Thursday, May 31, 2012

Book Review of #1 Angels Watching Over Me by Lurlene McDaniel

Name of Book: Angels Watching Over Me

Author: Lurlene McDaniel

ISBN: 0-553-57098-6

Publisher: Laurel Leaf books

Part of a Series: Angels trilogy

Type of book: bone cancer, miracles, Amish, angels, 1990s, hospital

Year it was published: 1996

Summary:

Happy Holidays! Bah humbug. "Happy" is not the way Leah Lewis-Hall would describe herself at the moment. She's spending her twelve days of Christmas in an Indianapolis hospital, while her mother is thousands of miles away on a honeymoon with husband number five. Leah went to the doctor with nothing more than a broken finger, but he ordered her to undergo some tests. Now she's stuck in the hospital, alone.

Then Leah meets her hospital roommate, a young Amish girl named Rebekah, and her big family. Cynical sixteen-year-old Leah has never known people like this before. From Rebekah's handsome brother, Ethan, who can barely look Leah in the eye, to her kind older sister, Charity, the Amish family captivates Leah with its simple, loving ways. When Leah receives frightening information about her condition, her new friends show her that miracles can happen. And that sometimes angels appear in the most unexpected places.

Characters:

I enjoyed the characters of Leah and others, although the change happened too quickly and it also happened off-screen. That is in beginning Leah was reluctant to believe in angels and whatnot, while at the very end she decides to believe them. I do wish to have gotten to know the character of Molly and the characters of Ethan, Charity and Rebekah. Personality wise, Leah struggles with the idea of loneliness and was raised in that fashion by her mother. Ethan has a struggle of wanting to be part of the Amish community and part of Leah's world, at least he's taking the steps to that direction. The facts about the Amish are fascinating in my opinion, especially getting to know them.

Theme:

There can be miracles

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from Leah's point of view. I felt that the novel was too short and not conclusive. The falling action happened very quickly and one could have missed it in the blink of the eye. Although I have Leah change slightly, but its mainly off screen than anything else. Other than that, I enjoyed this book a great deal and I feel that it can really speak to the heart. In the future two novels, I do hope that I'll get a chance to be reunited with Molly and find out about her story.

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:

For me personally the novel was too short and every chapter seemed to end with a cliffhanger. The denouement, falling action, is too quick and too blink of the eye and its gone. I did enjoy the story and found it to be touching and melancholy. This is part of the trilogy, thus perhaps other books will fill in the blanks what the first one couldn't.

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, May 29, 2012

Book Challenge A-Z #11 Zoya by Danielle Steel

Fulfilling the requirement: 

The Z requirement for title alphabetically

Summary:

Against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution and World War I Europe, Zoya, young cousin to the Tsar, flees St. Petersburg to Paris to find safety. Her entire world forever changed, she faces hard times and joins the Ballet Russe in Paris. And then, when life is kind to her, Zoya moves on to a new and glittering life in New York. The days of ease are all too brief as the Depression strikes, and she loses everything yet again. It is her career, and the man she meets in the course of it, which ultimately save her, as she rebuilds her life through the war years and beyond. And it is her family that comes to mean everything to her. From the roaring twenties to the 1980's, Zoya remains a rare and spirited woman whose legacy will live on.

Lesson learned:

The story is never ending and continues

Link to review: click here

Book Challenge A-Z #10 The Debt of Tears by Xueqin Cao

Fulfilling the requirement:

The X requirement for author's last name

Summary:

Divided into five volumes, of which The Debt of Tears is the fourth, it charts the glory and decline of the illustrious Jia family (a story which closely accords with the fortunes of the author's own family). The two main characters, Bao-yu, and Dai-yu, are set against a rich tapestry of humor, realistic detail and delicate poetry which accurately reflects the ritualized hurly-burly of Chinese family life. BUt over and above the novel hangs the constant reminder that there is another plane of existence- a theme which affirms the Buddhist belief in a supernatural scheme of things.

Lesson learned:

People should be in control of their own destinies, rather than their families.

Link to review: click here

Book Review of Emma by Jane Austen

Name of Book: Emma

Author: Jane Austen

ISBN: 0-7607-0166-0

Publisher: Barnes and Noble Classics

Type of book: Regency England, 1800s, marriage, fear of diseases and colds, "humor", friendship, class rigidity

Year it was published: 1816 (version I have 1996)

Summary:

Pretty, bright and born atop the social strata of the English village of Highbury, Emma Woodhouse has all anyone would want. But she is fated to become the victim of her own irrepressible willfulness.

Because of hte recent marriage of her friend and governess, Emma fills the void in her life by attempting to "improve" Harriet Smith, a sweet, pretty 17-year-old of unknown parentage. Emma's good-hearted attempts to rearrange the lives of Harriet and other marriageable townspeople are then the incitement to the book's subtle, intricately constructed plot.

Austen employs a sympathetic, gentle satire as she portrays the provincial townspeople-all of whom are good-hearted, but have their own particular streak of ridiculousness. Emma's father, Mr. Woodhouse, is deferred to by all, but maintains an absurd aversion to change and an overweening concern for maintaining what he considers to be a well-measured, healthy lifestyle. The chatty Miss Bates is sweet-tempered, but talks incessantly about everything that comes into view. And then there is Emma herself, who seems to know all but her own heart.

With the tightly weaved movements of the characters and the interplay of their romantic schemes, Emma has elements of a well-done mystery novel. But the book's leisurely exposition and skillful use of irony make it an amusing comedy of manners in which the reader can savor the all-too-familiar foibles of the heart as it becomes a hunter.

Characters:

For me personally the characters aren't very interesting and seem to be dense and boring. I am trying to figure out what caused for this novel to become boring for me and perhaps its definitely on the dated side rather than anything else. This has some modern overtones but perhaps the dense language caused for the novel to be boring. There is no sparkles or liveliness within. I couldn't relate to any characters and I didn't like them either.

Theme:

Umm, when you try to match people, be careful because things may not work out.

Plot:

Very dense plot and the novel is completely from Emma's point of view. It seems as if the author was trying to make the novel interesting but somehow failing to do that, even with multiple people involved. The only positive thing is that at least Fanny wasn't killing the novel like in Mansfield Park. After Mansfield Park I can understand why I liked the novel, but reading it now, I can't understand why I liked it.

