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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Carmen By: Walter Dean Myers

Title: Carmen
Author: Walter Dean Myers
HARDBACK
Amount of Pages: 160
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Geared Towards: Older Teens
From: Publisher (ARC)
Extra Info: Based off the Bizet Opera, Carmen.


"I've got to be the old Carmen again. Too hard to hurt, too hard to fall in love."

Summary (From B.O.B): In the heat of Nueva York's el barrio, Spanish Harlem, Carmen, a gorgeous chica with a temper to match, is used to getting the guys she wants. Right now she wants Jose. He seems gentle-not like the gangsta types she's known before. And even though he already has something going with Michaela, a sweet girl who is opposite of Carmen in every way, he falls hard for the streetwise beauty.

But Jose has his own problems. He's a tipo duro-the type of tough guy who has to get his own way. And no one tells Carmen what to do.

When a charismatic rapper-turned-producer enters the scene and hooks up with Carmen, Jose is left with nothing. Things spin out of control, rivalries flare into violence, and the consequences will be deadly.

Wdebo's Review: I have personally never watched Bizet's Carmen or actually known the synopsis of the opera so I thought the story would be hard to understand or hard to get into or both, but it wasn't. It made the plot line of opera accessible, mainly to teens (Well, that was who it was aimed for). I read the synopsis of the opera and Myer's version followed it exactly, which was cool, it actually made me really want to watch the opera.

The book was in play form, so I should start calling this a "play" but I like saying "book" better. It had a very interesting story, but so so so dramatic, my goodness, well, it has a good reason why it's so dramatic (Seeing as how it is copying the opera) but I wasn't sure whether to laugh or pity the character's "pains". To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure what to comment on, since it was in play form so there was not that much actual writing-writing, but the dialogue was good, a little over the top, but good.

I wasn't fond of any of the characters, they were extremely all over the place, the two main characters, Carmen and Jose, bothered me, they both proclaimed their love the first moment they saw each other and yet they continually flirted with those around them, quite disturbing if you ask me. And the "rapper-turned-producer" was no better, he didn't feel very charismatic he just seemed like a pig.

Cafe Cover Chat: I think the cover is ok, I like the layout and the model's hat. (B-)

All in all, a quite well written take on the Bizet's opera, which I'm sure the younger generation of Carmen lovers will enjoy, and even if you've never watched or heard anything about the opera, like me, I'm sure you can find something enjoyable in it also ^^

Grade: B+

Wdebo :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Blog Tour + Cafe Chit Chat: Bitter Melon By: Cara Chow


