Monday, August 31, 2009

The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey


The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey

This is another version of the Beauty and the Beast story. Rosalind Hawkins, or Rose, as she’s later called, is in a desperate situation and has to accept employment as a governess/translator/secretary to a reclusive employer, who was horribly disfigured in an accident.

Later on, we find out he’s not really disfigured in the sense we expect, but transformed into a half-lupine, half-human form. They fall in love, despite many enemies and dangers along the way.

This was a tough book to read. Not tough in the sense of challenging, but because it was a struggle to keep myself interested in it. It wasn’t boring, exactly, but it just didn’t hold my interest well.

Many times I wanted to give up on it, but it wasn’t all that bad and I did want to find out what happens in the end. Unfortunately, now I wonder if I wasn’t better off spending my time reading some other more interesting book.

The story is an interesting one, I’ve always been partial to the Beauty and the Beast story myself, and the added elements (pun intended) of magick, Masters of Elements, and the Elementals, did make the story a lot more interesting than it would’ve been.

Perhaps it was in the way the story was told. Perhaps there was too much magick history that we were subjected to, and perhaps a lot of it didn’t really make sense and weren’t very consistent. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly that I don’t like about the book, but it may well be just me. I definitely hope that others who read it would like it a lot better than I did.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

13 Favorite Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books : TT #25

I thought it would be fun to list 13 of my favorite sci-fi & fantasy books, so in no particular order, here they are:

1.image The Host by Stephanie Meyer

About aliens that invade human bodies and take over their lives. They’re not as violent as they sound and are in fact, almost too peaceful to a fault. But a few of the last humans aren’t going to give up their lives and their bodies so easily.

This is a beautiful story of love and friendship that has touched my heart.

Read my review here.

2.image Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee

This book is actually two books in one, Biting the Sun & Drinking Sapphire Wine.

It’s about a hedonistic world where  everyone can do whatever they want, commit suicide and come back in a different body they design. Robots do all the work, and the protagonist, whose name we never find out, tries to find more meaning in life.

Read my review here.

3.image Grass by Sheri S. Tepper

This is an futuristic novel written like an epic historical one. The communities in the other planets are looking for a planet safe from the plague, where they can run to.

The only planet that’s immune is Grass, so called because it’s mostly covered in Grass, but it seems the inhabitants of Grass may not be as friendly as they hoped.

Read my review here.

4.image Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

This book is like a darker, more sinister, deeper version of Alice in Wonderland. The protagonist, Richard Mayhew, is originally from London Above, but somehow finds himself in the world of London Below, where everything’s really weird and not at all what he expects. 

Click here to find out more.
5.image Season of Passage by Christopher Pike This is my absolute favorite Christopher Pike book, and I worship Pike!

Lauren Wagner and her crew has been sent to Mars on an expedition. Not all of them came back, and the ones who did, didn’t seem themselves. Lauren’s fiance and younger sister know something is wrong, and they have to do something even if it kills them to do it.

Click here to find out more.
6.image The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood This is a frightening story, mostly because it is entirely possible that one day it could happen. Similar events have happened before, after all.

In this story, women are treated like animals. They are divided into classes, where some are to keep houses, and others to produce offspring. The protagonist, Offred (of Fred), tells the story of how a world like this came to be.

Click here to find out more.
7.image The Neverending Story by Michael Ende I watched the movies, and I fell in love with them. Then I read the book, and fell completely head over heels in love with it.

Bastian, a human child, reads The Neverending Story, and becomes the world of Fantasia’s only hope for survival. I love it! Fantasia is such a wonderful, beautiful world, with so many colorful characters!

Click here to find out more.
8.image A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin Oh, where do I even start with George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series? Will it suffice to tell you that I’ve said many times, that if I was forced to read only one book (series count!) in my whole entire life, it would be this. Coming from an addicted reader to whom reading is like breathing, you know this book must be something good!

Click here to find out more.
9.image The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley This book is the story of King Arthur told primarily from the females’ perspectives. From Morgaine (Morgan le Fay) to Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere), we are told about the power struggle between religion and politics, and Christianity and Pagan. One of the best books I’ve ever read and my favorite Arthurian story!

Click here to find out more. 
10.image The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger Well, the movie has just come out (but not here in Malaysia yet), I can’t wait to see it!

This is the story about a man who was born with a rare genetic defect that gives him the ability to time-travel, but through no control of his own. His wife suffers his sudden disappearances and absences, but their love endures despite it all. Heartbreaking and very moving.

