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Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires Series #1) by Rachel Caine
Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires Series #1) by Rachel Caine read by Cynthia Holloway produced by Tantor Audio approx. 8.5 hours
Finally a young adult vampire series you can really sink your teeth into. (I know too much, right?) Seriously Rachel Caine has created in the Morganville Vampire series a return to the good old days of when vampires were enemies and not something to fall in love with. And now Tantor Audio has brought the first book to life in audio book form.
Overall, Cynthia Holloway, does a very nice job of delivering the story as told from Claire Danvers a super smart 16 year old in her first year of college. However there are a couple of pronunciation issues that should have been cleared up before production. One that stands out is the word settee. Ms. Holloway pronounces as "setty" instead of set-tee. There are only a couple of other words that grated on me but this one was repeated several times in the book and just felt like nails on a chalkboard. If it weren't for the intriguing story I would have been turned off a bit from the book. Aside from a couple of mispronunciations, Ms. Holloway does a great job of helping to distinguish who is talking and thinking with slight voice variations and emotes the danger and and even sometimes humor Rachel Caine uses to create a world full of vampires.
The story in this first book of the series of Morganville Vampires, Glass Houses, introduces the listener to the town of Morganville, Texas, home of Texas Prairie University sometimes called T-P eeewwww. A town that is populated by some strange people and even stranger yet, the town is run by Vampires. Each person has a sort of insurance policy that protects them from the vampires, when the person turns 18 they must find some vampire family to "insure" them or risk becoming food for the vamps.
Claire Danvers is a 16 year old who, due to her super smarts, has graduated high school early and before heading to a major university has opted to attend TPU. The problem is her smarts gets her on the wrong side of Monica Morell, the most popular girl in school. When Claire corrects Monica and makes her look dumb in front of friends, Claire becomes marked for violence. Monica and the Monikettes beat up Claire and steal her clothes from her dorm room. Claire decides to be safe she will have to move off campus. She discovers that The Glass House residents are looking for a fourth roommate and after meeting with Shane and Eve she has to meet with Michael, the owner of the house and who only makes his appearances after sunset.
Shane whose sister died after Monica, under instructions from the vampires, set fire to Shane's family home, makes a deal with the vampires to keep Claire from further attack. This deal could mean the death of Shane. In order to null the deal Claire has to make a better offer to the vampires.
Eve a goth girl that is hated by the vampires because they feel she is making fun of them, tells Claire of something the vampires want and have been looking for for ages. Claire must find this lost article and bring peace to the town of Morganville. In doing so Claire discovers Michaels secret and is burdened with another secret. All this on the shoulders of a 16 year-old genius.
With exciting vampire battles and the hazing of college life, "Glass Houses" is a very nice introduction to a series of vampire books that brings back the stories of hunting vampires rather than falling in love with them. So if you are a fan of the other young adult vampire stories, pick up this ongoing series for some real vampire battles.
"Breaking Dawn" Book 4 of the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
"Breaking Dawn" Book 4 of the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer Read by Ilyana Kadushin & Matt Walters Produced by Listening Library Approx 20.5 hours
I finally got around to listening to the final book in the "Twilight" Series by Stephenie Meyer. I kept putting it off because I really didn't want to put up with the whiney Bella. But I was drawn to it mainly because of the werewolves and not the vampires. When Stephenie Meyer writes about the werewolves, led (kinda sorta/ and even more so in this book) by Jacob Black, she seems to do better storytelling. And then again the werewolves aren't the whiney-pay-attention-to-me-I'm-so-smart-and-everything-should-be-handed-to-me Bella. I've also been thinking that maybe the werewolves tell the masculine side of the story and the vampires represent the feminine, but that would be another analysis all together.
This book is the one that brings a close (somewhat) to the "Twilight" series. It even gives everyone a happily-ever-after ending. Maybe not the one you were expecting but it seems to end the series on a positive note. It does however leave the author open to write more should she feel like revisiting the series. This final tome is broken down into 3 parts, the first and last as told by Bella and the second told by Jacob. This is the reason for the 2 vocal actors in the audiobook. I will say this; Ilyana Kadushin and Matt Walters do a great job acting out the reading. Ms. Kadushin captures the voice and character of Bella, and it may be due to her portrayal of a perfect teenage female that gets on my nerves. As for Matt Walters delivery as Jacob, the werewolf, he delivers the angst and anger of the character and even gets a good growl going in some of the scenes.
Okay here's where my problem in this book lies; Bella is always wanting attention but at the same time saying I don't want the attention. She acts as though here getting the "gift" of immortality is due her for no other reason than she says so. Some may say that her being in love with a vampire she should deserve to be one, but the way the character reads she seems very "snotty" about it. And with today's youth thinking everything should be handed them just because the demand it, Bella emphasizes that point.
Now to get off my soapbox and talk about the story. All in all the story is pretty captivating. Once you get to the middle of the book you are locked in for the ride.
The book begins with Bella finally marrying her vampire, Edward Cullen. Edward demande she marry him before she becomes a vampire. They then go off on their honeymoon off the coast of Brazil. As with any honeymooning couple they engage in days of sex. Although with Edward's vampire strength and desires he ends up bruising Bella and tries to steer her away from this human experience. It turns out Bella demands more time together and as can be expected she becomes pregnant. What? Pregnant? Yes and of course being a half human/half vampire baby this baby has some strange things going on. The strength is more than normal, causing damage to Bella's body, the appetite is draining Bella. This becomes too much for Edward and knowing the baby is killing Bella he flies her back home to his Doctor/Father Carlisle Cullen, to abort this birth. But Bella is having none of it.
The baby is born but before it is born it is found to be developing and growing at an alarming rate, eventually able to transfer its thoughts to Edward, to where Edward then knows the baby loves him and Bella. Jacob hates the baby because it is killing Bella and since Jacob who hasn't "imprinted" with a mate yet, he still loves Bella. Imprinting is a werewolf way of finding the perfect mate.
Once the baby is born she continues to grow at a very fast rate. And surprise of all surprises, Jacob imprints with baby Renesmee. Imprinting is not a sexual thing but more of a protective thing, and is not unusual to have a "quasi-immortal" werewolf imprint with a child. After all werewolves don't age.
Another vampire sees the baby and thinks Renesmee is an "immortal child." Immortal children is forbidden under vampire law set forth by the Volturi. The Volturi are a self appointed governing council over all vampires. Hearing of this law being broking the Volturi seek out to destroy the Cullen's.
The Cullen's seek out all the assistance they can in what seems to be a suicidal battle for the Cullen's but they believe strongly that the baby should live. Stephenie Meyer at this point brings in many vampire covens from around the world and gets very creative in the telling of the stories of the different covens. The fun point is hearing of the Romanian coven led by a vampire named Vladimir. I thought this was a nice nod to Bram Stoker.
All in all there is some good excitement especially during the buildup of the face-off between the Volturi and the Cullens. Also the middle section told by Jacob is captivating.
Eclipse (Twilight Saga, Book 3) by Stephenie Meyer
Eclipse (Twilight Saga, Book 3) by Stephenie Meyer Read by Ilyana Kadushin and Matt Walters
Continuing on with the saga of high school student Bella Swan and her boyfriend the Vampire and her almost boyfriend/best friend the Werewolf, Stephenie Meyer brings out the best in her story with book 3, "Eclipse." This book has some real nice qualities to it and seems to be a stronger story than the previous 2 books in the series.
The relationship between Edward Cullen, the vampire and Bella is strenghtened in this book. For the romance lover this is the book where true love is defined and embodied through the characters of Edward and Bella. A problem arises in this relationship in that Bella is also friends with and possibly in love with Jacob Black, a Quilute Indian and werewolf. With the werewolf being the natural enemy of the vampire you can see how this would create some stress. Jacob and his father have been friends with Bella and her father for years where Edward only came into the picture within the last year or so. Also, it doesn't help that Edward left Bella (for her safety), during that time Bella was severely depressed and the only thing that brought her out of the funk was Jacob. Jacob also is in love with Bella.
Now with this background we are treated to a great love triangle, and may the best man win. But Stephenie Meyer doesn't make it that easy. In the first book, "Twilight," Edward destroyed a tracker vampire named James. He did this because James was out to kill Bella. Well James' mate Victoria was not happy with this and in order to get revenge she wants to destroy Bella. In "Eclipse" Victoria's back and this time she has created an army of new-born vampires to take the attention of the Cullen family while she kills Bella. The Cullen's try to pull in every favor they can think of but no one wants to help with this little war being waged. No other vampires want to bring the attention of the Volturi upon themselves. The Volturi are the "governing class" of vampires that destroy any vampires that bring attention to the existance of vampires.
