I’d like to wish all my friends and readers a very Happy New Year!

May 2011 brings you happiness, prosperity, good health and more books!!

It is that time of the year again which we get to list our favourite reads for the year. It was 2005 when I first did a ‘Book of the Year’ on my blog, and thereafter I make it a ‘tradition’ to do this at the end of each year. It is always so much fun and it also reflects what type of a reader I am for that year based on the books I read. While doing this list, I found out that I have been reading more YA novels this year as compared to the past; there are just so many great YA novels released this year and of course, I have to thank fellow bookbloggers for the recommendations.

Following last year's format, I am going to list the best books based on their genres. This list is basically chosen from my 2010 reading list and they may not necessarily be books published in 2010. Without further ado, here they are (please note all titles are not listed in any particular order):

Best YA
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Alright, so I listed three books instead of one under the YA category; I just couldn’t make up my mind over this since I loved them equally. Going Too Far has a great story and a greater characterisations to boot; and as for Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, this book just gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. As for Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, this book has captured the voice and emotional of teenagers, and what's more it is about finding romance when you least expected it; this is a true delight for all booklovers out there!

Since there are several titles which I also enjoyed but did not make it to the list, I think I should give them a shout out as well.

Honorary Mention:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Half World by Hiromi Goto
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Best Fiction
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Hands down! I don’t think there is any other book that is able to beat this one in my humble opinion. Sarah Waters rocks! Not only her writing is beautiful, but she is a great storyteller too!

Honorary Mention:
The Art of Disappearing by Ivy Pochoda
Midori by Moonlight by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga
On Folly Beach by Karen White

Best Thrillers
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Killing Floor by Lee Child
Faithful Place by Tana French

I had read a few good thrillers this year, thus I had a hard time narrowing down the list. However the above three titles stood out from among the rest because their plots had sort of blown me away. While plots are crucial to all stories, I find the characterisations are equally important too and I find the above three titles have them. It is no matter if those lead characters are heroes or one that carry emotional baggage, the point is they are some characters whom I would never forget in a long while.

Honorary Mention:
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Burn by Ted Dekker & Erin Healy

Best Romance
Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

I have to confess that I did not read a lot of romance this year, but the few which I read were actually great. Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James stood out among the list because it is highly entertaining. I don't remember reading a romance that made me laugh out loud for a long time, which I think is a good thing. However that does not mean that there isn't sizzle in this romance, there are! This book is one of those from enemies-turn to-lovers kind of stories and despite the cliché I still loved it!

Honorary Mention:
Ruthless by Anne Stuart

Best Manga/Graphic Novel
Blankets by Craig Thompson

How could I not rate Blankets as one of my top reads in 2010? Aside from the beautiful illustrations, the premise is both meaningful and powerful!

Honarary Mention:
告白〔漫画版〕- 湊佳苗 Confession by Kanae Minato (Manga)
裸足玫瑰 - 上田伦子 Stepping on Roses by Rinko Ueda (Manga)
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

So there you go! Which books are on your 'Best Of" list?
ISBN-13: 9780375866593
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Published: October 2010
272 pgs
Source: Personal Library

If someone left a moleskine notebook with a list of literary clues at a bookstore asking you to play along with him/her, would you take up the dare? Or would you just simply put the moleskine notebook back where it was placed and walk away?

Lily finds herself alone during the Christmas holidays, since her parents are off to Fiji to celebrate their Silver Anniversary and her elder brother, Langston would rather prefer spending his time with Benny, his new boyfriend than to be with her. However he has some plans for Lily and that involves a red Moleskine notebook, in which he together with Benny, mapped out a series of clues into it and left it at the Strand, the bookstore where they patronise frequently. Langston thought she would find a companion just right for her by helping her this way, but Lily thinks otherwise. Truth be told, she is simply a nice, quiet girl who loves playing soccer and one who loves books. It is not that Lily isn't attractive, but more like being the youngest of the family, she is well-protected and everyone around her neighbourhod seems to know her Grandpa and they all look affectionately upon him. So naturally they are looking out for her as well.

On the other end, Dash, another sixteen-year-old teenager, is alone during the holidays season too. Unlike Lily, his parents are divorced and he would rather spend the time by himself; he told each of his parents that he will be spending the holiday with the other, thus leaving them making plans of their own without him. Anyway, while he is perusing some shelves at the Strand one day, he finds a red Moleskine notebook hidden in between the books. Intrigued by it and the prospect that anyone would leave a notebook there, he takes it off the shelf and found out that someone has left some clues as part of a dare. Being a bookish person (he thinks so himself), his curiosity is piqued both by the literary clues written in it as well as the notebook owner. He decides to follow the leads and this is where the story begins.

This is a book about Dash and Lily's thoughts and their dreams as they exchange their inner thoughts and some information about themselves as they pass the notebook to and fro without meeting each other. Their dares would include finding funny book titles to travelling to places where they won't go under normal circumstances, yet it is through these explorations/experiences that they get to know each other more and finding something new about themselves which they haven't thought about from the beginning. There is just something intimate about their relationship despite that they are strangers, and this is one reason why I was being hooked to this story.

But that is not all to it, this novel has wonderfully captured the voice, the thoughts as well as the emotional parts of teenagers and I felt myself transported back into my teenaged years while reading it. Another thing I loved is the bookish theme and it also reinforces my thoughts on fate and that dreams can come true if you dare to believe and act on it. I wish I could go on and on but at this moment I was simply dumbstruck by the beauty of this story. Another thing is, though this is a collaboration work between Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, it feels as if it is written by one author because it flows smoothly; Cohn and Levithan's prose and writing style really complement one another and that further makes this book a lovely read. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares is their third collaboration work.

My husband got this cake with compliments from the company he works for (each employee got one of those along with a fruits basket, I'm so jealous, ha.) Sorry for the poor quality as I took this from my mobile phone.

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.
  • 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 have just finished reading Rachel Cohn & David Levithan's Dash & Lily's Book of Dares. Since this book is so good and that I haven't made up my mind what book to read next, I decided to share two passages instead of one for this week's Teaser Tuesdays.

I could have sat next to you on the subway, or brushed beside you as we went through the turnstiles. But whether or not you are here, you are here - because these words are for you, and they wouldn't exist if you weren't here in some way.
(Pg 95)

* * * * * * * *

Snarl must have had me under some kind of spell because sneaking out in the middle of the night, on Christmas night no less, to a dive club on the Lower East Side was about the last dare that pre-notebook Lily ever would have taken on. But somehow, knowing the Moleskine was tucked away in my bag, containing our thoughts and clues, our imprints to each other, somehow that made me feel safe, like I could have this adventure and not get lost and not call my brother to save me.
(Pg 110)

Well the weekend had just passed us just like that! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Our Christmas was spent at the Jurong Bird Park. Actually we had wanted to visit the previous week, but it rained so we postponed our trip. So here are just a few pictures we took... Happy viewing!

Main entrance of Jurong Bird Park

Don't you love these little guys?

The King Penguins. Can you also see one swimming in the water?

These flamingos made a spectacular sight!

Assorted colourful parrots.

Watch some various birds performing at the Pools Amphitheatre.


My husband captured this little fellow hopping around while he was taking some pictures. I love its pose... so adorable!

Another eye-catching scene.

Pelicans. They remind me of some scenes from Finding Nemo.

Eagles always look fierce and dominant no matter how they pose.

Well I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead! Can't believe this week is already the last week of 2010! I hope to finish reading David Levithan and Rachel Cohn's Dash & Lily's Book of Dares so I can add it onto my 2010 reading list. And then, there would be my 'Best Of' list which I would be posting in a few days' time.

I don't have the habit of setting New Year Resolutions since life can be so unpredictable but I'm hoping that next year will be another great reading year for me. And it would also be a year dedicating to my TBR pile since they are always growing and I need to make a dent out of those before they got out of control! (More bookshelves, please!)

Happy reading everyone! I'm off to read some more from Dash & Lily's Book of Dares; it gets better the more I flip through those pages!


merry Christmas tree glitter Pictures, Images and Photos

It's Christmas tomorrow and since I won't be blogging then, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Holidays, and may your holiday season be blessed with peace, love and joy!

Merry Christmas!

ISBN-13: 9780425238608
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Published: January 2011
384 pgs
Source: Publicist

At first glance of the title (and the cover), Beautiful Disaster looks like a suspense but it is actually a story about love lost and found.

Mia Montgomery's dreams is to be a successful interior designer; not any interior designer but one who focus on holistic design and to promote an eco-friendly concept in her work. She takes pride in her work, and she thinks she is getting there when she received a telephone call from a doctor friend, Roxanne, that Peyton Flynn McDermott is in the ICU due to an automobile accident and he is in a coma.

Memories of the past began to creep up on her, after all Flynn is her ex-lover and she thought that she would never hear from him after all this time. He has walked out of her life twelve years ago but that does not make Mia stop thinking about him over the years. Mia knew Flynn when she was just a design student at the University of Georgia then. Flynn was the one who took notice of her initially, but he didn't think they belong to the same league anyway since he has a dark secret past while Mia looks like she doesn't belong to anything in his world. But then fate seems to be in their way as they later met each other in a pub, and Mia strike up a conversation with him both out of curiosity as well as a bet which she had with Roxanne, in which she was sure that she would get this mysterious stranger to buy her a beer, which he did.

However, Roxanne isn't pleased with the idea that Mia is getting too close with Flynn. On top of that, there is a serial killer on the run and with Flynn's mysterious background she tries all means to stop Mia from being with him. On the other end, Flynn does live dangerously in the past, but he has reasons and to avoid spoiling anything I would not disclose much about his character. Instead I could only tell you that there is a lot of sexual intense between Mia and Flynn, and that you would be enticed with Spinella's prose as she weaves this story between the present and the past.

Characters wise, I think Laura Spinella has done a great job in portraying Mia, Flynn, and Roxanne as well. I think readers would be able to connect with them through Spinella's detailed descriptions of them. However, though I think the characterisations are great, I have to admit that Roxanne's attitude is a little off putting from the way she fussed over Mia's love life but from another perspective, I think she is simply concerned about Mia, that's all. Mia, on the other hand, is a true romantic who totally believes in love and herself.

Beautiful Disaster may have a slight suspense tone, but at its core it is about the power of love and second chance. And oh, did I mention that there is a Southern setting to this story? Well because I absolutely love reading fictions that have a Southern setting. This book is Laura Spinella's debut and I can't wait to find out what she has in store next.

(Many thanks to Erin Galloway for sending this book to me for review!)

Some of the pictures I took while shopping around; I took them via my mobile phone so that explains the poor quality. I especially loved the last picture that shows the Christmas trees with various colours of teddy bears.

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.
  • 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!

"Yeah, a beer," he said, rubbing a hand over his bearded chin. "It's hot. I was thirsty. Thought maybe you'd like to join me..."

"You? You want me to have a beer with you?" she repeated, her hand darting back and forth between the two of them in a nervous fit.

(Pg 14, Beautiful Disaster by Laura Spinella)

•Tillykke med fodselsdagen! (Danish)
Happy Birthday! (English)
•Bonne Fete! (French)
•Haerzliche Glueckwuensche zum Geburtstag! (German)
•Hau`oli la hanau! (Hawaiian)
•Buon Compleanno! (Italian)
•생일축하합니다 (Korean)
•Fortuna dies natalis! (Latin)
•生日快乐! (Mandarin)
•Gratulerer med dagen! (Norwegian)
•Parabens! (Portuguese)
•Feliz Cumpleanos! (Spanish)
•Chuc Mung Sinh Nhat! (Vietnamese)

Today is my birthday; I can't believe it is another year again. How time flies!

I celebrated my birthday with my family during the weekend, so today will be like any other ordinary day to me since it is a working day for me (there is an important meeting in the office today and my superior wanted me to be around, which is fine with me).

Well I hope everyone has a great day today! Just another four more days to go and it'd be Christmas!

This year, I have participated in a few reading challenges and I am ashamed to say I have completed only one or two challenges so far. As much as I love reading challenges, I am afraid that next year will be a year for my TBR pile. I need to get through those before they get way out of hand (which I am sure many of you would be able to relate to, right? Anyway, I'm giving up on the remaining challenges I signed up for this year since there is no way I am able to complete them at this point... sigh.) Still, that doesn’t mean that I won’t be participating in any reading challenges so here’s a few which I am participating in 2011:

2011 YA Reading Challenge (January 1st – December 31st)
I chose Option “Mini YA” where I need to read 12 YA novels. There is no need for a list so my choice will depend on my mood then.

