Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

An Early Christmas

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I recently read a human interest story written by my friend about a public school teacher who went out of her way to give her students the best possible learning environment she could give. Using what little of her own money, she redecorated the place and made it a proper first-grade classroom. That meant paying for the new paint, the props, the visuals and whatever else is needed to keep her lot interested in her lessons. In some cases, she even buys her students breakfast especially when she suspects them of not having had anything to eat in the morning.

Where I’m from, public school classrooms aren’t always up to par. They’re mostly dilapidated or filled to the brim with more students than is legally allowed. And in some situations, there aren’t even classrooms to speak of at all! I’ve seen teachers who’ve had to hold lessons out in the playground and SHARE the space with three other different classes. This is not an exaggeration. I’ve seen how this strategy operates and, although it’s a miracle if the students even understand the lesson what with the overlapping discussion, they just have no other choice but to make do. I’m afraid that the quality of education in my country is quite poor and with very little compensation for their efforts, it’s a wonder we’ve got any teachers left here at all!

Of course, not all schools here scrimp on quality but with many families living in poverty, most of them aren’t able to afford a better education. Scholarships are very limited and well, don’t even get me started on government funding. It’s always messy to talk about the budget because then you’ll have to talk about corruption, too.

Anyway, the reason I’m talking about this is because my friend has asked us if we had any old books we’d like to donate to the first-grade class she met a few weeks ago. And I’m so happy to report that I do! In fact, my shelf is filled with books I haven’t read in a decade while the books I now read are piling up on a dusty old table.

I’m also thinking of stopping by Booksale (a really popular secondhand bookstore here) and buying the children’s books they have lying around. I’m also planning to drop by the regular bookstores to buy coloring and activity books for the kids. She’s planning to ship our donations over in time for Christmas. I’d really like to help her out in this endeavor. I believe that it’s important for children to start developing an interest in reading as early as they can. I’m excited about making this happen.


What’s Your Mustache?

In Uncategorized on August 23, 2010 at 9:53 am

via The Debonaire

Which one is yours?

I do like the more elegant ones but I must admit that there’s something about Mr. Federal and Mr. Jeanne Moderno Ot that’s appealing.

Words of Import

In Uncategorized on August 17, 2010 at 5:07 pm

My sister is a fan of Anais Nin. I’ve never read anything of hers but I came across these words which I think are quite important for any budding writer.

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.

Doesn’t that justĀ  make you want to write?

Just for Kids

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2010 at 4:20 pm

via HarperCollins

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a collection of horror stories compiled by Alvin Schwartz. Although meant for children, kids who are older than 9 years old might not find the stories so scary anymore. If your children or your younger siblings often go to slumber parties or summer camps, the book might be helpful to keep boredom at bay. Contrary to my expectations, the book is not designed for personal reading. It is constructed to help kids tell the stories on their own. Some stories even have appropriate instructions for when to scream or when to pierce friends with a knowing stare.

As a grown-up, I found the Notes section of the collection to be more interesting. There are a few references in there which speak of history (i.e. Mark Twain, Indian legends) but nothing more profound. My little sister who is ten years old finished the book quite quickly. If you want to get kids interested in storytelling, this book might prove to be more useful for you than it was for our family.

Catching Up

In Uncategorized on August 14, 2010 at 11:16 am

Just popping by to say that yes, I’m still alive! Busy but most definitely still alive! In a bout of frustration a few days ago, I found myself buying two new books. One is a collection of scary stories called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark compiled by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Brett Helquist– obviously for the youngest in the family. I have yet to read it myself but when I do, you guys will be the first to hear about it. The second book is a self-indulgent purchase. A Rake’s Vow– a romance novel by Stephanie Laurens. What made that book irresistible was the fact that it stars my favorite family in romance novels. The Cynsters. Oh, laugh if you must but I love reading about them! If you’re familiar with the Cynsters, then I’d like to share that my first encounter was with Gabriel Cynster and Alathea Morwellan in A Secret Love. So far, they are still my favorite Laurens couple.

Anyway, I hope to be back soon. Right now, I’m just swamped with movie reviews. I have just recently attended a socio-political film festival and well, I need time to work on my assignments. Will be seeing you soon though!

On that note, I’d like to leave you guys with a few interesting links!

A recipe forgotten in a book.

A review of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

Scenes from the medieval fair-likeĀ  Sparrenburg Fest.

An interesting portrait.

Enjoy the weekend!

Goodies de la France et l’Allemagne

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Daily Expositions’ Andrew who is my sister’s boyfriend dropped by the house last night to distribute presents for the family. These are mine. : )

I’ve already devoured the magazines while in a haze last night (and I will look at them again later) and am slowly making my way through The Paris Magazine. Exciting, yes? : )

Merci Andrew!

Kate Mosse’s Sepulchre

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2010 at 5:42 am

Image via Kate Mosse’s official Web site

Kate Mosse’s Sepulchre is dark, haunting and tragic, swimming alternately from one time line to another. In 1891, Leonie Vernier and her brother Anatole leave Paris for the Domaine de la Cade, a country house located near Rennes-les-Baines. Little does Leonie know, there is far more to their vacation than just a change of scenery.

The Domaine de la Cade has long been rumored to house a malicious demon which, apparently, has been terrorizing the people for centuries. While there has been little evidence to this story, their late uncle Jules Lascombe’s interest in the occult and eccentricity did not help improve matters. As Leonie discovers a set of tarot cards in her uncle’s library and an ancient sepulchre in the woods, Anatole faces a ruthless enemy– one who is intent on more than just drawing blood.

Fast forward to 2007 and Meredith Martin journeys to the same place to follow a lead for her biography on Claude Debussy as well as to find out more about her past. As if her life isn’t complicated enough, she soon finds herself helping someone dig out the truth about a murder. As she faces all three head on, danger lurks on in the Domaine de la Cade. Meredith’s only clues lie in a set of tarot cards brimming with secrets and ghosts of the past. To make things more interesting, she is the spitting image of one of cards in the major arcana– La Justice.

It’s an easy plot to fall in love with but reading through 732 pages of it is a little challenging. Sepulchre is heavier than other novels of the same genre that I’ve come across. The story is less forgiving and more despairing, painting a harsh yet beautiful picture of love and its consequences.

That aside, there are also a lot of intricate details about the fictional Bousquet cards towards the beginning. There are musical notes and a recurrence of the number eight which don’t really appear to have strong ties to the actual story. I almost wish there were illustrations in between pages. Then again, I don’t want to be haunted by the same said images at night either. The novel may be entitled Sepulchre but the story is really about the cards.

Personally, I was able to relate more to Leonie than to Meredith. Where Leonie is full of life, Meredith is more reserved. She jumps at every opportunity to explore. Young as she is, she possesses a strong will worthy of the card La Force. From the moment she comes in contact with her late uncle’s work, Leonie finds herself in a struggle to protect herself as well as her loved ones from the unknown.

Sepulchre is an interesting read, a little complex and confusing in some chapters, yes, but it eventually unravels nicely in the end.

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