Twilight Re-Read: Chapters 16-20

I put off a lot of reading this week because of the panic for my approaching wisdom tooth removal (though all went well in the end), but I'm glad to have gotten the questions in on time!

1. {SERIOUS question} If you where in Carlisle position, do you think you would have been able to fight off your vampiric urges? Would you ever bring someone into that life, as he did with Edward and Esme?

I guess I don't really know how I would have fared without ever becoming a vampire, seeing as I can't think of anything to compare that experience to. I understand Carlisle's desire to have others like him to stave off the loneliness that is immortality, but I do see his actions as a little bit selfish whether the people he turned were going to die or not.
 I'm still not sure of Carlisle's reasoning for changing the people that his does. After all, he obviously cannot save everybody, and turning others solely for the purpose of giving already-made vampires romantic partners seems unreasonable. He knows very little/ nothing about the people that he changes, and may just be making another person who will be unhappy for eternity.

2. {FUN question} We are introduced to Edward's playful side in these chapters, before he gets all manic about the new vampires, I think we have a better picture of who he is. If you had to describe him in 5 words, what would they be? Good and Bad qualities, whatever you like!

I still find him off-putting.

3. {LONG question} While re-reading I have been taking notes: observations that I have come across re-reading and comparisons to the movie. One of my notes deals with page 383, in which Edward screams at Alice there is no other option. The first time around I didn't get that he meant the future that Alice saw for Bella as a vampire (because we obviously hadn't gotten to that part), but now that I know the whole story I see that is what he meant... Has this happened to you? Do you have any examples of things that are clearer now or things that you have realized while re-reading? 

I hear a lot of people take hits at Bella's intelligence (namely: my friends), but as my re-read has indicated she is actually quite bright, and I'm not sure why people think that she's so stupid. I take advanced placement classes myself, and can tell you that from what I've heard AP: Biology (what Bella took in her sophomore year, pg. 47) is no walk in the park, not to mention is a class only allowed to seniors in my neck of the woods.* Also, I am very interested in her Shakespeare and misogyny paper, even though Meyer didn't go too in depth into it. I think that she has a good work ethic too: she gets things done before they need to be done, and often out of a sense of duty/ without being asked. I suppose I have a new appreciation for her, and I wish she thought more about her academic future rather than just her romantic one, and I can see her going on to become a very successful woman.
*You also have to dissect a fetal pig in that class in my neck of the woods, and how Bella would have done that with her issue with blood, I'm not sure

4. {PERSONAL question} We haven't talked about this yet, but I think the idea of your human gifts amplifying in your vampire life is interesting (Jasper's control of emotions, Edward's mind reading), what do you think your gifts would be? 

I have very good voice recognition skills. For example, I watch a lot of cartoons and can usually pick up on who voices which characters in what shows without having to look them up. Supersonic hearing might be kind of fun.
Talking to animals would be cool too, but I'm not sure what human skill would have to be emphasized for that to happen.

5.{SURVEY question} We are coming to the end of the book, what has been your opinion on this re-read? First, when was the last time you read it? Second, do you feel you like it more, the same, or less this time around?

Oh wow, this is actually kind of tough... I certainly don't hate the book with the intensity that I thought I did. The last time I read this was early 2007, so about four and a half years ago. I haven't watched any of the movies, so I'm not doing a whole lot of comparing throughout the book. I'm still pretty neutral on the book overall, and can't place it into a "good" or "bad" category. It's okay, and some parts are definitely better than others. I like Bella more, but Edward less, and like Rosalie more than I can remember. 


Review: Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Cleopatra VIII Selene is the only daughter of Cleopatra VII, the woman whom many see as one of Egypt’s greatest rulers and a tragic victim of political intrigue. Shamed at the conquering of their beloved homeland, Cleopatra VII and her husband Marcus Antonius take their lives, leaving three children behind. Selene, her twin brother Alexandros, and her younger brother Ptolemy “Ptolly” Philadelphos are then sent on a ship to Rome to live out the rest of their days in the palace of Octavianus, the very man who ripped Egypt from them.

