First, it was crosswords puzzles and coloring books. Then, it was brain teasers (those yellow puzzle thingies). Next, it was sudoku and origami. Now, I seem to have another obsession coming up. I seem to have the knack for finding useless things to do even though I’m very busy.

When I was sick and had to stay in bed for a few days, my mom gave me this book of doodle patterns and a box of Faber-Castell colored pencils. She knew that despite my mountain of books and tons of DVDs, I will be very bored. Maybe a change of things to do was needed and so I was given this.

What does it contain? It contains so many pages of patterns: swirly, cubist, flowery, etc. Some are repeating patterns while some seem random to me.

Basically, you just color each shape in the pattern with whatever color you like and create your own design. Most of the time, I don’t follow a particular color scheme. I just go crazy and randomly color until I get a finished product. It can be crazy, disappointing and interesting XD;.

…I think I need some more practice with using colored pencils, though XD. I’m not really a fan of them (I prefer crayons) but they’re easier to use in small shapes. Maybe I should buy a better/more brilliantly-colored set XD;.

You know this is going to be one of my long-term hobbies, since it’s one of the few things I can do even while watching TV.  The doodle pattern books can be bought in National Bookstore for less than a hundred pesos, I think. If you do not have anything valuable to do and would like to waste time OR if you want to relax and just sit back, watch TV and keep your hands busy, this is the thing for you <3.  A warning though, it can be addicting, especially when you used to have coloring books as anti-stress things :D.


I was born into a family of bibliophiles. My parents exposed me and my sister to books of different kinds, from picture books to encyclopedias to fiction paperbacks. I had more books than toys. On my 6th or 7th birthday, I was given a Mother Goose hard bound collection. On my 8th birthday, I was given an animal encyclopedia and a storybook about Norse, Egyptian and lesser known mythologies. For my 11th and my sister’s 8th birthdays, we were given a set of 24 volumes of Collier’s Encyclopedia, an atlas and an almanac. For some of the Christmases, we were given coloring and spelling books and works of Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and some classics.

If you would visit our house, you’d see tons of books in cabinets, in boxes, on my bed, on the floor, in crates. My sister jokes a lot about how we can earn money by setting up some sort of book sale. Most of these books were fiction, and their genres reflect their owners: romance and historical stuff are my mom’s; mystery/thrillers, sci-fi/fantasy and award winners are mine; Japanese contemporary, YA fantasy and manga are my sister’s. Sometimes, we try out other genre, but my mom can never push me to read Barbara Cartland as much as I can’t push my sister to read Nancy Drew. At times, we’d sit in the living room to discuss books (lately, it was Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl) or just read the whole afternoon.

I guess that is enough introduction about my obsession. I love books and I love getting people to like books, so I try to be as accommodating to people who like to read as much as possible. I like talking to people about reading and about books, but I don’t like it conflicts involving books. Hence, when books become an issue with a person, I tend to bear grudges against said person.

A few weeks ago, I found out that a friend of my sister did not return my copies of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. I want to go to their school and smack the crap out of him/her, had they not already graduated last April. Sure, both aren’t my favorite books and Dan Brown writes like an amateur, but those are still books. MY BOOKS. I don’t think anyone has the right to NOT return books to their owners, whether the books are sucky or not. Anyway, my sister has lost contact with that person and I have no means of stalking him/her. Cruel world, I just hope he/she loved the books so much until they are in pieces.

That discussion above made me remember why I’m never in good terms with a far cousin since I was young. Until now, when we pass each other on the streets, we don’t hold conversations and just nod in greeting. It might be mean on my part, since I know that it was an issue a long time ago and it is not like I can bring anything back. However, remembering that story still makes me annoyed at her and a little at my mom.

When I was in grade school, my mom bought me my very first pocket dictionary. It was the cheapest Webster’s dictionary at that time. It was small, squarish and black. Most of the dictionaries at home were in tomes, so I was happy to have something I can bring to school and read for leisure. It was with me for almost a year and I never grew tired of flipping through its pages, especially during class when I hear a difficult word. I think it’s the reason why I loved spelling, too.

My cousin’s a year older than me and was studying in a public school. She and her mother were having difficulty finding the things she needed like school supplies, supplementary readings and answers to homework. My mom who was a teacher helped them out as much as she can. She even offered to pay for some of the things my cousin needed as long as she can go to school. It went on like that for quite sometime until one night when my aunt asked my mom for help because my cousin needed a dictionary for school. She needed it the following week for homework, I think.

My mom could’ve just lent my aunt money to buy a dictionary. She could’ve just bought one for my cousin when we went out shopping that weekend. But instead of those, she took my dictionary and gave it to my cousin. I cried when I gave the dictionary away, not because I’m feeling selfish, but because I loved the book so much. My mom promised to buy me a new one and she did, a shiny Random House dictionary that was bigger, thicker and had more words. I was happy to have a new dictionary, but I missed my old one. Of course, I wasn’t about to complain to my mom, so I just swallowed it up and kept quiet. Maybe my dictionary’s going to be loved so much until it fell into pieces. It would’ve served its purpose the best way then.

