Charlie and the Great Glass Elevatorpicks up right where the first book left off, and Charlie finds himself with Mr....moreOriginal post from One More Page
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevatorpicks up right where the first book left off, and Charlie finds himself with Mr. Wonka and the rest of his family inside the glass elevator and by some crazy mishap involving one of Charlie's grandmothers, they all end up in outer space. But no fear, since Mr. Wonka is there! They find themselves looking at the world's first space hotel, some bewildered astronauts and finally some Vermicious Knids who are set on having them for lunch.
If Charlie and the Chocolate Factorywas fun and comforting, I was just kind of ...weirded out with the next book. There's lots of space stuff here, which was fun in itself, but the fun feel of the first book was missing in this book. It felt like all the other adults in this book save for Willy Wonka and Charlie's Grandpa Joe were all...well, stupid. The Vermicious Knids delivered the right kind of terror, I think, and even I wouldn't want to be trapped with them. Sure, there's a smidgen of adventure in the first part, but it didn't really fly with me. The second part, when they're back in the factory, worked a bit better for me although I felt like it was just an afterthought in the book. There is a bit of a lesson there somewhere, but it didn't have the same charm as the first book.
I guess if I were younger I would've enjoyed this one too, but honestly, I was just reading it to finish it when I got to the end. Although it had some fun merits, a part of me wished that I just stopped with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.Now I can't get the image of those Vermicious Knids out of my head.(less)
Charlie Bucket comes from a poor family who lives near Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory. Always hungry, Charlie...moreOriginal 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.
When a couple gets married, it's easy to think that only their lives will change since they're really the star the wed...moreOriginal post from One More Page
When a couple gets married, it's easy to think that only their lives will change since they're really the star the wedding and the marriage that comes after. It's easy to think that way since all spotlight is turned to them, but have we ever considered what happens to the lives of the people around them? Case in point: one of my closest friend's sister got married last December, and she told me that she and their youngest sister spent the next few days crying because they missed their sister so much. You'd think the sister who got married was all happy because she was now living with her husband, but no -- the married sister was also crying her eyes out of homesickness and separation anxiety for the people at home.
There wasn't much drama in my home when my brother got married, although it did take me a little time to get used to the fact that I can't just barge into the condo where my brother lives anytime I want, or he can't stay too late at our house because he has another home now. Oh, don't get me wrong -- I love my sister-in-law and there's no discord among us. I just needed some time to adjust to the fact that my brother's priorities had changed, which meant ours had to as well.
This is what Marla Miniano's latest book, From This Day Forward, talk about -- how the lives of the people around the couple are also changed once two people decide to get married. Similar to one of her previous books, Table for Two, From This Day Forwardcontains interconnected stories that revolve around a major catalyst: main characters Nala and Nicholas' decision to get married. There's the story of Nala's mom when Nala tells her that she was engaged, and Nicholas' mom who goes off to see an old flame after finding out about the engagement. There's Nala's best friend, who lost the guy she loved and could never get him back, to Nala's cousin who had a complicated relationship with her boyfriend's best friend...who is also incidentally, the groom. The stories are told in different formats and styles -- the straightforward storytelling, third and second person POV, poetry, letters and diary entries -- but all revolving around the two main characters, their families and their friends.
If you've read Marla's Table for Two, From This Day Forwardhas a pretty similar structure, but instead of absolutely random characters who have little connections, we have a cast that have better connections with each other. I liked that about this book, and I felt that it was easier to get into the story of these people because of the closer connections. As usual, there's a certain elegance with the way Marla writes, each word chosen with care to deliver the right punch, but not too flowery that it feels too dramatic. I reveled in these words, and the characters jumped out at me, almost like they were real people instead of just people from a 144-page book. It feels like readers will relate to a bit of each story here, or maybe even find a friend in one of the characters.
I liked From This Day Forwarda bit more than I liked Table for Two because of the stronger connections, although I felt that the last story could have tied up the loose ends from the other characters better. But if we were to be realistic, anyway, when did loose ends in life ever tie up neatly? I liked how Marla ended the book with a quote from her first novel, almost like she was paying a homage of sorts to where she started:
Matter occupies space, and I know -- I guess I always have -- that I can only have space for the things that matter.
After reading this book, I realized that I have become a Marla Miniano completist too. :) I guess it was the right timing too because soon after I got this, I met her in person when I attended her Letters Out Loud event and had my copy signed:
So if you're looking for a quick, romantic and sentimental read, or if you have someone close to you who's tying the knot soon and you're feeling some kind of jitters but don't know why, then you probably want to pick up a copy of From This Day Forward. :)(less)
I liked Marla's first four books, so I really meant to read Fan Girl as soon as it was released. Two things stopped me...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I liked Marla's first four books, so I really meant to read Fan Girl as soon as it was released. Two things stopped me from getting it, though: there weren't many favorable reviews for the book, and this was the first Summit Book that had the Php 175 price. I thought it was a bit too expensive for such a thin book, so I decided not to get it.
