Monthly Archives: May 2012

When I See You by Katherine Owen

Wow, it’s been almost two weeks since my last post – I apologize for the delay. Work got busier and one of our dogs suddenly became ill, so I have to attend to him more than usual. For me, that meant getting up earlier than I used to and ending up sleeping early due to tiredness. But of course, I managed to sneak in a few readings here and there despite my reading slump that came with the unfortunate events happened. Good thing I overcame it immediately.

I ordered When I See You by Katherine Owen a few months ago and the book just arrived this month. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this book already, so when I got the book, I set aside the other to-be-read books first. Here’s the plot description of the book:

He breaks his promise,

more than once.

He makes another.

Will she believe him?

Can he keep it?

Jordan Holloway and Brock Wainwright share a past connection and devastating loss that intricately ties them to one another. But now, both must find their way to a new and different life and discover for themselves that moving on begins with letting go, making promises, and keeping them, most of all.

At one point in life, we all get to experience death of a person close to our hearts. This feeling of grief after losing someone you love is inescapable and unbearable. And each of us has our own way on how to cope with it.

In Jordan’s case, she tries to bury her pain deep inside her and pretend that everything’s fine. I don’t think I can handle her sufferings if I were in her situation. All the things she has gone through – they’re just too much to bear. On the other hand, though, as I am given the opportunity to get a glimpse of her inner thoughts, I come to admire Jordan’s strength as she battles the inevitable reality of pain. She’s also fortunate to be surrounded by loving and caring people to help her stay sane and grounded.

As much as this story is about Jordan, Brock plays a significant role in it, too. The alternating point of views of Jordan and Brock actually helps in making readers better understand their feelings. Both Brock and Jordan share the same loss of the person they love and this connection surprisingly intertwines their lives. With this said, the story slowly unfolds the beginnings of their evident attraction to one another. There may be struggles at one point, but all ends well.

As the story progresses, Brock loses his sight, literally, during his tour in Afghanistan with Ethan, and his blindness seems to send readers a figurative meaning, too. One way or another, I guess him losing sight shows how he’s still in denial of the unfortunate reality that has happened, as well as the fact that he’s not ready to see Jordan yet in ways he wants it to be. I also understand Brock’s helplessness over his blindness. It becomes hard to do the normal things a person does once he is stripped from any of his senses. I guess this gives readers a message not to take their very person for granted.

Moving on, I would also like to discuss about Brock and Ethan. Despite being best of friends and having each other’s backs, Ethan and Brock possess different personalities. It’s hard to choose which of the two is better than the other because both of them show how they love Jordan in their own unique ways. There are moments, though, that they act like jerks, but I guess relationships aren’t always perfect. And sometimes, it takes enough risks to prove how much you love a person. For me, I may be biased, but what Brock and Jordan have contains a richer form of love than what Jordan had with Ethan. The simple and grand gestures Brock does for Jordan makes me feel giddy inside and I become hopeful that I could find a person like him in this world.

I really love the fact that the characters are created realistic enough to be relatable to the readers. Each character is portrayed uniquely with varied personalities – from the care-free Ashleigh, devastated-yet-loving Jordan, to innocent and thoughtful Max and hateful Kate. The storyline is also believable. There may be too many deaths, but it is overcome by the happiness that forms towards the end of the book. The word promise is given importance here as well – a word which can’t be taken too lightly, that once used, every word is meant to be kept sincerely.

Katherine Owen truly has a way of choosing the right words to perfectly capture the mood of the scenes. It makes me savor every sentence, preserve it, and bring it alive in my imagination. Moreover, her detailed description of the surroundings make me want to visit the places mentioned in the book, especially the beach house in Malibu, the Wainwright’s ranch, as well as the Lazy J. Oh, how I wish I could experience living in each place even just for one day.

Overall, When I See You is worth the read. Readers will laugh with the characters, feel their pains, and cry with them. They will surely be engulfed by these waves of emotions that the author has set. I really enjoyed reading every bit of it. This book will not disappoint you.


That Kind of Guy by Mina V. Esguerra

Ever since I found out about Mina V. Esguerra’s new book, That Kind of Guy, I have already been extra alert about its release date. So, when I recently discovered that the book’s been released in other bookstores, I headed to the nearest store and bought a copy.

