The Girl Who Played with Fire

Sunday, January 31, 2010

This is a sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And again, for this review, I will not be writing my own synopsis.

Synopsis:
Lisbeth Salander is a wanted woman. Two Millennium journalists about to expose the truth about the sex trade in Sweden are brutally murdered, and Salander's prints are on the weapon. Her history of unpredictable and vengeful behaviour makes her an official danger to society - but no-one can find her anywhere. Meanwhile, Mikael Blomkvist, editor-in-chief of Millennium, will not believe what he hears on the news. Knowing Salander to be fierce when fearful, he is desperate to get to her before she is cornered and alone. As he fits the pieces of the puzzle together, he comes up against some hardened criminals, including the chainsaw-wielding 'blond giant' - a fearsomely huge thug who can feel no pain. Digging deeper, Blomkvist also unearths some heart-wrenching facts about Salander's past life. Committed to psychiatric care aged 12, declared legally incompetent at 18, this is a messed-up young woman who is the product of an unjust and corrupt system. Yet Lisbeth is more avenging angel than helpless victim - descending on those that have hurt her with a righteous anger terrifying in its intensity and truly wonderful in its outcome. - Source

Review: If you have read my review for its predecessor, you would know I wasn't exactly raving too much about it. But I'm happy to say that this sequel turned out much better than that.
One of my main complaints with the first one was that the characters were not well developed enough. Here, we get to learn more about them, which I liked a lot. Also, I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but Larsson really paints a strong woman in one of his main characters, which I highly respect. I like an author--especially one from the opposite sex--that can see see women as they are, and not be afraid to depict them as that in their stories.
Another good thing about this is the pace. It no longer seemed to draw out with unnecessary subplots, but went straight to the point instead. It was much faster to read as well, and much more exciting. There were many plot twists, but none of them seemed forced.

Overall, I recommend this book. A well-done thriller.
By the way, I honestly don't think you need to read the first book to understand the story of this one, although of course that is preferable.


RIP Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

For this review, I am not going to be writing my own synopsis.

Synopsis: Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch--and there's always a catch--is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. - Dave Callanan

Review: I was literally just staring at my computer screen, trying to come up with my own summary for this novel, but obviously had a hard time, and eventually failed to do so. I don't know if it's because the plot is too complicated to tell without giving away too much information, or if I wasn't just into it that much. I guess it's a bit of both.

This is an international bestseller, and I see this everywhere I go! (bookstores, Target, Walmart, etc) I guess, in a lot of ways, I can see how this has gained so much popularity and praise.
Generally, the book is good.

But.. not that good.

It is less than expected, especially after hearing many people recommending this book and reading its good reviews. I have to agree though, it is interesting. It also is really rich in intricate details. But like I said already, it just wasn't that good.
The novel is long, and it felt like it! It took a while for it to get to the main plot, that by the time it did, I couldn't even tell because of all the other unnecessary subplots. The middle part of the book was the best part, but the ending, like I said about how it started, was also drawn out way too much. The characters also, were not developed well enough, which made it hard for me to connect or relate more to them. Their roles were not believable either. And when I don't care that much for the characters, I tend to not care much about what's going on, what's happening to them, and the situations they are facing.

If it wasn't for the author's intelligent writing, I don't know what would have made me kept reading.
Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad book. Overall, I guess I would still recommend it, so you can judge it for yourself. It's just that I can think of a lot of other titles similar to this plot and style that would be much better choices than this.

The Mercy of Thin Air

This is somewhat similar to The Lovely Bones' plot, and maybe even a touch of The Time Traveler's Wife, yet completely different in a lot of ways.

Synopsis:
Raziela Nolan dies in an accident, leaving her family, friends, and her boyfriend devastated. As years pass and they have learned to move on from her sudden death, Raziela watches them live their lives.

Review: This is a creative novel that really captures what life, love, and loss are all about through different characters with different points of views. It was definitely imaginative and original, which captivated me from start to finish.

There were times that I did get a little bored (and sometimes confused). In each chapter, a different character would take over with his or her point of view. And because each chapter only takes about a page and a half, there were times that it seemed to get a bit choppy, which made it a bit harder to catch who was actually narrating.
Other than that, I enjoyed the book. The story itself drew me in, and the characters were also memorable. I do recommend it, and if you do get the chance to read it, it's always a good idea to read with an open-mind. I think people would really appreciate this story more that way.

more days like these please.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


When I wake up whenever and realizing that I don't have anything in particular that I need or have to do.


So I get to lounge in bed..


And get up whenever I want to..


Get out of the house and go wherever..


do whatever..

Watch time fly by..
knowing there's no specific time limit.
or a curfew.


And I get to read..


And write..


on a perfect cloudy but sunny day..


and walk through fields of flowers..