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 dedicated" 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:

Just like Persuasion and Mansfield Park, I've read this book for a Jane Austen class. I remember that back then I read it straight after Mansfield Park oh how big relief it was! Not irritating or boring at all. Today, although not irritating, I found it boring. This is a very dense book and humor is very hard to spot. All I know is that its about a woman named Emma who makes some mistakes along the way when it comes to matchmaking and is guided by George Knightley, the man who eventually became her husband. Maybe its me but it seems that the more Austen composed novels, the more dense and humorless they have become, or else my mind is not evolved enough to understand them. The novel is also anti-equality and presents a very rigid society along with trying to discourage to help less fortunate rise to 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.)

Book Review of #1 Song of the River by Sue Harrison

Name of Book: Song of the River

Author: Sue Harrison

ISBN: 0-380-72603-3

Publisher: Avon fiction

Part of a Series: Storyteller trilogy; cry of the wind, call down the stars sequels

Type of book: mainland Alaska, Native Americans, prehistoric novel, 6480 BCE, 6460-6459 BCE, competition, enemies, revenge, healing, war, mystery

Year it was published: 1997

Summary:

Eighty centuries before our time -- in the frozen interior of a place that would someday be called Alaska -- a clubfooted babe was left in the snow to die...until he was rescued by a young woman ravaged by her enemies and sworn to vengeance.

Twenty years later, the child, called Chakliux, has grown to manhood and occupies an honored place as his tribe's treasured storyteller, while his adoptive mother K'os has grown cunning and cold. But in the neighboring village of the Near River People -- where he has been sent to make peace by wedding the shaman's daughter -- a shocking double murder occurs that sets Chakliux on a remarkable journey. Driven by the ancient songs of sea and sky, earth and animals, the storyteller traverses a harsh, unknown, yet enthralling landscape in search of the strange truth about the offenses for which his people have suffered...and about the hateful, ambitious woman who raised him, who may be his most dangerous enemy of all.

Characters:

The characters are three dimensional and are very engaging. There are multiple characters, in particular Chakliux and his adopted mother K'os who's a very complex yet powerful and influential woman, bent on getting revenge. There is also Yaa, a young girl who became an adopted mother to Ghaden and Aquamdax who discovered her own power of storytelling and tries to overcome her own obstacles as being seen as someone who sleeps with every male tribe member. I enjoyed the budding romance between her and Chakliux and also enjoyed hanging out with other characters and learning about their motivations, such as Sok's desire to marry Snows-in-her-hair.

Theme:

Life is full of surprises and expect the unexpected.

Plot:

The book is in third person narrative from multiple characters' points of views. The characters are well rounded, the story is very gripping and something that everyone can enjoy. It seems as if this novel has something for everyone; war for those seeking war, the conflict between good and evil, the slow romance between Chakliux and Aquamdax, and so forth. I didn't get bored reading the novel because its varied between the characters and so forth.

Author Information:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opinion:

Since reading of Brother Wind, Song of the River is much improved and gripping, also the characters feel human. I loved reading the novel and learning about the customs of Native Americans so many years ago, also how they lived. If you love prehistoric fiction, I would highly recommend this novel, even if you don't. There's mindset and psychology in there, as well as the effects of war and competition. The mainland Native Americans are also in competition and do a lot of things differently when comparing them to the sea-faring North Native Americans.

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.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Book Review of #2 For Better, For Worse, Forever by Lurlene McDaniel

Name of Book: For Better, for Worse, Forever

Author: Lurlene McDaniel

ISBN: 0-553-57108-7

Publisher: Laurel Leaf books

Part of a Series: As long as we both shall live

Type of book: death, widowhood, second chances, cancer, brain tumor, suicide, St. Croix, 1990s

Year it was published: 1997

Summary:

April thinks she and Mark will be together forever. But since Mark's death, she has never felt more alone. Then Brandon Benedict comes into her life. Brandon is lonely and angry- he and April have a lot in common. Their closeness helps them both heal. But April cannot tell Brandon about her illness. When April's medical problems suddenly return, she must decide what to tell Brandon. Can the strength of the love she has felt before help her now?

Characters:

April does change a great deal in the sequel, especially towards the end and tries to appreciate everyday. I also found it sweet that Brandon is there to help her and encourage her while he can. There are secondary characters but there wasn't enough limelight on them, thus we barely get to know them. (Spoilers ahead) April is determined to be happy since the death of her fiance from the previous novel, and with the help of Mark overcomes sadness. She likes to take chances, and, in some cases, is also in denial in beginning when familiar symptoms return. Mark is angry with his father and often blames him for what happened to the mother. He learns from April to appreciate day to day living and to take chances.

Theme:

Enjoy life to the fullest, for you never know when it will be over.

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from both April's and Mark's points of views, although April's took up almost the entire novel. It immediately picks up from the first novel and asks questions that one will never find answers to; why this happened. Still its a sweet novel and a worthwhile read. I do feel that some issues seemed to be glossed over and wish that the author could have paid more attention to them.

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:

This novel will induce tears and its also sad. But it also discusses second chances at love, albeit briefly and, it seems, its all about second chances and treasuring the times while they last. I felt that it was too brief with major issues and I liked that the ending felt realistic instead of sugary and sappy. Be sure to have plenty of tissues if you decide to read it. This also picks up immediately after 'Till Death Do Us Part, and it can be read on its own, although the first novel will make it more understanding. (Actually I have read For Better, for Worse, Forever first before reading 'Till Death Do Us Part.)

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 #9 'Till Morning Comes by Suyin Han

Fulfilling the requirement:

The H requirement for the author alphabetically

Summary:

Alone in exotic Chungking, beautiful foreign correspondent Stephanie Ryder is warned to keep silent about the atrocities she witnesses in the city’s teeming slums. Defying a brutal Kuomintang officer, she is swept to an electrifying first meeting with Dr. Jen Yong, a handsome, dedicated and compassionate Chinese surgeon. For Yong, a sexual liaison with an American woman could mean a death sentence. For Stephanie, an affair with an Asian man would cause an irreparable breach with her Texas millionaire father. But just when danger threatens to separate them forever, their passion bursts into flame…and carries them on a fabulous romantic journey from the stormy depths of fear and desire, to the moving affirmation that enduring love is truly a many-splendored thing.

Lesson learned:

No matter how hard you'll try to fit into something you can't, you will not be able to.

Link to review: click here

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Challenge A-Z #8 The Year the Horses Came by Mary Mackey

Fulfilling the requirement:

The Y requirement for the tile, alphabetically

Summary:


The year is 4372 B.C.E a beautiful girl is poised on the brink of womanhood and her culture is about to undergo one of the most momentous transformations in human history.

So begins Mary Mackey's dazling tale, a page-turning saga that revisits the wild and panoramic beauty of ancient Europe to tell a story of extraordinary love and passion in the midst of intrigue and war.

