Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Review of Mythology by Edith Hamilton 1.7

General Information:

Name of Book: Mythology

ISBN:  9780316341516

Publisher: First Black Bay

Year it was published: 1942

Overall theme:

"The Greeks did not believe that the gods created the universe. It was the other way about: the universe created the gods. Before there were gods heaven and earth had been formed. They were the first parents. The Titans were their children, and the gods were their grandchildren." (24)

Part One The Gods, the Creation and the Earliest Heroes

1. The Gods

The Titans and the Twelve Great Olympians

Observations: The pages briefly introduce the Titans and twelve major gods of Olympus, as well as explaining about Olympus. Then afterwards there are brief biographies of the twelve major and popular gods such as Zeus, Hera, Pallas Athena and so forth. The author lists their Greek name and the Roman name equivalent, as well as pointing out that Apollo being called the Sun-God comes from a Titan, or rather it was confused.

The Lesser Gods of Olympus

Observations: The Muses, Graces, and few other gods are introduced to the reader, as well as named in their chosen fields and where they might come from.

The Gods of the Waters

Observations: Brief introduction to the world of the sea and the gods and creatures that have inhabited it. Poseidon, the Titans and wives and children are introduced.

The Underworld

Observations: Introduction to the denizens of the underworld such as the Erinyes as well as a geography of the place including rivers and possible location.

The Lesser Gods of Earth

Observations: The author does not focus on Bacchus nor Demeter but instead introduces the unimportant dwellers such as Pan, various dryads, sirens, Fates and so forth. There is an introduction of Castor and Pollux, and the author spends a lot of time discussing the twins.

The Roman Gods

Observations: Romans did have gods before Greek ones and the author briefly outlines them and their functions, as well as describing the personality of Romans (briefly) and how they differed from Greeks. She also gives name equivalents of Roman names to Greek gods.

2. The Two Great Gods of Earth

Demeter

Observations: Introduction to Demeter and her story of Persephone, how Hades took Persephone away and Demeter refused to let everything grow thus Zeus had to intervene and also had to have Hades let Persephone go. Hades gave her a pomegranate seed to eat which causes her to be trapped in Underworld for eight months, and for four months she is to have freedom.

Dionysus or Bacchus

Observations: Story of Bacchus/Dionysus, how his mother, Semele,  has died due to Hera's suggestion of asking Zeus to see him in full glory, and of his wanderings and life such as the attempted kidnapping by pirates, and of him finding and loving Ariadne whom Theseus has abandoned as well as why he was considered the god that ordinary mortals could relate to.

3. How the World and Mankind were Created

Observations: Three different stories of how the world was formed; one of Emptiness begetting Uranus and Earth and how they united. Included in the chapter are Zeus's beginnings and battles, such as one with gods against Titans and Typhon. Afterwards come the accounts of men, such as Prometheus and his Euthemeus creating men and women, or else the gods experimenting with different metals, or even the flood story. This also includes the myth of Pandora and how women came about.

4. The Earliest Heroes

Prometheus and Io

Observations: Io wanders over to where Prometheus is chained and we get a tale from her about how she became a cow, and about Hermes slaying Argus and of Prometheus's prophecy that she shall be honored after a long while, and a descendant of hers, Heracles, would at last free Prometheus from the fate that befell him.

Europa

Observations: The story of Europa, how she gathered companions and they went about picking flowers and walking. Zeus then sees her, falls in love with her, changes himself into a bull and kidnaps her to where he was hidden. He promises her glory and two sons were born to her: Minos and Rhadamanthus (not sure of spelling...)

The Cyclops Polyphemus

Observations: The story of Polyphemus, the Cyclops whom Odysseus has blinded. First is the long history of how he got blinded, and then it mentions that he falls in love with a nymph by the name of Galatea who at first spurned his advances, but then later she and Doris fell in love with him, supposedly, although the ending is not happy because Galatea wanted to be with Acis but that was denied to her by the Cyclopes.

Flower-Myths: Narcissus, Hyacinth, Adonis

Observations: Stories behind the three flowers, beginning with Narcissus, how he scorned women, especially the beautiful Echo, as well as Echo's curse, and eventually someone cursing him, causing him to fall in love with his own reflection. Next is a brief story of Hyacinthus, the youth beloved by Apollo and possibly by Zephyr who caused his death accidentally. Last is the story of Adonis, the one whose blood gave birth to anemones. Two goddesses, Aphrodite and Persephone fell in love with him and he eventually died hunting a boar. Everyone mourned Adonis.

To be continued...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review of Greek Myths Vol I by Robert Graves Part 1.9

General Information:


Name of Book: The Greek Myths

ISBN: 0-14-020508-X

Publisher: Pelican Book

Year it was published: 1955

Overall theme:

"My method has been to assemble in harmonious narrative all the scattered elements of each myth, supported by little-known variants which may help to determine the meaning, and to answer all questions that arise, as best I can, in anthropological or historical terms. " (22)

1. The Pelasgian Creation Myth

Issue: The creation of the world by Eurynome, Ophion and introduction of Titans and planets as well as the first man by name of Pelasgus who taught people to make huts feed upon acorns and sew pig-skin tunics. Very similar to Genesis in Torah.

2. The Homeric and Orphic Creation Myths

Issue: A different creation myth, this one stating that Tethys was mother of all of Oceanus' children, or that Night and Wind laid an egg from which Eros hatched and set everything in motion.

3. The Olympian Creation Myth

Issue: Mother Earth emerges from Chaos, and Chaos impregnates her with Uranus as well as other semi-human children who bore children that Odysseus encountered as well as bearing grass, beasts, flowers and so on.

4. Two Philosophical Creation Myths

Issue: There's two different types of myths: one is basically kind of an incest myth with everyone sleeping with everyone and begetting bad and good things, but no man until Athene asks Prometheus to create them, while another myth attributes every creation to a sort of god.

5. The Five Ages of Man

Issue: Perhaps Prometheus didn't create men, but instead Earth bore them spontaneously, and Alalcomeneus was first to appear. There are also five different races of men such as golden which are best of the best, silver, the second best, brazen which sounded horrible, another brazen race which sounded better and from which myths of Thebes and Argonauts and Trojan War spring from, and last but not least iron of which are horrible and are modern.

6. The Castration of Uranus

Issue:  Uranus fathered Titans upon Earth after throwing Cyclopes into Tartarus. Mother Earth, not happy, asked Titans to attack their father, which they had done so. She armed Cronus with a sickle, causing him to castrate Uranus. When blood landed on Earth, Erinnyes and nymphs known as Meliae sprang from blood. Cronus then took Rhea as his wife.

7.The Dethronement of Cronus

Issue: When Cronus and Rhea got married, Mother Earth, along with Uranus, made a prophecy that one of his own children would dethrone him. Cronus then began to swallow his own children. When Rhea bore Zeus, she hid him away and then helped him get revenge when he became a young man. Cronus was defeated and Zeus became the victor.

8. The Birth of Athene

Issue: Pelasgians claim that Athene was born beside Lake Tritonis and was nurtured by nymphs. She has also killed a friend by accident took Pallas's name before hr own one.

9. Zeus and Metis

Issue: First there are mentions of possible fathers for Athene, but the priests tell of a different story of Zeus lusting after Metis and then swallowing her and then giving birth to the daughter.

10. The Fates

Issue: The discussion and debate of the Fates along with what they can or cannot do and their possible origin of either being Necessity's daughters or daughters of Erebus and Night.

11. The Birth of Aphrodite

Issue: The possible origins of Aphrodite; that she rose naked from the foam of the sea, or that she was daughter of Uranus or that she was daughter of Zeus and Dione or daughter of either Oceanus and Tethys.

12. Hera and Her Children

Issue: Brief history of beginning of Zeus's and Hera's marriage, as well as their possible children in Ares, Hephaestus and Hebe, although the children could also come from different fathers.

To be continued...