And lay down under the shade..
just before the sun begins to set.


Then I go back home before dark and turn on those lights despite the fact that it's not even the holidays anymore.


And at bedtime, I read again for a bit.


And then..
this.



Really.

More days like these please.

The Center of Everything

Synopsis: This tells the story of ten-year-old Evelyn Bucknow, who lives a life of poverty with her mother, struggling with overwhelming circumstances. Through her years from middle school until high school, she goes on a personal journey, discovering and learning about what life really is.

Review: This was a good book. A simple story, but effectively delivered.
I think my favorite part about it was how the different issues in life were talked about. Both sides were openly explored, making not only the characters in the story more open-minded, but the readers as well. I liked the fact that there were no biased opinions, and that in all the issues explored, all the different sides were talked about. Never did it seem like a lecture either, or preachy which is absolutely a big plus.
Another really big plus is the main character, Evelyn. She was such a likable, realistic, and believable character. She sort of represents every one of us; a believer, a skeptic, a daughter, a friend, and so many more.
I do recommend this book, but it's probably not for everyone. But overall, this is a simple story about a girl, growing up, and becoming the person she's supposed to be in life.

The Help

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Synopsis: Set in the early 1960s in Mississippi, about a white woman who holds an interest in the life of black women working as maids in white families' homes. She writes the different stories that happen every day; abuse, mistreatment, etc. Set just before the Civil Rights revolution, her discoveries and realizations hold a great deal of importance. Sooner than later, she realizes that these stories... are more than just a topic of her interest. These stories are the lives of real people.

Review: It's a bit hard to believe that this is the author's first novel because this book is amazing!
The story is compelling, inspiring, and just raw, leaving you wanting more. It says a lot also, because this has almost 500 pages and yet it never felt like it was just dragging on with unnecessary subplots, dialogues, and thoughts. I literally did not want it to end. The way the characters and the setting were written, it was so vivid that it felt like I was actually in that moment. It's pretty rare for an author to have that talent; to paint a picture clear enough to see just by using words. And nothing seemed forced, or cliche, or too corny. And overall, just the theme and the plot was treated delicately, almost like a history lesson, but not from a teacher, but coming straight from the people themselves. To me, that was the most important part; seeing a different perspective on a familiar issue, written in simple but wonderful prose.

I can't recommend it enough! Read it.

I Am the Messenger

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but Markus Zusak's The Book Thief is one of my favorite books. Having read the rest of the author's works, I think it's also safe to say that he's one of my favorite authors now. So if you are also a fan, or want to be, I can definitely say this novel will NOT disappoint.

Synopsis: I Am the Messenger is about nineteen-year-old, Ed Kennedy. He's just an average, normal teenage guy. A self-proclaimed failure; He didn't try in school, and now he chose a job as a taxi driver because it was the easiest one he could find. In his spare time, he just hangs out with three of his best friends, just lounging around.
Until one day, on a seemingly normal trip to the bank, they found themselves in the middle of a robbery. When the robber decided to run for it and attempt to escape, Ed Kennedy decided to chase after him, and eventually, was able to stop him. After this "heroic" move, everyone thought of him as some sort of savior.
Then one day he received something random in the mail; a card--an Ace of Diamonds. On the card, were three addresses, with corresponding times on them. For a while, he was only confused and did not have an idea what to do. But eventually, he started to realize that these cards meant for something more special and more important than he has ever done in his entire life. He was given an important task; to be a messenger, and to deliver "messages" to specific people. The question is, can he deliver them, and is he capable of doing what is asked of him?

Review: I loved this novel so much. I loved the characters, the situations, the writing, the flow, the ending... everything.
Though not as good as The Book Thief, I don't think of it any less at all. I feel like the magnitude of Marcus Zusak's writing was the same. The development of the characters (and the plot) were smoothly done, making it very easy for me to empathize with all of them as well as the story itself.
And of course, as expected in a story coming from the author, the message to its readers were genuine and real. It didn't seem contrived or forced, and to me, that counts a lot. It's hard to take a book seriously when it becomes preachy in an extremely pretentious way.
Obviously, the book is too far-fetched and too "fantastical" to happen in real life, but I think that the point of it was not to deliver actual reality. I think the point was to to push us to think about other people than just ourselves, and for us to believe that somehow, each and everyone of us is capable of possibly changing the world, simply by doing good and kind things for others.

To sum it all up, it is a very good book (my 2nd favorite from the author), is extremely well-crafted, is heartfelt, and is full of meaningful but subtle messages. I highly recommend it.

Lessons from a Dead Girl

If I had to make a list of books that I would highly recommend to anybody, regardless of the age, this would be one of those. And if I had to make another list of books that made an impact that stayed long after I read them, this would most definitely be part of that.

