Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Review of Bury Me Deep by Christopher Pike

Name of Book: Bury Me Deep

Author: Christopher Pike

ISBN: 0-671-69057-4

Publisher: Archway paperback

Type of book: Hawaii, vacations, past ghosts, 1990

Year it was published: August 1991

Summary:


Jean is on her way to Hawaii for a week of fun in the sun. But the vacation gets off to a gruesome start. The boy sitting beside her on the plan suddenly chokes and dies. Jean tries to push the incident out of her mind when she arrives on the island, but finds it impossible.

Part of the reason is because Mike keeps coming back to her in her dreams. Horrible dreams filled with cold blood.

Two of Jean's friends are waiting for her in Hawaii—Mandy and Michele. They have already made friends with two young men who teach scuba diving at the hotel, Dave and Johnny. Jean and Johnny quickly become friends. But there are problems in paradise. Dave and Johnny have recently lost a partner in the ocean. No one knows how he died. No one can find his body. But then Jean finds Mike's body. It isn't where it's supposed to be, and it seems as if it's still got some life in it.

Characters:

The characters aren't cardboard and Pike tries to infuse them with personality, such as Jean's constant money worries, or Michele's popularity or Mandy's competition. But these characters are weak and they barely make an impression on human mind. In an odd way too this book is reminiscent of The Immortal and Fall Into Darkness. The only characters that I have found of interest are Johnny and Dave. (I really didn't understand Dave's comment.)

Theme:

Whatever business someone has left on earth will get finished one way or another.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from Jean's point of view. Although the author tries to interest the reader in scuba diving and the underground scenery along with supernatural elements, for me he didn't do a good job for one reason or another. Oddly enough I didn't feel pity or happiness for any characters and the best word I could describe the book as is that kind of a brain candy.

Author Information:

Christopher Pike wrote 30+ novels mainly for young adults, the most famous or well known one is The Last Vampire Saga, Final Friends and Remember Me, and his real name is Kevin McFadden. One of his books, Fall Into Darkness was created into a movie. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a website, but there is a fan club that is devoted to him. (http://www.christopherpikefanclub.com/ )

Opinion:

This is probably one of the Pike's weaker books (not weak like The Star Group or Starlight Crystal or others that I can't recall.) but there is really nothing special or memorable about it. In someways I thought it was very similar to Fall Into Darkness, except the characters tend to be on the weak side and they don't excite the human imagination. It's a fun mindless read but its not effectual.

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 Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos DeLaclos

Name of Book: Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons)

Author: Choderlos DeLaclos

ISBN: 0-14-044116-6

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Type of book: Epistolary novel, 1700s, aristocrats, ancien regime, darkness, France, pick up artists, naivety

Year it was published: 1782 (version I have 1988)

Summary:

'If this book burns' proclaimed Baudelaire, 'it burns as only ice can burn.'

Marie-Antoinette kept a bound copy of this notorious study of sexual intrigue in her private library; and it was condemned by a criminal court forty years after its publication in 1782 and publicly incinerated. The satanic hero and heroine of this greatest of eighteenth-century novels- a pair of depraved aristocrats- plot and achieve the seduction of a young convent girl with the calm detachment of mathematicians solving an algebraic formula.

Honest to the point of cynicism, this is a fascinating exposure of an aristocracy shortly to perish in the French Revolution.

Characters:

Through the letters, each character does contain a distinctive voice, and some, like Valmont, are able to fool the reader with love. The only difficulty I had was understanding the supposed love Valmont held towards the Presidente's wife. I think that he always has been a rapscallion and will always be one. I wish I could see Merteul's letters to a love so I could see if she matches up to Valmont. But still, both characters are intriguing, although scary as well. The secondary other characters, such as the wife, Cecile and Danceny, although they are vivid, they will quickly lose the reader's interest. They are drawn vividly, but for some odd reason the author didn't want us to be be drawn to them but instead desired us to focus on Valmont and Merteul.

Theme:

Be careful of the malice one has because actions will come back and bite him back.

Plot:

This is in first person narrative, epistolary style, which means its written in a letter form, and its from multiple points of views. Even though it might be seen as a classic due to 1782, it reads very modern. The action is fast moving, although a lot of what Valmont and Merteul talked about really confused me.

Author Information:

Pierre-Ambroise- Francois Choderlos De Laclos was born in 1741, at Amiens. His family was respectable but not distinguished, and at eighteen he entered the army and spent the next twenty years in various garrison towns, and reached the rank of capitaine-commandant without ever seeing battle. He cut a dash in provincial society, however, and in his spare time wrote light verse, some of which was published. He wrote the libretto for Ernestine, a comic opera, which was produced in Paris in 1777, but was not received well. In 1779 he was sent to the island of Aix, where Les Liasons Dangereuses was conceived and written. Comte Alexandre de Tilly recalls him saying: 'I resolved to write a book which would create some stir in the world and continue to do so after I had gone from it,' which it certainly did. He went to Paris in 1781 to supervise the publishing of his book, and overstayed his leave and was promptly ordered back to his regiment. He married Solanges Duperre in 1786 and proved to be an exemplary husband and father. He left the army in 1788 and entered politics and was imprisoned twice during the Reign of Terror, but returned to the army as a general under Napoleon in 1800. He died in Italy in 1803. Laclos also wrote a treatise on the education of women and on Vauban. Towards the end of his life he was considering writing another one to show that true happiness could only be attained in family life.

Opinion:

I first heard of this novel, ironically, from a movie called Cruel Intentions. After watching it, I became curious about it, and the descriptions about it, the dark side of love, of about people playing with people's hearts and are able to fake love and other things really got me intrigued. I will give this novel four stars. The characters very creepy and not someone you ever want to associate with. Even though it was published in 1782, it does read like a modern novel. In a way too it can be thought of something for me and women who love taking advantage of one another. In my personal view, however, the novel is left unfinished in some aspects. What is interesting is that some of it is thought to be have been based on real life.

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 A House Divided by Pearl Buck

Name of Book: A House Divided

Author: Pearl Buck

ISBN: 1559210346  (671-78797-7 Version I have)

Publisher: Pocket Books

Part of a Series: House of Earth series: The Good Earth, Sons prequels

Type of book: China, revolution, international student, 1900s, Former AM/WF

Year it was published: 1935 (version I have 1975)

Summary:

The epic of China begins with soil, and with the simple peasants like Wang Lung whose story was told in The Good Earth. It rises and swells on the fortunes of the warlords and merchants, men like the Sons of Wang Lung. It surges anew in modern China- Communist China- in the third generation of the House of Wang. A House Divided brings Wang's grandson to America, where troubled and alone, he must choose between the old values and the new, between two generations- one dead, one powerless to be born.

Characters:

The characters are well rounded and understnadable to some extent. In this part, Pearl Buck attempts to explore Wang Yuan's personality; grandson of O-Lan and Wang Lung who seems to have the best from both his grandfather and grandmother and barely any defects of his father and uncles. I read this novel quickly because I wanted to be finished with it as soon as a I can. I sort of liked Wang Yuan, and his sister is very flighty and very modern. The cousins that were featured were the young song of Wang the Merchant, Wang Sheng and Wang Meng; Wang Sheng who looks for beauty but gets disappointed along the way, and Wang Meng the revolutionary. I really didn't like Mei-ling and didn't think she really liked Wang Yuan. I wished that Wang Yuan would have chosen to be with Mary.

Theme:

Wang Yuan seems to be opposite of the East Wind West Wind couple, at least opposite of the brother and his foreign wife Mary. He is another way of West and East mixture and values. Basically he has control of determining of who he wants to be, and not anyone else.

Plot:

 This is in third person narrative from Wang Yuan's point of view completely. While the previous two books seemed to move at a break-neck speed, the Sons slowing down slightly, in A House Divided, the time slows down completely and we get to completely explore the world of 20th century in China through Wang Yuan's eyes as well as changing values that are going on on China and the way Chinese were treated in America. Unlike Sons and The Good Earth, this novel ends with Wang Yuan still in youth, still in late 20s or early 30s, just as Wang the Tiger lays dying.

