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Archive for 2010

2010 Wrap-Up: Books/Reading Related

I planned to do two 2010 wrap-ups: one for a book-related and one for an overall personal post.

So, in line for the beest and worst discussion of my book club for 2010, let me present my bookish highlights for 2010!

Some Awesome Things that Happened:



Best Books Read for 2010:

Disappointing Reads for 2010:



Book with the best cover [that I read for 2010]:

  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I was not too impressed by the writing style, but dang, the cover is absolutely gorgeous! The one I borrowed from my friend has a holographic effect to it. It's tooo pretty!!
Bring on 2011!! :)


I got featured on an author's site! =)

Whee!

I reviewed Death By Garrote last December 28th and lo and behold, some friends from my book club, Flips Flipping Pages, informed me that Mr. Ambeth Ocampo shared a link to this blog on his Facebook site!

I was squeeing in happiness.  Lookie! Lookie!


Aahh... what a way to end 2010! :)

[Review] Death By Garrote by Ambeth Ocampo

Death by Garrote is the third book in the Looking Back series by Ambeth Ocampo. But not to worry, you don't need to buy Looking Back 1 and 2 before you appreciate Looking Back 3. They are all standalone books which comprise of a series of editorial articles that Ambeth Ocampo wrote for the Philippine Daily Inquirer which revolve around Philippine history. These articles do not necessarily just delve in the heroes of the past, but also of various foods, establishments, and so much more!

I was introduced in the Looking Back series when I was at Ambeth Ocampo's talk at the Ayala Museum last August 14th, 2010. I bought a copy of Looking Back 2 to have signed, and was instantly hooked!

What I absolutely loved about the Looking Back series is that they provide short glimpses of Philippine History without being too boring! They were written in such a way that is entertaining, informative, and fun! Unlike some of the other history books I read when I was younger [flashback of my Araling Panlipunan days back in high school where I fall asleep], this book would definitely interest you in Philippine history. I know it peaked my interest, and yes, I was also insistent on peaking my mom's interest that I kept badgering her with some questions about who was the president during her time, the food she ate, what it was like strolling through Quiapo and Sta. Cruz and how they compare to today. Okay, back to the book. I also loved that some old photos were incorporated in the book. Something that is very difficult to find now.

I learned while reading that these articles was researched thoroughly by the author, and maybe someday someone would browse through his notes and make a living out of his research [Hmm.... I may have to find those notes and trawl through them]. And yes, that particular note made me want to stand up from my seat and go directly to the Lopez Memorial Museum in Ortigas, and the dumdum in me initially did not know where it was until the wonder that is Google pointed me in the right direction. [Note: Rosie, if you are reading this, please can we go there on our historical tour this 2011?]

Oh, another noteworthy thing about the books, the title of Looking Back 2 and 3 is already an overview of the first few articles presented. In Looking Back 2, it was about Mabini's dancing [could you ever imagine, our most precious hero, dancing? Normally we just associate him with his wheelchair], and in Looking Back 3, it was all about the garrote. [Another note: Frankly, I also never knew what a garrote was. Uh.. dumdum moment again!! Thanks again to Google and this book to erase the stupid factor in me].

Can I just say - when is the next book out?? At 100 pages, it is enough to leave you hanging and wanting more. So, while there are no books out yet, you can discover some of the other Ambeth Ocampo books available in the local bookstores. 

So, overall, this is a must read book. You may not be a history buff to appreciate all the articles, but maybe after reading this, you'll get to learn more about Philippine history and look at our heroes and past differently.

Published: 2010
Available From: All local bookstores! [I checked National Bookstore & Powerbooks and they already have a copy of this. Not sure about Fully Booked but I'm sure they have this also]
Publisher: Anvil Publishing
Book was: Provided by Anvil Publishing for review. Many thanks also for Gege and Honey for offering :) 
Read it if: You want to know more about Philippine history. I know, I would!
Rating: I loved it, one of my favourite reads of the year [5/5]

Merry Christmas!

It's that time of the year to give and receive gifts and spend time with loved ones!
I just wanted to greet you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday! :)

The blog may be inactive until the 27th as I have been going to a few parties here and there, and haven't had time to blog much, let alone read. Plus, the evil that is the Sims 3 keeps me away from my other interests =)


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[Review] Percy Jackson & The Olympians - The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

It was just the beginning of summer and Percy, Annabeth and Thalia were out to help Grover, as he was trying to protect two new half-bloods, Bianca and Nico. As they go through their adventure, a manticor suddenly attacks, and Annabeth falls off a cliff. What comes next is a quest to save Artemis and Annabeth, and find out what is brewing in the Titan's camp, as the prophecy about the hero who may bring down the gods looms nearer.

I am loving this book!! It's quite different from the Sea of Monsters, where I know the basic plot of the story so its a breath of fresh air for me. Here, I meet the warriors of Artemis, and the gods that had no direct interaction with Percy on the previous books: Artemis, Apollo, Athena, Aphrodite, and Hephaestus. I'm loving the new characters too: the Ophiotaurus, and the Pegasus Blackjack, Porpie and Guido!

Although I'm not used to not having Annabeth around in the story, it is quite amusing to read about Percy trying to battle his feelings about her. Awww... it looks like he's growing up and likes Annabeth as more than a friend. It's amazing also how these new characters got injected in the book, which a part of my mind was saying "are they part of the Heroes of Olympus spinoff book?" Although there were certain elements in the story that I guessed easily [Atlas, for example], it is a fun and entertaining read as well. There may be some new characters and scenarios that are a bit hard to follow at times, but I guess they would all form a part of the final two books that would ultimately conclude in Percy's choice when faced with the prophecy. Oooooh.

I can't provide much thought on this book without giving too many spoilers, so I'd better wrap this up now.

Published: 2007
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Book was: Borrowed from a friend
Read it if: You want to continue the tale of Percy. This is the middle book, by the way
Rating: I liked it! [4/5]

[Review] The 39 Clues: One False Note by Gordon Korman

The 39 Clues: One False Note follows immediately after Dan and Amy had discovered the clue that would lead them to Vienna. In this book, they face off with the other teams as they try to outwit them and find more ways to get more clues given their limited resources.

I find that the second book is not as interesting as the first one. Don't get me wrong, maybe I'm just trying to get used to the writing style of this author, as it is quite different from Rick Riordan. There were some parts of the story that were boring, and predictable. I knew they would happen and what would happen before I even finished reading that particular chapter, would you believe? Also, the darker side of the Cahills are showing in this book - they would steal and make cunning efforts to try and get to the next clue, however, I guess they have to do that as they are obviously the underdogs, only relying on wits and information that Grace may have passed on to them. Thankfully the book picked up near the end, as they were in Venice and in Vienna. Those parts, I can't literally put the book down. Hmm... both cities, I would definitely add to my to-travel list.

One thing I can't take was how the other characters/teams seem to be non-existent in the book. Where was Irina, where were the Holts, what happened to Jonah after he had lost Amy and Dan during the chase? There were quite a lot of loose ends and I am not quite happy about that.

