Another Japan Trip … Woooh!

I’m taking a break from planning our family trip to Japan. Normally, I try not to do a specific itinerary when we’re going somewhere. But a little guidance on our days there would be useful, and my parents want to know how much is the budget we’re looking at.I’m pretty excited about it, but mapping out the logistics is making me dread the laptop every time I have to sit down in front of it. So! While taking a break, I wanted to write down things I’ve learned so far:

1. Japan is a BIG place. I had no idea there were so many places to visit! And with so little time to do it. I’m allotting a few days per city so we could explore a little, but I’m finding it really difficult to narrow down what to do and see.

2. Their transport system is crazy! WHY are there 3 separate companies who own the train lines? I’m so confused about how to get tickets from one place to another. Apparently, you have to get different tickets every time, OR you get one train card that is acceptable for a couple of train lines but not all. I don’t know. Also, the bullet trains are confusing. But I hear you can just buy the ticket at the station, so I’ll tackle that problem when we’re there.

3. I know it’s pretty common knowledge, but Japan is an expensive city! And we’ll be 5 in the family travelling together. Everything is just going to add up. Yikes.

Back to planning mode!

The Hunger Games Series: A Book Review

I just finished the entire Hunger Games series! Not 30 minutes ago. Taken as a whole, I loved it. The writing was fast-paced and VERY readable. Katniss’ voice, to me, was realistic enough. Certainly unstable at times, a little harsh even. Selfish. But that was kind of the whole point why Suzanne Collins wrote it the way she did. Making it a bit one-sided. I didn’t really mind being in her head 90% of the time. There were instances, though, that I wouldn’t have minded having less detail. Like when she dreams. In real life, I rarely enjoy other people telling me their dreams. I see the POINT why it was written, why it had to be mentioned and how it affected the character. But I didn’t care much for it rambling on for too long, especially in Mockingjay. That’s just me, though. 

The world-building was very nicely-done. From the very beginning, it was so clearly spelled out. Not too much detail as to overlod you with information. Not too little detail as to leave you with too many questions. I liked how Suzanne Collins just sort of mentioned important details as needed. It felt realistic enough for me to be totally absorbed by the words. Her writing style is wonderful. 

Breaking these 3 books down, I’d have to say that The Hunger Games is my favorite. The last one, Mockingjay, being my least favorite. 

In the first book, Suzanne Collins did a great job introducing us to this world, these people and what they are forced to endure every year of their lives. I was able to sympathise wholeheartedly for Katniss throughout the Games. Her decisions and how she was feeling during every single challenge. I was rooting for her the whole time. It had a wrapped up feeling towards the end too. This book was an intruiging and engaging introduction to the series.

The second book, Catching Fire, while not up to par with its predecessor, is still in itself, a totally competent follow up to the first. More than competent, actually. Definitely a lot more action, which I liked. We explore a more complicated scenario, where Katniss is forced to relive the entire Hunger Games all over again. This time, with other victors from previous Games. And this time, it is about more than just their Games. I would say Suzanne Collins did a great job. And the ending! That totally killed me. I have no idea what I would have done had I not had the last book ready by my side as soon as the second was finished! Best cliffhanger ever. 

Now on to the third installment to the series, Mockingjay. I had quite a few problems with this one. As a whole, I was still highly entertained. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in less than 24 hours. BUT I can’t help being a little frustrated at most of the events in this book. For the first half, I understood Katniss, and the other victors, experiencing after effects from everything they just went through. It’s totally understandable. Even her hesitance to become a symbol for the rebellion. Everything she is feeling and thinking, I could empathize. After the third part is halfway done, though, and she’s still roaming around doing nothing, it seemed just a little bit redundant of the author to keep putting her in situations where she gets repeatitively hurt and suffers from major relapses all the time. I mean, why not use this time to focus on what Gale is doing? Or Peeta, for that matter? And whatever happened to Effie? Despite being a very minor character, it would have been good to mention a little bit about her. I swear, the whole time they were at District 13, I was waiting for Effie to make an appearance. Even Octavia and Flavius are present in all 3 books! 

