The Sky Changes by The Hour

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Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

My Rating: 4 Stars

Beneath a Scarlet Sky captivates your interest. It forced me to ask questions that I later had to find answers to. The preface felt a bit desperate…sorry, but it did pique my interest. Actually when I first heard about this book, I really wanted to read it so much that I couldn’t wait for the publishers to grant my request and so I went ahead and bought it on Amazon. I must still thank Lake Union Publishing however, for granting me an advanced reader’s copy, though a bit late.

This book is about life’s abrupt changes and how we handle them when hope, just like other necessities become scarce and even forgotten. Pino Lella is your typical teenager up until he’s tasked to save Jews from Germans, carry the swastika and unexpectedly become a spy for the partisans. At times of war, it’s a constant choice between ourselves and other people. Who do we save? And so, this reminds me of a famous quote from my country’s National Hero:

“One only dies once, and if one does not die well, a good opportunity is lost and will not present itself again.

Finding love at this time is dangerous, however fate can’t be stopped. We naturally look for sunlight and turn our heads towards it. Pino finds escape with Anna-Marta amidst the war and together they create their own fantasy. It’s tragic, just as what you’d expect from a war novel however the author manages to keep his audience engaged. Although I must admit I did feel like some parts of the book lacked power where it’s needed. Nonetheless, I still learned so much and that’s really all that matters.

Overall, my rating is four stars for its potential and the symphony of love, history, and rich culture. Not recommended for people who aren’t interested in this genre. I do however highly recommend it to WWII fanatics like me. You just have to read this book.

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Motherhood

I don’t want to be the mother,
Of an unwanted daughter;
I never want to hurt her,
Or blame her for why I suffer.

I don’t want to sacrifice,
And ask her for the same price,
I don’t want to be remembered,
As the mother who dismembered,
her own child.

I don’t want to make her cry,
Not even a little sigh;
I don’t want her to be alone,
Like garbage, thrown.

I want her to find love,
Because I found none;
I want her to remember me,
Because I love her dearly.

If I can’t do all this and more
Then please God help me,
stop it all before,
I become the mother,
of an unwanted daughter.

Travelling to The End

orphantraincover-001Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

My Rating: 5 stars

When pain becomes unbearable, we sometimes think that the answer is to stop feeling any attachment towards anyone else that could potentially hurt us. This book reminds us that it is simply how life gives us lessons. We live, we come across people that come and go, we hurt with goodbyes, we experience and then we learn.

I didn’t know what to expect from this book, but I ended up gaining so much. Looking around me now, I see what I’ve taken for granted. I see now that somehow, even amidst adversities, it could be so much more worse. There is always a good side, even when you can’t find one anymore, because there always comes a point where we choose not to believe and hope because we know it will hurt and cause more difficulties, and yet life forces us to keep going on and somehow we thrive even with nothing.

Both Vivian and Molly felt like outcasts; they’ve both developed ways to cope and survive. For a long time, the past has stayed up in the attics of our homes, but it’s never too late to go up there and relive the past; feel the fresh cuts of memories and be surrounded by ghosts of people who have touched our lives. This is what this book is about: the games of fate and destiny.

I believe that children who have seen and felt the cruelty of the world and the people, are forever changed to somewhere being more than mature, but experienced. These children now know better than to imagine fantasies and interlace them into reality; they expect the worst and brace themselves. There is no longer foolish expectations that things will come easy, instead they go about expecting and facing obstacles in their paths.

We never know what comes next; Life is full of the unknown. But expect that it will be difficult, it will be an adventure, and it will be painful. There is always a journey to an end that is inevitable. It now all depends on how we travel.

Getting in Touch With Our Innerselves

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Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

My rating: 5 stars

Growing up, I imagined myself being older and the freedom that came with age. I thought adults were free. I was so terribly wrong. In fact they’re so imprisoned by all their regrets, the layers and layers of deceit and expectations that define and restrict who they want to be.

It’s indeed difficult to find real people these days. Everywhere you look, every one looks a like —the resemblance is extremely striking; clothes, mannerisms, speech, everything is copied. There’s no originality.

It’s like we forgot what we were all once like. We omitted the embarrassing parts, the dirty pasts and called them shameful. We reinvented ourselves; escaped the past and turned our backs forever. Nothing is again the same. We’re simply a whole person after we’ve fought, won, lost our triumphs.

This book really draws out the real me. I connected with every character, even when my current life situations are far from theirs. Most of all, I remembered —no, I understood that things won’t always be the same. Common knowledge, I know. But there comes a point where we forget that things can change; that anything is possible. For a time we feel trapped and hopeless. We get consumed by our past and our presents; our fears let us forget and miss possibilities and chances, all because we fear so much in this world: failure, disappointment, pain, suffering. But this book reminds us that we’ve got a power to change our fates.

Lucy got out but she has never forgotten. And in this way has she really gotten freedom? The book points out that adversity isn’t an excuse to turn out bad. In fact the book portrays sufferings as inspiration. All form of self-doubt, self-hate, is all a chance to become a better version of ourselves. This book is life itself —what it means to be part of this world; Perspective. I think this book gave so much perspective, both literally and figuratively. I lost count of how many people told their story and how they saw it, how they got affected by it, and yet everything was so seamlessly connected. There was no point in the entire book where I questioned or doubted that this is real life, because this is what happens.

I’m likely never getting over this book, nor will I ever forget it. Because after turning the last page, I find myself just staring in space and thinking about all of it. Not just about me, but in general. Most books would make me think and question my life, this one made me understand life.  I’m sitting here thinking about how everything happens so fast and yet so subtle; every change of season is barely noticeable. Unless snow starts to fall and then flowers begin to bloom, and only then do we realize. But even then, it can still so easily be missed.

I’m here thinking about how amazing life is, considering how painful, troublesome and dramatic it all is. Because it’s true, life is such a drama but this book will remind us that it could be worse. But it doesn’t make you feel guilty, the way we’d feel once we realize  other people are starving and don’t have a proper roof above their heads; it only makes you aware that life is what you make it —and this, we should take to heart and never forget.

I also realize I should likely try to summarize this book but seriously no form of summarization will ever prepare you for the journey this book will take you. And trust me, it will take you so far. The ending was wonderful. It made me realize that what we want from this world is so far from what we really need: Connection. Being alone is so sad, especially amidst adversities. Keeping all those things bottled up is so destructive. But at the same time you ask yourself if it’s reasonable to complain about? This book really made me feel less alone. It was like meeting an old friend who knew me from the day I was born, to the days I found hard to live, and to the days I found strength to keep going. There are times hope is nowhere to be found, and Lucy Barton really could’ve just ended up repeating the cycle but instead she got out and lived the life she wanted. She is an inspiration, a symbol of hope, and the proof that things will be okay even when you think things are at its worst, it actually isn’t and things will get better.

There is so much this book has to offer, just like life has so much to offer aside from all the flowing of tears and pricking of hearts. Life can be so much more. Elizabeth Strout knows and understands life and everything that comes attached to it and she’s here sharing it with us. I’m so lucky to have received an Advanced Reader’s Copy for this book. Thank you, Random House. I am so honored and proud to know of an author who walks outside the grid and still survives.

Junction

Whenever my name escapes your lips, you make it sound so sweet
Like I’m the only one out there when there are millions with the same name everywhere
Your fingers brush my skin, you make it feel like I was struck by lightning
Electric currents rush through my veins, when all you did was brush hair off my face
And when I look at you my heart forgets to beat, you make it so hard to breathe
You voice is the sweetest melody in my ear as you shush my every fear
Every scar is forgotten and I am reborn again in heaven.

You make me smile in my sleep, even when you’re miles away from me
Every day, every moment, is a journey across the world to you
Every day, every moment, is a promise to you
That one day I can sleep right beside you
That one day I can make you happy the same way you do
Until that one day, we’ve both made it through.

For now, I watch as our love grows and blossoms; multiplies and doubles
I watch the world rotate on its axis, while our love remains timeless
I watch rain fall above our heads, and smile because we know it ends
I watch you from a distance and yet my heart lays right in your hands
In the meantime I’ll live without a heart while we are apart
But never for once think my love will ever be lost.

