Friday, February 26, 2010

Book Club Discussion 3: # 2

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The author feels that the popular belief in the United States's approaching the eve of its destruction because of the disastrous wars, uncontrolled deficits, dependence on foreign oil, shootings at schools and universities, corruption in business and government, etc, etc, is actually the same foreboding that was present during the presidency of Richard Nixon. The author concludes that Americans fear too much and regardless of all the problems about the country, the Unites States will remain the most powerful and prosperous for the next 100 years. How do you think the problems and worries in the 60s are similar or different compared to what America is facing nowadays?

My answer:

Nixon was way before my existence was even a remote concept. But by hearing the mention of Nixon here and there on TV, I think the difference is really the techological advantage that America was having against the rest of the world (except for Russia may be, but I personally don't think Russia was ever close to America in the race of techonology advancement....China of course was not even a likely contenter back then when they barely could make enough bicycles for everybody to ride to work...)

There was the fear but America was having a real upper hand in terms of technology. (which was the foundation that led to the invention of personal computers in the 80s, the breakthroughs in medicine, like heart transplant and hip replacements, and then there was the creation of the the 90s...) Looking at today though, the technological gap between America and the rest of the world has become much narrower...I don't know what new technologies are already brewing in other countries, but I know that the people's competitiveness and determination in China and India are providing these countries lots of brain power....Will America still be ahead? Or for how long will America still be ahead in terms of technological advancement? The automobile technology, and even the semi-conductor technology were created here in the United States, but nowadays jobs in these two areas are disappearing...

In Nixon's time, my dad told me people could only get bathtubs and toilet bowls manufactured by America, "the American Standard" were found in many homes in Hong Kong... But now, all the home remodeling stuff are made in China. My mother still has an American made blow dryer, which is much older than me, that ancient gadget just lasted forever while I had gone through several blow dryers already since I left home...My mother's blow dryer was made during the Nixon era...

Besides being ahead in technology in the 60s, America had also much stronger manufacturing industries... Americans made a lot of everything to be sold domestically and also to be exported. America was still the big time experter in the world in the 60s.

As fearful as the American people were back then, the United States did have lots of strengths and advantages over other countries to guarantee its propserous future....

But now, other countries produce more scientists, more doctors, more engineers, more computers, and just more of everything than America (except for lawyers and criminals, America is still number #1 in producing the largest number of lawyers and the the most criminals compared to other developed countries....), so much more that they actually make a lot of money by exporting them to the United States. (from the Mary Janes I'm wearing to "José" the janitor who helps keep my office clean...) I believe this wasn't the case in Nixon's time.

Lastly, there are a lot more pepole who are on the government's entitlement programs than in the 60s. The public schools (however, a lot of the major public universities that start with the "University of....", not University of Phoneix..., not the community colleges, so far are still providing very good quality higher education.... thank goodness.) in the U.S. are famous to the world as the easiest and the most relaxed... When I was a kid, I wanted to come here for highschool, cause all my friends who got kicked out of highschools from Hong Kong for being F students, all of a sudden became A students on the Deans' Lists in the U.S. I went on hunger strike against my dad hoping he would let me join my friends in the U.S.... but he said he would rather me starved to death than have me partying and doing drugs in America.... So my dad won, I ended my hunger strike, went back to struggle with my more than 10 different homework assignments that I had to turn in everyday in Hong Kong....

I think these are the differences between the Nixon era and the time we are now in. I agree that the fear are similar, but the overall competitiveness the United States is facing, as well as the domestic burden she is assuming nowadays are very different from Nixon's time.

If you are reading this book, please participate in this discussion by posting on your blog your answer and a link back to this post. Then put a comment below to let us know where your blog post is. If you don't have a blog, just put your answers in the comment box. Thank you for particpating in this book club discussion.


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Book Descritption: On a cold October night, five people gather in a run-down motel on the Jersey shore and begin preparations to break into the Paragon Hotel. Built in the glory days of Asbury Park by a reclusive millionaire, the magnificent structure - which foreshadowed the beauties of art deco architecture - is now boarded up and marked for demolition.The five people are “creepers,” the slang term for urban explorers: city archeologists with a passion for investigating abandoned buildings and their dying secrets. On this evening, they are joined by a reporter who wants to profile them - anonymously, as this is highly illegal activity - for a New York Times article.Frank Balenger, a sandy-haired, broad-shouldered reporter with a decided air of mystery about him, isn’t looking for just a story, however. And after the group enters the rat-infested tunnel leading to the hotel, it becomes clear that he will get much more than he bargained for. Danger, terror, and death await the creepers in a place ravaged by time and redolent of evil.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Dancing Girls of Lahore: Selling Love and Saving Dreams in Pakistan's Ancient Pleasure District

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Book Description: The dancing girls of Lahore inhabit the Diamond Market in the shadow of a great mosque. The twenty-first century goes on outside the walls of this ancient quarter but scarcely registers within. Though their trade can be described with accuracy as prostitution, the dancing girls have an illustrious history: Beloved by emperors and nawabs, their sophisticated art encompassed the best of Mughal culture. The modern-day Bollywood aesthetic, with its love of gaudy spectacle, music, and dance, is their distant legacy. But the life of the pampered courtesan is not the one now being lived by Maha and her three girls. What they do is forbidden by Islam, though tolerated; but they are gandi, "unclean," and Maha's daughters, like her, are born into the business and will not leave it.

Sociologist Louise Brown spent four years in the most intimate study of the family life of a Lahori dancing girl. With beautiful understatement, she turns a novelist's eye on a true story that beggars the imagination. Maha, a classically trained dancer of exquisite grace, had her virginity sold to a powerful Arab sheikh at the age of twelve; when her own daughter Nena comes of age and Maha cannot bring in the money she once did, she faces a terrible decision as the agents of the sheikh come calling once more.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is This Story Racially Biased???

I would like to read this book because I just watched the movie tonight. The movie was very compelling and emotionally engaging. It made my heart p0und like crazy from the beginning to the end. I would like to find out how much dramatization was rendered to the movie and how true is the movie to the book. After looking up the story, I found out that this book was critized for being racially stereotyping. This book was accused of mis-representing the Iranians and their culture, and giving them a negative image.

After watching the movie, Iran does seem like a place to me where I pray I'll never end up in. Sure, to certain extent, this story is giving people a scary image of Iran. But is Iran a welcoming place to live, or even to visit? I'm sure the answer is pretty obvious. Just look at the many Iranians who fled Iran and emigrated here to the U.S. I don't see many Americans frocking to Iran... I wish there were so the unemployment rate could finally drop.....

Is it not true that women in Iran can't go around town without the company of their husbands or relatives? Is it not true that women in Iran must cover themselves up from head to toe? Is it not true that women in Iran can be executed if they take the children and run way from their hubands? Is it not true that women in Iran have to seek permission from their husband in making every decision? Is it not true that in the event of a divorce, the women in Iran lose custody and visitation rights with their children by default?

Of course there are always two sides of the story, there is the American woman Betty's side and her Iranian huband's side... I'm sure a lot of Iranian women find the above rules for women important virtues and values that they are proud of... but at the same time, American women (or even Chinese women like me who was raised in China) who were raised with freedom would find such rules inhumane... I don't think I can survive one day with rules like that... I'll probably die of depression if I'm forced to live like that...

I just don't see how it's wrong for Betty to express her feelings about her experience. If the book is stereotyped, so what? It's Betty's feelings and her point of view. Don't we all have a right to tell others what we don't like. At the same time, for women who choose to embrace the way of life in Iran and who feel happy about it, good for them. While a lot of people resent Americans' labelling the Iranian culure as sexist, backwards, or hostile, these same people should realize that there are also many people in Iran and everywhere in the world who label Americans as big fat bullies, corrupted, incredibly stupid and yet aggrogant. I think if only people can stop demanding others to live the same way like they do, this world will have a lot less conflict.

Before taking sides, people have to see what country provides more opportunities for people of various culture to live life the way they like it.... The answer again is obvious. For those Americans who critized America for being racists, I really suggest them to move to the middle east so they can try pursuing their freedom and equality there......

The following is a clip from the documentary made on behalf of Betty's ex-huband, who told his side of the story, which side of the story you support?

My thinking: If he loved his daugther so much, why didn't he return to the U.S. to visit her??? May be he truly believed Iran was a better country for her daugther to grow up in, may be he truly believed Islam was the best gift he could ever give to his daughter....But obviously his daugther who is now an adult, feels America is the better place for her, or she would have moved to Iran already, cause as an adult, and a natural born Iranian citizen, she could go back to visit her father any time she wanted. But she didn't... Why? Did something she experienced as a child in Iran made her feel scared or uncomfortable to even visit Iran??

I remember my father took me to Tokyo one summer when I was a kid, I had so much fun there I wanted to go back again and again, even as an adult, Japan is still one of my favorite places to vacation in, and I can care less what my grandma said how Japan invaded China and killed millions of us, or how my grandfather said there was still this Japanese bullet buried in his left arm, which is true, it's still there and is seen clearly under the X ray. My point is, my childhood experience with Japan was so good that I like the place. I like the culture there, period... If Maltob had a great expeirence in Iran in the 80s, she would not hesitate to visit her father there...

After his wife and daughter disapperared, he didn't chase after them back to the U.S. ... He said he was never served with divorce paper from Betty... Okay, I believe so, but if I were him, I would go to the U.S. (whether or not I was served) to resolve the problem with my wife after she took off with my kid....., not about the marriage, but about handling the custody issue and all the properties in the United States. There is no way I would sit in Iran for years and years not doing anything until 2003. Why???

I just don't get this Iranian doctor. Why he never naturalized as a U.S. citizen after being married to one for 7 years in Michigan before he moved back to Iran? He probably didn't like America enough, which is fine...his own preference. My question is, did he love his daugther and wife more or did he love Iran more? He had picked his choice as an educated doctor, he should have known that every choice came with a price tag... So he picked Iran and lost his kid, or if he had picked his kid, he would have lost his tie in Iran, fair and square, why all the whining? He made his choice, and his daugther also made her choice.

