Posted in Loved It, paranormal, Speculative, Young Adult

Twilight

Isabella Swan moves to Forks, Washington to live with her dad after her mother remarries and relocates. She has to settle into a new school and a new way of life. And Forks- well, it’s the kind of town where everyone knows everyone’s grandparents and the like.
The school thing isn’t too bad though. Although she didn’t have to many friends in Phoenix where she had lived, she attracts a great deal of attention at her new school. What is even more difficult for her to comprehend is that there are a number of guys that are vying for her attention. Then she seems them in the cafeteria. They are the Cullens family, and they were the most beautiful people she had ever seen. The five Cullen children were adopted by Dr. Carlisle and Esme Cullen, who were also beautiful.
Bella has the fortune of sitting next to Edward in her biology class. But he, uh, reacts with a surprising amount of distaste. Throughout the class, he leans away from like he is offended by her odor; and later he goes as far as to try to re-arrange his schedule so he doesn’t have classes with her. Next Bella knows, Edward is missing from class for the rest of the week. But when he comes back, he is quite polite and gentlemanly towards her. Thus the cat and mouse game begins. Edward is quite fascinated by Bella because he finds her difficult to read. She on the other hand can hardly keep her wits about her whenever she looks at his glorious face! Then Edward saves her from what would have been a horrible car accident (one of the boys in her class lost control of the car on ice and nearly plowed into her). Then she realizes that Edward is not all that he seems. He’s incredibly fast. To top it all it seems that there is an Edward sized dent in the boy’s car. Her own personal superman? Or something else? One thing is for sure, Edward’s family seems a wee bit annoyed about his heroics. Further still Edward is rather ambivalent about answering Bella’s questions as to how he saved her.
Spoiler Alert
Bella figures out the answer to her question from a “campfire” story told by Jacob Black. The fact that Edward is a vampire doesn’t freak Bella out. She is more than tolerant; she’s downright accepting. Edward takes her to meet his “family.” He and Carlisle (his surrogate father) tell her the history of how the Cullen family came to not hunt humans…

Carlisle was born shortly before the time of Oliver Cromwell. His father was a minister who hunted “demons.” It seems as though Carlisle’s father saw demons everywhere much like those in the Crucible. Carlisle carried on after his father, but was a lot more reasonable. But he did find some real vampires. On the night he and his followers attacked, an elderly vampire attacked him. Carlisle hid, but turned into a vampire soon after. Appalled by what he had become, he tried various ways to kill himself. After not eating for a long period of time, he attacked a herd of deer and discovered a way to satisfy his need to feed without becoming a monster. The Cullen clan is the largest vampire clan outside the Volturi (an Italian clan).
Some vampires have gifts. Edward can read minds (well of everyone except Bella). His “sister” Alice is able to see the future. Jasper can influence the emotions of those around him.

Anyway, as part of her day with the Cullen family. She watches them play baseball. In the midst of the game, another group of vampires show up- James, Victoria, and Laurent. These hunt humans. When the get a whiff of Bella’s scent, the hunt is on as far as James is concerned. A dangerous cat and mouse game ensues with the whole Cullen clan acting to protect Bella and her parents. They get James in the end, but Bella nearly dies.

I was reluctant to read this series. I heard many people going on about it. But, I’m not into pop literature so I resisted. What changed my mind? Well I listened to this podcast called Fire and Ice. I was looking for book review podcasts. Anyway, the four teenage girls were drooling over Edward. Ok! Drooling doesn’t begin to cover it. So I purchased the first one. The rest is history…

Bella- I was annoyed with this girl. That’s not bad. I think a good book is one where you can become irritated with the characters. She was just so irritatingly not observant. I figured out pretty quickly that Edward was a vampire. I mean Meyer does follow Bram Stoker in that vampires are these irresistibly beautiful people. And ok, I get that he’s drop dead gorgeous. But come on, you can’t control yourself better than that? And for crying out loud, love is fine but why would you throw you’re life away to be “undead” for all eternity. Edward, although lovely, is the first man sees ever fancy herself in love with. What’s the rush? Take some time to figure out who you are first?
Edward, is quite the cultured gentleman. As SIP noted, there was the Jane Austen reference to Edward Ferrars and Edmund Bertram. Actually he reminded me of the character Lucian in Underworld. I can sort of see why the girls were swooning over him. Anyway, he is a lot more rational about Bella’s humanity. It’s good someone has their wits about them.

