Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review of Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice

Name of Book: Cry to Heaven

Author: Anne Rice

ISBN: 0-345-39693-6

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Type of book: Castrati, Italy, Venice, homosexuality, 1715-1740s, Opera, Upper class, adult, homo-erotic scenes

Year it was published: 1982

Summary:

In this mesmerizing novel, the acclaimed author of THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES and LIVES OF THE MAYFAIR WITCHES makes real for us the exquisite and otherworldly society of the 18th century castrati, the delicate and alluring male sopranoes whose graceful bodies and glorious voices brought them the adulation of the royal courts and grand opera houses of Europe, men who lived as idols, concealing their pain as they were adored as angels, yet shunned as half-men.

As we are drawn into their dark and luminous story, as the crowds of Venetians, Neopolitans, and Romans, noblemen and peasants, musicians, prelates, princes, saints, and intriguers swirl around them, Anne Rice brings us into the sweep of eighteenth-century Italian life, into the decadence beneath the simmering surface of Venice, the wild frivolity of Naples, and the magnetic terror of its shadow, Vesuvius. It is a novel that only Anne Rice could have written, taking us into a heartbreaking and enchanting moment in history, a time of great ambition and great suffering-a tale that challenges our deepest images of the masculine and the feminine.

Characters:

Only Tonio seemed to have depthness and psychology, other characters seemed to have very simple motivations, and despite Tonio being a well rounded character, a lot was lost on me as soon as Anne Rice moved on to Tonio seducing everyone around him. Honestly I don't understand Tonio, that is why he refuses and does certain things. Tonio seems to love Christina only because of her looks, in fact that's how he sees all women; as fragile roses. Besides Catrina, and Christina, sort of, the book contains no strong women characters; Tonio's mother is a drunken woman, and I am not sure why or how Carlo ruined her.

Theme:

I don't understand the message of the book, besides the idea that love in this book is viewed through pain and suffering, sort of a master/slave motif.

Plot:

This was written in third person omniscient point of view, from Guido's and Tonio's points of views. It gives good backgrounds for them both, their motivations, their desires, etc. the ending was a bit abrupt and one was curious to learn about Tonio and the woman, whether or not they stayed together or eventually parted, whether or not she was happy in the end.

Author Information:
(From goodreads.com)

born
October 04, 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana, The United States

gender
female

website
http://www.annerice.com/

twitter username
AnneRiceAuthor

genre
Horror, Historical Fiction


About this author

Anne Rice is a best-selling American author of gothic, supernatural, historical, erotica, and later religious themed books. Best known for her Vampire Chronicles, her prevailing thematical focus is on love, death, immortality, existentialism, and the human condition. She was married to poet Stan Rice for 41 years until his death in 2002. Her books have sold nearly 100 million copies, making her one of the most widely read authors in modern history.

She uses the pseudonym Anne Rampling for adult-themed fiction (i.e., erotica) and A.N. Roquelaure for fiction featuring sexually explicit sado-masochism.

Opinion:

In the past I've made attempts to read this book but due to the idea of the fact that Tonio will never have children, I stopped reading it as well. This time though I've read it all the way through, and realized something; just because I liked something in middle it doesn't mean I'll like it many years later. Anne Rice seemed to enjoy constant repetition and constant reminders of how beautiful Tonio and everyone else is, how much Tonio loves everything, etc. reading this and other things in the novel really got on my nerves. Also, this book contains plenty, and I do mean plenty of homosexual sex scenes, including some incest towards the end. Unlike the summary, I don't think it made me question the realms of men and feminine gender roles, and due to constant description, the action and everything else got lost. This book has an intriguing beginning, but falls flat as soon as Tonio becomes castrated.

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.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review of #1 Titanic The Long Night by Diane Hoh

Name of Book: Titanic The Long Night

Author: Diane Hoh

ISBN: 0-590-33123-X

Publisher: Scholastic

Part of a Series: Titanic Duology: Remembering the Titanic next

Type of book: Titanic, first class, third class, April 1912, young adult

Year it was published: 1998

Summary:

Who will survive the long night?

Everyone thought the RMS Titanic could never sink. But when it struck a huge iceberg just before midnight on April 14th, 1912, the helpless passengers found out they were wrong.

Beautiful Elizabeth Farr and dashing Max Whittaker in the first class...Brian and Patrick Kelleher and pretty red-haired Kathleen Hanrahan in steerage...Everyone is faced with biting cold and chruning black waters, tilting lifeboats and pathetic screams. Some will live, but more than fifteen hundred will die on that disastrous night. Will Elizabeth, Max, and Kathleen be among the survivors?

Characters:

The characters are painted vividly and aren't easily forgettable, although I do wish that the author could have included why Elizabeth is hell-bent on getting an education. It's interesting that Katie's primary desire is to be a singer. The men also have memorable personalities; Max being teasing yet at the same trying his best to care for Elizabeth, and Paddy also being caring towards Katie. The chemistry and attraction between both sets of couples feels natural to me.

Theme:

Be prepared for unexpected.

Plot:

This was written in third person omniscient point of view, from Elizabeth's and Katie's points of views. I've read this novel second, accidentally getting Remember The Titanic. Still though, day to day interactions of Elizabeth's and Katie's lives are interesting; the societies they grew up in, the freedom or lack of freedom both experience, and the difference in tongues, Elizabeth's refined while Katie has an Irish brogue.

