Rockin' Away With Taking Back Sunday

Last Saturday, I got a gift: a CD of Taking Back Sunday's Louder Now. It was neat surprise, much thanks to an angel from Warner Music for being kind enough to share this cool and amazing album. Same overflowing gratitude goes out to my friends at TCP for making this possible.

Cool and amazing? Well, I say that in the sense that I couldn't find myself skipping any track in the CD. That's a rare thing for me since there would be songs in my collection of CDs and digital compilations that I wouldn't like. For me, this CD holds the same distinction as that of The Corrs' Talk On Corners and Sarah McLachlan's Surfacing. Also, it's another addition to my eclectic mix of artists that I listen to.

Taking Back Sunday has been in the music scene since 1999 (where was I then? oh, getting jaded with work. =P). I may have heard a song of theirs but never associated it with them. So when I sought for an album that I'd wish to receive, I diligently studied Warner Music's artist line-up. It was then that my eyes fell on the said artist and their Louder Now album. The reviews were outstanding on every music critic page I looked at. That did it for me. Since I was having some apprehensions on the CD's availability (not knowing whether there are Taking Back Sunday followers in the Philippines), I selected another CD just in case. My second choice was Damien Rice's O since I've seen one on the shelves. I think, either of the two CDs would've have the same effect on me. However, this I like because if I needed a quick energy boost for my dreary office day, this was the "it" CD.

Currently, my most played tracks are Up Against (Blackout) and Twenty-Twenty Surgery. The album is straight-up alternative rock. However, the recording is very fluid. One song easily transitions to the other that you hardly notice that you've already moved on to another song. For me, that was also impressive.

For those who dig alternative rock, I suggest you check out this album. It was worth it for me and would buy any day. I'm just lucky I got it as a gift.


xoxo, l.p.

Fictional High Schools

In one of my entries in my other blog, I got into the bandwagon of the Writer's Block, a feature that posts daily questions aimed at eliciting some responses from the Live Journal community. This is one of the many things I'm impressed about LJ. I've answered about a couple of Writer's Block questions wherein one was quite intriguing enough for me to decide to share it to my friends here in Blogger. Hopefully, it'll inspire you to think about your own responses especially if I tag you. =)

Without further ado, I give you the featured Writer's Block question and my (erm, lengthy) response. Enjoy!


What fictional high school -- from TV, film, or a book -- would you most like to attend? Or would you rather never go near high school again, fictional or otherwise?


My high school experience was generally fine (or perhaps I was immune to/didn't care about peer pressure). I have my friends and dealt with cliques while managing to leave school unscathed except for some teensy crushes here and there. The only thing I'd rather not go back to in high school was Physics. I dreaded my teacher at that time. He's horrible on the practical side of the science. Chemistry and Biology, I enjoyed them the most. Filipino, I dreaded like hell simply because I sound like a crazy Fil-Am on helium when asked to recite a lengthy text. The only time I enjoyed it was when we ventured into Noli & El Fili. My love affair for the classics began from there since my Filipino teachers were really well-read. They often catch me in the library while I'm waiting for my service to pick me up. They were the ones who introduced me to Nancy Drew. I loved reading before but that's where it really intensified: high school.