Book Review for Tree of Souls The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz Book I Part I.15

General Information:


Name of Book: Tree of Souls The Mythology of Judaism

ISBN: 9780195086799

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Year it was published: 2004

Overall theme:

"With only one God, heaven would be a barren place, at least in mythic terms. Yet the actual Jewish view of heaven is quite different. There are seven heavens, filled with angels and other divine beings, such as the Messiah [Not jesus!], who is said to have a palace of his own in the highest heaven. The clestial Temple can be found there- the mirror image of the Temple in the earthly Jerusalem- as well as an abundance of heavenly palaces, one for each of the patriarchs and matriarchs and sages, where he or she teaches Torah to the attentive souls of the righteous and the angels..." (xliii)

"Drawing on the full range of Jewish sources, sacred and nonsacred, ten major categories of Jewish mythology can be identified: Myths of God, Myths of Creation...Each of these categories explores a mythic realm, and, in the process, reimagines it. This is the secret to the transformations that characterize Jewish mythology. Building on a strong foundation of biblical myth, each generation has embellished the earlier myths, while, at the same time, reinterpeting them for tis own time." (xlv)

Book One: Myths of God

Part I: God's Throne of Glory

1. Isaiah's Vision

Issue: The wording is taken from Isaiah 6:1-8 and describes the throne room that G-d is inhabited, as well as the seraphs that stood on attendance to him.

2. Daniel's Night Vision

Issue: The wording is taken from Daniel 7: 9-10, 7:13-14 and describes G-d in a more specific detail, along with the throne room.

3. God's Throne of Glory

Issue: Description of the throne room, half fire half ice, the majesty of G-d as well as a chariot that's fused with Throne of Glory, and how G-d flies through heaven.

4. The Descent of God's Throne

Issue: When the Jewish Messianic Era arrives, G-d will make sure that the throne will be in the middle of the sky so all people can witness him, and the righteous will be more closer than the angles.

5. The Crown of God

Issue: A description of G-d's crown and what's on it which includes the Hebrew alphabet as well as the words from the Song of Songs written by Solomon.

6. God's Crown of Prayers

Issue: What happens to the prayers that Israel prays to G-d? The angel Sandalphon weaves them into a crown which G-d wears on his head.

To be Continued...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Book Review of The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse

Name of Book: The Music of Dolphins

Author: Karen Hesse

ISBN: 0-590-89798-5

Publisher: Scholastic

Type of book: Dolphins, feral children, speech therapy, giving back, survival, young adult

Year it was published: 1996

Summary:

Mila creates headlines around the world when she is rescued from an unpopulated island off the coast of Florida. Now a teenager, she has been raised by dolphins from the age of four.

Researchers teach Mila language and music. She learns, too, about rules and expectations, about locked doors and broken promises, disappointment and betrayal.

The more Mila finds out what it means to be human, the more deeply she longs for her ocean home...

Characters:

The only character that I knew and understood is Mila. Dr. Beck, Shay and others I couldn't understand them, although I did kind of understand Shay and wished to know more about her. We also learn about dolphins, Mila's family. I did feel that there is some contradictions, such as when the characters go and search for Mila's dolphin family, and someone sees dolphins, but Mila says they aren't her family and one can't go up to them just like with humans. I couldn't understand why she didn't apply this type knowledge to her human experience.

Theme:

If one finds  a feral child, its better to leave them in a natural habitat rather than try to acclimate them to the society.

Plot:

This is in first person narrative completely from Mila's point of view. We watch as Mila acquires the necessary skills and words to talk about herself and her emotions about living on land being a human, and then things and cause her to lose the acquired skills. Its an interesting story, and just like in other books, ultimately a feral person cannot adapt to society.

Author Information:

Karen Hesse is the distinguished author of nine books for young readers. among them Letters from Rifka, winner of the Christopher Medal and the International Reading Association Award fro Young Adult Fiction; Phoenix Rising, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; Sable, a  school Library Journal Best Book of hte Year; and, most recently, A Time of Angels.

"The Music of Dolphins began as a book about speech development, and evolved into something very different," says Ms. Hesse. "Mila proved to me she was more than a clinical specimen, just as she did to the characters in the book."

Karen Hesse lives wit her husband and two daughters in Williamsville, Vermont.

Opinion:

I liked this book in middle school, and apparently years later this hasn't changed. I read it and still found it interesting and fascinating. The book does involve plot stretches such as how Mila can survive in a sea for such a long time, or how she took care of her colds or whatnot, or why not die from thermal problems. I actually liked the font changes, seeing how Mila acquired knowledge and at a certain point the knowledge abandoned her. I couldn't understand how the knowledge slipped away from her though, or why for that matter.

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 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Name of Book: Anna Karenina

Author: Leo Tolstoy

ISBN: 0-451-52449-7

Publisher: Signet Classic

Type of book: Russia, classic, 1870s, adultery, marriage, life, death, rejection, war, unhappiness, madness, St. Petersburg, Moscow, farming, peasantry, wealth, money

Year it was published: 1873-1877

Summary:

Tolstyo's genius for viewing social classes in the largest possible context and for sketching the subtlest human gestures becomes most evident in Anna Karenina. To this novel he brought his troubling conviction that at his moments of most intense experience man is closest to death. This is the double drama of Anna and of Levin. Sensual, rebellious, Anna renounces respectable marriage and fine position for a passionate involvement which offers a taste of freedom and a trap for destruction. Levin, an eccentric and melancholy young nobleman, surrenders his individuality to live as a peasant.

Characters:

The characters are well drawn but tend to be boring and insufferable. I couldn't stand Levin nor Kitty nor anyone else for that matter. I cannot rightly call Anna charming or vital. She sounds like a paranoid woman who's afraid all the time. I wish I could understand why or how could Vronsky cheer her up because it seemed that nothing cheered her up. She's also very indecisive and can't decide whether to divorce her husband or stay with him. Levin is boring and mind-numbing. I couldn't stand him at all. He's too broody and way too righteous. If Tolstoy is the same as Levin, I doubt I could stand him. Something else that greatly annoys me is Levin name. It's Jewish, or should be Jewish, so why is Tolstoy using that name? The fact that Levin refers to the priestly class in Biblical days, which means conversion.

Theme:

Adultery is bad? Umm starting things right will lead to happiness?

Plot:

Third person narrative from everyone's point of view (including the dog's.) Leo is very detailed, and in this case its bad because the story itself is 808 pages and its not Gone with the Wind where I thought the size was small. In this case, its too much superfluous and pointless information. It also seems that Leo focuses on everyday with the characters. Very boring book.

Author Information:

Count Leo Tolstoy was born on September 9, 1828 in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia. Orphaned at nine, he was brought up by an elderly aunt and educated by French tutors until he matriculated at Kazan University in 1844. In 1847 he gave up his studies, and after several aimless years, volunteered for military duty in the Army, serving as a junior officer in the Crimean War before retiring in 1857. In 1862 Tolstoy married Sophie Behrs, a marriage that was to become, for him, bitterly unhappy. His diary, started in 1847, was used for self study and self criticism, and it served as the source from which he drew much of the material that appeared not only in his great novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), but, also in his shorter works. Seeking religious justification for his life, Tolstoy evolved a new christianity based upon his own interpretation of the gospels. Yasnaya Poylana became a mecca for his many converts. At the age of eighty-two, while away from home, the writer's health broke down in Astapovo, Riazan, and he died there on November 20th, 1910.

Opinion:

Believe it or not I first read this book in 8th grade, when I was, well, fifteen years of age if I'm not mistaken. I've re-read it, and again I'm wondering what was I smoking back then? I loved the beginning books, including the characters, but unlike previous time, I hated and couldn't stand Levin, (he's very pointless and boring.) I also hated Kitty. I read a little bit of Sofya Tolstoy's diary, and this time I was able to guess stories easily. It also helped that previously I took a Russian history class which helped me get through the boring parts where Levin tries to become a peasant and so forth. Leo Tolstoy, I deduce, must have had an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder because he wrote and talked so much that I quickly lost any enjoyment I had for the book and just wanted it to get it over with. Maybe it's me, but why do I never like literature from 1800s?

