Monday, December 12, 2011

RECOMMENDATION OF THE MONTH: SURRENDER THE NIGHT - MARYLU TYNDALL

My previous recommendation of the Month was Surrender the Heart by Marylu Tyndall, the first book in the Surrender to Destiny series. As you might recall, I loved everything about that book, and it is with great pleasure that I give a heartfelt recommendation for the second book in the series, Surrender the Night.


A pampered British Lieutenant falls for a lowly Baltimore farm girl. Step into a breathtaking novel of adventure and romance set amid the War of 1812. During an assault by an enemy sailor, timid farm girl Rose McGuire is saved by the least likely of heroes—a British Naval Lieutenant. Now that he’s wounded, she’ll have to heal as well as hide him. Alex Reed is being aided and abetted by his enemy—albeit an innocent and attractive one. But he might be doing Rose more harm than good if his presence on her farm is discovered. As their love blooms, trouble looms. Will this couple survive another British invasion? ~ as per Marylu Tyndall's website.

This second book follows the story of Alexander Reed and Rose McGuire, familiar faces from Surrender the Heart. While its prequel saw battles at sea; in Surrender the Night the British are now making their way onto American soil, destroying homes and assaulting women as they go. One night, home alone, Rose is attacked by the vile Garrick character who tormented Marianne so in Surrender the Heart, but is saved by the intervention of Alex Reed, the very man who protected Marianne and allowed her to escape. However, during his defence of Rose, Alex is shot and left unconscious. Though harboring hate in her heart for the British who killed her parents and are threatening her freedom, Rose begins to nurse Alex back to health in grattitude for saving her from a terrible fate. Too weak to make his way back to his ship, Alex is forced to stay on Rose’s property. Placing her family at great risk by secretly harboring a British Naval Lieutenant during the War, Rose hides Alex in the barn, but Alex’s intervention in another unsettling situation sees him unexpectedly appointed as the Drummond’s servant, Alex’s identity of course only known to Rose. Right?

Enemies at war, neither Alex nor Rose can understand the other’s motivation for their help. Initially distrustful of each other, Alex and Rose are forced to spend time together to keep up appearances. In doing so they are also forced to admit (at least to themselves) that their perceptions may have been wrong, and they must question their own views of the war, as well as the so-called enemy. Each haunted by events from their past, feelings of inadequacy and guilt, the rising threat of an unavoidable battle between their countrymen and the unwelcome interference of a jealous suitor seems to build up to more tension than these two confused souls can take. Their hearts reaching out to each other, their souls forbidding it, can an American farm girl and an English nobleman surrender their fates to God and allow themselves to love?

Surrender the Night is a beautiful sequel to Surrender the Heart. We again meet up with some beloved characters from the first book, meet some lovely new ones, and get a glimpse of Luke and Cassandra’s story which will be told in Surrender the Dawn. Sadly, this third instalment is not available in South Africa yet, but here’s hoping it might be in time for my Christmas stocking? I truly adore this series and can’t wait to pick up the next instalment.

Marylu Tyndall has a knack for effortless storytelling. Her characters are really well developed and very believable. You as reader come to care about them a great deal, and when they find themselves in danger you find yourself holding your breath. The chemistry between the characters, especially between Rose and Alex, is very real and tangible as well, and the description of dramatic events puts you on the edge of your seat. The British invasion and description of the historic destruction of Washington is really well written, making you as reader feel that you’re experiencing the events first hand. The sign of a truly gifted author.

I also love how Marylu leaves interpretation of the titles of the books up to her readers. I interpret the meaning of Surrender the Night as surrendering the darkness of your past to God; giving Him all of your hurts, fears and mistakes and trusting Him to heal you. You have to let go of what you're holding on to in order to receive something new. You have to surrender the night to embrace the dawn - a life full of light.

Happy reading!

Friday, December 9, 2011

BREAKING DAWN PART 1

*Spoiler Alert - I'm assuming you've seen the movie or read the book*

So it's been three weeks since I went to see Breaking Dawn Part 1, and I still haven't blogged about it. Not quite sure why... probably because shortly after I went on vacation, then got caught up in the excitement of the festive season. My point is, I haven't avoided blogging because I didn't like the movie, I just really haven't gotten around to it. So now that my studies are officially over, I will have a lot more time on my hands and plan to blog a lot more. I read so many books each year but only blog on the ones I love. Next year I'm going to try to blog about every single book I read. Should be fun :)

Okay, so, Breaking Dawn Part 1. Here are my thoughts.


LOVED it! It can honestly be said that the movie is very true to the book, and I believe most fans will be pleased. I had wondered how Summit planned to do a PG13 version of skinny dipping, a honeymoon love scene and a gruesome birth scene. Boy, did they deliver! There were a lot of children in the cinema, seriously small kids (as opposed to a few years ago when I was a kid and age restrictions actually meant something), leading me to believe the parentals had no idea there was to be a wee bit of a love scene in this one. And a love scene there was! I was actually quite surprised by the intensity of these scenes. The director didn't shy away from them at all. Bella and Edward went skinny dipping (we know they were 'nekkid' - not much left to the imagination), they consummated their marriage (and destroyed their room in the process - yikes, parents), and Bella's birth scene - quite disturbing. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning.

So, Jacob gets a wedding invitation and runs off to Canada like a spoilt child. A glimpse of book Jacob. I've said it before, I'll say it again. I read the Twilight series (save Breaking Dawn, which wasn't released yet) before the first film came out, and I hated Jacob. Seriously, I couldn't stand the guy. In the books he's an immature spoilt brat who treats Bella even worse than Edward does at times. Kudos to Taylor Lautner who managed to turn all that around. He does so much for the character of Jacob. In the question of Team Edward or Team Jacob, when someone says Team Jacob you can almost be sure they saw the movies before they read the books (if they read the books at all). If I had seen the movies first I would have been Team Jacob too. Taylor Lautner somehow makes Jacob humble and likable. In direct contrast I'm not crazy about Robert Pattinson as Edward. I don't think he does the character justice at all. Robert Pattinson makes Edward seem like a very annoying, whiny, sulky, insecure guy... I don't think he brings the depth you see in Edward when reading the book. Kristen Steward makes a very believable Bella, I just wish she didn't stutter so much... after an hour it gets to be too much.

Anyhow, Jacob runs off to lick his wounds (no pun intended), and the Cullens plan a wedding. I have to say I love the scenes where Carlisle and Emmett effortlessly carry tree trunks around under the watchful eye of wedding planner extraordinaire Alice, and I love how Bella practices walking in those Monolo wedding shoes we all know she doesn't want to wear.


Bella also seems to be wearing the same clothes she wore in New Moon (sans the jacket) when traveling to Italy. Another nice touch... makes it seem more real, don't you think?

The wedding:
I love that Stephanie Meyer was a guest at the wedding! Nice little touch by Summit. She hasn't done a cameo since Twilight, but I thought it added something special. Bella's dress, though Carolina Herrera, was not quite what I expected. I found it a bit boring, to be honest, but considering it's retro, and Bella, I guess it worked as it was meant to.

The back of the dress, however, was beautiful, and I love the hairclip Charlie and Rene give her.

I love that Bella ultimately wore sneakers with her wedding dress instead of Alice's heels. The sneakers are more Bella, and just right. No way Bella would have worn those heels. I have to say that I also expected Bella to be more dazzling. Come on, people, in the book she doesn't even recognise herself after Alice is done with her! I expected more than just plain old Bella, but I suppose the director keeps her plain here in order to highlight her upcoming transformation even more.

I loved meeting the vampire covens we'll see more of in part 2, especially Irina Denali who we know will betray the Cullens. I thought it very well done how her resentment towards the Cullens is already hinted at, heightening the dramatic tension already. The reception was lovely. I loved Alice and Jasper's dancing (very Alice and Jasper), and I thought the wedding speeches were quite hilarious - especially Jessica's. Edward "The Hair" Cullen. I also liked how Bella and Edward's wedding song is the same one that they danced to at the prom in Twilight. Of course it's a great moment when Jacob shows up at the wedding, late, and he and Bella dance. Though I have to say I found it just a tad inappropriate - they were dancing very close, with her new husband just a few feet away. I got a little uncomfortable there. Anyhow, so when Jacob loses it upon hearing Bella and Edward mean to have a real honeymoon, I was looking forward to Emmett and Jasper appearing at Edward's side to protect Bella. Only, they didn't. Why not Bill Condon? One of my favourite scenes in the book!

The honeymoon:
Isle Esme was exactly how I imagined it! What a lovely surprise. I liked how Edward pulled Bella into the dancing masses of Rio, but had hoped to see them at least dance? They did play some chess on their honeymoon, with white and red pieces, which I loved. I always enjoy it if they bring the cover into the book (like Edward catching Bella's apple in Twilight). Another nice little touch.

