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Archive for November 2009

In My Mailbox #3

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren

It features bought, borrowed, or received books from the mail. Isn't it fun?

For this week, my hoards are as follows:


Demonata #5: Blood Beast. Got this from my favourite bookstore and was marked down! It's a hardbound copy and only costs $2.50 [100 PHP]. Who could resist it? Well... I'm still missing books 2-4 but I'll find it eventually.

Book Description from Amazon.com: 
Grubbs Grady has so far escaped the family curse, but when he begins to experience alarming symptoms at the onset of the full moon, he is scared that the jaws of fate are opening and about to swallow him whole.

He has cheated death, defeated demons, moved on with his life. But Grubbs is torn between the world of magic and his wolfen genes. Can he fight the beast inside or will he fall victim to his tainted blood?

Meridon - Philippa Gregory. [now I only need a copy of The Favoured Child to complete the series]
Hardbound copy from the user bookstore, bought at PHP50 [around 1.10 USD!]

Warriors - Into the Wild  by Erin Hunter. Cute children's book that caught my eye! It's about warrior cats! Whee! Who wouldn't love that? I could totally imagine both our cats becoming warrior cats too. And to top it up, I only got a paperback for PHP15 [around 0.25 USD]

Books on the Spotlight # 1

Books on the Spotlight is a monthly event I'm doing to highlight books that I've been reading and would feature reviews in the next few weeks.

For December 2009, the books I hope to complete and post reviews of are as follows:
*all images searched from google images; product descriptions from Amazon.com*

Cleopatra's Daughter - Michelle Moran
 The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters: Octavia, the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra; Livia, Octavian's bitter and jealous wife; Marcellus, Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir apparent; Tiberius, Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for power; and Juba, Octavian’s watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals.
Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place–the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the times. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.

Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and most tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of the past, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling
For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.

Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter's defeat of You-Know-Who was Black's downfall as well. And the Azkban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, "He's at Hogwarts...he's at Hogwarts."

Harry Potter isn't safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants - Ann Brashares
Carmen got the jeans at a thrift shop. They didn't look all that great: they were worn, dirty, and speckled with bleach. On the night before she and her friends part for the summer, Carmen decides to toss them. But Tibby says they're great. She'd love to have them. Lena and Bridget also think they're fabulous. Lena decides that they should all try them on. Whoever they fit best will get them. Nobody knows why, but the pants fit everyone perfectly. Even Carmen (who never thinks she looks good in anything) thinks she looks good in the pants. Over a few bags of cheese puffs, they decide to form a sisterhood and take the vow of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants . . . the next morning, they say good-bye. And then the journey of the pants — and the most memorable summer of their lives — begins.

Book Review: Me and Mr Darcy - Alexandra Potter

29-year old Emily Albright is a manager in an independent bookstore in New York City. After one disastrous date after another, her best friend decides to book her on an 18-30 tour in Mexico in order to meet new guys. But Emily, determined to escape that Mexico tour, booked herself a Jane Austen book tour in England.

However, the book tour is not what it seems: it's filled with pensioners, except for one journalist named Spike, who goes about interviewing people about why they think Mr. Darcy is the ideal man.

Until one day, during the tour, Emily meets the real Mr. Darcy.

Hmm... Initially, I thought "Okay. This seems like an interesting book to read." It is a chick lit that deals with a Pride and Prejudice character -- Mr Darcy. I got it from BookMooch and read it as part of our October Book Club, where we have to read Pride & Prejudice and an offshoot book.

Anyway, lets now go on to my thoughts. First off, I really got confused with the story. Seriously. I had a few moments where I would scratch my head and go "What happened?" and "How did that happen?" Especially in parts where Mr. Darcy would magically appear out of nowhere.

Granted, there were dragging parts every now and again, but some parts were just sooo boring and full of useless details [at least for me], that I had to force myself to go read the next few pages of the book.

Character-wise, Emiy is portrayed as a romantic, idealistic girl, who had no fashion sense whatsoever. But the way the author described how she packed her things as she was leaving New York for London seemed unreal. I mean, packing a lot of books instead of clothes? Come on! That is so unreal. Bookworms usually pack around 3-5 books per trip and if they need to read some more during the trip, they head off to the airport bookstore or any other bookstore they could get their hands on, not pack everything that they have in the closet.
As for Spike, well, he was inconsistently described in the book. He's blonde and a bit dishevelled, but you don't have to go bashing him about saying he's got a potbelly or something.

There's also some characters that don't need to play a supporting role but is wildly described in the story. I don't need that much information, right?

Location-wise, I think it was well-researched, as the places described in the book are existing and do tie up to what is in Jane Austen's novels and/or screen adaptations! I know because I googled them myself too. :) Classic example: Sham Castle in Bath! I've been to Bath [well, for only a few hours] but never knew there was a Sham Castle that existed in the first place!! However, one thing that isn't feasible? The coach picking up all the tour participants in the airport. Of all the tours I've known, they normally pick up the people in their respective hotels or at a bus stop! It isn't feasible to be in an airport!

Plot-wise, It lacks originality. There are some parts which were just a modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice, albeit different circumstances, character names, and jobs. It does have some fantasy elements in it though [what with Mr. Darcy popping up every now and again and blank pages of a book] but definitely not enough to capture my attention.

Overall, I'm a bit torn on whether I liked the book or not, so I'll probably give this a rating of 2.25/5.
I'm surprised that for a chick lit book, the heroine was not funny enough for me, and the scenes between the hero and heroine lacked to give me that fluttery feeling in my stomach that I get whenever there were sweet and cute moments happening between them.

Oh, also don't be surprised that some of the spellings are different -- the author is based in the UK.

Read it if you're a Pride & Prejudice fan who wants to read the story told in a modern point of view, who wants to have a feel of how it would be like to have Mr. Darcy pop up in the modern view, and well, just want to read a chick lit book.

Book Details:
Published: 2007
Source: Bookmooch.
Final Rating: 2.25/5

In My Mailbox # 2

I'm on a roll!

Last Saturday, I was at the mall near the concert grounds where Katy Perry would have her concert.
Of course I had to stop by my favourite used bookstore chain to see if there was anything worth getting.
I did end up with one book. Then a friend of mine sent me a text message as I was walking to the concert grounds, she said that there was a 20% off sale at one bookstore in a mall on the other side of town.
I so wanted to get the Luxe Box set and with a 20% off incentive,I had to ask my friend to get it for me!

So, for this week, here are my buys:

The Luxe Box Set [actual photo not available since the books are still with my friend and I'm only gonna get them on the 28th when we meet up for a quick catchup! :) ]

Product Description from Amazon.com
Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan's social scene. But when the girls discover their status among New York City's elite is far from secure, suddenly everyone—from the backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud—threatens Elizabeth's and Diana's golden future.

The first three delicious novels in the Luxe series introduce a world of luxury and deception, where nothing is more dangerous than a scandal or more precious than a secret. . . .

And, from the used bookstore, there's Sweep # 2: The Coven by Cate Tiernan
Product Description from Amazon.com
Cal, now Morgan’s boyfriend, helps her accept the truth: Wicca is in Morgan’s blood. As Morgan learns more about Wicca, she realizes that she needs to find out more about her parentage. The answers are there, but she doesn’t know how to find them.

That's it for now :) More reading ahead!

Kissing Games Of the World Winners!!

Apologies for not announcing the winner earlier. I've just been swamped with work! *phew*

Anyway, using the help of a random line picker, http://mytexttools.com/Random-Line-Picker.html I finally got to choose the three winners of Kissing Games of the World by Sandi Kahn Shelton

Congratulations guys! I'll send you an email in the next 24-48 hours to get your details :)

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New Releases vs Older Releases

Just a passing note from me-- I've been noticing that most book blogs concentrate on new books being released. Granted, some of them are lucky enough to get Advanced Reader Copies [ARCs] or finished copies from authors or publishers, and some of them do tend to buy new books more often than the older releases.

Which leads me to the question: do you prefer reading new releases [ie books released just this year] or do you prefer reading older releases?

In my case, I prefer reading the older releases. Why? Well, because I love finding older releases on sale in used bookstores! Plus, I get to buy them for more than half the price that's way cheaper than the ones that are still brand-new. To be honest, books are just part of a huge set of addictions that I have so I tend to find something that will entertain me at the lowest cost I could possibly get. Meaning, I don't really buy every book I buy full price [unless I really, really, really, really want to read that certain book.] Plus, these used books have a lot of character in it.

My fascination with older releases is that I get to review books that other people have long forgotten or not have taken a good look at when they were first released. What, with all the hype regarding the new ones, someone has got to review the older ones, right?

That's just my two cents for now.
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In My Mailbox #1

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Granted I don't buy nor receive too many books in my mail, I'll only post In My Mailbox posts whenever I get or buy a book or two :)

So, for this week, I got a lovely package containing "Green" by Ted Dekker from Thomas Nelson for review.

Product Overview from Amazon.com:
AS FORETOLD BY ANCIENT PROPHETS, an apocalypse destroyed Earth during the twenty-first century. But two thousand years later Elyon set upon the earth a new Adam. This time, however, He gave humanity an advantage. What was once unseen became seen. It was good and it was called...Green.

But the evil Teeleh bided his time in a Black Forest.

