Oh Ilona Andrews, did you know how the two of you just made my Christmas so awesome? Thank you so much for this free KatOriginal post at One More Page
Oh Ilona Andrews, did you know how the two of you just made my Christmas so awesome? Thank you so much for this free Kate Daniels novella. :) Magic Gifts is set shortly after Magic Slays, and it starts with a dinner date between the Beast Lord Curran and Kate. Of course, the chance of normalcy is slim as some moments after their date has started, heads started to roll -- literally. Soon, Kate and Curran and everyone else is fighting to save a boy's life, running after vikings and dwarfs while ensuring that the rest of Atlanta will not fall apart with a breakdown of sorts.
General spoiler warning for those who haven't read any Kate Daniels books yet (And why haven't you read any, for the love of all things awesome?). Two words to describe this book: SO. GOOD. I love it, I love it. Even if it is shorter than the other Kate Daniels novels, this book is just as good. Kate and Curran are still as awesome (and romantic) as ever, and how mature their relationship seems. I love it when they spar verbally, and how Kate cares about him and how he cares for her. I also love how we see all the other characters here too besides the two of them: Doolittle, Derek, Jim, Andrea, Ascanio, even Grendel the attack poodle! And I have to say now that my favorite vampires are in Kate Daniels' world. Or, my favorite necromancers, rather. Gasthek is such a character!
When I was a kid, I had fond memories of reading about different Filipino legends for school. These legends were reallyOriginal post at One More Page
When I was a kid, I had fond memories of reading about different Filipino legends for school. These legends were really made to teach a lesson to us kids to be nice, respectful and hardworking, really, and not just tall tales for bedtime stories. Most notable was the legend of the pineapple, which tells of a girl who felt lazy to look for what her mother was asking her to find and her exasperated mom wishes for her to have many eyes so she can find it and poof, she turns into a pineapple. I cannot remember, though, of a story talking about other Filipino legends, myths and epics other than the usual kiddie stories, save for Maria Makiling (the fairy that lives in Mount Makiling, one of the well-known mountains in the Philippines) and the Biag ni Lam-Ang (The Life of Lam-Ang), which I had to know because my mom is from Ilocos. So I was one of the people who knew almost nothing about Philippine Mythology that jumped at the idea of reading Alternative Alamat, a collection of stories from Filipino writers edited by Paolo Chikiamco (writer of High Society). Since I vowed to read and review more local fiction ever since I started this blog, I know I can't miss this one.
The thing I like about anthologies is that it doesn't require as much commitment as a full length novel does. You can read one story, stop and go back to the collection after some time without feeling lost. But the thing is, I never really wanted to stop reading Alternative Alamat because I keep getting surprised by the stories it contained. There were times when I thought that I wouldn't like the story I was reading after a few paragraphs, and then I end up really liking it in the end because of some kind of twist. I think there's something for everyone in each story in this collection. Ana's Little Pawnshop on Makiling St. (Eliza Victoria) reminded me of those stories I read in our literary folio in college, with its YA-ish, magic realism charm. Harinuo's Love Song (Rochita Leonen-Ruiz) and Keeper of My Sky (Timothy James Dimacali) with their lyrical prose, were haunting and sad tales of a love that shouldn't have been and couldn't be. There were stories that gave different perspectives on some of the Filipino goddesses all bearing the same first name Maria but all with different personalities: Conquering Makiling (Monique Francisco) for Maria Makiling, Beneath the Acacia (Celestine Trinidad) for Maria Sinukuan, and The Sorceress Queen (Raissa Rivera Falgui) for Maria Malindig. There were stories from legends that seemed like a stranger at first but then turns into something more familiar: Offerings to Aman Sinaya (Andre Tupaz) deals with how we have turned from the old fishing ways to the newer ones that destroy the oceans; Balat, Buwan, Ngalan (David Hontiveros) seemed like meta fiction of sorts since it mentions a book of local legends that was published and launched. Then there were the fun things, like alternate histories, that picks on the two times that the Filipinos fought back from the Spanish conquerors: The Alipin's Tale (Raymond G. Falgui) and A Door Opens: The Beginning of the Fall of the Ispancialo-in-Hinirang (Dean Alfar). And if you have ever read any of the Trese comics, then you're in for a treat here because The Last Full Show (Budjette Tan) is a story that shows a side of Alexandra Trese not shown in the comics. It's hard to pick favorites among the stories because they each had something different to like about it -- the writing, the treatment of the myth, the characters, the twists. There are also illustrations in the book too (done by cover artist, Mervin Malonzo), that are also based on Philippine myths and perfectly complements the content. It's really a treasure trove of the things that make the Filipino culture so rich and colorful, and I'm pretty sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Alternative Alamat also contains a few appendices about notable Filipino deities, interviews with experts on the field, tips on researching Philippine myths and a glossary of terms. While it may seem that these things were included in the book for foreign readers, I think it's also for Filipinos like me who know almost nothing about Philippine mythology. I think this makes Alternative Alamat more accessible to readers, regardless if you're a Filipino or you've lived in the country for a while or you're just a curious reader who's interested in the title even if you have no idea where in the world the Philippines is.