Fast forward to a year later, I happened to be at a mall, waiting for someone without a book. Friends, that is the worst possible thing for a reader to do: go out of the house without a book inside her bag. So I was browsing around National Bookstore, looking for something not too expensive and quick enough to read while waiting. There was nothing else I wanted there, so I wandered to the Filipiniana section and there lay the colorful Summit Books. Finally, I decided to get Marla's book, especially since I was still having all the ~*feels*~ from her NaNoWriMo pep talk that I got to read that day.
So, in Fan Girl, Summer meets Scott Carlton, the half-Filipino front man of a local band, and to her surprise, he singles her out. Summer is used to fading in the background, to not being noticed, so she felt that Scott's attention will change her life. It didn't change the way she wanted it to, however, as she gets involved with Scott in a pseudo-relationship, until he packs up for the US for his career. Left behind, Summer tries to move on, until something prompts her to do leave everything she knows to follow her heart. But does Scott want her heart?
So here's the thing I realized (yet again) while reading Fan Girl: the reader's mood while reading a specific book can directly influence how much he/she will like (or not like) the book after. This isn't new, really, but reading Fan Girl stressed that to me. I normally would dislike someone like Summer because she was just being absolutely stupid over the guy, but for some reason, she kind of won my heart a little bit. Oh, she still made stupid decisions, but somehow I sympathized with her and I wanted the best for her. The entire story had some kind of a dream-like quality in it, perhaps because of the author's way with words, and I can really imagine Summer going to a foreign land just to follow what she thought she wants. I didn't approve of Summer's decision, but sometimes there are things that people need to do to finally realize what we want them to realize in the end. I think the author captured that concept very well here.
Of course, there are certain aspects in this book where you might need to suspend your disbelief despite it being a contemporary novel -- like, how Summer can just conveniently fly off, how Scott got a career there too easily, and how it was all wrapped up in the end. Somehow, it felt like some of the set-up were too convenient, too unbelievable.
Despite that, though, I liked Fan Girl. I'm still partial to Marla's Table for Two and her newest one, From This Day Forward (review to follow!), but I think Fan Girlis a pretty enjoyable (albeit angsty) read. If I read this last year, I probably would have not liked it as much, but maybe that's why I didn't buy it last year. :)(less)
Susulat ko dapat ang review nito sa blog ko, pero naisip ko parang di bagay. Saka mas maganda isulat ang review nito sa Tagalog/Taglish kasi ganun din...moreSusulat ko dapat ang review nito sa blog ko, pero naisip ko parang di bagay. Saka mas maganda isulat ang review nito sa Tagalog/Taglish kasi ganun din naman yung libro. :)
So. Binili ko ang librong ito kasi fan ako ni Ramon Bautista at ang kanyang mga online na pakulo. Aliw na aliw ako sa kanya (pati kay Tado, kay Lourd de Veyra at sa barkadahan nila), at tuwing napapagod ako sa opisina eh titignan ko lang ang twitter nya. Aliw na aliw din ako sa web series nya na Tales from the Friend Zone kasi nakakatawa. May kurot, pero nakakatawa -- yung tipong pag napanood mo, matatamaan ka kasi alam mo na nangyari na yun sayo or may kilala ka na nangyari yung ganun o baka nangyayari yun sayo sa panahong iyon, pero tatawa ka pa rin kasi ang kulit ng pagkagawa nila. Ang paborito kong payo galing sa kanila? Lalandi ka na nga lang, sagarin mo na. :P
Nung binasa ko ang librong ito, ang dami, dami, dami kong tawa. Nakakahiya nga kasi ang ingay namin sa opisina nung binabasa ko to. Karamihan nito sagot lang nya sa mga tanong sa kanya sa formspring nya, at karamihan din ng sagot nya dun, common sense lang din ang sagot. Medyo nakakatawa na ang daming halos pare-pareho ang tanong lang tungkol sa pag-ibig, so parang pare-pareho lang din yung sagot. Siguro kasi talaga pagdating sa mga ganun, medyo nababawasan ng common sense mga tao. Hindi ko sinasabi na di rin nangyari sakin yun -- lahat naman ata tayo naging tanga at some point dahil sa pag-ibig. (Yoooown) Umamin!!! :D
Pero sakin kasi, ang librong ito ay talagang patawa lang. May mapupulot na aral din naman, pero yun nga, dinaan sa patawa. Hindi ito yung tipo ng libro na hahanapan mo ng malalim na meaning kasi hindi rin naman ata sinulat to ni Ramon para maging seryosong libro. Pwera na nga lang kung tinamaan ka. :P
So kung gusto mong matawa, ito ang isa sa mga libro na talagang hahalakhak ka ng mag-isa habang binabasa mo siya. :) Nakalimutan ko na kung ilang beses ako humagikgik habang binabasa to mag-isa. Buti na lang wala ako kasama nun, kasi baka maiyak lang ako sa kakatawa habang pinapaliwanag siya. :D(less)
You know how I said that I probably would not drop by Komikon if the Trese 5 release wasn't announced? I take it back --...moreOriginal post at One More Page
You know how I said that I probably would not drop by Komikon if the Trese 5 release wasn't announced? I take it back -- I realize that I would have probably gone there anyway, just to support Paolo's newest release, Mythspace. It's not that I did not know about his newest project. I heard of it, but I was too busy in the past weeks before Komikon to check the Mythspace Monday posts he had up on his blog leading to the release. In a way that is a blessing in disguise, because now that I've read the sampler they released last Komikon, I'm catching up on the posts which I hope will tide me over until Mythspace fully launches.
