Deep Fathom by James Rollins – ‘I feel humbled.’

You know that experience after reading a book and don’t know how you feel about it just yet?

That’s exactly what I felt after Deep Fathom. It’s thrilling, action-packed and has a bunch of really good characters to root for – all key ingredients to a wholesome reading experience. 

deep fathom

But while ‘impressed’ is an expected reaction from Rollins’ work, I’d say ‘humbled’ is a more appropriate term for this.

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced reading something that makes me feel humbled. I’m not sure how but something in the story struck a chord. Now that I think about it, it’s something along the lines of:

  • There’s so much more out there – deep sea–  that we don’t know of. Secrets that invite curiosity but might be best left undiscovered.
  • We never really know when things end for us. One day it’s all sunshine, the next it’s over.
  • It’s always great to have people with the same interest – sharing your dreams, helping each other. To know someone has your back when you need it.

And Jack Kirkland is a beautiful protagonist – someone you can sympathize but is equally complex to fully understand. I especially liked his methodical approach to things and the way he easily diffuses panic by staying ‘focused’ – not an easy feat but one thing he did so very well in the entire story.

This was what Jack liked best about diving. The isolation, peace, the quiet. Here there was only the moment. Lost in the deep, his past had no power to haunt him.

The ending….is just plain WOW! I didn’t expect that. A literal out-of-this-world twist that I welcomed with open arms after everything. It’s an experience that I think every thriller and science-adventure fan deserves to experience.

And I thank James Rollins for this work. I’ve been a fan of Sigma Force and I’m always left in awe. This is amazing. Go check this out, dive deep!

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‘How to Start’ when you don’t know where to begin?

I don’t seek to provide answers since I, in the first place, am struggling with the same issue.

How do you start on something when you don’t know where to begin?

Common suggestions include:

  • reading books on your subject of interest
  • talk to ‘authority’ people
  • take classes (online or classroom setup)
  • then you can always go for the DIY step where you learn/unlearn things at your own pace

But a fact is, not all these will work on everybody. Some might. Others will do well in combination and there are times when they just don’t.

Any thoughts? Any personal suggestion?

 

 

Why do I write letters to fictional characters?

Why do I write letters?

Why do I write letters to fictional entities whom I can’t meet? Letters which will forever be hidden – unread?

Letters which express my profound appreciation of art.

Characters who are very well crafted leave a mark. They aren’t real but strangely feels real. They are even more relatable than real human beings – the funny thing about fiction.

There are characters who broke me.

Characters who made me happy.

Characters who taught me things I could never ever learn at school.

Such power is found on those characters that I sometimes hope for them to be real. To speak to them in person – to understand them at a personal level. It would be a pleasure.

But they are fictional.

They can’t be real.

Their dominion lies on the pages of the book I read, on the creative muse of those who brought them to life – their writers.

But I never regret meeting them – knowing them.

Some remained.

Others left with a lesson.

It’s a mysterious feeling. Weird. But beautiful.

Writing to them makes them feel real. It’s relaxing as it is meditative. It lets me dive into their world, speak to a character I’ve never known before – a chance to bear thoughts I never knew existed prior to writing them down.

Not all people see the beauty of writing.

Only a few.

I’m glad to be a part of the pact. Nothing could beat the feeling of wonder I have when writing.

It’s the craft I love – a craft I will forever do.

In God’s grace.

The Readers Guide to The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell – Answers

Undoubtedly one of the most memorable reads on my 2018 list. But I decided to opt out on a review.

I will instead take time to answer the 12 questions Ms. Rindell has for the readers at the end of the book to somehow bare my own thoughts about The Other Typist. It’s a very good piece of work. But one might have the tendency to find himself questioning the events as they are subjectively presented by the narrative.

Anyhow, here we go.

1. Do you think Rose is a reliable or unreliable narrator? Why? If you did question her veracity, at what point in the novel did you begin to do so?

I see Rose as a reliable narrator. She’s very keen on details both objective and subjective, and makes sure the readers know the difference between the two. And yes, I did start questioning her. It started on that part when she introduced the ‘doctor’ she’s been talking too.

She seemed well to me. But someone who sees a doctor to talk about personality is indicative of some behavioral issues. Not necessarily disturbing issues but still issues.