Author Information:

born
June 26, 1892 in Hillsboro, West Virginia, The United States

died
March 06, 1973

gender
female

genre
Literature ; Fiction, Biographies ; Memoirs, Children's Books


About this author

Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938 "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces" and the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1932 for The Good Earth.

Opinion:

Years back I bought a book titled Yellow by Don Lee. I haven't read the whole book, but I glimpsed the last few stories and was shocked and saddened by the fact that he talked so negatively about white women/Asian men relationship, how the American women didn't understand the Korean characters, and that ultimately those Korean men decided they're better off being with a Korean woman rather than an American woman. The second chapter covers that period, when Wang Yuan escapes from China to America. I will kind of spoil the novel; he does not end up with an American woman, but she did have attraction towards him. Also reading something like this reminded me of my own failings; of when I attempted to be with a Korean guy but relationship didn't work out at all.

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, April 29, 2012

Book Review of #4 The Patmans of Sweet Valley by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: The Patmans of Sweet Valley

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-57023-4

Publisher: Bantam Lark

Part of a Series: Sweet valley Saga

Type of book: 1825-1972, potted American history,  Sweet Valley, wealth

Year it was published: 1997

Summary:

In 1825, sixteen year old Sophie, the Duchess of Edmonton, falls in love with Henry Patman, a dashing stable hand. But Sophie's sister, Melanie, has also fallen for Henry's rugged charm. And Melanie will do anything to keep Sophie and Henry apart.

John Patman loses his heart to London actress Katherine Richmond. He's too poor to ask for her hand in marriage, so he swears he'll strike it rich in the oil fields of Texas. But how long will Katherine wait?

Dr. Cassandra Vanderhorn meets wounded soldier Spencer Light in a World War II veterans' hospital. After he recovers, they marry, and he returns to the front. Then Cassandra receives a telegram bearing terrible news...

Marie Vanderhorn has found her soul mate in Hank Patman. When Marie is stricken with leukemia, she breaks off the relationship and keeps her suffering a secret. Hank vows that he'll love Marie forever. But then Alice Robertson crosses his path...

Characters:

The characters aren't vividly written as in Fowlers of Sweet Valley, but at the same time I didn't detest them as I had when I read the Wakefield Twins saga. Thankfully the section with Alice was short, although it does go to the contrary with Wakefield Legacy Untold Story. (Hank's family are mentioned as co-founders of Sweet Valley, but in Patmans they are described as wealthy who will be moving there...) And Hank traveled to California after graduating from high school, instead of going to school with Ned as in Wakefield Legacy The Untold Story.

Theme:

To be honest, I'm not sure of the supposed theme of this book, except the second chances do happen and might happen again.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from both male and female ancestors of Bruce Patman. There is the whole token exchange as always, at least as in Wakefield Saga, and part of me didn't really appreciate the skipping of Emma's daughter. The section with John and Katherine was too short and I didn't really understand the love they had. (Katherine had no idea what happened to John. He left because he thought she abandoned him on purpose.)

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:

There are actually a lot of stories that the summary hasn't mentioned, and this multi-generational saga covers both male and female ancestors (almost all of them,) of the Patman line. There's the story of Sophie's daughter Emma, of Henry's sons John and Sanford, (it skips Emma's daughter,) then there's Katherine and further adventures of John as well as his son William and Reginald, Bruce's grandfather. The stories are pretty fascinating in my view. The characters aren't very empty as in Wakefield Twins' sagas, but at the same time there's not a lot of sparkle to them as in Fowlers of Sweet Valley.

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 #3 The Fowlers of Sweet Valley by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: The Fowlers of Sweet Valley

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-57003-X

Publisher: Bantam books

Part of a Series: The Sweet Valley Saga

Type of book: 1773-1989, France, multi-generational saga, SV

Year it was published: 1996

Summary:

Discover the sweeping, romantic history of the men and women who made Lila Fowler who she is today!

Beautiful sixteen-year-old Lili de Beautemps is rescued from guillotine during the French Revolution by a dashing young man--but he disappears before she can even thank him. Will Lili ever see him again?

While working as a maid in the Marquis de Bocage's chateau, Celeste Chardin unexpectedly wins the love of the Marquis's son, Marc. Will Marc give up his family riches to be with her?

Wild and reckless Rose de Bocage grew up with Pierre Oiseleur in the turbulent 1890s. But when Pierre declares his everlasting love for Rose, she tells him she'll never settle down. Will she regret that decision forever?

Isabelle Eastman thought her true love, Jacques Oiseleur, had been killed in World War I. But he miraculously survived. Jacques returns to Isabelle--only to learn she has married his best friend.

In 1968, George Fowler falls in love with Grace Doret, the daughter of his parents' archenemies. Against all odds, he must transform into the man of her dreams. . . .

Characters:

The characters actually felt real and somehow vivid within this novel, that is I was able to know and understand what they felt and when they felt. I do wish I could know the reason of why a certain family name was changed into what it was, and I felt that there should be more stories about the men in the lives instead of only the women.

Theme:

There's always hope for love.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from the women, and few times its from the men, but very briefly. The stories are engaging. intriguing and somehow full of hope. The setting as well takes place in France, although I think it tends to be a potted version of French history, and not even completely explored as I had hoped.

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:

It's ironic that when I was a teenager, I detested this book and thought it boring, but now I think its the best of Sweet valley Saga. I'm not sure why. The characters feel real somehow, they don't resemble the cardboard characters of the Wakefield Twins; the setting and all is different, and a few generations are cut out of the story. The story is that of a wealthy woman falling in love with a poor man which is a refreshing change.

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, April 28, 2012

Book Review of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Name of Book: Number the Stars

Author: Lois Lowry

ISBN: 0-440-40327-8

Publisher: Yearling

Type of book: World War 2, resistance, bravery, 1943, secrets, Germans, Jews, Denmark

Year it was published: 1989

Summary:

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think about life before the war. But it's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching in their town.

The Nazis won't stop. The Jews of Denmark are being "relocated" so Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be part of the family.

Then Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission. Somehow she must find the strength and courage to save her best friend's life. There's no turning back now.

Characters:

The Danish, Johansens in particular, are portrayed as a loving and well rounded family, along with others. I checked a history book I had, whether or not this book might kind of like apologist Holocaust literature (something like certain people being portrayed as kind in a country that wasn't kind to Jews,) and the description does match up to Number the Star descriptions. Annemarie is a brave young girl who learns interesting lessons about her family, things she hasn't known before. In my opinion the characters don't change throughout the novel but remain the same.

Theme:

The less someone knows, the more brave they are.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from Annemarie's point of view and briefly covers the war in Denmark. The Germans are accepted as commonplace and only in beginning does Mrs. Johansen impart on the girls the danger of Germans knowing about them. I had trouble understanding the Psalm 147 and how it relates to the star that Ellen Rosen wore.

Author Information:

Lois Lowry is the author of many well-loved books including The One Hundredth Thing About Caroline; Switch-around; Taking Care of Terrific; Autumn Street; Us and Uncle Fraud; Rabble Starkey; Anastasia Again!; Anastasia, Ask your Analyst; Anastasia on Her Own; Anastasia at Your Service; Anastasia Has the Answers; Anastasia's Chosen Caree; and All About Sam, all available in Yearling editions. Ms. Lowry divides her time between Boston and New Hampshire.

Opinion:

I think in my entire life I've read this book three or four times; first time when I was in fifth grade, and other times as an adult.The book covers a topic that's not well known; The Danish rescue of Jews as well as how they stood up to Germans. This is a children's book, thus its written a lot in black and white so to speak. The lesson that one learns is interesting, something that I doubt is in other novels.

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 East Wind, West Wind by Pearl Buck

Name of Book: East Wind, West Wind

Author: Pearl Buck

ISBN:  1559210869

Publisher: The World Publishing Company

Type of book: 1920s, China, East, West, values, interracial relationship, Asian male/ White female, struggles, duty, obligation

Year it was published: 1930 (Version I have January 1944)

Summary:

East Wind: West Wind is told from the eyes of a traditional Chinese girl, Kwei-lan, married to a Chinese medical doctor, educated abroad. The story follows Kwei-lan as she begins to accept different points of view from the western world, and re-discovers her sense of self through this coming-of-age narrative.

