Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:
From one of the most consistently astute and engaging social commentators of our day comes another look at the tough and tender women of New York City--this time, through the lens of where they live.

One Fifth Avenue, the Art Deco beauty towering over one of Manhattan's oldest and most historically hip neighborhoods, is a one-of-a-kind address, the sort of building you have to earn your way into--one way or another. For the women in Candace Bushnell's new novel, One Fifth Avenue, this edifice is essential to the lives they've carefully established--or hope to establish. From the hedge fund king's wife to the aging gossip columnist to the free-spirited actress (a recent refugee from L.A.), each person's game plan for a rich life comes together under the soaring roof of this landmark building.

Acutely observed and mercilessly witty, One Fifth Avenue is a modern-day story of old and new money, that same combustible mix that Edith Wharton mastered in her novels about New York's Gilded Age and F. Scott Fitzgerald illuminated in his Jazz Age tales. Many decades later, Bushnell's New Yorkers suffer the same passions as those fictional Manhattanites from eras past: They thirst for power, for social prominence, and for marriages that are successful--at least to the public eye. But Bushnell is an original, and One Fifth Avenue is so fresh that it reads as if sexual politics, real estate theft, and fortunes lost in a day have never happened before.

From Sex and the City through four successive novels, Bushnell has revealed a gift for tapping into the zeitgeist of any New York minute and, as one critic put it, staying uncannily "just the slightest bit ahead of the curve." And with each book, she has deepened her range, but with a light touch that makes her complex literary accomplishments look easy. Her stories progress so nimbly and ring so true that it can seem as if anyone might write them--when, in fact, no one writes novels quite like Candace Bushnell. Fortunately for us, with One Fifth Avenue, she has done it again.

MY TAKE:

One Fifth Avenue is dubbed as the Gossip Girl book for those who prefer to read Edith Wharton. Or something like that, anyway. One Fifth Avenue certainly reads something like Gossip Girl, mixed with some Sex and the City.

One Fifth Avenue is about the lives of the residents and guests of One Fifth Avenue. There's Enid Merle, a long-time resident of the building; Schiffer Diamond, a movie star; Philip Oakland, a well-known screenwriter; Paul and Annalisa Rice, a hedge fund manager and his wife; and James, Mindy and Sam Gooch, a novelist, his more successful wife and their genius son.

Seeing as how I've never been to New York, I don't know how accurate the portrayal of New York is. Assuming that it's more or less correct, then yes, this is an enjoyable book.

There are some very annoying characters in this book, particularly Lola Fabrikant, Philip's manipulative and gold-digging girlfriend, and Mindy Gooch, the nutty and never-satisfied wife of novelist James Gooch.

The novel is a lot like an episode of Gossip Girl (lies, betrayal, sex) but for the older set. As such, there were parts that I found boring. It's kind of sad, though, that the characters in the novel who were my age were shallow, bitter and only interested in getting ahead and making an obscene amount of money. Lola's argument was that we grew up in a world wherein we get everything instantly and people can become rich and famous just by starring in reality shows. Everyone is in a hurry to get rich and be more successful. An uncomfortable truth right there.

THE GOOD:
  1. It's entertaining.
  2. It gives a glimpse into the lives of people who have lots of money and those who want even more.
  3. You start to wonder if you're anything like these people.
THE BAD:
  1. It's not the deepest book out there.
  2. The characters can be annoying.
FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
"Everyone always says that, but it isn't true. These days you have to make it right away. Or you get left behind."
READ IT IF:
  1. You like chick lit.
  2. You've always wondered how the rich and famous live.
  3. You're young and are feeling the rush to get ahead in life.
RATING:
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: Lor Mandela - Destruction from Twins by L. Carroll


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:

Part I (Destruction From Twins)
When a selfish enchantress seeks to steal mystical powers from her twin sister, she sentences the world of Lor Mandela and its inhabitants to death. In an effort to preserve itself, the soul of the planet appoints a Child of Balance named Audril Borloc who must solve a prophetic riddle known as the Advantiere. All hope seems lost, however, when shortly after her fourth birthday, Audril disappears without a trace.
Desperate to save their world, Lor Mandelan spies travel to Earth in search of the little girl with black hair and bright blue eyes-traits that on Lor Mandela are exclusive to the ruling family, Borloc. Instead, they find seventeen-year-old Maggie. While the age difference between the girls is obvious, Maggie has the Borloc traits-evidence enough for the eager spies. They devise a plan to get Maggie to Lor Mandela, but will their scheme be successful? And what if they have the wrong girl? Who will save Lor Mandela then?
Part II (And So It Must End)
Maggie Baker has always wished for a more eventful life. Unfortunately, she is about to get it. Following an earthquake that no one seems to have felt but her, her mundane existence is thrown into a roller-coaster ride of twists and turns as she suddenly finds herself bouncing back and forth between her hometown of Glenhill, Iowa and the distant world of Lor Mandela. On this strange planet, Maggie must learn who to trust, and who to fear. More importantly, she must find a way to convince the Lor Mandelans that she is not the Child of Balance, and her family and friends in Iowa (and herself for that matter) that she is not going insane.
Amid fighting a two-headed creature, being captured by a lawless band of Shadow Dwellers, and falling head-over-heels for the enchanting son of an evil warlord, Maggie sees the lines of the Advantiere unfold around her. It isn't long before she discovers that her blasé reality could be the real fantasy, and that the fate of an entire world may actually depend on her.

MY TAKE:

I like a good fantasy novel and this book does not disappoint.

The book begins in Lor Mandela where Anika plots to gain power after the position she covets is given to her twin sister. Unfortunately, her actions cause a chain of events that threaten to destroy Lor Mandela. The second part of the novel focuses on Maggie Baker, who is bored with life in her small town. When she's dragged into the world of Lor Mandela, however, it's more excitement than she bargained for.

The first part of the book moves at a pretty fast clip, as it spans several generations of Lor Mandelans. It took me a little while to immerse myself in the book since I had to familiarize myself with the terms that were exclusive to the planet. The terms were easy enough to figure out, though, and it was a nice touch seeing as how some fantasy authors forget to change up the names/labels in their worlds to give it a more personal touch.

As for the characters, most of them were quite endearing and interesting. Maggie annoyed me at times but she was able to redeem herself in the end so it was okay. There was only one character who I didn't like, and who I shall not name so I don't end up spoiling the story. She felt a little bit Mary Sue-ish to me, so I wasn't a fan of hers, even when she was first introduced in the story.

The story, overall, is very good and imaginative. The love stories/relationships were predictable, but that's okay since the story is what matters. The plot of Lor Mandela is well-thought-out and the alternating locations and viewpoints were utilized nicely.

THE GOOD:
  1. The story is well-written and imaginative.
  2. The world and its society are very detailed.
  3. Most of the characters are easy to like.

THE BAD:
  1. I'm not fond of the title. :P
  2. There's a character somewhere in the book who feels very much like a Mary Sue to me. *shrugs*
FAVORITE QUOTE/S:

“Uh, yeah, right,” snipped Maggie, “well, my life is way too boring. I mean, how much more blah could it be? I live in Dullsville, U.S.A.; I go to Ho Hum High; my dad is a freakin’ accountant, for heaven’s sake! Face it, Doc; I am the Mistress of Mediocre!”
READ IT IF:

  • You like fantasy novels.
  • You feel as though your life is boring.
  • You like action movies.
RATING:
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Join the Connecting Authors & Reviewers Group!

If you're a reviewer looking for books to review or you're an author who wants to get more reviews for your book, the Connecting Authors & Reviewers Facebook Group is for you! It's the perfect place to meet new and talented authors and reviewers. It's a very active group too. During the first few hours of my membership in this group, I was able to connect with three authors, one of whom is the amazing Jodie B. Cooper who asked me to review her book Stolen (Song of the Sidhi). :) See you there, fellow book lovers!


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Friday, August 19, 2011

On Queue: Stolen (Song of the Sídhí) by Jodie B. Cooper


Every vampire has a destined lifeMate, a mate who is a perfect match. What happens if that perfect mate is stolen?

Katrina knows Eric is her destined mate, but her high school rival has other plans for Eric.

Twisting the most ancient of Sídhí laws, Clarisse steals Eric from Katrina with binding words, knowing Katrina can't fight back. Or can she?

Dreams of death dance in Katrina's head, because no one gets between a vampire and her true mate.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Quote Of the Day

"The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say."
— Anaïs Nin

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Queue: Lor Mandela - Destruction from Twins by L. Carroll


Part I (Destruction From Twins)
When a selfish enchantress seeks to steal mystical powers from her twin sister, she sentences the world of Lor Mandela and its inhabitants to death. In an effort to preserve itself, the soul of the planet appoints a Child of Balance named Audril Borloc who must solve a prophetic riddle known as the Advantiere. All hope seems lost, however, when shortly after her fourth birthday, Audril disappears without a trace.
Desperate to save their world, Lor Mandelan spies travel to Earth in search of the little girl with black hair and bright blue eyes-traits that on Lor Mandela are exclusive to the ruling family, Borloc. Instead, they find seventeen-year-old Maggie. While the age difference between the girls is obvious, Maggie has the Borloc traits-evidence enough for the eager spies. They devise a plan to get Maggie to Lor Mandela, but will their scheme be successful? And what if they have the wrong girl? Who will save Lor Mandela then?

Part II (And So It Must End)
Maggie Baker has always wished for a more eventful life. Unfortunately, she is about to get it. Following an earthquake that no one seems to have felt but her, her mundane existence is thrown into a roller-coaster ride of twists and turns as she suddenly finds herself bouncing back and forth between her hometown of Glenhill, Iowa and the distant world of Lor Mandela. On this strange planet, Maggie must learn who to trust, and who to fear. More importantly, she must find a way to convince the Lor Mandelans that she is not the Child of Balance, and her family and friends in Iowa (and herself for that matter) that she is not going insane.
Amid fighting a two-headed creature, being captured by a lawless band of Shadow Dwellers, and falling head-over-heels for the enchanting son of an evil warlord, Maggie sees the lines of the Advantiere unfold around her. It isn't long before she discovers that her blasé reality could be the real fantasy, and that the fate of an entire world may actually depend on her.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Mine Till Midnight (The Hathaways #1) by Lisa Kleypas


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:
When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.
Wealthy beyond most men's dreams, Cam has tired of society's petty restrictions and longs to return to his "uncivilized" Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship--but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter.

MY TAKE:

A headstrong heroine, a Gypsy-gadjo hero and London in the 1840s. What's not to love?

Despite her family's sudden inheritance, Amelia still has a lot to deal with. The inheritance is quite modest; Leo, the eldest, has taken to almost every habit there is; and the rest of the family has issues of their own. The one rare bright spot in Amelia's life is Cam Rohan, a Gypsy living as a typical "civilized" Londoner. Their relationship, however, is quite complicated and hard for Amelia to label.

Amelia is a beautiful, voluptuous and stubborn woman. Cam Rohan is a rough, sexy gentleman. These two, obviously, are perfect for each other. Their personalities are both so volatile that their interactions and love scenes can be nothing but hot. These parts, of course, were the ones I enjoyed the most. Amelia and Cam's love story feels authentic and not forced.

For some reason, however, I couldn't really feel a connection with the other characters. Maybe because they felt like fillers to me. I don't know. Her brother's back story was a nice touch, though.

THE GOOD:
  1. Well-written love scenes.
  2. Cam Rohan is the perfect romance hero.
  3. You'll learn a thing or two about gypsy culture.

THE BAD:
  1. Amelia can be a bit annoying.
  2. It feels lacking.
FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Half amused, half alarmed by her force of will, Cam asked Merripen, "Am I dealing with stubbornness, idiocy, or some combination of the two?"
Amelia replied before Merripen had the opportunity. "Stubbornness, on my part. The idiocy may be attributed entirely to my brother." She settled the bonnet on her head and tied its ribbons beneath her chin.
READ IT IF:
  • You like your heroines headstrong and your men with a heart of gold.
  • You're looking for a romance novel.
  • You like romance novels set in the past.
RATING:
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Monday, August 15, 2011

On Queue: Mine Till Midnight (The Hathaways #1) by Lisa Kleypas


When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.
Wealthy beyond most men's dreams, Cam has tired of society's petty restrictions and longs to return to his "uncivilized" Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship--but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review: The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:

High-powered attorney Samantha Sweeting has just made a mistake that could snuff out her career. In total meltdown, she abandons her office and catches the first available train out of London, winding up in the middle of nowhere. Still suffering from brain freeze, she wanders first into a large mansion and then into a job as a housekeeper. Samantha's domestic skills are in severe disarray, but somehow she blunders through sewing, ironing, cleaning, and patching together her life. A winning "undomestic" tale from the author of Shopaholic & Sister.

MY TAKE:

After reading a lot of YA and "heavy" books over the past few days, this is just what the doctor ordered.

Samantha Sweeting is an uber successful lawyer who is working towards a single purpose: making partner at the Carter Spink law firm. When she makes a major error, however, she loses her entire career in an instant. Shell-shocked, she finds her way to a small village wherein she learns that there's more to life than travelling it a million miles a minute.

I liked Samantha. She's smart, funny and somewhat interesting. I guess the biggest draw of this story, for me, is how much I can relate to Samantha. The first few months (and year) after I left medical school, people would always ask me why I left. I got into a prestigious program that allowed me to skip two years of college and head straight to medical school. Why would I leave it? Some people dropped then subject when I explained that it wasn't for me. Most just tried to convince me to go back, saying how much of a waste it was. I knew they probably just wanted to help, but I found it annoying. It was my choice, not theirs.

Anyway, a lot of the other characters in the story were lovable, too. They wouldn't be out of place in a typical romantic comedy movie.

As for the plot, well, it's not going to win any awards, but it's a great escape from a stressful day.

THE GOOD:
  1. Samantha is a wacky, enjoyable heroine.
  2. The description of life in the countryside will make you want to take a vacation ASAP.
  3. It'll make you take a look at your own life.
THE BAD:
  1. It's not the deepest book in the world.
  2. There are some points that are brought up and then forgotten.
FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
“This is why we ask that you leave all electronic equipment in the safe. No mobile phones are permitted. No little computers.” Maya spreads her arms. “This is a retreat. An escape from the world.”
“Right.” I nod meekly.
Now is probably not the time to reveal that I have a Black-Berry hidden in my paper knickers.
READ IT IF:
  • You feel tired and stressed out.
  • You like Chick Lit.
  • You don't make a big deal about implausible plot details.
RATING:
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday Excerpts: The Undomestic Goddess


My heart starts to thump as I take in my situation properly for the first time. I am staying in a strange couple’s house under completely false pretenses. I’ve slept in their bed. I’m wearing one of Trish’s old T-shirts. They even gave me a toothbrush, after I invented a suitcase-stolen-on-the-train story. The last thing I remember is hearing Trish gloating on the phone. “She’s English!” she was saying. “Yes, speaks English perfectly! Super girl. Cordon Bleu trained!”
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Stories are like children. They grow in their own way. "
— Madeleine L'Engle (A Swiftly Tilting Planet)

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Review: Gravity (Gravity #1) by Abigail Boyd


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:

When Ariel Donovan's best friend goes missing, she has to face the prospect of going back to normal life without her. Mysterious things start happening to her, and she wonders if she's being haunted. Along the way, she meets new friends and encounters old foes, and it's possible that nothing is as it seems. Will Ariel find out the truth about what is going on in the small town of Hell?

MY TAKE:

In a nutshell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I'm not usually a fan of paranormal books, but Gravity is definitely not your typical such book.

Ariel has never really fit in and ever since her best friend went missing, she's felt even more alone. The start of the new school year starts to look up, however, when she gains some new friends and a possible love interest. However, strange things start happening which makes Ariel wonder if she's losing her mind or something more unusual is going on.

From the first few sentences in, I already liked Ariel. She was self-deprecating but still lovable, if imperfect. Her friends were also all pretty endearing. They were of certain stereotypes but they didn't feel like caricatures.

Abigail Boyd writes well, for sure. Her descriptions are poetic but not forced. It's easy to immerse yourself inside the mind of the teenage protagonist.

The story kept me on the edge of my seat. Several times, while reading, I flip-flopped between labelling this a paranormal book and a suspense/psychological thriller. It's actually a little bit of both. This isn't an all-out spookfest with your usual scary monsters, etc.. It's a subtle ghost story that kind of messes with your head a little bit, in a good way.

THE GOOD:
  1. The plot is interesting, and will definitely leave you eager for the next book.
  2. Characters are well-developed.
  3. It's not your typical YA book.
THE BAD:
  1. You're left with a lot of questions, though that's understandable since this is the first book of the series.
  2. I spotted a couple or so minor typos.
FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Maybe the way I looked at it had changed. I put it down to being older, and tried not to think about it. I seemed to be the only one who noticed.
READ IT IF:
  • You like mysteries/supernatural books/suspense thrillers.
  • You want to get spooked but not necessarily scared.
  • You've never read anything by Abigail Boyd.
RATING:
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Seussical

Here's something Filipino Dr. Seuss fans can look forward to: Repertory Philippines will be performing Seussical onstage at Greenbelt 1, Ayala Center, Makati City. The show runs from August to December 2011. For ticket inquiries, please call 571-6926.


Now one of the most performed shows in America, "Seussical" is a fantastical, magical, musical extravaganza! Tony winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty ("Ragtime," "Once On This Island") have lovingly brought to life all of our favorite Dr. Seuss characters, including Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, lazy Mayzie and a little boy with a big imagination--Jojo. "Oh, the Thinks You Will Think" as the spirit of imagination transports the colorful characters from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos.

For this version, certain plot elements have been simplified and runs approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes - perfect for presentation in schools.

The story centers around Horton the Elephant, who finds himself faced with a double challenge--not only must he protect his tiny friend Jojo (and all the invisible Whos) from a world of naysayers and dangers, but he must guard an abandoned egg, left to his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird. Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him, the only one who recognizes "his kind and his powerful heart." Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge triumphant, in a story that makes you laugh and cry.

- from the Repertory Philippines website

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Quote Of the Day

"There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you'd better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you'll never understand what it's saying."
— Just Listen by
Sarah Dessen

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On Queue: The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella


High-powered attorney Samantha Sweeting has just made a mistake that could snuff out her career. In total meltdown, she abandons her office and catches the first available train out of London, winding up in the middle of nowhere. Still suffering from brain freeze, she wanders first into a large mansion and then into a job as a housekeeper. Samantha's domestic skills are in severe disarray, but somehow she blunders through sewing, ironing, cleaning, and patching together her life. A winning "undomestic" tale from the author of Shopaholic & Sister.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review: Destiny (Rogue Angel #1) by Alex Archer


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:
An ancient order tied to the Vatican . . . A blood fortune buried in the caves of France . . . A conspiracy of power, greed and darkest evil . . .

Archaeologist and explorer Annja Creed's fascination with the myths and mysteries of the past leads her to a crypt in the caves of France, where the terrifying legend of the Beast of Gevaudin hints at the unimaginable. What she discovers is shattering: an artifact that will seal her destiny: a brotherhood of monks willing to murder to protect their secret; and a powerful black-market occultist desperate to put his own claim to centuries-old blood money. Annja embarks on a high-tension race across Europe and history itself, intent on linking the unholy treachery of the ages with the staggering revelations of the present. But she must survive the shadow figures determined to silence her threat to their existence.

MY TAKE:
I'm a huge fan of young adult books or any fiction book, for that matter, where I learn something new. Destiny certainly fits the bill.

Annja Creed is an archaeologist and part-time TV personality who hosts Chasing History's Monsters. While on assignment for the show, Annja stumbles upon an incredible secret that a lot of dangerous men are after. No problem, of course, for kick-butt Annja, if only she knew every piece of the puzzle.

Annja is like the Lara Croft of the archaeology world. Not exactly the most believable character, but if you're willing to suspend reality for a moment, she's an okay heroine.

What's great about this book, for me, is all the historical details and facts. I've always been fascinated with history so this book was perfect for me. Of course, with all the details and stories, it's sometimes hard to tell which is truth and which is fiction.

The book is also action-packed, which is great and would translate well onscreen. However, it's much too gory for my taste. The guys would probably like this, though.

All in all, this book is a page-turner. I'm eager to read the next book in the series.

THE GOOD:
  1. You'll learn a lot of new things.
  2. It reads like an action movie.
  3. Annja makes you wanna kick some butt.
THE BAD:
  1. The language and writing style is very simple, definitely meant for a younger audience.
  2. The action scenes are not for the faint of heart.
  3. Some readers may find the constant history lessons distracting or even condescending.
FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
"You're probably right. The world has forgotten more than anyone alive today will ever know." Roux talked as if he were an authority on that line of thinking.
READ IT IF:
  • You like thrillers.
  • You like history.
  • You like strong (almost perfect) heroines.
RATING:
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Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:

It's hard to imagine a world without A Light in the Attic. This now-classic collection of poetry and drawings from Shel Silverstein celebrates its 20th anniversary with this special edition. Silverstein's humorous and creative verse can amuse the dowdiest of readers. Lemon-faced adults and fidgety kids sit still and read these rhythmic words and laugh and smile and love that Silverstein. Need proof of his genius?
Rockabye

Rockabye baby, in the treetop
Don't you know a treetop
Is no safe place to rock?
And who put you up there,
And your cradle, too?
Baby, I think someone down here's
Got it in for you.

Shel, you never sounded so good.


MY TAKE:

I've seen this book several times but it was only today that I got to read it.

"A Light in the Attic" is a collection of poems for children. The topics and points-of-view vary from poem to poem, but all of them are clearly meant for children, even though some of them are a bit naughty (naughty as in bad, not naughty as in naughty).

What I liked about this book was that it made use of different poetry styles so it was never boring. The writing style is very cute, although occasionally the humor is dark. That said, I think this would be an entertaining bedtime read for kids, especially those with a short attention span.

THE GOOD:
  1. It's a great way to teach kids about poetry.
  2. Some of the poems are hilarious.
  3. Three poems that amused me: THE DRAGON OF GRINDLY GRUN, LONGMOBILE and ATIONS.
THE BAD:
  1. The dark humor in some poems can be disturbing to kids and/or their parents.
FAVORITE QUOTE/S:

HOW MANY, HOW MUCH
How many slams in an old screen door?
Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
Depends how good you live 'em.
How much love inside a friend?
Depends how much you give 'em.

READ IT IF:
  • You're a kid.
  • You're a parent.
  • You like poetry.

RATING:
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Review: Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:
There are two sides to every breakup.

This is Jordan and Courtney, totally in love. Sure, they were an unlikely high school couple. But they clicked; it worked. They're even going to the same college, and driving cross-country together for orientation.

Then Jordan dumps Courtney -- for a girl he met on the Internet.

It's too late to change plans, so the road trip is on. Courtney's heartbroken, but figures she can tough it out for a few days. La la la -- this is Courtney pretending not to care.

But in a strange twist, Jordan cares. A lot.

Turns out, he's got a secret or two that he's not telling Courtney. And it has everything to do with why they broke up, why they can't get back together, and how, in spite of it all, this couple is destined for each other.

MY TAKE:

The first time I read the blurb, I knew I had to read this book.

Jordan and Courtney are a former couple who are now forced to travel together to their future college for orientation. Along the way, there's a lot of tension, hilarious moments and secrets that are revealed.

The story is told from both Courtney and Jordan's points-of-view, and the story jumps back and forth from the present to the start of their relationship and how it progressed. It's not as confusing as it sounds because each chapter is clearly labelled with who is speaking and when that chapter happened. I liked how believable Courtney and Jordan's "voices" were. They were teenagers and it shows, in a good way.

To my surprise, the book was actually pretty funny. I had assumed that it would be a drama type of YA book, but it's not as dramatic and as much of a tearjerker as I expected. It had its cute and sweet moments, though, and the resolution of the story was satisfactory, if not a little bit open-ended.

THE GOOD:
  1. Courtney and Jordan are interesting characters.
  2. Their love story is cute. :)
  3. It's a fun and easy summer read.
THE BAD:
  1. The reason for Jordan breaking up with Courtney was kind of flimsy for me. I don't think that the breakup was necessary. Although, it could just be a way to show Jordan's immaturity.
  2. Courtney's dad was just a really weird, almost one-dimensional character for me.
  3. The plot is predictable.
FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
"That was a booty call!" he can be like, “No, it wasn’t, we had breakfast.” Like a modified booty call. It’s probably the new trend in dating.
READ IT IF:
  • You're looking for an easy read.
  • You're not over your ex and you think he/she might still be into you too.
  • You're about to start college.
RATING:
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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:

Who is the real McLean?

Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combing Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

MY TAKE:

Ever since I first read "Just Listen", I've been a fan of Sarah Dessen. She writes well and her characters are always well-fleshed-out. So how does this one compare?

For the past two years, Mclean has been living with her dad who regularly travels to different places in order to fix up restaurants. With each new move, she creates a new persona, sort of as a coping mechanism to deal with the move and the fallout of her parents' bitter divorce. Their latest move to Lakeview, however, presents a problem when she finds herself making friends and feeling more and more attached to the place.

I'll admit that I might not be the best person to judge this book. When it comes to Sarah Dessen's books, my peg is, and probably always will be, "Just Listen". In that sense, "What Happened to Goodbye" just doesn't measure up.

Mclean, in parts, seemed totally real and I felt that I could relate to her. She's a former basketball freak, and growing up in a basketball-crazed country, I can definitely relate to life in a basketball-crazy town. However, there were moments too that I felt like I didn't know her that well. I'm not sure why, though, since her history was discussed quite well.

I adored Mclean's romance with Dave, though. I liked that the romance was just in the background, and that the story was mostly about exploring family ties and finding your own identity. For me, that's the strength of this book. Mclean's relationship with her mother, whether you admit it or not, is very realistic.

Like any Sarah Dessen novel, there were also some very good dramatic moments in this book and I couldn't help but tear up a few times while reading. Overall, this is a perfect summer read.

THE GOOD:
  1. The characters are mostly relate-able.
  2. Cameos by your favorite characters, places and objects from past books.
  3. If you're a basketball fanatic and/or a restaurant/food enthusiast, you'll enjoy this book.
THE BAD:
  1. If you have a very good relationship with your mother, you might feel uncomfortable with Mclean's relationship with her mom.
  2. I wanted more restaurant moments and more Dave and Mclean moments. :P
FAVORITE QUOTE/S:

"Once you love something, you always love it in some way. You have to. It's, like, part of you for good."

"We make such messes in this life, both accidentally and on purpose. But wiping the surface clean doesn't really make anything any neater. It just masks what is below. It's only when you really dig down deep, go underground, that you can see who you really are."

READ IT IF:

  • You're a basketball fanatic or foodie.
  • You know what it feels like to want to reinvent yourself.
  • You have a tenuous relationship with your mother/father.

RATING:
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday Excerpts: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

For Saturday Excerpts, I will post a paragraph from my current read.