Author Information:

Diane Hoh is the author of fifty-seven novels for young adults. She grew up in Warren, Pennsylvania but currently resides in Austin, Texas. Reading and writing are her favorite things, also gardening and grandchildren. (From goodreads.com)

Opinion:

I've read this years ago, and even though I re-read it again, I still found it a beautiful and well done story with alternating points of view from Elizabeth and Kathleen. The author is talented as well as skilled in showing some differences between the women yet how both of them seem to be similar to the readers; I'm sure that anyone can easily identify with Elizabeth's desire to become independent of her family and be able to think for herself. I was impressed that the first class tone of the book really matched Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence where everything speaks volumes. And readers will also be able to identify with Katie Hanrahan and her excitement and fears of the unknown. The Irish brogue is interesting to read and understandable. Also what is interesting are the times the two see each other but don't really meet throughout the whole book. The romances between Max and Elizabeth and Katie and Paddy are interesting to read, especially how they are discovered. What I also liked are the slight hints placed in the book on what would happen to the ship. (Katie's dream, Elizabeth's remark, etc.)

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 Don't Die, My Love by Lurlene McDaniel

Name of Book: Don't die, my love

Author: Lurlene McDaniel

ISBN: 0-553-56715-2

Publisher: Bantam

Type of book: 1990s, cancer, young adult, true love

Year it was published: 1995

Summary:

"Meant for each other."

That's how both Julie Ellis and Luke Muldenhower have always felt. In sixth grade Luke actually asked Julie to marry him, and she just laughed. In eighth grade they began dating. Now in high school, they are deeply in love.

Luke, a talented football player, is almost certain to receive an athletic scholarship to a top college. And no matter what her parents say, wherever Luke goes, Julie intends to follow. When Luke can't shake what he thinks is a virus, Julie persuades him to see a doctor. Luke's test results are alarming, but Julie believes their love is stronger than anything. Can love survive, now and forever?

Characters:

The characters do not have a lot of depth to them in my opinion. They seem to be a bit on the simplistic side and the motivations are also simple; besides love it's not explained very well why Julie is so attached to Luke, and also it's not well explained about her parents; that when it comes to parents she doesn't explain well.

Theme:

I think the theme is a tad bit similar to The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause; no matter who you are or what you do, if you are destined for something bad or good it will happen. No one can prepare or be ready for bad things.

Plot:

This is written from third person narrative, from Julie's point of view and how she tries to handle Luke's sickness. The plot is a bit simplistic in my view and can be enjoyed by anyone, from pre teens to adults.

Author Information:

Lurlene McDaniel began writing inspirational novels about teenagers facing life-altering situations when her son was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. "I saw firsthand how chronic illness affects every aspect of a person's life," she has said. "I want kids to know that while people don't get to choose what life gives to them, they do get to choose how they respond." Lurlene McDaniel's novels are hard hitting and realistic, but also leave readers with inspiration and hope. Her books have received acclaim from readers, teachers, parents, and reviewers. Her novels Don't Die, My Love; I'll be Seeing You; and 'Till Death DO us Part have all been national bestsellers. Lurlene McDaniel lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (From inside flap)

Opinion:

I used to read Lurlene McDaniel's novels when I was in middle school, probably seventh or eighth grade, I forget. Although they seem to be a tad bit simplistic in terms of tone, they are very heartfelt sad love stories without any sexual scenes or anything. For those who are going through tough times with someone you care about in the hospital or going through troubles, the stories and reactions will ring true during those times. The tragedy strikes just before good things happen. At the moment, this novel is closest in my heart due to something my family and I have dealt with in the last few months.


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 #5 The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas

Name of Book: The Man in the iron mask

Author: Alexandre Dumas

ISBN: 0-812-56499-5

Publisher: TOR

Part of a Series: D'Artagnan Romances

Type of book: France, 1660s-1670s, Louis XIV, friendship,

Year it was published: Version I have 1998 (Original version in France 1847-1850)

Summary:

"You are about to hear," said Aramis, "an account which few could now give; for it refers to a secret which they buried with the dead..."

So begins the magnificent concluding story of the swashbuckling Musketeers, Aramis, Athos, Porthos and D'Artagnant. Aramis- plotting against the King of France-bribes his way into the jail cells of the Bastille where a certain prisoner has been entombed for eight long years. The prisoner knows neither his real name nor the crime he has committed. But Aramis knows the secret of the prisoner's identity...a secret so dangerous that its revelation could topple the King from his throne!

Aramis...plotting against the king?

The motto of the Musketeers has been "All for one, and one for all." Has Aramis betrayed his friends? Is this the end of the Musketeers?

Characters:

Good news is that more musketeers and less Louis XIV and Louise de la Valliere. Also, at least briefly, for those who suffered from reading Louise de la Valliere and witnessing how Louis XIV treated a certain character, the king gets what's coming to him. Louise de la Valliere also gets what's coming to her. But sadly enough many characters die in this book which is depressing, but inevitably is the end. Dumas though has a tendency to stretch this beyond the natural conclusion and takes away the sense of loss that I should have felt at the characters' deaths.

Theme:

I'm not sure what I should have learned from the book. That King Louis XIV is human? Dumas portrayed him as sort of a superhero though.

Plot:

I think the plot was handled very awkwardly, as if the author was uncertain when to ante up the action. He probably got used to writing slowly and taking up the time. the climax is a little too easy to miss and I couldn't help but wonder that all this excitement and whatnot for just a few pages of climax. Of course the ending is much more interesting than beginning.

Author Information:

Alexandre Dumas is a French author born in 1802 and wrote other novels such as The Count of Monte Cristo, The Man in the Iron Mask and The Three Musketeers. He died in 1870 and also wrote The Reign of Margot.

