It all started at a #romanceclass meet-up, when Mina mentioned that she dreamed of writing a Sweet Valley-esque type of series, but set in the Philipp...moreIt all started at a #romanceclass meet-up, when Mina mentioned that she dreamed of writing a Sweet Valley-esque type of series, but set in the Philippines. Everyone who attended that class had read Sweet Valley at some point in their lives, so it was a pretty exciting idea. We all started chattering excitedly about it, like where the school would be and the activities, and started calling dibs on characters in the school - the jock, the teachers, and the like. Stories started getting written over the next few months, a website was set up to house the stories, continuity was established, and now, the first volume of the book is out. (Well, almost out, because as of this writing, it's still a few days before the launch. :D)
The stories in Luna East were cute and fun, and there were no two stories alike. I liked how there were so many eyes to see high school in, and so many people to rub elbows with. Since this is just volume 1, the stories barely scratch the surface of what could be happening inside the school, but it's a good start to get yourself acquainted with the environment. True enough, it felt like the school was a playground for the imagination, and reading through the stories got me more excited to finish mine, and mention some of the characters who were already in the other stories.
And that's my favorite part of this, really - the continuity. I've always loved it when characters have a cameo appearance in other stories. I loved how one character would even have speaking lines in other stories, giving them more depth. Don't you love it when authors work with each other and come up with completely original stories? :) (And if you've read #romanceclass novels, you'll probably spot a familiar place used in several stories, too. :D)
I didn't study in a school like Luna East, but even so, reading this was almost like I was back in high school. In a good way, though, because my high school life was pretty tame and I could use a little excitement. As the summary said, the stories here are mostly about love -- you know, the high school kind of love. Crushes, unrequited love, love-hate, unexpected type of love from the popular people to the people who consider themselves nobody inside the halls of Luna East. But more than love, they're also stories of friendship -- from kids who grew up together to kids who just got to know each other. You might see yourself in one of these stories, because even if the setting is completely fictional (and artsy), and even if you never had to wear unnecessary vests, high school is pretty much a universal experience for all of us. You might hate it or like it (or like me, you're pretty ambivalent about it), but there's always that one (or two, or three) high school memory that you will always tell the friends you meet post-high school.
But yeah, even as I read this, I found myself shaking my head at times while saying, kids these days. Hmf. Seriously, though, the first volume of Luna East was such a fun read. Come and see what's inside, and you might just find a spot for yourself. And when you do, perhaps you'd like to write about it? :)
My friend Kai recommended The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg to me way back it first came out, but I never got around to readin...moreMy friend Kai recommended The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg to me way back it first came out, but I never got around to reading it for some reason. Then one day, while waiting for some friends to pick me up in a bookstore in a mall that I've only been to once, I saw the new cover of the book and read the back blurbs. I don't know what happened, but I decided to pick it up. Perhaps it finally piqued my interest? I can't even remember if the words "letting go" were there, but in case they were, then it was probably why I decided to get it.
Brie dies because of heart break, soon after her boyfriend, Jacob, breaks up with her. Impossible, yet it happened, and Brie wakes up in the afterlife, unsure of what exactly she needs to do now. She meets another soul, Patrick, who goes with her when she revisits her old life. Brie realizes the extent of the loss that the people she left felt, and how things were suddenly so far away from what she's expected: her family's breaking apart, her best friend "going out" with her ex. Brie being dead meant she couldn't do anything about it...or could she? How can she move on now, knowing that everything and everyone she left are now so messed up?
I didn't really expect to love this book so much while I was reading it, but I did. Brie's voice was fresh and snarky and so fun to read, that even if she was essentially dead, it wasn't so hard to relate to her. I liked how Brie was such a normal girl, with her family, her dog, her friends and her boyfriend. Everything about her seemed normal, until she died, of course. But even so, Brie's personality shone throughout, and I laughed with her, felt sad with her and I felt truly, truly happy for her when things started falling into place at the end.
The book isn't really about death per se -- it didn't answer the mysteries of life or anything -- but more about grief, and moving on. I liked how the story was framed around the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), which is basically applicable not just to deaths but anything that we ever grieved for. Here, I read about how Brie's family and friends worked through these stages, and Brie as well...and they didn't handle it all spectacularly. Which is okay, because they're humans, and we never really go through all those 5 stages perfectly and not have battle scars in the end. The Catastrophic History of You and Me is really more about letting go, moving on, and forgiving - others and yourself - and that part really resonated with me.
