Review/Thoughts on “The Alchemyst” by Michael Scott (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1)


This was my 5th book for the 2015 Reading Challenge. A book recommended by a friend (my cousin). A super fast read. Reminiscent of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief but with a lot less humor and way more whining. Then again, I haven’t read Percy in a while, so it may be as annoying.

Premise: The Codex, a super important magical book with lots of important things including but not limited to the Elixir of Immortality, has been stolen from its protectors, Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel by Dr. John Dee, a lackey of the Dark Elders (the “Big Bad”). Not everything is lost, however, as 15 1/2-year old Josh Newman, whose summer job is working for the Flamels in their bookshop, managed to rip and keep the last two, and of course, most important, pages of the Codex. He and his twin, Sophie, are revealed/assumed to be the twins of prophecy, possessing pure gold and silver auras, respectively, which is pretty rare, apparently. According to the Codex, which contains practically everything, they have the power to save or destroy the world. The prophecy goes, “The two that are one, and the one that is all,” and it seems to be a widely held belief that one twin will cause the world’s destruction, the other, its salvation. Or something.

The Good
It’s a fun, fast-paced book with a lot of action and adventure. The story is engaging and you want to find out what happens to Nicholas and Perenelle (who was captured, by the way) and the twins and whatever creature of legend crosses their path. It serves as a really good introduction to different mythologies, because a lot of deities (and monsters!) from various cultures are mentioned (Hekate *Greek*, Odin *Norse*, and so on). And it’s cool that many (all?) of the immortal humans are historical figures (including Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel!). The places are also quite vivid and, as the author explains in the Author’s Note part, he visited all (?) or most of the locations of his books’ settings, and it shows.

Also, according to my notes, the book redeemed itself by the end, though the fact that I can barely remember why I said that (I remember what happened) doesn’t bode well.

The Meh
It’s a YA book, and it shows in the writing. I mean, I figure it’s deliberately written that way. There were a lot of redundancies when the author described things, enough for me to find distracting. A. Lot. Immortals like black, if their clothing and physical features are any indication. Also, the twins’ tongues always feel too large for their mouths (that sounds strange when I type it like that lol) and I wish the author would find different figures of speech for when they’re tongue-tied or nervous. Or in general, now that I think about it. I’m also a bit meh about the plethora of mythological immortals. I don’t much like everything and everyone being mixed up and I prefer Riordan’s format in Percy Jackson or The Kane Chronicles, but that’s just me. I can see how this would appeal to a lot of other people though.

Also, for a book titled “The Alchemyst”, emphasis on the “alchemy”, I don’t remember which parts were alchemical in nature, aside from the constant mention of turning common metals to gold and coal to diamond and brewing the potion of immortality, none of which they actually did during the book. Those three are it, by the way. I don’t know what else constitutes alchemy, though it might just be my muddled sleepy brain right now. Flamel is *THE* Alchemyst, but I feel like, with a recipe book, I could totally be *THE* Alchemyst as well. I can follow cookbooks and alchemy or whatever doesn’t seem that much more difficult.

The Bad
There were some plot holes and inconsistencies, especially at the beginning, and the book is more plot than character driven. It’s almost like the characters are just along for the ride. Oh, we have to have a change of scenery? Well, there’s this dude we have to go to to be trained or something or other so let’s go there! They also act inconsistently, their moods dependent on where the author wants the plot to go.

There was also so much whining. Whine, whine, whine, especially from Josh. I kind of wanted him to die several times, and still do, as I’m reading the second book. It’s almost like he wants to find an excuse to be contrary for fun. And he wants everyone to know how he feels. I get how teenagers are like that but ugh. Honestly, I was probably worse =)) At least they have more “real” problems and dangers, but I don’t like reading things I wrote during my teenage years for that reason. Also, Sophie describes Josh as loyal somewhere in the first half of the book, and I’m really not getting that. More like a selfish, self-entitled brat. Which okay, fine, that probably describes the majority of teenagers, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying.

Also, the timeline’s kinda effed up.It seems to me that the author is so committed to having the whole book happen in just one day that logic takes a backseat  Time speeds up or slows down when it’s convenient for the author and the characters seem to be superhuman, hardly needing time to rest.

