A book a friend recommended: Slammed

slammedMy friend has been wanting me to read SLAMMED since early last year and thanks to this reading challenge, I finally did. I haven’t read any other Colleen Hoover books before this one but I know she’s quite popular. It’s just that last year, I was more inclined to read from the fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian stories.

The Story:

When her father died, Layken moved to Michigan with her mother and 9 year-old brother because their single parented household could not afford to remain in Texas. Her brother, Kell, immediately became best friends with a kid who lived across the street named Caulder. And what do you know, Caulder had a hot older brother–Will. It was love at first sight. And just when Layken finally accepted that their move to Michigan wasn’t such a bad idea, fate played its cruel trick on her. On her first day in her new high school, she found out that Will, the guy she just kissed the night before, was actually her Poetry teacher.

My Rating: 3 everything-is-so-perfect stars

I know this is supposed to be a light love story about taking chances, loving life, and accepting death, but I don’t know why I got a little depressed while and after reading it. So I drank coffee though my doctor said I shouldn’t, went to the cinemas and watched a movie–The Last Five Years, which was also depressing–on my own (as in I was the only one watching it at that time and it was really creepy). And how I was feeling might not be really related to this book, but it was what I was reading at that time so…

Anyway. SLAMMED has an abundance of valuable life lessons. The author tells us that death is inevitable. It’s true that we can never be prepared for this, but if by chance, if we’re lucky enough to receive a warning, then let’s make the best out of it.

Pour your heart out. Let the world hear your words. Push your boundaries. That’s what they’re there for.

My Favorite Slam Poem from the Book:

“The Lake”

I used to love the ocean.

Everything about her.

Her coral reefs, her white caps, her roaring

waves, the rocks they lap, her pirate legends and mermaid tails.

Treasures lost and treasures held…

And ALL

Of her fish

In the sea.

Yes, I used to love the ocean,

Everything about her.

The way she would sing me to sleep as I lay in my bed

then wake me with a force

That I soon came to dread.

Her fables, her lies, her misleading eyes, I’ll drain her dry

If I cared enough to.

I used to love the ocean,

Everything about her.

Her coral reefs, her white caps, her roaring

waves, the rocks they lap, her pirate legends and mermaid tails, treasures lost and treasures

held.

And ALL

Of her fish

In the sea.

Well, if you’ve ever tried navigating your

sailboat through her stormy seas, you would

realize that her white caps are your enemies. If you’ve ever tried swimming ashore when your

leg gets a cramp and you just had a huge meal

of In-n-Out burgers that’s weighing you down, and her roaring waves are knocking the wind

out of you, filling your lungs with water as you

flail your arms, trying to get someone’s

attention, but your friends just

wave

back at you?

And if you’ve ever grown up with dreams in your head about life, and how one of these days you would pirate your own ship and have your

own crew and that all of the mermaids would love

only 

you?

Well, you would realize…

Like I eventually realized…

That all the good things about her?

All the beautiful?

It’s not real.

It’s fake.

So you keep your ocean.

I’ll take the Lake.

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Promise forgotten

Chapters Read: Genesis 40:1 – 41:57

“But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison.” – Genesis 40:14

“The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.” – Genesis 40:23

The moment he was released from prison, the chief cupbearer forgot about Joseph who interpreted his dream and gave him hope while he was still in prison. And sometimes, we are also guilty of doing the same. We remember people when we need them, but when we’re comfortable and quite content with our lives, we tend to forget those people who stayed with us during our dark times.

But as we read Chapter 41, we see that though the chief cupbearer forgot, the Lord did not. In His time, he allowed the cupbearer to remember Joseph and testify of his gift of interpretation to the Pharaoh. 

God’s timing is always perfect. If the chief cupbearer remembered Joseph immediately after he was released, he would not have any proof of what Joseph did to show the pharaoh. But God allowed him to forget, so that when the time comes that the pharaoh would dream, he would call on Joseph and he would know that the cupbearer’s words were true.

Intentional or not, people forget and break their promises. But don’t despair. God never forgets and He always keeps His promises. In the right time, we’ll understand why things did not work out the way we wanted it to.


