Between darkness and light

(Miraflores – Lima, Peru. Circa 2014).

“We go through life walking in the immense darkness of unknown realities with a little flashlight in our hands, imagining that only what our little light makes visible is real. We generally see and experience only an infinitesimally small sliver of what actually exists and remain strictly within the confines of what our tiny light illumines. The true power of life does not lie within the confines of our tiny light, but in the immense darkness of unknown realities that are the greater story of our lives. 

Our lives are much more immense than we know, and connected to vast currents of hidden influences and possibilities. But we must stretch out into the darkness with the full measure of our longing, and surrender to the greater unknown context of our lives in order to begin to embrace and be embraced by a Love that is awaiting our invitation. And it is not only an invitation in word but also in deed—the act of offering our Being and the fullness of our lives to the darkness of the unknown currents—eternal possibilities that we cannot control but must instead invite with heartfelt surrender.” 

— Adyashanti

I read this quote a few days ago and I just felt the message it conveys is too important not to share. Once we unveil our perspective on life and realize there are so many greater things beyond what we know — it helps us realize that our problems aren’t as devastating as we thought, while also providing a sense of hopefulness we all need during times like these ❤

Review: Six Of Crows

Six Of Crows follows the story of a group of teen misfits led by Kaz Brekker, also known as Dirtyhands — because no job is too dirty or too dangerous for him. They embark on an impossible mission that requires breaking into the world’s most secured prison, the reward being a sum of money beyond their craziest dreams. Except that things don’t go as planned.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading it. I was confused during the first few chapters, trying to remember the names of the characters and places. Not to mention, I was completely clueless on what a Grisha is so I had to Google it, even though it’s later explained in the book.

Wow. I was completely mind-blown. This book is action-packed, the plot has so many turns — my heart was racing during the last two sections. I loved how it’s written from the perspective of different characters. Even though it’s in the third person, it felt very close. The backstories are detailed and enable us to learn more about these characters and empathize with them, despite their actions. Oh and let’s not forget the three romantic relationships that are developed through out the story, each different but equally lovely!

My only critique is how everything had a solution. Yes, Kaz is clever and was always a step ahead. But in reality, sometimes things go wrong and there’s no plan to back it up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a negative person wishing for some catastrophe to occur. But if some of the events wouldn’t have been fully solved, it would’ve felt more tangible.

Regardless, I highly recommend this book. And even though I haven’t read Shadow and Bone yet, I’ll start watching the show on Netflix. I will, however, read the rest of the Grishaverse books as soon as I get the chance!

Rating: 4/5

“The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.” 

Leigh Bardugo, Six Of Crows

The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall

This is the first time I read a book by Anne Brontë. I’ve enjoyed the works of her sisters, so I had high expectations for this one. And it did not disappoint, on the contrary, I didn’t expect to like it this much. The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall follows the story of Gilbert Markham, who becomes fascinated by Helen Graham, a beautiful and mysterious woman who has just moved into Wildfell Hall. He quickly becomes her friend and is the first to refute local gossip that questions her character and behavior. However, he soon has reasons to regret his infatuation, and doubts begin to arise in his mind. Only when Helen gives Gilbert her diary and tells him to read it, he finally learns the shocking truth about her life.

It’s not a really love story (even though we see how Gilbert and Helen fall in love with each other, it’s not the focus of the novel). The story is rather about detrimental love that explores the role of women in marriage and how they were expected to act in certain ways due to the standards of society. Except that the heroine, Helen, is unwilling to tolerate negligence and takes action on her own.

Bear in mind that it was published in 1848, receiving negative reviews for the realistic way of depicting controversial topics such as alcoholism, psychological abuse and adultery. Anne was bold for addressing these issues and placing the main character at a crossroad.

I liked the epistolary format, as the events are described through Gilbert’s letters and Helen’s diary. Both of the characters were easy to empathize with. What surprised me was that some parts of the plot were actually fast-paced for a classic novel, since most classics are generally character driven.

Anne’s writing style was remarkable, I think she’s now my favorite Brontë sister. However, I was expecting the end to be a bit different. It felt that part could either been shorter or focused more on the relationship between Gilbert and Helen. Besides that, it’s a must-read! Specially if you’ve enjoyed Jane Eyre and/or Wuthering Heights.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

“Smiles and tears are so alike with me, they are neither of them confined to any particular feelings: I often cry when I am happy, and smile when I am sad.”

Anne Brontë, The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin is the third book in the ACOTAR series. To be honest, when I started the first book, I never expected to like the story and the characters so much. I don’t think words can describe how much I loved the first two books, and this one was no exception.

Here’s the synopsis: Feyre will bring vengeance. She has left the Night Court – and her High Lord – and is playing a deadly game of deceit. In the Spring Court, Tamlin is making deals with the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees, and Feyre is determined to uncover his plans. But to do so, she must weave a web of lies, and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre but for her world as well. As mighty armies grapple for power, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places. But while war rages, it is her heart that will face the greatest battle.

So far, the books I’ve read in the series have had a good balance between being character-driven stories and fast-paced plots. A Court of Wings and Ruin is even faster-paced than the previous ones since there’s a war unleashing. And not everything is what it seems. The unpredictable turns and twists of events made it a remarkable read.