And Gale? I never liked his character but there was no closure with him. 

However, despite all my grievances with this book, I did enjoy most of it. The middle and ending felt rushed. No proper closure for everybody at all, especially to those who died on the way to President Snow’s. The writing did feel a bit sloppy towards the end too. Like the author had a deadline to meet. Which she probably had. But overall, this has been a very entertaining read! 

Bookish Pet Peeves

I was recently watching a video about bookish pet peeves, which made me decide that I wanted to do one of my own! So this is probably going to turn into a book rant. Watch out!

1. Dog-eared books – Why, why, WHY do people dog-ear books? WHY? They’re completely ruining the pages! It doesn’t look good. And this is why I am always so hesitant to lend my books. It’s also my never-ending dilemma when borrowing library books. Practically everything is dog-eared.

2. Bending the spine – I am a book snob. I will be the first one to admit this. I absolutely HATE people who do not take care of books properly. DON’T fold that cover until the back. It’ll be crumpled forever! DON’T bend the spine. It’ll look ugly back on my bookshelf! WHY? Just … NO.

3. Movie book covers – This seems to be happening a LOT lately, especially with practically every young adult book being adapted to the big screen. I have no qualms with books being turned into movies. I do not mind awesome books being turned to live action movies! Yay for casting good actors to play my favorite book characters! I get excited about it…usually. But to change the cover of the book to make it look like a movie poster? WHAT is up with that? Why do authors/publishers always feel the need to re-do their covers to promote the movie? It tends to make the book look cheap.

And on that vein, books with “Now a major motion picture!” on the cover kinda bugs me too.

4. Romance novels / Chick Lit – I know some people are into this, but I’m just not. Now I understand that this is a whole genre that I might be dissing. There actually are some chick lit books I haven’t minded reading, but usually the writer’s voice in these types of books are so cheesy that I can’t stand it after a a chapter or two.

It’s kind of weird, because chick FLICKS, I don’t mind. Those are fun. Chick LIT on the other hand, I don’t know.

5. Books with “For fans of <insert title of best-selling book here>!” – Just because the new book is the same genre as another book doesn’t mean people who liked the previous book will like the one they’re promoting. Just because the new book has some similarities to another book doesn’t mean we’ll be fans of this one too.

For example, Divergent is known to be a book “for people who enjoyed The Hunger Games.” However, after seeing the movie (YES, I saw the movie before I read the book and am now judging the book based on the movie! So sue me!), and failing to be impressed, I highly doubt I’ll be picking the book anytime soon.

There you go! My top 5 Book Pet Peeves! I realize these are mostly pet peeves about the physical aspect of books. So I’m thinking about writing another pet peeve list about the content of books too. Or annoying things people do around someone reading. Or silly assumptions about me because I read. My, I’m full of ideas tonight.

The Maze Runner: A Book Review

The_Maze_Runner_cover

A Young Adult dystopian trilogy that’ll keep you guessing right up until the last few pages of the book. I picked up this book because I’ve come to enjoy dystopian worlds and this one seemed like it could be a good one.

I gave this book a pretty low rating not because I didn’t enjoy the story. In fact, I really think it had a solid plot. I was totally engaged the whole time I was reading. There was always something happening that you think gets you closer to finding out more, but then you actually end up feeling even more in the dark. I like how all major happenings were spread out evenly, because this was one of the reasons I never got bored.

However! The reason I only gave this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars is because the conversations were SO freakin’ frustrating! I couldn’t understand what was the whole point of making up some sort of exclusive Glader language, when all the author did was replace a few swear words with stupid words like “klunk,” “shank,” and “shuck?” This made every conversation very awkward to read. I got so irritated after a while that I just skipped over a most of the conversations since you can pretty much get the gist after skimming it over.

The writing isn’t really that bad. But I found something lacking in a sense that the author could have tried to make the conversations more believable. I mean, who talks like this?

“You are the shuckiest shuck faced shuck in the world!”

Seriously, WHAT?

Aside from that, the author could have done a lot better with making the characters more believable. On the positive side, I’m glad he only tried to focus on a few major characters. Because his character building is the worst! I couldn’t relate to any of them at ALL. I couldn’t see anything past their exterior superficial personalities. I couldn’t empathize with how they were feeling and especially what makes the Gladers act so annoyingly secretive.

My favorite character in this book is probably Chuck, because he is the least annoying of all the boys despite his being supposedly the “annoying one.”

Anyway! My curiosity was one of the main things getting me going with this book. I just hated how the conversations were shaped. They could have been better written to make it less frustrating that nothing is revealed until the very end.

Personal rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

February had me on a reading frenzy. 

A list of books I read in the month of February:

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 

HUNGER-GAMES-jacket

Awesome book. Awesome writing. I had been meaning to read this book ever since I saw the movie. I know I should have read the book first, blah blah blah. But I was actually waiting for the hype to die down so I could appreciate the reading better and not let it (the hype, the movie, the fans) influence me. And yes! It was GOOD… I loved it. I always knew I wanted to pick up another dystopian novel after I read George Orwells’ 1984. And that was … a good 5 years ago, probably.

Anyway! The Hunger Games is a nice fast read. I liked the author’s voice. I am very particular about the pace and tone of the books I read. And this one was just perfect. I have already ordered the rest of the series from my favorite online bookstore, thebookdepository.com, and I cannot wait!

2. The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones

230px-Darklordofderkholmcover

I have actually read another of Dianna Wynne Jones’ book, Howl’s Moving Castle, and absolutely loved that one. Including the movie adaptation by Hayao Miyazaki. It’s one of my favorite films, ever! SO, I was extremely disappointed to find this novel sadly lacking in the author’s previous awesomeness I loved in Howl’s. Frankly, it’s messy writing. I couldn’t keep up with the characters at any point in the story. There were just too many! I am not a fan of too many characters in a book. Which was why I couldn’t really get into the George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. Except, of course, in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, which was just epic.

The plot was not convincing. I couldn’t care less what happened in the end. And again, too many characters too track of. I was scratching my head the whole time trying to remember who was who. It kind of got in the way of the main story. Not that the main story had much to go on itself. I don’t know. I found it hard to finish.

3. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Warm-Bodies-Book-Cover-e13135078838941

This is going to be one of the very, VERY few times I will say that the movie was better than the book. NOT that I didn’t love this book! It was a pretty fast read for me too. And I think I’m really getting to have a taste for dystopian worlds. And this one was a zombie story! I do not like zombies. It was a surprise for me then that I liked both the book and the movie!

Characters. Cool. A zombie and a normal girl. Story. Awesome. Unusual point of view. Weird humor here and there. Not as funny as the movie, but I guess it’s kind of on the same level. Recommended read!

4. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

TBS-Cover

Another disappointing read. And I was looking forward to this one quite a bit after a series of good reviews on Youtube and Goodreads. It was supposed to be “explosive” and all that. The first few pages really intrigued me. Flipping through a couple of chapters before buying a book is like the sales pitch for me. That’s why I picked this up. Turns out, after that first few pages, there’s really not much to the story at all. There’s not a lot going on aside from constant bickering and trudging in forests.

Everything was so predictable for me, even up until the end when they figure out what the planet was all about. The writing, the plot, the characters, they didn’t work for me at all.

5. Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City’s Most Colorful Neighborhoods by Florent Chavouet tokyo on foot

The author, Florent Chavouet, travels to Tokyo with his girlfriend who is studying there for a few months. Every single day he walks/bikes around, finds a spot and just sketches. Anything he can find. A house. A cockroach. People. His breakfast. The result is 206 colorful pages of interesting life in Tokyo from the point of view of an “outsider.” Inspiring.

6. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

isaac-asimov-i-robot-book-cover

I have been meaning to read this book for the longest time! I’m so glad I finally bought a copy. This is actually a collection of stories told by Dr. Calvin, a pioneer in robot technology and psychology. Each story deals with a different aspect concerning robots and humans and how the evolution of these human inventions affect their creators, emotionally, socially, psychologically, etc … I like that it makes you think. Such an interesting read. I’m looking forward to reading more of Asimov’s robot novels.

7. The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth

elements-of-eloquence

Who knew a book about the definitions of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, synaesthesia, diacope, syllepsis, assonance, could be so entertaining? I love how the author managed to teach a possibly boring subject with humor.

8. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

looking glass wars

The idea is very intriguing. A modern fantasy take on a classic fairy tale. I loved the sci-fi aspect to it. A lot of awesome concepts. A lot of awesome ideas. The cards were cool, how they could fold outward and transform into these droid-like soldiers. And the looking glass transporters, I liked that. I was also taken by the story itself. Very interesting. The world-building was also done quite nicely. Not that I’m saying I didn’t like the book…

BUT, I think the writing could have done with a little bit more tweaking. I don’t know. I hated the “love story” going on with the main characters. I couldn’t find it believable to have a couple of 10-year-olds with that much feeling towards each other, after being separated for 15 years. Nobody falls in love at that age. I think it would have worked better for them to have been best friends and then, after meeting again 15 years later, to slowly fall in love towards the 2nd or 3rd book. I wouldn’t have minded something like that. However! I’m still interested enough to pick up the 2nd book.

Ready Player One: A Book Review

Ready Player ONeI devoured every single word of this book! I ordered it from thebookdepository.com, it arrived 5 working days later, and I haven’t been able to put it down since. I finished it in 4 days, possibly a record time for me, considering it’s a sci-fi novel with lots of unknown 1980’s movie and game references I could barely relate to. I did recognize a few names and titles, which totally geeked me out! I can understand the geekgasm other hardcore 1980’s fan will be having over this book.

Other than that, I just loved this book!

The setting is in 2044, not that distant a future from now and a World Crisis had come about. Shortage of everything from housing to food to natural resources have forced the majority of the people to live in this place called “The Stacks”,basically a bunch of trailer homes piled one on top of the other.

The Stacks

People have retreated into this MMO (massively multiplayer online) video game called Oasis as an escape from reality. The idea of the OASIS itself is really awesome. I’m not even that big a fan of video games, but I would try this. And I can picture myself being addicted to it. I wish someone would create it already! Or is it just already in the making? I don’t know.

So anyway, the plot of the story is that the creator of Oasis has died and left an Easter egg to be found inside the game. Whoever finds it inherits his fortune. Very Willy Wonka. Basically, it’s a race. A treasure hunt. A quest. Good versus bad guys. There’s even a little bit of a love story going on, which doesn’t even bother me, because it’s adorable and doesn’t even interrupt the main flow of the whole story. At least not for me.

And the twists! Eek! I’m not even going to talk about that.

The main characters are so cool. Although I honestly can’t relate that much to any of them, they are likable and I wanted each of them to win, which is so difficult because supposedly, there can only be one winner.

The whole time I was reading the book, I could totally picture out the movie. Guys would love it. People who grew up in the 1980’s would want to see it. I would love it. And if they do it right, I think this would really appeal to a wider range of people. It’s so imaginative and thrilling and I hope to God they don’t mess it up when the movie comes out!

I Had A Very Busy Day

I am not used to very busy days. My office hours are 9am-6pm. Lunch break at 12:30-1:30pm. Almost to the dot, every single day. Today though, was unlike any ordinary day. I had “meetings” and “site viewings” and “coordinations” with my boss. I have another meeting tomorrow, and the day after that. It wasn’t terrifying or anything, but it was a little bit outside my comfort zone. I think I might have gotten a LITTLE too used to sitting in front of the computer for far too long. I think this is good for me. I did used to do something like this before. I’m just a little apprehensive about messing things up.