2. Why is Rose so captivated by Odalie, someone she wholly disapproves of initially?

I think it’s primarily because of their stark differences. As they say, opposites tend to attract.

Odalie is Rose’s opposite. She is a character that challenges Rose’s ‘comfort’ and ‘familiar’ zone and shows her another side of the picture. This makes Rose’s initial disapproval understandable. Odalie, being an unfamiliar territory seems like a threat to the practices she grew up with.

Despite this, human curiosity wins. And Rose, being an observant and curious as she is just can’t resist the allure of knowing something more out of the other’s new and unique ways of doing things.

3. Through Odalie, Rose gains entry into a world she’s never seen before, one filled with opulence and rich, glamorous people. Clearly Rose is an outsider who doesn’t belong. Yet she seems to take it all rather quickly. Why do you think this is so? Why, despite all the new people she comes into contact with, is Odalie the only one she seems to be charmed by?

Because Rose’s a fast learner. At least that’s how I see her. She’s also a survivor. It’s her nature. So it’s only a matter of time before she masters the new ways of a new environment. Plus, her interest in Odalie tends to enhance her observation skills, absorbing how the former acts in various situations, all the while learning it herself.

As to why she’s charmed by Odalie, the same answer with no.2.

4. Some readers may think that Rose is a lesbian. Do you? Why or why not? Might her Victorian sensibility, when viewed by a contemporary reader, be misinterpreted and sexualized even if it might be innocent and pure?

Maybe, but I don’t think so. She doesn’t seem like the person who gets along easily with others. She’s not social, so to speak and her real friendship is primarily confined in a childhood experience with no other than a lady like herself. It’s only natural to see her longing for that experience once more.

But yes, since people seemed to see her as the aloof, reserved and anti-social typist or roommate, seeing her so close with someone can be interpreted as harboring some special, romantic affection to that person.

5. Rose is such a stickler for the rules, yet as the novel progresses, she starts breaking them frequently. In retrospect, do you think she ever follows the rules? Or does she follow only the ones she agrees with?

I’ll go with the latter. Rose may seem straight as an arrow, but she has the tendency to disobey. She is an observer – a thinker. And she knows more things than what she tells. She acts accordingly as necessary. But I think she’s not completely averse to bending rules. She’s smart enough to know when to do just that. And not getting caught.

6. Rose is actually quite a funny, astute observer. (“I crawled into [bed]… exhausted from the efforts of making conversation with a man who, if he were any duller, might be declared catatonic by those in the medical profession.”) Why, then, is she so humorless when it comes to people like Iris, Gib, and the Lieutenant Detective, especially?

I can’t say for sure, but she obviously has some preconceived notions about them. Most likely based on her personal observations. It just so happen that those notions were not onto their favor.

7. Rose states in the beginning of the book: “I am there to transcribe what will eventually come to be known as the truth.” The novel plays with the notion that the written word is superior to the spoken – Rose’s transcripts and her diary that the reader is reading versus the narration she provides throughout the book. Do you think the written word carries more weight than oral history? Why or why not?

It’s more like a combination of both. I mean, I won’t discredit one over the other. Rose’s diary brings out more honesty in her experience. She supports it with her narration, although the latter also has some added prejudices and opinions here and there.

I guess at some point she felt the need to show her written works because she also feels like we will understand her better if we read the actual recount of her experiences – no matter how irrelevant they may seem. And in fact, as I read through her diary, there are aspects of her experiences – some she might not be conscious of –  that obviously contributed to the change that we see on her attitude. Yet, her narration seems to always lean on her being aware of it all and just giving herself the chance to learn.

8. Consider the many possible storylines for Odalie’s history. Did she really kill her ex-fiance? Was Gib really the driver of the train? Was she indeed a debutante from a wealthy family in Newport? Did she at a young age leave her mother to live with Czako, the Hungarian, in Europe? Which of these stories is the most plausible? Do you believe any of them is true?

It’s hard to trust Odalie. That, I am sure of. I’m not saying she’s a liar. But she’s not exactly the honest person you’ll expect to hear real-life stories. She fabricates stories like a pro and gets away with it without anyone questioning her. Gib also has his own agenda so I can’t say I trust him too.

