Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays: The Secret Holocaust Diaries


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 Teaser Sentences (pg. 176)
We heard later that those that stayed behind, and did not leave Konstantinowka, were thrown on trains, and were sent to Siberia or were killed. There was really no escape for use - one way or the other.

June Wrap-Up

span class= The month of June has been a pretty busy month. Not that I read a lot of books. But I did participate in the 48 Hour Book Challenge (that was fun). And I read 4 books which is up 1 book compared to March. Hopefully in July, I will be up to 7 or 8. But we will see.

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

Challenges Still in Process:
Round The World - Completed 6 out of 18 Books (33%)
Through The Decades '09 - Completed 6 out of 9 Books (66%)
1% Well Read - Completed 5 out of 12 Books (41%)
Serial Reader - Completed 8 out of 15 Books (53%)
TBR Challenge - Completed 8 out of 12 Books (66%)
Library Challenge - Completed 17 out of 25 Books (68%)

*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.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Pulitzer Project (Semi-Complete)

There are 82 winners of The Pulitzer Prize. My goal is to read all the Pulitzer Prize books, while participating in the Pulitzer Project. I have decided to take baby steps, since I just joined the challenge. This year my goal was to read 5 books from the list. And I am happy to say that I completed my goals.

Next year, I plan to add more books somewhere between 7 and 10. I really want to read 10 but that depends on what other challenges I join in 2010.

Ranks of Books:
The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (2008 Winner)


The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Pages: 417
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2006

Synopsis (From Google Books):
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-—and each other.
Review:

When I first started reading the The Road I had a feeling that I would not like it. It started out pretty slow and it took me awhile to get use to the format. I also had trouble with the fact that the two main characters were not given names. But in the end the book was good.

It is really hard to explain this book. McCarthy takes the reader on a end of the war journey where a father and his son (who seems to be pretty young between 8 or 10) are trying to travel to the south to escape the winter. They have to be careful because not everyone is peace loving and there is no food or clean water anywhere.

When I got into the story, the fact that McCarthy never gave the characters name made the book more personal. I was able to pictures the main characters in my mind and I started to relate to them. The relationship that the father and son shared was special and you could see the depth of love that the father felt.

Most books are written in chapter format. But McCarthy diverges from this style. Instead it is paragraph form. Each paragraph is a different event or point. I have never come across this style this before. McCarthy worked the style very well.

Pros: Style, Format, Characters
Cons: Slow Start

Overall Recommendation:

The Road would not be a story enjoyed by everyone. I think it was good. But I would only recommend it to certain people, whose reading preference I know.

Challenges:
The Pulitzer Project (5 out of 5 Books)
Library Challenge (17 out of 25 Books)

Rewards:
James Tait Black Memorial Prize (2006)
Pulitzer Prize (2007)
Times Magazine's Best Book of the Year (2006)

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.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Rating: 5 out of 5
Pages: 308
Genre: Non-Fiction (Memoir)
Publication Date: 1947


Synopsis (From Google Books):
Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank's remarkable diary has since become a world classic -- a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the "Secret Annex" of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

Review:

When I review "Beloved" by Toni Morrison back in February. I told the story about how my grandmother use to try and force me to read books written by black authors when I was younger. The one book that I remember that my grandmother tried to get me to read that was not by or about black people was Anne Frank's Diary. I honestly remember reading the first few entries and thinking that the it was boring and putting it aside to never be opened again. Fast forward between 10 to 15 years later and I decide to add it to my reading list because of the Round The World Challenge. And boy, I was not disappointed.

"Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl" is to powerful to be adequately expressed in words. In fact it was so powerful that I finished reading it one June 8th and am just attempting to write a review. At the end I was in tears and so sad. The power in the story is not just not that Anne Frank dies in a concentration camp (I don't think this is a spoiler since it should be common knowledge) but in the hope and fear that Frank express throughout the diary.

The story is compelling because Anne Frank the reader gets to see a 13 year old girl develop while hiding in a back attic (apartment) during the holocaust. The reader gets to see her go though all the emotional and developmental changes that teenage girls go through. They get to read about her dream of being a reporter. Her appreciation for the Dutch people for not only hiding them but taking them in as refuges before the Germans conquered the country. Anne expresses her disassociation with her parents and the mixed feelings that age and Independence bring to the parent-child relationship. It is all there pain, hope, frustration, happiness.

