a challenge for you this June!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Post everyday.


You read that right.

And no, I'm not going crazy.

I really want to do it!

I know some of you that already do that, and I have to applaud for you being undercover superwomen (and men). But to mere mortals like me, it is so hard to do a post every day, every night, so this challenge should be rather amusing and interesting. But if I'm going to be honest, I am actually excited about this.

So... if you would like to join me with this ridiculousness, let me know down on the comments below. And... GOOD LUCK!

Tighter by Adele Griffin

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars

I have been wanting to read this book since I first saw its eerie cover. And after hearing from other readers that it is sort of a "re-telling" of Henry James' The Turn on the Screw, I was even more excited to dig into this book. I have to say, while it does a remarkable job complimenting The Turn on the Screw, the author, Adele Griffin, still managed to make the story her own. And the way she does this, is flawless.

She builds and develops all of the characters well, and the plot falls right where it should be. It was also nicely paced, and I never felt like it was too slow or boring. I have actually never even read anything from Adele Griffin before, but having read Tighter, I'm certain I have to change that immediately.

I do have to admit though, there were a few misses for me - like some characters that I didn't necessarily care for - and the fact that I thought the conclusion felt slightly rushed and 'all of a sudden' for me. However, I can not give it less than 4 stars simply for the fact that I was very entertained by this novel. I enjoyed reading it, and really appreciate the way the plot was overall told. And even though I mentioned I felt like the conclusion was slightly rushed, I still found it -for lack of a better explanation - really, really cool. So overall, I thought Tighter was a good read. It was very unexpected and eerie. It has an intriguing plot line and interesting characters, is fast paced, offers great settings, has unpredictable twists and turns, and features excellent and effortless writing. I would recommend this to fans and readers of contemporary YA who wants a bit of mystery added in. 4 stars!

Disclaimer: Thank you to Random House for providing me the copy of this book.
This review is honest and in no way influenced by anything but my own thoughts, feelings, and opinions on the book.

two book haul memes in one!

This week, I'm doing two book haul memes! The usual, In My Mailbox, from Kristi from The Story Siren, where we feature books we received this week. And a new one I want to do more often - Bargan Book Bonanza from Baja Greenawalt's Cozy Book Nook, where we feature bargain books!

Birthday gifts from friends:
  • Where She Went by Gayle Forman
  • The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
Bargain books:
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - $3 - BRAND NEW
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker - $3 - BRAND NEW
  • Villette by Charlotte Bronte - which I have never even read! - $4 BRAND NEW
  • Watchers by Dean Koontz - thanks to Delphyne for the recommendation - $3
  • Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky by Chris Greenhalgh - $2
  • The Borrowers by Mary Norton - $1
What did you all get this week? Comment below or link it!

blogging tips: things I personally learned

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Today's topic for Armchair BEA - Blogging about Blogging.

Over the 17 months that I have been blogging here, I have had my fair share of different experiences; thankfully, most of them have been amazing but I can't deny that there have been a few mistakes and failures here and there. The good thing is that I have learned tons from book blogging itself - from reading books, reviewing them, and interacting with other book bloggers. Here are a couple of tips that I think are crucial to blogging.

1. Interaction!! It is so very important to reply back to your commenters, and post comments on other blogs as well. There's nothing worse than being an unapproachable book blogger - someone that never replies or interact with other bloggers. It's just not nice, to put it simply. And I know, it's hard to keep up with comments. I have this problem too, believe me! But I've realized that one of the best things about blogging is really the interaction with other readers and book lovers. And trust me, it pays off in the end. For both parties. You not only gain consistent 'followers' and comments, but sometimes, you gain blogger friends too.

2. Do what you want with your blog! Don't be afraid to experiment. Don't be scared to venture out in other genres. Don't be nervous about trying out a different layout or a different theme - Just be careful with changing URLs. Make sure you know how to do it 100% ;) - All I'm saying is, this is your blog. Your domain. Your place. Your true followers will continue to be your readers even with all the changes.

3. Don't let others tell you that you can't do something. Now it is extremely important to listen to others' suggestions, opinions, and constructive criticisms. I have improved my blog a lot through others' help, but what I'm trying to say here is - don't let others limit what you want to do. There will be people criticizing you for the sole reason of putting you down; saying that it's wrong to write personal posts, or post non book related topics. People will constantly nitpick at these kinds of things. Just say no. Like I said on my second tip, this is your blog! As long as you're not hurting, offending, or being destructive to anyone, and it's to ultimately benefit your blog, you can do whatever you want!

4. It's okay to take breaks. Blogging is supposed to be fun. For me, it's a form of stress-relief. So there's nothing worse than getting stressed out over blogging! It is not fun and so not convenient! You don't need additional worries and stress - so really, don't worry about it too much. If you want to take a brief hiatus, go ahead. You would probably even gain a new and better perspective on blogging when you come back.

5. Work hard, but have fun. Total cliche, but this is probably what you need to learn first before anything else. Blogging does take a huge amount of time and a lot of effort. Posting good content is not always easy! So if you want to have a 'good' blog, you do have to work hard. But while doing this, you have to remember - this is not supposed to be a "job." This is supposed to be fun. Really, when you start having fun posting, and interacting with others, it's when the blogging experience is at its best.


If you have any blogging advice or tips, let me know as a comment. I would love to hear from you!

armchairBEA: blogs I always have to read.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Today on Armchair BEA, it's all about nurturing relationships - relationships we have developed with authors, publishers, and of course, other book lovers. I decided to do this post, linking the blogs I always, always have to visit. I love their posts, and even though I fail at commenting sometimes (sorry!) the fact is, I always read what they have to say. Here are some of them, in alphabetical order.

  • A Literary Odyssey - She always inspires me to pick up a Classic, or re-read one. Seriously, without fail. I also like the way she reviews the books she reads - she makes it very personal and relate-able not only for herself but for her blog followers as well.
  • a thousand Books with Quotes - If you like quotes, you will love her blog. She picks the most perfect ones from the books that she reads - and these quotes truly convey what the stories are all about. I am always getting new ideas for new reads through her as well. Oh and she is my Aunt - clearly books run in the family!
  • Baja Greenawalt's Cozy Book Nook - I love all the ladies in this cozy book nook! They are all so very "inspiringly bookish" that I just can't help but drop by their charming blog daily. I just find them to be one of the best to have conversations with, especially Lesa, who I have followed - and has been a follower here - pretty much since Day 1!
  • the bookworm - Love her reviews and taste in books! She features everything from SciFi to Romance to the Classics to poetry, that I believe would suit everyone. And her 'approachable' and genuine personality makes the blog visit even more worthwhile than it already is.
  • Fantasy4eva - Aly's reviews are epic. Haha. I read them all. They're long, but every word she says counts, let me tell you that! She is so meticulous and observant, and her blog post ideas are creative. She also replies to everyone, comments on everyone's blogs, and really, is just very sweet.
  • Imagination in Focus - One of the very first blogs I've followed. She reviews YA/MG and like Aly from Fantasy4Eva, is also very meticulous. Her reviews are detailed, and all her thoughts are explained very well. But one of my favorite things about her and her posts is the honesty. She will tell it like it is, while still being respectful and tactful, and I always respect someone who can balance both.
  • J'adore Happy Endings - Favorite YA International blogger? Definitely. Her reviews are also never biased - she can tell it straight-up if she doesn't like a book. She won't sugar coat it! Plus, love her simple, cute layout. And the blogger behind the blog, Nina, is also such a sweet girl. You'll love to read her reviews.
  • Shredded Cheddar - What can I say? I love an honest, straight-forward blogger that I can have countless bookish conversations with. Everytime I read a post from her, to be honest, I always end up going, "Hmmm. Not quite sure what to say." Haha. She's always challenging me to think outside my comfort zone, which I especially appreciate as well. Again, she's been one of my blogger friends here and love it when she comments - they're conversational and they're more than just your usual, "GREAT REVIEW." ;)
  • Life After Jane - A YA blogger who reads and talks about other genres as well, like the Classics and Romance. I really enjoy her blog and her posts, especially her spunky personality that shows in them. She also offers interesting input that I wouldn't really think of, so it's nice to get to know somebody who doesn't necessarily think similarly as I do. Love her blog, the blogger, and the blog name itself!
  • ~*Loves to Read*~ - Great, honest reviews and super sweet blogger! You should visit her blog if you like YA books. She's one of my favorite YA bloggers for sure.
  • The Avid Reader's Musings - Charming blog posts - from her reviews, photo posts, and book discussions. I always want to have bookish conversations with her. She just has this approach that makes you feel like you're friends, if that makes sense. Visit her blog!
  • The New Dork Review of Books - This guy always provides interesting input on various book and reading-related topics. Whether or not I agree with his opinions, I always respect him for being able to tell it like it is, without sugarcoating anything for anybody.
  • The Story Siren - the goddess of Young Adult blogging. Need I say more?? I don't think people realize how much work and effort she has put into her blog. I think her accomplishments as a blogger shows how hardworking and helpful she is to everyone. But seriously, if you want to find out about YA books, go here.
  • Loving Books - My favorite thing about her blog are her bookish discussions. I tend to always agree with her about her opinion, and it's always nice to find someone who almost has the same ideas as you! Haha. I just feel like I can relate to her a lot! You should definitely visit her blog.
  • My Girl Friday - Super awesome blogger! She has eclectic taste in books, movies, music, and yeah... she loves fashion. She even does book-fashion cross overs, which to me, is a perfect combination. You need to check out her Polyvore posts! Simply put, it's just fun to be on her blog. It's cute, whimsical, and unique.
  • Tales of Whimsy - I think everyone can agree with me. Juju from Tales of Whimsy wins the best commenter award. Haha. Well at least she always comments on almost every single post I have. Sometimes when nobody else reads my posts, she still does. I appreciate it so much, Juju! And her blog... her layout, her reviews, her random "Yakety-Yaks..." I just love her blog. I visit it regularly, and you should too.
  • third-storey window - Beautiful writer. Eloquent. Poetic. I ADORE HER POSTS so much. I'm always left inspired by her writing.
  • Watcha Readin' Books?: A Teacher/Learner's Blog - Really like her eclectic taste in books as well. She reads everything, and I always like it when I see different reviews and discussions about books coming from many different genres. Not everyone does that, so when a blogger does, it's exciting for me! She definitely does offer great input too - check her out!


