Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review of The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

Title of the book: The tale of Genji

Author: Murasaki Shikibu

Publisher: Norton

Publishing Date: 1000s,

ISBN: 0-393-92451-3

Summary:

The Tale of Genji was written in the eleventh century by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady of the Heian court. It is universally recognized as the greatest masterpiece of Japanese prose narrative, perhaps the earliest true novel in the history of the world. Until now there has been no translation that is both complete and scrupulously faithful to the original text. Edward G Seidensticker's masterly rendering was first published in two volumes in 1976 and immediately hailed as a classic of the translator's art.

Author Info:
born
Kyoto, Japan

gender
female

genre
Poetry


About this author

Murasaki Shikibu, or Lady Murasaki as she is sometimes known in English, was a Japanese novelist, poet, and a maid of honor of the imperial court during the Heian period. She is best known as the author of The Tale of Genji, written in Japanese between about 1000 and 1008, one of the earliest and most famous novels in human history. "Murasaki Shikibu" was not her real name; her actual name is unknown, though some scholars have postulated that her given name might have been Takako (for Fujiwara Takako). Her diary states that she was nicknamed "Murasaki" ("purple wisteria blossom") at court, after a character in The Tale of Genji. "Shikibu" refers to her father's position in the Bureau of Ceremony (shikibu-shō).

Personal Opinion:

This is actually the section and the book that first introduced me to Genji. At the time my favorite chapter was the second one, the broom tree one. The section is about 100 pages or so and contains 2nd chapter, 4th chapter, 12th and 13th chapter,  and 25th chapter. For those who are curious about trying out Genji, try out this particular sample to determine whether or not this story is something that one can continue going further.

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, January 30, 2012

Book Review of #3 Sexy Silent Nights by Cara Summers

Name of Book: Sexy Silent Nights

Author: Cara Summers

ISBN: 978-0-373-79659-5

Publisher: Harlequin Blaze

Part of a Series: Wilder, Fortune and Stone Trilogy; Take my breath away... and Tailspin are prequels

Type of book: adult, romance, mystery, connection, 2011, night club, charity, wealth

Year it was published: 2011

Summary:

It never should've happened: club owner Jonah Stone was the best friend of Cilla Michaels's boss. But one look into his stormy gray eyes and the secuirty specialist was all-in: a mind-blowing one-night fling in his sumptuous suite. Not talking. No strings...

No such luck.

Because it turns out that Cilla's not the only one who's developed a taste for forbidden fruit. When Jonah starts receiving threats from a vengeful ghost of christmas past, he hires Cilla on as a bodyguard...and makes no secret about how close he wants her to be. Of course, that makes him more forbidden than ever.

Still, a girl can only resist so much...

Characters:

I couldn't relate to the characters, although its focused more on plot than on them making love. I did like the character of Cilla, and how Jonah identified her as Priscilla and Cilla, making her sound dual personality. Jonah sounds like a good man and is very protective of the charges. (The trait he showed in previous books.) I think I would have been interested to know why Jonah stayed single for so long and also watch the characters work through their issues so to speak. (It didn't seem realistic to me in the book.)

Theme:

I think that every girl can have her hero; besides that I can't think of what else one can learn from it.

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from Cilla and Jonah's points of view. Its not required to read previous novels and this one focuses more on the foundation that the three friends have built rather than on friendships. The couples from previous books barely make appearances. (Nicola and Gabe do, but Bianca and Nash are completely absent.)

Author Information:

Was Cara Summers born with the dream of becoming a published romance novelist? No. But now that she is, she still feels her dreams has come true. She loves writing for the Blaze line because it allows her to create strong, determined women and seriously sexy men who will risk everything to achieve their dreams. Cara has written more than thirty-five books for Harlequin Books, and when she isn't working on new stories, she teachers in the Writing Program at Syracuse University and at a community college near her home.

Opinion:

Although parts of the books were interesting, the formula she used wasn't abandoned. Not that its a bad thing because most people love predictability, but for some odd reason I couldn't connect to the characters and they seemed to be the same as few other novels I have read. I also liked the book cover a lot. I think this is good to read if you'd like to know more about Jonah Stone, a friend from Tailspin and Take My Breath Away...the connections are also intriguing between the hero and heroine. Unlike the previous novels, there is chemistry with the characters, and there is more plot than intimate moments.

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

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review of #2 Tailspin by Cara Summers

Name of Book: Tailspin

Author: Cara Summers


ISBN: 978-0-373-79626-7

Publisher: Harlequin Blaze

Part of a Series: Wilder, Fortune and Stone Trilogy; Take my breath away prequel; Sexy Silent Nights sequel

Type of book: adult, 2011, air force, hidden secrets, mystery, romance, adult

Year it was published: 2011

Summary:

Subject: Air Force Captain Nash Fortune

Current Status: On assignment, teaching at the Air Force Academy

Mission: Brief his former flame on long-ago event. Full disclosure.

Obstacle: Their past. Their future. And a very distracting present!

Bianca Quinn makes her living writing true-crime books. Her latest book is about a decade-old case involving a missing cadet-a case somebody doesn't want opened. And her best source of intel? None other than her still-way-too-hot high-school sweetheart, Nash Fortune...

But this is no sweet, shy reunion. That same heated chemistry is still very potent, and Bianca and Nash find themselves losing control-fast! Can they pull out of the tailspin... or do they dare find out just how far this desire might go?

Characters:

The characters from Take My Breath Away, the couple anyways, make a cameo as well as Jonah Stone from Sexy Silent Nights and the future Cilia Michaels. For me personally the characters aren't very memorable. Bianca Quinn is very resourceful and talented at putting all the pieces together. She also fears of going through pain and isn't impulsive. Nash, too, is unwilling to acknowledge how his feelings towards Bianca have grown and is impulsive and romantic and sentimental as well as focused and dedicated. Both characters struggle with correcting mistakes from the past and try to get to the happily ever after.

Theme:

Sometimes things happen and plans, for better or worse, go awry.

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from Nash's and Bianca's points of view. I don't think its necessary to read Take My Breath Away, unless you'd like to know how Gabe and Nicola have met. The book is designed as a stand alone novel and with minor things it flows smoothly from start to finish. Also, at least in the books I've read by her, this is very different than the standard formula.

Author Information:

Was Cara Summers born with the dream of becoming a published romance novelist? No. But now that she is, she still feels her dreams has come true. She loves writing for the Blaze line because it allows her to create strong, determined women and seriously sexy men who will risk everything to achieve their dreams. Cara has written more than thirty-five books for Harlequin Books, and when she isn't working on new stories, she teachers in the Writing Program at Syracuse University and at a community college near her home.

Opinion:

I have read a number of Blaze books by Cara Summers, and I noticed a slight pattern in them, which I won't reveal, but this is first book I've fallen upon by her that removes the pattern and gives a fresh perspective to read. I don't think she answered certain questions and for me there was a slight confusion with Maggie. She's Nash's grandmother, yet why don't they say 'great-grandkids' and why say grandkids? This is a change of pace for a mystery of Cara Summers which involves guns, car chases (sometimes I imagine it as James Bond type mysteries,) because they are trying to discover Brian Silko and at the same time the true story of Nash's ancestors, Jeremiah and Thaddeus Fortune. The links will be surprising although I had to admit that I could see them well.

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

Book Review of #3 Just Give In...by Kathleen O'Reilly

Name of Book: Just Give In...

