Just recently, some girl friends from the book club and I started having our own girls' night out. They're usually jus...moreOriginal post from One More Page
Just recently, some girl friends from the book club and I started having our own girls' night out. They're usually just dinner and some drinks, and a night of girl talk, which isn't really different when we're with the other boys except that we get to talk about the boys sometimes because none of them are there when we're on a night out. :P Anyway, it's becoming one of those sort of impromptu things that I'm really starting to like, because a girl must always have time for her girl friends, right?
I remember that I actually finished reading Sarah Addison Allen's The Peach Keeperon the afternoon before our first girls' night out last month. I find it quite fitting because The Peach Keeperis a story of two women who were friends from years ago and were fiercely loyal to each other, and their granddaughters who are not friends, but are drawn together because of a certain house history. There's romance, mystery and magic realism that makes SAA's fourth book just like her old ones, but also a little different, in a good way.
I've read mixed reviews about this book, so I wasn't really sure if I was going to like it as much as I liked Garden Spells or The Sugar Queen. There's still that comfort-read feel in this Sarah Addison Allen book, and the magic realism, as I mentioned, but the mystery is an entirely new thing. I felt that there was more going on in this book, so it took me a while to read it but then I fell in love with the characters and their stories soon after.
My favorite part of this book would have to be Paxton and Willa's "unlikely" friendship. I liked how each of them was described, with their own problems and faults, and how they ended up being on each other's side. I liked how this developed, how they weren't friends before even if they knew each other from way back and then they all became important in each other's lives later on. There's something about a well-written friendship that really gets to me, and I am reminded of the friendships that I have made now.
I find that I actually liked The Peach Keeperas much as I liked The Sugar Queen, which was my second favorite SAA book. I think I read it at the right time, just as I met (and had quite an adventure) with some of my favorite girls. It left me wanting to share this book to all my girl friends, and more than excited to build and keep my friendship with them. :) The author said it quite well:
Because we're connected, as women. It's like a spiderweb. If one part of that web vibrates, if there's trouble, we all know it. But most of the time, we're just too scared or selfish or insecure to help. But if we don't help each other, who will?
I feel a little sad that I have no more SAA books to read after this, but count me as one of her fans now. I will definitely read anything else she comes up with. :)(less)
The Girl Who Chased the Moon is my third Sarah Addison Allen book, and I must admit that I was pretty excited to read t...moreOriginal post at One More Page
The Girl Who Chased the Moon is my third Sarah Addison Allen book, and I must admit that I was pretty excited to read this book mostly because I like the title and the UK cover. Of all covers, I think this one had the most magical feel to it -- even the text on the cover affirms it: Discover a place where magic lights up the dark. How pretty, right?
Emily Benedict moves to Mullaby, North Carolina to join her grandfather Vance Shelby, after her mother dies. Besides not having a place to live anymore, she also longs to solve the mystery surrounding her mother and her past, and she figures the best place to find it was where her mother grew up. But what she comes home to surprises her, on top of the other mysterious things in town: the darting lights she sees behind the house, the changing wallpaper in her room, and just why everyone has an opinion of Emily and her mom when she knows nothing. Next door, there's Julia, who spends her time counting the days till she can leave the town and baking cakes to call someone, until someone unexpected (and unwanted) comes to her instead. Julia befriends Emily in hopes of shielding her from the repercussions of her mother's past, but there are just some things that Emily has to find out for herself.
As usual, there's a certain comfort in getting lost in a Sarah Addison Allen novel, one that makes me just want to keep reading and keep getting lost. There's a little bit more heartbreak and sadness in this book, though, but not so much that it makes it a sad novel all in all. I just found that there seemed to be a little bit more characters with serious issues in this book compared to the ones in the previous books. The magic stuff didn't come from the two female leads, too, but more in the place and the people around them.
The Girl Who Chased the Moon read a bit like a fairy tale, and this fact was emphasized up to the end. I liked the dynamics of the characters with one another, how one avoided the other with all her might but couldn't, and how one chased the other but had to stop because of old issues. I thought there was more romance in this book too, and even one that kind of borders on a paranormal romance type with the secrets and the secret bedroom visits. It's not as bad as it sounds like for those who don't like paranormal romance -- it's actually okay, although that wasn't my favorite pairing in this book. I guessed the huge family secret chapters before it was finally revealed, so the surprise factor wasn't there anymore, but it unfolded pretty nicely and SAA painted a pretty sweet picture of a happy ending for them that I couldn't help but forgive those nitpicks after. I do love that there's talk of cake in this book. I love baking, even if I can't bake a cake yet to save my life. The significance of the cake and the sugar and all the sweet things made me yearn to not just eat one but make one. Someday, I will make a double layer cake successfully.
Compared to Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen though, this didn't feel as magical despite its whimsical title. Garden Spells still feels the most magical, and I thought The Sugar Queen explored the friendships of the characters better. The Girl Who Chased the Moon kind of scratched the surface on those ends, but I think it did pretty well with town secrets and finding forgiveness from each other and from the past. Overall, while it's not my favorite SAA, I still think it's a good read. :)
I read and enjoyed Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells a few months ago and ever since then, I've had her other books on my wish list. I've seen some of them around, but never The Sugar Queen. I know friends have seen copies of this everywhere, but it remains elusive. So I figured, if other people can see it more than I do, then they can probably get it for me for Christmas right? Imagine my delight when Monique sent me this book as a Kindle gift. Squee! Thank you! :) I wasn't planning to read this anytime soon, but Chachic's Christmas Reads post got me craving for something Christmas-y. Unfortunately, I don't have a book that specifically fits the season, unlike last year when I had Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. The next best thing was to look for books that had the closest atmosphere to Christmas and wouldn't be so taxing to the mind. And that brought me back to my first Kindle gift, The Sugar Queen.
