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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"A Wrinkle in Time"

by Madeleine L'Engle, YA, 1993/1962, audio CD, 5hrs 17min, rating=3.5

Father is missing!  His top secret job as a physicist for the government has taken him away --but where? --and how?  Meg and her younger brother, Charles Wallace, set out with their friend Calvin on an exciting adventure through time and space to search for him.  With the help of the mysterious Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, the youngsters learn to expect the unexpected as they move in the fifth dimension known as the "tesseract." (cover)

This is a book that made it on the banned list based on references to witches and crystal balls and religious undertone.  I don't see the harm.  I actually saw this book as a lovely story of family love under a sci-fi vision.  A book that is smart, full of imagination, and hope building. 

The cast of characters were quite the variety .. humans, aliens, and immortal beings.  Each playing distinct roles that gave intrigue and flow to the story.  Each finding place in the adventure of good vs evil. 

A fanciful story of perseverance, courage, and kinship.  I wouldn't mind putting this book on my bookshelf.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Captain Underpants #3"

Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds) by Dav Pilkey, Captain Underpants #3, YR, 1999, 141p, rating=2.5

Well, George and Harold--surprise, surprise--are at it again. The cranky lunch ladies quit after George and Harold fool them into baking super-volcanic krispy kupcakes that flood the school with gigantic green globs o' goo. Mr. Krupp finds replacements and fast, but he unwittingly hires the tentacled alien trio of Zorx, Klax, and Jennifer in disguise! Will they turn everyone in school into evil zombie nerds? Can George and Harold save the world before it's too late? All seems lost until the diabolical Zorx snaps his... um, tentacles in front of Mr. Krupp, and the power of wedgies comes to the rescue once again. (Paul Hughes, Goodreads)

Another book series that my eight year old is into these days.  I got concerned when I saw it on the list of challenged books so I figured I'd give it a look.  Well, I didn't see anything disconcerting in this installment that would call for banning.  Granted Captain Underpants turned out to be the school principal under hypnosis that is running around town in his chonies or perhaps it's the mischievous antics of George and Harold that might be the concern.  But they're just zany characters that attracts kids.  Anyway, I personally don't see this as incredibly delightful but apparently entertaining to my son especially the Flip-O-Rama sections ("the world-famous cheesy animation technique that lets you animate the action!"). 

Overall, I don't see any imminent or permit damage by reading this book. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

"A Light in the Attic"

by Shel Silverstein, YR, 1981, 169p. rating=3

Here in the attic of Shel Silverstein you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo with an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with Broiled Face, find out what happens when Somebody steals your knees, get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, hear a Mountain snore, and see Them Put a Brassiere on the Camel.

From the creator of the beloved poetry collections Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up, here is another wondrous book of poems and drawings. (Goodreads)

Aiy, poems ... I'm trying! Well, in this collection of poems, I found several that were laugh out loud funny and many downright silly and off the wall.  Wow, quite an imagination Mr. Silverstein.  Certainly capturing the wonders of perception.  Perhaps too bazaar for me though.  I'm more for the safe kind of silliness, that of Dr. Seuss.

The things that I saw that might have gotten this on the banned/challenged list were the few illustrations of buttocks and chopped up body parts and frightful stories like that of the boy who cried many tears and drowned.  Potentially disturbing to very young eyes.

Overall, the poems were whimsical.  Unfortunately, I'm no poetic guru so there's probably tons that I missed between the lines.  That said, you might find this collection exceptional.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #42

The Lord chooses David of Bethlehem as king and this is want He said to Samuel in that respect:

"But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Ha ha, book-wise this can apply to how one might judge a book by its cover.  Similarly in matter of people ..what's inside a person is where one should look on.

Have a great week!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


by Roald Dahl, YR, 1988, 240p, rating=4

Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she's knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she's a super-nerd and the teacher's pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda's world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there's the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Mrs. ("The") Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge. (Goodreads)

It's hard not to love a little girl who is bright, a lover of books, and misunderstood.   This is Matilda.  A four year old that has parents who are content to live ignorantly and selfishly.  Instead of basking in praises and encouragements for their daughter's brightness, they dismiss her.  So this leaves Matilda to her own devices to advocate for her well being.  Her revengeful antics of course were childish because she is a child.  Not a good role model in that sense on how to solve problems but the pranks were honest pursuits to the situation. 

