Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 Challenge List

So for the 2010 Challenge List I completed 7 of the 18 books I wanted to read. Here it is for everyone to keep track.

  2011 Challenge List
1 White Fang  By: Jack London
2 Hoodwinked
3 Finding Alaska
4 Notes From a Small Island  By: Bill Bryson
5 The Crimson Petal and The White By:  Michel Faber
6 The Life of Pi
7 The Red Tent
8 A Piece of Cake
9 Little Women
10 The Way of Zen
11 One for the Money
12 Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs
13 Water for Elphants
14 Humbolts Gift
15 Atonement
16 Oh No We're Gonna Die
17 The Te of Piglet

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

By: Stieg Larson 5/5

This was by far the most intriguing of all of the Trilogy of books. I believe this one was the most intertwined mess of characters. You never knew who had the upper hand. As the second books ends with not knowing what happens with our heroine, Lisbeth Salander, this one takes you through the continuation of the story. 

The story has those same characters from books one, such as Erika Berger and Mikael Blomkvist and their crew at Millenium, though adding fantastic characters such as Zalachenko, Monica, Edklinth, and over 20 others. Your hands feel bound during this book, as Lisbeth can't do anything to help her out, and you watch the next move of the characters to see how they are willing to act and what they are going to do next. 

This book unlike "The Girl Who Played With Fire" wasn't as disturbing in that sense. It follows much of the current history of Sweden, and places in Stockholm, but it is not nearly as disturbing. It is however a political discussion, which I can not comment on, having not ever paid attention to Swedish politics. 

The ending, well you feel good about the ending, with of course one last and surprising twist and turn! I feel highly satisfied after having read this book. I also feel like I would have read this book much faster if I had had the time to read it. 


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire

By: Stieg Larson 5/5

So the drama continues, we keep delving deeper into the lives of Mikael and Lisbeth as 2 gruesome murders happen, and one that most don’t mind. Lisbeth seems a lot more mortal in this book, and Mikael becomes a bigger hero. This book seems to be even more disturbing than the first one, and I believe the 3rd book will even out do this one. It does leave you hanging and wanting to know more, which is why my next stop after work is Title Wave books to buy the book second hand and hardcover because I want to read it so badly.

I love how capturing and enthralling these books seem to be, and enjoy reading what happens next in ever part of the books. The characters are so well formed, sometimes there are so many well formed characters that you assume they would have a bigger role in the whole plot of the story. Way to go Larson! Can’t wait to crack open the next one!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

By: Stieg Larson 5/5

What a surprisingly great book to read. A historical mystery located in Sweden where you meet Lisbeth Salander and Kalle Blomkovist. A twisting turning plot of the Vander family where you explore a family tree that is interconnected and full of mysteries. Of course the two main character's paths meet, together they solve the mystery of Harriet Vander.

Lisbeth is a little tiny weird girl, that while taciturn she can say a lot with her facial expressions, Blomkovist is a ex-writer for the financial expose magazine Millennium, until he find a proposition that he can not turn down. So he ends up in Hedeby solving a 36 year old mystery.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sea of Poppies

By: Amitav Gosh 4/5

A little confused. This is how I feel after finishing the last sentence of the last page of the last chapter. Did I miss something? Though like I always, I realized after I completed the book that there was a glossary for all the words that I didn’t know.

Sea of Poppies is a lot of little stories and backgrounds of characters that come together in the very end, on the mystical journey on the Ibis a grand ship sailing from Calcutta, India to the Muarice Islands.  This book takes you on a journey of a lexicon of words I had never heard of before. Fantastic. It also bears to mention that this is the first of a trilogy so therefore that might have a reason for the ending the way that it did.

This is the story of Paulette, une petite coquette fille; Deeti the housewife that finds love with a coolie; of Jodu the boy that matures and finds love; Neel the educated Zemindar who has been over thrown by the powerful Benjamin Burnham. This book takes place around 1830s, when India was still under British rule, where Opium was the daily life of everyone and the only source of living. Though with China closing off the boarders of opium trade, the new import from India were slaves.

The Ibis turned into a ship for indentured servants. This is where the characters find themselves intertwined. It is certainly the story of loss, in each and every one of the Characters, Jodu, Paulette, Kalua, Neel, Zachary, Mr. Crowle; and everyone else on that ship. It shows how much a person can stand, how much can one endure and how life, even limited, can find a sliver of happiness.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books which the next one comes out at the end of 2010!