2011 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge (January 1st – December 31st)
I chose “Level 1” where I need to read 5 books from the 2010 Book Blogger Recommendation List. My choice is as follows:

1) Juliet by Anne Fortier
2) Room by Emma Donaghue
3) Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
4) Personal Demons - Lisa Desrochers
5) Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

The TBR Dare (January 1st – April 1st)
Of course I wouldn't want to turn this down, after all this is another good excuse for me to clear those piles away. For this, I pledge to read as many books from my TBR pile till the last day of the dare.

What about you? Which 2011 reading challenges are you participating?


Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia from The Printed Page where readers get to share the books that came into their house last week; this month the host for Mailbox Monday is Jenny Q of Let Them Read Books.

Here's what I received last week:

1) Beautiful Disaster by Laura Spinella (from the publicist)

2) The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney (from the publicist)

What books came into your house last week?

Here's a list of the books that I read in 2010:

1. Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto
2. Mia the Magnificent by Eileen Boggess (review copy)
3. The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa
4. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
5. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (Graphic Novel)
6. Dying Scream by Mary Burton (review copy)

7. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
8. Blankets by Craig Thompson
9. Burn by Ted Dekker & Erin Healy (review copy)
10. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

11. Admit One: My Life in Film by Emmett James (review copy)
12. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
13. All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab
14. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
15. The Worst of Me by Kate Le Vann

16. Strobe Edge #7 by Io Sakisaka (Manga)
17. Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
18. Read, Remember, Recommend by Rachelle Rogers Knight (review copy)
19. Midori by Moonlight by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga
20. Magnolia Wednesdays by Wendy Wax (review copy)
21. A Law of Attraction Book for Children: The S.T.A.R. Powered Twins by Dorothy A. Lecours (review copy)
22. Heartbreak River by Tricia Mills
23. Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa
24. Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

25. The Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin
26. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
27. On Folly Beach by Karen White (review copy)
28. Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

29. Eric by Shaun Tan
30. Hate List by Jennifer Brown
31. Half World by Hiromi Goto
32. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
33. Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
34. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
35. Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick
36. Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
37. And Both Were Young by Madeleine L'Engle
38. Faithful Place by Tana French

39. The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
40 & 41. Stepping On Roses Vol. 1 & 2 by Rinko Ueda (Manga)
42. Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss
43. You're the One That I Don't Want by Alexandra Potter

44. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
45. A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
46. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
47. Everlasting by Angie Frazier
48. 爱の真实 - 单飞雪著
49. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

50. Sleepless by Cyn Balog
51. Gone by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson
52. Stepping On Roses Vol. 3 by Rinko Ueda (Manga)
53. 我的爱如此麻辣 - 张小娴
54. The Big Ten of Grammar: Identifying and Fixing the Ten Most Frequent Grammatical Errors by William B. Bradshaw (review copy)

55. Killing Floor by Lee Child
56. Bobo's Daughter by Bonnie Barnett (review copy)
57. Forget You by Jennifer Echols
58. 告白〔漫画版〕- 湊佳苗 Confession by Kanae Minato (Manga)
59. The Patterns of Paper Monsters by Emma Rathbone
60. Falling Home by Karen White (review copy)

61. For the Love of Strangers by Jacqueline Horsfall (review copy)
62. The Art of Disappearing by Ivy Pochoda
63. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
64. Adventures of Rusty and Ginger Fox by Tim Ostermeyer (review copy)
65. Ruthless by Anne Stuart

66. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
67. Not That Kind Of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
68 & 69. Stepping On Roses Vol. 4 & 5 by Rinko Ueda (Manga)
70. Girl, Stolen by April Henry
71. Beautiful Disaster by Laura Spinella (review copy)
72. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
73. 续杯爱 - 橙诺
ISBN-13: 9780805090055
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Published: September 2010
224 pgs
Source: Personal Library

Please let me go. I won't tell.

