Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Breaking Dawn - Stephanie Meyer (2008)

4 stars

I really love Breaking Dawn. It is my favourite in the series. I love the huge leaps it makes and all the events that follow and the very satisfying ending. The book is divided into three parts - the first and third being narrated by Bella and the second narrated by Jacob (which I found terribly tedious.) The publishing company took measure to ensure the contents wouldn't be leaked, which was a bit of a problem with the previous books.

Over 1.3 million copies were sold with the first 24 hours of its release, which I think is pretty staggering. Especially compared with the 150 000 of its prequel (Source: Wikipedia). It was awarded the British Book Award for 'Children's Book of the Year'. The movie was released in two parts - which I can only assume was designed to drag out the hype and make more money. Here is the trailer for part one and here is the trailer for part two.

Edward and Bella get married on their honeymoon. She manages to seduce him into some typical honeymoon activity, but she ends up with bruises everywhere and he refuses to try again. For the rest of the honeymoon he keeps her busy with a variety of activities. She develops a big appetite from all the exertion and makes herself ill from eating bad chicken. While looking for something she happens upon a box of tampons and realises she's late. She looks in the mirror and sees her tummy is swollen. Edward is shell-shocked and immediately calls Carlisle and they rush home to get rid of it. While alone, Bella contacts Rosalie. Once home, Rosalie protects her and refuses to let Carlisle operate. Bella struggles and is very ill with a bruised stomach. Jacob sees and is disgusted. Edward is miserable, until he learns he can hear the baby's thoughts. Eventually they decide that they baby is big enough and that it needs to be delivered. It breaks Bella's spine and is delivered. She holds the baby girl and names it Renesmee. Jacob resuscitates Bella while Edward injects his venom into her heart. Bella awakes as a vampire and finds Jacob has imprinted on her baby girl and furious. She and Edward go to hunt and she happens upon a human and she manages to resist despite her newborn status. The Cullen family is amazed. One day, while with Renesmee and Jacob, Bella sees Irina (a fellow vampire) staring at Renesmee. Irina thinks she is an immortal child (a child bitten by a vampire, which has no self-control) and reports it to the Volturi. Thing is Renesmee is growing at an incredible rate and they are worried how long she will live. The Cullen family gather their international friends to witness that Renesmee is half-human for the Volturi. The Volturi arrive and kill Irina for her false witness. It nearly comes to a fight, but Bella is able to shield everyone on her side. Alice brings another half-human, half-vampire and the Volturi and satisfied that Renesmme is not a danger. Bella learns how to put down her shield and Edward is able to read her mind for the first time, and they live happily ever after.

Eclipse - Stephanie Meyer (2007)

3 stars

I couldn't stop reading the series now, could I? I think Eclipse is my least favourite out of the four in the seies. In the first 24 hours of its release it sold more than 150 000 copies. It was the 4th bestselling book in 2008 beaten only the others in the saga (which confirms my theory that it is the worst one...) And here is the trailer.

Bella is struggling with having a friendship with Jacob whilst being in love with Edward. Edward doesn't like her hanging out with Jacob as he is a new werewolf and therefore very volatile. There is a string of murders in the nearby city of Seattle and the Cullen family suspect a newborn vampire. Alice sees Victoria in Forks hunting for Bella and Bella becomes constantly watched by the Cullens. Edward proposes to Bella and they make a deal - she will agree if he promises to change her himself after graduation. The Cullen family learn that it is not only Victoria that is after Bella. She is raising a newborn army in Seattle to train them to kill Bella and the Cullen family. The Cullen family and the werewolves becomes allies and prepare for a fight. Edward and Bella hide in a clearing with one of the werewolves, Seth. Victoria and a newborn find them and start to attack. When Bella sees that Edward and Seth are losing, she cuts her arm in a distraction attempt. Seth polishes off the newborn and Edward decapitates Victoria. They return to the rest of the family and find the Cullen family have killed all the newborns, except one that surrendered. The Volturi arrives and repeat that Bella must be made a vampire soon. They also kill the newborn that surrendered, despite the fact that Carlisle was going to make her part of the family.

New Moon - Stephanie Meyer (2006)

3 stars

I read this because once you start the series, it's pretty difficult to stop. Acoording to the author, the title is a reference to the darkest stage of the lunar cycle, suggesting this is the darkest time of the protagonist Bella's life (Source: Wikipedia). It reached  #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and USA Today's Top 150 bestsellers.  It was the best selling book of 2009. I really do like this book. It does tend to drag in the middle, but it picks up pretty quickly.

