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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book Review: The Fairy’s Return and Other Princess Tales

The Fairy’s Return and Other Princess Tales 
Gail Carson Levine

Genre: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication: 2009
Format: Paperback, 390 pages
Buy: Amazon

The Fairy’s Return and Other Princess Tales is a collection of fairy tales that are retold by Gail Carson Levine. The book contained six princesses’ short stories — The Fairy Mistake (Toads and Princesses), The Princess Test (The Princess and The Pea), Princess Sonora and The Long Sleep (Sleeping Beauty), Cinderellis and The Glass Hills (The Princess and The Glass Hills), For Biddle’s Sake (Puddocky) and The Fairy’s Return (The Golden Goose).

I was a bit skeptical after reading the first story, The Fairy Mistake. I knew that I’ve heard the story before and I wasn’t expecting that Levine would do a good job on retelling other stories. But halfway through the book, I fell in love with Levine’s Princess Sonora and The Long Sleep — Levine’s version of Sleeping Beauty. This story is my favorite among all of them. In this version, Princess Sonora was granted with intelligence. She can talk when she was just a baby. Instead of avoiding herself from the curse where she would be prick by a spindle, she decided to prick herself when the right time comes. But then, an accident occurred…

The story was short and sweet. I kind of like Levine’s style in this book as compared to the last book I read from her, Ever. But I probably enjoy it a bit more if I were a child.

Book cover’s description:
What would you do if diamonds and rubies tumbled out of your mouth every time you spoke? Well, that′s what happens to Rosella after a run with a misguided fairy in "A Fairy′s Mistake." If you were turned into a toad, would you pine after your prince as much as Parsley does in "For Biddle′s Sake?"

The road to happily-ever-after is never easy, but the masterful touch of Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine will keep readers laughing their way through these fresh retellings of popular fairy tales.
All six of Gail Carson Levine′s beloved PRINCESS TALES in one book!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Review: Gastro Detective

Gastro Detective: A Frank Bruno Novel
Vincent McConeghy

Genre: Mystery, Crime, Culinary
Publication:  November, 2010
Website: Gastro Detective
Buy: Amazon

As a foodie, a culinary arts graduate and a mystery lover, I just can’t ignore this book. The synopsis and cover piqued me to read this book! Gastro Detective is more than a culinary-mystery book as I expected it would be. The author also included a bit of economy – food inflation and politic in his writing. I haven’t read much book as this one. I think it’s quite refreshing to learn on what’s been happening to the food industry.

I really enjoy the book. I love McConeghy style and humor. I like the concept of Frank Bruno as a food detective. I was definitely hooked up with the opening chapter. But I was a bit disappointed with the ending. Sure, I like the twist McConeghy had in the book. But I think the ending could have been better. I wish Frank Bruno would do more investigation on the murder. I wish McConeghy would focus more on the thriller and mystery in his writing.

I think this is my first book from an indie writer!

Book cover description:
Gastro Detective marks the advent of a new genre for the fiction thriller category-the Resto Thriller- where food, finance, global politics and the recurring drama of the restaurant business collide with dramatic and unexpected consequences.

Chef Joe Bass, owner of a celebrated regional restaurant and well-known television personality on Food Network, has been murdered in the kitchen of his eponymous restaurant. His sudden and unexpected demise prompts the return of life-long friend Frank Bruno, who is also immersed in a high-level facet of the food industry for the U.S. government, far beyond the machinations of sole proprietorship.

Yet, as the nitty-gritty of a return to life in the restaurant business envelopes him, Frank Bruno is reminded that the fundamentals of food, family and restaurants remain the same.

It’s a hands-on business where everyone’s hands are dirty.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

#7 Teaser Tuesday: Gastro Detective

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of 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!

Suddenly, his cell phone vibrated, alerting him to a text messages from, of all people, Cousin Leonard Krolewski. "Babe has been a rested...Should I open the restaurant." - Page 187, Gastro Detective, Vincent McConeghy.
I picked up another random book from store. It's a culinary related book with a hint of murder and mystery. But this book isn't really what I expected...

