Follow Friday & Blogger Hop

Remember to sign up for the GIVEAWAY

Follow My Book Blog Friday is hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee's View. The point is to follow as many book blog as you can and make new friends! As part of the adventure, she gives a weekly question. Here is this week's question:

Keeping with the dystopian and apocalypse theme that seems to be running rampant on, I have one very hard question for you: If you were stocking your bomb shelter, what books would you HAVE to include if you only had space for ten?

I stand by the fact that this question is extremely unfair
merajuk That being said, here is my list:
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
  • Beowulf
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Njal's Saga
  • Norton Anthology of Shakespeare
  • Riverside Chaucer
  • various Norton Anthologies (2)

Book Blogger Hop

"Summer is coming quickly - what 2011 summer release are you are most looking forward to?"

Honestly, I have so many books in my TBR pile that I'm intentionally not looking too closely at the new releases this summer. However, I know that will change angel


Book Review -- Matched

Remember to sign up for the GIVEAWAY

Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Genre: YA, romance
Pages: Hardback, 366
Published: 2010
Opening Lines: "Now that that I've found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night? My wings aren't white or feathered; they're green, made of green silk, which shudders in the wind and bends when I move -- first in a circle, then in a line, finally in a shade of my own invention."

"In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

"Cassia has always trust their choices. It's hardly any price to pay to a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path no one else has ever dared follow -- between perfection and passion."
~ Jacket copy

Thoughts: I've read a lot of reviews that say this book is nothing but a poor copy of The Giver. Sadly, I have not read that book. However, that makes me already poor estimation of this book drop even more.

Cassia lives in a world where every decision is made for you. At the beginning of the book, she sees absolutely nothing wrong with this. It isn't until another picture shows up on her Match screen and then the death of her grandfather. This storyline has a lot of promise. I felt that Condie could have taken it a lot of different places and really fleshed it out. However, she just let the ball drop.

This book, in one word, was boring. The measly amount of action takes place within 10-20 pages from the end of the book. Granted, there are a few "tense" moments, but they are quickly overshadowed or glossed over. When Xander alludes to something BIG happening in their neighborhood, he just lets the ball drop and won't tell Cassia. There are many, many missed opportunities like this throughout the book. She never takes them, never fleshes them out. I feel that she really didn't care too much for the story.

I've read a lot of reviews that call this a dystopian novel. I have to disagree. This is purely romance. While it is set in a seemingly dystopian society, the book itself is not. Cassia laments the choices that are made for them, the threat of Infractions, the Aberration status, etc.; however, it lacks something to be truly dystopian.

I will read the next book, but I'm not holding my breath. This book got a lot of hype, but it just wasn't worth it. If people are looking for a dystopian novel that challenges societal constraints, try something like 1984 or The Giver. Those, at least, are well written.

Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆
Currently: Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Current Pages: 9970
Current Progress:
29/50 books


Did You Say a GIVEAWAY?!

A mile marker has been hit. Sinnful Books has just reached it's 50th follower! I've had this simmering in the back of my mind for a few months now and finally the time has come to share it with all of you. There is going to be a GIVEAWAY!

When I'm not reading or playing video games, my major hobby is crocheting.The giveaway will be for one of my beanies. You'll have a choice of either a regular beanie, a panda, or a neko beanie. If you choose the neko beanie, I will make it to your specifications.

Here are examples of the different beanies:

A list of colour options for the neko beanie. Pick two -- one for main colour and one for inner ear.

Since I will need to find colours (possibly order them) and make the beanie, the shipping will take longer. Once the winner is chosen, I will contact them about whether the beanie is already in stock or needs to be made, if the colours can be purchased locally or need to be ordered, etc. At that point, I will try to make an estimate on the amount of time it will take to get the prize in the mail. If the winner chooses a panda or regular beanie, it will follow the Giveaway Policy.

If you are interested, take a look at Giveaway Policy and fill out the form below.

NOTE: Please choose whether you want a regular, panda, or neko beanie. If you mark neko, please include two different colour choices.

Share this with as many people as you want!

The winners will be chosen with on Sunday, May 8, after 5PM MST, and the winner will have seven (7) days to get back to me or another winner will be chosen.


