January 21st, 2012

zuko, dietotaku

Book #4: The Fault in Our Stars

My fourth book  is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It's about a sick teenager named Hazel. Her cancer was once bad enough to nearly kill her, and it will get her in the end, but drugs have kept it from getting any worse, granting her a temporary reprieve. She meets a boy named Augustus, who lost his leg to a different form of cancer but is in remission now. They fall in love, and it is beautiful.

Oh, jeeze, guys. I can't recommend this book enough. If you've never read John Green, read this book. If you have read John Green, read this book. (I still think Paper Towns is his best book, but it was really great to have a female narrator for once. And Hazel and Augustus are way different than any of his other protagonists.) It's really depressing, as you might expect from a book about kids with cancer, but, per usual with John Green, I was also laughing until I couldn't breathe. 
pale reader

2012 Book 1: A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth

Book 01: A Kind of Intimacy.
Author: Jenn Ashworth, 2009.
Genre: Drama-Comedy. Suspense.
Other Details: Paperback. 282 pages.

Annie Fairhurst is an overweight rather lonely woman, who in the opening chapter leaves behind her old life and moves to a new neighbourhood. Through her narration we learn of her attempts to ingratiate herself with her new neighbours as well as her desire for a 'certain kind of intimacy' with Neil, her next door neighbour. This desire soon becomes an obsession and her behaviour towards him and others, especially his live-in girlfriend Lucy, becomes increasingly bizarre. Over the course of the novel Annie also slowly reveals her past and those events and secrets that have shaped her.

This was an impressive début novel; well-written, intelligent and very engaging. From its opening pages I knew that Annie was going to prove an unreliable narrator as the warning signs of her instability were clear. While there were elements of black comedy about the story, I did not find it 'laugh out loud funny' as this reviewer for 'The Guardian' did and maybe this is because Annie's craving for intimacy which she gets all wrong, including her over reliance on self-help books, was something quite easy to empathize with.

Overall, I found it quite an unsettling read as Annie's behaviour became stranger. Her thoughts about her situation clearly become more disturbed along with shocking revelations about her past. Jenn Ashworth does an excellent job of capturing a sense of mental and emotional disintegration.

The novel proved very popular with our reading group and provoked discussion over a range of subjects. It was It wasn't the kind of book I'd normally choose to read so was grateful that it had been selected.

Jenn Ashworth's Page on 'A Kind of Intimacy' - includes extract and other information.
amy poehler

(no subject)

Started: 12/17/11

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - So I heard a lot of great reviews on this book and had to read it. And aww, this book is perfect. Funny and romantic but not too cheesy romantic, and just honest. A perfect Young Adult book. Definitely my favorite read in a while.

2. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fischer - funny memoir but also serious on some levels. I liked the length and the book was pretty good overall, it was very honest. I would really like to see the play.

3. The Elephant to Hollywood by Michael Caine - Not the most interesting or my favorite autobiography just because there wasn't much drama, but to be honest, it's probably best that way and it did make me love Michael Caine even more. He seems like such a nice, genuine, man, almost an average joe. No drugs or anything bad, still happily married, always pleasant about his co-stars. He deserves all the success he has.

I think I read another book and it is KILLING ME that I can't remember it. UGHHH. Hopefully I'll remember one day...
basil hrm


I read most of this on the plane back to Arizona when break ended. I think I might go ahead and read THE ENTIRE Redwall series this year. What do you guys think? I'm up to the challenge.

This is an earlier Redwall book about the famous Badger mountain stronghold. So these weasels want to take over the castle because they think there's treasure inside. I was expecting the badgers to eventually say, there is not treasure, the real treasure is in ~~your heart~~ or something. Nope, spoilers, there is treasure. Haha, I was reading too deep into this children's book.

There was so much food in this book, I gained ten pounds just reading it. There were like three feasts, in the first one these stoats literally could not stop eating, their stomaches almost exploded and they had to be taken to the infirmary.

Not only the food, but the action was ramped up as well. There were so many instense and tersely written battles. Although aimed at younger readers, the book does not shy away from violence, There was a shrew ambush against cannibal frogs, an injured ahwk staving off ravenous crows, even a ninja fox who would sneak in and poison the wells. For me , the villains are the most interesting and captivating characters, and I actually felt real grief at the way the fox was dispatched, more than any of the good characters! What does this say about me, haha.

The stoats were interesting characters. I felt like Jauques was trying to make his 'vermin' characters more nuanced. They never mean to do any harm, but there seems like there is a sort of inevitability to their actions. It was almost like they were literally too dumb to live. It seemed kind of arbitrary to me that one caught a dangerous and hihgly contagious illness, almost like a way to motivate the heroes in this new plot direction. This book also had hawk, crow, lizard and frog characters, which was interesting as in the later books it seems like only mammals can talk.   There was also a sort of leviathan monster, like something out of myth. It added real Dark- Age flavor to this work.

All in all a good book and a fun ride

book and cup

#7 The Many Conditions of Love - Farahad Zama (2009)

Can true love triumph in the face of fierce family opposition? Mr Ali's marriage bureau is flourishing but trouble isn't far away once son Rehman begins secretly to woo TV journalist Usha in the small cafes and on the beautiful beaches of South Indian Vizag in an ill-advised romance. Meanwhile the lovely Aruna has a problem or two all her own. She enjoys being Mr Ali's right-hand woman at the marriage bureau, having a wonderful husband Ram, and living in a mansion a far cry from her parents' cramped one-room house; but how long can Aruna remain happy once her spiteful sister-in-law Mani comes home to stay? When Usha's father finds out about Rehman, a Muslim, the fat is in the fire. And what will Mr and Mrs Ali have to say when they discover too their son has been dating a non-Muslim?

This is the second book in this charming series, and I have to say I enjoyed this one more than the first installment. The characters are now fully developed, and it was nice to catch up with them again and see how things had moved on. Each character has their own story in this book, with the marriage bureau itself playing a smaller part. Zama deals with some pretty hefty themes with a seemingly light touch. Agricultural issues, modern ways versus traditional, families, marriage and the gulf between rich and poor in Indian society. A lovely cosy read with a bit more behind it. I will definitely be getting the third in this series at some point.
books - agatha christie

Books 6-8 for 2012

Being sick all week has given me much reading time and sleeping time, and I'm making good use of it. The most recent books that I've read are:
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, 1949, 139 pages.
Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes - Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle by Daniel L. Everett, 2008, 283 pages.
Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris, 2005, 295 pages.

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ambition, perfection

six books so far

Hi guys! I've started on the 50bookchallenge too as part of my New Year's Resolutions. Here's what I've read so far:

1. 11 Minutes - Paulo Coelho
If you want something life-changing and absolutely irresistible, please read this! It will change the way you think about love, sex and religion forever. I always read this once a year and I find something new every time. There's just something so heartbreaking and beautiful in Paulo Coelho's prose. 
2. The Lady and the Unicorn -Tracy Chevalier
As expected from the authoress who penned the bestselling Girl with a Pearl Earring. It's very compelling because of the fascinating tale that it told about a certain tapestry. But it's not as amazing as her other novels. 
3. Liberty The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France - Lucy Moore
I'm a complete Francophile so I had to read this. One of my literary idols, Mme. Germaine de Stael, was mentioned. I was very glad to read more about her. If you like history, early feminism and gory stories about the France that Robespierre controlled, this is a great book!
4. The Queen of Dreams - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
My friend borrowed this book and recently returned it. When I first read it, it's not really very interesting to me. Now that I've renewed my interest in my premonitory dreams, I feel more connected to the story. It explores the definitions of love, family and acceptance through the eyes of an Indian-American Rakhi in 9/11 America.
5. 2 Lipsticks and a Lover - Helena Frith Powell
Like I mentioned, I'm a Francophile. This is the book that's responsible for it. Very handy and useful for adopting a French outlook to life.

I'm moving on to my sixth book, Cherie by Colette. I can't wait. Thoughts? 

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Taft 2012

Book # 3 Taft 2012

I have to admit that I ordered Taft 2012 on a whim. Taft has always been on my list of favorite presidents.

The premise of the book is that Taft shows up now in 2012. I was pondering how that would be done with this book, maybe cloning? But I have to say that the way Taft shows up on the green only to be shot at by the Secret Service. That will be the only spoiler I'm going to give. I was going to move on to book #4 and had even gone on to read the first two chapters only to have to put it down and reread Taft.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Having somehow mixed feelings after reading the fourth book of Mortal Instruments series I decided to give this second series of Cassandra Clare a chance hoping it will restore my admiration for her writing. I am glad I read it, though at the same time I am not awed with it the way I used to be with the Mortal Instruments series.  But I guess it has a lot to do with the high expectations I have toward this writer's works.

The style of writing took me some time getting used to. Placing your characters in Victorian London is a tricky choice requiring broad knowledge on both its history and customs. And, above all, the language. While all these "Much obliged, Mr Herondale" and "Well indeed, Miss Gray" may sound freakishly awesome in Jane Austen books or any other book written in the time it is referring to, in contemporary novel written overall in very modern English not so much anymore. The other option is, of course, that there might be nothing wrong with the style at all and i am just being ridiculous.

But as soon as I got used to it I enjoyed reading the book and in many factors Cassandra certainly did not disappoint me. At the beginning I was afraid that main characters will be copycats of the heroes from Mortal instruments series - that Will will be the new Jace, Tessa new Clary, Jem new Simon and so on. Luckily it is not the case and they all have me adore them already. Of course Will does bear a resemblance to Jace with this tortured attitude of handsome boys who believe that their looks are the only thing that is pretty about them because they are so monstrous inside. Which of course they are not. Not unless they decide to be.

I like the way the issue of what makes one either human or a monster was touched in this book. And I hope to see more of this topic explored in the next books. How you cannot put a definition on humanity, when someone purely human and designed by God to be something good turns out to be a monster while other with demonic heritage may be selfless and heroic. And on top of that something which seem to be Clare's domain - the topic of what it really means to love and be loved and if one could and should put any conditions on the decision of loving someone.

- You mean that I shouldn’t wring my heart out over some boy who will never care for me...
- No! There are worse things than that. It’s all right to love someone who doesn’t love you back, as long as they’re worth you loving them. As long as they deserve it.

The funny thing is I am not even sure whether I agree with this statement or not. Is it even okay to agree with it? To declare someone, anyone, unworthy of being loved?