I was confused for the first few pages of Clockwork Heart because it took me a while to be fully immersed in the worldbuildingOriginally posted here.
I was confused for the first few pages of Clockwork Heart because it took me a while to be fully immersed in the worldbuilding and to understand the terms that go with it. This steampunk novel is set in a fictional country where there's a strict caste system. Only the icarii, couriers who can fly using metal wings, can move freely across all castes. It's funny because I'm afraid of heights but I would love to try flying using those icarus wings. Taya is an icarus who suddenly gets involved in Ondinium's politics when she rescues the wife and son of one of the country's most powerful leaders. Taya was an easy character to like, she's a no-nonsense type of person who strives to be the best that she can be in her job. She loves to travel, which is fitting since she's an icarus, and longs to be assigned as an envoy in other countries. Another character that I liked right from the start is grouchy, sarcastic Cristof who's the exact opposite of his handsome and charming brother Alister. Cristof is a member of the highest caste in the country but he chose to turn his back on his prestigious lifestyle. He works as a clockwright instead because he's fascinated with the inner workings of clocks and other mechanical devices. I think he's the steampunk equivalent of a nerd and I found him endearing. Cristof's geeky charm trumps Alister's suave moves. Another intriguing aspect of the novel is the relationship between these two brothers and how they do what they can for the other person even though they have such different views in life.
There were some parts of the novel that went way over my head like the mechanics of the icarii's metal wings and the discussions about programming and subroutines. Programs what? But those things didn't pull me out of the story so I didn't really mind them. There's a lot of action, some mystery and political intrigue in Clockwork Heart, which made it such a fun book to read. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that I enjoyed reading this because I'm a fan of political intrigue in fiction. You really don't have to be into steampunk to like this novel and I have a feeling most fantasy fans would take pleasure in reading Clockwork Heart. I was able to predict one of the plot points and had an "I knew it!" moment but all of the other events were a surprise. It's only the middle of the year but I have a feeling that this book will make it to my best of 2011 list. I really don't understand why it's out of print. I heard that there's a second book in the works and I'd love to read that as soon as it becomes available. Read this if you get the chance, it deserves to get more attention!...more
I can't get over how old school that cover is! What can I say, it goes with the old school story. This is a contemporary YA novOriginally posted here.
I can't get over how old school that cover is! What can I say, it goes with the old school story. This is a contemporary YA novel written by Ellen Emerson White while she was in college in the 80s. It's funny that Colin is described as a class clown, maybe that's what a bad boy is in the 80s? I'm not exactly sure. In any case, Trish is a popular and wholesome kind of girl - she's smart and athletic while Colin never takes his classes seriously. He constantly argues with teachers and earns a daily spot in detention. To top it off, the whole school knows that he got his ex-girlfriend pregnant. Not too great of an image, right? But Trish realizes that there's something more to Colin than meets the eye when she bumps into him at the local library and he insists on walking her home. That chance encounter marks the start of their romance.
This is such a sweet teenage love story. I would've probably fallen in love with this if I read it back in high school together with the Bantam Books Love Stories series. It has a very different tone from the other Ellen Emerson White novels that I've read. It was fun to see Trish and Colin slowly learn to be comfortable around each other. Goodness knows, we've all experienced a lot of awkward moments during our own teenage years. What's great about these two is they bring out the best in each other through encouragement and support. Both of them help the other person deal with insecurities. It isn't as obvious in Trish's case but Colin goes through some pretty big changes in his school life - both academic and extra-curricular - while the two of them are dating. I also enjoyed seeing how involved their parents are in their lives. Colin meets Trish's parents every time he picks her up for their dates and Trish also got to hang out with Colin's parents. They also talk about their love life with their parents, which doesn't generally happen in YA novels nowadays, right? This is an out of print book that I ordered from Better World Books. If you can manage to get an inexpensive copy then I recommend that you grab it and read this. ...more
Between Dinner and the Morning After by Tara FT Sering is one of the local chick lit books that I collected back when I was inOriginally posted here.
Between Dinner and the Morning After by Tara FT Sering is one of the local chick lit books that I collected back when I was in college. It was published in 2005 and I believed it's now out of print because I haven't seen it around local bookstores. I bought a copy of Amazing Grace by the same author recently and I thought it would be good to re-read this one before I read Amazing Grace. If anyone knows where I could but brand new copies of this book, please let me know!
Abigail Cortes is 29 and she's stuck in a rut. She's working for the number one furniture designer in the country but she's stuck as a minion with tasks such as grocery shopping for her boss' dogs. She's in a two-year relationship with a guy that a lot of people would consider quite a catch but she feels like the relationship has lost its spark. Her prospects brighten up when she receives a random email from a guy she met in Dumaguete eight years ago. Juno isn't quite Abi's ex-boyfriend because they only spent a few days together but those days were memorable. So when Juno suggests that they meet for New Year's Eve in San Francisco, Abi has to decide whether she's willing to leave everything behind for a chance at true love.
