Fifteen Books Thursday, Aug 19 2010 

For my fifteenth entry, I’d like to suggest fifteen books that I have read and loved. They might be from way back in grade school to recently read. I’d suggest them as gifts depending on age and preferences of the receiver.

1. The Dear America Series by Various Authors.
There is something so very personal about reading a diary. Add that to historical fiction, and I am pulled in. I have a couple of favorites and began reading this series when I was in 4th grade and continue to read them every now and then. With a beautiful hard cover and satin ribbon for a page marker, it makes a perfect Christmas Gift.

2. The Royal Diaries by Various Authors.
This series is a spin-off of The Dear America series. I would say this is more of a birthday gift. I discovered this series in 5th grade when I discovered my first book about Elizabeth I of England–of Tudor fame. 🙂

3. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.
I do not care how old you are, almost everyone I have met has read this series and connected with one or more of the characters. If you ask my roommate, Amanda, what she thinks, you will get a long rant about the crappiness of the 7th book. Feel free to click here to view her blog. Apart from that, this series is wonderful and have been with me through some of the hardest times in my life.

4. Night by Elie Wiesel.
This is probably one of the most phenomenal stories I have ever read. I read it in my sophomore year of high school and could not put it down. I have read it multiple times since then, and everytime, I love it more.

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
It is Jane Austen! Probably one of my all-time favorite love stories. I read it in 7th grade and loved it!

6. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.
Ah! The story of lovers who have a severe problem with giving each other whiplash. I read this particular novel in 8th grade and found that the characters could easily be diagnosed with some form of mood disorder or another. Great for picking apart character development.

7. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.
My mama gave this book to me. I was a bit unsure about reading it because… well, I don’t rightly know why I was… just was. In any case, Albom’s writing style really pulls you in and allows you to do what few books do today–think.

8. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.
Same with this novel. I really enjoy reading Albom’s stories. Fantastic author.

9. The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory.
Love the book, like the movie. Books will almost always be better than the movie. Gregory really gives her characters room to grow and evolve. Very impressive.

10. Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende.
I truly loved reading this novel! So amazing. Check out my blog entry for Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea here.

11. Blue Bloods Series by Melissa de la Cruz.
If you have not already guessed, I love vampire books. Melissa de la Cruz is refreshing because she brings all these new ideas about vampires to the forefront.

12. Skin Deep by Lois Ruby.
I was in 8th grade when I read this book. The story of a girl who is love with a boy who becomes a skin head. Dramatic story, and the topic was handled well. Especially it being a book for younger readers.

13. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
 One of the most amazing love stories–EVER! Granted, it is kind of like Thornbirds and being able to be with someone who is promised to God. Anyway, was very apprehensive going into it and came out loving it.

14. Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Series by Laurell K. Hamilton.
Just started this series and already I love it to death. No pun intended. Hamilton’s writing and content is probably for older teens rather than Twilighters… but no matter… Still really, really good.

15. Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs.
Well… you can ask one of my friend’s from school, completely addicting. You put one down and want to pick up the next one. Love, love, loove the main character and her main man. 🙂 Another book with vampires and werewolves. 🙂 🙂

Do you have any books that you would suggest?

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Guilty Pleasures Monday, Aug 16 2010 

“‘Have you ever wondered what it would be like to feel my breath upon your neck? My lips along your neck. The hard brush of teeth. The sweet, sharp pain of fangs. Your heart beating frantically against my chest. Your blood flowing into my veins. Sharing yourself. Giving me life. Knowing that I truly could not live without you, all of you'” (14).

Good things come to those who wait. Okay, there was not much waiting involved–the opportunity presented itself to head to a bookstore. Barnes and Noble. I really must tell you a story. On Friday, my roommate, Walter, wanted to go buy a book or two for his own reading collection. It was fate you see. Everyone was out for the day and we decided to head to a bookstore, not sure which one. First, we stopped to get a bite to eat and then drove into Olympia. We stop at Barnes and Noble, and walk in. Walter walks directly towards the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section and I follow because I don’t think I am going to buy anything today. I’m a poor college student–don’t judge me ;). Anyway, Walter stands in front of this shelf of books he has been extolling over the past two days. I am trying to stifle my snickering–it is pretty intense. I turn around to browse. There they are. After having nothing to read and definitely not getting any further through my 2010 Reading List, I could have cried. There sat Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. After walking away and coming back thirty times in a thirty minute period, I finally decided it was time to buy a new book. So, I grabbed the first book in the series, Guilty Pleasures, and walked towards the checkout counter. Just my luck–I am walking that direction and I see a brown hardcover notebook with cherry blossoms stretching across the front and back. Had to have it. Beautiful. Love it. I’m using it. Right now.

So, I wait my turn and finally go to pay for my book and notebook. I place them on the counter. Oh hell no. I get a look that just SCREAMS disapproval. Do I care? No. She quite obviously has a stick up her ass. I walk away with purchases in tow and we sit down at the little cafe on the side of the bookstore before grabbing drinks. A blended strawberry lemonade was my reading companion–YUMMY. For the next two hours, I plan on reading and enjoying cool refreshment compared to the heat storm outside. But Walter, bless his heart, has other plans. In the course of 45 minutes, I receive the history of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. Talking dolphins. TALKING DOLPHINS. More power to you. Lovith!! Anyway, we ended up leaving for home and then left again. This time we travelled to Cutter’s Point for coffee and some more time away from the flea bombed house. It was in the coffee shop that I freaked out.