I might forget every now and then, about all the promises I made inside my head
Some days are hard with you gone, and there’s nothing to hang-on
I still believe in you and me, and that one day it all will be
We’ve gone so far, following the stars
One day we’ll walk the same path, as if we were never apart.

Friday, March 31, 2017

It’s the last day of March. And yes, around this time exams are common. In fact I have an exam later today. I used to study weeks in advance –determined to get only five mistakes, if not a perfect score. That was the expectation I have always lived with. What for? What’s the difference between an A and a B? These letters have always defined me when in reality they’re singular letters that don’t even have a proper definition.

I’ve grown tired of picking through my every task and figuring out which is intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. I’ve come to accept that every aspect of me blossomed with the desire to please others. It’s become my addiction. One that I’ve tried to overcome, but could never get rid of.

I’m not one to inspire disappointment in anyone. I’ve made it a habit to follow scripts and recite my parts. I’ve tried in vain to stop but the thoughts of being unwanted and therefore irrelevant is unbearable.

I’ve worked very hard to reach where I am today. I’ve worked very hard for my position in this family. I can’t let it all go to waste. All those years of developing myself and maintaining a reputation –the struggle for reaching perfection, it cannot go to waste.

I just wrote a paper for a class (psych), it was in relation to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Self-actualization was on the very top. Basic needs such as food and water are easily satisfied; safety was never my concern; and so I find myself stuck on the third level which is the Belongingness and Love Needs. I’m stuck here. But if you ask me, self-actualization should come first before Belongingness and Love Needs. Otherwise we become part of the stereotypes where we think and act based on how others want us to –which is why before we ask for someone to love us, we must first achieve self-actualization: get to know ourselves, achieve full potential, and further develop who we are, the way we want to. After this, those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

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Love Me Please

​See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

My Rating: 3 stars


“I stepped towards him, hoping that being closer to him would release me, make me happy again, I want my daddy to love me.”


There are a lot we need in this life, but only one thing is most essential that we are lost without it. Love. As children, we seek our parents’ love, as adults we seek our love’s love and as parents ourselves, we seek our children’s love. 

See What I Have Done has perfectly portrayed what happens without love. To live trapped behind walls of torment, years of wrong, unsaid words, and dreams unlived. I’ve read about the Lizzie Borden Murder Case and have been more confused by what really happened, who really did it. In reality, Lizzie Borden remained the prime suspect however due to circumstances, was aquited. However Sarah Schmidt may have brought a whole new perspective here and honestly the last line on the acknowledgements gave me a chill. What does that mean, exactly??

Although it makes sense that perhaps a third person was involved however was not able to get the job done, I can’t make sense of it all. I don’t get what showing a piece of Abby’s skull and the axe head do anything to confirm Emma’s doubts? Would she really just believe a total stranger? She didn’t even confirm with her Uncle. But Emma always knew and suspected Lizzie, but her childhood promises kept her bound as it always had. She promised their mother she wouldn’t leave Lizzie alone and that she would take care and love her as long as she lived —something she had done until the very end. 

The murder of the pigeons likely was what made Lizzie snap. It actually happened in the actual case and I found it very morbid. Honestly the entire book is very morbid. But it’s really not new to have children murder their parents in cold blood. You see, abuse whatever the form, causes so much twisted thoughts and dark emotions from people especially at such a young age where we are not certain what we should do about all the darkness that lurks. It’s no brainer that a no good home as Bridget so delicately put, brings about no good at all. Our surroundings help shape us.

I felt for Emma and her yearning to be free and Lizzie and her yearning to please. I enjoyed the multiple points of view —all carefully unraveling the dark thoughts behind a person’s face. Sarah Schmidt made my heart race in anticipation. A part of me wished Lizzie hadn’t done it and that she thought of another way. But perhaps at that time, there was nothing else she could think of but putting an end to all her sufferings. The book made it clear that she’s become mental and weird in her ways, who wouldn’t? Perhaps everything else broke and was lost. She lost it.

Thank you Grove Atlantic for granting me an ARC of this book via NetGalley. Three stars for keeping me at the edge of my seat, for the eloquent writing that made me feel, fear, and vividly watch as love proves to determine and break a person’s being.