Here's the trailer for the movie adaption!

Edward and Bella can't stay away from each other. But Bella is starting to notice Edward distancing himself from her. He tells her he's leaving her and that he doesn't love her. This is devastating for Bella and she spends months acting like a zombie. Then she befriends Jacob, a childhood friend from the reserve. The pair become fast friends and restore a couple of motorbikes together. Bella realises that whenever she does something reckless or dangerous she can hear Edward's voice in her head. One day she decides to try cliff-diving - a pastime enjoyed by the kids on the reserve. Only problem is, Alice, Edward's future-seeing sister sees Bella jump and assumes she's committing suicide. Edward soon believes that Bella is dead. He goes to the Volturi - kind of like the vampire government - and asks them to kill him. But they refuse, mostly because their leader covets his talent. Meanwhile Alive visits Forks, only to find Bella is still alive. Alice and Bella rush to Italy and manage to save Edward before he reveals himself in the sunlight to the public. The Volturi meet Bella and claim that she cannot know their secret and remain human. Edward has to agree to make her a vampire some time in the near future. This is exactly what Bella wants, but not what Edward wants.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom (1997)

5 stars

I've seen this sitting up in the bestseller section of Dymocks for ages, and then I was inspired to read this when a friend of mine raved about it. I recently got a Kindle and as much as I love my collection of books, I really enjoy reading on my Kindle. It tells me how far I am through the book in a percentage and based on my reading speed it will tell me how long I have to finish the chapter or book - which I love. So I uploaded this onto my Kindle and got stuck right into it. It is a beautiful book that made me laugh (and cry as well.)

Here is a link to the trailer, I haven't seen the movie but I am not convinced that it could be as moving as I found the book. 

This is a true story about Mitch Albom's favourite college professor. He promised to keep in contact after college, but life happened. He became a sportswriter and joined the rat race. One day he sees Morrie on TV and he is not well. He then goes to visit the old man. Morrie has ALS which is a degenerative disease that is starting to kill him. Mitch visits him on Tuesdays and learns many things from the wise professor who loves his life and all the people in it. He inspires many and is visited constantly, even making more TV appearances on talk shows. Mitch records their conversations and as a final project writes this book. It is a beautiful story of a man who loves life until the end and wanted to share his story.

Twilight - Stephanie Meyer (2005)

3.5 stars

I read this because I really felt like rereading it. I haven't read the series since 2008. I was quickly involved in the book and couldn't put it down. I'm pretty sure if you haven't heard of the Twilight Saga you must be living under a rock. When it came out it reached #5 on the New York Times bestseller list within a month and later that year reached #1. It was the biggest selling book of 2008, and was the second best selling in 2009 - only overtaken by its sequel New Moon.

I read a good review on Goodreads, where a guy called Chris split his review into three parts. One written from the perspective of his inner 15 year-old-girl, one as a fan of YA fiction and one as his inner feminist. I found this funny and a clever way to explain his feelings toward the novel. I think I love this book because I relate to Bella and am totally sucked in on the romantic aspects. On the other hand, many consider it a terrible example of good writing and shudder at the thought of a generation of young girls obsessing over the series. Interestingly enough, despite the author being female, I do find the book a little sexist (I have heard it said that this is due to Meyer's Mormon background). The heroine Bella is constantly the damsel in distress. She is portrayed as being inept and constantly clumsy. She is also constantly cooking and cleaning for her father. All in all I do like this book. I'm not going to lie. If you want a romance where you find yourself desperately wishing you could date the hero - this is the book to read.

Here's a link to a page on Meyer's website where she explains the story behind Twilight.

Here's a link to the online version of Midnight Sun - Twilight from Edward's perspective. It is very interesting.

And here's the trailer. (and yes, the movie is a little cringe-worthy)

Bella meets Edward and falls in love with him. Thing is, he's a vampire and for some reason her blood smells extra good to him. Edward can read minds, everyone's minds - but for some reason not Bella's. The two spend more time together and become a couple. She meets the rest of his vampire "family" - and they are what they call "vegetarian" being as they abstain from human blood and feed off animals instead. Another coven confronts Edward's family and they are not the vegetarian type. The leader James sees how protective Edward is of Bella and immediately sees it as a challenge. Edward reads his mind and quickly puts Bella into hiding with his siblings while he hunts James. James gets into contact with Bella and tells her he has her mother. Bella escapes to meet James so she can sacrifice herself to save her mother. Edward's family arrives just in time to save Bella - James tricked her and her mother was never in danger - but not before James bites Bella and Edward has to suck the venom out of the wound and only just manages to stop in time before killing her.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Spark - Amy Kathleen Ryan (2012)

5 stars

I was browsing through the book depository when I came across this book and remembering how much I loved Glow I bought it, it definitely lived up to it's predecessor.

This book is told from the three different perspectives of Seth, Waverly and Kieran, it is a testament to how well the author writes that some characters I used to hate I now like and some characters I used to like I now hate. She shows what effect power has on people and how torture and kidnapping can affect a person's behaviour, I loved reading Kieran's inner monologue and how he was justifying his actions at the same time Seth was reprimanding himself for acting that way. Anne Mather is a villan  for the history books, my hatred for her runs so deep that whenever I'm reading her dialogue I curse at her out loud, I can't wait for the next book, Flame, to come out in 2014 so I can finally see her taken down. My favourite characters in this novel were Tobin and Seth. Tobin is just so brave it amazes me, his character was needed as a moral comparison for the rest of the crew members to live up to in my mind. Although I disliked Seth in the previous book, his cleverness, kindness, and love for Waverly make him a very loveable character.

The book starts with Seth being let out of the brig and the alarms going off in the ship, someone had set the thrusters to go off to try to fling them off course. Kieran fixes this, then when he realizes Seth is out he immediately blames him. Waverly knows that Kieran is going mad with power and it wasn't Seth that did it, so she calls an election for a central council to help Kieran in which she is elected as a member. Seth realizes a terrorist from the New Horizon is on board so he tries to stop him and gets hurt so badly he has to stitch himself up in Waverly's room where he immediately collapses after the procedure from the pain. Waverly gets home and starts to help Seth and where she next arranges to drop him food he realizes is where the terrorist is sending messages from. When Seth goes to find Waverly and warn her, the terrorist is already there and almost kills them both before they knock him out. Kieran then decides to board the New Horizon to discuss the return of their parents from Anne Mather but the Central Council's plan to attack them and get their parents while he was negotiating failed. As they are being sent back on their shuttle they see the Empyrean's hull explode. Waverly gets Sarek to take all the kids to the New Horizon while she goes to the brig to save Seth. After they return to the shuttles Seth kisses Waverly then doesn't get on the shuttle with her and stays on the damaged Empyrean alone.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Size 12 and Ready to Rock - Meg Cabot (2012)

3.5 stars

I bought this book because I really enjoy this series and if there was any chance I wasn't going to read this one, the book trailer/video clip they made to remind readers of the storyline would've changed my mind.

I think Cabot originally intended this as a trilogy, and I have no idea why she kept going with the series five years later, but I'm glad she did. Unlike the other novels in the series, the murderer turns out to be who Heather actually first thinks it is, also unlike the other novels it isn't just a jaded enemy of the victim. This time he's a deranged abusive perv who you grow to hate as much as all the other characters do. My favourite characters in this novel were Cooper and Tania. I found Cooper was a lot more involved in this book than the others and he was a good counter balance to Heather's character, I also found Tania to be surprisingly likeable and her strength in the final moments made me feel a bit like a proud mama. I would recommend this book or series to anyone who wants a funny read that is really more about following one woman's life than the murders or romance  surrounding her.

The book opens with Heather and Cooper finding Tania passed out in the penthouse of Fischer Hall. They learn that her bodygaurd was just shot so Cooper's father hires him as her bodygaurd until her old one gets better. Tania also insists that she move her upcoming rock camp for girls to Fischer Hall. Heather soon learns that Tania was married before, to her high school choir teacher, who abused her mentally and physically and since she left him for Jordan had been blackmailing her for money. When she stopped sending the money, he said he would hurt her and that's why when filming starts on the rock camp show, one of her producers eats a poisoned muffin and dies. Later Heather learns that one of the girls from the rock camp has been going over to Wasser Hall to meet her boyfriend and when she goes to get her, it's really Gary, Tania's ex, before she can get him, he jumps out the window and manages to get away. She then sees the girl had been using her scarf to hide the finger shaped bruises on her neck, which she says were her fault for not hitting the notes right. At the final show for the rock camp, Tania and Heather are left alone backstage when Gary comes in and tries to shoot Heather to get Tania to give him the money. Heather stabs him with a hair comb into his previous wound and as she's running away with Tania Cooper returns and shoots Gary in the chest.