Melody
Koln, Germany

Melody
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.

* * * * *

My find for this week is The Rose Labyrinth by Titania Hardie.

ISBN-13: 9781416586005
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: September 2009

Synopsis:

From bestselling British author Titania Hardie comes a mystical fiction debut that takes readers on a romantic journey from Elizabethan England to modern-day London where a centuries-old secret awaits.

Before his death in 1609, Queen Elizabeth's spiritual consultant, astrologer, and scientific advisor John Dee hid many of his most astonishing written works, believing that the world was not yet prepared to face the shocking truths that they revealed. For seventeen generations, his female descendants have carefully guarded the secret of his hiding place, waiting for the right moment to bring Dee's ideas to light. That time is now.

In The Rose Labyrinth, Titania Hardie masterfully blends historical fact and fiction as she introduces readers to Lucy King, a beautiful, young documentary producer based in London. With the help of a brilliant group of friends, Lucy races through London, France, and New York to decipher the clues that will eventually lead her to the hidden treasure of the Rose Labyrinth. Along the way she finds true love with Alex Stafford, the doctor who saw her through a life-threatening heart condition and transplant.

A sweeping adventure for readers who loved The Da Vinci Code and The Expected One, The Rose Labyrinth is a decadent, romantic novel with a historical twist. It features a wonderful mix of literary references, from Shakespeare, to the Romantic poets, to Gabriel Garcia Marquez; the folklore and history of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Paganism; and of course, astrology and numerology, of which Hardie is an expert. As the Rose Labyrinth tells us, the world we think we know is not all that it appears tobe.

* * * * *

To find out more or participate, go to The Printed Page every Wednesday.

Melody

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:

Jolted back to reality, Heath couldn't help but think about the funeral, his grandfather's heavy casket plunging into a freshly dug grave. The image was dark, but that wasn't so bad.

What was bad was that he still couldn't picture the face in that casket, and he couldn't find the emotion you were supposed to feel when your grandfather dies.

(Note: I have to include another sentence to show how Heath is feeling towards his grandfather.)


(Pg 38, Thanksgiving at the Inn by Tim Whitney)

Melody

Musing Mondays

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about your wishlist…

Do you keep a book wishlist, either on paper, Amazon/etc, or via a book database site (Shelfari, GoodReads, LibraryThing)? If yes, do you share this list with others (especially coming up to Christmas)?

With all the great recommendations I get from fellow bookbloggers (or anyone who recommends me a book title for that matter), it is surely hard not to keep a wishlist, hehe. In this case, I keep track of the books I want on a journal (or on a piece of paper if I don't have the journal in hand). I do have an account with Shelfari, GoodReads and LibraryThing, but I use them for different purposes.

For Shelfari, it is a record of the books I own though I have not updated it in a long while! GoodReads is where I share my book reviews besides here on my blog, while LibraryThing is the place where I list my latest acquisitions. I also keep a wishlist on BookMooch so I could mooch the book once it is available.



I will be taking a short break from blogging for the next few days (I am not going anywhere as I will be spending some time with my daughters at home), and I am not sure if I would have the time (or a chance) to be online given that my 1-yr-old is always vying for my attention. I am not even sure if I have the time to read too but I can always try! However, I have some scheduled posts updated for some memes (i.e. Teaser Tuesday, Cover Attraction and Wordless Wednesday) for the next two days so it would not look as if my blog is going on a hiatus. I have just finished reading The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and I loved it! I have to gather my thoughts before writing a review on it so I am hoping it would be up on Thursday or Friday.

Meanwhile, happy reading to you all and I will catch up with everyone once I am back next week!

Melody

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia from The Printed Page.

I only received one book last week but it is enough to make me very happy:

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I would have got this book way much earlier if I had not waited for it from the bookstore (they claimed the books have not arrived). I guess I was too impatient to wait anymore so I ordered it from The Book Depository instead. And guess what, I still didn't see the books on shelves the last time I visited the bookstore (i.e. last Thursday) and I am so glad that I didn't wait much longer!

So what books came into your house last week?

Melody
ISBN-13: 9780061732959
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: August 2009
240 pgs





Reading Wait Until Twilight is totally a new experience for me. In the beginning, I was very intrigued by the premise. It is about a sixteen-year-old, Samuel, who is coping with the death of her mother after she died of a brain tumor. However, this story does not focus on his dealing of her death, it is more of a coming-of-age story after he encountered something horrific and unimaginable that made him see things differently and more clearly as compared to other boys his age.