What is Mythspace, anyway? Pao talks about it in detail in this post, but if you want the quick, one-line summary: Mythspace is what happens when Philippine folklore meets science fiction, specifically aliens. This new series plays on the idea that the creatures we know from folk tales and movies not simply monsters from our grandparents' stories, but you know, creatures from outer space. Sounds crazy, yes?
But you know what? It actually works.
Mythspace #0is the preview issue for the science fiction anthology. Here we can read a bit of two stories from the anthology, as well as preview of the art from the different illustrators: Koi Carreon, Borg Sinaban, Jules Gregorio, Mico Dimagiba, Cristina Rose Chua, Paul Quiroga. I'm not a good judge of art, but I liked that each story seemed to have its own personality because of the artist. I also liked reading the previews for the two longest stories there, with Liftoff having that mystery-in-space type of story with a somewhat angst-ridden hero, and Unfurling of Wings reminding me so much of the chimaera world in Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone. There's also a bit of information on the aliens we will meet in the issues. My favorites are the Kapre and the Manananggal - somehow, these versions are less scary than what I heard from stories growing up.
Overall, I loved this preview. The booklet is short, so everything ends before you feel like you really know things, but it's a good thing because I am totally looking forward to the release of the first installment of the anthology in 2013. Now I'm pretty sure that the world will not (and cannot!) end on December 2012 -- after all, we still need to have the rest of the Mythspace anthology in our grubby little hands. :) (less)
So the news of the fifth installmentof the graphic novel Trese by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo totally took me by su...moreOriginal post at One More Page
So the news of the fifth installmentof the graphic novel Trese by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo totally took me by surprise. I wasn't supposed to pass by the Komikon on the last weekend of October because I thought I didn't have anything to go there for. And then I saw the Facebook update from the publisher and that made me adjust my weekend plans, stat.
When weird things happen in the city, the police call Alexandra Trese. However, there seemed to be someone else who's answering these calls before Trese can get to them. Someone who's faster, and who's slowly gaining popularity because of his public antics. Trese gets to the bottom of it quick, and finds that there's more to the surface with this being who's doing her job for her.
I'm making the summary vague on purpose because it's good not to be spoiled with this issue. This is a common storyline, really, where someone else tries to take the job of our hero/heroine and can often do it better than them, which makes our star a less credible hero. But more often than not, this replacement hero/heroine has bad intentions, which our hero/heroine will uncover in the end. Trese #5 followed that pattern and then veered away from it, making it more interesting than it already is.
Midnight Tribunalfollows the same format that Mass Murdersdid, with four interconnected stories instead of independent cases. I loved how old characters showed up again, like the nuno (who is now asking for Kitkat instead of Chocnut) and Maliksi, the young tikbalang bachelor who will definitely play a big part in the later issues. I love, love, love the Kambal, with their funny quips and awesome, awesome lines. They're definitely funnier now than they were before, but they were also just as kick-ass as their boss.
I loved how there was more development in Trese's story arc here, and important characters were introduced in this installment that I am definitely looking forward to reading about in the next! This is definitely one of my favorites in the series, and I am one very, very happy fan. :) I cannot wait to know what happens next!(less)
When was the last time I read a paranormal YA novel? I cannot remember anymore. That was my main hesitation when I was o...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When was the last time I read a paranormal YA novel? I cannot remember anymore. That was my main hesitation when I was offered a review copy of Voices in the Theaterby A.S. Santos. Other than being categorized as paranormal, the story seemed more on the horror side and I also don't do horror stories. So what made me read this, then? A friend telling me she thinks there's a fit. I honestly doubted it, then, but I was craving for more local fiction so I said yes. When I found myself suddenly in a place where I can't open my paperback and just start reading, I found myself starting this book, since it was the only new one in my phone's e-reader.
I was wary about it, being paranormal and having that horror factor and all, but you know what got me really interested? Early in the book, I had a feeling the setting was familiar, and then 11% into it, it was confirmed:
De La Salle University: the place where I felt like a freak...
It's not the freak part that got me, but the school -- this book is set in my alma mater! :D How exciting is that? Talk about anchoring it in real life things.
Voices in the Theater is the first book in A.S. Santos' Student Paranormal Research Group series. We meet Samantha Davidson, a Filipina-American who has a special ability: she can hear people's thoughts. After her grandmother died, she and her family moved to the Philippines and she tried to live a normal life, except she joined the new org in school that dabbled in the paranormal. For their first project, they investigate on the rumored haunting in the school's theater, where Sam hears not just the voices of the dead, but other spirits, too. With these hauntings confirmed, Sam realizes that there was more to it, and there could be someone close to her that these spirits are targeting. Sam has to act fast, but she realizes that there are many supernatural powers at play that knows her past, and she's not sure if she can summon enough faith to do what she needs to do.
