Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book Review of #1 Bird and Fish by Adrienne Leslie

Name of Book: Bird and Fish

Author: Adrienne Leslie

ISBN: 978-1-4196-9192-8

Publisher: Perhaps an Indie publisher? Booksurge

Part of a Series: Bird and Fish duology; sequel Sea and Sky

Type of book: interracial relationship, Asian male/white female, Korean, Korean drama, New York, 2006

Year it was published: 2007

Summary:

A bird and fish may fall in love but where will they live? Wendy Dale quietly shoulders her exhausting family demands: her daughter's battle with Crohn's disease, her husband's laissez-faire approach to their crumbling marriage and a self-absorbed mother grown more demanding after a series of strokes. By becoming an aging girly-girl, Wendy stifles her authentic self in clearance rack shopping, Martha Stewart housekeeping and smoothing the daily friction between black, white and Asian students who jockey for school control. Taking no joy from teaching or homemaking, the teacher longs simply to write a children's story honoring her father's unusual legacy.

Curmudgeon Hyun Jae Won is hiding in America. Talked into starting anew after the suicide of his parent approved wife, the artist turned entrepreneur seeks anonymity until the red-haired teacher unhinges his solitude by stumbling into his shop after her cell phone announces her diagnosis of cancer.

Forming a kinship for their dreams, Jae Won and Wendy soon discover while growing up over 6,000 miles apart they are more alike than different. As if tied by the mythical Red String, they must battle Korean and American relatives, unscrupulous art dealers and well-meaning friends. The couple will travel 200 miles from Manhattan's hurly burly Upper East Side to the pristine fishing grounds of upstate New York and back to the city's biggest borough strengthening their bond till Jae's fate calls him back to Seoul.

Bird and Fish daubs infidelity, passion, cancer survival and re-birth with the vibrancy of a Minhwah watercolor on a New York autumn canvas.

Characters:

The characters fall on the flat side, that is nothing changes about them and they don't emote properly. I also don't believe that they're in love. Wendy Dale is extremely irritating as a character and despite what she says at the end, I have a hard time trusting her opinions and words. Why is she irritating? Again she strikes me as Miss Mary Sue who balances everything from watching Korean dramas to being a good teacher and mother, etc. etc. very unrealistic in my opinion. As mentioned before, I also don't buy her love towards Hyun Jae Won. At the end of a chapter, he holds her hand and instant love! Umm, it doesn't work that way. Today not many people believe in that kind of love. Heck, the classical novels are ones that have long term loves. Hyun Jae Won is a little too Americanized. I was with a Korean guy, and he was way different; he showed his care for me through actions rather than words. The characters are interesting, its just that the writer seemed to have no idea how to execute them properly thus we have a hodge-podge of everything.

Theme:

Love changes everything.

Plot:

The author wasn't sure what she wanted her book to be about so she threw everything popular or what people can relate to; looking for good clothes? Check the book. Looking for a guide towards New York:? Check the book. Looking for popular Korean dramas? Check the book. Like philosophy? Check the book.Unfortunately in the end the book becomes very unmanageable and thus for me it becomes ruined. It seemed more of a bubble pop book rather than something that I can thoroughly enjoy. It is written in third person omniscient point of view, yes, even with pointless secondary characters that have no bearing to the story.

Author Information:

(from adrienneleslie.com)


Adrienne Leslie was raised in New York’s ethnic mélange called Brownville, Brooklyn.  The first born in a large extended family, she was more comfortable in the company of adults than playmates. She attended New York City public schools till high school when dramatic changes in Leslie’s family’s economic status placed her in the exclusive Eron Preparatory School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The easy life was short lived with the sudden death of her father. Using her tenacity to keep her family intact, Leslie graduated CW Post College earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Master of Science degree in Reading
In 1990, she began teaching advanced English classes in Little Neck when the Asian-American student population became the largest in the district.  As a way to connect with her students, she kept up with the latest Korean melodramas which quickly grew into her own passion.

She is a self-taught Korean speaker and writer and has worked tirelessly for the Korean American educational community.  An award winning grant writer, she was named English Educator of Excellence for the state of New York in 1996 and in 2003 was invited by the South Korean government as New York’s educational ambassador.  Soon after, she wrote of her experiences for The Korea Times.

Often appearing on Korean television and radio both in the US and Korea, she recently enjoyed a season on Radio Korea as ‘The English Teacher.’  Leslie’s newly completed, Sea and Sky, the second of the stories in her Bird and Fish Trilogy is due out in 2010. As an insomniac who writes in the predawn hours, Ms. Leslie lives in eastern Queens with her husband and family dog.


Opinion:

It is very sad that I have to give this book 0 stars. I have already stated in this article what are the problems with the book: no warning of point of view changes, no chemistry between the characters, Miss Mary Sue irritating the hell out of me with her constant makeup and clothes and everyone thinking how she's la creme de la creme. (If the author could have authentically explored her personality, perhaps I might not have given such a low grade...) I am thinking that this book will not be known in twenty years. Why? Because of constant labels. Twenty years from now, TVs and all will be the age of dinosaurs. Clothes will exist (obviously) but there will be different popular companies. Also, the dramas that are mentioned there will be replaced by other Korean dramas and the old ones will no longer be remembered. (Perhaps Winter Sonata will be remembered as the one that started it all, but others no.)

0 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Review of #1 Mother Earth, Father Sky by Sue Harrison

Name of Book: Mother Earth Father Sky

Author: Sue Harrison

ISBN: 0-380-71592-9

Publisher: Avon Fiction

Part of a Series: Ivory Carver Trilogy, My sister the moon, Brother wind are sequels

Type of book: Pre-historic, Aleut, Alaska, coming of age, 7056-7055 B.C.E, stories, legends

Year it was published: 1990

Summary:

In a frozen time before history, in a harsh and beautiful land near the top of the world, womanhood comes cruelly and suddenly to beautiful, young Chagak. Surviving the brutal massacre of her tribe, she sets out across the icy waters off America's northwest coast on an astonishing odyssey that will reveal to Chagak power secrets of the earth and sky...and the mysteries of love and loss.

Characters:

The character of Chagak is drawn realistically, especially when she is struggling with herself and what the society demands from her. It also shows Kayugh who also has lost everything but yet he keeps on going strong, and eventually succeeds. Much to mine relief as well is that Shuganan, who's an old man, doesn't take Chagak as a wife, although she wants him to, and both have a granddaughter and grandfather relationship, he trying to help her and eventually giving her to Kayugh.

Theme:

"It is what Shuganan wanted me to understand, Chagak thought. That there would be another beginning. Another and another. For each ending a beginning. For every death, new life." (384, Mother Earth Father Sky)

Plot:

This was in third person omniscient point of view from Chagak's, Shuganan's and Kayugh's points of view. Although the writer doesn't use spaces, but she does devote a number of paragraphs to the character that is talking before moving on and the book didn't strike me as confusing at all.

Author Information:

(from sueharrison.com)
Sue Harrison is the author of six critically acclaimed and internationally bestselling novels. Mother Earth Father Sky, My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind make up The Ivory Carver Trilogy, an epic adventure set in prehistoric Alaska. Song of the River, Cry of the Wind and Call Down the Stars comprise The Storyteller Trilogy. Sue’s young adult book, SISU, was released by Thunder Bay Press .

Sue Harrison was born in Lansing, Michigan. The first of five children, she was raised in the town of Pickford in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where she lives with her husband, a retired high school principal. They are blessed with a daughter and a son, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

A graduate of Pickford High School, Harrison graduated summa cum laude from Lake Superior State University with a B.A. in English Language and Literature. She was named Lake Superior State University’s Distinguished Alumna in 1992, and served eight years on the university’s Board of Regents.

Harrison’s first novel, Mother Earth Father Sky, was published in 1990 by Doubleday (hardcover) and Avon (paperback). It was nominated in the states of Michigan and Washington for the Reader’s Choice Award among high school students, and was one of ten books chosen for “Battle of the Books,” a statewide student reading competition in Alaska. The novel as had success in both the adult and young adult markets, and was a national bestseller. It was selected by the American Library Association as one of 1991′s Best Books for Young Adults.

