Sunday, September 30, 2012

RAK: September Wrap-Up & October's Plans

It's the last day of September and it's time to go over my RAK's September Wrap-Up. The RAK is hosted every month by Book Soulmates. This is what I got for my birthday month:

Birthday card, two banned books week bookmarks, Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, & Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor from Sarah at Sawcat's Book Blog. She's super awesome!

Yay! I got Unwind's sequel, Unwholly by Neal Shusterman. This was sent to me by my lovely friend, Ciska from I am Ciska.

These gorgeous earrings were made especially for me for my birthday by the very talented Miki from Lecture toute une Aventure. I get many compliments when I wear these. So pretty!!!

This is what I gave away:

I sent this to Michelle over at Beagle Book Space.


This was a very exciting month of gifts and I have to say that I am quite blessed to have such wonderful friends around the world. Got to love the book blogging community!

September was a very interesting reading month. I went back to work at my school, my tutoring started up again, and I went back into my belly dance. My reading time was cut short and my desire to read was not as great at the beginning of the month due to heartbreak. I did get to read my Harry Potter books and I got started on my H.P. Lovecraft.

October's Plans

  • Going to read the last two books in the Harry Potter series.
  • Going to read the next four stories out of the H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction: "A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson," "Polaris," "Beyond the Wall of Sleep," and "Memory."
  • Start The Hobbit Read-a-Long hosted by Sawcat's Book Blog.
  • Finish reading Taken by Erin McCarthy and Battle Royale by Koushun Takami.
  • Read The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.
  • Co-host Valentina Goldman's Immaculate Confusion book blast on October 8th.
  • Participate in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer
I'm excited for October!!!!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Synopsis: In his fifth year at Hogwart's, Harry faces challenges at every turn, from the dark threat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and the unreliability of the government of the magical world to the rise of Ron Weasley as the keeper of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. Along the way he learns about the strength of his friends, the fierceness of his enemies, and the meaning of sacrifice.
My thoughts: Wow! This book had so much going on! I felt like I read three different books and when I finished reading, I could not believe that I only read one book. I was sent on a roller coaster ride that just sucked me in from page one. So where do I begin in describing how great this book was?
Let's see...Harry Potter is not the usual happy little guy that we've seen in the first four books. In fact, this book is filled with teenage angst that was pretty reasonable with Harry's situation. After watching a friend die in the previous book, almost being killed by Voldermot, and nobody believing him that the Dark Lord is back can cause anybody to be incredibly angry. What I found very interesting is how Rowling conveyed Harry's feelings. I too felt frustrated and full of anger reading many parts of the book. At first I thought this was horrible, but then I realized that that was what Rowling was trying to do. She wanted to make sure the reader connected with Harry, and she did a damn well job with that.
This book is filled with wonderful characters and I did not think that I would come to loath any characters until I read Professor Umbridge. My gosh, was she an evil woman! I've seen the movie first and knew that Umbridge was insane but I had no idea just how horrible she really was until reading Order of the Phoenix. This lady has no compassion but in fact enjoys controlling others and watching others suffer. It is incredibly creepy how sadistic she really is yet puts up a front of a very girlish woman. I have to say that I quite enjoyed her outcome in the story.
Harry Potter's story has really grown. It shows how real life is not always made up of happy endings but actual harsh realities. Even our heroes make mistakes that sometimes cannot be fixed. It is a story of survival and trying to find one's self. I really like where this series is going.
I give it:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays #13

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB from
Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's my teaser:

"When Felix turned around to face her again, he had a snake in his hand, its long brown body wriggling in an attempt to escape, but its captor brandished it high in the air, chanting lowly. Camille hadn't known about the snake, had never guessed one of the baskets was holding a living reptile, and she gasped."  ~ page 5 from The Taking by Erin McCarthy

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Hobbit Read-A-Long: Sign Ups

My awesome friend, Sarah, from Sawcat's Book Blog is hosting The Hobbit Read-a-Long in honor of the movie that is coming out this December. So far this is the schedule:

Oct 1 - Start
Oct 8 - Chapters 1 & 2
Oct 15 - Chapters 3 through 5
Oct 22 - Chapters 6 & 7
Oct 29 - Chapters 8 & 9
Nov 5 - Chapters 10 through 12
Nov 12 - Chapters 13 through 15
Nov 19 - Chapters 16 through 19 (End)

Not too bad. You can still read other books!

