Book Review

Book Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple


I can pinpoint that as the single happiest moment of my life, because I realized then that Mom would always have my back. It made me feel giant. I raced back down the concrete ramp, faster than I ever had before, so fast I should have fallen, but I didn’t fall, because Mom was in the world.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is a comedy novel written by American novelist and screenwriter, Maria Semple. Published in 2012, the book revolves around the life of a 15 year-old girl named Bee, and how her mother, Bernadette went missing just days before a family trip she meticulously planned herself.

Bee was promised any reward she wants from her parents if she can ace all her subjects at school which she effortlessly did and earned her a family trip to Antarctica. Just days before their most awaited trip, her Mom went missing that devastated her. Months after her Mom’s disappearance, she received a special package from an anonymous sender that could lead her to where her mother is. Bee elaborately studied the contents of the package she received and eventually found her mother.

This novel appealed to me in a way that I love stories about parent-daughter relationships because I get emotional that way. I love my parents and I love reading other people’s (fiction and real) stories about their parents. In Bee’s case, her mother is not your ordinary housewife slash full-time mom. She was a renowned architect before she became a mom and she values her art and career so much that she finds it hard to make that transition from focusing her energy to her work solely to being a full-time mom to Bee.

I relate to her in a way that I feel that women should not be caged in this category that when you get married and have kids, you’ll stop identifying yourself other than a wife or a mom. I believe that women should still do the things they find joy at, even if it is not related to anything about being a mum.

I’d rate this a book a 3 out of 5 stars for its wit and fast story-telling. I loved the character Bernadette because she is a crazy and loving mother all at the same time. I was entertained at her adventures and misadventures and I thought this could be a good idea for a movie or TV adaptation.


Cebu-tiful Cebu!

We were taught during grade school that our country -The Philippines is comprised of 7,107 islands. While there are new researches claiming on the other hand that our country’s islands are all in all 7,641 total, the numbers are still impressive (be it 7107 or 7641).

This summer, we explored a few of these 7000+ islands located mainly in the central part of the country – Cebu and Bohol. Let me share with you what we saw, did and experience.


We arrived in Cebu via Cebu Pacific flight from Clark in the wee hours (3am!) on a Friday. Good thing the driver that was supposed to guide us around Cebu is punctual enough and so our travel to Moalboal started early. We reached Kawasan at around 8am and from where we parked, we had to walked up to the falls itself.


The falls is just breathtaking with its bluest of blue pool of water. Though the shallow part of the area was crowded by tourists and visiting locals, I still consider it a must-see when in Cebu.


Right above this main (falls) attraction, people are allowed to hike and up there, falls are scattered in various areas with just as breathtaking as this one.


I’m stunned at how clear and blue (think I’ve said it more than three times!) the water is. Every falls is just so picturesque and I know my photos are not pro, but to hell with that! This is perfect for those looking for a nature adventure/explorations.


After Kawasan Falls, we went to Moalboal Beach Resort and there, we were greeted with a swarming group of tourists and beach goers bathing in the heat of the sun. It was difficult to find a nice enough spot but we eventually found one near the beach.

And once settled, we did this! Sorry for flooding!


Well this is me, hungry for some vitamin sea (as youngsters would put it), sleep-deprived and haven’t bathed for the last 20 hours. Ha! What a win-sin situation for me!


After Moalboal, we asked Kuya Driver to send us to our hostel so we can get all the zzzz and rest we need.

NOTE: We went on a Good Friday on our first day so most beaches and tourist attractions are closed on that day.


On our second day in Cebu, we dedicated our whole day in exploring the city and its various tourist attractions.

We first went to Sirao Flower Garden that’s located on a mountainous side of Cebu.


Tops Lookout is a popular observation spot overlooking the view of Cebu City. Dining is allowed and is probably recommended at night, but during day time, there is not much to do. Just these cave-like shaped sheds and “lookout” deck  itself.


Temple of Leah is dubbed the local version of Taj Mahal of Cebu City. It’s a shrine dedicated to Leah Albino-Adarna that holds memories about her and treasures.


This is how crowded it could get when you reach the statue of Leah herself. Selfies and groupies are everywhere.



We also pass by The Heritage of Cebu Monument which shows significant milestones in the history of Cebu  from the time of Rajah Humabon to the recent beatification of the Cebuano martyr, Pedro Calungsod. It really is just a monument where tourist are allowed to enter for free, get a glimpsed of it, take a photo and go.


This right here is one of the few decent snaps I got of the Basilica Menor del Santo Niño de Cebu.  I tend to mellow down a bit on my tourist mode when I’m around churches.


Just outside the Basilica is the famed Magellan’s Cross which again, was swarmed by dozens of tourists.


10,000 Roses Cafe boasts literally ten thousands of artificial LED roses that are scattered around the cafe. It is best visited during night time to better view the magnificence of a ten thousand LED lighted roses.


We only had two days of touring Cebu and though there were islands and beaches that we weren’t able to visit, I can say that our trip is still worthwhile and unforgettable. I loved Cebu and the Cebuanos for their discipline on conserving natural resources like their beaches and waterfalls. One thing though, that I wished we explored more was the food and delicacies that this place is famous for. Well, I can always do it the next time I visit Cebu, right?! See you soon, Cebu! ❤

Book Review

Book Review: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood


After everything that’s happened, how can the world still be so beautiful? Because it is.

Oryx and Crake is a novel written by Canadian author Magaret Atwood first published in 2003. It’s a futuristic novel and one which was described by Atwood as a “speculative fiction”. Set in a post-apocalyptic, unnamed location, this story circles around the life of the protagonist Jimmy and how an epidemic swiped all human race.

It’s a rather long read and the storytelling goes back and forth to the past and present. The present is the post-apocalyptic world that Jimmy lives in with mutated, human-like creatures that he likes to call “Crakers”. In this life, Jimmy is called Snowman. The past is the life he led from his childhood up to the time when the epidemic started -back when everything was normal for Jimmy.

His past is our future for his past life is all surrounded by innovation, scientific discoveries and human integration. His father was a scientist who developed pigoons – pigs implanted with human stem cells to grow certain organs that can be profited from. During his adolescent years, he met Crake whom he’s had high regard for and have easily become his only closest friend. Just like any other teen-aged boys, Jimmy & Crake have discovered porn and in those discreet moments they shared watching these films did he first catch a glimpse of Oryx in a child pornography film. It would be years later before they actually meet in person but Oryx’s face was imprinted in Jimmy’s mind since that first sighting.

After finishing both their studies, Jimmy and Crake went on with their separate lives and career. Crake being the more intellectual one go on and achieved greater heights in the science and technology field, while Jimmy was left living a mediocre life. They would later work in the same company (where Crake was a big shot) and there, Jimmy will meet Oryx for the first time in person. In this company, Crake created a wonder drug called BlyssPluss which promotes health and happiness, it basically makes life easier. The pill was internationally released and was very much wanted by most nations of the world. Little did they know that this same pill will create the epidemic that will wipe human race and cause massive chaos in the world.

I love Margaret Atwood for her vision of the future depicted in this novel. I like that this book can be witty one second and emotional the next. I love that in spite of the theme of the book being all about the future and latest innovations, she still managed to appeal to our hearts and emotions with Jimmy and Oryx’s love story. I loved how characters were introduced in the story and how they evolved individually. I’d rate this a 3 out of 5 stars for it could get a bit boring especially on those parts where innovation/inventions is the main focal of the plot. They said this is a love story but I did not feel like it was, as a large percentage of it is just about scientific discoveries and human advancements. That being said, Atwood could have focused more on the story of Jimmy and Oryx to balance the theme.

Book Review

Book Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira


You think you know someone, but that person always changes, and you keep changing, too. I understood it suddenly, how that’s what being alive means. Our own invisible plates shifting inside of our bodies, beginning to align into the people we are going to become.

Love Letters to the Dead is the debut novel of American author Ava Dellaira published in 2014. A young adult novel that circles around the life of Laurel, a teen-aged girl who have recently lost her sister to an accident. Set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the book was written through the various letters Laurel has written to famous dead people.

Laurel is a fifteen-year-old girl bound to start her new life at a new high school in her town. Her English teacher asked their class to write a letter to a dead person and that is basically how this novel started out. Through these written letters, the story of how Laurel’s sister died and how she’s finding it difficult to deal with this loss was unraveled. The book was generally about a girl’s emotions towards losing someone important in her life and how she continue to live it after the loss.

I liked how Laurel’s character was introduced and how from every chapter, her life and personality have materialized from her written letters to the dead. Much to my disappointment, I did not enjoy this book in general . I’ve always loved reading YA novels but this one did not quite hit the spot for me. It was like reading the journal of 15-year-old emotional girl and I felt that there is nothing exciting about her story.

I’d rate this 1 out of 5 stars for the lack of depth in the story and character involvement. It was like Laurel (and her dead sister) were the only focal point/s in the story and the tone was always bleak and sad. The author could have written more events that could have shown strength in the characters and the message of the book.

Book Review

Book Review: Fear of Flying by Erica Jong


There’s nothing good about being ordinary. People don’t respect you for it. People run after people who are different, who have confidence in their own taste, who don’t run with the herd. There is nothing gained by giving in to the pressures of group vulgarity.

Fear of Flying is a 1973 novel by American poet and novelist, Erica Jong. Set in Europe, the book was written in the first person narrative through the voice of the protagonist, Isadora Wing. It tells mainly her story and how she struggles to find her place in a world where a woman’s place was already pre-determined by most of what people think is and should be.

Isadora and her husband flew to Vienna to attend an event for psychoanalysts and there she met Adrian, an Englishman she found herself so attracted with. Adrian felt the same attraction and offered Isadora to run away and live a “care-free” life with him, one that sounded appealing to her. After hesitating between choosing to stay with his husband or to elope with Adrian, she chose the latter and together, they travel all over Europe.

More than the infidelity depicted in the novel, the heart of it all is Isadora and how she grew up to be this woman who find it hard to put a definition to love, or to life in general. She felt trapped in a marriage that for her, had lost its glory. She felt like people around her (family & friends) have been dictating her all her life. She felt like she is not living her life to the fullest.

It tells how Isadora finds it offending to go with the flow and be ordinary just like everyone else. Though there is nothing wrong with being ordinary, she believes that there is a far more greater purpose in life for her than to just simply get married, be a housewife and a mother eventually. She didn’t share that same domestic sentiment as with the majority of the female population (at that time) felt.

I loved how Erica Jong have bravely talked about these things that a typical woman is too scared to even think about. I loved how she values the individuality of Isadora and made an adventure with her struggle to find and embrace it wholeheartedly. I loved how she showed Isadora’s stubbornness and insistence to be known as her own person and not as somebody’s wife or somebody’s daughter. I loved how she openly talked about the realities of a married life and how people get through all these hurdles.

I loved this book for the message it conveyed to its women readers that it’s OK to want more and give more to yourself. I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars rating for I thought that the plot and characters were elaborately written. It easily became one of my favorite books of all time.


A load of Hong Kong!

I’ve read somewhere in the internet that once a year, you should go somewhere you haven’t been to. Well, it sure does sound like a plan, and with all the stress from work and our daily lives, why not indeed go somewhere you haven’t been and unwind or just simply wander. September this year, my boyfriend and I went on a quick holiday trip to one of the most populated countries, (one of the liveliest too!) in the world – Hong Kong!

We only had 4 days total including our flights to and from Singapore to explore Hong Kong. That was actually the challenge here! Ha! Our flight from SG is at 10 in the morning on a Saturday, arriving around 2pm at HKG. Upon arrival, we had a quick late lunch and head on to Hong Kong Disneyland for some photo op with the famous Disneyland arch (?). Whatever, the welcome arch thingy you see on their parks, that’s it!


We didn’t go inside the park because 1.) it’s expensive (not practical!) 2.) we didn’t have much time 3.) we’ve been on a Disneyland Park and we weren’t THAT impressed seeing it’s generally for kids! And so, after Disneyland, we went to find our Airbnb place located at Mong Kok.


On our second day, we went to Won Tai Sin Temple, Chi Lin Nunnery, Hing Fat Flower Market and Yuen Po Street Bird Market. Our place is located near an MTR station so transportation was not a problem on our part.

This was in Won Tai Sin Temple, it’s quite crowded the day we went there. Mostly Chinese tourists (maybe even locals) are everywhere praying, taking photos and just about doing any tourist-y things they do for fun.


This was in Chi Lin Nunnery, a very quiet Buddhist temple complex in Kowloon. Selfie sticks are not allowed in this place, and being the “basic tourist” in me, it definitely bummed me out. But hey, what did your Mother ever tell you about R-E-S-P-E-C-T, right?! So, it’s all good!


After Chi Lin Nunnery we went to have our lunch in a more urban area in Kowloon. Hong Kong is famous for its Beef Brisket dishes -you can choose between Beef Brisket Noodles or Rice meal. It’s actually one of the many things I will never forget about HK, its tender, tasty beef brisket.


After we had our lunch, we went to Hing Fat Flower Market which is just a walking distance from the place where we had our lunch. I personally liked this area because every way you turn, you will see flowers everywhere! They sell different kinds of flowers and potted plants too.


These are my favorites (photo below) but I didn’t know what they’re called. :/ Can someone please tell me what they’re called?


We only have two days (in essence) to go around Hong Kong and savor what the country has to offer. We felt we had to hit as many birds as possible in one stone (I mean day!) and yes, it’s my segue to the next place we went to on our 2nd day – Yuen Po Street Bird Market! Tweet!

I didn’t know that people in Hong Kong likes birds this much! In this place, they sell quite a few variety of breeds of birds, bird cages (photo below), bird foods and all sorts of stuffs essential to birds.



At night, we went to one of the famous night markets in Mong Kok and found out what the hype is all about!


There were a lot of colorful neon signs of all shapes and sizes and that makes the area more lively! Also, there were street performers on various areas that ranges from singers (mostly), to dancers and acrobats like the one shown in the below photo.


Food is mainly the thing that I will always remember of Hong Kong. In night markets, you will always find a food stall selling street foods that are mainly pork intestines, pork liver as well as the usual meatballs, siew mai on sticks and the likes.


On our 3rd and considered last day of exploring, we went to the Peak and sailed on the famed Aqua Luna at night.

As I’ve emphasized earlier on, I love anything food-related in Hong Kong. Also, I love breakfasts and breakfast food! One thing I’ve read online that we should not miss when in HK is their traditional breakfast meal that consists of a hot coffee or milk tea (MY PERSONAL FAVE IN THE WORLD!), macaroni noodles with strips of ham, a slice of pork or sausage and a toast. The combination could vary, but for me, the hot milk tea is always a must!


So, moving on. After breakfast, we went to the Lower Peak Tram Terminus to ride the famous Peak Tram that would take us to the Victoria Peak. The tram looked like this and the ride took us about 10 minutes (I guess?!) before we reached the Peak.


This is the Victoria Peak. From this vantage point, you will see the famed skyscrapers of Hong Kong as well as the Victoria Harbor. It will also give you the opportunity to see the mountainous side of Hong Kong .


To end our quick yet sweet escape to Hong Kong, we took an hour ride on this vintage-looking junk boat that sails from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central and back.


The package we bought online included a complimentary drinks per person. Nothing beats the view of Victoria Harbor and the sun setting behind. Plus, you’re holding a cold beer in one hand and your beau’s in the other. What more can you ask for?


To sum up our Hong Kong adventure I’d say that four days is not enough as there are more other things and places we could’ve visited. Also, it’s important that you consider the season you are going to in Hong Kong as it could get too hot and humid on some months (September included!). It’s better to go in mid-December to February as those are considered winter season. In terms of food, you could never go wrong as they offer a wide variety of choices from street foods to fine dining. Transportation is workable and easy to navigate, so it’s an easy peasy on that aspect.

In general, I loved Hong Kong for its noise and lively ambiance found in its modern city and street life. If given a chance, I’d definitely come back to this captivating place!

Book Review

Book Review: The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz


Who knows, perhaps the will to please leads people to crime as often as evil or greed does. People want to fit in and do well, and they do indescribably stupid things because of it.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web is the fourth installment in the Millenium Series written by Swedish journalist and writer, David Lagercrantz. Set in Sweden, this action-packed book is a continuation of the crime-solving adventures of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.

The book introduced a renowned Swedish scientist named Frans Balder who have invented an A.I. that could make remarkable breakthrough in the field of science and technology. Seeing how promising this invention is, a certain underground group went after him that led him to his untimely death. Hours before he was murdered, he called Blomkvist with the intent of disclosing useful information he knows and about his invention. As Blomkvist got more and more involved with the investigation, he got in touch with Salander and together, they were to unravel other more disturbing truths behind the murder of Balder.

It’s quite a lengthy read to begin with, but with Lagercrantz writing, I was able to finish this book without getting bored. Though there were a few objection about the publication of this book, I could say it has given enough justice for Lisbeth’s comeback in the literary scene. Having read the trilogy (The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) I can personally say that Larsson’s (author of the first three books) and Lagercrantz’s writing are of the same tone. The characters from the trilogy were able to maintain their significance in the story and in the lives of Blomkvist and Salander. Also, the plot was presented in an engaging way.

I’d rate it a 3 out of 5 stars because although I liked the book (the plot and everything was A-OK), I just felt that instead of re-living the story of the girl with the dragon tattoo, they could have introduced a new heroine and let Salander’s mystery be preserved with Larsson’s passing. I thought we could at least give it to Larsson to rest in peace and know that he owns the rights to Salander solely. But then again, this is just me. What do I know, right?!