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. ;)
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'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. :)
I spotted this book on another blog, really, and didn't really think of it until my friend posted about it on his blog. I was curious, only because of...more I spotted this book on another blog, really, and didn't really think of it until my friend posted about it on his blog. I was curious, only because of the first post I saw, and when I had a chance to borrow it from my friend, I jumped on the chance. I like short story collections, and ever since I read my first Carver, I felt like it was the kind of book I can manage back then. I wasn't in the mood for a lot of books, so maybe something like this would shock me out of the slump. Or at least, the bright yellow cover would, somehow.
No One Belongs Here More Than You is a collection of stories from Miranda July, who...I really have no idea who she is. I don't even know what the stories were about, so I really, really just took a chance on this book. This book contains stories of women, mostly, stories of ordinary things. People who do things, who are in search for things, who lost things. These are stories of the seemingly ordinary things that become extraordinary with the way the words were woven and how these simple things came about in each story.
I liked this well enough. I liked the ordinariness of it all -- the quiet and the commonplace things in the stories, and how they all translate into something that made me think and wonder if the story was real, or perhaps just the imagination of the character. I guess a little mistake I made when I first started to read this was to compare it to Carver. They're very different -- Carver's stories (from the one collection I read, anyway) left my heart in a bit of disquiet, like there are questions you want to ask but are kind of afraid of asking. July's stories, while some of them have the same effect as Carver, are different in the way she tackled things and left me thinking about how her stories just end, and there are no questions that I don't want to ask.
Here's the thing: everyone seemed to be so sad in this story. Not the heartbreaking sadness, but just a tinge of it, like these characters need a little hug or something. Sometimes, I feel like I need a hug after I read some of the stories, because I wished I could say something to the characters to ease them of things.
Did the title of the collection mean something? I guess so. It is what it is, I think: No one belongs here more than you. I may be over thinking it, but maybe these stories are really just about belonging, and how we long for that. I don't think all the characters in the stories found a place to belong, but as a reader, I hoped that they would still somehow find it, or that it would somehow found them, in their own fictional worlds.
Okay, I'm rambling. There were several stories that I wasn't fond of, but the interesting thing was the first and the last few were the ones I really liked. I started this on a high, then the excitement lulled, and just as when I was already resisting the urge to skim, I got to the last stories and found that I really, really liked them. My favorite, of all, is Birthmark,a story about a woman who had her port-wine stain removed from her face and her husband who didn't know anything about it, and how this birthmark affected them. It left me with very fond thoughts with the book after.
Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You is a good read, especially for people who are fond of short story collections. It's not exactly my favorite, but I would read another July book again, given the chance. Plus that yellow cover and simple text is just something I would want to have printed and framed to remind myself that yes, no one belongs here more than you.
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. :)
I've been in a reading rut in the past month because I was too busy doing something else, and that "something else" is...moreOriginal post from One More Page
I've been in a reading rut in the past month because I was too busy doing something else, and that "something else" is writing my novella. I took my own sweet time reading our book club's book of the month because I couldn't focus on it, and I didn't have any desire to read anything else that isn't contemporary romance because it was all my mind can handle that time. When one of our classmates in #romanceclass released her book into the wild last week, I automatically bought it and loaded it into my Kindle. For one, it's contemporary romance, which is just what I need; it's Filipino; and finally, it's a classmate's work, so I should support! (Plus, look at that gorgeous cover!) I finished reading this in a day, and when I was done, I found myself thinking, "What reading rut?"
In Chrissie Peria's All's Fair in Blog and War, we meet Five Cuevas, a virtual assistant by night and travel blogger the rest of the time, reading an email from the Macau Tourism Board inviting her for an all-expense paid trip to Macau. It was something I would joyfully jump into, and Five does the same thing. It was exciting, until she meets Jesse Ruiz, the photoblogger who gets in her way and on her nerves. She's determined not to let him ruin her trip, but it's proving just a bit hard when she was partnered with him for the rest of the trip.
Okay, this is fun. So much fun. I love books with blogging, regardless of whatever kind of blogging that is. I love Five's voice, and her passion for traveling and writing about it. I love the entire set-up and how she and Jesse met, and how their relationship grew in the story. It was a short trip, but it was believable, and reading the story made me want to go to Macau, or at least, find myself some egg tarts! There were so many lines in the book that made me smile, and it's no surprise that I breezed through it because I just wanted to keep on reading to know what happens to them in the end.
Granted, the story could be longer, and there could have been more tension, but for a quick and light read, All's Fair in Blog and Warreally works. It's the kind you'd want to read on a trip, or the kind you'd recommend to a friend who's going on a trip (I did that), or the kind you'd recommend to a friend who's looking for a light read (I also did this). I was happy with the ending, and how they got to the ending, especially for a social media/blogging junkie like me. :P If you're a blogger, a traveler or a reader (or, maybe even all) who is looking for a light and sweet contemporary romance fix, then All's Fair in Blog and War is a book for you. :)(less)
I wasn't completely sold on the author's first book, so I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read this one. Curiosity won out, though, especially with this interesting cover. In a nutshell, What's In Your Heartis about 19-year old Nat who is reeling from a break-up and had no clear direction in her life. Then three things happen: she starts an internship in a pre-school, finds a bunch of letters from the grand-aunt she was named after to her grandmother, and starts a friendship with good-boy Luis who kept on saving her, it seemed like maybe, Nat isn't that lost after all.
Honest moment: Nat drove me nuts at the first part of the book. She's so weepy and whiny and mopey that I didn't feel like I wanted to read more about her. I couldn't find anything too redeeming about her until she finally picked herself up, and I found myself slowly cheering for her. I liked the pre-school aspect, and Luis, and that tiny twist with him before things fell into place for her. The letters thing was a creative touch, except in the end, it felt a little too teleserye-like for me.
I really liked the last chapter, too. I think this is a more satisfying and well-rounded story than One Crazy Summer, and this is probably something I would like reading back in college when I was Nat's age, too. :)(less)
All I ever wanted -- at least, at that particular time -- was a nice, fluffy novel to sink my teeth into. The last time I read a Kristan Higgins novel...moreAll I ever wanted -- at least, at that particular time -- was a nice, fluffy novel to sink my teeth into. The last time I read a Kristan Higgins novel was some sort of research for #romanceclass. I had fun, and but it was still partly research and I didn't really breeze through it when I read it. This time, I just really wanted something fluffy, something that wouldn't really make me think too much but I would still enjoy. So I scanned my library, picked All I Ever Wanted and settled in.
Then I met Callie Grey, and nothing is ever the same again.
Okay, perhaps that's a little exaggeration. But Callie is one of the brightest heroines I've read in all the Higgins novels I've read so far. Callie just turned thirty, and she was coming to terms that maybe her boss Mark wasn't going to fall for her, especially after he announced that he was dating the newest addition to their small advertising company. Callie tries to move on, and she meets the formal-but-really-kind-of-stiff veterinarian, Ian McFarland. It wasn't love at first sight, because Ian was a little too formal for Callie's fun-loving personality, but she gives him a chance with a personality makeover to help his business. Callie wasn't really interested in him...but he was cute. And single. Why not?
Callie, Callie. I loved her from the start, from her emotional diarrhea to her family to her cheerful outlook in life. I loved her dog Bowie, and her rocking chair, her grandfather and how she has the little town of Georgebury wrapped around her finger with her sunny personality. I'm pretty sure I would have been friends with Callie if I were there, mostly because she's pretty much everyone's friend there. But she had me right from the very start, and I knew how exhausting it must be to try to be so happy all the time even if there were people around her that broke her heart. I loved her, maybe because I saw a bit of myself in her, especially with how she talked to herself about moving on from Mark. Her thoughts felt real, and well, sometimes too real that it hurt a little.
I can't remember having so much fun with a Higgins novel. I can't find anything not to like in All I Ever Wanted -- it was such a fun read with just the right amount of swoon and tension. I liked how Ian and Callie were such opposites but still so seemingly perfect for each other. It's like Ian gets Callie, even if half the time he seemed to get annoyed at her for being so bubbly and everything. I remember grinning like an idiot at one of their first few "moments" together. I was giggling happily at that turkey scene that led to so many things for the two of them. They balanced each other off quite well -- they're all cute and awkward and sweet, but not too much to make it too cheesy. It was fun reading how the two of them stumbled around each other, like putting together a puzzle where some pieces didn't seem to fit at first, until you find their perfect place.
I really liked All I Ever Wanted, if it's not obvious yet. :) I think the trick with reading Higgins novels is that you don't read one after the other so you get enough time to savor the swoon and enjoy the feels. All I wanted was a nice, fluffy and romantic read, and All I Ever Wanted pretty much nailed it. I'm really glad I picked this one up. :)
This book had me at "asthma". Being an asthmatic myself, I like reading about characters who deal with the same thing....moreOriginal post from One More Page
This book had me at "asthma". Being an asthmatic myself, I like reading about characters who deal with the same thing. Amelia O'Donohue Is So Not a Virginsounds like a fun book from the title alone. Rachel Ross (sidenote: Friends reference, anyone? :D) is uptight...but that's okay, because her parents finally allowed her to go to the boarding school she wanted, so she can go to Oxford. She works hard to be the best in class, until she discovers a secret that could totally change the life of someone in school...if only she can figure out who it is.
Did I say fun? Oh yes, it was, and I found myself smiling at several parts of the book. I realized, though, that Rachel is really uptight, and sometimes it gets tiring to be in her place. Loosen up a little, girl! I found myself getting annoyed at her for not even trying to reach out...until the mystery is uncovered. When the secret was revealed, I had a teeny tiny suspicion about who owned that secret, but I wasn't sure. I mean, there were no clues! Until I got to the end, and I had to flip through some of the previous parts to look for proof. Talk about mind games, Helen Fitzgerald. Well played.
Amelia O'Donohue is So Not a Virginis a fun and smart book that talks about friends and family and a lot of mystery that can only happen in a boarding school. It's a quick escape, and I enjoyed reading it. Oh, and this is not about Amelia O'Donohue. ;)(less)
The first time I read about this book was from Peter's blog, and it had me with the words diner, pie, and hope. I've seen Joan Bauer's books in bookst...moreThe first time I read about this book was from Peter's blog, and it had me with the words diner, pie, and hope. I've seen Joan Bauer's books in bookstores but I always ignored it until I read Peter's review of it, and I put it on my radar. When my book club friend Louize brought a copy during our last discussion, I asked if I could borrow it, and immediately started reading it the next day. I had a feeling it was going to be a feel-good book, and I wasn't wrong.