Click here to find out more.
11.image Sunshine by Robin McKinley One of the best vampire stories I’ve ever read. Robin McKinley is one of my favorite fantasy authors, and this is my favorite book from her by far.

There’d been a lot of books lately about human girls falling for handsome vampires, but a lot of them are too corny for my taste. This is one of the better ones.

Read my review here.
12.image The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman My brother started me on these books and I loved them. He’s a huge Dragonlance fan and have almost every book in the series. While I loved the stories too, there are way too many of them for me to read, and I’m the sort who needs variety.

However, you can’t call yourself a fan of fantasy unless you’ve read The Dragonlance Chronicles at least. These are;
1. Dragons of Autumn Twilight
2. Dragons of Winter Night
3. Dragons of Spring Dawning
13.image Un Lun Dun by China Mieville Similar with, but lighter than, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, this is another story about an alternate world of London where nothing is like what it seems.

This book can be scary and exciting, and I enjoyed all the imaginative and creative things that Mieville came up with.

Read my review here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Night Mare by Piers Anthony


Night Mare by Piers Anthony

The first time I read a book by Piers Anthony, I was 14, and I couldn’t finish the book because someone stole it! I remember really enjoying the book and being frantic when the book disappeared (I was in school, i left it on my desk, and when I came back it was gone!).

The worst thing was I couldn’t remember the author’s name at the time, and I could only remember the word “gargoyle” on the title. So I spent more than 10 years wondering what book it was and if I could ever get it back.

I’m not sure how I found it, but finally I discovered that the book I’d been missing for so long was Piers Anthony’s Geis of the Gargoyle. So I got a copy from, and I read it, and loved it! I usually don’t like to read books in a series because there are too many to read and I simply don’t have the interest to read them all!

But the great thing about Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels, is that you don’t have to read all of them to enjoy a few of them. I’ve read two of them now, and my enjoyment of both wasn’t diminished just because I didn’t read the other books for backstories.

Night Mare can be enjoyed in and of itself, and I personally loved it. I thought it was hilarious! I love Piers Anthony’s humor and creativity, and of course, the puns, since Xanth is a world made up of puns!

More books by Piers Anthony:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Twins TT #24

I’d just finished reading The Margarets by Sheri S. Tepper, animaged the book featured twins, so I thought I’d do a TT on twins this week.

13 facts about twins:

  1. Feodor Vassiliev of Shuya, Russia gave birth to the most sets of twins; 16 sets (in addition to 7 sets of triplets & 4 sets of quadruplets). She had a total of 69 children(born between 1725-1765), 67 of whom survived infancy.
  2. Mrs. Peggy Lynn gave birth to Hanna on November 11 1995 and twin Eric on Feb 2 1996, 84 days later, the longest interval between twins.
  3. The oldest female twins in the world were Japan's Kin Narita and Gin Kanie who were born August 1 1892. Kin passed away on January 23 2000 from heart failure at the age of 107, and Gin passed away February 28 2001 at 108.
  4. The oldest females in the USA were most likely Alice Grubb Hill and Maggie Grubb Lambeth of North Carolina were born January 13 1884, and both died at 106.
  5. The oldest male twins ever were Eli and John Phipps born February 14 1803. Eli lived to 108 years, 9 days. They are also the USA's longest lived male twins.
  6. The world's first test tube twins are Stephen and Amanda Mays born June 5 1981.
  7. The most identical twins are John and William Reiff of Pennsylvania, who have won a record 22 titles in a most identical contest. They have had a 13 year winning streak (57-96).
  8. The youngest mother of twins is Donna Dowman of England, conceived twins at 13 and had Rachel and Rebecca at age 14 in 1997. Nicola Doherty of England had her twins Courteney and Caitlyn April 20 1997 when she was 14.
  9. The youngest father of twins is James Sutton of England, who was 13 when his girlfriend Sarah Drinkwater (age 17) had identical twins Leah and Louise in late 1999.
  10. The oldest mother of twins is Lin Fu-mei of Taiwan, who apparently had twins at age 59. Judy Cates of the USA had twins at age 58. Lynne Bezant of England had twins David and Susan on May 24 2001 at age 56. Marilyn Nolen had twins Travis and Ryan on March 22 2000 at age 55.
  11. Twins run in my family! One of my aunts was born a twin, her twin died as a child in a car accident. I also have cousins who are fraternal twins, a boy and a girl.
  12. My brother’s wife is now pregnant with twin girls!
  13. They’re due on the last week of August! Very soon now! =)

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Margarets by Sheri S. Tepper


The Margarets by Sheri S. Tepper

I’d been a huge fan of Tepper’s ever since I read Beauty, which was one of the most amazing fairy-tale retellings I’d ever read.

