Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Bookstore Story

Books are always part of my shopaholic and impulsive purchases. They are one of the reasons why I always end up broke but happy. :-) A month's payday will never be enough without purchasing a new read. The situation was way different back when I was just starting to earn. I would patiently wait to finish a book before my next trip to the bookstore. But today, every month would always mean going to my favorite bookstores.

The bookstore for me is more than a place to purchase books. It's my personal haven after a long day at work.  While other people find their relaxation in spa and other wellness centers, bookstores serve as my comfort and happy place. Even during my college years, bookstores form one of my favorite places in the world. Although at that time, I first see bookstores as a place to purchase my school supplies and those hard to find textbooks.

Back in my college years, my recurring problem was finding the bookstore that housed the textbook prescribed by my professor. I would hop from one bookstore to another, spending so much time, money and effort. I start from the small scale bookshops in Manila and visit every branch of that huge bookstore chain we all grew up with.

It would usually take me days to weeks to find the book. Worst comes to worst, I never acquire a copy of the book. In the end, I would just settle with the illegal photocopied version. I know that reproducing a book meant violating the author and publisher. But I don't have a choice, even if I can pay for the book. I can't move mountains and force the huge bookstore chain to order my book. Actually, I tried it once to that famous bookstore chain. However, to my biggest surprise, the bookstore giant is charging the struggling student in me an additional order fee. I was almost willing to pay for the charges not until I discovered that it costs almost half of the book's price.
Today, my classic bookstore dilemma for that hard to find book is over. Someone out there was intelligent and caring enough to handle this problem. This is why I love Fully Booked.

I admit that I was initially reluctant to enter the modern and sophisticated layout of Fully Booked. I was also warned that prices of their books are a bit expensive. However, I believe this only holds true for some books, not to all!  Fully Booked introduced me to the concept of book reservation and request FOR FREE. You want to purchase a book out of their shelves? They can purchase it for you. When your requested book finally arrived, you will receive a personal message to pick up that much needed book in your preferred branch.

The book reservation arrangement is implemented by Fully Booked and its rival segment bookstore. However, I'm speaking within the realms of my experience, Fully Booked implemented better service in this area. I remember making a reservation to that rival bookstore. They assured me that they will soon have stocks of my requested book. However, despite leaving my contact information, I never received any notice from them. To my biggest surprise, I visited one of their branches only to find that they have plenty of copies of my requested book. Fortunately, this never ever happened to me in Fully Booked. The living proof to Fully Booked's service efficiency are the following

I got all of these books through their responsive reservation process. Aside from their truthful book reservation function, Fully Booked also has the nicest employees. They never fail to hand me their reservation sheet whenever my preferred book is not available. In my countless times of making reservations, they never fail to respond with a positive result. How I wish that me and my classmates in college have known this premium service. Life could have been so much easier.

Aside from book reservation, I remember another great customer encounter with their staff. The book I intend to purchase was still in their boxes. To my biggest surprise, one staff pulled out the box and handed me a fresh copy of Emily Giffin's Love the One You're With. To my mind, I kept saying WOW! My bookstore experience has been taken to the next level of customer satisfaction.

In case you don't have the time to visit their branches, I believe Fully Booked accepts reservation via Facebook. My own experience will again serve as living evidence

To the staff of Fully Booked who has always been assisting me in my book requests, thank you very much! You definitely improved and innovated my bookstore experience. While people keep saying to me that your books are a bit overpriced, I wouldn't mind paying a little extra for all the assistance you have rendered to me.

P.S. This is NOT a sponsored post. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A kid taught me a lesson

Sundays for me would always mean having that long afternoon naps. After having lunch with my family, I lounge in bed for a great read or switch channels in search for a great movie. When those yawns start to attack me, I give up and ended up zzzzzz Never mind if the TV is turned on and I'm wasting electricity. Ironically, despite falling to a deep sleep, I'm awakened when someone attempts to turn off my useless TV. LOL

This afternoon, I almost thought that I would be wasting my time with my favorite lazy hobby. Surprisingly, I was wide awake the entire afternoon because I found myself hooked with a great movie.

Who among you have watched this film?
Source here

I love movies that feature kids. Starting with The Little Rascals to the Toy Story series. These kinds of movies never fail to attract me. So when I saw the cute Abigail Bresin, I got hooked over the movie and decided to forgo my afternoon nap.

The movie was set in the early 1930s when the US economy was plagued by the Great Depression. This was very familiar to me because this issue was always a topic in my major subjects in Economics. Though back then, the focal point of our discussions was learning the different ways on how the government handled the problem. To see the economic downturn in the eyes of a 10 year old kid, was something I never encountered in my college days.