Hope Yancey's real name is Tulip, but ever since her mom left her in the care of her aunt, she changed her name to Hope, something that she thought fitted her better. She moved around a lot with her Aunt Addie, who is an excellent cook and a diner manager. When the owner of the last diner they worked in in New York City stole money from them and left them with nothing, Addie and Hope move to Wisconsin to help manage Welcome Stairways, a little diner owned by G.T. Stoop who was sick with leukemia. G.T. got them onboard because he had other plans for their little town - he wanted to run for mayor to beat the corrupt Eli Millstone who's had the town in his hands for year. Hope and her aunt gets involved in this campaign, but they didn't know what people desperate to keep power would do to keep people out...but Hope chose her name for a reason, and even if she isn't feeling particularly hopeful herself, she is finding that there were a lot of reasons to keep the hope in the midst of the hardest time in her life.
I breezed through Hope Was Here, not because it was a super-easy read but because it was really interesting. I realized that I really like reading about small town, diner settings (case in point: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler, Speechless by Hannah Harrington, and Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins). I really liked the small family that always forms inside diners, and how it makes working there seem really fun, despite it being hectic come peak hours. Of course I loved the food descriptions (homemade corned beef hash and fried eggs with a big piece of maple corn bread slathered with salted butter...mmm), and how food played a big part in their lives without it becoming too much of a foodie book.
I liked how the book didn't seem complicated even with several plots -- G.T.'s campaign, Hope's issues with her mom, her search for her dad. I liked how they all played with each other well, all supporting the main theme of having hope and keeping it, even if things don't feel particularly hopeful. Yes, there's also romance, and one of them I predicted from when the lead interest appeared, but both of them worked quite well. A part of me felt that the love interests seemed too old for their partners, but I learned to adjust how I imagined them later on. I think I just had a bit of stereotype in my head when I started reading it.
This book reminded me of those books that my mom bought for me when I was in elementary and high school -- full of life lessons and utter positivity. I can still remember most of them, and I think the reason why those books stayed with me even after years is because the plot felt real, and the characters were wonderfully flawed and yet they still prevailed in the best way. I bet if my mom had read the blurb of Hope Was Here back when she was still buying books for me, she would have gotten this, too.
I think Hope Was Here accomplished its goal with me: when I finished reading it, it left me with hope. Hope in the good things, hope in the midst of difficulties, and gratitude in knowing that there is always something to be hopeful for. :) I really liked this, and if you're looking for a feel-good book (for the right reasons, and not just fluff!), then Hope Was Here would not disappoint. If Joan Bauer's other books were as good as this one, then I would love to go through her entire backlist. :)
There was a time soon after I graduated college that I was so obsessed with High School Musical. I was unemployed, and I was a kid at heart who can't...moreThere was a time soon after I graduated college that I was so obsessed with High School Musical. I was unemployed, and I was a kid at heart who can't stop watching Disney Channel all day while I did nothing, so when I saw the trailer for High School Musical, I was curious. Then I watched it, and watched it and I couldn't stop. I loved the entire thing. I even bought the book, and then watched the movie(s) and played the songs until I got sick of it all. But I have fond memories of those movies, and sometimes I kinda wish that I can break into song any time and people will just join me in singing...even if I can't sing. Haha.
But anyway. Will Grayson, Will Graysonby John Green and David Levithan features two Will Graysons who meet one night in the strangest place in Chicago.. There's the "don't speak, don't participate" Will Grayson, best friend to Tiny Cooper, a large and gay guy who heads their school's Gay-Straight Alliance. All Will is concerned with is not getting noticed, but being friends with Tiny Cooper makes that difficult. And then there's Tiny's friend Jane, who seems nice, but Will wasn't sure if she's straight or not. And then there's Will # 2, or will grayson (without the caps), who lives a hard and isolated life, with just an online friend named Isaac making his life easier. The two Wills meet one night, and then their lives change...and it all goes down in a high school musical made by Tiny Cooper.
It seemed like the best time to read a John Green book where he wrote with someone else is always around the holiday season. Or maybe I'm just saying that now because last year, I read Let It Snow around Christmas time too, and I enjoyed it, so when I was looking for a happy book to read during the holidays this year, I decided to read this book. I was already tickled by the first chapter -- classic Green, introducing his main characters: a lead who isn't really interested in standing out, a girl who seems partially unattainable, and a loud sidekick (except this time we have a louder and bigger sidekick). It was cute, and then I go into the other will's world and I was plunged into a dark, depressing world. I almost stopped -- what was this? Why is this will so sad? And why is it taking so long for the two Wills to meet?
I honestly thought I wouldn't like it, especially since I felt that will's chapters were too depressing. Granted, will was depressed, but I wanted to finish his chapters so I can go back to the other Will, who was partially pleasant. That, and it was kind of fun reading Tiny Cooper, even if it seems like the book should have been about him because...well, it was all about him. Suddenly he didn't seem like a sidekick. But anyway, I found Will's chapters funnier, and I liked the cute little "dancing" thing he had with Jane. It was something you'd expect from John Green, really, and it was really nice to read.
I really thought I wouldn't like the book, but then I got to the end and I actually found myself tearing up at some parts. I think the best part of this book isn't the romance, or even the Will Graysons meeting, but Will's friendship with Tiny. It reminded me a little of my own friendships with people and how true it was with how we all just happened to be friends and we didn't really seek each other out at first. Although I don't completely buy the fact about you can't pick who your friends are, I like the sentiment that Will expressed when he told Tiny that if he could pick his friends, he would still pick Tiny. That was really heartwarming.