But of all the stories about her, I’d say the one about her being a debutante from a wealthy Newport family is highly probable. And yes, I think she’s capable of killing her ex-fiancee.

9. What do you make of Roses’s appearance? Throughout the novel she takes pains to point out that she is plain-looking. Yet the Lieutenant Detective obviously finds her attractive, and at the end of the book she is a doppelganger for Odalie, who is portrayed a knockout. What do you think Rose really looks like? Should her appearance even matter?

To be honest, I’ve always seen her as beautiful. Not the type who wears lipsticks and makeup but more like the natural type.

She describes herself as plain, but that’s probably because of her traditional upbringing. Plus, she never saw the importance of comparing herself to other women. She’s also not stylish. She can blend well with the crowd, but not the type that can completely go unnoticed.

As to the ‘doppelganger’ reference on the last part of the book, I think it has nothing to do with her looks. She was conned. By Odalie. And as I’ve mentioned, Rose is a natural beauty. It wouldn’t take much effort in coaxing police to believe how Rose is actually the rich kid and not the other way around. The evidence just needs to be planted. And let’s face it. Odalie is a master manipulator who can do just that.

10. When Rose is in the hospital at the end of the book, the doctors call her “Ginevra.” That is the name Teddy used for Odalie. Who do you think is the real Ginevra? Are Odalie and Rose the same person?

No. Never (at least at the time I finished reading the book) did it occur to me that they are the same person. And I am more than convinced that Odalie is Ginevra. Teddy knows it so he needs to be eliminated. Odalie did so. Then, capitalizing on Rose’s devotion to her, she strategically placed all the evidence in a way that would incriminate Rose in the most convincing, foolproof possible.

11. What do you make of the kiss at the end of the novel? Is Rose doing it just to get the Lieutenant Detective’s knife, or is there some true feeling behind it? Were you surprised that she admits she’s never kissed a man before?

It was partly strategic, I should say. But I think Rose’s curiosity combined with the shock and psychological trauma of what Odalie did to her made her do it. She was already aware of that point that the Lieutenant somehow harbors an affection towards her.

And no, I wasn’t surprised that it was her first kiss.

12. What do you believe really happened at the end of the book? Did Rose kill Teddy? Or did Odalie?

Odalie. I think all of those things that Odalie did with Rose – the parties, vacation, fine dining, etc. were part of her grand plan. She must’ve at some point realized the need for an escape plan just in case things go awry – think Teddy. And given how smooth everything went, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not the first time she conned other people.

She needed someone who can be her. And Rose was the perfect fit.


But really. Thinking back about the story, there could be other angles we can explore to see what really happened. Most of them are big chunks of ‘what ifs’ but not entirely impossible. Say,

  • What if everything was a lie and Odalie was just really a fragment of Rose’s (the real Ginevra) imagination?
  • What if Odalie was the one saying the truth and Rose just made it the other way around? In this case, she conned us all?
  • What if Rose was really sick, to begin with (her mental issues) and decided to create a story that will make her appear as the victim?

These and possibly more.

But I guess it’s best we leave those ‘what if’s’ open for discussions.

So what do you think about the story?

Book Review: Nothing Lasts Forever by Sidney Sheldon

Nothing Lasts Forever - banner

This is another one of those books that we all can finish in one-sitting, nonstop reading.

Nothing lasts forever is an easy-to-follow storyline with characters that represent varied and distinct personalities that many might find easy to relate. Unlike a number of medical drama that mostly includes suspense, this presents a fascinating mixture of romance, family story, and office politics all meshed around our main characters’ predicaments.

Common but at the same time complex story conflict

This story is set in a time when female doctors are viewed as inferior professionals compared to their male counterparts. They aren’t revered as much as their male counterparts and are usually the subject of harassment and bullying. Nothing new, really.

But it becomes interesting by looking at the backstory of the main characters:

Dr. Paige Taylor who grew up with her father – a WHO (World Health Organization) doctor who traveled around the world, servicing tribes and communities with no access to hospital facilities. These frequent travels enabled Paige to learn various local dialects while enhancing her cultural knowledge.

