Monday, April 26, 2010

Blog Tour: Right Where I Need to Be by Wendi Zwaduk




So, welcome to another virtual book blog tour. This week, I am featuring Wendi Zwaduk, author of "Right Where I Need to Be." Comment on the post and one lucky commenter on all the sites that's featured in the tour may win an ebook from Wendi's catalogue.





So, without further adeau, Wendy's here with a guest blog on Being a Romance Author: Mirroring Life or a Total Illusion?

I’ve had stories in my head for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, we had a tiny little grove of lilac bushes next to our house. My overactive imagination and I would play with my Barbies in the shade of those trees. I had a fascination for replaying and retelling the General Hospital episode I’d seen that day, but I always added my own twists. However, when I grew up (or told the world I’d grown up), I put the stories away and tried to be someone responsible. Not to say that telling stories is irresponsible, but I tried to be a 9-5 worker bee and found it wasn’t for me.
Then life intervened and I had the itch to start writing down the stories in my head. Once started, I never looked back.
So what can I say? Is being a romance author all it’s cracked up to be? You know, I really don’t know. I mean, yes, there are those authors who write their first book and make a zillion dollars. Will that be me? I’d love for it to, but I realize there is a certain beauty in being practical.
Has writing a book changed my life? Nope. I still drive my great big truck to get my youngling from school, I still have oodles of laundry that needs doing, and I have animals that choose when and where they want to cooperate and if they want to leave me...er... um... presents. I should probably spend more time on the treadmill and less time daydreaming, but what’s the fun in that? My life isn’t glamorous, but I kind of like it that way. I love romance, but I’m not a girly-girl, so if I had to be glamorous, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
But to ask if my stories parallel my life?
Yes and no.
Learning How to Bend is set in a little bitty town next to where I grew up. Crestline, Ohio is a real place one can go to visit. The Airlift Wing in Mansfield, Ohio really exists as well. I have a good friend who I used for a bit of inspiration for Seth, and yes, this friend of mine is in the Air Force. Between K and my hubby, I get all my plane and military information. The town Right Where I Need to Be is a conglomeration of a couple of towns I lived in while in college and right after. The library in the book is set up much like the library on my home town. One day I’d love to meet the inspiration for Logan, but I’d  have to leave my little bitty town in Ohio to do that.
Otherwise, my life is boring compared to my books. Not that it’s a bad thing. If my life really paralleled my books, then I’d never have time to write them because I’d be, shall I say, busy. I’d love to write the next big novel, a la Charlaine Harris, Lori Foster, or even Lora Leigh. Will it happen? I don’t know. What I do know is whatever will happen is what’s meant to happen and I’m going to enjoy the ride.
So maybe the life of an author isn’t always thrilling, but it’s mine and I love it.



Book Information --- below is a blurb of Wendi's book, "Right Where I Need To Be", now available at Amazon.





Sometimes the love of your life isn’t the one you expect, but he’s the one you need.
                                                     
Cass Jenson needs an actor for her made for TV movie. The previous actor dropped out, leaving her stranded. Her savior shows up looking sinfully sexy and totally right for the part, but what part is she auditioning him for? Her movie or her bed?

 Logan Malone needs an acting job and fast. With his string of broken hearts, his professional life lies in shambles. To resurrect his career, he must audition for a television role which could be the job of a lifetime. That is, if he can work with distraction and Cass is a major distraction with a heart of gold. Is their budding relationship enough to survive separation, lies, and a couple zany fans?

For more info on the book tour, please click HERE

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Personal Post

And so, last weekend was a bum day for me.

Instead of going out and enjoying, I spent the weekend at home, and in bed. Which I hate.

I was supposed to go to a book discussion of the Hunger Games last Saturday and watch a movie with a friend on Sunday, but turns when I woke up on Saturday morning with my head feeling heavy, I knew I was not feeling my usual self. Add the fact that the heat outside [ugh. Unbearable heat, if you ask me], was enough to make my head spin faster.

I tried to take a shower to ease some of the heat off, but no, it didn't help.

So I just continued to lie in bed, with my meds for company, and Goofy the dog ocassionally looking after me, drifting in and out of sleep.

Guess this is how stress gets to you, yeah?

And I realized.... I don't like my job anymore. I want to do something else.

Flicking on Discovery Travel & Living, I became so jealous at the travelers. That's what I want. I want to travel.

I wish July would come sooner so I could go back to HK and Macau and not think about work.

On another note: I am typing this in work, where yes, I came in. I still have a bad cold, but I have to make some moolah.

And all this, to pay for necessities, and what little I have to save up and to travel.

So, how was your weekend?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blog Tour: Nebula's Music by Aubrie Dionne

**Comment at the end of this post for a chance to win some goodies from the author!**

Hiya everyone! It is my pleasure to host a blog tour for the first time. Wheeee! So below is an interview with Aubrie Dionne and I hope you guys support her by getting her book "Nebula's Music"!

ficklefan: Where did you get your inspiration for your book?
Aubrey Dionne: I love the genre of Space Opera. I’m a big fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, Pitch Black, Serenity, anything that has romance and action up in space! Nebula’s music is my first foray into that genre and boy did I have a great time writing it.

Nebula is inspired by the character Data from The Next Generation. I watched star Trek growing up at 7pm and 7:30pm every night for about seven years. Data's journey to become more human fascinated me. There was one scene where he plays the violin and I marveled at the fact that he can take up an instrument and play it perfectly in minutes compared to a human that has to spend a lifetime perfecting their skills. But did his music have emotion? Probably not.

Nebula is not entirely an andriod. She's made from a real human and experiences that woman's past memories. In a way, she's closer to being human than Data can ever be, but can she break some of the barriers that he never could? Can she experience fear, triumph, or fall in love? Would a human reciprocate that love?

ficklefan: What book are you reading now, are you currently enjoying it?
Aubrey Dionne: I'm currently reading Shadowmarch by Tad Williams and I love it. It's epic fantasy on a grand scale. The books in my to be read pile are: The Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, and Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter.

ficklefan: Do you set a writing time wherein you have to achieve x number of words written?
Aubrey Dionne: I try to get one thousand words a day, five days a week. Some weeks are better than others, but that seems to work for me. I end up writing a short story every month and a new book every six months.

ficklefan: Who are the authors you admire, and why?
Aubrey Dionne: I admire the old classics: Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice), Lord Tennyson (The Lady of Shalott), and Charlotte Bronte (Jane Eyre). They set the stage for all of us!

ficklefan: After reading your book, would you have any suggestions on what to read next?
Aubrey Dionne: My next novel, Messenger in the Mist, comes out in July. It's about a messenger torn between two kingdoms, scheduled to deliver a letter that carries the assassination plans for the man she loves.

ficklefan: Do you have any guilty pleasures that you wish to share?
Aubrey Dionne: Chocolate, watching Pirates of the Caribbean over and over again, checking my email all the time, and watching Ghost Hunters.

ficklefan: Aside from writing, what are the other things you'd want to do?