The parents weren't the only antagonists in this book.  The evil Mrs. Trunchbull was the principal from hell!  A character of exaggerated meanness to get the reader riled up.  I certainly was anxious to find out how Matilda and friends would get the best of her! 

Of course, Matilda did have some allies.  Her classmates warmed up to her and of course their teacher Miss Honey took an interest in Matilda.  Consequently in Miss Honey, Matilda found the bond that she should have gotten from her parents.  A great sweetness to the many bitter moments.

There are mean people in this world, no doubt about it.  And what was admirable about Matilda was that she wasn't going to be idle to the abuse.  She fought the best she could with the resources she had in order to prevail.  In the end, we learn that there is power in being smart and precocious.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Banned Books Week Hop

Welcome to my stop in this giveaway hop.  This topic is a touchy one for me.  I can understand the out cry of some people to censor a book in the name of indecency, so I'm not especially sure I wouldn't vote to challenge a book given the right situation.   I certainly would voice my concerns if highly sexual or violent books fall in the hands of my three young kids (<10yo) under school supervision for example.  But generally to politcally ban a book would not be my solution to the indifference.  As I understand it, books are not rated as in movies but categorized by age appropriateness.  So it would make sense for a parent to screen for books that are appropriate for their children's age and moral values.  Those that doesn't meet the criterias will just not make it in their children's hands or book shelves ..that's what I do. 

I've only read a few books that made it to the banned list.  Also, I recently reached a milestone ... 1,000 followers, so in appreciation I will feature 3 prizes, 3 winners, and make entering simple. :)

Prize #1 (U.S.):
Here's a couple of banned books I have on hand (used).  Both goes to winner.

Prize #2 (International):
  • Up to $10 towards a book(s) from The Book Depository

Prize #3 (U.S.):
  • $10 Amazon gift e-card

To enter:  you must be a GFC follower, >12yo, and fill out the form below. 

I thank the hostesses of this hop, I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and I Read Banned Books.  I also want to thank you for stopping by and a great big gratitute virtual hug to all my wonderful followers!! 

Now, head on over to the list of participating bloggers HERE

Happy Hopping and Reading!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Dreams of Joy"

by Lisa See, Shanghai Girls #2, AF, 2011, 354p, rating=4

Nineteen-year-old Joy Louie has run away from her home in 1950s America to start a new life in China. Idealistic and unafraid, she believes that Chairman Mao is on the side of the people, despite what her family keeps telling her. How can she trust them, when she has just learned that her parents have lied to her for her whole life, that her mother Pearl is really her aunt and that her real father is a famous artist who has been living in China all these years? Joy arrives in Green Dragon Village, where families live in crowded, windowless huts and eke out a meagre existence from the red soil. And where a handsome young comrade catches her eye...Meanwhile, Pearl returns to China to bring her daughter home - if she can. For Mao has launched his Great Leap Forward, and each passing season brings ever greater hardship to cities and rural communes alike. Joy must rely on her skill as a painter and Pearl must use her contacts from her decadent childhood in 1930s Shanghai to find a way to safety, and a chance of joy for them both. Haunting, passionate and heartbreakingly real, this is the unforgettable new novel by the internationally acclaimed Lisa See.  (Goodreads)

This sequel to Shanghai Girls did not disappoint!  I was captivated and taken back to Red China, thanks to Joy.  Remember Joy?  She's 19 years old now and just discovered that her aunt is actually her birth mother and the person she's been calling Mom is actually her aunt.  Full of guilt and idealism, she runs off to China to find her biological father and possibly a new home.  Of course, Pearl as a loving and concerned mother takes off after her.  What they find there is a communist China that leaves little room to escape.

The story telling was so vivid that I felt the hardships and got a glimpse of what it may have been like living in a socialist country at that time.  I don't like it!  I've been spoiled too much in this wonderful neck of the woods and enjoy the freedom it allows me.  Hence, the arduous tribulations that the main characters suffered made for a humbling experience for this reader. 

The bond between sisters and mother and daughter continued to be a strength in this novel.  Sisters, May and Pearl, maintained durability in each other.  The relationship between mother-daughter that was portrayed here was compelling and heartwarming ... definitely drawn from real life.  Exquisite!!

As with the first installment, this book dealt with difficult adult experiences.  But the journey to finding joy essentially overshadows the darkness.  So passionately written that I found myself in the shoes of May, Pearl, and Joy ...tired, heartbroken, and enlightened.

My quote-ables:
"As she spoke, I wanted to cry, because sometimes it's just so damn hard to be a mother.  We have to wait and wait and wait for our children to open their hearts to us.  And if that doesn't work, we have to bide our time and look for the moment of weakness when we can sneak back into their lives and they will see us and remember us for the people who love them unconditionally." pg 155

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Brief Reviews: Romeo and Juliet; The Taming of the Shrew

So help me, I tried to understand this old English (for lack of a better word) but like poetry I get lost!  If I wasn't familiar with the stories and the added bonus of the cheat sheets (summary in modern English for each scene) included with the CDs I'd be hopeless.  The audio dramatization also helped with understanding what's going on.  Anyway, as part of  broadening my horizon I'm giving Shakespeare another go.  Thanks Book Quoter for the inspiration.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, AF play, audio CD, 183min, rating=3.5

The noble Veronese houses of Montague and Capulet are locked in a bitter feud.  When Romeo, a Montague, and Juliet, a Capulet, fall in love they are swept up in a series of violent events and cruel twist of fortune.  Despite the passion and innocence of their love, they fall victim to the enmity between their families, and their story ends in tragedy. (cover)

Romantic, feudal, and tragic.  Exemplifies an effect of hostility.  ~By the way, I didn't realize that Romeo and Juliet actually got married ... now I know!

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, AF play, audio CD, 137min, rating=4

Padua has many suitors for the hand of fair Bianca, but Bianca may not be married until her spinster sister Kate is wed. Is any man up to the challenge? The witty adventurer Petruchio undertakes the task. His tough-love transformation of the shrewish Kate from fishwife into loving wife is the heart of this classic comedic romp, which contains some of Shakespeare's wittiest verbal battles.  (Goodreads)

I actually didn't know anything about this play, but one can guess what it's about from the title. 

This was a treat.  A play within a play and a hoot at that!!  Goes to show that people can change.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #41

Some time after Jesus Christ's resurrection, He appeared to his disciples and said the following:

"And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."  Luke 24: 36-39

This is telling of his postmortal appearance ... Christ appears with a body of flesh and bones.  Why is this significant?  Well, it gives us a description of what our state will be when we too will be resurrected ... our spirit united with our body. 

Happy sabbath day!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"10th Anniversary"

by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro, Women's Murder Club #10, AF, 2011, Playaway audio, 8hrs, rating=2.5

Detective Lindsay Boxer's long-awaited wedding celebration becomes a distant memory when she is called to investigate a horrendous crime: a badly injured teenage girl is left for dead, and her newborn baby is nowhere to be found. Lindsay discovers that not only is there no trace of the criminals--but that the victim may be keeping secrets as well.
At the same time, Assistant District Attorney Yuki Castellano is prosecuting the biggest case of her life--a woman who has been accused of murdering her husband in front of her two young children. Yuki's career rests on a guilty verdict, so when Lindsay finds evidence that could save the defendant, she is forced to choose. Should she trust her best friend or follow her instinct?
Lindsay's every move is watched by her new boss, Lieutenant Jackson Brady, and when the pressure to find the baby begins interfering with her new marriage to Joe, she wonders if she'll ever be able to start a family. With James Patterson's white-hot speed and unquenchable action, 10th Anniversary is the most deliciously chilling Women's Murder Club book ever. (book's blurb)

Distressing cases, twisty surprises, and predictable rites of passage ...

I wasn't crazy about the cases in this one ... too sexual and involved minors.  So this time around the romances in this installment didn't irk me as much.  I didn't mind the tidbits about the personal lives of the women in the murder club.  In fact, I've started to appreciate their character developments intertwined with the cases.  Again, I just didn't like the subjects in this novel ... bummer.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bone: Out from Boneville

by Jeff Smith, Bone #1, YR, 2005/1992, 144p, rating=3

"After being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert.

One by one, they find their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures..."  (Goodreads)

I've been signing off my son's daily home reading and I kept seeing Bone on the title list.  I figured I ought to check out what it's all about.  Well, I can see the  interest with this graphic novel. 