Since I've encountered a lot of fictional schools in my reading and watching TV/movies, here are the ones I'm curious to be a part of:
  • SPENCE ACADEMY: A bit biased since I'm currently reading Book 2 of The Gemma Doyle Trilogy. However, I've attended the same co-ed school since kindergarten until I graduated in high school. I never knew the feeling of being in an exclusive school for girls and a boarding school at that. Although my parents would've loved to send me to St. Scholastica's College, they couldn't afford it then. Oh well. I did fine, right Ma? Ma?
  • HOGWART'S SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY: I'm a late-bloomed Harry Potter fan having read the series only in December 2005. But I read all six books in a span of three weeks, thanks to generous office mates who lent me their copies. My high school experience is much like Hermione's given my library time and wise-cracks during classes (but never to the point of overzealousness, if I may add). If I were to choose a house, I'd probably want to be in Ravenclaw. I love that house. On a whim, I asked to be sorted by a friend who's part of PHP. My house: Ravenclaw! How appropriate can it get? =]
  • WEST BEVERLY HILLS HIGH SCHOOL: Having watched this high school undergo through two generations of TV shows, I'm curious enough just to see the drama and the glitz of it all. If I had the same background as Navid, I'd probably be cruising through school in a yellow Porsche Turbo and still ace my classes.
  • FORKS HIGH SCHOOL: Since I did mention the yellow Porsche Turbo, I don't see any reason why I should leave out this fictional high school. If only to be the one to tell Edward through my piercing stares... You, Me, Forest, NOW!
  • CONSTANCE BILLARD SCHOOL FOR GIRLS: Think modern-day Spence Academy with tons of West Beverly Hills High School drama, only a tad more sophisticated and richer since it's in the Upper East side of Manhattan.
  • PROFESSOR XAVIER'S SCHOOL FOR THE GIFTED: I've always loved to have a mutant ability, something like that of Storm or Jean Grey. It also doesn't hurt to be under the tutelage of Professor Charles Xavier. Another yearning for a boarding school experience.
  • SWEET VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL: I feel the need not to leave this out since I was into Elizabeth, Jessica, Todd, Lila, Enid, Bruce and the rest of the gang for most of my high school. It doesn't have the same angsty drama like that of West Beverly Hills or Constance. I related a lot ot Enid until she became Alex once she attended college. I didn't do a 180 the same way she did.

This now leads me to my last answer and it holds the distinction of being the first fictional school I wished to be part of:

  • RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL: I've wanted to be part of Betty and Veronica's circle but I'll probably be in the middle class. I won't be sharing their affection for Archie although I get it. I'd probably be nurturing a secret crush on Dilton Doiley. Ahahahaha.


Wow, that was fun to share although a bit embarrassing. Thinking about what I posted, I just realized that I started to become a fan girl at an early age. I was reading Archie comics when I was in Grade 3! I sadly don't have them anymore given that I didn't know how to preserve them at the time. After learning how to do 5S and training that to my clients, purging old things became an acquired habit and it even applied to my books. I've donated about 70% of my Sweet Valley High books (which are in tip-top condition) to an office outreach program aiming to enrich a chosen public school library with some reading material. The only ones left are the diary editions. I even plant to donate my paperback copies of Books 1-6 of Harry Potter once I get my hands on the Bloomsbury Adult Hard Cover editions. If it helps to spread the love for reading, why not?

Speaking of reading, it's high time I create my account on one of the more popular online social cataloging sites in cyberspace today. For bonafide book worms like me, it's a cool thing to have. I'll blog about it soon enough once I've already created my account. Several people have already shared their praises for this site. I'm staring at my unread book stack and they're begging to be known at the expense of my own embarrassment. Lol. That's my next project and my January hauls. It's just mid-January and my hauls are... erm... at lot again.

Looking forward to your own thoughts about this post and do wait for my tag. *wink*


xoxo, l.p.

Quill Quips: A Great And Terrible Beauty

I've been looking forward to this moment. The day that I can publish my first book review. And what a start it is indeed as it'll be my review of Book 1 in The Gemma Doyle Trilogy penned by Libba Bray entitled A Great And Terrible Beauty. Before I proceed, which I'll brand as Quill Quips from this day forth (although, the quip part being an understatement of sorts. lol.), allow me to share my journey into discovering this gem of a series.

