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Archive for the ‘literature and Fiction’ Category


Woke up this  morning to the persistent sound of my son’s cellphone  which he left inside my room last night. Gosh, it was 4am. I tried to sleep a few hours more  but it was a useless exercise. I guess, it is a perfect time to visit this blog, the internet connection is quite fast.  The rest of the world (from our end) must still be asleep.

Wow, a hot cup of coffee with hot pan de sal to boot. A few minutes ago, I braved the five-minute walk to our neighborhood bakery to buy  pan de sal.  It is a bread roll that is a staple in most Filipino families’ breakfast. You can pair it with scrambled eggs, coco jam or what we call matamis na bao,  slivers of cheese or even sautéed   sardines. Take your pick, it goes well with everything. I’ve long wanted to learn to bake pan de sal  but it is more practical  to buy it.

I went back to reading e-books , discovering new titles, excited to acquaint myself with new authors.  Last night, I started  reading Letters From Skye by Jessica Brockmole. It’s my first encounter with the author. Fancy a different approach to writing a book – conveying a story through letters, no dialogue, a perfect spin of two stories fused together. Since I am still in the middle of reading it, I will reserve my five stars later. I love receiving letters, in any form but there is nothing that beats a real one with stamps attached on the envelope with that pasted smile on your face anticipating what’s written inside. It is even exciting when there is no written address and you guess who suddenly thought of you to send a letter by mail. When I was in college, my friend and I used to write letters to each other every single day although we were together at work as student librarians in our university. It was quite fun to write at the back of date due slips while absorbing the silence that a library setting brings. She is now based abroad and we get in touch through private messages on Facebook. Years ago, my sister-in-law gifted me with a complete set of Griffin and Sabine, a trilogy written by Nick Bantock. It is one of the precious collections I have in my small library.  In every page, you’ll see a facsimile of a postcard or a letter actually enclosed in an envelope, hand-written letters that excite. Imagine reading a book in  real letter format.  Reading the trilogy made me more in love with letter-writing.

The rain last night and the gentle drizzle  this morning made my plants happy. They are dancing in the rain and I love to dance too.

P.S. WordPress says this is my 1,400th blog entry.

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You might think I am obsessed with books. I must admit, that’s a big yes, books  are almost always what I give Nissa on every special occasion that warrants special gifts and she appreciates them  until now.  And since we no longer have those children’s books  that we  have collected back when they were kids, I am starting to buy  and search for  books that I would love Nate to have.  Nissa bought several Brainy Baby DVDs complete with instrumental music CDs that she used to play when Nate was still in her womb. There is nothing like a good, sturdy book though that he can appreciate and hold. And this is the best time I guess to introduce him to his learning alphabet.  I am just amazed that books for kids have gone sky-high and I could no longer find those with thick leaves that won’t easily crumple and tear.  Anyway, I have found a set of Enid Blyton books  while arranging our small library yesterday and they were still in plastic, unopened and unread. I remember Nissa bought them a few years ago but maybe forgot all about them.
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Nate might still be too young to appreciate these but Nissa reads to him a lot and who knows in a few years, he’ll be reading by himself. I never  had the opportunity to read books by Blyton because when we were kids, reading was not a priority except those textbook stories written in the vernacular. I started serious reading when I was in high school  and my love affair with books has not waned through the years.  I spent the past few days catching up on reading, both e-books and those I bought on my several trips to Booksale.

And yes, reading brings you magic and adventures.

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Would you believe, I am beginning to love Jojo Moyes, a new favorite author I just discovered. The past week, I read three of her books. She writes simply but every character is unforgettable. There is that feeling where you want to know more about them long after you reached the last page. I wish I could write something substantial here, like a book review but right now, I am hooked on reading Schindler’s List. I’ve seen the movie  a long, long time ago, a  Steven Spielberg film that made me shed buckets of tears. This is the first time though that I will be reading the book.  And there is Schindler’s List 20th Anniversary Limited Edition Blu-ray combo pack made available last March 05, 2013.  And I wish I could watch it again, meantime  though, I’ll just enjoy the book.

schindler

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So how are you guys?  It’s been a while. I got addicted to reading e-books, that’s why. Not only that, for the past few days, I tried to finish two books by Jenny Colgan, two wonderful, funny and engrossing chick lit read.  She’s a new author on my list  so it’s quite a novelty to read something with lots of cupcake recipes and pointers on baking…yes….cupcakes.  I never tried baking cupcakes though since the few sessions that I had with Sylvia Reynoso Gala’s Culinary Studio , I took money-making courses like Chinese cuisine, making bars and cookies, cupcakes not included. Once you learned the basic of baking, you could always experiment on other recipes as long as you have the right ingredients. I’ve done that for the past few months and it’s quite a thrill to discover new things in the kitchen.

If you have time and if you love chick lit books, I highly recommend these two, Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe and book1book2 Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe. Both books have excellent reviews at Goodreads.

