Well 2020 was a dumpster fire of a year. Thank goodness it’s about to end. We’ve been pretty open with our struggles we had this year when it came to our reading lists. We didn’t read as much as we wanted and don’t have as many books to pick from. So this year we are going to do something different this year. Instead of picking our Top 5 or 10 books we are just going to list our favorite books we read this year. So here we go.
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 – by Cho Nam-Joo This was such a powerful book to me. Like the main character Kim Jiyoung. I was also born in 1982 and can identify with so many of her struggles. The fact that she is Korean and I am American just goes to show how alike we are all no matter where we are from. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Deathless Divide – by Justina Ireland The sequel of Dread Nation about a Zombie apocalypse after the US Civil War. In this one we see more the aftermath of what happened and the hardships they all have to endure. Jane is the best protagonist. She’s funny, strong, and damaged but she never gives up. She’s who we all would want if a zombies ever attack and considering how 2020 went, I’m surprised they didn’t. (Beth don’t jinx it)
The King of Crows – by Libba Bray The final book in The Diviner’s series was ever the sweeping epic I wanted it to be. It brought all of them together and made them all work together to defeat the King of Crows. The sad thing about this series is how so many of the problems of the 1920’s are still too relevant today. Racism, poverty war and greed all played a part in the novels and the last couple of years. I’m truly going to miss all of these characters.
Midnight Sun – by Stephenie Meyer Controversial choice I know because I wasn’t very kind to it or to Edward and Bella. It has not aged well and I’ll never read it again but It was kinda fun to reminisce back to a time when I loved these books and when I was excited to go see the movies in theaters. (Remember when we could do that?) No matter what I feel about the now, I’ll always be grateful to them and Stephenie Meyer because they introduced me to a whole new genre of books that I probably wouldn’t have sought after before. So yes, It wasn’t a good book but it brought back some good memories.
There’s Something about Sweetieby Sandhya Menon Sweetie is an awesome main character. Her development is amazing. The romance is adorable. I totally forgot I had read that one.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro This novel was so horrifying. The quiet romance that hid the dark realities that Ishiguro created in the novel made it such an amazing piece of speculative fiction. I was so disturbed by it.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness The world building here is neat and I’m interested in where the story is going. I didn’t read a whole lot this year, but this one did get me into the sequel. So, even though there are things that definitely annoy me, I am adding it to the list.
I believe I bought Dividing Eden because it was on sale and I had read other books by the author and thought why not? I finally got around to reading it thanks to USPS delivery The Tower of Nero to the apartment building across the street. (Yeah, tenant association email chain for the assist) I’m glad that I got around to it because it was a fun read. The premise is that Eden was at war with a neighboring kingdom, the previous royal family still had influence in the kingdom and the power of the wind that kept the power going to the kingdom and the threat to the terrors of the night at bay was failing. Twins, Carys and Andreus were not expected to ascend to the throne thanks to having an older brother but when he and their father, the king die they must compete against each other for the crown. Once inseparable, their loyalty gets out to the test when power is on the line. At least for one. Carys never really wanted to be in power but she is clever. You see, when she and her brother were born the seer made a prediction that one of them is cursed and would be the downfall of the Kingdom. It was assumed that the cursed one was Andreus because he was born sickly. Carys has always stepped in to protect him. When he has one of his episodes, she’ll do something to draw attention away from him so no one will be the wiser. It was her role and she thought it would always be. That was until Andreus met the new Seer, Imogen and his brother was dead and he could be king and out of everyone’s shadow. But who was behind the deaths of their brother and father? Wasn’t the Neighboring Kingdom? The ousted royals? The members of the council? Carys does what she always done and goes out of her way to help and protect her brother. Andreus betrays her the moment he sees he could have everything he ever wanted and a pretty girl. Typical boy believes a woman he wants to sleep with over his sister who has done nothing but protect him his whole life. The end of the first book, we get the resolution of who wins the crown but who is behind it all not so much. It’s much more complicated then that because there a lot of things at play here. All pretty well set up too. I was able to guess some of who was behind but one subplot I didn’t really see coming. All in all it was a good two books. If you are looking for a quick fantasy read with lots of subplots and palace intrigue, this is for you.
I finished A Discovery of Witches on Halloween. I enjoyed it but share some of the same concerns as Kate. In fact my feelings about the book are similar to hers that I don’t feel like I need to right up my own review. I do look forward to reading the other books in the trilogy and watching the show. Now I’ve moved on to these other books. Dividing Eden I had bought long time ago and finally decided to give it a go. So far so good. The Tower of Nero is the conclusion on Rick Riordan’s expansive Heroes of Olympus Saga and I’m interested on how he wraps up over a decades worth of story for Percy, Annabeth, Piper, Apollo, Hazel and more.