That Kind of Guy is a companion novella to No Strings Attached. No, the book isn’t about Carla and Dante, but about the relationship between Julie and Anton – or Tonio – instead. Here’s the summary from the back cover of the book:

Good girl Julie never expected her hot former-player boyfriend to propose marriage. But when he did, she turned him down for reasons even she couldn’t figure out. Will she settle for a nice, safe guy instead? Or will she let him find his way back into her carefully guarded heart?

The pacing of the story is just right. Readers will be introduced to some of Anton’s past relationships and will slowly come to the news that Julie broke up with Anton. After which, Julie will begin narrating how she and Anton met, how they got together, to how they broke up.

In No Strings Attached, Julie is seen as someone who is hard to get along with. And Anton, also known as Tonio in that book, is being portrayed as a playboy-type kind of guy. These were my initial impressions on them, but of course, first impressions don’t usually last. As in the case of That Kind of Guy, I’m glad the book gives me a chance to get to know the two of them better and most importantly, it makes them become likable in the eyes of the readers. I’m pretty sure the girls will swoon over Anton, too. In fact, the way he easily gets along with Julie’s family, with the way he treats Julie and cares for her, truly suits my kind of guy.

I actually like the way Mina V. Esguerra structures the story which pushes people to be more immersed in the book. At one point, some questions are raised, but they will soon be answered as the story progresses. This tactic has been very effective on me because it keeps me turning one page after another that in just a day and a half, I finished the book completely.

True enough, I did not just enjoy this book, but lessons about relationships can be learned from it as well. As what Anton said, relationships have nothing to do with age, but about finding the right person. And sometimes, meeting the right person can be found in the most unexpected places. Julie has been very cautious about it, hence her lack of experience. I’m not going to further elaborate on this one, so that I won’t spill out any spoilers. At the end of the day, what matters most is that present and true love requires taking risks.

Overall, That Kind of Guy is another fascinating book by Mina V. Esguerra. I didn’t regret to pick up this book. And I’m definitely looking forward to her other works.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Book Hoarders Anonymous (BHA) is an online book club hosted by Alison over at The Cheap Reader (Click here for more info).

For the month of May, the book chosen for BHA is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It so happened that I have the book unread. So this was the perfect chance for me to read it and at the same time, join BHA for the first time.

Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last!

But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaw around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

There are actually two film adaptations of the book and I was able to watch both versions – the 1971 and 2005 productions. I’m sure most of you have already watched the movie of either one of the versions, so the story would not be unfamiliar to the majority.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is such an enjoyable read. The book may just be short, but the way Roald Dahl has written it will make readers be immersed in the story. The narration is so detailed that readers will devour every word and description about chocolates, candies, chewing gums, and most importantly, about Willy Wonka’s magical factory. Even though I’m not a fan of sweets, this book convinces me enough to want to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

While I read the book, I actually had fun meeting the five children who won the Golden Tickets. All of them have very diverse personalities and of course, Charlie Bucket is the most likable one. It would definitely be hard to come across someone like him. For the rest, well, I need not say more.

Can you imagine a chocolate that is more filling and satisfying than any food you could think of? That’s Mr. Wonka’s chocolates for you – making everyone’s mouth water and drool over them! However, with an in-depth analysis of the book, there’s actually more to it than merely being a children’s book.

First of all, in economic concept, Willy Wonka’s announcement of the Golden Tickets has been a great marketing strategy to make more consumers buy his products. And of course, it is inevitable to have competitions between companies and it takes certain measures to bring some down. As in the book’s case, I understand the reason why Willy Wonka removed all his employees because I won’t deny the fact that this situation happens in reality especially in the corporate/business world. On the side note, I really don’t understand why people allow their greed to swallow their conscience. I guess it’s today’s high-tech version of survival of the fittest.

Second, topics about inequality and injustice between social classes are also discussed indirectly. Nuff said.

And last, the Oompa-Loompa songs. I just love the originality and creativity of Mr. Dahl’s composition of the songs. They consist of both literal and figurative meanings which are applicable in real life. Perhaps these can serve as a lesson to teach the children, too.

