Summing up and smooth escapes…

These past few days have been a whirlwind of activities so forgive me for not being able to check-in sooner. So much to do yet so little time to do it all. *sigh* 🙂

A lot has happened the past 7 days (warning bells clanging in your head.) Before you click that red X on the upper right hand corner of your screen, let me ease your mind by saying I won’t go blabbering about every single detail. I’d rather not have brain dead readers who don’t really care about what I had for lunch this past week (because none of them have really been a feast for the eyes) or about the fact that I executed the tree pose (for non yoga fans like myself, that’s apparently a basic yoga posture) for a full 3 minutes before I toppled over. 🙂

3 key points to this week. I’ve basically divided my time studying for finals (and I see my Mom rolling her eyes as she is reading this 😛 ) hanging out with friends and family and indulging my sudden voracious appetite for reading. To sum it all up, the days have come and gone without any major hitches. For that, I am beyond grateful. 🙂

 

To elaborate on the subject of reading and of just how starved I’ve been for books, in the 7 days since my last entry, I have gone through 3 “no brainer” novels and I have just started on my 4th one 30 minutes ago. Now before any of you fly off the handle about my “no brainer” comment, I’d just like to point out that I don’t mean anything bad by it. Quite the contrary actually. To me, “no brainer” novels translate to pick-me-up books for when I want to just plop down on a comfy chair with a cup of coffee, zone out and read the day away. At the risk of sounding shallow, I have to admit, I rather enjoy carefree moments like that. 🙂

To end this long overdue entry, I leave you with some fun quotes that I’ve encountered these past 7 days. I hope you enjoy them and I’ll see you all on the flip side! CHEERS! 😀

“Remember, it’s always better to be the smartass rather than the dumbass.”

 

“Experience is something you get… after you need it.”

 

“Learn from the mistakes of others you won’t have time to make them all your self”

 

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No shame in being POTTER-fied!!!

It was approximately 13 years ago when I first picked up Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Being a 10 year old kid (at the time) of a Mom who flies to and from London almost every year, I always, ALWAYS looked forward to the little presents she’d bring back. 23 years later (which is my current age. My brother apparently thinks I should make my age clearer), she has yet to disappoint (which I doubt she will.) The first 3 books of the Harry Potter series however, was probably one of, if not THE BEST gift she ever brought back.

I’m a Harry Potter kid and I hold no shame in that. Some of my friends call me geeky or nerdy. At the beginning, I would have Petrificus Totalus-ed the hell out of them but I’ve learned to live with it. 🙂 I don’t really get what the big whoop is anyway. Some people love Anime, some people are Trekies and there are the Star Wars Nerds (which I am a part of as well) but Harry Potter is, by far, my biggest obsession.

 

Do I re-read the series? HELL YEAH! It’s still my favorite of the bunch. Yeah I love to read and I’ve gone through quite a few books in my time (including a handful of great series) but HP still holds a special place in my heart. 😀

That being said, I’m embarrassed to say that it took me almost 4 years after the release of the last Harry Potter book to actually pick up that final novel. We bought the book the first week it was released and yet I read it just before Deathly Hallows Part 1 came out in theatres. My brother (an equally emphatic Potter lover) literally started reading the minute the novel fell into his clutches. I, on the other hand, refuse to succumb to temptation. Little by little, spoilers started popping up here and there. By the end of the 1st month, I basically knew the gist of the entire book.

Was I disappointed? Not really. I can’t expect the whole world to stop spinning just because I refused to pick up that final book. Besides, I’d like to think that I interpret things a tad bit differently than other people so I may just dig up something from the story that others haven’t (this was the arrogant side of me.) If you’re curious to find out if I did find something amazingly new… The answer would be… Probably not. Haha. 😀

Fellow Potter lovers asked me why I put off reading the book for so long. In all honesty, I put it off because I refused to let that era end. Yes it ended world-wide but, maybe if I didn’t read it, time would stop for me and this particular part of my life would freeze. The kid in me (actually, even the adult side of me) refused to let go. Unfortunately, my postponing of the last novel did not stop Dobby from dying nor did it bring Dumbledore back to life. The world went on and somewhere along the way, I realized that I had to too. So a week before the movie was due out, I picked up the book and I started to read.

 

Tears were spilled and my heart ached not just because of untimely deaths but because of the inevitable end to my personal Wizarding World. I felt like I was losing a part of myself that I was trying so hard to hang on to. I was losing so much more than just a book. I was letting go of the thing that gave so much life and excitement to my imagination. I was parting ways with these fictional characters I’ve come to label as friends. 😦

To J.K. Rowling I say, thank you for filling my head with all of these fantastic thoughts. They may be fictional (or are they?! 😛 ) but they’ve become part of some of my best childhood memories. Thank you for being such a wonderful blessing.

To Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest of the gang I say, thank you for taking me with you on all of your adventures (as if you had much of a choice.) I’ve grown up imagining your world and, at some point, I wanted to live in it with all of you. Thank you for giving me such joy in the simplest of things and for highlighting how important family and friends are in life. It’s been a great ride and I will forever be grateful.

This isn’t a goodbye. Years from now, if and when I am blessed with my own kids, they’ll get to share in Harry’s adventures too. By that time I’m sure authors will think of some other character to fill their pages and they’ll be some other world so fantastic that it’ll fill the dreams of the next generation. For me though, it’ll never change…

It’ll always be HARRY POTTER. 😀

Harry Potter: Is this all real..? Or is it just happening inside my head?

Professor Dumbledore: Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry. But why then should it mean that it’s not real?”

The BBC Book Challenge

I’ve never actually heard of a reading challenge. It was a friend of mine who told me about this checklist posted on goodreads.com. For fun, I decided to mark the ones that I’ve already read. My brain couldn’t seem to comprehend that was the whole point of a book challenge, to tick the ones you’ve already read until you’ve completed the whole list. 😀 I’ve still got a couple of books left on my list but, here’s what I have so far… (The ones in bold are the ones I’ve already read since I have no idea how to change the color of the fonts… 🙂 )

THE BBC CHALLENGE…

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 (some but not in its entirety)

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
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot – maybe
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
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 – AA 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
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
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
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – 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
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – 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 – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Alborn
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad started but never finished
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adam
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

So far, I have succeeded in reading 45 books on this list… Hopefully I get to tick some more off before this year is over… CHEERS! 😀

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! 😀

Not Everything Needs To Make Sense

I was never one for sad and/or sappy stories (because they can be both and then some…) Back in the day, I would mock girls who’d watch schmaltzy movies and read about star-crossed lovers destined to be together by fate (this excludes Romeo and Juliet for obvious reasons) You remember those… The stories that usually ended with one dying and the other re-living the life they once had together (sniff, sniff, sob sob) Why on earth would you want to put yourself through all that heartache? There’s enough sadness in the real world to go around so why do we have to watch and read about it too?!

This was of course, the cynic in me. Years later, (meaning now) because I believe myself to be more learned and more mature, (or so I think, but I could be wrong) I have come to realize that stories like that aren’t as horrid as I believed them to be. Sure they only happen to 1 out of 30 couples (give or take) but still, they happen.

Earlier tonight I caught the end part of Dear John on the telly. I wasn’t hysterically sobbing or anything (because that would just be stupid) but I did find myself unusually melancholic at some part and, to be honest, a few tears did escape my eyes a couple of times (okay fine, I may have needed a Kleenex or two.) I guess no matter how tough you try and make yourself out to be, your walls will come crumbling down eventually.Some call it feelings, I call it a lapse in judgement (Just kidding! I’m not heartless people)

So if you will permit (just being polite. You don’t really have much of a choice.) I shall be handing in my 2 cents worth on the subject of love. (I promise to raise it to 5 cents if and when love comes a’knockin)

1) Love pulls you in so many drastic directions. Either you’re rocketing to, through, over and under the moon, bored out of your mind or plummeting to the ground at 300 mph. (if I missed something, feel free to let me know.)

2) Love is cryptic. A simple wink could mean the world. Some people can go through their entire lives without directly telling somebody that they love them but apparently feeling like that somebody is their sun, moon and stars.

3) Love is beautiful in so many amazing ways. Yeah it can be painful but you gotta remember that nothing is perfect in life. Even the most wonderful things have their flaws. The trick is to erase the blemishes and magnify the awesomeness 10 fold.

4) Love is giving yourself completely and without question. Sometimes it doesn’t always make sense and it doesn’t always have to. Some of the best things in life are unfathomable.

5) Love is above both reality and imaginary. LOVE JUST IS…

So yeah, we all live in the REAL world where we encounter REAL people with REAL problems and REAL broken hearts (figuratively speaking). But who’s to say that falling in love and living happily ever after isn’t real too? Love, just like life, is how we make it out to be. When it comes to love, walls and barriers break quicker than glass.

Now I end this entry with some words from good ‘ol Mr. HD Thoreau:

There is no remedy for love but to love more

Dear John...

"When his eyes met mine, I felt something click, like a key turning in a lock. Believe me, I'm no romantic, and while I've heard all about love at first sight, I've never believed in it, and I still don't. But even so, there was something there, something unrecognizably real, and I couldn't look away."