Saturday, December 5, 2009

Read-A-Thon: Hour 4

I am excited to report that I am still going strong. I have done much better, page wise, during the last two hours than my first two hours. I was shocked when I calculated that I read 88 pages. Normally I average between 30-35 pages an hour.

I am going to take a break for a few house and will report back at around 3:30pm. In that time I hope to go to the library, write an post reviews and visit and comment on other read-a-thoners sites. But all that depends on my internet connection which is acting up.

Started: 9:oo am
Time Now: 1:34 pm
Time Elapsed: 4 hours 34 minutes
Time Spent Reading: 3 hours and 50 minutes

Current Book: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Pages: 250 out of 580
Pages Read For This Check In: 88 pages

Number of Books Read: 0
Total Pages Read: 152

Blogs Visited and Commented: 0
Reviews Completed: 0 out of 4

Read-a-Thon: Hour 2


I started the Read-A-Thon about 9am, after I made some tea and had an english muffin. I think I have taken a total of two breaks in the 2 hours since it has started. So far, I am doing well.

I am currently tackling Invisble Man and will read it to for about the first half of the Read-a-Thon (if I don't finish it). I will be taking a longer break to head over to the shower and go to the library. But that is not for another couple of hours. Now on to the stats:

Started: 9:oo am
Time Now: 11:02 am
Time Elapsed: 2 hours 2 minutes
Time Spent Reading: 1 hours and 50 minutes

Current Book: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Pages: 162 out of 58
Pages Read For This Check In: 64 pages

Number of Books Read: 0
Total Pages Read: 64

Blogs Visited and Commented: 0 (internet is acting up, again).
Reviews Completed: 0 out of 4

Read.Read.READ-A-THON: Starts

I missed the chance to do the Dewey Reading Challenge back in October. In fact I was on my unscheduled hiatus when the challenge was taking place. I wanted to do it and was sorry that I missed it. Luckily, Bethany (TheDredLockGirl) is hosting a read-a-thon. It started today at 9am (EST), I started at 9am but was having internet problems so I couldn't post about it.

I plan to try to read for at least two hours straight with an a break inbetween each reading session.

I am hoping to complete two books in the 24 hours:
  1. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (already started)
  2. Sula by Toni Morrison
With my breaks I plan to:
  1. Catch up on review waiting to be written.
  2. Visit other read-a-thoners.
Good luck to everyone that is participating.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Hiatus Over

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....

Unplanned Hiatus: As you might have noticed I took an unplanned hiatus. It was for several reasons. The major one is that I had been out of work of a while and starred looking (really hard) for a job. Notice that I used had... I found a job. The problem with finding a job is trying to find a way to fit in reading. I could read on the bus but for some reason I don't. Another reason that I was gone was that I was having really spotty internet connection. That problem was solved months ago, but that was on of the initial causes of my absence. The last and final reason was that I was in a reading slump. I just wasn't really interested in anything that I read. I am hoping that I am out of the slump, since I have so much to read.

Hosted Challenge: I am still hosting the Toni Morrison mini Challenge. I am hope people are participating and didn't drop out because of my absence. So, for the month of December, it looks like I will be reviewing one Toni Morrison book a week.

Current Challenges Status: Not counting the Toni Morrison Mini Challenge. I have signed up for 7 challenges this year. I still have 5 to complete. I am going to officially state in this post that I am going to fail at least one, I am bowing out of the Round The World Challenge. There is no way that I can complete it. I signed up to read 18 books, and so far I have only read 8. I will write a separate post on this fail, later in the week.

I may or may not be able to complete the 1% Well Read Challenge. I'm three books away from declaring victory, but I might have a problem getting the books The Handmaiden's Tale from the library in enough time. I am like number 4 on the list and they have 27 copies but the library here in Miami can be kind of slow at times.

With the Serial Reader Challenge, I have three more books to read in the L.A. Banks Vampire Huntress Series before I am complete. The next book is The Bitten, there is only one copy in the whole Miami-Dade, library system. I am number 4 on the hold list. I technically can declare a victory now, even with completing the VHL. I did read the Uglies Trilogy which wasn't apart of my original list. If I rearrange it a little, than I am done (the rules don't say I can't do this). I will decide latter in the month depending on if I get The Bitten.

Challenge Addiction: Now after stating that I might not complete the challenges that I signed up for, I am ready for new reading challenges. I will be repeating several challenges from last year, deleting some, and adding new ones.

The Returning Challenges:
  1. TBR Challenge - great of getting some the books that have been sitting on my TBR pile forever off.
  2. 1% Well Read Challenge - because I love list and this is a great way to challenge myself to read outside my comfort zone.
  3. The Pulitzer Project - a nice perpetual challenge that gets me to read prize winning books. I normal don't pay attention to awards but enjoyed most of the Pulitzers that I have read so far.
New Challenges (so far):
  1. Read Your Own Book Challenge - this should be a great challenge to combined with the TBR Challenge. It will get me to read some of my own books instead of them just collecting dust.
All together I think that I want to do about 3 additional challenges this year. I might add one perpetual challenge (like the Orange or Nobel) and do smaller challenges that perk my interest when I see them.

