“Breaking Dawn: Twilight #4” Stephenie Meyer

Rated 5 stars ***** 2008. Little, Brown and Company. 756 p.

BreakingDawnThis last book in the incredibly successful “Twilight” series is so much better than the others. Of course everyone knows Bella and Edward get married, as that was so inevitable. What wasn’t expected is her sudden pregnancy, and what happens because of that pregnancy, which is the reason for the book. Her entrance into the world of vampires has been expected since “Twilight,” but new things about this world are revealed to readers, which are very unexpected.

“Breaking dawn” breaks new ground in that Bella is much more self-assured and, though she does have a few insecurities, I think she’s finally grown up. There is a lot more laugh out loud humor, especially from Jacob, that will keep readers chuckling. The love between her and Edward is so much more pronounced, which shows me that I was right in choosing him over Jacob.

It’s interesting Meyer left the ending a little open ended, as if she expected to continue the not-quite-over conflict in another book. However, it’s been 9 years and nothing else has been written, so I guess she left it to the reader’s imagination to come up with our own sequel. That’s too bad. I would’ve liked the series to continue, and to have had some unanswered questions be answered. Goodbye Edward. I’ll miss you.

Now that I’ve reread the entire book series, I’m off to watch the movie series again. Can’t get enough of Robert Pattison aka Edward.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

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“Eclipse: Twilight #3” Stephenie Meyer

Rated 5 stars ***** 2007. Little, Brown and Company. 629 p.

Eclipse“Eclipse” continues the exciting story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen by adding Jacob Black as a love interest, with both vying for her attention. Despite her feelings towards Edward, Jacob is sure she’ll choose him while Edward is determined to step away if that is her desire. Bella is unable to make a decision, as she loves both of them, but will have to make a choice whether she likes it or not. In the meantime, the Cullens and werewolves from La Push are forced to team up to try and stop an army of newborns who have one goal in mind – to kill Bella.

It’s easy for readers to split into Jacob vs. Edward camps, as each have redeeming factors. On the plus side Jacob is tall, dark haired, muscled, handsome, very fast, generates extremely warm body heat, understands Bella, and would do anything for her. On the negative side he’s at least 2 years younger, is a bit immature, and can change too quickly into a werewolf (especially when angry), which could be dangerous to Bella.

Edward’s positives points are that he’s tall, lighter haired than Jacob, chiseled and incredibly handsome, has mesmerizing eyes and breath, is very fast, has a velvety speaking voice, understands Bella, and would do anything for her. On the negative side he’s extremely cold, as hard as marble, is so strong he could accidentally crush Bella if he’s not careful, and regularly needs to hunt for blood since he is a vampire.

There are many instances where Jacob and Edward clash, including some humorous ones and, when you’re done, you’ll have to decide. Who would you choose? I like Jacob, but find myself in the Edward camp. His gentleness, protectiveness and incredible love for Bella are too hard to resist.

Meanwhile I’m still annoyed at Bella, as she continues to find too many ridiculous reasons to be insecure around Edward, keeps getting in his way, and generally gets on my nerves.

Recommended for 14 and older.

“New Moon: Twilight #2” Stephenie Meyer

Rated 5 stars ***** EBook. 2006. Little, Brown and Company.

NewMoonIn this second book of the wildly successful “Twilight” series, Bella is heartbroken because Edward broke up with her. He told her he didn’t love her anymore, and felt it would be best if he and his family went away forever so she could move on with her life as if he’d never existed. True to his word, he disappeared – taking her heart and sanity with him.

Without Edward, Bella falls into a deep depression, which goes on for seven months. Her only escape from the unbearably lonely days and nights without Edward is time spent with Jacob Black, a young Native American from the nearby reservation who is an old family friend. As her friendship with Jacob intensifies, she learns of how he and others from his tribe turn into werewolves to protect their land from vampires – their natural enemies. As she continues spending time with him, she wonders if he can be enough to help her forget Edward. Could the love of a younger, but handsome and strong teen werewolf, help her forget the unforgettable and breathtakingly handsome vampire who broke her heart?

Bella is at her worst in “New Moon,” as she goes on and on about the hole in her body Edward left when he disappeared. She refuses to try to heal herself, and wallows constantly in self-pity. Readers will quickly get annoyed with her. The very bright spot in the book is the character of Jacob Black who, though briefly mentioned in “Twilight,” gets full billing in “New Moon.” Again make sure to read the book before you see the movie, as Taylor Lautner’s handsome face will forever be associated with Jacob.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Life and death: Twilight reimagined” Stephenie Meyer

Rated 5 stars ***** 2016. Little, Brown and Company. 387 p.

LifeAndDeath“Twilight”, the beloved story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2015. In this version, Meyer worked a little creativity into the original story by casting a female vampire, Edyth Cullen, into Edward’s role, while handsome Beau Swan replaces Bella as her irresistible human love interest.

Most of the original adventures of these love struck lovers in the little town of Forks unfolds before readers as we see Edyth through the eyes of Beau, who is struck dumb by Edyth’s beauty. Readers have the chance to see their love story live again through Beau’s eyes as she sweeps him into the heights of ecstasy as only an enticing vampire can do.