Dissatisfied with her current life, Selene begins formulating a plan to return to Egypt and claim what she sees as her rightful throne. Stealing a kingdom is time consuming; Selene is kept busy gathering allies and friends to aid her, but not too busy to fall for one young man… while romancing another.

Torn between two men, two outlooks on life, and two paths to the power she needs to take back her true love, Egypt, Selene makes her way through the cold prison that envelopes her life, vying to make it back to the warm sands of her homeland.

Selene herself makes for an interesting character. While many historical fiction novels that I’ve read are written as journal entries, Cleopatra’s Moon is not. This is a definite improvement on the flow of the novel, especially when chapters skip months or even years of Selene’s life.

Often adamant about what she sees as an eventual and inevitable return to the throne, Selene’s character can be a bit grating at times due to her naïveté. However, as Selene ages throughout the course of the book, the reader can definitely see how she moves from a young palace child to a desperate but worldly young woman, trying to emulate her mother. Selene’s mission comes to a head the end of the book, when Selene finally realizes what it is that she wants out of life, even when it appears as though she has nothing left to live for.

The detailed character list at the beginning, along with the “facts within the fiction” section at the end show that Shecter isn’t kidding around with this book. Having written books on the ancient world before, she is no stranger to the intense research that is needed to develop the complex political and social world featured in Cleopatra’s Moon.

The ending to Cleopatra’s Moon left me happier and more satisfied than most YA endings in fiction. Everything wraps up nicely in a neat little package, and I truly believe that it is the best ending that Selene could have. Shecter is also so kind enough to add an author’s note immediately following the ending, letting us know what happens beyond the last page of the novel.

Fascinating, exciting, and heart breaking all at once, Cleopatra’s Moon paints a picture of a young woman whom history had ignored in favor of her mother. But Selene deserves her own story, and Shecter tells it expertly.

(Amazon - Goodreads)


Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

In the not-so-distant future a devastating virus has taken its toll on the world's population, leaving teenagers to foot the bill for sustaining the human race. Obsessed to its core about keeping teenagers pregnant, and happy to be such, society has developed countless new ways socially, economically, and technologically to sustain its need for reproduction, lest everything crumble.

Meanwhile, Melody and Harmony are about as different as two twins can be. Melody, a product of the society that she was raised in, has been groomed by her adoptive parents since infancy to be the perfect vessel for the spawn of the highest bidder. Smart, athletic, and attractive, she has a contract with an equally perfect couple to create a beautiful baby worth what Melody is being paid. If only the couple would hurry up and find someone for Melody to "bump" with, because time is quite literally running out.

Harmony, on the other hand, has spent her entire life in Goodside, a religious community known for its pious lifestyle, Godly worldview, and reluctance to accept anything but complete obedience from its followers, which is perhaps why Harmony runs away from it all. Living with Melody now, Harmony struggles to navigate a new world that goes against everything that she has been taught.

However, a case of mistaken identity leaves the two girls to challenge everything that they've ever known, including their relationship with one another.


I don't know if I would call this book as much of a dystopian as a satirical reflection. It is clear that McCafferty is trying to send a message here; her observations of current American society through the use of a futuristic one is spot on, and as a reader I was very eager to delve into more about it with every chapter. McCafferty's use of language remains masterful throughout the entirety of the book, and she has created numerous raps, jingles, and slang words to describe the indescribable in her book. Though some may find deciphering the slang difficult, I think it is an enjoyable challenge (think A Clockwork Orange, though not nearly as violent.)

I found Melody and Harmony to be a bit dreary as characters, and felt it hard to relate to either of them. Their very different revelations at the end came as a bit of a shock to me, seeing as neither one seemed willing to open up to themselves, others, or the reader as to what they really wanted out of life (again, until the very end.) Likewise, though the inside cover of the book describes Melody's attraction to her best friend Zen, we also do not see that emerge until the end of the book, making said feelings feel very rushed.

The secondary characters, including Lib (Melody's agent), Shoko (Melody's pregnant friend, who gladly carries her boyfriend's baby for the sake of scholarship money), and Ram (one of the many complicated reasons that Harmony left Goodside) help to paint the picture of a complicated society obsessed with only one thing, human reproduction, and are enjoyable to read about in and of themselves.