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The things I don’t understand are Baboo, he is a hijrah, what is his ultimate goal in life? And what is the thing that I missed about the eyes?!?!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Shanghai Girls

By: Lisa See 5/5

Lisa See of course does it again! Loved loved loved the book that kept me engulfed in the story of Pearl and May the two sisters that find their way to America.


Lisa See has to have a deep understanding of women’s bonds, and especially of sister bonds. She did her research and worked hard to portray the trials and the difficulties experienced by Chinese during those times. Every moment of the book had been in that place and that time, and there was never a dull moment.

The descriptions of China and the process to that brought them to America was so heartfelt and endearing, that I could almost feel physical pain from reading all those descriptions.

As an immigrant myself, I can understand the torment of keeping traditions and wanting a new life. I was more like Joy, than Pearl or May, as I came to America young, but I can see the struggles that my mother faced trying to deal with a new way of thinking and holding on those things that were most dear. Another similarity is the communism factor, we ran away from it too, to a country of opportunity, the difference was that our faces didn’t betray us right away, the racism wasn’t as hard as the Louie family had. That is not to say that we didn’t experience racism.

Love the book and I am glad that Lisa See wrote it, as Peony in Love wasn’t nearly as good as Shanghai Girls or Snowflower and the Secret Fan! 


By: Bram Stoker 4/5

This book has had a daunting pressure on me to read as it is one: considered one of the classic must reads and two: as a Romanian you must read what it portrays us as.
The last pressure is probably the greatest as I am a former descendant of Vlad Tepes aka the former ruler of Romania, aka Dracula. So before going into my dialogue on Dracula the book a little Romanian history.

Vlad Tepes as a fierce ruler and was also known as Vlad the Impaler for his very industrious techniques in impaling the know Turkies people when invading his land. He ruled from 1456 to about 1462 at the age of only 25! He was tough and as soon as he got his hands on a TURK he killed him, took his body and put a stake through their bodies and put the stakes on the street, where bodies would line the streets. This technique didn’t only apply this to the invaders, but to his own people that stole, raped, lied and were treacherous. During his rule, a money bag could be found on the street and no one would pick it up for fear of being considered a stealer. This is how he earned his name … Dracula. The name derives from dracu which in Romanian means devil, and the –ula at the end is assigning the devil name to him.

This bring us to Brahm Stoker many many many years later when he wrote Dracula in 1897, almost 435 years later than Vlad Tepes. Upon hearing of the devilish and romanticized Transylvania (which coincidently is where I am from), he wanted to set a book on it. So he wrote Dracula.  Stoker did well in researching this book and the beliefs of the time, especially because rumor still followed in the late 1800s. So upon reading the book I was pleasantly surprised to hear the names of the towns from my childhood, and the  descriptions of the land which were very vivid and accurate even though Stoker never went to Transylvania himself. The descriptions of the Carpatheians  (Carpati) Mountains were wonderful. This book must have sent chills to people reading it at the time. It is filled with awe and with the darks beliefs of devils and religion.  So my expectation in reading the book was that I would be terrified to the core!

Not so… It was amusing, it was a nice story but did it terrify NO! That might be in part one, I was listening to it on audio, and two, that in today’s society what we fear is very different than based on the religious superstitious of those days.  The very beginning was great where Jonathon Hawker’s story, though I think it dwindled because there was a lot that just didn’t captivate me, and that again might be in part due to audio. The story does pick up again and you become engrossed in the ploy of the book, and Dracula’s play.

Things that I found interesting is that they called Dracula a count, and they didn’t say the name Dracula till the very end.





I don’t know if Vlad Tepes is buried in a grave that is labeled Dracula, but it might have been possible that the Romanian Orthodox would have buried him in a Christian way and named the grave as that.  According to Wikipedia “He was taken back to Wallachia and buried. In the early 1900's Vlad was unburied for research. The researchers found nothing. Remains were found around his grave, and was thought to be the prince's remains. He was reburied and then left. When another dig took place years later, his grave was found destroyed and no remains were found.[17] The other theory is that Vlad is buried at Snagov, an island monastery located near Bucharest”. From childhood I feel like I remember visiting both grave site possibilities with the first one being very well gated. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Basic Black

By: Cathie Black 4/5

Not so much a how to book, but a self reflection on the subtleties of the work place. Cathie Black is President and CEO of Hearst Magazines, which include Oprah, Cosmo, Cosmo Girl, and a ton of others. She talks about her work life throughout the years… from graduating college and expectations in the work place to her life now and how she got there.

One of my favorite stories includes her roommate and the difference of being told what to do specifically and knowing yourself what is expected of you. While your job and your boss can explain things, there is a point that you should know as a grown adult and the position you have what is expected of the job without being micro managed. (This particular part came at a time in my work place where I felt like I had to micro manage). 