The Year the Horses came vividly evokes the violent moment in prehistory when marauding nomads brought horses, male gods and war to a Europe that had known peace for thousands of years. Against this perilous backdrop, a passionate, dangerous love develops between Marrah, a brave and gifted priestess, and Stavan, one of hte warriors sent to invade her peace-loving land. Brilliantly capturing the lives of those women and men caught in this life-shattering crossfire, Mackey traces the young Marrah's treacherous path across Europe, from the shores of Brittany and hte cave paintings of western France to the temples of Sardinia and the Steppes of the East. Though Marrah finds barbarism, the brutalization of women, and environmental destruction, her stunning journey also reveals the human capacity for love, compassion, and enduring faith.


Lesson learned:

The clash between opposite cultures and mindset will be very great and violent.

Link to review: click here

Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Review of #1 Remember Me by Christopher Pike

Name of Book: Remember Me

Author: Christopher Pike

ISBN: 0-671-73685-X

Publisher: Archway Paperback series

Part of a Series: Remember me series

Type of book: ghosts, death, life, incest, 1990s, clairvoyance, Ouija board

Year it was published: April 1989

Summary:

When Shari Cooper awoke at home after being at her girlfriend's birthday party, her family acted like she wasn't there. They didn't hear a thing she said. They wouldn't even look at her. Then the call came from the hospital. Her father and brother paled. Her mother started to cry. Shari didn't know what was wrong. Not until she followed them to the hospital. There she found herself lying on a cold slab in the morgue. The police said that it was suicide.

Shari knew she had been murdered. Making a vow to herself to find her killer, Shari embarks on the strangest of all criminal investigations: one in which she spies on her friends, and even enters their dreams -- where she comes face-to-face with a nightmare from beyond the grave. The Shadow -- a thing more horrible than death itself -- is the key to Shari's death, and the only thing that can stop her murderer from murdering again.

Characters:

I think the characters are two dimensional, that is to me they don't change and seem to be the same. Despite the constancy though, they are entertaining and well written. In someways too the characters tend to be predictable, although I think I may have read too much of Pike's novels.

Theme:

Death does not mean the end of life

Plot:

This is in first person narrative from Shari's point of view. Its a sweet novel and heartbreaking as well. I often felt that it doesn't deserve to be made into a series because the first book is perfect on its own and it wraps everything up nicely, beside the fact that what had Peter seen and if he ever managed to communicate with his brother.

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 novel is a typical Pike, but an early Pike not a late Pike with things out of this world. He explores the possible afterlife of Shari Cooper and what happens when she dies. It has twists and turns and, for me, unpredictable events. I would recommend it as well, and think it might be a good novel for those who are grief-stricken over potential suicide. Its not preachy in my opinion.

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, May 20, 2012

E-reading: Book Review of Zoya by Danielle Steel

Name of Book: Zoya

Author: Danielle Steel

ISBN: 978-0-307-56706-2

Publisher: Dell

Type of book: Russia, 1917-1970s, America, history, multi generational family saga,

Year it was published: 1988

Summary:

Against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution and World War I Europe, Zoya, young cousin to the Tsar, flees St. Petersburg to Paris to find safety. Her entire world forever changed, she faces hard times and joins the Ballet Russe in Paris. And then, when life is kind to her, Zoya moves on to a new and glittering life in New York. The days of ease are all too brief as the Depression strikes, and she loses everything yet again. It is her career, and the man she meets in the course of it, which ultimately save her, as she rebuilds her life through the war years and beyond. And it is her family that comes to mean everything to her. From the roaring twenties to the 1980's, Zoya remains a rare and spirited woman whose legacy will live on.

Characters:

Very empty characters that don't match to the history. She probably created characters but never bothered to flesh out the souls. I couldn't relate or like any of the characters. We are told why we should like them and feel sorry for them, but it rings hollow. The character of Sasha, I'm willing to believe, is only included just so Zoya could try to be seen like a human being, which I know she's not.

Theme:

No idea what the message should have been.

Plot:

From Zoya's and everyone else's point of view. There isn't a story and most of the information focuses on the Mary Sue-ness of Zoya. There is endless constant repetition of the same words over and over, and ever so slightly the plot might move a little.

Author Information:

From wikipedia: " Danielle Fernande Dominique Schuelein-Steel (born August 14, 1947, New York City) better known as Danielle Steel, is an American romantic novelist and author of mainstream dramas.

"Best known for drama novels, Steel has sold more than 800 million copies of her books (as of 2005) worldwide and is the eighth best selling writer of all time. Her novels have been on the New York Times bestseller list for over 390 consecutive weeks[1] and 22 have been adapted for television."

Opinion:

I have no idea where to start. For one thing, while this novel was written just like the previous ones I have read, for some odd reason it didn't seem to annoy as others have. Her writing style is mediocre in my opinion, every single paragraph is either about Zoya's beauty or strength or how much the men she meets are all in love with her. There is nothing personal about the book which would cause to me to relate to Zoya. Also as well, I didn't appreciate the lack of realism when it came to Russian or Jewish characters in her book: my family lived in America since 1994, and even now my mother keeps saying how when she'll have grandchildren we will teach them Russian or other things. Few Russian people I know are the same way too, raising their children and keeping the culture with them. Jewish families are close knit, thus I should have expected for Simon's parents to visit Zoe frequently, and why didn't Danielle Steel mention the Jewish holidays that Simon celebrates or tries to celebrate with his family such as Chanukkah? Historically and culturally wise, she handled the novel very poorly. Why didn't Zoya ever confront the Red Scare of '50s and '20s? It would have been the right time to do it because she came from Paris and escaped from Russia before that. Why no segregation or struggle for Zoya that would have been realistic? The novel is empty and Danielle Steel simply uses trappings and not the souls attached to the trappings.

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.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Book Review of #4 The Debt of Tears by Xueqin Cao

Name of Book: The Debt of Tears

Author: Xueqin Cao, Gao E

ISBN: 0-14-044371-1

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Part of a Series: The story of the stone

Type of book: China, Manchurian Dynasty, soul mates, 1700s, wealth, death, true love

Year it was published: 1760 ( Version I have 1982)

Summary:

Divided into five volumes, of which The Debt of Tears is the fourth, it charts the glory and decline of the illustrious Jia family (a story which closely accords with the fortunes of the author's own family). The two main characters, Bao-yu, and Dai-yu, are set against a rich tapestry of humor, realistic detail and delicate poetry which accurately reflects the ritualized hurly-burly of Chinese family life. BUt over and above the novel hangs the constant reminder that there is another plane of existence- a theme which affirms the Buddhist belief in a supernatural scheme of things.

