Time to reflect on the year

This year, I read 49 books. Compared to the...umm...I think 10 (*cringe*) books that I read last year, it's a lot! Ahem, so, for a little challenge and fun, I decided to pick out the top ten of the year. Enjoy!

Nonie's Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2009 (in no particular order):

1. The Queen's Thief trilogy (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and the King of Attolia)
2. The Hunger Games
3. The Last Olympian
4. The Goose Girl
5. The Mysterious Benedict Society (and MBS and the Perilous Journey)
6. I'd Tell You I'd Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You
7. The Penderwicks (and also the Penderwicks on Gardam Street)
8. Forest Born
9. The Year of Secret Assignments
10. Graceling

Phew! This was my first time creating a top ten list for books, and I never knew it would be so difficult (yet fun)! Honestly, sorting everything out in the list was one of the hardest things I've done in a while. Mostly all the books I've read this were great, and I loved all of them, so it was especially hard to pick out the best ten. Since I couldn't decide between the sequels for a few of them, I just decided to put them all on the list. (After all, they are in the same series anyway.)

Here's a list of books that I loved that I couldn't bare to not mention them in this post, because they ROCK too much not to tell about: Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover, Catching Fire, Secrets of My Hollywood Life (1-3), The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Into the Wild and Out of the Wild, Rapunzel's Revenge, The House of Dance, Miss Spitfire, The Importance of Being Earnest, Enna Burning, River Secrets, and Dragon Slippers

Well, now that you saw the book lists, I'd like to present to you, another list...one not as arduous to make as the first one, but was still difficult-

Nonie's Top Favorites Movies watched for the first time this year (in this order):

1. Avatar ( it really is brilliant)
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Daniel Radcliffe, Tom Felton, and Michael Gambon are amazing in this)
3. Princess Diaries
4. Pride and Prejudice (BBC w/ Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle)
5. Indiana Jones (1-4)
6. Pride and Prejudice ( 2005 w/ Kiera Knightly)
7. Pirates of the Caribbean (1-3)
8. Where the Wild Things Are
9. Sky High (cheesy but at the same time, quite funny :P)
10. The Mummy (hehe...)

So there you have it. My top ten reads of the year and the top ten movies of the year. 2009 was a great year for the me, books & media-wise. I got introduced to a ton of amazing new authors and new movies, and my family had a little bonding time during the summer with most of these movies, so they're special to me. :-D

Well, time for me to conclude this post, sooo...hope everyone had a fantastic 2009, and that you'll have an even better 2010! Happy New Year's!


So I made some Chocolate Mousse...

For extra credit in French, I had to make some Mousse au Chocolate, all by myself. (Eek!...Le horror!) So, since I had to, I did. Alas, since I'm not such a wonderful cook, everyone else in my family was a little frightened to try it (oh, and they were just a teeny bit freaked out about raw eggs in the mousse). My brother was the only one brave enough to eat a spoon of it at first. Fortunately, he declared it edible and ate some more, and the rest of us slowly tried some. Unfortunately, a while later my brother announced that he got a huge stomachache, so the rest of us quickly took a step back from the mousse, and everyone else made me promise to never make it again.

The End of my Chocolate Mousse adventures.

Hey, at least I tried, and, I'm still getting the credit for making it (hehe).

Next year, I'm making the Buche de Noël for extra credit (there's always special holiday extra credit available every year in French), so hopefully that'll turn out ok, and not cause any stomachaches. Luckily, I have twelve months to practice. That should be enough time to get it right, right? :)

P.S. If you make some Chocolate Mousse in the future, I advise you to use ReadyWhip whipped cream (when you add the finishing touches on the mousse), instead of CoolWhip. ReadyWhip is thicker, has a better texture, and makes it look like a dessert made in a five-star gourmet restaurant. I used CoolWhip, and it dissolved in the chocolate in this really weird way that made it look soapy. So, yeah, ReadyWhip is pretty awesome.

Edit: My brother kindly pointed out to me that the ReadyWhip whipped cream is in fact not spelled like ReadyWhip; It's ReddiWhip. How embarrasing! *blush*


A Calvin & Hobbes Christmas

I don't know if I ever mentioned anything about it on this blog, but I adore Calvin & Hobbes. I've always loved them. The Christmas comic strips are one of the most funny, heartwarming, and touching ever.

(Sorry the pictures didn't exactly fit right. I provided a link to the strips if you can't see it properly. :-D Hope you like them!)

This one is hilarious and shows Calvin's dads' sense of humor (which I find very close to my dad's sense of humor):

Calvin writing a letter to Santa:

I have to admit, this strip makes me tear up a little whenever I read it, and it's one of my favorites.

I love this one a lot too.