What surprised me about the tale was how Marie-Antoinette was included in the book. Oh, you'll have to read it how she was involved, but she is all right. One thing about the 39 Clues is that they mix historical facts to the storytelling, which I guess from what I read in a press release before was a goal of the publisher - to make kids love learning about history as they read the books. And I totally agree, since I can't help but research some of the facts and places mentioned in the book to add to my own general knowledge.

I can't wait to pick up the next book - it is currently in my TBR list, and although book 2 disappointed me for a bit, here's hoping that book 3 won't!
Published: 2008
Publisher: Scholastic
Book was: Borrowed from a friend
Read it if: You want to continue the story as outlined from book 1
Rating: It could get better! [3/5]

Everyone needs minty fresh breath, right?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Toms of Maine. All opinions are 100% mine.

Another personal post for me, and this time, as per the header, it is a sponsored post and was compensated to write this but all opinions, insights, and anything under the sun is mine.

Living in the third world can have its limitations - of course, some products being offered in the US cannot be bought directly here. But hey, that's what my relatives are for! Anyway, this post is about Tom's Of Maine - a company that provides personal hygiene products, which everyone needs! I honestly have not tried their products yet but they do look promising. I have checked on the ingredients of their toothpaste [something that not all companies provide] and they offer peppermint flavoured toothpaste - I love peppermint!

After brushing your teeth, it's now time to use some mouthwash. Oh yes, additional freshness too. That way, you could have a wicked fresh moment with some friends, family members or loved ones, and have the chance to chat with them all day and not have to worry about your breath stinking. That would be so embarrassing.

So, to discover what Tom's Of Maine has more to offer, you could follow them on Twitter @TomsofMaine, or Like their page on Facebook. Other than being updated with the latest news about the company, you could also join the That's Wicked Fresh contest page. Just share a Wicked Fresh moment, experience, or discovery by tweeting using the contest page, and you might just win a $500 Target gift card.

 

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Okay, I caved in and all self control went out the window

This morning, I was searching through http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/ and saw that my well-wished for book is still available on stock.

After watching their youtube video performance of Never Forget with Robbie at Children in Need, I went out of my mind and pondered if I would really, really, really want to get a copy of this book.

And I did, BUT after I consulted a few websites.

Checked http://www.amazon.co.uk/ and the book is out of stock, checked http://www.asda.co.uk/ and its also out of stock - http://www.play.co.uk/ is also out of stock. Oh.My.Gosh. I definitely, definitely should get this book now!!!


And then I filled myself with thoughts and explanations on why I would get the book:
1. It's sold out in all the UK websites I'm expecting it to- I need this book NOW!
2. It's a collectors item
3. It's a book about one of my favourite bands, enough said!
4. Maybe one day I'll get the band members to sign the book when I stalk them somewhere
5. It's a book.
Aaaahh.. .So now the debate continues if I'll get the other book [as photographed on the side]

But somehow it's not as good as the Take Two book, given that the photographs here are not as recent....

BUT.... these are photos with Robbie! Aaaahh..

Dillemma.

And no, I did not think of the price. The Take Two book is much too bloody expensive for me, and is enough to buy me two hardbound books here in Manila. But all the logic went out the window already!


Have you guys ever experienced the same way that I felt? Trying to justify your purchase even though it's way out of your budget??

[Travel] The Inconveniences of Travel.

Since I am absolutely tired and cranky most of the time this month, I decided to do a little personal post about the inconveniences of travel. Don't get me wrong, I adore traveling the world: seenig new places, and enriching my knowledge, but there's just some annnoying factors about travel.

Everyday, I travel around 30km from my house in the suburbs to my office. A few years ago, when I first started going to university and traveling the same distance, it used to take me only an hour and a half and I'm home! Well, that was when I used to come home in the afternoon and if there was traffic, there's always the sun to help me out while I read some notes or a book as part of my homework or just to relax myself. Fast forward to now and I am averaging nearly 2hours just to get to work! And so it takes me 4 freaking hours daily just to get to and from work. Why? Because of the traffic, that's why! Gah. In my daily travel, I can go to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur by plane! On a weekly basis, I can go one-way to Europe or to the US West Coast!

*Sigh* Living in a third world country where the traffic is horrible and the transportation system is unreliable sure is annoying and frustrating but I can't really do much about it since duh, I do live here.

So, what do I normally do to make the most out of that time I've spent stuck in traffic?
If it's the morning or afternoon [whatever, as long as the sun is still out], I read. It's an excellent way to make some more book reviews to feature on this site, and well, it provides me with additional information too on where I could go travel next, or just get factoids of stuff.

In the evening, I listen to audiobooks. It's just like reading a book only someone reads the book for you.

Other things you could do whilst stuck in traffic:
1. Sleep. Not highly recommended if you've got a really expensive gadget in your bag or you've got something to lose. Just exercise sleeping in a public utility vehicle with caution.
2. Read. It's worth it. See my reasons above why.
3. Write. Sometimes, I write stuff on my journal or make lists of things I need to do. It is definitely a time saver.
4. Watch. Entertain yourself by watching downloaded shows or even tv on your mobile, iPod or other gadget. I wouldn't do this whilst living in a third world country as you may be mugged. Do this with caution!
5. Meditate. Talk to God, or just think of things you need to do, or just close your eyes and shut off the world for a moment. It's a very relaxing thing to do.
6. Talk to your friends/family. Either by text or by calling them, it sure is an easy way to pass the time.
7. Chat up the person you're sitting with. I'm not necessarily a nice person to strangers, but to each their own.
8. Eat. It's a good time to eat dinner, as long as you don't spill anything on yourself or the person you're sitting next to.
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[Review] The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

Dan and Amy Cahill's are orphans, and their grandmother just died. When the will was being read, they were faced with a choice that would change their lives: take their 1million dollar inheritance or embark on a search for the 39 clues, which would make them the most powerful people in the world. Dan and Amy took their first clue, burning their voucher for the money and realized that their relatives, whom they never knew existed, are much more interesting and dangerous in the world!

So, this is the first of the 10 book series. This is a great prelude to what might happen in the other 9 books which would take Dan and Amy around the world! The destination in this first book: Philadelphia and on to Paris!

I love the clues and the descriptions of the places. As my friend told me, "It's like Da Vinci Code, but for kids!" And I totally agree with her comment there! It is highly thought of, and yes, I admit that I spent some time thinking of what might happen next to Dan and Amy. It's just a bit hard not to spoil myself by turning the page to the middle and the last part of the book to see if my theories are correct! What's amazing also is that the book has these cards included. You log on to their website, http://www.the39clues.com/ and solve some of the puzzles that Dan and Amy encountered too! Brilliant, right? I think I read from a press release that this was done to entice more young readers to pick up books so I guess this is now the age of interactive book reading! Hmm.. I totally agree. The new generation of kids now have much smaller attention spans compared to when I was younger!

