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Archive for the ‘book review’ Category


The bond between two sisters broken by circumstances beyond their control.

Beautiful.

The sounds, the smells and all textures come into play.

And I wonder why I shelved this for a while in favor of another book which I read in one day.

Renita D’ Silva is quite new in the league of  new authors that I follow. I don’t normally summarize the story when I review a book. Suffice to say, it was told in a perspective of both sisters when they were growing up. They had alternating narratives.  I had another glimpse of India, how the poor struggle to make both ends meet, how arranged marriages are made and such.  D’Silva tells the story in such a way that the words are pure bliss, how poetic. I am posting some excerpts here close to the end of the beautiful book.

“And seeing her son encircled in her sister’s arms, Puja, for the first time in twenty years, gets a glimpse into a future that is unburdened by the follies of the past, but lifted up on the tentative wings of optimism, bright as light percolating into an overcast day and feeding it the promise of the brilliance to come. She breathes in deeply and tastes buoyancy, the soft pink of a tender bloom unfurling cautiously in the caress of spring.”

“We are only human in the end.”

“We waste the little time we are given in this world on immaterial things, not the things that really matter. And then, when it is far too late, we long for one more moment together, a moment which, if bestowed, we will draw out and treasure, a moment in which we will say all those things left unsaid, a moment into which we will cram a lifetime’s worth of good times.” 

I seldom give 5 stars to a book but this is one of them. Wow, 27 books ahead of schedule.

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Four days of not even visiting WordPress. What is happening to me. I am really getting so lazy to blog.

I just finished rereading Rosamunde Pilcher’s Coming Home. Yeah, you read it right,  I read it back in 2012. I have most of her books in my shelf since I discovered her upon the recommendation of a friend.

I wrote this review back in 2011 when I started looking for her books. I am reposting it here. It’s part of a long, long review that I did back then. I wrote this last November 24, 2011

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.

Coming Home is one such book that you would want to reread again and again. It’s a wonderful journey of a teenager left behind by  her parents back in 1935 in Cornwall.  The struggles of being away from one’s immediate family although she found loyal friends who treated her as one of the members of their family. She was also taken cared of by her aunts from both sides and grew up to be a responsible adult despite all the setbacks. It’s pre-war Britain until the end of the  WWII. I just love it.

 

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It took me a while to finish reading this one because I was so engrossed watching I Want, a new app on my tab which features selected movies, news, sports, telenovelas, music and what have you all from the largest network in the country, ABS CBN.

The first time I encountered how gifted this writer is, was when I read her book The Memory of Us. Yes, it is one of the best read I had this year. It may not be that good to some but I love the Catholic aspect of the book. A Catholic seminarian falling in love with a girl of another religion. This is more of a love story than what happened during WWII.

The Way of Beauty  is simply beautiful. Another Di Maio book that I love. when you encounter stories like this, you are inspired to read more.

I looked for more of her books until I found Before The Rain Falls. It’s the story  of how families protect each other, how they show their love, how they encourage each other to excel. It’s the story of a life in prison.

Part of the synopsis reads: “Moving and engrossing, this dual story alternates between Della’s dark ordeals of the 1940s and Paloma and Mick’s present-day search for answers―about roots, family, love, and what is truly important in life.”

I love the characters of Mick and Paloma but Della’s stand out more. Hoping I could read more books by this author. I just love her writing style.

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I’m humbled reading another lovely book by Charles Martin. It is actually two books in one, the first is called The Dead Don’t Dance and the second is Maggie. The two books need to be read together.

It is categorized as a love story, a contemporary one that breaks your heart, touch it and give it back again and  it uplifts your soul. The quality of writing, the depth of characters …just perfect. Maggie and Dylan have endured those family upheavals but they are blessed and lucky to have supportive friends around them. I also love Amos’ character as the best friend of Dylan and the ever elusive Bryce who is a multi-millionaire but lives a simple and quiet life and a  friend of the couple. When things look the darkest and hope seems like a far-fetched dream, that’s when the tide turns for the better.  Maggie’s character seems like so weak but Dylan’s has all that ingredients of being strong, true, faithful and hopeful.