Of course, there are so many other blogs out there that I love and enjoy visiting too. I can't possibly name them all, because they won't fit. Some examples... Mindful Musings, i swim for oceans, The Perpetual Page-Turner, 21 Pages, Bewitched Bookworms, Books out of the Bookshelves, Consumed by Books, Dreaming of Books, Lily's Bookshelf... gah so many! If you have a favorite blogger, please link them down below!


My birthday celebration was great!

I did have work, if you could even call it work! My co-workers and the students threw a little mini party for me, complete with cupcakes and lemonade! The kids were so sweet - each made their own handmade birthday cards. Adorable.

After work, I had dinner with the family and my boyfriend. Went to the bookstore right after, and went home to find over 100 wall posts on Facebook full of birthday greetings. And then of course I saw all your comments here on the blog as well as on Twitter! Some even sent me e-mails and I really appreciate your thoughts! It's so great to come home to all of the nice messages, so thank you!

P.S. - Some of you asked; I did get a couple of books as gifts, from different people. Apparently, they all know me too well.

Armchair BEA: interview with the Witch of Creation

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My thing I love the most about Armchair BEA is the opportunity that we get to meet other book bloggers and see their blogs that we wouldn't have discovered otherwise. One perfect example of that would be when I was assigned to interview Usagi, also known as "the Witch of Creation," from Birth of a New Witch. I was really excited to see her blog and learn more about her eclectic taste in books! She sure is a creative person, and I was happy to have met her through Armchair BEA.


1. First thing I always ask bloggers; why did you start blogging about books in the first place?

My site originally started out is an archive for my creative fiction that I know will probably not end up being used in my book, and I figured that since I did the occasional review that I might as well use it for that as well when the muse wasn't around. Thus, my blogging for books began and I combined the two sites into one.

2. So what does reading mean to you?

Everything. I've been reading since age 3, and I haven't stopped since then. Since I was bullied a lot as a kid (and a lot of the time, without me even knowing it), it was always a way for me to escape into worlds and make friends that I couldn't find here in this reality.

3. Can you give me some titles of books you always find yourself recommending to other readers?

Oh, there are so many! Seriously. I think my top five include my mentor, Francesca Lia Block's “Dangerous Angels” (the omnibus edition of her “Weetzie Bat” books – it literally changed the way I saw the world when I read it at age 12!), “Brave New World” (which started my love of dystopian fiction at age 14), Murakami Haruki's “Kafka on the Shore” (Just. Plain. Amazing.),
Nabokov's “Lolita”, and finally, Laurie Anderson's “Wintergirls” (not recommended with those uncomfortable and/or triggered by self-harm).

4. You are to be stranded on a deserted island. Pick 5 fictional characters (from books or movies) you would like to accompany you.

Again, with the making me choose. I'd pick Puck from Julie Kagawa's “Iron Fey” series, Witch Baby from Francesca Lia Block's “Dangerous Angels”, Touwa Erio from “Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko” (lol aliens), Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher's “Harry Dresden Files” series, and Cersei Lannister from George R.R. Martin's “A Song of Ice & Fire/Game of Thrones” cycle. I'd especially love to see the interaction between Cersei and Puck. I'd pay anything to see that!

5. If you could read ONE book your entire life, what would it be?

Eep. Again, so hard. Um. Probably John Ajvide Lindqvist's “Let the Right One In/Let Me In” - I have literally read it somewhere near ten times and I still marvel at the things I discover that in which each previous reading I didn't have/find before.

6. If you could pick ONE book that you wish you wrote yourself, what book would that be?

Believe it or not, Milton's “Paradise Lost”. Yeah, I'm kind of a sucker for the classics that way. Either that or Dickens' “A Christmas Carol”. I just love me some Scrooge.

