The Host

by Stephenie Meyer

I know there is no need for another The Host review, but I love this book so much I can’t help chirping in.

Wow this certainly is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I think it is the first 10* I’ve given in a while!! Although I have already selected my book for the Best of Swap, I am almost tempted to use this instead. Though I get a feeling someone else will be using this too, so I am back to my original, less popular choice.

When I read this, I have already read Twilight. And while I enjoyed it, it was a bit too formulaic: average school girl meeting perfect guy. A girl who likes book but not exceptionally brainy, clumsy, sucks at sports, broken family, a bit insecure… a profile that fits plenty of target readers. Along comes a guy who is gorgeous looking (and perpetually so), gentlemanly, a superman who is unfailingly there to save your life, ridiculously rich, speeds in a nice sports car (with one hand holding you tight), and who finds you the most desirable creature he’s seen in a hundred years. The perfect boyfriend. Yikes, too calculated to be popular.

However, this book just blows me away. It would be lovely if Rowlings can pull something like this, something that makes me say, well, Harry Potter is great, but this new book is even more brilliant. Here is an author more mature and developed who doesn’t need to stay in the comfort zone.

The story moves along at a good pace, and at moments when a lesser author can happily end the story, Meyer pushes on to bring it to a new level. The plot is richer and less predictable than Twilight. (Well, I haven’t read the later books in the series, so my comparison is only with the first book, and I would imagine Breaking Dawn is likely a better work than Twilight.)

As for the review calling it “the first love triangle involving only two bodies”, well, things get really interesting when it becomes a love rectangle! This book makes me laugh, makes me cry, makes me think a lot about good and evil, makes my heart sing for the highest virtue of pureness and love in life. (I have wanted to say in humankind, or in our souls, but in this case it would not be inclusive enough.) It’s simply a superb book. This is a book that makes me want it to continue, I want to hear so much more about the characters, all the characters.

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Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm  Comments (2)  

The Accidental Explorer

by Sherry Simpson

One day Sherry Simpson realizes that she has never scaled the mountains or trekked across wild tundra, despiting having lived in Alaska since the age of seven. However, what is wilderness in a place where black bears can wander into your backyard. Or consider the fact that natives who survive for thousands of years on these lands explorers tried and often failed to conquer?

This book is not such much about travelling, but rumination of it. The mapping and the map, the finding versus the found. It is a very honest and humble reminiscence that touches the heart of the reader.

“On that first difficult day, I realized I am not one of those people of whom it is said, after something terrible happens to them outdoors, ‘She died doing wht she loved.’ I did not want to die out here at all.”

I just read Into The Wild a few weeks ago so it was interesting to read of Simpson’s visit to the bus, the site where McCandless died. I also enjoyed her description of Inuksuit, as I’ve fallen in love with those human-shaped cairns when I visited Vancouver.

Another passage that made me paused for thoughts:
“One night in bed, I said (to her husband), You’re a speed bump in my life. It may have bee the cruelest thing I’ve ever said.”

I thought about it. Maybe a speed bump is not a bad thing. It makes you slow down when you are going too fast. It gives me time to notice the neighborhood. If you relax you can even enjoy that funny little wiggle as the car rolls over the bump. In some way I guess I am thankful to my husband, for being the speed bump in my life.

Published in: on October 18, 2010 at 3:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Read-a-thon: Finale

Hubby is up so instead of a last rush, ended up having breakfast with him. Managed a little start on In the Miso Soup. Will go get a nap now!! zzz

End of Event Meme
1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
I had a late start because I worked in the day, so when everybody is getting tired at hour 9, I just got home from work and all eager to begin and catch up. I also spent half an hour on my exercise machine, while listening to audio book, to pump more oxygen into me and kept me up. All in all, it went pretty good. At hour 22 I did panic a bit looking at that big pile of “books I want to read” and realizing there’s no chance I could get to then. But it wasn’t “daunting”.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
The Secret Life of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series is quite good for that purpose. Christopher Moore’s books are good too, as a fast pageturner and full of humorous punchlines. James Patterson’s stuff too, I like the Max Ride series.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
More prizes and lucky draws?
More interaction among readers?

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
Overall it went pretty well.
Enjoyed the mini-challenges.