Since then, I’ve read only this book and Grass, and I am so amazed by her ability to weave such complex worlds in her books.

In The Margarets, humans on Earth have exhausted Earth’s natural resources with overpopulation and indifference, to the point that the intergalactic government have decided that something has to be done to control the population, or some other entities will decide to destroy all humans instead, to preserve Earth.

Humans try to negotiate with the other beings, but the only resource they have an abundance of are people, so they export their children out as bondslaves.

Margaret is one of them… Or should I say, she is seven of them. Margaret was the only human child living on one of the colonies, and to keep loneliness away, she created six imaginary companions, who are all aspects of herself. As she grows up, one by one, these companions are separated from her.

They go on to live different lives in different planets around the galaxy, but it is crucial to the human race that the Margarets find one another again.

As I’ve said, I love Tepper’s complex worlds, she gives so much details of the background, the places, and all the different inhabitants of the planets. I also love her characters; all the Margarets, so different yet so similar, and the other colorful characters, including the vile but so interesting K’Famirs.

Because her stories are so complex, it’s sometimes hard to dive into them, but once you’re in, you’re completely engrossed, and they’re always worth it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MIA : TT #23

Wow, the last time I did a T13 was on May 7th, over 3 months ago!! I had no idea it was so long ago! Time really flies, doesn’t it?

So anyway, since I’d been MIA so long on T13, I thought the most appropriate T13 for me today, after not doing one for so long, is:

13 Reasons why I’ve been MIA on T13:

  1. Planning my wedding guest list, not as easy as I thought it would be!
  2. Preparing and taking our pre-wedding photographs. Still have a lot to do and prepare for, before the second shoot.
  3. Writing and recording our new and old original songs. Also planning for the homemade music videos. =)
  4. Studying Chinese! I’ve been learning Chinese on my own, and reading Chinese comic books to help me learn. That’s another reason why there’ve been less book reviews here, I’ve been reading less English books.
  5. Studying for my double degree in Holistic Nutrition and Natural Health. So interesting, but the projects are time-consuming.
  6. Preparing our documents and other necessary information for our immigration application to Canada.
  7. Learning and practicing new songs, and performing at weddings and other events.
  8. Working on our upcoming site for our music and other related info.
  9. There’s been a lot of babies popping out from our friends and relatives, so I’ve been busy crocheting baby stuff for them too!
  10. Oh, I recently started writing snail mail to new penpals. Haven’t had a penpal since I was 12, and really loving having things in the mail to look forward to.
  11. Started playing badminton again, because I realized I’m sedentary most of the time and need some exercise to keep fit.
  12. Ok, ok! I’ll admit it! I’d been twittering a lot too. =P
  13. And I’m just plain terrible at time management. =(

I’ll try to do better with T13s, because honestly, I’ve missed it so much! I miss visiting everyone’s T13s and coming up with ideas for my own. It’s too much fun for me to stop, so I’m back, and I’ll be as regular as I possibly can!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas


The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

This book is one of my favorite books. I haven’t done an official “poll” yet, but I would venture to say that it might be in my top 10 list of favorite books!

The first time I read this book was the year the movie came out, in 2002. I read the book before I knew the movie was coming out, and I fell in love with the book. (I hated the movie, by the way, it’s so meaningless compared to the book!)

This is a huge book, over 1000 pages, and this was the only book I’d ever devoured so intensely which was more than 350 pages long! I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat for most of the book, and even more towards the later part of the book.

There were so many twists and surprises in the story, and so much pain and anguish, but with a sort of sadism, we can’t help but watch all this happen with glee and a “Well, it serves them right!” attitude even while we are also saying “Oh, no! Oh my gosh! Oh, those poor things!”

If you haven’t read this yet, I’m jealous! You’ll get to read it and savor it the first time, because honestly, the first time’s the best. After that, the book’s still good, but since you already know what’s going to happen, it loses a lot of its shock-factor.