This took me back to my first introduction to comic books.  As far back as when I was somewhere between 5-7yrs old.  I recall our maid in the Philippines (don't ask me how we could afford a maid, I guess we weren't as poor as I thought!) reading a romance version.  I recall voluptuous women, handsome men, and lots of drama.  I liked it!  But it wasn't for my age so she didn't read it to me that much.  Anyway, later in the years the usual superhero leaflet comic books were available but they never really got into my poor hands. However it hovered enough for me to see that Wonder Woman was my favorite! :)

Sorry, I got a bit nostalgic there.  Anyway, this installment explored the adventure of going out in the unknown ... woods.  A culture shock for cartoon characters.  So you'll see humans and creatures making its way to hinder or aid Fone find his cousins (they got split up).  Of course, there must be obstacles to conquer first.  By book's end, the three Bone cousins were reunited with a cliffhanger to boot!  I actually want to see what happens next .. but no rush.

Quick read, funny, and alluring storyline (not necessarily a great story).  The artwork was good, though a bit too much skin showing/implied ..particularly from Thorn's (female) off the shoulder garb and off the screen bathing.  Might be subtle enough to get the wrong impression or stir.  Overall, it was entertaining.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

100 Most Popular YA Books

This list has been going around.  Not sure how reliable this list is (#84 should be #81 going by alphabetical order) but I thought it'd be fun to see how many I've read on the list (in bold).  Looks like 15 out of 100 ... 23 books including the series.  Not too shabby for a newbie.  Then, there's only 10 (marked with an asterisk) more on the list that's on my TBR list ... 25 books including the series. 

There's a few that I thought were adult fiction so it looks like I'll have to make few changes on my labels.  ;)

How about you?  How many have you read on the list?  Be sure to leave me a comment with a link if you post one.  Oh, if I missed one that you absolutely think I should add to my TBR list, please let me know.  ~Thanks.
  1. Alex Finn – Beastly *
  2. Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
  3. Ally Carter – Gallagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4)
  4. Ally Condie – Matched
  5. Alyson Noel – The Immortals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  6. Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills
  7. Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  8. Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4) *
  9. Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)
  10. Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  11. Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)
  12. Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1, 2)
  13. Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) *
  14. Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  15. Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4) *
  16. Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)
  17. Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3, 4)
  18. Christopher Paolini – Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4)
  19. Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)
  20. Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)
  21. Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (1, 2, 3)
  22. Ellen Hopkins – Impulse
  23. Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  24. Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply
  25. Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)
  26. Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere
  27. Gail Carson Levine – Fairest
  28. Holly Black – Tithe (1, 2, 3)
  29. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) *
  30. James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1, 2)
  31. James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  32. Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why
  33. Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)
  34. Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  35. John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  36. John Green – An Abundance of Katherines *
  37. John Green – Looking for Alaska *
  38. John Green – Paper Towns
  39. Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)
  40. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)
  41. Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)
  42. Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)
  43. Lauren Kate – Fallen (1, 2, 3)
  44. Lemony Snicket – Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
  45. Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3)
  46. Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)
  47. Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  48. M.T. Anderson – Feed
  49. Maggie Stiefvater – The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)
  50. Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  51. Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3)
  52. Markus Zusak – The Book Thief
  53. Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger
  54. Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
  55. Mary Ting – Crossroads
  56. Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)
  57. Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)
  58. Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  59. Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  60. Meg Rosoff – How I Live Now
  61. Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  62. Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)
  63. Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road
  64. Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  65. Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  66. Michael Grant – Gone (1, 2, 3, 4)
  67. Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion
  68. Neal Shusterman – Unwind
  69. Neil Gaiman – Coraline *
  70. Neil Gaiman – Stardust
  71. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
  72. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
  73. Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)
  74. Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  75. Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  76. Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  77. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) *
  78. Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere Carnal Over 40 Winks
  79. S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)
  80. Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip
  81. Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride
  82. Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key
  83. Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever
  84. Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  85. Scott Westerfeld – Leviathan (1, 2)
  86. Scott Westerfeld – Uglies (1, 2, 3)
  87. Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days
  88. Shannon Hale – Princess Academy
  89. Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)
  90. Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  91. Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)
  92. Stephenie Meyer – The Host *
  93. Stephenie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4)
  94. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
  95. Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)
  96. Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (1, 2, 3)
  97. Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  98. Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)
  99. Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)
  100. Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Lifetime Encyclopedia of Letters"

by Harold E. Meyer, NF, 1992, 435p, rating=4

A month ago this book came in handy and it was quite helpful.  I had been with the company for ten years and decided it was time to resign.  I found the "perfect" template under Resignation ... Want Less Travel.  Cool!

