terça-feira, 20 de novembro de 2012

The Lucky One - Nicholas Sparks

I love Nicholas Sparks, yet of all his books that I read I must say that this was the one that least moved or impressed me. It is a good book, well written, good plot and well put together - but for some reason it didn't have the same effect on me that so many other Nicholas Sparks books have had on me. The reason for this might be because it was a bit too predictable. I pretty much knew what was going to happen next and how the story would end, but nonetheless it is still a nice book for a quick and easy read.

The story begins with Logan who crosses the country by foot with his faithful German shepherd, Zeus, to find the woman of his life. He has never spoken, seen or heard about this woman - the only thing he has of her is a picture he found on the dirt in Iraq which he believes is what brings him good luck and kept him alive for so many years in war. And so with that in mind he goes off to find "the girl in the picture" so he can pay her back the favor.  

Book Review:

Over the past few years I have have come to realize that I am a hopeless romantic. I love reading stories about two people having a chance meeting and just knowing from that moment that they were meant to be together, no matter how much their relationship gets tested. That is why this week's selection happens to be from the man that I like to call the King of Romance Novels, Nicholas Sparks.
"The Lucky One" tells the story of Logan Thibault, a U.S. Marine who finds a lost picture while in Iraq. When nobody claims the picture he decides to keep it, providing him with good luck in every situation he is put into. After coming home he decides to find the woman in the picture even though he knows nothing about her. When he meets Beth Clayton there is an instant attraction and a passionate love affair begins, but Logan has a secret that may tear them apart for good.
I liked this book. I have read two previous Nicholas Sparks novels -"A Walk To Remember" and "Dear John," and enjoyed them, even though they both had sad endings. The ending to this novel is also sad but happy at the same time.
The book drags in certain spots because there is a lot of back story about each character that needs to be told, but there are also moments of action. Now, keep in mind because this is a romance novel the action scenes are few and far between, but the few that do exist leave an impact on the reader, especially the ending.
Sparks writes from the perspective of the main love triangle - Logan, Beth, and Beth's ex-husband, Keith. As I've mentioned before, I am not the biggest fan of multiple points of view, but this method helps push the plot along. It also shows the readers how the characters are connected. This book is great for anyone, especially those who love a great love story every now and then. I enjoyed reading it and I hope you do too. Maybe someday we will have that chance meeting where we meet the right person.

quarta-feira, 14 de novembro de 2012

I Am the Messenger - Markus Zusak

Ed. Only Ed. The nobody, the skinny scrawny guy that is no good in bed, has only four friends and a crappy job as a taxi driver. 
And yet one day it all changes. Out of the blue Ed receives an envelope in his mailbox. An envelope with three addresses. Nothing more, nothing less. 
As time goes by Ed discovers that he needs to help these people - the people in the card - be it giving a mother a very much deserved ice-cream, taking a woman abuser to the bushes with a gun and a warning in his head, surprise Christmas lights or even by receiving a beating. 
The cards continue coming. The good deeds as well. At first only with strangers and totally unknown people. Before he knows it he is face to face with his mother, then his best friends and Audrey - the woman he loves and who doesn't give him a chance.
This is a beautiful, beautiful story. A story that made me want to see the little things, the little people and notice the importance of the ity-bitty hugs, compliments, smiles, and love gestures - that's what makes the world go round. And not only the small things...the big things as well. The ones that take up that extra dose of courage, time, guts and sacrifice. Yes, personal sacrifice. Those things are the ones that make us go on. 
Reading this story I totally related to Ed. Only Ed. Nobody Ed. But that in the end became more than any Big Ben, Great Josh, Huge Joe, Cool Carl and all those "oh-so-big-guys". If only we had more Only Ed's, Nobody Nancy's, Little Laura's, Happy Helen's and Unknown Ana's...

Book Review:

The Messenger is a 2002 novel by Markus Zusak, and winner of the 2003 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award. The Messenger was released in the United States under the name I Am the Messenger. The entire story is written through the eyes of the main character, Ed Kennedy, who describes and comments on the story throughout the book.

Plot summary

The story begins with an introduction to the character of Ed Kennedy, a down-and-out underage taxi driver who is hopelessly in love with his best friend Audrey, who, to his dismay, feels that she cares about him too much to date him. Ed is standing in a bank queue when a robbery takes place. He accidentally foils the robbers' escape, and is proclaimed a hero. Shortly after, he receives an Ace of Diamonds in the mail. The ace is from an unknown source. On the ace is written a list of addresses and times. These represent a series of tasks that Ed must complete.
His tasks are as follows:
  1. He must save a woman who is raped by her husband almost every night.
  2. He must comfort a lonely old lady.
  3. He must show a teenage girl how to take control of her life and become more confident.
Throughout the book, Ed receives different playing cards in the mail. Each card is a different ace, and each ace contains a series of tasks, often in the form of cryptic clues. On the second to last card, he receives a list with movie titles on it and deciphers the names of his three best friends. From these cards he learns the greatest message of all: That he isn't the messenger, but instead the message.
The last card is a Joker and has his own address written on it. But as it is made clear in the last lines of the novel it's all about the realisation of chances and potential because as Ed finally says:"I'm not the messenger at all. I'm the message."

sexta-feira, 9 de novembro de 2012

Amor em Minúscula - Franscesc Miralles

The student that lent me this book described it the following way: "A book that makes you feel secure, cozy and warm inside. Do you know what I mean?"
Yes, I do. Reading this book now makes me feel pretty much the same way - protected and tingly all over. But it's also a book that makes you question and think. Quite thought provoking.
This was how I described it to a friend when I first started reading it:
"I started a book that is called "Amor em Minuscula" written by this Spanish writer Francesc Miralles... i think it has something to do with a cat and a lonely old man from what i read till now..."
That then progreessed to:
'The book has gotten better now... the cat led the boring man to an old old man (the boring old mans neighbor  and the old old man sent him to get him a new train piece which made him bump into his first and only long lost love...but the boring man is such a jerk he doesn't even talk to her or anything...just crosses the road and that is it. well, all that to say it has gotten a bit more interesting :D"
And that is pretty much where I stopped. But if I would finish describing the rest of the book to this friend, this would be the ending:
"The boring old man has now gotten very interesting. He found out where his long lost love works. But she doesn't remember him. At least that means he got to talk to her, no? He met another man that is somewhat crazy and studies the moon. His old old neighbor is in the hospital so he is doing a favor by doing the job for the old old man...writing his book. Won't tell you the rest so that way you will force yourself to buy the book. Believe me, it is good!"
Last few words to say about what I learnt from this book: The contrary is convenient. Always act contrary to how you feel and you will receive unexpected results. It's all about doing the contrary from what your body is asking you to do. That is what this book was all about. You expect something from it but the book goes totally contrary to what you are expecting, catches you by surprise reading it in less than two days and leaves you with a good warm feeling at the end. Very convenient, wouldn't you say?!   

Book Review:

"Na última noite do ano, Samuel, um professor, tem a certeza de que os 365 dias seguintes não serão muito diferentes daqueles que passaram - milhares de provas a corrigir e aulas a preparar. Em sua rotina, a atividade mais emocionante é a ida ao supermercado. No entanto, para não romper com a tradição, Samuel não se opõe às usuais 12 uvas e à taça de champanhe para celebrar o ano-novo. Na manhã do novo ano, ao se levantar bem cedo, o professor está convencido de que nada de insólito irá lhe acontecer. No entanto, um estranho ruído o leva até a entrada do apartamento. Ali, à soleira da porta, encontra-se um pequeno visitante. Com menos de um palmo de altura e dono de pêlos tigrados, um gato saúda com um miado musical o novo amigo. Porém, o que Samuel não imaginava era que aquela visita seria o começo de uma incrível transformação em sua vida. Disposto a não abandonar o novo dono, Mishima (nome recebido em homenagem a um velho escritor japonês) leva Samuel a conhecer Titus, vizinho com quem jamais trocara palavra, e o enigmático Valdemar. Desses dois encontros nasce uma curiosa e terna amizade que, como num passe de mágica, é responsável pelo reencontro do solitário professor com a misteriosa Gabriela... depois de trinta anos. Pela primeira vez em sua vida, Samuel tem a oportunidade de viver intensamente os pequenos acontecimentos cotidianos. Escrito pelo espanhol Francesc Miralles, Amor em minúscula é uma delicada e terna história de amor e amizade, que vai comover o leitor e revelar os pequenos segredos de uma vida plena. "

quinta-feira, 8 de novembro de 2012

The Hite Report - Shere Hite

The "Hite Report" was named after its author Shere Hite - an American sex educator and feminist. She became one of the most well known sex researchers of all times. 