5. How many books did you read?
Touched 7 books. Completely read from cover to cover 1, finished off 3 that I started before the thon, started two but didn’t finish.

6. What were the names of the books you read?
Oranges are Not the Only Fruit
The Host
The Art of Living
The Accidental Explorer
Doomed Queen Anne
Up at the Villa: Travels with My Husband
In the Miso Soup

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
The Art of Living. Yeah, I know, it’s an unusual choice, but it’s one that while I read it I felt something stirred in my heart and my life changin, I am keeping this as PC.

8. Which did you enjoy least?
Doomed Queen Anne.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
Definitely will participate in the future, though not sure about next April due to work and travel.
I would like to donate something or maybe host a mini-challenge.
A mini-challenge idea just sprang up: use the title of the book you’re reading to start a sentence and write a mini story?

Anyway, it was fun. It helped too that I have a group of friends doing it together.

Time: 8:15 am

Next up:
Go get some sleep!

Reading Location: Sitting in the kitchen as I brew my tea: Octavia Lemongrass Oolong.

Total Pages read so far: 829

Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 171
The Host: pg 69 – 91
The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246
The Accidental Explorer: pg 25 – 225
Doomed Queen Anne: pg 1 – 107
Up at the Villa: Travels with My Husband: pg 71 – 177
In the Miso Soup: pg 1 – 26

Total Time spent reading so far: 10.81 hr
2:00pm – 2:45pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 50
4:15pm – 4:45pm The Host: pg 69 – 80
5:00pm – 7:08pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 51 – 171
8:00pm – 9:45pm The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246
10:15pm – 10:45pm The Host pg 81-91
12:00am – 1:40am The Accidental Explorer pg 25-131
1:45am – 2:45am Doomed Queen Anne pg 1 – 107
2:46am – 3:00am The Accidental Explorer pg 132 -146
5:10am – 6:00am Up at the Villa: Travels with My Husband pg 71 – 177
6:15am – 7:30am The Accidental Explorer pg 147 – 225
7:30am – 7:45am In the Miso Soup pg 1 – 26

Other Readers I have visited and Cheered on:
VeganMedusa
Noumena
Dancing-Dog
shaunesay
candieb
Kanaye
YA Ethuasiast
The Brain Lair

Books I have munched on:

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Doomed Queen Anne by Carolyn Meyer

In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami

Books I have finished:

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
3 hr 15 min

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation by William Hart
Page 57-246 (1 hr 45 min)

Up at the Villa: Travels with My Husband by Linda Dini Jenkins
Page 71 – 177 (50 min)

The Accidental Explorer by Sherry Simpson
Page 25 -225 (3 hr 20 min)

Published in: on October 10, 2010 at 8:24 am  Comments (1)  

Read-a-thon Hour 23

Half an hour left. Finished The Accidental Explorer. Will just read a little something to round it up.

Time: 7:31 am

Next up:

In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami

Reading Location: Sitting in the kitchen as I brew my tea: Octavia Lemongrass Oolong.

Total Pages read so far: 802

Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 171
The Host: pg 69 – 91
The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246
The Accidental Explorer: pg 25 – 225
Doomed Queen Anne: pg 1 – 107
Up at the Villa: Travels with My Husband: pg 71-177

Total Time spent reading so far: 10.56 hr
2:00pm – 2:45pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 50
4:15pm – 4:45pm The Host: pg 69 – 80
5:00pm – 7:08pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 51 – 171
8:00pm – 9:45pm The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246
10:15pm – 10:45pm The Host pg 81-91
12:00am – 1:40am The Accidental Explorer pg 25-131
1:45am – 2:45am Doomed Queen Anne pg 1 – 107
2:46am – 3:00am The Accidental Explorer pg 132 -146
5:10am – 6:00am Up at the Villa: Travels with My Husband pg 71 – 177
6:15am – 7:30am The Accidental Explorer pg 147 – 225

Other Readers I have visited and Cheered on:
VeganMedusa
Noumena
Dancing-Dog
shaunesay
candieb
Kanaye
YA Ethuasiast
The Brain Lair

Books I have munched on:

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Doomed Queen Anne by Carolyn Meyer

Books I have finished:

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
3 hr 15 min

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation by William Hart
Page 57-246 (1 hr 45 min)

Up at the Villa: Travels with My Husband by Linda Dini Jenkins
Page 71 – 177 (50 min)

The Accidental Explorer by Sherry Simpson
Page 25 -225 (3 hr 20 min)

Published in: on October 10, 2010 at 7:39 am  Comments (2)  

Read-a-thon Hour 22

My power nap proves to be very productive. Back in the swing again, gearing up for the final stretch!

Took about an hour to finish a travelogue I’ve been reading, Up at the Villa: Travels with My Husband. It’s a beautiful collection of poems, travelog, trivia, recipes and pictures. I envy her travel, and her husband too: always to the rescue, finding destinations, leading hungry wanderers to food, all with his internal GPS.

I’ll see if I can finish The Accidental Explorer without having to break the two travelogues with something in between…

Time: 6:00 am

Next up:

The Accidental Explorer by Sherry Simpson

Reading Location: Still in living room.

Total Pages read so far: 723

Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 171
The Host: pg 69 – 91
The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246
The Accidental Explorer: pg 25 – 146
Doomed Queen Anne: pg 1 – 107
Up at the Villa: Travels with My Husband: pg 71-177

Total Time spent reading so far: 9.31 hr
2:00pm – 2:45pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 50
4:15pm – 4:45pm The Host: pg 69 – 80
5:00pm – 7:08pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 51 – 171
8:00pm – 9:45pm The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246
10:15pm – 10:45pm The Host pg 81-91
12:00am – 1:40am The Accidental Explorer pg 25-131
1:45am – 2:45am Doomed Queen Anne pg 1 – 107
2:46am – 3:00am The Accidental Explorer pg 132 -146
5:10am – 6:00am Up at the Villa: Travels with My Husband pg 71 – 177

Other Readers I have visited and Cheered on:
VeganMedusa
Noumena
Dancing-Dog
shaunesay
candieb
Kanaye
YA Ethuasiast
The Brain Lair

Books I have munched on:

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

The Accidental Explorer by Sherry Simpson

Doomed Queen Anne by Carolyn Meyer

Books I have finished:

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
3 hr 15 min

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation by William Hart
Page 57-246 (1 hr 45 min)

Up at the Villa: Travels with My Husband by Linda Dini Jenkins
Page 71 – 177 (50 min)

Published in: on October 10, 2010 at 6:14 am  Comments (2)  

Character Photo Mini Challenge

This is a pic of my hermit crab, Bambu. He likes to check out new shells and move into them. This is like his fourth shell. (If you are curious to see his previous looks, visit here: http://azuki.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/bambu-got-a-new-shell/)

The scary bodysnatcher… from Stephenie Meyer’s The Host.

Published in: on October 10, 2010 at 5:03 am  Comments (1)  

Read-a-thon Hour 20

Why did I want to read Doomed Queen Anne after reading The Other Bolyen Girl, The Constant Princess and more? So I tried to return to Accidental Explorer, about an Alaskan exploring the “wildreness” of Alaska. Nonetheless I probably will rest a bit before continuing.

Time: 3:41 am

Next up:

The Accidental Explorer by Sherry Simpson

Reading Location: Still in living room.

Total Pages read so far: 616

Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 171
The Host: pg 69 – 91
The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246
The Accidental Explorer: pg 25 – 146
Doomed Queen Anne: pg 1 – 107

Total Time spent reading so far: 8.41 hr
2:00pm – 2:45pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 50
4:15pm – 4:45pm The Host: pg 69 – 80
5:00pm – 7:08pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 51 – 171
8:00pm – 9:45pm The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246
10:15pm – 10:45pm The Host pg 81-91
12:00am – 1:40am The Accidental Explorer pg 25-131
1:45am – 2:45am Doomed Queen Anne pg 1 – 107
2:46am – 3:00am The Accidental Explorer pg 132 -146

Other Readers I have visited and Cheered on:
VeganMedusa
Noumena
Dancing-Dog
shaunesay
candieb
Kanaye
YA Ethuasiast
The Brain Lair

Books I have munched on:

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

The Accidental Explorer by Sherry Simpson

Doomed Queen Anne by Carolyn Meyer

Books I have finished:

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
3 hr 15 min

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation by William Hart
Page 57-246 (1 hr 45 min)

Published in: on October 10, 2010 at 3:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Read-a-thon Hour 18

Got a nice bubble bath and some ice cream.
Read about 100 pages of The Accidental Explorer but will switch to another read for now. A children’s book, and one of the old TBRs from 2007.

Time: 1:31 am

Next up:

Doomed Queen Anne by Carolyn Meyer

Reading Location: In the living room on the couch.

Total Pages read so far: 492

Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 171
The Host: pg 69 – 91
The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246
The Accidental Explorer: pg 25 – 131

Total Time spent reading so far: 7.16 hr
2:00pm – 2:45pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 50
4:15pm – 4:45pm The Host: pg 69 – 80
5:00pm – 7:08pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 51 – 171
8:00pm – 9:45pm The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246
10:15pm – 10:45pm The Host pg 81-91
12:00am – 1:40am The Accidental Explorer pg 25-131

Other Readers I have visited and Cheered on:
VeganMedusa
Noumena
Dancing-Dog
shaunesay
candieb
Kanaye
YA Ethuasiast
The Brain Lair

Books I have munched on:

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

The Accidental Explorer by Sherry Simpson

Books I have finished:

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
3 hr 15 min

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation by William Hart
Page 57-246 (1 hr 45 min)

Published in: on October 10, 2010 at 1:40 am  Comments (1)  

Mid-Event Meme

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?
Just finished dinner and will start on The Art of Living. Is it insane to be reading a spirituality book now?

2. How many books have you read so far?
Finished one only. : ( Had to work today so I didn’t get to start till hour 9.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Haven’t quite decide what to read yet…

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
Tried to ask for the day off work, didn’t work. Told my hubby he’d be the one cooking dinner.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Not much… my bird trying to eat my book… my hubby asking me where the ingredients were…

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I thought I’m a faster reader… : (

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Some of my fellow readers’ idea: changing the start time a bit… maybe a different start time for April and October.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
Hmmm… not much.

9. Are you getting tired yet?
Not yet! But I haven’t been reading for long.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
Keep an audio book to, so you can listen to it while doing some stretching exercise, yoga, or something to move around a bit.

Published in: on October 9, 2010 at 11:49 pm  Comments (4)  

Read-a-thon Hour 16

Hmmm… where is my hubby?

He told me that some friends of ours are having a pot luck party tonight, and needless to say I told him to go enjoy himself. Guess he really is.

Anyway, spent some time on the rowing machine while listening to The Host. It’s killing two birds with one stone as my company is having a health challenge so I am logging both my exercise and my reading. After a lot of sweat, I am a bit dismayed to find that half an hour’s listening only amounts to one meager 11 page chapter. Don’t you sometimes wish you can speed up the reading a bit? They definitely should include this feature in the CD players.

Also visited The Brain Lair and YA Enthusiast.

Time: 11:18 pm

Next up:

The Accidental Explorer by Sherry Simpson

Reading Location: Will read a bit in the bathtub, then in bed.

Total Pages read so far: 385

Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 171
The Host: pg 69 – 91
The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246

Total Time spent reading so far: 5.5 hr
2:00pm – 2:45pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 50
4:15pm – 4:45pm The Host: pg 69 – 80
5:00pm – 7:08pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 51 – 171
8:00pm – 9:45pm The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246
10:15pm – 10:45pm The Host pg 81-91

Other Readers I have visited and Cheered on:
VeganMedusa
Noumena
Dancing-Dog
shaunesay
candieb
Kanaye
YA Ethuasiast
The Brain Lair

Books I have munched on:

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Books I have finished:

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
3 hr 15 min

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation by William Hart
Page 57-246 (1 hr 45 min)

Published in: on October 9, 2010 at 11:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Read-a-thon Hour 12

Finally first book completed!! Oranges are Not the Only Fruit is not exactly a light read, though it’s a thin book. It’s a book that’s worth ruminating on. Now going to have dinner. When my hubby asked me the day before what’s for dinner I told him he can cook whatever he likes as he’s cooking, because I’ll be too busy reading. Ha ha. Surprised that he’s not cooking a big steak.

After dinner will start on my second book.

Time: 7:08pm

Currently Reading:

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation
by William Hart

Will start on this which I had read a little bit a whole year back and has been wanting to get back to since. Maybe it’s crazy to read such a non fic for the read-a-thon? We’ll see.

Reading Location: In my favorite papasan chair, w a blanket and my bird. My bird took a quick bite of the book. : P

Total Pages read so far: 184

Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 171
The Host: pg 69 – 80

Total Time spent reading so far: 3 hr 15 min
2:00pm – 2:45pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 50
4:15pm – 4:45pm The Host: pg 69 – 80
5:00pm – 7:08pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 51 – 171

Other Readers I have visited and Cheered on:
VeganMedusa
Noumena
Dancing-Dog
shaunesay
candieb

Books I have munched on:

The Host by Stephanie Meyere

Books I have finished:


Oranges are Not the Only Fruits by Jeanette Winterson

Published in: on October 9, 2010 at 11:17 pm  Comments (1)  

Read-a-Thon Mini-Challenge: Title Word Scramble

I love word scrambles more than eggs scrambled!! Thanks so much, Sheery, for the challenge.

1. Firefly Lane
2. East of Eden
3. Water For Elephants
4. To Kill a Mockingbird
5. The Great Gatsby
6. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
7. The Art of Racing in The Rain
8. The Time Traveler’s Wife
9. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
11. A Wrinkle in Time
12. The Polar Express
13. Love Walked In
14. Where The Wild Things Are
15. The Shining
16. Goodnight Moon
17. Interview With a Vampire
18. The Secret Life of Bees
19. The Search
20. The Help

Published in: on October 9, 2010 at 10:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Read-a-thon Hour 14

I was totally surprised how fast I read The Art of Living. I guess I am familiar with some of the ideas so I somewhat breezed through part of it.

I got this book about a year and a half ago. I found out that the organization who printed this book hosts ten day meditation retreats. The retreats are free, board and food donated by ex-participants. When I read that participants cannot read or speak in the ten days of the retreat, my reaction was, no way, ten days without books? My husband’s was more along the line he’d die without speaking for ten days.

Somehow I read part of the book and put it aside. Then a few weeks ago I read Holy Cow! and this retreat was mentioned by the author. I decided to make this book part of my target book for the thon. Really glad I did. I am sure I will keep my copy as PC and re-read it again and again.

Hopefully one day I will get to go to the retreat too.

Time: 9:51pm

Next up:

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Will go on my exercise machine and listen to this on audio book.

Reading Location: Spent a bit of time on the sofa on the belly, then back to the papasan.

Total Pages read so far: 374

Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 171
The Host: pg 69 – 80
The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246

Total Time spent reading so far: 5 hr
2:00pm – 2:45pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 50
4:15pm – 4:45pm The Host: pg 69 – 80
5:00pm – 7:08pm Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 51 – 171
8:00pm – 9:45pm The Art of Living: pg 57 – 246

Other Readers I have visited and Cheered on:
VeganMedusa
Noumena
Dancing-Dog
shaunesay
candieb
Kanaye

Books I have munched on:

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Books I have finished:


Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

3 hr 15 min

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation by William Hart
Page 57-246 (1 hr 45 min)

Published in: on October 9, 2010 at 9:57 pm  Comments (2)  

Read-a-thon Hour 9

Just rushed back from work and gosh it’s hour 9 already!!! And I am just starting, while some people are complaining about crossed eyes… Lots of catch up to do!!

Time: 4:54pm

Currently Reading:

The Host by Stephanie Meyere

This is on audio CDs and my book to “read” while driving and (later) exercising.

Reading Location: Finished driving, home now, and will get back to Oranges.

Total Pages read so far: 62

Oranges are Not the Only Fruits: pg 1 – 50
The Host: pg 69 – 80

Total Time spent reading so far: 1 hr 15 min

Other Readers I have visited and Cheered on:
VeganMedusa
Noumena
Dancing-Dog
shaunesay

Books I have munched on:


Oranges are Not the Only Fruits by Jeanette Winterson

Published in: on October 9, 2010 at 9:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Read-a-thon Update

Time: 2:40pm

Currently Reading:


Oranges are Not the Only Fruit
by Jeanette Winterson

Reading Location: At work during lunch break

Total Pages read so far: 50

Total Time spent reading so far: 45 min

Other Readers I have visited and Cheered on:

Finished Books:

Published in: on October 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm  Comments (3)