Eventually the Cullens team up with the pack of werewolves from the Quilute reservation in order to make the odds a little more even against the newborns and Victoria. Thus forcing Edward, Jacob and Bella to deal with this extremely complicated realtionship. This temporary truce between the werewolves and vampires creates the possibility of leading to a long term working relationship with two groups of "good guys."
In this book Jacob really turns out to be a bit more immature acting when it comes to loving Bella. He forces a kiss on her twice the first time Bella looks at the kiss as an attack the second...well let's just say it is eye-opening. Even if Jacob is a bit less mature, I'm still with Team Jacob and the werewolves. They are just more fun.
Also revealed in this book are more background on the Quilute tribe and their magicks as well as the backstory on Edward's "brother," Jasper, his "sister," Alice and other "sister," Rosalie.
Keep in mind all this is going on while Bella is finishing out her senior year in high school and getting ready to graduate and on top of that become a vampire herself after she graduates. Before she is to become a vampire Edward insists she marry him.
So with true love, true friendship, battles between vampires and werewolves and vampires this book has a lot of tension and action. Truly the best, so far, in this series. Too bad there is only one book left in the series.
"New Moon" The Twilight Saga book 2 - by Stephenie Meyer
New Moon The Twilight Saga book 2 by Stephenie Meyer audiobook read by Ilyana Kadushin Published by Little, Brown Young Readers (August 21, 2006)
As many of you know I'm a sucker for a good vampire story (ha, sucker...vampire). So I've decided to give this Twilight Saga series a read, and I can say that they aren't bad. I knew going into this reading adventure that I was diving into adolescent fiction, but hey, Harry Potter was very entertaining and Lemony Snicket's "Unfortunate Events" books kept me in stitches, so the adolescent fiction can sometimes be a real treat.
I'm still on the fence on this one but I will say that during the moments of tension and thrills the author kept me reading with a fervor that makes these books worth reading. BUT (I know everyone's got a big BUT), the main character, Bella Swan, is a typical mopey teenage girl, that uses her teenage girly wiles to get what she wants. At times I just wanted to slap this wanna be Emo girl. But she did represent a fairly large slice of the psyche of teen angst, especially in this installment of the Twilight Saga, "New Moon."
In this novel Bella (the mopey human girl) and Edward Cullen(the beautiful, moody vampire) compare and contrast their lives with Romeo and Juliet. Bella has to watch the movie for her English class and uses this as a stall tactic to keep from going to her birthday party the Cullen's (family of vampires) have planned for her. You see, Bella doesn't want to age any more she wants to be eternally 17 like Edward, but Edward does not want Bella to become a vampire. Edwards reasoning behind this is that he believes vampire's souls are damned and he doesn't want to damn Bella. At the end of the Romeo and Juliet movie Edward states he doesn't want to live in a world without Bella.
Eventually she goes to the party and is showered with gifts. As she opens one of the gifts she gets a paper cut. Typically not a problem, actually at most parties it would be a source of a joke, but in a house where the folks live off blood and the smell of blood can encourage an attack, this creates problems. One of the Cullen family is still trying to get used to the not feeding on humans and only animals (vegetarian vampires), and goes to attack Bella at the smell of her blood.
This fiasco shows the Cullen's that their living in the same town as her creates a constant danger to her life and decide it's time to move on. The family leaves and Bella is thrown into several months of depression in which her dad, who she refers to with his first name, Charley, rather than calling him dad, finally decides he doesn't know how to handle this depression and threatens to send her back to live with her mom. This motivates Bella a little so she becomes a little more active with her social life. During these months of depression she has also made herself a bit of an outcast with her friends at school, and surprises one by inviting her to go to a movie.
After the movie Bella comes to walk near a bar where some neighborhood ruffians are hanging out and being the target of constant danger and accidents, she walks too close to the guys and as she does she hears Edwards voice in her head warning her to watch out. After she clears what could have been danger she realizes that in order to hear the sweet voice of Edward the only thing she can do now is put herself in danger.
Within a few days she sees a school mate is giving away 2 motorcycles, she knows that Charley has always forbidden the riding of motorcycles and they potential danger they hold, so she takes them. In comes Jacob Black, a minor character in the first book and member of the Quileute Indian nation. Jacob has a talent for fixing vehicles so she gets him to fix up the bikes and show her to ride. Side note here; this is one of the areas that really ticked me off. Bella played on Jacob's emotions and crush on her to get him to do what she wanted, fix bikes and teach her to ride. Jacob is smitten with Bella and that is his weak spot with her. So thinking she likes him he does what she wants.
The nice turn in this part of the story is that Jacob, being a member of the Quileute nation, soon becomes a shapeshifter/werewolf. According to legend the werewolves protect the tribe from vampires.
Jacob and his pack of other werewolves rescue Bella from a rogue vampire, Laurent, who we met in book one. Laurent is out to find Bella so the other vampire in their pack, Victoria, can kill her. This is revenge for Edward killing Victoria's mate, James.
Victoria continues to hunt for Bella, which leads to many dead bodies and the community is out looking for large wolves. The wolves are seen leaving the kill sites as they try to track down the bloodsucker. Bella is kept on the reservation while the wolves hunt. During the boredom Bella decides to try to hear Edward's voice again (it's all in her head, by the way) so she decides cliff-diving is dangerous enough.
One of the Cullen's, Alice, has a talent for seeing the future and sees this dangerous activity as Bella committing suicide and succeeding. Word get's out to Edward about Bella's "death" and he heads to Italy to get an ancient family of vampires to kill him. Remember the Romeo and Juliet reference?
Bella must now hurry to Italy with Alice to prevent Edward's suicide.
The events in Italy create an interesting outcome that affects the remaining 2 books in the series, and honestly I can't wait to read them. Make sure you note I'm on Team Jacob and not Team Edward.
Twilight (Twilight, Book 1) by Stephenie Meyer (pub. 2005)
Twilight (Twilight, Book 1) by Stephenie Meyer Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers (2005) audiobook narrated by Ilyana Kadushin
Once again I decide to find out what these whacky kids are reading these days and I find that there is a new series of books that features mythical beasts and adventure. This series is the "Twilight" series by Stephenie Meyer. The series just recently ended? with book 4 "Breaking Dawn" and a movie based on book 1. With the movie soon to be released I had to check this one out. I've always been a fan of vampires and when I heard this series featured vampires and shapeshifters that just added the oomph to the idea.
The general idea in the book is that it is adolescent romantic fiction featuring vampires. The last series featuring mythical creatures that captured the reading youth didn't have any vampires, or romance for that matter, but wizards and werewolves and others, that series was the "Harry Potter" series. This book focuses on the vampires and romance, that is missing in teens lives. Together vampires and romance have always been tied together. Bram Stoker's "Dracula" the first major book of vampires was very romantic in nature and Anne Rice's vampires are pretty much nothing but romance. But don't let that deter you...in case you're one that thinks romance is for saps. After all the whole premise of vampires is the romance. With "Twilight" we follow the adventures of Bella as she finds love in the small town of Forks, Washington. The problem is the person she's in love with is a vampire.
Bella has just moved in with her dad for her senior year in High School and goes through the typical high school traumas of trying to fit in and finding a sense of self. Forks is a small town and seems to have some secrets. One of those secrets is the Cullen "family." Dr. Cullen is said to be a very talented doctor and his wife have 5 adopted children. The "children" all seem to be normal teens, except they possess exceptional beauty and grace. Edward Cullen is the one that captures Bella's eye but when she is seated at his lab table in Biology class he acts as if she repulses him.
Not understanding what she did to offend him, Bella finds their paths constantly crossing. One such crossing is on a snowy winter day when a van driven by a fellow student nearly crashes into her. The crash should have been instant death for Bella, but out of nowhere Edward whisks her out of the way. Looking back at the van Bella notices a nice hand sized dent in the van, and at the same time wonders where Edward came from, and most of all why did he save her?
As the story progresses the love between Edward and Bella grows to the point that it the reader knows it was MEANT to be. But a human in love with a vampire can lead to problems. Especially when 3 rogue vampires come to Forks and decide to hunt down Bella. Bella makes her escape but with a "tracker" vampire that is only a fleeting escape. At this point without giving too much away, I have to admit the final battle is pretty much non-climactic. However the information and the story continues and is a very nice opening book to the series.
The author, Stephenie Meyer, does change some of the mythos behind vampires, as do all writers of vampire fiction. The big issue is that vampires can come out in the day. However, in the Olympic Peninsula town of Forks sunny days are rare so there's still some mystery there. The vampires do still feed on blood, but the Cullen family are "vegetarian vampires," feeding only on animals and not humans, great for keeping the deer and mountain lion population down. The temptation to hunt humans still lingers, keeping an edge to this story.
So go out and read what the "kids" are reading, and enjoy a fun romp through a vampire high school. If you are a listener of audio books the reader is Ilyana Kadushin, and as the story is told from Bella's point of view, Ilyana's voice sounds just as you'd imagine Bella to sound.