The Sunday Salon.com

Well, I missed last week’s Salon, and finishing Breaking Dawntook a bit longer than I had anticipated… like 10 days longer; it was an exercise in self-torture and perseverance. I wanted to finish before my boyfriend, but I think we both finished the same night, and I’m not sure who read “THE END” first. You can read my review here.

One of the things disappearing in Second Life for a few months has done is rob me of the time to comfortably achieve my reading goal of 75 books for the year by December 31st. After Breaking Dawn, I had 19 books to go… it’s a seemingly impossible goal to achieve; it works out to one book every day and a half. So I’ve been piling headlong into this insurmountable quota. It’s my goal, set by me, and if I miss it I’ve only got myself to answer to. But still, it chafes a bit that I might NOT make it. I have every intention to meeting this goal if I go blind in the process.

For that reason, my next book was Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr. A short 125 pages with a lot of illustrations, this cute little book took a little over 2 hours to finish. Maggie looked it up at her school to see if it’s an Accelerated Reader book, which it is, so I’ll be reading it a second time with her next week 😉 . You can read my review for Nim’s Island here.

I finally returned to my Viral Video Wednesday post, this week posting music videos. The concept was “If there was a soundtrack to your life, what songs would be on it?” I listed mine, along with my reasons for them in a brief history of my life, which included songs like “Crawling” by Linkin Park, “The Unforgiven” by Metallica, “Wonderful, Merciful Saviour” by Selah, Natasha Beddingfield’s “Unwritten” as sung by Team Lachey, and Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love”, among others. Personally, I thought it is a story of triumph and resilience, but it would seem that it was more depressing than joyous, inspiring pity. I apologize to those of you who found it more of a downer than a sharing of my life and recovery. You can check out this week’s Viral Video Wednesday here, if you dare.

I tried hard to finish Fragile Thingsby Neil Gaiman by Thursday to hit that one book per each day and a half quota, but didn’t quite make it. So I finished a book Maggie and I had been slowly working on for the last month or so. Vampire Kisses Blood Relatives, vol 2 by Ellen Schreiber was my first experience in Manga. It’s an interesting and by no means a small genre of reading material. Manga covers any subject matter and age group that books of text cover, only they do it with graphic art panels and thought and speech bubbles. You can read <my review of Vampire Kisses Blood Relatives, vol 2 here.

I did finish Fragile Things: Short Stories and Wonders by Neil Gaiman today. I really loved this book, and read the two poems I posted in the review, plus the short story “Other People”… making that my fourth time reading it… to my boyfriend. I remembered another short entry (not written in verse form, but feels like poetry nonetheless) that I liked in it a while ago. It’s called “In the End”:

IN THE END

In the end, the Lord gave Mankind the world. All the world was Man’s, save for one garden. This is my garden, said the Lord, and here you shall not enter.

There was a man and woman who came to the garden, and their names were Earth and Breath.

They had with them a small fruit which the Man carried, and when they arrived at the gate to the garden, the Man gave the fruit to the Woman, and the Woman gave the fruit to the Serpent with the flaming sword who guarded the Eastern Gate.

And the Serpent took the fruit and placed it upon a tree in the center of the garden.

Then Earth and Breath knew their clothedness, and removed their garments, one by one, until they were naked; and when the Lord walked through the garden he saw the man and the woman, who no longer knew good from evil, but were satisfied, and He saw it was good.

Then the Lord opened the gates and gave Mankind the garden, and the Serpent raised up, and it walked away proudly on four strong legs; and where it went none but the Lord can say.

And after that there was nothing but silence in the Garden, save for the occasional sound of the man taking away its name from another animal.

Fragile Things: Short Stories and Wondersby Neil Gaiman, “The End” page 233.

You can read my review of Fragile Things here.