I was surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. Well, being set in DLSU is already a big thing for me, so I knew I would like it, but I was really surprised at how much I really liked this! Voices in the Theater reminded me of those ghost stories that my college friends and I talked about around school, the Ghost Hunters TV show with the scientific paraphernalia, that old Spirits TV show where the characters had some kind of supernatural powers, and even a bit of my favorite Peretti novels with the angels and demons talk. I know this is a lot, but they just worked together really well and I didn't feel the least bit bored with the story. The book kept me at the edge of my seat, and there were several times that I had to stop myself from reading because I was seriously getting creeped out. But I still wanted to read because I wanted to know what happens next.
Like I said, my enjoyment factor was upped because of the familiarity, and I was really thrilled when I read my old college org there, too! I liked how Voices in the Theater didn't just deal with the paranormal but also touched a bit on faith, and what role it plays in spiritual warfare. And it's really that -- the meat of this book is spiritual warfare. I wished there was a bit more praying in the characters, but it might be asking too much. But I was glad there were praying characters there.
The only thing that I probably didn't like was the romance aspect. It might just be me, but I was almost begging the book to not have that paranormal romance aspect because...well, because I didn't like it. I even formed my own OTP among the characters (SAM + MIGS FOREVER!). Haha. But seriously, I could do without that romance. Please don't let it go that way? At least it was tastefully written and there's some sort of healthy realism to it. It didn't have that insta-love/I can't live without you type of romance that I've grown to really dislike. Female heroine with sense FTW!
But overall, I thought Voices in the Theaterby A.S. Santos was a really, really good book. Plus points to the ending, where I can really visualize where the final scene was happening. :D And more plus points because there was a certain part of the book that reminded me of the feeling I had right after I finished reading Mina V. Esguerra'sInterim Goddess of Love. I can't describe it exactly, but it's the kind of feeling that makes you want to start telling others about the book you just read. BecauseI am definitely recommending this book to anyone who's looking for good Filipino paranormal YA (and to anyone who studied in DLSU!).
I can't wait to read the next installment in the Student Paranormal Research Group series (what a mouthful!). :) Please come out soon! Thanks to the publisher for the review copy!(less)
I'm not a huge fan of historical novels, really. I tend to stay away from them because they're just not my type. Of cour...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I'm not a huge fan of historical novels, really. I tend to stay away from them because they're just not my type. Of course, there were some that I enjoyed, namely Jennifer Donnelly's books, The Guernsey Literary ...,and yeah, even Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere, which I really attribute to the fact that these books had personal significance for me (A Northern Light had things about words, Revolution because of Paris, Guernsey because of the recommendations, and Noli Me Tangere because it was a Filipino historical novel), but other than that, I had no reasons to pick them up. They're almost like classics to me -- hard to get into, and really not my cup of tea. But I can make exceptions, especially since I did say I want to read more Filipino fiction, so when the publisher offered a review copy of Raissa Rivera-Falgui's Woman in a Frameto me, I decided to give it a try.
Woman in a Frameintroduces Ning, short for Sining, who is a daughter of an artist and dreams of becoming an artist herself. Thanks to her deceased father's connections, she was able to attend a summer art program where she stumbles upon a very curious painting of a woman who feels very familiar to her. Curious, Ning searches for the artist and the story behind the painting. In 1896, Marcela, a young artist from the Simbulan artist family joins her father to paint the town's darling, Raquel Riola. Raquel is set to marry Julio Benitez, a Spanish peninsular from Europe. Marcela develops a friendship with Raquel, but also falls in love with Julio. She is faced with choosing between her family, new friend and her love, the social differences between her and Julio and a possible involvement in a brewing revolution against the government.
I liked Woman in a Frame.I wasn't expecting it especially since I wasn't really captured in the first chapter, but as I read on, I fell in love with Marcela and the Simbulan family and their life in 1896. I can imagine the afternoons where Marcela and her father would be at the Riola mansion to do their job, and how a Filipina and a half-Spanish girl would walk in the afternoons and chatter over things despite their differences. I'm not an artsy person, but I can vividly imagine the kind of art that the Simbulan family makes, and how it could become their living. I liked Marcela as a character, and her loyalty to her family and her friendship, and how she dealt with her affection for Julio. It was quite refreshing -- she's far from timid and shy Maria Clara, but more of a Sinang from Noli Me Tangere, especially with what she did in the end.
I think it was the freshness of Noli in my mind that helped me visualize the setting and in the novel, so it almost felt I was just focusing on another character in Noli when I was readingWoman in a Frame. A spin-off, if you may. There were the friars and the brewing revolution, but it didn't take over the story and turn Marcela into a young Katipunera as I almost expected it to be. I'm glad it didn't turn out that way, because I didn't know if I'd like that turn! I liked the bittersweet feeling of the first love, and how it all unfolded in the end. The synopsis had that Filipino soap opera feel when you think about it, but it had a pretty interesting turn of events that wasn't dramatic at all.