The date was January 2. I had many things to do that day: meet someone to pick up a batch of new pin orders, pay my credit card bill and buy a new portable HDD. Since most of these errands involves a mall as a meeting place, a bookstore will always be in it. Whenever I see a bookstore, I always pass through inside like a religion of sorts. I thrill at the sight of new releases on the shelf and read the synopsis at the back to see if it's a good read. Before I went home feeling accomplished at completing my tasks, I passed through Fully Booked in Gateway since that's where I often get my ride home. When I saw a paperback version of Lisa Klein's Ophelia and slightly cheaper version of Ken Follett's The Pillars Of The Earth, I didn't think twice about grabbing them even though I had quite a number of unread books on my night table. Since the line to the cashier was a bit long, I scanned through their bestseller shelf and saw a lone brown paperback with a woman dressed in a lace inner garment and corset. I've always been fascinated by period books or movies thus I grabbed it and read its synopsis at the back. The principal character was 16-year-old Gemma Doyle. Was this another young adult fiction, I thought? I dismissed it given that I liked what I read. I proceeded to the cashier and paid for my books. I got home, started to wrap the rest of my unread books using a new method and lined them up. The only one in my unread stack that wasn't recommended to me was the last book I picked out. That became my deciding factor to crack it open. I haven't turned my back since. I was hooked to say the least enough to do a man-hunt on January 5 for the rest of the books in the series which I discovered ended on December 2007. I wasn't disappointed since I got all three. And now, it's time to share it. For those who haven't read the series, this review will be slightly spoilerish so proceed at your own risk. Now, on to my review...


I'll hold on to that fragile slice of hope and keep it close, remembering that in each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We're each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real. We've got to forgive ourselves that. I must remember to forgive myself. Because there's an awful lot of gray to work with. No one can live in the light all the time.

The wind shifts, bringing with it the smell of roses, strong and sweet. Across the ravine, I see her in the dry crackle of leaves. A deer. She spies me and bolts through the trees. I run after her, not really giving chase. I'm running because I can, because I must.

Because I want to see how far I can go before I have to stop.

An excerpt from "A Great And Terrible Beauty"

Despite being categorized as Young Adult fiction, the except I just quoted above hardly sounds like it at all. The series is told through the eyes of Gemma Doyle, a 16-year old English woman. The story begins in rural India where Gemma was being dragged through the humid marketplace by her mother, Virginia, and their housekeeper, Sarita, to celebrate her 16th birthday in a family friend's house. Gemma, who has hated her existence in India, was belligerent through their march towards the train station, irritated in the manner by which her mother ignores her wishes of a simple yet fascinating life in London, a yearning brought about by her paternal grandmother's tales. Along their journey, someone breathed a name to Virginia. Circe, he said. For some strange reason, it sent Virginia into a panic and asked her Gemma to go back home instead, but not without giving her amulet to wear as protection. Upset and drenched in sweat, Gemma spat at her mother and ran as far away as she could. She didn't care where her feet would lead her. All of a sudden, she stopped dead on her tracks. She felt she was sucked into a portal where she saw, all too clearly, her mother running into an herb shop and stabbing herself to death. Gemma couldn't believe her eyes but she ran back, never caring if her feet hurt, just to have the reassurance that her mother wasn't dead, that it didn't happen. The only thing she remembered was seeing her mother's pale face and her blood drenching the edges of her gown.

This tragedy led her to return back to London and was sent to in Spence Academy, a finishing school for women in society where the objective was to produce the graceful and beautiful wives any proper Englishmen would take. Gemma was accepted into the academy, more out of charity given the death of her mother resulting from "cholera." Murder was a scandalous news for any respectable family. Cholera was the script. Gemma is roomed with Ann Bradshaw, a orphaned scholar, groomed to be a governess since that was her place in the world. She encounters the most popular and beautiful girls of the school, Felicity and Pippa, and manages to earn their scorn. She was going to be the most ostracized girl in the academy. The idea comforted her until the visions plague her at the most unfortunate times, forcing her to be more recluse, attempting to hide it from everyone else. Soon enough, with her sarcastic wit, compassionate heart and her knack for being at the right place at the right time, she eventually becomes good friends with Ann, Felicity and Pippa. The four of them shared something in common: they were all broken young women, all pained by the expectations and aspirations of their families and the society at large. They all wished for something different and Gemma allowed them to discover the realms of the Order. It was magic and the supernatural that brought them closer. However, their yearnings of a life most different have led them to discover that the realms of the Order had its dark side too. Will the four friends succumb to the draws of the realms or turn their backs on it? And what about Kartik who is a member the Rakshana, the opposing forces that saw to the closure of the realms and the destruction of the Order? Will Gemma be able to resist her feelings towards him in order to face her destiny, her path?

