Monthly Archives: March 2013

The 39 Clues: Cahills VS Vespers, Book Six: Day of Doom by David Baldacci

Okay, so when this book was released, I was quite ecstatic to get a copy of this ASAP. Who wouldn’t? Any fan of The 39 Clues would be thrilled to find out what will happen to Amy and Dan, to the Rosenblooms, to the seven hostages, and most especially when Vesper One’s identity is revealed. Moreover, Day of Doom is also the final book of the series. Or so I thought.

Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

39 Clues - Day of Doom coverThe Ultimate Sacrifice

It started with a kidnapping. A shadowy organization known only as the Vespers snatched seven members of the Cahill family and demanded a series of bizarre ransoms from around the world. Thirteen-year-old Dan Cahill and his older sister, Amy, began a global treasure hunt, determined to bring back whatever Vesper One needed, so long as it kept the hostages safe.

But when they deliver the last ransom, Amy and Dan discover Vesper One’s terrifying endgame. The objects he demanded are vital pieces in a Vesper plot that will harm millions of innocent people. Now the two siblings and their friends are in an all-out sprint to stop Vesper One . . . before the whole world goes BOOM.

Before anything else, after reading this, I would like to say that Amy and Dan Cahill’s adventures are not yet done! Another The 39 Clues series will be released sometime in the fourth quarter of the year. But fear not, Day of Doom ends with a closure, so you won’t be expecting any cliff hangers. A teaser at the end of the book only gives us a clue that there’s still more than what meets the eye.

To be honest, I’ve seen mixed reviews of this final book of Cahills VS Vespers series, wherein mostly are not that positive. I tried to be open-minded when I began reading the book, but as I read through it, I finally came to understand the things people found disappointing.

While I was reading the book, I did notice a lot of things. The way it is written just seems a bit off. I don’t know, it’s like the book is suddenly catered to a much younger audience. As opposed to the previous books, Day of Doom becomes a bit too childish in its choice of words and how sentences are structured. I also find some scenes to be repetitive, such as Dan’s constant rolling of eyes whenever he sees Amy and Jake looking lovey-dovey with each other. And finally, the author somehow keeps stating the obvious, like everything HAS to be written in words in order to be understood. I find myself actually annoyed by this.

Furthermore, I also agree with what the others are saying about how the characters appear to be different in terms of their behaviors and personalities. The way they talk and how they react makes them become different in comparison to the other books. And this feels like the author hasn’t fully known the characters, as he merely makes use of their main characteristics. I also notice a lot of nickname usage that I find unnecessary. Since when does Amy have two nicknames? And Vesper One’s real name gets a nickname as well. Inconsistency in names annoys me, too.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the story and the plotline is just as interesting as the other books. I have no problems with how the story develops and how it ends. I guess I just expected too much from this book. Although I can’t wait for the next series. I wonder what will be in store for us.

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Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

Flat-Out Love has been on my radar for quite some time now. The premise of the book looks promising and it’s categorized under New Adult genre, so it’s nice to read something new once in a while. I’ve been looking for a copy of this from local bookstores, but I couldn’t seem to find one; thus, last Christmas, I’ve decided to include this on my wish list, which happened to come true, thanks to my generous uncle.

Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

Flat-Out Love coverHe was tall, at least six feet, with dirty blond hair that hung over his eyes. His T-shirt read Nietzsche Is My Homeboy.

So, that was Matt.  Who Julie Seagle likes. A lot.  But there is also Finn.  Who she flat out loves.

Complicated? Awkward?  Completely.

But really, how was this freshly-minted Boston transplant and newbie college freshman supposed to know that she would end up living with the family of an old friend of her mother’s? This was all supposed to be temporary.  Julie wasn’t supposed to be important to the Watkins family, or to fall in love with one of the brothers.  Especially the one she’s never quite met. But what does that really matter?  Finn gets her, like no one ever has before. They have connection.

But here’s the thing about love, in all its twisty, bumpy permutations—it always throws you a few curves.  And no one ever escapes unscathed.

At a glance, the story seems like the usual ordinary plot we see from other books, but in actuality, it offers the readers something deeper and more complicated than expected. The Facebook status updates, instant messages, and emails are just the tip of an iceberg, covering what the Watkins family tries to hide within the four corners of their home. And it’s up to Julie to figure it out.

You see, Julie does not intend to be a bother to the Watkins family. She’s been grateful to them since they are kind enough to let her stay at their place temporarily while she looks for an off-campus housing. Because of this, Julie slowly learns about the family and their peculiar, unusual personalities and behaviors.

Celeste catches her attention the most – a thirteen-year-old girl who doesn’t act her age and always brings Flat Finn with her. Then there’s also Matt, a geeky guy constantly wearing geeky T-shirts; Erin and Roger, their parents who don’t seem to be around; and Finn, who’s always traveling around the world. Honestly speaking, even I find it weird and like Julie, I’m also very eager to find out what they’re trying to hide. Evidently, the way the Watkins family live their lives have become so isolated, shutting everyone out as they are afraid that someone might trigger something they couldn’t control in the future.