Coming across this book my curiosity was suddenly sparked. I had heard of this book before but never imagined I would be able to get a copy to my hands - much less an English one!
Nonetheless there were many questions in my head concerning what the "Hite Reports" were all about and how they turned into such a famous and world-wide known book. 
Much to my surprise I discovered that they were nothing more than surveys that women from all over the USA (and a few other parts of the world as well) filled out answering the questions concerning their own sexuality and sex life. 
Shere Hite does seem to cover pretty much every single question in the book so the answers that were received shed light on all aspects of women's sexual life. 
One reason that the book is so different from most sexology books in the market is because it is very honest. Other than these women's answers there isn't much more put in by the author. It was basically just organized in different sections and categories and you aren't reading what the author has to say but yes to what thousands of girls of all ages go through when it comes to sex. Women just like me and you. 
More than just genitals this book clearly enters a woman's mind and all that is involved when you are talking about one of the most secret thoughts and feelings a woman would have. It's hundreds of women opening themselves up, baring their traumas, taboos, fetishes and fantasies. So I am pretty sure I can say that any woman that does get to read this book will definitely relate to it - not all of it of course - but to the whole general picture, that's for sure!!!

Wikipedia on Shere Hite:

Shere Hite (born November 2, 1942) is an American-born German[1] sex educator and feminist. Her sexological work has focused primarily on female sexuality. Hite builds upon biological studies of sex by Masters and Johnson and by Alfred Kinsey. She also references theoretical, political and psychological works associated with the feminist movement of the 1970s, such as Anne Koedt's The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm. She renounced her United States citizenship in 1995 to become German.[2]

Early life, education, and career

Hite was born Shirley Diana Gregory in Saint Joseph, Missouri to Paul and Shirley Hurt Gregory. She later took the surname of her stepfather, Raymond Hite.[3] She graduated from Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach, Florida. She received a masters degree in history from the University of Florida in 1967. She then moved to New York City and enrolled at Columbia University to work toward her Ph.D. in social history. Hite says that the reason for her not completing this degree was the conservative nature of Columbia at that time.[citation needed] In the 1970s, she did part of her research while at the National Organization for Women. She appeared nude in Playboy while studying at Columbia University and also posed provocatively in a typewriter ad to earn money for her college fees, but when she read the ad’s strapline, “The typewriter is so smart she doesn’t have to be”, she joined a feminist protest against the ad she had appeared in.[4]
Hite teaches at Nihon University (Tokyo, Japan), Chongqing University in China, and Maimonides University, North Miami Beach, Florida, USA.[1]

[edit]Research focus

Hite has focused on understanding how individuals regard sexual experience and the meaning it holds for them. Hite's work showed that 70% of women do not have orgasms through in-out,thrusting intercourse but are able to achieve orgasm easily by masturbation or other direct clitoral stimulation.[5][6][7] She, as well as Elisabeth Lloyd, have criticized Masters and Johnson for uncritically incorporating cultural attitudes on sexual behavior into their research; for example, the argument that enough clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm should be provided by thrusting during intercourse, and the inference that the failure of this is a sign of female "sexual dysfunction."[7] Whilst not denying that both Kinsey and Masters and Johnson have been a crucial step in sex research, Hite believes that society must understand the cultural and personal construction of sexual experience to make the research relevant to sexual behavior outside the laboratory. She offered that limiting test subjects to "normal" women who report orgasming during coitus was basing research on the faulty assumption that having an orgasm during coitus was typical, something that her own research strongly refuted.[5]


