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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Book Review - Genesis: A Novel by Bernard Beckett


Title:
Genesis: A Novel
Author: Bernard Beckett
Year: 2009
Page: 150
Genre: Fiction - Dystopian, Sci-Fi

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Yes
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? Future
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from amazon.com):
Anax, the dedicated student historian at the center of Beckett's brutal dystopian novel, lives far in the future—the distant past events of the 21st century are taught in classrooms. The world of that era, we learn, was ravaged by plague and decay, the legacy of the Last War. Only the island Republic, situated near the bottom of the globe, remained stable and ordered, but at the cost of personal freedom. Anax, hoping her scholarly achievements will gain her entrance to the Academy, which rules her society, has extensively studied Adam Forde, a brilliant and rebellious citizen of the Republic who fought for human dignity in the midst of a regimented, sterile society. To join the Academy's ranks, Anax undergoes a test before three examiners, and as the examination progresses, it becomes clear that her interpretations of Adam's life defy conventional thought and there may be more to Adam—and the Academy—than she had imagined. Though the trappings of Beckett's dystopian society feel perhaps too Brave New World, the rigorous narrative and crushing final twist bring a welcome freshness to a familiar setup.

First Sentence:
Anax moved down the long corridor.

Why did I pick this book?
Saw it on the library's new release shelf. The cover attracted me to read the blurb. The premise sounds interesting - there is a sci-fi sticker on the book, which usually is not my genre, but I'm trying to read books I don't typically pick. Plus this is a thin book, shouldn't waste too much time if I don't like it? A few days after I borrowed the book, I saw a couple of blog reviews that showed not many people had read this one.

My thoughts:
  • I thought there would be more happening - but the whole book was about that entrance exam. I'd say it was a little slow at time, but I kept reading since it's a thin book...

  • I DO like the ending, which I thought made up for the slowness of the book. The concept of the book was also quite fascinating

  • For a dystopian book, I liked The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist or The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson better, though all 3 books are quite different in their nature


Quote
May scholars have complained of our tendency to see history only in conflicts, but I am not convinced they are right. It is in conflict that our values are exposed. (p88)

I try not to be surprised. Surprise is the public face of a mind that has been closed. (p123)

"I have learned to value the things others are reluctant to give." (p127)


Rating:




Have you read this book? 
If you have, I would love to hear what you think!
I'll link your review here if you wish!


Challenges:
100+ Reading

Monday, February 22, 2010

Catching up on your blogs...

Okay, I just realized I subscribed to 207 book blogs (plus numerous other blogs on food, home decoration, etc etc). I had over 1000+ posts I hadn't read (just on the book ones) and now I'm down to 722 unread book blog posts... getting there!! (It may not look like I "follow" a lot of blogs using Google Friends, but I use RSS Google Reader...)

Definitely having a slow month of reading too. I read 12 in January, and read 5 so far in Feb... hopefully can squeeze in a few more.

Musing - Book Cover Art: The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control by Ted Striphas

 

  • I loved this cover the first time I saw it at the library - I think it's my love for books, and how a book can be turned into an art/sculpture piece!
  • It reminded me of some book art I saw on Etsy (seller: theshophouse) - isn't it beautiful?

Chinese Book Review - 三毛傳

 

三毛傳 (San-mao chuan / Biography of Sanmao)

By 孫永超, 陸士清, 楊幼力

  • I'd read a few books by popular Taiwanese author Sanmao/Echo Chan when I was in High School, but I don't really remember much about them. I knew she committed suicide a while back, and that her love story with Spaniard Jose was famous among the Chinese people

  • I decided to read this book just to learn more about her as I love reading about writer's life, and I found out there were lots that I didn't know about - she stopped going to school after 8th grade (and what a cruel math teacher she had!), her depression and other mental health issues, why she traveled to 59 countries including the Sahara Dessrt (her memoir about her life in the Sahara Desert was what made her famous), how she and Jose met... it was a fascinating story. It is just so sad that she ended her own life at aged 48, but she was definitely a troubled soul... even when she was just 12.

