Kindle, Kindle Little…

Living in a faraway country in Asia can be a big pain in acquiring the books I want to get. More often than not, most of the books I want (especially fiction written by Christian authors) are just not available here. To fix this, I get by with the following:

  1. Wait. Sometimes the books do come, it just really takes time. Sometimes a lot of time, sometimes just a short amount of time. I’m really glad for Fully Booked and Powerbooks stocking more and more books, so I get a lot of what I want there. Patience is a virtue, a lot of times.
  2. Ask my dad to get it. My dad works in a US territory, which means Amazon, which means more books! Order! Order! The last stash of books are mostly from Amazon, and that’s where I get most of my Christian books stash. :)
  3. Ebooks. I was introduced to ebooks late last year and most of the books I finished reading last year were because of that. True, ebooks don’t have the page turning feel, and some of them were made through document scanning, but they’re cheaper, and easier to store in my iPod. So if I can’t find the books I want here, or if it’s too expensive to order from Amazon, I go for ebooks. If I really, really, really want the book, I find a way to get it in print after. :)

So yesterday, I got an email from Mina V. Esguerra, author of My Imaginary Ex, about her new book, Fairy Tale Fail. She told me it was available in ebook format, much thanks to Kindle. Since she’s a local author and I support them, I got myself a Kindle app for iPhone (free) and logged on to Amazon to buy her book.

I’ll post a review of her book soon enough (it’s so cute, I promise), but here’s the thing I realized after last night: I just bought my first Kindle ebook.

And this means I have access to more Kindle books.

This means…

I can buy more Amazon books online. And it would get delivered to my iPod.

Oh dear. :| I’m going to need extra control over this one, that’s for sure.

Book Stash – April

I’m sorry for not posting as much as I used to here — truth be told, I’m just having a hard time finishing the books I’ve been reading. Ever since I finished North of Beautiful, I haven’t been feeling much of the other books I have on my to-be-read list. Sure, I’ve got some reading challenges to guide me, but I just wasn’t feeling them that much. Ever had one of those days?

I’ve been browsing around bookstores again ever since Easter, and I found myself not being able to choose books to read. Strange, but it’s also kind of liberating because my wallet is happy. :P I did manage to get some  books from some bookstore visits. Then my dad arrived, and I realized why there’s a subconscious feeling why I’m holding back from buying books: he has my Amazon stash with him. :)

So now I present to you my first book stash post here. I wish I could post this every week, kind of like how other people do, but I don’t really acquire books every week, much less manage to finish reading them on time. So here’s a first (I think), and I can’t say when the next is going to be. :D

Book Stash - AprilIn this picture:

  1. BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker
    I’ve always been a Ted Dekker fan, and I’ve been wanting to buy the trade paperback of this book but it was just too expensive. When I saw this two weeks ago in Fully Booked, I just grabbed it. Here’s to liking this one. :) One day, I’ll do a Dekker bonanza and get all his books and read them. :P
  2. Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
    I picked this up to add another book in my Project 20:10 Challenge, and Blooey just gave a glowing review on this, and I can’t wait to get started on this. Should be good.
  3. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
    I’ve seen a couple of recommendations on this by Blooey and Myk, and the paperback is quite cheap, too, so I got it from Powerbooks. Looks promising, but it’s another series, so I think I’m going to have to collect this, too.
  4. The Book of Jane by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
    I’ve been meaning to get this one ever since I started writing my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel, but of course it’s not available here. When I did my Amazon shopping, this was the first one I got — and I got it for only $5! I’m reading it now and liking it, although I already guessed something from the story the moment the character showed up. :P But’s it’s still good, and I’m glad to have gotten my hands on some good Christian fiction again.
  5. Last Mango in Texas by Ray Blackston
    I’m a big Ray Blackston fan, from his Jay Jarvis series. I was surprised to see that he has new books out, and this was the cheapest I could find. I look forward to laughing with this once again.
  6. Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck
  7. Love Starts with Elle by Rachel Hauck
    For #6 and 7, they seem interesting, and it was on sale, too, so I got it. Good Christian chick lit, how I missed you!
  8. Flashbang: How I Got Over Myself by Mark Steele
    I have actually read this book already, but I had to throw away my copy when Ondoy hit. :( Good thing there was a sale on this, too!
  9. The Guy I’m Not Dating Trish Perry
    Once again, Christian chick lit! It’s very pink, and seems like a good story, so yeah, I threw it in the list. I hope this impulse buy is worth it. :)

Not in picture, but I hope this arrives soon:

  • Wonders Never Cease by Tim Downs
    Got Getting this from Booksneeze — I finally caught a fiction release from them! Pays to have them in my RSS reader. Now if only shipping books from where they are to where I am does not take two weeks, I can write their reviews faster. But oh well. Free books are free books, I shouldn’t complain. I hope the book arrives soon, though!

