Jul 10, 2011

Review: Evermore by Alyson Noël

Title: Evermore (The Immortals, #1)
Author: Alyson Noël
Publication Year: 2009
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal
Links: Goodreads | Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle)

After a horrible accident claims the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever Bloom can see people's auras, hear their thoughts, and know someone's entire life by touching them. Going out of her way to avoid human contact and suppress her abilities, she has been branded a freak at her new high school - but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste. 

Damen is gorgeous, exotic, and wealthy. He's the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head - wielding a magic so intense, it is as though he can peer straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she's left with more questions than answers. And she has no idea just who he really is - or what he is. The only thing she knows to be true is that she's falling deeply and helplessly in love with him.

My two cents: This review is certainly long overdue. But, don't blame me...I've been busy. Where do I start? I admit, I was drawn by the cover. I debated with myself whether to buy this or not until one day, it was on sale and I just couldn't resist the temptation. First few pages into the book, and all I could think was that this is just another 'Twilight' (never been a fan of that series). I was wrong. Damen is not a vampire and Ever is not obsessed to be whatever Damen is. I, at least, enjoyed this one. I have to admit though that an immortal can easily be interchanged with a vampire (he he).

Character-wise, I could totally see why Ever would shut herself out from other people. Her unique abilities were well-explained. But, it's a bit funny how she seems to never care enough to find solutions to her problems. Anyway, that is exactly the point, isn't it? However, Ever's friends are sometimes so one-dimensional. Miley is the typical gay sidekick. And Haven is the typical girlfriend who never heeds her friends' warning. Now, Damen was described as gorgeous, exotic and wealthy. Well, I get the wealthy part...but I can't really find anything exotic and gorgeous about him. I have to admit, it was kinda appealing at the start but it just becomes a bit 'blah' after a while. Having said that, I still enjoy reading about him and Ever. And the antagonist is the antagonist...typical one, cheesy and predictable and stupid!

The story is nothing new...girl is an outcast, new guy comes, they fall in love, things happen. I still enjoyed it immensely though. Kudos to the author for making this an enjoyable read. The dialogues are funny and witty and are exactly what glued me to the page after page of the book. And yeay to the flower reference and all. I am all about the symbolic meaning behind things and the flower thing totally earned a few points from me. But, I do have a few complains about the ending or the built-up towards the ending. Everything just seemed so easy. I would have liked it better if it was a bit more complicated. However, all in all, an interesting start to a series. I already have Book 2 and 3 in my safe-keeping and I certainly can't wait to read them.

My verdict: 3.5/5

Jun 8, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday #4

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

It's been a really long time since I last participated and it does feel good to come back. 

For this week, my WOW is 'Haunting Violet' by Alyxandra Harvey. I love her Drake Chronicles and I hope I will like this one.

Description: Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother's elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother's scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she's known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

The hardcover edition will be available from June 21, 2011 onwards. And I'm hoping I can get my hands on it as soon as it's available here in Malaysia.

Jun 7, 2011

Review: After Midnight by Robert Ryan

Title: After Midnight
Author: Robert Ryan
Publication Year: 2005
Genre: Historical Fiction/WW2

In 1944, a Liberator bomber pilot never returns from a mission to Domodossola in Northern Italy. The aircraft and its pilot are seemingly lost for ever.

In 1964, his daughter, Lindy Carr, resolves to find out what happened to her father on that terrible night. She employs the help of motorcycle TT racer Jack Kirby, a man who has his own inner demons to combat. He was a Mosquito fighter pilot during the War and experienced at first hand the astonishing courage of the Italian partisans in the face of Nazi brutality. Jack is keen to find one of the partisans, a woman with a past as dark as the secrets she still holds close to her heart.

My two cents: Robert Ryan is officially one of my favourite authors. If I was impressed with 'The Last Sunrise', this one totally makes him one of my favourites. The book opens with a letter from a pilot posted in Italy to his soon-to-be one-year-old daughter (which was based on an actual letter), written right before he went MIA. Twenty years later, desperate to find out what really happened to her father, Lindy Carr hired Jack Kirby and his one aircraft airline. Soon, Jack Kirby was transported back to the years he spent with the Italian partisans and the role he might have had in the missing of Lindy's father and his Liberator.

I've read plenty of books with Italy as the settings but nothing captures me like this one. The WW2, as fought in Italy and the involvement of partisans in the war are not something I'm familiar with and in the beginning, I had quite a hard time following the events described. I guess a little bit of before hand knowledge would make for a smoother read. 

What I like the most about this book is that the story works at every level, be it the story of Jack's involvement with the partisans during the war, Lindy's search of her father or Jack's post-war life. The building of the pace is neither too slow nor too fast which is just right for my reading. The blurb suggests that this  centred around the missing Liberator and Lindy's search. It's true in a way but the missing Liberator itself is the key to many other unfolding events. The way Ryan intertwined the past (1944) and the present (1964) to build a complete picture is amazing, to say the least. I was totally hooked and I brought this book with me everywhere. The twist was unexpected, especially the one with Lindy and Jack's old love, Francesca.

