April 2009

So…today after work, I went to the mall to go to the Hallmark store so I can buy some Mother’s Day cards for my mom and my sister. I should have gone straight home…but instead I took a detour to Borders Bookstore…just to check out some books. Big mistake.

Borders was having a “buy four and get the fifth book for free” sale. O, Dios mio. Well, being a card carrying bookaholic I am…of course, I did get five books. But I didn’t get just one book for free…but two because I had a free $5 coupon for being a member! Sweet!
Here were the books that I bought:
1. The Help by Kathyrn Stockett
I have wanted this book from the get-go! The book is about three women living in the 1960’s South. It’s similar in The Secret Life of the Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and since I loved that book, I got The Help.

2. The Diplomat’s Wife by Pam Jenoff
Y’all know about my WWII obsession right? Well, this was why I bought this book. It’s part romance and part war novel. It should be good.

3. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle It’s a mystery classic featuring Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. Watson. This was my free $5.00 book. Heehee.

4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Platt
The first time I saw this on the shelf, I just grabbed it and never looked back.

5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Finally! I got his first novel. Yay!

I can’t wait to read these books. I hope I will not be disappointed although I think they all got pretty good reviews.

I have decided to join two more reading challenges. First off, I signed up for the 100+ Reading Challenge. I didn’t think J. Kaye of J. Kaye’s Book Blog was going to let me join since it’s already April…but she did. Thanks, J. Kaye! The challenge is that the reader has to read 100 plus books before the year ends. I posted a link on the side if anyone is interested. Or you can click on the picture below.

Another reading challenge I’ve joined is the War Through Generations Reading Challenge which Anne and Selena are hosting. I just couldn’t pass up this chance. I love, love, LOVE learning about World War II. I record any documentary that the History Channel and History Channel International feature. Can you see Geek Girl written across my forehead? Yes, I know I don’t have a life but I don’t care.

I’m digressing again. The challenge is that at least 5 books related to WWII have to be read before the year ends, but more than five is allowed. I also posted a link on the side but you can click on the button below to sign up. There’s a reading list to choose from that includes both fiction and nonfiction books.

So…now I guess you are wondering…what do these challenges have to the with the changes I’m making? Go ahead…let me hear it.

“Helen, you crazy girl…what do these challenges you’ve joined have to do with the changes with the blog?”

Well, I’ve decided to create three more blogs where I will be doing reviews of each of the books I have read for each challenge. I’ve already provided links so just check them out. I honestly never thought I would start another blog. Let alone 3 more…but I want to organize my reviews a little better and keep track of what I’ve read. I also want those blogs to be strictly about reviews.

So what does this mean for A Reading Collection? Nothing, really…except I will keep blogging about books I’ve read…and post anything related to reading. This is my first baby so this blog will always be special to me.

I hope you will stick with me throughout these changes. Like I said before, I’m still learning the ropes around here and making some improvements. So just bear with me here…and thanks to everyone who have been following this blog. I really appreciate your visits.

Change is Good

This is just a short update on one of the changes I will be making in this blog. I will no longer be posting what I’m reading nor will I be posting what will I be reading in the future. Instead, I will be listing what I have read this year. I just feel like I HAVE to read what’s on my future reading list…but this is more of a personal thing. I just get so anal sometimes. LOL. Sometimes, I don’t get to update my list too. For example, I had finished The Rose of Sebastopol days ago, and I didn’t realize it was still in my current reading list. I also finished World War I by H. P. Wilmott and it’s listed as a future reading. I guess I read faster than I get to update my blog.

I hope everyone is having a good weekend.

The Rose of Sebastopol is set during the Victorian Era. Brave and adventurous Rosa Barr follows her calling as a nurse and joins Florence Nightingale with her nurse corps during the Crimean War of the 1850’s. When Rosa becomes missing, her first cousin Mariella Lingwood dashes to Turkey to find her.
The novel opens with Mariella arriving in Italy from London to be with her sick fiancee Henry Thewell. Henry is a surgeon who serves in the Crimean War. When Mariella is reunited with Henry, it is Rosa’s name that Henry calls for and not Mariella’s in his delirium. What has happened to Rosa? Has she and Henry fallen in love? Has Rosa betrayed Mariella?
No two people could be more different than Mariella and Rosa. It’s a surprise how these two could get along. They are the best of friends and the best of cousins. Mariella is a Victorian lady who is conservative and lives a sheltered life. In London, she has a sewing circle and keeps a scrapbook about the Crimean War. Rosa, however, is a rebel and out-spoken. Unlike Mariella, she isn’t satisfied by watching the war in Turkey from London. She wants to be a part of it.
At first, I admit that Rosa is annoying. I think it is selfish of her to leave her sick mother with Mariella’s family. I start to understand her when she claims that nursing is her calling and feels that she could do more where she is needed. My view of her changed from irritation to admiration.
My sympathy goes to Mariella. Jilted by her fiancee, Mariella at first hesitates to find her cousin Rosa. At first, I could not blame her since she is feeling betrayed and suspicious since both Henry and Rosa have left her to go to war. Yet not all is what it seems as the novel progresses. One of the best parts in this book is how Mariella’s character blooms as she remains in Turkey.
The author does a great job of pulling readers to the scenes. While reading, I feel like I am transported to 1855 with the sounds of cannon booming in the background. I could also see the sick and the dying with the rotting flesh as Mariella goes from hospital to hospital to find her cousin. I have to add that back then more people have died from infection rather than in battle. Hand washing is almost unheard of so I’m sure viruses and bacteria have had such a party back then.
Another note, I should mention that the tone of the language here is affectionate at times. I think I read someone’s review saying that Rosa is a lesbian. LOL. Far from it. Back in the Victorian era, people have used more words of affection compared to today. McMahon has such eloquence in her words. It’s almost as if she lived in the Victorian period herself.
One of my favorite characters there is Captain Max Stukely, Rosa’s stepbrother. He is cavalry officer in the war. He’s very charismatic and is admired. I feel like I’m being swept off my feet myself. LOL. Mariella develops complex feelings for him, and he seems to care for her a great deal too.
Sometimes the book seems to drag a bit. It isn’t boring though. Pay attention before starting a new chapter because of the timelines and the places. One chapter I will be in London, 1854. The next chapter I will be in Turkey, 1855. Sometimes, the book goes back to Derbyshire, 1844. I have a habit of not looking at title chapters sometimes since I get too impatient to get to the next chapter, especially if the book is really good.
The ending…well, I can’t say that I like it too much. Readers might be disappointed especially if they are looking for a happy ending. So…beware.
I would recommend this book if you like character-driven novels and not plot driven. I’m not saying that there isn’t a plot but I wish there is more information about Rosa while she is in Crimea. However, I wouldn’t read this book if you are looking for something light. If someone asks me to rate this between a scale of one to five, I would rate this as a four.

I love a challenge…so when I saw the Classics Challenge for this year, I just had to join.

I picked these books to read:

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
As a true blue historical fiction reader fanatic, I had planned to read this book from the get-go.

2. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Funny enough, I have never read this book even though Hemingway is one of my favorite authors.

3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Everytime I go to Starbucks Cafe in Barnes and Noble in Florence, I would look at the posters of the great classics. One of them was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I told myself that one day I was going to read it. Well, that one day will come soon enough.

4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath. Enough said.

5. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Bloom
Ten Bloom recounts her horrific days in a Nazi concentration camp in this book.

6. Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I love mysteries…so I chose this book which starred Doyle’s best known character – Sherlock Holmes.

As a bonus selection, I chose The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I once saw my friend Christy reading it. I’ve read Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns and I was completely blown away. If you haven’t read it, you should.

For a future classic, I suggested Little Bee by Chris Cleave. The novel stayed with me for days after I read it. Suzanne of Chick with Books did a review if you want to read it. We both enjoyed the book so much that we went on and on about it. LOL. Reading that book felt like riding an emotional roller coaster. The book was funny that I had to laugh out loud, but some parts were so sad and terrifying that I just wanted to cry. There was also a portion of the book where I felt just as vindictive as Little Bee. The book had so much impact that it was unforgettable. It was excellent and will forever stay in my book collection.

If you would like to join the Classic Challenge of 2009. Check it out. You don’t have to have a blog to sign up. You just have to love reading. Have fun! See you there!

As a Filipino who became a US citizen at such a young age, I’ve always been curious about my Filipino heritage. Thanks to the internet, I can research about the history of the Filipino Americans and the Philippine culture and history without leaving my home office and spending over $2000 worth of roundtrip ticket to the Philippines.

I recently visited the World Digital Library where they posted online some of history’s earliest works such as the Christian Doctrine in Spanish and Tagalog which was the first book printed in the Philippines. It was published in Manila in 1593. (FYI, Tagalog is one of the dialects that is commonly spoken in the Philippines. There are 170 dialects in the country.)

One of the pages featured online in Christian Doctrine in Spanish and Tagalog
Sources: World Digital Library and the Library of Congress

I was in complete amazement as I viewed the scanned pages of this book that was nearly five centuries old. The book showed the Tagalog alphabet, which were the same alphabets that I learned from my early childhood education in the Philippines. It also featured the Our Father prayer both in Spanish and Tagalog.

The real (not scanned) Christian Doctrine in Spanish and Tagalog can be located in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. I found it strange that this book was not in the Philippines or in Spain.

Curious to know more about the doctrine? Check it out here. This link will also feature the scanned pages of the book.

I strongly urge you to visit the World Digital Library. Journals, maps, and even old videos are just some of the media featured from all over the world. If you love history or if you just want to itch that scratch, run. Don’t walk there. I promise that you won’t regret it, and it’s worth your time.

Just one of the manuscripts that was featured online from World Digital Library. It was written by Antonio Pigafetta who journeyed with Ferdinand Magellan when the latter discovered the Philippines in 1521.

An Oracle Bone from China made between 1200 to 1180 B.C.

I received two awards for my blog. Woot! Woot! I want to thank Suzanne of Chick With Books and Yvette of True Crime Book Reviews. They have been so sweet to consider this blog since it’s still in its infancy stage. I had to figure out how to add the awards to my blog since I’m not that blog savvy yet. LOL.

Here are my awards:

The Premio Dardos Award

Our Lovely Blog Award
Thanks again for everyone’s support. Your visits mean a lot to me.

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