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 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. :(
I've only read one Leila Sales book, Past Perfect, and I had fun with it because it was so, well, fun. I remember really liking the setting and the ch...moreI've only read one Leila Sales book, Past Perfect, and I had fun with it because it was so, well, fun. I remember really liking the setting and the characters and how it felt like such a good summer read, so I dove into This Song Will Save Your Life with the same expectations: that this will be a light, fun read, a perfect companion for my recent trip.
But...I was wrong.
I was wrong about the light and fun part, actually. I honestly thought This Song Will Save Your Life is about a girl who builds a playlist and all that, and the "saving your life" part was just metaphorical, a symbolism of sorts. Well, it as kind of like that, but I didn't expect it to be so serious. In a good way, that is. Elise Dembowski is unpopular, but not because she did something. Or maybe she was unpopular because she tries so hard, too hard. But all Elise wanted was to be seen, to have friends, and when her last attempt failed, she gives up (and this was the part that shocked me and told me that this might be different from the previous Leila Sales book I read). Then Elise discovers an underground warehouse party where she meets people who knew nothing about her and calls her their friend. Ellie finds herself spending more time with them, until she gets into the DJ booth and realizes that there was something else to love about her new secret: DJing.
So this book is about Elise and her quest to fit in, a secret club, and DJing. The last two were a bit unexpected, but it was only unexpected because I didn't read the summary when I got the book; I just requested it because it was Leila Sales (and the cover was pretty). Like I said, I was surprised at how heavy this book felt at the start, at how big Elise's problems were to her. I didn't expect that at all, but that development was gripping enough for me to want to find out what happens next.
The book was a bit slow at the start, and again, because I didn't read the book's summary, I wasn't really sure what would happen. I wasn't sure about the secret party warehouse angle at first, until the other characters grew on me and I wanted to know what would happen to them. The romantic angle made me cringe a little, and you know how when you read something like that that it was doomed from the start, and you're not sure how to feel if it didn't end up doomed? I had that feeling in my stomach while I was reading it. The writing was clear and vivid that I could almost feel how it was to be in that party, to dance and sing with other people as Elise changes the music, to be one with the crowd and all that jazz. And this is coming from someone who doesn't really party.
The other side of Elise's life really hurt to read, too, and it made the contrast between her day life and her night life really stand out. It made me realize yet again how high school kids can be mean even if they didn't intend to -- how a simple act of ignorance of another person can really break someone, even if you didn't intend to do that. There was that particularly mean action made for the sake of "postmodern art" that really got to my nerves, but I liked how it was handled in this book, and how in the end, Elise found a reason to like herself more than wishing that other people like her too. And isn't that the point? That we be convinced of our worth, to know that it has never been tied to someone else?
I was really liked This Song Will Save Your Life, and I think not knowing what it was about when I first read it contributed to how much I liked it overall. I didn't end the book wanting to be a DJ, nor wanting to find secret warehouse parties, but I did end it feeling a little bit more compassionate for other people and for myself, too. And I think that's good enough.
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.
The first time I went to the island of Boracay in the Philippines ended in some sort of disaster, and I haven't really "recorded over" that memory yet...moreThe first time I went to the island of Boracay in the Philippines ended in some sort of disaster, and I haven't really "recorded over" that memory yet. To the uninformed, my month-old phone took a dip in the saltwater on our last day at the beach, so the last few hours on the island was kind of stressful. Not to mention that moment where I thought I was going to drown at Ariel's Point while I was snorkeling, and that it was rainy half the time. It was a good vacation in some ways (Hello, Boracay PubCrawl!), but you know, not exactly the most relaxing one.
I haven't had the chance to go there again, but I got a taste of the island when I read Chris Mariano's Cover (Story) Girl.Chris is a fellow book blogger and a classmate in #romanceclass, so it was no question that I will buy her book the moment it was released. Cover (Story) Girlis about Gio, who works in a museum in the island of Boracay, keeping it neat and organized and ready for visitors. In the middle of preparing for an exhibit, Jang Min Hee walks into his life, and starts messing with it -- literally and figuratively. Thing is, Gio wasn't sure what's keeping her in the island and why she's sticking with him. She tells him all these stories and he goes along with her, sometimes even saving her from some trouble. Gio is mystified...but how will he know which among Min Hee's stories are the truth?
Okay here's the thing: I was just a teensy bit hesitant about this because of the Korean angle. I'm not a fan of K-pop, or K-drama or anything Korean, really, except maybe for the food. And maybe Daniel Henney. Every time some friends squee over Korean stuff, I just look blank, like how I look blank over anime. I was kind of worried that I wouldn't get or like the story, because of the Korean things...but I'm glad to say that it didn't. I liked Min Hee a lot. I liked what I learned about her from Gio's eyes, and how she seemed so flighty at first and then had more depth later on. She provided a fun contrast against Gio, who likes his routines and his organized life. Okay, maybe he can be a little boring, but it worked well for the story, and I liked how he lost this as he spent more time with Min Hee. Gio reminds me a little of Macy from Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever,all organized and perfect until people came and threw her out of the loop. Gio is the kind of good guy I like reading in fiction, and it was fun being in his mind in this story. I liked reading his POV, and I think Chris did really well with it.
