Twilight (#1) by Stephanie Meyer

Published: 5th October 2005 (print)/14th May 2010 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 501/14 hrs and 51 mins
Narrator: Ilyana Kadushin
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
★   ★  ★  – 3 Stars

About three things I was absolutely positive.

First, Edward was a vampire.

Second, there was a part of him—and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be—that thirsted for my blood.

And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

It took me fourteen years but I have finally read Twilight and honestly…it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I can now agree that the movie made this into a much creepier story than it first appears. The first half actually reads like a normal YA novel, there’s a normal sounding girl in a normal kind of situation who falls for the pale, strange boy at her school…who turns out to be a vampire. I have no idea what the movie did to it but they made it much weirder and creepier than the vibe I got from this book. I’m not saying it is perfect, but it was a decent story.

As a character Bella is a bit strange but isn’t that the point? A different girl whose mind can’t be read by the vampires around her. Admittedly she is blasé about a few things which is strange, especially when you think she should have some kind of reaction, but maybe she is just a strange person which is totally within her rights to be.

I have only read a few vampire stories and each one has taken on a completely different approach to the vampire mythology. I liked Meyer’s approach, it is a different take on the traditional expectations which at the time was new. It may not be the blood sucking legends people expect but that is her whole point. This is “real life” and not the centuries of myth that has accumulated.

Edward is certainly odd. He has a curiosity about him in regards to Bella, but he also has a few moments of patronising and dare I say grooming. Despite being seventeen in appearance, he is clearly older mentally and you can see this in his actions. It is extremely creepy and having seen the debate over the years I honestly am no more enlightened why Edward is continuing to be 17 when he can lie and say he is 18 and go and live his life somewhere and not in high school.

Up until this point is was a decent enough introduction into this world, clearly the start of a bigger story Meyer has planned. The final third takes a sudden shift into the strange. Once Bella needs to be hidden it suddenly shifts to no other option than to flee. If they had an agreement with the other vampires why wouldn’t that stand? And of course there are hundreds of other people to feed on, why are they obsessed with this one? Is it only because she was friendly with them and it is deemed unnatural? This might be where Meyer was trying to make Bella into something special but that didn’t come across to me. It was too out of the blue. I don’t think I believed her reasoning for leaving town even despite the danger. I’m glad Meyer addresses this because it seemed to be a huge leap.

The narrator of the audiobook was ok, not great. The voices and tones Kadushin used for the characters didn’t work for them. It made Bella and Edward more soft spoken and breathy than they should have been and even if this was a paranormal and romantic story it doesn’t need to sound constantly dramatic and airy.

I can see the bigger story forming and I’m looking forward to see the few things I have picked up over the years finally in context. They are strange out of context and I have no doubt they will be strange in context as well.

You can purchase Twilight via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Have Yourself a Hairy Little Christmas by Rosie Greening

Published: 27th October 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Make Believe Ideas
Illustrator: Dawn Machell
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Santa wants a new hairstyle for Christmas, so Elf offers to help! Help Santa choose as you explore thick woolly beards, to ones that sparkle with glitter!

I got quite excited because looking at the touch and feel cover I thought this book might be like those “That’s not my…” books where each page had a different thing you could touch, but alas ‘tis not the case. The copy I read was just a special edition and not the norm for all of them.

So what we get instead is a cool beard you can touch on the cover, but inside are typical illustrations. That is not to say they are boring. After my disappointment subsided I actually quite liked them. They are cute and funny, Machell does a great job making these characters funny and represent the story Greening is telling.

The narrative itself is straight forward and simple, Santa wants a new look and each page depicts a new style the elf barber is trying. The rhyme is also simple, great for younger readers with big clear visual accompaniments and formatting that enhances reading aloud.

Overall, it is a sweet story. Santa finds his new look and the rhyming structure is clear and flows nicely. It is a creative holiday story and getting to play with a fluffy bear on the cover is an added bonus.

You can purchase Have Yourself a Hairy Little Christmas via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg

book-bite

Published: 1 February 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Allen & Unwin
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★  ★  – 3 Stars

 

This isn’t just about me. It’s also about the other people in my life – my mother, my father, my dead sister Sky, my penpal Denille, Rich Uncle Brian, Earth-Pig Fish and Douglas Benson From Another Dimension. These are people [with the exception of Earth-Pig Fish, who is a fish] who have shaped me, made me what I am. I cannot recount my life without recounting elements of theirs. This is a big task, but I am confident I am up to it.

Introducing Candice Phee: twelve years old, hilariously honest and a little … odd. But she has a big heart, the very best of intentions and an unwavering determination to ensure everyone is happy. So she sets about trying to ‘fix’ all the problems of all the people [and pets] in her life.

Jonsberg captures Candice’s uniqueness remarkably well. With her voice and actions we get an insight into who she is and the kind of life she leads. She has a unique way of thinking and acting, but while she is odd in some people’s eyes, her heart has good intentions.

The premise of detailing her story through the A-Z school assignment is a clever solution as it allows Candice’s story to be told in full and you can see the interconnecting actions. Jonsberg explores her family situation and the complex history naturally and in due course, we also get to see her interactions with those around her like her friends and fellow classmates.