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 #3 Call Down the Stars by Sue Harrison

Name of Book: Call Down the Stars

Author: Sue Harrison

ISBN: 0-380-72605-x

Publisher: Avon Books

Part of a Series: Storyteller Trilogy

Type of book: Japan, Alaska, River people, evil, 602 PME, 590 PME, storytelling, 6447 PME-6427 PME, reunions

Year it was published: 2001

Summary:

The Bear-god warriors came like a tsunami from the sea...

On that day of great terror and sadness, the girl called Daughter escaped with her grandfather across the icy North Pacific to find shelter on the islands of the Whale Hunters. But peace was not to be their lot. For here the mad medicine woman K'os was scheming vengeance against her mot despised enemy, the revered warrior and statesman called Cakliux- her son. And this young, innocent female from a far-off place was the key- the final, essential ingredient in a demonic brew of suspicion, hostility, and forbidden love that K'os would prepare with an expert hand...to poison the lives of those she hated and would see dead.

Characters:

The characters are well drawn and well told. I liked all the characters. The story moves on to a different rather than Chakliux and Aquamdax; this time we are focused on Ghaden and Daughter, a beautiful girl who comes from Japan, or Land of the Boat People with a Grandfather that died. Of course there is also K'os who becomes Daughter's adopted mother, Red Leaf and Cries Loud. Ligige' has passed away, but a memorable character will appear at the very end. The story also flip flops to the "present" of 602 PME between Yikaas and Qumalix, similar to Chakliux and Aquamdax. (Technically the third book is the storytelling efforts of Yikaas and Qumalix as well as Kuy'aa.)

Theme:

It takes skill and practice to become a great storyteller.

Plot:

Its in third person narrative and is from almost everyone's point of view. It's not a confusing story and it becomes memorable instead. I liked learning more and reading more about the characters. The book also ties up few previous plots from the 2nd book, (what happened to Gheli,) although on purpose its not revealed what's true ending about the characters.

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:

This is actually a good book, although not as good as the prequels. I remember I tried to read it years ago, but couldn't get past it. Now I could. There are writing mistakes there on purpose, or rather storytelling  mistakes. Parts of it were enjoyable, but just not ending. I really did want to know more of what happened to characters at the end. There is an interesting story behind me getting this book: On October 31st, 2008, my ex-friend and I spent the Halloween together, which included Half Price Books. I remember that as I saw this book and was getting it, a memory of my grandmother, G-d rest her soul, flashed on my mind, the part where I was a child and was reading Inuit fairy tales or something like that back in Russia. I was kind of creeped out, but still got the book. Few hours later, as my friend dropped me off at home, I walked inside and learned my grandmother had died.

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 #5 The Dreamer Wakes by Xueqin Cao

Name of Book: The Dreamer Wakes

Author: Xueqin Cao

ISBN: 0-14-044372-x

Publisher: Penguin classics

Part of a Series: The story of the stone Vols I-V

Type of book: Marriage, death, suicide, karma, evil spirits, China, 1700s, debt, shame, Manchurian dynasty, wealth, poverty, living beyond means

Year it was published: 1760 (version I have 1986)

Summary:

Divided into five volumes, of which The Dreamer Wakes is the fifth, it charts the glory and decline of the illustrious Jia family ( a story which closely accords with the fortunes of Cao Xueqin's own family.) The characters are set against a rich tapestry of humour, 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:

The characters are only outlines of themselves and don't distinguish individual characteristics as they used to in the first three parts. They also tend to act out of character, Bao-yu in particular. I wish I could say more about them, but really, there's nothing to say. There's a lot of deaths in the novel, and so forth.

Theme:

Everything is ordained by fate.

Plot:

The plot ends are tied up loosely or not at all. Its in third person narrative from everyone's point of view. Besides seeing how the characters have ultimately ended up, there really isn't anything special or memorable about the last part.

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:

I wanted to like the last half of the book, but I couldn't. I couldn't connect with the characters, and the outline, although interesting, tended to be poorly written and uninteresting. Nothing was really fleshed out. The chapters are tied up poorly and I would recommend only reading to find out what happens with the characters. Its obvious that the author himself hasn't written it and it was written and finished by someone else. (Wonder if that's the reason two different translators are used...)

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

Monday, December 24, 2012

Last Planned Books

Starting with New Years, I will try to make a bit of a different list rather than the one I always make. I will do it once a week maybe, and will include pictures and summaries of books I plan to read. Wish me luck! (These are books planned for the whole of 2013)

Books to be reviewed:

The music of the dolphins- Karen Hesse
Anna Karenina- Leo Tolstoy
The Story of the Stone- Xueqin Cao
5. The Dreamer Wakes
The Storyteller Trilogy- Sue Harrison
3. Call Down the Stars

Books I'm Reading:
Oleander Girl- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 25/288
The Odyssey- Homer 332/530 (Norton World Anthology Vol. A)
Cloud Atlas- David Mitchell 353/509
The Metamorphoses- Ovid 272/441
 The Almond Tree- Michelle Cohen Rosanti 27/348
E-Book:
The Scandalous St. Claires- Laurel McKee
1. One Naughty Night 73/684

Non-fiction:
Life in Ancient Egypt- Adolf Erman 53/550

Future Books:
Arabian Nights Vol. I
Arabian Nights Vol. II
Sir Gawain and the green knight- (Norton World Anthology Vol B)
Lorna Doone- RD Blackmore
East Wind, West Wind- Pearl Buck
The Living Reed- Pearl Buck
A Little Princess-Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little Lord Fauntleroy- Frances Hodgson Burnett
The secret garden-Frances Hodgson Burnett
Evelina- Fanny Burney
The Awakening and selected short fiction- Kate Chopin
Nose- James Conaway
The Court of the Lion-Eleanor Cooney, Daniel Altieri
Francesca of Lost Nation- Lucinda Sue Crosby
Fuente Ovejuna- Lope de Vega (Norton World Anthology Vol C)
Impulsive-Helen Kay Dimon
My Cousin Rachel- Daphen Du Maurier
The North China Lover-Marguerite Duras
Madame Bovary- Gustave Flaubert ( Norton World Anthology Vol E )
Portraits- Cynthia Freeman
The Greek Myths Vol. I- Robert Graves
The Greek Myths Vol. II- Robert Graves
Mythology- Edith Hamilton
The Funny Guy-Grace Allen Hogarth
Cowboys are my weakness- Pam Houston
Rootless- Chris Howard
The hot and cold Summer-Johanna Hurwitz
Snow Country- Yasnari Kawabata (Norton Anthology Vol. F)
Native Speaker- Chang Rae Lee
Tiger's Tail- Gus Lee
Riding the East Wind- Otohiko Kaga
The Best of all possible worlds- Karen Lord
The Bouchard Legacy- Ted Magnuson
The Narrow Road of the Interior- Basho Matsuo (Norton World Anthology Vol D)
The Mysteries of Udolpho- Ann Radcliffe
Eleanor and Park- Rainbow Rowell 
Tree of Souls: Mythology of Judaism- Howard Schwartz
The Tale of Genji- Murasaki Shikibu
Ivanhoe-Sir Walter Scott
Sophy's Choice- William Styron
Faust- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (Norton World Anthology VOL E )
Girls for Breakfast-David Yoo
Stop me if you heard this one before- David Yoo