So, I'm not too keen on the death, the blackmail and the threatening each other part to get the clues, but then again, it's all part of their game and what makes the book more interesting. Good enough then. And can I just say that I <3 the title of the book??? I never even expected what it meant until I read the explanation in the book! Gah! How could Amy have solved it and I haven't?? Also, I do adore Dan and Amy - they both have their own specialties to add to the hunt. Dan is a math whiz and obviously can memorize vast amounts of information in a short span of time, whilst Amy is the bookworm and takes care of the history and geography part! Ahhh the perfect tag team!

Would I be reading all 10 books? Yes! Yes! Yes! I already have books 2-6 with me too, all happily borrowed from one of my closest bookish friends! And yes, I am playing the game too - I am in Ekaterina!


Published: 2008
Publisher: Scholastic
Book was: Borrowed from a friend
Read it if: You want an adventure story that's much like the Da Vinci Code [but for the YA market]
Rating: I loved it! [5/5]

[Review] Adventures of Rusty and Ginger Fox by Tim Ostermeyer

The Adventures of Rusty & Ginger Fox is a children's picture book that tell the tale of two fox pups as they explore the forest, learning about new creatures. There is also a tiny mystery tale in the end where the fox stumble upon a hidden treasure!

So, anyway, a brief back story. When I got the pitch to review the book, I squealed because it was cute! And when i finally got the book from the post office, here it was, in fully glory and read it as soon as I opened the package. Then again, I would have read it sooner had I not come home from work late after a Christmas party.



Packed with photos of wildlife, the book is one of the cutest things ever! The author is also the photographer of the stunning photos you'll see in the book. It must have taken him hours and hours and hours of waiting just to get that perfect shot! What I do adore about this book is that the photos do tie up to the narration in the book. However, I would have preferred if the author has worded the narration in rhymes or rhythmic syllables so the little ones would appreciate the story more. Oh, and myself included. I guess it would help me remember the whole book if it was rhymed! Not sure if the copy I got is an arc or the finished copy but I found a misspelled word and a grammatical error but no worries - maybe it would be fixed in the future books to be released by the author!

Rusty and Ginger and their new friends are just so cute, you have to get this book and see it for yourself! I also love the fun facts on the side of the pages about the animals and even humans! Of course, any additional information on some of our furry friends is a big plus for me!

Published: 2010
Publisher: Synergy Books
Book was: Provided by the publicist for review. Thank you =)
Read it if: you adore nature, animals, and children's picture books!
Rating: I absolutely loved it! [5/5]

[Travel] Symphony of Parols at the Ayala Triangle

'Tis the season to be merry! And just when our office has moved from Ayala to the other side, Ayala Triangle has been "refurbished" in a way. What once was a jungle in the middle of the CBD, it has now become a park for everyone to enjoy.

So, this Yuletide, the Ayala group has launched the Symphony of Parols - a light & sound show every weekday from 6-8pm, where the shows last for 5 minutes, and there are shows every 30 minutes.


So, what can you expect? It is a breathtaking experience - just stand up a few feet away from the center and watch the christmas lights dance in time to the music blasting from speakers surrounding the area. I absolutely loved the show - my friend was able to video the whole thing, and yes, very much worth going to Ayala just to see the lights. I played around with my camera effects a bit, and had  a bit of a photoshoot with my friends! Yes, it's that good!

You can also hang around at the belen in front of Tower One. Aaah... Ayala in the evening is such an excellent place to be in! After you've had your photos with the belen, you could go directly to Rustans and have photos in front of the exquisitely designed windows of the store. It has that Saks Fifth Avenue store window feeling - one that I would absolutely love to see in the future!

When's the best time to come? Well, anytime between 6-7:30 so you could get an excellent view!

After the show, you could also eat at some of the newly opened restaurants there such as Wee Nam Kee and Bon Chon.

Note though - if you plan to eat at Bon Chon, it's going to take forever!! So make sure you're not that hungry yet. And they are a fast food restaurant. So if you can't find a seat, you'll have to do a picnic outside! =p

Tag : ,

[Review] City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

The second book of the Mortal Instruments series. In this second installment, Clary and Jace are now coming to grips that they are related to each other, and would they still continue their forbidden love? Valentine is back and has stolen yet another Mortal Instrument,  which he would use to summon Demons, thereby killing a child from every Downworlder race. Jace, Clary, and the gang have set out trying to stop Valentine, but would they be successful in doing so? And would Clary's mother finally wake up?

Thoughts: This book is much better written than the first book, where I got all confused. The narration is now more fluid, and it looks like what would happen next in the book are well-thought of [well, maybe the first two parts, the third part bored me a bit]. However, I do have a comment: I got confused with the names of the Seraph Blades. Why in the world would there be so much names? Honestly, I don't think it plays such a huge part in the story, it just adds to the confusion.

I noticed that this book has a lot of similarities to the Potter books too, given that this was written by someone who used to write Potter fanfiction. In the latter part of the book, the author also wrote something about Dumbledore: "Who would win in a fight? Dumbledore or Magnus bane?" "Dumbledore, because he's got that wicked killing curse." "But Dumbledore isn't real!"

Okay, other similarities:
The stele & the wand
The Inquisitor [Imogen] & Umbridge -- both horrible and annoying characters
A two-way mirror - the one Jace used to see Idris, whilst the one Sirius gave Harry to communicate with him before he was killed
The quest of both Valentine & Voldemort for a pureblood race, killing everyone who doesn't want to side with him
The Circle and the Death-Eaters
Mundanes & muggles
Agramon & the Boggart - where they shape shift to whatever you fear the most. I mean, come on! Waay too many ideas lifted from the Potter books. It could have been a coincidence but *shrug*

Can I just say I do adore Simon? He probably is one of the best characters in the book, and I loathe Clary, as much as I loathed Bella from the Twilight novels. THey are both whiny, helpless little girls who can't stand up for themselves. Argh.

My favourite character though is Luke -- he seemed like such a cool dad and would do anything for Clary's mum!

Would I read other books by Cassandra Clare? Yes, if I could find a friend who has the books and willing to lend a copy to me. I'm not sure I'd buy her books but maybe if I encounter something from the bargain bin.

So, on to the summary then.

Published:
2009
Publisher: Walker Books
Book was: Borrowed from a friend
Read it if: you want to find out what happens to Clary after reading book 1.
Rating: It was okay. [3.5/5]

Book Challenges: Mystery & Thriller from Book Chick City

It's nearly 2011 so it's time to sign up for a few more challenges!

This time, I've enlisted on to Book Chick City's Mystery & Thriller challenge - minimum number of books to read for 2011 is 2 books [yay, just enough for me], and maximum has no limit!


So, to aide us on what constitutes the mystery and thriller challenge, BCC has posted a list of sub-categories here: http://www.bookchickcity.com/2009/06/sub-genres-for-thriller-suspense.html

Since I'm trying to read all the Sherlock Holmes stories, I guess this book series counts!

Oh, as an incentive, Simon & Schuster UK are sponsoring this event and would provide ARCs of The Survivor by Sean Slater for everyone who signs up! So, all the more reason for you guys to sign up too! :)

Who says reading and book challenges can't be fun?

Dear Secret Santa

So we have this secret santa gift giving at the office and the final event for our Christmas party would be a Christmas wishlist! So, without further adeu, I am listing down a list of things I would like to receive for this Christmas :) So, Secret Santa mummy or daddy, if you're reading this, this would serve as your guide!


