Wednesday, December 3, 2014

DARK PLACES by GILLIAN FLYNN

Libby Day lives her post-family-murder life for nothing. Forever unconcerned with whatever life throws at her, she could care less about what happens to her already destroyed self. She thought about and tried suicide a hundred times but never got around to truly ending what’s left of her. She’s alive but running out of money to survive, so she finds a new way to earn using her family’s murder’s through a group of people who take interest in the mystery of who murdered her mother and siblings. While in search for past suspects whose names came up during the past investigations, she finds herself facing new realizations about his convicted brother, Ben Day, and new angles as to who might actually did the murder.
I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it. – Libby Day

With a plot centering on murder and Satanism, Dark Places’ theme is as dark as it could get. Every chapter makes me play an eerie scenario in my head. But more than the visual brutalities, I see violence in the characters’ broken souls and minds. I see it in the way they think, the way they act or in the way they don’t, and it’s far more disturbing.

I got hooked even when the intensity wasn’t that much, as it was scattered here and there, revealing itself only little by little and in an unproblematic narration while building up to the big reveal. It’s slow-paced, very, the storytelling taking its time, but it got to me and kept my interest going with the end of every chapter always leaving a simple yet intriguing statement every time.

Flynn’s approach in using multiple perspectives and time periods, as she did with this one, is a very effective and engaging writing style, as it keeps me drawn deeper into her story. Dark Places is strategically exciting in a way that the story unfolds through the overlapping and meeting of different characters’ storytelling at different times. I was never confused; I never felt overworked while reading. Everything fell into place seamlessly.

I felt something loosen in me, that shouldn’t have loosened. A stitch come undone. – Libby Day

Dark Places has that Gillian Flynn signature with its ring of unusual truth and brutal reality which I truly admire. In general, Flynn’s stories are always too real that they tend to be scary to read.

Based on her novels that I’ve read, Gillian Flynn is not an idealist. She knows how to point out the truth behind the possibilities of every unusual thing happening, that sometimes people think people can’t do certain things even when they actually can because these things are in their nature, that sometimes people are just really harsh, that sometimes justice can’t be served and people don’t always get what they deserve, and that all people can do is accept all these things and carry on with their lives. These are things I as a reader ponder on every time I open a Flynn novel, and I love that she makes me think about all these because very few authors get to me like that.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book because it’s just so twisted. I mean, not as much as I enjoyed Gone Girl because I believe that to be her best brainchild yet, but it still has all the elements that made me read and think about it nonstop.

The trend that it is today, Dark Places is already set for its movie adaptation come 2015. No surprise there anymore but that’s still something worth looking forward to, right? J

Are you done reading this book? Share your thoughts!


*Photo source: http://theaimn.com/book-review-dark-places-gillian-flynn/

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Notes On: Being a 20-Something

It’s the wee hour. The clock hits 2:45 in the morning, and I’m still on my laptop. Stumbling upon a blog about being in your 20s lead me to browse back on my own dilemma-loaded Quarterlife post written last year. A thousand and one thoughts hit me with a surge. I get into a reflective mood again, after a long while.

Brooding over my old post, I have seen how so unclear, unsure and confusing being at such a position made me feel. There were questions I couldn’t answer, feelings I couldn’t explain and situations I couldn’t contain. But right at this moment when my heart and mind are one with each other, I can be sure to tell myself that a ton has changed since.

And in a good way.

Being in my 20s has left me feeling like I am in that teenage transition period yet again with so much adjustment I need to do. Only that, now I have to go from being mature age-wise to being really mature as someone imbibing maturity in its real essence because fooling around could impact the life I’ll be having in the future negatively. It’s time to take life seriously, and I’m all for it.

I guess I’m starting to get the hang of it.

There’s so much pressure all around from people who intentionally and unintentionally puts it in the air. There’s a “standard” that 20-somethings must meet and/or surpass when it comes to the things they should be doing and where they should be headed either in career, love or family life. Yes, these things are critical at this stage, but how does boxing ourselves inside these expectations help us? I’ve come to realize that pressure not only makes me hard on myself but also makes me hate those who put it on me. And so, I’ve learned to free myself from such hate. More to the point, I don’t worry about the “standard” much anymore. I will live my life the way I want to, and people don’t get to dictate me on the matter, period.

