February 29, 2012



I am obsessed with The Hunger Games trilogy so it is only right that i share with you the books connected to it and its upcoming movie 

 As expected of a sure to be blockbuster book based film, an illustrated movie companion has come out.  Fans of the trilogy hungry for more information and pictures from the film will not be disappointed.  The companion has everything. The history of the book, its conceptualization, its writing, its evolution from book to film and most importantly, at least for me, the casting.  As with every other fan, the only things i have seen of the movie are trailers, snippets and photos. But even so, i already know that the film has been perfectly casted.
 The illustrated companion convinces me of this further.  also interesting to see are the pictures of Panem, the Hob, Katniss' orange backpack, fashions at the Capitol, behind the scenes photos and of course the other tributes and characters such as Cinna, Effie and Haymitch.  so if you can no longer wait or are just itching to know more about the movie, get this book.  For sure you will enjoy the page size pictures of Katniss, Gale and Peeta (sigh*).

Imagine Caesar Flickerman writing an introductory book on the Hunger Games and its tributes. this book is its result.
The guide starts with an introduction to the Hunger Games' history before moving on to the districts with a brief description of each's specialty (District 1: Luxury.  District 2: Masonry......).  Then it describes the Reaping process where particularly in District 12, Katniss dramatically takes the place of her sister Primrose and thereby endearing herself to the viewing public for her self sacrifice.
Then there are the tributes.  each has his/her own page with the basic details: name, gender, age, height and weapon.
Next is the train with a description of its interior and its purpose.  Followed by the Remake center.  Here District 12's stylist Cinna is singled out as he is known as a bit of a renegade and a true artist who is tasked to make over the tribute to watch: Katniss Everdeen.
The Tribute parade is then described in detail with everyone in awe of Cinna's creation:  The Girl on Fire.
then the Training Center.  it is mentioned that in every corner there are different weapons and courses to take such as the rope course, snares (which Katniss loves), camouflage and weights (both of which Peeta excels in).  in the Individual Sessions, both Katniss and Peeta unexpectedly get good scores from the gamemakers.  Finally in the interview with Caesar Flickerman, Peeta reveals his heart.
the guide ends with a description of the tribute's journey to the arena where 24 enters and only one comes out.


These are available at NATIONAL BOOKSTORE branches nationwide.

February 24, 2012

Book Review: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green

Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Category: Young Adult Romance

Shakespeare:  The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/ but in ourselves.

“It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you”- Augustus Waters

“you don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…. But you do have some say in who hurts you.  I like my choices”- Augustus Waters

“You are the side effect of an evolutionary process that cares little for individual lives. You are a failed experiment in mutation”- Peter Van Houten

“You gave me forever within the numbered days and I’m grateful”- Hazel Grace Lancaster

I have been anticipating this book for a while now.  Not just because it’s by John Green who is an amazing writer.  But also because of the story's premise.

A dying sixteen year old girl named Hazel Grace meets Augustus Waters, a gorgeous boy who also happens to have cancer.  He falls for her fast.  But Hazel, knowing her death is near, pulls back. 

Both are quick witted with very deep thoughts about everything, including a particular book written by a recluse, Peter Van Houten.  So Gus decides to use his one WISH (basically a wish granted as a gift by The Genie Foundation specifically for very sick children) to take Hazel to Amsterdam to meet the author.

The trip turns out to be good and bad.  Bad because Houten is a drunk loser who tells them nothing they want to know.  And Good because finally Hazel relents to loving Gus back.  But just when happiness seems possible for the two, Gus finds out his cancer has spread.  Now it’s just a matter of time before one of them dies.

The first few chapters were hard to process.  It felt like I was watching Joey and Dawson in the 90’s TV show Dawson’s creek in the way they talked to each other.  As if existentialism is a part of their daily discussion.  But slowly I fell in love with Hazel and Gus.  So much so that I almost bawled at the pre-eulogy.  But that’s getting ahead of the book.  

One thing about both is that they are brave, they fight to live and to love. Gus is a sweetheart.  His sunny disposition and love for Hazel breaks down her walls.  But the tables are turned past half of the book.  And you’ll see Hazel come into her own for Gus. To help him accept the hand they’ve been dealt. 

This is a great book that will squeeze you dry of tears.  Your heart will break. And you will be devastated.  But you will also appreciate that life is a gift, and that loving, no matter how short it may be, is always worth the eventual heartbreak.  
Read it and weep.

Out now in NATIONAL BOOKSTORE branches nationwide

February 21, 2012

Book Review: THESE ARMS OF MINE by Judy Lynn Hubbard

Author: Judy Lynn Hubbard
Publisher: Harlequin Kimani
Category:  Adult Fiction

A Marriage of Convenience?

Derrick Chandler needs a wife.  Or at least that’s what his best friend and campaign manager tells him is imperative if he plans to run for the US Senate. He doesn’t believe it, but readily changes his mind when beautiful Alesha Robinson enters his office. 

Alesha is no stranger to Derrick.  In fact she is the very reason for his heartbreak two years prior.  She dreads facing him again but has to because her brother Robert embezzled a lot of money from his campaign fund and Derrick intends to sue.  She needs to talk him out of his plan.  So Derrick sees the perfect compromise:  She marries him, He doesn’t sue.

Derrick makes his intentions clear.  Their marriage will be real in every sense of the word.  Alesha bites the bullet, not just to save her brother but also because deep inside she has never let him go.
They get married and play their parts perfectly in public.  Privately, though both in denial, they quickly gravitate towards each other physically and emotionally.  But just when everything is going well, Diana shows up.  Derrick’s ex-wife wants him back badly, not for love but for the political advantage she could have with him.  So Alesha fights for her marriage.  But will what started as a marriage of convenience lead to true and lasting love?

This is a short book and an easy read.  But though the characters are likable I did not feel attached to any of them.  The descriptions were repetitive and some lines were melodramatic.  The ending was a sweet feel-good wrap-up.  If all you want is a book with a happy ending, maybe this is for you.  otherwise, skip this one.

February 16, 2012

Book Review: THE DAUGHTERS JOIN THE PARTY by Joanna Philbin

Author: Joanna Philbin
Publisher: Poppy
Category:  Young Adult Fiction
The Daughters series is now available at NATIONAL BOOKSTORE branches nationwide.

They didn’t ask for fame.  They were born with it.

Emma Conway is a troublemaker.  After being caught trying to sneak into a boy’s dorm room, she is kicked out of her posh boarding school and forced to enroll in Chadwick , the private school her oh so perfect type-A brother Remington attends.

She quickly gets absorbed into the exclusive circle of Lizzie, Carina and Hudson.  The three are daughters of famous and powerful individuals: Lizzie’s mom is a supermodel, Carina’s dad is a Multi millionaire media mogul and Hudson’s mom is a world famous pop star.   Which is just perfect since Emma is the daughter of Senator Adam Conway who has just decided to run for President of the United States.  People are not supposed to know about this plan for months but Emma accidentally blurts it out at a party for her father. 

She suddenly finds herself an asset to the early campaign of CONWAY FOR AMERICA with her gift of gab and individuality.  Before long though she finds herself being changed to be the perfect presidential daughter whereas her brother, the perfect political son, is going the opposite way.

This is the fourth book in THE DAUGHTERS series by Joanna Philbin, herself a daughter of a famous father, TV host Regis Philbin.  Her personal knowledge of the lives of the rich and famous is obvious in the series which started with Lizzie’s story in The Daughters, followed by Carina’s in The Daughters Break the Rules and Hudson’s in The Daughters Take The Stage

What I like most about the whole series is its lightness.  There’s no heavy drama yet they tackle things teenagers deal with:  individuality, family problems, school drama, body image and relationships. Since this is teen fiction, of course there is romance involved, but I appreciate that it’s not overwhelming nor too dramatic.  It’s clean and sweet, as it should be. The lessons in these books should resonate with young readers who are trying to find their way in life. 

February 14, 2012

Book Review: THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Category: Young Adult Fiction

"Peeta....when did forever start?"- Katniss Everdeen
"....and right when your song ended, I knew- just like your mother- I was a goner" - Peeta Mellark
"Here's some advice.  Stay Alive."- Haymitch Abernathy
"Happy Hunger Games. and may the odds be EVER in your favor"- Effie Trinket

I just finished 3 books in 3 days. Needless to say my eyes hurt and i have a migraine.  But the books were worth it.  I am referring to the very popular trilogy, THE HUNGER GAMES.
It has been reviewed and talked about since the first book was released but it's only now that i actually made the effort to read them because i knew i would go through the stories fast.  They were THAT good. 
So good in fact that next month, we will be able to watch it on the big screen.  But before we do, here's the story.

North America is dead.  What's left of it is a civilization separated by 12 districts, each with  it's own specialty (mining, technology, food etc) that supplies the needs of the Capitol, their manipulative and violent government.  74 years before there was an uprising against them that decimated a big part of the population.  to memorialize this rebellion, to sow fear among the rebels and to hit them where it hurts.  the capitol sponsors the Hunger Games, an annual sport which forces each district to send 2 of their children, one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 to 18 as tribute to the games.  For this, the children are sent to the chosen arena. And of the 24 that enters, only one can survive to be declared the victor.

Katniss Everdeen has always loved her little sister Prim the most.  so when Prim was chosen to be a tribute, Katniss volunteers to take her place.  The boy chosen from her district was Peeta Mellark, a baker's son who many years before saved  Katniss and her family from starvation by giving her bread. Every district's tributes have one mentor, a former victor of the games.  Theirs was Haymitch, the town drunk.  On the way to the capitol for beautification, training and interview, Haymitch and Peeta form a plan. 

 On the night of the big televised interview, Peeta declares his love for Katniss.  It captures everyone's sympathy.  They need this as within the arena it is not just brains and talent for killing that matter  but sponsorships from people who will pay big money to send them food and items that they would need to survive.  Katniss pretends she's in love with Peeta, thinking that Peeta is pretending with her as well.  Besides she had Gale, her childhood friend, to go back to.  But Peeta wasn't just doing things for show. She becomes attached to him, so much so that when they reach the end of the games, she challenges the Capitol by making them choose.... Both of them would win or no one at all. 

This book is a marvel.  Romantic. Imaginative. A solid story. I can not tell you enough how much i loved reading...and re-reading this. You will fall in love with Peeta's loyalty and Katniss' bravery.
So before you go see the movie, read the book.  You won't be sorry.

Now available at NATIONAL BOOKSTORE branches nationwide

February 06, 2012

Book Review: ANYTHING by Michael Baron

Author:  Michael Baron
Publisher: Story Plant
Category:  Contemporary Romance

Would you do anything for the one you love even if it means losing her?

Ken and Melissa are getting married in a few days.  Happily in love, they can’t wait to make it official.  Especially Ken, whose life changed for the better when Melissa entered his life.  He loves Melissa so much that when the opportunity came for him to actually see her in different stages of her earlier life, he takes it with eyes wide open. Not knowing that he will find out a dark secret Melissa has kept from him, And has tried to forget herself.

 The secret devastates him, knowing very well that though in his eyes Melissa is still perfect, she carries within herself a burden that she shouldn’t have had to, a secret that has destroyed her dream of becoming a concert pianist.  

Ken decides to take his one chance to change Melissa’s past.  But of course we know that every action has a consequence, good or bad.  So in part Ken is successful.  He made Melissa whole again.  Problem is she doesn’t even know it.  In fact, she doesn’t know him.  What he knew of her, of their life together, was gone.  And though it seems impossible, he sets off to make Melissa love him again.

I love this story.  it reminds me of Nicholas Sparks' books.  Very romantic, yet simply written and easily understood.  A book full of heart and a really good ending.  A great read, especially for those who love contemporary romance with a touch of time travel.  I highly recommend Anything.

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