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ronjie's rave reviews

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Book Review: Deception Point [Dan Brown] & The Pilgrimage [Paulo Coelho]

After The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, I read Dan Brown's, I think 2nd or 3rd novel, Deception Point.

Most people liked Da Vinci and Angels because, most people are Catholics, and even more people are Christians. They could relate.

Deception Point---well, it's not about religion, it's not talking about any famous paintings. It's talking about--if I could put it this way--science and politics. Let me correct myself: science and American politics.

For someone like me who has been somehow exposed to American culture and society, I didn't feel too unfamiliar with it. And science--well, I do some research work, and research work is, in general, a science in itself.

So in short, take out the religion and the "charming" Robert Langdon, put in the very alluring Rachel Sexton... What a last name, I should say!

Put in that "old" Dan Brown formula... I still love it.

People tend to complain that Deception Point, Digital Fortress, and even, Angels & Demons, have all the same plot/formula/twists/endings as The Da Vinci Code.

I don't quite agree. Or well, if it's true, I don't mind.

Actually, that is not true at all. The Da Vinci Code has the same formula as the first three novels! So if people think that because the three novels are the same formula as Da Vinci, then they are wrong! The Da Vinci Code was Brown's last novel! Da Vince Code sucks then, if the logic of these know-nothing-but-complain people are valid!

Hehe. I hope I am right in the "facts" I stated.

Coach Potato strikes again. ;-)

P.S.

I don't know if it's the novel, or it's because I've read and loved the four Dan Brown novels, but The Pilgrimage, to me, didn't sound like a great Coelho masterpiece. Any violent reactions from the crowd? ;-)

Movie Review: Shall We Dance?

If you're a romantic like... this person I know very, very, very well...

WATCH "SHALL WE DANCE?"!

Well, I've seen the Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and J-Lo version, and of course, the original was Japanese...

Seriously, it is one of the best and most recommendable romance-comedies of all time! I'd put it up there with... Hmmmmmm... Now I can't remember any other romance-comedies that could measure up. Is that any indication for you? ;-)

Seriously serious now... For the average consumer like me, there's nothing wrong with the movie. I would have loved to have seen this with someone I was in love with. ...Shocks. There, I reminded myself again, damn.

Alright, I'm not professional sounding anymore. I drank three bottles of Colt Ice. 6.5% alcohol by volume.

But let me clarify something. NO, it's not the alcohol.

Well I guess you wouldn't trust me in this post anymore. Just ask someone who has seen the movie. And then you will think, seriously, "Damn, Coach Potato was right! I love this movie!"

Now like all other great romance movies, and love stories, and love songs... I hate them, because... I like them too much and they make me... think, and shed some, somehow. I am hopeless.

I am a hopeless romantic and I love this movie! Go watch it and cuddle up!

I'm starting to think of taking dancing lessons.

Seriously drunk somehow,
The Coach Potato

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

About Movies: Things in Common Q&A

What does Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) and Great Expectations (Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke) have in common?

The main characters (the guys) have both been in love with one and only one girl from their childhood.

What does Matrix Reloaded and Star Wars Episode 2 have in common?

The main characters (Neo and Anakin) are very passionate - about their love (Trinity and Princess/Senator Amidala), and about the thing they're supposed to do.

What do the four movies above have in common?

I love them all.

Are you a sissy, hopeless romantic like...me? (???)

Then you'll love the movie Love Actually. It's bloody marvelous. (Pronounced "bludde mahr-v-ls")

Monday, August 30, 2004

Book Review: Angels & Demons [Dan Brown]

Not as fantabuluous (a term i hear from my mom) as TDVC (read the previous post), but great nonetheless. A must-read, if you ask me. You will learn a lot (as you would have with TDVC).

By the way, Angels & Demons is a prequel to TDVC, so if you read TDVC after A&D, you'll see some references to A&D. But, that is just a miniscule matter to the real deal.

If there was one thing with A&D (and perhaps TDVC also) that made me do, it was to post on my blog!