The ending did feel a little contrived, but I thought it was sweet and funny, especially at the exchanging numbers part. Hihi. But it was a nice way to end it, especially since I've long suspended my disbelief with how the musical came together and all that. Just like in High School Musical - you don't really think what they did could happen in real life, right? But still, it was fun to watch, and it was a nice and sweet ending. Same with Will Grayson, Will Grayson: the ending was nice and heartwarming, and I actually found tears in my eyes by the time I ended the book.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson isn't exactly the best holiday read (or...I don't think it really counts as one, really), but I enjoyed reading it. Oh, and I remember people telling me that Tiny Cooper is the best John Green sidekick...but I think I'm still a Radar - Paper Towns kind of girl. :D(less)
I can't exactly say I'm a huge, huge fan of David Levithan's books, although I admit that I like reading his stuff. I...moreOriginal post from One More Page
I can't exactly say I'm a huge, huge fan of David Levithan's books, although I admit that I like reading his stuff. I mean, I enjoyed The Lover's Dictionary immensely and I am rather charmed by Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, but it doesn't make me feel like I would go out and read everything he ever wrote. For Mr. Levithan, I still rely a bit on reviews before I actually get one of his new books again.
And that is why I got myself a copy of Every Day. Truth be told, the summary isn't enough to get to me -- I tend to avoid paranormal things unless I'm watching the series or I strike a particular mood, and Every Day's synopsis kind of reminds me of those insta-love things that I don't really like. Granted, it seems more sci-fi than paranormal, but it wasn't until I read Wendy's review of the book that kind of sealed the deal for me.
So A is a...being. Something. He wakes up in a different body everyday, and he has no attachments, no nothing. He cannot afford to have them because nothing is permanent in his world anyway. Until one morning, when he wakes up in the body of Justin and meets his girlfriend, Rhiannon. Suddenly, there's something that makes him want to stay -- and it's Rhiannon.
We don't get explanations why A jumps from one body to another, so we pretty much have to accept what he can do at the start. It was a bit hard for me to swallow, especially when my mind gets confused when A is in a female body but in my mind he is still a male. Then I recount his/her interactions with Rhiannon, and it gets even more confusing. There's a lot to question, and if you're sci-fi buff, you'd wish for an explanation, and that was never really provided in the book.
However, there is something about the way Levithan writes. Just like Dash in Dash and Lily and that unnamed narrator in The Lover's Dictionary, Levithan's words captured me and made me dog-ear so many pages in the book. Case in point:
What is it about the moment you fall in love? How can such a small measure of time contain such enormity?...The moment you fall in love feels like it has centuries behind it, generations - all of them rearranging themselves so that this precise, remarkable intersection could happen. In your heart, in your bones, no matter how silly you know it is you feel that everything has been leading to this, all the secret arrows were pointing here, the universe and time itself crafted this long ago, and you are just now realizing it, you are just now arriving at the place you were always meant to be. (p. 23)
This is what love does: It makes you want to rewrite the world. It makes you want to choose the characters, build the scenery, guide the plot. The person you love sits across from you, and you want to do everything in your power to make it possible, endlessly possible. And when it's just the two of you, alone in a room, you can pretend that this is how it is, this is how it will be. (p. 175)
Every Day had the right amount of angst and hope and sentimentality to make me sigh at the early parts of February. Some book club friends and I had a readalong for it, and we had a very interesting discussion about love, about A and if there's anything selfish about falling in love. I honestly felt sad for A because he cannot afford to have memories, and so he clings so hard to Rhiannon because she seems to be the only good thing that he can hold on to.
It's sad, and somehow you knew it was a doomed thing from the start. I wondered how Levithan would end it, and I was really pleased with what he did with the ending. It seemed the most right thing to do. It wasn't the easiest decision, but perhaps it was the best for the both of them. It doesn't make it less sad, though.
But...that's love. More than being a decision, love is choosing what's best for the other person, even if it is at the cost of your own happiness. I read this article sometime last year that hits this right on the head (emphasis mine): How do you truly know whether you are committed to this person and that you truly love him or her? Here’s how you know: Your love is directly proportional to your willingness to act unselfishly, to even let the person think less of you, if in doing so you are serving their spiritual advancement.
Every Day isn't the kind of book that will give you all the warm fuzzies, but I think it's a pretty good one even so. And while I still can't say I'm a huge David Levithan fan after this, I will still be on the look out for his books, if only to read passages such as the ones above and one like this:
When first love ends, most people eventually know there will be more to come. They are not through with love. Love is not through with them. It will never be the same as the first, but it will be better in different ways.
So I got Adorkable based on impulse, and I got it because I was curious with Sarra Manning books. I haven't found copie...moreOriginal post at One More Page
So I got Adorkable based on impulse, and I got it because I was curious with Sarra Manning books. I haven't found copies of her adult contemporary romances just yet, so I settled for her YA book and one that seemed to be something I would like. Jeane Smith is a blogger and she basically runs her own life with her own brand of quirky style. This makes her quite unpopular, especially with her strong opinions on things, which puts her on the other end of the spectrum from popular boy Michael Lee, who she can't really stand. When Jeane's ex-boyfriend and Michael's ex-girlfriend get together, it was the only thing that they share in common. But is that enough for them to...well, start snogging? Apparently, it is.
So Adorkable. I liked how clear Jeane and Michael's voices were that even if there were no clear chapter headings or style changes every time a chapter changes, I know who's speaking. I liked the idea that Jeane makes a living as a blogger and how she speaks to so many people about her own brand and how she has become the voice of the teens. There were so many fun things in this novel that I can't help but smile and wonder why those things didn't happen back when I was Jeane's age. I could've been one of those blogging superstars too, you know? :P There were also many laugh out loud moments, in the book and "awww" moments, especially during that Christmas scene with the Lee family and...well, basically anything that involved Michael because he is kind of adorable.
