Friday, May 30, 2008

June's books

We're going to do 2 books for the month of June. Like last time, you can read one, both or none (but if you read none then you are a slacker ;)

The books are:
Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli
Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Even if you have read them before, you are welcome to read them again. Or if you don't want to read them again, you are welcome to add your thoughts to the posts once other people finish the books - that way you can be a part of the discussions that take place.

Star Girl is a very light-hearted read (not to mention a small book). The Screwtape Letters are Christian satire, and are not hard reading - but do provoke lots of interesting thoughts. I think we will enjoy both books. Happy reading!

Attention "Twlight" fans

This post is for those of you who are eagerly anticipating the 4th book in the Twilight series (Like ME!!) From the website: below you will find a link that has an exclusive sneak peak of the first chapter of Breaking Dawn. The entire first chapter is available in the Eclipse Special Edition, out tomorrow (May 31), which will also reveal the cover of Breaking Dawn and have Team Edward and Team Jacob iron-on decals.

For the record, I am going to Barnes and Noble tomorrow (which is like a 35 mile drive one way) and I am going to read the entire first chapter of Breaking Dawn while I am there. I am also going to see if I can snag a Team Edward decal!! Yes, I do know that I am obsessed.

Warning though - I read the chapter excerpt and got so excited I nearly fell out of my chair (I'm really not exaggerating!) So read this with caution and enjoy :),,20203238,00.html

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


The month of June is quickly approaching ... which means that we need new ideas for a book (or books) of the month. Anyone have any ideas? Feel free to email them to me or leave them in the comments. If I don't hear from anyone, I will think of something ... but I would love some suggestions (hint, hint). May was a great month for our little book club! Good job everyone!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Views on The Host and Stephenie Meyer

I was originally going to comment on the other posts, but it ended up being too long. So I am creating my own post.

I think one of Stephenie Meyer's strongest writing characteristics is her character development. The characters in her novels become real. We go through the emotional ups and downs of her character and that is why we all become so attached to her books. She said in one of her interviews or blog posts that the Twilight characters were real to her and she would find herself talking to them. She's able to translate that into her writing. I love getting to know her characters.

I really liked The Host because of how it delved into the complexities of the human emotions and bodily cravings. There are very much some celestial undertones in there if you look at it. A soul inhabiting a body that the soul must learn to control! Wanda says several times in the book that she has never experienced a host that had such strong emotions.

Andrea talked about how she understand the love triangle and how Wanda could love Jared the way she did, especially after the way he treated her. I think the point Stephenie was trying to make is how strongly we are influenced by our emotions and our bodies. We have spirits that are independent of our bodies but yet our bodies have these cravings and urges that are overpowering and it takes an immense amount of control to master them. I think Wanda loved Jared the way she did because she felt the love Melanie had for him and he had for Melanie. That kind of "true love" is a powerful connection. One that reaches beyond death. Wanda had never felt that powerful of an emotion before, so of course she loved Jared. I liked that Stephenie created the love triangle because she shows the true complexity of an eternal emotion called love.

I also thought the book was long and a bit tedious in parts, but I really can't complain because I literally took the book to work and read it while I was at work. CRAZY! I thought it was interesting that the title of the book was The Host when in actuality it was not about the host but the invader. I liked how Stephenie took something inherently evil (an alien invader) and made them so good. You fell in love with the souls and yet you grieved for the humans. Would there be a way for them to coexist?

I would have liked to have Melanie more vocal while they were in the caves and seen more of her after Wanda took on her new body. She was too vital of character that I think we missed out on.

Overall I think Stephenie did a great job and I loved it! Definitely a keeper. Even though I was very skeptical about the book at first.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wanda, Mel, and The Host

This is my first post- I've been in this forever, but I haven't had the chance to read any of the books yet until now.

I'm Andrea- Sarah's friend from New York. No, I'm not actually from there- I live in Utah, but I think I still hold the title of Sarah's favorite missionary. I just got married and life is good so onto the book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I l felt like the characters were real, that the alien invasion could have possibly happened. I love how Stephenie makes fantasy seem like reality. That is what made me love the Twilight series. I felt like Edward was really running around out there. I also felt like Wanda was out there running around. And the caves weren't far out- they had a water source and farmed. A little out there, but believable.

I felt like two themes ran through the book: violence and love. I thought Stephenie clearly stated that love could overcome violence- and it did in every instance. She didn't however say that love could overcome a grudge just like with Sharon and Maggie. I didn't think they were developed enough, but I think she was showing that antagonism can develop and last if you allow it to.

