• 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.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Giveaway: Dare Yourself In the Spirit of Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

So these few days, I've been feeling a bit restless and have been idling around the household doing nothing-- so much that my mother's initial reaction has gone from annoyance to incredulity. 

But I've been brainstorming a lot about what to do on this blog for Christmas and beyond and I want to do something--


silly! crazy! exciting! cute!

Because I'm bored out of my bones and this is what I do when I'm bored out of my bones (yes, I've watched The Hobbit 2, and Catching Fire, and Frozen and God-knows-what). 

Here comes the neat part.

I have been reading a wonderful book which has kept me in a warm, fuzzy, romantic holiday mood (think: snow flakes, pretty lights, fireplace, moleskin notebooks):

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

I love the entire idea of this book and so far it has been the only thing occupying my brain cells (other than Math homework). 

So, I've decided to hold a giveaway, titled (it has a long title, bear with it):

Dare Yourself In the Spirit of Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

The giveaway will last from 23rd December 2013 (most exciting day before the day before Christmas!) till 15th January 2014. The winner will win a copy of Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, but more importantly, every single participant in the giveaway will be emailed a crazy, bookish, silly dare to complete in 2014 by me personally. 

So it's a mixture of the Christmas mood of doing nice crazy things and also a New Year Resolution-ish sort of fun giveaway!

  • [1 winner] Win a copy of Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

  • [Everyone] Receive by email a personal book-related dare from me to complete in 2014

I'm not sure if that's actually an attractive incentive or a detractive one, but if you are in the mood for some daring bookish feats-- enter away!

Before I go, one more thing: I loved Frozen and it made my holiday magical-- take a listen, I hope this song does the same for you! 

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Review: Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)
Author: Gayle Forman

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay.

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

Published January 8th 2013.

Allyson is self-effacing, and if anything, ordinary. LuLu is enigmatic, and if anything, attractive. If Allyson rouses bland uninspired prose composed by pimply laboratory nerds, LuLu inspires an epic modern-day romance-- at least, enough for a striking boy-actor who can sprout Shakespeare to offer to bring her to the City of Lights (or Love. Or Fashion.) on the spur of the moment.

Well, here comes the interesting part, Allyson and LuLu are the same person.

I think the reason why this novel is such a tour de force in the contemporary genre is simple: it hits all the right notes with the readers. As I honestly can't find any other coherent way to convey how much I adore this book, I shall aim to do so in the most empirical way possible.

In terms of rhetorics, if Gayle Forman had aimed to persuade me to root for Allyson/LuLu and Willem, she succeeded beyond her wildest imagination with only half of the book -- the first half of the book is titled "One Day" and the second part, "One Year" -- using pathos and kairos.

In terms of pathos (appealing to my emotions), I almost cried at two points in this book. This isn't just some frothy novel about "a privileged girl having an epiphany away from home". No. It takes a philosophical and nuanced look at what it means when a girl finally comes of age in a transformative day in Paris -- understanding the differences between falling in love and being in love, surrendering herself to the accidents of fate and saying "yes", grabbing freedom at its knees and finally, realizing that the key to feeling always a little less than the whole of herself has never been about not knowing who she is, but knowing that and not wanting to be that person anymore

The messages packed here in that one day in Paris are just so powerful and self-empowering that Allyson's growth into LuLu and sudden loss of her newfound identity jars me. Her scenes with Willem make me dreamily doodle invisible hearts all around the book, but the abrupt end to the "One Day" section of the book is painful.

And that brings me to kairos, a look into the timeliness of plot lines, in the subsequent "One Year" after that fateful day in Paris. There are some magnificent flashes of Shakespeare in this section that cement my belief that Shakespeare must have been a most epic lover. Along with that, Allyson's transition into college life and her inner struggle between letting her parents down versus letting down herself pushes her to come to terms with that one day in Paris and how much she is willing to let it change her.

He showed me how to get lost, and then I showed myself how to get found.

I had thought the "One Day" section a triumphant portrayal of Allyson's growth, however, Allyson only truly blossoms in the second section of the book as she heads back once again to Paris, then across Europe, in search of Willem and a lost part of herself. And the way she collects clues to find her way back to him and misses him closely each time had my heart knotted into tangled strings -- oh, Gayle Forman, you have me in the palm of your hands.

Gayle Forman has the knack for looking into the hearts of her readers and showing us a side to us that we didn't know we had with astonishing simplicity. Undoubtedly my favourite contemporary of 2013, let me tell you one thing: if you have to fall in love with one book this year, let it be this one.

“You're just trying on different identities, like everyone in those Shakespeare plays. And the people we pretend at, they're already in us. That's why we pretend them in the first place.” 

Source: From the bookstore


  1. She Will Be Loved Maroon Five (here)
  2. Clarity Zedd ft. Foxes (here
  3. 사랑은 벌이다 (Love Is Punishment) K.Will (here
  4. Crazy In Love Jisun (here)
  5. How Long Will I Love You Ellie Goulding (here)

Hopefully, it seems quite obvious where each song fits! If you want to know specifically, feel free to email me!

Did you guys get wanderlust from reading this book? 


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Winter Buzz: My Love-Hate Relationship With This Blog, BookFest@Singapore etc.

I'm back!

And December is one of my favourite months of the year-- and also the month when I get the whimsical urge to write random posts on this blog about the fantastical, the outrageous or just the boring things that happen in my life OR I get weirdly reflective and just write strange things. Plus, I tend to get excited about the books I'm going to buy in my annual end-of-year book spree. So it's my favorite month, no doubt about that.

After being kind of missing in action since August (during which and subsequently, I have only steadfastly posted once a month), I think ought to talk a bit about what I was doing after my exams ended in October and also, to make this less of a palaver, to talk about my love-hate relationship with this blog (right now we are in our honeymoon period, yay!).


End of termly exams. I watched PHOTO (Phantom of the Opera) for the second time, read a lot of books, and stayed up late every night to finish the term papers all due at the end of the month (oh, the abject cruelty and caprice of providence).


Studied for Finals. 


Finals happened. Five-day break when I started planning a holiday camp for our school's Student Council. Received back my marks. End of school.


For those of you who have been reading this blog for a long long time, you might know that I occasionally mention an international academic tournament (this is my second year participating). I went to USA for the competition in November, and the tournament was at Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut)... AND THEN WE SPENT 3 MORE DAYS IN NEW YORK CITY.

In those 3 days in NYC, my life got a thousand times more exciting than usual:
  1. I watched PHOTO for the 3rd time, but the first time at Broadway.
  2. I visited MOMA, the Met, Top of the Rock, Liberty Island, Ellis Island etc.
  3. On 19 November, I watched a Romeo & Juliet Broadway play--
  4. And thereafter, I met Orlando Bloom and procured his autograph at approximately 9.30pm.

And if you don't know Orlando Bloom, please face the wall or go hide under a rock, and just to help you along on your path of reformation (because not knowing Orlando Bloom means you don't know Legolas or Will Turner-- and that, my friend, is a sin!), here's a photo my friend took of him:

He signed on my playbill.

I wrote a really long and emotional note on Facebook about the NYC trip after I landed back in Singapore and the last part neatly covers my feelings about the entire experience:

"One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years."   
Part of me is going to stay in NYC till I go back again. Because De Niro was right. There’s no place like New York. It’s the most exciting city in the world now. That’s the way it is. That’s it.
That's it.


In December, I finally went to the holiday camp for Student Council which I had been faithfully planning with my friends since October.

And then, I went on a cruise named Superstar Virgo. It was huge and there were 10 restaurants, a cinema, a theatre, an arcade, a casino, a bunch of karaoke rooms, jacuzzis, two swimming pools and God knows what. It was a floating luxury resort which stopped at two island-ports and I got tanned, wore a straw hat and took loads of photos.

More than fifty percent of the time on the cruise was spent on eating since the restaurants were free of charge (it was covered in the ticket for the cruise) and were high-class buffets and à la carte dining. I even ate escargot (snails).

And what happened? I gained weight. Expectedly so. 

The cruise holiday ended on 12 December. When I finally got back home and began lounging in my room with an unfamiliar sense of idleness, soon realizing with sudden alacrity that for the first time in don't-know-how-many-months I was free with no deadlines, I knew it was time to blog.

So here I am.

Books vs. Real-Life

I think the reason why I thought of the term "love-hate relationship" was because there was this odd balance between books and my life. 

Amidst school, homework and tests, books were my means of escapist thinking-- of being somewhere else, some place when the protagonist does things that I perhaps never would do, both now and ever. It's not so much of wishful thinking on my part, but more of a tad bit of imagination and the willfulness to think myself into other's shoes.

But, the problem with me was that imagination could only go that far. After reading many travel-related YA contemporary novels like Just One Day, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Anna and the French Kiss, I got bitten by the wanderlust bug. 

It was an inextricable situation. 

And I think what was different this year was that I realized it couldn't be cured by just reading, but this time, the only thing to do was to hit the road. 

So this December, there's a feeling of coming full circle. Somehow, if I had not travelled, there was an empty void in one unknown part of me that could no longer feel for those books and the characters and places that I had read about. And conversely, simply because I had travelled, getting back into the comfortable rhythm of reading and blogging just feels right.

The thing to do, like I vaguely recall from the film Stuck in Love (which is awesome by the way and has both Lily Collins AND Logan Lerman; and it talks about how when writers fall in love, things are made beautiful and complicated) is to live, to get out there. Because books come from people. And even when imagination allows us to empathize with people whose experiences we had never experienced before, to walk the streets of a foreign town and have a beggar perform poetry at the traffic light junction transforms me as a reader. 

The stories within dog-eared pages became more than just fiction, they became possibilities. And I fell in love with reading all over again. Expectedly so :-)

What's happening next


A books and stationery festival featuring leading publishers and distributors from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. It is a one-stop venue for a comprehensive range of the best and latest publications, together with stationery, electronic peripherals and educational aids. -- From the official press release.

This will be happening from the 13-22 December at Suntec City Convention & Exhibition Centre, Halls 401-405. It's quite Asian-based in nature, so for Singaporean friends, feel free to drop by any time!

The BookFest is in its 7th year and I was actually pretty excited for a book signing by a famous Taiwanese author who wrote and directed You're the Apple of My Eye (which was adorable and heartbreaking).

It isn't often that Singapore has literary festivals, but it is getting more and more frequent in recent years. And as a literary person, I'm doing my part to spread the love (so Singaporean book-lovers, let's support the local talent!)-- click here to take a look at the multi-national lineup of activities/talks from local and international authors.

Christmas Plans

I'm catching up on all my reading, and I went on an Edelweiss downloading spree. The current books on my Reader are all so good, and I'm trying (and failing) to follow according to the chronological order of their release dates-- but one or two keep waving their hands at me and saying "Read me first!". Gosh. I have no discipline.

I have a Showcase Sunday post (for next week) done up to show you the current state of my reading plate (it's a pretty messy sight, but lovely all the same because it's BOOKS) and I have more Christmas news for you regarding what I'm going to roll out on this blog.

So that's all, lovelies! I'm really happy to be back :-)

And before I go, here's a nice quote I found on Pinterest:


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review + Playlist: The Promise of Amazing

The Promise Of Amazing
by Robin Constantine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: December 31st, 2013

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.
This book promised something pretty amazing (at least to me, the Cinderella-esque premise of the sweet poor girl and bad rich boy romance never gets old), and I write this review with a relatively simple message: it delivered its promise. 

But, one thing for sure, it most definitely didn't go the way I expected. I was readying myself for a sweet, fluffy tale of first love with little emotional strings attached on my part, and expecting the most complicated thing in the story to be the Arthurian-themed catering hall which Wren worked at. It went the exact opposite way. The backstory of Grayson was dark, bordering on the gritty, with many surprising nuggets of information that were thrown onto my path as we went along. The complications along the way were not only numerous, but also, extremely real troubles that made their love much more tumultuous but gratifying for me since I love me some good drama.

As for Wren, while her character arc certainly was solid, Grayson's parts of the story (the novel was in two P.O.V.s) stood out more for me, hands-down. Much of Grayson's history before he met Wren made this novel so much more than just a regular contemporary romance, his growth into a boy that Wren could be proud of was heartwarming-- it included coming to terms with his divorced parents, his friends (goodness, Luke was one hell of a character) and perhaps, some sort of closure for his multiple identities as a brain, an athlete and a criminal.

More than all of the above, at the end of this book, I chose to see it as a strange sort of discourse on modern teenage love: There's no one convenient time for falling in love. Sometimes, it just happens. It's quick, redolent of insta-love. Yet, at the same time, it's intense, gorgeous and beautifully alive. 

As we watch Wren and Grayson amble into a fragile love built on rocks, we know that their ending would be a happy one. That's the solace of reading books like that. 

There's always the promise of something amazing. And for me, that's more than enough.

I think everything about you is amazing, Grayson Barrett. -- Page 100, Uncorrected E-Proof

I'd go anywhere for you, Wren. -- Page 140, Uncorrected E-Proof

Source: From the Publisher (HarperCollins) for review purposes 


A Playlist (in chronological order; once you've read it, you would know where each song fits, hopefully)

  1. Catch My Breath Kelly Clarkson (here)
  2. Try P!nk (here)
  3. Promise Me Beverley Craven (here)
  4. Let Me Love You Glee (here)
  5. Say Something A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera (here)
  6. Unconditionally Katy Perry (here)


Robin Constantine is a born and bred Jersey girl who moved down South so she could wear flip-flops year round. She spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, well, eventually but not without a lot of peril, angst and the occasional kissing scene. 

Her YA debut, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING, will be released in 2014 by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


GIVEAWAY (International!)

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Lots of love,

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