Sunday, January 21, 2018

Book Review: It Ends With Us

Did I already say I'm a fan of Colleen Hoover? Her stories are both heart warming and heart wrenching at the same time. When I read her novels, I find myself truly engrossed in the story. So hard to let go of the book until I've read the last chapter that I end up finishing the novel in just one sitting. 

I so love this author that I even joined CoHorts, a Facebook group consisting of Colleen Hoover fans from all over the world and I DO NOT like joining Facebook groups (saved from blogger groups since I want an avenue for promoting my blog posts and connecting with other bloggers). I became a CoHort after reading my very first romance novel from her, Ugly Love. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend you do! 

Anyway, so I wanna tell you about It Ends With Us - my 5th Colleen Hoover novel!

The Plot

Lily hasn't always had t easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up - she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He's also a sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan - her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened. 

What I thought of the book

I so loved this book! This is now my second favorite Colleen Hoover novel next to Maybe Someday.
There were kilig moments and whoa! hot love scene moments, absolute heart wrenching moments and moments that just made me heave a sigh from feeling happy for the characters of the book.

Right from the opening chapters of this book, I was already hooked. I loved Ryle for Lily. I did. I mean at the start I did. What was not to love really? He was a handsome hunk who's also successful in his career and he exuded confidence. I felt their sizzling chemistry. Their little flirting with hints of seduction - I highly enjoyed reading those moments! I guess I have a thing for guys who are good looking flirts, huh? Ha! Ha! Okay, other than those, I loved that he wanted to be with her so much, he was willing to change for her - "What commitment issues?"

I liked their naked truth conversations which is like a confession they do with each other.

Lily: You want to hear a naked truth? I've wanted to go back to your roof on more than one occasion since that night. But I was too scared you'd be there. you make me kind of nervous."

If only we could have naked truth conversations when it comes to relationships. There'd be no guessing game. There'd be no wondering. You'd know what your next step would be. Oh well.

So yeah, I was on Team Ryle at the start. I had no issue with her only knowing him for a few months but already diving into the deep end of the pool into a relationship with him. She liked him. He liked her. Why wait? That's how I am kasi in real life - or how I was... Ha! Ha! Been trying a new approach to love and relationships now since the old, fast-paced way only ever ended with me on the losing end aka heartbreak. It's like the Atlas approach. Slow and easy.

When I first read the title, I thought It Ends With Us simply meant Lily was just going to choose between Ryle or Atlas.

Sometimes the one who loves you is the one who hurts you the most

It hit me what this line really meant with regards to the story as I got deeper into the pages of the book. Without spoiling this book so much for anyone, I just have to say it was heart wrenching. Maybe Someday and Ugly Love also had their share of heart wrenching moments but It Ends With Us for me has to be the most heart wrenching of the three!

Women who are or were in an abusive relationship -  I've heard of stories like that happening in real life and for outsiders, it's easy to judge the women who stay in the relationship or say things like, "Kung ako yan, iniwan ko na yan, matagal na!" or "Naku. Sakin, hindi pwede yung ganun!" 

But if we were ever in their shoes, would we really be able to do it? Make that decision to leave the first sign of abuse?

Lily was one of those women who told herself she was never going to let any guy walk all over her. She was never going to let any guy abuse her... until she found herself in the situation with Ryle. She's gotta be my favorite Colleen Hoover heroine now for being able to have the courage to actually say "Enough" and walk away from her relationship. I mean, I was merely a reader but did I feel every bit of her suffering and struggle. In fact, while I was reading the book, part of me wished she and Ryle would be able to overcome it together since he was very apologetic for ever hurting her. Though that's the naive part of me talking. I know that the stories of women who are victims of domestic violence also told of their respective partners being remorseful after hurting them and so they would be forgiven and given another chance so the cycle repeats itself.

This is such a powerful novel! Colleen has amazed me even more after reading this book.