Overall, Bumped is a pleasurable (no pun intended) jaunt through what it means to be a teenager, to be a lover, and to be a sister.

(Amazon - Goodreads)


Twilight Re-Read Along: Chapters 11-15

Yay! I'm back on schedule! Glad to know that I'm not 2-3 chapters behind everyone anymore...

This week was chapters 11-15, and the answered are hosted at The Secret Life of an Avid Reader.

1. Do you think the name "Twilight" for this book is fitting with the story? Do you think a better name could have been chosen? What about the series and the names as a whole? If you're shooting for an accurate title, "How Edwards Smells," "How Angelic Edward's Face Is," or, even better, "How Similar to Chiseled Marble Edward's Abs Are," would be best, seeing as how often Edward is physically described in the book is getting to be a bit of a stretch at this point, especially since we don't really get anything about Bella, or anyone else for that matter.
I know that there is a deep, philosophical reason for why the book is titled, "Twilight," but I have yet to come up with any award-winning ideas.

2. On this re-read, what’s your favorite part of the book? Is it the vampires, setting, plot, characters, Edward, or something else? I really like the setting, and the description of Forks itself. It's a lot like my own home town, but with a lot more moss. I think it sounds like a very laid back place to live, which is good or bad depending on the kind of person that you are.

3. Edward shows his stalkerish/controlling tendencies during these chapters for the first time (at least Bella is aware), did this bother you the first time you read Twilight? Does it bother you now that you’re re-reading it? Should Bella be more worried about it? I can't say that I noticed it my first time around, but it's really bothering me now. I can't help but find Edward to be downright manipulative regarding Bella (and no, it has nothing to do with him "dazzling" her), and I  think that that is the true reason that Bella should be cautious of Edward. Earlier when Bella wanted to drive home herself he was very adamant about her getting in the car with him and even threatened to "drag her back." He even goes so far as to sneak into her room and watch her sleep at night. If someone said/ did something like that in our non-fictitious world, you can bet it would not be seen as caring and romantic.

4. Do you find yourself, during or after reading another paranormal/supernatural book, comparing it to Twilight? If you do, why do you think that is? Is it because it’s popular or because it’s just a book that makes an impact?I don't find myself doing it, but I do compare books with vampire and werewolf themes in them (though I don't read a lot of those.)
I think for me it would have to do with more popularity, because this book has failed to make a lasting impact on me. I know that I'm digging my own grace by saying this, but I find it to be very average. Average plot, average characters, average dialogue, etc. I'm still trying to get to the part where it becomes a truly memorable book, at least for me.

5. Bella is introduced to the Cullen Family in chapter 15, who is your favorite Cullen and why?
I like something about all of them, but at the moment I really like Rosalie. My favorite part had to be when Edward was describing how she carried Emmett back when she found him wounded because she could not turn him into a vampire herself, and I think that alone says a lot about her character. I also like Carlisle.

Wow, really depressing post. Still, I really have been enjoying this book so far, but more the act of reading it than the plot, characters, etc. I'm determined to stick with it to the end!


Twilight Re-Read Along: Chapters 6-10

Here are the questions and (my) answers for chapters 6-10 of Twilight in the Twilight Re-Read Along, this week hosted at The Reading Housewives of Indiana.

1. because we have to talk about it sometime - are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?  does that impact how you re-read the book?
The last time I read this book there was no "Team Edward" or "Team Jacob," or if there was it was just beginning to bud. At this point I think I'm Team Jacob simply because he seems like a nicer person than Edward, and I liked his conversation with Bella on the beach. 2. Bella spends a lot of her time by herself in her room when she's not at school. what do you think this says about her as a character? can you relate to her introverted nature?

Seeing as I'm in my room most of the time (but not much now that summer's here; it's way too hot) I can totally relate. As for what it says about her, I think that she doesn't like to open up to new people, and has to push herself to be able to make friends or relate to others though it's clear that she wants to fit in. Again, I can totally relate seeing as I'm the same way. I think that plays out nicely against her interest in Edward, seeing as it goes against how she usually is.