Aubrey Dionne: I play and teach flute for my other career and I love playing in orchestras and playing for weddings. I'd also like to travel to England, Australia, and Aruba!

ficklefan: Can you relate in some ways with your main character? If so, why?
Aubrey Dionne: Oh yes! Every character that I write has part of me in them. Nebula is only a few years old, so she's socially behind. I was the youngest in my grade and so I struggled with the same problems all the way through high school. I was the last one to drive, I was the last one to wear makeup, etc etc.

Thank you for the interview!

Aubrie

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

Each note brings her one step closer to the truth.

When the cyborg Nebula plays the piano she experiences memories from a time before her creation. These memories—which involve a captive rebel fighter being held on their ship—bring with them complex human feelings and awaken a desire for her to discover her origins.

Radian is the long-lost love of the woman from which Nebula was made. He’s vowed to avenge his finance’s death and rescue her sister from the Gryphonites, a fierce race out to enslave the galaxy. Nebula grapples with her identity and how much of who she is comes from someone else’s past. She is not the woman that died, yet she is undeniably drawn to Radian.

Together Nebula and Radian seek to rescue his fiancĂ©’s sister and end the Gryphonites’ cruel reign. But can Radian learn to love again and can Nebula accept a past made from someone else’s memories?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ilustrado Book Launch.

I find that there's not much book launches done here in Manila. I was absolutely stoked when I saw an ad from National Bookstore that Miguel Syjuco is launching his debut novel, "Ilustrado" on April 10th.

At first, I was a bit hesitant to go -- the heat is overbearing in MNL and well, that's the only thing that's stopping me. But then I realized: "How many book launches will I ever get to go this year?" And so I dragged myself from my comfortable bed and went to the event.

I was a bit early, I arrived around 1:15PM and it turns out that the press launch was at 1:00PM and the book signing was at 2:00. I was just in time! Yay! So, I listened to Miguel as he talked about his book to the media, how he had felt when he won the prestigious Man Asia Literary Prize and the Palanca Book Award, and where he got his inspiration from his books [ie he lifted some parts from his own favourite books]

This is the first time I attended [albeit accidentally] a press launch and I don't really know what to expect! I did manage to get some videos but please bear with me if I can't upload them now.

After the talk, there was a Q&A session and one of the cutest thing that happened was Miguel answering a difficult question his mum had asked him!

There was an autograph signing after the talk and I managed to get my book and a friend's book signed too. For those living in Manila, if you didn't get your book signed during the event, you can still avail of a 20% book discount to Ilustrado until April 30th if you buy the book from National Bookstore. Regular price is P385, sale price is now P308! That's quite a huge price difference, you can still use that extra money to buy sale books or commute! =)



Forgive the photos - i was seated way out back and I only brought my basic point & shoot camera with me to the launch.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Blog address!

Please note that I've moved my blog from rubylovesadventure.blogspot.com to http://theficklefan.blogspot.com/

Yay! :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 2010 Readathon Wrap-Up

Hiya Everyone!

Sorry wasn't able to update the blog yesterday during the readathon. Well, as I was typing yesterday's blog, my mum and I had a row and so I kept to myself most of the time in my room, trying to complete the 24 hours reading The Hunger Games. I had a headache from sleeping and trying to read too!

So, final stats:

- Read 65 pages of the Hunger Games
- Read 100+ pages of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

And that's about it. Kinda slow, huh?

There was a massive bookshelf organization project that I also did yesterday which took up most of my time, and I cheated. I watched some TV too. I can't help it! =)

How was your readathon, guys? Hope your readathon was much more productive than mine! Until the October run!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 2010 Readathon Day Two Updates

Good morning everyone! I was kicked out by hour 5 last night from my mom's room where I had no internet nor computer so I just stayed in my room, relaxed, and read the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I was making some progress until I got sleepy.

The sandman eventually got me at 1:30AM my time [1:30PM EST] and I woke up at 9AM my time [9PM EST]. What a riot. I forgot to turn on my alarm clock for 6:30AM. Oh well.

Anyway, I finally found some internet time now, after eating breakfast and relaxing a bit by watching telly so off I go to do my updates and also join in the mini-challenges and cheerlead a bit. I'm also converting some shows into mp4 format to put into my iPod and uploading photos and videos from a book launch I went to yesterday. Multitasking much?


MINI-CHALLENGE from The Lost Entwife

This mini-challenge asks us if our favourite book has been made into a movie and if not, to cast an actor/actress for our favourite character. Easy?

For me, my favourite book before was Confessions of a Shopaholic. I was more than stoked when I found out they were going to make a movie out of it, and lo and behold! Hugh Dancy was cast as Luke Brandon.

As I was reading the book before, I kinda pictured Luke to be the quintessential gorgeous British dude. And thank goodness they had cast Hugh Dancy into the role. Who could've been more perfect? If not him, I would also settle for Henry Cavill [The Tudors. Yum Yum].

April 2010 Readathon Hour 3 Mini Challenge

Whee! I love these mini-challenges and I do try to partake in each and every one of them whenever possible :)

So, here's another mini-challenge hosted by Till We Read Again for Hour Three.

Its nominating our favourites in the books we've read. Excellent, yes?

Favorite Female Character in a book: For now, its Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Favorite Male Character in a book: Luke Brandon from Confessions of a Shopaholic.
Favorite Side Kick in a book: Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter series.
Favorite Couple in a Book: Rebecca Bloomwood and Luke Brandon from the Shopaholic Series [Sophie Kinsella]. I just love the both of them!
Favorite Book Series: Hmmmm...... Tough. For now, I'd have to say The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.
Favorite Author: For now, Dan Brown.
Favorite Book Cover: The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. I love the gown!
Favorite Book of 2009: Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

April 2010 Readathon Hour Two Mini-Challenge

So I'm taking part in the Hour two mini-challenge hosted by Miss Remmers Review called the Kick Off of Champions. 
The challenge asks the readers what have they surrounded themselves in this early hours of the readathon? 

I don't want to type much detail on what I'm doing now so I'm going to let the pictures do all the talking whilst I do a bit of a short description on every photo. I'm running a bit behind and I can't believe Hour three is up!
So, first photo, this is my internet explorer screenshot. As you can see, I've got multitudes of windows up -- I'm cheering as well so some of the other windows in there are blogs of those that i'm cheering on. If you notice on the bottom there's a message "Low Disk Space". I don't normally go online much but when I do, I download some stuff online. This long amounts of online time means my hard drive is trying to cope up with all my downloads! 


