Scribbling and Highlighting

I sometimes tutor English, and a couple of weeks ago, I was trying to find a fun way for a couple of girls to get more out of their reading assignment.

I used to have to read quite a lot when I was in college, but I don’t remember ever having any trouble getting everything I needed out of it. I’ve always been able to totally immerse myself in what I’m reading.

I didn’t know how to help them.

So, I went searching through the internet for other people having this same problem, and I stumbled upon a video of a girl explaining her method for annotating her textbooks (and, as it always happens to me, I can’t find it again to share the link with you). It was simple color-coding highlighter thing. There isn’t really much to it, but it was a great idea. Of course, this video led me down an endless rabbit hole (as most things on the internet usually do) of people highlighting their books. All sort of books.

Even novels! There they are, people who deface books for fun. Scandalous!

It made me think. It never really occurred to me that highlighting my books was even an option. But I’ve actually been doing it for a while… on my eBooks.

It all started with trying to keep track of my favorite parts to share with you, but then I added a new color for words I’m not familiar with. Like a record of the new word I just learned.

Then, a couple of weeks ago while reading Packing for Mars, I added another color to help myself with a couple of references I wasn’t familiar with.

And now, without realizing it, I have created my own complicated annotating method. I annotate my books too! How crazy is that!!

I think I would love to try this with my paper books.  Maybe I will start with simply a pencil. I remember when I was in college, and one of the best things about using library books was the tiny unexpected notes I would find on the edges of the pages. I imagine it would be even better if the person whose impressions you re trying to decipher is yourself.

How about you?

Do you scribble in your books? or fill them up with post-it notes?

Fill me in on your method, or your reasons to keep your books pristine.


Collecting words

Have I mentioned how I love words?

There are always new words out there to learn and be amazed at. One of the many reasons I wish I could speak an innumerable amount of languages is to learn and collect all these words.
This is also one of the reasons I really enjoyed Melissa Grey‘s writing in The Savage Dawn, she freely and openly gave out the words and their meaning.

I love this about this book. I might have to go through all my books marking all my favorite word, from now on.

Do you also gather up your favorite words?

Maybe even label them with post-its?

Love triangles

Allow me to indulge in some book-related rambling…

I’ve noticed that there’s this plot device that is becoming more and more popular in recent years. This is the love triangle.

Of course, this is not something new, an I’m not saying it is… but it feels like lately, it is everywhere. Even where it was completely unnecessary.

I find that, in my experience, there are three kinds of love-triangle:

  1. Where there is lying. I hate lying. I hate when the story spends many pages exulting or excusing the betrayal and the breaking of trust from one character to another. It doesn’t matter if it is old-fashioned cheating or if it’s magically induced, or as simple as forgetting to mention there’s a boyfriend.
  2. Where it’s all about timing and circumstance. Ok, there’s always room for attenuating circumstances. I can endure and even start to enjoy a love story when new events or circumstances change one of the character’s life view so much that the relationships they had before start to feel like they don’t fit anymore.
  3. Where there’s enough love to go around. I’ve only seen this kind once, in Mal de Amores, where one person can love two different people, precisely because they are different. And there was no drama, no fights, and no jealousy. This is the kind of love triangle I think we should see more of, and I even expected it where I didn’t get it.

Of course, almost all of these are based on the most popular 2-boys-one-girl set up. And, while this is popular and it’s supposed to reflect women’s liberation, I think it shows a lack of imagination and a serious case of narrow-mindedness. At least in my opinion.

Please, if you know of any different setups, do recommend me some. there is nothing more refreshing than originality.

Heart & Mind

I’ve always been fascinated with the human mind and how the brain works. it is such a complex and intricate machine/organ. I’ve read many books and articles, and watched many documentaries about the brain, about brain surgeries and mind disorders. i just find it all so interesting and compelling.

One of the things that I’ve learned about this, and that has changed the way I se many things, is about the contrasting and cooperating halves of our brains. I like to think about it like a set of conjoined twins: each one has it’s own roles and jobs, but they are both always ready to pick up the slack should there be a need.

Just imagine it. At this moment, each side of your brain is doing its own thing. One side of your brain does all the math, and the other makes you cry at the end of sad movies . You use one side of your brain when you write a letter, but the other when you listen to music.