Coming Up This Week (Reviews Scheduled):
Dancing With Ana by Nicole Barker
Hair Story: Untangling The Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Tharps
Don't Move by Margaret Mazzantini
The Impostor's Daughter by Laurie Sandell

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Pages: 287
Genre: Fiction (Historical Fiction)
Series: No
Publication Year: 2009

Synopsis (From Book Cover):
In a small Alabama coal-mining town during the summer of 1931, nine-year-old Tess Moore sits on her back porch and watches a woman toss a baby into her family's well without a word. This shocking act of violence sets in motion a chain of events that forces Tess and her older sister, Virgie, to look beyond their own door and learn the value of kindness and lending a helping hand. As Tess and Virgie try to solve the mystery of the well, an accident puts their seven-year-old brother's life in danger, revealing just what sorts of sacrifices their parents, Albert and Leta, have made in order to give their children a better life, and the power of love and compassion to provide comfort of those we love.
Review:

The Well and the Mine was a surprising read. The synopsis of the story doesn't do it justice. This is more than the story of Tess and Virgie trying to solve the mystery of the dead baby. It is about the town that they live in, the people that lived there (both black and white), the era they lived in, and the way they survived.

One of the best things about The Well and the Mine is that it is from the first person prespective of all the members of the Moore family. In each story the reader gets an view into all five members point of view. Normally this style of writing can be pretty trickly to do but Phillips made it easy to adjust to the shifting character perspectives by labeling the change. Also, when switching from perspective to perspective the themes and timeline stayed the same. The youngest member of the family, Jack, set up the beginning of each chapter by reflecting on his childhood. By presenting each members view point readers got to see not only how the events at the mine affected them at the time but also how they changed their future.

The characters were very well developed. They were all likeable and relateable. Some of the characters were reminiscent of characters in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Tess comes of as a lot like Scout, a tomboy that is just enjoying her life until something happens that shakes her would. Albert is a little like Atticus but less scholarly. All of Albert's veiw point were based more of experince. His views on race and how his children were suppose to be raised were passed on personal experince and his beliefs about good or bad. It was interesting how the incident at the well and made him question his own actions and short comings.
"Me and Virgie and Jack were supposed to be the kind of people who helped out. But we didn't give those Talbert children nothing. That pained me, not just from the guilt, but because it took something so simple and confused it. I hated that, even though I wasn't supposed to hate." - Tess
One of the most interesting things about the story (personally) was the treatment of race issues in 1931. The children (Tess, Virgie, and Jack) never really deal with race, there is one incident with Jack. Albert is the one that deals with race the most and it is this experince that makes his sections so compelling to read.
"One year we had a group of real Negroes come and perform for the grammar school near Christmastime, and they weren't nearly so funny. They didn't seem to know at all how colored folks were supposed to act" - Virgie
Pros: Writing, Characters, Plot, Style
Cons: None

Overall Recommendation:

A very enjoyable story. I would highly recommend it to anyone that enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird.

Awards:
Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award (2009)

Other Reviews:

Friday Finds: September 4

Haven't done Friday Finds in a long time. Which is a good thing. It means that my TBR pile has not gotten any bigger.

This weeks theme is Non-Fiction Finds. I have a total of 5 books that I have found courtsey of the book blogging world. Without further fanfare here they are:




The Weight of A Mustard Seed by Wendell Steavenson
General Kamel Sachet was a favorite of Saddam Hussein's, a hero of the Iran-Iraq war, head of the army in Kuwait City during Desert Storm, governor of the province of Maysan, and father of nine children. When author Wendell Steavenson became intrigued by his story, she began with a few questions about Sachet and his fellow Baathist loyalists: "Why had they served such a regime? How had they accommodated their own morality? How had they lived? How had they lived with themselves?" Her journey to find these answers took five years, and an accumulation of facts, opinions, fears, confessions and suspicions from Sachet's family, friends, and enemies. The result is not just a gripping account of one man's rise and fall, but a vivid and compassionate portrayal of the Iraqi people.

As Sachet rose from policeman to Special Forces officer and then General, he made more and more sacrifices to remain in Saddam's good favor. Steadfast in his loyalty to God and his President, Sachet attended military executions and endured his own imprisonment as Saddam's behavior took increasingly paranoiac and power-crazy turns. But when it came time for Sachet's sons to do their military service, he refused to let them join the "criminal" organization to which he had given his life. Kamel Sachet realized, too late, that he'd become a participant in the terror regime that had strangled his county and destroyed its people. Through his story and the stories of those around him, Wendell Steavenson shows the choices Iraqis have had to make between exile and collaboration, God and jihad. Here are the Iraqis behind the headlines and the tragedy begotten of unintended consequences. And here is the first full-length narrative from an immensely talented journalist who has already been compared by critics to Bruce Chatwin and Ryszard Kapucinksi.

Passing Strange by Martha Sandweiss
The secret double life of the man who mapped the American West, and the woman he loved

Clarence King is a hero of nineteenth century western history; a brilliant scientist and witty conversationalist, best-selling author and architect of the great surveys that mapped the West after the Civil War. Secretary of State John Hay named King the best and brightest of his generation. But King hid a secret from his Gilded Age cohorts and prominent family in Newport: for thirteen years he lived a double life as the celebrated white explorer, geologist and writer Clarence King and as a black Pullman porter and steel worker named James Todd. The fair blue-eyed son of a wealthy China trader passed across the color line, revealing his secret to his black common- law wife, Ada Copeland, only on his deathbed.

