Friday, July 31, 2015

Book: Me Before You (Me Before You, #1) by Jojo Moyes

I accidentally came across Jojo Moyes' Me Before You while browsing through Goodreads' regular newsletter. It was listed under Best Beach Reads of 2015. I got intrigued by the somewhat minimalist cover design. And when I looked it up online, I was amazed at how hugely popular it was. Why people voted for this to be a 'beach read'? I have no idea. (Why people would want to be a sobbing mess in a beach, with its azure skies and cool waters... I have no idea either.) But in any case, I did bit into it. AND OH MY GOD, what a wonderful experience it has been.


Book Blurb:
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.
(via Goodreads)

Words cannot describe how much this book means to me. This is not your typical chick lit. Heck, I can't even categorize it as strictly 'chick lit'. It's not even your ordinary romance book, either. It's a complex book which is so much more than the genres we restrict it to. It's about life... living the life, getting a life, or just even missing THE life. It taught me so much about myself and the way I lived my life till now that I can never in a million years get without maybe reading this book. It shook me and questioned me on what the hell am I doing in my life right now.

Am I happy with the way things are at the moment?
Am I playing it too safe?
Are the things I am doing right now worthy to be given my limited time?

And yes, this book managed to draw out huge things from me in a span of 300+ pages. The thing is... it's so easy to get caught up with everything and pass up with all the opportunities to truly live our lives. We often seem to choose to ignore the fact that life is short -- and it is indeed. So very few of us realize it and just go on with their lives just going with the flow. Safe, secured -- sheltered.

Too much realizations, gaah.

Anyway, the real star of this books (at least, for me) was none other than Will Traynor. He's witty, he's charming, he's a real stunner (if you know what I mean) -- he has all the characteristics becoming of a fictional literary boyfriend (he's in my list, tbh). But for me, the thing that sets Will apart from most fictional guys that I've read so far is that he's a realist. I can't say that I fully understand him choosing the things he chose, but I get his point. His chemistry with Lou was palpable. Sometimes, I find myself consciously making an effort not to skip pages to where there maybe a dialogue between the two. It was such a fun to behold, especially with the light scenes. I like the way he call Lou 'Clark'. I love how Louisa, somehow, shuts him up with Will be like 'you got a point'. I am so in love with their crazy banters, and I spent so much time re-reading and re-reading everything until I get tired -- which was pretty much a very long time. I love them together it's not even funny.

Drowning in my own feels.
(c) Tumblr
I remember shutting the door of my room, and reading those last few chapters in silence -- taking in all the acceptance and resignation that all the characters in those last few pages are feeling, mirroring my own. There was the occasional choking up, and the sniffing game was strong during that time.After reading this, my emotions are all over the place. But luckily, I held my own. It was just emotionally exhausting, but overall, it was really worth it

I love how reading this was such an emotional roller coaster for me. One minute I was giggling at Lou and Will's witty banters, the next I am down in the dumps realizing how sad the situation was. Real art is supposed to make you feel something (ahem, Park Sheridan, ahem). And if those are not indication of real, great art... then I don't know what is.

This book was created with such realness it hurts just even realizing it. Well this does not, in the first place, promise a happy ending -- but that did not lessen the intensity of the blow any bit. It was certainly something to remember.

And though maybe I would never fully understand some choices made during the course of its narrative, I wouldn't have it any other way. It was real as it was painful -- and surprisingly, there's none of that empty feeling you have when you read a book or watched something that's just sad. It was warm and it made me smile (despite the tears). It was like letting something dear to you go with complete acceptance -- painful, but you know it was necessary.

My Rating: ★★★ (5 out of 5 stars)

First book this year to get a 5 from me. Need I say more? No this is not a 'too-caught-up-in-the-moment' kind of rating. It's just that good. Here's a book that would really stay with you long after you read it. Definitely recommended, a hundred times over! Oh, Will Traynor.

Here's the book trailer, for your reference.
I've been posting about it on my social media accounts that many took notice of and, voila: book recommendations galore.

Quotable Quotes:
(Be prepared for so much after the jump! I've already filtered it at this point, believe me.)
The thing about being catapulted into a whole new life - or at least, shoved up so hard against someone else's life that you might as well have your face pressed against their window - is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are. Or how you might seem to other people.

"I just... want to be a man who has been to a concert with a girl in a red dress. Just for a few minutes more." 
"You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible." - Will Traynor 
"Some mistakes... just have greater consequences than others. But you don't have to let that night be the things that defines you." I felt his head tilt against mine. "You, Clark, have the choice not to let that happen." 
'Sometimes, Clark, you are pretty much the only thing that makes me want to get up in the morning.'

And then he smiled. It was lovely, his smile -- a slow thing, full of recognition. 
Do you know how hard it is to say nothing? When every atom of you strains to do the opposite?

'You're going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. It always does feel strange to be knocked out of your comfort zone. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Your face when you came back from diving that time told me everything; there is a hunger in you, Clark. A fearlessness. You just buried it, like most people do.
Aye. Forever noted, ser.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Life in Squares: Week 1 (07.19-25.2015)

I am starting a new series called "Life in Squares" wherein I chronicle the going-ons of my past week through series of pictures a.k.a my Instagram posts. I know you've heard the title somewhere, and this may seem unoriginal (or, for some, a bit corny) but this is just me trying to atone for my mistake of turning this blog into a lifeless space in the interweb. This is me trying to be get involved once again - to show my readers, if there is even one, that there is still a live, human girl behind this blog.

In this fast-paced world that we are in right now, it's so easy to be caught up with short-form expressions of one's own thoughts. Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Heck, I do admit that I've been more active in short-form media these days seemingly abandoning this blog that I've put my all in the past few years of my difficult life. But long-form blogging still have this charm I can never deny.

So enough of the trivialities, here goes:

cJuly 19 - 25, 2015

(L to R, T to B)

1. My sister and I tried this really cool place back at home called "The Backyard Food Truck Community". I was looking forward to the coffee during that time but it was just okay and the food was nice. It kinda looks like a hippster-ish kind of hangout place so it was awesome and a breath of fresh air, honestly. We sat on a table located just outside where you can see an ongoing live-art performance and an outdoor cinema featuring some NatGeo clips when I happen to snap a picture of their cool chandelier. It was made of plastic, cheap-looking at some angles -- but it was definitely nice to look at. I captioned it with a sentence from pleasefindthis' I Wrote This For You:

"So you look for patterns because that's what humans do to try and make sense of things."

2. Eating Korean Ice Cream never felt this good. Yum. Gone shopping to replenish some supplies at home, and it's really nice to just hang out at the mall bleachers after a good long walk, just observing people who pass by, and eating good food. Chocolate never failed to cheer me up.

3. I purchased Abby Sy's The ABCs of Hand Lettering one random day at the nearest Ministop. I was determined to have a new hobby during my slack days back then. And this is me trying it out for the first time while nursing my broken #feels because of my Me Before You hangover.
"Live boldly. Push yourself. Don't settle." - Will Traynor, Me Before You
4. This is what you get when you're reading a magazine in the middle of the night and you suddenly feel your creative juice flowing. Lol. By the time I was finished, I cut off nearly all I liked in that issue it was basically murdered. Anyway, it's nice to finally update my BDJ Dream Board. Haven't actually pasted it though.

5. Okay. So I was too caught up with my book hangover that I actually went to the nearest Fullybooked to look for a physical copy of Jojo Moye's Me Before You ( I only read it in .epub) to just outright feel it. As expected, it was so nice to just stare at the glory of the printed words (Will Traynor's letter. In print. #creys) since I was too broke that time for the life of me. Maybe next time. Haha. The #bookwormfeels are strong.

6.-7. I've been doing client work at Intramuros for a couple of days now. But this was the first time that I actually made the effort to climb that wall and marvel at its timeless feel. So, armed with my new trusty companion (Blackberry Q10's amazeballs camera), explore and walk I did. It was so picturesque, for some reason -- maybe the charm of all things vintage and old has not lost its charm to me. I enjoyed it so much that I even made something out of it:
These cobblestoned streets witnessed
more than we could ever see
for ourselves.
8. Attended the Feast Manila's second sesh after a looooong while! For a time now, this place has been such a breathing space for me -- and I feel like everytime I attend a session, I am being renewed. It is so awesome worshipping the Lord especially when you're sorrounded by people who are so much more passionate about this more than you could ever be or hope for. It is always pretty liberating -- and always worth all the trouble of commuting and braving through Manila's perpetually jampacked streets. #TFMForever

9. Random strolling in a bookstore with a camera in hand leads to totally instragrammable quotes and book shots. Yeah, yeah. Who else find this cute? Ah, the quirks of unrequited feelings.

So that's me. (VSCO Cam did a pretty good job making my shots look extra appealing. Yosh.)

And while my tweets are currently protected, I recently changed the privacy setting of my Instagram account -- so now, it's for public consumption. Though this whole "privacy setting" ruled my life for like months, I do think there's no point to it since I'm not really posting any crucial personal information to begin with. So yeah, here's my Instagram account: @rzzzp. Just follow away! :)

Till next week. - R.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Book: Death Wish (Ceruleans, #1) by Megan Tayte

Hear 'ye, folks! It's been a while. Here's another book post brought to you by Death Wish by Megan Tayte.

(Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book from the author herself on a read-to-review basis.)


First things first, that cover is absolutely breathtaking.

I know it may sound a bit morbid, but books dealing with anything about death has such a special place in  my heart just because. That's why when I read the book blurb, it immediately got my attention. Not to mention this is the first time in such a long while since I've read anything paranormal. And since this is a paranormal romance -- and YA, to boot -- I'm instantly sold.

Book Blurb:

Death Wish is the first of the five books in the Cerulean series -- which is a "paranormal romance set in a world where angels walk among us". (To know more about them, click here.)This book revolves around a teenager named Scarlett Blake, who, after the death of her sister Sienna, set out to their hometown to unravel the mystery surrounding the sudden event. There she'll meet many people including a boy who'll open up her heart, a new friend who will comfort her, and a mysterious grey-eyed boy.. and with it, she'll discover secrets, to her world and even with her identity.. that will shake the very core of what she was made to believe.

Whew. Quite heavy, but very intriguing indeed.

First off, the beginning. Those first sentences, first words, that're supposed to grab a reader's attention and make them decide to go for it.
"Waves everywhere, swirling, surging, seething – a raging melange of foam and salt and inky water biting at me, pulling at me, thrusting upon me a solitary invitation: Death."
It's not the best first sentence I've read (Hello "Love in the Time of Cholera", "Hard Love").. but it pulls you in -- and get pulled I did. I dived (pun intended) into this expecting paranormal all over (it's been a while, as I've said, so yeah, no judging) but there were moments in the book, particularly the first half, when I felt that it could do a lot more of that element.

Tayte's writing is lyrical as it is relatable. I love how it can get easy-going to heavy in such a fluid motion. I'm a sucker for book quotes -- not strictly those that could stand alone, but also those that can only be understood and can affect you once you read the book and followed its journey.

Here're some examples:
"There was a moment of stillness inside, and then the dam broke, I wondered how, after all these weeks, there could be any tears left."
How there could be no enough tears, no enough missing. How you think you've moved on but the truth is you just got better in handling it. You don't break down anymore -- at least, less frequently.
"Sometimes I even convinced myself I could still feel her out there, in the way i had always felt her -- sad or happy, angry or frightened -- our whole lives. But she was gone, i knew that."
That state of denial -- even if you already knew, at the pit of your stomach, the sad truth that you can never bring that person back.
"I thought of Sienna, lying beneath the grass at my feet, and then I thought of her watching me from above. I looked up, I smiled."
That acceptance and letting go. :)

I thought reading through the "normal" parts of the books would be a bore... but no, it has been a continuing journey of revisiting emotions long gone and long understood. And it warmed me up and made me happy at realizing how far I've come. Without realizing it, reading through this book easily turned into a personal experience in itself -- and that's one of the things I love about reading.

It was such a wonderful experience witnessing how Scarlett came to terms with what happened to her sister... and somewhere along the way, I can feel her emotions mirroring my own. First person POVs are the best, really.

And the romance! I must admit that it was a bit predictable at first, but the emotional connection of the two built around mutual experiences about loss and comforting gestures was such a wonder to behold. It was easy, not forced -- natural.
"I fell, and I didn't want to be saved."
I'm literally writing this review with Ed Sheeran's Kiss Me on loop! -- and it gives me the goosies remembering that romantic atmosphere and the way Scarlett said it. I was in love with their love.

But in time, I was also intrigued with Jude -- the mysterious, grey-eyed guy that holds the key to most of Scarlett's questions. There came a time when my imagination was too busy formulating how a love story could brew from these two -- but I got too caught up, and before I knew it, things are progressing and I'm left confused I don't even know what to think anymore.

Reading through this book was a breeze. Paranormal romance has not been a staple genre in my reads, but I must admit that this is quite good. The concept, the idea. And though the 1st book gives us too vague, or even too little of the information to which the whole Cerulean series revolves, it is comforting to note that there're still 4 books left to make it a complete story altogether. This first book focuses on how Scarlett (and the reader, I guess) was introduced to that other world.

While the ending was too much of a cliffhanger, it raised the anticipation to read the next book, Forget Me Not, in the series. I myself cannot wait to get a hold of the next one. Definitely recommended!

My Rating: ★★★☆ (3 out of 5 stars)

Quotable Quotes:

"It's the getting back on each time you fall off that counts." Luke
"What seems to us a sunset is a sunrise in another land" Sienna's cenotaph 
"Any truth is better that indefinite doubt." Scarlett 
"Note to self: when feeling good, steer clear of contact with anyone who can change that." 
"That my little white dress was having a little black-dress effect on you?" LOL.
And finally,

"Head up, shoulders back, chest out, take no prisoners"

Saturday, May 23, 2015

When words don't come easy

Casual weekend. Ignoring the alarm. Waking up late. Wasting the day away sprawled in bed, drifting in and out of sleep.

And as I was revisiting some books in my shelf in between those lazy moments, I suddenly came across this:

Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
The first thing that came into my mind was "Haruki Murakami, reading my mind and baring my soul since 2011". No, but seriously, the moment I read that, I remember thinking how it perfectly sums up everything that I've been trying my best to ignore for the past few weeks (or months, rather).

I also remembered having similar thoughts like this in the past. This was from almost 2 years ago:
It hurts me to face the fact that words don't really come easy just when you need them. I've always wanted to share this, but somehow, anything I say or write isn't enough. The sad realization is that sharing something so dear to you, so close to you is like exposing a part of you that you could never afford to put out in the open. 
Well, yeah.

The thing is I am undergoing something not strictly pleasant right now. And no matter how much I don't admit it, or better yet, offer myself consolations just to lessen the casualty -- one thing still remains, and that's the fact that I was deeply hurt. I may feel more stupid than hurt right now, but that doesn't change the fact that I felt pain. 

Acting indifferent, or better yet denying it even happened was the shortcut to (almost) forgetting it altogether. Because that's what you do. You deny and deny, you (try to) forget and forget. That's the start to moving on. That's the start of getting a life outside of it. But in reality, it's not. You stop acting on it, but your mind doesn't. Every night you lie there, with your head propped in that soft pillow of yours, and then your mind would wander -- to that. Every single time.

But really, I am not sure if I'm even making sense at this point. There are moments when I imagine that if people could see what's in mind, they'd see something like this:

See that? Why explain when you, yourself, can't understand? A jumble of ideas not making sense. Struggling to ooze out of you mind. And the sad reality was: you can't even let it out.

I used to be that girl who bleeds and vomits -- translating every feeling into words, writing them. In the past, writing has been a really effective way of taming my thoughts. When it goes wild, I write. When it's too much, I write. When I can't understand myself, I write. And now, I'm not even sure how. 

There were moments (and believe me, there were many) when I was so ready to type it all out, but then when I was faced with this blank canvass, I hold back, I try but nothing comes out. It's not a case of writer's block, if you call it that -- because I don't feel like there's nothing to write. It feels like the opposite, rather. There's so much going on, I don't even know what to pick up. And in the end, I wasn't able to write anything down. It's almost scary.

It's so easy to use "I've been busy" as an excuse, but sadly, I am not. Honestly speaking, I drowned. I drowned on my thoughts. I drowned on my emotions. And in the end, nothing came out. I was close to overflowing, but it didn't even spill -- imagine the feeling.

Just like now. Right at this moment, when I stopped writing that last paragraph, I had the urge to just delete everything that I've typed at that point. But I am choosing not to, because I know this will amount to something more.

I want to go back to being that girl. Expressing without fear of judgment. Continuing on even if the narrative feels disjointed just for the sake of letting it out.  Exposing, once again, a part of me to anyone who cares to read on.

I think there's courage in being vulnerable. I want to be brave again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book: Chasers of the Light by Tyler Knott Gregson

One morning when I felt that my surrounding was too suffocating to even put up to, I took a break from work. I woke up late. Had a big meal. Strolled at the nearest mall. Went into the staple coffee shop. And I walked and I walked only to find myself in this now too familiar book store, asking if they have a copy of this book that I've been meaning to buy since forever. It was at the back of my mind, but it was an impulse decision altogether.

It started to rain - hard. And as I forgot my umbrella that day, I found myself stranded. So I went to the nearby fountain, spent my time reading, the sound of pouring rain and the splashing of water my background -- and I got lost, reading. It took a call or two from a friend to rouse me out of that daydream.

It was like fate -- having me pick that book up, that very day -- wounds still fresh, mind in a jumble. And in that fountain, where I sat lost in trance, I began to rediscover my love for poetry. At that moment, all I can think of was that "poetry understands, if not heal" in the most beautiful way.

It's just that: a man who fell in love with the idea of writing "without thinking, without planning, and without the ability to revise anything" in the most breathtaking way -- through poetry.

I've never been shy of expressing my love for Tyler Knott Gregson [1,2] -- even going as far as declaring that he's my favorite poet. He's the reason why I consider Lang Leav a bit childish for my taste (she has her moments, but sorry guys). I know a poem is a good poem when it rips through my heart, when I can feel it. The intention came across. And it happens, every.single.time I read a Tyler Knott poem.

Tyler Knott has given poetry a new body for me, to be honest. I used to lose interest in the art. But the moment I followed him at Tumblr back at 2011, I knew -- that I'm in for something beautiful. I'll forever be a supporter of the way he brings things out in the open, exposing them for everyone to see. I can even see myself aspiring to be the writer that he is. But alas, I remain an admirer of his work. Following him through the years. It was always a pleasure, a thanks-for-bringing-something-so-heartbreakingly-beautiful-to-the-table kind of pleasure.

And this book didn't disappoint. This was merely a collection of his best through out the years -- and honestly, some of my favorites didn't even make the cut -- but it's still a great, breathtaking collection all the same. Printed in glossy paper, and full color. This may be a bit pricey, but it's worth it. Read it, and feel the feels. I warn you.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Luckily enough, we're blessed by his site containing thousands of materials from him. Check out, and behold thy exquisite beauty.


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