On Love

Book: On Love: A Novel by Alain de Botton 

Synopsis: The best-selling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life and The Art of Travel revisits his utterly charming debut novel, On Love. The narrator is smitten by Chloe on a Paris–London flight, and by the time they’ve reached the luggage carousel he knows he is in love. He loves her chestnut hair, watery green eyes, the gap that makes her teeth Kantian and not Platonic, and her views on Heidegger’s Being and Time — but he hates her taste in shoes. Plotting the course of their affair from the initial delirium of infatuation to the depths of suicidal despair, through a fit of anhedonia — defined in medical texts as a disease resulting from the terror brought on by the threat of utter happiness — and finally through the terrorist tactics employed when the beloved begins, inexplicably, to drift away, On Love is filled with profound observations and useful diagrams, examining for all of us the pain and exhilaration of love. [via Amazon]

Book Notes: 

I don't really remember how I came across this book. I think it was when I was wandering around Fully Booked, then I kinda stumbled upon this gem. Sometimes when my mind is so cluttered and lost, I kinda like being around books. There's something about the smell of new books, and this air of intrigue and mystery of all these stories waiting to be read seem to help me reconnect and refocus. I feel like browsing through books with no particular thought in mind allows the universe to send messages, and this book certainly felt like one.

Oh to have a happy crush can turn you into two types: a giddy girl or a gloomy girl. Why even bother calling them happy crushes when more often than not, it turns out to be the latter. But what happens when you're the OR. Limbo has got to be the most rotten place to be stuck in, and thats where I felt I was rotting. He likes me, I like him, but ....

But what? I don't really know. But there was a connection, and we have/had/have/had (I don't really know if its a past, present thing) chemistry, sparks, serendipity... yup all those things that scream out happily ever after. It was like I manifested my dream person. But NOTHING.

It was an odd scenario. Grey areas all over again. NO! For once, I really just want things to be simple, clear and consistent- not this limbo all over again.

But why does it seem like I'm repeating it all over again. I felt like I came so close to something I thought I wanted, then some how I managed to fall off the wagon.

So anyway, I came across this book, and it was a break from the usual. It was a realistic telling of the start and end of love. This wasn't sugar coated, wrapped in a Disney Princess fairy tale. It was the good, the bad and the ugly because that's what love really is. It's kind of messy, kind of ugly, kind of brilliant; its all sorts of awesome and painful all at the same time.

Once the twinkle of the sparklers fade out, what are you left with? Can you really love that one you are with? Or we're you too busy getting blinded by the pretty lights?

Two things I picked up from this book: Mature Love and Perspective.

Here I am repeating that same old sad chick flick because I decided to react exactly the same way. The way I handled this potential was emotionally immature. To be honest, I was excited, and smitten and overwhelmed with the idea that this could be it --that some where along, I lost my direction and focus. I guess I lost a little bit of the me that I was slowly becoming.

It's so easy to dwell and wonder and pine over the what ifs. But like anything else, its all a matter of how you look at a situation. Of course I sound all strong and mighty now because I sulked and moped around for the past three weeks already. Perspective is really so powerful, and it greatly affects your frame of mind. It's really your choice; its always your choice. Do you see the duck or do you see the rabbit?

I don't really know whats going on with my happy crush. But I do know one thing, I'm still that hopeful romantic, and I know that promise will happen. Maybe, just maybe, this may be our refresh button. Let's just see what'll happen.

BTW Read this book.

Book Quotes:

"I recognized in her the woman I had clumsily been seeking all my life, a creature whose smile and whose eyes, whose sense of humor and whose taste in books, whose anxieties and whose intelligence miraculously matched those of my ideal."

"If the chances behind an event are enormously remote, yet it occurs nevertheless, may one not be forgiven for invoking a fatalistic explanation?"

"My mistake was to confuse a destiny to love with a destiny to love a particular person."

"What is so frightening is the extent to which we may idealize others when we have such trouble tolerating ourselves."

"The telephone becomes an instrument of torture in the demonic hands of a beloved who doesn't call."

"Desire has turned me into a relentless hunter for clues, a romantic paranoiac, reading meaning into everything."

"Silence was damning. A silence with an unattractive person implies they are the boring one. A silence with an attractive one immediately renders it certain you are the tedious party."

"Not to find the right words is paradoxically often the best proof that the right words are meant."

"We charm by coincidence rather than design."

"Unrequited love may be painful but it is safely painful because it does not involve inflicting damage on anyone but oneself, a private pain that is as bittersweet as it is self-induced."

"In the mature account of love, we should never fall at first glance. In the mature account of love, it is only when we truly know our partner that love deserves the chance to grow. Yet in the perverse reality of love (love that is born precisely before we know), increased knowledge may be as much as a hurdle as an inducement-for it may bring Utopia into dangerous conflict with reality."

"Was it not my duty to be the author of my own feelings?"

"Love reveals its insanity by its refusal to acknowledge the inherent normality of the loved one."

"Delusions are not harmful in themselves; they only hurt when one is alone in believing in them, when one cannot create an environment in which they can be sustained."

"It takes the intimacy of a lover to point out facets of character that others simply don't bother with."

"The problem with needing others to legitimize our existence is that we are very much at their mercy to have a correct identity ascribed to us."

