Monday, January 30, 2012

Incarnate Theater Treasure Hunt


Welcome to the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt!

Hello there! This is Best here. :-) Right now you're viewing B's Book Blog! This week, 48 bloggers are celebrating the release of INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows by participating in a treasure hunt with clues, activities, and lots of prizes including signed books and handknit fingerless mitts. You've reached a CLUE blog, which means somewhere on this page is a clue to finding the hidden page and grand prize entry form on Jodi's website. Follow 26 clues to get there!

For more information on the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt, check out Jodi's post.


Now that you're here, I'd like to play you a song that reminds me of Incarnate. :D

New Soul by Yael Naim

I'm a new soul
I came to this strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit 'bout how to give and take
But since I came here, felt the joy and the fear
Finding myself making every possible mistake

I know this song's happy tune doesn't really fit the mood in Incarnate, but it reminds me of Incarnate very much. See, the title is New Soul, which is what Ana is. This song captures the innocent feelings of someone in a completely new and strange surrounding, which is what I think Ana deserves. A Newsoul shouldn't have to be ashamed of herself or looked down on, she has about every right to live her life as everyone else. :-)



Now the exciting part! 
My clue for the password is . . . End: !
Remember, there are no spaces in this password!




LINKS TO OTHER CLUES:

Good luck with the treasure hunt, everyone!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In My Mailbox (8)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to let bloggers share books they've got in a week.

Bought: 
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
The Fault in our Stars by John Green (signed and hanklerfished! ♥)

Birthday presents: 
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (thanks Lek!)
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers (thanks Ben!)
How to Catch a Star  by Oliver Jeffers (thanks Ben!)
The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers (thanks Ben!)

This week I hosted a tour stop for INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows. 




Currently reading: 
The Book Thief
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak



HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Tour Stop: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows




Hey all! Today B's Book Blog! is hosting a book tour stop for Jodi Meadow's Incarnate with The Hollows Tour! Let's see what this book is about!
Title: Incarnate
Author: Jodi Meadows
Series: Newsoul #1
Expected publication: January 31st 2012 by HarperCollins Children's Books
Website: jodimeadows.com
Summary: Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why. Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame? Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

If you're interested in seeing my thoughts on Incarnate, feel free to read my review here

Now, for the book tour, I'd like to tell you about 5 things that remind me of Incarnate!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at TheStorySiren to let bloggers share books they've got each week.

January 7 - 14, 2012: another extremely busy and free-time-less week


Airhead by Meg Cabot (library)
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver (bought) 
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (bought) 

This week I've reviewed: 
The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

This week at B's Book Blog!
TGIF (1): 2012 Must-Reads

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review: The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

 
Title: The Brief History of the Dead
Author: Kevin Brockmeier
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy
Release Date: January 25th 2007
Publisher: John Murray Publishers
Pages: 272
Format: Paperback
Literary award: Borders Original Voices Award for Fiction (2006)
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from December 30, 2011 - January 11, 2012
My rating: 2 stars: Nothing special
Summary: From Kevin Brockmeier, one of this generation's most inventive young writers, comes a striking new novel about death, life, and the mysterious place in between. The City is inhabited by those who have departed Earth but are still remembered by the living. They will reside in this afterlife until they are completely forgotten. But the City is shrinking, and the residents clearing out. Some of the holdouts, like Luka Sims, who produces the City’s only newspaper, are wondering what exactly is going on. Others, like Coleman Kinzler, believe it is the beginning of the end. Meanwhile, Laura Byrd is trapped in an Antarctic research station, her supplies are running low, her radio finds only static, and the power is failing. With little choice, Laura sets out across the ice to look for help, but time is running out. Kevin Brockmeier alternates these two storylines to create a lyrical and haunting story about love, loss and the power of memory.


I have to say that The Brief History of the Dead is one of those books that sound promising but let me down because it doesn't live up to my expectation, and it's also boring. Actually I don't really want to review this, but since I haven't reviewed anything in a while, I think it's time I should do something about this laziness.