King lied because he wanted to and he lied because he had to. To marry his wife in a public way as the white man known as Clarence King would have created a scandal and destroyed his career. At a moment when many mixed-race Americans concealed their African heritage to seize the privileges of white America, King falsely presented himself as a black man in order to marry the woman he loved.

Noted historian of the American West Martha Sandweiss is the first writer to uncover the life that King tried so hard to conceal from the public eye. She reveals the complexity of a man who while publicly espousing a personal dream of a uniquely American race, an amalgam of white and black, hid his love for his wife, Ada, and their five biracial children. Passing Strange tells the dramatic tale of a family built along the fault lines of celebrity, class, and race from the Todd s wedding in 1888, to the 1964 death of Ada King, one of the last surviving Americans born into slavery.

War by Clara Kramer
This heart-stopping story of a young girl hiding from the Nazis is based on Clara Kramer's diary of her years surviving in an underground bunker with seventeen other people.

Clara Kramer was a typical Polish-Jewish teenager from a small town at the outbreak of the Second World War. When the Germans invaded, Clara's family was taken in by the Becks, a "Volksdeutsche" (ethnically German) family from their town. Mrs. Beck worked as Clara's family's housekeeper. Mr. Beck was known to be an alcoholic, a womanizer, and a vocal anti-Semite. But on hearing that Jewish families were being led into the woods and shot, Beck sheltered the Kramers and two other Jewish families.

Eighteen people in all lived in a bunker dug out of the Becks' basement. Fifteen-year-old Clara kept a diary during the twenty terrifying months she spent in hiding, writing down details of their unpredictable life--from the house's catching fire to Mr. Beck's affair with Clara's neighbor; from the nightly SS drinking sessions in the room above to the small pleasure of a shared Christmas carp.

Against all odds, Clara lived to tell her story, and her diary is now part of the permanent collection of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Annie's Ghost by Steven Luxenberg
Beth Luxenberg was an only child. Everyone knew it: her grown children, her friends, even people she'd only recently met. So when her secret emerged, her son Steve Luxenberg was bewildered. He was certain that his mother had no siblings, just as he knew that her name was Beth, and that she had raised her children, above all, to tell the truth.
By then, Beth was nearly eighty, and in fragile health. While seeing a new doctor, she had casually mentioned a disabled sister, sent away at age two. For what reason? Was she physically disabled? Mentally ill? The questions were dizzying, the answers out of reach. Beth had said she knew nothing of her sister's fate.
Six months after Beth's death in 1999, the secret surfaced once more. This time, it had a name: Annie.

Steve Luxenberg began digging. As he dug, he uncovered more and more. His mother's name wasn't Beth. His aunt hadn't been two when she'd been hospitalized. She'd been twenty-one; his mother had been twenty-three. The sisters had grown up together. Annie had spent the rest of her life in a mental institution, while Beth had set out to hide her sister's existence. Why?
Employing his skills as a journalist while struggling to maintain his empathy as a son, Luxenberg pieces together the story of his mother's motivations, his aunt's unknown life, and the times in which they lived. His search takes him to imperial Russia and Depression-era Detroit, through the Holocaust in Ukraine and the Philippine war zone, and back to the hospitals where Annie and many others were lost to memory.

Combining the power of reportage with the intrigue of mystery, Annie's Ghosts explores the nature of self-deception and self-preservation. The result is equal parts memoir, social history, and riveting detective story.

The Known World by Edward P. Jones
In one of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Edward P. Jones, two-time National Book Award finalist, tells the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia. Making certain he never circumvents the law, Townsend runs his affairs with unusual discipline. But when death takes him unexpectedly, his widow, Caldonia, can't uphold the estate's order and chaos ensues. In a daring and ambitious novel, Jones has woven a footnote of history into an epic that takes an unflinching look at slavery in all of its moral complexities.


I would just like to note that all synopsis are from Google books except for Annie's Ghost which came from good reads.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

BTT: Recent Big

This week Booking Through Thursday ask:
What's the biggest book you've read recently?
(Feel free to think "big" as size, popularity or in any other way care to interpret)
I don't know what to consider recent. Does recently mean last three months, six months, year. I am going to take it as in the last year.

The top three "biggest" books according to size are all over six hundred pages. These three books have something in common, they all are considered classics. But the best part is that I enjoyed all of them. On to the books:

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

The "biggest" books according to popularity are of course from The Twilight Series. I wish I could say that I enjoyed these books as much as I like the three classics but I didn't. I only reviewed two on this site:

The Vixen Manual by Karrine Steffans

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Pages: 294
Genre: Self Help (Love & Romance)
Series: No
Publication Year: 2009

Synopsis (From Google Books):
Since she exploded on the scene with her two juicy and impossible-to-put-down tell-alls, readers have wanted to know even more about what makes Karrine Steffans tick. How was she able to meet all the high profile politicians, movie stars, and other celebrities that are her close acquaintances? What skills does she possess to keep men wanting more? Finally, Karrine lays it all out and explains exactly what a woman must do to win over the man of her dreams. With chapters like "Never Let Him See You Sweat,""Flirting,""Encouraging His Manhood," and "Give Him What He Wants," this hot and sexy manual is a must-have for every woman's bookshelf
Review:

Literally speaking the The Vixen Manual comes as a surprise. As someone who had try to read Steffans' first work Confessions of A Video Vixen, the expectations of her writing ability were pretty low. There are varying opinions on whether or not Steffans uses a ghost writer. It is reported that she does but she claims that she writes all her books herself. If she is to be believed there is a remarkable jump in her writing ability from the first book to her third book (The Vixen Manual). The writing in The Vixen Manual is superb, in fact, better than some people with English degrees (my roommates opinion). It's hard to believe that she wrote this book (am I just hating?). While, the writing was good, after about the first half of the books it is annoying. Steffans writing seems to take on this tone that becomes unpleasant and patornizing. The impressive writing starts to wear off. To top that off she has a tendency to repeat herself. There is very little difference in the chapters, they basically all have the same point. It became hard to want to complete the book because it became very predictable.

