Book Review – Life and Death by Stephanie Meyers

Title: Life and Death

Author: Stephanie Meyers

Format: Hardback

Published: 2015

 

There comes a point in every reader’s life where they finish a book and they are not sure what to say. In most cases this is the sign of a good book. Unfortunately, this is not the case for me, and hopefully this won’t be the case for anyone else that would think to read this. I have honestly spent an entire day trying to figure out how to even begin to describe this book and what I read. It’s not a matter that it was so unremarkable that there are no words to speak.  When it comes to this book, there is just that much wrong with it.

Now, before I get far along on in the review that may turn rain train, I want to make some things very clear to anyone person who loves Twilight the series or may find joy in this particular book. I am not ripping into this book because I am just ‘that jealous of Stephanie Meyers’ or because I ‘just hate the fandom’.   I don’t even come to you as a person who has only read this one book or only watched the movies.  I have read all the main Twilight books, and did so not as a person wishing to mock the books but a curious individual who wanted something to read aside from text books while in school.

Next, I will admit that I read the first books while still in college. I read most of them them in that mind numbing state of over caffeinated and dead asleep. It was easy reading and a decent story. (I will admit while I will tear this book to shreds – the bones of the story have something to them – the execution is the problem.) I was not as mindful of sentence structure at the time, and actually ‘liked’ the books before Breaking Dawn. I could probably spend a good portion of this blog ripping apart Breaking Dawn based on memories from several years ago, but I won’t.  Yet, it was in reading Breaking Dawn that I realized what crap the books were. (It was summer I had actually slept by the time I read the final book.)

So, considering my history with the books – going from liking them to hating them, it can be without question that I was a little curious about the story being gender swapped. I love little au (alternate universe) and twists of the like, so my interest was piqued.  Thus it was determined by a few of my friends, (some of them fellow bloggers on this site) that I needed to ‘take one for the team’ and read “Life and Death”, (which I did read in its entirety).  There were times I wanted to cry because I had to read it, but eventually the book became a comedy (Dimples!) before it returned itself to nightmare status.

I now ask that you hold onto your dimples, because this journey might take a while as I take you on my trek through the monster of a book (which it was a physical monster, being two novels in one in hard back – my arms cried for mercy!).

When I started reading, I was doing some comparison between the new story and the old, flipping between the two, and I tried to be optimistic. What was said in one page by Bella took one and a half for Beau to say. Stephanie Meyers was being more descriptive. Not a lot more, she wasn’t going for a hi–def picture, but there was a bit more substance. I remember sharing this with a friend going ‘maybe Stephanie had grown as a writer’. ‘It has been 10 years, maybe this book won’t be so bad.’ These were the words of my doom.

I tried to continue read along and not compare old with new and simply read the story, but as I read I would be forced to stop. I didn’t stop because I needed to compare old with new (though I did) but because the words were not making sense.   I wish I could share with you some of the early sentences that threw me for a loop.   I literally had to stop and go, ‘Was that even a sentence?’ At one point I poked my editor and asked her for her take on the sentence.  She confirmed that it was a sentence (barely), but it was very poorly written. We then went back and forth coming up coming up with new and better ways to write the same sentence. Want to know the kicker? We didn’t add or subtract words; we literally just rearranged the words so that they flowed better and made a lot more sense.

It was after that horrid sentence that I discovered my first continuity error, I had to re-read things to be sure I didn’t mistake something.  However, writing was just that bad. It wasn’t me; I didn’t miss something along the way. Literally the character talks about their overall day and how they were bad in their last class of the day, gym class. Then the character backs up to talk about how lunch that day went and spends a whole page plus some this.   Once done talking about lunch, we are back in the afore mentioned gym class again, with a remark on how embarrassing it was.  This wasn’t like a new day/new class or a second instance of the class in the same day, it was the same class on the same day! It did not fit and flow! You have NO idea how much I wanted to take those few pages rearrange and rewrite them where it flowed and worked better!   Alas I plowed on till I couldn’t take it.

Loathing the book, I concluded to read when I was sleep deprived. I powered through a few chapters because I was too tired to notice if a sentence was actually a sentence, and this worked for me till the book was due back at the library and I either had to power through it in two days or give up, because honestly I didn’t see myself checking the book back out, particularly when there is a wait list. (Yes, terrifying I know.) So I took a deep breath and plunged in and found myself in a sea of dimples.

Almost every smile Edythe (yes, we’ll get to her name in a bit) gave there were dimples. It was rare the word smile was actually used in regards to Edythe. She had dimples. She flashed her dimples, she was seen dimpling. These references were subtle at first, till I reached the following quote:

“She leaned against the frame, and threw her dimples at them.”

