Welcome to Bookish Pursuits!

My name is Joyce and this is my humble playground in cyberspace where my insanity runs amok. I created this book blog with the intention of using it for my thoughts,opinions, and reviews on the books I've read and the books I want to read. This is also where I'll keep a tab of all the reading challenges I decide to participate in, and interesting excerpts from the books I'm reading, as well as any odds and ends related to books and reading.

If you're interested, feel free to follow me and I will probably return the favour.

I’m a voracious reader and I enjoy a variety of genres including young-adult, romance, classics, mystery, fantasy, and historical fiction.

I would love to hear book recommendations from fellow booklovers. So if you want to share a recommendation or two, you can check out my Never-ending Reading List and leave me any suggestions in any of the comments section below.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Finds (2)

FRIDAY FINDS is a weekly book meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can tag along! So come and join us.

What great books did you hear about, or find, this week? SHARE WITH US YOUR FRIDAY FINDS!

The books included in my Friday Finds posts are not books that I have bought (those are saved for my In My Mailbox post) but are the titles that I have come across in my book hopping time during the week –browsing book blogs, bookstores and online stores. These are the books that I've added on my Never-Ending Reading List throughout the week.

I had a blast of discovering some very wonderful books this week. Since I'm on a holiday, I've been busy updating my blog and reading some wonderful reviews of books and recommendations from fellow blogger and friends on book networking sites that I'm a part of. Most of my finds are young-adult books (which I've been devouring a lot lately) with a mix of romance, paranormal, historical, mystery and children's books.

Here are my Friday Finds for this week:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
(Synosis from Shelfari.com)

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight--she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po's friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace--or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone. With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

I discovered this book and this author upon a recommendation from a friend of mine from Shelfari. She told me that since I loved The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, that I would also enjoy reading this debut novel from author Kristin Cashore. So I did my little research and discovered that the book blogging world had already been buzzing about this book. The novel combined the elements that I enjoy in a book: fantasy, strong heroine and romance. I'm very excited to read it!

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
(Synopsis from Shelfari.com)

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. . . With these words the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room in the immense, foreboding estate were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten -- a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house's current occupants. And with an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim's first wife -- the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.

I found out about this book when it was chosen by two of the book clubs I'm a part of as November's Group Read. It' s the first time I'd ever heard of the book and the author. The synopsis may not be enough to merit your time but a lot of the reviews I've read said that there's more to this book than just the blurb. I'm so eager to find myself a copy of this book.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
(Synosis from Shelfari.com)

Boys don’t keep diaries—or do they? The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to. It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary. In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion. Author/illustrator Jeff Kinney recalls the growing pains of school life and introduces a new kind of hero who epitomizes the challenges of being a kid. As Greg says in his diary, “Just don’t expect me to be all ‘Dear Diary’ this and ‘Dear Diary’ that.” Luckily for us, what Greg Heffley says he won’t do and what he actually does are two very different things.

I'm proud to say that this book was recommended to me by an eight year-old girl I met at a local bookstore. I was happily sitting on a couch reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman when she approached me and asked if she could sit with me. I was happy to share the couch with her and noticed that she was holding a stack of books which I later found out to be the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I asked her about it and she told me about the adventures of Greg Heffley. Before she left, she told me that I'm not too old to read it and that I would also enjoy reading it. ^_^ So I'm definitely going to try and read this book.

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
(Synosis from Shelfari.com)

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father—the one responsible for ruining her mother's life. Then she's captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership. In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She's amazed she doesn't end up as his dinner—are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn't have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

I found out about this book because the book blogging world had been buzzing about the Night Huntress series by author Jeaniene Frost. I don't usually read urban fantasy romance novels but I'm willing to give this book a try and see where it goes.

The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley

(Synosis from Goodreads.com)

The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family--rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn't be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them--of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.

The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He's also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.

Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama--an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.

And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her.