I can't say that the book lives up to the title, it doesn't tell you how to find, seduce and keep the man you want. Mainly Steffans repeats the same on message over and over again; respect and love yourself. That is it. There are no exciting new sex tips (she does advice women to be more sexually adventurous). There is no advice on where to find the sort of man that you are looking for. In fact, the information isn't that different from anything that can't be found in online article or Cosmo. At times the information seemed like common sense. Steffans does encourge women to work on themselves and achieve their goals. While some of the messages she delievers are okay, there were a few that seemed sort of off. In what she calls "The New Dating Game", she advices women to date more than one man at a time, to rank them and tell them where they stand. That is sort of degrading. What woman worth her grain of salt would stay with a man that told her she was number 3 out of 5 on his list of females. There isn't anything wrong with dating one than one person at a time (if there is no sex involoved). There is nothing wrong with ranking people that you are dating, as long as you don't tell them. That is disrespectful. She contradicts herself by saying that it is okay to sleep with more than one person at a time (but remember to be safe) and then stating that beware of your behavoir so you don't come off as a slut. Doesn't these two things sort of contradict themselves. Another issue is that she plays into the Superwoman sterotype. In her message there is the feeling that a woman should be all things to her man and that if she doesn't an he leaves than it is her fault. A woman should be able to work, cook, clean, raise children, and look hot at all times. This is unrealistic and potentially exhuasting course. Not anywhere in her book does it say anyting about forming a partnership and finding out a way to split the responisblitiy to the house, kids, and careers together. The woman sort of becomes the work horse and the man has to be feel and be treated like king all the time.

If you are reading this book to get the freaky sex tips this is not the book. There are about a total of two diagrams showing different sexual positions. But that is all.

It is a interesting read at first, but quickly losses it appeal.

Pros: Writing, Advice
Cons: Repetitive, Advice

Overall Recommendation:

I am not normally a "Self Help" book reader. While I do like some of what Steffans some of it gets the side eye. There are better relationship books out there but it is not a bad start.

As a sidenote my roommate started to read this book and abandoned it. In the first five chapters is claimed she could have written it herself. Also, she is spectual on whether Steffans wrote the book herself. But we both are trying not to be judgment or "hate ".

Other Reviews:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Toni Morrison Mini Challenge Starts Today

Today is the official start date for the Toni Morrison Mini Challenge. The challenge is really simple read four books (no re-reads) by Toni Morrison. That is just one book for the last four months of the year.

So far, three people have signed up already. I am really excited because this is the first challenge that I have host and hopefully not the last.

My planned reads for the challenge:
Sula
Song of Solomon
Tar Baby
Jazz



Have your read any of Morrison's books? If so which?
Have you joined the challenge?
What are you planning to read for the challenge?

September Forecast


Wordle: September Forecast


September is going to be extra busy month reading since I didn't complete the books that I set aside for August. I am going to try to sit aside at least two to three hours a day to read.
Hopefully I can make myself read more on the weekends.

I really wise the weather here in Miami was nicer so that I could sit outside in the backyard and read. Oh well.

Reading Now (Started in July):
The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips

Read in August But Not Yet Reviewed:
The Vixen Manuals by Karrine Steffans

Plans to Read in September:
Hair Story: Untangling The Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Thraps
Don't Move: A Novel by Margaret Mazzantini
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Lolita by Vladmir Naboko
The Bitten by LA Banks
The Forbidden by LA Banks
The Damed by LA Banks
The Club Dumas by Arthuro Perez-Reverte
The Hand That's Dealt by Rosalind Coats
The Color of Family by Patrica Jones
Freshwater Road by Denise Nichols
Sula by Toni Morrison

Do you have your monthly reading planned out or do you just decide as you go along?
What do you plan to read this month?

Monday, August 31, 2009

August Wrap-Up

Wordle: August Wrap-Up

I did horribly this month. I don't know why. Actually I do, I spent way to much time watching television when I could have been reading. I am going to have to do better this month if I want to complete my reading challenges and personal goals.