And finally, because it's Christmas Eve:

Wishing everyone a wonderful, joyous, and a very merry Christmas!


A moment with irony

On Wednesday, we were supposed to have the first snowday of the year. According to weather.com, it was supposed to snow all night, and have around 6-7 inches. So Wednesday night, I come home, eat some fruit snacks, and start working. A couple of hours later, my mind starts thinking about the snowday. If we were going to have the day off, why finish all of our homework right then? I finished all my major homework; I only had a few worksheets left that could be finished in 30 minutes, so I could wake up at seven, finish everything by 8, and enjoy the rest of the day. So that's the schedule I decided to follow. I put my schoolbooks away, and start watching TV.

Turns out, we didn't have a snowday. There was only about two inches of snow on the ground, and two inches of snow is not a reason to close school (at least not in Michigan). With a little bit of groaning, my brother and I go back to school, and return to our regular schedule. During lunch, one of my friend admits he didn't do any of his homework because of the supposed-to-happen-snowday. Laughing, everyone at our table admits that there was some homework that each of us didn't do, and we take whatever we had to have done out, and finish it during lunch.

Later that evening in church, another friend of mine told me she stayed up until 11:30 doing her homework Tuesday night. I told her I did most of my homework, but confessed that there were a few worksheets that I slacked off on. She laughed, teased me, and took a bite of some carrot cake that we were eating at that time. Thursday morning, I find out that her school got the day off because some power failure (and her school is only about two minutes away from mine), and our school, was the one of only buildings in the area that managed to get electricity that day. Yay for us. :P

Lesson learned: Even if a snowday is expected for tomorrow, finish all your homework, just in case the weatherman is wrong, and maybe when you do all your homework when a snowday is expected, God will reward you with a lot of snow. ;)

( P.S. But usually, when a snowday is predicted, it ends up being a snowday. One day last year, where we had this suprise blizzard in the middle of April, and we got the day off. Now, that, was weird. )


This Thanksgiving....

I'm thankful for:

- God
- life. :)
- my family-Though they do drive me crazy sometimes (especially my brother), I can't imagine living without them. They support me, and encourage me through my hard times, and keep me on track in life.
- my friends- Who else laughs at my sometimes not-so-funny jokes and helps me out when I need help in Algebra? ;)
- laughter
- love
- good health
-My high school- Yes, like my family, it sometimes makes me want to rip my hair off my scalp, but I'm thankful that I go to a place where everyone cares about giving the students a valuable education and life skills to help us in the future. All of the staff are super nice and funny (even the security people). It's an overall great place, and I'm glad that I'm going there. (Oh, and our school has houses :-D.)
- music
- books, of course!
- ...and movies!
- coffee shops that are homely, warm, and smell great
- Google (because their google reader, docs, mail, and other products are so efficient!)
- the holiday season :)
- funny people and things
- sleep. Getting more sleep time is great.
- scarves
- tasty food
- my home
- this blog- I started it for book reviews, but it later turned into a place where I can post some random thoughts, so it sort of turned into a journal/review blog. Now I have this deep attachment to this blog.
- you! Thanks to anyone who visits this blog! :)
- my "giving thanks" mood.
- anything else I forgot to write in here but I know I'm thankful for it.

Hope you all have a delightful Thanksgiving!


What's this? A new book cover?

While I was looking around Amazon for a few things, I came across this:

While the picture on the cover makes for an epic billboard, it, sadly, doesn't look that great as a book cover (even if it does have Logan Lerman on it :P). The image was meant for bigger things than a paperback book, and it's a tad bit too movie-posterish, too hollywoodized for this. It feels as if the effect that the picture is supposed to have on you is getting suppressed. (Err...do I make any sense?) It does have many similarities to the original cover though: the back of Percy's head, who's in a body of water, facing an overcast New York City. Doesn't the title font look the same too?


Whimsical Thoughts #3

- A few weeks ago I saw that little interesting Caterpillar, which I named George, crawling on a sidewalk on my school's campus. Since it was black with this big red stripe going through the middle (I'm sorry for the bad quality of this picture), I had to take a picture of it. It was quite an exotic Caterpillar. :P

- Thanksgiving is coming up in two weeks! The good new about that: A few of my family members are coming to visit from India. That'll be fun. :-D The bad news about that: Our first term ends the day we go back to school from Thanksgiving break. Unfortunately, that means our finals will be the week after Thanksgiving, which means I'll have to find time to study for all my classes while my relatives are here wanting a tour of the place I call home. Talk about bad timing.

- Everyone seems to talking about the end of the world lately; even in my church. We had a service on that last week, and 2012 the movie comes out today. I don't believe the world's going to end in 2012, but if it does, I'll be very annoyed. 2012 is my graduation year, and all that effort we're putting into school is going to be for nothing. But like I said before, I highly doubt the world's going to end, so that's that.