There was one tiny thing I didn’t like. WHAT WAS UP WITH THE LACK OF NECK BITING IN THIS BOOK??? I mean no one died. I was hoping that with the introduction of James, Victoria, and Laurent someone would get it. But nope, no one died. To me that is the hallmark of a vampire novel-that someone dies. I was hoping for some chills.

The book was extraordinarily well written. It was told from Bella’s point of view. My understanding is that Ms. Meyer is going to write this novel from Edward’s perspective. That may be quite interesting, especially the hunting scenes. Stay tuned for New Moon which is the next book in the series.

Word on commenting: Apple is in the process of transferring everything to a new domain web.me.com There is just one problem, if you’ve accessed my site through web.me.com/bluestocking_bb you will not be able to leave a comment. So kindly change the address to web.mac.com/bluestocking_bb…(rest of the permalink address) Basically swap the me for mac. When the domain change is complete, I’ll inform you. Thanks.

Posted in medical

The Joy of Pregnancy

I would like to state for the record, NO I’M NOT PREGNANT!!!!!

I received this from a publicist for review. Anyway, pregnancy is a very interesting issue. It seems sometimes quite mysterious, especially if you’re a vestal virgin like yours truly. The amount of people I know that are pregnant is staggering. I’m sure all the pregnant women I know have been reading the pregnancy manuals. So I thought I’d read one too! I don’t want to be left out.

I thought this was a very easy yet informative read. It did freak me out a little. No wonder so many women used to die in child birth before modern medicine. But I will say this book freaked me out a lot less than looking at information online. This book deals with things from both the husband and wife’s perspective. It breaks things down by month. It does give you things to look out for- like bleeding, rashes, and fever; but it doesn’t give you a laundry list of possible causes. It also gives post birth tips like dressing your baby, bathing, diaper changing, and what to pack in your diaper bag so you don’t end up with P.I.S.S. There is also a glossary and checklists galore! Also there is pertinent Q & A throughout the book. Some of the stories are rather entertaining.

So for any of you out there who are first time around pregnant or have been there and done that, you may want to invest in this little book. I think you won’t be disappointed!

Posted in Liked It, Sci-Fi Friday, Science Fiction, Star Wars

Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter

I have an veritable mountain of science fiction books to review! So I’m starting sci fi Friday. I know most of you won’t like it; that’s why I’m doing it on Friday when the stats are low. But stick around. I will be covering more than Star Wars and Star Trek. You may find that you actually like it. Science fiction is not too far off from fantasy! A great deal of the plots are very interwoven like you find in the typical fantasy series. The Star Trek books tend to be more free standing thought there are mini series. Star Wars on the other hand, had some serious story arcs. Now on to the story…

This book takes place immediately before The Phantom Menace. One of Nute Gunray’s lackeys, Hoth Monchar, has gone missing. This is a problem especially as Darth Sidious is about to put the finishing touches on Naboo’s blockade. Let’s face it, loose lips sink ships. So Sidious send Darth Maul to track down the missing Neimodian, hopefully before the man starts talking and the Jedi find out that the Sith have indeed returned.
Maul does track Monchar down; however Monchar has recorded his stole information into a holocron which has sold to one Lorn Pavan. When we are introduced to Pavan we see that he has no love for the Jedi. As it turns out, the Jedi have taken his son away from him to raise. Once Pavan realizes the importance of the information, he decides to take it to the Jedi Temple.
Maul’s new assignment becomes to track down Pavan, kill him, and kill anyone with whom he might have spoken. Maul tracks Pavan back to Coruscant. However, Pavan (accompanied by droid I-Five) crosses path with Jedi Master Anoon Bondara and Padawan Darsha Assant, who are on a mission related to the Black Sun criminal syndicate. Maul attacks them, and Bondara gives his life so that Pavan and Assant can escape.

Maul tracks down the pair. Assant hold Maul off long enough for the droid to seal itself and Pavan in carbonite.. Assant triggers an explosion that kills her but barely misses Maul. Maul assumes Pavan is dead as he cannot sense Pavan through the Force not realizing the man is frozen.
One the timer runs out, Pavan is released from the carbonite. He tracks down Maul on a station and manages to sneak attack him. However, Maul cuts off his hand. Pavan is able to get away from Maul to the public area of the station. He passes the holocron off to Senator Palpatine who promises to help. Palpatine helps the man to his death by sending Maul to the man’s quarters.