Second photo -- these are the books that I'm currently reading. They're sprawled right on my mum's bed right now, but they'll be moving house to my room soon. 

Right now I'm seated in front of the PC in my mum's room but pretty soon I'll be moving to my room where I'll be reading propped up in bed! 

That's about it now :) Off to do some more reading and cheering and I'll be checking in the new mini-challenges for hour three now!

April 2010 Readathon Updates - Day One

Hello everyone, it's another 24-hour readathon. This is the second time I've joined such an event, given that I had so much fun the last time :)

I've signed up for both a cheerleader and a reader this time so thank goodness for audiobooks.

The below are my updates. I'll continue to edit this post as we go from hour to hour so I'll only have one permalink up. Having too many can be confusing.

Now, I've just gone from a recent book launch so that post will have to wait until I could get all my readathon updates done! So, on to the updates. 

So, here's my list of books to read:
1. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
2. Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling
3. The Girl Made of Cool - Alan Fox

HOUR ONE

Okay, I have a confession. I thought that the readathon was supposed to start at 9pm my time. But I forgot that DST is now finished so we're only 12 hours ahead instead of the usual 13. Anyway, I managed to get a bit of reading done, via an audiobook of course.


HOUR ONE MEME MINI CHALLENGE

Where are you reading from today?
  - At the moment I am reading from my mum's bedroom where there's a good wifi signal. After 11pm our time [11AM EST], I'm gonna be kicked out and will read from my room.
3 facts about me …
- I love boybands. Absolutely positively love boybands.
- I am a hoarder
- I love to travel.
How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
- I currently have three for now. Which I'm not sure if I would finish at least one of them. 
Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
- Nothing in particular, just trying to read as much as I can. 
If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
- Just enjoy and remember, the point of the readathon is to have fun, fun fun!

HOUR TWO

I've joined a few mini challenges now and I'm getting super stoked about them! I'm concentrating on Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire but I haven't kept track of the number of pages i've read! eeeep!


HOUR THREE

My mum is currently reading Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. I swear she now reads faster than I do. My gosh. I've joined yet another mini challenge. My back is now aching like crazy! Still reading Harry Potter & Goblet of Fire! I've cheered on a few participants from my assignment.

HOUR FOUR

Right. My mum has now gone off to bed so I'm gonna be kicked out a few minutes from now. I wouldn't be able to provide updates until the morning [our time] then. I'm gonna be reading the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins as soon as my mp4 file conversion is done and I need to move back to my room. I'm gonna wish you all a good night a few minutes from now. :)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

In My Mailbox #13

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.  It features bought, borrowed, or received books as well as other cool stuff from the mail. Isn't it fun?

I haven't taken a photo of the books I've received or bought recently so here's a backlog of books that I need to read! :) 

Bought: 
 
So I was at a used bookstore lately and I found the following: Blood Lite [by various authors] and Rivals for the Crown by Kathleen Givens. They cost around $3 each, which isn't too bad now, is it? I love that they look almost new, and considering that Blood Lite was released just a year ago, I would say I had made a good deal of it :) 
Next, a friend of mine recently bought some stuff from Amazon.com and the fangirl in me wanted to catch up with the latest DVDs and books of my favourite bands. So, to my left are DVDs of Boys Like Girls and the latest concert of Take That: The Circus Live, which was filmed from Wembley Stadium. Awesome! I wish I was there live as well. 

And last but not the least, included on our Amazon.com order was the autobiography of Girls Aloud called Dreams That Glitter. This is one of two girlbands that I like, and I love the cover of this book! It's got glitters all over the front. LOVE! 

So, what did you get in your mailboxes?

 
 

 
 

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hello April!

It's Maundy Thursday right now and I'm at work. Oh yeah. Not very pleasant, isn't it? But work is work and I have to earn some moolah sooooo *shrug*

Anyway, just want to share some upcoming events that I'm very very excited about!

-  The 24 Hour Readathon.
This starts on April 10th to 11th 2010 from 8PM Manila Time [We're GMT +7 now] and ends 24 hours later. You can sign up for either a cheerleader or a reader here: http://www.24hourreadathon.com/

I've made a list of books for me to read, mainly:
1. Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling
2. How To Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie
3. The Girl Made of Cool - Alan Fox.

- A Long Holiday.
Oh yes. Since it's the Holy Week here in Manila, I am prepared to just have a nice, relaxing holiday at home. No travel plans for this week, just bumming around, surfing the internet, updating the other blog, reading and catching up on loads of missed out telly shows and movies. Busy week ahead!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Boycott on DHL Express Philippines for Delivering Books

I am so pissed. I just need to post this blog out to share to the world how sucky DHL Express Philippines is!

Let me tell you the WHOLE story point by point:

- This March, I won a book giveaway sponsored by a publishing company in the USA.
- I have no clue when the package will be sent as the blog who hosted the giveaway was the one who got my details.
- Last March 26th, said publishing company sent over the book via DHL US.
- Yesterday, March 30th, the book arrived at my home, but guess what? They levied taxes on me. Not just any tax, but a HUGE amount of tax. So huge in fact, that the amount that was supposed to be paid was even larger than the amount of the book that I was to receive.
- Since I was not around to receive the package, our maid was, she was afraid to not pay the customs levy because she thought I might not receive the package.
- When I got home that night, I scoured the bill and lo and behold, I got billed for the following:

Informal Entry Declaration - 30  PHP
VAT for Informal Entry Declaration - 3.60
Import Processing Fee - 250 PHP [What the hell is this? Books aren't supposed to be taxed, right?]
Customs Documentary Stamps - 265 PHP

Now, I am against this taxing of books. Hello? If the Philippine Government doesn't tax me on books, then why should DHL? I received other books from other couriers and no, they don't tax the books either. I got them safe and sound with no extra charges.

So why did DHL Express Philippines tax these books? Are they not aware of the 2009 decree that Arroyo stated?

Calling their call centre, someone tried to explain that every package that is handled by DHL Express Philippines is billed an Import Processing Fee. Come on! Don't give me that BULL! What if I'm a receiver of some important packages, does that mean I have to pay my share of fees too when clearly, the sender has managed to pay them out before you send them???

