Thursday, January 26, 2012

[Review] Deadman Wonderland Volume 1

Deadman Wonderland Volume 1
Deadman Wonderland Volume 1 by Jinsei Kataoka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Slight spoilers ahead.

The story starts with a devastating earthquake hitting Japan, leaving most of Tokyo underwater. Ten years later, 14-year-old Igarashi Ganta is joking around with his friends in class when a mysterious “Red Man” appears and kills everyone in Ganta’s class--except him. Ganta passes out in the classroom, but later regains consciousness to find out that he is the sole suspect in his classmates’ murders, which he is convicted of and sentenced to death.

Ganta is sent to Deadman Wonderland, a privately owned prison that uses its inmates to entertain the public. It’s purpose is to gain money to rebuild Tokyo. Supposedly. Ganta is placed in a collar (that he later learns emits poison that can only be counteracted by “candy”) and finds himself thrust in this bizarre prison life where inmates are mutilated and killed for the enjoyment of others. The public, however, believes that these “games” are staged.

This volume basically chronicles Ganta’s “introduction” into the system. There isn’t a lot of time spent on his life, his trial, or his classmates’ death. The readers are pretty much thrust into the beginning of his new life at Deadman Wonderland. You learn a little about the rules in his new home. Even though there is a “rule book,” you only learn pieces of the “rules” as Ganta learns the rules (of course he hasn’t read the rule book, silly) instead of having everything spelled out for the readers.

At first, I thought I would only give this three stars. I was enjoying the story, for sure, but I wasn’t bowled over. Around the middle of the story, though, I was trying to hurry through so I could find out what happened next. The pace picked up considerably as more characters and variables were introduced and as Ganta struggled with finding some way to make his prison stay bearable, which he at first decides will be done by following the rules of the prison--until he finds out there are too many conflicting rules in that place.

Two of the characters introduced in the story fascinated me--Shiro and Yō.

I really enjoyed Shiro. Shiro is very childlike and loyal. She’s quick and dexterous, seeming to view the prison as a playground more than a punishment. I love how protective she is of Ganta, even going as far as trying to ensure that he won the game they were in together. They seem to have a history together that Ganta can’t quite remember which dates back to the Tokyo earthquake. Ganta has blocked out the event, but Shiro remembers.

Then, there’s Yō. When we first meet Yō, he seems mostly innocent. He appears very friendly and somewhat shy, but as the story progresses, we’re given hints that something sinister is going on behind Yō’s mask. Even later in the story, we find out that the man overseeing the facility is using Yō to spy on Ganta and giving him large sums of the prison currency in exchange for information. I’m looking forward to finding out more about Yō and his motivations.

There’s a supernatural/sci-fi element that is hinted at throughout the story, also, but never fully explored, but I’m guessing, given the way this ended, that we’re about to find out so much about that part of the story and this “branches of sin” thing. Will definitely be reading the next volume soon. And I hope they start answering some of the questions I have like where are Ganta’s parents? Did they die in the earthquake? Great read overall, though

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

[Review] A Day No Pigs Would Die

A Day No Pigs Would Die
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I went into this with a Dandelion Wine mentality. I expected another story about a boy teetering on the brink of adulthood and childhood. This story was that and much more. The story focuses around Robert. A twelve-year-old boy living on a farm in Vermont. He acquires a pig, which he loves because it is his, and well, his father butchers pigs for a living.

This book was just a little over 100 pages, and it is classified as a "children's book", but this book packs an awful powerful punch to be children's book. So many questions come to mind while reading that book. Religion, familial relationships, politics. I found the story very touching, and my eyes even misted over because of a scene or two. I don't know if Peck meant for the book to be this way, but it is.

In relating to Banned Books Week, I could see why some of the subject matter would get someone a little upset. I didn't so much care about the word "bitch", which wasn't used in a derogatory nature. There was a very graphic scene dealing with pigs mating. I mean, I wouldn't demand that schools stop reading this. Even in the "rape" of the pig, there's something to be learned. You can't just shield kids from things like this. Hell, they've probably heard/seen/read a lot worse than a graphic scene involving two pigs.