3. probably my favorite chapter of the entire book, chapter eight brings us dress shopping, nearly getting assaulted, and then wraps up nicely with a quaint dinner and confession time. in this we see the blend of typical teenage existence starting to get tainted by the paranormal world. if given the choice right then, would you push to know more about the paranormal, or bury your head in the sand and live the teenage dream?
Seeing as my life is pretty average, I can't say really make a decision. I guess it depends on how safe I would be: if the paranormal world is clearly a threat to my health and safety then I would not delve too deeply into it, but would likely study to learn more about it instead, or delve into it with equally paranormal allies or friends. Better safe than sorry!

4. already, it's pretty clear that Bella is falling for Edward. is this happening too quickly to be plausible, or is it totally reasonable to you? what about Edward do you find to be swoonworthy at this point?
No, I don't think that it's completely possible; I've had crushes on people that started (and subsequently ended) really quickly. It's reasonable to me. As for Edward, I can't say that I like him. The whole "I want to spend time with you, but you shouldn't spend time with me if you know what's good for you," is what's completely unreasonable about the book. How about you leave her alone, Edward? Also, the part where after Bella faints and tries to drive herself home Edward is basically threatening her to get in the car, and it has abusive undertones that I can't find very "swoonworthy" at all. Nope, I can't say I like Edward very much at all, and him being a vampire doesn't make up for anything he says or does to Bella.

5. Jessica has to forcibly remove all of the details on what's going on from Bella, but through that we learn more about how she's feeling and how she's falling for Edward already. if you were in Jessica's shoes, what would you say to Bella?
I'm still a little behind, so I'll try and answer as soon as I can!


Review: This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas

God has done a lot for Olivia Peters, including giving her the gift of words, and she becomes sure of this once she wins a prestigious writing competition judged by her literary hero and local Catholic faith leader, Father Mark. Olivia looks up to Father Mark, and is honored and flattered by the time that he wants to spend with her. That is, until it gets to be too much. Soon, Olivia is dreading her time with Father Mark, his unannounced visits and gifts, getting too close too soon, and Olivia realizes that she needs to draw a line before she gets in over her head.

Though dealing with religious themes, I would not say that this book cannot be enjoyed by people who do not adhere to the Catholic faith. Rather, the religious themes within are also entwined with power, abuse, and fear.

Quick paced, Freitas does not waste the reader's time with excess language, and uses every word written to its fullest extent to build the exciting-gone-frightening world that Olivia finds herself in. Olivia herself is strong, but also very realistic when her abilities and flaws come together to form what I would say is an average teenage girl that the reader can relate to.

Haunting and thought-provoking with overtones taken from the headlines, This Gorgeous Game has something for everyone.


Review: Starstruck by Cyn Balog

Gwendolyn “Dough” Reilly is the kind of person that, on a normal day, you would pay no mind to. Quiet, reserved, and carrying a few extra pounds, she fits the very definition of “average.” She faces harassment and neglect at the hands of her wealthy peers daily but, lucky for her, she goes home every night to email her childhood best friend and long-distance boyfriend, Philip “Wish” Wishman. And if Facebook photos are any indication, he’s become increasingly gorgeous in the years since he moved to California while Gwen, well, has not.

And then Gwen gets the news that Wish is moving back. At first things are okay, but then Wish starts acting weird, even for Wish. He’s wearing black clothing even on the hottest of days, is now fearful of rain, and, on one strange night, is caught by a spying Gwen laying out under the stars, appearing to almost be absorbing their energy.

Christian, the brooding teen now helping out at Gwen’s family bakery, believes that Wish has become a member of the Luminati, a group that gains power from the stars in order to change their appearance and improve their lives- Christian warns Gwen that if Wish can’t control his powers things could go from bad to worse. And then one day, they do.

Set on an island off of the coast of New Jersey, Starstruck makes for a great beach read. Though Wish’s powers are only addressed in full in the second half of the book, and is tinged with Gwen’s snarky and often sarcastic thoughts on life and the people around her. Gwen’s commentary makes Starstruck very relatable for anyone who has found themselves on the outside of the “in crowd,” especially when the in crowd seems to make up the whole school.