There’s also no real sense of danger, almost. I mean, the main characters are “chosen ones” so they’re already born strong. “Developing” their powers, if you can call it that, hardly seems like much of an effort. I’m halfway through the second book and it’s more apparent here how easy it is to “train” in certain elements. It’s almost like a video game. Go to X, talk to Y, done! Achievement unlocked! You have access to Magic Z!


It’s not a horrible book. It has an interesting premise (man, these good premises have to stop biting me in the ass. I’m looking at you, Elantris.) and I do want to know how it ends. That said, I’d heartily recommend it more to pre- and early teens than 20-somethings. To the 20-somethings, I’d say that there are glaring issues with the book/s that I do think can be overlooked if you want to turn off your brain for a quick YA fantasy ride. Since I haven’t finished the series, I can’t say if the payoff is worth it, but right now, if you really want to thoroughly digest what you’re reading (which I’m trying to do), don’t pick up this book. 3.8/5 mostly for the premise and the latter half of the book apparently


2015 Reading Challenge

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope the holidays have been kind to you and I hope we all have a wonderful year ahead.

I got myself a Kindle Paperwhite for Black Friday (which arrived only last week) and I’ve been enjoying it immensely. I haven’t been reading too often before the Kindle’s arrival, and to get myself back into the groove, and, as it is a new year, why not challenge myself with a New Year’s resolution? And here it is: Popsugar’s Reading Challenge (pdf) (plain text)! It’s made up of 50 items (including a trilogy, so a total of 52 books, if you check off each book uniquely), an average of 4-5 books per month. I like it because I’m almost exclusively a fantasy and chick lit girl, and this will force me to broaden my horizons and hopefully discover books/authors/genres I might not have taken a look at otherwise. That said, if you’re looking for something more genre-specific, I’m sure there are other avenues, an example of which is Goodreads.

2015 Reading Challenge


I’m actually a pretty slow reader – I just make an effort to spend a lot of time reading. For those who are doubtful they can finish 52 books, why not cross out everything applicable to the book you read in Popsugar’s list? Or, as an alternative, Random House has 2 Reading Bingo cards, with only 24 items each!

Reading Bingo

Reading Bingo – YA Edition

Whatever you decide, just remember (and this is something I should keep in mind as well), reading for leisure is just that – it should be fun! So if you don’t think you can finish the above lists, or you don’t want to, just use it for inspiration! Let’s all have a lovely, book-filled year!


Random Nail Polish Swatches (of sort)

Hello! I haven’t posted anything here in forever and I keep meaning to, but find I have nothing to say. I recently got interested in nail polish (I know! Why did it take me so long?) and I took some crappy phone pictures and here they are, from the most recent to the oldest. I can’t for the life of me tell you what the undertones, etc. are; I just like the pretty colors. :3

Most of these I did myself so forgive the crappy application. I’ll note which ones I had done professionally.

Zoya Storm

Zoya Storm

Zoya Storm

This is my first Zoya polish. 3 coats, though 2 is fine. I got carried away because I found it quick to dry. Black with holo sparkles that show up in sunlight. I love the subtlety of the holo because I realized I don’t like holo that much. It’s so pretty and shimmery, but I was kinda surprised at its watery consistency, especially on the first coat. Evened out well after the second, though. It’s not bad with longevity, but not omgwtfbbq, either. I’m pretty rough on my nails, so most polishes usually don’t last more than a week. Right now (so a week later), my left nails are good except for some nail tipping and my right nails have more chips on them (pointer and middle), but overall not bad.


OPI Swimsuit…Nailed it

OPI Swimsuit...Nailed it!

OPI Swimsuit…Nailed it!

Metallic blue. 2 coats. I think I would’ve preferred this more had I done 3. It dried fast but was a hassle to remove. I think it stained my nails a bit.