Travel Related:
1. Pledges for my travels please -- monetary values are more than welcome :) I need this to purchase more plane tickets on sale or for my pocket money!
2. A set of aqua shoes/socks -- for a nature trip to Palawan and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia in 2011.
3. A set of hiking sandals -- for a nature trip to Palawan and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia in 2011.
4. Hotel vouchers abroad or anywhere in the Philippines [except Manila]!
5. A North Face backpack that I can use for handcarry luggage and for backpacking around Asia/Europe/America/Australia in the future.


Book Related:
1. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl -- because I love YA and paranormal books
2. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris -- such a cute concept! And I <3 animals too, so there.
3. The Guardians of Ga'Hoole set by Kathryn Lasky. All books, because I love these owlsies.
4. The TinTin books - by Herge. Because my auntie gave some books to me when I was younger and I want to collect these!
5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. Another YA Paranormal find.
6. Elixir by Hilary Duff. Well, I used to like Hilary Duff when I was younger and I want to read her book.
7. Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling. I'm such a loser. I'm hoping for a cheap copy of this to come out but I haven't found one yet!!
8. Soulless by Gail Carriger. Victorian London & Vampires - what more could I ask for?
9. Halo by Alexandra Adornetto. The cover is perfect, and what drew me to the book in the first place
10. Gone by Lisa McMann. Because the plot seems amazing.

[Review] Nola's Worlds # 1: Changing Moon by Mathieu Mariolle

Ilustrated by MiniKim and coloured by Pop. Nola's Worlds # 1 follows the life of Nola York-Stein. Her age isn't specifically said in the book, but looks like she is a tween or a teenager. She lives mostly alone, her parents are divorced, and her mom is a workaholic. One boring day at school [she was late again!], she met Damiano and his sister, and became intrigued at their life. She was convinced that these siblings are spies and gets to know both of them.

Review: The illustrations are very, very cute, although what I loved the most was the colours! They're so vibrant and eye-catching! As to the story, well, there's some open gaps that leave me thinking "huh?" and should have better explained how one character ended up in one place, and why they decided to go there in the first place rather than the reader trying to figure out everything, considering this book is marketed towards children. If they provided a bit more fluidity on the settings and the actions of the characters then it would have made this book so much better! So, yes, I guess the transitioning of the story would be a good thing to work on in the next few volumes.

However, on the story side, I do appreciate the fact that Nola is from a broken family, and explains a bit on how her mother isn't always at home [who is constantly engrossed in work], and her father is always away, and him giving her presents just to make up for the fact that he's never there. I haven't read much children's books wherein the main character is from a broken family [except maybe for the Princess Diaries, which I'm currently reading right now]. I guess it's a good tale for some kids who are from real-life broken families to know that they're not alone and no, the break-up is not their fault.

Illustrations - there are some scenes where I lost Nola, because she's in chibi mode or her appearance has completely changed but I guess it all depends on how the illustrator would interpret a certain scene in the tale! To each their own, I guess.

So, on to the summary.

Summary:


Published: November 1, 2010
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Available from: Everywhere!
Read it if: you want to read a new manga of sorts
Book was: provided by NetGalley and Lerner Publishing Group
Rating: So-So [3/5]

In My Mailbox # 15

Last week was a haul for me, and this week, looks like I've hauled a few other books too. I also forgot to include in my post last week that I got a couple of awesome necklaces and earrings to add to my accessory collection. Hmm...

So, what new books have I gotten this week?

Swapped:
  • The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. Book # 1 of the Kane Chronicles. I've heard so much hype about it and my close friend swapped me her trade paperback copy because she wants to upgrade to a hardbound copy. Cool, huh?

Borrowed:
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan. Book # 3 of the Percy Jackson tales. Yay. I finally can continue what happened to Percy.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan. Book # 4 of Percy. Just so I'll have some continuation on what happens to Percy
  • The 39 Clues: Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan. Heard lots of good stuff about the 39 clues book series, but I find the books a bit too expensive for my taste. Good thing one of my good friends has a complete set and let me borrow them! Wheee!
  • The 39 Clues: One False Note by Gordon Korman
  • The 39 Clues: The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis. Probably the shortest hardcover book I've ever seen in my life at 100+ pages, with huge fonts. Seems like it's a novella to me!
  • The 39 Clues: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson. Awesome cover!!
  • The 39 Clues: The Black Circle by Patrick Carman.
  • The 39 Clues: In Too Deep by Jude Watson.
Bought:
  • Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel. HB. From National Bookstore's Book Bazaar -- it was only worth $2.50!! I can't say no to that, given that it was only published this year!
  • Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story by Tony & Maureen Wheeler. TP. Again, from the NBS Book Bazaar -- bought this for one of my closest friends.
  • The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie. HB. From NBS Book Bazaar. I gasped when I saw this - I had to have it!! And it was only $2.50 too!


For Review:
  • Big Bouffant by Kate Hosford. From Netgalley. I'm starting to love this website! Read my review
  • Ruby Valentine Saves the Day by Laurie Friedman. From Netgalley. Read my review
  • Changing Moon by Mathieu Mariolle.  From Netgalley
  • Chrissie's Shell by Brooke Keith. From Netgalley
As you can see above, I went a wee bit overboard on borrowing the 39 Clues. My close friend wanted to let me borrow all 12 odd books [including the supplemental reading] but since it was too heavy for me to carry, had provided 6 books first!! Will review them all once I've done reading them! Yay for free reading! Teehee.

[Review] Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling

It's Harry's sixth year and Hogwarts, and the whole wizarding community already knows of Voldemort's return. Soon, Harry, Ron and Hermione and busily checking the Daily Prophet to see if anyone near and dear to them are found dead, they find more about Voldemort, and try to find the way to kill him.

Review: I finished Book 6 after I finished watching the 7th Harry Potter movie and so, I was also in a rush to start reading book 7! I love that this book has a lot of back stories [and I am such a sucker for back stories], and provides more insights on the life of Dumbledore and Voldemort. This year, a lot of deaths and injuries also occured in some of the characters, so it has become darker, but I figure it is definitely needed to continue on in the story, after all, no one does love forever.

I love also that the 6th books intertwine with the 5th and provides a prelude to the 7th book. Often times, as I was speaking to some of my Potterhead friends, I confuse which book a certain scene was from - either the 5th or the 6th because of the organization of JK Rowling. I also love that elements from the previous books have been incorporated in the 6th book- so you do have to read the other volumes of Harry to get their meaning or if you've forgotten that particular aspect, you'll end up flipping through the older volumes. Brilliant, just brilliant.

What I also love about this is the return of Dobby and Kreacher. I am such a sucker for these two characters. I first loved Dobby in the second book and I can't get enough of them. So, after that shock I received after watching the 7th movie [oh dobby, dobby, dobby], I was happy enough to enjoy these house elves.

The book also showed Harry maturing - him falling in love with Ginny [see, there is also a happy element in the Harry books!], and well, I guess everyone has matured a lot. The DA members have been more than loyal to Dumbledore too!