Opinion:

Unfortunately I read Louise de la Valliere prior to this book thus I really rooted for the villains to win. I couldn't stand any characters any longer; and I was grateful when certain characters such as Louise de la Valliere, Louis XIV went through hard times. This book as well went a little too quickly and I could hardly believe that so much grief and tragedy resulted from one event. I felt saddened by the characters' passing. Now I'm not really sure why he wrote the way he did, that is why he portrayed Louis XIV so negatively yet at the same time tried to give him the majesty of the kings. I do wonder if the audience of back then also saw the things I saw in a bad way as bad, or did they see it as good things?

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, November 21, 2011

Part XIII: Why is Charles Dickens so popular?

Unfortunately I cannot stomach reading Great Expectations. I lasted until page 224  out of 523 and decided to drop it. I doubt I will read it again anytime soon. Previously I have read A Tale of Two Cities which was my first Dickens book, and again I wonder why the heck is he so popular and well liked? He uses too many words to express a simple idea or actions, his characters aren't memorable and are pointless, the plots are very contrived, and the books themselves are boring. Sometimes I wonder if this is the case of the Emperor's clothes, with everyone too afraid to admit the truth; that Dickens is a bad writer and they're only saying he's good because they don't understand the writing themselves.

I wanted to like Charles Dickens' novels, I wanted to be blown away by their genius and all, but alas that's not my fate. I wish that other authors such as Ann Radcliffe or Wilkie Collins would be more well known than Dickens. From what I saw, both are amazing writers. Dickens seriously could have used character lessons from Wilkie Collins, for Collins' characters are well developed and unforgettable; the sergeant interested in flowers, the servant who loves reading Robinson Crusoe, the aunt who is very rigid and religious. What do I remember about Dickens' characters? Nothing. All I remember is that I remember nothing memorable about them.

Ann Radcliffe paints beautiful and breath taking nature scenes in The Mysteries of Udolpho. Somehow those descriptions balance out the weaknesses of the novel. Even though I read almost half of Dickens' Great Expectations, I barely remember anything about it; umm something about the boy who feels bad about his background and then he gets a chance to become a gentleman. I think I'll do much better reading wikipedia than reading the actual book. (Ouch, I know.)

I wonder if there's something wrong with me for not liking Charles Dickens novels? Perhaps I don't have the same background as everyone else in liking them; I am not of British descent, I am not even a christian for that matter, perhaps those things cause me to be removed from liking Dickens? I don't hate all things that are popular; for example I enjoyed reading Harry Potter, to an extent I liked reading Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, I also enjoyed reading Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, and yes, I loved reading Jane Austen's novels, and Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, and all those books are well known and popular in the world. If one even wonders, I don't like Shakespeare's writings (yes, you read that right...) Dickens will go on the list, Meyer's Twilight Saga, Dumas' D'Artagnan Romances, etc.

Normally in the writings that I don't even like I can point out the good points that I liked with the books; for example in Shakespeare I admit that he had creative ideas and was talented with poetry and language; Meyer somehow created tension that made one remember high school emotions, and Dumas' D'Artagnan Romances created memorable characters in terms of Athos, Porthos, D'Artagnan and Aramis, to which everyone still remembers today. I cannot think of anything like that in Dickens' novels.

Dickens can be best remembered as someone I read and that's it. It's sad to think of an author this way, as sort of someone to brag about, but this is how I feel about reading the two books. I read them and that's it; I haven't learned any lessons or anything like that from them. I am not trying to insult anyone who loves Dickens and will haunt down to kill Dickens haters, but it's simply my own opinion, and I really am curious about why Dickens is so popular?

Book Review of The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Name of Book: The Age of Innocence

Author: Edith Wharton

ISBN:0-02-026478-x

Publisher: Scribner

Type of book: 1870s, 1890s, New York, old New York, high society, infidelity, adult, romance,  standards, hierarchy

Year it was published: 1920

Summary:

Winer of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize, The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton's portrait of desire and betrayal in Old New York. As Newland Archer preparers to marry the docile May Welland, his world is forever changed by the return of the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska. "Wharton's characters...become very real. You know their hearts, souls and yearnings, and the price they pay for those yearnings." (San Francisco Examiner.) This authoritative text is reprinted from the Library of America edition of Novels by Edith Wharton.

Characters:

Newland Archer, Countess Olenska, and May Welland could be said to represent the future of New York; May Welland could be seen as the old structured and familiar New York, Newland Archer has radical ideas and wants change but at the same time he desires to stick with familiarity, while Countess Olenska represents the New New York. Newland Archer has to make a choice between whether or not to stick with old and familiar, or go into unexplored depths with Countess Olenska?

Theme:

I think the ultimate theme is that familiarity can mean stagnation but at the same time taking a chance is much more frightening than staying in stagnation no matter how miserable the life is.

Plot:

It's written in limited third person point of view from Newland Archer's point of view. Unfortunately the novel was confusing for me at some points, and the beginning chapter was boring. Although the author does try to explain the structure and ideas of the society, I didn't understand it much.

Author Information:

(From goodreads.com)
born
January 24, 1862 in New York,
New York, The United States

died
August 11, 1937

gender
female

genre
Literature Fiction


About this author

Edith Newbold Jones was born into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the age of eighteen she had written a novella, (as well as witty reviews of it) and published poetry in the Atlantic Monthly.