I read A&D within a span of probably... under 24 hours. I started reading it around Saturday midnight, slept at 5am, did my usual Sunday thangs, got back at it at around 10pm, slept at around 3am, and finished the thing for about an hour before work (I got to the office early) and within lunch time. I just can't put it down. (I heard myself say that for TDVC also, which I also finished just as fast.)

In a way, the implications of the point-of-conflict in A&D was as huge as that in Day After Tomorrow (2004 motion picture), I almost cried... Imagine that.

Anyhow, there were a few things worth mentioning from A&D.

First, the simpler of the two: "Sometimes our minds see what the heart wishes to be true." (or something like that) That struck me like lightning.

Second, there was this person asking me a question that goes something like "If God was a truly good, kind, and loving God, why does he let wars, sufferings, and the like happen to us and to the world?" Dan Brown had an answer to that. And it was similar to my answer to that person. Unfortunately, Dan Brown published A&D in 2000 , if I'm not mistaken, and I thought of that just last year. My answer, very similar to Dan Brown's, is this: "If you had a child (a son or daughter), would you make him stay at home so that he won't risk getting hurt or making mistakes? I will let him go out into the real world to make mistakes, and to learn, and to grow."

Hmmmm... That thought just made me think. (A thought that makes you think?) I would let my kid out into the real world for all of that, because I want him to experience the same things I have experienced in my life. And to me, those experiences are wonderful experiences! Could that mean, by analogy, that God himself have (or at least know very well) these experiences? I always say, experience is always better than book-based knowledge. Before getting into one commitment, I used to think that it would be all this and that, all easy-enough to handle. When I got into one, I learned a lot, and most of those I learned during that experience disproved many things I learned from books, stories, and words-of-mouth.

Now imagine this, I wrote all this (and I could write more) because of Angels & Demons, and The Da Vinci Code. Read them. I recommend TDVC first (because it's more interesting from the beginning pa lang). Meanwhile, I am still a Catholic. God bless, everyone!

-- ronjie ;-)

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Book Review: The Da Vinci Code [Dan Brown]

Damn it! JUST READ IT!

Since I have my own rules and I follow them, I have set 5 as a maximum, so I rate this 5 out of 5. I could well rate it above 5. I had a midterm exam but after reading one chapter, I am lead to read the next. And here I am cramming. It's too good. I'll be reading another Dan Brown novel in the near future.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Book Review: Once Minutos [Paulo Coelho]

Here's one chocolate chip in the latest cookie by Paulo Coelho:

"You see that glass of anisette (wine/cocktail) before you?" he went on. "Now, you just see the anisette. I, on the other hand, because I need to be inside everything I do, see the plant it came from, the storms the plant endured, the hand that picked the grain, the voyage by ship from another land, the smells and colors with which the plant allowed itself to be imbued before it was placed in the alcohol. I I were to paint this scene, I would paint all those things, even though, when you saw the painting, you would think you were looking at a simple glass of anisette."

The person speaking was an artist. The person who created the artist is Coelho. And God created Coelho.

Overall, everyone's said it... It's a "daring" new book. To me, it's a Coelho classic. If you've read about Santiago, Veronika, Fatima, and Elijah, you don't want to miss Maria. Grab a copy now. Mine is for sale for $24.95. Hehe, I was absolutely kidding.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Book Review: Veronika Decides to Die [Paulo Coelho]

RATING: 5 out of 5

Can you imagine that? It has been just over a month since my last post, and I have already finished a book that I haven't even planned yet on reading a month ago. Well it took me a while to read this book. Usually, for Coelho novels, I can finish them in one afternoon.

Veronika Decides to Die.....

You know how some people intentionally put you to misery, leave you in agony, increase your anxiety, and all that... And then in the end, you find out, it was all a twist; a modus operandi, maybe a prank. You are actually richer than you are, and you have 15 billion pesos in the bank, left by your great grandmother who intentionally wrote in her will that her first great grandson (or granddaughter) shall inherit all her riches, no one else.

And so, can you imagine how you feel this very moment?

