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Archive for the ‘Goodreads’ 2016 Reading Challenge’ Category


Goodread's 2016 Reading Challenge

Goodread’s 2016 Reading Challenge

I finally got my badge. It’s time to move to other reading genre – YA (yes, I love them), contemporary,  poems (Upstream is just waiting)  some memoirs and of course  Christmas stories.

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There have been so many excellent books written about the Holocaust both true accounts and fiction. There is Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl which I’ve read three decades ago, Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally which was adapted into a movie and  Mila 18 by Leon Uris.

Irena’s Children is one of them, a newly published book about the life of Irena Sendler and how she helped save thousands of children affected by the war (when Germany invaded Poland).

Such a riveting story of loss of millions of lives because of war, selflessness, love of family, love of country, courage, life and death.

Gosh, I can’t believe it. this is my 99th read and I am almost, almost done. One more book to go. I am in a quandary which to read first, Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak which I’ve been eyeing to read since my college years or The Kitchen House which is another historical novel. Or maybe, toss coin na lang, which is which..haha 🙂

Sometimes,Iwonder why I am always drawn to history, fiction or not. Maybe I am an old soul.

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One thing I like about Facebook is their daily app called On This Day where you can go back and see what you wrote a few years back, a summary of shoutout you did through the years.  I wrote the  following paragraphs exactly four years ago on my wall. I wonder if I lifted them  from  some earlier posts I did here. I know it is easier if there is a previous review of the book you want to read or it was given a rating of five stars like they do on Goodreads but I guess you can always explore a book and sometimes you certainly find nice surprises.

Sometimes I wonder if people read a particular book because they love and like the author or they find positive reviews about it or simply because the book is just there, handy for one to enjoy.

I am not deterred by negative reviews they give to a particular book or been influenced by the five-star rating on the side, I’d rather want to discover it on my own. Sometimes, you’ll be surprised, you actually love the story of one which others say is not worth that much.

And I love this quote from Roald Dahl: “So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.”

It’s funny, I even capitalized that word  “please”.  I am on the last leg of my reading challenge of 100 books this year (88% done) and I realized that one should not be afraid to try reading new authors, not just those you’re familiar with or are well-known.  Sometimes, the very first books they publish are the best ones. And yes, I have to be honest here, sometimes the book cover does it  🙂

What are you reading now? I am done with some books on baking and those fiction books that have baking recipes in between the pages.

 

 

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Welcome September!

Mom was watching an early morning show this morning and I noticed that one of their props is a duly decorated Christmas tree.  I smiled and thought “the countdown begins, it’s the start of the BER months, how lovely!” 

It’s the longest Christmas celebration ever. Oh yes, I am listening to the Christmas album of Johnny Mathis at the moment (on YouTube of course).  Who would not be thrilled at the thought of the most celebrated and most joyous season of the year?  It makes me sad though that every time I get to listen to Johnny Mathis’ Christmas album I always think of Dad. It was his favorite and you know Christmas is near when you hear these lovely songs of old.  He died one December night almost nine years ago.  One of my friends shouted out on her FB wall, “ilabas na si Jose Mari Chan”.  Jose Mari Chan is one of our most talented singers. he compose his own songs and he has several Christmas albums that find their way in every home and on radio stations when September is here.

This might be a bit late for September 1 because the last two  paragraphs were on draft  and I haven’t posted anything here since  August 30.  Seems as if I need to be reminded that it’s been six days since my last post and a week since posting a longer one.  I’ve been busy (same reason as before). The truth is I got so engrossed reading the past days. Gosh, I am happy to tell you that I’ve finished 85 books out of the 100 books I promised myself to read  this year and Goodread’s Reading Challenge for 2016 is a nice motivation.  15 more books to go and I’m done.

Know what, I am excited to be called a SC in  two months. When you reach the age of sixty, you’ll be proud to wear that senior citizen’s badge proclaiming to the world that you are  one.  You’ll always be in the priority lane, you get a 20% discount on medicines provided you have a legit prescription from your doctor, you can also enjoy discounts in restaurants, hotels, concerts, movies, air fare, groceries  etc. This afternoon, I went to SSS (Social Security System) to get an application form for retirement and to  inquire about the other things needed to be submitted.  Their branch in our place was full but I was able to talk to one of their employees after an hour of waiting. We had a short chat about my previous employment, how much I’ll gonna get every month for life, what identity papers I need to submit. She said, “I am sure Ma’am Arlene di tayo magkikita sa birthday mo pero right after your birthday dadalaw ka dito”.  It simply means that the day after I turned sixty, she’ll see me again. Getting in years gracefully, getting a little wiser with age while ignoring the occasional aches and pains of the advancing years.

Just grateful for everyday blessings! How’s the start of your week?

 

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It’s been a while.

It’s been raining cats and dogs here for the past days and I only saw the sun showed its face briefly early this morning (for a few minutes actually)  then she played hide and seek  with the thick clouds  never to show up again the whole day.  We were alarmed when Marikina River reached almost critical level because the rain dumped so much in thirty minutes causing the river to swell. Marikina is adjacent to our town so they have to open the eight gates of Manggahan floodway which is so near to us.  There are pockets of water in some areas until now. Old folks call this “siyam-siyam”,  nine days of prolonged rained brought about by the southwest monsoon.  Well, it is the rainy season so what can we expect but I am praying hard that flash floods won’t be a problem for us  during this wet season.

You wonder what the smell of rain is. It threatens but at the same time the sound of raindrops gently falling on the roof is quite soothing. The drizzle is quite nice for the plants but the downpour makes them swim too much in water. And when it rains, you have so much time in your hands to read. I have just finished my 79th book on Goodreads’ 2016 reading challenge, 18 books in advance.  When you are lucky to find a subject quite different from your usual reading genre, you devour it with gusto. I found a treasure in reading The Secret Ways of Perfume. You would think that a scent of a perfume is just that, something you like but we don’t know the complexities of how it is made, you need a detailed study on the combination of scents (the essences of flowers, herbs and spices). There is something that soothes, energizes, inspires. lavender, bergamot, roses…learning the world of perfume creation. How nice!

How was your Sunday?

 

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It’s a wet and cold morning and it’s been raining on and off since the start of the weekend.  Hanging habagat  (southwest monsoon) is definitely here. It was a busy weekend though. It’s a good thing we were able to finish some gardening chores early.

When you are forced to stay at home because of the weather, you either keep busy or you relax to your heart’s content.  I did both…haha! Aside from gardening, I was able to find time to read two books over the weekend and to watch two movies on YouTube.  Yes, you heard it right.  For the first time in so many years, I caught myself finding some inspirational movies that would lift the soul and strengthen faith. The Song of Bernadette did just that. I could not remember the last time I watched this movie. I found a version in Blu-Ray. The Song of Bernadette is a 1943 drama film that tells the story of Bernadette Soubirous, a young visionary of Lourdes  who later became a saint. From February to July 1858 in Lourdes, France, she  reported eighteen visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This  film is based on the true story of Bernadette Soubirous, and adapted from the book written by  Franz Werfel.  What a lovely, lovely way to spend two hours straight infront of my computer and see this film.

Lately, I was lucky enough to find more books on faith and redemption and how beautiful life could be  despite the treacherous journey  and the unfaithfulness of mankind.  Alicia Ruggieri  is new on my list  of authors  and I like her writing style. She writes grace-filled and Christ-centered fiction. If you have time, try to read her A Time of Grace trilogy. The first book made me really cry and think of life, it’s beauty and its angst. The Fragrance  of Geraniums is such a beautiful book.  I am in the middle of reading the second one entitled All Our Empty Places  which picks up the story where it left off in the first one. I wonder if I’ll be able to find the third and the concluding book in the trilogy. I am not really into trilogies but this one is worth it. There are those stories that make you feel they’re real and you get into them like you would a story of a friend or yours, you feel the sadness, the triumphs and the pain. You feel that hope is not a dead thing but a journey that makes you look forward to another day.

