Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Monday, April 23, 2012

Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy

Finished another book this weekend. Another one of Maeve Binchy's, Heart and Soul.


Familiar characters from previous books made an appearance again. Brenda and Tom Brennan of Quentins. Maud and Simon (now 17 years old, but still very much the same!), Muttie and Lizzie scarlet, Cathy and Tom Feather of Scarlet Feather.

Photo Apr 23, 5 33 13 PM

This time around the story is all about the people that made up the warm and cozy community of the heart clinic. A specialty clinic attached to a main hospital, specifically setup for patients who may have suffered a heart attack, or are nearly having one.

The story opens with an introduction to Frank, the hospital's finance person – the natural enemy. Then of Dr. Clara Casey who built the center to the dynamic Community it has become. She picks the right mix of people to ever have to come to work together. There's just someone always at hand to handle whatever type of patient there is. Clara is quite the career woman. She has two daughters in their twenties. Their dad is currently in a relationship with a bimbo their age. As wonderful as Clara is, it was her misfortune to have had to hook up with a guy with too much testosterone (important information here on that topic, hehe). But after years and years of being legally separated and giving her ex a hard time getting a divorce, Clara finally moves on and starts on her own quest for the kind of love that would make her heart zing zing! No, she doesn’t just settle for the next man available. Being old doesn’t mean you have to settle.

For her colleagues, and perhaps to the cardiology community, Clara is a visionary, and she has much to contribute yet.

The center is indeed made up of a team of individuals who work together so well to provide the best care for their heart patients. Each one of them gets the spotlight at one point or another in the novel. Come to think of it, Lavander, the dietician and Tim the security guy had the least exposure of all of them. Does it mean they had less interesting lives? I'm intrigued now!

Lavander does demos that teach patients and their families how to prepare healthy food. How to plan it so that it doesn’t get too expensive, or don’t take too much of their time. She does a wonderful service! Tim, eventually finds love in the person of Lidia, the Polish Ania’s flatmate and school friend.

I think I would love to have worked in a place like that. Maybe as an Office manager, or receptionist. Or a case worker that does follow ups with the patients and home visits. It would be wonderful to have a clinic like that that people with high blood pressure and heart ailments can go to. Specially the part where they have exercise and cooking classes, I love that. I could imagine my grandparents probably frequenting such a place. And finding it a fun place to be at actually, rather than such a chore.

Now is there a weight loss clinic just like theirs? Everything you need is there and you visit a few times each week. And it doesn't cost much. And they teach you how to manage it all by yourself. I want that kind of clinic! Maybe someday when I have lots of money, or when I successfully lose weight and keep it off, I'll put up such a place. People would love to go and hangout. And not just fat people too. Skinny girls that need some plumping up will go too. Hehe :)

The hearts of the main characters were looked after too. They found love in the center! It's true what they say, sometimes you find love where you least expect it, or when you're not looking.

I love the story of Ania. I feel bad that she gets to be treated badly just because she's an immigrant. She is very hardworking, she can make more of herself than I can ever do for me. I think she punished herself too much for the mistake of her first love, but it did her well anyway. I thought there was some really big scandal and her mother disowned her but as it turned out it didn't even get blown out like that after all. Still, it propelled her to seek greener pastures, and to work harder. So it all worked out in the end for her. I wonder, will she go back to school? She can go to a secretarial school maybe, or a school for carers, or learn more about sewing and fashion. She has so much potential and she deserves her happy ending. Smile

Again, Binchy successfully reeled me into this wonderful world of the Irish. But what has their stories taught me? We can't be too quick to judge. Some things aren’t what they seem. People can be better or worse than we think they are. All we can do is give them a chance. And we all can do much and be much, with the right motivation. Passion. We just need to find it first, or have it find us. Once unlocked, sky's the limit.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wrath of the Titans (2012)


Clash of the Titans in 3D back in 2010 was quite disappointing. Not much action, and no 3D. I mean, if you pay premium to supposedly some 3D action, you want to get the bang for your buck right? Oh well. I’m not surprised that I didn’t even write about it. But the movie wasn’t all that bad, it just wasn’t all that good either.