Is there anything I don't like about this? Well, I just wish that it was a little bit longer. I truly felt sad when I read that the anthology was closing with Dean Alfar's story. But having this book out in the wild now doesn't mean it has to stop there, right? After all, there is always an option for a second volume. ;) And also, a print version would be nice. So I can gift this to friends who refuse to get an e-reader. :D But other than that, there's nothing else I would nitpick on. I think all the things I wrote up there sufficiently says how much I loved Alternative Alamat. I've never felt more prouder to be a Filipino when I was reading this. Somehow, I felt that this book and the stories in this collection were mine -- mine because I am a Filipino and the stories found inside is a part of my heritage. :)
So if you're one of the people who received an e-reader for Christmas, or you've had one for a while and you're looking for something really new to read for the new year, then imagine me pushing, no, shoving this ebook to you. If you're going to get one new ebook before this year ends or if you're going to buy a new one as the 2012 comes in, make it Alternative Alamat. You won't regret it, I promise. :) ...more
In my quest to find more classics to read and catch up with my classics reading challenge, I stumbled upon Daddy-Long-LOriginal post at One More Page
In my quest to find more classics to read and catch up with my classics reading challenge, I stumbled upon Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster in Goodreads. I remember seeing a review of this somewhere there, too, and seeing it had a lot of favorable reviews, I decided to download it for free from the Kindle store.
The reviews have told me enough to know that a cartoon was based on this book. It's vaguely familiar, but I really cannot remember much of it, save for the main character, Judy, who reminds me of Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables:
I think this started airing when I was already in school so I hardly had the time to watch it, which also probably explains that why my memory of this cartoon is choppy at best.
Anyway, I decided to read this short book last week, because I needed something light to make my brain recover from all the crazy writing madness in NaNoWriMo. Daddy-Long-Legs is the story of Jerusha Abbott, later known as Judy, the oldest orphan in John Grier Home who was sent to college by an anonymous Trustee. The only condition that she needs to fulfill as "payment" for the education was for her to write letters about her studies to a certain Mr. John Smith. She calls this mysterious benefactor "Daddy Long Legs" because the only thing she knew about him was he was a tall person based on his shadow:
What follows is Judy's letters to Daddy Long Legs for the next four years of college, telling him of her lessons, her dorm room, her friends joyful Sally and snobbish Julie, her college adventures, her summers spent at Lock Willow farm and even some kind of romance. In the midst of all these, Judy gets frustrated with the mysteriousness and the distance that Daddy Long Legs has put between them, and she yearns to know more about this man who had noticed her and helped her out of the kindness of his heart.
So all reviews I read about this book are right: Daddy-Long-Legs is such a refreshing read. This thin volume is brimming with charm and honesty that I can only remember from, yes, Anne of Green Gables. Judy is such a charming narrator and her stories are so easy to relate to. Her letters are filled with wit and interesting stuff that I wondered why Daddy Long Legs lasted that long not replying to her. Case in point:
You never answered my question and it was very important.
ARE YOU BALD?
I think I liked Judy a lot because she reminded me so much of myself. She was never too nice, nor was she especially mean. She recognizes that she can be mean at times, especially when she gets frustrated or annoyed by other people or with herself. Most of her letters were introspective at most, and they're really the things that friends share with each other over long talks. Here are some memorable passages:
I think that the most necessary quality for any person to have is imagination. It makes people able to put themselves in other people's places. It makes them kind and sympathetic and understanding. It ought to be cultivated in children. But the John Grier Home instantly stamped out the slightest flicker that appeared. Duty was the one quality that was encouraged. I don’t think children ought to know the meaning of the word; it’s odious, detestable. They ought to do everything from love.
She seemed to be channeling Anne Shirley there, don't you think?
