Thursday, July 31, 2014

Odeful by Jennifer Recchio: ARC Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: Odeful (and other poems)
Author: Jennifer Recchio
Publication details: February 27, 2014 by All Night Reads
Copy: eARC from NetGalley

In this collection of poems about coming of age in the modern world, critically declaimed author Jennifer Recchio takes on such thrilling subjects as math, groceries, and oil changes. The collection includes poems that have been published in online magazines such as Word Riot and Defenestration, and other poems that have never been seen before.







Honestly, the cover caught my attention that's why I downloaded it from NetGalley. I'm not really into poetry but I decided to give this one a try. :)
-o-
Who would have thought poems about oil change can be written? Haha! Odeful is a collection of poems about the daily things in life, from the humdrum chores to deeper realizations about life and love. In normal circumstances, some subjects can be dull. But Jennifer Recchio was able to write about them in an entertaining way.

I must admit, some poems I had a hard time understanding (Haha!) but I enjoyed the book nonetheless. It was a short one and can be read in one sitting. So I guess it is perfect for traveling or when you're waiting and you need to kill time.


Jennifer Recchio is a ghostly apparition who can only communicate through her enchanted mac book. Her spirit is rumored to reside somewhere in Southern Indiana, but no public sightings have yet been reported.

Upon reaching the age of 22 she accidentally earned a chemistry degree. She's sure it's still around here somewhere. She may or may not enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons, eating Cheez-itz, and listening to musical soundtracks (Source: Jennifer Recchio Website).

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Letter to Fear by Patricia L. Steffy: ARC Review


Title: My Letter to Fear: Essays on Life, Love and the Search for Prince Charming
Author: Patricia L. Steffy
Publication Details: January 30, 2014 by Createspace
Copy: eARC from NetGalley

If you could address your fears, obstacles and expectations directly, what would you say? Does the life you currently lead look anything like the one you thought you’d be leading back on those day-dreamy teenage afternoons? Those questions became the jumping off point for a collection of often hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking, essays in Patricia Steffy’s “My Letter to Fear: Essays on Life, Love and the Search for Prince Charming.”

The collection, based on Steffy’s own experiences, as well as the experiences of women she interviewed, is liberally infused with humor while still tackling weighty concerns. Pieces cover a variety of topics, including aging, body image, abuse, addiction, confidence, drama, loss, beauty myths, and (yes) fear. Witty and relatable, Steffy’s essay-style chapters bring both resolution and a desire to read more – resulting in the feeling that rather than just reading, you are having a conversation with your best friend.

An enjoyable read. Short, funny but relevant.

My Letter to Fear is a collection of short essays on topics like professional career, social life, love, and well, life in general, as well as essays on other relevant issues concerning women. Inspired by the author's experience and also other women's, this book tells in an entertaining way how fear often interferes with life and how women (and also men) should not let this fear do the controlling in life.


My favorite essays are Grabbing Time, Perspectives,  Temptation, If Only and Waiting. While I'm still "starting with my life," I can easily relate to her life reflections and realizations because let's face it, the reality of life is so big it can get really scary. And also, I'm a worrier myself. I worry about the future even though I know it is unnecessary. Ugh. So yeah. 


Writing
I liked the author's writing style. While each essay may not be related to the other, there's a smooth flow with the way the topics were presented. Also, she was able to give encouragement and yes, chastisement, without being dragging and condescending. Injected with humor and inspiring anecdotes, reading the book was both an enjoyable and inspiring experience.

-o-

I would definitely recommend this book! My Letter to Fear will tell you that yes, life can be a little intimidating at times (or okay most of the times) but you're not alone. And we can go through life successfully if only you believe. :)



ph source: Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths

PATRICIA STEFFY was born and raised in Ohio. She attended Kenyon College, earning a degree in international studies, focusing on economics and the Soviet Union. Naturally, this meant she spent almost as much time rehearsing for performances with the College’s dance company as she did studying Russian. Subsequently, she received an M.A. in international development, focusing on business and economics, from American University.


