Happy New Year!

Here's wishing you a Happy 2012 filled with peace, prosperity and happiness and of course, with lots of good books!!
We have come to the end of the year, how many books have you read this year, my dear readers? If I have to compare my this year's reading to the past and that if there is a grade to measure our reading, I would most definitely get a big 'F' since I have only read 28 books this year (not counting on the book which I'm currently reading). I know, I know, reading is supposed to be fun and we shouldn't measure it by quantity, but I just couldn't help it when I was looking at my past years' reading records and noted the difference.

Anyways, my purpose of this post is not about comparing figures but to share with you what I had read over the past months as well as to share with you which books have made it to my top reads this year. In the past few years, I had named my top reads for each genre but however, this year I couldn't do the same considering the choice is limited; plus it won't be fun and challenging in comparing if the number is small, right?

Without further ado, here is a list of books I read in 2011 and the books that made it to my top reads list are highlighted in bold:

1) Haunting Jasmine by Anjali Banerjee
2) Stay by Deb Caletti
4) The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney (DNF)
5) You Against Me by Jenny Downham
6) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
7) Dreaming in English by Laura Fitzgerald
8) Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (Non-fiction)
9) Gone by Mo Hayder
10) Falling Under by Gwen Hayes
11) Veil of Night by Linda Howard
12) Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James
13) Blood on the Moon by Jennifer Knight
14) Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
15) Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
16) Spinning Tropics by Aska Mochizuki
17) In The Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami
18) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
19) A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
20) Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler
21) Shadow of a Quarter Moon by Eileen Clymer Schwab
22) The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
23) Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
24) Orchards by Holly Thompson
25) Mermaid: A Twist on a Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon
26) Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy
27) The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto
28) The Doll: Short Stories by Daphne du Maurier

So what are your top reads this year?
We went to Universal Studios yesterday. Actually it was the second time we went there and since it was the first time for my youngest sister-in-law and her husband to visit, plus there is a new ride which was opened on 3 December - Transformers: The Ride in 3D Battle, so off we go!

I didn't take many pictures yesterday, since most of the attractions I had already taken during my first visit (click here for Part 1 and 2) but I did take a few pictures while queueing for the Transformers ride. The queue was horrible; we waited for almost 2 hours but well, it was well worth it. We decided to go for another round, which was their last ride coming to 9pm.

Couldn't resist buying this water bottle (and don't even ask about the price!).

We also took a ride at the Battlestar Galactica: Human vs. Cylon. There are two coasters which you can choose from: Human (red) or Cylon (blue). We didn't get to ride on these roller coasters the first time we visited since it wasn't ready then. And after riding on both coasters yesterday, I have to say the cylon was the most thrilling as it is a suspended coaster that runs through a vertical loop, corkscrew and cobra roll. The human coaster ride is more of a seated coaster that propels riders 14 storeys into the air.

Needless to say, I enjoyed the trip but I was dead tired when I woke up this morning for work. I felt like a zombie . . . but fortunately my superior is on leave this week so at least I am able to breathe . . . a little? Ah!

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!

She was now staring at him, her eyes now locked to his. As if in a trance, she pushed up her sleeve. There on her forearm, next to a small brown birthmark, were six tattooed numbers.

"Do you remember me now?" he asked, trembling.

(Pg 4, The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman)


Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. This month's Mailbox Monday is hosted by Let Them Read Books.

Here's what I bought and received from The Book Depository:

1) Don't Look Now: Selected Stories by Daphne du Maurier

2) The Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White

What books came into your house last week?

Merry, Merry Christmas! Here's wishing you a peaceful and joyful Christmas and that it is filled with lots of books!!
ISBN-13: 9780062080349
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: November 2011
Format: Paperback, 224 pgs
Source: Personal Library

After reading Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and loving it, I decided to read The Doll, a compilation of short stories she had written during the early 1930s. I understand that many of the short stories in this collection were published in periodicals way back then and it is only at this time that they have found their way into print.

While reading The Doll: Short Stories, I couldn't help comparing this to Rebecca as the latter had left quite a deep impression on me. I don't think I'd ever forget the narrator's tone, or the creepy housekeeper, Mrs Danvers. With that in mind, I started reading The Doll with great anticipation. I have also read from other reviews that this collection is much darker and this has further raised up my hope a little.

The first story, East Wind, tells a dark story of once a peaceful, isolated island and how the residents' mind are influenced and brainwashed after the arrival of a ship outside their quiet world. This story left me speechless because I hadn't expected the cruelty towards the end. Nevertheless, this story reflects the frailties of human nature and the tragedy that comes with it.

Follow up next is the main story of its book title - The Doll. Thinking this story might be a talking doll or whatever, I awaited the horror to come with it but instead of the smug satisfaction which I had initially expected, I was blown away by the twist and how dark it can be when one is being obsessed.