But the sequel, well. Wrath of the Titans is better than its predecessor.  However, we didn’t try seeing this one in 3D but I can pretty much guess that some effects would have looked good on 3D.

There weren’t really any memorable lines. Not even from Zeus, or Hades, who turns out to have a redeeming factor. And Andromeda looked awkward in some scenes. She just wasn’t that believable as a Queen who really leads her army in battle. And I missed Io.

I wonder what happens to Hades next? He’s lost all of his godly power, so where does he go? Does he disintegrate too? Are the gods really just gone? Or do they just lose their bodies and would never have a human form again? I’m confused. Haha.

Here’s a look at Queen Andromeda. Okay, maybe I like her after all. And maybe it’s the lack of air brush makeup that I like for this character. All the blood splats on her face, hair, and clothes. Ugh. Do you know any other queen who has blood splats as an accessory?


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Open House by Elizabeth Berg


Photo Apr 15, 11 12 40 AM

I finished reading this novel two weeks ago. I picked it up very soon after the last one and read through quickly. Quite an easy read really. It’s very emotional in the sense that the main character Samantha goes through a big life change, yet it wasn’t very heavy to read.

Here’s the book description from Amazon:

In this superb novel by the beloved author of Talk Before Sleep, The Pull of the Moon, and Until the Real Thing Comes Along, a woman re-creates her life after divorce by opening up her house and her heart.
Samantha's husband has left her, and after a spree of overcharging at Tiffany's, she settles down to reconstruct a life for herself and her eleven-year-old son. Her eccentric mother tries to help by fixing her up with dates, but a more pressing problem is money. To meet her mortgage payments, Sam decides to take in boarders. The first is an older woman who offers sage advice and sorely needed comfort; the second, a maladjusted student, is not quite so helpful. A new friend, King, an untraditional man, suggests that Samantha get out, get going, get work. But her real work is this: In order to emerge from grief and the past, she has to learn how to make her own happiness. In order to really see people, she has to look within her heart. And in order to know who she is, she has to remember—and reclaim—the person she used to be, long before she became someone else in an effort to save her marriage.
Open House is a love story about what can blossom between a man and a woman, and within a woman herself.

Samantha, in the beginning, was more willing to welcome strangers to her home rather than say goodbye to her estranged husband. Even when her best friend tells her that she is better off without him, she doesn’t realize that right away. Sam is a classic example of how many of us lose our identity when we find ourselves attached to a relationship. This isn’t always the fault of our partners of course. I think it goes both ways. How do we continue to assert ourselves? How are our partners aware of our transformation, and how do they react to it?

In the end, if Sam’s ex came back and said he likes that Sam is getting her old self back – the Sam he first fell in love with – maybe the book would have ended differently. But no. He came back and couldn’t give a single acceptable reason; he misses what she does for him, not what he loves about her.

Sam reminds us that we should never stop the journey to the best person we can be. She shows us that every once in a while we need to open up in order to get perspective. We need to let others in, so we can see ourselves more.

In a way, Open House reminds me of The Year of Pleasures

I love Elizabeth Berg’s style. I’ve read her other titles and look forward to reading more.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I first heard of The Hunger Games trilogy when book 3, Mockingjay, was released in 2010. At the time I thought it was interesting, but I had so many books gathering dust (unread!) already I didn’t want to buy new ones. So I waited until Saturday to get the first book. Almost two years to wait.
I bought it, brought it home, slept on it. Went to work, read some of it on my break, and again on my lunch hour (didn’t eat anything), and at the parking lot before driving home. So I finished it yesterday morning. It hadn’t even been home 72 hours and I am done.
I liked it. Not in a why did I wait two years before reading you kind of way. But in a I’m looking forward to the film adaptation and the other two books kinda way.
Already, I feel bad for Peeta. That Katniss is bad news for him. Are there going to be Teams Peeta and Gale soon? Or will the love triangle not play out at all? I wonder.
Panem intrigues me. What’s it’s history? How did it come to be? Why call the games, Hunger Games? Now that last one wasn’t really answered was it? Panem is a modern world, but with a very medieval feel to it. Is that really how it’s going to be? History will repeat itself. Anyway. The farther away from the Capitol, the poorer the district is. Poor only because there is not much trading happening between districts, if at all. Each district concentrates only on the trade for which it is known for. It is forbidden to go beyond the fences – too bad because the woods are lush and can provide much to the people who otherwise could have none (can’t afford anything). The Games is an annual event where the districts are pitted against each other. The sole victor earns food and provision for his/her district for a full year. When your tribute becomes the victor, you receive blessings. You get fed for the next year.
The tributes, as soon as their names are drawn, should just as well provide their families with their last will and testament before they are taken to the Capitol.  How many actually expect to go back home? Except for the so-called Careers – kids who ‘train’ and volunteer to become a tribute – who looks forward to being a tribute and competing in the Games? Surely not the child whose name has been entered into drawing many many times in exchange for just enough provisions. 
Whoever thought up the game is ruthless. Play for something, yes, that happens all the time and everywhere. But have kids fight to the death. Tsk. Child abuse. And to make it mandatory viewing for all citizens of Panem. Ugh.
Good thing it’s a fantasy world. Whatever we do in our lifetime, we have to do something to make sure that doesn’t become the reality for our descendants, no matter how many hundreds or thousands of years into the future it is. 
Can’t wait to see the movie. Smile
Oh and guess what, I finally have an entry for the Award Winning Books Reading Challenge!
I’m only aiming for Level 1. Smile
Awards received – lifted directly from Wikipedia:
The Hunger Games received a number of awards and honors. It was named one of Publishers Weekly's "Best Books of the Year" in 2008[52] and a The New York Times "Notable Children's Book of 2008".[53] It was the 2009 winner of the Golden Duck Award in the Young Adult Fiction Category.[54] The Hunger Games was also a "2008 Cybil Winner" for fantasy and science-fiction books along with The Graveyard Book.[55] It also one of School Library Journal's "Best Books 2008"[56] and a "Booklist Editors' Choice" in 2008.[57] In 2011, the book won the California Young Reader Medal.[58] In the 2012 edition of Scholastic's Parent and Child magazine, The Hunger Games was listed as the 33rd best book for children, with the award for "Most Exciting Ending".[59][60]

Sunday, April 1, 2012

End of Month Book Stash

April’s here. Summer. But the last week of March has been wet wet wet for us it hardly feels like it’s summer. Honestly, it’s more like start-of-school weather than end-of-school. Oh well.

Work’s been hectic too, and I feel last week was a whole lot of catch up. You know what I mean? And I didn’t get caught up. If anything, I’m even more behind.

Something new happened at work last week though. There was a Town Hall meeting for all customer care vendors and the company’s CEO. We all gathered in one big room and logged on to an audio and web conferencing site to listen to a rah-rah session, and then some QnAs. It was actually good. Next time, we hope to hear more praises directed at us. Winking smile

Anyway, to make myself feel a little better this weekend, I walked into a book sale (Fully Booked Gateway) and left with three books and a magazine:


image source: DigitalPhotographer PH


image source: All the Pieces Matter


image source: MangaUK


image source: Page Flirt

You probably aren’t surprised by the first two titles, specially since the movie is showing now and there’s been some comparison made between the two story lines. The third, you may be wondering about. Well, I’ve been wanting to see the musical but I don’t see it happening any time soon. So I really really want to read the novel and this sale was a good opportunity.

All in all I saved 342.60 pesos for the three books. no discounts for the magazine.


Gotta start reading!