Book Review -- Darkfever

Title: Darkfever
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Genre: Paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Pages: Hardback, 304
Published: 2006
Opening Lines: "My philosophy is pretty simple -- any day nobody's trying to kill me is a good day in my book."

"McKayla Lane's life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she's your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman.

"Or so she thinks . . . until something extraordinary happens.

"When she sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death -- a cryptic message on Mac's cell phone -- mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister's killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed -- a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae."
~ Jacket copy

Thoughts: A friend of mind suggested this series to me quite some time ago. To be honest, I picked up the book several times, but never really did much more. However, last week, my father informed me that he had just finished the wholes series and loved it. I was intrigued (Honestly, I'm still wondering why he enjoyed it . . . *scratches head*). Luckily, being poor and out of work, the library had it! Score!

I felt that Moning did a good job researching faery lore. Seriously considering getting advanced degrees in Medieval Studies, I have taken some heavy-duty mythology courses, Arthurian legends, etc., so I am extremely familiar with this subject matter. It was refreshing to see that she actually put the time into her book. I also appreciated that she checked the pronunciation sidhe. I admit, I am a stickler with a stick up my ass *^_^* Anyways, I also appreciated that she was careful not to label the Seelie court as "good". However, the concept of the Fae being aliens was rather strange and a bit different.

Aside from that, I really didn't like the characters. Mac was downright annoying! My mother says, "Honey, she's a Southern Bell." I think that is letting her get off easily and an insult to Southern Bells. Yes, Mac has not been out in the world, but common sense shouldn't be that hard to come by. To be honest, I really cannot stand that in characters. It makes it impossible for me to feel any connection to them.

And don't get me started on Jericho Barrons! He is the typical hero in romance: devilish good looks, closed-off, out for number one, older, wiser, teacher, mysterious back story, exotic, aloof, and a complete asshole! All he has going for him is the mysterious back story. I kept wondering when something might crop up that would give some hint as to his identity, but it never happened. Even though he seems to understand what is occurring in Mac's changing world, I don't understand why she runs to him. After the encounter where she is staying, she should have written him off. This isn't even touching how he treats her through the rest of the book.

Now the sex. Um, yeah . . . Getting masturbated by a "death-by-sex" Fae in a public museum with a pearl bracelet/necklace is a little much for me. I understand this extremely sexual turn-on these Fae possess, but it was a little too gratuitous for me. And the whole museum scene was in bad taste. (This right here is why I wonder why my dad enjoyed this series.)

The premise behind the plot was good. It has a LOT of potential, and I really like the concept. I think she could have done a lot with it, but I felt that it really flopped. It is possible I am reading this wrong. More of the story could be about Mac coming to terms with her new life, but it still felt "bleh".

All that being said, I have read several poor reviews of this book that are prefaced as saying the rest of the series is good. And, since I enjoy the concept, I am planning on finishing it. So, even though I am not impressed by the first book, I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆
Currently: Matched by Ally Condie
Pages: 9604
Horror/Urban Fantasy Challenge: 16/24
Current Progress:
28/50 books


Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the Title & Author, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's me teaser:
I'm a bottom-line girl. I barely managed Cs in my college philosophy courses. When I read Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness, I developed an unshakable case of narcolepsy that attacked every two to three paragraphs, resulting in deep, coma-like fits of sleep.
~ Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning, 148


Book Review -- Hush, Hush

Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Genre: YA supernatural
Pages: Hardback, 391
Published: 2009
Opening Lines: "Chauncey was with a farmer's daughter on the grassy banks of the Loire River when the storm rolled in, and having let his gelding wander in the meadow, was left to his own two feet to carry him back to the chateau. He tore a silver buckle off his shoe, place it in the girl's palm, and watched her scurry away, mud slinging on her skirts."

"Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

"But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

"For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen -- and, when it some to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life."
~ Jacket copy

Thoughts: When I first saw this book on the shelf, it caught my attention. In fact, I think it is sitting on my Amazon wishlist ^_~ The concept seemed like it could be interesting. Imagine my surprise when the library actually had it sitting on the shelves!! But, after all the hype, this book has really fallen short. In some ways, looking at a lot of the books coming out that are geared toward teenage girls, I'm not too surprised. And that saddens me.

