Monthly Archives: April 2013

Classics Retold Sign Up Post

classicsretold

Last February, Alison @ The Cheap Reader hosted Project: Fairy Tale in which I joined and tackled Beauty and the Beast. The rest of my blog posts for the project can be found under the Blog Activities category.

Now, there’s going to be an upcoming project again, entitled Classics Retold, and this time, as the title suggests, it’s going to be about classics and their adaptations, sequels, retellings, and spin-offs! The project will be hosted by: Alison @ The Cheap Reader, Alyssa @ Books Take You Places, Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy, Wendy @ Excellent Library, and Brittany @ Book Addict’s Guide. Details of the project can be found here.

The project will be held in September and since five (5) bloggers are hosting it, the classics are divided into five (5) categories as well (Ancient to Renaissance Lit Classics, Mythology Classics, 19th Century and Gothic Classics, Children’s Classics, and American & Misc. Classics). I have chosen The Secret Garden as my classic, so it’s going to be under Children’s Classic.

These are the books I’ll be reading for the project:

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – the original classic

The Forgotten Room by Stacie Morrell – a sequel to the classic

The Humming Room by Ellen Potter – a retelling of the classic

The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell – I heard that there’s a little element of The Secret Garden here so I’ll give this book a try

If you guys happen to know more good retellings or sequels or anything of my chosen classic, feel free to let me know. This is definitely a great opportunity to appreciate the classics once again. I can’t wait for this another exciting project!

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The Land of Stories, Book One: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Before anything else, I want to apologize for the delayed posting of review. I intended to post reviews at least once a week, but in this case, I was supposed to finish reading the book and eventually post a review sometime last week but all of those didn’t happen. And I blame it on my Candy Crush addiction. Nevertheless, here it is.

I encountered this title way before, but I was a bit hesitant to pick it up as I was confident it might be part of a series (I’m not exactly a fan of series unless the premise of the story is good and convincing enough to buy the rest of the series). I know the book cover is eye-catching, but it took me quite a while to finally give in to the book’s calling. A few weeks ago, as I was browsing books at a local bookstore, I saw the book. It was as if the book was trying to catch my attention, so I picked it up, contemplated a bit and finally bought the book.

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

The Land of Stories - The Wishing Spell coverAlex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change. When the twins’ grandmother gives them a fairy-tale book, they have no idea they’re about to enter a land beyond all imagining: the Land of Stories, where fairy tales are real.

But the stories they know so well haven’t ended in this magical land – Goldilocks is now a wanted fugitive, Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom, and Queen Cinderella is about to become a mother! The twins know they must get back home somehow. But with the Evil Queen hot on their trail, will they ever find the way?

I bought the paperback edition of the book and I noticed that the back page of the front cover illustrates the complete map of The Land of Stories. It’s printed in black and white, though, but the image is just as impressive. I’m not sure if the map is printed in color in the hardcover edition but either way, I was able to download the colored version from the book’s official website.

Map-of-the-Land-of-Stories

Cool, isn’t it? I could stare at it for hours. Admittedly, I keep going back to the map to keep track of the protagonists’ location and distance from one place to another. And of course, knowing that the map shows Mermaid Bay, I am eager to find out if they’re going to encounter the infamous The Little Mermaid. The map definitely portrays everything about the story.

Moving on to the story, Alex and Conner Bailey accidentally discover The Land of Stories. It’s the place where fairy tale characters we’ve been familiar with since childhood exist. The way they are transported to the fairy tale world is not unusual, but on the other hand, avid readers would surely long to experience that, since we always want to get lost in the book and accompany our heroes and heroines in their adventures.

Alex and Conner Bailey are two winning protagonists. They are twins and yet, they’re different from one another. Alex is focused, intelligent, and plan-oriented, while Conner is carefree, funny, and street-smart. At the beginning of the story, I am already invested in them and I come to love them more as the story progresses. Despite their differences, they are still able to work as a team. Conner’s humorous side is what sets him apart and that’s what I love about him. His sense of humor lightens up whatever conflict or problem is present. Even I can’t help but laugh at his remarks. Alex, on the other hand, is more mature and keeps her self and Conner grounded, well, except for those times when she meets her fairy tale “celebrities”. Their brother-sister relationship is definitely something to be admired at.

