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

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