Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Is the 'Twilight' series of books appropriate for pre-teens?

If you have a pre-teen, you might have heard them talk about the Twilight series of books by Stephenie Meyer.  I was somewhat surprised to learn from my pre-teen (just turned 11 year old) that she'd read Twilight at school, when I had mentioned that I'd seen it on TV recently on a lazy Sunday afternoon. She also admitted that she'd seen the second movie at a friend's house, so I figured I should probably check them out since there were four books in the series. I liked the movie, and was interested to see how the series played out.  After all, books are always way better than the movie.  I'll try not to spoil the books too much.

In Twilight, Bella and Edward's relationship is just beginning to blossom.  She realizes that he's a vampire, but doesn't care.  She falls in love with him, and bravely faces a vampire foe (only to be nearly killed as a result).  This book sets into motion events that will eventually come to fruition in Eclipse. 

Mom's take:  Having seen the movie and read the book myself, I wasn't overly concerned that my daughter had read/seen the movie.  In fact, we watched it together after requesting the DVD from Netflix.  There was some kissing, but nothing sexual.

Bella is soon turning 18 in Twilight: New Moon and starting her senior year in high school.  When her birthday party thrown by Edward's family goes horribly awry, Edward makes a decision that devastates Bella.  Bella eventually finds solace for her wounded soul by deepening her friendship with Jacob.  Bella's reckless behavior results in a misunderstanding, one she is compelled to correct, and leads her to Italy where Edward is planning to expose himself as a vampire and force the Volturi (kind of like a vampire police force) to take him out.  Bella races to save Edward before it's too late.   

Mom's take:  I liked Twilight: New Moon, though it was a little dark.  Bella struggles hard with depression and you can really feel her pain. There was no sexual content (Jacob and Bella are just friends), and very little violence.   I would let my pre-teen read this book and we did watch the movie together.  This was when my daughter told me she was firmly on Team Jacob.

Twilight: Eclipse brings us to more mature content.  Bella and Edward are back together and Bella must be turned into a vampire in the near future.  She's grounded for life, making seeing Edward a bit difficult, though her dad is clearly on Team Jacob, wanting her to spend time with Jacob again.  The vampiress who has an ax to grind reappears and there is some violence when the battle ensues.  Though Bella is deeply committed to Edward, Jacob still pulls at her heart strings as she's unwilling to cut him out of her life, though he's a shape-shifting Wolf who hunts vampires (not a good combo considering she's dating one).  The truce between the Cullens and the Wolves is strengthened by the events in this novel, since they must team up to fight a common foe.   

Mom's take:  Eclipse is getting more mature.  In one scene, Charlie asks Bella if she's being careful, something my daughter misinterpreted (thankfully) as a reference to Bella's klutzy nature.  Bella also pressures Edward to have sex, though he refuses her because he wants to wait until they marry (though Bella is a bit averse to marriage).  There was some heavier kissing in this movie (and a scene involving a bed with Bella trying to convince Edward to make love to her). I did allow my daughter to watch the movie, though I'd caution parents with pre-teens who might find the content too mature.  I covered her eyes and ears in a few places, but most of the movie was fine for her to watch.  Since books are typically enjoyed on your own, I would have reservations about letting her read this one.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn is the final book in the series, and one that I definitely feel is too mature for a pre-teen.  Bella and Edward do finally marry, and she convinces him to consummate the marriage.  The movie does show some bed scenes, though nothing worse than you'd probably see in a soap opera.  Bella goes to the beach wrapped in a towel and drops it to enter the water, going to Edward to officially start their honeymoon love-making, so you do see a little bit of skin, but again, nothing showing breasts.  A few weeks into the honeymoon, Bella realizes she's pregnant and they rush back home to Carlisle because the baby is growing far more rapidly than a normal child.  The child is a threat to the Volturi and they pay a visit.  The survival of the Cullen clan hinges upon their ability to convince the Volturi that the baby isn't the threat that they perceive it to be.

Mom's take:  Due to the sex in this movie, I refused to let our daughter watch it or allow her to finish reading it (my husband had gotten it on library loan for her Kindle and I did not renew it for her).  Aside from the consummation of marriage, the transformation of the sweet girl, Bella, into a vampire might be too much for her.  The scene created when the baby is born is gruesome in the movie and not much better in the book.  The book is somewhat dark in its nature, with the contrast between the previous books being stark.  The movie does portray Bella's illness with the baby in graphic images (her anorexic looking limbs and her sunken facial features).  Bella also drinks blood and actually enjoys the taste.  So whereas you knew at the beginning that Bella would eventually become a vampire, it might be just a little jolting for a pre-teen to actually read/see it on screen.  

Bear in mind that Breaking Dawn is broken down into two movies, with part one now available on DVD and part two coming to theaters this November.  Part one is up through to the point where Bella is turned. 

What do you think about this topic?  Do you read what your kids are wanting to read first?  My daughter has expressed an interest in The Hunger Games and I suppose I'll be reading that series soon too.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

His Lady's Mistress by Elizabeth Rolls (book review)

I downloaded His Lady's Mistress by Elizabeth Rolls onto my nook as a free ebook. I am a huge fan of historical romances and settled in for a cozy read.

From start to finish, I loved this book. I have never before read any of Elizabeth Rolls' books, so I didn't know what to expect, like I would with Sabrina Jeffries or Eloisa James.

One thing that struck me about this book was the pain I felt for the main character, Verity Scott. She lost her father and then her identity when she was taken in by her family. I literally felt Verity's pain... the pain of loss, the pain of rejection, the pain of feeling not good enough... I even shed a few tears, the pain was so palpable to me.

If you love historical romances and want to be so engrossed in the story that you feel the characters' emotions - the pain and the joy - this is the book for you. I look forward to finding more books by Ms. Rolls and wholeheartedly agree that this free ebook was worth the read.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Midnight in Madrid book review

Barnes & Noble offered Noel Hynd's Midnight in Madrid gratis for nook, so I "bought" the free ebook to read. Midnight in Madrid is the second book in the Russian Trilogy; however, I didn't feel I had missed out on much by not having read the first book. This book can stand alone, but like all series, it is probably much better when read in succession. I did feel a little left out of the loop when it came to the main character's back history with the Russian mobster though.

The book opens with Alexandra LaDuca basking on a beach, trying to recharge her batteries after an assignment gone wrong - way wrong - resulting in the death of her fiance. Her phone rings and she is enlisted to travel to Spain to help in the search of an artifact with special significance.

Over the course of her investigation, she is almost killed. She is saved by a mysterious Chinese man, who later turns out to be pivotal to the story line. She is drawn to him, attracted even, and is wary of her developing feelings for him.

What I liked about Midnight in Madrid

I liked the way the book flowed in that the chapters were very short. They jumped all over the place at times, which kind of gave it a movie feel. The short chapters made it easy to stop and place a book mark, but yet the short chapters that jumped all over also made it harder to put down when the plot picked up and began to move faster.

The plot was plausible and the ending left you wanting to read the third book in the trilogy. More about that in a minute...

Another thing I liked about the book was the Catholic overtones. Alex is busy with her investigation, yet she still finds the time to go to church. At times, it was a bit preachy (even for me - and I'm Catholic) but it wasn't an in-your-face kind of thing. She discusses her faith freely and without apology and even admits that she's still finding her way.


As I mentioned, Midnight in Madrid left me interested enough to check into the next book in the trilogy, Countdown in Cairo. I read the blurb on Amazon and now I'm not sure I want to read it, considering the character I just connected with in the last book is zipped into a body bag in the third novel. What a let down! Knowing that takes away any desire I have to read the first book or the third book. Why go emotionally invest myself in the first novel to get the back story, knowing that by the third book it is curtains for Alex?

Maybe I'm just not a huge fan of people killing off my favorite characters. I remember crying for days when Magnum, PI was killed. At any rate, knowing that Alex LaDuca gets killed off was a huge deal breaker for me.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fired Up, by Jayne Ann Krentz (book review)

I was giddy with joy this week when my library called me to tell me that I had a book waiting for me at the library - Fired Up, by Jayne Ann Krentz. I recently had gotten a call for Grave Secret and at that time I was well behind in the queue for Fired Up so I wasn't expecting a call so soon. Now I know why I moved up the list so fast - it is because this book was impossible to put down.

Fired Up is the first of the Dreamlight Trilogy (part of the Arcane Society series) and I can't wait to read the next book. The main characters involve Chloe Harper, a talent whose family shies away from anything Arcane society related. The Harper family, shall we say, has a gift for things that tend to lead to illegal activities. Chloe Harper, however, is above board and works as a PI.

Jack Winters comes to her to ask her to locate a family heirloom, a lamp, which he is convinced will be his salvation. He just so happens to need a dreamlight talent like Chloe to work the lamp with him and their troubles really start once she locates the lamp in record time in Las Vegas.

Of course, an Arcane Society book set in the present cannot lack the Nightshade element and this book is no different. Jack and Chloe get tangled up with Nightshade, who wants the lamp for their own sinister purposes.

Fallon Jones is back this time too and it looks like he is going to get his happy ending in a future book.

Overall, I really liked this book. It had a good plot and flowed well enough to keep me interested long after I should have turned out the light and gone to sleep. I started Fired Up yesterday afternoon and finished it this afternoon, having read 3/4 of it yesterday. It was that intriguing. I read the teaser for the next book in the Dream Light trilogy and it looks equally as interesting, to be set in Victorian times.

Arcane Society fans won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Review "Grave Secret" (Harper Connolly) by Charlaine Harris

I was very excited to get a call from my library to alert me that Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris had finally come in. I had put my name on the list several months ago and was actually surprised that it came so soon considering where I was on the list (pretty far down). However, considering that I returned Grave Secret within 3 days of borrowing it, I can easily see why I got it so quick: It was that good.

Grave Secret begins with Harper and Tolliver traveling back to Texas for a job and a quick visit to see their younger sisters. Sometimes the clients don't like what Harper has to say when she reads graves and the Joyce family was no exception. The revelation that the grandfather had died of fright and his caretaker had died in child birth had rocked the family to the core and the news didn't sit well.

After the grave reading, Harper and Tolliver make their way to Dallas to see their sisters. Unfortunately, danger follows Harper around like a shadow and her brother Tolliver is shot. Harper is now tasked with trying to find out who would try to shoot at them. Add Tolliver's fresh out of prison father to the mix and it's a big mystery filled with family drama. After a second attempt on Harper's life, she begins to wonder if someone really is out to kill her and why. Is it related to a past job? The Joyces? Her sister Cameron?

Family secrets come out of the woodwood work and I'll be honest, I had half of the ending guessed about 3/4 through. Alert readers can pick up on subtle clues and have an idea of the ending. You'll smack your head and say, "Oh yeah!" once the great secrets are revealed. The ends are all tied up, quite tidily. But I'll get to that in a minute....

SPOILER ALERT - YOU'VE BEEN WARNED! *********************

Ok, this is the part where I rant about the ending of the book. For four books, we've been following the journey of Tolliver and Harper as they travel around the country to read graves. Their cases were interesting and the books always left us satisfied, yet wanting more. In Grave Secret, the issue of Cameron's killer was resolved. It felt like the author had wrapped up the series, never to write another in the series. I urge her to please not abandon Harper and Tolliver in favor of Sookie. I know that Sookie is immensely popular right now, but Harper is a unique, quirky character. I'd love to read more of her adventures and even have her cross paths again with Manfred. Now that would be interesting.

It just seemed like the ends were all tied up, too tightly and too neatly. When I finished the book, I felt like I'd finished watching the Series Finale of a favorite show. It was too final and I do hope that Harper and Tolliver will be back. She gave us our happy ending and now fans like myself are wondering if it wasn't the end, the big happily ever after.

Book Review of "Homespun Bride" By Jillian Hart

Upon getting my nook, I immediately started searching for free ebooks. Jillian Hart's Homespun Bride was free to download and since I enjoy historical romances, I gave it a try.

Homespun Bride is set in Montana Territory in 1883. The main characters, Thad McCaslin and Noelle Kramer meet again after several years after he saves her and her aunt from certain death. Thad had left Noelle waiting for him to come get her so that they could get married. She waited and waited and he never showed. Broken-hearted, she eventually agrees to marry another, but had the engagement broken after she became blind following an accident.

When Thad comes back into Noelle's life, he begins to feel the stirrings of love that he thought he had pushed so far down in his heart that they'd never surface again. Instead, he is even more in love with Noelle than he was the first time he planned to marry her. Will she be able to forgive him? Can a blind woman make a good wife in the harsh territory?

I liked this book for the most part. I haven't read any of the previous McCaslin series, so I would have to say that as a stand alone book, it works. I did feel the romance dragged on a little too long, but this is a Love Inspired romance so there's a heavy helping of faith and a side dish of passion. The characters were almost too chaste, so if you are looking for something with a lot of passion, this book will disappoint.

However, for romance lovers who enjoy reading a romance story where the characters are bound by some morals and don't jump into bed within the first 20 pages of the book, then this is your book. I do enjoy the Love Inspired series quite a lot and pick them up from time to time to ground myself when I've read far too many other romance novels containing graphic sex scenes. I think it is important to remember God as much as possible and a "clean" romance is a nice change of pace.

Note: Homespun Bride is currently free to download at for your nook, at Amazon for your Kindle and for your Sony Reader.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hoping to keep this blog up-to-date in the new year

I admit it, I've been a slacker. Not that I haven't been reading... it is just that many of the books I was reading were for a private site. I had to write a review and writing two just seemed like too much energy. However, in 2010, I do hope to be much better about blogging about what I am reading and/or what I have read.

I am hoping to blog here more as a journal of what I've read. I asked my library once if they kept track of what I borrowed so that I would know a tally of what I've read. Nope. Probably a good thing else they'd be in trouble for keeping too many stats on people for privacy reasons.

So just what have I read this year? Well, I won't count the two books I read at the tail end of last year on my new nook. (nook or Kindle? It was a tough choice.) But I will tell you that I am reading a book called Homespun Bride (hey, it was free at and so far, so good. I really like historical romances. Our world now is so chock full of distractions, devices, etc. that it is almost refreshing to step back in time when people rode by horse, carriage or sleigh.

Stay tuned... I hope to keep this blog updated more frequently. Don't be shy - feel free to recommend a good book. If you know of any good free e-books, let me know that too!