I thought the book was freakishly like Eclipse. Why the love triangles? I didn't like how Wanda/Mel laid there with Ian and Jared. How she would kiss one and then the other. I didn't see how Wanda's love for Jared could possibly grow after the way he treated her. I also thought she should've been able to differentiate between her emotions and Mel's. Her attachment to Jamie was understandable- he showed her love right from the beginning. I just didn't buy how much she loved Jared. It dented the Ian/Wanda relationship.

I wasn't happy with how long it was. I understand that gaining trust takes a long time, but she was in that little cave prison forever. Stephenie could have sent the boys on a raid just days after she was there. The story had a little drag in the middle and at the end when Wanda thought she was going to die and was thinking through everything. I admit I skipped over a few parts just to get there.

I also wanted to see Melanie's and Jared's reunion. If she does another book after this, I think it should be from the eyes of Melanie and that way we could see it.

A great and fast read- I would recommend this book to anyone.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Host, The Host

I finally finished The Host last night-What a ride!

I loved it, of course. Don’t shoot me Sarah, but I liked it better than the Twilight Series.
The characters are so real and so amazing. Wanda, Ian, Jeb, and Jamie, who was the only one that really was able to separate Wanda and Mel. He didn’t treat Wanda any different in her new body than when she was in Mel’s body.

This book was all about being human and it made me appreciate what I can experience as a human being on this beautiful planet we call Earth. The feel of the wind on my face, the sense of touch, seeing light and color, the bonds between ourselves and others…After wandering around 9 different planets, Wanda has finally found a place she waits to stay. And she was right when she thought perhaps because of the violence human have, the love they have is stronger than anywhere else: “Perhaps there could be no joy on this planet without an equal weight of pain to balance it out on some unknown scale” As we know, there must be opposition in all things. The only way we can experience real joy is to know pain and sorrow.

And love-being with the group in the cave, Wanda feels love towards those who should be her enemies. Wanda is the most caring, unselfish being…She was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice so that Mel and Jared could be back together. She gave up her secret in order to save other souls, as well as humans. Doc’s words made me cry: "You are the noblest, purest creature I’ve ever met. The universe will be a darker place without you." Oh, to live such a life that that is said of us when we die!

Jeb was one of my favorite characters. He’s so rational and insightful. He’s willing to befriend an alien and the things he does for Wanda moved me. He protected her, guided her in her new life in the cave, he didn’t treat her as an outsider. And he brought humor into a dark situation. That is truly a gift!

And Ian. Ian, Ian, Ian. What can I say…I love him. He had the most amazing ability to look past what Wanda was and see who she was! Again, I think that’s something we should all do in life. We can’t judge others just because they’re different from us… Ian can see things from Wanda’s perspective, where as Jared never could. And the love Wanda and Ian have for each other is amazing-She loves him with her whole soul. I think the kiss they shared said it all: "This was easy and right, no division, no confusion, no objection, just Ian and me, the molten rock moving through this new body, melding it into the pact." Or being in Ian’s arms: "Like I’d been in agony without realizing it and his touch had taken all the hurt away." He loves her, not her body. He loves the beautiful silver soul that he held in the palm of his hand.

Lonnie :-)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Princess Academy review

I finished Princess Academy. I really liked it, as I knew I would. I like how Shannon Hale wrapped things up so nicely (she does this with all of her books). I guess I am a sucker, but I love a happy ending. I do. I love things to work out in a way so that everyone gets what they truly want and everyone lives happily ever after. I’m hopeless … I know.

I like Shannon’s whimsical style of writing. It definitely was not a hard book to read – it was rather enjoyable. It’s nice to get wrapped in a story like this. I loved Miri, as a character. I agree with what Lonnie said (in an earlier post). Everyone feels lonely sometimes – but we all naively think that we are the only ones feeling that way. As Miri finds something she is good at, and something that brings her joy, she grows and becomes more confident. I truly believe that each and every person has been given some sort of a “talent” – and some talents are not quite as obvious. But everyone is given something and it’s up to each person to discover what it is – and use it to share and bless others’ lives. By doing this, we grow and develop into a more radiant person – just like Miri did.

And I loved the idea of quarry-speak. I love that Miri figured out that it works through shared memories. What a neat idea! She used the quarry-speak to save the academy girls from the bandits. She used it to help the girls on their test given by Olana. I love how she even gave the answer to Katar – even though Katar was never nice to her. And in the end, she selflessly told Britta to choose Katar as the ambassador. What a good person!

If you guys liked this book, I definitely recommend Shannon’s other books. She’s got the Bayern Series – Goose Girl, Enna Burning, and River Secrets (read them in that order). She also wrote one called Book of a Thousand Days. Then there’s Austenland – a must read for anyone who loves Pride & Prejudice and/or harbors a secret crush on Mr. Darcy. It’s quite good – and hilarious.

I love Shannon – can’t wait for her next book!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My review for "The Host"

Well, I finished The Host – Stephenie Meyer’s latest book to come out. It’s not a part of the Twilight series – but it is every bit as good. The Twilight books are (supposedly) targeted for young adults – though I know MANY adults who love them – but The Host was her first book targeted to an adult audience. I thought it had a slightly different feel than the Twilight books – but brilliant. I struggled to find the words to express my feelings toward the book. It was just so GOOD.

I posted a couple of the links of other people who have reviewed the book. I agree whole-heartedly with these reviews. One of the reviews says this: “This book has an unique story line that involves a complex love triangle and lets you feel the emotions of the characters like you are apart of the book. It will bring you on a rollercoaster of emotions involving love, betrayal, fear, and loyalty. The Host ends on a note of hope that will make everyone smile.”

Agreed! I felt all the emotions of the characters like I was a part of the book! Stephenie’s writing is very emotional. She spills out words, feelings and detailed descriptions all onto the same page at the same time. She writes in long sentences and gives lots of details – making it easy to see the dessert, the mountains and the caves she so vividly describes. Emotion pours out of the pages and seeps right into you. If you can read this book and not be touched by all the varying emotions, then you might be an alien - one of the “souls” that has invaded earth ;)

One of my favorite things about this book is it made me think about what it means to be human. The premise of the book is that humans have squandered this world in violence and so the “souls” come down to earth and inhabit the humans … and they honestly believe they are doing the humans a favor in taking over … since humans have made such a mess of things. But as Wanda (loved the nickname, by–the-way) soon discovers, humans feel varying emotions – not just violence – and they feel everything strongly.

**Okay, if you haven’t read the book, now would be a good time to stop - spoilers are ahead** Skip to the last paragraph to avoid spoilers. You have been warned.

Wanda says she has never been in any other host bodies that feel emotions so strongly – love being one of those emotions. The love Melanie feels for Jaime brought tears to my eyes and had me scrambling madly for some tissues so I could get rid of the tears that made it hard to see straight. The love that she feels for Jared – a different love – was no less powerful. I guess you could say that love is a theme that runs through the book. Melanie loves Jaime with the love a parent has for a child. She loves Jared romantically – and is put into a frenzy with just a touch. She belongs to him – and he to her. She loves the humans she is staying with in the caves – but more of a camaraderie love, instinctive just because they are all still human. In the end, she tells Wanda that she loves her (again, more tears for me) and that love is the love of a sister. So many forms of love – all because we are human and it’s in our nature to love so compassionately. We’ve been given this gift to love – and it comes so easily to us.

Wanda feels all these feelings of love that Melanie feels – and in the end she reciprocates all those loves to the humans who are around her. She chooses to end her own life so that Mel can have her body back. She shows the ultimate form of love – to give one’s life so selflessly so that others can be happy. She also recognizes her love for Ian – and that after living on 9 different planets, she has finally found someone she loves as a partner – someone she would want to stay and be with. Ultimately, it works out beautifully – with everyone finding happiness and love. I LOVED the ending. The book shares a message of hope – hope for humanity, in the sense that maybe they are not as alone as they think, and in the sense that there is hope that humanity isn’t as violent as was thought by the invading souls.

I certainly hope that Stephenie goes on with her plan to write 2 sequels to this book. It really did touch my heart – all that it means to be human came into such stronger focus for me. We are capable of awful things as humans … and yet we are capable of beautiful things, too. We have a great capacity for love – in all its forms – and great capacity for good in this world. We also have this beautiful planet to live on – with such great vistas and colors to enjoy. We also have our 5 senses – something not many species enjoy like we do. We have been given much.

