Category: PaperCut

The Fault in Our Stars

THE-FAULT-IN-OUR-STARS-Cover-535x808Only a handful of novels had a powerful impact on me, but only this one actually succeeded in stimulating my usually numb tear ducts.

John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars is a love story, to say at the very least. But it’s more than just a story of star-crossed lovers who had a shot at romance. For one, the main characters are both dying of cancer. This tragedy sets the tone for the entire story, making it nearly foolish to assume that the story could still afford a happy ending.

Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old girl with some form of lung cancer, tells her war story against the disease and how she, with some bittersweet twist of fate, meets Augustus Waters — a 17-year-old physically attractive college basketball athlete who survived cancer but lost a leg in the process. Their relationship grows by the day, but the fatal disease that slowly eats them away is like Damocles’ sword that looms right above their necks.

John Green succeeded in building up the story with a tear-jerking climax as the two helplessly cling for dear life while waging war against their own body.

The novel is not for the faint of heart as some parts are too depressing to read. As all novels do, The Fault In Our Stars provides a first-hand experience that allows readers to feel the roller coaster of emotions in every page. Its power lies in the strong sense of realism that dominates the entire novel. The characters, scenes and emotions are just too real; one can’t help but feel the misery of the characters.

The Fault In Our Stars created in me a deeper understanding of the plight of cancer patients — some of them, without the certainty of waking up to a new day, are forced to live their best life today amid the life-sucking pain. It developed in me a strong awareness of the reality of the struggles they face; that the disease consumes their dying bodies as much as it consumes their soul, their humanity.

You would see as you read along that The Fault In Our Stars is really more than just a love story. I think that its ulterior purpose is really to raise awareness about cancer and to honor those who are fighting a hard battle against it.

So, if you’re the kind of reader who has an aversion for cheesiness, you might want to give this a chance. Expect yourself to be a crying mess towards the end of the novel; much like someone’s cutting the onions as you read, since you really can’t help your eyes from welling up with tears.

I heard that a film franchise of the novel is being cooked up. I just hope that the adaptation will give justice to John Green’s masterpiece in every way.

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Eleven Minutes

Eleven MinutesThis is something you ought to keep in your bookshelf for another read in the future!

Eleven Minutes is a story of a young girl named Maria from a small Brazilian village. After being heartbroken in her first innocent encounter with love, she developed this stigma: Love is a terrible thing that will make you suffer. By some twists of fate, Maria finally ended up working as a prostitute in Geneva. She developed a fascination with sex. There, she slowly drifted farther away from real love. But her despairing view of love was put to the test when she met a painter who sees in her an “inner light.” Maria was brought to an enigma where she has to choose between two diverging roads: pursuing a path of darkness or risking everything to find her own “inner light.”

This wonderfully written novel is an interesting study of sacred and profane sexuality in the context of real love. Dealing with a myriad of emotions, the novel carefully and skillfully touched issues on sacred sex and sadomasochism. Coelho’s candid and utter simplicity brought about unreserved sophistication, capturing the readers’ emotion.

Soulful and expressive, the novel is filled with vivid illustrations and visualizations through the author’s unreserved literary expressions. His understanding of sex as a prayer — a way to touch divinity — and his ability to show the co-mingling world of sex, love, pain and loneliness prevailed in the entirety of the novel.

Caution: this book is certainly not puritanical. Some scenes and moments in the book are sexually charged. This book is highly recommended for people who are open-minded.

“Eleven Minutes is an exploration into the things we crave most out of life presented in a way that will awaken your soul and change the way you love and make love.”

Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte

Only a rare few crime-suspense novels possess a perfect blend of mystery, thrill, comedy and passion all boxed up in one neat package. Kyra Davis’ “Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte” is one such piece; so perfectly blended that you may want to enjoy reading it over a Grande Caramel Brownie Frappuccino at the nearest Starbuck’s.

“Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte” kicked off when Sophie Katz, a hard-boiled mystery novel scribe, gets convinced that some psycho whacko reader sneaks into her apartment to reenact scenes from her book. Her hardly-suppressed jitters and alleged caffeine-induced paranoia prove to have logical bases however, when precedent murder incidents rev up her befuddlement. A filmmaker friend was brutally murdered in exactly the same manner reminiscent to one of his movies; not to mention a gangsta rapper’s murder as a reenactment of one of his songs. If she doesn’t solve the riddle of all these serial killings, she might as well find herself getting hacked up with a rusty hatchet by some crazed, copycat serial killer — that’s just exactly how she has designed her fictional character’s murder in her book.