Author: Kathleen O'Reilly

ISBN: 978-0-373-79639-7

Publisher: Harlequin Blaze

Part of a Series: Harts of Texas Trilogy: Just Surrender... and Just Let Go... prequels

Type of book: Texas, recluse, junkyard, homeless, lies, family, Adult, romance, 2011

Year it was published: 2011

Summary:

Ever feel like your life took a wrong turn somewhere? Brooke Hart is in the tiny town of Tin Cup-broke and with no place to stay. All she has is a fierce of independence. So when an ex-soldier named Jason Kincaid-a taciturn-but-gruffly-sexy local-offers her a job, Brooke can't say no...in fact, something about Jason makes Brooke's sex drive whisper, "Oh yeah!"

The attraction between them is irresistible. So irresistible, in fact, that it doesn't take long before Brooke tempts Jason beyond the point of no return. But Jason isn't one to easily trust anyone. Can he give in to his craving...without giving up his heart?

Characters:

The characters are well developed, although unfortunately not enough is learned about the hero and if information is given, for some odd reason it didn't stick into my mind; for example why the alienation from his father or the town in general? Jason Kincaid, aka The Captain isn't very social and sticks to himself. He enjoys fixing things and creates his own inventions such as Dog which helps with cleaning up the tables and other things. We first meet Brooke towards the end of Just Surrender...where the Hart brothers, Austen and Tyler agree to meet her and are struck with a picture perfect storybook story. In this book we learn a secret that relates to the story and that Brooke in fact went down to Texas to get a claim on her piece of land. Brooke is very independent and has severe anxiety when it comes to being accepted as herself. Austen and Gillian also make appearances and play a significant role in the story, in particular of Jason trying to help Austen and Brooke in getting along, but little is learned about Austen and Gillian beyond what we know of them.

Theme:

Be true to yourself.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from Brooke's and Jason's points of views, and few times Austen and Gillian's as well. For the most part the pacing is nice although fast and the author makes up for that with vivid character descriptions. However, towards the end, there is a big rush and lot was rushed over unfortunately which will create suspension of belief for the reader.

Author Information:

Kathleen O'Reilly wrote her first romance at the age of eleven, which to her undying embarrassment was read aloud to her class. After taking more than twenty years to recover from the profound distress, she is now proud to finally announce her career-romance author. Now she is an award-winning author of nearly twenty romances published in countries all over the world. Kathleen lives in New York with her husband and their two children, who outwit her daily.

Opinion:

Aside from the last few chapters, this is actually well written and enjoyable, although some situations really needed extra pages for them to make sense. (I won't reveal which ones.) I enjoyed Brooke's and Jason's story, especially the teasing between them, and Brooke's independence. (No kidding, she is.) I do wish that some things would have been revealed, such as Tyler witnessing their mother's abandonment. (He never revealed how the situation happened.) It also seemed as if the author had a lot to do in the book beside create the chemistry and why the hero deserved the heroine part, thus the romance is slightly rushed in my view, although it doesn't detract from the already developed chemistry. To read and learn more about Brooke, this is recommended, but if you want to learn more about the Hart brothers, not 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.)

Book Review of #9 Evil Elizabeth by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: Evil Elizabeth

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-48283-1

Publisher: Bantam Book

Part of a Series: Sweet Valley Twins and Friends Super Chiller

Type of book: Sweet valley, 1985, Halloween, moon, evil mask, supernatural, evil, mystery

Year it was published: 1995

Summary:

Everyone thinks of Elizabeth Wakefield as the nice twin. That's why she loves her Halloween mask-it's so scary that no one can believe Elizabeth is behind it.

But her appearance isn't the only thing that changes when Elizabeth puts on the mask-little by little it makes Elizabeth act evil...only Elizabeth doesn't know it. It's up to her twin sister, Jessica, to destroy the mask...before Elizabeth does something she'll regret forever.

Characters:

Once more the characters require no explanation and they are explained right at the start and all that. (Hmm, I wonder how many Halloweens in the canon do the twins experience; in Super Chillers I'm reading, if they are twelve, shouldn't they be doing Haunted Burial Ground?)

Theme:

No matter what show the happy ending. (Oops...)

Plot:

Very poorly written and woven. This is third person narrative from Elizabeth and Jessica's points of views, but the end is very poorly written and has a lot of suspension of belief moments as well as lots of plot holes and mysteries that will not be revisited and will ultimately be ignored.

Author Information:

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

Opinion:

One of the worst written Sweet Valley Twins and Super Chillers novels I have read. First of all, please don't leave any threads you're not planning on visiting, and come on, very heavy suspension of belief is required. (How come Steven's teacher can't see the moon that Steven is talking about? Shouldn't she be observing the subject she teaches?) Also, please, more information on Corinna the Luna lady instead of the pointless mystical sights that Jessica experiences when she goes to her. And moon? Really? How does Elizabeth snap from the curse and all that? If there are answers to my questions, please point me to them leaving book page numbers.

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 #8 The Secret of the Magic Pen By Francine Pascal

Name of Book: The Secret of the Magic Pen

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-48282-3

Publisher: Bantam book

Part of a Series: Sweet Valley Twins and Kids Super Chillers

Type of book: 1985, Sweet Valley, summer camp, mystery, supernatural, plagiarism, young adult

Year it was published:  1995

Summary:

Summer vacation is here, and Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends have just arrived at sleep-away camp! On a hike through a dark, eerie cave, Elizabeth finds something incredible- a glowing pen! She can't wait to use it to write an article for the camp newspaper.

But as she writes, Elizabeth is astonished to find herself composing a mystery full of scary twists and turns. And to her horror, little by little the mystery seems to be coming true! THis isn't just an ordinary pen. Could it be haunted?

Characters:

The characters are self explanatory and there's nothing special about them. There are a few new characters that I doubt will make their way into the main canon such as Elizabeth's new friend Star Johnson and Jessica's new friend Miranda. But don't worry, the reader won't get to know them much before they disappear.

Theme:

You can't silence the truth.

Plot:

This is third person omniscient from Elizabeth's and Jessica's point of view. It's not necessary to read previous Super chillers as they all are stand-alone novels. This is one of the better written of 6-9 part. Everything is self explanatory and it tends to be a bubblegum for the brain food.

Author Information:

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

Opinion:

Just like others, this does have mystery and supernatural elements as well as suspension of belief involved. But the ending of the mystery is a little more interesting though; the idea of plagiarism by an author I doubt one sees in the original Sweet valley canon. I really think my pet peeve is repeated seasons without rhyme or reason and the people staying the same age throughout. (Summer? Really? Anyone remember the summer they spent in the forth book? The one where they traveled to visit Aunt Helen?) This is nicely written but tends to be boring in my opinion and predictable.

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

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review of #2 Just Let Go...by Kathleen O'Reilly

Name of Book: Just Let Go...

Author: Kathleen O'Reilly

ISBN: 978-0-373-79629-8

Publisher: Harlequin Blaze

Part of a Series: Harts of Texas; Just Surrender prequel, Just Give in, sequel

Type of book: Adult, romance, politics, small town, Texas, sheriff

Year it was published: 2011

Summary:

As town sheriff and all around go-to girl, Gillian Wanamaker has always gotten everything she's ever wanted-except Austen Hart on prom night ten years ago. She's never forgiven or forgotten his disappearing act, and now the super-sexy bad boy of Tin Cup, Texas, is back! And Gilly's getting even! Austen's not the only one who can love 'em and leave 'em. And she's gonna love him, sugar. All. Night. Long.

The leaving part is tougher. Especially when important Tin Cup business keeps throwing them together. But if she ever hopes for more, will Austen leave her again?

