Wednesday, April 28, 2010


So, they're in this order:
  • Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
  • The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfield
  • Pretties by Scott Westerfield
  • Specials by Scott Westerfield
  • Extras by Scott Westerfield
  • Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
  • The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory
  • 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen
  • The Last Empress by Anchee Min
  • Becoming Madam Mao by Anchee Min
Rebel Angels is on my number one spot just because...

Book Review - A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Rating: 10/10

A Great and Terrible Beauty is a New York Times Bestseller book by Libba Bray. It tells the mystical story of Gemma Doyle, a rebellious sixteen year old girl living in the Victorian era of England. After her mother's mysterious death in India, Gemma travels to London and attends Spence Academy, a finishing school in London, where she is expected to learn French, dance waltz, paint lively still life paintings, sing beautifully, and learn impeccable manners. But Gemma Doyle is no ordinary girl; she possesses a supernatural power that enables her to see visions of the future and travel to a utopia-like world behind a door of light...

It is rare, in this day and age, to find a gem of a book, much less a gem of a writer. But here, in A Great and Terrible Beauty, I believe I have found both of them. The novel is stirring, passionate, terrible and beautiful all at the same time. It's a beautiful work of art and I would very much like to see a movie adaptation of it (because it's so interesting!). Libba Bray is able to revive the Victorian era through her writing. The supernatural mixed with the Bray's humor will delight and thrill audiences alike. It's a wonderful mix of terror and fantasy that will leave you wanting for more. There's are also beautiful lessons weaved into the text that, most likely, I will never forget. Plus, it is also kind of rare that I finish a 400+ page book in a few hours. I only do that if I'm really interested in it (and if I'm interested, it means that the book is very good). :)

And the characters! Oh, the characters are riveting!!! I simply love -swoonswoonswoon- Kartik's character. He reminds me of that assassin (forgot the name) from one of the Fire Emblem GBA games who is tall, dark and handsome. KARTIK!!! Yes, yes, I am freaking out... So this is how Libba Bray describes him:

He isn't much older than I am, probably seventeen if a day, with brown skin, a full mouth, and the longest eyelashes I have ever seen. I know I'm not supposed to find Indian men attractive, but I don't see many young men and I find I'm blushing in spite of myself. (page 7)

Focus on his face, his full lips, perfect as a bow. His thick dark curls fall across from his eyes, deep, brown, foot-long-lashes eyes. Alarmed eyes. (page 13)

There's a lot more descriptions of him but this will do because I can't... -swoonfaintswoon-

Ahem. -cough- Okay, so enough of Kartik.

Gemma and her four friends (Felicity, Pippa, and Ann) are well-rounded characters. By that, I mean that it feels like they're real and not just a bunch of words written by a writer. They sound so real, so insecure, so... Much like a girl. They're believable characters, that's what.

So the plot thickens and the ending feels like the beginning of everything else. Circe (Sarah Rees-Toome) is never revealed because that (damned) picture of the 1871 class didn't show her face. Argh. I was just about to jump out of the bed and scream when I came to that part. Err. So yeah. I am spoiling the fun.

And because the ending had me screaming for more, I'm looking forward to owning the sequels, Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing , sometime this year if I ever find a copy. After all, I want to read more about Ka-- Gemma.

P.S. I just noticed that I've been reading a lot of books about empowered women lately... And I love it dearly!!!

P.S.2. If they're ever going to make a movie adaptation of this, please, please, please, please, puhleeze don't cast Dev Patel as Kartik. I beseech you!! And don't let this be a chick flick, for pity's sake. Nor another Twilight thing.

P.S.3. Okay. So Icon relinquished the rights something. So there's no movie. But I'm still crossing my fingers. (KARTIK!!!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book Review - Empress Orchid by Anchee Min

Rating: 10/10

Empress Orchid by Anchee Min is the story of China's Empress Dowager - Empress Tzu Hsi. Her rise from an innocent country girl to an elegant, time-hardened empress is depicted in this book. Her happiness, passions, and, most importantly, her secret sorrows are revealed to us. With detailed depictions that make the Forbidden City come alive, Empress Orchid shows the other side of the woman who the history books refer to as cold and ruthless - the reader is shown the face behind this stone mask.

I adore this novel because, for one, it's a historical novel. The story of a famous Manchu (those with Mongolian and Korean descent) empress is a welcome change from the past books that I've reviewed. Additionally, my reading of this book coincided with the fact that I had just taken and finished a course in Asian History. There were very few details regarding Empress Tzu Hsi and Anchee Min's novel provided me with the answers. It's a great, stirring novel that will show us just how elegant (and horrible) the lives of the Manchu nobility had been in the past. Furthermore, it is the story of one of the emperor's concubines. Tzu Hsi's longings and sorrows are outlined in the text and it isn't hard to imagine what she had been going through. It is definitely a difficult time for her.

I'm happy to have been able to read yet another fascinating account of a strong woman belonging to the pages of history. Somehow, it provides hope to me. That's why I will add The Last Empress to my "most wanted books" list. :)

Note: I used the spellings used in the book. :)

Movie Review - Ponyo on the cliff by the sea

Rating: 10/10

Ponyo on the cliff by the sea is the story of a goldfish, the daughter of a sorceror (Fujimoto) and the sea goddess (Gran Mamare). One day, she gets "caught" by a human, Sosuke. The little boy takes a liking to the goldfish and names her Ponyo (her real name being -ahem- Brunhilde). However, Fujimoto manages to bring her back to the sea. After learning that she had tasted human blood (therefore making her eligible to transforming into a human), he is distressed and tries to stop the transformation. He then placed her in a "cage" bubble. But, with the help of her siblings, Ponyo gets out and unintentionally wrecks havoc on Fujimoto's lair. She accidentally unleashes a terrible power in her excitement to return to Sosuke.

There is only one word that could describe this Studio Ghibli flick: CUTE! The graphics are hand-drawn, I think, and that adds charm to the movie. The ending song is so cute! Wah! Ponyo is bursting with cuteness!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Movie Review - Avatar

Rating: 9/10

So yeah. Believe it or not, I've just watched Avatar. That's because I'm not crazy about it 'cause everyone is practically raving about how good it is. Well, it is good but it just isn't my type of movie. It's too... Uhh... Cliche, I guess. -shrug shrug-

I won't out in a summary since everyone knows about it. XD

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Book Review - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Rating: 10/10

Frankenstein is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young man who devised a way to give life to inanimate objects. He performed an experiment wherein he collected "materials," put them together, and gave life to a creature of gigantic stature and horrible features (it is sometimes referred to as "demon" or "ogre"). Upon waking up, Frankenstein realizes his mistake and fear engulfs his heart. It's a carefully crafted story that will thrill readers of all ages.

Now this is what real horror is all about! Mary Shelley delivers a great masterpiece of a book by showing the reader the human. Harold Bloom writes: "The greatest paradox and most astonishing achievement of Mary Shelley's novel is that the monster is more human than his creator." Thus, it is true. Actually, my awe shifts from Frankenstein to his creation. It's a powerful novel. What else is there to say?..

By the way, the monster in the book did not have screws. XD

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Movie Review - The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

Rating: 8/10

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is about an immortal man who had a contract with the Devil (played by Tom Waits) in order to woo the woman he loved. In exchange for his youth, Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) must give the Devil any child he fathered as soon as he/she turned sixteen; in this case, his only daughter Valentina (Lily Cole). The doctor is greatly troubled so he devises a plan to bring a certain number of people into his Imaginarium (a place where a person's imagination and dreams are made tangible) so that he would not have to give up Valentina. In order to do this, he sets up a travelling show (reminds me of Howl's Moving Castle) with his companions, Percy (Verne Troyer), Anton (Andrew Garfield), and his daughter. However, the show is not successful and does not draw crowds, only ridicule. This is where the character of the late Heath Ledger, Tony, comes in. He persuades people to watch the show with his smooth words.

So the movie is pretty nice and exciting. I liked how Ledger's friends continued the role for him (Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell). Imaginarium Tony 1, played by Johnny Depp, reminds me of Captain Jack Sparrow... Oh well. There's lots of interesting things involved, especially the Imaginarium. It's really a nice movie. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Change of status

(No. That is not change of marital status... XD Okay, no one laughed.)