The beauty of a liberal arts education is that in addition to spending 16 years working as a business development analyst for an international corporate law firm, Steffy was inspired to pursue her interests as a writer and film producer. As co-owner of Circe’s World Films, Steffy has been involved in co- and exec-producing a number of feature and short films ranging from broad comedy to psychological drama, including the award-winning short Touch (Source: Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne: Book Review


Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Published: October 28, 2008 by David Fickling Books
Copy: Paperback [Purchased]

If you start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy named Bruno. (Though this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.

Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to encounter one.

-o-





The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a short yet very moving read. I'm interested in stories set during the Second World War, so when I saw the movie tie-in edition cover, I knew that I have to read this book. I read this while our province was experiencing Typhoon Glenda. We had no electricity so I finally had time to read without any distractions.

Plot
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas follows the life of Bruno when he and his family moved from their five-storey house in Berlin to a three-storey one in Out-With. Coming from a wealthy family, knowing only abundance in life, and being only nine-years old, life in Out-With would not be that easy. Until he met a new friend- the boy in striped pajamas.

As I've mentioned earlier, stories about the World War II interest me. I've read books and watched films about the war but The Boy in the Striped Pajamas brought another side to the story. It's refreshing as I haven't read or watched anything like it before (I haven't watched the movie yet). Told in the eyes of Bruno, a nine year old boy and son of a German officer, the story was approached with innocence and simplicity. I liked how the author, John Boyne, was able to convey such innocence about what's going on yet at the same time bring to the readers the sorrow and pain of the war.

I was able to predict the ending so I had a chance to prepare myself. Nonetheless, the sadness was still there. Casualties of war go beyond those who died in the battlefield. In war, everyone is a victim.

Characters
Each chapter, though short, is relevant as each explores the characters in the book. I believe that they all made an impact on Bruno's life.

Aside from Bruno, Shmuel also made an impact. He, too, faces the war with innocence. But unlike Bruno, his eyes are not exempted from the brutality of the Nazis. Though he can't grasp the whole situation he's in, deep down he knows that something is wrong.

My other favorite characters were Maria and Pavel. They're minor characters but I was able to relate to them. I just couldn't help but feel sad and angry about their situations, about their unheard sentiments.

I have a love-hate relationship with Bruno's father, the Commandant. But at the end, I still felt for him. And I know that the incident opened his eyes and his heart.

Writing
I liked how the innocent POV was strengthened by the way the characters and the places were described and also by the use of Fury (Fuhrer) and Out-With (Auschwitz). I liked how John Boyne was able to relay the sides even of the minor characters, and how no chapter is wasted as each tells something relevant to the whole.
-o-

This book brought out mixed emotions that are both familiar and new. It's not only a story about war, but also of friendship and life in difficult times.


ph source: www.johnboyne.com
I was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1971, and studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin, and creative writing at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, where I was awarded the Curtis Brown prize.

My early writing consisted mostly of short stories and the first one I published, The Entertainments Jar, was shortlisted for the Hennessy Literary Award in Ireland. Many of my stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies.

I’ve published 8 novels for adults and four for younger readers, including The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas which was a New York Times no.1 Bestseller and was made into a Miramax feature film. It has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide.

I am also a regular book reviewer for The Irish Times and have been a judge for both the Hennessy Literary Awards and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (Source: John Boyne Website).

