Pages turned in 2013

My reading year was composed of an interesting mix of sequels, new releases, and classic reads. Some moved me to tears while others got me smiling for quite a while. I fell in love with many characters and I also wanted to strangle some of them. Haha! I didn’t reach my reading target for last year but I read 3 more books compared to 2012. Here are my 2013 reading escapades:

THE SEQUELS:

Mark of Athena and House of Hades by Rick Riordan

I intentionally held off reading “Mark of Athena” so that when “House of Hades” was released I wouldn’t have to wait so long. More than getting a refresher on Greek and Roman mythology, what I love about Rick Riordan’s novels are his characters: Leo and his awkward humor, Athena and her quick wit, Piper and her amazing charmspeak, and the heroics of Percy and Jason. And then there’s the array of quirky but lovable creatures like Coach Hedge, Tyson, Calypso, and Bob. 🙂

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I can’t believe it ended that way. I was too shocked to be sad. But I like that this dystopian novel is closer to home, meaning the cities are real and existing. There were parts that were a bit confusing so I had to slow down my reading but it all made sense in the end. I look forward to watching “Divergent” this year!

sequels

Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni

Another cliff hanger though not as good as the first one. I expected more from Evangeline in terms of character development. I hope Trussoni redeems herself on the third book. I mean it’s still entertaining but not that engaging.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I was pleasantly surprised that this book is a good one! I didn’t get to watch the movie but curiosity really pushed me to reading the first instalment of the Mortal Instruments series. I definitely look forward to finishing the next two! That plot twist in the end caught me by surprise. I like the fact that it’s unpredictable to the very end.

THE BESTSELLERS:

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaleed Hosseini and Inferno by Dan Brown

These two were so good that I made a thorough review on them. 🙂 You can read them here and here. 🙂

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This creepy but crazy good novel gave the mystery genre the overdue spotlight it needs. You can read my review here. 🙂

bestsellers

Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weiserberg

It’s not as vengeful as the title implies. It’s your typical chic lit though it fails to come through as a worthy sequel to the “Devil Wears Prada” and its blockbuster movie. Ten years of waiting should’ve been 15 if the result will be a better sequel. Picture Meryl Streep getting a few minutes of screen time and it’s all Anne Hathaway throughout the movie. It’s that unbalanced.

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the queen of tension and gray areas. She is so good at putting readers in a position where they will question their morals, loyalty, and beliefs. This novel does exactly the same thing. It’s the story of Jacob, an 18-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome being accused of murder. Picoult will keep you guessing that by the time you’re done with the novel you’ll still find yourself mulling over a handful of questions.

Bloodline by James Rollins and Judas Strain by James Rollins

James Rollins is my go-to guy for page-turning thrillers. He is my comfort author, so to speak. That is not to say that his books are an easy read. Despite the many details in his novels, he keeps you engaged and glued in. Bloodline by far is his best novel I’ve read to date. Judas Strain is good, too! I like that he researches a lot and takes his time to explain fact from fiction.

bestsellers2

THE LITERARY:

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

After reading this, all I could think of was “What happened to Lettie Hempstock???” I’ve fallen in love with her character. She’s a brave young girl who would do anything to save a friend. I think everybody needs a friend like her. See? I’m still attached!

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Highly recommended by a good friend, I now understand why he was raving about this book. I have yet to write a full review about it because it’s just too good not to dissect. Haha! It’s more than just a magician’s tale. It’s a historical fantasy infused with suspense and mystery.  Marco and Celia are pitted against each other by two powerful magicians. It gets more dangerous when they discover that they are drawn together by some strong force which can destroy one of them. It’s probably the best debut novel I’ve read to date.

literary

Every day by David Leviathan

This novel gives a new twist to fantasy by making it as real as it gets. A is the protagonist who wakes up in different bodies every single day. He can’t control it. Sometimes he wakes up to a male body and other times he ends up being in a female body. Things get complicated when he fell in love and tried to explain his unpredictable situation. A is one of the characters I admire deeply. He made sacrifices despite his transient state. It’s the novel that truly captures the statement “carpe diem.”

