• The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

    What can I say? This couple had my heart on my sleeves.

  • Never Let Me Go

    A beautiful story of the fragility of life viewed through skewered lenses.

  • Night Circus

    The world that Morgenstern crafts is one that reeks of the cigar and smoke of the turn of the century England with its glamorous parties like The Great Gatsby, men with bowler hats in the Victorian Era, all with a splash of magic and romance.

  • Piratica I

    Piratica is a swashbuckling adventure, an over-the-top comedy, and of course, an unforgettable love story.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 10 Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2012

Yeah! It's 2012 now! I can't believe it! 2011 year passed so fast!
Here's my top 10 for this year. Looks promising, don't you think?

Title: Under the Never Sky 
Author: Veronica Rossi
Expected Publication: 3 Jan 2012
Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

Okay. I've heard raging reviews for this, but I'm only going to get my hands on this in 2012. It's coming, coming!  


Title: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Expected Publication: 3 Jan 2012

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.

In this thrilling debut young adult novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine and a masterfully crafted new world that’s enthralling.

Sounds amazing! Cinderella in a dystopian world, plus plus-- New Beijing. What a beautiful mess!


Title: The Gathering Storm (Katerina Alexandrovna #1)
Author: Robin Bridges
Expected Publication: 10 Jan 2012

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?

Ahh... This sweet and alluring thing about royal balls and lovely nobles. WAIT. WHAT? RAISE THE DEAD?! This sounds like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, just better!


Title: Born Wicked  (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1)
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Expected Publication: 7 Feb 2012
Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.
Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word . . . especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

Witches... okayy... Tea parties... OMG. Does this mean turn of the century America with the debutantes in gowns? YES. Witches just seem like a cherry on this fantastic ice-cream! Hope this turns out good (the unsuitable Finn sounds very very suitable!)


Title: Scarlet
Author: A. C. Gaughen
Expected Publication: 14 Feb 2012

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

Girl disguised as boy in medievel times? Love with Robin Hood-- greatest rogue of all time? OOOh, I sense a great book like Alanna: Song of the Lioness!


Title: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare
Author: Melissa Jensen
Expected Publication: 16 Feb 2012

Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss in this charming romantic comedy
Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

Anna and the French Kiss?! WOW. Etienne St. Clair is one total hottie. Hope this Alex is taller though... (hehe)


Title: Illuminate
Author: Aimee Agresti
Expected Publication: 6 March 2012

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.

Sounds like Ouran High School Host Club meet Another Faust!


Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Expected Publication: 3 April 2012

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Court Duel meets Crown Duel. Lovely :)


Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Expected Publication: 24 April 2012

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

A chance of a lifetime. I hope she chooses the prince!


Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Expected Publication: 1 May 2012

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

I love Divergent, along with Tris and Four. No love triangles, please.*cross my fingers* This is one that I am sure won't disappoint! Notice that this is the only sequel in my list, the rest are either debuts or standalones. Oh well, there seem to be really a lot of debut authors this year!
And there are also a few authors called Veronica R!!!


2012 is sure to be a busy year for all readers and writers and bloggers alike!

Well, this are the MUST additions for my bookshelves.

Any good books you've heard of lately? Do drop a comment!

Happy New Year, everyone! I love you guys! All the best for your blogs!
May all your dreams come true in 2012! It's going to be a great year!

Stay tuned!

All the best & more,
Sel xoxo :)

Top 10 Books I've Read in 2011

Going through all the books in my mind was hard. Like really. Because, I can't figure out whether I read them in 2010 or 2009, which was weird. 

Secondary School life is much more packed than the idyllic primary school times, so the clearest that I could work out with in my mind was all the Dramione Fanfiction that I read through while doing homework. 

So, honestly, when did I read any real paperbacks or hardcovers at all? 

Then it dawned upon me like some enlightening prophetic sentence: I read them during EOYs. And yes that's right, I read the most books during exam period, out of the academic year. Anyway, I made up for the lack of reading in the holidays. 

After loads of thinking on my part, here's the top ten books that I've read for the year (not in any order), not all of them are published in 2011 though:

Title: Eon 
Author: Alison Goodman

This book is one of the best ancient fantasies ever! 'Eon' starts with a climax and ends with one, beautifully. Beautifully written, I finished it in two days at school and at home, and ran to Kinokuniya to get its sequel the very third day, right after school. All about dragons, palaces, emperors, dragoneyes and harems, 'Eon' is a parallel universe of Ancient China and Japan, with a mystical touch and marvellous action scenes. Unfortunately, its sequel, Eona, lacks some of it's prequel's smooth flow and fast-paced storyline, instead, choosing to dwell on the heroine's insecurities-- so much that she seems selfish. But, to give it  credit, 'Eona' incorporates some very excellent romance, so this is a series that will satisfy readers of both ends of the spectrum, the adventurers and the romantics.