One side is linked to creativity, impulses, and emotions; and, the other one, to rational thought, and the interpretation of symbols (basic for reading and writing).

So, it came as no surprise when I realize that I feel more emotionally attached to stories when I’m only listening to them. It takes more of a toll on me, when I’m listening to an audio-book and I feel more invested in the characters and their lives, than I do when I’m actually reading the same book.

But, at the same time, I find it hard to remember where exactly in the story I was, and the precise way in which something was said. This doesn’t happen when I’m reading  book, printed or electronic. If I can see the words, I am most likely to remember it.

I guess this is way I work well with a paper planner. I always feel more comfortable with remembering things if i can write them down and see them written somewhere, no matter where… even if it is just on a post-it that i’m going to loose at any moment.

This would also explain why I like to have both, the audio and the printed version of my favorite books…

Does the same thing happen to you?

Have you notice a difference in how you enjoy books if they come in print or in audio?


Gods & religion

Religions, in my experience, are often a touchy subject with most people. Finding a middle ground, where no one feels offended nor dismissed, is always hard and stressing for me.

Strangely, I’ve never had a problem with books that use religions, be it a real one or fictitious, to embellish the story.

I have known people who think most stories that involve the disenchantment with religion to be a criticism of the Catolic Church, and while that may be truth in many of the cases, I also think that religion can simply be a tool to explore self-discovery.

I usually find it hard not to be amazed by stories that can add such complexity to their universe as to create and present a whole new religion, even when I can feel or see the references to real life ones.

I have read some great books this year that included complex religious structures within the society where they developed. There was The Left Hand of God, with their Hanged Man, that showed us a violent monastery who took  young boys out of their homes at a very young age, only to be trained as merciless and swift killers/soldiers.

There was also Seraphina, with all these holy being that turned out to be dragon-human hybrids that, in a power-hungry rampage, ended up making themselves into deities.

And just now, there was His Fair Assassin. With the gods of old age, being assimilated to the new church by turning them into saints. This is what I want to delve into.

I am a firm believer that all art can -and often does- offer the most honest criticism of our society. And I think the journey of this three convent-raised girls is a clear example.

The first girl, who finds herself doubting her church but never her God… And who discovers that it is possible to be devoted without being a mindless follower.

The second girl, whose harsh life makes her doubt the existence of God… And who finds faith even among the worst horrors of human nature, in the little things and the good people who can be found everywhere.

And, then there’s the third girl… Who never doubts her church, nor her God. She’s filled with an absolute conviction for both, even when everything else seems uncertain. It is precisely her unwavering faith that helps her go in search of the right path in her life, even if it means leaving behind everything she knows.

I grew up in a somewhat religious household, with parents who were raised by very religious people. It took me many many years to find myself and my own page when it came to spiritual matters, and it took me even more years for it not to be a subject of argument and grudges with my family.

Dutifng those long years, I met many people that had some of the same doubts I had, and some others… But I also met those who had none at all, and those where the ones I envied. I think these girls are one of the best portrayals there is for this. And this may be one of the main reason why Inloved this series so much.

Another thing that I found most interesting in books that involve religion, are all this deities that come from natural things. Gods of love, light, water, death… Also one of the reasons I love ancient history when Inwas in school.

To talk about the characteristics and ritual that people would preserve when they pray to the mysteries of the world can be one of the most interesting things. How can we express our gratitude for the rain that waters our crops? How can you worship the sunlight that illuminates you days? Or the tree that cures your illnesses? Or whatever force kept you from falling sick at all! Or helped you survive the winter…

Who can really say that there isn’t a god-like entity who watches us and decides the outcome of Wars? Who decides what kind of natural forces can be considered God-like?

All these ideas and imaginings can -and have, I suppose- fill many many books. And I will continue to enjoy reading them to discovers what other can imagine.


Unhappy endings 

(This post is full of spoilers for Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. If you haven’t read both the books from that series, I would seriously recommend you don’t read this. If you’ve read them and don’t agree with my opinions, please, feel free to say so. I would seriously enjoy knowing what others thought of this) 

Have you ever had a book ending going circles in your head all night?

I couldn’t stop thinking about Shadow Scale‘s ending. Seraphina, the main character, ends up all alone and kind is stranded among the remains of her old life.

