Saturday, June 25, 2016

Three of A Kind - Dorothy Gilman (3/3): Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station


As with her previous books, this one is also inspired from the author's travel to China. Dorothy Gilman loves to travel and her stories are often a product of her latest escapades. This book was born after her journey to the mainland.

Three of A Kind - Dorothy Gilman (3/3): Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station


Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station


Mrs. Pollifax, after her astonishing success from her previous assignments with the CIA, she has become one of Carstairs most cherished assets. She is now the Agency's go-to person for jobs that require a great deal of resourcefulness and to allay suspicion that the agency is involved. This next mission is to get in touch with a contact in Xian, China to get information on a labor camp. Once Mrs. Pollifax got the information, another agent will approach her and pull out Mr. X from the labor camp. Mr. X is an engineer who helped build China's defenses near the borders of Russia. They need to get Mr. X out of the mainland before Russia will get to him.


Mrs. Pollifax is to join a tour to China with other unsuspecting American tourists. If anything goes wrong, she will have to make sure that the group are taken out of China as soon as possible. The challenge now would be to convince the contact to give her the information she needs and not report her to the Sepos (police). The success of the whole operation depends on her, if she is unsuccessful, the other agent will never be able to rescue Mr. X. 






Another display of Mrs. Pollifax amazing powers of persuasion and her ability to see through a person's character. She again surprised me. She will always be my greatest super heroine. No one can match her. Dorothy Gilman is undoubtedly my number 1 favorite author in the whole universe. Her stories are written without much need for highfalutin words and emotional lines but nevertheless captivating and absorbing. 


This book makes me want to go to China and walk the famous Silk Road. To see for myself the life size terracotta warriors of China's first Emperor. 



This post has reminded me of the joy I had when in the company of Mrs. Pollifax. I think I am now a believer of the saying that stories are more enthralling the second time you read them. This surely applies to Mrs. Pollifax and Dorothy Gilman. I often do not read books again in fear of not feeling the same enjoyment I had when I first read them, but not with Mrs. Pollifax.  I am convinced, I need to read the rest of my Mrs. Pollifax and Dorothy Gilman collection again. I need them to feel good again, to feel alive. I haven't been feeling myself lately, actually for quite a while. 



Again, so long Dorothy Gilman and thank you for giving us Mrs. Pollifax. I will keep her immortal, even just for my benefit. I think, I still have a lot to learn from her. May I grow old to be a Mrs. Pollifax, not a CIA spy, but someone who never stops learning and dreaming. One who finds friends in unlikely places and who never fails to disprove what others think I cannot do.



Long live Mrs. Pollifax!





The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (1/3)
Mrs. Pollifax on Safari (2/3)

Three of A Kind - Dorothy Gilman (2/3): Mrs. Pollifax on Safari

This story was created from the travels of Dorothy Gilman to Africa. All her stories are from her experiences while exploring different places and cultures. 

Three of A Kind - Dorothy Gilman (2/3): Mrs. Pollifax on Safari

Mrs. Pollifax on Safari

After the epic and incredible success of Mrs. Pollifax's first assignment in Mexico, she had become one of the Agency's very reliable and valuable assets. With her proven resourcefulness and very dependable intuitive skills, she has been given other assignments and sent to other parts of the world. Her new assignment is to pose as a tourist again but this time join a Safari tour in Africa, Zambia in particular. Mrs. Pollifax accepted the job right away as she has never been to Africa and who could refuse an all-expense paid safari. Her job is to take pictures of all the people in the tour group. CIA has received a report that the notorious assassin-for-hire known as Aristotle will be joining the safari. No one has seen this Aristotle character. He is credited for various high profile killings around the world. Aside from that, her good friend John Sebastian Farrell is known to be in Lusaka, Zambia and Carstairs wants to know if he still wants to work for the CIA. He has retired a few years after working for them for 15 years.

So, Mrs. Pollifax went on to join the safari. Once she got to Lusaka, she set out to find Farrell. She tried the local phone directory but no luck. She also tried asking for his forwarding address from the bank and post office but was unsuccessful as well. After seeing a local ad in a newspaper, she was inspired to post an ad for Farrell to find her.  Much to her surprise, other people were also interested in finding Farrell - the local police and spies from Rhodesia. The question now, what is Farrell up to?

Three of A Kind - Dorothy Gilman (2/3): Mrs. Pollifax on Safari 2

This is another exceptional undertaking of Mrs. Pollifax. As much as I relished her other books, this one is still as adorable as can be expected. Never fails. It still maintained its trademark - the uncanny, eccentric and resourceful Mrs. Pollifax. In this book though, Mrs. Pollifax met an interesting man. Yes, a love interest - retired judge Cyrus Reed. Here, Cyrus proved to be a very helpful friend and a knight in shining armor of Mrs. Pollifax. After her successful stint in Mexico, she has decided to learn new things like karate. She found that at her age, life is still full of surprises. Mrs. Pollifax was able thwart the almost assassination of Zambia's president and identified the real Aristotle who was wearing a disguise during the safari. Thanks to Mrs. Pollifax's super keen powers of observation. She was also able to find Farrell, he saved her from the spies from Rhodesia who abducted her.

Another one unbelievable adventure of Mrs. Pollifax. I will never go tired of her ventures. Never, ever. Not in this lifetime or the next. Believe me, you have to read her books to know what I am talking about. I could not say more lest I say too much and spoil the books for you. I love Mrs. Pollifax!

Another gold medal for Dorothy Gilman.



Three of A Kind - Dorothy Gilman (Part 1/3): The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

Here's another favorite author of mine - Dorothy Gilman. I will feature three of her books and my all-time favorite heroine - Mrs. Emily Pollifax.


Three of A Kind - Dorothy Gilman (Part 1/3): The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax


Let's get to know Dorothy Gilman first and then I will all introduce you to Mrs. Pollifax.



Dorothy Gilman


She is an American author and is widely known because of her Mrs. Pollifax series which I love so much.  I first met Gilman via an edition of Reader's Digest Condensed Books. It was Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station. I was so caught up with the story that I wanted more of Mrs. Pollifax and her adventures. And this is how my hunt for condensed books and paperbacks of the works of Gilman, especially those that have Mrs. Pollifax on them, started. 

If there is an author that I would want to meet, it would be Dorothy Gilman. She animated my fascination with mystery novels. She initiated me into the world of espionage, detection, intelligence gathering, suspence, adventure, danger and intrigue. Unfortunately, Gilman died in 2012 at the age of 88 due to complications of Alzheimer's disease. She may have gone but she has left an everlasting legacy through the person of Mrs. Pollifax. Gilman will remain forever in the hearts of all her fans, just like me, because of her amazing and entertaining Mrs. Pollifax stories. I am glad I have come to know her. It has been a pleasure and a lifetime's worth of very memorable late nights.

Dorothy Gilman was awarded the annual Grand master of Mystery Writers in America in 2010. Gilman was an art teacher and telephone operator before she began writing. She first started writing children's stories for more than ten years and then began writing adult novels on Mrs. Pollifax which made her famous.


Who is Mrs. Pollifax?


Mrs. Pollifax is a grandmother and widow in her sixties. She was hired by the CIA to become a spy. It was probably the most hilarious thing to do, hire an old woman as a spy. But don't belittle Mrs. Pollifax, she was specifically selected by the Agency because no one will ever think that she works for them. At first, her assignments were just as simple as acting as courier but then her encounters often lead her to more serious espionage activities. Aside from that, she has a black belt in Karate and is very resourceful which has been proven in all of her adventures. She is also very intuitive and can often tell a friend from foe. Her vulnerability as an old woman is often taken as a weakness which proved to be her advantage in most situations. No one expects anything sinister from her. She's like everyone's gentle and warm grandmother.

Mrs. Pollifax has taken me to all of her adventures across the globe, from China to Africa. I have enjoyed all her exploits. When she does not have an assignment from the Agency, she is often tending to her garden in her New Jersey home. She is a member of a garden club and do volunteer work at the hospital.

The first Mrs. Pollifax book came out in 1966 and the 14th and last book was in 2000.


The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

This is the first book of the Mrs. Pollifax series. It's just fitting that this will be the first of the three books that I will put a spotlight on.


Three of A Kind - Dorothy Gilman (Part 1/3): The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax 2


The career of Mrs. Emily Pollifax as a CIA spy started when she felt that old age is dull and even contemplated of ending all her misery and boredom. She was inspired by a newspaper article about an actress who pursued her career later in life. With this in mind, she set out to fulfill one of her childhood dreams - to become a spy. Fortunately, CIA was also looking for an old woman who will pose as a harmless tourist and pick up a package in Mexico. Mrs. Pollifax got the job. What she did not know was that her first assignment would not be as easy as getting the package and flying back. Everything did not go as planned and Mrs. Pollifax will have to tap into her long experience of reading people and use her exceptional talent and resourcefulness to get out from prison in Albania.