Jack Kirby is complex. A man with his own demons to combat and the scars that war leave in him, I can't help but feel sorry for him and I keep wishing for things to turn better for him. But, the book is not all dark despite the theme and the story. It's written in a lighthearted way and the dialogs brought smiles to my face on many occasions. My only complain is that this story is quite short (only 300+ pages). The author ended it beautifully, in the wee hours of the dawn. The title might suggest at the darkest hour of the day, that is after midnight before the dawn. After all, the darkest hour is always just before the dawn and did Jack Kirby manage to go through it. 

One of Ryan's many strengths is to create believable settings no matter what the year is and this could only be achieved by extensive research. Though this one leans more towards fiction, the atmosphere portrayed stays close to how one might imagine war and its aftermath are like. If there is one thing that I learned, it is that wars leave scars in everyone and in war, nothing is too personal as people do many things out of desperation and the instinct to survive prevails for most of the times. All in all, an amazing read. 

My verdict: 4.5/5

Jun 6, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness (June)

Book Soulmates

Random Acts of Kindness is created and hosted by Vanessa and Isalys of Book Soulmates. The idea is simple, to spread the love to fellow book lovers/bloggers by giving them the books (and other goodies) they have on their wishlist. This is my first time participating, and I think that this idea is BRILLIANT.

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THE RULES:

  1. Sign up each month that you'd like to participate. 
  2. Show off your participation by grabbing the RAK button from Book Soulmates.
  3. Create a wish list (on Amazon, Goodreads, or your blog etc) and post it in the Google Doc located in each RAK post for the month (located at Book Soulmates). 
  4. If you choose to do a RAK for someone, check out their wish list and contact that blogger for their address. 
  5. At the end of the month, show your RAK to everyone! Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes and share it at Book Soulmates.  

Since this is my first month, I am yet to have someone to thank to.

Here's a sneak peak of my wishlist for this month:

May 31, 2011

Review: Hannah (Daughters of the Sea) by Kathryn Lasky

Title: Hannah (Daughters of the Sea, #1)
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Publication Year: 2009
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Hannah wants to be normal, but she's not. The sea calls to her, and she can see a delicate tracing of scales on her legs. Billowing waves soothe her, but flat land makes her sick. She knows there's something wild in her that's different, wrong - and deeply thrilling.

Only one person seems to know who - or what - Hannah is. He's a guest in the house where she works as a scullery girl, and his fascinated gaze follows her. She doesn't understand his terrifying allure, or her longing. But even as the mystery deepens, Hannah is sure of one thing. A sea change is coming.

My two cents: I came across this series while looking for something with mermaid to read (since I couldn't locate my 'Selina Penaluna' book). I was a bit reluctant to pick this up because of the mixed reviews it receives but it sounds like something I'd really like.

The book opens in an orphanage in Boston where our protagonist, Hannah had lived most of her life. Now fifteen, she was ready to leave the house but she was deemed unsuitable for the employment and was instead sent to Kansas. But Kansas, being far from the sea, made her sick and soon she returned to the orphanage and found a job as a scullery girl at the Hawleys' house, one of Boston's wealthiest families. It was at this house she began to slowly learn of her true identity and destiny.

I would say that the book is more of a historical fiction with a twist of fantasy rather than the other way round. Most of the book is spent on describing Hannah's life as a scullery girl in the household and the elaborate tradition of what it was like to serve in the 19th century in a house of a wealthy family. Though I would have preferred more if more pages were devoted to the fantasy part of the story, I nevertheless enjoyed it thoroughly. I never really read anything with historical settings that took place in the USA and I was kind of intrigued.

Hannah's true identity is kept secret to the readers for most of the book. Clue is given bits by bits particularly through the remarks of one Stannish Whitman Wheeler, a renowned painter who was working on a piece with the Hawleys. Though it is never made clear until a few last pages, it is very clear from the very beginning what the mystery is and who Stannish really is.

I have to admit that the romance between Hannah and Stannish felt a bit rushed. And I was kinda hoping that Lila (one of the Hawleys' daughters) was more than just evil and lunatic. Rather she is just a convenient means to Hannah discovering her true self. The youngest of Hawleys' daughters, Ettie though likable seems a bit too mature for her age sometimes and it is somehow unbelievable. I, nevertheless, love her for all the love she has for Hannah.

The only complain I have is that the story ended rather abruptly. I'd really like to know what would happen between Stannish and Hannah after all those initial attraction especially when he seems to have the answers to Hannah's many questions. However, I'm glad that there are two more books in the series and I hope some of the unresolved story lines in this one will be addressed. Though it ended abruptly, I have a pretty good idea of where Hannah's life would be intertwined with that of her other sisters.

All in all, 'Hannah' is a pretty good read. A very easy read too. I'd totally recommend it to younger readers.

My verdict: 4/5

Challenge: Historical de Tour Genre Reading Challenge 2011

Apr 26, 2011

Review: City of Stars by Mary Hoffman

Title: City of Stars (Stravaganza, #2)
Author: Mary Hoffman
Publication Year: 2003
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Links: Goodreads | Amazon (Paperback)Amazon (Kindle)

Georgia would love nothing more than to ride horses every day and avoid her annoying stepbrother at all costs. But she could never have guessed that a tiny, antique winged horse figurine would be the key to her escape to another world and another time. When Georgia arrives in a 16th-century city called Remora, she is plunged into a dangerous and treacherous world of horse-racing, family honour and deadly rivalry. And there, as a new Stravagante, Georgia will have a dramatic and extraordinary role to play.

My two cents: This review is certainly long overdue. In this second instalment of 'Stravaganza' series, a new city and a new Stravagante are introduced. The new Stravagante, Georgia, a girl from Lucien's past, lives with her mother, stepfather and stepbrother (who would go extra-length to annoy her) and is fond of anything horses. After saving up for and purchasing a statue of a winged-horse she spotted in an antique shop, she fell asleep holding it. Upon waking up, she found herself in a stable in Remora, Talia, the equivalent of Sienna, Italy. Divided into twelve sections, each section of the city is related to a sign of zodiac and everyone in the city was buzzing with excitement for the Stellata, a horse race similar but different to the Palio, the horse race held annually in Sienna. In the stable of Twelfth of the Ram, she saw a living winged horse, the first to be born in Remora in over a century.

Georgia was reunited with Lucien (now Luciano) and had a hard time accepting the growing relationship between Luciano and the Duchessa of Belleza as she once had a crush on him. She also met other Stravaganti including the owner of Twelfth of the Ram stable where she stravagates and she befriended crippled Falco, the youngest son of Duke Niccolo of the Di Chimici's family.

This book maintains the political intrigue surrounding the Di Chimici's family and Talia's city states (in particular, Belleza). This time, the political war between the city states is apparent in the form of the Stellata. There was much lobbying and there were some who believed that the Stellata is rigged every year so that one of the city states under the direct influence of the Di Chimici would win the race. Also, a little more is revealed about the act of stravagazing. It seems that the talisman would find its way to someone who is not happy in our world. Lucien was suffering from brain cancer and Georgia is constantly being bullied by her stepbrother. Often Stravaganti find their way to Talia in times when one of the city states of Talia needs their help.

It was a bit hard getting into the story at first since I just couldn't picture how the city is divided into twelve parts despite the wonderful description by the author. Add to it, all the rivalries and alliances among the twelve parts. Each Twelfth owes allegiance to another city states of Talia though they are located in Remora. This is quite confusing and often I lost track of who are the allies and who are the rivals of each Twelfth. But, as the story progressed, things did become clearer.

Of all the characters, including those newly introduced, I found Falco very moving. The relationship between him and his brother, Gaetano reminds me of those moving stories we often heard about siblings making sacrifices for each other. The decision taken by Falco, though, have consequences on more people than just himself and not just on the lives of those from Talia.

It is easy to see the parallel between what happened to Lucien in the first book and the adventures gone through by Georgia in this one, though their adventures are different in nature. All in all, a great sequel to its first instalment.

My verdict: 4/5

Apr 3, 2011

In My Mailbox #2

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted at The Story Siren every Sunday. The aim is to share the new stuff we got for the week with other participants of the meme. Books don't have to literally come in our mailbox. The idea is just to share what's new on our book stacks.

This is how my mailbox looks like this week:


Title: Keep Me in Your Heart: Three Novels
Author: Lurlene McDaniel
Publication Year: 2010
Genre: Young Adult

Three of Lurlene McDaniel's bestselling novels in one volume. Readers will relate to the compassion and strength of the characters as they piece their lives back together after tragedy strikes.

Saving Jessica: Jessica McMillan and Jeremy Travino are a perfect couple. When they met in high school, Jessica's upbeat spirit helped Jeremy to see that there must be a reason he was spared in the car accident that killed his brother. But now Jessica has been diagnosed with kidney failure. Her only hope is a kidney transplant but no one in her family is a match. Jeremy believes that his life was spared so he could save Jessica by donating a kidney. Will Jeremy go against his parents' wishes to do what he must to save Jessica?

Telling Christina Goodbye: Trisha Thompson and her best friend, Christina, are having a great senior year. The girls love to double-date -- which would be perfect if only Trisha got along with Christina's boyfriend, Tucker. Their lives are forever changed when one night Tucker drives them all home from a basketball game. He hits black ice and the car overturns. The aftermath is devastating. Can those who are left behind learn to heal and find the courage to move on?

Letting Go of Lisa: Nathan Malone has always been home-schooled, so he hasn't spent much time with kids his own age. Then circumstances change. On the first day of senior year at a local school, he notices Lisa. Lisa is a loner, but she is attracted to Nathan. Nathan is the happiest he's ever been. But Lisa has a tragic secret and when she decides to deal with it herself, Nathan has to make a choice. Can he ever let go of Lisa?

Now three novels in an edition, isn't that just great? I'm on the second novel.

