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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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That’s the funny thing about writing your life story. You start out trying to remember dates and times and names. You think it’s about facts, your life; that what you’ll look back on and remember are the successes and failures, the timeline of your youth and middle age, but that isn’t it at all.

Love.

Family.

Laughter.

That’s what I remember when all is said and done. For so much of my life, I thought I didn’t do enough or want enough. I guess I can be forgiven my stupidity. I was young. I want my children to know how proud I am of them, and how proud I am of me. We were everything we needed – you and Daddy and I.  I have everything I ever wanted.

Love.

That’s what we remember.

When a book makes me cry, I give it five stars. Yes I know, the quotes sound cheesy, it’s a YA book after all.  Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah in one such lovely read. It’s my 17th book on Goodreads’ 2016 Reading Challenge. When I review a book, I don’t summarize it for other people to read, it’s more like sharing what it made me feel. Was I inspired with the story? Was it interesting enough to recommend to other readers who love stories on life-long friendship and family and how  genuine love plays through it all?

You can always read the summary and some book reviews on Goodreads, some maybe disappointed, some find it wonderful.  The story line is such that it made me cry. When I started college life, I worked in the university library for almost three years and there I found true friendship with some of my colleagues. We’ve been friends since I was seventeen and the three of them are still my friends until now. We don’t normally get to see each other but we get in touch despite the distance.  Thea is now a Franciscan nun, Grace has migrated to another country and Precy is a successful businesswoman.  Except for Grace, the three of us experienced life-threatening ailments that made us closer together. Precy once said that we had to undergo the same kind of pain that cancer brings.

Near the end, Firefly Lane delivers such painful reality of losing a mum, a close friend, a daughter and a wife. It pains me to remember the agony of being not 100% fit,  and I do remember vividly what it was like going thru chemotherapy .  Sometimes though, life let us experience something that makes us stronger, ready to accept the ugly realities and grateful for the blessings in between.

Really, when a book makes me cry, I give it five stars.

 

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I recently visited (crossover, hahaha) some blogs at Blogger where I follow some Filipino book bloggers who also belong to my book club, Flips Flipping Pages. Most of them are not my friends but their blog posts about books are a joy to read. For the past six or seven years, I haven’t attended their monthly discussion but I get updated through FFP’s page on Facebook.  Then I saw this list somewhere, BBC’s top 100 books you have to read before you die. I wonder why there is that phrase “before you die”, I am not in a hurry to read books just because it is a must to read them before you take your last breath.  I read books because they give me that endless joy and discovery about other people and other places. I’ve seen similar list of places you have to visit before you die.  I think this is BBC’s latest list because prior to this they have included the titles of the seven Harry Potter books.  Blame it on how curious I am if  I made a dent on their list. Twenty seven books and if I were to add the other six books of JK Rowling which they have listed as a series, that would be 33 total. Not bad, not bad at all. Here’s the list I copied from a site (I could not remember now) on BBC’s top 100.  Some books I have highlighted are mine and some were borrowed from the UST Library and read them when I was still in college. Harry Potter’s hardbound copies are Nissa’s collections.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6. The Bible (still reading it daily)

7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott – on my TBR list

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare

15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch – George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald – on my TBR list

24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy – on my TBR list

25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Caroll

30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy – in the middle of reading it

32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34. Emma -Jane Austen

35. Persuasion – Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

41. Animal Farm – George Orwell

42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving – on my TBR list

45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery – read three volumes

47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding – on my TBR list

50. Atonement – Ian McEwan  – couldn’t get further than chapter 2

51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel – watched the movie adaptation and was not inclined to read it

52. Dune – Frank Herbert

53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon – on my TBR list

57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66. On the Road – Jack Kerouac

67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72. Dracula – Bram Stoker – haven’t finished reading it yet

73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses – James Joyce

76. The Inferno – Dante

77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal – Emile Zola

79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession – AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom – on my TBR list

89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery (In French)

– read it several times but not in French

93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94. Watership Down – Richard Adams

95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

If you ask me,  I would not even include Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code on the list and Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones would not even make it to the top 500 but that’s me talking.

How many books have you read on this list?