In conclusion, readers could tell that Roald Dahl has great imagination and this book, without a doubt, proves it. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has humor with a touch of weirdness to it which makes the book more fun and enjoyable to read. All I can say is that this is one heck of an adventurous ride to be lost in the world of imagination.

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

After reading The Book Thief, I suddenly couldn’t get enough of Markus Zusak, so I bought another one of his works, I Am the Messenger. Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?

Who would’ve thought that a nineteen-year-old guy would save the day which changes everything that will happen in his life afterwards? That’s Ed Kennedy for you. After the bank robbery incident, he receives one card at a time with a message written on it and it’s up to him to decipher what the card is telling him to do, and more importantly figure out why he’s been chosen by the sender to do these things. This book may be about Ed, but reading this feels like readers are also involved in the story – contemplating, questioning, and reflecting just like Ed does: What’s the purpose of the cards in his life? What’s in it for him? All these questions raised during the story will be answered towards the end of the book. True enough, this book has so much to offer than merely a work of fiction. It’s both realistic and relatable to the readers.

Ed, being the protagonist of the book, has the most complex characterization. He may just be an underage cabdriver who’s living a mediocre life, but there’s something more to him than that. He possesses great amount of patience and always reacts to situations so calmly. I deem him as someone who’s intelligent and heroic in the simplest way possible. The questions he asks about his surroundings also have philosophical depth in it. Even I have to stop, ponder, and reflect upon what Ed has said. I won’t deny the fact that how Ed handles the situations to send out a message can actually be applied in real life.

Cards are considered to be objects of entertainment. While this is shown in the book, Markus Zusak also transforms it into something more. They have turned out to be significant in Ed’s life. The people he meets become a part of his life just as he is to them. And the messages written on the cards definitely expose him to the bigger world which eventually influences his level of maturity as well as his view in life. I’m actually amazed by how Ed manages to know what he needs to do in every message. It’s like the solutions come out naturally from him. I wouldn’t have been able to do what he thought of.

Moving on, of all Ed’s messages, what appeals to me the most is the part where I get to discover the deeper side of Marv’s life. What Marv has gone through is inevitable, especially in today’s society. And it’s rare to meet someone with the same level of determination as Marv’s. Plus, the way he courageously confronts Suzanne’s father is epic! I doubt all people who are in his shoes will act the way Marv did.

I truly enjoy this book. Markus Zusak’s writing style has once again kept me turning the pages as the story is filled with suspense and mystery with a mixture of humor here and there. I just love how the author makes the Doorman participate in the story despite being a minor pet character. I always have a soft spot for dogs and I admire Ed’s relationship with the Doorman.

This uniquely written book has certainly made an impact on me, just as much as how The Book Thief deeply touched my heart. All I can say is that books like these should never be left unread or ignored by people. Overall, I Am the Messenger is another impressive work by Markus Zusak. I could never ask for a better ending. And I can proudly say that I have now fallen in love with his works. Another job well done. I don’t think I would ever get tired reading Markus Zusak’s books.

So with that said, I would like to end this post with a quote taken from the book:

“If a guy like you can stand up and do what you did for all those people, well, maybe everyone can. Maybe everyone can live beyond what they’re capable of.”

On Higher Ground with Gary V Takes Me to Cloud Nine

From the day I found out the schedule for Gary Valenciano’s concert to celebrate his 29th anniversary in the industry, I immediately booked tickets for me, my sister, and my friend. The concert series will be held in Music Museum for 8 days during the month of April and May, and we decided to watch on the 27th of April.

I remember before, my high school alma mater would invite Gary V to perform for their founding anniversary (I forgot the exact date). I think he was invited twice when I studied there. There was this time when my sister asked us to watch one of Gary V’s performances with her and the moment when I first knew and saw Gary V turned out to be a cathartic moment. Because since then, I became his fan.

Fast forward to present. On the day of Gary V.’s Day 6 On Higher Ground concert series, my sister, my friend, and I planned to leave our house earlier so that we won’t be late and avoid the horrible traffic congestion in Greenhills. Unfortunately, since it was a Friday and the Avengers movie is showing in theaters, our plan didn’t exactly work out the way we wanted it to be. All parking spaces and valet services near Music Museum were full, but good thing there’s still valet service in front of Promenade.

