Milestone: Ramsey at 9

nine months later, i have a boisterous, bubbly baby boy who never fails to bring a smile to my face every single day.

he has fangs! those two in the upper and three teeth in the mid lower region.

he munches on anything. eggnog cookies, marie biscuits, pan de sal. he now eats rice, mangoes and oranges. oh, there’s also the remote control. 😀

he sings. he shouts. he grins.

he stands up, almost walks. he sits up without support. he dangles from his crib side and inside the car like a monkey. he grips very hard.

and he bites. little, crunchy bites.

here’s mommy thanking HIM for your amazing growth and progress.

i would give up everything, before i separate myself from you.

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.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

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Book Review: Bartimaeus #1: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

Rating: StarStarStarStar

Synopsis:

Nathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the “ultimate sacrifice” for a “noble destiny.” If leaving his parents and erasing his past life isn’t tough enough, Nathaniel’s master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy’s only saving grace is the master’s wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him.

Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine.

***** ***** *****

I’ll start by saying this is the first time i’ve read something about djinnis. Yes, Bartimaeus, is one. But beware for he is not the kind who grants three wishes. Maybe he will, but he will twist it so that you’ll curse him instead of thanking him. And you don’t need to free him to get those wishes – you have to capture him and make him do what you want.

An apprentice named Nathaniel did just that. In order to get back to a magician, Simon Lovelace, who publicly humiliated him, he summoned the powerful djinni Bartimaeus to do his bidding – steal the amulet ofSamarkandthat is currently in Lovelace’s possession. This summoning is advanced, way over his education. But Nathaniel is confident. Unfortunately, Bartimaeus and other forces have other plans. Suddenly, Nathaniel is caught between pushing through with his revenge and dealing with an old djinni who has the power to crush him. Not to mention the enemies of Bartimaeus he accumulated over time.

Nathaniel is crazy but good crazy. He is intelligent and clever for his age. His rapport with Bartimaeus is such a laugh trip! At the start Nathaniel seemed like any other brat who was reprimanded by an elder – he was vindictive. The urge to revenge was so great that he concocted a plan no apprentice will think of. What, summoning a djinni as old as Bartimaeus and make him do your bidding is just a piece of cake?… not! But as the consequences of his actions unfold, he became contrite, even guilty. In the end, he decided to make things right. And what he did to defeat the enemy will make any master of his very proud.

Bartimaeus is one those characters i love to hate (because he constantly antagonizes the hero) but i’ve come to love. If Nathaniel is a brat, then Bartimaeus is one stubborn, conceited djinni. Sometimes cruel, other times he’s just plain arrogant. A powerful djinni like him can turn an apprentice’s bidding around and into his advantage, right? It is funny how he counteracts Nathaniel’s orders with his defiant actions. His past is intriguing and more so, his character. He admired Nathaniel yet at the same time he planned to get rid of Nathaniel after doing his bidding.

I liked that even as they hate each other, they’ve come to know the story behind their lives and how it led them to where they are. They understood each other despite the hate. I liked that the ending wrapped up with Nathaniel and Bartimaeus looking after each other. Could they have become friends?… nah. That’s pushing it too far. Lol

I wanna know more of Bartimaeus’ past. I wanna know what happens to Nathaniel being an apprentice to a new master. And i wanna know where Nathaniel’s and Bartimaeus’ relationship will go. I’m sure i won’t be disappointed with their bantering. Though i’m rooting for Nathaniel to outwit the djinni… Ha!

This book is witty and funny. Perfect for a summer read.

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.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

Book Review: In Death #2: Glory in Death by J.D. Robb

Rating: StarStarStarStar

Synopsis:

From Nora Roberts writing as J. D. Robb comes the second novel in the number-one New York Times-bestselling series starring New York Lieutenant Eve Dallas, now in a special hardcover edition.

It is 2058, New York City. In a world where technology can reveal the darkest of secrets, there’s only one place to hide a crime of passion—in the heart….

Even in 2058, when genetic testing usually weeds out any violent hereditary traits before they can bloom, murder still happens. The first victim is found lying on a sidewalk in the rain. The second is murdered in her own apartment building. Lieutenant Eve Dallas has no problem finding connections between the two crimes. Both victims were beautiful and highly successful women. Their glamorous lives and loves were the talk of the city. And their intimate relations with men of great power and wealth provide Eve with a long list of suspects—including her own lover, Roarke.

As a woman, Eve is compelled to trust the man who shares her bed. But as a copy, it’s job to follow every lead…to investigate every scandalous rumor…to explore every secret passion, no matter how dark.

Or how dangerous…

***** ***** *****

Eve Dallas is back! She is one of my fave heroines. such a badass!

After reading Naked in Death (book 1), i was excited to read the next in the series.

Eve and Roarke are now a (sex) couple. Eve wants their relationship to stay within the bedroom. Roarke wants the real thing. While Eve sorts out her mess of a life, she now has to take care of recent crimes involving powerful women.

The story was little bit slow to unravel for my taste. Although the elements are there for a typical suspenseful read. A calculated killer. A common denominator among victims. An undefined motive. My question was: how come Eve cannot uncover the culprit earlier? Is she losing her touch now that she has a personal life?

It is refreshing to see that somehow, Eve is opening up to Roarke. Her past is sneaking in the pages, waiting to be read and understood. And the conflict that seemed to dampen their relationship was just dealt with quickly. No beating around the bush. And that’s just fair. After all, they are both adults. Things should be kept simple. The author saw that there’s no need to stretch it out until the end. And that’s good.

The killer was among my ‘guess’ list. He was a weak villain, if you ask me. A typical sociopath.