This book had been recommended to me by fellow romance bloggers who had been raving about this novel by Jennifer Ashley. I haven't been reading historical romance lately(mostly because I couldn't find a book that could hold my interest for long to actually let me finish a book) but a lot of my friends had been recommending this book to me so I wanted to give it a try. And I'm actually intrigued by how Jennifer Ashley would portray a hero who had spent his childhood in an asylum. This book looks very interesting!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

(Synosis from Shelfari.com)

I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

I found out about this book after a friend of mine posted a review of this novel on her website. The synopsis has captured my interest and I want to know how the authors told the story in a epistolary format.

So what are your Friday Finds for this week? Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Friday Finds post, or share your Friday Finds in a comment here if you don’t have a blog. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: The Graveyard Book

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

(1) Grab your current read.
(2) Open to a random page.
(3) Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page and 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 Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To-Be-Read Lists if they like your teasers.

For this week, I'm reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I was supposed to finish this last week. But I was so engrossed with Catching Fire that I put this book on the back burner. Here's a wonderful teaser for everyone:

Bod said, "Master Trot? Might I ask for your advice?" Nehemiah Trot beamed, wanly. "Of course, brave boy. The advice of poets is the codiality of kings! How may I I smear unction on your, no, not unction, how may I give balm to your pain?"

~pp. 232 of The Graveyard Book

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your Teaser Tuesdays in a comment here if you don’t have a blog. Thank you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Review: Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas

Title: Seduce Me at Sunrise
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Number of Pages: 384 pages
Publication Date: September 2008
Genre: Romance, Historical Romance
Series or Stand-Alone: The Hathaway Series Book #2
Book Disclosure: Purchased from Powerbooks


Kev Merripen has longed for the beautiful, well-bred Winnifred Hathaway ever since her family rescued him from the brink of death when he was just a boy. But this handsome Gypsy is a man of mysterious origins—and he fears that the darkness of his past could crush delicate, luminous Win. So Kev refuses to submit to temptation…and before long Win is torn from him by a devastating twist of fate.

Then, Win returns to England…only to find that Kev has hardened into a man who will deny love at all costs. Meantime, an attractive, seductive suitor has set his sights on Win. It’s now or never for Kev to make his move. But first, he must confront a dangerous secret about his destiny—or risk losing the only woman he has lived for…


I’m a self confessed Lisa Kleypas die herd fan. She’s one of the few writers whose books I’ll buy on the basis of her name alone. Even the few books written by her that didn’t receive 4.5 or 5 star ratings from me were still at par or even better than some of the historical romances I’ve read.

I was so excited when I heard that Lisa Kleypas started writing another series after The Wallflower Quartet and I loved that the new series revolved around a family of misfits- The Hathways. Although the first book in the series titled Mine Till Midnight didn’t make a lasting impression on me compared to other books written by Kleypas, the little snapshots of Kev and Win in MTM had me intrigued on how their story will go.

Seduce Me at Sunrise tells the passionate love story of Winnifred Hathaway and Kev Merripen. After escaping death from scarlet fever, Win had never fully recovered. She’s weak, fragile and tired of being treated like an invalid. She wanted to embrace life and enjoy the things that a lot of people had taken for granted so she decides to go to a French clinic for medication that, if successful, will restore her full health.

Kev Merripen to put it simply was a very complex man. As a young gypsy boy, Merripen was savagely beaten and left for dead by his uncle, the head of the Romany tribe, until the Hathaway family had taken him in. His past in the camp was haunted by violence. Kev was like a wild animal - who had endured unbelievable cruelties from his uncle and doesn't want any form of kindness and affection from others. He was in the very essence a tortured hero who believed that the cruelties he had done in the past made him undeserving of happiness and true love.

As I’ve written in most of my reviews of romance novels before, I’m a fan of romance stories which revolved around the theme of forbidden love. Seduce Me at Sunrise was a completely heart-warming tale of forbidden love with the perfect mix of tragedy and passion that made the journey to happily ever after more touching. The romance between the two characters was tender, difficult but then at the same time very moving. I couldn’t help but shed tears every time Kev would try to push Win away from his life.

