Eternal Eden by Nicole Williams

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Title: Eternal Eden
Series: Eden Trilogy (Book #1)
Author: Nicole Williams
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 2011
Format Read: Kindle
Pages: 402
Rating: 4feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

College sophomore Bryn Dawson is a self-proclaimed poster child for normal. However, the day William Hayward enters her life, normalcy is the last thing Bryn will be able to count on if she wants to be with him. Too mysterious and appealing to be good for a girl, Bryn feels drawn to him in a way that seems out of her control—as if fate is orchestrating it.

Despite every red flag and warning siren going off in her head telling her not to, Bryn falls hard for William, knowing he’s categorically different from anyone she’s ever met. She never imagined how right she was. When William takes her deeper into the rabbit hole of his world, Bryn must decide just how much she is willing to sacrifice to be with him, knowing no matter what, fate always finds a way to have the last laugh.

Spinning a new twist on star-crossed lovers, Eternal Eden will put Bryn through a gauntlet of turmoil, challenging her to find the power within herself to become the heroine in her own story.

My Review:

Eternal Eden utilizes the classic story of two lovers destined to be separated despite their best attempts to change fate. A great aspect of this book is how quick it picks up and keeps your attention. The characters were well-written and I generally liked them. Perhaps at times I liked some of the secondary characters, such as Patrick, more than the main character Bryn. Bryn’s low self-esteem throughout most of the book got old quick when man after man threw himself at her. Towards the end, when she finally gained confidence, I felt more connected to her as a reader when she finally gained her own personality. Nicole Williams was very successful in creating a mysterious cloud around William in which the reader, following along with Bryn, is intrigued and wants to know more about him, his world, and his past. The villains were great. John and Stella were fantastically evil people. Stella’s character, while but a small part in this story, reveals an example of how Williams is able to create well-rounded characters with a wide range of realistic emotions within a few paragraphs.

There were many original elements in this book. Some reviewers have suggested that this book is similar to Twilight. I completely disagree. The story of ill-matched lovers being pulled apart (or people attempting to do so) was not a new intervention by Stephenie Meyer, nor will it be the last time it is used. Councils of elders in fantasy books are also common. Thus, this book cannot be compared to Twilight based on narrative ideas that are similar in many romance or fantasy books.

Eternal Eden can hold its own weight in the world of fantasy fiction. The realm of Immortals is complex and intriguing and I have many lingering questions about the Alliances that I hope will be explored in the next book as Bryn and William have now transitioned from the world of Inheritors to that of the Guardians. Not only was the author successful in keeping my attention, but the book left off on a cliffhanger and thus I feel obliged to continue through the series. This book was a fast read- more so because I didn’t want to put the book down- with a few chuckles and tears (yes, I admit the scene towards the end in the dungeon where Bryn was quite literally being executed had pretty intense imagery). This is a recommended fantasy romance novel.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

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Title: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
Series: The Twilight Saga (Book #5)
Author:  Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 2009
Format Read: Hardcover
Pages: 178
Rating: 3feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily powerful senses, superhuman reflexes, and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirt for blood…life before she became a vampire.

All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don’t draw attention to yourself, and above all, make it home by sunrise or die. What she doesn’t know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out.

Then Bree finds an unexpected friend in Diego, a newborn just as curious as Bree about their mysterious creator, whom they only know as her. As they come to realize that the newborns are pawns in a game larger than anything they could have imagined, Bree and Diego must choose sides and decide whom to trust. But when everything you know about vampires is based on a lie, how do you find the truth?

My Review:

This book is a short novella which gives more detail into the life of Bree Tanner. Bree appeared in the book Eclipse briefly towards the end. She was a young girl and a newborn vampire who got caught up in Victoria’s war against the Cullen Clan. During the battle, Bree surrendered to the Cullen’s who had hoped to bring her into the family. Unfortunately, the Volturi denied their wishes and the girl was executed. Not only did Bree have a very short life of fifteen years, but she had an even shorter second life as a vampire of only a few months. This novella gives insight into how Victoria and Riley created and trained the ultimately ill-fated army.