At times Gwen’s self depreciation gets a little grating; she spends a good amount of time in the book criticizing herself because of her weight, and wonders when Wish will dump her because he is now so attractive. A little self-criticism can help to build a character, but excess dialogue from Gwen on how Wish is only faking his love for her is tiring and, quite frankly, depressing.

As for the two male main characters, Wish and Christian, both are very enjoyable. Wish is charming in the compassion and feelings he has for his girlfriend that are not based on appearance alone. Christian is made likeable by his teasing nature, something Gwen immediately dislikes before coming to realize that Christian may be her greatest ally in a situation that she does not fully understand. In fact, many writers nowadays could learn a lesson or two from Ms. Balog and her ability to write two main male characters that do not want to rip each other’s throats out over the main female character.

Between the relatable, honest characters, comical language, and just a hint of magic, Starstruck is a great book arriving just in time for summer.


Review: Orchards by Holly Thompson

“One week after
you stuffed a coil of rope
into your backpack
and walked uphill into
Osgoods’ orchard
where blooms were still in closed fists

my father looked up
summer airfares
to Tokyo”

With those few lines begins Kana Goldberg’s story of loss, gain, and the new and sometimes frightening experiences along the way.

Upon hearing the news of a classmate committing suicide due to the teasing at the hands of Kana and her friends, Kana’s parents send her to Japan to live with the family that she hardly knows, working long hours under the hot sun in the mikan orange groves.
While feeling like an outsider at first, and feels as though her Jewish half will never be accepted by her traditional grandmother, Kana slowly carves her own niche in her own family.

Orchards is written in free verse with short chapters, and though the words are few in number Thompson manages to paint a beautiful picture of rural Japan from the eyes of a foreigner as she is learning her place in this new world.

While parts of the book reflect the chilling effects that a suicide can have on a community, the rest shows the warmth of family, true friendship, and what it means to be accepted.



Mondays Bite: Twilight Re-Read Along (Introduction and Part 1 Questions)

About three things I am absolutely positive: 1. It has four and a half years since I had read Twilight (middle of seventh grade to now, after junior, Bella's age lol). 2. That I liked it at first, then never picked it up again and finding myself disliking it over time, and 3. That my friends unconditionally and irrevocably hate the book's guts.
Wow, does time fly! I've been meaning to re-read Twilight, mainly so I can look back and see what caused me to like it so much at first, and then dislike it over time. Do my reasons for disliking it have good foundations? Was I influenced with my friends, even though I was one of the first amongst them to read it? Is there any place for me amongst my vampire-worshipping peers? Time to find out!
I've joined Mondays Bite: Twilight Re-Read Along to re-read all four hundred and ninety eight blood sucking (kinda?), heart pounding (sorta?), lip licking (eww...) pages of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
Will I laugh? Will I cry? Will I want to chuck it across the room? Stay tuned to find out! And if you'd like to join in on the fun and games, you can sign up here. At that link you will also find a schedule of the chapters to read: five per week for the next month.
Below are the questions for this week's reading, chapters 1-5.
1. Have you ever had to start over in a new place, like Bella did in Forks? This new place could be a school, job, or town... just something with a new setting. How easy or difficult was this for you?
I haven't had to start over at a new school, and I have yet to have a job or move to a new town (teenager!), but new places and experiences aren't easy for me overall. I like sticking with a routine, and I have to give Bella credit for choosing to pick herself up and move herself to a new home in a new place and a new climate.

2. Do you picture the actors from the movie as the characters in the book while you are reading?
No, I picture them as they were drawn for the covers/ artwork in the Japanese novels. I think they both look better that way anyway. The book 1 cover (first part out of three of Twilight) is here and the Book 2 cover (second part out of three) is here. All of the books are divided into threes, for some reason.