Words don't come quickly to me and I tend to spend too much time searching for the right words so this truly saved me time. 

The book's blurb sums up this book well so here it is:

"Now you can save hours of time and effort writing your own correspondence with this monumental collection of 850 letters for virtually any business or personal occasion. 
Whether it's answering a customer's complaint.. welcoming a new employee.. apologizing for a mistake.. requesting a favor.. or any other situation that calls for written communication --this complete, one-volume resource provides you with the precise letter that clearly expresses the proper tone and exact message you want to convey. 
Revised and updated for the 1990s, this Second Edition covers over 500 categories, and includes ready-to-use model letters for:
  • thank-you and appreciation
  • sales and fund-raising
  • requesting and declining favors
  • answering classified ads
  • sympathy and condolence
  • applying for a new job
  • collection and warnings
  • resignation and termination
  • making tributes
  • asking for a job interview
  • and much more!
To find the exact model letter you want, just scan the easy-to-use Index or Table of Contents.  Letters can be quickly located by name, category, or topic.  Then choose the appropriate letter and copy it --or personalize it with a few words of your own.
And to boost your own personal letter writing confidence, each group of letters also includes a complete "How To Do It" section that shows, step by step, how to:
  • write an interest-arousing opening sentence
  • write a persuasive closing sentence
  • make a sales letter sell
  • solve the problem of saying "no"
  • express true sympathy in a letter
With this extensive collection at your fingertips, you'll never again be concerned with what to say -- or how to say it!"

Although one can get help from the Internet, it sure was convenient to have this for reference.  :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I remember

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #40

Brotherly love stands out to me on this particular anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy.  The courage and sacrifice that many men and women took to save their fellow men defined the meaning of true heroes.  So, I will repeat the topic already discussed in PTSS #14 but will highlight one in particular:

"Let love be without dissimulation.  Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; ..." Romans 12: 9-10

Friday, September 9, 2011

"From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler"

by E.L. Konigsburg, YR, 1967, 162p, rating=3.5
Newbery Medal winner 1968

When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully. She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would go in comfort-she would live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She saved her money, and she invited her brother Jamie to go, mostly because be was a miser and would have money.
Claudia was a good organizer and Jamie had some ideas, too; so the two took up residence at the museum right on schedule. But once the fun of settling in was over, Claudia had two unexpected problems: She felt just the same, and she wanted to feel different; and she found a statue at the Museum so beautiful she could not go home until she had discovered its maker, a question that baffled the experts, too.
The former owner of the statue was Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Without her-well, without her, Claudia might never have found a way to go home. (book cover)

Excellent blurb.  And so the sister-brother team took on the adventurous journey of living in hiding in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The 7 day escapade was full of humorous dialogue, compromise, and discovery.  All told from Mrs. Frankweiler's point of view .. the old lady that had the mixed-up files that held the answer to the mysterious Angel statue in the museum ... was it by the one and only Michelangelo?

In the end, Claudia with the help of Mrs. Frankweiler was able to feel different ... not differently, hence, she was able to return home with glee.  She found the heroine in herself.

It would be fun to have the museum all to yourself to learn and play in ... just for a few days.  Any longer, I'd miss my bed too much.   Aahhh, the minds of young kids.

Back to Books Giveaway Hop Winner

Using the services of, a big ...

goes to IDRIS
Winner of $10 Amazon or Book Depository

Congratulations Idris!  An e-mail has been sent to you and you will have 48hrs to reply.

Thank you to those who entered and a warm welcome to my new friends of this blog and at the Facebook Fan Page.  :)

To all my followers, you are wonderful and I appreciate you. 
Thanks for stickin' by me.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Readercon Filipino Friday: Week #5

(Go HERE for details & participants of this meme)

This week's question:
What do you hope will happen in the Filipino ReaderCon? What are you expecting from the event?

