My favorite story

Holy Week has always been the time when I try to tackle a difficult book — by that, I mean a book that I can’t read in my usual pace. I choose this time because I don’t have to go to work from Thursday to Sunday, and being Catholic, I don’t make plans those days because it’s always been filled with family and Church traditions. I always dream of finishing at least two hard to read books during my Holy Week break but I almost always end up reading only one because the break is filled with activities.

This Holy Week is no different, and I meant to try to get a chunk off reading my first non-fiction book that I’ve picked up again after a long time (Come Be My Light by Mother Teresa). I’ve barely gotten 1/4 of it and I know for sure that it will take some time for me to read it because I’ve been distracted by other books. On the up side, I’ve finished three of my Required Reading books for this month, and there’s a very good chance I’ll probably finish the fourth within the month. Yay me, right?

But I digress. I’ve read a lot of books this year and the past year since last Holy Week. I’ve marveled at so many good stories, gushed at so many good novels. I’ve shrugged at not so good ones, I’ve wrinkled my nose at some and I’ve vowed to forget the others I really didn’t like. I remember gasping at the books that blew my mind, telling everyone to read it because it was just oh-so-awesome.

But you know what I realized this Holy Week? There is one story that still beats all the other ones I’ve read in my lifetime, and it’s one that I knew by heart ever since I was old enough to understand it. Sometimes, I think I know it so much, I’ve heard about it so much that it becomes too familiar and it doesn’t have that much effect on me as it always should. I’ve never made it a secret that I am a devout Catholic in this blog, and I think it pretty much shows in how I review some of the books I’ve read. Sometimes, though, I think with all the books I’ve read, I tend to forget the One story that really matters. All those stories tend to overshadow the story of all stories, the one that is not really just a story, but one I believe with all my heart and soul to be the truth.

This Holy Week reminded me of my favorite (true) story, the one that has put me where I am right now, the one that reminds me of who I am and whose I am. This story has everything that I’ve ever really wanted: conflict, drama, betrayal, action. There’s even a bit of romance, but not the kind of romance that I usually read, but a bigger kind, the one that encompasses a bigger kind of love that I can’t fathom sometimes. I don’t think there’s much witty humor, but there is so much JOY at the end of the story, that it beats all the shallow laughter I get from the witty banter I have read. This is the story of ALL stories, and one that makes my heart beat faster and harder, never fails to drive me to tears and always, always makes me thankful and wanting to live better in the end.

It’s the story that I relive every Holy Week. The one story that really matters, the one worth more than 5 stars. :) And this one just always blows my mind (and my heart) every time I hear it and relive it.

And may that never change. May Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection never fail to make me stop, never fail to take my breath away and remind me of the great love He had for me (and for you) every time I (we) remember.

Happy Easter, everyone. :)

Deciding when it’s over

According to my reading history, I realized that I rarely do not finish books. There are a few books that I remember not finishing and I can count them on one hand. Right now I don’t have any standards on when I decide not to finish reading a book, because I feel like I should always finish reading one. I don’t know why, but I just feel like I owe the book that much to finish it up to the last page even if I was already having a hard time reading it.

Image from Pittsburg Photographer Blog

Of course that means that it would take me time to finish reading a book. Perhaps I may even take a break from reading it and resume it at some point, but I still try to finish before passing judgment. I think I started doing that after I finished reading How to be Single by Liz Tuccillo. Halfway through the book and I hated all the characters. I was more than ready to give up reading it, but I pushed myself to read up until the end. While I still didn’t end up liking the book overall, I thought the last two pages kind of saved it.

I guess what I really want to say is there are some books that take the first page to be really interesting while others get better as you move on. Some have a shaky start but then become deliciously amazing at the end. Of course, the reverse can be true, too. I know some people who have mountains and mountains of TBR books who can decide not to finish reading the book because it’s a waste of their time, and that’s pretty understandable. My TBR is still pretty manageable, so right now I’m willing to give all the books I’m reading a chance and read up until the end because I hope the book can still prove my initial impressions wrong.