I am sure many of you may have read about a kidnapping story in one time or another, but have you ever read about the victim who is blind? I haven't, and that is why I find Girl, Stolen is so refreshing. Reading Girl, Stolen reminds me a little of a great story I read in June 2009; that title is Stolen by Lucy Christopher (one of my favourite (and best) reads for last year!). Stolen is about the journey and the relationship between a kidnapped girl and her captor as they travel along the Australian outback. It is a very character-driven story, filled with lots of emotional intense than anything. There is also something very disturbing about the story having the victim sympathised and feeling for the captor towards the end, but yet you couldn't help reading it. Lucy Christopher's prose and style is that wonderful!

Anyway, I have seen some reviews comparing this with Stolen and I can totally understand why as both have the same kidnapping theme, but what makes this story stood out is the heroine is a blind girl who have to rely on her cane or her guide dog through her daily life. Cheyenne Wilder is kidnapped while waiting in the backseat of her stepmother's car. Actually her kidnapper, a boy named Griffin didn't mean to kidnap her in the first place; he saw the car keys dangling in the ignition and decided to steal the car away, not stopping to check if there is anyone in the car. He is thinking that his stealing a Cadillac Escalade would make his father very happy, after all his father too steal cars and they would sell the car parts or replace the VIN numbers before selling off the vehicles again. Unfortunately he did not know of the complexity and the consequences about stealing a girl with the car too, and before he realised his mistake it was all too late.

Having no choice, he turns Cheyenne to his father once they are back into his house. Afterwards when Roy, Griffin's father learnt that Cheyenne is the daughter of Nike president, he decided to hold her captive and demand for a ransom. Before this happened, the relationship between Griffin and his father has never been good, but Griffin tolerate his father's hurling insults and abusive behaviour since his mother walked out of his life when he was young. He has no one to turn to, and he has no choice, so to speak. And after Cheyenne steps into his family and into his life, his attitude towards his stinking life has somewhat changed after witnessing her determination and courage to escape from their grasp. In the end, he decided to become her protector and accomplice for her escape. But of course I am not going to tell you anything beyond that, so let's just say this has been an intense reading experience for me.

Now that I have read Girl, Stolen, I felt that the plot and the style is very different from Stolen, despite that they share the same theme - kidnapping. Both of the emotional intense are wonderfully built, but their approach (direction) is different. Also, I find the thrill of this story is focused more on the escape than the relationship between the captor and the captive, while Stolen is leaning more towards the latter. Both are compelling read with a different reading experience, thus I cannot say which is better but if you are going for the thrill and suspense, Girl, Stolen will be it.

A collage of some Christmas cakes we had over the last three years.


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.
  • 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!

The only thing that might save her life was the fact that she couldn't describe what he looked like.

But if Cheyenne couldn't see, how could she escape?

(Pg 15, Girl, Stolen by April Henry)

ISBN-13: 9780545169158
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Published: September 2010
336 pgs
Source: Personal Library

I have to admit that this book didn't really catch my attention at the beginning; I think it has got something to do with the cover or probably the title but nevertheless I picked it up after reading a few reviews from other bookbloggers and you know what, I am glad that I did that! I really, really enjoyed reading this book!

Natalie Sterling takes her studies seriously. She is the kind of girl whom I think every teacher would like in a student. In short, she is sensible, responsible and she knows what she wants for herself. She has dreams, and at this point she badly wants to be Student Council President and she would perform her best to get this position. After all, she is sitting for her SAT and she wants to get into the best college. However, the competition isn't easy when you have a handsome football player who knows how to play dirty and one who has many supporters behind him.

But Natalie is not going to give up. With the help of her best friend, Autumn, they try every means to get all the votes they want. The friendship between Natalie and Autumn has come a long way, ever since Natalie has backed Autumn up after an embarrassing moment with a boy she hooked up with awhile back. That incident has changed Autumn's life forever, and due to this Natalie has further make it a point not to get involved with boys and love.