Title: Divergent (review)
Author: Veronica Roth

This must be the best dystopian novel of 2011, and we all know that 2011 was the year of great dystopians.


Title: The Reluctant Heiress
Author: Eva Ibbotson

Eva Ibbotson always hands me some novel with too many a word. There's so much description and complex dialogue that left me hanging there at first with a "huh?". But as per usual, I was won over by the last-pages declarations of love by the main characters. I read "Company of Swans" in 2010 and was searching for a similar story. This one had the same formula-- sweet and elegant girl who is still innocent after all the hardships she went through + dashing and rich guy + happily-ever after. However, with her beautiful writing and unique characters, Eva Ibbotson won me over with the Reluctant Heiress. Wonderful historical fiction novel! (the REVIEW is coming soon, perhaps in the middle of the fairytale campaign!)

Title: The Iron King (Iron Fey, #1) 
Author: Julie Kagawa 

This is a series that I followed faithfully, but not till the end. The writing in this book is refreshing, witty and brilliantly effortless, and Julie Kagawa undeniably has a flair for writing. The idea of faeries has been toyed with by many, such as Allan Frewin Jones' Faerie Path and Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely. But Julie Kagawa makes us see them through whole new eyes, with elements from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Alice in Wonderland and of course, the Grimm Brother's fairytales. Horrifying yet beautiful; dark yet magical, this is simply the best fairytale that I've ever read.

Title: Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society, #2)
Author: Ally Carter

Heist Society was a whirlwind for me in 2010, so stunning and mind-boggling that it took me a while before I could get it out of my head. And then, I went back to the habitual cycle of school and the smart heroine, Katarina Bishop, faded from my cluttered mind. Imagine my surprise and glee, when I got hold of the second book! This time, she and her best friend-- gorgeous, rich mastermind Hale-- are around the globe trying to steal back the infamous Cleopatra Emerald that was conned from them. And the book unfolds like a blockbuster, as we watch them chase the gem around the globe, on yatches with swimsuits to gowns and tuxes in casinoes. It was a unbelievable ride, and Ally Carter surprised me once again, with her outrageous criminal schemes that are amazingly believable. Uncommon Criminals is a visually captivating and mind-challenging read that will leave you longing for the third installment.

Title: The Night Circus (review)
Author: Erin Morgenstern

Will be one of my favourite books for a lifetime.

Title: Firelight (review)
Author: Sophie Jordan

Best paranormal romance ever.

Title: Never Let Me Go (review)
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro

I did 12 book reports about this novel, it was a holiday homework. Those 12 reviews resulted in me feeling very deeply for this novel because of a lot of re-reading and careful analysis. A touching novel told in a vernacular style, Kazuo Ishiguro taught us the importance of friendship and love and made me rethink the reason of our very existence. Kathy is a true character who amazes me with her unwavering sense of truth and immense capacity to love!

Title: Spellbound (review coming soon)

Beautiful and real. Hope Spellcaster is as good!

Title: Fateful (review coming soon)

Titanic meets werewolves. Servant girl with big dreams meets heir to large fortune. What could go wrong?


Title: Abandon
Author: Meg Cabot

I absolutely adore Meg Cabot's witty and fun writing style and have read every single one of her YA books except for Princess Diaries (uh?). After Percy Jackson, all the stories about Greek mythology paled in comparison and left me craving for some fresh idea. This one was it. A dark, fantasical story about the Underworld. Meg Cabot gave me a totally swoon-worthy character, John Hayden, who caught my eye even with his infrequent appearances. You can't help but wonder, why is the main character-- Pierce-- not that into him? Watch out for the next installment, Underworld. There had better be some fizzling romance!

Happy New Year!
Sel xoxo :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: Divergent


Author: Veronica Roth


In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

Published 3 May 2011


Another digress from the Fairytale Campaign!


Initially, after all the hype buzzing around Divergent, I thought it might be another disappointment.

But, I was totally wrong! This is one of the rare books that I finish in one sitting.

Divergent does not kick off with a promising first chapter. The explanation for each of the five factions seem lacking and slightly illogical.

However, I have to point out that Divergent's success and popularity lies in Veronica Roth's wonderful characterization and stunning storyline.

Beatrice is a real character who is really selfish and mean at times, and she knows it. She is constantly thinking about where she really belongs. She grew up in Abnegation which values selflessness above all, but she has never found it easy to be selfless like those around her. During her aptitude test, Beatrice is classified as Divergent, a dangerous category that her examiner helps to hide.

What is Divergent? Simply a term to describe those who belong to more than one faction, a mind that cannot be as easily controlled as others who tend to lean towards one of the values.

In the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice chooses Dauntless to the disbelief and anger of her father. Her brother, Caleb, chooses Erudite for intelligence and pursuit of knowledge. Abnegation youths are not inclined to change factions, with only one-- son of Marcus (leader of  Abnegation), Tobias, who went to the Dauntless.

This is the turning point of the story, the part which propells Divergent from one of those faceless dystopian novels to a first-class action-packed tale. As the story unfolds into the trials and challenges of initiation, the novel takes no effort to read at all, as one scene smoothly transits into the next. Most importantly, Tris (she changes her name for a new start) really grows. The character growth is spectacular! She becomes really bodacious (badass *coughs*) but not those type of brazen and arrogant ones who keeps making mistakes.

And here comes the best part of the whole book-- Four who must be one of the best boy-character-in-a-book ever! I absolutely loved him! A big THANK YOU to Veronica Roth for having no love triangles. Even then, the love between them is striking! Four has a sense of stillness to him plus a quirky sense of humour; he is good-looking though his looks are not mentioned much in the book. The best thing about him is how treats Tris: not tortured, pained or anything, but straightforward, like they are equals, though initially wary. There's a sense of mystery around him until it is revealed at the end that he is Tobias, from Abnegation as well, and he is Divergent like Tris.

Divergent ends as war breaks out. (not revealing anything yet, go read it yourself, save you the pleasure!)

And it's a good ending because we know that Insurgent (Book #2) will start head-on with the action and the climax, can't wait!

Divergent is an action-packed read that also exploits some of human's most vulnerable sins and shortcomings. And as we see the people with power live in fear of losing it, as we see Tris slowly understand that real bravery is ordinary-- the courage that drives one person to stand up for another-- and not that different from selflessness, Divergent becomes more than just an entertaining dystopian story, but one that really highlight and illustrate to you the human weaknesses.

Then we see Tris grow up and it's like a beautiful coming-of-age tale.

Sometimes, it's the characters and what the story really teaches you that is important, not that much of the world-building. Because after all, quoting Stephen King, Fiction is just the truth inside the lie.

Simply stunning. That's all I can say for one of my favourite books of 2011.

Source: Purchased

Sel :)

Coming Soon:
1. Top 10s for 2011 and 2012

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: The Crimson Thread (A Retelling of 'Rumpelstiltskin')

The Crimson Thread (The Fairytale Campaign: Book 1)

Author: Suzanne Weyn


The year is 1880, and Bertie, having just arrived in New York with her family, is grateful to be given work as a seamstress in the home of textile tycoon J. P. Wellington. When the Wellington family fortune is threatened, Bertie's father boasts that Bertie will save the business, that she is so skillful she can "practically spin straw into gold."
Amazingly, in the course of one night, Bertie creates exquisite evening gowns — with the help of Ray Stalls, a man from her tenement who uses an old spinning wheel to create dresses that are woven with crimson thread and look as though they are spun with real gold. Indebted to Ray, Bertie asks how she can repay him. When Ray asks for her firstborn child, Bertie agrees, never dreaming that he is serious....

Published 27 October 2009


This was the first book I read in the Once Upon A Time series, and it sure was a good novel for the uninitiated!

The Crimson Thread is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, but it's refreshing. What's so surprising about this retelling is that it takes place in Early America. How original is that?

And now, brace yourself for the biggest surprise!

Our heroine, Bertie, actually rides off into the sunset with Mr. Rumpelstiltskin-- Ray. It's a wonderful romance, everything so perfectly weaved together all the way till the end.

This is a good enough fairytale with more details than the classic tale. There's a rich young man, heir to the Wellington fortune, who flirts with Bertie and they are engaged because of her ability to "spin straw into gold". But, what can I say about spoilt wealthy heirs and servant girls? The wealthy heirs never mean it.

As J.P. Wellington, master of the business, orders Bertie to do another dress, she is stuck in a situation of her own making since she didn't deny her father's boast and was too delighted by the attention. At this point of time, Ray appears once again to help her. However, this time, Bertie has nothing left to give him and we hear the classic line of: "Give me your firstborn child, then."

I won't disclose the ending because there is an awfully amazing twist at the end.

One thing for sure, The Crimson Thread is a rather thought-provoking fairytale with mentions of prejudice to the Irish immigrants, slums, workers' strikes and the like. However, Bertie and Ray's relationship are quite simple and left unexplained towards the end, but isn't this what all fairytales have to work on? 

This must be the best retelling of Rumpelstiltskin I've ever read!

Source: Library


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Campaign: Once Upon A Time Series (Retellings of Fairytales)


I grew up with fairytales and when others outgrown them, I stayed where I was.

With fairytales come a sense of magical narration, kind heroines, true love and happily-ever-afters. This was what made me keep these ancient fables close to heart. I can never handle tragedies and love triangles, tragedies make me cry and love triangles simply just annoy and complicate a good pure romance.

But, of course, my huge and heavy book of Disney fairytales eventually got placed on the shelves and it stayed there for a very very long time. And as I ventured into the world of paranormal fantasy, the fairytales sang a faded tune and was stored at the corner of my mind.

There was no doubt to the joy and surprise when I found my favourite tales retold in a more mature writing style, with teenage heroines and more complex storylines, and all in a series some more! 

Thank you Simon & Schuster (publisher) for giving the youths who yearn for the simple happiness of fairytales a delectable cure!

Starting from now, I will start my blog's first CAMPAIGN. For the next week or so, I will post reviews for my favourite novels in the Once Upon A Time series, with my  wistful and nostalgic sentiments. I do hope that you will be enchanted by these wondrous novels that accompanied me for two years. Here they are:

  • The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn (A Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, published June 2008)
  • Water Song by Suzanne Weyn (A Retelling of The Frog Prince, published October 2006)
  • Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey (A Retelling of Cinderella, published March 2007)
  • Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey (A Retelling of the Ballad of Mulan, published February, 2009)
  • The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Weyn (A Retelling of Anastasia, published June 2, 2009)
  • The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey (A Retelling of The Arabian Nights, published September 2002)
  • Spirited by Nancy Holder (A Retelling of Last of the Mohicans and Beauty and the Beast, published November 2004)
  • Golden by Cameron Dokey (A Retelling of Rapunzel, published February 2006)


Stay tuned!

Sel :)

Review: Babe in Boyland

Babe in Boyland

Author: Jody Gehrman


When high school junior Natalie - or Dr. Aphrodite, as she calls herself when writing the relationship column for her school paper - is accused of knowing nothing about guys and giving girls bad relationship advice, she decides to investigate what guys really think and want. But the guys in her class won't give her straight or serious answers. The only solution? Disguising herself as a guy and spending a week at Underwood Academy, the private all-boy boarding school in town. There she learns a lot about guys and girls in ways she never expected - especially when she falls for her dreamy roommate, Emilio. How can she show him she likes him without blowing her cover?

Published 17 February 2011.


This is a light & funny read. The idea is outrageous, but one that I've entertained for many times.

After watching Disney's Mulan, I kept on trying to find books dealing with the plot of a girl going under the disguise of a boy. The very notion itself has so many possibilities! So much trouble, romance & drama can ensue, it would be simply chaotic & astounding!

Jody Gehrman did a fun job of writing Babe in Boyland. The plan they had was ridiculous-- hacking into an all-boy academy student system, sticking pieces of wool as stubble... It was simple and straightforward, and the heroine did not hesitate to jump into her role of Nat Rodger.

But the thing I like about the plot is the social dynamics between boys as well as how Nat(alie) tries to fulfill her theatrical passion.

She starts off as a loser in the all-boys academy, a geek who looks girlish and is laughed at by Josh, her best friend's crush. The situation immediately reverses itself as Nat is spotted with her two best friends, Darcy & Chloe. And the boys treat her with grudging respect, thinking that she has a way with girls.

This is a story that you can't help but smile at. It's so simple yet so daring that it seems like a daydream you've always wondered about and now it's out in words.

All the while as we watch Nat manoeuver around Underwood Academy, we see her struggling to be herself with her hot roommate, Emilio. Nat's original school, Mountain View High, has collaborated with Underwood Academy for a play, The Importance of Being Earnest, with three students from MVH filling in the female roles in this famous play written by Oscar Wilde.

Amongst the three girls chosen, two are Nat's best friends (Darcy & Chloe) and the other is Summer, a girl who has always won the role Nat wants. Summer is the typical mean girl who is spoiled and fake, but this time, it's more interesting, with her playing the role of Cecily, who has a kiss scene with Algernon who is played by Emilio.

As Nat spies at the actors and actresses in rehearsal, she notices funny things about the way girls act with boys. She is obviously jealous of Summer, and her big chance comes when Summer ditches the Opening Night to go for a movie audition in Los Angeles.
Nat immediately suggests to let her cousin, "Natalie", play the role, as she had once been understudy to Summer in a previous version of the play. The problem is solved, and Nat goes through a makeover to become an unrecognizable girl in front of the boys.
"Chloe and Darcy have gone to great lengths to ensure the boys will never recognize me as Nat. They’ve made me way girlier than Natalie ever was. 

I’m wearing a long wig a couple shades darker than my natural hair color. My makeup is flawlessly applied; my eyes look huge and doe-like, my cheeks a delicate pink, my complexion smooth and creamy as ivory, my lips full and lush.

My costume is surprisingly flattering: high, stiff collar, a body-hugging waistline that makes the most of my limited curves, a snug little jacket, all of it in a pale violet that looks great with my dark hair and eyes. 

If I screw up every cue and get the blocking ass-backwards, at least I’ll look good while I’m doing it. Though the afternoon is grueling, I have to admit it feels fantastic being a girl again. Getting gorgeous via Chloe and Darcy’s labor-intensive ministrations is kind of like going on a chocolate binge after weeks of subsisting on saltines. 

Cecily is an über-femme character, so every minute spent rehearsing that role means letting my softest, pinkest self come shining through. I let my voice climb soprano-high, let my laughter trill coquettishly. I flutter my lashes and indulge in coy, ladylike hand gestures. It’s so unexpectedly liberating to exaggerate every womanly instinct rather than tamping them all down. I never really appreciated how great it is being a girl—how much more we can get away with. I feel unbound, expansive, free; who ever would have guessed that playing a Victorian debutante could be so weirdly therapeutic?"

The play is a success, but at the after party, Summer returns and recognizes Nat who is forced to date Emilio's Sister, Erica. What a confusion! The secret comes out and Nat fleds the party and leaves Underwood Academy. In the end, she got her happily-ever-after.

In the end, no matter how shallow or foolishly wonderful the book is, there is still an underlying lesson-- you will be glad that you are a girl!

Here's some  answers that our main character has derived from her trip to boyland (not very helpful for us at thirteen, but still fun to know):

A Girl’s Guide to Guys:
Their Top Seven Secrets Revealed
Dr. Aphrodite (aka Natalie Rowan)

1) When you say you’re going to call and you don’t, what happened?
This requires a little anecdotal evidence, so bear with me. While disguised as Nat, I went on a date with a girl. Despite being a girl for seventeen years, prior to this experience I’d never really considered what we girls act like on dates. Let me tell you, the reality was eye-opening.

The girl I went out with—let’s call her Jennifer—was perfectly nice. She was sweet and smart with a dazzling smile. I’m sure if I met her under normal circumstances I’d rush to fix her up with my most eligible bachelor-friend. Being on a date with her, though, threw me for a loop. It was clear she had great expectations I was supposed to fulfil, yet decoding those needs from moment to moment felt like a warped game of charades. She wanted me to be Man of Mystery and her sleepover BFF all at once. How could I help but disappoint her? Then I realized something: Jennifer’s cryptic, high-maintenance behaviour was eerily familiar. I myself had behaved exactly the same way on numerous dates; I’d just never stopped to consider what it might be like on the receiving end. So what am I saying? That he didn’t call because you’re a moody head case? No, that’s not my point. Sometimes, though, “I’ll call you” is simply the fastest way to escape the withering power of a girl’s disappointed glare and/or the tremendous weight of her misplaced expectations.

2) What do you really look for in a girl?
There are as many answers to this question as there are guys, I’m sure. I will say, though, that most of the stuff we girls think is super-important to guys usually doesn’t factor in all that much. Trust me, you’re way more worried about the five pounds you gained than they are.

Here’s my advice: No matter what you think he’s looking for, have the courage to be who you are. Watching my own best friends around guys made me realize that sometimes we hide our best selves and project this other, more contrived girly puppet version of ourselves because we think that’s what boys want. Guys aren’t stupid. They sense when we’re trying too hard.


This is a fluffy read, but no serious engagement. Go ahead and give it a try if you are looking for a teenage drama built on a daydream!

Source: PDF


Coming Soon:
The Best Books I've read in 2011
Amazing Debuts in 2012

He snickers. “Don’t know what they see in you.”
“I’m sensitive.”
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