A book with magic: Apprentice (The Black Mage #2)

apprenticeGoodreads introduced me last year to Ms. Rachel E. Carter, and I absolutely did not regret reading her first book–The Black Mage: First Year.  I loved it! The book was hard to put down, and I found the author’s approach in learning magic fresh and unique. I fell in love with the main characters, too much that I cried in some of the emotional parts.

I’m really happy that I did not need to wait too long for the second book–The Black Mage: Apprentice–to come out.

The Story: 

The second installment of the series covers Ryiah’s action-packed and very emotional four years as an Apprentice, where she realizes that no matter how hard you try to focus on achieving your goals, you can’t keep your heart from getting in the way. In these four years she learns how to gain control of her power as she comes face to face with life-threatening experiences, falls in and out of love, and discovers the art of letting go. And no matter how brutal those years are, in the end she gets what she’s always wanted–the black robe of Combat and a betrothal.

My Rating: 4 please-give-this-entire-series-a-happy-ending stars

Highly recommended!

Would have given it a 5, but Darren and Ryiah kept changing their minds!!! (Yes, I was really frustrated.) But I’m really happy with how it ended. Totally did not expect that bold gesture from Darren. It was very brilliant of him to arrive at a win-win solution to his dilemma. Now I’m wondering what would happen to those two in the next books. A lot could happen in two books! Guess I need to prepare to be frustrated again.

Will Derrick die? Please don’t kill Derrick, he’s so adorable.

I’m expecting more action and surprises in the next two installments.

My Takeaway: 

Ryiah and Darren are both considered powerful because they can pain cast, which for me makes sense because I believe that pain makes us stronger. The deeper your pain, the stronger and wiser you become. It makes you invincible.

My favorite quotes: 

“I was done with misery. I would not let my learning be squandered by a broken heart.”

“Romance only slows you down.”

“Pain is how we build strength.”

“Each one of us is a hero. The irony, of course, is that most will never receive the title.”

A book of short stories: Stranger Things Happen

strangerthingsI fell in love with Kelly Link’s writing style in “The Lady and the Fox,” one of the 12 short holiday stories included in the My True Love Gave to Me anthology, which was published last year. It made me want to read an entire book of her words.

Stranger Things Happen is the author’s first published collection, and was influenced by Nancy Drew Mystery Stories and The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

The Stories (and what I think they are about, because believe me, the themes are difficult to decipher):

1. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

“There were a lot of things I wish I’d said to you.”

What do you think would happen when you die? Would you wake up as a ghost in a room with the view of the sea? And when that happens, would you have the ability to recall the names of your loved ones? I think Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose is a story of regret–of not having peace after betraying someone you love. And forgetting your promise to that person is like forgetting that person’s name.

2. Water Off a Black Dog’s Back

“Tell me which you could sooner do without, love or water.”

If your life has been defined by a series of loss, would you choose to spend the rest of your life with someone who’s never lost anything in his/her life? Sometimes it takes more than attraction. You can only love someone completely the moment you understand that person’s pain.

3. The Specialist’s Hat

“When you’re Dead…you live in a box, and it’s always dark, but you’re never afraid.”

You can cheat life by playing dead.

4. Flying Lessons

“Have you ever dreamed you could fly, I mean with wings?”

If your lover could fly and travel to hell, would you follow?

5. Travels with the Snow Queen

“Where you are, where you are coming from, it is impossible to read a map made of paper. If it were that easy then everyone would be a traveler. You have heard of other travelers whose maps are breadcrumbs, whose maps are stones, whose maps are four winds, whose maps are yellow bricks laid one after the other. You read your map with your foot, and behind you somewhere there must be another traveler whose map is the bloody footprints that you are leaving behind you.”

This is my favorite piece of the eleven. I’ve always hated my visible and invisible scars. I wished they never existed. I never saw them as Kelly Link does in this story–as maps. When we look at our scars, they tell them where we’ve been, and where we’re going. And the trail of blood that those scars left behind forms another map, not for you, but for those who are traveling behind you.

6. Vanishing Act

“Life is a series of sudden disappearances, leavetakings without proper good-byes. Someday she too might vanish. Some days she looks forward to learning this trick.”