One could argue that Kev and Win are your typical Lisa Kleypas characters, but in my opinion, she was able to delved deep into the mindset of both Kev and Win which made you feel a connection with them. I give kudos to Lisa Kleypas for writing about Merripen’s struggles towards his love for Win because I believe it’s human nature especially after being treated like a savage creature by someone whom you knew as family. The love that both Kev and Win shared was very vivid that even from the beginning of the story, they made me felt each other’s longing for one another.

I admire Win from the beginning of the story because she was a heroine with a backbone. A heroine who was incredibly compassionate and loving and someone who fought for her love until the very end. She was very honest to her emotions that even when she knew that society may frown upon her for loving a gypsy, she didn’t care because what was more important to her was her and Kev’s happiness. I can’t help but admire her determination to fight especially in the face of Merripen’s determination to push her away.

The back story of how Kev and Win first met was for me, very vital in the story because in a sense you saw how their relationship had grown, from learning how to trust one another, to being friends and caring for one another, and then to finally realizing the depth of love that one feels for the other. It made their journey to happiness even more special and I appreciate how Kleypas managed to write it.

Aside from the wonderful story of love between Kev and Win, Seduce Me at Sunrise also reacquainted us with The Hathaway family, the endearing and charming bunch that we all came to love. I loved the depiction of their relationship towards one another because it made Seduce Me at Sunrise, not only about a story of love but also about a story of a family.

A little bonus for me from this book was the character of Leo, Lord Ramsay. From being a total jerk, and my least favorite Hathaway sibling, he had become one of my most favorite Lisa Kleypas character. I savored every moment he was in especially the part where he was talking to Kev who was in the gallows. His emotions while he was talking to Merripen about Laura melted me and I could feel the agony and longing he was going through. The tension and the spark between him and Catherine Marks, the governess, kept me excited and thinking until now about how their love story would go. From Seduce Me at Sunrise, Lisa managed to create a foundation for a potentially wonderful love story between Leo and Catherine.

I would have easily given Seduce Me a Sunrise a five just by the points I mentioned above. However, the weakness of the story came from the villain. I never really had a grasp of Julian Harrow’s motives on why he wanted to marry Win and I thought the book could have been better without him.

Nevertheless, Seduce Me at Sunrise had proven to be one of Lisa Kleypas most wonderful romance novels to date. Kleypas remains to be a master storyteller of romance because despite the story’s weakness, I still found myself happily turning the pages with anticipation for Win and Kev’s happily ever after.

I recommend this book not only to the Lisa Kleypas fanatics but also those who relish reading a good romance.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox
is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren . In My Mailbox explores the books that have been delivered to our mailbox on a weekly basis. Since I rarely receive books for review, unlike many other book bloggers, my In My Mailbox post will mostly contain books that I purchased, books I looted from the library and books I traded with friends.

This is my first time to join In My Mailbox so I'm very excited. This week had been wonderful week. I'm on vacation from work so that means no bonds, credit derivatives, interest rates and other financial products you can think of until 4th of November. Second, I have a lot of reading time on my hands, so yay! And finally, I had a bonus so the first thing I did after work was storm my favorite bookstore to scout some great books and I managed to buy a lot.

Bought From Bookstore

1) Jane Austen: Volume 1 (contains Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Persuasion)
2) Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
3) The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simmons
4) The Sugar Queen by Sara Addison Allen
5) Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
6) Dark Lover by JR Ward
7) The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
8) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
9) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
10) Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
11) Duchess in Love by Eloisa James

Most of the books I've bought this week are authors who I've never read before so this will be pretty exciting. I'm excited to read Persuasion and Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.

So what books are in your mailbox for this week? Please leave a comment with either the link to your own In My Mailbox post, or share your In My Mailbox in a comment here if you don’t have a blog. Thank you.

Mini Reading Challenges

As I was doing my blog-hopping around the book blogsphere, I happened to stumble upon Becky's from Becky's Books Reviews' Mini Challenges by Becky. The mini-challenges hosted by Becky are small and focused reading challenges. A miniature reading challenge where the minimum number of books is much smaller than that of most full-sized reading challenges. I know that I'm loaded with a lot of reading challenges for this year and next year but I just couldn't help myself. I love joining Reading Challenges as it is helping me a great deal to read many books and to discover genres that I haven't read before.