This is the third time I’m reading the book again, after about 5 years, and it’s great because I’ve forgotten much of it and can enjoy it over again, but still… nothing beats the first time.

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kid


The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kid

I’ve read The Secret Life of Bees, and I loved it, and I’m a little fascinated with mermaids and mermaid stories too, so any book with “mermaid” in the title is bound to catch my attention.

While this book isn’t really about mermaids, it has a very interesting mermaid myth that features quite prominently in it.

What the book is about, is a 42-year old married woman, Jessie, who feels discontented with her life and finds a great reason to leave her husband and her home for the island she grew up in, when her mother deliberately cuts off her own finger.

There she falls in love with a monk, Brother Thomas, who hasn’t taken his final vows and who falls in love with her.

So what do you expect happens after that? What could happen after that? I pretty much expected the ending, which is to say, it is quite predictable, but in this instance and with this book, I’d say that it’s not the destination but the journey that matters. It certainly seems that way, for both the reader and for Jessie.

It is the journey that allows Jessie to grow and learn, and see things she’d never really seen before. Many things happen along the way, and she finds out things about her own past that she never expected, but in the end, things work out for the best.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read, but not an amazingly good one. What I enjoyed most was the descriptions of the mermaid chair and the myth. Well, what can I say, I do have a fascination with mermaid stories.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett


Bel Canto by Ann Patchett









From the back cover blurb:

Kidnappers storm an international gathering hosted by a poor Latin American country to promote foreign trade. Unfortunately their intended target, the President, has stayed home to watch his favorite soap.

The takeover settles into a siege, bringing together an unlikely assortment of hostages, including a beautiful American opera diva, a Japanese CEO who is her biggest fan and his unassuming translator. Two couples, complete opposites, fall in love, and a horrific imprisonment is transformed into an unexpected heaven on earth.

My review:

If I had to use one word, it would be “poignant”. Since luckily enough, I can use more than one word, it is a beautiful, profound, and ironic story about how a terrible situation can turn into a magical one.

Most importantly, it’s a story about people, about human nature, about how monsters can turn into angels when you get to know them and understand why they do the things they do. It’s about love, the kind of love that happens only when there are no expectations, no demands, no fear about what others may think.

There is so much to think about in this book, so much to ponder upon, so much to rejoice for and to grieve for. I am still in awe over this book, and it has won a place in my top favorite books of all time. I’m sure, many years from now, I will still love it as much as I love it now.

Master by Colette Gale


Master by Colette Gale

I’d previously read Unmasqued by Colette Gale, which was an erotica novel based on The Phantom of the Opera.

I had also purchased this book, which is an erotic novel based on The Count of Monte Cristo, which is one of my all-time favorite books.

I loved Unmasqued, but I must say that while Master was a good read, it could not compare with the original story.

Of course, I’m well aware that writing a better book than the original wasn’t Gale’s purpose at all, so all in all, I’d say she did a very good job with this book.

The only other erotic novel I’d ever read was written by Gale too, so I might not have a basis for comparison, but what I like about her books is that they’re not written solely for the sake of the sex scenes. The storylines are well outlined and told.

If nothing else, this book made me nostalgic to read The Count of Monte Cristo again. I had read The Count of Monte Cristo twice before, and the last time was a while ago, so Gale’s Master was a great reminder of how amazing the book was.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award


Moony from The Book Lover was kind enough to award me the One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you so much! =)


I’d like to pass it on to some wonderful people with really great blogs! They are:




Ms Ulat Buku

New Layout!

Whew! It took a while to get this new layout right, there were so many bugs and I had to do it over four times!!

I got bored of the old layout, and especially the white background. I couldn't stand all that white anymore, so I looked all over for one that suited my purpose and made sure it wasn't white!

I hope you all like this one. =)

Anyway, I know I've been a bit slow on updating my reviews lately, I blame it on the old layout, I was just so sick of it! =P

I'll do better now that I've got a new look, I promise! =)

I've still got some things I need to work on... links, for one, because the old one was outdated, and I haven't linked to some of my new favorite book blogs. Please be patient with that.

Another thing is that I've changed my commenting system to Disqus, so unfortunately all the old comments were deleted! =(

I'm going to see if I can log in to my old commenting system account and manually enter some of the more recent entries. It's a shame if the old comments are lost because there were some really great ones.

So anyway, lots to do, and many books to review too! Talk later! =)

(PS. Ok, fine, there's some white in the layout, but at least it's not the whole background! =P )

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