My brief summary of The Brief History of the Dead, which is a contemporary novel with some fantasy twist that tells a story of two worlds: the world of the living, and the word of the dead, aka "The City", goes like this: ..........................................................................................................

I'm not joking. I really cannot summarize it. There's pretty much nothing in the story. It's just pages and pages of nothingness. It goes nowhere. My feeling about the story in three words: WASTE OF TIME.


First of all, the narrative in the book bored the hell out of me. It's not engaging. The narrative is always switching between the life stories of the dead in The City, the happenings in The City, and the journey of Laura, who is the only person left in the world after the pandemic kills everyone. At first I thought the book was only going to tell me about each and everyone of the people in The City, because for quite some time, that's all it talks about! It goes on and on about how they die, or their memories of the world of the living, and the thumping sound that they hear after they die, and whatnot. And then it says that the city is shrinking. The people in the city begin to disappear for no apparent reason, blah blah blah. And then we're introduced to Laura Byrd the survivor, who is sent by Coca-Cola, the company that she works for, to Antarctica to conduct some research, and therefore trapped in the research station there. She had two colleagues with her, Puckett and Joyce, who, after realizing that their supplies were running low and that they lost contact with the outside world, set out to try to contact Coca-Cola because they felt like they were neglected by the company. Laura waits, but they never return. And then she decides that she has to find them and contact the company.

Her journey in Antarctica is long, I'm sure, but really, does the narrative have to tell us about her every footstep? All I've ever known about her journey is that she's always thinking about someone (it's trying to say that ALL the people who remain in the city are there because they are remembered by Laura, therefore they're not gone), and that she feels cold, and that she sets up her tent to sleep in it but can't sleep because she's too tired, and that she can feel her sweat freeze on her skin, blah blah boring blah. These things recur all the time. Honestly, I don't really want to know, thank you very much.

Now secondly, let's move on to a more interesting topic: the world-building. When I first read the back cover of this book, I was very interested indeed. "Imagine a place between heaven and earth. A city where everyone ends up after they die. This city looks like any other, with trees and houses and newspapers, where people work, drink coffee and fall in love. And here they remain, kept alive by the memories of those left behind on earth." I've always been interested in theories of afterlife, and this book promises one. The Brief History of the Dead has a really unique way of looking at it (or at least for me, as I have never come across anything like this before). In the book, when people die, they go to "the city". The City is neither heaven nor hell, it's just a place for those who are dead but are still remembered by the living. Basically, they will remain there until they are completely forgotten, or in other words, until all the people who know or remember them are dead. Some Christians who are there start losing their faith, when they don't get the heaven that their religion promises. Some keep holding on to it, for they don't know what might happen, where they might go next. Nobody knows since when The City has existed. Sounds interesting, doesn't it?

But I'm not impressed. This world is very sloppily built. In the book, the people in The City do things that they shouldn't have to do, since, you know, they're dead. Some have to go to work, while others have to beg for money on the streets. They are hungry, and they need sleep. They are in relationships with new people they meet there, and they build families consisting of people who are not blood-related. All this doesn't make one bit of sense to me. There are refrigerators and sofas and books and stuff that the living world has, but where do all those stuff come from? Who created them? It just sounds ridiculous and out of nowhere. The world-building isn't believable at all. And since it's a city, and it's also HUGE, since no one has ever been to the end of the road whatsoever, shouldn't there be a government or something? Since people in this afterlife have jobs, having a ruling government sounds reasonable, don't you think? How do all these people manage to live together without some sort of authorities? Doesn't make sense to me.

And lastly, the characters? I don't care about any of them. I think it's all this switching scenes that makes it hard to really feel connected to anyone in particular. Personally I find the characters quite flat. We don't know anything much about them. And there are just too many characters that it's hard to keep track of who's who.