- My brother and I took my mom out to see Where the Wild Things Are for her birthday two weeks ago. I absolutely loved it. It was a fresh, very raw film and Max's characterization was great and lovable. The Wild Things themselves were great characters, but at the end, they got a teeny bit scary. Maybe it's just the big sister in me, but I kept wanting to jump in there and protect Max whenever they had their wild temper tantrums. The only negative thing I would have to say about this movie is that it felt a little slow a couple of times. But that's it though. It's a beautiful film, and I highly recommend watching it.

One last thing- I have a twitter now! I've actually had to start one for journalism last year, but I've never started using it until a few days ago. I put the link for my twitter on my sidebar. I think I'll be able to update that more than this blog, and have a little fun putting random things on there.

I'm sorry for the lack of any interesting things, but I do have a couple of reviews coming up this weekend. :)


Happy Halloween!

This year instead of taking my neighbors out for trick-or-treating, I'm just going to stay at home and watch all the Halloween specials on TV, while passing out the candies to everyone. That way, I can steal some candy from our stash in the pantry whenever I feel like it, and I won't need to put together a costume at the last minute! Muhawhahhaw! (Yes, I can be very evil sometimes. :P)

Anyway, hope you all have a safe, fun Halloween! Don't get too scared by all the witches, ghouls, skeletons, pirates and fairies walking around your neighborhood. :)

(image from google images)


In honor of the lovely, cold rain today

Here, it's pouring down heavily. So for that, a short poem for everyone:

First Winter Rain by Matsuo Basho

First winter rain-
even the monkey
seems to want a wintercoat


Fear of the Orthodontist

At the beginning of my orthodontia, I always laughed when my friends told me of their fear of their orthodontists. What's so scary about them? I mean, sure, sometimes they accidentally whack your teeth with their tools, but it never hurts that much, and the orthodontists I go to are pretty cool.

Now, the word orthodontist strikes fear in my heart too...

Well, the main thing is, they keep on giving me all these treatments. After the school year ended in June and I went for my monthly check-up/tightening, they announced that I had to get my wisdom teeth taken out (and I did). Yesterday, they told me I had to start wearing rubber bands and they're quite painful. I can't open my mouth correctly, and my face looks different. They also broke the news that I'd probably have to start wearing a headgear a few months from now. Who knows what they're going to say when I go next month. I know they're doing it for the good of my mouth, but it's a little irritating, and my mouth hates it.

*Sigh* I can't wait for the whole braces thing to be over.

On a positive note, I had no school today! I studied a little bit, finished the Thief, watched a little bit of Pink Panther on TV, and thought about cleaning my room but didn't. Now I think I'll go drink some hot chocolate.


Whimsical Thoughts #2

- I love 12 Angry Men. We're reading the play in English right now, and it's soo much fun! Each of us get assigned a part (if we want to read), and we just act it out. (I'm the Foreman, the person who trys to keep things under control when the jurors start yelling at each other.) I watched the old black-and-white movie, back in 7th grade in this class called Mock Trials, where we learned about law, and pretended like we were lawyers (I ended up really liking that elective). Anway, 12 Angry Men is intense. The debates between the jurors are riveting and you really have to pay attention to get what's happening. It's amazing. After I watched the movie, and finished Mock Trials, I badly wanted to become a lawyer when I grew up.

- The prospect of college is becoming real to me and everyone else I know. So are the PSAT, SAT, ACT, and the MME. Some people I know are freaking out about all of the tests (including me), and are frantically signing up for prep classes. I'm taking the PSAT tomorrow.

- I need to get better with not saying "ummm..." or "uhh..." or "like..." whenever I have a presentation to do in class. In Business, we had to interview a local entrepreneur, make a powerpoint about them, and present it to the class. I would've gotten a perfect score, but I got one point off because of my bad habit of saying "umm". I hate it when I make silly mistakes.

- Question: In Pride and Prejudice, don't Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy both have prejudices? I've been having these debates with one of my friends, this past week, about whether or not they both have prejudices. I say they both have them, but my friends says that only Mr. Darcy has prejudices. (FYI, we both never read the book. We did watch the movies though. :P) So, don't they both have prejudices? Elizabeth against Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Darcy against the lower class...right?

- Yesterday on the bus home, my friends and I came to the conclusion that Taylor Swift's Love Story is a combination of Romeo and Juliet, the Scarlett Letter, and Pride and Prejudice. The beginning is R&J ("We were both young when I first saw you..."), the middle is the Scarlett Letter (we think), and starting from the part when she says "When I met you on the outskirts of town," it's P&P. (Ok, so it's not very important, but we were bored!) Our debate about P&P evolved from this discussion.

