- Rhonda Ryan @The Style Shepherd
- Shy @ The Bibliophile's Journal
- Kristi @ The Story Siren
- Sara @ The Hiding Spot
- Lea @ YA Book Queen
- Alyson @ Kid Lit Frenzy
- Faye @ Ramblings of A Teenage Bookworm
Monday, August 30, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
I stayed at the Golden Crown Plaza Hotel, a 3-star hotel located at the town centre. My family shared two adjoining rooms as shown below. I still remembered our room number, 510 and 514.
It's not so clean, as other tourists just checked out from the rooms and the room keepers were busy cleaning up the mess they left behind. They were all full, previously. The same condition applies with Lee Garden Hotel, a classy hotel which we were supposed to stay at in the first place.
"tut-tut" car everywhere. If one or two people goes on the car, the drivers will collect 20 baht each. If there are more people, you can get a ride for 15 baht.
At the Hatyai Klong Hair Floating Market, I bought some nice snacks. They sell duku langsat at the price of 30 baht per kilo. That's equivalent to RM 3.00. If you don't buy them here, don't worry, because you can get them cheaper at 10 or 15 baht at other places. Just a tip while buying duku langsat: If you see a lot of ants on them, don't think they're bad. They must be free of insecticides and very sweet and tasty. I bought 3 pieces doughnuts at the price of 20 baht. And guess what? They tasted just like Dunkin Doughnuts! We also bought fried quill's eggs, keropok ikan, chicken meat balls, some kuihs and manggo+sticky rice. They were quite delicious. Everything here is around 10-30 bahts. Too bad I did not see anyone selling fried cockroaches and grasshoppers.
We had breakfast at Da Ren Dimsum shop at 5.30 Thai time. We were too early, actually, as they start their business at 6 o'clock. But what's the point of sending your customers away when they have arrived? They let us in and we chose an assortment of Hong Kong dimsums. I love the dumplings with prawn fillings. Yummy! Mom ordered two bowls of bak kut teh too. In Hatyai, you can see people selling bak kut teh almost everywhere. We spent a total of 175 bahts, which is totally worth it. It's approximately RM 3 per person.
Photo courtesy of yv0nne
Monday, August 23, 2010
Aaaahhh...I want to eat this! Can someone bake it for me?
It is not until your spoon breaks through the Molten Chocolate Cake's outer crust, that you find its pudding-like center. This dessert has been described as souffle-like, cake-like, brownie-like, mousse-like, and pudding-like, and that is because it has all of these characteristics. Molten Chocolate Cakes, also known as Chocolate Lava Cakes, have a rich and chocolately flavor, and a texture that is dense and moist. These cakes will rise beautifully as they bake (like a souffle), but once they are removed from the oven they will slowly deflate.
New York Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is credited with inventing this cake back in 1987. The story goes that he pulled a chocolate sponge cake from the oven before it was completely done. As their name implies, Molten Chocolate Cakes are usually served hot, often with a chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream, softly whipped cream, clotted cream or creme fraiche. Leftovers can be refrigerated and eaten cold the next day (or reheated in the microwave). The one thing everyone agrees on is that they have an intense chocolate flavor so use a very good dark chocolate. You can use either a bittersweet or semi sweet but look for a chocolate that has a lovely shiny finish (a sign that the chocolate was cooked at the right temperature for the right amount of time) and one that has that wonderful 'snap' when you break it into pieces.
When making these cakes you can use individual ramekins, molds, custard cups, or even muffin tins. The cakes can be served in their molds but if you want to remove them from their cups before serving, it is important to generously butter each mold so the baked cakes release easily onto your serving plate. You may want to first run a sharp knife around each cake before unmolding. The batter can be made several hours in advance of baking. Just pour the batter into the individual molds, cover each mold with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you are ready to bake them. The cakes are baked until set, yet the centers will still look a little wet and wobbly. You may notice some cracks on the top surface. As the cakes cool the chocolate sauce in the center of the cake will continue to set.