THE RANDOM GEMS:

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo

This true story is about the journey of 4-year-old Colton to heaven and back. Narrated by his father Todd, this book details the honest, straight forward account of Colton’s experience in heaven. Colton revealed specific information that he could not have possibly known. It’s a book that gives hope to people who are wondering if there’s more to life here on earth. Set to be shown on the big screen, I’m excited to see who will play the adorable Colton! I still plan on doing a more thorough review of this one. 🙂

randomgems

Hacked Off (author to follow) and Miracle Child by James Wilcox

I do book reviews for Reader’s Favorite. I get the privilege of reading newly released titles and soon-to-be published ones. As reviewers, we are also allowed to send a message directly to the author! Two good books I reviewed are “Hacked Off” (I forgot the author’s name!!!!) and “Miracle Child” by James Wilcox. One of my comments on “Hacked Off” was an improvement on the title because it was a dead giveaway on what the book is all about. It already has a few reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble when I picked it up. I can’t find it now when I was trying to look for the author. I’m assuming they probably changed the title. “Hacked Off” is the story of a girl hacker along the lines of “The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo.” It’s a page-turner with smooth plot development. I am actually looking forward to a sequel! Meanwhile, “Miracle Child” hits close to home because my son also went through a lot from his premature birth to hernia operation and everything else in between. Wilcox’s son faced a lot health challenges from the time he was born. Some of which were life-threatening. It’s a great story of how trials brought families and communities together to save the life of a brave little child.

Now What? By Gary Chapman

This short book is about how married couple can adjust to life after the baby. Although I read it when my son was around 26 months already, it still helped me get my priorities straight. Marriage usually takes a back seat when the baby comes. This book is a great reminder on how this can be avoided and how you can prioritize your spouse despite the demanding toddler in the background. 🙂

THE CLASSICS:

classics

Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son by Lois Lowry

“The Giver” is one of my favorite books of all time. Last year I finally had the chance to finish the rest of the quartet! 🙂 Lois Lowry created a dystopian world with touches of fantasy and mystery. He masterfully created characters that grew in the story as the series developed.

In “The Giver” you’ll meet Jonas who meets the Giver and was passed on memories that moved him to leave the utopian community he grew up in. In “Gathering Blue” you’ll meet the lovely Kira who not only weaves beautiful tapestry but also foresees the future through it. Despite the beautiful colors she’s able to make, she doesn’t have blue. Her friend Matty helped her gather blue from a valley. Matty returns with somebody that alters Kira’s life for good. Matty becomes the lead character in “Messenger.” From being an out of control little boy in the previous book, Matty becomes a responsible young man who breathes new life to the Village he moved into.

The quartet comes full circle with “Son.” Claire is the mother of Gabriel, the baby that Jonas brought with him when he left their community. The book is divided into three parts: Before (The Giver timeline), Between (Claire’s life), and Beyond (Claire’s travel to the Village where she sees Gabe all grown up.) The conclusion to the quartet is about redemption and new beginnings. Lowry masterfully created a world where love and courage cannot be undermined. His characters and their story lines were seamlessly weaved together. Their connections are strengthened over time. It’s the most beautiful and poignant series I’ve ever read.

*******

There you have it—my 2013 in books. 🙂 I look forward to reaching my 100-book target this year. It seems impossible but we’ll see! Cheers to more pages turned this 2014! 🙂

Read your book and eat it, too!

I’d like to think that every book lover wants a personal book cake. I, for one, would love to have my favorite books immortalized not only in my head but also in my taste buds. 🙂 My sweet tooth and book lust have finally found the perfect home in these customized cakes! They’re too beautiful to eat, though. 🙂 Nonetheless, I’m sure it’s worth devouring every single bite the same way books are worth relishing every single page. Enjoy! 🙂

DR. SEUSS CAKES

Dr. Seuss Cake by  (everything from Lorax, Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, etc.)

Dr. Seuss Cake by Fancy that Cake
(everything from Lorax, Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, etc.)

Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dream Day Cakes

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dream Day Cakes
Who wouldn’t want that for a graduation cake?!

Cat in the Hat Cake Love the gaping fish right there!

Cat in the Hat Cake
Love the gaping fish right there 🙂

LORD OF THE RINGS CAKES

LOTR Wedding Cake inspired by Aragorn and Arwen

LOTR Wedding Cake inspired by Aragorn and Arwen
So classy!!!

Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf at the Shire

Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf Cake (at the Shire)
This is too cute to eat!

The Barad-dûr Tower or The Dark Tower with the Eye of Sauron

The EDIBLE Barad-dûr Tower Cake or The Dark Tower with the Eye of Sauron

ROALD DAHL CAKES

The Golden Ticket cake Finally found the chocolate bar with the ticket!

The Golden Ticket Cake
Finally found the most coveted chocolate bar!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cake What a fun cake!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Cake
What a fun colorful cake!!!

 

MORE CAKES INSPIRED BY THE BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Alice in Wonderland Love the exquisite details!

Alice in Wonderland Cake
Love the exquisite details!

Eloise cake Perfect for a little princess!

Eloise Cake
Perfect for every little girl 🙂

Gruffalo cake Have a storytelling first before cutting the cake!

Gruffalo Cake
Have a storytelling first before cutting the cake 🙂

The Very Hungry Caterpillar cake What a very faithful depiction of the book's art work!!!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake
What a very faithful depiction of the book’s art work!!!

The Little Prince cake Reminds me of my childhood reading days :)

The Little Prince Cake
Reminds me of my childhood 🙂

Where the Wild Things Are cake Too adorable to eat!!!

Where the Wild Things Are Cake
Too adorable to eat!!!

The Giving Tree cake The cake of sacrificial love (sniff)

The Giving Tree Cake
The cake of sacrificial love (sniff)

Vintage Cakes from The Wilton Yearbook of Cake Decorating (1974). I love these classics!

Vintage Cakes from The Wilton Yearbook of Cake Decorating (1974).
I love these classics!

HARRY POTTER CAKES

Harry Potter cake by Charm City Cakes West  It's as realistic as it can be :)

Harry Potter Cake by Charm City Cakes West
It’s as realistic as it can be 🙂

Harry Potter World cake Everything you need to know is right there!

Harry Potter World Cake
Everything you need to know is right there!

OUT OF THE BOX CAKES

Book Slices For the book lover who can't decide :)

Book Slices
For the book lover who can’t decide 🙂

Fashion Book Cake For the trendsetter book lover :)

Fashion Book Cake
For the trendsetter book lover 🙂

BESTSELLER-INSPIRED CAKES

The Twilight cake A sophisticated cake depicting the entire series!

The Twilight Cake
A sophisticated cake depicting the entire series!

The Hunger Games Cake Receiving this proves that the odds are in my favor :)

The Hunger Games Cake
The odds are in your favor, indeed 🙂

The Percy Jackson cake This made me drool.

The Percy Jackson Cake
This made me drool.

LITERARY CAKES (save the best for last!)

Jane Austen cake Simplicity and elegance for the devout Austen reader :)

Jane Austen cake
Simplicity and elegance for the devout Austen reader 🙂

Edgar Allan Poe cake Have some red velvet cake while reading Poe's "The Raven." :)

Edgar Allan Poe cake
Have some red velvet cake while reading Poe’s “The Raven.” 🙂

Working with a Legend

Working with a Legend

Not everyone gets to work with an icon. And not everyone gets to work with a business icon who doesn’t act like one. I was a twenty-year-old fresh grad when I first met National Book Store’s matriarch Mrs. Socorro Ramos or “Nanay Coring” as we fondly call her. She was around 80 years old back then. I didn’t know what to expect from the founder of the country’s leading bookstore. I was pleasantly surprised to see a tall charming old lady who sauntered her way into our department, carrying with her a warm yet commanding presence.

Nanay Coring

Nanay Coring

During my first meeting with her, I knew that I wanted another grandmother. She was beyond nice and extraordinarily humble. She laughed heartily, even playfully nudging me once in a while during meetings. 🙂 She had no pretentions, serving others first before serving herself. I remember that every time we had a meeting, merienda would be served. She would give the mamon or burger first to the rest of us, distributing it quickly before getting her share. Little did she know that small gestures like that leave a huge impact in the people she worked with.

I was introduced to her as the new girl in-charge of the books for Powerbooks branches. Like any granny, there were times when she remembered my name and there were times when she simply called me “the little girl.” She taught me the secrets of the trade—how to negotiate and how to always end up in a win-win deal. I learned by example, watching her talk to foreign publishers with respect coupled with her natural charm and spontaneity. Publishers gave into whatever she asked without much effort from her. She was every bit sincere and irresistible. 🙂

First pic with Nanay Coring after nine years in the book industry!

First pic with Nanay Coring after nine years in the book industry!

With every presentation, she showed genuine interest and asked questions. She was an engaging listener and communicator. She is naturally generous and thoughtful. She gave gifts to every visiting publisher and even noted their favorite food or fruit! I remember this one US publisher who loves our mangoes. Every time he visited, huge ripe mangoes would be served (much to my delight because I love mangoes, too! Haha!).

When I celebrated my 22nd birthday, I brought food for our department and gave her some. I didn’t know she was coming to the office that day but I was secretly happy that she did. It made my day extra special. 🙂 Much to my surprise, she called me in the conference room, asked me to sit down, and gave me a gift! I will never forget that day. 🙂 I wanted to hug her but I was too shy to do so. I guess my body language betrayed me and it prompted Nanay Coring to give me a beso and a hug. I never felt kilig in receiving a lola hug ever except from her!

One of my favorite moments with her involved listening to her stories from World War II (my own lovable granny will narrate war stories to me, too!). She would share how business was difficult, how she strived and thrived, and eventually became successful. Even though she would tell this story repeatedly, I never grew tired of it. Her animated eyes and gestures made each retelling new to me. I also enjoyed listening to her conversations with publishers as they recalled how they used to do business back in Rizal Avenue with their feet soaked in knee-deep flood.

First National Book Store

First National Book Store

I also witnessed some of the cute quirkiness of Nanay Coring. She had this penchant for repeatedly eating something that she recently liked. There was a time when she grew fond of coffee crumble ice cream. So for months, we had coffee crumble during our afternoon meetings. Then came bibingka and so it was bibingka bonanza for weeks! Then came Jollibee hamburger (not even cheeseburger just the plain one) which she found really delicious and we had it for weeks as well. I’m not sure if she still has these cravings up to now because I haven’t been in a meeting with her in a long while. Nonetheless, that was really cute of her to saturate herself with her newly discovered food until she grew tired of it. 🙂

Nanay Coring lived by example and because she walked her talk, I saw the influence she made directly to her family. When I worked with two of her grandchildren I saw the ripple effect of her kindness and humility in them. I had a privilege of working with Gabby full-time in Powerbooks for four years and with Trina as a book consultant for five years now. Trina, my boss, doesn’t act like a boss. She works as a team player. She knows how to handle her people in a way that unites them together. I admire her the way I admire her grandmother. She is also a servant leader much like Nanay Coring. 🙂

With Ms. Trina and my friend Bea

With Ms. Trina and my friend Bea

I have to mention that Nanay Coring’s dedication to her work is unbelievable. She still goes to work full of energy at 90 years old. She reads the newspaper from cover to cover to keep her updated. One time she shared to me that she wakes up around 2:00am just to watch the news. It’s amazing how she can even keep up with the fast pace of the retail industry!

I also learned that for her, owning National Book Store is not just a mere business. It is also her way of making books accessible to every Filipino. I will never forget her answer to one foreign publisher when she was asked why she had to ask for huge discounts. With much conviction she said, “I want our books to have the most affordable price so that Filipinos can buy them.” She would go on to say that books are not really part of a Filipino family’s basic needs since we are a third world country. If books are expensive, people won’t buy it all the more. She believed that with the best price, people will still buy books and be encouraged to read.

The matriarch of the country's national book store.

The matriarch of the country’s national book store.

Behind the more than 140 stores you see all over the country is a matriarch with a big heart. I’ve been with her in several branch visits before and I saw how she talked to the sales personnel. She didn’t limit herself talking only to managers, she talks to everyone. She’s the type who would randomly ask how you’re doing when she passed by your table. In a survey done some time ago, customers said that they perceive National Book Store as a reliable store. It was even compared to a mother and a grandmother who is able to provide what they need at any given time. I would like to think that the way Nanay Coring nurtured the growth of her business had something to do with that perception. Like any mom or lola she wants to provide everything her children need. I guess that translates to her customers as well. She wants to have every book, paper, pen—anything we need to be available in her store.