Oh My. Where do I start? Let’s just get this out of the way. Those who are fans of the books and are willing to look past all the problematic elements of the series will love this. The rest of us, meh. It doesn’t really reveal anything new. It is literally a retelling of Twilight but from Edward’s perspective. So no surprises, no twists or subplots. It’s all the same. Okay not really. We are treated to more scenes with the Cullens and get to see more insight into their family dynamic which I’ll admit is interesting but not enough to say this was worth it. If I’m being honest this was hard for me to get through. 1. All of my feels about rereading Twilight were still fresh and my mind and well yeah that definitely played in how I viewed this book. 2. It didn’t change my opinion on either Edward or Bella if anything just reaffirmed what I already believed about each character. 3. It’s kinda boring. So much that I got as far as the Port Angeles incident to realize I didn’t care about Edward’s thoughts on things. I just didn’t. It was 600 pages of Edward going back and forth of feeling guilty for putting Bella and danger but feeling even more guilty for unable to walk away. Like ugh. I can’t.
Let’s talk about Edward here When we meet Edward he is a bored out of his mind 100+ year old vampire high schooler. Just going through the motions of playing the average teenager to try to blend in with all the humans and try to have a normal life. Like Bella I kind of have dislike to him from the beginning. He has such contempt for his fellow students based on reading their thoughts. He calls them all simple and shallow for worrying and thinking about such mundane things but like they are all teenagers. What are they supposed to think about. He sneers in judgement at all of them for getting so excited about a new student who is starting as it’s the most interesting thing in the world. I remember when a new kid started at school and how we all were all excited to meet someone new. It’s human nature but I guess that’s the point. Edward isn’t human. Of course, we all know what happens next. Edward meets Bella in Biology. She smells so amazing that he immediately wants to kill her and suck all her blood out of her. He contemplates if he could do it before anyone would stop him? How many others he would have to kill? Can he lure her away from the rest of the student body after class? He miraculously makes it through class without killing anyone and immediately runs away to Alaska as to not to risk exposing his family. After a week sulking in Alaska he decides to go back mostly out of out pride. How dare this little girl force him from his home and family? How dare she make him feel weak for running away? Who does she think she is? So he comes back and eavesdrops and everyone else’s thoughts about her because frustratingly he can’t read her thoughts. He’s intrigued by her because she doesn’t do what he expects her to do. For someone who has known everyone thoughts for almost an hundred years, not being able to is an exciting challenge for him and add to that that she doesn’t react to him the way everyone else does. She doesn’t seem scared or wary of him like she should be. She challenges him and his principles. So he does what any normal vampire does. He observes her through others and see that’s she different from the other humans. He thinks she’s kind and shy and incredibly unlucky because he has to save her from Tyler’s truck. Next thing you know, Bella is all Edward can think about. He obsesses over everything about her. Why does she do that and say this? Why is she is so unlucky? Like seriously, she could die at any moment. He must protect her! This includes breaking and entering into her bedroom to watch her sleep. BTW, the mental gymnastics he goes through to justify doing this is pretty impressive if not scary and wrong but I digress. When I say he’s obsessed with her I mean it. I’m not convinced that he is actually in love with Bella. He’s in love with the challenge of her. The enigma of her. Bella is the first interesting thing to happen to him in decades and he is desperate to hold on to it despite the fact he knows that he is wrong for her. He knows that every moment he is with her he puts her in danger either from him and his family or outside forces and instead of walking away like he knows he should but can’t because he’s obsessed. This really isn’t a love story at least from Edward’s perspective.
The good thing about this book is we do get to know more about the Cullen’s like Rosalie. In the original series she is nothing more then just a spoiled pretty girl who doesn’t like Bella because has what Rosalie wants. To be human. To be able to grow old, start a family and have a normal life. Apparently it’s more than that. Rosalie hates Bella at first because she’s vain. She was meant to be Edward’s partner and Edward rejected her and even though she found Emmett the rejection still stings. Which really makes her seem shallow and easy to dismiss when she raises questions about Bella and the risks she presents to their family. She could undo everything that they have built and what happens when she wants Edward to turn her? What happens if she disappears? The rest of the family don’t listen to her because they think she is just being difficult but she’s right. She was absolutely right. When James, Victoria and Laurent come in the area, things would have been fine if Bella hadn’t been there and even before the whole James’ incident Bella is already thinking about becoming a vampire so she can be with Edward forever. Even Alice has seen a possible future of Bella being turned so they all know it could be happy. We need to give Rosalie an apology because she was all right all along. #Rosaliewasright
So yeah it was a ride. I wouldn’t say I would recommend reading it unless you are looking for some nostalgia in your life. It’s not a good book, well not any better than the original. It doesn’t add to it, except for maybe the car chase to get from the Airport to the dance studio to save Bella. That was pretty fun. Also Alice’s planning the cover up afterwards was amusing but neither of those things make it worth reading this if you weren’t already planning on it. I’ll never regret reading the Twilight Series because it did introduce me to a whole new genre and new authors that I wouldn’t have every thought about before. For that I’ll be forever grateful for but as for Edward, Bella it was good while it lasted but in the end I’m just not that into you after all.