This week's Saturday Excerpts is from "What Happened to Goodbye" by Sarah Dessen.
So much had happened that morning. Yet it was that image, this moment, that I kept going back to hours later, after we'd made it safely to the walkway and gone our separate ways to classes. How it felt to have the world moving beneath me, a hand gripping mine, knowing if I fell, at least I wouldn't do it alone.

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Quote Of the Day

Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.

- Angela Carter



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Friday, August 5, 2011

On Queue: Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

Next book on my reading list is Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt.



SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:
There are two sides to every breakup.

This is Jordan and Courtney, totally in love. Sure, they were an unlikely high school couple. But they clicked; it worked. They're even going to the same college, and driving cross-country together for orientation.

Then Jordan dumps Courtney -- for a girl he met on the Internet.

It's too late to change plans, so the road trip is on. Courtney's heartbroken, but figures she can tough it out for a few days. La la la -- this is Courtney pretending not to care.

But in a strange twist, Jordan cares. A lot.

Turns out, he's got a secret or two that he's not telling Courtney. And it has everything to do with why they broke up, why they can't get back together, and how, in spite of it all, this couple is destined for each other.



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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review: Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal




SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS.COM:
Now with this striking new adult novel from author and creator Francine Pascal, millions of devoted fans can finally return to the idyllic Sweet Valley, home of the phenomenally successful book series and franchise. Iconic and beloved identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back and all grown up, dealing with the complicated adult world of love, careers, betrayal, and sisterhood.

MY TAKE:
Like most girls who grew up in the '90s, I was a fan of the Sweet Valley series. I loved the Sweet Valley Kids, Twins, and Senior Year series, in particular.

For the uninitiated, the Sweet Valley series revolves around identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica and their friends. Elizabeth is the bookish, smart and responsible twin, while Jessica is the popular, sociable and more irresponsible twin.

Like most women who grew up on these books, I was looking forward to this book, if only because, well, I grew up and I wanted to see what happened to these girls I grew up with. So what happened?

Well, Elizabeth is in New York, like I imagined. Everything else, though, was not. After a betrayal by Jessica (shocker, I know), Elizabeth runs away to New York and tries to start a new life. She's a writer at a small "Zagat-style" paper for Broadway. Definitely not glamorous, but she has settled in to that world.

Meanwhile, Jessica is still in Sweet Valley, and uber successful and contented, except for the guilt caused by hurting her sister. It seems, actually, that most of the Sweet Valley characters still live there. Hmm... Anyway, after Jessica's ultimate betrayal, I thought that there would be a lot more friction between the other characters and Jessica. No such thing. Or maybe it just wasn't mentioned. In any case, it makes it seem like everyone was okay with what she did, which I don't understand. I mean, seriously? Seriously?

The bulk of the book is mostly about Elizabeth plotting revenge and Jessica feeling guilty. Anxious Jessica is not really fun to hang out with but angry Elizabeth was quite entertaining. :P

Anyway, like most Sweet Valley books, this ends sort of happily. I mean, I'm not thrilled with the ending, but I don't know, I guess nostalgia made this book better for me.


THE GOOD:
1. We get to see what our favorite characters are up to. Some have changed for the better and some for the worse, sometimes uncharacteristically so.
2. They're adults now, so you know what that means. :P
3. There's an unexpected plot twist!

THE BAD:
1. Lots of inconsistencies within the book and with the rest of the canon.
2. Lots of out-of-character characters.
3. Why, Jessica, why?


FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
The room was still. And silent. Until she hit the replay button on the answering machine.
“Lizzie. Pick up. Please. I really need to talk to you.”
Never!

READ IT IF:
  • You're a Sweet Valley fan.
  • You're looking for an easy read.
  • You're bored.

RATING:

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Manila International Book Fair



Filipino bookworms, it's that time of the year again! :) The Manila International Book Fair will be held at SMX Convention Center on September 14-18. If you've ever been there, you'll know that you should a) start saving up now because you'll find a LOT of great books, b) get there early and c) wear comfy clothes and sneakers because the place is huge. Are you excited already? :) For more details, visit the Manila International Book Fair website.

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