"The possibility of an alternative love story is a reminder that the life we are leading is only one of a myriad of possible lives and it is the impossibility of leading them all that plunges us into sadness."

"One of love's greatest drawbacks is that, for a while at least, it is in danger of making us seriously happy."

"The present was unpleasant because of my reluctance to accept that I was finally going to live out a possibility that had all year resided in the comforting folds of the future."

"The inability to love in the present lies in the fear of leaving the sheltered position of anticipation or memory and so of admitting that this is the only life that one is every likely to live."

"It is easiest to accept happiness when it is brought about through things that one can control, that one has achieved after much effort and reason... It was simply the outcome of having, by a miracle of divine intervention, found a person whose company was more valuable to me than anyone else in the world. Such happiness was dangerous because it was so lacking in self-sufficient permanence."

"The dream is that one has not been loved for criteria at all, but rather for who one is, an ontological status beyond properties or attributes."

"The philosophy of mature love is marked by an active awareness of the good and bad within each person, it is full of temperance, it resists idealization, it is free of jealousy, masochism or obsession, it is a form of friendship with a sexual dimension, it is pleasant, peaceful and reciprocated."

"Immature love is a story of chaotic lurching between idealization and disappointment, an unstable state where feelings of ecstasy and beatitude combine with impressions of drowning and fatal nausea where the sense that one has finally found the answer comes together with the feeling that one has never been so lost."

Rating: 5/5


Flat Out Matt

Book: Flat Out Matt by Jessica Park 

Synopsis: *Please note: This is not a full retelling of Flat-Out Love, but rather a companion piece with select FOL chapters, and it is meant for readers who know the story very well.* Matt is a junior at MIT. He’s geeky, he's witty, he's brilliant. And he’s also very, very stupid. When beautiful, cool, insightful Julie moves in with Matt’s family, why (oh why!) does he pretend to be his absent brother Finn for her alleged benefit? It seems harmless enough until her short-term stay becomes permanent. And until it snowballs into heart-squeezing insanity. And until he falls in love with Julie, and Julie falls in love with Finn. But … Matt is the right one for her. If only he can make Julie see it. Without telling her the truth, without shattering them all. Particularly his fragile sister, Celeste, who may need Julie the most. You saw Matt through Julie’s eyes in FLAT-OUT LOVE. Now go deeper into Matt’s world in this FLAT-OUT MATT novella. Live his side of the story, break when his heart breaks, and fall for the unlikely hero all over again. Take an emotional skydive for two prequel chapters and seven FLAT-OUT LOVE chapters retold from his perspective, and then land with a brand-new steamy finale chapter from Julie. [via Amazon]

Book Notes:

I've been in a reading funk lately. For almost an entire month the idea of having to pickup and read a book didn't seem to interest me. I guess I lost some of my momentum after having read Wuthering Heights (yes I cannot get over how much i hated that book). It wasnt until I got an email from Amazon about the new book of Jessica Park that made me want to get out of my rut.

It seemed like the perfect piece to read to slowly ease myself back into the habit of reading. First I absolutely loved Flat Out Love, and to be able to experience anything like that again was something i really wanted to feel. Second, it was a novella so I knew it would be an easy breezy read. Third, i was too lazy to hold an actual book upright and i purchased this via Kindle which made me easily nest in bed. (hey im just being really honest here! im having a very gross weakend. yes and its really spelled that way, sickness be gone.)

Nevertheless, the book was simply perfect. Whenever I come across a book i extremely enjoyed, i always seems to get really attached to the characters and this was a wonderful companion piece to a much beloved novel. 

It was nice to get a glimpse from Matt's perspective, and reliving certain chapters from his point of view was such a welcomed experience. I didn't think it was possible but there i was crying, laughing and free falling again! Simply an amazing companion piece to a superb book. 

Book Quotes:

"I want the guy. The everything guy. Not the dumb Prince Charming, nauseatingly-perfect-everything guy. That's pathetic. I want the flaws-and all, everything guy."

"Faill in love with me Julie, as I fell in love with you, he willed her. Fall in love, fall in love, fall in love..."

"Let your world as you know it be blown to bits because you fall heart-crushingly, head over heels for someone."

"I did it Finn. I did it. I was ready to jump, and now she's jumping with me."

"How you find love means nothing. It's what you do with it when you see it that does."

Rating: 5/5


Wuthering Heights

Book: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Synopsis: Wuthering Heights is one of the world's greatest tales of unrequited love, captivating readers with its intense passion and drama since its publication in 1847. In this special collector's edition, the powerful, complex bond between Heathcliff and Catherine that unfolds in the wild, romantic landscape of the Yorkshire moors is beautifully presented in illustrated form for the first time. [via Amazon]

Book Notes: OMG! Yes, I know I have been rather silent that past couple of weeks. I got busy with other stuff, and never really got around to sitting down and fully processing my emotions after reading this book. But in a nut shell: I hated it!

I remember finishing this book before i left the office. I wanted to fling my copy across the room out of sheer exasperation. Sometimes I even wonder how and why i even bothered to finished the book. 

I think it took a while for me to get around to writing down my thoughts because whatever i felt after reading it was extremely violent. I didn't like a single character in this entire novel, nor did I like the way the story was narrated. It was so frustrating page after page after page. None of the characters ever evolved!!!

But since it has been weeks since i've processed this horrid experience of having read Wuthering Heights, perhaps the novel actually achieved its ultimate purpose. As the poster novel for unrequited love, it has definitely not earned any love from me. It begets me how this made it as a popular English Classics.

Barnes and Noble I want my $10 back. I should have known better and just downloaded a free Kindle copy.

Book Quotes: 

"But be with me always - take any form- drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where i cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!"

"And yet I cannot continue in this condition! I have to remind myself to breathe-almost remind my heart to beat! And it is like bending back a stiff spring... it is by compulsion, that I do the slightest act, not prompted by one thought, and by compulsion, that I notice anything alive, or dead, which is not associated with one universal idea... I have a single wish, and my whole being, and faculties are yearning to attain it. They have yearned towards it so long, and so unwaveringly, that I'm convinced it will be reacher and soon because it has devoured my existence- I a swallowed up in the anticipation of its fulfilment."

Rate: 0/5


Book: Austenland by Shannon Hale 

Synposis: Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man-perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation ofPride and Predjudice. When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own? [via Amazon]

Book Notes:

Is it so embarrassing to admit that maybe... and i really want to stress maybe i would actually really love to go to an Austen type of theme park. I know it sounds extremely nutty, but im so obsessed with the regency era (and the early 1900s) that i actually would think frolicking in Victorian England would actually be pretty fun.

With that being said, you can probably imagine how much i had in common with the leading character. Yes, i maybe kind of patterning my ideal man on a fictionalized version of someone, but come one, who doesn't want a love story worthy of the greatest novels right? 

I really enjoyed the book. It was a delectable and easy read that i happily got through in one sitting. The language was an interesting hybrid of colloquial english and Austen linggo, which was rather amusing. I really felt like I was living my fantasy theme park vicariously! Oh which gets to me, I cant wait for the movie adaptation! It premiered in Sundance with poor reviews, but i'd still watch it for the humor of it all! I am such an Austen fan after all!! 

Book Quotes: 

"Its a truth universally acknowledged that a thirty-something woman in possession of a satisfying career and fabulous hairdo must be in want of very little, and Jane Hayes, pretty enough and clever enough, was certainly thought to have little to distress her."

"Perhaps youve come to the point where youre so attached to the idea of that scoundrel, you won't be satisfied with anything less."

"Figure out what is real for you. No use leaning on someone else's story all your life."

"Of course not. Spinster is just an archaic term for 'career-minded'"

"But the sky and stars know how your story will turn out. So go make your happily-ever-after happen."

"Anyway, I'm not hopeless, that's the problem. I'm too hopeful, if anything."

"I channel all my hope into an idea, to someone who can't reject me because he isn't real."

"But I don't want to have to settle. You always do. Every single guy you ever dated was a settle."

"That she secretly wants to be someone else in another time and be loved like a fictional character in a book?"

"Is this why women wear heels? thought Jane. We hobble ourselves so we can still be rescued by men?"

Rate: 4.2/5

p.s. i totally brought out my copy of BBC Pride and Prejudice and watched it right after! Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy is such a classic! *sigh*

Bared to You

Book: Bared to You by Slyvia Day 

SynopsisGideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness... 

He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I'd never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily... 

Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other's most private worlds...and desires.

The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn't tear us apart... [via Amazon]

Book Notes:

I thought i was rather mad to have gotten myself back into this pickle. another book like this again! i shamelessly joined the band wagon of 50 shades readers, and guilty enjoyed losing myself in the horrid writing and senselessness of the entire story... but to go at it again. hmm... definitely. shame on me.

Although i must commend that this was a notch up in writing style as compared to 50 shades, i realized the story was just not as gripping. It did have all those sexy scenes, but when the book ended i didnt have that crazed feeling of having to purchase and read book two immediately. In fact, i kind of don't really care how those two really f-ed up characters end up. I must say though that the leading man had such a gorgeous name (Gideon Cross... damn)

As much as 50 Shades and the Crossfire series have a lot in common, the author also makes quite a few distinctions. Maybe for those you can get as far as book two (and perhaps to the soon-to-be-released third installment), maybe the differences in the stories would slowly unfold and you can really appreciate their own unique story. 

Definitely a book for those who were still looking for a 50 Shades fix. 

On a more personal side note, I think i realized why I am so fascinated with these kind of leading characters. Take all that crazy sex aside, its just so Thomas Crown. Yes people, way before Grey and Cross became the center of attention this 21st Century there was a guy named Thomas Crown. And I remember back in the 90s when i first caught the screening of The Thomas Crown Affair, I was immediately smitten with his character. Just his smooth, suave and aloof exterior has left a pre-teen girl extremely fascinated. And these new debonair male leads in mass market literature exemplify exactly that kind of guy. So maybe this is just my way of reasoning with myself why I am so attracted to these kinds of stories. From the get-go, that was apparently always my type of guy. (and we haven't even gotten around to my Austen fantasies yet. but then I am starting to sound really kooky at this point.)

Book Quotes:

"B.O.B. and I have a longtime understanding-when we're done with each other, we know exactly which one of us has been used and it isn't me. Good night, Gideon."