I am annoyed. I've been contacting their call centres for an hour now and I've received the following feedback:
- Let me forward your phone call to so-and-so. Okay. But then again they are not in the office!
- They put me on hold but then the line was dropped. Hello? Talk about customer service?? You are making me more irate here! I just want an explanation on why these charges are levied, and how did they come to that! I want also a refund if needed if I could prove my point that the package should not have been taxed in the first place!
- I tried calling for the fourth time and they automatically transferred me to the contact person who was out of the office again. Don't they have another manager they could escalate the issue to?

Also, it is clearly stated that the book's unit value price was at $1 from the commercial invoice. So how did their personnel get those computations from above?

It's the Holy Week starting tomorrow and when shall I get a feedback on this case? On Monday? Come on!
I thought that DHL was supposed to be customer oriented and blah blah blah. NOT!

Use other couriers instead. This is definitely not worth your time, effort, money and hassle.

Yes, I am fuming about paying the P500+ thing to this company. Yes, I want a refund if they could score me a refund. If not, then let that be a lesson to me and the maid [will have a LONG chat with her about this later]. If such a thing arises again, I'll refuse to pay them. Hell, I'll let them return the book to the sender. I don't care! This is not right!

Gah. I hate this country's system sometimes!

See more articles below.

See: http://www.quezon.ph/2009/05/04/the-long-view-the-great-book-blockade-of-2009/
This issue has been already discussed in the Great Book Blockade of 2009 and this was already lifted late 2010 as well! Why in the world is DHL not informed that books for personal consumption are supposed to be tax-free? See article dated as of  May 25, 2009 from the Philippine Star:
Source: http://www.philstar.com/article.aspx?articleid=471074&publicationsubcategoryid=63

“President Arroyo ordered the immediate lifting of the customs duty on book importation,” Remonde said in a text message to The STAR.


“The President wants books to be within reach of the common man. She believes reading as an important value for intellectual formation, which is the foundation of a healthy public opinion necessary for a vibrant democracy,” he said.

Remonde said Mrs. Arroyo directed Finance Secretary Margarito Teves to revoke Finance Department Order 17-09 which imposes duty on book importation.




Saturday, March 27, 2010

Review: The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King

It was the 1700s, and Emer Morrisey was on the brink of escaping her pirate life with Seanie, her first and true love. But before she could, her archenemy cursed her to live the lives of 100 dogs before being reborn again as a human. It was now the 21st century, and Emer is finally reborn as Saffron. Born with her memories intact, she is the genius of the family and is their hope for the future. However, she has other plans in mind: to turn 18 and sail off to Jamaica to retrieve the treasure she has left behind.

This book is very witty indeed. It successfully blends the historical and the contemporary, and presents a main character who is lovable and funny even though she is quite a bit neurotic at times. Saffron/Emer has this habit of trying to dismember, kill, or do other torturous stuff to people whenever she gets cross or annoyed with them. This is so funny that I can't help laughing! A.S. King has managed to capture the teenage female psyche - lost, rebellious, and well, bratty at times. She has also given us a powerful dose of girl power here. From what we know, most notorious pirates were boys but hey, here comes a girl pirate! Awesome.

At the start of the book, you get the impression that Saffron was just a typical girl. But as you read through the pages, you find out [as I did] that she is very misunderstood and what brought her to her current life was a very, very tumultuous past. From a very young age, she has been through a lot and has been forced to grow up and just be the way she is.  I'm sure if anyone of us had that type of experience, we would also be forced to grow up too. Saffron/Emer has a very strong personality that many of us aspire to have.

I loved the historical elements of the book. They were presented in a manner that intrigues and drives you to google. I googled them and yes, they are historically accurate. The chapters dividing the book were also mixed wonderfully where the contemporary is in one chapter, and a historical/flashback aspect the next, without confusing the reader.

This is a must read. I would never have picked up this book if it wasn't recommended to me and I'm more than happy that it was recommended. A friend of mine who I loaned the book to was asking if this was going be the next movie blockbuster. I just hope it will be, as the concept of the book was utterly awesome.



Published: 2009
Publisher: Flux
Available from: Amazon and perhaps your local booksellers
Read it if: You want something new and exciting!! Very, very good book
Book was acquired from: A.S. King [many many thanks for signing the book + for the other books too]. This was part of Lenore's International Book Bloggers Mentoring Program.
fickle fan/overall rating:



The review above is also featured in Cym Lowell's Book Review Wednesdays.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Review: The First Ever English Olympick Games by Celia Haddon


This non-fiction book is all about the first English Olympics that were supposedly played in 1612 in the Cotswolds. These games promoted camaraderie between the people, instead of them being involved in drinking and causing uprisals throughout the kingdom.

The facts were based mostly on a reference book, "the Annalia Dubrensia", a poetry book commissioned by Robert Dover to celebrate his games, we finally get a glimpse of the first English olympics. Seems like these games were known and enjoyed by the masses, and is more common to the modern olympics of today.

So, what do I think of the book? First off, it was written in a typical non-fiction manner -- quite boring. It's laden with facts that have been repeated several times all over the book and I got the distinct feeling that I was reading something for school, even though I'm not. It feels more like an academic paper too, a project that a student did as part of a school requirement. Nevertheless, the book is quite a good background on these English games. I initially picked it up as an introduction to the upcoming 2012 Olympics but it just left me quite disapppointed.

Published: 2004
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Available from: Amazon
Read it if: You want to do some back reading on the history of the Olympic Games in England.
Book was acquired by: myself. Mooched it from bookmooch.
fickle fan rating: [read more about my rating at my new blog fickle fan

Friday, March 19, 2010

Review: WOW - A Handbook for Living

Wow: A Handbook for Living is a self-help book that teaches you on how to be successful in your daily life. Filled with quotable quotes, cutesy little photos, enumerated steps and space for you to write your thoughts and actions on, the book is designed for you to remember what you have learned from the book and to write down your action points after every step.


Although you have the final say on whether or not you will follow these methodologies as outlined in the book, the authors do insist that you find out your own processes given their guide and master their basic principles to make your life more happy and fulfilled.

Thoughts: I love the presentation of the ideas in the book. I love the photos and all the little notes beside every chapter that summarizes a main thought. Since I have the ARC, I'm not sure if the finished copy would have coloured pages, which would be even better! I would love some colour in these photos! Would I use the book's principles in my life? Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Even before I read the book, I was already using some of the principles outlined in the book. Although not consciously, i think some of these are innate to us, we just don't know how to harness it. This book is just a great reminder to keep doing what I am doing, and for others to also be guided along and recognize those characteristics that are innate to all of us.