What I don't want. Oh the ending!! Such a sad, sad ending, but life goes on. I also loved that Harry has been more determined than ever to carry on a task that was previously left to him. He has stepped up, definitely, and accepted that he may have been the chosen one to finally end the horrible terror that Lord Voldemort has been spreading in the wizarding world.

Overall, an excellent read. I would definitely read the Harry Potter series again after I've finished the 7th book, in order, and complete, before the 2nd part of the movie about the 7th book is shown in the cinemas! That way, I could also relate to some of my friends as they discuss more trivial parts about the book and comparison with the movie!

Summary:

Published: 2006
Publisher: Scholastic
Available from: Everywhere!
Read it if: It's Harry Potter! You should read it!
Book was: bought from Fully Booked
Rating: Loves [5/5]

Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

The Potterhead in me squealed when I got a friend of mine, another Potterhead to reserve us tickets to Friday, November 19th's show. Now, I haven't read book 7 yet. *GASPS* In fact, as I write this, I haven't finished reading book 6 yet. *Even louder GASP*

Anyway, as I went to work last Friday, I can't concentrate - granted, there is quite a number of things to do as I was out of office the day before, but I just can't stop thinking about Harry!!! There's a mini countdown going on in my head and when it was time to go home, I immediately bolted out the door!

Met my friend at a local bookstore to get my invites to the Lauren Kate event signing, ate dinner, and off we went to the cinema!

So, thoughts on the movie: AMAZING!!! I never expected it to be this good and all the more, I wanted to finish reading book 6 and go read book 7 now so I could compare and find out if there are any elements that I'm missing out on. My Potterhead friends tried to discuss the movie without providing me too much spoilers on the book [love you guys for that], which made me even curious! My favourite parts - Dobby.... oh Dobby... and Kreacher too... and the story about the three brothers! Only complaint? Gah, I wanted the movie and the story to go on but I just have to wait until July 2011, won't I?? That gives me 8 months to read book 6-7, re-read books 1-7 again, and watch the 7 movies. Oh my gosh, what a long to do list... and on top of that, read some of the TBR mountain pile that I have... jeez! Favourite character in this movie? Hermione, of course! She's so smart! Ooooh Oooh Oooh! And can I add that I love the effects on the movie?? It's brilliant!

So, apologies if you happen to read this blog and find that I'm not making much sense at all! I just wanted to share the happiness and giddy feeling that's still my hangover from Potter!!

So, till the next movie!

Review: Ruby Valentine Saves the Day by Laurie Friedman

It's Valentine's Day and Ruby won't let anything spoil the celebration! In this follow-up to the popular Love, Ruby Valentine, Ruby's favorite day of the year rolls around again, and she and Lovebird work feverishly to plan the perfect party for everyone in Heartland. But when Valentine's Day arrives, an unexpected snowstorm threatens to ruin all of Ruby's plans. Will Ruby find a way to save the day, or will everyone in Heartland have to wait until next year to celebrate?

**Book Information from NetGalley**

Another children's book for me to read! Yay! Somehow if I read children's books during lag times at the office, I tend to be more relaxed and hyper and happy! Guess it's a stress-reliver for me. And I could review and preview new children's books too! Whee.

Okay, more serious stuff now: the review. I loved this book because the main character has the same name as myself - Ruby! Though the book is catered to elder children [ie Ruby has her own house and has the means to plan and prepare her own party], I also love that Ruby has a constant companion in the book - an anthropomorgic bird named LoveBird, who can talk and help Ruby out in her day to day life.
The book is very simple, yet the colours are soo striking, and would be a favourite for young girls - almost all the pages are coloured pink! How girly and cute! The book also provides scenarios on what happens in real life, and as all children's books go, a lesson at the end of the tale which everyone would enjoy and appreciate. I won't tell the lesson here though, just that you need to read the book to find out ;)
 
Can I just add that I love Lovebird? He/She seems to be one of the most loveable pets ever, and he knows how to talk too! How cool is that?
 
Summary:


Published: November 1, 2010
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Available from: Everywhere!
Read it if: you want to teach your child a valuable lesson that they could use in real life; oh and read it for the pictures!!
Book was: provided by NetGalley and Lerner Publishing Group
Rating: Loves [5/5]

[Review] The Big Bouffant by Kate Hosford

Annabelle is a girl who knows what she wants - when the kids in her school all sport boring hairdos: pigtails and ponytails, she decides to step out of the box and have an all-new hairdo! She comes across her grandmother's bouffant and decides to create one for herself.


This book is very entertaining, especially for kids. I wish I had read one of this when I was younger, as it promotes individuality and lets you realize that inspiration can come from even in the older generations. It also drives kids to try and experiment on new things (with the help and permission of your parents or guardians, of course), and your uniqueness will shine even more!

The illustrations are very colourful and cute! I couldn't take my eyes off it, and the writing is very good as well - it provides the rhyme that will make the kids remember the story, and coupled with the illustrations, I'm sure these will always be something parents would love to read out loud to their children, and a book they would all treasure forever.

Summary:
Published: April 1, 2011
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group

Available from: Everywhere! [starting April 1, 2011 tho]
Read it if: you want something to read to your child to teach them about individuality
Book was: provided by NetGalley and Lerner Publishing Group
Rating: Loves [5/5]

In My Mailbox # 14

Okay, I've gotten lazy and kind of stopped doing this for the longest time. Anyway, I'm reviving it! Woohoo. I guess I'll see more of this now that I'm borrowing a lot of books from my friends and acquiring some dirt cheap books too. Oh my god, is there something bigger than a mountain now? Can I just call my TBR a galaxy now??

Brief introduction though -- In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.  It features bought, borrowed, or received books as well as other cool stuff from the mail.

For this week:


Borrowed: 

  • City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare I just finished the first book but since I'm a cheapskate to buy a full priced copy of this book I just borrowed from a colleague of mine! Yay for bookworm colleagues
  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. Borrowed from one of my closest friends who's also a bookworm! Wheee!
Bought:
Quite a lot, I must say.
  • Fallen by Lauren Kate. TP. Bought from National Bookstore. I've read lots of reviews and buzz about this and blogs. When I found out she's coming to Manila on November 27th and 28th, I couldn't resist buying a copy to get an invite for the event. Only to find out there's another event under Powerbooks for the 28th at a venue closer to my house x_x Oh well. Better be worth it though.  
  • Torment by Lauren Kate. HB. Bought from National Bookstore. Same writeup as Fallen! :) There was a 20% off as well from NBS and I just had to buy them both!
  • The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd. HB. Bought for 50c USD from Booksale! Oh. My.God. I've been looking for this book forever and now I have it!!!!!!!!! And to top it off it was sooo cheap!! Squeeeeeeeee
  • Madapple by Christina Meldrum. HB. I've seen this on the Random Buzzers website before. I was absolutely happy when I saw this again at my favourite bargain bookstore!!! It only cost 75c as well! Waah! I'm on a roll! Good reviews opn this book as well even though I've no clue what it's really about.
  • The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd - Ninth Grade Slays by Heather Brewer. HB. Again, from my  favourite bargain bookstore. I saw this at a full price bookstore before and I was absolutely intrigued. Now I need to get book 1 so I can continue reading this.
  • Wild Roses by Deb Caletti. TP. Again, from my  favourite bargain bookstore. This was recommended to me by one of my closest friends and I just had to have it as well! It was only worth $1!
  • This Lullaby by Sara Dessen. HB. Again, from my favourite bargain bookstore. This was recommended to me by one of my closest friends and I just had to have it as well! She said it was one of her favourite Dessen books, and believe me, she read all of them.