It’s funny how time and age makes you look at things differently. I know both Kate and I have mentioned this before on this blog. When the Twilight first came out 15 years ago we were fans. I personally was borderline obsessed with the series. I reread them multiple times back to back to back. Once I finished with Eclipse, I would go immediately go back to Twilight and reread them all over again. I even scheduled my move to New York around the Breaking Dawn Midnight release party. I don’t remember the last time I read Twilight but I’m thinking it was probably some time around 2008. Obviously, a lot of happened in the 12 years since the last time I read Twilight. The movies came out and that lead to more discourse to be written about them. The inevitable backlash and burnout happened. My own opinion changed. I’ll admit there was a short period that I felt embarrassed for liking them though over time I had began to soften on them and even start to defend them. Our one and only podcast we discussed vampire novels and Twilight featured heavily. I started to feel that some of the backlash was unwarranted. That it mostly focused on the fact that it was written by a woman and had a fan base made up of young girls and their mothers. Two demographics that are rarely taken seriously. When Stephenie Meyer announced that she was going to finally release Midnight Sun I was ecstatic. Kate and I planned to reread the series to prepare. It was going to be amazing! I did not anticipate how hard it was going to be me to get through just Twilight. Not all of it had to do with the text. The pandemic really has interrupted so much of our lives but yes the story was hard to get into. I’ve already talked about my feelings Bella. My feelings about Edward are not any better and honestly Midnight Sun does improve it but more on that in another post. How did I think this book was romantic? I was more Team Jacob than Team Edward because I always felt that Edward was a little to controlling even back then but this time around I was more horrified by his actions. The manipulation and gas lighting that Edward pulls on Bella throughout the series is not okay. I realize to keep him and family safe there is a certain amount of lying is a must but the things he continue to keep from her. The fact he breaks into her house to watch her sleep. How he appoints himself her guardian without her knowledge or consent. How he justifies all of this as for her own good to try to convince himself that he is still a good guy despite also being aware that he is the greatest threat to her safety then anything else in forks. Bella is also not so great. Meyer’s tries to make her selflessness as a virtue but I think it’s kind of her weakness. She has no self preservation or just no self. She sees no issues with Edward entering her house without her consent. She’s flattered. She refuses to tell Charley that she is going on a date with Edward because she wants to protect him and his family if something goes bad like killing her. She runs off the meet James alone to save her mom but more importantly save Edward. The moment she starts to get involved with Edward she drops everything else. To be clear, she didn’t really much care for many of her other friends before so her dropping them wasn’t a hardship but it really does show her priorities. Being in my late thirties now, how quickly Bella is to give up her youth for immortality the most troubling. The one thing I agree with Edward. She is so focused on the fact that she will age and Edward won’t and the aesthetics of how that will look as time goes by. That she never considers of what she’ll give up or that her own priorities might change. She might go to college, meet other people and find a subject that she is passionate about and decide that she wants more then just Edward. She denies herself the opportunity to grow. Not to mention the abuse she suffers. Make no mistake, Edward is an abuser. He may not be physically hurting her but he is emotionally. He manipulates her to feel to certain ways. He constricts her movements of where she can go and who she can see. He constantly puts her in danger and not just by being in her presence but from other vampires as well. Edward is not the romantic lead he or Bella thinks he is. I’ll go more into it with Midnight Sun but I have a feeling that Twilight Series written as it is now would not be published or at least would not be the world wide sensation it became. Not in the Me Too era. If anything Twilight is cautionary tale and maybe that’s how she view it from now on.
So I’m cheating. I’m skipping New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn and going straight to Midnight Sun. It took me three months to get through Twilight again. If I read the other books, I would never finish this challenge. Okay. Let’s do this thing!
These days it isn’t much of an hot take to call Bella Swan of Twilight unlikable. At this point it is pretty much excepted across the board but as I go back and reread the Twilight series for our Pop Cultural Homework I am reminded how unlikable her character is from the very first chapter. We meet Bella as she moves from Phoenix to Forks. Every thing she says about Forks drips with condensation and disdain. She talks as she is being punished and going into exile even though she is the one who chose to do this so her Mom can travel more easily with her new husband. She laments the fact that she’ll miss the sun and wonders how anyone can possibly live here. She goes on and on about how awful school is going to be because these small kids are just going to gawk at her big cityness. Girl get over yourself. You’re from Phoenix not Los Angeles. She dismisses everyone who says anything kind or encouraging to her living here. Every single person she encounters on her first day is nothing but kind to her and yet she can’t be bothered to acknowledge them. She doesn’t bother to learn any of their names or follow along with the conversation. She only decides to take part on the discussion to ask about the Cullens and once she gets her answers she tunes everyone out again. No wonder she and Edward are meant for each other because they are both so wrapped up in their own self absorption that they don’t have room for anyone else to exist. I know Kate and I will go more into this and more with our reviews but yeah I just really can’t get over Bella here. How did I read this series over and over again and not want to throw the book across the room?
As you an see my reread is going great? How are you all doing? Years removed from your first reading, what strikes you the most about Twilight now?
With the announcement of Midnight Sun’s release this summer, Beth and I decided that this year we would read the same books. Yes, folks, we are revisiting the wonderful, terrible novels: Twilight,New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. This is the first time that Beth and I are reading the same books as part of the Pop Culture Homework Assignment! I am so excited! Please join us!