"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us."
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Book Review: ABCs of Journaling by Abbey Sy

Letterer, instructor, entrepreneur and all-around talented gal Abbey Sy is back with her second boo and she’s sharing tips on journaling creatively. The book wasn’t available yet in Zamboanga and being the crazy person I was, I asked my friend to buy it from me from a National Bookstore Makati branch which was just within walking distance from where he was staying. I received it the next weekend. 

Abbey Sy

I’m a fan of Abbey Sy and one of the people excited to get a copy for myself when it was announced on Instagram. I also have her first book and knowing Abbey Sy, she’s really put her heart into the completion of her published works. 

Abbey introduced the definition of terms to those who are new at journaling. It’s a good guide for newbies. I also like the tips all over the book and the author distinctly promotes sketching and drawing in transit. It’s a great way to preserve modern-day adventures. Also, here are helpful tips on how to pack up materials like washi and watercolor while on travel.

There’s also a section featuring local artists who have done journaling in different styles. I’m thinking of applying some tips in my upcoming travel where I will be doing some interesting activities up north.

The sticker sheet is a bonus with the travel-inspired stickers. My only suggestion is that it should have a couple of sheets for international and domestic travel.

I’ve been documenting and journaling on my own for a while now, but some tips are also relevant here from her book. Abbey Sy is a letterer and her works really shine in each of her travel pages. She draws scenes from food, to buildings and she has the patience (and the time) to complete each one of them.

On the other hand, I don’t have that much time when I travel especially when I’m with people who want to hop from one place to another, and my sketching skills are not as advanced. This is where smartphone photos come in, and for days when my mirrorless camera is kind of too heavy. But I can manage especially when I sit down and start jotting down notes and experiences of the day.

For my personal travel journal, I can’t wait for an upcoming adventure and for me to gain new experiences and to cross off a few items on my bucket list. 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Book Review: The Most Important Meal of Their Lives by Send a Cow UK #BestStart

Photo from Dietician Without Borders

We hear it over and over again, that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When we are concerned about our figure, our weight, we tend to skip breakfast and get on with our day. But for children who need the fuel to get through school and are stricken by poverty, skipping breakfast may not be such a wise choice. In fact, many children in Africa face overwhelming poverty, putting their ambitions on a very elusive pedestal. 
Send A Cow UK’s project is to introduce this book and highlighting breakfast choices of historical and iconic figures such as Florence Nightingale, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Albert Einstein.

We know a lot of these leaders in terms of their accomplishments in leadership, industries, humanitarian causes and science. The Most Important Meals Of Their Lives gives an idea of what these greats had for their breakfasts. 

The book also features recipes and other interesting facts like how astronauts followed strict lightweight diets in portions like bacon squares and cookie sugar cubes.

Alber Einstein: Fried eggs and honey, crisp rolls and decaffeinated coffee
What would have happened if Albert Einstein did not have breakfast when he first formulated the Theory Of Relativity? Did you know that he stuck to a vegetarian diet? The Great Eats also reveals that he had a personal invention that was positioned on his table to decaffeinate his coffee.

Christopher Columbus: Hardtack and legumes stew
Christopher Columbus relied on what stock he had on board as he circumnavigated the world.He may have also discovered all manner of culinary peculiarities and other exotic flavours during his journeys and explorations of the New World.

Jane Austen: pound cake, tea, cocoa and toast
 As an English novelist, Jane Austen has secured her place in literary history. She has introduced women with wit and social insights in her works. But not many readers know that "breakfast in the Austen household was traditionally served at 9am each morning, in the dining or drawing room..., it was Jane Austen’s job to prepare a feast of this kind."

Thomas Edison: Apple dumplings
Where would we be if Thomas Edison, an industrial leader and icon, have not had breakfast on the day he had that Eureka moment when he figured out his first light bulb invention? He was a conscious foodie but he was particularly fond of apple dumplings.

Winston Churchill: poached egg, cold meat, toast and grapefruit
British politician and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again in 1951 to 1955,  Sir Winston Churchill is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century. His preferred breakfast was documented on the back of a menu while on his last flight to the USA as Prime Minister in 1954.

What I Learned From the Book

I particularly like pancakes. They are my personal comfort food and I like them lathered with butter, so that means the more butter, the better, and I top it off my maple syrup. It turns out, "Honest Abe" Abraham Lincoln could gobble up Kentucky corn cakes faster than anyone can make them, and the brave Rosa Parks also adored featherlite pancakes. My guess is that she could have had it on the day she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus.

Other notable figures in the book are Florence Nightingale, William Shakespeare, Mother Teresa, First Men on the Moon, Barack Obama, Cleopatra, Charles Darwin, Amelia Earhart, Sigmund Freud, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela.

Who Would Enjoy This Book

This is a great library addition for foodies, historians, chefs in the making, bookworms, those looking for new breakfast recipes to try or anyone who is a fan of these historical icons. As for me, I consider myself lucky to have an e-book copy of this book and have had a glimpse of the breakfasts of these great leaders.

About Send A Cow UK 

Send A Cow UK follows research highlighting undernourished children in Rwanda and Uganda. These youngsters struggle with school because of poverty. Send A Cow's Break...Fast campaign aims to raise £500,000 to give to children in Africa for the #BestStart and every £1 donated will be doubled by the UK government.

The Most Important Meals Of Their Lives eBook is available to download from www.sendacow.org.uk/mostimportantmeal
For more information on the Break… Fast Appeal please visit www.sendacow.org.uk or tweet@SendaCow with the hashtag #BestStart.

*Thank you to Jocelyn from The Great Eats for providing me with the beautiful photos. Copy of the e-book was graciously provided by Send A Cow UK for this review.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Five years after securing my very own copy of GG Marquez's Chronicles Of A Death Foretold, I finally get to read Strange Pilgrims. I have been on a hunt for this ever since! Even if it is in epub, still, I can't pass up the opportunity of looking at the world and travel through how GG Marquez tells it-in consistent, nostalgic voice all throughout.

These days, short stories are my cup of tea because each one can be devoured in just one sitting, refer to The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. Most of the time work takes up most of my afternoons and I am pretty positive that you won't enjoy what I have to share about technical writing reports here.

Strange Pilgrims is a collection of twelve stories compiled by GG Marquez from his travels in Europe. Let me approach this through constructivism: Marquez's style always makes use of magical realism and the symbols are present in each story. The top themes are death and its effects on the living as well as light and the absence of it. The common recurring symbol is blood. This reminds me of his profound use of blood and incidents of bleeding in Chronicles Of A Death Foretold. 

Another cherished book of mine from GG Marquez
My top five stories from Strange Pilgrims are (this is ridiculous, with GG Marquez it's impossible to settle on just five!):

  1. "I Only Came To Use Your Phone"- Maria is driving alone to Barcelona when her car breaks down and she hitches a ride with a bus transporting women to an asylum. At their destination, it is assumed that Maria is one of them. 
  2. Maria dos Prazeres- An aging prostitute waits for her death to arrive in her apartment in Barcelona with her dog whom she has trained to weep at her grave. 
  3. Sleeping Beauty And The Airplane- a very beautiful woman sits beside the author on a flight. He is completely captured by her beauty, and here he expresses his musings. 
  4. The Ghosts of August- A family vacationing in Tuscany decide to spend the night in a castle of a friend where legend has it, the builder killed his bride in bed before setting dogs on himself. The family then discovers the truth of this tale the next morning where they awaken. 
  5. Tramontana- people seek shelter from the Catalan wind which locals call the Tramontana, bringing with it the paranormal effects on everybody. 
I have a special liking to these death stories:
  1. Tramontana
  2. Miss Forbes' Summer of Happiness- Two young boys have the serenity of a peaceful summer holiday until a strict German nanny arrives. 
  3. Light Is Like Water- Two young boys ask for a boat in return for their good grades in school. Because of the absence of navigational water, they break the bulbs of their home and the light flows out like water. 
  4. The Trail Of Your Blood in Snow-Billy takes his new wife to a hospital to help her stop the bleeding from a scrape on her ring finger from a rose thorn and he is unaware that he will never see her again. 
Marquez arranged the stories himself in his order of his writing them. Each one has a pilgrim's story to tell, in beautiful cities like Rome and Paris. Naturally, he leaves the best ones for last.

Even the prologue has Marquez's own strange story to tell, of him visiting his own funeral and finally seeing his closest friends, but once the funeral is over, he alone cannot leave. 

 "True memories seem like phantoms, while false memories were so convincing that they replaced reality."

Gabriel Jose de la Concordia Marquez is a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist. He is known as "Gabo" in his native country and is considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. In 1982, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

He started as a journalist and has written many acclaimed non-fiction works and short stories, but is best known for his novels, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985). His works have achieved significant critical acclaim and widespread commercial success, most notably for popularizing a literary style labeled as magical realism, which uses magical elements and events in order to explain real experiences. Some of his works are set in a fictional village called Macondo, most of them express a theme of solitude.-Good Reads

With Marquez, the name of the game is magic and majesty, each pilgrim emerging spellbound.