I started reading The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon today, and hope to finish and post the review tomorrow. I’m about 70 pages in and am enjoying it so far. It’s an alternate timeline in which Sitka, Alaska became the interim Jewish homeland after the fall of the State of Israel after three months of independence. The book opens with a murder, a messed up homicide detective, and the stress of the reversion of the Federal District of Sitka to the state of Alaska.

Unfortunately, though, I may not be able to finish it tomorrow… Second Life has made a claim to my time tomorrow, as a SL friend is getting married there and I’m a bridesmaid. Busy, busy, busy!

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Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

Title: Breaking Dawn
Author: Stephanie Meyer
Hardcover: 756 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date: August 2008
ISBN: 9780316067928

In the end, we had pulled together seventeen witnesses -the Irish, Siobhan, Liam, and Maggie; the Egyptians, Amun, Kebi, Benjamin, and Tia; the Amazons, Zafrina and Senna; the Romanians, Vladamire and Stefan; and the nomads, Charlotte and Peter, Garrett, Alistair, Mary, and Randall- to supplement our family of eleven. Tanya, Kate, Eleazar, and Carmen insisted on being counted as part of our family.

Aside from the Volturi, it was probably the largest friendly gathering of mature vampires in immortal history.

-pages 575-576, Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

So I have been dragging my feet to read and to finish this book. First off, Breaking Dawn is the final book in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, a series I have absolutely fallen in love with, and I didn’t want it to come to an end. Secondly, I have heard mixed reviews of this book from it’s an absolute let down to it’s a great book to end with. In answer to the first reason, after getting him into this series, my boyfriend has caught up to me and started Breaking Dawn as I got to chapter 7… and I could NOT let him beat me in it 😉 . And in answer to the second, which did have more to do with why it took longer to finish, while my boyfriend thinks this is a fantastic book, possibly his favorite of the four, I’ve found it a bit…
meh .

One of the problems I had with Breaking Dawnis that it reads like Meyer was tired of writing the Twilights and so she just hurried through the writing… kind of an “aw, screw it! There ya go… be happy I even finished it,” feel to it. There were several parts in the book where I was rolling my eyes and groaning in pain from the boredom and effort to slog through these blah spots. A couple times, I even wondered if I skipped a chapter or two would I miss anything.

A second problem I had with it was that the format of Breaking Dawn is completely different than the other three. While they are written in a straight story format with Bella narrating, Breaking Dawn is written in a three-books-in-one format with Jacob narrating the middle book. And while I enjoyed seeing things from Jacob’s perspective (and key parts of the story’s development could have only been told from his perspective: the mental link and interactions within the pack, as well as the experience of imprinting are two things that are essential and best experienced through his eyes), the jump from Bella to Jacob and back to Bella again was a bit disjointed.

A third issue I had with Breaking Dawn is that Meyer waits so very long to develop the story and get to the crisis of the book. But then again upon reflection, as it was three books in one, you could make the argument that it had three seperate crises, with the final one being the major and final conflict for the series. Meh, whatever… it took forever to get there.

A fourth issue I have with this book is the relationship between Edward and Bella seems a bit forced and artificial. Whereas in the first three books their relationship was an organic and growing, tangible thing, in Breaking Dawn it feels stilted, artificial… dead, ironically enough, as the series is mainly about the undead… even surreal at times. In my honest opinion, the best relationships (and best character) in Breaking Dawn are that of Jacob’s.

Good things to say about Breaking Dawn: The book reveals the Volturi for what they are, bullies and cowards, which is rather satisfying. The deep and impenetrable bond of family and love is illustrated beautifully throughout the book. Though it is a book about the undead and immortal race of vampires, it is very much a book about the value of life and of living your life with purpose, meaning and really experiencing it to the fullest.

If I were to sum up the message of Breaking Dawn in a single sentence, I would say: Violence, threats, bullying, and fear will always bow when it’s met by love, encouragement, confidence, and hope.