Characters:

I'm not sure how I could describe the characters, except they all change throughout the novel; Kwei-lan changes into someone who disliked and was unhappy with Western culture into someone who does accept Western traditions and values. She also looks up to her husband all the time, one attitude that she doesn't change at all. Kwei-Lan's husband remains completely Westernized, although I guess he drew a line at marrying a foreigner. My analysis of Kwei-lan's brother is that at first he saw Mary as a prize of sorts and perhaps rebelled against the duty and obligation of the family, but then as things beyond his control happened and he was asked to do the impossible, he changed completely and at last fell in love with her. In an odd way too Mary changed, first wanting to give up her nationality and everything completely, but then she found out its an impossible task to do.

Theme:

"Think only of this- with what joy of union he came into the world! He has tied together the two hearts of his parents into one. Those two hearts, with all their difference in birth and rearing- differences existing centuries ago! What union!" (277)

Plot:

This is in first person narrative told by Kwei-lan and is divided into two parts; one is where Kwei-lan marries the husband who studied in America, and her struggles and even acceptance of Western customs, while the second half covered the period of when her brother returned with a foreign bride named Mary, as well as Kwei-lan's struggles to look beyond Mary's exterior into why the brother fell in love with her and had done everything for her.

Author Information:

born
June 26, 1892 in Hillsboro, West Virginia, The United States

died
March 06, 1973

gender
female

genre
Literature ; Fiction, Biographies ; Memoirs, Children's Books


About this author

Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938 "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces" and the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1932 for The Good Earth.

Opinion:

I have a difficult time putting my thoughts into words when it comes to this novel. All I can remember is that I wanted this book last year, badly. I should have gotten it in January but then the book got lost, so I ordered it from a different place and on the 13th of February, the day before Valentines Day, I finally received it. I also end up wondering about 'Till Morning Comes which portrays a Chinese male with a white female from 1940s until 1970s. While the character from 'Till Morning Comes receives a welcome to the family, this is not what Mary experienced when she married Kwei-Lan's brother and traveled to China. It's a beautifully written novel about the things that an interracial couple experiences in China during the early 20th century. What is also interesting is that I think at first the brother was proud that she chose him because he saw her as a prize, but as the struggles mounted, I think he stopped looking at her that way and instead saw her as a person.

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 Challenge A-Z #2 Fall Into Darkness by Christopher Pike

Fulfilling the requirement:

"F" Requirement, title alphabetically.

Summary:

The trail is for murder. Ann Rice is dead. Her best friend, Sharon McKay, stands accused. But there is no body. And the three witnesses to the crime only heard what happened, and did not see it. Nevertheless, the prosecution is almost certain of victory. Ann was alone in the dark with Sharon on top of the cliff when Ann fell the 500 feet into the torrential river that claimed her life. There was only one route leading to the cliff, and all the witnesses can remember hearing the girls arguing before the fall occurred. Sharon's only defense is that Ann committed suicide. But everyone who knew Ann, including Sharon, said she was not the suicidal type.

And they were right.

Ann was much more than suicidal.

She was obsessed.

Lesson learned:

One doesn't really know what the human beings are capable of.


Link to review: Click here

Book Review of The Eternal Enemy by Christopher Pike

Name of Book: The Eternal Enemy

Author: Christopher Pike

ISBN: 0-671-74509-3

Publisher: Archway paperback

Type of book: time travel, 1990s, origin of the universe, robots, future, sacrifice

Year it was published: May 1993

Summary:

A VCR that could tape tommorrow's news.

Rela has just bought herself a new VCR. She sets the machine to tape a movie she plans to show at a party she is throwing. But instead of the movie she gets the news -- tomorrow's news.

Soon Rela is regularly recording next week's news, even what is to happen in the far future. It's fun, at first, until she sees herself on the news. And learns that there is no future for her.

But can she change destiny?

Can Rela survive what is meant to be?

Characters:

There's is something endearing and sweet about Rela, something that caused me to like her strongly. I think of all the Pike's female heroines, she is the strongest and the most vulnerable. Rela lives in Pasadena with her adopted father, Rev. Lindquist and seems to have a sense of wonderment about her. I think I'll describe her as an intense character as well, but quiet intensity rather than flashy one, as her boyfriend Christopher possesses. Christopher is best described as ambitious and he has a very soft spot for Rela. In a way as well he loses the sight of an important goal that might or might not cost him his own humanity.

Theme:

There does exist a soul, and it doesn't die but can survive. Being human means to suffer.

Plot:

This is in first person narrative. Basically Rela tells the story of what happened. I don't think there will be any confusion in reading this novel and a lot of things will become clear. There are things that won't ring true for the readers, but in general I think the author does clear up confusion and with one exception answers and covers the questions he has been toying with. It is up to each reader to determine how ultimately the novel will end but that will be another book, if ever. (Hoping for no sequels because the book is perfect the way it is.)

Author Information:

Christopher Pike wrote 30+ novels mainly for young adults, the most famous or well known one is The Last Vampire Saga, Final Friends and Remember Me, and his real name is Kevin McFadden. One of his books, Fall Into Darkness was created into a movie. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a website, but there is a fan club that is devoted to him. (http://www.christopherpikefanclub.com/ )

Opinion:

This is one of the Pike's strongest novels such as Whisper of Death, Fall Into Darkness and so forth, and its also heavily science fiction, as in there are robots or cyborgs, time travel, origin of universe and so forth. There are a lot of philosophical implications such as no God but only space, and the idea of killing an ancestor and repetition as well. There are also spiritual elements of whether or not souls exist. Although the beginning to the middle tends to be kind of boring, middle to the ending picks up and hurtles one through space into the questions that won't be easily answered.

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, April 24, 2012

Book Challenge A-Z #1 Persuasion by Jane Austen

Fulfilling the requirement:

"P" Requirement, title alphabetically

Summary:

In Persuasion, her last novel, Jane Austen reveals her most mature dissection of people, place and social setting.

Like the earlier works Persuasion is a tale of love and marriage, told with the irony, insight and just evaluation of human conduct which sets her novels apart. But the heroine - like the author - is more mature; the tone of the writing more sombre. Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth have met and separated years before. Their reunion forces a recognition of the false values that drove them apart. The characters who embody those values are the subjects of some of the most withering satire that Jane Austen ever wrote.

Lesson learned:

There are second chances in life, so take them if you can.

Link to review: Click Here

Book Review of #2 The Wakefield Legacy The Untold Story by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: The Wakefield Legacy, the Untold Story

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-29794-5

Publisher: Bantam Skylark

Part of a Series: Sweet Valley Saga

Type of book: 1866-1970s, immigration, potted American history, journeys, Sweet Valley

Year it was published: 1992

Summary:

Follow the compelling stories of the women and men who came before Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield:

Frontiersman Theodore Wakefield thought he'd lost his heart forever; will Dancing Wind make him love again?

Turn -of-the-century beauty Sarah Wakefield marries against her father's wishes — only to become the mother of a fatherless child.

Betrayed by his true love, Ted Wakefield must forget his past to find happiness with brilliant journalist Julia Marks.

During World War II Robert Wakefield receives vital radio messages from P.O.W. Hannah Weiss and vows to find her when the war ends.

Ned Wakefield struggles against injustice In the idealistic sixties, then fights for the heart of beautiful Alice Robertson.

Discover new lives and loves in the further unfolding of the biggest, best Sweet Valley story ever!

Characters:

The characters seemed to be cut from cardboard and none became endearing to me. Maybe also its my own thing, but its curious that although Ned's mother is Jewish, why didn't he seem to grow up with some Jewish customs and whatnot? The characters might as well have been christian Americans in costumes!

Theme:

Probably its the characters hoping to have the best love, but in the end have to settle for second best.

Plot:

Third person narrative from many characters points of view. Although its mostly from masculine point of view, there are women point of views in it. I think one does need to read The Wakefields of Sweet Valley because the two of them go to together. This is potted version of American history and who knows, it might help some people pass test and forget about it.

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:

As a teenager I loved this book and read it numerous times, but then I grew out of liking this novel and now I'm not afraid of giving it such a low rating. I also think there is something that conflicts with Patmans of Sweet Valley, because the book mentions that Patmans were one of the founding families of Sweet Valley, yet if you read Patmans of Sweet Valley, there is no mention that they were founding families but they have heard of Sweet Valley in 1960s and moved there. This novel also answers a question of what happened to Theodore Wakefield's line when he was forcibly separated from Alice. Although the stories were different and all, I think my problem was how cheesy and unbelievable they sounded, and the characters seemed to be made from cardboard rather than bone and flesh.