A few months later, I found out that my cousin stopped going to school. Her boyfriend accidentally got her pregnant. She stayed at home, had tons of kids, forced her mom to overwork to the point of exhaustion because she herself cannot work, being an undergrad. Even her boyfriend who came to live with them didn’t work and lived off her mother’s meager salary.

My mom didn’t talk to my cousin for 4 years because of disappointment. I didn’t talk to her and haven’t talked to her up to now. Whenever I see her, I’m reminded of how I felt betrayed. It’s an indescribable feeling. I couldn’t put it into words. Maybe I’m also disappointed that our good will has gone to waste because of carelessness. Maybe I hate the fact that the book I treasured so much was thrown away and not given any value.

If it was any other object like a bag or a pair of shoes, I wouldn’t really give a damn. I love books more than I love people, it seems. And for good reasons, I think.

I’ve been looking for Jennifer Lee Carrell’s Interred with Their Bones ever since I read a review of it in goodreads. Unfortunately, it wasn’t available in the Philippines back then (January 2008). When I realized that it was finally released here, it was 2009 and the book has a different title, The Shakespeare Secret. The book was renamed for British release and we got that title. (I think Interred With Their Bones is a good title, I wonder why they changed it.)

Anyway, The Shakespeare Secret revolves around Kate Stanley, a Shakespeare scholar who turned to theater directing. During one of her rehearsals for her play, Hamlet, she is visited by her old mentor, Rosalind Howard, who gave her a gift and a plea for help. Kate hesitated, and before they could talk about the gift and the message, Roz is murdered in the Globe Theater and the theater itself was burned. Kate is left with a clue to something she didn’t even know and a road that leads to danger.

As she tries to unlock more clues in her trail filled with Shakespearean riddles, Kate travels from UK to USA to find out about Shakespeare, his life, the identity of the writers of his plays and his lost plays. She meets people, both allies and enemies, plays games with death and danger, and slowly unlocks the mysteries surrounding Roz’s death and well, Shakespeare.

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I normally skip romance novels and go straight to the thriller/mystery/fantasy ones when I visit bookstores. This one, however, caught my eye for some reason. It could be because of the red and light gold spine and cover or the intriguing title. Anyway, I picked it off the shelf and was intrigued. The setting of the story was in Italy around the time of World War II, specifically when German troops are attacking the Italian villages. Yes, I know I’m an addict. The first thing I thought of was Italy’s Hetalia, how uncool is that?

This book is Castellani’s debut novel. It is the story of two people, Vito and Maddalena. Vito Leone is about to turn eighteen and is nearly the last young man in the village (the rest were taken by soldiers to the battlefield). Before he leaves, he asks the young ladies for kisses, and he is most determined to receive a kiss from Maddalena Piccinelli, a beautiful girl from a rich family. Her family does not like him, her older sisters (who should be married first) snub him and thinks he’s a penniless fool. Her parents cannot accept him to be Maddalena’s suitor. However, Vito is decided to make the young woman fall for him and slowly, with his little actions of helping his mother and the ladies of the town, Maddalena sees the young man in a different and softer light.

However, their paths is obstructed by an American also desiring Maddalena’s hand. The war around them surges on, too, destroying their homes and forcing people to leave the town. Amidst the threat of being torn apart by war, Vito must prove his worth to the woman he loves and Maddalena must choose what her heart really desires.

I’m halfway done with the book at the moment. It is a little dragging at first, the events unfold a little too slowly. But I cannot deny that the book is engaging. You can’t help but read on, discover what Vito will do and how Maddalena reacts to him and vice versa. The every day occurrences in the village makes me appreciate how the people who aren’t soldiers live their life in the middle of war. The emphasis on Vito and his mother as well as the families in the village was poignant and realistic.

I was ready to put the book down the moment that I see any clues of a mushy historical romance novel. But “A Kiss from Maddalena” does not disappoint me. Yes, it is a romance novel but no, it is not. I read the events of how Vito slowly tried to win Maddalena and I witness their exchanges, their movements, etc. But they aren’t written in a way usual scenes in romance novels are written. The scenes are not out of place or offensive. They simply melded with the daily events of the story well. There are some things that are left inadequately described, inviting the readers to read between the lines. It’s not the usual love story that makes me cringe and I love it. The kiss, as the title implies, is more than what Vito was aiming for and the story shows us how Maddalena’s kiss, which she was reluctant to give, could be so meaningful.

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Affascinante is my home for non-fandom things: books, music, thoughts. The entries here may also be reposted in my dreamwidth blog. All written here are my opinions and thoughts.


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