Even knowing how Anne's story ends I couldn't help but hoping for her.

On another note: I really enjoy reading not only nonfiction books but also historical fiction but sometimes they put the world in order. For instance I know the time period that the holocaust happen. I know about Gandhi. But to put them together and to see how Gandhi's words affected Anne Frank and her family is eye opening. When in school there is a tendency to look at bits and pieces of history and disconnect places and events. Reading story like this mesh them together and gives people a boarder more encompassing view of the world.

Pros: Writing, Characters, Everything
Cons: Sad


Overall Recommendation:

I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It is most definitely now a favorite book. It is a real tear jerkier so keep a box of tissues with you and don't read it in a public place.

Challenges:
Decades '09 (6 out of 9 books)
Library Challenge (16 out of 25 books)
Round the World Challenge (6 out of 18 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.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Finds: June 26

It is once again time for me to update my TBR pile with the help of Friday Finds hosted by Should Be Reading.

This week I decided to go with a theme of sorts. All the books that I am going to include in this Friday Find are from Becky's Book Review. Becky does a great job of reviewing books and reads a lot of young a
dult fiction. I don't read that much Y
oung Adult stuff, so this a great way for me to place some on
my TBR pile.


"They Called Me Red" by Christina Kilbourne did not recieve a glowing recommendation from Becky. But I think that is what caught my attention. The young adult books that I have read so far (in my adult years) have been really like reads without heavy subject matter and I am interested in seeing how heavier stuff is handled in young adult fiction.

Summary (from Google Books):

They didn't have the perfect life, but it was their life: Devon's and his dad's. Then Lily came along, enchanting his father with her shy glances, spicy cooking, and exotic teas. Devon has a bad feeling about this new woman who seems endearing one minute, ice cold the next. It isn't until Devon finds himself in an unfamiliar room in an unfamiliar country that he starts to realize just what type of person Lily is and what she is capable of. Clinging to thoughts of his father and of home, he fights to find hope while living a nightmare.




"Beneath My Mother's Feet" by Amjed Oamar caught my attention because it is set in Pakistan. I don't think that I have ever read a story set in Pakistan before and I am trying to broaden my reading borders to countries outside of the US and England. Becky's summary of this story really caught my attention.

Summary (from Google Books):

Nazia doesn't mind when her friends tease and call her a good beti, a dutiful daughter. Growing up in a working-class family in Karachi,
Pakistan, Nazia knows that obedience is the least she can give to her mother, who has spent years saving and preparing for her dowry. But every daughter must grow up, and for fourteen-year-old Nazia that day arrives suddenly when her father gets into an accident at work, and her family finds themselves without money for rent or food.

Being the beti that she is, Nazia drops out of school to help her mother clean houses, all the while wondering when she managed to lose control of her life that had been full of friends and school. Working as a maid is a shameful obligation that could be detrimental to her future -- after all, no one wants a housekeeper for a daughter-in-law. As Nazia finds herself growing up much too quickly, the lessons of hardship that seem unbearable turn out to be a lot more liberating than she ever imagined.

"Winnie's War" by Jenne Moss is a great combination for a book subject. It is historical fiction (which I enjoy) and it is about disease (which I also enjoy). The other thing that caught me about this book was the questions that Becky asked in regards to it. Her questions made me want to find out what Winnie went through and how she dealt.

Summary (from Google Books):

A debut novel set against the backdrop of the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.

Life in Winnie’s sleepy town of Coward Creek, Texas, is just fine for her. Although her troubled mother’s distant behavior has always worried Winnie, she’s plenty busy caring for her younger sisters, going to school, playing chess with Mr. Levy, and avoiding her testy grandmother. Plus, her sweetheart Nolan is always there to make her smile when she’s feeling low. But when the Spanish Influenza claims its first victim, lives are suddenly at stake, and Winnie has never felt so helpless. She must find a way to save the people she loves most, even if doing so means putting her own life at risk.