Josey Cirrini had always lived in the shadow of her mother, because she felt the need to repay her for all the grief she had put her mother up to when she was a kid. Now at twenty seven, she lives at home, answers to the beck and call of her mom, eats her secret stash of sweets and reads romance novels in the privacy of her bedroom closet. Until one night, she finds Della Lee hiding inside her closet, threatening her of blackmail of the contents of her closet if Josey didn't do what she asked. Della urges Josey to befriend Chloe Finley, a young woman who just came from a break-up with her boyfriend Jake, who also happens to be the best friend of Josey's crush, mailman Adam. Josey's world opens up and she discovers things about herself and her surroundings that she never knew, and also builds a friendship and a romance she never expected. Della's work is now done, but it wasn't long before Josey finds out the real reason why the older woman was hiding in her closet.
Now there is really something about Sarah Addison Allen novels that is just so comforting. It's like she brings magical realism into real life, and it makes me want to believe that the things happening in her books were real.
Like Clare in Garden Spells, Josey tends to keep by herself, but this time not because of her routine, but because she felt that she needed to be good after all the embarrassment she made her mom go through. Josey was kind of a tough character to like, but that's mostly because I'm don't think I have too much in common with her. But then, I also think Josey's mom is a tougher nut to crack. I really didn't like her especially with how she puts her daughter down if only to keep Josey home to order around. However, it was fairly easy to like Della and Chloe. Della was a bit of an oddball, but I liked how random she seemed to the point of nonsense but ends up making sense in the end. Chloe is my favorite character, though, if only for her special "ability". No, it's not sandwich making (although from the descriptions, she seemed to make very good sandwiches), but how books tend to follow her everywhere. Imagine how a book would just magically appear to you whenever you need it, depending on how you feel? The bookworm in me (which is really...well, me) would be delighted with that kind of magic -- maybe I should choose that as my superpower instead? But other than that, Chloe was also a strong character and a perfect complement to Josey.
I liked how the relationships of the people unfolded out here. Josey's friendship with Chloe and Della, Josey's relationship with her mom, Chloe and Jake's romance and Josey and Adam's. While I wasn't a fan of what Jake did, I really couldn't think of any other way for his relationship with Chloe would go. I'm no judge of course, but I don't know what I'd do if I were in Chloe's place. On the other hand, I loved Josey and Adam's banter. I loved the uncertainty, the push and the pull, the smiles. I was positively thrilled when someone finally made a move, and how natural the progression of their relationship felt.
The ending kind of took me by surprise, but it wasn't entirely unpredictable. The ending provided a good tug at the heartstrings, though, which I think is the perfectly sweet way to end this book. While The Sugar Queen didn't have that same magical feel that Garden Spells had, I thought it was still a very good and comforting -- and yes, Christmas-y -- read. I'm really glad that I have Sarah Addison Allen's next book on my TBR because I think I already know what to read the next time I need something comfortable and easy and magical. :) (less)
I read and loved Nikki Grimes' A Girl Named Mister so I was very excited to get this book from Kuya Doni during one of our Goodreads meet ups. A slim volume with illustrated pages, this is a book that discusses griefs and its different effects on people struggling with it. Jerilyn and Jesse just lost their older brother -- too much too soon that they are at a loss at how to deal. Jerilyn holds it all together, showing an unruffled exterior but inside she is just as broken as how Jesse acts out. Questions about life, death and family surface and we get to see how the siblings and the rest of the family dealt with this loss. It will never be the same again, but it doesn't mean they can't be whole.
Nikki Grimes' poetry was easy to read and the illustrations were a good complement to the story. True to form, I found myself shedding some tears at a certain page, and I honestly cannot imagine losing my one and only brother too soon to death. While this book offers no solutions on how to handle grief and death and loss, it shows a hopeful picture that someday, it will all be okay.(less)
I never realized that I really liked con stories until I am already right in the middle of reading or watching them. C...moreOriginal post from One More Page
I never realized that I really liked con stories until I am already right in the middle of reading or watching them. Case in point: I wasn't sure if I would enjoy watching Fast & the Furious 5 when my friend invited me to watch it with her, until I saw the big job they were attempting to pull in the movie and I enjoyed the entire thing immensely. Con stories are so smart and cunning...and now that makes me wonder why I've only watched only one Oceans movie? :o Gasp. I must remedy that.
But I digress. I've had Heist Societyby Ally Carter in my radar for a while because of all the fun things I've heard about it, but I never got a copy because I always believed someone will get it for me for Christmas or my birthday. My wish finally came true last Christmas thanks to Maria, and I picked the book up after I was trying to get over the hangover from Life of Pi. We meet Katarina Bishop in Heist Society,a fifteen year old girl who came from a family of thieves. But Kat is "retired", and she has left her family to lead a normal life, after conning her way into a prestigious boarding school. Then Kat's friend, Hale, gets her out of the school because her family needs her help -- a powerful mobster who lost rare art from his collection is after her dad, the only suspect in his list. Kat must find a way to save her dad, even if it means going back to the life she left. How? By stealing the paintings back, of course.
Oh so fun. I had so much fun with this book that I didn't want it to end when I was done. Or at least, that I had the next books with me immediately. Heist Societyhad all the elements of a book that I enjoyed -- a fun premise, just the right amount of danger, real characters with fun banter all wrapped in a light and fast read. The con is not too complicated to require that much thinking power, and I liked how everything came together as Kat and Hale went from one place to another and formed their little group of bandits until they finally pulled everything together. There was that fun element of suspense that I like in con stories, where you think everything is going to fall apart but it was really going as planned. Add the Bishop family dynamics and you've got a book you'll really like up to the last page.
A little suspension of disbelief is in order, of course, especially since these kids tend to jump around the world as the story goes on with little difficulty. I guess it follows that con families are rich people, too? But it was fun traipsing around the world with them. There was a time when I wished that the book was written in first person, since I really wanted to get into Kat's head, but I realized later on that it was better if she was held at arm's length, because it gave a different kind of feel for her epiphanies and sentimental moments. She's a cool heroine, and I liked how she's not overly dramatic or too cold or even too cunning to be lovable. Kat is the kind of person you'd want to be on your team, and if I were a thief like them, I would want to be in her team too. There's also a hint of romance in the book. Just a hint, enough to make it even more exciting in the next books. :)
Heist Societyis a fun, fast and light read. I really, really had fun with it, and I look forward to reading the next two books in the series. More W. W. Hale the Fifth, please! :)(less)
I like reading novels in verse when I feel like I'm reading too slow, like how I have been doing lately. I figured readi...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I like reading novels in verse when I feel like I'm reading too slow, like how I have been doing lately. I figured reading this book right after I finish the chunkster that is Jane Eyre would help me cleanse the palate a bit and make me feel better because I read a book a bit faster than how I am currently doing. That's probably just me, though, so don't mind that quirk.
