Book List 102

As promised, here is my 2nd Book List. The 1st one was a list of series. This one will be a list of individual books that I personally can’t help but skim every now and then. I didn’t follow a particular genre while writing this down. This list is a mix of the old, the new, the probable and the impossible. I hope you guys enjoy it and I hope you decide to pick one of the titles up the next time you’re at a bookstore.

“She says nothing at all but simply stares upward into the dark sky and watches with sad eyes, the slow dance of the infinite stars.” – STARDUST

I was lucky enough to have my copy signed by Neil Gaiman when he came to the Philippines.

Stardust is an adventure into a magical, unknown world. A boy, blinded by infatuation, searches for a fallen star in exchange for the heart of the woman he desires. In the end he finds something that will one day be the story of legend. This book was an engaging journey towards love and self-fulfillment. Neil Gaiman definitely DID NOT disappoint.

 

“Zakhor. Al Tichkah. Remember. Never forget.”- SARAH’S KEY

I’m not too crazy about Nazi stories. Not because they’re boring or anything but because my heart can’t seem to take it. Most books in this genre are too graphic or too morbid for me. With an imagination like mine and a story like that, it’s hard not to envision the events evolve clearly in your mind. This was the first Holocaust inspired book I’ve ever read. Although it was mellower (to some extent) compared to other novels in this category, tears still streamed down my face and the scenes still played out so vividly in my head. The pain was so real that I literally had to stop and clear my head a couple of times. Fair warning though, this book was painfully beautiful but very, very specific. Don’t rush into the story though because there’s a lot to take in.

 

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.” – THE SHADOW OF THE WIND

The story begins with a Father and his son and their journey to the Cemetery of Forgotten books. The boy is allowed to choose 1 book from countless shelves and ends up selecting a book that reveals a story, long hidden and almost forgotten. Shadow of the wind taps into all points of interest, from mystery, to murder, to an aching romance that was doomed before it even started. It is a testimony to the power of words and is indeed a page turner. Filled with so many twists and turns, you can’t help but read a little faster, just to find out what’s about to happen next. 🙂

 

“Business is a game, played for fantastic stakes, and you’re in competition with experts. If you want to win, you have to learn to be a master of the game.” – MASTER OF THE GAME

This book starts and ends with a woman named Kate Blackwell. Hers is a story of pain, revenge and manipulation of the highest degree. As the pages turn, you witness the transformation of every character in this story. The book overflows with so many twists and turns that you sometimes need to take a moment to fully process it all. Some characters in this novel become so conniving and their schemes so cunning that you find yourself constantly at the edge of your seat, waiting for their next move. There was never a dull moment whilst I was reading this book. Every page made my heart beat just a little bit faster and my mind just a little bit crazier. Truly a novel of EPIC proportions.

 

“It’s not about how to achieve your dreams, it’s about how to lead your life, … If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you.” – THE LAST LECTURE

I’m not a big fan of self-help books so it took me a while to pick up The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Deciding to finally read this was one of the smartest and best decisions I ever made. In all honesty, this book is probably my favourite. It doesn’t go up on any shelf because it has a special spot on one of the tables beside my bed. What’s so beautiful about this is not the flowery words or the dozens of quotable quotes inserted in each chapter. The beauty is in the fact that all this optimism, all this faith and overpowering love is pouring out of the heart of a dying man. Tears never fail to escape my eyes every time I open this book. It is a testament to the life and the heart of a man so unbelievably special; he touched the lives of millions of people all over the world.

Book List Part 1

As promised, here is my book list. I have been thorough in investigating the contents of my book shelves as well as my kindle. It actually took me some time to debate (with myself) about what titles to put in this list. I have decided to divide this into 2 entries. I have accepted the fact that trying to fit all the titles into this one post will make me sound like a geeky snob. That and, this will take forever to get through if I don’t split it in half. As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t read something unless I enjoyed it. Being an avid reader, you can imagine the books that line my shelves. Fair warning though… I have yet to fully let go of the little kid in me so, some titles on this list may seem “less mature” than others. Then again, it is MY list after all. 🙂

Anyhow, before I delve into the hard hitting books, I’d like to start with a couple of series that literally leave my mouth agape and my mind craving for more until I finish (and sometimes, a little after that) I will no longer be mentioning The Harry Potter series  and The Chronicles of Narnia in detail. If you haven’t gotten around to reading the books yet, you seriously should. And if you have no intentions of reading them at all, then you should have yourself examined. These books make the word EPIC sound more EPIC than it already is (did I make sense just now? Haha.)

So before I find myself rambling on and on, let me start with the list of series and work my way up from there. Here’s to hoping this list encourages at least 1 person to scour the bookstore in search of one of the titles. 🙂

BOOK SERIES 101

Inkheart is a trilogy written by the brilliant Cornelia Funke. This book was a writer’s dream. The characters were so alive and vivid and the setting so fantastic that I felt like I was whisked away to a different world every time I would skim through the pages. The story itself unfolded beautifully in my mind. From the simplest element such as the shape of the clouds, to the more elaborate ones like the characters themselves, every detail was painted out for me with such precision that I never found myself wanting. As I was reading this book, reality blacked out and my imagination went berserk. I kept looking over my shoulder every once in a while just to make sure nothing was popping out of thin air. This trilogy was indeed a delight to experience.

 

The Inheritance Cycle was originally written to be a trilogy but ended up becoming a cycle of 4 books instead. According to some of my friends, the books appear quite intimidating because of how bulky and thick they look. Trust me when I say, there is no part in that cycle that can possibly be omitted. Remove a detail and it ruins the whole story. What I loved most about this series was the variety of interesting characters, both ones that fill your dreams as well as a number of others that feed on your nightmares. It was interesting to see the characters sporting individual personalities inside their own races and circles.This book left me hanging for 3 years so you can imagine how ecstatic I was to finally see it in the bookstore. Needless to say, I swiped that copy right off the shelf. Now that the cycle has officially ended, it would be the best time to read all of the books. This will make for an interesting read. 🙂

 

The series “The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel” was the reason why I had to adjust my reading time from the evening’s, to almost the entire day. I just sat in one corner and completely lost myself to the story. I thought it was rather ironic how I enjoyed the books so much. I asked a friend of mine to read the summary and she looked back at me and said, this series sounds like a modern day history book (if only history class could be that interesting). Honestly, I wasn’t much of a history buff back in the day (still not too crazy about it at present). I guess that’s what I loved about this series, the way Michael Scott (the author) was able to incorporate the old and twist it into something new was absolutely amazing to me. Unfortunately, there’s still one book left before the series officially ends. Still, these books were unbelievable page turners. I loved every second of it. 😀

 

I have yet to meet a person, young or old, that did not enjoy reading The Hunger Games. This was a unique story illustrating a dystopian society where the elitist government continuously abuses the people. This story had its fair share of unexpected twists. I loved how the author decided to use children as the main characters. It added a particular flare to the already interesting and engaging series.   For the people who like thrilling and action-packed stories, Hunger Games is practically marinated in it. It’s appealing to both those who enjoy an engaging plot-line that tackles the mind, as well as those that are looking for a good (yet uncommon) love story that taps the reserves of the heart.

 

NOTE: I want to thank my brother for sharing his insights on all the series I listed above. 🙂 I promise to start working on the 2nd Book List soon, till then I leave you with a beautiful quote from Hazel Rochman, “Reading takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” CHEERS! 😀

Livin in the Movies!!!

One of my followers sent me a message the other day, asking me to recommend some books and movies that she should consider looking up. I don’t claim to be an expert or anything. I read books and watch movies that I genuinely enjoy. If you’re the type who enjoys cowboy movies or one’s that have long dialogues and detailed explanations… Then I’m probably not the best person to ask because I wouldn’t know what to tell you. That being said, I don’t actually follow a specific genre. If it looks interesting, chances are, I’ll end up checking it out. If I don’t like it, well… it isn’t very difficult to stop the movie or permanently shelf the book (or in some cases, I give them away to someone who would actually pick it up and enjoy it)

So as not to make this entry seem like the 1st chapter to a never-ending novel, I will start with a list of 5 movies then work the book list into another post. 🙂 I promise to work on the book list just as soon as I dot my I’s and cross my T’s in this movie entry.

Let’s start….

“I believe in music the way that some people believe in fairy tales.” – August Rush

I’m a musician, literally and figuratively speaking (I’m currently a student at the UST Conservatory of Music.) To say I was amazed at the kid would be an understatement. I was completely floored and in absolute awe of his talents. I toil and trudge through my music classes (theory and solfeggio) every single day. To watch this child process music like Einstein would Science was completely mind-blowing. I don’t want to spoil the movie for those who actually want to watch it, so let me just say that this film was an absolute joy. There was so much faith, hope and candid love that you can’t help but smile every now and then. AWESOME pick me up movie! 😀

WARNING: This next movie will be a contradiction to my previous statement of not liking films with long, detailed dialogues.

” If I am King, where is my power? Can I declare war? Form a government? Levy a tax? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority because they think that when I speak, I speak for them.” – The King’s Speech

Like I said earlier, I do not particularly enjoy movies that do nothing but talk incessantly. To be perfectly honest, I started watching the film because I personally believe that Colin Firth oozes talent and Helena Bonham Carter is just flat out brilliant. However, as the film progressed, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the witty banter among the characters. It was interesting to witness just how difficult remedying a speech impediment was. I was also fairly amused at how unorthodox the methods of the therapist were. If you’d like to watch something that makes you think, is very interesting and can make you chuckle every once in a while, this movie has all that plus a little something extra. 🙂

“I want you to look in the mirror and find something you’ve never had the courage to say before” – The Art of Getting By

I wasn’t aware that I was a fan of Freddie Highmore. Then I realized that in this movie list, he’s appeared twice already. I guess that does make me a fan of sorts. Anyhow, I found this movie rather fascinating. Why? Because it was so simple yet so honest. I loved how George (the main character) was able to portray how nonchalant yet incredibly talented he was without coming off as arrogant. I also loved how the story evolved with the characters and how each character was able to grown into his/her own skin at the end. I guess every teen goes through a variation of the “Everything seems meaningless” phase, probably not as extreme as this one, but similar. Despite the clichés of regular teen drama, this was a light but beautiful film that I absolutely enjoyed.

“What truly is logic? Who decides reason? My quest has taken me to the physical, the metaphysical, the delusional, and back. I have made the most important discovery of my career – the most important discovery of my life. It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reason can be found. I am only here tonight because of you. You are the only reason I am. You are all my reasons.” – A Beautiful Mind

This movie speaks for itself. It tests your mind, your body as well as your heart. This man was a dreamer in EVERY sense of the word and more.  He searched for answers and ran into more questions along the way. He got lost in every way possible. The beauty of this film comes from his journey towards finding himself, understanding the problem, picking up the pieces and mending his life. I thought this movie was intoxicating as well as moving. Intoxicating in a way that makes you think and moving because of all the pain he goes through. What is more touching is him being able to find someone who accepted him, flaws and all. This film was utterly complex and had a lot of surprising twists in the beginning, the middle as well as the end.

“Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.” – THE LORD OF THE RINGS

I will now allow the geekier side of me to seep through as I reveal the final “MUST WATCH” film (or in this case, films) on my list. You know how they say the books are always better than the movies? Well, I must say that, although the books were more detailed, the movies were pretty kickass! After 8 years, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how vivid they were able to paint the scenes of this film. It was all that I dreamed it would be, times infinity (what a dorky way of putting it. Haha.) I loved the adventure and the thrill of seeing the movie unfold. If you haven’t seen these flicks yet (just in case you didn’t know, there are 3)… You are seriously missing half of your life. 😛

NOTE: For those who aren’t aware yet, THE HOBBIT (also written by J.R.R Tolkien) will be released December of this year. Here’s a sneak peak aka the trailer via youtube. ENJOY! 😀

Once upon a time…

As a kid, I distinctly remember saying that I couldn’t wait to grow up (I said it more than once actually). I saw all of these amazing things around me and I met so many fascinating people along the way that it literally took me a while to process it all. Still, I was beyond captivated. I looked at life from a different perspective. As a child, I looked at the world through rose-tinted glasses. All I saw were the wonders, the beauty that this world had to offer me. There was only that, and nothing else. I remember thinking, “One day, I’ll end up doing everything and so much more.”

I grew up watching Disney movies. Needless to say, there was a point in my life when I thought I’d get anything I wanted just by wishing and dreaming for it. . I was a little kid. I didn’t know any better. All that was running through my mind was, if stories like this ended up in the magic box with magical moving pictures, then that’s good enough for me. I was so caught up in the fantasy that I painted. I refused to grow up gradually. When I finally realized I had to, I was literally thrown into reality. Now I see how unreasonable some of my thoughts were (trust me, I’ve contemplated my fair share of outrageous things). Disney is great and all (great is an understatement. Disney is AWESOME! 😀 ) but I mean really… The day I see Aladdin, Quasimodo and Tarzan plop down on a chair in Algebra class is the day I become Princess of Atlantis. It’s just NOT going to happen. Sometimes I think it would be easier to stand up to some evil, witchy stepmother and fight my way to a happily ever after.

As I got older, I’ve given up on wishing on the 1st star I see at night. I’ve also stopped believing that Prince Charming will one day rescue me from the clutches of an evil villain (in the real world, villains are associated with psycho teachers, messed up pedestrians and people who seriously need an attitude adjustment.)

Life is life. It’s real and it’s in your face. Yes it’s wonderful (most of the time,) but I’ve learned to accept that it won’t always be long walks in the park and picturesque picnics in the meadows of Lala Land. As Maroon 5 said, “It’s not always rainbows and butterflies. It’s compromise that moves us along” We don’t live in a fairytale. It’s not about true love’s kiss or the promise of forever (although a deal like that doesn’t sound half bad. 🙂 ). In the end, the deciding factor will always be the choices you made in the past. You hold all the cards. It’s how you play the game that determines your future.

At 23, I find myself gazing back at the little girl who thought she held the world in the palm of her hand. I’m still a dreamer in all aspects. I still cook up some impossible scenarios every now and then. I still get amazed at the things that catch my fancy and I still meet so many riveting and beautiful people every day. The only difference is my perspectives have changed. I have changed… I’ve learned to accept life as it is and not turn it into something fictional. Life may be hard and my paths may turn bumpy at times but I can still have my Happily Ever After. I just have to make it through my dark forests first. 😉

Guilty Pleasures

Everyone has guilty pleasures. Some people are hooked on afternoon soap operas, others love pickles with ice cream (trust me, I have a friend who just LOVES the stuff) and still others read those cheesy romance pocketbooks that have half naked couples plastered on the front cover and are 60-80 pages long (again a friend of mine swears by them) Regardless, everyone has a “deep dark secret” they would rather keep hidden from the world. Not because they don’t enjoy it. Given the chance, they’d probably waste the day away indulging themselves. They hide it because they’re embarrassed. (Not exactly mortified but embarrassed nonetheless)

There will always be people who won’t agree with your tastes. Some might think you’re boring and others might just label you as weird. As much as I would like to think I can do no wrong when it comes to the books I read and the shows I watch, I have to say that I too have guilty pleasures. I have labelled them as such because, as much as I love them and know that a lot of other people (mostly women) are enamoured by them, my friends aren’t as crazy about them as I am. In fact, most (if not all) aren’t even interested. My guilty pleasures are Vampire stories. I was hooked on the Twilight series for the longest time. I kept reading and re-reading the books until I felt like my eyes were going to pop out of their sockets. (I’ve outgrown them though. I only read them once a month now. 🙂 ) I’m gaga about the House of Night series and I was crazy about the Vampire Academy books as well. (Crap! I’m getting geekier and geekier by the second.) I also admit to being hopelessly in love with Damon Salvatore from the Vampire Diaries and I did follow the 1st season of True Blood. Basically, I have become your typical bandwagon fanatic.

Being true to my fanatic title… I have made a poem (YES a poem!) It’s in the supposed perspective of Damon from Vamp Diaries (again I reiterate my hopeless devotion to a fictional character.) To those who don’t watch the Vamp Diaries and haven’t figured it out yet, Damon is a vampire.

So to all the haters, hate away. I couldn’t care less. To all my fellow crusaders (it sounded more regal 🙂 ), may you find some sort of enjoyment from this entry. And to my family, who will inevitably be reading this post, please don’t disown me. 😀

TIMELESS

Running late, I’m out of time
The joys of childhood forever sublime
Hundreds of moons sink and rise to the sky
The truth I can no longer deny

You see it in my eyes, the stories of old
The legend of ages too impossible to behold
Yet seeing is not always to believe
For the eyes are just as easily deceived

A touch will not completely suffice
For everything, one must pay a certain price
I live my life forever alone
A heart that once beat, now turns to stone

I keep the beast locked deep inside
Reality and fiction border on the great divide
Buried under thousands of years
Only able to weep crystal tears

I cannot give in to the thirst I feel
What I am shouldn’t even be real
A thousand more lives as a monster in the night
My fate is sealed… I no longer wish to fight.

Taking it all in…

Two years ago, one rainy afternoon (and I swear, I am not making this up) I was struck by the need to write poetry. Usually I dive into creating poems that talk about heartache and love. Needless to say, writing under this genre was (and still is) the easiest for me. Probably because I’ve never actually been in love, I base my poetry solely on the stuff I read about in books or on the sob stories my friends tell me over a cup of coffee or sometimes a bottle of beer (or two) Trust me, when you have zero experience, it takes some of the edge off. There’s no pressure. That day however, I felt like I needed to write something different. Instead of writing one entire poem, I decided to dabble on writing several 1 stanza poems.