And I also got myself this:


Title: City of Flowers (Stravaganza, #3)
Author: Mary Hoffman
Publication Year: 2005
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Everything changes for Sky when he finds a perfume bottle that whisks him away to the city of Giglia, an ancient city similar to Florence. This may be the beautiful City of Flowers, but things that seem beautiful might also be deadly. As a new Stravagante - someone who can travel through time and space with the help of a talisman - Sky finds himself caught in a deadly feud between Giglia's two ruling families. Now, the Stravaganti must do all they can to avoid further bloodshed as politics, conspiracy and espionage unfold.

What have you got in your mailbox?

Apr 2, 2011

Review: Sleeping Arrangements by Madeleine Wickham

Title: Sleeping Arrangements
Author: Madeleine Wickham
Publication Year: 2001
Genre: Chick lit
Links: Goodreads | Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle)

Chloe needs a holiday. She's sick of making wedding dresses, her partner, Philip, has troubles at work, and the whole family wants a break. Her wealthy friend Gerard has offered the loan of his luxury villa in Spain. Perfect.

Hugh is not a happy man. His immaculate wife, Amanda, seems more interested in her new kitchen than him, and he works so hard to pay for it, he barely has time for his children. Maybe he'll have the chance to bond with them on holiday. His old friend Gerard has lent them a luxury villa in Spain. Perfect.

When both families arrive at the villa, they realize the awful truth: Gerard has double-booked them for the same week. What no one else realizes is that Chloe and Hugh have a history, and it seems Gerard's accidental double-booking may not have been accidental after all.


My two cents: Okay, in short I wasn't really impressed with the book. It's okay but I don't love it. It's definitely not one of those books which stay with me long after I'm done reading.

I think I'm going to make this one short and straight to the points. To be honest, I picked this one up as the synopsis mentioned it took place in Spain and I'm intrigued with anything Spain/Spanish-related. However, there's not enough touch of Spain. Of course, there were a few Spanish words and sceneries thrown in...but that's about it. But, where they were thrown in, each scenery is well explained and I could almost picture it in my head. I guess that is why I was left wanting more. And of course, the book is about two families sharing a villa. I guess I shouldn't expect it to turn out like a Lonely Planet guide on Spain.

The book might have one major plot but it splits into many sub-plots. There's the story of Sam and the nanny, Jenna. Also of Philip and his job, of Hugh and his families etc. The characters are likable and funny especially the kids. And I love Philip to bits. I however really dislike Chloe and Hugh, Hugh especially. At times, both seem so selfish and think of no one but themselves. But Chloe at least, has lil' more sense than Hugh does. I particularly hate they way they handled one particular situation. Now, I find it a bit odd that Philip and Chloe are not married. I mean, they have been together for 13 years or so. But, whether you're married or not, once you've committed yourself to your partner, I'm all about being faithful. Also, I can't help feeling like there's too many coincidences. And it somehow feels so unrealistic at times. The ending too seems a bit rushed. I'd like it if it's more detailed.

All in all, the book is okay. It's not something I'd be shouting at the top of my voice to get people to read. However, if you're looking for a book to read on your long holiday and have nothing better to do, then by all means pick it up.

My verdict: 3/5

Mar 18, 2011

Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Title: The Shadow of the Wind (La Sombra del Viento)
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Translated by Lucia Graves)
Publication Year: 2001 (Translated in 2004)
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle)

Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the 'Cemetery of Forgotten Books', a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son, Daniel, one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book and from the dusty shelves pulls The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. But as Daniel grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind.

My two cents: Greatly amazing! I don't really have any words to describe how I feel about this book but those two words seem inadequate. It is just simply outstanding and beautiful. Once in a while, you come across a book that leaves you speechless and wanting more. This book does just that to me.

It opens in post-Spanish Civil War Barcelona, where young Daniel woke up one dawn screaming as he couldn't remember his mother's face. In his effort to soothe Daniel, his father took him to 'Cemetery of Forgotten Books' where he picked up The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. Enthralled by the beauty of the book, Daniel started looking for other books by Julian Carax. Soon, he found himself entangled in a web of mystery, affecting himself and those he knew and those he would know.

I have to admit, though I've heard good reviews and my friend said it's really good, I was a bit skeptical as I would be picking up a translated copy (my friend read it in its original language). I've read enough of works in my own language which had been translated into English and the end results are mostly disappointing. The beauty of the language and its expression is often lost somewhere in the translation. Somehow, as soon as I started reading, I knew I would not put this down until I finished it. The translation is beautiful. I guess I would never know whether it has done justice to the original text. But it's really good and it didn't really feel like I was reading a translated work.

The characters are complex. Daniel is likable. But the one character that really stole my heart is Fermin Romero de Torres. He's funny, witty, full of expression and dramatic. I just gotta love the guy. At some points, I questioned the introduction of the characters into the story. One such character is Clara Barcelo. At the introduction, I was deceived into thinking she played a key role in the story. But, as the story progressed, it's clear the purpose of her character is to warn the readers of the danger of unrequited puppy love. The lives of the characters are intertwined with each other in such a beautiful and twisted way I could never guess what was going to happen next. People from both past and present are related in ways so complex making the story more interesting.

