Weekend finds.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

There are two random things about me: 1) I have this obsession with owning pretty, vintage-y, classic looking books and 2) My favorite color is pink. On Friday, the book I received has both! I was surprised with a gorgeous copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland from someone "just because." I have to say, it is the most perfect thing I have seen in a long time. It's too nice that I'm even afraid to open it for fear I might damage it!
To an average person, I am sounding crazy just about now, but if you are also a bookworm & a bibliophile, I'm sure you understand me and my crazy addiction. Haha.

(front & back)

Then today, I decided to go to Half Price Books again. I went in, telling myself I can not buy any more books. I did not succeed with my initial plan though, since I gave in and ended up buying 11 books! Total price though?
$12.05! How could I not buy?
They're all used copies, but don't look worn out at all. Isn't that amazing?
I love that store.

(11 books + the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland copy)

So yes, my weekend was interesting. I had a fun, adventurous, and productive Friday, and a really lazy Saturday. As for Sunday, it was a cross of two good things: lazy-productive, if that's even possible. Having said that, it was pretty a good weekend- add in a bunch of new books - and I can say it was pretty great.

Hope you had a great weekend as well! :)

couldn't resist posting.

These pictures say it all.




The last two pictures below are my favorite. If you know where the dialogue below comes from, 10000000000 points for you! ;)

Nightlight: A Twilight Parody

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"About three things I was absolutely certain. First, Edwart was most likely my soul mate, maybe. Second, there was a vampire part of him–which I assumed was wildly out of his control–that wanted me dead. And third, I unconditionally, irrevocably, impenetrably, heterogeneously, gynecologically, and disreputably wished he had kissed me."

Twilight fans may hate me because I found Nightlight to be such a funny book, but I can not lie. I really thought it was a laugh-out-loud take, and I enjoyed it immensely. It's not just because of its topic, but because the writing itself was actually very amusing.
I do highly recommend this ONLY to those who HAVE read the series though, or at least its first installment. If you haven't, I feel that it will be a lot harder to understand Nightlight's motives. It would also be harder to grasp its full effect, from the way it mimics Stephenie Meyer's writing to its blank pages, that is used to depict Bella's "depression stage." <-- my favorite part by the way.
But.. and there is a big but here.. If you loved the series and its movies, and know already you will be offended with these kinds of parodies, then I suggest you skip this one. However, if you are a fan of the series but don't mind poking fun at it anyway, try this out.
Finally, I have to say, I do not believe this was written to hate on Twilight. To make fun of it, yes, but not to bash it. It really is just harmless fun. Hilarious, but harmless nonetheless.
Overall, I really have to applaud The Harvard Lampoon for taking this chance to make not only an amusing and entertaining parody, but a smart and effective one at that. To be honest, my only complain would be that it was too short. Then again, that's just me.

Go Ask Alice

Monday, February 22, 2010

Summary: Go Ask Alice is about a teenage girl, suffering from drug addiction. With her life spiraling down and out of control, she begins to write on her diary, where she tells her side of the story.

Review: First of all, this YA novel is entirely a work of pure fiction. It is however made to be believed as a true story, which to me, is sort of like false advertisement. I don't really mind, and this doesn't detract me from appreciating the story and its message, but I can see how maybe others would be bothered by this.
Second, I do believe this is one of those books that I think are important to discover while at a younger age. The message is simple; Drugs are bad. Do not use them.
However, I do not recommend this so much to anyone older. The literary merit is close to zero, and most of the information about drugs are based on stereotypes and generalizations. At times, also, the situations, events, and even the main character herself, seemed over the top and a bit contrived. Because of this, I found it a bit difficult to relate to the character, and the experiences she was going through. I believe that with character-driven stories like these, it's extremely important to have a powerful and memorable protagonist. Unfortunately, like I said, I did not feel that Alice was memorable enough.
Having said that, I would probably not be reading this again, or get a copy for myself. I hope though, that people will not get me wrong. I do not think this is a bad book at all. I do appreciate it for its raw and emotional story, and its motives to influence teens to stay away from bad habits, as I think this is crucial. But as I already mentioned, this is one that is meant more for younger readers and teens, than any other age group. I give it 3/5.

Wicked: the musical

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I've always loved musicals and broadway plays. And though I haven't really seen a lot (I've only seen 6), I can definitely say Wicked is definitely on my top 3 favorites. From the music, choreography, acting, set, lighting.. it has everything you would want in a broadway play. If you have not seen it, you need to watch it. It's in San Francisco and New York right now, but if it comes to your city, do not miss it.

Amazing is an understatement.

Shutter Island: movie review

Saturday, February 20, 2010

This is a review for the movie adaptation. It has no spoilers. If you're interested, my review for the book can be found over here.
I am no movie expert or critic, so I can not say much on the film's technicalities. All I know is, with this movie, I was sitting on the edge of my seat; entertained, creeped out, and intrigued the entire time.
I read the book before seeing the movie, and if you are wondering if the movie lives up to Dennis Lehane's haunting novel, I can say that yes, it definitely does. This is one of the very few movie adaptations based off a book that actually satisfies and maybe even exceeds expectations.

The well-acclaimed director, Martin Scorsese, did something unique for this story, and made it even more twisted, if that was even possible. He put many subtle hints and touches, that makes the total feel and vibe of it realistic. He also added the creepy factor, as there were times that I literally had goosebumps. I have to clear this out though, Shutter Island is NOT a horror movie, but is more of a psychological thriller that has its share of horrific moments.
Of course, it's not all up to Scorsese to produce a good film. The actors carry a movie, and especially in one that builds its foundation on its characters, the portrayals are crucial.
Personally, I found Leonardo DiCaprio's performance to be flawless. He dove right into the main character's shoes like it was his all along, making me not only see what he sees, but feel for everything he was going through. I also thought Ben Kingsley did a great job with his role as the kind and sympathetic, but mysterious Dr. Cawley.