  • I don't think any of her books had been translated into English. I should see if the library has any of her books in Chinese... I think when I read them now I'll have a better understanding of her stories

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Book Review - 206 Bones (Temperance Brennan #12) by Kathy Reichs


Title:
206 Bones (Temperance Brennan #12)
Author: Kathy Reichs
Year: 2009
Page: 320
Genre: Fiction - Murder / Mystery / Thriller

New to me author? No
Read this author again? Maybe
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? US/Canada
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from amazon.com):
At the start of bestseller Reichs's outstanding 12th thriller to feature Dr. Temperance Brennan (after Devil Bones), Brennan finds herself bound and injured in an underground tomb. In flashbacks, Reichs fills in the how and why of the forensic anthropologist's deadly predicament. When Brennan and Andrew Ryan of the Sûreté du Québec arrive in Chicago on business, she's accused of botching the autopsy of Rose Jurmain, a Canadian heiress. Knowing only that an anonymous caller instigated the investigation, Brennan is determined to uncover who's out to sabotage her. Back in her Montreal lab, Brennan soon realizes that not only is Jurmain's death possibly linked to the brutal murders of other elderly women but that whoever is out to tarnish her reputation refuses to back off. With her usual blend of cutting-edge forensic science and a stubborn, compelling heroine, Reichs manages to juggle several story lines without losing an ounce of momentum.

First Sentence:
Cold.

Why did I pick this book?
I have read other books in the series and enjoyed them, so naturally I reserved this book when I saw it came out!

My thoughts:
  • I am actually surprised that I couldn't finish this book, as I have enjoyed others in the series. I didn't mind that she included technical details in the book (in fact, that's how I usually like these types of books as I get to learn something scientific) but I just found the story too jumpy between past and present. With the few chapters that I read, the story just didn't grab me or kept me interested enough to find out more. Plus there were other books waiting for me to read... so why waste my time. Perhaps I just wasn't in the mood for it?

  • I really enjoyed the TV series ("Bones"), and while the books have really nothing in common with the TV series apart from the main female character's name, I am still disappointed that I had to abandon this book. I hope her future books will keep me interested - it reminded me of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series - I really enjoyed the earlier novels, but the latest ones just seemed "too formula" that I didn't know if I'd keep trying and wishing and hoping that it'd go back to the old way.


Rating:



Did Not Finish




Have you read this book? 
If you have, I would love to hear what you think!
I'll link your review here if you wish!

Book Review - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert Pirsig


Title:
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
Author: Robert Pirsig
Year: 1974
Page: 464
Genre: Fiction - autobiographical

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? No
Tearjerker? Not with what I read
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from amazon.com):
A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions on how to live. The narrator's relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reckoning; the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion, and humanism. Resonant with the confusions of existence, this classic is a touching and transcendent book of life.

First Sentence:
I can see my watch, without taking my hand from the left grip of the cycle, that it is eight-thirty in the morning.

Why did I pick this book?
Book Club choice for February.

My thoughts:
  • I only read 3 chapters and couldn't finish, for several reasons... the 3 chapters I read bored me... I had other books I really wanted to read... the edition I got had really small font and was an old copy, which made it rather difficult to read... yes excuses, excuses, excuses... but hey I did read 3 other more fun books :)

  • Only 1 person from the book club (out of 7 people there) finished the book, but we had a lively discussion. The host talked more about the author's life, which was more interesting than the 3 chapters I read! Other editions of the book also included some more updated info about what happened to the author and son, and again, it was more interesting...

  • I think if I had a better version of the book, and if I didn't have other books waiting for me to read, I may have read a few more chapters. But now since I know what happened in the end or just knowing the gist of the story, I am happy enough that I don't feel like I need to read it

Rating:
 
Did Not Finish


Have you read this book? 
If you have, I would love to hear what you think!
I'll link your review here if you wish!