I liked pretty much everything about this, except maybe the other backstory about this other character and the complications of souls was kind of dizzying. I mean, I got it, but a part of me kind of feels like it kind of came out of nowhere, and it was an additional layer that really didn't need to be there. Except, of course, it provided a better resolution for why things were like that between them, but overall, I could do without it.
I was smiling at the end of this book. It was funny and sad and heartbreaking and hopeful all the same time, and I'm really glad I read The Catastrophic History of You and Me. I almost forgot that this was more of a paranormal romance novel than a contemporary one. :) If you're grieving, or if you've ever had a hard time moving on or letting go, then this book will be a good friend for you. Trust me on this. :)
I think I mentioned it before that sometimes, you need to be in a certain mood to appreciate some books. Sometimes, no matter how other people like a...moreI think I mentioned it before that sometimes, you need to be in a certain mood to appreciate some books. Sometimes, no matter how other people like a book, if you're in not in that kind of mood, you won't be able to relate to any of the characters no matter what you do, or you won't be able to feel what the book wants you to feel. (Of course, there are some books that are just really hard to get into, even if you are in that same mood, but that's another story.)
So, Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (and illustrated by Maira Kalman). I've seen this book and wanted this book when it was published, but I think I saw a not so good review of it somewhere, so I stopped wanting it. I have to admit that this is the kind of book that is right up my alley, especially since I was all about embracing your inner romantic last year. Then the book fell out of my radar, until it came back again and a friend lent me her copy because I figured it was time to read it.
Then I tried. I read the first few chapters, and then had the extreme desire to throw the book away so I stopped. I didn't want to throw the book away because it was bad, no. I wanted to throw the book away because it was getting too close for comfort. And the truth comes out. :P Suffice to say, maybe I was in the mood for this book, but it was too hard to read it because I was too much in that mood. Did that make sense? Anyway, months later, I decided to try reading this book again because some girls in our book club was reading this. I figured, why not join them? It could be some sort of release, as a good friend told me when I mentioned it. So I put my brave face on and started again.
Why We Broke Up is a break-up story, a long letter from Min Green to Ed Slaterton, her ex-boyfriend, telling their story from her side based on the items in the box that she was returning to him. These items (the illustrated parts of the book) were remnants of their short-lived relationship: bottle caps, a box of matches, movie tickets, a protractor, a note, a book, among other things. Take it, it's yours. This is why we broke up. Either you have the feeling or you don’t, Min writes, and we are left to wonder what exactly happened that led to Min and Ed's break-up.
Warning: this is a book full of drama. Every page is dripping of Min's bitterness and anger and heartbreak, and...well, it was kind of expected because of the title alone. The hard part of it, I think, is that I was kept in the dark why they broke up. I just know they broke up, but I didn't know why, and Min just kept on repeating "this is why, this is why" with every item she wrote about. It wasn't until the very, very end that we know, but the entire time, she just rambles on and tells their love story without a hint of the real reason why. And it's hard to see, too, especially since Ed seems a perfectly good guy from the start. Okay, perhaps he's not perfect -- he seems secretive, he has this thing about saying "no offense" and he seems judgmental about some guys who aren't into sports and labels them "gay", but he seemed to really like Min, so why is Min being so damn dramatic about everything?
Since I was reading the story from Min's POV, it was easy to pin the blame on her. You know how when a friend tell us a love problem, the first thing we often do is to try to find what our friend is doing wrong because it's something we can fix, because we know our friend better than the other party? It's that kind of thing. I read everything from Min's POV, so it was easier to try to find something that she did wrong...until I found out the real reason why they broke up and then, damn it. Ed, you're an asshole. I understood why Min is so angry. Granted, she wasn't perfect, either -- she shouldn't have jumped right in ahead in the relationship, she should have took her time, she should have seen the signs from the start...but well she's a teenager. This is young love. We have all been there. And I guess even if we have the wisdom of the years with us, things like this still hurt just the same.