Winnie’s take-charge attitude will empower and inspire readers, as Jenny Moss’s lyrical writing beautifully captures the big-time worries of a small-town girl.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Rating: 4 out of 5 Books
Pages: 270
Genre: Adult (Classic)
Series: No
Publication Date: 1920

Synopsis (From Back of Cover):
Newland Archer saw little to envy in the marriages of his friends. yet he prided himself that in the tender and impressionable May Welland he had found the companion of his needs. The engagement was announced discreetly, but all of New York society was soon privy to this most prefect match, a union of families and circumstance cemented by affection.

Enter Countess Olenska, a woman not afraid to flount convention and determined to find freedom in divorce. Newland, though drawn to the socially ostracized Ellen Olenska, knows that in sweet-tempered May he can expect stability and the steadying comfort of duty. But what new worlds could he discover with Ellen? Written with elegance and wry precision, Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece is a tragic love story and a powerful homily about the perils of a prefect marriage.
Review:
After reading The Age of Innocence I can understand why it is considered a classic. The writing is excellent. It is elegant. But since this book was written of 80 years ago, it makes it harder to read. In fact it was slow going. It wasn't that Wharton used words unfamiliar to me but the style made me slow down and absorb what was being written and going on.

I am going to say that this is a character based novel. While not as in depth John Steinbeck's East of Eden, the characters (mainly Archer and Olenska) take center stage. I would love to say that I really felt in touch with the characters and that I loved them but I was rather indifferent to them. Maybe because this is a story about old New York society and it's inhabitants and I just couldn't wait. But Wharton does put a lot of emphasis of making sure the reader knows and understands the characters and there actions.

The plot of the books was familiar but excellently done. Basically it is a story about "forbidden love" and the chooses people make in their lives and how those chooses affect them later. I am not going to give the story way but I did enjoy getting to take a glimpse into the varies rules of old New York and how they dictates ones actions and decisions.

Pros: Writing, Characters, Plot, History
Cons: Slow read

Overall Recommendation:

I want to give this novel a great write up but I don't know how to express who much I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed it more for the writing than anything else. For you want to read a well written story than this is it. But if you are looking for action or drama, than skip it.

Challenges:
Through The Decades '09 (6 out of 9 Books)
The Pulitzer Project (4 Out of 5 Books)
1% Well Read (5 Out of 12 Books)
Library Challenge (15 Out of 25 Books)

Rewards:
Pulitzer Prize (Novel, 1921)

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.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

48 Hour Book Challenge: Completed (Summary)

I am happy to announce that I have finished the 48 Hour Book Challenge. While I didn't pull in some of the amazing numbers as some of the other participants, I am proud of what I did.

My original plan was to continue reading tonight until I completed Anne Frank but I am exhusted. And that books takes a lot of energy, emotional. I just don't think that I have it in me to continue tonight.

Start Time: 7:30 pm Friday
End Time: 7:30 pm Sunday
Time Elapsed: 48 hours
Time Spent Reading: 18 hours and 20 minutes (Read 38% of the time)

Books Read: 2
Extras by Scott Westerfeld (Reviewed)
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Books Started But Not Completed:
Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl (215 Pages out of 308)

Total Pages Read: 758
Pages Per Minute: 1.45

In the Final Two Hours
Pages Read For For This Check In: 75 (Anne Frank)

For those of you still compeleting the challenge good luck and happy reading.

48HBC: 46 Hour Mark


Such a heavy read of the final 2 and 1/2 hours of the challenge. I highly doubt that I will be done by 7:30pm. But I will continue to read until I am finished. I really want to get this book done tonight. So, that I can take it all in and hopefully start fresh again tomorrow (if that is possible).

After Anne Frank, I was suppose to read another memoir dealing with the Holocaust. Instead I will read a light romance novel. I don't think I can tackle another Holocaust read so soon.