First, lets address Nora. Does this girl have an ounce of self-preservation in her body? After her dad is shot in a dark alley, you would think she would be far more paranoid and careful about things. Not only does she not think, but she completely goes against any rational thought that might cross through her mind. Knowing full well what happened to her father, she decides it is a good idea to head into a bad neighborhood and then charge down a dark alley. Does this make sense? And then there is her attraction to Patch. Okay, I understand being drawn to the bad guy, but this goes above and beyond that. At several points, she is convinced he is stalking her, she is afraid for her life around him, he makes her feel very uncomfortable, etc. Yet, through all of this, she can't leave him alone! There is stupid and then there is Nora.

Now, I have to wonder about her mother. Okay, your husband gets shot in a dark alley one night. Yes, being a stay at home mom, you're going to need to secure an income to support your daughter. However, does it makes sense to get a job that has you out of town several weeks a month? I understand wanting to keep the family home, but I would be extremely reluctant to leave my teenage daughter home alone after an incident like that. It seems very out of character for a parent to behave that way.

What is it with girls in YA books being attracted to lecherous, creepy old men? I don't get it! What message are we trying to send to our teenage girls?

Fitzpatrick spent more time trying to be mysterious in the book and less time developing the story/plot. It took too long for you to finally know to some extent what was going on. Granted, if you payed attention, you could probably put all the pieces together. However, the build up was too big for the puny, anti-climatic ending. On top of that, the characters were not well developed and were unbelievable. And here's a note to the author: Becca, GET A DECENT EDITOR!! I'm not sure how many times "eying" was spelled differently! Also, it is a pool CUE!

*sigh* I'm a fast reader and it took awhile to get through this book. I felt the concept was really interesting and a lot could have been done with it. However, I feel that it has fallen into the Twilight-trap. Admittedly, I will end up reading Crescendo. But, yeah, this novel really did not impress me too much.

Rating: ☆ ☆
Currently: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
Current Pages: 9300
Current Progress:
27/50 books

In other news, Happy Easter!!!!


Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the Title & Author, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's my teaser:
"I know I promised you a ride, but I'm stuck at my office." I heard her shuffling papers in the background, and I imagine she had the phone cradled under her chin and the phone cord wrapped around her body several times. "Is it too much to ask you to walk?"
~ Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, 211


Book Review -- Water for Elephants

Title: Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
Genre: Fiction
Pages: Oversize paperback, 331
Published: 2006
Opening Lines: "Only three people were left under the red and white awning of the grease joint: Grady, me, and the fry cook. Grady and I sat at a battered wooden table, each facing a burger on a dented tin plate."

"Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

"Jacob was there because his luck had run out - orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive 'ship of fools'. It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act - in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival."
~ From Goodreads

Thoughts: The Depression-era train circus has always caught my attention. Since first seeing the old pictures and watching the pilot episode of Carnivale, something about it captured my attention. So, when I heard about Water for Elephants, I immediately ran down to the local Hastings and bought a copy. Unfortunately, it ended taking up space on my bookcase and made it through two moves before I finally pulled it back out. Since I finally got our paperbacks unpacked and on the shelves, I've had this book sitting in my TBR pile. I admit, seeing the ads for the movie brought it fully back to my attention. Even though I have three library books waiting to be read, this little treasure kept calling my name every time I would pass the bookcase containing the TBR pile. I finally gave in and picked it up late Sunday night. And I just finished it.

What can I say? I'm not sure why I waited so long to finally read this book. From the prologue, this book held my attention. Gruen's writing style and attention to detail is simply amazing! At several points, I felt as though I was actually watching the show or walking beside Jacob while working in the menagerie. It felt real. And the perverse, morbid sense of humor she gives Jacob as an elderly gentleman is laugh-out-loud hilarious! Although, I must admit, I found myself fuming over the treatment of our senior citizens. That, however, is a rant for another time!