Characters:

Although the author tries to keep semblance of the characters from the first three volumes, I feel that he doesn't succeed well and the characters are mere shadows of themselves. The volume is more of plot driven rather than character or detail driven. I do feel that many things are missing. In an odd way too I can describe the world as fragmenting and breaking apart, mere threads holding on to the story.


Theme:

This novel was about true love between Bao-yu and Dai-yu, but I think both the authors were trying to imply the wrongness of having the parents make marital decisions rather than the characters themselves.

Plot:

This will not have the first three volume's verbosity and detail, and I feel that there's a lot lacking when it comes to characters or Xueqin's enormous attention for details. It is written in third person narrative from multiple characters' point of views. It pushes the story forward to an ultimate lesson and conclusion, whatever it may be.

Author Information:

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

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

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

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

Opinion:

If you have read the previous three novels and noticed the verbosity as well as the meticulous attention to details and if you liked that, then this part will be disappointing. On the other hand, if you found the first three volumes boring and are more of a plot person than detail, you will enjoy this novel. Its obvious from the size as well as the language that there was a different translator and it indeed were fragments rather than a whole and complete picture. There are a number of things that I didn't understand, and some were inaccurate. For example, when Dai-yu was starving herself, the effects of anorexia aren't described accurately, and there is also something to do with hell that I didn't understand but won't go into because its a spoiler.

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, May 17, 2012

E-Reading: Book Review of #1 Love is a Battlefield by Tamara Morgan

Name of Book: Love is a Battlefield

Author: Tamara Morgan

ASIN: B006ZBSC8U

Publisher: Samhain

Part of a Series: Games of Love

Type of book: Re-enactments, highland, Jane Austen, pride, honor, half Guam/half American male/American female

Year it was published: 2012

Summary:

It takes a real man to wear a kilt. And a real woman to charm him out of it.


Games of Love, Book 1

It might be modern times, but Kate Simmons isn’t willing to live a life without at least the illusion of the perfect English romance. A proud member of the Jane Austen Regency Re-Enactment Society, Kate fulfills her passion for courtliness and high-waisted gowns in the company of a few women who share her love of all things heaving.

Then she encounters Julian Wallace, a professional Highland Games athlete who could have stepped right off the covers of her favorite novels. He’s everything brooding, masculine, and, well, heaving. The perfect example of a man who knows just how to wear his high sense of honor—and his kilt.

Confronted with a beautiful woman with a tongue as sharp as his sgian dubh, Julian and his band of merry men aren’t about to simply step aside and let Kate and her gaggle of tea-sippers use his land for their annual convention. Never mind that “his land” is a state park—Julian was here first, and he never backs down from a challenge.

Unless that challenge is a woman unafraid to fight for what she wants...and whose wants are suddenly the only thing he can think about.


Warning: The historical re-enactments in this story contain very little actual history. Battle chess and ninja stars may apply.

Characters:

I liked the characters and could easily understand their motivations. For me it was difficult to predict who would win and who would lose, and I also couldn't really figure out who to root for; for Kate who's finally standing up for herself and refusing to back down or for Julian to whom Highland Games carry such big importance in life. The secondary characters such as Kate's and Julian's friends also sparkled and are given personality, although they didn't seem to change a lot.

Theme:

It's worth losing if it means you find love.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from Julian's and Kate's points of views. I don't know of the historical accuracy with this book, but it was easy to read and its very modern. I liked the chemistry between the leads, although I felt that some minor problems weren't really resolved. I also enjoyed reading about the pranks they pulled on one another, and in many ways Julian reminded me of Kate's friend, although Kate gives back as good as Julian gives.

Author Information:

Tamara Morgan is a romance writer and unabashed lover of historical reenactments--the more elaborate and geeky the costume requirements, the better. In her quest for modern-day history and intrigue, she has taken fencing classes, forced her child into Highland dancing, and, of course, journeyed annually to the local Renaissance Fair. These feats are matched by a universal love of men in tights, of both the superhero and codpiece variety.

Opinion:

I've won this book from smartbitchestrashybooks.com website for the book club in March I believe. I wasn't sure what to expect when I won this book unexpectedly. I thought it would be with no plot and plenty of sex scenes, I didn't think it would be smartly written and had an unforgettable beginning with Kate's friend bringing in male strippers to a Jane Austen ball. I've never read an e-book before in my life, so this is the first time I've finished it. After searching for a place to host their local ball, they run into the hero, Julian who is completely obsessed with Highland Games and desires to get a sponsorship. If there is something I could pick with its just that certain chapters were a little too long in my opinion, but other than that I never felt bored reading this novel, and it was very gripping; the pranks, the chemistry and especially the growth of heroine and hero. The ending is very sweet and happy.

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 #7 The Promise by Chaim Potok

Fulfilling the requirement:

The P requirement for author's last name

Summary:

For young Reuven Malter, it is a time of testing. With his teachers, he struggles for recognition of his boldly radical methods of scholarship. With his old friend Danny Saunders-who himself had abandoned his legacy as the chosen heir to his father’s rabbinical dynasty for the uncertain life of a healer-he battles to save a sensisitive boy imprisoned by his genius and rage, defeated by the same forces of an unyielding past that challenge Reuven. Painfully, and, at last, triumphantly, Reuven grows into a guardian of the ancient, sacred promise to his people, while earning his hard-fought right to make his own beginning.

Lesson learned:

Even if you don't like the change, you have to figure out a way to accept it.

Link to review: click here

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Challenge A-Z #6 Homeland by John Jakes

Fulfilling the requirement: 

Alphabetical author the J letter.

Summary:

As America hurtles through the final explosive events of the nineteenth century, a young German immigrant named Pauli Kroner is about to realize his dream. He will taste a life of privilege in the Chicago mansion of his uncle, Joe Crown, head of a brewery dynasty. But Pauli's ultimate clash with that stern, proud patriarch will force him to a risky existence on the city's dark side. Here he will become Paul Crown, a bold, ambitious man driven by a powerful vision. His rise from penniless newcomer to pioneer newsreel cameraman will span a tumultuous decade of strikes, war, family scandal, and heartbreak in the country he has chosen as his...

Lesson learned:

A home can be earned through pain and good things. A home is unexpected.

Link to review: click here

Book Review of the Monk by Matthew Lewis

Name of Book: The Monk

Author: Matthew Lewis

ISBN: Project Gutenberg

Publisher: Project Gutenberg

Type of book: 1400s, Inquisition, religion, Catholic, death, incest, demon, temptations, Spain

Year it was published:  1796

Summary:

Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, The Monk is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The great struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions leads its main character, the monk Ambrosio, to temptation and the breaking of his vows, then to sexual obsession and rape, and finally to murder in order to conceal his guilt. The only edition of this key gothic novel available, The Monk now offers a new introduction and notes that make it especially accessible to the modern reader..