I really couldn't remember anything about the story, which is a good thing in this case because it felt like I was reading the book for the first time. This goes to show how a book never changes but your perception of it does. I probably couldn't relate to the characters five years ago so the story didn't stick in my mind. I'm happy to announce that that is no longer the case now because I enjoyed reading about Abi and the trials and tribulations of her life. The story jumps back in time several times but it never gets confusing. Throughout the book, Abi interacts with a bunch of quirky characters that add depth to her story. Here's my favorite line from the book:
"If he was meant for you, you will be brought together, and you should expect the world from that. You cannot wish for something without conviction."
The ending left me smiling, I can't say any more than that for fear of spoilers. If you get a chance to grab a copy of this book then I encourage you to do so because out of all the local chick lit books out there, I think this is one of the better ones. Sorry international readers but I don't think this is available outside the Philippines....more
I'm usually not a fan of novels set during wartime - I find them difficult to read because of all the hardships the charactersOriginally posted here.
I'm usually not a fan of novels set during wartime - I find them difficult to read because of all the hardships the characters have to endure. This is true in Patty's case but not because of the war. Her mother and father are horrible parents and I don't understand why they're like that. It would've made more sense if they're just bad people in general but they're mean only to Patty - both of them treat Patty's younger sister with affection. Her mother is mostly concerned with outside appearances and always criticizes Patty because she's not pretty enough; while her father doesn't like her inquisitive ways and believes that Patty should just blindly obey whatever he tells her to do. Her parents made me so mad that I wanted to hit them over the head with something hard. Aside from the family housekeeper Ruth, no one else values Patty and it's a real shame. No wonder Patty turns to Anton, a German prisoner-of-war, for friendship. He recognizes her as the intelligent twelve-year-old that she is. Anton is several years older than Patty but he treats her like an equal. Patty doesn't have any real friends either so it was a breath of fresh air for her to have someone like Anton in her life. I felt sad for Patty for most of the book but I'm happy that she found a good friend in Anton.
This book is a lightweight at just 199 pages but it took me a while to finish it because there were times when I had to pause and brace myself for some of the things that I knew will happen. So in a way, you can say that it wasn't easy to read this book but it's worth the effort because it's a beautiful story about how friendships form in spite of nationalities, religious beliefs and pre-conceived notions. Who would've thought that a Jewish girl and a former Nazi soldier will hit it off. It's amazing how so much was packed in such a slim novel - there's so much depth in this one and I don't think I'll be able to justify all of it in a brief review. So many topics were tackled like racism, the complications of war and both physical and emotional abuse. It might sound a little bleak but I'm really glad I read this. Highly recommended for fans of middle grade or young adult historical fiction or wartime stories. If this sounds like something that you'd enjoy reading, please pick it up because I think Bette Greene is an amazing writer and I don't see her getting featured that often. I can't wait to read the sequel and I am hoping that things will be a lot better for Patty in that book. She truly deserves to be happy....more
I don't usually go for books set during war time. More so for this one because it's about the Vietnam war, a time in history whOriginally posted here.
I don't usually go for books set during war time. More so for this one because it's about the Vietnam war, a time in history which I know nothing about. However, if a book comes highly recommended by someone I trust, I can't help but give it a try. Plus, Angie sent a copy already so the least I could do was read the book, right? :) The Road Home has two sections: the first part deals with Rebecca working as a nurse in Vietnam and the second part is about her coming back home to the States. I thought The Road Home was a standalone novel but looking at Ellen Emerson White's website, it looks like she wrote a series called The Echo Company which focuses on a certain soldier's experiences in Vietnam and Rebecca comes into the picture in the latter books. This is probably why when I was reading The Road Home, I felt like I came into the middle of the series.
As the story starts, Rebecca is working in an American hospital in Vietnam. She's a Radcliffe-educated nurse straight out of college and she signed up mainly because of issues with her family. It sort of felt like things already happened to Rebecca and the book is dealing with the aftereffects of those events but I didn't really mind. Rebecca's helicopter was shot down in the jungle and she was MIA for a couple of days until she meets a squad of American soldiers and one of them, Michael, becomes a close friend. Based on hints throughout the novel, Rebecca used to be a cheerful and lively girl and everything changed when she was lost in the jungle. Mostly she runs on autopilot as she tries to save lives when she doesn't even understand the point of it all. During her remaining time in Vietnam, we see her struggle to connect with other people: the Chief Nurse Major Doyle, Michael and even her mother and father through letters.
The Road Home is more than just Rebecca's story of coming back from Vietnam. It's about coming to terms with everything that she encountered while she was there and trying to understand how she's going to go on living when so many people died. Rebecca lost touch with herself when she went off to join the Army and this novel is about her finding herself again. The characters are believable and real - from their experiences during the war to how lost they were after they came back. It's an understatement that it's difficult to overcome the horrors of war. Your heart will break several times over while you're reading this one but I think it's worth reading. The last few chapters are my favorite part of the novel, when Rebecca decides to go on a road trip. Plus the ending? *sigh* It's perfect for the story. So again, I thank Angie for encouraging me to read a book that I normally wouldn't have picked up. I never thought I'd find comfort in a novel about war. I'm baffled that the book is out of print because it deserves to be read by more people. ...more
Based on the summary, you can totally tell that it's a love-hate relationship, right? I'm such a sucker for those when it's donOriginally posted here.
Based on the summary, you can totally tell that it's a love-hate relationship, right? I'm such a sucker for those when it's done well. Jane is a sports writer in the school newspaper and her snark is in full force when she writes about the male varsity lacrosse team. She's frustrated that the team isn't maximizing its full potential and she doesn't understand why. Enter the team captain, Adam. He proves that he isn't a dumb jock by writing a letter to the editor in response to Jane's articles. Needless to say, these two don't get along. The fun starts when Jane suddenly gets drafted to become her cousin's maid of honor and it turns out that Adam the is best man. Sparks fly, swoon-worthy scenes turn up and there's even a one-on-one lacrosse match between these two. I also liked the secondary characters in this book, which is saying something considering that it's such a slim book and there's not a lot of room for development. Here's a conversation between Jane and her grandpa that I really liked:
"Things change when someone special comes into your life. Both sides have to give up things. The one thing you don't give up in a good relationship is you - whatever makes you most you."
"It's been my experience," he continued, "that when you're with the right people, you feel more like yourself than ever. There's a happiness, and a feeling of coming alive to yourself and the other person, that's like nothing else."
I don't know if I'm biased because I read this when I was younger and it's been a favorite ever since but I really love this book. While reading this, I didn't even know what lacrosse was. Well, I know it's a sport played in the States but I've never seen a game. I've reread my copy so many times that it's not just yellowed with age, it has become battered. I want to get a better copy but sadly, the book is out of print and it's not that easy to find copies. If any of you get a chance to read this, please let me know because I'd love to know what other people think of this book. Oh and if you've read this, did you like it as much as I did? :)...more
I love rereading this book during the holidays because it's a fun read and it's set at Christmastime. Allie has spent most of her school years at Fields School, a boarding school exclusively for girls in Maryland. Her parents travel all over the world for her dad's job so the kids were sent to boarding school for some stability. Once Allie's parents decided to settle in one place for good, her twin sisters, blond and beautiful Sandra and Julia opt to leave Fields to study at a regular high school. Allie isn't looking forward to going to their new home for Christmas. All her friends are in Fields and she always feels self-conscious around her sisters. She knows she looks nothing like them, she's not popular and she doesn't spend hours fixing her hair or choosing her outfits.
At 208 pages, this book is a lightweight but I really like how well-developed Allie and Ben were as characters. As Allie learns more about Ben, she realizes that he isn't like the rest of the popular crowd, he's not superficial and is actually very sweet, especially when it comes to his younger brother, Tim. I loved all of their scenes together because you can really feel the tension between them. All throughout the holiday break, they keep dancing around each other, unsure of the other's feelings and not willing to risk their new-found friendship. And it all leads to a satisfying New Year's Eve conclusion. The entire Love Stories series is already out of print. Most of my copies have already been passed on to a younger cousin (and I hope she enjoyed reading them as much as I did) but I kept a couple because I just couldn't let go of them. At First Sight made an impression when I was young so it will always have a special place in my heart. If you get a chance to read this, I'd love to know what you think.
That's it for today, I hope you're all enjoying the holidays. :) Merry Christmas, everyone!...more
Read this again for EWein Special Ops. It was just as good as I remembered. I was still afraid for Telemakos even though I already knew what was goingRead this again for EWein Special Ops. It was just as good as I remembered. I was still afraid for Telemakos even though I already knew what was going to happen.
Ms. Wein blends Arthurian legend and sixth century Ethiopian history in her books. Telemakos, the main protagonist of this book, is the son of Medraut (Mordred, Arthur's son). If you're a fan of Arthurian novels, I definitely recommend Ms. Wein's novels. But even if you aren't, I still recommend them! I haven't read a lot of Arthurian books and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Telemakos is such a talented child and so mature for his age. There were times when I was reading the book that I couldn't believe he's just a young boy. He's a very curious person so he trained himself to be stealthy and this skill has earned him a dangerous task. This book only has around two hundred pages but all of those pages are packed with a gripping story and you won't be able to let go until you finish the entire thing. I'm still amazed at how vibrant this story is for its length.
As with most of my favorite books, the characters in this one stand out. I remember that a member of Sounis calls Miles Vorkosigan as Gen-in-Space and I remember that Telemakos was labeled as Gen-in-Africa. Here are some of their similarities: they come from noble families, they're both trained in stealth, they're both highly intelligent individuals with a certain skill set and both MWT and Ms. Wein are not afraid to make their characters go through very difficult situations. I'm going to stop there because I don't want to reveal any spoilers but rest assured that the secondary characters in this book are just as interesting as Telemakos is.
The Sunbird can be read on its own but I think it's better to have the Mark of Solomon duology on hand because those are the next books that feature Telemakos: The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom. After reading The Sunbird, you're going to want more of Telemakos and the rest of the characters in this book. ...more