Book Review - Knives at Dawn: America's Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition by Andrew Friedman


Title:
Knives at Dawn: America's Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition
Author: Andrew Friedman
Year: 2009
Page: 320
Genre: Non-Fiction: Food

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Maybe
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? US, Lyon
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from amazon.com):
Every two years, chefs from around the world gather to compete in the Bocuse d'Or, a grueling cooking competition that gives participants just five and a half hours to prepare a full menu of elaborate fish and meat dishes (with their own choice of supporting ingredients). As the 2009 contest drew near, restaurateurs Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller were determined the U.S. would send a team that could finally bring back a medal; Friedman follows the quest through the selection of two cooks from Keller's French Laundry and stays with them until the final showdown. It's great fly-on-the-wall reporting that captures both the obsessive, perfectionist mindset of great chefs and their creative spontaneity under pressure—as small a matter as the sudden, intuitive selection of celeriac as an ingredient in a tart becomes a moment of high drama. The pace is relentless, but Friedman's observations of Timothy Hollingworth and his assistant, Adina Guest, as they struggle to rise to the challenge will have foodies riveted all the way through. Even those who don't care about the intricate details of a nine-course meal could learn something about entrepreneurship and project management from this story.

First Sentence:
One of the harsh realities of every chef's life is that, at the end of each day, he will be judged.

Why did I pick this book?
Book about food competition - I haven't read on this topic before and it sounded like fun! I'd just finished watching Top Chef Season 5 (hadn't watched this show before) so I was in the mood for some books on food :)

My thoughts:
  • The beginning was a little slow and confusing with many names (probably didn't help that I started reading this while nursing a cold, so my concentration wasn't as good as usual) but it did get better later once I figured out who-is-who. As much as I like reading about food, I don't know a lot of chef names... I wish there was a list of character in the beginning or something to make it easier to follow who these people were. While I didn't watch Top Chef Season 3 - the winner of that season did appear in Season 5, and made an appearance in the book, so it was fun to see the connection. The book also briefly mentioned Top Chef.

  • Food competition is intense!!! It was amazing all the preparation that went into it - not just the food itself, but all the other organization and preparation

  • I wish there were more photos (especially close up) of the food mentioned! I am not familiar with a lot of food terminology (especially French) so it'd have helped to have a bit more guidance. Better yet, this probably would have been more fun if this book was a documentary - actually they did plan on making one, but decided to scrap the idea, which was a shame.

  • Definitely made you appreciate the food that you eat when you go to the restaurants!

  • Warning! They have some pictures in the middle of the book, don't look at the pictures (especially the last page) or you'll know who won the competition. I looked at the pictures once I found out who the USA rep was, but didn't look at the very last picture (the one at the bottom) as that one showed who got gold/silver/bronze.

Quote

As for the food, in competition a combination of textures is essential: the three primary ones being "crisp/crunchy, meaty, and soft." By way of illustration, Henin pointed out that apple pie a la mode, which he described as the most popular dessert in the world, has all three: the crust is crunchy, the apple is meaty, and the ice cream is soft. (48-49)


Rating:



Have you read this book? 
If you have, I would love to hear what you think!
I'll link your review here if you wish!


Challenges:
100+ Reading

Book Review - The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist


Title:
The Unit
Author: Ninni Holmqvist (Translater: Marlaine Delargy)
Year: 2009
Page: 272
Genre: Fiction - Dystopian

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Yes
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? Sweden
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary:
I don't want to post the summary here because it'll spoil the novel... This really is a book you better not know anything about it and just read it!

First Sentence:
It was more comfortable than I could have imagined.

Why did I pick this book?
Read several reviews on different blogs and thought the premise sounded interesting.

My thoughts:
  • I liked this novel a lot - I am not into sci-fi book and I wouldn't really call this sci-fi because it is quite realistic, which makes it rather terrifying. I wish I didn't know much about the plot so I'd be a bit more surprised by what this book had to deliver

  • The only nitpick - I am not 100% about the ending. I thought it was an okay ending, and understood why the author chose it is, but I thought it is not as powerful as it could have been - now, I don't know how it could possibly end to have more impact (I have an idea in my head but of course didn't know all the details) just that it seems a little anti-climatic. But, it was still an okay ending. At least I didn't feel like tossing the book across the room :)

  • I thought the translation was done quite well - I'd read some other translated books before where the language seemed too literal. When I read this book, it didn't make me feel like I was reading a translated book at all

  • This was a thought provoking story - how would you feel if we do live in a society like so? I think what makes it horrifying is that at first glimpse, you almost felt like, hey this may not be a bad idea at all... that you saw value in an arrangement like so... but of course, when you think deeper, there were a lot of ethical issues involved...


