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Easy

EasyEasy by Tammara Webber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, just wow.

The story is gripping, even more so is the storytelling. The emotions are so true and just pull you in.

Easy to read, hard to put down.

View all my reviews

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So… I got myself lots and lots of contemporary and chick-lit young adult novels to read. I’m giving myself 2 months to read them all. That is, my deadline will be on August 31, 2012. Between work and watching series and movies, I’m not sure if I can actually achieve it but I just felt like challenging myself. Let’s see how it will go.

I’ve already started last week so some books below have already been read.

 

BOOKLIST:

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally – done!

Playing for Keeps by R.L Mathewson – done!

Perfection by R.L. Mathewson – done!

Love Story by Jennifer Echols – done!

Sophie & Carter by Chelsea Fine – done!

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg – done!

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park – done!

What A Boy Wants by Nyrae Dawn – done!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – done!

A Weekend with Mr Darcy by Victoria Connelly – done!

Awkward by Marni Bates – done!

Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman – done!

Collision by Stefne Miller – done!

Confession of a Not It Girl by Melissa Kantor – done!

Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom – done!

Easy by Tammara Webber – done!

Persuaded by Jenni James – done!

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella – done!

Pride and Popularity by Jenni James – done!

Rules of Negotiation by Inara Scott – done!

Serial Hottie by Kelly Oram – done!

Rock and a Hard Place by Angie Stanton – done!

That Boy by Jillian Dodd – done!

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando – done!

The Boy Who Sneaks In My Bedroom Window by Kirsty Moseley – done!

The Unofficial Zack Warren Fan Club by Janine Field – done!

Epic Fail by Claire Lazebnik – done!

Currently reading: (none from the list) – I’M FINISHED ALREADY!!!!!!!!!

Current stats: 27/27

Challenge completion date: August 15, 2012 (Ahead of schedule! I’m proud! Haha)

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Memoirs of a Geisha

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This is my current favorite. I’m not a critic reviewer and I am easily pleased with different books. Maybe some think that I’m too shallow in judging a book but if that’s how I felt, so be it. If I had fun reading it and somehow it touched my heart or stir some emotions inside me then I will say that it is a very good book.

I was tempted to buy the book because first of all I was tempted to watch the movie the very first time I laid my eyes on the poster placed at SM Cinemas. The poster shows a face of a girl. The face is very white and the lips are painted bloody red. Her hair looms on the sides of her face, creating an overall exquisite and enchanting view. I am hooked. I said to myself, “I will definitely watch this movie.”

The title is Memoirs of a Geisha. I was strolling the mall with a friend at that time and I asked her, “Isn’t a geisha means prostitute in Japan?” and she nodded, “Yeah, that’s what I know.”

Forgive me, I was very wrong.

Then at UP – in a stall along AS Walk – I was looking for some new books to buy. I went there last Monday before the Christmas vacation, as I said in my previous entry. As I was looking through different books, books by Nicholas Sparks, by Anne Rice, by Sidney Sheldon, by John Grisham, by Paulo Coelho and by other writers. In a small shelf, while I was looking at Nicholas Sparks’s books and while having a mental battle on whether I should buy the The Notebook or Message in a Bottle (of course, I bought The Notebook), a thick, black-covered, paperback book caught my eye. On its side read:

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The word Geisha is in big white letters against the black background. You cannot possibly miss it. If you don’t look closely, you might think that all that is written there is Geisha and nothing else. It perked my curiosity. I leaned closer to the shelf and saw that it is indeed Memoirs of a Geisha, the book. I remembered in one of the issue of Time magazine, they wrote a review of the movie there. When I finished reading it (and after knowing that my favorites Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are among the female leads), I was even more excited to see the movie and of course, they said that the movie is based on the book of Arthur Golden. So imagine my surprise when I saw the book. I asked for the price and oh boy, is it expensive.

Next day, I bought The Notebook and learned that Memoirs of a Geisha is already out of stock. The books will arrive tomorrow pa. So, the next day, I bought the book and even did some withdrawal in my bank account just so I can buy the book. Huh, addict. The book’s front cover is the same as the poster in SM. It is beautiful.

Anyway, I read the book for three days. Started Friday morning and finished it by 11:30 Sunday morning with breaks of course, so if you think about it maybe only two days or not even two days. If I read a book that fast, it means that it was a good read. So good that I couldn’t even bring myself to put the book down.

The story is nice and enthralling, breathtaking and astonishingly beautiful. I was fully captivated. Arthur Golden has a way with words and he makes me hang onto his every word.
Geisha is told through first-person storytelling. Golden uses the technique that makes the leading character, Nitta Sayuri, tells her story to some stranger – to me, I guess, since I am reading the book.

As I said, I was very wrong of my conception of a geisha. I thought they were just plain prostitutes and I guess that’s what most of us thought. The gei in geisha as Sayuri said means art, so in a way a geisha is an artisan or artist. And art it is! They learn how to dance, sing and play musical instruments like the shamisen, a Japanese guitar. Well, of course, geishas are young women trained to entertain and provide light conversation to men, especially businessmen at parties held at teahouses. The process in becoming a geisha is very complicated and hard; I wonder why many women want to be one.

The story revolved around Sakamoto Chiyo’s life. A young girl who lived in Yoroido, who have a mother with terrible illness and a fisherman father who sold them, Chiyo and her sister Satsu to Mr. Tanaka, who later send Chiyo to Gion in Kyoto in one of the okiya there (Okiya is like a boarding house where a women stays while she learns all the things to be learned in becoming a geisha.) and send Satsu to Miyagawa-cho district where prostitutes are.

Chiyo experienced a lot of hardship while she was there. She was young but she already had an enemy, Hatsumomo – the beautiful geisha and primary earner of the okiya. Hatsumomo is jealous of Chiyo and did everything to destroy her.

Okay, I know this is already very long and I just can’t help myself but I will try to shorten it. I will just put here the summary. (I’ll try, promise.)

Chiyo was in the care of Mother and Auntie. Mother was in charge of the business in the okiya. Auntie was a failed geisha who will forever be a maid. Pumpkin is also training to be a geisha. At first, she became friends with Pumpkin but later on as the story progress their friendship died. Chiyo did a lot of mistakes until finally Mother gave up on her and thought of her as a bad investment. It means, like Auntie, she will forever be a maid. This depresses Chiyo and she feels like her life is going nowhere. She envies Hatsumomo and Pumpkin too while putting on their makeup and dressing in a beautiful and glamorous kimono.

One day, while she was crying in some place there (I forgot the name) because she pities herself. Chairman Iwamura approaches her, dries her eyes with his handkerchief and even gives her money to buy some food. Since then Chiyo changes, she wanted to become something. She wanted to be a geisha. All the while harboring feelings for the chairman who is so much older than her (This is the part I don’t really understand. She’s only twelve, I think, and the chairman is like 40 something. Eew.)

With the help of Mameha, a popular and successful geisha who Hatsumomo hates, Chiyo became Nitta Sayuri, a geisha. Mameha taught Sayuri everything she needs to know until she finally defeated Hatsumomo and became a popular geisha herself. Many men like her including Nobu, an ugly guy (I’m so mean but hey, that’s the truth. Just read the book for his description.) but nice and mean (huh) and to make matters worse, he is Chairman Iwamura’s friend.

Okay, so a lot of things happened. There’s the war between Japan and America where Sayuri stopped being a geisha because the government closed the geisha district of Gion and there’s the embarrassing moment when Chairman Iwamura saw her having sex with the icky Minister. That is supposed to be for Nobu’s eyes but Pumpkin was so bad, she brought the Chairman instead.

In the end, Chairman Iwamura became Sayuri’s danna and they were together for some time until Sayuri decided to leave Japan and went to New York to start her own business. It is not actually a sad ending, I guess happy and sad.

Some things I encountered in the book:

1. Mizuage – for an apprentice geisha become a fully geisha, she must undergo through this first. This is very weird because a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder. Come on, eew.
2. Danna – a term a wife uses for her husband but a geisha who refers to her danna isn’t talking about a husband. Only rich men can be a danna to a geisha. They pay certain fees depending on the level of that geisha. They cover the geisha’s living expenses, payments for her lessons and he brings her different expensive gifts. A geisha with a danna can have her own money and eventually have her own independence. (So hard to explain but more or less it is something like that).

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NightsInRodanthe

The book, not the movie. But the reason why I picked this up is because there’s a movie.

I’ve always liked Nicholas Sparks’ novels. They’re romantic, they’re not-so-deep, but they’re tear-jerky. However, he’s writing with a pattern that it doesn’t surprise me anymore. My first book of him, The Notebook – it’s sad, because the girl had an Alzheimer’s disease. The next, A Walk To Remember – who doesn’t know what happened to Jaime Sullivan? And now this, Nights in Rodanthe where the guy died.

The books that I’ve read are those that were turned into a motion picture because I’m always curious every time a book is turned into a movie. They had to be good and there had to be something in them. I’m planning to read Message in a Bottle next.

Nights in Rodanthe is good, actually. The attack is subtle but the emotion is there. Even though I knew a few pages up that Paul’s gonna die, it didn’t stop me from crying. Or maybe because I always cry so easily. It’s also amazing how Sparks can make me forget that the people involved are in their 40s or 50s, whatever. Makes me feel like I’m reading a teenage love story.

It is good but is it enough to make me want to watch the movie? Umm, honestly no. It’s not the story, it just boils down to the actors. I’m not a fan of Richard Gere and honestly, I don’t like adult love stories or whatever you call them. In the book, it is okay because I don’t actually see them and I can forget about that but a movie’s different.

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The Great Train Robbery

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Three words for Michael Crichton: A Brilliant Writer.
Two words for the book: A Tour-de-force.
One word for Mr. Edward Pierce: Genius.

This book almost fooled me. I really thought it was real. I did some research and voila! They call it the best selling historical fiction novel. Historical and yet, fictional. Why is it like that? Beats me. But what I know is that it is the story of the Great Gold Robbery of 1855 that took place on a train traveling from London to Paris.