7. Do you have any funny reading habits, or pet peeves about books or reading?

Funny reading habits and pet peeves...hmm. I really cannot stand a lot of traditional YA heterosexual romance (that sounds awful of me to say, but it's true), mostly because it all follows the same plot of teenagers pining for one another with no other plot than that. I love my fiction with bite to it, so anything controversial or untraditional is most definitely going to catch my eye when reading. Usually because the plot is more complicated than girl meets and then chases boy (or vice versa). As for habits, I do most of my reading (a lot with most of my activities) in bed or on public transport. It relaxes me before I sleep, and it also relaxes me while in public, dumbing down the sensory input that often overloads my system and sets off all of my autism alarms, which causes panic attacks in turn.

8. Where is your favorite place to read? What would be your "dream" place to read at?

Aside from bed and public transport, I love reading at coffee shops and cafes. Oh! And at Barnes and Noble. I love curling up in chairs and reading for hours on end. I got kicked out at closing time at quite a few cafes/coffeehouses in Tokyo because I was there for hours and I was the last person there.

9. What were the books you grew up with?

My mother encouraged a lot of early reading with me, so I grew up with a lot of traditional kids' books (I had a particular obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder at some point), but I also read a lot of “new” fiction at the time – particularly Anne Rice's vampire series/spin-offs. I also got called on the carpet at school and scolded for my inappropriate reading choices in middle school since I was the only kid reading a lot of Dickens and Nabokov and no one else was. My mother usually just told them that it was lucky for them that I was reading at all, and as long as I wasn't causing any trouble, to shut their traps. But you know, in a nicer way.

10. On your 'about me' on your blog, you said one of the things you enjoy is learning new languages. What is your favorite language of all time, if you could pick one?

Outside of English, it's Japanese, hands down. There are so many complex ideas that just can't be translated over into other languages but that explain a lot of feelings/ideas that I have within me. I could give you quite a few examples, but again, they don't translate over very well, so it would be a bit moot unless you speak the language.

11. So what does your nickname, "the Witch of Creation" mean?

It's taken from one of my favorite visual novels of all time, “Umineko no Naku Koro ni (When the Seagulls Cry)” - the name that the Golden Witch Beatrice gives to the young Ushiromiya Maria upon making her a witch. Maria has the power to create anything and everything because she has such a rich imagination (and is possibly autistic, but that's up to interpretation), so it makes her almost god-like in her abilities, far surpassing any other witch in the story (including Bernkastel, Witch of Miracles, and Lambdadelta, Witch of Certainty). I've been told my imagination is pretty wild, so thus, I adopted the nickname on the blog.

12. Last but not the least, do you plan to ever go to Book Expo America?

It's definitely on my bucket list, yeah. But I need a more steady job/income before I can even think of going to BEA, and freelance isn't paying too well right now, so I'm content to do the armchair deal until I can actually go there in person.


Well, thanks to her, I definitely have added a couple of book titles on my TBR list! Haha. Go ahead and check her out and her blog as well! And follow her on Twitter.

it takes a long time to grow young.

Today, I become a year older!

I just want to say that if you're reading this, thanks for caring enough to read a post that is not related to books at all. Haha. I have posted a couple of those kinds of posts and so thanks for sticking with me and the blog for a long while now!

Aside from that, I wish you have a great day today; I know I will :) I know some of you are at BEA so enjoy for me! And as for the rest of you who aren't at the Book Expo, let me know what you're doing today and everything and also what you're currently reading. I would love to hear from you as always.

Happy reading! Happy Tuesday, Happy May 24th! and thank you <3
P.S. - tweet tweet tweet tweet

Armchair BEA: who am I and whatnot.

Monday, May 23, 2011

If you have never been here before and have only come across my little blog from Armchair BEA, then welcome and thanks so much for dropping by! Today's supposed to be all about introducing yourself and your blog, so hello!

This blog, Random Ramblings, is full of random bookish things; reviews, discussions, random musings, random thoughts, rants, raves, and every once in a while, some personal thoughts as well. I started book blogging January of 2010, and have fallen in love with it ever since.

I first discovered what Book Expo America was all about at that time, but didn't get to go last year. I really swore to myself I'd go this year, but things just didn't go as planned.

I did however attend the Armchair BEA and found it really enjoyable. So this year, I'm excited to meet more book bloggers, and more readers.

I would love to visit your blogs too so go ahead and link below especially if you're part of the Armchair BEA this year. We could also always talk on Twitter! Enjoy this year's virtual Book Expo, and have fun! Happy Reading!

I wish I was in New York right now.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably all know about the biggest publishing event that is Book Expo America. Last year, I just found out about this great event when I first joined book blogging so I didn't get to go. But I promised myself that I was going to attend in 2011. It would be perfect since it would be my birthday next week too.

So about two months ago, I registered as non-editorial press, and asked for days off from work. I was so set on going. Unfortunately, life happens. And so now, I can't go. This is so disappointing to me, but like all other disappointing times, we all just accept it and move on.

So I wish everyone who's going to BEA a very safe, fun, and fulfilling trip! I wish I could meet some of you personally, but maybe next year! ;)

And if you would like to join in BEA-related festivities but can't go to NYC like the rest of us, do join Armchair BEA.