After a failed engagement, Edith married a wealthy sportsman, Edward Wharton. Despite similar backgrounds and a shared taste for travel, the marriage was not a success. Many of Wharton's novels chronicle unhappy marriages, in which the demands of love and vocation often conflict with the expectations of society. Wharton's first major novel, The House of Mirth, published in 1905, enjoyed considerable literary success. Ethan Frome appeared six years later, solidifying Wharton's reputation as an important novelist. Often in the company of her close friend, Henry James, Wharton mingled with some of the most famous writers and artists of the day, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, André Gide, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau, and Jack London.

In 1913 Edith divorced Edward. She lived mostly in France for the remainder of her life. When World War I broke out, she organized hostels for refugees, worked as a fund-raiser, and wrote for American publications from battlefield frontlines. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her courage and distinguished work.

The Age of Innocence, a novel about New York in the 1870s, earned Wharton the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1921 -- the first time the award had been bestowed upon a woman. Wharton traveled throughout Europe to encourage young authors. She also continued to write, lying in her bed every morning, as she had always done, dropping each newly penned page on the floor to be collected and arranged when she was finished. Wharton suffered a stroke and died on August 11, 1937. She is buried in the American Cemetery in Versailles, France.

Opinion:

What I found the most fascinating about the novel is the life before the immigration. It's also interesting the kind of messages you send to someone by sitting them with someone or whatnot. I liked reading the early conflict of Archer for Countess Olenska and his wife; he's trying to make a decision whether to stay with familiar and old, or else go into the unknown and risk it all. I doubt that the ending will satisfy those who are hoping for the familiarity. For me even the ending was jarring. As I mentioned previously though, it's an interesting book despite the same tale retold countless times in countless ways.

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, November 18, 2011

Book Review of #3 The Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Name of Book: Farmer Boy

Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder

ISBN: 0-06-440003-4

Publisher: Harper Trophy Book

Part of a Series: Little house in the big woods, Little house on the prairie prequels; on the banks of plum creek

Type of book: pioneer, New York, 1866-1867, kid to adult, 19th century America, farming cycle

Year it was published: 1933

Summary:

Ten years in the future, Laura Ingalls will marry Almanzo in the town of De Smet, South Dakota. But now, Almanzo is miles away, growing up with his brother and sisters on his father's farm in New York.

Almanzo's chores get him up at dawn and keep him working till dinner-summer and winter. But it is fun, and it builds character. And was there ever a boy who loved horses more? Was there ever a boy with a bigger appetite?

Characters:

It has been awhile since I read the latter Little House books, so I can't remember if Almanzo's obsession with horses remained constant or changed. There is strength and dependency within the family as well, even on a well supplied farm as that of the family. The family depends on one another for a great many of things such as having fun or working and completing chores. Also, the characters have realism that Ingalls girls lack. There are times when the characters there are not well behaved and are allowed to be themselves such as when they were left alone in the house and they constantly had ice scream everyday, or when curiosity got the best of Almanzo a few times and few times he had a brush in with death. The Ingalls girls, on the other hand, seemed a little too perfect.

Theme:

I think one of main themes is the dependency on one another to keep things running smoothly, and importance of getting along.

Plot:

This is completely third person point of view, from Almanzo's side. It can be seen as a stand alone book and previous two or one books aren't required reading. (Some editions say this is a third book, others say this is a second book.)

Author Information:

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder (February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957) was an American author who wrote the Little House series of books based on her childhood in a pioneer family.[1] Laura's daughter, Rose, inspired Laura to write her books. (from wikipedia)

Opinion:

This book can be seen as opposite of Little House books. While Little House books focus on the Ingalls moving from one place to another in matter of every few years, this focuses on a family that's well established and possibly lived in New York for countless generations. This is the New York before immigrations. Also, unlike Little House books, this is from a little boy's perspective and his desire to break horses. It focuses on a year in Almanzo's life and also gives a season of stability and of a farming season. I do wish more could have been written about him, probably why he left New York and how things were like for them. It does set a few things up; one is Royal's desire to be a shop-keeper. (In Long Winter, if I recall right, Royal and Almanzo ended up being shop keepers.)

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 #3 The Qualinesti by Paul Thompson and Tonya Carter

Name of Book: The Qualinesti

Author: Paul Thompson, Tonya Carter

ISBN: 1-56076-114-8

Publisher: TSR

Part of a Series: Elven Nations trilogy; Firstborn, Kinslayer Wars prequels

Type of book: Fantasy, young adult- adult.

Year it was published: 1991

Summary:

Kith-Kanan becomes the first speaker of the Suns. His reign can claim many triumphs, including a pact with thre reclusive dwarves of Thorbadin that results in the great monument of Pax-Tharkas. But Kith-Kanan is haunted by his failures: acrimony between the elven factions and the mysterious behavior of his son, his future successor.

Characters:

The characters seemed to be flat and little motivations were revealed. I would have really liked to know Ulvian's deeper psychology and motivations instead of what I was given. Other than that the characters didn't seem to satisfy me.

Theme:

Have faith that everything will be okay.

Plot:

This was written from omniscient third person point of view. I personally think that the book could also be considered as a stand-alone novel and I don't think it was necessary to read the other two novels before it. The book does try to explain everything, but still one wishes to witness Ulvian's and his sister's upbringing, to understand why Kith-Kanan and he don't get along.

Author Information:

Paul B THompson: Paul B. Thompson (born 1958) is a freelance writer and novelist. He has published twenty books to date, many of which are novels set in the Dragonlance fictional universe. A number of these novels are co-authored with Tonya C. Cook.(From amazon.)

Tonya R Carter: N/A

Opinion:

This is much, much better than Kinslayer Wars. The story seems to be cohesive, interesting and well-told. I'll be honest in saying this is my first time reading the novel, and I haven't read Dragonlance novels in ages. Also this is more action focused and the characters aren't given a great amount of depth unfortunately and a few things aren't resolved or mentioned. One would have liked to know the fate of Sithas and what happened to the brother, but alas the book ends. This book should be interesting for those who enjoy Dragonlance novels or for reluctant readers. I personally think that this book is more suitable for a man's taste than anything else.

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 Sea and Sky by Adrienne Leslie

Name of Book: Sea and Sky

Author: Adrienne Leslie

ISBN: 978-1-4392-4097-7

Publisher: BookSurge publishing

Part of a Series: Bird and fish prequel

Type of book: Korean dramas, adult, romance, 2007, interracial relationship asian male/white female

Year it was published: 2008

Summary:

Cancer survivor Wendy Dale has been busy healing others; her alcoholic husband, her chronically ill daughter and cantankerous mother. No wonder she took a Korean lover. But Hyun Jae Won returned to Korea leaving Wendy unable to heal herself. After discovering her good friend Libby Spring abandoned a baby in Taegu, Korea years earlier, Wendy offers to make the six thousand mile journey to locate Libby's now-grown son. Finally, she has an excuse to find her soul mate. Now, if she can only find out why she's trhowing-up every morning.

The eye opening, jaw dropping second book in Adrienne Leslie's Bird and Fish Duology, is finally out. Only this time, in Sea and Sky, the flames of love aren't smoldering. They're burning the house down.

Characters:

The characters are on the flat side unfortunately. I didn't understand Kang Koja's motivations or reasons in trying to date Hyun Jae Won, even though the author tried to explain it. Also, she was too evil. Personally in Korean dramas I identified more with villains than heroes/heroines, or rather more with secondary characters than main characters. Unfortunately secondary characters always got lousy endings, and in this book it's no different. Again I had a difficult time liking or identifying with Wendy Dale, I'm not sure why.

Theme:

Love inspires changes is one theme I understood.

Plot:

This was written in third omniscient point of view from practically every single character within the book. There are some things that she left unresolved such as a hopeful meeting with Libby's son and Wendy and Sarah, or perhaps wedding between Wendy and Jae would have been interesting, or Jane finding out about her future sibling. Although the factoids of few things here and there were interesting, they didn't add anything to the story, sad to say.

Author Information:

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:

Compared to Bird and Fish this is much improved. For one thing there's not a lot of product placement and the book looks normal and is separated normally. Still though, this book is not my cup of tea. Miss Wendy Dale, to me anyways, is still painted as a Mary Sue and unfortunately the author chooses to ignore a few resolutions in the book such as meeting of a certain character and learning the truth.

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.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Planned Books

Books I'm Reading

The Moonstone-Wilkie Collins 210/434
Great Expectations-Charles Dickens 44/523
The Count of Monte Cristo- Alexandre Dumas 11/531
Under his spell-Kathy Lyons 38/216
Don't Die my love-Lurlene McDaniel 20/250
Cry to heaven-Anne Rice 58/564
The Tale of Genji-Murasaki Shikibu 409/1090
Come toy with me-Cara Summers 65/214
Tailspin-Cara Summers 120/216
The Age of Innocence- Edith Wharton 100/362

The Story of the Stone-Xueqin Cao
3. The Warning Voice 66/613
D'Artagnan Romances-Alexandre Dumas
5. The Man in the iron mask-342/574
Lydia Saga-Kate Furnivall
3. The Girl from Junchow 29/488
The Ivory Carver Trilogy-Sue Harrison
2. My Sister the moon 66/400
Titanic Duology- Diane Hoh
1. Titanic: The Long Night 30/371
Tigress Quartet- Jade Lee
2. Hungry Tigress 246/353
Bird and Fish Duology-Adrienne Leslie
2. Sea and Sky 51/286
Japanese Duology- Takashi Matsuoka 
1. Cloud of Sparrows 91/560
Sweet Valley Twins Super Chillers-Francine Pascal
2. The ghost in the graveyard 18/185
The Elven Nations Trilogy-Paul Thompson, Tonya Carter, Douglas Niles
3. The Qualinesti 222/310
Little House Series-Laura Ingalls Wilder
4. On the Banks of Plum Creek 18/339

Books to Review:
Farmer Boy-Laura Ingalls Wilder

Future Books:
Emma-Jane Austen
Mansfield Park-Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey-Jane Austen
Persuasion-Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice-Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility-Jane Austen
Primal Calling-Jillian Burns
Seduce and Rescue-Jillian Burns
One friend to another-Elizabeth Feuer
Johnny Tremain-Esther Forbes
Jews without money-Michael Gold
The Monk-Matthew Lewis
A Sicilian Romance-Anne Radcliffe
The Italian-Anne Radcliffe

The Story of the stone-Xueqin Cao
4. The debt of tears
5. The dreamer wakes
First Native Americans Quartet (5-eternity for my purposes do not exist) -Michael and Kathleen Gear
1. People of the wolf
2. People of the fire
3. People of the earth
4. People of the River
The Ivory Carver Trilogy-Sue Harrison
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
Japan Duology-Takashi Matsuoka
2. Autumn Bridge
Harts of Texas Trilogy -Kathleen O'Reilly
1.Just Surrender...
2. Just Let go...
3. Just Give in...
Sweet Valley Twins Superchillers 
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 on the prairie Nontet-Laura Ingalls Wilder
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

Friday, November 11, 2011

Part XII: Harry Potter Love, My Memories

Well, the last Harry Potter has come out on Blu-Ray and perhaps DVD. The conclusion to the movies is over, and soon the mania will ebb perhaps, the wave no longer strong as before. I wonder if anyone remembers the Harry Potter books? I have only seen movies 1 and 2 perhaps and due to my nit pickiness and comparing them with the books, didn't enjoy the movies. However, I became huge fan of the books, at least up until Book 7. Just for fun, I will talk about my life involving Harry Potter.

For me it started in middle school in 1999. I recall I was in 7th grade and everybody was constantly talking about Harry Potter all the time. What I remember is during a book club or something like that we could check out Harry Potter book from the library, which I did. The book I checked out was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third one in the series.

I don't recall how long it took me to read that book, but I remember falling in love with the magical world that the author has created and from then on I was in sort of love with Harry Potter. I did manage to read and get Harry Potter books 1-3, including the 4th one as soon as the paperback editions were out. As soon as I got hooked onto Harry Potter, the forth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire came out. Because hardback editions came out first, I couldn't exactly ask my parents to get it for me, and this book was in demand by everyone. I was friends with a librarian back then and she let me check out the fourth Harry Potter book first! I returned it in just two days, grateful for what she did. (Because I couldn't stand the noise, I always ended up sitting beside my locker enjoying my own company, and afterwards I spent the remainder of time in the library.)

So time passed, and while I was waiting for the fifth book, I started going on fanfiction.net, a site that contained Harry Potter fan fiction where I got to read different authors' stories about the possible couples, etc. etc. meanwhile rumors and excitement were wild as we speculated over and over about how the stories will be, who will die, and so on.

In the summer of 2003, I really will take a wild guess that everyone was impatient with the delay that Harry Potter was experiencing. It seemed that the books were published every two or so years. But during that summer the fifth book came out at last. I might have been excited about Harry Potter, and came up with an idea of going to bookstore, buying the hardback but then selling it back as soon as I was finished. I don't recall when I might have read it, in June or perhaps July, but I was shocked by the fifth book. The fifth book contained no real Harry Potter, at least not the beloved and sweet character that I had loved and admired from books 1-4. This Harry Potter character was atrocious, the editing and the writing were the same, or so I felt. I remember reading this book, looking at a page number and being mystified that I'm still on the first week of when Harry Potter came to Hogwarts. In other words, this was a terrible book.

In the summer of 2005, I'm pretty sure that it was in July, the sixth book came out. For me personally, the fifth book cured me of Harry Potter mania. When I received the sixth book, I recall that my boyfriend broke up with me, (In 2003, sort of similar thing but a different boyfriend broke up with me,) and although the book was slightly better, again, it was tedious reading through it. I honestly felt awful for Snape and also very sorry for him. In this book I realized how much I detested Harry Potter's father and the friends and the torment they put him through. Harry, it seemed, didn't learn lessons from the dead. In third book as well I liked Sirius Black, but this book caused me to dislike him.

By 2007, when the last book came out, and after facing Order of Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, I no longer cared for Harry Potter at all. After two books that I didn't like, I started to read Deathly Hallows, and for me it was as bad if not worse than Order of Phoenix. There was endless camping, I didn't understand their goals or what they were trying to do, there was also fighting, umm pointless romance, pointless fighting, disillusionment with certain characters, and the most dumbest epilogue I have read in my life. Starting from second book, I knew that Harry Potter and a certain character will end up together, I knew it. And sure enough, I was right.

Well, today is November 11th, 2011, ages since I picked up or read a Harry Potter book. And today also, the second half of Deathly Hallows is being released, the saga becoming completed.

I do wonder if years from now these books will stand the test of time and become classics or perhaps next to the "greats" such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Lewis Carroll, Alexandre Dumas, etc. etc. I might argue both ways. Harry Potter is inventive, just like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series which is continually being read and re-read by readers, and perhaps C.S Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, (Which I will not touch with a ten foot pole.) so perhaps it might be classics one day.

On the other hand though, Harry Potter books were what I would call "mania books". Everyone knows or has heard of Harry Potter in one way or the other, and for me personally they have that aura that doesn't cry out 'classic.' Classical novels tend to explore psychology or society at a very deep length, or else in one way or the other become very memorable for people. There are also classics that weren't popular during the authors' lifetime but became popular after their deaths.

Personally I don't want for Harry Potter books to become classics. Although they are an enjoyable read, for me there is little exploration involved of characters or of what I think is important. They are very action oriented books. For example, Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Series might be considered an American classic because they have been in existence since 1930s, and they're slow paced as well as give vital information and exploration of pioneer life. At least for adult me, they are also easy to read. Judy Blume books might also be seen as sort of classics because it seems that every generation of girls reads them, and those books has girls that anyone can relate to. (Including me and my sister,) Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys might be seen as classics because of the mystery element and those have been in print since 1920s actually.

Still though, only time will tell if J.K Rowling's Harry Potter series is destined to join the greats and the most remembered of all times.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review of Once Upon the River Love by Andrei Makine

Name of Book: Once upon the river love

Author: Andrei Makine

ISBN: 0-14-028362-5

Publisher: Penguin

Type of book: Russia, Siberia, love story, Belmondo, 1970s, 1990s, Western World

Year it was published: 1994 (version I have 1998)

Summary:

Set in the 1970s in the vast, remote forests of eastern Siberia, Andrei Makine's brilliant novel tells the story of Mitya, Utkin, and Samurai, three boys on the verge of manhood. Isolated by history as well as geography, with only the passing lights of the Transsiberian train to assure them of an outside world, these friends yearn for experiences their small village cannot provide. But an afternoon at the cinema-a day's trek by snowshoe-changes their lives forever. The boys are captivated by a film staring French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo and a cast of beautiful women (all of whom Belmondo manages to seduce with consummate ease.) Over the next several months they travel seventeen more times to see their hero, and when that film is replaced by another that is equally outrageous and daring, their obsession only grows.

Written from the perspective of twenty years later, the story follows these three young idealists up to the present day, to the boardwalks of Brighton Beach and into the jungles of Central America, where their dreams of dashing James Bond-like heroism take unexpected turns. Beautifully rendered and sensitively drawn, Once Upon the River Love demonstrates Andrei Makine's remarkable ability to re-recreate the past with such precision that the present becomes all the more poignant.

Characters:

Honestly I didn't see Mitya and try to become a better person so to speak. He was very obsessed with women, or with one in particular and with love so his personality is very difficult to understand or to see how and why he changed. Even if its written from his point of view, he touches very little on other things of his life and how he changed in 1990s.

Theme:

Strangely enough, the only connection I have made with this book is the ending and the Belmondo film that Mitya and his friends constantly talked about. I think that the red haired woman is sort of a Belmondo, representing or affecting the lives of the three characters in different ways.

Plot:

First person narrative from Mitya's point of view. The second half of the summary is only given 10 or so pages and 90 percent is devoted to their friendship and Mitya's obsession with love and women.

Author Information:

(from goodreads.com)
born
September 10, 1957 in Krasnoyarsk, Russian Federation

gender
male

genre
Literature & Fiction

About this author

Andreï Makine was born in Krasnoyarsk, Soviet Union on 10 September 1957 and grew up in city of Penza, a provincial town about 440 miles south-east of Moscow. As a boy, having acquired familiarity with France and its language from his French-born grandmother (it is not certain whether Makine had a French grandmother; in later interviews he claimed to have learnt French from a friend), he wrote poems in both French and his native Russian.

In 1987, he went to France as member of teacher's exchange program and decided to stay. He was granted political asylum and was determined to make a living as a writer in French. However, Makine had to present his first manuscripts as translations from Russian to overcome publishers' skepticism that a newly arrived exile could write so fluently in a second language. After disappointing reactions to his first two novels, it took eight months to find a publisher for his fourth, Le testament français. Finally published in 1995 in France, the novel became the first in history to win both the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Medicis plus the Goncourt des Lycéens.

Opinion:

For some odd reason I cannot help but compare this book to Marguerite Duras. While Marguerite Duras created The North China with sentences affecting the mood, barely peppering the book with descriptions of moods and other things, this author seems to do the opposite. This book feels very French. I will not claim to be an expert on French literature, (I'm not,) but its obvious that its not written for those who grew up with British and American and other types of books. It has a strange beauty of its own, but for one reason or another this book is not understood as a one time read. If possible I might re-read it in a year or so and perhaps glean more information about it. The author uses many words that will not be found in daily vocabulary lists, and it can get on the nerves at times. Forgive me, but I don't understand this book. Interestingly enough, I asked my parents about Belmondo in 70s, and my mom has said yes, that he was popular and took Russia by storm.

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 The christmas Ghost by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: The christmas ghost

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-15767-1

Publisher: Bantam

Part of a Series: Sweet Valley Twins and Friends Super Chillers; The ghost in the graveyard, the carnival ghost, next.

Type of book: Sweet valley twins, kid to young adult, Dickens' christmas carol parody, moral, 1985

Year it was published: December 1989

Summary:

Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are looking forward to the most glorious christmas ever. The tree is trimmed, the presents are wrapped, and movie star Beau Dilon is coming to town! THe actor, who'll be in Sweet Valley to publicize his new movie, has agreed to help Elizabeth raise money for the children's wing of hte local hospital. BUt when the teen star arrives at the Wakefields' house, it's Jessica, not Elizabeth, he meets.

What's the harm in pretending to be your twin? No harm, Jessica thinks-until strange things start happening and three ghostly visitors appear. Is Jessica's imagination working overtime or have the spirits of christmas past, present and future come to teach Jessica the lesson of a lifetime?

Characters:

The characters are two or one dimensional and are on the flat side. The devil vs angel and then the devil reforms at the very end.

Theme:

Although the book does end happily, I have doubts that any true lessons are learned by the main characters. As I mentioned before, this is basically a christmas special type of book. It also is not related to the main body of Sweet Valley Twins books.

Plot:

A little bit of it is written from Elizabeth's point of view, but 95 percent belongs to Jessica. It's written in third person point of view.

Author Information:

Francine Pascal (born May 13, 1938) is an author best known for creating the Sweet Valley series of young adult novels. Sweet Valley High was the backbone of the collection, and was made into a popular television series.[2] [3] There were also several spin-offs, including The Unicorn Club and Sweet Valley University. Although most of these books were published in the 1980s and 1990s, they have remained popular such that several titles have been re-released in recent years. (From Wiki.)

Opinion:

This books is reminiscent of a book by Dickens, or better yet it's a holiday special Sweet Valley style filled with ghosts trying to convince Jessica to change her ways. Strangely enough, it's an addictive book, although it seems obvious and isn't filled with stuff to ponder or think over. It's like eating cotton candy or some other candy where you don't have to worry or think too hard.

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 The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause

Name of Book: The Silver Kiss

Author: Annette Curtis Klause

ISBN: 0-440-21346-0

Publisher: Laurel Leaf Books

Type of book: Vampires, coming of age, death, love story, 1980s, young adult

Year it was published: 1990

Summary:

Zoe is wary when, in the dead of the night, the beautiful but frightening Simon comes to her house. Simon seems to understand the pain of loneliness and death and Zoe's brooding thoughts about her dying mother.

Simon is one of the undead, a vampire, seeking revenge for the gruesome death of his mother three hundred years ago. Does Simon dare ask Zoe to hlep free him from this lifeless chase and its intolerable solitude?

Characters:

The characters are three dimensional and one can see them change throughout the book; that is they don't stay the same. The villain in this book is one dimensional and seems to be excused from change because he is only a child. I enjoy reading about Zoe's journey from angry teenager to someone who tries hard to accept the change. The passages within the book are also very beautiful.

Theme:

"Things changed, she realized. People grew, they moved, they died. Sometimes they withdrew into themselves, and sometimes they reached out after needing no one. SHe remembered Simon's clinging embrace. What would it be like if nothing changed? she wondered. It would be stagnant, she supposed: frozen, decadent, terrifying. But why did it have to be so painful-all this change? Why did it mean losing people you love?" (192-193)

Plot:

The author did a good job of sticking to the characters' points of views, that is you get a chapter of things from Simon's point of view, and one of Zoe's. This is written in third person limited point of view. As I mentioned, the plot seemed to move nicely and one can see the characters change, or else their situations change. It has to mean something that this is one of the books that I loved since I was in middle school.

Author Information:

(From wikipedia) Annette Curtis Klause (born 1953) is an American author and librarian, specializing in young adult fiction. Annette is currently a children's materials selector for Montgomery County Public Libraries in Montgomery County, Maryland. Born in Bristol, England, she now lives in Hyattsville, Maryland with her husband Mark and their cats. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.

She has published four novels for young adults: The Silver Kiss (1990, Delacorte), Alien Secrets (1993, Delacorte), Blood and Chocolate (1997, Delacorte), and Freaks: Alive on the Inside (2006, Margaret K. McElderry). From 1982 through 1994, she contributed book reviews to the School Library Journal.

Opinion:

First time I read this book was in the spring of when I was in seventh grade I think. I remember meeting someone at an Easter Egg hunt or something like that that the HOA put up in the neighborhood and mentioning that I liked vampires or something of that kind. The person I talked with recommended this book. Since then I read it very daily, almost every year. This novel has a strange beauty to it, the mood of the eighties, the death and isolation. This book is not Twilight, for its not filled with endless adjectives of Edward's body, and beauty of the vampire character, Simon, is mentioned a few times but its not overwhelming. This also sticks close to the traditional vampires of being hurt by crosses, wooden sticks, and sun. It has a beautiful ending in my opinion, for one can sense the lessons learned within this small book. If you are looking for a book to satisfy your vampire thirst, try this book.

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.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November 2011

The Moonstone-Wilkie Collins
SR: December 7th, 2010
FR: N/A
Great Expectations-Charles Dickens
SR: November 1st, 2011
FR: Stopped reading on November 21st, 2011 Chapter 26 pg.224
The Count of Monte Cristo-Alexandre Dumas
SR: November 1st, 2011
FR: N/A
The Silver Kiss-Annette Curtis Klause
SR: October 1st, 2011
FR: November 3rd, 2011
Under his spell-Kathy Lyons
SR: October 1st, 2011
FR: N/A
Once Upon the river love-Andrei Makine
SR: August 22nd, 2011
FR: November 7th, 2011
Don't die my love-Lurlene McDaniel
SR: November 1st, 2011
FR: November 27th, 2011
Cry to heaven-Anne Rice
SR: November 1st, 2011
FR: November 29th, 2011
The Tale of Genji-Murasaki Shikibu
SR: May 17th, 2011
FR: N/A
Come toy with me-Cara Summers
SR: August 22nd, 2011
FR: N/A
Tailspin-Cara Summers
SR: July 1st, 2011
FR: N/A
The Age of Innocence-Edith Wharton
SR: November 1st, 2011
FR: November 21st, 2011

The Story of the Stone-Xueqin Cao
3. The Warning Voice
SR: November 1st, 2011
FR: N/A
D'Artagnan Romances-Alexandre Dumas
5. The Man in the iron mask
SR: October 1st, 2011
FR: November 25th, 2011
Lydia Trilogy-Kate Furnivall
3. The Girl from Junchow
SR: October 1st, 2011
FR: N/A
The Ivory Carver Trilogy-Sue Harrison
2. My sister the moon
SR: November 1st, 2011
FR: N/A
Titanic Duology-Diane Hoh
1. Titanic the long night
SR: October 1st, 2011
FR: November 27th, 2011
2. Remembering the Titanic
SR: November 27th, 2011
FR: N/A
Tigress Sextet-Jade Lee
2. Hungry Tigress
SR: October 5th, 2011
FR: N/A
Bird and Fish Duology-Adrienne Leslie 
2. Sea and Sky
SR: November 1st, 2011
FR: November 18th, 2011
Japan Duology-Takashi Matsuoka
1. Cloud of Sparrows
SR: October 1st, 2011
FR: N/A
Elven Nations Trilogy-Paul B Thompson, Tonya R. Carter, Dougles Niles
3. The Qualinesti
SR: October 1st, 2011
FR: November 14th, 2011
Sweet Valley Twins and Friends-Francine Pascal Super Chilers
1.  The christmas ghost
SR: October 1st, 2011
FR: November 7th, 2011
2. The ghost in the graveyard
SR: November 7th, 2011
FR: November 30th, 2011
3. The Carnival ghost
SR: November 30th, 2011
FR: N/A
Little House Series-Laura Ingalls Wilder
3. Farmer Boy
SR: October 1st, 2011
FR: November 8th, 2011
4. On the Banks of Plum Creek
SR: November 8th, 2011
FR: N/A
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