Then, when least expected, a twenty-four year old named Thomas Hunter fell asleep in our world and woke up in that future Black Forest. A gateway was opened for Teeleh to ravage the land. Devastated by the ruin, Thomas Hunter and his Circle swore to fight the dark scourge until their dying breath.

But now The Circle has lost hope. Samuel, Thomas Hunter's cherished son, has turned his back on his father. He gathers the dark forces to wage a final war. Thomas is crushed and desperately seeks a way back to our reality to find the one elusive hope that could save them all.

Enter an apocalyptic story like none you have read. A story with links to our own history so shocking that you will forget you are in another world at all. Welcome to GREEN. Book Zero.


Cleopatra's Daughter - A Virtual Tour Part I

I'm LOVING this book. Seriously. It opened my eyes up to the world of Ancient Egypt like it never had.
Granted, I'd always been biased to British history and literary figures but this book has blown me away.
Though it does have it's ups and downs [more of which I'll post when I've finished reading the book, I'm about 1/3 there], I constantly have to google and research to create a visual interpretation of what Michelle Moran was saying in the book.

So, hence, for myself [and any others who might be interested in Ancient Egypt], I created a virtual tour and guide of the times as based from the book of Michelle Moran. Well, mostly I did it to avoid having to google everything again, so I'll just post everything I come up here and credit as necessary. And basically I just want the readers of my blog to appreciate the same things I did whilst I was reading the book!

No spoilers below! But if I do slip, let me know in the comments so I could update this post!

First up, who are these characters from the Hellenistic Egypt times? Well, there's Kleopatra Selene. As per the book, she is the only daughter of Marc Antony and Kleopatra VII.
[Photo on the left from http://www.bible-history.com/] The book is told from her point of view [hence the title "Cleopatra's Daughter". No, it's not about the famous Cleopatra VII talking about her daughter] She was only 11 when her mother and father committed suicide when their empire was falling against Octavian's forces. [Previous sentence is not a spoiler because everyone pretty much knows that they killed themselves -- its part of Ancient History!]

She has a twin brother, Alexander Helios, whom I can't find a decent portraiture on the internet right now, who is more level-headed and is an excellent horseman like his father.

She also has a younger brother, Ptolemy Philadelphius, described to look a lot like Marc Antony [now, I really have to look for photos of Marc Antony!!! Is he that much of a looker? Really?? I couldn't imagine although the bust pieces of him from the museums kinda look interesting -- he's got wavy [or curly] blonde hair, doesn't he?]

Anyways, the book was initially set in Alexandria, where Selene was recounting how lovely the place was. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was located there: The Lighthouse of Alexandria, to which Selene has drawn many wonderful views of the city [painting by Salvador Dali on right].

 Alexandria is on the top of Egypt, it is also known for their sea ports and was the capital of Egypt. Alexander the Great had founded this city when he conquered Egypt!

This city is also known for the Library of Alexandria, it was also stated in the book that it's filled with thousands of scrolls and Selene and Alexander loved to read through them. The book also describes the mausoleum of Antony and Kleopatra, and I would've loved to see the mausoleum as well as the Library of Alexandria and the Lighthouse, but unfortunately, they're all destroyed now :( Well, who would've thought it would survive after 2000 years [except for the pyramids of course]

My, my, who would've ever thought that people in those days would ever think that their works and legacy would still live 2000 or more years on?? Hopefully I would love to make at least a tiny bit of impact to the world as much as they did.

I left out my notes at home so I'll create a virtual tour part II when I come up with more interesting bits and bobs. I'm at the part where Kleopatra and Alexander are already seeing the sights and structures of Rome, so the next part would probably be longer than this!

Hope you enjoyed :) I'd already included Alexandria as one of my places to visit in my goal to see the world!

Monobooking vs Polybooking

Not even sure if there are "monobooking" or "polybooking" in the dictionary or anywhere else in general, but in theory, monobooking means reading only one book at a time, whilst polybooking means reading two or more books at one time.

I've realized over the past few days that I am at a loss at what to blog about. After Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone, I haven't finished a book yet out of the many I've started to read. Granted, for the past week, I've done a million other errands at home and month-end work had just finished so I had no work-life balance at all during the past five days, only got to sleep, eat, get ready for work, and read for 45 minutes to an hour each day on my way to and from work. Ah. The downsides of month-end. But then again, that's really no excuse.

I figure that the reason why I'm really slow in reading books nowadays is that I've started so many books at once! For now, my current reading list is 9 books! Gah. Blame the up and down depression of my past week, I was at a loss of what to read and I wound up jumping from one book to the other when I don't feel like reading the subject anymore.

