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2011 in Books

Another year coming to a close. I always loved making these lists of stuff I did for the year - it gives me a chance to look back on what I have (or haven't) achieved and gives me a chance to prepare new goals for the next year to push myself even more!

So, in 2011, I have read 32 books. It is threee more than what I've read the last year (at 29 books). It would have been more had circumstances been different but I'm definitely not complaining. Then again, I read more picture & children's books this year so I think I read more last year page-wise than this year!

The best book I have read for the year is a four-way tie between Take That - Take One, Take That - Take Two, Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.

So, why choose those four books as the best for the year? Well, The Take That books should speak for themselves: they're so packed with photos of the band, which I absolutely loved and adored.

For Anna & the French Kiss, very rarely do I find a book that I can't put down. I finished this book in three days and had to force myself to sleep as I was reading it. I actually finished reading this in three days and re-read the book a few days after. I loved it that much. The chemistry between Anna & Etienne is sizzling! It died out in Lola & The Boy Next Door to be honest, but nevertheless, Anna was brill and the setting added to the loveability power of this book.

For Before I Fall, I read it and I was like: WOW. An eye-opening book, and well, it feels so real and I just felt for the main character as I was reading it. Such a shame it has to end that way but that's the way it is. We don't know what will happen and the ultimate saying of carpe diem kept repeating itself over and over in my head.

Without further adeau, below is a list of the books I've read. Click on the book name & author to read my review of it:

1. The Little Prince (Graphic Novel) - Joanne Sfar, Antoine de Sain Exupery (January); NetGalley
2. Chrissie's Shell -  Brooke Keith. (January); NetGalley
3. Take That: Take Two - Take That. (January); bought from Book Depository: BEST BOOK EVER :)
4. Ragdolls are the Best - Elaine Landau (January); NetGalley
5. Amazing Grace - Tara FT Sering (January); provided for review by publisher
6. City of Glass - Cassandra Clare (January); borrowed from a friend
7. The 39 Clues # 3: The Sword Thief - Peter Lerangis (February); borrowed from a friend
8. The Princess Diaries - Meg Cabot (February); borrowed from a friend
9. Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan (February); borrowed from a friend
10. The 39 Clues # 4: Beyond the Grave. Jude Watson (February); borrowed from a friend
11. Bless this Mouse - Lois Lowry (February); NetGalley
12. The 39 clues # 5: The Black Circle - Patrick Carman (February); borrowed from a friend
13. Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins (February); won from a contest
14. The 38 Clues # 6: In Too Deep - Jude Watson (March); borrowed from a friend
15. The 39 Clues # 7: The Viper's Nest - Peter Lerangis (March); borrowed from a friend
16. The 39 Clues # 8: The Emperor's Code - Gordon Korman (April); borrowed from a friend
17. Take That: Take One - Take That (April); bought from Dubai
18. The 39 Clues # 9: Storm Warning - Linda Sue Park (April); borrowed from a friend
19. The Red Pyramid - Rick Riordan (May); swapped with a friend
20. The Chancer - Shane Lynch (May); bought from the Book Depository
21. The Princess Diaries: Take Two - Meg Cabot (May); borrowed from a friend
22. The 39 Clues # 10: Into the Gauntlet - Maargaret Peterson Haddix (May); borrowed from a friend
23. The 39 Clues: Agent Handbook (May); borrowed from a friend -- rubbish book
24. The Sign of the Four (Sherlock Holmes) - Arthur Conan Doyle (May) - free app for iPhone/iPod
25. The 39 Clues # 11: Vespers Rising - Rick Riordan, Peter Lerangis, Gordon Korman & Jude Watson (June) - borrowed from a friend
26. Wake - Lisa McMan (June) - bought from Booksale
27. Delirium - Lauren Oliver (October) - bought from Tescos
28. Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins (November) - bought from Amazon.co.uk
29. Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver (November) - bought from National Bookstore
30. Where The Heart Is - Billie Letts (December) - bought from Booksale
31. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason - Helen Fielding (December) - bought on discount at National Bookstore
32. If You Could See Me Now - Cecelia Ahern (December) - gift from a friend.

So, some stats from the above list. I love making stats so bear with me :)

This year, out of the 32 books I've finished, 16 are from friends - either won through contests, gifts, borrowed, or swapped with! Wow!

53.13% - (17/32)books that were lent or given by friends or won from a contest
18.75% - (6/32) books that were bought new from various merchants
15.63% - (5/32) books that were provided for review.
9.38% - (3/32) books that were bought used from various merchants
3.13% - (1/32) books for free from the Apple app store

I've started economizing - 23/32 books (71.88%) I've read for 2011, I've paid 0 pesos for!! Woohoo!!! :) Way to go!
The rest, I've bought - mostly full price but that's about to change for 2012 as I rearrange the budget & the priorities.

That's it for now, Happy Holidays to you :)

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason - Helen Fielding

Book blurb from Amazon.com: Lurching from the cappuccino bars of Notting Hill to the blissed-out shores of Thailand, everyone's favorite Singleton Bridget Jones begins her search for The Truth in spite of pathetically unevolved men, insane dating theories, and Smug Married advice. She experiences a zeitgeist-esque Spiritual Epiphany somewhere between the pages of How to Find the Love You Want Without Seeking It (can self-help books really help self?), protective custody, and a lightly chilled Chardonnay.

I was reading this early this year but misplaced the book. Found the book eventually later this year - which was a good thing. I breezed through the book really quickly - Bridget was just really funny at the latter part of the book. I felt like she was a real person and she is just very relatable (I don't drink as much as her nor smoke at all!). I felt her pain when she was pining over the loss of Mark Darcy, I felt her pain as she relates how much she feels lonely and how she tries to distract herself from her day to day life.

Ahhhh this book is utterly entertaining - although there were just some parts where I wanted to hit Bridget over the head due to her many bloopers that she could have avoided, and for her chronic lateness and short attention span.

I wish there could have been another book in the series, but unfortunately that will be a wish that will not be granted in the near future.

I've actually seen the movie based on this book and it was just... different. Sure, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant were absolutely brill in it but the story in the movie doesn't seem to be quite as funny as the book. It always seems to be the case for book adaptations turned into movies - something gets lost along the way.

Funny moment though: Bridget is obsessed with Mark Darcy, Mr Darcy & COlin Firth (based on his portrayal of Mr Darcy in Pride & Prejudice). I find myself laughing at multiple parts in the book because in my head, Mr Darcy is Colin Firth & he is also Mark Darcy!!

I have to say that Bridget is a good marketer of goods as well. Because of her, I found myself buying a Pride & Prejudice DVD (The one where Colin Firth starred, of course), and buying a whole load of Milk Trays!! Hmmmm Milk Trays.... A male friend of mine told me that a Milk Tray is actually for lonely single ladies because of the names of the chocolates. Ha ha ha.  True that. Go Bridget!

2011 in Travel - Part Two

I was compiling a list of things I did this 2011, and this is the travel bit. You may read my 2011 in Travel part One post here. I couldn't just put out all of my adventures in one post - it was faaar too many!! I <3 this  year - it was amaaazing !


June 4 - Baler, Aurora: Mother Falls. Baler Museum. Quezon Par. Balete Park & Millennium Tree. Stayed at Bahia de Baler. Ermita Hill (where the people went up to try and escape the tsunami of so long ago). Old Japanese Tunnel. Souvenir shopping. Baler Catholic Church. Quezon's new house. Marker for Aurora Quezon. Baler City Hall & Square.