This book is really unexpected as its title suggest. A lot of unexpected things happened to Mrs. Pollifax. She did not expect to actually get hired on the spot as a spy for the CIA when she bravely applied and volunteered her services. She did not expect that the assignment could go wrong and she'll end up in prison and probably not see her family again. She unexpectedly met two other important people while in prison and even saved their lives because of her resourcefulness and ability to appeal to the good side of the prison guards. Her bosses at CIA has written her off as dead but much to their surprise Mrs. Pollifax  just did not survive but also fulfilled the assignment. One of the many admirable qualities of Mrs. Pollifax is her ability to assess the situation and use it to her advantage. To jump at an opportunity for it may never present itself again.


Reading a Mrs. Pollifax book has always been a delightful memory to me. Even when I read the books again, they still give me the same excitement. It has been one of my best discoveries in life. My sister introduced me to Reader's Digest Condensed books and in turn paved the way for me to know Mrs. Pollifax and a host of other great authors and characters. A lot of Mrs. Pollifax stories have been featured in its editions. I could still remember going into the second hand bookstore and rummaging through the spines of those dusty and yellowed hard bounds. It was always a triumph for me when I spot Mrs. Pollifax on the titles. It was like I have unearthed the long-lost Yamashita treasure. Much to my delight, I have also unexpectedly stumbled on the other Mrs. Pollifax titles in one of the oldest chain of department stores here in Cebu. Not a lot of people know that they have condensed and second hand books in their stationery section. Finding Mrs. Pollifax, unknown and ignored in those dusty shelves was both a relief and a feeling that the universe loves me, because again, I have found the rest of the loot.


Three of A Kind - Dorothy Gilman (Part 1/3): The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax 3


Mrs. Pollifax to me always saved the day, not just in the stories but also in my real life. With her adventures, I feel like I have been right there with her experiencing the thrill and the danger, the awe and amazement. There were a lot of things and worlds I was not aware of. Mrs. Pollifax took me along on her assignments abroad and I realized that apart from the simple and hard life that I have, there is a dreamland out there just waiting for me. Before I started traveling using my own money, it was Mrs. Pollifax who took me under her wing and we visited other countries without a need for a passport. From then, mystery novels have been my saving grace and it kept my creativity and imagination alive. I owe it all to Mrs. Pollifax and Dorothy Gilman. The two people who kept reminding me that travel is the greatest adventure.

If you have not met Mrs. Pollifax, it's not yet too late to get to know her. You will find that her adventures are really irresistible and exhilarating. You will also meet weird and hilarious characters along the way. Mrs. Pollifax is my female version of James Bond sans the high-tech and sophisticated gadgets. She has survived captivity and escaped danger with her wits and charms alone. She is the epitome of ageless grace under pressure. The saying old dogs can't learn new tricks does not apply to her. Take it from her, age should not stop us from pursuing our ambitions. Mrs. Pollifax is like wine, just gets better with age.

Cheers to you Mrs. Pollifax and thank you Dorothy Gilman.




Mrs. Pollifax on Safari (2/3)
Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station (3/3)



Information on Dorothy Gilman and Mrs. Pollifax were taken from Wikipedia.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Maybe, Just Maybe in Another Life? by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This reminds me of my favorite song from Boyz 2 Men, Oh, Well
Maybe, just maybe...hmmmmmm... 






The title also rings a bell. It is so frequently used, especially in times when we wish that maybe in another life our circumstances were better than what they are now. That  maybe things were not as glum as they are right at the moment.



The Storyline


Hannah, twenty-nine, moves from one state to another and from one job to the next. She seems to be looking for something but she hasn't figured what it is. After an affair with a married man ended, she decided she needs to leave New York and go somewhere else. She set to go back to Los Angeles, the city where she grew up, to pick up the pieces of her life and figure out her next steps.


In Los Angeles, her best friend Gabby, decided to throw her a homecoming party inviting their close friends from high school, including Hannah's ex-boyfriend Ethan. After the party, Hannah is faced with two options: 

1) To go home with Gabby and her husband or   
2) Stay at the bar and go home with Ethan.


From here is where the story starts to get so interesting and thought-provoking. Hannah's decision from the two choices will determine what happens to the rest of her life and what the future holds for her.



It talks of the multiverse theory - in a parallel universe, our other selves are living the alternate choices and consequences of our decisions.





My One Cent 


At first, I thought that I would need to figure out which version of the story is really happening, the effects of Hannah's choice. I tried to put myself in Hannah's shoes and if I were her, what would have I done? Would I just go home with Gabby and call it a night or stay and spend the rest of the night with Ethan? Let go and move on, or hope for love and see if it could be sweeter the second time around? To be rational, or be heedless and carefree one last time? While still pondering over this, I proceeded to the next chapters. Maybe I will be able to find more hints on what Hannah really did. But I was disappointed to assume that, it was not what happened. Yes, I was getting ahead of myself. As I said, the book explores the multiverse theory, it shows what could have happened in both options. And in both alternate universes, Hannah found a happy ending. In both choices, Hannah gets to turn her life around, resolve her issues and be with the man she loves. It was a win-win. Two very appropriate endings. The reader gets to choose what version s/he prefers. I was consoled to understand this. I can't decide which version I liked best. I think both versions had Hannah move out of her comfort zone and become a more decisive woman. I think her character turned out to be what I hoped for.


The story may seem a little too scholarly, talking about multi-universes and theories but it was not the case. I did not actually realize it until it was explained in a later chapter. I just thought that one version of the story may just be an imagination of Hannah -wishing she had made more responsible decisions. I regarded that was what the author intended for the readers to figure out -which version is real in the story and which one is imagined.



The book was very easy to read. It was not confusing or complicated. It was very thought-provoking that it made me examine my life. How am I living it and what is waiting for me at the end of the rainbow or at the end of the dark tunnel, so to speak. It was very introspective, I, too thought that in an alternate universe, I might be living the life I want and doing the job I really love. This is what I like most about reading. It demands you to find a semblance of the story in your own life. To discover an affinity with the protagonist and share praise for the cunning or dislike for the evils of the antagonist. It makes me interpolate the messages and the stories into my life. I love books that affect me, rattle my core and shake my views. I have often find solace, strength and inspiration in the books that I read. In most cases, the characters and the stories gave me courage to continue facing the hurdles and the changes of adult life. They may just be fictional stories but then, there is always truth and experience in them too.



I give the book five stars and a year's supply of cinnamon rolls. I loooove cinnamon rolls. One time, I had it for breakfast every day for more than a week that I thought I had way too much cinnamon. I thought I had eaten my fill that would last me for the rest of the year. I resolved to not eat them until the next year. Anyway, back to the story, it has affected me more than I wanted it to. Aside from the fact that it made me crave for cinnamon rolls, I love that it was not what I thought it was. I was wrong and I am not ashamed to admit it because it was way way better than I wanted it to be. It made me hope that maybe in another plane, I am a better version of what I am now or that I am the best version there is of me. That what I imagined might actually exist in a not-so-remote possibility. I really loved reading it and I am thankful that my friend nerdy talks suggested this book. It was a very stimulating read and would love to read more of Taylor Jenkins Reid.










Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Three of A Kind - Clive Cussler (Part1/3): Sahara

Three of A Kind - Clive Cussler (Part1/3): Sahara
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Three of a kind features three books from one of my favorite authors. I was supposed to do all three books in one post but it would be so lengthy and I had to reread them just to make sure that I have them right. So, I decided that I will have them in three parts.


First on the list is Clive Cussler. He is for me the best male fiction-action-adventure writer. I love to travel and this passion has been fueled to burn brighter each time I read a novel of Cussler. He has a penchant for stories that are connected to an ancient epic event complete with a historic icon and a vile villain whose mission in life is revenge, power, greed and destruction. Best of all, the action takes you to exotic places around the globe which often felt like you have been to the place also. He also describes vividly the locations that they will seem too familiar. My favorite character of Cussler and the most famous is Dirk Pitt, which was named after his son, but is more like his alter-ego. Most of the characters in Cussler's novels are based on real persons like Al Giordino who in real-life is his friend. Most of his books are about the adventures of NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency), a government agency which studies oceans and do explorations. More like NASA but it's about the seas instead of space. Cussler, also inserts himself in most of his stories and chanced a meeting with the hero. Often, the serendipitous encounter gives the hero a clue or nugget of information which always proved to be helpful in his adventures. Also, very very few good guys die on his books. They only get wounded or the worse is they lose a limb. 