  • Pretty Little Liars # 4: Unbelievable. HB. Again, from my favourite bargain bookstore. I've seen the tv show, and have book #2 [also from the bargain bookstore], so just need books 1 and 3 too!
So, my wallet was dented, spent over $20 on books this week! My In My Mailbox post for next week would probably be more books bought and borrowed as I'm about to meet up with a newly converted bookworm to borrow some other YA books and book hunt at a super sale of National Bookstore in Market Market [which is around 5 minutes walk from my office]. Be still my heart. Be quiet my wallet. Off to read and review faster now. Tah! Hope you had fun reading the books I got this week :)

Travel: A Gothic Tour of Chinese Cemetery, Manila

Last Friday, November 5th,  I got a text from Michelle: Rhett has organized a gothic tour of Manila: Chinese Cemetery, La Loma, Intramuros, Film Centre, Etc. Meet at Gateway tomorrow, 11AM. See you?

Being an avid traveler and since my plans for Ocean Park has been cancelled, I immediately accepted. I could not resist a chance to see other facets of Manila that I do not know about or haven't seen yet. I met the guys at Fully Booked Gateway [hah! I didn't get to buy anything - yay me for not succumbing to temptation], and ate lunch while waited for the rest of the party to arrive. Then, our first stop was the Chinese Cemetery!


The car stopped in front of the Chong Hock Tong Temple -- it was an amazing looking Temple. It's got these dragons perched on top and the red painted walls are definitely a stand out. From my research [via Wikipedia], the temple was built in the 1850s, making it the oldest Chinese temple in Manila. We made our way inside the altar, said silent prayers, took photos of the building and the gate and premises and left.

We walked a block or so to see some of the tombs that are overlooking a small river of sorts, and in front, there were domes and spires that look as if there's a lot of churches in the area, but I think they're also mausoleums.

It's amazing how the rich and the poor could also be divided in death. There's no apartment tombs in the Chinese Cemetery, compared to the ones that are more apparent in North Cemetery. Almost all the tombs are in intricate mausoleums, and since All Saints Day and All Souls Day had just finished the week before, there were coloured papers on top of the tombs, and the signs of burned material are still in the burners. Apparently the Chinese burn offerings [ie paper money, paper cars] to aide in the afterlife of their loved ones. [ie if they burn paper money, they in turn are sending money offerings to their deceased loved ones. Amazing.]

For me, there is something very enlightening in visiting a cemetery - never mind that it's full of deceased people, but it is a quiet area to meditate on your life as well. Facing death, how would you be able to make your life more worthwhile? And then the questions come in: if I die, would people look at my grave and visit me and pay their respects?

Anyway, moving on to the tour instead of my insights - we eventually got back in the car after walking through some gothic tombs. We eventually decided to try and find Andres Bonifacio's tomb, which was shaped like a pyramid. Then the questions pondered us: "Is Bonifacio Chinese?" Maybe. Maybe not. But we did find out for a fact that the non-Catholic people cannot be buried in La Loma or in North Cemetery so most Filipinos/Chinese were buried in Chinese Cemetery.

We eventually found ourselves in a memorial for General Yang Guangsheng. He was a Chinese Consul for the Philippines at the time, and as his plaque explained, he was shot to death in a grassy field when he tried to help the Filipino guerillas fight against the Japanese. Initially the Japanese wanted the General to call on his fellow Chinese to help the Japanese with their cause. His refusal ended in his and his entire staff's death. Way back in the World War II days, not much light has been given on the Battle of Manila, but it definitely is a shocking and interesting tale on how Manila has been a pivotal point in the War of the Pacific. I command the General for fighting with the Filipinos even though he himself is not of our race.

We saw a foreigner checking out the memorial of the General, and I was a bit happy to see that there are other foreigners who are touring Manila! By this time, one of our group saw a "tacky" crown on top of a mausoleum and we decided to check it out. They shrieked in delight when the mausoleum said "Ma Mon Luk." I honestly had no idea who this Ma Mon Luk was until Peter patiently told me that there is a restaurant named after him which serves the best siopao. Oh! So they paid their respects to Ma Mon Luk by having a photo in front of the mausoleum. I didn't join them because honestly, I'm a bit freaked of having my photo taken with a mausoleum -- I've seen some telly series where there are other people showing up in the photos and I'm not particularly keen on having that sort of experience if it does happen.

We then walked to Mabini's grave. It is found in Mabini St, but it is tucked in a little side street that's a wee bit hard to find, esp if you're not that familiar with the cemetery. Apparently the reason for the odd shape of Mabini's grave is that he was part of the Freemasons. Oooooh! Da Vinci Code, Philippine version anyone?? That would be a great book plot! LOL.



Anyway, some random bits about Mabini's grave from my friends:
1. Mabini's body is not found in this grave, it has been exhumed and is now located somewhere. I've honestly no clue where it is, to be honest. Bad me for not knowing much about PH history.

2. Apparently, Mabini died of syphilis instead of cholera. Ooooh. Cholera was just the press release because who would want a national hero to die of an STD, right?

3. He was the brains of the Katipunan, but sadly he did not get as much credit as Bonifacio did.

And there you go. You can see that there is a commemorative plaque found in his grave. However, it looks like its not maintained -- I can barely read some of the letters. And it's written in Filipino. >.<  I read Filipino like a turtle walks on dry land. If I read English slowly then I read Filipino even more slowly!!!

On the way back to the car, we passed this cutie little doggie!!!! He is such an angel and I want to take him home but he keeps on hiding and running away from us. Isn't he adorable??

So, that's the first stop of our tour. We went to La Loma Cemetery after, which you can read in a different blog post once I've got over my laziness. Teehee!


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Review: Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser

When anonymous blogger St-R-Sd writes an entry wishing that popular girl Lucy Cunningham would disappear, his/her dream came true. A few posts later, St-R-Sd blogs about the disappearance of two fellow students. Enter Madison Archer, one of Lucy's close friends who seeks to find out what had happened to the missing persons. She seeks the help of outcast Tyler, and tries to find out where her friends are before Madison eventually ends up in St-R-Sd's blog and disappears too.

Thoughts - The way the book was narrated and presented to the readers is awesome. With a mixture of blogs, comments to the blog, notes, and the narration of Madison, its certainly a new twist to me. Though the writer is male, he had presented the point of view of a female very accurately, in fact, I had to look at the back cover of the book to ensure that the author is indeed male and not a female since I throughly believed the female narration and what goes on in the mind of the girl, esp when they're attracted to someone.