However, Natalie's life gets complicated after that a freshman girl whom she used to babysit goes to the same school as her, and Natalie is most mortified by Spencer's outspoken and outrageous behaviour that sometimes get herself into trouble. Well you see, Spencer believes that sexiness empowers girls and she feels that they should make full good use of it to get what they want. Natalie, on the other hand, feels that they could be liberated feminists through other methods that are not involving sex and sexiness. But then some things happened when you least expected it and soon Natalie finds herself caring for Connor Hughes, another football player and a friend of her rival more than she knows. Has she beginning to lose respect for herself, or is she just simply following her heart?

Not That Kind Of Girl is a compelling read about friendship, love, choices and well, girl power. I just loved the themes of this story; it is so honest and the characters felt so real to me. Natalie may come across as a girl who knows it all from the beginning, but that's what make her stand out in this story. I liked her postitive attitude, and she has that girl power attribute in her which will make any girl agree with her resolutions.

As you can guess from the plot, Natalie definitely has some tough decisions to make towards the end. And what makes this book such a worthwhile read is reading about Natalie's experience and what or how she deals with it in the end. In my opinion this is not just a YA romance but is also a book that makes you think about your choices in life and be ready to face the world no matter what choices you have made.

I'd be sure to check out the other books by this author.

Have you read anything by Mary Burton? She writes romantic suspense and I am glad to hear from her publicist that her upcoming releases, Senseless and Merciless will be released in January and February 2011 respectively.

And that's not all, Mary Burton is happy to share her annual holiday recipe, "Old Town Holiday Cookies" with her readers. Her recipe is inspired by her two upcoming releases, both set in and around Alexandria, VA, including the city's famous Old Town section.

Old Town Holiday Cookies

2 sticks of butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups of All Purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups corn flakes
1 cup chocolate chips
White Chocolate

- Heat oven to 350 degrees.

- Cream softened butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar.

- Mix in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Slowly blend dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture.

- Fold in corn flakes and chocolate chips. Drop rounded tablespoons onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. When cooled, drizzle with melted white chocolate.

Happy Holidays!

The first time I'd seen the trailer of Rapunzel: A Tangled Tale, I knew I wanted to watch it. Plus, my daughter and I are big fans of Walt Disney animations so of course we wouldn't miss want to miss it. So we went to watch this movie last evening after shopping around for almost the whole day. Well I am currently clearing my annual leave so I took this opportunity to spend some time with my daughter.

So, Rapunzel tells the story of a girl with her 70 feet of magical, golden hair and her wish to see and experience the outside world while she is being locked away in a tall tower by her "mother". Rapunzel is originally a princess but she was stolen by an elderly woman named Gothel when she was a baby as she knew Rapunzel's golden hair could keep her looking young. There is a little story behind how Rapunzel got her magical hair and that leaves us the audience entranced in the beginning of the movie.

The adventure begins when bandit Flynn Rider flees from the pursuit of his twin thugs as well as the King's guards after they have stolen a diamond tiara of the missing princess from the castle. During the escape, Flynn finds Rapunzel's tower and hide himself in there. But his relief comes short as he soon finds himself being held captive by Rapunzel's long hair. Rapunzel has always longed for some freedom and she strike a bargain with Flynn, telling him that she would return the tiara if he brings her out to see the world as well as the annual floating lights which she always see on the day of her birthday. This escapade gives them the chance to get to know each other better, but danger is around the corner and at what price do they have to pay to get the freedom they wanted so much? Would they be able to escape from their pursuer's grasp?

Well I absolutely loved everything about this animation! I loved the premise, the characterisations, and most of all I am captivated by the songs sang by Mandy Moore, who also lends her voice for Rapunzel's role. Secondary characters like Pascal (Rapunzel's pet chameleon) and Maximus (the lead guard's horse, who at times behaves like a guard dog) add some humour and lively moments to the story and I liked these characters as much as I liked Rapunzel and Flynn. Aside from the fun and excitement, there are also some touching moments towards the end of the movie and it made me a little teary-eyed. I gave this animation a 5-star rating because I enjoyed it so very much! (Needless to say, my daughter loved it too.) I know I will be buying the soundtrack (I couldn't find it when I went to search for it immediately after watching the movie) and the DVD when it releases. You know, I wouldn't mind watching this in the cinema again.
Christmas decorations at Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Singapore
ISBN-13: 9780385722438
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Published: September 2002
224 pgs
Source: Personal Library

Have you ever wondered what our life would be if we are forbidden to use certain alphabets? How would you communicate if those alphabets are omitted? By using sign language, or would you simply give up communicating?