June 5 - Baler, Aurora: Surfing Lesson & bumming at Sabang Beach.
Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija (to get a bus back to Manila).

June 10 - the start of my very first ever backpacking trip!!

Cebu-Mactan International Airport. Cebu Ferry Terminal. Supercat ferry to Tagbilaran City, Bohol.
Bohol: Mag-Aso Falls, Kawasan Falls, Canugao Falls (this one was scary - we had to plod through rice fields just to get here!), Sagbayan Peak. Stayed at Darunday Inn. Bojol Grill (dinner).

June 11 - Bohol Countryside Tour: Chocolate Hills at Carmen. Butterfly Center. Man-Made Forest at Bilar. Tarsier Viewing. Loboc River Cruise. Hanging Bridge (ha ha - one of the scariest things I've ever done. Good thing there was shopping in the end to reward me for my bravery ;) ). Python Viewing (Prony).  Baclayon Church. New Blood Compact Site. Bohol Bee Farm (hmmmmm yummy ice cream + bread spread!)

June 12 - Bohol Sea Tour: Dolphin Watching (a success although I did not see much and they did not swim beside the boat). Snorkelling at the Marine Fish Sanctuary. DUmaluan Beach. Hinag-danan Cave. Taver's Inn. Bohol Quality Mall. Plaza Rizal. Bohol City Hall. Tagbilaran Church.

June 13 - Bohol Tourism Office. Macaque Monkey Sanctuary (Cantamucad, Loon). Punta Cruz Watchtower. Island City Mall. Alona Beach.

June 14 - Bohol Sea Tour # 2: Dolphin Watching. Snorkelling at Fish Sanctuary. Balicasag Island. More Dolphin Watching (saw some dolphins swimming past the side of the boat. What's more, is that there were very few boats trying to chase after the dolphin! Amazeballs!). Vanishing Island. Virgin Beach. Rode a habal-habal for the first tmie ever. Bohol Beach Club.

June 15 - Tagbilaran Pier. Supercat ferry to Cebu. Sugbutel Hostel. Crown Regency: 4D Theatre: The Lost Island. Viewing Deck. Edge Coaster. Sky Walk. Ayala Center Cebu. Shopping at Mango. Bufffet dinner at Crown Regency.

June 16 - Fort San Pedro. Plaza Independencia. Cebu City Hall. Magellan's Cross. Basilica del Sto Nino. SM City Cebu. Colon Street. Cathedral & the Museum. Heritage of Cebu Monument. Casa Gorordo. San Diego-Yap Ancestral House. Shamrock (Pasalubong shopping). Basilica del Sto Nino Museum. Dinner at CNT Lechon.

June 17th - End of backpacker trip. Cebu-Mactan International Airport.

June 30th - Ninoy Aquino Terminal 1: Airport Lounge. Business class: Etihad from Manila-Abu Dhabi.

June marked a turning point in my life: I backpacked alone in some parts of Bohol and in Cebu. It's the first time i've travelled solo - so I decided to choose a place where I could be quite familiar with. As we all know, Cebu is almost like Manila. I was supposed to go abroad but the airline tickets were quite expensive when I was trying to book for stuff at the last minute. Nevertheless it made me believe in myself: that I could travel alone and survive by commuting around. Ther was a lot of research involved in this solo trip before I did go though!


Ahhhh the start of one of my favourite months of 2011. It was another turning point in my life. :) Read on!

July 1 - Abu Dhabi International Airport. Etihad Business Class Lounge. Six Senses Spa: 15 Minute Spa Massage (it was so good, I nearly fell asleep!!). Business Class: Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow Terminal 4. English Breakfast. #1 Pepys Street Apartment. Liverpool Street Underground Stn. #175 Bishopsgate (my office whilst in London - I loved this building). Spitalfields. Mitre Square (ooh where Jack the Ripper killed one of the girls). Tower of London. Tower Bridge. Hays Galleria. HMS Belfast.

I was pretty jetlagged on that day but nothing can stop me from going around my favourite city in the whole entire world!

July 2 - Tower Hill. Kensington High Street. The Gap. H&M. Kensington Park. Kensington Palace. Hyde Park. South Kensington. Gloucester Road. Wembley Stadium. Take That: Progress Live 2011.

Ahhhhh.. I finally saw one of my favorite boy bands ever. LIVE. And with Robbie Williams!!

July 3 - Victoria Tube Station. Westminster Cathedral. Wimbledon: Men's Finals (Nadal vs Djokovic). Queue for hours on end to watch Djokovic win from a screen in Court #2. We may not be inside Centre Court but the atmosphere of just being there. PLus, we saw him come ot with the trophy too! Pimms & Strawberries & Cream. Hmm Yum. Yum.

July 4 - First day at work. 175 Bishopsgate. Hmm. Little did I know that my world is gonna go topsy turvey.

July 6 - Leon's. Spitalfields Market. :) I realized who my real friends were. And yes, what they told me was true. I really was regretting all the things that I said.

July 9 - Buckingham Palace: Changing of the Guards. Starbucks. New Scotland Yard. Westminster Abbey. Houses of Parliament & Big Ben. Trafalgar Square - tried going up the lions, but it was too slippery in the sculpture. Covent Garden. Zizzi Pizza/Pasta Place. The National Gallery.

July 10 - Westminster Cathedral. Ashford OUtlet Store Shopping (Kent, England).

July 15 - Drinks out the back of the office!!! (COney & Barrow)

July 16 - Cambridge, England: London's King Cross (high speeed train to Cambridge). Sedgewick Museum. Nando's (hmm peri-peri chicken at its finest). Punting at the River Cam (so relaxing and so nice!!!). King's College. Cambridge High Street.
July 17 - OXford Street: Primark. New Look. Next. M&S. Chinatown.

July 19 - Drinks at All Bar One (boss's treat!). Tennis lessons of sorts at Islington.

July 20 - Party at my friend's house. The first party we ever threw together - it was a little get together of sorts!

July 22 - Wimbledon Tennis Tournament at work (but not exactly in Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club). Dog & Fox Bar @ Wimbledon Village.

July 23 - St Pancras Train Station. Canterbury West Train Stn. Canterbury Tales. Canterbury High Street. Canterbury Cathedral.

July 24 - Bearsted. Leeds Castle.

July 26 - Strada Restaurant, St Katherine's Docks (where boats are moored) - quaint little place.

July 28 - Bowls at Finsbury Square. Tried a new sport~ if I could call it a sport.

July 29 - Thames. Millennium Bridge.

July 30 - London Paddington. Oxford. Blenheim Palace (childhood home of Winston Churchill)

July 31 - Kew Gardens. Kew Palace.

Tiring July? Well, wait until the next few months! Such a shame that in July we failed to go out of the "comfort" area of Southeast England and London. We didn't even begin to take overnight trips out until August!!