It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones -- I've discovered the true secret of happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now. not to be for ever regretting the past, or anticipating the future; but to get the most that you can out of this very instant.
I especially loved it when she waxed poetic about books and writing -- it was almost like I'm a girl after her own heart. :)
I look forward all day to evening, and then I put an 'engaged' on the door and get into my nice red bath robe and furry slippers and pile all cushions behind me on the couch, and light the brass student lamp at my elbow and read and read and read one book isn't enough.
There is even a little bit of romance in the book that was cute. And of course, Judy excels in writing about them, too:
...and I miss him, and miss him, and miss him. The whole world seems empty and aching. I hate the moonlight because it's beautiful and he isn't here to see it with me.
Unfortunately, I wasn't really surprised when the mysterious Daddy Long Legs was finally revealed, and that is probably because of all the reviews I've read. Don't worry, if you've read this far in my review, I've taken care not to spoil anything (at least, I don't think I've written anything obvious :P). The revelation was cute since it was still written in Judy's point of view, and I think it ties up the book quite nicely.
So if the all the random babble I wrote above hasn't convinced you enough, let me say it again: Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster is a cute and charming book. I'm very glad I chose this book to read during my post-NaNo recovery time. :)...more
It's hard to turn your back on a book when people everywhere seem to be raving about it. I've been hearing lots of reallOriginal post at One More Page
It's hard to turn your back on a book when people everywhere seem to be raving about it. I've been hearing lots of really good stuff about Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor from practically all the blogs I've been following, so I put the book on my radar with full intention of just borrowing and not buying. But the lure of books is stronger when more people rave about it, so when I saw a lone hardcover copy in Fully Booked, I knew I had to leave the store with it. And start it immediately as soon as I finished my last read.
Karou is an eccentric girl by normal people's standards, but in a city like Prague, they don't really mind. Her art student friends dismiss her blue hair, her random disappearances to run errands and her knowledge of many language to see her sketchbooks and stories of monsters that are supposedly real. No one knows who Karou really is, even herself. All she knows is that her only family are the chimaera who lives in Brimstone's shop, who collect teeth in exchange for wishes. Karou cannot escape the emptiness she feels, until she meets Akiva, a stranger with fire-colored eyes, who almost just about killed her...until he didn't. What follows is a gradual unveiling of Karou's hidden past, one that that bears repercussions and choices that could result to her losing everything she has ever known.
I've read lots of praises for Laini Taylor's writing, and I saw just what they meant in this book. What beautiful writing. I remember reading the first page of the book the day I bought it and not wanting to stop (but I had to, because if I don't, I would never have finished Breathe). I lost count at how many times I wanted to dive into her prose and wish to write the way she does -- lyrical and flowery but never veering towards purple. Very vivid, too, because I never had a hard time imagining the things she was describing. Passages like this broke a bit of my heart:
With the infinite patience of one who has learned to live broken, he awaited her return.
But there were also parts like these that made me chuckle:
“Hey! My body may be small, but my soul is large. It’s why I wear platforms. So I can reach the top of my soul.”
“I don't know many rules to live by,' he'd said. 'But here's one. It's simple. Don't put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles--drug or tattoo--and...no inessential penises either.'
'Inessential penises?' Karou had repeated, delighted with the phrase in spite of her grief. 'Is there any such thing as an essential one?'
'When an essential one comes along, you'll know,' he'd replied.”
And there were some that just made me sigh:
Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort. It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star.
It was because of this writing that I forgave and even liked the paranormal romance aspect. I'm not a fan of anything insta-love, so I was kind of wary, but the writing! It's just too beautiful for me to pass up. It's not that the romance was the typical ones that have been ravaging the bookstore shelves lately -- in fact, it actually has a very good story to it. It may be a bit dramatic for some, but it's still a very good read, and it's not the I-would-die-without-you-my-life-is-incomplete-without-you romance.
And again, the writing. I mean, more, read this:
...and for that moment, her hand in his, Karou felt as powerless as starlight tugged toward the sun in the huge, strange warp of space.
I can't remember the last time I read the word "starlight" used as a figure of speech without making it sound cheesy. Can you?
One of the other things I really, really liked about this book was the setting. Days after I was back from my Europe trip, I was talking to one of my friends who was still there and she was up to ears with excitement about their trip to Prague. I have heard of Prague before, but just like Geneva, it wasn't really up high in my bucket list. Their pictures, however, made me want to bump it up my bucket list -- what a beautiful place it seemed to be! Reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone made me want to go there even more. The other places that Karou visited were also described vividly (I felt a little thrill when she started talking about the metro in Paris), but I think Prague was the perfect stage for the first part of the story (the second part was in an entirely another world, described just as vividly as the one in the real world). As it was described:
The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century—or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Mozart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet.
Match that description with these photos like these and who would not want to go to Prague? (Photos from my friend, Ate Sheh, taken last September :) )
Yep. I'm making sure to go to Prague next time I get to go to Europe.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is a must-read book for this year, whether you like paranormal romance or not. :) I'd read every book Laini Taylor writes if only to soak in her gorgeous, gorgeous writing. Sigh. ...more
The good thing about having book-lovers as friends here in the Philippines is despite the lack of availability, when somOriginal post at One More Page
The good thing about having book-lovers as friends here in the Philippines is despite the lack of availability, when someone manages to acquire it, it's easier to borrow instead of finding a way to buy it. That's what my book friends and I are doing now, especially for hard to find/buy books such as Aussie YA books. :) Thanks so much to Chachic for letting her copy of Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (and her other Aussie YA books) go around.
In Graffiti Moon we meet Lucy, who's about to graduate high school. We find her rushing after she receives a message from her instructor, rushing to meet Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose paintings have touched Lucy's heart and made her feel an instant connection. Then her paths cross with Ed, the last person she wants to see because of their unfortunate shared past -- but he knows Shadow. And he can bring her to him. What follows is a long night full of heart-to-heart conversations, graffiti art viewing and a possible breaking-in and stealing. Lucy realizes that Ed isn't so bad and their shared past may just be a misunderstanding...but if she finds out who Ed really is, will she still think the same?
People often compare Graffiti Moon with Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and it is an accurate comparison. What music is to Nick and Norah is art in this novel. I am not an artist, so it was kind of hard for me to imagine how Shadow's graffiti pieces look (seriously, I can only imagine them as crudely drawn images because they're from spray paint cans, but I'm pretty sure they all look better than what I can imagine). However, I liked that this book was relatable enough even without much art knowledge. I like it when a story makes use of a magical night for two people -- magical in the sense that they end up spending it together and realize that their preconceived notions about each other were all wrong, or at least, inaccurate. I liked that there was a lot of conversations done in this book that made the characters get to know each other, and it wasn't just love/crush at first sight and then followed by intimacy the next second.
Personally, I didn't like Lucy at first. I found her fascination of Shadow and her belief that she will fall in love with this person because of his art kind of annoying and unrealistic. Color me jaded, I guess. Or maybe just...eh, unromantic? Maybe it's the teenage idealism of love that got to me. I ended up liking her after some time, though, especially after she had more conversations with Ed. Even if it was all in the span of a night, it was still filled with conversations and shared adventures, and not just eye-contact and an "amazing" kiss that would make them declare their love for each other "forever and ever".
But as much as I liked Ed and Lucy in this book, my real favorites are Leo and Jazz, Ed's and Lucy's best friends. I guess it shows how much I am more of a sucker for words than for art, seeing that Leo is a poet. My favorite piece from all of his works in the book:
Your jokes kind of make me laugh And your hair is faintly close to being cute Your smile isn't half bad, either You know, I almost, almost kind of like you
The dress you're wearing is short and sweet And your boots are kind of cool You're not, not turning me on You know I almost, almost kind of like you
The way you dance definitely isn't stupid I could maybe get used to the way you move I'm not saying I've made up my mind But you know, I almost, almost kind of like you (p 164-165)
I swear, Leo and Jazz are practically begging for a spin-off. Can I request for one, please?
Graffiti Moon will be released in the US by February 2012, but an e-galley of the book is available in NetGalley, so if you can't wait, sign up and get it! I still like the Australian cover of the book, though. And speaking of covers, look what I spotted in Madrid while I was bookstore hopping:
It took me a while to translate the book title, and if I hadn't seen the insides with Lucy/Ed/Poet headings, I wouldn't have recognized it. :)
Graffiti Moon is charming. It's one of those books that would leave the reader smiling, not because of a neatly-wrapped ending, but because of an ending full of possibilities. And possibilities are always good, right? :) ...more
I've only heard about Lourd De Veyra through friends, because most of my friends are big fans of him. I've seen him everOriginal post at One More Page
I've only heard about Lourd De Veyra through friends, because most of my friends are big fans of him. I've seen him every now and then on his TV5 segment, Word of the Lourd, and I have read some of his articles in his Spot.ph blog. But I was never really one who followed his stuff regularly. I wasn't really 100% excited to attend his book launch when I was invited, except that I can't really say no to a free, local book. Unfortunately, the launch happened on the night that tropical storm Falcon made an ocean of Manila.