So my question is: when do you decide when it’s over? When do you decide that you don’t want to finish the book anymore because it’s not worth it? How many chapters or pages do you allow the book to woo you and reel you in? First 100, 150? First 5? Does it depend on the thickness of the book? Or are you like me who give the book up until the end to prove itself?

The Best Friend and The Other Guy

I finished reading The Iron King by Julie Kagawa last night and found myself surprised at how I enjoyed reading a paranormal romance novel again. I’ve mentioned it many times already that I have started avoiding paranormal romances and some contemporary romances because they always seemed to have the same thing: girl meets guy with a secret, they fall for each other, but girl has a guy friend who is also in love with her and is always the safer choice. Or roles can be switched too — guy meets girl, guy and girl fall in love but there’s a girl best friend who knows the guy better. And yes, I understand, there are other variations, so I’ll let you guys fill that in.

Photo by iann7 – from deviantArt

A bit of a spoiler for The Iron King — the same kind of love triangle is also there, although it wasn’t that pronounced yet in this book. I have a feeling it will be expounded on the next book, though, and right now I already feel sad for one of the guys because I am sure who the heroine would end up with. I realized then as I was reading that for fictional love triangles, I always seem to side with the best friend. I never really declare my “teams”, but I always find myself more sympathetic to the plight of the best friend. Case in point (slight spoiler warning for the books listed):

  • Twilight – I liked Edward in the first book, but when Jacob Black made his presence known, I liked him more. In the end, though, I felt that Bella did not deserve Jacob, so I wasn’t really rooting for Jacob to win in the love triangle but to be able to move on. Still, on the overall love triangle arc, I liked Jacob more.
  • The Hunger Games – I have no problems with Peeta, but I liked Gale more. Sure, Peeta is the golden boy and I liked him as he was, but I honestly thought Katniss and Gale was the better pair. But as I always say whenever people asked me which team I was for in The Hunger Games, I never made a real choice, except that I am just partial to the best friend. Come to think of it, that just meant I’m Team Gale. :P
  • Song of the Lioness QuartetAngela asked me about who I wanted for Alanna while I was reading the books in the series, and I said I was for Jonathan, who ended up as Alanna’s best friend. I liked who she ended up in the end of the quartet, even if I liked Jon more than who she chose.
  • The Mortal Instruments – A bit of difference for this one, since I actually liked Jace for Clary. I did feel a bit triumphant for Simon when Clary paid more attention to him that is not platonic. Although I didn’t root for their love team as much, I don’t think I would have minded if Clary ended up with Simon.
  • Privileged (TV Show) -While my friends and I agree that Will (played by gorgeous Brian Hallisay) is extremely hot, I felt myself gravitating towards Charlie, Megan’s best friend, who has always been in love with her. And true enough, I was heartbroken when Megan told him that he’s just a friend. :( (Note: the book that the TV series based on has no love triangle, so I had to specify the TV show)

And finally, The Iron Fey. Like I said, I don’t know what’s going to happen in The Iron Daughter since I haven’t read it yet, but I have a feeling that the love triangle will be explored more here. And I already feel bad for the best friend.

I don’t really know why I favor the best friend in the fictional love triangles I read/watch, except maybe because I am kind of sympathetic to the best friend plight. I can’t say I have been in an almost similar situation before (maybe, but since I am a girl, I doubt it’s as painful as the ones I have read). Or maybe it’s just because I tend to gravitate to the underdog because I always hope they’d win somehow? Or maybe it’s just because I always thought that a boyfriend who is your also your best friend is a really good thing?

But then again, what do I know about that? I’ve never been in a relationship before. *shrug*

What about you? Do you “fall” for the other guy, or do you find yourself siding with the best friend?

Edited to add: I just realized there was one love triangle that defied my “best friend” example – Brigan, Fire and Archer in Kristin Cashore’s Fire! Although I thought Archer was a pretty sweet and charming guy, I was for Brigan and Fire all the way. :P