ignorance of ruling powers to the needs or even existence of former colonial societies. Dune addresses these issues in the background of the rise of young Paul Atreides whose family’s recent acquisition of Arrakis from the rival Harkonnen family. This sets off a play of factors that transforms him into the prophet and overall superman of the native population (Fremen) Muab’Dib.

Featuring an epic scale of characters, and the first work in a long line of sequels, Dune seems to spend a significant amount of time introducing its world, and it lags in parts. Herbert’s introspective look at his character provides fascinating psychological analysis, although the book seems to have an over-serious view; humour is almost entirely absent. Dune is a rewarding work to read but the reader must be patient, and ready to slog through rough patches.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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