I’ve had this book for ages, but I haven’t reviewed it ever (then again, I hardly review books back when I bought this).Original post at One More Page
I’ve had this book for ages, but I haven’t reviewed it ever (then again, I hardly review books back when I bought this). This, along with Stargirl is one of my favorite young adult books. I bought this on a whim, and ever since I first read it, I’ve loved the story. Julianna, especially, is a very memorable character that I wish a lot of times that I carry the same wonder and sparkle she has. :)
When Bryce Loski moves into the neighborhood, Julianna Baker was mostly interested in having a playmate than a boyfriend. But when she saw his blue eyes, she flipped. Bryce wasn’t interested in the Juli, mostly because she scared him. He spent the next few years running away from her — from avoiding her when she’d visit to play, to asking someone out so she’d stop chasing him (backfired big time), to throwing the gifts she gives him, and every thing he could manage to do. As they grow up, Juli realizes that Bryce isn’t really the guy she thought he is, and Bryce realizes that he really didn’t take the time to know Juli and started seeing her in a new light.
This is a cute he-said/she-said story, which talks about childhood crushes, seeing beneath the surface, being a man, growing up and second chances. It’s quite deep for a YA novel, but the way Ms. Van Draanen wrote the story made it easy to understand; and it sounds so realistic that you’d believe there are situations like this.
What’s funny was, when I re-read it yesterday, I realized I understood it better now than when I bought it first. Let’s say…I was in a situation back when I bought this book, which made it a bit harder to understand and put myself in the place of the female protagonist. ;) All I liked back then was then Bryce finally realized what he’s missing, but the other things didn’t really strike me. This time around, however, I finally understood and related to the major parts of the story, such as:
* How Bryce realized that he was running away from Julianna for no reason at all. True, he had an effective strategy to avoid conflict – diving under – but it’s not really much of a strategy seeing that he carried it over to how he acts with things he should take responsibility for. Bryce is an example of someone who succumbed to easily to peer pressure and a guy who wouldn’t be accountable for his actions until it bites him back. I’m glad he managed to redeem himself in the end. :D
* How one shouldn’t be attracted to someone only with the looks. In a way Mrs. Loski seemed like a future Julianna, that is, if Juli didn’t realize what she realized in the end.
* And the major lesson of the story, IMHO, is that how one must not let shallow things such as the color of the eyes and how they used to act as kids in choosing someone as a lifetime partner, or at least, a boyfriend. I related so much to Juli because I was — and sometimes still — like her: easily swayed by the things a guy does, and excusing everything he does even if it is offensive and disrespectful, until it finally hits back. And there’s also the disappointment of the guy not being able to live up to the expectations set to him, as well as “getting over” the guy at some point and feeling relapses when he’s suddenly within proximity or when he does something. It’s a wonder I didn’t see this immediately. Then again, when I bought this, I was in a middle of something like this too. ;)
Flipped will always be one of my favorite books, no matter how old I get. I’d recommend this to everyone, especially the teens. The language is safe, the story is cute but not too cute, and it teaches both guys and girls some valuable lessons that I think they could definitely use as they grow up.
An interesting fact about this book: I got this because of a tweet from one of the Twitter accounts I follow that tweetsOriginal post at One More Page
An interesting fact about this book: I got this because of a tweet from one of the Twitter accounts I follow that tweets first lines of books from Amazon. I got this purely because it was a Catholic book and it seemed interesting. I was also trying to learn more about my Catholic faith, and so I thought this book would be a good place to start. I read this first during Holy Week of 2008, and that time I wasn't exactly at the best place of my faith. I remember loving this book because it made me appreciate being Catholic, although that didn't necessarily mean that I really got what it means to be one.
Fast forward to three years later, I got to attend my first World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain. Now if there was any way for a young Catholic to celebrate and appreciate their faith, the World Youth Day is that event. Seeing people -- Catholics -- all over the world coming together in one place to celebrate and learn about their faith (and meet the Pope) is an event that every Catholic should experience, regardless of age. Suffice to say that it was that event that pretty much defined a lot of my searching in the past years since I first read this book. When Lent came around this year, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this book again.
I thought of writing a review for this book with 50 things about the book, but I realized that 50 is a bit of a big number. So instead, let me just write five:
1. I like that it is Catholic. Maybe I just kind of suck with looking for books written by Catholics, but I remember being very thrilled when I discovered this because I felt that it was written for me. I know it's not, but it just felt like that. :P
2. I like that it's very personal. Liz Kelly wrote the entries in the book with enough personal anecdotes to make it feel like she's just sharing the stories over coffee, or she's a speaker for a community event. She gives enough reference to the Bible, related books, history and to the Catechism of the Catholic Church so readers know that she isn't just pulling things from thin air, but not so much that it overshadows her personality.
3. I like that it covers the ones we Catholics are asked the most about: the rosary, Mary, the Communion of Saints, Confession, the Eucharist. In a way, it's almost like an Apologetics session because readers would understand why we do what we do but with less of the feeling that it is one.
4. I liked discovering new things about Catholicism that I never knew before. May favorite is the Rosary of the Holy Wounds, which I didn't even know existed before. I only knew of the rosary, but this one is new to me and seems like a good devotion to start. Another example is the chapter on the Hour of Divine Mercy, which has been a staple in the household since I was a kid because of the 3 o'clock prayer shown on TV everyday. I never really understood much of it until it was explained in the simplest form in Liz Kelly's book.