Started: 7:30 pm
Time Now: 5:08 pm
Time Elapsed: 45 hours 34 minutes
Time Spent Reading: 16 hours and 20 minutes

Current Book: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Pages: 141 out of 308
Books Read: 2
Pages Read For For This Check In: 71
Total Pages Read: 683

Books Read:
Extras by Scott Westerfeld
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

48HBC: 43 Hour Mark

Currently, I am reading Anne Frank. I have to say that it is a little depressing which is expected. It is very sad to read the words of a teenage Jewish girl during WWII. The contrast between the situation her and her family is in and the difficulties of being a teenager are profound. If this was a fictional encounter I would be rooting for her. But since I already know the outcome, it is disturbing, to read someone hopes for the future and know that for them there is no happy ending..

I fear that I am not going to be able to finish the four books that I set out to finish during this challenge. But will at least get three of them read.
Started: 7:30 pm
Time Now: 2:0 am
Time Elapsed: 43 hours minutes
Time Spent Reading: 14 hours and 20 minutes

Current Book: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Pages: 70 out of 308
Books Read: 2
Pages Read For For This Check In: 70
Total Pages Read: 682

Books Read:
Extras by Scott Westerfeld
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Extras by Scott Westerfeld

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Pages: 417
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Uglies Trilogy (Book 4 out of 4)
Publication Date: 2007

Synopsis (From Inside Cover):
It's a few years after rebel Tally Youngblood took down the uglies/pretties/specials regime. Without those strict roles and rules, the world is in a complete cultural renaissance. "Tech-heads" flaunt their latest gadgets, "kickers" spread gossip and trends, and "surge monkeys" are hooked on extreme plastic surgery. And it's all monitored on a bazillion different cameras. The world is like a gigantic game of American Idol. Who ever is getting the most buzz gets the most votes. Popularity rules.

As if being fifteen doesn't suck enough, Aya Fuse's rand of 451,369 is so low, she's a total nobody. An extra. Her only chance to escape extra-land is to find a big story to kick - something wild and unexpected.

Then Aya meets a clique of girls who pull crazy tricks, yet are deeply secretive of it. But the Sly Girls are hiding something bigger - an explosive discovery that may change the face of the brave new world forever. If Aya kicks this story, she'll be propelled into the world of fame, celebrity... and extreme danger. A world she's not prepared for.
Review:

This is the last book in the Uglies Trilogy. While the other three books dealt with Tally Youngblood and her fight to save the world from "bubbleheadness", this book deals with the aftermath. As the description states the main character in this book is Aya, a fifteen year old year. And just like Tally, Aya is bored and waiting to be able to get her surgery. Just like the other books, the idleness, boredom and need to belong propelled the teen into an adventure (except replace Tally with Aya).

I think that I should first start off by saying that this is my most favorite book in the "trilogy". Westerfeld uses the same formula as before but I think the cast of character introduced in this installment were more well rounded and thought out. I like Aya a little more than I like Tally. I think that was because she was a little more independent. While she did follow the larger crowd, she wasn't somebodies sidekick (I think Tally was more like Shay's sidekick). I also think that the other more minor character were more three demoniacal than in the other three books.

What made me really enjoy this books was that it was that I liked the action much more than the first three. It seemed from the start that something was happening. It made the book an enjoyable fast read. I hated to put it down at some points because I wanted to see what was going to happen.

One of the main short falls was that there was no clear indication of location. At the start of the book you are made to feel that Aya is in the same "Prettytown" environment that Tally was in the first three books. But then there are little hints that contradict this. Later, in the novel you find out that Aya is actually in Japan, a completely different country than in the first books. While this might seem like a minor thing, it does mess with the story a little and is confusing. In the first books, I felt like the appearance was given that the worlds population had dwindled to the point were same groups of people were living in a set region (North America) and the rest of the world had effective been destroyed. The survivors were scattered into cities (communities) across North America and were governed by one body. That turns out not to be the case. Instead, some nations did survive and they all somehow were able to develop together (ie, share technology). But the first books gives the impression that present day technology was completed destroyed and the world had to start over. Just a little confusing, but not a major part of the story. Until language barriers come into play, when Tally and Aya meet for the first time.