- I love Prada and Prejudice. I don't want to return it to the library...

- Goodreads is awesome! I can't believe I've never heard of that site until I started this blog! It's so book-oriented, has quotes from almost every book and influential person you can think of, and you can be friends with authors!! I have Sarah Miller, the author of Miss Spitfire, as a friend! Wow.

- I'm very happy and relieved about this. I'm so glad he was found (I was very scared for him yesterday), though it's a little weird how his brother never mentioned that he saw Falcon Heene go in the box right away. Lesson to learn from this: Don't run away and hide in a box when your parents yell at you. You never know when there's a search party looking for you (not to mention people watching TV will get worried).


Whimsical Thoughts

- So I was watching the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs trailer on TV, and there's this part when the girl's like "What could possibly top this?!" and then Flint, the scientist, goes "With hot fudge. Hahahaha!" I like that part. :) I hope to see that movie soon.

-The weather's turning colder and colder everday. Time to bring out the jackets! :( Hopefully, it won't be as cold this year. You know, the weather has been so bizarre this year. It rained like every other day during the summer, and now it's freezing in the morning. September mornings are always a little chilly here, but not so cold that you can't wear flip-flops! Uh-oh...global warming....

-I love this picture:

My friend took it on the bus from my cell phone accidentally. I like the feel of the picture, if you get what I mean.

- I forgot to add this to my Places I want to visit someday list, but I also would like to go to Prince Edward Island, and see "Avonlea" (LM Montegomery's pseudonym for her town, Cavendish), Green Gables, the Lake of Shining Waters, and other places in the fictional town. Author Mitali Perkins, blogged about her trip to PEI here.

- We're watching Jurassic Park again, with a couple of my brother's friends. (Soo many memories with the JP movies...) :-D I faintly remember seeing Jurassic Park 2 in theaters when I was three, I think. The part I remember most is when they're running through the field and Velociraptors are jumping on them. I remember telling my mom after the movie that during that scene, the humans were turning into Velociraptors or something (I didn't understand what was happening at that time :P).

- It's very quiet in my neighborhood these days. Too quiet. No more kids bicycling outside, or their parents waving at me when I go out to get the mail. I miss everyone being outside.


Places I would like to visit someday

1) The first country name that would pop out of my mouth would be Greece! There's just so much fascinating history and mythology involved. I would love to visit the Parthenon, the Acropolis, and the National Archaeological Museum. Just walking all around Athens and snapping pictures would be amazing. There's just so much I would love to do there.

2) Italy! Again, it's a country full of historical monuments, old tales, and scenic cities. It would be fun to ride through the "streets" of Venice, or travel to Verona, where Romeo and Juliet takes place, or go to one of the colosseums, and imagine what it would've been like to see gladiators chasing each other down. :-D Oh, and did I mention the food yet? Italian food is the best! I love Paninis.

3) Australia- The weather's opposite of the northern hemisphere weather. Going there during winter will be awesome. There'll be no need to worry about heavy jackets, and boots! I can perfect my Australian accent (which is pretty bad) and I can see Kangaroos. Plus, I'll be on an island! *grin*

4) It's not in a different country, but someday I would like to go to Los Angeles. It's always been a dream of mine to visit all the Hollywood studios, and maybe spot some celebrities. There's also the Walk of Fame, and Beverely Hills. :)

5) London- It's the home of Shakespeare, JK Rowling, a billion Kings and Queens who lived in the Buckingham Palace. They also have awesome triple decker buses, and people who have really classy accents. :-D

6) Paris- After I finish my four years of French in high school, I want to go to Paris to test my French a little bit, visit the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, eat delicious French food, and see all the architecture that my middle school teacher (who's French) is proud of.

Now, enough about where I want to go. Where would you like to go?


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I watched HP and the Half-Blood Prince yesterday! I've been waiting for this since last summer. I agree with all the critics that said it's the best HP movie yet.

The movie was amazing. I enjoyed it immensely. Everything was great. The comedy (hilarious!), the action, everything worked and no part was ever boring. I liked how the younger cast got a lot better with their acting! Rupert was impressive in the comedy scenes, and Daniel was excellent as Harry. In Order of the Pheonix, I felt that Emma Watson's acting was a little strained, but it was more natural in this movie. Tom Felton (Malfoy) awesome in all his scenes. I also liked that Bonnie Wright (Ginny) had a larger role in this one. The adult cast is great as usual, but I was sad that Hagrid was only in one scene and the Dursleys weren't in there at all!