The story can feel a little slow and quiet, but I think that adds to the charm. You won't really get too many exciting things at the start, except for Gio and Min Hee's banter. The quiet flow of the story fits into its setting, which was my favorite part. I really liked that this was set in Boracay. I've only been there once, but reading this made me miss it. I liked how Chris focused on the quiet part of it and not much on the partying that happens there. I was never really a party girl, so I appreciate how there was more of the lesser known side of Boracay (and Aklan) in the story than the usual. And of course, the calamansi muffins. Oh my Lord, this book will have you craving for Real Coffee's calamansi muffins, if you've had them before. If you haven't, then you might want to bake some on your own, instead. (I really should do that.) Because calamansi muffins are yummy.
I really liked Cover (Story) Girl,if it's not too obvious yet. By default this can be considered as a summer romance read because of the beach elements...but if it's rainy and cold where you are now (which is also how it is on my side of the world now), Cover (Story) Girlis also a really good rainy day companion. Come to think of it, it's a perfect companion anytime you want some swoon. :D And again, don't forget your calamansi muffins!
I don't read a lot of high fantasy novels because I'm more of a contemporary romance kind of person. And because of that, it takes me a while to reall...moreI don't read a lot of high fantasy novels because I'm more of a contemporary romance kind of person. And because of that, it takes me a while to really get into a world, especially one that required maps and had different names of people with powers and such. I noticed that a lot of high fantasy novels often had a lot of characters, too -- with odd names to boot -- so sometimes I feel like I need to get into a different kind of mindset before I take on a high fantasy novel.
Hah, I feel like I sounded like such a wuss there, especially since two of my closest friends in the book club are fans of high fantasy novels. So when they moderated the high fantasy discussion for our book club in 2013, I can't not be too whiny about it. Especially since the book was about 800+ long. But I've finished Les Misérables this year, and while it's not a high fantasy novel, it had a lot of characters. This shouldn't be that hard, right? *cracks knuckles*
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay is a standalone high fantasy novel set in a place called Peninsula of the Palm. Two people rule eight of the nine provinces in the Palm -- Brandin of Ygrath and Alberico of Barbadior. Sometime in the past, Brandin's younger son is slain in Tigana, and in his grief and anger, he flattened Tigana and cursed everyone to forget that it ever existed, except for those who came from Tigana itself. Some years later, some survivors banded together in hopes of destroying Brandin to get Tigana back, and also to overthrow the other tyrant in the Palm. What follows is a long story of magic, psychological warfare, political intrigue, hidden identities and a story layered with so many complexities that it's hard to pick just what side you want to win at the end.
First off: Tigana was an easy to read book. Far from, say, Tolkien's LotR, Tigana had such an accessible language that it wasn't so hard to get reading. It helped that our moderators provided a guide to their naming conventions and who owns what province because it helped adjusting to the novel a lot easier and listing the characters in the head easier, too. And speaking of characters, I really liked Devin from the start -- he seemed like a very interesting character, and I knew, even if I have essentially no idea what was going to happen in the novel (I didn't read the back cover blurb before I started reading) that he was in for an interesting ride. I liked how he changed from a simple musician to something else, and how he had learned to accept the discovery of his roots and defend it. The other band of people surrounding Devin were so fun to read, too -- they played off each other's characters perfectly, and I liked how they all formed a tight-knit group that were there for each other throughout the story.
But I'm making it sound like it's all light and fluffy. Truth is, it wasn't. Tigana is a book filled with so many twists and turns for the characters to get to a certain goal. The interesting part of this is we don't see just one particular point of view, but several. In Tigana, we also sort of get into the mind of Brandin and Alberico, and the things that surround them. We see their motivations, and how they changed from being this person to another, to the point that it was really kind of hard to choose which side to pick at the end. This gives another layer of depth to the novel, and somehow make it a little more realistic as far as how it parallels real life. Nothing is ever black and white, and even people we have pegged to be a certain kind of person. In a way, I wished there was some sort of happy ending for everyone...but then, you can't always get what you want.
In the end, Tigana brings about a pretty satisfying ending...and then GGK suddenly brings another thing into the mix, and then it's over. This is the first time in the longest time that I wished there was a sequel to a novel, and a high fantasy one at that, that I would totally read. I mean, that ending! How can I not want to know what happens next?
Overall, Tigana was a really great read. I think there were just some parts that seemed unnecessarily long, but like what I said in Les Mis, those parts make up for the novel's background and gives it a richer texture, and I think that's what makes chunkster novels different from the usual 300-400-page books. While I still think that I'm a contemporary girl at heart, I wouldn't mind reading more high fantasy + chunkster novels if they're as good as Tigana.