Sometimes you would meet someone who will show you a way to escape the box that confines you.

7. Survivor’s Ball, or, The Donner Party

“Someday, he knew, if he traveled long enough he would eventually come to a wonderful–a magical–place.”

We are all travelers. We are all survivors.

8. Shoe and Marriage

“When you are holding me, I don’t feel homesick at all.”

Shoes play a very significant role in our lives. They define who we are. They define our relationships. They define how we’ve lived our lives.

9. Most of My Friends are Two-Thirds Water

“When I say that some women are blondes, you will realize that I am probably not.”

If you’re not the type that your best friend would fall for (and you want him/her to fall for you) would you change who you are for that person? I tried… but the effects were temporary. So I think that’s never a good idea. Okay?

10. Louise’s Ghost

“Why is she always supposed to give up something? Why can’t other people share?”

Never. steal. your. best. friend’s. man. (You’ll get full custody of her daughter when she dies).

11. The Girl Detective

“No one will ever love you the way that you love them.”

The most confusing story of all. Who is the girl detective? Who is narrating the story? The Girl Detective doesn’t eat food. She eats dreams. (I’m not familiar with Nancy Drew so… sorry.)

My Rating: 2 stars

Kelly Link is a genius. Reading this collection is a bit depressing for readers like me who really take time to analyze events in a story, finding answers, and concluding endings. She finishes her stories without conclusion or solution. There were moments when I found myself asking “What did I just read? What was that about?” So… maybe I’ll read one of her books again… or maybe not. Still too early to tell 🙂

Here comes that dreamer

Chapters Read: Genesis 37:1 – 39:23

“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” – Genesis 37:19-20

God has placed a dream, a vision, in Joseph’s heart, and when he shared this dream to his brothers, the jealousy they harbored toward Joseph turned into anger. Isn’t it enough that he is our father’s favorite? Do we have to bow down and kiss his feet as well? I guess that was what they were thinking. Their hatred caused them to plot Joseph’s harm and fool their father into thinking that his favorite son was dead, devoured by a fierce wild animal.

But the Lord was with Joseph. His brothers’ schemes did not hinder God from blessing him. In fact, their actions were instrumental to fulfilling God’s plan in Joseph’s life.

“The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes…” – Genesis 39:2-3

And even when Joseph was imprisoned for a crime that he did not commit, the Lord took care of him.

“But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” – Genesis 39:20-21

He may not have shown it in a vivid dream as He did with Joesph, by God has placed a specific vision and purpose in each of our hearts. We may have already figured it out, or maybe we are still searching for it, but God assures us one thing–no one and nothing can thwart His purposes in our lives. As long as we choose Him over our doubts and fears, He will be with us.

Second Chance

Chapters Read: Genesis 31:1 – 35:29

“But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arm around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.” – Genesis 33:4

What I liked most about Jacob’s story is that it is centered on forgiveness and second chances. He was born a deceiver, but the Lord was able to change his heart and humble him.

God had also placed a “Jacob” in my life, and that person had been the cause of my pain and struggles for a very long time. But by God’s grace I was able to stand and choose forgiveness and peace instead of plotting my revenge. And the Lord was faithful. He sustained me and made me realize that He has and is everything I need. He blessed me and never left my side, as He did with Esau.

The Lord had given Esau the strength to forgive and embrace his brother. Yes, at first he rebelled by marrying a Canaanite woman, but along the way God was able to heal his heart.

In the tale of Jacob and Esau I learned how God deals with each of us individually. That though we are far from perfect, we make bad decisions, and are more inclined to hate than forgive… He will always find a way to touch us, and remind us that He’s with us, willing to give us a second chance.

Closer to the brokenhearted

Chapters Read: Genesis 28:1 – 30:43

When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She names him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery.” – Genesis 29:31-32

It is difficult to spend every waking day with someone who does not love you. Someone who would choose someone else over you, everytime. While Jacob was focused on Rachel, God showed Leah that she wasn’t alone, and that He cares for her.

A lot of hearts have been broken by unrequited love. In times of pain and loneliness, may we remember that God’s love is bigger that any other love in this world. His is a LOVE that will never fail, will never give up, and will never ever run out.