I decided to change the status of 'Heartless' from Complete to In-Progress. I've received 5 reviews with the same message: "one more chapter please!!" or "ending is vague; I didn't get it!!" plus "what is the incident?" Consequently, they've also written that it's sad and I think that's a plus for me. It's good that I was able to reach out what I wanted to tell them. :D

Okay. So I'm thinking of, maybe, a second chapter in Shikamaru's point of view. There, the incident will be more succinctly explained (against the background of his packing for his travel). I hope it helps in understanding what really happened. There'll be a lot of nuances but I hope the readers can get it now. A third chapter might not be far in the future. If I do add a third, it'll be third person narration... Or second, if I'm in the mood for it. Haha! XD

Now I have to update two fanfics (Heartless and Unrequited), plus two more oneshots. Busy summer!! XD

Saturday, April 17, 2010

List 12 Naruto characters in no particular order XD

I did this before. I think I deleted the stuff so I'm posting it in my dear blog to preserve the data. This is going to be exciting and F-U-N!!

List 12 Naruto characters in no particular order:
1. Yamanaka Ino
2. Haruno Sakura
3. Aburame Shino
4. Uzumaki Naruto
5. Inuzuka Kiba
6. Nara Shikamaru
7. Hyuga Neji
8. Hyuga Hinata
9. Yamanaka Inoichi
10. Nara Yoshino
11. Deidara
12. Uchiha Itachi

1) Have you ever read a Six/Eleven fanfic before?
Ooh. Shikamaru and Itachi? Noooo. Won't read. EVER.

2) Do you think Four is hot? How hot?
Umm... I don't exactly consider Naruto hot. He's more like cute, I guess.

3) What would happen if Twelve got Eight pregnant?
Oh my..! That is..! Oh well, two powerful clans merge. Not a bad idea, really. I guess Hinata's dad would be fixing up a date for the wedding. He won't bother getting angry much... XD

4) Do you recall any fics about Nine?
Yes, it's something I wrote. He's not really the main character. Haha! Does that count?..

5) Would Two and Six make a good couple?
Sakura and Shikamaru? No thanks. It's strictly InoShika, please. :D

6) Five/Nine or Five/Ten?
Inuzuka Kiba/Yamanaka Inoichi or Inuzuka Kiba/Nara Yoshino?.. Umm. Next question?

7) What would happen if Seven walked in on Two and Twelve having sex?
If Neji walked in on Sakura and Itachi having sex?.. Err. Neji's not that kind of person, or maybe he is... Deep inside. XP

8) Make up a summary of a Three/Ten Fanfic.
"Nara Yoshino is pissed off. Recently, bugs have been pestering her dear garden. Now, she's determined to find out who set them off." (I guess I could do this for April Fools' Day next year..)

9) Is there any such thing as a One/Eight fluff?
Ino and Hinata?.. I don't know. Maybe?.. Probably? Yes. Ehh...

10) Suggest a title for a Seven/Twelve Hurt/Comfort fic.
"Consolation" It's going to be about Neji and Itachi accidentally meeting together. They start talking about their problems and end up consoling each other. Haha!

11) What kind of plot would you use if you wanted Four to de-flower One?
EH? Well, NaruIno fics exist but I don't think I'll be doing this. Just to answer the question, Naruto and the others would be holding a sleep-over party so there's lots of games involved. Spin the Bottle, anyone?..

12) Does anyone on your friends list read Three het?

13) Does anyone on your friends list write or draw Eleven?
No. They hate him.

14) Would anyone on your friends list write Two/Four/Five ?
Sakura/Naruto/Kiba... I don't think so.

15) What might ten scream at a moment of great passion?
"Dang it all!" :P

16) If you wrote a song-fic about Eight, what song would you choose?
I'm with you by Avril Lavigne. Maybe it's going to be NaruHina.. <3

17) If you wrote a One/Six/Twelve fic, what would the warning be?
Ino/Shikamaru/Itachi... Warning: Unnecessary OOCness included?..

18) What might be a good pick-up line for Ten to use on Two?
Yoshino to Sakura? Ahe... "Hey pretty?" I dunno!!!

19) How might Eleven describe a relationship between Two and Eight?
Deidara (on Hinata and Sakura): Friendship is a bang!

20) How emo is Seven?
OOOH! Very!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Book Review - The Black Mountain by Rex Stout

Rating: 9/10

The Black Mountain is a mystery novel written by Rex Stout. The main character is Nero Wolfe, a "gargantuan" man with a passion for raising orchids and exquisite cuisine. It is narrated by Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's secretary (much like the Holmes-Watson relationship). In the novel, Wolfe investigates the murder of his oldest and closest friend, Marko Vukcic. I think it is a first that the detective went out of his way (even went abroad to his hometown in Montenegro) to solve a mystery, since he (like Mycroft Holmes, I guess) prefers to stay in his office all day and order people (including Archie) around. Wolfe even went so far as to hike the Black Mountain or Mount Lovench.

I think Nero Wolfe is an amazing character. He's just as believable as Sherlock Holmes (Ellery Queen, another fictional detective, is not, in my opinion) and just as conceited. (Rex Stout, I think, chose not to age his characters and I think it's just as well. If he probably made Wolfe age, disease would probably get the better of him.) He's quite methodological and all that stuff that a detective is made of. (I wonder, though, if peculiar interests or traits are needed in creating a fictional detective...)

Archie Goodwin is also a great character. His main characteristics are that he likes to chase women around and he hates Wolfe for withholding a lot of information from him. What I liked about him is his humour throughout the narration (usually said with a sarcastic tone). It lends some much needed lightness to the otherwise dark plot. His side comments and the way he pisses off Wolfe (sometimes) is interesting. He's pretty much similar to Watson except that he hates Wolfe more, whereas Watson really looks up to Holmes.

The ending is nicely done and, for me, humorous. The novel wasn't much predictable and there's a lot of politics but it's wedged in well that it's so much easier to understand. The adventure, suspense, and the mystery is really building up with every passing page. So, yeah, it's a nicely done book and I'm pretty much pleased with it (although, of course, nothing beats Sherlock Holmes). I'm glad I bought it. It's no wonder that Rex Stout was highly acclaimed in the mystery genre. :D

Fanfiction Update - New Story

...which goes by the cheesy title, "Heartless" and has this really crappy summary. Haha! I'm on a writing mode this week. :D

As usual, it's InoShika and told in Ino's POV. I don't know if readers would get what I'm trying to tell them... Oh well.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fanfiction Update - Chapter 3 in

Yeah. Finally, it's here. LOL. Yeah. XD

Book Review - The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton

Rating: 3/10

When I first read the stuff written on the back cover of Virginia Hamilton's The House of Dies Drear, I thought I was in for a fine horror story (horror = Gothic horror = Edgar Allan Poe/Mary Shelley). But, frankly, I was not. Reading it is best described by this excerpt from page 216:

How long has it been since we've been gone from there - two days? Just two days we've been here? It seems like a year.

Exactly my thoughts Thomas, thank you.

The reason why it took me really long to finish it is that, like The Age of Innocence, most of it was uninteresting to me. I didn't feel the suspense building up. I liked Mr. Pluto's character and the final sequence but that's about all. Pesty is a real pest. The Smalls over-react in most of the scenes, especially Mrs. Martha Small. I think Thomas Small was stupid, yeah. Mayhew is... Ugh. Detestable? I just don't find him a nice sort of character. For me, there's no secret in the house. It's just an old building with a bunch of secret passages... So what? Pretty much everything is obvious; there doesn't seem to be any mystery to it. No-o. I don't like the book at all.

There were some moments when it made me smile, but that's about it. In my opinion, nothing about it stands out. *shrug shrug*

Book Review - The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Rating: 7/10

The Age of Innocence is the unfortunate love story of Newland Archer and Countess Ellen Olenska. Archer is engaged to May Welland, a docile maiden from a respectable family. Countess Olenska is the runaway wife of Count Olenski in Europe. With her circumstances, New York society looked down on her. I think Edith Wharton was really able to show the emotions behind the events in the story. It's, as said above, very unfortunate.

It took me a long time to read The Age of Innocence because there were parts which were uninteresting, for me. It's just not the kind of writing that I'm not used to reading, but it's definitely a good book. :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Review - Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate diCamillo

Rating: 8/10

Yessum, it's another book by Kate diCamillo. She's arguably one of the best writers ever! She uses the English language in a simple but fun way. Her stories are nice and easily understandable, and they pack a whole lot of lessons!

Because of Winn-Dixie is the story of India Opal Buloni, the daughter of a preacher. She and her father just moved to a new place and she has a hard time gaining friends. Everything changes when she meets a large, ugly dog which she named Winn-Dixie, after the grocery store where she first found him.

It's a nice, heart-warming story but I liked Edward Tulane better. Maybe it's the illustrations... Haha! Anyway, it's still a lovely, lovely book and you'll love it, too!

Oh, and this has a movie starring Anna Sophia Robb! Edward Tulane will also get a movie, I think, sometime this year. EXCITED!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fanfiction Update - New Chapter!!

Yes, yes! Finally, I have come up with the second chapter for Unrequited after more than a month. Sorry, readers, for the delay.