Photo by: Ryan (@ryaughn)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Wedding Belle

I kicked off the year with a wedding in the family and that's how I found myself in Quezon Province recently. I think a wedding is a good way to start the year, don't you think?

I was part of the entourage as a secondary sponsor in charge of placing the cord on the couple. 

But even if I wasn't part of the entourage, I would have gone with my mother to Quezon anyway just to witness the wedding. It's quite a big occasion. Not just because it's a wedding but because the groom, my cousin, is the eldest among us and the first to tie the knot. 

With the groom, my Kuya Neil

The wedding became a family reunion for us as well with cousins and siblings alike joining the momentous occasion. 

With the best man and younger brother of the groom, Mark

For a time, there was just us three - my Kuya Neil and Mark. I remember them spending summer vacations in Manila with me. Considering I'm an only child, I always looked forward to them coming to Manila because it meant I'd have playmates. My parents didn't like me going out to play with the neighborhood kids back then since they liked playing on the streets. Although it was Mark who played with me more often then. Kuya liked watching TV more than playing!  

After awhile though, the family grew bigger with my other uncles having kids of their own and Kuya Neil and Mark's parents, my aunt and uncle, having another kid.

With my aunt, mom and cousins Ricca, Cathy and Dianne

 Selfie with my younger cousin, Cathy who was also my photographer for the day! Ha! Ha! 

My lovely cousins, Dianne, the maid of honor and Ricca, also a secondary sponsor 

My cousins are all grown up now! I remember when they were just kids. Whenever Ricca, Dianne and Alric would come over to our house for vacation, they'd ask to join Mark and I as we played board games and Mark would always tell them it was for older kids only. Cathy, on the other hand, used to be such a suplada little girl! Whenever her family came over to visit on Christmas or New Year, she'd always have a scowl on her face and that menacing look that said "Stay away from me". Oh and look - they're all taller than I am now!     

My mom also reunited with her siblings and met some of her cousins who came all the way from Pangasinan. Apparently, it has been super long since they last saw each other since she couldn't remember them instantly. My mom, Miss Congeniality, had to be reminded who she was speaking with. "Ako si.... anak ni..."; "Siya si... Anak ni...naalala mo na?" - these were how every conversation started with them. And after awhile, the conversations turned to reminiscing "Naalala niyo, nung bata pa tayo, lagi tayo..." and "Dati di ba nung mga bata pa tayo hilig natin..."  

And of course hindi mawawala yung question, "San yung anak mo?"; "Anlaki na pala, anu? Dalagang dalaga na" and "Ilang taon ka na?" Whenever I heard the latter question and I tell them, "32 po", I found myself bracing for the inevitable follow up questions "May asawa ka na ba, iha?"; "Kelan ka mag-aasawa?"; "May boyfriend ka ba?" specially since I was the second eldest among cousins.

To my surprise, those questions never came up along with statements such as "Mag-asawa ka na. Di ka na bumabata" ; "Dapat magka-asawa ka na. Mahirap na magkaanak habang tumatanda." My relatives were behave! Thank goodness for that!

I'm not close to the bride. Actually considering how rare I went to Quezon, I hardly knew the bride. It was only at their wedding reception where I even found out how their love story began and how long they've actually been together which is a love story 11 years in the making, 9 of which was spent apart since my cousin went to work in Macau. Amazing, isn't it? I guess if your love is strong and the people in the relationship are willing to work on keeping that love alive, it'll stand the test of time.

And because I was all glammed up that day and in my fave color no less... #OOTD!

At the hotel

At the church while we waited for the wedding to start


And at the reception

Now that the eldest among us cousins has settled down and I being the second eldest, am I next to walk down the aisle? Not just yet guys! I still have to meet the guy for me. Of course I hope he's out there somewhere. But until I do find that foot popping kind of love, then, I'm just going to enjoy my life, one #OOTD and adventure at a time. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Making the Golden Switch to Unfrizz

You know those shampoo commercials where they like to feature women with long, straight and silky smooth hairs? I've always wanted that growing up. It's why I was such a fan of hair treatments like rebond, brazilian and keratin blowouts. I also iron my hair to make it straight.

