by Edith Pattou
East is a beautifully crafted tale about love, family, growing up and I enjoyed reading it immensely. The story is told in the point of view of five people- Rose, her father, Neddy (her older brother), her mother, and White Bear. The multiple perspectives threw me off a bit at first, but as I got more into the book, I realized how much better it was because of them. You got to know each person in and out, and could easily connect with them. (I particularly thought the White Bear chapters at the beginning were beautifully written, because Edith Pattou captures his emotions so well with such few words.)

The story is wonderful mix of Beauty and the Beast, the myth of Cupid and Psyche, and is actually a retelling of an old Norwegian folk tale, East of the Sun and West of the Moon. There are some parts that will made me smile, grip the book tightly with fear, gush with happiness, maybe even tear up, but once I started, I never wanted to put it down. (I can assure you that I had a difficult time trying to persuade myself to close it, and continue my homework. :-D)

I wholeheartedly give East five stars, and especially recommend it to Shannon Hale fans, or anyone who loves a good fairy-tale retelling (although anyone can read it and enjoy).

P.S. Isn't the cover so pretty? C'est magnifique, non?


The Penderwicks

by Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwicks is about four sisters, Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty (short for Elizabeth), their dog, Hound, and their father, when they get fatefully stuck in Arundel, a fancy estate where their summer cottage is. Being stuck in Arundel turns into a good thing when they meet Jeremy, the landlady's son. All together, they explore Arundel and see all that it has to offer, face strict parents, and learn what true friendship is.
-(Very cheesy summary, I know.)

Ah...what can I say about this book, other than it was one of the BEST books I've ever read in a long time? It was just so sweet, and peaceful, and very...umm...how do I say it? Summer-y. To quote the blurb on the back of the book, "this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day." When I was reading it, it suddenly felt as if I got transported to a hot July afternoon, and I was sitting in my backyard, underneath some shade, and watching the story unfold. :-D

I adored all the characters, especially the Penderwicks family! I loved the relationship between them, and how they worked together to solve their problems. The four Penderwick sisters were all likeable and relatable in one way or another. Being the oldest child in my family, and having spent the several past few summers hanging out with my younger neighbors, I could relate to Rosalind quite a bit (but I don't exactly remember being that mature when I was twelve). I liked Skye's need for independence, Jane's love of books, and Batty was just cool being Batty. :P

The plot itself was fairly simple, yet charming. The story and the characters start to grow on you as you go along. I enjoyed the first few pages, but it wasn't until a certain apology made by Jane a couple of chapters in, that it wholly won me over. I wish I could quote it, but sadly, the book is back in the library shelves, where it belongs. But anyway, I don't know how anyone can not like a story that involves rabbits, delicous brownies, books about the Civil War, cranky moms, a teeny dash of romance, great escapades, and crazy, wild bulls. Yeah, seriously, it's really good. ;)

I heartily recommend this to anyone who likes a wonderful, cozy, feel-good, quick read. It's just what you need if you feel like escaping the cold for a while. :)


The Case of the Mysterious Footprints

Last night, I looked out my window to find these in my backyard:

Footprints! Very un-human-like footprints! They started from the side of my house, and went into my backyard. Well, they definitely didn't come from humans. There's my footprint right next to it to prove it.

Judging from this picture, it looks like it came from a dog-
The only problem with that was that is that the footprints were quite large, and all the dogs on my street are tiny. The picture below raises the possibility that the animal either has claws, or hoofs...maybe...

The real creepy thing is that...the creature only has two legs. Well, that's we think because when I went outside and checked, there was only one pair of footprints. If the animal had four-legs, there would've been two pairs. *Shudders* And it's strange how it looks as if the animal was placing one foot directly in front of the other. The footprints are in a straight line (my footprints are on the left)-

They stop abruptly in the middle of my backyard, but my dad just said the snow probably covered the rest up (and I'm pretty sure he's right about that).
Umm...so, does anyone know any two-legged, hoofed and/or clawed animal? Well, whatever that creature was, I hope it's long gone from my neighborhood. *Shudders again*


An Epic Fail (as some people would say)

Today was crazy. Probably one of the craziest day of the school year yet. No, not crazy. It was disappointing. Upsetting. Frustrating. Self- confidence-diminishing. Sad. About a month ago, my friends and I in our business class decided to team up for a University business plan competition that high school students can enter in. We started it, but our idea was huge, and we needed permission from certain groups of people, and a lot of financial and other legal documents. So over winter break, we decided to forfeit this year, research more, become experts on our plan, and work on our business plan little by little each month this year, and get it finished and polished for next year's competition.