The only two problems I had with the movie, was the romance and the battle at Hogwarts at the end. The romance wasn't bad, but sometimes it felt forced. You don't actually know when Harry starts liking Ginny in the movie. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think they handled it correctly. The Lavender/Ron/Hermione triangle was cute though. :) They also didn't have the battle at the end! It was only Harry chasing Snape for a while calling him a coward, and then Snape just runs away. I think they put in the scene with Bellatrix and Greyback at the Burrow to make up for the battle.They didn't have Dumbledore's funeral, but I agree with the producer,David Heyman, about how it would've ruined the tone. I thought the scene where they all gathered around him and lit up their wands was perfect. I'm going to miss Dumbledore a lot. :(

Overall, I loved this movie a lot! They captured the emotions of all the characters wonderfully. Now we all have to wait patiently for the next two parts. Oh my, they are going to be so intense and emotional...

The funny part is that after the movie, I couldn't stop thinking in British accent for a while. Does that happen to anyone else? After watching Australia, I started thinking in an Australian accent...

Let me introduce you to Kevin the Owl

See that little creature hiding behind the heating thing? That's Kevin the Owl (click here to see a larger image). Our group named him Kevin, because he seemed very much like a Kevin to us for some reason. He lives on the back roof of our church. We saw him everyday as we went outside to play some VBS games. He's been in that exact same spot from Sunday-Thursday, staring at us while we were doing chariot racing (with flattened cardboard boxes and that was hilarious), playing with hula hoops, and pretending to be ancient Rome firemen (that soon turned into a huge, ferocious water fight and almost everyone got soaked!). Poor Kevin. I don't think he liked us very much. We were probably too noisy for him. I hope Kevin finds some good, tasty mice to eat when he's hungry.


Flipped in Ann Arbor!!!!

Eeeek!! I'm sooooooo excited!!! *takes a deep breath* Ok, I just found out yesterday evening that the movie adaption of Flipped will be shot in Ann Arbor!!!!!!!! They're planning to shoot in Thurston Elementary School, Virgina Park, and Clague Middle School (most of my friends in high school went there!), and several other places!

Flipped, the movie adaption of the book with the same name written by Wendelin Van Draanen will be directed by Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride) will be directing the movie and it's scheduled to release in 2010. When I checked on IMDB, they've only cast Juli, the adults, and some minor characters, but according to Movieweb, they've also casted Bryce, and he's coming all the way from Australia to play him. :-D

Well, the only problem with this movie adaption so far that I see is that it's being set in the 1950's and 60's! Isn't it supposed to be in modern times?? So will Juli and the rest of the women be wearing skirts and dresses all the time? Hmmm....That'll be wierd.

Well, despite that little problem, I'm very excited for the movie!!! I couldn't believe it yesterday! I was literally jumping up and down! Flipped is one of my favorite books, and who knew back when I first read it that'll get shot in Ann Arbor? Hopefully we'll get to see the shooting. That'll be very cool. :)


The Mysterious Benedict Society

By Trenton Lee Stewart Isn't the cover quite exquisite? It caught my eye several months ago in Barnes and Noble and I finally got to read it!

Basic Story
After passing a series of mind-bending tests, four children are sent on a secret mission to the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened to find out the evil headmaster's secrets.

My thoughts...
This story was brilliant! It was clever and throughout the whole story, I was gasping and found myself saying "ooohh" and "aahh" whenever one of the characters solved a problem. It's a bit lengthy but the pages fly by quickly because it's very engrossing. I really loved Trenton Stewart's writing. It's unique and is like a blend of JK Rowling, Lemony Snicket, Roald Dahl, and Blue Balliet. All the characters (Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance) are lovable and you connect to them quickly. There's comedy, a teaspoon of horror (I admit, some parts were kind of creepy), mystery and sometimes you just feel like giving the characters a big hug after reading about what's happening to them.

I throughly enjoyed this book, but I think I would've enjoyed it more if my health exam wasn't looming over me. While reading this book, I couldn't stop thinking about my exam and felt guilty about not studying. So I have decided to read it again after it's over. Anyways, if you haven't read this book yet, I suggest that you stop what you're doing and get it now! It's really really good. It's really, really really....aah, you get my point.


The Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunnèd it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright;
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole:
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

-Wiliam Blake

I feel bad for his foe...

Well, this is one of my favorite poems. We had to write an analysis of this poem in English a couple of months ago. It's really interesting with the apple, the anger, and the weird guy who wants to kill his friend. William Blake writes a lot of crazy poems (we learned that he went through a lot of agony in his life) but they're all amusing and they actually make analyzing poems fun.