I loved Veronika Decides to Die because I met some people with very interesting character and very interesting lives, although I never had that interest because it is easy to judge a book by its cover... And secondly, because Paulo Coelho is just simply smart. He got me again in this novel.

Coelho is one author who writes novels which I want to finish. You cannot predict at all (or maybe you could but... you could get so much into the story!) the ending or what will happen next, you'll meet fascinating people... It helps that Coelho novels are short. Haha.

While By the River Piedra was a little more predictable... And The Five People You Meet In Heaven was very predictable (not even halfway through the book) except for a few details and well, yeah, it's got a message, but its characters were less interesting... Hey, it's hard to write a novel after all!

Veronika Decides to Die is a story you should read. It's one hell of a ride. It's a great story. Not your usual bacon & eggs, but it is cooked to perfection. The scenes and the characters are very vivid, as By the River Piedra and most other Coelho novels offer. Or, I might not have read that much yet. Did I tell you that I have something to say about Paulo Coelho in thoughts?

Next in Line (for reading): Eleven Minutes (latest novel by Paulo Coelho)

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Announcement: Future Books (and other stuff) to be Reviewed!

Well I have to make this announcement because I have made RONJBLOGs public... No, I did not make any IPO. Ok, not all people probably understood that joke.

Okay, back to business. I should tell you guys that as much as possible, I only like to read books that I know are bestsellers or potential bestsellers. And I do only read usually inspirational books, or... engineering books. Yeah, yeah, I am an engineer by day and a blogger by night. And I play basketball and badminton also during some nights, and watch the boob-tube and the big screen also on some other nights. Har har. There goes another... never mind.

Seriously now, I have to list these books so that you may know what to expect in the near future. You know, so that you might wanna come back to this site?

Actually, the business of reviewing books and stuff (like maybe CDs or movies or whatever else...) is not as easy as you think. I mean you have to construct your sentences very well to convey your real message. And to really give a good, complete review of the book, it will take quite a long write-up... Alas, I am not giving complete reviews of these books. I will be actually writing more like "reaction papers", you know, like those one page pambobola that is required by your freshman college instructor to write for that really boring play you watched, only so that your instructor can be sure that you really did watch that really boring play. And well, maybe get some entertainment out of your one-page literary piece.

So well, Coach Potato is about entertainment. Entertainment is what you will get here. Check out these really nice books. I will review them (please note that when I say review, I mean I will write "one-page reaction papers") soon on this BLOG. Keep posted.

One more thing, most of these books are books I highly recommend for reading. Some books though might not be of interest to others. We all know that one cannot please everyone.

So FINALLY, here's the (partial) list. ;-)

The Alchemist [Paulo Coehlo]
The Fifth Mountain [Paulo Coehlo]
By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept [Paulo Coehlo]
Thank God He's Boss [Bo Sanchez]
You Can Make Your Life Beautiful [Bo Sanchez]
You Have The Power to Create Love [Bo Sanchez]
The Prophet [Kahlil Gibran]
The Purpose-Driven Life [Rick Warren]
If I Really Wanted to Simplify My Life I Would... [Lighthouse Books]
Boy Meets Girl [Joshua Harris]
The Matrix trilogy of movies [The Wachowski Brothers]
Star Wars Episode 2 [George Lucas?]
Castaway [starring Tom Hanks]
Forrest Gump [starring Tom Hanks]

P.S. I have a separate blog for The Matrix trilogy. I loved those movies. However, as of today, I haven't posted much on that site. School got in the way of blogging. Till next post! Ciao! ;-)

Book Review: Simplify and Create Abundance [Bo Sanchez]

Alright! I now have two reviews and counting! For my review (more like a "reaction paper") of Bo Sanchez' latest book, I actually wrote him a letter. It follows. By the way, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, it's a must-read I think as it is a good reminder for us all. Oh and it's cheap. Bo Sanchez is a simple and great guy. I wrote a little short something about him in the RONJBLOG, thoughts.