So, I believe more in Betty's story, even though there may be some exageration in her book or movie. I believe that she did the best thing she could as a mother, by bringing Maltob back to the U.S.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday's Teaser I Don't Get....

Today is Tuesday and I had discovered that every blog that I'm following is posting their teasers... Honestly, I don't read every one of them.... I picked one randomly, or 2..... no more than that...cause I have no time... (am blogging about this cause I have 5 minutes, waiting for my clients' staff to fix up their presentation equipment for me to make my case...)

Some teasers are great, others are okay, while some, I just don't get it. This teaser I found in Bibliophile By The Sea is one of those that I don't get for the following reason:

How can it be?? "She felt caught here now, like a bird in a net, and however much she struggled she would never escape", and yet, she can actually escape by climbing from her window and run like a mad thing along the white road...
So, this character does have a choice to be free...(while a caught bird in the net doesn't)... I think the book's author probably is too tired when writing this.....
The book's author said the character could never escape and then immediately said she could. I just don't get this one.... may be I'm stupid...

Barbara Walters Audition

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Book Description: Barbara Walters, arguably the most important woman in the history of television, has had an amazingly full life. In the bestselling Audition, she describes her extraordinary public and private journey.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Inspirational Quote I Last Read

"Money can be a blessing from heaven, or a ticket to hell."

- John Gary, author of How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have.

The Cobra Event

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Book Description: Five days ago, a homeless man on a subway platform died in agony as startled commuters looked on. Yesterday, a teenager started having violent, uncontrollable spasms in art class. Within minutes, she too was dead.Dr. Alice Austen is a medical pathologist at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. What she knows is that the two deaths are connected. What she fears is that they are only the beginning. . . .

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book Club Discussion 3: # 1

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The author of the book thinks that this century is an America-centric age and that studying the twenty-first century means studying the United States. Do you agree with the author?

My Answer:

Sure, America is currently still playing a very important role in the world, and is still exerting a lot of influence in the world's culture, economy and politics. But America is definitely not the only country that is shaping the world. There is no assurance that America will forever take the lead in shaping the world. The question is for how long can America keep her world dominance, and how much does America want to remain a super power? If only America wants to continue to remain on top throughout the twenty-first century, it's about time for America to start looking at other countries and learn what's happening in other countries. America's lack of understanding of other countries will only undermine her position in the world. The ignorance of other countries' competitiveness and ambition will cost the United States the stance in the twenty-first century. Yes, of course, other countries will study the United States. As a matter of fact, other countries have been studying the United States for decades. They have been taking notes of the weaknesses, the strengths and the mentality of the Unites States so they can bring her down to her knees one day or surpass her... Either way, they keep a very close watch of the United States. Unfortunately, America only sees herself in her own mirror, and assumes no one else is worth her attention.

If you are reading this book, please participate in this discussion by posting on your blog your answer and a link back to this post. Then put a comment below to let us know where your blog post is. If you don't have a blog, just put your answers in the comment box. Thank you for particpating in this book club discussion.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Book Club Discussion 2: # 3

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To acheive personal success and feel happy from the inside out, the author thinks that our soul needs to be fed with all the following 10 love Vitamins:

  1. G1: Love and support from God.
  2. P1: Love and support from our parents.
  3. F: Love and support from family, friends, and having fun.
  4. P2: Love and support from peers and others like us with similar goals.
  5. S: Love and support from ourselves.
  6. R: Love and support from intimate relationships, partnerships, and romance.
  7. D: Loving and supporting someone who is dependent on us.
  8. C: Giving back to our communities.
  9. W: Giving back to the world.
  10. G2: Serving God.

Do you agree with the author that we need all the above to feel lasting happiness from the inside? What love vitamins do you think you are deficient in right now?

My answer:

I think the author makes sense and I doubt anyone who has sufficient amount of all the above "love vitamins" can feel remotely unhappy at all. Glancing at the above list, I realize I'm deficient in F (since all my family and friends are back in Hong Kong), P2, C and W. I absolutely have no R and D. I'm also deficient in G1 and G2 since I'm not really a religious person...(I'm not agnostic but going to church and listening to others' interpretation of god and Jesus bore me ... I spent all my life in Catholic school and my college years in Baptist church... never was able to be converted to become either a Catholic or Christian...... may be I should try the synagogue next....)

Now I realize my soul is having a bad case of mal-nutrition... like that' s really comforting to know... Thanks Dr. Gray!! I wonder if Dr. Phil will give my soul a more encouraging diagnosis...

If you are reading this book, please participate in this discussion by posting on your blog your answer and a link back to this post. Then put a comment below to let us know where your blog post is. If you don't have a blog, just put your answers in the comment box. Thank you for particpating in this book club discussion.

Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich

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Book Description: RICH-I-STAN n. 1. a new country located in the heart of America, populated entirely by millionaires, most of whom acquired their wealth during the new Gilded Age of the past twenty years. 2. a country with a population larger than Belgium and Denmark; typical citizens include “spud king” J. R. Simplot; hair stylist Sydell Miller, the new star of Palm Beach; and assorted oddball entrepreneurs. 3. A country that with a little luck and pluck, you, too, could be a citizen of. The rich have always been different from you and me, but Robert Frank’s revealing and funny journey through “Richistan” entertainingly shows that they are truly another breed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

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Book Description: This New York Times bestseller is the hilarious philosophy course everyone wishes they’d had in school. Outrageously funny, Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . . has been a breakout bestseller ever since authors—and born vaudevillians—Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein did their schtick on NPR’s Weekend Edition. Lively, original, and powerfully informative, Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar . . . is a not-so-reverent crash course through the great philosophical thinkers and traditions, from Existentialism (What do Hegel and Bette Midler have in common?) to Logic (Sherlock Holmes never deduced anything). Philosophy 101 for those who like to take the heavy stuff lightly, this is a joy to read—and finally, it all makes sense!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Book Club Discussion 2: Question #2

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According to the author, getting more in life will not give us long lasting happiness if we don't learn to create personal success first. He thinks we can acheive personal success when we feel really good about ourselves and our past, present and future. Have you ever felt that you needed to have certain things to make you happy and yet once you got them, you felt like you needed to have other things to make you happy? Do you feel like you are in a never ending pursuit of happiness? So do you agree with the author that may be you need to feel really good about your past, present and future? Do you think it's possible to achieve the kind of personal success suggested by the author? If so, how can one feel really good about one's past, present and future?

My answer:

Yes, I do realize that nothing keeps me happy for long. My list of wants and needs seems to be on automatic renewals and updates... Of course, I do feel I am in a perpetual pursuit of happiness. I often said at the beginning of a New Year, "I hope I will be happy in this New Year..."... I never said, "I hope in this New Year, I can stay as happy as I've always been..." Yes, I agree with the author, may be I just haven't achieved personal success.

I'm not sure if it's possible for me to feel really good about my past or present, but I hope I can feel reallly good about my future. I can't change anything about my past, if something bad happened then that gave me unpleasant experience, I don't think I can sit here now and look back and tell myself, "hey, that was really good and I'm so glad that happened ..." As for the present, I have to admit that there were certain things I did in the past which costed me some good opportunities now, and there were certain things I did in the past that created certain setbacks that I am having now... It's just cause and effect. Everything in the past just affects the present... So no, I don't really feel good about my present either... I don't feel bad, but I don't feel "real good".

I think I shouldn't sit here and try to force myself to feel really good about my past. Whatever I felt bad about back then, I'm not going to feel any better about it now, so I don't want to waste my present time on that... Instead I should just do my best to accept, and deal with the bad consequences from whatever I had done in the past, right now, right here, so it won't carry to my future. Since I can't change the past and I can't completely control my future... my only option is really to make the best I can now with the present, and just have faith that my future is going to be great. My mother told me on Skype two days ago, "Cherish the present, regret not the past, fear not the future." I should feel so lucky to have a mother who can be my shrink and I should feel so happy to have Skpe that keeps my family so close with me despite the fact that they are thousands of miles away.

If you are reading this book, please participate in this discussion by posting on your blog your answer and a link back to this post. Then put a comment below to let us know where your blog post is. If you don't have a blog, just put your answers in the comment box. Thank you for particpating in this book club discussion.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir

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Book Description: Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century—1951—in the middle of the United States—Des Moines, Iowa—in the middle of the largest generation in American history—the baby boomers. As one of the best and funniest writers alive, he is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24-carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around his house and neighborhood with an old football jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel about his neck that served as his cape, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishing awful evildoers (and morons)—in his head—as "The Thunderbolt Kid." Using this persona as a springboard, Bill Bryson re-creates the life of his family and his native city in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality—a life at once completely familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy. It was, he reminds us, a happy time, when automobiles and televisions and appliances (not to mention nuclear weapons) grew larger and more numerous with each passing year, and DDT, cigarettes, and the fallout from atmospheric testing were considered harmless or even good for you. He brings us into the life of his loving but eccentric family, including affectionate portraits of his father, a gifted sportswriter for the local paper and dedicated practitioner of isometric exercises, and OF his mother, whose job as the home furnishing editor for the same paper left her little time for practicing the domestic arts at home. The many readers of Bill Bryson’s earlier classic, A Walk in the Woods, will greet the reappearance in these pages of the immortal Stephen Katz, seen hijacking literally boxcar loads of beer. He is joined in the Bryson gallery of immortal characters by the demonically clever Willoughby brothers, who apply their scientific skills and can-do attitude to gleefully destructive ends. Warm and laugh-out-loud funny, and full of his inimitable, pitch-perfect observations, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is as wondrous a book as Bill Bryson has ever written. It will enchant anyone who has ever been young.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

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Book Description: A gripping narrative that spans five decades, The Looming Tower explains in unprecedented detail the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, the rise of al-Qaeda, and the intelligence failures that culminated in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Lawrence Wright re-creates firsthand the transformation of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri from incompetent and idealistic soldiers in Afghanistan to leaders of the most successful terrorist group in history. He follows FBI counterterrorism chief John O’Neill as he uncovers the emerging danger from al-Qaeda in the 1990s and struggles to track this new threat. Packed with new information and a deep historical perspective, The Looming Tower is the definitive history of the long road to September 11.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Inspirational Quote I Last Read

"Joy begins to last when we experience that our happiness is not dependent on outer circumstances"

- John Gary, author of How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have.