It was by this point I had lost it.  In my mind I saw a woman literally taking the dimples off of her face and pelting the poor guys she was talking to with them. It took me several minutes to get over the humor of this and the scene was not supposed to be funny. (Honestly, I shared this line with everyone who would listen and most of them were fellow writers. ) Everyone I have spoken to about this line has paused at it.   From that point forward, every time I saw the word dimples, I cracked up. This made the first ‘date’ quite amusing to me as the word dimples came up a few more times within only a few pages. In the end, I did have to compare the old with the new, and the comparison was something that is not easy to describe.

In booth books the human is trying to explain what sort of effect the vampire has on other humans. In Twilight Edward ‘dazzles’ to the point that he asks ‘Do I ‘dazzle’ you?’ while Edythe merely dimples to the point of causing mini heart attacks. I KID YOU NOT.  Beau had a couple of mini-heart attack episodes in the book.  In short, Edward dazzles while Edythe dimples.

Anyway, the dimples soldier forward to not only be thrown at people, but also be put on display (I imagined a display case with dimples).  Then Beau got a face full of the dimples and then as my favorite, Edythe slowly smiled causing the dimples to appear, and it was the equivalent of the ending display of fireworks on the Fourth of July. Land sakes the dimples are Patriotic, and may have looked something like this:

Anyway, as much as I would love to continue on about the dimples and their hilarity to me, there is still more of the book to cover. (As an aside, I feel bad for the next author I read who uses the word dimples because I will laugh, and it won’t be their fault.)

By this point, I’m only half way through the book and we finally get to the point where the two lovers are separated because of the villainous tracker vampire that wants to drink the human’s blood.  So there was sadly a distinct lack of dimples (sorry I had to) by this point. This is where the story starts to deviate from the original. If you, for some reason don’t want to know the end skip down to the rating which I’ll have clearly marked. In this rendering of the tale, Beau becomes a vampire instead of going to play part in the horror that is known as New Moon (which we won’t get me started on that rant either). This is where the book had potential, I mean real potential. I had a friend once say that she (Bella) should have turned at the end of the first book, that, or died. I rather agreed and there was so much potential, and it was wasted.  ALL OF IT!

The whole transformation process is touted in the books as being pure agony, and the worst pain imaginable.  So the actual process was then referenced as fire, fire burning, simply burning, and every individual cell in the body burning.  Oh there was also pain, lots of pain.  It was during this time that the BIGGEST info dump I have ever seen in my life occurred.  Pages and pages of info dumping, with occasional moments for an ‘I’m sorry this had to happen Beau’ and ‘the flesh – it burns’ (okay, that last quote wasn’t from the book – brownie points if you can tell me what movie that came from though!) Supposedly, while in the worst agony of your life, because you are becoming a vampire, you remember every little detail, making it the perfect time to tell you all you ever needed to know about vampires and vampire life.   We learn about their ways, their rules and what the personal life stories are of people people the character hardly knows, because it was a good time to do it.  Honestly, this was Stephanie Meyer’s way of quickly covering things that came up in later books that weren’t originally covered in the first book.   This was done so that readers can compare what the differences are between the original gender character and the new gender character.  It was ridiculously dull and boring.  A better way to share that information, would have been to just use like an Afterward to go ‘hey these are things I’m sure you are wondering about that never came up in the story you just read….’ No she had to create a boring info dump, despite that fact that there is indeed an after ward for her to say – ‘this was fun and imagine what you will for anything I didn’t really cover!’

That pretty much sums up the end of the book, save for the epilogue which was odd, and I really don’t want to go far into it, beyond the fact that memories of life as a human are not easy for vampires to recall.  Thus, one can be very detached from their human past and yet somehow everyone remembers things from it, like important things such as what led to them being vampires (not just the changing process but like their near death experiences before the change, or life style before the change.  They also all supposedly suffer great pain of losing their left behind loved ones,  but can be impacted by watching their own funeral where said loved ones distraught over loosing them.  Yeah, it is really weird and messed up how the memory thing works. It appears it is only follows the whims of the author when she doesn’t feel like writing the raw emotions but still wants a character molded by said circumstances. *eyeroll*

 

RATINGS AND FINAL NOTES!!!!