Or, at least, that’s what it felt like to me…

My first thought, after Queen Grisselda confessed her love for Seraphina and her cryptic words afterwards, was to think that maybe they would end up, together with Prince Lucian Kiggs, in a non-traditional three-way marriage/relationship where they all three loved each other equally.

I think that would have made more sense to me, but I also understand that would have tipped this books out of the YA category into the Adult section… So I guess that was too much to ask for.

But then… And idea came to me… Something that I think would have also made sense, if expanded upon.

At the end of the story, to free her friends (and basically everyone else) from the mental influence of Jannoula, Seraphina manages to free her mind powers by stepping out of herself… Or at least that’s how she explains it… And by doing so, she manages to feel the life energy (or mind fire, or soul light, or whatever you want to call it) of everyone everywhere.

And she is specific enough to explain that she means…

everyone, everywhere.

Not just within the city she’s standing outside of, but people in far away places, too. And it fills her with wonderment, understandably, but also with love. Love for everyone everywhere, I’m assuming.

Later on, while she’s recovering for the confrontation, Prince Lucian says something that kept bothering me, and in many other circumstances I would have consider it a horrendous thing to say to the girls you’re supposedly in love with… He says, that in all that display of power and energy, for a moment, he felt he loved Jannoula.

As in, the same way he and the queen love Seraphina? As in, everything they think they feel is a byproduct of her being a half-breed and not of their free and honest will?

And if she will for ever feel the echo of this connection to everything and everyone that she felt while she was one with the universe… Does that mean she will forever more be able to feel this unlimited love for all living beings? Would that take away her ability to love one single man completely and selfishly?

That WOULD make her saintly… wouldn’t it? Would it show with her insistence that Kiggs marries his cousin, Queen Grisselda? (which stills sounds highly incestuous to me, not so much for the fact that they are family, but mostly because they actually grew up together)

Even when Dame Okra Carmine confronts Seraphina about her feelings about the wedding party (that she not only attends, but plays and helps plan!), and the obvious necessity that the future of the royal bloodline will eventually bring along… she’s very flippant about it all. And it doesn’t feel like an I’m strong, I can do this kind of thing. She honestly seems unable to care much about it. Detached. Would that be a symptom of her inability to be selfish about her emotional needs?

And then, there was the lost of her uncle, Orma. We are very clearly made aware that he might not be lost for good, and that there’s hope of getting him back. but we never know about the fate of Seraphina‘s father. The has just been a war, and dragons were falling out of the sky in flames… and she never even wonders about her father and his family?


What do YOU make of all this?

Sick days

I spent the whole weekend lying in bed, writhing in pain.

Ok. It wasn’t really that bad, it was just a really bad stomachache. A really, really bad stomachache. I did manage to get up a few times and drink some tea and mostly slept. Every couple of hours, I would wake up without really feeling like getting up… And I used those random times to read.

SickI came to one conclusion… Not all kinds of reading are the same when you’re sick.

Being sick is a horribly depressing thing. You feel weak, slow and heavy. And on top of that, there’s all the things that I cannot eat. That’s always the worst part of it all for me: No coffee and no bacon.

I don’t care what my doctor says, bacon (and all friend stuff) is the meaning of life. Eating “healthy” stuff ONLY is a nightmare.

That’s why you need something happy and cheerful that can lighten you up and help you feel better, when you feel sick and sad. Something funny, with lots of happy interactions or action and fighting that can let you loose track of the story and go back to sleep at any moment… Only to pick it back up when next you wake up.

There should be a section in bookstores for books to read when you are sick.


What do you like to read when you’re feeling sick?

How good is good?

I’ve never considered myself to be very good with words, to be honest. I’m mostly the kind of person that answers questions with the expressions on my face, or the movements of my hands. That’s why emojis have always been my great friends.

So, after I had some trouble describing my thoughts about my last read , I felt it might be time to find a better way to relate my feelings about the things I read. Of course I fell back on some cartoonish faces to help me get my message across.

So, here is the plan:



For the absolute favorites. Those that I will read, and re-read and collect and insist that everyone must read for years to come.




For the ones I really enjoyed and might re-read , depending on my mood. The ones I definitely recommend, but will not be obsessing about.


Not apt for public consumption


For the ones full of steamy pages that you don’t wanna be caught up on while at work or when surrounded my strangers at some public place.




For the ones that were quite enjoyable, but either didn’t match my expectations or were simply not my cup of tea. Other might enjoy them, but I will definitely put them away and forget about them.


So confusing


For the ones that left me just wondering what the hell happened, or had to be re-read and re-read by sections to be able to keep up. They requiere your full attention.




For the one that end up being definitely disappointing. Definitely didn’t enjoy it and would most likely not recommend it, but I’m open to changing my mind by other people’s arguments.


Have tissues close by


For the ones that made me cry. As simple as that. Not necessarily sad dramatic stories, but that have that one chapter that had me reaching for the box of tissues.




For the one I definitely hated it. It might even lower my opinion of others who say having enjoyed it. Will most likely rant about all the things and reason why  I hated them.


Had to put it down, couldn't stand it


For those, hopefully few and far between, that just couldn’t be endured and had to be put away and out of sight so as not to drive me crazy.



To the left, you can check out the 1-5 rating scale that I came up with, with some extras thrown in for good measure. Hopefully, it is simple enough, that I’ll have no problem using it without having to check out this post again and again for reference.

Chapter 13

All this talk and detailed talk about the canvas that makes The Hab is making me nervous. Strange thing when I have a pretty good idea of how this story’s ought to go after watching the movie.

To me, this a sign of how invested I am with the character and the story. My stomach knots more and more with every line of Mark Watney‘s log where he is unaware that something’s going on with his house!!

Must keep going (biting nails)…

Refining my goals

I have been thinking long and hard about it… the audio vs print dilemma.

I kept going back to that statistics I told you about at the beginning of the year, and how shocking I found that my countrymen can’t or won’t read more books. I guess the main difficulty for most people would be finding the free time to do so… with work, errands, cooking, cleaning, keeping a house, pets and/or children! It CAN be hard to find the moment to sit down and enjoy a good book.

For me, the point of reading is all about enjoying a good story, to allow my mind to fly away from me and travel to other places and meet other people that might not even be real… I still enjoy it all. So, to me, there’s very little difference if I read the words on the page, or if someone else reads the story to me.

But… The point of this year’s goal, is to show that books are not the enemy, they won’t suck the little remaining energy you have at the end of the day right out of you… On the contrary, they relax you, they can help empty your head of all concerns and worries that buzz around non-stop and keep you up at night. Books can fight off stress and help you sleep easier.

Books are your friends.

And they don’t really requiere you to drop everything else that normally occupies your day, or even take away much time from a busy schedule. All you need is to wait for the end of the day, find a comfortable position (or place), and let your mind drift through a couple of pages every night and before you know it, you would have finished a book and be looking forward to a new one.

And so, I ended up deciding to split my read-list between audio and print. And that meant going back and recounting the books that I read vs the ones I listened to last year, to see how many would be this year’s objective (remember, it has to be at least one more than last year).

This year’s goal: 21 books.

Chaol Westfall

A couple of day ago I saw online someone complaining about all the pity parties the Chaol Westfall character gets for trying to save his prince from the thing that has taken over his body and now controls him, in spite of how everyone tell him he is lost for good.

And I did bad-mouthed him some, so I fell compelled to say that it is not his stubbornness regarding to keeping Dorian Havilliard alive that makes it so unlikable for the latest book, it was the fact that it was actions that led his friend to be trapped as he was. He abandoned him.

As a matter of fact, the fact that he would sacrifice everything and everyone for his friend, might be the last good thing he has going for him… as misguided as he might be.

For the first two books, I was totally into him. Even after the death of Nahemia, I thought Celaena had overreacted and it was her grief that has turned against Chaol.

And she might have, but it was his refusal to accept her as she was that really broke them apart. He wanted (and did fall) to love a girl as he constructed her in his head, not as she was. When she goes on a killing spree for him, he’s frightened by what she can do instead of seeing it as what she would do to the world for him.

He loved her, and she was not the girl he loved. But the worst part is that she never deceived him. She never hid anything from him. His delusion was all of his own making.

He tried so desperately to keep his honor, that he turned blind to everything that was wrong. Even dooming his own best friend in the process.

That is what made Chaol Westfall unlikable, at least in my eyes.

Unlikable, but not unredeemable.