Synopsis: Leah and Laney were best friends since childhood. During the younger years of their friendship, Leah would sexually abuse Lainey to "practice." As they both get older, Lainey starts to wonder more about Leah's real intentions. Feeling betrayed and hurt by her actions in the past, Lainey pulls away from their relationship, which causes Leah to become self-destructive.
Now, Leah Greene is dead. Will Lainey ever find the will to find Leah's reasons and understand them? And along the way, will she ever find a way to forgive her and to forgive, ultimately, herself?

Review: This is a young adult book, but like I said, I highly recommend this to anyone, no matter how old you are.

This story really made me reflect a lot after almost every chapter that I finish. It's not that often that I do that. But this one really made that kind of impact. The theme of abuse comes up often in a lot of novels, but it's rare that the people involved are 1) in the same gender and 2) are even close friends. This was a different nature of friendship and children, showing the destructive side of it.
I can't dwell on it more and talk about how much I liked the book, I just think you should read it. It is not only a page-turner and a fast read, it also deals with a very important issue, often overlooked by many.
Written with clarity and compassion, this is a heart breaking story of betrayal, forgiveness, and growth between friends; neither of them protagonists nor antagonists. Because at the end of the day, we all are somewhat of both after all.

Keeping Faith

Synopsis: When seven-year-old Faith finds herself caught in the middle of her parents' troubled marriage, she retreats to a silenced world where she finds herself her own "imaginary friend." Faith's mother, Mariah, has little concern for this friend and thinks it's a normal thing for a child to go through this stage... until her daughter begiins reciting Bible passages, performing miracles, and experiencing stigmata.

Review: First off, there is no doubt that Jodi Picoult is a great, accomplished writer. I've read almost all of her works. But I don't know if it's just me that don't seem to find any of her books that good. The writing is always good, yes. The plot is also usually very interesting and intriguing. But the delivery always seem to fall apart and fail. Of course, that is only my own opinion.

With this one, I actually found myself quite bored towards the middle part of the book. Also, I felt like the characters needed much more development. There was a lot of potential, but it just fell flat for me.

Don't get me wrong, I did not hate it. I'm just not raving about it.

The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters

Synopsis: Olivia's younger sister is dying. She then writes moving emails and letter to her and about her. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters is a touching story not only about sisters, but about two women, and the love they have for each other.

Review: Reading the synopsis for this might make it sound like it came straight out of a Lifetime movie. In some ways, it kind of is. And somehow, it seems to work.

Personally, I liked the story. I also liked the characters. The writing was fine and tolerable. However, it was a bit on the cliche side of things. Also, there were many times the book felt like it was just dragging on and on with random philosophical ponderings and what not. Despite this, I do think it's worth reading.

Overall, the plot itself and the story is enough to hold and keep your attention. Thought-provoking, inspirational, touching.. just not enough to make me read this again, or get a copy of it. It also wouldn't be on the top of my list of books I would recommend.

Today's buys.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Today, I gave in and bought myself three lovely things. Although I did only have to pay for one (which was only $7.50) and let an awesome Barnes and Noble gift card (that I got for Christmas) pay for the rest.
  • Nightlight: a parody
- I have seen this title come up a lot in message boards and other blogs, and so today, I went out to get it. And yes, if you have already guessed, it is a parody of Twilight. This is written by The Harvard Lampoon, the undergraduate humor publication and social organization at Harvard University.
I'm halfway done, (hilarious from start to where I am) so review will be coming up soon!
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's DVD
- I actually can't believe I don't have a copy of this yet. And it was only $7.50 at Target!
  • Alice's Adventure in Wonderland
- I've read the short story version of this one a long time ago, but I am actually very disappointed to let you know that I have never read the actual novel written by Lewis Carroll. I will get to that as soon as I can as well.


In the meantime, I will leave you with this.
I know it has nothing to do with today's post but I thought of adding it in anyway. :)

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This is another one of those books that I find myself having a hard time writing a proper synopsis for. But I will tell you the general idea of what Child 44 is about.

It is a fiction story written by an incredibly talented and skilled writer, who has set his story in the 1950s, during the time of the Stalinist Soviet Union. He then mixes some aspects of the factual and real case of Soviet serial-killer, Andrei Chikatilo. With these haunting elements, comes a well-written historical thriller, "serial killer" type of a book.

Review: I liked Child 44 a lot! First off, I thought that the setting itself was very original. There are other novels set during this time period, but honestly, I can't think of any that was up to par with this one. The best thing about it, simply, is the writing. The flow of words made it also surprisingly easy, despite the heavy topics. And the way he writes his descriptions, details, setting, events, and his characters; very vivid, believable, honest and authentic.

I won't go on about it more, all I can say is I really liked this book. It is also one of my top choices for 2009. And also, I would recommend this to anyone who loves to read, wants fresh literature, and to those who like historical fiction. Great book.

If you haven't already..

Monday, January 18, 2010



It's really not too late to start reading them.



And believe it or not, from when I was 12 until today, it actually still is (are) my favorite books of all time.




They really are as good as everyone says they are.



(but no, unfortunately, just watching the movies doesn't count)




except maybe to watch him.


Movies 2012

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I have decided that along with keeping a list of all the books I read this year, that I would also start writing down every single movie I see. This includes movies that I have already seen but am just re-watching. I will of course state if it's a re-watch. If I don't, then it's a new movie. It might be cool to look back at this :)

1. Jurassic Park - rewatch (01.29)
2. Enchanted - rewatch (02.02)
3. One Day - 02.06
4. Midnight in Paris - 02.06
5. Friends with Benefits - 02.09
6. The Vow - 02.10
7. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - rewatch (02.12)
8. This Means War (02.19)
9. The Hunger Games (03.23)
10. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (04.28)
11. Chimpanzee (04.29)
12. The Avengers (05.4)
13. Captain America: The First Avenger (05.06)
14. The Amazing Spiderman
15. The Dark Knight Rises
16. 21 Jump Street
17. Chronicle

The Lovely Bones: movie review

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This is a review for the movie adaptation. If you're interested, I have a book review for it too over here, which I wrote about 2 years ago.

Sentimental, sinister, fantasy, science-fiction, mystery, thriller, (horror?) are all the words I can think of to describe the story of The Lovely Bones. The book version achieved worldwide success because the combination of all of those worked so well and seemed effortless. In the movie, these mismatched and sometimes, even odd elements come back to bring out a story that can be viewed either to be a hit or a miss.

First of all, I liked the movie. It's not one of my favorites, but I am definitely on the 'i liked it' side of the spectrum.

In my opinion though, the best part about the film is casting Saoirse Ronan, the actress who played such an unforgettable role in Atonement, as the main character, Susie Salmon. I think she was definitely the best element in the movie. Never did her acting seem too over the top, cliche, or juvenile. She just brought naturalness and radiance to her part, that made me really feel for her character so much more.
Another actor I can say that really made the film also, is Stanley Tucci, who played the murderer. If you have seen the movie, you know exactly what I mean. The way he portrayed the character of Mr. Harvey was crazy-awesome.
Unfortunately, this movie has gotten a lot of negative reviews. But I usually don't rely on critic reviews or overly critical fan reviews anyway. I can be critical, but I also try to take a movie (or a book) as it is.
I do understand the most common reasons though why a lot of people don't understand or like this movie. Mostly maybe because of how the directors/producers made it such a 'fantasy-ish' movie. A huge example that had this aspect is Susie's afterlife. To some, it might appear too contrived, or too corny/sappy. Also, another reason why people tend to not like this could also be because the movie was extremely weird, creepy, and startling all at the same time! To say it was disturbing is almost an understatement. It wasn't so much that it showed scenes of violence and gore, because those aspects were actually kept to a mininum. What was more grotesque was the thought of those happening, and letting your own imagination wander. (My friends and I actually had a hard time walking back to our car because of the afterthought, go figure)

As predicted, the movie is depressing simply because the whole story surrounds the murder of a young girl. But personally, although it was definitely a sad story, it was also in a way very uplifting. In fact, it actually left me feeling hopeful instead. Mostly, it was just heartrendingly bittersweet.

I also have to add that the ending quote pretty much summed up everything. Understanding this quote somehow puts a touch of "okay-ness" to the injustice as well as the unfound bodies. I really wish people paid more attention to hearing it. hehe.

So I recommend this to people who:
1. have read the book (They changed some stuff, but I've come to accept that, that's how it will always be in movie adaptations)
2. like fantastical/sci-fi, drama, thriller all at the same time
3. don't have too much expectations
4. would like a movie, without judging it based on unbiased opinions
5. like Saoirse Ronan as well as Stanley Tucci

But maybe think twice if:
1. you are easily scared/disturbed/creeped out (a.k.a me, but I still liked it anyway)
2. if you do not believe there is a heaven, a hell, and in between. Arguably, this might be not a good movie to watch as it is heavily drawn towards those particular beliefs.


"There are the physical bones of our existence, which may or may not be found, and then there are the petrified emotions that linger in the hearts of those we’ve loved. These intangible proofs of our being are what make life meaningful, regardless of how old we become or how we die." - Susie Salmon


today i saw..

Thursday, January 14, 2010

the cutest things at Barnes & Noble! I usually don't go to B&N just because I buy my books usually online, or at other shops/stores. But I saw these and had to take pictures. I just used my phone so I'm sorry for the quality.
  • Right when I saw the notebook/journal thing, I said I had to get it! But when I looked at the back for the price, it was $14, and I know it's not exactly "expensive," but for the amount of pages that it had, I didn't think it was worth it.
  • This one is a book bag and the quote is just funny so I took a picture. But I don't really like the orange color, so I ended up not getting it.
  • This one! The front is on the left and the one on the right is the back part! It's $19, but it's just perfect! So I am thinking of going back to the store to get it (Christmas gift cards ftw!)

And here's the cutest one of all...
  • a puppy/book bookend! (Ignore the book display the store used) Unfortunately it was $49. hehehe.

that's all :)

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm one of those people that picked this book up simply because it had a cute looking picture of a dog. When I read the synopsis and found out it actually was about the dog in the picture, I was sold.

(really short and simple) Synopsis: Enzo is a dog. On the eve of his death, he tells the story of his human companions and the bond that he has and shares with them.

Review: This is one of the best I've read in 2009. It's such a unique thing to do to write a novel from the perspective of a dog. I liked it a lot! It was gut-wrenching, philosophical, funny, sad, and sweet all at the same time. But the best thing about it is how honest it is, talking about the similarities (and differences) between canines and humans. Add in the author's amazing job of making the situations and characters very realistic and also relat-able. And no, I don't think you need to be a dog lover exactly to love this book. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good novel to read.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

This is basically Jane Austen's classic combined with zombie horror. Odd? Definitely. But that was what made me read this book. The freakish combination was just simply hard to resist! Unfortunately, I am sad to say this was just not worth it! Read it if you want out of curiousity, but please do not waste money on it.

The book is meant not to make fun of the classic but to actually just add some sort of humor to it. There are macabre humor, but these moments just get lost because of the rest of the not-so-funny attempts of the author. The zombie idea is generally funny, but there were some elements in the story that were just plain silly and pointless!


I applaud the idea and sure, I guess you could say it was slightly entertaining, but it was just not entertaining enough for me to recommend it to others.

The Last Song

I think it's safe to say I have read every single book Nicholas Sparks have come up with. And for me, with Sparks, it's either a hit or a miss; never in between. With The Last Song, I'm pretty glad to say it's a hit.

Summary: Seventeen year old Veronica Miller's life was turned upside down when her parents divorced and separated, making her father move from New York City to North Carolina. Years later, she is still angry at the situation as well as at her parents. But mostly, she alienates herself from her father. Until one summer, her mother decides that it would be a good idea if she spends the summer with her father, who is living a peaceful life in a small beach town.
In this novel, you will find yourself reading about an unforgettable story of the many different sides and levels of love--from love between families to first romances, in a way that only Sparks can create.

Review: The novel is told in four different point of views by different characters. And each person brings a different side to the story that adds to its compelling plot. And like I said, The Last Song, is an absolute hit for me. I have to admit, I did predict what the ending was going to be already, though when I found out I was right, I wasn't disappointed by how it was put out nor did I think that it impacted me any less. Overall, this novel had the perfect mix of everything I like about reading a Sparks book; well-constructed, well-written, heartfelt, and believable.

**

I also saw the trailer for the movie adaptation and apparently, Miley Cyrus will be playing the main character. I hope it does it justice, because this story has a really deep and meaningful message, and I'd hate for it to get ruined. I have high hopes though! :)

Speaking of Sparks movies, Dear John is coming out this friday, I believe! I'm definitely going to watch it, and I'll most likely do a short movie review about it. Hope it's good!

Capturing Paris

Summary: Annie Reed and her husband for twenty-five years are living a seemingly-perfect life in the city of lights. But when things turn for the worse in her husband's career, and a mysterious, new woman enter their lives, suddenly, life in Paris may never be the same again.

Review: This is a simple book; a simple story with a simple ending. To me, the plot is overdone: characters suffering from mid-life crisis situations in a beautiful city. But I didn't think it was a bad read.

Also, the title says it all. The author does, in fact, capture the very essence of the city in such a poetic manner. Everything was handled with grace and sensitivity. I thought that was the best thing about this book.

Would I recommend it? Probably not. But if you like to get the idea of the wonderful city, read it for that reason. I know that was mine.

My Sister's Keeper


I have always had mixed feelings about this one. And I have to admit, this is a bit harder to write a review for. I even have a hard time answering anyone who asks me if they should read this book or not. I usually can't give a straight answer right away.

I guess you could say my opinions go both ways. I liked it and did not like it at the same time. There were parts I loved, and others, I didn't so much. First, I'd like to say that My Sister's Keeper actually does have an interesting plot. And overall, it simply has a good story. It's inspiring, heartfelt, thought-provoking, and very believable. Backed up with memorable characters and the author's ability to make you empathize with them and their situations, I thought it was a good read.