 

For those of you who scrolled down to here, welcome back. For those who stuck this long post out with me congrats, we are nearing the end, and you deserve a cookie for reading all of this.   I think it is easy to guess the rating I’d give this book, which would be a 1 out of 5 pages. I know other reviewers have talked about negative ratings and 0 ratings but I’ll give the book a 1 because as I said at the start the bones are there.  The bones of the story are good, the execution however, was just horrific.  Honestly, tighter sentence structure, a good editor who will tell the author no, and no more sparkles,there could be something decent here, but sadly it isn’t decent and this is truly a hot mess, which I must continue to further outline.

If you read the forward, this book was created because of all the nay sayers who said the book was all about a damsel in distress and not about the romance. It was to show that everything would pretty much be the same if gender was reversed.  Which things were the same in a lot of ways.  Still by doing this gender swap I saw of lot things that came to light about gender in the books.  It showed all the more how there are still some massive issues involved.   While I try not to gender type at all, there were points where the actions of the character screamed the opposite gender of what they were.  I’m not saying that one gender can’t act like the other but with given societal norms (unfortunate as some may be) they did not work so well.  But there was a big deal about ‘man code’ not being broken, and the guys waiting for the girls to act instead of things being equal.   Also, it was in reading this book that I realized and noticed the gender typing in the first book. Of the school staff, we meet only 5 people, the secretary, the nurse, and 3 teachers. The secretary and nurse in the original book were female and the rest of the staff was male. Am I the only one that finds this a little bit wrong?

In addition, in the forward, Stephanie Meyer’s states that the one major set of genders she did not change were the parents, because historically speaking when they split in the mid 80’s courts have been more inclined to leave a child with a mom, so a moving dad would not have been deemed suitable for a child while a moving mom is fine. I am not complaining about this because it is a unfortunate truth of our court systems, even today. However, where this does bug me is when history is so important to the author in this case, but it’s not a big deal that Edythe was the name of the vampire who was born in 1901! Edith fine, Edythe NO! Edythe didn’t make name charts till 1949, while Edith existed in 1880. (See behindthename.com). So with this alone I find her history argument rendered invalid.

I’ve gone on for nearly 2500 words and feel I have only dented the surface of problems and issues with this book. Were I more patient person, I would spend more time and do a whole series on issues with this book and tear it apart page by page (line by line in some cases), I would, but I am not.  I was all too glad to send it back to the library, even if I couldn’t mark the book red with edits – which is saying something from me as I know that this blog post alone probably has a plethora of grammatical mistakes in it. (I did not have the time to run through and edit before posting.)

So while I hope and feel most people here would agree with me, that this book is horrid and the author is not that great, anyone who loves Stephanie Meyers please refrain from nitpicking my grammar (which I know is horrid right now) and basal insults. Thanks.

Also because I can, (and coined the phrase long ago) and I still think it is quite true to this day:

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Book Review – Batman War Crimes

Title: Batman War Crimes

Authors: Anderson Gabrych, Devin Grayson, Bill Willingham, Bruce Jones, & Will Pfeifer

Format: Paperback

Published:  2006

 

I will start this review with a warning to readers that my next several reviews are going to be comics and manga as I went on a massive comic manga kick as they are quick and easy to read and I happen to really like them so bear with me during this time and I promise real books will come eventually!  Today I am presenting you with Batman War Crimes.  If you have read a lot of my reviews, you know that I am a big Batman fan particularly when it comes to the Boy Wonder Robin.  My affinity sits chiefly with Tim Drake also known as the Red Robin.  Considering that there isn’t a lot of Red Robin comics and a lot of other stories I have ventured out into other Batman and Robin comics, several of which I have not reviewed, for that I am sorry.

 

Anyway the back of this comic got my attention as this story takes place after the death of Stephanie Brown as Robin.  She was the next person to take on the role of Robin when Tim retired for a while from the cowl.  I had read the story where he retired and I would love to continue reading what happens there and I thought though I’m missing all of Stephanie Brown’s time as Robin this could be interesting this might be a really good comic!  I picked it off the library shelf and was excited to read it but it was nothing compared to the other comics I read.  Tim made an appearance but it wasn’t for long and it wasn’t a very strong or memorable story.

 

The gist of the story here is that Batman is getting blamed for Stephanie’s death and the death of other people as he is being framed for these other deaths as there is another person who is running around in the cowl pretending to be him.  This story follows Batman as he tries to get to the bottom of things and understand how and why Stephanie dies because it shouldn’t have happened.  It is to be honest a very dark time for the Bats as he deals with this and to me it is clear that he is dealing with a lot of guilt about the situation as well and thus becoming obsessed with his work.  To match and reflect the darkness of the story the drawing are very dark and gritty and the lines are very angular.  I’m not as fond of the artistic style found in this story.  There were really a lot of artists, letterers, inkers, and colorists involved with this story,  20 to be exact (this is why they are not listed in the specs about the book).