What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones is the sequel to What My Mother Doesn't Know, another novel in verse that I read and liked last year. Spoiler warning for the first novel starts here. This book is Robin's story -- Robin, the art geek who Sophie falls for at the end of the first book. Robin has always had a crush on Sophie, but he never thought she'd fall for him, until she does. He was ecstatic, of course, until he realizes that Sophie being his girlfriend wouldn't change his life as much as him being Sophie's boyfriend rocked her world -- in a not so good way. Here the book tries to answer a question that fairy tales with their happily-ever-after's don't really get to answer: what happens next?
What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know is both cute and painful. I know that's a strange combination, but really, those are the two things I thought of while reading it. Robin is a cute narrator, sounding exactly like how I imagined a teenage guy would sound, with all the hormones and insecurities and girls and all that. He's a good guy, really, but again, he's also a guy, and the reactions and comments he had here with Sophie and their relationship, and yes, the naked women were very...well, boyish. Robin is not just the art geek who fits the mythological perfect guy who never makes mistakes or never looks at other girls or women -- he's human, but he's trying his best to be the best person he can be for his girlfriend, even if she doesn't know so many things about what he's going through.
And that's the painful part. Robin and Sophie's relationship isn't all rainbows and butterflies. Sophie's reputation suffered because of Robin, and it was painful for Robin to see and hear the things people say about her because of him. I felt their pain, too, and it was just...sad because it wasn't supposed to be that way. And it was messy, too, because Robin felt that it was all his fault, when really, it's not. What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know showed that life goes on after the fairy tales end, and it's not always "happily" ever after.
A favorite passage that pretty much summarizes the happiness and paint that I felt while reading this:
Maybe, if we can just laugh instead of shattering,
we can somehow keep all of it from mattering.
What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know is cute and fun and sometimes painful, but it's a very quick and readable novel in verse. I'd recommend reading What My Mother Doesn't Know first before getting into this so you'd appreciate this more. This is a very teenage novel, though, so don't expect deep, life changing, earth-shattering revelations to come to you while reading it. If anything, this book gave me a reason to look back at my own high school years with a smile, and then sigh with relief and say, "Thank goodness I'm over that already."(less)
Wendelin Van Draanen is the author of one of my favorite books ever, Flipped. I loveFlipped -- I have read several time...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Wendelin Van Draanen is the author of one of my favorite books ever, Flipped. I loveFlipped -- I have read several times and pushed to several people and even cried while watching the movie. I never really got around to reading the author's other works, until I got it for a gift. It took me another year to read it (just like my other books in my TBR, heh), and I thought it would be the right book to cleanse my palate over reading something a little bit more serious.
Evangeline Logan is a serial kisser -- she knows it, and she justifies this because she wants one thing: a crimson kiss. The kind of kiss she read in the romance novel she found under her mother's bed, a kiss that will turn her world around. So after a makeover, she goes to school and starts searching for that crimson kiss. How? By kissing boys of course. But it's not turning out the way she expected it as rumors about her started spreading. As if that's not enough, her best friend's too busy and her two-timing dad is making a comeback. And she still hasn't found her crimson kiss. What's a serial kisser to do now?
Going into Confessions of a Serial Kisser by Wendelin Van Draanen and expecting it to be like Flipped was kind of a big mistake. I wanted to like this more, but a third into the book I was very annoyed with Evangeline. I'm definitely not the kind of person who would do what she did, but let's be honest now: who would do such a thing? How could she expect that she'd find that perfect crimson kiss by kissing random boys -- by random, I mean strangers too! All because of a romance novel?
Okay, that may be the entire point of the book -- that you just can't find a crimson kiss randomly -- but Evangeline not expecting that she'd have a reputation after what she has been doing was just kind of naive. Evangeline reminded me a bit of Kelsey in Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters, but I would be a bit more forgiving with Kelsey if she had done what Evangeline did because she's still pretty young. I had to double check what year Evangeline was already in (junior to senior? There was a mention of emancipation at some point in the book) because I thought her attitude was kind of too young for her age.
The chapters in this book are pretty short and they kind of remind me of my stories back in high school. It didn't have the same fluid story like Flipped, and there were some plot points that felt a little too stretched out or a little too contrived. The guitar thing for example -- where did that come from? Sure, she likes music, but the guitar thing just came out of the blue for me. Evangeline's issues could have had more depth in it especially since I'm sure there are kids who are in the same situations, but I'm afraid it veered towards the shallow end with how Evangeline reacted with everything. And that boy who really liked her all along? I saw that coming a mile away.
That being said, though, there's an overall lesson in the book that wasn't that bad, really. The book touched a bit on communication and forgiveness, which was pretty nicely done in the end. Evangeline's penance was hard enough, although I wish she wasn't such a whiny girl about it. How her kissing issues connect with her home issues was also explained, and at least that gives an overall hopeful resolution for them. It's just sad that by the time those things came, I didn't care about any of them anymore.
Confessions of a Serial Kisser could have had a good story going for it, but in the end I was just pretty annoyed with the main character and there was too much going on that I was just relieved that it was over when it was over. It was pretty fun (and I use the term lightly) sometimes, but if you're expecting something like Flipped... well, better lower your expectations.(less)
I like music, but I can hardly play any instrument or even really sing (except in karaoke sessions), but for some reas...moreOriginal post from One More Page
I like music, but I can hardly play any instrument or even really sing (except in karaoke sessions), but for some reason, I love books about music. Or books with characters who are in a band. I don't know why -- perhaps it's because I secretly dreamed of being in a band? Or is it because one of my dream jobs is to become a band's manager? But I love reading books with them, so I've been wanting Amplifiedby Tara Kelly for a while now. Thanks to Celina for giving me a copy!
