Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

The Phoenix Chronicles book 1Title:  Any Given Doomsday

Author:  Lori Handeland

Paperback:  343 pages (ARC)

Published:  2008

ISBN:  9780312949198

Acquired:  Won in the August 2008 batch of the LibraryThing Early Readers Program

Challenges:  The ARC Reading Challenge 2010, New Author Challenge 2010

“You’re telling me the fallen angels are still on earth in the form of demons?”

“In a way.  Ever heard of the Grigori and the Nephilim?”  I shook my head.  “The Grigori were known as the watchers.  They were sent to earth to keep an eye on the humans.  They lusted after them instead and were banished by God to Tartarus, the fiery pit where all divine enemies are thrown.”  He shrugged.  “Basically the lowest, locked level of hell.”

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland, page 47 (ARC)

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland was massively given out to LibraryThing’s ER program in August of 2008, and I’ve had it on my ARC-alanche pile since then.  It was out of laziness and distraction, but after reading it, I wonder if it was something more.  Maybe I was tapped into the Collective Conciousness and subconsciously knew it was a craptastic book.  Either way, I’m done with it.  Yay!

Oh my god… where do I begin.  Let’s start with the good things about it.  The plot is an interesting concept.  The Nephilim were the biblically mention sons and daughters of the forbidden union between the angels who were suppose to keep an eye on people and those whom they were suppose to watch.  The creation of this new race gave them a variety of supernatural powers and it is they who are the vampires, werewolves, gods, etc of our mythologies.  Opposing them is a federation of good who seek out and destroy the evil Nephilim.  Another thing I liked about the book was the action (not the action, btw) of demon hunting and solving the mystery of who killed Ruthie, everyone’s favorite mentor.

So where does it go wrong? 

There is vulgar and graphic sex scenes that go on for pages.  I’m not a prude, I can enjoy well-written love-making when it’s appropriate to the story, as in Bedlam, Bath and Beyond.  Even more barbaric and twisted sex like in Bentley Little’s The Store is okay, because it was a necessary part of the story.  But what soils the pages of this book is just gaggy.  The first event occurred within the first 50 pages in which the female narrator describes how she wants to give the guy a blow job.  Later she’s date-raped by the guy who’s suppose to be teaching her how to use her powers, then forcibly raped for a few chapters toward the end.  The sex is bestial and perverse, and isn’t gentle “love” until it’s too late.  No, you don’t have your heroine being raped all over the book, then try to slip in some sweet-lovin’ to make the reader forgive the rape.

And it’s not just the whole rape thing, but it’s the way in which it’s shown.  I swear these are straight out of some guy’s rape-fantasy magazine, because as she’s being raped, she reaches orgasm over and over, as if she has to be taken to have pleasure.  And if all that wasn’t enough, you get to the big boss bad guy’s lair and it’s Gor all the way.  Women waiting around wearing nothing but a chain around their waist, desperately hoping to be used next.  It just started turning my stomach after awhile.

Besides the rape and lack of any moral fiber of anyone, good or bad, except Ruthie who dies in the first chapter, there is the way the book is put together.  At times, the writing is less-than-descriptive (which never happens during the porn), events and sections of the story seem thrown together and not woven in well, and it seems like Handeland wanted to make sure to use ever supernatural being anyone has ever heard of, whether it worked or not.  Case in point:  The half-Nephilim (called breeds) who is a werehyena who fights the cougar (in rural WISCONSIN in April) that’s possessed by a chindi (what the hell is that?), but is defeated when it touches the turquoise necklace our heroine just happens to be wearing that was given to her by her “teacher” who is a skinwalker and hates her dhampir ex-boyfirend who turns out to be a dream-walker.  Oh, and the reason he’s an ex is because she had a psychic vision of him screwing a chick who turns out to be a fairy.

Stretch the limits of credulity much?

Yeah, so it’s an easy guess.  Since I did enjoy some parts of this book it’s not a complete hated-it! but I can’t really give it much higher than a 2 out of 5 stars.