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[Review] Ecstasy

EcstasyEcstasy by Irvine Welsh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book contains three stories that revolve around romance and Ecstasy among other things.

Lorraine Goes to Livingston is the first story. It was titled a "Rave and Regency" romance. Famed regency romance novel writer Rebecca Navarro (who writes stories such as Lucy Goes to Liverpool and Yasmin Goes to Yeovil) has a stroke, which jolts her out of her dreamworld. When she actually takes a look at reality, she realizes that her husband is a prick who's using her for her money, and he uses her money for all forms of debauchery. She, along with the help of a nurse -- Lorraine, plan revenge on her dear husband.

This was my favorite story in the whole book. The next two stories are powerful, especially the one following this one, but this one held the most value to me. When you first meet Rebecca, you don't really like her much, but you feel empathy for her. And Lorraine is one of those characters that you can relate to. She's a single woman who has questions about her sexuality and wishes that everyone would stop trying to force love down her throat. Then, of course with this being your typical Irvine story, you have drug abuse, raves, and some bizarre sex practices (bestiality and necrophilia for this particular story).
Fortune's Always Hiding is the second story and is subtitled "A Corporate Drug Romance". The story revolves around a woman, who was the unfortunate victim of a drug marketed in the 60's, and a man, who's obsessed with soccer (or fitba, as they commonly say ;Þ). The woman is hell-bent on revenge and the man is in love and would do anything for her.

Another powerful story revolving around revenge, but this time it's against a big corporation who refuses to take responsibility for destroying people's lives. They've given money, but they aren't truly remorseful about their actions. I loved how Welsh jumped back and forth giving us tiny portions of what happened to the woman, Samantha. This one is my second favorite story in the book as well.

The Undefeated, an Acid House Romance, is about a jobless, drug dealer-slash-raver named Lloyd, and a unhappy, sexually frustrated housewife named Heather.

There's not a lot that I can say for this story. Most of the story is spent following their everyday struggles and few pages are actually dedicated to their meeting up. Lloyd's side of things didn't interest me all that much. It was interesting at times, but most times, I found his commentary lacking. Heather's side of things was quite fascinating though. It was just something about reading about her going from "good" Heather to "bad" Heather that really kept me reading her chapters.

It seems like I liked the stories in the order they were written. I loved the first and was only partially impressed by the last, even though, I did really love the hopeful ending we get at the end of the last story. Yeah, I'll admit the characters aren't all that drawn out, but this is only a 275 page book. What do you expect? Shrek's analysis? A wonderful addition for people who collect Welsh's off-beat works.

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[Review] Dark Thirst

Dark Thirst
Dark Thirst by Donna Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally, a vampire anthology that I can really sink my teeth into. No pun intended. This is a collection of vampire stories written about vampires of color by black authors. Lately, I've found myself mostly disappointed in vampire anthologies, but this one was well worth my time (and money). Even the foreword was fascinating, chronicling the black vampire through history.

The Ultimate Diet by Monica Jackson (5/5)
An overweight computer programmer who longs to be thin thinks she's finally found the perfect solution to her weight loss problem when her new neighbor moves in. This story was very funny. It almost seem parody-like, poking fun of the lengths some women will go to to be thin.

Vamp Noir by Angela C. Allen (5/5)
A vampire finds herself the enforcer of a mob family after being exiled from her clan. This was probably my favorite story because it combined two of my favorite things -- vampires and the mafia. There isn't much more I can say about the story without giving it all away.

Human Heat: The Confessions of an Addicted Vampire by Omar Tyree, writing as The Urban Griot (3/5)
This story revolves around a creole vampire who was turned in New Orleans. This vampire finds himself yearning the blood of virgins, which is particularly potent to vampires, making them do all kinds of crazy stuff to do it. This story was okay. I liked the vampire's back story more than his current day one.

Whispers During Still Moments by Linda Addison (5/5)
A vampire hunter who's half vampire is in the business of battling old vampires known as "The Firsts." Along the way, he meets another vampire hunter who he falls in love with and finds himself ready to tear all hell down for her. I really liked this story, 'nuff said.

The Touch Donna Hill (4/5)
A female vampire must find her human mate (who she has to turn) before her time runs out. You know, I liked this story not so much because it's a vampire story, but because the sense "touch" played a major part in the story, and the authoress did a wonderful job in expressing that.

The Family Business by Kevin S. Brockenbrough (5/5)
A story that takes place in the 'hood, ya'll. ;D It's basically about a family who has a supernatural secret that's passed down from generation to generation. The heroine of the story is dealing with a husband who's abusing his wife until sister girl gets raw and unleashes the beast. I loved this!

Overall, this was an excellent collection of vampire stories. Much better than many other vampire themed anthologies I own.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

[Review] Batman: Sword of Azrael

Batman: Sword of Azrael
Batman: Sword of Azrael by Dennis O'Neil

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm finally getting around to reading the Knightfall saga. I'd read the novelized version last year, but was a little put off by the writing and didn't know if I'd enjoy the comics since I didn't enjoy the novel that much (and the comics and novel share the same writer). However, just as I speculated in my review of the novel, Dennis O’Neil is a much better comic writer than novelist.

This book is a prelude to the Knightfall story. We're introduced to Jean Paul Valley who has just found out that he's part of the secret Order of St. Dumas. Unbeknownst to him, his father has been prepping him to take over after his death by imprinting him with subliminal conditioning. Jean Paul is a Computer Science student in Gotham when his father fails at an assassination attempt against a former member of the order, a man named Carlton LeHah, who happens to be in Gotham at that time.

Near death, Jean Paul's father finds him and instructs him on what to do upon his death, and Jean Paul finds himself catapulted into this secret fraternity, taking up the mantle of the "avenging angel."

Now, this wouldn't be a Batman story without Batman, so I'll get to his role in all this. The failed assassination attempt captures the attention of Batman due to the fact that it happened during a very large celebration in Gotham. The fallout from the failed attempt caused causalities during the festivities. Batman's interest is piqued when he finds part of Azrael's costume and learns a little about the Order through Barbara's research.

So, when Lehah reveals that he has plans to go to Europe to where the Order is supposedly based, Batman decides to follow. Why? I guess Batman can't pass up a good mystery. Jean Paul just so happens to be in Europe as well per his father's final instructions. He's gotten a new teacher in the form of Nomoz who unlocks the subliminal teachings and prepares him to take on the role of Azrael.

To make a long story very short, LeHah goes a little nuts and decides that he’s a servant of Biis, Azrael’s greatest demonic foe. Nomoz decides that Batman is a demonic foe, as well, but learns better when Nomoz and Jean Paul have to team up with Alfred to save Batman from LeHah.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this because there’s just something about a story that starts out with Batman knowing everything that gets to me a little. And apparently, not only does Batman have heating filaments in his suit, but he also knows how to make high quality snowshoes out of tree limbs. Go figure. Not that I actually have a problem with any of that, but I just think things like that could be written better to not seem so worthy of eye-rolling.

However, once I got over that, I did enjoy the story. While Batman is certainly a big part of the story, this is basically an origin story for Jean Paul. He seemed to easily give in to the fact that he was part of some order of assassins. Maybe this was part of his conditioning. Maybe he was just too intrigued to question all of it. It was interesting to read him try to hang on to who he was before Azrael while becoming Azrael.

He does lose himself a little in the persona. At one point in the story, Alfred asks him who is he outside Azrael. He answers that he no longer remembers. Nomoz pushes Jean Paul to give up his sense of compassion and helpfulness because Azrael only avenges. Jean Paul fights with this notion a bit, and by the end of the comic, he decides that, despite the costume, he isn’t willing to abandon what makes him human.

I’ve made my peace with O’Neil’s writing, so I’m sure that I’ll be able to finish the rest of this without flinching every other sentence.

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[Review] The Child Thief

The Child ThiefThe Child Thief by Brom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While I think from just reading the summary, most people know they are not walking into a completely black and white, good vs evil, story. You know that it will be somewhere in between, that there is a lot of gray area in this story. And boy was it ever.