Halloween Nails! (Skin Food Nail Vita Alpha? + Orly Holla)

Skin Food + Orly Holla

Skin Food + Orly Holla

I took these pictures for my friends =)) Sorry for the background. I think I did 3 coats of Holla and 2 of Skin Food. The Skin Food was the only black I had at the time. It dries matte and has a shimmer. Holla is an orange matte. I had an easy time removing both. I also tried a Holla + OPI What Wizardry is This? combo and it did not work at all haha


Hits no Olimpo Ares

Hits no Olimpo Ares - in sunlight

Hits no Olimpo Ares – in sunlight

Hits no Olimpo - Ares indoors

Hits no Olimpo – Ares indoors

2 coats. I think I put on polish wrong because the swatches I see online, at least for the Hits line, always seem darker. Ares is supposed to be red, but it looks pink to me. That said, I loooooooove this polish! I’d rate this the best in longevity, among all of the polishes I’ve tried (which are admittedly not that many). I also found it really easy to remove, as well. The holo can be seen, even indoors, but of course it shines in the sunlight.


OPI Magazine Cover Mouse

OPI Magazine Cover Mouse w/o flash

OPI Magazine Cover Mouse w/o flash


Magazine Cover Mouse Indoors with flash

I bought the OPI Couture de Minnie 2013 Mini Collection because I wanted something red to wear for my brother’s birthday and for the first Red Wings games of the season. This was 2 coats. Magazine Cover Mouse is a deep red with subtle shimmer. The shimmer can be seen indoors but is way more apparent outdoors or with flash. One of my friends didn’t like this because she thought it was too old for me.


OPI Ski Teal We Drop

OPI Ski Teal We Drop - Indoors w/ Flash

OPI Ski Teal We Drop – Indoors w/ Flash

OPI Ski Teal We Drop - Indoors

OPI Ski Teal We Drop – Indoors

OPI Ski Teal We Drop - Outdoors

OPI Ski Teal We Drop – Outdoors

OPI Ski Teal We Drop - Outdoors

OPI Ski Teal We Drop – Outdoors






The only reason I can fathom for having so many pictures of Ski Teal We Drop is because I was intrigued by it. When I showed the first and second pictures to my friends, most of them thought that I was showing them two different polishes. I don’t remember much else about this other than the weird chameleoning. I used 2 coats.

OPI Ski Teal We Drop under I don't remember what

OPI Ski Teal We Drop under I don’t remember what


I had bought these glitter things and I was curious to try them out, but OMG they were such a pain to remove. I had NO idea that it would be that way and I haven’t used them since. But they did look nice.




OPI Pamplona Purple

OPI Pamplona Purple

OPI Pamplona Purple

Pretty, flattering, matte purple. 2 coats. Got a lot of compliments on this.


Orly Blue Collar

Orly Blue Collar

Orly Blue Collar

I like blues, but this didn’t really suit me. I vaguely remember not liking the application. I used 2 coats. I realized I prefer OPI.

Orly Velvet Rope

Orly Velvet Rope - w/o flash

Orly Velvet Rope – w/o flash

Orly Velvet Rope w/ flash

Orly Velvet Rope w/ flash

This was done professionally. I just remember the bad experience I had with this since the manicurist nicked me a few times and I found the application uneven. This was 2 coats, I think.

Hits no Olimpo Apolo

Hits no Olimpo w/ flash

Hits no Olimpo w/ flash

Hits no Olimpo w/o flash

Hits no Olimpo w/o flash

Like the Ares, this was long-wearing but I wasn’t a fan of the color. I prefer deep, dark, rich blues and I found this more periwinkle. I don’t know why it looks streaky, but it was probably because of my inexperience. This was my 2nd self manicure.

Wet n Wild


My first self manicure. Oh the stains. Haha. I didn’t like this as I found it too dark. 2 coats, I think.


OPI What Wizardry is This?

OPI What Wizardry Is This?

OPI What Wizardry Is This?

Ah yes. The polish that started it all. I fell in love with What Wizardry is This? and I actually bought a bottle for myself. It’s a brownish/goldish sand. This is without topcoat so you can feel the texture.

So that’s it for my roundup. This probably isn’t that helpful, but I just wanted to breathe some life into this blog. Hope you enjoy!




I try not to write rants about customer service issues, etc. but I can’t help myself this time. I am so fed up with Sun Cellular/Smart Communication. My SmartBro experience is way shorter compared to my Sun experience, but I’ll share anyway.

