Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book Review : Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Product Details
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847386741
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847386748

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

Leviathan is a young adult fiction set in an alternate history World War I with Steampunk elements, wherein the Clankers are characterized by their use of mechanized war machines, while the Darwinists are characterized by their use of living creatures evolved specifically for war. The main characters in this story are the teenage son of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Prince Aleksander of Hohenburg and Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service.

The story is written from two different perspectives --- Alek and Deryn's. Both of them really are great characters. Alek learns the way of survival the hard way when both his parents are assassinated and he must flee Austria or he too risks being murdered. Deryn is a spunky, intelligent and brilliant airman. However, her secret of being a girl is in constant danger of being discovered.

I think Scott Westerfeld has done a good job in presenting the characters in this story, and his rich description of the mechanical robots, fabricated animals and the "gigantic flying whale" --- Leviathan, which is actually made up of lots of different living creatures really captivates me. The story itself is full of adventures, twists and turns, political intrigues and various scientific creations. However, I think the ending of the story seems a little abrupt, with Dr. Barlow (Darwin's granddaughter) fostering three mysterious eggs, although I know that the author probably intends to explain more about that in the sequel.

The illustrations by Keith Thompson are plain gorgeous! I love them! His drawings fit the story perfectly.

I'd recommend this book to those who enjoy steampunk and science fiction, although I have a feeling that it is mainly oriented towards teenagers (both the main characters are 15 years old). Overall, Leviathan is an entertaining read and I look forward to reading the next book in the series!

Rating: 4.000

My deepest gratitude to Kathryn from Simon & Schuster UK Ltd for sending me a review copy of Leviathan! Thank you, Kathryn! :)

Other versions:


Purchase Leviathan at
Simon & Schuster UK
/ Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Scott Westerfeld was born in Texas, and received a BA in philosophy from Vassar in 1985. He splits his time between New York City and Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Midnighters, Uglies, So Yesterday and Peeps. You can visit Scott Westerfeld's website to know more about him.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Review : Country Soaps by Marlene {Part 1}

Handmade from 100% Fresh Creamy Goats Milk

"You maybe asking why goat’s milk soaps? When our daughters started piano lessons the fall of 2002 ironically they took them on a goat farm. They fell in love with goats and received billy goats as a gift. Well you don’t get much from a billy goat so I urged the girls to save their money and buy a couple nanny goats, which they did. I had no idea how much milk a nanny goat could give. We made cheese, ice cream and then soap. I fell in love with the idea of offering our family natural made soap. Little by little word got out to the extended family about my goat’s milk soaps, so I made more. Then I started experimenting with colors and fragrances and soon I was hooked."
Goat’s milk is very high in vitamins, minerals and proteins as well as high in lactic acid which helps exfoliate dead skin cells and soften your skin. As all of you have already known, I received a package from Marlene last Saturday. So far, I've tried on 2 of the 4 products she sent me and I'm very satisfied with them. Now, let's go on to the review~

Patchouli  Goats Milk Soap
Patchouli Goats Milk Soap
Ingredients: goats milk, palm oil, castor oil, coconut oil, NaOH and essential oil.

Patchouli has been used for centuries in perfumes and continues to be so today. In several Asian countries, such as Japan and Malaysia, patchouli is also used as an antidote for venomous snakebites. Chinese medicine uses the herb to treat headaches, colds, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

The reason I chose this soap was because I never had the chance to try this product, even though I've always heard the term 'lavender patchouli' in soaps. I've heard that Patchouli has many uses, including healing skin problems, perfumes, and insect repellents. To some people the scent of patchouli is exotic, sensual, and luxurious, but I think it has a strong earthy smell. My sister complained about the overpowering scent after I used it.

However, I'm happy that it leaves my skin soft and smooth. The problem with soap is that it inevitably contains residual alkalis, usually in the form of sodium. Sodium is very disruptive to the stratum corneum, the upper layer of the skin. Repeated use of soap will have a drying effect because the sodium interferes with the ability of the skin to hold the body’s water in. Yes, it does make me feel like my body is covered with a thin layer of wax, but which soap doesn't? The most important thing is, it does not dry up my skin like some soaps do.

Rating: 3.685

White Cherry  Blossom Hand and Body Lotion
White Cherry Blossom Hand and Body Lotion $3.00
Soft floral scent, copy of a Victoria Secret fragrance

I enjoyed using this lotion made by Marlene. It has a sweet floral scent which reminds me of a perfume that my youngest aunt used when I was a small kid. It's not Victoria's Secret, but I'm not sure what. So it's true that scent is the strongest sense tied to memory.

I like that aloe vera juice is one of the ingredients Marlene used in making this lotion. Ancient cultures used aloe to treat hair loss, skin irritations and wounds. My mom also planted aloe vera once, and she sometimes used it to make cooling drinks for us. After removing the bitter latex, that is. Thinking about it right now really makes me drool!