Quote
"I know it sounds crazy, but that's just how the human psyche works: we generally see what we are prepared for, what we expect to see." (p203)

"You have given my life a meaning, do you know that? The meaning of my life is you." (p216)





Rating:


You may also like these books:


The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson




Challenges:
100+ Reading

Book Review - The Promise: How One Woman Made Good on Her Extraordinary Pact to Send a Classroom of 1st Graders to College by Oral Lee Brown


Title:
The Promise: How One Woman Made Good on Her Extraordinary Pact to Send a Classroom of 1st Graders to College
Author: Oral Lee Brown
Year: 2005
Page: 272
Genre: Non-fiction - Memoir, Education

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Maybe
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? Oakland, CA, USA
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from amazon.com):
In 1987, haunted by a little girl begging for food in her East Oakland neighborhood, Brown impulsively adopted a first-grade class at a local elementary school. Having promised to finance a college education for each of the 23 students, on a salary of only $45,000 a year, Brown pledged to save $10,000 each year. The pledge strained her marriage and committed her to working several jobs. But 12 years later, using her personal investment and funds raised through the Oral Lee Brown Foundation, she made good on her promise--sending 19 of the 23 students to college. In this astonishing account, Brown recalls how she managed to keep in touch with the students, who were from unstable families and a disadvantaged neighborhood, developing strong personal ties with each of her "babies" and keeping them on track for college. Brown has extended her promise to a new crop of students. An inspirational look at the determination of one woman to make a difference in her community and in the lives of disadvantaged children.

First Sentence:
One night in December 1987, I hid in my car while the media hunted all over Oakland, California for me.

Why did I pick this book?
Browsing in a nearby shelf in the library, read the inside flap of the book and thought the premise sounds interesting - I mean, really, sending 23 kids to college?

My thoughts:
  • This is definitely an inspirational story. Apart from the initial financial commitment of $10000 a year, Oral Lee Brown invested a lot EMOTIONALLY as well - she became a second mum to the kids, she arranged college tour, she spent time to the kids and listened to their problems, she met with their principals and teachers, she arranged tutoring... while she still had to take care of her own family and managed her own career(s)

  • The writing and content sometimes were a bit repetitive, but her personality shone through. You could almost hear her talking to you.

  • You can find more information on her foundation at http://www.oralleebrownfoundation.org/

  • I wish there were more pictures in the book, or include some testimonies from her "babies" (the kids who benefited from the program)


Quote

I'm a firm believer that kids fail because we don't teach them how to succeed. It's as simple as that. If you walked into a first-grade classroom at Brookfield Elementary and asked the students how many of them wanted to be dummies when they grew up, they would laugh you right out of there. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to be a dummy. (p6)

"It's amazing that you're willing to make sacrifices for these children," they said. I thanked them and said it wouldn't be a sacrifice, because whenever you give up something to help others you don't really lose anything. (p45)


Rating:



Have you read this book? 
If you have, I would love to hear what you think!
I'll link your review here if you wish!


Challenges:
100+ Reading
Memorable Memoir

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Busy busy busy

Sorry I haven't had a chance to reply your comments or visit anyone's blogs for a while... had a busy week at work, and I hadn't had much time to read! Plus I was busy watching Lost Season 4 (need to return the DVDs to the library...)

Hopefully later this week I'll have a bit more time...

To do:
  • reply comments
  • visit blogs
  • 3 book review
  • 2 DNF (Did not finish) review
  • find time to read

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Book Cover Musing

Is it just me? Every time I see this cover, I thought I was staring at Angelina Jolie.