The characters in this book are so rich and deep. It was hard not to form some sort of fondness for them. In addition, I found it amazing that Gruen was able to turn Rosie into a full character without completely humanizing her. Even though I have a strong bond to animals, I still felt a close connection to Rosie.

From a lot of her terminology, knowledge of trains, animals, freaks, etc., I really think that Gruen did a lot of research before writing this book. It makes it a lot more authoritative and realistic. While the story itself is fiction, it makes it that much more believable and credible to be interspersed with fact.

I will say that the happy ending, Jacob's extreme sensitivity, etc. might be seen as extremely campy. However, I felt that Gruen was trying to find something positive during the Depression. I feel that she did try to capture that, even though there was food a shelter, life on a train circus was not good either. The Depression was hard on everyone, and no one was left unaffected. So, while there was romanticizing occurring in the novel, it felt as though she was trying to make a fairytale in an unlikely setting. To me, that makes it even more endearing and tender. Many reviews I have read complain that she is trying to push an agenda with some of the issues she tackles, but, to me, this was just a romantic love story of two people finding each other against all odds. I do, however, have to laugh a little at the ending. That part might have been a bit over the top ^_~

Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Currently: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Pages: 8909
Current Progress:
26/50 books


Book Review -- Purple Panties

Title: Purple Panties: An Anthology
Editor: Zane
Genre: Lesbian Erotic Anthology
Edition: Kindle
Published: 2008

"Zane, the New York Times bestselling author and Queen of Erotic Fiction, brings a new collection of lesbian erotica that will blow the sheets off beds everywhere.

What happens when "The Finest Man" you have ever laid eyes on is a woman? What happens when a woman comes home to her man after a hard day's work with "Lipstick on Her Collar?" What happens when a married woman runs across the love of her life -- another woman -- who insists that "It's All or Nothing?" Is there such a thing as playing too "Hard to Get?" What happens when "Mom's Night Out" turns into group sex? What happens when you discover your true sexuality "At Last?" All of these questions and more are answered within the pages of Purple Panties.

Written by women from all over the world, here is a new level of lesbian erotica, compiled by Zane, that promises the most exciting and steamy reading experience possible. These stories move beyond race, age, and all walks of life, including long-hidden passions, secret rendezvous with strangers, and May-December romances.

With Zane's ever-growing popularity, and the need for increasingly quality erotica, Purple Panties will satisfy a long-standing demand for African-American lesbian literature.

In the tradition of such successful erotica anthologies as Chocolate Flava and Caramel Flava, Purple Panties uncovers a new world of evocative risk-taking that has never been explored before from a lesbian perspective. The adventures in these stories are beyond everyone's wildest imaginations." Product Description

Thoughts: There was as much variety in this book as there were authors. Variety in every way. Some authors went into intimate detail about the sex, so crisp you could feel it, some left the details to the imagination and just led you there. Some stories took you to climax, some just teased. Some girls were black, some white. Some rich, some poor. Some femme, some butch. But all of the stories were steamy and all of the girls were hot.

There were some very elegant parts, and some kind of cheesy. I enjoyed them all, though some turned me on more than others. Also, all the erotica, and most fiction, I had read before this were only white girls, not because that was the erotica I had chosen, but because I had never actually encountered erotica with black girls in them. Many but not all of the girls in these stories were black, and some of the slang was unfamiliar to me, living my whole life in almost completely white towns in the Western United States. Some of the descriptions on skin colours and nipple colours were so poetic. The descriptions were very lovely.

I wouldn't say I was completely satisfied with every story, but by and large I enjoyed the book. It was definitely worth reading, and I'd recommend it. It has something for everyone, I think.

Reviewed by:

Book Review -- Mockingjay

Title: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: YA
Pages: Hardback, 380
Published: 2010
Opening Lines: "I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather. This is where the bed I shared with my sister, Prim, stood. Over there was the kitchen table."

"Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

"It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

"The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost."
~ Jacket copy

Thoughts: With Katniss' rescue from the Quarter Quell and the uprising of the Districts, I really wondered how Collins was going to wrap this series up. The book starts sometime after Katniss is brought to District 13. She has been there long enough to get the lay of the land, find her hiding spots, etc. After being rescued, left out of the scheme, and leaving Peeta behind, she is completely broken and fractured; a mirror of her former self.

President Coin, the leader of District 13, and several other key members want Katniss to finally take up the role as Mockingjay and spearhead the rebellion. However, this doesn't mean being on front lines and fighting with the people. No, she has to become a TV star. Wearing Cinna's final costume, she must strut around with amazing engineered weapons and pretend.

Most of the book is spent following Katniss wander around District 13, struggle with her role of the Mockingjay, dealing wit her feelings towards Peeta, and just trying to hold it together. Unlike the other books, this is not a Katniss we are familiar with. In a lot of ways, her despondence feels very put on a self-involved. In Catching Fire, she kind of struggles with the idea of starting this revolution; however, she seems to run from it in the final installment.

I'm not sure what to say about this book. By far, it was not my favorite in the series. I felt how they handled Finnick's character was completely foreign to what we were shown in Catching Fire. I couldn't understand the willingness to follow President Coin when she seemed as corrupt as Snow. However, when faced with this rebellion, I feel that Collins is trying to broach the issue of war and what lengths people will go to. I find her commentary the strongest in the treatment of Katniss' prep team and the traps Beetee and Gale are creating. In an effort to overthrow the corruption of President Snow, the rebellion is no better. It is a slippery slope.

All in all, I did enjoy the book. Wanting to know exactly how it ended, I was driven through it. My problems reside with the treatment of some of the characters, Katniss' despondence, and the treatment of District 13. In addition, while it does wrap up the story, I felt as though something was missing. I felt that Collins could have dug into things a little more deeply. But, as it sits now, I feel that she barely scratched the surface.

Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Currently: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Pages: 8578
Current Progress:
25/50 books


Book Review -- Three Cups of Tea

Title: Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time
Author: Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Genre: Non-Fiction
Edition: Kindle
Published: 2007
Opening Lines: "In Pakistan's Karakoram, bristling across an area barely one hundred miles wide, more than sixty of the world's tallest mountains lord their severe alpine beauty over a witnessless high-altitude wilderness. Other than snow leopard and ibex, so few living creatures have passed through this barren icescape that the presence of the world's highest mountain, K2, was little more than a rumor to the outside world until the turn of the twentieth century."

"While critics agree that Three Cups of Tea should be read for its inspirational value rather than for its literary merit, the book's central theme, derived from a Baltistan proverb, rings loud and clear. "The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger," a villager tells Greg Mortenson. "The second time, you are an honored guest. The third time you become family." An inspirational story of one man's efforts to address poverty, educate girls, and overcome cultural divides, Three Cups, which won the 2007 Kiriyama Prize for nonfiction, reveals the enormous obstacles inherent in becoming such "family." Despite the important message, critics quibbled over the awkward prose and some melodrama. After all, a story as dramatic and satisfying as this should tell itself." ~Bookmark Magazine

Thoughts: This book captivated me. There were so many passages that struck my attention that my Facebook friends complained that I was posting too many. It is beautifully written and really takes you there. This man, Greg Mortenson, has done more for more people than many of the people acclaimed internationally. His story is an inspiration.

It is amazing reading how much can be done with so little money and so little experience. It shows that the passion of one man or woman really can change the world. At a time when most Americans thought all Muslims only cared about war and should all die, Greg was helping those who needed it, battling terrorism in a much greater way than all the bombs in the world.

I recommend this book to anyone. It will inspire you, and you will learn about a people and a part of the world few know about. It might just change your life.

Reviewed by:

Book Review -- Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai

Title: Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai
Author: Ruiyan Xu
Genre: Fiction
Edition: Kindle
Published: 2009
Opening Lines: "Later, she would remember the crack in the building: a line splitting the cement, a body of veins crawling everywhere. It happened in slow motion. On a balcony two blocks away she watched the crumple of the Swan Hotel. Aortas feeding into arteries, capillaries branching off, slender, disappearing into the façade of the building. Carrying blood away from the heart. The hollow, sickening boom of it sucking all air out of her lungs."

"A massive explosion in a Shanghai hotel leaves 32-year-old businessman Li Jing unable to utter a single word in Chinese. Instead, he is only able to speak in halting English, which he learned as a child and which he last spoke at the age of 10. His family pays to bring in American neurologist Rosalyn Neal. Li Jing’s beautiful wife, Meiling, is left to try to run his financial consulting firm and to allay the anxiety of their young son. Because Li Jing and Rosalyn Neal, who has recently divorced, are both isolated by their inability to communicate in Chinese, they soon form a bond born of mutual fear and vulnerability. And Meiling, who always took her husband’s adoration for granted, is dealt another blow by the easy camaraderie of doctor and patient, which stands in such stark contrast to the married couple’s strained attempts to connect. Set in a dense, dizzyingly urban Shanghai, Xu’s elegant first novel affectingly addresses the way identity and language intertwine and the emotional anguish of estrangement." ~Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist

Thoughts: I don't read a lot of straight fiction, but I've found some very good ones over the years. This is one of them. It would be of interest to people interested in linguistics, the brain, human nature, Shanghai, or many other things, because all of these are important in the book.

We depend a lot on language to connect us to the people around us. Imagine losing the language you have spoken most of your life and being unable to talk to your family, your friends, your coworkers, your employees. Imagine the frustration of being cut from everyone you know by the barrier of language after never having that isolation before? This is Li Jing.

Imagine losing the ability to speak to your husband, the frustration of not being able to talk. The pain of him not being able to say your name correctly. Imagine having to take over duties he's always done with no experience in them yourself. You have to be strong for him, but is that what he needs? This is Zhou Meiling, Li Jing's wife.

Imagine being in China for the first time. You've always lived in the United States Midwest and have never been out of the country or to a city as big as Shanghai. Imagine not knowing the culture, not knowing the language, having no way to connect to the people around you. Imagine the isolation you would feel, trying to find your way in this strange place where nothing is familiar. This is Dr. Rosalyn Neal, the doctor the family brings over to work with Li Jing.

What would you do in any of these people's places? How would you adapt? How would you respond? How would you feel?

This book is more about experiencing the unknown and isolation and how people react than about the themes or about the city. The author does make you feel and see the city through the eyes of each of the characters, but she also makes you feel what they feel. She takes you there, not just to the setting, but to the mind, to the isolation, to the emotions.

Ruiyan Xu is an amazing author and I would read anything else she writes, regardless of the subject or genre.

Reviewed by:

Book Review -- Catching Fire

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: YA
Pages: Hardback, 391
Published: 2009
Opening Lines: "I clasp my flask between my hands even though the warmth from the tea has long since leached into the frozen air. My muscles are clenched tight against the cold."

"Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Game. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mallark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol -- a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

"Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying."
~ Jacket copy

Thoughts: After The Hunger Games, I wasn't sure how Collins would be able to follow it up. The book was so intense and jammed packed with action, excitement, heartache, and political commentary that I wasn't sure how Catching Fire would compare. After finishing it, I'm speechless. Everything in this book is more.

Once again, I am struck by how Collins is able to pull the audience into the story with Katniss. While the story does not have the same action level as the first book, the political intrigue is greater and Collins sets you up to pull the audience deeper into the story.

It is really hard to talk about this book and dissect it. It is as the name suggests, a catching fire. Katniss learns more about herself, the depth of the corruption in the Capitol, the oppression of all the Districts around her, etc. Because of the lessons learned and the development in the characters, this book was much, much deeper and had more impact to me.

Needless to say, once I finished this book, there was no way I could wait for the library! My hubby and I went on a quest to find Mockingjay at Wal*Mart, K-Mart, and finally gave up and bought it at Hastings! Collins and her cliffhangers are something else entirely!

Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Currently: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Pages: 8188
Current Progress:
24/50 books


Without Further Ado . . .

. . . Ladies and Gentlemen, we are back in the game! Thankfully, Photobucket worked out all the glitches and things seem to be running. Given a little time -- and tons of people pestering them angel -- they were finally able to figure out a solution for their computer issues. So, on that note, w00t!

Since I'm in a such a lovely mood and finally got Catching Fire from the library, here is a little shout out to Kindle Vixen. While killing time on my computer -- yay, hubby finally left it!! -- I found her post on her perfect cast for The Hunger Games. Here is the link: click me!

This is my change:

Throughout The Hunger Games, I kept picturing Haymitch as Brendan Gleeson. Although, I admit, I love Vixen's choice ^_~

What do my followers think?


Technical Difficulties!

Dear Followers:

Just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I realize that my page has gone all WONKY today! It seems Photobucket, where all the images are hosted, is undergoing some sort of maintenance. Sadly, the images are hiding!

Hopefully it'll be back to normal soon and my page will be all pretty again!

I know the posts might be a bit hard to read right now, so please come back and try again later.


Book Review -- The Enemy

Ttile: The Enemy
Author: Charlie Higson
Genre: YA suspense
Pages: Hardback, 440
Published: 2009
Opening Lines: "Small Sam was playing in the parking lot behind the Waitrose supermarket when the grown-ups took him. He'd been with some of the little kids, having a battle with an odd assortment of actions figures, when it happened."

"A devastating disease has struck everyone over the age of sixteen. Those who didn't die from it have turned into decomposing, brainless creatures that survive by feeding on anything that's still alive -- including children. Young survivors have barricaded themselves in supermarkets and other buildings, fighting off attacks from the grown-ups, who travel in packs like hungry dogs.

"The group of kids from a store called Waitrose includes fearless fighters, clever engineers, and wise leaders. They are tight-knit and determined to survive, but they are running out of food, and their scavenger hunts are growing more and more dangerous. Marauding grown-ups are picking them off one by one.

"Before long, the Waitrose kids are offered a safe haven in Buckingham Palace. They make their way to it, crossing London on a perilous journey that will test them in harrowing ways. But their fight to stay alive is far from over -- the threat from within the palace is as real as the one outside it."
~ Jacket copy

Thoughts: I'm not sure what I expected from this book. After seeing the sequel on another blog, I was drawn to this one. A zombie YA book sounded like a good addition to the TBR pile, and the library actually had it one its shelves!!

This is perhaps one of the goriest and dystopic YA novel I have ever read! The whole book is a bloodfest and filled with festering, weeping sores; zombie attacks; strong language; and so on. This book even deals with cannibalism.
At several points, I found my stomach start to turn. Even though it is gory and violent, it is a fast paced book and doesn't disappoint.

The thing that I found interesting about this book is the way Higson deals with the characters: there is no one main character. At the beginning of the book, it follows the group of kids from Waitrose more closely and, later, the Morrisons as well. He doesn't shy away from killing characters that the audience becomes sympathetic with. No one is safe, and the audience is left wondering who will be next.

I have to wonder, at some level, if this is Higson's Lord of the Flies for the modern YA. It is interesting to note that the children often find themselves longing for structure and the comfort of their family. Many of them often common that it is unfair that they were forced to grow up. Walking down the abandoned streets of London, many of the children wish for the carefree days of their lost youth.

If you're looking for a zombie, gore-packed YA novel, this is a good choice. However, that being said, it is extremely gory and should only be read with that in mind. The story is good, the characters are well developed, the plot is fast paced, and it tackles big issues without watering them down.

Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Currently: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Pages: 7797
ZOMBIES! Reading Challenge: 1/10
Current Progress:
23/50 books


Teaser Tuesday

Note: The pictures for my blog don't seem to be working. According to Photobucket, they should be back. I'm sorry for how horrible it looks!! Just hang with me while I wait for it to correct itself! Sorry!!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the Title & Author, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's my teaser:
"Nothing to it," he whispered, his teeth very white in the darkness. "Piece of Coca-Cola."
The Enemy by Charlie Higson, 321


On My Wishlist (2)

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where I list all the books I desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming.

My hubby and I picked up The Devouring by chance in Borders a few years back. We spent countless nights sitting in a big soaking tub and curled in bed reading it to each other. It was freaky! He admits to me that it is one of the only books that has scared him. Currently, we're working out way through Soulstice.

Title: The Devouring #3: Fearscape
Author: Simon Holt
Genre: YA, paranormal
Published: October 2010

"The Vours: evil, demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on Sorry Night, the darkest hours of the Winter Solstice.