Characters:

There is no depth to the characters, although the author tries to create depth, especially in Ambrosio the monk. He tries to link all the characters together but none of them are interesting or even hold interest for me. With exception of Ambrosio, the characters weren't interesting and were quite boring.

Theme:

Once you fall from grace, you will keep on falling.

Plot:

This jumps back and forth from Ambrosio's views to Elvira's daughter and the two suitors, thus its confusing as to who's talking. Everything is jumbled up and its extremely difficult to keep the plots straight in my head, as to what's going on. There is way too much and very soon I got bored by the endless fireworks and began skipping paragraphs. The last few pages are a killer, if only the rest of the book was like that as well.

Author Information:

born
July 09, 1775 in London, England, The United Kingdom

died
May 14, 1818

gender
male

genre
Gothic, Literature & Fiction


About this author

Matthew Gregory Lewis was an English novelist and dramatist, often referred to as "Monk" Lewis, because of the success of his classic Gothic novel, The Monk.

Matthew Gregory Lewis was the firstborn child of Matthew and Frances Maria Sewell Lewis. His father, Matthew Lewis was the son of William Lewis and Jane Gregory. He was born in Jamaica in 1750. He attended Westminster School before proceeding to Christ Church, Oxford where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1769 and his master’s in 1772. That same year, he was appointed as the Chief Clerk in the War Office. The following year, Lewis married Frances Maria Sewell, a young woman who was very popular at court. She was the third daughter born to Sir Thomas Sewell and was one of eight children born in his first marriage. Her family, like Lewis’, had connections with Jamaica. As a child, she spent her time in Ottershaw. In December 1775, in addition to his post as the Chief Clerk in the War Office, Lewis became the Deputy-Secretary at War. With one exception, he was the first to hold both positions at that same time (and earning both incomes). Lewis owned considerable property in Jamaica, within four miles of Savanna-la-Mer, or Savanna-la-Mar, which was hit by a devastating earthquake and hurricane in 1779. His son would later inherit this property.

In addition to Matthew Gregory Lewis, Matthew and Frances had three other children: Maria, Barrington, and Sophia Elizabeth. On 23 July 1781, when Matthew was six and his youngest sister was one and a half years old, Frances left her husband, taking the music master, Samuel Harrison, as her lover. During their estrangement, Frances lived under a different name, Langley, in order to hide her location from her husband. He still, however, knew her whereabouts. On 3 July 1782, Frances gave birth to a child. That same day, hearing of the birth, her estranged husband returned. Afterwards, he began to arrange a legal separation from his wife. After formally accusing his wife of adultery through the Consistory Court of the Bishop of London on 27 February 1783, he petitioned the House of Lords for permission to bring about a bill of divorce. However, as these bills were rarely granted, it was rejected when brought to voting. Consequently, Matthew and Frances remained married until his death in 1812. Frances, though withdrawing from society and temporarily moving to France, was always supported financially by her husband and then later, her son. She later returned to London and then finally finished her days at Leatherhead, rejoining society and even becoming a lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Wales. Frances and her son remained quite close, with her taking on the responsibility of helping him with his literary career. She even became a published author, much to her son’s dislike.

Matthew Gregory Lewis began his education at a preparatory school under Reverend Dr. John Fountain, Dean of York at Maryleborne Seminary, a friend of both the Lewis and Sewell families. Here, Lewis learned Latin, Greek, French, writing, arithmetic, drawing, dancing, and fencing. Throughout the school day, he and his classmates were only permitted to converse in French. Like many of his classmates, Lewis used the Maryleborne Seminary as a stepping stone, proceeding from there to the Westminster School, like his father, at age eight. Here, he acted in the Town Boys’ Play as Falconbridge in King John and then My Lord Duke in High Life Below Stairs. Later, again like his father, he began studying at Christ Church, Oxford on 27 April 1790 at the age of fifteen. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1794. He later earned a master's degree from the same school in 1797.

Opinion:

Here I was thinking that this book was as good as Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, but one lesson I should know is that just because it sounds good, it doesn't mean it will be good. From the Gothic literature I encountered such as Horace Walpole and even two of Ann Radcliffe's novels, they are all disappointing, and The Monk is much more disappointing than anything else I've read. There are so many things wrong with it that I don't know where to start. This novel is a puzzle and not in a good way. Imagine buying a box with a puzzle then later on discovering that none of the pieces fit with one another. That is my experience with it. The last few chapters I skimmed, unable to bear the author's voice or being confused. I do wonder how it got published. The Castle of Otranto was far more understandable than this novel. I was disgusted by the whole Wandering Jew thing and the pregnancy never made any sense. If Agnes is pregnant, and let's say she's four months or so pregnant, how could she have the baby so quickly? Shouldn't she have a miscarriage around the time?

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

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Book Review of #1 'Till Death Do us Part by Lurlene McDaniel

Name of Book: Till Death Do us Part

Author: Lurlene McDaniel

ISBN: 0-553-57108-7

Publisher: Dell Laurel Leaf

Part of a Series: As Long As We Both Shall Live

Type of book: brain tumor, CF, racing, death, marriage, 1990s, wealth, true love, soul mates

Year it was published: 1997

Summary:

A change is coming. April Lancaster's fortune cookie tells her: Be prepared. But how could she be prepared for the news that she has an inoperable brain tumor? April's life will never be the same. Then she meets handsome Mark Gianni. Mark has cystic fibrosis, but he also has a passion for life...and for April. He shows April how to keep living in the face of life-threatening illness. And when he asks April to marry him, she's happier than she's ever been.

Characters:

I think I was more of told than shown the changes that April had gone through from being self-centered young woman to someone who truly loved Mark. April is a beautiful redhead, an only child of her parents and also very wealthy. Mostly it focused on her being in denial at the start about her brain tumor but then there was a somewhat acceptance. It also showed how having a brain tumor changed her attitude towards life, to appreciate the moments and enjoy life to the fullest for you never know when grim reaper will strike, which is the lesson that Mark teaches her by example. Mark himself is likable and a sweet guy and one feels pity for him and station in life (although Mark won't like that.)

Theme:

Enjoy time and moments for you never know when death will arrive.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from April's point of view. The writing tends to be simplistic in my view and there isn't a lot of character depth shown. I also didn't feel a lot of chemistry between the characters either. In someway as well its very similar to Lurlene's previous novel that I reviewed on this blog, Don't Die My Love. While reading these novels, I found it interesting that Lurlene McDaniel covers both ordinary and extraordinary people, giving a message that no matter who or where you live, you're not immune.

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:

The version I got is two in one, that is both 'Till Death Do Us Part and For Better, for Worse, Forever is in one volume. As a teenager I loved reading Lurlene McDaniel's novels but as I recall, I only read the second one, skipping over the first one, not sure why. Coming back to them, despite the simplistic writing and the fact that its very evident they're very young adult, somehow I enjoyed them as an adult. Its a very touching and sweet story, and a teen can easily relate to it because of the unfair parents and no listening to reason. It's also a sad story so be sure to have plenty of tissues.

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

Part XIX: East Wind, West Wind and A House Divided: The American picture

Possible Spoilers from:
A House Divided by Pearl Buck
East Wind, West Wind by Pearl Buck

For countless centuries China was the strongest power in Asia and its culture passed down to other Asian nations such as Korea and Japan. (I often use this analogy: United Kingdom is to the West, as China  is to the East,) However in 1800s, great changes happened: Great Britain was waging wars and it needed a lot of revenue from its colonies. Perhaps they desired to conquer and control China (wouldn't surprise me one bit,) and China wouldn't buy or see use for English products, thus the story is that they came up with a deadly idea of using poppy flower and created something called opium, which caused China to weaken and European nations pounced on it like lions fighting over antelope. With opium trade as well as European nations treating China like a turkey carved for Thanksgiving, change became inevitable. Just like anywhere else, there were conservatives and liberals in China, one side advocating sticking to tradition, another side encouraging to learn from the Westerners, although the traditionalists also changed. These two sides are written in some extremes in A House Divided by Pearl Buck and East Wind West Wind by the same author. Instead of focusing on England, Pearl Buck talks of America in 1900s. Before that, I should talk a little bit about A House Divided.

Starting with 1931, Pearl Buck wrote a famous book titled The Good Earth which discusses the life and tribulations of Wang Lung and his family, starting from when he acquired O-Lan to the time he moved back to his sod house with Pear Blossom and was on the verge of death. However, the book is not exactly finished, and the second book that comes after The Good Earth is titled Sons which focuses on his three sons nicknamed Wang the Merchant, Wang the Landlord and Wang the Tiger. In particular it focuses on Wang the Tiger and his desire for the son. He got the son he wanted but his son is very similar to Wang Lung and O-Lan. His son is named Wang Yuan, thus A House Divided picks up with Wang Yuan's escape into the fields and how he learned about himself a great deal. In A House Divided, it focuses a great deal on the changes that Wang Yuan's generation goes through such as his sister Ai-lan becoming a copy of  "western woman", or the revolution that would eventually turn Communist, and of course, studying abroad, which Wang Yuan does.

There is a strange parallel between A House Divided and East Wind West Wind, because both the male characters study abroad, but its amazing how they draw different conclusions from their experiences; Wang Yuan remains conservative, although acknowledging the changes that he experienced from America, while the two male characters in the East Wind West Wind completely throw away Chinese culture they were raised with. I do get curious as to why there is such a big difference between the characters. Wang Yuan wears almost a shell the whole time he's in America, refusing the change and feeling disgusted by his experiences, such as the kiss with Mary, or hearing a priest talking negatively about China or watching his cousin Wang Sheng get rejected by American girls. The only thing he saw in America is a chance to get education and to rise, but beyond that nothing.

East Wind, West Wind is told from a feminine point of view in first person, thus I will name the two male characters as Husband and Brother (there is no mention of their Chinese names.) The book was published a year before The Good Earth in 1930. While Wang Yuan remained conservative with barely changing, and he continued to cling to a lot of Chinese traditions, the two male characters, Husband and Brother, literally threw away almost all of the Chinese culture they were raised with: the Husband hates the fact that his wife has bound feet and often scorns at tradition and superstition, such as keeping the son with him and his wife instead of sending him to the house, or telling his wife to nurse the baby when a peasant could have acted as a nurse-maid. The Brother character goes so far as to marry an American girl named Mary and even gives up his rights and position for her. (Oddly enough the Husband disapproves of the Brother's choice.)

Three different reactions, three men and supposedly they traveled abroad most likely to America. The question that I have is how America would have been like in 1920s or 1930s? Not a warm place for Chinese, be they students or immigrants, something that I think Ms. Buck doesn't research. During that time Chinese immigration was heavily restricted (Chinese Exclusion Act) and I surprised that Wang Yuan didn't end up living in a China town and was allowed to live wherever he chose. Ms. Buck hints at the racism experienced by Wang Yuan but if there's a feel to it, she's trying to give it something timeless. Possibly the Brother's and Husband's experiences are completely different in America, or perhaps not. Perhaps just like Wang Yuan, they were teased and bullied about being Chinese, about being from such a place. In order to get ahead with life, perhaps that's when they threw away everything to do with Chinese. The Brother married a white woman, Mary Wilson, while the Husband married a Chinese woman who narrated the story. As I mentioned in my review, I suspect that at first the Brother saw Mary as an object or a trinket to show off, a trophy wife so to speak. "'In her own land she has been accustomed to freedom and homage. She is accounted beautiful, and many men have loved her. I was proud to win her from them all. I thought it proved the superiority of our race.'" (Chapter XVII, page 219) the Brother does redeem his character when he never gives up his wife and instead the two now have to think about their children, for they are neither American nor Chinese but are both.

Perhaps in another article I will talk about Chinese reactions to changes from the West, but suffice it to say, when Chinese traveled to America, they didn't come back unchanged but became changed a great deal either due to discrimination or by choice. I took a class in Asian-American history, and the Asian Americans have gone through a great deal of discrimination as well as restriction thanks to American/European attitudes and fears. (Reading the second chapter in A House Divided was also a painful experience for me in more ways than one.)

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy mother's day to those who are celebrating it :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Book Challenge A-Z #5 Les Liasons Dangereuses by Choderlos DeLaclos

Fulfilling the requirement:

The "D" author's last name  requirement

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.

Lesson learned:

Be careful of the tricks one plays on someone else, because you might eventually fall for them yourselves.