I've also got a weird habit where there's some books where I absolutely refuse to take out of my room[blame paranoia-- I can't stand the thought of that book being spilled on by water or juice if I brought it in the kitchen, of it being sat on when I bring it in the living room], whilst there are other books that I separate to bring out of the house and swap on bookmooch after I've finished reading. Weird, weird me.

Anyway, I've also got to thinking if any of you lot read one book at a time or read two or more books at any given time? Why do you want to monobook? Why would you prefer to polybook?
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Book One of Seven in the Harry Potter Series.

Harry Potter was an orphan, living in a cupboard under the stairs with his Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and cousin Dudley. His life is pretty much boring, with not much privileges. Until one day, on his 11th birthday, a letter arrived at #4 Privet Drive, an invitation to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Then harry realizes he is not an ordinary boy. He is quite known in the wizarding world as the boy who defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named [Voldemort], and also became the youngest seeker for Griffindor in a century.

On his first year at Hogwarts, Harry is exposed to the Sorcerer's Stone - a stone that produces an elixr that can bring eternal life, and also has the capability to create gold. With new friends Ron and Hermione, Harry is thrust in a new adventure on their quest to find out who wanted to steal and usethe Sorcerer's Stone.

I have to stop my makeshift summary there as I don't really want to give away any spoilers.

I first read this book way back in 1999, when I was still a sophomore in high school. When I tweeted that I was reading this book, many of my friends asked why I was reading this book again when this is the third [or fourth? I've lost count]. Well, I wanted to read it as part of the Harry Potter Reading Challenge as hosted by GalleySmith. In the challenge, we're asked to read all 7 Harry Potter books and this is the first step!

Anyway, my review of the book.

I've always liked Harry Potter. The way JK Rowling wrote the story was so believable, you'd want to be transported to Hogwarts! The plotline was so cleverly constructed, and as I was first reading Sorcerer's Stone, I totally believed that Snape was the one after the Stone [although he was the Red Herring.... I was ignorant back then :P]

Do read the series if you haven't -- the movie is loyal to the book, although the book has far more details, which could explain some underlying questions that you might encounter in the movie.

Back when I was in London, I did a really quick Harry Potter tour by going to "Diagon Alley" [Leadenhall Market] and Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross. I will probably post that adventure up in one of my travel-related blogs. Haha. The experience of pretending to "push" the cart through the wall in Platform 9 3/4: Priceless.

Also got to Oxford where the Great Hall scenes were shot. I could just imagine being part of Slytherin or Ravenclaw or Griffindor or Hufflepuff and being excited of waving my wand and learning new tricks!

Overall, I'd give this book 4.5/5! :) It sure was a good fantasy book, and I can't wait to re-read the rest of the series.

My copy: A paperback, bought at National Bookstore way back in 1999 for P189.50 [around $4.50 in the current conversion]. The spines are creased, the pages are brown, but still something to keep in the personal library.

New layout

As you can see everyone, I've got a new layout. Yay! So happy about this :) Hope you do to -- With the two sidebars, everything is so much more organized!

I do apologise for losing the quick links and the books I'm reading on the side of the page but I'll try to get it up within a few days.

Work has been hectic for me, but so far I've read Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone, the review of which I'll post within the next few days also [after I've finished editing the layout and trying to recover my lost widgets]

What to do in a blackout?

So, there was another storm that passed through Manila yesterday [Mirinae], and we've had a blackout for nearly 30+ hours.

And I got to thinking... what do you do when there's a blackout?

For me, I did the following:
- In the morning, while there was still light, I read! I made significant progress on "Cleopatra's Daughter" by Michelle Moran.
- I ate, ate and ate. I think I must've gained a few pounds.
- In the evening, I had at least 90%+ of battery life on my laptop -- I watched an episode of The Vampire Diaries and got to move a few files to my mobile phone before the laptop batteries' died out. My laptop is 6years old so the battery isn't exactly the best quality anymore.
- In the latter part of the evening [after eating dinner and helping to clean the dishes], I listened to some audiobooks.

So now, I've got another problem.

I think I've broken my universal remote control!
So, without any tv or dvd, what would you do? I need suggestions until I could get myself another universal remote control.
I'm thinking the following:
1. Read some more
2. Finish the scrapbook projects I have
3. Surf the internet [no matter how slow my connection is -- my WiFi says I'm only at GPRS speed]
4. Watch telly series on my PC.
5. Continue watching the telly but resort to the good old fashioned channel changing by getting my bum off the bed and manually pressing the channel + and channel - buttons.

Good enough? :)
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Book Chick City Contest!!

BookChickCity.com is giving away a bundle of books! :)

Head on over to her site now to enter:

I'll post a regular blog in a few hours -- we've just gotten power from a blackout from the storm and spent a few hours trying to catch up on reading, charging batteries, and cleaning the house!
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