However, this compilation is not all about darkness and madness, as The Happy Valley tells a story of one woman's strange dream and coincidence (or is it fate?). Another tale, Frustration, definitely left me feeling frustrated not because the story didn't engage me but on the contrary, it made me felt sorry for the couple who had made much efforts being together but well, misfortune and fate just got into their way. Tame Cat is another story that left an impression on me as it tells a story of a mother and her daughter who both share the same affection for the same man.

As for the rest of the stories, they showcase the various of relationships and how one reacted due to obsession, jealousy, unhappiness etc etc. Each of these tales explore the frailties of human nature and though I have to confess they aren't joyful tales, they reflect the emotions and how one would think and react under the circumstances.

These tales may not be as good or polished as compared to Rebecca, but I enjoy reading Daphne du Maurier's writing style and the dark, brooding atmosphere she created in most of her works. Now I can't wait to read Jamaica Inn and My Cousin Rachel, which I heard they are equally good as Rebecca.
OK, so I was a day late for 'Wordless Wednesday', but it is always better to be late than never, huh?

It was my birthday yesterday, and I want to thank all my friends for the lovely birthday wishes you had left on my Facebook! Seriously, you have no idea how much they mean to me. I was smiling the whole time when I viewed your messages on my wall post. Thank you, thank you!! For some reason, the picture I posted of my birthday cake didn't show clearly on my Facebook status, so here it is again.

I saw the models of Doraemon and friends when I was doing grocery shopping at Sembawang Shopping Centre last week. They even had a brief stage performance which made the children very happy.

Alvin and the Chipmunks! We watched the latest sequel and it was great! This time around, they were on board on a cruise and due to Alvin's mischief (once again), they got stranded on an island and oh, what an adventure!

I saw this at the counter where they are selling popcorn and before you think it is just a paper model, I have to tell you that this is a real mail box in which you can send your letter to Santa Claus in North Pole! Needless to say, Santa must be very, very busy during this period every year!

The shopping crowd at Causeway Point Shopping Mall.

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!

You have made of me a madman. You fill me with a kind of horror, a devastating hate that is akin to love - a hunger that is nausea. If only I could be calm and clear for one moment - one moment only . . .

(Pg 15, The Doll: Short Stories by Daphne du Maurier)

ISBN-13: 9780380778553
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: November 1994
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 384 pgs
Source: Personal Library

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

From its opening line, I knew Daphne du Maurier would take me for an intriguing and exciting ride with the atmospheric setting she created around Manderley, an isolated mansion on the windswept Cornish coast where the brooding hero, Mr Maxim de Winter, resides.

The narrator, a young lady whose name we never know, gets acquainted with Mr de Winter when she is a companion to Mrs Van Hooper. Shy and with no friends to mingle with, the narrator is glad to find a friend in Mr de Winter and then they got married shortly.

During their acquaintance, the narrator has heard of the late Mrs de Winter and the cause of her death and while she could accept the fact being Maxim's second wife, what she couldn't stand is Mrs Danvers' cool and demeaning attitude towards her. Mrs Danvers is the housekeeper and she is fiercely devoted to the first Mrs de Winter, Rebecca. She feels the narrator is not up to par in all ways and although she still takes instructions from the narrator, she does it simply because it is her duty and not that she has accepted her being the new mistress of Manderley. Then, things began to worsen when she began to taunt the narrator until the latter began to start thinking that Maxim still love and think of Rebecca after all this time.

But, the real climax lies in the event of Manderley's annual costume ball and the mystery surrounding Rebecca's death and why. While the issues and mystery surrounding this classic literary may seem mild to some readers as compared to today's mystery and thrillers in which there are gory death scenes all over the place, what really makes Rebecca stands out among the others is Daphne du Maurier's writing style, the characterisations and most of all, the atmospheric setting she created that will get you hooked from the beginning till the end.

What is most unforgettable about Rebecca is the character of Mrs Danvers and the narrator respectively. Mrs Danvers always gave me the chills through her cool and sinister demeanour and very often her existence reminds me of a bitter, wandering spirit waiting for her moment to strike. On the other end, the narrator lacks the confidence and wit and although she tries very hard to keep up the role as the new mistress of Manderley, Mrs Danvers always managed to squash her last bit of confidence.

I really liked the way how Daphne du Maurier crafted Rebecca as she cleverly leads you into her world of Manderley and how the story slowly unfolds as you keep flipping through the pages. I especially liked her first opening line and the last line; I think it works perfectly and really suits the narrative style. Because I enjoyed reading Rebecca and Daphne du Maurier's writing style so much, I had gone out to buy four more of her books: Jamaica Inn, Frenchman's Creek, Don't Look Now and Other Stories, as well as the book which I'm currently reading, The Doll: The Lost Short Stories, a collection of short stories which she penned prior to writing Rebecca. I am sure I would be in for another intriguing and exciting ride, or perhaps the experience would be much greater considering that this short stories collection is much darker, so I have heard.
Starting this week, I will be posting pictures which I randomly took with my iPhone and today's post is all about Christmas trees. Well I haven't been to many malls but here are just a few I took recently.