Although this book is included in the Twilight Saga, this novella is merely a side note,of a much larger story. I would recommend it for clarification on some events in Eclipse. However, it is certainly the weakest book in the series. While I have nothing against fan fiction- but acknowledge some of the arguments against it as valid- a reviewer on Goodreads equated The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner to bad fan fiction, which she says is “the literary equivalent of public nose picking.” While I do think her statement is harsh, I agree that this book does read like a piece of fan fiction and, although entertaining, may not actually add significance to the overall narrative that is the Twilight Saga.

Read more Twilight Saga reviews by the Audacious Feather:

Twilight
New Moon
Eclipse
Breaking Dawn
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

 

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

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Title: Breaking Dawn
Series: The Twilight Saga (Book #4)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 2008
Format Read: Hardcover
Pages: 756
Rating: 4feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?

To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife have led her to the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs.

Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating, and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella’s life-first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse-seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed… forever?

My Review (February 10, 2012):

The fourth installment of the Twilight Saga took a drastic turn. Bella gets a rude awakening and is forced to grow up! This book is gripping, just like all the others. I could not put it down. I don’t think I’ve ever read 750+ pages so fast. Meyer is able to tell a multi-layered story quite well. In this tale between vampire and werewolf alliances change frequently in a world of fantasy hidden in plain sight. Beneath the surface these characters have very real emotions. Very real pain.  Love, longing and lust, loss, and heartbreak. Also, very unhealthy feelings of possession and dominance.

I found myself intrigued with Leah Clearwater in this book more so than in the others, perhaps because more time was given to her situation. A broken woman forced to stay within sight of her heart breaker.  She wants to leave, but it is her destiny to be a part of this pack. Free will versus destiny is a huge theme in this series. It seems the werewolves are confronted more with a pull towards their destiny, while the vampires (and Bella) are pulled towards embracing free will.

For example:

Werewolves:  Several family lines of the Quileute tribe are genetically coded to transform into werewolves when a vampire threat is within their geographic territory. They cannot stop this transformation. Due to their ancestral pact, any vampire killing of humans requires violent retribution. Jacob has a very hard time with Bella’s desire for Edward. It is his blood to stop Edward from transforming her into a vampire. Also, the action of imprinting. That is destiny, not will. Because Jacob imprinted on Renesmee the entire wolf pack had to stand down and protect her. Again, not free will. They believed this to be part of their wolf pack decree and not changeable.

Vampires/Bella: Vampires are not born, they are created. Although, it may not have been their choice to turn, indeed it is their choice on how to live. The Cullen’s prided themselves on their controlled behavior. They hunted animals, not humans. They tried to live within society without exploiting humans. Contrast their behavior with that of the Volturi. Edward suffers throughout this entire saga because he is torn between taking Bella’s human life by making her a vampire (what he perceived to be monstrous) and saving her human life against her wishes with the consequence of having to watch her die in old age. Bella also had this free will decision to become a vampire.

There are definitely many philosophical discussions that can arise from this story. I think one of the biggest of those is when does love become obsession?

You could run from someone you feared, you could try to fight someone you hated. All my reactions were geared toward those kinds of killers – the monsters, the enemies. When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give your beloved, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved? (Preface, pg 1)

Breaking Dawn is very original and a great ending to the series. A plethora of interesting characters were introduced in this book that could very well become subject matter for a Twilight spin-off series. If you can get past the pop culture hoopla this series ignited to enjoy the story these books contain, I don’t think most fantasy lovers would be disappointed.

Read more Twilight Saga reviews by the Audacious Feather:

Twilight
New Moon
Eclipse
Breaking Dawn
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

 

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

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Title: Eclipse
Series: The Twilight Saga (Book # 3)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 2007
Format Read: Softcover
Pages: 629
Rating: 4feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings, Victoria continues her quest for revenge, and Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob-–knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite a war between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

My Review (October 5, 2009):

Again, Stephenie Meyer captures the agony of love, but this time much different from New Moon. Bella realizes she is in love with two men at the same time and must make that painful choice. She ultimately gains due to her chosen relationship, but still loses by knowing the anguish she has caused the other. I can usually really relate to Bella, but not so much in this book. I cannot relate to her reluctance to marry the one you love and the bulk of the story dealt with having to choose between two loves (that is not anything I’ve ever had to deal with). Bella becomes aware in this book of the pain she causes people. She also becomes aware of her abilities to choose the life of one over another.

The eternal enemies, vampires and werewolves, make a pact to protect their town and Bella, who is caught between the two worlds. The story is just as exciting as the other books, and maybe more so because there is more action and bloodspill. I’m not sure if this book was better than the rest, but since I’ve now read three novels and witnessed the characters grow, I feel connected to them more than ever. Admittedly, Bella is at times also annoyingly whiny in this book just as she was in New Moon. Despite Bella not always being the most likeable character, it doesn’t take away from the story as a whole. The Twilight Saga is far bigger than just one character.

This book is lengthy at 600 pages, but the author keeps your attention with external action along with internal struggles. I find once I start one of these books I cannot pace myself, I must continue. I need to know what happens next- which is clearly the sign that an author has successfully written a good book.

Read more Twilight Saga reviews by the Audacious Feather:

Twilight
New Moon
Eclipse
Breaking Dawn
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

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Title: New Moon
Series: The Twilight Saga (Book # 2)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 2006
Format Read: Softcover
Pages: 565
Rating: 4feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is even more dangerous than Bella ever could have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of one evil vampire, but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realize their troubles may be just beginning…

My Review (August 23, 2009):

This book was just as good as the first, in one sitting I read close to 300 pages, I couldn’t put it down. In this book Bella has definitely matured, but in a painful way. The author effectively shows the true pain of love and loss, and at times it’s almost despairing to read the agony of several characters- who are all connected somehow.  Edward is disgusted with himself the way he constantly puts Bella in danger, so he leaves to protect her. Only to Bella, not having Edward in her life, and the shock of the out-of-the-blue rejection, is far worse to her than death. The majority of the book is the story of Bella trying to piece her life back together, but she feels empty, like Edward stole her heart. Bella’s character does get rather whiny and annoying at points throughout this book as she wallows in self pity.

However, add a few werewolves into the story, a dangerous vampire coven, and you end up with Bella rushing against the clock to rescue the love of her life- the same one who utterly destroyed her in his absence. The later half of the book really makes up for any annoyances with Bella. It becomes an exciting story that brings in much more complexity into the narrative than the first book in this series

Read more Twilight Saga reviews by the Audacious Feather:

Twilight
New Moon
Eclipse
Breaking Dawn
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

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Title: Twilight
Series: The Twilight Saga (Book #1)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 2005
Format Read: Softcover
Pages: 498
Rating:4feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

When Bella’s mother remarries she grudgingly decides to go live with her father in the sunless, perpetually rainy city of Forks, Washington. It’s the middle of the semester at a new school and the most she can hope for is to blend in. Then she sees the mysterious Edward Cullen. He’s handsome, intriguing and he happens to be a vampire. Despite the risk to her life, Bella and Eward are drawn together and their relationship quickly heats up. His family invites Bella into their lives, but when a clan of nomadic vampires takes an interest in Bella, the consequences could be deadly.

My Review (August 11, 2009):

I will admit I tried to resist this one. Maybe Robert Pattinson’s gaggle screaming teenage girls turned me off. I’m not a teenage nor do I care “who’s hot” at the moment in the  pop culture scene. However, I’m intrigued by Vampires. I have a fairly good sized Vampire book collection in my library. My love for vampire books goes back a good while.  I started to read and collect Anne Rice books when I was thirteen. I heard Twilight was a good series, so I watched the movie. I loved it. I’ve now read the first installment of The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, of which there are five total books. This book was a quick read that I couldn’t put down.

