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Posts Tagged ‘book review’


Yay, I didn’t take an afternoon shuteye just to finish  Letters from Skye.  It took me more than two days (on and off reading) to finish the book. Since  it was my first book of Jessica Brockmole, I really didn’t know what to expect, there is  nothing to compare it with previous books she has written . What a nice surprise because I enjoyed it. Pen pals, making friends through letters, finding love in an exchange of words  and thoughts – you would think it is an old-fashioned way to communicate, right? Compared to the modern way of communicating nowadays, you would even say it is boring but it’s 1912 and  1940 fused together and the historical aspect makes it more poignant because letters are the only means one could get through.

I could not remember reading a book without a dialogue except letters. It is an epistolary novel. It must be hard to write something like it without losing the plot of the story and getting the message across to the reader.  LettersThoughts of Mary Oliver’s writings entered my mind while reading it and I was hoping the author would give examples of what Elspeth Dunn wrote about, she was a poet and poets are dear to my heart. Come to think of it, I was tempted to jot down some quotes as I usually do with other books that I read but I didn’t want to lose the momentum, excited enough  on what the answer would be to the last mailed letter. Imagine the thrill and joy of receiving one, the anticipation of  knowing that there is something to look forward to. The story is common enough but the way it was told made it a fascinating read.  I would not attempt to make a real book review here with the story summarized in chronological order. Find it for yourself if you are also fond of writing and receiving letters.  Yes, there  are quotes that comes to mind.

“You’re my breath, my light, the one my heart flies towards.”

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”

“… that a letter isn’t always just a letter. Words on page can drench the soul.”

It was worth the two cups of coffee I consumed just so I could finish the book. There is that feeling that reading a love story once in a while is  an afternoon delight.

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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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Moments.  Oh please, don’t ask me how this came about. I was just listening to the music of Henri Mancini, Two For The Road particularly when I suddenly remembered  those movie themes that I regularly listen to on YouTube.  There are times when you get a little sentimental over sad and beautiful music that you grew up with. And I  wish to share  my very first blog which I originally posted at my Multiply site.   My journal entries way back in college don’t count of course, they are more personal – the growing up years contained in a thick notebook  which I still keep until now.  Funny how, this story talks about teenage life, first love, and heartaches. It reminds me so much of those days and nights  that I’ve done the same soul-searching. Life is full of chances to grow a little better, life is full of experiences that teach us how to truly love.

The Summer of  42 (April 22, 2008)

I truly believe that something happens when you least expect it.  Yesterday, while I was waiting for my urologist at the satellite clinic of the Medical City at Ever-Ortigas, I decided to while away the time going to my favorite jaunts. First stop was NBS, they have this bargain bin in one corner of the store and it is always a delight to find something worth-reading.  Next was a visit at the friendly Booksale lady at the 2nd floor.  Third stop was at Books and Mags. I was just browsing with no particular book in mind. There is a growing stash of books most of which I made on impulse buy.  I decided that I will stick to my Wish List and wait for another sale perhaps at Bestsellers and NBS.

Tom Clancy (plenty stuff there), Dean Koontz, Binchy – I found this small volume, Summer of 42 by Herman Raucher, a Dell book, 1971 edition. What came to mind was the music, Theme from Summer of 42 by Michelle Legrand. I distinctly remember that way back in 1971, this was one of the contenders for Best Instrumental Arrangement/Composition along with Theme from Shaft by Isaac  Hayes and Theme from Love Story by Francis Lai, for the prestigious Grammy Awards. Of course, Theme from Shaft won hands down (and I still have my Jingle chordbook magazine, Chapter IX to prove it),. But I am digressing here.summer-of-42

Summer of 42 – made into film by Warner Bros. with Jennifer O’Neill (Dorothy) and Gary Grimes(Hermie) as the main characters.  In everyone’s life, there is Summer of 42. A beautiful love story, poignant, warm, funny, sad, coming of age – it is just perfect.

The summer Hermie turned fifteen, he fell deeply  and passionately in love with an older woman of twenty-two and a married one at that.  Along with his two best friends Oscy and Benjie, Hermie spent his time running and playing on the beach and it was there that he saw and fell in love with Dorothy.  The story revolves around the fun and mischief of the three young boys, displaying their raw innocence about sex. It behooves me to think what life was like in ’42.