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July is getting to a close and it was so uneventful it was kind of boring month. I spent a big chunk of it taking care of Josef for a few days then I got sick too and it was kind of hard to get back to normal.  I don’t usually complain about the weather but it was also  weird that this month was like summer, so hot during the day and there is the usual thunderstorm in the afternoon or early evening.

My plants are probably getting confused although they enjoy the afternoon and early evening shower. A week ago, my lone gardenia shrub started blooming again after it showed its last bud second week of June. If there is one thing that gave me joy in this dull July month, it was the flowers blooming in my garden. My rain lilies are showing off and my Vinca/periwinkle plants are showing a lot of blooms too. One good reason to visit the garden. We haven’t trimmed the carabao grass for more than a month now. I get lazy just looking at it and keep postponing the hard job of weeding and trimming. I need a gardener to replant my peanut grass in front of the house.

My July blooms...

My July blooms…

I had a lot of time to catch up on my reading. I am half-way through reading one of the classics Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy but in between I read contemporary and chick lit novels. I am finding it hard to pronounce all those confusing Russian names in my head. Last night, I opened the five-books set from Nissa, all by John Green. Except for The Fault In Our Stars (which I have watched  on Nissa’s phone) and made a short review here, I am not familiar with the other four although I heard that there is a new movie adaptation of Paper Towns, a coming of age story that belongs to the set. I’ve been looking for more books about cooking (not necessarily cook books) but novels about chefs will do. I found this intriguing title on Goodreads, Incidence of Coconut Cake. I can’t wait to finish the book and search for a recipe using coconut cream which we have plenty here. Who knows, I might be able to come up with my own bars and cookies using this ingredient.

How time flies!  July is ending and another month is coming near. I am praying the month of August would not bring too much rain and typhoons. I hope it would be a happy month. How was July for you?

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6035141 Seldom do I finish a book in one sitting but this one had me mesmerized from page one. It it my first time to read a book written by a Japanese author. I don’t even know who Banana Yoshimoto is but her words, her words get to you in a way that you could relate.

It’s a story of two good friends who both lost their mothers and how they coped with  life without their treasured parents by their side. Two vastly different people living different lives but finding each other in their hour of grief through a window. Standing not quite far, looking at the silhouette of someone who has the same fascination watching  the open window right across the street.  That’s how the story started…so far.

One thing that I noticed about this author is her simple writing style but it moves you to feel and experience what she wants to convey. It’s like describing  a good conversation between two close friends, sharing past heartaches,coping with pain  and having enough confidence to share what one has been through that changed one’s perspective in life somehow.  I wrote down some wonderful quotes from the book. I am not sure if you will agree with me but they speak of the simple truth on what life sometimes deals us and though it is a work of fiction, it’s like reading your own story somehow.

“But I have my life, I’m living it. It’s twisted, exhausting, uncertain, and full of guilt, but nonetheless, there’s something there.”

“When someone tells you something big, it’s like you’re taking money from them, and there’s no way it will ever go back to being the way it was. You have to take responsibility for listening.”

“Everyone knows that hidden pull is there, but we go on living our lives, pretending we don’t. We keep our gazes fixed, day after day, on the things we want to see.”

“Things look different depending on your perspective. As I see it, fighting to bridge those gaps isn’t what really matters. The most important thing is to know them inside and out, as differences, and to understand why certain people are the way they are.”

Life is not perfect. We are not perfect but we could motivate and inspire someone who is as broken as we are. It makes you realize that it is the simple things that give life’s meaning  and worth.

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Hello again. I’ve just finished a wonderful inspirational fiction called Angels Walking by Karen Kingsbury. I have just one or two  criteria for a good book and most of you won’t probably agree – when it makes me cry because it touches me, when it touches something deep in my soul, when the words are like balm to my wounded spirit – then it’s on my A list. Angels Walking did just that. As usual, I am not writing about it to make a book review because you can find various book sites where the story is more detailed and more concrete. I leave that to bloggers who could and would make an honest assessment of what a wonderful book  it is. There are several things though that I learned reading this book. We should not seek perfection in our lives because God alone is perfect. Learn to forgive. This is something so easy to say but so hard to do. Some of you may not believe in angels but I do. As I have said before, angels come in several disguises but we don’t really recognize them as such. Faith could move mountains, right?