Series:
The House of Earth- Pearl Buck
1. The Good Earth
2. Sons
3. A House Divided
Las Vegas Trilogy-Jillian Burns
1. Let it ride
2. Seduce and Rescue
3. Night Maneuvers
Uniformly Hot- Karen Foley
1. Coming Up For Air
2. No Going Back
The Royal Brotherhood Series- Sabrina Jeffries
1.In the Prince's Bed
2.To pleasure a prince
3.One night with a Prince
4.Only a Duke Will Do
Modern Tigress- Jade Lee
1. The Tao of Sex
2. Getting Physical
Bird and Fish Duology- Adrienne Leslie
1. Bird and Fish
2. Sea and Sky
The Scandalous St Clairs- Laurel McKee
2. Two Sinful Secrets (paperback)
Samurai Duology- Takashi Matsuoka
1. Cloud of Sparrows
2. Autumn Bridge
Harts of Texas Trilogy -Kathleen O'Reilly
1.Just Surrender...
2. Just Let go...
3. Just Give in...
Time Circle Trilogy- Linda Lay Shuler
1. She who remembers
2. Voice of the eagle
3. Let the drum speak
The Once and Future King- TH White
1. The Sword in the stone
2. The queen of air and darkness
3. The ill-made knight
4. The candle in the wind
5. The book of Merlyn
Millie Trilly Trilogy-Lisa Yee
1. Millicent Min, Girl Genius
2. Stanford Wong flunks Big-Time
3. So Totally Emily Ebers

Non-fiction:
Here, There, Elsewhere- William Least Heat-Moon
A History of the Roman People- Allen Ward, Fritz Heichelheim, Cedric Yeo
Western Europe in the Middle Ages 300-1475- Brian Tierney
Don't know much about History- Kenneth C Davis
The Letters of Abelard and Heloise
The Conquest of Constantinople- Villehardouin
Chronicles- Froissart
Why We Are Here: Mobile and the Spirit of a Southern City-Edward O. Wilson, Alex Harris

E-Reading:
Winter Garden- Kristin Hannah

The Winter Sea- Susanna Kearsley

 Forever Amber- Kathleen Windsor

Revolutionary Road- Richard Yates

E-Reading Series:
Rashi's Daughters- Maggie Anton 
1. Joheved
2. Miriam
3. Rachel
The Blackfoot Warriors- Karen Kay
3. Night Thunder's Bride
Lakota Series- Karen Kay
1. Lakota Surrender
2. Lakota Princess
3. Proud Wolf's Woman
The Nancy Drew Series-Carolyn Keene
10. Password to Larkspur Lane
11. The clue of the broken locket
12. the message in the hollow oak
13. the mystery of the ivory charm
14. the whispering statue
15. the haunted bridge
16. the clue of the tapping heels
17. Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk
18. Mystery of the Moss covered Mansion
19. the quest of the missing map
20. the clue in the jewel box
21. the secret in the old attic
22. the clue in the crumbling wall
23. mystery of the tolling bell tower
24. the clue in the old album
25. the ghost of blackwood hall
26. the clue if the leaning chimney
27. the secret of the wooden lady
28. the clue of the black keys
29. mystery at the ski jump
30. the clue of the velvet mask
31. the ringmaster's secret
32. the scarlet slipper mystery
33. the witch tree symbol
34. the hidden window mystery
35. the haunted showboat
36. the secret of the golden pavilion
37. the clue in the old stagecoach
38. the mystery of the fire dragon
39. the clue of the dancing puppet
40. the moonstone castle mystery
41. the clue of the whistling bagpipes
42. the phantom of pine hill
43. the mystery of the 99 steps
44. the clue in the crossword cipher
45. the spider sapphire mystery
46. the invisible intruder
47. the mysterious mannequin
48. the crooked banister
49. the secret of mirror bay
50. the double jinx mystery
51. mystery of the glowing eye
52. the secret of the forgotten city
53. the sky pavilion
54. the strange message in the parchment
55. mystery of the crocodile island
56. the thirteenth pearl
Sons of Chance- Vicki Lewis Thompson
3. Claimed
4. Should've been a cowboy
5. Cowboy Up
6. Cowboys Like Us
6a. Merry Christmas Baby
6b. Already home
7. Long Road home (paper back copy)
8. Lead Me Home (paper back copy)
9. Feels Like Home (paper back copy)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Challenge of 2012 Complete

2012

A
1.Are you there God? It's me, Margaret- Judy Blume
SR: July 1st, 2012
FR: July 8th, 2012
2.Pride and Prejudice-Jane Austen
SR: May 29th, 2012
FR: October 3rd, 2012
B
3.Bridge of Scarlet Leaves- Kristina McMorris
SR: September 4th, 2012
FR: December 8th, 2012
4.East Wind, West Wind-Pearl Buck
SR: March 1st, 2012
FR: April 21st, 2012
C
5.Coyote Dreams- Jessica Davis Stein
SR: May 1st, 2012
FR: June 12th, 2012
6.The Foreign Student-Susan Choi
SR: May 28th, 2012
FR: September 4th, 2012
D
7.Death in Venice- Thomas Mann (Norton World Anthology Vol. F)
SR: July 1st, 2012
FR: July 7th, 2012
8.Les Liaisons Dangereuses-Choderlos DeLaclos
SR: January 5th, 2012
FR: April 25th, 2012
E
9.Emma- Jane Austen
SR: April 16th, 2012
FR: May 29th, 2012
10.The Hundred Dresses- Eleanor Estes
SR: August 1st, 2012
FR: August 10th, 2012
F
11.Fall Into Darkness- Christopher Pike
SR:February 1st, 2012
FR: April 12th, 2012
12.One Friend to Another- Elizabeth Feur
SR: June 1st, 2012
FR: June 28th, 2012
G
13.The great gatsby- F Scott Fitzgerald
SR: August 1st, 2012
FR: August 10th, 2012
14.Lord of the Flies- William Golding
SR: June 1st, 2012
FR: June 16th, 2012
H
15.Hakon of Rogen's Saga- Erik christian Havgaard
SR: June 1st, 2012
FR: June 26th, 2012
16.'Till Morning Comes- Suyin Han
SR: May 1st, 2012
FR: May 28th, 2012
I
17.Interview with a Vampire- Anne Rice
SR: July 1st, 2012
FR: July 12th, 2012
18.The Barrelmaker Brimful of Love- Ihara Saikaku (Norton World Anthology VOL D)
SR: July 11th, 2012
FR: July 11th, 2012
J
19.Jacob Have I loved- Katherine Paterson
SR: August 1st, 2012
FR: August 13th, 2012
20.Homeland- John Jakes
SR:February 1st, 2012
FR: May 2nd, 2012
K
21.Kenjiro- Pat Barr
SR: November 11th, 2012
FR: November 23rd, 2012
22.The Jungle Book- Rudyard Kipling
SR: August 1st, 2012
FR: September 18th, 2012
L
23.Lifted up by Angels- Lurlene McDaniel
SR: May 31st, 2012
FR: July 31st, 2012
24.Number the Stars- Lois Lowry
SR: April 1st, 2012
FR: April 23rd, 2012
M
25.My Antonia- Willa Cather
SR: October 13th, 2012
FR: November 4th, 2012
26.Angels Watching Over Me- Lurlene McDaniel
SR: May 1st, 2012
FR: May 31st, 2012
N
27.Northanger Abbey- Jane Austen
SR: October 3rd, 2012
FR: November 3rd, 2012
28.Picture Me Sexy- Rhonda Nelson
SR: July 1st, 2012
FR: July 21st, 2012
O
29.O Pioneers!- Willa Cather
SR: May 1st, 2012
FR: June 2nd, 2012
30.Island of the Blue Dolphins- Scott O'Dell
SR: August 1st, 2012
FR: August 21st, 2012
P
31.Persuasion- Jane Austen
SR: March 1st, 2012
FR: April 16th, 2012
32.The Promise- Chaim Potok
SR: May 1st, 2012
FR: May 17th, 2012
Q
33.Quidditch Through the Ages- Kennilworthy Whisp (J.K Rowling)
SR: August 10th, 2012
FR: August 31st, 2012
34.The River Knows- Amanda Quick
SR: April 14th, 2012
FR: June 2nd, 2012
R
35.The red and the black- Stendhal
SR: June 1st, 2012
FR: August 28th, 2012
36.Traitors-Kristine Kathryn Rusch
SR: August 1st, 2012
FR: September 19th, 2012
S
37.The Song of the Lark- Willa Cather
SR: June 2nd, 2012
FR: October 13th, 2012
38.Maniac Magee- Jerry Spinelli
SR: July 1st, 2012
FR: August 10th, 2012
T
39.Tess of the d'Urbervilles- THomas Hardy
SR: June 1st, 2012
FR: August 28th, 2012
40.The Hobbit- JRR Tolkien
SR: August 1st, 2012
FR: August 26th, 2012
U
41.Until Angels Close My Eyes- Lurlene McDaniel
SR: July 31st, 2012
FR: October 24th, 2012
42.Journey Home- Yoshiko Uchida
SR: August 1st, 2012
FR: August 13th, 2012
V
43Vampire of the Mists- Christie Golden
SR: August 10th, 2012
FR: September 24th, 2012
44.Candide- Voltaire (Norton World Anthology VOL D)
SR: July 9th, 2012
FR: July 11th, 2012
W
45.White Fang- Jack London
SR: July 18th, 2012
FR: July 31st, 2012
46.Dragons of Autumn Twilight- Margaret Weis
SR: August 1st, 2012
FR: November 12th, 2012
X
47.The Story of the Stone Vol.4- Xueqin Cao
SR:March 16th, 2012
FR: May 16th, 2012
48.Chenxi and the Foreigner- Sally Rippin
SR: August 1st, 2012
FR: September 24th, 2012
Y
49.The Year the horses came- Mary Mackey
SR: May 20th, 2012
FR: May 27th, 2012
50.Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time- Lisa Yee
SR: July 21st, 2012
FR: August 14th, 2012
Z
51.Zoya- Danielle Steel
SR: April 14th, 2012
FR: May 20th, 2012
52.Love in a Fallen City- Ailing Zhang (Norton World Anthology Vol F)
SR: July 7th, 2012
FR: July 8th, 2012