Nanay Coring's 90th birthday

Nanay Coring’s 90th birthday

This year is a remarkable year for Nanay Coring as she celebrated her 90th birthday and the 70th anniversary of National Book Store. She deserves every blessing she’s receiving right now. It is my prayer that God will grant her more years because she inspires so many people, including myself. Through her, I saw that rags-to-riches stories are true. Through her, I learned that you don’t need a college degree to be successful. Through her, I learned that little acts of kindness to your co-workers go a long way. Through her, I fell in love with books even more.

I saw her recently in a store opening, had a short chat with her, and saw once again how she can light up a room with her presence. I am beyond grateful that God allowed me to work with someone like her. It’s a great blessing to learn from the best. Nanay Coring is a living legend in the truest sense of the word and I have to say the most adorable one at that. 🙂

Nanay Coring book

Nanay Coring book

Book Giveaway Winners! :)

Congratulations to the winners of our anniversary book giveaway!

Dianne of itravelwithmylittleeyes
Misai of Paperblanc
Wanda of The Yellow Library
Rico of Writerico
Pattmarvin of Some Books and Coffee
Jason of Xexepattiserie (I know I said for Philippine residents only but his wife lives here so he still qualifies :))
Purplecharm09
Marvsz of bibliokleptomaniac
Purplejady
Auie MD

I will contact you via email or SMS (for those I know personally :)) Thank you for taking time to visit The Book Vineyard!

I know I’ve been quite behind with my blogs but here are some of the book reviews you can expect in the coming weeks:

Incarceron and Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza-Holthe

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley

Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

By the way, a lot of new books came out just recently! I’m excited to finish Mark of Athena and Casual Vacancy! 🙂

**I would like to thank National Book Store and Powerbooks for generously sponsoring free books for The Book Vineyard! 🙂

Book giveaway! :)

I’m so happy to announce that The Book Vineyard is giving away free books in celebration of its first year anniversary! 🙂

 

All you need to do is follow The Book Vineyard! If you’re already a blog follower then you’re already qualified to our book giveaway! Feel free to spread the word, too! Winners will be picked via electronic raffle and will be announced on September 30, 2012. 🙂

Thank you for supporting The Book Vineyard!

 

P.S. This is for Philippine residents only. 🙂

 

 

Happy Birthday to you, Dr. Seuss! :)

Today is a happy day because it’s Dr. Seuss’ 108th birthday! 🙂 Let me start by greeting him the Birthday Bird way:

If we didn’t have birthdays,
you wouldn’t be you. 
If you’d never been born,
well then what would you do?
If you’d never been born,
well then what would you be?
You might be a fish!
Or a toad in a tree!
You might be a doorknob!
Or three baked potatoes!
You might be a bag full of
hard green tomatoes.

Or worse than all that…Why,
you might be a WASN’T!
A Wasn’t has no fun at all.
No, he doesn’t.
A Wasn’t just isn’t.
He just isn’t present.
But you…You ARE YOU!
And, now isn’t that pleasant!

Today you are you!
That is truer than true!
There is no one alive…
…who is you-er than you!
Shout loud, “I am lucky
to be what I am!
Thank goodness I’m not
just a clam or a ham
Or a dusty old jar of
sour gooseberry jam!
I am what I am!
That’s a great thing to be!
If I say so myself,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Theodor Seuss Geisel,more popularly known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904. In honor of his remarkable contribution to the book industry, his birth date was adopted as the National Read Across America Day. Geisel was a writer-poet and cartoonist famous for publishing children’s books with fascinating characters coupled with rhyming poetry using the trisyllabic meter. This is a kind of rhythm wherein every third syllable is more stressed than the others. When you read it that way, the story becomes more animated! Read the words in bold louder than the others and see:

And today the Great Yertle, that Marvelous he

Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.

What’s more amazing about Geisel was that he was the one who illustrated all the drawings in his books! The first Dr. Seuss book that was published was “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”. Mulberry Street is located in Springfield, Massachusetts where Geisel was born. The most celebrated Dr. Seuss books are “The Cat in the Hat”, “Green Eggs and Ham”, “Horton Hears a Who!”, “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” and “Horton Hatches the Egg”.