Link to review: Click here

Planned Books

Books I need to Review:
Remember Me- Christopher Pike

Song of the River- Sue Harrison
'Till Death Do Us Part- Lurlene McDaniel
For Better; for Worse, Forever- Lurlene McDaniel

Books I'm Reading:
Emma- Jane Austen 99/448
Jacob the liar- Jurek Becker 20/266
The Living Reed- Pearl Buck 51/478
Primal Calling- Jillian Burns 37/218
O Pioneers!- Willa Cather 12/122
'Till Morning Comes- Suyin Han 54/620
The Monk- Matthew Lewis 137/223
Gone with the Wind- Margaret Mitchell 328/1037
Heavy Sand- Anatoli Rybakov 58/381
Ivanhoe- Sir Walter Scott 44/405
Coyote Dreams- Jessica Davis Stein 19/364

The Series:

The Story of the Stone- Xueqin Cao
4. The Debt of Tears 195/384
The First Native Americans Series- W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear
3. People of the Earth 101/587
The Storyteller Trilogy- Sue Harrison
2. Cry of the Wind 21/474
The Angels Trilogy- Lurlene McDaniel
1. Angels Watching Over Me 19/156
Remember Me- Christopher Pike
2. Remember Me 2: The Return 30/210
Potok Duology- Chaim Potok
2. The Promise 71/381


Future Books:

Northanger Abbey- Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
Once a hero...- Jillian Burns
My Antonia- Willa Cather
The Song of the Lark- Willa Cather
The Foreign Student- Susan Choi
One friend to another- Elizabeth Feuer
Lord of the flies- William Golding
Tess of the d'Urbervilles-Thomas Hardy
Hakon of Rogen's Saga-Erik christian Havgaard
I'll Be Seeing You- Lurlene McDaniel
Bridge of Scarlet Leaves- Kristina McMorris
The Starlight Crystal- Christopher Pike
The Tachyon Web-Christopher Pike
The Italian-Ann Radcliffe
The Red and the black-Stendhal

Series:
The 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
3. Call Down the Stars
Earthsong Trilogy- Mary Mackey
1. The Year the Horses Came
The Angels Trilogy- Lurlene McDaniel
2. Lifted Up by Angels
3. Until Angels Close my eyes
Remember Me- Christopher Pike
3. Remember Me 3: The Last Story

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book Review of #2 Getting Physical by Jade Lee

Name of Book: Getting Physical

Author: Jade Lee

ISBN: 9781426838910

Publisher: Harlequin Blaze

Part of a Series: Modern Tigress, The Tao of Sex prequel

Type of book: Hong Kong, Chinese mogul, incubator, Tigress, romance, adult, 2000s

Year it was published: 2009

Summary:

When savvy business student Zoe crosses paths with sexy international businessman Stephen--a Tantric master--she's about to get a transcendent learning experience

The sex is incredible, mind-blowing, life changing Unfortunately, it also comes with a time limit. Because Stephen's home is on the other side of the world.

Still, Zoe's going to enjoy every moment with her skillful, exotic lover. But it isn't long before she realizes she'll have to choose. Does she want to hold on to the life she has...or have a lifetime of feeling his body move against hers?

Like there's a choice...

Characters:

The characters are much more mature than Nathan and Tracy in Tao of Sex. There is some Tigress things, but not a lot. There are secondary characters but none of them struck me as unique nor have they played a large part in the novel, aside from Marty who seems like a broken record.

Theme:

You can eventually have all the dreams come true.

Plot:

In third person narrative from Stephen's and Zoe's points of views. I think the novel strikes me a bit as brain candy. There isn't much I can say, but it doesn't tie things up and a lot of it suspension of belief, at least that's what I think of it.

Author Information:

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

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

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

Opinion:

I actually enjoyed reading this novel for the second time. The characters are much more mature than Jade Lee's typical heroines, at least Zoe in this case. Stephen himself is mature and extremely thorough. I actually enjoyed him. On the first reading I didn't enjoy it but then I started to, although I was confused by whether or not Zoe couldn't have kids out of choice or because she was infertile. (Several times she mentioned she wanted kids but couldn't.)

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 Homeland by John Jakes

Name of Book: Homeland

Author: John Jakes

ISBN: 0-553-56499-4

Publisher: Bantam book

Part of a Series: Crown Saga

Type of book: Germany, 1890-1900, America, Spanish revolution, immigration, brewing, movies, flickers, panorama of American life, true love, reverse-Cinderella story

Year it was published: 1993

Summary:

As America hurtles through the final explosive events of the nineteenth century, a young German immigrant named Pauli Kroner is about to realize his dream. He will taste a life of privilege in the Chicago mansion of his uncle, Joe Crown, head of a brewery dynasty. But Pauli's ultimate clash with that stern, proud patriarch will force him to a risky existence on the city's dark side. Here he will become Paul Crown, a bold, ambitious man driven by a powerful vision. His rise from penniless newcomer to pioneer newsreel cameraman will span a tumultuous decade of strikes, war, family scandal, and heartbreak in the country he has chosen as his...

Characters:

The characters are interesting and with one exception they don't seem to change. In someways I have a difficult time seeing the bravery that Juliette possesses, or how Paul changes throughout the ten years, at least personality wise. The characters that does show visible change is Joe Sr, and if other characters do change, to me its not visible and the author doesn't really utilize these changes into the narrative.

Theme:

Paul tries to find homeland in America, and lesson that can be gleaned is through hard work and tears, one can find their true home.

Plot:

Its in third person narrative from multiple characters' points of view. In my opinion the first half of the novel is explosive and I read through quickly. When I got to latter half, it became torturous and boring. I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of war and don't care much about it, and it struck me that the author kept dragging and dragging through the book, as if he didn't want to say goodbye at an appropriate time. I heard that in sequel, although I read it years and year ago, the ending that was presented in Homeland is pointless and the author changed a lot of vital details. I'm not sure, but that's what I heard.

Author Information:

born
March 31, 1932 in Chicago, The United States

website
http://www.johnjakes.com/index.htm


About this author
edit data

AKA Jay Scotland, Alan Payne, Rachel Ann Payne & J.X. Williams
John Jakes is the acknowledged contemporary master of the family saga. He is the creator of the legendary eight-volume Kent Family Chronicles, the Main and Hazard families of The North and South Trilogy, and the Crowns of Chicago, German-Americans whose stories interweave the history of the twentieth century in Homeland and its sequel, American Dreams. His 2002 novel, Charleston, returned him to the turbulent years of the Revolution and the Civil War, and became his sixteenth consecutive New York Times bestseller.

Praised as "the godfather of the historical novel," "the people's author," and "America's history teacher," Jakes mingles the lives of his fictional characters with those of historical personages, and involves them in the great events of U.S. and world.

His devotion to a unique blend of strong storytelling and historical accuracy has won him a worldwide audience. More than 55 million copies of his Kent Chronicles are currently in print, along with nearly 10 million copies of The North and South Trilogy. Six of his major novels have been filmed as television mini-series. The first North and South production (ABC, David L. Wolper Productions, 12 hours) stands at 7th position among the 10 highest rated miniseries of all time.

