There are some books that I told myself I would never read. I would never put them in an actual list, really, but I know that these are the books thatThere are some books that I told myself I would never read. I would never put them in an actual list, really, but I know that these are the books that I would ignore in a bookstore, books that I wouldn't even think of buying. Reasons behind this may vary, but you know how we readers have preferences depending on the books we enjoy, or the time we have or the things we value, and all that.
I said that about Les Miserableslate last year. I'd never read it because it's just too thick, and I simply have no time. Then I read it and finished it in 45 days.
I said the same thing for Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. I didn't think I would read it, because frankly, I found the topic icky. I mean, a grown man supposedly "in love" with a child? I squirm at the thought -- just as how I squirmed and looked away when I watched those crime shows (based on a true story or not) that involved someone who sexually abuses a child. It's just not something I would even want to read, quite honestly.
And then, Lolita won in our book club's polls for our September discussion. I guess in a way it was my fault for suggesting banned books as a topic for September, and this one made it to the final list. Lolita was far more popular than the two other books in the list, so it was kind of a shoo-in to win. I remember thinking (and saying this to one of the discussion moderators): Perhaps it's time for me to read this. Year of the Brave, you say?
I won't talk about the plot anymore because this is a pretty popular novel, with its controversial themes and gorgeous prose, as they say. I knew I was a apprehensive when I started reading hits. No, not because I can relate to any of it (thank God I don't), but because I was wary of how it would go with me. Lolita is readable overall, because its prose isn't hard to read, nor it is boring. It's very well-written, actually, and it's commendable especially since Nabokov's first language is Russian. Humbert Humbert comes off as an unreliable narrator from the start, and Lolita is his account of what happened with her and to some events that led him to make that statement. I got confused about that, honestly -- why "statement"? I figure he did something wrong there, but what? Did he kill someone? Who? Did he kill Lolita? (No, this isn't a spoiler)
Let me go back to the prose. It was gorgeous, and surprisingly, it isn't explicit. I mean, sometimes I have to go back to some passages to understand what Nabokov was writing about and then I'll realize what happened there. Huh. And then I read on, and I go all, "Huh" again. I mean that in a good way, really.
Here's the thing: I sort of predicted from the start that I would probably not rate Lolita higher than three stars, given that this isn't really the kind of book I would read. I think even my friends expected that. But when I got to the end while I waited in line at the bank to pay some bills...I don't know, I knew I couldn't rate it that. I can't explain it in full, but there was something in that ending that just made me change my mind. Is it the writing? Probably. Is it how Nabokov somehow made Humbert Humbert seemed deserving of sympathy? Maybe. I don't know, really. It's been a little over a month since I finished this book, but I still can't answer that. All I know is I found myself thinking at the ending. It doesn't make everything that he did or whatever happened in the story less icky because it is icky, period. But somehow, there was something in the ending that made me change my mind about rating this novel.
Lolitais controversial, I have to agree. But I also agree that this is just one of those books that a reader has to read in their lifetime. I'm glad my book club made me read this.
I had only one Literature class for college, which made me just a little bit sad because it was one of my favorite oneOriginal post from One More Page
I had only one Literature class for college, which made me just a little bit sad because it was one of my favorite ones, and I could use a bit more lit reading in my academic life. Anyway, we were assigned novels to read in that class, and I was really, really hoping that our group would get Smaller and Smaller Circlesby FH Batacan because I loved the premise: a Pinoy detective novel? Serial killers? "The first of its kind" (at least, back in that time years ago)? I want it.
Anyway, our group didn't get it, and I ended up borrowing my roommate's copy, but not before I got spoiled with the ending because of the group who reported on the novel. But even so, I enjoyed reading it and was kind of glad that I had a chance to read it again for our book club's discussion last May.
Did I like it on my second read, years after I read it the first time? Yes, I still did. I am a fan of crime procedural shows, so reading something similar gives me the same thrill of watching. The book reminded me of that tiny, tiny dream of being a forensic specialist that I sometimes get, if only I don't get so queasy over blood. Smaller and Smaller Circlesis still as engaging as when I first read it, and I still felt the thrill over the chase and the satisfaction on the ending. Granted, it wasn't perfect and some of it weren't that believable, but I still enjoyed reading it the second time around....more
Just so you know, I never had any intention of reading Les Misérables. I have a friend who talked about rereading this book last year for research bJust so you know, I never had any intention of reading Les Misérables. I have a friend who talked about rereading this book last year for research before NaNoWriMo season came around, and I remember vaguely wondering how can one reread such a thick book. I had no intention of reading this, thinking that my life can remain untouched by this tome, until some friends from the book club started a reading support group for the unabridged book. I still didn't join them, but I applauded them for their efforts. Until...one day, I wandered around the thread, and saw their discussion. And then the briefest of brief thoughts came into my mind: Maybe it won't be so bad reading such a thick book if you have friends reading with you.
Then my friends started inviting me to join them, and I felt like giving in. It could be an interesting challenge, right?
So finally, by end of 2012, I said yes. Angus gave me a copy of the unabridged version and I started reading it by January 1. If you're like me who has no idea what Les Misérables by Victor Hugo was (I know, I know -- I was living under a rock all my life), this is the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who was shown mercy when he least expect it, but is chased by his past even if he tries to change his present. There's a lot more to the story than that, of course, but that was the main story arc. I never watched any of the musicals, or the first movie with Liam Neeson. I have zero expectations and I knew very little in the story -- only fragments of a discussion in a college Theology class, and the knowledge of the song On My Own, because who doesn't know that song?
The goal was to read as much as I can in the book until we had watch the movie. I wasn't dreaming of finishing the book before the movie because that gave me about 16 days to just read, but I wanted to reach at least halfway. I didn't. I watched the movie, got spoiled and tried to read again. My reading progress was slower, because I knew what was going to happen (and this is going to be another post in itself!), but I was in too far into the book to drop it. A half-read book is a half-finished love affair, right?
Until finally, exactly 45 days since I started reading Les Misérables, I finished it.
Les Misérables is long. And sometimes tiresome. And sometimes I wonder what Hugo's point was in several chapters/books. But besides those things, I must admit: Les Misérables is a beautiful book. There's so many layers and complexities in this book that's kind of hard to remember when you're deep into some of its very boring and tedious chapters, but when you step back and think about what you've read with the other parts that that boring part came with, you see that the boring parts sets the stage so the interesting parts become colorful and detailed. For example: I probably could've lived without knowing about Paris' sewer system back then, but I wouldn't have appreciated Valjean's attempts to get out of it, just how dire his situation was when he was there. Hugo is talkative, but it ties well together -- you just need to have a little more perseverance and slog through the slightly boring parts. (Y'know, just like life. Heh. :P)
If you think watching the movie is enough for you to know what Les Misérables is all about...well, no. There's so much in the book that wasn't in the movie and it makes several characters stand out on their own a bit more. For example: Marius in the movie was shown as a revolutionary, but in the book, he wasn't. Not as much as Enjolras was, anyway. Marius just wanted to show his grandfather that he can make it on his own, and then he falls in love. Which is also another thing -- in the movie, Marius and Cosette just made eyes at each other, but in the book, there was a longer and slightly more interesting "courtship" between the two of them. And there were the other characters that we hardly got to know, as well as Jean Valjean's whole thought process throughout the novel. The book gives the characters and the story so much more depth, making the sad scenes a bit more heartbreaking and the victorious scenes mean so much more.
Les Misérables is long, and arduous at times, but I am so glad I powered through it. It's totally worth all the lugging around and the times I spent trying to stay focused on the story. It's a story of forgiveness, mercy and love in all forms - and I personally think we need more stories like this. :)
This is officially the thickest book I've read in my life time, and now I feel like I can read any door-stopper now without getting intimidated...
Charlie Bucket comes from a poor family who lives near Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory. Always hungry, CharlieOriginal post from One More Page
Charlie Bucket comes from a poor family who lives near Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory. Always hungry, Charlie looks forward to his birthday every year because he gets to have one chocolate bar. Just in time for his birthday, Willy Wonka announced that he is opening his factory again, and five lucky kids who can find a golden ticket will be given entrance to the factory. Our little hero finds one in the most unusual way. Together with four kids -- one who likes to eat, one who likes to chew gum, one who never stops watching TV and a spoiled brat -- Charlie comes in and finds that he may be in for the biggest adventure of his life.
I remember my first impression of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I was reading the first few pages: it cheered me up. Maybe it's a psychological thing with all the chocolates and all, but I felt a bit lighter when I was reading the first few pages. Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryis children's fiction anyway, so there's nothing heavy to expect in the book, which my busy and frazzled mind appreciated very much.
However, I realize now that while I'm reading this as an (almost) adult, I wasn't as enchanted with the book as it went on. I liked the Oompa-Loompa's song and all, and the lessons that Mr. Wonka gave about each kid are pretty valuable, but in the end I just find him a bit...creepy. I wouldn't want to be left alone with him, really. Perhaps if I read this as a kid, I would enjoy it for all its chocolate-y goodness, but the grown-up part of my mind is resisting some of its charm.
I think my younger self would have loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryif I had a chance to read it back then. My sweet tooth would have been beside herself with glee. But now that I'm a little bit older (I was about to say jaded, but that's too negative, heh), I just like it. I would've loved it, but now I just like it.
I've had Life of Piby Yann Martel on my radar since my senior year in college, but I never got it because I couldn'tOriginal post from One More Page
I've had Life of Piby Yann Martel on my radar since my senior year in college, but I never got it because I couldn't really afford it on my allowance back then. Later, much later, there were many, many times I could have bought it but I prioritized other books so I didn't get it even then. One time, during a book club meet-up, some friends were talking about this book so I asked them if they think it was something I would like. I remember someone telling me that I might be bored with it, so I decided to just borrow instead of buy. But alas, I never got to borrow it even after. It still wasn't in my priority list, up until late last year, when my friends were talking about the books that will soon become movies. I figured, since I was starting to explore outside of the genres I usually read, that maybe it's finally time to read it.
That, and there was the tiger.
I love tigers. Tigers are some of my favorite animals. If I could own a tiger for a pet, I would do that in a heartbeat. Tiger photos are an automatic reblog in my Tumblr, and I swear, I could stare at them for hours on end. So a big part of my wanting to read and watch Life of Piwas because of the tiger in the story.
Piscine Molitor Patel -- Pi, for short -- is a teenage boy whose family owned a zoo in Pondicherry, India. Pi has lived an interesting life, one that made the author seek him out so he can write his book, intrigued by the idea that Pi's story can make him believe in God. Life of Piis really, well, Pi's life, as he grew up surrounded by animals, his quest for (three) religions, growing with his belief and of course, his 227-days in the middle of the ocean after the ship carrying them to Canada sunk, leaving him on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book, which probably helped me appreciate it. I just knew about the shipwreck and the tiger, but I didn't know what was supposed to happen around it. I liked Pi's voice, his boyishness that was slightly tinged with pain of recollection, since the story was being told from the point of view of the older Pi. I liked the lush atmosphere of Pi's life in the zoo, and all the animal behavior lessons that he shared. It reminded me a bit of all the animal lessons in Animorphs by K.A. Applegate, my favorite scifi series growing up. This made me want to go visit a zoo and observe the animals for myself.