Harrison’s second novel, My Sister the Moon, (Doubleday/Avon 1992) has also received recognition by reading and school groups throughout the United States and was a Baker and Taylor top ten in library sales. Both Mother Earth Father Sky and My Sister the Moon were Main Selections of the Literary Guild Book Club and alternate selections of the Doubleday Book Club. Brother Wind, Harrison’s third novel was released in hardcover by William Morrow, October 1994, and in 1995 as an Avon paperback. The novel was chosen as an alternate selection by both the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs. Song of the River and Cry of the Wind were both published by Avon Hardcover/Avon paperback, a division of Hearst Books. The third book of The Storyteller Trilogy, Call down the stars was published by Morrow/Avon in 2001 and 2002. It was featured alternate of the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs.

Harrison’s books have also been published in Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Spain, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Japan, France, Finland, and South America.

Harrison is represented by Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary. She is currently writing women’s contempory fiction for the inspirational market.

Opinion:

I really enjoyed reading this book and learning about the life near Alaska thousands and thousands of years ago. I also liked the way Chagak was drawn, that is how she struggles with trying to let herself love Kayugh and trying to move on. Kayugh also contains realism and we as readers see him do his best with his family and wives. It's also interesting to learn that they saw Aurora Borealis as somewhere where the dead go to after death. The life there seems slow and also changes very little. What I was curious about was the statue Shuganan made for Chagak, and who the man was. Perhaps in the next book? I think that its' a good story to read for those who have lost all because it does give hope in the end.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Part XI: Bird and Fish, comprehensive criticism

One of the saddest things in life of someone who loves reading is a book that has the right markings for enjoyment, yet when it comes to reading it, falls flat on its face and doesn't get up. Let's say it this way; imagine coming across a turtle that is lying on its back, its feet waving helplessly in the air. Being a good citizen, you help the turtle, only to watch it return on its back, giving you an evil eye and continuing to wave the legs helplessly in the air. Several times you do this, and several times the turtle defies you. Eventually you grow incredibly frustrated, throw your hands up in the air and walk away, somehow hoping that the next poor soul will not fall into its trap. That was my experience with the book, yet instead of saying 'forget it' I stupidly thought 'oh it will get better...I mean everyone else was giving it high marks.' Sadly enough, it never got better, at least for me. There are many things I didn't like about it, and there will be a lot to cover. But before doing that, I will mention positive things about the book: one thing is that its an Asian male/white female story, or Korean male/ white female story, another is that it does seem as if the author has some sort of talent for writing. The last thing is that it really got me questioning on how to create the chemistry between the leads and why this book didn't work. With that out of the way, let's begin with negative things.

In some cases I will be willing to overlook technical mistakes such as a misspelled word or an instance of forgetting the quotation marks. But this is one case where I can't overlook technical things. I will type some paragraphs up to show how the book was written, which is its greatest weakness:

(From pages 49-50)

"The enchanted children hadn't guessed this was a classic pre-reading activity. Find out what they know then learn what they need to know. In this case, they needed to know how Marullus and Flavius learned that the two commoners were a carpenter and cobbler. Scene i would take the whole period. The language was new to them and none of them knew what a cobbler was.

A Chopin Mazurka began. The children left the room reasonably clean for the next class. 6A2 would have to be appeased with the last of the Midgees, since the kitchen crew was now busily  preparing for the lunch crowd. The jokes were the same as was the laughter. Julius Caesar conquered yet another world. This class boasted a round-faced comedian named Kenny Han who called out "Hambok" when asked what Romans wore. Wendy Dale laughed with the class. Her Jane would have done something like that. The class ended with only Ms. Dale knowing that Marullus and Flavius were doomed. "

The author also forgets about something called transition words which help with smoothing over any bumps, helping the reader to be interested in the story. You have to look for transition within the paragraphs and even then you might miss them. Here's example of transition from my own story, Silent Love Part I

"
He watches her from afar, the umbrella in his hand as it rained. The raindrops ran down her unprotected face, creating streak of tears. Late afternoon sun peeked out, almost shy and hesitant in breaking the reverie between the two. The clouds were of white hue, the unexpected summer rain. The smell of earth invaded his nostrils, reinvigorating him in body and soul.
Don’t be sad, he thinks to himself as he looks towards her. He just wants to make sure that she will be all right, his final goodbye. Silently he tries to send messages towards her, hoping against hope that she’ll receive them and will understand what he cannot express in words. Don’t be sad, he repeats the message inside, please remember the happy times you and I have had; the time I told you rabbit living on the moon stories, the time I taught you to use chopsticks and how to eat bimbibap.
All this time had passed, countless years, yet I cannot say these words in my heart. I know that you might think I have no feelings for you, but it’s not true. I wish you could understand more of my culture, but you cannot, and there are things that I cannot find words for in your tongue to express.
The present image faded, no longer there in front of him, but instead the history unfolded, how he first came over to a public school, and silent with humiliation of not knowing English. He remembered the strange tongue washing over him, drowning him. Students were all over, talking incessantly, even when the teacher arrived to teach. His culture had not prepared him for American life. Back in his homeland, the students would show more respect towards teacher, more value, but here the teachers were treated like trash."  
 
As if transition words aren't bad enough. there is no warning when point of view switches from Wendy to Hyun Jae Won. I also don't buy the "true love" between them. For me there's no rumbling of the storm, no crackling of thunder, and a long jagged bolt hitting the ground, blinding everyone around it. For me, there's NOTHING like that! Basically, he likes her because he's told to like her. Also, I didn't appreciate being reminded of the book being like a Korean drama. Yes, I get it already. I also couldn't stand Miss Mary Sue a.k.a Wendy Dale being perfect in everything. Reading this book was like watching a Korean drama I couldn't stand such as Winter Sonata or Boys Before Flowers. (I would have liked Winter Sonata if it had a few more conflicts besides the obvious ones.) Also I never liked or appreciated the constant clothing labels as well as pointless drama references in there. I wanted more story rather than what Miss Mary Sue wore everyday. (No kidding either.) It would help as well if Ms. Leslie could make a glossary of Korean words she uses in the book, because I didn't know a lot of them. 

This book is written for a very very selective group of people; who? New Yorkers who love watching Korean dramas such as Pure 19, Winter Sonata, Goong, etc. In other words, dramas that I cannot stand. (Korean dramas that I enjoyed are The Devil, Resurrection, Eyes of Dawn, Sandglass, Bad Family,) I also have never been to New York so of course that alienates me even more. That normally wouldn't be a problem because I don't care about setting and often ignore it, but when she talks of specific places in the book, it creates a wall between someone who lives in Texas and someone who is from New York. (What's wrong with simply saying she's going to a hospital where they take care of breast cancer or something like that? There are plenty of people that never been to New York!) 

Also, many Korean men do not watch Korean dramas. I used to date a Korean guy, yet he doesn't watch Korean dramas. He, instead, introduced me to some Korean movies that he enjoyed such as The Classic, Art Museum by the Zoo, and loved a Korean variety TV show called Chattering of Beauties. 

Book Review of #2 The Crab Flower Club by Xueqin Cao

Name of Book: The Crab-Flower Club Vol II of The Story of the Stone

Author: Xueqin Cao

ISBN: 0-14-044326-6

Publisher: Penguin classics

Part of a Series: Story of the Stone Vols I-V

Type of book: Adult, China in 18th century, Manchu rule, one of Chinese classics

Year it was published: 1760? (The Version I have, 1977)

Summary:

The Story of the Stone (c 1760 A.D>) is the great novel of manners in Chinese literature. Divided into five volumes, of which The Crab-Flower Club is the second, it charts the glory and decline of the illustrious Jia family (a story which closely accords with the fortunes of the author's own family). THe two main characters, Bao-yu and Dai-yu, are set against a rich tapestry of humor, realistic detail and delicate poetry which accurately reflects the ritualized hurly-burly of Chinese family life. But over and above the novel hangs the constant reminder that there is another plane of existence-a theme which affirms the Buddhist belief in a supernatural scheme of things.

Characters:

At first Dai-yu and Bao-Chai seem to hate one another, but later on they seem to either become good friends or to tolerate one another. Bao-yu and Dai-yu also argue and fight all the time it seems. Although on goodreads.com people discuss that they were in love, for some odd reason I didn't pick that up in all honesty. (Well, until the author mentioned it anyways.) but even then, the story had much more going on than just a simple love story; there are visits, there is poetry club and the poems, there are festivals and parties throughout the book, there is also day to day affairs and the management of the large household.

Theme:

I would guess that the theme would be women's struggles in China, how some of them are voiceless and do not have a choice in marriage partner. (One of the maids, Faithful, is constantly being pushed to marry someone much older than she, but in the end, thanks to Grandmother Jia's interference, she doesn't marry.)

Plot:

This is written in third person omniscient point of view and it isn't set on any particular characters. The points of view that the readers gets are ones from maids, the main characters, etc. Although the book can stand on its own, it might be best to read The Golden Days before jumping into this one because this book has multiple characters and also a resolution to the previous book. I'm only on Volume III, but I think this might be important; the author begins to give hints that all is not right with money in the family.

Author Information:

Almost no records of Cao's early childhood and adulthood survive. Redology scholars are still debating Cao's exact date of birth, though he is known to be around forty to fifty at his death. Cao was the son of either Cao Fu or Cao Yong. It is known for certain that Cao Yong's only son was born posthumously in 1715; some Redologists believe this son might be Cao Xueqin.

Most of what we know about Cao was passed down from his contemporaries and friends. Cao eventually settled in the western suburbs of Beijing where he lived the larger part of his later years in poverty selling off his paintings. Cao was recorded as an inveterate drinker. Friends and acquaintances recalled an intelligent, highly talented man who spent a decade working diligently on a work that must have been Dream of the Red Chamber. They praised both his stylish paintings, particularly of cliffs and rocks, and originality in poetry, which they likened to Li He's. Cao died some time in 1763 or 1764, leaving his novel in a very advanced stage of completion. (The first draft had been completed, some pages of the manuscript were lost after being borrowed by friends or relatives, but Cao apparently had not finished a final version.) He was survived by a wife after the death of a son.

Cao achieved posthumous fame through his life's work. The novel, written in "blood and tears", as a commentator friend said, is a vivid recreation of an illustrious family at its height and its subsequent downfall. A small group of close family and friends appears to have been transcribing his manuscript when Cao died quite suddenly in 1763-4, apparently out of grief owing to the death of a son. Extant handwritten copies of this work – some 80 chapters – had been in circulation in Beijing shortly after Cao's death and scribal copies soon became prized collectors' items.

In 1791, Cheng Weiyuan (程偉元) and Gao E (高鶚), who claimed to have access to Cao's working papers, published a "complete", edited a 120-chapter version. This is its first moveable type print edition. Reprinted a year later with more revisions, this 120-chapter edition is the novel's most printed version. Modern scholars generally think the authorship of the 1791 ending – the last 40 chapters – to be in doubt. (From Wikipedia)


Opinion:

While the previous 26 chapters in The Golden Days focused more on plot and on sort of introducing the Jia family, chapters 27-53, the second book, delve more into the details and day to day life and affairs of the family. This also gives more character description and personalities such as Dai-yu being at odds with everyone, of Bao-chai being the cheerful one, the whole family showing off their giving spirit to various people, of the elegance and intelligence of the women when they create Poetry Club, and the domineering Grandmother Jia as she stands up for a maid of hers and to her son for his treatment of Bao-yu and also adopts a cousin of Bao-chai.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Name of Book: Caddie Woodlawn

Author: Carol Ryrie Brink

ISBN: 0-02-041880-9

Publisher: Collier Books

Type of book: Wisconsin, 1864-1865, tomboy, family, women vs men

Year it was published: 1935

Summary:

 "In 1864 Caddie Woodlawn was eleven, and as wild a little tomboy as ever ran the woods of western Wisconsin. She was the despair of her mohter and of her elder sister Clara. But her father watched her with a little shine of pride in his eyes, and her brothers accepted her as one of themselves without a question."

So begins an exciting story about a girl who would rather hunt than sew, rather plow than bake. THis prize-winning book tells of the escapades of Caddie and her six brothers and sisters, of a schoolhouse fire, of pranks played on a city-slicker cousin, of an amazing discovery in an old trunk. And when the Indians threaten to massacre the settlers, it is Caddie's courage and quick thinking that save her family and their neighbors. Caddie's adventures on the frontier a century ago seem real to readers today, and most of them really happened. The author, the granddaughter of the real Caddie Woodlawn, based the book on true stories of pioneer days she heard her grandmother tell.

Characters:

Caddie is drawn as a third dimensional character that changes over time. Her brothers, Tom and Warren also possess interesting qualities and characteristics, that is they are not used as simply props. Tom has more description and admiration from Caddie than Warren does. Father and Mother seem to be two dimensional characters and they do not go through personality changes. The sister, Hetty, also slightly changes. The other siblings, Clara, Minnie and Joe are not described well and aren't given any spotlight.

Theme:

Although there are numerous resolutions to the problems, I think the main struggle that was faced with Caddie and others in a family is a struggle of growing up, of Caddie to trying to transition into becoming more ladylike than she used to be.

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from Caddie's point of view about the life. Sometimes the chapters didn't seem to be finished, but the author does try to keep the readers informed about where they are and what is going on. I do wish that she could have expanded a little more on how civil war affected Wisconsin.

Author Information:

born
December 28, 1895 in Moscow, Idaho, The United States

died
August 15, 1981

genre
Children's Books, Literature & Fiction


About this author

Born Caroline Ryrie, American author of over 30 juvenile and adult books. Her novel Caddie Woodlawn won the 1936 Newbery Medal.

Brink was orphaned by age 8 and raised by her maternal grandmother, the model for Caddie Woodlawn. She started writing for her school newspapers and continued that in college. She attended the University of Idaho for three years before transferring to the University of California in 1917, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1918, the same year she married.

Anything Can Happen on the River, Brink's first novel, was published in 1934. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Idaho in 1965. Brink Hall, which houses the UI English Department and faculty offices, is named in her honor. The children's section of the Moscow, ID Carnegie public library is also named after her. (from goodreads.com)

Opinion:

Overall it's an enjoyable novel and it's an interesting contrast to Little House books. I would guess that Laura in Little House books wanted to be as tomboyish as Caddie, but she never was. Caddie was always encouraged to be tomboyish, she also was very close to her father who encouraged her to be wild, and at the same time never seemed to push her to be a lady. When the time was right, Caddie transitioned on her own on being a lady, learning some crafts and skills she never liked before. The relationship she had with her brothers was also interesting, because Tom and Warren always made her feel as if she belonged with them, even going so far as to transition with Caddie. I can imagine that the table and whatnot when it was filled with children tended to be fun and boisterous. The parents also weren't extremely strict and children always had a voice in decision making, while Laura from Little House books seemed to be complete opposite. There are parts that I did dislike though. I wasn't comfortable with the fact that the Native American character in the book spoke very Peter Pan, as in referring to himself in third person, and also I did not like words such as half-breed that was used in the book. Still though, I think the Native American characters are drawn in a more positive manner, that is when Caddie visits them, she sees everyday ordinary life and not savagery she expects.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #1 White Tigress by Jade Lee

Name of book: White Tigress

Author: Jade Lee

ISBN: 0-8439-5393-4

Publisher: Leisure

Part of a Series: Tigress Sextet. Sequels: Hungry Tigress, Cornered Tigress, Burning Tigress, Desperate Tigress, Tempted Tigress

Type of book: Adult, China, Asian male/white female relationship, 1857-1897

Year it was published: 2005

Summary:

The Dragon: the Chinese symbol of maleness, virility, power.
The Tiger: feminity, fortune, desire.
Two symbols. Two people. One all-consuming passion.