Unfortunately, exposing my hair to so many treatments has left it frizzy and dry and my wallet empty. But even with the state of my hair, I made it even frizzier and drier because I kept on subjecting it to bleaching and hair coloring because I wanted to rock the red hair. My poor, poor hair. 

But what's a girl to do when she still wants to color her hair or have straight hair even from just time to time? Well, Pantene may just have the solution I'm looking for.

These are new from Pantene: Pantene Silky Smooth Care Shampoo and Pantene Silky Smooth Care 3 Minute Miracle Conditioner.

The Pantene Silky Smooth Care Shampoo has a one-of-a-kind moisturizing formulation that cleanses the hair and provides moisture up to 10x frizz protection. It has Keratin Damage Blockers technology that locks in essential moisture and shuts out excess humidity so you get that silky-smooth hair all day long. 

It's best paired with Pantene Silky Smooth Care 3 Minute Miracle Conditioner, which repairs 3-months worth of damage in just 3 minutes and also protects the hair from the damage causing frizz from mechanical, chemical styling and even the environment. It evenly yet thinly wraps around the hair fiber to create an outer shield protection. It repels unwanted particles from depositing on the hair's surface giving hair more strength and makes sure to un-frizz the hair from root to tip. It also uses anti-oxidants called Histidine which gets inside the hair preventing any further damage. It's Pro Vitamin ingredient called Panthenol, penetrates to fill-in voids, further strengthening the hair. Fortified from the inside is there made stronger. 

From what I read, this product line is also great for girls who like to get a new do every now and then as it would protect the hair from being dry, dull and frizzy. With that said, I'm off to the nearest store to buy! Making the golden switch and saying bye bye to my frizzy hair problem!

The Pantene Pro-V Silky Smooth Care Shampoo in 170ml can be purchased for Php115.00 while the 340ml for Php206.00. The Pantene Silky Smooth Care 3 Minute Miracle Conditioner in 180ml can be bought for Php159.00 and the 340ml for Php249.00 at Lazada.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Baby It's Cold Outside! aka The Weekend I Spent in Baguio (Part 2)

The first day of the trip was fun and super tiring! And when night time came, the temperature had dropped lower making it super cold in Baguio! So not a fan of cold weather! I wished for a moment that I had a certain someone's strong arms wrapped around me as he pulls me close to his body so I won't feel so cold but safe and warm. Ay but nauna na nga pala sya magBaguio! Ha! Ha! 

I had to make do with my black parka jacket and the fleece blanket provided by the owner of the transient house we stayed in at to get me through the night. So I made it through the first day of the tour and after getting some much needed rest, I woke up with enough energy for another round of tours and picture taking and patience to deal with the rest of our tour mates. 

First stop: Teachers Camp

Another place in Baguio that I heard is also haunted. It used to be a training camp for American teachers in 1908. I don't know why it's haunted but according to stories, guests staying in the place would often hear a lady crying in one of the cottages; footsteps walking along the hallway and some say there's a headless priest and a white lady haunting the place. 

It doesn't look haunted honestly. In fact, the place is so picture worthy! But again, perhaps it is a different story when night time comes around. 

Okay so for the second day of our trip, I wore: a For Me top over my black Bershka parka paired with my Uniqlo culottes. As for my shoes, well I only brought one pair which is the Skechers Go Walk. Luckily, the shoes lives up to its claim of being comfy.

Second stop: Botanical Garden

Third stop: Wright Park


Fourth Stop: The Mansion

This is just right across Wright Park. Since I don't recall visiting the place before, I asked Hazel to go - this was after returning to our tour van and finding out yet again that we were the first ones to get there and the rest of the folks were still milling around. I thought we'd make them wait naman this time around even if only for a few minutes since we've been doing the waiting all day the first day!