Brom took this fairytale and crafted such a complex, dark story of two sides who essentially want the same thing, but both going about their own misguided way of doing it, doing what they feel they need to do to survive and win. And while Peter's side is arguably the right side, the other side led by The Captain (and "led" is used loosely here because the Captain actually came to be a likable, competent character who is helpless against greater forces at work) isn't as simple and as evil as you'd think they'd be.

Wonderful book. I expected a very dark tale, but I didn't expect to get so emotionally invested in the story of Peter, his Devils (the Lost Boys), Avalon (Neverland), or the flesh-eaters (the Captain and his crew). I shed more than a few tears and laughs with this book. Brom weaved such a wonderful world to explore. I wished the story would've gone and followed them more after their big battle, but then again, I'm glad Brom allowed my imagination to decide what happens next.

Easily a favorite. And Brom's illustrations were breathtaking. I loved his Sekeu the best and that's definitely how she appeared in my mind.

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[Review] Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia

Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia
Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A young woman finds herself in Batman’s crosshairs when she decides to mete out her own personal brand of justice against the men who are responsible for her sister’s death. To protect herself, she acquiesces herself to Wonder Woman through an ancient ritual called “Hiketeia,” a custom from Diana’s world that cannot be refused without severe consequences, leaving Wonder Woman at odds with Batman when she accepts.

A Google Buzz friend recommended this when we had a discussion about essential reading for Wonder Woman. I’m still feeling my way around the DC world, so comics that I can understand easily without feeling overwhelmed with the situations and characters are high priority to me. While I do know a little more about Wonder Woman than a completely new reader who might know nothing at all, I think this a great primer for new readers no matter how new they are to the Wonder Woman mythos. Rucka really focused on the character aspect of Diana, and readers are able to glean important information about Diana—who she is as a person, where she comes from, her belief systems—and build a solid foundation to grow from.

The only complaint(s) that I have for this arc is that it’s entirely too short. It seemed like there was so much more that could’ve been said and done. I really wanted to see Batman and Wonder Woman struggle over the fate of this woman, to see how far each would’ve been willing to go to do what they needed to do. I wanted to see more conflict in Diana having to forgo her duties as a hero to satisfy the rules of the ritual. And I wasn’t too keen on this ritual being something they couldn’t refuse without consequences. However, if they’d given Wonder Woman a choice, I’m sure that she wouldn’t have harbored a fugitive.

That aside, Greg Rucka has become one of my favorite writers. If there’s one thing that I always complain about in comics, it’s writers who don’t handle characters with the respect they deserve. Sometimes, writers write characters with what seems like so little regard. Rucka does seem to respect the character and takes it to the next level by constructing such a fascinating story that really get to the heart of the characters. And while there’s plenty of action in this story (and the action scenes are great), the story seems to be more character-driven rather than relying on much action.

Excellent read. I recommend this to newcomers and vets alike for the terrific storytelling and character introspection.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

[Review] Rose Madder

Rose Madder
Rose Madder by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before I even start this review, I must mentioned that it will be very biased because I love this book. Rose Madder is a deeply touching story that mainly focuses around the struggles of Rose Daniels and her need to be free of her husband and his oppressing dominance in her life. Rose has been the victim of her husband's rage for the past fourteen years. She really has no "identity" of her own in her marriage; she lives to serve her husband. If things aren't as he wants them to be, she suffers the consequences of his violent rages.

For fourteen years, he has been putting her through unspoken horrors, and Rose has been enduring this torture in a deep daze -- until the day she saw the spot of blood. It only took a spot of blood to wake her from her dreamy state and send her running for the high hills. It wasn't the fact that she had bled. She's bled many times in her life. It was the fact that that one betraying spot represented everything that was wrong in her life.

So, Rose leaves her husband. She finds herself in a strange city, alone and afraid. She doesn't really know what to do. She's been her husband's punching bag for so long that she doesn't know how to function without him at first. It's her sheer determination to survive (and the help of a stranger) that leads her to a shelter for women.