I also really liked Pi's journey into religion. Or religions, rather. I think this is a part that people either really get or don't get in the book. I don't claim to get it all completely, but I appreciated Pi's attempts to find God, even if it meant going to the other religions. It was more of a spiritual journey rather than religious, really, and there were several things that he learned from all three religions that I felt applied to life in general. I liked how Pi learned about God willingly, and I am pretty sure his earlier spiritual journey helped him in his predicament later on.
I realized while watching the movie that being stuck in the middle of the ocean with no sign of help or no land is now my worst nightmare. When I am island hopping on vacations, I am always the one wearing a life vest, because I am not the strongest swimmer. In the book, I cannot envision how the ocean can be merciless because I kept on thinking of it as a calm ocean since they were in the Pacific, right? Then I watched the movie and oh my Lord, I never want to be in that situation ever. Especially with a bengal tiger, even if I love that animal.
I found Pi's adventures in the middle of the ocean very interesting and I was really, really rooting for him to live. Or rather, I am really, really hoping Richard Parker the tiger would live in the end. I can just imagine the tiger in the story, and the visuals in the movie (even if the tiger is completely computer generated) helped me love Richard Parker more. Pi's adventures in the ocean had the most meat in it, I think, and there were so many, many things that got me even if I wouldn't even dare to be stuck in the middle of the ocean like him. Some of my favorite passages:
It begins in your mind, always. One moment, you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy... So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don't, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you. (p. 161, 162)
Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was a hell beyond expression. I thank God it always passed...The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving. (p. 209)
It's important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse. (p. 285)
The ending left me...reeling. A friend told me about the twist in the story, but I wanted to be surprised and boy was I surprised. I couldn't wrap my head around it for a while, and I had my first case of a book hangover for the year, which was extended right after watching the movie.
I'm really glad I started the year with this one. Life of Piby Yann Martel is a beautiful book. It's not often a book leaves me with a delicious hangover that leaves me thinking and talking about the book after I was done. While it didn't exactly make me believe in God more than I already do, I think this is a book that speaks of hope and belief even in the most impossible situations. :)
I meant to rate this four stars, but I am giving one full star for Richard Parker the tiger. Just because. :3...more
There were several times when my bookish friends and I would joke around about burning some books that we don't like,Original post from One More Page
There were several times when my bookish friends and I would joke around about burning some books that we don't like, especially that vampire series that just doesn't seem to want to die (or well, I think other books are replacing it now?). It's really all just a joke, because for the life of me, I can't imagine myself burning a book, no matter how much I disliked/hated it. I remember this one time where I heard of a book being torn in front of some people in school -- some hater getting at it at the face of the authors -- and even if I didn't witness it first hand, my heart hurt just a little bit at the thought of a book being damaged like that.
in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451,doing such things to books are a commonplace. Books are illegal, and firemen go around hunting for books (and houses of books) to burn. Everyone's focused on television and other seemingly mindless things, and anyone who thinks otherwise are considered dangerous. Guy Montag is a fireman, and he has lived with burning books, until he meets his neighbor, Clarisse. Clarisse makes him ask questions about his life -- his wife, his job and all the question about books. He slowly realizes that maybe his life wasn't really what he wanted it to be and sets out to do something about it.
It's been a while since I read a dystopian book, so it took me a while to adjust to Fahrenheit 451's world. Since I was listening to this on audio, it took me an even longer time to really get into it. I liked the premise of the book, and as a book lover, Montag's world felt depressing. I didn't want that, and when I got to the chapter where Montag and his firemen buddies burned a house of books, I was wincing all the time. Ack. Perhaps there's also something about the way Bradbury writes (and how the book was narrated) -- the rhythm of his words felt almost hypnotic. I suppose it helped that I listened to the audiobook, because I thought the narrator had a very fitting voice for the story.
I liked Fahrenheit 451,and I think that it's still quite relevant now. Bradbury wrote this book as a statement about how "...television destroys interest in reading literature," and while that is still true, I think that there's another competition that's really taking everyone's interest: internet. I mentioned during our book discussion how everyone's so attached to being online now -- myself included. I remember reading this story about the mom who gave his teenage son an iPhone for Christmas but with a contract, and this particular line in the contract got to me: Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that. (Source) I'm very guilty of this, and I'm trying to get rid of this habit, and I realized that our attachment to our smart phones and internet is another way for us to lose interest in reading. I mean, I haven't lost interest yet, but how many times have I ended up playing with my phone, going online in all my social media accounts on the times I said I would be reading? How many times have I chosen tweeting over making an effort to make actual conversation? Those kinds of things. It's a bit disconcerting to think about it, but I guess that's the point of this book, anyway. It's definitely something to think about.
I just wished there was more to Fahrenheit 451's ending. I wished there was more to know about the people who memorized books so no one would ever forget them, and that it didn't simply feel like an afterthought to the story. The ending kind of reminded me of The Giver -- a bit open-ended, but good enough to leave the reader asking some questions. Especially questions like, If I can only memorize one book and one book alone, which would I pick? I do not have an answer to that question. Do you?...more
The Giving Treewas one of the books lined up for our book club's December discussion. It lost the face to face voting lOriginal post at One More Page
The Giving Treewas one of the books lined up for our book club's December discussion. It lost the face to face voting last Saturday, and one of my co-moderators said that this book is relevant reading now, especially to what has been happening with the floods and all that in our country in the past week. So yesterday when I got home, I decided to read it (the shortness of the book is also a factor why I decided to do that).
The Giving Treeis about a tree and a boy, and the tree loved the boy. So much that the tree gave him everything he asked for, even if the boy (who grew up to be a man) didn't seem to return the same kind of love that the tree has for him. This book is both heartwarming and sad, because there is such truth in this book. I didn't know if I would be happy or sad when I was done -- I was pretty sure I felt both.
It's interesting how a book can sum up what loving really means in less than 100 pages, and with simple words and illustrations. Yes, I think The Giving Treeis relevant to us as far as the environment goes, but I think the book is more relevant because it just shows one of the many, many aspects of true love: giving without expecting anything in return.
I think we all need a reminder of that every now and then. I know I do....more
I love watching crime shows, but I only really like watching fictional ones. Any crime show or documentary that is "baseOriginal post at One More Page
I love watching crime shows, but I only really like watching fictional ones. Any crime show or documentary that is "based on a true story" automatically creeps me out. I can do a marathon of CSI all day, but when someone tells me that someone near us was robbed or a friend of a friend of a friend is killed, I automatically shut my ears because I don't want to imagine it happening to the people I care for. Case in point: there was a time when I learned that our neighbor was robbed, and for the next week, I slept with a scissor beside my bed (not a wise thing, actually) because I was afraid that someone would get in our house and do the same thing to us. I figure the scissor is a good enough weapon, right?
So I'm not really sure why I voted for In Cold Bloodby Truman Capote when we had our poll for our September 2012 book. I guess I was swayed by the good reviews on the book, plus it seemed the most interesting among the choices. I guess I also totally forgot about that certain part of my paranoid childhood until I started reading the book.
In Cold Bloodis Truman Capote's account of the murder of the Clutter family in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas by Richard Hickock and Perry Smith. It's not really a simple account of the murder told in a boring old non-fiction narrative. This is classified ascreative nonfiction so it read like a novel, and instead of just focusing on the murders, we are given a peek into the lives of the accused, their trial, up until their execution five years later.
Here's the thing with In Cold Blood: it reads like any other crime novel until you do a little research and realize/remember that the characters in this book were actually real people. I was really just enjoying Capote's writing while I was reading the first part, until someone from the book club posted photos of the Clutter family on our thread and I got major creeps because I remembered that the story was real. I'm not as paranoid worried now as I was when I was a kid, but realizing the truth in this story made my skin crawl. I can't imagine the horror of that night.
But again, the story didn't really focus much on the victims but on the killers. It's an interesting angle that actually made me feel sorry for them despite the grievous sin they committed. I'm not saying that what they did was excusable -- it's just that seeing their side of the story, or at least, their background, made me just a little bit sympathetic to them. They could have been better people, I thought. There could have been something that could have changed their past so they won't have to do what they did. And end up that way.
In Cold Bloodcould spark discussions on numerous topics, especially on the death penalty and justice, and that was exactly what happened during our face to face discussion. Interestingly, I got one of the hard ones again, something about justice and it started a pretty long debate/discussion on what justice really meant for everyone of us. I admit that it's one of the things that I need time to really understand, and that right now I just really, really pray hard that nothing like this ever happens to anyone I care for.
In Cold Bloodreminded me of the time when I did a Criminal Minds marathon a few years back. I really enjoyed it, but I didn't really go out of my way to watch it again. Once is enough, I guess (unless it's for research or something). Likewise, I liked In Cold Blood, but I don't think I have the heart to read something like this again....more
The Historianby Elizabeth Kostova is our book for our November discussion for the book club. It was my only choice amonOriginal post at One More Page
The Historianby Elizabeth Kostova is our book for our November discussion for the book club. It was my only choice among the three books that we voted for last July because our theme for November was horror and I'm not a horror fan, so I go for the least horrific. :P I've heard good things about this book from some blogger friends, plus our moderator, Monique, liked this one too, so I figured I will probably like it too.
The Historianis the story of an unnamed narrator and her family's past. What starts as a simple book and some letters found in her father's study turned out to contain a story bigger than she expected, even bigger than her father and her dead mother that spans across the centuries. The book is more of a collection of her recollection of her own research and her father's research and travels about Vlad the Impaler and the danger that they encountered as they pried deeper into the life of the fifteenth century Wallachian ruler.
I started this book a little apprehensive, because like I said, I'm not a horror person. I don't like scaring myself, so I was kind of careful when I started reading it. My friends assured me that it wasn't that scary, but there were several times when I felt jumpy while I was reading this, especially when it was raining and when I was alone at home. I found the first part of the book quite engaging, where I was passed from the main narrator's point of view to her father's and back. I liked how the mystery presented itself, and how I got invested in the main characters in this first part. I liked the dangerous -- and a little scary -- tone around the first part, where they just don't know what's going on and how they do not know just how big the thing they're poking is.
That was the first part. The second part was still quite interesting, but then somewhere in the middle, it started to lag. I don't read much historical fiction, or anything that had too many historical documents for that matter. Somewhere in the second part, I was amazed at the setting but everything else was bogged down by the fact that the characters kept stumbling upon different documents, countless books and letters about Vlad the Impaler. I get it, okay. They are historians, yes, so these documents were a necessary part of the story, but man, they were tedious. I didn't want to skim through it because I might miss something else, but I admit that I slowed down my reading at this part.
Come part three. Part 3 was a little bit more exciting, especially since it felt like they were getting closer and closer to uncovering the mystery. I got a little bit annoyed when they opened yet another book and read yet another letter, but when you're that close to the end of a book, giving up is not an option. At least, not for me. And when the final reveal comes...I was all...huh.
I won't spoil it for you, but at the end of the book, I had to clarify with some friends if I understood what I read, and they said I got it right. And after 900 pages, all I could think of was: That's it?
Overall, I have a bit of mixed feelings with The Historian. Perhaps I was expecting more, and I was shelving it together with some of the adventure/mystery/horror books that I have read before and forgot that the book is really more of a travelogue and historical account more than it was supposed to be horror. I liked the writing and the level of detail that this book possessed, and it made me want to go backpacking around Eastern Europe to see the places the characters in the book. As far as the story goes, however, I thought the big reveal fell a little flat, and I was really expecting a big one after all the things the characters went / read through.