I've read this book over ten years ago and I've always wanted to re-read, and now I can! I am excited to participate in my first read-a-long and I really hope that you could join us. So hop on over to Sarah's blog.

H.P. Lovecraft Sundays #4

It's Sunday and it's time for H.P. Lovecraft! Here's the short that I read this morning:

3.5 stars

"I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more."

Begins this short story of a man, whose name is not mentioned, who is addicted to morphine and is having a mental collapse. He recounts the horrible tale when he was Merchant Marine and describes why he is in his present state.

In the early days of WWI, the ship that our main character was on was captured by Germans. He escapes on a lifeboat and is adrift at sea for many days. He soon despairs at the thought of never being found or of never finding land.

After a few days, the man awakens in the middle of black slime. He realizes that he is on some sort of disgusting land surrounded by dead fish. He comes to the conclusion that somehow there was a volcanic eruption which brought part of the ocean floor above sea level. He gets back on his boat and decides to wait a few more days for the ground to dry.

On the third day, the land is dry enough to walk on. The man ventures out in hopes to find freedom. He soon finds a white stone protruding from the ground. He learns that it's a monolith that has strange hieroglyphs depicting unknown sea creatures and weird humanoids. As he studies the monolith, he then becomes petrified when he sees a horrific creature coming out of the water near the monolith.

This story was incredibly short but packed with many details. It is obvious that this story is the beginning of the Cthulu Mythos that Lovecraft is famous for. The description of the black land was too vivid and I felt sorry for the main character. It would be terrifying to be in his situation.

The ending was also a little surprising, but not as strong as the rest of the story. In all, it was a great read.

If you would like to read this short story, you can visit the H.P. Lovecraft Archives or you could listen to the audio book below. Also below the audio, there's a short animated film interpretation of "Dagon." Enjoy!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Friday Hops, Sept. 21st

Crazy-for-Books is running this Book Blogger Hop to help connect book bloggers with other fellow book bloggers. Here's this week's question:

Blogging Question: What is one thing that your blog readers probably do not know about you?

Okay...I was (and still am) a HUGE Sailor Moon fan. Yes, I loved my blonde girl with meatballs on her head.

Gosh, I used to own the comics, posters, stickers, bookmarks, pencils, trading cards, and anything that had Sailor Moon on it. Right now, I only own the whole series on DVD.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!
Q: What hyped up book do you think was worth all the talk?

Harry Potter!!!! I am still reading the series but I am in love with it! I can't believe it took me so long to finally start reading the whole series. I read the first book back over 10 years ago. I didn't pick up the rest of the series but just a few months ago.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays #12

It's been a while since I've done one. Glad to have some time this morning.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB from Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's my teaser:

"He looked back at the parchment, placed the quill upon it once more, wrote I must not tell lies, and felt the searing pain on the back of his hand for a second time; once again the words had been cut into his skin, once again they healed over seconds later." ~ page 267 from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Sunday, September 16, 2012

H.P. Lovecraft Sundays #3

It's Sunday and it's time for H.P. Lovecraft. Here's the third story I read:

"The Tomb"
3.5 stars

“Sedibus ut saltem placidis in morte quiescam.”
This short story starts off with a quote that translates to, "At least in death I'll find a peaceful haven". It gives the reader a sense as to what is going to happen in the story.

Jervas Dudley is a dreamer who prefers the company of written works and coffins instead of spending time with other boys. He tells his story on how he found himself in his present predicament of being confined in a room for being mad.

As a young boy, Jervas loved to visit graveyards. In one of his visits, he finds a tomb of a very old, rich family whose home burnt down years ago. Jarves becomes fascinated with the tomb and tries to find a way to get inside it, but it is sealed shut with age. Every night, Jervas visits the vault and sleeps outside in hopes that he will find a way inside.

When Jarves becomes a young man, he notices a change with the vault and quickly decides that he must open it. He finds the key to open it and goes inside. There he finds the coffins of the Hyde family. What astounds him even more is when he finds an empty coffin with his name on it. Instead of being frightened to find his coffin already there, Jarves becomes obsess with the idea that he must sleep in his coffin and make it his new home.