Of course,  reading an e-book could not compare to holding  and smelling a nice, newly printed book in your hands but then sometimes, it is easier to get hold of a copy and read  it conveniently through your phone. It does not need so much space on your bulging bookshelves and you can delete it once you’re done to give way to other e-book titles.  Reading is such an engrossing hobby and once you start all over again, you simply forget the time. When you are transported to a new world, there is a different kind of magic.

Maybe one of these days,  I’ll try cupcakes too.

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Okay, I am reviving my month-ender and  “happy new month” blog. I used to do it in some of my posts but sometimes, in the midst of daily living, you forget things that were part of your routine.

May has quietly faded into June  and  as always it left something to cherish and to treasure. It was terribly hot but the afternoon showers that we got during the last week  somehow diffused the humid feel of the month. Yesterday, I visited my daughter at her office at BPI to get a package  sent by a friend from the US. I took an FX taxi from our place to Ayala Avenue and along the way I was like a child getting re-acquainted with an old place and taking note of changes that were not there thirteen years ago. Thirteen years, seems so long  ago -  yes, it’s been thirteen years since I left Bank of the Philippine Islands  when I availed of an early retirement to take care of my two kids.  Seeing new faces  but looking for old ones who were my former office mates, I now can’t imagine myself as part of the young crowd waiting for elevator rides  and beating the 8:30am rush  to log  in to work. I was with BPI for more than twenty-one years, right after I graduated from college. Waking up early, car pooling,  early morning masses at Greenbelt chapel, lunch breaks and quick walks to Glorietta, afternoon rush to share a ride with friends on the way home, the routine of a working mom, they came rushing back when I saw the facade of BPI. Ayala Avenue has changed of course with more high-rise buildings sprouting from every nook and cranny, it’s after all the Makati Central Business District. What I noticed though was there were lots of people lining up the sidewalk of Ayala Avenue smoking. I am glad I brought a face mask. During my time, smokers just stay at the back of our building at the open parking space. Why can’t they totally prohibit smoking in public?

Sometime last October, I wrote a blog on the newest book of Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings dreaming of having a copy of it when it’s published. It has become one of my top-rated posts  although it was more of me than the book. Yesterday, I finally got hold of it and perused each word, smiling like crazy holding it in my hands, enjoying the feel of  silk because the dust jacket  is so smooth to the touch.

from odette

This is my second book of Mary Oliver and I love how she portrays nature in so many different ways. It feels like you are beside a brook or just looking at an unknown bloom by the wayside or discovering the glint of the moon on a dark night.  Odette, who has become a close friend sent me all these, three books, two latest publications from my favorite author Richard Paul Evans and a copy of A Thousand Mornings together with a hard drive which she says I could use for all the shots that I want to save. Speaking of blessings, they pour in a thousand ways too.

Let me share one of her poems with you. Reading her words always keep me inspired, silently smiling to myself and telling the old me, I am lucky, aren’t I?  The  journey is long but I am blessed.

The Gardener
 
Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough, have I
      come to any conclusion?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?
 
I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.
       Actually, I probably think too much.
 
Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,
       is tending his children, the roses.

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All my life, I have lived like an aquarium fish in the safety of a glass tank, behind a barrier as impenetrable as it has been transparent.  I have been free to observe the glimmering world on the other side, to picture myself in it, if I like. But I have always been hemmed in, by the hard unyielding confines of the existence that Baba has constructed for me, at first knowingly, when I was young, and now guilelessly, now that he is fading day-to-day. I think I have grown  accustomed  to the glass and am terrified that when it breaks, when I am alone, I will spill out in to the wide open unknown and flop around, helpless, lost, gasping for breath.

khaledSiblings, parenthood, friendship – words  and topics that make up a good and brilliant story. I won’t attempt to make a review here that would probably spoil your fun in reading the book. This was recently released last May 21 so maybe some of you haven’t got hold of a copy yet.  I read his first two books, The Kite Runner which was released in 2003 and was  adapted into film later and A Thousand Splendid Suns  which was made available to the public in 2007. If you love Amir in The Kite Runner and cried with Mariam and Laila in A Thousand Splendid Suns, you would surely appreciate  Pari and Abdullah  in this new tale  “revolving around brothers and sisters, and the ways in which they love, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for each other.”

I wrote a review of his second book  A Thousand Splendid Suns back in 2007 and posted it here  two years later when I was organizing my blogs at Multiply. I was quite excited when I read about his third book  not knowing what to expect since my views of him as a writer  were colored by his first two novels but here is a good review I found after finishing the last page without spoiling your fun of discovering what makes it a five-star in my list of lovely reads.  There is that feeling  when you reach the last few pages and you don’t want it to end  – you feel the intensity, the emotions playing in your mind and you want to know more about the characters who have endeared themselves to you in the first few pages.

My best read so far this 2013.

