Book Review: The Sweetest Spell

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Author: Suzanne Selfors

Published: August 21st 2012 by Walkers Children

Blurb:

Emmeline Thistle, a dirt-scratcher’s daughter, has escaped death twice-first, on the night she was born, and second, on the day her entire village was swept away by flood. Left with nothing and no one, Emmeline discovers her rare and mysterious ability-she can churn milk into chocolate, a delicacy more precious than gold.

Suddenly, the most unwanted girl in Anglund finds herself desired by all. But Emmeline only wants one-Owen Oak, a dairyman’s son, whose slow smiles and lingering glances once tempted her to believe she might someday be loved for herself. But others will stop at nothing to use her gift for their own gains-no matter what the cost to Emmeline.

Magic and romance entwine in this fantastical world where true love and chocolate conquer all. Continue reading

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Book Review: A School For Unusual Girls

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Author: Kathleen Baldwin

Published: May 19th 2015 by Tor Teen

Blurb:

It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don’t fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle them in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts… Continue reading

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Book Review: The Shattered Crown

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Author: J. W. Webb

Published: March 5th 2015

Blurb:

‘You ride into peril, Corin an Fol!’

Those are the words of the witch at the ford. Corin an Fol, mercenary, brawler, womaniser and drinker, ignores them and thus finds himself caught in a tangled web of sorcery, intrigue and dark prophesy.

When the High King is murdered and his broken crown goes missing, Queen Ariane suspects the wily hand of Caswallon the sorcerer. She forms a secret council and rides out to find the Oracle of her Goddess, to see if her worries are proved right. But Caswallon is onto her and the noose tightens fast around the young queen.

Corin an Fol returns to his village seeking solace in drink. Instead he finds an old contact waiting for him who persuades him to join Queen Ariane in her fight against Caswallon. And so, like the queen, Corin an Fol is snared by the sorcerer. Our boy has a big sword and bad attitude, but is that enough to survive the hordes Caswallon sends against them?

Review:

A millennium after the previous book, Gol, The Shattered Crown focuses on a new hero, a mercenary named Corin An Fol. Just as calamity has struck Gol a thousand years before, now the same thing happens within the Four Kingdoms and the surrounding land as war is threatening to begin anew. The murder of the High King is only the beginning of everything. Continue reading

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Book Review: GILA: A Journey Through Moods & Madness

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Author: Hanna Alkaf

Published: 2016 by Gerakbudaya

I thought of giving books written by local authors a try when my eyes happened upon this title. The title fascinated me and the book cover conveyed exactly what the book was going to be about. Looking closely at the art, it seems to me as if the letter “I” was a needle that was going to stab the apparently tortured figure at the bottom right corner. “Gila” is a Malay word which translates to “insane” or “crazy” in the English language.

As stated on the back of the book, GILA was to be a book which compiles stories of people with mental-illnesses and how it affects their lives. Frankly, that was what pushed me to get this book apart from the fact that I thought I should give Malaysian books a try. I had always wanted to read more about mental-illnesses in Malaysia and since it’s not exactly a popular topic in this country, this book was really a rare find for me. Continue reading

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2016 Wrap-up

It’s already the end of the year already, and this year has really been a year full of changes for me, entering university and everything. Although I’ve been reading everywhere on Facebook that 2016 isn’t really a good year, I still feel blessed. As 2017 is starting soon (tomorrow, in fact) I can’t say I have many resolutions apart from surpassing the 2016 version of me. I would like to read more book next year than I did this year and review more books even while I cope with university assignments and tests. I don’t want to use university as an excuse for not reading.

I want to perhaps try writing stories again. Ever since entering university, I’ve got plenty of inspirations for writing short stories which I have written down in a small notebook. I certainly hope I can begin working on those ideas before my notebook overflows with those ideas.

Like I said, I plan on surpassing myself, so naturally that involves my studies too. It’s going to be a very busy 2017 and I want to use every single minute of it productively, whether it’s reading, reviewing, studying or writing. I just want to do the best that I can.

And perhaps I should not put that high an expectation on the number of books I want to read next year. My 2016 Goodreads reading goal was a hundred books and I’ve barely read past 50 books. I should probably tone that down a little next year.

Before I end the final post of the year 2016, I would love to wish every single person reading this to have a wonderful 2017. Even though things might not turn out as you hoped next year, that’s still not a reason to let it ruin your year. The best thing to do is to always look forward for tomorrow and to try your best again and again.

That’s all from me! Time to go back to studying for my finals. No end-of-year celebration for me this time.

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Book Review: Someday

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Author: Alison McGhee

Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds

Published: December 15th 2015 by Little Simon (First published January 1st 2007)

The transition from a baby, to a child and finally to an adult is something that happens to everyone but to a mother’s eyes, her baby will always remain her baby even though grown up. Someday is about a mother’s dreams and hopes for her child; that she will live life to the fullest, that she would learn to experience everything in life and that she would one day be a mother herself.

Someday is a picture book not necessarily meant for children. I recommend this book to everyone because it reminds us of a mother’s love for us. Even to those who don’t have the opportunity to know their mothers, this book gives of a sense of being loved and how we should have dreams for our children in the future. Continue reading

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Big Bad Wolf 2016

This year is the first time I went to the largest book sale in Malaysia held in Selangor: Big Bad Wolf. The previous times I took part in the book sale was when it was held in my home state, Perak. The Big Bad Wolf book sale in Selangor is really one of a kind because it is held for 24 hours for ten days from the ninth of December till the nineteenth of December. Talk about the best time to do some Christmas shopping.

There was a large variety of books ranging from children’s books to general fiction to cookery books and architect and design books. I had to put a stopper to my ever growing pile of books and to my ever lessening purse. My year end book haul this year consists of only 14 books.

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I bought three novels and the rest were reference books and scientific books. I was especially in love with the encyclopedia of Dogs and Puppies. The only problem now is finding a place in my cramped space to put these books until the semester break.

The star of the book sale was definitely this display of the complete boxed set of the tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. I had my eyes on it but the whole set cost a staggering RM350 which, is definitely more than I could afford.

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Now that I’m going to be considerably near to where they hold the yearly Big Bad Wolf Sale, hopefully I can get my hands on some even more interesting books next year. The titles for sale aren’t the latest but there is always a chance I can find a hidden gem in there somewhere. It’s a treasure trove of knowledge at the book sale and it’s a great event to cheer me up now that finals are approaching.

Now to go on revising and studying.

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Book Review: The Case of the Restless Redhead

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Author: Erle Stanley Gardner

Published: 1969 by Mayflower Books

What began as a friendly advice from Perry Mason to Frank Neely, a young lawyer, turned out to be a complex affair after Neely’s client, Evelyn Bagby, went to Mason to thank him for his help. Evelyn Bagby, was caught in a mess after she was caught by the authorities with a stolen diamond bracelet. With Mason’s help, Neely’s managed to get Evelyn acquitted. Much to her dismay, she soon finds herself tangled up in another messy affair in which she was the prime suspect to the murder of a man.

Perry Mason, with only his trust in Evelyn Bagby, must now obtain enough information and facts to free her from a crime which allegedly, she insists wasn’t of her doing.

This book was lent to me by a librarian friend of mine and I was interested to read about law and mystery rolled into one. To be honest, this is the first time I have ever heard of the fictional and exceptional lawyer, Perry Mason so I have no idea what to expect.

What I got, though, was how lawyers word their questions so precisely and so subtle that it can easily confuse the person at the witness stand. I wouldn’t know if lawyers in reality could fire off question after question successively in cross-examination but Perry Mason certainly can. Continue reading

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Book Review: Six-Gun Snow White

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Author: Catherynne M. Valente

Published: November 10th 2015 by Saga Press (First published February 28th 2013)

Blurb:

Forget the dark, enchanted forest. Picture instead a masterfully evoked Old West where you are more likely to find coyotes as the seven dwarves. Insert into this scene a plain-spoken, appealing narrator who relates the history of our heroine’s parents—a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. Although her mother’s life ended as hers began, so begins a remarkable tale: equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have. Filled with fascinating glimpses through the fabled looking glass and a close-up look at hard living in the gritty gun-slinging West, this is an utterly enchanting story…at once familiar and entirely new.

Review:

“She put jasper-and-pearl combs in my hair and yanked them so tight I cried – There, now you are a lady, she said… She put me in her own corsets like nooses strangling my waist till I was sick, my breath gone and my stomach shoved up into my ribs – There, now you’re civilized, she said… She forbade me to eat sweets or any good thing till I got thin as a dog and could hardly stand I was so damn hungry – There, now you’re beautiful, she said…” Continue reading

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One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview

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Author: Jason B. Ladd

Published: 2015 by Boone Shepherd

Blurb:

Everyone dies. Young or old, whether by accident, murder, natural disaster, or illness, death comes to every human being, and only rarely does the dealer show his hand. When the flame of life is extinguished, we exit the realm of time and enter into eternity.

For centuries, the great thinkers have labored to understand man’s purpose.

Can there be true meaning and significance in our lives no if there is no ultimate, objective meaning and existence now if there is no ultimate, objective meaning and existence after death? If our species is just a cosmic blip of evolved energy and matter, then will it matter what we were when our energy runs out? Human beings are either very special or very deluded. What do you believe about God? Your answer will lead to a worldview that shapes your thinking about humanity, the world, and what exists beyond. This question is a matter of life and death. A life pursuing the answer is well spent.

While this book will connect strongly with parents, it will benefit a wide group of readers. It will help the student struggling to make sense of the world. It will encourage men on a mission to find their faith and women desiring to share their convictions. It will help seekers exploring the concept of Christians struggling with doubt. It will help older Christians understand the new generation of skeptics and the youth to understand the faithfulness of their elders. It will help anyone tired of floating through life without direction, purpose, of hope. Continue reading

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