My answer:
I am bummed that I won't be able to make it to this event.  I would have expected to be enlightened and befriend/network with fellow readers.  I would have hoped that as an outcome of this event, a program that rally/spread the joy of reading would be established individual, community, and national levels.  For example, individually we can lend out books to friends and acquaintances or encourage the love of reading through your blog.  In community, we can do a book drive, set up a book club, or develop a fund for the building of a local library.  And nationally, we can vote into/sustain politicians that value reading and writing.  These are few general examples.  I would expect that as a group we would collaborate thoughts and ideas and come up with something fabulous!  :)

Have a great conference my dear friends.  Please let me know how I can help from way way over here.  ;)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25"

by Richard Paul Evans, book #1, YA, 2011, 326p, rating=4.5

My name is Michael Vey, and the story I’m about to tell you is strange. Very strange. It’s my story.
To everyone at Meridian High School, Michael Vey is an ordinary fourteen-year-old. In fact, the only thing that seems to set him apart is the fact that he has Tourette’s syndrome. But Michael is anything but ordinary. Michael has special powers. Electric powers.
Michael thinks he's unique until he discovers that a cheerleader named Taylor also has special powers. With the help of Michael’s friend, Ostin, the three of them set out to discover how Michael and Taylor ended up this way, but their investigation brings them to the attention of a powerful group who wants to control the electric children – and through them the world. Michael will have to rely on his wits, powers, and friends if he’s to survive. (Goodreads)

Wow, that was a pretty exciting read!  I was weary about Mr. Evans dabbling into the young adult genre but he pulled it off!  I had type casted him as the sappy adult fiction novelist ... which I loved about him.  His adult books always touched my heart.  Well, this book proved to me that he can be eclectic. 

The story did have the feel of a young adult read with the classic Evans dialogue prose.  He also managed to squeeze in a couple philosophical moral statements, another classic Evans.  The only major Evans thing missing was the sap, which wasn't needed in this story (at least toned down).  I tell you, if I wasn't familiar with Mr. Evans, I would not have guessed that this was written by a renowned heart wrenching adult novelist.  This book definitely screamed young adult written by a seasoned young adult author.  Well done Mr. Evans!

In the beginning I needed encouragement to continue reading.  But, I was determined to see it through and it wasn't long after that things did pick up.  By the last third of the book the excitement was in full bloom and I became invested in the characters.  There was a definite good vs evil going on.  Ostin being my favorite.  He was a true superhero ... a mini MacGyver, a human smartphone ... I loved him!

This book dealt with age appropriate issues such as bullying, vanity, brainwashing, and self-esteem.  The storyline was a refreshing way to develop the attribute of integrity in these young teenagers.  By giving them something to fight for, they unite and rise to the challenge.  Excellent confidence building promotion.

I liked the ending ... one big battle down and the war to be continued in the next installment.  I'm definitely going to read the sequel!

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Sundays at Tiffany's"

by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, AF, 2008, 308p, rating=1

As a little girl, Jane has no one. Her mother Vivienne Margaux, the powerful head of a major New York theater company has no time for her. But she does have one friend--Michael--and no one can see him but her. But Michael can't stay with Jane forever, and on her eighth birthday, her imaginary friend must leave her.
When Jane is in her thirties, working for her mother's company, she is just as alone as she was as a child. Her boyfriend hardly knows she's there and is more interested in what Vivienne can do for his career. Her mother practically treats her as a slave in the office, despite the great success of Jane's first play, "Thank Heaven." Then she finds Michael--handsome, and just the same as she remembers him, only now he's not imaginary. For once in her life, Jane is happy--and has someone who loves her back. But not even Michael knows the reason behind why they've really been reunited. (Goodreads)

The movie version of this book aired on TV (LMN) several days ago and I absolutely loved it so I practically ran to my library to check out the book that it was based on.  A day later I started the book and I wasn't liking it.  I was going to drop it but I persevered hoping it would get better.  Haha, I should have dropped it!!  It was awful.  Practically nothing like the movie and I'm not exaggerating!  I can't believe the movie still named it after the book.  Ugh, such a misrepresentation of what I was hoping to find in the novel ..actually anticipating that reading the story would have been better.  I was so disappointed.

I'm speechless.  I want to tell you to read the book and watch the film so you'd understand what I mean (it's a quick read) but that might be mean and selfish on my part in order to make a point.  Please, just watch the movie and ditch the book.  The movie makes more sense and lovelier.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #39

Paul extols the high status of charity:

"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up .." 1 Corinthians 13:2-4

Charity (Bible dictionary):

"The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection; the pure love of Christ.  It is never used to denote alms or deeds or benevolence, although it may be a prompting motive."