"Whats your definition of dating? A frown marred the space between his brows. 'Lengthly social time spent with a which we're not actively f-ing."

"If anyone knows what its like to be involved with people who hurt you, it's me. You love him. You want to save him. But who's going to save you, Eva?"

Rating: 2/5



Book: Everyday by David Levithan 

Synposis: Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day. [via Amazon]

Book Notes:

It was the overall concept of the book that made me want to read this. I've read Levitan books before, and I always had such profound experiences with his writing, that I was sure this book would not let me down.

More than just a love story between A and Rhiannon, the book beautifully dissected the essence of love. The multiple characters that A's spirit or perhaps soul, inhabited allowed us to experience different identities. Each of his temporary bodies allowed us to get a glimpse into several relationships, and challenged the concept of love.

Years back, during one of the lowest points in my life, my therapist was trying to explain to me the concept of love. She kept telling me to remove all the physical labels and just take love for what it was. She kept trying to emphasize the experience. It was the connection between two people that mattered.

And that was the basic challenge of the book. Putting all physical attributes aside, can we all really love at its purest essence.

It was a challenge with me. Personally it took me months or maybe even years to fully grasp that what I shared with my ex was real despite everything that happened. But I also can't help but feel all the judgement of the world. It is more difficult when the world shares their opinion, because no matter how you try to convince yourself that it doesnt matter, it does.

So can love really conquer all? Or are we simply limited by our physical attributes, that transcending to the metaphysical is perhaps impossible. Perhaps we can only get a glimpse of the what is really real, but since we are limited by our five senses, it can never be something permanent. 

More than just a series of stories that are intertwined together, Everyday brings up challenging, philosophical questions. A fascinating piece of fiction that leaves the reader more curious. It wasn't just about a love story. It was about this profound emotion that so few of us truly understand and grasp. 

Book Quotes:

"If there is one thing I've learned, it's this: We all want everything to be ok. We don't even wish much for fantastic or marvelous or outstanding. We will happily settle for okay, because most of the time, okay is enough."

"Simple and complicated are the most true things are."

"A pop song that's as substantial as a balloon, but lifts us in the same way when we sing it."

"There is a part of childhood that is childish, and a part that is sacred."

"Happiness is so rarely a part of my vocabulary, because for me it's so fleeting."

"What is it about the moment you fall in love? How can such a small measure of time contain such enormity?"

"It's one thing to fall in love. It's another to feel someone else falling in love with you, and to feel a responsibility towards that love."

"The universe nods along to the songs."

"Kindness connects to who you are, while niceness connects to how you want to be seen."

"...we like to focus on the 2 percent that's different, and most of the conflict in the world comes from that."

"I am learning that a life isn't real unless someone else knows its reality. And I want my life to be real."

"Falling in love with someone doesn't mean you know any better how they feel. It only means you know how you feel."

"This is the trap of having something to live for: Everything else seems lifeless."

"In my experience, desire is desire, love is love. I have never fallen in love with a gender. I have fallen for individuals. I know this is hard for people to do, but I don't understand why it's so hard when its so obvious."

"And once again I think about how people use the devil as an alias for the things they fear. The cause and effect is backward. The devil doesn't make anyone do anything. People just do things and blame the devil afterwards."

"If your beauty is unquestioned, so many other things can go unquestioned as well."

"This is what love does: It makes you want to rewrite the world. It makes you want to choose the characters, build the scenery, guide the plot. The person you love sits across from you, and you want to do everything in your power to make it possible, endlessly possible. And when it's just the two of you alone in a room, you can pretend that this is how it is, this is how it should be."

"Because when something happens, she's the person I want to tell.The most basic indicator of love."

"But how can I make her look past the blur, if I'm a body she'll never really see, in a life she'll never really be able to hold."

"Every person is a possibility. The hopeless romantics feel it most acutely, but even for others, the only way to keep going is to see every person as a possibility."

"The past and future are what's complicated. Its the present that is simple."

Rating: 4/5


Flat Out Love

Book: Flat Out Love by Jessica Park 

Synposis: Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer. [via Amazon]

Book Notes:

I find it most difficult to translate into words the amazing journey I had while reading this book. I always feel like words can never fully embody the overwhelming experience as the words flow into our imagination and just take you for this one amazing ride page after page. I always love the pleasant surprise that one gets when you stumble upon such a magical read!

I wish i could be more articulate, but a book like this is just best experienced. The entire time reading, I was so envious of the witty and punchy banter the characters had. Seriously, I wish I could sound that smart and edgy on a day to day basis. 

I also loved how as a reader, you think you know exactly what's going on, yet at the same time you can't just put your finger on it. The constant twists always leave your wondering, always making every page exciting.

Definitely more than just a love story, this book takes you along a odyssey of emotions that will leave you crying, laughing, smiling and simply just free falling. 

Book Quotes:

"I was fitted with a specially designed compression filter that allows excessive information to lie dormant until I need to access it. Its only the beta version, so excuse any kinks that may appear. I really can't be held responsible."

"Julie Seagle is unable to find any financially Finnish finches for Flat Finn, but will finagle finger painting fingerling finery as a final finale. She finks."

"After an unfortunate incident involving Wile E. Coyote and an anvil, Three Dimensional Finn has changed his name."

"She'll need to see another goddamn place, then, because the roaches have unionized and put a stop to further negotiations regarding new tenants. Also, I think i smell a dead body."

"All motor function has been restored. Physiological integrity is intact. I can now continue not finding an apartment."

"effective decomposition strategies for certain nonconvex mixed-integer nonlinear optimization problem. Whatever the hell that meant."

"Julie Seagle thinks that Twitter is like Facebook's slutty cousin. It does everything dumb and whore-ish you're too respectable to do."

"I don't need a plan. They'll be harmless and mildly cute in a pathetically boozy way."

"I'd just have to meet the right guy. Someone who isn't ordinary. Someone who gets me. Someone I fit perfectly with. I want heat, chemistry, an undeniable connection. You know what I mean? I want it all. I'm done with ordinary and mediocre."

"And because you have naturally fantastic hair that most people can never achieve, even when they waste money buying celebrity-endorsed spiral curling irons on the off chance that three easy payments of nineteen-ninety-five will solve their hair woes."

"Finn is God: I "Facebook like" you, but I'm not IN "Facebook like" with you.

"What about your parents? Love 'em or want to mail them back to Walmart? Costco actually."

"Julie Seagle: I think that when Twitter says someone has 'protected their Tweets', a little picture of a chastity belt should pop up."

"Love is a portion of the soul itself, and it is of the same nature as the celestial breathing of the atmosphere of paradise."

"Julie Seagle: If you can't stop thinking about someone's update, that's called 'status cling'."

"Why do washing machines eat socks? Do they taste good? Should you try eating socks?"

"This is why people pull their chites lates, because freefalling is like a drug."

"Good. I think I'm falling for you too. Let's not pull this chute."

"Finn is God: I hope that someday they invent a car that runs on inappropriate thoughts."

"I tell you to close your eyes. You listen while I tell you how I feel about you. That I think about you all the time, and I can't get you out of my head. I ask you to ignore everything you think you know and to listen only to your heart, without doubting anything. Can you do that?"

"You can look back now, and see how you should have known, but you were focusing on the facts, instead of the feeling."

"But that's what love does to you. Gut-wrenching overpowering, crushing, fulfilling, complex, bring-you-to-your-knees love."

Rating: 5/5


Love Your Frenemies

Book: Love Your Frenemies by Mina V. Esguerra 

Synopsis: Kimmy Domingo was the kind of girl everyone hated and envied -- until her fiance' dumped her a week before their wedding. Soon after, she quit her job, hopped on a plane, and just hid from everyone who knew her. A year later and she's back in Manila to be maid of honor at a wedding she can't miss.

Kimmy's home because she's ready to start over, but she also knows that some people at that wedding were responsible for the mess her life turned out to be. The first step to recovery? Cutting off the ones who caused her troubles to begin with: her best friend and her first love. [via Amazon] [photo credit the author's blog]

Book Notes: 

I've decided, since February is the month of love, to go on a major chick lit/romance reading spree. I'm a total sucker for Valentines, and the sappy hopeless romantic in me just swoons over a good love story. So to start off my list of cheesy books to further indulge myself in, i read Love Your Frenemies.

This was actually my first time reading a chick lit written by a local author. Honestly, I didnt even think this genre quite existed in the local market. (Proof that I should patronize local writers more!!) 

When i received the book i thought to myself... wow this puts the pocket in pocket books! Its a tiny book with only a couple of pages, basically a novella and I wondered how much can you really get from such a short read. Then I remembered how much i enjoyed First Love, and told myself not to judge a book by its pages.

At first I thought it was rather odd reading a chick lit with so many local references. It took a little getting used to having the occasional taglish word mixed it, but once i picked up the pace, it was easy to kind of ease into the story and get used to the author's very familiar language. 

The further I got into the story, the more interesting the characters became. Although I thought some of the flashback chapters transitioned rather roughly in the story, it was only in the end that i realized how essential this method of story-telling was to help build some mystery and excitement for the reader. 

Strangely enough, I was rather fond of the leading lady, Kimberly Domingo (although not so much for her name). In the author's note, she wrote that she tried to make Kimmy an unlikeable character, but I actually felt that in the entirety she had one of the best, most vibrant personalities out of all the characters in the books. 

Perhaps it's my strong western upbringing, but a character that takes pride in fiercely climbing the corporate ladder, embracing her overall sexuality and isn't afraid to speak her mind is an infinitely better character than the stereotypical maria clara type. Perhaps majority of the Filipinos aren't prepared for such a strong woman, but it is exciting to have characters like this slowly develop. So I would like to disagree with Kimmy being dislikable. She is simply an empowered woman and a force to be reckoned with.

The protagonist's character was also surprisingly real. Although not all of us have the luxury of just walking out of our jobs and flying to LA, disappearing is something all of us secretly want to do after everything just all goes to shit. Kimmy's fleeing Manila was supposed to have made her a detestable person, but her sudden vanishing was one of the most human reactions. Immature, definitely. But that is one her most significant character flaws. It was that specific trait that stood between everything she ever desired. 

Overall, I was rather fascinated by this book. It had all the makings of an enjoyable chick lit, most especially a debonair leading man that was oh-so-bad, yet oh-so-gorgeous at the same time. The type of leading man that you just want to hate, but cant stop smiling about. The pacing was very quick, but it was simply charming how the entire story just unfolded. 

I definitely found it interesting that it was written by a local (Philippine) author, and truth be told, I'm rather intrigued about her other published stories as well.  

Rating: 3.8/5


First Love

Book: First Love by Ivan Turgenev (The Great Loves Book 7, Penguin Classics)

Synopsis: Love can be torture. At the end of a dinner part, the remaining guests smoke cigars and tell stories of their first love. For one of them, it will be a dark journey into his past, reawakening unbearable memories of his obsession with the beautiful Zinaida, and the cruelty and betrayal that followed... [from the book flap]

Book Notes: I randomly and impulsively picked this at the Strand Bookstore last July. Admittedly, that was the first time I've ever been to the Strand despite numerous visits to the Big Apple. It was definitely overwhelming and very interesting, I felt like I walked into Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, and was half expecting to find the journal hidden through the shelves. I cant even properly recall what attracted me to this book, but i purchased it and now have finally read it.

I finished it in one sitting while i was painfully waiting for the number one vet to become available to see my precious puppy. It was a long and tiresome wait, and i was thankful i snuck this is my purse as i headed out. For a book that was published in 1860 and written by a Russian, his words and narration were surprisingly modern.

He portrayed his protagonist so realistically. He was 16 years old, barely a man and already reckons himself in love. He was penned so beautifully naive. It is only that kind of youth and innocence that would make you miss things and see the world so differently. I love the way he was contrasted with the other older and more worldly bachelors. Their personalities so brash and jaded, only characteristics of time and maturity would allow to develop.

I also loved how the author provided subtle hints for the reader to pickup on the twist of the story. Thinking back to those hints, i felt it was rather obvious from my perspective, but thinking as the young Vladimir, I can imagine how those strange insinuations could go amiss. Again, i think we should credit the author for creating a wholly innocent and juvenile character.

His protagonist was written so believable. With such a short work of fiction, we watch a naive young man barely out of the school fall in love, experience his first heart break and mature into a man.

Rating: 4.5/5

Change the Way You See Yourself

Book: Change the Way You See Yourself: Through Asset-Based Thinking by Cramer and Wasiak 

Synopsis: Change the Way You See Everything was a breakthrough book, which presented a transformational philosophy known as Asset-Based Thinking, or “ABT.” That book was able to instill success-oriented habits in even the most die-hard cynic, and inspired thousands to shift their thinking to reap monumental rewards both in work and in life. Now the authors are back to expand this powerful notion of Asset-Based Thinking-to guide people on how to change one’s own power, influence, and impact on the world. So while the first book taught readers how to view their world differently, this next book shows them how to see themselves differently. It will reveal that everyone is a leader in their own way, and that, through ABT, every person can plug into their unique power. [via Amazon]

Book Notes: This really all started because I had decided to finally get around to reading that darned Happiness Project. So after work, I decided to make a pit stop at Fully Booked only to realize that everyone else in the greater Metro Manila has decided to start the new year ringing in resolutions and creating their own happiness projects. Dejected and contemplating purchasing it via Whispernet (i selfishly love that i always have that option but i am still thoroughly addicted to print books) I found myself weirdly wandering the self help section- definitely not a section i would often find myself.

Perhaps it was all the rah-rah-rah of this whole new me for 2013 (Starting with my great physical transformation), maybe I was hungry and still adapting to my new eating habits, or maybe i had some fear creep up to me knowing that i may have at least three friends getting engaged this year (not to mention my best friend married last year), and I seem to still be battling baby fat issues. 

Wasnt it already a cry of help or the very least some emotional strength, that this all started because i decided to read the happiness project. So back to the self help section...

I found it rather peculiar that a lot of creative inspiration books were found at the self help section. like the cool Chronicle books kind of stuff were all cozily tucked in there. I wouldn't have categorized it as self help, maybe more like quirky books youre going to buy because it was packaged so damn cute shelf. Nevertheless, i was there looking through titles and this one just jumped right out.

Change the way you see yourself suddenly lit up like some neon sign on times square. I never really enjoyed the self help genre, but this was packaged like a coffee table book. No drabby text telling you to shut up and get on with life, but it was a merging of useful tips, quotable quotes, graphic design and photographs. The overall look and feel wasn't anything to be ashamed to be found holding (more so purchasing). In other words, a self help book that didnt feel like you were such a loser for needing help in the first place.

Aside from the cool, non-traditional layouts, it was rather impressive that they were able to compact such profound advice. Gone are those painfully elaborate paragraphs with terms you weren't going to remember or sources you have no idea if they were credible or not. Basically this entire book was an animated guide to how you ought to make the most of your assets. 