Happy Sunday!!

in my mailbox.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme from Kristi from The Story Siren where we get to feature books that we have gotten this week.

For review:
  • Tighter by Adele Griffin - thanks to Random House

Bought used/bargain books:
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin - so excited to get this! It is BRAND NEW, for only $3!
  • 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson
  • Fairest by Gail Carson Levin

What books did you all get this week?? Link up. And let me know if you have read or are planning to read anything that I got this week. And as always, happy reading!

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Genre: Fairy tale re-telling
Rating: 4.5 stars

Review:This was a lovely fairy tale re-telling for sure! I immediately fell in love with the story of Beauty and the Beast all over again. This is mainly because the author, Robin McKinley, was able to re-create an old, familiar tale with such respect and honesty while still being able to add her own personal touches to make it his own. One example of this would be what she did with Beauty's characterization. Her personality and ways were so on-point; I honestly would not change a thing the author did while re-creating her as a character.

Her prose, also, was quite fluid and flowed effortlessly. I just wanted to read her writing all day and all night, never wanting to stop. I just knew I wouldn't get bored. I also loved the fact that it was perfectly paced - fast enough not to get bored, but slow enough for the readers to appreciate what's going on.

However, there were a few misses for me. At times, I felt as if the author followed too closely to the original tale of Beauty and the Beast. I understand that this is a re-telling and not a "re-hashing," but I sort of expected some kind of freshness and newness to it. I felt like I was reading the short tale instead, all over again, and didn't feel like I was getting anything new from this version.
I also have to say that while Beauty's characterization was great, I thought the Beast's was lacking a bit. I felt like the story went by too quickly - too fast that as a reader, I wasn't able to fully see why we should fall in love with him.

Overall though, despite the minor flaws, I still enjoyed this book a lot. It was such a nice change to read something like this - I literally felt like I was a kid again, reading a classic fairy tale. And just for that, I have to say what McKinley did was superb. After all, at the end of the day, it's the reading experience that truly counts the most.

Thanks to Allie and La Coccinelle for recommending this to me.

where did the bookstores go?

Friday, May 20, 2011

I've talked about this troubling issue a couple of weeks ago - that there are no longer any bookstores near where I live. The closest ones to me (and there's only two of them remaining) are about an hour drive away - definitely not a place I could just visit randomly.

Now I don't even buy books. I rarely do. But to be honest, what I seek and love about bookstores is the experience itself -- actually going in the shops, feeling somehow comforted by being surrounded by shelves and shelves of books. Sometimes, it's just nice being in a bookstore; I think everyone can agree with me - whether you're reading, just hanging out inside, killing time, window shopping, or actually doing some book buying.

I miss being able to do all those. It's bad enough now as it is, but what worries me is the possibility of not having any resources for books at all in the future. Libraries are also having trouble, and so this supports that worry even more. And to think that I live in a fairly big city with other surrounding areas with a huge population.

So now I wonder, is/are your area(s) having this problem too? What do you think about this "crisis?" How do you feel about the possibility of zero book resources in the future? Let me know what you think!

hop hop hop!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Welcome to my blog! If you came here from the Book Blogger Hop over at Crazy-for-Books and Follow Friday from Parajunkee's View, thanks for visiting! This is where I talk, rant, rave, and gush about all things, books!

This week, Jennifer asks, "If you were given the chance to spend one day in a fictional world (from a book), which book and would that place be?"
I wrote about my favorite and not-so-favorite fictional places here, but I think it's a tie between Rivendell (from LOTR) and Hogsmeade (from HP)!

And Parajunkee asks us to put down five quirky things about you.
1. I watch make-up tutorials from Youtube at night to make me sleepy.
2. I hate book creases and folds but don't mind dog-earing.
3. I like putting deli turkey in sweet potato mash.
4. I like to pretend to do some online shopping when I want some retail therapy. I put everything in my "shopping bag" but never actually check out.
5. I own 6 different copies of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - my favorite novel in the Classics genre. I still continue to collect more.

I would love to check your blog out as well, so please leave your link here if you can. Also, visit me on Twitter! Happy Friday, everyone!

rank the HP novels.

I think everybody knows by now; the Harry Potter series are my favorite books of all time. - how many times do you have to keep saying that, Jillian? LOL.
They were after all a huge part of my life growing up, and are pretty much what made me into the reader that I am now. But I do have to say that even though I love them all like crazy, I have ranked them from favorite to 'least' favorite in my head. Secretly, of course.


7 - The Chamber of Secrets - Don't get me wrong; I really enjoyed this one too, but of course, if I had to rank them in order of favorites, this would be the last simply for the reason that it was the "least" entertaining of them all. Also, I didn't find Ginny at all engaging for some reason at that time. I didn't think she was valuable or significant (LOL!) so it sort of made me wonder why it focused a lot on her too.