Adventures in this week

This week I:
  • Played Badminton in my friend's backyard. It was my friend Grace and I against her brother. Grace and I were talking throughout the game so sometimes we didn't notice when the birdie came on our side. :)

  • Studied for my health and wellness exam- My exam is on July 16th. Nine more days until the test...I'll be so glad when it's over! Then I can finally stop writing reports and reading about fitness. Reading all these things about health problems are causing me to be a health freak. Now I'm being really careful about what I'm eating (not that that's a bad thing, but sometimes I really want to indulge in sweet stuff without thinking about the serving size and how many grams of fat it has).

  • Watched Hoot, the movie adaption of the book Hoot by Carl Haissen- I watched it because it had Logan Lerman in it. He's playing Percy in the The Lightning Thief movie, so I just wanted to see if he was any good. He was good, and the movie wasn't as boring as I thought it would be! Some parts were funny, some parts were cute, and the last scene where they stop the bad guy from bulldozing where the owls were was kind of touching.

  • Watched National Treasure II: Book Of Secrets- I liked National Treasure better. This one was just like the first movie, except it had different villains, and a sort-of different plot. But did you ever realize that Riley knows something that Ben or Abigail don't know in both movies? The twist in the story comes from his knowledge. In the first movie, he knew about the daylight savings time and in this movie he knew about the Book of Secrets.

  • Joined Goodreads! Yay! I joined it so I can keep track of all my books and I also get the cool widget that I can put on this blog. Now you can see the ratings I give my books, if you want. Here's my goodreads profile.

  • Found out from Ally Carter's blog that there's a perfectly-to-scale replica of the Parthenon in Nashville, Tenessee!!! Now that's on my "future destinations" list. If I never get to go to Athens to see the real Parthenon, at least there'll be a Plan B! :-D


River Secrets

by Shannon Hale

To prevent another war with Tira, Bayern agrees to an Ambassador exchange. Captian Talone and his group of twenty soldiers have to escort Lady Megina, the Ambassador, to Tira. Razo is happy to get chosen to be part of the group, but he's surprised. He's short but funny, likes to eat a lot of food, and better with a sling than a sword. He's not the greatest fighter ever. As they're traveling to Tira, he finds the first burnt body of a Tiran. After discoveries of more burnt bodies, Talone appoints Razo as a spy because of his keen observation. Now it's up to Razo to find out who's behind all of this before another war breaks out between Bayern and Tira...

Shannon Hale did a great job writing in a boy's perspective for the first time. Razo's such a funny character! He's short and has no special abilities like Isi or Enna, but he has a great sense of humor! Some examples of his humor:

(pg. 44-45)

"You're a Bayern," A freckled serving girl gaped, a smear of something fluffy across her cheek. 

"I am?" Razo took the metal spoon from her hand and looked himself in its silvery spoon. "Nah, I couldn't be. Bayern aren't this good-looking."

(pg. 6)

"Who know what dangers you'll face?" Geric was saying. "We need boys who can keep a clear head, smart lads..."

That's two for me, Razo thought.

"...and strong, too..."


"...and good fighters."

Counts me out...

Well, there were a lot more and they were funnier too, but I can't find them anymore. These were the first two I thought of. (Oh, there's this hilarious scene where Razo accuses Enna of shrinking his pants.) Anyways, this was actually the first book where there's a mystery to be solved, and I liked that. Razo gets help from Enna and Finn and a new character Dasha, the daughter of Tiran's Ambassador, who has the power to control water. It was nice how Razo grew up throughout the book and realizes that you don't special abilites to be impressive. You can just be yourself. What I like the best about Shannon Hale's books are the characters. They're strong and they're well developed. They're believable and anyone can relate to them. Her stories are very enchanting too. :)

P.S. I adore Allison Jay's covers! They're all so beautiful but I especially like this cover!



I am at my dad's office now, dying of boredom. I brought my health textbook and papers and stuff to study, and now I'm taking a break because I'm tired of reading about eating healthy. Unfortunately, I never brought anything else to do. I left my iPod at home and I forgot North of Beautiful (I never actually got a chance to read it yet). Rishi's playing on his Nintendo DS, which he often does. He brought James and the Giant Peach to read, but I highly doubt it'll ever get opened. I took some paperclips and started making a paperclip chain, but it got bent in some weird way, so I ditched it. Since I have nothing else to do, I'll tell a funny story:

On Saturday evening, I went at the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen to help out. Before we started serving, we went into the kitchen to get the drinks. I noticed on the island in the center of the kitchen, a container with some yellowish-white contents in it. It looked a lot like vanilla ice-cream. I asked my friend Grace if it was. Grace's friend, Ian, who happened to overhear my question, was like "no, it's BUTTER, not ice-cream." He laughed and said "That's not something you would want to mistake it for." Embarrassed that I mistook butter for vanilla ice-cream, I hung my head in shame and didn't say anything else. The End. 

