Such a sweeping poignant story. I honestly can’t decide if this book or The Kite Runner is the better one of the two: A Thousand Splendid Suns just ag...moreSuch a sweeping poignant story. I honestly can’t decide if this book or The Kite Runner is the better one of the two: A Thousand Splendid Suns just again proves to show Hosseini’s immense talent of storytelling.
The backdrop of this book is the nearly forty years of tragic turmoil in Afghanistan’s history, from the Soviet occupation to the end of the Taliban rule. This story, however, mainly focuses on the lives of two extraordinary women, Mariam and Laila, who will meet each other by fate and must persevere in their hardships during a time when flamingoes could not be painted without trousers because their long bare legs were too revealing. Over the course of the book, I really felt for and was moved by the characters. Hosseini, through his eloquent prose, paints a heartbreaking reality of how Afghan women were crushed under the rules and regulations of the Taliban and within their households. I do hope he writes more in the future and I am waiting for his next book.
Maybe I wasn’t a Nancy Drew fanatic, but I used to devour every book I could find in the Boxcar Children series and The New Adventures of Mary-Kate &...moreMaybe I wasn’t a Nancy Drew fanatic, but I used to devour every book I could find in the Boxcar Children series and The New Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley series as a child. I was a huge mystery reader back then, but not anymore. Picking up a mystery book again, in fact one of the best in the genre like The Hound of the Baskervilles, proved to loads to fun.
As this is my first Sherlock Holmes book, I’m not sure how the narration works in the other books but I loved it here. I’m glad that the story was told through the perspective of Dr. Watson, Holmes’ assistant. The infamous detective Sherlock Holmes is too cold and arrogant of a man and I probably couldn’t have put up with him if he took the front seat of the action. I liked how the readers got a chance to see Holmes’ wits and logic in the beginning before he went behind-the-scenes for the majority of the book until the very end. This allows Watson to shine through; his loyal charming personality as opposed to Holmes’ personality puts a twist to the story. (Apparently, in the book previous to this one, Holmes had died jumping off a cliff, but the public was so heartbroken that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had to start writing books pre-dating other Homes books. He sort of brought Holmes back from the dead this way.)
The resolution was predictable, but nonetheless, I enjoyed it. The daunting English moors, the beautiful descriptions, the page-turning plot with twists and surprises, and the interesting characters made up a great mystery. (less)
A pleasure read, but nothing more than that. This book shows the other side of Pride and Prejudice that all fans are curious about—Darcy’s perspective...moreA pleasure read, but nothing more than that. This book shows the other side of Pride and Prejudice that all fans are curious about—Darcy’s perspective of the story. I felt that Amanda Grange’s presentation of Darcy was realistic and flesh-like, and I enjoyed the scenes that were not included in the original book, such as the history between Wickham and Georgina, and the conversation between Darcy and Lady Catherine. (less)
I feared that Stones into Schools, like many other sequels, will just be a repetition of its predecessor. However, I was surprised to find that this b...moreI feared that Stones into Schools, like many other sequels, will just be a repetition of its predecessor. However, I was surprised to find that this book is a lot better. (Yes, I realize that I rated both Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools four stars. The reason is because I couldn’t rate Stones into Schools five stars since only my favorite books receive that, and I couldn’t rate Three Cups of Tea three stars because the generous work of Greg Mortenson didn’t deserve that. Rating books from a scale of 1 to 5 isn’t very effective sometimes, see?)