Book Challenge A-Z #52 Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina Yoshida McMorris

Fulfilling the requirement:

The B letter for the title alphabetically.

Summary:

Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern's life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother's best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy.

When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Juilliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.

Lesson learned: 

In war, everyone loses.

Link to review: click here

G17 Contagious: Why Things Catch on

Title of the book: Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Author: Jonah Berger

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Publishing Date: 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-8657-9

Summary:
(from goodreads)

Why do certain products and ideas go viral? Dynamic young Wharton professor Jonah Berger draws on his research to explain the six steps that make products or ideas contagious.Why do some products get more word of mouth than others? Why does some online content go viral? Word of mouth makes products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. It’s more influential than advertising and far more effective.

Can you create word of mouth for your product or idea? According to Berger, you can. Whether you operate a neighborhood restaurant, a corporation with hundreds of employees, or are running for a local office for the first time, the steps that can help your product or idea become viral are the same.

Contagious is filled with fascinating information drawn from Berger’s research. You will be surprised to learn, for example, just how little word of mouth is generated online versus elsewhere. Already praised by Dan Ariely and Dan Gilbert, and sold in nine countries, this book is a must-read for people who want their projects and ideas to succeed

Other Works:

The other works, according to goodreads that Jonah wrote are simply Contagious and a story titled He Walks Like a Cowboy: One Man's Journey Through Life with a Disability

Background:
(from goodreads.com)

Jonah Berger is the James G. Campbell Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School at teh University of Pennsylvania. His research has been published in top-tier academic journals, and popular accounts of his work have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Science, Harvard Business Review, and more. His research has also been featured in The New York Times Magazine's "Year in Ideas." Berger has been recognized with a number of awards for both scholarship and teaching. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Theme:

Apparently for no reason at all, certain things become well known and viral while others die away. In this book, the author uses six principles to try to explain why some things become viral.

Addressed problems:

What things, if any, causes for something to become popular or well liked? Is popularity  random or can it be explained?

Summary of content:

The author believes that there are six major elements that go into making something popular: these are social currency, triggers, emotions, public, practical value and stories. He also summarizes the content in epilogue just to make his point clear.

Thesis:

"This book explains what makes content contagious. By 'content', I mean stories, news, and information. Products and ideas, messages and videos. Everything from fund-raising at the local public radio station to the safe-sex messages we're trying to teach our kids. By 'contagious', I mean likely to spread. To diffuse from person to person via word of mouth and social influence. To be talked about, shared, or imitated by consumers, coworkers, and constituents." (18)

Main points: 

"These are the six principles of contagiousness: products or ideas that contain Social Currency and are Triggered, Emotional, Public, Practically Valuable, and wrapped into Stories. Each chapter focuses on one of these principles. These chapters bring together research and examples to show the science behind each principle and how individuals, companies, and organizations have applied the principles to help their products, ideas, and behaviors catch on." (21)

Why its informative:

This isn't a typical business book where one will grow bored by page five and wonder the point. Its very lively, vibrant writing that anyone can understand. This book is a mixture of business and psychology as well as some real life examples of how things have succeeded. A lot of what he writes makes sense and creates a fascinating study. I'm not a business major, but am a history major and I wondered if I would grow bored reading the book. Nope, not once have I found it boring. Its short and sweet and to the point.

Support thesis: 

From the examples that the author used, I have to say that yes, the thesis was supported because he dedicates each chapter to a principle and talks about how companies used it to become viral. (At this point, I wish he could study why Gangnam Style by Psy became so popular...or why Twilight and Fifty of Shades Gray are so popular...)

Address issues:

The issues that are being addressed in this book are whether or not popularity of certain products is popular or if there are causes to it. The author theorizes that six principles determine the popularity of a project which causes the product to become extremely popular.

Ideas in book vs larger ideas:

Using the six principles, perhaps a struggling business or an enterpreneur can become more successful, or else perhaps it will give people more awareness of themselves and what they talk about.

Agree/disagree:

I have to agree with the author opinions because what he does say make sense and its difficult to find things to argue with him about.

Sources: 

In the notes section, he does list sources by chapter. Most of the sources come from the Internet, although I hadn't checked out whether or not they're valid.

Conclusion:

I would highly recommend checking this book out because its easy reading, very psychological and will give new insights as to why things are popular and why they aren't.


Quick notes: I won this book on goodreads.com thus this review will appear in its entirety on goodreads as well as the blog

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.)

E-Reading: Book Review of #9 The Sign of the Twisted Candles by Carolyn Keene

Name of Book: The Sign of the Twisted Candles

Author: Carolyn Keene

ISBN: 9780448095097

Publisher: Grosset and Dunlap

Part of a Series: Nancy Drew series

Type of book: Mystery, feud, foster parents, happy endings, 1930s, children's-young adult.

Year it was published: 1933

Summary:

While solving the mystery of an old man's disappearing fortune, Nancy ends a family feud and reveals the identity of an orphan of unknown parentage.

Characters:

Characters are typical. Nancy doesn't reveal any special talents in this books, and she is again the active and has more of a masculine role. Her father is not a background character and is active instead, while other characters are forgettable and unimportant. The villains are who you think they are and everything is tied up in a neat bow.

Theme:

No idea what theme should be, except there are reasons for everything.

Plot:

Its written in third person narrative from Nancy's point of view. Bess and George didn't play a large part in the novel due to feud, which caused Nancy's father to step up to their place. The book has no major surprises or twists and tends to be predictable. It is easy to read, but it tends to be on the boring side.

Author Information:

Carolyn Keene is a writer pen name that was used by many different people- both men and women- over the years. The company that was the creator of the Nancy Drew series, the Stratemeyer Syndicate, hired a variety of writers. For Nancy Drew, the writers used the pseudonym Carolyn Keene to assure anonymity of the creator.

Edna and Harriet Stratemeyer inherited the company from their father Edward Stratemeyer. Edna contributed 10 plot outlines before passing the reins to her sister Harriet. It was Mildred A. Wirt Benson, who breathed such a feisty spirit into Nancy's character. Mildred wrote 23 of the original 30 Nancy Drew Mystery Stories®, including the first three. It was her characterization that helped make Nancy an instant hit. The Stratemeyer Syndicate's devotion to the series over the years under the reins of Harriet Stratemeyer Adams helped to keep the series alive and on store shelves for each succeeding generation of girls and boys. In 1959, Harriet, along with several writers, began a 25-year project to revise the earlier Carolyn Keene novels. The Nancy Drew books were condensed, racial stereotypes were removed, and the language was updated. In a few cases, outdated plots were completely rewritten.