Ok, so maybe that story wasn't that funny, but I know that's one incident I'll never forget in a long time. How I mistook butter for ice-cream, I'll never get. (But you know, it really did look like ice-cream.) I think I'll go back to studying Health now. 


A few thoughts on Stormbreaker

I watched the movie, Operation Stormbreaker, a few days ago along with my younger brother, Rishi, and a few of his friends. We had such an adventure in Blockbuster, searching for a good movie to watch. We spent at least an hour walking around, arguing with each other about movies. As I was walking past a shelf, I saw Stormbreaker. I remembered seeing the movie poster a couple of years ago somewhere and my English teacher recommending the book to us in 8th grade saying that it had a James Bond feeling to it. Out of desperation to get out Blockbuster, I grabbed the movie and showed it my young little friends, hoping that they would say yes and we could go home, finally. Just as I hoped, they took a liking to it and gave it to my mom so she could pay for it.

We went home and my brother immediately popped the DVD into the DVD player and turned on the TV.
Here's a little summary: After Alex Rider's uncle, Ian Rider, gets murdered, M16 (the FBI of England) persuades Alex to work for them and continue Ian's mission and find out the secret behind the computer, Stormbreaker and it's creator, Herrod Sayle. (Alex is only fourteen, by the way.)

The movie was a bit boring to watch. I liked Alex Pettyfer, the actor playing Alex Rider, but I thought he looked too old to play a 14-year-old. Most of the movie dragged. There were a lot of amazing action scenes though. (It looked like they cared more about the action than the script.) Rishi and his friends were staring at the screen with wide-eyes, gasping or exclaiming "woah!" whenever Alex did some cool action stunt. I like spy/action movies, but this one was not that interesting. (The best scene was probably when he crashed through the roof of the science museum at the end. There was also this part when Alex was riding a horse to Sayle's tower and getting chased by the bad guys. That scene was fun to watch.)

Even though I wasn't a big fan of the movie, I decided to get the book because usually, the books are way better than the movie. (And I love mysteries and spy stories. I didn't like the movie, but I liked the story behind it.) I got the book last night and finished it a few minutes ago. The book is a lot better than the movie. It was more suspenseful, and I loved Alex. His character was so serious in the movie and doesn't act at all like a fourteen-year-old, but in the book, he's more fun to read about. Everything has a more mysterious appeal in the book and interesting. The characters are more developed too. As I thought, there were a lot of great scenes in the book that were omitted in the movie. If script writers had stuck to the book, the movie would've been more entertaining. The movie will probably be appealing to guys 12 and younger, but the book will be a wonderful read for anyone who likes mysteries, spies, or something like that. I can't wait to read the rest of the books! I honestly didn't know this book was this interesting. Maybe I should listen to my teachers more often...


The Goose Girl

by Shannon Hale

A little summary:
While Princess Anidori is traveling to Bayern, to marry the Prince, she gets betrayed by Selia, her evil lady-in-waiting and her guards. She escapes and Selia sets of to Bayern to take her place as the Princess. Ani takes refuge as a goose girl while plotting how to get back her crown and her name.
(Ok, I know the summary is really bad. I'm horrible at writing summaries, but I'm working on it!)

A little review:
The Goose Girl is perfect in every way possible. It has a girl that can talk to birds and horses, betrayals, magic, romance, suspense, and a beautiful climax. What more could you want? I could not put this book down. Ani is a really admirable character and I loved how she grows throughout the book. She was so shy and unsure of herself at the beginning, but by the end, she turned into a courageous, independent, and strong young woman. I also loved how she could interact with the animals and the wind. (That would be really fun if I could do that.)

I just love this story so much! *sigh* Now I don't want to return it to the library!


The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline

This is the story of Edward Tulane, a china bunny. He's arrogant, proud, and vain. He loves no one but himself. He stays with a girl named Abilene, who pampers and loves him very much. One day, when Abilene's family is traveling to England on a ship, he is accidentally thrown overboard. From there he meets old ladies, learns the constellations from a fisherman, travels with a hobo, comforts a dying girl and her brother and while all this is happening, he learns to love.

The story of Edward Tulane was sad but touching. His journey was truly a miraculous journey. The growth of Edward's character is beautiful. Even though he's just a china bunny and so annoyingly vain, he turns into a really cute character. The illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline were wonderful. (The cover is amazing.) They're sweet and they match the story very well. As you can see, it's a wonderful book and I recommend it to anyone who likes a pleasant and quick read.


Which Harry Potter Character Are You?

You are Hermione.
You're a bookworm always in search of answers. When pressed, however, you can always be counted on to put away the books and help your friends.