Happy pondering!!  :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Anna and the French Kiss"

by Stephanie Perkins, YA, 2010, 372p, rating=4

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.  (Goodreads)

The characters made this story work.  The setting in Paris France didn't hurt either.  After all, it's the capitol city of romance, right?  Well, finding romance in Anna's new SOAP (School of America in Paris) was far from her mind.  She had Toph at home in Atlanta that was ripe for a sure thing ... they kissed after all.

Anna's assimilation to a different culture was understandably frustrating.  New language, new classmates, new everything.  Then slowly she meets Meredith, Rashmi, Josh, and St. Clair aka Etienne.  Anna discovers that Meredith has a crush on St. Clair, Rashmi and Josh are together, and St. Clair has a girlfriend, the effervescent Ellie.  Of course, Anna livens up the group and becomes best friends with St. Clair.  No harm, no foul ... St. Clair was spoken for and so was Anna ..almost, remember Toph? 

Again it was the characters that made this book great.  They were portrayed so true to life.  Many of my emotions was exercised.  I wanted to smack so and so, I adored so and so, so and so got my dander up, I aww-ed so and so because aww, how romantic! , I cheered for so and so, and so on.  The believable characters made for a flowing read.  I was involved.

In summary:  in the beginning, there was a lot of pain and hurt, in the middle there was a lot of drama, and in the end there was a lot of friendship.  Awesome recipe for a lovely romance novel!

Friday, September 2, 2011


by Shannon Hale, AF, 2007, 196p, rating=3.5

Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.
Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own? (Goodreads)
I loved the idea of Austen -land.  It's like Fantasy Island (TV series) granting your Jane Austen -world fantasy.  And so the protagonist, Jane Hayes, indeed has seemingly entered an episode of Fantasy Island and has been bequeath a three week stay at Pembrook Park, Kent, England ..aka the author's Austenland.

Ooh, I was loving the read.  I was all excited and was making guesses on what's ahead.  I was riveted with Jane's adventure in Regency estate and enjoying the funny tidbits about her ex-boyfriends in between chapters.  My guess was that Jane would end up with Mr. Nobley since he demonstrated the charisma of he's not the guy, so he must be the guy!  Sure enough he was a contender.  But did she end up with him?  The adventure to the answer was pretty interesting.

It was the very very end that ruined this book for me.  It wasn't a terrible ending.  Uplifting to Jane's ego in fact.  I guess I built up an expectation for a wowing regal ending or I'm not sure what, so I was a bit bummed.  Otherwise, it was still a fun read ... just read until page 178 then make your own ending.  :D

This book did inspire me to give Jane Austen books another shot.  I didn't have a good experience the first time I read one of her books, but I wasn't much into reading then so maybe it's time to try her again. 

P.S.  Thank you Heather for the recommmendation!  ~Gotta love Facebook.  :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Readercon Filipino Friday: Week 4

(Go HERE for details & participants)

This week's question:
Do you read Filipino literature? If you do, tell us your favorite books by Filipino authors and name a few that you'd like to recommend to fellow readers.  If you don't read much Filipino lit, then tell us why.

My answer:
I don't read much Filipino literature because my main source of books is my local library (here in the U.S.A.) so I'm limited to Filipino lits that make it there.  So far a whopping three books that I can recall:  Butterfly People by Robin Lim (this book was actually a gift from my brother), Tall Story by Candy Gourlay, and Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco.  All of which I enjoyed.  ~Oh, I also had another book by Bo Sanchez that was given to me by my brother but my aunt borrowed it and haven't seen it since (this was back in March, I think).

This horrid stat is a wake up call to head on over to my Filipino Goodreads group and check out some recommendations and hope some of them are in my library.  And of course now I can get some from those of you answering this meme.  Perhaps if there's a must read then I might invest in purchasing it.  :)

Books Reviewed in Collage

A picture collage of books I reviewed for the month of July & August 2011

My favorites in this batch are:
  • Dash & Lilly's Book of Dares
  • Divergent
  • Harry Potter #3
  • Harry Potter #4
  • Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out 
  • Number the Stars
  • The Last Song

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