Did i say i was now a Roarke groupie? *wink* dark character. Scary past. Loads of money. And can definitely stand his ground in a fistfight. Let’s go Roarke! Oh, and marry me (instead of Eve)? Lol

Sequels should be better than the first book. i’m a little disappointed. The plot has potential to be even more twisted. But it is still a good mystery to read. Not to mention Roarke crumpling the sheets. *meows* hahaha!

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.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

Book Review: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Rating: StarStarStarStar

Synopsis:

Incarceron is a prison unlike any other: Its inmates live not only in cells, but also in metal forests, dilapidated cities, and unbounded wilderness. The prison has been sealed for centuries, and only one man, legend says, has ever escaped.
           
Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, can’t remember his childhood and believes he came from Outside Incarceron. He’s going to escape, even though most inmates don’t believe that Outside even exists. And then Finn finds a crystal key and through it, a girl named Claudia. 
           
Claudia claims to live Outside—her father is the Warden of Incarceron and she’s doomed to an arranged marriage. If she helps Finn escape, she will need his help in return. But they don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost far more than they know. 
           
Because Incarceron is alive.

***** ***** *****

Incredible. That’s what it is.

What if you are a prisoner, and the prison you live inside is alive? As in looking at you, listening your every step, and commands the world you live in to whatever it wants? That is Finn.

What if you live in a place where people live backwards? It is way past the 21st century but the rich people are called lords, who live in castles, who ride horses? The people are to live like it is during medieval times and yet there are ingenious devices like scanners, gravity box and portals? That is where Claudia is.

The story is unique, a very intricate mystery in itself.

Finn is inside Incarceron, but he believes he came from the Outside. He is a prisoner in a prison where he can roam freely or do anything. In the forest. In the train tracks. In dilapidated structures. People there are sickly, and poor, and most times violent. After all, they are all prisoners there. But even if they are not inside the cells, there’s a catch: when Incarceron senses trouble, it will contain whatever and wherever it is that needs containment. LOCKDOWN. Literally. So Finn intends to escape this horrible place. Yet escape is impossible. Well, almost. Then he obtained a key. Suddenly, escape seems no longer bleak.

Claudia is Outside, trapped in an impending marriage she doesn’t want to take part of but will make her a queen. When she gets hold of a key, she realizes there might be another world where she can go to. Where there is freedom. And when using the key she can talk to a prisoner who is actually inside Incarceron, the plan to escape her fate seems possible.

Together, Finn and Claudia find themselves working an escape that will benefit them both. But it really is not that simple. Because Incarceron knows their plans. And it doesn’t want anyone escaping it. For the second time.

The first ten pages led Finn to someone who has the key – a lot of action instantly transpired in those pages. I was hooked right then and there.

It was suspenseful. After each chapter, i was gloomy because there are scenes where Finn almost always gets killed. That’s how dangerous the prison is. I’m constantly thinking: ‘he’s never going to make it’ or ‘he’ll die now, that’s for sure’ or ‘oh man, not again!’. I have to give it to the author, because she makes me want to read on and on. I just have to know what happens next!

Claudia is very clever, relentless and as his father the Warden says, ruthless. She was raised and educated to be a future queen. And it suits her. She is constantly defiant to her father. She usually goads her tutor Jared to support her decisions and plans. She is determined to stop her marriage to Caspar. There are moments when she can’t control her emotions and eventually her bursts of temper made me think of her as this stupid, spoiled and immature girl who only does the things she did just because there’s nothing else exciting to do.

In every chapter there’s a new twist. A new turn that is darker, nastier, and more sinister. The ride i had while reading this is thrilling. The adventure given by Incarceron is definitely wicked!

There are scenes that remind me of some movies and i was just happy to let my imagination wander! It made it easier to picture the world Finn was in.

1 Jormanric and the Comitatus – Mad Max

2 Finn as the Tribute to the Beast – Beowolf

3 Blaize and his ‘baloon/bubble’ of a ship – Waterworld

I also remembered the tv series Prison Break. It is similar to Incarceron. Minus the concrete walls and guards.

The book has me guessing til the end. I admit that i have no idea where the author will take me.

Can Finn trust his oath brother, Keiro? Is the sapient Gildas crazy enough to escape that he’ll offer even Finn to the Beast? Is attia a friend or a lover? And the million-dollar-question remained: will Incarceron let Finn escape its clutches?

Is Claudia brave enough to defy his father for the biggest trick she planned? Can she really go through the marriage and accept her fate as the future Queen? Does Claudia have the resources to help Finn out of the prison?

I have no definite answers to all of those questions when i’m reading a book. And i am usually a good guesser! Let’s just say that i am unsure that this book will have an ending that i love. And yet i keep on reading.

So the ending left me wanting for more.

I could’ve given a five-star rating but in the first part of the book, i kept looking how far i’ve gone with the book. I was anxious to finish it. Why? Because i thought Finn, Claudia and the others don’t have enough time to escape. That feeling gave me the notion that the book was too long. Or maybe it’s just me?

Also, the author never explained some of its coined terms. She assumed the reader will be intelligent enough to figure it out as the story progresses. Well, i was stumped most of the time while reading it. Does that mean i’m getting slow on the uptake?

Sapienti – are they magicians or scientists? Maybe alchemists?

Civicry – are they prisoners far more civil to be called as prisoners?

Post-Era, Years of Rage – ??? (the meaning was still vague even after finishing the book)

It isn’t easy to say this but Incarceron is my most favourite character (if you can call it that). She sounds like a mom. Disciplines like a mom. Never wants to let her children go, like a mom. It all has the power in the prison world and yet it has that one thing it wants but can never have. For a second there, while reading its musings, i felt sorry for Incarceron.

This is a great read. Dwell in a world that is, literally… alive. *evil grin*

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.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”