Hite uses an individualistic research method. Thousands of responses from anonymous questionnaires were used as a framework to develop a discourse on human responses to gender and sexuality. Her conclusions derived from these questionnaire data have met with methodological criticism.[8] The fact that her data are not probability samples raises concerns about whether the sample data can be generalised to relevant populations. As is common with surveys concerning sensitive subjects, such as sexual behaviour, the proportion of nonresponse is typically large. Thus the conclusions derived from the data may not represent the views of the population under study because of bias due to nonresponse.[9] Hite supporters defend her methodology by saying that it is more likely to get to the truth of women's sexuality than studying women engaged in prostitution as if they were exemplary of women in general, or to study in laboratory conditions women who claim to orgasm during coitus.
Hite has been praised for her theoretical fruitfulness in sociological research.[10] The suggestion of bias in some of Hite's studies is frequently used as a talking point in university courses wheresampling methods are discussed, along with the Literary Digest poll of 1936. One discussion of sampling bias is by Philip Zimbardo,[11] who explained that women in Hite's study were given a survey about marriage satisfaction, where 98% reported dissatisfaction, and 75% reported having had extra-marital affairs, but where only 4% of women given the survey responded. Zimbardo argued that the women who had dissatisfaction may have been more motivated to respond than women who were satisfied and that her research may just have been "science-coded journalism." On the other hand, social science methodological differences when questions are on publicly consequential subjects, e.g., immediacy vs. time for thoughtfulness when answering, can result in differences in honesty and promises of confidentiality are not all equally believed by prospective respondents, affecting respondents' openness and honesty. Some or all of her published surveys[12][13] depended on wide multi-channel questionnaire distribution, opportunity for many long answers on a respondent's own schedule, enforced respondent anonymity, and response by mail rather than polling by telephone.

[edit]Personal life

Hite has no children.[14] In 1985 she married German concert pianist Friedrich Horicke, who is 19 years her junior.[15] The couple divorced in 1999.[16]

[edit]Notable works

  • Sexual Honesty, by Women, For Women (1974)
  • The Hite Report on Female Sexuality (1976, 1981, republished in 2004)
  • The Hite Report on Men and Male Sexuality (1981)
  • Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress (The Hite Report on Love, Passion, and Emotional Violence) (1987)
  • Fliegen mit Jupiter (English: Flying with Jupiter) (1993)
  • The Hite Report on the Family: Growing Up Under Patriarchy (1994)
  • The Hite Report on Shere Hite: Voice of a Daughter in Exile (2000) (autobiography)
  • The Shere Hite Reader: New and Selected Writings on Sex, Globalization and Private Life (2006)

Marina - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I liked the story what I didn't like was the story inside the story. 
If I had to give my opinion concerning this book the phrase above would be more than enough to explain what I meant. 
"Marina" was the first book ever written by the famous Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon (the same author of "The Shadow of the Wind") though only recently has it become well known. 
His writing is spectacular but to be honest I think he overdid it when he enters his own world of fantasy and surrealism making everything be out of this world and coated with magic, creatures of the underworld and wild imagination. 
I guess it could be rated as an amazing book for many but personally speaking I do prefer something on more realistic and with a bit more down to earth. But despite so he still was able to give me quite a few scares and shivers down my spine and I read Oscar's and Marina's wild adventures. 
Another thing which I believe the author tries to pass on is the parallel of how Oscar was willing to go as far as the horrid creature he had seen only a short while ago to save the one he loved so much: Marina.
Many times human beings go as far as to do something absurd and wrong to save the ones they care and love. Like a mother hiding her child from the law despite them knowing they are guilty for a crime, parents not handing over their son or daughter to the police as a way of protecting them from suffering, husbands and wives having to lie to save face for one another, friends giving and loosing all they have as a way give that person they care so much for one last chance. And so was Oscar willing to do the same for Marina - become a monster - and turn her into one as well - so that she could continue living and being with him. 
So despite the unrealistic tone to this story it is still a beautiful and well written one. 

Book Review:

In May 1980, fifteen-year-old Oscar Drei suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts. It all began the previous autumn when, while exploring the dilapidated grounds of what seemed to be an abandoned house filled with portraits, he inadvertently stole a gold pocket watch. Thus begins Oscar's friendship with Marina and her father Herman Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to the gardens of the nearby cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m., a coach drives up to the cemetery and a woman with her face shrouded, wearing gloves, and holding a single rose is helped down from the coach and walks over to a nameless gravestone, where she sets down the flower, pauses for a moment, and then returns to the coach. The gravestone bears no marking but the outline of a strange-looking butterfly with open wings. On one of their subsequent walks Oscar and Marina spot the same woman and determine to follow her. Thereupon begins their journey into the woman's past, and that of the object of her devotion. It is a journey that takes them to the heights of a forgotten, postwar-Barcelona society, of now aged or departed aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and into the depths of the city's mysterious underground of labyrinthine sewers, corrupt policemen, beggars' hovels, and criminal depravity.