February 2010

Have you read a book where you can’t really decide whether or not you like the character? That’s how I felt with Olive Kitteridge.

Olive Kitteridge (the book, not the character) is a collection of short stories. Some of them are focused on Olive. Other stories, where Olive makes brief appearances, are about different characters.

I obviously can’t talk about every short story in this book, but I will talk about Olive Kitteridge. She’s definitely one of the most interesting and complex characters I’ve ever read about. She’s sharp-tongued, mean and paranoid, but she’s also misunderstood. I can’t say that I hate the character, but I can’t say that I like her, too. I do know that I pity her.   

All in all, I liked the book. It was depressing and touching at the same time. The stories in here are just like Olive – unforgettable.

Meet the Carterets, a wealthy family who seemed so perfect until Pony, the youngest daughter, was killed in a drowning accident. Or was it really an accident? William Carteret, the eldest and only son, believed that his favorite sister was murdered. Later, he discovers another shocking secret in the family that will change their lives forever. 
The Perfect Family was just okay for me. The plot was solid. I liked how it was part mystery and part literary fiction  at the same time. I loved the how the author described the settings – whether it was in Vermont or in Idaho. However, I failed to connect with the main character – William. For reasons I can’t say and because I’ll ruin  the suspense, I thought he was an ungrateful jerk. I thought the other minor characters were more interesting – particularly Mira – the middle sister.
I enjoyed this book. Readers who enjoy mysteries may appreciate it.

My writing days are moody. Some days words rush out like a bullet train. Sometimes words roll out smoothly – not too fast and not too slow. Then here are days when I’m trying to pull the words to get on that paper, and sometimes I have to pull hard.

Up until yesterday, I haven’t worked on any fiction stories.  I haven’t even touched the novel I began from NaNoWriMo since November. The holidays and my full-time job really ate my time late last year. By January, I was trying to put some air and revive my old blog, A Reading Collection.

Last Friday after finishing a long week at work and recovering from a 20 hour shift, I realized that it was already the 3rd week of February. I still hadn’t written anything. Guilt began to seep in. I knew I had to write about something. Anything. So I whipped out my journal and scribbled how guilty I felt and moved on. Yes, moved on. I realized that self-pity wasn’t going to help me. I took out one of my writing notebooks which I called and labeled, “Never Have a Writer’s Block Notebook” along with The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron.

I love The Writer’s Idea Book. This book has over 500 prompts that has jump started my writing. It’s my savior. At first, I felt awkward putting the words down, but by Sunday, it was a bullet train day. I’m also proud to say that yesterday I began to work on a new short story. I’m not worried if the story is crap because I can always fix that.  I was just glad – relieved – that I got back on track.

Although I can’t promise myself that I will keep my writing schedule consistent, I know I will try to get back to it like I always do.

I’m still doing some updates. My blog is almost to a point to where I want it to be. I love how it looks so far.

I’ve added some widgets so that site navigation is easier (I hope) for my visitors. I’ve also added some blogs and sites that I visit. I will add some links as time goes by.

It’s never too late for change.

That’s exactly what I did to my blog, A Reading Collection. Since last year I wanted to do something new in the blogging world. I really couldn’t figure out what exactly it was at first. I changed my background, and while I loved the pink and brown combination created from the wonderful and talented folks of Cutest Blog on the Block, I realized that something was missing.

Yesterday while I was book blog hopping, I came upon this post by Mark David from Absorbed in Words. The post was in reference to Dolce Bellezza’s thoughts on basics of  book blogging.  When I started my blog last year in April, I was so excited to meet book lovers like me. Let’s face it. Books weren’t something that some people I knew got excited about like the latest episode of American Idol. (By the way, Mark David’s Absorbed in Words and Dolce Bellezza are two of my favorite blogs so visit them when you have the chance.) 

Going back to Dolce Bellezza and Mark, their outlook was really the same as mine: That was being true to blogging. While I have been honest when it comes to book blogging, I haven’t been honest when it comes to sharing about my love for writing. Lord Byron said, “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” Amen to that.