 

In short, I was not that enthused or gripped by the story like I have been with all other stories I have read of course this wasn’t focused on Robin and that might be the big difference as everything else I have read has a focus on Robin and I expected the same here to have a focus on a Robin.  So I will give this a 2 out of 5 pages as I wouldn’t really recommend this as a story to read or own.  It was what it was and I appreciate it for that but really you are not missing much if you skip this read in the overarching story of Batman and his Robins.  At the very least the plot important things found in this story can be easily picked up in other stories that have a much higher entertainment value than this comic.

Writer Wednesday – Stephanie Osborn

Most people familiar with the con circuit of the southeast have seen Stephanie Osborn and her husband, Darrell (the Chief Mad Scientist at Doctor Osborn’s Magic and Balloons), and those outside of it are probably familiar with her in some way.  As the writer of several dozen books of various types, she’s got her tendrils (hey, she’s a sci-fi writer) in many different areas…

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
I’m Stephanie Osborn, and I write science, science fiction, and science fiction mystery.

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I am a former payload flight controller, a veteran of over twenty years of working in the civilian and military space programs. I worked on numerous Space Shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and trained astronauts too. I’m currently retired from space work and happily “pass it forward,” teaching math and science via numerous media, and working with SIGMA, the science fiction think tank, while writing science fiction mysteries based on my knowledge, experience, and travels. So I really am one of those rocket scientists you hear about.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I’ve written Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281; co-authored several of the Cresperian Saga books; am co-authoring the Point series with Travis S. Taylor; am the author of the critically-acclaimed Displaced Detective series; and Travis and I recently wrote the top-selling science book, A New American Space Plan.

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m working on the 4th Cresperian book, Heritage; the sequel to Burnout, Escape Velocity; books 5-7 of the Displaced Detective series (well, book 7 is actually finished, I’m just polishing it). I have a steampunk book, the first of The Adventures of Aemelia Gearheart, that’s being shopped around. Travis and I are tossing around ideas and trying to get time in our schedules for writing the next Point book. So I’m keeping pretty busy.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
You mean other than Little Golden Books, and things like that? I guess discovering science fiction in mid-elementary school and launching into Bradbury and Asimov and the like. I read my first Sherlock Holmes novel about then too – somebody gave me a copy of Hound of the Baskervilles – but it scared me pretty badly, and actually probably delayed my entry into Holmesiana. I have a very vivid imagination, and have always dreamed in color. That, in a young child, is not always a great combo.

What are your three favorite books?
Ouch. You mean I have to choose? In what genre(s)?

I guess I would have to say the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes, The War of the Worlds, and…Lord of the Rings maybe. That’s closer to a dozen books really, or a couple really honkin’ big ones. And I could still list more.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
Oh, pretty much as many as I feel like. I can swap up books readily enough.

Right now I’m reading a lot of reference materials. Celtic history, a biography and research notes for Nikola Tesla, rereading some Holmes stuff, Victorian – I found an electronic copy of Mrs. Beeton’s on a website, for Kindle no less! Now for those that don’t know, this was a mammoth text that was the Martha Stewart AND Oprah Winfrey combined, of the Victorian era. Plus Emily Post thrown in for good measure. It’s great reference material for someone writing steampunk and Sherlock Holmes!

Oh, and cookbooks. Because I just like ’em.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
…lose track of my own spacetime and subsume into the world in the book.

If I have a cup of hot tea with cream, a snackie-something, and my cat purring in my lap, I’m gone. For a long time. Stomp when you come into the room, it won’t matter. I won’t know you’re there. Just don’t put your hand on my shoulder without yelling in my ear first or you’ll be peeling me off the ceiling fan!

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
If it’s a book I really like, I read it until it’s worn out and then buy another copy. Ebook readers sort of help in that respect now…

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
If it’s a book I like the sound of, I’ll read it as soon as I find time – provided it isn’t in my own genre. I tend to avoid books in my fiction genres because I don’t want to inadvertently pull someone else’s idea into my own work.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
If it’s a book I think is worthy, most definitely I’ll recommend it. I do some free-lance editing in addition to writing, and have encountered several books that I consider noteworthy through that.

What do you look for in a good book?
A good plot (realistic if it’s that sort of fiction, though I do fantasy also), characters that make me forget they’re not real people. Something that sucks me in. It might make me think, it might be light reading. But it has to have enough depth for me to be THERE instead of HERE.

