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[contains much squeeing and some Breaking Dawn theories]

Yesterday I commented to a friend that in a way, so little has changed since adolescence – swap school for work and you have the same hierarchies, the rules that occasionally seem arbitrary but you follow anyway, and how much have our friendships really changed? We’re all still trying to navigate the world, with only music and tv and literature to warn and advise us about what’s coming and how we’re supposed to feel about it, there’s still the same parental advice that we still don’t follow. Perhaps this explains my continued love of Y.A lit – my circumstances may have changed, but my way of relating to them hasn’t really. I still identify with Polly O’Keefe, with Nanda Grey and Alanna of Trebond, with countless other heroines who are ten years younger than me but still have my thoughts written in their pages.

All the same, I still feel slightly ashamed for being quite so excited about the release of Breaking Dawn, the fourth and apparently final installment in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. I’ve blogged about my issues with Meyer’s writing in the past, but that doesn’t stop me concocting theories(see below) like the fifteen-year-old fangirl that I secretly still am. And of course, I have just discovered that it comes out two days earlier in the US than anywhere else. If I’d known, I’d have pre-ordered it, but it was probably too late. Thanks a lot, universe.

Twilight Ravings of a Madwoman (a.k.a ‘what Kaite thinks will happen in Breaking Dawn’)

Disclaimer: I’m a Bella/Jacob shipper rather than Bella/Edward, but I really think that girl needs to be single for a good long while.

  • To bloodsuck or not to bloodsuck? Bella will oh dear god please change her mind about getting vamped, realise Edward isn’t right for her, and hook up with Jacob only to have him decided that he needs to go and realise his werewolf destiny alone.
  • Mortal peril: Victoria will play a major role, hence the red queen on the cover, and Bella will realise that she could very well end up like that if she carries on with her REALLY REALLY stupid plan of becoming a vampire. I guess she might end up working with the Italian vampire posse in order to bring Bella down for not keeping her part of their arrangement. 
  • Body count: Edward MIGHT die, sacrificing himself for Bella, but if he does then I think Bella will have accepted it beforehand and hopefully not be as much of a mess as she was in <i>New Moon</i>.  Jasper and/or Rosalie will die, possibly Carlisle, as well as Seth Clearwater and one of Jacob’s closer friends.
  • Friends, enemies and others: Angela may play a bigger role – but if she does, I’m not sure I see her surviving – and I can see Mike and Jess stumbling around, getting in the middle of things without having any idea what’s going on. Lauren will possibly (inadvertantly?) lead Victoria to Bella and the Cullens. 
  • Family stuff: Bella’s mother will probably reappear in person instead of the odd email and phone call. I kind of really want her parents to get back together as well.
  • Heading off into the sunset: I’d put money on the novel ending with her going off to some Ivy League college, but I’m not sure she’d leave all the supernatural stuff behind her. Maybe she’ll end up sort of following her in father’s footsteps and becoming either a cop with the inside track on the supernatural, or joining some kind of Torchwood/Angel Investigations-type team, occasionally running into Jacob.
  • Please, Stephenie Meyer: I want an awesome ending for Alice, but who knows? She’s on my ‘might well die’ list as well.
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The Sunday Salon.com

It seems to have taken me several days to finish this one – strange, given that it’s a fairly short novel and a re-read. I’d managed to forget the event that the whole novel leads up to and then reveals, but then discovered that…well, it was pretty forgettable. As well as out-of-character, gratuitous and rather anticlimactic. Had the scene been longer and more detailed, perhaps I’d have gotten more out of it than a faint sense of dissatisfaction.

WARNING: SPOILERS LURK BENEATH!

Polyhymnia O’Keefe, a brilliant seventeen year old staying alone in Athens and being romanced by a wealthy boy a few years her senior, reflects back on the previous year and her intense friendship with the enigmatic, intelligent Maximiliana, and Max’s lover Ursula. Something happened to shatter Polly’s trust in Max and, though L’Engle throws a few red herrings about, it’s not hard to guess what it was. In addition, I couldn’t help feeling that Polly overreacted hideously and that she needed to gain some perspective and stop being such a brat. Which doesn’t excuse Max’s actions, just that her motivations are glossed over so much that she seems like a caricature in that scene and it’s hard to identify the out-of-control creature who raves drunkenly and tries ineptly to make a pass at her friend and daughter-figure, with the wise, benevolent women carrying around more than her fair share of dark secrets but refusing to be weighed down by them.

