12 Days – June Kim

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June Kim is an illustrator and cartoonist. Before coming to New York, June studied Japanese language and literature in Seoul, South Korea. Upon finishing her junior year, she came to New York to study cartooning at the School of Visual Arts. Since graduating in 2002, her comic work has been published in a few highly acclaimed anthologies such as New Thing Vol.2, but she is most well known for her work on Australian rock band JET’s album cover, as well as contributing illustrations to Flaunt magazine, Teen People, and Tokion. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, and when not working as a freelance illustrator, she can be found slowly chasing her dream to become a full time cartoonist. Her chase can be witnessed at http://www.nofishentertainment.com.

The book in one sentence: Jackie’s lover Noah dies and she thinks consuming Noah’s ashes (in smoothies) in 12 days will quicken her grieving process.

Who would you recommend it to: I’m not sure. This is my first time reading manga.

OK bits: I like the whole same sex romance premise.

Boring bits: More like there were parts I didn’t understand. The characters look alike to me and it was difficult to differentiate what was flashback and who is a guy or girl!

Verdict: I don’t know if this was good manga. I like the plot but it was just so-so for me.

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The Constant Princess – Philippa Gregory

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Philippa Gregory is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, The Queen’s Fool, The Virgin’s Lover, and The Boleyn Inheritance. A writer and broadcaster for radio and television, she lives in England. She welcomes visitors and messages at her website, http://www.philippagregory.com.

The book in one sentence: The historical fiction of Queen Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of King Henry VIII.

Who would you recommend it to: Readers interested in the English monarchy, or someone interested in historical romance.

OK bits: I like the romance between Catalina (her Spanish name – Katherine was the English version) and Arthur, the Prince of Wales she was betrothed to before he died unexpectedly.

Boring bits: I didn’t like the beginning, and how Katherine actually think it’s God’s bidding for her to be queen, that she rationalises her schemes and tricks to become Queen of England. However, the story explains well why she has such an outlook in life.

Random review quote:

“Another terrific novel by Philippa Gregory, The Constant Princess portrays the lies, deceit, and behind-the-scenes manipulations at the Tudor court and may just answer the burning question about Katherine’s first marriage and how her own monumental lie changed the course of history in England” -Romance Reviews Today, Romrevtoday.com

Verdict: It was pretty boring at first, but I was hooked into it after a while. I learnt more about the English monarchy in this book than I did in my English Civilization class. 😛 (But that’s just a small bit, having just focused on Katherine’s story, as well as being fictionalised. That said, I’d definitely be looking out for the author’s other books on the Tudor royalty.)

The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks

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Nicholas Sparks based this novel on the lives of his wife’s beloved grandparents. The coauthor of Wokini: The Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding, he lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.

The book in one sentence: Love story that is both generic and heartbreaking.

Who would you recommend it to: People who like romance.

OK bits: The second half of the book. Despite its bittersweetness, it makes the story more touching.

Boring bits: The first half of the book. I was rolling my eyes mentally because it was just so cheesy… which probably why the second half is so good because I didn’t expect that.

Random review quote:

“The lyrical beauty of this touching love story… will captivate the heart of every reader…. and establish Nicholas Sparks as a gifted novelist” – Rocky Mountain News

Verdict: The first part is horribly corny, but it was worth all those cringing moments to get to the second half of the book. Something to read at least once.

Chocolat – Joanne Harris

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Joanne Harris is the author of Sleep, Pale Sister, The Evil Seed, the Whitbread-shortlisted Chocolat (now a major film starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin and Johnny Depp), Blackberry Wine and Five Quarters of the Orange. She lives in Barnsley, Yorkshire, with her husband and small daughter.

The book in one sentence: A mysterious woman and her daughter sets up a decadent chocolatier at a sleepy French village in the month of Lent.

Who would you recommend it to: Chocoholics.

OK bits: The many passages dedicated to describing the damn decadent desserts. If reading that doesn’t make you feel like eating a block of chocolate, I don’t know what will!

Boring bits: The airy-fairy bits that I don’t quite understand. The kind which literary critics praise as beautiful prose and the kind which unliterary folks like me scratch their heads and think that just went right over my head.

Random review quote:

“This delicious, bewitching novel provides the antidote to all those late 20th century body shape obsessions; to all those tired and tiring Bridget Jones stereotypes. Here’s a story, written by a woman, that celebrates chocolate without guilt! … Harris unfolds a huge tale of life, love, death and bereavement, of fear and violence, of murder and bravery and – most important – happiness. The author’s joy in her creation is obvious and infectious” — Scotland on Sunday

Verdict: It isn’t the best chocolate brownie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, chopped nuts and a huge drizzle of chocolate sauce. It is akin to eating a very pleasant chocolate créme brulèe, and sometimes that is good enough.

Book: Starring You

Ever wanted to be a character in a romance novel or a kids storybook? Book by You can help you achieve that dream.

Enjoy the adventure of starring in your very own personalized novel! You co-author our books by providing the names, features and places to include in your personalized novel. These novels are full-length, 100 to 199-page books that look and feel just like a classic paperback novel. Featured on television, radio and newspapers across the country… unique gifts to be cherished forever!

Personally, I would love this. I’d want to have a romance novel, a plot á la Before Sunrise.

Sigh.

I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

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Born in 1896, Dodie Smith grew up in Manchester. She trained at RADA and began her playwriting career in 1931 with Autumn Crocus; Dear Octopus in 1938 was her abiding success. In 1939 she went to the USA with her manager, Alec Beesley, whom she married later that year. There she wrote for Hollywood, made a close friend of Christopher Isherwood and acquired the first of her beloved Dalmatian dogs. I Capture the Castle was published in 1949, selling over a million copies. The Beesleys returned to the UK in 1954 and in 1956 The Hundred and One Dalmatians was published. Dodie Smith died in November 1990. Valerie Grove, who introduces this novel, has written her biography, Dear Dodie, championed by Fiona McCarthy in the Observer as ‘a merry book… with a faultless sense of period… making a persuasive case for a long neglected talent’.

The book in one sentence: 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain begins a journal at the peak of the poverty of her eccentric family living in a run-down castle, never expecting the changes in her life which would follow soon.

Who would you recommend it to: People who like the romance genre. Very romantic and idealistic.

Best bits: The quirkiness of the characters and the romantic atmosphere set by their castle residence in a small English village.

Boring bits: Descriptions of the castle and the surrounding. You can tell I don’t take to that sort of writing. Give me action!

Randomly picked quote:

’I know of few novels – except Pride and Prejudice – that inspire as much fierce lifelong affection in their readers’ – Joanna Trollope

Verdict: A nice classic read, very girly and romantic. I’m quite bummed by the ending as it’s left somewhat hanging. I also wanted to know what happened to other characters, like Stephen, the son of the house servant, who left for London to be a model and actor after his love was unreciprocated by Cassandra.