But...my like for this book kind of ends there. I really wanted to like this book, but somehow most of it just kind of got on my nerves. I think it came to a point when I realized that I was one of those kids that Jeane would be annoyed at if I were in high school with her. I don't follow trends blindly nor go and be mean on purpose to some classmates that I don't like, but I feel like I'm not dorky enough to pass by Jeane's standards. And somehow that made me feel like I'm in the wrong despite the fact that the book was promoting being comfortable with yourself. Maybe Jeane is just not the person I would be friends with if I was back in high school. I'd like to believe that I won't be judging, but knowing my high school self, I probably will. There were times when I enjoyed and admired Jeane, but I think there were more times when I was just exasperated with her, and I wondered what would be her undoing. Sometimes I think she was trying hard to be too radical and dorky, and I just got so annoyed a how she pushed everyone away.
But maybe that's the point of that, and the point of the story with how she changed. Still, I felt that when that turning point finally came, it was too late for me to start liking Jeane again. I get all the empowerment with being yourself and daring to be different, but here's the thing: do you really have to be in everyone's faces and think who doesn't dress or think like you so you can be adorkable? Nah. Adorkableis cute, but I think it's not my kind of book.(less)
I got my first taste of boyband love when I was in Grade 5, when I first saw the Backstreet Boys perform Get Down on a n...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I got my first taste of boyband love when I was in Grade 5, when I first saw the Backstreet Boys perform Get Down on a noontime show when they stopped by the country. I had no idea who they were, but I thought the song was catchy, so I asked for a cassette tape (!!!) of their first album. I fell in love with them (specifically, Nick Carter!) ever since then. I had several friends who were also fans, but I think I was the biggest fan among them. By high school, some of them have moved on from the boyband phase to other pop stars, while I stayed happy in my teenybopper bubblegum pop world a little while longer.
In Reunited, we meet Alice, Summer and Tiernan, best friends who share the love for the rock band Level3. That is, until high school, anyway -- when Level3 disbanded and their friendship dissolved for reasons that they didn't really want to remember. Alice is the good girl, the one who held them together and would want to remain friends with them if things didn't fall apart. There's Summer, the budding poet who eventually became Miss Popular. Then there's Tiernan, who's the school's resident rebel, and this rebellion reaches even in her home life. When Level3 announced that they will have a reunion concert, Alice buys tickets without thinking and convinces Summer and Tiernan to go on a road trip with her to watch this one-time reunion concert. So here we have three (ex) friends, a band, and a road trip -- oh, I am definitely sold.
The story switches from the point of view of each of the girls, which gives us a pretty equal glimpse of how they feel about each other. There's this big mystery of sorts about why they fell apart from the first place -- things were alluded to, but I couldn't really guess what happened that made them swear off each other like that. The voices of the three girls were pretty distinct, and I liked being in Summer's head the most because it felt like she had the most to lose and the first to let the trip go. That almost came true, and in the end, I was happy how she pulled through for the two other girls, and I felt sympathetic with what really happened between the three of them.
As with every road trip, there's craziness: from an ex-convict to having no gas to falling in love/in crush, to dance contests and parties. There was this one part that felt a little too hard to believe, and I felt like it was used to make that one thing happened, and I wasn't really completely sold. It set a lot of things in motion, that made the ending a little bit more hilarious than I expected.
I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. It was cute, but it felt like it was a little bit on the wish-fulfillment side. It's the stuff my high school fan girl dreams were made of, actually, which is probably why I feel like I can't really believe it. But maybe that's just me. It's not like some of my fangirl dreams never came true, anyway.
Oh and as much as I like reading books that has bands and music on it (Audrey, Wait! and Five Flavors of Dumb, for example), it feels a bit hard to really get into the music when I don't know how the songs sound like. The lyrics were a nice touch, but I wish books like these come up with a soundtrack of sorts. Although it might be a little bit difficult for this one because Level3 has a pretty big discography in the story. ^^
Reunitedis okay -- quick and fun and interesting. While I didn't really feel like it's totally awesome and groundbreaking, I enjoyed reading it. It's the type of book I would recommend to anyone who has ever been a big fan of any kind of band at some point of their teenage life. Better if you share it with friends who love the same band, too. :) (less)
Avery has her eyes set on her life plan: she plans to attend a summer program in Costa Rica, graduate the top of her cla...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Avery has her eyes set on her life plan: she plans to attend a summer program in Costa Rica, graduate the top of her class during senior year and then head for medical school. She wasn't going to let anything get in her way...except her dreams hang on a very critical issue: she needed more money to get into the program in Costa Rica. Then her biggest rival for the valedictorian position and ex-best friend Hannah gives her an offer: she will pay Avery five hundred dollars if she can make Zac Greeley break up with Hannah. Avery accepts the offer, only to be surprised that Zac is nothing like she expected.
I read The Boyfriend Thief by Shana Norris expecting that there would be two girls trying to steal a guy, or at least a girl falling for a guy who has a girlfriend and the girl trying to steal him. You know, the kind you watch on TV shows that make you curse whoever you don't like and wish for the guy to end up with the girl you most identified with? Well, it wasn't at all like that, and I know I should have read the summary more so I wouldn't bethat surprised.
But it's not a bad surprise anyway. The Boyfriend Thiefis a fun, independently published contemporary YA novel about a girl who likes being in control. Avery is a girl who needs to have everything in control, but not really without good reason. When Avery's mom left them, she took control of their household, thinking that if she has everything under her control, then no one would leave anymore. I used to be/still am a control freak so I know how that feels, but I also know how hard it is when things do not go the way I want to. In a way I sympathized with Avery with this, and I was really worried at what could happen with the fallout.