Englishwoman Lydia Smith sailed to the Orient seeking her fiance. She found treachery instead. In seedy Shanghai, she was drugged, sold, and made a slave to a dark-eyed dragon of a man. But while her captor purchased her body, was that what he truly sought? He demanded not her virginity but her yin-the essence of her ecstasy-and there seemed no choice ubt to consent. What harm, Lydia wondered, was there in allowing him to pleasure her, to teach her, until she could flee?

It was the danger-and reward-of taking the first step on a journey to heaven, and her feet were already on the path to becoming a radiant and joyous...White Tigress.

Characters:

The characters are well rounded and they do change throughout the course of the novel. One example is Cheng Ru Shan has a point of view that women are inferior to men, and thus they are happy staying cooped up and doing little. However, while being with Lydia, he eventually changes his mind about his beliefs towards women, in particular white women. Lydia becomes more assertive and eventually helps Ru Shan out, even willing to become a Second Wife and do nothing but design just so his duties will be eased.

Theme:

Basically one of the themes is that love comes when one leasts expects it, and that women are needed to be treated with respect.

Plot:

This is written in third person point of view from both Ru Shan and Lydia.  The book makes it clear whose point of view you are reading. It is also interesting to watch the characters interact and misunderstand one another. I would guess that I would have liked more time spent between epilogue and the last chapter of the book. Also, what I liked about the series are the links to other books. For example, the brothel and the captain, along with the half Chinese-half white man  that Lydia has met, will be revealed in Tempted Tigress.

Author Information:

Children of mixed races have their own set of rules. As the daughter of a Shanghai native and a staunch Indiana Hoosier, Jade Lee struggled to find her own identity somewhere between America and China. Her search took her to Regency England, where the formality of culture hid a secret sensuality that fascinated her. But Devil's Bargain was just the beginning. That same search adds a mystical element in her Tigress series beginning with White Tigress. In those books, Jade delves into the hidden sensuality of the Dragon/Tigress sect in pre-revolutionary China.

Jade is a USA Today Bestseller, 5 time PRISM award winner, Romantic Times Reviewers Choice winner (and 4 time nominee), and a state racquetball champion! She�s been a RITA finalist twice, 6 time RT KISS award winner, and the recipient of multiple glorious racquetball bruises and injuries. But her favorite accolade comes from reader emails. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your wonderful emails! I couldn't do it without you!

At home, her husband and two daughters try to ignore her stacks of Zen sexual texts. Instead, they brag about her award-winning humor pseudonym, Katherine Greyle. (From freshfiction.com)

Opinion:

The 1857-1895 are actually an exchange of letters between Ru Shan's mother, Mei Lan and her friend Li Hua. What I liked about the novel are descriptions of China, as well as its culture and life, the Chinese male characters are both bad and good. But while reading this book, I felt that the author wasn't really in touch with the Chinese men. I would guess that they were awkward for her to write about. There is a fantasy element to this book, and for some odd reason I am tempted to ask if Chinese really do fortune telling through people's bodies or is that a plot device she used? The defects though are balanced out by vivid descriptions and emotions of Ru Shan and Lydia.

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Planned Books

Books I'm Reading

Caddie Woodlawn-Carol Ryrie Brink 129/242
The Moonstone-Wilkie Collins 202/434
The Silver Kiss-Annette Curtis Klause 20/198
Under his spell-Kathy Lyons 26/216
Once upon the river of love-Andrei Makine 30/209
The Tale of Genji-Murasaki Shikibu 307/1090
Come toy with me-Cara Summers 46/214
Tailspin-Cara Summers 110/216

The Story of the Stone-Xueqin Cao
2. The Crab-Flower Club 428/582
D'Artagnan Romances-Alexandre Dumas
5. The Man in the iron mask  84/574
The Lydia Saga-Kate Furnivall
3. The Girl from Junchow  18/488
The Ivory Carver Trilogy-Sue Harrison
1. Mother Earth, Father Sky 136/384
Titanic Duology-Diane Hoh
1. Titanic: THe Long Night 16/371
The Tigress Sextet-Jade Lee
2. The Hungry Tigress 105/353
Bird and Fish Duology-Adrienne Leslie
1. Bird and Fish 309/532
Japan Duology-Takashi Matsuoka 
1. Cloud of Sparrows 62/560
Sweet Valley Twins and Friends Super chillers-Francine Pascal
1. The christmas Ghost 93/186
Little House Series-Laura Ingalls Wilder
3.Farmer Boy 30/372
The Elven Nations Trilogy-Douglas Niles, Tonya Carter, Paul Thompson
3. The Qualinesti 25/310

Future Books:
The Great Expectations-Charles Dickens
The count of Monte cristo- Alexandre Dumas
The Monk-Matthew Lewis
Don't die, my love-Lurlene McDaniel
A Sicilian Romance-Ann Radcliffe
The Italian-Ann Radcliffe
Cry to heaven-Anne Rice
The Age of Innocence-Edith Wharton

The Story of the Stone-Xueqin Cao
3. The Warning Voice
4. The Debt of Tears
5. The Dreamer Wakes
The Ivory Carver Trilogy-Sue Harrison
2. My sister the moon
3. Brother wind
The Storyteller Trilogy-Sue Harrison
1. Song of the river
2. Cry of the wind
3. Call down the stars
Titanic Duology-Diane Hoh
2. Remembering the Titanic
Tigress Quartet-Jade Lee (Ignoring Desperate and Cornered Tigress)
3. Burning Tigress
4. Tempted Tigress
Modern Tigress Duology-Jade Lee
1. The Tao of Sex
2. Getting Physical
Bird and Fish Duology- Adrienne Leslie
2. Sea and Sky
Japan Duology-Takashi Matsuoka
2. Autumn Bridge
Sweet valley twins and superchillers-Francine Pascal
2. The ghost in the graveyard
3. The carnival ghost
4. The ghost in the bell tower
5. The curse of the ruby necklace
6. The curse of the golden heart
7. The haunted burial ground
8. The Secret of the magic pen
9. Evil Elizabeth
Little House Series-Laura Ingalls Wilder
4. On the banks of plum creek
5. By the shores of silver lake
6. The long winter
7. Little town on the prairie
8. These happy golden years
9. The first four years

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review of #11 Circle of Fire by RL Stine

Name of book: Circle of Fire

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-307-24800-3

Publisher: Parachute Press

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: prequels: A New Fear, House of Whispers, Forbidden Secrets, The Sign of Fear, sequels: Daughters of Silence, Children of Fear, Dance of Death...all the way to The Hand of Power

Type of book: Young adult, 1745, 1845, horror, Fier Saga

Year it was published: February 1998

Summary:

Mia Saxton hates Miss Pemberthy's School for Young Ladies. She has no friends there, no one to talk to.

Then Mia stumbles across a secret group-a group of girls who practice the dark arts. As she is drawn into their circle, the spells become darker and more dangerous. Mia's worst enemy ends up dead. Will she be next? Or can she escape the evil that has been unleashed?

Characters:

The characters have a little more depth than in previous books but still very little is explored about them. It also gives an interesting view into the girl clique I believe.

Theme:

There's more to friendship than meets the eye.

Plot:

This is from Mia's point of view,  a third person narrative. There's a brief prologue of Emma Fier Rhode and the book, and the rest is Mia. That is all.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

This book is part of a series titled Fear Street Sagas which is either about the Fear/Fier family or their victims. Besides the prologue of the book, this doesn't have any connection to the family or it being victims. (The book doesn't really count in my view...) In someways it's interesting but more explanations should have been given instead of being treated like a child.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #6 Daughters of Silence by RL Stine

Name of book: Daughters of Silence

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-671-00293-7

Publisher: Archway Paperback

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: prequels: A New Fear, House of Whispers, Forbidden Secrets, The Sign of Fear, sequels: Daughters of Silence, Children of Fear, Dance of Death...all the way to The Hand of Power

Type of book: Young adult,1878 , horror, Fier Saga

Year it was published: April 1997

Summary:

When Angelica and Simon Fear lost their two daughters, it nearly destroyed them. Now the Fears have only one mission-to summon every ounce of dark power within them, and bring their daughters back from the dead.

It is to be their ultimate act of dark magic. And when it calls for the murders of two innocent girls, Simon and Angelica don't hesitate. Their daughters are waiting...

Characters:

In the sagas the novels aren't character driven, so of course the characters tend to be cardboard and a bit on the flat side. They do have motives but not interesting and complicated personalities.

Theme:

Sometimes some things aren't worth it, don't cling to the past.

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from Jenna's point of view. I think I would have liked more suspense building and I feel that things have happened a little too quickly in the novel.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

I think this was one of my least favorite books. The reason for that is that summary is a bit misleading in someways. First of all the point of view is from a victim and not Simon and Angelica, and the synopsis gives away the suspense so to speak. It does, however, explain a certain thing mentioned in third The Fear Street Saga book.

2 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #7 Children of Fear by RL Stine

Name of book: Children of Fear

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-671-00294-5

Publisher: Archway Paperback

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: prequels: A New Fear, House of Whispers, Forbidden Secrets, The Sign of Fear, sequels: Daughters of Silence, Children of Fear, Dance of Death...all the way to The Hand of Power

Type of book: Young adult,1876 , horror, Fier Saga

Year it was published: June 1997

Summary:

Luke Fier hates hearing the townspeople talk about his younger sister, Leah. They call her evil. They say she has unnatural powers.

Leah does have a strange talent-she can communicate with animals. But Luke is sure she would never use this gift for evil. At least he was sure before their parents' horrible accident.

Now Leah seems so different. So angry. Luke is almost frightened of her. Could his sister's gift destroy them both?

Characters:

As I mentioned previously, the characters seem to be wearing masks but there is little depth beyond that. Still, in someways, this is a bit more compelling story than the others the author penned. I kind of do wish that the powers would be explained more in depth.

Theme:

I am not sure what the author is trying to tell us. If there is something, then that has been mentioned in previous novels.

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from Luke's point of view, although I think that the twist doesn't match up to the beginning.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

For one reason or another, this has been one of my favorite Fear Street Sagas. I think maybe because it's unique due to the setting of orphan train. I do wish to know the true ending of Luke and Leah, how they fared in the future.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review of #9 Heart of the Hunter by RL Stine

Name of book: Heart of the Hunter

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-671-00296-1

Publisher: Archway paperback

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: prequels: A New Fear, House of Whispers, Forbidden Secrets, The Sign of Fear, sequels: Daughters of Silence, Children of Fear, Dance of Death...all the way to The Hand of Power

Type of book: Young adult, 1792, 1795, horror, Fier Saga


Year it was published: October 1997

Summary:

A medicine woman tells Jamie FIer that she knows hot he can win the heart of the girl he loves. But it will cost him. She gives Jamie a potion to drink. And that night, when the moon is full, Jamie finds himself transforming-into a wolf!

With each full moon, he transforms again. But if his true love sees him while he is in the form of a wolf, he will remain a wolf...forever.

Characters:

Although the characters lack dimension, they are not alike and have more dimension to them. That is Laura is the selfish girl, Amanda is the girl that cares for Jamie, and so on. I do wish that more information on Withering Woman would be given, but alas that is up to the reader to interpret her.

Theme:

You never know who loves you, or who your true love is. Don't make foolish bargains for something that might be permanent.

Plot:

There are a few technical things that bothered me. If one's hair gets pulled by the roots, then the hair doesn't grow back, does it? Also in the second part, the year should have been 1795, not 1781. This is told from Jamie's point of view, third person narrative.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

This is longer (with exception of books 11-16) and strangely enough somewhat enjoyable, although as a teenager this is not the book I really enjoyed. I didn't like the way Native Americans were portrayed though, and in someways this smelt of those special "white hero" movies. (Something like The Last Samurai for example, except it's a children's version sort of.) Still though, there is much more to the book than what the summary mentioned. (The love triangle for instance, revenge, curse) It also ends unexpectedly.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book Review of #5 The Hidden Evil By R.L Stine

Name of book: The Hidden Evil

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-671-000292-9

Publisher: Parachute Press

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: prequels: A New Fear, House of Whispers, Forbidden Secrets, The Sign of Fear, sequels: Daughters of Silence, Children of Fear, Dance of Death...all the way to The Hand of Power

Type of book: Young adult, 1847,1858, horror, Fier Saga

Year it was published:  February 1997

Summary:

Timothy has a story to tell. A dangerous story. A story that has power over those who listen to it. The power to awaken creatures best left sleeping. The power to summon the dead.

It is a story of evil. The worst evil imaginable-the evil in the heart of a child.

Come and listen to Timothy's story-if you are not afraid...

Characters:

If you read Chamber of Fear, this story is either an experiment or earlier version of it. There is the good guy and the bad guy, and of course let's not forget about the people that are supposed to fill in the quota for the slaughter and horror.

Theme:

Be careful of the feelings you inspire in others.

Plot:

It's in third person from Maggie's point of view. First it details how she got into jail and why and then takes place later on when she finally gets the governess position.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

While the story that Timothy has told is interesting, it was not memorable. This seemed kind of like an experiment, and many of the things are required by the reader to fill in the blanks for. As always, the reader is left in the dark about what happens to the characters next.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #12 Chamber of Fear by R.L Stine

Name of book: Chamber of Fear

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-307-24801-1

Publisher: Parachute Press

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: prequels: A New Fear...Daughters of Silence...The Awakening Evil, Circle of Fire, sequels: Faces of Terror, One Last Kiss, Door of Death, The Hand of Power

Type of book: Young adult, 1845, horror, Fier Saga


Year it was published: May 1998

Summary:

Carolyn takes a job as assistant to a famous magician. Carolyn knows her mother died trying to unlock the secrets of the Chamber of Fear, the magician's most dangerous prop.

No one has ever entered the Chamber and lived. The spirits of those wo have tried are trapped in the Chamber forever.

But Carolyn is determined to take a job with the magician and master the Chamber to free her mother's spirit. Even if it costs her own life!


Characters:

The characters are slightly more fleshed out and believable instead of using the "twist" so to speak. Still, some things required and needed an explanation and that didn't happen in there.

Theme:

I think the theme is trying to discover the past, and that sometimes you can get away from destiny.

Plot:

Unlike other books, this is written in first person narrative, from Carolyn's point of view. Unlike The Hidden Evil, the characters are slightly more believable, although it's not explained who is right and wrong.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

This is a little too similar to The Hidden Evil. (I will not give away spoilers or comparisons on how.) It also gives a hint to perhaps a quest for the future, but little is followed up with that. I am not sure what else to say about this book.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #10 The Awakening Evil by R.L Stine

Name of book: The Awakening

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-671-00297-x

Publisher: Parachute Press

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: prequels: A New Fear...The Hidden Evil...Dance of Death, Heart of the Hunter, Sequels: Circle of Fire, Chamber of Fear, Faces of Terror, all the way to The Hand of Power

Type of book: Young adult, 1898-1899, horror, Fier Saga

Year it was published: December 1997

Summary:

Everyone knows the story of the Evil. The Evil that terrorized Corky Corcoran and the cheerleaders of Shadyside High. The Evil that destroyed Sarah Fear one hundred years ago.

Everyone thinks they know the story.

But the true story has remained hidden. Only Sarah Fear knows where the Evil began. What it wants. And why it kills.

Read Sarah's story...and discover the truth at last.

Characters:

The characters seem to take much more of an interesting role beyond being killed or maimed. I do think that the relationship between Jason and Sarah is a tad bit neglected though, and that the author should have done more with it.