Dirk Pitt


Dirt Pitt is a former Air Force and a master marine engineer who works for NUMA and has a way of finding himself in very delicate and dangerous situations but has an uncanny resourcefulness and wit to extricate himself and save other helpless characters. He also has a love for classic cars, airplanes and tequila. He has opaline green eyes and wavy black hair.



To know more about Dirk Pitt and his epic adventures, here we go:



The first book I read was Sahara and I was so impressed. After that, I made it my life's mission to read all of Clive Cussler's books. Every time I go to a bookstore, the first thing I check is a book by Cussler. 


Yes, you guessed it right, Sahara, the desert and it's where the story culminates. The backdrop of the story is 1865, during the Civil War in the United States. 






Storyline (from the back cover)

A Civil War gunboat that vanished in 1865...
 A world famous Australian aviatrix who disappeared in 1931...
 A deadly tide of poison that threatens the entire world...
 While searching for a treasure on the Nile River, Dirk Pitt thwarts the attempted assassination of a beautiful UN scientist investigating a disease that is driving thousands of North Africans into madness, cannibalism, and death. The suspected cause of the epidemic is vast, unprecedented pollution that threatens to extinguish all life in the world's seas. Racing to save the world from catastrophe, Pitt and his team run a gauntlet between a billionaire industrialist and a bloodthirsty West African tyrant. In the scorching desert, Pitt finds a gold mine manned by slaves and uncovers the truth behind two enduring mysteries--the fate of a Civil War ironclad and its secret connection with Lincoln's assassination, and the last flight of a long-lost female pilot. Now, amidst the shifting sands of the Sahara, Dirk Pitt will make a desperate stand-in a battle the world cannot afford to lose!

My One Cent



I love adventure stories, especially those dealing with intrigue, conspiracies and scandals. I also love stories that keep me on the edge and pique my curiosity. One wherein, I would not know what to expect next and I would have to finish reading in one go so I would have a goodnight's sleep. And sure enough, Sahara did not disappoint. As I have said, this started my almost-obsession with the works of Clive Cussler. I love that he can take an event in the past and turn it into something more interesting. If History textbooks were written this way, it would have been my favorite subject in school. I love history but only when it's written in a way that would intrigue me. I am a curious person and I love learning new things especially about something very historic like a conspiracy on a US President's assassination or scandal about the Catholic Church.




I am all praises for Sahara. The first chapter alone has me glued. I have to read the book again for this post and it still felt like I've read it for the first time. Though, I know the gist of the story, but still, going through each and every page has been a confirmation of high praises for Cussler's talent to spin tales. His ability to take past events, an exotic locale and a modern-day issue into one cohesive story is very phenomenal. He makes it appear like the story is real and not fiction at all. 



Dirk Pitt. I think of him as my elder brother who would be there when I need rescuing. He is a man of many talents and interests. A man of really solid character and convictions. He was never swayed by greed or wealth though he has a weakness for damsels in distress. A true example of a knight in a shining armor. How I wish he was real.



I love that Dirk Pitt is not portrayed as a one-man-army. Though he is a fictional character and often in fiction, the feats performed by the main character are too good to be true. But not in Pitt's case. His adventures often wound and injure him. He also needs help from time to time. He does not assume or pretend that he can take a whole battalion alone and unaided. And in comes, Al Giordino, the best friend since grade school. I don't want to call Al a sidekick, he is definitely not. He is Dirk's partner and he often comes to Dirk's rescue. Al and Dirk's personalities combined, make up a really good tandem. I love that they can find humor even in the midst of a very serious life-threatening situation. A witty banter that often makes me giggle in delight. Dirk is like McGyver (my favorite action TV series character) very creative and resourceful. And as true as in the real world, when faced with a very serious situation, the brain comes up with creative and even hilarious ways to ensure survival. This is one of the most admirable traits of Pitt. Often,the villain is caught blind-sided and never knew what hit him. 


Sahara. The story does not only talk of one great event in history but two, a history-book-altering event during the Civil War in the US and that of a great and courageous woman bent to set records in aviation history. I like that it also talked about red tide and its effect to the depletion of oxygen and earth life. This book might seem in a way a dooms-day-tale but it holds a near-to-reality scenario that might actually happen if we continue to abuse the world for gain. The book is relevant especially now that we are in the midst of global warming and climate change. Let's all be reminded that industrialization and advancement has also its ill effects to the environment. And like in the story, the world is filled with gifted scientists and brains. And in order to extend our existence on the planet, we must all come together as one solid force to come up with a brilliant solution. I also like that the book ends well, the villains were stopped and made to suffer the way they dole out punishment to others. Call it poetic justice.




This book has been made into a movie starring Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt and Penelope Cruz as Dr. Eva Rojas. I would say, you have to read the book, it is always a lot 

better than the movies. And I would have preferred someone else to portray Pitt no offense to McConaughey.


Death is paid for grief and measured only by the depth of the grave.

Part 2/3: Night Probe.
Part 3/3: Treasure.



Text background is from Google.




Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie Perkins

The title alone is enough to make me curious. 


I have read Lola and the Boy Next Door by the same author and I was so delighted by it that I told myself I need to read the rest of her books. I came upon an eBook copy of Anna and the French Kiss and I was so excited to get started.




Storyline


Anna Oliphant was sent to a boarding school in Paris for her Senior year by her father. She did not want to go but she had no choice. She did not want to leave Atlanta and her friends. She is sure she will stick out like a sore thumb in Paris. 


In the School of America in Paris (SOAP) she met new friends like Meredith, who loves to play soccer, St. Claire, the handsome guy with nice hair and a British accent to die for, Josh, the artist and his girlfriend Rashmi. These new set of friends help Anna manage her life in boarding school and learn the French culture. She even became best friends with St. Claire whom she feels there could be more, but there is a problem, St. Claire has a girlfriend. Will she ignore her feelings or let them out? How will she do that when she is in the most romantic city in the world?





My One Cent


Stephanie Perkins has a talent of putting a character who started as awkward and unsure in situations where she is demanded to rise up and show her true self. This has been a very fascinating read. It made me feel like I was back in high school. I remember how it was crushing on the cutest guy on the campus and how it felt just getting a hi or a hello from him when we met in the corridor. It made my stomach flutter and my knees weak. Oh, the glory of youth. This book makes me want more to go to Paris and the first thing I would do would be to find Notre Dame and wish on that star on Kilometer Zero. 

was not disappointed. I had the same elation and giddiness when I was reading Lola and the Boy Next Door. And I said to myself, so this is how Anna and St. Claire started. I like that the book ended in a way that there is a possibility of a next book or it could be just as it is but still feel that it is enough. It is not hanging or lacking at all.


I give the book four twinkling stars. Twinkling because that is how I feel while reading and after. It gave me this sense of having drank from the fountain of youth. I feel so young (like a teenager) and heedless again, full of energy and ready to conquer the world. How I wish it would be like that all the time. Nothing scares me and I can take on life without doubts. 


Welcome Stephanie Perkins to my favorite authors list.



Next book is Isla and the Happily Ever After. My hands are twitching. I'm sure, it's going to be another good night spent wandering somewhere without having to be physically moving. I'll let you know how it goes when I'm done.




Who's that Girl? by Alexandra Potter

I have read this book a few months back. When I saw it again on my eBook reader I forgot what this book was about and I had to browse through it again to remember. 


The title is a bit vague, not unless you read the little description on the cover that you will realize what this book is.



I remembered how I enjoyed the book. I recalled how I was sitting with Charlotte in her car.




Storyline


Charlotte Merryweather works at her own PR agency. She was driving to work when she spotted her old orange beetle. It was on the opposite lane. The next time she saw it, she impulsively followed it. It drove through the old neighborhood where she lived while she was in her early twenties. The most shocking thing of all, is that the driver of the old beetle is her younger self. Could this be true? Is she hallucinating? She decided she might as well meet her younger self.


My One Cent


This is some kind of time travel story. I really really like it. It's bizarre, witty and funny. If I were in Charlotte's shoes, I would also follow my younger self out of curiosity. And if meeting a younger version of me means I will be able to correct some mistakes, I would do it in a heartbeat. I have no regrets in life but like most of us, if we were given another chance to make things better, I would gladly take it. I too have what if's but I don't wallow in them. It's when I get nostalgic that I sometimes wonder what if I did this, would my life be like it is or would it be any better? Human as we are, we often feel that we could have done better. And I sometimes wish, maybe in an alternate universe there is a better version of me, someone happier right at this moment, especially when I am having a bad day.

I dig the story. Very imaginative yet it might just be a tad true. It's not too fictional. It's as if it could actually happen to you. 