1 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, April 23, 2012

Book Review of Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

Name of Book: Summer of My German Soldier

Author: Bette Greene

ISBN: 0-439-23872-2

Publisher: Scholastic

Type of book: 1940s, South, World War II, Judaism, German, reform school, society, abuse

Year it was published: 1973 (version I have 2000)

Summary:

The summer that Patty Bergen turns twelve is a summer that will haunt her forever. When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, Patty learns what it means to open her heart. Even though she's Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton, not as a Nazi- but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own, who understands and appreciates her in a way her parents never will. And Patty is willing to risk losing family, friends- even her freedom- for what has quickly become the most important part of her life.

Characters:

The characters are well rounded and likable to some extent, aside from the parents obviously. I wish I could have understood more of why the father was the way he was. Patty struggles with life and with trying to be perfect so her parents like her, while Anton, although barely seen, has a huge impact on Patty for what seems like the rest of her life by giving her a treasured possession. I do wish that the book has ended slightly differently though. It's also nice that Patty discovers a substitute mother since her own mother lacks maternal qualities. I was confused by the fact that she blamed her Jewishness for not fitting in, but to me personally, it didn't seem as if there are incidents where Patty's religion is prominent.

Theme:

No matter who, a person is always worth something.

Plot:

This is in first person narrative from Patty's point of view. I have to be honest that from the title I expected something more dramatic instead of the novel sounding very Southern. Also, for me, the beginning part is boring while almost the ending is exciting. There might be slight disgust with Patty and Anton's relationship due to age difference. I do wish that it would have been explored more why Anton became a soldier. I forget if he was forced or something else.

Author Information:

Bette Greene, who is celebrated for the strong emotional response that readers have to her books, was born in a small Arkansas town. Later she lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and Paris, France. She now lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with her husband.

Summer of my German Soldier, an ALA Notable Book, a National Book Award finalist, and a 1973 New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year, has become a modern classic. Her other novels published in Puffin are Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe., a 1973 Newbery Honor Book and a 1974 New York Times Outstanding Book of hte Year; Morning is a Long Time Coming, the companion volume to Summer of My German Soldier; and Get on Out of here, Philip Hall.

Opinion:

From the title I think I expected a more of a dramatic language and dialogue instead of the character sounding very southern and somehow, well, ignorant. Even though I spent countless years living in the South myself, for some odd reason I had trouble identifying or liking the narrator although I felt I could relate to her in some ways and in not just in religion. In beginning its hard to understand or like her, but towards the end the story becomes more interesting in my opinion and the character becomes more identifiable.

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 Sons by Pearl Buck

Name of Book: Sons

Author: Pearl Buck

ISBN:  0786274948

Publisher: World Publishing Company

Part of a Series: House of earth series

Type of book: China, late 1800s? to 1900s, family saga, wars, warlord, merchant, desire

Year it was published: 1932 (version I have 1945)

Summary:

Second in the trilogy that began with The Good Earth, Buck's classic and starkly real tale of sons rising against their honored fathers tells of the bitter struggle to the death between the old and the new in China. Revolutions sweep the vast nation, leaving destruction and death in their wake, yet also promising emancipation to China's oppressed millions who are groping for a way to survive in a modern age.

Characters:

One might remember the eldest son, the one that's lusty, restless and a real lord's son, the one that spends money without thought and concocted the idea of addicting a cousin's parents to opium. In this book he remains the same, except that he gains a lot more weight (I swear I always picture him as a 400 pound pig if not worse.) and as always he gains multitude of children from different wives. At one point he forbids his eldest son to become a soldier and often feels uncomfortable that the eldest becomes a dandy or a fop. The middle son is a merchant, and one probably remembers him as an antithesis of his brother. The middle one through secret ways becomes extremely wealthy and sends a nephew to become a soldier. The youngest one is barely seen and mentioned, and most of time we spend with him, trying to figure him out. The youngest one, named Wang the Tiger is described as fair and tries to shed the stereotypes of being a war lord and soldier. He is also fierce and desires his son greatly. However, when he finally gets the son, Wang Yuan, the son disappoints him greatly because he resembles Wang Lung and O-Lan the most.

Theme:

Be careful what you wish for, because it may come true in an unexpected way.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from the three sons; the oldest, middle and youngest, although the youngest covers most of the book, in particular his desire for a son and a quest in trying to become great. I think one does need to read The Good Earth to understand Sons, especially in understanding the three sons of Wang Lung, and sons of his sons which also presents the book. Wang Yuan, Wang the Tiger's son, strikes me as very similar to Wang Lung and has his own book in A House Divided.

Author Information:

born
June 26, 1892 in Hillsboro, West Virginia, The United States

died
March 06, 1973

gender
female

genre
Literature ; Fiction, Biographies ; Memoirs, Children's Books


About this author

Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938 "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces" and the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1932 for The Good Earth.

Opinion:

The version I eventually got was from 1945 with fragile pages that I carefully had to turn because it ripped easily. This book is a real page turner, especially when the youngest son returns for a father's funeral, (the mysterious silent one, the twin to his last daughter,) I also enjoyed learning about the other two sons, the landlord and the merchant (and for some odd reason found the landlord's description and whatnot funny.) I think the reader will agree that should Wang Lung have remained alive, he would have been deeply ashamed of his sons, for one spends the money like it's nothing, another is too strict and last one desires to bring war. While we do spend time with oldest and middle sons, the most we try to figure out is the youngest one.

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 The Wakefields of Sweet Valley by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: The Wakefields of Sweet Valley

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-29278-1

Publisher: Bantam Books

Part of a Series: Sweet Valley Saga

Type of book: 1866-1973, immigration, potted version of American history, lost love, unrequited love, soul mates

Year it was published: 1991

Summary:

Follow the riveting stories of the women who came before Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield:

Alice Larson, a bold sixteen year old from Sweden, arrives alone in America to start a new life- but with a broken heart.

Headstrong frontier tomboy Jessamyn runs away to join the circus, leading her sensitive twin Elisabeth, into a desperate search that ends in tragedy.

Spirited twins and rivals Samantha and Amanda battle for the love of the same boy during the glamorous Roaring Twenties.

Marjorie, stranded in France during Word War II, becomes a heroine of the Resistance.

Alice Robertson, child of the tumultuous sixties, makes a painful romantic choice she will hide forever- even from her twin daughters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield.

Characters:

The characters are cut out from cardboard and although the author tries to make them the same, she doesn't really succeed. The stories as well are cheesy, I mean, every other generation the failed love is an ancestor of the twins' and Steven's father. (Not kidding.) Until the meeting of Alice and Ned just the way their first ancestors met. (Him pulling her from the ocean.)

Theme:

I have no idea what I should have learned from the book, that you never know if your ancestors' failed love is possibly your husband's or wife's ancestors?

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from the women's points of view rather than the men's. I didn't miss the characters once I left them, and it was a relief to be finished with the novel. The novel also presented the simple version of American history and never really delved into psychology of the characters. A lot was taken for granted and it seemed more of a brain candy read rather than something to mull over.

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:

I'm being honest that I've read the four Sweet Valley Sagas, and this one and one afterwards aren't the best, really. There is nothing really memorable in personality to cause me to like the character, and it shows that this novel was written for teens instead of people in their twenties. This would also be good for those who would like to learn history without the depth and study it required. I admit that when I was a teenager I enjoyed reading this, but now at my age, no thank you.

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.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book Review of Tender Assault by Anne Mather

Name of Book: Tender Assault

Author: Anne Mather

ISBN: 0-373-11649-7

Publisher: Harlequin

Type of book: romance, tragedy, love, adult novel, alpha male, island, cougar love

Year it was published: 1993

Summary:

India had been thirteen when Nathan Kittrick was banished from Pelican Island. Now, shrouded, in scandal, he'd come home, heir to his father's multi million-dollar holiday resort- a man determined to claim what was rightfully his.

Nathan's return brought back bitter memories, and India greeted him with angry accusations of the past. And this time he had to listen, because she was no longer a child, nor his once faithful shadow. In fact, India had been managing the luxury hotel since his father's death.

India was also a woman determined not to let her former trust for this man be rekindled. But she hadn't expected Nathan's assault on her senses to be quite so tender. And she hadn't expected her desire for him to be quite so strong...

Characters:

I couldn't really enjoy the characters or their personalities. There is something detached about the book and something that refused to grab me. I also didn't and couldn't see the chemistry between the leads. How did Nathan's affections turn to love? Couldn't see it at all.

Theme:

Umm couldn't understand the theme either, don't judge things by the first appearance?

Plot:

Third person narrative from India and Nathan's points of view. Although its kind of understandable, there is something detached and boring within the novel, at least for me.

Author Information:

Ann Mather began her career by writing the kind of book she likes to read- romance. Married, with two children, this author from the north of England has become a favorite with readers of romance fiction the world over- her books have been translated into many languages and are read in countless countries. Anne enjoys reading, driving and traveling to new places to find settings for her novels.

Opinion:

I actually got the novel from a second cousin who used to have introduction to Harlequin long time ago. I think this was my second romance novel. As a teenager I really did enjoy it, but reading it years later, I feel differently and found this novel boring and mind-numbing. I am honestly not sure why, maybe its age or maybe I need something else to fulfill my mind.

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.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review of Fall Into Darkness by Christopher Pike

Name of Book: Fall Into Darkness

Author: Christopher Pike

ISBN: 0-671-67655-5

Publisher: Archway Paperback

Type of book: 1990s, murder, revenge, mystery, insanity, trial, young adult

Year it was published: February 1990

Summary:

The trail is for murder. Ann Rice is dead. Her best friend, Sharon McKay, stands accused. But there is no body. And the three witnesses to the crime only heard what happened, and did not see it. Nevertheless, the prosecution is almost certain of victory. Ann was alone in the dark with Sharon on top of the cliff when Ann fell the 500 feet into the torrential river that claimed her life. There was only one route leading to the cliff, and all the witnesses can remember hearing the girls arguing before the fall occurred. Sharon's only defense is that Ann committed suicide. But everyone who knew Ann, including Sharon, said she was not the suicidal type.

And they were right.

Ann was much more than suicidal.

She was obsessed.

Characters:

The characters are far more intense than typical Pike characters; Ann is an intense young lady who learns the hard way about the control of hatred. Chad hides his real self well and is also a memorable character. He can fool everyone with innocent looks but like a true character of Pike, nothing is what it seems. Sharon is also an interesting character and a very innocent one. I think that what she gets she doesn't deserve, and I do wish Pike would have continued with the book instead of leaving the readers wondering what will happen next.

Theme:

The conflict of the novel is of Ann trying to learn the hard way of overcoming her hatred, where she realizes that hate does nothing, and of Sharon trying to come to terms with the fact that her friend is not who she thought it was.

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from Ann's and Sharon's point of view. It tends to be divided into flashbacks from Ann's point of view of her hatred, as well as Sharon being arrested and her lawyer trying to free her. Although its not likely that the plot makes sense, but still just like in other novels, Pike does cover the ground and includes an explanation of things.


Author Information:

Christopher Pike wrote 30+ novels mainly for young adults, the most famous or well known one is The Last Vampire Saga, Final Friends and Remember Me, and his real name is Kevin McFadden. One of his books, Fall Into Darkness was created into a movie. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a website, but there is a fan club that is devoted to him. (http://www.christopherpikefanclub.com/ )

Opinion:

A reason that I gave this novel four stars is the wild plot this contains; a girl whose brother committed suicide tries to frame her best friend for her own murder. How she goes about is pretty crazy. Then the girl discovers more layers than she could imagine behind her scheme. This was published in beginning of 1990s, and it was before See You Later, just as Christopher Pike started to write some of my favorite novels such as Whisper of Death or Scavenger Hunt. I had to admit that it took me a few readings to start liking or appreciating this novel. While a lot does not seem to be legit (the lawyers screaming at one another, the judge clearly favoring Johnny Richmond while the woman prosecutor is ignored.)

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.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Planned Books

Books I need to review:
Sons- Pearl Buck
A House Divided- Pearl Buck
Summer of my German soldier- Bette Greene
Tender Assault- Anne Mather
The Wakefields of Sweet Valley- Francine Pascal
The Wakefield Legacy the untold story- Francine Pascal
The Fowlers of Sweet Valley- Francine Pascal
Fall Into Darkness- Christopher Pike

Books I'm Reading:
Emma- Jane Austen 16/448
Jacob the Liar- Jurek Becker 18/266
East Wind, West Wind- Pearl Buck 93/277
Les Liasons Dangereuses- Choderlos DeLaclos 333/396
Homeland- John Jakes 550/1174
Number the Stars- Lois Lowry 18/132
Gone with the Wind- Margaret Mitchell 93/1037
Bury Me Deep- Christopher Pike 100/211
The Eternal Enemy- Christopher Pike 63/180
Heavy Sand- Anatoli Rybakov 43/381
Ivanhoe- Sir Walter Scott 36/405
The Age of Innocence- Edith Wharton 245/362

Series
The Story of the Stone- Xueqin Cao
4. The Debt of Tears 94/384
The First Native American Series- W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear
3. People of the Earth 83/587
The Storyteller Trilogy- Sue Harrison
1. Song of the River 81/560
Tigress Series- Jade Lee
4. Tempted Tigress 215/346
As Long as We Both Shall Live- Lurlene McDaniel
1. 'Till Death Do Us Part 62/203
Sweet Valley- Francine Pascal
4. The Patmans of Sweet Valley 45/340
Remember Me Series- Christopher Pike
1. Remember Me 28/230

Future Books:

Northanger Abbey- Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
Once a hero..- Jillian Burns
Primal Calling- Jillian Burns
My Antonia- Willa Cather
O Pioneers- Willa Cather
The Song of the Lark- Willa Cather
The Foreign Student- Susan Choi
'Till Morning Comes- Suyin Han
The Monk- Matthew Lewis
Bridge of Scarlet Leaves- Kristina McMorris
The Italian- Ann Radcliffe

Series:
Story of the Stone- Xueqin Cao
5. The Dreamer Wakes
First Native Americans Quartet- W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear
4. People of the River
The Storyteller Trilogy- Sue Harrison
2. Cry of the Wind
3. Call Down the Stars
The Modern Tigress- Jade Lee
1. The Tao of Sex
2. Getting Physical
As Long as We both Shall Live- Lurlene McDaniel
2. For Better, for worse Forever
The Angels Trilogy- Lurlene McDaniel
1. Angels Watching Over Me
2. Lifted Up by Angels
3. Until Angels Close My Eyes
Remember Me Series- Christopher Pike
2. Remember Me: The Return
3. Remember Me: The Last Story

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book Review of Persuasion by Jane Austen

Name of Book: Persuasion

Author: Jane Austen

ISBN: 0-14-043005-9

Publisher: Penguin Classic

Type of book: mature, 1814-1816? England, poetry, parody, second chance, marriage novel

Year it was published: 1818 (version I have 1985)

Summary:

In Persuasion, her last novel, Jane Austen reveals her most mature dissection of people, place and social setting.

Like the earlier works Persuasion is a tale of love and marriage, told with the irony, insight and just evaluation of human conduct which sets her novels apart. But the heroine - like the author - is more mature; the tone of the writing more sombre. Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth have met and separated years before. Their reunion forces a recognition of the false values that drove them apart. The characters who embody those values are the subjects of some of the most withering satire that Jane Austen ever wrote.

Characters:

The best way to describe the main characters are repressed and for the most part hardly visible. While one can remember them somewhat, I think I got lost all among the details and actions that happened with Anne and Wentworth. The characters also seemed to have no emotional impact on me for one reason or another. This might be something I could relate to- the lost love idea- but again, no emotional impact on me.

Theme:

Sometimes in life we make wrong decisions, including love. When second chance arrives, don't throw it away and go with it. Also don't judge people by appearances or wealth.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from Anne's point of view about what's going on when Frederick comes back to her life unexpectedly. Although the plot was straight and simple, I think a reader needs to know and be aware of the social meanings within the book and what they mean.