Read & Reviewed in August:

Read But Not Reviewed in August:
The Vixen Manual by Karrine Steffans

Planned To Read But Did Not:
Hair Story: Untangling The Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Thraps
Don't Move: A Novel by Margaret Mazzantini
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Lolita by Vladmir Naboko

Completed Challenges for 2009:
The Pulitzer Project * - Completed 5 out of 5 Books (100%)
TBR Challenge - Completed 15 out of 12 Books (125%)

Challenges Still in Process:
Round The World - Completed 7 out of 18 Books (39%)
Through The Decades '09 - Completed 7 out of 9 Books (78%)
1% Well Read - Completed 7 out of 10 Books (70%)
Serial Reader - Completed 12 out of 15 Books (80%)
Library Challenge - Completed 23 out of 25 Books (92%)

*I had a goal to read 5 out of the 82 Pulitzer Prize winning books for this year. I still have 77 books to go. But since this is a perpetual challenge, I am not in a rush.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Narrator: Robert Whitfield
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Length: 14 hours and 32 minutes
Genre: Fiction (Classic)
Series: No
Publication Date: 1897

Synopsis (From Amazon.com):
When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client and his castle. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman's neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the imminent arrival of his 'Master'. In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count Dracula and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre.
Review:

Apparently there is a lot of misrepresentation on what exactly is Bram Stoker's Dracula. I was under the impress that this was a more bloody, horror filled book than it really was. In fact, Dracula is more of a collection of diary entries, newspaper clippings, and letters describing the events in the story. It's not scary or gory.

The narrator Robert Whitfield was great at doing the voices for all the male characters. When Whitfield did the voice of the none English characters, his talent really stood out. It at times seemed that a different person was reading those parts. The female voices were all done in the same manner, where it was hard to distinguish one from the other.

The audiobook version of Dracula was hard to focus to for a large portion of the story. At the end it was easier to focus and get caught up in what was happening but not at the beginning.


Pros: Narrator, plot, characters
Cons: Hard to follow

Overall Recommendation:

I think the audiobook version is a great way to read Dracula. It makes the writing easier to digest.

Challenges:

1% Well Read (7 out of 10 Books)
TBR Challenge (15 out of 12 Books)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Imago by Octavia E. Butler

Rating:3 out of 5 Stars
Pages: 264
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Xenogenesis (Book 3 out of 3)
Publication Date: 1989

Synopsis (From Inside Cover):
The alien Oankali have saved a doomed Earth and dying humanity – as part of a “trade”; because Oankali survival requires constant genetic exchange. We are their new mating stock; and the children are Constructs, trans-species hybrids destined for the stars. Loving, gentle, wise with the legacy of a thousand such trades, the Oankali have anticipated and provided for every objectios, resistance, contingency... except this.

Except Jodahs. One of many construct children born to Lilith Lyapo. But not a son. Nor a daughter. Jodahs is a human-ooloi. Ooloi – the Oankali third gender essential to breed humans and aliens, makes and females. Utter alien, shapeshifting, the essence of Oankali: ooloi sort and mix genes withing their bodies; ooloi heal the sick and repair the maimed. And more. For ooloi can survive with food, water, air... but not with quenching and absolute physical need – to love. To touch. To taste – and to change – all other forms of life.

Yet a single flawed ooloi can endanger a world... cause cancer and sores with every glancing caress... mutate the ground it walks on... breed disease in the very air it breathes... bur in unloved agony... and project that pain on every organism near it.

Nor daring to risk the trade the Oankali want Jodahs to return to their ship and face eternity as a quarantined biology experiment. Unless he – unless it – can control the change to ooloi adulthood, live as a genderless human, and master powers and passion beyond even alien comprehension.

Jodahs' family flee into jungle exile, a small, caring band of humans, aliens, and hybrids on a desperate quest of self-discovery. Here they must raise the child who will either become the final link between all that is human and all that is not... or grow into a mad, living pestilence. And beyond strength, beyond will, beyond endurance, Jodahs himself must find something the Oankali's wondrous science can never provide...

A miracle.


Review:


Imago is the last book in the Xenogenesis series and the most disappointing. While reading the book, the thought kept occurring that the series could have ended at book two and been perfectly complete. Imago at times feels like an afterthought, a way to keep things going.

There is nothing wrong with the writing style. Butler is an excellent writer, quickly engrossing the reader in the world that she has created. She was able to keep that up in Imago, the pages just seemed to fly by. The first difference that the reader will notice is that this story is told through the perspective of Jodahs, the genderless hybrid. It seems forced and the feelings that Jodahs' express are flat.

Unfortunately, the characters lacked the same feel as they did in the first two books (Dawn and Adulthood Rites). There was a loss of connection between what Jodah was feeling and the response that I felt. I didn't really care. I just wanted to see what the outcome was. Jodahs observation about his able to shapeshift were interesting, but his observation about humans not. The observation about humans and there nature were part of the beauty of the first two books, a beauty that was not continued in the final book of the series.

Another problem with this books is that the ending was bland. It was just sort of a quick wrap up, something to conclude the story. But it opened the possibility to another book, and as this is the end of the series, it was satisfying at all.

Pros:
Writing, Theme
Cons: Characters, Conclusion

Overall Recommendation:

Personally, I think that readers can stop at book two and be done with the series and still be satisfied. Book 3 is more of an afterthought and could be skipped. But it is a quick read and Butler writing is always engaging.

Challenges:
Series Challenge (12 out of 15 books)
Library Challenge (23 out of 25 books)

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.

Teaser Tuesday: August 18

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
    Let the book fall open to a random page.
    Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    Please avoid spoilers!
This week I am actually reading two books and listening to a third (Dracula). So, I am going to post teasers from the two books that I am reading and the one that I am listening to.

The Well and The Mine by Gin Phillips: page 191
"Baked apple," he said, and held it up. The juice running down his fingers, and I could smell it. My biscuits weren't quite as tasty then.

The Vixen Manual by Karrine Steffans: page 141
I can just hear it now: "That's it? That's all your gonna give us?" Yes, girls, that's all I can give you, and here's a great example as to way.

Dracula by Bram Stoker: page 198
"Can you tell me why the tortoise lives more long than generations of men; why the elephant goes on and on till he have seen dynasties; and why the parrot never die only of bite of cat or dog or other complaint? Can you tell me why men believe in all ages and places that there are some few who live on always if they be permit; that there are men and women who cannot die?"

My favorite of the three is, of course, the Dracula quote. Isn't that lovely. I haven't gotten to that section in the audiobook yet. But I can't wait to hear it with the accent.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Pages: 277
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Xenogensis Series (Book 2 of 3)
Publication Date: 1988

Synopsis (From back of book) Contains Spoilers:

The Oankali aliens have saved Earth. For a price. Oankali survival requires constant genetic exchange...and we are their new mating stock. The resisters reject the Oankali to live free in the wilds, a last generation of sterile humans sinking into savagery and suicide, stealing and mutilating half-alien hybrid babies to claim as their own. Akin is a hybrid, an Oankali construct infant, his body a bridge between worlds. He looks human, but can remember the womb, taste molecular structure, and kill with a toxic touch...

Kidnapped from his Oankali home, Akin is thrust into a resisters' society of desperation, violence, need – pride. He can understand his captors only by becoming less alien. He can help the resisters only by becoming more alien. Akin can defend human beings only by becoming Oankali.

And if Akin tries to save humanity, the humans will kill him.

Review:

Note: It is impossible to review this book with spoiling some of the first book. Be aware this review may and does contain what spoilers. But if you have already read the synopsis than some of the first books is already spoiled. On to the review.

In Adulthood Rites, Butler picks what where she left off. It is about 30 years after Dawn and Lilith has bore and contains to have alien hybrid (constructs) children. Adulthood Rites is the story of one of those children. Told in a limited third person narrative, Adulthood Rites is the look into the struggles that the Akin (Lilith's only human born constructs male child) and the humans resisters that now inhibit the earth. As in the first book (Dawn), Butler contains to explore the theme of what it means to be human and the contradictions that are inherent in humanity. Even though the story is in third person, the reader only gets to see the world through Akin's senses. This position allows readers not only to connect with the human resisters but also evaluate aspects of humanity that lead the Oankali make humans resist sterile. Through Akin, readers get to see how humans make choices that lead to violence, rage, despair, and sorrow. But they also get to see that for most people the idea of the future and progress, mainly through children, is what makes up want to achieve greater heights. Butler is able to do all this expertly in a simple narrative that is less than three hundred pages.

Pros: Writing, Characters, Plot
Cons: N/A

Overall Recommendation:

This book in my opinion is better than Dawn. It could just be because I like the outcome more in this book than the other. But I would recommend this book to anyone that has read the first. But it is important that the books are read in order, so of the important themes and events are needed to make the story make flow accurately.

Challenges:
TBR Challenge (14 out of 12 Books)
Series Challenge (11 out of 15 Books)

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section.

Mailbox Monday: August 17

The last two weeks have been kind of slow with the amount of books coming in. Which is good, since I have so many books that I have no yet started or completed.

The first book I received has been getting a lot of attention and great reviews. I was lucky enough to win a copy (sorry forgot which site I won it from). The second is an ARC, the author requested that I do a review.

On to the books:


Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Back Again

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....

After being gone for about a week I am back. I didn't go anywhere but took a week away from blogging. I ave been reading. In fact I have read three books. Two of which I still need to review. I have never had books lined up to be read. I think this will be the last time this happens.

The Pulitzer Project: One of the perpetual challenges that I am doing is reading the Pulitzer's. I have only read five of them but since this challenge has no official start and stop date, I am going to take it easy. As I have stated in a previous Sunday Salon, I have become a list person. In the spirit of making list I have created a spreadsheet for this challenge. It is based and works just like the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. In fact I borrowed most all of the formulas from it. You can get it from Google Documents, here.

Hosted Challenge: I have announced that I am hosting a Toni Morrison Mini Challenge. The challenge starts in September and last til the end of the year. I haven't even started to plan what books I am going to read. But I still have a few weeks. You can sign up here.

Staying Opened Minded: I won a copy of The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce & Keep The Man You Want by Karrine Steffans a couple of weeks ago from Books Soulmate. If you don't know who Karrine Steffans is her is a brief introduction. She use to be a video model for mostly rap/hip hop videos. She has slept with numerous men in both music and spots. She wrote a book about her exploits and named names. Anyways, once upon a time I tried to read her first book Confessions of a Video Vixen but the writing was bad and atmosphere of the book was bad, so I abandoned it about halfway through and vowed to never pick up another one of her books. Then she came out with this and it perked my interest. Why? Because I wanted to know what she has to say about finding a man and if her advice is good and sound. I am trying to be opened minded but knowing her background it is hard. I am only on the second chapter and so far it's okay but I am only on page 11. I have find something that I disagree with but I'll save that for the review or another post. It's hard to stay open minded when reading a relationship advice book by a woman whose nickname use to be Superhead, sex advice maybe, relationship advice I don't know.