Some notable chapters that I love [won't type them all down, it'll be a spoiler then]:
  • "Say it with how instead of why"
  • When you plan for something, set an exact date and record the outcome
  • Where do you see yourself x years from now? 
And so, the summary of my points above:
Published: March 2010 [Paperback]
Publisher: One Peace Books
Available from: everywhere, i think!
Read it if: you need a bit of guidance on how to have a more positive outlook in your life or if going through a tiny bit of a crisis
Book was acquired from: Rebecca from The Cadence Group [Many, many thanks for sending this book over for me to review!]
fickle fan rating: [read more about my fickle fan rating]



This post is also featured at Cym Lowell's Book Review Wednesdays.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

In My Mailbox # 12

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.  It features bought, borrowed, or received books as well as other cool stuff from the mail. Isn't it fun?

I haven't posted one of these lately, so I thought it's apt that I post again :) 
It's my first time to receive a package as huge as the one below. It was sent over by the lovely author A.S. King and was part of IBBMP [International Book Bloggers Mentoring Program] that Lenore of Presenting Lenore is hosting! Do go over to their site and show them some love! :) 

So, what's in the package? 

1. Sarah Dessen - Along for the Ride
2. The Opposite of Invisible - Liz Gallagher
3. Wish You Were Dead - Todd Strasser
4. The Dust of 100 Dogs - A.S. King [signed]

I am currently reading the Dust of 100 dogs. I started it during my holiday and I'm loving it! Dogs + Fantasy + historical elements + pirates = lots of fun! I would never have thought of picking up this book if it weren't recommended to me! Excellent stuff! I was actually hooked and surprised at the book at the same time. The review should be up before March ends so do watch out for it!

So, what did you get in your mailboxes?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review: Extravagance by Gary Krist

It was London during the 1690s. On his quest for his own fortune, William Tobias Merrick travels from his family's country home to live with his uncle in London, where various financial opportunities lay. He then meets his connections -- Ted Witherspoon, a cunning stock broker, Jack Petroni, an assistant to Ted Witherspoon, his two uncles, and several other people along the way. At the same time, William Merrick is also in New York. For some reason, the book happens in two parallel worlds, probably showing the differences or similarities between those times [300 years apart], where there is a tech stock boom, but still the same old story.

Did my synopsis sound confused? Well, I was confused with the story. The parallel setting for me as I was reading the book felt like I hit a wall and I had to retrace my steps again. The characters well dull, one-dimensional and undeveloped. The setting was confusing [I mean, having New York for one and then London for another?]. I mean, it would've been better if there were two parallel time periods shown [1690s and 1990s] but the author concentrated on just one city. But then again, that's just me. What's the saving grace of the book? Hmm... probably the financial part of it. I initially picked up this book because I was interested in the premise where there's two parallel places and time periods and the author is trying to make his mark in the financial world. I never expected it to be presented this way! I was thinking it more of a comparison of sorts. *sigh* I can't complain much now, could I, as I've already read the book and wasted my time on it?

Anyhow, let's just get on with the details and I do apologise - I believe this is the first book I've ever read which has gotten the lowest marks of all. It's currently at the top in the running for worst reads of 2010 and it's just March!

Published: 2003
Publisher: Broadway
Available from: Amazon's Affiliates. I dunno if Amazon really does offer this book too!
Read it if: Uhm.. I would say don't read it at all but if you want to try it then feel free to do so!
Book was acquired by: myself. Bought it in a used bookstore for $0.50. And it's a good thing I bought it for dirt cheap too, otherwise I would've wasted both my time and my money for it!
fickle fan rating: [read more about my rating at my new blog fickle fan.









Saturday, March 6, 2010

Review: Extravagance by Gary Kirst

It was London during the 1690s. On his quest for his own fortune, William Tobias Merrick travels from his family's country home to live with his uncle in London, where various financial opportunities lay. He then meets his connections -- Ted Witherspoon, a cunning stock broker, Jack Petroni, an assistant to Ted Witherspoon, his two uncles, and several other people along the way. At the same time, William Merrick is also in New York. For some reason, the book happens in two parallel worlds, probably showing the differences or similarities between those times [300 years apart], where there is a tech stock boom, but still the same old story.

Did my synopsis sound confused? Well, I was confused with the story. The parallel setting for me as I was reading the book felt like I hit a wall and I had to retrace my steps again. The characters well dull, one-dimensional and undeveloped. The setting was confusing [I mean, having New York for one and then London for another?]. I mean, it would've been better if there were two parallel time periods shown [1690s and 1990s] but the author concentrated on just one city. But then again, that's just me. What's the saving grace of the book? Hmm... probably the financial part of it. I initially picked up this book because I was interested in the premise where there's two parallel places and time periods and the author is trying to make his mark in the financial world. I never expected it to be presented this way! I was thinking it more of a comparison of sorts. *sigh* I can't complain much now, could I, as I've already read the book and wasted my time on it?

Anyhow, let's just get on with the details and I do apologise - I believe this is the first book I've ever read which has gotten the lowest marks of all. It's currently at the top in the running for worst reads of 2010 and it's just March!

Published: 2003
Publisher: Broadway
Available from: Amazon's Affiliates. I dunno if Amazon really does offer this book too!
Read it if: Uhm.. I would say don't read it at all but if you want to try it then feel free to do so!
Book was acquired by: myself. Bought it in a used bookstore for $0.50. And it's a good thing I bought it for dirt cheap too, otherwise I would've wasted both my time and my money for it!
fickle fan rating: [read more about my rating at my new blog fickle fan.









Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Review: Percy Jackson & The Olympians- The Lightning Thief



Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school. Again. Seems like this kid has been going through boarding school after boarding school year after year, causing trouble that he did not mean to do to other students. Every year, strange things have been happening to Percy, not that he takes special attention to it, though. Until one year, he realizes that his best friend is a satyr, his mother was taken hostage in the underworld, his father is one of the Olympians, and he finds out he's a demigod with a quest to fulfill. Everything changes for Percy: from a normal pre-teen boy with dyslexia, he has to step up and try to save the Western civilization from utter chaos by finding the thief who stole Zeus' master bolt.

Thoughts - I loooove to read and plus plus points await those books that will make me want to learn new stuff: to make me spend hours on end on Wikipedia or Google, trying to find out more about a specific topic. This book was definitely a good start: it made me interested in Greek mythology again! Let's see.. the last time I read something about Greek mythology, I was in seventh grade and we need it for school. Now, I want to dive for Bufinch's mythology and re-read it! Good thing my parents bought me a hardcover book -- it literally lasts so much longer!

Anyway, the way Rick Riordan writes about the gods makes me feel as if they are alive, walking around earth and not just names from myths, legends, and lore. He also writes about these characters in such an unconventional way -- I love the fact that he doesn't portray Hades as a bad guy. In fact, Rick Riordan never really portrays any of the gods as bad people, just moody little beings. After all, these gods have every right to. They rule the earth, right? The characters are also smart, witty, funny and three-dimensional [well, except for Smelly Gabe for me. Gosh, I hate him!]