Anyway, the style of prose considerably improved from the first book, and the switch to first person point of view gave a stronger voice to the novel. In Stones into Schools, Greg Mortenson and his CAI organization’s mission to build schools for children expands from the mountainous and remote areas of Pakistan to its bordering country, Afghanistan. Following his policy of “last person first,” Mortenson will confront with his greatest challenge ever: to build a school on the “Rooftop of the World” at the elevation of 12,480 feet in the heart of the Taliban regime. Powerful and inspiring, this is the story of a failed K2 mountain climber who happened to take a wrong turn and has ever since devoted his life to promoting peace through education. (less)
This is definitely not the kind of the book I usually read: it’s pulp fiction, it’s a mystery story, and it’s an audio book. I wouldn’t have given thi...moreThis is definitely not the kind of the book I usually read: it’s pulp fiction, it’s a mystery story, and it’s an audio book. I wouldn’t have given this book a second glance if it wasn’t for the free copy I received from Galaxy Press. I really enjoyed the experience. It was a wonderful thriller, and I was so caught up in the action and suspense that I didn’t see the twist coming. The recordings were excellent. Different actors played the characters, and music and sound effects accompanied the narration. Great for a long drive. (less)
I wish Greg Mortenson’s story was written by someone else. Mortenson is listed as one of the authors for this book, but I doubt that he wrote more tha...moreI wish Greg Mortenson’s story was written by someone else. Mortenson is listed as one of the authors for this book, but I doubt that he wrote more than his acknowledgments. It is David Oliver Relin who contributed the writing, and honestly, his style of prose is terrible. To sample his writing, here are a few sentences:
"He leaned over the side of the truck to request a stop and saw the top of the bearish assistant's close-cropped head stretching out the window, and beyond it, straight down fifteen hundred feet to the bottom of the rocky gorge, where a coffee-colored river foamed over boulders."
“And by the time the rising sun iced the hanging glaciers of Masherbrum pale pink, like a gargantuan pastry dangling above them at breakfast time, Mortenson had agreed to shift the funds his board had approved for the doomed Khane school upside to this village whose headman had traveled so far downriver to educate himself.”
This awkward poetic-wannabe writing doesn't suit this non-fiction book. The story seemed like it was buried under a fluff of adjectives and overwrought expressions, and I repeatedly found myself trying to dig past it.
Criticisms aside though, I greatly appreciate what Greg Mortenson has done. His mission to build schools and educate children in the mountainous and remote villages in Pakistan is remarkable and inspirational. Here is a man who is truly doing something about foreign policy. It is unfortunate that his story is told the way it is, but I personally found Mortenson’s deeds to triumph over the writing in the end. His actions speak louder than the words. (less)
Garth Nix somehow masterfully ties a bow over this hell of a world. Seriously, cheers for him. This world he has created is so raw—-the portrayal of a...moreGarth Nix somehow masterfully ties a bow over this hell of a world. Seriously, cheers for him. This world he has created is so raw—-the portrayal of a world between Life and Death, the bells as a form of magic, and the path into Death as a river with Nine Gates are all very unique. The main characters have developed over the course of this journey and they’re all out there fighting in one of the best climatic battles I’ve read.
It took me a while to read this book, though. There were parts that were dull and frustrating, and there are a few plot-based explanations that are needed as well. Also, I was wishing to see a relationship between Lirael and Nick, and though Nix hints at a connection between them, he leaves it at that. Oh well, maybe we see more of them in Across the Wall, the companion book of short stories, featuring Nick.
You wouldn't want to be left hanging forever at the end of Lirael, I hope. So go ahead and find yourself a copy of Abhorsen. It really is a satisfying end to this marvelous fantasy trilogy. (less)
Even while having all those discussions in English class, this book read like just another survival story to me. Replace a group of stranded adults wi...moreEven while having all those discussions in English class, this book read like just another survival story to me. Replace a group of stranded adults with a group of stranded boys and you’ve got this book, right? It’s only when I finished the entire book did the meaning finally hit me. I then found myself flipping back to various parts and noticing more and more of the purposeful syntax and actions embedded into the story. It all came together, and I had this big “Ah ha!” moment.
Meaningful it may be, but I wouldn’t call this book anything more than “pretty good.” Some parts just seemed too peculiar to me. The Lord of the Flies was frankly an odd symbol used to depict the theme. Also, the barbaric and extreme actions of the boys were out of the norm and this never allowed me to like and care for them. Though this is probably intentional, it simply made an unpleasant story. It’s no doubt a classic, but I would only recommend it to gain a point of reference. (less)
I love how this series stays true to J.K Rowling’s novels and yet contains its own unique elements and perspectives. Sometimes when I’m reading it, th...moreI love how this series stays true to J.K Rowling’s novels and yet contains its own unique elements and perspectives. Sometimes when I’m reading it, the fact that it’s fan-fiction all together abandons me.
In reading the first few chapters, we come across an interesting plot twist: James Potter, his family, relatives, and friends, are spending an year in the States, and James and Ralph’s third year will be taking place at the American Wizarding school, Alma Aleron. I was at first wary about this, but I later enjoyed the school’s differences. And as usual, James and his friends are swept into another adventure—one that consists of the Vault of Destinies, the missing red thread of the Loom, the key to the World Between the Worlds, the sport of Clutch, and more. And also note that reading the back story, The Girl at the Dock, might give more clarity and insight to the events of Vault of Destinies. (less)
Maybe I’m missing a point here, or maybe it’s the book that is missing something. Whatever it is, I didn’t like this book. Steinbeck’s writing is fine...moreMaybe I’m missing a point here, or maybe it’s the book that is missing something. Whatever it is, I didn’t like this book. Steinbeck’s writing is fine. It was the plot that was not at all engaging. Also the way the characters kept saying the same thing over and over again in conversations seemed to serve only as a page-filler.
The book could have developed as it progressed, but bang! and there came the absolutely unnecessary ending. It left me feeling emotionally blank with no sympathy for any of the characters. Yes, I noticed the foreshadowing, the themes, and whatnot, but I just didn’t enjoy the story. Perhaps another book, Steinbeck. (less)
I doubt anyone will be able to read Ender’s Game and not go on to Speaker for the Dead. What can one possibly do after reading that tortuous cliff han...moreI doubt anyone will be able to read Ender’s Game and not go on to Speaker for the Dead. What can one possibly do after reading that tortuous cliff hanger in Ender’s but pick up its sequel, right? But it’s hard to consider this book as the sequel since it is so different from Ender’s Game on so many levels.
I admit, I was stumped at first. What’s with the characters talking in Portuguese? Are we reading a biology book or a sci-fi adventure? And when did Ender become a detective in space all of sudden? Then I came to realize that Speaker for the Dead requires a different mindset, maybe even a different audience. People who liked the boy-against-the-world plot in Ender’s Game will be sorely disappointed by this. This is mature stuff, it’s sophisticated, it’s bewildering. But you just got to dig deep; then you will find treasure. Accept the changes; I assure you, you will be rewarded.
Orson Scott Card had intended to write this book along. He meant Ender’s Game to be just the background for Speaker for the Dead, a short story enlarged. I myself like Ender’s Game more than Speaker for the Dead as do many others; however, I can see why Card sees the latter as the core book. Speaker is a masterpiece on humanism. This book is not just the speaker for the dead, but also for our fears, our prejudices, our truths, our hatreds, our guilt, our redemptions, our desires.
Card has an incredible ability to write about such deep and real characters and a thought-provoking story. The concept of speakers for the dead is marvelous. If more people read this, maybe our funeral ritual will change altogether. Gosh, imagine that! And the piggies—that was amazing characterization. I don’t know why but they remind me of the pigs that were slaughtered by the boys in Lord of the Flies. I know, they are separate things, but once I thought about that, the whole story of Lord of the Flies transformed. The pigs from LotF became piggies and the Ralph and the boys became an older generation of Ender’s. Kind of far-fetched, but hey, this book poked my brain and it kept me thinking about random stuff.
It’s hard to talk about everything else this book is because it is so vast and ambitious. Please ignore the terrible book covers; they don't depict the novels in the slightest bit. It would just be so unfortunate if fans of Ender’s Game overlooked this. Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead are the only two science fiction novels to win both the Hugo and the Nebula awards for the same author in back-to-back years. There is a reason for that, and you will also see why when you read them. (less)
Lirael builds onto Garth Nix’s fascinating world and introduces two important characters, Lirael (Daughter of the Clayr) and Sameth (son of Sabriel an...moreLirael builds onto Garth Nix’s fascinating world and introduces two important characters, Lirael (Daughter of the Clayr) and Sameth (son of Sabriel and Touchstone). The story goes back and forth between these two until they meet coincidentally in their mission to save Nicholas and stop the necromancer from unleashing a great evil.
I admit that most of the first half of the book drags. Even though it was interesting to learn more about another magic blood line, the Clayr, and meet new characters like the Disreputable Dog, this part slowed down my reading. At times I could relate to Lirael’s and Sam’s self doubt, but I was often annoyed by their repetitive whining. But fortunately, the last 200 pages make up for that. There was no closing the book once I started this part. The troubles brewing in the Old Kingdom started to feel real. Instead of being far off and distant like in the beginning, the rising conflicts felt urgent or present as the main characters dealt with them firsthand. The book ends with a chilling to-be-continued note that hints even more danger and adventure for the last book of the trilogy. So make sure you have Abhorsen next to you once you finish Lirael; you will need it. (less)
There is so much one can wring out of this book. Hold the book sideways like a dishcloth and twist it, and you’ll be surprised by what comes out. (Nev...moreThere is so much one can wring out of this book. Hold the book sideways like a dishcloth and twist it, and you’ll be surprised by what comes out. (Never mind, that might not be a good idea.) Anyway, it’s a clever book and you can spend days interpreting it in different ways. I admit that the book as a whole was worthwhile to read. But there are definitely some huge holes in the story and the author’s reasoning.
The first part: So we’re introduced to two-toed sloths and three-toed sloths, the Piscine Molitor swimming pool, zoos, politics, religion, etc. It was all very interesting, but I was wondering just where the story was going. Let’s read on…
The second part: So the ship sinks. And Pi ends up in a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan called Orange Juice, a zebra, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Let me add that the orangutan came to the boat on floating bananas. Very weird, but weird is fine I suppose. So I was excited. Let the adventure begin!
50 pages later: This “adventure” needs to end now. It was page after page of dreary mush. There are enough survival stories out there and there was no need for this. And the gory details! Like anyone needed to know so explicitly that Pi tried eating the tiger’s feces. *Shudder*
The last part: The author finally slaps on the message of the book in the last conversation. He takes all his time for the beginning and boring survival story. Then the conversation comes suddenly, and it’s like waking up to someone pouring cold water on my face. It’s one of the most interesting parts of the book, but there are also some serious flaws.
To talk about it, I have to give away apoilers.
When the interviewers don’t believe Pi’s story, Pi tells an alternative story without any whimsical elements. And then Pi asks which story is the “better” story? The interviewers answer that the first story was better, and Pi adds, “And so it is with God.” Umm, what is that supposed to mean? So the first story with the animals is more interesting. And in choosing that story, is the author saying that belief in God is more interesting than life in reality? That kind of argument won’t result in anything. This book “will make you believe in God”? Uhh, I don’t think so.
Life as We Knew it = fascinating premise + terrifying and eye opening details + a remainder of the virtues we take for granted + developed characters...moreLife as We Knew it = fascinating premise + terrifying and eye opening details + a remainder of the virtues we take for granted + developed characters and wonderful character relationships + hopeful and realistic ending.
This book = the most unbelievable and infuriating main character ever who seems to live under a rock and I didn’t care if he lived or not + such a boring and negative tone that I couldn’t feel any sympathy, sadness, excitement, etc., just annoyance and tediousness + random ending.
See the difference?
Life as We Knew it >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> The Dead and the Gone
This book is practically unreadable. I understand that Susan Beth Pfeffer wrote this book because she wanted to portray how the near-apocalyptic disaster was experienced by different characters in a different setting (New York in this book while it was a Pennsylvania town in LAWKI). This companion book doesn’t explore new plot from the first book; it’s the same earthquakes, tides, flu, etc. all over again. And I might have still liked it if it wasn’t for the characters and the voice of the story.
First of all: Alex. Like I said, he lives under rock. All kinds of tragedies are occurring around him, and he just goes on praying, studying for his finals, and ordering his sisters to do the household work. Okay, so he is Hispanic, but that doesn’t mean that he has to be stereotyped as a Catholic and a believer of strict gender roles.
Also, this book is “darker,” but I didn’t feel a thing. There were riots and “body shopping” scenes, and there was no intensity at all. No feelings were steaming up off the pages. It like a dull monotone voice dictating a long shopping list and I was wondering just when it was going to end.
And when it did end, it ended in the middle of nowhere. One good thing though: the book ENDED. Yay.
So supposedly, the third book is going to have Miranda from LAWKI and Alex (hate, hate, hate) from this book fall in love with each other. Blehhh. We’ll see how THAT goes. (less)