Book: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

"The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight"

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Set over a twenty-four-hour period, this is a cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves.

That last line sold the book for me. Unfortunately, the story itself was a little problematic in my opinion. And this is a weird way of starting my reaction post on The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight… but sometimes you just have to jump in to the part you want to discuss.

Like false promises.

I don’t think the novel was particularly cinematic, for one thing. Sure, the 24 hours thing screams road trip movie–except our characters are on a plane en route to London. But this time frame actually detracts from the overall experience, because the author was corralled into sticking with the here and now of the two character’s relationships without the breathing allowance that time gives. And, come on, how can you live up to your title when you’re not giving your characters time to process things…to actually fall in love?

Hadley and Oliver are great characters, and I feel like they were squandered on a premise that might have sounded amazing in the proposal stage, but didn’t completely work on paper. I think they would have resonated more with readers if we were given the time allowed to get to know them, to get a feel of them… Something more than the scraps of insights we were given by the book.

Which, I’m going back to the cinematic novel claim now, would have worked on screen depending on the actors’ abilities to deliver lines with gravitas, and with their chemistry. Pages and pages of history, of experience, can be translated into movements, stance, inflections, etcetera–but you can’t expect your readers to guess how your character is supposed to hold themselves in certain situations when we barely have any idea who they are.

A book is not a movie. You don’t have actors breathing life into your characters. You don’t have a director adding history into the way the characters interact. You don’t have a stylist layering the experiences through the way the characters dress. You don’t have a set designer giving clues to who the characters are supposed to be. All you have is the story. So let the story breathe.

This is not a book I would recommend. But, I am not telling you to not pick up the book either. You have to make your own mind up when it comes to these things. So here are a few reviews I found online, to balance what I wrote about the book:
Dear Author
Reading Lark
There Were Books Involved

Book: Vince’s Life, The Wedding

"Vince's Life: The Wedding"

Vince thinks his life is over when he loses Cat–the girl who turned his life around after Andrea broke his heart. Then his friend Connie drops a bomb on him telling him she’s pregnant and that she wants him to come to her wedding in America–where Andrea is. His first love. Does this mean Vince and Andrea finally get another chance? Or does Vince land an ending that even he never expected?

I don’t know what plans Summit Books has for the series, but I’m really hoping that Vince’s Life as a series ends here. Because this book is perfect.

From the very first book of the series, there’s always a question of whether the events in the books are real. For the most part of Vince’s Life and Getting Over Andrea, I could suspend my disbelief. The Wedding, however, is a totally different story.

There’s a saying that truth is stranger than fiction. And I’d like to believe that for the last book in Vince’s Life. Because–who wouldn’t want a happy ending for characters you’ve gotten attached to? Especially if they’re supposedly real people. But… I don’t know. The book feels a little too clean for me. Of course, that could also be the work of a really great storyteller, and an amazing editor.

Whether or not Vince’s Life is true or not though, it doesn’t change the fact that the three books are very well-written and well-told. Heck, I’d go as far as say that it’s even better than any of the Nicholas Sparks novels I’ve read–save, maybe, for A Walk to Remember.

Whoever came up with the idea of Vince’s Life, the publication of the features to the collating for the book, has to be applauded. This series is literature we, as Filipinos, can be proud of.

I’m really glad that I decided to pick this series up.

And to Vince O. Teves, if you are a real person and the memories you shared with us aren’t fictional, I hope you’re leading a very happy life right now. And thank you.

Book: From This Day Forward

"From This Day Forward"

When a couple gets married, it isn’t just their lives that are thrown into chaos.

For Nicholas and Nala’s wedding, there’s the mother of the bride who is forced to face her failed marriage; the mother of the groom, who revists the past–and an old love; the bride’s best friend who has lost the only boy she thinks she will ever love and with him, all her happiness; the bride’s cousin who fooled around with her boyfriend’s best friend (who inconveniently turns out to be the groom); and the groom’s sister who cannot understand her brother’s choice of a future wife.

Surrounding the bride and groom’s happiness are the heartache, joys, hopes, dreams, and realizations of the people who care about them. It makes you think: does everybody get a chance at happily ever after?

I have an answer to that question. No. Not everybody deserves a chance at happily ever after. Most especialy, not this book.