Amplified is about 17-year old Jasmine Kiss, who was kicked out of her home after saying she wanted to defer college so she can become a musician. She goes to Santa Cruz to find a place to stay and stumbles upon C-Side, an industrial rock band looking for a new guitarist ASAP and offering a room to rent, as well. Jasmine tries out, even if the band wants a male guitarist, and she has no idea what she will do with her stage fright when they told her they need the new guitarist for an upcoming show.
Just like the other books with a band that I have read, Amplified is full of rocking fun. I liked Jasmine, even if she was a little too uptight. She stuck to what she believed in, and she was so out of her comfort zone in her new place that I almost wished she'd give up and go back home because some of the things they tell her were painful. I also liked the other band members, especially Veta and Felix, who were both darlings. The romance was also well-developed, and there was good enough tension and slow enough development that made it believable -- and Sean very crushable. ;) I liked their band dynamic, although I wished I could've seen a bit more of what makes the other characters tick -- like more conversations between them, instead of just Bryn being almost as uptight as Jasmine or you know, having too many band practice.
But overall, Amplified is a novel full of rocking band fun and music. I still wish I could hear some of the songs they sing, though, just for the fuller experience of reading something like this. The author is writing a companion novel for Amplified entitled Encore. Sign me up, please -- I want more of C-Side!(less)
One of my favorite classes in college that wasn't my major was my Lit class, not only because I had an awesome professor...moreOriginal post at One More Page
One of my favorite classes in college that wasn't my major was my Lit class, not only because I had an awesome professor, but because I just simply loved to read. I loved that I was required to pick up a novel for class, and write a report about it. The only lit class I had was Philippine literature so I was only required to read local fiction, some written by some professors in the university. While that wasn't what what I usually read then, I didn't mind -- I was allowed to read non-textbooks for class. In a word, it was awesome.
Reading Charlson Ong's Blue Angel, White Shadow reminded me of those college days. I can't quite put a finger on it, but there's something about this book's tone that reminded me of that. It's been a while since I last read a serious Filipino novel so it took me some time to adjust to the tone of this book. In Blue Angel, White Shadow, we was introduced to Filipino-Chinese cop Cyrus Ledesma who was sent to investigate the death of Laurice Saldiaga, found dead in her room in The Blue Angel Cafe. The investigation leads us down Cyrus' dark past and introduces us to several other characters -- bar owner and singer Rosa Misa and her fiesty daughter Rosemarie, the old and kind-hearted Antonio Cobianco who has his own secrets, Manila Mayor Lagdameo Go-Lopez who formerly wanted to be a vet, pitbull owner Robert Cobianco, and Cyrus' priest friend Fr. Jay among others -- all somewhat related to the death of the singer.
I was expecting a typical murder mystery novel as I read Blue Angel, White Shadow, but was surprised to find something more. Instead of just following the main character collect clues to find out whodunnit, I was led through different character studies as for most chapters, I was introduced to the different people and how they were all (or will be) connected. It felt a little confusing at first, and I was impatient to know how all these characters related to the opening incident. I liked reading about the characters but I guess I was expecting something else that was why it took me a while to really get into the story.
But once I did, I realized just how good the author was in weaving the story. Even as he exposed the characters, their past and their possible motivations one by one, I couldn't figure out who was responsible. Sure, other issues and conspiracies were discussed, but there was never a solid clue that pointed to the culprit. Once it was finally exposed, however, it seemed...well, obvious. It wasn't even ingenious, just...well, obvious. I guess my years of watching CSI has never really rubbed off on me. The ending was pretty satisfactory, and interestingly, there was even a little romance. I liked how everything tied up in the end, answering most of the questions but not in a too clean way that it didn't seem realistic anymore. I remember giving a satisfied nod as soon as I closed the book, my mind content with how it ended.
This isn't really my genre, but I liked Blue Angel, White Shadow, and I am truly impressed by Charlson Ong's writing. I feel like I could learn a lot with how he wrote his characters. I hope that the seriousness of the cover or the blurb wouldn't make readers ignore this book because it is an enjoyable piece of fiction, even if I did feel the need to write a book report for school after reading it. :D (less)
I've heard so many good things about Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, but it took me a while before I acquired it...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've heard so many good things about Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, but it took me a while before I acquired it and even some more time before I decided to read it. Every now and then, there's a book that comes along and takes you in and makes you comfortable with every page. They're those books that you just sink into effortlessly, almost like it was an old friend welcoming you with warm food after a long day's travel. I am very, very glad to say that Garden Spells is one of them. :)
Claire Waverley has lived alone for a long time now, choosing to stay in the Waverley house, running her catering business that offers the strangest but life-altering delicacies. Being a Waverley, Claire possesses a kind of magic that is unique to her: she can cook food from their garden that can shape the minds and moods of people who eat them. Claire is content with living alone and is not in any hurry to relinquish control over her routines until her wild and rebellious sister Sydney comes home with her daughter. Claire's quiet life is turned upside down as she deals with her sister's homecoming, and she tries desperately to stay in control even if she's afraid of the changes this would bring in her life.
Garden Spells, in a word, is lovely. This book reminds me of Marisa de los Santos' books, Love Walked In and Belong to Me, both of which I loved. The prose is lyrical but never flowery, the characters quirky but never too much that they'd be annoying or forced. I love that all characters had something going on with them -- even the apple tree had a personality. Just like Waverley magic, there's something really magical about this book, just enough that you wouldn't question the people's abilities or the things they believed in the little town of Bascom. Granted, there isn't anything that surprising with regards to the book's plot, but there's just a certain charm in this book that would stop you from caring too much. It's like you want to live with them there. This book should also not be read while hungry because all the descriptions of food made me hungrier! It makes me wonder if there is some truth in the life-altering food that Claire makes. Maybe if I put candied violets in my cake...? Haha, right. I can dream.