I give the book four amazing stars. I really enjoyed it and I was riding shotgun with Charlotte on her bizarre meeting with Lottie. I was there laughing and crying with her "now self" and the younger version. This book surprised me. I thought this was one of those mushy romantic comedies but it wasn't. It is stories like these that I love finding new authors and getting to know them. Finding really awesome new books I could lost myself in and forget I was just sitting in a small bedroom in a row house in a city somewhere in Southeast Asia.

I would love to read more of Alexandra Potter and I am so curious what her other books are about. I am giddy with excitement and wonder, like a kid on Christmas ready to open my present. What would it be this time?

I am not a Fan, Girl | Fan Girl by Rainbow Lowell

I enjoyed Rainbow Rowell's Attachments so I decided I would read her other works. 


I have an ebook copy of Fangirl and Carry On. I decided to read Fangirl first.




Storyline


The story is about identical girl twins who are fans of the fictional series Simon Snow by Gemma T. Leslie. They love the series so much that they have made their own fanfic. Fan fiction is spinning your own story from original characters created by published authors. In Wattpad, a lot of fanfic stories are available like Lord of the Rings, some fans made their own story of Legolas. In fact, the book Fifty Shades of Grey started as a fanfic of Twilight. Anyway, Cather and Wren started to create their own Simon and Baz stories. In their story, Simon and Baz (two of the main characters in the series and are archenemies) are in love with each other (gay relationship). Their stories have made a wide following. Each post has reached a thousand followers and readers were always anticipating for their next posts. The eight book of the Simon Snow series is going to be out in the next few months. Cath needs to make sure that she finishes her Carry on, Simon story before the last book is out and the whole series ends. The challenge is in getting it done along with surviving College and its subject requirements such as fiction writing, boy drama, his dad's relapse into manic overworking, her sister's excessive drinking and partying and their absent mother's trying to go back into their lives. 




My One Cent


I did not love the book. Rowell's writing is good and there were a lot of very good and very smart lines. I just felt there was something lacking and I can't put my finger on it. Maybe it failed to draw more emotion from me or I felt I was not so engaged in the story. I felt was not transported to the another place which is what makes me love to read. I was left sitting in my bedroom. Again, I am not sure what the book felt wanting. I felt bored reading through the excerpts from the Simon Snow series. I think they need not be there though I understand the purpose they served. I think the chapters could be understood without the excerpts. That's just what I think. I did enjoy the Levi and Cath chapters. Sometimes I feel sorry for Cath, irritated at times and sometimes I wished her character were a bit stronger but I came to like her more as her character evolved. I did not like the ending also. I think it was so abrupt. Like the author run out of things to say and just left it there. It left the readers to think what really happened next, though it could be understood from the last parts. I like that Cath was able to finish her fiction writing requirement and her Simon story ending too. But I really wish there was more to the last chapter. It felt like it was purposely left that way so some fans or readers can continue it in their own fan fiction. 



I give the book two stars. I just did not enjoy all of it. There were times I was tempted to put it down and do away with it but I always felt as a lover of books that I need to respect each writer and each work. I need to finish each book I started, though sometimes I had to stop and it would sometimes take me months to go back to them. My rule is always to finish the book. I understand that a lot of effort is put into getting the book out and the fact that it got published means that there was some merit to it though it's always the readers prerogative to see it or not. 

I may have to read other of Rowell's books. I started reading Carry on and it was so-so so far. It still remains to be seen if I will like it. I am going through the pages in search for something, I don't know what it is yet. I will try to read some of her other books but so far, Attachments may have been her best work yet.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Life After "After You" | After You by Jojo Moyes

After reading Me Before You and loving it, I can't wait to start on the next book-After You. I am curious what happened to Clark after the death of Will. There are a lot of possibilities...


Let's find out.






Storyline


The story picks up eighteen months after the death of Will. 

London. Louisa bought an apartment using the money Will left her. The apartment has a roof space where the previous occupant decided to put a small terrace garden to liven it up. Louisa now works on a bar in the airport. 

Louisa Clark as a promise to Will traveled around Europe after his death. She went to Paris and sat on a cafe and did all the other instructions Will detailed on his letter. Louisa stayed in Paris for a while and worked in a bar. After a few months, Paris seemed to lost its luster and the appeal to Louisa. She decided she needs to go back to London.  