A friend  suggested another writer and poet. The blog is truly inspiring. I searched the link. You may visit it here.

It’s raining still  and I am caught with these words, we are all special in God’s eyes.  God’s grace overflows.

 

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WOW!

If there is a rating more than five stars, I’ll give this book a six. It’s one of the best books I’ve read to date, my 70th out of the 100 books I challenged myself to finish for  Goodread’s 2016 Reading Challenge. I am afraid my review would not be enough to describe the beauty of this book, how well-written it is so I won’t even attempt to write one. Suffice to say, this book is beautiful, inspiring, awesome…..beautiful, inspiring, awesome. Truly a masterpiece. Lisa Wingate is a gifted writer.

prayerbox-standingcover I didn’t know I was on the last page when I read these lines.

“None can contain the magnificence of a wave kissing sand or the perfect spiral of a shell drying translucent in the sun or the fire of morning over endless water.

Or the beauty of a hummingbird as it hovers just an arm’s length away, mysteriously out of season on the day before Thanksgiving, it’s wings stroking air,rapid, invisible, powerful. Frozen in time for only an instant.

And then it flies away, growing smaller and smaller against the blue of an endless sky. Until finally it disappears into heaven.”

There are so many lovely quotes that I found in this book that  I copied  to my journal.  The prayer box reminds me of another blog post I wrote exactly a year ago. My  thought box is a discarded chocolate tin which contains  square  scratch papers of different size and color (filled with words, quotes, single lines, messages and reminders) which I have to sort out again  whereas the prayer box is a treasure trove of  inspiring words and letters religiously documented over the years.

When a book touches  you where it matters the most, it is certainly a winner.

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Oh my gosh, 62 books out of 100. I really can’t believe that I am 11 books ahead of schedule on my 2016 Goodreads Reading  Challenge. And before you say I have lots of time to appreciate the written word, it rains a lot every day so gardening is always relegated to the back seat and sometimes reading takes priority. I was able to start trimming the carabao grass this afternoon  (a back-breaking job every month)  but the sudden shower made me run indoors.

To discover new authors, what bliss! Goodreads provides a list of new books every month and a list of all time popular books but what I appreciate most is discovering new authors who are just as good and as talented like your favorite writers. One such author is John Hart. Where were you all this time John?

I seldom give five-stars to the books I read, just maybe about 6 in 50 books but Redemption Road  had me from page one, a gripping page-turner from beginning to end.  I don’t normally summarize a book as a  kind of review, it’s up to the other readers to find out. Well, I’m back to chick lit and memoirs and historical novels.

Did I say reading Redemption Road is worth your time?

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Gosh, my regular readers must be so disappointed seeing the same posts for quite a while now.  Some are looking into old blog posts as far back as 2011 and 2012.  Imagine two pathetic posts for this month. It’s not because I got tired of sharing my world with you but every time I try to compose something here, I always end up going back to the latest result of the vice-presidential race.  More deep breaths, more sighs of relief, more prayers and a gargantuan faith that our Leni will win. She is ahead for  several days now but you’ll never know with a Marcos on the other side of the fence. The latter said the only way that he could lose is when he is cheated.  What arrogance coming from someone whose family has cheated and emptied the coffers of the Philippines thirty years ago.

Opps, sorry, I promised I won’t be talking about politics anymore. My lips are sealed.

There is an ongoing virus among dogs here in our area.  I forgot the exact term used by the  vet  but it’s like a severe flu, always undetected at first until your pet just won’t eat  and it slowly dies. Sad to say, we lost our Japanese Spitz last May 01 and our Aspin the other day.  We have only one dog left, a half Lab, half Spitz  a friend gave us two years ago.  I haven’t  gotten used yet  tending the garden without our small dog always trailing behind.  It really pains me to see them gone.

