10 for 2010: Favorite Reads

And here is the final 10 for 2010 list for this year, and the hardest one at that. There has just been too many good books in this year that it’s so hard to pick just ten. But I have to choose ten…but that doesn’t mean I can’t have runner ups and honorable mentions. ;) It’s my list, I can do anything I want to. :P

So, the last 10 for 2010, here are 10 of my Favorite Reads in no particular order…and then some. :)

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen – How much do I love this book? I am very glad that I chose this book as my first classic read for this year. I love Anne Elliot, and I want to be her. I don’t have much point of comparison over other Austen books, but this one is really, really good, even better than P&P. :) I cannot recommend this one enough. :)

2. Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews – I fell in love with the Kate Daniels series this year (thanks again to Chachic and Michelle for pushing!), but among the four books out in the series, Magic Strikes is the best one so far. It’s got action, tension and all the yummy hotness of Kate and Curran in all of it. Plus the ending had me all smiling and giggly and that is always very, very good. :)

2. Feed by Mira Grant – This book wasn’t the one that got me started on zombies this year, but it was the zombie book I loved the most. :) This book had me from the cover, and then with the story. I loved how geeky this book is and how emotional it is at the end. I loved the characters, and I loved the theme of the story…and I just really loved every bit of this book! This is one of the books that I got in Kindle, then got in print because I want to have my own copy. I gave a copy away, then I gave one as a gift, and now I’m (sort of) giving this away, too. I love this book that much.

3. Happyface by Stephen Emond – This is one of the impulse buys that I never regretted. I wasn’t a fan of hardcovers, but I am glad I got this one the moment I saw it because there are no copies of this one here. This is one of my favorite contemporary YA reads of the year. Happyface is such a darling character, and you just can’t help but fall in love with him. The plot is simple, but it’s very surprising and heartwarming at the end. I wish there were more copies of Happyface here so more people can read it…but that’s why I’m giving one away, right? ;) Oh, and I still think I look like Gretchen. ;)

4. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley – This was another impulse buy, but I’ve been seeing this one way before I got it. I am glad I got it, too, because it has such a beautiful story. The story may sound a bit cheesy with all the beauty talk, but it doesn’t only just talk about inner beauty and self-esteem, but also complications of a family and dreams that never came true. Terra’s transformation was very inspiring, and the ending left me feeling very good about myself, and very beautiful. :) Truly a gem.

6. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – I wasn’t planning to read this, and I stopped reading the start for a couple of times, but after I finished the first chapter, I got hooked. Before I Fall is a surprisingly good and powerful novel about life, death, friendship and the choices we make and how they affect people. I finished this book with a wistful smile on my face and tears in my eyes, thankful that I finally gave in and read it.

7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – This is one of the book that I know I would love, only because the people whose book tastes I trust loved this one, too. After reeling from The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I needed more dystopia to keep the high going, so I finally read this one. And I loved every bit of it. I know it gets better with the next two books, and I am very excited to read them. :D Soon.

8. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John – This book wouldn’t have made the list if I didn’t read it on time. If I read it in 2011, this would probably have made it in my 2011 list. :P I love the cover, and the story is just as good as the book. It’s not often you read a YA novel about a band, and it’s even rarer that you read a heroine who was deaf. It’s got diverse characters, a great story and a very rocking ending. :) A book that makes me reconsider my Top 10 is a book that deserves more attention. :D

9. Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra – You know you really love a book when you re-read it and it still gives you the same feeling it did on the first read. You know you love a book when you actually re-read it in the first place, and within the same year, to boot! I re-read Fairy Tale Fail after I finished reading The Maze Runner, and I really needed a pick-me-up after. It definitely picked me up, and it made me wish to have my own Lucas all over again. :)

10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – And like every Best of 2010 books out there, I must not forget about Anna and the French Kiss! This book was an absolutely fun read. After a series of not-so-stellar books, this one just kind of blew my mind. :) I realized a lot of things in this book, particularly: I still love contemporary YA the best, and you can tell a completely ordinary story in an extraordinary way. This is also one of the books that I got on Kindle first, then the hardcover when I found out it’s already available here. That much love, people. That much love. :)

Runners-Up:

  • Paper Towns by John Green – I finished the John Green trifecta this year, and out of all books, I have decided that I liked Paper Towns best. While An Abundance of Katherines was the funniest and happiest, I thought Paper Towns had the better plot and would fare better for a re-read. :) Plus Radar + Ben and the road trip? Priceless.
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – I wouldn’t have heard of this one if not for Pao and Chachic, and I am glad I got this one. Tall Story is a charming story about siblings, Filipino folklore and magic. This is a very heartwarming story, and I am glad this book is available internationally so more people can read it. If you haven’t read it, do include it in your 2011 reading list. You won’t regret it. :)
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman – I wouldn’t have picked this book up if I hadn’t heard good things about it from my Goodreads friends. Perhaps my reaction to this was a bit similar to The Knife of Never Letting Go – I plunged into it ready to love it, and I did. It’s not a very cheerful book being dystopia, but it’s very good and it has a lot of potential for a re-read. :)
  • Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr – I read two of Sara Zarr’s books last year and I loved them, so when I saw she had a new book, I knew I had to read it. Once Was Lost was just as beautiful as her other books, but I think I like this one more because it tackled faith. I loved how simple Zarr’s prose was, and how she tackled sensitive issues with grace. If I may quote my review: “Once Was Lost makes you think, makes you ask, and in the end, makes you believe that no matter what the tragedy is, no matter how hard things are, there will always, always be hope.
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – I read this one fairly recently, and I really liked it. I don’t know if my moods influenced how much I liked it though…but like I said before: any book that has me smiling like an idiot at the last page deserves a recognition. :)

Honorable Mentions:

See, I told you it was too hard. I’m sorry if I overwhelmed you with too many books in this list! It’s just very, very hard to choose. Maybe next year I’ll be more critical, but I’m glad I read so many good books this year. Looking forward to what 2011 had to offer. :)

Now it’s your turn. What’s your top reads in 2010? :)

Check out my other 10 for 2010 posts!
10 Favorite Male Characters
10 Favorite Female Characters
10 Favorite Couples
10 Favorite Authors
10 Most Anticipated for 2011
10 Blogging and Reading Highlights

I’m giving away some of my favorite books in 2010 in my Anniversary Giveaway! Get to know the awesomeness that is Feed by Mira Grant, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy! Every comment you leave is one entry — the more comments you leave, the more entries you get! :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes!

[Closed] One More Page – Anniversary Giveaway

One More Page Anniversary Giveaway

NOTE: This giveaway is closed! Thanks to everyone who joined. :-) Winners were announced here. :)

It’s Christmas Eve in my part of the world! :) I think I just about survived the most hectic Christmas season ever with parties, work and a wedding to attend, so now that things are winding down, it’s time to up some things here in the blog. :)

Other bloggers have set up their gratitude/Christmas/what-have-you giveaways in the past weeks, and I am kind of joining the bandwagon. My blog is about to celebrate its first anniversary in a couple of weeks (on January 9, to be exact), so what better way to celebrate that and Christmas (well, an extended reason to celebrate, anyway) than a book giveaway? :D Presenting:

One More Page Anniversary GiveawayOne More Page Anniversary Giveaway! I never really thought I’d be able to keep a niche blog for this long, and I have met so many people, read so many books and learned so many new things that I am really, really grateful. As a thank you to everyone who’s left comments, visited and followed my blog, I will be giving away copies of the following books:

I want to make this giveaway interactive, so instead of just making you fill out a form and making you do so many other things, all you need to do to enter this giveaway is leave a comment. Leave a comment in every entry from now up to January 9, 2011, and every comment will count as an entry to the giveaway. You can leave multiple comments on an entry, especially if it’s a discussion post. :) The more comments you leave, the more entries you get, and we will have meaningful conversations, too! :P

I will pick two winners at random: one in the Philippines and one international*. Winners get to pick one of the books listed above**. :)

Easy-peasy, right? :)

Again!

  • Contest runs starting today up to January 9, 2011
  • Every comment left starting this post up to January 9, 2011 will count as an entry to the contest (unless otherwise stated in the comment)***.
  • Two winners will be chosen at random (random.org), one in the Philippines and one international*
  • Winners get to pick one of the books listed above as their prize**

Alrightie then! Looking forward to hear from everyone! :)

* As long as Book Depository ships to your country
** In case the winner already has all of the books, they can pick any book worth $15 from Book Depository
*** I reserve the right not to include comments that are irrelevant to the entry or comments that are left just to leave a comment and nothing else. Again, one of the purposes of the contest is to encourage interaction, so meaningful/relevant comments, please. :)

Ten Ten Ten!

It’s October 10, 2010. You know what this means, of course?

I’m not one to believe in lucky numbers or days, but I can’t really pass up the chance to blog on this day, if only to remember what I did, or to say that I actually have a post on this once-in-a-lifetime date on my blogs.

So hi, happy 10.10.10!

I was supposed to join the 24 hour read-a-thon this weekend, but I decided to sit it out this year since my family and I were busy with my dad’s arrival and my brother’s upcoming wedding. It would’ve been an excellent way to spend 10.10.10 reading wise, but I have to face the fact that I have a life outside of books. But in the spirit of this binary date (I’m a geek, of course I have to point that out), I thought I’d sort of take a break from all the book reviews and squeeing and post something a little more personal, but still somehow related to reading (this is a book blog, after all). I know I’ve gained some new followers in the past months, so consider this a re-introduction post. :) Since it’s 10.10.10, let’s go for 3 sets of 10’s, shall we?

10 things about me:

  1. My name is Tina, and I’m a 24-year-old sort of all around geek from the beautiful (and sometimes chaotic) Philippines. :)
  2. I work as a full-time web content developer in one of the big multinational companies in the…well, world. I love my job even if it can be repetitive and somewhat frustrating sometimes. As of now I still see myself in that company for a few more years. I don’t know if I’ll be doing that I’m still doing, but I hope whatever it is, I would still love it. And since I’m a web content developer, you see now how I can manage to blog every now and then. ;) Blogging is practically second nature.
  3. I own three more blogs outside of my book blog, plus a semi-active Tumblr, a very active Twitter and a dead LJ and Plurk accounts. I’m also very active at Goodreads, more active than I was before ever since I met the Goodreads Filipino group people. :) I have a very big internet footprint, and it’s too late to do anything about that. ^^
  4. I love to run. I’m not sure if it loves me back, but I love it very much. :) I’m not really a sporty person, but running is not really a competitive sport so I caved in and joined the thousands of people who liked to run races here, too. I started running this year, after my friends and I set a goal to run races, and I haven’t stopped till then. I started with 5k distance then immediately stepped up to 10k, and been running 10k ever since. I’m hoping and planning and praying to run my first half marathon early in 2011. :)
  5. Speaking of praying — I’m a devout Catholic. I’d like to believe I’m not a religious nut, but rather spiritual. I value my faith and beliefs, hence it influences what I read and how I review the books I read.
  6. I dream of publishing my own novel someday. I need to get moving and keep on writing (hence my insistence on joining NaNoWriMo every year), and I need to find the courage to actually submit my work somewhere. One day, one day.
  7. My brother is a wedding videographer. I may be biased, but he’s a very good one, too. Just look at his works here. :)
  8. I am a semi-health nut. Ever since I lost a lot of weight in the past year, I’ve been very careful to keep the weight off. Hence the running, and lots of gym, and watching what I eat. I still love ice cream and sweets and other sinful stuff, though but always in moderation. ;)
  9. My most common random fact that I always share: I name all my gadgets. It helps me take care of them better. I have two laptops named Teo (work) and Aslan (personal), Macy the iPod, Elyon and Cornelia the mobile phones, Wes the external hard drive, Ginger the USB flash drive, Ashley the camera and Astrid the Kindle. I also name my credit cards in an attempt to not always use them, but I fail at that. ;)
  10. And for the 10th thing about me is…I don’t know why I keep on writing lists like these! I forgot how hard it is to write 10 things about myself! Hah. But I’m somewhat of a masochist sometimes. I like challenging myself. I’m not really a daredevil, but I try to find things that would make me try new thing and would (hopefully) make me a better person in the end. :)

10 Favorite Books read in 2010 so far:

  1. Fire by Kristin Cashore
  2. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
  3. Feed by Mira Grant
  4. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  5. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  6. Happyface by Stephen Emond
  7. The Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
  8. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  9. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  10. Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews

10 books I can’t wait to get my hands on:
(Always subject to change ;))

  1. The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell
  2. Plain Kate by Erin Bow
  3. Archangel by Sharon Shinn
  4. AEIOU: An Easy Intimacy by Jeffrey Brown
  5. The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
  6. Dust City by Robert Paul Weston
  7. Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
  8. Matched by Ally Condie
  9. What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
  10. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Well that took a bit of time to post. Whew. What about you, do you have any 10’s to share? :)

This is the Bill of Life

Unwind by Neal ShustermanUnwind by Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Number of pages: 352
My copy: UK paperback, bought from Powerbooks

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them.

Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

* * *

Unwind by Neal Shusterman is one of the books that I never thought I’d get. If I were just book shopping on a normal day, I don’t think I would have picked this book up. But if it wasn’t for the Powerbooks sale and the fact that most of a lot of my Goodreads friends recommended (or in our terms, pushed) this book, I wouldn’t have gotten it when I saw it.

The book is set some time in the future after the second Civil War, coined as the Heartland War. This war was started by a two opposing groups, the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, who were only settled after the Bill of Life has been passed. This bill states that:

…human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until the child reaches the age of thirteen.

However, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent may choose to retroactively “abort a child” …

…on the condition that the child’s life doesn’t “technically” end.

The process by which a child is both terminated and yet kept alive is called “unwinding.”