I didn't really dislike The Historian, but I didn't like it too much, either. It was a little bit more than just okay, though, because like I said, I enjoyed the travel part and the writing and maybe just a little bit of the research, until I felt like starting a drinking game for every document / letter / book that they read. I don't regret that I read it, but I don't think I'll find it particularly memorable later on, either. Maybe I'm just not much of a history buff to be really in love with this, and I think my aversion to vampire stories made me a bit more disinterested after some point. The only real memorable part of The Historianas far as I'm concerned was the book club discussion, which was a fun time to discuss with good friends what we think of this chunkster. :)...more
Sometime early this year, my book club started selecting books that we will discuss fOriginal post at One More Page First read and reviewed: April 2011
Sometime early this year, my book club started selecting books that we will discuss for our monthly discussion. When the YA theme came up, I was excited to see that my one of my favorite books last year, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, was included in the short list. Of course that got me campaigning for the book, because when you love a certain book, you just want a lot of people to read it and hope to be enthralled by it like you were.
The book won by one vote, and I was happy because it gave me the perfect excuse to reread the book. This time around, though, I wanted to try another format, so I got myself an audiobook version of the book and settled in for the ride. :) My mind was ready, but I wasn't really sure if my heart was. Still, I wanted to know if I would love the book as much as I did the first time around, especially since I know what was going to happen.
How did I describe this book last year? ...reading this book was like breaking my heart and then putting it back together again. I know that sounds terribly dramatic, but that was exactly what I felt back when I first read this and I was anticipating the same thing when I listened to it.
Listening to the book was a different experience, mostly because it gave me a bit of room to "read" while doing something else. The audiobook became my companion for my night shift work, and I was transported to that little stretch of Jellicoe Road every time I turn my player on. I found that I was paying attention to the things more, and that I caught little quotes that I wasn't sure if I caught before (my print copy has lots of dog-ears -- I didn't exactly take note what I was dog-earing then). I found the parts I love were still well-loved, and found new things to love in the book as well.
One might think that rereading this book known for its confusing start will lessen the thrill of the reading experience because you know what's going to happen already. I was ready to be a bit less enchanted with the twists, to be less heartbroken when the things happen as I was expecting them...but I wasn't. Okay, perhaps it's because I came into the book expecting to love it again, so it was harder for me to find fault. There's one chapter that still killed me, over and over again, and there were those chapters that made me smile and stop and want to listen to them again, because I forgot about them already. Despite knowing what the story was about, the reading experience was still as enjoyable as the first.
Admittedly, there was a time when I was asked, "What's the point of all of this again?" But then as I finished listening to the book, I realized that maybe it doesn't really have to have a point. It's a story of real life -- of Taylor and Jonah and Raffy and Santangelo, of Narnie and Jude and Webb and Tate and Fitz -- and it doesn't really have to make a single and simple point. Like what C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, real things aren't made to be simple. So maybe, a story about real life and all its complications isn't supposed to be simple, either.
I can't relate to Taylor's family woes, but once again, I'm amazed at how the friendships were forged in this book. This is the kind of friendship that makes you want to keep on fighting, to keep on going back, to keep on trying. If you ever have the chance to run into this kind of friendship, do everything in your power to keep it -- these are the kind of friendships that can save your life.
So did I like it as much as I did the first time? There is no other answer to that question but yes. Maybe I will grow out of this in a few years, maybe not. But for now, I still stand by every word I wrote last year, and I am very happy to know of a place "...where they would all belong, or long to be. A place on the Jellicoe Road." :)...more
When the first of the Lord of the Rings movie came out a little over ten (!!!) years ago, I admit that I only watched itOriginal post at One More Page
When the first of the Lord of the Rings movie came out a little over ten (!!!) years ago, I admit that I only watched it for two reasons: (1) everyone in my senior high school class was watching it; and (2) all the girls in my class who has watched the movie were all raving about Legolas. I didn't care about the book (I can't even remember if I knew of the book back then), but I only watched it because I didn't want to be left out. I was sufficiently amazed by the movie (even if my dad slept halfway through it -- it was our "date"), and I was charmed by Legolas, but I didn't become one of the people who would watch it over and over and over again. In fact, when I tried watching it again while I was alone, I fell asleep! When I learned of the book, I knew that I wouldn't read it anytime soon because I wasn't a fantasy reader and I honestly thought watching the movie was enough.
My stance on not reading the trilogy remained the same even as I was exploring fantasy and as I started blogging about books. I've heard so many things about it -- how it's so hard to read, how it can be boring and how it's not for everyone, so the part of me that gets intimidated by high fantasy decided to leave it alone. Until of course, it became our book of the month for my book club's discussion. Being a co-moderator of the book club, I felt like I had no choice but to read it.
I don't think I need to recap what happened in this book for anyone because I feel that everyone knows about it already. (But if you really need to know it's this: Frodo Baggins inherits an evil ring of power from his uncle Frodo and he has to go to Mount Doom with friends and some people -- who and they eventually form a fellowship -- to destroy the ring before the bad guys get it.) So here's my big surprise with The Fellowship of the Ring: it wasn't such a hard read after all. Maybe if I attempted to read this back in high school or even in college, I wouldn't have liked it as much. But now...I actually found it quite easy to get into. Oh, the prologue is kind of boring, but after that? It was really kind of easy. I suppose I had the proper conditioning too, because I read Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker the previous month (which is pretty high fantasy too) followed by George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones a few weeks later, which I read almost simultaneously with this book. I suppose this put me in the proper fantasy mindset, which perhaps helped it become easier for me to read. Sure, the hobbits and elves sang so many times in the book, and sure, Tolkien described the scenery in so much detail that it can be a bit boring at times...but overall? I thought The Fellowship of the Ring deserved all the praises that it has gotten ever since.
I guess it helped that I already had the visualization of the movie while I read the book, so sometimes I can't help but smile whenever I remember Orlando Bloom as Legolas or Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn. I loved the Council of Elrond scene even if it was the longest chapter of the book, and I was excited to get to the Balrog scene with Gandalf shouting, "You cannot pass!" (the movie version seemed more kick-ass, though!). But overall, I realized how much I liked Frodo and Sam's friendship was written in this book. I never really cared for Sam in the movie (especially after it has been tainted so much because of their seemingly bromantic relationship), but in this book, I thought he was such a darling. Sam's loyalty was the highlight of this book, and I loved how he was so devoted to his friend in his simple minded ways. It totally changed everything for me when I rewatched the movie.
As with A Game of Thrones, I felt a certain kind of accomplishment when I finished reading this book. LOL, I felt like I was such a cooler geek when I was done with this, but apparently, I think I need to read the other LOTR books before I can be certified. :P Which I really intend to do, especially because I really liked The Two Towers and the ending of The Fellowship of the Ring was kind of a cliffhanger.
To sum it up: I get it. I get what makes this series so amazing -- or at least, a part of it, anyway. :) It helps that this appreciation was fueled by our book club's discussion afterwards. Look at us here:
Goodreads - The Filipino Group Face-to-Face Discussion # 6: Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (photo from Maria)
The Fellowship of the Ring is definitely one of those books that one should read in their lifetime. I'm really glad this won as our book of the month last June. :)...more
Normally, I wouldn't read a book like The Color Purple, because it's not my usual genre. Not that I don't read literarOriginal post at One More Page
Normally, I wouldn't read a book like The Color Purple, because it's not my usual genre. Not that I don't read literary fiction books, but the themes of abuse and rape and all those things kind of make me squirm and feel general discomfort. I treat books as an escape from real life, so reading a book with several injustices isn't really my priority.
But don't get me wrong -- every now and then, I read these kinds of books, too. When I do read them, I have to admit that I try to find an excuse to do so. Alice Walker's The Color Purple was included in the list of books that we were voting for our July book discussion, and it was the one I voted for only because of the title and the other cover with the huge sunflower on it (which I really wanted for my copy, but I couldn't find one). The book didn't win, but we had a book buddy discussion on this (which I totally sucked at because I hardly left a comment on the thread). I ended up reading this book while I was at the beach -- it felt totally inappropriate, but in a way, it's also not. I'll explain that in a bit.
The Color Purple is a collection of letters from a black woman named Celie to God and eventually to her sister, Nettie, covering 20 years of her life from 14 when she was being sexually and physically abused by her father, and eventually marrying an equally abusive husband she calls "Mister". We learn of her new family, of her missing her sister and her friendship with a singer named Shug, who reveals to Celie that Mister is keeping her sister's letters to her in an attempt to keep here where she is. The Color Purple is the story of Celie's journey from being a victim to a survivor, from hate to love, and of family and friends and faith.
So, reading The Color Purple while I was in Boracay was interesting. Being surrounded by so much beauty and pleasure and luxury makes it hard to concentrate on what Celie was experiencing, but it was also eye-opening because somehow, reading this while on vacation kept me a bit grounded in the fact that life for other people isn't a vacation. There's so much pain and suffering in the first few pages of this book that it almost feels like it's going to be a hard book to read, but Celie's resilient personality shone through. Her letters were heartfelt and honest, and I felt myself rooting for her as the letters came.
I read in one of my friend's reviews that it was implied in this novel that God was Celie's most attentive listener -- and I realized that I can relate to that! Every morning (or whatever time I wake up when I am on night shift), one of the first things I do is go to my room, open my Bible and pray. I used to pray only in my mind but I always end up falling asleep when I do just that, so I learned to write my prayers down in my journals. Ever since then I have filled so many journals with my prayers, and thinking back, I never felt that God had been inattentive to me in any of my entries. Though Celie somehow lost hold of her faith somewhere in the middle of the novel, there was still that lingering faith there, about how God listens and how the God she knows answered her prayer in the end. Looking back at all my entries, I realized the same was true for me -- and if I read some of them there, I find that the God I know has answered my prayers. It's not always the same way I expected, but they were answered in the best way and they were for my good.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a pretty powerful novel, if you don't let the coarseness of the language and the format get to you. It had the same feel as A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and The Nickel Plated Beauty by Patricia Beatty, only it's more adult and possibly more touching. While it's not the perfect beach read, it was a pretty good reminder that there is a life outside beaches and iPhones that take an unexpected bath in saltwater....more
When I was new with my current job, one of my colleagues told me about his favorite book, one that, according to him, maOriginal post at One More Page
When I was new with my current job, one of my colleagues told me about his favorite book, one that, according to him, made him laugh like a crazy loon by himself. I didn't really take note of it, since our reading genres were very different, and even when he lent me a copy of the book, I still didn't give much thought about it. When I first met my new friends at the book club, I saw one of them carry this big black book that looks like a dictionary...or a Bible, even. Just like that, I found myself encountering that same book again.
Of course, I still didn't read it, because I just wasn't interested. But ever since we started a 100 Favorite Books list in our book club, and ever since we all decided to discuss books face to face, I had run out of excuses. After years and years of not paying attention to the book, I finally picked up a copy and read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
How do I describe what this book without spoiling things, or without thinking everything I am writing is absolutely ridiculous is a bit of a problem, so I will just not write about that. Instead, I'll write about what this book has: the end of the world. Oh, but not the Mayan kind with natural disasters. There's also a poor guy who just happened to be at one place at a certain time who may not be so poor now because he practically becomes the last human being everywhere. And then there were aliens. Spaceships, too. And finally, the Ultimate Question. Or, not.
