Tag Archives: Books and Reading

Book Review: The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant

Book Cover


When this book first came out in 2003, I was drawn to it because of the title. It brought me back to my College days, when one of my favorite professors was talking about a Botticelli painting of the same title. I did read the synopsis at the back of the book and even though it piqued my interest, not just my curiosity, I somehow ended up buying other books.


Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus


Fast-forward to 2011, at a time that I frequent most Booksale branches and this book keeps on popping up. I say to myself, “Hold on! What’s the universe trying to tell me?” Yes, I’m kind of weird like that. I always think that the universe is trying to communicate to me through the everyday goings on, people, objects, animals, plants, and pretty much anything that I happen to encounter.


You could come to the conclusion that I did buy the book and your conclusion wouldn’t be wrong.


When I started reading it, my thought bubble was “Damn! Why didn’t I read this sooner.” It  is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The writing was impeccable. The story’s got everything; coming of age, love and romance, mystery, crime, suspense and thriller, women empowerment, politics, art, passion, danger, choice.


The story revolves around a young, sassy, Florentine girl named Allesandra Cecchi who dreams of becoming an artist. She belongs to a merchant family and her father was a well respected cloth merchant and political figure. Now, the story is set at Florence, Italy during the 15th century. You have to understand that, at this particular time, women are still regarded as property. Unmarried ones belong to their fathers and married ones belong to their husbands. Women are expected to follow the bidding of their father or husband. Women’s opinions should reflect that of their father or husband. In short, having a personal opinion was publicly frowned at and is a definite no-no. So much for freedom.


It’s also safe to say, that at this particular time, women are not supposed to have “careers”. Allesandra should forget about being a well-known artist because it’s not going to happen. Besides, women are not even allowed to be an artist’s apprentice. Ergo, Allesandra would never have the chance to be trained by an artist.


The story unfolds when Allesandra’s father commissions and brings home an artist to paint the murals of the family chapel. Allesandra was drawn to the painter. In her head, she knew the painter could teach her to paint. Little does she know that she’s falling in love with the painter; and vice versa.


15th Century Florence was experiencing a lot of crimes. The period can be pretty much described as politically and morally turbulent. Art and expression is rising. Along with it, sodomy, sexual abandon, murder are also rising. Savonarola, a well-known priest, preaches that the moral decline was caused by art leading people away from God. In his opinion, the only way to save man was to destroy art. A view, that Allesandra opposes. You could just imagine the inner conflict this is causing our protagonist. It made me stop and think, “What would I have done, if I were Allesandra?” Do I pursue my passion? Or do I follow my trusted Church? Somehow, this question still applies today. Don’t you think?



My rating for this book:   

I love this book and I can’t wait to read more of Sarah Dunant’s work.



BOOK REVIEW: Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me


Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me is a memoir written by Lisa Fineberg Cook. I stumbled upon this book in one of my spontaneous Booksale hunting whims. For those not in the know, Booksale is the haven for bibliophiles on a budget. It is a place where the persistent bargain hunter will be rewarded with Php10-finds. Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me is not one of those Php10-finds.
The copy I found was actually priced at Php75; A little pricey for Booksale standards. Most days I would have waited until the book was sold at Php45. But there’s just this voice inside my head telling me that I have to read this book now. Read the rest of this entry

Welcome Surprises: A Package from Holden Robinson


August 1, 2011. I received a small card from the Cainta Post Office asking me to pick-up a package left for me. Seeing that I have a full schedule for the rest of the week, the earliest date I could pick it up would be Monday August 8.

August 3, 2011. I woke up and found a text message from a client requesting for a rescheduling of our meeting set for 2pm. I agreed with my client. Seeing that I suddenly have free time, I decided to drop by the Post Office and pick-up the package that was waiting there for me. I was so happy to find out that the package was from Holden Robinson. And by the size of the package I knew that it contained the book I’ve won a few months back.

In a previous entry I’ve mentioned that I recently became an active member of the Goodreads networking site. As an active member, I joined online bookclubs and participated in book giveaway events. One of the events is an ask-the-author event hosted by the Romance Readers Group. The book being given away  is The House of Roses. And the author giving one single copy  is Holden Robinson. There were less than 10 people who participated in this contest. And knowing my luck with contests I knew that being chosen out of 10 participants is still a very, very, very long shot. Anyway, I won the book months ago. And I not receiving it after 2 weeks of winning it, I felt that I should give up waiting for it. And I did. So, I was a little surprised to find myself holding a package with the sender’s name being Holden Robinson. And the recipient being no other than me.

I did not immediately open the package. Because I already know what it contains. Again, Holden surprised me. The package contains not only a copy of The House of Roses. It also contained 11 bookmarks and a personal card. Oh! Did I mention the book is signed?


This is such a welcome surprise.

Julie & Julia and Blogging


I was flicking through channels over the weekend and stopped on HBO. Julie & Julia was coming up next. And since this is part of my reading list in Goodreads… book 330 as of this writing… the voice inside my head said I should wait for it and watch. Good thing I did, because now I want to read, not just this book, but more books about Julia Child.

Needless to say, the movie also inspired me to be a blogger. I’m hoping I turn out as a diligent blogger despite the fact that I am not a trained writer. Not being a trained writer shouldn’t stop me from blogging. Right? I should see blogging as an exercise on writing.

It might also be a good idea to start reading on how to write. Starting with The Five-Minute Writer, a birthday gift I received from my mom.

A Birthday Gift From Mom: "The Five-Minute Writer"

Knowing my mom, this is her way of telling me “Maybe, you should write.”  And maybe it’s high time I start heeding her advice. Who knows? I just might have swallowed a writer in my previous life and written words is the key to the writer’s freedom. Let’s see. Let the writing adventure begin.