As I am reading through the book, I notice that Jessica Park narrates her story uniquely in terms of her choice of words and characters. Flat-Out Love deals with a much more complicated conflict which leads to the struggle of the whole family. Jessica Park surely portrays the situation perfectly, elaborating on how each member reacts to the problem and how they pretend to feel okay. Someone from the outside couldn’t have guessed the reason behind all these pretentions. One might think that the problem involves a person, when truthfully, it’s more than that. The book will definitely keep you guessing until the end, especially with the existence of Flat Finn.

I love the fact that Jessica Park makes use of social networking as one of the keys to develop her story. Julie’s exchange messages with Finn give the readers the opportunity to know more about Finn despite his non-physical present state in the house. One can also feel those two’s connection with each other. But then again, it’s more than just the messages. Who would’ve thought that Julie’s life spent in the Watkins house would be intertwined with the whole family and therefore, greatly affecting each of their lives unexpectedly. All characters prove to be dynamic and mature as they significantly contribute to the depth of the story.

Flat-Out Love is more than just a love story. I’m amazed that Jessica Park is also able to craft a story that addresses family issues without forcing it into the characters and making it shallow enough to read. The plot just flows naturally and is still able to convey a strong emotional effect to the readers. However, I find the dialogues and conversations a bit unrealistic, with all those complex words used and how they are structured, and at times, how the characters respond to certain circumstances. Those occurrences just strike me as somewhat weird and out of ordinary. Aside from that, the book had me glued to the seat and its suspense kept me interested up until the end.


Meant To Be by Lauren Morrill

When this book came out last year, I was curious of the hype that’s been going around the blogosphere and that alone pushed me to buy the book. Here’s the plot description taken from the book flap of the hardcover edition:

Meant To Be coverMeant to be or not meant to be… that is the question. 

It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the – gasp – wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her… well, pocket. Julia also believes in fate, and that Mark, her childhood crush, is her MTB – her meant-to-be.

But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts… from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to live a little along the way. And thus begins a wild-goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

People have been saying that if one likes Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss, then he/she would love Meant To Be, too. I guess this is one of the reasons why I’m confident that the book will be good. I even recommended this book to my sister even before I read it, since she enjoyed Stephanie Perkins’ works. And true enough, she finished the book in one sitting and loved it.

It’s fun to read stories where students get the chance to have educational tours outside their home country. This is not unusual as I’ve joined something like this when I was in high school. However, in our case, it’s more of studying and only a few days of touring. The study tour destination was in Xia Men, China and a lot of Chinese schools have joined this program, so in turn, hundreds of us went there.  Then recently, I’ve found out that there’s also an educational tour to Taiwan for three (3) weeks which, I believe, is more similar to the tour mentioned in Meant To Be. Approved applications of the chosen people between 16 to 27 years old from all over the Philippines will have the opportunity to visit various places in Taiwan.

Surely, going abroad with friends without parents gives you a sense of independence and perhaps a little bit of freedom. But that’s not the purpose of straight-A student Julia Lichtenstein in joining the educational trip to London. For her, it’s her dream to visit the place where everything about Shakespeare and his life originated. She plans everything well to make the trip worthwhile and memorable.

As I am reading through the book, it dawns on me that I can very much relate to Julia because I realize we are so alike in terms of personality. I keep nodding and agreeing with everything she does. Like her, I’m a rule-follower and a very-organized planner in which when something goes out of hand, it will ruin my day.

And, my gosh, her OC-ness when it comes to her handbag arrangement. I find myself laughing at her habit of rearranging her things when something is out of place. Because, well, I do that, too. I keep everything tidy and organized inside my bag as much as possible. Even my family notices that about me. It’s really funny reading about someone who mirrors my own personality. Somehow, it also feels that somebody out there understands me, that there’s already this connection we share with each other.

However, as much as Julia wants to stick to her plans, there’s Jason Lippincott who just ruins everything with his mischief. Julia may be pissed, but I guess there’s always a bright side. After having gone to a party, Julia starts receiving text messages from Chris. So, aside from Mark, her MTB, there’s this mysterious Chris and eventually, there’s Jason as well.

As the story progresses, Julia begins to be torn between these three guys. But of course, Julia expectedly goes after her MTB since childhood. Admittedly, I slowly begin to disagree with her choice because I happen to be enjoying more of her times spent with Jason.

With all that’s been happening in the story, as well as the places they have visited and “detoured”, they urge me more to visit London soon. Lauren Morrill elaborately proves in her story in Julia’s eyes why London is a more romantic city than Paris. Moreover, I just love how she weaves her story that at first, things are tangled up, but slowly become clearer as we near the end. Lauren Morrill evidently creates her characters realistically that we find ourselves loving and connecting with them easily. Surely, girls will undeniably swoon over Jason. I, myself, admit that. He could be a jerk sometimes, but we come to love his character more than the other guys. Who Julia will end up with may be obvious to some, if not most, but to those who don’t have any idea, read the book and you’ll find out who.

Overall, I enjoyed the book to the every bit of details. Meant To Be is full of surprising twists that will make readers feel giddy up until the end. The story is both sweet and cute, leaving us wanting to read more of Julia’s adventures with her guy. I have savored every page, reading it slowly and carefully word per word, trying to capture each moment and let it pause for a little longer. I didn’t want the story to end immediately. The book may or may not help us believe in meant to be, but either way, what I can say is that it helps us realize that love comes in most unexpected ways.