Too Funny - LOST vs. Avatar

I never thought I'd be so addicted to LOST! Love that show - but I had only watched 3 seasons (about to watch Season 4) so need to be careful when I read about LOST online. I have to say after Season 3, I am not liking Jack very much... I am amazed though how the writers can weaved a story within a story within a story and how everyone is all somehow connected. Talk about being creative and imaginative!

I'd also watched Avatar - while I thought it was quite good visually, the storyline was too predictable for me. Was fun to watch it in 3D.

So when I saw Books Are My Only Friends posted a really funny link called LOL: LOST vs. Avatar (Direct link here), I had to go take a looksy! So true, so true!

Book Reviews by Author (Non-Fiction)

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Book Review - Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon


Title:
Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story
Author: Carolyn Turgeon
Year: 2009
Page: 288
Genre: Fiction

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Possibly
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from amazon.com):
In a decidedly different take on Cinderella, Turgeon limns the travails of Lil, the fairy godmother chosen to ensure that, because she is fated to marry the prince, Cinderella gets to the ball. Lil, however, lets herself feel human emotions, falls in love with the prince, and goes to the ball in Cinderella’s place. The fairy elders banish her to the human world, where she lives, wings furled and bound behind her back, as an old woman working in a tiny Manhattan rare-book store. This take on the tale unfolds in alternating first-person accounts, one of Lil in the past, the other of Lil in the present, yearning to rejoin her sister and friends in the fairy world and finding a way to redeem herself when she meets Veronica, a vibrant young woman, and realizes that by finding a soul mate for Veronica, she could make up for that night so long ago. Lil is complex and appealing, and vivid imagery and lyrical writing give shape to a charmer with a very satisfying, enigmatic ending.

First Sentence:
I loved arriving at the bookstore first thing in the morning, when the streets were still quiet, the sun half risen, and the whole place felt like a secret meeting room.

Why did I pick this book?
Read Stephanie's Written Word's review and thought re-telling of a fairy tale is something I had not read before, so willing to give it a try!

My thoughts:
  • Book lovers will be charmed by the first few pages - which one of us wouldn't want to work in a book store where the books are loved? (An independent one too! One that has rare and used books!) 
  •  
  • I really liked the concept of the book. I read that some reviewers didn't like the ending. I thought the ending was a bit abrupt and a little unclear (needed to google to make sure I understood what happened correctly - I did, but it was an educated guess). I can certainly understand why others didn't like how it ended (again, can't elaborate to avoid spoilers), however I actually quite liked it and thought it was successful because it was unexpected. Definitely a memorable one. The ending really makes or breaks a story doesn't it?

  • I liked the characters - who wouldn't want a grandma like Lil, a friend like Veronica (or hairstylist!), a significant other like George... but they had their faults and were not perfect, which made them more realistic

  • The reason I only gave it 3.5 instead of 4 stars was because I felt the book could be shorter. I found it was a bit too descriptive that I skimmed through some paragraphs just to find out what happened next. I guess I just like books that are concise and to the point, but not boring or too "sterile". Also, the story alternated between past and present, but it wasn't clear at first and got a bit confusing - I guess I am one of those that like to have each chapter labeled "past" or "present" - it doesn't always work with such labels (i.e. if the author doesn't want to spoil the surprise for the readers... e.g. like the author wanted you to think it happened now but it actually happened in the past, or vice versa) but for this book I don't think it posed a problem. It'll just make the story easier to follow

  • Have you read other books that are re-telling of other famous stories? I don't believe I have (I remember someone told me about a humorous book that is a collection of the supposedly true stories behind these tales - Little Red Ridding Hood may be one story in the book - but I don't remember what it's called... it has probably been 16 years since I heard of it) Would love to have some recommendations! I love hearing stories from different perspectives :)

  • This book was a fun read, but also not a fun read... hate speaking in riddles, but that's exactly how I felt about it (explanation = spoilers)

  • I also don't think the cover really portrayed the book well... it's a difficult book to design a cover for I think - to not give the story away - and see what I said above? It's a fun book and not a fun book - so do you make the cover fun? Or not fun?