Dr. Kat Hunter, a runaway teen who was abused by her stepfather. She found hope on her aunt’s constant encouragement and her love for her little brother, Mike. Never the ‘people person,’ Kat pretty much did well on her own – eventually braving the profession dominated by men.

Dr. Honey  Taft who was considered inferior among her family of over-achievers. The constant pressure to excel on something made her succumb to unconventional methods to get what she needs. Her natural warm and vulnerable bearing became an asset – something which she soon learned to be a double-edged sword.

Amidst their differences, they all somehow managed to stay together, drawing strength from their common prejudice and excelling well on their respective fields.

But even at that, they never really fully knew who was who.

Honey spoke very little. There’s a shyness about her, Paige thought. She’s vulnerable. Some man in Memphis probably broke her heart.

Paige looked at Kat. Self-confident. Great dignity. I like the way she speaks. You can tell she came from a good family.

Meanwhile, Kat was studying Paige. A rich girl who never had to work for anything in her life. She’s gotten by on her looks.

Honey was looking at the two of them. They’re so confident, so sure of themselves. They’re going to have an easy time of it.

They were all mistaken.

Strong individuality

What I think drove the story forward is the strong individuality of the characters more than that of the plot’s twists and turns. The revelations weren’t that surprising, and few were predictable, but thinking of how Paige, Kat, and Honey would react on the situations thrown at them kept me hooked.

They value their profession, but their priority lists don’t necessarily show it’s the only thing that matters.

Paige has her romantic idealism. Kat has her brother. And Honey has her family.  Personal factors that can always throw even the most straight-headed personality out of balance. One just has to place them in peril.

And Sidney Sheldon did just that.

It’s because these characters were very well crafted that makes them real and memorable. You can get the sequence of events jumbled up, but you’ll forever remember how each character acted.

RATING:

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ / 5

MOOD:

😀

Get your copy from Book Depository! 

On Blogging

It first came as an interest powered by curiosity.

The idea of blogging was an attraction – it made me feel in control as much as I’m responsible. 

Every time I put out a post, I feel the need to ensure it has the message I want to share. English isn’t my first language, and I’m not an English major too, so starting a blog using the language was a challenge.

But I am able to communicate, nonetheless.

As months pass by, blogging has become more than an interest. It became a routine, a habit. Then at some point a form of therapy for some intense emotional and mental issues I had to deal with.

Blogging then can be a wonderful past time. But I do it for it heals. And I learn more along the way.

 

Career or Familial Responsibility?

I woke up this morning and ran into a Facebook post that read like:

Mara Luarte

As it appears, it gathered lots of engagements, which isn’t really surprising considering the huge number of Filipinos who are on Facebook. But other than that, I also think many Filipinos could relate. I’m not saying that this is true for everyone for I’ve known a few who are pursuing their passion without being ‘tied up’ to this so-called cultural obligation.

Keyword, ‘a few.’

Having close family ties is one of the distinct characteristics a typical Filipino family has. Whereas other cultures celebrate the coming of age as a milestone in life where children can move out of the house and live independently, a lot of Filipinos don’t see it this way.

Extended families living under one roof is not surprising. Children are not encouraged to move out unless it’s highly necessary – like a job relocation, perhaps.

But while this culture has fostered closer family relationships, it also gave birth to the thinking that you’ll need to provide for the family, because after all, you are living with them. The premise that you need to pay back the people who sent you to school is common.

Just like Mara, I also don’t see anything wrong with this. But it’s a whole new different story when you’re already giving up what matters most to you – your dreams maybe – just to keep on supporting your family. You can provide, but this need not be a reason for you to be deprived of doing what you love best – what you’re good at and what you’re called to do – even if it doesn’t pay that well.

Yet the sad opposite is happening.

And a lot may feel like this is beyond their control because typical jobs in the Philippines don’t necessarily pay enough to support your family – much more the family you want to build yourself.

Thus, the sacrifices.

It’s just so sad to think how that one thing you sacrificed might have contributed more if given the chance to prosper.

But you can never judge.

Besides, there are also those who consider supporting their family as their calling. It’s just not for everyone.

I grew up in the same culture. I’m also providing for my family. And yes, I’ve sacrificed things. Things that I regretted. But it was my decision. And I’m not giving up on my dream.

We shouldn’t.