(This is a scheduled post.)

Hello, my dear friends! I wish you all a Happy New Year and let's hope the new year will be better and more fulfilling than the last!

ISBN-13: 9780670011308
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Published: May 2009
336 pgs

Hello, my dear friends! I manage to sneak in some time here, so my apologies if I could not visit or comment on your blog sooner (I promise I will try to play catch up if possible)! My reason for this post is I finished reading this book on Monday and I want to review it before my opinion all fades away as the time passes (yes, I can be quite forgetful at times).

Fifteen-year-old Marisa lives in a small town in Connecticut with her parents; other than having anxiety disorder her life is pretty simple and peaceful. She often tells herself she is fortunate to have a happy and a secure family, and a best friend whom she could share all her problems and secrets with, and be there for her whenever she needs her.

She has a crush on a guy named Derek for a while, but just never muster up the courage to approach him. And then, there is another boy Nash whom she knew for a long time likes her, but it is just a one-sided attraction, for Marisa thinks he is not her cup of tea since he is geeky and not as sociable, unlike Derek who is so great looking and popular.

Then, things start to change in Marisa's life in some ways when Derek begins to notice her after his break up with his girlfriend, and it is at this time that she started to notice there is a distance between her parents. Though she is thrilled that she and Derek became an item finally, there are times she felt lonely without her best friend and Nash, now that they have someone in their mind. She did not want to share her problems with Derek, thinking that no one would want someone with issues and she wants to be portrayed as the perfect girl for him anyway. But after a while, Derek's attention begins to waver as he became friends with his ex-girlfriend again, and to heighten the anxiety Marisa's parents are thinking of having a divorce and Marisa has never felt so lonely and helpless in her life. All this while, she has been seeking solace in listening to an anonymous DJ who seems to understand the problems of most of the students face in school and like others, Marisa is curious about him but he never reveals his identity.

Though awkward in the beginning, Marisa starts to hang out more with Nash. Slowly, she began to see him in a new light but would he be on a par with Derek, and that of course has to leave it to Marisa to think about and decide.

Waiting for You is a great story about friendship, connection and love that I am sure will appeal to many YA readers. While reading this book, I really sympathize with Marisa and there are times I wished she could stop fussing so much over Derek because apparently she is being over cautious of her relationship with him that she is not being herself, which made me think he might not be the right guy for her after all it is unhealthy being that way. Nevertheless, I still cheered for her and hope she would be able to see things more clearly and made the right decision eventually. Another plus point about this story is that the characters and the difficulties Marisa faces (e.g. her parents' situation, the ups and downs with her best friend, Sterling) are realistic; overall I would recommend this to any readers who enjoy the YA genre.

Other reviews:
Em's Bookshelf
Pop Culture Junkie
S. Krishna's Books
(Let me know if I missed yours.)
ISBN-13: 9780981453460
Publisher: Ovation Books
Published: October 2009
Illustrated by David Cochard
32 pgs
Ages 4-8
Source: Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists

Hello, everyone! Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog! I hope you have a wonderful week! I am currently enjoying my leave off, spending time with my family and guess what, I managed to squeeze in some time for my reading! I finished reading Miracle in Sumatra yesterday and enjoyed it very much! My five-year-old daughter has been intrigued with this book ever since she saw me taking it out from the package I received two days ago and I told her I will share the story with her after I have read and review it (Many thanks to Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists for sending this book to me for review!).

So what is this book about? Basically it is a story about a young orangutan named Gutsy Gus and his courageous deed of saving his parents. One day, while he is out playing, his parents are captured by an animal trapper named Hunter. Hunter does not only capture orangutans, but he also capture chimpanzees, gorillas and even bonobos. However, he is not satisfied with his finds, and he wants to capture more. He decided to leave for Asia, Sumatra where there are enough orangutans for him to catch, but what he did not know is that the jungles of Asia had a protector (an angel) named Gabriella. She is the heavenly angel who watches over the forests of Sumatra.

Before Gus' parents are captured, little Gus is playing and he met a human girl named Maya. Maya's father is the boss of men who chopped down trees and sold them for wood to build houses and boats, and during an exploration trip she met Gus and is very fascinated by him. She offers a banana to him, and soon Gus follows her through the forest, happy to have her as a new friend. At this time, his parents are captured while looking for him and it is soon after that Gus and Maya heard the cries of his parents.

Gabriella knew about the trouble and offers an advice to Gus and Maya, for both of them have to work together to save Gus' parents.

Miracle in Sumatra: The Story of Gutsy Gus is both an entertaining and an educational read as it inspire young readers to be courageous and caring (there is a scene towards the end that touches me deeply) while in addition raises awareness about the environment and love and care for the endangered species (in this case the orangutans). Besides the enchanting story, I also loved the bright and colourful illustrations by David Cochard which further made this book lively and enjoyable. Miracle in Sumatra is definitely a keeper and I have a feeling that my daughter will love it too (she was born in the Year of Monkey and in her opinion, orangutans and monkeys are all the same).

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! May the warmth of this holiday season fill your home with books and happiness!

The True Spirit of Christmas
by Marajo Tenderass

Lots of people
Crowds everywhere
Rushing and pushing and shoving,
Going nowhere.
It's Christmas time again
Have to get all those things done
Hustle, bustle, quickly,
We must beat the sun.
Must get this and must get that
Maybe this nic, maybe that nak
When did it happen?
When did we lose track...
It's a race, yes it is
We are running, yes we are
But lets not forget
Before we get too far-
What is really really important
Doesn't take much to figure out
Take time to love
and love from the heart.

(This is a scheduled post.)

ISBN-13: 9780380773527
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: September 2003
373 pgs

I have not read a historical romance for a long time, and with the holiday is just around the corner, my reading mood dictated I should read a love story (never mind if it is not a holiday themed book), and so I settled on Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas.

Sara Fielding is unlike the other females in her village Greenwood Corners, for starters she has a streak for adventures and it is not surprising considering she is a writer and she would venture to anywhere for research for her books.

To find out more about the gambling clubs and how they operate for her next book, she leaves the shelter of her safe, country cottage in Greenwood Corners and into Derek Craven's world, for he is the proud owner of a well-known gambling club and she is sure she could find any information she could get from that place. However, Sara did not expect she could meet Derek in person so soon, after she has somehow saved him from an assault.

Derek Craven is a handsome, tough and a tenacious man. Unlike Sara, he came from a working-class background but he rose from poverty to become the wealthy lord of London's most exclusive gambling house through his wit and lots of filthy, hard work. His unhappy childhood has made him a hardened man, and he does not trust people easily. After the assault incident, Derek has no choice but to allow Sara to enter into his club, and though he would not admit it, he is somehow fascinated by her courage and her impeccable manners.

Slowly, they attracted and fell in love with each other, but one of Derek's past lovers is very angry of him for severing all ties with her and she is going to make him and Sara pay at all costs.

Dreaming of You is one of the best classic historical romance I read in a long time and I could see why it remains one of a favourites among many Lisa Kleypas' readers. Which romance reader wouldn't love to read a tortured hero, and finding his redemption and love in the end? I enjoyed reading the clash/exchange between Derek and Sara, and though the story is not new, it kept me entertained and then of course, there is the notion that true love conquers everything. This is a must read for all historical romance fans. I am glad to see I have a few more titles by Lisa Kleypas after going through my pile yesterday, and I look forward to reading them next year (I don't think I will be reading a lot due to the upcoming holiday season and all, but I can always try!).

Other reviews:
Book Binge
Reading Adventures
The Book Smugglers
(Let me know if I missed yours.)
As from tomorrow onwards, I am taking my leave off from work so that means I have more time to spend with my family. With two young children at home, I have no idea if I am able to squeeze some time off for my reading and blogging so I guess the Blogger Unplugged Challenge (hosted by Beth Fish Reads and Devourer of Books) is fitting to me at this time.

I have only a few scheduled posts lined up and though I may not be able to visit your blogs (who knows? I might be able to pop by your blog once in a while), please know that I will be thinking of you. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog, and I shall see you in 2010.

Here's wishing everyone a Happy Holidays!

I want to thank Alice of Hello, My Name is Alice for passing on this award to me. Don't you think the button is beautiful? I love the design!

The rule: Nominate seven other bloggers and then tell everybody seven things about yourself.

Well, I can easily share with you seven things about myself but it sure is hard to nominate only seven bloggers!

Let me start off the easy task first:

  1. I love watching romantic comedies (I got a DVD - Serendipity starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale last week. Oh, I loved this movie!).
  2. I have only watched a movie alone in a cinema once.
  3. My favourite sandwich is Subway's Veggie Delite with lots of honey mustard sauce (minus the onions and chillies).
  4. When I was a child, my favourite cartoon character is Strawberry Shortcake.
  5. I have a driving licence but I don't drive (don't have a car too).
  6. My very first pen pal is a girl from Vienna, Austria. Unfortunately, we have lost touch many years ago.
  7. I have an idol lately, and he is none other than the Taiwanese renowned magician, Lu Chen (He won the Taiwan's Youth Magic Contest which was judged by world-famous magician, David Copperfield at the age of 12). I have just finished reading his autobiography and it was an inspirational read.

And now, I am passing this award to the following blogger friends who I think is beautiful in all ways (in no particular order):

~ Julia of Julia's Books Corner
~ Debi of Nothing of Importance
~ Trish of Trish's Reading Nook
~ Nymeth of Things Mean A Lot
~ Wendy of Musings of a Bookish Kitty
~ Violet of Violet Crush
~ Sandy of You've Gotta Read This ...

... and back to you, Alice!

To my other blogger friends who are not on the list, I want to tell you that you too are beautiful and I wish the rule will extend to a 100 bloggers instead of seven.

ISBN-13: 9780141191454
Publisher: Penguin Group
Published: 2009
158 pgs

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live withmy sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenent, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead. (Pg 1)
After having read Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and loving her writing style (and I loved the atmospheric setting), I knew I have to read her other books, thus this is where We Have Always Lived in the Castle comes along.

As in The Haunting of Hill House, this story is written in first person from a female point of view. From the very first opening line (please see above in italics), I knew Mary (also affectionately called as Merricat by her elder sister, Constance) would be an extraordinary heroine, and a creepy one to boot. She lives in a secluded house of a small village, together with Constance and Uncle Julian, who sits in his wheelchair all the time. All of them are outcasts, and the people in the village hated (and fear of) them due to an arsenic incident that happened years ago.

Constance spends most of the time tending the garden and cooks for the family, while Merricat will plays with her cat, Jonas, and wanders around their garden. She is the only one who would leave the house twice in a week to do the grocery, otherwise she stays in the house all the time. All seems to be peaceful until the day their cousin, Charles, step into their house and walk into their life.

I wish I could say more about the plot but like what other bookbloggers who had read this book said: it is best read without knowing too much from the beginning, as the author had a knack for building the suspense and you just could not help but to be led by her superb storytelling. Yes, her stories are creepy, but yet I find myself reading away because you just have to read more about her characters and know what happened. Speaking of characters, I think Shirley Jackson wrote the most intriguing heroines and most often it makes me wonder if there are anything peculiar about them, though at times I find myself sympathize with them too, which is such a contradicting reaction. The best part about reading them is you will find yourself questioning their motives, and wonder what had drove them apart from the others.

After reading this book, I realize I did not really care for any of the characters (well, maybe except for Uncle Julian because he is the only character I feel who has no motives, plus he is old and sick) because I do not know how I should feel towards the two sisters, and as for the others they are just simply a bunch of heartless and unsympathetic people. I wish I am able to tell more about the true feelings between the two sisters because though they are very close, sometimes the way they talk or interact made me wonder if there are more besides the close-knit sisterhood.

I loved how the story is wrapped up towards the end, and I could understand why Shirley Jackson had named this story as 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle'. I would recommend this book to you if you have not read it, but first you have to read The Haunting of Hill House because that remains my favourite Jackson's book thus far. And oh, if you have the same edition as mine (the first cover of this post), don't forget to read an Afterword by Joyce Carol Oates after reading the last page; I always find it interesting to read from another author's perspective.

Have you read this book? What do you think of it?

Other reviews:
A Book Blog. Period.
A Striped Armchair
Bending Bookshelves
Bold. Blue. Adventure.
Book Addiction
Booknotes by Lisa
books i done read
Care's Online Bookclub
Fizzy Thoughts
Jenny's Books
Nothing of Importance
Regular Ruminations
Save Ophelia
So Many Books
Stuck in a Book
The Bookling
Things Mean A Lot
(Let me know if I missed yours.)
I received another wonderful package in the mail yesterday! It's from my Secret Santa and this time round, I found out who she is since her name is stated on the card (which was attached onto the gift package). My Secret Santa is Joanna of It's all about me (time)!

She sent me two books from Amazon, and they are books which I have been coveting for a long time:

  • The Love We Share Without Knowing by Christopher Barzak
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (Graphic Novel)

I can't wait to read them! Thank you so much for the gifts, Joanna! I really love them all! Here's wishing you and everyone a Happy Holidays!


Random shots at Paderborn, Germany
This is a weekly event hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page every Wednesday.

Marcia says:

I love beautiful, and interesting, cover art so every Wednesday I post my 'Cover Attraction' for the week along with a synopsis of the book. Everyone is welcome to stop by and, if they'd like, post a link to their favorite weekly book cover.

* * * * *

This will be one of those books that I will pick based on the cover alone. Then again, I thought the blurb sounds good and intriguing, especially if it's a mystery featuring Daphne du Maurier, the author of Rebecca.

Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis
ISBN-13: 9780312367145
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: November 2009

Synopsis (From B&N):

The storm led me to Padthaway.

I could never resist the allure of dark swirling clouds, windswept leaves sweeping down cobbled lanes or a view of the sea stirring up its defiant nature. The sea possessed a power all of its own and this part of Cornwall, an isolated stretch of rocky cliff tops and unexplored beaches both enchanted and terrified me.

It is not a lie to say I felt drawn out that day, led to a certain destiny...

So begins this new mystery series featuring young Daphne du Maurier, headstrong, adventurous, and standing at the cusp of greatness.

Walking on the cliffs in Cornwall, she stumbles upon the drowned body of a beautiful woman, dressed only in a nightgown, her hair strewn along the rocks, her eyes gazing up to the heavens. Daphne soon learns that the mysterious woman was engaged to marry Lord Hartley of Padthaway, an Elizabethan mansion full of intriguing secrets.

As the daughter of the famous Sir Gerald du Maurier, Daphne is welcomed into the Hartley home, but when the drowning turns out to be murder, Daphne determines to get to the bottom of the mysteries of Padthaway—in part to find fresh inspiration for her writing, and in part because she cannot resist the allure of grand houses and long buried secrets.


I am glad to say I have completed another two challenges, yay! Many thanks to MizB and Rhinoa for hosting the TBR Lite Challenge and Manga Challenge respectively! I have so much fun reading all the books for these challenges!

Reviews for TBR Lite Challenge (6/6):
Reviews for the Manga Challenge:

Strobe Edge #2 & #3 by Io Sakisaka
Strobe Edge #1 by Io Sakisaka
Momoka Typhoon #1 by Fujita Kazuko
Note: I have finished reading Momoko Typhoon #2 and Strobe Edge #4 - #6 but just have not got around to reviewing them. My apologies!

And now, here are some of the challenges which I did not complete or have decided to give them up: The Harlequin/Silhouette Romance Reading Challenge, Buy One Book and Read It Challenge and Book Buddy Blogger Challenge.

Reviews for the Harlequin/Silhouette Romance Reading Challenge (2/5):
Reviews for Buy One Book and Read It Challenge (there's no limitation of books required for this one):

Reviews for Book Buddy Blogger Challenge (3/5):

Despite I could not complete these challenges, I still want to thank the hostesses - Yvonne, Amy and Wisteria for hosting these fun challenges!

Here are a few more reading challenges I am joining for next year, though I have not decided on the lists, but being a moody reader I guess I will have to keep those lists open.

First of all, the Graphic Novels Challenge hosted by Chris and Nymeth. I have to admit I don't read a lot of graphic novels (mangas probably) so this is a good opportunity for me to read more of this genre.

The rules:
  • The challenge starts on January 1st 2010 and ends on December 31st (but we don't mind you starting early.)
  • You don't have to make a list beforehand (but you can, of course! Lists are great because they give ideas to people who aren't sure what to read. And if you do make one, don't feel forced to stick to it!)
  • We simplified the levels of participation: you can be a Beginner (3 Comics or Graphic Novels), Intermediate (3-10) or an Expert (10+). You're more than free to adjust your level of participation after the challenge has begun.
  • There will be mini-challenges! Look for a post with more info on that soon.
  • Overlaps with other challenges are totally fine.

Since I'm considering a novice under this category, I will go for the 'Beginner' where I'm requested to read 3 graphic novels.

I am happy to see Naida of The Bookworm is hosting the Romance Reading Challenge again in 2010. Here's what she says:

I'm happy to say that my Romance Reading Challenge is going into it's third year! Wow! Thank you all who have joined and read and posted thier reviews. That's amazing to me, that I started a challenge and other bloggers joined up and participated, it's really great. I hope you will sign up again this year.
So, without further ado, here's the rules:

1. "Romance" isn't limited to steamy Harlequin novels. There is a huge selection of books in this category such as contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance to name a few. As long as the story has romantic love between the two main characters your selection will fit this challenge. The novels do not need to have a happy ending either, there can also be unrequited love.

2. Choose at least 5 novels to read. You can change your choices at any time. Crossovers between other challenges are fine.

3. Read them at your own pace in 2010 then post the link to your review(s).

And finally, Alaine of The Royal Reviews is hosting a Fantasy Reading Challenge in 2010.

The Fantasy Reading Challenge can include YA Fantasy or Historical Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy or any other sub genre of Fantasy. There really are no limits to this challenge as Fantasy is such a wide and varied genre. Just enjoy and have fun!

The rules:

  • Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section on the post about the challenge.
  • Any book format counts.
  • You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  • Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.

There are four participation levels:

  1. Curious– Read 3 Fantasy Fiction novels. (I'm picking this level.)Fascinated– Read 6 Fantasy Fiction novels.
  2. Addicted– Read 12 Fantasy Fiction novels.
  3. Obsessed– Read 20 Fantasy Fiction novels.

So that is all from me at the moment. I am sure I will participate in more, after all they are so fun and addictive (plus, the buttons are all so lovely)!


Teaser Tuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

Here's my teaser for today:

I am walking on buried treasure, I thought, with the grass brushing against my hands and nothing around me but the reach of the long field with the grass blowing and the pine woods at the end; behind me was the house, and far off to my left, hidden by trees and almost out of sight, was the wire fence our father had built to keep people out.

(Pg 52-3 , We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson)

This week's questions are about making a list.

Do you have a book wish list for the holidays? (Or is that one of those 'duh' questions?) If so, what's on it?

Are you very specific when someone asks what you want for a gift? Or do you throw caution to the wind and say, "Oh any book you choose...." Or do you prefer a bookstore gift card?

Do you buy books for people on your gift list? Do you choose books for them that you like and try to influence their reading (or hope they'll loan it to you when they're done)? Or do you get specific titles from your giftee?

Where do you buy your book gifts? Do you shop at local independent bookstores, or the "big box" stores? or do you shop online?

I keep a wishlist for the books I want to buy, so I will just refer to it on any occasions. Some of them are books which I am coveting, but most of them are recommendations from fellow bookbloggers.

I don't really tell or drop hints to my family or friends what I want for a gift, unless they ask (persistently). Well, I rarely receive books as gifts from my family or close friends, but that's because they knew I have many books and they are afraid of getting duplicates, and also they knew I would prefer to buy my own books anyway. Honestly, I'm glad to receive anything, be it books or a gift card.

I love getting books for anyone, however I will try to get something else for a person if I know he/she is not into reading. That said, there are also occasions I bought some books (which are on most bookbloggers' favourite lists) for my not-so-booklover friends, as I hope such attempts will help to change their minds on books and reading (not all I had succeeded, but at least I made an effort).

I don't have any specific bookstore to shop, but I do love browsing at bookstores.

What about you?
ISBN-13: 9780142414996
Publisher: Speak, Penguin Group
Published: 2009
352 pgs

I am in the mood of reading a holiday theme book, so when I saw this on the shelves I know I have to read it (plus Nymeth had read and loved it).

The first story is The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson; it is about a girl named Jubilee Dougal (she has issues over her name) and one day she find herself in a train journey to Florida for a stay with her grandparents because her parents are taken into custody over the Flobie Santa Village (a series of collectable ceramic pieces that can put together to form a town and her parents are a huge fan of them) incident. Jubilee is stumped because that means her plans to celebrate the holidays with her boyfriend, Noah, is spoiled. But the worse is to come when there are problems with the train and she is stuck at a Waffle House together with fourteen overly enthusiastic cheerleaders and there she befriended Jeb (who is also travelling on the same train as her), a man dressed in tinfoil and Stuart, a boy covered in plastic bags. I will not elaborate further, but just want to say this is a heartwarming tale that leave a cozy feeling in my heart. I liked how Jubilee and Stuart are connected, and I am sure their encounter will bring a smile to your face.

The second story is A Cheertastic Christmas by John Green. John is the only author I have read among all in this novella and after reading Looking for Alaska and enjoying it, I really look forward to reading the rest of his books. In this story, John focus the relationship of three friends (two boys and a girl) and how a trip to the Waffle House in a blizzard will change their outlook of life and a new love to blossom along the way. I had fun reading this story because some parts are hilarious, and I find it romantic reading about friends turning to lovers. Though I enjoyed reading this little story, I think it lacks a little of a cozy feeling but that is just me.

And last of all, The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle left a big smile to my face because it is about a reconciliation between a couple and a teacup piglet. Addie is feeling heartbroken over her breakup with Jeb, and she thinks there will be no future between her and Jeb until an incident (and a miracle) happens that involved a teacup piglet.

Let it Snow is a wonderful holiday theme anthology that really captures the spirit of the holiday season, but what I loved most is the novellas are interconnected (be it characters or settings) and each novella has great characterizations. I liked reading the different personalities of these protagonists and how they deal under difficult situations. This anthology is more than a romance stories to me as it also focus on friendships, connections and well, it is also about finding one's self. I am amazed by the three authors for connecting these stories so well that sometimes I forgot they are merely novellas. I enjoyed reading all three, but I have to say The Jubilee Express remains my favourite.

Other reviews:
Becky's Book Reviews
Fyrefly's Book Blog
Things Mean A Lot
(Let me know if I missed yours.)
I am still wondering about my Secret Santa when I received another mysterious package in the post earlier! This time round, the package contains a scented candle (Orange & Cinnamon - which smells wonderful to me) and a Christmas tree and a star erasers. As in the last package, it contains an invoice and still no name of my Secret Santa. Both packages are sent from the UK, so I am not sure if my Secret Santa is a UK blogger, or did he/she merely order these gifts from the UK.

Now do you have any idea how the secrecy is killing me? I want to thank my Secret Santa, but I have no idea who he/she is!

To my Secret Santa: Once again, thank you so much for the gifts! I really appreciate them all! (Could you please reveal your identity?)

Booking Through ThursdayCheck Spelling

Suggested by Tammy:

What items have you ever used as a bookmark? What is the most unusual item you’ve ever used or seen used?

Most of the times, I use bookmarks to mark my books. There were a few times I used receipts as bookmarks because I wanted to read the books I bought on my way home. Sometimes, I will also use post-it tags but they are more of a mark for quotes (to be quoted for my reviews) than as a bookmark. I have also used postcards as a bookmark too, but that is because I have extras (they are promotions from the Tourism Board and are free of charge).

What about you? What other items have you used besides bookmarks?

I received a mail notice on Tuesday telling me there is a package for me, since I was not at home when the postman arrived. I called the post office to reschedule for another delivery the following afternoon since I would be taking some time off from work.

I knew it would be something from my Secret Santa because I have not ordered anything online lately. When I received the package from the postman (it is a 'she', actually), I was thrilled and I was anxious to find out who he/she is.

I opened the package and found a lovely purple handmade journal packed in a cardboard protector. There was an invoice from the gift company but I could not find the name of my Secret Santa.

To my Secret Santa: Thank you so much for the gift! Could you please leave a comment here or drop me an email? I would like to know who you are! :-)

Also, I have not heard any news from my Holiday Swap Giftee yet so I am worried if my package was lost in the mail.

Finally, I want to thank Nymeth and her BBHS team for hosting this wonderful event!

Happy Holidays!

Hard Rock Cafe
Berlin, Germany

Alice and Naida both passed me the "Over The Top" award and I cannot thank them enough! I feel so loved! Thank you, ladies!

Here are the rules:
Answer the following questions using single word answers. Then pass the award to 5 other people and let them know.

Your cell phone? red
Your hair? long
Your mother? gone
Your father? home
Your favorite food? spaghetti
Your dream last night? dreamless
Your favorite drink? tea
Your dream/goal? happiness
What room are you in? office
Your hobby? reading
Your fear? heights
Where do you want to be in 6 years? USA
Where were you last night? cinema
Something that you aren’t? arrogant
Muffins? blueberry
Wish list item? books
Where did you grow up? Singapore
Last thing you did? type
What are you wearing? clothes
Your TV? home
Your Pets? none
Friends? great
Your life? content
Your mood? happy
Missing someone? yes
Vehicle? none
Something you’re not wearing? socks
Your favorite store? bookstores
Your favorite color? blue
When was the last time you laughed? yesterday
Last time you cried? forgot
Your best friend? Jennifer
One place that you go to over and over? work
Facebook? yes
Favorite place to eat? foodcourt

I am passing on this award to:
Julia of Julia's Books Corner
Candace of Beth Fish Reads
This is a weekly event hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page every Wednesday.

Marcia says:

I love beautiful, and interesting, cover art so every Wednesday I post my 'Cover Attraction' for the week along with a synopsis of the book. Everyone is welcome to stop by and, if they'd like, post a link to their favorite weekly book cover.

* * * * *

I think the title is catchy, but the cover is the one that speaks the most to me.

Too Much Money by Dominick Dunne
ISBN-13: 9780609603871
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Published: December 2009

Synopsis (From B&N):

"My name is Gus Bailey...It should be pointed out that it is a regular feature of my life that people whisper things in my ear, very private things, about themselves or others. I have always understood the art of listening."

The last two years have been monstrously unpleasant for high-society journalist Gus Bailey. His propensity for gossip has finally gotten him into trouble -- $11 million worth. His problems begin when he falls hook, line, and sinker for a fake story from an unreliable source and repeats it on a radio program. As a result of his flip comments, Gus becomes embroiled in a nasty slander suit brought by Kyle Cramden, the powerful congressman he accuses of murder, and he fears it could mean the end of him.

The stress of the lawsuit makes it difficult for Gus to focus on the novel he has been contracted to write, which is based on the suspicious death of billionaire Konstantin Zacharias. It is a story that has dominated the party conversations of Manhattan's chattering classes for more than two years. The accused murderer is behind bars, but Gus is not convinced that justice was served. There are too many unanswered questions, such as why a paranoid man who did not go anywhere without bodyguards was suddenly left without protection the very night he perished in a tragic fire. Gus believes the answers lie with Konstantin's hot-tempered and vengeful wife, Perla. He intends to uncover the truth, even though doing so will gain him another dangerous enemy.