Here's the thing, though -- as much as I can relate to Avery, I don't think I really like her. I don't think I would be good friends with her because she can beso uptight! I'd like to believe that I'm not like that anymore (dear friends, I'm not, right? :D) and I figure that if I met Avery, I wouldn't really want to be friends with her. :-s That doesn't mean that she's a bad character though -- I think this reaction is kind of a testament that she was well-written that I get this reaction. On the upside, her growth in the book felt real, and I found myself cheering for her when she finally loosens up.
The other characters that needs to be noted are Zac and Hannah. Zac seemed like such a darling. I liked him and his craziness, even if his spontaneity would probably drive me nuts, too. I liked his intensity and his chemistry with Avery. I wished there was more to Hannah, though, like a bit more dimension in her character? She was mean and calculating, but I wished there was some kind of redemption for her in the end, instead of being a "scorned woman" character.
Overall, I liked The Boyfriend Thiefenough. It was a fun read (although not so quick, because I think I was reading Fellowship of the Ring while I was also reading this), and it's also quite well written. I learned several things in this -- not about stealing boyfriends, but how sometimes, we just have to let go of control and let life happen because sometimes it just works better that way. :) (less)
Sometime early this year, my book club started selecting books that we will discuss f...moreOriginal post at One More Page First read and reviewed: April 2011
Sometime early this year, my book club started selecting books that we will discuss for our monthly discussion. When the YA theme came up, I was excited to see that my one of my favorite books last year, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, was included in the short list. Of course that got me campaigning for the book, because when you love a certain book, you just want a lot of people to read it and hope to be enthralled by it like you were.
The book won by one vote, and I was happy because it gave me the perfect excuse to reread the book. This time around, though, I wanted to try another format, so I got myself an audiobook version of the book and settled in for the ride. :) My mind was ready, but I wasn't really sure if my heart was. Still, I wanted to know if I would love the book as much as I did the first time around, especially since I know what was going to happen.
How did I describe this book last year? ...reading this book was like breaking my heart and then putting it back together again. I know that sounds terribly dramatic, but that was exactly what I felt back when I first read this and I was anticipating the same thing when I listened to it.
Listening to the book was a different experience, mostly because it gave me a bit of room to "read" while doing something else. The audiobook became my companion for my night shift work, and I was transported to that little stretch of Jellicoe Road every time I turn my player on. I found that I was paying attention to the things more, and that I caught little quotes that I wasn't sure if I caught before (my print copy has lots of dog-ears -- I didn't exactly take note what I was dog-earing then). I found the parts I love were still well-loved, and found new things to love in the book as well.
One might think that rereading this book known for its confusing start will lessen the thrill of the reading experience because you know what's going to happen already. I was ready to be a bit less enchanted with the twists, to be less heartbroken when the things happen as I was expecting them...but I wasn't. Okay, perhaps it's because I came into the book expecting to love it again, so it was harder for me to find fault. There's one chapter that still killed me, over and over again, and there were those chapters that made me smile and stop and want to listen to them again, because I forgot about them already. Despite knowing what the story was about, the reading experience was still as enjoyable as the first.
Admittedly, there was a time when I was asked, "What's the point of all of this again?" But then as I finished listening to the book, I realized that maybe it doesn't really have to have a point. It's a story of real life -- of Taylor and Jonah and Raffy and Santangelo, of Narnie and Jude and Webb and Tate and Fitz -- and it doesn't really have to make a single and simple point. Like what C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, real things aren't made to be simple. So maybe, a story about real life and all its complications isn't supposed to be simple, either.
I can't relate to Taylor's family woes, but once again, I'm amazed at how the friendships were forged in this book. This is the kind of friendship that makes you want to keep on fighting, to keep on going back, to keep on trying. If you ever have the chance to run into this kind of friendship, do everything in your power to keep it -- these are the kind of friendships that can save your life.
So did I like it as much as I did the first time? There is no other answer to that question but yes. Maybe I will grow out of this in a few years, maybe not. But for now, I still stand by every word I wrote last year, and I am very happy to know of a place "...where they would all belong, or long to be. A place on the Jellicoe Road." :)(less)
Back in college, I was friends with two girls in my org, and we were often called as the Powerpuff Girls because we were...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Back in college, I was friends with two girls in my org, and we were often called as the Powerpuff Girls because we were always together. Our little group was also known to be the "ate's" or the older sisters of the other younger members of the org, which was kind of why we had a kind of impression on others that we always laughed about when we were talking amongst ourselves. Privately, we call ourselves manang's (another term for older sisters in some Filipino dialects, but colloquial use refers to being old fashioned older women) because we all have our own levels of being...well, manang. We had levels of being manang based on how people often approach us: one was the ultimate manang because of her strictness (and also because she's an officer of our org), I come in second because I'm not as strict but not everyone finds it easy to approach me and finally, the last member of our group is the least manang because she's was just naturally friendlier and the younger members find it easier to confide in her.
Fast forward a few years later, and it's no surprise that the least manang among all of us is married. The remaining two -- well, we're still pretty manang. :P
I can't help but remember this particular college memory while I was reading Mina V. Esguerra's latest book, That Kind of Guy. Julie has always been a good girl, and has always done what was expected of her. How she ended up with bad boy Anton was a mystery, even more when he popped the question to her. The only obvious thing to do when he asked her to marry him was to say no -- after all, she wasn't even sure if she knew Anton well enough after 11 months of "dating". Julie figures there are enough safe guys out there that fit her personality better, but does she really want that?
