Saturday, January 28, 2017

[Personal Update] First Post for 2017

How about that?

To say that 2016 swallowed me whole and only spit me out after breaking all my bones and inflicting maximum damage would be an understatement.

I'd like to think that 2016 was the year of mercury retrograde for me, and that things have no other way but up.

Book-blogging-wise and reading-wise, my 2016 was not so good. Add this to personal and professional dilemmas that kept stacking up one after another, and it would be accurate to say that I was pretty much miserable.

Still though, I know that I am luckier than most. Blame the optimist in me.

I got roof over my head, food to eat, and people who support me even though, more often than not, I can't find the motivation to pursue my passions.

This 2017, I plan to go slow but sure. And as always, I'll tap my heart for reassurance, and say my mantra: nothing worth doing is ever easy.

So let's just go steady. Everything will be fine.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

[Book Review] 33 Ermine Street

33 Ermine Street
Harvey Lincoln
Young-Adult, Contemporary Fiction


33 Ermine Street is an ordinary account of an extraordinary courage of a British immigrant of Chinese descent. 

Story-wise, the beginning was somewhat dull. Shen, the protagonist, is as every bit as ordinary. I didn't find myself connecting with him within the first few chapters of the story because he seemed a little too sheltered. Sure, he's had brushes with unpleasant people, but he was mostly raised within the confines of the protective bubble of his parents. 

When the traumatic experience happened, it was only then that I understood why Shen was portrayed as a sheltered young man. Had the incident happened to a more experienced young man, he would not have been affected as much as Shen was. I think it would be safe to say that the incident at the bus was a catalyst for Shen's growth.

Character-wise, I really liked Sandeep and Alfred, because I thought they were the most distinct ones even though they were merely side characters. Malik comes close because of his developed background. 

It was also interesting to read a Filipino character being portrayed in a novel by a foreign writer. The names are too much though, in my opinion. The name Amihan is classically Filipino, but I draw the line at the name Bayani. 

If you ever meet immigrants of Filipino descent, or any Filipino for that matter, you'll know that they don't usually name their children obvious Filipino names. The most common male names in the Philippines, quite surprisingly, include John and Michael (which are not very Filipino-sounding).

The writing is raw at best, but for a debut novel, it's a decent one. The thought that kept occurring to me while reading this story is this: "Show. Don't tell." (May I suggest checking out this LINK to better understand what I mean.) 

My problem with the way the narrative is written is that everything was 'told' by the omniscient speaker. And if isn't given away by the narrator, it is conveyed through dialogue, which somehow, seems blocky and unnatural. The narrative also sounded too formal, and with very little distinction from the different characters.

All in all, I think this is a decent debut novel. I give it 3 stars because of Sandeep's wisdom, Alfred's change of heart, and Shen's courage.


Friday, July 29, 2016

[Book Review] Crushingly Close

Crushingly Close
Stella Torres
July 19, 2016
Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit

What's a woman to do when she's fiercely independent, and love comes knocking without warning? I think this pretty much sums up our main character, Agnes Escueta's, predicament in this brand new offering from Filipino #romanceclass author Stella Torres.

I think every woman goes through that moment where she has to choose between her hard-won independence, and the stirrings of her heart, thinking that choosing one is equal to losing the other.

What I like about this story is that it is character-driven. There are no super villains plotting the demise of our main character. There are no uber rich, snotty and all-powerful antagonists, who can ruin someone's life by waving their money and influence. I think this is where the the beauty of this story lies. It is relateable, and it is a slice of life. It can be anyone's story.

Agnes, the protagonist, is smart, successful and driven. She's also hard-working and family-oriented, and most of the time, logic dictates her actions rather than her heart. I love that Agnes has her priorities straight. Filipino family values were clearly showcased in the story through Agnes' constant worry for her sick father. I also love her voice, because she sounds stable and thoughtful. She sounds like someone who has had her character tested, but still remains standing.

As for the love interest, I was picturing Atom Araullo as Daniel Ferrer the whole time I was reading the story. He was my LI peg right from the very start. (hihi) I think it really takes some serious balls to go after the affections of a fiercely independent woman. Major thumbs up for Daniel for stepping up!

The way Daniel sees through Agnes' walls, and the way Agnes calls out Daniel's BS speaks volumes about how they see each other. I loved the gradual development of their connection to each other. It was like a push-and-pull between two people who are clearly into each other, but things kept getting in the way, and priorities had to be sorted. It would have been easier to let things die down, but I really liked that they made things work.

All in all, I really enjoyed this story. It has no grand and unrealistic gestures, but its beauty lies in its simplicity. And hey, giving in to the stirrings of your heart does not necessarily mean relinquishing independence. The two are not mutually exclusive, and author Stella Torres shows just that in this story. 

LINKSAmazon // Goodreads

At twenty-four years old, Agnes Escueta has risen from the ranks to become a producer for Sports Tonight. No one can touch her, it seems—not even crush-worthy anchorman Daniel Ferrer, who she gets to work with every single day. When a road trip to Indonesia throws Agnes and Daniel together, they find themselves working in close quarters. It doesn’t take long before Agnes finds herself being charmed by Daniel, and her defenses start to melt with his touch. With deadlines looming and a big game coming, Agnes must figure out how to let Daniel into her life without risking her professional reputation—and without breaking her own heart.

Stella Torres is the author of Save the Cake and the short story “Be Creative” from Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Arts Academy (Vol. 1)). She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature and worked briefly in public relations, but has chosen to pursue her post-graduate studies in the field of education. She loves dark chocolate, hates flyaways, and is constantly in search of comfortable shoes.

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