I loved getting to know new characters. Some of the High Lords from the other courts were briefly mentioned in previous books, but they finally took shape and form thanks to the detailed descriptions of both their appearances and personalities. We also get to know more about Tamlin’s motives. As much as he’d hurt Feyre in the past, I believe Tamlin deserves redemption. All the characters have made poor choices one way or another, and Tamlin’s isn’t much worse. He’s not my favorite character either, but he’s certainly no longer the villain and his actions in this book are proof of that.

Another aspect I enjoyed was getting to know Nesta more. I despised her in the first book, she seemed selfish and obnoxious. But here we realize that it’s just a wall she’s been putting up. I’m not saying she’s the opposite, the coldness is inherent to her, but she’s not a bad person either. I cannot wait until I read a Court Of Silver Flames. In this book, you can tell already that there’s a ton of chemistry between Nesta and Cassian — only that chemistry likely seems to be rather explosive.

Last but not least, Feyre and Rhysand continue to surprise me. No wonder they’re mates, they think just the same and are willing to sacrifice themselves while at the same time do whatever it takes to save each other. They’re not trying to win for glory, they’re following what their heart dictates. They both gave me Gryffindor vibes in that aspect — the type of bravery that doesn’t go unnoticed.

In the meantime, I’ll be taking a break from ACOTAR. I know there are two books I have yet to read, even though the main trilogy finished with this one. The next books focus on other characters, and I’m looking forward to reading them. However, I want to get my hands on physical copies of English editions. And since local libraries currently don’t have them in stock and Amazon is doing limited shipping to my country, I’ll just have to wait.

If you haven’t read the series yet, I hight suggest you do. Not to mention, the author Sarah J. Maas recently shared on Instagram that the ACOTAR series will be made into a TV show. It’s worth that hype, that’s all I can say.

Overall rating: 5/5

“It’s a rare person to face who they are and not run from it – not be broken by it.” 

Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Wings and Ruin

Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails over the country club

Hi there! Today’s post is a bit different. I don’t talk much about music here, even though music plays an important part in my life. And one singer, in particular: Lana Del Rey.

I first heard of Lana Del Rey back in 2012, with her single Born To Die. Honestly, I didn’t really like her music back then. I found it utterly slow and dull. But something in me shifted a year later when I decided to listen to the entire Born To Die album. Only then did I took in the lyrics and found beauty in the slow rhythm that accompanied them. I became a fan ever since, eagerly waiting for the release of her following albums.

I was highly anticipating her latest album, Chemtrails Over The Country Club, which was released last week. Lana is known for her melancholic lyrics. And while the tunes in this album remain slow, I feel like we’re actually listening to Elizabeth Grant, not just Lana Del Rey. There’s a tinge of hopefulness and optimism that wasn’t present in her previous work.

I loved the literary references Lana did for some of her songs. The track Not All Who Wander Are Lost is titled after a verse from J.R.R. Tolkien’s poem from The Lord of The Ring. The song Chemtrails Over The Country Club starts with “I’m on the run with you, my sweetheart”, alluding to Clarissa Pinkola’s book Women Who Run With The Wolves. It becomes even more obvious in the music video where Lana appears with a wolf by her side. Not to mention, she also connects some songs with her previous album, like in the track Yosemite when she sings “No more candle in the wind” referencing to the song Mariner’s Apartment Complex. It felt like a continuation.

Lana Del Rey is one of the most underrated artists of this past decade. I have yet to read her poetry book titled ‘Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass’. But her lyrics by themselves already feel like poetry. And her latest album was no exception — velvet melodies, a work of art.

Review: Herbarium, Las flores de Gideon

Herbarium, Las flores de Gideon begins with Sarah returning to Oxford following her father’s death. She had moved to Brasilia five years ago after her father told her an unexpected truth about her past, which caused her to run away. During her stay in Oxford, she visits her grandmother, who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s, and staying at a retirement home. Her grandma asks for her help to find Gideon’s flowers that are hidden in copies of Jane Eyre. Sarah doesn’t understand what this means, and while looking for an explanation, she realizes the only person who can help her is Liam, her ex. She didn’t expect the friendliest welcoming on his part, but the distant and cold behavior he shows instead confuses and hurts her more than she had expected. The deeper she digs, the more she realizes that there are parts of her past she can’t run away from and that to make amends, she must stop escaping.

I had a love-hate relationship with this book. I loved it because the plot was very intricate and well-developed. At first, nothing makes sense, but as Sarah begins to learn the correlation between events, it becomes easier to understand what’s going on. Not to mention, I found the analyses of Jane Eyre captivating and how the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester could be seen as an analogy between Sarah and Liam. Also, I love flowers, and since this book discusses flowers and their meaning, I don’t think I have to explain why I enjoyed the story so much.

I would love to give this book five stars, but I can’t. I found the writing style to be rather plain. The first half of the story is written in first person from Sarah’s perspective. The second half is written in third person since it describes Liam’s perspective somewhat more. I did not see the point in doing this. The entire story could have been written in third person, perhaps except for Gideon’s chapters.

Some parts of the novel felt rather cliché, predictable and redundant. I couldn’t relate to the main characters, since almost all of their problems have roots in miscommunication, which made them appear more immature than they were supposed to. The ending was resolved too quickly, like all of a sudden the characters are living happily ever after, but there are no specific details into how that was achieved. Oh, and let’s not forget about the stereotype with the tea. I’ve never visited the UK, though it’s universal knowledge that the British love drinking tea. However, I think the author over-did it a bit.

Even though it did not meet my overall expectations, it was an entertaining read. It had the potential to be five star worthy. I believe it could make an excellent movie or series.

Rating: 3/5