Samuel's father owns a shop and his brother, Jill is attending college in a nearby town. Samuel is not close with his family, but that does not really bother him. His so-called peaceful life is interrupted when he has to think of ideas for his school project and he found three deformed babies in his neighbour's house. Before this, he had heard of rumours on the babies but this is the first time that he actually believed in them. Thereafter, the image of the deformed babies began to haunt him in his waking moments as well as in his dreams and he knows he has to see them again.

The triplets' mother, Mrs Greenan, however does not welcome him and thinks he is nothing but a troublemaker. Besides the triplets, Mrs Greenan also has an older son, Daryl, but it seems there is something not right about him. Samuel is troubled by his violent and abusive behaviour and this is where the core of the story really is. You see, Samuel is battling with himself for as much as he find the triplets horrifying, however there is an emotion in him that makes him want to save them. This dilemma he faces will question about his humanity and how the decision he made in the end will affect his outlook on life thereafter.

In the beginning, I did not know what to expect when I started reading this story. Reading the part about the deformed triplets left me in chills because like Samuel, I was totally unprepared for it. Honestly I was a little scared of them, but yet I also felt sorry for them. This book was not an easy read and there were times I had to set it aside before picking it up again. Though the story may sound a little dark, but I like the idea of having a young protagonist who is battling with his inner self, especially on a sensitive topic like this.

I want to thank the author and his publicist for sending this book to me for review.

Other reviews:
Booking Mama
Everything Distils Into Reading
The Book Zombie
Violet Crush
(Let me know if I missed yours.)

Melody
Bonn, Germany

Additional:
Part of my TBR pile
(I took this picture while lying on the floor. There are actually four stacks here; 2 being hidden behind from these stacks. Only 3 books were read from these piles - The Goose Girl, Enna Burning by Shannon Hale and The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi. Click onto the image for a larger view.)
Melody
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.

* * * * *

My find this week is The Puzzle King by Betsy Carter.

ISBN-13: 9781565125940
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Published: August 2009

Synopsis:

On a gray morning in 1936, Flora Phelps stands in line at the American consulate in Stuttgart, Germany. She carries a gift for the consul, whom she will bribe in order to help her family get out of Hitler’s Germany. This is the story of unlikely heroes, the lively, beautiful Flora and her husband, the brooding, studious Simon, two Jewish immigrants who were each sent to America by their families to find better lives. An improbable match, they meet in New York City and fall in love. Simon—inventor of the jigsaw puzzle—eventually makes his fortune. Now wealthy, but still outsiders, Flora and Simon become obsessed with rescuing the loved ones they left behind in Europe whose fates are determined by growing anti-Semitism on both sides of the Atlantic.

Inspired by her family’s legends, Betsy Carter weaves a memorable tale. In the tradition of Suite Fran├žaise or Amy Bloom's Away, she explores a fascinating moment in history and creates a cast of characters who endure with dignity, grace, and hope for the future.

* * * * *

To find out more or participate, go to The Printed Page every Wednesday.

Melody
ISBN-13: 9780385901789
Publisher: Random House
Published: July 2009
240 pgs






Seventeen-year-old Stella Madison is the daughter of a famous chef and a restaurateur. She does not know much about cooking and it always intrigue her when she sometimes sees her father making a fuss on getting a dish prepared, in which he would reply that cooking is a form of art and it should be taken seriously.

Unlike Stella's father, Stella's mother is not much of a cook but she helps to ensure the restaurant is running and also to keep tabs on the financials even though they are separated. However, they still maintain an amicable relationship and sometimes this makes Stella wonder about them. But that is not all to it, Stella has a devoted boyfriend and he has said the big L-word to her. Stella knew she should be thrilled over Max's confession, after all he is adorable and she gets along well with his family, but she is not so sure about committing herself since she has other things on her mind: her parents' separation and the summer internship at the local newspaper. To make things more complex, she is attracted to Jeremy, a new intern who works in the restaurant and she is seeing him more than Max, not that she could help it considering she has to write articles on food and she needs his opinions since he knew much more than her.

So how does Stella cope with all these issues thrown in her way? Though she struggles to find a balance (or a solution, depending on how one views it), it is through this stage that she began to understand more about her life as it helps her to appreciate her family and understand the true meaning of friendship through the things that happened to her.