The best part of the book, though, is Min's friends. I loved Al and Lauren (there was another name, but I forgot, eep), and to some extent, Jillian, that girl that Ed dated before Min. I loved them, and what they did for Min in the end. They didn't do anything so special, really, but they did what good friends do in times like this. I reread the last parts of the book because of them, and I was glad that Min had them with her in the fallout.
I've never been in a relationship, so it follows that I've never been in a break-up...but there were some times in my life where it seemed like the pain I was feeling is something akin to a break-up -- at least, based on what I read and saw on TV. And maybe that's why I ended up liking this book, because in some ways, I have been there. I know at least a fraction of what Min felt. Whether it's a relationship ending, or an almost-relationship that never became one, there's still pain there, and it hurts just the same. But the good thing I got out of all of this is...well, reading Why We Broke Up was strangely cathartic. Huh, my friend was right. Reading this book at the end of the year was a surprising release of feels. ;)
So yeah, I liked Why Why Broke Up. Perhaps if I read this last year, or any other time later, I wouldn't have liked it as much. But I liked it, and I am glad I read it, despite all the drama. (Because trust me, I've had enough of drama in the past year. :P)
Either you have the feeling or you don’t.
P.S. The illustrations were a good touch. :)
P.P.S. And no, I don't think I'm the "return all things" type person. I think I'm more of the "throw things away" one. ;)
I was shopping for a Christmas present for my mom in Body Shop when I saw that they have new stocks of my favorite body butter scent, tangerine. That...moreI was shopping for a Christmas present for my mom in Body Shop when I saw that they have new stocks of my favorite body butter scent, tangerine. That scent became my favorite by accident years ago, when I went there to claim my Love Your Body membership birthday gift, and they gave me a small bottle of their tangerine-scented lotion and body wash. I used it for the gym and loved it, and eventually bought more until I got broke and realized that my daily bath stuff are too expensive. So while I was there, buying a Christmas present for my mom, I decided to get a tub of the tangerine body butter, since it's on sale anyway. Plus, the scent just really cheers me up.
I'd like to believe that the moment I had with that body butter was something that Shauna Niequist was pointing at in her first book, Cold Tangerines.The subtitle alone is an indication of it: Celebrating the extraordinary nature of everyday life. Plus the fact that what I bought was a tangerine scented body butter, it kinda fits the entire thing, right?
Anyway. I loved the first Shauna Niequist book I read, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way, so when I saw that her two other books were on sale on Kindle on early December morning, I immediately bought it. I was a little afraid that her books might be those one-hit thing, meaning I won't really like the others I read because I won't be able to relate to it, but I shouldn't have feared anything with her first book because it was exactly what Bittersweet was for me when I first read it: it came at the right time in my life.
Cold Tangerines is exactly about what it says: celebrating the extraordinary nature of everyday life. Here, Shauna Niequist talks about the many little ways that God shows Himself in life, how the natural becomes spiritual, and how the physical things we see and we do are all connected to how we are nourished spiritually. There's food, friendship, writing, traveling. There's body issues, vacations, heartbreak, family. Shauna shared stories of her personal life, much like how she also did in Bittersweet, and then points the reader to God, and His faithfulness and His wonder in the ordinary life that she had.
Which means, we too, can see this, the extraordinary in our everyday life. I loved how easy it was to relate to her stories in this book, and whatever stage of life I was in, I would be able to find wisdom and advice in this book. Shauna's honesty shone in this book, and when I read the part about how hard it was for her to write in this book, I realized how much she must have struggled to put these words on paper. But that struggle was a blessing, at least for me, because I know that struggle, too. I feel that every time I write a post for my personal blog, wrestling with the words in hopes of them being used for something. And then there's the forgiveness chapter, one of my favorites, which really and truly came at the right time because I was struggling to forgive and ask for forgiveness from someone as well. Like Bittersweet, I think I highlighted almost half of the book -- there were just so many quotes to keep -- the ones I added below are just a glimpse of it, really.
I don't plan on using my tangerine-scented body butter everyday because I don't want to run out of it too fast. But I do take the time to smell it everyday, in a way to remind me that I can choose to see my life as sweet and happy, because it really is. And that is what Shauna Niequist's Cold Tangerinesis -- a reminder that there is something super in our natural life. Cold Tangerines is the kind of book I would recommend someone to read especially for the New Year. It's fresh and honest and funny and inspiring, and I think it would help set the mood for the fresh start that everyone's looking for in the turn of the year. Or if it's not the New Year, read this, still. This book is a reminder that there is beauty and hope and redemption in this extraordinary everyday life.