Most of his books were made into movies, too! The latest of which is “Lorax” coming to theatres this March!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DR. SEUSS! Thank you for making lots of children enjoy the world of books. 🙂 Here are some of the best quotes from Dr. Seuss. 🙂 Enjoy!

“And will you succeed? Yes you will indeed!
Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!”


Pages turned in 2011

I started looking at my book pile around June of last year. For the first half of the year, reading took a back seat as I spent most of my time taking care of my newborn baby. 🙂 Being a mom rearranged my priorities, schedule, and yes, even my leisure time. I took a break from my recluse reading routine and shifted to interactive mode by reading board books to my baby! It’s unbelievably fun and I really enjoy reading to my little man. 🙂 When he became more manageable—specifically his sleeping habits—I began flipping through my books again.

So here are the books I managed to squeeze into my wifey-mommy schedule last year 🙂

*Note: Those with review links (and pending reviews) are the books that really wowed me as a reader. 🙂 I highly recommend them. For the rest of the books, I’ll just share my thoughts/praise/critique on them. I really liked some of the books while the others merely stained my eyes. 😛

1. Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

2. The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan – This is the sequel to “The Strain”. It’s vampire-meets-science-meets-pandemic. I had high expectations on this one but it sort of fell flat on my reader radar. I hope that the last part of the trilogy will redeem the series.

3. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (click here to read my review)

4. Lost Hero by Rick Riordan – This is book one of the Heroes of Olympus series—a spin-off from Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It started quite slow for me but when it picked up midway through I couldn’t put it down anymore. 🙂

5-7 Shiver, Linger, and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (click here to read my review)

8. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum – I wanted to read more classics and I picked this one last year because I already forgot its magical story. I enjoyed my journey with Dorothy and wished that I had my own silver shoes, too. 🙂

9. Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto (click here to read my review)

10. The Rising by Tim Lahaye – This is the first in the trilogy from the “Left Behind” prequel. It’s about how the Antichrist came to be—from conception to adulthood. It’s disturbing to read how as a kid the Antichrist manipulated his parents, teachers, and classmates. It’s a must read for “Left Behind” followers. 🙂

11. Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them by John Ortberg (click here to read my review)

12. Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan (click here to read my review)

13. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (click here to read my review)

14. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (review to follow) – One of the best non-fiction books I’ve read so far. Amazing story! I have more to say on my review. 🙂

15. Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (review to follow) – Unique and intriguing, this book will not give you peace until you finish it. 🙂 More tidbits in my review.

16. Curse of the Spellmans by Liza Lutz – The Spellman series is wit and humor combined. I didn’t realize that fiction can really be entertaining without being trashy. Haha! The Spellmans is a family of private investigators. Imagine your parents doing a background check on the guys/girls you date or doing a surveillance on you. Now, that’s wicked funny. 🙂 This is her second book. I suggest your read “Spellman Files” (1st book) to be familiar with the quirky characters. When I want to relax, I pick up Liza Lutz’s books to enjoy a good mystery with a good laugh.

17. The Devil Colony by James Rollins – This James Rollins thriller is about the Native American Indians and their secret technology that has immense consequences if it falls into the wrong hands. Rollins has written better novels than this one but this is nonetheless interesting still.

18. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks – I haven’t read any Nicholas Sparks novel for the longest time. When he came here to visit I decided to read his latest book. I must say, this novel is a far cry from his previous novels. I mean this in a good way. His writing improved a lot, the characters have more depth, and the plot is not linear anymore. There are back stories behind the lives of the characters that blend into one as the book ended. Yes, it’s a tragedy again (but a good one) from the king of great love and broken hearts. 🙂

19. The Skeleton Key by James Rollins – This is a prequel to the “The Devil Colony”. This 100-plus page short story is a lot better than the novel. Everything about it was gripping and intense—the main things you look for in a thriller.

20. Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury (review to follow) – It’s my first time to read Karen Kingsbury and boy is she good! 🙂 It’s like reading Jodi Picoult only this time it’s Christian fiction. The story is about how music unlocked an autistic boy from his own world. I’m excited to write more about this in detail! 🙂

I can’t believe this is my first book blog for the year and January is almost over! Blogging fail! Oh well, at least I finished one! Haha! Here’s to more page turning this 2012! Cheers, bibliophiles! 🙂