The Sweet Life of Stella Madison is a fun, entertaining story about family, friendship and food. I love reading a story surrounding food and this is one reason why I picked up this book, besides the pretty cover that is. I think most teenagers would be able to understand and feel for Stella, after all life is not a bed of roses and sometimes, we have to make a choice and accept it no matter how much we like it or loathe it. In the beginning, I was not sure if I like Stella because she seems unpredictable to me; she gave me the impression she does not know what she wants in life and she is wishy-washy of her feelings towards her boyfriend. But as I read further, it made me think that most of us have gone through those stages before, but with different situations and scenarios, that is all.

One of the things I loved is each chapter begins with a list of food (just like the way you view at a menu that starts with appetizer, main course, dessert etc) and speaking of food, it reminds me of The School of Essential Ingredients which is one of my favourite reads this year. It is a sheer delight reading these books as you wonder about the food mentioned.

So, have you read a book that is centered on food? Do share with me!

Other review:
Books By Their Cover
(Let me know if I missed yours.)

Melody

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 four of them stood, for the first time, in the wide, dark entrance hall of Hill House. Around them the house steadied and located them, above them the hills slept watchfully, small eddies of air and sound and movement stirred and waited and whispered, and the center of consciousness was somehow the small space where they stood, four separated people, and looked trustingly at one another.




(Pg 41, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson)
Melody

(This is a scheduled post. I am taking a day off today as it is a public holiday.)

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia from The Printed Page.

I received the following books last week:

1) Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene M. Pepperberg (a giveaway win from Jennifer)

2) The Promised World by Lisa Tucker (Thanks to Wendy!)

3) Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti (bought from The Book Depository)

4) Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble (bought from The Book Depository)



So what books came into your house last week?

Melody
First of all, I want to thank everyone for participating in my giveaway during the Book Blogger Appreciation Week. I received a lot of response and thanks to all the participants for recommending your favourite YA novels to me. I will be sure to check them out!

Onto the topic, I have drawn a winner with a little help from Random.org and she is Kathy of Bermudaonion!

~~Congratulations, Kathy!~~

Kathy won a copy of Looking for Alaska by John Green. (Note to Kathy: I will email you shortly for your mailing address.)
Melody

Today is the last day for BBAW and the topic for today is:

Setting Goals! Write in 50 words or less…what do you like best about your blog right now and where would you like your blog to be a year from now?

I have to keep this short and sweet. I started this blog because I love reading and talking about books with all booklovers around the world. Finding good friends through this wonderful community is another great bonus to me! These are my goals and they will always remain the same. (50 words)



I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone (no matter if you are old friends or new readers) for visiting and commenting on my blog! I really appreciate them all.

Last but not the least, a BIG Thank You goes to Amy and the BBAW team for all their hard work and efforts for putting this event together and making it a huge success! Without BBAW, I would not have the chance to find so many great bookblogs out there (and making new friends)! Thanks, everyone!

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Melody

Booking Through ThursdayCheck Spelling

What’s the most enjoyable, most fun, most just-darn-entertaining book you’ve read recently?


I finished reading a YA novel, The Sweet Life of Stella Madison by Lara M. Zeises a few days ago and it is so fun and entertaining. I have yet to draft a review for this book but let me share the synopsis with you (from the author's site):

It's not easy being the daughter of a famous chef and a restaurant owner when your idea of a great meal is the kind that's served via a drive-through window.

Seventeen-year-old Stella Madison's food-loving parents have been separated for years, but they're still as sweet to each other as can be, which is just the way Stella likes it. When their connections help her land a summer job at the local newspaper, the salary is hard to resist. There's only one catch: she's expected to write about food.

Now Stella will need all the advice she can get to complete her assignments. Luckily, she has Jeremy, the hot new intern at her mom's restaurant, who's more than happy to help. Soon, Stella can't stop thinking about Jeremy--but where does that leave Stella's boyfriend, Max, who recently dropped the L-word? If that's not confusing enough, her dad's interest in the pretentious programming director of the Food Network seems to go beyond the culinary, and it looks like her mother might be cooking up a romance of her own….

The Sweet Life of Stella Madison is a warmhearted, delectable novel about what it means to love and be loved, especially when there are a few too many cooks in the kitchen.

I simply couldn't turn down a book on food and love. Don't you think they make a great combination?

So what’s the most enjoyable, most fun, most just-darn-entertaining book you have read recently?

Melody

Can you believe it’s already Day 4 of BBAW? Where has the time gone? Well hopefully you’ve discovered plenty of new book blogs to clog up your RSS feed readers and introduce you to more marvelous books throughout the year! But let’s talk about that book you know, the one you discovered only because you read about it on a book blog and then you realized you couldn’t live without it! And then you read it and you loved it so hard! Tell us about it and about the blogger (or bloggers!) that introduced the book to you!

I bought a lot of books based on fellow bookbloggers' recommendations. Here is a list I read this year (Please click the book titles for my reviews, and the name of the blogs for fellow bookbloggers' reviews):

So these are the books I read and loved so much. I still have a lot of books sitting in my TBR pile recommended by many bookbloggers... I wish I'm able to list them all here!

Labels: 19 comments | edit post
Melody

Today is the third day of BBAW and gosh, I have so much fun visiting blogs and meeting new friends! I have no idea how many new blogs I have added to my Google Reader but I am not going to think about that.


So what activity has lined up for today? A reading meme! I hope you enjoy reading my answers because I have fun answering them!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack? Sometimes. It depends where I am reading; I usually snack more at home. My all-time favourite snack has to be Lays potato chips!

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? I don't mark or write on my books (unless they are school textbooks, haha). But if I want to jot something on my books, I will use a post-it tag because it is so convenient (I can always remove it whenever I want and still leave my books clean).

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? I always use a bookmark. I have a collection of them so why not make good use of them? However, I would leave the beautiful ones out because I hate to dirty/wrinkle them.

Laying the book flat open? Depends if I am in a hurry or whether or not if I have a bookmark in hand.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? Definitely fiction.

Hard copy or audiobooks? Hard copy. I tried an audiobook once and decided that it doesn't work for me.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? I tend to read to the end of chapters, otherwise to the end of a page. I just can't hang it dangling in between passages!

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? Not right away, but I will jot down the word so I can look up the meaning in the dictionary next time.

What are you currently reading? I'm currently reading Wait Until Twilight by Sang Pak and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.

What is the last book you bought? I bought three books actually. They are Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs, Covet by J.R. Ward and Living with the Dead by Kelley Armstrong.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? I'd prefer to read one book at a time, but there are times that I read two books, like I'm currently doing.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? No. I read whenever I can, and I'd prefer to read in a place where it is quiet.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? Both are great to me, although I'd lean more towards stand alone books.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? Yes! John Harwood and Mo Hayder!

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) Once upon a time, I used to organize my books by genre but now with a few mountain high TBR piles (thanks to all the great recommendations by fellow bookbloggers), I have to sort them under 'read' or 'unread'.

Don't forget to leave me a link so I can read your answers!
Labels: 17 comments | edit post
Melody
Hamburg, Germany
Melody
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.

* * * * *

My find this week is The Lacemaker and the Princess by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. I love the warm colours, and I thought the premise sounds good too!


ISBN-13: 9781416919209
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Published: May 2007

Synopsis:

ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD ISABELLE IS A LACEMAKER IN THE TOWN OF VERSAILLES.

One day as she delivers lace to the palace, she is almost trampled by a crowd of courtiers — only to be rescued by Marie Antoinette. Before Isabelle can believe it, she has a new job — companion to the queen's daughter. Isabelle is given a fashionable name, fashionable dresses — a new identity. At home she plies her needle under her grandmother's disapproving eye. At the palace she is playmate to a princess.

Thrown into a world of luxury, Isabelle is living a fairy-tale life. But this facade begins to crumble when rumors of starvation in the countryside lead to whispers of revolution. How can Isabelle reconcile the ugly things she hears in the town with the kind family she knows in the palace? And which side is she truly on?

Inspired by an actual friendship between the French princess and a commoner who became her companion, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley offers a vivid portrait of life inside the palace of Versailles — and a touching tale of two friends divided by class and the hunger for equality and freedom that fueled the French Revolution.

* * * * *

To find out more or participate, go to The Printed Page every Wednesday.

Melody

Tasha from Heidenkind's Hideaway is my interview partner for Book Blogger Appreciation Week and I have to say I had a lot of fun getting to know her through this interview.

Without further ado, here is my interview with Tasha.

*****

Melody: I read from your profile that you are an art historian. Would you like to share with us about your position and what is the challenge you face being an art historian?
Tasha:
Well, right now my biggest challenge is finding a job. :P Sadly, the economy is making it more difficult to find jobs in the humanities. But before I was teaching at a university and that was a lot of work--constantly prepping for class, going over lectures, finding images, etc. It was fun work, though.

M: What made you decide to start a book blog?
T:
I love books! :D I've been blogging for about 5 years, but that was more of a personal blog. I started doing book reviews and people really seemed to like them; then they sort of began to take over my personal blog. So I wanted a site that would be more focused on my interest in that and the arts. That's basically how it got started.