My only wish is that there was more Ning in the story! The story reminded me a lot of the dual narrative in Revolution but it lacked what that novel had -- the dual narrative. I enjoyed the Marcela story, but I wished that we got to see Ning more since this was also her story. Okay, fine, it was more of Marcela's story, but I just really wished we had more of present time and Ning, and not just some sort of info dump at the end tying up the connections between her and Marcela.
I still liked Woman in a Frame despite that little nitpick, though! I think historical fiction fans will like it, and it's a quick enough read and get lost in in a day. It also gives readers a good insight on Filipino artists and how regular people were a part of the revolution. And...yeah, the romance factor is pretty satisfying, too. :) Thanks to the publisher for the review copy! :)(less)
The Giving Treewas one of the books lined up for our book club's December discussion. It lost the face to face voting l...moreOriginal 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.(less)
So I read The Viewless Darkaround October, because it was supposed to be a horror novel and the best time to read a hor...moreOriginal post at One More Page
So I read The Viewless Darkaround October, because it was supposed to be a horror novel and the best time to read a horror story is during Halloween, right? I was kind of wary, though, because I'm not a fan of anything scary, so I made sure I read this in broad daylight.
The Viewless Darkis about Anthony's friend, Flo, who was found dead in the university library. He knew his friend's death had something to do with Mary, who committed suicide some time ago, and whose death Anthony and Flo were investigating. Here we see what really happened, and what Anthony knew about Flo that no one else knew and what exactly Flo had been going through the night before she died.
Of course I ended up reading this at night, anyway, because I need something to lull me to sleep. And even if I read this in broad daylight, I still felt creeped out every now and then with the story. I liked how the story unfolded from the death of Flo and into flashbacks that pointed just to how exactly Flo ended up that way to what happened to Anthony's family. I liked how vivid the setting was and how sufficiently creepy the "possession" they set up, until the final twist in the end which undid everything I thought I knew. And then Eliza wraps it up in a different way, giving it a poignant, almost hopeful ending.
I'm pretty sure I'm just chicken, and other friends might not think that this is as scary as I thought it was. But even so, I have a very good feeling that some of my friends will like this book just as much as I did. :)(less)
Lower Myths got me craving for more of Eliza's stories, so when I found out that Visprint released an anthology of her s...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Lower Myths got me craving for more of Eliza's stories, so when I found out that Visprint released an anthology of her stories, I knew I had to get it. A Bottle of Storm Clouds contains 16 short stories that have appeared in various anthologies, all with the same local fantasy goodness. I was so excited to get this one after the 2nd Filipino ReaderCon (I really, really wanted to win one, but alas, I didn't) -- and I wasn't planning to read it immediately to save me some local fiction goodness, but I couldn't wait, either. And so I read.
A Bottle of Storm Clouds is one of those books that you can't help but keep on reading but you also don't want to end just yet. I tried not to read this book too fast because I wanted to savor each story. There's something interesting and entirely different in each story -- some of them were creepy, most of them sad, but all had really good fantasy elements that stretched my imagination wider than it did before. :) I liked how Eliza hinged most of the stories with real human experiences like grief and sadness, family and friendship and love and even selfishness and life crisis. It's a good balance between magic and reality, and there are certain lines that meld them together nicely, like this one:
Magic. Amanda thought of clear skies and stars, steamed rice and fish, bagoong soaked in vinegar. A cup of coffee in the early morning, the feel of grass, the city lights. Clarissa. Her brother carrying her on his back, her parents dancing on the cool patio as it rained. The ground pounding with life. A poem humming in her head. (Siren Song)
My personal favorites: Ana's Little Pawnshop on Makiling St., Intersections, Sugar Pi, Parallels, Monsters, The Storyteller's Curse, Siren's Song. I think there's a story for each and every reader in this collection, and probably even for every mood. I liked this collection a lot, and if you want to read good, local fantasy with different flavors, get A Bottle of Storm Clouds.I'm sure you'll find a favorite in one of them. :)(less)
I love watching crime shows, but I only really like watching fictional ones. Any crime show or documentary that is "base...moreOriginal 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.(less)
The Historianby Elizabeth Kostova is our book for our November discussion for the book club. It was my only choice amon...moreOriginal 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. :)(less)
If you asked me a year ago if I knew who David Mitchell was and if I have plans of reading any of his books ever, I prob...moreOriginal post at One More Page
If you asked me a year ago if I knew who David Mitchell was and if I have plans of reading any of his books ever, I probably would just give you a blank stare and then shake my head. I had no idea who he was, and his books weren't really my type of books. So when my friend Monique reviewed Cloud Atlas early this year, I liked the review, but I didn't think that I'd go and get it because it felt like a "serious" book and I was still attached to my YA.