I could have hated this book. So many things I don't like about it, you see. But if there's anything I like at all, it's the writing. I don't know how to explain it exactly, all I can say is that I think it's quite beautiful. The words sound confident and enchanting, but sadly, the writing alone couldn't save the book when the story isn't well-developed enough.


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This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Friday, January 13, 2012

TGIF (1): 2012 Must-Reads

TGIF is a weekly meme hosted by GReads. Each week a question will be posted and everyone can share their answers!
This Friday's Question:
2012 Must Reads: Which books are at the top of your list
to be read this year (new or old releases)?
This year I plan to read a lot of books indeed! These are 10 of my top to-read list for this year. Most of them have been sitting on my shelf for way too long, and that's one of the reasons why I should pick them up and read them already. 


Sorry for the lack of update. Life right now is pretty crazy, and my internet was dead the whole week last week! Midterm's coming closer now. Will try to find more time to read and review and update more often! :-) 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games, #1
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Release Date: September 14th, 2008
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Kindle eBook
Pages: 374
Read on December 31st, 2011
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. 


Last read of 2011! YAY!

After sitting around for about an hour or two, trying unsuccessfully to figure out why I didn't love this book, and whether something could possibly be wrong with me for not loving it, I finally decided that the only way I'll ever get an answer from myself is to start writing. Things figure themselves out as I write, usually. It's one of the few ways I get to think and say what I really feel, after all. So I see no point in postponing this review anymore. And oh, HAPPY NEW YEAR! It's 3.45 am of January 1st, 2012.


The Hunger Games' rating is spectacular. I mean, an average of 4.54 stars, with 352,384 ratings! Before I read it, I saw the rating and I was sure I was going to love it. I admit I judge a book by its rating. Happy with a promise of an amazing book, I dove right in. I actually liked the first few chapters of the book. I thought they were quite interesting. But then I got to the 46% of the book and decided I was disappointed. Because nothing was really happening. However, I have to add that the book is addictive as hell. I read on and when they were some more actions, things were looking up. I enjoyed it from then on, until the moment I thought the author pulled a goddamn cheap deus ex machina by announcing that there can be two winners if they are from the same district. I was enraged! I had to rant it out to someone!  Apparently I had expected some sort of kickass rebellion against the Power That Be, and not a SUDDEN CHANGE OF RULE to be in the hero and heroine's favor! I thought it was so cheap I was offended! But then it wasn't a deus ex machina after all -- just part of the plan to make the show more dramatic. Whew. I cooled down then.  After that, I very much enjoyed most of the rest of the journey. The book had me so hooked! There's no denying that! 

But then let's face my true feelings... I didn't love it. No. I was convinced something was wrong with me. I didn't love this book the way I'd thought I would. I didn't immediately shelve it as a favorite. I looked at the awesome shelf and thought the book wasn't good enough to be on there. I considered taking it off my wishlist. WHY? WHY WAS I NOT IN LOVE WITH IT? WHY????????????????? I felt so lost.

Apparently I don't think it is amazing like the majority of people. I mean, it's good, it's great, but it isn't amazing. Reading it wasn't breathtaking. I remember holding my breath a few times. Not most of the time. I don't have that heart-beating-fast sensation after I finished it. Most of the time I had a blank expression on my face. I was even aware of that, yes, because as I read, I wondered why it didn't trigger anything in me at all. I just can't explain it. All the time I was reading it, I braced myself to be hit with surprises. I expected to be blown away. I expected to feel amazed. I expected the author's genius to show. Didn't happen. I wish I'd loved it. I don't want to have to justify myself, but I guess I will have to now. 

I liked that the book is one of the most addictive books I have ever read! It kept me wanting more, turning pages, unable to tear my gaze away! I liked the excitement, although it wasn't quite enough to make my facial features move. It did manage to make my heart pound at some points, though. I liked the romance! It was cute in the cave! I liked some characters: Katniss, Gale, and Caesar. Katniss for being strong and single-minded, and of course, smart. Gale for some reasons I can't explain. He just sounds perfect. Rebellious, strong, hard-working, caring, perfect best friend. And Caesar for making me smile a few times. 