Which Hogwarts House Would You Be In?

You would be in Gryffindor.
You are bold, passionate, and brave. You have a highly-defined sense of right and wrong, and you are not afraid to speak your mind or fight for what you want.

(quiz @ brainfall.com)

Tee hee...As you can probably see, I'm having quite an enjoyable time taking these quizzes and learning more about myself. I'm a little astonished that I got sorted into Gryffindor. I thought I was going to go into Ravenclaw. But I got into Gryffindor! How cool is that? :-D

Which Disney Princess Are You?

It's a tie!

You are part Cinderella. You are hard-working and never complain, however, your trust is sometimes misplaced and people sometimes take advantage of you. Still, you are beautiful inside and out, and one day you will realize it and find true love.

You are part Pocahontas. You defy convention and sometimes do what is considered taboo. Unfortunately, others do not always appreciate your differences, so it's good that you are so strong-willed. You are loyal and you believe in fate. Your true love will find you one day.

Wow, I wasn't expecting that! I would've liked to be Ariel or Belle, but Cinderella and Pocahontas do sound like me, pretty much. I think I'm more like Cinderella than Pocahontas though, but I like them both!

(more awesome quizzes @ brainfall.com)


The Year of Secret Assignments

The Ashbury-Brookfield pen pal program is designed to bring together the two rival schools in a spirit of harmony and "the Joy of the Envelope." But when Cassie, Lydia, and Emily send their first letters to Matthew, Charlie, and Sebastian, things don't go quite as planned. What starts out as a simple letter exchange soon leads to secret missions, false alarms, lock picking, mistaken identities, and an all-out war between the schools.
(synopsis taken from the back of the book)

I really loved reading the Year of Secret Assignments! It was a quick, fun read and it had everything I love in a book- action, comedy, suspense, adventure, romance, etc. (I also learned a lot about Australian schools and what their fire alarms look like.) It was captivating and there are many unpredictable twists. There's this one part in the book that made me gasp out loud
and I never gasp out loud. It's that unpredictable. What I really loved about the book were the characters. They're so hilarious! You get so connected to them and grow to care for them by the end of the book. From Cassie's lawyer dad to Charlie's siblings, you can't help but love them!

I have to admit, I was a little uncertain about whether or not to read this at first (partially due to the cover) but when my friend begged me to read this, I decided to just give it a try. (See, I didn't know what the red thing with the smiley face on it was. Only later when I was reading was when I realized it was a fire alarm! Hehe...I can be a bit clueless at times.) I'm really glad I ended up reading this book and it will probably be my favorite book of 9th grade (or at least one of them). I would give this book 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who likes a fun, quick (because you can't put it down!), and an engrossing read!


The Last Olympian

Yay! I finally get around to posting my first blog entry! I’ve made an environmental blog (Evergreen Aura), but decided that making a personal blog would be really cool. I created this blog a long time ago but never actually had time to post anything. Now I do and my first post will be a little review for…The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan, the final book in the Percy Jackson series. In the final chapter of the Percy Jackson series, Percy Jackson, the son of the Greek god Poseidon, and his friends have the final battle between Kronos to save the world and the Olympians.

I finished reading The Last Olympian last night, and I would have to say it was really…epic. It was so exhilarating and mind-blowing. It had a different mood than all the other books but I guess that’s because it was basically all battle scenes. All the characters that we’ve grown to love are back and there’s a few minor characters that you get to learn a lot more about. There are so many twists and turns in this book, and most of the time you’ll be like “oh!” or “woah…didn’t see that coming!” The climax of the book was stunning and is probably one of the most emotional moments in the series.

The ending was satisfying, cute and wrapped up Percy’s story nicely, leaving no questions unanswered. Since I get emotional at the end of everything, I got tears in my eyes when I read the last sentence, and I realized that after it, there would be no more Percy Jackson books. Well, since there was a new prophecy and Rick Riordan stated in the acknowledgments “As my first Camp Half-Blood series ends…” at least we know that there will be more demi-gods to come in the future. But it’ll be really awkward and sad not reading about Percy and his friends. Hmm… I really hope that the main character’s first-person narration in the new series will be as humorous as Percy’s. (After all, that's one of the things that drew me into the series in the first place.)

Oh...I realized one thing! Even if the PJ series is over, there will still be the movie adaption of "the Lightning Thief" (the first book in the PJ series.) I’m a little anxious to see how they show it on the silver screen. I know the casting is a bit off and they’re changing the storyline (due to all the gods that we never meet in the book being casted) but I’ll be optimistic. The Lightning Thief is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and if Chris Colombus and the rest of the cast/crew capture the story and the mythical feeling it has, I believe it’ll be just fine. :-)