Then...I don't know, peer pressure? Word of mouth? Hype? I see more and more of David Mitchell's name on Goodreads, and more and more people raving about him and so I wonder -- what's the deal with him? Is he really that amazing? Will I like him too? Curiosity won me over, so I decided to finally try a Mitchell book. Since Cloud Atlasseemed to be the most popular, and the fact that its movie is coming soon, some book club friends and I set up a reading buddy session with the fans eagerly eavesdropping on our mini-discussion.
Cloud Atlas contains six stories that span across different eras and set in different places all over the world with completely different characters and story lines. At first it seems that each story is independent from one another, until after I finished the first chapter and I was all, "Huh?". As it turns out, the six stories were structured in a way that each is connected to the other despite the differences in settings, characters and genre. Yes, genre. Curious yet?
We start with The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, a journal of an American notary from Chatham Islands back to California set in 1850. From Adam we meet Robert Forbisher in Letters From Zedelghem, who writes to his friend Rufus Sixsmith about his time as an amanuensis to an old and blind musical genius, Vyvyan Ayrs. Decades later, in Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery, there's Rufus Sixsmith again, and he meets journalist Luisa Rey who attempts to blow a conspiracy wide open. After we are left hanging with Luisa Rey, in comes the British Timothy Cavendish, a publisher who gets in all sorts of scrapes which he thinks could form a movie on his life entitled The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish, if he can get out of it alive. Even more years later, in An Orison of Sonmi~451, we are transported into a dystopian world set in a new Korea called Nea So Copros, and clones called fabricants are employed to do all sorts of dirty work for everyone. Sonmi~451 is a clone who is up for execution and she is given the chance to tell her stor before she goes to the Litehouse. Finally, set into the very distant future, there's Zachry and the story of his tribe in Sloosha's Crossin' an' Everythin' After. From there, the story goes back to Sonmi~451, Tim Cavendish, Luisa Rey, Robert Forbisher and finally back to Adam Ewing.
Here's the thing about Cloud Atlas that made me realize that I will like it: it's like a novel of spin-offs stories. And I like spin-offs. I liked how Mitchell surprised me in every story, and I wasn't sure what to expect every time a chapter ends (and more often than not, I'm left wanting more with every chapter because it just ends). I liked how he stretched my imagination with every story, I liked the way he writes and how the novel switches from one genre to another seamlessly. By the third story, I knew I would like the book -- the question is how much I would really like it. As I read the last few chapters, I thought this would just be a four-star book...and then I got to the end. You know how you don't want the book to end, but you want to keep on reading because you want to know what happens? Then when you get to the very final line, the chills just come? And they were awesome chills? Really awesome chills? And then you want to read the book all over again? That's what Cloud Atlas did to me.
I know this review is being a bit vague, but this book is not the kind of book that you'd want to be spoiled when you read it. The structure may seem like a gimmick, but I think for this story, it's an effective way to tell the story and make connections. As a whole, I think Cloud Atlasis a book that deals with connectedness. Each character's story can stand on their own and can be taken as it is, but once you start putting them together, we see that their stories become richer, more meaningful in several ways. It's just like how each of us has our own story and we can live with just that...but once our lives cross with one another and our stories touch...everything changes.
To summarize: I loved Cloud Atlas. I loved it, I loved it. And from how my friends have raved about Mitchell's other books, I am now looking forward to reading the rest of his works. Especially if his other characters make a cameo in his other novels! :) I think that's the best part of this Cloud Atlas reading experience: discovering a new author whose works will make you just want to read more and more and more.
Oh, and I am definitely looking forward to the movie. Have you seen the five-minute trailer? Awesome, awesome chills. :)(less)
I received a copy of Brightest during our 7th Face to Face discussion for our book club, where Jho, from Isshin Dream Pu...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I received a copy of Brightest during our 7th Face to Face discussion for our book club, where Jho, from Isshin Dream Publishing, gave away copies. I was curious, and I have a soft spot for local, self-published books, so I got one and read it immediately the next day after the event (when I've caught up on sleep, that is). :) Brightestis the story of a firefly catcher who got lost trying to find his way home. As he went through the forest, he runs into a broken firefly who was also lost -- lost long ago, and has given up on finding himself again.
I liked it. The illustrations were gorgeous, as well as the printing -- it was such a pretty book that I almost didn't want it to end. It felt like a good bed time story, something that parents would read to kids who don't feel like sleeping, or at least, to read to kids who have trouble sleeping in fear of nightmares. I guess the older reader in me just started questioning some things, like why exactly was the firefly broken? I didn't quite get that, but maybe that's me over thinking it.
Overall, though, Brightest was a lovely book, and it's one that I would probably give to my brother and sister-in-law once they have kids. :) (less)
So I got Adorkable based on impulse, and I got it because I was curious with Sarra Manning books. I haven't found copie...moreOriginal post at One More Page
So I got Adorkable based on impulse, and I got it because I was curious with Sarra Manning books. I haven't found copies of her adult contemporary romances just yet, so I settled for her YA book and one that seemed to be something I would like. Jeane Smith is a blogger and she basically runs her own life with her own brand of quirky style. This makes her quite unpopular, especially with her strong opinions on things, which puts her on the other end of the spectrum from popular boy Michael Lee, who she can't really stand. When Jeane's ex-boyfriend and Michael's ex-girlfriend get together, it was the only thing that they share in common. But is that enough for them to...well, start snogging? Apparently, it is.