Other writers of Nancy Drew volumes include Harriet herself, she wrote most of the series after Mildred quit writing for the Syndicate and in 1959 began a revision of the first 34 texts. The role of the writer of "Carolyn Keene" passed temporarily to Walter Karig who wrote three novels during the Great Depression. Also contributing to Nancy Drew's prolific existence were Leslie McFarlane, James Duncan Lawrence, Nancy Axelrod, Priscilla Doll, Charles Strong, Alma Sasse, Wilhelmina Rankin, George Waller Jr., and Margaret Scherf.

Opinion:

Very typical and predictable Nancy Drew book. (Why in nine hells was I thinking that those books might be well written?) Nancy is described as red hair (titian). Her father plays a larger role in this book than in previous ones, and her friends, Bess and George, who are involved in Boonton vs Sidney feud don't play a large part at all. Ned makes an appearance and they get to hold hands. Nancy acts in a bit of masculine way, or at least is given the masculine lines, while Ned is given feminine type lines. This book is a straight mystery, although very predictable. (The orphan doesn't turn out to be what I thought she would be,) the book slightly focuses on inheritance and family feud.

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.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

G16 Book Review of Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

Name of Book: Golden Boy

Author: Abigail Tarttelin

ISBN: 978147672496

Publisher: Atria books

Type of book: Hermaphrodite, pregnancy, appearances, Great Britain, choices, 1990s, 2006, family, relationships, teenagers

Year it was published: 2013

Summary:

The Walker family is good at keeping secrets from the world. They are even better at keeping them from each other.

Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he's the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush fro the girls in his school. He's even really nice to his little brother.. Karen, Max's mother, is a highly successful criminal lawyer, determined to maintain teh facade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years. Now that the boys are getting older, now that she won't have as much control, she worries that the facade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband, Steve, has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encricle their lives.

The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won't his parents talk about it? Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Who is Max Walker really?

Written by twenty-five year old rising star Abigail Tarttelin, Golden Boy is a novel you'll read in one setting bill will never forget; at once a riveting tale of a family in crisis, a fascinating exploration of identity, and a coming-of-age story like no other.

Characters:

I enjoyed all characters besides Sylvie in beginning. I didn't like her and couldn't understand why the author chose to include her. Sylvie wasn't given enough depth or personality for me to like or to be able to relate to her. Later on I kind of liked her, but not as much as Max or Karen or Daniel or Archie or Steve. I enjoyed seeing how the author demonstrated Max's kindnesses and good points. I liked seeing Karen trying to control the situation, or trying to follow societal mores and pressures, as well as Steve being torn between giving Max an easy life, or just letting him be himself societal pressures be damned. Daniel I liked as well, at least he sort of acted as kind of a comic relief, or helped Max come to major realizations about himself. What I found odd is Archie. Although Archie is from India and represents the medical opinion, I wonder why the author chose to give her a name that had me thinking she's a man?

Theme:

Trying to listen to self instead of others.

Plot:

This is told in first person narrative from Max's, Daniel's (Max's younger brother,) Karen's (Max's mother),Sylvie's and Steve's (Max's father) points of views, as well as Archie's (the doctor that treats Max.) What I really liked was the relationship between Daniel and Max. Instead of telling the personality, she shows it over and over how kind and gentle and sweet Max is towards Sylvie and his younger brother. I also liked going inside Karen's head and wish more time could have been devoted to Steve, so I could understand him better.

Author Information:
(from goodreads.com)

born
October 13, 1987 in The United Kingdom

website
http://imakethingsup.tumblr.com

twitter username
abigailsbrain

genre
Literature & Fiction, Women & Gender Studies, Parenting & Families

member since
July 2012

About this author

In May 2013, from twenty-four-year-old literary rising star Abigail Tarttelin comes Golden Boy

- an unforgettable novel about a boy, a secret, and the single traumatizing event that sends his seemingly charmed life into tailspin.

(She also wrote a novel titled Flick.)

Opinion:

Wow, this is an incredibly intense book. I have read a number of coming-of-age stories about different genders and characters such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, How to Kill a Mockingbird and so forth, but none took my breath away like this one. What happens when a character is neither male nor female starts becoming a teenager? A character that's the true "hermaphrodite"? What are they thinking, feeling? I'm not sure how accurate the author is, but she truly presents a character that raises more questions and no answers. The book questions whether or not the sex reassignment surgery is correct, how can a hermaphroditic pregnancy differ from regular teenage pregnancy, and the issue of love and rape and sibling as well as relationships. The best part I liked is when Max's younger brother asks him what's he afraid of, and Max replies that secrets scare him and proceeds to describe an effect that secret has on a family. Besides the beginning of a certain love interest, I have no other complaints about the book.

Quick notes: I won this book on goodreads.com thus this review will appear in its entirety on goodreads as well as the blog

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

G22 Show & Tell in a Nutshell; Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing

Title of the book: Show & Tell in a Nutshell; Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing

Author: Jessica Bell

Publisher: Vine Leaves Press

Publishing Date: 2012

ISBN: 978-1480234475

Summary:
(from goodreads)

Have you been told there's a little too much telling in your novel? Want to remedy it? Then this is the book for you!

In Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing you will find sixteen real scenes depicting a variety of situations, emotions, and characteristics which clearly demonstrate how to turn telling into showing. Dispersed throughout, and at the back of the book, are blank pages to take notes as you read. A few short writing prompts are also provided.

Not only is this pocket guide an excellent learning tool for aspiring writers, but it is a light, convenient, and easy solution to honing your craft no matter how broad your writing experience. Keep it in the side pocket of your school bag, throw it in your purse, or even carry it around in the pocket of your jeans or jacket, to enhance your skills, keep notes, and jot down story ideas, anywhere, anytime.

Other Works:

She wrote String Bridge, Fabric, The best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012, and so forth.

Background:
(from the book)
The Australian native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and co-hosts the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop on the Greek Isle of Ithaca, with Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest.

For more Information please visit:
Website
Blog
Vine Leaves
Retreat
Twitter
Facebook

Theme:

"This is what successful showing does. It uses the five senses (and sixth) to evoke an emotional response from your reader without telling them how you want them to feel. Simply put, does me saying Hilary felt scared make you feel scared? Of course not." (5)

Problem addressed:

Show don't tell is very vague and not a lot of direction is given. (I have three guides on writing; one by Damon Knight, another a 2001 Writer's Handbook, and last one is What if?) Nobody really explains what they mean by show don't tell. They expect writers to understand intuitively. Jessica Bell, on the other hand, wrote a short handbook that demonstrates show vs telling paragraphs, labeling them. I sort of understand the difference, but its a very clear understanding.

Summary of content:

There are sixteen scenes in the book. In beginning the author writes down what emotions she's portraying in the telling paragraph. Then she tells in the paragraphs, creating a dry reading. The next page is of the showing with interesting details, and last page are notes that an author can take. The very back are blank pages for notes, and then three exercises one can try to demonstrate the showing vs telling.

Thesis:

Showing and not telling can be learned. This book is very helpful to writers in distinguishing the differences between that.

Main Points:

Writing in a cinematic way and really bringing a reader into a character's skin is very important for a writer. No one would want to read a flat novel without the details that help us like characters. One last thing is that while showing is important, moving the plot is important too, thus the writing needs to be told sometimes as well, at least to move the plot along.

Why its interesting and informative:

Its not a technical book and its easily understood. Anyone can understand it and it can click with writers instantly. I had to learn about it in a more difficult way. (I suspect a book and opening up myself were heavily involved.) One can also check out how to portray different various emotions and situations through showing with a handy index in the back.

Successfully supports thesis:

I think it does successfully support the thesis and it does teach showing vs telling.

Outside sources:

I have three books dealing with writing: one is titled What If? 2nd edition, another Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight, and last but not least is the Writer's Handbook 2001. Writer's Handbook 2001 and Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight don't even have a section on showing vs telling, at least in index and on table of contents I couldn't locate them. What If? does have it, but the writing is confusing and technical, at least when compared to Show & Tell by Jessica Bell. (I haven't read the authors brought up and one is expected to understand the difference already in four pages through three different and confusing versions!)

Addressing Issues:

In What If? the issue of Show Don't Tell is on complex, as well as the chosen paragraphs. I didn't understand the meaning and what the author is encouraging. (The book was used as a textbook for a beginning writing class! Shouldn't what it is be addressed first before encouraging us to use both?)

Small Ideas vs larger ideas: 

It simplifies Show and Tell so the future writer can simply read it and do exercises and then it can click intuitively. Remember too, its important to use both instead of just only showing or only telling. (Please read Anne Rice's Witching Hour for a good example of when Showing is used way too much... and for telling, I might recommend any of Jane Austen's novels.)

Agree/disagree:

I agree with her opinions. I also wonder if the reason I'm not a big fan of classics is because I have gotten used to cinematic writing instead of dry writing.

Revision: 

This is not revision but first edition.

Sources: 

The author didn't use any special sources but purely used examples from her own writing in demonstrating the Show or Tell paragraphs.

Conclusion:

If you have always wanted to make your writing more cinematic and beautiful and aren't sure of Show and Tell, I would advice you to pick up this handy-book and try to see if it can help you understand what's going on and how to write the scenes correctly.

Quick notes: I won this book on goodreads.com thus this review will appear in its entirety on goodreads as well as the blog

 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, December 11, 2012

G15 Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy

Title of the book: Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy

Author: Emily Bazelon

Publisher: Random House

Publishing Date: 2013

ISBN:  978-0-8129-9280-9

Summary:

Being a teenager has never been easy, but in recent years, with the rise of the Internet and social media, it has become exponentially more challenging. Bullying, once thought of as the province of queen bees and goons, has taken on new, complex, and insidious forms, as parents and educators know all too well.

No writer is better poised to explore this territory than Emily Bazelon, who has established herself as a leading voice on the social and legal aspects of teenage drama. In Sticks and Stones, she brings readers on a deeply researched, clear-eyed journey into the ever-shifting landscape of teenage meanness and its sometimes devastating consequences. The result is an indispensable book that takes us from school cafeterias to courtrooms to the offices of Facebook, the website where so much teenage life, good and bad, now unfolds.

Along the way, Bazelon defines what bullying is and, just as important, what it is not. She explores when intervention is essential and when kids should be given the freedom to fend for themselves. She also dispels persistent myths: that girls bully more than boys, that online and in-person bullying are entirely distinct, that bullying is a common cause of suicide, and that harsh criminal penalties are an effective deterrent. Above all, she believes that to deal with the problem, we must first understand it.

 Blending keen journalistic and narrative skills, Bazelon explores different facets of bullying through the stories of three young people who found themselves caught in the thick of it. Thirteen-year-old Monique endured months of harassment and exclusion before her mother finally pulled her out of school. Jacob was threatened and physically attacked over his sexuality in eighth grade—and then sued to protect himself and change the culture of his school. Flannery was one of six teens who faced criminal charges after a fellow student’s suicide was blamed on bullying and made international headlines. With grace and authority, Bazelon chronicles how these kids’ predicaments escalated, to no one’s benefit, into community-wide wars. Cutting through the noise, misinformation, and sensationalism, she takes us into schools that have succeeded in reducing bullying and examines their successful strategies. The result is a groundbreaking book that will help parents, educators, and teens themselves better understand what kids are going through today and what can be done to help them through it.

Other Works:

This is the author's first book, but according to goodreads she has participated in Happy Campers: A Slate Anthology of Tales From Summer Camp and Best of Slate: A 10th Anniversary Anthology

Author Background:

Emily Bazelon is a senior editor at Slate, a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine, and the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School. Before joining SLate, she worked as a law clerk on the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. She is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, and lives in New Haven with her husband and two sons. This is her first book.

Theme: 

"As we look to schools to help solve our kids' problems, we also have to reckon with the burden this imposes. If we want schools to raise our kids along with us- refereeing their disputes on teh Internet as well as on campus, teaching them the skills of conflict resolution, and enhancing their capacity for kindness- then it's on us to make sure they have the resource and the know-how to do it well.

"This is easy to say and much harder to accomplish. For starters, there's the basic conundrum of teenagehood: it's the time of life when people care the most about what their peers think- but those peers can lead them in the wrong direction. Adults see this and exhort teenagers to come to them for counsel- but then often don't come through with good solutions. One of the most important markers of a successful school and community, I've found, is that kids learn how to help themselves and each other through the rough patches, and are also made to feel that if they bring a problem to an adult, things will get better for them, not worse. How do we- teenagers, parents, teachers, counselors, principals, police, lawmakers, Internet entrepreneurs and engineers- make that happen?

"That's what this book is about. Along the way, I'll try to sort through the question that resonates most from my own childhood: why does bullying have the power to shape us- for bad, but also- if what we learn is resilience- for good?" (17-18)

Problems addressed: 

Bullying. The author uses two narratives of a boy and a girl being bullied; one because of the hairstyle, another is because of homosexuality. The other is mostly a focus on the girl who killed her suicide and what drove her to do so. I thought the Flannery narrative would be about a bully's mind-point, but it wasn't. Although it was a fascinating read, I found the writing to be dry, and the author doesn't present solutions to the problems.

Summary of content:

It is divided into four parts and each part contains three chapters: the first two parts have chapters of Monique, Jacob and Flannery, while the third has freedom, old mill and delete day. The last part only has conclusion. The chapters were long and weren't divided into sections which made it difficulty to read and to find it entertaining.

Thesis:

Bullying can be over anything- from small details to large, and it's also very vital to try to solve it. Also, no solution is fool-proof. In worst case scenarios, bullying has a power to tear everything apart and to place people on opposing sides instead of attempting to find a common solution to the problem.

Main Points:

How bullying tears everything apart, and that human beings have never outgrown their instincts. A few times the author's portrayal of adults, those in power, was just as a bad as portraying that of teenagers.

Interesting and Informative: 

While it is interesting and informative, I feel that the writing doesn't keep interest and the characters don't jump off the page, despite the author's attempts to do so. I also wonder how she has gotten to know Monique and Jacob. I wish to know some of her background when it comes to those two. It sounds like she was a social worker, but I might be wrong.

Supports thesis:

I think her thesis is supportive and nicely written. Also, I forgot to mention that no perfect solution exists is something she makes really clear. When she discusses the three schools that take on bullying, they are not completely eliminating it, but instead she points out some weaknesses as well.

Outside sources:

The only outside sources that might come close is Queen Bees and Wannabees which I've read. The Queen Bees book is similar to that, except it discusses hierarchy that was established in school by women, while this book simply focuses on bullying and what possibly to do about it. Facebook employees weren't portrayed positively in my opinion and seemed to reject the author's ideas and suggestions.

Time period:

It takes place in modern times, in 2000s rather than in distant past.

Special features:

None available because the version I have is an Advanced Reader's Copy/Edition.

Issues it raises:

What can people do about bullying and how to stop it from going out of control, also how not to over-mother the children. In my opinion the author presents more problems than solutions. This is a fine line to walk as well as uncertain and no one can see the future. There is also discussion of briefly of what causes some people to become bullies and how to try to minimize the impact-she emphasizes dedication and charisma as main components to why some programs succeed.

Agree/disagree:

If I have been bullied in the past, I may not know about it. I wasn't physically bullied, although emotional is a different story. No one called me names, just lied to me all the time, so how would someone report that kind of bullying? I was shocked at how bullying tears everyone and everything apart, but I wasn't surprised that in some cases full story is never available to everyone.

Sources: 

The sources are credible and I believe they are primary and secondary sources. In all honesty I haven't checked them out.

Conclusion:

Perhaps to gain more ideas and perspectives on bullying I would recommend for people to read this book. I am being honest in admitting that it's not entertaining read and it can be dry and slightly boring in some places.

Quick notes: I won this book on goodreads.com thus this review will appear in its entirety on goodreads as well as the blog

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.)

G14 Book Review of The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Name of Book: The Painted Girls

Author: Cathy Marie Buchanan

ISBN: 978-1-59448-624-1

Publisher: Riverhead books

Type of book: Ballet, Paris, poverty, sisterhood, 1878-1881, 1895, based on true people, statue, looking at self, France, Degas, relationships, working

Year it was published: 2013

Summary:

Its 1878. After their father's sudden death, the van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Left at the edge of destitution, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opera, where for a scant seventeen francs a week she will be trained to enter the famous Ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work in a stage adaption of Emile Zola's naturalist masterpiece L'Assomoir.

Soon, Marie is modeling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will be immortalized in the statue Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. Antoinette, derailed by her love for a dangerous man, must choose between honest labor and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde.

Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural, and societal change, The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of "civilized society," In the end, each will come to realize that her salvation, if not her survival, lies with the other.

Characters:

Antoinette is the elder sister and I would have to describe her as someone who's as tough as nails, while Marie is the intellectual gentle younger sister. I would have to guess that Antoinette feels burdened and perhaps isn't allowed to show the side where she could be taken care of instead of taking care of others. Marie reads and understands things, but she has a thin skin and I often think that perhaps she belongs to a class above hers. Basically I could describe her as a duckling struggling to find a place among moles. She wants to have a happy ending and to escape the fate that physiognomy has assigned her.

Theme:

Family and other people in life are very important for survival: Marie needed Antoinette to survive just in her daily existence, while Antoinette needed her sisters and family just to feel needed. It is sad that Antoinette was forced to grow up so quickly and that she had to go through these many things.

Plot:

The story is written in first person narrative from alternating points of view of both Marie and Antoinette. They are very clear with their thoughts, ideas, struggles and desires: Antoinette wanting to be loved and taken care of, while Marie wanted the same thing, as well as a desire to escape the fate she is imprisoned in.

Author Information:

Cathy Marie Buchanan is the author of the national bestseller The Day the Falls Stood Still, a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection and an Indie Next pick. She lives in Toronto.

Opinion:

The writing and the character voices are engaging. I wanted to like it, but part of me felt neutral about the book. I'm really unsure why. I would guess that the book didn't touch my emotions. The writing style, voices, descriptions of Paris of the poor as well as vocabulary chosen for Antoinette and Marie is very skillful and realistic. In some ways the story was a tad bit predictable for me, although interesting as well. One can learn a lot about the poor class in this novel, the thoughts, dreams and desires they must have had. This isn't a romantic Cinderella story, nor is it a tragic story. The class boundaries are firmly in place not allowing the sisters to advance higher, but instead it shows the daily struggle of their lives as they tried to survive. In some cases I wish that the author would have explained some vocabulary such as absinthe or perhaps some pictures of the dancing movements in French, like how the movements looked like.

Quick notes: I won this book on goodreads.com thus this review will appear in its entirety on goodreads as well as the blog

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.)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Book Challenge A-Z #51 Kenjiro by Pat Barr

Fulfilling the requirement:

The K letter for the title of the book, alphabetically.

Summary:

Kenjiro...the ambitious, handsome samurai, who fought the barriers of race and sin that stood between him and the beautiful white "barbarian" he loved.

Elinor...the stunning Englishwoman, caught in a spell of intrigue and violence, enchantment and ecstasy, torn between two ways of life- and love.

Ryo...Kenjiro's sister, who traded a traditional future for a forbidden love and an independent life.

Felix...the proper Victorian, forever loving women he could not truly possess, from the married woman who broe his child to the young Japanese girl he was forbidden to marry.

Lesson learned:

Research, research, research!... Oh wait, you mean from the book? It's possible to find Asian men classy, but only if they act European.

Link to review: click here

Book Review of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina Yoshida McMorris

Name of Book: Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Author: Kristina Yoshida McMorris

ISBN: 978-0-7582-4685-1

Publisher: Kensington Fiction

Type of book: 1941-1946?, friendship, loyalty, brotherhood, crush, interracial relationship, Japanese male/American female, music, secrets, letting go, World War II, Internment camps, fighting, POW

Year it was published: 2012

Summary:

Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern's life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother's best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy.

When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Juilliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.

Characters:

The characters I liked were Lane and TJ, although I wished to have known more about Lane and what forces shaped him to become the way he was. TJ was also interesting, but once more we are given glimpses instead of the whole character. The personalities felt slightly awkward and the reader isn't privy to their development. The author tries to show development through Lane, but I felt that I only got puzzle pieces instead of the whole picture. Honestly this book was written to be a movie because I can imagine that the movie would add subtlety and non-verbal cues that seemed to be a bit absent from the novel. (Keep in mind this is my second time reading the novel.) I also think the author was grappling with too many factors and had to make novel accessible to general public to enjoy, and I imagine that a lot of connecting parts got cut out of the novel.

Theme:

There are lots of themes from the book: no matter the side, war means losing and paranoia, fight for a noble cause instead of for yourself, and emotion is very important to creativity.

Plot:

While the characters were on a bit weak side, the research and the story itself were the novel's strengths. The author has done very well in setting up the 1940s atmosphere from littlest details to big details, and she doesn't bog this book down with information or history which would turn off people who don't like history or find it boring. I also enjoyed the interracial love aspect, although I do wish that more could be told about Japanese culture besides the Obon Festival, (something else that is lacking,) the story is never boring and thoughts of TJ, Lane and Maddie were interesting, and for Lane were gut wrenching. This is also told in third person narrative from those three points of views.

Author Information:
(from goodreads.com)

Kristina McMorris
Goodreads author profile

url
http://www.goodreads.com/kymcmorris

born
The United States

gender
female

website
http://www.KristinaMcMorris.com

genre
Literature & Fiction, Historical Fiction

member since
June 2010


About this author

KRISTINA MCMORRIS is a graduate of Pepperdine University and the recipient of nearly twenty national literary awards. A host of weekly TV shows since age nine, including an Emmy® Award-winning program, she penned her debut novel, Letters from Home (Kensington Books, Avon/HarperCollins UK), based on inspiration from her grandparents' wartime courtship. This critically acclaimed book was declared a must-read by Woman's Day magazine and achieved additional recognition as a Reader's Digest Select Editions feature, a Doubleday/Literary Guild selection, and a 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist for Best Historical Fiction. Her second novel, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, was released March 2012 to equally high critical praise. Named one of Portland's "40 Under 40" by The Business Journal, Kristina lives with her husband and two sons in the Pacific Northwest. (less)

Opinion:
(I would like to thank Audra of unabridged chick for choosing me as a winner of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina Yoshida McMorris)

I have read this book twice: first time in a desperate attempt to read it when it came out from a library. My initial impressions was the lack of love chemistry between Maddie and Lane, but it was still a very touching story on many levels. I also was sad to find out that the event I thought would happen actually did happen. The second time reading through this, although I still feel that there wasn't a lot of love chemistry between Maddie and Lane, I paid more attention to how the war was seen through Lane's and TJ's eyes; from special agents invading Lane's home and privacy, to TJ abandoning his principles and what he knows of Lane to paranoia due to Maddie's and Lane's deception. While there were many strengths that the author exhibited in the story such as emotion as well as causing Lane to be a multi-dimensional character and something more than an "archetype" of an Asian male, there were weaknesses as well. I felt that the author was rushing through the last few parts of the novel, at least the part past Internment Camp. The conflicts that should have been evolved, were, instead few brief pages before quick resolution. Other than that, a wonderful and beautiful story of love and friendship. Highly recommended.

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.)

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