Characters:

Unfortunately Austen isn't sufficiently explored in the book, although he is the interesting character, and one does want to know more about him and his family. I also would have liked to see more of Tyler and Eddie from Just Surrender to see how they were doing. In a way though, this book does explain Tyler's character and why he is the way he is. Gillian is a very strong female character, and also a fascinating one as well. She's extremely tough, and her fear is disappointing her mother to whom she looks up to very much. Her mother loves her and does one thing that she doesn't even agree with. Austen seems to think that he's a bad boy and seems to relish the part, but he also has a soft side when it comes to Gillian and does his best to make her happy.

Theme:

Reputation is faulty and at times don't trust in it.

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from Austen's and Gillian's points of views. I don't think its necessary to read Just Surrender to understand the book. The book seems to flow smoothly until the very end when it seems to make an abrupt cut and cut out all the necessary and believable details.

Author Information:

Kathleen O'Reilly wrote her first romance at the age of eleven, which to her undying embarrassment was read aloud to her class. After taking more than twenty years to recover from the profound distress, she is now proud to finally announce her career-romance author. Now she is an award-winning author of nearly twenty romances published in countries all over the world. Kathleen lives in New York with her husband and their two children, who outwit her daily.

Opinion:

It had potential to be a good book; I enjoyed the trip that Gillian and Austen had, as well as Gillian's amazing personality, that she's  not just a typical overachiever, but she has her quirks too, but something felt off in the book. In a way, this book also explains a little about the hero from Just Surrender, why he is the way he is, but unfortunately very little Austen exploration. Ironically I have been to Austin with an ex of mine and some of the things the author wrote I could picture. Also, I felt that the ending tended to be abrupt and I wish I could understand why Austen is the way he is. (He seems to enjoy being the bad boy.) Also in someways this is reminiscent of Gone with the wind, with families judging you by the last name. The politics part were confusing though, but interesting. (You scratch mine back and I'll scratch yours is a lot more complex in the book.)

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

Book Review of #2 Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time By Lisa Yee

Name of Book: Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time

Author: Lisa Yee

ISBN: 978-0-439-62248-6

Publisher: Scholastic Apple

Part of a Series: Millicent Min trilogy; Millicent Min, Girl Genius, So Totally Emily Ebers

Type of book:  young adult, boy book,friendship, first love, interracial relationship,  Asian male/white female, 2000s, California

Year it was published: 2005

Summary:

"We interrupt your lives to announce Stanford Wong has flunked sixth grade!!!"

All right, so maybe there hasn't been an announcement like that. But that's the way it feels to Stanford. He's used to being a hero on hte basketball court, where he's the first sixth-grader ever to make the A-team, and just getting by in class.

But when he flunks English-Flunks it big time-and learns he'll have to trade basketball camp for summer school, Stanford freaks out. His friends can't know or they'll dump him. His had has to know and it's awful. The beautiful Emily Ebers will never like him if he's stupid. And when his mom hires a tutor for him-Millicent Min, genius, jerk, and poster girl from Chinese geekdom- Stanford knows it's happened: His life is officially over.

Characters:

The characters felt pretty real and are realistic. Stanford's struggle with a subject is realistic, and despite many wishing that he'd become the male version of Millicent Min, it's not going to happen. Despite the presence of several women in the book such as Yin-Yin, Emily Ebers and Millicent Min, its clear that this is a boy's type book, although I'm sure the women will enjoy how much he's in love with Emily Ebers and writes about her all the time. Yin-Yin, like Millicent's grandmother, is a unique woman who has dreams beyond the confines of her immediate environment, but unlike Millicent's grandmother, she seems to carry regrets that she hasn't done more with her life. I couldn't really understand what Stanford finds so threatening about Mr. Glick, although its understandable why he doesn't like the teacher. (If one has to be with a teacher that teaches a subject that they don't like, then its likely the teacher will be a threatening type.) Millicent is also portrayed as an unlikable character, and with Emily he instantly falls in love. (If possible too, read So Totally Emily Ebers to see what other things Stanford and Emily have in common.) Also, the relationship between Stanford and his father is interesting and when things end, they seem to end realistically, as if the character really does deserve them.

Theme:

Life is unexpected and give things a try.

Plot:

It's written in form of a diary from Stanford's point of view, and it also has the time things happened. (I don't recall if Millicent Min and Emily Ebers had that too.) Reading either Millicent Min or Emily Ebers isn't required to enjoy it, but it makes the book more enjoyable to see how the summer passes for Stanford.

Author Information:

Lisa Yee won the 2004-Sid Fleischman Humor Award fro Millicent Min, Girl Genius, which was also selected for the TRA/CBC Children's Choice List and nominated for multiple state prizes. Her second novel, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, was named an ALA Notable Book. So Totally Emily Ebers completes the trilogy, which, as Lisa likes to point out, "can be read in any order, any day of the week, and at any time, except when you're sleeping."

Lisa writes her novels, stories and grocery lists at her home in South Pasadena, California.

Vist her Web site at www.lisayee.com

Opinion:

This is a very rare book where I have no complaints about anything about it. I enjoyed reading it, and it brought me lots of smiles. (At least the scenes where Stanford talks on and on about Emily.) I also enjoyed the realistic character progression of Stanford, and that he was created realistically as an everyday boy without the "foreign" stigma attached to him. The days and chapters are also very short for the reluctant readers and this book is not about books but about contact and becoming friends. I didn't compare this one to Millicent Min and Emily Ebers so I cannot vouch for accuracies or inaccuracies.

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.)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review of #2 Autumn Bridge by Takashi Matsuoka

Name of Book: Autumn Bridge

Author: Takashi Matsuoka

ISBN: 0-385-33641-1

Publisher: Delacorte Book

Part of a Series: Samurai Duology; Cloud of Sparrows prequel

Type of book: Japan, America, present, past, future, prophecy, 1281-1311, 1796-1867, 1882, 1953, 1895, interracial relationship, Asian male/white female, ancestors

Year it was published: 2004


Summary:

In the year 1311, in the highest tower of Cloud of Sparrows Castle, a beautiful woman sits by the window, watching as enemies gather below and fires spread through the night. As she calmly awaits her fate, she begins to write, carefully setting down on a scroll the secret history of the Okumichi clan…of the gift of prophecy they share and the extraordinary destiny that awaits them.

For six centuries, these remarkable writings lay hidden—until they are uncovered by an American woman, a missionary named Emily Gibson, who arrived in Edo harbor in 1861, in flight from a tragic past. Soon an extraordinary man would enter her life: Lord Genji of the Okumichi clan, a nobleman with a gift of prophecy who must defend his embattled family—and confront forbidden feelings for an outsider in his midst. Emily, too, soon finds herself at a turning point; courted by two westerners, she knows her heart belongs to the one man she cannot have. But Emily has found a mission of her own: translating Genji’s ancestral history, losing herself in an epic tale of heroism and forbidden love.

For here is the story of Lady Shizuka, the beautiful witch-princess who has enchanted Okumichi men for generations…of Genji’s ancestors, Lord Hironobu and Lord Kiyori, and of the terrible betrayals that befell them…and of Genji’s parents: a wastrel father and his child bride whose tragic love has shaped Genji as a leader and as a man. As Emily sifts through the fragile scrolls, she begins to see threads of her own life woven into the ancient writings. And as past and present collide, a hidden history comes to life, and with it a secret prophecy that has been shrouded for centuries, and may now finally be revealed. Takashi Matsuoka’s spellbinding novel is infused with spectacle, intricately woven, magically told. Autumn Bridge is a feast for the senses, a work of truly dazzling storytelling.

