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Archive for February 2011

In My Mailbox # 20

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.

Was in the mall with my friends for a travel expo and a fireworks show after and I couldn't resist the urge to drop by my favourite used bookstore chain. I walked out with this:
The Truth About Diamonds by Nicole Richie. I wanted to get this full price, but as I always say, "every book I could possibly want, I could eventually purchase at a discounted price".

I also saw a book about the two princes in the tower by Robin Maxwell [which I didn't get because it was a bit too battered for the price] and a hardbound Stephen King "Under the Dome" book, which I also didn't get because it was quite expensive, and I'm not entirely sure if I could stick reading the doorstop of the book that it is.

So, what did you get in your mailboxes? :)

On My Wishlist # 7

On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City.

I normally only feature one book a week because:
  • I want to limit the number of books I intend to buy in the future
  • It is much easier to update with only one book lemming a week
  • Easier for my friends to check if I already own the book or not.

 This week, my lemming is:


 It is a mammoth of a book - it's heavy, and it's expensive [$50+]
Why do I want it? Because it provides me a chance to travel to every country in the world, at the comfort of my own couch.
I do want to travel to each and every country in the world and see all these beautiful places, but due to monetary constraints, I can't... oh, and time as well, since as you know, we only get so much paid vacation every year [exactly 1 month's worth of paid vacation, in my case], so I think this is the next best thing.
I can't wait until the next bookstore sale so I could get my hands on this book! Gaaah!
So, till the next On My Wishlist post :)

[Review] The 39 Clues # 5: The Black Circle by Patrick Carman

Summary from Goodreads:
WHERE ARE AMY AND DAN CAHILL? The two kids were last seen in Egypt, hunting for one of the 39 Clues that could make them the most powerful people on earth. But no one has seen the siblings since. Has the ruthless Irina Spasky finally tracked them down? Or worse...the Madrigals? No one knows where the Clue hunt leads next. But one thing is certain – Book 5 is gearing up to be Dan and Amy’s most dangerous adventure yet.
Volgograd, Moscow, Yekaterinburg, St Petersburg, Magadan and Omsk. Those are the cities that are featured in this book. And what do they have in common? Russia!! A Lucian outpost, might I add. Oh, and a place that I would also like to visit at one point in my life.

Anyway, this book has the two Cahills teaming up with the Holts, as a mysterious clue sent by NRR within a given time period has them bolting across Russia, and knowing they can't make the deadline alone, sent the Holts to Siberia. Yay. I like it when the teams work with each other to accomplish a common goal! The Cahills also meet other allies throughout the tale, although I'm not 100% sure if they are indeed allies or are pretending to be one.

I like how the destinations were described. I actually googled some of them and was absolutely enthralled by them: The Kremlin, the Road of Bones, the Motherland Call,s and many others! It's a nice way to travel by reading, if you don't have the funds to do so. Historic figures were also prevalent in the book: Stalin, Rasputin, and the Romanovs. I also learned a new sickness: hemophilia! Anyway, whilst some of the plotlines stated in the book aren't exactly facts, they are certainly entertaining nontheless.

I'm starting to looooove this book series. Not only do each book feature a new country, with new cities, historical figures, and facts to learn and understand, they are also very easy to read! :)

Published: 2009
Available From: everywhere!
Publisher: Scholastic
Book was: Borrowed from a friend
Rating: Very Good! [4/5]

In My Mailbox # 19

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 am on a roll! This week, I got the following:


I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles.

I got this from a used bookstore near my place. Although it is a bit more expensive compared to my original budget, I just couldn't let it go. Historical fiction about one of England's beloved queens? Heck, yes!

For Review:

The Promises She Keeps by Erin Healy
Blurb from Amazon:
It's her destiny to die young. The man who loves her can't live with that.

Promise, a talented young vocalist with a terminal illness, is counting on fame to keep her memory alive after she dies. Porta is an aging witch and art collector in search of the goddess who will grant her immortality.

When Promise inexplicably survives a series of freak accidents, Porta believes that Promise is the one she seeks. But Chase, an autistic artist who falls in love with Promise and opposes Porta, comes between the women with his mysterious visions and drawings, and plunges everyone into a flesh-and-blood confrontation over the true meaning of eternal life.
Cute cover. How could I say no to this kind of book? It's brilliant!

[Review] Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry

From Goodreads: A resilient and quirky colony of church mice fears another Great X more than they fear cats. Under Mouse Mistress Hildegarde’s leadership, they save themselves from one danger after another—sometimes just by the skin of their tails! Can one ultimate act of bravery during the feast day of St. Francis get Father Murphy to bless these mice and keep them safe forever?
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you guys will know how much I adore animals, especially anthropomorphic animals - those that could walk, talk, and do the things that we humans normally do!
So imagine my delight when I saw that this book is available to read [and for free, I might add] via NetGalley.

So, what do I think of the story? I think it's waaaay tooo short. I wish Lois made it longer, gave the mice more adventures they could embark on, oh, the other possibilities! The story is quite straightforward, the mice are clearly unhappy about being tagged as pests, or rodents, and need to escape the great X [otherwise known as the exterminator].

I love the illustrations that were accompanying the book. With cute illustrations as these, and with characters that are just adorable, and so loveable, how could you not read this book? The supporting characters also provide bits of twists and turns here and there, and the mouse family sure knows how to work together to achieve a common goal. The narrative is beautifully written, and is appropriate for the young adult crowd. Wording is excellent too. This book is definitely different from the other Lowry book I read before ["The Giver"] but nevertheless, her transition has been excellent.

Published: 2011

Available From: everywhere [starting March 21, 2011]!
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Book was: an ARC via NetGalley
Rating: Very Good! [4/5]

[Review] The 39 Clues # 4: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson

On their hunt for the next clue, the Cahill kids find themselves in Egypt, the land of ancient pyramids! They would encounter a new ally, and would eventually add some romantic factor to their au pair. The Cahill children learn that Grace left something for them, a message from beyond the grave, that would eventually help them in finding the next clue to their puzzle.

Thoughts: Can I book a trip to Egypt within the next few months? Seriously? As I was reading the book, it made me envious at all the historical sites that Dan and Amy went to in order to find the next clue! They were so well described, it makes me feel as if I'm there as well, although, in reality, I'm not.

I love how Jude Watson has magically brought Grace back to life with the hints that she has provided to the children, and how everything all came into place, much like pieces of a puzzle. The transition from the third book to this waas so smooth, it was harder to think that there were two different authors that wrote the story.

There wasn't much deception and betrayal in this book as compared to the others though, and it seems as if the softer side of Alistair and Irina came out with this book. Oooh. Now that's a first. The photos accompanying the mini-clues were abundant. Yay. They provide a bit of mystique to the story too, as if I'm part of the chase.

Overall, the book provides much historic data, quite consistent to the story, and serves as an excellent backdrop to the hunt!

Published: 2009
Available From: everywhere!
Publisher: Scholastic
Book was: Borrowed from a friend
Rating: Very Good! [4/5]

In My Mailbox # 18

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 haven't done an IMM post yesterday, mainly because I haven't received or bought any new books lately, but this week is an entirely different story!!! :)

Won from One More Page:
"Anna and the French Kiss" by Stephanie Perkins. This book came as a package from the Book Depository [thanks again Tina!!! :) ] and I immediately dove into reading the book the day after I got it. Squee! Was particularly happy that the book arrived during a time when I was feeling sooo down and needed a little pick-me-up. The book definitely gave me that!

So, I met one of my closest friends again who is also a bookworm now. Wheee! I got to borrow the following: 
  • The 39 Clues Book 7: The Viper's Nest by Peter Lerangis
  • The 39 Clues Book 8: The Emperor's Code by Gordon Korman
  • The 39 Clues Book 9: Storm Warning by Linda Sue Park
  • The 39 Clues Book 10: Into The Gauntlet by Margaret Peterson. Note: this book is probably one of the thickest in the series. Not sure which is thicker: book 1 or book 10!
Anyway, even though I haven't finished reading book 4 yet, and just returned books 1-3 to its rightful owner, Rosie still let me borrow the rest of the series. She was quite scared that I would hate waiting to read the next book, considering we only meet each other once every month or every other month. Was supposed to borrow Percy Book 5: The Last Olympian too, but maybe next time :)

So, that's what's in my mailbox for this week. Care to share yours as well? :)

[Review] Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

From Goodreads: This penultimate series installment finds Percy, Annabeth and the satyr Grover furiously working to prevent former camp counselor Luke from resurrecting the Titan lord Kronos, whose goal is to overthrow the gods. When the heroes learn that Luke can breach Camp Half-Blood's security through an exit from Daedalus's Labyrinth, they enter the maze in search of the inventor and a way to stop the invasion. Along the way they encounter a lifetime supply of nightmare-inducing, richly imagined monsters. Grover's own quest to find the lost god Pan, meanwhile, provides a subtle environmental message. Percy, nearly 15, has girl trouble, having become something of a chick magnet.
Yay, I've read book 4 of the Percy Jackson series! Seriously, this book is more action packed compared to the other Percy books, I think. It's like every page is riddled with dangers, new demigods and gods to meet. I was literally writing a whole load of new characters [I don't know if they are part of historical Greek mythology or not] and wanting to research them. Action - this book I love. I am literally awaiting what may happen to any of the characters at every turn they make in the labyrinth.

In this book, Percy lands himself into a sort of love triangle between Rachel Elizabeth Dare and Annabeth. Ahh, to be young and confused in love. Of course, I know who Percy would choose, there is a small bit of a spoiler from The Lost Hero. But it is cute, nevertheless. I love how the characters are all growing up nicely and are maturing into great demigods, or cyclops, or a satyr.

I also think that choice is one of the main themes in the book. Each character practically had to make a significant choice in this book at one point in another: whether which path to choose, or who to follow, there are always choices, which of course, we all encounter in our lives. It's just a matter of living with our choices that makes us who we are right now. We may not always be happy with those choices, but hey, sometimes we end up being better than what we think we should be because we always learn.

Published: 2008
Available From: everywhere!

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Book was: Borrowed from a friend
Rating: Good! [4/5]

[Review] The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Blurb from Goodreads:
She's just a New York City girl living with her artist mom…

News flash: Dad is prince of Genovia. (So that's why a limo always meets her at the airport!)

Downer: Dad can't have any more kids. (So no heir to the throne.)

Shock of the century: Like it or not, Mia is prime princess material.

The worst part: Princess lessons from her dreaded grandmere, the dowager princess of Genovia, who thinks Mia has a thing or two to learn before she steps up to the throne.

Well, her father can lecture her until he's royal-blue in the face about her princessly duty no— way is she moving to Genovia and leaving Manhattan behind. But what's a girl to do when her name is PRINCESS AMELIA MIGNONETTE GRIMALDI THERMOPOLIS RENALDO

I first came across this book when the movie came out. Back then, I had no idea who Meg Cabot was, and how good she was. All I know was that Anne Hathaway starred in the movie, I loved the movie, and what would it really feel like if I woke up one day and find out that I am a princess of some unknown, but rich country? That would be the day!

And so, I borrowed this book from a close friend of mine, Yam. Well, I loved the movie, so maybe I'll love the book even more? Err... maybe not. First off, I find Mia too annoying in the book. I mean, quit whining, girl! You're the princess of Genovia, for crying out loud! You should be happy, take the responsibility, and take pride in the fact that you're royalty! But then again, maybe she is acting out because a) she is a teenager, and b) she will have to say goodbye to her normal, day to day routine of being just a normal girl. At the latter part of the book though, I've come to like her. She has grown to become independent of Lilly and well, eventually try to live a life of her own: princess or not. Ugh, Lilly. For me, she epitomizes a girl with serious problems.