Friday, February 12, 2010

How Doctors Think

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Book Description: How Doctors Think is a window into the mind of the physician and an insightful examination of the all-important relationship between doctors and their patients. In this myth-shattering work, Jerome Groopman explores the forces and thought processes behind the decisions doctors make. He pinpints why doctors succeed and why they err. Most important, Groopman shows when and how doctors can -- with our help -- avoid snap judgments, embrace uncertainty, communicate effectively, and deploy other skills that can profoundly impact our health.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

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Book Description: At once an incredible adventure narrative and a penetrating biographical portrait, The River of Doubt is the true story of Theodore Roosevelt’s harrowing exploration of one of the most dangerous rivers on earth.

The River of Doubt—it is a black, uncharted tributary of the Amazon that snakes through one of the most treacherous jungles in the world. Indians armed with poison-tipped arrows haunt its shadows; piranhas glide through its waters; boulder-strewn rapids turn the river into a roiling cauldron.

After his humiliating election defeat in 1912, Roosevelt set his sights on the most punishing physical challenge he could find, the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon. Together with his son Kermit and Brazil’s most famous explorer, Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt accomplished a feat so great that many at the time refused to believe it. In the process, he changed the map of the western hemisphere forever.

Along the way, Roosevelt and his men faced an unbelievable series of hardships, losing their canoes and supplies to punishing whitewater rapids, and enduring starvation, Indian attack, disease, drowning, and a murder within their own ranks. Three men died, and Roosevelt was brought to the brink of suicide. The River of Doubt brings alive these extraordinary events in a powerful nonfiction narrative thriller that happens to feature one of the most famous Americans who ever lived.

From the soaring beauty of the Amazon rain forest to the darkest night of Theodore Roosevelt’s life, here is Candice Millard’s dazzling debut.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Book Club Discussion 1: Question #3

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As the story of the reunion weekend unfolds, another story is revealed --- the tale Agnes is writing about Innes Finch. Why do you think the author chooses to tell another story within the story? What is the significance of the Halifax tragedies to Agnes at this point of her life?

My answer:

As Anita Shreve said in her interview with the Republican on October 2, 2005. She started this novel after 9/11, I think it's the author's way to channel her feelings about catastrophes at the time. As she said, she was just trying to capture "the sense of the democracy of catastrophe", which knows no class or race.

As far as the significance of the Halifax tragedies to Agnes, well, the story was set at a time shortly after 9/11, so the character Agnes, like any American at the time, was deeply affected, was still feeling the shock, the loss and trying to make sense of why and what really happened in the world. I think Agnes wrote the story to answer questions that she was having, as a result of 9/11. She also wrote the story as a way to feel that she was in control since she obviously had none in the long-term relationship she was in. I feel that Agnes wanted to write the story to tell the same pain, agony and conflicting feelings she was going through at the time as a result of her love life.

If you are reading this book, please participate in this discussion by posting on your blog your answer and a link back to this post. Then put a comment below to let us know where your blog post is. If you don't have a blog, just put your answers in the comment box. Thank you for particpating in this book club discussion.

The Meaning of Night: A Confession

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Book Description: "Superb.... An engrossing and complicated tale...that touches on every aspect of Victorian society."—Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World "After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper." So begins the "enthralling" (Booklist, starred review) and "ingenious" (Boston Globe) story of Edward Glyver, booklover, scholar, and murderer. A chance discovery convinces Glyver that greatness awaits him. His path to win back what is rightfully his leads him to Evenwood, one of England's most enchanting country houses, and a woman who will become his obsession. .

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Book Club Discussion 2: Question #1

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Are you happy with your life right now? If you are not happy, what do you think you need in order to make you happy? If you are happy with your life, what makes you feel so happy about it?

My answer:

I'm not happy with my life now this is why I am reading this book, dah! I think I will be happy if I can get a better job (in terms of both $$ and future prospect).... I think I will be happy if only I have a nice husband to love and to start a family with.... I think I will be happy if only I can get rid of the several pimple sized deep skin cysts on my neck and body which all determatolgists so far advised me to leave them alone due to my keloid prone skin. My desire to squeeze them, and yet I'm not supposed to... is driving me nuts....

If you are reading this book, please participate in this discussion by posting on your blog your answer and a link back to this post. Then put a comment below to let us know where your blog post is. If you don't have a blog, just put your answers in the comment box. Thank you for particpating in this book club discussion.

Winner for Free Book: Unexpected Blessings by Barbara Taylor Bradford

This giveaway has ended today and the random winner is : CelticLady.

