Tag Archives: Twilight

Book Review: “Celtic Moon”

Rounding out our “New” theme for January reading, we tackled a book I found in the “New Sci-Fi” section of the book store – Celtic Moon by Jan DeLima. Not only is the book “new” (with an October 2013 publication date), it is DeLima’s first publication, making her a “new author,” and is also the first in a projected series (no other publications so far), the Celtic Wolves series.

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Okay, I’ve got a mixed review going on here. This book had a lot of really good things going for it… but it also had a lot of things that made me roll my eyes in frustration and exasperation.

Celtic Moon is a story about a woman in her 30s (yay! No teenage angst!) who’s 15 year old son is experiencing…. supernatural… problems (okay, minimal teenage angst). Sophie has spent the last 15 years in hiding from her husband, the father of his baby, after a shocking experience watching him change into a wolf! Desperate to keep her child away from that world, a pregnant Sophie leaves, but when her son Joshua starts showing some family traits, Sophie makes the hard decision to return to Dylan, her husband. On his territory, Dylan is the alpha wolf and leader of an ancient group of wolves. Sophie’s reappearance causes Dylan to experience everything from overwhelming joy to deadly fear, as his tribe is on the brink of a long-anticipated war with other ancient shape shifters.

Are you following?

Okay. Good points first. Celtic Moon was a very exciting book. There is non-stop action that would appeal to audiences of all ages and sexes. I could absolutely see a teenage girl, her grandmother, and her preteen brother, enjoying the action in this book. There’s a little bit of something for everyone – enough “teenage problems” for the teenagers, enough fantasy for the fantasy fans, and a good chunk of romance thrown in. DeLima has a wonderful voice, and her characters truly speak for themselves. Each character is well developed, and you feel like you know these people instantly, despite learning their internal struggles throughout the book. They continue to grow as the story develops, making you sympathize with their actions, and want to know more about them. DeLima has a wonderful way with setting the scene – I really felt like I could see and hear everything the characters were seeing and hearing. She also had a lot of history and Celtic mythology in her novel, which was exceptionally interesting! In short, this book was fun, exciting, and descriptive.

Now the bad points. Maybe I should have done my research before hand, but I was NOT expecting all the SEX. I had assumed (by the cover… yes, literally “judging a book by its cover” over here) that it was bordering on Young Adult¬†classification, but if this is young adult, my kids are reading children’s books until they are 20. Yes, yes – I said this book could be enjoyed by audiences of all ages – but I meant the action sequences… not the action sequences. There was a surprisingly heavy romance story, and it was fueled by a lot of sex scenes which were more graphic than that trashy romance novel I read in December (‘Twas the Night After Christmas). I’m no prude, I enjoy a good sex scene… but they were kind of out of place in this novel. Perhaps I desperately wanted it to be a fun action story rather than a sappy romance, and maybe my anticipation for a good fantasy got in the way, but the sex scenes just kind of… irked me. I feel like DeLima is limiting readership by throwing that in. This was a book I would have gladly passed on to my teenage cousins, and instead I feel a little ashamed for recommending it to my mother.

Sex scenes aside, there were a few minor things that got under my skin while reading this book. Joshua, the transforming teenager, seems to accept his fate without question or surprise. As if a 15 year old who realizes they are shockingly different than their peers would just accept it as totally normal… let alone them having to accept they are a WOLF. I also had a hard time separating this book from the dreaded Twilight in my head. While this book was MUCH better written, and the characters were MUCH less abusive, I couldn’t help but see the parallels between the loves stories (they are truly star crossed lovers, and the fact that she now will age just as slowly as him seems a little… sappy), and the underlying plot (a sect of evil shapeshifters are out to stop the rebels… hello, Volturi vs. Cullens). It just felt a little unoriginal at points, and almost like it was sapping off the glory that was Twilight. That being said, this book was MUCH better than Twilight and deserves the cult following much more than that series.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’d give this book a solid 3. The flaws I saw in it were minor, and were really based off of my personal preferences. Anyone who is a fan of the contemporary fantasy genre will LOVE this book. I will most certainly be picking up the second book in the series when it is published, and that alone speaks of its success.

How about you? Have you read Celtic Moon? If you have, what did you think? If you haven’t, are you interested in picking it up?