In the meantime, Jarves' parents become very worried about him and hire a man to spy on their only son. The spy follows Jarves to the cemetery every night. He soon reveals to the parents that Jarves has never really gone into the vault but instead only sleeps outside of it.

The reader than starts to wonder the reality of the story. Was Jarves imagining everything? Did he really see a coffin with his name on it? Has he really gone mad? These questions are the central themes of the short story.

Though it was not scary, I did quite enjoy reading the novella. This is the first short story that H.P. Lovecraft wrote as an adult and I really like how this short story starts to show what Lovecraft has become famous for.

Lovecraft is well know for question the dream world versus the real world.  Jarves story was quite predictable but I loved the fact how it had me scratching my head and wondering what was real or not. It has excited me to keep going with Lovecraft's stories and read about more of the strange worlds he created.

If you are interested in reading this short story, you can visit the H.P. Lovecraft Archives or listen to the audio below:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Synopsis: Harry Potter is midway through his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup. He wants to find out about the mysterious event that's supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn't happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. But unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal - even by wizarding standards. And in his case, different can be deadly.

My thoughts: This is the fourth book in the Harry Potter series and so far it is the best book. It is definitely much longer than the first three and it’s very “grown up” compared to the others. Things really get serious and things really begin to happen.
Evil is immediately introduced in the book. First, it opens up with how the Riddles were killed off by a mysterious man. Then, Harry Potter has a vision of Lord Voldermot killing an innocent Muggle and wakes up in pain from his scar. Next, the Death Eaters attack the wizards and the few Muggles in attendance at the International Quidditch Cup and the Death Mark is spotted in the sky. Last, Harry Potter gets chosen to be the fourth Triwizard champion, which shows that somebody is out to kill him.
I was amazed on how dark and serious this book got. I was so used to the cute, innocent, and silly happenings from the first three books that reading this one made my mouth drop a few times. The subject matter of this book did not stop me from reading it. In fact, it hooked me in even more and made me feel more connected to the characters.
Of course, not all was dark. There were many funny moments in this book. I laughed at Fred and George’s crazy acts, and I loved how they “accidently” dropped a candy in front of Dudley. I giggled when Hagrid tried to take care of the screwts and tried so hard to look good for Madame Maxine. Also, I found it hilarious that the house elf, Winky, becomes a drunkard.  All these funny moments were great ways in living up this book.
As I keep reading the series, I find myself falling in love with it even more. I do admit that this book was a little long and I do dread at the fact that the next book is even longer. But…I can’t wait to get started on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

H.P. Lovecraft Sundays #2

Sundays is the day that I post up my H.P. Lovecraft reads. Here's the review of the second short story in my massive collection:

The Alchemist by Rick Sardinha
"The Alchemist"
3 stars

"High up, crowning the grassy summit of a swelling mound whose sides are wooded near the base with the gnarled trees of the primeval forest, stands the old chateau of my ancestors."

Begins this short story told by Count Antoine de C-. Antoine describes how his family's castle is now in ruins and that only a tower is still livable in the castle. He lives alone in this tower as he nears his doomed death. He wants answers to his family's history and wants to learn how to break the family curse: every heir dies when he reaches the age of 32.

Antoine recounts how a few years back he was given a family document by his servant and guardian, Pierre, about the family curse. The document describes how hundreds of years ago, Antoine's ancestor, Henri, was responsible of the death of a dark wizard named Michele Mauvis. Michele's son, Charles le Sorcier, swears revenge on the house of C- by cursing the heirs to die at the age of 32, the same age that Henri is killed by Charles. The document then shows the family's facts on how all the men in the C- household have died of mysterious deaths by the age of 32. Antoine becomes frightened for his future.

As Antoine nears the dreaded age, Pierre dies leaving Antoine alone with his fears and curiosities. Antoine decides not to die in vain and instead starts to search through his castle and tries to uncover its mysteries.

He soon finds himself in the dungeons of the castle. As he walks down the dark hallways, he discovers a trapdoor that leads to a secretive tunnel that leads to a locked door. Unable to open the door, Antoine tries to head back to the entrance of the trapdoor. All of a sudden, Antoine hears the locked door creak open behind him.

Up to this point, "The Alchemist" was somewhat dull for me because it was obvious that Lovecraft was trying to embody the works of previous writers, especially Poe. I did not fault Lovecraft as much since he was only 17 when he wrote this and he was still experimenting with his style of writing.