Why do you write?
I don’t know. I think if I could answer this, I’d win some major awards or something, because then I’d know what to do and how to grab my audience and wring every last emotion out of ’em. I just know that it’s something I have to do. I have things to be said and stories to be told. And I have to say ’em, I have to tell ’em.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
Heh, I’ve already been them. I started off as a rocket scientist – for real. I worked for NASA and DoD for a couple decades. (I trained astronauts and worked on crew procedures and timelines, aka schedules.) I’ve also taught at university, tutored, substitute taught. I’m a licensed minister. A NWS-certified storm spotter. I was a reserve police officer. An ACE-certified personal trainer. I’ve been called Renaissance woman and polymath. I guess in some respects, I am.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
That’s another “I don’t know.” Sometimes it just seems to be there. In my Displaced Detective series, I postulate alternate realities (and science recently provided support for the concept of alternate realities!), and speculate that somehow writers like Arthur Conan Doyle unwittingly access these alternate universes when they write – so that what they are doing is not really writing fiction, but setting down the histories of these other spacetimes. It’s as good a theory as any, I suppose.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That there’s a whole lot more crammed into my cranium – more worlds, more people, more concepts, more adventures – than I ever dreamed. And that not only do I have the ability to write an entire book, I can write dozens of books!

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
They’re very proud of me. My husband is a graphic artist and illustrator, and he’s become the go-to guy for most of my book cover art. I’d asked him for a piece of artwork for my first book, to put on my then-new website (www.stephanie-osborn.com), and my publisher liked it and it became the cover for the book, which was Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. The title of the art is, “Matchstick.”

My parents are very proud. I think my Mom got a Kindle just so she could get the works I have out that are ebook-only, frankly! Daddy likes to read the print versions.

My mentor, Travis Taylor, says I’m awesome and he likes my stuff. (I include him here because he’s kind of like a brother I wanted but never had.) I dunno about the awesome part, but I’m glad he likes it.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
Ha! So far I haven’t encountered any! If you can come up with a stereotype, I can probably find it in myself or one of my writer friends!

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The economy. It’s really hard to break into the business when everything is changing – print, ebooks, both, what formats – and when people have less disposable income than they did only a few years ago.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Oh, a few technical things here and there. I cringe at some of those when I read them. Most people probably don’t recognize them, but I do, having learned from Travis. Eventually I’ll have to go back and tidy up the earlier works and issue new editions, I think.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
I have two film projects that are stalled at the funding stage, what with the current economy. We have people lined up to direct, act, do SFX, all that sort of stuff. We just need “angels.” I’m excited about them, and want to get them off the ground and rolling. One is a short – we want to enter it into some film festivals, and maybe use it as the pilot for an anthology series. We only need $7000 – but people either want to do big stuff, or not at all. The other one is a feature film version of Burnout, and that is more like $50 million. A bit bigger. If anybody is interested in being the producer for the short, contact me. My email is steph-osborn@sff.net.

How do you deal with your fan base?
Oh, I think my fans are cool! For all that I’ve been doing this for a few years now, it still surprises me to find I have a hardcore fan base. I love it!

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
Well, I’m actually a very shy and sensitive person. Everybody thinks I’m really outgoing and an extrovert, but when I take the psych tests, I’m borderline extrovert/introvert. I get stage fright.

But years ago I sort of developed a character – like acting – that was a facet of my personality, that I used when I had to talk in public, to help me through the stage fright. Over time that character just developed more and more until I was comfortable with it, and now it really is me. It’s just like, I flip a switch and go from this homebody sitting at her computer to this vivacious, outgoing person at a convention. I still get stage fright, but I’ve learned to channel the adrenaline in more productive ways, like being energetic and upbeat, and thinking fast on my feet.

But I pay for it after. It’s not uncommon for me to come home from a convention and sleep for the better part of a day because the effort to be “on” for an entire weekend has worn me out. So if you come up to me and I look tired, I really am. If I seem absent-minded or slightly frazzled, I am.

Anything else we should know?
Um, let’s see. My first children’s book, StarSong, is out, through Chromosphere Press, and it’s available in paperback and ebook. I’ve gotten my second EPIC Award Finalist designation, the first one having been for book 2 of the Cresperian Saga, The Y Factor in 2010; my second is for the short story, The Fetish. (It’s set in the Burnout universe.) A New American Space Plan is doing really really well in sales! Book 4 of the Displaced Detective series, Endings and Beginnings, is being released this next week in print.
And I’m still going!

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