6- The Order of the Phoenix - To me, this felt more like a much-needed filler to provide the different back stories and character backgrounds. It also showed a lot of important foreshadowing, so I get that it is a huge part of the series. However, it just wasn't, shall we say, as charming as the rest of the books. (Also, I kind of hated Cho Chang!)

5 - The Goblet of Fire - There were so many awesome things going on here - The Yule Ball, the Tournament, the newly added characters, Cho Chang, Cedric Diggory, Victor Krum, Fleur Delacour... so exciting and incredibly entertaining novel! I was debating whether or not to put this before The Sorcerer's Stone because I truly enjoyed this one so much, but for the reason I'll state for #4, is why I put The Goblet of Fire in 5th place instead.

4 - The Sorcerer's Stone - This technically should be #1 by default, since it is the one that started it all. This was basically the reason that I fell in love with the series. It was the book that set the bar after all. And the discovery of a new series that had the potential to be epic was enough reason to really love this one.

3 - The Half-Blood Prince - Snape was definitely one of my favorite characters in the series. Without him, the entire series just wouldn't be the same. I would hate him, and then love him, and then hate him, and then like him... it was confusing, but it was fun. He was a very important part in the series, and The Half-Blood Prince truly allowed the readers to see that. I loved this book too because I thought it showcased the trio's growth and maturity, after everything that happened in The Order of the Phoenix.

2 - The Prisoner of Azkaban - Lupin. Sirius Black. The Marauder's Map. The beginning of Ron and Hermione's "bickering/hints of romance in the future," Hogsmeade. Pettigrew. Buckbeak. Time travel. The epic confrontation towards the end!
We also get to learn so much more of Harry's background and the Potters' history, plus this was the first book I enjoyed Hermione's character! Oh I really did enjoy this book so much! Anytime I crave for some HP reading in my life, I pick this one. It could be my #1 pick depending on my mood, really. Haha.

1 - Deathly Hallows - Rowling did a spectacular job satisfying every single Harry Potter fan out there with this perfect conclusion. Deathly Hallows answered every question I had, and showed me scenes and events that I wanted to see. As soon as I finished this book, I already knew this had to be hands down, my favorite book in the series, simply because it held so much meaning and value. It was emotional, exciting, entertaining, sad at times; it just was a great end of an amazing phenomenon.


Okay, your turn! Rank the HP books according to your most favorite-least favorite - if there was even such a thing as "least" favorite, haha. I loved them all, and it was pretty hard to rank them, but I think this is quite accurate. Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Genre: Fiction - science/fantasy, thriller
Rating: 5 stars

Review: Growing up, I was surrounded by dinosaurs. Dinosaur books, toys, figurines, inflatables, computer themed games... mainly because my brother was a huge dinosaur 'enthusiast'. He was only 5-6 or so and he had every single dinosaur name embedded in his head - literally every dinosaur from A-Z. So it was a given that I became somehow interested in them too. When I first saw the film adaptation of this novel as a kid, I was half terrified and half in love.

Years later, I finally managed to read the book by Michael Crichton. I have no idea why I waited this long, but I got to say my first reaction after finishing it was - WOW. It was awesome, awesome, awesome. And yes, better than the movie!

As a reader, I was so excited and entertained that I did not - would not - put the book down. I'd be up late at night reading this one, and couldn't stop.
As a reviewer, it was a dream for me to read. The story line was highly original; as original as any plot line can be. The story had a great mixture of science, action, drama, and adventure and I absolutely loved all these aspects equally. The writing - superb. The only thing that I can think of that might turn other readers off, even though I actually enjoyed those parts, were the detailed explanations of scientific and genetic technology.

Another great thing I loved is that even though we all know the story here is 100% impossible, it didn't seem like a nutcase, if that makes sense. It was still actually believable. That I have to say, is fiction at its best. The author, Crichton, has created a story that have lasted through the years since its publication, and that I believe will continue to astonish future readers as well. Having said that, I highly recommend this novel - definitely one of the best books I have ever read.

Recommendation of the Week: The Forgotten Garden

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Genre: General Fiction
When I Read It: 2009

Initial impression: What a beautiful cover! It was what initially attracted me to this novel. It felt a bit like Jane Austen-like, so I was sold. I also was very intrigued with its complex synopsis on the back cover.

Why I Loved It: It's a lovely story, to put it simply. The characters, plot line, and their development were flawless. And the overall feel of the writing was just great; it seemed like such a rich and classic tale - very reminiscent of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It did also have the same Gothic-like aspects from Jane Eyre, which I especially enjoyed as well.

Who would most likely like/love it: Any reader who enjoys a good story that seems to follow some aspects from the Classics and fairy tale re-tellings.

If you've read this book, let me know what you thought of it.
For my official review for this book, click here.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Monday, May 16, 2011

Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: I got this book for myself last year for my birthday, May 24, as a gift to myself. However, I didn't get to read it until the past week, and I have to say how happy I am I finally picked it up.

First of all, I really enjoyed the plot line. It's something I haven't heard of before, and it truly was interesting to read about. And the main characters were awesome, especially the main protagonist, Katsa. She is now officially part of the list of strong female characters that I love, along with Katniss, Hermione, and Annabeth Chase.
As for the writing, I thought it was pretty solid; it was entertaining and engaging, and the character and plot development were great. None seemed forced.

While there were very few instances that I thought were a bit anticlimactic, to be honest, I didn't even mind that much just because it was such an entertaining novel. I enjoyed it immensely, and had fun while reading it! I am also definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series, and as far as recommendations go, I highly suggest you check this one out. It's a really enjoyable story full of epic adventures, great action, and strong characters. If it sounds like it's something you'd enjoy, then read it! 4.5 stars!

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars

I have written a sort of first impressions post on this book, and have already stated how confused I was of it overall. Having finished the book, I can say now that what made this book downright confusing was 1) the lack of a specific timeline - it was a bunch of stories, legends, and tales told not in order and 2) the different names of the elves that I seem to have to remember. At times, I wasn't even sure who's who, and what the book was talking about anymore.

Despite this though, I have to say I did thoroughly enjoy learning from this novel. It was informative and highly interesting. I was hooked right from the start, despite it being sometimes confusing, and I just could not put it down.

However, it was just that. It was informative above all. And this aspect of The Silmarillion was what made me realize that this will never be the average "good book" to me. An average good book, meaning, that while I thought it was interesting, I didn't necessarily find it enjoyable, entertaining, or exciting. It simply did not have the same LOTR feel to it, which I was hoping for.
I also did not enjoy the writing as much - which I understand was partially Tolkien's son's work. I just thought it was overly descriptive for my liking. It truly gives off a history book feel to it, and at times, it was what made the book a bit painful to read. This is mainly why I can not give it 5 stars.

As a whole though, I have to say, I am completely amazed at the world Tolkien had created for himself and for his readers. I don't think there are words to describe a writer who is able to create such work! And really, just for that reason alone, I do highly recommend this to patient, LOTR fans. If you loved reading the series and would like to learn more about some of Middle Earth's extensive background, then I highly suggest you try this one out. Just try to read with an open-mind, with little to no expectations. Only then I think you can learn to appreciate its true, subtle beauty.

And if you would like to try out Tolkien's works for the first time, go ahead and dig into The Lord of the Rings series. I can not recommend them enough. And it's never too late to start reading them. I can almost (almost!) guarantee you would love it.

stress and other things.

2am and blogging. Not really sure why I'm writing this here, or at all for that matter, but to be honest, I'm just feeling so many stupid overwhelming things all at once! Just feeling stressed and gloomy as 'real life outside of the blogging world' is getting a bit too crazy for me.

I'm sure you've all somehow felt this way before. Feeling overwhelmed with everything you have to do, but not having enough hours during the day, not enough months in a year, to accomplish those important things. Feeling like time is running out. And then feeling like you've failed or getting left behind by everyone else who's moving forward when you haven't done what you're supposed to do in a timely manner. And then you're left there with multiple tasks piling up even more. You wonder, where do you even begin?

Ah. Forgive this dramatic post - such a downer! But just felt like I had to write it down to get things off my chest. I might even delete this post when I'm feeling much better, which I'm sure will be soon. And then normal blogging and usual old me will resume. But in the meantime, I hope you guys don't mind<3

can I have you?

Monday, May 9, 2011

I understand this setup might not be good for the books, due to weather conditions and all that, but having a deck, balcony, or a terrace like this would be nice for any bookworm, I think. If I had this set-up though, I'd probably paint the wood white or something and change the floor just to suit my own personal taste. But... who am I kidding? This would be lovely enough as it is.

Well, a girl can dream.

mothers in literature.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Since it is Mother's Day, I thought not only of the cards I plan to give to the mothers in my life, but of the mothers that I got to know from the books that I have read. I tried to come up with a list, and was actually quite surprised that I didn't come up with a lot like I thought I would, but I did come up a few. For the good moms, I can only think of Mrs. Weasley from the HP series, Marmee from The Little Women, the moms in The Joy Luck Club, Mrs. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, Claire Abshire from The Time Traveler's Wife...

And for the memorable, "bad" moms, I couldn't help but think of Mrs. Lisbon from The Virgin Suicides, Gertrude from Lady Macbeth, Norma Bates from Psycho, Margaret White from Carrie, the bad mother from Coraline...

So obviously, my question for you today, to commemorate this occasion; can you think of any more memorable fictional mothers? I would love to hear from you, as usual!