Characters:

The characters are well written and believable. Six years has passed since Emily landed in Japan and she and Genji fell in love with each other, although Emily can't act on her feelings towards Genji, and same for Genji because he fears of what will happen when the two will fall in love. There are also characters of Lady Shizuka and how the family received the prophecy vision, as well as brief updates of what happened to the deadly and beautiful Lady Heiko and Matthew Stark and more about Goro and Kimi, the village children, and more about Lord Kiyori and Genji's mother and father, Midori and Yorimasu. The book is a pleasure to read and unpredictable.

Theme:

(From the book, chapter 12) "Knowing the future was like knowing the past. Events could not be controlled or altered, only one's attitude toward them. Like the earth itself, the heart had directions. Bitterness, anguish, fear, and hatred lay one way; equanimity, gratitude, kindness, and love another.

"This ability to choose the heart's direction was the true power of the prophet, which was no more than the only true power of every human being."

Plot:

This is written from omniscient point of view, from also points of views almost all characters and combines past, present and future in one book. I am not sure whether to classify this as a prequel or a sequel. It deserves that kind of category. Unfortunately certain events were rushed in my view and it raises a lot more questions than it answers. I am not sure whether or not its necessary to read The Cloud of Sparrows, but I would guess yes, it is necessary. I would like it if the author wrote a third book to answer more questions but the book would tie everything up so to speak.

Author Information:

This is from wikipedia: Takashi Matsuoka (born January 10, 1947) is a first-generation Japanese American writer. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States, and worked at a Zen Buddhist temple before becoming a full-time writer. His books about American missionaries' visits to Japan are often compared to Shōgun and other books by British historical novelist James Clavell. Matsuoka also worked as a writer for the 1990 film Pale Blood.

Opinion:

Although this book does answer questions from Cloud of Sparrows, it also raises more questions than it answers. It does reveal interesting things about Genji's grandfather, including his secret, and it gives more information and details about Lady Shizuka, the witch princess that was rescued by Genji's ancestor Hironobu. If the author hadn't planned on giving sequel to this novel I wish he could have answered more questions instead of raising them. (For example, why has Emily insisted on calling her and Genji's daughter Shizuka?) What is interesting is that due to the character's name I sometimes link this book to the Japanese classic, The Tale of Genji. Although I hadn't read the last chapter of the book yet, the title of the book is similar to the chapter in Tale of Genji. (Autumn Bridge vs The Floating Bridge of Dreams.) Also in The Tale of Genji, the character of Genji says how autumn is his favorite season. I do wonder at the connection between the novels as well as the fact that I doubt the author will continue writing the story. (More on that later.)

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.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Review of Monster by Christopher Pike

Name of Book: Monster

Author: Christopher Pike

ISBN: 0-671-74507-7

Publisher: Archway Paperback

Type of book: vampires from outer space, horror, science fiction, asteroid belt, "Fifth world", 1990s

Year it was published: November 1992

Summary:

Mary Blanc walked into the party with a loaded shotgun. In the blink of an eye she blew two people away. She wanted to kill more, but was stopped by her best friend, Angela Warner, and the police. The next day, when Angel visits Mary at the jail she asks why she did it. Mary responds, "Because they were no longer human." Angela thinks she's crazy.

At first.

Until she probes deeper into Mary's claims and discovers a horror so unimaginable that she thinks she is going crazy. She even gets to the point where she wonders if she should have let Mary keep on killing. While there was still time to stop the thing from spreading. The very old thing. The hungry thing.

Characters:

The characters do have distinctive personalities; Angela is sarcastic with an interesting sense of humor as well as incredibly resourceful and brave. I don't understand how and why it became possible for Angela to start liking someone whom she didn't have slightest affection. Other characters, unfortunately, aren't memorable and I really didn't understand the purpose of them. For example, why was Lt. Nguyen included in the book? How did he help Angela in her quest?

Theme:

Things that are crazy are possible.

Plot:

This is third person narrative from Lt. Ngyuen's point of view and Angela's as well. There are some minor inconsistencies in the book such as the fact that at first Mary and Kevin moved in different circles, yet the end hints that they spent a lot of time together. Also, how did Angela become infected if she didn't have water? It's a stand alone novel and it is creepy first few times one reads it.

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:

In first few reads, it definitely has a creepy feel, and I often wondered how true it is. Perhaps I have aged, or perhaps this book doesn't have that special magic over me as it used to. It's not a horrible novel, but what seemed consistent and without flaws, turned into inconsistency and flawed. I do admit that the Kaatu voice that Angela exhibits is creepy, but I suppose I couldn't see any purpose for Lt. Nguyen to be in the book. Despite the supernatural elements, I didn't like that this is another book where police sucked. But yeah, I understand that no one would believe the monster theory in real life.

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, January 17, 2012

Book Review of #1 Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade by Barthe DeClements

Name of Book: Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade

Author: Barthe DeClements

ISBN: 0-14-034443-8

Publisher: Puffin Books

Type of book: kid to young adult, fifth grade, overweight,  friendship, growing up, working mothers, 1980s

Year it was published: 1981

Summary:

Your teacher is too strict, fractions are too hard, nd the most disgusting girl in school has the seat next to yours...Nothing's fair!

Jenny knows one thing fore sure-Elsie Edwards is fat thief who steals people's lunch money to buy candy. So when the book club money disappears, why is the whole class punished? Nothing's fair!

But soon Jenny realizes some things aren't fair for Elsie, either. Elsie is on a strict diet, but when she starts losing weight, her mother wont' buy her new clothes. Instead, she plans to send Elsie to boarding school. Suddenly everyone wants to help Elsie. Nothing's fair in fifth grade-but sometimes things get better!

Characters:

The characters strike me as being well written and realistic and believable. It's believable that Elsie has a tough exterior due to her upraising, and that the more time the girls spent together, they start seeing her as a person rather than someone who's fat. I do kind of wish that I'd understand Elsie's mother's motivations and why she treats Elsie the way she does.

Theme:

Even if the person is unappealing physically, try to look beyond that and see them underneath.

Plot:

This is in first person narrative from Jenny's point of view. The book is easy to read and wraps up the story nicely so to speak, although some questions will remain after finishing it. I secretly do wish the book could have been made longer though.

Author Information:

Barthe DeClements is a school counselor who has worked as a psychologist and teacher.

While teaching 5th grade, she sought new ways to make spelling and composition interesting. So she began to create a story by writing one paragraph on the blackboard each week. Ms. DeClements says the students became so involved that one child expected the fictional Elsie to join their class! Then, during summer vacation, Ms. DeClements shaped those paragraphs into Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade, her first book.

Barthe DeClements says that space and solitude enable her to write. She now lives in a log house, built by the youngest of her four children, near Pilchuck River in Snohomish, Washington.

Opinion:

I read this book even when I was a kid and still enjoyed it a great deal. It gives a nice lesson of not judging people by the cover. Unfortunately, even today people judge others by weight ironically, and very often they are not seen as human beings. The book is short with few chapters and is easy to read. In someways it is easy to relate to it, but it will seem outdated, especially with working mothers theme. However, the friendship theme will never be outdated. Also this book gives an interesting view of different types of families, such as Elsie's divorced mother and younger brother, and one of Jenny's friends' mothers is widowed.

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.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review of #3 Brother Wind by Sue Harrison

Name of Book: Brother Wind

Author: Sue Harrison

ISBN: 0-380-72178-3

Publisher: Avon Fiction

Part of a Series: Ivory Carver Trilogy; Mother Earth Father Sky, My sister the moon prequels

Type of book: 7038 BC-7036 BCE, Alaska, north, war, finding home, life, prehistoric,

Year it was published: 1994

Summary:

In a time before time at the top of the world-in a harsh and unforgiving age of ice-courage will sustain three remarkable souls through trials as bitter as the chill winds of the eternal winter.

Claimed by a brutal, despised enemy, Kiin must sacrifice her love for the sake of her tribe and hte safety of her children. Left widowed and helpless among the Whale Hunters, Kukutux now faces the impossible challenge of surviving alone. While Samiq, wounded and a hunter no more, must take up the mantle of leadership and guide a devastated people abandoned by their gods.

At the dawn of humanity, their extraordinary destinies intertwine. And through hardship and adventure, they endure-confronting the cruelty of man, fate and nature with the indomitable strength of heart and spirit.

Characters:

The characters are well drawn and third dimensional, although I didn't understand how Kukutux was important to the story. Samiq and Kiin along with others are the ones that ask for respect and its obvious of their importance to the story, but Kukutux, I am lost. What has she done that is important? Also, if you read previous novels and positively despise Waxtal/Grey Bird, in this book he'll get what's coming to him, and so will Raven. It's also nice to see that Samiq did indeed learn things from Whale Hunter People and I am curious how all will survive when there are more women than men brining in the necessary oil.

Theme:

There is justice in the world, and actions can lead to good things.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from what seems like every character imaginable; this book has point of view from Raven, Waxtal, the River Chief villager, Kiin, Kukutux, etc. It is necessary to read My Sister the Moon to understand this novel because the book picks up from that. I do feel that the book is unnecessarily long and drawn out.

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:

First time I tried to read this book, I quit 100 pages in or so. Second time I made it through. I do have questions though; how is Kukutux important to the story? Why wasn't she introduced in My Sister the Moon so we could understand her importance? This book also shows a hierarchy of the people in Alaska, who's on top and who's on bottom and gives us a glimpse of the River people, which she tackles in the next trilogy. It is necessary to read My sister the moon before reading this book. It is an enjoyable book and a good conclusion, but when comparing it to its predecessors, it seems rather weak and very drawn out.

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, January 10, 2012

Book Review of Master of Murder by Christopher Pike

Name of Book: Master of Murder

Author: Christopher Pike

ISBN: 0-671-69059-0

Publisher: Archway Paperback

Type of book: young adult, murder, mystery, who did it

Year it was published: July 1992

Summary:

Marvin was an eighteen-year-old senior high school. He was also America's bestselling author of teenage fiction. Millions of kids read his book. In fact, his latest series-The MYSTERY AT SILVER SPRING- was the craze at his high school. But Marvin wrote under a pen name, and no one knew who he was. He was rich and famous, but he couldn't even get a date for Friday night.

Yet Marvin wanted to remain unknown. He was worried that his incredible career was aboutt ot hit a birck wall. The final installment of his famous series was overdue. His millions of fans were dying to know what was going to happen in his his series, but so was Marvin. He had no idea how the story was supposed to end.

Then one night he opens a fan letter. It has come from his publisher-in the usual way. But this letter says, "I know who you are," and the postmark is from his local town. At first Marvin is unconcerned about the letter, but then another arrives, saying more...

Soon Marvin is caught up in a web of mystery more complex and frightening than his own books. But too late he realizes that the stories he has been spinning are true.

Characters:

I have to be honest when I say that Marvin Summer disgusted me towards the end of the book. For some odd reason, for me personally anyways, this is not Pike's strongest book and its hardly memorable. Shelly Quade, the heroine of the novel is confusing and I wished that the author would have explored her more instead of Marvin. I also would have liked to know if there were any other reasons that Ann, Marvin's sister, hated Shelly. Other characters tended to be flat and not memorable. Also, not enough explanation towards Marvin's transformation at the end is given.

Theme:

Appearances can be deceiving, stories can come from reality, often things are over looked.

Plot:

Written in third person narrative from Marvin's point of view. I think there's a lot of suspension of belief involved, especially how police over looked and not question certain evidence. I know that certain things will be over looked, but come on, evidence such as Marvin described and was able to come up with a solution?

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:

I would have given this book three stars but I guess I am getting slightly irritated that police and others don't know any better, and that Marvin disgusted me at the end. Unfortunately the book isn't memorable or well written and has never been one of my favorites or anything like that. Even though it was an early 1990s novel, Christopher Pike didn't do a good job on it. I also am curious about how Shelly Quade escaped a certain situation and disappointed that we don't learn. I think in many ways this one requires a huge amount of suspension of belief.

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

Book Review of #4 Burning Tigress by Jade Lee

Name of Book: Burning Tigress

Author: Jade Lee

ISBN: 0-8439-5688-7

Publisher: Leisure Historical

Part of a Series: Tigress series

Type of book: romance, interracial relationship Asian male/white female, 1881-1899, China, tigress, adult, romance

Year it was published: 2006

Summary:

The Tigress: the Chinese symbol for female sexuality; the counterpart of the male "dragon"; a priestess of a Taoist sect.

Charlotte Wicks wanted more. Running her parents' Shanghai household and caring for her sick brother was necessary drudgery, but a true 19th century woman deserved something deeper-her body cried out for it! Through a Taoist method, her friend Joanna Crane had reached Heaven on Earth, became a Tigress, found true bliss. Why should Charlotte be denied the same? She'd seen the scrolls. All she needed was guidance.

Her mother would call her wanton. Wicked. She would label Charlotte's curiosity evil, and invoke divine judgment. Certainly the teacher Charlotte desired was fearsome. Glimpses of his body inspired awe: flutters in the stomach and tingling in her core. And with the dark command she saw in his eyes, this door that they opened might never be closed. The man had a reputation among the females of the city as a ruthless seducer...but also as a bringer of great pleasure. There was only one choice to make.

Characters:

The characters are developed but in my opinion the male character seems kind of a copy from Jade Lee's other male characters. The heroine, Charlotte Wicks, is a strong woman who seems to be extremely modern. The author tries to include some humor, but unfortunately it was not as humorous as I wished. I would have liked to know what was wrong with Charlotte's brother or perhaps more glimpses of Charlotte's family life. I also wished to have understood a little more about Ken Jin's brothers.

Theme:

Carve your own path instead of following the one chosen for you.

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from Charlotte's and Ken Jin's points of views. Although it is seen as a stand-alone novel, I think to further the enjoyment, one does need to read the prequels and the sequel to kind of understand what will be going on, because the author, for the most part, won't spell out how Joanna ends up as a Tigress or how the scrolls came into her possession. (I have not read Desperate and Cornered Tigress yet.)

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:

When comparing this book to other Tigress series, this isn't very good. It's entertaining and tries to be charming and witty, but its not. Also, its a little too similar to White Tigress. (Both Charlotte and Lydia get to be serviced by dragons, and there is also a prostitute element involved, and both Wen Ken Jin and Cheng Ru Shan have families that burden them.) Also, as I mentioned in Hungry Tigress Review, there is a slight discrepancy because its hinted in Hungry Tigress that Joanna became pregnant, yet in this book such belief is shattered. I also would have liked to know the name of the ailment that Charlotte's brother suffers from. I've also enjoyed learning different points and whatnot of what Ken Jin knows.

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, January 9, 2012

Book Review of Slumber Party by Christopher Pike

Name of Book: Slumber Party

Author: Christopher Pike

ISBN: 0-590-43014-9

Publisher: Point Scholastic

Type of book: horror, suspense, murder, 1985, competition, friendship

Year it was published: 1985

Summary:

Lara thought the ski trip should be a blast. The old gang was getting together again for the first time in years. What could be better than six single girls out for sun and ski and apres ski- plus a huge house and a warm fire? Even with the memory of what had happened the last time, it looked like the perfect weekend. Until things started to go wrong...

It wasn't much at first-a snowman that melted when it shouldn't have, a weird phone call. But then somebody went out for "one last run" and didn't come back. And the storm they heard about on hte radio was getting worse. Lara thought everyone was up there for a good time. But she was beginning to realize that someone was up there for murder.

Characters:

I think there is a lot of information to digest about the characters, and for me personally there's also the cheesiness factor. (Really, true love right away?) The characters are familiar; the tough girl, the girl with no past, the heroine, the wannabees, etc. the two guys in the book barely played any role, although Percy's friend would have been interesting to figure out.

Theme:

Things are not what they seem.

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from Lara's point of view, and it really resembles The Weekend in a lot of aspects. If you are keen on reading either this or the weekend, do yourself a favor and put off reading the other for a long time. Everything else is simplistic and it required no complications.

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 was Pike's first book and it really shows. The plot is very similar to The Weekend, that of teenagers going on a vacation and instead of fun they almost get murdered but not quite. This, however, was more enjoyable than The Weekend was. For one thing the plot is a lot tighter, there aren't pointless tangents as in The Weekend, and it was a lot shorter than The Weekend. If you want to compare Pike's first few books with his best ones, then by all means it's an interesting comparison. But this book doesn't have the supernatural elements and instead it works as a mystery.

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

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Book Review of #7 The Haunted Burial Ground by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: The Haunted Burial Ground

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-56404-8

Publisher: Bantam skylark

Part of a Series: Sweet Valley Twins and Friends

Type of book: Sweet Valley Twins, super chillers, Native Americans, supernatural, mystery, horror, 1985

Year it was published: 1994

Summary:

The Unicorn Club is throwing the best Halloween party Sweet Valley Middle School has ever seen! Lila Fowler's dad has lent the girls a run-down shack in the woods-a perfectly spooky place for the party.

But as the Unicorns are fixing the shack, strange and scary things happen: Ellen Riteman discovers a human skull, Jessica Wakefield gets lost in a cave full of bats, and a mysterious girl appears out of nowhere to relay ghostly warnings.

Rumors are flying that the shack was built over an ancient Native Ameriacn burial ground. Could the shack really be haunted? Or are the Unicorns the victims of a terrifying Halloween trick?

Characters:

The characters are the typical Sweet Valley Twins ladies: Elizabeth and Jessica. The Unicorns also make an appearance and I cannot vouch for the accuracy, whether or not they are portrayed as the way the author wrote them.

Theme:

Respect Native American beliefs.

Plot:

This was written in third person narrative from Jessica's and Elizabeth's point of view and I think its a stand alone novel, that is reading others is not required and isn't necessary.

Author Information:

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

Opinion:

The only thing I liked in this book is the sensitivity, I hoped, that were shown to Native American peoples. Other than that, the book struck me as silly and predictable. The mystery isn't completely solved though, because I wanted to know about the walking skeletons and whatnot.

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.)

Planned Books

Books I'm reading:

Mansfield Park- Jane Austen 18/372
Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte 15/308
Evelina-Fanny Burney 16/406
Brothers- Da Chen 11/419
Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade-Barthe DeClements 130/137
Les Liaisons Dangereuses- Choderlos DeLaclos 27/396
The Count of Monte Cristo- Alexandre Dumas 161/531
The Hunchback of Notre Dame- Victor Hugo 32/501
Master of Murder-Christopher Pike 71/198
Monster-Christopher Pike 48/229
The Tale of Genji-Murasaki Shikibu 657/1090

Series

House of Earth Trilogy-Pearl Buck
2. Sons 28/313
The Story of the stone-Xueqin Cao
3. The Warning Voice 167/613
Lydia Trilogy-Kate Furnivall
3. The Girl from Junchow 46/488
First Native American Series-W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear
2. People of the Fire 47/467
Storyteller Trilogy-Sue Harrison
1. Song of the River 48/589
Tigress Quartet- Jade Lee
4. Tempted Tigress 35/346
Samurai Duology- Takashi Matsuoka
2. Autumn Bridge 80/433
Harts of Texas Trilogy-Kathleen O'Reilly
2. Just Let go... 47/218
Sweet Valley Twins and Friends Super Chillers- Francine Pascal
7. The Haunted Burial Ground 173/182
Wilder, Fortune and Stone Trilogy-Cara Summers
2. Tailspin 43/216
Little House Series-Laura Ingalls Wilder
7. Little Town on the Prairie 19/307
Milly Duology- Lisa Yee
2. Stanford Wong flunks big time 107/296

Future Books:

Emma-Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey-Jane Austen
Persuasion-Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice-Jane Austen
The Monk-Matthew Lewis
Gone with the wind-Margaret Mitchell
Bury Me Deep-Christopher Pike
Fall Into Darkness-Christopher Pike
The Eternal Enemy-Christopher Pike
The Italian-Ann Radcliffe

House of Earth-Pearl Buck
3. A House Divided
The Story of the Stone-Xueqin Cao
4. The Debt of Tears
5. The Dreamer Wakes
First Native American Quartet-W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear.
3. People of the Earth
4. People of the River
The Storyteller Trilogy-Sue Harrison
2. Cry of the Wind
3. Call down the stars
Modern Tigress-Jade Lee
1. The Tao of Sex
2. Getting Physical
As Long as both shall live-Lurlene McDaniel
1. 'Till Death do us apart
2. For better for worse forever
Harts of Texas Trilogy-Kathleen O'Reilly
3. Just give in...
Sweet Valley Twins and Friends super chillers-Francine Pascal
8. The secret of the magic pen
9. Evil Elizabeth
Wilder, Fortune and Stone Trilogy-Cara Summers.
3. Sexy Silent Nights
Little House on the Prairie Series-Laura Ingalls Wilder
8. These Happy Golden Years
9. The First Four Years

Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review of Weekend by Christopher Pike

Name of Book: Weekend

Author: Christopher Pike

ISBN:0-590-44256-2

Publisher: Scholastic

Type of book: who did it? Mystery, supernatural, illness, betrayal 1986, young adult

Year it was published: 1986

Summary:

 The weekend in Mexico sounded like a dream vacation. Four guys, five girls- and a gorgeous oceanside mansion all to themselves. It should have been perfect.

Except nothing was going the way they'd planned. There was the girl upstairs who was fighting for her life. The phone lines that went dead. And the explosion in the garage that could have killed them all.

But not even that prepared them for what happened next. Because while they were getting some sun, someone else was getting revenge- and the terror wouldn't stop until the weekend was over.

Characters:

I had a hard time relating and caring about the characters in the book. I honestly don't know why. They seemed kind of predictable and a lot was tell and not show.

Theme:

You never know who's your friend.

Plot:

This was in third person narrative from Shani's and Park's points of views. The only thing that I liked was the ending with all the tension. It took way too long to build up though.

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:

Even though I loved Pike, this has to be a clunker for me. I felt that he presented too much information and much too soon. I couldn't care about any characters unfortunately and in someways I somehow found the story a tad bit boring. What exactly was the point of introducing the supernatural elements in the story? A foreshadow as to what would happen? And somehow, a girl owning a pet raven is kind of creepy. In this book, I suspect that Pike is beginning to stretch out his wings and to settle in. Read this book if you want to do a comparsion between late 80s and early 90s and his first two books. If you are looking for a non supernatural Who did it mystery, try Fall of Darkness or his Friends Trilogy.

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.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Review of #1 Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee

Name of Book: Millicent Min, Girl Genius

Author: Lisa Yee

ISBN: 0-439-42520-4

Publisher: Scholastic

Part of a Series: Milly Trilly; Stanford Wong flunks big time, So totally Emily Ebers

Type of book: young adult, genius, changing, friendship, 2000s

Year it was published: 2004

Summary:

Millicent Min is having a bad summer. Her fellow high school students hate her for setting the curve. Her fellow eleven-year-olds hate her for going to high school. Her grandmother Maddie is moving away. And in an effort to give Millicent a more "normal" childhood, her mom has not only signed her up for volleyball, she's also arranged for her to tutor Stanford Wong-jock, jerk and poster boy for Chinese geekdom.

But when Millicent meets Emily, things start to look up. Emily doesn't know Millicent's IQ score. She actually thinks Millicent is cool. And if Millicent can hide her awards, ignore her grandmother's advice, blackmail Stanford into silence, learn to serve a volleyball over the net, stop her parents from embarrassing her forever, and keep all her lies straight, she just might make her first friend.

What's it going to take?

Sheer genius.

Characters:

In someways, I can relate to Millicent's character, except I never had an "Emily" in my life. Millicent is the off the charts brainy and intelligent girl that has never had a friend before and seems to be extremely clueless when it comes to relating to people. She also seems to dislike her parents' showy attentions to one another and the only person she is close to is her grandmother Maddie. In someways, she's a bit stereotypical of an Asian American character, except the fact this book is focused on friendship rather than love thus she doesn't end up with an American male. The other two characters, Standford and Emily, get their own books. I do wish for more Millicent Min and Stanford Wong battles.

Theme:

Very often, the things that we hate in beginning may turn out the best things in life.

Plot:

I liked watching Millicent change from being an anti-social genius to having two good friends in Stanford and Emily. This represented how people often change one another and that Millicent didn't stay the same. This is written as a diary form and takes place in one summer from June until September.

Author Information:

Lisa Yee won the 2004-Sid Fleischman Humor Award fro Millicent Min, Girl Genius, which was also selected for the TRA/CBC Children's Choice List and nominated for multiple state prizes. Her second novel, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, was named an ALA Notable Book. So Totally Emily Ebers completes the trilogy, which, as Lisa likes to point out, "can be read in any order, any day of the week, and at any time, except when you're sleeping."

Lisa writes her novels, stories and grocery lists at her home in South Pasadena, California.

Vist her Web site at www.lisayee.com

Opinion:

The book is highly enjoyable, although in some cases tough to read and to understand Millicent's humor in some parts. I could relate to Millicent in someways, although I never had a friend that was like "Emily", unfortunately. Still it might appeal to geniuses and whatnot.

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 #6 The Curse of the golden heart by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: The Curse of the golden heart

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-56403-x

Publisher: Bantam skylark

Part of a Series: Sweet Valley twins and friends super chillers.

Type of book: horror, Sweet Valley, young adult, 1985

Year it was published: 1994

Summary:

It's spring break, and identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are taking a scuba diving course at Pirates Cove. On their first dive the twins discover the remains of an old pirate ship, and half a golden heart buried in the sand.

Soon the twins receive spooky chain letters demanding that what was taken from the sea be returned. Jessica continues the chain; Elizabeth doesn't. Suddenly terrible things start happening to Elizabeth. She finds threatening notes in her room and a live scorpion in her lunch bag.

Can Elizabeth discover the secret of the golden heart before the curse destroys her?

Characters:

This one tries to get more involved by including the twins' brother and few others, but other than that it rings very hollow and somehow trite and unbelievable.

Theme:

What am I supposed to learn from this book? True love conquers all?

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from Elizabeth's and Jessica's point of view. Somehow to me it's a boring book and all.

Author Information:

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

Opinion:

This book had a nice idea but very poor execution and it sounded very similar to the Curse of hte Ruby Necklace. Also, the ending really kills me and doesn't make sense. Out of all the Super Chillers, this is my least favorite and was written terribly. Okay, since Steven thinks that there are logical explanations for all the phenomena, please share them with the readers so we could understand. The cop outs and suspension of belief is too unbelievable. It also seemed to be like some kind of romance novel set up but as I mentioned before, very poor execution and a terrible ending that didn't make any sense.

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.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Review of #5 The Curse of the ruby necklace by Francine Pascal

Name of Book: The curse of the ruby necklace

Author: Francine Pascal

ISBN: 0-553-15949-6

Publisher: Bantam Skylark

Part of a Series: Sweet Valley twins and friends super chillers

Type of book: horror, mystery, death, Sweet Valley, supernatural, young adult, 1985

Year it was published: 1993

Summary:

Identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are thrilled when they land small parts in a movie being made in Sweet Valley. The film is based on the true story of the mysterious death of twelve-year-old Lillian Keller, and it's being filmed at the creepy old Keller mansion.

One stormy afternoon, Jessica finds an old necklace on the beach near the mansion. She puts it on, and that very night she has a terrible nightmare about a girl falling to her death. She becomes convinced that someone-or something-is trying to tell her that the mystery of Lillian Keller's death is far from solved. But can a necklace really hold the secret to a murder?

Characters:

The characters, as in previous super chillers, don't really change and what you see is what you get basically. I think to an extent the characters are predictable and all. Elizabeth stays an angel, and Jessica is shallow and tends to be superficial.

Theme:

I was supposed to learn something from it? What was I supposed to learn? That things aren't what they appear to be? That justice comes to all?

Plot:

Third person narrative from Jessica and Elizabeth's points of view. Previous super chillers not expected, as this can be a sort of a standalone novel.

Author Information:

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

Opinion:

Despite the slight suspension of belief that's required towards the end, this is a pretty good book, better than the Carnival Ghost and christmas ghost. I remember when I first got it in 1998, the cover was what attracted to me the most to it. (I admit to being a fan of the cover.) I don't like that the twins consistently stay the same age throughout the book, which is probably one of my biggest pet peeves. (Honestly, how many spring breaks and holidays will it take you to become a year older?) Also this can be an interesting guide, of sorts, on how movies are made.

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, January 3, 2012

Book Review of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Name of Book: Sense and Sensibility

Author: Jane Austen

ISBN: 0-553-21334-2

Publisher: Bantam classic

Type of book: England, classic, Regency, marriage novel, sisters, 1790s? 1800s?

Year it was published: 1811

Summary:

In 1811, Jane Austen's first published work, Sense and Sensibility, marked the debut of England's premier novelist of manners. Believing that "3 or 4 families in a country village is the very thing to work upon," she created a brilliant tragicomedy of flirtation and folly. Romantic walks through lush Devonshire and genteel dinner parties at a stately manor draw two pretty sisters into the schemes and manipulations of landed gentry determined to marry wisely and well. Neither sense nor sensibility can gurantee happiness for either- as romantic Marianne falls prey to a dangerous rascal, and reasonable Elinor loses her heart to a gentleman already engaged. Wonderfully entertaining yet subtle and probing in its characterizations, Sense and Senbility richly displays the supreme artistry of a great English novelist.

Characters:

The characters aren't on the flat side, but it would have been a good read if there would have been more explanatory notes about the sisters and other characters. I had a very hard time understanding them. Why exactly are Lucy and her sister considered bad?

Theme:

Give something undesirable a chance, you'll never know how it will end up.

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative, from Marianne and Elinor's point of view, although mostly its from Elinor's point of view. Its important to keep characters in mind and refer to the first few chapters to know who's who.