My love for reading and writing will be the main themes of this blog so I hope that I’ll still see some of my fellow book bloggers who visited my old blog.  To those who are just visiting Haven for Thoughts for the first time, welcome.  

I moved from Blogger to Word Press. A change that I was a bit apprehensive to do but it turned out to be smooth. I’m still learning how to navigate around the dashboard, and I’m still trying to figure out how I delete the About this Site section on the navigation bar on the right. So bear with me here.  I also updated my policy  on how I rate my books so please read on that when you have the chance.

Before I go, I just want to say thank you to Mark and especially to Ms. Bellezza for opening my eyes and helping me realize how important it is to be honest to myself when it comes to blogging.

Again, welcome to my new blog. I hope you will enjoy your stay.

Rating: 5 out 5
First of all, I’m going to say that I’ve enjoyed the books written by John Steinbeck that I’ve read so far: Grapes of Wrath, The Pearl and Of Mice and Men. However, I believe that East of Eden is the best one. In fact, it’s the best one so far I’ve read this year, and I’ll add it to my favorite and must read list.
East of Eden is about two families – the Hamiltons and the Trasks. It’s the story of their struggles and triumphs together. The majority of the story, however, is all about the Trasks. John Steinbeck adapted the Cain and Abel story and used this on his characters – Adam and Charles Trask and then later on Adam’s twin sons – Caleb and Aron. I won’t go into details about the plot but I will tell you that Steinbeck’s adaptation worked so well. The characters were well developed. They were dynamic. Each can be both strong and weak at the same time. They weren’t perfect. Because Steinbeck gave them contrasting human qualities and emotions such as the brothers’ love and jealousy for each other made them so interesting and so complex.
Complex is one just one of the words I will describe Catherine Trask – the mother of the twins. She’s the character that one would love to hate. She’s the villainess in this story. Selfish and sadistic, Cathy destroys those who hate her and those who love her. But while Cathy was pure evil, Steinbeck also created the characters Samuel and Lee. I thought they were the most beloved characters in the book.
I cannot recommend this book enough. With its unforgettable characters and excellent storyline, East of Eden definitely shouldn’t be missed.

Rating: 4 out 5

Have you ever wondered about the “what ifs” in your life? I know I have. Jillian Westfield (the main character of the Time of My Life) certainly has. Interestingly enough, she was actually given a second chance to fix a certain part in her past life that apparently caused her unhappiness in her current life.
I love the book cover, and I think I mentioned before that beautiful book covers impair…I mean affects my buying book ability. When I read the synopsis at the back of the book, I got the impression that Time of My Life was a chick lit. That should have made me put the book back into the shelf, because I’m not into chick lits at all. But the cover was just so pretty. 🙂
So fast forward to a couple of months later…I finally got the courage take it out my bookshelf. I figured that since I bought it, I might as well read it.
I was prepared to dislike the book. First of all, I thought of how whiny and selfish Jillian seemed to be. She was married with one child. She hardly saw her husband Henry who was always away on business trips so she was horny. She does love her daughter Katie but then she was always daydreaming about her ex-boyfriend – Jackson. One day she wished she was still with Jackson…and then voila! She went back in time (seven years prior)…back to the time when she was still with Jackson… back before they broke up…back before she met her husband Henry…back before she had her daughter Katie. Since Jillian knew how unhappy she was after she and Jackson broke up, she decided that she was going to fix things in their relationship. Things just seemed to be sailing smooth…until she meets Henry again.
The several twists in the story made me stick around and finish the book in one day! It was amazing. I grew to love it…and yes, even the character Jillian because the author developed her into someone I could easily identify with. The story actually reminded me of some of the words in Sheryl Crow’s song, Soak Up the Sun. “It’s not having want you want. It’s wanting what you got.” It’s the perfect description of what this story is all about.
Extremely fun read. Even if you’re not a chick lit fan (and trust me, I’m not), you might enjoy this.

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