I’m having connectivity issues with SmartBro so, not having any Smart numbers, I tried calling their landline hotline, instead. Several tries to no avail. I reached the automated announcement (Hello, welcome to Smart, etc), but when I was supposed to enter my account number or something, the automated machine would always say that I typed the incorrect number. Fine.

I got to borrow a Smart cellphone, FINALLY got through to their CS and explained that I hadn’t had internet for a while, etc. She asked if I was in front of the router so we could troubleshoot and I said no, I was just borrowing this cellphone from a friend. I explained all of the troubleshooting measures I tried, but no, apparently we had to do “real time” troubleshooting. I could’ve lied my way through it, but it’s difficult for me to lie, so I asked if there was another way to contact them not involving a Smart number. Having done so before, when I was in Manila, I figured they had to have other alternatives, and maybe I just dialed several wrong numbers when I tried to contact them before. Unfortunately, she said, I needed a Smart number to contact them.

I was flabbergasted. To clarify, I repeated my question: “There’s no way to contact you, AT MY OWN EXPENSE, an issue related to SMARTBRO (not a handset), so I can redo troubleshooting measures I already tried?” No, apparently not. Continue my shock and denial. What’s the point of ADVERTISING a “HOTLINE CONNECT Via Landline” IF IT DOESN’T WORK????? Assuming I don’t have anyone to borrow a Smart number from, does that mean I have to BUY a Smart number WHICH I HAVE NO USE FOR aside from calling customer service to fix my SmartBro issue? Ridiculous.

After my previous headaches with Sun Cellular, and now this… I just wish they’d be more considerate to non-Smart or non-Sun cellphone subscribers. Geez. It pisses me off that I have to go through hoops to fix an issue with their service.

Now, how the hell am I gonna fix this damned SmartBro……………………..


My 1st Reddit Gift Exchange – Thoroughly Disappointing

When I started this blog, I told myself that I would write reviews about whatever, and not about my personal life, unless it’s relevant to the review. Unfortunately, this is a straight up rant because I don’t know where else to express these feelings.

So. I just finished (or am on the way to finishing) my first Reddit Gift Exchange. We’ve all seen super duper awesome, expensive gifts given like iPads, computers, and even something from Bill Gates (sadly not a Surface. Whether I think that’s awesome or not is neither here nor there). There are also super duper cool gifts (if not monetarily expensive) like artwork and other crafts. Most probably wish to receive something as awesome, and maybe even some sign up in the first place, specifically hoping to get a brand new NDS or what have you. I was one of the former, but not the latter. So, with shining eyes, I registered for a reddit and a redditgifts account, clicked the signup button for the Hockey gift exchange, painstakingly filled up all of the required info (and writing a very detailed Likes/Dislikes since I hadn’t posted anything in reddit, so my match had nothing to stalk me with), and patiently waited for Matching Day. /r/hockey (the sub-reddit/forum for duh hockey)  already had an unofficial gift exchange, and I think most participants received something, so I rested easy. I’ve always believed that hockey fans are the best, among the Top 4 sports, so the percentage of me being shafted was pretty small, I thought.

I’m just a new hockey fan, actively watching games live only a few months ago. I really wanted hockey swag to decorate my work with, so I WAS SO EXCITED for the exchange.

Unfortunately, in any, and all, exchanges, there will be scammers who join for free stuff. Reddit has a system that tries to lessen scammers, but I can’t comment on its efficacy. So if someone gets matched by a scammer, people can volunteer to be rematchers, giving the shafted person something, while receiving nothing in return. Of course rematchers can also shaft you.

So, hockey fans (best in the world) + Reddit system + Rematchers = WIN, right?

Well, yes, in theory. When Matching Day came, I excitedly checked who I was matched with, and saw he was a new member (ruh roh), so didn’t have any posts (ruh roh x 2), and when I messaged him, he didn’t reply (ruh roh x 3). As a good Santa, I still sent him something, though admittedly didn’t go all out. I’d like to say that I felt bad, but after he still didn’t reply to ANY of my messages and didn’t even post the gift he received, MEH. I can’t definitively say he was a scammer, but well……….. I thought to myself, I still have my Santa. Giving is just one part of the exchange, right?

Well, my Santa checked my info twice (once during the start/middle and once at the end), but never sent me a message or a gift. Sigh. Well, fine. I received an email saying I was a rematcher for someone, promptly sent them a message and a gift (2 shirts and a pair of earrings), and all/most was well. Actually, when she posted her gift, she didn’t include the earrings, and when I asked her about it, she didn’t reply. Meh. Honestly, I AM annoyed. I mean, c’mon, this random person gave you something without expecting anything in return and you can’t even reply to her question. Well, whatever, her post seemed positive, at least. While looking around, I also noticed that I was rematched to someone and said person checked my info a couple of times. Woo-hoo!

I had cancelled my participation as a hockey rematcher because of funds but felt bad and signed up again. Again, promptly sent the guy a message and ordered the gift (signed puck).

A couple of days later, my rematch santa sent me a message saying that he didn’t have much money anymore and so gave me a 3-month Elf subscription. I said thanks and posted in the gallery.

Sigh. I thought to myself, why be a rematcher if you know you can’t give anything? zzzzzzzzz

I know a lot of people say that the happiness is in the giving. Well, I gave and gave and gave, and sure, I’m happy, but I’d still like to receive something more in turn. This is a gift EXCHANGE, after all. I mean, I am thankful to my rematcher coz at least s/he gave me something, but sigh. I spent, what, $100 and I got $10 in return? Not even something I can physically hold. I wasn’t even expecting a computer, for crying out loud. A shirt would’ve been fine, and I also asked for a puck coz I’ve never seen one irl. Good thing I ordered one on Amazon coz my Santas didn’t even give me that. Sigh.

So here comes Arbitrary Day and I signed up for it, but, I don’t want to get my hopes up again, just to be thoroughly disappointed. I don’t think I’ll be a rematcher, either, for this round.



Looks like I’m a sad giftee for this Reddit exchange.

As some of you may know, Reddit is pretty much an online geek community/forum. They have a gift exchange every month, I think, with various themes, although the three main themes are Arbitrary Day in June, Halloween and Christmas.

Anyway, I’ve been getting into hockey recently and coincidentally, there’s a hockey gift exchange this month in time for the Stanley Cup playoffs! Signups were from March 31 to April 14. I actually got my match on April 15, local time, though. I was so excited! I saw so many awesome past gifts and actually r/hockey had an unofficial gift exchange last December and I think it went well. Only a few people got shafted and those who did got at least small care packages c/o /u/Patrick_Kane, the organizer.

So, to recap: recently got into hockey + (official) hockey gift exchange + hockey fans are the best ever and I think/thought less scammers = WIN. Sign me up! Unfortunately, things haven’t worked out for me. I mean, I know it’s early since gifters have until May 2 to ship, but my info hasn’t even been pulled! Meaning, whoever I was assigned to doesn’t even know s/he is assigned to me. Balls. And really, my heart died a little more each time I refreshed the page and saw more and more people getting picked and fewer and fewer people gifters. There are always scammers every gift exchange and I estimated less than 10% would be shafted in the hockey exchange and I did the math. There are – okay, the redditgifts site just crashed so I’ll just put estimates. There are ~1440 participants so if 10% will be scammed, that would be ~140. So far, as far as I remember, only ~110 people haven’t been picked, me being one of them. It’s looking like that won’t change anytime soon. Sigh. I signed up to be a rematcher for the hockey exchange and the t-shirt exchange. Rematchers give gifts to people who weren’t given gifts by their original santas, expecting nothing in return, but hockey only has 23 rematchers, again, including me. So 22 rematchers for potentially 110 scammed (probably more) would be a ~`20% chance so yeah, I’m not even gonna hope. So yes. My heart has pretty much broken. Sigh. And I was so excited, too. Sigh.

Anyway, to add crappiness to the crapf*ck of my gift exchange experience, the person I was matched with sucks. No posting history (scammer?) and said he likes everything. ‘Kay. He did specify a thing or two but he still seems lame. I was so excited to stalk someone with a lot of post history to give them a super thoughtful and awesome gift and I was also ready to splurge. As it is, with my match, I stayed around the suggested budget. I probably would have been more in the mood to splurge if someone had picked me, but, well, yeah. Actually, I’m a new member, too, so no post history, but I was super duper detailed with my background and likes and dislikes. I wouldn’t have minded if he were like that. As it is, I’m looking at giving away 3 gifts and getting nothing in return. Can you hear my heart smashing into pieces? Haha.

I ranted to my friend and he said something like I should have expected that to happen and the point of the gift exchange is the giving. I would like to think that signing up for 1 exchange and 2 rematches is in the spirit of giving, but the whole thing is still an EXCHANGE, not charity.

Sigh. Next up is Arbitrary Day which has more participants and more scammers so I don’t know if I’m going to join. I probably will give it a chance, but it just sucks if I get nothing for my first exchange after being relatively generous (IMO).


………… now, which other exchanges should I volunteer to be rematch santa again………..



Monster Hunter Nemesis e-ARC AVAILABLE :)

I just bought Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). Who’s excited? This girl! It was (for me) quite steep at $15 but screw it, let’s support the author!


MHN is the 5th installment of the Monster Hunter International (MHI) series. In a nutshell, MHI’s premise is that monsters (and subsequently those who hunt monsters) exist. It’s really just an easy read full of guns and tons of action. Larry Correia is a certified firearm instructor, so his descriptions of guns are pretty spot on (then again, this is coming from someone who knows nothing about guns so take that with a grain of salt). From the first page of the first book (entitled “Monster Hunter International” as well), we get a taste of how Correia writes, the main character Owen Zastava “Z” Pitt, an accountant (just had to mention that bit. How many accountants are hardcore gun nuts? Seriously?) battling with his werewolf boss, effectively plunging him (and us) into a world of vampires (no overly hormonal teenagers here), ghouls, ghosts and goblins. I don’t even know why I love MHI so much. It’s pretty typical in that there’s a badass hero, there’s a badass alien evil force thing and the badass hero and his badass friends storm the evil entity, guns ablaze, literally. Think of this book as the B movie you love to watch on a rainy day. Maybe a tad silly, maybe crazily unbelievable, but you still enjoy it tremendously. The characters pretty much don’t change in the entirety of the book (and subsequent books), but they’re still so much fun to read about.

But I’m getting sidetracked. I really just wanted to share my excitement on Nemesis’s release. Blurb from Baen books:

Agent Franks of the U.S. Monster Control Bureau is a man of many parts—parts from other people, that is. Franks is six foot five and all muscle. He’s nearly indestructible. Plus he’s animated by a powerful alchemical substance and inhabited by a super‑intelligent spirit more ancient than humanity itself.

Good thing he’s on our side. More or less.

Sworn to serve and protect the United States of America from all monsters by one of the country’s founding fathers, Franks has only one condition to the agreement: no matter what the government learns of him, no matter what is discovered concerning his odd physiology or the alchemy behind the elixir that made him, the government is never, ever allowed to try and make more like him. Such is absolutely forbidden and should the powers‑that‑be do so, then the agreement is null and void.

Project Nemesis: in a secret location, using sophisticated technology and advanced genetic engineering, the director of the very agency Franks works for is making more like him. And the director is not content with making one. Nope, he’s making thirteen.

Now all bets are off, and Hell hath no fury like a monster betrayed. Particularly if that monster happens to be an undying killing machine capable of taking out vampires and werewolves with one hand tied behind his back.

Full disclosure, I’m a biiiiit apprehensive as, although this book promises lots of monster-butt-kicking action, I didn’t love the last MHI book that didn’t focus on Z (MH Alpha). But Franks is one of my favorite characters in MHI and it would be interesting to see things from his perspective. Z’s perspective only shows us Franks’ badassery, but I’d like to see what’s beyond that.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy (ebook), head on over to Baen Books (only place the ebook is available). http://www.baenebooks.com/p-2385-monster-hunter-nemesis-earc.aspx The officially released books cost only $6 so if you haven’t yet purchased earlier MHI books (or The Grimnoir Chronicles by Correia which also rock!), go to Baen Books. Hurry! And wouldn’t hurt to leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon. =D

The books are DRM free so you can read it on any device you wish (Kindle, Nook or even your cellphone). If you want to wait for the official, proofread copy, it will be released on July 1, 2014.

After reading my glowing comments, I realized I sound too advertise-y but no one is paying me to promote Larry Correia or his books. I just personally love them and would like to share the love.