She has many Mini Challenges to choose form depending on your reading interests. I made the year 2010 as the year I will read Historicals and Classics so I've decided to join three of her mini challenges which also fit with my 2010 project. The challenges I've chosen also exposes me to authors I haven't read before. The Mini-Challenges I've signed up for are as as follows:

French Revolution Mini-Challenge

I've picked up the French Revolution Mini-Challenge because I've always found the French Revolution a fascinating time period. Aside from reading and watching The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas, I haven't had the chance to read much about it but I'm hoping this challenge will get me motivated.

This challenge begins October 1, 2009 and ends December 31, 2010.

Read two books (or watch two movies) set during the French Revolution. These can be nonfiction or fiction.

Books To Read:
1) Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser
2) Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Webber

Elizabeth Gaskell Mini-Challenge

I've heard so many praises for Elizabeth Gaskell's works and I'm embarassed to say that I haven't read anything written by her so I'm hoping this challenge will help me change all that.

This challenge begins January 1, 2009 and ends June 1, 2010.

Read and/or watch TWO works by Elizabeth Gaskell. This can include watching two movie adaptations of her novels, reading two books (could be novels or short stories) or a combination of both (reading one book and watching one movie adaptation).

Books To Read:
1) North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
2) Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

Movie Adaptations To Watch:
1) North and South: BBC Mini-series

Leo Tolstoy Mini-Challenge

Haven't read anything by Leo Tolstoy. But I'm very interested in his book Anna Karenina so I've decided to join.

The Leo Tolstoy Mini-Challenge will start January 1, 2009 and go through until August 31, 2010.

The goal of this one is to read two of his books.One movie may be substituted in the place of one of the books, if you want.

1) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
2) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

To everyone who's doing these Mini Challenges, good luck to all of us. Happy reading!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

2010 Books to Read Before I Die Challenge

at Bibliophile by the Sea has come up with a low-pressure and fun reading challenge called which will help us take a chunk of our TBR pile and read the books we want to read before we die. As a result, the 2010 Books to Read Before I Die Challenge was born.

I admit that I’m a very compulsive book buyer, and that I have more books than my shelf could handle. I have so many books in my shelf that I want to read but I always end up not reading them. I was actually thinking of joining the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die Reading Challenge but the list was so enormous and I found that most of the books on the list I don’t really care about. So when I found out about this challenge, I knew I had to join. So for 2010, I plan on taking this challenge as a project. I have a lot of reading challenges for 2010 but I just couldn’t resist joining this one. If you want to join, here are the guidelines:

1. Between now and December 31, 2009, make a list of between 10 and 20 Books to Read Before You Die. (depending on interest, this may be an annual event challenge).
2. The books on your list can come from your stacks or the library, and be in print or audio format.
3. Once you've created your post with tentative titles, then sign up by pasting the link to your post, along with your name/blog name. This is how you will be registered. Finalize your list by 12/31/09 (no changes to the list after 12/31/09).
4. NOTE: If you don't have a blog, you can still sign up and join in the fun.
5. All bloggers who complete the challenge will be entered in giveaway to win an Amazon Gift Card.
6. Questions/comments, please feel free to comment or email me.

I’m gunning for 20 Books. I know that’s a lot but I found out I have so many books on my TBR List that I want to read. The titles on my list is subject to change unti 12/31/09. But for now, here’s what I’ve got. And I will be reading all of these:

1) Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
2) The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
3) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4) The Road by Cormac McCarthy
5) Sherlock Homes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
6) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
7) Persuasion by Jane Austen
8) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
9) The Awakening by Kate Chopin
10) Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
11) Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
12) Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
13) Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
14) Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates
15) Atonement by Ian McEwan
16) Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
17) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
18) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.
19) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Luis Zafon
20) The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

I'm so excited for this challenge! I can't wait for it to start.♥



Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday Finds (1)

This is the first time that I'll be joining FRIDAY FINDS and I'm very excited since I've discovered a lot of great books lately. FRIDAY FINDS is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can tag along! So come and join us.