Theme:

Human beings don't really know how a dying person feels at the time of the death.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative, from Sarah's point of view. It's divided into two parts. There is one tiny part that I must complain about. In The Burning it was mentioned that Sarah Fear might have killed her in-laws, but this book fails to neglect that. (Honestly, please re-read previous books if you are planning on continuing the series.)

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

What I enjoyed most in this book is applying the psychology principles to the character of Sarah, and for some odd reason I keep thinking that there has to be more stories like this where somebody begins to copy somebody else. Also this doesn't leave any loose ends so to speak. You can start and finish with this book. (Although, wouldn't you want to pick up Fear Street Cheerleaders?)

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why October horror? Why so many R.L Stine and not other works?

I realize that I should have done this earlier, should have posted a quick note about October plans. But since I hadn't, here's an explanation.

I've always wanted to find a way to celebrate Halloween in someway. Every year my goal is to read horror novels in honor of Halloween, and this year I have opportunity to read R.L Stine Novels, at least his Fear Street Sagas and its seventeen tales. As soon as I am finished reading R.L Stine's Halloween Horror, I will get back to regular reading schedule.

Since it is October, I might read a few vampire novels (no, I swear no Twilight series...I swear...) such as first three books of Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause and possibly Vampire of the Mists by Christie Golden. But that would depend on the month. Anyways, enjoy the reviews, horror or not.

Book Review of By Invitation Only by Lori Wilde, Wendy Etherington, Jillian Burns

Name of book: By Invitation Only

Author Name: Lori Wilde, Wendy Etherington, Jillian Burns

ISBN: 978-0-373-79625-0

Publisher: Harlequin Blaze

Type of book: Adult, romance, anthology, wedding

Year it was published: 2011

Summary:

Texas Tycoon J.D. Maynard Jr. and famous actress Holly Addison are getting married on exotic Rapture Island. And you're invited!

Exclusively Yours by Lori Wilde
In order to scoop the wedding story, journalist Oliva Carmichael feigns an engagement with infuriating writer Nick Greer. But getting-under-his-skin turns into getting-under-the-sheets...

Private Party by Wendy Etherington
Non-hired caterer Tara Lindsey crashes the wedding to get a taste of the food, but drop-dead-sexy security chief Wade Cooper catches her in the act! Fortunately Tara is about to be the guest of honor at a much more exclusive party...for two.

Secret Encounter by Jillian Burns
Though a disguise gets Dr. Peyton Monahan into the celebration, it doesn't help her find the elusive philanthropist she's seeking to fund her latest research project. But she does find one hot gorgeous guy. Too bad Quinn Smith's hiding a few things of his own...

Characters:

I enjoyed hanging out with the characters in this anthology; I liked the banter between Olivia and Nick, the determination of Tara and Wade, and also liked the twist on Peyton, (I think she needs a full length novel. I liked how not only a male hero grew up without love, a female heroine does as well, which in romance novel is unique.)

Theme:

I think the main theme is that you never know when your someone special will show up.

Plot:

This contains three stories and has six points of view, three from women and three from the men. Although its obvious that the authors are talented and wrote beautiful stories, I sense that in the stories they could have said much more than they had, if that makes any sense.

Author Information:

Lori Wilde
Lori Wilde is a New York Times bestselling author and has written more than forty books. She's been nominated for a RITA Award and four RT Book Reviews Reviewers' choice awards. Her books have been excerpted in Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Quick and simple. Lori teaches writing online through Ed2go. She's also an RN trained in forensics and she volunteers at a women's shelter. Visit her website at www.loriwilde.com

Wendy Etherington
Wendy Etherington was born and raised in the deep South-and she has fried-chicken recipes and Nascar ticket stubs to prove it. The author of more than twenty books, she writes full-time from her home in South Carolina, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and an energetic shih tzu named Cody. She can be reached via her website www.wendyetherington.com.

Jillian Burns
Jillian Burns has always read romance, and spent her teens immersed in the worlds of Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennett. She lives in Texas with her husband of twenty years and their three active kids. Jillian likes to think her emotional nature-sometimes refered to as moodiness- has found the perfect outlet in writing stories filled with passion and romance. She believes romance novels have the power to change lives with their message of eternal love and hope.

Opinion:

One of the things I like about anthologies is that I get to see which authors I like and dislike, and which ones have talent. With this said, I feel that all three authors have talent in writing stories, especially creating chemistry within the constraints of words and pages. The only thing I didn't like is that I feel that stories should have been longer and in one case, the plot twist happened a little too soon. Also, for those who love intelligent, curvy heroines, Jillian Burns's story, Secret Encounter has one. There are some minor discrepancies between the stories: (such as the hair color of the current J.D Maynard Sr.'s wife,) but they didn't detract from my enjoyment.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #4 The Sign of Fear by R.L Stine

Name of book: The Sign of Fear

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-671-00291-0

Publisher: Parachute Press

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: prequels: A New Fear, House of Whispers, Forbidden Secrets Sequels The Hidden Evil, Daughters of Silence, Children of Fear...all the way to The Hand of Power

Type of book: Young adult, 1710, 1679, 50 A.D, horror, Fier Saga

Year it was published:  December 1996

Summary:

Fieran. A young warrior driven by revenge. He created the Fear amulet-and cursed the Fear family for all eternity.

Christina. A young servant girl struggling for survival. She found the Fear amulet centuries later-and may be destroyed by its evil.

Characters:

Although the characters are somewhat interesting, there is not much depth to them and again they seem like caricatures more than anything else.

Theme:

Revenge is not worth it, and things can go wrong.

Plot:

This is told from two points of view in third person; from Christina and Fieran. It's broken up into four parts, describing the despair they experience and how things go wrong for them and they cannot make them go right.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

I am confused by the way the two stories connect. How does Christina's story tie in to what happened to Fieran? How are they related? The amulet? Any other relations? Christina is not even a Fier, but she happens to become a victim of sorts to one.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #2 House of Whispers by R.L Stine

Name of book: House of Whispers

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-671-52953-6

Publisher: Parachute Press

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: prequels: A New Fear,  Sequels Forbidden Secrets, The Sign of Fear, The Hidden Evil...all the way to The Hand of Power

Type of book: Young adult, 1863, horror, Fier Saga

Year it was published:  June 1996

Summary:

Amy Pierce knows nothing of the terrifying Fear history when she arrives for a visit with Simon and Angelica Fear. Their New Orleans mansion is beautiful-but Amy senses something evil there. Something that watches her. Waits for her.

Will Amy be strong enough to escape the powers controlled by the Fear family?

Characters:

Again this is one of the better Fear Street novels because the characters are much more evident and are drawn better than in previous books. Despite this though, they are caricatures once more. It's interesting to see Angelica ruling the nest while her husband Simon is away. (I wouldn't have minded an appearance but alas that was not forthcoming.)

Theme:

There are times when good does triumph over evil. Evil doesn't always win.

Plot:

This is written from Amy's point of view, in third person narrative. It goes from early October up until Halloween in 1863 in New Orleans. (I honestly don't think they might have celebrated St. Hallow's Eve in the South, especially in 19th century when Civil War was going on...I think St. Hallow's Eve might have gained more popularity later on. And Angelica is not even Irish.)

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

As I mentioned previously, this is one of the better written books of the series. Still though, some things aren't explained unfortunately and it's up to the reader to figure out if they were right or not.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review of #3 Forbidden Secrets by R.L Stine

Name of book: Forbidden Secrets

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-671-52954-4

Publisher: Parachute Press

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: prequels: A New Fear, House of Whispers, Sequels The Sign of Fear, The Hidden Evil, Daughters of Silence...all the way to The Hand of Power

Type of book: Young adult, 1861-1865, late 1800s early 1900s?, horror, Fier Saga

Year it was published:  September 1996

Summary:

The dark power of hte Fear family consumes all those connected with it. The Fears themselves. Those they love-and hate. No one can escape the evil of the family's curse.