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Book Review: “Guilty Pleasures”

This week we finished up our 9th book on our reading challenge, and the last of our Halloween themed reading for October.

By the way, Happy Halloween (belated) my friends! This week has been a busy one for my family! My mom and two younger sisters came into town, suffering 12 hour drives (my mom from NY, my sisters from FL) to be with us for our favorite holiday. Our family is very Irish (only a few generations removed), and Halloween is very much part of our Druid blood! We haven’t missed a year dressing up in my 26 Halloweens! This year, my girls set the pace, choosing “Star Wars” as our theme! Check out our costumes

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Left to right we have: Mom as C3PO, Tanya at Obi Wan Kenobi, Scarlett (4) as Princess Leia, Me (Regina) as Han Solo, Karina as Darth Vader, and Annabelle (3) as Luke Skywalker. I swear this was all their idea! We’re so proud of our little nerdlings.

ANYWAY….

This weeks’ reading was Laurell K. Hamilton’s vampire “chick lit” (books for women), Guilty Pleasures. The novel follows vampire slayer Anita Blake, known to the St. Louis vampire community as The Executioner. Anita lives in a modern world (well, the 90s, when everyone still carried pagers), where vampires and all sorts of supernatural beings are part of mainstream society, protected by American law and a functioning part of the country. Anita refuses to accept that these beings are anything but evil, and seeks to destroy the vampire undercurrent in the city.

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I have mixed feelings about Hamilton’s book. I’m having a hard time writing this review, because this book was loaned to me by a very well-meaning (and well-read) friend, Katrina, who has read the entire Anita Blake series (apparently there’s dozens of these books), and I feel like if I insult is book, I’m insulting my friend. Let me say, before I start, that on the whole, I enjoyed the book, and am glad I borrowed it. I’d probably give the second in the series a chance as a way to convince me to become a fan of Hamilton’s series. I appreciated Hamilton’s imagination – there was non-stop action, and Hamilton introduces different supernatural beings I would never have considered to be part of mainstream society… besides vampires, there are were-animals (wolves and rats, to name the ones in this book), ghouls, zombies… and Anita herself is a trained “animator,” able to raise the deceased using a sort of voodoo magic. I have to praise Hamilton’s ability to suck you into the story, and Anita is a very strong female character who takes no BS and isn’t sucked into romance (a nice break from the Twilights and Sookie Stackhouses of the “vampire, fantasy chick lit” genre).

I did have a few issues with the book, if I’m being honest. The first actually relates to the “strong female character” that is Anita Blake. She’s almost too strong, in a kind of “get off your high horse” way. I found her really tough to relate to. Her internal monologue got a little old as well (she uses and re-uses a lot of cliche sayings, and I found myself rolling my eyes at the overuse of the same expressions throughout the book). I also had an issue with the amount of action. Stories generally have an ebb and flow – particularly stories that are “high action” – to give the reader (and the characters) a chance to catch their breath and process what just happened. There was really no break in Guilty Pleasures. The action was continuous, and I felt like it was a little disjointed. I found myself reading and having to stop, turn the pages back, and try to figure out what the heck was happening. It was all kind of muddled together, and there was no defined lines between “action scenes.” I felt the beginning half of the book was one big blur of action, and by the second half, Hamilton kind of got her story together, and clarified her writing style. I feel a little guilty judging an author’s writing style because, truth be told, Hamilton is a much better writer, and about 1,000 times more creative, than I could ever hope to be.

That being said, on the whole, I enjoyed Guilty Pleasures. The characters were very well developed – everyone from Anita to the cast of vampires, and even the small supporting characters of Anita’s friends, well all well defined and creative. They all felt like “real people,” that’s for sure. I have a feeling the series gets better along the way, and that Hamilton masters her craft throughout the different books. These books have a HUGE following, and there has to be a reason why. I would recommend this book to a 20-something woman looking for a quick read that she doesn’t have to invest too much brain power or energy into, simply because the pages turn quickly, the language is simple, and the story is creative enough to get you sucked in, but not leave you exhausted after reading it (think the opposite of the time consuming and exhausting Game of Thrones).

How about you? Did you read along? Have you read this book before? What are you thoughts? Am I being too harsh on Anita Blake, and Hamilton in general? Share what you felt about this book – maybe I missed something!

 

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