M: Which is your favourite genre? Would you explore a new-to-me author/genre after reading fellow bookbloggers’ recommendations?
T:
Romance is definitely my favorite genre. As for exploring new-to-me genres based on blogger recommendations, I have. I've tried a few horror books based on the rec of a blogger I know really well (that's just about the only genre I hadn't read). I loved both the books she recommended, so I was very happy I stepped outside my comfort zone!

M: What do you like most about the blogging community? Have you met anyone from the blogging community? (If you did, do share with us!)
T:
I haven't met anyone from the book blogging community yet, although it would be nice. The best thing about the book blogging community is the the people, of course!

M: What is your policy when reviewing books? Would you review every book you have read? How do you feel about reviewing books which you did not enjoy?
T:
I review books that I have finished. Sometimes I'll write about books that I didn't finish, but I don't consider those reviews. If I didn't like a book, I'm going to explain why. It may become snarky. :) Basically I try to give every book the review I think it deserves--if a book deserves a lot of thought, I'll write a thoughtful review.

M: Which are your favourite and least favourite books this year? Which is the must-read in your opinion?
T:
Wow, I have no idea. My favorite of the year so far might be Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. I was really disappointed in My Wicked Marquis by Gaelen Foley. I try to forget about bad books as quickly as possible.

M: Finally, do you have any other hobbies besides books and reading?
T:
I like to hike and ski, although I don't do it very often. Obviously I love going to museums, and I enjoy making ceramics, printmaking, and photography. Occasionally I'll crochet when I feel the urge (which isn't very often).

*****

Thank you, Tasha, for answering my questions!

Please visit Tasha's blog if you haven't done so already!

Melody

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:

At first I think they're mechanical dolls, but the way they're squirming and moving around is too natural to be fake. Their heads are way too big, and their arms and legs are all different lengths.




(Pg 7, Wait Until Twilight by Sang Pak)

Melody

Hello, my dear readers! Today is the first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) and I am very excited to participate in this event again. Last year's BBAW was a blast and I was so thrilled to see a few of my favourite bloggers were voted the best in various categories. This year's BBAW is bigger and better than the last because there are over 1000 bookbloggers participating and more awards being introduced and awarded, but aside from the fun and recognition, this event is actually about bookbloggers and its wonderful community so this is a great time for you to say "Hello" and "Thank you" to the other bookbloggers out there and of course to talk about books and reading!

For today's post we are supposed to write a post thanking and spotlighting our favourite blogs that did not make the shortlists. Though I would love to write about this, I know it is impossible for me to list every of my favourite blogs (trust me, I have a lot!) and the fact that I might leave someone out given that I have a short memory, so my kick-off post for the BBAW today is all about sharing our favourite books instead. (I hope Amy, the founder of BBAW, wouldn't mind that I write a different topic!)

To make it more fun, I am having a giveaway and a lucky reader will win a book from my favourite books list (it will be a brand new copy purchased from The Book Depository). Just tell me what are your favourite books and name me a YA title (or a few if you like) that you would like me to read (I am addicted to YA novels lately and I would love all the recommendations I can get!). The giveaway is open worldwide, and the closing date is September 18. Don't forget to list the title you want to win from my list and your email address in this post. The winner will be announced on the following day, September 19. Good luck!

Here is a list of my 2009 favourite books so far:

Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week! Bookbloggers rock!

Melody

Musing Mondays

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about reading trends…

Do you find yourself forming trends in your reading? Is this a conscience act, influenced by either your own interests or current publishing fads?

If anyone asked me this question about five years ago, I would have answered yes. You see, I am a huge fan of the romance suspense, horror and thriller genres back then and I would read nothing else except those. However, blogging has made me "open up" to other genres and I have to thank fellow bookbloggers for this because without your great recommendations, I would have missed out a lot of good books out there!

Now that I have a wide variety of books to choose from, I do not really have any reading trends and the books I chose to read are mostly based on my reading mood at that moment. Publishing fads do not really have any effect on me, although they do allow me to add the books to my TBR pile for my future reading.

What about you? Do you have a reading trend?

Melody

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia from The Printed Page.

I received the following book last week:

1) A Better View of Paradise by Randy Sue Coburn (giveaway win from Sandy of You've Gotta Read This)



So what books came into your house last week?