Molten Chocolate Cakes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Generously butter 4 - 3/4 cup (180 ml) molds, ramekins, or custard cups and dust the insides with granulated white sugar. Place the prepared molds on a baking sheet and set aside while you make the chocolate cakes.
In a stainless steel bowl suspended over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and set aside while you whip the egg yolks.
In your electric mixer beat the egg yolks and 1/3 cup (65 grams) sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy. (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.) Beat in the vanilla extract and then fold in the melted chocolate mixture.
In another clean bowl whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 1 tablespoon of granulated white sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula or wire whisk gently fold the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, just until incorporated. Do not over mix or the batter will deflate. Divide the batter between the prepared molds, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the outside edges of the cakes are set but the middle still looks a little wet. You may have cracks on the top surface of the cakes.
Immediately remove from oven and let them rest for a minute or two. Run a palette or sharp knife around the edge of each cake and then invert onto the center of each serving plate. Carefully remove the mold. Sprinkle the top of each cake with confectioners sugar and place a dollop of softly whipped cream, clotted cream, creme fraiche, or vanilla ice cream on top of each warm cake.
Note: You can prepare the chocolate mixture several hours ahead of time. Simply make the recipe, pour into the prepared molds, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Bake just before serving. When the batter is cold the cakes may take a minute or two longer to bake.
Makes 4 - 3/4 cup (180 ml) individual cakes.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
WIN a signed copy of Sleepless by Cyn Balog!
Eron De Marchelle isn't supposed to feel a connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce human charges to sleep. While ...more Eron De Marchelle isn't supposed to feel a connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce human charges to sleep. While he can communicate with his charges in their dreams, he isn't encouraged to--after all, getting too involved in one human's life would prevent him helping his other charges get their needed rest.
But he can't deny that he feels something for Julia. Julia, with her fiery red hair and her sad dreams. Just weeks ago, her boyfriend died in a car accident, and Eron can tell that she feels more alone than ever. Eron was human once too, many years ago, and he remembers how it felt to lose the one he loved. Eron has always felt protective of Julia . . . but now, when she seems to need him more than ever, he can't seem to reach her . . .
Sandmen are forbidden from communicating with humans outside their dreams. But will Eron be willing to risk everything for a chance to be with the person he loves?
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The process was started before the arch of the foot had a chance to develop fully, usually between the ages of three and fourteen. Binding usually started during the winter months so that the feet were numb, meaning the pain would not be as extreme.
- First, each foot would be soaked in a warm mixture of herbs and animal blood; this was intended to soften the foot and aid the binding. Then, the toenails were cut back as far as possible to prevent in-growth and subsequent infections, since the toes were to be pressed tightly into the sole of the foot. To prepare her for what was to come next, the girl's feet were delicately massaged. Cotton bandages, 3 m long and 5 cm wide (10 ft×2 in), were prepared by soaking them in the blood and herb mixture. To enable the size of the feet to be reduced, the toes on each foot were curled under, then pressed with great force downwards and squeezed into the sole of the foot until the toes break. This was all carried out with no pain relief, causing the girl to experience severe pain. The broken toes were then held tightly against the sole of the foot. The foot was then drawn down straight with the leg and the arch forcibly broken. The actual binding of the feet was then begun. The bandages were repeatedly wound in a figure-eight movement, starting at the inside of the foot at the instep, then carried over the toes, under the foot, and round the heel, the freshly broken toes being pressed tightly into the sole of the foot. At each pass around the foot, the binding cloth was tightened, pulling the ball of the foot and the heel ever close together, causing the broken foot to fold at the arch, and pressing the toes underneath, this would cause the young girl excruciating pain. When the binding was completed, the end of the binding cloth was sewn tightly to prevent the girl from loosening it, and the girl was required to stand on her freshly broken & bound feet to further crush them into shape. As the wet bandages dried, they constricted, making the binding even tighter.
- The girl's broken feet required a great deal of care and attention, and they would be unbound regularly. Each time the feet were unbound, they were washed, the toes carefully checked for injury, and the nails carefully and meticulously trimmed. When unbound, the broken feet were also kneaded to soften them and make the joints and broken bones more flexible, and were soaked in a concoction that caused any necrotic flesh to fall off.
Immediately after this pedicure, the girl's broken toes were folded back under and the feet were rebound. The bindings were pulled ever tighter each time, so that the process became more and more painful. Whilst unbound, the girl's feet were often beaten, especially on the soles, to ensure that her feet remained broken and flexible. This unbinding and rebinding ritual was repeated as often as possible (for the rich at least once daily, for poor peasants two or three times a week), with fresh bindings. It was generally an elder female member of the girl's family or a professional foot binder who carried out the initial breaking and ongoing binding of the feet. This was considered preferable to having the mother do it, as she might have been sympathetic to her daughter's pain and less willing to keep the bindings tight. A professional foot binder would ignore the girl's cries and would continue to bind her feet as tightly as possible. Professional foot binders would also tend to be more extreme in the initial breaking of the feet, sometimes breaking each of the toes in two or three separate places, and even completely dislocating the toes to allow them to be pressed under and bound more tightly. This would cause the girl to suffer from devastating foot pain, but her feet were more likely to achieve the 7 cm (3 in) ideal. The girl was not allowed to rest after her feet had been bound; however much pain she was suffering, she was required to walk on her broken and bound feet, so that her own body weight would help press and crush her feet into the desired shape.- The most common problem with bound feet was infection. Despite the amount of care taken in regularly trimming the toenails, they would often in-grow, becoming infected and causing injuries to the toes. Sometimes for this reason the girl's toenails would be peeled back and removed altogether. The tightness of the binding meant that the circulation in the feet was faulty, and the circulation to the toes was almost cut off, so any injuries to the toes were unlikely to heal and were likely to gradually worsen and lead to infected toes and rotting flesh. If the infection in the feet and toes entered the bones, it could cause them to soften, which could result in toes dropping off—though this was seen as a positive, as the feet could then be bound even more tightly. Girls whose toes were more fleshy would sometimes have shards of glass or pieces of broken tiles inserted within the binding next to her feet and between her toes to cause injury and introduce infection deliberately. Disease inevitably followed infection, meaning that death from septic shock could result from foot-binding, but a surviving girl was more at risk for medical problems as she grew older. In the early part of the binding, many of the foot bones would remain broken, often for years. However, as the girl grew older, the bones would begin to heal, although even after the foot bones had healed they were prone to re-breaking repeatedly, especially when the girl was in her teens and her feet were still soft. Older women were more likely to break hips and other bones in falls, since they could not balance securely on their feet, and were less able to rise to their feet from a sitting position. Since the women in China weren't able to walk properly anymore, most had to have servants do most of the cleaning, cooking, and caring of children and husband.
Women with such deformed feet avoided placing weight on the front of the foot and tended to walk predominantly on their heels. As a result, women who underwent foot-binding walked in a careful, cautious, and unsteady manner. The very fact that the bound foot was concealed from men's eyes was, in and of itself, sexually appealing.
Another attribute of a woman with bound feet was the limitations of her mobility and, therefore, her inability to take part in politics, social life, and the world at large. Bound feet rendered women dependent on their families, particularly their men, and, therefore, became an alluring symbol of chastity and male ownership, since a woman was largely restricted to her home and could not venture far without an escort or the help of watchful servants.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
- Reading level: Young Adult
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK, April 2010
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847388051
- ISBN-13: 9781847388056
- List Price: £6.99
Brittany Ellis has it all - she's beautiful, rich, and has a gorgeous boyfriend. But appearances can be deceiving. Underneath her glorious, perfect facade, she is burdened by the strict demands of her mother and she has to prevent her parents from sending her disabled sister, Shelley away.
Alejandro (Alex) Fuentes is a gangster from the Latino Blood. His sole aim of joining the gang is to protect his family. But deep down, he wants to get out from the gang and be successful in life.
Two people who are at opposite sides of the world are brought together in a Chemistry class. At first, there is only hatred for each other. But as they start to understand each other deeper, a mutual bond forms between them. Will Alex follow the steps of his late father on a journey with no return? Is Brittany willing to reveal her deepest secrets to Alex? Will they be together at last? You'll have to read this book to find out!
I love this book! It's so good that I can't stop reading it! In my opinion, the relationship between Alex and Brittany is very well-written. It's very plausible, and the teenage angst instilled is in a suitable amount. Each chapter is told from alternating point of views - Alex's and Brittany's. This enables readers to judge the characters' situations based on both their perspectives and get a more exact idea of their different ways of thinking and lifestyles. Both narrators are quite good, but sometimes it's hard for me to understand what Alex is speaking because I don't understand Spanish.
Although this book is mainly about the romance between Alex and Brittany, it actually tells us that we cannot judge a book by its cover, nor a person by his or her appearance. It also reflects the various social issues that exist in our society, such as drug abuse and gangsterism.
One good thing I noticed about this book is that Simone never try to impress readers with flowery writing. She uses her words as a medium to express her ideas in a clever and honest way --- and look, she has done it so brilliantly in Perfect Chemistry! The epilogue of this story will leave readers smiling in delight. I never expected that to happen!
As a conclusion, I'm in love with this book and the characters. I'd definitely give it 5 stars! The mere thought of Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry #2) fills me with excitement and anticipation!
*Please note that there are adult contents, gangsterism and profanity in this book. I suggest parental guidance for children under 16 years of age.
I want to thank Kathryn from Simon & Schuster UK for sending me a paperback copy of Perfect Chemistry for this review! Thank you so much, Kathryn!
Meet Simone Elkeles
Buy Perfect Chemistry (paperback) at:
Simone Elkeles' Website
Perfect Chemistry Website
Friday, August 13, 2010
- Reading level: Young Adult
- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 edition (May 12, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312555113
- ISBN-13: 978-0312555115
This book is simply amazing! I've not read a book with such a plausible, realistic storyline and gripping characters for quite some time. The Chosen One tells the story of a 13-year-old girl who lives in an isolated place where the community practices polygamy. Kyra's love for books other than the Bible makes her feel sinful as the Prophet Childs says that those are the words of the devil.
When the prophet proclaims that he has a vision from God, Kyra's life is about to change drastically, and her fate is sealed once and for all, because she has been "chosen" to marry her 60-year-old uncle, and to become his seventh wife in less than a month.
Being a strong-willed and determined young girl, Kyra resists this marriage and thinks about the possibilities of getting a taste of freedom by trying to escape. Will she succeed in escaping the religious cult that has been controlling her ever since she was born?
Kyra is a wonderful character and I really admire her courage and willpower. She is the perfect protagonist for The Chosen One. She has to make a difficult choice : to stay with her family and wed her abusive uncle, or pursue freedom with the possibility of facing a death sentence.
This book brings up a few social issues which are worthy to be discussed about. First of all, there is this personal freedom issue. Doesn't everyone deserves the freedom of choosing whom to marry and how they should live their lives? It is extremely unfair for the girls in Kyra's community to be coerced to marry old men and become "baby-making machines" and sex-slaves of their husbands. Any girl who tries to defy a marriage instructed by the Prophet will be mercilessly beaten up or killed with a rifle gun.
Each of us know that religions are meant to teach us to be good and virtuous. However, in this story, Prophet Childs uses his authority and social rank to rule over The Chosen Ones. He feeds himself with power by making others' lives hard in God's name. He always ends every word of his own by saying, " This is God's will."
Another thing is, the people in the community has little knowledge of what is happening around them as Prophet Childs has already banned all kinds of reading materials except the Bible. I believe this enables the prophet to remain in control of the whole society effortlessly and maintain his holiness. How can one who seeks power, money and fame by exploiting God's name be a prophet?
Kyra's heartbreaking account made me sad, angry and sympathetic at the same time. I cried for her tragic experiences and personal loss. My heart was literary in my throat when Kyra is hunted down by the God Squad. I'm in awe by her extraordinary valor and inner strength.