This novel provides a mildly accurate version of the events that happened. But the changes are quite obvious. First, the names: It is supposed to be William Pierce and Edward Agar but it was changed to Edward Pierce and Robert Agar respectively. Pierce was a former railroad employee. In the book, he was portrayed as someone quite rich with different businesses in London and abroad. In reality, he was apprehended and was imprisoned. In the book, he escaped and lived life comfortably.

What do I think about the book?

I think it was brilliant. It was a well-written book that will keep you on your toes. Michael Crichton’s description of Victorian England was absorbing, fascinating, and well-researched. Edward Pierce is a refreshing kind of protagonist as well as antagonist. He was a gentleman, well-educated, witty and sharp, mysterious, and like I said, a total genius. The robbery was spectacular, really. Even though what he was doing was wrong, I found myself rooting for him and even sad that he was apprehended but happy when he escaped. Weird huh?

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It’s been a while since I last read a detective novel. I saw this book at the “books for shelving” shelf of CAL library. I was having a hard time looking for a book to borrow and then I saw this. Of course, the title captured me in an instant. Putting detective at the title and cover will surely make me want to read the book.

The protagonist is a woman named Mme Precious Ramotswe. I’m not sure though how to pronounce that Mme. Can someone tell me? It appears to be their equivalent of Miss.

Anyway, the setting is in Botswana and she’s the very first woman to become a private detective in their place. Other people are apprehensive about it because they don’t think a woman can be a detective. Mme Ramotswe said to a nosy border guard, “Of course we can. Have you heard of Agatha Christie?” ^, ^

I was hoping there would be some big baffling case like in Sherlock but in here, she got many different cases. Some were small and trivial while some dangerous and risky. She’s a very intelligent woman with good observation skills and although some of her methods are unconventional she can really give Miss Marple a run for her money.

The story also teaches a lot about African culture, nature, identity and environment. I think this is the first book that I read that used that place as the setting. I learned a lot and Smith describes the surroundings clearly and my imagination often wanders around.

But my only problem was, it doesn’t build up the suspense. The cases are over after a few pages and they don’t really come out big.

Good thing this is a series. There will be more of them out there. The question is, where would I find the other books?

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Black Beauty (Anna Sewell)

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It’s really nice to read a book about things that you really don’t know anything about. In the end, you learned something new. You feel good about yourself and you want to share the experience to other people too.

I have seen this book a lot of times in the shelves of National Bookstore. I always look it up because it seemed popular but I never bought it. Finally, just before Christmas vacation, I finally got hold of the book.

I don’t know anything about horses. Except maybe that they are use for racing, carriage pullers, etc. It’s not like dogs or cats or fish or birds that you can easily acquire and make your pet. And I know, horses are not pets. It’s not what they are primarily there for. So, I don’t know anything about their life, how they go about everyday, and everything.

Well, lo and behold this little book. This book is the story about a horse named Black Beauty. It is told in his perspective. It’s about a horse’s experiences, triumphs, joys and disappointments. Basically, it is all about a horse’s life.

To say I like this book is not enough. I absolutely love it. I adore the authoress so much. God bless her soul for opening the mind of other people who have already read this book. For this little book that she made for dumb creatures who cannot speak for themselves. I am sure that this book has taught people to love and care for horses.

I’ve learned a lot from this book. Not just about horses but also about other things. I may never have a horse in my life but at the very least I knew something like this.

Some lines in the book that I like:

• “Men always think they can improve upon Nature and mend what God has made.”

• “Why don’t they cut their own children’s ears into points to make them look sharp? Why don’t they cut the end of their noses to make them look plucky? One would be just as sensible as the other. What right have they to torment and disfigure God’s creatures?”

• God has given men reason by which they could find out things for themselves; but He had given animals knowledge which did not depend on reason, much more prompt and perfect in its way, by which they had often saved the lives of men.”

• Cruelty was the devil’s own trademark, and if we saw anyone who took pleasure in cruelty, we might know to whom he belonged, for the devil was murderer from the beginning and a tormentor to the end. On the other hand, where we saw people who loved their neighbors and were kind to man and beast, we might know that was God’s mark; for “God is Love.”

• “There is no religion without love. People may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all sham.”

• “Only ignorance! Only ignorance! How can you talk about only ignorance? Don’t you know that ignorance is the worst thing in the world, next to wickedness? – and which does the most mischief Heaven only knows. If people can say, ‘Oh! I did not know, I did not mean any harm,’ they think it is all right.”
• “Good Luck is rather particular with whom she rides, and mostly prefers those who have common sense and a good heart; at least, that is my experience.”

• “If a thing is right, it can be done, and if it is wrong, it can be done without; and good man will find a way.”

• “Do you know why this world is as bad as it is?”
“No.”
“Then I’ll tell you. It is because good people think only about their own business, and won’t trouble themselves to stand up for the oppressed, nor bring the wrong-doer to light.”

• “My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and yet do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”

• “To be punished and abused when I was doing my very best was so hard that it took the heart out of me.”

• “I have heard men say that seeing is believing; but I should say that feeling is believing; for much as I had seen before, I never knew till now the utter misery of a cab-horse’s life.”

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