She gets her life together, learns to depend on herself, and starts gaining confidence. She's even found a painting to decorate the wall of her new apartment -- never mind the painting seems to be expanding. For the first time in a long time, things are looking up for Rose. Her troubles aren't completely over though. Her husband has made himself a solemn vow to find her, and when he does, he's going to "talk to her up close"?

King has given us a chilling novel that delves into a life an abused woman. He has given us insight into her thoughts and fears and has painted a truly believable heroine for his readers. You'll find yourself angered at Rose's husband, disgusted with the things he put her through, while cheering her on. You'll always watch a broken woman struggle to put the pieces of her life back together and learn there is more to life than being her husband's rag doll. We watch Rose tap into her strength. Above all I think it reminds of what most abused women go through.

Of course, Stephen King added a fantasty element to the story, but I won't give it away. The only thing that disappointed me was the lack of a "realistic" ending, but like I said, I won't give that away.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 Book Challenge

A new year, a new book challenge. Last year, I challenged myself to read 100 books. So far, I haven't limited myself to what I read as long as I'm reading. My list from 2011 included comics, novels, (some) kids' books, manga, and whatever else that I read. It will be mostly the same this year--with a heavier emphasis on comics and manga just because my TBR piles for those two genres have gotten so big that I really need to get some of those out of the way. I've challenged myself to 200 books this year, but it should be easily done since I plan to read more comics and manga for this year's reading challenge. I also wanted to add another element to my reading challenge for the year.  

While looking through my old book review blog, which is where many of my recent reviews have come from, I stumbled on a few books that I'd rated pretty low. Most of these reviews are some years old (like 8+ years) and I couldn't remember exactly what I hated about some of these books. And for some of these books, I think I may have been unfairly harsh on them. Now that some time has gone by, I think I would appreciate and understand the themes better now for some of these. I've decided that part of my book goal for the year would be rereads of books that I disliked. Not that I wasn't going to reread a few books, anyway, but those rereads would've been books that I loved.

The short list of panned books:

Vittorio, the Vampire by Anne Rice - Originally read January 2004. I gave this book 0 stars, and I don't think I've ever done that no matter how much I hated a book. I must've really been pissed off at her when I originally read it. From reading my past review on it, I thought it was unfocused with no real motivation. I have a feeling that my feelings on this won't change too much for some reason.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin - Originally read December 2003. I couldn't really connect with the main character in this one, but at the time, I didn't really understand the pressures of a married woman with children (because I was neither a wife or mother at the time) much less how those pressures would be magnified in the character's era.

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury - Originally read in September 2002. According to my review, this book bored me to death. I found it tedious and just a way for Bradbury to used as many descriptive synonyms as he could find for common words. Honestly, after 9 years, I don't even remember reading this book, so it must've been forgettable at the time.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis - Originally read in October 2003. I was actually on the cusp of like and dislike with the book. I can remember tiring of the obsessive label dropping, even though I realized that it was to really show this shallow side. Also, I remember thinking the violence was redundant and boring after a while.

We'll see if a reread changes my opinion on any of these books. I may add more, but those were the first ones I found while going through my old journal. There are some that I remember too well, though, and I will NEVER read those again.

So, there should be quite a few reviews up at the end of year. Let's get to reading!
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[Review] Animal Farm

Animal Farm
Animal Farm by George Orwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I know that this book was written as a satire of communism, and I'm sure that's been drilled into everyone's head a thousand times over. I won't talk about that; instead, I'll talk about what the books means to me. I skirted around reading this book for a while because the subject seemed like something I wouldn't be particularly interested in, but I was wrong.

Animal Farm was started on an idea that was planted in the mind of the other animals by an old and respected farm figure -- Old Major. He had a dream that animals would take their place as the true heirs of the land. After Old Major dies, a revolution takes place on the farm, and the animals overthrow the owner, Mr. Jones, and claim the farm as their own.

At first, things went as planned. All animals were equal, and many things were done with the good of the animals in mind. Then, the pigs (who were smarter than other animals, naturally) began to slowly warp this dream into something more cruel and deceitful until the animals can hardly distinguish between the pigs and Man.