Savannah Madison (Gentry) doesn't believe that! She marries Tyler-event hough he's a Fear. But then she goes with him to Blackrose Manor.

That's when the deaths begin.

That's when the horror surrounds her.

That's when she learns his terrible secret...

Characters:

Again, the characters are caricatures of sorts and don't change at all throughout the novel.

Theme:

I am honestly unsure of what the theme should be with this book. Basically everyone tried to keep Savannah away from Tyler but they didn't succeed.

Plot:

This is completely written in third person from Savannah's point of view. It begins with Savannah on her day in Blackrose Manor, and she decides to tell her story to someone, first her sister and then it turns out to be another character.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

Unfortunately this is not a very good book. Usually in other Fear Street Sagas books, it's somewhat explained at how the characters get the powers. (For example, in Dance of Death, Justin Fear steals beautiful women's souls, in The Sign of Fear, Christina Davis has the amulet which allows her to take revenge on her aunt, etc.) but this one doesn't explain at all about Tyler's power and how certain things are possible by him. Strangely enough, this is an enjoyable read. Don't know why.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #1 A New Fear by R.L Stine

Name of book: A New Fear

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-671-52952-8

Publisher: Parachute Press

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: House of Whispers, Forbidden Secrets, The Sign of Fear...all the way to The Hand of Power

Type of book: Young adult, 1900-1901, 1919, horror, Fier Saga

Year it was published: March 1996

Summary:

Nora Goode and Daniel Fear hoped to end the curse of hte Fear family. But on their wedding day, a horrible fire swept through the Fear mansion, taking the life of every member of the doomed family.

Except one. A new Fear. The child of Nora and Daniel. Will he be able to live hsi life untouched by the evil of his family? Or will the dark forces claim yet another Fear for their own?

Characters:

In this book, it's obvious, very obvious, who is the bad guy and the good guy. No hidden motives or memorable characters. This book is a masquerade of modern trying to be historical.

Theme:

There are times where you cannot escape your destiny.

Plot:

This was divided into two parts; the beginning is from Nora's point of view of how she ended up in a mental hospital, and the escape from it with Nicholas. The next part is Nicholas' point of view from the time he left his mother to the time he met marries. This is more plot driven than character driven.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

When I read this book at the age of fourteen, it was entertaining and pretty good. Reading it twelve years, I couldn't help but be shocked at the gore contained inside of it, and I still have to wonder at the power of the Fiers that are mentioned countless times. This book is supposed to be a direct sequel to The Burning, but it was obvious that time has has passed. For one thing in The Burning, Nora and Daniel were married for only one day before the infamous fire, and Simon's birthday party was described as a tomb so to speak. Simon and Angelica were hated by the whole town in other words.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review of #15 Door of Death By R.L Stine

Name of book: Door of Death

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-307-24804-6

Publisher: Parachute Press

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: Hand of Power afterwards. Before: One Last kiss , Faces of Terror, Chamber of Fear, Circle of Fire, etc, all the way to A New Fear

Type of book: Young adult, 1853-1854, horror, Fier Saga

Year it was published: November 1998

Summary:

No one belives the Halloween legend about old Jake Fear. But Amy Burke does. In terrifying visions, she saw Jake Fear rise from the grave and kill her two best friends. She know sthis is no tall tale. Jake Fear is coming tomorrow night. But Amy doesn't know that he plans to take her back to his grave...as his ghost bride.

Characters:

The characters seemed a bit interesting but again not memorable and at least for me, not people I easily sympathized or liked.

Theme:

As it is repeated, cheaters never prosper.

Plot:

I think some parts of it were ripped from Christopher Pike's Whisper of Death novel. (This was published in 1998, while Pike's was published in 1991. Only a few snippets belong to Jake Fear, mostly how and why he became the way he did, but the rest is from Amy's point of view.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

Historically speaking, I'm not really sure what to criticize. It's a tad bit gruesome than others, and it seemed very silly. Plus the ending twist didn't explain how something played into a character ending up on the list. At least to me anyways. It might be a nice read for Halloween, but beyond that nothing more.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #16 The Hand of Power By R.L Stine

Name of book: The Hand of Power

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-307-24805-4

Publisher: Parachute Press

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: Before: Door of Death, One Last kiss , Faces of Terror, Chamber of Fear, Circle of Fire, etc, all the way to A New Fear

Type of book: Young adult, 1664, 1624-1625, horror, Fier Saga

Year it was published: January 1999

Summary:

Margarete Fier doesn't like using her strange ability to see into the past. BUt when her fiance, Peter Sturdevant, asks her to help him, Margarete agrees. He knows a mysterious source of power is hidden somewhere in his mansion. He's desperate to have it. But then Margarete finds the power-along with its legacy of danger, despair, and death...

Characters:

In all honesty, I didn't think that the characters were memorable in any way. There were attempts at making them human, but I think the author didn't do a successful job at it.

Theme:

In all honesty, no matter how I think or try to analyze the book, its message escapes me.

Plot:

It is cool that Margarete's story intersected with Alina's, and that the book didn't portray a Fier/Fear character as a perpetrator but instead they are portrayed as victims. Mostly the book seemed to be rushed but strangely believable. The book is in third person limited narrative, primarily from Alina and Margarete.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

Just because this is set back in late 17th century, this is not actual historical fiction, but instead history is simply used as window dressing. I was not impressed with the way Alina's people were portrayed, even if it is a horror genre. Also, I highly doubt that Niels and Alina would be allowed to get married. (I'm surprised that the crew didn't accuse him of being under Alina's spell...) There were few exceptions, (John Rolfe and Pocahontas is one,) but Alina and Niels aren't one. Also, why use same old tired stereotypes for a culture that's different than American one? This is also a final novel in Fear Street Sagas.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book Review of #13 Faces of Terror by R.L Stine

Name of book: Faces of terror

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-307-24802-x

Publisher: Parachute Press

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: One Last kiss, Door of Death, Hand of Power afterwards. Before: Chamber of Fear, Circle of Fire, etc, all the way to A New Fear

Type of book: Young adult, 1867, horror, Fier Saga

Year it was published: July 1998

Summary:

A nightmare convinces Elizabeth Nelson that something terrible has happened to her brother Thomas. So she travels to Cliff House, the home of Thomas's mysterious employer, Peter Gustavson. But there's something strange about Gustavson. He spends his days creating grotesque wax figures, their faces frozen in terror. Now Elizabeth wonders, is Gustavson evil? Evil enough to lie to her? Evil enough to murder her brother?

Characters:

The characters are a bit interesting but to me they aren't very memorable unfortunately. They are one dimensional and simplistic, not complex personalities. One can read it for the gore aspect, but that's it.

Theme:

As mentioned previously, this book is pure entertainment. I think the hidden message or messages is that people will judge you by the looks, and one cannot destroy all the secrets.

Plot:

This was in third person from Elizabeth's point of view. This was slightly different than R.L Stine's previous Fear Street Sagas, because it seemed to focus on powers rather than R.L Stine mentioning of powers that the family possessed. Still, instead of using gore and whatnot, I wished to have given more indepth analysis of why a character snapped. Some questions do not go answered unfortunately.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

Previously I would read this book and I wouldn't like it. I'm not sure why. I think some inconsistencies would drive me nuts was the main reason. (For example, does Peter Gustavson have brown eyes or blue eyes?) Overall it was an interesting read, saturated with gore and whatnot, not the emotion. The events moved a little too quickly for me in all honesty. (Although the ending is a bit creepy...) I also think that the author hadn't done a lot of research for the book. In particular, if Elizabeth's friend is from the South, and Elizabeth is from the North, wouldn't they hate one another because of the war? And Gustavson? That's not an American name. I don't think Germans or Slavic nations started coming over to America until 1890s if I'm not mistaken. And if they started to come earlier, none of them would be that wealthy...

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #14 One Last Kiss by R.L Stine

Name of book: One Last Kiss

Author Name: R.L Stine

ISBN: 0-307-24803-8

Publisher: Parachute Press

Part of a Series: Fear Street Sagas: Door of Death, Hand of Power afterwards. Before: Faces of Terror, Chamber of Fear, Circle of Fire, etc, all the way to A New Fear

Type of book: Young adult, 1730, vampires, Fier

Year it was published: September 1998

Summary:

 Eleanor Rawlins's mother was killed by vampires-now her father is obsessed with killing them. Eleanor jsut wants a normal life-but that's not possible. Even her handsome neighbor Trevor Fier can't protect her from the creatures of the night and their kiss of death...

Characters:

I think that the characters here are much more on a deeper scale rather than in previous novels. But because the book was not longer, it is impossible to go deeply into their psyches to understand them.

Theme:

I'm honestly uncertain of what the message is. I think that more than anything, this was written purely for the entertainment. I think that hidden message is that sometimes you can escape your destiny.

Plot:

This was written in third person limited point of view, from Eleanor in particular. As I mentioned, I think that in someways the book tends to be predictable and I feel that it should have been longer than it was.

Author Information:

R.L Stine was born on October 8th 1943 and is most famous for other Fear Street series along with Goosebumps series and Nightmare Room. Goosebumps and Nightmare Room were made into TV series ages ago.

Opinion:

In all honesty, this is one of the better Fear Street Sagas books. The writing was pretty cool, along with characters and the scene. Unfortunately the ending seemed to be a little too quick for me, and I feel that the book should have been a tad bit longer than it already was. Some things are a tad bit predictable though. The novel is a bit of a typical vampire novel, which means no sparkling prancing Edward and the gang. (There is brooding there...but not a lot.)

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Review of Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee


Name of book:  Native Speaker

Author Name:  Chang-Rae Lee

ISBN: 1-57322-531-2

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Type of book: Adult, Korean American, 1960s-1990s, spy,

Year it was published: 1995

Summary:

Korean American Henry Park is "surreptitious, B+ student of life, illegal alien, emotional alien, Yellow peril: neo-American, stranger, follower, traitor spy..." or so says hiw fie, in the list she writes upon leaving him. Henry is forever uncertain of his place, a perpetual outsider looking at American culture from a distance. And now, a man of two worlds, he is beginning to fear that he has betrayed both-and belongs to neither.

Characters:

Unfortunately I have little to say about the characters. I wasn't endeared to them, nor do I hate them. Henry seems to be confused throughout the book, and I'm still not sure how Leila came back to him and whatnot.

Theme:

There are two themes that I picked up from reading this book:

"Certainly it is not," he said to me, chuckling in his ho-ho way. "But my feeling after speaking with you now for half the session is that perhaps only a small part of your difficulties is attributable to biochemical issues, if at all. I don't think medication is in order, although you seem to feel it necessary. Were you someone else I'd probably just follow your wishes. I shouldn't tell you that, but I will. Certainly like all of us you have traditional issues to deal with. Parentage, intimacy, trust. But hand in hand with all that is the larger one of where we live, my friend, and who you are within that place. Or believe yourself to be. We have our multiple roles like everyone else. Now throw in an additional dimension. A cultural one. Cast it all, if you will, in a broad yellow light. Let us see where this leads you and me."  (From page 133)

"Yes," he said. "Yes. Let us think differently today. The problem is our acceptance of what we loathe and fear in ourselves. Not in the other, not in the person standing next to you, not in the one living outside in this your street, in this your city, in the one who drives your bus or how mops the floors of your child's school, not in the one who cleans your shirts and presses your suits, not in the one who sells books and watches on the corner. No! No, no!" (From page 152)

Plot:

For one reason or another there are no numbered chapters in the book. There are breaks though. Every chapter, the author always veers of into tangents or memories of Henry. Unfortunately nothing made sense to me. This is written in the first person point of view from Henry's point of view.

Author Information:

(from goodreads.com) Chang-Rae Lee (born July 29, 1965) is a first-generation Korean American novelist.

Lee was born in Korea in 1965. He emigrated to the United States with his family when he was 3 years old. He was raised in Westchester, New York but attended Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. He received his BA in English from Yale University and MFA in Writing from the University of Oregon. He worked as a Wall Street financial analyst for a year before turning to writing full time.

He teaches writing at Princeton University, and currently serves as the director of Princeton's Program in Creative Writing.

Opinion:

Few years back I tried reading this book but couldn't and had to drop it. This time I managed to slog through it. Perhaps my age stops me from enjoying the book. (The characters in there are all in their 30s, almost 40s, and I haven't even reached those years...) It doesn't help that I have never ever lived in New York and hadn't even seen it for that matter. This book was written three years after Los Angeles Riots in 1992. (If possible read Caught in the middle by Pyong Gap Min to get some understanding for this book.) (I lived in Russia at the time.) and during the riots, African-Americans destroyed a lot of Korean properties. The author himself being Korean, possibly composed this with fear in mind. It is peculiar that he talks and explores very little of the Japanese occupation on Korea and how it affected his parents.

2 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of Love in Translation by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

Name of book: Love in translation

Author Name: Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

ISBN: 978-0-312-37266-8

Publisher: St Martin's Press

Type of book: Adult, Japan, music, 2000s, abandoned, chick lit novel

Year it was published: 2009

Summary:

Stuck. That’s how 33-year-old aspiring singer Celeste Duncan feels, with her deadbeat boyfriend and static career. But then Celeste receives a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysterious family heirlooms which just might be the first real clue to the identity of the father she never knew. Impulsively, Celeste flies to Japan to search for a long-lost relative who could be able to explain. She stumbles head first into a weird, wonderful world where nothing is quite as it seems—a land with an inexplicable fascination with foreigners, karaoke boxes, and unbearably perky TV stars.

With little knowledge of Japanese, Celeste finds a friend in her English-speaking homestay brother, Takuya, and comes to depend on him for all variety of translation, travel and investigatory needs. As they cross the country following a trail after Celeste's family, she discovers she's developing "more-than-sisterly" feelings for him. But with a nosy homestay mom scheming to reunite Takuya with his old girlfriend, and her search growing dimmer, Celeste begins to wonder whether she's made a terrible mistake by coming to Japan. Can Celeste find her true self in this strange land, and discover that love can transcend culture?

Characters:

I liked the characters of Takuya and of Kenji, sort of, but other characters I couldn't stand. Celeste is very weak as a character and for some odd reason she and other female characters grated on my nerves. Celeste pretty much does very little to get the success she desires, and in the end she's just waiting for everything to fall into her lap. In The Mysteries of Udolpho, the female character Emily is not annoying to me (I will also be the first to admit that she's a very passive character,) but Celeste though, I can't stand her pretty much.

Theme:

"And as far as the search for your relative, you must also be patient. You may think things will turn out one way, but you could have a surprise. The result may be positive but not exactly in the way you expected." (page 107) Also, trust your instincts.

Plot:

This is a Japanese chick lit novel. For those who are not familiar with Japan and things about it, I doubt that you might enjoy it. (I have watched countless Japanese dramas with English subs yet I still hated the book...) It was written in first person narrative from Celeste's point of view.

Author Information:

Wendy Nelson Tokunaga received her MFA in writing form the University of San Francisco, and her short stories have appeared in a variety of publications. She lives in San Francisco with her Japanese-born surfer-dude/musician husband and their cat, Meow. Visit Wendy online at www.wendytokunaga.com.

Opinion:

It does have brief cultural references of Japan, but overall this is an annoying book, during first and second readings. For one reason or another the main character annoyed me greatly. She is not easily relatable and sounded too sweet and sugary, a Mary Sue or better yet a Cinderella. She claims to have been abandoned and whatnot, yet not once in the book has she displayed tendencies or personality of mistrust. I think her background is simply a salad or window dressing, and it didn't affect her psyche. Also when I got this book, (I asked for it,) I had hoped that I would like it, but my instincts were of a different story and in the end I should have listened to them.

2 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)
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