I also think that I have learned a lot, especially the importance of having a mentor in your workplace that can help guide you. At the same time, I do believe that there are many things that I already do in my work life, this being common sense to me, but not a lot of other people. This of course brings me to my next point, are there different expectations in the workplace now with my generation such as; graduating college and expecting at 80K plus job right out of school? I think times have changed, especially with technology and the easy of working from home. I also think that we have moved from a society of social work interaction to barely speaking on the phone. The ease of email and texting has moved us to place where you don’t have to ever see anyone; meetings are done via teleconference and even beyond that gotomeeting where you don’t even have to speak with anyone, just type in your screen and see what they are doing 10,000 miles away with the same screen.

What is the same, the expectations of respect, being at work on time, and proper channels of communication. Cathie Black puts all this into prospective, speaking of taking risks and challenging yourself while understanding your self worth. I think every woman in the work place that strives to achieve higher standards should be reading this book.

Way to go Cathie!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name

By: Heather Lende 4/5

Of course I liked this book. This a book to my heart, like most non-fiction books that I like. The books is great, like many authors that I have read that speak to small town America. The difference is that this is small town America in Alaska. Alaska on its own is a strange place and to speak to small town Alaska is even better.

Heather Lende speaks about her life in Haines, Alaska. She speaks in a clear easy read style that comes from her work in the newspaper world. Haines is Alaska through and through with crazy characters where tree huggers and gun slingers cohabitate together peaceably. Lende shows us through the obituaries she writes, lives of people who will never be forgotten and her daily life. The worst part was the last chapter where she talks about dealing with death. The theme of the book is about beginnings and endings.

I think you only “get” this books if you live in Alaska, but can be appreciated by others as well. Makes me want to visit Haines.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jane Eyre

By: Charlotte Bronte           

I read this right after I finished her sister’s epic tragedy novel, Wuthering Heights, which happens to be one of my all time favorite books. I can not believe I didn’t read this easy going love novel.  I of course loved the story of the sad poor girl that achieves greatness.  Jane Eyre is your likely heroine, is in all purposes the good girl that you cheer for!

Like typical of stories from that time, there is a lot of death and sadness and a series of unlikely events. It would have been a great book to read when I was younger in the tweens! Fantastic!

Wuthering Heights

By: Emily Bronte 5/5

About the 10th time I have read this book and I still like it, even though it has changed for me. I still love Heathcliff and his crazy self, loving Catherine. I love that this book still astounds me, of course when I was younger I was so taken by the love that Heathcliff had that I was willing to forgive his meanness, now I feel more guilty for liking him as a character and feeling his pains.

It was great to read the book with people and learn about the background of the Bronte sisters and their horribly tragic lives. No wonder their books were tragic. I also think the society then saw such tragedy as part of their lives and willing to live with those kinds of issues.

I still recommend this book as it inspires great discussions.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Reading Lolita in Tehran

By Azar Nafisi 

Wow what a terrific book! I don’t even know where to begin on the many facets that this book has .

First, as the book takes you through the four sections of Nabokov, Fitzgerald, James and of course Jane Austen… you can not take your own trip back to the memories you had when reading each of those books that Nafisi discusses. It brings you back to the emotions and the feelings you had while reading those books. If you hadn’t studied these books, it also takes you back to rethink those books and see if you can see them in a different light. This also makes me think that maybe I should re-read Lolita, or The Great Gatsby or even some Henry James books that I have never opened.

The books also takes you into the memories of a group of women between the 1970s and today. Unlike, my nice memories of sitting in bed, or hiding in the closet at night to read for fear of staying up to late, these women dealt with the fear of death resulting from the BANNED books they were reading.  After the 1970s, Iran went through much political turmoil with changing from the “un Islamic” shah to the very religious Ayatollahs that changed Iran to the “Republic of Islam”. This book is a biography with many other biographies laced with a population of people that have been beaten and defeated not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well.  During this new regime, women were made to wear the chador and the veil, to show their innocence, to make men not want them, and not be held responsible for their rapes. People were not allowed to drink, listen to music, smile, watch movies, or in any way have a human life. Much of this “de westernization” had to do with readings and books. Most books were either banned and or re-written to fit the Islamic standard.

In a private class, Nafisi takes her life in her hands and decides that her love of books needs continue and be shared.  At any moment her house can be searched, without a warrant, and these women be sent to jail for reading banned book, where their bodies will never be recovered.

This book is lesson in Iran history, in women’s view of the world from the religious and the liberal side, it is an emotional roller coaster as you suffer through their emotional pains and embarrassments they are made to deal with daily.