So, that's it for now. Wait until Part Three and Part four of my Travel 2011 posts! :)

Topsy Turvey

You know the saying, "some drink to remember, some drink to forget." Memories. Some you want to keep forever, some you just want out of your head. As I pick up my next book to read, I find myself drawn to "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. I know I've blogged before how much my emotions affect my reading habits? Well, my reading genre and habit has changed drastically again. I'm at a low point in my life. I just want to forget, but I don't want to - if you get my drift. I am a very complicated person to know. It is a bit embarassing as I announce to the whole world to read how I am feeling. But I am lonely, I am depressed, I am lost. I feel a bit like Bridget Jones when Mark Darcy had left her, and she still can't get over him. I'm not sure if many of you read the books that are about Bridget - if you haven't, do. So what is the point of this post? The point is, well, there is no point. I am just here to vent out what I am thinking. This is my blog anyway, I can say whatever I want to say. So forgive me if I can't review any books that deal with love (maybe except Eat, Pray, Love since that is about travel anyway) - I don't want anything to do with a story about girl meets boy, boy meets girl, they get close, they fall in love. Ugh. I'm cynical, Im annoyed, I'm upset. Can you guys suggest any books that do not have characters that fall in love??? YA or Chick Lit only puhlease. And no weird un-human characters: no vamps, no fallen angels, etc. I wanna deal with books that deal with real people only. Maybe I'll read Leviathan - or some of the nerdy books out there that make you think. Or one of the Paulo Coelho novels. Sometimes I feel like travel would be the only escape from what I am feeling. The feeling of just being free, seeing the world, meeting new people, being lost, then being found. I don't know. Maybe this is why I'm going to read Eat, Pray, Love - to find something I'm desperately looking for but yet I still don't know what I'm looking for. I think I read because I also want to get lost from reality. Then again, that's just me.
Maybe the only cure is to just let go and leave everything behind. Take the leap. I'm not getting any younger. I can't wait any longer. Maybe I look too highly of myself and think that what I'm asking for is reasonable. Maybe no one would really miss when I flew like the wind and disappeared to another country. Maybe that's the right step for me. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I think I need to find the new place I would proudly and happily call home eventually. Song for the moment - When We Were Young: Take That. The lyrics are calling out to me. I just hope this phase won't last long.
Tag : , ,

2011 in Travel - Part One

Looking at the tiny little notebook that I have that contains a summary of my goals, dreams, and what I have achieved for specific months and/or days in a certain year, I realized the pages are a lot more written on this year: the 2011 notes definitely added more "scratch" in it - travel ideas that were written down hastily while on the road, directions where to go & anything else. What I love aboout it though, is that the colour of pen I used to write stuff in is still the same: PURPLE :)

There's just something about writing on a piece of paper that appeals to me - nothing like opening up a notebook, old and battered, and looking back on ideas that was written from days/months/years past and the ability to look back on it everytime you want to: without looking for a specific file you have saved down from your computer or worrying about losing your files.

Anyhoo, it's nearly the end of 2011. At the time I'm writing this, it's December 10th, a Saturday, with 3 weeks to go before the last day of the year. I've always loved the New Year - it brings new hope, new joys, new experiences to look forward to. At the same time, the last day of the year gives me more than enough time to look back on the year past and think about what I did for the year: was it worthwhile? Did I make the most of my borrowed time?

Surely some of my old blog posts (and even book reviews) state the fact that we should live everyday to the fullest! And I would say that 2011 has been quite a fruitful year for me. It's one of my best years in the 27 years of my life so far!

And here we go, I will share what I've done for 2011 (so far) travel-wise.


I went to Davao! This is my second time to go to this city. No blog post yet (you'll find that I owe a LOT of blog posts - I never did try to sit down and blog about my travels)

Stayed there for 4 days and 3 nights - from January 17-21.

January 17 - Davao Crocodile Park, People's Park
January 18 - Philippine Eagle Park, Malagos Garden, Sul Orchids (where my mum went crazy buying a whole load of orchids for her to take home), Tribu K'Mindanawan village, Butterfly House, Shrine of Holy Infant Jesus of Prague, Jack's Ridge
January 19 - Pearl Farm.. Aldevinco Shopping Centre. Bangkerohan Market.
January 20 - Museo Dabawenyo, Magsaysay Park, San Pedro Cathedral, City Hall, Rizal Park, Davao Airport.

(Won Cebu Pacific tote bags on the way home from their fun flghts! :) )

Good January - got the airfare on sale so it was well worth it!


February 3 - Well, this is not exactly a travel-thing but I watched The Joy Luck Club Play alone at Onstage at Greenbelt!

February 12 - Hot Air Balloon Festval at Clark Field, Pampanga. Well worth sleeping on a bus just to get here. The balloon flight was amazing.
Treetop Adventure: Trekking & Canopy Ride at Subic Bay.
Shopped for some cheap imported goods at Subic too.

February 19th - 18th Philippine Travel Expo. Got a lot of brochures. It was time to plot where I was going and what opportunities were there (little did I know that I was embarking on a huge adventure soon)
World Pyrolympics: Portugal vs the UK. (The UK won 1st runner up for 2011, after winning the 2010 competition).

February 26th - Nido Science Discovery Centre. Not exactly the best science museum in the Philippines (quite expensive admission price, if you'll ask me).
Under the Sea 3D - bought a deal online. Cute little animals :)
World Pyrolympics: China vs France (meehhh - not that impressive).

February was okay, it could have been more memorable but couldn't complain given the opportunities I got :)


March 6 - Resorts World, Manila. Saw Kaos - It is a brilliant show, it reminds me of the West End productions. I love Kaos the white lion & Sito the white tiger.

March 18 - Midnight Mercato. It's a food market. Uhmm, I'm not too big on food.

March 20 - The Postal Heritage Tour. Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila Post Office & Museum, The Metropolitan Theatre, Arroceroz Forest Park, Manila City Hall & SM Manila.
I know I promised to have blogged about this adventure but sadly I didn't get the time too. Why I was so lazy before, I couldn't understand.
Manila from the Met Theatre

Living it up in Corregidor


April 6 - Good Charlotte live at Glorietta. I wasn't supposed to watch this. Until I got a text rom a friend saying I got tickets. Who am i to turn down such a great opportunity?

April 10 - Corregidor (Including the Malinta Tunnel Light & Sound Show). This place is very, very pretty. It has a lot of history to it, which I absolutely adored. I didn't expect such a brilliant place like this to exist so close to Manila! The ruins are so well-preserved, and it is a place that is just so photogenic.

April 15 - Shakespeare in Hollywood. More of a bookish milestone, but I bought a deal online and watched this alone too. I love watching plays and musicals - even if it means that I am going to have to watch them alone!

Sumaguing Cave, Sagada

April 22 - Banaue, Ifugao, Rice Terraces (Only photo ops though). Sagada - Trekking the Banga-an Rice Terraces & the Bomod-Ok Big Falls (it was absolutely tiring trying to go up the steep & the bazillion steps going up from the falls. I felt my heart beating and screaming at me. Even drank a whole bottle of gatorade!!)

April 23 - Sunrise at Kiltepan viewpoint. Cave Connection - Lumiang & Sumaguing Caves (I loved the caving adventure!! It was such a thrill! I never knew I could do it). Sagada Pottery & Lake Danum.

April 24 - Echo Valley & Hanging Coffins - The Echo valley is soooo pretty!!
St Mary's Episcopal Church - saw the vice mayor giving out coffee. And might I say that the coffee in Sagada is really, really yummy??? Also the yoghurt - some say that it was really sour but it was nothing like I've ever tasted! It was good! Souvenir shopping at both Sagada & Banaue (we stopped over somewhere in Banaue where it was quite cold and foggy - absolutely cool!)


May 20 - "Defending the Caveman" play at RCBC - another deal I got online. It was cool & funny.

May 21 - Anilao, Batangas. Stayed at Balai Anilao. Island Hopping: Sombrero Island & Eagle Point.

May 22 - Anilao, Batangas. Twin Rock beach.

May was okay - I didn't rally get a chance to do much. I guess I was quite tired from April?

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Post Travel Depression & Itchy Feet

Itchy Feet. 