Upon entering the theater, the backdrop of the stage was quite intriguing. I think it was almost 8 in the evening when we entered, but the seats weren’t full yet.

After minutes of waiting, the show started. Jordan Escusa did the opening act of the concert. I was impressed by his hosting skills because he can very well entertain the audience by imitating the voice of sponsor ads, as well as Optimus Prime from Transformers. According to my friend, he was once invited as speaker for our high school alma mater retreat last time.

Next, Quest performed some songs before the main event the audiences were waiting for. I can certainly say that Quest did an amazing job incorporating Gary V’s song titles into a structured, meaningful lyric of his rap.

And the wait is over, Gary V finally appeared! I was able to capture some cool pictures during the show:

This part was where Gary had a blooper moment (haha!). I wouldn’t mention what happened, but I’m pretty sure everyone who watched that night will know what I’m talking about, including Gary V himself.

Julianne, another talented artist, was the guest of the concert. After her solo performance, she and Gary sang a medley of some of his mellow songs.

Gary was also able to share the Word of God through his performance. That night, the verse that best described him was Psalm 92:14. It says: They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh… (NIV version). Gary V brought out music alive and fresh. Both young and old can undoubtedly relate to his songs.

And Gary V sang a quintet version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow with a recording of himself in four distinct voices.

And then, the shoulder pads (!!!), as Gary V would call it. The songs performed during this session transported the audience back to the 80s, letting the older ones feel nostalgic over their childhood days. Juan Miguel Salvador played the keyboard. The only song I recognized was Don’t Stop Believing (because I am young… LOL).

My sister, my friend, and I wouldn’t have noticed that Jed Madela was seated right in front of us if Gary V didn’t call out to him. So Jed Madela was requested to go on stage and sing for the fans who requested for a sample. He sang Natutulog Ba Ang Diyos? – he possessed such an amazing voice, by the way.

As the concert was nearing its end, Gary V sang a few songs which included my all-time-favorite: How Did You Know. He also sang Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin, Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo, and Sana Maulit Muli.

The concert, without a doubt, provided a great opportunity where the audience can witness Gary V’s amazing God-given talents in singing and dancing. His passion for it shows that he’s not doing it in vain, but instead, he’s doing it for Him. It’s kind of hard to imagine the fact that he’s already 47 years old and yet he can still sing and dance his heart out. I don’t think I could still do what he can do if I were in his shoes.

With that said, it is evident that he is a living example of God’s unconditional love for us. Gary V proves to have complete faith in the Lord by not letting his diabetes become a hindrance to always bring out and show the best of what he can do. He is a walking, singing, and dancing miracle. Amazing, right? I guess it is in this very situation that we can humble ourselves and trust in God because at the end of the day, He’s still the one who gives us strength during times of darkness.

No words can express how immensely happy I was to experience this moment. Not only did Gary V’s songs and message touch my heart, but seeing him perform on stage left me speechless. Even the sounds and visuals captured the moment as well. I was so starstruck-ed that the time when I got the chance to take a picture with him, the muscles in my face were trembling! I hope nobody noticed it. However, on the brighter side, the experience was fulfilling – it was a dream come true to see him close up, take a picture with him, and hold his hand even just for a while.

But everything comes to an end. I wished and hoped to have more even though the concert ended. It seemed that I couldn’t get enough of it. The feeling was, indeed, so overwhelming. Up to now, I can’t stop smiling – Gary V hangover, I guess, haha! If only I could relive this moment, I would’ve gone back to it for as long as I live.

Overall, I’m glad to have watched his concert and I’m definitely looking forward to his 30th anniversary. This is truly a night to remember. His inspiring songs have surely lifted us up to stand on higher ground with him – letting us move our feet, as well as our hearts and souls.

(The other songs he sang during the show (those of which I recognize): Halina, Tara Na, Di Na Natuto, Wait Forever, Each Passing Night, Even For A While, Love is Real, Break Me, Take Me Out of the Dark, Warrior is a Child, Eto Na Naman, When She Smiles)