I’m glad there’s still so much out there that I don’t know. I have this uncanny interest in exploring life more today than when I was younger. Back then, the answers were spoon-fed to me; today, I have the capability of working out answers to questions on my own and experiencing the fulfillment in utilizing self-crafted means to understand and connect the dots that make up this colorful world. People turn to older folks for wise words because they’ve already gone through most of life. I can’t wait to get to that point where one look is all it takes. But whilst it’s still miles ahead, I can enjoy the little discoveries and knowledge here and there.

I’ve always had the fear of missing out whenever there are gatherings, and all my mates would be there but me. But then, I’m discovering that I am slowly but surely starting to outgrow this nonsense. Yes, it’s nonsense because what is there to fear really? I won’t be with them nor will they be with me at all times; circumstances will get in the way, and that’s fine. What we have is not merely measured by the physical presence; ours means so much more. With all we’ve been through together, I’m assured now more than ever that no matter how often or less often we get to be together, our rock-solid friendship will not be tarnished, not one bit. And that even if it has already been days, weeks, months, and years since, when I see them again, it wouldn’t be awkward. It wouldn’t feel like it’s been awhile.

I would always subconsciously beat myself up every time I still couldn’t let go of my old teenager-y ways because it would remind me of how immature I still am. My mentality was that these old habits were what’s holding me back from utter maturity. After some deep thinking (and some self-abhorrence) though, I realized there’s no need to detach myself from such lifestyle. It’s all about moderation. I can keep on enjoying my old ways, but I just have to master the “when” and the “how much” without sacrificing my growth. Besides, as Susanna Kaysen likes to put it, sometimes the only way to stay sane is to go a little crazy. There it is, best of both worlds.

Maturity per se used to be a scary venture for me. And still is, a bit. It used to feel like a death trap with all the baggage it brings. Now I see it as an opportunity. There’s nothing to lose. If I fail along the way, there’ll surely be lessons learned; if things go smoothly then I’m just one lucky son of a bitch.

It’s all about how we see things. Maybe it’s all everyone needs, shifting outlooks a little or changing it completely. It’s surprising how much easier everything could feel.

The bottom line is I’m happy that I’m already in this stage where I’m learning to accept all the changes in my life. I’m happy with all my realizations. I’m embracing everything because, why fight something when it actually leads to even greater things?

Life today makes more sense, and indeed, there is a plan set for everyone. I am seeing mine unfold in front of me, and it’s so beautiful. I’m not saying I understand and get everything now, only that I know everything’s in good faith, and what’s to come is going to be great.


I have a newfound happiness in the realization, acceptance and embracing of all these things. This is my rite of passage to maturity.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Burot Beach 2014: Whilst Still A Virgin

With sand polvoron-like in features,

tides low,

seaweeds sometimes ticklish and sometimes piercing to the feet,

sea urchins ever present,

and water as clear as can be,

it’s always the beach we go back to for escape.


Burot Beach in Calatagan, Batangas is my newfound gem.

How lucky was I to chance upon another beautiful beach – and this one still unexploited.

Burot’s waters vary in color – some parts are white, others blue green and the rest a beautiful blue. The water is most of the time steady with the calmness being an open invitation for the people to just sit there and float around in the middle of it all since there are no waves to intimidate them. The calmness only justifies the essence of why people are there in the first place – to escape the noise that is their real life, and it’s just perfect.
With feet always on the loose, we roamed around the rest of the beach stretch. It was a good thing we didn’t just stay in one place because the parts we explored were even better than where we camped out. There were rocky mini-cliffs, fine sands and colorful sea creatures. Schools of fishes appeared from time to time. Island hopping here didn’t really mean hopping from island to island as much as it meant boating around Burot and going down to the white, shallow portions of the water for playtime and in the deeper fractions of the beach for swimming.