It's not often I let out a contented sigh at the end of a book, but this got one out of me. Sigh. If all of Sarah Addison Allen's books are as yummy and as magical as Garden Spells, then consider me a fan. I can't wait to get my hands on her other books. :)(less)
One time during junior year in high school, my friends and I started scribbling on spare pieces of notebook paper. It wa...moreOriginal post at One More Page
One time during junior year in high school, my friends and I started scribbling on spare pieces of notebook paper. It was a story about a group of friends that we started passing around our group, leaving a part hanging so the next person could continue the story. We never finished the story, but I remember we had a colorful cast of characters, and I ended up continuing the story and posting a snippet of it somewhere that I cannot remember for the life of me. Anyway, we also had the same kind of exercise during my college literary folio days -- one would start a story and then another would pick it up. I adopted that exercise for our NaNoWriMo group, and although it never really flew, it was a fun project.
So that's really one of the reasons why I was curious about Angelica's Daughters. This book is a collaborative "dugtungan" novel by five authors: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Susan Evangelista, Veronica Montes, Nadine Sarreal, Erma M. Cuizon. They are all writers on their own but their friendship (and writing classes) led them to collaborate on different short stories. One day they decided to upgrade into writing a novel, passing on an idea and a chapter to one another, until they came up with the story of Angelica.
Angelica's Daughters revolved around three female descendants of Angelica de los Santos. First was Tess, whose 8 years of marriage dissolved after she found out her husband Tonio was dating a younger woman. She flies home to the Philippines to gather her thoughts and herself and spends time with her Lola Josefina. Josefina had secrets of her own, one that she wasn't sure that her granddaughter (or anyone else in the family would understand). In the course of Tess' stay, a cousin gives her a bundle of letters from their Angelica, a distant grandmother who was the subject of many of her childhood stories. They were never really sure if all those stories about Angelica were real or not -- like how a guy killed himself when Angelica refused to give him her love, or how wives were often jealous of her because of her beauty. Through the letters, Tess got to know her better but there were holes in the story that she longed to be filled. On the annual Tayabas fiesta, Tess meets her younger cousin, Dina, who carries a darker secret that is eating her alive.
As I was thinking of how I was going to review this book, I realized one thing: Angelica's Daughters could pass as a perfect comfort read. It's like the local version of a Sarah Addison Allen novel, but maybe even a bit better because it hits closer to home for me. There's a certain grace and lyricism in the prose that makes me immediately sink into it, and marvel at the familiar feelings it evoked. There's really something about a well-written Filipino work that just hits the right spot, like how a perfectly cooked dish can satisfy the strongest craving. Case in point, this particular line:
She served herself generously from the garlic fried rice and daing. She took her first bite and closed her eyes with pleasure.
I totally started salivating for garlic fried rice and daing (dried salted fish, for my non-Filipino friends) after I read this line. :) The entire novel had that feel of home that made it such a good comfort read.
Besides that, the book also had an interesting angle of history. This kind of reminds me a bit of old history readings in school, or watching movies based on Philippine history. Note that it didn't really have the "required reading for school" feel, but it provided a sense of nostalgia for the early Spanish era in Philippine history. Angelica's letters to her aunt and her stories were vivid and she felt very much alive in those letters. She may not be the nicest or the most honest character, but she is a well-formed character that it's hard not to be curious about her as the book goes on.
I had a few nitpicks though. For one thing, I felt that Lola Josefina's angle wasn't really that explored, up until she admitted her secret to Tess. I wasn't even aware that she was the third person in the story until I finally figured it out. Also, I thought Dina was introduced a little too late in the story, almost like she was an afterthought, like she was only there to be the receiver of Tess' wrath.
Also, there was the dreaded insta-love. I wished there wasn't an insta-love thing between Tess and Luis -- I could accept Tess liking/lusting after him during the first time she met him and danced with him in the disco, but the idea of her falling in love with him felt a little too quick for me. I was never a fan of insta-love, anyway, and personally, I would've been fine if Tess ended up not having a love life in the end. After all, she still had to find herself after her marriage disintegrated.
Nevertheless, I thought Angelica's Daughters was a well-written and enjoyable novel that deals with family, love and moving on from past mistakes. It's chick lit, but it's not really hardcore fluffy chick lit that I think even guys will like to read this. Plus that recipe for Angelica's special tsokolate-espeso is a must-try. This is one of the good ones in Filipino fiction, and I hope more Filipinos get to read this book. :)(less)
I've heard a lot about Maureen Johnson from YA contemporary circles, but somehow, I never really got around to getting her books. This almost feels like a sin for someone who loves contemporary YA as much as I do. So at the back of my mind, I have this little to-buy list that includes one of Maureen Johnson's books in case I wanted to splurge on something, but winning a giveaway during Armchair BEA saved me from spending and instead, I got an audiobook of Suite Scarlett, which some of my blogger friends recommend.
Scarlett Martin has just turned 15, and as with her older siblings Spencer and Lola, she was given the Empire Suite in Hopewell Hotel, their family business, to take care of. This is a great honor, however, business isn't exactly as booming as it was before in the Hopewell, so Scarlett's dreams of getting a summer job was put on hold since she had to help out at home. Things turn interesting, though, when rich, world-traveler and theater actress Mrs. Amy Amberson comes along and rents the Empire Suite. Pretty soon, Scarlett becomes her personal assistant and a part of some harebrained schemes that involve directing and producing a play, conning a nemesis, and a possible summer romance.
Like everyone I know who's read this, my favorite part of this book is the sibling relationship of Scarlett and Spencer. I love brother-sister relationships because I can relate to it so much. Scarlett and Spencer remind me of my own relationship with my older brother. They're probably closer, of course, but their banter and their instinct to help each other is ingrained in every brother-sister relationship out there, I think. I liked how Spencer can tell things just by looking at his sister and how he has this instinct to protect her even from his friend. I also liked the other two Martins, even if I saw them as the "enemies" at the start of the book because they're at odds with the brother-sister tandem.
The story isn't really that monumental, but it has enough elements to make it just the right amount of crazy. I don't think people will actually get into as much chaos as Scarlett did in her summer, but the setting helped in making it believable. I bet if this story was set outside of NYC or in anything other than Hopewell, I wouldn't have accepted the craziness as easily as I did here. Suite Scarlett makes me want to go to New York City (not that I haven't wanted to go there for the past years now) and go to the places described in the book.
I really enjoyed reading/listening to Suite Scarlett. It's fun, light and it's easily one of those books that will cheer you up after reading a depressing or heavy book. I'm curious about Maureen Johnson's other books now. :)
This should be for another post, but since this is my first audiobook (for a long time now, anyway), I should mention it in this review, too. The audiobook I wanted to listen to was usually one with different voices for the characters, so the first time I listened to this, I had a hard time with the way the reader changers her voice for every character. It was kind of weird because I could tell it was still her and I couldn't detach myself from that. It took a while to get used to it, but when I did, I had to marvel at how different each voice sounded after all. I'm pretty sure this won't be my last audiobook. It's not a conventional way to read, but it is definitely helpful in the gym. ;)(less)
One day early this year (way before I met the Goodreads people) I was going around Fully Booked in Eastwood when I suddenly had this little fantasy. I wondered: what if, as I was looking for books to get, I meet a guy who has the same taste in books as I do? A straight, single guy, near my age, who reads for fun? And let's make him cute, too.
It was a little fantasy that my friends and I entertained often, and it almost became a topic of a story for my fiction blog (one day I will write that). It was definitely something my single bookish friends and I thought would be very nice but may be rare, as we know few guys who are willing to read the same books we do, and most of the people we see in the bookstore near our office is filled with girls (that is, until I met the Goodreads people, again).
So it's no wonder why Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan would call to me. Okay, I didn't really pay attention to it first because I wasn't really a fan of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by the same authors, until I read a review. I checked the sample and fell in love with it on the first few pages, particularly on the opening scene. Dash finds a red notebook amidst the books in the Strand, and inside were a bunch of clues left by a girl named Lily. He figures out the clues and thus starts the passing of the red Moleskine notebook back and forth between the two. Dash and Lily accomplish dares all around New York City from each other and bare their innermost thoughts to the other through the red notebook, all the while wondering if the words represent the persons behind them.
The story happens during the holidays, so I figured Christmas should be the right time to read it (thanks again to Ace for giving me a copy during the Goodreads Christmas party). And I was right. I am so glad I read it at this time of the year. :) Like I said, I wasn't very enamored by Nick and Norah, but Dash and Lily really made me fall in love. There's so many things to love. Maybe it was the bookstore? Maybe it's the Moleskine notebook (which I love, by the way)? Maybe it's how the story unfolded despite it being slightly hard to believe?
Dash and Lily are two very interesting characters. They're not the angsty teenagers that we read in contemporary YA but they're very smart and witty teens who are very different yet they speak to each other in ways only they can understand. While I didn't find Dash particularly dashing, I thought he was very well-adjusted for his age. Perhaps it was all the reading that he does that makes him a gentler version of the male gender? I don't know, but I'd like to think so. Lily, on the other hand, is probably the most optimistic female character I've ever read so far. She reminds me of myself in so many ways: she bakes, she likes animals, her positive outlook, and in how she's never had a boyfriend. Lily is such a delight to read because I feel like I'm reading some things I write, almost like I was reading my journal.
And just as the characters, the story was very charming. It tried to tackle more than the usual boy-meets-girl-and-they-fall-in-love story and that's good, but sometimes the connections and issues feel a bit too messy and hard to follow. The entire interaction may seem a bit far-fetched too, and I don't think this will be very effective here in Manila, but I can forgive that for the sake of fiction (and that's why it happened in New York and not here, LOL). Despite that, though, I thought the plot was well-executed, and I found myself hanging on to every word all the way up to the end.
My copy of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares has so many dog-ears too because of the quotable quotes! For example:
Prayer or not, I want to believe that, despite all evidence to the contrary, it is possible for anyone to find that special person. That person to spend Christmas with or grow old with or just take a nice silly walk in Central Park with. (Lily, p. 75)
I wish I could remember the moment when I was a kid and I discovered that the letters linked into words, and that the words linked to real things. What a revelation that must have been. We don't have the words for it, since we hadn't yet learned the words. It must have been astonishing, to be given the key to the kingdom and see it turn in our hands so easily. (Dash, p. 87)
You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here's a hint -- ask yourself who wrote them. I assure you, it wasn't just the women. It's the great male fantasy -- all it takes is one dance to know that she's the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or a look at her sleeping face. And right away you know -- this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don't want a very long courtship. They want to know immediately. (p. 131)
And my favorite (and is very applicable for the coming year):
There are just lots of possibilities in the world...I need to keep my mind open for what could happen and not decide that the world is hopeless if what I want to happen doesn't happen. Because something else great might happen in between. (p. 227)
The blurb was right. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares is a feel good book that would make you want to start "...perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own." It doesn't have to be Christmas when you read it, but the holidays add to the ambiance. It's the kind of book that will surely leave you smiling long after you have read the last word. :)
I'm not about to start looking for a red notebook in Fully Booked...but as for leaving one? I'll never tell. ;) (less)
I pretty much became a squealing fan of Ilona Andrews after I finished the first four books of their Kate Daniels series. Who wouldn't? By the time I finished the fourth book, there was a long lull before the fifth book comes out but I wanted more Ilona Andrews. Good thing they also had another series going set in an entirely different world and I won the first two books of that series in a giveaway, so I had more Ilona Andrews in stock. Of course, I took my own sweet time before reading it...but that's really expected of me.
Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, the land between the magical Weird and the normal Broken. She lives and is fiercely protective with her two younger brothers, necromancer Georgie and changeling Jack. Rose is somewhat of a social pariah among the Edge because of her unusual power: the ability to flash white, something that no Edger has ever done. This has made her a target for bluebloods from the Weird, if not as a wife to produce white-flashing powerful babies, but for slave merchants to sell to the highest bid. It's no surprise that Rose is closed off to anyone, and it doesn't help that her family is also very poor and she works everyday to make the ends meet. Then comes Declan Camarine, an Earl from the Weird, who is intent at having her. Rose is not about to let anyone get her and leave her brothers behind. When weird things start showing up in the Edge and threatens everyone she knows, she had to team up with Declan to find a way to destroy it and keep the Edge safe.