The part of the locked door creaking open was creepy for me. I found my heart thumping at the thought of being in the dungeons by myself in the darkness and all of a sudden a door opens to reveal a dark figure. I would have run away instead of staying put like Antoine did.

I was also disappointed with the ending of the story. It was suppose to be shocking because the mysterious "phantom" reveals his true identity in the last sentences. This ending was not strong because the reader learns the identity a few paragraphs back.

Other than these disappointments, I did like reading it. It was short and much easier to read than his other works. In all, it was a decent short story.

If you are interested in reading "The Alchemist," then you can visit The H.P. Lovecraft Archive or listen to the audio book below:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Hops, 9/7/12

It's my BIRTHDAY!!!! What do I want to do? Sleep in :) But I must go to work and do my job. In the meantime, here are this Friday's hops:

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!
Q: What book(s) are you reading right now? What do you think of it?

A: I am still reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. I am determined to finish this series, but my hectic schedule is not letting me. I am loving the book so far and I can't help but laugh at all the silly things that happen in the story. So far, I think this is the best Harry Potter book in the series (yes, this is my first read).


Crazy-for-Books is running this Book Blogger Hop to help connect book bloggers with other fellow book bloggers. Here's this week's question:
Q: What book series do you never want to see end?

A: It's funny but it's very rare when I do finish a series. If I do, they are usually trilogies. The one series that I did finish reading and wished that it didn't end was the Hathaway Series by Lisa Kleypas. I loved the Hathaway siblings and I fell in love with their romantic stories. Books 4 and 5 were my absolute favorites and perhaps the funniest in the series. The last book, especially, had me smiling from the beginning to the very end.

Also, Harry Potter is another series I wished it didn't end. As I am reading the fourth book, I am falling in love with the series even more. It saddens me that I'm getting closer to the end.


What about you?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wild Wednesdays #11

Wild Wednesdays is my weekly (or biweekly) event where I get to share with you all the wonderful books I've gotten. Feel free to join me if you'll like.

Last week I didn't do one since I was very good to keep my TBR pile low, but this week I received two books!

To the left, I've received A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin as a RAK for August. To the right, I found Fluke by Christopher Moore for 50 cents at my library's bin. Can't beat free books and great deals!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Winners of the 3 ARC Copies to The Angels' Share

for the 3 ARC copies to The Angel's Share by Rayme Waters are: Dana, Michele, & Beth!!!!

Congrats ladies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

Synopsis: She was only two feet, eight inches tall, but more than a century later, her legend reaches out to us. As a child, Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Warren Bump was encouraged to live a life hidden away from the public. Instead, she reached out to the immortal impresario P. T. Barnum, married the tiny superstar General Tom Thumb in the wedding of the century, and became the world’s most unexpected celebrity. Vinnie’s wedding captivated the nation, preempted coverage of the Civil War, and even ushered her into the White House. But her fame also endangered the person she prized most: her similarly sized sister, Minnie, a gentle soul unable to escape the glare of Vinnie’s spotlight.

My thoughts: Oh, I fell in love with this book! This is my first Melanie Benjamin book and it did not disappoint. I found myself wishing that I didn't have to work just so I could go back to my reading.

I was captivated with the story that was filled with historical facts that I was not aware of (though I know some of these facts might have been embellished). I found it very interesting how every chapter had an "Intermission" where one or two historical articles gave the reader insight as to what was happening in the U.S. during the time of the story. Also, I greatly enjoyed how these facts were interwoven with Vinnie's story and how she tried to make a big name for herself. The facts made the story richer.

I also fell in love with the characters. Though she was a very tiny woman, Vinnie was brave and strong-willed. She went out against her parents wishes so she could achieve her dreams. Yes, she could have been a little heart-less but this only made her more human. General Tom Thumb was an innocent man who wanted to be loved by everyone. I thought he was such a sweet soul and it made me feel bad how Vinnie put a distance between them in their married life. P. T. Barnum was an admirable character and I greatly enjoyed the fact how he treated Vinnie as his equal. Though I did have to admit that I suspected him to do something bad throughout the book. And then there's Minnie, Vinnie's little sister. Oh, I just loved her! The way these characters were described in the book made me admire the actual people they were based on.

In all, this book has now become one of my new favorites. I loved the fact how it had me hooked from the beginning, how it taught me valuable facts from history, and how it made me tear up towards the end. I haven't read Melanie Benjamin's first book, Alice I have Been, but I sure want to now!

I give it:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

H.P. Lovecraft Sundays #1

I am excited to get started on my goal of reading my massive edition of Barnes & Noble's H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction. Here's the first story:

"The Beast in the Cave"
3.5 stars

"The horrible conclusion which had been gradually obtruding itself upon my confused and reluctant mind was now an awful certainty."

This is how the short story begins of a man who is lost in the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. The man tells us how he stupidly decided to stray away from the tour group so he could see the cave more closely himself. He soon realizes that he has lost his bearings and has no idea where the tour group could be. What makes it worse, his light torch is fading and he is soon engulfed by the cave's darkness.

The man despairs at the thought of never finding a way out. He soon gives up his search for an exit and decides to let fate choose his life. He remembers that there were stories of people living in the cave and he starts to wonder if he too could live in the cave.

As he is wondering about his life, the man suddenly hears footsteps and believes that it's the tour guide trying to find him. When the steps get closer, the man soon realizes that "these footfalls were not like those of any mortal man." The man soon hears heavy breathing and starts to imagine the worst type of creature.

I thought this short story (and it was quite short) was written very well. It is not Lovecraft's best work but I am amazed on how intricately it was written (I had to have a dictionary next to me). I am especially in awe for the fact that this was written when Lovecraft was only 15 years old!

I enjoyed the descriptions on how our mind plays tricks on us when we are scared and when we are in the dark. Like the man, I too would have been freaking out if I were lost in a pitch-black cave and I too would be imagining the worst kind of creatures with every little noise.

The ending leaves you with a big bang when you realize what the "beast" really is. It's funny because Lovecraft gives you lots of hints throughout the story to give you a clue who the antagonist is. I re-read it and couldn't help slap myself in the forehead for not realizing it sooner.

In all, I greatly enjoyed this short story that introduces H.P. Lovecraft's wonderful works. Now on to the next one!

If you are interested in reading this short story you can get the free electronic book online at the H.P. Lovecraft Archive or you could listen to the audio below.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

RAK: September Sign-Up

So excited! This is my birthday month!!!!


RAK (Random Acts of Kindness)is hosted by Book Soulmates and you can join the fun here. RAK is a monthly event where you sign up and share your book wishlist. Then you can view other's wishlists and send them a Random Act of Kindness. Isn't this neat?!

Please read carefully & follow all rules! Thank you!

  • Please sign-up each month that you can participate (and by participate, we mean give as well as receive).
  • Show off your participation by grabbing our RAK button (code is in the right sidebar).
  • Create a wish list (on Amazon, Goodreads, or your blog, etc) and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month.
  • If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wish list and contact that blogger directly for their information.
  • Once you receive a RAK, send us an our new email to [rakbybooksoulmates @ gmail . com] so that we can update the Google Doc. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU SEND EMAILS TO THIS ADDRESS!
  • E-book participation is limited to files being gifted directly to a person from the e-book store. Amazon's Kindle Store is set up to allow this, as well as the Kobo store and we believe Barnes & Noble with Nook as well.
  • At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K by making a "RAK Wrap-Up" post. This post should include who you SENT gifts to as well who you RECEIVED gifts from :)
Just click on the link on top so you could join the fun!

I am number 38 in the RAK list. Here are my top 5 books:

1. The Discovery of Witches by Deborah E. Harkness
2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
3. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
4. The Phantom of the Opera: Illustrated & Unabridge by Gaston Leroux & Randy Lofficier
5. Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
6. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas
7. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
    (the first two have been offered to me)

Check out my wishlist.

Look at My RAK: August Wrap-Up (Update 9/1)

 August is over and it's time to share the RAK I received for August. This was my second month in participating and I have to say that it was exciting. The lovely Morgan from Nothing Better than a Book sent me Of Love and Evil by Anne Rice. *Update* Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin just arrived in the mail today!!! Woo hoo! The wonderful Michelle from Beagle Book Space sent it to me.

I also sent a book out to a fabulous person in Japan. I hope she loves the book!


Visit Book Soulmates for more information to join this montly event.