Bitter Melon is a novel by Cara Chow that tells the story of Frances a girl of Chinese decent whose one goal in life is to get into UC Berkley (Well, actually it's her mother's goal for her.) Everything was going the way it should until a scheduling mixup that caused her to be put into speech instead of AP Calculus. At first, Frances thinks her life is going to end if she doesn't change her class, but she soon finds out that Speech gives her a chance to speak out in a way she never thought possible, in the classroom, in her home, in her life.
I have reviewed Bitter Melon HERE, and now, without further ado is an interview with the author Cara Chow.
Enjoy!
~~~
Wdebo: Please describe yourself in three adjectives.
Cara Chow:
Workaholic
Conscientious
Obsessive
(This wouldn't look very sexy on Match.com, would it?)

W: Please describe a typical day

CC: WARNING: it’s not glamorous.

7:20am: Roll out of bed.
7:45am: Warm up milk, feed son, change diaper.
8:10am: Wrestle son into stroller, walk around neighborhood.
8:50am: Make breakfast.
9:00-1:00pm: Nanny is here! Time to write/work.
1:00-3:00pm: Eat lunch. Pray that son stays asleep so I can work some more.
3:00pm: Warm up milk, feed son, change diaper. Then we go outside to play: playground, beach, parks, etc.
6:00pm: Feed son, make dinner.
7:00pm: Dinner, wash dishes.
8:00pm: Give son a bath. Then play with son, sing songs, teach new words. OR, if I have a deadline, pass son to husband like football, then lock self in office to work.
9:45pm: Read to son, sing songs, then put son to bed.
10:00pm: Prepare son’s food and diaper bag for the next day.
10:15: Shower, then some TV, then read 2 sentences in bed before falling asleep. OR, if I have a deadline, work until 11:30pm.

Not too exciting, huh? That’s why I write fiction, not autobiography!

W: What is your favorite color?

CC: Honestly, I don’t have one! What makes a color beautiful is how it looks next to another color. Think about this the next time you gaze at a sunset or the highlights in someone’s hair.

W: In Bitter Melon Frances was put into speech class through a scheduling mistake. I know that you competed in speech during high school, how were you introduced to speech class? What was speech like for you?

CC: I don’t remember how I got introduced to speech class. (I still talk to my speech coach, who is now retired, and we both marvel at how memory deteriorates with age.) As for how speech was for me, it was fun but very stressful, so stressful that is was necessary to wear an extra coat of deodorant as insurance. There are different categories of speech competition. I was good at original oratory because I could take my time writing, rehearsing, and memorizing my speech before reciting it to an audience. But I was horrible at impromptu, in which they gave you a topic, and then you had two minutes to prepare a speech before delivering it. I don’t think fast on my feet, and when I’m under pressure, I freeze up and start sounding like a clip from The King’s Speech. In fact, the one and only time I did impromptu, I stood in front of my competitors and the judge for several seconds, frozen in terror. One of my competitors was this tall blond kid who wore a nice suit and a long black coat. He could see that I was struggling, so he nodded at me and gave me this “you can do it” look. Because of his encouragement, I was able to relax and deliver my speech. Afterwards, he applauded warmly, which was rather charitable, considering my mediocre performance. When it was his turn to speak, my jaw dropped. He delivered his speech like he had been preparing it for weeks! Of course, he won that competition. I was eliminated before the semi-final round. Anyway, that blonde kid became the inspiration for the character of Derek Collins in Bitter Melon.

W: What inspired you to write Bitter Melon?

CC: Though I have a very positive relationship with my mother today, we struggled a lot when I was a teen. My mother wanted me to be the best, and her way of motivating me was by being very hard on me. Unfortunately, I was a very sensitive kid, so I took my mother’s words and actions personally. This not only strained our relationship for many years, but it also affected my confidence and self-image well into my twenties. As I got older, I felt compelled to understand how we became the people we became and how our relationship had gotten so bad in my teens. Bitter Melon, in part, reflects that journey of understanding.

W: What is one important message you want your readers to get from your book?

CC: For readers who identify with Frances, the message is: “You’re not alone.” For all my readers, I hope this book will show the psychological and cultural factors that influence Frances’s and Gracie’s attitudes and behaviors. I hope that readers can apply this understanding to themselves and others.

W: If you were stranded on an island and could only bring five items what would they be?

CC: First of all, I insist on choosing my island because I don’t want to be like Tom Hanks in Castaway. So I choose Maui, and here are my top 5:

1. Husband (my son would be with a sitter—now I get a second honeymoon!)
2. Reservation for a nice B&B.
3. A gift certificate to eat at Roy’s. Make that 5 gift certificates.
4. Tour reservation to swim with dolphins and turtles.
5. My camera, plus extra batteries and memory chips.

W: Are you working on any projects now? And if so, can you tell us a bit about them?

CC: The only project I’m working on now is Project Bitter Melon Blog Tour. After this is done, I will work on Project Rest and Recuperation. Then I’ll get to work on Project Book #2.

W: Who are some of your FAVORITE authors?

CC: Everyone asks me this, and it is a hard question to answer because there are so many authors I enjoy. It is also hard to answer because I usually think in terms of favorite books rather than favorite authors.

Here are some favorite authors I haven’t mentioned in previous blog posts. Non-fiction: Temple Grandin, who has written many books on animals and autism. Fiction: I really love and recommend Talking to the Moon, which was written by Noel Alumnit.

W: What are some books that you would recommended to readers who are of Chinese heritage or enjoy reading books like Bitter Melon?

CC: Bitter Melon has been compared most often to The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua because all three are Chinese-American, mother-daughter stories. Joy Luck is an awesome book—I’ve read it at least twice. Though I’ve read the excerpt from Battle Hymn in the WSJ, I haven’t read the entire book yet so I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

W: Do you have anything you would like to add?

CC: Thanks for inviting me to participate in your blog!

W: Thank you for letting me interview you!
~~~
Wdebo :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Touch My Heart-Show Luo

-ENGLISH SUBBED-

Title: Touch My Heart
Artist: Show Luo
Language: Mandarin (Chinese)
TTS: HERE

Wdebo's Notes: Woohoo from Show's newest album (Which I am kind of disappointed about because of all of the autotuned songs, but that is a topic for another day), this song is so cute, I love it, I had it stuck in my head from the first time I listened to it. TOUCH MY HEARTTTT!! (That sounds kind of dirty......hmm....) But the girl's eyes scare me, I think I've said this before, but I'll repeat it, Asians with super big eyes = scary. Show in clumsy panda outfit = The Best Thing Ever!!

Listen and Love!




