My Bookcase

Lady Killer

Normally, when I write-up a post about a familiar theme, I run a search on my blog so I can make references to earlier posts on the subject. I was surprised that a search on my blog with the keyword Scottoline only brought up four posts. I mean, isn’t Lisa Scottoline one of my recent favorite authors? Have I really only read four of her novels? But I feel like I know the girls of Rosato & Associates so much. Haha.

I searched via Google too, and my post on my Bravejournal for Courting Trouble showed up, I mentioned Devil's Corner there too.

Anyway… I recently read another of Lisa’s novels, and Mary DiNunzio once again takes center stage.

For me, it was the usual Scottoline experience. There’s the familiarity with the characters, and the very comfortable and homey feel when Mary goes to her parents’ house. Judy wasn’t in the picture so much this time around though, it was really about Mary going her own way and dealing with the skeletons in her closet. There was a lot of mention of her husband Mike who had passed away, but I couldn’t remember Mike at all! 🙁

It was not surprising how the book touched on the what ifs of life. Mary was wondering how life could have turned out if things were different in high school. Sometimes I think of crossroads I’ve gone through, and wonder how things could be had I chosen a different path. The good thing is, I have no reason to really regret any of the choices I made. Mary shouldn’t regret any of hers either.

If there was something I didn’t like about Lady Killer, it’s that none of the Mean Girls turned out to be okay in their adulthood. No, scratch that. They apparently were happy with their lives and they probably even consider themselves successful. But it’s so obvious that Mary was being held on a higher ground because she’s now a lawyer and all that. The Mean Girls all worked in a beauty salon. They still had each other though, and they were still for the most part, Mean. Why couldn’t Mean Girls have turned out to become lawyers too? Why couldn’t they have made something else of themselves? Not ALL geeks turn out okay, and not all meanies turn out to be losers when they grow up. Haha.

Hays. I thought that if I tried focusing on something like a book I read, I would write and it would make sense. Apparently, it doesn’t make a difference. I’m still stuck in a rut. Pfft.

I hope my awful writing doesn’t turn you off on Lady Killer.

BookSale Finds

I don’t know how many times I’ve mentioned this before: I’m a sucker for second-hand books. Sunday’s Greenhills date would not have been complete without checking out BookSale. We walked out of there with almost a thousand pesos worth of reading material. Haha.  I’ve said it before, with the books we have in this house, we would be wise getting into business to sell used books.

Apart from this pile, we got one for the boyfriend, and a PC Utilities magazine too. That last one turned out to be a good find but I’ll blog about it more some other time. Maeve Binchy is one of my favorite authors, the last one of hers that I read is Quentins.

I was excited with this particular find:

And I almost didn’t get it. After all, I still haven’t really baked anything out of The Pioneer Woman Cooks which I finally got back in February, and it’s been a long time since I took out my Field Guide to Cookies. And then there’s also my Hello, Cupcake! book that’s sitting in a dark cabinet. I just don’t want this one to meet the same fate. Besides, it’d be a waste of money to buy something and not use it.

But I opened it, and well, couldn’t put it back on the shelves:

Could you have resisted these? The Cupcake Deck has 25 cupcake recipes in individual booklets. No need to copy the recipe onto an index card. 🙂 The photos are great too. The deck makes for a nice gift. The box I got isn’t mint condition though (2nd hand remember), it’s breaking apart at the seams, but I don’t mind.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (movie)

I blogged about reading The Lightning Thief last week, now here’s my take on the big screen version. Checkout the trailer:

This is one of those films that really followed their own take than stay true to the novel that was originally written for young kids. First I would like to say that I liked that movie and think that it is still worth watching. But I will also have to say that I like the book more. Okay, so we say that very often but this time is a bit different. I actually felt disappointed and a little let down. I guess I was expecting a lot from a Chris Columbus film.

Percy Jackson was supposed to be 12 years old when the series started. The actor looks nowhere like he was in sixth grade. He looks more like a highschool freshman or even older, and resembles Zac Efron of HighSchool Musical fame. He is cute though. 🙂 As for Athena’s daughter Annabeth, wasn’t she supposed to be blonde like her mom? I like her, she’s pretty and has personality, but she just didn’t fit the description. And where was her cap of invisibility?

Clarisse, daughter of Ares, was nowhere in the film. Now I wonder, if they ever come out with the sequel, how do they introduce her and her history with Percy? Oh, Ares was nowhere in the film too.  And come to think of it, was Kronos even mentioned? There was no Oracle too, and no quest.

I’m also not very happy about how they presented Camp Half-Blood Hill (Mr. D was missing too). It seemed so medieval. The boyfriend says it was very Spartan-like. The Camp was supposed to look like just any other camp, and the campers wearing shorts and t-shirts. No, in the movie they wore armors and they had old-school cabins. Chiron also knew beforehand who Percy’s dad was, instead of having to wait for it to be revealed. So that meant that Percy didn’t have to crash at the Hermes cabin at all.

There were other points of departure from the novel, and I probably won’t be able to name all of them now.

In terms of special effects, we felt like the movie didn’t do so well specially in the beginning of the film. Eventually though, you kinda started to appreciate it. So I guess it just wasn’t consistent? Medusa’s snakes looked great…

And Luke, he didn’t get much exposure even when he turned out to be the bad guy. They didn’t show him teaching Percy sword fighting. And he didn’t look like he had a scar on his face, it was flawless and didn’t look like he needed an acne scar cream, lol. Well okay I don’t think he had acne problems at all, but the scar he got from his earlier quest was, I think, an important facet of his personality…

Now I realize that all I’ve got to say are criticisms, aren’t we normally like that? If I didn’t read the book prior to seeing the movie, I might have appreciated it more.  All in all, it wasn’t a very memorable movie.

Since posting about this book and watching the movie, I have read books 2 and 3, and have liked them even more. There is more excitement in the next books. I just started with the fourth book today.

The Lightning Thief

My blog looks sad. The first page is completely devoid of photos. None of my five recent posts have any pictures included. It reflects the sad fact that I haven’t been spending a lot of time taking photos, again. I haven’t even caught up with my Project 365, my albums in Facebook and Flickr are probably gathering dust by now… It doesn’t help any that my weekends are turning out really bad too. I was down with headache again the past 36 hours. 🙁

There is one good thing that came out of this weekend though. I finished Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief!

I haven’t seen the movie, but we’ve had the book for probably over a year. Alfred read a review of the book on the paper so we went ahead and found a copy. Kaya lang, I never got the chance to read it until now.

It’s really a book for children, it’s pretty much straight to the point. There’s no long description of the setting or the characters, so they’re not giving you much time to get bored. On the downside, there’s really not much room to let your imagination roam either. Oh they did take a few lines describing Hades’ realm, and then briefly Olympus.

I don’t know how I feel about this series yet, it is an award-winning novel after all. I’m not sure if I like it enough to read all the books, though I’ve already got them from a book sale in the office. It’s a good read yes, and I would recommend my nieces to read it, and even share it with my nephews. It would actually be nice to turn it into a picture book. 🙂

It did kind of force me to think about mythology, a subject that I haven’t thought much about since reading my brother’s high school book of mythology when I was a lot younger. Here in the Philippines, Greek and Roman mythology is discussed in third or fourth year high school, but our English curriculum didn’t seem to have adhered to that. We tackled only a few stories, if I remember correctly. So I’ve forgotten much about mythology, and Percy Jackson is a good review. If you want your kids interested in mythology, Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a good way to start.

Click on the image above to read some reader reviews and even an interview with the author, from Amazon.com.

Start Saving Now!

This post is inspired by the article of the same title, from the magazine Entrepreneur, January-February 2010 issue.

Lately, I have been browsing through magazines quite a lot. I even bought some back issues of Yummy and Food magazine, while the boyfriend got himself copies of old Maxim and FHM. I try not to buy too many because I still have quite a number of books that I haven’t even touched since I bought them. Besides, I figured I should try at least one or two recipes from the foodie magazines before I bought additional ones.

Two weeks ago, while waiting for the boyfriend to meet up with me at the 7/11 store outside my office building, I was compelled to purchase a magazine so there’d be something to do while waiting (he made me wait for almost two hours!). There were a lot of showbiz magazines on the racks, but I didn’t want to spend on those. So I picked Entrepreneur.

On page 29 of this issue is an article by Henry Ong, President and COO of a financial consulting firm called Business Sense. In it, he outlines how he suggests one may setup a savings plan.  That’s exactly what I need! Okay, that’s not really the reaction it elicited from me.  Personally, I had an idea for how I could save, and a year or two ago I was really following a budget that I would set every payday. But I’ve fallen off the bandwagon and I want to get on again, and this time take the boyfriend along with me.

So here’s what we’re going to do, patterned after Ong’s advise:

Start immediately. Easy enough. I commit to starting right away so I’ve already transferred the money I got left from my previous paycheck to my savings bank account. Check (did on payday Friday). I signed up the boyfriend to commit to saving as well. He’s onboard.

Allocate savings. For starters, I’ll commit to saving 10% of my paycheck. Ong suggests starting at a lower number and then incrementally ramping up to your ultimate goal. Start with 3% for example, and increase it to 6% after three months. This is to get yourself accustomed to it. Makes sense, specially if a lifestyle change is in order. In my case, I think the need to save is more urgent. I don’t want to have to wait.

The article also mentions that the amount you allocate for savings will also vary, depending on your age. If you’re already 50, perhaps 20% would be a good target.

For the boyfriend, I have asked him to turn over 3% of his next pay. Regardless of how much he gets and how much he needs for his expenses, he will have to give me 3% so I can keep it for him, as savings. Imposing am I not? Yes. We need to do this, for both our sakes. 🙂 He’s agreed. He also expects this to get bigger eventually. We both know it’s doable.

Pay yourself first. The 10% from my paycheck and the 3% from his, will be deducted even before any expenditure is done. This will be deposited to a separate bank account. I have my own and that’s where mine will go. We’ll open a separate account for him.

Contribute more to your savings. We’ll classify our expenses – needs versus wants. I’ll also draw up a budgeting plan. At the end of the two weeks (normally the time it takes until the next payout), whatever is left will go to savings. We each are supposed to get performance bonuses. That’s where we’ll get money for rewards. No bonus, no rewards. We’ll still try to keep some of the bonus and add it to our savings.

Monitor your plan. This is a plan, it may work, but it could also fail. What we have at this point is a commitment to make it happen. We’ll re-evaluate it after sometime. Adjust our goals according to our needs and actual expenditure. In time, if there’s enough to invest, we’ll study our options.

Sometimes it also helps if you have something concrete that you’re saving for: a house, a car, a wedding, or in preparation for a baby. Say for example, you’d like to get yourself some life insurance. First thing to do is to get some information on life insurance rates that would be suitable for you, once you have an idea then you divide that amount by the number of payouts that you have to make up the budget (or for the monthly payable, for example). That should give you an idea how much you really must set aside from your salary. Makes sense?

I hope I’ve helped give you an idea on how to start your own savings plan. Do feel free to share your best practices too. 🙂

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