My friend was right, though -- this book was very funny. I found myself giggling every now and then to this book, often times while I was on my commute to work or some other place. I've always been wary about sci-fi stuff because I feel like my brain cannot comprehend much of it, but I found The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy quite readable even if it was absolutely absurd at some point. Maybe that's really the point.
It's funny, yes, but I didn't really find it absolutely hilarious. It's good, but I don't really have the urge to get the next ones and read it immediately (although they did say it gets better there). I enjoyed it, but perhaps not quite as much as my friends enjoyed it.
However, I did enjoy discussing this book with my book club over breakfast. With questions about favorite characters, what we'll do in case the world ends and if we'll allow ourselves to have a babel fish (of course - very useful for travel!). Having a group of friends to discuss a book about in detail makes me like the book a little bit more, possibly because I tend to associate the memories with the book.
Goodreads Filipino Group - Face to Face Book Discussion # 3 (Photo c/o Kwesi)
And because it had to be commented: what kind of answer is 42, anyway?...more
It's the year 1984, and the world people live in isn't the same as the world we know today. In this version of the worldOriginal post at One More Page
It's the year 1984, and the world people live in isn't the same as the world we know today. In this version of the world, everyone lives under close scrutiny of Big Brother -- or at least representatives of Big Brother in the form of the Inner Party and the Thought Police. Here we meet Winston, a simple Party guy who is slowly realizing that maybe, there is something else other than the life he is living. Maybe the Party and Big Brother isn't always right. Maybe, just maybe, the truth that he's known all his life isn't the truth at all. What follows is Winston's "quest" to find out the real truth and perhaps even bring down Big Brother. But is Winston a big enough force to be reckoned with?
Totally honest moment: I would not have read 1984 if it wasn't our book club's book discussion book for January 2012. Perhaps I would have read it someday later, but not anytime soon. As much as I like dystopian novels (although not as much as I used to), I just didn't have enough interest in this book as my other friends did. But like I said, I should read it because I'm a moderator of the book club and it feels like I should read it.
During our book discussion, we were asked to give a word to describe the book, and my chosen word was challenging. It was challenging for me not because I couldn't grasp the story but because it took me an entire month to read the book. And it was a pretty short book too, if you think about it and I read pretty fast, so taking that long to read a certain book is really a new thing. But the truth is, I just wasn't that invested in it. You know how there are some books that reel you right in and would make you want to lose sleep while reading it? Well, 1984 didn't give me that impression. It's not that I didn't like it -- I did, but I just wasn't that invested in it to keep on reading it continuously. I think I may have read 10 books while reading this book -- if that isn't proof enough, then I don't know already. :P
1984 is a good novel, but I feel like my reading is slightly tainted by all the similarly themed YA dystopia books I have read. You know how the main characters often prevailed, or at least almost prevailed in all the YA dystopia books? Well, it isn't exactly the case here. I liked how the first part of the book started, but the second and third parts weren't exactly my cup of tea. Oh sure, they were brutal, they were unexpected, but like I said, I was used to reading characters who go against all the odds and somehow win even against a TOTALLY EVIL GOVERNMENT. Perhaps it's a YA thing, and this book was written way before the ones I know, so it has a really different approach.
The thing about 1984 though, is how it could have been real. Granted, I had myself pulled away form the narrative so much that I couldn't imagine it being real in the current society and all, but some points during our discussion got me thinking that yeah, maybe it could be possible. Just take social networking for example -- how many people can truly say they have their own privacy when they have a Facebook profile or update Twitter every minute or so? Or do we even really know how much information we put out online and how it affects us? It's a lot to think about.
Even so, there's a certain separation for me and 1984. Again, it's not that I didn't like it, but I also did not really love it as much as other people do. It's definitely one of those books that should be read if only to get a real grasp of how a dystopian society could look like. Honestly, I don't think a reader can be a true dystopian fan unless you have read 1984 (and Lois Lowry's The Giver). You haven't really seen a big bad evil government until you've read the classics, IMHO.
On a related note, though, I think having a real and intelligent book discussion on this book helped me understand and appreciate it more than I would have. It just goes to show that reading isn't always a solitary activity, and it's nice to be with like-minded people often with differing opinions to discuss a piece of literature. :)...more
Here's another book that I also watched as a cartoon when I was younger, although I think I read this one first before IOriginal post at One More Page
Here's another book that I also watched as a cartoon when I was younger, although I think I read this one first before I watched it. However, for the life of me, I cannot remember the details of this book anymore. I just know there was Mary, and there was Dickon the outdoor boy, and Colin, the invalid cousin. I cannot remember the tiny details even if I know I have watched the movie several times (the image of Mary's hand extending out of the ivy curtain from the door of the secret garden beckoning someone to come in is still clear in my mind). If in A Little Princess and in Little Lord Fauntleroy, the author's main characters were easy to love characters, The Secret Garden takes a different turn by introducing Mary Lennox also known as "Mistress Mary quite contrary". Mary is a spoiled and neglected kid from India who grew up with her mom's servants answering every beck and call. A cholera outbreak left the little girl orphaned, and she was adopted by an equally distant uncle to live in Misselthwaite Manor, instructed to keep out of locked rooms and not be a bother. But when Mary discovers a secret garden locked for the past decade within the manor grounds and decided to take care of it, she finds herself changing from the spoiled kid to someone more likeable. As Mary was going through the changes, she discovers her sickly cousin Colin who believes that he will die soon of some kind of disease. Mary shares her secret with Colin -- but will the garden's magic have an effect on someone who's so convinced that he will no longer see tomorrow?
The Secret Garden was refreshing from all the Frances Hodgson Burnett books I've read because Mary Lennox wasn't an easy character to like. She was spoiled, stubborn and was used to having her own way. I remember the cartoon showing Mary was a pretty nice girl but the people in the Manor -- particularly Mrs. Medlock -- were too strict, but reading the book told me otherwise. There really wasn't anything likeable about her, up until she changes because of the garden and even then, she still had those little quirks that could be annoying.
But the interesting thing here was when Mary found herself meeting a boy who was even more spoiled than she was, and one who suffers a very bleak mindset. It was interesting to see how Mary challenges the way Colin thinks by just being her spoiled, stubborn self. The scene where Mary dealt with Colin's tantrums was one of my favorites, because Mary stayed true to her character up until the end -- I find myself thinking like one of the servants in the Manor thinking "How brave of her to do something like that!" Colin was really a piece of work, and I found myself taking even a longer time to warm up to him even if I knew he gets to be a better person in the end. On the other side of the spectrum is Dickon, the boy from the moor and the animal charmer. I remember his playful character in the cartoon, but I think the book version was less mischievous but equally charming, especially with all the animals he brings around. Dickon provides a good balance between Mary and Colin, and I had to admit I was very excited for his first appearance in the book as I was reading it!
While the two other Frances Hodgson Burnett novels I've read dealt with how a kind heart can weather any storm or soften any heart, The Secret Garden was kind of the reverse. This book showed how beauty and nature can revive a tired and hopeless spirit, how the "Magic" in everyday things can change even the sourest and saddest people into living. It's easy to see why this book became so timeless: at some point, we've all hoped to find an old key that leads to a secret garden where we can find solace, to watch beauty unfurl and to be a part of magic of nature.
Of all her novels I've read, I find The Secret Garden as the most realistic but also the most whimsical. While my favorite is still A Little Princess, I think The Secret Garden is the type of book that would be a good companion for anyone who's recovering from any kind of heartache or sadness. After all, we can all use a little bit of Magic in our lives. :)
Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.
"Where, you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow." (p. 289)
First off - I don't think I'd go through the trouble of summarizing A Game of Thrones because I'm pretty sure practicallOriginal post at One More Page
First off - I don't think I'd go through the trouble of summarizing A Game of Thrones because I'm pretty sure practically everyone knows what this is about. In case you don't...well, it's about several families living in a land called Westeros, all of whom seem to be at war (or at least, are set to manipulating and wiping off other family lines) with each other to claim the power among the land. There are several story lines explored in the book that if I try to explain will either take too long, or spoil you, so let's not get to that. But in case you're not interested in reading the book (it is a doorstopper), there's always the HBO TV series based on the book which will probably tell you everything you need to know.
So. I really had no plans of reading this, until I got this crazy idea last year to get a copy of the boxed set because...well, it looks cool. I don't watch the TV series, though, so the interest in this was purely from a reading standpoint. I figured that I will probably watch the TV series at some point, but before that, I will read the book first. I am a purist, I told myself. Books before TV shows, or movies, yes?
But I was entirely unprepared at the length of these books. When I saw that the second book in the series was a 1000+ pages, I decided not to get the entire set. Too much investment, I thought. So I got the first book instead, thinking that if I end up liking it, I will probably get the next ones. Never mind if the boxed set is pretty.
Months passed, and I still haven't cracked the book open. It stared at me from my shelf, daring me to read it. The only reason I was hesitant to read this was because it was so thick. YA books tend to be 400 pages max, and anything longer than that, I felt like it was already too long, and would require too much investment, especially with all the other books in my TBR. 800+ pages in just one book? How long will I finish that? But I was determined, and I picked it up several times only to get distracted by something else. Finally, some friends from the book club joined me in a Buddy Read for this book...and I was in it for real. Can I make it? Especially in the same month that our book club has Fellowship of the Ring as its book of the month?
Well friends, I made it. Without throwing the book away, or screaming in frustration. I shook my fist several times, I cringed, but I made it to the end and let out a loud whoop when I was done. To be perfectly honest, I feel like this was such a huge reading accomplishment that I can't help but be proud of myself. (Also a confession: every time I bring the book outside to read it -- on the gym, or while commuting -- I can't help but feel so cool. Like I have this cool, intellectual and geeky vibe because I'm reading this book. Is it just me? :P) And have you noticed how I haven't really written anything about the book yet in this review?
But what else is there to say about this that hasn't been said? A Game of Thrones is a very, very engaging book. The sheer number of characters and names can be intimidating and it can be hard to keep them straight sometimes, but honestly? You can dismiss some of the character names because they're not so important. The real problem is how not to get attached to anyone because what other fans of the series said is true: characters die in this book. Wait, let me correct that: characters you don't want to die will die in this book. By that I leave you to wonder, but really, get your heart ready because if you're the type who gets attached to characters easily, then you would probably throw A Game of Thronesaway from you several times while reading this.
That being said, though, I enjoyed the two weeks or so I spent reading this book, so much that it almost didn't feel like it was two weeks. I was fascinated with the world of Westeros and the Wall and the Starks and Lannisters and the other Houses. It's not just court politics or people killing each other for a throne or a crown. There's family, there's loyalty, and personal revelations about the characters' identities as they go through their own challenges. Of course, there were those other things that my friends warned me about too, such as incest and rape and all that, but they weren't really as graphic as I expected in this book. Mind you -- I'm not comfortable about it so I tend to skim, but they're not really as explicit as I thought they were. Wait, I think my friends were warning me about the TV series, not the book.
Anyway, I enjoyed reading A Game of Thrones. Honestly, I was kind of surprised that I did -- not that I was expecting not to like it, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I understand why so many people are hooked on this series. Will I read the next book? Yes, most probably. Not anytime soon, though, because I'm still taking a breather with this. But maybe I'll watch the second season of the TV series first before reading A Clash of Kings, just to change things a bit. :)
A week after I finished reading Kingdom Come, I felt the urge to read another graphic novel because, well, I was sick,Original post at One More Page
A week after I finished reading Kingdom Come, I felt the urge to read another graphic novel because, well, I was sick, and actual wordy novels made me dizzy and/or sleepy. So I finally decided to pick up The Filipino Heroes League Book 1: Sticks and Stones by Paolo Fabregas, which I bought after Jason's very enthusiastic recommendation.
The Filipino Heroes League, or FHL, were a group of superheroes that fight injustice and help the police apprehend criminals in the Philippines. Well, they fought, but because of bad economy and the defeat of all Filipino supervillains in the country, some of the heroes have decided to take on normal people jobs using their powers, and/or migrate to other countries in hopes of being an international superhero and making it big.
We meet two of our heroes still loyal to the FHL, Kidlat Kid and Vis, who are off to catch bank robbers. After dismissing a warning from a kid who told them his classmate will kill a public official, they race off in a pedicab to catch the criminals, only to be scolded by the police after they set the van on fire with the stolen money still inside it. Meanwhile, government people who are in favor of the president's impeachment are being killed one by one. When the remaining members of FHL are framed for these murders, they escape, only to find out that (1) there's another group of "superheroes" who are off to get them and make them look bad, and (2) there's a bigger conspiracy that ties all these events together, and tells them that what the FHL believed all this time may just not be true.
Fresh from reading Kingdom Come, FHL turned out to be a very fun read. I loved the local references, and how these heroes are just so...Filipino. The characters were fun, the dialogue was so familiar and the story was so gripping that I almost wished I bought this when the second book is out just so I would know immediately what happens next. I thought it was very well-written and easy to read, and it served as great entertainment for the few hours that I sat down reading this. :) I especially loved Kidlat Kid -- he reminded me so much of Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender! :)
I thought it felt right to juxtapose this book with Kingdom Come, because they have similar elements: a team of superheroes, some of them forgotten and set aside, all trying to make things right with the best of their abilities. Of course, Kingdom Come takes well-known characters so it obviously has more punch, but I think FHL is pretty much at par with its foreign counterparts.
If you're looking for another good, local graphic novel to get you by while waiting for, say, the next Trese book, then I recommend the first book of The Filipino Heroes League. It helps that Budjette Tan edited this book, too.
And once again: I really, really can't wait for the next book. When is it coming out?...more
Jane Eyre is one of those books that I've always planned to read ever since I said I'd read more classics, but of courseOriginal post at One More Page
Jane Eyre is one of those books that I've always planned to read ever since I said I'd read more classics, but of course, never got around to because there was no immediate reason for me to read it. I was also very wary about how much time I would have to invest with this, knowing how dated the language of classic books can be, and its length. With all the books waiting on my TBR pile, and the slowness of my reading pace lately, do I really want to read a thick classic book?
But alas, I had to read Jane Eyre because, as I mentioned a couple of days ago, I was assigned to be a moderator for my book club's fourth monthly book discussion. As someone who likes grabbing an excuse to do things, I took this chance to finally get cracking on this hefty volume. I want to do a good job on moderating the discussion, so I wanted to get this right.
Jane Eyre is an orphan, and she lived with her aunt and cousins for the past first ten years of her life. She hated living there as she was often maltreated by her aunt and cousins, so when she was finally given a chance to go to school, she takes the chance without looking back. Her years in the Lowood boarding school taught her much and prepared her for her job as governess at Thornfield Hall. But even with all these, none of these really prepared her for meeting (and eventually falling in love with) her employer, Edward Rochester.
I was surprised at the readability of Jane Eyre. It was very easy to get into the prose and even if I wasn't able to read a few pages on several days because I was too busy, I was able to dive back in to the story without having to read back a couple of pages (or worse, read right back from the start, like how I was during the first time I read Pride and Prejudice). Jane was very easy to like and her point of view was such a pleasure to read, her thoughts showing her as a pretty independent and mature woman for her age. It's not fluff, but I can't really call it dark either because I never felt that it wasn't even with all the references to the silent manor and the weather and all that.
Of course, one cannot deny the romantic aspect of this novel. It was oftentimes cute and there were some swoon-worthy moments, but I just had to laugh at how corny and Rochester's lines can be! I often called it "Style mo bulok" (loose translation: a Filipino slang term for old-fashioned romantic moves) because his lines were often laughable even if it is still romantic. Their conversations/verbal sparring made their interactions most fun, and I liked how their affection for each other developed from this and not from just physical attraction. I liked how the story didn't focus purely on the romance (even if it was pretty much the climax of it), but on Jane's choices based on what she knew was good for her and her heart. I can see what makes this book a feminine novel, but it's not too much in-your-face that makes this book less appealing to males. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were a lot of guys who finished reading the book and shared their insights in the book discussion. :)
A few days ago, I was talking to some bookish friends about Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, and one of them talked about how the Brontë sisters' novels appeal more to the younger crowd while people tend to appreciate Austen more when they're done with high school or college. Brontë novels tend to focus more on the drama, almost akin to Filipino soap operas that bring on the drama to reel the audience in. I find myself agreeing because comparing Jane Eyre with the few Austens I've read, it does have that kind of generation gap. Of course it's understandable because Austen was born before Charlotte Brontë, and Jane Eyre was written while Charlotte was young. But there is a certain kind of sophistication and lack of drama (and complicated language, I admit!) in Austen's novels that make them different. That doesn't mean Jane Eyre isn't good, of course, or that there's a superior author between them, but it's just an interesting thing to note. While Jane Eyre didn't exactly make me swoon like Persuasion did, I think Jane Eyre is a very good classic book. I am glad that I was given the excuse to read it now rather than later, and I am still very honored to be the one to moderate our book club's Jane Eyre discussion. :)...more
It's a rare occurrence nowadays when I actually review a book I just finished reading. Usually it takes me a few days weOriginal post at One More Page
It's a rare occurrence nowadays when I actually review a book I just finished reading. Usually it takes me a few days weeks to write one, but since this is up for discussion for our book club this weekend, I thought I'd try something new and actually write a review soon after I finished the book.
The Remains of the Dayby Kazuo Ishiguro is the story about a butler. Stevens has been a butler for Darlington Hall for almost all his life, working for the "great" Lord Darlington and later for an American gentleman, Mr. Farraday, who bought the big house soon after Lord Darlington passed away. When his American employer told him to go take a vacation while he is away, Stevens sets off on a motoring trip to meet an old colleague, Miss Kenton, with the pretense of asking her to work for them again to correct some certain staffing errors in Darlington Hall. As with every road motoring trip done in solitude, Stevens thinks of his experiences and subtly questions the things he knew about his old employer and his own affections for a certain co-worker.
Hindsight is 20/20. That's a popular quote that I never really understood until I started thinking about things more often than usual, and I wish it wasn't always the case -- the thinking and how hindsight can be 20/20, I mean. Sometimes I wish we could make better decisions when we need to, and not regret things in the end when we realize how we could have done better and we should have done this. That's one of the things I remembered while reading The Remains of the Day. Stevens is an interesting character, not quite like Kathy H from Never Let Me Go, but also the same in how they reminisce the past. Of course, Stevens is older, so he has more experience so to speak, but can I be honest? Sometimes I have to admit that the experience he shares can be quite...boring. Maybe it's because I can't exactly relate to him. Or maybe because we have a kind of generation gap. It was interesting to see what he thinks of dignity and what he thinks of his employer, and how he tells of tales from when he served him. He didn't question it back then, and even as he related his stories he never questioned it either -- but there was that subtle doubt that made me wonder if he thought if he could do anything about it, or if he should do anything, given that he was just a butler. Does he have the power to do it? Can he even say anything about it, especially since he believes that his employer is a good man? To put it in a better and more personal context: I'm an employee of a multinational company, one of thousands in this country. Do my decisions count? Can my voice be heard amongst all the executives? Do I have a right to say something if I notice something is amiss? Or will I even notice that? And finally, if I do that, will I even matter?
I don't want to be a fool wondering what might have been. Trivia: in college, I used to like that song. :P As with Never Let Me Go, there's a certain romantic aspect in The Remains of the Day, too. Miss Kenton was one of the characters that Stevens kept on talking about, and I found his interactions with her both annoying and hilarious. To say more would be spoilery, but I had to laugh at their interactions because they seem to be beating around the bush and making excuses about their conversations. It goes to show that even someone as "dignified" and knowledgeable (in his own right) as Mr. Stevens can know nothing about how women are -- but maybe it's because it was his choice. I can't blame him too much, though. He made his choice, even if he didn't know it, which forced Miss Kenton to make her own, leading them to where they both ended up in the end.
There's no time for my regrets. One of our pre-work for the book discussion this weekend is to write a piece that talks about love, loss, hope, and/or regret. When I was writing my piece, I realized one thing: it was easy to remember tales of love and hope, but not of loss and regret. Perhaps it's because I don't have any tales of loss and regret (thank God for that). I figure that is true for loss, but for regret, I'd like to think it's because I've long told myself that I choose not to regret over anything. Maybe that's me being positive, but I have always believed that mistakes are made for learning and there's always a higher purpose to why things happened, and regrets will just bog you down. I guess what matters is how we should be aware of our choices so we won't have to think of regrets in the future.Yes, hindsight is 20/20, and we won't really know if we chose the right thing later on. But like I said, maybe all we need to do is to trust that things will be okay, eventually, and that despite making wrong choices, we always have a choice on how we shall see our life after that.
The Remains of the Day is my second Ishiguro, and I'm glad that it still has that quiet, calm writing, one that I really needed after reading several high-action zombie books. I really loved my first Ishiguro, so I had high expectations for this one which I am glad was met. It's not quite as amazing as Never Let Me Go, IMO, but it's a good book that makes you think about life, just as how I did in this review, I think! :) This will definitely not be my last Ishiguro book.
Also, you know what, maybe I will reread this a few years later, to see if I still think of the book the same way as I do now....more
Noli Me Tangere is a revolutionary book by our national hero, Jose Rizal, and is said to spark the revolution against tOriginal post at One More Page
Noli Me Tangere is a revolutionary book by our national hero, Jose Rizal, and is said to spark the revolution against the Spanish rule in our country. This was areal required reading book for Filipino high school students so I was able to read this book for our Filipino class. Or at least, I was able to read a condensed version of this book, since our textbook back then contained summarized chapters with discussion questions (which we have to summarize yet again and answer). We were also required to watch movies related to the book (and the author), as well as watch a stage play and produce our own in high school. So I was really, pretty much saturated by this then that I felt that I had no reason to read it again.
I remember liking it very much in high school. A few years later, when I was getting serious with reading more local fiction, I realized that I haven't read the full text of Noli MeTangere. Because I was ambitious like that, I said that I would read it in its entirety someday. I planned to read it last year but gave up after the first 100 or so pages. ^^; Then the opportunity came again when it became our book club's book of the month for August, so I thought: this is it. I thought I would be able to read it easier now, given that I've been venturing out of my reading comfort zone lately.
Of course, I was wrong. I don't know if I was just simply busy, but Noli Me Tangere proved to be a difficult read. It was easy for the first third or so, but I lagged so much after that I wasn't sure if I could finish it. Then I got past 400 pages, and I realized that there were about 50+ pages of appendices that didn't count in the total story, so it was just 150+ pages before the end. I powered through and finished 3am on the day of our discussion. Buzzer beater!
To cut the long story short: as a piece of fiction, I didn't see Noli Me Tangere as a really good book. It had a lot of good moments, but half the time, it was kind of dragging. There were a lot of chapters where nothing really happened except the people were talking about what just happened in the previous chapter -- gossiping characters, which is actually a very Filipino trait, but it felt like fodder in the story. The main characters were a little one-dimensional, and I wonder why I actually liked reading about Crisostomo Ibarra back then when he can be so...boring. Maria Clara was far from the strong female character that I liked reading in my books, and in fact, I liked her best friend, Sinang, more. There was some kind of hope in Padre Damaso, who showed a bit more depth in his character, but it wasn't until the very end.
Saying these makes me feel like I'm a bad Filipino, eep. :| But it's not that it's a bad book -- Rizal is a talented writer and I liked several parts of the book for its descriptive but not purple writing. I really ended up still liking the book in the end, despite the struggle. Maybe I was just really busy for August that's why it was hard to read? But I figure there may be two other reasons for this: first is that even if I first heard of the story 11 years ago, it was still too close to my schooling years that reading it again still felt too academic and I can't get out of that mindset. Another is that...perhaps it's just not really my kind of book just yet.
I really, really appreciate the effort behind producing this book, as well as how it was instrumental to major events in my country's history. I wanted to give this book 3 stars, but I felt like I owe this book something because of what it sparked for my country's freedom. I am gratefu for that, and it makes the difficulty of reading this book easier to forgive compared to the other difficult books I've read. Overall, it's okay, and I honor Jose Rizal for it. I'm glad that I have finally read Noli Me Tangere and I will read the full text of its sequel someday (not sure how soon, but someday!). But I totally understand now why we were given a condensed version back in high school. :) ...more
There are books that grab you by the collar from the very start and force you to pay attention to what you are reading.Original post at One More Page
There are books that grab you by the collar from the very start and force you to pay attention to what you are reading. These books are typically the explosive, action-packed ones, ones that plunge you right into the action, leaving you breathless from the start all the way up to the last page. However, there are books that start off quiet, with barely a bang. You're not quite sure what would happen with these books, but you allow yourself to be carried gently with the languid flow of the story. You think it wouldn't really grip you so much as those action-packed books that you can put it down every now and then, reading at your own pace.
And then it proves you wrong. Somewhere in the story, the book grabs you by the hand and pulls you in, refusing to let go unless you get to the very last page, and you're left even more breathless, wondering what just happened in the past pages and chapters.
That, my friends, is the kind of book Never Let Me Goby Kazuo Ishiguro is.
I've been seeing this book for a long time now, but I never thought of picking it up because I often confuse it with other books written by Japanese authors that I am not sure if I want to read. Even my friends reading it in my book club didn't make me read it because by then, I was more into reading YA books, and I never thought it would be something I'd like to read, anyway. When I ran across its ebook on sale on Kindle, I finally surrendered and purchased it. If my other friends liked it, I probably would, too, right?
Never Let Me Gotells the story of friends Kathy H, Tommy D and Ruth, who all met and grew up in Hailsham, a private boarding school somewhere in England. Kathy, now 31 years old, narrates her memories of her life as a child and early teen there, the next years as she, Tommy and Ruth moved to the Cottages after their time in Hailsham and finally her years as a carer where she crosses paths with Tommy and Ruth again. The book is really a collection of Kathy's memories, told almost out of chronological order but in a way of significance, all leading to the readers wondering who Kathy is, why there were in Hailsham and what they are up to in present time.
To say anything more would be a spoiler, so I will leave you at that. I was partially spoiled already as I read the book because of some reviews that I read even if it was clearly marked with a spoiler. However, that didn't lessen the enjoyment of reading this wonderful piece of work. As I mentioned above, Never Let Me Go is a book that starts off very quiet, with hardly any bang. In fact, there isn't really much excitement in the book, yet I never found it boring. Kathy's voice rang clear all throughout the book. It almost felt like I was sitting with her in a shop and she was just telling me her life story, or perhaps I was sitting at the passenger seat of her car as she regaled to me their little misadventures in Hailsham.
Even if it was told in Kathy's point of view, the other characters' voices were distinct, too. Kathy tells her stories about her friends with little bias to herself, which allows us to see and forgive them for their own faults towards the heroine. For example, every time I would feel annoyed at Ruth for being so dominating, Kathy would say something to make me understand her in a way, or would convince me that somehow Kathy was also at fault. Perhaps it was written that way because these are Kathy's recollections and at her age, she definitely knew better than she knew then. Tommy and Ruth felt as real as Kathy was, and I truly felt their importance in Kathy's life.
The strength of the characters didn't really water down the plot, so there is still much satisfaction as the secrets behind their existence and Hailsham were revealed. As these are Kathy's memories, they tend to jump from one scene to another before going back to the original intent. It may take a bit to get used to that kind of narration and it may turn some people off. However, that is almost the same way as some Sarah Dessen novels are, so I'm fairly used to that. Everything is revealed gradually and there seemed to be a quiet acceptance to everything that's happening that even I am convinced that it's really just the way it is and there is no way out.
Perhaps that is the most striking thing about Never Let Me Go. Kathy tells her story as if there was no other alternative, that it is really the only way for her and her friends. There is a quiet resignation in Kathy that she was destined to do what she was made to do, that there was no other choice but that. It makes me wonder what I would have done if I grew up in Hailsham and I knew what I know as I read this book -- would I accept my fate as Kathy did or will I rebel? Or what if I was a guardian -- how can I face those kids everyday for the first thirteen years or so of their life knowing what awaits them sometime in their life? Can my conscience take it, even if it is all in the name of science and the progress of humanity?
A movie version of this book starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Kiera Knightley came out last year (in all other parts of the world, that is. It hasn't been shown here yet). If you're planning to read this, DO NOT watch the movie trailer if you don't want to be spoiled. I haven't watched the movie yet, so I don't know the difference, but it is always wiser to read the book first before watching the movie. Even if you're not much of a reader, Never Let Me Go is too good of a book to pass up for the movie version. Make it one of the few books that you'd read in your life, if you must.
Never Let Me Go is one book that truly did not let me go (no pun intended). It reeled me in with its simplicity and refused to let me move on long after I finished with the last page. Beautiful and haunting, this is definitely one of my best reads for this year....more
What better book to read during the holidays than C.S. Lewis' classic, The Chronicles of Narnia? While I was lamenting aOriginal post at One More Page
What better book to read during the holidays than C.S. Lewis' classic, The Chronicles of Narnia? While I was lamenting at how I never read The Giver back in high school, I was also sad that The Chronicles of Narnia were never required reading for school, too. I've heard of the series for a long time now, but I never really knew of the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe until senior year in college, right before the movie showed. I was already nineteen then! Why was this never a part of my childhood? I am glad that Scholastic had a book fair at my office a couple of years later -- I got the entire Narnia boxed set for only Php 500 (around USD 11).
Still, it took me a while to read it, and it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I decided to go on a Narnia trip for Christmas. Like I said, what better book to read during the holidays, right?
In case you were like me who's never read this book or watched the movie or even a stage play of this, here's a quick recap: siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy were sent to stay at a Professor's house, and during one game of hide and seek, Lucy stumbles upon the land of Narnia through a wardrobe. She makes friends with a faun, Mr. Tumnus, and she finds out that Narnia has been stuck in winter for a long time because of a White Witch Jadis. Later on the siblings end up all going to Narnia, and they find out that they are the fulfillment of a prophecy and the Great Lion Aslan is on his way back to Narnia to restore the land.
I first "read" this book through an audiobook before the movie was shown in the cinemas. I loved the audiobook. Then I watched the movie and I loved it too -- not caring if there were any differences from what I "read". I think I loved it because it was a Christian novel, and I truly related to what Edmund did and what Aslan did for him. Aslan became one of my favorite fictional characters, and I always loved it whenever he shows up on the movies (but that may be because Aslan is voiced by Liam Neeson).
Reading the book for the first time reminded me so much of all the things I loved from the audio book and the movie, and maybe even more. Since the entire Narnia series is written as children's books, the text is lyrical and there's a whimsical feel in the story, almost like when I was reading the fairy tale books when I was a kid. I think the only way to describe this book is it's magical. I don't know if it's just Christmas, or if it's because I'm more receptive to fantasy now than I was a year ago, but I really enjoyed reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I think that if I read this as a kid, I may not have been able to appreciate it as much as I do now, so maybe reading it this late in my life is a good thing. :)
I don't think I'd have the time to read the rest of the Narnia books before the year ends, but I will finish reading them soon. :) When I have children, I will make sure to have copies of these books at home so they can read it and visit Narnia anytime they want to.
And one more thing: show of hands to anyone who can relate to Edmund? I know I do....more
One of my favorite (and probably the most popular) Bible verses other than John 3:16 and the multitude of verses that I'Original post at One More Page
One of my favorite (and probably the most popular) Bible verses other than John 3:16 and the multitude of verses that I've highlighted in my Bible is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. I'm pretty sure you've read these verses at one point in your life, too:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
These verses reminds me of those days in my Catholic community, as well as days of reading and re-reading Nicholas Sparks' A Walk to Remember and crying as Landon read these passages to Jamie. I've heard them said so many times during wedding videos that my brother makes, and quoted so many times in blogs and posts about love. These verses have the power to make me feel all tingly and good inside as well as convict me of the times when I'm not as loving as I should be.
I remember during one of my heads in my Catholic community tell us that these verses on love sets the standard on what love really and truly is, and if I can replace "love" with my name, that means I am somehow living this. I've never really tried that because halfway through, I'd feel guilty because I know I'm not what love is. I'm not always patient, I'm not always kind. I am proud, I envy, I boast, I am self-seeking, I am easily angered, I keep records of wrong. As much as I'd like to believe that I can be what these verses say, I am only human and I fail way too many times.
It took me a while to write a review for C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces because I wasn't sure what to write about it. I had to mull it over for two weeks until I remember what Paul said to the Corinthians and realized that this is what the novel is all about. Till We Have Faces is told by Princess Orual of Glome, the unattractive daughter of a tyrannical king, who loved her half-sister Psyche so much that she couldn't see past her love that she thought was the only thing right. It was a bad time in Glome when Orual was at her highest, loving and caring for Psyche not just as a sister but as a mother that they never had. Orual's world is shattered when the priests of the goddess Ungit tells their father that they need to offer Psyche as a sacrifice to the fearsome ShadowBrute to appease the goddess. Orual thought it would be the end of Psyche, but to her surprise, she finds that a god has fallen in love with Psyche and made her his wife. As Orual wrestles with the turn of events, her heart and the gods themselves, she finds that there was more to love that she needed to learn and unlearn for her to truly understand what love really is.
This is unlike any other C.S. Lewis novel I've read, but I'm no authority since I haven't really read them all. I probably wouldn't have heard of this book if it weren't for my friend RE, and I wouldn't know that this is known to be C.S. Lewis' best work. Till We Have Faces is rough, almost brutal, but there is a beauty in the story that satiated my need for very good fantasy. It's deep, but not so much that you wouldn't understand the story or the writing as you read it. It almost didn't feel like it was a Lewis novel, with all the gods and goddesses and pagan practices in it. But Till We Have Faces creeps up on you slowly, taking over your mind as you try and mull over the ideas and thoughts it presented. Well, that's what it did to me, anyway. It was hard to review the book because I didn't know how to approach it. I wasn't sure which character I related to, and I didn't know how to discuss the story without giving away or missing the important points. I enjoyed reading it, but I think this is the type of book that needs re-reading every now and then to fully understand it all.
I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy it -- I did, very much. It's just...deep. And like I said, its depth forced me to think and to see how similar I am to Orual. I wonder what Orual would have thought of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians about love. I wonder if I would act the same way as she did when she found out about Psyche being a wife of a god that I cannot comprehend, of how the person I loved the most longed for something else and how my love cannot satisfy her. I wonder if the love I give is as possessive as Orual's, and if this would eventually cause the death of the people and the relationships around me. I wonder if I will ever be able to know and see love as Psyche did, and if my name would ever be worthy enough to replace that word in Paul's epistle.
I think that's the real strength of C.S. Lewis' works: not only do they entertain, but they make the readers really think. Till We Have Faces is a beautiful novel, definitely one that needs to be present in a reader's collection and revisited every now and then. I'm buying my own copy after Lent for sure.
I end this review with the last line of the book -- not a spoiler, don't worry, but definitely one of the best last lines I've ever read:
I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?
I spotted Naermyth by Karen Francisco in Fully Booked by sheer accident. I was supposed to get The Giver by Lois LowryOriginal post at One More Page
I spotted Naermyth by Karen Francisco in Fully Booked by sheer accident. I was supposed to get The Giver by Lois Lowry when I felt like ambling over to the Filipiniana section of the store and then I saw the black and orange spine of the book. I thought it was just a new local comics or something but when I read the blurb, I was sold. Could it be? Local dystopian fantasy? This I have to read.
Naermyth is a word play on the phrase "never myth", which is what the people used to describe creatures that caused the apocalypse after they attacked the human race. These are creatures from Philippine mythology that we have often watched or heard stories from as children -- aswang, duwende, kapre, nuno sa punso, diwata, etc -- that we thought were just that: myths. However, it turns out they were never myths at all, and they attacked defenseless humans, quickly wiping out civilizations and most of the population. The only remaining resistance against these creatures are the National Bureau of Conflict and Transport or the NaBuCAT, informally known as the Shepherds, who find remaining survivors and give them refuge against the Naermyth.
The story is set in the Philippines 5 years after the war between human and Naermyth started. We meet Athena "Aegis" Dizon, one of the best Shepherds on their way back to the Ruins after a rescue mission. Aegis is one of the best Shepherds in their NaBuCAT branch, but she is also one of the least affectionate and most brash among all of them, an issue that her brothers often tease her with. Aegis doesn't mind, because she knows that if she wants to live in the world now, there is no room to be soft. On their way back to their headquarters after a particularly bad night with an aswang and a duwende in the morning, Aegis rescues Dorian, a mysterious man who has no memory of the last five years and no knowledge of the Naermyth at all. Aegis brings him to the headquarters, and despite her usually brash nature, she finds herself connected to Dorian in ways she could not explain. When they find out what Dorian is, Aegis goes against all she believed in as a Shepherd to protect him. As Dorian tries to find out about his past, Aegis finds out more about hers, and they uncover a conspiracy that could destroy everything they had worked for.
I think the best thing about Naermyth is its realistic world building. It's often hard to get into dystopian fiction especially if the world is does not feel real, but Karen Francisco managed to create a very believable post-apocalyptic Philippines, making the different places in the country come alive as a setting. I liked how she used Ruins as a fortress from its bazaar status in the past, and how Makati is Naermyth territory because of how it used to be a swamp. It wasn't contained in Manila, too, but in other provinces in the Philippines: Baguio is a dead spot for Naermyth because of its altitude, as is Pangasinan being the country's salt center (salt was used as a weapon against aswang because it stops them from regenerating), while Capiz is obviously Naermyth headquarters. And it didn't stop there, too, because it's not post-apocalypse if it doesn't involve the rest of the world, right? Other countries were also affected by the uprising of these creatures, but each country has their own kind of Naermyth based on their folklore. Norway has dragons, and yes, even the Loch Ness monster is alive. With all these elements securely in place, it's easy to believe in the world that Aegis lives in, and I don't get surprised when weirder creatures surface.
That being said, however, Naermyth suffers from attempting to cover so much ground in one book. Don't get me wrong -- I liked a good mystery, I liked conspiracies, I liked betrayals in my dystopian fiction. However, I felt a little bit overwhelmed with all the events happening...and then, that feeling would be abruptly interrupted with information overload, in the form of a dialogue. It seemed like some parts of the book were too much tell rather show, and even the encounter with the bad guy at the end felt more telling than showing. Also, while I liked Aegis as a heroine, I wasn't sold on her past. I felt that it was opened up a little too late. If Aegis' past was so important in the end, I didn't feel it was stressed too much at the start since most of the focus was on her family and Dorian's past. The romantic angle was kind of weak, too, and personally, I could have done without it. And if you would allow me to nitpick a bit -- I was very distracted at how many synonyms of "said" were used. I'd like to believe that the characters don't always roar or scream when they're in a normal conversation. It is true what they said: replacing "said" a bit too many times in the text is very distracting.
I think Naermythis the first of its kind that is not a graphic novel (correct me if I am wrong, though), and I think it's a feat in itself. This book is a fulfillment of what some friends and I were wishing for a few months back: a fantasy novel written by a Filipino that makes use of the plethora of creatures from our own mythology. Despite my slight issue with the plot and the pacing and that little nitpick, I still enjoyed reading Naermyth. This is not YA, but I think YA dystopian fantasy fans will like this well enough. It's a solid debut, and this book gives me hope that we will see more Filipino fantasy books on shelves (virtual or not) soon. It's about time, don't you think? :)...more
A few days ago, I was lamenting over Twitter about how I seem to be deprived of good literature back when I was in schooOriginal post at One More Page
A few days ago, I was lamenting over Twitter about how I seem to be deprived of good literature back when I was in school. The only times I was required to read a novel for school was during senior year in high school and then in college. I didn't get my love of reading from school, that is for sure. Because of this, I wasn't able to read the books that my friends had read for school, and now I am making up for it.
But in a way, it's also good, because I get to read these books now for leisure instead of for grades. So I guess it's not really a loss?
I picked up The Giver early this week because I was pondering on getting Matched by Ally Condie via Kindle. I was hesitant to get the latter because there were many lukewarm/cold reviews on it from the reviewers I trust, and most of them compare it to the former. I decided that if I was getting Matched, I have to read The Giver first. I also thought that I cannot call myself a real dystopia reader if I haven't read this one, and it's always nice to go back to basics, right?
The story starts with Jonas as he thinks about the upcoming December ceremony in his community. He's about to turn Twelve, in in Jonas' world, turning Twelve means he is going to be given his Assignment in the community. He was kind of apprehensive about it because he had no idea what his Assignment would be. To his surprise, during the ceremony, Jonas was selected rather than assigned: he was selected to be the next Receiver of Memories. It was an honor to be selected, but it was also painful in ways the Elders cannot describe to Jonas. Little did Jonas know that the pain involved in his training is really more pain than he ever imagined, but at the same time, he was given the chance to experience true happiness that he had missed out in favor of an equal community.
There is a simplicity in The Giver that other dystopia novels nowadays do not have. Most of the dystopia (ex. The Hunger Games, The Knife of Never Letting Go) I read this year are about worlds that are not peaceful, where oppression is apparent and death and destruction are normal. The Giveris different because it presents itself first as a utopia -- a seemingly ideal world where there is no poverty, violence or inequality. The people in the community work as a well-oiled machine and truth be told, the control freak in me liked it. I liked how everything has its place, how everything was so orderly. It was so uncomplicated, and I wonder how it feels to live an uncomplicated life.
Wait, I think I know how it would be: boring. Sure, we could use less complicated living, but not always. I remember some times when there were so many things happening in my life that I'd wish for a boring one, but once nothing happens in my life, I would wish for something to happen just so I won't be bored. If I were to live in the world that Jonas lived in with my memories still intact, I would probably go crazy.
But that was the thing: no one had memories of the past except for The Giver. I loved the way Lowry described the Jonas' life before he became the Receiver. It may seem, well, boring, but the writing style fits the world perfectly. I liked how as Jonas learned more and more of the truth, that we get to feel the sadness and horror he felt when he realized that the utopia he is living in is not what it seems.
The ending is much-debated for its openness, but I liked it. I am fond of open endings because it gives me room to think, and it opens up a lot of possibilities that could be a springboard to a sequel. However, as some of my friends in Goodreads said, The Giver has the type of ending that could stand on its own without feeling the need to read its other companion novels.
It's a good book. The Giver is one of those books that you have to read even just once in your lifetime. It has this haunting sadness that made me really think of what utopia really is, and if it's really worth losing so much just to gain an uncomplicated life....more
I wasn't planning to read A Monster Calls soon, because I wanted to save it for my slump days. I heard so many good thinOriginal post at One More Page
I wasn't planning to read A Monster Calls soon, because I wanted to save it for my slump days. I heard so many good things about this, but I savored the fact that it was patiently waiting for me on my shelf. But last weekend, after my friend asked if I knew if this book is locally available, I had that urge to pick it up and read it, thinking it shouldn't take me too long. And if my fellow bloggers were right and this would also make me cry, at least I can do it in the privacy of my own home, right?
It's 12:07am. Our main character, Conor, wakes up from the nightmare, the one that's been haunting him ever since his mother had a "talk" with him. He wakes up, thinking someone has called his name, but there was no one in sight, save for that yew tree by the churchyard on a hill near his house. When the yew tree turns out to be a monster, Conor finds himself unafraid, because there were far scarier monsters in his world. The monster is a wild, ancient monster who comes with four stories: three coming from him and the fourth coming from Conor, the truth that he has been hiding for so long.
A Monster Calls is simple, really. It may seem like a paranormal or fantasy book from its title and the blurb and the cover, but it's really a contemporary novel at its core. I haven't read any of Siobhan Dowd's work, and I've only read two of Patrick Ness', but I didn't really have much doubt over how good this book would be. What surprised me, though, is how this book left me biting back the sobs as I finished it during breakfast on Sunday morning. Sure, The Knife of Never Letting Go made me shed some tears, but this! A Monster Calls had me sobbing. How my chest hurt so much with emotion, and how close it hit to my heart even if I am -- thankfully -- not in Conor's position.
But I think that's the thing. Anyone can easily be Conor. Anyone can easily be in his shoes, think his thoughts and find the same nightmare he wrestles with every night. But the thing is, not everyone can have "monsters" to tell us and help us face truths. I think this is why books like these are so important: in the absence of our own yew tree monster, we get this. We may not wake up with a monster calling our name, but we can always turn to a book like this and find important lessons that would give us strength to face some of the hardest parts of life.
Fans of Patrick Ness will undoubtedly love this book. I haven't even read the entire Chaos Walking trilogy yet and I am in awe of his writing prowess. If you were turned off by the any one of his previous novels, I urge you to give him another chance and read A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness is an excellent storyteller, and if that is not enough to convince you, maybe the illustrations by Jim Kay will (and these illustrations make this book worth to own in print):
Suffice to say that this is one of my "This is why I read!" moments. Patrick Ness has successfully made a mess out of my heart once again. There's a line in the book that perfectly fits what this book is:
"Stories are wild creatures...When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?"
And what a havoc this story wreaked, my friends. Beautiful and powerful. I definitely recommend A Monster Calls. ...more
So everyone who's ever read and loved science fiction has read and loved Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. My friends wOriginal post at One More Page
So everyone who's ever read and loved science fiction has read and loved Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. My friends who have read and loved science fiction also were true to their responsibility to push this book to everyone, particularly people who are curious about the said genre. Particularly, me.
But a little commercial first: I've always thought that I never read any science fiction book in my entire reading life. But it turns out, one of my favorite young adult series growing up was science fiction: Animorphs by K.A. Applegate. Five kids and one alien with the power to morph into any animal they touch against an alien race of parasite slugs set to invade the world? If that is not science fiction, I will eat my hat.
And so Ender's Game. It was duly recommended, but for some reason a copy eluded me until my friend Monique found one for me. Of course, as luck would have it, I end up seeing copies of the book everywhere after I got the copy. But anyway! Of course, it takes me another year to read it, but I don't really think it matters now.
The Wiggin children, Peter, Valentine and Andrew aka Ender, were all candidates for the soldier training program in their childhood, but only the youngest, Ender, makes the cut. Ender has always been distant with his family so joining Battle School wasn't much of a difference in his young life. Ender's skills made him a leader in Battle School, admired and hated at the same time by his classmates. But Ender's brilliance in the Battle Room had a price -- isolation, loneliness, and the fear that he is becoming like his older brother who he despises. But there are secrets around Ender's training, secrets that could very well mean the survival of the human race in a war against an alien race for the last hundred years.
Here's one thing about Ender's Game: it's so readable. I'm initially apprehensive of reading science fiction (and high fantasy) novels because I'm afraid of not being able to fully immerse into the world. If it's not very obvious yet, I'm really a contemporary reader and most of the books I read are set in the real world, so reading something set in a different world, or set in the future is quite a challenge for me. Orson Scott Card made Ender's Game very accessible, though, and it was easy enough to understand what was happening in Ender's world. Oh, I didn't really understand much of how the Battle School worked, or the space travel later into the book, but I had a pretty okay grasp with it early in the story, so reading it slowly became a breeze.
I loved the military set-up over the sci-fi aspect. People say this is really more of a military novel, and I kind of agree with that. Reading this reminded me of those Citizen Army Training days back in high school, where we'd practice rifle drills and do other activities during camp, like Search & Destroy and Escape & Evade (I hate the latter, btw). I liked reading about the strategies and the platoon (toon) set up and the promotions. I love reading about the war games in null gravity -- it made me wish that laser tag games here were done in the same environment! I would probably be the first to be frozen in that, but it would be so much fun. It was fascinating to see how Ender came up with strategies to confuse his enemies in the games and wonder at how he was able to see it and make it work. And there isn't just the military thing either. The political aspects of war -- in space and on earth -- were discussed, too, and it makes readers see that some well-placed words said (or written) on a platform can be enough to start a war. A bit of suspension of disbelief might be in order for the part of the novel is needed, but if you can believe that a six year old is the hope of the world against an alien race, then believing that part should be easy enough.
Poor Ender, though. I keep on forgetting that he was just a kid (six years old at the start of the novel) as the story progressed. He always seemed older, especially with all the military school talk. Ender's fighter qualities were admirable and oftentimes scary, but it was hard not to root for him in the story. I sympathized a lot with Valentine, Ender's sister, with how she cared for him because I wanted to take care of Ender too, and keep him a kid longer because he deserved to be one. I also liked Ender's friends, too, especially the ones who were with him at the end. There was this one particular scene that really made my heart swell with happiness for Ender that involved his friends, and it shows that true friends are those people who are with you in your darkest hours.
There is a fair amount of violence in this book, so a fair warning to those who think that this is about some kids who get roped into a "save the world" thing. Even more horrifying is that these are just kids beating each other up. Despite that, Ender's Game is pretty, well, darn good. I know I'm not a credible judge of science fiction since (like I said) I barely read the genre, but I think Ender's Game is science fiction at its simplest and maybe at its finest, too. It's no wonder why people kept on recommending this to me. If you're a newbie to science fiction and you're looking for titles to start with, then listen to everyone who has recommended this book to you because trust me: they are right about it. If it's not enough, then let its awards push you to the right direction. Also, a movie is coming out next year. Enough reasons? Get a copy and remember: the enemy's gate is down! :)...more
When I first heard about David Levithan's latest book, The Lover's Dictionary, I wanted to read it only because of theOriginal post at One More Page
When I first heard about David Levithan's latest book, The Lover's Dictionary, I wanted to read it only because of the clever idea behind the book. I love anything that involves wordplay. I loved the idea that this book is told using dictionary words, and for some reason, this gives me the feeling that this book has a universal feel to it, like anyone could relate to an entry here at one point. I ordered a copy off Book Depository a few weeks ago after I realized that it's cheaper there, and when it finally arrived, I actually dropped the books I was reading to devour this one.
The Lover's Dictionary is quite easy to devour given its short, dictionary-like format. This book, as mentioned in the blurb, tells the story of an unnamed couple, written using different words from a dictionary. The narrator, who is a guy based on the entries, is a writer while the girl seemed like a wild, whimsical character who seems to have enchanted our narrator. But as their relationship goes on, it gets harder for the both of them, and we readers are left wondering if the they decide to stay together or part.
The entries weren't written in chronological order so the timeline tends to jump from one anecdote to another, while others just seem like a sharing, or a comment on how the relationship is or how each has changed because of the relationship. It's equal parts sad and happy, a lot mushy and it tends to leave the readers pondering on what makes a relationship tick. There's something about finding common ground, which I really liked:
I noticed on your profile that you said you said you loved Charlotte's Web. So it was something we talked about on that first date, about how much the world radiant sealed it for ach of us, and how the most heartbreaking moment isn't when Charlotte dies, but when it looks like all of her children will leave Wilbur, too.
In the long view, did it matter that we shared this? Did it matter that we both drank coffee at night and both happened to go to Barcelona the summer after our senior year? In the long view, was it such a revelation that we were both ticklish and that we both liked dogs more than cats? Really, weren't these facts just placeholders until the long view could truly assert itself?
We were paining by numbers, starting with the greens. Because that happened to be our favorite color. And this, we figured, had to mean something.
Or this, about being intimidated by one another:
Really, we should use this more as a verb. You daunted me, and I daunted you. Or would it be that I was daunted by you and you were daunted by me? That sounds better. it daunted me that you were so beautiful, that you were so ate ease in social situations, as if every room was heliotropic, with you at the center. And I guess it daunted you that I had so many more friends than you, that I could put words together like this, on paper, and could sometimes conjure a certain sense out of things.
The key is to never recognize these imbalances. To not let the dauntingness daunt us.
I'm pretty sure the story the authors intended for the characters here is not the same for everyone, but I think everyone who's ever loved will find that they are able to relate to one or two or more entries in The Lover's Dictionary. This makes the book very rereadable, especially in random -- just pick it up, open to a page and read. This book also makes me wonder: if I were to make a dictionary of my own love life, what words would I use?
But alas, my own love life is still nonexistent. That fact made me a bit distant to the novel, because I can't relate. Not yet, anyway. However, The Lover's Dictionary affirms things that I know, based from stories, reading and yes, even experiences (the proper place to elaborate on this is on my personal blog :P): relationships are messy, it takes a lot of work and it would hurt both parties a lot...but allow me to believe that even so, relationships can be beautiful at the same time. :)
Whether you're a romantic or not, I recommend The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan. I'm sure you'll find a bit of yourself in one of the entries in this dictionary....more
I wasn't really planning on reading this book anytime soon, because I figure I should read my John Green novels in orderOriginal post at One More Page
I wasn't really planning on reading this book anytime soon, because I figure I should read my John Green novels in order of release: Looking for Alaska first, then An Abundance of Katherines and finally, Paper Towns. But sometimes, you will have some friends who absolutely love a certain book and they would not stop bugging you until you read that book they love, especially after they learned you got a copy (Hi Aaron!). So, Katherines, you'd have to wait for a while.
So yeah, I gave in, especially since I was still in the mood to read something contemporary after This Lullaby. It's been mentioned a lot in other John Green reviews, but for the sake of discussion, I will mention it again: John Green's cast of characters can come across as formulaic. There's the geeky and awkward guy, the beautiful and imperfect unattainable girl and a couple of friends from the guys who will join him in the journey of discovering more about the girl and eventually discover more about themselves. This is also said about Sarah Dessen, and having read all her novels, I kind of agree. However, this doesn't mean that her novels are boring, and after reading Paper Towns, I can say that same goes for John Green. They wouldn't be staples in contemporary YA if their books didn't have something good to offer, right?
In a word, Paper Towns was charming. I liked Looking for Alaska enough, but it was a dark novel and it's not something I'd read to cheer myself up. Paper Towns is the opposite -- it's happy, but not bubblegum/fluffy happy. If I were to classify what kind of happiness this book has, it's the victorious kind of happy: the joy you feel after you finally achieved something you've worked hard for that also comes with some sort of sadness when you realized that what you achieved isn't exactly what you thought it was. John Green has perfectly captured the life of a senior who's happy with routine in the form of the hero Q, and the life of someone who feels the need to get away in the form of Margo.
I know a lot of readers who disliked Margo, but I honestly didn't find her so bad. I think maybe it's because I felt genuine empathy for Q's plight, on how he wanted to find her so much that it hurts him inside just to think of her. There's a sense of desperation inside Q that I find familiar -- the desperate need to hold on to the image of the girl he loved up until he realized that there was more to her than what he's always thought of. I have to admit that I've felt like that a lot, and it's caused me so many disappointments. Often times, I have an image for the guys I like, and I cling to this image so much that I put these guys in a pedestal where they can do no wrong. Once reality slaps me on the face, these guys become people and I find myself being shattered with the expectations I have about them. That's not saying that the guys I liked were bad people; it was more of being affected by how much I wanted them to be "The One" when it's too early to say anything about it.
Now Margo. Like I said, I'm probably one of the people who did not dislike her. I admired her for being brave enough to do what she wanted. Granted, it wasn't the most well-executed plans, but actually going through with doing what she wanted despite the consequences is something I applaud. I wonder if I will be brave enough to do what she did and leave. Leave what, exactly, I do not know yet. I find myself wondering how Q felt when he said this:
It is so hard to leave -- until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world. (p. 229)
I guess I will never know until I do so myself.
There were so many things in Paper Towns that can be discussed, and I bet I'll pick up something else here if ever I decide to re-read this sometime later. This book is very re-readable, and I think the pacing helped that. John Green managed to keep enough suspense and mystery throughout the book without making me feel like I'm going around in circles. And like everyone else, I loved the last few pages of the book. Poignant and bittersweet. :)
My favorite character of all in the book, however, is Radar. You just have to love the ultimate geek in their trio, whose parents own the biggest collection of black Santas in the world and who will drop everything just to help out a friend.
Paper Towns is a great book. I'd say it's awesome, but right now I'm going to give the final verdict to this book after I have read An Abundance of Katherines. But if you're looking for a good contemporary YA novel, Paper Towns is a very good place to start. :)...more