My friend and I were browsing in Fully Booked sometime before Christmas when I spotted this Lang Leav's Love & Misadventure and started browsing....moreMy friend and I were browsing in Fully Booked sometime before Christmas when I spotted this Lang Leav's Love & Misadventure and started browsing. I opened to a random page, read it, and cursed. Then I called my friend and we started picking random pages, cursing every now and then at the pages we read, because damn, the stuff we read kinda hurt. That was the time I added this book in my wish list, and hoped someone would give it to me. Because, as I said on my Twitter: "Lang Leav's Love & Misadventure: <3 </3"
Love & Misadventure is a collection of poetry and illustrations by Lang Leav that talks about love, and some misadventures in love. It's quite melancholic and perhaps a bit painful and bitter at some points. The book is short, and I finished reading it while I was waiting in the bank, and it left my heart just a little tender in some parts after I was done.
Except that it didn't leave me as wowed as I was when I first read it. Perhaps I was expecting it a little too much, especially after I've read several pieces before I finally sat down and read the entire collection. That, or this is another case of "mood reading" - when things I read at first resonated because I can relate to it more compared to when I finally read the entire thing. I also felt that some of the poems felt too...young. Not necessarily juvenile, but just something that felt like it was coming from a very young place. Did that make sense?
I don't know; maybe I just wasn't in that mood when I was reading this (granted, I read this right after I finished Brené Brown's Daring Greatly, so that may have affected my appreciation). That's not to say that the pieces I first read didn't resonate with me again -- it did, but maybe less because I've already read them before. I think Love & Misadventure is good, except maybe my personal hype had already faded from when I randomly read some pages of it.
Or, you know, I just really stopped relating to the poems I liked first. If that's the case...then that's good, right? :)
Oh, but if you liked the poems in Love & Misadventure and you want more, then I will direct you to Mindy Nettifee's The First Time and Filipino author Marla Miniano's blog. I think you'll like these, too. :)
Ever since I reached my mid-20's, or at least, ever since I started experiencing the so-called "quarter-life crisis", I started categorizing some of t...moreEver since I reached my mid-20's, or at least, ever since I started experiencing the so-called "quarter-life crisis", I started categorizing some of the books I read into a "QLC" category. This list includes Astigirl by Tweet Sering, and Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist, both of which are non-fiction. After reading Mina V. Esguerra's Welcome to Envy Park,I finally had a fiction book in that QLC books list.
Moira Vasquez is on a break, and she's taking this break in her brand new condo in NV Park after five years of working and saving in Singapore. And this break it meant: no job, no boyfriend, but with some plans on where she's jetting off next. She has no plans of staying too long, really, even if Ethan, the cute guy who lives in the same building is proving to be a really good distraction. Moira is convinced that she's home for a quick stopover, but what if what she needs is already right in front of her?
Welcome to Envy Park didn't feel like the usual contemporary romance that I've known Mina for. Somehow, this book feels a little bit more mature and perhaps it's because the romance felt like a side story to what Moira was going through. I admit that I'm not a Moira. I'm not the type of person who'd shake things up just because (until lately, anyway). I tend to become comfortable, and just settle there until the restlessness finally hits me and I drag myself up. I never thought of working abroad, and until now I still don't think about it, but I do admire Moira for her guts to do it, and to keep on doing it. It takes a certain kind of personality, I guess, to be willing to uproot yourself every time.
But you can't always uproot yourself, right? At some point in your life, you have to start thinking of settling down (I got that feeling when I turned 27. Then things happened, and now I felt the need to uproot myself again, heh), and this is basically Moira's story. I liked how Moira was exposed to so many people in the book and how she observed them, and how she compared her life to them with her lists. Her voice is fun and fresh and her struggles with her thoughts, her career, her family and her love life felt true, like it's something someone her age experiences.
The story flowed easily, although it may not be as gripping as other romance novellas are -- perhaps it's because again, it really didn't feel like one for me. I thought it was more about self-discovery, and yeah, a certain kind of coming of age, and romance just happened to come with it all. And isn't that how it really often happens in real life?
Welcome to Envy Park is a book about choices, how it makes us, how it affects the people around us, and the things that come with it. It's a bit different from Mina's other books, but it's a good one. Definitely for people my age who are thinking of making major decisions in life (don't worry, you're not alone!). :)
I can't remember the last time I was so excited to receive an email about a review request from the publisher until I got an email from Katz of Flipsi...moreI can't remember the last time I was so excited to receive an email about a review request from the publisher until I got an email from Katz of Flipside, about A.S. Santos' new book, Corpse in the Mirror. I really enjoyed Voices in the Theater from last year, and it was one of those books that I didn't think I would like but I ended up enjoying, so I was really looking forward to reading the next book. So imagine my joy when I received an email about this. I practically jumped in my seat (and I was having dinner with my family), and right after that, I started to reread the first book just so I can get ready for the second. (Oh, and I enjoyed reading the first book just as much as I did on the first time :D)
In the second book of the Student Paranormal Research Group (SPRG) series, Sam's powers are growing, and more than just hearing things, she starts seeing things. But that's not what really is taking a lot of her attention now, because her friend and fellow SPRG member, Richard, is being all too showy with her, almost like they're dating but they're not. When their next case brings them to Richard's apartment where weird things have been happening lately, Sam realizes just how much her powers have changed. Now someone they know is in trouble, and only she can help her.
Just like the first book in the series, Corpse in the Mirror is very readable. It's so easy to drop into Sam's world (although perhaps it's easier for me because the setting, again, was quite familiar) and be a quiet member of their group. The first few chapters of the book was equally creepy, so much that I realized I had to stop reading it when I realized I was reading it late at night, and I wanted to go to the bathroom to pee but there's a mirror, and who knows what I'll see there? :o But anyway, after the first initial creep-out part, it became more of a murder mystery with a supernatural twist, and it was quite interesting following the team in solving this mystery.
I think there's a little less of the angel aspect in this book. I mean sure, there was still a bit of it, but there were more interactions between Sam and the other characters in the group instead of Sam and the angels. I liked this, and it was interesting to see how their relationships grew here, both in the platonic and romantic sense. I think I especially liked the romance aspect in this novel -- it's not cheesy, but it's definitely a bit more complicated. But its complications felt grounded. A little spoiler: there's some sort of a love triangle, but it's not the usual triangle of the recent paranormal romance novels where one is the obvious choice. I liked how there were several voices of reason in the book when it came to the romance, and how the advice was sound and relevant. The lessons for the here were definitely something that everyone who's ever been confused with relationships and romance need to hear. (Well I know I sort of needed to read them at that time. ;) )
I also really liked how this one ended, even more so than the last one. In a way, you would need to suspend your disbelief at how things were resolved, but I thought it worked well with the story's universe. It reminded me a little bit of how the things worked in my favorite books, This Present Darkness, so I don't have much complaint over that. It's a bit of a cliffhanger, though, and now I can't help but wonder what could happen next to Sam and her group? I have a few predictions on the romantic side though, so I really, really hope it works out that way. :D
If you enjoyed Voices in the Theater, I definitely recommend that you pick this up. Corpse in the Mirror is a good blend of horror, suspense, faith and romance. I am definitely, definitely looking forward to the third book in the series. :)
I've loved Hyperbole and a Half ever since my colleague told me about the blog. I remember there were days when I'd read the blog and start laughing u...moreI've loved Hyperbole and a Half ever since my colleague told me about the blog. I remember there were days when I'd read the blog and start laughing uncontrollably at my desk, reading and rereading my favorite entries and hoping for more, more always more because the world needs more stories from Allie. I loved the drawings, the seemingly impossible stories about her dogs, the stuff about cake, the Alot and stories of her childhood. They were funny and crazy and just a delight to read, and the blog became one of my go-to places whenever I need some cheering up.
So I was thrilled when I found out she had a book coming out, because like I said, I can't get enough of her stuff. It took a little while, because of her adventures in depression, but I was glad when I saw the book up on Netgalley. It came at a pretty good time, too, because I needed something quick and funny to read, and this was just the one I needed.
Hyperbole and a Half contains some of the stories that you can find in Allie's blog, with some new stories, too. I had fun reading the stories in this collection, although I have to admit that some of them didn't make me laugh too much because I have read them too many times in the blog. I guess I can only laugh about them so much?
The other never-before-seen stories were funny, though, and I especially loved the one with the goose. Oh my Lord, I had a grand time reading that one, and I can't stop laughing over the images of the goose trying to get in the room, and the scene in the car. The funniest part of it were the actual photos of the goose to prove that it really happened -- you know what, even if it didn't really happen, I don't care. It was just so unbelievably funny that it is now a part of the favorite Hyperbole and a Half stories in my head.
I think most of my reading experience was hampered a bit by the device I used to read the book and the ebook formatting. I read the book in my phone because reading it in Hannah the Kindle Paperwhite won't be fun because the illustrations aren't colored. My phone has an itty-bitty screen though, and it made reading just a little bit bothersome compared to say, if I read it in an iPad or a bigger tablet. Plus the formatting was sometimes wonky, so I wasn't sure if I was reading a new story or if it's a part of the previous story until I'm sort of halfway through.
But I think Hyperbole and a Half is best read in print format, because of the illustrations. I liked it a lot (alot, heehee :P), and it was still pretty funny despite the technological limitations I faced. If you're a fan of her blog, go and get this, at least to have a print copy of the stories you loved. But if you're sort of new to her, you can dip your toes in her stories by browsing through her blog.
Oh, and like everyone else who reviewed this book said, I have to say it too: I missed the Alot. :(
When I was a kid, I loved watching those early morning educational shows on TV. I thought it was such a genius thing but I felt really bad because the...moreWhen I was a kid, I loved watching those early morning educational shows on TV. I thought it was such a genius thing but I felt really bad because they weren't available in my school. I mean, why can't we watch it at nine in the morning? They're educational! So come summer vacation, I end up watching them religiously every morning, over breakfast, before I get asked to do chores. I loved the historical shows the most, more than the science ones, because I loved how they were told and it helped me remember history a little easier than just simply reading it.
Reading Guardians of Tradition: The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayanreminded me of those days when I watched those shows. This book by Mae Astrid Tobias, illustrated by Rommel E. Joson and with photos by Renato S. Rastrollo, is a children's book about the different indigenous and folk artists of the Philippines. These are people who were awarded by the government the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan to let the country know about their art. These people are the best weavers, folk musicians, performing artists, mat weavers and metal smiths in the Philippines. The book talks about them, who they are, what they do, and it even includes some fun activities to help the readers appreciate what these people do. The book is narrated by two characters Kiko and Banog, and it is filled with colorful photos and illustrations for not just young but also the old readers.
In a nutshell, I really enjoyed this book. It's not often I read a children's book, and this one is a really pretty one. I loved the binding, and the glossy pages. I also love the illustrations and how the two main characters (or tour guides) seem so fun. They make it easier for the books to be read, and it didn't seem like a simple history/arts/culture book. I honestly haven't heard of anyone in the book, and it was fun reading about them and what they do. I figure I've probably seen some of these pieces, but I never knew the history behind it, and more importantly, the people behind them. There's also a glossary of terms at the back for review, and a map of the Philippines that points out the locations of the people featured in the book.
I could easily this book as an app, or a TV show, especially since the two characters seem to be drawn for that. I would love to have another volume for this book, because I'm pretty sure there are more than 11 of these people in the country! They truly are guardians of our tradition, and it made me proud to be born and raised in a country with such colorful culture. :)
On my way home from Singapore, I intended to make the plane ride home a chance to make progress in our book club's book of the month, Lolita. But some...moreOn my way home from Singapore, I intended to make the plane ride home a chance to make progress in our book club's book of the month, Lolita. But somewhere after I was able to open my Kindle back again, I realized that I couldn't focus on the book anymore because my mind kept wandering off. I needed something quick and light, something to keep me company for the next three hours that won't put me to sleep. So I decided to switch to the latest release from our #romanceclass, Kesh Tanglao's The Real Score.
Caitlin Tan had a very unusual friendship with Marcus Wayans -- unusual mostly because Marcus is a part of the biggest boy band Gezellig, while Caitlin is an ordinary girl working in a media company in Manila, Philippines. Caitlin wasn't even a fan of their band, until that night she met them through a meet-and-greet that she attended as a favor to a friend. She found a kindred soul in Marcus, and they became best friends, making an effort to keep their friendship alive despite the limelight that accompanied Marcus. But are they really just friends? Because no one in the world thinks so, despite their denial of anything romantic. When something comes along and threatens their friendship, followed by a no-holds-barred interview for a good cause, will the world know what is the real score between them?
I read a few parts of this novella while it was still on Wattpad before Kesh published it. Frankly, it reminded me a little bit of the band fan fiction that I used to read -- you know, how this ordinary girl meets the band she's been a fan of for ages, and then one (or two, or three) fall in love with her, and all that jazz. I wasn't sure if it was my cup of tea, really, because the type of musician/band fiction I read are the likes of Five Flavors of Dumb or Amplified. But I kept reading on, and I was pleasantly surprised.
This is an unusual friendship story, but it's not so unusual that it couldn't be real. I mean, anyone can be friends with a famous person, although perhaps not the way Caitlin met Marcus. Even so, I liked how real they were, especially the band. As I read the book, they became less of band members, and more just ordinary British boys who like to sing. I also liked how the friendship between Caitlin and Marcus progressed, and I saw immediately from when they decided to be friends that they mean it, and they will work for it. And because the friendship didn't seem forced, the romantic developments that followed seemed just as natural, like that is the most obvious thing that should happen after.
As with every music-related novel, I wished I could hear the original songs mentioned in the book, but I settled for listening to the ones on the title of the chapters. I really liked reading about the backstage things -- how the crew of a tour becomes your family, and how it can go crazy there, and how it seemed so fun. I had this little crazy dream of becoming a band's roadie, or at least, produce more concerts on my own, and it was fun to read a slice of that kind of life here.
So I take it back: The Real Score is actually far from the band fan fiction I used to read. I finished the book with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, just as the plane started to descend to Manila. For a moment there, it almost felt like I was Caitlin, making a decision with how her life would go when she got off the plane. The Real Scoreis a story of friendship and romance, and all the mess that comes when the line between those two blur. Take away the superstar status of the guy and this can be anyone's story, really. This novel hurt in just the right places, and it made me want the best for the two main characters. But more than the romance, The Real Scoreis also a story about taking risks, going out of your routine and allowing life's curve balls to surprise you, both in good and bad ways. You never know what you will find when you decide to take the risk. :)
If it were any other time, any other season, I probably wouldn't have picked this up from the Kindle store. I wouldn't have looked at this twice, beca...moreIf it were any other time, any other season, I probably wouldn't have picked this up from the Kindle store. I wouldn't have looked at this twice, because I don't think it's for me, or I would be interested. When was the last time I read a non-fiction, self-help book like this? I can't remember. But I know for sure that if it were any other time early this year, or if it were any other season in my life, I wouldn't have decided to get Bittersweetby Shauna Niequist and read it immediately after it loaded on Hannah the Kindle.
Oh, I guess it helped that the ebook was on sale when I saw it, so I bought it. But still, I wouldn't have gotten it and enjoyed it as much as I did if it were any other time of my life.
Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist is about so many things, but mostly, about how life is bittersweet. How life isn't always happy or sweet but we shouldn't let the bitterness of it get to us. There is such a thing as bittersweet, and it's the kind of life that we should appreciate, especially because all the learning and the changes and (most importantly) grace is seen in the bittersweet parts of life. This is a collection of essays and realizations about her life, and what she learned from them -- from her fights with her husband to moving to a new place, from meeting new friends, having parties and serving them food and these friends moving away. From her problems getting pregnant again to broken hearts, family members dying and babies being born. The book is an honest collection of stories that the reader will definitely relate to at some point, and drives the point that life is really bittersweet.
Like I said, if I read this at any other time, I don't think it would have made as much of a big impact as it did now. Bittersweetkept me company during the hard days, and spoke to me over and over and over again about grace and God's faithfulness. I couldn't relate to some of the stories Niequist wrote because I don't have a family, and I haven't moved away yet, but the lessons she talked about were universal, and somehow I felt like she really knew what heartache is, and she can relate to me. Her words served like a balm to my soul, and some passages made me cry several times because it felt like they were exactly what I needed to read.
In a way, it seemed like a promise, too -- that whatever you're going through, whatever your situation is, God knows it, and He will take you through it. It's not easy, but you have a choice to view your situation as bittersweet. And from her words, it seemed like she's healed and moved on from the hard parts of her life and if she can do it, then you definitely can, too. I needed that, and as I read the book more, I realize that maybe it was meant for me to see this book on Amazon, and to see it on sale so I can buy it.