Oh yeah, and I got a very strong feeling the two lovers here will turn out to be brother and sister.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

Title:  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Author:  J. K. Rowling

Hardback:  352 pages

Publisher:  Scholastic Inc.

Publish Date:  2005

ISBN:  9780439784542

“Fine,” said Harry, who was concentrating on handing Ron a glass of pumpkin juice.  “There you go, Ron.  Drink up.”

Ron had just raised the glass to his lips when Hermione spoke sharply.

“Don’t drink that, Ron!”

Both Harry and Ron looked up at her.

“Why not?” said Ron.

Hermione was now staring at Harry as though she could not believe her eyes.

“You just put something in that drink.”

“Excuse me?” said Harry.

“You heard me.  I saw you.  You just tipped something into Ron’s drink.  You’ve got the bottle in your hand right now!”

“I don’t know what you’r talking about,” said Harry, stowing the little bottle hastily in his pocket.

“Ron, I warn you, don’t drink it!”  Hermione said again, alarmed, but Ron picked up the glass, drained it in one gulp, and said, “Stop bossing me around, Hermione.”

She looked scandalized.  Bending low so that only Harry could hear her, she hissed, “You should be expelled for that.  I’d never have believed it of you, Harry!”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling, page 293

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling  is the sixth of the seven book series chronicling the lives and exploits of the orphaned title character and his friends and classmates as they discover they are witches and wizards, go to Hogwarts school to learn to hone their skills, and learn to bond with friends and co-exist with enemies under the genially paternal headmaster, Professor Dumbledore.  In this particularly darkest book yet (I’m told book seven is even worse), Harry struggles with coming to terms (still and again) with the deaths of those close to him, while desiring to get revenge on Lord Voldermort, aka Tom Marvolo Riddle, for the deaths.

Yeah….  I remember when the first book was taking the American bookworld by storm, causing some Christian groups to suffer apoplectic fits at the thought of their sweet angelic prodgeny being infected by evil should so much as the book’s binding touch their innocent hands, and children clamoring to snatch the books off their shelves.  However, six books in and it just seems to be a repeat of each of the last five books’ plotline.  The children return to school, Harry suspects evil is afoot right away, no one believes him, everyone turns against him and treats him like a nutter, then evil pops out from behind the painting of the tutu-wearing trolls and says “Bwa-ha-ha!”  Harry saves the day, Hogwarts and the entire wizarding world, everyone apologizes for doubting him, then they all say good-bye for the summer and look forward to returning in the fall where they can go through the whole cycle all over again.  HP and the HBP has all that plus pimples, crushes and love potions.

It’s an okay book, but nothing I’ll remember next year… I doubt I’ll remember it next month, even.  I found myself trying to remember when whatever event being referenced occured, and I realized that I’ve forgotten a lot of the content of the previous books already.  What’s more, I think up to a third of this book could have been dropped.  Some of it was a repeat of what had happened in a previous book, but some of it  just seemed superfluous.

I’m glad I read it since I’ve read the other books of the series, and I definitely wanted to get it done before the movie comes out this coming July.  Some people have said the last book, Deathly Hollows, is the best book of the series. 

From the way this book has ended, Deathly Hollowsat least seems like it will break the endless cycle.  Harry tells Ron and Hermione that he doesn’t plan to return to Hogwarts for his final year because he plans to hunt down and kill Voldemort, and his friends inform him they’ll be right beside him wherever he goes.  But… it’ll be a while before that movie comes out so I needn’t get into too much of a hurry reading the book.

While Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling  was an easy and comfortable read, it often fell flat and fizzled in places.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The movie looks like it’ll be really good, I thought the others were good, too.

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.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Title: New Moon
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Paperback: 563 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date: 2006
ISBN: 9780316024969

“Bella, we’re leaving… I mean my family and myself.” Each word separate and distinct.

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll come with you.”

He took a deep breath and stared, unseeingly, at the ground for a long moment. His mouth twisted the tiniest bit. When he finally looked up, his eyes were different, harder – like the liquid gold had frozen solid.

“Bella, I don’t want you to come with me.” He spoke the words slowly and precisely, his cold eyes on my face, watching as I absorbed what he was really saying.

“You… don’t… want me?” I tried out the words, confused by the way they sounded, placed in that order.

He looked away into the trees as he spoke again. “Of course, I’ll always love you… in a way. But… I’m tired of pretending to be something I’m not, Bella. I’m not human.” He looked back, and the icy planes of his perfect face were not human. “I’ve let this go on much too long, and I’m sorry for that.”

“Don’t.” My voice was just a whisper now; awareness was beginning to seep through me, trickling like acid through my veins. “Don’t do this.”

He just stared at me, and I could see from his eyes that my words were far too late. He already had.

“You’re not good for me, Bella.” He turned his earlier words around, and so I had no argument. How well I knew that I wasn’t good enough for him.

 

In New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, I was forced to witness the horror of Bella and Edward’s breakup. I thought, “NO! THAT’S NOT RIGHT! I’m calling information RIGHT NOW and getting Ms Meyer’s phone number and BAWLING HER OUT!” But then reason washed over me as I realised this was just page 71, and I still had nearly 500 more pages to go, not to mention two more books… maybe good ol’ Steph has something planned. So I put the anger monkey back in her cage, turned the page and read on.

So, in the absence of my Edward, Bella kind of implodes on herself, going about the routines of life without awareness. I believe this state is called dissociative depression, or in layman’s terms, “The lights are on, but nobody’s home.” Until one morning Charlie (her father) threatens to send her back to live with her mother. The sudden threat of leaving the world in which Edward and her inhabited as a couple snaps her awake, and promises Charlie she’ll be better.

With the thought of reestablishing something normal in her life, Bella tries to reestablish relationships with her school chums. But when she’s in Port Angeles with Jessica walking to McD’s Bella experiences a moment of deja vu in a dark alley with four strange men. Along with a sense of threat and danger Bella hears Edward’s voice inside her head admonishing her to run. The discovery that adrenaline and risky behavior brings on an auditory hallucination, Bella turns to extreme (for her) recreation. She gets a couple motor bikes and rekindles a friendship with Jacob Black, who fixes up one of the bikes for her (the other’s for him) and teaches her how to ride.

This is when everything in the book goes screwy. Jake, as you may or may not recall, has really got a thing for Bella, and is in serious like-almost-obsessed-love with her. And Bella begins to start to think “Oh, well! If I can’t have Mr. Right… I guess I could settle for Mr. Handy!” Ugh! Every time I thought, “NO! THAT’S NOT RIGHT! I’m calling information RIGHT NOW and getting Ms Meyer’s phone number and BAWLING HER OUT!” But then I remembered there are still two more books and about 250 pages left, so I put the anger monkey back in her cage, turned the page and read on.

I really love, and am addicted to, the Twilight books. I have to wait for Eclipseto arrive in the mail from another BookMooch member before I can go on, but I think I can hold out for a second on it… I hope.

I did have a few issues with New Moon, though. First off: The whole “damsel in distress” thing is wearing a little thin for me. When she doesn’t have the friendly neighborhood vampires to protect her, the werewolves take up the standard to keep ickle widdle Belwa safe! It’s beginning to chafe.

and yes, Second: Werewolves? Vampires just didn’t have enough bite to keep reader interest? She had to go WEREWOLF?

Which brings me to my Third irritation: Is Bella really that stupid? or was Meyer’s dragging out the story for as long as possible? It took Bella two hundred pages to figure out Jake was a werewolf. I had that one figured out in like ten, tops. When she’s in the meadow and the “giant bears” show up, I knew right then what they were, AND remembered Jacob’s story he told her on the beach of La Push in the first book. But she was all like, “Duh? I think those bears look a bit more like dogs than Grizzlies… I know, they might be mutant wolves or something!” When I read that, I thought, “NO! THAT’S NOT RIGHT! I’m calling information RIGHT NOW and getting Ms Meyer’s phone number and BAWLING HER OUT!”

Okay… I want my copy of Eclipse, NOW!