I still have this urge to buy some more books, but right now I’m waiting for some releases to arrive — and some books to lower their prices…or at least, for bookstores to go on sale! I mean, not all books come with low prices like cheap insurance, you know. Which reminds me…can I wait to buy some other books I want until Book Fair? That’s four months away! Hm…Let’s see! ;)

Life in Notes

Life On the Refrigerator Door by Alice KuipersLife on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers
HarperCollins, 220 pages

Claire and her mother are running out of time, but they don’t know it. Not yet. Claire is wrapped up with the difficulties of her bourgeoning adulthood—boys, school, friends, identity; Claire’s mother, a single mom, is rushed off her feet both at work and at home. They rarely find themselves in the same room at the same time, and it often seems that the only thing they can count on are notes to each other on the refrigerator door. When home is threatened by a crisis, their relationship experiences a momentous change. Forced to reevaluate the delicate balance between their personal lives and their bond as mother and daughter, Claire and her mother find new love and devotion for one another deeper than anything they had ever imagined.

Heartfelt, touching, and unforgettable, Life on the Refrigerator Door is a glimpse into the lives of mothers and daughters everywhere. In this deeply touching novel told through a series of notes written from a loving mother and her devoted fifteen-year-old daughter, debut author Alice Kuipers deftly captures the impenetrable fabric that connects mothers and daughters throughout the world. Moving and rich with emotion, Life on the Refrigerator Door delivers universal lessons about love in a wonderfully simple and poignant narrative.

When I was a kid, I remember my mom and dad leaving notes for us all over the house — sometimes on the closet, sometimes on the computer monitor, sometimes even on the front door. I do remember them leaving notes on the refrigerator door, and sometimes we do that, too, if only to make use of the magnets that we have managed to collect from wherever we’ve been from all over the years. Most of these notes were reminders, mostly, and sometimes even sorry notes (but those are usually left at the altar), but we were all fortunate enough to see each other a lot that we never had conversations by the refrigerator door.

It’s different for Claire and her mother though. Claire is an active 15-year-old and her mother is a doctor, and both of them hardly see each other within the day, so they both leave notes to each other on the refrigerator door. A little spoiler here, if you may? When Claire’s mom found out that she had cancer, their lives changed but the notes continued, and readers will witness the exchange between the mother and daughter as they struggle with their regular lives and the sickness that changes everything between them.

I thought the book would be filled with random notes and a story in between, but I was wrong — this book was made entirely out of their notes on the door, some short (“I’m at Emma’s.”) and some long, as in actual letters. This made Life on the Refrigerator Door a quick read, but it didn’t make it less of a heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking read. I was left to fill in the blanks in between the notes, to figure out what happened at the last note and the next. It was a picture of a family painted in a different way, both of them (and the separated dad) trying to figure out how to deal with cancer that they were all trying to survive from.

It’s not exactly a happy novel, but it was a hopeful one, and I found myself tearing up especially at the last few pages. I couldn’t help but wish for a different ending, but in a way, the ending is also reality. I can’t really describe it properly because I’m blessed enough to not experience it, but I’m pretty sure people with family or relatives or friends who are battling cancer will be able to appreciate this more than I do.

It’s not a favorite book, but I’m glad I read it. :)

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 23 out of 100 for 2010

→ Get Life on the Refrigerator Door: A Novel in Notes by Alice Kuipers from Amazon.com
→ Alice Kuipers’ website

Terra Firma

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 373
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

As he continued to stare, I wanted to point to my cheek and remind him, But you were the one who wanted this, remember? You’re the one who asked-and I repeat-Why not fix your face?

It’s hard not to notice Terra Cooper.

She’s tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably “flawed” face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob’s path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?

Written in lively, artful prose, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley has woven together a powerful novel about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty.

* * *

I’m a big reader (obviously), but there are certain books that I can say are my absolute favorites, ones that I would willingly read over and over again and bring with me to a deserted island, if given a choice. Some of them are This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen and probably Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

I’m happy to say that North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley just joined their ranks. :)

In this day and age, media plays a heavy influence in how one views beauty: one must be tall, thin, have straight hair, blemish-free and white skin. If you fail to meet any of these requirements, then sorry, you can’t be beautiful. A lot of girls suffer from low self-esteem back then, including me. I never really talked about it and I covered everything with laughter, but deep inside, I didn’t feel beautiful at all. Every other girl I know seems to be more beautiful than I am. I wasn’t thin enough, tall enough (human growth hormone, anyone?), fair skinned enough, pretty enough. I feel like being beautiful is a long shot.

That was how Terra felt, even if she possessed great body and great hair and the smarts to finish high school a year early. Despite all of these, Terra never thought of herself as beautiful because of one flaw: the port-wine birthmark the shape of Bhutan on her face. All she wanted to do was get out of the small town and make her own map at a faraway college — far away from the people who know her, especially far away from the control of her father, a disgraced cartographer.

Now if you’ll think about it, the search for true beauty is not a new story line. Other books might have mentioned it, had a story about it, but I think the beauty of North of Beautiful is that it really tackled the issue head on. Although Terra never called herself ugly outright, she admits to hiding behind a mask and falling under everyone’s expectations of her. She craved control, so she set out on a plan to follow her older brother’s footsteps and to be finally free of everything in her life. Of course, all her plans change when life throws her all kinds of things — like getting into a car crash, for instance — but that is really where her journey started.

This is another book with very strong characters, all of them somehow making a mark in me as I read it. Strong characters are easier to identify with, and could make even the most cliched story somehow work. They all had unique voices, and I can actually imagine them in the small town of Colville: from Terra’s dad and his condescending comments to Terra’s mom’s timidity to Jacob’s easy smile and funny quips. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more effective antagonist who uses words to abuse other people — I mean seriously, Terra’s dad definitely takes the cake. I can’t remember how many times I willed for Terra and her family to stand up to their dad on the first parts of the book! The attraction between Terra and Jacob felt real, too, and not rushed. The author certainly took her time in building their relationship, which I really appreciated, and when the fallout came? Oh dear, my heart went out to both and I almost wished that the little complication didn’t happen at all. Even Susannah, Terra’s aunt, who passed away before the story started, made her presence felt in the story.

A lot of other interesting concepts were discussed too, especially the ones related to cartography, since it was Terra’s dad’s occupation. Other than Colville and a bit of Seattle, I was also brought to China, making me want to see the sites that they visited there. The concept of geocaching was also explored, which is kind of like a more high-tech type of treasure hunt. Definitely something a geek would like. ;)

And the book’s ending? Totally satisfying. :)

North of Beautiful is a wonderful book, and I’m really glad I had the impulse to buy it. :) It’s definitely something I recommend, especially for girls, to remind us all of what true beauty is really all about.

I leave you with this quote from the book:

Let the glossy spreads have their heart-stopping, head-turning kind of beauty. Give me the heart-filling beauty instead. Jolie laide, that’s what I would choose. Flawed, we’re truly interesting, truly memorable, and yes, truly beautiful.

Rating:

Flinging, flinging

Every Girl's Guide to Flings

Every Girl’s Guide to Flings by Marla Miniano

In her high heels, short skirts, and purple eyeliner, Rickie is known as the wayward friend of good girls Anna and Chrissy. Her string of meaningless flings, happening parties, and more boys lining up to ask her out make her the envy of every teenage girl—till she sets her sights on a very bad idea: Anna’s ex. Is Rickie headed for disaster? Or will she finally fall in love and get her very own happy ending?

In a group of friends, there are always roles. There’s the witty one, there’s the nice one, and there’s the popular one, the one who likes to party, drink and gets into relationships flings all the time.

That is Rickie.

Rickie is the “bad girl” friend of Anna and Chrissy, from the Every Girl’s Guide series by Marla Miniano. Rickie is surrounded by good girls — from Anna and Chrissy to her older sister, Lexi, who she thinks is perfect. Rickie fits into her role pretty well, doing exactly what other people expect of her: to party, drink and hook up with cute boys she meets in these parties.

Then Rickie meets Jaime again, who, incidentally, is Anna’s ex. Thinking he’s already a free-zone, especially after she learns he’s broken up with his girlfriend, Olivia, she goes after him, using his friend Diego to make him jealous, who also incidentally, falls in love with Rickie.

I knew from the moment when the guy who Rickie ends up with shows up that she will end up with him, but it was actually quite nice to see how she grows from the party girl to learning to accept the things that other people think of her to be. As I mentioned, Rickie lives up to the expectations of her — people expect her to be the party girl, the one who always goes out, the one who has flings and never falls in love. But her friends and her sister think more of her, and at first she couldn’t live up to it. When things fall apart, Rickie takes a step back, and tries to see herself for what her friends and her sister and a new found friend see in her.

I found this book a lot interesting, and quite a satisfying end to the Girl’s Guide series. It was nice to get into Rickie’s perspective, and I sympathized with her when she said that she was just included in Anna and Chrissy’s group, even if she felt that Anna didn’t like her too much. While I couldn’t relate to Rickie’s life, I could somehow relate to her figuring out that relationships need work, and that she doesn’t need to be afraid when people fall in love with her.

I liked it, and if I had teenage sister/niece/cousin/friend, I’d recommend this series to her. :)

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 21 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 4 out of 20 for Project 20:10