  • The quote is a bit long - but I have always wondered the same. Many of you probably do too

Quote
I loved the scribbles in the margins, the notes in the front of the books that told their stories, the ways they passed from one person to another. "To Jennifer, Christmas 1921. May these words stay with you." The stray phrases and numbers jotted on the side of a page -- "Indian Taj, 74th Street" emerging from the margins of Utopia, "BUY PUMPKINS" blaring up at me from the back cover of To the Lighthouse. As I sat behind the register, carefully erasing the penciled marks, I felt as if each book had a secret to tell, only to me.

In this one, my favorite one, someone had scribbled on the inside of the back cover, in French, "Tous mes anciens amours vont me revenir."


All my old loves will be returned to me.


I had often imagined who had written it, the faded pencil, the strange scrawl. Sometimes I imagined a young girl, daydreaming. Sometimes an old woman like me, left with nothing but memories. I wondered what had happened to the woman, if she'd ended up having a life rich with love or if she'd lived how I had lived, starving and alone. It could have been anything, an artist's note or a quote to tell a friend, but I felt I could see this woman, her face lit with hope, the pencil poised in her hand like a swooping bird. (p3-4)

Rating:



Have you read this book? 
If you have, I would love to hear what you think!
I'll link your review here if you wish!


Challenges:
100+ Reading
Bibliophilic Books
Take Another Chance

Book Review - The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson


Title:
The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Author: Mary E Pearson
Year: 2009
Page: 272
Genre: Fiction - Yound Adult, Dystopian

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Yes
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from amazon.com):
Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

First Sentence:
I used to be someone.

Why did I pick this book?
Read reviews on several blogs (sorry, didn't write down which blog) and it sounds interesting. Plus I need some YA for my YA Challenge!

My thoughts:
  • I read the hardcover version of this book - which was the one with the butterfly on it. While the white paperback cover might be a bit more eye-catching, I thought the butterfly goes with the story better as it was an important part of the book, as was the hand. What do yo think? I always wonder why they have different covers for hardcover and paperback? Anyone know why? I know they may have different covers (and/or titles) for different countries as different market has different taste... does the same hold true for hardcover and paperback?

  • While I didn't love this book, I did quite like it. The reason I didn't love it is that I could guess where the plot was going and how it was going to end (while I am not always right at guessing, I was this time.) But, it was good to have the affirmation that my guess was correct, and that it had a logical explanation

  • It's definitely a book that made you think. Most books probably make you think what you'd do if you were the protagonist.. but this book made me think of what I'd do for many characters as they all had some kind of decisions to make. What if you were... Jenna? Her parents? Her grandmother? Her friend Allys? Allys' parents? Her friend Ethan?

  • I thought her grandmother Lily was an interesting character in how she treated her daughter, and her granddaughter. Since I am not a mother, let alone a grandmother, I wonder about the type of relationship between grandmother/mother/daughter. I can't elaborate more without giving spoilers, but if you have read this book you'd probably know what I mean around the theme of what parents would do for their child

  • The question I have was about two other characters who were Jenna's friends (their name started with D and G... again, avoiding potential spoiler here!) - it seemed like the former would have a more important role? But D just disappeared after the last interaction with Jenna and it was never really explained what made D so different. As for G - it almost seemed like G was an extra character that could have been omitted (unless I am missing something significant?)

  • And when I finished the book, I had to chuckle (oops, am I sounding too much like Edward from Twilight? After I read Twilight, I thought Edward chuckled A LOT, like, every second page... anyway I digress)... it is almost the as though the author read my review of Liar and ended this book the way I said Liar should have :) Interestingly, both books were published in the same month and same year (Sept 09)

  • My quotes for this book were more like food for thoughts... I didn't necessarily agree or disagree, but again, this is a book that makes you think


Quote:

The mind is an energy that the brain produces. Think of a glass ball twirling on your fingertip. If it falls, it shatters into a million pieces. All the parts of a ball are still there, but it will never twirl with that force on your fingertip again. The brain is the same way... but the mind, the mind could never be transferred... we found that it is like a spinning glass ball. You have to keep it spinning or it falls and shatters. (p123-124)

