Tag Archives: vampires

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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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 Ăźber 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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‘Resurrection: Sanctifying Grace’ by Elizabeth Davies (March 7th, 2015)

Re-posted from LiveJournal:

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I have arrived, at last, to the conclusion of Elizabeth Davies’ Resurrection trilogy, Sanctifying Grace. While I never did find out how it is that Grace can time-travel, and while I maintain that this trilogy should be advertised as a book in three parts instead of three books in a trilogy since none of them are able to stand alone as complete stories, I have to say that this trilogy was really good, and that the last book was my favourite.

Grace’s deteriorating health and consequent ‘demise’ had me in actual tears (usually enough to earn an extra star right there), and the double destiny of Roman & Grace (‘sanguinisto and regalato both’ as Davies puts it), was tied up excellently and with very few loose ends. I was curious why Viktor did not appear to recognize her when she first appeared outside Brecon Castle in the first book or why he never mentioned her first appearance to him while she was human, but I’m willing to chalk it up to the difference between her human and vampire forms, or that he didn’t want to tamper with destiny. Still, it was odd to me that he never would have once mentioned meeting her vampire form in the Dark Ages to Roman, even when he was feverishly trying to figure out if it would work to resurrect her somehow.

I liked that in this book, she is the one taking care of Roman instead of the sometimes ridiculous extent of her helpless female role in the other books (and when she is a helpless female in this book, it’s for the very understandable reason that she is dying of a brain tumour and merely the fact that she is female as well). After all the buildup and description of what life as Grace Llewellyn the Human With A Vampire Lover was like, I was kind of hoping for more adventures or even description as to what life as Grace the Vampire would be like, but I suppose that wouldn’t have been helpful for bringing the story to its conclusion.

As a trilogy, the first book has no ending, the second book has no beginning and no ending and the third book has no beginning, so these books seriously do depend on each other, and because they were marketed as three separate books, I found that to take away from the experience. As a whole story, this trilogy is really really good. I can tell a lot of research went into it, I loved all the characters as well as Davies’ writing style. 4 stars out of 5. Go read this! It’s good! (Warning for those who care to know: definite sex scenes – don’t read it if you don’t like that. Or better yet, read it but skip over those parts – the rest of the story is good too!)


‘Resurrection: Amazing Grace’ by Elizabeth Davies (February 21st, 2015)

Re-posted from LiveJournal:

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This is the second book in Elizabeth Davies’ Resurrection trilogy, and while still more interesting and well-written than most eBooks I have been unfortunate enough to read, I did not find it up to par with the first book in the trilogy, State of Grace. I truly enjoy the characters and the exploration of Brecon, Wales throughout various periods of history in this trilogy, but it is severely off-putting that the heroine, Grace Llewellyn, is constantly getting severely battered around (and not even seeking medical help!) without ever being able to properly fend for herself. I mean, she’s a pilot, right? Don’t you have to be really level-headed and focused to fly an aircraft? She’s really resourceful and sturdy, but would someone with the analytic skills required of a pilot really not look both ways when crossing an unknown street? I mean, yes, she’s been transported in this instance to 1873, but this basic safety principle has been ingrained in modern-day people since childhood, and would especially be put into effect by a person like Grace whose career involves piloting an aircraft. I mean sure, there are coordinates she must follow when flying, but she would also have to scan the sky at some point or other – she would be used to checking. There is no excuse for her to get run down by a horse because she didn’t look before she stepped out of an alleyway. And what was with refusing to go to a hospital when she returned from the 1700s??? Her collarbone was freaking BROKEN. I understand that she doesn’t want people to keep her in hospital because of her tumour, or to ask too many questions. But I mean, her consultant, Mr. Cunningham, is okay that she’s not in hospital, so if anyone had a problem with her leaving, she could refer them to him. She could explain her broken collarbone and bruising to thugs. They could be masked. The whole scene where Ianto smuggles her to London was basically just so Jeremiah could wipe her memory there. It was completely unnecessary. There could have been a better way to make that happen. However, I really do enjoy the time-travelling vampire romance idea, and I truly look forward to seeing if Grace will become a vampire or not, and if she and Roman will meet in their future.  Also, it bothers me to no end that this book series is advertised as a trilogy, when in reality it is more like three volumes of the same book.
3 stars out of 5.


‘Resurrection: State of Grace’ by Elizabeth Davies (January 18th, 2015)

Reposted from LiveJournal:

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State of Grace is not at all what I thought it would be like. It’s a paranormal romance/time travel novel set in Brecon, Wales. Grace Llewellyn is dying of an incurable brain tumour and often finds herself transported back to various time periods but still in the same location. During these unexplained trips that simply happen out of the blue (which she attributes to her tumour), she meets and falls in love with an intriguing vampire named Roman, who had been born in Roman times and resurrected 900 years previous to the book’s main time period of around 1060. The tiresome repetition of erotic coupling scenes aside (the first one or two were engaging, the others felt somewhat obligatory to me, but then again, I’m not much for sex scenes unless I’m really specifically seeking erotica, so that could just be my personal preference), I was pleasantly surprised by Davies’ clear and concise, yet descriptive and emotionally engaging writing style. I enjoyed and appreciated the amount of research that must have gone into the historical accuracy of events and people and places and even the linguistic changes that can take place in one place over hundreds of years, as well as the same attention to detail regarding the popular culture of Grace’s (our) modern time. Reminiscent of the best parts of both the Twilight Saga and Shades of Grey, yet not completely either, I really did enjoy this book. I am not much of a romance novel fan, so I was really surprised how much I liked it.

The only thing I will say straight off that I did not like was how abruptly the book ended. A cliffhanger is one thing, but I felt that nothing had truly been resolved and that there had been no clear direction or catharsis after Grace’s sudden return to her own time near the end. It really is necessary to have the next book (and possibly the last in the trilogy as well) to actually feel a sense of completion or satisfaction, and I did not like that. I feel any given book in a trilogy should be able to stand as a book on its own unless it is merely the first volume of one story. This book is marketed as a complete story in and of itself, and that’s simply not true.

That said, I eagerly began the next book in the trilogy, Amazing Grace, and look forward to finding out why Grace is able to time travel, why she keeps running into Roman the vampire, how their relationship progresses, what can be learned about Wales during the times she experiences there, and whether or not she will meet Roman in her own time. Also: will she become a vampire herself? I have a feeling that story (if it does take place) might be something reserved for the third book, Sanctifying Grace. A great light read, which I give 3.75 stars out of 5.


Husband/Wife Book Reviews – ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker (March 29th, 2014)

Reposted from Livejournal:

Dracula by Bram Stoker

This book, being the quintessential tome from which today’s obsession with vampires and all things related stems, was both more interesting and harder to get through than anticipated. Written in epistolary form, through letters, journal entries, newspaper excerpts and phonograph transcripts, Stoker’s technique is fascinating. I found some of the phonetic spelling of accents and density of various journal entries to be difficult to slog through, but the content itself held my interest.

I found Van Helsing’s quaint ways in the novel preferable to the badass ones of Hugh Jackman in the incredibly cheesy movie, ‘Van Helsing’. Quincey Morris’ bravado and Dr. John Seward’s psychologically clinical nature were well-represented stereotypes, and Dr. Seward’s pet patient, Renfield, is a strange creature worthy of Steve Buscemi himself. Mina and Jonathan Harker, Lucy Westenra, and Count Dracula himself: all of the above are excellent examples of characterization.

As for the ending, (which, if I may say so, my husband Graham disliked), I found its tragedy and passion to be appropriately pathetic enough for a book of the classic gothic horror genre. I give this 4 out of 5 stars.

To end this review, I would like to share some quotes I really liked from the book:

Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker.

– Dr. Abraham Van Helsing

There are darknesses in life, and there are lights; you are one of the lights.

– Van Helsing to Mrs. Wilhelmina Harker

You must fight Death himself, though he come to you in pain or in joy; by the day, or in the night; in safety or in peril! On your living soul I charge you that you do not die – nay, nor think of death – till this great evil be past.

– Van Helsing to Mina

We are truly in the hands of God. He alone knows what may be, and I pray Him, with all the strength of my sad and humble soul, that He will watch over my beloved husband; that whatever may happen, Jonathan may know that I loved him and honoured him more than I can say, and that my latest and truest thought will be always for him.

– Mina

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