30 April 2013

Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

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From Goodreads: "The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth...
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner."

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles, #2
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Steampunk, Retellings, Fantasy
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Patience has never really been one of my virtues. Just last week, I resolved to keep Scarlet on my TBR shelf for as long as I could. If Cinder was any indication, I had a pretty good idea that Scarlet would have a cliffhanger ending too and waiting for Cress's 2014 release is just inconceivable. So I tried to not think about Scarlet too much and the fact that it's just there right in front of me and just one tap away. But who was I kidding? I really wanted to know what happens to Cinder and Kai and I thought what's the harm in peeking? So I read a few pages and figured I'd stop once I know more. The first chapters however are about Scarlet and Wolf so I kept on reading and before I know it, I'm nearing the dreaded ending. I was just a little disappointed because there were things I was waiting to happen that didn't. But apart from that, I thought the book was great. It still has this quaint fairy tale feel to it though I'd say it's a bit different from Cinder in that it's more action-packed and it has more laugh-out-loud moments. Iko and the captain really cracked me up and I really hope they feature prominently in the next book. I also thought Scarlet and Wolf were fantastic addition to the story, if that makes sense seeing as the book is called Scarlet and it's Little Red Riding Hood retelling. Overall, it was wrapped up quite nicely and I look forward to Rapunzel's story next year.

29 April 2013

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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From Goodreads: "Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. If she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love."

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games, #1
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Post Apocalyptic
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Suzanne Collins introduced me to the fascinating world of dystopian literature. Just barely out of my Harry Potter phase, I was a bit shocked that a novel marketed to the young adult audience could be so violent. But once I got past my squeamishness, I realized I did love the book - a lot. It's very well-written. It's poignant, riveting, and just won't let up til you get to the last page. The imagery so vivid and intense, it's breath-taking. I have read quite a few dystopian novels post THG, Veronica Roth's Divergent, Marie Lu 's Legend and Susan Ee's Angelfall, I thought were incredible. But there's just something about the Hunger Games that makes it "more". Suzanne Collins has created a fantastical world - brutal, yes, but brilliant nonetheless, and it captivates and just stays with you for a long time.

26 April 2013

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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From Goodreads: "Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future."

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles, #1
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Steampunk, Retellings, Fantasy
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
With a string of hot jerks and helpless heroines with possible masochistic tendencies, I'm just about to lose hope and re-assess my taste in fiction. But Cinder is a breath of fresh air. I love, love this book! I put off reading it because I thought like aliens, cyborgs are something that would not interest me. Boy was I wrong! Now all I can think of is why I hadn't read it sooner. I did figure out the twist early on. This book being a Cinderella retelling, I guess predictability is inevitable. So I didn't really mind and regardless, I still had goosebumps and my heart still raced a lot. I haven't read many fairy tale retellings but Cinder, I could tell, is one of the best. All the elements of the original tale - wicked stepmother, spoiled stepsisters (albeit one more than the other), the prince, the ball, the "pumpkin carriage", a godmother of sorts who I keep picturing as NCIS's David McCallum, and of course, the "glass slipper" are set in a futuristic world where hover cars and androids are just about as much a daily fixture as say a wardrobe that does not open to a magical world or portraits where subjects don't speak or move. It's just incredible! Scarlet has been sitting on my ereader for over a week now. I'm holding off, again, only this time for a totally different reason - Cress, which won't be out til next year!

25 April 2013

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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From Goodreads: "Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten."

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
My rating: 1 out of 5 stars
I didn't like this book. Not one bit. I finished it in 2 hours, actually reading the first few chapters and then skimming the rest. I couldn't make myself care for the characters at all. I find them all to be unbelievably irritating. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. THEM. Words cannot describe how much I hated the protagonist, Hazel, such a condescending know-it-all. She's beyond annoying. "I need an ambulance. The great love of my life has a malfunctioning G-tube." Seriously? Who talks to people like that, let alone a 911 operator? Had I been reading a paperback, I would at least have had the satisfaction of hurling it across the room or burning it. Barbaric, I know. I don't go around destroying books, mind you. I love books! But just this once, I was willing to make an exception. The plot, meh, nothing I haven't seen before. The dialogue, what teenagers speak like that? Use hamartia in a sentence: I could just say tragic flaw but hamartia makes me sound so much smarter than you. And don't even get me started on the stupid cigarette metaphor. Just horrible. I'm sorry. I'm not a bad person but I really hated everything about this book.

23 April 2013

Swatches and Review: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains

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Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain is the perfect dupe for Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm (what a mouthful!), so they say. I have never tried or owned a Chubby Stick so I don't know really if it is. They certainly look the same except Clinique has a silver lid and Revlon's is plastic. Clinique has 16 shades and Revlon has 12. The Chubby Stick retails at Php920 (about $20) while Revlon Balm Stain costs only PhP575 (about $15), which is a steal! Next to the Lip Butters, these are my favorite everyday lip products.
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From Left-Right: 045 Romantic, 001 Honey, 040 Rendezvous, 055 Adore
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From Top-Bottom: 055 Adore, 040 Rendezvous, 001 Honey, 045 Romantic
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With Flash, From Left-Right: 055 Adore, 040 Rendezvous, 001 Honey, 045 Romantic
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Without Flash, From Left-Right: 055 Adore, 040 Rendezvous, 001 Honey, 045 Romantic

Adore is a medium brick red. Rendezvous is a cheery bright orange. Honey is a muted dusty mauve. Romantic is a bright tomato red.
like that it's moisturizing and though the stain is very subtle, it lasts for hours. It has a minty scent and taste to it, not overpowering or anything, just a hint and it doesn't really bother me. Also, it's very easy to apply, a plus! My favorite is Romantic, my least favorite among the four is Rendezvous.

22 April 2013

Recipe: Chicken tikka masala

I have never tasted real, traditional Indian curry, not even Britain's chicken tikka masala. The closest thing to authentic I've eaten was something I've made using a packet of gourmet Indian tikka masala spice paste. It's good but it's also expensive. So I ran to my trusted culinary partner, YouTube, watched all the videos I could find about chicken masala and tried to recreate the spice paste. This right here is my version.

Easy Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
Serves 4 

lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large sweet onion, diced
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 pouch tomato sauce
3 tablespoons plain yoghurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon garam masala*
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 pinch cumin
1 pinch turmeric
salt and pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine garam masala, paprika, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper, yogurt, lemon juice, tomato sauce, ginger. Add chicken pieces to the mixture and marinate for about an hour or so.

2. Heat oil over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion. Add the chicken pieces, setting aside the marinade. Cook chicken until browned.

3. Stir in the reserved marinade. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

4. Garnish with fresh coriander (I use parsley) and serve with rice.

* Mix of black and white cumin seeds, coriander, cardamom, black and white peppercorns, fennel, cloves and nutmeg.
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21 April 2013

Book Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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From Goodreads: "When seventeen-year-old Katy Swartz moved to West Virginia right before her senior year, she'd pretty much resigned herself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring, but then she spotted her hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up...until he opened his mouth. Daemon Black is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. It's hate at first sight, but when a stranger attacks her and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens. The hot guy next door? Well, he's an alien. Turns out that Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities and Katy is caught in the crosshairs. Daemon's touch has lit her up like the Vegas Strip and the only way she's getting out of this alive is by sticking close to him until her alien mojo fades. That is if she doesn't kill him first."

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Lux, #1
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Paranormal 
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Vampires, werewolves, zombies, fairies. These, I'm  familiar with. Aliens, not so much. I was  hesitant to read this because alien books,  I know, aren't really something I would  enjoy. This book though has such high  rating on Goodreads that I thought, well,  it can't be that bad, can it? Well, I didn't like it, I'm sorry to say. The plot is well-paced, intriguing and  suspenseful enough. I finished the book in 2 days, which for me is really fast. I liked the characters enough, except Ash, the other twin, the teacher, and Daemon, who, the whole time, I called demon. My gosh, so they're very protective of their kind,  I get it, but did they have to be total jerks all the time? I realize that's about half of the characters, so maybe I didn't like the characters after all. The protagonist, Katy, reminded me a bit of Bella Swan. Awkward, self-deprecating girl who try as she might, couldn't help but fall for the oh-so-gorgeous schmuck who takes up bullying as a hobby. After all the pain and humiliation he put her through, Katy's permissiveness was nothing short of disgusting. But she did have a few redeeming moments, so the book wasn't entirely painful to read. Will I read book 2? If I have time and I've read everything on my TBR shelf and there's nothing good on TV, then I will. 3 stars for effort!

20 April 2013

Swatches and Review: Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter

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I'm a huge fan of Revlon's ColorBurst Lip Butter line. Out of all of Revlon's lip products, I love these the most. They're moisturizing, the shades are really pretty and wearable, and they aren't very expensive at Php525 (about $15) a pop. They are easy to apply and leave a buttery smooth finish. The lighter shades last for a couple of hours, the darker shades leave a bit of color after a few hours of wear.
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Swatches Left - Right: 015 Tutti Frutti, 070 Cherry Tart, 035 Candy Apple, 090 Sweet Tart, 080 Strawberry Shortcake, 050 Berry Smoothie, 001 Pink Truffle, 025 Peach Parfait, 095 Creme Brulee
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I realize that at 1 swipe, they all look very light. Tutti Frutti is medium bright orange. Cherry Tart is a blue-based shimmery red. Candy Apple is bright orange red. Sweet Tart is a medium warm bright pink. Strawberry Shortcake is a sheer bright pink. Berry Smoothie is sheer natural pink with subtle sparkles. Pink Truffle is medium brown pink. Peach Parfait is a peachy nude with gold sparkles. Creme Brulee is sheer beige. My favorite is Peach Parfait, my least favorite is Creme Brulee.
There are new shades available, I heard, Sorbet, Pink Lemonade, Juicy Papaya, and Wild Watermelon from their Pacific Coast Collection. It will probably be not until late this year if not next year that they'll be available at my local Revlon store though. Look forward to seeing the new shades and I hope Revlon comes out with .

Hello world

After almost 4 years, I really am back. I have grown and given up on Stardolling since. I thought I'd revive this blog and talk about actual things and events. So, I'll see you in a bit, then!