With the simple guidelines, quick anecdotes and quotes, and visually stimulating layouts, it was entertaining as much as it was helpful. Its the type of book that deserves to be revisited and updated with your own personal progress. Its fascinating, and very different. its perfect to have around whenever you feel like you're losing focus, getting an insecurity attack, or simply need some motivation for the day.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Great Gatsby

Book: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Synposis: The exemplary novel of the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgeralds' third book, The Great Gatsby (1925), stands as the supreme achievement of his career. T. S. Eliot read it three times and saw it as the "first step" American fiction had taken since Henry James; H. L. Mencken praised "the charm and beauty of the writing," as well as Fitzgerald's sharp social sense; and Thomas Wolfe hailed it as Fitzgerald's "best work" thus far. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when, The New York Times remarked, "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession," it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s that resonates with the power of myth. A novel of lyrical beauty yet brutal realism, of magic, romance, and mysticism, The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature. [via Amazon]

Book Notes: I realized something about my "reviews" yesterday... its very impersonal and as if written for a crowd pleasing audience. As the blogger dash board reminds me, it seems im likely the only one that knows about this blog, and comfortably so. This was meant to help me keep tabs on the books I've read, an online version of a book journal. So why the hell was i writing it with fear that i would receive angst from others? i should be writing about my experience!

So here i am trying to remedy my folly as i try to fully grasp and thoroughly digest my first reading of the Great Gatsby. I don't really know if im hyper emotional today because im hungry (today, well Jan 7, was the first day of my hopeful new lifestyle and body goal. Truth be told, it has definitely been about time i made that my priority but it leads my point astray) 

i was actually getting dizzy reading the first three chapters. perhaps it was hunger, or lack of sleep but i felt like the words were just all twisting and turning. there were just so many words. cohesive, tight words that you had to read every little bit of it to fully comprehend the entire sentence. Precise concentration is thus required. the book is only 170 pages long, and the author did beautifully and got straight to the point.

So in a moment of distraction, i decided to make a playlist based on my current lss-- Feel Again by One Republic. Im completely enamored and smitten with this song, it seems to have provided me some hope, hope that i so scarcely allow myself to believe for theres a stronger, lingering feel of disappointment that looms. Theres some emptiness inside me, that I am even too ashamed to speak out loud.

Anyway, I ended up pulling a Cher and checked sparknotes for a quick glimpse into this enigmatic novel that, three chapters in, has left me silly crossed eyed. I didnt really get to read much except a quick glimpse down a the first comment that simply said - Gatsby dies, who else better to tell the story than Nick. Curiosity and intrigued got the better of me, and thus aided me to finish it so.

So now here i am, perched on my laptop, as my playlist repeats for the third time tonight still trying to fully wrap my mind and find some words.

Lonely. Gatsby was lonely. despite his lavish lifestyle, his gaudy home and his "friends"- he was lonely and obsessed blindly over the one woman he love. and in so many ways i feel like thats me. I'm alone in this lifetime and it scares me, that at the end of the day i have no allies, no one to take care of me, no one i can fully trust to see me through till the end. And yet i still feel so much like Daisy, that in realizing all of the above, i retreat in the comfort of luxury and wealth. It does make everything much easier to forget.

Its rather deathly of me to be swirling in such a deep pond of emotional and physical insecurity. Much like Gatsby, I've placed my world into a pedestal that I have simply become a detached observer. I never really fully participate in any of it, I simply host a well calculated series of events and stare and hope that some dream of mine would just happen. Perhaps I'm really disillusioned by it all. Perhaps i'm really just insecure and lonely. Perhaps the dream shouldnt be my dream- but even i cannot fully identify what it is i am so painfully pining for.

Perhaps Im most like Gatsby, so emotionally driven and passionate, so one track minded into a goal that i seem to be aloof about everything else. Perhaps i can be most like him and finally transform, and achieve that end goal that has long eluded me through all these years. Perhaps i am so forlorn because my life is as empty and shallow as his. 

Definitely a remarkable testament to his writing, Fitzegerald so beautiful portrayed the nothingness of his characters so well. That despite the bourgeoning decadence of the 20's, there was still so much emptiness, nothingness, skepticism. The lifestyle seemed like a lavish front for the growing void within.

On a poetic note, life changed so much after WWI, dreams were realized and shattered. Life will be different for me in 2013, because whatever it is, I think- no I know, that this year I will learn how to feel again. I will be like Gatsby that despite everything, still believed in the green light ahead.

Book Quotes:

"Gatsby? What Gatsby?"

"Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr. Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens."

"I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life."

"And I like large parties. They're so intimate. At small parties there isn't any privacy."

"Everyone suspects him of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that i have ever known."

"There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired."

"No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart."

"After all, in the very casualness of Gatsby's party there were romantic possibilities totally absent from her world."

"Can't repeat the past? Why of course you can. He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand."

"He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was..."

"There is no confusion like the confusion of a simple mind."

"I was thirty. Before me stretched the portentous, menacing road of a new decade."