I could relate to the main character Bella, who seemed to to always be a bit awkward in her surroundings. I moved around a lot as a child, I could understand the discomfort for Bella as a teenage girl moving far away and having to make a new start. Twilight is about Bella Swan adapting to life in a new town, and the unexpected attention she brings. She meets Edward Cullen, a vampire over one hundred years old who tries to fit into society along with his coven- which is disguised as a family with foster children. Bella and Edward are completely wrong for each other, and shouldn’t be together, but fall in love anyway.

In one of the most memorable lines of the book:

About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him-and I didn’t know how potent that part might be-that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocable in love with him (pg 195).

The Twilight Saga is great Young Adult fantasy fiction. Perhaps not a literary masterpiece, but the story is original and riveting. It keeps the readers attention. The characters are well imagined and realistic- even in their extreme range of emotions. Do not let the annoyance of 13-year old screaming girls (and quite bizarrely, 50 year old mothers) shouting “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” dissuade you from reading these books like it did me for several years. The cultural phenomenon of these books has in some ways taken on a life of its own. The Hollywood produced movies have taken the spotlight away from the books themselves. I completely understand having an natural aversion to what pop culture says to be “hot,” but I am not ashamed to say I gave Twilight a chance and loved it.

Read more Twilight Saga reviews by the Audacious Feather:

Twilight
New Moon
Eclipse
Breaking Dawn
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Darlin’ Druid by Lyn Horner

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Title: Darlin’ Druid
Series: Texas Druids
Author: Lyn Horner
Genre: Historical Romance, Fantasy
Release Date: 2010
Format Read: Kindle
Pages: 320
Rating:

3feathers

“Back of Book” Summary:

Set in the American West of 1872, Darlin’ Druid is a tale of epic adventure, stormy romance and family strife, sparked by flashes of Druid magic. Jessie Devlin, a daughter of Irish immigrants and a survivor of the Great Chicago Fire, is descended from the “Old Ones,” her mother’s name for their ancient Druid ancestors. Gifted with second sight, Jessie suffers nightmares in which an unknown man saves her from burning to death. A prophetic vision convinces her the man truly exists and to find him she must look west. But will her quest lead her to love or into a deadly trap?

Captain David Taylor is a Texan who sided with the North in the Civil War, earning his father’s abiding wrath. Now serving on the frontier, David longs for home and a family of his own. After a trip east, he encounters Jessie in the Omaha train depot. He’s entranced by her beauty but has no taste for her firecracker temper. She brings to mind a ghost from his past who he’d rather forget. As the two journey westward, their clashing personalities war with fiery passion that threatens to overwhelm common sense. Violence dogs them along the rails and explodes amid the unexpected beauty of Mormon Utah and in an isolated mountain mining camp. Whether love will win the day or be lost forever is a question that hangs in the balance until the terrifying conclusion on the broad Texas plains.

My Review:

I don’t generally read romance novels, but I occasionally read paranormal romances. I guess somehow supernatural powers in a storyline makes it seem less cheesy. It’s like a Lifetime movie, but with mysticism. Or in the case of Lyn Horner’s Darlin’ Druid, Druids. This book takes place (mostly) in Utah and Texas in 1872. Jessie Devlin, the daughter of Irish immigrants, has Druid blood that gives her the gift of foresight. In her visions she saw both a man she would fall in love with and a devil trying to destroy her. Jessie follows her brother Tye west as her vision told her to do and meets Captain David Taylor, the man of her dreams, except they don’t exactly get along very well for much of the book. Jessie eventually does run into her devil who charms her for a short while but quickly turns on her and attempts to kill her and David Taylor. Long story short, this is a typical girl meets guy and guy is anything but sweet and romantic, but eventually guy’s heart melts after he almost loses girl and girl realizes that she cannot resist guy kind of over-used, but still keeps you wanting to finish the book, sort of storyline. It was a good story with elements of a Western tale that I find fascinating. There are several more books in this series, but at this point I think I’ve had my fill and probably won’t be interested in reading them for quite a while. However, I would recommend this to those looking for a just post-Civil War era Western-themed paranormal romance.