She has not gotten to terms with the death of Will. She felt guilty for not having done enough to make him stay. She loved him and even that was not good enough. She drinks every night to dull the pain and the grief she's feeling. One night, she decided to go up to the terrace which was accessible by the fire escape. This has been a nightly routine, she would drink and then go up to the roof and bask in the comfort of the dark and knowledge that no one knows who she is. She would walk from the end of the ledge and up to the other end. She would feel the air and hear all the noises but she would still feel alone. On this night, while she was in one with the noises, with her arms spread out, feeling like a drunken tightrope walker, she heard a girl tell her that she's not supposed to be standing there. In her shock, she slipped and fell. 


My Second Cent


At first, I thought the pacing for this story was slow compared to the first one. When I came to the later pages, I realized that it was actually just preparing me for the series of sad things that are about to happen. Falling from the building, meeting a girl who is supposed to be Will's daughter, realizing she might have been the reason Will might want to live but no one knows she exists, not even Will, knowing Will's parents were still holding his death over their heads, forced to join a moving on meeting to deal with her grief, meeting a handsome and gentle ambulance guy but apparently he's with different women every night... Uh, I am dizzy with all these new developments in the story, new characters which are really annoying, like Richard her very stiff boss and Lily's mother Tanya, who just doesn't care about her daughter. 

I've cried more reading this than Me Before You. It's like every line is a jab to my heart. I feel for Louisa. She is true to her character who wants to save everyone else except herself. Yes, I wished for her to meet someone so she can at least  feel good again and move on. I like the way how she met Sam. I think it was the most bizarre way to meet someone but it turned out well for Louisa. I like that even if she didn't like attending the moving on sessions, she still kept coming. I think Lily is the most important character (aside from Louisa, of course) in this story. She has brought everyone the closure they needed to move forward after Will's death. She gave the Traynor's reason to believe that Will has not totally left them, he has left a part of him in Lily. Lily also gave Louisa reason for living. She has now someone to look out for and Lily, a teen with self-destructing attitude, needs Louisa to be able to navigate through her life. Lily has given Louisa a renewed strength and purpose for living - to be alive again.



I give the book four and a half stars for all the unexpected bends the story has turned and for a really fitting ending. I was able to sleep happy and content that Louisa has finally found something she really wanted to do and the best thing about it is its in New York. Who doesn't want to be in New York? I think it's great and amazing and she gets to work again with Nathan. I liked it so much because of the innumerable quotes. Each one is so potent and precise. I also appreciate that all the other characters of the story have found their place in the universe. Louisa's Mom and Dad have reconciled and his Dad has finally understood her Mom's need to improve and reeducate herself. For Camilla Traynor's new source of strength and for Lily to find love from her new family. For her boss Richard's change of character. Sam's promise to love Louisa even when they are continents apart and the uncertainty of what the future holds for both of them. For Treena to finally finish her studies and find a job and to move out of their parents house to live on her own. And lastly, for Louisa to discern that she really wanted the job in New York and that she has gotten past the grief and guilt of the death of Will. She is now ready to start living her life. 


Hugot Lines


Hugot is a Filipino slang referring to drawing deep emotions. They're quotable statements that are so sentimental (definition taken from Tagaloglang.com).

Here are a few I really like from After you. 




...although we're called the Moving on Circle, none of us moves on without a 
backward look. We move on always carrying with us those we have lost. What we aim to do in our little group is ensure that carrying them is not a burden that feels impossible to bear, a weight keeping us stuck in the same place. We want their presence to feel like a gift.



I think people get bored of your grief. It's like you're allowed some unspoken allotted time - six months, maybe - and then they get faintly irritated that you're not "better". It's like you're being self-indulgent hanging on to your unhappiness.



You learn to live with it, with them. Because they do stay with you, even if they're not living breathing people any more. It's not the same crushing grief you felt at first, the kind that swamps you and makes you want to cry in the wrong places, and get irrationally angry with all the idiots who are still alive when the person you love is dead. It's just something you learn to accommodate



Like adapting around a hole. It's like you become...a doughnut instead of a bun.



The parents are wrapped up in their own stuff, or have disappeared completely, so they exist in a vacuum, and they make bad choices.




...to be freed from our grief. To be released from this underworld of the dead, half our hearts lost underground, or trapped in little porcelain urns.




Depression loves a vacuum. Far better to be doing, or at least planning, Sometimes the illusion of happiness could inadvertently create it.


Curious about Me Before You? Click here.


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