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BLOG TOUR: Pillow Talk by Alyssa Cataluna

Monday, April 5, 2021

I am not very fond of reading poetry, and I've just divulged this information in my philmyth readathon tbr, but I have always enjoyed reading poems made by people that I may not know personally, but I know even on a surface level. This is, I guess, my very first review of a poetry book here on my blog so go easy on me.

Title: Pillow Talk
Author: Alyssa Cataluna
Published by: Self-Published
Published on: April 4, 2021
Format: E-book
Rating: 4.5 ✨ (5 stars on goodreads)


A collection of poems carefully picked to describe my teenage years while suffering from Bipolar II Disorder.
When I first made this booklet, I initially had a more pessimistic theme in mind. I had wanted it to be the anti-thesis of the "Love Conquers All" idea that had gotten popular in the mainstream.
But as I got older, I realized that it described the vicious cycle that I was stuck in. I noticed this pattern while I curated my poems for my booklet--my strongest poems were often written at my best or at my worst.
But it's never one or the other, it's a slow transition. Like I said, a cycle.
The poems in this booklet were a manifestation of my symptoms. It's not perfect, and it's a whirlwind of emotions but I hope you grow to appreciate the vulnerability like I did.

Trigger Warning: Depression, suicide ideation, and self-harm

* * *

It's not easy having people know your innermost feelings and desires and I admired Ysa for putting her thoughts down and sharing it to the world, which, I think is important now more than ever. Pieces like Pillow Talk could find someone who shares the same emotion and find solace in Alyssa's writing.

This poetry booklet is heart-wrenching and raw. It feels as if a friend is pouring her heart out to me with nothing but her mind, her world, herself.

PILLOW TALK noun (n)
Private conversations, endearments, or confidences exchanged in bed or intimate circumstances between spouses or lovers.

Now, one might mistake, from the title alone that this poetry book is a conversation of love, but it's more of a one sided conversation, a one person letting you know her thoughts, not to the person she is talking to, but to her notes, on her paper, only on her mind. 

One of my favorite poems in this collection is titled, AGAIN, because I feel like it's what every person falling in love feels like -- like they could do anything, be anything, and make something -- yet there's an overwhelming feeling of an ending looming...

As I went on to read this in one sitting, let me tell you how I felt, because that's what poems are for, right? For me this felt like a song that started mellow, trying to tell you who she is and baring to you how she is then you came and she came with her walls down and by this point the song picks up its pace along with my heart, which is now racing because her love is an overwhelming emotion and I can feel it. Now it's ending... it's ending and all her thoughts run free inside a cage she has no way of getting out, and then it ended. I really thought there was more and the abrupt end got me, like what? I thought there would be a few more pages. Well, I stared at the wall for a few more minutes after the fifth.

Lastly, this book is bared emotions and you'll feel like you're inside her heart and you'll be all her physical manifestations of what's happening inside her mind, so please heed the warnings that were thankfully included before the start.

Thank you, Ysa, for sharing your art and for sharing your heart. ♥️


Alyssa Cataluña, the author of PILLOW TALK, is a bookish content creator from Cebu, Philippines. She likes to illustrate portraits in her free time and aspires to be an Audiobook Narrator in the future. She also writes poetry, apparently.



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BOOK REVIEW: Anina ng mga Alon by Eugene Y. Evasco

Friday, March 12, 2021

Nakita mo na ba ang mundo sa labas ng iyong mundong ginagalawan?

Ako, hindi pa gaano at hindi pa lahat, at kaya ako nagbabasa'y dahil sa pagkukulang ng aking mata na makita at malaman ang hinaing at problema ng mga taong wala sa bilog na aking ginagalawan.

Nang mabasa ko ang Anina ng mga Alon, lalong umigting ang aking paniniwala na sa pagbabasa, makikita mo ang mundo sa mata ng iba't ibang tao, at sa librong ito, nakita ko at nadama ang mundo sa mata ng mga Badjao — ang kanilang pamumuhay at ikinabubuhay, ang ganda ng kanilang kultura at paniniwala, at ang kanilang pagmamahal at pagrespeto sa karagatan na nagbibigay ng kanilang mga pangangailangan.

Title: Anina ng mga Alon
Author: Eugene Y. Evasco
Published by: Adarna House Inc. (2nd Edition)
Published On: 2014
Format: Paperback, 114 pages (won from a giveaway by Kat)
Rating: 4.75 ✨(5 on goodreads)


Isang Badjao si Anina, lumaki sa piling ng mga alon. Kabisado niya ang mga awit at damdamin nito tulad ng isang kaibigan. Bilang kabataan, nasa edad siya ng paghahanap ng kaniyang sarili sa komplikadong mundong kaniyang ginagalawan. Ngunit paano nga ba ang maging katutubo at mahuli sa gitna ng kahirapan at karahasan?