Okay, I am getting a bit sappy :) This book has a beautiful story to tell – and it has romance, yes, but lots of action and suspense to keep you hooked. I thought my heart might just beat out of my chest in certain parts. The characters that Stephenie has created are striking. I whole-heartedly recommend this book. This book is fantastic.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Host

I finished The Host! Man, it was seriously fantastic. I LOVED it. I am going to write a review ... I am trying to find the right words to express just how awesome I thought it was and how much I enjoyed it. More coming soon! Has anyone else finished it?

And I started to read Princess Academy - and I can already tell that it's going to be good, too. Shannon Hale never disappoints.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Host News and Interviews

This is the last one, I promise!!! It's a review/overview of the book, for those of you still trying to decide if you want to read it.

Stephenie Meyer's The Host
By Neal Wyatt -- Library Journal, 5/6/2008 9:01:00 AM

As Lewis Carroll’s Alice so aptly points out, "What is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?" Welcome to RA Crossroads, where books, movies, music, and other media converge and whole-collection reader’s advisory service goes where it may. In this column, Stephenie Meyer's The Host leads me down a winding path.

Have you ever read something and been simply consumed by it? Not doing what needs to be done, just skipping everything else to read until the book ends? That just happened to me with Stephenie Meyer’s The Host, out today from Little, Brown.

The phenomenally popular YA author's first book written for adults (or so the book’s PR says—teens are going to devour it, too) riffs on classic alien invasion motifs. The human race serves as hosts for alien souls. Once breached, the human is lost, subsumed by the alien’s consciousness. When Melanie Stryder is captured and implanted, she refuses to give up, fighting the soul named Wanderer from possessing her body.

The story is immediately consuming as it shifts perspectives between Melanie and Wanderer; the adventure, romance, and survival ethoses blend beautifully. It is an experience that deserves a festival all to itself. Meyer only dabbles in alien v. human adrenaline—for more of that, plus the scary alien factor and the rocket fuel rush The Host conjurs, you're going to have to head straight to the movies. Start with Invasion of the B ody Snatchers and The War of the Worlds and then reload the popcorn and watch They Live, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and the TV series V.

In terms of books, if you want to stay in the sf world, consider Robert A. Heinlein's Puppet Masters for its adventure and science, Robert J. Sawyer's Mindscan for its consideration of identity, and Sheri S. Tepper's The Margarets as an intriguing take on Wanderer.

However, for readers who came to The Host because of their love of Bella and Edward (the stars of Meyer’s "Twilight" vampire series), Heinlein and Sawyer are not going to work. Too many sharp corners and not enough mood.

The thing is, The Host's addictive quality derives not from the alien occupation idea. It is the relationship between Melanie and Wanderer, the revelation of Wanderer’s character, the depth of plot, the compulsive pacing, and the deep attachments that keep the story simmering.

Meyer's breakout is going to be the sf book for readers who don’t think they like sf.

For similar character, tone, and detail, as well as heroics and moments of pitch-perfect dialog and s cene, try two other big, addictive, and groundbreaking books: Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. They both share elements of genre blending, pure storytelling genius, adventure, deep and detailed internal landscapes, and characters you want to jump into the book and meet.

Meyer is hinting at continuing the story line of The Host—readers can only hope she means it and that they will be twice as long.

© 2008, Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lonnie :-)

The Host News and Interviews

I found this interview that Library Journal did with Stephenie on Monday and wanted to share it. (For some reason the link won't work, so I just copied and pasted the whole thing for you to read)

LJ Talks To Stephenie Meyer
Patricia Altner -- Library Journal, 5/5/2008 7:29:00 AM
Stephenie Meyer’s wildly popular young adult “Twilight Saga” series, which centers on the strong bond between a teenage girl, her vampire boyfriend, and his family, has sold over three million books in the Unite d States in just two years. Recently named one of Time magazine’s100 Most Influential People of 2008, the author has now written her first novel for adults. Blending science fiction with romance, The Host revolves around a most unusual love triangle involving only two bodies. Meyers brings to this tale the same intensity of her YA series in exploring what makes all of us, alien or otherwise, human. For more on The Host, check out Neal Wyatt's RA Crossroads No. 4.

You are well-known for your YA series. Why did you decide to write an adult novel? How does this differ from writing for teenagers?
Like the “Twilight Saga” (this is probably the only way The Host is like the series!), this was just a story I had fun telling myself. My personal entertainment is always the key to why a story gets finished. I never think about another audience besides myself while I’m writing; that can wait for the editing stage.