I will admit that readers should expect a few surprises in this version, but I won’t give them away. You’ll have to read to the very last exciting page to find out to what I refer. Like me, you might get inspired to read the series all over again.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Every hidden thing” Kenneth Oppel

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Published October 11, 2016. Simon & Schuster. 357 p.

everyhiddenthingWith the Westward Expansion of the 1800’s came land grabbing and Native American battles, along with the discovery of dinosaur bones buried in rock. At that time the study of dinosaurs was relatively new, with fame and bragging rights associated with their unearthing. The intense rivalry by paleontologists Edward Drinker [Drinkwater] Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, to find the biggest and best of these bones and claim them as their own, became known as the “Bone Wars.”

Using these real life occurrences as background for his historical novel, Oppel introduces readers to Professors Bolt and Cartland. After being sent fossils from the largest dinosaur he’d ever seen, Professor Bolt and his son Samuel travel west to find the “Rex,”. Unbeknownst to him Professor Cartland and his daughter Rachel were on the same train, also seeking the Rex.

While engaging in regular conversation as a way to spy for their fathers, Samuel and Rachel fall in love. However, with the competition between their fathers heating up as each gets closer to discovering the Rex’s location, Rachel and Samuel’s love will be tested in ways neither had ever expected.

I really enjoyed learning about these paleontologists, as I had never known fossil hunting happened during the Westward Expansion. Besides the rivalry of two historical paleontologists, Oppel’s carefully researched novel also includes the impact of the expansion on the lives of the Sioux Indians and how some reacted. Though billed as a Romeo and Juliet type novel, “Every hidden thing” is much more. It is history come to life.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

“If I Fall, If I Die” Michael Christie

Rated 3 stars *** Ebook. ARC. Published January 20, 2015. Hogarth.

IfIFallIfIDieInside has always been part of Will’s life. His mother Diane is afraid of everything, including Outside. When the fear is strongest she disappears into her own darkness, which he nicknamed the Black Lagoon. Extremely possessive and paranoid, she makes him take every precaution to avoid the same fate which befell her brother and father.

Schooling consists of listening to his mother read books, painting his masterpieces, listening to music and watching videos. Everything they need comes straight from deliverymen, courtesy of Diane’s credit card or checkbook. Life on the Inside has always been satisfying to Will, until the day he decides to investigate a strange Outside noise where he meets Marcus.

Soon Marcus is reported missing. Unable to bear the thought of his very first friend being lost, Will braves the Outside to attend school for the first time to find him. There he meets Jonah, who has been written off by the town because he’s Indian. Their friendship bonds around their mutual love for drawing and skateboarding, and the boys are soon inseparable. However as their search for Marcus intensifies, they realize there is something dark and dangerous happening in their town. Someone is not happy with his investigation and, if Will and Jonah continue to uncover secrets from the past, it may cost them their lives.

“If I Fall, If I Die,” is a rather unusual novel in that the main characters are both children and adults. Through flashbacks readers learn of Diane’s early life and her struggles against mental illness, while most of the book is centered around Will, Jonah and their friendship. It will give reader’s much to think about.

Recommended for High schoolers and Adults.

“Manroot” Anne Steinberg

Rated 1 star * ebook. 2014. Amazon Digital Services* (see note below)

ManrootIn the year 1939 Katherine and her father Jesse, who had been traveling the country seeking work, found themselves in the sleepy town of Castlewood alongside the Meramec River in Missouri. There they were taken in by Freda, the head cook of a local hotel, where Katherine soon found herself alone when Jesse decided to set off for greener pastures without her.

Katherine enjoyed working as a maid and became adept at discovering the healing properties of native plants and herbs, a skill inherited from her Navajo mother. Despite many superstitious tendencies regarding the river, animals and nature, Katherine thrived in her new environment. She was content until a barrage of emotions towards Judge William Reardon, a married man who frequented the hotel and local whorehouses, was unleashed. A strange magical quality seemed to exist between them, and their love for each other knew no bounds. Throughout their affair, Katherine felt a strange sense of foreboding but not even she could predict the future and how they would come to be inextricably bound in a web of love, deceit, hatred and fear.

I found “Manroot” at times to be rambling, forcing the reader to endure more information than was necessary as the author jumped from thought to thought. I didn’t quite get the significance of searching for, and finding, manroot nor why finding one that looked like a man seemed to be significant. In later chapters (even up until they grew up) the children we meet later in the book joined her in this search but the reasoning for it still escaped me.

In addition, Steinberg used stereotypical terms when she described Katherine as being “slender and agile” with “small breasts set high on her torso” then went on to say this was “unlike the soft cow-like appearance of many mature Navajo women.” I found this to be very insulting to Navajo women. Towards the end of the book one of the characters admitted to feeling shame because of how she’d thought Katherine was ignorant, when in fact she was quite intelligent, but this early statement by the author about Navajo women still gnawed at me.

She later went on to use the word “gypped” to describe someone being cheated out of something, an insult towards Gypsies, and I found both prejudicial examples to be quite distasteful. In addition her excessive use of exclamation points was very distracting. I lost track of how many she used in just the first chapter, all of which showed Steinberg could have used a good editor.

At times I did find myself wondering about Katherine’s children and how the future would play out for them but, overall, I didn’t like “Manroot.” However I will leave it up to you to decide if You Want to Read it or Not.

*NOTE: Though the author commented on another site that the book was not self published and was edited by the Publisher Headline Review in London, England, I still thought it needed editing.