And so with that being said, I wish every single mom out there a very happy Mother's Day! Including soon-to-be moms, "like a mom" mothers, and most especially of course, my own mom! Thanks for raising me as a nerd and a bookworm who turned out surprisingly normal despite her natural weird ways. I love you!

a Self-Help book review?

Friday, May 6, 2011

This is going to be a first on the blog. A self-help book review. A friend of mine asked me to do it here on the blog, so regardless of how I feel about its genre, I'm going to do it.

Disclaimer: I read this entire book. I am not going through a break up nor am I getting paid for this review. However, my friend read this when she was going through a bad one and she said that this has helped her accept the fact.

Now we all know self-help books are not for everyone. There are those who swear by them, who truly find comfort, encouragement, and advice from them. Then there are those like me, who never quite got into it.

I just never found it useful for me. That's just my personal opinion. Now I have nothing against self-help books; I think that if people really do get comfort, positive encouragement, and sound advice from them, then I'm 100% all for that. But for me, personally, my relationship with self-help books have never been a good one. Usually, self-help books come off as preachy to me for some reason, and that turns me off. (I'm simply generalizing, of course. I know not all self-help are like that)

This particular book I'm reviewing is called, "Let's just be friends - recovering from a broken relationship." The title and its description says it all. It's a book to help you when you're going through a trying time, a.k.a "a break up." Now I have to admit, I actually enjoyed reading this book. It was interesting, and it offered unique points of view that I myself would never think of. It talked about a couple of things from red flags that you can find in bad relationships, getting through breakup blues, making the best of it, grieving, moving on... etc.

I got to say the best part about this book was that it did not seem at all preachy, and it didn't feel like the book was talking to me like I was a 5-year old. It didn't sound like it was written by an elitist or a know-it-all; it just sounded like someone who could be somebody's friend, if that makes any sense.

I still do think that a close friend or a family member can give me the same advice this book did, but I could definitely see how this would help those who are not as comfortable talking to someone just yet. This actually gives realistic and unbiased advice. So yes, I would recommend it if you want something to uplift you if you are going through the breakup phase.

I have to be honest though, I don't think self-help books will be included in my future reading lists, but then again that's just me. I'm curious now, what do you all think of self-help books?

my random ramblings. for tonight.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I am reading The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien for the first time. I have always promised I would eventually pick this one up, but the thought of reading about the history of elves - and pretty much the entire, massive universe Tolkien created - intimidated me too much. Finally, I gave in and started reading it. I knew I had to someday. And I have to say, it's quite a challenge to do so. Reading it now, it truly does feel like reading a history textbook sometimes. Now that could either be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you want to look at it. For me, I feel indifferent about it. Sometimes, it's refreshing and even relaxing. Sometimes, it's a pain.

Don't get me wrong; it's interesting, and complex and crazy awesome in so many ways. But... and this is a very big but; I am completely CONFUSED by it all! I don't know if it's because I'm sleepy, as I read it late at night and all, or I'm just a bit slow. I hope it's not the latter. (Surely, it's not? Haha) I even mentioned this problem I'm having on Twitter, asking why the book is so confusing, and Enbrethiliel suggested that it probably has a lot to do with the time line, or lack thereof. Well, that could be it.

Anyway, I thought I'd share my first impressions on it with you all, as I just finished a couple of chapters from it. I have to say though, while it's confusing most of the time, it's very promising. It's interesting, and for some reason, I just can't put it down. I'm drawn to it. So having said that... clearly, there's no stopping now.

Well... I guess that is all. I know this is somewhat of a pointless, rambly post, but might as well. Thanks for listening! And if you have ever read this book, please let me know what you thought of it.

the day I watch this will signify the end of my childhood.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I really liked the HP7PT1 mainly because it seemed to be for the fans. It focused on my favorite trio and their relationship with each other, and it just seemed so genuine. Because of that, I have faith that the final HP movie will be the best one out of the 8. And even if it isn't, in my head, it still would be. Haha.

I can not wait for this movie to come out. I am beyond excited! But I also am sort of sad in a way. I know the moment the credits come up and I'm done watching the movie, it'll be the end of a phenomenon that I grew up with. Anyone else feel the same way? It's probably weird, but that's just me, I guess. Anyway, enjoy the trailer everybody :)

P.S. - Notice how every single time Voldemort shouts, it all sounds exactly the same?? "NYEEAAHHHHHH!!!!!!" I should wear a shirt that says that when I watch this.

read outside!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Warmer weather has officially arrived. These past few days have been warmer than usual, and there seems to be no trace of the long Winter season left. The past weekend especially has been very kind. It pretty much called for some outside reading, so that's exactly what I did. I went to our backyard, sat on a chair, and read. Read and read and read. And it was nice. I never really liked outdoor reading, but I think I have found a love for it. So my challenge to you is to try it out as well. I think that the change of scenery might do you good. Hopefully these photos will inspire you to do just that.