Okay, of all of Mina's heroines, I find Julie both the easiest and hardest to relate to. I can relate to her manang ways, obviously -- about how she does the right things, how she tries to be honest and tactful, about how she tends to play safe. I also couldn't relate to her because unlike Julie, I'm not exactly friendless because of my (attempts at) honesty. I don't know if that makes me less of a manang then? Anyway, I think Julie can be either likable or unlikable depending on the reader's POV, but like Mina's other heroines, her voice still sounds so authentic that it feels like I'm just hearing a story of a friend over a meal. The hero in the story is a familiar one for those who have read Mina's old books -- he was mentioned once in Fairy Tale Fail and was one of the secondary characters in No Strings Attached. I liked that he showed another side in this book, one that wasn't really expected based on how we were introduced to him in the previous ones. You don't need to read the two books to really get into this, though, but it's nice to be surprised at the depth of his character in That Kind of Guy. While Anton is still not going to top my favorite Mina guy (Lucas of FTF -- who has a teeny mention here, squee!), I was surprised at how much I ended up liking him in the end.
I think That Kind of Guy will be able to speak to a certain kind of girl who rarely has a starring role in chick lit books -- the good girl. This isn't about a good girl deciding to be bad, or a good girl getting into scrapes that she didn't deserve because hey, she's good. It's about that kind of girl who wasn't sure what kind of guy she really wanted, if she would take the risk or go for the safe choice. The fun thing about this is that Julie never really had to change much about her being a good girl, even if she tried to be not. Julie didn't have to change to someone too wild or too careless for her story to move forward. The growth of her character came not from a shocking revelation because of her sudden wild changes, but from the things she proved that she already knew but just needed to be brought out. In the end, That Kind of Guy was really about being certain of your choices and acting on it, even if the outcome is not really guaranteed. To quote (this one is really more specific about those choices):
Next time, just say something. It doesn't have to be the first date. Maybe the third or the fourth. Don't wait a year if you're sure. Certainty is sexy. And owning up to your attraction is sexy, too, and if you do it right and you're not creepy about it, I bet she will respect you for it anyway even if she does not like you back. (p. 157)
It's no surprise that I really liked That Kind of Guy. :) I think it just proved Mina's strength in drawing out characters that different readers can relate to. I really liked the epilogue too, and I'm curious if that new character will have her own story eventually. If she does, then I can't wait to find out what Mina has in store for her. But even if she won't have her own story, it doesn't change the fact that I am still going to read everything that Mina writes. :)(less)
Finally a new Sarah Dessen. It's been a while since I last read one because I've already gone through all of them, and...moreOriginal post from One More Page
Finally a new Sarah Dessen. It's been a while since I last read one because I've already gone through all of them, and I was really glad when I heard that her latest book, The Moon and Moreis out this year. Even if I didn't exactly love What Happened to Goodbye, I am always looking forward to Dessen's books because her books are automatic comfort reads.
It's summer in Colby and Emaline is spending her last summer before college working in their family business. She's used to everything in Colby -- her stepsisters, her mom, her (usually shirtless) boyfriend Luke -- and she's really just waiting for summer to be over before she heads over to the university. Then Emaline's father comes to town and stays there for the summer, reminding her of everything that did not happen between them in the past year. As if that's not enough, a filmmaker and her assistant, Theo, from New York comes and stays for the summer and Emaline somehow gets roped into their project. She thought she knew everything and she wasn't expecting her summer to suddenly change, but now everything is changing...is she ready for them all? Does she even want to change?
The Moon and More latest has all the usual elements of a Dessen novel -- summer, an ordinary girl on the verge of a big change, best friends, family and a cute guy. Or, make it two cute guys. This is the first time I've read a real love triangle in Dessen's books, one where I don't really know who to root for because they are both good and charming and full of faults all at the same time. I liked that it wasn't an annoying love triangle, and I felt Emaline's confusion and pain and happiness and her attempt at adjusting with the changes coming her way. But I think what I liked about this set up is how I ended up rooting for Emaline in the end, hoping that she'd make the right decision for herself and nobody else. I think that's one of the things that made this novel really good for me.
As always, I loved the secondary characters that surrounded Emaline here. I love her family and I saw how their home was always wacky (with people who won't get out of her room) but supportive, and her half-brother is one of the most adorable siblings I've ever read in Dessen's books. I also love Emaline's best friends, Daisy and Morris, and their quirky relationship is really begging for a spin-off. There were the usual easter eggs from Dessen's previous novels (specifically Along for the Ride and Keeping the Moon), although I needed to refresh my memory about them because it's been a while since I read those books.
I'm glad that that I really liked The Moon and More.After the previous Dessen book, I was kind of afraid that her magic is getting lost on me, but this book proved that it was just a fluke. It was a pleasure getting lost in Colby for hours, and I can almost feel the sand between my toes and hear the waves crashing on the shore as I read this. The Moon and More is a good summer book -- it's just too bad I didn't really read it during summertime in the Philippines. :) (less)
I'm one of those people who tries to scrapbook. I say try because as much as I try, I can't really make my scrapbook pag...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I'm one of those people who tries to scrapbook. I say try because as much as I try, I can't really make my scrapbook pages look...well, as pretty and cute as the ones that other people do. That, or maybe I just don't have that artsy vibe (and the patience) to do them. But anyway, that never really stopped me from having fun with my planners, though:
[Click to embiggen] Top row: 2006 planner - thesis defense+birthday week, Kalinga Luzon Bottom row, left: 2010, 25th birthday week Bottom row, right: 2012, February, word of the year
So it's not as pretty, but it serves well as my own memory bank. That's pretty much why I was delighted to receive The Scrapbook of Frankie Prattby Caroline Preston from one of my co-moderators in our book club on my 26th birthday (Thanks, Kuya Doni!). I had no idea what the book was about, but looking at the first few pages, I knew I was going to like this if only for the visual treat that it has. If I can't make pretty scrapbook pages, then I would live vicariously through others', even if it is from a fictional character.