I'm not sure if I liked Peeta. He's pretty naive, but also kind, and kind of cute, but he seems weak to me. With a heroine as tough as Katniss, it's bit weird to have a weaker hero. I don't know. I admit he made me squeal, but not often. Another thing is the writing. It's fine, as far as writing goes, but it's not gorgeous. The descriptions aren't too gory, which is good. However, I think the story telling doesn't quite work. I personally think it would be more interesting if it was told in the third person point of view. Maybe. (But I've heard that the author rewrote her third-person-pov script and resulted in this first-person one.) And from multiple perspectives too, not just from Katniss, that way we know exactly what's going on, and not just what Katniss knows, which seems limited. 

I didn't really like 1) that Katniss isn't even sure if she loves Peeta. What the? But I guess this will make sense in book two. Still, I'd love to know for real what she's thinking, since it's told in her perspective and all. 2) The way Katniss and Peeta's romance works. I'd expected some sort of fierce battling, the fighting-for-life-against-and-falling-in-love-with-each-other thing. Didn't happen. Instead, they just stick with each other. And most of the time one must take care of the other, because he/she is injured or sick. Nothing heart-wrenching ever happens between them, no tension. Only some cute stuff in the cave. And that's it. And 3) THE ENDING. Could it be more abrupt and forced? I mean, I'm fine with how it ends, but NOT the way it was written. I can almost say I hated the ending. 

To think about it, there's really no part in this book that I loved. Sigh. I'd expected so much. I hate falling down from high expectations. It hurts. Why is it doing this to me but come out as amazing to others? WHY AM I NOT IN LOVE WITH IT??????????????????

Anyhow, I'm totally going to read book two and three. See if they're any better. I want to know how this story ends!


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This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Reading Wrap-Up

2011 ended yesterday. Can't believe how fast time flies. I meant to do a wrap-up post yesterday, but was too distracted and lazy. So here goes!

The Stats




The Books



The Challenge

For me, 55 is a huge amount. My reading life thus far is rather short, and usually I could only finish around 20 books a year. As you can guess, I'm pleased with the result! 

I'm not going to try to pick books to make a best-of list because I don't want to have to go through such tough decisions. If you want more details of any of these books, go here.

2011 has been such a great year for me. I can only hope it will get better from now. :-)

In My Mailbox (6)

This meme is hosted by TheStorySiren.

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! May our 2012 be filled with awesome reads! :-)

So I procrastinated again. Sorry. This post was supposed to go up yesterday. Guess I was too hooked with The Hunger Games! Anyway. This post covers December 24th until 31st, 2011!


Bought: 
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Zeit im Wind by Nicholas Sparks (German translation of A Walk To Remember)
Hannah's Gift by Maria Housden
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (my second copy! The first has a blue cover. I'm hunting the red. This is pink!)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick  5 stars: I love it! It's amazing! (read my review)
The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

Won:
Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics by Alisa Harris
Thanks to Jennifer @ eclecticismjncl.blogspot.com ! I won this sometime ago but it just arrived!

On a Dark WingThe Last Dragon
There You'll Find MeFirst Date

Netgalleys: 
On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane
The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay
There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
First Date by Krista McGee

The Mice of Bistrot des Sept FreresJust in CaseThe Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1)

Read:
The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Freres by Marie LeTourneau 4 stars: I really like it 
Just in Case by Meg Rosoff  1 star: I don't like it
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins  4 stars: I really like it

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1)

Reviewed:
Veronika Decides To Die by Paulo Coelho  2 stars: Nothing special
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick  5 stars: I love it! It's amazing!
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins  4 stars: I really like it

And.... MY KINDLE!!!!!!!! I got it this Tuesday, although I ordered it on December 8th. I asked my friend who's a Berkeley student to carry it here for me when he comes home to save shipping cost. :-) Thank you Kevin! I love it. ♥


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Happy New Year, everyone!
2012 will rock!
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