In true Dominick Dunne fashion, Too Much Money is peppered with thinly veiled fictions, keeping readers guessing about the real-world villains and intrigues that lie beneath its chapters. Dunne revives the world he first introduced in his mega-bestselling novel People like Us, and he brings readers up-to-date on favorite characters such as Ruby and Elias Renthal, Lil Altemus, and, of course, the beloved Gus Bailey. Once again, he invites us to pull up a seat at the most important tables at Swifty's, get past the doormen at esteemed social clubs like The Butterfield, and venture into the innermost chambers of the Upper East Side's most sumptuous mansions.

Too Much Money is a satisfying, mischievous, and compulsively readable tale by the most brilliant society chronicler of our time -- the man who knows all the secrets and isn't afraid to share them.


Teaser Tuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

I am almost done reading a holiday theme anthology, Let It Snow by three well-known YA authors - John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle. Look out for my review soon. Here is a teaser of The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson:

"Where were you going?" he asked.

"To Florida. To see my grandparents. My parents are in jail."

(Pg 35 , The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson)

This week's post is from Trisha at Eclectic/Eccentric.

Books take us on journeys, flitting us off to other times, people, and places. From ancient caves to medieval castles to modern skyscrapers; from delicate geishas to turn of the century immigrants to future captains of spaceships; books are our path to other worlds. But what about the journey we give our books? What path do books take through our hands?

How do you choose what to read? Is it random or planned? Based on your mood, challenges, titles, covers, topic?

What process do you use for reading? Do you take notes while reading? Annotate your books? Just read?

What happens when you are done reading? Do you wait to review or write immediately? Do you revisit and revise before posting?

What other tasks do you go through after reading a book? Is your blog the only place you post a review? Do you keep lists of readings? Catalog genre, page numbers, gender of authors, etc.?

What happens to the book when you are done with it? Does it end up in your home
library? Go back to a public library? BookMooch?

Overall, if you had to give someone a "How To" list for your dealings with any particular book, what would it look like?
I don't have any specific rules when it comes to my reading. Anyone who knows me well will know I'm a moody reader (i.e. the books I chose have a lot to do with my mood at that moment). In the past, I buy and read books based on my own preference, but thanks to blogging and the wonderful bookblogging community, nowadays most of the books I bought come from fellow bookbloggers' recommendations. Some of them might be new-to-me authors or even out of my reading comfort zone but I am glad their reviews have brought my attention to these books.

When reading books, I rarely take notes unless I came across some wonderful or unforgettable quotes which I would love to share with my readers during my reviews. I used to draft my reviews while I read along, but nowadays I just write after reading the books but I will revisit and revise before posting.

I don't have a list of books I have done reading, so this blog is everything to me. Besides posting my reviews here, I do post them on Goodreads too. And after I am done with the reviews, I will set the books on to my 'read' pile (when the pile gets too high, they will be packed into boxes). However, I do not keep all the books I read. For books which I am not interested in re-reading or keeping, I will either add them to my BookMooch inventory, host giveaways or donate them to some organizations. Speaking of this, Lisa of Online Publicist is hosting The Dewey Tree Donation Project, an event in honour of Dewey (Hidden Side of a Leaf) who passed away this time last year.

Are you interested? Here's what you do:
  • Gather up the books you can live without. It can be 4 books, 10 books, or 20 books!
  • Find a worthy group you would like to donate your overflow books to. It can be your local library, a literacy campaign, or overseas. There's a great list of book donation sites here on the ALA. Find a charity that speaks to you!
  • Then take a picture of your donation and email it to Lisa (onlinepublicist [AT] gmail [DOT] com). It can be a picture of the mailing label on your package, one of your kids giving a box of books to a librarian, or you handing books over to your literacy center. Be creative and have fun!
    Lisa will accept pictures until January 4th 2010, and three lucky winners will receive custom made totes from Lisa!

    ISBN-13: 9780451227997
    Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
    Published: November 2009
    335 pgs

    When bricks crumble, the fireplace falls;
    When children cry, the mothers call.
    When lies are told, the sins are built,
    Within the waves, hide all our guilt.
    ~Pg 20

    I enjoyed reading The House on Tradd Street by Karen White so much so that I read the next installment, The Girl on Legare Street right after I finished that book.

    Well, where shall I begin? For starters, let's say I loved this book more than The House on Tradd Street. Don't get me wrong, I loved that book, but this book is better in my opinion. And also, I loved seeing Realtor Melanie Middleton and True historical crime writer Jack Trenholm are back together again working on another project - this time around it is the mystery and secrets surrounding her ancestral home on Legare Street.