So Adorkable. I liked how clear Jeane and Michael's voices were that even if there were no clear chapter headings or style changes every time a chapter changes, I know who's speaking. I liked the idea that Jeane makes a living as a blogger and how she speaks to so many people about her own brand and how she has become the voice of the teens. There were so many fun things in this novel that I can't help but smile and wonder why those things didn't happen back when I was Jeane's age. I could've been one of those blogging superstars too, you know? :P There were also many laugh out loud moments, in the book and "awww" moments, especially during that Christmas scene with the Lee family and...well, basically anything that involved Michael because he is kind of adorable.
But...my like for this book kind of ends there. I really wanted to like this book, but somehow most of it just kind of got on my nerves. I think it came to a point when I realized that I was one of those kids that Jeane would be annoyed at if I were in high school with her. I don't follow trends blindly nor go and be mean on purpose to some classmates that I don't like, but I feel like I'm not dorky enough to pass by Jeane's standards. And somehow that made me feel like I'm in the wrong despite the fact that the book was promoting being comfortable with yourself. Maybe Jeane is just not the person I would be friends with if I was back in high school. I'd like to believe that I won't be judging, but knowing my high school self, I probably will. There were times when I enjoyed and admired Jeane, but I think there were more times when I was just exasperated with her, and I wondered what would be her undoing. Sometimes I think she was trying hard to be too radical and dorky, and I just got so annoyed a how she pushed everyone away.
But maybe that's the point of that, and the point of the story with how she changed. Still, I felt that when that turning point finally came, it was too late for me to start liking Jeane again. I get all the empowerment with being yourself and daring to be different, but here's the thing: do you really have to be in everyone's faces and think who doesn't dress or think like you so you can be adorkable? Nah. Adorkableis cute, but I think it's not my kind of book.(less)
Here's my theory about love stories, or at least, anything romantic: my appreciation level in the story is directly rela...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Here's my theory about love stories, or at least, anything romantic: my appreciation level in the story is directly related to the state of my heart while I was reading it. Wow, look at that, me using that phrase state of my heart. But it's true, isn't it? It's easier to appreciate happy love stories when you're happy, and heartache stories resonate more when you more or less share the same state, or have been in that state before and you can relate.
So how exactly did I find this comic book? Well, if the state of my heart was any indication (and I am probably digging a grave for myself by writing this), I liked it. Maybe I'm just really a romantic at heart, or I'm just a generally happy person, or there's something else, but I thought this book is pretty sweet, despite it being "stories of love and heartache". I'm no expert at art, but I appreciated the comics, especially the cute stories in between each major story.
I guess this is one of those books that show different facets of love, and how things can work out or how things may not work out. It's a very quick read, and I finished it in one sitting, but I didn't feel as if I wanted more. Perhaps the reading was enough to satisfy the state of my heart then.
My favorite part in the entire anthology is the last story, Red String, about a man who has been looking for his soul mate by looking for whoever was tied to the other end of the red string on his finger. I don't know about you, but I found the last part quite...hopeful.
I wouldn't have heard of this short story if it wasn't for my Goodreads friends who started reviewing it on their profil...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I wouldn't have heard of this short story if it wasn't for my Goodreads friends who started reviewing it on their profiles.The Paper Menagerie is a short story about a boy whose mom was a mail-order bride from China who can barely speak English and can make magical paper origami. The boy had a collection of moving paper animals from his mother as a kid, and it was their odd but sweet means of communication. However, as the boy grew up, he had to deal with his friends who don't understand their family set-up and eventually, he started drifting apart from his mother.
This short story reminded me of all those stories that I used to read as a kid, the ones that make me feel guilty and inspired at the same time -- guilty because I know that I can be like the kid who push away her parents because I am starting to have my own life, but also inspired because it makes me not want to have the same fate as the kids in the story. The fantasy elements in The Paper Menagerie were indeed gentle, and at first I wasn't sure if I read it right. It made me wonder for a moment if origami paper animals were really supposed to move and I've been doing the things I used to do wrong.
This is short and sweet, and it would take little time to read it. It left me with a feeling that...well, I don't want to end up being like the boy in the end. It's not the kind of regret that anyone wants to have, for sure. You can read The Paper Menagerie here, or listen to the story here.(less)
I've been wanting to get The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making(will be called Fairyland...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've been wanting to get The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making(will be called Fairyland from here on out) by Catherynne M. Valente ever since I read a review from The Book Smugglers. I was curious because they both gave high ratings for the book, but I was also a bit too stingy to get myself a hardbound copy, and it was quite hard to find one in local bookstores here. But patience is a virtue, because after some waiting, I finally spotted a paperback copy of the book in Fully Booked one time early this year.
Twelve-year-old September is Somewhat Grown and Somewhat Heartless, and when the Green Wind and a Leopard of Little Breezes came and asked to join them into Fairyland, she accepts. What follows is a fun adventure where September gets her courage and wishes washed, befriends the wyvern born from a library, and sets out to Fix Things for Fairyland who has been under a rule of a villainous Marquess.