I think this story can apply to any form of government. The pigs kept the other animals in line by telling them what they wanted to hear or by using excessive force -- much like many governments in the world today. They twisted and warped the thoughts of the masses, making themselves look more heroic and "for the masses". They even had the scapegoat in the form of a banished pig named Snowball on which all their problems were blame. "Blame Snowball" seemed to be an underlying motto in the book.

The pigs benefited from the prosperity of the farm while it's other inhibitants suffered. Most of the animals were fiercely loyal, and the pigs misused this trust. A great example is Boxer who worked harder than anyone on the farm, and when he was no longer useful to the farm, he was suddenly an expendable asset (and you can imagine what happens from there). And you can see hints of that in any society. I never expected to enjoy this book as much as I did, and it will definitely be a part of my library for years to come.

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[Review] Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Why do people feel the need to compare this book to Harry Potter. Yes, they both have a magical world that exists beneath our own, but that is where the similarities end. If you're reading this series because you think it'll fill some void that Harry Potter has left, then, this probably is not for you. You're better off re-reading Harry Potter. If you're looking for a fast, light-hearted read, then you'll probably enjoy Artemis Fowl.

Artemis Fowl is the story of Artemis Fowl the Second and his quest to regain his family's fortune by blackmailing the fairies (basically). Artemis is a 12-year-old genius who descends from a long time of treacherous men. His mother is in a state of dementia, and his father is missing. Although Artemis isn't poor by anyone's standards, he wants to build up his family's once monstrous fortune.

I'll admit I didn't like Artemis very much in the beginning of the book. Arrogant and uncouth are along the lines I was thinking of, but as the story progressed, I did take a liking to the child genius. Eoin Colfer has successfully made a character that's both the villain and the hero, especially considering that most young adult fiction tends to be horribly cliched with the basic good vs. evil concept. Here, you'll find yourself thinking that Artemis is quite the villain, but at the same time, he is a child and certain things will conjure up a sympathetic feeling toward him. He's really not as heartless as he is first made out to be.

Then, there's the matter of the fairies. They're very much human in many aspects. They're more advanced than the "Mud People" (humans), but they hold certain ill sentiments toward the humans who they feel are a threat to world. Many of the fairies ideology about humans is amusing. They see humans are barbarians for using the bathroom IN their homes! (Can you imagine?) Their ideas about humans comes off with the staunch judgmental attitudes that's present even in our own world, but they show the human world through new eyes, which is very entertaining.

The only thing that really annoyed me about this book was the way the author would suddenly feel the need to take time out to "explain" the matter of things. The author would suddenly break in the story and say something like, "We should take this time out to talk about the Fowls?" The viewpoint would change and the omnipresent 3rd person tone would suddenly turn to omnipresent 1st person, and then back again. This disrupted my reading pattern, and I felt this could be better tied in with the story. It didn't happen often, though. Thank Goodness. I realize that this was supposed to be written as a medical journal "documentation", but it was still quite annoying

A good read. I wish I could give it 5 stars. If it hadn't been for those quirky sections that disrupted my reading, I would have given it five stars. I'm glad that I finally took the time out to read it, and I'll definitely look into reading more of this series.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

[Review] The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the story of Chinese mothers and their daughters. All the mothers originally immigrated from China, and all have faced hardships and challenges, which have made them stronger and wish for something better for their American daughters while instilling in them Chinese values, but their daughters aren't living it up. They're facing their own problems as well, divorce, failure, shortcomings.

This was a beautiful story about the complications between mother and daughters. While there are strong Chinese themes, any woman can look beyond this and maybe see their own relationship with their mother. There's so much unspoken between the mothers and daughters in this book. There are so many things they wish to tell each other, to make the other understand. There's a hazy gray area between them that they're trying to overcome.

I really enjoyed this book. As I mentioned, it was beautiful. It showed the triumphs and failures of mother and daughter. It touched on the complexity of mother-daughter relationships, how what a mother wants for a daughter may not be the same thing the daughter wants for herself. In fact, there are many complex mother-daughter issues. And the story ends on a note that lets you decide if things got better or worse for the mothers and daughters.

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[Review] The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the story of a future dystopia where women are treated as second-rate citizens with no rights and a choosen few, the handmaids, are only valued because of their ability to conceive children. The women are separated into classes, but still the women in this story have been robbed of their voices and their rights.

Women no longer have sovereignty over their bodies. They are no longer allowed to read, own property, money, anything. The story is told through the eyes of Offred, a handmaid, who can still remember the time before.

The handmaid's job is to bear children for the Commanders and their Wives. They're seen as "valued assests" of their country, but it's obvious that most of the other women in the society, especially the wives see them as nothing more than whores.

These women are brainwashed, led to believe that many things we see as an assault on women, such as rape, is really the women's fault. They wanted it. They deserved what they got. It's horrifying reading about these women being treated like animals.

While the story is largely about the handmaids, Offred's observations of the other women in the society show you that they're really all trapped, regardless of status. They're all treated second-rate, yet instead of banding together, they buy into the propaganda that women should be seen and not heard.

Offred doesn't just tell the story of the handmaids. She tells the story of her life before becoming a handmaid, how she became a handmaid, people she remembered in her life before, the way life was before. It's all intricately woven together in one tale.

I haven't read a story in a long time that's haunted and chilled me like this story. I'm an avid horror reader, but the story of this society really disturbed me. It left me with a lot to think about, and the ending itself was haunting.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

[Review] The Return

The Return
The Return by Christopher Pike

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Young adult horror. Continuation of Remember Me. Shari Cooper is still dead (haha). She was the victim of an attack in the first book, but now she's back again. She's given the chance to live life again without being born again. She accepts and is put into the body of a pregnant teen living in poverty, Jean Rodrigues -- who wants to die.

After an accident, Jean wakes up in the hospital a changed person, but she starts having weird flashbacks -- I guess they could be called. She starts remembering things that she's never remembered ever hearing or seeing, etc.

Again, this is kind of cliched and may seem a little cheesy, but it is a good read, in my opinion. This is my favorite book in the trilogy. There isn't as much action as in the first one. I think this one gives the message of hope while focusing on some of the things Shari is going through in the afterlife.

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[Review] Remember Me

Remember Me
Remember Me by Christopher Pike

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Young adult horror. Shari Cooper dies one night while at a party. She doesn't realize she's dead until the next day when her family acts like she isn't even there. Her death is ruled as suicide, but she knows she was murdered, and she sets out with the help of another ghost, Peter, to solve her murder.

Considering other young adult horror writers who were writing around the same time, this was a good novel despite some corny elements. Yes, it was very cliched. Yes, it was cheesy at points. But it was complex, original, and definitely a page turner. Pike was also very good at displaying emotion.

You don't feel cold toward the characters. You may even find yourself remembering feeling these same feelings for people in your life. Definitely something that I'll reread (once again) in the future.

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2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Tiara has read 6 books toward her goal of 52 books.

Tiara's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Elfstones Of Shannara
tagged: upcoming-reads, currently-reading, 2016-audiobook-challenge, classi...
Gardens of the Moon
tagged: currently-reading, fantasy, z-narrator-ralph-lister, 2016-audiobook...

Tiara's bookshelf: read

really liked it
Review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge and 2016-audiobook-challenge
The Girl from the Well
liked it
More reviews @ The Bibliosanctum TL;DR Review 2.5 to 3 stars. Not badly written… I’m just disappointed by the squandered potential. I’m going to reread Anna Dressed in Blood to make myself feel better about this Longer Review: T...
tagged: 2016-women-of-genre-fiction-reading, horror, and young-adult
Thirteen Reasons Why
I don't think this quite captures the complexity of bullying and suicide, and some of the issues that Hannah started facing toward the end of the novel really seemed to detract even more from the feelings she was going through by having ...
tagged: young-adult, popsugar-2016-reading-challenge, 2016-audiobook-challe...
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
liked it
Spoiler free review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge
The Phantom of the Opera
really liked it
tagged: classic-horror, classics, audiobook, 2016-audiobook-challenge, horr...

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