**slight spoilers**

However, and this is a big however, I really wished Jodi Picoult stopped writing and finished the book about 20 pages before the actual ending. That was the one part I did not like at all, which goes back to a friend's question, "Should I read it?" And as bad as I may feel about it, I tell them not to.

It's not that it was bad. It was just very disappointing to have that kind of good build up in the plot and character development, and be let down in the end. So if you prefer a "happier" ending, please go see the movie instead.

**end spoilers**

Overall, I sort of liked the book, but was unfortunately, left feeling a bit disappointed.

And just to put it out there, I did like the movie better than the actual novel itself. Sorry.

Books 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

These are the books I've read so far this year. Their genres range, but almost all are fiction. I do read about 10 children books a week, every week, as it is needed when I tutor kindergarten-third grade students. However, they are not included in this list.


If there is no link on the titles, I haven't written a review yet, but will get to them as soon as possible :)

1. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

2. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

3. Nightlight by The Harvard Lampoon (A Twilight Parody)

4. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll

5. Alone by Lisa Gardner

6. The Butterfly House by Marcia Preston

7. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

8. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

9. The Hours by Michael Cunningham

10. Good Grief by Lolly Winston

11. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

12. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

13. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

14. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

15. What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

16. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

17. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

18. About A Boy by Nick Hornby

19. Still Alice by Lisa Genova

20. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

21. Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston

22. Willow by Julia Hoban

23. The Midnight Disease by Alice W. Flaherty

24. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

25. Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

26. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

27. Going Bovine by Libba Bray

28. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

29. Life in the Fat Lane by Cherie Bennett

30. Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

31. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

32. Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

33. I Am An Emotional Creature by Eve Ensler

34. Wake by Lisa Mcmann

35. Oxygen by Carol Cassella

36. Buying Time by Pamela Samuels Young


What This Blog is About:
Random Ramblings is a 'book blog' -- a place where I talk about the books that I devour and where I also post the reviews that I write about them. However, I do talk pretty much about anything that captures my interest. Mostly, this blog surrounds anything that is related to the world of literature -- whether it'd be talking, reading, or writing about it.

About me:
I'm Jillian, and I really am a bookworm. I've always been, ever since I learned how to be one.
Another love of mine aside from reading? Writing. It has always been my main passion.
Right now, I am in school to become a Registered Nurse. Part time, I work as an English and writing tutor for kids with cerebral palsy. I love my job -- these amazing kids inspire me and teach me something new, every single day.

My Ultimate Dream and Goal:
To be able to get my work published. Most will agree with me, it's not about the money. To see a book that I wrote on someone else's bookshelf, will be more than enough.

I love: strawberries, the color pink, city life, music, broadway, vintage things, casual dresses, flats, travel, swimming, coffee, tea, pretty flowers, and bows. I love Christmas, family, friends, and our almost 2-year-old Maltese named Kobe. I am also very fond of animals and I might just be a secret animal rights activist -- in a not so scary, crazy, and over the top way.

I hate (dislike): squirrels (they are scary!), animal cruelty, humidity, too much make-up, book creases and folds, my small book case, and judgmental people.

My annual reading goal: To read 100 books a year.
The reason why I set this goal for myself is not about the quantity. What's important to me is the quality of the books that I read. Through them, I am able to learn a lot of different things that I am able to apply in my daily life, and by achieving this personal goal of mine, I know I am growing.

What I Read:
Everything! Seriously. It doesn't matter what genre it belongs to. If it sounds good, I'll read it. Books I read usually belong to: contemporary fiction, YA, classics, thriller, historical fiction. Like I said though, I am open to anything.

Contact Through E-mail:
randomramblings2010@gmail.com

Books 2009

These are the books I’ve read and reviewed in 2009.

1. Dying Young by Marti Leimbach

2. My Best Friend's Girl by Dorothy Koomson

3. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

4. The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips

5. Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

6. The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

7. The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue

8. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson

10. Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

11. The Fan Maker’s Inquisition by Rikki Ducornet

12. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

13. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

14. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

15. Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

16. Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson

17. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

18. Breaking her Fall by Stephen Goodwin

19. Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

20. The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials book2) by Philip Pullman

21. The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials book3) by Philip Pullman

22. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

23. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

24. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

25. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

26. Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel

27. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

28. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

29. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stiegg Larsson

30. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

31. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

32. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

33. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stiegg Larsson

34. L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad

35. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

36. Shanghai Girls by Lisa Lee

37. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

38. My Life in France by Julia Child

39. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

40. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon

41. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

42. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

43. Capturing Paris by Katharine Davis

44. The Night Villa by Carol Goodman

45. The Rope Walk by Carrie Brown

46. The Keepsake by Kirsty Gunn

47. What Matters Most by Nicole Bokat

48. Seizure by Robin Cook

49. The Crimson Portrait by Jody Shields

50. Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot

51. Catching Fire (Hunger Games sequel) by Suzanne Collins.

52. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

53. Getting the Girl by Marcus Zusak

54. I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak

55. When my name was Keoko by Linda Sue Park

56. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

57. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

58. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

59. City of Thieves by David Benioff

60. The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales

61. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

62. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

63. Getting the Girl by Marcus Zusak

64. The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty

65. The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi

66. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

67. Lessons from a Dead Girl by Joe Knowles

68. Deadline by Chris Crutcher

69. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

70. Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Mark Zusak

71. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

72. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

73. Under the Dome by Stephen King

75. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

75. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

76. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

77. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

78. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

79. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

80. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters

81. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

82. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindgvist

83. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Books I've Read and Reviewed in 2008 and 2009

In 2008:

1. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

2. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

3. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

4. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

5. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

6. Tess Gerrtisen's mystery/thriller novels
  • The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner, Body Double, Vanish, The Mephisto Club, The Keepsake
15. The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

16. Life Support by Tess Gerritsen

17. Watermelon by Marian Keyes

18. Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfield

22. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

23. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

24. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

25. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

26. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

27. The Great Mortality by John Kelly

28. The Gathering by Anne Enright

29. After You'd Gone by Maggie O' Farrell

30. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O' Farrell

31. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

32. Marley and Me by John Grogan

33. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

34. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

35. Coma by Robin Cook

36. Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand

37. Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

38. The Shack by William P. Young

39. Can you keep a secret by Sophie Kinsella

40. Lucky by Alice Sebold

41. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

42. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

43. Atonement by Ian McEwan

44. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

45. The Guersney Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

46. Peony in Love by Lisa See

47. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

48. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

49. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

50. For One More Day by Mitch Albom

51. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

52. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

53. The Pact by Jodi Picoult

54. Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

55. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

56. The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond


In 2009:

1. Dying Young by Marti Leimbach

2. My Best Friend's Girl by Dorothy Koomson

3. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

4. The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips

5. Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

6. The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

7. The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue

8. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson

10. Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

11. The Fan Maker’s Inquisition by Rikki Ducornet

12. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

13. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

14. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

15. Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

16. Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson

17. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

18. Breaking her Fall by Stephen Goodwin

19. Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

20. The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials book2) by Philip Pullman

21. The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials book3) by Philip Pullman

22. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

23. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

24. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

25. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

26. Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel

27. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

28. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

29. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stiegg Larsson

30. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

31. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

32. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

33. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stiegg Larsson

34. L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad

35. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

36. Shanghai Girls by Lisa Lee

37. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

38. My Life in France by Julia Child

39. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

40. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon

41. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

42. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

43. Capturing Paris by Katharine Davis

44. The Night Villa by Carol Goodman

45. The Rope Walk by Carrie Brown

46. The Keepsake by Kirsty Gunn

47. What Matters Most by Nicole Bokat

48. Seizure by Robin Cook

49. The Crimson Portrait by Jody Shields

50. Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot

51. Catching Fire (Hunger Games sequel) by Suzanne Collins.

52. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

53. Getting the Girl by Marcus Zusak

54. I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak

55. When my name was Keoko by Linda Sue Park

56. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

57. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

58. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

59. City of Thieves by David Benioff

60. The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales

61. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

62. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

63. Getting the Girl by Marcus Zusak

64. The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty

65. The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi

66. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

67. Lessons from a Dead Girl by Joe Knowles

68. Deadline by Chris Crutcher

69. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

70. Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Mark Zusak

71. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

72. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

73. Under the Dome by Stephen King

75. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

75. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

76. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

77. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

78. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

79. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

80. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters

81. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

82. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindgvist

83. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Getting the Girl

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Summary: Getting the Girl centers around the life of Cameron Wolfe and his desire to get a girl. Not just any girl, but “the” girl.

Review: Reading that summary, it might seem like this novel is just a shallow story about a boy wanting a girl, for his sake. But that’s not at all what this book is. It is about getting the girl, but not at all in any malicious way. Narrated by Cameron Wolfe himself, he talks about his coming of age story, when he doesn’t only grow up to be the person he wants to be, but to be someone he never knew he could be.

I have to note that because Marcus Zusak is the author, it is somehow already expected that it will have good writing. And it does, the same way his other book, The Book Thief, has. This also has the same poetic style, with just the perfect balance of everything. At times it was funny and heartbreaking. But in the end, though unclear or ambiguous, was truly inspiring.

I recommend this, mostly to young adults. But really, anyone who appreciates a good, simple story with great writing should pick this one up and try it out.

Shutter Island

Shutter Island has everything nightmares are made of. There’s fear, psychological suspense, mystery, and paranoia. An unpredictable, mysterious psychological “horror” story at its finest.

Trailers have already come out for this movie showing in 2010 starring Leonardo di Caprio. First of all, as a side comment, I really believe he can pull the protagonist’s role. But on to the book review..

Summary: Shutter Island is a story set at an infamous hospital for the criminally insane. When a patient escapes the facility, investigators Teddy Daniels and his partner, Chuck Aule, are called in to the scene. Faced with confusing uncertainty and unanswered questions, they work their way to solve one of their most difficult cases to date.

Review: If you have read Lehane’s other book, The Mystic River, or watched the movie version starring Brad Pitt, and loved it as much as I did, I will tell you that Shutter Island is completely different from that one. Though the same in level of good writing, interesting plot, and unpredictable twists, they are completely different in style. Shutter Island is a psychological thriller. And a frightening one at that.

The main plot and the characters are fully developed. The dialogues were also entertaining, never boring or dull. The twists in almost every chapter in the book just creates havoc in your mind. The clues are there, but you’ll never see them. The ending… I have to say is one of the best unguessable endings I’ve read in a while.

So if you want a fast read that is capable of possibly making your hairs stand or give you chills, then this is the one for you. I recommend it.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 5 stars

Review: Don’t let the fact that this book has close to 700 pages scare you off, because if you do, you will miss out on a really good old-fashioned, mysterious story filled with memorable and believable characters.

Before I continue with the praising, I do have to say the biggest challenge with this one would be the constant shift to the past, present, and in between. The transitions were not as smooth as I would have liked them to be, that at times the decade jumping got confusing. However, it was something that I learned to be accustomed to. So despite this, I’d still give it five stars and would still definitely recommend this book!

Now to continue on with the praising: I thought the stories intertwined well and the subtle clues were pretty clever. It was definitely intriguing, suspenseful, original, and was extremely well-written. The setting I thought was wonderful, and the right amount of romance, mystery, Gothic-like vibe, and family stories were all nice touches. The ending, as well, was worth the long read, as it was unfolded in such a wonderful and compelling fashion.

Definitely one of the BEST books with great writing that I’ve read this year. The cover looks nice too, just in case you’re thinking of getting it. :)

Invisible Monsters

If you have read previous books or are familiar with Chuck Palahniuk’s twisted mind and way of writing, then you will enjoy this one. Though nothing in comparison to Fight Club (which is undoubtedly a cult classic to begin with, in my opinion), this book will serve just the right dosage of twisted literature. Now as for my own synopsis of the book, I do have to remind you that this is, after all a Palahniuk book, and to write summaries of his works is similar to describing a freak show–broadway musical style. You just have to be there to get it!

Synopsis: This tells the story of a former gorgeous fashion model, Shannon McFarland, whose face has been horribly disfigured while driving on the freeway, by a mysterious drive-by shooting. This doesn’t just leave her without a jaw, but found herself left by her career and her boyfriend. Suddenly, she realizes, she is not in any way, beautiful anymore. Instead, to the world, she has become invisible.

Review: This is one of those books that you either you get it or you don’t, like it or you don’t. And if I can summarize it in one sentence, I would say that this is a simple story of people wanting to be someone else that they’re not. But again, knowing who wrote this novel, you would know it would never settle with “simplicity.” Invisible Monsters like the narrator mentioned, is NOT a linear story. It is a mix of different fragments that you yourself, as the reader, have to piece together.

All in all, it was an interesting read. If you are a fan of the author, try this one out. If you have not read any of his books before, start with Fight Club, Choke, and maybe even Lullaby. Don’t get me wrong, like I said, it was interesting. Grotesque, but entertaining. All I can say though is that, if there was one thing you can count on, whenever you read any of the author’s works, is that it will never be ordinary and predictable.

Thirteen Reasons Why

Synopsis: Clay Jensen recieves a package on his front porch. But the odd thing was that there was no return address. Curious, he opens the box and found himself looking at a collection of casette tapes, each marked with different titles. Excited, he rushed to listen to the tapes. What he hears is the story of the girl named Hannah Baker–a girl he has had a crush on for as long as he can remember. Hannah Baker, the girl who committed suicide, telling her side of the story, of thirteen reasons why she did what she did.

Review: I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but I’ll go straight to the point with this one. I loved this book, and I definitely recommend it. Though technically a young adult book, I have to say that I think any reader of any age would appreciate this story. It was honest, thought-provoking, and just simply engrossing.

I honestly don’t think that I can write a review and do it justice, as I will sound like a broken record, telling you to grab the book and read it as soon as you can.

If you’re like me, you sometimes get attached to the characters and their stories if the story is really good, and I know I may sound like a total cliche when I say this, but I just did not want to put the book down. In truth, it was because I was just drawn to it, but it was also because I did not want it to end.

I won’t write a long review for this one, but I must emphasize that this is a MUST READ, no matter how old you are.