Author Information:

Jane Austen was born on December 16th, 1775, in the village of Steventon, Hampshire, where her father was rector. She was the seventh child in a boisterous family of six boys and two girls. Reading and playacting were favorite family pastimes, and Austen began writing as a young girl. Her Juvenilia, writen between 1787 and 1795, survive in three notebooks and include Lady Susan, a short novel-in-letters. In 1796 she completed another epistolary novel called Elinor and Marianne, later revised to become Sense and Senbility. In 1797 she finished the first version of Pride and Prejudice, called "First Impressions". Northanger Abbey, the last of the early novels, was written in 1798 or 1799 as "Susan."

Until 1801, when her father retired and the family moved to Bath, Austen enjoyed a comfortable life, mixing in the best society in the neighborhood, keeping a carriage and a pair of horses, and attending dances at the stately homes of the local gentry. Neither she nor her sister Cassandra married, but the reasons for this remain conjectural, as Cassandra burned or censored Austen's surviving letters after her death. The eight years following the move from Steventon were evidently unsettled and unhappy ones. The Watsons, her only writing from this period, was never completed. But from 1809, when settled again in her beloved Hampshire, until her final illness in 1817, she lived a productive life in a pleasant cottage in Chawton provided by her wealthy brother Edward.

In 1811 Sense and Sensibility was published anonymously: the title page stated only that it was "by a lady." Immediately successful, this first novel was followed by Pride and Prejudice in 1813 and Mansfield Park in 1814. Emma, written between 1814 and 1815, was "respectfully deidcated" at royal command to George IV. In 1816, already in declining health, Austen wrote Persuasion and revised "Susan" into Northanger Abbey. Her last work, Sandition, was left unfinished at her death on July 18th, 1817. Austen's identity as an author was announced to the world posthumously by her favorite brother, Henry, who supervised the publication of Northanger Abbery and Persuasion in 1818.

Opinion:

If one asks me to name the Jane Austen books I've enjoyed, I'd say Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice were my top favorites, followed by Emma and then by this novel. While I enjoyed reading this book, it didn't sound like a normal Austen novel and somehow the couple, Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliott didn't really ring true for me. In the book, until the very end, there was never a clear sign that Frederick Wentworth was interested in Anne, at least for me. I think I like books that are straight in humor instead of hiding it the way this book does.

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, April 17, 2012

Book Review of Having the Billionaire's Baby by Sandra Hyatt

Name of Book: Having the Billionaire's Baby

Author: Sandra Hyatt

ISBN: 978-0-373-76956-8

Publisher: Silhouette Desire

Type of book: Adult, romance, business, predictions, pregnancy

Year it was published: 2009

Summary:

That business card couldn't be right. Callie Jamieson had just spent one impulsive, passionate night in the arms of the hottest, most irresistible stranger she'd ever met. And morning's light revealed her lover to be new PR client, billionaire Nick Brunicadi...

One sizzling night of passion, then she was gone. Undaunted, Nick was determined to find and have his fill of his mysterious seductress... a seductress, he discovered, who was carrying his heir!

Characters:

The characters can both be described as workaholics and are suitable for one another. While Calypso, or Callie as she is called in the book, tends to be a somewhat sympathetic character to me, I had a difficult time figuring her and the motivations out. Neither she nor Nick are memorable for me, that is I can't recall any specific details or facts about them! Also, I didn't appreciate Callie pointlessly generating conflict between her and Nick, or feeling unable to explain her true feelings to him.

Theme:

Although this is a romance novel, this really had a fairy tale feeling to it, and I couldn't help wondering if the theme was that don't worry the guy will stay by you no matter what. There are cases where the lesson isn't true, or where it ends up worse. I'm not really sure what I was supposed to learn from the book, sorry to say.

Plot:

This was in third person narrative from Callie's and Nick's points of views. To an extent the plot might be easy to follow, although the details difficult for me to understand, sorry to say. I think its because I'm not a business major, and unfortunately if I don't understand the details or whatever else, it can really kill the book for me.

Author Information:

After completing a business degree, traveling and then settling into a career in marketing, Sandra Hyatt was relieved to experience one of life's "eureka!" moments while on maternity leave when she discovered that writing books, although a lot slower, was just as much fun as reading them.

She knows life doesn't always hand out happy endings and figures that's why books ought to. She loves being along for the journey with her character as they work around, over and through the obstacles standing in their way.

Sandra has lived in both the US and England and currently lives near the coast in New Zealand with her high school sweetheart and their children.

You can visit her at www. sandrahyatt.com

(Unfortunately the author passed away in 2011)

Opinion:

I got this book by chance while shopping at a local goodwill store. I have to admit that the cover really intrigued me, which caused me to get this book. I wish I could say that this was a really good book, but I can't say that. While the book wasn't terrible, for some odd reason it didn't catch me either. I think I had a difficult time relating to either the hero or the heroine, and the business things really confused the heck out of me, sorry to say.

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, April 14, 2012

Book Review of #13 Elizabeth's First Kiss by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: Elizabeth's first kiss

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-15835-x

Publisher: Bantam Skylark

Part of a Series: Sweet Valley Twins and Friends

Type of book: Sweet Valley, California, 1985, boys, growing up

Year it was published: 1990

Summary:

Elizabeth Wakefield has known Todd Wilkins since kindergarten, but she's never noticed how cute he really is, until she sees him dancing with her sister, Jessica. Now Elizabeth cant' stop thinking about him- and everywhere she goes, Todd turns up, to. Could he actually like her as much as she likes him? Elizabeth wishes she knew more about boys. But when she finally asks her twin for some advice on the subject, she makes a terrible discovery: Jessica has a crush on Todd, too!

How can Elizabeth fall for a boy that her sister already likes? There's only one honorable thing to do: forget Todd and never let Jessica know she cares. But that's not going to be such an easy thing to do...

Characters:

The characters stay the same as always, Jessica careless and ready to avenge, while Elizabeth is sweet and caring and sacrificial. It is mentioned that Steven does change in the novel as compared to previous Sweet Valley by being more sweet but that's it.

Theme:

Umm not sure what I was supposed to learn from this novel.

Plot:

At the start the book briefly summarizes the previous book, Jessica's secret, and then moves on to more Sweet Valley Twins drama of beginning stages of boys and girls dating, and also has a plot of Steven trying to figure out how to be with two girls. (Wait a minute, why isn't Steven confronting his homosexual feelings in the book if he's gay in Confidential?!) The narrative is in third person and its from multiple characters.

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:

Just like the predecessor, Jessica's Secret, this does seem to be slightly realistic, but still, I didn't appreciate the Steven plot of having two girlfriends, or of the boy drama between the twins. What does seem realistic is the behavior of teens, somehow hesitant yet at the same time bold in approaching one another. The kiss is nothing to write home about and it was on a cheek not the lips. (Does that count as first kiss?)

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, April 13, 2012

Book Review of #12 Jessica's Secret by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: Jessica's Secret

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-15824-4

Publisher: Bantam skylark

Part of a Series: Sweet Valley Twins and Friends

Type of book: 1985, teens, menstruation, California,  growing up

Year it was published: 1990

Summary:

Jessica Wakefield has always prided herself on being the more sophisticated twin, but suddeny it's her sister, Elizabeth, who's blossoming. Overnight, something wonderful has happened to turn Elizabeth into a young woman. And now Jessica's sure that if anyone- especially her sister- finds out that it hasn't happened to her, she'll die of humiliation.

Then the twins get permission to travel to San Diego by themselves to visit their cousin Robin. It's the perfect opportunity for Jessica to prove just how grown-up she really is. But will acting older than hera ge get Jessica into more trouble than she can handle?

Characters:

The characters, although they had to learn the lessons from their misadventures, most likely stayed the same and haven't changed at all. Elizabeth remained sweet as always, and Jessica remained as feisty as always. They did stay in character though.

Theme:

People mature at different rates and just because something happens to them it doesn't mean they will change instantly. (Really? What about Harry Potter I wonder?)

Plot:

Although the novel is part of the series, its not necessary to read the previous books, I think. The book instantly starts with the current even rather than rehashing previous ones. The novel is in third person narrative from Jessica's and Elizabeth's perspectives.