It's been a year since Reggie first discovered the Vours, and the Winter Solstice is approaching once again. It will be another night of unspeakable horror for those unlucky enough to be taken by the Vours, because this time, she won't be able to stop them. The Vours have imprisoned Reggie in a psychiatric hospital, where she is subjected to a daily routine of unfathomably sadistic experiments. Her life is a living Hell, but she won't give up. They attacked her brother. They killed her friend. And Reggie will never stop fighting back."

~ From Goodreads

Author: Chris Wooding
Genre: YA/graphic novel
Published: October 2010

"Seth finally managed to escape the terrifying comicbook world of Malice, but he left his best friend Kady there. Now he must go back and rescue her. But can he find a way back in? Kady has her own worries. She's trying to reach Havoc, a group of rebel kids plotting to destroy Tall Jake, the evil ruler of Malice. But somebody is watching the comic and can see what everyone is up to. Is there no way to escape?"
~ From Goodreads

Title: Hack / Slash Volume 4: Return of the Revenge
Authors: Tim Seeley, Rebekah Isaacs, and Emily Stone
Genre: Graphic novel, horror, slasher
Published: July 2008

"The survivor of an attack by a slasher-turned-murderer of murderers, Cassie Hack and her monstrous companion Vlad continue their mission to rid the world of those that would harm others. In this collection, they face a murderous priest wannabe in a good world gone mad, a skin-peeling wraith from their past, and the most disturbing threat of all: murderous children gone horribly wrong! More dark humor from the mind of Tim Seeley!"
~ From Goodreads


Book Review -- Frostbitten

Title: Frostbitten
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Urban fantasy
Pages: Paperback, 414
Published: 2010
Opening Lines: "As Tom watched the moonlight reflect off the ice-covered lake, he had a reflection of his own: the world really needed more snow."

"For Elena Michaels, being the world's only female werewolf has its advantages, such as having her pick of the Otherworld's most desirable males. And she couldn't have picked a more dangerously sexy and undyingly loyal mate than Clayton Danvers. But now their bond will be out to the ultimate test. A werewolf more wolf than human and more unnatural than supernatural -- a creature whose origins spring from ancient legend -- is hunting human prey and Elena and Clayton must track the predator deep into Alaska's frozen wilderness.

"But the personal stakes are even higher. Either Clayton or Elena has been chosen to become the new Pack leader and every wolf knows that there can be only one Alpha. The couple have always been equals in everything. Now, when their survival depends more than ever on perfect teamwork, will instinct allow one of them to lead and the other to follow?"
~ Jacket copy

Thoughts: Finally, Elena and Clay are back! Even though I like the other characters in the Otherworld series, the werewolves are my favorite. (Does that have something to do with having a "wolf" kanji tattooed on my arm?) It was also nice to see Clay and Elena fully at peace with each other. While they make appearances in the other books, having one completely devoted to them in their new station in life was a nice change.

The majority of this novel takes place in Alaska. After following an Australian mutt outside of the continental US, Jeremy asks them to check up on old pack members and some human-wolf attacks. While getting in contact with the mutt and looking into the murders, they uncover a plot that traces all the way back to Russia and the Ukraine. Further, they are also being chased/terrorized by a strange creature that seems to have stepped out of Clay's professorial papers on shape shifters.

This book did not disappoint! It was an awesome comeback for the werewolves! After the previous books, this one did not hold back on the punches -- literally! It was nice to get back into some of the physical aspect that the wolves present: fighting, running, etc. She was able to balance the action and the smuttier sections of the book without toppling and making one far more overpowering. After having the twins, I was afraid that they would dominate this book in a bad way. However, she was able to include them with the right amount of cuteness. It was nice to see that the characters didn't remain stagnant while the series went on.

All in all, the books about the wolves are by far my favorite in the series. I read through this book in a matter of days. It was engaging, had good pacing, character development, etc.

Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Currently: The Enemy by Charlie Higson
Pages: 7357
Horror/Urban Fantasy Challenge: 15/24
Current Progress:
22/50 books




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"If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish. Registered & Protected