You look at life when it is staring at you hard in the face, you look at your relationship with your family and your friends and all the people you meet in between and you wonder, will I ever have a good and meaningful life ahead?

See for yourselves how the story unfolds. You might enjoy reading it too.

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Did I say I finished two books in three days?  And yes, blogging was relegated to the back seat again.

The Brave

Waited for this book for almost a decade since it was published back in 2009. I love Nicholas Evans. Read all of his five books now. I wonder why he is no longer writing. I haven’t seen a new one since The Brave. The last time I heard of the guy was back in 2010 when he and his family members got sick because of eating poisonous mushrooms.   The Brave is his last publication so far. Alternating between the main character Tommy Bedford’s fast and present, but you are never lost in the story. A lonely childhood, as heartwarming as his other books.

Lost December

Richard Paul Evans, you rock!

Just finished reading this in a day. I love the twist and turns of the story. Evan’s stories have that arresting themes that grips you, some warm tales of family life, triumphs, friendship. They are feel-good stories that make you go on reading till you reach the last page.

Lost December is one of those. I like the relationship between father and son, how they survived the brief alienation from each other and how the son learned how important family is in the end.

We make bad choices at times but the lessons they teach us are priceless. I have this lovely quote from the book:

” In life we all take different paths, some more difficult than others, but in the end, all that matters is whether or not they lead us home.”

Except for his Michael Vey series which are more YA books in character, I read almost all of his books. We are friends at Facebook…haha 🙂 His books  I have are hardbounds and all have lovely covers to boot. I love the quotes written in each chapter of every book. Aside from Mary Oliver, he is one of my favorite authors.

Oh my, and I found two more books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of the Yellow Sun and Americanah. I Am David by Anne Holm has been on my wish list for a number of years now and what do you know, I’ll be reading it soon too.

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Oh I know, it’s probably a “no big deal” for some but it is an achievement for me.

I am finally done with my reading challenge at Goodreads for this year. Here is a message from Goodreads:

Congrats!

You have read 120 books of your goal of 120!

120/120 (100%)
The last book I read is entitled Flowers in the  Snow by Danielle Stewart.
“Sometimes a hug is the only way to squeeze someone’s worry away.”
Racism.
I read a few books before about this subject matter but this one grips you like no other. Come to think of it, I didn’t know this was a series until I read it is book #1. I would love to read the others if I am lucky enough to find them.
When you and your family are divided by your own beliefs and ideologies, you try to find people who would understand. This is a story of three friends, one is black but she found friendship with two others who belong to the other side of the fence. And those two found a lasting friendship with the family of their black friend.
This was told through flashbacks on what happened in the past but it was a lovely read. Easy on the eyes and easier still to get into the story.
Here’s a synopsis of the story from Amazon.com:

In the 1960s, Edenville, North Carolina is full of rules. Sagging under the weight of racism and segregation the small community finds itself at a dangerous tipping point.

Eleven-year-old Betty Grafton believes the world is fair. She knows there are worse places to live than Edenville. Unaware of the wars waging around her, she spends her days patting horses in the field and running errands for her mother. The world she doesn’t see, full of turmoil and unrest, is hiding just below the surface. One day, she has no choice but to see what’s been right in front of her all along.

Alma knows where to walk. She knows who to talk to and which fountain she can drink out of. Her mother, Winnie, spares no opportunity to remind her how dangerous it is to be a little black girl in the South.

When a chance encounter puts Betty face to face with the peril that exists in her own hometown, everything she knows turns upside down. The world isn’t as fair or safe as she’d imagined. Her family is the Klan. Her friends are the enemy. And nothing makes sense anymore.

Although the world demands they stay apart, Alma and Betty forge a secret friendship. One that could cost them their lives.

I gave this five stars in Goodreads, a nice ending of  a book for this year’s challenge.

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It’s been a while! And that means it’s been three days since I last posted here.

There is nothing much really except I got caught reading some books that I just could not put down.  Would you believe, in all the years that I am into reading and  discovering new authors, this is the first time I encountered a story like this. Tin Man by Sarah Winman is vastly different from the young adult books that I used to read before. It tells about alternative lives, two boys and a girl caught in a love triangle. The first part of the narrative tells the story of Ellis who wanted to be an artist but his father was opposed to it. It tells the story of two teenage boys who fell in love briefly then Ellis got married and Michael became the best friend of his wife Annie.  The poignant remembrance, the memories kept in between the years. The second part tells the story of Michael  and being caught by that dreaded disease. It tells how he treasured those early days of his friendship with his best friend Ellis, the impact of grief, love lost and loneliness.  It is actually a short book but made an impact to a reader like me.  I also read some excerpts on Timeless Moments by Michelle Kidd, another new author in my list.  I started earlier with Stephen Orr’s Time’s Long Ruin but I got confused by the character so I switched to another book called Welcome to Harmony by Jodi Thomas. It is actually the first book in a series.  I wish I could find the other books.

When books reign in your world for a while, you forget to update your blog….haha 🙂

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My gosh, I got so engrossed reading another book about Korea that I only opened my WordPress blog for a few minutes this morning.

It’s North  Korea this time. It’s entitled Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives In North Korea by Barbara Demick.

Nothing To Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population. 

By the way, Kim Jong-un became the supreme leader of North Korea in 2011, succeeding his father Kim Jong-il.

The book speaks from the eyes of defectors who are now living in South Korea or China.  Getting a look inside this closed country, seeing the outside world though the eyes of those who escaped. If Pachinko was a riveting tale of how Korea was before the country’s division and during the Japanese Occupation, in this book you get to see how  people lived in North Korea when it was finally divided. It’s like a continuation of where Pachinko left off.

Here’s how the author described a world of those who were indoctrinated since birth.

“North Korea invites parody. We laugh at the excesses of the propaganda and the gullibility of the people. But consider that their indoctrination began in infancy, during the fourteen-hour days spent in factory day-care centers; that for the subsequent fifty years, every song, film, newspaper article, and billboard was designed to deify Kim Il-sung; that the country was hermetically sealed to keep out anything that might cast doubt on Kim Il-sung’s divinity. Who could possibly resist?”

I haven’t actually finished the book yet but it is even more interesting and riveting than the previous book I read about the country.

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For the past days, I finished two books, one is actually a Christmas story that happened a century ago. I wonder why, sometimes I am hooked with those stories of survival, of family, of friendship and love. When a horse and a buggy were the only means of land transportation, when winter was the most harsh climate you could ever encounter, when people depended  on their own lands to make both ends meet….love those!

I recently found this engaging book set in New York back in the sixties. It’s entitled Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen.

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I just love it. I didn’t know that it was  based on Helen Gurley Brown’s life as seen from the perspective of her secretary who is fictional in character. Helen Gurley Brown was an American author, businesswoman and publisher. She was the editor -in-chief of the Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years. 

It’s nice to be able to see in pictures the actual characters in a story. It adds to the appeal of the book. This is actually my first book of Renee Rosen. I’ll try to look for some of her other books.

It also reminds me of the book The Devil Wears Prada which I have read and watched a few years ago. When you find something nice to read, you are inspired to read more.

 

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Saw this on “my memory”  app at FB yesterday.  I can’t help but repost it. The value of reading….priceless.

I marked this quote when I started another book yesterday. It’s by  Martin Luther King.

Faith is taking  the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Gosh, I just love, love this book. For a first time author, Amy Markstahler is pretty good.

Love, family life, second chances – they’re all here. I cried at the scene when Tyler gave a eulogy on the death of Elsie’s dad. That was so sweet.

Another book that I read in one day. It was that good. I was clearly surprised seeing that the author just followed my review at Goodreads. I hope I could find more stories like this.

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