Next on my reading list is Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, unless someone out there wants to donate another book to read. What's on your reading list?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Book Review + Paperback Giveaway: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

(It is recommended that you scroll down slowly from this point on)

What have you noticed from these pictures? 

Apart from the fact that they could give any child nightmare, what could possibly be their stories? And just what are ymbrynes, wights, hollowgasts and peculiars? 

Jacob Portman knew that there is a big world out there, and that the only adventure he could ever taste is from the stories that Grandpa Portman told him from his stash of old photographs he took with him, all from the home that his grandfather knew. From the island of Cairnholm there stands an orphanage and a headmistress who looks after refugee children during the second world war. In the eyes of young Jacob growing up, Grandpa Abe was a hero. Unlike the rest of his family, it is only Jake and Grandpa Abe who share a bond that nobody else has ever understood.

But Grandpa Abe would not be around forever. On the night of his death, Jacob thinks he sees the horrid creature that murdered his grandfather. His parents believe he is delusional and what he saw could be the effect of years of storytelling-possibly lies- on an innocent boy, as if the characters on the strange photos have come to life, and this convinces the family that seeing a psychiatrist is best for Jake. But Grandpa Abe says something to Jacob on the night he died, "Find the bird in the loop, on the other side of the old man's grave. September third, 1940."

How could he ever make sense with his grandfather's last words and what could Jacob possibly find there? 

Highlights of the Book: Themes, Issues and Characterization
(Warning: May Contain Spoilers) 

The highlights of the book are hands down, the peculiar photographs. It is an eerie experience, and the more the reader digs deeper, flipping pages continuously, the more it becomes a puzzle of who these children were. 
It may have been clear that Miss Peregrine's children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems- they may still be alive."

Doesn't it just give you the creeps?

Second highlight is the world-building. Contrary to what other reviews on this book have mentioned, I don't see how it is patterned after the Harry Potter books. This is a more mature take, the way I see it, and the only similarity is that there is a home for peculiar children, and that there is the battle of good and evil peculiars in this world. Surely, these children have strange abilities, but the powers come from the children themselves and they are not taught. 

But as the reader continues, the real stories come to the surface, revealing who they are, and how they have come to find their places in Miss Peregrine's Home where they have come to know love and care under the headmistress's watchful eye when their own family have turned them away. 

Some issues raised in this book are the father and son relationship; where Jacob's father could be envious of the deep bond that Grandpa Abe and Jacob had whereas for him, Grandpa Abe was away most of the time when he was growing up.This is one factor why Jacob's own father has difficulty being one with his own son.

Another issue to note is the discrimination that the children encountered when they marched to the village, villagers' eyes following their every move, as if they had a disease which was highly contagious. The excuse made up was that the refugee children come from all over Europe so that they do not converse very well among the English villagers in the island of Cairnholm, Wales. But people are always afraid of other things that they do not understand. 

As for characterization, it comes to life because there is a rich pool of different characters who have individual concerns and methods of thinking. Somehow, I can't help feeling that there are many unexplained incidents as to how a boy anmed Victor with the strength of ten men can easily die without giving a fight. There are some parts that are dragging and slow to pick up on action, although the author tries his best to show the struggle between bravery and passiveness, it does not really strike me.

Who Could Enjoy the Book

I believe that readers and even collectors of vintage photographs could have a unique experience reading this book while the story builds, of strange and sometimes nightmarish photos, to those that are simply sad, and bleak. This is a book for lovers of paranormal stories and also those who have a thing for haunted homes and the history of those who lived in it.

About the Author

Just in case you were wondering, yes, Ransom Riggs has a thing for eerie vintage photos. 

Ransom Riggs grew up in Florida and but now makes his home in the land of peculiar children-Los Angeles. Along the way he earned degrees from Kenyon College and the University of Southern California's School of Cinema and Television. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children debuted #5 on the New York Times Best Seller List. He recently sat down with Quirk Books' creative director Jason Rekulak to discuss its peculiar origins.

He is looking forward to a trip to Belgium where he gets to see creepy abandoned chateaus, something he is really excited about. 

What Other People Are Saying About the Book 

" A tense, moving, and wondrously strange first novel. The photographs and text work brilliantly together to create an unforgettable story."- John Green, New York Times bestselling author of Paper Towns and The Fault In Our Stars

"An enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters and some very creepy monsters...dark but empowering."-Publishers Weekly

Now I am giving you a chance to win this copy. If you are into vintage photographs and creepy stories, you can have a paperback copy of your own. If you are like me who prefers paperback, tangible books over ebooks, then grab this! All you have to do is follow the mechanics and wait til a winner is announced! I am making this super easy for you all. 

Open to all Philippine residents only. 
(If winner is from Zamboanga we could meet up in town, how's that sound? Hihihi) 
Good luck!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Book Review: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

How fast do you think you can finish a book? My reading speed is all ups and downs but my friends at my reading group can read fast and even finish 4-6 books in a month, even more! Yeah, I am back with my book reviews. This one is a little overdue which got me thinking that I should review books as soon as I finish them. I've still got my eyes on new books from the supplier, and I am on a lookout for other book blogs that will be willing to exchange links with me, if you are interested, would you let me know? Hint: leave a comment below...

I have already mentioned that I started reading Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and didn't get beyond the introduction. I can't help feeling sad that I can't read it when I want to. It just won't load... I don't even know how this could happen, I have yet to figure it out. But I also think it comes at a reasonable time when I have a lot of projects to finish and both my parents are home, I have had a blast spending time with them together to make up for the bonding moments that we missed the past three months.

So on to the book review...

Highlights of the Book: Themes, Issues and Characterization
(Warning: May Contain Spoilers) 

Some issues and themes worth noting in this book is the balance of work and personal lives, as well as trying to maintain the professionalism in the workplace. As the correspondents strive to meet deadlines, there is the issue of a 50 year old publication staying afloat in the dot com era.

I liked that this came from the perspective of a staff operating an international newspaper. The issues touched were meaningful, and that these are the stories of ordinary people. Instead of a bulk of it being just one perspective, it is a breakdown of various characters and their relevance to their workplace. Tom Rachman gives a varied voice and style for the different characters, even just the supporting ones. It seems that this is a young author to look out for.

The themes that the book touches are love and family life, career and security, and faithfulness or loyalty. Each chapter in the book provides a glimpse in the life of each employee, and in between, there is the history behind the international newspaper, of how it started, but the true reason behind why it was founded is not revealed until the last two chapters. What goes on beyond the professional surface is more intriguing compared to how each correspondent and editor deals with in the workplace.

As for issues, enter the battle of the printed word and daily circulation of an international newspaper versus digital content that can be downloaded and shared in seconds. Usually the thin line is crossed between the relevance and truth of news reporting versus sensationalized stories. Here, the rich stories and challenges of being in the journalism profession is told. I can also personally relate to this side because of my involveent with the printed word having been a scriptwriter and editor in the past.

 The character I could truly relate with is Kathleen, the editor in chief of the paper because I somehow admire her drive and her ambition, being a tough woman in the workplace otherwise dominated by men, and the way she checks facts to protect the paper's credibility. Also, the obituary writer has quite a transformation as he transforms from a lazy but dedicated father to a work-committed editor but unfocused husband.

I also like that each chapter is titled with newspaper headlines which are parallel to each character's story and experiences-this is a novel way of introducing memorable characters to the reader.

Who Could Enjoy The Book 

This book is for people who are curious about what it means to be a print journalist in the midst of a dot com age where reporters from all over the world are facing, and how an international print newspaper can survive. Also, if you are curious as to how the balance between personal life and working life is achieved or rather in constant turmoil, then this book is for you. 

About the Author

People still write good books. 

That's what Discovery said about Tom Rachman and he is considered as one of the best discoveries of 2010, including Andrew Garfield. 

Tom Rachman was born in 1974 in London, but grew up in Vancouver. He studied cinema at the University of Toronto and completed a Master's degree in Journalism at Columbia University in New York. From 1998, he worked as an editor at the foreign desk of The Associated Press in New York then did a stint as a correspondent in India and Sri Lanka, before returning to New York. He was sent to Rome in 2002 as an AP correspondent where his assignments brought him to Japan, South Korea, Egypt and Turkey. He began as a part time editor in 2006 at the International Herald Tribune in Paris in order to support himself while writing fiction. He currently resides in London and is working on his second novel. 

What Other People Are Saying About The Book

It seems that I am not the only one who is quite happy about this book. Other book groups have shared their reactions and you can view them here

If you happen to like this book and pick up this copy, would you want to let me know? 
What types of books capture your interest?