In a few words, The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams is a remarkable, thought-provoking and gripping novel. No one should ever miss this book.
My deepest gratitude to Kathryn from Simon & Schuster UK for sending me a paperback copy of The Chosen One for this review! Thank you, Kathryn!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The fish stinks. To be honest, I've never seen the insides of a fish. All I know is to eat it. Not that I like them anyway... They smell fishy! :)
So this is what we got:
Actually, all we do is cut it out without even knowing what is it. When the teacher asks us what is that thing, we say, "Dunno... gills, maybe ?" See, that's how we are.
Next, we cut this frog open. Forgive me for such a small picture. I hate frogs, seriously. After knocking it out with chloroform, Jun Hao and Jaime starts to cut it in vain. Jun Hao began to complaint about the frog's slick and thick skin. I got a pair of operating scissors and handed it to him. I tried to cut a little.
And here's the poor little thing's organs. We didn't really know what they are, just guessing what they might be.
The frog's heart kept on beating, even after the guys pulled his intestines and all out of its body frame. What a tough little guy. At last, despite our protests, Jun Hao cut its heart off. And that's the end of the poor little frog. I decided to name him Freddie the Frog. Rest in peace, Freddie!
Note: I did not harm or kill any of the animals above (except for cutting Freddie not exceeding 0.2 cm in length). I'm sorry you had to die in order to feed our curiosity, Freddie and fish!
Monday, August 9, 2010
Sunday, August 1, 2010
- Reading level: Young Adult
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Harlequin; Original edition (August 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0373210132
- ISBN-13: 978-0373210138
Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.
The beginning of the story started with Meghan staying in Tir Na Nog, the Winter Court, where Queen Mab is the monarch. She feels bad because of the incessant chill, but she feels even worse by Prince Ash's sudden change of behaviour --- he becomes distant, cold and cruel.
His eyes glittered as he shot me a glare of pure loathing. "It's Master Ash, or Your Highness to you, half-breed. And I don't recall giving you permission to speak to me. Remember that, because the next time you forget your place, I'll remind you with my blade." --- Ash, page 28
Meghan can't go home, and her father, King Oberon has no way to free her because she is there on a contract of her own free will. When some Iron Fey lead by Tertius steals the Scepter of Seasons and murders the crown prince of the Winter Court, Sage, Queen Mab is furious and she accuses Oberon of doing the act of crime. A war is about to start... and Meghan is going to do anything to stop it from happening.
I love Julie's hauntingly beautiful description of the scenery of Faeryland. She manages to create a place where beauty and danger coexists. Julie's exquisite literary prose is one of the reasons which makes this book stand out from the sea of other novels in the fantasy genre. Her words made me delve into the Fey world with ease, following Meghan and her friends on their exciting and dangerous adventure.
In this novel, Meghan turns to Puck for company due to Ash's absence and cold demeanor. She finds that she actually has some feelings for Puck as well, but not as intense as the love she had for Ash. On the contrary, Puck is the one who pours out all his love and attention on his Princess, always there to support Meghan whenever she needs him, ever so protective of her.
"You're kind of blind, you know?" Puck whispered, smiling to soften his words. "I wouldn't defy Oberon for just anyone. But, for you..." He leaned forward, touching his forehead to mine. "I'd come back from the dead for you."--- Puck, pg 123
The story is divided into 3 parts. The one who stole the scepter was revealed in the end of Part 2, but there is no further information about the new (and fake) Iron King. How will the love triangle between Puck, Meghan and Ash ends? When the time comes, who will Meghan choose? Is it the mischievous, caring and reliable Puck, or the cold, quiet and passionate Ash?
In the nutshell, The Iron Daughter is awesome! I can proudly announce that I'm now a great fan of Julie Kagawa. You should never miss The Iron Fey Series! I really can't wait to read the third book! *Beams with delight!*
Thanks to Lisa Wray from Harlequin Enterprises Limited (CA) for sending me an ARC copy of The Iron Daughter! Thank you so much, Lisa!