As you're watching this, you will be full of questions until the ending is revealed. That ending, I thought had an incredible build up, and was delivered perfectly. Even when I already knew what the conclusion was going to be, I still found myself awe-struck and shocked by it. It was heartbreaking and mind boggling all the same time.
I heard some people say that this movie was "too complicated." I believe, we all enjoy movies that simply entertain, make us laugh, cry, or feel good. Sometimes though, I also like movies that make me think. This movie asks you to do that, without meaning to. Call it "complicated," I think it just challenges its viewers, like me, to think outside the box. That is actually one of the reasons why I liked it.

Though these kinds of mysterious who-did-what, what's-going-on stories might have been dealt with times and times before, this movie delivered the same concept in an entirely different way. Another clever thing was that this movie will also prove that you do not need big, jumpy scenes to scare the audience and make them feel disturbed. Psychological terror that digs deep into our fears are more than enough.
Having said all that, Shutter Island is a clever, haunting, thought-provoking, smart and an overall entertaining movie full of thrill and suspense that everyone should watch at least once. Whether you like it like I did, or not, one thing's for sure. It's a mind trip.

Generally, I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone. Mostly if you:
1. have read the book (I thought the movie stayed very faithful to it)
2. are a fan of Scorsese and DiCaprio
3. like thrilling, mysterious, crazy, creepy, eerie, & haunting films
4. like movies, period.

However, this isn't exactly for everybody.
Maybe think twice if:

you scare and get nightmares easily (a.k.a me, but I still watched and liked it anyway)
2. you don't really like movies that keeps the answer to all your questions until the very end. Some people like drawn out mysteries, some like to get the answers right away. If you are the latter, read the spoilers if you'd like. I still think it's a good movie to see.

"Is it better to live as a monster or to die as a good man?"

Giveaways: win 2 items!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The giveaway is for one winner to receive 2 items: 1 Book Journal and 1 book of your choice from the list of titles:
1. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (paperback)
2. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk (paperback)
3. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
5. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (paperback)
6. Nightlight: A Twilight Parody by The Harvard Lampoon (paperback)
7. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Barnes and Noble classics version
These are all extra copies, not used :)

How to enter:
1. Pick any book you have read that has 1) stayed with you long after you finished it and 2) has not only inspired you but has made an impact in you and your life. What exactly was it about the book that made that happen for you?
2. Write your answer and send it to this e-mail: randomramblings2010@gmail.com
3. Include your full name and your blog URL, if you have one.

1. Please comment in the box to let me know you entered.
2. 300 words max.
3. NO ATTACHMENTS. Please write directly on the e-mail.
4. Deadline: April 24, 2010

Note: This is for U.S. only. No P.O. boxes please! Also, you do not need to be a follower to join the contest. If you decide to be one though, that would be nice, hehe. :)

The winner will be announced here, and will be contacted via e-mail, no later than a month from the deadline.

Good luck :)

Dear Spring,

I will never, ever miss and appreciate the fact that you give me (and everyone around me) allergies. So just for that, I've never been that fond of you.
But looking at these pics while it's freezing outside, and knowing that rain will come back again tomorrow.. well..

I have to admit, I actually kind of miss you.

100% finished!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I know they are sooo long overdue, so I'm sorry for the delay, but I'm ecstatic and happy to say that my 2009 Book Reviews are finally finished! I've been doing my best to write and publish them as much as possible, and I know it took me a while, but now that they're all done, I feel like I can really focus on my 2010 reads and reviews. I'm pretty excited :) So here's to 2010 for real this time. hehe.

Happy reading everyone!

Quick Reviews # 5

Saturday, February 13, 2010

For quick reviews, I simply give my general view and opinion on the books included. If you are interested on reading more about the plot of these novels, simply click on the titles and it will lead you to a website (Amazon.com, usually) and the synopsis can be found there.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters
  • I still do think it was not as funny as they hype it up to be. I have to admit though, it is a lot better than the first effort in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Recommended only if you like these type of humor. But if I really had to be honest, I think there are a lot other books that serve the same purpose, but are better than this one.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Anything written by Neil Gaiman is expected to deliver, and fortunately, this one did not disappoint. Obviously, though I am not exactly in the age bracket of who Gaiman wrote this for, I still have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • I have to agree with other people's opinions that, though this is meant for children, it might be a bit too dark for them. However, the decision whether or not read it depends entirely on them. If they are able to handle darker elements in literature, then go for it. Also, I suggest that the parents who are reading this review, to check this book out and read it for themselves if you are debating whether or not to let your child read it.
  • Despite these aspects, I really think it's a very good book. The story will definitely entertain, and maybe even teach a few subtle (but useful) lessons that is appropriate for any reader of any age. With a flawed but extremely likable protagonist, I don't see how this novel will not hook you right in Neil Gaiman's world.
Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindgvist
  • I don't know if this is a "good vampire book", but it is definitely different (and much better) than all the other ones published and famous right now. And that's what I love, love, love about this book. I liked the fact that it tells such a unique story of two unique characters; their lost innocence, growth, everything. The two distinct voices can not be mistaken. You know who's talking, and you feel for what they feel.
  • This book is 1) definitely out of the norm, 2) not for the squeamish. Overall, this is a highly recommended novel. Please, please SKIP Twilight and read this instead.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  • My experience with this book is similar to when I make tea. It takes a while for the water from the tea kettle to boil, and I wait for it real patiently. Eventually, it does boil of course, and after that, I can get going to prepare my drink. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is similar simply because the beginning was very slow. It took time for it to get to the actual story line and plot, and I have to admit, almost gave up on it because of that. However, I stayed through it, and it did turn out after all. Unfortunately, it sort of went down hill all throughout. The constant back and forth of past and present became a bit confusing, and even the constant shuffle of the (sort of uninteresting) characters got frustrating. I mean I didn't think it was a bad book, but I'm not sure if I would recommend this one.
  • To sum it all up, reading this book is similar to making and drinking tea. A bland one at that, unfortunately.
The Keepsake by Kirsty Gunn
  • I didn't think this book was horrible, but I do not recommend this at all. The only good things I can say are 1) the plot is intriguing, and 2) the writing is full of poetic prose and good narratives. But often times, even the best poetic prose and narratives become too much for the reader when the author uses it all throughout, without going anywhere. I kept asking myself, "What is the story exactly?" and "What is the point?" The situations were so vague, and even the main characters were so unclear that I wasn't sure what to make of them. Even until the ending, I was just left completely confused. The story didn't make sense, and truthfully, it actually seemed like nothing happened at all. No progress, no development, no improvement, no nothing. Having said all these, I suggest you skip this one.

