Saturday, May 31, 2008

Even better!

I've continued reading Elizabeth Peters' Vicky Bliss series and wow--this is definitely a case where the second book in the series was way more enjoyable. Street of the Five Moons was thoroughly enjoyable.
To be honest, I have no idea why this cat is on the cover. I don't get it. Whatever, let's talk about the book, which featuers Vicky Bliss, a museum curator in Munich. I talked about the first book in the series here.

Vicky, as a character, was far more enjoyable and less focused on proving her intelligence. She's more focused on sleuthing--and romance (well, kind of). There's a slightly complicated plot involving jewelry, metal work, lying, kidnapping and theft. The plot was interesting and kept the book moving, yet didn't overshadow the characters.

Speaking of characters, I really liked the introduction of John Smythe, who I guess will be in later books. He's a con man, thief, etc., who Vicky has a few romantic entanglements with--but there's a tension between how bad or good he really is. Vicky and John had great dialogue and interaction; the two of them make this book a definite re-read.

Overall, it was a satisfying read and my kind of mystery--interesting, filled with great characters and humorous.

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Not quite mayhem

Looking back on my reading past, I can't really pinpoint the time when I said "okay, sci-fi might not be so bad." It have been the Lord of the Rings series. I'm not hardcore by any means; books purely about aliens, spaceships and conquering new worlds don't really excite me. I like sci-fi books (or TV shows--yeah Firefly!) that are about people and just happen to be set in a different time, world and place.

So that's a long introduction to say that I like Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga. My latest read in that series is Miles, Mystery & Mayhem. It's actually three stories in one, but they do connect.

Yeah, cheeeesy cover. Why do most sci-fi books have super-cartoony covers?

Anyway, the three books follow a basic theme: genetics and humanity--and what role humans play in controlling those two. Still, the books are fast-paced, interesting, have great dialogue and keep me entertained. There's basically no romance (at least so far)--and I still like it!

If you're in the mood for just a good adventure read, I'd recommend this series.

Rating: 8.5/10

Monday, May 26, 2008

old cover, but...

So I've never watched High School Musical, although I have caught my brother watching it (yes, he was a bit ashamed). I likely never will. Regardless, this cover featuring Zac Efron is hot.

I think this cover is from January, but whatever, I like it. Happy Hottie Monday.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Exotic lands

I read on Lauren Willig's blog that her current Pink Carnation book will be set in India--I'm so excited for that! Something about colonial India is just so fascinating to me.

That's one reason I picked up A Singular Hostage by Thalassa Ali.

It's set in Victorian India and follows Mariana Givens, a spinster whose last shot at marriage will likely be a soldier; after all, there's not many English women in India.

Instead, she falls into political intrigue, all centered around a toddler who is thought to have mystical powers. Marriage just may find its way into the intrigue, too....

It's a great look at India and its customs. Part one of a triology, I'm looking forward to reading more.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Days later...

It's not a secret that I really like Stephenie Meyer's writing. I think she's amazing and has such an incredible imagination. Really, I could gush about her. (But I promise I'm not like the girls that dress up like her characters from the Twilight series or have a fansite; I just like her writing.) That being said, I was still a little "hmmmm" about The Host because it's about an alien.

First of all, what a mesmerizing cover! I had to flip it over to the back whenever I wasn't reading it because the eye was too intense.

The book itself was also intense--but so good! Here's a quick plot summary from Amazon: "Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human...But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind...Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love."

The awesome part of this book? It's not really about a love triangle--it's about defining what a human is and what connects people. The ending is powerful and beautiful (and happy! As you get into the book, you realize there can't be a happy ending, but again Meyer strikes with a perfect answer. I was so thrilled.)

Her treatment of love is great--you'll see that at the ending. Love is about a person's soul and not based on looks and lust. That's sadly a rare concept in many romance--and other--books.

That's enough; go read it. Days later I'm still thinking about it!

Rating: 10/10

Friday, May 16, 2008


I was watching Veronica Mars tonight (a shocker, I know) and midway through the show, I thought to myself, "is that Jonathan Taylor Thomas in this episode? Or am I crazy?"

Great news! I'm not--JTT definitely starred in one episode. He's a bit stockier than I remember and he was pretending to be a crazy guy, but wow, JTT just brings back memories of the '90s.

On a side note, Zachery Ty Bryan, who was also on Home Improvement, also starred on Veronica Mars an episode or two earlier. Random, indeed.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rule of boring

Okay, here's the thing: my friend Becca recommended The Rule of Four and let me borrow her copy. The book is advertised as an academic Da Vinci Code--but it's not. (I'm sorry I didn't love it, Becca--I really wanted to!)

However, 56% of the people who reviewed the book on gave it a one or two-star rating. I am not alone!

Really, I just blame the marketing; if it had been promoted as an academic novel (lots of Greek, philosophy, etc.) with a hint of intrigue, it would've been better. I just went into it with different expectations.

The book centers on four Princeton students' senior year. The book is sort of about their friendship, but it's more about this ancient, mysterious book that begins with an "H" and I can't remember now. Anyway, one student unravels the hidden meaning and it leads to action...but the most exciting action is only alluded to; seriously, it was a WEAK ending--you think someone is dead, but oh wait....five years later, maybe he's not? (FIVE YEARS later??? What a jerk friend!)

Anyway, if you're bored, give it a shot. If you want an awesome academic novel, try The Secret History by Donna Tartt--it's truly fabulous.

Rating: 5/10

Monday, May 12, 2008

Oh my

Andy Roddick, you are gorgeous and a talented tennis star. I also saw you depants one of your tennis friends while he was being interviewed on The Tonight Show.