 

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I am going back to reading although it has become a bit slow for me. There was a time when I used to read three books a week, getting  older though made me quite a little slack doing some of my favorite hobbies, reading being one. Come to think of it, among all my books (probably  a thousand of them) there are only two signed copies that I treasure for the simple reason that they are the only signed copies that I have :)collageTwo years ago, my daughter gave  me a copy of Nicholas Sparks’ The Best of Me   as a birthday gift  on the condition that I attend his book signing at The Podium at Ortigas Center. There was an attached invite from National Bookstore but it was not an assurance that I’ll be able to have my book signed. Nicholas Sparks is more of Nissa’s favorite author so I’ve read almost all of his books. The book signing was right after my birthday so you can just imagine how nervous I was because I have never attended one before.  Read my adventures here on how the day went. It was an unforgettable event in my life. I was really tongue-tied when I met him face to face. All I can utter was “hello Nicholas”.

Richard Paul Evans is  one of my favorite authors. Hmm, let me amend that, he is my favorite author. I’ve blogged  about him so many times here. Last year, I received a signed, first edition copy of his book  The Last Promise , a gift from an online friend that I met at Multiply.  Look at how he signs his books. This may sound  crazy but I guess, the value of a book increases when it is personally signed by the author. Do you agree?

I am looking forward to my three  new books  which will be sent by another friend from the US, my copy of A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver and two more latest books by Richard Paul Evans.  Right now, I am in the thick of reading Anne of Avonlea (second in a series of the classic books by L.M. Montgomery).

And I wish that like the late D.J. Salinger, I could do this too, ““What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”  It hasn’t happened yet because I don’t have  a terrific friend  who is a book author :(

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Happy Mother’s Day to all our wonderful mothers out there. Every year since I started blogging at WordPress, I write about my own experiences as a mother, my tribute to motherhood. I would love to share this lovely poem by William Ross Wallace.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy’s the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother’s first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow–
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky–
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

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Amazing! There is always something new every time I read Mary Oliver’s poems and you get to imagine the scene while appreciating every word. You get  to open your eyes to the way she sees the world – and you smile because somehow she has accurately described what you feel. I can’t wait to read her new book, A Thousand Mornings which a friend  bought for me.

Value time, value each moment,  love nature! Expressed in simple words but touches the core of your being. So much to learn, so much to appreciate just reading her poems.

Song of the Builders
On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God -
 
a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside
 
this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope

it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways

building the universe.

Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?

Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.
 
But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?
 
Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.
 
When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking
 
to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,
 
as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?
 

 

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Short of saying I haven’t read in quite a while, I am happy that since the start of January, I was able to catch up on my reading. It’s now a feat for me to read five books in a span of  almost two months because for a while there, reading has taken a backseat although I have accumulated  and bought more books that would last me the whole year, I think.

I am a fan of Richard Paul Evans. Since I found him more than a decade ago, I enjoyed sourcing bookstores to look for more of his books. Luckily though, even some of my friends joined in the search and sent me hardbound copies of his books from abroad. And as if that is not enough, Richard is an online friend at FB so I am always updated on what is new and what I’ve missed. Last night, I finished reading one of his earlier published books, The Looking Glass. It’s a re-read actually but like the first time that I encountered it, it never fails to give me that smile. One becomes reflective when you read about life and all its angst. One becomes a mirror that reflects how life is, at the moment, in a heartbeat, for a lifetime. No, this is not a book summary, I’ll just want to recall all the beautiful quotes I marked with pencil while reading it. You might have noticed that I regularly post quotes here from his timeline (with his permission, of course).  And I love those diary entries every start of each chapter of all his books.

-The dreams still haunt me, leaving me in the dawn wet with tears. It is true, there are moments in one’s life more memorable than entire years. But these moments are those usually wished forgotten.

-I do not wonder at the cruelty of this world, as it seems the nature of it. I find myself more perplexed as why there is good at all.

-I have learned a great truth of life. We do not succeed in spite of our challenges and difficulties, but rather, precisely because of them.

-Oftentimes  it takes the darkness of another grief to shed light on our own.

-The truth of ourselves is too often blurred  by the capricious image  of our self-perception. I believe it is among greatest  quests of life, not just to see life as it really is, but to see his part in it.

-Until you see yourself  worthy of love, you will forever be chained.

-Not all pain was equal. That there could in fact, be delicious sorrow.

-The greatest shackles we bear in this life are those forged by our own fears.

-The measure of a person’s heart, the barometer of good or evil, was nothing more than the extent to choose life over death. That the path of God was simply the path of life, abundant and eternal.

-Though one does not forget the wounds of the past, scars can bring gratitude if we will consider the healer.

-Nowhere does man err more greatly than when he looks to see the reality of what he is.

I have just started on another Anita Shreve book, A Change of Altitude.  I hope it will be just as good as her other books.

 

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