Ngee Ann City
Cineleisure Orchard
Suntec City Mall
My office reception
*sniff* This post shall be the last for my TX and MN series. Although my husband didn't have the time to visit all the lovely places in these two states (after all he was there for his business trip), still he had had a wonderful time exploring these places. He may have the chance to visit there again, I don't know, but I'm keeping fingers crossed that the next time around I'd be following him, if circumstances permit, that is.

I have no idea what pictures to post next for the Wordless Wednesday meme, perhaps I should go back to posting random pictures I took from my iPhone. Yeah!


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 read a lot of rave reviews on Daphne du Maurier's books, in particularly to Jamaica Inn and this book I just started reading yesterday, Rebecca. Though I'm only on page 38, I could already feel the intrigue and the story slowly unfolding as the narrator related her tale about meeting Max de Winter, the man who owns Manderley, an isolated gray stone mane on the windswept Cornish coast. They said he couldn't get over his wife's death, and the narrator is about to find out the truth behind it.


Rather forlorn, more than a little dissatisfied, I leant back in my chair and took up the book of poems. The volume was well-worn, well-thumbed, falling open automatically at what must be a much-frequented page.

"I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed slopes I sped
And shot, precipitated
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong feet that followed, followed after."

I felt rather like someone peering through the keyhole of a locked door, and a little furtively I laid the book aside. What hound of heaven had driven him to the high hills this afternoon?

(Pg 32, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier)

ISBN-13: 9780345506900
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: June 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 400 pgs
Source: Personal Library

It has been a long while since I read a romance suspense novel; I picked Linda Howard's Veil of Night because I enjoyed reading Linda's previous novels, plus the heroine in this story is a wedding planner and I was interested to know more about the profession through the story.

Jaclyn Wilde loves her job and she put in all her time and efforts in running her own events business, Premier. Together with her mother, they had built up Premier's name through their detailed and well organised planning and although their work is not entirely a bed of roses, Jaclyn and Madelyn always see through everything no matter how difficult the clients and/or the tasks at hand.

However, Carrie Edwards, her latest client has ways of irritating her and making things difficult not only to her and to the other vendors as well. She would decide to change the colour of the bridesmaids' wedding dresses at the last minute, or criticise that the food is not up to her taste and status, blah blah blah. As much as she is annoying and demanding, many people figured it wouldn't do them any good should they want to make a huge fuss over her unreasonable tantrums, considering that she is marrying the son of a senator.

Just as Jaclyn is trying to get over another one of Carrie's unreasonable demands and the slap she had given her, she is shocked to learn that Carrie was murdered after they had arranged to meet up to discuss more of the wedding details, together with the other vendors as well. Now everyone that is present during that meeting became a suspect and it doesn't put Jaclyn in a favourable spot as she had forgotten and left her briefcase where the crime scene is.

Detective Eric Wilder is assigned to the case, but he is in an awkward situation since he had had one passionate night with Jaclyn and although he is professional enough to not let his personal life mingle with his job, it bugs him as that means he has to lay his hands off of her and on top of that, Jaclyn is giving him a cold shoulder. Jaclyn knew he is doing his job, but she couldn't help feeling hurt and offended when Eric starts to question her.

What Jaclyn and Eric didn't know is while they are trying to sort out their situations the murderer has moved on to the next unaware target - Jaclyn.

I enjoyed reading Veil of Night and I think Jaclyn and Eric are both very likeable characters. While I think their chemistry and their exchanges are entertaining and add some spice to the story, however on the suspense front it lacks the punch. The whodunnit effect wasn't as great as what I had anticipated; I supposed I wanted a list of suspects for me to guess and to see if my hunch is correct. The real action only began towards the last quarter of the book and while I think there is nothing wrong with this approach, I have to say it somewhat took some of my patience away but suffice to say that the attraction between Jaclyn and Eric is enough to keep me occupied.

I have Linda Howard's latest release, Prey, in my TBR pile and I hope that it would be better on the suspense front.
Stillwater, Minnesota

I am sure many of you must have known the storyline and what happened in The Twilight Saga, thus I am not going to brief on the premise and instead share with you what I thought of the movie when we watched it a few days ago. Due to the school holidays, the cinema was quite packed but still Breaking Dawn: Part 1 would attract its fans everywhere no matter whatever the circumstances are.