Oh... I just noticed that I missed last week Teaser Tuesday.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Review: The Cat Who Could Read Backwards

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (Cat Who... #1)
Lilian Jackson Braun

Genre: Mystery, Crime
Publication:  1966

Jim Qwilleran was assigned as the art writer for the Daily Fluxion although he knew not much about it. Daily Fluxion had one art critique, George Bonifield Mountclemens.

As Qwilleran began to learn more of local arts, he discovered that not many of the artists like the art critique. Because of that, he was curious to know who the art critique is and wanted to meet him. Soon, he started to befriend with the Mountclemens and his Siamese cat, Ko K'ao Kung or Koko. Koko is a really smart Siamese cat who could read newspaper headline backwards.

When Koko's owner is found murdered, Qwilleran started to look after Koko. Qwilleran then started to find out who the murderer is that murdered Mountclemens and two other people with the help of Koko.

I knew I have to read this book the minute I saw the title (it's catchy!). Besides, I think I've seen Gosho Aoyama (creator of Detective Conan) featuring Koko as a detective at the back cover of Detective Conan volume 61. And I thought that this book is probably going to be good.

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards was a fun, cozy mystery read. I love Braun writing style. It's relaxing and not boring at all. But I love the book (and Koko!) I enjoyed the book and look forward to read the continuation of the series.

Book cover description:
The world of modern art is a mystery to many. But for Jim Qwilleran, it turns into a mystery of another sort when his assignment to the art beat for The Daily Fluxion leads down the path to murder. A stabbing in an art gallery, vandalized paintings, a fatal fall from a scaffolding--this is not at all what Qwilleran expects when he turns his reportorial talents to art. But Qwilleran and his newly found partner, Koko the brilliant Siamese, are back in their element--sniffing out clues and confounding criminals intent on mayhem and murder.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review: Wife For Hire

Wife for Hire (published as Loveswept in 1990)
Janet Evanovich

Genre: Romance
Publication:  2007 (first published 1990)
Rating: 2/5

Hank Mallone knows he's in trouble when Maggie Toone agrees to pretend to be his wife in order to improve his rogue's reputation. Will his harebrained scheme to get a bank loan for his business backfire once Maggie arrives in his small Vermont town and lets the gossips take a look?

Maggie never expected her employer to be drop-dead handsome, but she's too intrigued by his offer to say no . . . and too eager to escape a life that made her feel trapped. The deal is strictly business, both agree, until Hank turns out to be every fantasy she ever had.

I’m a fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. When I saw this book, I knew that I have to read it. Wife for Hire is one of Evanovich’s early works before the Stephanie Plum series. Besides, I’ve read Love Overboard and thought that it was quite good.  

But I was a bit disappointed with this one. The plot was unbelievable, flat and boring. Most of all, I couldn’t believe that the characters fell in love with each other in a single day. It was dumb since there wasn’t much attraction going on in the book. I’m really frustrated with this one. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Book Review: A Hopeless Romantic

A Hopeless Romantic
Harriet Evans

Chick Lit, Romance
Publication: 2007
Rating: 3/5

Laura Foster is a hopeless romantic. Her friends know it, her parents know it - even Laura acknowledges she lives either with her head in the clouds or buried in a romance novel. It's proved harmless enough, even if it hasn't delivered her a real-life dashing hero yet. But when her latest relationship ends in a disaster that costs her friendships, her job, and nearly her sanity, Laura swears off men and hopeless romantic fantasies for good.

With her life in tatters around her, Laura agrees to go on vacation with her parents. After a few days of visiting craft shops and touring the stately homes of England, Laura is ready to tear her hair out. And then, while visiting grand Chartley Hall, she crosses paths with Nick, the sexy, rugged estate manager. She finds she shares more than a sense of humor with him - in fact, she starts to think she could fall for him. But is Nick all he seems? Or has Laura got it wrong again? Will she open her heart only to have it broken again?

I have a love-hate relationship with the Laura. At didn’t like her at first. But when I started to like her, she  do something that makes me dislike her again. And there were times when I thought of her as an idiot. I think it’s okay to have your head in the clouds. But when you jeopardize your life, career and anything else for the sake of a guy, I think that it’s really stupid.

However, I still enjoy the book. There are a few moments that made me smile, and a few jokes that made me laugh. Overall, A Hopeless Romantic is a light and fun read.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book Review: Coraline

Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell

Format: Graphic Novel
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror
Publication: 2008
Rating: 3/5

Coraline's often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.

I read the graphic novel while waiting for my sister studying in the library. This graphic novel is an adaption of Neil Gaiman's novel with the same title, Coraline and illustrated by P. Craig Russell.

It was an interesting read. I really enjoy the book. It was a short and easy read. I love the character, the adventure she had to save her parents and the people she met (including the talking cat!). However I found that the illustration was a bit creepy for my liking.

Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication: 2009
Rating: 4/5

Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. The Hunger Games have begun...

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, the shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before--and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love - Goodreads

Borrowed the book from a friend of my sister. Lucky!

I admit that the book is even better than the movie. I love the details on the book. Most of all, I love how the writer engaged me with the main character. Good book. Great plot. I like it a lot. Although I wasn’t crazy about it. But I’d like to read the continuation of the book. I have the feeling that the story is going to be much more interesting.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Book Review: Ever

Gail Carson Levine

Pages: 244
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publication: 2008
Rating: 2/5

Falling in love is easy . . .

. . . for Kezi, a beautiful mortal, dancer, and rug weaver, and for Olus, Akkan god of the winds. Their love brings Kezi the strength to fight her fate, and it gives Olus the strength to confront his fears. Together—and apart—they encounter spiders with webs of iron, the cruel lord of the land of the dead, the mysterious god of destiny, and the tests of the Akkan gods. If they succeed, they will be together; but if they fail, Olus will have to endure the ultimate loss, and Kezi will have to make the supreme sacrifice.

I’m a big fan of Ella Enchanted. I read it a few years ago and immediately smitten with Levine’s story telling. It was fun, witty and I absolutely adore the character. However, I was a bit disappointed with this book. 

Ever was written with Olus and Kezi’s narration switching with each chapter. I find that Levine’s writing style was different in this book. It is too simple. It almost makes me feel like the sentences were not complete. What sadden me was that the romance between Olus and Kezi seemed a bit rushed. I thought the story—the love story was bland. The character was bland.

Great  plot, easy read. But I think the story could be developed into something better.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Review: Curses! A F**ked-Up Fairy Tale

Curses! A F**ked-Up Fairy Tale
J.A Kazimer

Paperback: 320 pages
Genre: Humor, Mystery, Fairy Tale, Fantasy
Publication: March 2012
Rating: 4/5

I'm no hero. In fact, up until a couple of days ago, I was the villain. Kidnapped maidens, scared kids, stole magic tchotchkes--until I got into a little scrape with the union. Now I'm cursed with the worst fate in New Never City--no matter what I do, I gotta be nice.

So when a head-case princess named Asia barges into my apartment and asks me to find out who whacked her stepsister, Cinderella, I have no choice but to help her. And I'm more than willing to head back to her parents' castle and do some investigating if it means I can get into her black leather cat suit. Except this twisted sister has a family nutty enough to send the Biggest Baddest Wolf running for the hills--and a freaky little curse of her own...

I actually bought this book because I was attracted to the title and synopsis. The instant I read the title, ‘Curses! A F**ked-Up Fairy Tale’ I knew that it’s not going to be an ordinary fairy tale.

RJ, the hero or villain, had no choice but to help princess Asia to find out who killed her stepsister, Cinderella (or Cindi), because he was cursed to be nice to people (and suffered from it). That and he wanted to see the princess naked. As he went over to Asia’s castle and starting to ask around for his investigation, more murder occurred! Will he ever find out what’s going on? You just have to read this book to find out about it.

This book is a fairytale laced with mystery, romance and lots of humor. It was demented and absolutely hilarious (lots of laugh out loud moment)! How could I ever resist such book? I have to say that I certainly did not regret from reading this book.

#6 Teaser Tuesday: A Hopeless Romantic

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of 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!