Quick Reviews # 4

For quick reviews, I simply give my general view and opinion on the books included. If you are interested on reading more about the plot of these novels, simply click on the titles and it will lead you to a website (Amazon.com, usually) and the synopsis can be found there.

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
  • This is definitely one haunting and disturbing depiction of child abuse. Not only was the plot well-written, the characters were also so well-defined that I found it so easy to fall in love with them. The details were vivid, making it even easier (and difficult to accept) to picture the situations these characters were forced to face.
  • Though the topic is touchy and naturally complicated, the author was able to write with sensitivity, clarity, and ease through her words. Overall, this is a thought-provoking and engrossing novel that I recommend mostly to YA readers.
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  • I like the premise of the book, and the overall storyline. I also liked the overall feel to it; dark, melancholic. There are moments of real and genuine emotions, and had moments of clear viewpoints. Facts and information were shared, and I have learned a lot from this book through those. However, this book does not really offer much at all. It was not as interesting as what the plot implies, and even the characters were not as likable as I hoped them to be. Overall development was not there, and the ending was very unsatisfactory.
  • This is not a bad book, but it is simply mediocre. I do not recommend this, for there are other books out there with the same topic and story line that are way better than this.
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
  • Having loved Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden so much, I expected that I would feel the same enthusiasm with this novel as I had felt with that. Unfortunately, I can not say as much praise for this book as I did with TFG. Do not get me wrong, because this book is not bad. Actually, I did enjoy this as well. I thought that the story was very unique, and the way the author dealt with it was smart. Her writing, as expected, was up to par. However, I think it's the characters that were not so good. Though the story was interesting, I did not exactly care much for them.
  • As I mentioned, I am not as enthusiastic with recommending this as I was in TFG, but I don't think this is a bad book at all. It is overall a good one, with flaws here and there, that can actually be worth your time.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • There are so many novels (especially YA adult ones) that use the same topic again and again. For me, when I read a book talking about sensitive topics like this one, I judge it mainly on how it gets to me. If it makes me feel disturbed, awkward, bothered, etc, then for me, it is a good novel. I mean, I can only talk about some book based on technical successes or flaws, but when a story actually makes me think and feel, then that is what I call a genuinely good book. With this one, that's exactly what it did to me. From the details, narratives, to the dialogues.. everything, was very well-written with simplistic style that was so easy to grasp and understand. I was hooked right from the beginning until the end. The main character though, was probably the main reason why I kept reading. She was so realistic, as was the vivid details and descriptions of the situations she was facing. As I was reading, I found myself feeling very emotional. Not gonna lie, movies make me cry more often than books, but this one almost did it for me. The only reason why I was able to stop was because I was reading this in public. To cut this review short, I can definitely say that this is one of the books that touched me deeply, and will touch others as well. Wintergirls is an extremely important novel talking about an important issue that I highly recommend. Though this is targeted mainly for teens, I recommend it to everybody no matter what the age.
Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Marcus Zusak
  • Having finished this one, I can finally say I have read every single novel Marcus Zusak has written. Because of that, I can honestly say now that he is definitely one of my favorite authors today. To me, his novels are about real situations. And one of his biggest strenghts is digging into human nature through very realistic, relate-able, and complex characters. His writing also, is of course, something not to be ignored. His prose is addictive, and his words are simple yet deep. The insights are far from preachy, yet are the ones that are really thought-provoking and compelling. Fighting Ruben Wolfe has all of these elements, and as expected, left me wanting more.
  • I recommend this, most definitely, and everything else Zusak has written.
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
  • I remember reading a lot of Sarah Dessen's work when I was younger. Probably around 13-15ish. Having said this, I recommend this book mostly to YA readers. Good (and cute) story, likable and lovable characters, and all backed up with Dessen's ability to entertain.

Quick Reviews # 3

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

For quick reviews, I simply give my general view and opinion on the books included. If you are interested on reading more about the plot of these novels, simply click on the titles and it will lead you to a website (Amazon.com, usually) and the synopsis can be found there.