Let me confess something: I have itchy feet right now. Its Dec 10, Saturday, as I type this, and for lack of better things to do: I've woken up super early and there's nothing on the telly, I don't feel like watching anything - be it a movie or a telly show, and I don't want to read, I decided to write. 

Its been two months since the 3 1/2 month European adventure, 2 weeks since I came back from Cagayan de Oro City, and I'm stuck at home. Last week it was bearable, this week it isn't. :( Then as I was reading other travel blogs out there, it turns out that I'm suffering from Post-Travel Depression. (PTD). As the Sole Sisters suggested, if you're feeling down and out, wondering where else to go and what to do next, its best to share your experiences on a blog to reminisce and share to the world what you saw. They have a point. My friends have bee asking where I've been, where I'm going, and they do enjoy reading blogs to so here's something new for them to read about as well. This time, it's someone they know that's sharing the story, and not just something they have googled or surfed the net over. 

So yes, it happens  travel depression. The utter feeling of being stuck in a routine, wondering where my life is heading and is this what my life is supposed to be? As compared to the feeling of being free, going wherever your feet (and finances) take you, not a care in the world and just jumping out of the workplace and not confirming to what everyone is doing (work, make money, go home, sleep, go to work again)

I'm watching Samantha Brown's Passport to Europe and she's currently in Stockholm, Sweden. Oh, what I would give to just jump on a plane and go there. 

Let me tell you a little story: in 2008, I was 23, a year in my job, and was sent to London. I know I've blogged about this before, but I just want to reiterate this experience out. I've met people who I've worked with and are older by a few years who have managed to take a year off and travelled around. WOW. I want to be like that too. 

Two of my friends have just left their jobs a month ago and are currently travelling around South America right now. I'm jealous whenever I see their Facebook updates and their photos! Maybe I'll do that someday: quit my job, take a year (or maybe a few months off) off and explore Europe. Why Europe? Because if my time is limited and I have to pick specific places in Earth to go to, I would just choose my favourite continent! 

So, there. Even if I live in a third world country, I can do it. I'll just need to save, save, save and well, have the courage to travel alone (I'm not sure any of my friends would want to go with me given the tough expense of it all). 

But in the meanwhile, while I eventually make up my mind to do the ultimate dream, I'm looking forward to my future trips. I've already booked a 9-day trip to Korea so here's hoping I get a visa :) I'm thinking of going to Anawangin and to Tagaytay (again) in January, and going somewhere else from March onwards! 

The thing is: If you're feeling travel depression and your travel fund is depleted, give yoursef little perks here and there: buy a plane ticket on sale, go on an overland adventure somewhere (there's loads of other places in the Philippines that I have yet to see, within Luzon too) and that may curb up some of your sadness. Eventually when you get the money, you can now go on the trip you wanted :)

So, onto my next post & travel plan!! 

Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver

Summary from Goodreads:
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Thoughts - OH.MY.GOD. How could you write a review for a novel so beautifully written? One of the best books that I have ever read so far! This is all about the realities of death, and time - and how we don't hold it. AMAZING.

I picked this book up when I was walking through a local bookstore. I wanted to wait for the sale period (so i could get an additional 20% off but I just couldn't wait!) but couldn't so I walked home with this book (thanks to my National Bookstore points, I got this book for free!)

What can I say about this book? First off - LIVE EVERY DAY AS IF IT WERE YOUR LAST. I wish I could use that saying more but sometimes I feel as if I'm just living in a cyclical world where everything is routine. Anyway, I think the concept is not new for the book. It's like Groundhog day, but with a twist. I admit that I had my apprehensions as I was reading it, feeling as if I might get bored with details that appear over and over again but the author definitely played things up. Everyday in Sam's life is definitely different.

It's a good thing I read this book, it made me realize how important life is, and how interconnected we all are. One lousy or good thing that we do can directly affect others.

Sam as a character - well, she is a bit lousy, but I've grown to love her in the end. Kent is okay. Rob is an arse, and Sam's posse: Ally, Elody & Lindsay. I'm not sure how to feel about her posse. They're okay, they're typical popular girls in high school - and shows how peer pressure can definitely affect your decisions.

So, in summary: pick up this book, love your life, and live it! :)

Published: 2009

Available From: everywhere!
Book was: bought from National Bookstore
Rating: 5/5

Where the Heart Is - Billie Letts

Summary from Goodreads: Abandoned by her boyfriend at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma, Novalee Nation, 17 years old and seven months pregnant, soon discovers the treasures hiding in this small Southwest town.

I picked up this book at a used bookstore thinking I'll read it someday. It took years before I finally picked it up from my bookshelf because I needed to read something for a book club discussion about art.

What can I say about this book? Well, the fact is that I am not a big fan of the genre it is in, but what made me buy it, I had no idea. This book is very deep for me - it tackles "grown-up" stuff, things that I do not really want to read about because well, it is quite realistic and I read to escape, and to dream.

So, the story is all about Novalee, and how, when she was 17, was abandoned at a town in the middle of nowhere by her boyfriend. She's pregnant, only has less than $10 in her pocket and has nowhere to go to. She gives birth at Wal-Mart, she meets friends, and eventually finds her way and her "home" within that small town.

Novalee is a very strong character, that's for sure - I wouldn't be able to think about what to do first if I was in her situation: about living in Wal-Mart and giving birth there. But then again, when you're a teenager it feels like you're invincible and you could do whatever you want! The world is your oyster! It's amazing how things always work out.

Anyway - I couldn't really relate much to the story, and wouldn't say that I enjoyed it much. But it is a good waste of time for me!
Published: 1998
Available From: everywhere!

Book was: bought from Booksale.
Rating: 3/5

Blogging from Cagayan de Oro

Hello hello! I'm finally blogging again! Well, i found a decent wifi in my hostel at the moment and since I have time to kill, might as well spend it blogging.

As my title suggests, i'm currently in cagayan de oro city, a province in the philippines around 1 1/2 hrs away from Manila. It's a great place for white water rafting and also home tothe longest zipline in Asia - 840m. I went overbudget a bit but its ok - the experience wasworth it. What i didnt like though is the loooong travel time from obe place to another. Thankfully with books i managed to pass some of the time (well that and sleeping on the road too - our wake up call to get from one place to another is just really early and craaazy).

I'm currently halfway through Lauren Oliver's "Before I Fall" and since i'm facing quite a wait at the airport later, i bought 2 books at booksale in sm cdo for good measure. Suzanne collins "Gregor and the Overlander" series book 1 and Melissa de la Cruz's "The Au Pairs" - all for 95 pesos or $2 (£1.40). Amazing, isn't it?

Currently on the lookout for Jay Asher'S book "Thirtern Reasons Why" - here's hoping there's stock in Manila bookstores!

A Book Slump

Pardon the lack of updates recently. I find that I am going through a book slump where I always seem to try and pick up a new novel but can't finish it. I don't know, maybe I am just not in the mood lately. Well, even though I have been reading so much more than i ever had during the past 3 1/2 months that I was away I just feel lost, and I don't know what I like.

I do know that I want to leave and travel.. not be at home reading all these piles of books. *Sigh*.

Maybe I am just adjusting back to the life that I used to live. Oh well.

Expect more travel posts in the next few days. I can't seem to concentrate on finishing any books lately. Oh well.
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[Review] Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins

Summary from Goodreads:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

I love Stephanie Perkins - she has become one of my favourite authors since I've read Anna and the French Kiss. It took ages for Lola and the Boy Next Door to come out! So when I was in England, I preordered the book from amazon.co.uk and tadaaahhh got it a few days after the US release. Now, I didn't get a chance to tear through the book as soon as I got it, only a week after.