When a person starts to live for God, when he steps out of the box of rules and rehearsed ways of living, he becomes real.

That’s one quote from the book that I’ve written on my journal. Recently I received two nominations from fellow bloggers. I regret though that I’ve long decided that this would be an award-free site although in the past years, I accepted  nominations and forwarded them  to some deserving bloggers. It’s quite redundant for me to be saying the same things about myself as a sort of introduction. I believe that those who regularly read my posts would see a more concrete glimpse of who I am. Anyway, I would love to say a big THANK YOU to two bloggers who nominated me. Joselito Caparino who calls his blog Caps Bulletin  included me in his list of Versatile Blogger Award.  abOOkishOwl nominated me for the  Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award but I declined for the simple reason that I am not really a book blogger. The questions there are all about books. Rarely do I make book reviews, I just share why I like them in a few short words. This made me smile. Really. I am happy. Yesterday, I received two lovely key chains sent by a niece who recently took a trip to Romania with a friend. They toured the old monasteries in different places in Romania. When she saw these, she thought of me. They are so lovely, a bit heavy and are gold and silver-plated. More addition to a growing collection🙂 IMG_6720 How was your day? I hope it made you smile too.

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What if you wake up one day and you don’t recognize the face you see in the mirror? What if you look at your hubby and kids and you can’t remember their names? Scary, isn’t it?

The last time I was so engrossed with medical thrillers and stories about the medical field was when I found Robin Cook, a doctor and author of a number of books that I collected over the years.  Cook’s books deal on different subjects like medical malpractices, health insurance issues, the science of Genomics, Bioinformatics and some medical information that we would not normally think about.  A few days ago, I found a copy of a very informative book by Lisa Genova, Harvard-trained Neuroscientist, multi-awarded for her first book called Still Alice. I can’t put it down, because the subject had that big impact on me. I gave it five-stars.

May I just quote its short summary on Goodreads?

Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life–and her relationship with her family and the world–forever. At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of life with early onset Alzheimer’s disease….

My thoughts go back to those days when I was sometimes forgetful. Have you ever experienced  entering your room supposedly to get something but as soon as you are there and open a few drawers or cabinet, you simply forget what you wanted in the first place?  You go out empty-handed then go back again to get it. There were several instances that I asked my son Josef the name of the corner store near our place because I often forget it. I used to think it is called 7-Eleven when its actual name is Mini-Stop, a convenience store that is open 24 hours just like 7-Eleven. And there is this name of an ornamental plant  that I used to grow in my garden  because of its dainty and lovely flowers. Don’t ask me now because I could not remember it.  It begins with B…ah…that’s it, it is called Begonia.

I digress.

I love some of the quotes I found in the book Still Alice, poignant words that made me shed a few tears.

“She liked being reminded of butterflies. She remembered being six or seven and crying over the fates of the butterflies in her yard after learning that they lived for only a few days. Her mother had comforted her and told her not to be sad for the butterflies, that just because their lives were short didn’t mean they were tragic. Watching them flying in the warm sun among the daisies in their garden, her mother had said to her, see, they have a beautiful life. Alice liked remembering that.” “You’re so beautiful,” said Alice. “I’m afraid of looking at you and not knowing who you are.”

“I think that even if you don’t know who I am someday, you’ll still know that I love you.” “What if I see you, and I don’t know that you’re my daughter, and I don’t know that you love me?” “Then, I’ll tell you that I do, and you’ll believe me.”

…My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment. Some tomorrow soon, I’ll forget that I stood before you and gave this speech. But just because I’ll forget it some tomorrow doesn’t mean that I didn’t live every second of it today. I will forget today, but that doesn’t mean that today doesn’t matter.”

There are books and there are books, sometimes though you find something so unforgettable because it makes sense and you learn a lot from it. Some would probably shy away from reading something like this so I won’t recommend it. Nissa told me that they bought a DVD copy yesterday but she hasn’t read the book yet. I am looking forward to watching the movie adaptation.

What book have you read lately that made an impact on you?

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