Author Information:

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

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

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

Opinion:

This was a difficult book to read and, to an extent, understand. Jane Austen is a talented writer, but I had a difficult understanding the humor, (to be honest I didn't understand any humor.) The life in Regency England is interesting, at least the way Jane Austen writes. There is an unexpected twist to the stories, and in honesty I wish to have been a witness as to how Elinor and Marianne got to know their potential husbands. I felt pretty bad for Marianne, that she ended up with someone else that she had no desire for. I think this is one of the books that needs to be read several times in order for it to be liked and understood.

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 #1 People of the Wolf By W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear

Name of Book: People of the Wolf

Author: W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear

ISBN: 0-812-50737-1

Publisher: Tor Historical

Part of a Series: The First Native Americans

Type of book: prehistorical, shamanic, Dream, savior complex, -13,000 years ago, adult

Year it was published: 1990

Summary:

In the dawn of history, a valiant people forged a pathway from an old world into a new one. Led by a dreamer who followed the spirit of the wolf, a handful of courageous men and women dared to cross the frozen wastes to find an untouched, unspoiled continent. This is the magnificent saga of the vision-filled man who led his people to an awesome destiny, and the courageous woman whose love and bravery drove them on in pursuit of that dream.

A sweeping epic of prehistory, People of the Wolf brings the true story of the ancestors of today's Native American peoples to life in an unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion.

Characters:

One of my pet peeves when reading books are the evil characters who are evil just because. That is, characters who are flat and are not multifaceted. Unfortunately this is what we get with this book and Crow Caller and Raven Hunter. For me personally, the protagonists aren't likable and the story was way too simple and predictable. Also, Dancing Fox and her mate should have met much more sooner than the last few chapters of the book. (good brother vs evil brother, who wins I wonder?) I think I desired to know more about the lives of the people back then instead of the whole mystical stuff the authors focused on. Also this book is something akin to savior literature, or should I say it kept reminding me of christianity. I think this book is more styled to be a movie than something to read.

Theme:

Everything is a spiral.

Plot:

This books is written in third person narrative from omniscient point of view; that is from every single character you'll see what they think and feel throughout the book. I think the transition is smooth though, the problem might be remembering the names and whatnot though.

Author Information:

(from Wiki)
W. Michael Gear:
W. Michael Gear is an American writer, and archaeologist [1] born in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 20, 1955. He is perhaps best known for his First North Americans series, co-authored with wife Kathleen O'Neal Gear.

Kathleen O'Neal Gear:
Kathleen O'Neal Gear (born 1954) is an American writer. Gear is a former state historian and archaeologist for Wyoming, Kansas, and Nebraska for the U.S. Department of the Interior. She has twice received the federal government's Special Advancement Award for "outstanding management" of our nation's cultural heritage. She is perhaps best known for her First North Americans series, co-authored with husband W. Michael Gear.[1]


Opinion:

There are a number of things I wasn't happy with when it came to the book; one was the map wasn't understandable because I wanted to see where they came from to where they came to. I was not happy with the whole messiah storyline, with the characters themselves because as I mentioned before, to me they were flat and strangely unlikable. I couldn't care enough whether or not they lived or died. It is interesting that during the time though there was creation of detachable darts, and that the people haven't discovered agriculture. Also what bothered me the most was the monkish lifestyle that Heron thrust upon Wolf Dreamer. I also wanted to know exactly how many people crossed to the other side; hundreds? thousands? Because I kept thinking that it must be somewhere underneath a hundred.

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

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January 2012

Mansfield Park-Jane Austen
SR: January 2nd, 2012
FR: N/A
Sense and Sensibility-Jane Austen
SR: December 1st, 2011
FR: January 2nd, 2012
Wuthering Heights-Emily Bronte
SR: January 5th, 2012
FR: N/A
Evelina-Fanny Burney
SR: January 5th, 2012
FR: N/A
Brothers-Da Chen
SR: January 1st, 2012
FR: N/A
Nothing's fair in fifth grade-Barthe DeClements
SR: January 1st, 2012
FR: January 8th, 2012
Les Liaisons Dangereuses-Choderlos DeLaclos
SR: January 5th, 2012
FR: N/A
The Count of Monte Cristo-Alexandre Dumas
SR: November 1st, 2011
FR: N/A
The Hunchback of Notre Dame-Victor Hugo
SR: January 1st, 2012
FR: N/A
Master of Murder-Christopher Pike
SR: January 1st, 2012
FR: January 10th, 2012
Monster-Christopher Pike
SR: January 1st, 2012
FR: January 11th, 2012
Slumber Party-Christopher Pike
SR: January 1st, 2012
FR: January 7th, 2012
Weekend-Christopher Pike
SR: January 1st, 2012
FR: January 6th, 2012
The Tale of Genji-Murasaki Shikibu
SR: May 17th, 2011
FR: January 27th, 2012

House of Earth-Pearl Buck
2. Sons
SR: December 25th, 2011
FR: N/A
Las Vegas Trilogy-Jillian Burns
3. Night Maneuvers
SR: December 14th, 2011
FR: January 5th, 2012
The Story of the Stone-Xueqin Cao
3. The Warning Voice
SR: November 1st, 2011
FR: N/A
Lydia Trilogy-Kate Furnivall
3. The Girl from Junchow
SR: October 1st, 2011
FR: N/A
People Series Quartet-W Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear
1. People of the Wolf
SR: December 1st, 2011
FR: January 3rd, 2012
2. People of the fire
SR: January 3rd, 2012
FR: N/A
The Ivory Carver Trilogy-Sue Harrison
3. Brother Wind
SR: December 3rd, 2011
FR: January 5th, 2012
Storyteller Trilogy-Sue Harrison
1. Song of the River

SR: January 5th, 2012
FR: N/A
Tigress Sextet-Jade Lee
3. Burning Tigress
SR: December 22nd, 2011
FR: January 3rd, 2012
4. Tempted Tigress
SR: January 3rd, 2012
FR: N/A
Samurai Duology-Takashi Matsuoka
2. Autumn Bridge
SR: December 18th, 2011
FR: January 18th, 2012
Harts of Texas-Kathleen O'Reilly
2. Just Let Go
SR: December 12th, 2011
FR: January 15th, 2012
3. Just Give In
SR: January 15th, 2012
FR: January 19th, 2012
Sweet Valley Twins and Friends-Francine Pascal
5. The curse of the ruby necklace
SR: December 19th, 2011
FR: January 3rd, 2012
6. The curse of the golden heart
SR: January 3rd, 2012
FR: January 5th, 2012
7. The haunted burial ground
SR: January 5th, 2012
FR: January 8th, 2012
8. The secret of the magic pen
SR: January 8th, 2012
FR: January 14th, 2012
9. Evil Elizabeth
SR: January 14th, 2012
FR: January 19th, 2012
Wilder, Fortune and Stone Trilogy-Cara Summers
2. Tailspin
SR: December 12th, 2011
FR: January 15th, 2012
3. Sexy Silent Nights
SR: January 15th, 2012
FR: January 24th, 2012
Little House on the prairie- Laura Ingalls Wilder
7. Little Town on the prairie
SR: December 24th, 2011
FR: January 28th, 2012
8. These Happy Golden Years
SR: January 28th, 2012
FR: N/A
Millicent Min Duology- Lisa Yee
1. Millicent Min, Girl Genius
SR: January 1st, 2012
FR: January 4th, 2012
2. Stanford Wong flunks big-time
SR: January 4th, 2012
FR: January 19th, 2012
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