Monday, May 11, 2020

Twilight Then vs. Now - New Moon Review

“The bond forged between us was not one that could be broken by absence, distance, or time. 
And no matter how much more special or beautiful or brilliant or perfect than me he might be, he was as irreversibly altered as I was. 
As I would always belong to him, so would he always be mine.”

When I started this blog series, I really saw it going in a different direction. I expected to read this as an adult and see all of these things wrong with it. I forgot one important thing. Movies are always different than the book. The movie portrays Bella as a suicidal overly dramatic girl that does stupid stuff to put herself in danger to see hallucinations of her ex-boyfriend. That is a true and untrue statement.

In the book, we start with it being Bella's birthday. Alice throws her a birthday party and because of a papercut, Jasper loses his mind and tries to attack Bella. Edward realizes that every day, in some way or another Bella is in danger because of him. If it isn't nomad vampires, it is his own family that could one day hurt her. He starts distancing himself from her emotionally. Then he breaks up with her by saying things that would make it easy for her to hate him so she could move on.

Bella goes into a deep depression. Edward made her feel loved and wanted. He was her everything, and she was his. He made her feel special. That is now all gone. She internalizes it, starts ignoring her friends at school, and describes herself as a zombie. She continues to get good grades and she goes to work, but she is just numb and dead inside. Anyone that has suffered from depression can totally relate to this feeling. Later in the book, we find out that Charlie has had a parenting wake-up call somewhere and actually realizes that something is wrong. He almost hospitalizes her, he calls her mom to take her back to Florida hoping a change of scenery will pull her out of it. Bella freaks out and doesn't go, but at least Charlie tries in this one. He has finally had enough and confronts her. She makes plans with friends and starts seeing hallucinations of Edward brought on by adrenaline.

Bella is still far from being okay. Edward promised that it would be as if he never existed, and in return, she promised not to do anything dangerous. Well, since Edward broke his promise, she decided she was going to. Enter Jacob Black. Bella happens to find two free motorcycles and remember Jake is good at fixing cars. Once Bella starts hanging out with Jacob, she feels the hole in her chest is starting to heal. She feels better. Jacob starts to get attached and Bella knows it. She is trying really hard not to lead him on, The motorcycles are finished, and Bella realizes the perfect combo to "see" Edward. 

Then Jake gets "sick". Bella tries to pass her alone time by trying to find Edward's meadow. Once it's found, Laurant is there waiting for her. He tells her Victoria's plan and tries to kill her. But the werewolves stop him. Jake reappears throwing all kinds of mood swings at Bella and reminds her of the time on the beach when he told her the Quileute legends. Bella puts two and two together and finds out Jake wasn't sick, he was a wolf. Together they figure out Victoria is after Bella. So now Bella hangs out with the wolves to keep herself and Charlie safe.

Jake promises to take her cliff diving but has to back out at the last second because the pack found Victoria. A storm starts to come in from the sea. Bella decides she doesn't want to wait for Jake and takes off on her own. She set out to find the lower diving spot, but the trail she is on leads straight to the top. She looks down and thinks that it will be as easy as jumping into a pool. So she jumps. She doesn't account for any complications of the storm, currents, waves until she is already in the water. She almost drowns but Jacob saves her.

Through a tangled web of misunderstandings, Edward thinks Bella is dead. Alice and Bella head to Italy to stop Edward from killing himself via. the Volturi. Aro tells them that Bella either becomes a vampire or she will die because she knows too much. Alice assures him that she will be one. Everyone heads back to Forks.

My thoughts:

The picture of Bella's depression, I don't think could have been any more spot on. The author did an amazing job of capturing how a depressed person thinks and acts. Bella is never "suicidal". She wants the pain to stop, but always thinks of Charlie any time her thoughts go that way. 

The issue of putting herself in danger for adrenaline, I can't really say that is something a normal teen wouldn't do. Cliff jumping wasn't a far fetched idea because the kids on the reservation did it all the time. Teenagers love dirt bikes/motorcycles. My point is that Bella doesn't do anything a normal teen wouldn't try. She doesn't do any of it because she is suicidal, she does it for the rush.

With the above being said, she realizes that the rush leads to her hallucinations. She enjoys them because they are of Edward. Many times throughout the book, Bella says that they are not healthy. I think any teen that reads this is going to think that it is normal/okay and start entertaining any ideas. 