As my initial effort to get rid of my thousands plus books that are literally taking over my home, I'm giving away this book to one of my blog's followers. On Feb 9, 2010, a winner will be randomly picked and will be announced here on this blog. To have a chance to win this book, please do the following:
  1. Be a follower of my blog.

  2. Have a U.S. mailing address

  3. Post a comment on this post to express your desire to participate in this giveaway

Hopefully, I will get rid of all my books pretty soon. I do have separation anxiety with all my books, but I've got to start parting with them, or I won't even have room to sleep in... So follow my blog to be informed of my lattest book giveaway.

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One

Have you read this book? Submit your review for this book and get a beautiful jewelry set for free!!

Book Description: The definitive collection of the best in science fiction stories between 1929-1964.This book contains twenty-six of the greatest science fiction stories ever written. They represent the considered verdict of the Science Fiction Writers of America, those who have shaped the genre and who know, more intimately than anyone else, what the criteria for excellence in the field should be. The authors chosen for The Science Fiction Hall Fame are the men and women who have shaped the body and heart of modern science fiction; their brilliantly imaginative creations continue to inspire and astound new generations of writers and fans.Robert Heinlein in "The Roads Must Roll" describes an industrial civilization of the future caught up in the deadly flaws of its own complexity. "Country of the Kind," by Damon Knight, is a frightening portrayal of biological mutation. "Nightfall," by Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest stories in the science fiction field, is the story of a planet where the sun sets only once every millennium and is a chilling study in mass psychology.Originally published in 1970 to honor those writers and their stories that had come before the institution of the Nebula Awards, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Volume One, was the book that introduced tens of thousands of young readers to the wonders of science fiction. Too long unavailable, this new edition will treasured by all science fiction fans everywhere.The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Volume One, contains stories by such great masters of the form and includes the following authors:Isaac AsimovAlfred BesterJerome BixbyJames BlishAnthony BoucherRay BradburyFredric BrownJohn W. CampbellArthur C. ClarkeLester del ReyTom GodwinRobert A. HeinleinDaniel KeyesDamon KnightC.M. KornbluthFritz LeiberMurray LeinsterRichard MathesonJudith MerrilLewis PadgettClifford D. SimakCordwainer SmithTheodore SturgeonA.E. van VogtStanley G. WeinbaumRoger Zelazny

Monday, February 8, 2010

Inspirational Quote I Last Read

"The main difference between those who succeed in life and those who fail is the knowledge of how to get back up."

- John Gary, author of How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have.

So what is the inspirational quote you last read?

Loving Frank

Have you read this book? Submit your review for this book and get a beautiful jewelry set for free!!

Book Description: I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current.

So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives.

In this ambitious debut novel, fact and fiction blend together brilliantly. While scholars have largely relegated Mamah to a footnote in the life of America’s greatest architect, author Nancy Horan gives full weight to their dramatic love story and illuminates Cheney’s profound influence on Wright.

Drawing on years of research, Horan weaves little-known facts into a compelling narrative, vividly portraying the conflicts and struggles of a woman forced to choose between the roles of mother, wife, lover, and intellectual. Horan’s Mamah is a woman seeking to find her own place, her own creative calling in the world. Mamah’s is an unforgettable journey marked by choices that reshape her notions of love and responsibility, leading inexorably ultimately lead to this novel’s stunning conclusion.

Elegantly written and remarkably rich in detail, Loving Frank is a fitting tribute to a courageous woman, a national icon, and their timeless love story.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book Review: Sundays At Tiffany's

Like the movie "Breakfasts at Tiffany", I can't understand why Tiffany appears in the title when Tiffany doesn't really have a significant presence in both the movie and the novel other than the fact that, I saw both heroines showed up at the world famous jewelry store very briefly. I just wonder why the book isn't called "Sundays at St. Regis Hotel" cause it's more relevant to the story.... but it probably won't sell as good.

The story was not too impressive. It's about the romance between a grown up woman with her childhood imaginary friend who somehow returned to her adult life as a real boyfriend... It's just that and the rest of the book is literally filled with the mundanes of the daily life of the heorine as a lonely and unhappy rich girl, then more mundanes of all the places she went, she ate, she visited (Tiffany is one of those places) and she went for her dates with her boyfriends. Many pages are devoted to describing what restaurants were the characters eating at and what they were eating. I find it quite lame..... cause you can easily write a story like that using a copy of the Los Angeles Magazine "dining" sections and the "places to hang" section and just connect the pages with any girl (model, student, single mother, etc, etc,) with any man (the mayor, the governor, superman, or a terminator) then just fill in some coversations, some kisses, and a sex scene, and wala, you get a book called "Afternoons in Hollywood"......

I wonder if the story is lame because James Patterson is no expert in the romance department like Daninell Steel or Nora Roberts. I thought he only wrote thrillers or mysteries, never knew he was branching out into romance too until now. But then, not sure if he wrote it himself or his assistant writer wrote it and he just edited it...

The book has a great cover and a great title (anything that draws on the success of both Tiffany and the movie "Breakfast at Tifanny" will sure sell).... and that's about it. It's a short book that can be finished in a few hours, I suggest you read it in a bookstore or the library if you really have nothing to do, cause it's really not worth the price.