Moreover, the fairy tale characters have also proven themselves to be likable. I love how some fairy tale characters we tend to ignore played a major role in this book. It’s like Chris Colfer is trying to let us see a different angle of the personalities of some fairy tale characters in his own version. Even I didn’t feel any resentment towards the Evil Queen. In fact, she somehow reminds me of Regina from Once Upon A Time series.

I guess one of the reasons why I picked up this book has mainly to do with fairy tales in general. I’m already a twenty-something lady, but hey, no one is too old for fairy tales. And I don’t know, perhaps I’m also curious as to how Chris Colfer is going to make a twist out of all those fairy tales he’ll be using. At the end of the day, I don’t regret to have read this book.

Even though I know the fairy tale characters mentioned in the book, Chris Colfer is able to keep me entertained until the end. The prose is imaginatively written and so animated that I would have wanted to join the twins in their adventures. The book may cater to younger audience, but I enjoyed it to the fullest. Chris Colfer perfectly showed that fairy tales did not end the way we knew. The story and Chris Colfer, indeed, impressed me so much. Chris Colfer even inserted some life-learning lessons that can be applied in real life. Overall, I have loved everything about this book and I cannot wait for the next book!

If you guys enjoy having crossover fairy tale characters, you might want to try Fables (graphic novel) by Bill Willingham and watch the series Once Upon A Time. These, however, have deeper storyline and are catered more to mature readers/audience.


A Moment of Awareness

Last April 13, 2013, I found out that Gary Valenciano will be celebrating his 30th Anniversary in the industry in ASAP 18, a local musical variety show broadcasted by ABS-CBN. I was excited to know about this and actually looked forward to it. So on the day itself, I turned my television on by noon and waited for the show to start.

Once the show began, I was glad I didn’t have to wait too long for his performance number. I didn’t want to miss any detail so I kept my eye on the television the whole time. And lo and behold, during one of the videos shown with Gary Valenciano’s close friends/artists/relatives delivering messages to him, pictures of him are displayed on the screen and one of the pictures used was taken from my blog post about Gary V’s concert LAST YEAR. I didn’t want to assume immediately, since it was merely shown in a few seconds. But I immediately checked my blog if there was any similarities and waited it to be uploaded in YouTube to confirm this breakthrough.

This was the picture from my blog:

Gary V Concert

After a few days, I saw the official video posted in YouTube and this was what I saw which I screen-captured it:

Gary V 30th_YouTube

Posting both pictures side by side, anyone can tell that it’s identical. I wanted to believe that maybe someone had taken the same picture as well, but if you think about it, all angles and lightings were the same. Even the body poses of the subjects were similar. Those details alone proved that the picture was mine.

gary v

I’m not sure who copied the picture from my blog. Don’t get me wrong, I was actually flattered for them to use the picture I took despite the fact that I’m not a professional photographer. However, it would have been better if they informed me or asked permission at the least (I put the blog link on the picture at the bottom and they removed it!). Everything that happened had taken me by surprise. Now I’m not sure if the other pictures were “stolen” from others as well.

So now, the question is, is this considered as copyright infringement? Whatever the case is, I guess I learned my lesson. To protect the pictures we own as we post it online, better make sure to show evidence that they are, indeed, ours. Putting watermarks on pictures can be one solution.


Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Tin @ Rabbitin’s review of this book convinced me enough to acquire a copy of the said book. I was actually supposed to read it for Christmas late this year, knowing that I can be patient and since the book is set during Christmas. But then, I found myself running out of books to read, so lo and behold, I had decided to buy a copy ASAP and read it.

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

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares cover“I’ve left some clues for you.

If you want them, turn the page.

If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

The beginning of the book already got me hooked! It’s quite a different kind of book as compared to others and I guess this was what urged me to further read through it. As mentioned earlier, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is set during Christmas and is told in alternating point of views of Dash and Lily. Who would’ve thought that their paths would cross with merely the use of a red notebook.

The idea of this red notebook intrigues me enough to be curious as to what Dash would do when he stumbles upon it. The content of the first page of the notebook already challenges the person to a puzzle. Even I was eager to figure out the answer and as Dash tries to solve it, it’s like I am there with Dash, too. I really wanted to participate in this exciting experience. And this reason alone keeps me glued to the book.