When My Name was Keoko by Linda Sue Park
  • This book is highly recommended simply because it is a good story, and is beautifully told. Despite the two narrations by the two main characters and the heavy topics covered, this is a simple book that is easy to grasp and understand.
  • I thought it was also quite refreshing to read a book that covers a difficult time of discrimination and unfairness, yet be delivered in such a way that it is about hope and not about revenge. Again, as I have already said, this is a highly recommended book.
  • It's kind of awesome to have most of the books in this 3rd quick review to be ones that I can recommend to others! This one is definitely not an exception, because I really, really liked this book. It paints such an honest picture of a woman suffering from one of the most misunderstood psychological disorders. But mostly, this is about the woman's children, suffering from what their mother has, through abusive ways and difficult situations.
  • It is written in such a believable way, that at times it really was hard to continue reading, because some of the situations were just simply sickening. I was really able to feel for these children, and for the mother as well. The author's way of writing is just engrossing. It was amazing how she was able to write so well about such a sensitive topic like this. And yes, I literally could not put the book down. It kept me up at night, because I didn't want to stop reading it. I dislike saying that because it's so cliche, but for this book, it holds true to its meaning. Also, long after finishing this, it still stuck to me; the characters, the events, the writing, everything. So yes, again, highly recommended to both teens and adults.
  • In my opinion, the main characters in this book will remain a classic for me. The effortless pairing of the two was pretty much what made the story. Of course, the plot and the storyline itself were impressive as well. The writing.. yes, good also. The developments were simple, but done so well. To begin with, the premise is both interesting and intriguing already. In fact, now that I think about it, I can't really think of any huge flaws from this novel. Even the minor flaws didn't really matter to me. I didn't mind them at all, because overall, this novel is pretty awesome. Having said all these, I highly recommend it. I think this is an excellent story, and is even backed up by smart and intelligent writing.
  • I wanted to at first write an entire review for this book like I usually do, but thought otherwise, because I thought I would be too harsh on it.
  • I read this second effort by The Time Traveler's Wife author with expectations, because that was one of my favorite books I have read about two years ago. Unfortunately, this was a huge let down, and found myself extremely underwhelmed by the whole thing. First off, the main characters were NOT likable at all. To me, they were written based on stereotypes and generalizations. Also, nothing much happens in the story itself. No excitement, no suspense, no nothing. I felt like this would've been much better if it was made as a short story, and probably would've been more effective that way. Another thing, also, is the ending. It was really bad. I was so disappointed with how predictable and unsatisfying it was. I don't know how Niffenegger was able to write such a good debut in TTTW and then write her second as bad as this. But seriously, the entire time, I was simply forcing myself to finish it, hoping it'd get better by the next chapter.. and the chapter after that.. and the next. Unfortunately, it did not get better at all. Instead, it stayed flat all throughout and fell right at the end.
  • Obviously, based on my rant-like review (Sorry) I do not recommend this book at all. Save yourself, skip this, and read TTTW instead.
  • I loved the concept of this young adult book. It is capable of making its readers think outside the box. And overall, I was entertained by it and it kept my interest all throughout. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read who are 13years old +. It covered certain topics, and dove into philosophical ideas, insights, and viewpoints, that I thought were all interesting. Also, the main character in the story is very likable, and found myself rooting for her the entire time.
  • The conclusion was satisfying, as I thought it was handled and delivered well. This is recommended to YA readers.
  • I really do think young adult readers and teenagers will like this book a lot. The premise is very good, main character is extremely likable, and the entire book was well-written and well-delivered. Also, I have to add, I know "sappy" is not exactly a good way to describe a book, for it usually means "corny" or "juvenile." At times, sappiness causes a book to seem contrived. Honestly though, for this book, sappy is a good thing. It was easy to relate to, and I found it easy to feel for the main character and the situation he was facing. Overall, this is a great book if you are interested on reading a fiction story about a teenager literally living his day as if its his last. Recommended to young adult readers.

weird weather.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

For the last couple of days, it's been raining and has been extremely gloomy around here! I do like the rain, and I do love winter.. but I kind of miss having some sun around sometimes! I miss the heat of the sun on my back, wearing sunglasses, breezy clothes, amusement parks, day trips, picnics, the beach!

But...... really, I don't even know why I'm complaining. Because I do like cold weather. I even enjoy a gloomy day once in a while. Those are perfect excuses to wear tights, along with cardigans and scarves and sweaters and oversize sweatshirts. And to drink tea and coffee everyday.. and use cute umbrellas when it rains and wear boots of all kinds..

(obviously, it doesn't snow in Cali, but it's nice to dream. haha)

On second thought.... I think I am going to miss winter when it goes away.

Sometimes, I just confuse myself.
Have a good day! :)

Quick Reviews # 2

For quick reviews, I simply give my general view and opinion on the books included. If you are interested on reading more about the plot of these novels, simply click on the titles and it will lead you to a website (Amazon.com, usually) and the synopsis can be found there.

Seizure by Robin Cook
  • I am not going to prolong this review, because I feel like I might be too harsh on it.
  • I have read most of Robin Cook's mystery/medical thriller novels, and despite the fact that he is an extremely talented writer, I have not actually found any that I liked. One thing I noticed was that all of them had very promising storylines, with very bad endings.
  • This book is not recommended. If you are interested in medical/thriller-ish type, try other authors please. Skip this one, despite the author's credibility and mass popularity.
Everything Bad is Good For you by Steven Johnson (non-fiction)
  • This review will come off totally as a a biased personal opinion simply because I didn't really agree with most of what the author was saying. But I do recommend this book despite this, because this book is generally interesting and entertaining.
  • The concepts and viewpoints are easy to grasp and understand, despite its critical and very detailed views on society. But I think there were a few important things here and there that he missed, and most of his thoughts on things were too general and came off as too biased. Like I said, I don't really agree with everything the author is trying to say, but I do get where he is coming from, and how he is saying all of them. His writing was engrossing, and was not boring at all. It didn't give off the feel of a lecture room and a professor. Generally, I do give him credit for this book as it gave a lot of good arguments without being too preachy. Overall, a recommended book if you like non-fiction, and if you like reading more about views on society today.
The Crimson Portrait by Jody Shields
  • If you have read the plot and synopsis for this one, it probably raised your interest. So from there, I'd like to say, that yes, the plot is very intriguing. The premise is interesting. And then I read it. Unfortunately, despite of a few well-defined main characters, the book failed on so many levels.
  • It dragged on a lot and found myself having a hard time keeping myself interested with it. There were many times I wanted to put this down and quit even trying to finish it, but I finished it anyway. In truth, I wasn't even that interested in finding out how it would end. I did not care much about the other characters, except for a few, and even those few were pretty flat.
  • I don't think it was a horrible book. Obviously, it wasn't good either. I believe the proper words to use are: mediocre and bland. Not recommended.
What Matters Most by Nicole Bokat
  • Though the writing was good, I didn't think it was enough to hold my attention. First of all, I personally did not like the main character. I thought she was too self-indulgent, and it also didn't help that she didn't develop much at all. Also, the plot was simple, and could've been drawn out in a lot of many other more interesting ways than the author did in here. In truth, there really aren't a lot of things to say about this book. Like I said though, if you would like to still take this into consideration, the writing was not bad. The delivery on the other hand, was. Sorry, not recommended.
The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales
  • This was a fun book about diversity, family, culture, and traditions that was both well-written and entertaining. It was also a very fast read, for the chapters are pretty short. The vivid characters and events will also for sure capture not only your attention but your imagination as well.
  • Overall, recommended if you would like to venture out into a more different path compared to the usual contemporary fiction novels.
Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot
  • If you liked the previous book from Meg Cabot, and liked it, you will not be disappointed with this one.
  • Coming from Meg Cabot, it's quite expected that this chic lit would be readable, humorous, and entertaining. These are all true when it comes to Boy Meets Girl. Though a bit predictable, I didn't really care because I was thoroughly entertained! I thought the characters were engaging, the plot complex, and the writing as usual is also very good. Overall, I thought it was simply enjoyable, fast-paced, and found it hard to put it down. Literally.
  • Highly recommended if you are a fan of chic literature, or if you simply want a fun and easy summer (or perhaps a rainy day?) read.

The Rope Walk

Synopsis: Set in the summer time, this coming of age story is about a young, white girl named Alice. On her 10th birthday, she meets a young, black city boy named Theo.
Due to Theo's mother's depression, he is eventually forced to live with Alice and her family. They become closer friends, discovering about the world around them, and life itself. Most importantly, together, they learn about themselves, and grow to be who they are truly meant to be.

Review: I liked this book a lot. I thought it was entertaining, thought-provoking, and memorable.
I think the main reason why I liked this was because the author did a good job contextualizing childhood, innocence, and discovery in a realistic manner. It was all very believable, and did not seem in any way contrived. The way she wrote about the two main characters, Alice and Theo, was simply effortless. It was easy for me to picture them; how they were acting, thinking, and feeling. In a way, it's almost like I was sinking in to their world, and leaving mine. It's not often that an author can do that, at least for me. Mostly I believe this is because her writing fit just perfectly with every character and every word in the book. It was not difficult at all to see the scene she has painted.
Of course, there were some minor flaws. There were times that the descriptions seemed too much or that chapters became too wordy. Despite these little mistakes I would've liked to see gone, I still do recommend this very underrated book.

i almost forgot how much i loved this

Probably my favorite scene.
Sad as it was.

Collecting everything we could of theirs, the Lisbon girls wouldn't leave our minds but they were slipping away. The color of their eyes was fading along with the exact locations... of moles and dimples. From five, they had become four, and they were all the living and the dead, becoming shadows. We would have lost them completely if the girls hadn't contacted us.

Quick Reviews

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Fan Maker's Inquisition by Rikki Ducornet
  • The Fan-Maker's Inquisition is about the thoughts and life of the Marquis de Sade, written in letters and written entries during his imprisonment.
  • I was really interested with reading this one. In the beginning, it seemed as if the characters would hold up, and the plot would develop and become even more interesting. The writing was promising, with its good use of deft words and poetic prose. However, in the end, it was just pretty flat and empty. So I do not recommend this, simply because I don't think anyone should waste their time with a book that starts off with a lot of potential, only to let them down in the end.

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

  • This is a young adult book, set in New York city IN 1899. Girls and women are expected to be demure, sophisticated, and elegant. In this novel, it shows four young women, doing the exact opposite of what is expected in their social standing. If these wrongdoings and their secrets are revealed, things are not going to go exactly as what anyone wants..
  • While the author does a great job creating a compelling plot that is engaging and interesting, backed up with fast-paced writing, the characters do not exactly match up so well for they are not as interested as promised. They are unconvincing, unbelievable, and unrealistic.
  • With this one, it's either you like it or you hate it. I didn't totally hate it, but I did not love it either. Having said that, I don't really recommend this, because I can think of so many other young adult titles if you are interested in stories with plots and settings like these.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

  • This novel consists of several short stories all set in Maine, and all linked to one woman named Olive Kitteridge.
  • I have to agree that Elizabeth Strout's writing is exceptional, and is what ultimately kept me interested all throughout. The way she dealt with the words and how she managed to make them flow with little to no effort was pretty awesome. Also, the main character, Olive Kitteridge, is a well-defined and complex character, that is easy to get to know and like at the same time. However, I was a bit distracted from the story with the way the stories were cut and arranged.
  • This novel was (and I believe, is still) a very popular bestseller and was recommended a lot of times again and again. I wasn't disappointed, but I didn't think it was GREAT. It was good, and I don't regret reading it, but it's nothing spectacular. I also don't think I'd be re-reading it again. I do recommend it though, if you don't mind the unique (and sometimes odd) cuts and format of the stories.