It was the closest I’ve gotten to the real island life. There was no decent resort around to take us in. Power was nonexistent. Apart from worn-out toilets, all there was was a sari-sari store that rents tents aside from the few basic store products to guests who don’t bring their own. Everything else we needed while there was upon us. The flashlights and a bonfire tricked the darkness of the night away. Uno cards served as entertainment in a rather quiet set. The breeze was all we had to cool ourselves while asleep. Waking up to bright skies strewn across the vast blue sea after a much needed rest was priceless.
My mates and I were fortunate enough to experience Burot while it is still in its full raw beauty. With the knowledge that development of this paradise is already in the works, I’m scared that in a way something will be lost in the process. The virginity perhaps – the virginity and everything that comes with it. I can only hope that with all the aesthetic renovations, at least a part of its simplicity will remain, as it is what makes up the charm of the beach itself.
Something else left a mark and mystery in my mind as we ventured into this place. Twice or thrice during our stay, a small group of locals would gather around a huge rock situated in the water in the middle of the day. I think it was some sort of a ritual. I had no clue what it was for, but it felt so strange and so local. Too bad I wasn’t able find out.
Burot Beach was such a fleeting moment, but I’m content knowing that I am lucky enough to even have the moment.

(Late post)


*Thanks to Antoniette, Maricris and Jerome for the photos!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

ENTWINED WITH YOU by SYLVIA DAY

There’s Bared To You then Reflected In You; now here’s Entwined With You.

The third installment in the Crossfire series, Entwined With You is the turning-point chapter for the kind of people Eva and Gideon have become as they pick up the pieces of their relationship after such a character-defining incident in the previous book.
Day One of my life was the day I met you. – Gideon Cross

First things first, the romantic gestures, both the simple and the grand, are a foolproof winner for me. I’m a sucker for such things which this book has plenty of. It kept my grip of the novel tight.

Favorite part would be the wedding at the Caribbean. That would be every cheesy girl’s dream, and it couldn't have gotten any better than that. Hearts all over the place! It was more of the intimacy of the ceremony and the purity of each other’s intentions that made it a very fitting wedding for Eva and Gideon.

If souls could be mated with wishes, ours would be inextricably entwined. – Eva Tramell

Now onto the criticisms.

Entwined With You felt more like just a continuation of book two, in a way that I didn’t actually open up a new book, just a new chapter covering a very long denouement.

There was nothing in particular that stood out for me. Sorry but I think the first half of the book could have been skipped without missing much. I mean, most could have just been mentioned in passing, not combed through, because they somehow took the life out of the story gradually. What’s that word again, dragging.

Worst of worsts, I was not satisfied with the ending. It was too abrupt! It could not have ended right there and then, but it did. Whaaaaat? I was left hanging at the last page of this book and not in a crap-that-is-a-killer-ending-i-need-to-read-the-next-book-asap kind of way, but in a what-is-it-really-the-ending-it-does-not-seem-likely-it-is-too-soon kind of way. Yes, there were many issues such as Eva’s video, Anne Lucas’ surfacing, Cary plus Tatiana plus baby, Corinne minus the baby, the secret marriage, and Eva’s clash with Gideon’s mother which all feel like a lot but are actually not that much. Frankly, even when combined, they still did not suffice to awaken the excited reader in me. Book two’s climax was a real climax; this wasn’t.

Angel, a crowd of millions couldn’t hide you from me. I found you once. I’ll always find you. – Gideon Cross

In general, I guess I was more disappointed than thrilled with how the story went down. As it turns out, Crossfire is not just a trilogy, which I initially thought, but a five-part series. Rumor has it Captivated By You and the last book have yet to be released on November this year and sometime around 2015 respectively. And because I went through the first three books, I might as well read the remaining ones for closure’s sake.

Are you done reading this book? Share your thoughts!

xx


Monday, September 29, 2014

Foodgasmic!

To be with friends. And to be with food.

Aaah, life!

In celebration of Ago’s 22 years of fierceness and ingenuity in this world, last Saturday happened!

We were in luck knowing that the celebrator herself is very good in cooking and recreating recipes. All we had to do was wait to be served and filled.
Forget the hot weather and the traffic jam, that weekend food feast was so gooooood!

Here’s a photo collage of food and friends and food and friends.

And food. J
To a fiend who not only believes she can do things but also acts on said beliefs, to a person who enjoys creating and recreating, to one whose imagination is unfathomable, happy birthday! Keep your drive and inspire. Love you, man! Love you, sugar!
Belated happy birthday also to Roc! Beast bod!

xx


*Thanks to Ago and Kreng for the photos!

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