I love how the book was written. It feels like I can totally relate to Mia, although I'm not Mia, and I'm not a princess. haha. But I feel for her, I feel for what she's going through, and not to mention, the writing style is very, very easy to comprehend. Ahh Meg Cabot, I will definitely read your other works soon! I'm going to borrow book 2 when I see my friend again! :)

Published: 2000 [that long ago!! 11 freaking years ago? Where was I when this book came out? Under a rock? Man, I've really got to get some serious reading done, imagine all those years and great titles I've missed out when I've stopped reading books]

Available From: everywhere!
Publisher: HarperCollins
Book was: Borrowed from a friend
Rating: Very good! [4/5]

[Review] The 39 Clues #3: The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis

Blurb from Goodreads: Amy and Dan Cahill have been located once again, this time in the company of the notoriously unreliable Alistair Oh. Could they have been foolish enough to make an alliance?

Spies report that Amy and Dan seem to be tracking the life of one of the most powerful fighters the world has ever known. If this fearsome warrior was a Cahill, his secrets are sure to be well-guarded . . . and the price to uncover them just might be lethal.
Alliances and Teamwork are the theme of this book. It is probably the first time where Amy and Dan would ally themselves with not just one, but two of their opponents to try and find out about the 39 Clues. It's cute though, the team dynamics of these people really stand out and makes their characters so much interesting. There may even be a potential love match between two characters. Ooooh. Interesting. This is a more interesting read for me than the second book, which was all about deception and double crossing each other. So not fun. I would prefer my YA reads to be happy, to be honest!

In this book, I found out more about the history of the Cahills, and take the reader to more destinations: Japan and Korea, and a hint to where the next destination will be. But obviously, since all the books are out now, you'll probably know where the next destination for the clue hunt will be.

This is probably the thinnest book in the whole 39 Clues franchise, so it is a quick read. This book is more graphic too. Graphic in the clue sense, of course. There are many pictures and hints that will make you think you're one of them, trying to solve the puzzles to find the clues together. Good thing all 10 books are now out, or else I'll go bonkers waiting for the fourth book to come out. I can't wait to read the next installment!

Published: 2009

Available From: everywhere!
Publisher: Scholastic
Book was: Borrowed from a friend
Rating: Very good! [4/5]

[Review] City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

I'm too lazy to write my own blurb, so here's the one from Goodreads:

To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her new found powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the final installment of the New York Times bestselling trilogy The Mortal Instruments
This book disappointed me a bit. After the high of reading the second book, City of Ashes, it all comes down to this. A lot of loose ends have been tied, and although some elements are predictable, there seems to be a lot more action in this book compared to the first two. However, what I don't like is that the incessetant comparisons/similes is back again! I thought it improved from the first to the second book, but in the third book, it's baaaack! The first 200 pages bored me to bits and pieces. Yes, I do admire how Clare has described Alicante, but some elements had me lost, which is much like how I felt when I read the first book. At one point I wanted to just stop reading altogether, but then again the investment of time I've spent reading the first two books and some of the third kept me reading altogether. Good thing the final 100 pages surely made up for the boring parts.

What else - this book is darker than the second book - it deals with war, death, and so much revenge and suffering. Seriously, even the demons are scary. I wouldn't want my young adult children to read this, but then again, for older readers like me, it provides a breath of fresh air. It also shows a unity to races that are not of the same kind, which is what we need in the world right now. What I don't like is that there were some meaningless deaths. Ugh. And oh, I would really want some more fight scenes - like detailed descriptions. That would make for an awesome story!

I also liked the fact that the characters are growing up and learning more about themselves and accepting their talents and who they are. Alec's, for one, is a very inspiring tale. Jace's is too - he definitely went through a lot.

This review is really hard to pull off without giving much spoilers, so I guess I'll leave it there! This book is also one of the thickest, longest books I've ever read so far! I wouldn't say the time I've spent in reading the book is definitely worth it though!

Published: 2009

Available From: everywhere!
Publisher: Margaret K McElderly Books/Simon and Schuster
Book was: borrowed from a friend
Rating: The book could be better - it was disappointing at first, but if you find that it bored you, wait until you read the last 100 pages - it is awesome! [3.5/5]

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