Anyway, back to the lotion. Usually, I apply a thin layer of the lotion after bath. It leaves my skin smooth and silky, but not greasy. The scent is also long-lasting and will only fade after a long time. I really like this lotion!

Rating: 4.000

Please visit countrysoapsbymarlene for more goodies! All of Marlene's 8 oz. gel soaps are now available for $6.00 USD!

Marlene's Online Connections:
Twitter :: Facebook :: Artfire :: Hyenacart

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In My Mailbox

I got lots of goodies today! Thank you, Mr. Postman! :)

Won from Giveaways:
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

For Review:

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies, Pretties & Specials by Scott Westerfeld

I'd like to thank Kathryn from Simon & Schuster UK for sending me all these books! Love ya! :)


From Marlene @ Country Soaps by Marlene

Endless Love   Type Shower Gel SPECIAL
Endless Love Type Shower Gel SPECIAL $8.00 USD
>> Now available for $6.00 USD!!!

White Cherry   Blossom Hand and Body Lotion
White Cherry Blossom Hand and Body Lotion $3.00 USD

Old Fashion   Lilac Goats Milk Soap
Old Fashion Lilac Goats Milk Soap $4.00 USD

Patchouli   Goats Milk Soap
1 oz Patchouli Goats Milk Soap Sample - Free gift for me!

I will be writing a review for all these items on Friends & Family later, after I've tried them. Thanks for sending me this wonderful package, Marlene!

That's all for today!
À Bientôt! :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book Review : Lucky Baby by Meredith Efken
Lucky Baby by Meredith Efken

Product Details:
  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books; Original edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416595503
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416595502

All Meg Lindsay wants is to give a child the love and acceptance she wished she’d been given. When she talks her reluctant husband into adopting a Chinese orphan, she expects her dream to come true. But becoming a parent has a way of opening up painful doors from the past, and it’s all Meg can do to hold her new little family together. What started as a good intention could destroy her marriage and her family, especially if the daughter they’ve grown to love abandons them, too.

Meg’s journey is a magical one as East meets West and imagination aligns with reality. Lucky Baby takes the reader on a realistic yet mystical journey into the complexities of family life.

I had no idea how I'd love this book before I'd started reading it. The story was told from three different perspectives, mainly Meg Lindsay, Wen Ming and Eva Zhen An. I was deeply captivated by Meredith's wonderful literary prose. I felt as if there was a power in her writing that deeply affects the reader, be it happiness, joy, grief and sadness.

Growing up under the pressure and disapproval of her mother, Meg Lindsay was determined to be a mother who was able to shower selfless, unconditional love onto her adopted daughter, Eva. However, she sometimes wondered if her decision of adopting Eva was right, because her daughter seemed to hate America and was unhappy while living under the same roof with her. Eva constantly hurt her mother by telling everyone that Meg was not her birth mother and that she wanted to go back to China. But her love towards Eva had taken its roots in her heart and she always forgave Eva's defiance and harsh words.

I ran to her. I wrapped my arms around her and rocked her like a baby. She was getting so big, but still --- I needed to hold all of her at once. I pressed my face into her hair, the sweaty dampness like perfume to me. "I love you! You can hate me. You can tell the whole world I'm not your mom, but I still love you. I will always love you. I will not leave you. I'm staying. I'm staying. I'm staying." --- pg 217

Son of the famous physicist Naomi Ricci --- Lewis Lindsay, who was also Meg's husband, had spent his whole life experimenting to find the Higgs just because he wanted to earn his mother's love back again. He was abandoned by his mother when he was very young and suffered because he was deprived of his mother's love. Before his mother left, she told him to find the Higgs first if he wanted her back. He was at first afraid of the thought of adopting a child because he feared that he would do the same thing as his mother had done to him --- neglect and abandon his child. However, he proved himself wrong at last and that he was capable of caring and loving his child after all.

Wen Ming was an orphan with eye-sight problems. She was a very good friend of Eva, but she turned her love towards her mei mei (little sister) into a kind of possessiveness. Eventually, she learned that loving someone means letting go. An elusive woman taught her this.

"In a family, love doesn't depend on physical location. Love can travel the world in a single heartbeat. Love lets fo. and then bridges the distance. You would put those you love in a cage, but that's not love. Love sets free." --- pg 278

Meredith uses a literary technique called magical realism in writing this story, which includes some elements of fantasy in a realistic world. I don't find this type of writing easy to take in, but it does successfully connect Meg Lindsay's and Wen Ming's worlds together.

In a nutshell, Lucky Baby is a powerful and emotional read. It shows us that being a mother is not an easy task. The author also shows us the incredible influence a mother's love has on the life and development of her child and also her own inner growth. The special bond between a mother and her child is unbreakable and everlasting, even though it may endure various obstacles and heartbreaks. Readers are bound to love this book.

Rating: 5

I'd like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Meredith Efken, the author of Lucky Baby for sending me an ARC of Lucky Baby for this review. Thank you, Meredith!