There was a time in my life when I pored over fashion blogs, especially those blogs where the authors showcased the ou...moreOriginal post from One More Page
There was a time in my life when I pored over fashion blogs, especially those blogs where the authors showcased the outfits they made with half the items from thrift store shopping (aka ukay-ukay). I can count the number of times I went thrift store shopping with one hand, so I am a little envious with those people who seem to score so much good stuff in these stores while I can't seem to find any. I think this is some sort of talent, or you know, you just haveto devote more time in it so you can actually find something. Anyway, it's been a long time since I last scoured thrift shops, and reading Agay's Vintage Love kind of made me want to go do it again.
We meet Crissy Lopez in Vintage Love- a 26-year-old producer from a local network, whose life needs a serious make-over. Her usual wardrobe consists of jeans and sneakers, and her schedule gives her little free time for herself. To top it off, she's still hung up over her ex. When her stylish grandmother passes away, leaving her with all funky vintage items, Crissy decides to do something with her life. But what will she do if her past decides to catch up on her just as she is making progress? Can she make that leap to leave it all behind?
Vintage Love is as cute as its paper-doll cover. I liked Crissy from the start -- she seemed like a very smart heroine who is caught up with her career, and it's something that I think everyone her age can relate to. I liked how she was passionate for her art, but not really her job, and how she went for what she really wanted to do as the story went on. Plus, there was more to Crissy than just the romance -- the story had her really trying to improve herself, and the romance seemed to just come along as a bonus. The secondary characters in the book were also quite interesting, with the sort-of subplot for her best friend, Bea. This subplot wasn't intrusive and it fit the story well, and it makes me want to have a little spin-off for her too. Mama Maring is another secondary character I really liked, and her presence in the novel was really felt even if she wasn't really there.
The romance angle is cute and swoony and I really liked the text messages part, where lead interest, Vince, tried to cheer her up. Hee, I liked it because that thing was one of those "moves" back in college, when text quotes were still the "in" thing. Using that style in the story just fits in the whole vintage thing. The romance was pretty grounded and realistic, and it gave the characters enough space for their attraction and their relationship to develop, and even heal from whatever issues they both had. We can learn a lot with what Crissy went through, and the story's lesson on choice. My favorite quote in the book sums it up very well:
At any given moment, at any given struggle, you always had a choice. Even happiness was a choice.
Vintage Love is not just a romance story, but also a story of strength and recovery, finding yourself and going for what you love. You don't have to be a fan of vintage stuff to appreciate this novel. I think we all have a little bit of Crissy in us, and I hope that after reading this book, our inner Crissy's will find the strength to take a leap of faith, too. :)(less)
I'm a fan ofJane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, although perhaps not as much of a big fan as other friends (I'm still very partial to Persuasion, be...moreI'm a fan ofJane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, although perhaps not as much of a big fan as other friends (I'm still very partial to Persuasion, because hello, Captain Wentworth and that letter!), but I like reading books and watching adaptations of Pride & Prejudice because it's my first Austen and you don't forget your first. :) When I heard of Katrina Ramos Atienza's retelling of P&P set in the Los Banos, I knew I had to read it. Even if I'm not a huge fan of football.
Patrice Reyes is an incoming junior and she believes that it will be her best semester ever. She's sure her team will win the regional football championships, her grades look good, she has good friends at the dorm, and oh look, there's a crush. But when cold and arrogant math guy Paul becomes her partner in one of her major subjects, her days are thrown off course. How will she get rid of him to get her perfect semester back? Does she even really want to get rid of him?
I had a lot of fun with Well Played,mostly because it was so much fun matching the characters to the original. Almost everyone had a match, save for a few, which would have complicated the plot a little. I appreciate that the plot wasn't that complicated, though, because it made the story easier to read, with just enough drama to make me hang on. I liked Patrice and her wit, her loyalty to her friends and her fierceness and her passion for her sport. I wasn't always fond of her, to be honest, but she made for a great Filipino Lizzie Bennett. :) I also really liked Gia (the equivalent of Jane) and and Deenie, although I can't decide if Deenie is less or more annoying than Lydia. I really liked Migs (Bingley) too, and he seems like such a nice guy. Paul is such a true Darcy, with the angst and the grumpiness, and all the hidden layers that makes him a Darcy.
My favorite part of the book is the setting, most definitely. I loved how the setting just worked for the story. The setting was based on University of the Philippines in Los Banos, Laguna. I didn't study there, and the last time I was there was in 2003, but even if I can barely remember anything there, the setting in this book felt so real. I liked the dorm setting and how the setting seemed to be a character in itself. I liked it so much that it was so easy to imagine everything there, and I don't even have to suspend any kind of disbelief.
I think the only thing that niggled at me was how sometimes the characters didn't sound like they're Filipinos at all. They seemed just a tad too foreign when I read their dialogue, like they're all foreign exchange students. But other than that, I liked Well Playeda lot, and I think it's a pretty faithful and entertaining Filipino adaptation of P&P. Oh, and even if I still don't really understand (or even watch) football, I must mention that I liked how the sport played a role in the story, too. And that really cute ending after that football game? Oh, I definitely approve. :)