Coming Up This Week (Reviews Scheduled):
Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler
Imago Octavia E. Butler
The Vixen Manual by Karrine Steffans
The Well and The Mine by Gin Phillips
Hair Story by Ayana D. Byrd

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Holes by Louis Sachar

Rating: 3 stars
Pages: 231
Genre: Fiction (Juvenille)
Series: No
Publication Date: 1988

Synopsis (From back of book):
Stanley Yelnats is under a curs. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnatses. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys' detention cent, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day, digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes.

It doesn't take long for Stanley to realize there's more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment - and redemption.
Review:

Holes is a great tale about a boy who is going through a bad situation growing, finding inner strength, and friendship. The main character Stanley Yelnats, is the perfect material for bullies and has been unlucky most of his life. Yet, while serving a sentence at Camp Green Lake he is able to make a group of friends, kind of. The group of friends aren't really friends they are boys who he shares a tent with. They all develop an understanding and a sort of ranking system. Each one knows their place. Stanley is able to bond with one boy, Zero, they learn how to share their strength for mutual benefit. Stanley is an interesting character because he is so much so like the normal average everyday kid. Zeros character on the other hand is more mysterious. He is different, quite and reserved. All the characters primary characters of the story are well develop.

The story was not as humorous as described. There were moments that caused a laugh and some that caused a smile. Since this book is more juvenile fiction, those reaction were expected. While the story was not humorous it was entertaining. Sachar did a good job with developing not only the characters but the background story. The background story of Stanely's no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather is entertaining. The way that story later ties in with other background stories makes the book complete. So, while the reader gets to a glimpse into Stanley's time at Camp Green Lake, they also get to know a little bit of his history and the history of the area where the camp is located. The history of the camps location is the most interesting story of the book. At times it is better and more attention getting than Stanley's story.

Sachar writing is very appreciate for the genre. For advance readers the book is rather quick to read but it is a page turner.

Pros: History, Characters, Plot,
Cons: Not that funny

Overall Recommendation:

Great book for juvenile readers probably wouldn't recommend for adults.

Challenges:
TBR Challenge (13 out of 12 Books)
Library Challenge (22 out of 25 Books)

Other Reviews:

If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Finds: August 7


This Friday I will spotlight books that I have books that I have came across while browsing The Happy Nappy Bookseller. The Happy Nappy Bookseller is a great place to find books contain people as color as the main character. The site is mostly young adult books. But it is a great place to too if you are looking for something to read.

Because I have so many books starred from THe Happy Nappy Bookseller I used random.org to decided how many books to include in this Friday Find. It didn't help much because it chose 7 books.


Marcelo In the Real World by Francisco X. Stork


The Fold by An Na


Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann



Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins


Monday, August 3, 2009

TBR Challenge Completed


I am excited to say that I have completed the TBR Challenge. I did sort of cheat a little and change some of my books. But all the books that I read were on my virtual TBR pile. So, it works it self out. I plan to continue with the challenge but I won't update my list.

It feels nice to have one more challenge completed.


The Top 3 Books:
1) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2) Beloved by Toni Morrison
3) Thirteen Reason Why by Jay Asher

Worse Book:
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Complete List:The Awakening by LA Banks (Review)
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (Review)Beloved by Toni Morrison (Review)To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Review)Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston (Review)
When Chickhenheads Come Home to Roost by Joan Morgan (Review)
New Moon By Stephenie Meyer (Review)The Hunted by LA Banks (Review)
Dawn by Octavia Butler (Review)The Bonesetter's Daughter (Review)Chocolat by Joanne Harris (Review)
Thirteen Reason Why by Jay Asher (Review)

Mailbox Monday: August 3


I didn't realize how long it has been since I have done a Mailbox Monday. I have had 6 books come in since the last time I did this meme.



The books that I received are:







From Librarything Early Reviewer Program


From Author (ARC):


From Giveaway:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

Rating: 3.5 stars
Pages: 368
Genre: Fiction (Chinese-American)
Series: No
Publication Date: 2001

Synopsis (From Google Books):
Ruth Young and her widowed mother, LuLing, have always had a tumultuous relationship. Now, before she succumbs to forgetfulness, LuLing gives Ruth some of her writings, which reveal a side of LuLing that Ruth has never known. . . .

In a remote mountain village where ghosts and tradition rule, LuLing grows up in the care of her mute Precious Auntie as the family endures a curse laid upon a relative known as the bonesetter. When headstrong LuLing rejects the marriage proposal of the coffinmaker, a shocking series of events are set in motion–all of which lead back to Ruth and LuLing in modern San Francisco. The truth that Ruth learns from her mother’s past will forever change her perception of family, love, and forgiveness.

Review:

Amy Tan has a gift of writing about the mother and daughter experience. One that transcends race or culture. The Bonesetter's Daughter is about the experience of a daughter coming to terms with her mother's illness and past. Just like the characters in The Joy Luck Club Ruth and her mother LuLing have a difficult relationship. Mostly do to the fact that the mother grow up in China and her daughter was raised in America. It is also a story of a daughter learning to appreciate her mother and culture a little more.

The Bonesetter's Daughter is a lot like The Joy Luck Club. It has fewer main characters. But Ruth and LuLing's relationship is almost exactly like that between the mothers and daughters featured in The Joy Luck Club. There is friction because Ruth does not understand her mother. Her mother is from China and after moving to America held on to a lot of her Chinese Culture. LuLing has been in the United States for almost 50 years yet doesn't speak or understand English that well. LuLing is also secretive of her past. All these situations lead to a very strained relationship that leave both Ruth and LuLing feeling unappreciated and misunderstood by one another.