Born in Chicago in 1932, John Jakes began writing professionally during his freshman year at Northwestern University, where he was studying acting. He decided to trade the stage for the typewriter when, at age 18, he sold his first story for $25. "That check changed the whole direction of my life," says Jakes.

He enrolled in the creative writing program at DePauw University, graduated in 1953, and in 1954 earned an M.A. degree in American literature from Ohio State University. After completing school, Jakes spent his days writing copy for a large pharmaceutical corporation, then several advertising agencies, including Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, one of the world's largest. At night he wrote and published short stories--eventually 200 of them, along with some 60 books in genres such as mystery, western, and science fiction.

In March of 1973, Jakes began work on The Bastard, first of the eight volumes of The Kent Family Chronicles. The series, depicting American history through the lives of a fictional family, became the publishing industry phenomenon of America's Bicentennial decade. All eight volumes were bestsellers. In 1975, with the publication of volumes II, III, and IV, Jakes became the first author ever to have three books on the New York Times bestseller list in a single year. New American Library has published new editions of the series; each volume, the author had written a new introduction.

North and South, the first book in Jakes's celebrated Civil War trilogy, was published in 1982, Love and War in 1984, and the concluding volume, Heaven and Hell, in 1987. All three were number one bestsellers, and were made into top-rated ABC Novels for Television miniseries.

California Gold was published in 1989, and 1993 saw publication of Homeland, the first of a new cycle of novels about a fictional family in the twentieth century. Homeland was named by the New York Times as one of its "notable books of 1993." The Crown family saga continues in American Dreams.

John Jakes holds honorary doctorates from five universities, the most recent from Ohio State. In 1995 he received the National Cowboy Hall of Fame's Western Heritage Literary Award for his short story Manitow and Ironhand, now collected in the anthology of Jakes stories, The Bold Frontier.

Also in '95 he was recipient of a dual Celebrity and Citizen's Award from the White House Conference on Libraries and Information, for speaking and writing on behalf of America's public libraries. In 1996 he became the tenth living inductee of the South Carolina Academy of Authors, and in 1997 he received the Professional Achi...

Opinion:

This is my second time reading this novel. The first time I read it was when I was a teenager, and second time I finished few days ago. It's about 1200 pages long, and I'm sure that a lot of history buffs will enjoy perusing through the pages and reading about the wealthy and poor side of Chicago. It seems that there's very little the author excludes. He does try to make it inclusive, but not to the extent that one desires it. There's barely any mention of Rosie, Joe Jr's girlfriend, and I don't really understand how she's supposed to represent Pullman and the strike. I don't see it, sorry to say. Joe Jr represents workers' rights The boring part for me started was when Paul began to have success and then there was war and journey to Cuba. Although the author tried his best not to have that, I guess war books bore me. There is also sense of disbelief for me in terms of Juliette and Paul; people normally move on after such a long time...although I guess he was trying to make the novel appeal to women would be my guess.

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, May 1, 2012

Book Challenge A-Z #4 Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Fulfilling the requirement:

The "L" Requirement for author's last name alphabetically

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.

Lesson learned:

The less one knows the more brave that person becomes

Link to review: click here

Book Challenge A-Z #3 East Wind West Wind by Pearl Buck

Fulfilling the requirement: 

The "B" Letter for author's last name alphabetically.

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.

Lesson learned:

There's a celebration when two unlikely pairs unite

Link to review: click here

May 2012

Emma- Jane Austen
SR: April 16th, 2012
FR: May 29th, 2012
Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
SR: May 29th, 2012
FR: N/A
Jacob the Liar- Jurek Becker
SR: April 1st, 2012
FR: N/A
The Living Reed- Pearl Buck
SR: May 1st, 2012
FR: N/A
Once a hero- Jillian Burns
SR: May 21st, 2012
FR: N/A
Primal Calling- Jillian Burns
SR: May 1st, 2012
FR: May 21st, 2012
O Pioneers!-Willa Cather
SR: May 1st, 2012
FR: N/A
The Foreign Student- Susan Choi
SR: May 28th, 2012
FR: N/A
'Till Morning Comes- Suyin Han
SR: May 1st, 2012
FR: May 28th, 2012
Homeland- John Jakes
SR: February 1st, 2012
FR: May 2nd, 2012
The Monk- Matthew Lewis
SR: May 3rd, 2012
FR: May 16th, 2012
I'll Be Seeing You- Lurlene McDaniel
SR: May 12th, 2012
FR: May 26th, 2012
Gone with the wind- Margaret Mitchell
SR: February 1st, 2012
FR: N/A
The Italian- Anne Radcliffe
SR: May 16th, 2012
FR: N/A
Heavy Sand- Anatoli Rybakov
SR: April 1st, 2012
FR: N/A
Ivanhoe- Sir Walter Scott
SR: February 1st, 2012
FR: N/A
Coyote Dreams- Jessica Davis Stein
SR: May 1st, 2012
FR: N/A

The Story of the Stone- Xueqin Cao
4. Debt of Tears
SR: March 16th, 2012
FR: May 16th, 2012
5. The Dreamer Wakes
SR: May 16th, 2012
FR: N/A
People Series Quartet- W Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear
3. People of the Earth
SR: February 28th, 2012
FR: N/A
Storyteller Trilogy- Sue Harrison
1. Song of the River
SR: January 5th, 2012
FR: May 7th, 2012
2. Cry of the Wind
SR: May 7th, 2012
FR: N/A
The Modern Tigress- Jade Lee
2. Getting Physical
SR: April 29th, 2012
FR: May 3rd, 2012
Earthsong Trilogy- Mary Mackey
1. The Year the Horses Came
SR: May 20th, 2012
FR: May 27th, 2012
As Long as we both shall live- Lurlene McDaniel
2. For Better, For Worse, Forever
SR: April 28th, 2012
FR: May 2nd, 2012
The Angels Trilogy- Lurlene McDaniel
1. Angels Watching Over Me
SR: May 1st, 2012
FR: May 31st, 2012
2. Lifted Up by Angels
SR: May 31st, 2012
FR: N/A
Remember Me Trilogy- Christopher Pike
1. Remember Me
SR: April 1st, 2012
FR: May 9th, 2012
2. Remember Me 2: The Return
SR: May 9th, 2012
FR: May 28th, 2012
3. Remember Me 3: The Last Story
SR: May 28th, 2012
FR: N/A
The Chosen Duology- Chain Potok
2. The Promise
SR: May 1st, 2012
FR: May 17th, 2012
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