Now, I've never been to Barcelona, the main setting of this book. It was quite difficult getting into the story at first since the names of the streets are all alien to me. But, the vivid description of the city and its streets helped. As the story progressed and I get more familiar with the names of places and streets, I can slowly picture the beauty of the city and the rich heritage it embraces. At the end of the book, I fall in love with the city and it is my hope to one day set foot in Barcelona. I can certainly feel the author's fondness towards the city.

My review could never do justice to this book. I'd say it certainly fits for bibliophiles. It's a book about books. And the twists are unpredictable. Just when you think the story is going in one direction, it changes its course. There's mystery, horror, romance and humour, all in one book. All in all, it is really a must read. The book stayed with me long after I finished reading it. I couldn't help thinking about the characters and the lives they led. Never before a book touches me the way this book does.

Some memorable quotes:

"Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens."

"Wars have no memory, and nobody has the courage to understand them until there no voices left to tell what really happened, until the moment comes when we no longer recognize them and they return, with another face and another name, to devour everything they left behind."

"There are worse prisons than words."

My verdict: 5/5

Mar 17, 2011

Review: Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

Title: Someone Like You
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication Year: 1998
Genre: Teen Chick Lit

Halley and Scarlett have been best friends ever since they met. Halley has always been the quiet one, Scarlett braver and more outgoing. Halley has always turned to Scarlett when things get rough, and Scarlett has always known just what to do. It's the perfect setup. But everything changes at the beginning of their junior year, Scarlett's boyfriend is killed in a motorcycle accident; then Scarlett finds out that she is carrying his baby. For the first time ever, Scarlett really needs Halley. Now Halley has to learn how to be strong for Scarlett. It won't be easy, but Halley knows that she can't let Scarlett down. Because a true friend is a promise you keep forever.

My two cents: Okay, I'm back to reviewing books and I must apologize for the lack of updates in the past two weeks. Life happens and things get hectic. I bought this after I went to my first interview for pupilage position and I was hoping to finish it by the weekend of the same week. But I ended up taking more than 1 week.

The reasons? Well, for one...I got so busy with Civil Advocacy and assignments I barely had time to read anything that's not related to them. And second of all, I have to admit that I struggled a bit through the book. The blurb sounds like something I would have liked but it really wasn't what I was expecting. I was expecting the book to be entirely about the two best friends. But, it was also about Halley's high school crush (Macon) and how she rebelled against her mum and everyone around her (Scarlett included) to be with him. I guess it's just a phase every teenager goes through and there would come a time when it would just pass, but at some points, Halley managed to annoy me so much. But just like every story with a happy ending, our girl gained her senses back before it was too late. All's well that ends well.

It is also a story about self-discovery, those moments when you discover yourself bit by bit and be surprised by it. Halley is no different. One mistake by Scarlett changed their lives forever and I have to say, the way Halley handled the changes is not at all times with maturity. With Halley, I can totally see that everyone has to make their own mistakes before they can learn from it. Scarlett is likable but I feel like the readers could do with more background story concerning her. Macon is weird, to say the least. I was hoping that the reason behind his rebellious nature would be explained by the end of the book but there really was no explanation offered. He seems to be a rebel without cause.

To say I didn't enjoy it at all would be wrong as I did enjoy the book for most part of it. It's just that my reading got interrupted so many times by things I commit my life to. I guess, I can't really complain. There are a few quotes from the book that I really liked but my favourite has to be the one on its back cover, "Life is an ugly, awful place not to have a best friend". It is true in every sense because at the end of the day, no matter what happened, Halley and Scarlett will always have each other and they will stand for each other through thick and thin and I believe, that is the message the book is trying to convey.

I don't really like the way it ended. It feels incomplete and so many questions are left unanswered. I honestly don't know how I really feel about this book. Maybe I read it at a wrong time. Perhaps one day I'll pick it up again and my opinion will change.

A few of my favourite quotes:

"There are some things in this world you rely on, like a sure bet. And when they let you down, shifting from where you've carefully placed them, it shakes your faith, right where you stand."

"...I wondered again why the right thing always seemed to be met with so much resistance, when you'd think it would be the easier path. You had to fight to be virtuous, or so I was noticing."

"Life is an ugly, awful place not to have a best friend."

My verdict: 3/5

Mar 11, 2011

Follow Friday (March 11)


Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee's View.

This week's feature: Ashley of Bookaholic Does Blogging

This week's question: Just like Ashley said "Ashley the girl..." who are You the Boy/Girl, instead of You the Blogger?

As far as Nadea the girl, I'm a final year law student at a local university, the University of Malaya. After 5 years in law (including my A-Level), I still have no idea why I'm doing law or where I'm heading. My life is pretty much uninteresting. I don't do a lot of stuff and of the things I do, they are nothing exciting. I spend a lot of my time reading, watching movies and hanging out with my friends. I love anything fruit-related...especially cakes and perfumes. And I tend to abandon lots of things whenever I get caught up in something...be it work-related or just for pleasure.

My life in law school consists of attending events, including public lectures and annual dinners, cheering for my batch futsal team and endless workloads. Here's a sneak peek of what it looks like:




Feb 25, 2011

Follow Friday (Feb. 25)


Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee's View.