They say you can only remember events when you have the words to name them. (p148)

"When I was going through my bitter phase, my counselor told me we're all products of our parents, genes, or environment in one way or another... And I may wish I could change the hand I was dealt, but I can't, so all I can do now is choose how I will play it. So that's what I'm doing. Playing it the best I can." (p168)

Do certain events in our lives leave a permanent mark, freezing a piece of us in time, and that becomes a touchstone that we measure the rest of our lives against? (p221)

Faith and Science, I have learnd, are two sides of the same coin, separated by an expanse so small, but wide enough that one side can't see the other. They don't even know they're connected. Father and Lily were two sides of the same coin, I've decided, and maybe I am the space in between. (p263)


Rating:


You may also like these books:

I can't think of any right now that I'd read that is similar to this book, but I will be reading The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist and Genesis: A Novel by Bernard Beckett soon. I think both are of the same genre (but we'll see!)



If you want to read a YA book about another girl and coma, try If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Have some tissues handy though (for some reasons the book really touched me... probably because I was missing my family and hadn't seen them for several years.) Love the simplicity of the cover!


NOTE - there is a list of Dystopian Literature listed in Wikipedia. I had read 3 - Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Never Let Me Go by by Kazuo Ishiguro (actually did not finish this one). I enjoyed Uglies and may read the rest of the series. I found The Road boring (didn't feel the despair/hope/hopelessness/love...). While I thought the concept of Never Let Me Go very very interesting, the writing was too slow for me and I abandoned it... but I did google to find out what happened. Perhaps it's one of those books that I will have an easier time watching the movie just to know the plot (think The Lord of the Rings, Time Traveler's Wife - I hadn't read the former, but did read the latter.)



Have you read this book? 
If you have, I would love to hear what you think!
I'll link your review here if you wish!


Challenges:
100+ Reading
Young Adult

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book Review - Liar by Justine Larbalestier


 








Title: Liar
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Year: 2009
Page: 384
Genre: Fiction - Young Adult

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Don't know... she said this book is very different to her other books...
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? New York, US (though the author is Australian)
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from amazon.com):
Micah will freely admit that she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she’s always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing? Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them—and herself—that she’s finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.

First Sentence:
I was born with a light covering of fur.

Why did I pick this book?
I became aware of this book when I read about the cover controversy on different blogs (it originally had a Caucasian girl on the cover, when book said she was half African American/half Caucasian), and thought the premise sounds interesting.

My thoughts:
  • Have you ever finished a book, and wanted to toss it across the room? This hardly ever happened to me, but that was exactly how I felt after I was done. The start of this book was so promising (I finished it in one day) but the ending frustrated me so much that I'm giving it 1 star only!

  • A lot of reviews said they like her writing style, but to me, it sounded more like rambling. But I suppose, since the book was written in first person as a 17 year-old girl, that could just be her personality... but I thought this book could well be shorter

  • After the whole book cover controversy, I still think the revised cover didn't really capture Micah (the protagonist) - apart from looking bi-racial, how Micah was described in the book simply didn't match up with the cover (I don't want to explain how they differed - but if you read it, you'd know what I mean)

  • Now - if the ending was different (if it ended the way I'd hope it ended - and nope, that doesn't necessarily mean happy endings, in fact, I usually prefer non-happy endings...), I probably would've given this book 4-4.5 stars. AFTER YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK, YOU CAN COME BACK TO THIS REVIEW AND WE CAN DISCUSS!! :)

  • Interesting tidbit I found from Normal Public Library Teens: Justine Larbalestier is married to Scott Westerfeld, writer of the Uglies and Midnighters trilogies! I have read Uglies, and enjoyed that (may read the rest of the series)

  • It's hard to talk about this book (or explain why I got so frustrated with it) without giving away spoilers - so, SPOILERS ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't read the review below if you don't want to know what happened!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Now supposedly there is this big twist in the book that many people were saying "OMG"! (that Micah said she's a werewolf, p170) - while I didn't guess it, I didn't think it was that big of a deal, so this wasn't what got me frustrated. In fact, I thought they way the she explained the whole werewolf story with menstruation, and how guys couldn't change without girls were kinda interesting, that it could actually be plausible

  • I also don't get the whole attraction among Micah, Sarah and Tayshawn? How did that add to the story? I understood they were all grieving, but huh?