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratttells of a story of Frances Pratt, who received a scrapbook and her father's old Corona typewriter as a high school graduation present. In here she documents her summer after high school where she decides to forgo a college scholarship to help her mom out, but she is smitten by an older man. Her mom finds a way to get her to college to keep her out of the influence of her unsuitable suitor, and Frankie finds her world opening up to more possibilities than she can imagine. We follow Frankie's adventures in college and in her meeting Vassar alumna Edna St. Vincent Millay, who inspires Frankie to go to New York to pursue her dreams. But when heartbreak finds her there, she sets sail to Paris to make it on her own. All Frankie wants is to find herself and the love of her life, but will she ever find it when she gets called home to be with her sick mother?
If I were to describe this book in a just one word, it's gorgeous. I loved every page of the book with all the typewritten (and some handwritten) words and the photos and the 1920's memorabilia. Some of them makes me wish they were real and I can pluck them off the page and keep them for myself! Look at some of these photos from the inside of the book (warning, slight photo dump):
Can you imagine how much effort the author went through for each and every page of this book? I'm no expert in vintage, but this book just screams it from the cover all the way to the last page, and it made me a bit more interested in the 1920's (even if I have a feeling I don't think I can carry a flapper dress, LOL).
The story feels just a little bit ordinary. I don't mean that in a bad way -- but if you've read the book's dust jacket, you pretty much know the story save for what happens in the end. It didn't have that much revelation, and it read like a coming-of-age story, but again, I didn't find ittoo shocking. But then...life doesn't have to be shocking to be extraordinary, yes?
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a relaxing book to read for all its gorgeousness, and maybe that really is the charm of the book. It may not end up as a favorite, but I will keep it on my shelf whenever I need to look at some pretty stuff, and maybe even get inspiration for the other pages of my planner when I get the mood to scrapbook again. :)(less)
I took some time thinking if I should get Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins after I finished reading Somebody to Love. I really liked Somebody to Love, and I was really curious to read one of the first stories that it spun off from -- or at least, where the setting came from. I tried to look for it in local bookstores (I didn't exert too much effort, really), but I was really looking at the one at the Kindle store, which was relatively cheaper than other ebooks. Resistance was futile, and I eventually got myself a copy and immediately started reading it.
Maggie is a catch. She owns the diner in quaint little Gideon's Cove, and is pretty much an all-around nice girl, always ready to help those in need. But if she was such a catch, then why was she still single? Maggie thinks that she's single because the guy of her dreams was actually a priest, but even so, that doesn't stop her from pining over him. With her love life (or lack thereof) already the talk of the town, where else can Maggie go? She's sure the town's stoic and quiet lobsterman Malone is not the answer to her woes...until he finds his way to her heart.
I liked Maggie right from the start -- her vibrant voice coupled with her single life woes talked to me from page 1. I felt like Maggie and I could actually be friends in real life, and I can definitely relate to all that she feels, except maybe if we're friends in that small of a town, we'd both have a hard time finding our own pairs (or at least, getting found). Maggie is very smart and likable, but she does have her silly, stupid moments which always comes whenever she was around Father Tim or Malone.
Just like Somebody to Love and Until There Was You, Catch of the Day was a comfortable and easy read. I did stop reading it for a while in favor of Jane Eyre, but I found that it was just as easy to go back into the book even after not picking up for a long time. The characters in Gideon's Cove were all the people you'd expect to read in a small town setting, and that also makes Gideon's Cove such a quaint place to be in. I can almost see what Joe's Diner looked like, and how the people knew each other because of the size of the town. Of course, this makes embarrassing moments all the more embarrassing because everyone basically knows everyone. But what's a fun romance novel without the embarrassing moments?
That being said however, as much as I liked this book, I found that I didn't really like it as much as the first two Higgins I read. I think it's because the I got used to reading the thoughts of the two main characters in the other novels while this one I was just in Maggie's head because of the first person point of view. I guess I liked knowing both sides of the story, except maybe I think it wouldn't work as well here -- knowing Malone's thoughts wouldn't exactly make him mysterious loner dude here. But this is just me nitpicking. :) I'm afraid I'm not really fond of mysterious loner dudes, though, so I wasn't really sold on Malone, but I do agree that this lobsterman has a heart of gold. And I think that's what really counts. :)
On another note, I love that Higgins always have pets -- particularly dogs! -- in her books. Maggie's best friend and golden retriever Colonel was both charming and heartbreaking, and I found myself sobbing so hard one morning while I was reading this book. I saw it coming, actually, but it didn't make it less painful. Sigh.
There was a point in the novel that I was really hoped that something I sort of expected to happen won't happen, because if it did, I would end up not liking this book at all. I was really, really glad that it didn't go that way, though! Catch of the Day is sweet and cute and basically everything that a comfort read should be. Kristan Higgins is slowly becoming one of my favorite light and fluffy comfort read authors, so Catch of the Day will definitely not be my last book from her. :)(less)