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:

I was somewhat surprised that some situations in the book could be related to teens; that is, even despite the impossible situations, or the very clear morality of "doing the right thing," which this book is lecturing, for me personally, I could relate to it. Maybe its because I read Judy Blume's books which had girls excited about becoming women and getting their periods. There is this idea that when one becomes a man or a woman then one becomes more "mature" yet Elizabeth is shown as herself, as well as Jessica. (The only thing that does change is hormones going crazy...)

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.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review of #5 Lila's Secret Valentine by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: Lila's Secret Valentine

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-48280-7

Publisher: Skylark

Part of a Series: Sweet Valley Twins and Friends specials

Type of book: Specials, valentines, intensity, emotions, California, Sweet Valley, 1985

Year it was published: 1995

Summary:

 Lila Fowler is dreading Valentines Day. She has no valentine, and she's determined not to let her friends in the exclusive Unicorn Club know. So she tells everyone that she does have a boyfriend and sends herself flowers and candy to prove it. Her valentine's name is Gray Williams, and he's rich, cute, and completely made up.

The Unicorns are totally impressed, and Lila is thrilled- until her friends pressure her into bringing Gray to the Valentine's dance. How can she bring a date that doesn't exist?

Characters:

This book explores more about Lila, although Elizabeth and Jessica are also thrown in. I can't imagine the characters changing in any shape or form or even learning from anything, thus the characters are flat and tend to be the same. Boyfriends too seem to be unrealistic and not enough chemistry between Lila and Justin.

Theme:

No matter what, you'll always have a happy ending. Yeah, right. It's obviously a book for teens or little kids and others. I don't believe that idea.

Plot:

This is in third person from Jessica, Elizabeth and Lila's points of view, although to some extent this also has Todd. The story is predictable and has a happy ending, although imagined conflict lasted a long time in my 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:

When comparing this book to Unicorns Go Hawaiian, this feels more genuine and real. Jessica and Elizabeth also have problems with their boyfriends around Valentine's Day, and we also see more of Lila and the dignity she exhibits in front of others. (I kind of admired the part where she learns that her crush has a Valentine's yet she doesn't cry or anything of the kind.)

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 #4 The Unicorns Go Hawaiian by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: The Unicorns go Hawaiian

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-15948-8

Publisher: Skylark

Part of a Series: Sweet Valley Twins and Friends specials

Type of book: Sweet Valley twins, California, curses, unicorn club, secrets, 1985

Year it was published: 1991

Summary:

Just when Jessica Wakefield becomes bored with Sweet Valley, she wins a trip to Hawaii! She brings five of her best friends from the exclusive Unicorn Club, and they're ready to have the time of their lives.

But things don't turn out the way they had planed: Jessica has a streak of bad luck, Janet Howell is convinced that she is a Hawaiian Princess, and Mandy Miller, Mary Wallace, and Ellen Riteman find out a secret that they must keep from Lila Fowler.

The girls don't understand why their trip to paradise is turning out to be the worst vacation ever...until they discover the curse of the Hawaiian volcano goddess!

Characters:

The characters are very naive and absurd. Janet, one of the Unicorns actually believes she's a princess! Everyone believes they're cursed instead of attributing things to circumstances or coincidences. Again, what is the point of creating characters we'll never meet in the main series? Also, Kenji is a Japanese name. The character must be Japanese in origin and not Hawaiian.

Theme:

One thing I didn't appreciate is the hypocrisy in the book. Few times it detailed that the girls themselves lied to the boys, exaggerated the events that happened and seemingly they got off Scott-free. Yet when boys exaggerated or took advantage of the girls, lied as well, they get punished. Anyone see something wrong with this? So, if you're a girl and you lie, you get away with it. If you're a boy and lie then you need to be punished.

Plot:

This is from multiple point of view of the girls in third person and is incredibly absurd. Just because two guys tell you look like a princess you believe that, or just because two same boys tell you that you're wearing a ring that belongs to a dead king you believe them. Are the girls that naive? People may describe me as gullible but I won't believe the things boys told the Unicorns!

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 was my very first Sweet Valley book. I was never obsessed with Sweet Valley series, never cared much for sixth grade series or when they were sixteen, although even when I was in teens those series were incredibly popular. The story was barely memorable and the only thing I enjoyed and still like about the book is the cover of Jessica and her Unicorn twins. I do wonder the point of chillers and specials. They aren't part of regular series and isn't them being twelve or sixteen enough? This is really not a guide to Hawaii and the book itself borders on absurd and incredible suspension of belief is required to enjoy it.

1 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 XVIII: Little House Series' criticism

Possible Spoilers from:

Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the prairie
Farmer Boy
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
Little Town on the Prairie
These Happy Golden Years
The First Four Years

I'm sure that all Americans have heard or at least are familiar with Little House series, a story about a girl in late 19th century who was a pioneer along with her family. The books portray her struggles and lessons that she learns about growing up. We the readers also go through numerous problems that they go through, witnessing the solidarity between family members as well as community. Most of us wish that if there was something to survive from the past, it would be the quintessential and romanticized version of the pioneer life that Laura and her family experienced.

While reading the nine novels and witnessing Laura growing up and struggling with different problems, I couldn't help but be curious about the makeup of the towns portrayed along with what she might have left out. While I do agree that these are children's novels and certain things should be left out, these books celebrate the "traditional" American solidarity where everyone is white and pioneer. People of other races or religions are barely seen or mentioned, and a few books struck me as hypocritical and insensitive. I will briefly outline the history during the 1870s as I know it.

In 1865 Civil War was over and the liberty for African-American slaves has been secured, or so it seemed. In the same year as well Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and during that and next few decades the immigrating population has increased. Just like today, the "established" Americans began to gripe about the changing times about the immigrants and the African Americans getting rights. The KKK was established against African Americans, and others began migrating to different areas, perhaps being spurred by "unwelcome" immigrants. I would guess that is a reason for the Ingalls family constant moving.

Little House in the Big Woods
In Little House in the Big Woods, we first meet Laura and her immediate family, and we also meet the relatives who surround them in the Big Woods. One gets a sense of cocoon or homogeneity surrounding Laura, where she is being surrounded by everyone who is like her. New ideas cannot come through in other words. Laura feels a sense of safety and security because she is within a society where people act alike, dress alike and think alike, and where even they have the same roots and ancestry. There are no people who are different. It is also curious to note that Laura's family sounds very generous but one wonders where are strangers or people who aren't in any way related to Laura's family? Where are neighbors that don't share the same heritage or thoughts as Laura's family? Surely there are other people living in Big Woods aside from Ingalls and those they married!  Wherever they are, they're not shown at all.

Little House on the Prairie 
In the first few pages of Little House on the Prairie, we learn that Laura and her family are moving to what they call an Indian country because the woods were becoming too crowd. In other words, a foreign element was starting to invade their safety nest and thus they fled into Indian territory. In the Indian Territory, this literally becomes "us vs them", as in the settlers that we're supposed to sympathize with and the Indians and government we're supposed to dislike for causing everyone else to leave the land that doesn't even belong to them. This book was written in 1935, in the midst of Great Depression. In this book as well Laura talks about Fever 'n' Ague that her family experiences and mentions a slight update on what it might have been, while she never discusses or talks about why Native Americans were forced to march and what it could mean. In 1935, I am positive that she could have had the materials to update on what is going on! 


Farmer Boy
This book won't have as much criticism as the first two Little House books. This book does contain people outside of American race such as the two workers that Almanzo's father employs and the townspeople when all of them go out to celebrate 4th of July, but again, what about people of color or different religions? This is New York after all, the state that a lot of Jews live in, so why aren't they pictured in Farmer Boy? 


On the Banks of Plum Creek
The foreigners in On the Banks of Plum Creek  aren't portrayed well. The man who sells the Ingalls family his dug out doesn't know any English other than "Yah, yah." There is also the time when Laura had to give her doll to a little girl who happened to be a foreigner and the girl, instead of treasuring the doll, threw it outside where Laura found it in the rain. Nellie Olson also has more of a foreign sound than an American one, and for those who don't remember, she bullied Laura in the series, or else competed with her. 


By the Shores of Silver Lake
Although the books after On the Banks of Plum Creek move away from being purely for children, it is also curious that Laura tends to omit possible foreigners in By the Shores of Silver Lake, or at least she doesn't focus on them. (In Willa Cather's books, foreigners arrived to the prairie and lived there, while that part is omitted from By the Shores of Silver Lake.) There is also an offensive term in the book, or at least I believe it sounds offensive "half breed" when referring to Big Jerry who is drawn as a mysterious type figure, but also helpful very briefly. 


The Long Winter
In all honesty there is barely any criticism to this book because it focused on the winter and the town trying to survive it. Oh yes, there is that "mysterious" Native American who warns Pa and the villagers about the hard winter by using Peter Pan type language. " 'Heap big snow, big wind,' he [Native American] said...'Many moons,' the Indian said. He held up four fingers, then three fingers. Seven fingers, seven months; blizzards for seven months. They all looked at him and did not say anything. 'You white men,' he said. 'I tell-um you.'He showed seven fingers again. 'Big snow.' Again, seven fingers. 'Big snow.' Again seven fingers. 'Heap big snow, many moons.' THen he tapped his breast with his forefinger. 'Old! Old! I have seen!' he said proudly. " (61-62 of Long Winter.) By the way, I researched and there was no old Native American man in real life warning the villagers of seven months of blizzards. That depiction also sets up that Native American are something other than people. One thing I neglected to mention is Ma's attitude towards foreign women: "She [Ma] did not like to see women working in the fields. Only foreigners did that. Ma and her girls were Americans, above doing men's work." (4 of The Long Winter.) Thing is, way back then, women had no choice but to work for the livelihood to survive. The foreign women didn't have the advantage that the Ingalls family had, and I doubt many Americans trusted foreigners. 


Little Town on the Prairie 
In Little Town on the Prairie, Laura goes to work in a town to help send her older sister Mary to college for the blind. Laura's first employer is an Irishman named Clancy who is described as argumentative with the hiring lady and red-haired to boot. Although I do imagine that the scenes she describes while working at Clancy's aren't tolerable, there's an element of hostility added to the descriptions. She basically doesn't take the time to get to know her employers, nor is her outlook sympathetic or well intentioned towards the Clancy family. Her family as well doesn't talk about the family, which gives the reader stock characters instead of something complete. 


These Happy Golden Years
Although Nellie Olson isn't pleasant in the previous books and does mean things, I did feel pity for her in These Happy Golden Years, and unfortunately I didn't like Laura there, especially what she did so that Almanzo could dump Nellie Olson. I also have a hard time believing that Laura likes Almanzo as a person, and, purpotedly like Nellie, she likes him because he has Morgan horses, probably because barely any of his personality is shown in the books. Other than that this book focuses more on the happy moments of the family such as Laura working and eventually marrying, giving an idea to a cycle of sorts. 


The First Four Years
There is definite distaste and fear of anything foreign, which includes people and Native Americans. At first Laura mentions the families we never met in any previous books and how this one person from a different country borrows stuff and never returns, and so forth. The names are all foreign. Then there's a scene where Native Americans are depicted as intruders and come inside, asking Laura to be their squaw. Don't Native Americans have more respect for women than what's shown in books? "Laura had seen Indians often, without fear... The Indians came around the house to the back door and tried to open that. Then seeing Laura through the window they made signs for her to open the door, indicating that they would not hurt her. But Laura shook her head and told them to go away. Likely they only wanted something to eat, but still one never could tell.... Instead they were going to the barn- and her new saddle was hanging in the barn and Trixy was there...Trixy! Her pet and comrade!...Then Indians only stared for a moment; then one of them grunted an unintelligible word and laid his hand on Laura's arm. Quick as a flash she slapped his face with all her might... Then with signs pointing to himself, his pony, and then with a sweep of his arm toward the west, he said, 'You go-me-be my squaw?' Laura shook her head, and stamping her foot again, motioned them all to their ponies and away, telling them to go." (31-33 The First Four Years.) Although the author tries to depict herself as a heroine, for me personally she fails to do so. 


In conclusion, if the books do indeed celebrate diversity, where are foreigners or people of different faiths? Not even foreigners but what about possible African-Americans or Jews who might live in these parts? (There are Jews who lived in America since even before 1600s...) What of the poor people? I once heard that conservatives enjoy these books and I can really see why; no foreign elements just a "romantic" period of everyone being the same so to speak.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Passover!

I know its a little late, but for those who are celebrating the holiday, Happy Passover and Easter as well!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Review of The Seventh Stone by Nancy Freedman

Name of Book: The Seventh Stone

Author: Nancy Freedman

ISBN: 0-525-93424-3

Publisher: Dutton, published by Penguin

Type of book: Japan, 1940s- 1990s, power, wealth, effects, revenge, tradition, liberality

Year it was published: 1992

Summary:

A young man dies a hero in the Pacific in the closing months of World War II. His name is Noboru. His mission: that of a Kamikaze pilot. It is his lasting legacy that shadows this magnificent multi-generational saga spanning fifty years of war and peace- from Japan's grim wartime defeat to its stunning economic world triumph today.

Nancy Freedman, bestselling author of the unforgettable Mrs Mike, has written her crowning achievement in this richly textured novel about three generations of a Japanese family whose story crosses all cultural boundaries and geographical borders between East and West. At its heart is Momoko, Noboru's young widow, whose personal metamorphosis mirrors the changing face of Japan itself. Her courage and spirit are put to the test as she strives to rebuild her life in a society which denies all power to her sex. She is a mother who watches her young son Akio grow into a man she increasingly fears. His vast power is all the more dangerous for his being so brilliant; he is all the more shameful for his willingness to betray his mother sacred secret. Akio, fueled by revenge and twisted patriotism, builds a global business juggernaut to regain honor for his country so that Japan may finally conquer with economic might what it long ago failed to do with military force. As her son persists in waging a war long over, Momoko holds fast to the traditional values of Japan, finding their modern day application in an ever-changing world.

 Ten years in the making, The Seventh Stone is a majestic novel of historic scope that expertly intertwines one woman's story within the larger story of a family, a culture, and a tradition. The result is a mesmerizing novel peopled with characters to treasure and a stunning portrait of a rich, enigmatic culture where a feudal past collides with an onrushing future.

Characters:

I've actually enjoyed reading the earlier characters of Noboru, Momoko and Akio, although it did take me a while to understand and start enjoying the novel. However, by the time I started to enjoy Akio's complexity as well as his mindset and obsession, the character shifted to Miko. I didn't like Miko and what she was involved with, I could care less about. I think I desired to see more of Akio's psychology rather than brief glimpses during the formative years as his mother sees them. I also liked the character of Massaru, Akio's cousin and kind of wish that what happened didn't happen. Also as well, I didn't buy into Sumie's character. She loved Massaru until the accident, but then she married Akio?

Theme:

There is a scene where Takeo and Akio are on a plane, and are about to play a game of Go. Takeo picks up seven stones and names them after the characters of Masaru, Kenji, Shigeru, Sumie, Juro, Miko and the last stone is Momoko, Akio's mother. There are also numerous mentions of how the bomb can be compared to the womb which can be linked to the harshness Akio received inside the womb when he was developing.

Plot:

This is in third person from Noboru's, Momoko's, Akio's, and Miko's points of views. Unfortunately there is very little warning of when the author will shift her point of view from one character to another, although thank goodness its separated by paragraphs when she does so! There are plenty of explanations for numerous things but I still felt alienated from reading it. Its also a bit creepy how in some technology that the author writes about kind of came true.

Author Information:

Nancy Freedman is the author of ten novels, including her bestselling Mrs Mike, which has been translated into twenty-seven languages and has been kept continuously in print since 1949.

Opinion:

Although its obvious that the author took pains with research and describing the psychology of characters in a Japanese way, along with numerous explanations about the culture, this book was a torture to get through. The female characters were unappealing, Miko, Akio's daughter in particular, also it's not divided into chapters which made it more difficult to read. The crucial times for characters were glossed over or there were time jumps, and there was also confusion in beginning for me because I wasn't sure about whether or not Noboru went back home. The only part that was enjoyable for me was Akio.

(Whether or not the novel is accurate, click here)

1 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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