So I may have had this plan where I would work at his charity foundation, meet him, we'd fall in love and then get married. Last I heard (via my dad, who watches hours of tennis a week), Andy is engaged to some model. Whatever. Andy, we could have helped so many children fight childhood disease and better themselves educationally.

Still, I think this plan of mine could work; I'm just going to have to find another hott guy who has started his own charity.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Not too long ago, I read Priced to Move. It was okay--okay enough that I decided to read A Steal of a Deal, the second book in the series.

Pretty cover; annoying writing inside. It's southern chick lit on overdrive--way too hick for me. (Yeah, it's set in Kentucky.) There was a lot of bad grammar (aka dialect), annoying asides, too many emotions and a lack of reasoning by the main character, Andie. Seriously, I wanted to smack this girl.

The plot is very similar to the first book. The stars of STUD (a home shopping network) go to an exotic place and get entangled in gem smuggling, murder and mayhem. Andie then struggles with her warring emotions toward Max, her STUD show co-star. She consistently suspects him of awful things, but you know that he's innocent. You just want to smack her for being so ridiculous.

What conclusively proved to me that this book wasn't so great is that I picked out the murderer in the first 40 pages or so--and a murder hadn't even occurred yet! It was just way too obvious.

At least it was a super fast and light read.

Rating: 4/10

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Pause That Refreshes

In honor of this last book that I read, I just finished off an iced glass of Coca-Cola. After all, reading For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Unauthorized History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It made me thirsty for a nice glass of Coke.

It's no secret to my friends that I love Coca-Cola (which I learned, thanks to this book, is always hyphenated). That picture is of a train station I saw in Germany. What a fabulously huge advertisement.

Anyway, the book only covers up to 1990, but it's still a fascinating look at Coke. I learned all sorts of trivia like:
*Coke caused riots in France.
*For decades, Coke referred to Pepsi as "the competitor," "the enemy" and other names--but never by the P-word.
*The introduction of "New Coke" caused a huge uproar--so huge that Coke brought back the old formula.

If you like corporate history or Coca-Cola, you'll like this book. It was interesting enough to keep me entertained--and I generally don't read nonfiction!

Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


While wandering at the library, I saw Pomegranate Soup. Out of curiousity, I picked it up. It's a story about three Iranian girls who move to Ireland and start a café. The cover blurb also promised hints of magic realism, which I love. (Magic realism: realism with hints of fantasy or magic.) Food and magic realism? I was in.

Marsha Mehran did a great job of combining cultures. Readers experience Iranian food (which sounds utterly delicious--Mehran provides recipes!), Irish scenery and an overall comfy feeling. The plot is simple: the sisters adjust to living in Ireland and try to run a café. Yet, there's much more--flashbacks, interactions and slow realizations that add spice to this book.

Characterization is great. All three sisters are very different, yet likeable. Secondary characters added depth to the story and never detracted. The writing was luscious and reminded me a lot of Suzanne Strempek Shea's Becoming Finola (also set in Ireland and absolutely a wonderful book).

Basically, it's an international best-seller for a reason. Check it out.

Rating: 9/10

Monday, May 5, 2008

Car rides

So I drove and rode to Tennessee this weekend, which meant I had some time for reading. And read I did!

I've been a bit unsure of starting Elizabeth Peters' Vicky Bliss series. I don't know why, but I was. Feeling brave, I picked up Borrower of the Night, book one in the series.

My overall opinion? Not bad. Vicky Bliss is beautiful, tall and smart. She's also very afraid of not being taken seriously in the academic world, so she works hard to prove her intelligence. Her struggle to prove herself takes her to Europe in search of a hidden art treasure.

The story was interesting, intelligent and filled with bits of humor. The art and history sprinkled in was great, as were the many characters--who I was actually able to keep straight! I've heard the second book is even better, so I'm going to keep on reading the series.

Rating: 7/10

My brother introduced me to a fabulous place: McKay Books. I only spent an hour there scouting through their used books (thanks a lot, family!) but I could've spent so much more time. Thousands and thousands of mouth is drooling again. Evidently I was in a Elizabeth Peters because I picked up Greygallows by Barbara Michaels (who is also Elizabeth Peters) for only $.85.

Greygallows is very gothic; set in the early 1800s, a rich orphaned girl is basically forced into marriage with a handsome--but evil!--young man. Michaels did a good job depicting the helplessness of women in that era. Lucy, the heroine, is kept out of meetings concerning her own wealth and holdings and she couldn't do anything about it.

Michaels doesn't come across as a strong feminist but certainly seems to support equal education for the sexes as well as equal intelligence, meaning men and women can reach the same intellectual heights. Rock on, sister.

Now, the book itself isn't bad, it's just dark and dreary. I did like that Lucy actually used her brain and didn't foolishly fall into traps or make awful decisions. It had a happy ending (yay!). Still, it just wasn't my favorite book.

Rating: 6/10

Hottie Monday, Monday, Monday

Today is an international version of Hottie Monday. Meet Takeshi Kaneshiro.

He starred in House of Flying Daggers. I can't remember if House has a happy ending; probably not, as I found out in my Asian movie period phase. (Typical ending: girl dies and the lovers don't end up together.) Takeshi Kaneshiro also starred in other movies like Mermaid Got Married. (Speaking of funny translations, if you have a spare moment, is really funny. And having lived in Japan, I know it's definitely true, too.)

Anyway, Takeshi is a very nice-looking young man, isn't he? Happy International Monday.