------------------ Book Review: Simplify and Create Abundance [Bo Sanchez] ------------------

Dear Bo,

I would just like to say that I am a big fan of yours, specifically your books. I have bought all five of your books (the P150 ones; I haven't bought "Embraced" yet. I do have "The Way of the Cross" also. I hope I got the titles right...): Thank God He's Boss, You Have The Power to Create Love, You Can Make Your Life Beautiful, Simplify and Live the Good Life, and, I am in the middle of reading "Simplify and Create Abundance."

I can't help but react to your book. It is the message that many Filipinos need to hear, I think. I just recently read the chapter/section about poor Leny and Manager (and former house helper) "Helen." I think those two are two stories many Filipinos need to hear. If I would write a reaction paper on that chapter/section, I would say this...

Christianity and the Bible tell us that we should learn to accept, and to be thankful to God for whatever we have, for wherever we are, for whatever situation or condition we are in, and for who we are. "Blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the Kingdom of God." Et cetera. We know that envy and self-pity are our enemies... On the other hand, the Bible does not tell us that we should stop there. There was this one parable about... the talents? Or basically the one wherein the master gave his slaves some money and left for a while; he came back to find out that some of his slaves made more than the others out of those he left for them. In fact, the Bible is telling us that for whatever we have, we should make something out of it, make it grow. If it's money, we should make it earn. If we are indeed, say, financially deficient, we should accept that fact, be thankful for the littlest thing we have, but the thing is, we still have something. If we have hands and feet, we could use them in many ways to earn---to get to work, to use at work, etc. We have brains that we should not waste at all; by just internally brainstorming, we could come up with lots of ideas to be able to provide for our personal needs, and for the needs of others, including our families and loved ones. If we are not deaf, we could ask others to help us in our quest, and humbly give back in gratitude for their help. Even if we are blind, we know that even blind people could be productive. If we are still alive, let us not waste a minute of it doing nothing to make things better for ourselves and for others. If we have time, we could take a rest from all the work. The thing is, there are a lot of these "little" things that we forget we have that we could use so that we may not end up poor. Like Helen, she had free time in the evening, and she used them to take classes and finish school. She had feet to walk to her job interviews, a voice to communicate with her interviewers, a mind to help guide her to give her best answers, hands to fill up the application form, etc. Haha, and this is just one very simple example. There's this one person I know who thinks more like Leny; he thinks that "Mahirap maging mayaman..." And there's this other person I know who thinks that simplicity means being poor. On the other hand, I think we can be simple and have an abundant supply of whatever we need! Bo's message is truly something that all Filipinos should hear, and apply in their lives.

Okay, well that's that. But Bo, if I may make a suggestion. One thing I have observed is that, while many Filipinos understand English, like say when the LRT makes an announcement like "Next station is Araneta Center, Cubao", Filipinos can easily understand that; it's just one sentence. Most Filipinos know what "Stop" means, or "One Way", "Yes", "No", or "No Left Turn"... But I think not a lot of Filipinos really understand "Turn right anytime with care"... Haha, I might be being too judgmental of my fellow Pinoys now. Anyway, to explain my point better... I was an instructor for one semester at one of these universities and I made all of my students submit an index card with their full name, identification numbers, contact numbers, and I asked them to answer the question "What do you expect to learn in this class?" When I got the index cards, all their answers had all-English words, but I got frustrated because it's not even close to 50% who gave grammatically correct English sentences. My point is, though Filipinos are proud because we're probably the third largest English speaking nation in the world, it is still not our first language. It is not our natural language. Maybe only a few of us really may have had very good grades in our English classes back in Elementary or High School...

My point, Bo, is I think your books, your message should reach more Filipinos. Your books are not just for us who understand English. I appreciate it that your books are affordable (to me at least) at P150 each. I think it would be great if you would have your books translated into the natural language for most of us. Maybe you could have at least a Tagalog or Filipino version, or a Bisaya version... What do you think?

Nway, keep up the Good work, Bo. By the way, I did listen to one of your tapes already, "Loving difficult people." Hehehe.

That's it for now. God bless!

Ronjie Aquino