5. There were some entries that didn't feel like I could really and truly relate, perhaps because of our differences in culture. Liz Kelly talks about her reasons to love being Catholic as an American. I'm not one, obviously, so there were some things that she wrote that I couldn't really relate to and some that I was looking for but didn't find because they were aspects of Catholicsm that is unique to the Filipinos. However, though, I think the book isn't really meant to be a guide on what constitutes being a Catholic anyway, but a book that helps us appreciate what we have in this beautiful Universal Church. :)
I think new and old Catholics alike would enjoy May Crowning, Mass and Merton: 50 Reasons I Love Being Catholic, and maybe even some non-Catholics who are simply curious about it. It's far from preachy, and like I said, it's very personal so it's up to you if you'd research more on the subjects Liz Kelly wrote about or if you would just leave it be. Suffice to say that I really liked it still even after the second read. As proof: I ended up marking even more pages now than when I first read it:
To end this review, I thought I'd share my own ten reasons why I love being Catholic (just ten because I don't think I can get to 50 yet -- maybe when I get a little bit older :D). Some may have already appeared in the book, while others are my additions. In no particular order, and no more explanations because it would take a bit of time to write -- I'll post about them soon (promise!) in my personal blog if you are interested. :)
1. Universal Church. 2. The Mass. 3. Mary. 4. The Rosary. 5. Pope (Blessed) John Paul II. 6. The Eucharist. 7. Ash Wednesday and Holy Week. 8. Simbang Gabi (Dawn Mass/Advent novena mass) 9. Confession. 10. The saints.
I am glad I reread this book and I'm glad I reread it at this time. Still a favorite for sure. :) ...more
I've been trying to think of the best way to review this book, because I feel like the first review I wrote for The TruthOriginal post One More Page
I've been trying to think of the best way to review this book, because I feel like the first review I wrote for The Truth About Forever did not do it any justice. The thing is, I don't know how to write a proper review for this book without squealing or "sa-woon"-ing so much. Because believe me, I know I did that so many times when I was rereading this book.
But let me try again. Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever is one of my favorite books of all time. It's not my first Dessen, but it's the book that made me love Dessen and made her one of my auto-buy authors. It's one book I've reread multiple times and still get all swoony and happy and wishing for a romance like Macy and Wes did. Yes, even with their drama, because it made the ending so much satisfying in the end.
The Truth About Forever is about Macy Queen, whose life spun out of control when her dad died in front of her. Macy tried to hold it together for the sake of her family, hiding her grief and seeking perfection, thinking that this would help her mother who seeks perfection in everything she does as well, her own way of dealing with loss. The story starts with Macy's boyfriend, Jason, leaving for Brain Camp and Macy facing a long summer with her strict schedule and routine. She's okay, she always thought. Until one day, she meets the Wish Catering crew. One bad afternoon at her summer job, with a bad email to boot, she joins Wish, makes new friends, and meets Wes -- the seemingly perfect guy with his own not-so-clean past, who likes flaws. Things turn interesting for Macy as she gets to know these people, and as she realizes that maybe it's not so bad if her strictly-scheduled life unravels and she lets chaos in bit by bit.
Ah, this book. I think what makes me love this book more than I loved This Lullaby is how much I could relate to Macy. I'm fortunate enough to have my parents here with me so I can't relate to Macy at that front, but the schedules? The need to be as perfect as I can be (sometimes, anyway)? Oh, I've been there. At the next rereads, I found that I wanted to shake Macy so hard -- she needs to cry! She needs to snap out of the illusion that she needs to be perfect to hold things together. She needs to let go and reach for her mom so they could grieve together! Ah Macy, why do you frustrate me so much?
But it served as a good starting point. If there was anything that Sarah Dessen really knows, it's how to write a story that seeps into you and hooks you, pulling you in up until the last page. There's no need for magic or any supernatural creatures -- just plain everyday things magnified, with added significance. The conversations could be just any normal conversation, but somehow they pack a punch. For example:
"Honestly," I said.
"Come on. You have to admit it's sort of ridiculous."
Now that I had to define it, I found myself struggling for the right words. "You know," I said, then figured Kristy had really summed it up best. "The sa-woon."
"Wes, come on," I said. "Are you seriously not aware of how girls stare at you?"
How cute is that?
There's really nothing new with the story, but thanks to the writing and the vivid characters, it becomes a little bit extraordinary. This book is one of the reasons I appreciate characters more, why I believe that even the most common storyline can be interesting when the roles are played by strong, well-developed characters.
And then there's Wes. Dessen boys are well known among readers, and Wes is definitely my favorite. He just seems so...perfect. Strange to see a seemingly perfect guy in a book that tells the main character that perfection isn't everything, don't you think? Believe me, I'm still trying to find some kind of flaw in Wes. But I guess that's what crushes are -- it's so hard to find a flaw in them. I think I'm not that infatuated with Wes that I'd try and look for someone exactly like him (but hey, I wouldn't mind, haha), but I would like to have the same kind of development that Macy and Wes had. Their relationship is one of the most authentic ones I've read -- built on shared experiences and conversations. Now where is that guy I could play a game of Truth with?
So yeah, even on my third reread, I still loved The Truth About Forever. It reminds me of why I started reading YA and why I like the contemporary genre. If you're looking for a good contemporary YA novel you can sink your teeth into, or if you're looking for a good Sarah Dessen novel to start with, I highly recommend The Truth About Forever. Read it and sa-woon. :)...more
I have had Tosca's book on my TBR shelf since 2009, and I meant to read it soon after I finished reading her other novelOriginal post at One More Page
I have had Tosca's book on my TBR shelf since 2009, and I meant to read it soon after I finished reading her other novel, Demon: A Memoir. Somehow, this book got pushed farther and farther down Mt. TBR until I almost forgot about having it. It wasn't until I was thinking of a good book to start 2011 with that I remembered having this one, so I dug it up from my books, and cracked the book open again come 1st of January.
Around October last year, some of my Goodreads friends started a year-long reading challenge to read the Bible in its entirety. I have tried reading the Bible from cover to cover back in college but I failed miserably when I got to Chronicles. When I heard of the challenge in the group, the challenge addict in me jumped in, choosing to read The Message translation of the Bible for easier reading. The thing with reading the Bible is it's so easy to be disenchanted with the stories there, especially if you've heard the stories in it over and over, particularly in Genesis. What else there is to read about Adam and Eve anyway? They were created, they lived in God's presence, then Eve got tempted and got Adam in with her. They were banished from the garden, they had kids, and then the world started with them. Not that interesting, right?
They say familiarity breeds contempt, and I guess that has happened to me in the case of Genesis. Tosca Lee breathes life into the story of creation, particularly with the first woman ever created in Havah.
I have seen paradise and ruin. I have known bliss and terror.
I have walked with God.
And I know that God made the hart the most fragile and resilient of organs, that a lifetime of joy and pain might be encased in one moral chamber.
So it starts. I fell in love with Tosca Lee's writing with Demon, and I knew Havah is going to be just as beautifully written as the former, if not more. This retelling of Eve from the moment of her creation to their fall to their exile and her mortal life was told in Eve's point of view, making the novel feel more personal compared to Demon.
I am not an expert in theology so I can't say how accurate this was or if Tosca missed addressing something in this novel. However, I can say that reading Havah became more than just leisurely reading but almost a personal journey. Eve, christened as Havah by the adam because she "...will live, and all who live will come from [her], and [she] will give birth to hope." (p. 102), spoke to my heart as she told her story. I guess it's because she's a woman, and I sympathized with her struggles and her woes. How I could I not? In a sense, I was also Havah -- I sinned against God so many times that I know I am so far away from Him, but I crave for His presence just as Havah sought Him, too. It was that brokenness that got to me the most. I do not blame her for her act of disobedience and in the fall, because as she said quite eloquently, "If not for our transgression, we would not know redemption."(p. 349) In a sense, Havah really embodied how it is to be a human in this broken world: a constant struggle to find God in our surroundings, in the people and in life, pressing on even if sometimes He seems empty and silent.
Since this was told in her point of view, this will seem like a female-biased novel, but I think (and hope!) that guys will still be able to find themselves in this novel, too. It's hard to describe this novel in its entirety because there is so much beauty and pain and love in this book.
It took me a while to finish reading this, but I know I made the right choice in starting 2011 with this novel. This is still fiction, of course, and this does not replace the parts written in Genesis, but it definitely helped me understand that part of the Bible more. I had no doubt that this would be a good book after enjoying Tosca's first novel, but Havah just totally blew my mind and heart away. And if you decide to pick this one up, I hope it does the same for you too. :)
How mighty, how great the One must be, I thought, to send the heavens careening, and yet hear the cry of a single heart. (p. 28)
You can watch the book trailer here or hear what the author has to say about her second novel here. ...more
I was never a fan of dystopian or post-apocalyptic literature. The thought of reading a book where the world I know has been dFull review at Pinoy Pop
I was never a fan of dystopian or post-apocalyptic literature. The thought of reading a book where the world I know has been destroyed by natural or human forces (or both), or one ruled over by oppressive totalitarian government is depressing. With all the bad news on TV and in the papers, I don’t need to escape to another reality that pains an even bleaker picture of the future. So when I first heard of The Hunger Gamesby Suzanne Collins from a fellow Filipino book blogger, I just skimmed over her review. Kids killing other kids--dystopia and gore? No, thanks.
Then, at last year's Manila International Book Fair last year, I stopped at the central display of National Bookstore. There was a huge display for The Hunger Games and its sequel, Catching Fire, and a TV interview of Suzanne Collins playing on loop. The lady beside me was so enthusiastic about the books and, not wanting to waste my trip to the fair, I ended up getting both books despite my apprehension. Book-wise, that choice was probably the best I made last year.
The Hunger Games is set in the future in a nation called Panem, formerly known as North America, before a series of disasters decimated the once successful nation. Panem is ruled by the Capitol and divided into thirteen districts, each with a specific industry that sates the Capitol's lavish needs. Seventy-four years ago, the thirteen districts revolted against the Capitol but were defeated. To prevent further uprisings, the surviving 12 districts were punished through the annual Hunger Games: each district provides “tributes” -- a boy and a girl between the age of 12 and 18 -- through a lottery called “reaping.” The tributes, after much pomp and ceremony, are sent to the Hunger Games arena where they are made to fight each other to the death in a televised extravaganza, until only one remains. The last remaining survivor is declared winner, ensuring that his/her family and neighbors will have enough food for the rest of the year.
We meet the heroine, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, on the morning before the reaping, with her best friend Gale, in the woods outside of District 12. In the course of the first few pages of the book, we learn a lot about her family background, her role as provider for her family, and the fact that her entire existence revolves around keeping her sister, Prim, safe. When Prim's name is drawn in the reaping, Katniss volunteers in her stead, knowing that her decision likely means her death.
Katniss has to compete not only against tributes from the richer districts, many of whom have been training to participate in the Hunger Games all their lives, but with Peeta Mellark, a young man she has a history with. As the Games go on and the tributes fall one by one, Katniss has to draw both on her learned skills and rock-hard determination not only to survive, but to make the hard decisions necessary to make it back to her family.
The premise may seem a bit complicated, but Collins weaves it into the story in a manner that makes it comprehensible and unobtrusive, as readers are plunged right into the action. The first thing readers will notice in The Hunger Games is the solid world building. Panem, the Capitol and its Districts, were described in such a matter-of-fact tone and detail that it felt real. It wasn’t exactly the numerous details that made the world so convincing, but the way that Panem was portrayed not just as a place, but as a living, breathing character in the novel. The contrast between the rich Capitol and poor District 12 was stark, and disturbingly familiar, almost a mirror to the societal division between the rich and the poor here in the Philippines. Click here to read the rest of the review....more
Note: This is a very late review, I know. This was meant to be posted at Pinoy Pop, but because of some events, I'll jusOriginal post at One More Page
Note: This is a very late review, I know. This was meant to be posted at Pinoy Pop, but because of some events, I'll just post it here. Plus I need to have this up before I finally write my Mockingjay review. So...yay, finally this is up. This review is written without much references to Mockingjay so let's assume I don't know how the trilogy ends as you read this review. :)
Whenever the word sequel comes to mind, I know a lot of people often cringe. More often than not, people only have one question about sequels: how will it measure up? Sequels – be it in books or movies – are either a hit-or-miss, usually because of the high expectations set by its predecessor. Will the sequel live up to the fans’ expectations? Will it be everything that we loved in it and more? Or will it just disappoint?
Catching Fireby Suzanne Collins is one of those sequels. Released a year after The Hunger Games, Catching Fire was one of the most anticipated books to be released in 2009. While other fans who got the first book when it was released had to wait a year before they got to read it, I was lucky enough to be able to get a copy of Catching Fire at the same time that I got The Hunger Games. Call me a late bloomer, I guess, but it was a blessing in disguise because even if the first book didn’t end with a huge cliffhanger, the waiting time was reduced and I could just get into the action immediately.
If you haven’t read The Hunger Games, then this spoiler warning is for you. Catching Fire starts with the heroine Katniss Everdeen preparing for the Victory Tour with her fellow tribute Peeta Mellark after winning the 74th Hunger Games. Katniss thought winning the games would bring her life back to normal, but instead, it changed everything: Peeta remains cold to her after he found out that Katniss was just playing their romance for show, and her best friend Gale is aloof with her for reasons he knows why. Unknown to Katniss but revealed soon after, her final act at the Hunger Games that meant to save herself and Peeta has fueled the unrest in the other districts, and these rebels have made Katniss the symbol of their rebellion. Just in time for all this unrest is the 75th Hunger Games that is also the Quarter Quell: the rules of the games are changed, raising the stakes higher to remind Panem – and ultimately, Katniss – that the Capitol still owns them, no matter what.
I really didn’t have much doubt that Collins would deliver a great sequel, especially after some of my bookish friends have praised Catching Fire, but I tried to keep my expectations down as I read the book. I think that might have helped because, personally, I thought Catching Fire was all kinds of awesome. Katniss is back, and she was still as great as she was in the first book, fighting against fear and the people that threatened the safety of her family and friends. I liked Katniss more in The Hunger Games, but the sequel shows us a different side of Katniss now that she is thrown into a situation she did not expect would happen if she won the Games in the last book. Her confusion and fear is palpable, and I liked all the moments when she found strength somewhere in her to protect the ones she loves. It's almost like a maternal instinct, which I wouldn't doubt if it is given that she practically raised her family after her dad died. Katniss is still surly and not too charming here despite how she was being packaged to Panem, but she is still that same protagonist that fans of the first book would definitely root for.
This book also gave us more of a glimpse of the people around Katniss, particularly the two guys in her life, Peeta and Gale. In Hunger Games, there was more screen time for Peeta that people tend to gravitate to him instead of Gale. In the sequel, Peeta still gets more screen time but we get to see more of Gale, as much as Katniss sees him, anyway. Here we see and understand a bit more of Katniss and Gale's relationship, as well how Katniss depends on Gale. It's kind of hard to read Gale here at first, but we get a glimpse of how he has been hardened by what he has went through, and even more after what his best friend (and love, perhaps) has gone through. Peeta, on the other hand, really becomes the golden boy here, by the way he manages the pressure and invisible (at least to him in the early story) threat to Katniss. Later, he becomes the "most" protected, which puts him more on spotlight -- again. No wonder more people liked Peeta. :P These two boys provide good contrast over Katniss’ character in the story, and set the dynamics of their relationships is what set the scene in Catching Fire. These boys aren’t perfect, which is a breath of fresh air from all the seemingly perfect YA male leads.