Meredith Efken
MEREDITH EFKEN is the author of the critically acclaimed SAHM I Am series that traces the friendship of a group of stay-at-home mothers through their emails to each other. She is also owner of the Fiction Fix-It Shop, which offers freelance fiction editing and writing coaching, with the mission of encouraging other writers to reach their full potential. She serves on the steering team of her local writers’ group and volunteers as an online teacher for American Christian Fiction Writers.

Facebook | Twitter | Website | Blog

Get Lucky Baby Online

Amazon $26.29
Barnes & Noble $25.19
Books Christian $25.50
Oasis $34.49

Barnes & Noble $9.99
Whitcoulls $13.39

Amazon $11.19
Barnes & Noble $10.07
Simon & Schuster $13.99

* The prices above are based on respective websites. Shipping fees and tax charges are not included. Please visit the specific site(s) for more details.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Awesome Giveaways On The Blogosphere!

2330383Welcoming The Fall Giveaway

A copy of Revealers by Amanda Marrone
A copy of Wake by Lisa McMann
A signed Shade bookmark
A signed 13 To Life Postcard
A Tell Me A Secret sticker

There will be one (1) winner who will pick one (1) of the two books and all the swag. US & Canada ONLY!

Contest ends 29th September.

A Contest of Epic Proportions!
Ends October 17 at midnight, winners will be announced the next day. US and Canada only.

Hungry for HarperTeen Contest!!! *INTERNATIONAL*
This contest will end on October 15 at 4pm (GMT+8)

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod Eternally Awesome Giveaway!
This contest is open from RIGHT NOW! to September 21st, 2010 at 11:59pm.
This contest is open internationally!

September Competition
Competition is International. It ends September 30th.

September Competition
Competition is International. Ends September 30th.
Reading Clean Spotlight: The Caster Chronicles PLUS The Caster Contest
Giveaway is International and ends October 11, 2010!

Back to School Giveaway Bash!!

  • Giveaway is International
  • Giveaway ends Sept. 24

Angel StarSleepless
200 Followers in 2 Months Giveaway!!
- Our international friends are very much welcome to enter!
- The giveaway ends on September 7th 2010 at 11:59 (EST)

One more try :)

There will be 2 (or possibly more than 2) winners.
Prize pack #1 includes:
“Simplicity” – autographed and personalized
“Simplicity” mug

Prize pack #2 includes:
“Simplicity” – autographed and personalized

Contest is US ONLY and ends September 30th.

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Contest ends at 11:59pm EST September 30th, 2010. International.

20100827_1100 FOLLOW GIVEAWAY!!

*US and Canada addresses only! *This contest will end on September 12.

The Giveaway will run until 7th of September.

50+ Follower Giveaway!!
This giveaway is international! If you live in a country the Book Depository ships to, you're eligible to win. This giveaway is to celebrate the followers, so you must be a follower to enter. The contest will end September 15, 2010 at 11:59 EST.

Win Signed Books and Mega ARCs; Ends Sept. 6

Back-to-School ARC Therapy Giveaway

  • Matched by Ally Condie
  • Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney
  • Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
  • Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman

The contest will end on Labor Day, September 6th at 11:59 pm Eastern time. Winners will be announced on September 8th. Good luck!

Holy Bleep! A Paranormalcy (Pre-order) Giveaway!
The giveaway ends Saturday, August 28th (three days before the book is released). Giveaway is international.


Saradise ARC Extravaganza!

Guess what! This is open INTERNATIONALLY!!
The contest runs from August 18 - September 8!

YA prize pack 1

1027+ Follower & Bday Blow Out!

5+ Winners / 11 Prize Packs! {International} Ends Oct 11th!

Young Adult Prize Pack #1:

Hearts At Stake by Alyxandra Harvey {Signed}
Morganville Vampires Inspired Jewelry
& Swag!

This giveaway is international. If you live in a country the Book Depository ships to, you're eligible to win. Entry deadline: Thursday, September 30 at 11:59 EST.
  • Winner 1 wins two books, and will get to pick books first. The other winners, wins one book each. Winner 2 picks book second and winner 3 picks book third etc
  • The contest will close 27th of August 2010 at midnight CET.
  • The winners will be announced September 4th 2010.

Contest is INTERNATIONAL and ends August 31st.
Once contacted the winner will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address.

Summertime Giveaway
This giveaway is open internationally and will close on June 29, Midnight PST.
*I won Endless Summer! Yay!*

Win Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante (3 copies) - Ends June 27
*I won this! Yay!*

Massive Month-a-versary Giveaway!
The contest is open internationally, though if you live overseas and win one of the prize packs, know that I will be sending them the most economical (read: slowest) way possible. Winners will be picked using a random number generator, and will be notified within 72 hours of the contest’s end. *I won a bookplate! Yay!*

Charmed Thirds giveaway!!
US and Canada. This giveaway will end July 20th 2010. *I won this book! Yay!*