Category Archives: Review

Book Review : Black Lies


I don’t really know if this counts as a review or not because it’s going to be really short.  I’m swamped with deadlines but I just had to tell everyone about this book.  It’s *that* amazing. This is one of those stories that I will remember for a long, long time.

It will be difficult to write this entry without giving out any spoilers, but I promise there won’t be any.  Instead of trying to summarize the story and risk giving anything away, here’s the actual blurb from Goodreads, just so you have an idea what the book is about:

Brant: Became a tech billionaire by his twentieth birthday. Has been in a relationship with me for 3 years. Has proposed 4 times. Been rejected 4 times.

Lee: Cuts grass when he’s not banging housewives. Good with his hands, his mouth, and his cock. Has been pursued relentlessly by me for almost 2 years, whether he knows it or not.

Go ahead. Judge me. You have no idea what my love entails. If you think you’ve heard this story before, trust me – you haven’t.

Honestly, I was very apprehensive after reading the blurb because I don’t condone cheating.  I have no idea why some people find it romantic or thrilling, I just think its despicable. I hate it so much that I’ve actually abandoned books before because the main character was so unfaithful.  But this popped up in my recommendations on Goodreads, and it had incredibly high ratings so I wanted to at least give it a chance before dismissing it.  Words can’t express how glad I am that I did.

This book took me on an emotional rollercoaster.  It was beautifully written and the author did an amazing job telling the story while unraveling its secrets layer by layer.  The characters she created were all incredible too.  I loved Brant.  He was sweet, caring, intelligent, refined, and rich as hell.  I’m talking Tony Stark/Bruce Wayne kind of rich.  Hell, he gave his girlfriend 3 cars as a present and booked a 30 thousand plane ride home just because she wasn’t feeling well.  I don’t think there was a moment in the story when I didn’t love him. With that, you would expect me to despise Lee, the “other guy”.  To be honest, I did hate him for a while, when he first showed up.  How dare he walk in and ruin the beautiful relationship between Brant and Layana.  But, as the story progressed, I grew to love him too.  He was the complete opposite of Brant – rough, crude and a little selfish, but something about him draws you in.  And then there’s Layana, the heroine.  You will love her and you will hate her. You will question her and you may think that she’s the absolute worst.  Personally, I think she’s amazing.  I suggest that you keep an open mind when you read this book.  There were moments when I doubted Layana’s love for Brant and Lee.  After all, why would she do something that would obviously cause them so much pain.  But as the story progressed, I realized how deep her love was for Brant and Lee, and how much pain she was willing to go through for both of them.  I don’t know what I would have done if I was placed her situation.  She is definitely one of my favorite characters of all time.

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Book Review : Veiled Innocence

veiled innocence

I have to say I’m in love with Ella Frank’s writing.   I’ve never read any of her other works before, but now I’m probably going to have to check them out.  Reading Veiled Innocence was like putting together a puzzle in my mind, it was very fascinating.  It alternates from past to present events, therefore readers only get bits and pieces of the story at a time.  The book starts in the present, so you know where Addison has ended up, but you have no idea how she got there, and you just can’t help but read on to find out.  At the same time, the point of view changes between Addison and Mr. McKendrick, so readers get an idea of what goes on in their minds.  I couldn’t put the book down because I couldn’t wait to see how everything unfolded.

I should probably mention that this book belongs to the student-teacher romance genre.  I love reading forbidden romance novels, and although I don’t necessarily gravitate towards student-teacher romance, it seems to be a pretty popular genre and I’ve read several of them already.  I know it’s probably not a good thing for me to admit that I enjoy student-teacher romance novels, considering that I’m a teacher myself.   Believe me when I say that my love for the genre does NOT translate to real life.  I know it’s wrong and definitely unethical.  I have never gotten a desire to be romantically involved with a student, nor do I think it’s okay for other teachers to do so.  I understand that sometimes a teacher will form a special bond with their students and might end up dating one of them.  As a teacher, I think this is only acceptable if (a) the student has passed the class/has graduated, and (b) you are not breaking any laws (example : dating a minor).  If for any reason the teacher and (former) student feels like they have to hide the relationship, then that probably means that they know that they’re doing something wrong and should probably stop.  I believe that true love is beautiful and it should be celebrated and not hidden.  But, this doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy forbidden romance novels :D

(Technically you could say that I’ve been in a student-teacher relationship before.  My boyfriend and I were batch-mates during college, but I graduated before he did.  I started teaching immediately after that, so for a while, I guess you could say that we were a student-teacher couple.  We were both Applied Physics majors, and after I graduated I taught in the same department he was studying in.  But I don’t think this counts since everyone knew that we were already a couple before I started teaching.  Besides, he was never MY student since he was already finishing up his thesis at the time, and I was a new instructor so I only handled general service courses.)

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Book Review : More Than This


I rarely do book reviews these days, but I finished this the other day and I still haven’t moved on so I figured I should write a quick entry about it to get it out of my system.

This is a story about how a young girl’s entire world shattered in one evening, and how she managed to piece it back together with the help of some amazing people.  It’s a story about fate, destiny, love, friendship and family. It’s about accepting our weaknesses and finding our strengths and moving on.

From the very beginning, I was immediately intrigued because the main character is part Filipino.  It doesn’t really play a huge role in the story but I rarely come across books with Filipino characters.  I think the last one I read with a character who was part Filipino was from the Georgina Kincaid series, and she was just a minor character.  Then I learned that Mikayla’s favorite book is The Sea of Tranquility, which was my favorite book of 2013.  (You can read my review HERE).  I actually had to put the book down when she mentioned this and tell all the people around me that Mikayla Jones loves The Sea of Tranquility and Josh Bennet as much as I do.  Instant connection, right there.  Throw in a hot guy with a sexy accent to the mix and I didn’t stand a chance.  I really enjoyed the writing too.  It was very enchanting and I felt like I was putting together a puzzle in my mind.  Within the first few chapters, I experienced a whirlwind of feelings and emotions.  Anger, happiness, joy, and pain … so much pain.

I loved the characters in this book.  I admire Mikayla for being so strong.  She lost so much in one evening, and at such a young age, but she managed to keep her head up and find a way to move on.  And I love Jake because, seriously, what’s not to love?  Hot guy, sexy accent, athletic discipline, kind, supportive, caring and a family guy.  I respect the fact that he never pushed Mikayla to do something she wasn’t ready for. He always let her know know that he will be there to support her no matter what path she chooses.  It’s kind of unbelievable that a guy she only knew for 24 hours would take her under his wing and help her get through something so horrible.  But then again, there are genuinely nice people out there.  Jay McLean undoubtedly created Jake Andrews to give female readers someone to drool over.

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My Golden Princess Cruise Experience

I’ve still got several entries lined up before I even get to my US 2014 vacation, but I had such an amazing time on this cruise that I can’t put off writing about it any longer.  I want to write this entry while the experience is still fresh in my mind.  I’ll most likely be making more in depth blog entries about each day of our cruise sometime in the future, so this is just a summary of our whole experience.

My aunt and uncle have been on this cruise before and they loved it.  In fact, they loved it so much that they’ve actually gone three times.  They strongly recommended it to us, which is why we decided to go this year for our parents 30th wedding anniversary.

We started off in LA so we had to catch a flight to Seattle because that’s where the cruise starts.


Our shuttle picked us up from the airport and took us to the Port of Seattle, where the ship was waiting


My mom and I, with the Golden Princess behind us.  We got there about an hour before they started allowing passengers to board the ship, so we just hung around outside and took pictures


Princess logo.  The Golden Princess has been sailing since May 2001.  The ship is 950 feet long and has 17 decks.  It’s HUGE!


When you check in, they give you a map of the ship (the card on top), as well as your cruise card.  Your cruise card has your name and dining information on it.  (Ezra’s and my card both say “Maria Garcia”, lol).  It acts as your room key, credit card and “passport” during your stay at the Golden Princess.  The staff will scan it every time you disembark or board the ship.  And any time you want to buy cocktails, special sundaes, shakes, or things from the ship’s gift shop, they will scan your card and all your purchases will appear in your final bill at the end of the cruise.  Most of the food, drinks and facilities on the ship are free, so the only time we charged something on our card was when we bought some souvenirs on the ship.


According to the Princess website, the ship has 1,318 state rooms where guests can stay.  Ezra and I were in room C728 on Deck 10 (Caribe).  My parents had the room next to us.  The passenger’s names are written on the white card just outside the door.  Once again, they shortened our names so this is what our card looked like:


The cleaning staff were very curious and asked us why our parents gave us the same name, lol.


This is what our state room looked like inside.  You can choose to get a suite or cabin with a balcony or a window, but we decided that if we wanted to see the ocean we’d just go out on the top deck.

And here are some pictures of the rest of the ship:


The elevator and stairs area


Inside “The Sanctuary”



The Neptune Pool and the outdoor theater where they show movies at night


They called it “Movies Under the Stars”.  I wanted to try watching a movie here but it was always so cold in the evening!  They give out blankets to keep the passengers warm, but I doubt that’s enough.  Most of the people we saw watching were bundled up in thick winter clothes.


In the morning it looks just like a regular pool area with lounge chairs

The Lap pool outside The Sanctuary



The Calypso Pool, which is just outside the Horizon Court (AKA the “buffet room”)

The ship has several pools and a few hot tubs, but we weren’t brave enough to face the cold and try them


The Piazza, where they hold several shows and activities every day


Here’s a picture of people gathering to participate in an egg drop competition


The ship offered loads of activities – from swimming and other sports, to shopping.  We even found a puzzle station there.  There are art galleries, lounges, theaters, etc.  There’s also a gym on board for those who want to stay fit.

There was always something going on during our stay there.  Every morning we woke up with the cruise newsletter at our door, which gives the schedule of activities for that day


It’s called the “Princess Patter”

Aside from the schedule, it contains notes from various members of the staff and friendly reminders.  We used it to plan our day on the ship.


The had all sorts of things on there, like this Advanced Digital Photography seminar which we attended


My parents also went to this other seminar which talked about diamonds

On Mother’s Day there was a “Mother’s Day Card Making” event in at the Sabatini restaurant, which Ezra and I attended



The ship provided us with lots of cute craft materials


We joined in on a few of their trivia game shows.  We weren’t very good, but we enjoyed learning new and interesting facts.


We also participated in this Musical Murder Mystery game held by the staff and a few audience volunteers

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Book review : Wonder by RJ Palacio

11387515I finally finished reading this book.  It took me a while because halfway through I got distracted by K-dramas.  But I picked it up again the other day and didn’t stop reading until I finished it.

I have two words to describe this book : heart breaking and heartwarming.

This is a story about friendship and family, and just how important those two things are.  I cried so much reading this, especially towards the end.  Sometimes they were tears of anger, sometimes sadness, and sometimes I cried just because there was nothing else I could do.  But by the end, I only had tears of joy running down my face. This book took me on an serious emotional journey.  It’s a very light read, but it’s one of those stories that will touch your heart and stay with you for a long long time.

The story focuses on a 10 year old boy named August Pullman.  He was born with a double dose of mutant gene, which left him with a disfigured face.  I quote:

“My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, its probably worse.”

Because of his condition, he had to undergo numerous reconstructive surgeries at a young age.  This left his parents no choice but to have him home schooled.  But as he grew older, August’s parents decided that it might be time for him to attend a regular school. The first day of school is terrifying for everyone, more so for someone with Auggie’s condition.  Naturally, people are intrigued and he gets a lot of stares on his first few days.  Some people are content with just pointing and whispering about him, but there are those who can’t handle his different appearance and pick on him because of it.  Fortunately, Auggie is a brave kid, and with the support of his family and a few good friends, he is able to face the challenges and obstacles that are thrown at him. The book takes us into the minds of August and his loved ones, and shows us what it was like for them during this time.  The book’s narrator changes a few times, which gives us an idea of what the people around August go through.  Normally I hate it when the POV changes, but it was very interesting in this case.


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Review : Milani Multitasker Face Powder


This is more like a first impression than a review since I only used the product for three days.  But I just like it so much that I had to write this entry.

A lot of makeup gurus on YouTube have mentioned this in their monthly favorites so I figured I’d give it a try.  I actually picked this up last year, back when I was running low on my Maybelline Powder Foundation.  But for some reason I only opened this a few weeks ago


I bought it from Walmart and I can’t remember how much I got it for, but according to their site it should be around $7

I normally prefer BB creams and liquid foundation, but since it’s summer I haven’t been in the mood to put anything too heavy on my face.  I figured if this has good coverage, I can skip the BB cream/foundation.


I like the fact that the sponge comes in a separate compartment.  I know it makes for a bulkier packaging, but I feel it’s more sanitary this way.


I also love the print on the actual powder.  I think it looks very elegant.



The shade I picked up was Light Tan (#4).  Each compact comes with 10.5g of product.

This is what the Milani website has to say about this product

A luxurious, velvet-soft face powder, specially formulated to provide a dimensional yet natural-matte finish. Provides perfect light to medium coverage.

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K-drama Review : You Who Came From The Stars


(Also known as “My Love From Another Star“)

It’s been a while since I last watched a K-drama, and it’s been even longer since I last saw one that got me completely captivated. The last one was probably Secret Garden, back in 2011. (Although I did really enjoy To The Beautiful You). My sister is still pretty updated with the latest dramas and she strongly encouraged me to watch this one. She told me that since I love shojou mangas with a tsundere male, I would enjoy this a lot. And surprise surprise, she was right. Just one episode in and I was hooked.



Here’s the basic plot of the story according to Wikipedia:

Do Min-joon is an alien that landed on Earth in the year 1609 during the Joseon Dynasty. As his spaceship is broken, he is stranded on the planet for the next four centuries. He possesses a near-perfect appearance, enhanced physical abilities involving his vision, hearing and speed, and a cynical, jaded view regarding human beings. He meets a young girl whom he saves from death, but later on she gives her life saving him.

As time goes by, Min-joon is forced to take on a new identity every ten years, as his human appearance never ages.

In the present he works as a college professor and finds out that due to a comet coming in three months, he will be able to return to his home planet. In the meantime he accidentally meets famous actress Cheon Song-yi, the biggest Hallyu star in Korea, when she moves in next door to his luxurious apartment and also turns out to be attending his classes at college. Song-yi is an obnoxious, entitled attention seeker, someone who became a top star in her teens and never learned how to live a normal life. Min-joon finds out that Song-yi looks like the young girl he fell in love with in the Joseon era. He tries to keep himself away from her, as he needs to leave the planet.

However, Song-yi gets entangled in the dangerous game of Lee Jae-kyung, the elder brother of Hwi-kyung, who has been her friend since middle school and is in love with her. As Jae-kyung tries to silence Song-yi, Min-joon finds himself saving her multiple times and eventually the neighbours fall for each other. But Jae-kyung turns out to be much more dangerous than Min-joon suspected and he mysteriously also starts to lose control over his superpowers, making his only friend and confindant, Lawyer Jang worried about his life and return to space.

(The summary is pretty accurate, except for the part where it says his spaceship was broken. I’m pretty sure the reason he was stranded on Earth was because he was poisoned when it was time for the spaceship to leave so he got left behind. But I definitely agree with the statement about his “near-perfect appearance” XD)

I have just got to say that I LOVED this drama. So even though I’m extremely busy with work, I just had to write this quick review. To keep it short (well, shorter than my other K-drama reviews), I will try to focus only on the aspects of the show that I liked. Please be warned that this review will contain MAJOR SPOILERS. So if you plan to watch it, then you might want to close your browser now.



Cheon Song Yi (Jun Ji Hyun)

She was one of the main reasons I decided to watch this K-drama. My Sassy Girl is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I loved her in it. I remember first watching it back in college. I enjoyed it so much that I even made all my friends (and a few family members) watch it. I love that Cheon Song Yi’s character in this drama is pretty similar to her character in My Sassy Girl. They’re both bossy, confident and ultimately “sassy”. One major difference from her character in Sassy Girl is that Cheon Song Yi is pretty ditzy, which only makes me love her more. You guys know I have a soft spot for girls who are adorably cute and clueless. (think Go Mi Nam in You’re Beautiful, Mi Ho in MGIAG, Nodame in Nodame Cantabile and Yuan Xiang Qin in It Started With A Kiss). I say “clueless” because I don’t believe that Song Yi was actually stupid, despite what her bashers say – in fact I think she’s pretty clever. It’s just that she’s always had someone around to do things for her and clean up her mess ever since she was a kid, so she’s never had to fend for herself. She never had to take school seriously either because she started acting and earning big money at such a young age. Naturally, when the people taking care of her abandoned her, she was at a loss.

I truly admire Cheon Song Yi’s confidence and tenacity. And I applaud her for going right up to Do Min Joon and admitting her feelings to him. Personally I think it’s absurd to love someone and not tell them (unless they’re married or in a relationship or something). You’ll just waste years of your life wondering about things that could have been (example : Yoo Se Mi). I understand that confessing to someone can be terrifying, but at least you’ll know how they feel about you. If they like you too then hooray! And if they don’t then you can make a choice to keep fighting for them or move on.


I didn’t think I could love Jun Ji Hyun more after My Sassy Girl but this drama proved me wrong. The reason I enjoyed this show so much was because of her crazy antics. She’s not afraid to make herself look stupid or crazy, and I admire her for that. She’s confident, self assured and dauntless, but you can’t help but want to take care of her because she’s so clueless. Even her brother, a high school student, seems to know more about the world than she does.



I read on Allkpop that Kim Soo Hyun personally called and persuaded Jun Ji Hyun to play this role after they worked together on Thieves, because she initially refused. KSH believed that JJH is the only actress who could do this role justice so he convinced her. I’m glad he did because I don’t think this drama would have done aw well if it wasn’t for JJH :D


Do Min Joon (Kim Soo Hyun)

Ah, Kim Soo Hyun. Why must you do this to me? It’s been a while since I obsessed over an actor. I was doing pretty well but you had to go and ruin that. Gaaaah! Why must you be so perfect~


Yep, you know it~

I absolutely loved Do Min Joon. I’m such a sucker for male tsundere characters (i.e. Hwang Tae Kyung from You’re Beautiful, Chiaki Shinichi from Nodame Cantabile and Jiang Zhi Shu from ISWAK). I love how they try to act all tough and emotionless, but deep down they’re willing to go through anything for the girl they care about. *sigh*

Kim Soo Hyun did an amazing job in this drama. I smiled when he smiled and cried when he cried. I broke down in tears when he told Cheon Song Yi to leave him alone because he doesn’t have feelings for her, but froze time as she walked away so he could give her a goodbye kiss and tell her how much he truly loves her. And when he started crying as she was talking about the things she wanted to do for their future anniversaries (because he knew he be gone by then) – that was just heartbreaking. This was my first time watching any of his work, but you can be sure that I’ll be keeping a lookout for him now.


(I found this on Tumblr and I gotta say I agree XD)


Lee Hwi Kyung (Park Hae Jin)

He was one of my favorite characters on the show. I was a big Family Outing fan so I’m happy to see Hae Jin in this drama. Although, honestly, I didn’t recognize him at first. He got so thin!

I thought Hae Jin did a great job with his character.  I never knew he was such an amazing actor.  His actions and expressions are just spot on.  Lee Hwi Kyung’s the kind of guy that girls would want to have in their lives. He was caring, loyal, attentive and he never expects anything in return. (Like that scene when the reporters had Song Yi trapped in her apartment building – his first thought was what if she was starving in there.) He would go to the ends of the earth for Cheon Song Yi if she asked him to. He hopes that Cheon Song Yi will love him back someday, but he doesn’t pressure her to do anything she doesn’t want to do – he just waits patiently by her side and constantly lets her know that he loves her and will do anything for her. She’s rejected him for 15 years, but he never gives up. Honestly, part of me was hoping that they’d end up together, because I felt bad for him. But love is never that simple. And to be fair to Song Yi, she never lead him on. She made it clear that she never saw him as anything more than a friend, and tells him that that’s all he will be to her. There even came a time when she thought about giving up their friendship because she didn’t want to cause him more pain by keeping him around, but he refused. He believed that being friendzoned is better than not being with her at all. Seriously, I just wanted to reach into my laptop at times and give him a hug.


Don’t worry Hwi Kyung – girls will be lining up just to be with with a guy like you. If I didn’t have my Ckloy (and if you weren’t fictional) then I’d be right there along with them.

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