The Peeta-Katniss-Gale love triangle is also one of the big ones that divided the fans into separate teams, akin to -- yes, I dare mention it -- Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga. Personally, I didn’t make a choice between the two. I like Peeta, but I’m (always) very partial to the best friend. In the end, though, I didn't really care who Katniss would choose, if she will choose. I felt like Katniss doesn’t feel the need to make a choice here. I don’t think she even really understood the weight of the affections of the two guys had for her, which can be frustrating to read, especially since she kept on swinging from one to another. I agree with Adele: Katniss can very well make a choice, but the thing is, will she? Can she make a choice? Does she have enough strength to choose one and let go of the other? Or will she just let romance go altogether? In a way, I can sort of understand Katniss' indecision. More often than not, it's easier to just not make a decision than decide and think of the what-ifs after the choice has been made. I'm pretty sure that is going on in Katniss' mind, and it didn't help that the Capitol is making it hard for her. Talk about really making it hard for her. Love is already hard, and life in Panem for Katniss just makes it harder. :P
But I think the real star of this novel in my opinion is not Katniss or Peeta or Gale, but the Capitol. All throughout the novel, I was trying to think of a justification why the Hunger Games was happening, specifically, why there was a need for a Quarter Quell. I know it’s already been introduced in the first novel, but the cruelty of the Quarter Quell just seemed too senseless that there has to be some kind of good reason why they had to do it. Perhaps I was just being naïve, but I wanted to find something good in the Capitol, to give some kind of justification for this...horror. But as I continued reading, I am always struck by how evil they really were, how senseless the games really were. This realization made me not only really hate the Capitol (and President Snow as the face of the Capitol) but also understand what The Book Smugglers said about dystopian novels having one unifying factor: the Truly Villainous Government. Think your government is bad? Wait till you live in Panem.
True to its title, Catching Fire is a fiery read. I think this may be the first time that I have loved the sequel more than I loved the first book. Re-reading it in preparation for Mockingjay didn’t change my initial opinions of it – in fact, it was even better the second time around. Catching Fire is truly a heart-pounding, explosive, adrenaline-inducing, page-turning read. Definitely my favorite among the three books. :)...more
It took me a while to really get into this book. I admit the first few pages kind of made my head hurt**spoiler alert** Original post at One More Page
It took me a while to really get into this book. I admit the first few pages kind of made my head hurt, because I couldn't get into the language. But once Anne Elliot finally showed herself in the book, I started getting comfortable and I actually started liking it. A lot.
I think the thing that really struck me here was Anne Elliot herself. I loved Elizabeth Bennet in P&P, but I realized how much I loved Anne more in this novel. Elizabeth was a feisty and strong-headed woman, someone who you'd want to have as a friend. Anne was someone who I want to be. She's emotionally mature, with the way she deals with her family and her emotions especially with Captain Wentworth. She knows when to speak up and when to let it be. She keeps her appointments despite what other people say, and she has her mind and heart in the right place. It was sad that she's such a social outcast in her family, but I think that gave her the character that made her so lovable.
Who wouldn't want to be her, seriously?
Other than Anne, the story captivated me. This is like, the foundation of all "almost-unrequited-love" stories. I felt Anne's pain when Captain Wentworth was too formal with her and she realized that it was better if he just ignored her, as quoted below:
Once, too, he spoke to her. She had left the instrument on the dancing being over, and he had sat down to try to make out an air which he wished to give the Miss Musgroves an idea of. Unintentionally she returned to that part of the room; he saw her, and, instantly rising, said, with studied politeness—
"I beg your pardon, madam, this is your seat;" and though she immediately drew back with a decided negative, he was not to be induced to sit down again.
Anne did not wish for more of such looks and speeches. His cold politeness, his ceremonious grace, were worse than anything.
I also felt her sadness when she thought that his friends could have been her friends if they had pushed through with the engagement. I felt her slight joy when she saw him give her a glance that wasn't cold. I felt her excitement when she learned that Captain Wentworth was "available". I smiled when he assisted her with Mary's child. I felt surprised when she learned that he was jealous for her attention. And I was smiling like an idiot when I read his letter to her:
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men.
How can you not love this book?
I'm so glad I read this. :) It would take a while for me to get over this, and now I can say that Captain Wentworth is one of my book crushes, along with Wes Baker and Fitzwilliam Darcy. :P...more
I often rely on blog reviews whenever I’m getting a new book from an author that I don’t know. Okay, usually, I rely on covers (shallow, I know), butI often rely on blog reviews whenever I’m getting a new book from an author that I don’t know. Okay, usually, I rely on covers (shallow, I know), but that only works whenever the book is anything in the realistic genre.
So one day, I was browsing through one of the new favorite YA book blog sites I started reading lately, Persnickety Snark, and saw her review for Fire by Kristin Cashore. Back then, I was looking for fantasy books to read to start my fantasy reading resolution, and I added Fire and Graceling (the companion book) to my mental list. That same afternoon, my friends and I found the latter book, but my friend bought it, so I told myself I’d buy it when 2010 comes in.
A few days before Christmas, I was feeling a bit restless and felt the need to buy a new book, regardless of how many other books I still have lying unread at home (we have that day, right? :P ). I wanted to get Graceling, too, but instead found Fire, and went home with it despite my complaining wallet. :)
To put it simply, Fire was one of those books that I’m glad I bought on an impulse. It was one of those books that I couldn’t put down but I don’t want to rush reading simply because I didn’t want to leave the Dells too soon. I started reading this after Christmas and finished up until after New Year, which is already long for a book that I really loved.
So what did I really love about this book? Let’s see:
1. Characters. I’m a sucker for strong characters. I love it when the characters in a book all leave imprints in me, and that their voice are so distinct that I could tell who was speaking even without the identifiers in the text. Fire, as a protagonist, is a well-developed character, with her physical beauty that could make her own anything she wants and her compassion for the people around her that makes her not like a monster. Even her guard Musa was a real person to me, and she was just a minor character. Every character in this book is crafted so carefully and splendidly that I felt that I was inside the story, like I was one of the people who actually got to know Fire as a person and not a monster. 2. Plot. Fire isn’t the type of book that will make you keep on turning the pages. True, the story is captivating, but the story flows steadily, no actual highs or lows or quick action/battle parts that other novels have. It’s not that there’s no climax in this book — not like some other book I know hmph — it had one, but it didn’t consist of pages and pages of descriptions about the climax. The story flowed steadily. Every part of the novel was significant, and after a while, you’ll see the connection with all the little things mentioned in the previous pages. I don’t know about others, but I liked that. Why put a part in the story if it doesn’t have any significance, right? 3. Concept. I mean, human monsters who can make you do anything? Monsters that will eat monsters and if they don’t get that, they can make other creatures with brains go out and convince them to be eaten? How can people come up of these kinds of stories?!
