Abundant Books

The blog of a self confessed book addict. Reviews and musing about what, where and how I read.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Twilight (Book 1, The Twilight Saga)
By Stephenie Meyer

I was initially wary of this series, as I knew it was marketed to the young adult ages, and as I am well past that, I thought it would be too juvenile for me. But I decided to give it a try after my daughter pestered me to buy the series for her. While it is clearly geared towards the high school age, adults will enjoy the book as well. It's not the highest quality of writing or classic literature but it is a greatly entertaining read and the love story is fascinating. I'm a huge fan of vampire stories (as you can tell with a quick look at this blog) and was a big fan of both Buffy and Angel on tv.

In Twilight, readers discover a pair of lovers who are supremely star-crossed. Bella adores beautiful Edward, and he returns her love. But Edward is having a hard time controlling the blood lust she arouses in him, because he's a vampire. At any moment, the intensity of their passion could drive him to kill her, and he agonizes over the danger. But, Bella would rather be dead than part from Edward, so she risks her life to stay near him, and the novel burns with the erotic tension of their dangerous and necessarily chaste relationship.

Meyer begins the story with a familiar premise (the new kid in school), and lulls us into thinking this will be just another realistic young adult novel. Bella has come to the small town of Forks on the gloomy Olympic Peninsula to be with her father. At school, she wonders about a group of five remarkably beautiful teens, who sit together in the cafeteria but never eat. As she grows to know, and then love, Edward, she learns their secret. They are all rescued vampires, part of a family headed by saintly Carlisle, who has inspired them to renounce human prey. For Edward's sake they welcome Bella, but when a roving group of tracker vampires fixates on her, the family is drawn into a desperate pursuit to protect the fragile human in their midst.

This is a very interesting re-take on the vampire legend, and a great star-crossed lovers plot. I highly recommend it to all ages. I devoured this book in a day and am really looking forward to the movie version hitting the big screen at the end of the year.

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The Mascot
By Mark Kurzem

When a death squad massacred his mother and fellow villagers, five-year-old Alex escaped, hiding in the freezing Russian forest until he was picked up by a group of Latvian SS soldiers. Alex was able to hide his Jewish identity and win over the soldiers, becoming their mascot and an honorary “corporal” in the SS with his own uniform. But what began as a desperate bid for survival became a performance that delighted the highest ranks of the Nazi elite. And so a young Jewish boy ended up starring in a Nazi propaganda film.

After sixty-three years of silence, Alex revealed his terrible secret to his son Mark. With his son’s help, Alex retraced his past in search of answers. His story is at once a terrifying account of survival and its psychological cost as well as a brutally honest examination of identity, complicity, and memory.

Another BRA bookclub selection. I can't say that I really loved the way the story was told, although it is a powerful, shocking story. I would have been quite happy to read it as a case study or a shorter story. The feelings were varied at our book club meeting. Some loved it, and some felt like me. We all felt for his family too - the son Mark keeping his father's secrets and the loyal wife unaware until much later.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Child of a Dead God - Book 6 of the Saga of the Noble Dead
By Barb and JC Hendee

Magiere, Leesil, Wynn, and Chap leave elven lands for the South. Magiere has been having disturbing dreams driving her to an artifact in that direction. But she is not the only person after the artifact. Her evil half-brother and one of the Noble Dead, is following Magiere hoping to get his hands on it. And a group of elf assassins will do anything to bring the artifact back to their own lands.

Each installment has gotten a little more dark and violent. The character development has gotten more in-depth as well. The Hendee's have become true masters of character and world building. This is a fast-paced, action and adventure-filled dark fantasy. The vampires are cunning, the elves are deceptive, and Magiere doesn't even know what the object she's searching for is supposed to do.

While some of the plot lines that have arced over the entire series have been tied up in this sixth novel, the ending has definitely been left open for the coming spin-off series. I'm looking forward to seeing which characters this new series will follow, and more of the fabulous dark fantasy world that the Hendee's have created.

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The Darkest Kiss
Riley Jensen, Guardian, Book 6
By Keri Arthur

Riley's focused on two cases this time around, and I loved the action scenes while the hunts grew. Riley's smarts and instincts get the job done. Arthur makes good use of the paranormal elements of her world and creates some formidable killers - for one, the bakenecko, she draws on Japanese lore to add complexity to the character. She also adds another flavour of vamp to her world, an emo vamp who feeds on emotion, the power hungry Vinnie promises to be a nemesis Riley is sure to encounter again in the future.

Kellen had left her feeling alone, and she struggles quite a bit with that. She truly did love him, but I believe that, if a man truly loves you, he won't ask you to change. While it hurt that he left, I believe that she's better off. This story sees the welcome return of Quinn, the Old Vampire who couldn't cope with Riley sharing her attentions with other men. Riley seems to be settling down, however, so that when Quinn walks back into her life there's possible some kind of a future for them. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks - I think that while Quinn may be stubborn, it may work out just between them. Like any woman, Riley is being cautious; she doesn't want to get hurt again, and I can understand that.

We get even more between Rhoan and Liander, and Rhoan's inner struggle where Liander's concerned. I really like the banter between Kade and Riley, even though she refuses to let it go anywhere. In true Riley form, she gives the excuse that Jack would get mad about it. We know better. She's not ready for it, but she won't admit it to anyone but herself. And I wonder if anything will come of the banter between Cole and Riley. I think he's very attacted to her and fighting it tooth and nail. It will be interesting to see if anything happens between them.

This book will appeal to those who have read the previous books and I did enjoy it, particularly the Australian rather than American/British/Irish setting. Another excellent novel and I can't wait for the next.

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