Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Saturday, September 29, 2012

TV: Jane By Design

jane quimby jane by design

Now that I’m back at work, I am missing out on TV time. On my 3-week vacation I spent almost all day and night on the couch watching TV. The remote and I? We developed a relationship. Haha.

One of the shows I loved watching over and over is Jane By Design.

Jane Quimby is in high school, but she is also in the world of fashion. She was applying for an internship, but she ended up getting hired as Executive Assistant to a fashion house’s big lady boss. Since they think she’s an adult, she keeps her life as a high schooler secret from them.

Her brother Ben is her guardian. He’s a coach in Jane’s school, but he also has a shot in becoming a professional baseball player. Her mom left them a long time ago but decides to come back. She is played by Teri Hatcher and it’s cool how they look so much alike. She doesn’t stay too long though.

Perhaps it’s her charming personality, but Jane seems to attract a lot of men. Her best friend is Billy and many times in the show it seems that something more may come out of their relationship. For awhile she dates the school hunk, but that doesn’t work (I actually missed those episodes). She’s also friends with Jeremy, a designer at work. I thought there’d be more there but apparently they’re really just friends. Then Eli comes along and well, Jane is torn by the secret lives that she tries so hard to keep separate from each other.

What I like about the show is really how Jane always pulls through whatever mess she finds herself in. She’s very positive and yes, a little na├»ve. My favorite episodes has got to be the when she saves the school play. First, the costumes were really awesome and she almost single handedly did all of them. Second, she donated her bonus check just so the play could push through. Third, she finally seems to know that she has feelings for her bestfriend, but seeing how happy he seems to be with his girlfriend Zoe, she backs off and keeps mum.

I am sad to find out that ABC Family decided to shelve the show. If Erica Dasher, the lead actress, ever lands on another show though, I’d love to see how that goes too.

*image source

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Evening Class by Maeve Binchy

When I started reading Evening Class, I felt like I knew some of these characters. I felt like I knew Aidan Dunne from before. Was he always married to Nell? After a quick Google search, I now realize that Aidan Dunne had been one of the patients at the Heart clinic in Binchy’s Heart and Soul.

It was interesting to see how an evening class brought people together and changed their lives for the better. They were an odd bunch really, they probably wouldn’t have signed up for the class had they known they’d be such a hodge-podge of personalities and backgrounds. But it all turned out for the best.

Of all the characters, Connie had the most intriguing story, at least for me. What was it really that caused her to have problems in bed with her husband? She had hopes for a perfect marriage, but right at the honeymoon it was so apparent that it was not going to be so. In the end I also waited for her to have a happy ending. I guess there is some vindication with how her husband and his mistress ended up, but there are loose ends for Madam Constanza. Did she hook up with her old boyfriend again?

What appealed to me in this story is how each one of them found a passion in learning Italian, and then how everyone made the trip to Italy happen. As it seemed, not everyone was sure they could make the trip when they first signed up for the class. Only Laddy was sure he wanted to visit Italy. But in the end, everyone made it. They signify to me something that I need in my life. I am still at a loss as to what gives me much passion. Yes I am passionate about my blogs but I can hardly turn it to make enough money to quit my day job and pursue other passions. For a time I was also passionate about baking. But I haven’t touched my tools in 2 years.

Signing up for a class may just be the spark I need to prod me on. That’s on my 101 in 1001 list.

What about you? Apart from required classes when you were in school, did you take any special class as an adult? Something you were really interested in? How did it go?

Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

Certain Girls is the sequel to a favorite Weiner title, Good in Bed. Sad to say though, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

I loved Cannie Shapiro in the first novel. She was large, but she was in control. Yes, she had issues she needed to sort out, and we witnessed her journey. Here in the sequel, well, she was still the same, except she is now mom to a rebellious teenager.

I guess I was just surprised that it was more about a mother-daughter relationship. It wasn’t what I was expecting, even though I knew that the story picks up 13 years after Good in Bed. Perhaps I was also hoping that, having published an over-sexualized version of her life, she would have been more forthcoming with her daughter. I thought she would have taken the time to get her acquainted with the real story, or the events that led to her conception.

But in a way I also understand why Cannie couldn’t do that. She wasn’t very proud of everything that happened. There was also a very fine line between reality and fiction. She loved her daughter so much she didn’t want to hurt her.

As Joy prepares for her Bat Mitzvah, she has more and more questions, but she isn’t asking her mother directly for the answers. She decides to do some research on her own and she learns more than what she bargained for.

It was an enjoyable read just the same. The story is told with the alternating voices of Cannie and her daughter Joy.

This book is among the titles that have collected dust here at home for the past year or so. In fact as mentioned here and here, I received the book for Christmas in 2009. So it has actually taken me give or take 32 months before I tore the plastic cover and read it. So when I mentioned that there’s progress in my book-related goals? I wasn’t kidding. Smile

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks



Being home all day has its merits. More reading time, or TV time. In the past two weeks I’ve been able to catch Dear John the movie twice. Both times, I missed the first part of the story. I never found out how John Tyree and Savannah Lee Curtis met. But I sort of loved the movie. Loved that John reconciled with his father, no matter how late. And that in the end, all was well.