So after their first night together Bella is covered in bruises and Edward refuses to touch her again. I loved Bella's awkward attempts to try to seduce him. Very Bella! I also liked the scene where Bella's making a monster breakfast for herself. At that point everyone in the theatre went "uh-oh". I especially enjoyed the scene where Bella takes the phone from Edward and asks Carlisle "Can vampires go into shock?" So Edward is freaked out upon discovering that Bella is pregnant and immediately wants Bella to get an abortion. Terrible parenting there, Edward. Though acting like a jerk, try to keep in mind that Edward is scared for Bella's life, and is truly trying to protect her. In his unique, scary, Edward way. So one of the scenes I was most looking forward to is the moment at the airport where Bella runs into Rosalie's arms! These two have been at it since Twilight and it was one of my favourite moments in the book when they finally saw eye to eye, and joined forces to protect Bella's baby. Disappointingly, this scene did not make it into the movie.

What can we say of Bella's pregnancy other than "wow"?! Even the images I had in my head of a gaunt, sickly Bella did not compare to the wonderful job the make-up team did in making Bella look literally deathly sick. They perfectly portrayed how the baby was draining not only her energy, but her life. Kudos!!! An angry Edward keeps trying to convince Bella to let Carlisle save her by doing an abortion! Shocking! Carlisle also tells Bella that the baby is too strong for her and that she will die during child birth. Bella still refuses to harm her child. Good for you, Bella! With Rosalie backing her up and protecting her like a mother lion protecting her cub, the others don't stand a chance.

So, Jacob (horrified by the pregnancy) clues in that the baby, being half vampire, wants... blood. Am I the only one who came to this conclusion much sooner? Anyhow, so Bella drinks blood in a milkshake-like-looking-cup, through a straw. Nicely done. Very gross. So as Bella's health starts to improve ever so slightly, Edward begins to realise that the baby loves Bella and doesn't want to hurt her. Slowly Edward begins to accept Bella's pregnancy and starts to love his baby. The scene where he touches Bella's baby bump for the first time was beautifully done. Very emotional.

At this point let’s remind ourselves that the wolf pack has learnt of Bella's pregnancy and means to kill Bella and the baby, simply because they don't know what kind of creature Bella will give birth to. So the wolf pack is lurking around the Cullens' home, waiting for their chance to attack. Jacob, the true Alpha (remember, he declined and gave Sam the role) finally stands up to Sam, claiming his right as true Alpha of the wolf pack. He breaks away and Seth and Leah follow him, forming their own wolf pack. These three now protect the Cullen home from the other wolves. Tension! The CGI of the wolves was once again beautifully done; Although, I didn't like the scene where they were communicating in wolf form. For some reason I was reminded of the Power Rangers. But let's not go there.

Which brings us to the birth scene:
Yikes! So Bella drops her cup, bends to pick it up and the baby breaks her spine. Ouch! This scene was also very well done, very much like I had imagined it. Then comes the birth scene, which was filmed very weird but very effective. It kind of reminded me of the first Saw movie. So Rosalie gets blood crazy, literally gets thrown out of the room, and Edward (eventually) gets the baby out (by tearing Bella's skin with his teeth); Before the morphine even kicked in. Again, ouch. Welcome to the world Renesmee Cullen! Edward, completely taken with his daughter, doesn't realise that Bella is dying. Rosalie, now composed, takes the baby away and Edward and Jacob try to resuscitate Bella, who has flat-lined. Edward then slams a shot of his venom into Bella's heart ala adrenaline, and starts biting her all over her body to make the venom spread. Meanwhile, heartbroken over Bella's death, Jacob goes in search of Renesmee, to kill her. Only, when his eyes lock on hers, he imprints! That's right folks, Jacob Black loves Renesmee Cullen. I like the scene where her life flashes before his eyes, but I still find this relationship a little creepy.

At this stage the remaining Cullens return home from hunting, and the wolf pack finally attacks. This scene was also done really well, and it was really disturbing! It was awful to see them fight each other after having seen them fight together in Eclipse. Jacob now joins the fun and makes the big announcement. He has imprinted on Renesmee Cullen; Good news all round, since because Renesmee is Jacob's soul mate, the wolf pack can't harm her. The fight ends with everyone pretty much unharmed, and the wolves leave.

Meanwhile, back in the house Edward's venom starts to spread. This was one of my favourite scenes where Bella's life flashed before her eyes, and Bella's lullaby was playing. Again, a very nice touch. So as the venom spreads, Bella's body heals. Breaking Dawn Part 1 ended exactly as I thought it would. Bella opening her blood-red eyes.

I really enjoyed the movie, though I missed a part of it. Erika tells me that after the credits there is a little prelude to part 2 (thank you for that!) If, like me, you missed it,here it is:



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