Click here for book club discussion questions...

Book Club Discussion 1: Question #2

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"One can never tell the story of a marriage," Nora says to Harrison (page 151). "At the very least, a marriage is two intersecting stories, one of which we will never know." What does Nora mean by this observation? Are there relationships depicted in the novel that support her statement?

My answer:

I think Nora means literally just what she says, marriage is the very private business between the couple who are in it, and nobody outside the marriage can really tell what's going on behind the closed door of a married couple. Very often, outsiders can only see what the married couple choose to let them see for different reasons, for pride, for the career, for the children....Outsiders usually don't see a problem until a marriage finally comes to an end. But even then there are his side of the story and her side of the story. Since marriage is between two people, it's only natural that there are going to be two different points of views in about everything. When two different lives, which are seperate stories to begin with, are brought together in a marraige, of course there is the intersection of two stories. I think not only all the relationships in the novels supported Nora's statment, but all the relationships in the real world do support it too. Our former senator, John Edward's marriage, is the latest example.

If you're reading this book, please participate in this discussion by posting on your blog your answer and a link back to this post. Then put a comment below to let us know where your blog post is. If you don't have a blog, just put your answers in the comment box. Thank you for particpating in this book club discussion.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Obama Cuts Grant To School Libraries

I just came across this post about how President Obama is going to eliminate the "Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Grant Programs". I hear that the school libraries are upset. I can understand cause everybody who work in the school libraries are at stake here. The elimination of such programs can mean that school libraries will have less money to spend on book purchase, on salary increase etc., etc.

I never went to K-12 here in America, so I have no idea how the school libraries in this country are run, or are effective in terms of making an impact in improving the quality of public education here.

President Obama is cutting school libraries funding because he is increasing education spending by $400 billion (god, just the $$ makes me feel dizzy as a young taxpayer..). Obviously more money is going to spend on education, just not in the "school libraries". Since I haven't read the detail of where this $400 billion is actually going to go down the "education" pipeline, I can't really comment whether or not the school libraries should get a piece of this $400 billion.. I mean can't Obama afford to give the school libraries $10 billion for the "Improving Literacy Through School Library Grants Program" out of this $400 billion instead of "nothing'"??

Again, this can only be answered when we can look at what areas are the $400 billion going to be spent, compare the relative benefits of them with the ones of the "Improving Literacy Through School Library Programs"

As a taxpayer, I of course support any cut of goverment spending, I even hope the government isn't going to increase education spending to $400 billion, period. But since President Obama is going to spend $400 billion of tax dollars on education anyway, why not apportion part of that to the school libraries? But since we already have the public libraries in every city and town, is it really necessary to spend more money on school libraries? I don't know since I didn't grow up here in America. May be those of you who did, can tell me. Do you like your school libraries, how do you feel about President Obama's funding cut to school libraries?

The Blade Itself

Book Description: Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he's on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian - leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.
Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he's about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glotka a whole lot more difficult.

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood. Unpredictable, compelling, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is noir fantasy with a real cutting edge.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Marie Antoinette: The Journey

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Book Description: France’s beleaguered queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous “Let them eat cake,” was the subject of ridicule and curiosity even before her death; she has since been the object of debate and speculation and the fascination so often accorded tragic figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted, privileged, but otherwise unremarkable child was thrust into an unparalleled time and place, and was commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in history. Antonia Fraser’s lavish and engaging portrait of Marie Antoinette, one of the most recognizable women in European history, excites compassion and regard for all aspects of her subject, immersing the reader not only in the coming-of-age of a graceful woman, but also in the unraveling of an era.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Gigantic Book of Fishing Stories

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Book Description: This one-of-a-kind volume has something for everyone who fishes, whether he or she fondly remembers fishing with worms as a child or hurls the fanciest flies toward great prey like Atlantic salmon and tarpon. Its selections celebrate fishing for bass, catfish, trout, striped bass, crappie, tarpon, muskie, Atlantic salmon, bonefish, pike, and many other species. If it swims and can be landed with a rod, line, and hook, it's featured here—as are locations all over the world, from the greatest rivers of Montana to Southern lakes to shores of all American coasts to far-off locations around the world.

Anglers will find their favorites here, writers who have made a living writing on the joys of fishing and renowned names of literature who have shared their tales and wisdom: James Henshall, Mark Sosin, Rudyard Kipling, G.E.M. Skues, Roland Pertwee, Henry Van Dyke, Dave Barry, Bill Barich, Ted Leeson, John Maclean, James Prosek, Lefty Kreh, John McPhee, Zane Grey, Joan Wulff, Howell Raines, and so many more. There are also wonderful little-known pieces by virtually unknown authors, and special discoveries—like the famous painter of birds, John James Audubon, writing about cat-fishing in the Ohio River. Fishermen nationwide will love this gigantic compendium—and it will make an ideal gift.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Night Watch

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Book Description: The Night Watch series has caused a sensation never before seen in Russia -- its popularity is frenzied and unprecedented, and driven by a truly great, epic story. In 2005 Fox Searchlight announced it had acquired the Russian film adaptation for an American release. Interest in the books here is now set to reach a fever pitch.

