September’s Top 10 Thursday, Sep 30 2010 

Hi Readers! Something short, but relevant to the end of September. As of September 30, 2010, the following  are the Top 10 Bestselling Novels according to the New York Times Bestseller List. Five sections, top 2 books in each section. 🙂 Larsson’s novels are still at the top which means I should probably haul a** and get to reading them, haha. Anyway, I am finishing up a new novel and will have a special entry up tomorrow or this weekend.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow
2. Pinheads and Patriots by Bill O’Reilly

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Paperback Trade Fiction:
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
2. The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

Paperback Mass-Market Fiction:
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
2. The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Happy Reading!

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The Killing Game Monday, Sep 27 2010 

“It… burns him out. Profilers usually socialize only with the other profilers. I guess when you’re a man who stares at monsters every day, it’s hard to talk to someone who doesn’t do that too.” (57)

Hello Readers! Let’s welcome back Eve Duncan of The Face of Deception fame. This is her second novel. Hell yes, thank you, Iris Johansen! This is the second time I have read this novel and the twists were amazing! The first time I read this, I could not foresee any of what was to happen in the end. Complete mind-blow. This entry might be short, between making dinner for roomie night, homework, and reading–I hope I can convince you that this is an amazing read!

In The Killing Game, the antagonist has done their homework on Eve and her long, lost daughter, Bonnie. Sick, sick, sick. Ms. Duncan has become involved with the FBI when there are nine skulls found at Georgia’s Talladega Falls. The sick thing is the serial killer knows that Eve can be convinced to believe that one of those skulls could be her little girl. Based on the previous novel, we all know Eve’s determination to bring Bonnie home so she can receive a proper burial and Eve can have some closure. But… the FBI does not bring closure obviously–this is the second in a series of many.

So… the FBI. The Federal Bureau of Investigation. I won’t say much about this in the event they feel I am going to breach national security. In any case, before I became an English major, I believed I was destined to become a Criminologist and FBI Agent. I wanted to be a part of something huge and I loved picking at criminal’s minds. I did so much research on what the career would entail, I was determined. And then I figured out that while I loved the idea of being a criminologist, I was doing it to make everybody else happy. Also, I began to wonder about how much danger I could put my family in and how much of my work I would end up taking home with me. At the end of the day, I would not be myself if I allowed everything that happened at the job to internalize within me. I applaud those who are able to do their job and do it well. Long story short, English was an impulse decision. And I love it.

Total shipperness for my two favorite characters–Eve and Joe–whoop whoop!! He told Logan he would not give up on Eve–he didn’t–now he just needs to keep her!! Granted, they have a moment, but some moments don’t mean a thing. We shall see. I was rooting for them when I first read this novel and I hope they get married or something–Permanence please!!

In any case, this novel was amazing! Johansen does a great job writing her characters and her word choice is superb. I want to get back into the habit of giving other crtitics’ thoughts, so here goes:

Kirkus Reviews states, “The second of Johansen’s suspensers starring Eve Duncan (The Face of Deception, 1998), a forensic sculptor who shapes human faces from the skulls of murder victims…. Johansen creates some nonconformist women characters along with heroes as devoted to them as golden retrievers.”

I am giving Iris Johansen’s The Killing Game a 3.5/4 out of 5. Such a great novel! 🙂

Happy reading!!

Vampire Kisses Saturday, Sep 25 2010 

“I want a relationship I can finally sink my teeth into.” (120)

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber was decent, but could probably be more appreciated by someone younger. I never thought I would need to say it because I thought it might be apparent to people, but I write for ages 13/14 to however old you might be. That being said, I believe I have just read my first novel for very young adults. Granted, I am still going to read the rest of the Vampire Kisses series, but let it be known right now: This is for people between the ages of 13 to 16. Without further ado…

Meet Raven. Sixteen years old, wears all black, and does not fit in. Most of all, somewhere deep inside, wanting to be a vampire, if not that, to meet one. Yes, yes, I know, I know. Been there, done that, still feel that way on occasion–the not fitting in, not the vampire part, haha. I guess I just don’t remember being so ungodly melodramatic. Anyway, one best friend and is disliked by a good deal of the community. I think that the only reason I can bear to discuss this matter is because Raven reminds me of me–seven years ago. So frustrated and in a room full of people I could feel so alone. I dunno. Looking at the copyright page, I now realize why I am reminded of my thirteen year old self: Vampire Kisses was published when I was 13. If I remember correctly–I hated the world. But anybody who knows teenagers will know that.

I really did not like the lack of control her parents had in their own house–it was kinda, I don’t know, rediculous. Caught me off guard. Granted, what was not lacking was character development. However, so cliche and stereotypical. I think I secretly loved it. Shh… Outcast girl meets new to the town outcast boy. They have a few dates. She finds out the truth after something horrible happens. He leaves because he loves her. What? You don’t leave, you try to work things out! Then again, this is a 20 year old talking. Other characters including Becky, Trevor, and Matt make up the other major characters, with Alexander rounding that list out as Raven’s love interest. All I am going to say regarding those particular creations: 1) The road to Hell is paved with good intentions; 2) What goes around, comes around–Karma will haunt you; 3) Don’t hide. So…

The way that Schreiber ends the novel irritated and confused me. Partially something else and a cliffhanger. And as my wonderful readers know, that means I keep reading until POOF!, no more cliffhanger or novels. So, you can imagine my bad mouthing when I reach the final page where everything has suddenly gone up shit’s creek without a paddle for Raven. I will have to read the next novel to see what happens. I will give Schreiber’s Vampire Kisses a 3 out of 5. I think that Vampire Kisses is a good starting point for anyone who is not sure if they want to jump into all that is a vampire novel, or if they want teenage romance that adds a bite of danger because the protagonist’s love interest is well, a vampire.

Happy reading!

Bread Givers Thursday, Sep 23 2010 

“He was the Old World. I was the New” (207).

Hi Readers! I know this books isn’t on my list of books to read, but I can promise you that I am still trying to get around to those books! Hopefully this weekend will be filled with the promise of being able to read something that is not required. However, this novel was required and has now become one of those books that does not leave your memory easily. One of the professors who teaches the class said, “It might not be the best, well-written book, but it is still good.” I disagree. I believe it was well-written and offered an amazing glimpse into the life of people during the 1920’s–parts really upset me (as anyone who has been following my blog or maybe knows me can tell you, I become deeply attached to the characters) and I wanted to throw the book because certain things, that I will get into later, happened. Ambiguity just does not sound good on me sometimes, particularly now. In any case, may I present…

Bread Givers, by Anzia Yezierska, is ultimately a novel about the self-creation of a young Jewish woman named Sara Smolinkey.Yezierska wrote in a way that truly depicts the sad status of women during the time period–especially in regards to relationships between Sara and her family, the society that she lives in, and her conflict with religion. To be quite honest, there are only certain period authors and period films that I enjoy because (call me a feminist if you wish) it is always so dramatically male dominated, whether intentional or not–the male leads are typically screwing up in some magical way that only a man can. But apart of from that, I really, truly enjoyed reading Bread Givers and getting to know each character.

The novel focused on Sara, but it was from her point of view–which, in the beginning was hazy, and I could not really tell if I was ever going to hear about her and what she thought. She has three sisters: Bessie, Mashah, and Fania. In the beginning I was not sure what to think of Fania, I liked Bessie, and I could not stand Mashah because she did not do a thing for her family.  Sara’s mother is a woman who once stole hearts and now is, what I like to call, a domestic engineer (stay at home mom) and her father is a rabbi–one who stretches and skews the Torah (Jewish holy book)–that alone irritated me. For most, if not all of the novel, Sara and her father are at each other’s necks over what Sara should or should not be doing.

It is so frustrating because Sara’s father wants to be American and he encourages his family to drop everything that was familiar to them so they can go to a place that is never what anyone says it is: America, land of the free, to pursue that which makes you happy, blah blah blah. I am by no means saying that the freedoms I have are not appreciated, but we are a nation of hypocrites. We say we are welcoming, but that’s only if you’re visiting; even then we are not very nice. Maybe I am biased, but being helpful and welcoming must be a Northwest thing. Anyway, he says all these things about America, probably based on brochures or something to that effect, but his family arrives and they live in poverty for years. He marries three of his four daughters off to men they do not love, mind you, he dragged his three eldest daughters away from the men that they did love, so of course, Sara sees this and knows of their unhappiness–she fights away from it. She breaks away–goes to college and becomes a teacher–I am purposely leaving out all of the hardships she encounters along the way–most of it from her father. You will have to read to find our the other details and the ending–I encourage you to read it!

In a sense, I know what she is thinking about her father–in a way, I feel the same way about my own. He never did a thing to help my family and all he did was play a tyranic role in their lives, her father religion, mine, that’s another story. I don’t believe that anyone should be using their holy book as a means to boss, abuse, manipulate, whatever. For the time, I am sure that it was normal and acceptable for a woman to be treated like crap–but that is not okay anymore, just for the record. Now to get back on track… her father  studies all day, does not work to help his family, who thanks to him, are perpetually poor. His wife gives him the best of everything and still, nothing is good enough. He is so removed from responsibility that he uses religion and arrogance as a crutch; so removed, he has no idea how much work his daughters do so that he can have the tastier pieces of their meals while they starve. I guess I just find it horrible that religion is so male dominated–if a higher being loves everyone, then should we not all be treated as equals?

It is so obvious that the Smolinksy family is hierarchical and stereotypical towards how women should be and how they should act. Sara’s family is constantly clawing at her to get a husband. That she is nothing without a man. That she will have nothing without a man. My first thought is B.S. It may as well be a selfish comfort to know that Sara truly believes that if she is going to be someone’s somebody, she needs to make something of herself. She does not want the life her mother and sisters have lived, and to be quite honest, I would not want that either. I guess I can say that I can connect with Sara on this level–I want to make something of myself before I have a family of my own–I want to live and to be successful on my own terms and not need a man for me to get where I want to go. To know that I have done everything on my own, independent and free–being able to live for me would be the sweetest reward because nobody can take that away.

So, I am sure I might have missed something, however– in conclusion, I think this is one of the best books I have ever read. I am stoked for the next American Immigrant Experience novel. Apprehensive at first? Definitely. Will I be passing my book around to my friends so they can read it and add their own ideas and notes? Hell yes! Reading this novel was a great experience and I can’t wait to read it again–however, I have a reading list and other course required novels to get through before I can do that, haha! That being said, I give Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers a 4/4.5 out of 5. Happy reading!

Heads Carolina, Tails California Friday, Sep 17 2010 

What I would not give for this entry to be a book review. Do you realize how many books I have in my possession–not including the huge pile that is an avalanche all on its own? School has taken up so much of my time and to be honest–I long for summer once again when I can go to work and come home and read. I’ve taken up knitting–it is so calming. I’ve completed two hats and can’t wait to begin making scarves.

My reason for writing this entry which has nothing to do with what I would truly love to be doing right now? I could not leave this untouched for another day. I became so accustomed to reading non-stop, writing a blog, and then starting up again. So, to those who read and those who comment: I appreciate your comments and discussion… and your patience. I will one day soon get another book review up. However, this is not even half of what I am up against:

ENG 203–Introduction to Drama.
We aren’t reading books so much as we are reading plays like “Oedipus Rex”, “Everyman”, “Lysistrata”, etc. The Greeks really knew how to stress SEX without saying it. Okay, that’s a lie. At one point in “Lysistrata”, the women declare they will not be “lifting their slippers to the ceiling” or “go on all fours.” Oh joy. I am currently writing a paper about King Oedipus and Oedipus complex–riveting, wouldn’t you say?

ENG 312–Literary Criticism.
Mostly collected works by Elizabeth Bishop and a custom-made course reader thanks to the Professor. Apparently, my views are incredibly Marxist and reader based. I guess I can agree if it means that I firmly believe how you interpret literature is based on your social location and experiences. No matter, recently read a short story called “The Burning House” by Anne Beattie–amazing. Read it. I could pick apart that story all day.

ENG 326–American Immigrant Experience.
Yep, you guessed it. It is a co-taught class for History and English. The professors banter back and forth–funny as hell. We read historical accounts, participate in lectures, and discuss what we are reading. Six or seven novels and a zillion articles. To be quite honest, the topic of immigration tends to be a very touchy topic. I do not understand why. We are a nation of immigrants. On another note, you could say I am a bit of a feminist. So, despite the fact that I’ve learned to respect various cultures, I became very sad when we had to read a short story about a young Chinese couple who were to be driven apart thanks to being Americanized–which really is so true–we expect everyone to act “American.” Whatever that is–I do not really know anymore. And now that I have gone somewhere on a tangent, let us return.

HIS 211–History of Latin American Civilizations.
The professor, my roommate and I have decided, looks exceedingly like a young Michael Caine. We are reading two books in that class and the sections are so ungodly long. The class lectures are fascinating and it is quite obvious the professor is passionate about the subject: Maya, Aztecs, Incas, etc., but this English major and History minor loves to read–just not texts that are so dense that you could put a knife through it.

SPN 101–Introduction to Spanish.
Hola! Me gusta mucho! I had taken three years in middle school and high school. However, upon being called stupid and lazy, I backed away from the language that I was so close to being fluent in and slowly but surely, it became dormant. Until now. I am staying up late and having fantastic conversations with one of my roommates, Amanda, and the second best part about having these conversations: they are  completely in Spanish! Hell yes!

~~

As much as I love school, (if I could be paid to go to school for the rest of my life, I probably would because I love to learn) I would love to get in a car with my travel buddy, Amanda, take some good music, a couple dozen books, my laptop, and plenty of money for gas and food, and just drive without a damn map. Get lost and just be at peace with a good book in my hands. Flip a coin and go. Escape into the novels that have become (almost) like home. Call me crazy, but I love talking to the characters and sharing in their adventures–but I guess I have to come back to reality sometime. Quite honestly, I do not  enjoy reality right now and a great big bubble of positive something would do me some good. By next week, I fully intend on having SOMETHING up…this two-week business is not okay with me.

To end on a positive note–I am thoroughly excited for my Fall TV shows and supposedly, they are making a show or a movie out of the Vampire Academy series. They will not be able to do Dimitri Belikov justice. haha

Books in my possession that I have not started yet: Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs, Nefertiti by Michelle Moran, The Killing Game by Iris Johansen, and maybe three or four other books that are coming in. Oh to be able to write another entry. Until then…

Happy Reading!! 🙂

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