So The Mansion is the official summer palace of the President of the Philippines. I think this is kind of like the Camp David version of US.

This ube taho is lurrrrrve! While I liked the taste of strawberry taho, this ube flavored one delighted my sweet tooth more. This was also my first time to try ube. I didn't want to try it out initially because I'm not a fan of ube but the night before at Christmas Village, I had to because I was super hungry already and we hadn't had dinner. There was an abundance of taho vendors in the area and so hot taho on a cold night plus hunger pangs resulted in me eating this ube flavored one.

I found another taho vendor selling it around The Mansion House area and I was hungry again so I helped myself to this before we finally made our way back to the van.

Fifth Stop: Camp John Hay

So actually the fifth stop was at Mines View Park. I've been there before as well so when Hazel said she wasn't going to explore the place and was staying in the van, I chose to stay as well. We were supposed to also have lunch in the area according to the schedule but the place was packed with tourists! So Hazel and I agreed we'd have lunch when we got to Camp John Hay instead.

We ate at Mile Hi Diner. It's kind of this cute retro themed restaurant from the 1950's.


It even has a jukebox! Though it's just a display. It would've been pretty cool if it could still play music. Oh well. The food was okay. Nothing special.

I've stayed in the Mile Hi hotel in Camp John Hay when I was still working for an events company. I remember that because my workmates claimed the place is haunted. One of my work colleagues even had a nightmare. I did remember hearing someone crying from the outside but like I said non believer so I chucked it off to another hotel guest staring out the window crying loudly. But they were all like it's a spirit because the view outside of our hotel room were just trees and no ground to stand or sit on so it was impossible for someone to be crying outside. I also recall hearing footsteps in our ceiling. The upstairs of the hotel were mostly outlet stores but it was the middle of the night by then so the stores were closed. Still I thought well could just be someone doing inventory.

Last stop: Philippine Military Academy

So finally we had just one more stop before we were set to go back to Manila! I also remember staying around the area of PMA when I was a kid. I think someone from my family had a friend there so that's where we stayed. It was raining non stop that time and so it was really cold. Safe to say I did not have good memories of PMA after that!

But a second visit to the place years later changed that. PMA's actually a beautiful and so peaceful. Everyone else were taking photos around the tanks displayed but who cares about war vehicles when there's this beautiful scenery?

So that's my Baguio weekend adventure. Question now: Would I do it again? Absolutely! I'd go back to Baguio again BUT not on a tour! Never gonna do one of those group tours ever again. I said that about my Ilocos adventure as well but I just had to give it one more try.

What did I learn from this trip?

1) I am not a public group tour person. Nope! Uh-uh! The most exhausting part of the trip was not the number of places we visited. It was having to do tourist-y stuff shortly after arriving in Baguio. No taking a quick shower. No washing up or brushing your teeth. I prefer we arrive and settle in our hotel first. Get cleaned up. Rest a little bit. Then let's go! Go! Go!

2) I have no casual clothes. I realized this when I was planning what to wear for my trip. I thought I should wear jeans but then my two pairs sadly no longer fits me well. It's not because I gained weight ha! Actually quite the opposite. I've lost a good amount of weight and both jeans are now loose fitting. I also don't have a lot of casual tops or shoes! My closet is brimming with work clothes and gym clothes. I have a lot of heels and a couple of slippers. Thankfully I remembered that Ryan gave me Skechers Go Walk as a Christmas gift before so I had something to wear. 

3) I enjoyed having Hazel and Gab as travel buddies. I have to say I greatly appreciated Hazel's patience with me as I made her my photographer and sometimes had her and Gab holding my bag and jacket so I can pose for a photo. Ha! Ha!

Also I like that Gab was such a trooper! No tantrums. No complaints.

And so that wraps up my Baguio weekend adventure. Next stop: Iloilo 2018!