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther... and one fine morning-"

Rating: 4.5/5

What I Did for a Duke

Book: What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long 

Synopsis: For years, he's been an object of fear, fascination . . . and fantasy. But of all the wicked rumors that shadow the formidable Alexander Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge, the ton knows one thing for certain: only fools dare cross him. And when Ian Eversea does just that, Moncrieffe knows the perfect revenge: he'll seduce Ian's innocent sister, Genevieve—the only Eversea as yet untouched by scandal. First he'll capture her heart . . . and then he'll break it.
But everything about Genevieve is unexpected: the passion simmering beneath her cool control, the sharp wit tempered by gentleness . . . And though Genevieve has heard the whispers about the duke's dark past, and knows she trifles with him at her peril, one incendiary kiss tempts her deeper into a world of extraordinary sensuality. Until Genevieve is faced with a fateful choice . . . is there anything she won't do for a duke? [via Amazon]

Book Notes: I really dont understand why romance novels have to have such ridiculous covers. Then again, i guess its just all part of that sort of genre. I stumbled across this book when i was reading through the book list of one of my favourite book bloggers, and i was rather bored at home in need of some trashy read to pass the evening.

at first impression i was quite taken by the authors writing, it had a surprisingly wicked sense of humor which i dont often come across when reading this genre. It was sarcastic, and entertaining. Although i quite disliked the mental side notes her characters would sometimes utter to themselves. It got kind of dragging for a while, especially since the entire book took place in one scene, and it seemed like they were playing cards and embroidering for most of the time, i still think this was definitely one of the more entertaining reads. 

Book Quotes: 

"What was love if not a certain pleasantly deluded familiarity built up over years?"

"Funny how his obliviousness had lost his charm."

"I suppose we all tend to want the impossible. And sometimes in attempting it we achieve something near enough to the impossible to elicit satisfaction."

"He didn't dislike kittens. But life was too short to continue this conversation."

"What are your pleasures and pursuits, Lord Moncrieffe? Well I'm partial to whores. Whor...whores...? She choked. I beg your pardon- horses. Honestly Miss Eversea, I do wonder what you think of me if thats what you heard. Horses. Those hooved beasts a man can race, wager upon, ploy a field with, harness to a phaeton, and drive at deliciously reckless speeds. And one cannot do any of that with whores?"

"Some paintings are considered heretical, she said irritably. Ah, but that isnt the fault of the painting. It's the prejudice of the viewer."

"When one is satisfied with how the world appears, there is no need to look any deeper or father. Peeking below the surface of things, one often discovers things one would rather not see, wheter it is worms tilled up by the ploy or wads of dust beneath a bed."

"he'd very little patience for poety or fiction, as real life, he found, was vivid enough when lived properly and was best confronted directly, rather than obliquely approached through words strung together by dreams and fancies a la Byron."

"Everyone needed a reminder to simply look at things and enjoy them, without labeling them."

"They found forgetfulness together. Passion had its uses."

"He would ask nothing else from like if he would be allowed to protect and cherish her for the rest of his."

"This was farewell, Genevieve. Couldn't you tell? And with that he was gone, as quickly as he did most things."

"She'd dreamed of this day her entire life. Or perhaps it was just the rest of her life had just chosen her, as she'd once told the duke. Love chooses you."

Rating: 3.5/5

Duke and I

Book: Duke and I (Bridgerton Series) by Julia Quinn

Synopsis: Simon Basset, the irresistible Duke of Hastings, has hatched a plan to keep himself free from the town′s marriage-minded society mothers. He pretends to be engaged to the lovely Daphne Bridgerton. After all, it isn′t as if the brooding rogue has any real plans to marry - though there is something about the alluring Miss Bridgerton that sets Simon′s heart beating a bit faster. And as for Daphne, surely the clever debutante will attract some very worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable. But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, she soon forgets that their courtship is a complete sham. And now she has to do the impossible and keep herself from losing her heart and soul completely to the handsome hell-raiser who has sworn off marriage forever! [via Amazon]

Book Notes: I wish i could have said that i was held with a pistol on my back until i had to purchase this book, but unfortunately i dont even have that reason as my alibi. For a book with stellar reviews on Amazon, i was amazingly surprised by the lack of story. Her three brothers sounded and acted like pre-historic cave men and the whole point of their ploy... it was even properly expounded upon. This whole book felt like everything was happening because they were all held at gun point- which i might add was essentially the only story of this book. The lines were completely redundant, and there was no proper flow or timing. It really had potential, but it was just so loosely tied together and extremely predictable. 

Rating: 1/5


2013 Book List


1. Fifty Shades Darker by EL James***
2. Duke and I by Julia Quinn*
3. What I Did for the Duke by Julie Anne Long*
 Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
4. Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught**
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
6. Change the Way You See Yourself by Cramer and Wasiak
7. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
8. First Love by Ivan Turgenev
9. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
10. The Beats: A Graphic History by Pekar, Piskor and Buhle


11. Love Your Frenemies by Mina V. Esguerra
12. Flat Out Love by Jessica Park*
13. Everyday by David Levithan*
14. Bared to You by Slyvia Day*
15. Austenland by Shannon Hale*
16. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte


17. Power of Kabbalah: Technology for the Soul by Yehuda Berg**
18. Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg
19. The Ring String Book: The Power of Protection by Yehuda Berg


20. 72 Names of God: Technology for the Soul by Yehuda Berg
21. Flat Out Matt by Jessica Park*
22. 100 Names by Cecilia Ahern

23. Spiritual Rules of Engagement by Yehuda Berg

24. The Dreams Book by Yehuda Berg

25. The Way of the Kabbalist by Yehuda Berg

26. On Love: A Novel by Alain de Botton

27. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

28. The Abudance of Katherines by John Green

*Kindle Copy

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