Hope you enjoyed! And please comment!
Wdebo :)

********

Loved this? Listen to these other songs by Show!

Silence Phobia [English Subbed]
Head Over Heels [English Subbed]
Cause I Believe [English Subbed]

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sing You Home By: Jodi Picoult

Title: Sing You Home
Author: Jodi Picoult
HARDBACK
Amount of Pages: 466
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Publisher: Atria Books
Geared Towards: Adults
From: Publisher (Review Copy)

"That, really, she is the luckiest girl in the world" (P. 466).

Summary: Music therapist Zoe Baxter has always wanted a baby when she and her husband, Max got married. However, both of them have infertility issues so they decide to try IVF. After many failures they finally concieve a child but it ends in a stillborn, like many of their other tries. Unable to bear the heartbreak, Max leaves and begins to battle his own personal demons in alcoholism. Zoe, broken and hurt, begins picking up the pieces of her life when she begins to make friends with a guidence counselor named Vannessa. She soon finds out that her connection with Vannessa is much deeper than friendship, and begins to fall for her.

Meanwhile, Max begins to spiral out of control through his drinking. When he hits rock bottom he joins an evangelical church, who has vowed to fight homosexuality in America. The two divorced spouses soon meet with totally different view points.

Wdebo's Review: This is officially one of my favorite Jodi Picoult novels (Just below Nineteen Minutes of course!) Many of Jodi Picoult's books start out slow and take a while to get into, but with Sing You Home it had me hooked in from the very beginning. The writing was great and the characters were superb. I also loved how it had its own soundtrack, I can say I've never read a book that had music that went along with it and I loved the idea how each song fit in with each portion of the novel.

This novel ties in all of the best elements of Picoult's writing into a wonderfully created story. It brings not only the issue of gay rights to the readers eyes but also the controversial topic of IVFs and is just a expertly crafted human rights novel. I also enjoyed how Picoult was using a lighter voice in Zoe compared to her other books, even though the topics were still controversial and definitely classified as "Hot Topic" there were more joking moments in the novel as well as more scenes where the reader is actually able to laugh (And there were a lot of places where the reader can cry too or aw, depending on the moment). I also loved the ending it was a little cliche for my Jodi Picoult taste but it was so sweet and cute and just perfect little Autumn's Concerto ending.

I also was a fan of the development of all of the characters, each character had his or her own strengths and weaknesses and everyone of them are played on to truly understand what someone would do in a certain situation and it creates a very realistic enviorment for all of the characters. I felt mixed feelings for all of the characters except for two. I really liked Vannessa she was a strong character who knew what she want and didn't dillydally, well except for one moment but it was understandable and I hated hated hated the pastor who was rude and kept feeding the public false information, and in the turn the public just lapped it up. But in a way it was commentary on what is truly happening in our society today, so I guess that's what pissed me off. Oh yeah, and I hated that Wade person. Ugh.

Cafe Cover Chat: I like this cover, it has quite a calming effect on me for some reason, I think it's that country feel. (A-)

All in all, definitely another winner from Jodi Picoult, which all Picoult fans should read and even if you aren't the biggest Jodi Picoult lover, I think you will enjoy this novel for it has a lighter voice even in the midst of its topics.

Grade: A

Wdebo :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Random Entertainment Clips (24)

Today I am stepping away from Yu Le Bai Fen Bai to bring to you one of my favorite YouTube stars now (The other being Destrey from Desandnate), Charlieissocoollike! Hehe. I can't believe I just found out about him, but he is so cute and funny and well he has a pretty kick ass accent.

Therefore, I bring you one of my favorite vids from him, as a teenage girl this video was way funny, yeah for sarcasm!! lol for surveys XD




Hope you enjoy! And please comment!

Wdebo :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Runaway By: Meg Cabot

Title: Runaway
Author: Meg Cabot
HARDBACK
Amount of Pages: 310
Release Date: April 20, 2010
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc
Geared Towards: Teens
From: Bought
Extra Info: This is the third and last book in the Airhead trilogy.

"I was on my own, and there was no one at all who was going to be able to help me out of this one" (48).

Summary: Em is stuck as the prisoner of Brandon Stark, the son of billionaire Robert Stark. The same Robert Stark who planted the assasination attempt on supermodel, Nikki Howard, that left Em waking up in Nikki's body and vice versa. But she soon finds a way to escape and it seems to be freedom at last right? Wrong. She finally knows the secret behind Nikki's secret and the only person who can help her (Who also happens to be her one true love), Christopher is trying too hard to ignore her to be of any assistance. Will Em be able to figure out the truth of Robert Stark's evil plans, try to fix all the wrongs she has unknowingly created and get Christopher back on her side, all in time for the live Stark Angel fashion show?

Wdebo's Review: Another Meg Cabot series has come and gone. *Sniff* I always feel so melancholy after finishing a Meg Cabot series (or trilogy in this case). The Airhead series has been one of my favorite series by her (Not counting Princess Diaries of course) and Runaway was a well concocted ending to this exciting and fun trilogy.

Even though I finished the second book, Being Nikki, almost two years ago, I was still eased right into the plot line from the very beginning and it was so hard to put down until the last period (Actually, it was a quotation mark.) However, I did feel that there were moments where it seemed to stay on one scene for too long, like in the beginning where they just stayed at the dinning table talking and eating, talking and eating I really just want to go in there and tell them to hurry up, but apart from that, the writing was great and very very enjoyable.

One of the main features of Meg Cabot's writing that is very entertaining is her plethora of pop culture refrences, which gives it the signature Meg Cabot "teenage voice." Though at times I felt like I was reading from Mia (From Princess Diaries)'s point of view, because of the familiar complaining voice that Mia always seemed to possess. But at times, I found the pop culture references to be awakwardly placed, that it didn't seem to be necessary to have that in there, but at others times it was a nice and refreshing fit. But one thing that really bothered me about the pop culture refrence is that Bill Gates is not the richest man in the world, the richest man in the world is Carlos Slim Helú.

I generally liked Em, even though at times, like I stated above, she did adopt a very Mia Thermopolis complainy and whiny voice but apart from that she was an enjoyable narrator. Nikki herself also changes for the better, making her much more enjoyable even though she was still a bitch at times, but I loved her relationship that she develops at the end, so I'll overlook her bitchyness. Christopher is awesome and so is Felix. Ok, I just loved all of the characters, even that idiot Brandon. And I loved how Meg Cabot gave all of the characters a realationship, soo cute, unrealistic, but definitely made the cliche, sweet aspect of the novel come to life.

Cafe Cover Chat: I like this cover the most out of all of the Airhead covers. It fits well with the whole title and it looks cool. Oh yeah, and I think it's great how they used the same model for all the covers (I believe...) (A-)

All in all, a wonderful conclusion to the Airhead trilogy that most Airhead lovers should be very satisfied with. And if you haven't read any of the books yet, go NOW!! (List of the books below)

Grade: A-

Wdebo :)

*******

List of books in the Airhead series:

1) Airhead [No review :( ]
2) Being Nikki [Click HERE for review]
3) Runaway [This one!]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Contest: Dreamwalk

-CLOSED!-

So today I have a giveaway for everyone, the YA/A Paranormal Romance Dreamwalk by: Sarah MacManus. DREAMWALK is a romantic mixed beat of time travel and mythology for both teens and adults. After the death of her mother, Chloe Hawthorn is haunted by terrifying nighttime hallucinations. Determined to take control of her dreams, she uses them to find Shane Anderson, a charming and troubled musician whose online videos have been holding her in thrall. She finds him in the Dreamtime, sweating out heroin detox in a run-down rehab center. Chloe sets out to find Shane in the waking world and discovers her dreams have been taking her into the past. Horrified, Chloe realizes Shane doesn't survive his addictions. In order to save him, Chloe must master her Australian mother's legacy — the secret of walking the Dreaming through time. But what price will Chloe pay for this Dreamwalk and will she save Shane only to lose him forever? Doesn't that sound great? Now all you have to do is fill out the form HERE to enter! Giveaway ends: April 5th

Author Info: Sarah would like to reccomend this contest for 16+ readers

Wdebo :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cows Can't Jump By: Dave Reisman

Title: Cows Can't Jump
Author: Dave Reisman
PAPERBACK
Amount of Pages: ?
Release Date: October 19, 2008
Publisher: Jumping Cow Press
Geared Towards: Children
From: Publisher

Summary (From B.O.B): Is it really true that cows can't jump, gorillas can't swim and sloths can't leap? Yes, but discover what these and other animals can do, as they swing scamper and glide through Cows Can't Jump! In this humerous and inspirational adventure, animals focus on what they do best, comfortably aware they can't do everything, but proud of their own special skills. Vibrantly illustrated, Cows Can't Jump will help young readers learn diverse and dynamic words, while absorbing a subtle yet powerful message that builds self-esteem and teaches respect and humility.

Wdebo's Review: I haven't read a picture book in YEARS, I know hard to believe huh? :) Anyways, this was a cute little story for children. The message was simple yet very good for little kids to understand, that we all have differences, we might not be like others but we all have our own strengths.

I enjoyed the drawings, the animals were all cute. However, I find big-eyed animals to be disturbing at times. I enjoyed the canvas like feel of the drawings and the simplicity of the artwork, the drawing kept to and did not distract from the story. Though there was not a lot of a story, it was mainly just ideas.
There was also a plethora of very good vocabulary words to help ease the children into high level vocabulary.

The only complaint of have is that I agree with Laina's post about the board books, because the reprint is in board book form and I just don't feel that this book needs to be in "board book form." Mainly because board books are mainly for children who chew on books, and with the vocabulary and story level I would not see children who chomp on books to be reading this story any time soon, or maybe they might, if their parents would want to give them a more head start into higher level beginner picture books.

Cafe Cover Chat: It's cute, a confused cow always makes for a good cover. (B)

All in all, a good picture book for children around the ages of two or three that introduces children to important lessons through the usage of cute artwork, interesting ideas and high ended vocabulary.

Grade: (Ungraded, don't really have a "scale" for picture books.)

Wdebo :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Red Riding Hood By: Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

Title: Red Riding Hood
Author: Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
Based on the Screenplay By: David Leslie Johnson
Release Date: March 16, 2011
Publisher: Hachette Book Group (Poppy)
Geared Towards: Teens/Fairy Tale Rewrite Lovers
Extra Info: This book is now a movie.
From: Publisher (Review Copy)

"Now, evil had descended upon Daggorhorn" (274).

Summary (From B.O.B):
The blacksmith would marry her.
The woodcutter would run away with her.
The werewolf would turn her into
one of its own.

Valerie's sister was beautiful, kind, and sweet. Now she is dead. Henry, the handsome son of the blacksmith, tries to console Valerie, but her wild heart beats fast for another: the outcast woodcutter, Peter, who offers Valerie another life far from home.

After her sister's violent death, Valerie's world begins to spiral out of control. For generations, the Wolf has been kept at bay with a monthly sacrifice. But now no one is safe. When an expert Wolf hunter arrives, the villagers learn that the creature lives among them-it could be anyone in town.

It soon becomes clear that Valerie is the only one who can hear the voice of the creature. The Wolf says she must surrender herself before the blood moon wanes...or everyone she loves will die.

Wdebo's Review: Red Riding Hood was an interestingly crafted twist on the classic fairy tale. I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline, there were so many twists and turns, many interesting characters that were sprinkled in there; however, I was not all that excited by the writing.

The story hooks the reader in, but while I was reading it, I felt, I am not really sure how to explain it, empty? No that sounds bad. Bored? Not really the right word either. Dry, meh? Hm, this adjective hunt is getting me no where. Well, I'll try to describe my feelings, I felt that I wanted to keep on reading, to continue delving into the setting, the story, the action of the whole novel; however, it felt numbing. Like I was reading through it out of obligation. But that didn't mean that I didn't enjoy it, I still loved reading through the story seeing how it progressed but I felt the writing was average and at times quite messy.

I was very disappointed in the ending, mainly because THERE WAS NO ENDING. They posting it on the website, but when I read a book, I like to finish it through the same media, so if I'm reading I would like to read the ending in book form also, thank you very much. It was just a very annoying marketing ploy, really wished they would have just added the ending on the end.

While reading I was iffy towards Valerie. She is a strong figure during at a few times, but others she becomes weak and relys on those around her and is unable to fend for herself. I actually didn't have any strong feelings or attractions towards any of the guy characters which is strange for me lol. But if I had to choose a favorite I would pick Peter, because he has that whole dark, strange thing going for him, and well, in books that is just pretty intensely awesome.

Cafe Cover Chat: I think the cover is pretty good. (B-)

All in all, an interesting take on the Little Red Riding Hood story. Though the plot was very inticing and exciting the writing was not at that level.

Grade: B-

Wdebo :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

(Hey) Juliet-LMNT

Oh, wow, I haven't blogged in so long =.= So sorry, life has been ubber hectic lately. GAHH three more months till graduation can't wait!!!! Anywho, since it's finally Spring Break for us I'll be able to blog more. I just finished "Runaway" and I have some other books that are waiting to be reviewed and read so YES!! Well, enjoy~

Title: Juliet (Also known as "Hey Juliet"
Artist: LMNT
Language: English
TTS: None

Wdebo's Notes: GAHH! I love this song so much! Haha. I remember being obsessed with this song for the longest time during elementary school. (Or was it middle school...hmmm....Can't remember). Anywho, this was the best lyric video I could find of this song even though it's not very good D: But we'll live :)

Listen and Love!



Hope you enjoyed and please comment!
Wdebo :)