The story is told from two points of view. The first person point of view is told by LuLing when she is describing her experience in China. The third person point of view in current times. It is the first person point of view that is the most catching. LuLing voice is powerful. The imagery and language that Tan uses to describe what she (LuLing) went through was fantastic. It expressed not only what the character was going through but the myths and beliefs that are part of Chinese culture. The strength in the story lies in the first person narrative of LuLings story.

The one major draw back with the story is that there are a lot of similarities between The Joy Luck Club and The Bonesetter's Daughter. Ruth and LuLing's characters and circumstances could have been switched with any of the mother-daughter pairs in The Joy Luck Club and they would not have been out of place. It makes theme and relationship between them appear recycled and therefore the outcome is not a surprise.

Also, there has been criticism online that Tan has a tendency to use stereotypes in her writing. I noticed that in this novel but that could be because I was looking for it.

Pros: Imagery, Storyline, Characters
Cons: Formula, Stereotypes, Predictable

Overall Recommendation:

Highly recommended with a precaution: If you have read The Joy Luck Club (or maybe any of her others works) the style and formula are easy noticeable and takes away some of the impact of the story.

Challenges:
TBR Challenge (12 out of 12 Books)

Other Reviews:


If you have a review of this book or any other book reviewed on my site. Post a link to that review in the comment section so, I can link back to you.

Toni Morrison Mini Challenge

I have decided to host my very first challenge. Since this is my first challenge, I have decided to get a feel of hosting a challenge by doing a mini challenge.

Hello and Welcome to the Toni Morrison Mini Challenge. This is a short term mini-challenge that last only four months (September 2009 - December 2009). That focuses is to read four fictional novels written by Toni Morrison.

Guidelines:
1) Anyone can join you don't have to have a website to participate.
2) Sign up for the mini-challenge using Mr. Linky below.
3) You can use books that are being used other challenges (see rules 4 and 7)
3) Read 4 novels writen by Toni Morrison
4) You also have the option of listening using audiobooks. But only 2 audiobooks count.
5) Only adult (or young adult) fiction novels count (non of her non-fiction or children's fiction count)
6) All 4 novels have to be new to you novels (no re-reads).
7) Challenge begins September 1, 2009 and end December 31, 2009
8) You can join anytime now and December 31, 2009.
9) Only books read between September 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009 count (once again no
re-reads)

List of Novels (from Wiki):
  • The Bluest Eye (1970, ISBN 0-452-28706-5)
  • Sula (1974, ISBN 1-4000-3343-8)
  • Song of Solomon (1977, ISBN 1-4000-3342-x)
  • Tar Baby (1981, ISBN 1-4000-3344-6)
  • Beloved (1987, ISBN 1-4000-3341-1)
  • Jazz (1992, ISBN 1-4000-7621-8)
  • Paradise (1999, ISBN 0-679-43374-0)
  • Love (2003, ISBN 0-375-40944-0)
  • A Mercy (2008, ISBN 978-0-307-2463-7)




Smaller Challenge Badge:

August Forcast

Wordle: Untitled
Since actually setting goal and announcing them here worked so well in the month of July. I am going to keep this up. August promises to be packed. I set down and loot a really good look at my reading this year and so far I am falling way behind. I set a goal for myself to read 60 books and so far I have only read 26 of the ones on my list. I figure I would have to read 8 books a month to get through all the books that I set out to read this year. Not counting the ones ARC copies, books won, or books read for PBT. So, much reading so little time.


Read in July but need to Review:
None

Reading Now:
The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

Plan to Read In July(in Order, from goal reading list):
Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler
Imago by Octavia E. Butler
Hair Story: Untangling The Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Thraps
Don't Move: A Novel by Margaret Mazzantini
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
Dracula by Bram Stoker

ACR Books:
The Well and the Mine: A Novel by Gin Phillips

Books Won:
Vixen Manual by Karinne Stephens

PBT (Group at Shelfari):
The Bonesetter's by Amy Tan
Q&A by Vikas Swarup
A Long Way Gone: Memoir of a Boy Solider by Ishmael Beah
The Girl with no Shadow by Joanne Harris
When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson

Yes, folks that is 14 books this month. I don't think I have ever read 14 books in one month in my life. That averages out to 3.5 books per week. Wish me luck.

Friday, July 31, 2009

July Wrap Up

Wordle: Untitled

I did good this month. I read and reviewed almost every book that I set out to read this month. I could have read more, if I hadn't took such longs breaks. I think I only read about 20 days out of this month. Here is a view of how the month went for me.

Read in July:

Planned To Read But Did Not:
Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler

Completed Challenges for 2009:
The Pulitzer Project * - Completed 5 out of 5 Books (100%)

Challenges Still in Process:
Round The World - Completed 7 out of 18 Books (39%)
Through The Decades '09 - Completed 7 out of 9 Books (78%)
1% Well Read - Completed 6 out of 10 Books (60%)
Serial Reader - Completed 10 out of 15 Books (67%)
TBR Challenge - Completed 11 out of 12 Books (92%)
Library Challenge - Completed 21 out of 25 Books (81%)

*I had a goal to read 5 out of the 82 Pulitzer Prize winning books for this year. I still have 77 books to go. But since this is a perpetual challenge, I am not in a rush.