Book Review: Touched by a Vampire ** Two Copies to Give Away**

Title: Touched by a Vampire– Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga

Author: Beth Felker Jones

Publisher’s Synopsis: EXAMINING TWILIGHT THROUGH A BIBLICAL LENS

People around the world are asking the same question, enraptured with Edward and Bella’s forbidden romance in the Twilight Saga, a four-book serial phenomenon written by Stephenie Meyer. The bestsellers tell the story of a regular girl’s relationship with a vampire who has chosen to follow his “good” side. But the Saga isn’t just another fantasy–it’s teaching girls about love, sex, and purpose. With 48 million copies in print and a succession of upcoming blockbuster films, now is the time to ask the important question: Can vampires teach us about God’s plan for love?

Touched by a Vampire is the first book to investigate the themes of the Twilight Saga from a Biblical perspective. Some Christian readers have praised moral principles illustrated in the story, such as premarital sexual abstinence, which align with Meyer’s Mormon beliefs. But ultimately, Beth Felker Jones examines whether the story’s redemptive qualities outshine its darkness.

Cautionary, thoughtful, and challenging, Touched by a Vampire is written for Twilight fans, parents, teachers, and pop culture enthusiasts. It includes an overview of the series for those unfamiliar with the storyline and a discussion guide for small groups.

 

I was so excited when I heard Multnomah was sending me this book to review.  Although I enjoyed the books to a point, I have my own concerns about them and wondered if this book would address them and possibly show me things I’d missed.  Fantasy is such a complex genre that I think it’s a little easier to blur the lines between appropriate and not sometimes.

 

First, I’d like to note that there is little in this book that I don’t agree with in principle.  Almost every concern the author raises, I agree with the principle behind it whole heartedly.  That’s very important to note because it’s going to look like I didn’t like the book or that I think Ms. Jones has too much time on her hands or something.  Neither is true.  (Well, I kind of hope she does have too much time on her hands.  I’d like her to teach me how that is done!)

 

My objection to her book only lies in perceptions.  When two people read the same book, they’re going to see things through different lenses.  (Give two people the same book by Michael or Debi Pearl and you’ll see what I mean!)  I’m not just talking the lens of Christ-filled or not, conservative or liberal, or similar things.  I’m talking about life experiences and personality.  Those things often make it seem like a Christian is weak or immature because they don’t see things the same as another person.  It took me years to understand that sometimes, it isn’t that at all.  It’s simply perception.

 

I’m not going to refute her take on the book point by point.  I don’t think it’s necessary.  I am only going to show the difference in perception of two readers.

 

Beth Felker Jones–  Ms. Jones sees the all-encompassing love that Bella has for Edward in these books as encouraged, portrayed as positive, and intended to be a model for what every girl does/should want.

 

Chautona Havig-  I saw the book as showing just how dangerous such ‘obsessiveness’ can be and where it can lead.  I saw it as a fact of the plot, but in no way encouraged.  It is a common thing for young teen girls to become wholeheartedly wrapped up in their current ‘crush’ and truly believe nothing can possibly part them.  I saw Meyer as taking that to its logical conclusion and showing the heartache that comes with it without turning the book into a moralistic lesson rather than a semi-fairytale.  (Which I think is what she intended it to be.)

 

I’m not saying that I don’t think anyone read the book and came away with a desire for a “love like Bella and Edward’s”.  Actually, I’m sure they did.  However, the subtitle of tis book is “Discovering the hidden messages in the Twilight Saga.”  The message I got is 100% opposite from the message Ms. Jones got.

 

I agree, without any reservation, with her contention that obsessive, all-encompassing love in real life for anything or anyone other than JESUS is wrong.  I don’t quibble there.  I just disagree that the book even glorifies it.  I saw it (and I think my girls did as well) as a sad commentary on a lonely girl who grew up without a father’s influence in her life.

 

Where I did completely agree with the author is in that this series, while written and marketed to the young adult market) is really too sensual for most teenagers.  Honestly, had I read the third book first, I would not have allowed one of my girls to read it.  It was too sensual for me and I’m married!  I think a lot of Christian parents knew that Meyer was a Mormon and given the Mormon’s reputation for morality, trusted her too implicitly with their children’s reading material.  Others, like me, saw the sensuality in the first and second book as a bit much, but decided it was something their child could handle and didn’t realize how much it was going to increase in the third book.

 

So, to be quite frank, I was so excited to read this book and then was a little disappointed.  I was not disappointed with the content in so much as what she sees as important for Christians.  What she has to say about our world view is spot on.  I’m applaud her for tackling it and tackling it so well.  Unfortunately, I don’t see that her points, in so much as they relate to the Meyer books, are solid.