On the Edge is very different from the Kate Daniels series. It's more romance than urban fantasy, but the world is grittier and somewhat more primitive than what Kate lives in. By primitive, I don't mean it's less powerful, but just different. Most of the magic discussed in this book was elemental, back to the basics, unlike in Kate where there is more of the weird and seemingly more complex magic all around. Not that I know much, of course, but this one had a different feel from the other, which I kind of had to get used to first before I fully immersed.
But as always, the world building in this book is flawless. That's one of the many things I admire with Ilona Andrews novels -- the world seemed so real with all its quirks and intricate rules and details. Even if everything is highly unbelievable, I couldn't help but accept that what was written in the book was real, and that the world is divided in three. This alone could make the book a pleasure to read already, and I think that's really want I'm looking for in fantasy novels: good world building. I know I can't write a good fantasy world (not yet, anyway), so I'll stick to reading them instead.
And like with Kate, Rose is also as fierce as her. I liked Rose because of her strong attachment to her family. Sometimes she gets too attached, but as the story went on, she grew to understand that she can't baby her brothers all the time. Rose is strong and admirable, and it makes one understand why Declan would like her. I like Declan too, but I did get kind of annoyed at how many times he was described as "perfect" in the book. Too many mentions of his well-defined muscles, glittery eyes and skin is a bit too much. My favorite characters in the book, however, are Jack and Georgie -- gotta love those two boys. They captured my heart from the start. I also liked Declan's family, but too bad they didn't have much exposure time.
Since this is more of a romance novel, there was more focus on the relationship than in the action in the book, so the climax part was kind of expected. I wasn't as invested in Rose and Declan's relationship as I was in Kate and Curran, but the latter had more build up than this one, so I guess that's a normal reaction. I guess the key here is to really stop comparing from the other series because they fall on sort of different sub-genres.
On the Edge is a good, fun and sizzling (yes, I actually used that term) fantasy/romance novel from Ilona Andrews, and it's a good read whether you're new to them or you're a fan. While I'm not about to declare my love for this series yet, I am looking forward to read the other books about The Edge. :)(less)
I was never a big fan of historical novels because in my mind, they're equivalent to classics: slow reading and oftentim...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I was never a big fan of historical novels because in my mind, they're equivalent to classics: slow reading and oftentimes, hard to read. I tend to shy away from any novel set in any part of history that isn't a classic because...well, classics are classics for a reason that's why I feel the need to read them. Historicals are just that, and it doesn't really call my name.
That's just me being a book snob, excuse me there.
But the good reviews of Jennifer Donnelly's books got me curious, so I had her books somewhere in my wish list, for possible future acquiring and reading. Fortunately, I didn't have to buy any because I got her two YA novels as gifts last Christmas. Knowing myself, however, I was kind of sure those books would sit on my TBR pile for a while before I get to go through them. If I wasn't crazy enough to set a mini-challenge for myself every month, I don't think I would have picked up and discovered the beauty that is A Northern Light.
Mattie Gokey is working at Glenmore when the body of Grace Brown was found in the river. She remembers Grace very well -- after all, she had asked Mattie to burn some letters for her just a few hours before she was found dead. Unable to sleep that night, Mattie decides to read the letters and finds that there was more to Grace Brown's death than it looks.
At the same time that was happening, another story is told that accounts how Mattie got to the Glenmore in the first place. Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey is a smart young lady who has big dreams of being a writer but is losing hope of them coming true. After their mother died and her older brother ran away, Mattie is left to help manage the Gokey household with her sullen father and three younger sisters. A lover of books and the written word, Mattie dreams of writing her own, too, but poverty, her family and a possible romance all comes to her, forcing her to decide if she should follow her dreams or stay and fulfill her promise to her dead mother.
The summaries I wrote there is not enough to do justice to the beauty of this book. A Northern Light turned out to be an easy read despite it being set in a time so far from what I know. The setting was vivid, and it reminded me of one of my favorite childhood reads, The Nickel-Plated Beauty by Patricia Beatty. I could just imagine the sprawling farm lands, the cows that they need to milk, the hotel, the Gokey home. Adding to the vivid scenery are the wonderfully drawn characters. Mattie's voice rang clear and true, and all the people around her shone like little stars, too, shedding more light in the mystery and the story. Even the unnamed guests in the hotel felt like real people, and I can almost hear the noise of the guests eating as Mattie and her co-workers in Glenmore rush to and from the kitchen, picking up plates and serving dishes. The writing was simple yet poetic, immediately pulling me in without having to adjust to any odd language. Overall, the book just worked for me and it read almost like a contemporary YA novel, which I really liked.
The best part of the novel, the one that tickled my fancy so much, is the fact that Mattie loved words. My bookish self found a kindred spirit in Mattie and in her fascination with books. It was almost like A Northern Light was also a book for appreciating books and the power of words. I could definitely relate to Mattie in this particular scene when she saw her teacher's massive library:
What I saw next stopped me dead in my tracks. Books. Not just one or two dozen, but hundreds of them. In crates. In piles on the floor. In bookcases that stretched from floor to ceiling and lined the entire room. I turned around and around in a slow circle, feeling as if I'd just stumbled into Ali Baba's cave. I was breathless, close to tears, and positively dizzy with greed.
I get the exact same reaction when I'm in a bookstore. ;)
I also always loved those scenes when Mattie and her best friend Weaver would have a word duel, where they'd "shoot" each other with synonyms of a word that they set at the start of the game, and the one who fails to give the answer "dies". This book gave importance to even the simplest of words, and to further stress that, chapters that narrate Mattie's past before she got to Glenmore had headings of Mattie's word of the day that somehow made its way into the story.
A Northern Light is a ultimately a story about following your dreams, but it also gracefully tackles other issues such as sex and racism. Sometime during reading this book, I got the good chills, and that just confirmed that how good this book was. I loved it, and I think people who appreciate the written word would like this book very much, too. I'm still not a big fan of historical fiction, but I will definitely read Jennifer Donnelly’s other books. :)(less)
I read and loved Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light earlier this year, and I looked forward to reading her second (?) YA novel, Revolution after I got a taste of her writing prowess. There were only two things that stopped me from reading it: (1) I still shy away from historicals and (2) the book looked so daunting with its size and length. I didn't think I would be able to read it for Required Reading last month as I'm jet-setting all around, but I'm really, really glad I found a way to read it!
Andi Alpers is an angry girl. After her brother's death, everything in her family fell apart and all Andi could think of is thoughts of suicide. When her school calls her dad with a threat of expulsion, he brings her to Paris for her winter break to work on her senior thesis. Living with her dad's friends, Andi finds a diary hidden in the guitar case given to her. There she meets Alexandrine Paradis, an girl who lived two centuries ago who dreams of being a popular actress but whose life is forever changed when she meets a young (and doomed) prince of France. Andi finds comfort in Alex's diary, until a night at the catacombs of Paris brings her face to face to what just Alex was going through.
Like I said earlier, Revolution looked daunting because of its length -- the table of contents lists 80+ chapters! I was kind of worried that I didn't have much in me to invest in something this long. However, I found that the book was extremely readable. I was never bored with any chapter, and it was really more contemporary than historical. Andi's anger and grief radiates through the pages, and I felt really, really sad for her. I think out of all the books I've read with grief, this book had the rawest and angriest form, and the first time I read about someone willingly self-destruct because she couldn't find the strength to face the days living with the grief.
Despite that, I found Andi's anger and her going around a little too tedious, and it took a long time before Alexandrine was introduced. When she was, however, I found myself stuck further to the pages. I found myself engrossed in Alex's diary just as much as Andi was, and even if I knew how it would probably end, I felt the same fear and longing for the story to end differently, for the Alex to make it through.
I think a reason why I loved this book more than I thought I would was because I was actually in Europe while I was reading this. The moment I got to Paris, I was overwhelmed by the sights and sounds and the familiar names that I was just reading in the book. Bastille, Palais-Royal, River Seine, Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Cœur. The book definitely came alive to me because I was at the setting, and I could imagine Andi running through the streets of Paris in the cold, playing in the park. I can imagine Alex in Palais-Royal performing. It was such an awesome thrill to see the places I only read about with my very eyes. It was just too bad I had no time to visit the catacombs. :D
The ending, while it was wrapped up nicely, was just a tad too unbelievable, especially with the seemingly time-space-warp thing that happened. Still, I think Revolution is another solid book from Jennifer Donnelly. It's intense and gripping and wonderfully colorful despite its bleak atmosphere. Music lovers and historical fiction fans should definitely pick up this book, but if you're neither and you like contemporary YA novels, then you may enjoy this one very much, just like I did.
The pink cover speaks for this one, don't you think? It's so pink that I cannot help but just want this book, if only to...moreOriginal post at One More Page
The pink cover speaks for this one, don't you think? It's so pink that I cannot help but just want this book, if only to put it on my shelf together with other equally striking pink books. :)
One of the TV shows that I loved back in high school was The Secret World of Alex Mack. I remember watching it religiously, loving Larisa Oleynik as Alex Mack and wondering how it feels to be the GC-161 kid. I even bought some of the books and skipped going out for the summer just to catch the episodes. That show was what I remembered as I was reading Kelly Oram's Being Jamie Baker. Jamie Baker is seventeen, usually hormonal and absolutely antisocial -- but that's for a good reason. You see, Jamie got involved in a freak accident in her hometown that should have killed her, except that it didn't. Instead, it gave her superhuman abilities that could kill people if she goes out of control. When she moves to Rocklin High, she becomes the resident ice queen, more afraid of causing harm than being socially ostracized.
But a bet between two popular guys and a supercharged kiss later, Jamie finds her ice queen reputation on the rocks as Ryan Miller follows her around, wanting to get to know her and find out what makes her tick. As if avoiding keeping her abilities a secret isn't hard enough, Jamie has to deal with wanting to be with Ryan and knowing that she is a danger to him.
Being Jamie Baker is more of a novel about self-acceptance than a superhero novel. Jamie could just be any kid who tries to hide in the crowd unnoticed but then happens to find herself in the spotlight because someone decides she needs to be. Remove the super power aspect and the storyline could still stand on its own, but probably just a little less fun. This is a very easy read. Jamie's voice was authentic for a seventeen-year-old girl, with all her worries, her angst and mood swings. She's the kind of girl that I would probably want to be in high school, but without being an ice queen. Jamie's life surely wasn't easy, and we get it straight, no holds barred. The Jamie vs. the popular clique felt a lot like another TV show I enjoyed, Kim Possible, especially when Jamie's back story was explored. Kim may not be same as the ice queen Jamie, but I saw her in Jamie's awkwardness in some social situations. The writing felt a little more tell than show, though, and kind of put me off, but Jamie's voice and her realness made up for it. Unfortunately, I found Ryan a little bit too conceited for my taste, despite his descriptions of sweetness or cuteness. Perhaps I'm just not into popular boys or boys who are so sure of themselves that it borders on being annoying more than cute. Nevertheless, Ryan is a good character to spar with Jamie and his persistence is something to be admired -- take that as a hint, guys in real life. :P
I think my main problem with the book is how it becomes repetitive after some time. Yes, Jamie is an ice queen, but Ryan is relentless. Jamie likes Ryan, so she decides to go closer, but oh, Ryan does something that makes her doubt everything she thought. It goes on an on with no visible or tangible conflict, and even the presence of someone from Jamie's past didn't really give much threat to it. When the final showdown happens, I didn't feel excited about it -- it was more of relief: "Oh, finally, something happens!" I totally didn't see that twist coming, and that's good, but I felt like I've slogged through the story for too long before anything of real excitement happens. For a superhero-like novel, it doesn't have a strong villain presence, that's why I think the book really works more as a contemporary novel than one of contemporary with fantasy.
Being Jamie Baker is entertaining, but I think it would have worked better if it was made into a TV show. I can just imagine the episodes where Jamie and Ryan's romantic tensions are portrayed -- I think it would be cuter that way. :) It's not exactly as mind-blowing as I thought it would be but it's a fun read about family and coming to terms with your identity. :) (less)
So everyone who's ever read and loved science fiction has read and loved Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. My friends w...moreOriginal 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! :)(less)