Okay, so I’m not a chic-lit person. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying Fairy Tale Fail for what it is. This book though–I had to stop midway just so I could debate with myself whether I should continue or just give the book up. I decided to finish the book, if only because it’s not very long.

Notice how I keep saying book and not novel? Because it’s not a novel. It’s not even a novella. It’s a collection of essays and half-assed poems pretending to be a novel that wants to say something. But it doesn’t say anything. It doesn’t even resolve any of its conflicts.

I am truly very annoyed at this book.

No one forced me to buy it and read it, you say? Yes, that is correct. But I bought the book because I wanted to write about it. Because I wanted to promote Filipino works on my blog–which is why I’ve incorporated the Filipino Friday theme into my blog.

I could’ve kept quiet, I know. I could’ve just kept mum about my thoughts about the book. But wouldn’t that be a disservice? I’ve never shied away from writing down my disdain for foreign works, why should a local product get special treatment?

Also, if anyone from Summit Books is reading this, I want them to know that someone in cyberspace is very unhappy with the book they produced.

I don’t have anything against the writer. I didn’t enjoy her Every Girl’s Guide series, but I could argue for those books. I cannot deny that they are novellas, and that they have actual stories with development and characters who go somewhere. From This Day Forward has characters and stories, yes, but neither one goes anywhere. Instead of a story, we just get glimpses of lives lead. Without movement. Static.

Spoiler alert: Save for the married couple, no one gets a happy ending. Especially not the reader.

Summit Books, please be more discriminating with the books you produce. There is a reason why a lot of readers don’t pick up local books. Don’t be part of the reason.

All of these said and done, people over at Good Reads seem to really like the book.

Abroad: New Zealand

New Zealand

I’m sure no one really noticed, but really late last month, I went on a trip out of the country. It was mostly for a wedding, but because of the steep airfare, I decided to go and have a vacation as well. So here goes my story of how I took the ultimate break to New Zealand.

Day 1. A friend and I took an eight-hour flight to Sydney that took ten hours–because of time zone changes. At Sydney, we passed the time (mostly) by talking, but we also browsed the shops. The really expensive shops. No plans on buying anything yet–not with our budget, and with our trip just starting.

From Sydney, we had another three-hour flight to Wellington, our destination, that took four hours–more or less. And the first order of business? Visit Gollum of course! (If you clicked on the link, yes I did cheat–that’s a photo of Gollum when I was leaving New Zealand. I haven’t uploaded the one from when I arrived yet.)

But wait, there’s more. On the day of our arrival, something big was happening at Wellington. A red carpet premiere. Of epic proportions! It’s for The Hobbit! (Okay, so the picture isn’t off the titular hobbit. But again, forgive me for I am lazy with the uploading, and that was the only I have of the red carpet premiere that’s already up somewhere).

We didn’t really get to do much more during our first day. We arrived some time around three in the afternoon, and we headed straight to the premiere. We stood there for hours (until seven, I think), but I didn’t really notice that it was already evening because–surprise–the sun doesn’t set until nine. Seriously.

Our Kiwi friends took us to their homes, fed us, and then it was time to turn in for the night.

Funny thing I learned on my first day in Wellington? Kiwis don’t believe in ghosts. Or the ones I met, anyway.

Day 2. Wait. Can I give you the option of choosing to read the rest of this entry? Let me figure that out for a bit–

Oh, here we go!

Continue reading

Book: A Spot of Bother

"A Spot of Bother" by Mark HaddonThis is a cross-post. How’s that for a disclaimer?

I wrote a guest-blog for “a book a day till i can stay” late last month, for reasons that are said here. And because of the reason for the call to guest-blog, I chose to read and write about Mark Haddon’s A Spot of Bother.

And here goes:

Are you familiar with the term “you can’t choose your family?” I am. And I am reminded of it every time I’m forced to attend dinners, parties, funerals–and the absolute worst: weddings.

(Just a reminder, happily married aunts and uncles, single people don’t like being reminded that they’re single. And for the record, having “you’ll find someone” said to you just makes the situation all the more sad.)

This, I think, is one of the reasons why I related so much to Mark Haddon’s A Spot of Bother, where everything starts falling apart for the Hall family when daughter Katie announces she’s marrying again–to a man no one thinks is right for her.

Read the rest at “a book a day till i can stay.”