 

Read the book.  I seriously think it encourages us to look at what we read and what we watch and what messages we’re sending to ourselves and our children in our choices.  She does that beautifully.  But, if you are looking for a book that warns others about the dangers you see in the Twilight books, keep looking.  Anyone who has read the books will either agree with her completely, or shred her arguments point by point.  As usual, I did a little of both.

 

I have two copies of this book to give away.  Truthfully, I almost kept one for myself, but decided I just don’t have the bookshelf space even for a skinny book like this.  My thanks to Multnomah for their generosity.

Book Review: Thirsty **Win a FREE Copy**

Title: Thirsty

Author: Tracey Bateman

Publisher’s Synopsis: There’s no place like home, they say.
“Hello, I’m Nina Parker…and I’m an alcoholic.”
For Nina, it’s not the weighty admission but the first steps toward recovery that prove most difficult. She must face her ex-husband, Hunt, with little hope of making amends, and try to rebuild a relationship with her angry teenage daughter, Meagan. Hardest of all, she is forced to return to Abbey Hills, Missouri, the hometown she abruptly abandoned nearly two decades earlier–and her unexpected arrival in the sleepy Ozark town catches the attention of someone–or something–igniting a two-hundred-fifty-year-old desire that rages like a wildfire.

Unaware of the darkness stalking her, Nina is confronted with a series of events that threaten to unhinge her sobriety. Her daughter wants to spend time with the parents Nina left behind. A terrifying event that has haunted Nina for almost twenty years begins to surface. And an alluring neighbor initiates an unusual friendship with Nina, but is Markus truly a kindred spirit or a man guarding dangerous secrets?

As everything she loves hangs in the balance, will Nina’s feeble grasp on her demons be broken, leaving her powerless against the thirst? The battle between redemption and obsession unfold to its startling, unforgettable end.

When I got the invitation to review a vampire book for Multnomah, well let’s just say I was intrigued.  There are a couple of things you should know.

1.  The only vampire fiction I’ve ever read was the Twilight Saga.

2.  I don’t intend to make a habit of reading vampire fiction.  It’s just not my thing, and from what I understand, most isn’t of the ‘don’t murder humans’ variety.  I’m not going to start rooting for creatures that kill people.  Sorry.  Not happening.  That’s a little like fish cheering on the guy with the hook in the water.

So, with that in mind, I opened this book with a bit of trepidation.  Had I made the right decision?  Was it fair to the publisher to review a book that I knew I probably wouldn’t purchase?  Or, was I possibly a needed balance in a world that is a bit obsessed with the whole genre right now?

First of all, true vampire aficionados will not like her take on the whole vampire thing.  It leans more toward Meyer and less toward Dracula (at least from what I understand Dracula to be about.  I haven’t read it so this is just my possibly wrong understanding).  Unlike Meyer, the vampire(s) of Bateman’s book are born that way (more Harry Potterish than Meyerish) and you get a stronger sense of danger even though you (like Meyer) do trust him.

Now, before I get blasted for comparing everything to Meyer as if she is the standard of the vampire genre when it’s been around for years and she’s pretty much created her own world (which I personally think is the appeal) please remember, she is all I  have to compare it to.  I haven’t read any other and don’t intend to.  So, when I compare to Meyer it is only becuase that’s the only thing I can compare to– sorry vampire die hards… if you even read this blog.  (Kind of doubt that).

The best part of this book was that while it is technically a “vampire novel”, two-thirds of it has nothing to do with the vampire(s) at all.  It has a plot, standing alone, and it’s a good one.  I loved how Ms. Bateman really worked hard to let us see into the heart of the main female character and see her flaws for the raw ugliness that they were, and the virtues that her own sin-filled life hadn’t completely stamped out.

I loved that it didn’t have a “neat and tidy” ending, and yet it was still satisfying.  There was no “happily ever after” so to speak but there was a promise of a real life for real people and in a way that made me stand up and cheer.

There were so many layers to this plot that it’s hard to write about without giving away too much of it.  I will say, I think this is the kind of book that those who avoid vampire novels will enjoy anyway because of how it is written and how that part of the plot is dealt with.  I also think that Meyer fans won’t see it as a “copycat” and would enjoy it.  As for those who loved the original genre before the advent of Twilight, well, my guess is that this wouldn’t offend their vampirish sensibilities either.  Somehow Ms. Bateman has managed to bridge her novel very nicely– probably because she didn’t glamorize vampirism in any way and because she did show one to be a semi-sympathetic character.  It is hard to balance, but she did it well.

Multnomah gave me a copy to review and I’m passing it along to share the ‘thirst’.  Sorry, couldn’t resist.  Just post a comment and you’ll be entered.

Now I’m curious… can anyone tell me what the appeal of vampire novels is?  I understand the appeal of Twilight as a specific set of books.  What I don’t understand is the appeal of the genre itself.  Anyone care to enlighten me?