The Hazards of Working in Interior Design

imageSo I foolishly cut myself with a piece of stainless steel yesterday. In the palm of my right hand, no less! Tsk. Good thing no stitches were needed when I went to the doctor. He did give me a tetanus shot, which hurts like a bruise. I don’t particularly dislike injections or clinics or doctors, but I’d really rather not be in a situation where I am at their mercy.

I wish I’d taken a leave of absence today. I can’t do anything productive with my right hand currently as it is. And it hurts when I do simple things like writing or using the mouse. Ugh.

This is such a stupid injury. Worthy of a facepalm and shake in the head.

Oh well.

Maldives Last May

Here are 3 videos to sum up our awesome 6 days in Maldives!

maldives from mudzmudzmudz on Vimeo.

Maldives Escapades 2015 from Dal Skie on Vimeo.

Maldives2015 from Gem Cadiz on Vimeo.

May Reads

I attempted to read a total of 11 books last month! But ended up finishing only 8. Why? I realized I had already read the other 2 books a looooong time ago! And the last book, I regret to say I abandoned reading. These were:

Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories by Roald Dahl.
I only remembered this book a couple of stories into it. It’s a weird and creepy selection of Mr. Dahl’s short stories. Some of the stories actually leave you hanging, which gives it a more twisted feeling. It is ironic that this is all from the same mind who wrote such delightful children’s books as Mathilda and James and the Giant Peach.

Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie
Honestly, I can’t remember the whole story, but I’ve always loved Agatha Christie’s work. My favorites were always the ones where Miss Marple is the main character. It never fails to tickle me how a li’l ol’ lady can outsmart even police detectives!

A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories by Ray Bradbury. 
There have been numerous rave reviews for this author’s other book Fahrenheit 451. Having recently read The Martian by Andy Weir, I was looking for similar novels to complement my sci-fi reading phase. For which reason I decided to pick up his other book when I saw it in the library. Frankly, I was slightly disappointed by the writing style. It felt a little bit cold and disconected to me. I tried reading a few more stories, but just couldn’t get into it.

Baskerville Legacy: A Confession by John O’Connel.
The summary intrigued me a little bit. So I decided to give it a try. The overall plot was okay, at best. It ended on not a very pleasant note for Arthur Conan Doyle. I don’t know if I liked it. The writing was okay. Nothing notable, in my opinion. I guess I can rate it as a “meh!” kind of book.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore.
The premise is interesting. The ending was a little surprising. I didn’t see that at all! Overall, I don’t know if I will be picking up another book by Kristin Cashore.

Marked: A Mindspace Investigations Novel by Alex Hughes.
This is probably the 2nd or 3rd of the Mindspace books that I have read. I don’t know why I keep reading. I am always so irritated with so many things about this series. First of all, the main character. Why is he always always always on the brink of losing his job? The drug thing, I know. But …pfft! Give the guy a break. He’s trying! Then there’s the love interest. She is a total bitch. And her issues aren’t anything new at all. I didn’t want the, to get together at all! And mindspace. It’s still being described in the vaguest terms. This is supposed to be the main thing in the novel. Why isnt’t this explained with more depth, in a way where the reader can understand it?

Having said all that, I don’t know why I am still drawn to this series. If I see the next book in the library, there’s a big chance I would still pick it up!

Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley.
Ah. Another retelling. Frankenstein’s monster befriends a pickpocket. It was … Interesting. At times a little bit wandering in a way where the author almost didn’t know where he wanted the story to go. I was unsatisfied with the ending and felt that it could have been better, or done in some other way. But overall, I guess it wasn’t so bad. Nothing amazing about it. Another “meh!” rating for me.

Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.
Ahh! I loved the writing. Almost couldn’t put it down. If I wasn’t on vacation reading this, I would probably had read it in a couple of days. I liked the narration a lot. The characters, probably not as much. My favorite character was only present for about the first third of he book. I liked the idea of the mermaid girl though. I don’t know why. Probably a reflection of my long frustration in learning how to swim! Haha! I might read this again in the future. And I am very interested to read other books by this author.

Insert Alliterated Title Here

Labor Day. Random thoughts and things I did.

Decided to spend the day at home. The housemates are all out. Some are out shopping or hanging out with other friends. Kyle and the rest went to see a basketball game. I did a little bit of work for this small project. Some lying down. And a lot of reading.

I’m almost done with Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, The Signature of All Things. I don’t really know what to make of the story yet but the words, I think, are such beautiful prose! I don’t think I want this book to end! And so, about 30 pages before it ends, I stopped reading.

On to other things: Last night, I baked a cake. A delicious moist chocolate cake. This little bit of success makes me happy.

Now, I think I’ll lie down again and daydream.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: A Biased Review

cinder-marissa-meyer

I had such high hopes for this book. I read it in a few days because it’s quite a fast read, which I liked. So let me just begin with what i did like about this first novel from the Lunar Chronicles.

Firstly, it’s a re-telling of a classic fairy tale, Cinderella. I love re-tellings. And this one just had all the right elements to make it awesome. A cyborg Cinderella? How could I not be interested? I am a huge fan of Once Upon a Time , the TV series, and Wicked the musical. I understand these are all different kinds of mediums in story-telling, but if you can take an old overused concept, put a twist in it and make it interesting, I’m all for that!

Secondly, it’s supposed to be a dystopian / sci-fi / fantasy story. These kinds of stories are somehow my latest craze these days. Anything from Isaac Asimov to Suzanne Collins to Jim Butcher. I’m interested in new worlds and weirdness and magic and sci-fi, and this book seemed to have it all.

Another thing that I found kind of cool is that the story is set in New Beijing. There aren’t a lot of these kinds of books to be set in this part of the world. So I was very interested in seeing how they would incorporate the Cinderella angle into an Asian atmosphere.

Having said that, I think that was about everything I could like about the book. What bothered me about it …. were a lot of things:

The setting. New Beijing. Except for the name of the city itself, the names of some characters, and a reference to dumplings, there’s nothing new or Beijing-ish about it at all. What happened to the original settlers of Beijing? Did they just allow the westerners to take over their country like that? China is a huge country with a huge population today. Imagine how many people there would be in the future Meyer imagines. It’s hardly believable that majority of the people living here would to be migrants.

Or maybe that’s just how I imagined it. Or the author just didn’t do the world-building very well. I don’t know.

The foot. Something just didn’t feel right about how Meyer tried to fit the Cinderella slipper into the story. She made into a cyborg foot. Hmm… Nope. I don’t buy it.

The characters. Cinder was NOT relatable at all. I couldn’t sympathize with her. I didn’t root for her. I wasn’t impressed with her decision-making. She just didn’t work as a main character. She kind of just went with everything that was happening to her. Sure, she put up a fight when they wanted to take her as a “volunteer” but that’s all. After that, she just planned to escape and leave everything behind. Way to go, heroine.

What made it bearable was actually her little sidekick, who was kind of cute and funny. And, of course, Meyer decides to kill her off, if only temporarily.

I did like the doctor. His character was straightforward.

The love story. This part of the story just made me cringe. Their connection was not believable. I didn’t want them to get together. There was no basis to their attraction, except a very superficial one. And this is supposed to be a love story. If I can’t get into the love part of it, what’s the point?

The politics. Somehow, it all felt very simplistic and backwards. Evil alien wants to take over the Earth by marrying the prince. I mean, there are still monarchies in the future?

I like the premise of this book. There are some very interesting and new ideas that I wish had been written better. Some of the things just didn’t click for me, though. The evil stepmother was just … evil. And racist. I like my antagonists to be bad but at least understandable or with a little more depth maybe? Moriarty, Lex Luthor, Loki, President Snow… Someone you’re gonna like hating.

Overall, this was a very unsatisfying read. I don’t really know if I will ever decide to pick up the next book in the series. I’m curious enough, I guess, but what with my disappointment in Cinder, I’m just not sure.

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.

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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