What great books did you hear about, or find, this week? SHARE WITH US YOUR FRIDAY FINDS!

The books included in my Friday Finds posts are not books that I have bought (those are saved for my In My Mailbox post) but are the titles that I have come across in my book hopping time during the week –browsing book blogs, bookstores and online stores. These are the books that I've added on my Never-Ending Reading List throughout the week.

The Lacuna: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver

In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.

Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.

Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America's hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. He finds support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs. Brown, who will be far more valuable to her employer than he could ever know. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption.

With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist—and of art itself. The Lacuna is a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time.

The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue.

It’s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, Henrik, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.

And it’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired by Henrik to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old, pierced, tattooed genius hacker, possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age—and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness—who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, an astonishing corruption at the highest echelon of Swedish industrialism—and a surprising connection between themselves.

A contagiously exciting, stunningly intelligent novel about society at its most hidden, and about the intimate lives of a brilliantly realized cast of characters, all of whom must face the darker aspects of their world and of their own lives.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse: Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. Percy's mom decides it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from. She sends Percy to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends, one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena, Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

I'm so happy to have found these three books. I've read some very good reviews about the last two books. And Barbara Kingsolver is an author I've never read before. Her book Animal Dreams is also on my Never-Ending Reading List. The Lacuna will be released on November 3, 2009.

So what are your Friday Finds for this week? Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Friday Finds post, or share your Friday Finds in a comment here if you don’t have a blog. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Catching Fire

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

(1) Grab your current read.
(2) Open to a random page.
(3) Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page and 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 Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To-Be-Read Lists if they like your teasers.

This is my first time doing the Teaser Tuesday Meme so I'm very excited. For this week, I'm actually reading two books, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. I'm lagging behind on The Graveyard Book because I'm totally engrossed reading Catching Fire. Here's one wonderful teaser for everyone:

"So, Haymitch, what do you think of the Games having one hundred percent more competitors than usual?" asks Ceasar. Haymitch shrugs. "I don't see that it makes much difference. They'll still be one hundred percent as stupid as usual, so I figure my odds will be roughly the same."

~pp.197 of Catching Fire

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your Teaser Tuesdays in a comment here if you don’t have a blog. Thank you.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Number of Pages: 418 pages
Publication Date: September 2008
Genre: Young-Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Series or Stand-Alone: The Hunger Games Trilogy Book #1
Book Disclosure Purchased from National Bookstore


Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used to be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.


To say that this book was excellent would be an understatement. The Hunger Games was gripping, in-depth and a pulse-pounding page turner.

In the novel The Hunger Games, author Suzanne Collins had creatively taken the concept of reality television show and added a unique spin to it by portraying it as a gruesome and nightmarish event that threatens the entire population.

Set in a dystopian post apocalyptic era on the country of Panem (believed to be the ruins of North America), twelve districts are treated as slaves producing commodities and serving the ruling city, the cruel and dominant Capitol.

Annually, the Capitol stages The Hunger Games which is a grim reminder to the twelve districts that they are totally at the mercy of the ruling city and the event also reinforces the Capitol’s dominance on the whole country of Panem. Each year, the Capitol draws out a name of a boy and a girl from each of the twelve districts and they are forced to compete in a battle royal to the death where only one will be left standing. The Hunger Games span over a week and is broadcast on national television.

The story unfolds with Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year-old girl living in District Twelve who, after the death of her father in a mine explosion, had taken it upon herself to look after her mother and her little sister Prim. Her little sister meant the world to Katniss so when Prim was chosen in the lottery to be a part of The Hunger Games, Katniss bravely stepped up to volunteer as the representative of District Twelve for her sister’s sake.

I loved The Hunger Games for a number of reasons. Since I started reading the book, author Suzanne Collins had grabbed me from the first page and it sucked me in and didn’t let go ever since .Although the book was a plot-driven novel, one of the primary reasons why I loved this book was the central character of the protagonist Katniss Everdeen. In the beginning she may come to the reader as someone who was only strong, brave, responsible but cold and aloof. But then as you read through you discover the real Katniss, the girl who was intelligent, capable, compassionate and kind-hearted. I loved how Suzanne Collins had used the first person narrative because the readers were given a wonderful insight on what goes through Katniss’ mind and her reactions. Her thoughts and feelings were so vivid and palpable that it paved way for her development as a multi-layered character. As the story goes on you discover that deep inside she has her own inner struggles to fight with, and then at times she can also be vulnerable. As a reader, I can’t help but sympathize for the past that keeps haunting her. The way Katniss’s doubted her ability to survive, and second guessed herself and who to trust made her so human and I think that it was one of the key factors which made me connect and relate with her.

Suzanne Collins had also showcased a wonderful ensemble of secondary characters that were just as interesting and well-rounded as Katniss. I loved Peeta Meelark because he was such a different character. He’s so honest and I admire him because he doesn’t pretend to be someone he’s not and he was even man enough to admit that Katniss was stronger than him. I loved the fact that he was so unselfish and that even with death as a consequence, he was even willing to sacrifice his life in order for Katniss to stay alive.

Most importantly, I think that the most remarkable thing about this book was that that the story was simply very well-written. The story was so original and unique that it makes the story so unpredictable and exciting. The Hunger Games had the right blend of action, drama, love and suspense. The ending was clever and unexpected and made me want to know what will happen next.

Suzanne Collins is a superb writer for taking the simple concept of reality television and making it into this wonderful world that is The Hunger Games. She had also utilized every aspect of reality TV (sponsors, interviews, make-up) which added much to the development of the plot. She cleverly mirrored our society’s reaction to reality TV show by describing how the people of Panem have different mind-set with regards to The Hunger Games. How she described the different attitudes of the representatives towards The Hunger Games was a clear picture of that. And although the theme used was a dark one, the book turned out to be a powerful moving story. It was a very human book in a sense that although the book dealt with depression, hunger, poverty, The Hunger Games was also a story of honor, of survival, of love, of compassion and friendship. This gave what might have been a dark and gory story its human touch.

The Hunger Games is simply a wonderful book and has become one of my favorites. For anyone who hasn’t read it, I highly recommend this book. It’s really worth every single penny that you’ll pay for it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bookish Pursuits Review Rating System

Reviews are subjective and everyone reviews differently. I read and review books for pleasure. I enjoy reading a variety of genre such as young-adult, romance, classics, mystery, fantasy, and historical fiction. I will be reviewing all the books I read and will be as honest when giving reviews. If a book was not so good, I will post my opinions in a constructive manner. The below is the uniform system that I follow when giving ratings to the books I read.

- Books given the 5 star rating are the books I felt were incredibly special and among the best books I've read. It contains the perfect ingredients that would make the book in my Desert Isle Keeper List. Engrossing and captivating story, exceptional and well-rounded characters with solid execution. A book I would recommend to fellow booklovers.

- Highly recommended and a thoroughly engrossing read. Solid execution of plot, rich and interesting character and exceptional style of writing. Have one or two flaws that can be overlooked. Still a definite favorite but not a five star standout.

- Highly entertaining and very well-paced. The theme of the story worked but may be lacking in one of the three: characterization, narrative, or narrative. But still an enjoyable read.

- Books that are very average and not memorable enough. A reasonably pleasant read, but could have been better. The flaws can be overlooked but it has prevented me from totally being immersed into the story.

- Undoubtedly, has some good points but I really didn’t enjoy it. The negatives begin to outweigh the positives and I had some problems with the elements of the book that begins to mar my enjoyment.

- Books that I finished out of sheer determination. Have very few redeeming qualities and is overall lacking in departments such as characterization, plot, narrative and writing. Starting to go beyond mediocre into bad.

- Not only did I actively dislike it but I had real trouble thinking of any redeeming qualities if there is any at all. Books that are barely readable. Had major plot holes and lacked literary merit and with characters that I couldn’t relate to. Books that I didn’t finish would also be classified under this category.