Another problem that I had and this is with might be a problem in a lot of young adult books is with romantic relationships. They seem to happen so fast and become very intense in a short amount of time. Aya meets her love interest at a party. She sees him only one additional time before they have an altercation and he claims that he feels like he doesn't really know who she is. Of course, he doesn't know who she is they have only spoken twice to each other. The relationship went from 0 to 60 in two encounters (not dates, but somewhat random meetings). I don't think it is realistic.

Westerfeld, also, continued with the annoying slang usage. It is not as pronounced in this book as in the others. But it is there and nerve wracking. It also leaves the impression that Aya and Tally are from the same place and culture.

I am going to stop here. Because I am finding myself about to pick apart a book that I enjoyed overall. As I am writing this I am finding more and more flaws. And I keep forgetting that this is a "young adult" novel. And probably appears to the "tween" age group. Not old ladies in their late twenties.

Pros: Action, Characters, Plot
Cons: Romantic Relationship , Location Confusion, Slang

Overall Recommendation:

Only read if you have read the other books in the series. The background is very helpful to understand what is going on in the story. There is a little of a refresher in the novel as it progresses but not enough to make everything clear. It is also really easy, light, enjoyable fast pace read.

Challenges:
Library Challenge (14 out of 25 Books)
Series Challenge (8 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 so, I can link back to you.

48HBC: 39 Hours


I just finished up reading "The Age of Innocence" Edith Wharton and I was really impressed. I didn't think that I would enjoy the book as much as I did but it surprised me. Time to start on Anne Frank

I realized last night after my check in that my page count was wrong. I have updated and corrected it for this post. When looking at my record keeping I am disappointed about how little of my time has been spent reading. I have spent less then half of the last 39 hours reading. But real life gets in the way. I am impressed about the number of books (2) that I completed. Especially since one was a classic and very "literary".

I am now going to spend the next hour or so writing reviews and updating my Shelfari, Goodreads, and LibraryThing pages.

Started: 7:30 pm
Time Now: 10:34 am
Time Elapsed: 39 hours 4 minutes
Time Spent Reading: 12 hours and 20 minutes

Current Book: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Pages: 0 out of 308
Books Read: 2
Pages Read For For This Check In: 70
Total Pages Read: 612

Books Read:
Extras by Scott Westerfeld
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Saturday, June 6, 2009

48HBC: 27 Hour Mark


I didn't get that much reading done. My roommate was hosting her nieces party and I decided to be social and I want get that much reading done tonight. I am very tired now and I doubt that I will be able to read until 2am like yesterday night. Since, I almost fell asleep reading Extras, but I did finish the book.

Overall, I thought that "Extras" was good. It maybe the best book in the series. Or the second best.

Started: 7:30 pm Friday
Time Now: 11:35 pm Saturday
Time Elapsed: 27 hours 05 minutes
Time Spent Reading: 10 hours and 20 minutes

Current Book: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Pages: 200 out of 270
Books Read: 1
Pages Read For For This Check In: 85
Total Pages Read: 481

Books Read:
Extras by Scott Westerfeld

48HBC: 24 Hour Mark

Techincally, I still have another 30 minutes before the 24 hour mark but I plan to be reading then so I am going to do it now.

The last two hours have been great reading wise. I have almost finished all of Extras. I am really enjoying the story despite so of the minor flaws that I have found. But overall, I think it is really good.

Started: 7:30 pm
Time Now: 7:00 pm
Time Elapsed: 23 hours 30 minutes
Time Spent Reading: 8 hours and 50 minutes

Current Book: Extras by Scott Westerfeld
Pages: 332 out of 417
Books Read: 0
Pages Read For For This Check In: 117
Total Pages Read: 396

48HBC: 21 Hour Mark

So, the brunch that I went to lasted the whole day. Which is not bad when you are not doing a weekend reading challenge. I got to read a little in the car but not much.

I am going to guess that I read a total of 39 minutes while I was away. That is based on that I read 39 pages and it takes me about a minute to read one page in Extras.

Started: 7:30 pm
Time Now: 4:45 pm
Time Elapsed: 21 hours 15 minutes
Time Spent Reading: 7 hours and 24 minutes

Current Book: Extras by Scott Westerfeld
Pages: 214 out of 417
Books Read: 0
Pages Read For This Check In: 34
Total Pages Read: 313