The mystery component is presented with lots of red herrings. It drove me crazy that around 100 pages into the book, I snuck a peek at the last few pages of the book to see who the perpetuator was. I spoiled myself in the process and though this is not often the case, I was utterly disappointed that I did not get to figure out who the killer was by myself. Awww.. But anyway, just look at the clues presented in the book and I'm sure you'll come up with the killer too!

The characters were stereotypical to be honest - they are the rich, young kids who are living in private school and its set in a typical YA manner - a high school. It's all right though, as Tyler offered a breath of fresh air as well as Sharon and Laurie. Not many books delve in the topic of homosexuality too.

There is a second book out, called "Blood in Her Hands." Did I say this book was the first of a trilogy? If not, well, it is! As I checked out the blurb of the second book from Amazon, I think it's not related to the first book per se - ie, the characters are the same, but nevertheless, it does look interesting too! Although the series did not get as much buzz as I thought it would be, it's a nice read for Halloween as its a thriller and a whodunit type of thing!

So, on to the final summary of the review!

Published: 2009

Publisher: Egmont
Available from: Everywhere!
Read it if: you want to read a whodunit book, or want a thriller of a book that's of a young adult reading level
Book was: provided by A.S King as part of Lenore's International Book Blogging Mentoring Program
Rating: Likes [4/5]

Fallen: The Event. Lauren Kate in Manila

My heart literally pounded when I saw this from National Bookstore's Facebook page:


Lauren Kate is coming to Manila! Oh.My.God. I have to get to this event! 

Anyway, from snooping on the facebook site of NBS, I got information on how to secure invites for the event and have your book signed as well. 

To get invites, simply buy a copy of Fallen or Torment from today until the event -- there are papers on the back of the book that would serve as your invite for the event at the Podium on November 27th, 2010, 5pm. 
To get your book signed, well, its a different story -- if there are too many people that go to the event then the names would be raffled off. Lucky people who would get called would get their books signed, after all, Lauren can only sign a certain number of books. 

But oh my god. I am so stooooked! I guess I'll see you at the event then?? :) 




Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Clary was just your ordinary girl. Until one day at a club, she sees three people kill someone and her life was turned upside down: her mother was kidnapped, she finds out she's a daughter of a Shadowhunter, and can see the Downworlders [read: vampires, werewolves, faeries and other supernatural creatures]. Can Clary and her friends save her mother from the downworlders by finding the Mortal Cup, and along the way find out more about her ties to the downworlders too?

Review: I initially got to read this book because a friend of mine bought it and asked if I could try and finish the book for her. She stopped reading at around page 100 because the story already confused her too much. My thought? Yes, at first the book is utterly confusing. I guess that Cassandra Clare's type of writing isn't for me. Although the thought of the alternate world is there, and the setting is quite unique, a part of me is screaming out that maybe the story is not well-thought of in advance. There are several loose ends here and there, and there are more than one word trying to define the downworlders. Very confusing indeed, especially if you think that they are different beings at first only to realize that they are one and the same. Another annoyance I got was the excessive use of similes!! Ugh. Annoying as hell as well!! I do get what you were saying the first time Cassandra, I don't need to read it again and again and again. Gosh. Plot is not well-thought of too. But I'll give her this because it's the first book, maybe there's more that will happen in the other books then?

What else -- characters. Can Clary be more whiny? I swear, Clary is in the running for whiniest person in the world, I guess tied with Bella from Twilight. She is one of the most annoying characters I've ever read in books as well. Think about self-centered, reckless. Ugh. Jace is okay, on the other hand. Simon is also okay, I guess. Characters have their issues, which is quite good, but I would definitely love to read about the back stories of the other characters too. Maybe in Clockworld Angel? Hmmm..

Cover - the cover is one of the most gorgeous ones I've seen out there. It has this hologram effect where it changes colour [at least in my opinion] depending on the angle that the light!

Overall, this book took me longer than expected to read and complete. Why? Because I get so annoyed at times that I just had to put down this book and read another one to get over my annoyance! Will I read the other books in the series? Maybe, if I get to borrow a copy from my friend who has the complete series. But I would definitely not be purchasing it. The money could be used to buy other better books out there.

So, on to the summary of my review.

Published: 2007

Publisher: McElderly Books/Simon & Schuster
Available from: Everywhere!
Read it if: You want something to read after Twilight.
Book was: borrowed from a friend.
Rating: So-So [2.5/5 rating!]

Trash Book Launch

So, last Tuesday, Oct 19th, I got a chance to go to the book launch of "Trash" by Andy Mulligan at National Bookstore Glorietta 5. This is my third book launch so far, second of Andy Mulligan's, and I wouldn't pass up a chance to have a book signed! The launch was attended by a lot of British nationals [well, obviously since Andy Mulligan is also British, and taught at the British School Manila so his colleagues, and former students were out there to support him].

The launch started at 5pm, where he was introduced by a big boss of National Bookstore [NBS], and there was a brief question & answer by the audience and also by the host!


**me interviewing Andy Mulligan. Photo by National Bookstore from their Facebook site.

Some notable questions and his answers:

**What are you currently working on?
He's currently working on another book, due for next year. It's about a girl who falls in love with a boy from the streets. So Trash lives again [everyone laughs].  It was a work in progress but Mr. Mulligan's laptop was stolen so he has to rebuild everything from scratch!

Note: However, we should be able to get something new from him by Feb 2011! It will be a sequel to Ribblestrop, entitled "Return To Ribblestrop." Oooh! I can't wait for that! And ooh man, let's hope Andy gets to remember all the lines he typed when he was creating his new novel.. it's due to be sent to the publisher this December 2010 so here's hoping there's another book out after the Return to Ribblestrop novel!

**Will you hold another book launch when Return to Ribblestrop comes out? [personal question that I asked when I was having my booked signed]
Hopefully National Bookstore will invite me again, but we'll see how it goes.

**Will there be a sequel to Trash?
Unfortunately, no. The book in itself is simple and there's not much elements to place in a sequel.

**Will Trash be turned into a movie?
There is a British filmmaking company who has already bought the rights to the book. They are currently on pre-production and are scouting for the location. They did go to Brazil and were thinking of setting the movie there. He was trying to convince the film people to try and film it in Manila, but unless he is JK Rowling or some other money making author, he has no rights to the filmmaking process. And currently, he's not getting his hopes up too early as these film people tend to put the red light on projects very quickly and unexpectedly.

**Are the characters of Trash based on someone you know?
Yes, there is a boy in India from which the main character, Raphael is loosely based on.

**How did you make the transition from a light young adult read [Ribblestrop] to a more serious young adult read?
As a background, Andy Mulligan has already penned his debut novel titled Ribblestrop - it's about a group of kids in a school... well, they are very, very special kids and the school is quite special as well. Andy says that writing Ribblestrop was harder because there were too many characters involved and intertwining them in the novel takes far more time. Trash, on the other hand, only involves three characters and the story is far more simple than Ribblestrop.