This week's feature: Nakesha of Totally Obsessed!

This week's question: Share your current fav television show! Tell us a bit about it...

I'm torn between The Vampire Diaries and Glee. I adore both so much (I don't think 'adore' is the correct word...but whatever). Hehe. Now come to think of those two, I realize I also love Merlin by BBC. But, right now I'm totally in Glee mood! I guess I've been glee-d. I seriously cannot get Glee's rendition of Blame It (On the Alcohol) out of my head after the last episode. I guess the cuteness of Sam Evans helps contributing to my addiction.


What's your current fav television show?

Feb 20, 2011

Seven Facts Award

First and foremost, I'd like to thank Kate Evangelista of Reads, Reviews, Recommends for giving me the Seven Facts Award. Now, I didn't expect this at all and I accepted it with open hands and heart. Thank you thank you thank you! You're such a wonderful blogger and person, Kate.


Things to do to accept this award:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to their blog.
2. Post seven random facts about yourself.
3. Pass on the award along to 15 other worthy bloggers.

Onto the seven facts, I must say that I'm not that interesting. Possibly one of the most boring persons to walk the earth. Hehe. Anyway, here we go:

  1. I'm a law student, in my final year. But, I still haven't got a clue as to what I want to do with my life after law school.
  2. I'm a big supporter of Real Madrid. If there's a local peña for madridistas, I'd totally sign myself up.
  3. I'm totally addicted to Glee and Sam Evans (isn't he the cutest and dorkiest guy on TV, as of now?)
  4. I couldn't speak or write proper English until I was 14.
  5. Knives freak me out. I have wild imagination running in my head every time I see a knife or someone mentions it.
  6. I love languages. It saddens me that I can only speak/understand 3 languages.
  7. I love frozen yogurt, especially green apple flavored.

And now I pass this award to the following 15 blogs (in no particular order):

Feb 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (Feb. 15)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • Be careful not to include spoilers! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my current read is 'City of Stars' by Mary Hoffman. It is the second installment of of the young adult series, Staravaganza.

Georgia is an ordinary girl, living in London with her mother, stepfather and bully of a stepbrother and coping with the difficulties of growing up. But all that changes when she buys a tiny figurine in the form of a winged horse and suddenly finds herself swept up into the world of the Stravagante. Her talisman, the figurine, transports her to Remora the Talian parallel to Siena, Italy.

My teaser: Dreaming of a city with flying horses was one thing - even if it turned out not to be a dream and the city was real. But coming face to face with someone from her own world, someone she knew to be dead - that was something else again. (pg 76)

Feb 13, 2011

In My Mailbox #1

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted at The Story Siren every Sunday. The aim is to share the new stuff we got for the week with other participants of the meme. Books don't have to literally come in our mailbox. The idea is just to share what's new on our book stacks.

Here are what I have in my mailbox for this week.

Title: Rampant (Killer Unicorns, #1)
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Publication Year: 2010
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.

Title: City of Stars (Stravaganza, #2)
Author: Mary Hoffman
Publication Year: 2003
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Georgia is an ordinary girl, living in London with her mother, stepfather and bully of a stepbrother and coping with the difficulties of growing up. But all that changes when she buys a tiny figurine in the form of a winged horse and suddenly finds herself swept up into the world of the Stravagante. Her talisman, the figurine, transports her to Remora the Talian parallel to Siena, Italy.

Title: The Blue Noon (Morning, Noon and Night, #2)
Author: Robert Ryan
Publication Year: 2003
Genre: Historical Fiction/WW2

East End chancer Harry Cole is consumed with a burning desire to transcend his social class and when WW2 breaks out he joins the British army in France and reinvents himself as the suave Captain Mason. He becomes involved with an attractive French nurse, who persuades him to set up and run an escape line. As the debonaire Captain Mason, he helps dozens of soldiers to safety, including one Airey Neave. But when his true identity is discovered by the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Harry is faced with his toughest moral dilemma - the acceptance he craves at the cost of betraying his comrades-in-arms. Meanwhile, back in London, Neave is furious that Harry had the gall to impersonate a British officer and sends instructions to apprehend Harry at all costs. Harry realises he is involved with forces far more ruthless and devious than he could ever have imagined.

Title: After Midnight (Morning, Noon and Night, #4)
Author: Robert Ryan
Publication Year: 2005
Genre: Historical Fiction/WW2

In 1944, a Liberator bomber pilot writes a letter to his daughter on the occasion of her first birthday, he posts it moments before embarking on a mission in Northern Italy. Tragically he never returns and neither the wreckage of his plane nor his body has ever been found. In 1964, Linda Carr resloves to find out what happened to her father on that terrible night. She employs the help of Jack Kirby, a Mosquito pilor during the war and a man with his own inner demons. What Jack and Linda discover in their journey deep into uncharted mountain regions where they attempt to piece together the fragments of their personal stories, is more dangerous and life-changing than anyone could ever have imagined.

What's in your mailbox this week?