Unlike the previous installments, Breaking Dawn: Part 1 covered more on the emotional than the action part as we see Bella and Edward got married and had their honeymoon at a beautiful exotic place in Brazil. There are many romantic scenes of the newlyweds being together and how Bella reacted in her new role as Edward's wife (and by the way, I loved her wedding dress!). In fact, I felt the first part of the movie was moving on quite slowly because it focus too much on the above.

The action (and drama) finally began in the second part where we see Bella having difficulty in her pregnancy stage and that her appearance and her overall health deteriorate. Bella looked frightening in her pregnancy stage as she always looked pale and haggard. Her body frame reminds me of those who are anorexic except that her protruding belly tells otherwise. And as for the birth scene, it wasn't horrendous as I had anticipated, but then considering that this movie is PG-13 I figured by showing traces of blood is suffice to tell the whole delivery process.

However, fret not if you think this movie is geared towards the sentimental as there is still a tad small of a fighting scene between the werewolves clan and also between the vampires and the werewolves as well. It is also interesting to see Jacob's struggle as he not only have to see his beloved Bella got married to his nemesis but also to stand by her throughout the overall series. Even if you don't belong to Team Jacob, you couldn't help but to feel sympathy with the poor guy who have sacrificed so much for the sake of seeing Bella's happiness.

So what did I think of this movie? It was pretty romantic (yep, I am still thinking of the place where Bella and Edward went for their honeymoon) and I am sure this installment would satisfy a lot of female audience (the wedding/honeymoon as well as the part where Jacob took off his shirt during the opening scene) but it also left me wonder what would be in store in the last part considering the big premise (the wedding and the delivery of the baby) were already shown in this first part. Of course there is the confrontation scene with the Volturi but other than that I couldn't think of anything major would happen. That said, I still look forward to Part 2 as it is a closure to this Saga.


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 meant to choose a thriller but after reading a few pages, I decided I wasn't really in the mood for it so I changed my mind. Since I haven't been reading romance suspense for a long while, Linda Howard's Veil of Night is it.


Her free arm slipped inside his open jacket and she grabbed a handful of shirt fabric, holding on for dear life. The side of her arm brushed against something very hard, and there was a very brief glimpse of leather before she made the startled identification of holster, followed by gun, then cop.

(Pg 3, Veil of Night by Linda Howard)

ISBN-13: 9780762441174
Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
Published: August 2011
Format: Paperback, 416pp
Source: Personal Library

Vampires. Werewolves. There are absolutely too many books on these mythical creatures out in the market and while I feel it is great to have a wide range to choose from, I don't want to feel like I am reading the same story over and over again thus I think I am pretty choosy when it comes to books that featured such themes.

I first stumbled upon Blood on the Moon on a blog (I couldn't remember who) and the blogger stated that she enjoyed reading it. Intrigued by her review and the blurb as well, I picked up the book and I was glad to say it didn't disappoint me.

Faith and Derek are best friends for years and it is no surprise that they enter into the same college. Derek has feelings towards Faith but she didn't want to accept his love considering that he has cheated on her once and she felt that she would feel more comfortable being friends.

Enter Lucas, a mysterious classmate who seem to have this strange yet dangerous vibe around him. He intrigues her, and needless to say they feel attracted towards each other. It turns out that he is a werewolf and his pack has this mission of eliminating the vampires whom they believe have murdered several girls around the campus.

To complicate matters and to heighten the climax, Lucas has to face his ex-good friend and namesis, Vincent, who is a vampire and they had this feud centuries ago. There is a little history about their feud so I am not going to elaborate on that here.

Faith vows to find out more about Lucas and the mystery surrounding the dead girls, but instead of finding answers she finds herself being caught in between the old feud between Lucas and Vincent. It is also up to her to save Derek's life as Vincent uses him as a pawn to lure Faith out so that he could use that advantage against Lucas, knowing that they have a thing for each other.

As mentioned before, I was glad that Blood on the Moon didn't disappoint me. Initially I was worried that it would bear some resemblance to the Twilight Saga, but after reading a few chapters I realised that my worry is superfluous. Although there is a romance drama (as expected), the heroine knows what she wants right from the beginning so this story is very much about the chemistry (and telepathy?) between Faith and Lucas, as well as the feud between Lucas and Vincent. Oh, there are also some intense moments about Derek being a pawn so all these add up to my reading pleasure.

As for the characterisations, I have to say they are well described but I regret to say that among all of the characters, only Lucas stood out from the rest in my opinion. Vincent makes a great villain, but his role is limited considering that there is a twist to the plot in which I wouldn't want to disclose it here. And as much as I liked Faith and think she is brave when confronting her personal demons, I think part of her weakness lies with Derek as she wouldn't want to end their friendship but yet she felt she couldn't trust him enough. A dilemma, indeed.

And, I don't even want to talk about the ending, which is totally a cliffhanger! I tried to google for the sequel title and its release date but couldn't seem to find it but I am hoping that the wait wouldn't be long!

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