What inspired the story of The Host?
I was driving from Phoenix to Salt Lake City through some of the most dreary and repetitive desert in the world. It’s a drive I’ve made many times, and one of the ways I keep from going insane is by telling myself stories. I have no idea what sparked the strange foundation of a body-snatching alien in love with the host body’s boyfriend over the host-body’s objections. I was halfway into the story before I realized it. Once I got started, though, the story immediately demanded my attention. I could tell there was something compelling in the idea of such a complicated triangle. I started writing the outline in a notebook, and then fleshed it out as soon as I got to a computer. The Host was supposed to be no more than a side project—something to keep me busy between editing stints on Eclipse[the latest “Twilight” title]—but it turned into something I couldn’t step away from until it was done.

What type of research did you do for this novel?
One of the advantages of fantasy is that research rarely applies. I created most of this world straight from my imagination. The main setting is the desert, which is home for me.

In The Host and the “Twilight” series you describe so eloquently the pain of love and the meaning of friendship. Why are these themes important to you?
Aren’t these themes important to everyone? Like a lot of writers, I find myself drawn to themes that are deeply human, and The Host, though written from an alien perspective, is no exception.

The characters of Melanie and Wanderer are very different. How were you able to make them come so completely to life even though they share the same physical body?
Wanderer and Melanie were very distinct personalities to me from day one; keeping them separate was never an issue. Melanie is the victim—she’s the one that we, as humans, should identify with; at the same time, she is not always the more admirable character. She can be angry and violent and ruthless. Wanderer is the attacker, the thief. She is not like us, not even a member of our species. However, she is someone that I, at least, wish I was more like. She’s a better person than Melanie in a lot of ways, and yet a weaker person. The differences between the two main characters are the whole point of the story. If they weren’t so distinct, there would have been no reason to write it.

What is your writing environment like?
I have an open office in the middle of the house. This can be pretty chaotic, but I like my kids to be able to see me, and know I’m there if they need something. Also, I can’t concentrate if I don’t know what they’re up to.

What writers inspire you?
Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, and Orson Scott Card. I can’t go through a year without re-reading Austen. Shakespeare and Orson Scott Card— whose styles, oddly enough, have a lot in common—are the bar that I try to reach. Both of these writers put their characters in fantastic, impossible situations. Then they make those characters so human, their reactions so real, that we instinctively know that we would respond just the same way if that situation ended up being possible after all—if there really were fairies wandering around sprinkling love dust on our eyes or if we really were at war with alien space bugs. The stories are perfectly true to human nature, despite the fantasy element.

© 2008, Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lonnie :-)

Early Post for Princess Academy

First, I have to confess that this is the first book I’ve read for our Book Club. I had already read Angels and Demons and I’m one of those who can’t reread a book. I tried, I really did! Then, I started to read Beloved, but two pages into I put down. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. So, I was excited when Sarah said we were reading Princess Academy-a new book for me and by an author I like! So, here are some of my ramblings on the book:

I got the book on May 2nd and finished on May 3rd. It was a nice quick read for me but one full of life lessons on love and family, feeling useful and accepted, the importance of communication, the power of memories, courage, ect. Even though the first half of the story was a little slow for me, I thought the second half was exciting and suspenseful. I loved the ending,-I thought everything worked out just the way it should.

In the beginning, Miri felt lonely, but she was always pretending she didn’t care when she was left out of things. At one point Miri comes to realize that she isn’t the only one that feels lonely-Britta does, Karta does. It’s a universal feeling. I could also relate to Miri feelings of being small and useless. I’ve felt that way in my own life, wishing that I could be better or do better at something. It was amazing to see how Miri grew and became confident in herself. When she learned to read and was able to help her village with the traders she finally felt useful. It just goes to show that we can’t all do everything. We all have our own special talents and abilities. We all have to find our own place in this world, our destiny, something we were meant to do.

The words of the book are poetic and flowing, full of truth and wisdom. There is such beautiful imagery in the following phrases:
"A promise of something different. A place to go, a chance to move forward."
"Let it all slide out. Unhappiness can’t stick in a person’s should when it’s slick with tears."
"If Miri’s wings are free, what will she do now?"

Finally, I loved all the scenes with Miri and Peder and he’s probably my favorite character. I love that Mini had such a connection with him. He was the one to receive her quarry-speak cry for help.

Lonnie :-)

"Twilight" movie!!

For all you "Twilight" fans out there ... I just had to post this. It's a trailer to the movie, along with a movie poster. It looks AMAZING! I seriously wanted to just die of excitement ...