And so, to end my “very busy day outside my comfort zone” I will go do another thing that is so not me … jogging! Off to the jogging field then!

OOTD Pilipinas TESTIFIED!

We’ve taken pictures of everything as proof of the inexcusably POOR quality for every single item we purchased. We’re never ordering from OotdPilipinas again!

Here you go:

Diana 1

 

Basic Tank Top
Neckline: WRONG
Fit: Awkward
Length: wayyyy too short
Hem lines: Stitching done in a hurry
Color: yellow stain near seams
Overall Design: WRONG!!!
Overall Quality: LOUSY

Diana 2

 

Basic Tank Top
Neckline: WRONG
Fit: Awkward
Length: wayyyy too short
Color: Passable
Overall Design: WRONG!!!
Overall Quality: LOUSY

Diana 3

 

Emily Corporate Dress
Neckline: WRONG. Nearly chokes the neck.
Fit: Ok.
Length: The red one is wayyyy too short, hem line is poor quality stitching. The blue one is passable.
Color: Passable
Overall Design: WRONG!!!
Overall Quality: LOUSY

 

Diana 4

 

Violet Slip Dress
Neckline: WRONG. Picture shows plunging v-neck. Actual is NOT.
Fit: Extremely loose
Length: Ok
Hem line: Lousy stitching
Sleeves: Loose.
Color: Sharo, black nana, masayop pa jd?
Overall Design: WRONG!!!
Overall Quality: LOUSY

Mabel 1

 

Helen Slit Dress
Neckline: Passable, but fit is not good
Fit: Awkward
Length: TOO long! We sent specifications for the length. What happened?
Hem line: Lousy stitching
Color: This is NOT gray, this is LIGHT BLUE
Overall Design: WRONG!!!
Overall Quality: LOUSY

 

 

Mabel 2

 

Helen Racerfront Bodycon Dress
Neckline: Passable
Fit: Awkward
Length: Again, TOO long! Did you not read our specifications?
Hem line: Lousy stitching
Color: Order was for gray. This is light blue.
Overall Design: WRONG!!!
Overall Quality: LOUSY

 

 

 

 

Ppie 1

 

Emily Chevron Maxi
Neckline: WRONG!
Fit: OK
Color: WRONG! This is NOT nude, this color is MUSTARD YELLOW!
Length: AGAIN, too long.
Hem line: Lousy stitching at hemline
Overall Design: WRONG!!!
Overall Quality: LOUSY

Ppie 2

 

Jessica Halter Cut Maxi
Neckline: VERY WRONG! Not even close.
Fit: OK
Color: OK
Length: AGAIN, too long.
Hem line: Looks like it was done in a hurry.
Overall Design: WRONG!!!
Overall Quality: Ok naLANG

 

 

 

Ppie 3

 

Myra Wrapped Maxi Dress
Neckline: WRONG, it’s too loose.
Fit: Awkward
Sleeves: Loose
Length: TOO long!
Color: Ok
Hem line: Lousy stitching
Overall Design: WRONG!!!
Overall Quality: LOUSY

Ppie 4

 

Hope Maxi Dress
Neckline: WRONG
Fit: OK
Length: AGAIN!!!! TOO long!
Hem line: Lousy stitching
Color: WRONG. Again, this is not nude, this is MUSTARD YELLOW
Overall Design: WRONG!!!
Overall Quality: Passable

Seriously Pissed at OOTD Ph

I have recently had the most frustrating experience with a certain Cebu-based online retailer on Instagram and Facebook, OOTD Ph (a.k.a. Spandex and Denims). Worst customer service ever.

funny pissed off baby

I’m a big fan of online shops and although, I don’t shop online as much as some people I know, I do like to occassionally click that “add to cart” button, forget about the purchase and be surprised a few days/weeks later with a package in the mail. It’s part of the fun of online shopping.

But what about when your goods don’t arrive on time? Or when the seller doesn’t reply to your questions? Totally defeats the purpose of the convenience of online shopping. It’s frustrating, especially when we’re all the way here in Singapore. And the worst thing is that there’s very little you can do about it, except write this review.

A couple of friends and I ordered a total of 13 items from this seller. Everything was paid on time with the seller being informed immediately with pictures of our proofs of payment. We were told the items would be ready by the next Saturday, which was approximately 2 weeks later. As it happened, our contact in Cebu was unable to pick up the items on the specified day, so they moved the pick-up date to a few days later to be collected at the seller’s own house. On the date, November 30 the seller wasn’t at home. No message or anything that she was out or might be delayed or whatever. Highly unprofessional! We were then told that the items would be sent through delivery in 1-2 days. That was last Monday, December 1! We texted her the delivery address. No reply.

3

All 3 of us have contacted her individually thru Viber after hearing about the no-show. We felt extremely hassled by this, not only because we received NO reply from her for days after the supposed pick-up date. But because it meant we will be hassling our contact in Cebu who is also very busy preparing her wedding.

Multiple Viber messages later to both her numbers, and still no reply.

I finally texted her on Wednesday, December 3 thru regular text message inquiring after the status of our items, and the delivery address. Imagine how infuriated I was when I read her reply asking for our names, contact numbers and proof of purchases! Really? REALLY? She should already have this information after ALL the messages we sent her. All she had to do was scroll up to view what our orders were. Needless to say, my patience had stretched to the limit and I replied her with a seriously pissed message. There was some excuse about poor handling by sales representative. Well, isn’t that a reflection on the bad management of the owner/seller?

1

We were informed that the packaged had already been sent, and so we demanded a picture of tracking number as proof. She sent us the number, but no picture, no information on what delivery service she used, what date it was sent and all that. Tsk!

Our items finally arrived yesterday Friday, December 5, 2 weeks after promised collection date! If delivery time was actually only 1-2 days, she must have only sent our items on that day during our last text conversation. We’ve been sent pictures of our orders, and I can’t honestly say that I am satisfied.

Just to make it clear, 100% of the time before I finalize my purchases, I try to research the seller and be aware of their reputation and reliability. It’s also a plus if a friend has recently bought something from the same shop before and been satisfied with the customer service. So disappointed with how it turned out. This means I am not just giving this seller a bad rap out of pure malice or resentment. It’s only fair because it seems the seller is only showing the good customer reviews. So I’m hoping this will serve as a warning to future customers.

Reading and Productivity

One of these days, I am going to get up and do something productive of myself! I’ll clean my room, go jogging, take a class, whatever.

Not tonight though. Tonight, I indulge in going through my monthly hoard of books.

Book #1 – Smoke And Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
I must have read this book a hundred times. Anything by this author actually is worth re-reading just for the beauty of his words.

Book #2 – Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
See previous

Book #3 – Tales of Terror from the Tunnel’s Mouth by
I read a few pages of this while I was in the library. I thought it sounded interesting. I always like to give a book a chance if It keeps me interested after one chapter. Or at least a few pages.

Book #4 – Short Stories by Graham Greene
The cover looks like it might be a classic. I’m not familiar with the author, but whatever.

So these are my 4 backups plans.

and the sand between my toes

Love, Jamie

Sexually explicit, spiritually perplexed,

Searching for Substance

Reflections on being a nurse, life, death, and humanity

cielopop

mirrors and dreams

The Bancast

A broadcast journalist in the making

Living The Seasons

Finding Beauty & Laughter Everywhere

PBR & Pearls

adventures and misadventures, never a dull moment.

Meowww...

My name is Emily, and I am the first successful attempt at a genetically combined human and troll hybrid.

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