After finishing the puzzle, Dash wants something more, hence the title. The red notebook becomes a Book of Dares which Dash and Lily write to challenge each other. The notebook is their only way of communicating – not the usual exchange of text messages, calls, chats, letters, etc. that we often read in other books. And this notebook turns out to be more than just giving dares. It becomes a bridge to their unexpected friendship that will later on bloom to something more.

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan surely did an amazing job crafting such a unique, beautiful, and inspiring story. I find myself rooting for the main characters. One thing that’s great about this book is that the minor characters also play significant roles in the story. I can’t help but come to love them as much as I love Dash and Lily. Each person possesses different types of personalities; thus, they react to situations differently. Furthermore, I’m entertained by how Dash and Lily are portrayed in the story. Dash’s value for words is shown in his imaginative and witty thinking. Lily, on the other hand, just takes life seriously and wants to make every moment of the Christmas season worthwhile. They might have exaggerated some parts a bit to the point of being far-fetched, but nevertheless, I still enjoy reading their story. And the more I read, the more I want to get to know and love them. It’s really nice to know what’s going on in their minds for a change.

Overall, I truly enjoyed the book to the fullest. This is one of the rare books where I literally laughed while reading through some parts and it even made me take a walk down memory lane. You see, it’s hard to put the book down. Guilty as charged, I even brought the book to work and read with every window of opportunity I come across. It was so much fun. Even some passages convey deep meanings that will make one stop, reread the passage again, and reflect. I’m glad to have read this book sooner. Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s writing style will definitely haunt you. In short, I didn’t expect to fall in love with Dash and Lily’s story. Readers will certainly yearn to have their own version of their red notebooks.


Son by Lois Lowry

So here we are, at the final installment of The Giver Quartet entitled Son. Here’s the plot description from the jacket cover of the book:

Son cover“They called her Water Claire.”

When the young girl washed up on their shore, no one knew she had been a Vessel.  That she had carried a Product.  That it had been carved from her belly.  Stolen.

Claire had had a son.  She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible.  When he was taken from their community, she knew she had to follow.

And so her journey began.

But here in this wind-battered village Claire is welcomed as one of their own.  In the security of her new home, she is free and loved.  She grows stronger.

As tempted as she is by the warmth of more human kindness than she has ever known, she cannot stay.  Her son is out there; a young boy by now.

Claire will stop at nothing to find her child…even if it means trading her own life.

With Son, the two-time Newbery Medal-winning Lois Lowry has spun another mesmerizing tale in this thrilling and long-awaited conclusion to The Giver.

Lois Lowry once again revisits the community where Jonas first came from, but this time, the story centers on Claire who is assigned as the Birthmother of the community. However, something goes wrong during her labor, so she is reassigned to work at the Fish Hatchery. As time passes, she begins to feel something unexplainable that she soon realizes isn’t present in other people. Her capability of feeling and having emotions separate her from the others and make her yearn to be with her son. Thus, when Jonas escapes with her son, she decides to get him back.

The story is divided into three parts which corresponds to three different communities where Claire has stayed. If you’ve read The Giver, then you already know what kind of community Claire lives in as she grows up. Equality is observed and everything is controlled and organized. It’s as if the authority wishes the community to be made into perfection without any rebellions or protests present. That current state of the community alone seems to deprive the people of their freedom. Having feelings and emotions have also been eradicated to better handle the community. The second community, although not as highly civilized and modernized as the first one, still allows Claire to learn more things that are not taught at her first community. Here, she meets Einar who trains and prepares her to climb the cliff that separates that community from the other – as it’s her only other way to find her son. And lastly, the third community is what we’re familiar with from Messenger. It’s pretty impressive that Lois Lowry incorporates the concept of evil in tangible form and she really portrays it well.

Familiar characters from previous books appear in this one and readers will definitely fall in love with them again. Having read all the books in the series, I’m certainly glad to see them again in this last book. It’s like I’ve been there all their lives as they grew older and matured. Furthermore, as the story progresses, we come to see how all their lives are intertwined and connected with one another.

Overall, the story is enjoyable to read. Son is definitely longer than the other books and Lois Lowry did an amazing job writing the plot in details. However, character development seems to be lacking in Claire and Gabe. I would have wanted to read more of them in the third part of the story, but it seems to be rushed. And there are parts where I feel something lacks – I can’t pinpoint exactly what. I guess I’m still looking for the same depth that the previous books convey to the readers. But aside from that, the book doesn’t disappoint.