RATS. You have got to be kidding me!! Rats the size of German Shepherds–Wererats–Lycanthropes. I hate rats and to be quite honest, there are only two rats that I will ever like and that is for two reasons: 1) They belong to my other roommate, Amanda; 2) They are fancy rats–6-8 inches long. None of this dog and human size rat business going on. These babies–Ellen & Portia are cute and cuddly, totally love their mommy. The rats in Guilty Pleasures, uh uh, nope! Thank you, Ms. Hamilton, you have scared the crap out of me.

So, if you have not guessed already, I really, really liked this book. I absolutely loved Anita’s inner monologue–actually kind of reminded me of Amanda. There were plenty of memorable quotes and characters–the mistress vampire was just bitchy, Jean Claude was charming, and Phillip… sweetest guy ever. Anita and I could totally hangout and loved the witty bickering. Loved the fight scenes–traditional vamp stuff, kick-ass. I am really looking forward to the rest of the series. I give Guilty Pleasures 4 out of 5.

Imperfect Birds Saturday, Aug 14 2010 

 “The last time Elizabeth and Rosie had gone on a hike together, Elizabeth had brought up there friends-with-benefits business, not for the first time.” (Pg. 36)

I hate saying this. I never, ever like saying I do not like a book–again with that thing called propriety. I did not like Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott. Click here to view Barnes and Noble’s synopsis. Here is how much I disliked it–I made it to Chapter 2, and could not continue. I had to fight to get through Chapter 1.

To be quite honest, this novel hit way close to home. Substance abuse, fear of losing a child, paying too much attention, not paying enough attention… an assortment of things. She addressed many issues that occur within many families today. Maybe some parents might find this book helpful to some extent in learning how to cope with whatever may or may not be going on.

However, that is not why I did not like it. The subject matter was interesting and very real. I just could not get over her writing style. I liked Bird by Bird, which was a novel for beginning writers–but they are very different styles of writing. I became bored very quickly, sadly. In that, I give Imperfect Birds a 2/2.5 out of 5. Click here for a review from the Washington Post.

BBC’s The Big Read Thursday, Aug 12 2010 

Below are 100 books on a list that BBC provided some time ago. Apparently, BBC believes that anyone will have read only six of these novels. How many books have I read on this list?? I guess we’ll find out.

KEY:
1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Add ‘–’ to the ones you’re in the process of reading.
5) Tally your total of read and the ones you are reading.
Where do you stand?

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen x+

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien *

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte x

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling x+

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee x

6 The Bible –

7 Wuthering Heights — Emily Bronte x

8 ) 1984 – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare x

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien *

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald x

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck x

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis x

34 Emma – Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis x

37. Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini x+

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden *

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery x+

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding x

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel x

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck x

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold x+

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville x

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom x++

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad x

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Toole

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare x

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

It seems I have read 20 out of 100. Ouch. So. I am curious. What titles from this list have you read?

Island Beneath the Sea Monday, Aug 2 2010 

“Rhythm is born on that island beneath the sea; it shakes the earth, it cuts through me like a lightning bolt and rises toward the sky, carrying with it my sorrows so that Papa Bondye can chew them, swallow them, and leave me clean and happy” (Allende 1).

Initially apprehensive about reading Isabel Allende’s most recent novel, Island Beneath the Sea, this feeling has since changed. Since I find any or all of the books I’ve chosen to read at Barnes and Noble.com, it is only obvious that I am going to read the summaries to get a final feel–decisions, decisions. This title did not really need its summary to have me pulled in. Island Beneath the Sea. Intriguing. Captivating.

This novel is rich with detail and imagery. Haiti. New Orleans. While her peers  might not think highly of Allende, I can without a second thought say, she has a gift for imagery and tones that might otherwise be lost. This novel takes patience and an open mind–the beginning starts slowly–but once it starts to rev up–the story goes. Zarite’s life pulls the reader in–you are able to connect–and by that point, I was turning pages later and later into the evening than I had anticipated. I absolutely love the way Allende incorporates historical people and events into the novel–it is beautiful. It doesn’t read like a history book–but she makes an offhand comment about the event or person and continues on with the life that inspired the book–Zarite.

There are so many conflicts and themes inside this novel that I would love to delve deeper into. It involves most  conflicts: man vs. self, man vs. man, man vs. society, man vs. supernatural, and man vs. nature. In this case it would be woman vs. etc. And some amazing themes that I loved involved society and its impact upon gender roles within a time period. Freedom surrounding not only race and gender, but from fear and inhibitions. My favorite would be the conflict between love and family–more or less, the biases regarding how interconnected love is with family and the kind of  love that is deemed acceptable. Family in this sense is very loose because I consider Zarite to be a part of the Valmorain family.There are so, so, so many themes within this novel. All of these themes and conflicts just make the emotion in the novel tremble with brutal vulnerability.

Read NPR.org’s Review of Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea here.

This has quite possibly, so far, been the most provocative read I’ve had in sometime. I would not mind having this novel be a part of a novel course at my college. That would actually be fantastic! Zarite’s story is unforgettable and beautiful as it is horrific. I give Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea a 5 out of 5. Absolutely tantalizing.

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