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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