My new theory is that some people may be basing their negative opinions about this series off of the movies alone. I agree that movies portray things very differently than what is in the books.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Twilight Then vs. Now - Twilight Review


~"Without the dark, we'd never see the stars."~

I just finished reading this book from an objective point of view, and I saw things in it that bugged me more than when I read it for the first time.

Bella is a 17-year-old girl that moves from Pheonix, Arizona to Forks, Washington. Within the first chapter, I had an issue. She is talking about her mom and how much she would love and miss her (understandable). Then she tells us that before her mom remarried, Bella was the one that took care of the groceries, gas, and paying bills on time. Throughout the books there are more comments on this effect.

Then she gets to Forks. I have quite a few issues with Chief Charlie Swan. Below are just a few that stuck with me.

  1. He leaves her home alone a lot. He never once offers to take her fishing with him. He never offers to go and do anything with her.
  2. The first day there she does all of the cooking. Okay, so he is a single male that can't cook. But seriously Charlie, she goes to school, has homework, and cooks. I think he does the dishes once in the entire book (yes the author points out when dishes are being done). While she is cooking or cleaning up, he is sitting on the couch watching a game.
  3. They live in the same house, but their interactions are very limited. It is more like they are roommates rather than father/daughter.
  4. He is so clueless about what his daughter is feeling it is scary. 
Throughout the book, I also started to realize a few things about Isabella Swan that I missed the first time around.
  1. She has a very low self-esteem - she avoids anything and everything because she isn't good enough, she hates the way she looks and admits several times throughout the book that she is depressed.
  2. When she and Jacob are walking at First Beach, she manipulates him to get information about the Cullen family.
  3. She is extremely accident-prone.
  4. When she loves, she loves hard and fast.
Then there is Edward.... Oh, Edward..... watching girls sleep is creepy! So is eavesdropping in on her conversations with her friends!

With all of that being pointed out. I have to take a step back and look at the book as a whole. The target audience for this book is the Young Adult group (12 - 18). It is a love story about a human girl and an oh-so-gorgeous vampire. He is confused about what it is about her that makes him act the way he does, so he listens in on her conversations with her friends, watches her sleep, then when he still can't figure it out, tries to get to know her. 

She falls in love with him. She falls hard and fast. Edward tries to warn her away from him, but that only increases her desire (having a teen daughter this is pretty normal. Tell them they can't do something and they want to do it more). She sees his watching and listening as romantic because it showed interest in her (which from what I know about her parents at least someone is). Edward makes her feel safe, important, and like a priority. 

In the first book, I didn't see anything out of character for a teen girl with depression and low self-esteem. 

Twilight Then vs. Twilight Now - An introduction


Hello everyone! 

I first read the Twilight Saga in 2009 right after the New Moon movie came out. I only knew about this series because my little sister was OBSESSED with it. I had purchased the books for her but never read them myself. One night, we rented the New Moon movie. That ending was horrible! I couldn't believe they were going to make us wait to find out if she chose Edward (yuck) or Jacob (yum). I promptly requested her books. I started with Twilight (because the book is always different than the movie) and devoured the whole saga. I absolutely loved them. I have never been an analytical reader. I set out reading them with the intent of finding out what happened net. I wasn't part of any type of book-related social media or groups, and I missed out on all of the opinions about whether Twilight was the best thing ever or the most atrocious garbage in the world.

Fast forward to the beginning of May. Stephanie Meyer released a countdown timer with a link to Midnight Sun. I now belong to a couple of book-related social media groups, and people went wild. Some hoped it was Midnight Sun (Twilight from Edward's POV), others hoped it was a continuation of the saga involving Jacob and Renesmee. People who were not fans of the series were hoping for a sequel to The Host. The timer ran out and the announcement of the release of Midnight Sun on August 4th had people buzzing. 

All over social media sites, you had people talking about this saga. Some of it was positive, but some of it was really negative. People were posting about how the relationship between Edward and Bella was abusive, how there was pedophilia, how Bella's depression was unhealthy, Bella's parents were pretty much nonexistent, and a lot of other social issues were mentioned. There were also mentions of how the writing was really bad, the storyline was problematic there was a lack of diversity, and how the books had religious undertones.

As I admitted before, I am not an analytical reader, and I binge read these in like three days. I never noticed any of that. I am a firm believer that reading is subjective, and people have different opinions and I totally respect that. I wanted to understand where the people with these opinions were coming from and see things from their POV.

I decided to do a blog series on these books and give you an unbiased opinion on what I feel and how I see things. You may be wondering, "how can you give a non-biased review if you are a fan?" my answer to that is: I have a 14-year-old daughter, and I hardly censor what she reads. If there is something in a book, on a movie or show, or that she hears about, she knows she can come to me and talk it over. If it is a book I have read, I will tell her some of the social issues that are in the book, and let her decide if she wants to read it.

I decided now was a perfect time to re-read the entire saga, with an objective mind, to see if I could locate the issues that people were talking about. I am not going to break down the writing style (or lack of), because I have already re-read Twilight and drove myself nuts trying to write down all of the problematic things I found there. I am only going to point out things I found in the situations and with the characters.

I hope you guys follow me on this journey, and please feel free to add comments and tell me what you think. The only thing I ask is that you please respect other people's opinions. Reading is subjective. There is no right or wrong way to feel about a book.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Robin Hood's Widow is coming soon! All about the series and an Author Q and A

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Are you looking for something different to freshen up your quarantine reads? 

Are you looking for something available on Kindle Unlimited? 

Do you like historical fiction? 

Do you like retellings?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, keep reading!

This book caught me completely off guard. Robin Hood has been one of my favorite heroes in literature for as long as I can remember. Something about his story stuck with me. I am a sucker for a new movie or new book featuring the hero that robs from the rich and gives to the poor and saves Maid Marian. I always wished he was real. 

In The Robin Hood Trilogy by Olivia Longueville and J.C.Plummer, Robin Hood becomes real. His legend is intertwined with a historical timeline in a way that makes magic. The way the two stories have meshed together is flawless and seamless. These ladies brought my hero to life and made him a real person.

There is action, there is romance, there are tears, there is laughter (then more tears). There is a little something for everyone. My husband is one of the biggest anti book people I know. I would read him passages of the book that I found funny or I knew he would appreciate the action in, and he loved it too.

I have also had the privilege of keeping in contact with one of the authors. The story behind what it took to get Robin Hood's Widow to be born and how they never gave up is inspiring in itself. They are passionate about what they write about. They research things thoroughly. They included family trees, coat of arms, a detailed timeline, and a glossary. You can feel the passion that these ladies have for their subject matter as soon as you pick up the book and start reading. Check out the author Q and A below to see what I mean.

Sometimes, with a sequel, there isn't as much depth and richness of characters. You kind of plod through it, you can tell it's a middle, something happens but it is ramping up for the conclusion of the series. This is so not the case with Robin Hood's Widow. There is just as much attention to detail that we got in the first one. The same rich history. The same feeling of being taken there and reading about real people. 

There is more action, more tears, more laughter, and two amazing, make you shout "what the actual heck just happened" twists that left me drooling for more.  ( I know first hand about the shouting, because I did it, and scared the cat and got weird looks from the husband)

I hate being that fan, but I can't wait until the third and hope they are able to release it soon so I can devour it as well. 

If you love rich history mixed with folklore, amazing storytelling, and authors that know their stuff check out both of these books. I provided the links below.  

Check out my original post about Robin Hood's Dawn here!

Robin Hood's Dawn is out now and available on Kindle Unlimited and paperback. 

Robin Hood's Widow is available for preorder on e-book and Kindle Unlimited. The paperback will be available on the release date May 8th.

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Robin Hood’s Widow (Book Two in the Robin Hood Trilogy)Author Q&A with Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer

Robin Hood has been featured in many books, movies, and television shows.  How is your trilogy different?

In our first book, Robin Hood’s Dawn, we re-imagined the origins of the Robin Hood legend, which included exploring his family dynamics: an aloof, selfish father, and a kind-hearted mother devoted to ministering to the poor.  One theme is how the consequences of immoral actions and secret sins can reverberate across generations.  This is part of Robin’s legacy from his father.

We cast Robin as a hero fighting against the tyranny of a lawless government official. When Robin is falsely accused of a shocking crime by the new Sheriff of Nottingham, he could have retreated to a safe place beyond the reach of the sheriff.  However, he feels a responsibility to the people because he believes in the intrinsic value of every human being.  Instead of running away, he stays to protect the people from the sheriff.  And this points to another theme: one person can make a difference by taking a stand for what is right.

The second book, Robin Hood’s Widow, picks up where the first book ends. Robin is alive and still with King Richard in the Holy Land, but Marian, the sheriff, and Guy of Gisborne have returned to England thinking that Robin Hood is dead.
Robin Hood’s Widow explores themes of grief and redemption while featuring Marian’s adventures as leader of the outlaws. Her story is interwoven with Robin’s quest to return home while fulfilling his obligations to King Richard.
In this book, we wanted to explore both the stages of grief and their non-linear nature. Experiencing loss and grief is not like climbing stairs; you don’t complete one stage, progress to the next, and eventually arrive at acceptance. The emotional turmoil of an earlier stage can reappear and reassert itself during the process.
That being said, this story is not sad or depressing; Robin Hood’s Widow is an optimistic tale of triumphing over adversity. 

You’ve emphasized how your Robin Hood story has been re-imagined.  Will fans of the traditional ballads still recognize this as a Robin Hood story?
There is a lot of variety in the many books and screen adaptations of the Robin Hood legend.  We wanted to create a story that was respectful towards fans of the original ballads and legends without adhering to the same storylines that have been previously written.  We hope that all Robin Hood fans will enjoy this fresh retelling of the story.
However, we felt that Marian is a character who deserves more attention.  All too often she is a background character with little to do.  With this in mind, we have focused on creating a Lady Marian who will figure more prominently in the story, especially in Robin Hood’s Widow, where she takes center stage as the leader of the outlaws. She must learn how to lead while finding clever ways to thwart the sheriff and rob those supporters of Prince John who dare enter Sherwood Forest.  We also wanted Marian to be feminine and believable as a woman of the 12th century.    

Do the first two books of the trilogy end in cliff-hangers? Are the books stand alone?  
We have structured the trilogy so that the books do not end in cliff-hangers, and we have endeavored to create a sense of completion in each of the books. 
Although we want readers to start with Robin Hood’s Dawn, we know that some might be more interested in Robin Hood’s Widow. Therefore, we have endeavored to provide enough information in the second book so that a new reader will not be lost.
Both Robin and Marian are guarding secrets that will be revealed in Robin Hood’s Widow!

How did you become interested in writing this story and working together as co-authors?
The story of Robin Hood’s Widow is very special to me, and I wrote the original version after I experienced a devastating personal loss. Readers might be surprised to learn that Robin Hood’s Widow was written before Robin Hood’s Dawn!
I love to tell stories with multi-dimensional characters.  I am multi-lingual, and I enjoy writing stories in different languages.  My first novel is an English-language alternate history featuring Anne Boleyn.
I met Coleen (J.C.) on the Internet, and we decided to co-author a Robin Hood Trilogy with Robin Hood’s Widow as its centerpiece.  

So, you’ve never met, you come from different countries, different cultures, and speak different languages.  How can you co-author a book?  Is it because you have similar writing styles?
Fortunately, Olivia is fluent in English, because that’s the only language I know!
We have found that we have a lot in common—especially our love of writing and of history.  We have to work hard to merge our writing styles, but we have successfully done this. 
That’s true.  Olivia and I have very different “voices” and writing styles.  You might even say they are nearly opposite styles.  
I write in a straightforward, expository style, with a minimum of descriptive elements and metaphorical flourishes.  I am good at explaining things, organizing ideas, and creating natural-sounding dialogue.
My writing is characterized by lush romanticism and passionate lyricism.  I love to create metaphors and descriptions which excite the imagination of the reader in a vivid and dramatic way.
In some respects, Olivia’s words are the emotional heart of the story, and my words represent the rational intellect.  Of course, it’s not quite that cut-and-dried, but it is one way to describe how two people with such different styles have come together to create Robin Hood’s Dawn and Robin Hood’s Widow

Twilight Then vs. Now - New Moon Review

“The bond forged between us was not one that could be broken by absence, distance, or time.  And no matter how much more special or beautifu...