  • What frustrated me was that there was no ending!!! It was way ambiguous. So did she lie about being a werewolf? Did she kill anybody and if so whom? How did she get back to the city from the farm if she had no money? Why did her parents treat her the way they did? How did the brother die or did she really have a brother? Who is Pete? There were so many questions, with no answers... I seriously had no idea what the message the author was trying to send... maybe I'm too dense

  • So, since we could google, I found that the author actually had a spoiler thread on her on website where people could speculate what happened - and WOW, how did they come up with all these theories?!?! The mental institution / sexual identities / multiple personality theories seemed to make sense... normally I'd probably re-read to see what I missed, BUT, the author wrote the following when answering some questions about the book (on her website):

    Q: Can you tell me what really happens at the end of Liar?

    A: No. I deliberately wrote the book to be read in at least two different ways, which means that there is no one ending, and thus no way I can tell you what really happens. You’re on your own.

    and

    Mel: How much do you know that the reader doesn’t? I mean, I know you’re not going to tell us whether Jordan was real, or whether Micah is really a wolf, or where she ends up at the end — but are all the answers clear to you?

    Q: You know even if I did know I would not tell you because admitting that I do know is just an invitation for people to bug me to tell them the truth. Thus I will tell you that I have no idea. Which I don’t. Trust me!



    So, what would be the point to re-read when there is no answer? She also said there will be no sequel, so I am not about to waste my time to re-read and speculate what might have happened when I would never know the truth anyway! So I felt like I wasted my time reading a book without an ending - it's like reading a murder/mystery without knowing who the killer was... now I know that in real life, we don't always have answers, that there are many cold murder cases... but this is fiction! I don't even care that the protagonist betrayed the reader's trust by lying, since well, she was a liar, but I just don't like having no solutions to a puzzle (no answers to crossword puzzle? no solution to some IQ problems?)

  • Had the author included an epilogue or author's note or something to wrap it all up to tie up the loose ends, this book would have been much, much better. It'd definitely give the a-ha! moment (remember The Sixth Sense?) So, it's not worthwhile to invest my time to re-read, when I have so many other books waiting for me. Which is a shame, as it'd have been worth a re-read just to spot the clues! It would have been clever

  • It reminded me of another book I read, Life Sentences: A Novel by Laura Lippman. Now, that book did have an ending, but there was this BIG SECRET that was supposed to be so important that just disappeared in the end, making me think "Huh? Did I miss something? Why was it such a big deal?" So of course I googled again (what would I do without the internet!) to try to find some spoilers and I was not alone thinking so! At that time (I read this book about 8 months ago), the only link I found was the author commenting in a Barnes & Nobles discussion board - she didn't give the answer, but said she will if people were interested... I checked back a couple of times and didn't see an update, and gave up. After reading Liar, I thought of it, and decided to google again, and found out she explained the big secrecy on her facebook page! (if you are interested... my question was about Aubrey.) See? It would have made the book that much better if she had just explained it in the book... instead, the book just felt unfinished.

  • Okay, < end > venting < / end >!

*** Spoilers Ended! ***

    Rating:


    You may also like these books:
    I haven't read any of these books - but on the author's website, people asked if there were other books like Liar, and here are some suggestions - I may read some just to see if I'd like them better!

    • If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
    • I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
    • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
    • Letters from the Inside from John Marsden

    (Actually, I'd read Letters from the Inside when I was in High School... but I seriously don't remember what happened... I remember liking it back then, but don't recall how it is similar to Liar)




    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think!
    I'll link your review here if you wish!


    Challenges:
    100+ Reading
    Young Adult