Book Review: Veronika Decides To Die – Paulo Coelho

Paperback, 210 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published 1998)
ISBN13: 9780061124266

Blurb: Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything she could wish for: youth and beauty, pleny of attractive boyfriends, a fulfilling job, and a loving family. Yet something is lacking in her life. Inside her is a void so deep that nothing could possibly ever fill it. So, on the morning of November 11, 1997, Veronika decides to die. She takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up.
Naturally Veronika is stunned when she does wake up at Villete, a local mental hospital, where the staff informs her that she has, in fact, partially succeeded in achieving her goal. While the overdose didn’t kill Veronika immediately, the medication has damaged her heart so severely that she has only days to live.
The story follows Veronika through the intense week of self-discovery that ensues. To her surprise, Veronika finds herself drawn to the confinement of Villete and its patients, who, each in his or her individual way, reflect the heart of human experience. In the heightened state of life’s final moments, Veronika discovers things she has never really allowed herself to feel before: hatred, fear, curiosity, love, and sexual awakening. She finds that every second of her existence is a choice between living and dying, and at the eleventh hour emerges more open to life than ever before.

Veronika Decides to Die isn’t exactly an easy read. I had to stop reading it at some point because the first few chapters triggered my undiagnosed oudenophobia but I soldiered on because I just want to finish the damn book and it’s like a guessing game of whether Veronica would really die or not and if she really clocked out, what would be its cause aside from her apparent suicide attempt at the very beginning of the story?

Truth be told, I didn’t enjoy my second book from Coelho as much as I enjoyed The Alchemist. It reads ‘too academic’ and too outlandish in my opinion. Whilst I loved the secondary characters, their backstories and how well the author wrote it, the whole thing just felt disjointed towards the main character of the story. In short, we’ve several stories here with Veronica’s just leading the pack and closing it for the good masses.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

About the Author
The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO is considered one of the most influential authors of our times. His books have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages.

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Book Review: The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

Published May 1st 1993 by HarperCollins (first published 1988)
Paperback, 197 pages
Original Title : O Alquimista
ISBN13: 9780061122415

Blurb: Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.

So, I’ve finally picked this up after procrastinating for years and it was also my very first read of the year. I’ve heard of the author since I was in high school (that was in the late 90’s) but never had the time to read any of his works for some reason or I didn’t actually try to pursue them. I’ve read some passages from his books over the years and I’ve read the last chapter of By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by accident but never fully read it. So at the dawn of the new year, I decided that it’s time for me to immerse myself to the works of Coehlo and for a first read, I find The Alchemist just about the perfect introduction to his works.

I did not expect to enjoy the book as much as I did. I was able to finish it in just a few hours and I was in deep contemplation right after. I loved the narrative of the story from the beginning to the end. I find it inspiring and insightful at the same time. I also find it a bit emotional in terms of the humanity of Santiago through his encounter with the king, the thief, the glass shop owner, the alchemist and him trying to get a firm grasp to what he’s been looking for all his life.

Though I find it preachy at some point, I still find myself enamored by the story. I was rooting for Santiago and his search for his damn treasure. I was rooting for him when he discovered love and I was rooting for him when he felt the fulfilment of his destiny. I’m on a fence about destiny and all of those things but I’m such a sucker for a happy ending.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

About the Author
The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO is considered one of the most influential authors of our times. His books have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages.

ICYMI: Karen Gallman of The Philippines Wins Miss Intercontinental 2018/2019!

Congratulations are in order for The Philippines‘ very first Miss Intercontinental crown courtesy of the very beautiful Karen Juanita Gallman!

She was adjudged the fairest amongst the 80 delegates around the world who competed for the title at the Mall of Asia Arena in the Philippines last January 26 of this year.

Karen is the last Binibining Pilipinas 2018 Queen to compete internationally and the second to win the title too after Catriona Gray bagged the Miss Universe title last year in Bangkok.

Her Intercontinental court are:
Adriana Moya – Costa Rica, 1st Runner-up
Laura Longauerová – Slovak Republic, 2nd Runner-up
Hillary Hollman del Prado – Colombia, 3rd Runner-up
Ngân Anh Lê Âu – Vietnam, 4th Runner-up
Bella Lire Lapso – Ethiopia, 5th Runner-up

Congratulations Karen, Mabuhay ka!

My First Book Depository Experience! (2019) – Free Book Delivery to the Philippines

I’ve been hearing a lot about Book Depository from friends (especially from Goodreads friends) for a few years now but I’ve never tried ordering from them. I loved books! I’ve reviewed a lot of ’em here and I loved reading ‘printed’ books with their smell, their feel in my hands – either old, second hand or brand new. There are not a lot of book stores in the Philippines so there are some titles that you really need to order / buy overseas.