END OF SPOILERS! HURRAH!

Apparently this is part of a series, and I’ve been told by friends that it’s the weakest book in the O’Keefe saga. I’d certainly like to read more – the family intrigues me and, despite the flaws she shows in this book, I like Polly as a central character. I’ve currently got a long list of books to get thorough, however, including Ann Patchett’s The Magician’s Assistant which is apparently so good that my girlfriend refused to part with it until she had bought another copy. Please bear in mind that we live in the same house. Then I want to finish Winifred Holtby’s The Crowded Streets, read Lessing’s The Golden Notebook and re-read Calvino’s On a Winter’s Night a Traveller, which I first read in Japan four years ago and has stayed with me ever since as a utterly brilliant novel.

But today it is a hot, sunny day, and I have gardening to do.

note: this review does not contain spoilers, but may be triggery for rape or abuse survivors.

I’ve had an insanely busy week at work, so the only book I’ve read this week has been Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, a novel about Melinda, a girl starting high school, drifting apart from her old friends and gradually refusing to talk. It was an impulse buy, after a fashion – I mistook it for another book, didn’t check the back cover, and it wasn’t until I was on the Tube that I realised my mistake. I’m also pretty much exhausted, so this is going to be a very brief review.

Melinda is a social outcast after calling the police at a party over the summer. Her former best friends are no longer speaking to her, and her parents’ marriage is falling apart. Her grades are slipping in everything but art, and she gets persistant flashbacks to an event she only refers to as ‘IT’. It becomes clear that she was assaulted at the party over the summer by an older, popular boy at her new school, but hasn’t told anyone. Her gradual acceptance of (and anger at) what happened is convincing, and that is what makes it at times an uncomfortable book to read. It also encapsulates the bitchy, cliquey nature of adolescence, and the sacrifices teenagers feel that they have to make in order to maintain their place in the social pecking order. It should probably be required reading for teenagers, given that it so accurately sums up the complicated sexual politics and even more complicated social hierarchy that develops as you grow up.

Although I found the ending somewhat anticlimactic – it looked like it was going to be promising and I enjoyed Melinda’s character development, but the final confrontation felt staged and the resolution seemed uncertain – overall I really enjoyed it.

In other news, this might be the most adorable reaction EVER to seeing copies of your own book.

Now I know that this is my third post, and so you haven’t had a chance to thoroughly assess my reading preferences yet. However, I have a £20 book token and want you to tell me how I should spend it.

I’m open to any genre – especially Y.A, fantasy, literary fiction and biography. I tend to read a lot of 19th C novels, books with an LGBT slant, and anything from or about the 1920s. I’m fussy about my poetry, but I’ll try anything once. Love short stories – I’ve been meaning to invest in Katherine Mansfield’s, so maybe that should go on my list. Don’t suggest anything about the bloody Mitfords, though, because I’ve been on a glut lately and can probably recite their entire histories. Which isn’t difficult in the case of Unity – was born into crazy family, became a Nazi, tried to shoot self in head and failed, sparked rumours of carrying Hitler’s love-child, died on remote Scottish island. Unity actually gets a little sympathy from me, since she was obviously a bit messed up – Diana deserved everything she got, quite frankly. I got their collected letters from Daddy and I’m loving them, but after that, Nancy et al and me are taking a break.

I’m thinking of Libba Bray, since I haven’t read any of the Great and Terrible Beauty series, and something by Cecil Castellucci if I can find her books in the UK. However, I am absolutely desperate for recommendations since all I have with me is non-fiction and I’ve OD’d on that lately. Since I’m working on a Y.A project right now, that’s what I’m leaning towards. Although I wanted to read Mrs Woolf and the Servants, which would probably Improve My Mind a little more. Failing that, maybe Edith Wharton, Evelyen Waugh, or P.G Wodehouse for some frivolity.

 Expect a post on the Mitford’s letters, one on Germaine Greer’s Shakespeare’s Wife, and one on Nigella Express, since they were my Christmas haul.

Off to watch Ballet Shoes now, and although I can’t remember much about the original book, I have an urge to re-read Noel Streatfeild.