Of the three books, New Moon is my favorite. I think New Mooncould even stand alone, separate from the other three, if you were only going to read one of the books (honestly, though, why would you?). As to Breaking Dawn, I’m giving it 3 out of 5 stars.

 hated itdidn't like itliked itreally liked itloved it

Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer


Title: Eclipse
Author: Stephanie Meyer
Hardcover: 629 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date: September 2007
ISBN: 9780316160209

“Can I tell you what the worst part is?” he asked hesitantly when I said nothing… “The worse part is knowing what would have been…” Jacob shook his head. “I’m exactly right for you, Bella. It would have been effortless for us – comfortable, easy as breathing. I was the natural path your life would have taken…” He stared onto space for a moment, and I waited. “If the world was the way it was supposed to be, if there were no monsters and no magic…”

I could see what he saw, and I knew that he was right. If the world was the sane place it was supposed to be, Jacob and I would have been together. And we would have been happy. He was my soul mate in that world – would have been my soul mate still if his claim had not been overshadowed by something stronger, something so strong that it could not exist in a rational world…

Two futures, two soul mates… too much for any one person. And so unfair that I wouldn’t be the only one to pay for it. Jacob’s pain seemed too high a price. Cringing at the thought of that price, I wondered if I would have wavered, if I hadn’t lost Edward once. If I didn’t know what it was like to live without him. I wasn’t sure…

“He’s like a drug for you, Bella.” His voice was still gentle, not at all critical. “I see that you can’t live without him now. It’s too late. But I would have been healthier for you. Not a drug; I would have been the air, the sun.”

The corner of my mouth turned up in a wistful half-smile. “I used to think of you that way, you know. Like the sun. My personal son. You balanced out the clouds nicely for me.”

He sighed. “The clouds I can handle. But I can’t fight with an eclipse.”

Eclipse, pages 598-600

I am soooo addicted to this series. It’s everything I’ve loved in reading. It’s Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice (Twilight). It’s Romeo and Juliet (New Moon). It’s Heathcliff and Cathy from Wuthering Heights (Eclipse). In fact, I found that Edward points to these three couples on page 28 when I checked back to make sure I spelled Heathcliff correctly 😀 . Makes me wonder if Breaking Dawn will be Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester. (Those of you who’ve already read it, DON’T TELL ME!!!!)

I really enjoy Meyer’s writing style. Yes, this series is romantic in that it’s about lovers whose love is epic and the opposition to their realization of this love almost insurmountable. It’s everything I fell in love with when I read Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice as a teen. This series brings the same feelings of hope, agony, love, desire and despair, all occurring at the same moment, that I had at 15 with my first real boyfriend (by real I mean the first one you kiss for hours and wonder what’s beyond the kissing but the kissing is satisfying enough not to cross that boundary… the first boyfriend you park with… that first boyfriend that when we broke up it felt like my heart had been ripped out with a dull spoon).

Okay, I admit it… The Twilight series isn’t an intellectually stimulating set of books, they are more like brain candy. But it’s so nice that at 35 I can feel those fresh and new emotions. I give Eclipse 4 out of 5 stars.

Friday Fill-Ins – I Want My Mommy! but I’d settle for Murtagh

1. When I’m sick I’m torn between wanting to be babied and cared for and being the Mom who does the care taking (I want my mommy!).

2. When I take a walk, I think about the book I’m reading and what on earth is the main character thinking doing something so stupid! Idiot!.

3. Money can’t buy happiness but it can sure make misery a lot more comfortable 😉 .

4. Cotton makes me sweat and leather makes me erm… wet 😀.

5. The strangest person/character I’ve had lewd thoughts about was Eragon and Murtagh… at the same time.

6. My favorite color these days is a good, living-thing green because it represents life.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to finishing Confessions of a Contractor… I haven’t finished a book in a week an a half, tomorrow my plans include getting a good chunk of Julius Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul read and Sunday, I want to finish Conquest of Gaul because I won’t allow myself to start my next Twilight book, Eclipse, until I finish Caesar off!