The book is written in a humorous way to make the subject light while keeping the readers interested in the facts that the author is churning on about. Dang, now I wish these books had been written when I was a young adult. It'll make me remember more about these Olympians, quite useful if you have an exam or something! He even provides codes for you to remember the gods names alone - ie the formation of the gods in Olympus and in Camp Half-Blood, as well as numbers for each of the gods. Ingenius.

This novel is very, very excellent. Good start for the rest of the series. It kept me hooked! And yes, I want to read the next novel, but will probably get a copy when I find one on sale. The cheapskate in me strikes again [then again, I have a bazillion interests to fund too].

So, is this the next Harry Potter series? Maybe. Maybe not, but Riordan certainly provided a breath of fresh air to an otherwise aging lore!  This is very much worth your time and effort so do read it. The book isn't like the movie, don't be fooled!

And so, on to the rating & information:
Published: 2005  
Publisher:  Disney Hyperion
Available from: your local bookstore everywhere, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, maybe even your local used bookstore!
Read it if: You want a light YA read and something that tackles the greek gods.
Book was acquired by: myself. Bought it in a bookstore while my friend and I were browsing around and she said I had to read it before the movie comes out. And I did!
fickle fan rating [read more about my rating at my new blog fickle fan.


Review: Percy Jackson & The Olympians- The Lightning Thief



Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school. Again. Seems like this kid has been going through boarding school after boarding school year after year, causing trouble that he did not mean to do to other students. Every year, strange things have been happening to Percy, not that he takes special attention to it, though. Until one year, he realizes that his best friend is a satyr, his mother was taken hostage in the underworld, his father is one of the Olympians, and he finds out he's a demigod with a quest to fulfill. Everything changes for Percy: from a normal pre-teen boy with dyslexia, he has to step up and try to save the Western civilization from utter chaos by finding the thief who stole Zeus' master bolt.

Thoughts - I loooove to read and plus plus points await those books that will make me want to learn new stuff: to make me spend hours on end on Wikipedia or Google, trying to find out more about a specific topic. This book was definitely a good start: it made me interested in Greek mythology again! Let's see.. the last time I read something about Greek mythology, I was in seventh grade and we need it for school. Now, I want to dive for Bufinch's mythology and re-read it! Good thing my parents bought me a hardcover book -- it literally lasts so much longer!

Anyway, the way Rick Riordan writes about the gods makes me feel as if they are alive, walking around earth and not just names from myths, legends, and lore. He also writes about these characters in such an unconventional way -- I love the fact that he doesn't portray Hades as a bad guy. In fact, Rick Riordan never really portrays any of the gods as bad people, just moody little beings. After all, these gods have every right to. They rule the earth, right? The characters are also smart, witty, funny and three-dimensional [well, except for Smelly Gabe for me. Gosh, I hate him!]

The book is written in a humorous way to make the subject light while keeping the readers interested in the facts that the author is churning on about. Dang, now I wish these books had been written when I was a young adult. It'll make me remember more about these Olympians, quite useful if you have an exam or something! He even provides codes for you to remember the gods names alone - ie the formation of the gods in Olympus and in Camp Half-Blood, as well as numbers for each of the gods. Ingenius.

This novel is very, very excellent. Good start for the rest of the series. It kept me hooked! And yes, I want to read the next novel, but will probably get a copy when I find one on sale. The cheapskate in me strikes again [then again, I have a bazillion interests to fund too].

So, is this the next Harry Potter series? Maybe. Maybe not, but Riordan certainly provided a breath of fresh air to an otherwise aging lore!  This is very much worth your time and effort so do read it. The book isn't like the movie, don't be fooled!

And so, on to the rating & information:
Published: 2005  
Publisher:  Disney Hyperion
Available from: your local bookstore everywhere, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, maybe even your local used bookstore!
Read it if: You want a light YA read and something that tackles the greek gods.
Book was acquired by: myself. Bought it in a bookstore while my friend and I were browsing around and she said I had to read it before the movie comes out. And I did!
fickle fan rating [read more about my rating at my new blog fickle fan.


Monday, March 1, 2010

The Rating System

The Rating System.


Since it is hard to pick a number between one to something in order to rate something, I devised my own rating system! It comprises of the following and the order in which I prefer or do not prefer something.

So, here goes. The ranking with the highest marks goes to obsessed. By definition: controlled by a powerful force such as a strong emotion.  I rarely feel this way about something so if I rate something with that mark then it means it's left me with a very lasting impression

The next mark after obsessed is fanatical. By definition: marked by excessive enthusiasm for and intense devotion to a cause or idea. In my band world, I have certain bands whom I am fanatical about but not obsessed. I dunno if you guys could relate sooo *shrug*.
Love. The third highest from the list. What can I say. I just love the thing I'm reviewing but definitely not fanatical nor obsessed about it. I can normally remember something by certain scenes, or events that took place.

Raves. When I rave about something, I normally tell it to my friends. Same with the stuff I love, am obsessed about or am fanatical about. It means that it's given me a good impression on something, I admire the effort of the person who performed or wrote the book.


Self-explanatory. When you like something, you normally just look at it and forget it after some time if you don't put an effort to remember said memory. Same here.
Something that didn't really impress me but willing to give it a try. Something that I might give a second-thought about but needless to say, I'm not completely over the fence on this one.

Pass. Definitely not worth your time and effort. Don't make the same mistake as I did.

And that's about it! =) If you have further questions, please feel free to comment on the below :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Review Policy

Okay, since I'll be reviewing a variety of books, events, telly shows and movies, I figured it'll be better to just write one review policy.

If you're interested in letting me review your event/book/show, please send me an email at:

rubs.escalona@gmail.com

Books
For publicists, authors, or publishing companies, I do accept books for review if you're willing to send internationally. I currently live in the Philippines, in South East Asia.

I normally accept and review any type of book - general fiction, historical, biographies, you name it, except for ebooks - I don't have a love affair with them nor do I particularly appreciate them. Apologies, I currently can't review ebooks at the moment. So, that leaves only printed media and/or audiobooks. For audiobooks, I would prefer if the files are sent over in mp3 format, however, CDs are also good too.

All books would be reviewed, regardless if I like it or not, but I cannot guarantee when the book review will be posted, but I will, however, send you an email with all the links to where I posted my review once the post has been up. Aside from book reviews, the books you've sent over may be featured in any of the following posts:
  • In My Mailbox -- features books that I've received for review, borrowed or bought
  • Spotlight -- features books I am currently reading or am going to provide a review for over the next month.
As a given, books provided for review are also posted to the following websites:
  • Amazon.com
  • Shelfari
  • Goodreads
  • Librarything
  • Fickle Fan blog.
All reviews are of my own opinion, and normally features a two to three-paragraph summary containing the following:
  • A summary of the book based on my own understanding [would not include spoilers]
  • My review and personal thoughts regarding the book.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Fickle Fan

Since this is a fairly new blog of mine, let me introduce myself, the Fickle Fan.

The Fickle Fan loves to review and critique stuff. And no, most of the stuff the fickle fan reviews are bought by her own money, although I wouldn't say no to any free stuff, would I? But then again, even if you gave me free stuff, my opinion is still as just and I stick with it. Humph.

Why the name? Well, I was pondering on it one day and while I was taking a shower, I got a Hallelujah moment when this idea got stuck to my head. I have a bazillion different interests, and following a bazillion different authors/artists/bands/books/telly shows/movies/actors/actresses [well, you get the drift], and so I'll just lump them all up in one website and you readers could read through my mostly crazy and wacky adventures. Sounds cool, huh?

A more formal definition is:
Fickle - Quick to change one’s opinion or allegiance
Fan - an enthusiastic devotee

Join them together and my own definition is:
fickle fan - an enthusiastic devotee who is quick to change one's opinion or allegiance.

Since there are multiple books/telly shows/artists [you knooooow, you should get the drift by now], I figure life is too short to just obsess about one particular thing, so might as well make the most out of the diversity there. Only one rule applies to me though: I ALWAYS stick to my BIG THREE in music:
Boys Like Girls, Boyzone and Take That .

Uh-huh.

So that's about wraps it up.

I wouldn't want to delve into any of my personal details. Except that yes, I do work full time, as I need the funds to support myself, my fanaticism and anything else under the sun and I do this as a part-time basis only.
Although I do love that it encompasses nearly 60% of my time too =)

I read, watch, stalk, do everything in between work and well, you guessed it, my 24hour day is usually packed.

Enjoy the blog, and as per my tag line, "live vicariously through me" [without spending much]

Friday, February 19, 2010

Review: The Call of the World by Trent Newcomer

Nowadays, traveling is an essential part of life. It is a chance to explore new places, learn more about yourself and the culture of the place you are going to and is an adventure, in itself. A chance to know that you are just one tiny being in the huge world we are moving in.

Very few people do get a chance to travel, and very few people get an opportunity to take a few years off and just discover what's out there. In this book, Trent Newcomer decides to leave his corporate job and the safety of his routine life back at home and just backpack to different countries. He traveled for over a year and a half, and this book is his memoir, so to speak, of those travels: the places he visited, and the people he met along the way. With every new place, he did not have a set itinerary, only a goal: to continuously strive to expand the  boundaries of his comfort zone.

This book is biographical so I cannot comment much on characters, settings, and the like, so this review is also non-traditional in a sense. I admire Trent for having the guts to do this. I know it isn't easy to leave the comfort of your life back home, with a steady-paying job, your friends, and just go off on your own over yonder. I admire him for not having a steady itinerary and not jumping in to some of the tourist traps that the countries he had went to offered. As you read through the book, you'll have a feeling of wanting to go to the places he went as well. He described his adventures so vividly and provided information on the places he stayed in and areas that few travelers would ever think of going, which are hidden gems of the area, so to speak.  His feelings are clear in the book: there are no holds barred, like his fears of entering a mountain bike race when he is physically unprepared, and how customs officials may single you out for not exactly having the best appearance whilst on the border.

The book is an enjoyable read, it is informative for future travelers like me who intend to follow in the example that Trent has led. He and so many others have proven to the world, that yes, it can be done, and you just need to take the first step to reach the goals that you want. And well, yes, lots of planning beforehand [the places, how much it would cost, and maybe contact long-lost friends along the way]. However, I feel as if the chapters and the narratives on the countries he visited were a bit too short. I feel it left me hanging and gives me the thought "that's it??" Perhaps Trent should have presented the book by continent, to provide more information on what he did in a particular country, but that's just me. I know it must have been hard for him to trim down his memoirs from his 4000++ page journal into the 300+ page book that he has presented now. Fellow readers, please also keep an open mind as you read the book. Not all the situations Trent has found himself on his travels may happen to you, after all, it has been 15 years since he has embarked on this trip and things may have changed since then. And within those 15 years, we have been blessed with budget airlines, fast trains, mobile internet, GPS-enabled phones, so we have it easier right now compared to what he has encountered before.

This book is a light read, and will definitely inspire you to see more of the world and just step out of your comfort zone, however hard it may prove to be. All you need is to take that first step and you are on your way!

And so, on to the rating & information:
Published: 2009
Publisher:  iUniverse
Available from: Barnes & Noble and the iUniverse bookstore.
Final Rating:  4/5 [I liked it, it is very inspiring, as I have said again and again in my post above]
Read it if: You want to discover new places to go to and want to be inspired in people's travel stories.

**Many, many thanks to Trent Newcomer for sending this book over. **

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In My Mailbox # 11

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.  It features bought, borrowed, or received books as well as other cool stuff from the mail. Isn't it fun?

For this week, I've received quite a few parcels and bought a few books but I wasn't able to take photos of them so they'll be featured in the future installments of the In My Mailbox post! :)

I'm finally finally trying to catch up with the backlog now so I hope you guys don't mind! I don't have any planned events until the last week of February so I can breathe again! LOL.

So, what did I get in my Mailbox for this week?


Bought:
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief ---> In preparation for the movie that I'm scheduled to watch on February 20th! I'm currently on page 220 of this and it's got me hooked! I'm still deliberating whether I'll get the second book already or just borrow but it's pulling me to buy the second book already!!!

- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince --> Okay. I have a confession. I have six Harry Potter books [bought the first third and the fifth, and the fourth and seventh book were given to me as gifts]  but I never even bothered to get the sixth book. So here I am, trying to catch up with my TBR of Harry Potter goodness. I'm currently reading the fourth book [what a loser I am for still not reading all seven boks]. I took up a Harry Potter reading challenge so hopefully I'll get to finish reading all 7 books within this year :) And..... I cheated and got some nice audiobooks of the series too to help me out :P

For Review:
- The Girl Made of Cool by Alan Fox - This is a book composed of a new novel as well as some other stories by the author. It's loooove stories, so is quite good for this love month! Many many many thanks to Alan and his publisher, StoryFocus, for sending this book to me! I can't wait to read it :)

A synopsis of the book from Amazon.com:
Featuring a new novel and two other stories by Alan Fox. ---- Author ALAN FOX writes love stories, filled with a sense of awe and wonder, and set against a brutal world. "THE GIRL MADE OF COOL" is his vibrant new novel and the centerpiece of this collection. Here, Fox tells the story of a young man and woman who are falling in love with each other, but the young woman doesn't know it. She believes that she's falling in love with the man's far more handsome, more perfect friend. ... As the story unfolds and deepens, we see how these two highly talented young men must suffer, struggle, and wage battle to woo this young woman. This, as all the while, she grows into an ever greater beauty, a more charismatic personality, and an all-the-more alluring woman. ... This, as all the while, this young lady grows to become an elegant woman made of shining love and elusive cool. -- Also featured here in this collection, you will find: The Novel "HELL HAS BLUE SKIES" -- A love story about intense relationships in an office, whose unusual line of business is to train people to become 'world-class experts.' And the short story "THE LOVELY LADY AT THE LOVE MUSEUM" -- A colorful tale of romance and high-level maneuvering in the big city. ---- ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Alan Fox writes love stories about people looking for a sense of wonder in a brutal world, people pursuing beauty in the face of insanity. His previous novel, "The Seeker in Forever," is now available in a second revised edition.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Priorities, Priorities.

Hello! I've been currently out in the blogging world because my real life suddenly caught up with me recently and I have yet to catch up with a whole load of things to do. Month-end just finished at work, so I've got some more spare time, and do not do 10-14hour shifts at the office.

So, what's been keeping me busy from blogging aside from work? Let's see.
1) There's numerous concerts that kept me extremely busy! Jan 27th for Boys Like Girls and February 6th for the Musicfest!
2) Theatre - just seen RENT and it was awesome!
3) I'm planning a new blog to chronicle my fangirly moments. That's to differentiate this blog from the other one. Less cluttered that way.
4) I've just booked another theatre ticket for myself and mum this March and planning THREE trips to travel out for a holiday. Oh.My.Gosh.
5) I am now averaging less than 6hours of sleep everyday. I try to keep up with reading my books, the blogs, and tweets. Oh! Living in the digital age.

So, there. A brief apology and explanation of why I've been out for the past 2 weeks.
I was sooo busy I wasn't able to make my IMM post for 2 weeks too.

Need tips guys. How do you manage to cram all of your interests and necessities [sleep, work, travel time] in 24 hours a day? I wish I could re-enroll in my time management course at work! My to-do list on my organizer is now 2 pages long!!!



Sunday, January 24, 2010

Review: Cleopatra's Daughter - Michelle Moran



Cleopatra VII is one of the most known historical figures of all time. Her love story with Marc Antony, was also considered to be one of the most well-known throughout the world. But what most of us didn't know was that their love had produced three children: Alexander, Cleopatra Selene, and Ptolemy.

The book begins at 31BC, when Octavian defeats Marc Antony's forces at the Battle of Actium. We all know what happens, Marc Antony and Cleopatra commit suicide to avoid being taken as prisoner by Octavian and their three children were taken to Rome by Octavian.

The rest of the novel chronicles the early life of Cleopatra Selene, and is told in her point of view, as she experiences and sees Rome. How Alexandria is so much different to Rome, how she fears for her life, as she awaits Octavian's orders to marry her off to a senator, and basic, everyday life in Rome with her friends.

Thoughts - This novel is well-researched as I read about numerous rituals, gods, and "events" happening in Ancient Rome and Egypt. I am fascinated by how the author fed me these information - it's as if I was living in those times as well. And I would never have known all about those rituals, gods, and events, had it not for me 1) reading the book and 2) researching them as well.
This book also chronicles a glossary at the back, so if you get lost in the wonder that is Ancient Rome and Egypt, head on to the glossary and you'll have something to guide your way. Although not everything is explained or described in the glossary, if you're a curious reader like myself, you'll spend hours traipsing around Wikipedia, searching for the characters, events, and terms!Some of the buildings described in the novel may not be standing anymore [ie the Library of Alexandria], it's definitely fun to imagine them! There's even a map at the front part of the book to let you imagine how Rome looked like way back then. And also plots Europe and the other cities in there. Excellent.

Although the book may become boring at some parts, the mystery of the Red Eagle will be sure to rouse you a bit. But for those of you who are looking for an action-packed novel, well, there's definitely not a lot in this book, so don't expect too much. However, I found myself wondering what would happen next to the characters so I'm guilty of looking through the next few pages [oh all right, even right through to the last chapters], trying to get a sneak peek of what might happen next!

Overall, the book was an honest and pretty accurate description of daily life in Ancient Rome. How much simpler the times were then, and how various forces eventually shaped the characters of Tiberius [who will eventually become the Roman Emperor when Jesus was crucified], Selene, Julia, Marcellus, Juba, and Agrippa. I feel these characters were well-developed and felt very "alive", although Selene's stubbornness has got me annoyed most of the time. But hey, feeling annoyed at a character definitely means the book got to you, right?

The author went all ou to try and give a very visual representation and feeling to the readers that they are indeed in that time, that place. Exquisite attention to the details too! Very informational for readers like me. This book made me want to get on a plane and explore Alexandria and Rome, and see some of the structures that were still standing!

So, on to the rating & information:
Published: 2009
Publisher: Crown
Final Rating: 4.5/5
Read it if: You're looking for something historical to read and want to learn more about Ancient Egypt!

Many, many thanks to Michelle Moran for providing a copy of the book!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

In My Mailbox # 10

I completely spazzed out and realized that the links I'm posting at Kristi's site for 2010 have been wrong!

Anyway, In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.  It features bought, borrowed, or received books as well as other cool stuff from the mail. Isn't it fun?

For this week:

Received in the mail:




Left - Author swag from a contest I've won at Bitten By Books

Right: "Crossing the Bridge" by Michael Baron [for review]
Hugh Penders has been stuck in neutral for nearly a decade since his brother Chase died in a car accident. He carries with him two secrets that he has never been able to share with anyone: that he believes he might have been able to prevent the accident, and that he was deeply in love with Chase's girlfriend, Iris.


When Hugh's father suffers a debilitating heart attack, Hugh must return to the New England home he's been running away from for the past ten years. One day, he encounters Iris - who has long since moved away - on the street. They begin a friendship and Hugh believes he's falling in love with Iris all over again.

But the ghost of Chase haunts both of them. And when each reveals a truth the other never knew, their lives, their vision of Chase, and their chances for a future together will change forever.


So, that's it for now, until next week. What did you get in your mailboxes this week?