Category Archives: May 2015

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.

newmoonreviewface


Poetry Post – ‘stardust’ by daenor

One of my dirty little secrets is that I have completed writing an anthology of poetry, but it is as-yet-unpublished.

My poetry pen-name is daenor (which is roughly translated to shadowflame in Quenya – a form of High Elvish created by J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings, and many, many others), and hence why my blog’s address is daenorestel.wordpress.com instead of sharaleereads.wordpress.com. (Additionally, estel is the Sindarin or more common Elvish word for hope, a name I chose because though some days I feel like shadow, and some days I feel like flame, writing always gives me hope).

elvishestel

It can sometimes take me a while to finish a book for review, but I thought I’d share with you one of my poems maybe once a week, and see what you think of them. And what better poem to start with than this? I give you one that actually references my pen-name (but in English), and is based on the great 2007 movie ‘Stardust’ (directed by Matthew Vaughn, starring Charlie Cox and Claire Danes, based on the book by Neil Gaiman):

stardust

Without further ado, here it is. Please enjoy stardust:

stardust

a fallen star,

unlikely boy –

such treasure found.

if i could shine

like that,

i would:

to you be bound.

a darkness stands

between us,

won’t you

break it down?

let starlight

gently

flood the night:

receive your crown.

i am not golden,

i am but

a shadowflame

to flicker in

the corner,

whispering your name.

there are so many reasons why,

both yes and no.

you stand there,

i forget them and

i simply glow.

– daenor

shadowflame


20 Years Later, Elizabeth Montgomery Fans Are Still ‘Bewitched’

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It is currently 9:56 pm on Sunday night, May 17th, 2015 and tomorrow  marks the 20th year after actress Elizabeth Montgomery’s passing. When Founder/Executive Director of the Classic TV Preservation Society Herbie J. Pilato sent me some books about her to review (links to where you can purchase them will be below, and full reviews of each will be posted as they are completed), I really didn’t know what to expect. I had watched very few episodes of Bewitched in my life, but was aware of them somewhat in passing. I didn’t know her name, I simply knew her as the ‘witch with a twitch’ (referring to her Bewitched character Samantha’s habit of twitching her nose when she’s doing magic). That all changed when I picked up Pilato’s The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery. I became enchanted with the interesting and confident and gutsy life she lived, and fell in love with the characters I read about her playing. I came to deeply respect and admire a person who had such fame and used it to prove a point or to open eyes or to break down barriers. Ms. Montgomery was an intelligent, empowered woman, and the world needs more people like her. She passed away of cancer at her home in Beverly Hills in 1995, but her political activism and charity work are still remembered. Rest in peace, Elizabeth. Rest in peace.

Who is your favourite starlet of Classic TV? Mine would have to be Lucille Ball (which is interesting, since William Asher, who directed both ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Bewitched’ was also at one point Elizabeth Montgomery’s husband):

2262840-12___i_love_lucy_show            bewitched

For the Elizabeth Montgomery fan, or for someone who just wants to know about her filmography, check out this book: The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery – Herbie J. Pilato (the one I’m currently enjoying)

theessentialelizabethmontgomery

For the Elizabeth Montgomery diehard who wants an in-depth look at Elizabeth’s life and career: Twitch Upon a Star – Herbie J. Pilato

twitchuponastar

For any lover of the women of Classic television: Glamour, Gidgets, and the Girl Next Door – Herbie J. Pilato

glamourgidgetsandthegirlnextdoor


Fated: Book 1 – A Draemorian Chronicle: The Western World by Sebastien Leonard

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When I first read Fated: A Draemorian Chronicle: The Western World by Sebastien Leonard, I was provided with a rough draft to offer my editorial thoughts. My feedback on the rough draft revolved mostly around how much I liked the characters, the potential of the fascinating world Mr. Leonard had created, and my appreciation of the parallels he had drawn between the history of his world and that of ours. I told him to flesh things out a little more and that I would love to see a more polished version in future. Well, I just finished the final version, and to be honest – I was not disappointed.

As a reader, a writer, and sometimes editor (and especially as a writing reader who edits while reading), it is SUCH a joy to me when I see someone reach a potential that I know they have. Leonard’s writing had a spark to it when I read the rough draft. It is so wonderful to see that spark fanned into a flame.

The book is composed of two major parts: the first part being a compilation of journal entries from the minstrel, Sorrownote, and a collection of documents from various characters in the second part who each introduce the histories of the various parts of Draemoria in their own unique voice as a backdrop to the story. The second part is a novella involving the writers of those documents in a battle that sets the readers up for the rest of the series (and, Sebastien tells me, a future video game franchise as well!).

The first part of the book was completely revamped from the rough draft, and I loved how each document was separated by a journal entry and the voice of the character was made much clearer throughout. The rough draft had me confused, but this final version is exactly what I was hoping for.

The novella had a few problems with grammar and sentence structure in the middle, but because the first part of the book had been arranged in such a way that I really cared about the characters and attained that suspension-of-disbelief element, I only really thought about it after the fact instead of being stopped in my tracks, because I was actually so involved in the story that I didn’t care about the grammar.

The rough draft was also devoid of illustrations, and when I received my copy of the final draft, I was elated because Derek Sproule had done some absolutely beautiful artwork for it. A fantasy novel is never really complete without proper illustrations, and the map of Draemoria was also really helpful in helping track the band’s journey throughout the land. The illustrations capture the essence of the novel at its heart, and I really liked that. It was clear the illustrator and the author both shared the same vision, and especially for a new fantasy series, that is very important.

Map of Draemoria

Map of Draemoria.

Derek Sproule's illustration of 'Paradigm: Island of Ash'

Derek Sproule’s illustration of ‘Paradigm: Island of Ash’

This book is total fantasy nerd fun, and I love it. I think it would make an AMAZING graphic novel, if the opportunity ever arose, and I am actually really excited for the day it becomes a video game because I could see myself TOTALLY addicted to it. The thing to remember when reading this book is that it is the beginning to a series, and Leonard is purposely choosing to introduce the history first so the reader has background to go on, much as one would in a video game’s script, and that the story itself will deepen and become more intricate as other books come out. I am very excited about this new author and I hope you all go and buy his book. I give it a very well-deserved 3.5 stars out of 5.

Support Sebastien and help him get more books in print here: https://www.inkshares.com/projects/a-draemorian-chronicle-the-western-world

See more of Derek’s work here: https://www.facebook.com/DerekSprouleFineArt

So long, and happy reading!