Monday, February 23, 2009

Mailbox Monday: 2/23/2009

It's been a long time since I have participated in Mailbox Monday. Mainly because I sort of promised myself that I would limit my book buying and I have been good so far. I have three new books this week and only brought one. The other two were trades from Book Mooch. I had a few romance novels that I wanted to get rid of, so I posted them there.

The first book I brought from Barnes and Nobles on sell for only $4.98 USD. It's "26a" by Diana Evans. She (or it) won the Orange Award for new writers.

The second book is from Book Mooch and is a favorite of mine. "A Lesson Before Dying" by Ernest J. Gaines is a great novel. And I wanted to add it as a resident to my collection and make some room to read it again.

The last book is also one that I have read before "Sula" by Toni Morrison. I read this in high school and remember that I thought that it was an okay read. One of my goals is to go back and re-read some of the books that I read in high school (that I can remember).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Treaser Tuesdays: New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

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!
My Two Teasers:

"Maybe, if she found me here, that would be enough for her. Maybe she would just leave when she was done with me." pg. 254

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
Pages: 214
Genre: Fiction (Classic)
Series: No
Publication Date: 1952

Synopsis (From Google Books):
In an effort to escape the hypocrisies of life at his boarding school, sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield seeks refuge in New York City
LibraryThing Prediction: Probably Will Not Like It
Where to Start?

This is my second go around with Holden Caulfield. I read "Catcher In The Rye" for the first time in high school. I re-read the book because I eventually plan to read all the books that I read in my 11th grade English class over again. Because I did not enjoy most of them and wanted to see if my opinion still holds. For this book it did.

My main problem is that the story is in first person stream of thought style. And Holden Caulfield's thoughts are everywhere. Add to that he chooses to repeat the same words over and over again. I can understand why Salinger did this, so that the reader can better understand Caulfield and his problems, but it irked me. It was so bad that I would guess when he would used certain phrase at the end of a sentence, and I would mostly be right.

Here is an example of phrase that popped up every page or so:

It really is (or was)
I (or they) really....
Depressed me Or Depressing
Kill me (or you)

I don't know if my dislike for the book come from the fact that I can't relate to sixteen year old boys or was it the character and story style, but whatever it was. It wasn't working. It got to the point where I would have to take a break after each chapter. Not because the storyline was hard to follow but the style just wasn't working for me and I needed a breather.

Overall, the concept is good but the main character just messes it up for me.

Pros: I seriously can't think of any
Cons: Character, Wording

Overall Recommendation:

Read it if you want to get through some of the classics or 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Otherwise, skip it.

Decades '09 (4 out of 9 Books)
Library Challenge (4 out of 25 Books)
Round The World Passage (2 out of 18 Books)

National Book Award Finalist (1952)

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.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Salon: Challenge Updates for February

This Sunday will be an update to the Challenges that I have entered for the year. I am going about the pace that I need to in order to complete the challenges that I have signed up for. Which is good.

Completed (from 2008):
50 Book Challenge (March 2008 - March 2009)

Still in Progress (2009):
Round The World Passage: Completed 1 out of 18 Books (5%)
Through The Decades: Completed 3 out of 9 Books (30%)
The Pulitzer Project: Completed 2 out of 5* Books (40%)
1% Well Read: Completed 3 out of 12 Books (25%)
Serial Reader Challenge: Completed 2 out of 15 Books (13%)
TBR Challenge: Completed 5 out of 12 Books (41%)
Library Challenge: Completed 4 out of 25 Books (16%)

The Pulitzer Project is a perpetual challenge to read all 81 of the Pulitzer Prize wining fiction books. I have set a goal to read only 5 this year.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

50 Book Challenge Completed

I am happy to announce that I have completed the 50 Book Challenge. I started this challenge back in 2008 before I started to blog about books. At the time I thought that I would fail or just barely make it. But I completed it, with about a month to spare.

Below is a list of books that I completed from March 10, 2008 till February 07, 2009.
Books 35-50 have been reviewed on this blog. Number in parentheses indicted star ratings.