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters covers such themes and I have to say it is one of the most extraordinary epistolary novels I read thus far. In an island of Nollop, Nevin Nollop is the creator of the well-known pangram “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” thus having the island to be named under him. Due to this reason, the government and the people have great respect in Nevin Nollop and this sentence is preserved on a memorial to its creator on that island. One day, an alphabet “Z” falls from the inscription beneath the statue and thinking that this is some sort of a message passed down by the great late Nevin Nollop, the government bans this alphabet in all written and spoken forms. In highlighting the seriousness of the matter, they implement a penalty system in which whoever used the forbidden letter would be given a warning for the first offense, and banishment from the island for the third (and final) offense.

As more alphabets began to fall off from the inscription, the people in Nollop began to find it a challenge and in the end, they are either being banished or being forced to leave the island of their own accord. Ella Minnow Pea is the lead character of this novel, and through her letters to her family and friends we see her determination and persistance as she chose to remain in Nollop and finally to do something about it.

I have to say I absolutely loved the premise of this novel. It is so, so very clever and imaginative! I liked Ella; she is such a great character (not to mention that she is also a very brave and an intelligent girl). There are times I giggled and then sympathised with the characters as their letters seem to take on a silly note when more alphabets are being omitted, but jokes aside I can totally understand their frustrations and how tough it would be to come up with a complete sentence without having your intentions misinterpret! I don’t know about you, but I think I would now appreciate the alphabets more after reading this lovely novel.

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.
  • 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!

After Chad Rivington, Autumn never had another boyfriend. It saved her from a lot of needless heartbreak. And me, well, the whole thing just let me be a good best friend. Which was all I'd wanted to do in the first place.

(Pg 37, Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian)

Strawberry Shortcake has been one of my favourite cartoon characters when I was a little girl, despite that Strawberry Shortcake and her friends had revamps over the years as each got a makeover with a complete new looks, clothes and style.

Anyway, when I knew that Strawberry Shortcake and her friend will be performing in one of our neighbourhood shopping malls as part of their holiday season celebrations, I was exhilarated and felt like an eight-year-old girl all over again. And what makes me happy is that my seven-year-old daughter likes this character too so the more I should go watch their performance, isn’t it?

I was lucky that I was able to get into the line so that we would have the chance to take a picture with these characters after their performance. The event was so much fun as it was filled with great music and loads of interactions between the performers and the children. Though it was only a 20-minute show, still I was glad to be there and that I had a wonderful time with my daughter as well as with the other children (their shouts of joy was simply contagious!).

Reading-wise, I had just finished reading Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn on my way to work this morning. What can I say? It was a delightful read and the premise is so, so clever! I hope to have the review up this week.

I can’t believe that it is already December and that Christmas is approaching. Have you done your Christmas shopping already? I have not; I am such a slacker but then again, there have been a lot of things on my plate lately (I suppose this is a valid excuse, no?).

Well, I hope you all have a great week!

ISBN-13: 9781608870080
Publisher: Palace Publishing Group
Published: November 2010
12 pgs
Source: Personal Library

I don't usually buy books that exceed S$30 (let alone a S$62+ book; USD34.95) but I find myself digging into my purse for this pop-up book after I had first seen it in the bookstore and fallen in love with it. Although I have not read the entire Harry Potter series, but I do follow every movie when it releases and I thought the latest instalment was very well done. (I can't wait to watch the last part but then again I don't want this series to end too!)

Based on the development of the films, this pop-up book is a must-have for all Harry Potter fans. It features a few main settings of the films in a 3D view when you flip through the pages (e.g. Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Castle, the Triwizard Tournament etc). Another thing I liked best is it also contains minibooklets (some posters are included inside these booklets which I think are awesome! E.g. Harry Potter Wanted poster featured from The Deathly Hallows: Part 1) which offer depictions and insights of some scenes from the films. I wish I could elaborate more on this wonderful book but as you already know, it is always best to read it and experience it yourself. That said, I attached two pictures I downloaded from B&N so you would be able to view the remarkable artworks as I mentioned above.