Love & Misadventure

Love & Misadventure by Lang LeavLove & Misadventure by Lang Leav
Publisher: Andrew McMeel
Number of pages: 78
My copy: Kindle edition

Lang Leav is a poet and internationally exhibiting artist. Awarded a coveted Churchill Fellowship, her work expresses the intricacies of love and loss. Beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully conceived, Love and Misadventure will take you on a rollercoaster ride through an ill-fated love affair- from the initial butterflies to the soaring heights- through to the devastating plunge. Lang Leav has an unnerving ability to see inside the hearts and minds of her readers. Her talent for translating complex emotions with astonishing simplicity has won her a cult following of devoted fans from all over the world.

* * *

My friend and I were browsing in Fully Booked sometime before Christmas when I spotted this Lang Leav’s Love & Misadventure and started browsing. I opened to a random page, read it, and cursed. Then I called my friend and we started picking random pages, cursing every now and then at the pages we read, because damn, the stuff we read kinda hurt. That was the time I added this book in my wish list, and hoped someone would give it to me. Because, as I said on my Twitter: “Lang Leav’s Love & Misadventure: <3 </3

Love & Misadventure is a collection of poetry and illustrations by Lang Leav that talks about love, and some misadventures in love. It’s quite melancholic and perhaps a bit painful and bitter at some points. The book is short, and I finished reading it while I was waiting in the bank, and it left my heart just a little tender in some parts after I was done.

Except that it didn’t leave me as wowed as I was when I first read it. Perhaps I was expecting it a little too much, especially after I’ve read several pieces before I finally sat down and read the entire collection. That, or this is another case of “mood reading” – when things I read at first resonated because I can relate to it more compared to when I finally read the entire thing. I also felt that some of the poems felt too…young. Not necessarily juvenile, but just something that felt like it was coming from a very young place. Did that make sense?

I don’t know; maybe I just wasn’t in that mood when I was reading this (granted, I read this right after I finished Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, so that may have affected my appreciation). That’s not to say that the pieces I first read didn’t resonate with me again — it did, but maybe less because I’ve already read them before. I think Love & Misadventure is good, except maybe my personal hype had already faded from when I randomly read some pages of it.

Or, you know, I just really stopped relating to the poems I liked first. If that’s the case…then that’s good, right? :)

Oh, but if you liked the poems in Love & Misadventure and you want more, then I will direct you to Mindy Nettifee’s The First Time and Filipino author Marla Miniano’s blog. I think you’ll like these, too. :)

Number of dog-eared pages: 8

Favorite dog-eared quotes:

Everyone has one – an inventory of lost things waiting to be found. Yearning to be acknowledged for the worth they once held in your life.

Do you remember the song that was playing the night we met?
No, but I remember every song I have heard since you left.

A Time Capsule

This is where,
I began to care,
where I was befriended.

This is where,
my soul was bared,
where all my rules were bended.

This is where,
a moment we shared,
was stolen and expended.

Now this is where,
this is where,
this is where we’ve ended –

Rating:

From This Day Forward

From This Day Forward by Marla MinianoFrom This Day Forward by Marla Miniano
Publisher: Summit Books

Number of pages: 144
My copy: signed paperback, bought from Book Sale

When a couple gets married, it isn’t just their lives that are thrown into chaos.

For Nicholas and Nala’s wedding, there’s the mother of the bride who is forced to face her failed marriage; there mother of the groom, who revisits her past — an old love; the bride’s best friend who has lost the only boy she thinks she will ever love and with him, all her happiness; the bride’s cousin who fooled around with her boyfriend’s best friend (who inconveniently turns out to be the groom); and the groom’s sister who cannot understand her brother’s choice of a future wife.

Surrounding the bride and groom’s happiness are the heartache, joys, hopes, dreams and realizations of the people who care about them. It makes you think: does everybody get a chance at happily ever after?

* * *

When a couple gets married, it’s easy to think that only their lives will change since they’re really the star of the wedding with dance gifts and all that, and the marriage that comes after. It’s easy to think that way since all spotlight is turned to them, but have we ever considered what happens to the lives of the people around them? Case in point: one of my closest friend’s sister got married last December, and she told me that she and their youngest sister spent the next few days crying because they missed their sister so much. You’d think the sister who got married was all happy because she was now living with her husband, but no — the married sister was also crying her eyes out of homesickness and separation anxiety for the people at home.

There wasn’t much drama in my home when my brother got married, although it did take me a little time to get used to the fact that I can’t just barge into the condo where my brother lives anytime I want, or he can’t stay too late at our house because he has another home now. Oh, don’t get me wrong — I love my sister-in-law and there’s no discord between us. I just needed some time to adjust to the fact that my brother’s priorities had changed, which meant ours had to as well.

This is what Marla Miniano’s latest book, From This Day Forward, talks about — how the lives of the people around the couple are also changed once two people decide to get married. Similar to one of her previous books, Table for TwoFrom This Day Forward contains interconnected stories that revolve around a major catalyst: main characters Nala and Nicholas’ decision to get married. There’s the story of Nala’s mom when Nala tells her that she was engaged, and Nicholas’ mom who goes off to see an old flame after finding out about the engagement. There’s Nala’s best friend, who lost the guy she loved and could never get him back, to Nala’s cousin who had a complicated relationship with her boyfriend’s best friend…who is also incidentally, the groom. The stories are told in different formats and styles — the straightforward storytelling, third and second person POV, poetry, letters and diary entries — but all revolving around the two main characters, their families and their friends.

If you’ve read Marla’s Table for Two, From This Day Forward has a pretty similar structure, but instead of absolutely random characters who have little connections, we have a cast that have better connections with each other. I liked that about this book, and I felt that it was easier to get into the story of these people because of the closer connections. As usual, there’s a certain elegance with the way Marla writes, each word chosen with care to deliver the right punch, but not too flowery that it feels too dramatic. I reveled in these words, and the characters jumped out at me, almost like they were real people instead of just people from a 144-page book. It feels like readers will relate to a bit of each story here, or maybe even find a friend in one of the characters.

I liked From This Day Forward a bit more than I liked Table for Two because of the stronger connections, although I felt that the last story could have tied up the loose ends from the other characters better. But if we were to be realistic, anyway, when did loose ends in life ever tie up neatly? I liked how Marla ended the book with a quote from her first novel, almost like she was paying a homage of sorts to where she started:

Matter occupies space, and I know — I guess I always have — that I can only have space for the things that matter.

After reading this book, I realized that I have become a Marla Miniano completist too. :) I guess it was the right timing too because soon after I got this, I met her in person when I attended her Letters Out Loud event and had my copy signed:

With Marla, and my signed book. :D

With Marla, and my signed book. :D

So if you’re looking for a quick, romantic and sentimental read, or if you have someone close to you who’s tying the knot soon and you’re feeling some kind of jitters but don’t know why, then you probably want to pick up a copy of From This Day Forward. :)

Rating:

My copy: paperback, bought from Book Sale

Other reviews:
Goodreads

Fan Girl

Fan Girl by Marla MinianoFan Girl by Marla Miniano
Publisher: Summit Books
Number of pages: 144
My copy: paperback, bought from National Bookstore

As a fan girl, do you:

A. Stalk your celebrity crush online and have a secret stash of his merchandise?
B. Believe that when he is singing onstage, he is singing to you—and only you?
C. Willingly agree to do anything he asks?
D. Leave your life behind and follow him to the ends of the earth?

For Summer, being the ultimate fan means doing all four. When the insanely good-looking half-Filipino frontman of hot local band Violet Reaction, Scott Carlton, singles her out, Summer knows her life is finally going to be spectacular. Only it doesn’t turn out that way. Scott leaves and becomes a huge star in the US, and where does that leave Summer? (Hint: check out letter D). Intrigued yet?

* * *

I liked Marla’s first four books, so I really meant to read Fan Girl as soon as it was released. Two things stopped me from getting it, though: there weren’t many favorable reviews for the book, and this was the first Summit Book that had the Php 175 price. I thought it was a bit too expensive for such a thin book, so I decided not to get it.

Fast forward to a year later, I happened to be at a mall, waiting for someone without a book. Friends, that is the worst possible thing for a reader to do: go out of the house without a book inside her bag. So I was browsing around National Bookstore, looking for something not too expensive and quick enough to read while waiting. There was nothing else I wanted there, so I wandered to the Filipiniana section and there lay the colorful Summit Books. Finally, I decided to get Marla’s book, especially since I was still having all the ~*feels*~ from her NaNoWriMo pep talk that I got to read that day.

So, in Fan Girl, Summer meets Scott Carlton, the half-Filipino front man of a local band, and to her surprise, he singles her out. Summer is used to fading in the background, to not being noticed, so she felt that Scott’s attention will change her life. It didn’t change the way she wanted it to, however, as she gets involved with Scott in a pseudo-relationship, until he packs up for the US with his baritone guitar at Guitar Center for his career. Left behind, Summer tries to move on, until something prompts her to do leave everything she knows to follow her heart. But does Scott want her heart?

So here’s the thing I realized (yet again) while reading Fan Girl: the reader’s mood while reading a specific book can directly influence how much he/she will like (or not like) the book after. This isn’t new, really, but reading Fan Girl stressed that to me. I normally would dislike someone like Summer because she was just being absolutely stupid over the guy, but for some reason, she kind of won my heart a little bit. Oh, she still made stupid decisions, but somehow I sympathized with her and I wanted the best for her. The entire story had some kind of a dream-like quality in it, perhaps because of the author’s way with words, and I can really imagine Summer going to a foreign land just to follow what she thought she wants. I didn’t approve of Summer’s decision, but sometimes there are things that people need to do to finally realize what we want them to realize in the end. I think the author captured that concept very well here.

Of course, there are certain aspects in this book where you might need to suspend your disbelief despite it being a contemporary novel — like, how Summer can just conveniently fly off, how Scott got a career there too easily, and how it was all wrapped up in the end. Somehow, it felt like some of the set-up were too convenient, too unbelievable.

Despite that, though, I liked Fan Girl. I’m still partial to Marla’s Table for Two and her newest one, From This Day Forward (review to follow!), but I think Fan Girl is a pretty enjoyable (albeit angsty) read. If I read this last year, I probably would have not liked it as much, but maybe that’s why I didn’t buy it last year. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Ficsation

In My Mailbox (4)

I meant to write an In My Mailbox post last week, but I was too tired from my second 10-km race that I just fell into bed the moment I got home. So this week’s In My Mailbox will cover a two-week period, because I actually have a lot to post about since the last.

You know what that meant, right? I know I said I won’t buy books anymore…but I. Can’t. Resist. Somebody stop me.

In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store. I’ve separated the photos on the stash per week, and excuse the slightly crappy quality of the images — used my camera phone and it doesn’t have that good lighting, as compared to if I use proper ones, like Kichler lighting. I’ll make it up next week. :)

So, here’s last week’s stash:

  1. The God Box by Alex Sanchez
    (Powerbooks, P339, less 20%) I’ve been seeing Alex Sanchez’s books for a while now, but I have never picked any up because I think most of his works fall under LGBT. It’s just not really my thing. I got this one because this is a book that dealt with LGBT and religion. This is a very sensitive topic, one that I don’t think I always fully understand, so I thought this book should be an informative one, at least as far as my faith would be concerned.
  2. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
    (Fully Booked, P399, less 10%) I remember seeing another version of this book at National Bookstore, but I passed it up. Then I saw a lot of good reviews and I couldn’t find the copy! It wasn’t until I was browsing in Fully Booked Eastwood when I saw it again, but I opted to get the other books first before this. I knew I would absolutely regret it if I don’t get it, so I finally caved in. I wanted to get it at the same time I got The Book Thief, but then I remembered I have a discount at Fully Booked, so I just got it there. Yay.
  3. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
    (Powerbooks, P339, less 20%) I think I heard about this first during the Goodreads meet up, but I didn’t know what it was until I saw the book. Should I even ask why I got it? It was highly recommended. Thank God for the sale.
  4. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
    (National Bookstore, P315, less 20%) So I wasn’t really planning on getting anything that Sunday, but when I got to National Bookstore, I remembered that it was also sale time! When I saw a paperback copy of this book, I just grabbed it. I’ve read so many good reviews about this that I was curious, and the hardbound is just a bit too expensive to splurge on. The best part is, I used my Laking National card (a loyalty points card in one of the bookstores in the Philippines) and used my accumulated points to get the book. In short, I sort of got this book for free. :)

And here’s this week’s stash!

  1. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
    (National Bookstore, P99) I already have a copy of this book, but when I saw the hardcover of this book for less than a hundred, I knew I had to get it. I don’t think I’ll be keeping it, though — I think I’ll put it up for giveaway on our next meet up. :)
  2. Press release pack for Table for Two by Marla Miniano from Summit Media
    I think it was Tuesday when I suddenly got called to the reception area at work. Turns out I have something from Summit Media, the press release pack for their newest novel, Table for Two. If I had known I’d be getting a free copy of this book, I would not have bought it! But then it’s okay. This means I can give away my extra copy, too. :)I have a feeling why I got a press package, though. Maybe it’s connected to some belated presents? I think so. Thanks, Ro! :)
  3. Catch a Falling Star by Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo
    (National Bookstore, P150) I wanted to get this other anthology, Stories When We Were Little (Women), I think, by the same author, but it was a bit too expensive for my budget. I wanted to get something local, and this was the cheapest one I found. I’ve heard so much about this author thanks to Sam. :)
  4. The Dead Of Night by John Marsden
    (National Bookstore, P339, less 75%) This isn’t really my kind of book. But I read Aaron‘s review for the first book, and thought I’d give it a try. But this isn’t the first book, so why did I get it? Aside from it being sale (got it for P84! How could I pass that up?), the Mighty Evil Overlord told me he would give me a copy of the first book as a gift. Getting ready for the series, I guess? :)

And that was the past two weeks for me in terms of books. Next week will be a bigger week because of the following: (1) a new toy is coming; and (2) Grace and Jana and I are planning to do a bookstore hopping day on Saturday, since it’s book sale season and it’s payday this week. Watch out for that. :)

What’s in your mailbox this week? I’d love to see your stash — leave a comment with the link so I can drop by. :)

Welcome to Cafe Carmelo

Table for Two by Marla MinianoTable for Two by Marla Miniano
Publisher: Summit Books
Number of pages: 144
My copy: paperback, bought from National Bookstore

A corner table at a cozy coffee shop witnesses many things:

A long-time couple about to break up after college graduation. A young teacher accepting a dare from her teenage brother to quit dating for two months. A wedding photographer trying to convince his best friend not to get married. A boy meeting up with the girl he never quite got over. And a girl sitting alone, reading romance novels, wondering if today is the day she will stop being lonely.

Do their lives intersect and intertwine — spiraling them through an obstacle course of love and loss and hope and heartbreak? And can they each find the happy ending they so desperately want?

* * *

I normally pick up chick lit books because there’s a bigger chance that I can relate to the characters and their plight. More often than not, I’d find myself sighing the same time as the character does, wishing for the same love as she does, and…that’s where the similarities ended, because the character finds love while I watch her and be happy for her.

Not that I’m bitter, of course. :P

Marla Miniano is back with a new book, this time telling the story of four people who happen to hang out in the same coffee shop, and sometimes even at the same table. Table for Two is a collection of five stories of people from all walks of life, choosing a coffee shop to witness the changes in their lives, and ultimately connecting them in one way or another.

A bit of a spoiler warning starts here, but there’s nothing major. Just be forewarned. :)

Table for Two starts out with Fresh, a story of the end of the relationship of a long-time couple when they realized that after graduation, they need to go their separate ways. Timeout is about Jill, a teacher, who follows her brother’s advice to stop dating for two months to stop herself from dating losers. All the Best is about best friends Carl and Blake, and Carl’s attempt at stopping Blake from marrying Vicky out of concern for his best friend but failing to recognize that he was in more need of relationship advice. This Closure is about Lucas who never really got over Bettina and their shared kiss. The last story, Table for Two brings us to a full circle with Mandy and her independence and her penchant for romance novels.

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