So Sophie, backed-up with the most unlikely detective squad (her gay hairstylist, a sex-shop-owner friend, some exaggeratedly naïve but funny dimwit friend, her friend’s aspiring vampire weirdo boy toy, and Mr. Katz, Sophie’s slothful cat), engages in a serious sleuth extraordinaire detective work, running across all possible suspects along the way, and thus pointing them towards Anatoly Darinsky – unfortunately Sophie’s new love interest – as the prime suspect.

I personally loved the book in the way that Kyra Davis wittily juiced out every snippet of the story. Since the novel is mostly plot-driven, the story’s development depended primarily on Davis’ exceptional story-telling. It’s also a plus how she successfully developed each character in the novel. The lines and conversations were fantastically written as much as how the story arc has been fruitfully developed. Davis really is a promising story-teller as she sends me through inevitable grins and roll-over-the-floor laughs through her punch lines and witty attacks. It’s amazing how she manages to tickle some funny bone and make a normal talkies scene so hilarious that you’d laugh by yourself. I guess Kyra Davis is Bob Ong’s female American counterpart (that’s if she’s American).

One downside of the story, though, is how the novel seemed to be predictable on the mid-part of the book. Though she seemed to have successfully veered off the reader’s attention from this lingering predictability for a fleeting while, I’m pretty sure you’d find yourself in an “I knew it! I told you it was him!” squeal after going through that part. (Well, at least for me, it had been predictable.) Also, the story’s climax didn’t come for like after the 18th chapter, which was a bit off for me since I’ve been kept hanging for it for a relatively long time. (But Davis – in all fairness to her – managed to offset the delay through her witty punch lines, however.)

Another thing is that the author could have chosen a more fitting title for the novel. First off, the story didn’t disclose as many gory details on the novel’s relatively few murder incidents as you would expect from a thriller novel (ala Stephen King). Notwithstanding the fact that only a single murder did take place in the novel (since the filmmaker’s and the rapper’s murders were merely flashbacks in the story). Second off, the novel’s title includes SEX, Murder, and a blah, blah, blah… But Davis never did include even a single steamy whoohoo moment in the story (which I so patiently waited for in vain anticipation because of the rather misleading title. Hehe!) And third off, double latte was mentioned in the title, but I honestly don’t find any relevant connection with that and the story. Although Sophie Katz is a caffeine-addicted writer, I didn’t find any noteworthy event in the book that transpired in Starbuck’s or over a venti-sized double latte beverage. But then again, in fairness to the author, her title was a bit catchy and has rather had me intrigued; that’s why I found myself buying this book.

Another thing that I find rather off is the oversight of spelling typos and other noticeable slip-ups (i.e. “while”in place of “whole”in “through this while thing,” and “accept” in lieu of “except”.) Kyra’s copy editors had better be blamed on this.

All in all, “Sex, Murder and a Double Latte” is an exceptionally hilarious thriller novel — not exactly what you’d expect from a mystery novel. Kyra Davis’ out-of-the-box way of thinking will compensate it all though. And I guarantee that you’d find it hard to put this li’l fancy-hot-pink-girlie-covered book down. If I had to, I’d rate it with a four-star. And I recommend reading this book to everyone who enjoys reading fancy stories. I think anyone – as in practically anyone who loves a latte and otherwise – who just wants to let time fly by while reading a good book will enjoy it. But if you’re a mortido-filled die-hard mystery series fan who is up and about for some hardcore, mind-boggling, tummy-turning murder story, I’m sorry, this isn’t it. Go buy some Stephen King book instead. He’s even more violent, you know. But who knows? Even you might secretly enjoy it.

I bought my copy from Book Sale so I honestly have no idea how much it actually costs. I don’t think it’s too pricey anyway. It cost me just about the price of a venti-sized Starbuck’s Mocha Frappe, though, and I must say that it’s all worth it. Buying it won’t hurt at all anyway. Tell you what, this book is worth shelving for another good read in case you find yourself bored and in need of a worthy read in the future.