It's a riveting story to say the least, and quite a page-turner. A Great And Terrible Beauty is 39 chapters long but the gaps between chapters are surprisingly short; none ever exceeding 15 page leaves. It reads like a typical Victorian-era novel even though the writer is American and hasn't lived in Europe. The detail by which she describes the scenery, the characters and their journeys were just right: not too succinct, not too meticulous. And the nitpicker in me would happily praise her editor as I hardly saw or noticed, if not none, a glaring grammatical error. Two thumbs up for that and everything else!

Whenever I see "The New York Times Bestseller" label splashed on top of any novel's cover, I hardly believe it. My journey through books has always been an anti-mainstream one: never getting the first book in the series until it's too late but overcompensating for the time missed. And boy, do I regret missing this series when it first began. Never mind, I have all three books and it's gravy from there. The label is truly deserved: Libba Bray is perhaps one of the best storytellers/authors I've ever encountered in my life. After browsing her official website, it further strengthen my wish to meet her, have all my books signed, chat over coffee or beer and muse on a strategy to get into The Oprah Winfrey Show. So cheers to you Libba as I continue on my journey to the other two books in the series because like Gemma...

I want to see how far I can go

But, in this case, I will never find a reason to stop loving anything she writes. Case closed.


My verdict: 5 out of 5 quills! =]


xoxo, l.p.

Starting Another One At LiveJournal

I created an account for the sake of reading a Twilight fanfic at first. I wasn't seriously thinking of using it for any other purpose than that -- befriending people who have written good Twilight fanfics. Until a friend convinced me to have a closer look and try it out. I never regretted it although I'm still somewhat fumbling my way through.

Does this mean that I'll abandon this blog? Nope, I wouldn't. I love it here. However, my all-too cryptic style of writing (if you haven't guessed it from the way I write my entries) can pose a challenge to my composition skills. This is after all a public blog. For all intents and purposes, whatever I say here can and may be used in court... Okay, off-topic and ridiculous thought but I'm guessing you got my drift. =]

Well, for those who are not familiar with LiveJournal, the thing that I love the most is the freedom to choose who you share your post with. It can be made public (Google-worthy), limited to your LJ friends or completely kept private like a diary. Another thing that I love is that you can upload up to 15 avatars so that you have the freedom to choose one to suit your journal mood. It has the same features like any typical blogsite thus, the transition for me was easy in terms of posting entries. It's the customizations that can get tricky especially if you're used to, like me, in blogger.

For now, I've posted a couple of friend-only entries and I've shared some comments in the communities I watch. It's been fun. If you're thinking about expanding your blogging universe, I highly recommend that you try LiveJournal.


xoxo, l.p.

A Smoke-Filled But Dazzling Sky

This is the first time, for as long as I can remember, that I ushered in a wet New Year. The unending drizzle may have dampened the roads but never my spirit as I went out and gazed at the colorful skies in our neighborhood in that same child-like glee. Never mind getting soaked in the process.

I think about my life in 2008 and relieve the roller-coaster moments that happened. I resigned from a couple of jobs, I lost a dear relative, I rediscovered my passion for writing, I raved at another book and television series, I gained a new set of friends, and I found solace and renewed appreciation in the power of prayers.

I am hopeful and excited for 2009. It'll be another one for the books. So fellow bloggers and readers, raise your glasses, hug your family and friends beside you, and say hello to a new chapter in your lives filled with blessings.



xoxo, l.p.

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