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

  • I have read, I think, all of Kinsella's work in the chic lit department. Whenever I'm in need of a good one from that genre, Kinsella never fails. Although this book is not as good as The Shopaholic Series, this book definitely doesn't disappoint.
  • Coming from Kinsella, it's quite expected for it to have the same wit and humor. The pace was quick, and overall, the entire novel was a page turner. It was simple, and straight-forward, nothing complicated.
  • Overall, this is a great rainy/lazy day read. It's quick, entertaining, and humorous. I recommend it if you like chic lits,and if you are also a fan of Kinsella.
The Night Villa by Carol Goodman
  • This is a combination of mystery, Gothic atmosphere, suspense, thriller, literature, history, and academics. Mostly, this is a good book full of masterful writing matched up with a great setting and a list of believable characters.
  • I liked this story a lot, although there was something missing. Maybe a bit more excitement, a bit more of a "pizzazz" as they often say. And while I do recommend it to those who would enjoy a good mystery every now and then, I'm not exactly jumping up and down for it.

The Weight of Silence

Synopsis: Petra, a 7-year-old young girl, is a selective mute. She has been for years now, but not all her life. Nobody really knows why she is, but one day about 4 years ago, she just suddenly stopped talking.
Then one day, Petra has gone missing. When her parents found out, they started calling the police and all of her friends. It turns out that Petra's best friend, Callie, is also missing.
In this novel, Callie is the narrator, speaking not only for herself, but for Petra as well.

Review: I liked this book because the premise and the main characters were really interesting. Also, I liked it because of the many different themes involved and that all of them were tackled carefully and delicately. It also intrigued me with its mysterious situations and events, that lead to a satisfying conclusion.

The writing overall is okay. The plot is generally comparable to Jodi Picoult's. (Picoult writes better) And though this is not exactly an "incredible" book that I am raving that much about, I would recommend it if you're looking for a dramatic, dark-secret-in-families sort of a story. It is a bit on the heavier side of things, when it comes to its story line and background, but simple and straight-forward nonetheless.

The Hiding Place

Synopsis: Set in the 1960s, this is about the Gauci family, and the cruelties of a father, who never wanted his six daughters. He doesn't think they are of any good, as much as they would be if they were sons instead.
With the youngest in the family narrating with her own point of view, along with her sisters', she tells the story of their suffering and struggle living with a haunting past with a selfish father and an oppressed mother.

Review: I like authors/writers that are able to describe in full detail the scenarios and the characters without droning on with description. I like it when they use the story's heart to capture my imagination. This author and this novel are able to do that.
First of all, the entire book was simply honest, relentless, and fearless. There were times that I knew to myself, I wasn't just reading words anymore, but listening to hidden characters burst out with their secret heart break and sorrows.
Speaking of, the characters were extremely likable, and relate-able, with their own distinct personalities and capabilities. I found them to be very believable, especially with how they would react to certain situations and events. And like I said, the best part was that the book didn't just make me think, but also feel for them.The author obviously took time to build these characters, developing them smoothly and effectively. The plot, also, had good development. As we learn more about these characters, we also dig deeper into the reasons why and how they have become like that.
Having said that, I think the writing was intelligent, and full of compassion and understanding of human condition and nature.
Also, I know the pace is important when people pick books to read, and so yes, I can say that this was fast-paced, easy to read, and had a nice flow to it. It's kind of hard to imagine that this was really the author's first published novel. Her efforts are really just good, and none were juvenile and naive. Even when there were moments that were disturbing and difficult to read (and accept), I read on because I really did find myself completely drawn into the story.

A premise like this could easily have spiraled into a cliche and corny Lifetime movie, but Azzopardi does such a great job making it as realistic as possible. With clarity and grace, the author weaves an engaging, haunting, and inspiring fiction story that is both powerfully tragic as it is beautiful. For sure, this one will stick with me for a while.
Highly recommended!

Shanghai Girls

Synopsis: This is a novel about two Chinese sisters, Pearl and May, leaving Shanghai and migrating to Los Angeles in the mid-1930s. When they got to United States, they found themselves detained and treated badly for months, undergoing many trials and terrible circumstances. Even when they got out, they still found that it wasn't going to be any easier for either of them, for they not only have to face the many possible challenges in store for them, but also keep a secret that might threaten their lives overall.

Review: Having read Lisa See's previous books, Peony in Love and The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and being more of a fan of the latter, I had quite a few expectations. Some were delivered, but most weren't.

First off, I have to say it, the author is a very good story-teller, and is able to give us many views and sides of Chinese culture and traditions. Also, it was an easy read. It was simple, yet direct, and was easy to understand.
However, I thought that it lacked a great deal of excitement to keep me interested throughout. The characters were okay, but they weren't as likable as I would have wished them to be.
Also, I thought that there were too many plots and sub-plots on top of one another, that there were a couple of times I really thought the book was getting too long. At the same time though, I was still curious and decided to just invest more time with the story, and see what would happen next and how it would end. Having said that, unfortunately, I wish I didn't spend too much time on this one. The author wrote with too many unnecessary details and information. I could've skipped them all, for they did not really contribute much to the actual story, but like I said, I decided to just stick with it and see how it would go.
Again, unfortunately, I was quite disappointed after finishing this. It seemed like the potential was there, but the delivery fell short.

In the end though, I really do think the author is talented, and is able to weave stories about family relationships as well as culture very well. I don't hate the book, but I am not exactly raving about it. I don't recommend it as much as I would recommend The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan better if you are looking for a Lisa See book. And if you were really interested in checking out books about Chinese culture and the like, I wouldn't suggest Lisa See as much as I would suggest Amy Tan. Nevertheless though, this is, overall, an engaging read, but backed up with a couple setbacks.

The Dante Club

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Synopsis: If you ask some of the major literary figures, Longfellow, Lowell, Holmes, and Dante to get together to solve a mysterious murder case, and you were wondering how it would play out, this novel would be your answer. The Dante Club is a novel full of history, literature, suspense, and fast-paced thrill.

Review: First of all, kudos to the author for making such a unique and intriguing premise, and for starring these real life characters in a fiction story. Another kudos for the fact that it truly came off that the author did a thorough and careful research. Historical facts were stated, characters were on-point, there were barely any plot holes at all, etc. Also, the way the author wrote and talked about the setting was good too. I was able to really picture Boston (I have never actually been there) right after the Civil War. I think it had most to do with the author's way of writing his details and descriptions, without really giving too much information. I liked that it was subtle, but direct.

I do have minor complaints though. There were some situations and events that were too over the top or exaggerated. Another thing that I thought was too over the top were the other characters aside from the four main ones. The others were all pretty much based off stereotypical nonsense. Because of these negative aspects, I didn't find any of these very believable, and so I had a hard time relating myself to the book and completely immerse myself to it.

Please don't get me wrong though. This book is not terrible. I can't even say that it was bad. It has its good points and it also has its bad points. I liked it in a way, simply because it was interesting and fast-paced. I also do recommend it, but only to certain readers. If you like historical fiction, and if the plot itself about the four literary characters intrigue you, then go for it. If you are neither though, I really do suggest you skip this one.

Book Reviews

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book Reviews by Titles: A-Z

Book Reviews by Genre

The Lucky One

Synopsis: They say everyone has their own good luck charm. It can be anything from an old rock to a special coin to a sentimental ring. For U.S. Marine Logan Thibault, his lucky charm is none other than a picture of a woman he has never met. He has said that it is how he made it alive and well through a couple of his duty tours in Iraq. When he comes home from his duty, he decides to find the woman in the picture.

Review: Nicholas Sparks has a total of 14 books to date. I have read all of them. Like I said in The Last Song review, to me, a Sparks books is either a hit or a miss. Nothing in between. This statement really is true, in my own personal opinion. For this one, I'll say it right out. It's a bit of a miss. Not too much, but a miss nonetheless.

Let me start with its good points. First off, if you are reading a Sparks book, it is bound to be fast-paced, modern, interesting, and easy to read. The premise is almost always intriguing, and is bound to hold your attention. The setting (which he usually always sets in North Carolina), is also well described and detailed. The dialogues were not juvenile or cliche. And I think the best part about any Sparks novel is his characters. He is able to create these characters that hook you in the story from the very first chapter.
And so, speaking of the characters, I thought that in the beginning, they were well-defined and complex.

Unfortunately, midway through the book, it started to fall apart. The character development just stops almost immediately. And then, they just get stuck in that place somehow, and they didn't develop more than I hoped they would. Also, midway, it got a bit boring. It was dragging, and I felt as if Sparks was just trying way too hard to make the story exciting by being "emotional."
Another big complain is the ending. It was too melodramatic for my taste, and the delivery was not very believable. It was too clean, too tidy--almost as if it was rushed. I had a hard time buying it, because it all of a sudden became too forced.

To sum up my review, I liked the premise. The build up was good. It had a lot of potential. But overall, it just fell short.

I don't really recommend this book, most especially if you are just starting to get into reading Sparks' work. If you want to read a good one for him for your first, this might not be the best option for you.

Pablo Neruda

Thursday, February 4, 2010

- Pablo Neruda
I can't even remember how young (or old) I was when I first read this poem. But this is not only my ultimate favorite poem, this was also definitely one of the things that inspired me to venture more into other means of literature. Specifically, since knowing this piece, more popularly known as Sonnet 17, written by Pablo Neruda, I've never stopped reading (and writing) poetry.

Though I don't remember how young I was back then, I do remember though, a random story somehow related to this book. I'll warn you already: this is super random and corny.. Forgive me for my brief episode of self-indulgence.


It was three years ago, just a few days before my birthday. I was still working at my old job. During my break, I went to get my purse. When I opened it, I was surprised to find a cute, little, pink book stashed in there.
Then there it was, my third copy of Pablo Neruda's 100 Love Sonnets. It took me a few days to find out who it was from, because it was put there secretly, as a birthday gift. It's funny because that person and I were just co-workers; less than friends, more than acquaintances. We had a few short conversations here and there, mostly small talk. We were never really close, and even today, we don't contact each other anymore. Up to this day though, there are things I still don't know: 1) how that person even knew that book was my favorite. 2) why that person even considered giving a gift.
Maybe he paid more attention to all the random stuff I talked about. Maybe he asked another co-worker. Maybe he asked a close friend of mine. Also, maybe he really just likes giving gifts to people. I don't know. Whatever the reason was, and no matter what our relationship was (or lack thereof) the fact still remains that it was definitely one of the most thoughtful things ever done for me :)


Long story short, I suggest you not only read the sonnet posted above, but read the entire book. Get a copy of it, borrow it from someone, check it out from the library.. however you want to get a hold of it, do it.
If you like poetry, sonnets, literature, reading, writing, or if you just love words..
then you will love this.

California weather is weird.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Yesterday it was gloomy and was raining all day.

Today, the sun is out.

Six more weeks of winter, and then...


Under the Dome

Synopsis: A small town in New England is just like another normal, average town. Until one day, when it found itself cut off from the rest of the world when a huge and clear dome-like barrier appears, trapping them inside and separating them from the outside. People have different questions; What is it? Why is it there? What will happen to the townspeople? When will it disappear? When will things go back to normal? As the situation escalates and eventually becomes an emergency situation, different people in power and position (government, scientists, etc) try to solve the mystery of this barrier and ultimately, break it down.

Review: I've read few of Stephen King's popular books, and I've always been in awe with his work. I like how he is capable of not only instilling fear in his readers, but making them think about that fear, long after the story is finished.
This one is a little bit different from his usual work, mainly because it's not about ghosts or supernatural beings anymore. This novel works with the horror of reality--of the world today, and what humans are capable of doing at a time of need.
I have to say, this is a unique and a very interesting story line. I was eager to find out more about it, and as I was reading, found my interest still there. The characters are well-developed, as well as the events leading up to its satisfying conclusion. However, this is probably NOT AS good as King's other works of horror. I don't know if it's because it was a bit too disturbing for my taste (but I guess it shows the point of showing human ugliness) or.. I'm not entirely sure.

I do recommend it, only if you would find this plot appealing to you. Again, this is a disturbing book, just to let you know ahead before you dive into it. If you have read it already, please tell me how you felt about it and what you think about it. This is just one of those books, I have mixed thoughts and feelings about it.

Sarah's Key

Synopsis: In this novel, the author brings a fiction story based on the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, where Jewish families were arrested and transported to Auschwitz.
Julia Harmond, a forty-five-year-old writer for an American magazine, has been assigned by her editor to cover the coming 60th anniversay of the Vél' d'Hiv' roundups. While doing this assignment, she learns that the apartment she is planning to move into with her husband was once the house of a Jewish family that were part of the deportation 60 years ago. The more she learns about the family, especially about the 10-year-old daughter, Sarah, who was the only one who survived, the more she learns about her husband and his family's background, France, and ultimately, herself.

Review: In this book, the author used an effective method of alternating the past (1942) with the present.The historical plot and storyline makes this compelling, interesting, and intriguing. But even though there were good points, I don't think it was that good overall.

It started to lose its appeal by the middle of the book, that it lost me with it as well. There were unnecessary ramblings, and random events that might have been better if they were taken out or edited better. The modern life overshadows the tragedy of the past, making it seem like a book full of rants and complains of a not-so-likable character, suffering from mid-life crisis. (Sorry)

In short, the story had great potential. The writing was good, but nothing special. The issues were not used and dealt with efficiently.
I just feel that if only it was handled differently by another author, it would have ultimately be a better book. Don't get me wrong, it is not a HORRIBLE book, but it is not GREAT either. Also, I can think of so many other different titles dealing with this storyline and issues that you will find so much better. This one is not so worth it. Personally, if I were you, I'd skip it.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

About a year ago, I found out about the new Hary Potter themed amusement park that was being built in Orlando, Florida. This spring, it's finally opening!

(actual amusement park castle)

Oh Florida, why do you have to be soooo far??!

p.s.- The brand new commercial for this will also be shown during the Superbowl this Sunday. Be on the look out! :)

do you know..

that I am in love with this show?


Catching Fire

Monday, February 1, 2010

Written with the same amount of intensity, excitement, and drive, this highly-anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games does not disappoint.

:Spoiler ONLY if you have NOT read the first book::

Synopsis: It picks right where it left off in the first book in this young adult trilogy. Katniss won the games, but so did Peeta. Now they are back in the city of Panem, and the government (fondly called the Capitol) is furious as to how both of them tricked them into letting two contestants win. This results in a plan of twisted vengeance that could change not only their lives, but the future of the whole city.

Review: This sequel has everything the first book has, so if you liked that one, you would like this too. Truthfully, a part of me actually thought this was better than its predecessor, which is a rarity when it comes to follow-ups.
In Catching Fire, we learn more about the main characters, as well as the Capitol, which I thought was really interesting and intriguing.

Overall, I think this was used mainly as a follow-up, adding in much needed information that the first book lacked, and as a perfect transition for its conclusion in the final book. A very good one at that. Fans will not be disappointed.

Note: Final book will be out on Aug2010.

The Hunger Games

Synopsis: The Hunger Games is a game. A televised reality show for everyone to watch and see. A game where the government picks randomized names of two children from each of the twelve districts in the city of Panem.
The rules of the game are simple: kill everyone else or be killed. Only one survives.

Review: Sometimes, the plot is only the beginning of a book. More often, it's the characters that hold up a story. With this young adult book, that's definitely the case.
Although done before, and the plot is not as original or unique, it's the main characters that truly kept me interested. They were very solid characters, likable, and believable. Because of that, it not only made me empathize and relate to them more, it also kept me hooked and interested.

Another big plus for me was the writing and the pace. It never lagged, was simple, and straight-forward; nothing overly complicated or exaggerated. I liked that, because it showed that an author doesn't have to use big, fancy words all the time to create a point. Sometimes, even the simplest of words would suffice, if delivered the right way. I feel like this is one of those books that is the epitome of that idea.

Also, I was really into the book the entire time I was reading it, and literally couldn't put it down. I know, it's a cliche to say that, but that is truly the case with this one. Even when I finished the book, I couldn't wait to check out the sequel. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), this is a popular trilogy so the library did not have it. I was also far too impatient to reserve it, because the number of holds were crazy! So I gave in and bought a copy of it instead. And I really do think it's worth buying. So yes, I do recommend this book. It's a young adult, fantasy/sci-fi/horror-ish novel, and though I usually tend to stay away from that genre, this one made me actually want to read others in that category.

Again, like I said, I do recommend it. So read it, especially if you're in the mood for a really good, intriguing, interesting, well-written young adult book with a really disturbing storyline.