At the end of the book, the blockade of the Phantom Menace starts.

I think it is so interesting that the Jedi were not well loved prior to Luke Skywalker. They had a really bad reputation as baby snatchers. In addition, I think all the “insight” from the Force, not mention the arrogant attitudes were probably annoying. In the later Star Wars books, you see that this attitude lingers for some of the older people. But it is so fascinating how close the Sith came to being exposed.

Posted in Classic, Liked It

The Franklin’s Tale

This is a love story that is not quite in the courtly love tradition.  We are introduced to Arveragus, a young knight, who is in love with Dorigen, a high born lady.  He wins her affections at the start of the novel unlike the Knight’s Tale.  They agree that there marriage will be an equal partnership with Arveragus assuming the lead position only when in public so not as to damage his reputation.  Quite an advanced concept for an age that viewed women as chattel.
 
After they get married, Arveragus goes to Britain to earn fame and glory, and Dorigen is left in despondency though her husband writes her frequently.  Her friend convince her to walk by the sea, but the sight of the black rocks makes her fear that her husband will come to harm on them when he returns. 
 
Dorigen is invited to a garden where she meets Aurelius who also loves her.  When asked what he can do to make her happy, she tells him she will be his lover if he can make the black rocks of Brittany disappear so her husband can return.  Well Aurelius prays to the heathen gods who created an unusual high tide that covers the rocks.  Arveragus comes home but Dorigen does not honor her word. So Aurelius is sick at heart for two years.
 
    When Arveragus finds out what Dorigen has done, he insists she keep her word.  When Aurelius sees this, he forgives Dorigen’s promise recognizing that Arveragus is a noble man and dearly loves his wife.
 
The Franklin concludes the tale by asking who was more noble. 

Yes, in case anyone was wondering, this was the answer to one of the questions on the Literature Test. I recall reading this story as a child- like 2nd grade. They edited it a wee bit off course. I didn’t realize I was reading classical literature that early on.

Posted in Children, Fantasy, Loved It

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

It all started with a Rune

In this fateful hour, I place all Heaven with its power
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath
And the lightning with its rapid wrath
And the sea with all its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness,
All these I place
By God’s almighty help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness.

The Murray family are gathered for Thanksgiving Dinner when an emergency call comes in. Mad Dog “El Rabioso” Branzillo, a South American dictator, intends to follow through on his threat of nuclear war. It seems this will be the world’s last Thanksgiving. By this points in the quintet, Meg is married to Calvin O’Keefe and expecting their first child. Meg’s mother-in-law gives Charles Wallace the ruin. She had been given it by her grandmother to ward of evil. It seems there is power to those words.

That night Charles Wallace goes out and says the rune. A unicorn appears named Gaudior. The Echthros are at it again. It is Charles Wallace’s job to move through time and space to find the Might Have Been that has led to Mad Dog Branzillo being in a position to destroy the world.

In order to accomplish this Charles Wallace needs help. While Charles Wallace is traveling through time, Meg is helping him by finding out more about Madoc and Zyll. Supposedly there were a group of Welsh people that arrived in the New World years before the Pilgrims. It was two brothers Madoc and Gwydyr who left there home land because their father died and it caused a war among the brothers for the throne. Madoc and Gwydyr were the youngest children. So they left and went to the New World. Once they go there the boys get separated. Madoc thought Gwydyr was dead for many years. But he returns on the day Madoc is to marry the Indian chief’s daughter. Both men look similar but Gwydyr’s eyes are close set. Gwydyr has decided to conquer the tribe Madoc has been living with for these years and claim Zyll for his own. The men decide to battle using fire. But they have to make the fire. Maddoc used the rune to make fire. He also foresaw that there would be a baby with blue wide set eyes who would do good for his people. Madoc cllaed the baby El Zarco, or little blue eyes. This is the might have been. Gwydyr left himself open to the Echthros. The projection they want to come true is that Gwydyr’s descendant who would be terrible.