She opened her chest of drawers, and pulled a bundle of letters from Adam, her Romantic poets university boyfriend, a series of cards from Josh, and the tiny, pethatic scraps of memories she had from Dan. A photo of him. - Page 103, A Hopeless Romantic, Harriet Evans.
 Pretty cover, interesting synopsis and good rating. Those are the reasons why I pick this book. Although, it was quite thick! There's 500++ pages! I hope it's going to be an interesting read.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Book Review: Bone in the Throat

Title: Bone in the Throat
Author: Anthony Bourdain
Genre: Crime, Thriller, Culinary
Publication: 2000
Rating: 1/5

When up-and-coming chef Tommy Pagana settles for a less than glamorous stint at his uncle's restaurant in Manhattan's Little Italy, he unwittingly finds himself a partner in big-time crime. And when the mob decides to use the kitchen for a murder, nothing Tommy learned in cooking school has prepared him for what happens next. With the FBI on one side, and his eccentric wise guy superiors on the other, Tommy has to struggle to do right by his conscience, and to avoid getting killed in the meantime. 

I like Anthony Bourdain as a chef and I like his TV shows. I got this book because I was curious to know how Bourdain would write a fiction. Besides, I always love a culinary/food related mystery/crime/thriller books. 

However, I’m sorry to say that I was greatly disappointed with this book. The pace is slow, the dialogue is poor and boring and the characters are poorly constructed. I had a hard time keeping track of what’s going on and who the characters are. There was nothing special about the characters. It’s like they didn’t have their own personality. 

I was annoyed to see that almost everyone in this book used foul languages. There are too much unnecessary details and parts where I deemed that it would be better if it wasn’t there. I’m sorry Bourdain. I don’t think that I’m going to read another fiction from you :(

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

#5 Teaser Tuesday: Bone in the Throat

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of 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!

He felt the hair on the back of his neck rising. Somebody could be there, looking up at me right now, and I would't know it - page 118, Bone in the Throat, Anthony Bourdain.
I never knew that Anthony Bourdain write novels!

Book Review: Undead and Unwed

Title: Undead and Unwed (Undead #1)
Author: Mary Janice Davidson
Genre: Romance, Chick Lit, Paranormal
Publication: 2004
Rating: 3/5

It'a been a helluva week for Betsy Taylor. First, she loses her job. Then, to top things off, she's killed in a car accident. But what really bites (besides waking up in the morgue dressed in a pink suit and cheap shoes courtesy of her stepmother) is that she can't seem to stay dead. Every night she rises with a horrible craving for blood. She's not taking too well to a liquid diet. 

Worst of all, her new friends have the ridiculous idea that Betsy is the prophesied vampire queen, and they want her help in overthrowing the most obnoxious, power-hungry vampire in five centuries - a badly dressed Bela Lugosi wannabe, natch. Frankly, Betsy couldn't care less about vamp politics, but they have a powerful weapon of persuasion: designer shoes. How can any self-respecting girl say now? But a collection of Ferragamos isn't the only temptation for Betsy. It's just a lot safer than the scrumptious Sinclair - a seductive bloodsucker whose sexy gaze seems as dangerous as a stake through the heart..

I was blog walking to a few chiclit book review blog and found out about this book. When I saw the rating and synopsis, I know I just have to try and read this one. Plus, I have never read any paranormal romance/chiclit before... 

Betsy is fun, kind-hearted and loud girl with an obsession towards designer shoes. She tried to live her life as if she wasn’t undead, but found herself caught in a war between vampires; Nostro and Sinclair. Plus her new vampire friend, Tina, seemed to think that Betsy is the prophesied vampire queen and she wanted Betsy to join side with Sinclair. Not that Betsy cared about the war. But when she was bribed with a few designer shoes in exchange to help Sinclair... Well that’s a different story.

I like Betsy’s human sidekick, Marc; the doctor and Jessica; the billionaire. And I really, really love her relationship with Sinclair. They started off in the wrong foot, and their relationship gets better towards the end. Or is it?

Undead and Unwed was a fast and fun read. The story started off a bit slow with Betsy trying to adjust her new life and picked up the speed towards the end. I definitely recommended for anyone who loves to read something light and funny.


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