So I’m glad I went on an impulse and bought Fire. It’s the companion book for Graceling, which means I kind of know some of the characters in Graceling already because of that, but it’s okay, I think. :D This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in 2010....more
There are certain books that can wait before you actually crack its pages. They’re the types of books that you want, but are in no hurry to read, so they sit pretty on your shelf, waiting to be picked once you’re finished with what you’re reading, or once you feel like reading them. They wait patiently for you, never complaining, never taunting you to read the last few pages to see what would happen in the end, and it can wait for a long time before you actually read it without complaints.
This book wasn’t one of them.
When I read the first book of the It’s All About Us series for the first time, I wasn’t really pleased with it. I liked it, yes, but I didn’t feel like it was a favorite because I couldn’t really relate to it, and all the name and brand dropping kind of got to me. I mean, the characters were Christian; why are they spouting off brands and such? Don’t they have better things to do than concentrate on designer brands or something?
I could have given up on the series then, but I have this obsessive thing on finishing what I started, so when the next few books came out, I got them and read them. Slowly, I started to fall in love with the characters and understand where they were coming from, even if I couldn’t relate too much. I found myself rooting for them, and even if I don’t really wish for the kind of life they have, I wished to find friends like Lissa, Gillian, Carly, Shanni and Mac — friends who would stick by you through and through and pray with you and be there for you like real God-given friends are.
I have to remember that these books were written to cater to a specific kind of group: the Gossip Girl/insert book series name here generation. I like watching Gossip Girl on TV, but I never picked up any of their books because I never felt interested in it. A friend told me they’re good, but they were kind of scandalous, especially for the audience it was written for. The It’s All About Us series counters that, and shows us that girls can love God and still have fun. The books focus on the real important things: friendship, love, family, following God’s will and growing in God’s love. It’s like a breath of fresh air for all young adult books, and it’s something that parents wouldn’t be afraid to let their daughters read. :)
I’m blabbing about that because I’m trying to avoid spoilers for this book. I got this book yesterday, and I was trying to resist reading the book because I told myself I’d finish Persuasion first. I failed miserably, picked the book up last night and read it until way past my bed time, and it was so worth it. I slept with a huge smile on my face knowing that was the ending, and even if I wanted a bit more, I’m okay with how this series ended. I really liked Lissa in this book, much more than I did in the first book. I like how she had matured from the girl who wanted to be popular to a girl who loves her God and her friends and is happy with that. I like the other conflicts in the story, too, and it was nice to see more of Vanessa even if I don’t know what else will happen to her. It was really nice to read more of Kaz, too, and I wouldn’t mind having a best friend like that. :) I just kind of feel off about how Lissa was depicted in the cover — I don’t know if it’s just me, but Lissa there (the blonde) looked a bit too old to be the Lissa I imagined. Carly (I think it’s her, the one on the right), looks gorgeous though. :)
What I love about the entire series is it never really wraps up everything nicely — the consequences of their actions are still there and they can’t turn back from their mistakes. They just have to learn to forgive themselves and others and ask forgiveness and trust that God knows what He’s doing. It doesn’t sugarcoat any of the issues, but instead connects it with practical lessons and teachings that could be applied in everyday life.
If you haven’t read the series yet, I recommend that you start with the first book because it’s really where the story started, and this book concludes the series in a really romantic and satisfying way. :) No regrets in buying this yesterday or staying up late to read this. I’m going to miss the girls, but I’m happy to know I can always visit them on my bookshelf....more
I'm a big reader (obviously), but there are certain books that I can say are my absolute favorites, ones that I would wiOriginal post at One More Page
I'm a big reader (obviously), but there are certain books that I can say are my absolute favorites, ones that I would willingly read over and over again and bring with me to a deserted island, if given a choice. Some of them are This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen and probably Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
I'm happy to say that North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley just joined their ranks. :)
In this day and age, media plays a heavy influence in how one views beauty: one must be tall, thin, have straight hair, blemish-free and white skin. If you fail to meet any of these requirements, then sorry, you can't be beautiful. A lot of girls suffer from low self-esteem back then, including me. I never really talked about it and I covered everything with laughter, but deep inside, I didn't feel beautiful at all. Every other girl I know seems to be more beautiful than I am, and I feel like being beautiful is a long shot.
That was how Terra felt, even if she possessed great body and great hair and the smarts to finish high school a year early. Despite all of these, Terra never thought of herself as beautiful because of one flaw: the port-wine birthmark the shape of Bhutan on her face. All she wanted to do was get out of the small town and make her own map at a faraway college -- far away from the people who know her, especially far away from the control of her father, a disgraced cartographer.
Now if you'll think about it, the search for true beauty is not a new story line. Other books might have mentioned it, had a story about it, but I think the beauty of North of Beautiful is that it really tackled the issue head on. Although Terra never called herself ugly outright, she admits to hiding behind a mask and falling under everyone's expectations of her. She craved control, so she set out on a plan to follow her older brother's footsteps and to be finally free of everything in her life. Of course, all her plans change when life throws her all kinds of things -- like getting into a car crash, for instance -- but that is really where her journey started.