I didn’t really understand what unwinding was until I was a few pages into the book. Apparently, unwinding is the process where the child’s organs and basically every part of him/her (blood, vocal chords, fingers, hands, feet, spine — name a body part, they have it!) is harvested and stored for other people’s use. Once a child reaches the age of 13, the parents have the prerogative to have them unwound. They just fill out a form, submit it and the kids get picked up for harvesting and they never have to see the kid again, and they can go on living their lives.

Continue Reading →

Getting inked may not be that cool

The Barcode Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 256
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

Individuality vs. Conformity

Identity vs. Access

Freedom vs. Control

The bar code tattoo. Everybody’s getting it. It will make your life easier, they say. It will hook you in. It will become your identity.

But what if you say no? What if you don’t want to become a code? For Kayla, this one choice changes everything. She becomes an outcast in her high school. Dangerous things happen to her family. There’s no option but to run…for her life.

* * *

I really meant to review this book after I got it, then I planned to review it for Pinoy Pop, but I never got around to it because there were other more interesting books that came in. I wasn’t really planning to review this book anymore and make this as one of those books that I never bothered to review this year but after I read Unwind by Neal Shusterman, I felt the need to revisit this book (or at least, my notes of this book) and write a proper review before writing one for Unwind.

I found The Barcode Tattoo during one of my Amazon Kindle sample days, and I remember being sorely disappointed that this book had no Kindle edition. I wasn’t sure if the cover or the premise attracted me to this — perhaps it was both. The idea of a sinister requirement tattoo is kind of creepy, and the cover was equally as creepy as that idea. I found a lone copy in Fully Booked a few weeks after I added this to my wish list, and I was immediately off to the cashier to purchase the book.

The Barcode Tattoo reminds me of those sci-fi TV shows that I used to be very interested in but never found the time to watch. I think the first time I saw a barcode tattoo on screen was in Dark Angel, where I think each of the clones had a barcode tattoo at their nape to identify them. I can’t remember the details anymore, but I was pretty sure they had that. :P In this book, the tattoos serve as a symbol for “coming of age”, and where everything can be done using your very own tattoo. This spells convenience for everyone as there was no more need to carry an ID or money around since everything can be done with the barcode (including buy compression stockings online).  But as expected, people in power can easily manipulate it. This is where we found Kayla Reed, who’s about to turn 17, but is wary of getting her tattoo. She turned out to be even more wary when her dad starts acting suspiciously, and pretty soon, her avoidance in getting the tattoo turned her life upside down and she starts running for her life.

The concept is good, and it makes for a very good dystopian fiction. However, I think that was the only thing that made this book good. I knew from the get-go that the tattoos were evil, but it was never really explained in the story why it was evil. Sure, the tattoo meant control for those in power, but it was never really expounded on. Like Kayla, I only got the faintest idea on what made the tattoos bad but she never really found out about the exact details of it.

It may be because the book was written in 2004, so the setting (which was 21 years later) showed a world where everyone was wearing a modified space suit and moving sidewalks are common. It took me a while to get into the setting probably because I felt it was a bit too unbelievable even if it’s in 2025. My friend Jana coined it as the “flying cars” setting, where people think of the future as a time where flying cars are the norm. Personally, the setting reminded me a bit too much of those Zenon movies from Disney. I couldn’t imagine myself inside the world the characters are living in, so I remained a mere spectator for Kayla’s adventures.

Furthermore, I felt that there was no defined villain in the story — sure, there was Global 1, the mastermind behind the tattoo, and there were the kids that chased Kayla around…but who was her real villain? Was it the tattoo? It is their destruction of privacy because the tattoo contains all information about them? I’m not quite sure. Sure, Kayla had some personal stake over the matter because of her family, but if that was taken away, would Kayla still have resisted? Where is the Truly Evil Government that dystopian fiction is known for?

I also felt a bit cheated with the ending. I’m not really a sci-fi reader and I’ve only started to appreciate fantasy, but I know there’s a way to make the two mesh well without sounding forced. Kayla’s situation felt truly hopeless as she ran away from those who want her inked (or in some cases, dead), and I truly felt that she had no more allies…but when she finally found her allies, I found that the solution to the problem felt a bit too over the top. Deus ex machina, if you may. The resolution never really sat well with me, leaving me a bit unsatisfied at the end of the end of the book.

It’s not really a bad book, but I didn’t really find it spectacular, either. It’s an in-between book, really, and it’s not one I’d lose sleep or mull over for the next few days thinking about the story or the consequences or the characters even. The story had a lot of potential that wasn’t explored, unfortunately. Interestingly, there is a sequel to the book: The Barcode Rebellion. Will I read it? Probably. Will I buy it? I’m not sure. Maybe someone can lend me a copy instead?

Oh, and one last question: how the heck do you pronounce Mfumbe?!

Rating: