Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book Shopping Playdate

On a video chat with Amir and my Mom last week, I'd asked Amir if he wanted to hang out with us on Sunday. I thought of luring him with promise of getting books and it worked! He said he wanted to get colouring books. I knew how much he liked Activity Books but I wanted something he would read so I asked if he was interested in a book to read - he said yes, and about dinosaurs. 

He was up early on Sunday morning and my Dad sent me a text:

At the mall, he held on to Kuya Dodong and raced me all the way to the National Book Store. Of course there was no contest! I almost couldn't keep up.

At the store, I had my own shopping to do so the hubby helped Amir pick the books he wanted. He ended up with 2 activity books on Dinos, a book of trivia on the same subject, and a 4th book on - you'd never guess it - Angry Birds The Movie! 

That last one he picked right off the shelf all by himself. Each book he chose, he thumbed through before deciding. We showed him other books and he said "No, thanks," for those he didn't find interesting. He seemed content with just getting one, and he didn't ask for more than what he was offered. 

It was such a pleasant shopping experience. 

Look at that happy face:

I am currently reading a book about Bookshops and book sellers, and it brought back memories of bookstore trips with my parents. I am always grateful for being born into a family of readers, and this is my way of passing it on to my nephew. 

All in all it was a happy Book Shopping Playdate, of course I didn't leave the bookstore without my own happy haul:

Another win for Philippine Publishing! I got The Big Fat Book of Self Love by the editors of  body-positive blog Plump.PhThe ABCs of Had Lettering by Abbey Sy (she recently launched a book on journaling which I would love to get too), and Chic by Daphne Osena-Paez. I also snagged this carry-all tote from the NBS x Chuvaness line - I used it at work today and got compliments on it. I love how roomy it is and it's made of canvas. 

What have you picked up from the bookstore lately?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Black Pearl by Scott O'Dell

My 3rd book for the 2016 is another Newberry Honor Book this time from the year 1968, Scott O'Dell's The Black Pearl. 

Cover art, no copyright infringement intended

This book tells the kind of story that captivates a young one's imagination and keeps him/her turning the page to find what happens next. It had somewhat of that effect on me, but being two or three times the age of the target demographic, I didn't quite finish reading in one sitting. I enjoyed it, nonetheless. 

Ramon worked with his father in trading pearls. They owned a fleet that went out to sea to get pearls, and then come back to sell them. Apart from what their fleet brings home, other people also come to their shop to sell their finds. 

At 16, Ramon felt that it was time for him to take a more active role in the family business. One day, he demanded his father take him with the fleet so he too can go out and seek the pearls. His father agreed but he didn't get to do the tasks he thought he would do. 

He wanted more. And if his father wasn't about to let him learn to dive for pearls, he was going to find a way to do it on his own. 

He succeeded and was able to bring home the Pearl of Heaven - a magnificent large black pearl. But the Indian Soto Luzon warned him that it belongs to the Manta Diablo who will demand it back one day.

This was just the beginning of an adventure for Ramon. The founding of the Pearl of Heaven brought in a new era for Ramon and he was never the same since. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

What would you do if you were the lone survivor of a plane crash, and the landing site was in the middle of nowhere?

I wouldn't know what to do. I don't know how long I will survive. Days could probably pass before I starve to death because I have a lot of adipose fat that my body can use for fuel. But when that is no longer enough, I wouldn't really know what to do for food. 

Image from Amazon
In this Newberry Honor Book, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, 13 year old Bryan is able to survive in the Canadian wilderness aided by his hatchet - a present that his mother gave him just before he left for the trip that would forever change his life. 

This is a relatively short read, and targeted for children and young teens. It is a coming of age story of a young boy struggling through life as a child of newly divorced parents - and then living alone in the forest. One minute he was given a chance to handle the reins of a Cessna, then next he was witnessing the pilot have a heart attack. He then had to land the plane on his own minutes later. 

He is bruised and battered. Then hungry, and very hungry. He learns to drink from the lake, pick berries (and eat in moderation), avoid bears, eat turtle eggs. He also makes a shelter, and builds a fire. He is resourceful, and his senses are heightened - he didn't used to be those, but he had to change. His environment and circumstances forced him to change. Forced him to grow up. 

I bought this book not because I was interested in reading an adventure story but really because of the Nebwery Honor seal. It didn't disappoint. Maybe I just have good imagination, but you couldn't help but have a mental picture of the setting while reading. It's also a good way to initiate conversations around man vs. nature, positivity, navigating the world around you, and coping to change. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

You are doing a Freaking Great Job

For Christmas 2015, I received this small gem of a book from my colleague Amor. You are doing a Freaking Great Job and other reminders of your AWESOMENESS.

I love this book. It's a compilation of lines and quotes to remind you that all will be well. Each page is done beautifully, sometimes I feel like tearing it off and giving it away as a card or putting it up on display at my desk. The only thing that keeps from doing that is my selfish desire to keep them all in one place so I can look upon them again some other time. 

Here's a sample page: 

Every day at our Operations Team Huddle, we end our session with a quote off this book. I just flip through until everyone says STOP and read on. This is what we got today. Make Yourself Proud - Peter W. Smith

I truly truly appreciate this book. It helps me remind my team why we do what we do, and to keep on going. And in case you need a reminder - YOU ARE DOING A FREAKING GREAT JOB!

Buy it from Amazon, or from the National BookStore

Monday, May 2, 2016

Amy, My Daughter by Mitch Winehouse

Amy Winehouse was a singer-songwriter from the UK. She was multi-awarded and very talented. She also died young. 

I'm not really her fan - I hardly knew her music. I've listened to a few and liked what I've heard, but at the height of her career I didn't really know a lot about her or her music. When she died though, I knew it made headlines. I remember seeing her photos on TV and that she had been called alcoholic and a drug addict. 

This book was written by her father, Mitch Winehouse, and has been pretty straight forward. It's a narrative of a father who watched his only daughter zoom to the top, and also spiral down because of one addiction after another. 

It seems that the family, her management, and even her record label, were all very supportive of her and were consistently around to help her quit her bad habits. They consulted specialists, they brought her to hospitals, but what puzzles me is why didn't they get her psychiatric help? If not for medication (she took replacement drugs for her coke habit), they should have sought therapy for her. 

Based on what I've read, she had a lot of issues do deal with. She seeks attention. She harms herself. Her husband seems to love her but is so deep in drugs that he can's do right by her. She wanted to get better, but she just wasn't strong enough to do it on her own. 

Her family setup the Amy Winehouse Foundation to help addicts and their families deal with this very complex problem. I hope that the Foundation is able to help others like Amy, so their story need not end so abruptly. 

This was an easy read because the author's voice was quite easy to follow. But it was also quite sad too see such talent go to waste. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Breaking Bad

I finally finished all 5 bad-ass seasons of Breaking Bad! 

Wallpaper image from:

Both the husband and I got hooked on Breaking Bad very late in its TV run. We actually didn't hear much about it until its last season, which is no surprise because it wasn't shown on Philippine TV. Not even on cable. 

So in 2013, the husband downloaded the first season and we watched the episodes back to back to back during one of our rest days off work. We finished the first season and a few episodes from Season 2, and then we stopped. 

Thanks to Netflix, I got to watch all the rest under a month's time. 

I won't go and spoil the story for those who may be interested in watching the show. It is the story of a Chemistry teacher Mr White, diagnosed with fatal lung cancer who goes into the Meth business with his former student Jesse, to pay for his treatments and build up a fund to leave to his family when he dies.

What was to be just a few cooks ends up becoming a whole empire. And the rest is history. 

You will be amazed at his brilliance, his intuition, and his... grit. He is like a bida-kontrabida in Pinoy teleseryes. You don't know whether to love him or to hate him. At times I felt like - this is so impossible, he gets away with everything! That doesn't happen. It just doesn't happen. But it does for him. 

And oh how I hated his wife Skylar! And his sister-in-law Marie who was so annoying at times. But my favourite character has got to be Jesse Pinkman, such a softie Jesse was. He who lost his loved ones. Sigh. 

Anyway, I still have major hangover for Breaking Bad that I'm diving right into watching a spin-off series - Better Call Saul. 

Who else is a Breaking Bad fan here?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Aloha (2015)

The movie Aloha was released in 2015 and it stars Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams. 

Cooper is ex-Military who now works as a private contractor. He is coming back to Hawaii for another deal, and apparently, to also confront his past. 

McAdams is his ex-girlfriend, now married to a US Air Force pilot. They have two children but pretty soon you are left wondering whether or not Gracie is actually Cooper’s daughter! Well is she, or isn’t she?

Stone is a Jet Fighter Pilot assigned to chaperone Cooper for this mission. She had such an insight into him, it's almost as if she was instantly smitten. At first, Cooper seemed annoyed by her but she wiggled her cute self right into his heart. And really, who wouldn't fall for Emma Stone, er Allison Ng?

Now Cooper's character has quite a job. He needs to convince the King of Hawaii to let the US Government use their land for a new space station. And succeeding in this job means a second chance for him. A second chance to work with his former boss - billionaire Carson played by Bill Murray - and a chance to redeem himself in the face of former colleagues. 

It's an okay movie. Almost a romantic comedy, not quite a drama. The story isn't really much interesting, which is probably why this movie didn't make it to our shores. You just would stick with it because of the actors, they are quite endearing. 

Anyway, here's the trailer: