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Posts Tagged ‘book review’


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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Just started on my reading marathon (if you could call it that). I finished reading book one today, a nice first-novel  chick-lit by Deborah Meyler called The Bookstore. I promised myself that I would at least read 50 books this year. For a bookworm like me, that is not much actually. I know of some members from my book club who could and do manage to read books as much as a hundred.  As it has books on its cover and there is the word book on its title, I guess that made it my number one of the fifty books I want to read. I don’t have a list  because I don’t want to concentrate on just fictions.

I must admit I cheated a little since I started this one on the last days of December but  put it  on hold because of Christmas and New Year celebrations.  For a first time novel, I found it charming and nicely written. Here is a short summary culled from Goodreads.

A witty, sharply observed debut novel about a young woman who finds unexpected salvation while working in a quirky used bookstore in Manhattan.Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant.

Esme’s boyfriend, Mitchell van Leuven, is old-money rich, handsome, successful, and irretrievably damaged. When he dumps Esme—just before she tries to tell him about the baby—she resolves to manage alone. She will keep the child and her scholarship, while finding a part-time job to make ends meet. But that is easier said than done, especially on a student visa.

The Owl is a shabby, second-hand bookstore on the Upper West Side, an all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters: handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke; Chester, who hyperventilates at the mention of Lolita; George, the owner, who lives on protein shakes and idealism; and a motley company of the timeless, the tactless, and the homeless. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme—but will it be enough to sustain her? Even when Mitchell, repentant and charming, comes back on the scene?

A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them, The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.

I love going to bookstores. A trip to the mall would not be complete without visiting one. Even if it is only to browse and find new titles, it is a joy in itself.  I was a student librarian once when I was in college. I spent almost three years of my college life working part-time at the Humanities Section of the main library of University of Santo  Tomas. Where would you find such wonderful books in Literature, Psychology, Ethics and  Philosophy but there? Those days were the best years of my college life – learning the basics of a library work, finding joy in books, making new friends  from all the colleges of the university. Reading The Bookstore made me remember those long-ago days and it makes me smile just thinking of it.

Can’t wait to start The Goldfinch which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014.

 

 

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I told you, I am on a reading marathon and just finished this much-talked about book, The Fault In Our Stars. I wrote a short review on Goodreads.

I don’t normally read YA books, once in a while though, I read something that makes me laugh or cry. I am not even familiar with the author John Green, this is my first read actually. I don’t even know there is a movie adaptation being shown. What made me choose to read it over all the other books and authors I am familiar with? The subject is so familiar that I wanted to shout, “been there, done that, felt those awful moments while an IV was attached to my arms”. I felt those tingling sensations on my fingers that hurt like hell and those times that I just stared at the ceiling wondering if I will get well. the fault in our stars

There are lots of good and bad reviews on Goodreads. Some rated it five-stars, some were quite so honest that they weren’t even touched by the plot of the story. No crying sessions, they say. Maybe when you have experienced something as life-changing as having cancer then you could truly empathize and relate with the book. I did.

I wonder if the movie adaptation is better than the book. I’ve watched the YouTube trailer but if you don’t know that the two characters are cancer patients/survivors, you would just classify it as another young adult love story.

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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 Michel 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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