Set in modern day Moscow, Night Watch is a world as elaborate and imaginative as Tolkien or the best Asimov. Living among us are the "Others," an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers who swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light. A thousand-year treaty has maintained the balance of power, and the two sides coexist in an uneasy truce. But an ancient prophecy decrees that one supreme "Other" will rise up and tip the balance, plunging the world into a catastrophic war between the Dark and the Light. When a young boy with extraordinary powers emerges, fulfilling the first half of the prophecy, will the forces of the Light be able to keep the Dark from corrupting the boy and destroying the world?

An extraordinary translation from the Russian by noted translator Andrew Bromfield, this first English language edition of Night Watch is a chilling, engrossing read certain to reward those waiting in anticipation of its arrival.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Inspirational Quote I Last Read

"A respectful man will always respect any job he does."

Author is unknown to me, translated from a Chinese book I last read. Did you come across a quote that inspires you today? What is it?

The Scar

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Book Description: A mythmaker of the highest order, China Miéville has emblazoned the fantasy novel with fresh language, startling images, and stunning originality. Set in the same sprawling world of Miéville’s Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel, Perdido Street Station, this latest epic introduces a whole new cast of intriguing characters and dazzling creations. Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, a band of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, is being transported to the fledgling colony of New Crobuzon. But the journey is not theirs alone. They are joined by a handful of travelers, each with a reason for fleeing the city. Among them is Bellis Coldwine, a renowned linguist whose services as an interpreter grant her passage—and escape from horrific punishment. For she is linked to Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, the brilliant renegade scientist who has unwittingly unleashed a nightmare upon New Crobuzon.For Bellis, the plan is clear: live among the new frontiersmen of the colony until it is safe to return home. But when the ship is besieged by pirates on the Swollen Ocean, the senior officers are summarily executed. The surviving passengers are brought to Armada, a city constructed from the hulls of pirated ships, a floating, landless mass ruled by the bizarre duality called the Lovers. On Armada, everyone is given work, and even Remades live as equals to humans, Cactae, and Cray. Yet no one may ever leave.Lonely and embittered in her captivity, Bellis knows that to show dissent is a death sentence. Instead, she must furtively seek information about Armada’s agenda. The answer lies in the dark, amorphous shapes that float undetected miles below the waters—terrifying entities with a singular, chilling mission. . . .China Miéville is a writer for a new era—and The Scar is a luminous, brilliantly imagined novel that is nothing short of spectacular.

Free Books February

Want a free book? Check out the links below! Or, you've got books to give away this month? In the link box below, please enter the book title in the "Your Name" blank, and the post url (if you have a blog or website) where you posted your book giveaway:

Free Books February Giveaways Participants
1. Dream Makers-ends March 2
2. Unexpected Blessings-ends Feb 9
3. Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet-ends Feb 5
4. The Swan Thieves (Audio)-ends Feb 5
5. The Swan Thieves (Audio)-ends Feb 6
6. Alice I Have Been
7. Government Girl
8. Unamed
9. O, Juliet
10. American Rust
11. The Rose Of Sebastopol
12. Lone Star Ledgend
13. Drood
14. The Secrets of Eden-ends Feb 2
15. You Are Here-ends Feb 16
16. Secrets of Eden-ends Feb 28
17. Keeping The Feast-ends Feb 28
18. Crazy Heart-ends Feb 16
19. Through The Triangle-ends Feb 15
20. Split Kiss-ends Feb 28
21. Night of Pleasure-ends Feb 14
22. Death of Valentine-ends Feb 15
23. Nefertiti-ends Feb 15
24. Ashamed of The Gospel-ends Feb 17
25. Thirteen Years Later
26. My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions-ends Feb 25
27. Black Hills-ends Feb 28
28. Rose Hill-ends Feb 23
29. Morning Glory-ends Feb 23
30. Simply Quince cookbook-ends Feb 28
31. Countess of Scandal-ends Feb 13
32. The Truth About Lord Stoneville-ends Feb 13
33. ROSES-ends Feb 26
34. The Swan Thieves Audiobook- Ends March 1st
35. I am Ozzy Audiobook-Ends March 1st
36. The Last Surgeon-ends Feb 23
37. 101 Things To Do With Meatballs-ends March 2
38. Still Life - ends March 2
39. The Body Finder-ends March 16
40. First Daughter-ends Feb 19
41. The Dark Divine-ends Feb 21
42. The Moon Looked Down-ends March 5
43. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt-ends March 4
44. The Girl She Used To Be - ends March 12
45. Corked - Ends March 4
46. Totally Toned Arms - ends March 6
47. Last Snow - ends March 1
48. Try Darkness - ends March 7
49. The Imposter's Daugther - ends March 19
50. How Not To Look Fat - ends March 10
51. Shadow Tag -ends March 12
52. Connect The Dots - March 19
53. When Turtles Fly - ends March 11
54. Worst Case - ends March 13
55. Chicken Soup For The Soul: Count Your Blessings - ends March 23

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