Underneath the humour and the quirkiness there is a powerful story about family and forgiveness, and the healing nature of love. Candice is a powerful force in her own right and it is cringe-worthy at times when you read about what she is doing, but understanding she is twelve years old, with her own way of thinking, sometimes that is just what is called for.

You can purchase My Life as an Alphabet via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

While You Are Sleeping by Alexis Deacon

Published: 5th September 2006Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Farrar Straus and Giroux
Illustrator: Alexis Deacon
Pages: 26
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Being a plush toy might sound like an easy job, but when a newcomer joins their group, the bedside toys show him everything that goes into taking care of a child while he is sleeping. Every night, they make sure that he isn’t too hot or too cold, and that he stays safely in his bed. They chase away bedbugs and bad dreams. And on Christmas Eve they have the very important task of making sure the child does not awake until morning. The new toy and the reader will find a lot to learn before the night is over. 

I picked this up because when I saw it I was immediately reminded of one of my favourite pictures “Sweet Halloween Dreams” by begemott. The image shows the power of the toy and this story is one in the same vein.

Deacon tells the story through the voices of the bedside toys. The text addresses the reader and tells them what their toys get up to when they are sleeping. They explain that after sitting and waiting all day, and once they are sure you are asleep, they get up and make sure you have a good night. Whether it is checking for things in cupboards and under the bead, or helping if you are too hot or cold, these toys will be there. With an adorable new lion toy added to the ranks he helps them work in a bid to join their crew and they show him their routine. The toy’s job is to keep you safe while you sleep, to keep monsters and bad dreams away.

The words are simple, but extra information is provided in the illustrations. They demonstrate how these toys help without having to explain it in the text. I would have loved the illustrations to be slightly clearer. They were wonderful and there were little sweet and fun moments in the background that made me smile. I understand that was Deacon’s style but I would have loved the same heart but with less haziness. The pencil illustrations are detailed and coloured, and seeing the different sized animals doing different things is quite adorable. The new toy acts like a new toy would, not as confident or as brave, but you also see the current toys helping out and showing him how their job works. These extra details made me enjoy the story a lot more and added another unspoken layer of the story.

I can see this being a great comfort to children who may be worried about going to sleep or being in the dark. Having this story that reassures them that their favourite toys are there to protect them would be a great comfort.

You can purchase While You Are Sleeping via the following

Book DepositoryAmazon | Amazon Aust

Scorch (#4) by Nikki Rae

Published: 29th October 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Self-Published
Pages: 225
Format: ebook
Genre: Dark Romance
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

With failure after failure, Fawn finally thinks she has a way to escape the Order and make them pay for what they’ve done. Betrayal is a poison—and poison spreads. Elliot’s rising paranoia makes him almost unrecognisable, forcing Marius into the position of Owner. Her bond with both begins to grow and change beyond the roots Elliot planted in her.

Between Marius’ kindness and Master Lyon’s cruelty, Fawn is torn in too many directions while the Vultures lie in wait, prepared to strike while evading a new Mainworld organisation intent on taking them down
Fawn has earned her place in House Chimera, and she will fight for her family no matter the cost. 

Even if that means the Wolves devour her in the end.

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

The next book is The Order series is here and Rae wastes no time diving straight into drama and intrigue right away. Following on from the events in book three we see Fawn hit the ground running quite literally and she raises the stakes from the very start. I enjoyed this book, it went in a different direction than I was expecting but Rae still brings the passion and tension we’ve seen before.

There is a greater focus on the characters and their relationships this time around. Fawn’s relationship with Elliot and Marius is explored, but also the tension and issues of the previous novel are still simmering underneath. With the darkness of the earlier books, there is more comfort and compassion this time round. The connection between Fawn, Elliot and Marius evolves and you see different sides of their relationship. That is not to say it’s all love and passion, the deceit and danger that this world brings is there and I loved how Rae plays without your mind so you never know who to trust, who is right and who is telling the truth.

There are BDSM situations and the relationship dynamic of the trio we’ve come to know and love remains but there is consent and support and all of it plays into the emotional stakes of the overall situation. That is not to say the darkness Rae excelled at in earlier books is missing, but there is a different approach this time around and not as explicit.

I felt like this was very similar to parts of book three in that is halts the momentum slightly to explore more of the personal side. I don’t want to say it felt like a filler but there were moments that I thought were drawn out. But as the story continued I could see what Rae was trying to do; she lures us in and to her credit gives us a rewarding ending that was quite unexpected and a welcome surprise.

I’ll admit though, I’m impatient for the final showdown, I love seeing Fawn find herself and act with her bigger purpose in mind but there is certainly merit to Rae’s approach as we see more of Fawn’s state of mind, her growth, and the connections with those around her. Which is great for character development, but hard when you’re itching for the world to burn.

In true Rae style she brings surprises, lust, passion and pain in this fourth instalment. I can only imagine how this is all going to end because if it is anything like the previous four books, it’s going to be a fascinating tale of love, torture, and revenge.

You can purchase Scorch via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

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