3. What are your first thoughts on meeting Edward in Bella’s Biology class? At first he was annoyed by her presence, but then after a week away he returns & finds him self very interested in her. Do you think this helped or hindered the storyline?
I already knew that Edward was "special," but I fail to see how the annoyance on his part was essential to development in Bella's/ Edward's relationship/ personality, other than showing me that Bella is a bit neurotic. I mean, she hates attention from her other classmates, so why does negative attention affect her so much? I know that she isn't used to it because she tries to fly under the radar, and mean looks bug me too, but she cared just a little bit too much in my opinion.
Edward's willingness to talk the week after they met, with him being friendly and open, was really off putting to me. It sounded very fake, even if he was honestly interested. I mean, talking with someone for the first time, unless you really hit it off, is always awkward, and the scene with the microscope came off as very cold to me, from the both of them.
4. Out of the secondary characters Bella meets at school, who is your favorite and why? (I am referring to the humans, not the vampires in this question)
I like Mike. He's friendly, open, and seems to really want to make Bella feel at home in Forks, especially when he invited her to La Push beach. I don't think he did it to hook up with her, I think that he just did it because he's a good person.

5. There is a lot of dialogue between Edward and Bella in these first few chapters that I feel played a major role in developing their relationship. What are some of your favorite quotes? or moments?
"Ladies first, partner?" - Edward, page 44. I really like teasing dialogue like this, in real life and in fiction, and it's nice seeing him be friendly after snubbing Bella the first time around (yes, I'm still hung up on that). It happens again with the line "Have I heard of him?" (page 48) in response to Bella talking about Phil (her stepfather) playing baseball for a living. I started a little late, and this is as far as I am, but those would be two of my favorites so far. I can't take serious male characters seriously unless they have a good reason to be, so it's nice to have moments with Edward being playful and friendly.
Also, on a side note, I finally got the "My mother is part albino." line of Bella's when asked about how pale she is. I last read this in seventh grade, and it completely flew over my head the first time, and only now did I catch the sarcasm. Quite frankly, I like her now because I caught it.


Meeting Authors at Colonie Center, June 30, 2011

Last night I went to a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Colonie Center Mall, Albany New York. I took a couple of pictures and wanted to talk a little bit about the night.

The event started at 7 pm and I was surprised by the number of children there (even though there were children's authors present, as you will see in a minute), though there were a couple of popular teen authors there.

I had originally, at the request of my editor for The Figment Review, gone to see and photograph Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls. Unfortunately, she and Rose Kent were unable to come at the last minute, but a lot of other great authors did! The whole thing was to benefit the Dolly Parton Imaginary Library.

I know that it's a little hard to read because of the glare, but this is the sign at the entrance to the store. The authors listed are James Preller (Jigsaw Jones series), Shari Maurer (Change of Heart), Rose Kent (Rocky Road, Kimchi and Calamari), Kristen Darbyshire (Put It On the List!), Eric Luper (Big Slick, Bug Boy), Sarah Littman (Purge, Confessions of a Closet Catholic), Nova Ren Suma (Imaginary Girls), Aimee Ferris (Will Work for Prom Dress, Girl Overboard), Jackie Morse Kessler (Hunger, Rage), Julia DeVillers (How My Private Personal Journal Became a Bestseller), and Jennifer Roy (Yellow Star, co-wrote Trading Faces and Take Two with twin sister Julia DeVillers).

A fuzzy picture of Jackie Morse Kessler (seated)

From left to right: Sarah Littman, Eric Luper, Aimee Ferris, The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I have a twenty minute video or so where the authors are introduced, share fun facts about themselves, and answer a couple of questions (including a few from some adorable children), and that will be posted as soon as it gets the green light from Figment. Stay tuned!

Clockwise: Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler (signed), Purge by Sarah Littman (signed), Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter (ARC)

I picked up copies of Rage and Purge and had them both signed, and ended up talking to Jackie Morse Kessler a little bit about her interview with Figment and NaNoWriMo. I still got a copy of Imaginary Girls even though Nova Ren Suma could not be there to sign it, and Cleopatra's Moon came in the mail yesterday as an ARC.

The whole event went smoothly, and it looked from all of the books that were being sold the Library received much-deserved funds. It was very exciting overall for my first YA book signing, and it looked to me like the other people their, authors included, had a nice time too :)