Review: City of Masks by Mary Hoffman

Title: City of Masks (Stravaganza, #1)
Author: Mary Hoffman
Publication Year: 2002
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

One moment Lucien is in this world and the next he is transported to the 16th-century city of Bellezza, a world that is filled with deception, treachery and glamour. At first it feels as if only his mind is visiting Bellezza, but Lucien soon discovers that he is in fact a Stravagante - someone who, with the help of a talisman, can transport himself in time and place. Lucien may be the one person able to save Bellezza from political intrigue surrounding the city's ruler. But there is always the chance that he will get stuck on the other side of time, never able to return to his own world.

My two cents: Finally, I got to read this book! It had been on my wishlist since I first saw it. It offers a really wonderful premise - a parallel dimension of our world. The country of Talia is both like and unlike the Italy of this world and exists in a parallel world similar to a 16th-century Italy. In this alternate universe, magic as we know in our world is science and science as we know is magic.

Lucien, our protagonist lives in 21st-century London and is ill with cancer. But, one day after falling asleep hugging a new notebook given by his father, he found himself in Bellezza, a city in Talia with his illness gone. It was in Bellezza he discovered the secret of stravagazing, an act which enables certain people to travel between the two worlds. These people are called Stravaganti and Lucien is one of them.

The description of the city as well as of the Bellezzan culture are very well-detailed by the author. There are masks, mandolas (or known as gondolas in our world) and politics of the court. The similarities and differences between Bellezza and Venice are very well compared. As someone who doesn't know much about Italy and its history, I found myself drawn to the culture and the beauty of it. It kinda motivates me to read more on Italy especially on Venice, very much like how Lucien was motivated to learn as much as he could about Venice after his first visit to Bellezza.

Most of the characters are likable. The depiction of Lucien's parents as parents struggling to keep their cancerous child alive felt very realistic. Lucien's mentor and master in Bellezza, Rodolfo does not lack of depth either. However, I found it difficult to relate to the Duchessa and to understand the motives behind her sometimes ruthless action. But she is, no doubt, very clever and a great schemer and doesn't hesitate even a bit to do anything to protect the city and the people she loves.

Though the book is a part of Stravaganza series, it certainly stands on its own and the author ends Lucien's story on a beautiful note. You don't really need to read subsequent books to find out what happened to Lucien and the people he has come to love.

My only complain is there seems to be no clear explanation as to what Stravaganti do and why they do what they do except that they can travel between the worlds and they have to guard the journeys from the people with oblique motives. Maybe there is some explanation offered in subsequent books and I'll try to read them to see if there is any.

All in all, a very enjoyable read. Something light for a change after all the WW2 novels I've been reading lately. I'm certainly looking forward to reading the second book, 'City of Stars'.

My verdict: 4/5

Feb 12, 2011

On My Wishlist #3


On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City which runs every Saturday. It's where you list all the books you desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. To participate just head on to the said website.

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It's been some time since I had a wishlist. Though I still haven't got hold on the books from my previous lists, here I am with a few more books. I seriously can't help keeping my wishlist from growing. And this time, I'm in a historical fiction mood.

"Dying Day" by Robert Ryan Ever since I finished reading 'The Last Sunrise', I can't help thinking about this book. I've looked everywhere for this. Even BookDepository does not have it in ready stock. Wonder where can I look next. Hmm...

Description: Laura is determined to track down her missing sister, but is in danger of getting caught up in a country on the brink of the Cold War.

She is waiting on a street corner in Piccadilly, London, with a Colt .32 in her handbag. Laura McGill is desperate to find out what happened to her sister Diana. Both were Special Operation Executive (SOE) spies during World War Two. One night in 1944, Diana was flown into occupied France but never returned. Could she still be alive?

James Hadley Webb, the man who sent Diana on her final mission, is now a spy in Berlin. Despite attempts to stop her, Laura travels to Germany to confront him and soon becomes caught in the crossfire of a bloody turf war fought between the East and the West for control of the city.

"By Fire, By Water" by Mitchell James Kaplan I have to admit, Spanish Inquisition is not really something I know by heart. In fact, my knowledge on the subject is very limited. A friend suggested this book a few days ago...and from the reviews, it does sound good. Time to delve into another one of most talked about historical periods.

Description: Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As the power of Inquisitor General Tomás de Torquemada grows, so does the brutality of the Spanish church and the suspicion and paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santángel is enraged and takes retribution into his own hands. But he is from a family of conversos, and his Jewish heritage makes him an easy target. As Santángel witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewish woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada. While he struggles to decide what his reputation is worth and what he can sacrifice, one man offers him a chance he thought he’d lost…the chance to hope for a better world. Christopher Columbus has plans to discover a route to paradise, and only Luis de Santángel can help him.

"Revolution" by Jennifer Donnelly I never intended to read this book. But that was before I knew what it actually is about. The premise sounds promising. And the reviews are good.

Description: Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Feb 11, 2011

Historical de Tour Genre



Second Reading Challenge for me! Yeay! This time it's Historical de Tour Genre Reading Challenge 2011 hosted by Bitsy Bling Books. Go here to check the full entry for this challenge.

Since I'm already doing Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2011, I figure, why not take up this challenge as well. After all, I enjoy reading historical so much!

The challenge is open throughout the year, from January 1 - December 31, 2011.

Goals with this challenge:
  1. Since this is a tour, the idea is to read at least one book from each sub-category. Of course, it'll be the envy of all if we read more and can do multiple 'laps' around the track.
  2. The books do not have to be selected ahead of time. They can be added as we go. Also, if they are listed upfront, we can change them, no bigger. The idea is to have fun. The books can crossover into other challenges, because let's face it -- our eyes would fall out of your head otherwise.
  3. It can be joined anytime between now and the later part of this year.

I will post the list of the completed books in this post as I go along. ;)

1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
(Historical Thriller)
2. Hannah (Daughters of the Sea) by Kathryn Lasky
(Historical Fantasy)
3. After Midnight by Robert Ryan
(Historical Thriller)

Follow Friday (Feb. 11)


Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee's View.

This week's feature: Ruby of Ruby's Reads

This week's question: What is your favourite romance hero-type? Stereotype wise. Do you like the strong silent type or the brute macho man?

I don't know. Really. I like both. I really can't choose between the two. But, if I REALLY have to choose, then it would the strong silent type. I like guys who would only say something when it's absolutely necessary. I guess it's because I'm talkative and a good listener would do me good. But, he does have to be strong. A woman does need her man to protect her. ;)

Feb 7, 2011

Meet Me On Monday (Feb. 07)

This week I'm trying out new meme, Meet Me On Monday hosted by Java at Never Growing Old. Every week, 5 get-to-know-you questions are posted so that we can copy and paste into our own Monday post. Head on to Never Growing Old to participate.

This week's questions are:

Did you watch the Superbowl? Nope. Having come from outside the USA, I never really know what the Superbowl really is.

What is the last book that you read? 'Wishing Upon a Star' by Martina Reilly. A good read and I enjoyed it so much.

What is your favorite kind of cake? Hmm, I don't really eat cake. But, if I have to take my pick, it would be cheesecake. I love cheesecake so much especially blueberry cheesecake. And occasionally, I'd get cupcakes with coffee frosting. They taste so good.

Do you snore? So far, no one has ever complained. So maybe nope.

Do you play an instrument? Nope. I wish I do though. I played clarinet for a while in elementary school but I just stopped when I went to high school. Currently, I have to make do with enjoying my brother's guitar playing. Maybe one day, I'll ask him to teach me basic guitar.

What are your answers?

Review: Wish Upon a Star by Martina Reilly

Title: Wish Upon a Star
Author: Martina Reilly
Publication Year: 2006
Genre: Chick lit

It's hard for Lucy, being the sister of supermodel Tracy Gleeson. It's hard because Tracy is gorgeous and Lucy feels distinctly average; Tracy is famous and Lucy works as a receptionist in a vet's clinic; Tracy has just landed a part in a major Hollywood movie and all Lucy has ever wanted to do is act. Worse than that, Lucy's daughter wants to get to know her father - only Lucy never told him she was pregnant. So, against the advice of her best friends and her doom-laden mother, Lucy begins the search to trace the boy she has tried so hard to forget...

My two cents: This is the first book from Martina Reilly that I read. At first, I was a bit hesitant to read this. I rarely read chick lit and I didn't know what to expect from the author. I just bought the book because it was on a good bargain. Anyway, I decided to give it a try and I'm delighted that I did.

It's a really fun read and a quick one too. I finished this in 5 days. It's funny, witty, sad and eye-opening all in one. Credit has to be given to the author for combining all these without losing the pace and manage to keep things interesting.

The book follows the main character, Lucy as she deals with her day-to-day life and regrets of the past. The story of the past is told in the format of Lucy's diary and the present is told from Lucy's POV. To be honest, I don't really know how to describe Lucy. She's sometimes funny and witty and sometimes passionate and emotional. For most part of the story, I felt sorry for her and kept hoping that she would have a happy ending. But, she did become a bit of a bitch towards the end. Maybe it was necessary since it was this occasion that finally opened her eyes. Before, she never really knew what she wanted, except that she wanted to be an actress. However, a little taste of popularity changed that. She finally realized that everything she ever wanted and wished for, she already had.

I found the portrayal of the characters to be really believable. The vet Lucy works for portrays everything wrong with stereotyping. There is no rich vet with fabulous sense of fashion in this book. Lucy's best friends, both Gray and Maddie, are very likable. Lucy's parents are hilarious, especially her mum with her remarks. Lucy's daughter, Fainne is very clever and has some of the best lines. The story might be about Lucy's search for the father of her daughter. But, there are so much more than that. It is also about sibling rivalry between Lucy and Tracy. And also the self-discovery and self-realization by Lucy following the search.

One thing I don't really like is that there are too much usage of the 'f' word. I can't help but feel that the book can do without so much of it. But halfway through, it seemed to tone down a bit.

I'm hoping that this won't be the first and the last time I read something from Martina Reilly. I'm already eyeing 'Something Borrowed' and 'Wedded Blitz' from her. I'm really glad that I discovered this book.

My verdict: 4/5
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