    Melanie is still recovering from her bewilderment on inheriting a historical estate on Tradd Street as from the previous book, so when Ginnette, her estranged mother suddenly returns to Charleston and told her she needs to protect her after receiving a premonition (readers who have read The House on Tradd Street would know that Melanie and Ginnette have psychic abilities) and she fears Melanie might be in great danger from a supernatural force, which she sensed has got something to do with the house on Legare Street left by her late mother, Sarah Manigault Prioleau as she had left some clues behind and she is determined to unravel the secrets behind the old house.

    Melanie is still feeling terribly hurt by her mother's sudden departure thirty-five years ago, but she gave in to Ginnette's offer to stay in the house on Legare Street, since her historical house on Tradd Street is under major renovation and plus, Jack Trenholm offers to help them in investigating the mystery. Melanie might not want to admit it, but she could not help but feel attracted towards Jack although at times she is confused by the way he talks and acts around her. To heighten the complexity, Rebecca Edgerton, a reporter and an old friend of Jack, enter into the picture and Melanie is not sure if she is unhappy over her insistent probing on the house or that she is getting too cozy with Jack. Either way, it irritates her but she is soon caught up by the intrigue and the secrets of the Legare Street's house and besides, she is also interested to find more about her supernatural protector, who had kept her accompany since she was staying in the house on Legare Street when she was young and knowing that he is somewhat linked to the mystery.

    What I loved about this book is the great characterization and the author has a way in building the tension and suspense. I find myself flipping through the pages quickly and/or holding my breath most of the times while reading this book and immersed into the story deeply that at times I have to remind myself that this is not a true story and that Melanie is only a fictional character. Rebecca gets on my nerves and I have to admit I do not really like or trust her in the beginning of the story, but you know how one's opinion will change once the story slowly unfolds in front of your eyes and that things might not be what it seems at first.

    I enjoyed reading the history of the Legare Street's house, and I was really intrigued by the family tree of the Prioleau's family and some others. Though the story is nicely wrapped up, I felt a little perplexed over a particular character towards the end and I hope the next book (considering if there is a sequel, that is) will be able to shed some light on the issue.

    Last but not least, I want to thank Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting for sending this book to me for review.

    Other reviews:
    J. Kaye's Book Blog
    S. Krishna's Books
    Savvy Verse & Wit
    (Let me know if I missed yours.)

    Cologne Cathedral
    Koln, Germany
    This is a weekly event hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page every Wednesday.

    Marcia says:

    I love beautiful, and interesting, cover art so every Wednesday I post my 'Cover Attraction' for the week along with a synopsis of the book. Everyone is welcome to stop by and, if they'd like, post a link to their favorite weekly book cover.

    * * * * *

    Death Without Tenure by Joanne Dobson
    ISBN-13: 9781590587096
    Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
    Published: December 2009

    Synopsis (From B&N):

    Professor Karen Pelletier is about to realize her dream; after six years in the English Department at New England’s exclusive Enfield College, she is up for tenure. Then Professor Joseph Lone Wolf, her rival for the one tenured spot in the department, whose ethnicity gives him minority-preference status, is found dead from an overdose of Peyote buttons. First on the list of suspects, Karen is harassed by a homicide cop with a grudge against his colleague, the love of Karen’s life, Lieutenant Charlie Piotrowski. On campus, political passions rage. Two of Karen’s favorite students, Khalida Ahmed, a hijab-wearing Muslim, and Hank Brody, a coal-miner’s son on full scholarship, are caught up in the furor. Without the presence of her beloved Charlie, now serving a tour of duty with the National Guard in Iraq, will Karen be able to survive the investigation, protect her students, and find a permanent niche in the world of academe? And what if the killer feels the need to strike again?


    Teaser Tuesdays

    TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

    • Grab your current read.
    • Let the book fall open to a random page.
    • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    • Please avoid spoilers!

    My teaser for today:

    The prospect of talking face to face with Sirius was all that sustained Harry over the next fortnight, the only bright spot on a horizon that had never looked darker. The shock of finding himself school champion had worn off slightly now, and the fear of what was facing him was starting to sink in.

    (Pg 275, Harry Potter and the Globlet of Fire by J.K. Rowling)

    This is a buddy read with Julia. Though I had re-read Book 1-3 of this series and had watched all the movies to-date, this is actually the first time I'm reading this book, and I'm enjoying every moment of it. J.K. Rowling is truly a wonderful storyteller!

    This post has been long overdue but I want to thank Alice of Hello, My Name Is Alice for passing on "The Uplifting Blogger" Award to me.

    If you have not visited Alice's blog, you should because she is a great photographer and she always has some stunning pictures to share! And I want to mention she is also one of my great blogger friends and I am very glad to know her.

    I won't be passing this award on to anyone, but just want to say your passion for books and reading is uplifting to this wonderful book blogging community!