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

God, Just Tell Me What To Do by Michael Youssef: ARC Review


cover from NetGalley

Title: God, Just Tell Me What to Do (Leading the Way Through James: A Devotional Commentary for Everyone)
Author: Michael Youssef
Publication details: August 1, 2014 by Harvest House Publishers
Copy: Review Copy from NetGalley

The epistle of James is unusual in tone and content among the New Testament letters, containing many moral precepts and challenging readers to seek godly wisdom on such topics as

- poverty and riches
- trials and temptation
- hearing and obeying the Word of God
- faith versus works
- taming the tongue
- friendship with the world versus friendship with God
- patience in suffering

The wisdom of this letter speaks to us across the ages as every issue James addresses is as urgent and timely today as when he first wrote it. For the person who wants to be wise, time spent soaking up the wisdom of James, the half-brother of Jesus, is time wisely spent.

-o-

This book is a blessing. The whole subject of the book, which is the book of James, is congruent to the lessons I plan to teach in Sunday School.

In reading Christian devotional books, one has to be discerning because a lot of 'false teaching' are circulating. And with good, convincing words, it will be very easy to persuade a reader. But this book by Michael Youssef spoke to me like God is speaking to me. It is Bible-based as it revolves around the book of James, and is filled with truths that communicate directly to the heart.

When I started God, Just Tell Me What to Do, I knew that God directed me to reading it, and that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me. Again, a blessing. I learned a lot. I was reminded of how faith really works. Every chapter, every paragraph is really inspiring.

It took me a while to finish this because I was taking down notes. This book is perfect for further studying and/or relearning the truths about faith. The discussion follows the order of the book of James. The five chapters of James were discussed thoroughly citing other Bible verses so that readers will have a deep understanding about faith.

I also liked the style of writing and the organization of thoughts. The discussion was easy to understand, even deeper thoughts were easy to grasp. I did find myself nodding while I was reading. Haha!

God, Just Tell Me What to Do taught me a lot about faith. It can be quite overwhelming, the straight walk towards God's path, but I was reassured by the power of God's love. I still have a long way to go regarding my journey and I'm thankful that I came across this book.

I definitely recommend this to those who want to deepen their faith and commit their lives to serving God. I can see myself rereading this in the near future. Also, this is a good teaching material for Bible study and Sunday School.

I am also interested in reading the other works of Michael Youssef. Hopefully, I will be able to buy some at the Manila International Book Fair. :)




Michael Youssef received theological degrees from Moore College in Australia, Fuller Theological Seminary in California, and a PhD in social anthropology from Emory University. He traveled around the world on behalf of the Haggai Institute, speaking to thousands of leaders. In 1987 he founded The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia, which served as a platform for Leading the Way’s international television and radio ministry, where Dr. Youssef is heard daily by millions at home and in over 190 countries (Source: Harvest House).

Monday, July 7, 2014

Stephanie Perkins: Book Signing Event #5

Hi folks!

Yesterday, July 6, was Stephanie Perkins' book signing event at the National Bookstore, Glorietta 1. I left home at around 4 AM, and arrived at ~4:40- 5 AM. Haha!

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Yep! I was 35th. It's good enough since I was able to go home at around 4 PM. :)

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The event started at around 2 PM. Stephanie arrived with her husband, Jarrod. :)

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The crowd went wild, and so Steph was really overwhelmed. Well, the fans really love her!

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The interview proper. I'm going to have a separate post for the interview so as not to make this one very long. :)

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These lucky people got ARCs of Isla and the Happily Ever After. They were the early birds. You got to admire them for their dedication, yeah? :)

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Steph was thanking her fans. She told us that she will definitely rave about the Philippines and Filipino book lovers to her author friends, and hopefully, persuade them to come to the Philippines too!

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I love them! They're so cute and sweet! :)

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While Steph was signing, most fans had their pictures taken with Jarrod. Most also had their books signed by him. I didn't get the chance though because the queue was looooong. And I had to be home early. (Oh! Thanks Michael for the pic. I hope I got your name right. Haha!)

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With Ms. Stephanie Perkins! She's not only talented but she's also beautiful. :) And there I was, looking haggard as ever. I always look haggard during signing event. And also, left is not my best angle. Haha!

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Signed! The pens matched the covers too!

That's all folks!
Until next post!