**How do you feel that children reading your book may think how lucky they are that they are not living in the streets?
The novel wasn't written as a journalistic expose meant for kids to realize the realities of what's outside. It was just written as a tourist seeing what's real in MNL. If the kids realized that they are lucky then it's good that they learned something but the book definitely wasn't meant to be written in an expose form.

**No photos from the book launch from my camera yet! I've no idea when I'm going to get the time to upload them though!
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Halloween Hangover

It's currently October 31st as I type this. My cat is going wild outside for some unknown reason [perhaps she is seeing ghosts or ghouls or whatever?], my mum went out to visit my grandma's grave as part of the tradition of All Saint's/Soul's Day and I'm at home, having a readathon and a tv marathon of some scary tv shows and movies.

Right now I'm reading "Wish You Were Dead" by Todd Strasser and watching "Harper's Island" on DVD. Since I'm alone, I'm dead scared but hey, it's the whole spirit of Hallowen, right?

I wanted to stay at home and continue my scarefest but sadly, I've got work and it's only a PH holiday tomorrow, not a UK holiday. But oh well.

Surprisingly, I'm loving the horror/thriller genre of books!! And for some reason, I feel very brave whenever it's Halloween that I tend to dive in this genre! teehee! Oh well, back to regular programming now. Hopefully I'd have done finishing a book after this so I can post some reviews!

Which reminds me -- I haven't done an In My Mailbox for the past x number of months! Eeep!!!
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Review: Trash by Andy Mulligan

In a third-world country, there lives three boys who picks up trash to make a living. Welcome to their life: picking up trash to clean, sell and get a bit of money in return to feed them. It's a life that's bleak, where most of the stuff they scavenge turn out to be human waste [not a good thing], until one day, they come across a bag. The police are after this bag, so they try and chase the boys to get it. Little did these boys know that this bag would change their lives forever, and unravel a mystery that was in the national news.

I first came across this at a Facebook post by one of my favourite bookstores here in Manila: National Bookstore. They were having a book launch and since there rarely are any book launches in MNL, I jumped at the chance and went with a colleague of mine from work!

Anyway, I have a bit of a soft spot for this book. First off, it shows the cruel reality of life here in MNL: the poor are getting poorer, the rich are getting richer, and well, there are so many corrupt officials out here that it's hard for the country to actually rise up. Okay, enough of the dark stuff, on to the book. Although the setting was not specified, it is obviously based in Manila [as what Andy Mulligan said during his book launch] and some of the places he stated in his book are real: Green hills, McKinley Hill [which is just a stone's throw away from my office building and the British School Manila, where Andy used to teach], South Superhighway [which I pass every day as I go to and from work], while some places are loosely based on other settings in Manila. I believe Navaho Cemetery is the North Cemetery -- where yes, there is a divide between the poor and the rich, even in death. There are obviously those stacks of graves that he was describing, and yes, the 5-year lease is also true and if you can't pay, the bones would just be tossed out. And yes, there definitely are people who make a living by foraging in the trash, even children. The sad realities of life in Manila.

While the characters are not as well-developed as I hoped, their bonding makes it an ideal team as they tried to solve the puzzles in the book. At times I often wonder if I were in that situation, would I have been brave enough to complete the task and the mystery involved? Or would I have taken the money? It's such a huge dilemma! And yes, money definitely is involved in almost every aspect in everyday life here.

I loved this book, it took me just a few days to finish this, and since it's quite short [200+ pages], it is a quick read, but the message is deep. Although the plot can be quite predictable, and the writing is simple, I loved every bit of this book and I'm more than happy to have gotten a copy and had it signed by the author. It makes me want to say how lucky I am to be in a position that I am in and thankful for everything that I have.

Published: 2010
Publisher: David Fickling books/Random House
Available from: Everywhere!
Read it if: You want a glimpse of life in MNL and the realities of the harshness of life picking up trash, how corruption works
Book was: bought from National Bookstore; signed by the author at the book launch.
Rating: LOVES [4/5 rating!]

Lord of the Rams

The Lord of the Rams is an autobiography of Ronan Smith as he was growing up in the late 80s, early 90s in rural Ireland. It shows him as a troublesome young lad, as he was terrorizing his teachers, bus drivers, and others through his unstoppable mouth. The book also shows his adventures with his friends: mostly gross, but then again what can you expect from boys?

So, what are my thoughts about this book? Uhmm... Let's just say that the descriptions of some of the pranks and things that happened to him are utterly disgusting, you'll be put off from reading after some time. The mere thought of their antics as well is enough to make a parent shake their head in disbelief and wish that their children would not be as troublesome as the Rams was when he was younger.

Was it entertaining? A bit, yes. Was it worth your time to read? I honestly don't know. To each their own, I guess. Did I learn something new from the book? Uh.. maybe more tricks to terrorize adults? Okay, I did not entirely like the book, but there's this area where I could totally relate to the Rams: it was college, and he was broke. I experienced the same hardship when i was in university and my funds were very limited, and yes, I have to come up with ways to earn more moolah! I also can relate to him when he was feeling down and depressed as he was searching for a job after university. And finally landing a job he really likes!

So, okay, what else? I wouldn't really bother spending some money or time on this book, but read it if you're curious about rural Ireland in the 80s/90s.

**Summary**

Published: 2008
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Available from: Amazon
Read it if: Huh. I don't know.
Book was: provided by the author for review.
Rating: So-So [2/5 rating]

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters

Percy's first year at Camp Half Blood was a success! He was sent on his very first quest and managed to live another year. This time, he meets a new friend, Tyson, at Merryweather Prep, managed to get attacked by monsters [Laistrygonians], and had to save the Camp from being destroyed by getting the Golden Fleece when Thalia's tree was poisoned.

Another action-packed Percy Jackson novel! I can't write my own summary without giving too much away! Teehee. This book has got a lot of family values, a lot of action, and a lot of adventure, all in 279 pages. I love how Rick Riordan manages to combine reality and Greek mythology in his Percy Jackson novels -- it sure can encourage the young ones to remember their mythology [if it is still required for school].

However, I've got some rants about this book. I find it too predictable... the stories obviously have been mashed from some of the mythologies that are already known -- Jason and the Argonauts, and most of the plot is from Odysseus. I've managed to watch a documentary of sorts about Odysseus one time from the History Channel and everything is plotted out there. Down to Circes, and all the other characters from the quest -- I guess the Sea of Monsters is a retelling of sorts? [Uh, Duh, Ruby?]

**May contain spoilers**

 I looooooove Tyson!! He is such a cute little character -- as well as Hermes's snakes, George and Magda!!! "Rats are delicious." Hmmm... not that I like rats too but it's become my favourite tag line for the whole of the Percy second tale! Magda is the more serious one but George and Magda combined offer a lot of laughs for me. I hope they would make some other cameos in the other books!

Honestly, that part about the golden fleece and Thalia? I kind of thought that would happen. Oh well. Predictable. But nevertheless fun.

So, on to the ratings then!

Published: 2006
Publisher: Hyperion
Available from: Everywhere!
Read it if: You want to learn about Greek mythology, or you want to know what's next in Percy's adventure
Book was: Borrowed from a friend
Rating: LIKES

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