Samahan si Anina sa kaniyang pangangarap, paglalakbay, at pagkamulat sa katotohanang kahabi ng kaniyang buhay bilang Badjao. Sa kuwento ni Anina, makikilala rin ang isang mayamang kultura ng mga katutubong namumuhay sa karagatan at hindi pa ganap na nauunawaan ng karamihan. (From Goodreads)

*   *   *
I will give you an everyday scenario as I commute daily to and from work and an actual same scenario from when I was studying in Manila for college.

For a 10-30 minute ride in a jeepney along the major roads of Manila and Cavite:

  • One kid will give you ang pao with letter asking for a few coins from your pocket for he is hungry.
  • One father complete with papers and all will ask you to give alms for his son is sick in the hospital
  • One mother with a baby would give out her hand asking you for money or food for the baby is hungry.

One of them is a Badjao whom we rarely, if not at all, interact with. Maybe you gave her a few of your coins or maybe you didn't, but at some point in your life, here is what you've heard about them: THEY CAME HERE IN THE CITY TO SEEK A BETTER LIFE THAN THE LIFE THEY HAD BACK HOME.

Partly true, but after reading Anina ng mga Alon, I am ANGRY.
Manila may be the place of opportunities and dreams, but not everyone who dreams, dreams of a life in the city. Mostly, people were driven out of their homes and were forced to settle in the place of smoke and dirty streets — far from the rich soil they were uprooted from or rather, from the rich ocean they were fished out of.

As many of you already know, I don't read much Filipino books but am always on the look out for gems to read, and this book just hit the nail on the head with the story laced with the gods the Badjao prays to, the rituals they engage in, the songs of the sea, and not only with the story itself, this is the writing style I am most looking forward to reading in Filipino-written works. It is poetic and lyrical without overdoing it so the message just came across loudly and clearly. The imagery is so rich and vibrant that I can feel the cool breeze of salty air on my skin and the song of the waves lulling me and taking me to a place I've never been.

This is a very emotional book, one that would rip your heart bit by bit but thankfully, it ended with an open but hopeful note. I am also hoping that more people would read this short story so that more of us city-dwellers would understand the plight of the indigenous and celebrate the rich culture of the minority. 

Anina is a story of finding oneself amidst the noise of the world.
Anina is a story of finding out what you want, going for it........ hoping for a change, but life doesn't work that way, does it?
Anina is a story of being a woman wanting something that society tells her she cannot be....and she never did. 
Anina is a story of family and tradition and culture.

The book is the the closest thing to reality as it is. Some dreams are never really achieved, but you gotta point forward because going in that direction is the only way to move.

Anina ng mga Alon is a story worth telling.
It is a story worth reading.

*   *   *

Evan Y. Evasco is a writer, editor, translator, and collector of children’s books. He is currently a Full Professor at the UP Kolehiyo ng Arte at Literatura. Some of his new books at Lampara are Ang Nag-iisa at Natatanging si Onyok, Ang Singsing-Pari sa Pisara, Ang Beybi naming Mamaw, and the Filipino translation of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. In 2014, he won the UP Gawad sa Natatanging Publikasyon sa Filipino (Malikhaing Pagsulat category). He became a part of the Hall of Fame of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in 2009 and is currently a Fellow of the UP Institute of Creative Writing. He was accepted as a Research Fellow to the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany.

BOOK REVIEW: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Friday, January 29, 2021

I could have sworn that this would be a new favorite, but unfortunately it goes to the notable reads of 2020 (according to my youtube video, I was only able to put 2 notable reads so I'll be doing a full blog post for my notable reads of 2020  books that are great, but weren't my favorites). I would still recommend this book though, to other people who haven't read it yet, because it's a book that you either would love or would not. 

BITCH, just look at that cover!! THAT COVER!!!
Yep, it's GORGEOUS!✨

Title: Where Dreams Descend
Series: Kingdom of Cards Book 1
Author: Janella Angeles
Published by: Wednesday Books
Published on: 25 August 2020
Format: Hardcover (won from a giveaway by Gavin)
Trigger/Content Warnings: Misogyny, mind manipulation, possessive behaviour, trauma 
Rating: 3.5✨ (3 on Goodreads)

Where Dreams Descend is about a female born magician, Kallia, who is trying to break free from the cage she was imprisoned into her whole life. She feels that she is destined for something grand and she knows that the whole world must know of her name because of the magical prowess she possesses. 

Kallia is a showgirl from the Hellfire House run by Jack, who is also a born magician. Once Kallia turned her back from Hellfire, she joined a grand contest for magicians called Spectaculore, but the thing is, women were never meant to be contestants. Women are meant to be accessories to male magicians — assistants with sexy outfits to entice audience for the boring and repetitive acts of mediocre magicians — that "graces" all stages every time. But magic is in Kallia's veins and she's about to wipe these other male contestants' asses off, yet everytime Kallia is on stage, something bad happens and contestants go missing. Why? It's about time you find that out yourselves, people. Pick up the book! 


Before I go into anything, I just want to say that what I loved mostly about this book is how it mirrored the society that is still present up to this day  even when we're well way past that patriarchal bullsh. Women are just as capable, not just objects to men's fancies, and it was all well portrayed in Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles. 

I mean, how could I be annoyed at our main character for being confident when in reality, men act just the same. Men strut their confidence and arrogance like an armor that is meant to glorify them, but when women wore that very same armor, it's arrogance that is worthy of being stripped off of them. I know that some people may get irritated by Kallia's over confidence, but what I saw was a struggling woman in a man's world. She knows she is capable and she's going to let the whole world know about it. 

When you really look at it, Kallia wears a mask as a result of her trauma, and being in a man's world without a suit of armor, she would be left trampled upon by the mysogynists who think women can never do what they do. So Kallia, ya go gurl!

So over all I enjoyed the last 20% of the book and I had problems with the execution of the story in general. It felt longer than it needed to be because it goes in circles and it's repetitive without a chance of being resolved at all. It was like, Kallia performs, chaos ensues, she rests because the performance is exhausting, practice for the next act then repeat

I wasn't rooting for Kallia to be honest, because we don't see much of the competitors and they were all written off as bunch of mumbling idiots who think dicks are better than vaginas. Anyway, it left me with a lot of questions rather than be satisfied at the ending. The book felt like a complete prequel, a complete back story to the true story, which is the second book, and that left a bad impression on me. I don't mind a cliff hanger, honestly, but if it left me feeling dissatisfied with how it ended and initial questions weren't answered, that would just irritate me. 

Lastly, before I go to my spoilery bullets where I might be ranting about the book (or not?), I just want to say that despite my initial indifference to this first book, I would love to dive into the next book because I can't go on with my life without knowing how Kallia's story would end! Reading the synopsis of When Night Breaks, I felt like I got even more confused but I hope it would get better so I'm looking forward to 2021 for this book. 


BOOK REVIEW: Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys

Friday, January 22, 2021

"My husband, Andrius, says that evil will rule until good men or women choose to act. I believe him. This testimony was written to create an absolute record, to speak in a world where our voices have been extinguished."

Ashes in The Snow (Movie Tie-In Edition)

Previously Published As: Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Published by: Penguin Books

Published on: 18 December 2018

Format: Paperback Movie Tie-In, 384 pages (Gifted by Kat)

Trigger warnings: Death, Violence

Rating: 4.5 ✨

This is my first ever Ruta Sepetys book, and I can officially say that I am now a fan of Sepetys. May even be one of my favorite authors of all time nowww.... okay, yes, she's now one of my favorite authors and am planning to read more of her works in the future, just not right now. I can't just dive into her book one after another or else I'll be subjecting myself to never-ending hole of sadness, so hinga muna gurl.

As a fan of historical fiction, I have a different expectation on her writing style. I thought that it would be heavy and filled with long emotional chapters, but what I found was an easy to read, straight to the point but laden with heavy and gruesome aspects of war kind of historical fiction, and has short emotional chapters all through out the book. The novel was written through the eyes of a 15 year old Lina who was uprooted from her home by the NKVD , along with her mother and brother, brandishing them and many other Lithuanians as fascists and enemies of the State. The book perfectly captured the stark contrast and the sudden shift in Lina's life as Sepetys wrote flashbacks of Lina's life in between chapters while recounting the story of how they were loaded into train for 5 or 6 weeks and deposited into labor camp in Siberia and then in the Arctic Circle.

While this book mentioned in passing Hitler during that time of the second world war, in this piece of time in history, Hitler may be the hero the Lithuanians are waiting for to save them -- the same man who committed the atrocities that bore the horror stories most of us know today. These stories that are waiting to be heard just shows us that there were so many layers of history that are unheard of and are worth being educated about. This book, and many other historical fiction out there that I've recently read and planning to read in the future, serves as testimonials that are silenced for a long time before they were heard by us. So pick up your next historical read because I, too, will.

I might have forgotten to mention, but I have always been curious about Ruta Sepetys' books and what amazed me even further is knowing her ties to this story, which made it especially important for her to tell the story of Lithuania and other Baltic States, Estonia and Latvia. Ruta Sepetys is the daughter of a refugee who was able to escape Lithuana when he was young. Needless to say, we all knew accounts of Holocausts but fewer were known about Stalin's regime, so Sepetys, even with the simple and straight-forward writing of Ashes in the Snow, was able to tell the story across all oceans and continents.

Now, I wanna talk about the movie adaptation of the book, which, in my opinion, lacked some emotional pull, as opposed to the novel. But even with that, I was still moved to tears by the ending of the movie and it is a good visualization of what was recounted in the novel, especially the situation inside the train cars, the labor camps and the condition in the Arctic Circle.

This book is a testament to what the Baltic countries silently endured during Stalin's regime. It may not be the loudest part of history that most of us have heard of but I hope this book finds its way to more readers and remind that it happened, they exist, and they are now free.

This is a story of hope and of families who lived and loved amidst the horror of a ruthless ruler.