This is another book with very strong characters, all of them somehow making a mark in me as I read it. Strong characters are easier to identify with, and could make even the most cliched story somehow work. They all had unique voices, and I can actually imagine them in the small town of Colville: from Terra's dad and his condescending comments to Terra's mom's timidity to Jacob's easy smile and funny quips. I don't think I've ever seen a more effective antagonist who uses words to abuse other people -- I mean seriously, Terra's dad definitely takes the cake. I can't remember how many times I willed for Terra and her family to stand up to their dad on the first parts of the book! The attraction between Terra and Jacob felt real, too, and not rushed. The author certainly took her time in building their relationship, which I really appreciated, and when the fallout came? Oh dear, my heart went out to both and I almost wished that the little complication didn't happen at all. Even Susannah, Terra's aunt, who passed away before the story started, made her presence felt in the story.
A lot of other interesting concepts were discussed too, especially the ones related to cartography, since it was Terra's dad's occupation. Other than Colville and a bit of Seattle, I was also brought to China, making me want to see the sites that they visited there. The concept of geocaching was also explored, which is kind of like a more high-tech type of treasure hunt. Definitely something a geek would like. ;)
And the book's ending? Totally satisfying. :)
North of Beautiful is a wonderful book, and I'm really glad I had the impulse to buy it. :) It's definitely something I recommend, especially for girls, to remind us all of what true beauty is really all about.
I leave you with this quote from the book:
Let the glossy spreads have their heart-stopping, head-turning kind of beauty. Give me the heart-filling beauty instead. Jolie laide, that's what I would choose. Flawed, we're truly interesting, truly memorable, and yes, truly beautiful.
Fairy Tale Fail really is a cute book, one that has the right amount of fluff and life lessons for the everyday working girl. It’s very easy to relateFairy Tale Fail really is a cute book, one that has the right amount of fluff and life lessons for the everyday working girl. It’s very easy to relate to Ellie, the protagonist, with her fairy tale whims and romanticism. While I never had a Prince Charming like her, I knew the feeling of wanting to have a fairy tale romance, one where I have a set guide for who Prince Charming should be. I know about obsessing about a guy, and I sort of know how it feels to restoring yourself when experiencing a loss.
I have to admit that like Ellie, I think I’d also prefer to have a guy like Don, but I would find someone like Lucas intriguing. Out of my league, but very intriguing. Lucas and Ellie’s development was done gradually, and it was nice to see that it wasn’t a rushed romance — nothing is more disappointing than a rushed romance in a chick lit novel, I swear. Lucas seemed sexy, yet he had a good heart, even if he seemed a bit hard to see. I kind of wish I got to know more of him through the story, but since the story was told in Ellie’s point of view, we only know as much as she does.
Here’s my favorite part (a spoiler, so if you’re reading/planning to read this, skip this!):
“You think you’re funny,” I said ruefully. “I have no idea what my life is going to be like now.”
…”You told me that your life wasn’t all about work. That you had a lot of things you looked forward to when you got out of the office…Then that’s exactly what your life is going to be. You’ve still got your family, your hobbies, your friends, and none of that will change…And I’m probably going to, you know, start calling. Driving you home. Taking you to movies you hate…And then you’ll probably want to introduce me to your mom. Your nephew Dylan will love me because kids like me, and I’ll tell him about my brother’s job and our pirate story, and he’ll just be so attached to me. And then you’ll want me to go to church again, and we’ll probably discuss that at length. But I probably will go to church with you at least once, and it will be in your college church, to erase the memory of what that douche did there.”
Ah Lucas. Where can I find someone like you? ♥ Fairy Tale Fail is a fresh and cute story that’s sure to make you sigh and be kilig. :) ...more
Reread it in preparation for Deadline. I still loved it, it was still as awesome as the first time. But I tell you -- it kind of sucks when you know wReread it in preparation for Deadline. I still loved it, it was still as awesome as the first time. But I tell you -- it kind of sucks when you know what will happen and you can't do anything to stop it. My heart broke again. 3
If you have a copy of this book and you haven't read it yet...well, why haven't you?!READ IT.
It was a normal afternoon at work. My colleagues and I were preparing to attend a required meeting when the boys started discussing their last Left 4 Dead 2 gaming session. I listened to them talk about how hard it was to get through whatever level they were in and how they blasted the zombies in the game, then I interrupted them with a question: “What if a zombie apocalypse actually happens?”
That simple question started a string of discussions about what could happen if zombies actually walk among us, hungry for our brains. We talked about the zombie apocalypse at length and what we would do: where to hide, how to kill zombies effectively, what weapons to use given our location, how to survive, even what to do if one of us were to get infected. Answers drew from sources of zombie wisdom ranging from movies like Zombieland to games like Resident Evil and even Plants vs. Zombies, all discussed with absolute seriousness, as if a zombie invasion was a real possibility.
Spoiler Warning (Nothing major, and the ending remains unspoiled.)
In Mira Grant’s Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy, zombies have become a part of the normal everyday existence. In 2014, cures for the common cold and for cancer were developed, from modifying strains of rhinovirus and filovirus, respectively. These cures were made to attack the original virus and cells that caused the sickness, and then lie dormant in the system until the illness threatened to come back again. It was a joyful breakthrough in the field of medicine, but the scientists couldn't have known was that the combination of these two cures would form an airborne virus that could raise the dead. No one knew when that first mutation occurred, but the new virus spread quickly and soon everyone had acquired it, the virus waiting to be amplified through death or direct fluid contact with any of the infected.