Book Depository (previously The Book Depository) is a UK-based online book seller with a large catalogue offered with free shipping to over 160 countries. The store was founded by a former Amazon employee. In 2011 it was acquired by Amazon. (s)

The shipping fee is my biggest concern whenever I order online. It is because the post office here does not have standard guidelines when claiming packages (Actually they do but they don’t seem to follow it). There are horror stories that I’ve read about the post office peeps asking people to pay more or has the same price of the time that they are about to claim. What kind of BS is that, yeah?

And from my most recent experience (April 2018) when I won a book from an author in the US and had to pay PHP250 for me to claim a USD14.00 book. I asked what is it for and the guy from the post office told me that it was for custom duty. Ooookay… Nakakaloka talaga!

Anyway, Book Depository promises to deliver the books in your doorstep free so last Monday after some more procrastination, I finally decided to try ordering from the site. I ordered a couple of books just to try their service first.

First you have to create a Book Depository account through their website (obviously haha!) https://www.bookdepository.com and search the book you wanted to buy or you could simply browse their catalogue.

I ordered the movie tie-in edition of Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman and the first book of the THIRDS series Hell & High Water by Charlie Cochet last January 21, 2019 and you can see on the image below that they were dispatched at different dates. I actually emailed their support team about this and they said it is to avoid delay as they would need to get some books from separate warehouses or suppliers.

For now, it’s a waiting game for me and I wanted to see how true is their door to door delivery or if I will fall again to the hands of our ‘very dear’ local post office staff.

Update: February 6, 2019

After coming from our long holiday weekend, I found this on top my work desk. It looks like it was received by the local post office (Pasig) last Friday, January 1 and was delivered directly to my office address. Call Me By Your Name was the first book in my order that was initialy dispatched! It was well-packaged and totally brand new!

Upon checking the status of said order online, it was still under ‘Dispatched’ so I guess, there is no way for Book Depository to determine if the buyers have already received their books.

Now, I just have to wait for the other book I’ve ordered, Hell & High Water which was dispatched a day later after the first one.

Update: February 9, 2019

I’ve received my other order today and the stamp indicated that it was received by the Philippine Post Office in Pasay last February 5, 2019 (? – My address is in Ortigas Pasig).

The delivery time from when I clicked checked out on the website was about 18 calendar days – not bad at all! I am very impressed!

Complete List of Nominees for Oscars 2019

Best Picture
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“Roma”
“A Star Is Born”
“Vice”

Best Director
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Adam McKay, “Vice”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”

Best Actor
Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Best Actress
Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, “Vice
Marina de Tavira, “Roma”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” (Joel Coen , Ethan Coen)
“BlacKkKlansman” (Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee)
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty)
“If Beale Street Could Talk” (Barry Jenkins)
“A Star Is Born” (Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters)

Best Original Screenplay
“The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader
“Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“Vice,” Adam McKay

Best Foreign Language Film
Capernaum (Lebanon)
Cold War (Poland)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Roma (Mexico)
Shoplifters (Japan)

Best Production Design
Black Panther
The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns
Roma

Best Costume Design
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
“Black Panther”
“The Favourite”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
“Mary Queen of Scots”

Best Make Up & Hairstyling
Border
Mary Queen of Scots
Vice

Best Cinematography
Cold War
The Favourite
Never Look Away
Roma
A Star is Born

Best Sound Editing
“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“First Man”
“A Quiet Place”
“Roma”

Best Visual Effects
Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story

Best Sound Mixing
“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“First Man”
“Roma”
“A Star Is Born”

Best Original Score
“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Mary Poppins Returns”

Best Animated Short
“Animal Behavior”
“Bao”
“Late Afternoon”
“One Small Step”
“Weekends”

Best Animated Feature
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Original Song
All The Stars
I’ll Fight
The Place Where Lost Things Go
Shallow
When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings

Best Live Action Short
“Detainment”
“Fauve”
“Marguerite”
“Mother”
“Skin”

Best Film Editing
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“Vice”

My 2019 Oscar Nominations Predictions!

It’s that time of the year again people, the Oscar season is officially on as the nominees for the 91st Academy Awards are set be announced tomorrow! So without further ado, let me to tell you about my predictions for this year’s Oscars nominees!

Best Picture
1. Roma
2. A Star is Born
3. If Beale Street Could Talk
4. Green Book
5. The Favourite
6. BlacKkKlansman
7. Black Panther
8. Vice
9. Bohemian Rhapsody

I would’ve picked only 7 films for this category but I added Vice and Bohemian Rhapsody. The latter is due to the fact that it went on to become the highest-grossing musical biographical film of all-time and with Rami Malek racking up six Best Actor awards as of press time. Vice on the hand is one of the critics’ favorites from last year despite tanking at the box office.

Best Director
1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
2. Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
3. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
4. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
5. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

This is an easy pick for me but I put Heller’s name into the mix because I feel like she deserved some sort of recognition for her work along with Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant.

Best Actor
1. Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
2. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
3. Christian Bale, Vice
4. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
5. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

This looks like a pretty solid line-up for me but if there’s someone who could usurp Ethan Hawke spot, it would be Luca Hedges for Boy Erased.

Best Actress
1. Glenn Close, The Wife
2. Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite
4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
5. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns

My rank 1-4 are pretty much locked for this category. At first, I picked First Man’s Claire Foy but Emily Blunt’s name last year made some serious buzz so she may just complete the 5th spot. Viola Davis could also pose some serious mixed-up for this race but for now, I thought it’s just pure hype. I also didn’t include Yalitza Aparicio because I feel that she came in late in the competition.

Best Supporting Actor
1. Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
2. Mahershala Ali, Green Book
3. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
4. Sam Elliott, A Star is Born
5. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

This is pretty much my top 5 for the Supporting Actor category.

Best Supporting Actress
1. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
2. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
3. Emma Stone, The Favourite
4. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots
5. Amy Adams – Vice

This category is a bit tricky because The Favourite’s stars Emma and Rachel are both in my list which I thought are rightfully deserved spot for them but I feel that only one of them will get the nod and I’m leaning towards Rachel Weisz.

Best Animated Feature
1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
2. Incredibles 2
3. The Grinch
4. Ralph Breaks the Internet
5. Isle of Dogs

I feel that Isle of Dogs has a much stronger campaign than Mirai so there ya go.

Best Film Editing
1. Roma
2. BlacKkKlansman
3. Black Panther
4. Vice
5. Green Book

This was an easy-peasy category for me – another solid top 5.

Best Visual Effects
1. Black Panther
2. Mary Poppins Returns
3. Solo: A Star Wars Story
4. Ready Player One
5. First Man

Best Original Song
1. Shallow, A Star is Born
2. Revelation, Boy Erased
3. The Place Where Lost Things Go, Mary Poppins Returns
4. I’ll Fight, RBG
5. All The Stars, Black Panther

This is just between Shallow and I’ll Fight to be honest.

I won’t be posting the rest of the categories as this was the same predictions I’ve submitted at 8th Pinoy Exhange Guess The Oscar Nominees Game!

ICYMI: Catriona Gray on the cover of PeopleAsia Magazine – January 2019

You can now buy your own copy of Catriona Gray’s first printed magazine cover as Miss Universe through PeopleAsia’s Special Collector’s Issue this month.

The inside stories will include her preparation for the pageant, her thoughts and analysis on why she won and PeopleAsia’s front-view observation during the coronation night!

This collector’s issue will also feature Catriona’s long-time collaborator – the Kapampangan designer Mak Tumang and our three previous Misses Universe – Pia Wurtzbach (2015), Margie Moran (1973) and Gloria Diaz (1969).

Book Review: Paradise Lodge – Riina Y.T.

Published December 3rd 2018 by NineStar Press
Genres and Theme: LGBTQI+ Romance, Music, Friendship, Holiday
ISBN13: 9781949909524
Characters: Azariah Bell, Ky O’Sullivan

Blurb: Azariah Bell is a nervous wreck. He isn’t prepared to spend the final week of the year with his best friend, Ky O’Sullivan, lead vocalist for their pop rock band, Moving Insignia—especially after the fight he caused before they parted ways two weeks ago.

Afraid of not being taken seriously by Ky, Azariah was concerned about what confessing his feelings would do to their friendship, or the band. He tried to keep his emotions in check, but instead, he exploded in anger over some petty issue, and now he’s potentially lost Ky forever.

Ky is looking forward to the band’s annual writing retreat for a week of songwriting and recording at a secluded mountain resort. Spending Christmas with his family gave Ky time to reflect on how he’d handled Azariah’s epic meltdown. It wasn’t good, and Ky is determined to uncover the true nature of Azariah’s unusual behavior. They didn’t keep secrets from each other, or so he believed.

Expecting to see the rest of the band when they arrive by helicopter, Ky and Azariah are shocked to learn they are alone at a deserted lodge. When they discover they’ve been set up by their bandmates so they can “sort it out,” their choices are few. But it’s critical for them to resolve their problems if they have any hope of enjoying the new year together, let alone make that new album happen.

I’m such a sucker for cute and angsty love story so it’s no wonder that I’d enjoy this one! I absolutely adore Ky and Azariah and I loved how they’re so oblivious with each other’s feelings, it was just so cute! I enjoyed their lovely backstory of becoming bffs right away and how their bandmates are all so supportive! The band actually reminds me of the wonderful guys in MJ O’Shea’s Catch My Breath.

Ky and Azariah’s personality are also something that I enjoyed here. Especially Ky – I just loved his ‘broody’ vibes! It was also cute how they have their akward internal monologues! And their sexy times!!! Whoot Hoot!!! I just loved it! I loved the transition in their relationship of being the best of friends to becoming lovers like nothing has changed since they’ve love each other for so long.

If you’re looking for a cute read, then this one short read you’d definitely enjoy!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

About The Author
Riina currently resides in Germany. She spent countless exciting days in the UK and US and lost her heart in Tokyo.
She would be thrilled if one day her stories could brighten someone’s day in the way those beautiful romances always lighten up her dull everyday life. Riina is looking forward to sharing many more stories with the world.
When she doesn’t daydream about boys in love, and isn’t glued to her Kindle, Riina loves to travel the world and explore the unknown.
Website: http://www.riinayt.wordpress.com

 

‘Alab at Dangal’ Patriotic Earcuff by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray!

It was the most beautiful day in the Universe yesterday as another Filipina was yet again proclaimed the queen of the Universe 💕🇵🇭

Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray was able to clinched the 67th Miss Universe title and the fourth crown for the Philippines besting 93 delegates across the globe.

All throughout her journey, Catriona have shown to the world the beauty of the Philippines most especially its indigenous fabrics and patriotic designs through her OOTDs! One of the most talked-about piece since her Binibining Pilipinas days was her Three Stars and the Sun earcuff and our newly crowned Miss Univese together with Tessera Jewelry just elevated the patriotic earcuff and added a pair of golden south sea pearls studded with diamonds and rubies! Wow! How’s that for a queen?!

Truly, we stan an artistic queen and I cannot wait until these accessories becomes available to the public!

For Inquiries:

WhatsApp/Viber/SMS: +639171793352 or e-mail them at sales-tessera@gmail.com

Or follow them on Instagram and Facebook at @jesserajewelry!

Mabuhay ka Catriona! 🇵🇭👑

Miss Universe® 2018 : Meet the Preliminary and Final Telecast Judges!

The Miss Universe Organization just announced today the name of the all-female commitee who will determine the successor of Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters as the next Miss Universe. Both preliminary and final telecast will be judged by the same panel. They are:

Bui Simon/gettyimages

Porntip “Bui” Simon
Miss Universe 1988 from Thailand, founder of Angel Wings Foundation, which addresses the needs of Thailand’s young and vulnerable citizens with increased educational opportunities

Monique Lhuillier/gettyimages

Monique Lhuillier
World renowned bridal and fashion designer with creations worn by celebrated women including first ladies of the United States for more than two decades; member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America

Janaye Ingram/nydailynews

Janaye Ingram
Corporate executive, political grassroots organizer and founder of Women’s March, Inc.; 2017 Glamour Magazine Women of the Year along with her fellow Women’s March organizers; Miss New Jersey USA 2004
Michelle McLean: Returning to Bangkok, where she was crowned Miss Universe 1992 from Namibia, internationally recognized model and television presenter; Chairperson of the Michelle McLean Children Trust and Founding partner of the Business of Beauty

Iman Oubou/outremersbeyou.com

Iman Oubou
Moroccan-American entrepreneur, former pageant titleholder and founder of women’s digital platform SWAAY MEDIA; published scientist recently named as one of CIO Magazine’s 2018 “Female Entrepreneur’s to Watch” and awarded the first ever “Visage Du Maroc” of 2018, a new initiative uplifting female voices in Morocco and across the Middle East

Lili Gil Valletta/bizjournals.com

Lili Gil Valletta
Award-winning entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of CulturIntel and CIEN+, TV business commentator and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader; O.S. Hispanic Businessperson of the Year; and 2018 Women of Excellence Award recipient, among others

Richelle Singson-Michael/LinkedIn

Richelle Singson-Michael
CEO of Platinum Skies Aviation and FinTech Casha.me; pioneering architect and Vice Chairwoman of the LCS Group of Companies, which led and oversaw the successful hosting of the 65th MISS UNIVERSE® in the Philippines