I highly recommend this read to all that live in today’s world, as better understanding of a population of people in the middle east.  I salute those women who stood up, to show their daughters that someone has to stand up. I bow to Nafisi for her courageous words and tears she must have shed while writing such a personal history of her life and the country she loved!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Moon

By Stephanie Meyer 2/5

Well its fluff, lots of fast reading fluff. I have to start out by saying I picked this one up first and never read Twilight, because I was confused on which one was the first one.

Basically… Girl had been in love with hottest guy in school who happens to be vampire. Girl is accepted by non-human-biting family clan, the Cullens, and her main desire is to turn into a vampire because at 18 years of age she is 100% sure that she wants to spend all of eternity with this guy! Girl is clutsy and gets into trouble a lot, cuts herself at the Cullens and causes family drama, boy dumps girl!

Girl is sick and heartbroken over teenage love, finds comfort in sexy tall guy friend that happens to be a werewolf! He loves her, she is confused, her love comes back and gets mixed up the THE Family of Vampires that want her changed also. Werewolf does not want her changed but she has to or the Volturi (The IT Family) will kill her if she doesn’t become vampire!

All this in like 500 pages! Doesn’t mean I probably won’t read the following books because they are great traveling fast reads!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Slaughterhouse Five

By: Kurt Vonnegut 4.5/5

First Kurt Vonnegut book I have ever read, it won’t be the last. Kurt is a weirdo that is for sure. Not as weird as Palahniuk.

Slaughterhouse Five is supposed to a be a literary masterpiece for antiwar books written in the late 60s. Not having particularly studied it, I might have missed much of the hidden text. Though you can tell from the writing and Vonnegut’s point of  view why this book would be considered an Antiwar book.

The story starts off with the writer describing his need to write a book about Dresdan, a small town in Germany.  As it turns out the book isn’t completely fiction, as the “city was completely destroyed by the controversial Allied aerial bombing towards the end of World War II.” Wikipedia. 

The Bombing of Dresden was a military bombing by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) as part of the allied forces between 13 February and 15 February 1945 in the Second World War. In four raids, 1,300 heavy bombers dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city, the Baroque capital of the German state of Saxony. The resulting firestorm destroyed 39 square kilometres (15 sq mi) of the city centre. (Wikipedia)

The story is followed by a presumably fictional character Billy Pilgrim, and Vonnegut reports over 135,000 people dead. Though actual facts…. In the first few decades after the war, some death toll estimates were as high as 250,000, which are now considered unreasonable.[6] An independent investigation commissioned by the city council in 2010 finaly reported a minimum of 22,700 victims with a maximum total number of fatalities of 25,000. (Wikipedia).

Billy Pilgrim, isn’t your typical hero, but turns out that with much luck he carries on his story, his very colorful story which makes this book very unique. Can it be that Pilgrim has what is now known as PPD!
This book also explores the fine lines of war and the characterization of humanness in time of great pressures. What is a human to do when faced with the gruesomeness of WWII.  I am surprised I was never told to read this in school through a History class, as it was very fascination especially following the battle.

I look forward to reading more of his book! 


Sarah Walters 5/5

WOW! Talk about a surprise! Romantic and sexy in Victorian England, of family secrets and betrayals. Great book.

The story of two girls whose lives were bound to be intertwined in the long run. There is the Lady and the thief who would never have met in normal circumstances but under a suspenseful Victorian novel they do. There is murder, sexy, pornography, books, plots and trickery and more, all of which shock you when it is not expected.

There are so many bends and twists to the novel you never see it coming. You care for one character and then you hate them, you love them and then you betray them like they betrayed you. Your emotions are on a roller coaster when reading this story.

 The story of Maud and Sue, of different love and what can friendship mean. Even the ending is unexpected. I highly recommend this book but it is not for the feint of heart. An uncle that sits in his Briar home that doesn’t understand normal little girls, puts Maud in a very serious position that would be shameful to Ladies of London, the only one who really appreciates Maud is Sue, the little thief from the roads of London that comes to be the maid to Ms. Maud. And so they story unfolds.

Travels in Small Town America

Bill Bryson 4.5/5

Like all Bill Bryson, I really enjoyed this book.  I am not sure of what order Bryson wrote his books though I do know that this book was published in 1987, and much has changed since then, including Bryson’s writing.