More than two decades later, the virus, dubbed as Kellis-Amberlee remains a threat. Instead of the virus wiping out the entire human population, humans have managed to push back with help from the bloggers who first spread the news of what they call as “The Rising.” While traditional media were hesitant to warn the people of the threat because of government ties and a general policy of denial, bloggers fearlessly reported the news in all parts of the world, sometimes even risking their lives to get the story, and this helped people survive.
Georgia Mason is one of those bloggers. Together with her brother Shaun, and their friend Buffy, they form the main team of news blog "After the End Times." Georgia is a Newsie, a stick-to-the-facts news reporter who believes that everyone deserves to know the truth and nothing but. Shaun, an Irwin (named after the late Steve Irwin), enjoys poking zombies with sticks and chasing them around on camera, and Buffy is a Fictional, providing poetry and stories for their site while double-hatting as their all-around tech girl. The three were selected to join the young Republican Senator Peter Ryman on his presidential campaign, a first in the history of all campaigns since the Rising. Ryman remembered being betrayed by the news because they didn’t do enough to warn the people of the zombie threat, and so he wanted to give bloggers equal standing in his campaign, as a way to thank them. In a career where ratings are everything, this opportunity was the team’s big break, and Georgia, Shaun, and Buffy became instant celebrities in the blogosphere. Just as they were starting to get used to their newfound popularity, the campaign and the Senator's family are attacked. Georgia and her team digs deeper, and soon realize the scale of the conspiracy behind the attacks. Georgia and her team stick to their guns – literally and figuratively – and vow to let the people know the truth, despite the risks.
Feed first caught my eye because of the RSS logo on the cover, done in blood. When you’ve been blogging for so long, it’s hard to miss it when something so familiar is reimagined. When I found out it was about zombies, I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Oh cool!” I’m not really a fan of horror, but I sort of grew up with zombies--er, figuratively speaking. I can still remember the first time I watched my brother play Resident Evil 1, and the horror I felt when I saw the first zombie sequence in the game. After that, I started to have this weird fascination for zombies, and I couldn’t stop watching my brother play the game. I love playing House of the Dead and Plants vs. Zombies whenever I get the chance, and while I never got to watch Night of the Living Dead or other zombie movies (it’s either I’m too chicken to do so, or I just don’t have the time), I’ve watched all Resident Evil movies at least twice. While I've never had the chance use them in any of my novels because of my chosen genre, zombies are also a popular plot device during National Novel Writing Month, and they always come up during plotting exercises. So when I found out about Feed, I knew I just had to have it -- so much that I got myself a Kindle app in my iPod and bought the book since local bookstores don’t carry it yet. Bloggers, a presidential campaign and zombies? I'm in!
Overall, the novel had a video game/movie feel. It’s told from Georgia’s point of view for most of the novel, with blog entries and quotes in between chapters to show her brother’s point of view. Being a Newsie, Georgia loves the facts, and she tells the facts straight out. The post-apocalyptic zombie world was described in so much detail that I felt like I too lived in their world. The level of detail ensured that there was never a “huh?” moment in the book. While this did result in a certain amount of wordiness, I didn’t mind, but other people may – the actual book is 600 pages long, and that can be intimidating. The author, however, makes use of a lot of pop culture references that make it easy for people from our generation to read it. From the names (George as in Romero, Shaun from Shaun of the Dead and Buffy as in the Vampire Slayer), to references to reality TV, social networking and of course, blogging, my inner geek was overjoyed because I could relate. For non-techie readers, worry not: Georgia doesn't delve too much into the actual technical aspects of their systems, so any technical talk stops before it gets too complicated, but there’s enough for the readers to know that they have really cool equipment.
Wordiness aside, Feed was actually quite...well, awesome. It’s a political thriller written over a horror backdrop, where the presence of the zombies was used to compare how the living can still do more damage than the undead. There were only a handful of zombie encounters in the entire novel, but each of the situations felt so real, that it gave the impression that the zombies were everywhere. Mira Grant allows the readers to think that everything is going fine…and then throws a huge curve ball that changes the game. It’s a thrill ride in 600 pages: I was intrigued, elated, shocked, horrified and most of all heartbroken all throughout the story, and…for me, that's what makes a story awesome.
Georgia, Shaun, Buffy and the rest of the characters were a treat to read. I never had a problem distinguishing one voice from another, and even the minor characters have their own quirks to make them memorable. I liked Georgia and Shaun’s relationship as siblings, having each other's back until the end. My favorite character in this book is Buffy, though, and I liked that their fiction department head was also their all-around tech girl. Who says tech-geeks can’t be writers?
My only peeve in the cast of characters in Feed is the villain. I don’t know if years of watching crime shows has made me sharper at figuring out whodunit, or if the villain was really just a stereotypical bad guy, but it was easy to guess who it was. There was little flair in how the bad guy was defeated, too – it would have been more exciting if there was a bigger showdown at the end.
The conclusion, however, was definitely surprising, and quite heartbreaking. It took awhile for me to shake my sense of disbelief over what happened, and I admit: tears were shed. No major spoilers but let me say this: I have never read a novel that ended in this way.
Feed gives us a glimpse of how people in the media live, whether they work in traditional or new media. We’re no strangers to journalists being killed in the field, and Mira Grant effectively shows us how much these people risk their lives just to give us the truth. The people always have the right to know. After all, the truth can set people free. Georgia hit the nail on the head with this line from her blog:
The truth is only scary when you think part of it might be missing…if we didn’t have to fear the truths we didn’t hear, we’d lose the need to fear the ones we did.