So, what do I think about the book? Well, I was a bit disappointed. I'm really sorry to compare this second book to Anna (expect quite a lot throughout this post), but for me, Lola is not as likeable and relatable to as Anna. Maybe it's the way she dresses, or the way she has gay parents (but I do have to admit she is very unique). I dunno. I just can't relate to the main character much, except for her confusion about her feelings for Cricket.

The book for me, is quite dragging in parts - it does not have its share of magical moments as compared to Anna. The only time that the book picked up for me is the latter part - where scenes with Cricket and Lola spending time together. Oooooh. Now that is a page-turner. :) Sad to say as well, while Anna & St Clair's characters do make their appearance in the book, I now find them quite cheesy, not like the Anna & St Clair characters I fell in love with in Anna!

I do like the book cover though - it's so pretty - green and purple. Plus the guy in the cover is HOT!

I know that a third book is scheduled to come out next year - Isla and the Happily Ever After, which is another Anna companion novel but I hope that the edginess of the original characters would not be lost in this third novel. Oh, and here's hoping that the setting would be a more exotic and exciting one! :)

I know my review may be a bit negative, but I had enjoyed the book, I really did. It just did not align with what I'm expecting though-- and Stephanie Perkins is still one of my favourite authors :)
Published: 2011
Available From: everywhere!

Publisher: Dutton
Book was: bought from Amazon.co.uk
Rating: 4/5

[Review] Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Finally - a book I finished after nearly 5 months! Hmm... just goes to show how easily bored I am in Manila and there's nothing much to do compared to what I was previously doing in London. Anyway, summary of the book from Goodreads:

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.
So, what do I think about the book? First off, I read the book when I was uh.. really emotional. So yes, I can definitely relate to the character, Lena, and feels that she has much to learn about the world. Or maybe yet I'm just lucky enough to be born in a non-dystopian society hence can think for myself.
I could say this book came at the right time for me. Well, either I found it at the right time or the book found me. This was just available at a local supermarket I go to buy groceries in front of work, and tadah, it was on sale! I couldn't say no, could I?
Alex - well, I would have wanted to have more back stories on him, but I guess what he did for Lena was sweet enough.. He's not such a loveable male protagonist but you'll learn to appreciate him along the way.
There was one name that recurrs for two characters (minor ones though) but the first time the name was mentioned brought me to tears. I wouldn't say the name of the character though - you have to find that out yourself!
Do I like this book? Hell yes. The concept is very much different from the other love story books that I've read. Imagine, a cure for love?? I was initially pondering on that thought during that emotional time that I was reading the book and it seems like an easy way out. Then again if it means cutting off part of your brain - and experiencing no emotion at all (ie you're like a zombie). Oof. NO. As they say - "it is better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all."

Published: 2011 Available From: everywhere!
Publisher: HarperTeen
Book was: bought from Tesco
Rating: 5/5

Greetings from Belfast!

Another non-book related post here, im afraid. I still need to finish 100+ pages of Delirium by Lauren Oliver before I could fully comment but all I could say is: WOW.

Anyway, im writinf this post from a dark hostel room in Belfast that I share with two other mates. I'm awake and ready but call time isn't for another 30 minutes. For some awful reason, I woke up twice! But no need to jump into the details. I'm currently in Belfast, Northern Ireland, enjoying my final weekend out before I get back to Asia.... I really wish I could stay in the UK forever but this run has ended. Boooooooo

Belfast is not as charming a citu as Edinburgh but its history is very much ibteresting. having come out of the Troubles only fairly recently, people are slowly discovering what this city has to offer. From the Europa hotel - which was the most bombed hotrl in Europe - bombed approximately 30+ times by the IRA to the murals that are painted on the sides of the houses that convey peace, political meaning, or just memorials in general. Some of the older structures still remain, such as the city hall and the cathedrals.

What's surprising is the faxt that the city is divided into two: the Catholics and the protestants, and is visibly marked by a wall which has a few gates that allow access. Each night, these gates are closed down by the police and reopened again in the morning.

Head to the Crown Bar to drink a pint (or maybe half) of Guinness and enjoy a night out at the pub with mates.The Irish and British living in this area are very, very nice
people! They are happy enough to point you in the right direction and are very accomodating.

Oh - if you have plans to go here and you're flying in from London, its more xonvenient to fly via Easyjet than Ryanair - just my humble opinion!

Still in London

Jolly old London town - the place I now call my home :)

I know I havent updated in the past few months- mainly because I didnt get to finish any books yet!! Yes, I know, I'm really slowin reading here but really, I'm having the time of my life!

After work, there's always a billion things to do - watch a play or a musical, go out for drinks or dinner with friends and colleagues, learn how to cook, or just hang around with friends. Then when I do get home, there's household chores to do: ironing, washing clothes, sleeping.. Or just chilling out in front of the telly.

My reading time has now been confined to journeys in the tube, a coach, or the train.

Weekends are spent sightseeing within London or within the UK. Now can yoi guys understand why I have no updates much? Ha ha

back to boring old Manila in 2 weeks. Perhaps i'll have more reviews then - i dont have much to do there anyway :(

Leaving Manila for London

I guess it's time to explain why I haven't been updating much: Iwas busy trying to collate and pass all my papers to the UK embassy because I'm going to London :)

I'm flying off this Friday - a very early morning flight [1AM] so please don't expect any regular updates to the blog. I'm only bringing two books with me in my luggage - although I don't know if I'll be able to read a word or a sentence in any of them while I'm out.

This is a business trip,so on weekdays I'll most probably be busy with work, and on weekends busy with sightseeing and trying to explore everything that I can within the area and out of town as well. Might as well make the most of the opportunity.

Hopefully I get a chance to go to soe bookish evens whilst in London, but I'm not really sure where to find them so here! :)

If I get a chance to blog about my adventures/places I've visited, I'll probably share some of them here, but mostly will share them in my travel blog, so please follow if you're interested:

Ps-> The books I brought are "Ribblestrop" by Andy Mulligan and "Madame Tussaud" by Michelle Moran. Sure they're not connected at all to London or England, for that matter, but I've got excellent travel guides that I'll bring along with me!

[Review] The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

Summary from Goodreads: It is in this, the second Holmes novel, that the great detective comes fully to life - not only as a melancholic and an inscrutable master of deduction, but also as an incurable drug addict. "Which is it today?" Watson asks Holmes matter-of-factly on the opening page of the novel, "morphine or cocaine?" "It is cocaine," Holmes famously replies. "A seven-per-cent solution. Would you like to try it?" Mary Morstan comes to Holmes in the hope that he will be able to solve a mystery. Ten years earlier her father, Captain Arthur Morstan, had returned to London on leave from his regiment in India where it is said that he and one Thadeus Sholto, "came into possession of a considerable treasure." By the time his daughter arrived at his hotel, he had vanished without a trace. The Sign of Four remains a small masterpiece of suspense, and the novel has enjoyed a steady readership ever since its first publication in 1890.

Thoughts: Well now, I didn't expct any of the events to happen one after another: a young girl triggers Holmes and Watson to help her find out what had happened to her father, then they discover a death, a native, a man without a leg, and end up with a river chase in the Thames. Oooh. Heartpounding. The book has the same formula: Holmes will eventually apprehend the perpetrator, and the last chapter/few pages of the book would provide a back story on the perp. Which oerall, provides a great conclusion to the tale.