Melody
ISBN-13: 9780575081871
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Published: 2008
403 pgs






Judas Coyne is not your typical hero as you read from other thriller/horror novels. For starters, he is an ageing metal rock star, but the most intriguing thing about him is he collects macabre stuff. For example, he has framed sketches of the seven dwarves on the wall of his studio, and he has the skull of a peasant who had been trepanned in the sixteenth century etc etc. It all seem very bizarre but Judas has no qualms about his weird collection at all, until his assistant, Danny Wooten, told him that there was a ghost for sale on the internet.

When Judas heard of it, he just knew this would be another great addition to his collection. He bought it and chuck the thought out of his mind. When a black, heart-shaped box arrives in the mail, Judas is perplexed to find nothing but a black and old-fashioned suit. It then struck him that this was a purchase he had made not too long ago and he called it 'the dead man's suit'. As indicated, there is nothing ordinary about this suit as it comes with a vengeful spirit. It turns out that the ghost, Craddock McDermott, is the stepfather of a girl who committed suicide after Judas had played and dumped her.

And this leads to a terrifying hide-and-seek between Judas and Craddock, as well as a woman named Marybeth since she is living with Judas and like him, she has a fancy for anything gothic. Craddock is determined to track them down and since he has got a knack of hypnotising people when he was alive, he intends to use his every power to drive Judas to the edge of sanity. And anyone who is helping Judas would not be spared either.

However, that is not all to this story. Judas also found out more things about Anna, the suicidal girl he once loved and left, and her relationship between her sister and Craddock as well.

No doubt Heart-Shaped Box is a horror story through and through, but it is also an engaging character drive story that makes you feel for the characters, especially for Anna. I am not going to spoil the story for you but if you read this book, you would be able to know about her history and how (why) this horror story begins.

Aside from The Ghost Writer, Heart-Shaped Box is another creepy book I read thus far this year; I would not recommend this book to anyone who is squeamish about blood and all (though I think some of those scenes are inevitable). Then again, Heart-Shaped Box is not entirely a story about ghost and revenge, it also touches issue like abuse and the human sentimentality which I think can be scarier than the ghost itself.


Other reviews:
(Let me know if I missed yours.)
Melody
ISBN-13: 9780316040099
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: September 2009
272 pgs





Anyone who knows me will be aware that I am a sucker for fairy tales retellings, and that is why I got sidetracked and I have to dive into this book the moment I have my hands on it. That said, that does not mean I do not enjoy the other books I am reading; I do, but it is just that I have been waiting for this book for some time. I even remember featuring it on one of the Cover Attraction post a while back.

Anyway, I shall end my ramblings and share my thoughts with you about this lovely book. Ash is a retelling of Cinderella, but it is definitely a darker tale and though the protagonist in each tale may portray of the same (a young girl who is treated unfairly by her stepmother and stepsisters), their journey and destiny are so much different. And unlike Cinderella, Ash is much more than a happily-ever-after story, besides the story about loss, hope and love, Ash is also a tale about courage and self discovery.

Aisling (Ash) is close with her mother and they always share stories about witches, fairies and the like. So when her mother died due to an illness, Ash felt her world has came to an end. To make matter worse, her father died shortly after remarrying another woman and Ash is stucked with her cruel stepmother and her two stepsisters, who claimed that her father has left them in debts and now Ash has to repay them by serving them and doing all the household chores. With no one to turn to, Ash can only find solace in her mother's fairy tales and through her dreams, she could only hope that those fairies will steal her away or grant her wishes. And it appears that those dreams are true, for Ash met a dark and alluring fairy, Sidhean, who told her that he would not want her to cross the human/fairy borders though he is fairly attracted to her.

It is also at this time that Ash met the King's huntress, Kaisa, and their friendship blossom. Their relationship gradually changes and they find themselves got attracted to each other as the days go by. However, Sidhean has already claimed Ash as his own and Ash felt torn between the two. Ash made a pact with Sidhean in return of spending some time with Kaisa and in the end, she has to make a decision between finding her dream or her true love.

Ash is not your typical happily-ever-after fairy tale, for the protagonist does not end up with the prince. In fact, Ash has no interest in the prince, for her mind is occupied with meeting with her late mother and to be with Kaisa. The love triangle between Sidhean and Kaisa is not as anticipating as it look, and I felt Sidhean's romantic feeling towards Ash is not as great. Though I could feel the strong relationship between Ash and Kaisa, I am not sure how some of the readers might react to their feeling towards each other. For me, I could think of nothing but the simple act of love for another human being and the motivations of pursuing one's dream.

Ash is beautifully written and the author has painted a vivid scene of the fairyland and in the woods and I found myself fascinated and drawn to them during my reading journey. This is Malinda Lo's debut novel and I definitely look forward for more.


Other reviews:
Presenting Lenore
Steph Su Reads
The Story Siren
(Let me know if I missed yours.)
Melody
Koln, Germany

Melody
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.

* * * * *

My find this week is Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.


ISBN-13: 9780316042673
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: December 2009

Synopsis (from B&N):

There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

* * * * *

To find out more or participate, go to The Printed Page every Wednesday.


Melody

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 still reading Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box and since I have done a teaser of it last week, I will not do so today, instead I will share with you a little teaser from Ash by Malinda Lo (which I am also currently reading). I am enjoying this book so far and I cannot wait to finish it!


At last she stood up and went to him, putting her hand on his arm, and he was very real: He wore linen, and it was as pale as the starlight, and when she pushed his hair out of his eyes it was as fine as silk. She looked up at his shadowed eyes and asked, "If you grant my wish, will there be a price to pay?"





(Pg 162, Ash by Malinda Lo)

Melody

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia from The Printed Page.

These are the books I received last week:

1) Touch by Francine Prose (bought from Book Depository)

2) Thanksgiving at the Inn by Tim Whitney (review copy)

So what books came into your house last week?

Melody
ISBN-10: 0747538484
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: July 1998
251 pgs






Synopsis (from B&N)
The eagerly anticipated sequel to the astounding smash hit Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is finally here! No need to wait — Harry's back for his second year at Hogwarts, where the infamous Chamber of Secrets has been opened for the first time in 50 years. The monster that is unleashed is literally petrifying Hogwarts students (turning them into stone, that is), and who is the primary suspect? Harry Potter himself. Add to this some enormous spiders, a Deathday Party, a ghost named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and lots and lots of suspense, and you'll soon find yourself engrossed in another terrific tale in which magic does exist and good eventually triumphs over evil.
So I had a great time re-reading the first installment, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone a while back. I find myself immersed in J.K. Rowling's amazing wizarding world and just could not get enough of it, and that is why I devour the second installment immediately after reading the first.

So without further ado, here is my self-interview review of the book.

Q: Which is your favourite and least favourite scene? Why?
A: There are a few scenes which I liked: Harry Potter and friends' encounter with Moaning Myrtle, who haunts the girls' toilet. I find their exchanges to be somewhat amusing at times. And I find myself holding my breath reading about Harry's and Ron's mission to find out the true heir of Slytherin and their narrow escape with the huge spider, Aragog and not to mention the gigantic and deadly Basilisk (also known as the King of Serpents). I also have to mention Hermione's heroic deeds when she went out the way to concoct the Polyjuice potion and being the one to find out about the facts on the Basilisk.

I do not think there is a scene which I dislike; there is so much adventure in this story. However, I have to say I was a little irritated by Professor Gilderoy Lockhart's attitude; I simply could not stand the way he thinks so highly of himself. Despite this, I am glad he is a harmless character after all.

Q: Name a trait which you think we all should learn from any of the characters in this book.
A: This will be a no surprise answer after all - Harry Potter's courage, his faith and his never-give-up attitude.

There is this scene between Professor Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter which I really, really like. Dumbledore was telling Harry that it is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities and I totally agree with him on this. How many times have we been persuaded or coaxed into doing something, but ultimately the decisions still lie upon us and we have to decide what is right or what is wrong.

Q: Your overall thoughts on this book?
A: I loved it that there are more adventure and more dangerous tasks for the three main characters as the series progress. (Warning: Do not read further to this answer if you have not read this book!) However, I was perplexed over a scene and wonder how did Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes managed to puncture the Basilisk's eyes without getting itself petrified? Did I miss anything there?

During my review for the first installment, I had requested some questions from fellow bookbloggers for this review and here they are:

Q: Do you think that the movie is really close to the book? Or will reading the book give you a different experience altogether? (Violet of Violet Crush)
A: Yes, I do think the movie follows closely to the book, but we all know it is impossible to capture every scene and/or description so I know there are bound to be some little things missed here and there and as long as they do not cut away the major scenes, I am totally fine with it.

I always prefer reading the books first before watching the movies. However, it is not the case in Harry Potter series as it is the movies that have me hooked to the books (I did not read a lot of YA books back then). I find there is not much difference in regards to the experience no matter if we are reading a book or watching a movie because we are always the third party as we watch the story slowly unfolds in front of us; often it is how the movie (or the characters) portray that makes us compare to the books.

Q: Does any of the book relate to your "real" life? (Amy of Amy Reads Good Books)
A: Fortunately, no! And onto a different topic, as much as I love reading about magic, I would rather read them in books than to see them happen in reality. It would be too scary if someone decided to use it to create chaos in real life.

Q: Which Hogwarts House would you chose to be in and why? (Naida of The Bookworm)
A: Gryffindor, of course! That house has the most righteous attitude among all, but most importantly my favourite characters - Harry and his friends are in it. Period.

Thanks to Violet, Amy and Naida for the great questions!

*****

Note: Please feel free to ask me any questions for my next review of the third installment, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Melody
I took a day off from work and blogging yesterday, and spent a great deal of time at two of my favourite bookstores and not surprisingly came home with some books, much to the dismay of my husband, hehe. Since the rest of my TBR piles are stacked dangerously high at a corner of our storage room (any additional books will have them topple onto you!), I told him I will temporarily leave them stacked on his study desk, but of course he wouldn't believe me and knew it would stack higher and higher instead of moving to a new storage place, haha.

Anyway, these are what I bought yesterday:

And, I have a couple of things to catch up on so please pardon me if I have not visited and commenting on your blogs.

Finally, I received this in an email and thought I want to share it with you:

To celebrate the success of The White Queen (by Philippa Gregory), LivingSocial and Simon & Schuster are giving away a trip to London and other great prizes.

Grand prize package [Retailed at about $4,000]:
· Roundtrip airfare for two to London; hotel accommodations for 3 nights in the Strand Palace, located in the heart of London’s Theatreland
· Tickets for a dinner cruise on the Thames
· A day tour of the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral
· Day trip to Windsor Castle and Runnymede
· $200 American Express Gift Card

1 first prize winner
· Will receive an e-reader loaded with The White Queen e-book

1 second prize winner
· Will receive a leather-bound edition of The White Queen

Please click here to find out more about the contest.

Labels: 16 comments | edit post
Melody
Koln, Germany

Melody
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.

* * * * *

My find this week is Still Waters by Nigel McCrery.


ISBN-13: 9780307388704
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Published: July 2009

Synopsis:
Razor-sharp and mesmerizingly eerie— with one of the most clever and ruthless villains to appear in ages— Still Waters is a stunning start to an exciting new crime series.

DCI Mark Lapslie is called in when the decayed body of an elderly woman is unearthed. The body provides few clues, beyond the fact that the murderer had a deadly knowledge of household plants. The dearth of evidence is not Lapslie’s only problem. He’s just returned to the force after a year trying to overcome the worst symptoms of his synesthesia, a neurological condition that causes him to “taste” sound. The murder appears to be the work of a serial killer who could strike again at any moment, so Lapslie has to find a way to make his synasethsia work for him, not against him. Otherwise the next life taken could be his own.

* * * * *

To find out more or participate, go to The Printed Page every Wednesday.

Melody

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:

He looked down at the ghost, and at the same time the dead man lifted his head and his eyes rolled open. But where his eyes belonged was only a black scribble.




(Pg 61, Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill)




I was tagged by Andreea of Passionate Booklover for this fun meme.

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Share your ABC’s
3. Tag three people at the end by linking to their blogs
4. Let the three tagged people know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website
5. Do not tag the same person repeatedly but try to tag different people, so there is a big network of bloggers doing this tag

Available or single? Married
Best Friend? Jennifer T.
Cake or Pie? Cake. I'm a cake lover!
Drink of choice? Water and green tea
Essential item for every day use? Cell phone
Favorite color? Blue
Google? Google all the time
Hometown? Singapore
Indulgences? Books and handbags
January or February? Hmm... it makes no difference to me
Kids and their names? 2 daughters: Wei Lin and Kai Lin
Life is incomplete without…? a family
Marriage date? 15 May 2003
Number of siblings? One younger sister
Oranges or apples? Apples (wait... I love all fruit!)
Phobias and fears? Heights and lizards
Quote for the day? "Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." ~ Dalai Lama
Reason to smile? Family and anything that makes me happy!
Season? Autumn (I'm getting tired of summer all year around)
Tag 3 people?

Amy @ Amy Reads Good Books
Ceri @ Not in the Pink
Mari @ MariReads

And anyone else who would like to play!

Unknown fact about me? I'm a vegetarian (since two months ago)
Vegetable you hate? Beetroot
Worst habit? Procrastinate
X-rays you’ve had? Chest
Your fave food? Too many to list! (I love Subway's Veggie Delite - with lots of honey mustard sauce! Will have it at least twice a week!)
Zodiac sign? Sagittarius