The day we came back from break, we told our business teacher, who was also our very supportive advisor for the whole thing, about taking our time with the plan, and entering next year. She agreed with us, and emailed the man in charge of the competition about taking our our names. The guy, emailed back, and told us that we should enter even if our plan is horrible, because (as he said) "we have nothing to loose." So there we were, staying after school everyday, getting the permission from the group we needed, looking up all the financial aspects of the business, trying to finish all that we needed, and with that, there also were tears, fights, staying up until midnight sometimes, and getting distracted by tongue twisters on the internet involved.

We didn't finish. We were so close too. I guess my friends and I knew that we never would, even when we agreed with our teacher, when she told us that we could still enter the competition. She became enthusiastic with our idea, and helped us as much as possible this past week. See, that's the problem. We didn't care that we didn't finish. It was just that, in the end, we disappointed our teacher. Our teacher, who stayed after school every day and finish, trusted us, and helped us get everything we needed. Maybe we didn't disappoint her, but her face fell, when she came over to us this morning to ask us about our business plan entry and my partner told her that there was no way that we could turn it in this evening.

I almost burst into tears when I saw her look change from hopefulness to sadness when my partner told her our news. It was worse than we could bare. I know that we really did have no chance of finishing, but I hate failing, or disappointing people. Especially people who work so hard to help. And at the end, I ended up doing what I hated.

Life can get so weird sometimes.


In 2010, I'm looking forward to...

Books (in the order they come out):

Calamity Jack- Sequel to Rapunzel's Revenge, of my favorite graphic novels of all time. It also happens to be coming out this Tuesday (Jan. 5th). As you can probably tell from the title, the main character is Jack (a thief who belongs to a certain fairytale that involves a beanstalk), who I fell in love with while reading RR, so of course I have to read it as soon as it comes out!

Heist Society (Feb. 9th)- written by Ally Carter (author of the Gallagher Girls series), and it's about clever, teenage thieves. What's not to get excited about? (And isn't the cover just gorgeous?)

A Conspiracy of Kings (March 23)- The fourth book in the Queen's Thief trilogy (but I guess it can't be called a trilogy anymore :P). I LOVED the first three, so I was ridiculously happy when I heard there was a new one coming out! Can't wait to see Gen again, though I read it's mainly about Sophos, another charming character who was first introduced in the Thief. (Hmm...what is it with all these theives? First Jack, Kat, and now Gen.)

Only the Good Spy Young- the fourth book in the Gallagher Girls, but it's about spies, not thieves this time. Coming out June 15th! Just in time for my birthday. :)


Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (Look, another thief!)- I hope it'll be good, for Rick Riordan's sake at least. If they mess it up...well...let's not go there yet...

Alice in Wonderland (March 5th)- Tim Burton + Johnny Depp + Roald Dahl + Charlie and the Chocolate Factory= most hilarious movie ever, so Tim Burton + Johnny Depp + Lewis Carroll + Alice In Wonderland should be pretty good.

Toy Story 3- Yay! I can't believe a third one is coming out! It looks like it would be a great movie judging from the sneak peeks.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I - Er, does this need an explanation? I CANNOT WAIT. I know it's going to be my favorite HP movie ever. It'll be torture waiting for the second part to come out in July 2011 though. (I can't believe it's ending....*sob*)


I can't think of any exciting thing happening to me except that I'm turning 16 this summer. (Actually, I'm more nervous about this than excited, but I guess it's not everday you turn 16).

Oh, and if all goes well, my family might be going to Italy this summer for a couple of weeks.
Looking through the list again, it looks like 2010 will be an epic year full of thieves, traveling, and awesome films! Hopefully, this year will be as good as it looks like. :P