In this book, Holmes is getting even more addicted to drugs, and Watson gets to fall in love. They all get their insecurities and their problems, providing more of an insight in the main characters as compared to the first book, which was just an introduction to them.

Although some parts of the story can't be relatable now [well, we are so technologically advanced now, who would ever think of consulting the newspapers or using telegraph machines to convey messsages anymore?] Holmes and Watson will forever remain to be amazing characters, well, considering the number of movie and telly show adaptations that have already been out over the years.

Published: 1800s
Available From: everywhere!
Publisher: Don't know - i think this is now availabel for free since the 100 year license is up!
Book was: read using the 1001 Classic Novels iPod Application.
Rating: 3/5

[Review] The 39 Clues: Agent's Notebook

More of a notebook than an actual book [well duh, Ruby, the title suggests it otherwise], this "book" contains bits and pieces of information about the branches of the Cahill family, status of the agents, and other bits and information that you could infer/gather from reading all 11 books of the 39 clues.

I think this is more for the die-hards, as it is a terribly expensive notebook, if you'll ask me. Sure there's monograms of the various Cahill branches on the pages, but that sure isn't enough to convince me to get this book though!

I think it's targeted more for the younger audience - there's a number of codes at the back of the book where you could try and break the codes [a few hours of fun, if you ask me - perfect to bring on trips to keep the little ones busy], and also a summary of the first 9 books of the 39 Clues.

Would I say that this book/notebook is worth it? Erm... No. Not unless you're a really big fan of the series. If I didn't get a chance to borrow this from a friend I would never take a second look at this again, to be honest.

Published: 2008
Available From: everywhere!
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Book was: bought from a used bookstore
Rating: Great YA novel! It's different from some of the other ones i've read [4/5]

In the midst of travel

I was looking at my blog today and saw that i didnt update for bearly two weeks. Gasp! Well, ill tell the reason why: ive recently went on trips to baler, aurora and took a weeklong backpacking trup to cebu and bohol. As im typing this blog on my ever handy upod at thw hostel in cebu, i realuzed that i havenr blogged any reviews about recent books ive finished! I honestly dont know when ill have the time to do si, seeing as im getting ready for a 4 month business trip coming up in 2 weeks time.

Anyway, im going home from cebu and bohol wirh two new books in tow- i found two booksale branches in cebu: one in smabd thw other in robinsons and walked away woth baby prof by emily griffin and speak!! Of course u included going to the bookstores as part of my sightseeokg itinerary, it is compulsory even if u dont buy anytjing! (and i normally dont buy anything full priced)

Of course during my other trips, i eill still go to tje bookstores, and share what i get. Maybe through an in my mailbox post or through more infotmal blog posts such as this.

I cant help thibking that one f the main problems i also encoubter whenever j travel is what book am i going to bring wih me. Unlike what other travel blogs sau, to bring a book that you would swap or lwave behind, i normally brin books that are very special and important to me so it coukd share in the experience that i had and i woukd remember those exeriences just By looking st the book.

If you coykd count the number of typos i had in this podt then apologies- its really hard typing on a teeny tiny tiucj screen much like this
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Nuffnang and Hapee Special Screening

Hapee makes you smile, hapee makes you confident, hapee gives you fresh breath. Oh and yeah, with all those write ups, why wouldn't it be first class? At its affordable price and availability, it's positively brilliant.

Nuffnang - one of the world's best blog sites. They don't just pay you for ads that they run on your blog, oh no, they also have these amazing contests for you to join! A-MA-ZING.

So, with those reasons I stated above, aren't Hapee & NuffNang both first class? They're having a movie screening this friday too, June 3rd, 7:30PM at Greenbelt. Wahooo.

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In My Mailbox # 26

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.

I'm actually waiting for my PC to finish it's disk cleanup so I have some extra time to post a blog today :)

So, here's what I got for the past x months of book buying.

Borrowed from friends:

Princess Diaries # 2: Take Two by Meg Cabot.
The 39 Clues - Agent's Handbook
The 39 Clues # 11: Vesper's Rising by Gordon Korman, Rick Riordan, Peter Lerangis & Jude Watson [review coming up soon]

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare - for a friend
So Yesterday - Scott Westerfield
Son of the Witch - Gregory Maguire

And a few other books for my friend [forgot the titles ha ha]

From my favourite Bargain Bookstore:

Wake by Lisa McMann - review coming up soon
A Great & Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
Rebel Angels - Libba Bray
The Sweet Far Thing - Libba Bray
Patience Princess Catherine
Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follet

Also saw Uglies by Scott Westerfield available at the bargain bookstore but resisted getting it! ^_^ I'm saving up for something BIG! :) 

So, that's about all the books I could remember getting within the past few month. What's in your mailbox? :)

I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it!

As I type this, I've already finished two books and haven't even made a review yet!

Why, you may ask? Well, I've just been really, really busy since I just started a new job - one that I had hoped to get for quite some time. And yay it's here [and no, it has nothing to do with reading]. With it comes another plus - and something very exciting [which I'm still waiting for]

I won't reveal anything yet. Well, not within a 5 weeks, but I'm just so happy ^_^

Pardon the lack of updates though. I'll get back to blogging uh.. when I'm not busy with real life!
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[Review] The Tree of Seasons - Stephen Gately

Summary from Goodreads: When Josh, Michael and Beth Lotts catch sight of some mysterious lights one summer’s evening, they are drawn into a dense forest near their home where no one dares ever go. What they find there is incredible.

The Tree of Seasons is a doorway into another world. There are four kingdoms in this world, each forever stuck in spring, summer, autumn and winter and each with its own ruler. The tree and the world it conceals have existed for hundreds of years and have never been uncovered by anyone, until now.

The Lotts find that peace has been shattered in this magical world. One ruler, who bears a remarkable resemblance to their aunt is intent on power at all costs. She causes destruction and suffering that threaten to tear worlds apart. Josh, Michael and Beth have arrived just in time to take part in the battle that the other three kingdoms have to fight in order to survive.

Thoughts: The book had potential when I read the blurb - little did I know that I would be extremely disappointed whilst reading the book. Initially, the story had promise - it's like Narnia, only written by someone else. Kids finding a magical world where magical creatures live. But ugh, the narrative and how the story was progressing definitely is not my cup of tea. It was confusing, it was unstructured, and it was quite redundant on some parts. Oftentimes, I find myself scratching my head and had to read some parts again - definitely not something you'd want if you have lets say, a bazillion more books that you would have to read.
Character-wise - they definitely lack character. Yeah, the three kids are siblings, and yes, they will do everything to try and save one another, but please - I know that at the start most of these kids have their own problems and negative traits that they have to overcome but they became so annoying! Ugh. Definitely not loveable. The villains - well, come on. There's always supposed to be villains - they should be hated, they should be hard to defeat. The protagonists definitely encountered the antagonist more than once, but ugh.. they always manage to escape. Seems bloody impossible, if you ask me.
The illustrations - for a children's book, they're not appealing. Definitely not. I wish the illustraions were cuter, more appealing, more - I don't know, loveable.
So, despite all my negative comments above, I picked up this book [and paid bloody hell of a lot of money for it] just because it was written by Stephen Gately - an ex member of Boyzone [bless his soul]. It was the first children's book he wrote, and I think he left it unfinished because he died unexpectedly. It probably took the editors a hell of a lot of time trying to edit the book out. And I guess I could forgive the story - since it was probably still under development and was just rushed out in the market.
It took me a while to finish this book. I now refer to it as my "sleepy" book - because for some reason, it just makes me sleepy. I would read a few paragraphs or pages every now and again, whilst reading telly or while preparing to go to bed. Hmm.. Not a book I would devour in a few sittings.
Published: 2010
Available From: the Book Depository
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Book was: bought from the Book Depository
Rating: Horrid, but since it was written by Stephen Gately, I would be more lenient in my rating [2.5/5]

[Review] Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot

Princess Mia has now come to terms that she is the princess of Genovia. Just a few weeks after, she has learned that her mother is pregnant, and is going to marry her Algebra teacher! Add to the fact that she is about to be interviewed on tv for the very first time. Oh, to be a princess and have the world on your shoulders.