I read the book for my Required Reading in September, just because the main character's name is also September. I was prepared for a light and joyful fantasy romp, and I was really hoping that I would like it as much as the other reviewers said they did.
And you know what? I liked Fairyland very much! Fairyland is such a smart and fun book -- fun because of all the adventures and characters that our heroine meets along the way, and smart because things were never really explained in detail, but the readers were allowed to figure things out. Everything in the book was so creative and bright and shiny, and I was truly, truly invested in everyone in the boo.
But it's not all bright and happy and joyful all the time -- there was bloodshed, and several dark moments in the book that made me realize that it's not really a children's book after all. But I liked how it balanced off the fun elements and really brings out the point of the story and also makes September and our other characters grow up.
Other than the story, I really loved the writing. Valente's writing is very whimsical and charming, and I was surprised at how many pages I have dog-eared in the book. There were some passages that were just fun (but true), like:
Temperament, you'll find, is highly dependent on time of day, weather, frequency of naps, and whether one has had enough to eat.
Some full of wisdom:
When you are born, your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you're half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it's so grunged up with living. So every once and a while, you have to scrub it and get the works going or else you'll never be brave again...So most people go around with grimy machinery, when all it would take is a bit of spit and polish to make paladins once more, bold knights and true.
While some just squeezed my heart:
I will walk wherever it is I wish to go. I will walk to my grandfather the Municipal Library, and he will praise me for my unselfishness. I have walked my whole life. More will not hurt me.
Fairyland is a fun book, and I like that there's more to look forward to in the next book, which I hear is also very, very good. I'm looking forward to reading more of September's adventures (and finding out about that part near the ending -- Did you see her?) and also reading Cat Valente's other books for her gorgeous writing. :) (less)
If you haven't read Feed yet, don't even try opening this. Read it first, digest it, and then come back for this when you're ready enough to do so.
Wel...moreIf you haven't read Feed yet, don't even try opening this. Read it first, digest it, and then come back for this when you're ready enough to do so.
Well if you think having your heart broken from Feed wasn't enough, try this alternate ending. I never thought it could happen this way, but when you think about it, this seemed like the way it could and would happen.
Of course, if you've read Deadline, questions will pop up about how this ending happened. But that doesn't make this less heart breaking.
Avery has her eyes set on her life plan: she plans to attend a summer program in Costa Rica, graduate the top of her cla...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Avery has her eyes set on her life plan: she plans to attend a summer program in Costa Rica, graduate the top of her class during senior year and then head for medical school. She wasn't going to let anything get in her way...except her dreams hang on a very critical issue: she needed more money to get into the program in Costa Rica. Then her biggest rival for the valedictorian position and ex-best friend Hannah gives her an offer: she will pay Avery five hundred dollars if she can make Zac Greeley break up with Hannah. Avery accepts the offer, only to be surprised that Zac is nothing like she expected.
I read The Boyfriend Thief by Shana Norris expecting that there would be two girls trying to steal a guy, or at least a girl falling for a guy who has a girlfriend and the girl trying to steal him. You know, the kind you watch on TV shows that make you curse whoever you don't like and wish for the guy to end up with the girl you most identified with? Well, it wasn't at all like that, and I know I should have read the summary more so I wouldn't bethat surprised.
But it's not a bad surprise anyway. The Boyfriend Thiefis a fun, independently published contemporary YA novel about a girl who likes being in control. Avery is a girl who needs to have everything in control, but not really without good reason. When Avery's mom left them, she took control of their household, thinking that if she has everything under her control, then no one would leave anymore. I used to be/still am a control freak so I know how that feels, but I also know how hard it is when things do not go the way I want to. In a way I sympathized with Avery with this, and I was really worried at what could happen with the fallout.
Here's the thing, though -- as much as I can relate to Avery, I don't think I really like her. I don't think I would be good friends with her because she can beso uptight! I'd like to believe that I'm not like that anymore (dear friends, I'm not, right? :D) and I figure that if I met Avery, I wouldn't really want to be friends with her. :-s That doesn't mean that she's a bad character though -- I think this reaction is kind of a testament that she was well-written that I get this reaction. On the upside, her growth in the book felt real, and I found myself cheering for her when she finally loosens up.
The other characters that needs to be noted are Zac and Hannah. Zac seemed like such a darling. I liked him and his craziness, even if his spontaneity would probably drive me nuts, too. I liked his intensity and his chemistry with Avery. I wished there was more to Hannah, though, like a bit more dimension in her character? She was mean and calculating, but I wished there was some kind of redemption for her in the end, instead of being a "scorned woman" character.
Overall, I liked The Boyfriend Thiefenough. It was a fun read (although not so quick, because I think I was reading Fellowship of the Ring while I was also reading this), and it's also quite well written. I learned several things in this -- not about stealing boyfriends, but how sometimes, we just have to let go of control and let life happen because sometimes it just works better that way. :) (less)