I was surprised at the ease of his writing and the social commentary he makes on races, economy and more. In today’s world he would have been considered a racist, though in 1987 it was a different time. People were not afraid of using certain terms with the constant fear of being called or charged of racism. I think his book was an honest look at America during that time. Could it be relative today? Sure.  I was genuinely pleased at the lack of being held back. I also think that he wrote more to the reader, to the avid reader by using some of my favorite words; chagrin, curmudgeon and more. There are many passages in his book that could be reread and reread where you can always laugh!

This book, like all, are stories of his travels, he was younger, faster at judging and had a different perspective on life.  Knowing and having read his previous books this was a treat. It really was a travel through America at the time, has it change? Maybe not!

Rant Finished


Bizarre and weird like many of Palahniuks books. The story of Rant Casey the unbreakable strange boy that hops through time.  Rant Casey starts out having a normal life like any other person and learns of his inability to be hurt by poisons, he becomes a thrill seeker, to be bitten and poisoned and becomes pretty invincible. He ends up in a world where there are day timers and night timers and he falls in love with a girl. They are car chasers like bumper cars with real cars. These night car chasing days are themed and he becomes very good at this.

Sometimes the book is hard to follow, to understand all the different Rant Caseys that hop through time and interact between themselves. The whole idea is that they keep reproducing a better built human the can survive more. The final Rant Casey kills himself in a car chase and that is the climax of the book and ends well…. You will just have to see!

I think I liked this book I think less than I liked for example, Lullaby. I look forward to his other book that came out… Pygmy

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Currently picked up Rant By Chuck Palahniuk lets see how long it takes me to get through it!

Paint It Black

By: Janet Fitch 4/5

I didn't even know that Janet Fitch wrote another book, and was delighted to receive this book from Kat M. as a present. I had loved White Oleander and there are parts of that book that will forever be imprinted in my mind.

Paint It Black was very different. It was about the same length as White Oleander but I thought that book dragged at times. The book is about the death of Micheal and the repercussions that happen after a death, who it hurts and who it affects, the social ladders of family structures as well as hidden secrets.

I had no idea what to expect, but of course Janet Fitch takes you on a path of darkness, and deep cold emotions. The story was about Micheal and the devastation he created through his pretending. He pretended to his mother, and his girl friend. After the death, Josie (GF) and Merideth (Mother) form a insane bond of needing to know the truth. I don't know if the truth comes out in the book in the end and I believe it leaves it as a cliff hanger. Did Micheal really love Josie? What was he looking for?


I don't think I have a full understanding of Micheal and what he was after. Was he the painter, the non sportif, the non driver, the virgin that was a hippie at heart trying to save the world, the true world? Or was he the educated Harvard Boy that played tennis, was a fantastic skier and could speak more languages than a linguistic student? I think he was a fake, a wanna be that took poor Josies real emotions for a ride. I also think that he did care about her, and was trying to leave but felt bad to leave this girl. I don't think he was ever cut out for his life he pretended. Why did he kill himself? He knew it would come out that he was a fake... he was a fake in both worlds and couldn't bring those two worlds together, maybe he had some mental issues and concerns. I don't know if Merideth would have slept with her son... there is no way, but I think there was a love beyond the motherly love, and it was because of Merideth's own fantasies.

I guess thinking about this book more and discussing it with myself makes me realize I might have enjoyed it more than I expected.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Completely Different

So... I don't have people following me... BUT I am totally coping the Julie & Julia idea....KINDA.

I have been cooking for a while, since I was little when my mother forced in the kitchen with her, and I hated every single minute of it.  But now I am 27 and it feels like the only one my age that cooks or learned anything about cooking. My friends still use the box of macaroni and take out food. Once in a while when I have the chance between working out, going to work, walking my dog and taking him to the vet, I like to cook.

My specialties have always been Chocolate Rum Meringue Cake and Pork Tenderloin in wine with potatoes. I also make stuff peppers and more recently becoming an expert in Curry Keema recipe which I fell in love with at Yak and Yeti.

I have always been pretty traditional and cooked mostly Romanian food that my to be husband is actually pretty accepting to, including polenta, saramura, and even more. But recently a dear friend of mine, Amy, who loves food has changed my tasting to many new things which brought me to Yak and Yeti.  Anyways... I have explored more with food and realized that all those times that I hated in the kitchen I have learned one or two things, and I have a mini talent for cooking.

I am going to start the first set of food play... which is very sexy with my dish I cooked tonight. Totally what was in the fridge. I had frozen Sea Bass that was given to me and I make Pan Seared Thyme Sea Bass over a Peppered sauce and Steam Asparagus. Well... the sauce tasted like heaven.

To make the sauce, you take a yellow pepper, orange pepper, 1 onion and you put them in a pan with olive oil, and cook them lightly with some vinegar and sweet wine which makes a great sauce.  You cook them and when you get impatient you cook them some more until you know the peppers are bendy.


Then you put in blender... and blend.. you make sauce.

When you pan sear, apparently the trick is you don't put a lot of olive oil in the pan and you cook it on high heat and fast. When preparing the Bass, you cut it and salt and put the thyme in there, and cook first on the Thyme side and then flip, it gives it better taste after i rubberized the first set of Sea Bass. The Bass should flake and not be hard, thats how you know you cooked it well.

Anyways... plate how you want but the sauce was amazing with the Sea Bass. We drank a white wine  St. Michelle something or other and it was good. Lyndt chocolates for dessert. 

On a sad note, the reason for all the cooking is the husband to be is leaving for a while and I want to him to remember what is home.

Food Blogging copy cat.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Reading Now

So reading has been a little slow to say the least, between a new position and new staff, I have barely had a free moment to think. While I rushed through The Secret Life of Bees, I plan on trying to get into the my new book, "Paint it Black" by Janet Fitch. So far so good, but again I just started it so I am maybe on Chapter 4. I have heard that it is not as good as her previous book, White Oleander, but I am willing to try it. I received this book from a friend a while ago and finally getting the chance to get to it. I hope that I can tell her whether I liked it or not soon. I am however, getting discouraged about the probability of finishing my Challenge List, which I still need to post.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Secret Life of Bees

By: Sue Monk Kidd 4/5

Unfortunately I did not get the chance to read this book like I wanted to read it. I had to put it down a bunch of times due to a new work schedule and being tired all the time.  So while the book was a beautiful story of females and their endurances, I feel like a lot must have escaped me.
I am sure there is a lot to be said about symbolism of bees in the main characters bedroom and then her ending up at the pink house. The characters where well written, and the story line of a child missing her mother is of course heart wrenching.  My favorite character was Rosaleen and her naiveté’s towards the world.

I do recommend this book to others and my apologies for not being able to write more about bees, about the culture and the meaning of them in this book or about the Black Madonna. Good story though. What keeps me for giving it a 5/5 is that sometimes it was slow, and that might have been because of my mood.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Firefly Lane

By: Kristin Hannah 4/5

   The story of friendship. I had picked out this book to read with my best friend. I wanted us to reconnect over a good novel long distance through email. Unfortunately we have not connected as we both have been super busy.

       This is a 479 page book, and I managed to not be able to put it down. This fiction of two girlfriends that in the 1970s are in different social worlds come together in unlikely circumstances. They of course swear to be BFFs forever and ever, and manage to follow each other all the way through college. Like many BFF novels, you know what the issues are going to be between girlfriends, and those are of course boys! The cool sexy one, gets what she wants, unloved and left by her mother Tully is always the center of attention and the life of the party. Kate, coming from a loving supporting catholic family, finds her time during college dating many guys but her main love was books. Then real life starts and one finds true love and they go on through the trails of friendship and life. The ending is surprising and the reader should be prepared for tissues.

     This is a fast read, that many women and girls could identify with a character. Whether you are Ms. Popularity, Tully, or Wallflower Kate, or a grandmother, or a struggling teen, there is a heroine personality in all of the female characters. I though I first I identified with Tully, as her past and her emotions, though I find myself identifying with Kate and her struggles with her friendship of her BFF. I find her same battles and feeling wronged by someone who is very introverted. In the end, maturity takes over and love is the winner!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Moonstone

By: Wilkie Collins 2.5/5

The Short Version:

First I was disappointed by this book for many reasons. First and foremost it was long, so long, especially after having read “The Woman in White”.  I also had this book as an audio book  and it was downloaded off of librivox.org which is a non-profit with many readers. One reader didn’t speak English so she couldn’t read and kept stumbling on the words, another reader, possibly the same one, had cars and horns in the background recording. Having this in the background is very distracting considering the book was taking place in 1848!

The book dragged on and on and for a change of pace, dragged on some more. There where a thousand different characters. This is how I characterize them:
-Beteridge – Grumpy self concerned old man, that looks down on women as silly and frivolous. He is the narrator for the better part of the story.
-Ms. Cluck who apparently is a hag, ugly, and only concerned with her crazy notions of religion, which is what she preoccupies herself and her time with. She is so unwilling to back down she forces religion and her religion down the throats of main characters.
-Rosanna is apparently homely conniving thief, who can’t get it in her head where her place in the house is…. She is crestfallen to the point of obsession over a man who could car more for a paint brush than her as a human being.
-Franklin Blake is obsessed with Rachel, the Miss of the house, and would do anything like a puppy dog in love for her.
-Rachel, the Miss of the house who always gets her way no matter what, isn’t amazingly pretty but dresses well so it gives her status. She can’t seem to know what it is she wants and has the “fickle mind” that Beteridge accuses women of.
-Gottfried Applewhite is a smooth talker, and a pimp who is  pretender of philanthropic needs. He is the pimp of today that weasels his way into matters of importance.
-Sgt. Cuff the main policeman is self absorbed and knows he is a legend.  

And the list goes on with many many characters that are added and their histories and lives talked about for what purpose. The story is the story of an object, the Moonstone, and its travel. Who stole it and how? It is sad to say you won’t find out until the antepenultimate chapter when you have been taken up and down with pages and pages of narrative from all these different characters. Mr. Collins could have made the book more fun had he got to the point. There was too much going on. Maybe being in the 21st Century, I wouldn’t understand a book like this, whose suspense is built throughout weeks as the story is published a few pages at a time. I am a person who likes immediate satisfaction.  Though my biggest grudge against this book is why its considered A CLASSIC?!?!  Does have to be written a bajillion years ago to make it be important? And conclusively what was so important about this book? The building of characters… no thanks. I prefer our good adventure novels of today’s time! 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Three Cups of Tea

By: Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin    5/5++++

   I don’t even know how to start my review on this magnificent book! It was so nice and pleasant to read such great book where it shows grassroots organizations are the way to go!
   Who would have thought such a change can be made by one man, who found compassion from people all around the world? Who would have thought that compassion can be found in the most horrifying situations and shows that human nature will always care for its children? I loved this story of Greg Mortenson and his journey to change the way we fight terrorism. The book took you on a wonderful journey into the lives or ordinary village life in rural Pakistan and then Afghanistan, where people speak different, look different but in the end have the same compassion for youth and children as it exists anywhere!
  I think this book makes you understand a culture from a different angel, other than all Muslims are terrorists, you can sympathize with those people. Like every religion, everyone has fundamentalists and anything that is way over the top, like religion, a craze, a fashion, isn’t going to be good. Those we are afraid of, like those in the villages Dr. Greg visited, are the same people we are all afraid of. They are beyond normalcy or beyond any thoughts of decent human behavior! We can not as Americans class everyone into those people. Like people in other parts of the world classify Americans as heartless, arrogant, bastards and that is not true of all of us.
  I do think that everyone needs to read this book. You get such a deep understanding of the needs of these people, their culture and their fundamental way of life that it would be silly not to take these into account when dealing with them.

If you want to help you can reach Greg Mortensen via Facebook, Twitter, http://www.ikat.org/ .

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Honeymoon

By: James Patterson 3/4

I am just starting to get into these types of action books though I do enjoy especially since I am listening to them while driving home from work, which makes my commute a lot faster.

This is my second James Patterson book and I do enjoy it, and I think that I enjoyed this one a tad more than the first one, “The Lifeguard”.  I was actually rooting for the villain, a sexy lady that kills for money! It was OK, will I remember this book in detail in 1 year probably not but I will keep listening to James Patterson. It does concern me that there is a whole lot of very explicit sex, and there is nothing wrong with that, but I did see a little girl of 12/13 years reading a James Patterson book. HMMm Reading is all good but should she really being reading such graphic stuff, I guess now anything to keep them reading!

Izzy and Lenore

By: Jon Katz 4.2/5

Like many books I read, I find books about humans and animals fun and feel good. There is no helping in getting the warm fuzzy when reading books like “Marley & Me” or “The Art of Racing in the Rain”, and that is why Jon Katz’s book “Izzy and Lenore” is another feel good, warm fuzzy, happy tears read. Having never heard of Jon Katz and going solely on Judging a Book by Its Cover, I picked up this unlikely favorite as a “buy two get one free” deal at Barnes & Noble.
I was pleasantly surprised on his easy going style of writing and the surprise of what the book is actually about, yes Izzy and Lenore make a presence, but it is beyond the bonds of human and animal. It is about the unknown sense and feelings of animals and their awareness towards death. I am not surprised that an animal might be more intuitive of the needs of the dying than we as humans have, who are so uncomfortable with the idea of death. It begs us to try to understand what is this strange fear we have, does it make us realize our own mortality? Does this create a bond we will never know about between a deathbed patient and an animal?