Thoughts - Well, at least Mia isn't as whiny as the first book. And I think most of her diary entries this time are much funnier! I love some of the lists she writes. Her English Journal also is great! I also love how she deals with her feelings for Michael and her secret admirer - it clearly shows the torment that girls go through thinking if the guy she likes likes her too and tries to assess each and every conversation that they would have - including body language. Aahh, definitely something that I could relate to, even though I'm not in high school [along with Mia's other insecurities as described many times in the book].

The time interval that had passed between the first and the second book has been very minimal - so the story flows very smoothly between the two books. I find the TV interview funny - obviously Mia hasn't been trained very much on dealing with the press!

Nevertheless, this book is quite an enjoyable and quick read - perfect for the hot summer days

Published: 2002
Available From: everywhere
Publisher: HyperTrophy
Book was: borrowed from a friend
Rating: Okay - funny read. [4/5]

[Review] The Chancer by Shane Lynch

This is the autobiography of Boyzone member, Shane Lynch. While this is not a known book to most people [I believe this is self-published?] if you are a fan of the band then most certainly you have heard of this. The book chronicles Shane's childhood, as he was growing up, through the early Boyzone days, and what he did as the band had split up. 

I admit it, I just bought the book because I wanted to read more about the Boyzone parts - and I was happy enough with all the details that he gave out during the time. However, it would have been even better if there were pictures embedded within the book, and not just text. A lot of the other biographies I have read surely had these photos. It would provide the fans some insight on their lives.

I got bored at some of the latter parts - it appears that when he found God, it was always repeating, again and again. And well, the story on how he found the occult was quite boring as well. But then again, that's just me. I'm not that much a fan of him as a solo artist - I'm just a huge fan of the band he's in.

He also detailed some stories of the reality shows he was in - which to be honest, I can't relate to as I don't live in the UK and haven't had a clue what the heck are those shows for and who the other participants were.

Nevertheless, if you wish to read more about Boyzone, or is a fan as well, you could opt to get a copy of this book. It's not available on most bookstores - trust me, I tried looking for this at Waterstones and WH Smith's in London and they had no stock so I opted to get this online instead!

Published: 2008
Available From: the Book Depository
Publisher: ???
Book was: bought from the Book Depository
Rating: Okay - but some parts definitely bored me.  [4/5]

[Review] The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Summary from Goodreads:

Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes an Egyptian god, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe - a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

Thoughts - This is the sixth time I've read a Rick Riordan book, and yet, he has this gift of storytelling that makes you want to pick up his YA books! They are just so addictive! Maybe it's just his writing style, or how he connects to his readers, or how he marries historical facts with the story, or his humour - I can't explain it!

Anyhoo, on to my feelings and thoughts about the book. Given that I've seen other blog reviews and gathered thoughts from other book blog friends, it appears that this book is not one of their Riordan favourites. Well, if you have managed to read the Percy Jackson series, you would know how most of his stories work: two children find out that they have ties to gods [Percy - Greek, the Kanes - Egyptian], meet new friends along the way, have an animal that would provide valuable help to their quest. I think it's part of a formula that he had developed, which makes me feel that some parts are predictable: the red herring would eventually give it away - it is always someone close to them that's the antagonist. [sorry for the spoiler]

Enough about what I noticed about the books. I'm here to review the Red Pyramid, so I'll concentrate there. I listened to the audio book so it was nice to hear the banter between Sadie and Carter Kane, complete with the accents. Since the book was based on a recording that the two kids made, I think I enjoyed it better. Although I got lost at some of the parts [where the narrator passes on between Carter to Sadie or vice versa], and the thought of "Huh? What just happened" had passed on to me, I was quick to pick up where they had just left off.

The secondary characters are loveable - I cannot believe there are that many Egyptian gods in the first place, and the Ushabtis definitely caught me off guard. What, with doughboy being so loveable and all. The other animals are absolutely cute and loveable too - Philip of Macedonia, Khufu, and Bast/Fluffy. Then again, I am always positive about stories with animals as characters.

The book was fast-paced, circling through a few weeks in the first chapter, but drastically sped up even faster at the final chapter, which moved on to a few months. Nevertheless, I wouldn't consider that to be an impediment on how the story was told.

Since this is a part of the series [I believe book 2 is out now as I type this], there is a cliffhanger, which I suppose has to deal with a new character to be introduced in the next book. I guess I'll have to wait and see until I read the next book to check out that character.

Overall, I find it a good read, regardless of some of the disappointed reviews around the web.

Published: 2010
Available From:everywhere
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Book was: listened to [audiobook]
Rating: Another good read from Rick Riordan [4/5]

[Review] Take That - Take One

This book is a pictorial of the first 6 years of Take That, from 1990-1996. Aptly named Take One [from the first time that they were around], it was a nice look back to some older, never-before-seen photos of the band.

I was not really a fan of them the first time around, so it was quite funny to see most of the photos from when they were *ahem* a spandex, leather-wearing boy band, who appealed to some gays, and other teenagers. I particularly never liked the songs they had back then, until Back For Good came out, which was monumental.

Anyway, I loved the commentaries provided by the band - they were not as many as from Take Two, but nevertheless it gave me an idea of what the lads were thinking of and a brief story at the time that the photos had been taken.

It is a must-have for the TT fans - I initially had second thoughts about getting this book, seeing as I already have Take Two, but I couldn't pass the chance! A little background though - the book was sold out at the Book Depository so I asked a friend of mine from Dubai to get a copy of it. Good thing it was still available there ;)

I would have loved to post some of my favourite photos here but sadly, my computer is acting up. Some of them included photos of Jason reading a fan letter, and uh.. some other photos of Jason. Isn't it obvious he's my favourite? :)

Don't expect too much from this book though. It's not a biography of sorts about the band - if you need an insight of what is going on within TT, read Gary Barlow's My Take book [if you could grab a copy of it as well]

Published: 2009
Available From: Amazon.
Publisher: Penguin books/Michael Joseph
Book was: bought from Dubai
Rating: Excellent photo book - esp if you're a fan of the band[5/5]

Books for Swap

Because my shelves are overflowing and I need to have a new selection of books, I'm going to list down all the books I'd like others to read/appreciate since I'm not going to read them any more.

For me, life is too short to read all my book collections again - so I'm weeding down the ones I'm keeping to those that I really love.

So without further adieu, below are books I'm willing to swap with. If you're interested in any of the books below, feel free to leave a comment below with a book you can swap with. This offer is valid only to Manila residents who can meet up with me. Apologies but I don't have the budget to send books abroad or within the area via courier.