1) Harry Potter and the Deadly Hollow by J.K. Rowling(4/5)

2) The Devil Wears Prada (4/5)

3) Girl, Interrupter (3/5)

4) Black Girl/White Girl by Joyce Carol Oates (3/5)

5) Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (4.5/5)

6) What Looks Like Crazy on and Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage (3.5/5)

7) The Golden Compass by Phillip Pulman (3/5)

8) Cane River by Lalita Tademy (3/5)

9) Charles and The Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl (3/5)

10) Exit to Eden - Anne Rich (2.5/5)

11) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (5/5)

12) Kindred by Octavia Butler (3.5/5)

13) Nappily Ever After: A novel by Trisha R. Thomas (3.5/5)

14) Cell by Stephen King (3.5/5)

15) Life of Pi By Yann Martel (3/5)

16) Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (3.5/5)

17) Enchanted Erotic Bedtime Stories for Women by Nancy Madore (2/5)

18) Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (3/5)

19) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (3/5)

20) By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept by Paulo Coelho (3/5)

21) Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenger (4/5)

22) The Eye of The Dragon by Stephen King (3/5)

23) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (3/5)

24) Minion By LA Banks (3/5)

25) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (3.5/5)

26) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (4/5)

27) Matilda by Ronald Dahl (4/5)

28) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Author Conan Doyle (3/5)

29) Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (3.5/5)

30) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller(4/5)

31) And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou (3/5)

32) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (3/5)

33) Beautylicious!: The Black Girl's Guide to the Fabulous Life by Jenyne M. Raines (4/5)

34) Amagansett by Mark Mills (3.5/5)

35) Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (3/5)

36) Lion's Blood by Steven Barnes (4.5/5)

37) Heat-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (4/5)

38) East of Eden by John Steinbeck (4/5)

39) The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisnernos (2.5/5)

40) Bitten by Kelly Armstrong (4/5)

41) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (4/5)

42) Would I Lie To You: A Novel by Trisha R. Thomas (3/5)

43) Nappily Faithful by Trisha R. Thomas (3/5)

44) The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time by Mark Haddon (4/5)

45) The Awakening by LA Banks (4/5)

46) The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (3.5/5)

47) To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (4/5)

48) Their Eyes Were Watching God (3/5)

49) Beloved by Toni Morrison (4/5)

50) Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (2.5/5)

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Pages: 425
Genre: Fiction (Young Adult)
Series: Yes (Uglies Trilogy)
Publication Date: 2005

Synopsis (From Back of Book):

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.


I really have the desire to give this book the same kind of review that I try to give all books that I review but I just cannot. I don't know why. I just thought that this book was average. The writing was average, the characters were average, the plot was average. It was all over very average. Nothing really stands out but the concept and so it makes it hard for me to write a decent review.

I really could not connect to any of the characters in the story. I do not think that it had anything to do with most of the characters being teenagers but more so the authors ability. None of the characters really grabbed at me. Their personalities did not really shine through and that made it hard for me to care what happened to them.

The writing at times was a little annoying. Westerfeld's word choice is off. I know that he is trying to create this futuristic world. But it is not very imaginative. For example the town names; Pretty Town, Ugly Town, Crumblyville. He should have put in just a tab bit of more effort. He also used the term "littlies" to refer to individuals between under the age of 12. That word made me cringe everytime I read it, it is so awkward and messed up the flow of my reading.

I do like how Westerfeld did not fully close the book. It sort of forces the reader to pick up the others. Not because you really care what happens. But because you are curious to see what happens to Tally after she has made her final choice.

I did think the overall concept was good. Plastic surgery normal and the expected. But Westerfeld could have went so much further than he did with this concept. Even for a book geared towards young adults.

Pros: Concept
Cons: Word Choice, Characters

Overall Recommendation:

Only if you are really interested and plan to read the rest of the books.

Just a side note I used Librarythings little widget that predicts if you will like a book. It said that I probably will not like this book (with a very high certainty). I guess it was right.

Series Challenge (2 out of 15)
Library Challenge (4 of 25)

Golden Duck Award
VA Readers Choice Book
Garden State Book Award

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, February 6, 2009

Friday Finds: February 6th

It's that time of the week again. The only time that I allow myself to add additional books to my TBR pile (or my Shelfari wish list to be exact). This week I am adding three books that I have starred in my Google Reader. They are a couple of months old and I decided to add them now before I forget why I wanted to read them.

"The Killing Circle" by Andrew Pyper was reviewed months ago on Book Zombie. It sound very good according to Joanne's review. I really enjoy the Book Zombie because it always reviews books that I would never pick for myself. While I have yet to read any of her recommendations. I have starred a couple for future reference. But anyways, this book has been sitting in my google reader since November and it finally gets a place on the TBR pile.

"Dark Matter" by Cameron Cruise is yet another book that I found over at the Book Zombie in January. It is a psychic thriller and I don't think that I have ever read a book in that category. This looks like a great first time dip into a new genre.

"The Customer is Always Wrong: The Retail Chronicles" edited by Jeff Martin, was reviewed on from my bookshelf in December. It caught my interest first off because it tells of the retail workers experience. And since I have been working retail off and on for the last ten years, I want to hear others people pain. Secondly, it is a collection of short stories and my TBR pile is seriously lacking in short stories.

That's it until next Friday.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Pages: 275
Genre: Fiction (African-American Literature)
Series: No
Publication Date: 1987

Synopsis (From Google Books):

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a woman haunted by the past.

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

Sethe works at beating back the past, but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly in her memory and in the lives of those around her. When a mysterious teenage girl arrives, calling herself Beloved, Sethe’s terrible secret explodes into the present.

Combining the visionary power of legend with the unassailable truth of history, Morrison’s unforgettable novel is one of the great and enduring works of American literature.

Before I get to a review I have a story to tell. When I was growing up, I lived in a mostly white town. In fact, I think there was only one other black family in the whole town. So, my grandmother felt the need to constantly give me books written by black authors, and try to force me to read them. I would not have had a problem with it if it had not been for the fact that the books that she picked always seemed to deal with slavery. And for 8 or 9 year old me, that topic was too distressful. So, one day she gave me "Beloved" to read. Yes, my grandmother gave me, a 8/9 year old little girl, "Beloved". Needless to say, that I was so confused by the first chapter. This book is hard for some adults to read, I cannot begin to understand why she thought it was appropriate for a child. I have a feeling that she did not read the book herself but did like the concept. But anyways, I did not pick up that book until two decades later and was quick to tell anyone who asked that it was difficult and I would never try to read it again. In walks the Pulitzer Project and 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and "Beloved" is on my TBR list.

What a difference twenty years make. I still believe that "Beloved" is a difficult read. The language and imagery is challenge. But I have to say that I enjoyed every last page. Morrison is a master with the English language. I could see the characters, the town, their past, and their present. For me Morrison made it all come alive. Now that I have really read the book, I can't remember what I found so difficult about it. Maybe my vocabulary and reading ability have evolved (I seriously hope so or the public school system has a lot to answer too).

The characters were very well thought out and portrayed. Each of the main characters (Sethe, Paul D, and Denver) grow throughout the novel. Morrison took the reader inside their thoughts and let you see their feelings and the reasons for their actions. Nothing was left to guess about. Each character had their own personality and past that shaped their decisions. It was intriguing to see how the events in the past lead them to the point where the story takes place. How these events shape how they each react to Beloved's presence.

Now for some people this will be a difficult read. While I enjoyed how Morrison was able to pact so much into the story, I can also see where it would make it hard for some. There are a lot of different things going on. A good portion of the story is dealt with through flash backs. Sethe, has flashbacks to her time as a slave and her escape. Paul D, has flashbacks to his own enslavement, incarceration, and all the hardship he had to go through. Denver has flashbacks to her lonely painful child. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out since Morrison gives you bits and pieces at a time. But I did enjoy her method, it just made me continue to turn the page.

Another thing that can be hard is the imagery. While Morrison does not go into great detail, the subject matter is harsh. And the things that characters go through are sad and difficult (it is a post slave tale). The decisions that they made at times can be unthinkable to someone not in their position.

Pros: Language, Imagery, Characters, Plot
Cons: Language, Imagery

Overall Recommendation:

I personally loved it and would recommend it. But I would also warn that this book is not for everybody.

1% Well Read (3 out of 12)
TBR Challenge (5 out of 12)
The Pulitzer Project (2 out of 5)

Rewards (from Librarything):
American Book Award
Robert F. Kennedy Book Award
New York Times Best Book of The Year
Pulitzer Prize

Other Reviews:
Desert Rose Booklogue

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.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Wrap Up and Plans

This Sunday, I am going to do a basic wrap up of my January reading and a forecast of what to expect in Febuary. I should be doing other things like studying or finishing up "Beloved" but I don't want to.

In January I read:
The Awakening by LA Banks
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Rank (my favorite is listed first):
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Awakening by LA Banks
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Feburary planned reading:
Beloved by Toni Morrison (carry over from January)
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
New Moon by Stepehenie Meyer
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Journey Home by Olaf Olafsson
The Gathering by Anne Enright
The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

It is going to be a busy month with reading on top of school but hopefully I can keep up. I might have to read two books at once.