As for the book version, well, I’m of two minds. This is one of the few book-movie tie-ups where I couldn’t easily decide which was better. I usually always go for the book version, but I’m not so sure for this one.

Of course I loved reading about how John ended up in the Army, and how he met Savannah one magical summer. It made a lot of sense to me, Savannah’s relationship with Tim and Allan. In both versions there was a lack of Savannah’s perspective, that’s what I think. Giving it the title of Dear John kind of sets the expectation of having to follow the story via the letters exchanged by the couple. If that was so, then perhaps we would know better what the girl left behind was really going through. But then again, that’s probably also why we couldn’t appreciate how hard it was for her to love someone who was thousands and thousands of miles away. By her own admission (or maybe I dreamt it up), she couldn’t really write about her sadness, what good would it do for John?

I prefer seeing the father-son relationship develop in the book. In a way, I am happy that something did happen to John in the years before he saw Savannah again. She may have stopped dating or living, but he made time for his dad. He understood him.

John's dad was an avid coin collector. When he was younger, he shared that passion. Even when he stayed away from his dad for most of his adult life, you can see that he didn't really forget all that he taught him about his passion. I wonder if Mr. Tyree had any morgan silver dollar price collection. 

The ending was different in each version. Not completely different, but not altogether the same. Romantics would probably like the book ending, love means sacrifice after all. But the young ones would definitely appreciate the movie ending more. True love finds a way.

But the lessons we learn? All the same.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Progress

At least two of my goals in the 101 in 1001 project are book-related. And at the rate I’m going through books now, I think this is something that I can definitely accomplish without a hitch.

Of course, I would first have to update my To-Be-Read pile. Since that December 2011 update, my TBR pile has grown, but I have yet to put together a new list. But of the original 35, I’ve since read 9. That brings me to at least 26 more books to go. At least. Tomorrow, I hope to start by updating my list.

What has changed? In the last two to three years I have been accumulating a lot of good titles but not getting around to reading them. I lost several good unread books to Ondoy in 2009. Good thing the Habagat floods did not claim any of my precious ones this year. Why wasn’t I able to read much in the past, and then now I am back in the groove (I have a backlog of 2 reviews)? What has changed in my reading habits?

I find time to read. I have taken lunch breaks at work not just so I could have a proper meal, but so I could read a few pages. Even to finish just one chapter is good enough.

I bring a book everywhere with me. The advantage of having a big bag (and driving) is I can always add one book to whatever it is I was already toting. So whenever there is a lull, I can open my book and read. I’ve taken a book so I can read in the car while waiting for Alfred to run errands. I’ve been going to the hospital a lot and waiting around doesn’t bother me because it gives me time with my books. I read during physical therapy.

If I were to go to an outing, I’d bring a book or two and read while everyone sleeps or prepares food. If we had to wait for the hayward tigershark pool cleaner to do its magic before we could jump into the pool, I’ll read a book.

I would probably sleep later than usual just to squeeze in some reading time. 30 minutes would be enough to get me to nod off. That is, unless the story actually keeps me up.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy


Unlike all the other Binchy books I’ve read, The Return Journey is a collection of 14 short stories. Each story, though only a few pages long, stand on its own.

There are mixed reviews of this collection in Goodreads, and I can understand why. If you didn’t pick this up knowing that it’s a collection of short stories, you would proceed reading expecting to see how each chapter relates to the next. You would also expect an ending that would make sense of it all. Because of Binchy’s writing style, you would expect one whole story out of the entire book. But then, you’d be wrong. So reading this with foreknowledge of what it is allowed me to just enjoy each story.


Binchy is known to take time to develop each character in her story. Because of the medium, we don’t see it much here. Nonetheless, she did a good job of showing us exactly what part each character played, no matter how short their story.

Though I liked it, and would hold on to the book, I can’t say it’s one of my favorite works of this author. In fact, I don’t remember much of the stories. I did like though how the first story was told through correspondence between mother and daughter.

I liked the story of the lady who lost her family’s business to the man she thought she would marry someday. Love how, no matter how late in life, she learned to appreciate all that she had and had begun to live more of her life. Also the story of the secretary who secretly admired her boss, only to find out that she didn’t really like him that much during an unexpected business trip.

Some of the stories I would have liked to see in a full length novel, but for most of them, they were enough as they were.

I’m on a quest to read all Binchy titles. Finishing this book last week has taken me closer to  that goal.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Freebie Bookmarks

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Paper Coterie has this freebie printable up on their blog. 10 cute bookmarks in one easy download and print project. Click the image to get to the download. Image is of course courtesy of Paper Coterie.

Enjoy!