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Review: Twilight

I had a lot of fun reading this book.  It reminds me of the Dollanganger series, by V.C. Andrews.  Remember her?  If you don’t, she was the author of Flowers in the Attic, Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, and the other two books in the Dollanganger series.  I read those books very quickly when I was in middle school; today they remain some of my very favorite books.  What reminds me of them in Twilight is that Twilight, like the Dollanganger series, is essentially about a family and the extraordinary problems they face: In Flowers in the Attic, the family is two young children, twins, and two teenagers, who have been locked in the attic of their sadistic grandmother’s mansion.  This family is very close.  Edward Cullen, one of the two main characters of Twilight, is also a member of a very close-knit family.  Without giving things about the book away that I shouldn’t, the Cullen family faces a different sort of problem than the Dollanganger family faces: the Cullen’s have a supernatural problem.

The other main character in Twilight is Bella Swan, a 17-year old who has just relocated to Forks, Washington from Phoenix.  Bella is a pale-skinned brunette, attractive, into literature, and calamity prone.  Her tendency to be calamity prone adds a great deal of much appreciated humor to the book.  There are some very funny parts and lines in the book that have to do with this.

Kudos to author Stephanie Meyer for doing a great job describing Forks, where most of the book is set.  Forks seems like another character in the book, and it’s the perfect place for the story to be set; you’ll have to read the book to know what I mean.  Aside from that, the usually overcast skies, large amount of rain, and abundance of green foliage gave me a new appreciation for Seattle and the part of Washington where Forks is and places with this type of climate.

Getting back to the Dollanganger series, the main thing I liked about it was that I really cared about the good characters in the family I was reading about; I felt like I was back in high school, a good friend of theirs, and that I was right there with them as the journey that is their story unfolded.  I got the same feeling when reading Twilight: I felt like I was back in high school when I was reading it, hanging around at school with my good friends Bella and Edward and the other characters who are their friends in the book, and going over to the Cullens’ house and Bella’s house, where much of the book is set.  Meyer did a great job of creating realistic characters that readers really like and want to root for.

Twilight is also an out-of-the-ordinary love story.  Although the romance between Bella and Edward is out of the ordinary (and you’ll have to read the book to know what I mean), the feelings of anyone who has fallen in love with someone are there.  When I read it I remembered what it was like to fall in love, and what a great gift from God falling in love and finding a spouse is.  One more thing about about Twilight: it becomes a suspenseful thriller toward the end, and it has the perfect cliffhanger ending.  After I finished reading it I couldn’t wait to dive into the next book to see what happens.  And Meyer deserves much thanks for giving us not just a sequel to Twilight, but three more installments of the Twilight saga after Twilight!  Is Twilight “the best book ever,” as it was voted on the website Goodreads by readers?  I won’t say it’s the best book ever, but I do place it at least in the top ten in the best books I’ve ever read.

Rating: 5 (out of 5 stars)

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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Review: Joyland

Hmmm, what can I say about the latest installment in Stephen King’s extraordinarily impressive (and, make no mistake, it is very impressive) oeuvre?  Well, how about that it’s a ton of fun, especially to read during the summer?  That’s not only a good start, it’s a good way to sum it up.  As for the specifics, it’s about a young man, age 21, named Devon Jones, a college student attending school in New Hampshire who decides to go work at an amusement park by the beach in North Carolina for the summer before his senior year, and the mystery he finds there.

 

Don’t worry, I mean not to give away too much of this book (I’m always conscious of that when writing reviews).  Suffice it to say that there has been a murder at this particular amusement park, and the murder is unsolved.  From there–you guessed it–it turns into a whodunnit, but not just any whodunnit.  As with all of King’s best work, it’s replete with characters you want to get to know and know more about, as well as a highly entertaining story.  Let’s face it, King is an American treasure when it comes to storytelling- he’s a great storyteller, plain and simple.  In fact, I know of no better storyteller out of all the authors who have written and who are writing today.

 

As the plot of the book thickened, I delighted in wondering who committed the murder.  Another great thing about this book is that it’s only around 300 pages long, which was a nice break for me, since I read a lot of 900-plus-page novels.  Oh, I almost forgot: it’s a love story, too.  And Stephen King is great at writing love stories.  Just look at the love relationships in Bag of Bones or 11/22/63 to see what I mean; love in the stories he writes is powerful, elating, and exuberant! One more thing about the book: as with many or most of King’s work, there is a supernatural element in it.  Enough said.  Go out there and buy this one (it’s available in paperback only, as per Stephen’s request- it’s not available in ebook format) and enjoy.  There is no better summer read, and very few up there with it!

Rating (out of five stars): 5
 
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Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Book Review: Quicksilver, by Neal Stephenson

Okay.  Let’s not be too hasty now.  After all, this novel weighs in at over 900 pages.  That said, it’s still a delight.  Taking place in Europe–mostly London, Amsterdam, and Paris–and in colonial Boston, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, it’s full of characters, and I do mean full.  If there aren’t hundreds of characters in the book, the number is close to that.  What’s fun about this is that some of the characters are actual famous personages from the time period, such as Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke, and Liebniz.  All three of these people did form the real organization called the Royal Society of London, whose doings are a central focus of the book.

 

The Royal Society was composed of “natural philosophers,” scientists looking to explain the world by observing it and by geometry and calculus.  Among this crowd is the fictitious character Daniel Waterhouse, by origin a Quaker, whose father, Drake, was considered a radical in his day for his anti-establishment, i.e. anti-monarchist, ideas.  Other main characters are the vagabond Jack Shaftoe and Eliza, a stunningly beautiful woman he rescues during a rebellion involving the Turks.  The section of the book involving these two meeting and their subsequent travels together is picaresque: these two are out to make money by selling the plumes of an ostrich that was running around where Jack discovered Eliza, and their travels together are an adventure.

 

I had a lot of fun reading this book and look forward to reading the other two installments in the trilogy (each is also over 900 pages long).  Mostly the fun lies in reading about Stephenson’s imaginings of what life was like during that time in Europe and Boston.  There are so many characters that I often had to ask myself, ‘Now who is this character again?’  But that wasn’t a drawback.  Stephenson draws you into the story very well with his prose, and there is a lot of humor in the tale.  And it’s exciting to see the advances that Newton, Liebniz, Hooke, and the other natural philosophers make in society.
 
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Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Interview With One of My Favorite Authors, Neal Stephenson

If you like science fiction, mysteries, adventure novels, and thrillers, check out one of my favorite authors, Neal Stephenson.  Although his latest, REAMDE (a transposition of “read me”) takes place in today’s world, his previous novel, Anathem, is one of the best works of science fiction.  His earlier Baroque Cycle trilogy, which I haven’t read yet but has a very good chance of making my to-read list, is also highly regarded, being heralded as hard-to-resist literature by the likes of Stephen King.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Aside

Check out my accompanying blog to The Pen and the Paintbrush on Tumblr at thepenandthepaintbrush.tumblr.com.  There you will find shorter posts such as interesting photos, quotes, blurbs, and thoughts on literature and book art.

Check out my ac…

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Read Something Good This Summer

Hi everyone:

Here’s what I’ve read this summer, and what I’m reading right now:  A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin.  11/22/63 by Stephen King.  Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (I have read those three).  The Great Gatsby (I am reading this now).

Happy Reading!

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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New Posts

Hi folks,
I’m writing this post to let you know that from now until the middle of December my new posts will be few and far between, if I post at all, as I am working on my masters in elementary education with k-8 teaching licensure during this time. Thank you for being patient with me, and I will resume weekly, new posts again in December.

Until then, happy reading (I’m so looking forward to Christopher Paolini’s new book- the fourth in his Inheritance series- and Stephen King’s new book, both coming out next month)!

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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