Source here
The movie made me see how a family survived and coped with the unfortunate economic depression. Abigail's father was forced to seek employment in Chicago. To keep up with the expenses, Abigail's mother opened their home in Cincinnati to boarders, to which Abigail disapproved but left her with no choice.What I love about the movie was how Abigail work her way to become a reporter in a daily newspaper. She kept on emphasizing that all she wanted was a fair chance to be considered. Abigail gave me that unusual emotional trail because in one way or another, I see myself in her shoes. Our only difference is, Abigail was more courageous than me. 

I admit that life is financially tougher for me now. I admit that part of me is scared of the things to come. Part of this is my fault, but I'm willing to correct everything. While I keep saying to myself that I'm willing to face the consequences, part of me is frightened and worried everyday.

While I'm being fed with my own bitter pill of learning, I hope I can still make space for fulfilling my dreams. In a few more years, I will turn 30 and that bothers me more. I overheard one Psychologist saying that when we reach 30, we are like shaping the remaining years of our lives. Decisions made at that age will determine almost half of our life. 

I really hope that the scared grown up in me will be like Abigail. Hardworking, determined and brave enough to stand up for the family and at the same time, fulfill her personal dreams. 

Beautiful Sunday # 31 - Treats

My American friends are still savoring the festive mood of the Thanksgiving Day. The few times that there is no work, family is complete and more importantly for me, there is great food to share LOL are just the best.  You see, food never fails to uplift me. In the Philippines, we don' t really celebrate Thanksgiving. The more important time of the year for us are Christmas and New Year. I'm counting the days! Obviously, my excitement is just overflowing in this blog. While I still have to wait and work for weeks, I'm savoring each passing day. Despite the problems and challenges, I'm enjoying those simple treats that life has been offering me everyday.

And speaking of treats, let me share with you some of them

My family is not a great fan of Italian dishes. However, because of some generous soul, we were able to have a little Italian this week

Italian vegetable pizza and my favorite homemade potato chips from Cibo. It was my first time to try Cibo. Customer service is 5 out of 5 stars at their Gateway branch. However, as for the pizza, I feel that Italian style is not just my type. My family still prefers the classic Pizza Hut or Shakeys. The potato chips are great and it even comes in a special mayo dip. Lesson learned now, opt for pasta and sandwiches in Italian restaurants.

I mentioned in my previous post about my growing love for Korean dishes. I just gained another reason to love South Korea.

I first became addicted to this

A few days after, I discovered another variant

It's a fish but deep inside

  Vanilla ice cream topped with red beans, Yay!

I got these great treats from our school's canteen. Each costs Php 35 and Php 45 respectively. It's a bit pricey, but cheaper than the much hyped Magnum. Between the two however, I would settle for these Korean ice creams.

My ever happy tummy will never get totally satisfied with desserts. While I felt tired of eating the usual sandwiches for snacks, I found these at 7-11

Spicy Siomai (dimsum) partnered with Coke to awaken the sleepyhead in me
Heavenly Happiness!

This week I hope to discover more cheap and simple foodie treats. This way, my attention will be diverted from the endless shopping and shopping for the upcoming holidays. Cheap foodie treats will enable me to spare the money for purchasing more flats LOL

Hope everyone is having a Beautiful Sunday!

PS. My giveaway is still ongoing. Click and join here

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Reviewed! To Have and To Hold by Jane Green

For some reason, stories about the unfaithful husband, mistress and poor wife seemed to trend in the local drama series and movies. I never watched any of those movies yet. But for the drama series, I have my own dose of entertainment from those locally aired Korean drama series. It’s not that I dislike this kind of story line. I just feel that I have more than enough exposure with this theme and to extend them in print is like being served with the same old dish for months. This was my biased and unfair impression as I was reading the first few chapters of the book.

The title of the book never gave me signs of the story’s theme. To Have and To Hold arrived to me as the story of a couple who surpassed a trying chapter in their life because of their strong and unending love. To my surprise, the story was way different than my expectation.

Every girl shares that one great wish of finding Mr. Right. Alice thought she had it in Joe. He was good looking, educated, financially stable and could provide everything except for one, faithfulness. Alice thought she was living in a fairy tale. She married Joe, the most eligible bachelor in London without knowing that he wasn’t after all the most fantasized prince charming. While Alice remained as the dutiful and obedient wife, Joe lived his life chasing and seducing all the women he could ever wish for.

In the course of reading the book, I checked the reviews at Goodreads and I was disappointed with its low ratings. However, I never gave up reading because I trusted the seal of having Jane Green. True enough, Green amazed me again with another writing masterpiece.

Unlike Green’s other works, the book limited its theme about the husband’s unfaithfulness. It related how one cheating leads to another and creates that wrecking domino effect to what was once a sacred and blissful life. As a single and female reader, I love how the book introduced me with the hidden issues about married life. I often see marriage in the context of the best and worst. Green was able to present how a heavenly marriage be gradually dragged to a silent and torturing hell. Worst is that I was able to better understand why women tend to suffer more in unsuccessful marriages.   

On the brighter side, I love how the novel made me see the opposing tandem of betrayal and survival. One betrayal should never be revenged with another betrayal. A wound can never be healed with another deeper wound. In addition, Green emphasized in the entire novel that women should never lose their own self because of marriage. Cliché as it may sound but a real man empowers, but never changes the woman he chose to love.

If I would rate the book, I’ll give it 4 out 5 stars. It gave me my own share of lessons, realizations, excellent and convincing character development and more importantly, an unpredictable ending. 

I hope Jane Green and Broadway Books will not sue me for showing this page. Not my favorite part of the book but got me thinking for a while 

 Hopefully, not all men are Joe :)  

P.S. My giveaway is still running! Please join for a chance to win a new eyewear. 
Click and join here 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cool down please

This should be the only time of the year when the weather in my dear tropical country should already cool down. Unfortunately, it still feels like summer here. Global warming, is that you? Whatever force is causing this unusual weather is making me miss those cold mornings as Christmas is fast approaching. While my blog friends in the other side of the world are placing every piece of clothing to keep them warm, it's the extreme opposite here.

In my desire to convince myself that the temperature will soon calm down ;-)  I gave in to the temptation of buying this
Unfortunately, this doesn't appear as wise buy now. If I wear this in one weekend afternoon, I will definitely gain nothing but buckets of sweat and body odor? Ewww LOL

My dear blog friends in Europe and the other side of the world, please share a dose of those freezing temperature here. :-) In the meantime, I found something to beat that extended summer heat in December

I confess that I've been obsessed with everything Korean lately.  Just this afternoon, I found this watermelon popsicle that intensified my Korean addiction. Yay! Something to make me fatter, happier and colder?

I hope everyone is having a great week. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Beautiful Sunday # 30 - Always something there to remind me

Two more weeks and it will be December again. Yay! Here in the Philippines, the spirit of Christmas is felt almost everywhere. Shopping malls serve as best place that intensifies the Christmas spirit. The Christmas decors and songs that send signals to my body to purchase another pair of blue flats. Haha But no, I have to be more prudent this Christmas. Crossing my fingers, I really hope that I would be able to stick with my budget. There are bills to settle for the next years, added to it my upcoming trip. Hopefully! Hopefully! I can make things happen.

This week went fine. Almost, but I'd rather not dwell on the negativities. My typical work week changed when Emily Griffin personally thanked me for my review. Her words really inspired me to read and write more reviews. As I'm typing this post, I suddenly remember my English and Literature classes back in High School. It was raining C's on my initial attempts to write a book review. LOL My limited self esteem almost vanished during those days. Good thing blogging came as it provided me the opportunity to express my thoughts the way I want it. No grades and teachers to impress here.

Aside from Ella Griffin, payday should have made me the happiest this week. However, after doing some budgeting, I felt sad. My fellow Filipinos who are likewise struggling employees could understand my sentiments. As sadness is trying to weaken me, a colleague somehow sent me a reminder to be thankful despite of everything.

I was exchanging text messages with a colleague as we were anticipating our much needed pay in our atm accounts. For the benefit of my foreign blog readers, our last conversation speaks of everything. My colleague said

My salary just passed by too. How devastating. But at the end of day, I'm still thankful. It's better to have a salary than to have nothing at all.

So there, thank you colleague for reminding me these little things. Despite of everything, there are just somethings that make life beautiful.

How about you? What are some little but beautiful things that made your week?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Best reason to love this Monday

This just made my day.

After writing my book review for Ella Griffin's debut novel, I shared the link of my review to my Twitter account. The last thing I would expect to happen is for Ella Griffin to read my review. But this is no longer a dream, it happened! Aside from taking the time and effort to read my review, Ella Griffin even sent me a personal message through my Twitter account.

Now this inspires me to read more, review more and blog, blog blog! 

I hope everyone is having a great Monday too.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Reviewed! Postcards from the Heart by Ella Griffin

After so many months, finally! I finished a book and I'm blogging for a review. When I checked my old posts, the last time I wrote a book review was August. It was also on the same month when I purchased this book.

Everything has been long overdue. When December comes, hopefully I'll finish more books and blog about it. I have more reads from Jane Green and I'm excited to read and write about it. Hopefully!

Postcards from the Heart is the debut novel of Ella Griffin. Initially, I thought she was related to Emily Giffin. It took me some time to figure out that she was GRIffin and Emily was GIffin. LOL Nevertheless, I can attest that they are both great authors.

The story evolved on two couples who are friends, Saffy and Greg with Jess and Conor. Saffy is your typical successful working professional. She has her dream job and an equally handsome and hunk actor boyfriend, Greg. Conor, a teacher and a struggling writer, loves everything about Jess. Despite seven years of relationship and having the twins, Lizzie and Luke, Jess just can't marry Conor.

Initially, I thought that the entire book will simply relate the struggles and challenges to that one great ending of the four characters. Surprisingly, the book caught so many issues about work, friendship and family life. This is one aspect of Griffin's writing I appreciate. People would always claim that when you found the one, things will suddenly fall to its right place. Apparently, real life works in the opposite. You found the one? You may find yourself in bliss but at the end of the day, you still have other issues in life.

Saffy's character perfectly exemplified the side of reality that we always have to face. Handsome boyfriend, dream job, but she has been battling issues with her mom and the father she has longed to meet. Perfect boyfriend with Greg? Unfortunately, Greg is blinded with his dream of making it to Hollywood.

Jess found the perfect partner with Conor but she just couldn't say yes. Adding to it the fact that Conor and Jess are financially challenged with the twins. Conor is a struggling writer trapped as a dedicated teacher. As much as he wants to be a writer, the dream just won't pay the bills at home. In addition to this, those who are working know that at some point, there will always be people who will drag you to mess up.

The book carried out a lot of themes from love, friendship, betrayal, unfaithfulness, to which everyone can relate. In one way or another, each of us have experienced the struggle of the characters. Call me a pessimist but another point I love about the story, it's how Griffin made me see that everyone is perfectly imperfect and we are capable of messing up, at least once in our lifetime.

While the entire story relates about struggles, I noticed that the title of the book doesn't seem to fit as I was reading the initial chapters. Who was sending the postcards in the first place? The answer lies on the last chapters, which gave me my much appreciated unexpected endings. For those who have been reading my previous book reviews, you know how much I appreciate authors who are able to craft unexpected endings.

If I will rate Ella Griffin's book, I'll give it 4 out of 5 stars. The book gave me my much needed light read. It never gave me lessons and all those quotable quotes. However, some realizations about work, relationships, family and life are more than enough to make me love Griffin's first novel.

Beautiful Sunday # 29 Breathe

Time really flies so fast. In less than a month, it will be my favorite time of the year. It will be my birthday and Christmas again. Few weeks after, it will be New Year's eve and we have to bid goodbye to another year again.

While waiting for the most awaited celebration and vacay, what I'm up to right now? As always, office work, teaching and combating all problems and challenges that life is giving me. I may sound pessimistic but that's how things are going now. Grown up problems that act like a bitter pill that I should gradually chew. As much as I wanted to complain, I guess I should rather divert my energy in searching for solutions and what my students are always saying, focus and catch the GV (good vibes)!

Meanwhile, I guess this should serve as a good reminder
and a little something to make me feel good

Anyone who can guess the movie title? ;-)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Beautiful Sunday # 28 - Happiness and Holidays

Today is the last day of my almost week long break. Sad, but the happiness is more than overflowing to compensate. I started my holiday break by visiting the memorial site of my dear friend, Anna. The next day, my mother and I headed to the cemetery to visit my late paternal grandmother and auntie. As always, the first day of November for us means having a mini-reunion.

We arrived a bit late (my fault) but those counted instances I see my cousins are always priceless.

The rare weekdays I'm home with my family is spent having lunches and dinners together. We eat at the same time and enjoy the best home cooked meals prepared by my Nanay. One of life's greatest ironies, you tend to appreciate these things as you age. When I was still a kid, eating with my family was like an ordinary day. It was simply a routine for me. Today, I value each meal we share together.

Speaking of food, whenever our tummies can still accommodate, we call KFC for delivery

Mashed potatoes, crunchy chicken burger and hot shots meals are our favorite midnight snacks.

Aside from my family, I finally had the chance to meet another dear friend. It's been months since I last saw Anne. We went book shopping and shared another sumptuous meal before we parted ways. We have plans of what to do before Christmas. Hopefully our shopping and eating escapades on December will push through. Did I just mention December? Yay! This is another month that really excites me. It will be my birthday soon and there will be another long holiday break to look forward.

Tomorrow, I will reporting back for work. Surprisingly, I don't feel irritated, restless and haggard of the next working days. Is it because of the most awaited Christmas break? Perhaps, but I guess the long holiday break really served me well.

Have a Beautiful Sunday!

I would love to read your beautiful posts too.