Granted, some of the stories were a little repetitive, like stories at the end had some similarities to the stories at the start, but by the time I got to that, I was far too in love with what I've read for me to really nitpick about it. Despite that repetitiveness, though, the stories in Bittersweetwere honest and heartfelt and real, and it made me feel that I had a friend in Shauna Niequist, even if this is the first book of hers I've read.
I wonder now how I would've reacted to this if I read this on any other time, at any other season. I know I'm being repetitive on this review with that, but I can't help but wonder. Would I even read this at all? If I did, though, I don't think I would've loved it as much as I did now. But whatever -- I'm just really, really glad that this book got to me at the right time. If you're in a tough time, if you're experiencing bitter moments, I definitely recommend this book. Bittersweetmay not make your life better in a snap, but I hope it helps you heal, just like a good book ought to do. :)
My prayer for you is not that you live a life that's only sweet and never bitter, but that even in the bitterest of moments, you will find the comfort of Christ, deep and enduring, powerful beyond all imagination.
Repetitive at some point, but I loved every story in it. So honest and heartfelt and real. :) (less)
There are some books that I told myself I would never read. I would never put them in an actual list, really, but I know that these are the books that...moreThere are some books that I told myself I would never read. I would never put them in an actual list, really, but I know that these are the books that I would ignore in a bookstore, books that I wouldn't even think of buying. Reasons behind this may vary, but you know how we readers have preferences depending on the books we enjoy, or the time we have or the things we value, and all that.
I said that about Les Miserableslate last year. I'd never read it because it's just too thick, and I simply have no time. Then I read it and finished it in 45 days.
I said the same thing for Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. I didn't think I would read it, because frankly, I found the topic icky. I mean, a grown man supposedly "in love" with a child? I squirm at the thought -- just as how I squirmed and looked away when I watched those crime shows (based on a true story or not) that involved someone who sexually abuses a child. It's just not something I would even want to read, quite honestly.
And then, Lolita won in our book club's polls for our September discussion. I guess in a way it was my fault for suggesting banned books as a topic for September, and this one made it to the final list. Lolita was far more popular than the two other books in the list, so it was kind of a shoo-in to win. I remember thinking (and saying this to one of the discussion moderators): Perhaps it's time for me to read this. Year of the Brave, you say?
I won't talk about the plot anymore because this is a pretty popular novel, with its controversial themes and gorgeous prose, as they say. I knew I was a apprehensive when I started reading hits. No, not because I can relate to any of it (thank God I don't), but because I was wary of how it would go with me. Lolita is readable overall, because its prose isn't hard to read, nor it is boring. It's very well-written, actually, and it's commendable especially since Nabokov's first language is Russian. Humbert Humbert comes off as an unreliable narrator from the start, and Lolita is his account of what happened with her and to some events that led him to make that statement. I got confused about that, honestly -- why "statement"? I figure he did something wrong there, but what? Did he kill someone? Who? Did he kill Lolita? (No, this isn't a spoiler)
Let me go back to the prose. It was gorgeous, and surprisingly, it isn't explicit. I mean, sometimes I have to go back to some passages to understand what Nabokov was writing about and then I'll realize what happened there. Huh. And then I read on, and I go all, "Huh" again. I mean that in a good way, really.
Here's the thing: I sort of predicted from the start that I would probably not rate Lolita higher than three stars, given that this isn't really the kind of book I would read. I think even my friends expected that. But when I got to the end while I waited in line at the bank to pay some bills...I don't know, I knew I couldn't rate it that. I can't explain it in full, but there was something in that ending that just made me change my mind. Is it the writing? Probably. Is it how Nabokov somehow made Humbert Humbert seemed deserving of sympathy? Maybe. I don't know, really. It's been a little over a month since I finished this book, but I still can't answer that. All I know is I found myself thinking at the ending. It doesn't make everything that he did or whatever happened in the story less icky because it is icky, period. But somehow, there was something in the ending that made me change my mind about rating this novel.
Lolitais controversial, I have to agree. But I also agree that this is just one of those books that a reader has to read in their lifetime. I'm glad my book club made me read this.