I was supposed to blog about my seventh year last May 11. It’s not the same as the one that WordPress celebrates with me because it took me a year to actually post something after I created Dreams and Escapes.  I transferred some blog entries culled from my previous Multiply site, those posts that were not current at the time I seriously considered blogging here for good.  I never left since. Though it was a hard start, I am still  here.  Back then, there were no like buttons to speak of but WordPress was so supportive of  suggesting topics when I joined  the 2011 Writing Challenge. I was given a badge but deleted it a few years later.  They gave feedbacks for every post like “amazing, fantastic, wonderful etc.” When I think of all those times that I have to wrack my brain so I could stay updated with the challenge,  I smile at myself and say I have a lot of patience after all.  I am a self-taught blogger constantly looking for themes that would suit my blog, always customizing on the side, editing old posts. Believe me, there will always be some words or two that sometimes  make no sense at all. Well, one learns as one goes along. It is one of the challenges of blogging.

This is my 1,790th post for this blog alone, add that to the four remaining blogs that I maintain and it would probably reach  2,000 entries.  Having  a bigger stats is a bonus of course.  I am hoping though that there would be more interactions/comments on the side because I am curious to know where they are coming from.   My newest blog, Dreams Never End got more likes and comments when I started there. My 2016 Reading Challenge has gone haywire the past days with only one book read in advance.  I hope I’ll be able to catch up in the coming days.

Bye for now, I hope to visit your sites soon. I miss reading  your  blogs.

 

 

 

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I know, I know, you would probably say, life is not simple. Maybe, just like those Facebook profiles that say, “it’s complicated”,  it means a lot of things to different people.

You can be happy with a lot of things (that’s temporary) but it’s the simplicity of it which sometimes put a smile on your face. Yesterday was one such day that made me pause for a while and just  savor the hours that passed. My son is on a two-day team-building trip somewhere in Cavite and the house was so quiet except for the occasional barking of our three rambunctious dogs. They think they own the garden and one of them doesn’t know what to do every time he sees some passersby close to the fence, he probably thinks they are a threat to the peace and quiet of the afternoon.

I love that corner of the garden where I could put my feet up and read or sip a hot cup of afternoon coffee giving half of the bread to our dogs.  Every Sunday afternoon, there is this program in the AM band where they play old songs from the 60’s and 70’s but mostly from the 60’s. Yesterday, it was a two-hour feature of the Beatles. This group has been a part of my growing-up years and when my son was in grade school, we used to watch a test broadcast of Beatles songs and movies.  Sometimes I am surprised to listen to some downloaded songs on his MP3 with several Beatles songs. I smile and he laughs and we would begin to reminisce about those days.  The joys of a simple life.

I got myself engrossed reading a book with a different setting and a one-of-a-kind story. It’s my first encounter with the author Marilynne Robinson. 20575411

Lila is a fascinating tale of a homeless child,  “story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder.”  A limited vocabulary but full of thoughts and wonders about life  and  existence, such is Lila.  It’s a wonderful story of redemption, full of Biblical quotes that seem so essential in the story and in Lila’s quest on the meaning of grief and happiness. I understand this a trilogy, I haven’t read the first two books but this is a stand-alone story.  By the way, it’s my 21st book on Goodread’s 2016 reading challenge.

“If you think about a human face, it can be something you don’t want to look at,so sad or so hard or so kind. It can be something you want to hide, because it pretty well shows where you’ve been and what you can expect. And anybody at all can see it, but you can’t. It just floats out there in front of you. It might as well be your soul, for all you can do to protect it.”

Yes, I have started collecting quotes again, copying them on my little notebook. Back when I was in college, I have filled up three journals just on quotes alone. The beauty of a simple life.

18666006I have just started a new book, another new author in my list. Based on the summary it says,” Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless teen living in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves.”

“A story of loss, adventure, and the search for friendship in the wake of catastrophe, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is one of Chris Bohjalian’s finest novels to date – breathtaking, wise, and utterly transporting.”

I wonder if this would deliver, I am just on the first few pages. Seventy nine more books to go, this one included.  Such is the beauty of reading, you are sometimes transported in a world completely unknown to you.

Did a say, it is a simple life? But it is a life that is happy.

 

 

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