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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little Brown Company
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full (640 pgs)
Rating: Best Book
Review by Xeranthemum

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob—knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Have you ever used the word ‘devoured’ or ‘inhaled’ to describe reading a book? No truer words were ever spoken because that is exactly what I did. I started in the morning and didn’t stop until after the sun had set. My housework was ignored and the TV held no fascination for me what-so-ever.

This third installment of the Twilight series has been eagerly awaited by me for months. I originally got hooked on this series based upon the enthusiastic recommendation by my town librarian. I, as a rule, do not read YA, but this series has me rethinking that stance. Stephenie Meyer has me reconsidering my choices. Eclipse continues to have me totally engaged in the world this author has created and I am ravenous for more.

Bella is a young woman about to graduate from high school and has a very unusual boyfriend; he’s a vampire. She also has a very serious and odd choice to make - life as a human or un-death as a vampire to be with Edward forever.(To be or Not to be) Another of the many complexities haunting her life is a vengeful vampire vixen hell-bent on destroying her because Edward killed the vixen’s boyfriend to save Belle in a previous book. Bella certainly has some issues beyond the normal teenaged angst during their last year in high school.

On top of that, there is a skillfully crafted conflict which had me in suspense for almost the entire book. Both of the culprits suspected were introduced in past books and I could never figure out who it was until Stephenie wanted me to. Oh, Bella kind of figured it out, but I was never sure if she was right or not until the big finale. And, what forces came together during those last few chapters! They were simply amazing and engrossing as I watched the relationships evolve and lead up to all that excitement!

As for Edward, he’s just a tad too old for her by a couple of generations (he doesn’t look it though!) but he loves her with a caring and intensity that pleases the heart of any romantic. I mean, when a guy says, “I’ve been waiting for you all of my life.” how can you not just melt? Ok, so he’s been waiting for more than a normal lifetime but still, how dreamy.

Jacob is a family friend Bella has known for years and who is a werewolf. He also loves Bella. At the ending of the last book, I was in tears for Jacob. Oh my gosh, how I hurt for him and Bella. The beginning of Eclipse didn’t waste time addressing nor does it sugar coat this heartrending situation.

The thread of the story is picked up and continued seamlessly, and in no time at all, I was back in her little town in Forks, Washington. Would Jacob, and me, be soothed or would his hurt continue? Did Ms. Meyer resolve this? The answer is a little bit no and a little bit yes. I am having a hard time not sharing spoilers. Let’s just say that it was resolved the best it could be and still remain true to the intent of the story.

And Edward? I had my share of sniffles for him too in the last book, and in Eclipse I’m even more impressed with him, more convinced that he is Bella's true love. So, yeah, he’s dead but love is alive and vibrant. Yet their path is not easy. Bella and Edward definitely don’t have it smooth and uncomplicated -– on so many levels. You might be thinking I should give you specifics but I can’t. I mean, this book is just over six hundred pages. How do I condense the highlights when there are so many? Guess you’re going to have to read it.


I should mention that I adore Edward's sister, Alice, as well. And we get a clearer picture of Rosalie and Jasper in this book. Their histories were fascinating and I’m glad they were included in the story.

Bella’s dad, Charlie, is such an adorable man: simple and loving -- yet Ms. Meyer had me laughing when he attempted the ‘sex education talk’ with Bella. Poor guy. *grin*

The dialogue is tight and convincing, real and touching. At no time did I feel it lagged or was off topic. I didn’t experience any head hopping or jarring incidents. This book read like a dream and I can’t recommend it enough.

If you thought New Moon was good, Eclipse takes you even further with characters, plots and emotions in a world woven in a rich tapestry of human and not-so-human drama. This is YA at its absolute best. Consider me converted.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Kat's Cradle by Mary Jean Kelso

Kat's Cradle by Mary Jean Kelso
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Mystery
Length: Short
Rating: 3 Suns
Review by Xeranthemum

Katrina (Kat) Sturdivant’s young life has been a struggle to survive under harsh conditions in a dangerous mining town during the “Bad Man of Bodie” days. She has lost her mother and baby brother and, now, her father has been killed. She is convinced his death was not an accident and sets out to find his killer. Kat, the pursuer, soon becomes the pursued.

Kat’s Cradle was a departure from my usual genre. I’ve read a few historicals in my time but they’ve always happened “across the pond”. This story was refreshing in that it took place in the United States during the time when Mark Twain was still writing newspaper articles.

The first chapter introduced me to Katrina and her best friend Polly. At first, the girls are like any fifteen year-olds of their time, yet as the story unfolds a shift is brought about by the harsh realities at that point in history. When the tragedy that was foretold to Kat comes true, I had my heart-strings pulled when I realized just how alone Kat was in the world at that moment. Not just in her living arrangements but in her beliefs, her adamant stance that something worse happened and no one will help her solve it. It was hard to read about a young girl being ignored yet at that time she was also considered a young woman with responsibilities far beyond what today’s fifteen or even seventeen year-olds are expected to do.

Kat’s absolute conviction that a serious wrong was done to her and her family and her decision to not rest until justice is done seems a bit more mature than I’d expect of a fifteen year-old girl. Yet, when the author puts Polly and Kat in the same scene again, it was made achingly clear that life’s hard lessons mature even the youngest person, sometimes far beyond their years. In our day and time, we’d call them “street smart”. I’m not sure what or how they were referred to back then, but Katrina got life smart.

This isn’t a romance but a mystery. Kat ends up having adventures in her haphazard quest for the truth and pursuit of justice. The only romantic element involves Sam, Polly’s brother. He is a couple of years older and believe it or not, I found Sam providing most of the romance to the story. Quite a switch.

I would be remiss not to mention a few head hops that jarred me a bit from the story, but overall didn’t distract me from wanting to know how in the world a young miss from a land locked mountainous town expected to travel to Alaska by herself to accomplish her goals.

I will not judge historical content - that is for the historical buffs to discover and enjoy. I base my three book rating on the emotions I experienced while reading about Kat’s trials and tribulations as she solved the mystery. And if you are wondering, there is definitely an HEA. I also want to say that it too follows in historical accuracy but I can’t be sure. One thing I DO know, it that it was sweet.

Kat’s Cradle covers most points of a good story, you care for the main character, you want her to succeed, the mystery gets solved and there’s a happily ever after. For a novella, what more can you ask?