I dare not describe the details here because it is always best to read the book and enjoy it. The wording  of the song from the book sums it all:

last night I started out happy
last night my heart was so gay
last night I found myself dancing
in my favorite cabaret.
you were completely forgotten
just an affair of the past,
then  suddenly something happened to me
and I found my heart beating, oh so fast

there will be no new romance for me,
it’s foolish to start
for that old feeling is still in my heart.

(note: I don’t own the video, just uploaded it from YouTube)

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I was about to make a blog on my to-be-read list for the following year and I suddenly remembered The Book Thief which I read right after I completed my six sessions of chemotherapy. It was an emotional encounter that I’ll never forget. I am still looking for a copy of my own since it was just borrowed by my daughter from their office.  And I am re-posting this blog  for all its worth. There’s something there that re-echos what I feel at the moment.

“how could something so seemingly insignificant give comfort to someone?”

how do you give someone a piece of sky?”

This much I remember while I was in the middle of reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I’d better jot them down before they become obscured and buried in oblivion. No, I am not attempting to write a book review here, this book deserves a better time and more attention than these few hours before the old year changes into a new one.  Call me a little too sentimental crying over a good book but I just did when I finished  reading the last page .  Some books really touch you to the core and The Book Thief is one of them. It reminds me of Leon Uris’  Mila 18 which I’ve read some thirty years ago. And so far, this is my best read for this year.  Reading has been few and far between. I don’t know, I was not really inclined to make a marathon of it but I remember that before my surgery last July, I was so engrossed with almost all of the new books by James Patterson.  It would have been nice  if we were able to save most of the books in our shelves including our long list of TBRs but then typhoon Ondoy made that a long-lost dream.

So how do you give someone a piece of sky? Dreams never end just because your life turned upside down all of a sudden. Dreams never end just because something unexpected touched you and you felt the pain.  Dreams never end just because a few friends turned their backs on you at the time you needed them most.  The unfairness seemed magnified at some point in your life but then you realized  how lucky you are to still be alive and enjoying another sunny morning, enjoying a few moments of peace just looking at the sunset, dreaming maybe of someone giving you a piece of sky.  Lately,  I realized that in life, there are more things to be thankful for than to complain about.  There are more things that make  you happy than  things that make you sad and lonely. The  trick is to open your eyes to the beauty of everything around you.  My illness taught me many things. Everyday  should be something special, you have to embrace it as if it were the last day of your life.  The journey may not be as smooth as you want it to be, but it is in the struggles which make you stronger than most, being able to face another day with a wide grin and a grateful thanks that you survived the hurdles along life’s way.

Have a blessed new year, a few more days to go and we’ll be changing an old  leaf in the calendar.

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James Patterson, author of the acclaimed Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club series writing  a love story? I was quite intrigued.  I was so used reading mysteries and fast-paced action by this author and was quite pleasantly surprised that he could also write a heart-wrenching, touching and emotional love story  like Sam’s Letters to Jennifer. An uplifting tale of friendship (between a grandmother and her granddaughter), love between childhood friends and our own  mortality and that of our  loved ones. This book shows that life is too precious not to live it to the fullest even at its darkest moments. I won’t attempt to write a review here.It is simply one great summer read.

One line in the book says, “what are we but our stories?”

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What started as a gloomy and depressing morning  was a  delightful day after all. Talk about surprise finds and nice endings. Don’t get me wrong and don’t be mislead by the title. I am just talking about books here, yes books I found this afternoon in one of my rare trips at Booksale. It’s that moment you find something unexpected and you squeal with delight, a scandalous  shout of YES  and people looked at you with indulgent smiles on their faces. One of them said, when I told her that I’ve waited too long to find a copy of this one, “It’s your lucky day.”

A year ago, my daughter borrowed a copy of On Writing (A Memoir of the Craft) by Stephen King and I made a short review in one of my blogs here. Guess what, I found a hardbound copy of the book this afternoon, a  steal at P130.00, it’s brand new complete with a dust jacket. It’s a must-read for those dreaming of writing one day, a lovely companion for those who love the written word.

 

I actually bought four more books, a little over the budget but I simply can’t resist Luanne Rice , Rosamunde Pilcher and Anita Shreve.  I love Anita Shreve in Resistance and The Pilot’s Wife, I hope  All He Ever Wanted won’t disappoint. Here’s a nice quote from the cover of Luanne Rice’s Safe Harbor:  No matter where life takes you, you’ll always come home.” Nice, isn’t it?  And I am lucky to have found Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Rosamunde Pilcher Collection, an omnibus copy of her three novels, one of which I’ve already read but I think is still worth-rereading.  And this is a nice surprise, More Glimpses of Heaven (Inspiring True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life’s Journey). I think this book would help in my reflections for my apostolate work at AFCC.

I was invited by the  Dominican Community (Order of Preachers) as one of the guest speakers in their upcoming Social Media Summit this October. I am keeping my fingers crossed, I hope I would not disappoint them.

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Okay, okay, I won’t bore you with what happened to the impeachment trial. I am sure you have read and watched what happened on the Senate floor yesterday afternoon. Suffice to say, I am making a list of all the twenty-three senators since by Monday or Tuesday at the latest, they would release the verdict on CJ Corona and they would have to explain their votes so you better come prepared or are you also taking a survey whether it’s an acquittal or a conviction?  Let’s see how our good senators would use the evidences on hand and not be swayed by political affiliations. So, here’s the list of our esteemed senators who would decide on the fate of the chief  justice come Tuesday:

Edgardo J. Angara
Joker P. Arroyo
Alan Peter S. Cayetano
Pia S. Cayetano
Franklin M. Drilon
Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada

Francis Joseph G. Escudero
Teofisto L. Guingona III

Gregorio B. Honasan II
Panfilo M. Lacson
Manuel M. Lapid
Loren B. Legarda
Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
Sergio R. Osmeña III
Francis N. Pangilinan
Aquilino Pimentel III
Juan Ponce Enrile
Ralph G. Recto
Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr.
Miriam Defensor-Santiago
Vicente C. Sotto III
Antonio F. Trillanes IV
Manuel B. Villar, Jr.

It’s been a while since I actually read a book because the last few days, my time was focused on the Impeachment Trial, I am glad that it’s coming to a close.  And it’s been a while since  I read a historical and a romance novel at that. This one though was more focused on history, about Russian prince and princess, British commoners and aristocrats, it actually has all the ingredients of a nice read but I won’t make a book review here. I just found a copy, Splendor by Brenda Joyce in our shelves, probably an earlier find of my daughter.  If you could stay reading until 1am then the book is arresting don’t you think?  I did just that last night and finished the last few chapters this afternoon.  I am tempted to start another book by Rick Jordan but I haven’t finished Cell yet by Stephen King. I actually got bored in the middle of reading it.  There are books and there are books but sometimes no matter how  good an author is, it just won’t  make you sit for long and  pour your attention on every page.  This morning I received a call from my youngest brother and we talked about books and e-reader. I told him a friend asked me if I want a Nook but I said it’s not a priority at the moment.  He said that there is a new version of the Kindle, the Kindle Fire selling at $199.00. I need a little more convincing if I want to shift from a real book to a color tablet. Maybe in a year or two, when we no longer have enough space for books, I’ll entertain the idea but not…right now!

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I CAN’T!   And that’s written in big bold letters. This ongoing love affair knows no bounds, an insatiable thirst for more, loving the feel and smell of new pages, waiting to discover something that would either make you cry, laugh, think and smile. I need more space for more books. If my brother could hear me now, he would say, get a Kindle. He offered to buy me one but I am in a quandary whether I will enjoy reading without holding the book in my hands.  I took some shots of some of the books we have now after I lost most of my collection more than two years ago. Someday, I’m going to replace them one by one because I want to read some of them all over again and get lost in the magic of words.

I need one more like this, a wooden cabinet where I could arrange the other books hiding behind those books on the wall.

And these are my daughter’s new collection. She’s lately into magic and vampires and werewolves. But if you were to ask me I enjoyed the series of Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games. All three books were exceptionally written. Move over Harry Potter and let’s watch this soon for a change. I also enjoyed reading The Red Pyramid because it brought me back to the magic of childhood.

And these are my personal favorites.

Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own.  ~William Hazlitt

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And here I thought Michael Crichton was the best when it comes to science-based thrillers. And Robin Cook comes next for those heart-stopping medical thrillers.  I heard of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child from some friends at Shelfari where I have my virtual library but it didn’t make me curious to find any of their books until I found a copy of The Cabinet of Curiosities in one of my forays at Booksale. I was hooked.  I have just finished reading it an hour ago, after  starting the first chapter last night till my eyes  hurt  and I felt so sleepy. It’s a page-turner and I can’t put it down. Reading about 19th century New York was a sure come-on.

In the 19th century, New Yorkers flocked to collections of strange and grotesque oddities called “cabinets of curiosities.” Now, in lower Manhattan, a modern apartment tower is slated to rise on the site of one of the old cabinets. Yet when the excavators break into a basement, they uncover a charnel pit of horror: the remains of thirty-six people murdered and gruesomely dismembered over 130 years ago by an unknown serial killer.

In the aftermath, FBI Special Agent Pendergast and museum archaeologist Nora Kelly embark on an investigation that unearths the faint whisper of a mysterious doctor who once roamed the city, carrying out medical experiments on living human beings. But just as Nora and Pendergast begin to unravel the clues to the century-old killings, a fresh spree of murder and surgical mutilation erupts around them. . . and New York City is awash in terror.

Don’t ask me why I love reading science fiction and medical thrillers. I learned a lot from Robin Cook , a doctor in real life who writes about medical malpractices encountered by some patients while under treatment. I didn’t eat hamburger for about a year I guess when I read his book Toxin, fascinated with how Ebola virus came through in his book Outbreak which was also made into a film. I understood  more about cancer marker testing in his more recent book entitled Marker. I was so amazed with his books that I started collecting all of his published works three years ago, some of them, most of them I lost during typhoon Ondoy. I have about ten books left which I plan to re-read one of these days.

Michael Crichton was one of the best of course. I read Andromeda Strain when I was in college  followed by The Terminal Man. And who could forget Sphere, Congo and the movie he directed Coma which was based on the novel by Robin Cook?

Charles W. Eliot couldn’t have said it better and I quote: “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” How true!

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Being sick does not give you much choice on what to do except perhaps listen to the morning news on the radio, watch TV, sleep and read. I prefer the last two of course since rest and relaxation are all you need to get well.  Come to think of it, I was not even enticed by the thought of opening  a laptop and catching up with friends at Facebook. It was a long three-days of  just catching up on a long neglected hobby – reading.

I first encountered Rosamunde  Pilcher upon the recommendation of a friend whom I met at a book club three years ago. I got curious because for a guy to rave about  one particular author or  book, she really must be good. So I looked for a copy of The Shell Seekers, one of her well-known and much-loved books. I was hooked and from then on, I tried to look for more of her books every time I got the chance to visit Booksale.  Last month, I found four more of her earlier works and bought them all. The funny thing is I was able to finish three in the three days that I was indisposed. Her stories are not your run of the mill love stories. They speak of family relationships, heartbreak, friendships, betrayals, forgiveness and love. Once you start reading  her books, you get to absorb the characters like they are your next-door neighbors or your favorite cousin or your beloved brother or sister.  And seeing her describe Cornwall and Scotland with such beauty and grace makes you long to go there and see the snow-capped vistas and azure skies, it makes you stay at the beach all day long and  just look  at the water and go home with the thought of a nice hot cup of tea and fish and chips prepared by a loyal housekeeper who treats you as a long-lost daughter.  It makes you even curious how a Biro pen looks like because the character you’ve read won’t have no other except a Biro. It makes you long to buy rose-scented soaps and lavender bubble baths and stay relaxed for an hour or two immersed in warm and scented water and wrap yourself with pretty thick bath towels afterward.  You think of the first chill of autumn and the countryside awashed with pretty flowers. Short of saying, I want to live in Scotland and  get to explore Porthkerris despite the rains and the cold. I want to see the  silver hues of the raindrops  on a cold and chilly morning. Such are what you can imagine, just reading her books.

I am on my fourth book now, a collection of short stories called Flowers In the Rain And Other Short Stories. And one of these days, I want to re-read The Shell Seekers and her  other books. And here are some quotes I would love to share with you.

“It was good, and nothing good is truly lost. It stays part of a person, becomes part of their character. So part of you goes everywhere with me. And part of me is yours, forever” – The Shell Seekers

“…Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word it always was. Let it be spoken without effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well.”  (from the book  September which I have just read).

“She remembered him smiling, and realized that time, that great old healer, had finally accomplished its work, and now, across the years, the face of love no longer stirred up agonies of grief and bitterness. Rather, one was left feeling simply grateful. For how unimaginably empty the past would be without him to remember.”  The Shell Seekers

 

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