Jon Katz does a great job of writing from his point of view and not giving his animals human emotions that we tend to do as animal lovers. He also talks a lot of his life struggles and his need for these spirits and characters (in the case of Lenore) in his life. I am willing to pick up another of Jon Katz’s books with a certain nervousness to not be reading about the same stuff.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Snow Falling on Cedars

By: David Guterson 4/5

This was one of my challenge books for 2010, as I have always had this book in possession for a few years now and never ever picked it up to read, even though I have heard great things about it. 
I didn’t even really know what it was about when I first picked it up, or when it was taking place. Snow Falling on Cedars takes place in a few times mostly during WWII and then 10 years after the war, taking place on a small island in the Northwest of America. Since those times many things have changed including perceptions of people and the way we look at the world. The story involves many different families on an island, a close tight community that is mixed with Japanese Americans at a very difficult time.

The story is a trial story, intertwined with individual stories of linked stories on the island. The story can be a story of childhood love lost, or of a murder trial that is unjust and prejudice, or the story of a small town during a brutal snow storm, or of maintaining relationships. There are many characters like Hatsue, Ischmael, Kabuo, Carl Hein, Susan Marie, and more, of which we learn a little by little of their intertwined lives.

This was my first experience with David Guterson and his work, and I am not even clear if he wrote more books. I love the intertwined lives, and the suspense of the trial. Is there a deeper meaning in this book? Maybe.  Does the snow resemble cleanness and impurity of the island? I guess not, I could not see that, as there are very few people who are hesitant to point a finger at JAP! 

The story does have 4 different settings that actions happen, which is the town, the sea and boats, the strawberry fields, and the cedar forest. Looking simply at the forest it seems to be the place of secrets as if the trees that are together can better hide a person, and yes even a secret love affair. The sea is open, and large calm and at time ferocious. The dense fogs that lays across the harbor also can hide many secrets as well, as secret dealing between fisherman that by character are men of few words.  Most scenes on the sea talk about the calmness of things to come. The strawberry fields are scenes that take the reader to think about the larger aspects of life, like the future and families.  Most of these scenes are talking about children and working  in them, they create a sense of security, which is why maybe a lack of field for Kabuo meant a lack of this secure feeling. And lastly the town, which seems to have the most harsh scenes of brutal winter storms. This to means might portray the brutal and mixed up feelings of the people in the town about the war and a people that they were trained to think to hate.

The reason I give this book only a 4 out of 5 is due to the amount of pages and sometimes and unnecessary discussion of family backgrounds that were unnecessary, such as learning about Ischmael’s father, or maybe the life of Fujiko as maybe I don’t see the point of learning that much. I would have liked to learn more about the main characters. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Lifeguard

By: James Patterson 3/5

The book is a girl meet, boy and fall in love while looking for stolen painting. Of course the hero is no to be blamed and he is at no fault. Girl and Boy fall in love and get married, one is a life guard the other an FBI agent. Dr. Gache by Van Gogh


By: Michael Crichton 4.5/5

I am not very familiar with Michael Crichton, and have been told many great things. The first book I read by this author was Next and thoroughly enjoyed the book. I had no idea what Prey was about, so I was surprised by the subject. I did this book as an audio book, and somehow found myself driving aimlessly to keep going and hear more. The book was captivating and the story line was great. What if science and technology and biology mix, would this be our world? Is this a fear that we should honestly be afraid of? Where will science lead us? Is it our ultimate doom? Nanotechnology is an emerging science with real goals of making things smaller and smaller, what will it be used for. It is proven that in today time, nanotechnology is in the world around you, such as cell phones, TVs, DVDs, MP3s, and even your tanning lotion! So Crichton begs the question, “What if?”

The characters were very believable and I love Jack as the hero, and unlikely nerd that saves the day. I despised Julia from the first few moments of the book, and I felt like I could read her. Plot was fantastic with twists, turns, and never expecting the next chapter! Crichton’s style of writing is easy, un cumbered by lengthy descriptions that some authors have the tendency to do in order to show their impressive big words. I loved the research that Crichton has to ultimately do in order to portray this book as realistic and most importantly the prologue at the being of the book explaining his reasoning behind his choice to write the book. Michael Crichton, I am hooked!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Currently Reading

I am currently reading, or trying to get into, "Snow Falling on Cedars" and I only on Chapter 4. Though I think I have come to a part where the books is starting to catch me. This is one of my Challenge list books of 2010, so we will see where this takes me! Working on it though!

Below is a picture of where the book is taking place!

The Husband

By: Dean Koontz 3/5

This is an audio book, my first audio book. I think the book was interesting, it is certainly a great way to get through traffic. The books keeps you suspended, and it was pretty far fetched ideas, but for someone who always sees the next thing happening, I did not see the end! I really didn't! As this was my first audio book, I wouldn't know what to say about the production, but it was OK.