I will update this list as soon as I have other books that I'll let go of :)

Wishlist - any YA/paranormal/fantasy fiction that I haven't read and would love to read. Just state the title of the book you wish to swap something with :)

Books for Swap:

1. Amazing Grace - Tara FT Sering. Almost-new condition.
2. Wish You Were Dead - Todd Strasser [Hardcover]. Almost-new condition.
3. The Red Pyramid - Rick Riordan [TP]. Good condition.
4. Bridget Jones Diary - Helen Fielding. Okay condition. [yellowed pages though]. MMP
5. Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told - Ronan Smith. Good condition. [You could get this for free]
6. Cause Celeb - Helen Fielding. Okay condition. [yellowed pages though]. MMP

In My Mailbox # 25 The Travel Book Special

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.

So, Fully Booked just had a sale at Top Shelf at their The Fort Branch recently. And by god, was it a great sale. Books from P50, P70, and P100. Their original price? It varies. But then I discovered the travel book table and most of the books I got were only P50!

If you know the prices of books in Manila, then you'll know that the travel guidebooks cost around P800 to as high up as P1000+. Definitely out of my budget.

I don't normally buy guidebooks when I travel. I mostly search on the internet and read through blogs and forums to get an idea of itineraries and where to go and build my own trip from there, but how could I resist not buying the below? They are just cheaper! :)

So, here's what I got:
- Directions: Edinburgh.
- Timeout: London
- Timeout: Weekend Breaks in Great Britain & Ireland
- Timeout: London Walks 2
- Lonely Planet: The Gap Year Book
- Eyewitness Travel: Rome

I passed on getting a copy of Lonely Planet: Eastern Europe [I won't be going there anytime soon], Timeout: Lisbon [Portugal- again, won't be getting anywhere soon], Timeout: Berlin [Germany - maybe within the next three years? Maybe?]

There were loads of guidebooks there - I just had to contain myself and NOT buy everything that I see. I had to rationalize that I will only get books that I would read within the near future, and well, there may be other book sales that I could get some of the other books of other places from. :)

Speaking - National Bookstore has a 20% off summer sale. I'm still contemplating if I'll get a copy of the Lonely Planet travel book. But it's just sooo expensive [yes, even at 20% off]

[Review] 39 Clues # 9 - Storm Warning by Linda Sue Park

Summary from Goodreads:

On the hunt for The 39 Clues, Amy and Dan Cahill uncovered shocking information about their past - from what happened the night their parents died to the shattering discovery about their family branch.
But the biggest secret of all remains behind Grace Cahill's alternate will. Now, Amy and Dan are about to discover a long-hidden secret of the Cahils - a secret so dangerous that people died to protect it. Will this be the end of them? Or just the end of everything they think they knew?

Thoughts - This time, Dan and Amy go to the Carribean to search for a clue that was left by a female pirate whose name they found on a locket in China [ooooh]. While Dan and Amy decide not to trust Nellie for most of the trip, they also learn more about their family branch. 

What I truly liked about this book is the background about the Madrigals - what their goals are, where they come from, and who was the founder. Finally, it also revealed who the man in black [or gray] was, and how all the loose ends tie up from the past 8 books. One more book to go, and the conclusion [well, that's what I thought at first, until the Vesper's Rising book came out]

What I don't like about this book - another death/tragedy to happen in the series. *sigh* For a children's book there's definitely a dark side to the series! Anyway, I'm not happy with how the death scene was done. When I was reading it, I was thinking "wait, that's it?? No happy ending?" and wishing that the person who died in the book would magically come back to life near the end of the book and say he/she was just faking their death as part of the hunt. Oh well. I guess some books definitely don't end in happy endings. 

Surprisingly, I cruised through this book quite easily - considering I was rambling about and complaining on my other posts that the series is now too long and is a bit boring. I can't believe I said that.

Can't wait to read book 10 then!

Published: 2010
Available From: everywhere!
Publisher: Scholastic
Book was: Borrowed from a friend.
Rating: Good. [3/5]

In My Mailbox # 24 The Michelle Moran Special

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.

This week's In My Mailbox is a special one - dedicated to all the books/stuff I got from author, Michelle Moran!! For those of you who don't know, Michelle Moran is one of my favourite authors. She writes historical fiction and has written four books to date: Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, Cleopatra's Daughter and her latest, Madame Tussaud.

I read and reviewed Michelle's third novel, Cleopatra's Daughter way back in January 2010 and was more than excited when she sent me an email, asking if I was interested in reading her latest offering, Madame Tussaud - HELL YES!

After a few weeks, I got this letter in the post [picture on the left]. It was handwritten by Michelle and written on a stationery with I presume, Marie Antoinette on the side. Interesting! What's really cool was that the stamp on the envelope it was in was very, very unique! It was designed after the final cover of Madame Tussaud! OMG!!!

So, I was still waiting for the book to arrive in the mail, but before that, Michelle was offering signed bookplates up on her website. I jumped at the chance and signed up for three. It came with a bonus bookplate too! So I got four, one for every book that she has written :) Of course, I stuck one on my copy of Cleopatra's Daughter, and stuck another one [the one with Nefertiti] on my copy of Nefertiti.

But wait, there's more! The same week after I got the bookplates, my copy of Madame Tussaud arrived! I thought it was lost forever in the mail, turns out it was just misdirected to another town's post office.

If you live in the Philippines, you'll know that whenever you receive small parcels via post, you'll have to collect them from your city's pot office and pay a customs fee. I live in a place called Muntinlupa, and the closest post office we have in our city is in Alabang. However, the book was mailed to the Las Pinas post office - around 40 minutes away from my place!

Nevertheless, I asked someone from the house to make the semi-long commute to get the book for me and tadaaaah! It's now on my hands!! I can't believe it! I got an ARC!

But wait, there's more!!  I was browsing on the internet, looking for some used books that I'm looking for, and one of the sites I frequent, Julie's Sari-Sari Store, had Nefertiti up for sale!!

I immediately reserved it [along with a few others on my wishlist], and got the book a day later! What a wonderful surprise!! Now I have 3 books by Michelle and I just need The Heretic Queen to complete my collection. I won't give up trying to find it though! I know it's out there somewhere, and if I can't find it in Manila, there's always the Book Depository!

I'm a happy, happy girl! I can't wait to start reading Madame Tussaud and Nefertiti! Watch out for my reviews soon! And if all goes well, Madame Tussaud and Nefertiti will go with me on my trip of a lifetime. If all goes well :)

All three books pictured below!

So, what did you guys get in your mailboxes? Care to share? :)

Review: The 39 Clues # 8: The Emperor's Code by Gordon Korman

Summary from Goodreads: 

As the race to find the 39 Clues builds to its explosive finish, Amy and Dan must steal a Clue guarded by thousands of the world's best soldiers. With their enemies closing in, the siblings are separated. Together, they almost have a chance, but alone ...Could the search for this Clue spell the end of Amy and Dan?

The first few pages of this book and it made me want to jump on a plane to Beijing [hello budget airlines]. In this book, a certain twist made me more interested than usual: Dan and Amy got separated after an argument about their parents. Oooh! And in this book, we get to see the life of Jonah Wizard, and meet his mom too!

As Dan and Jonah travel around China in search of clues [and supposedly while in search of Amy], Amy is fretting about her brother in Beijing.

This scenario definitely was something I did not expect. And given the clues, we see the humanity behind all of the deceit and the lies.

Did I enjoy the book? Yes. It was quite a good read as well. I immediately launched on the 9th book of the series. Was the book presented or written well? Absolutely. If not, I wouldn't want to jump on a plane to Beijing immediately!

Published: 2010
Available From: everywhere!
Publisher: Scholastic
Book was: Borrowed from a friend.
Rating: Good. [3/5]

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