Earlier that week, I watched a documentary on high school kids. It was a tell-tale on the problems that each student had to face every day in school. There was so much drama; drama that teenagers shouldn’t have to deal with.  They interviewed various teens from different cliques and were able to unearth a lot of hidden emotions. I guess no matter who you are or where you come from, at the end of the day, you end up facing the same emotional demons. I started writing, editing, erasing, trashing and writing again. Basically, I played one-on-one basketball with my trash bin until I felt like I did justice to the story. 2 days later, I came up with 7 single stanza poems. My hope is that one day, by some miracle, one of the kids from the documentary will come across these poems and realize that somewhere in the world, somebody still listens to what they have to say.

I gaze from the side, wanting to belong
Various images flood my frazzled mind
Inside I know I have to be strong
One day the world will no longer be blind.
-The Outcast-

I grin with an absentminded smile
Wishing I could be anywhere but here
Tired of living a life of denial
Aching for some semblance of something real
-The Popular One-

I see you happy with someone else
Something in me shatters like glass
Knowing that will never be me
What we had now belongs in the past
-The Heartbroken-

I cannot love, I cannot be free
Judging eyes watch my every move
I don’t know who I’m allowed to be
So much to learn, so much to prove
-The Homosexual-

Rivers that reflect the allure of the moon
Earth, air, fire and water combined
Flowers come alive to the music of June
A kaleidoscope world that exists in my mind
-The Dreamer-

I create new worlds with paper and ink
Stories straight from remnants of a dream
Fantastic adventures come alive
Everything’s surreal, nothing is as it seems
-The Writer-

Endless corridors of empty spaces
Shadows bounce against the light
Images from different times and places
Consumed by darkness I can no longer fight
-The Addict-

You will always be a part of me…

Losing someone you love may just be the most painful experience you will ever have to go through. In some way, it feels like you’re losing part of yourself. Yes, time fades and wounds close, but forever may pass you by yet those wounds may never fully heal. There will always be a scar. A nostalgic, special memory eternally locked away somewhere in the center of your heart.

My great-grandfather passed away 6 years ago. He was the most incredible man in the world. His heart was so full of love despite his having to go through harsh times in his early years. His devotion to the people dearest to his heart was staggering. It was amazing to see how one man, so capable of conquering the world, was happy and content to watch his friends and family take the limelight. He was so respected and was put on such a high pedestal that he seemed quite impossible to reach. As time passed, I saw him remove each and every block so that he would never have to be superior to anyone else. He saw everyone as his equal, everyone was his friend. It’s funny… you would think that because there were so many of us, one was bound to feel less important than the other. I still don’t know how he did it but, his love was so immense, so absolute, that it was able to embrace all of us. I remember him telling me at one point that the world had to share half of his heart because the other half had already been given away a long time ago. My great-grandmother was his world. In his eyes reflected the love he was never afraid to show. I asked him once how their love story started, he looked at me and simply said, “I was a lost man, but she changed me. She was my salvation” (Coincidentally, my great-grandmother’s name was Salvacion)

I wrote this poem approximately 4 months after he died. I admit it was a hard blow. 6 years later, I still feel like I’m missing a piece of me. That’s the thing about real love, once you give it away, you can replace it, but it will never be the same.  Tears still slip from my eyes when I think of him. I have learned to accept the things that I cannot change. I have let go but I will never ever forget…

IN MEMORY OF YOU

When I was a kid I would stare up at you
And marvel at the things that you could do
You took me in your arms and stood proud and tall
You were the superhero of one so small

You tucked me in when I went to bed
Sweet dreams little girl was all you said
I’d smile at you as you kissed me good night
A lingering promise of another morning light

Though I grew older, a child you’d still see
Your little baby princess would still be me
With you I could act silly and never pretend
For me the laws of gravity I know you will bend

When I had a problem I’d always run to you
A few witty quotes and I’d no longer be blue
You’d smile and tell me there’s always a reason why
You’d wipe away my tears and tell me not to cry

You were my true best friend you see
With you I knew I could always be me
You knew me well both inside and out
With you I’d find comfort and lose all doubt

That’s why goodbye was so hard to say
I still ask myself why God took you away
I miss you more each passing day
In my heart your memory will stay

I love you and you know it’s true
You’re gone now and there’s nothing I can do

YOU SAID:

“Be still sad heart and cease your pining
Behind the clouds, the sun is still shining!”

Thank you for everything and so much more
When I think of you it makes my heart soar
You will always be a part of me
The sweetest note in my life’s melody…