So Meg is doing some quick research into the history of Madoc as well as the history of Vespugia, the South American country where Branzillo rules. As Charles Wallace and Meg (via kything) travel through time they realize the ultimate Might-Have-Been occurred in 1865. Unfortunately, Charles Wallace and Gaudior can’t choose to go there. Meg meanwhile discovers that her mother-in-law is actually a descendant of Maddoc. Her maiden name had been Branwen Zillah Maddox.
Charles does change the Might-Have-Been. And the disaster is averted. Only Charles Wallace, Meg, and Mrs. O’Keefe really know what happened.

This is my favorite of the time quintet. I think it was the time. You know how much I love science fiction. It was really interesting watching how the family line progressed through the age. Especially how the names changed as the language changed. It was also interesting to see how some of the names well kept in the family over thousands of years i.e. Brandon, Zillah, Maddox, Branzillo, Branwen. This is definitely a great book for kids!!

Posted in Detective, Liked It, Mystery

The Mysteries Affairs at Styles

This my dear readers is the first Agatha Christie mystery published. It is also the first Hercule Poirot novel. I believe this answers one of the questions on one of the quizzes or tests that I created.

The cast
Capt. Hastings (the narrator)- he is on sick leave from the miliatary
Hercule Poirot- old friend of Hastings; he is in exile from Belgium
Chief Inspector Japp of Scotland Yar
Emily Inglethorp- the victim
Alfred Inglethorp-her much younger husband
John Cavendish, the elder stepson
Mary Cavendish, John’s spouse
Lawrence Cavendish,- John’s younger brother
Evelyn Howard- companion to the victim
Cynthia Murdoch- friend of the family
Dr. Bauerstein- toxicologist.

After an evening of entertaining, Emily Inglethorp is found poisoned in her locked bedroom. It turns out to be a case of strychnine poisoning. Strychnine is an alkaloid used as pesticides for rodents. During this time period, strychnine was used in medications as stimulant, a laxative, and treatment for stomach ailments. It seems everyone is a suspect- here gold digging husband, companion, best friend- it seems everyone has a reason for wanting dear Emily dead and gone.

The suspicion falls on the younger husband, naturally of course, because he gains the most under the will. Hastings calls in Poirot to help solve this befuddling crime. He discovers that early that day Emily was heard arguing with a man either her husband or stepson. Following this argument she made a new will which seems to be missing. The will had been in a document case in her bedroom. Two people are discovered to have bought strychnine days before the murder- Alfred and John. The only hitch in suspecting Alfred is that he left earlier that evening and spent the night in a nearby village; so he was not present to administer the poison. Then there is the next hurdle to overcome, which is that no one seems to know how the poison was administered. As typical in her novels, the police nab the wrong person, but Hercule Poirot always gets his man.

I find it difficult to figure out who’s done it in the Hercule Poirot novel. It’s not the logical deduction that’s the problem. It’s just the sheer amount of characters in the book. I mean keeping track of who touched what, when is quite difficult, especially as Poirot seems to interrogate people at random. But there were a fair amount of red herrings. As is his style, Poirot sets people up three ways from Christmas in order to entrap someone else. There are many times I found myself smacking my forehead. As a character Poirot is interesting. He operates, much like Miss Marple, by setting people up to under estimate him. It is constantly stated in this series that British people distrust foreigners. The British treat him as inferior. I suppose he is a great deal to blame as he will insist on acting like a fussy old lady. But underestimating him proves to be people’s undoing.

Posted in Non-fiction

I Should Have Stayed Home: Food

All right! I finished this book this afternoon. What a thoroughly entertaining book it was too! It is really funny. This book is a collection of dining experience that various people from various walks of life have had while traveling internationally mostly. There are some U.S. fiascos too!

Silk worm larvae, bull testicles, cockroaches, food fights with a deadly weapon, and all manner of loathsome diseases from eating unsanitary food… These people have had some serious experiences. Remarkably enough they have kept the bad experiences in perspective. I don’t know that I could have done that. One of these days I plan to travel the world. I know one thing for sure, if I don’t recognize it; I ain’t eating it. I don’t think I’ll ever view eating in a restaurant the same way again.

This is a great read for those train riders (like me). I often have difficulty reading longer books on the train. Not that I can’t read them. I just feel so disconnected when I have to get off the train. I don’t get that feeling when I read short stories. Maybe it’s because there is closure.

Anyway, I do believe there is a series of I Should Have Stayed Home books. One day when I clear some my back reading, I ‘ll be able to get to them.