I was glad when the publisher still sent me a book for review because despite my being a not-so-much-of-a-fan, I was curious about the book. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how nice the book looked. Okay, it wasn't just nice, it was quite beautiful for a local publication. My fellow bloggers and I often complain about the print quality of the local books here, but The Best of This is a Crazy Planets is far superior than the others. The paper quality is nice, the cover design is pretty and illustrations/artwork were there for every article. I am delighted to see that it was affordable for its quality, too - P195 (less than 4 USD) is a pretty good price to pay for a book that looks this pretty.
That price is even more justified once you read what's inside. Like I said, I've only read a few of Lourd's articles online, so I was pretty new to his writing. Lourd De Veyra offers a funny, oftentimes sarcastic but very real commentaries on Philippine current events, people, culture and even showbiz. I found myself giggling and having to hold it back whenever I'm reading this in a public place. Some of them, I can't really relate to, some of them, I agree with, some of them, I just find really, really funny. Underneath its wit and sarcasm, Lourd's articles show a lot of truth in the current state of our country. It's not always pretty, and sometimes I feel bad when I realize that it is the ugly truth about the Philippines. But even so, Lourd never ever showed a hint of not liking his home country despite this truth (at least, that's the impression on me). It's like he writes it all out, shrugs and then says, "This is a crazy planet." Or planets.
Why buy this book when you can read it online? Well, if you're not enticed by the beautiful quality of this book and its relatively cheap price, think of it this way: you can read his articles even without Internet, even if you're in the remotest areas in this crazy planet we live in. And I think that's pretty much worth it, right?
The Best of This is a Crazy Planets is now available for Php195 in local bookstores nationwide....more
I can't remember the last time I willingly read a paranormal romance novel. I really can't anymore. I am not denying thaOriginal post at One More Page
I can't remember the last time I willingly read a paranormal romance novel. I really can't anymore. I am not denying that I used to like the genre, but after finding out that there seemed to be nothing new there, I just wandered off to other genres. So when rave reviews of Unearthly by Cynthia Hand popped up among book bloggers, I didn't pay attention. To me, it's just another angel novel that I will probably wonder why I even bothered after I finish.
And then even people who I know don't really read much paranormal started giving it glowing reviews. This got my attention. I only pay attention to some people when it comes to paranormal romances, so when they give a good review on a book that I normally wouldn't read and I know they normally wouldn't read either, I know I'd have to keep an eye on it. After reading one contemporary novel after the other last month, I gave myself a break from real life stuff and finally picked up Unearthly, wondering if I will like it as much as the others did.
Clara Gardner has angel blood -- she's 3/4 human, 1/4 angel, but that 1/4 makes all the difference in her world. She's different, and she has a purpose in this world. This purpose makes her and her family move to a new town after a series of visions. There she meets Christian Prescott, the boy in her visions that she somehow has to save. Clara and Christian had an instant connection and Clara wonders if it's not just her angel side that's attracted. But there's a catch: Christian has a girlfriend. And there's another catch: Clara also seems to be attracted to her best friend's twin, Tucker. Torn between her angel side and her human side, Clara has to make a choice between what she wants and her destiny as an angel.
It sounds like your everyday paranormal romance novel, right? I thought so too. But friends, believe me when I tell you this: it is so much more. I was very surprised with how good Unearthly is. Normally, I hate instant connections, I dislike love triangles, and I don't like supernatural creatures falling in love with humans, but this one is different. Clara is a believable heroine despite her powers. She's angel, all right, but even if she's angelic, she's also very human. I liked that there was a balance between her human and angel side and she's *gasp!* not a Mary Sue! She's awkward, she gets shy, she rebels from her mom and even if she's an angel, she has no idea what to do with her life. She's a refreshing heroine from all that I can remember of the paranormal romance genre, and I liked it.
The boys? Well, there's really no question who I'm rooting for, right? :) I found Christian a little too perfect, but it was actually in all good reason once you get to the end. Tucker, oh Tucker. I loved him. :) I loved how his character developed, I loved how he got into Clara's life. I liked that he wasn't perfect, and I liked that he's just...well, human. The description in the blurb says he appeals to Clara's non-angelic side, and it's easy to think that he's, well, evil, but he's not. The more accurate description should be, he appeals to Clara's human side, and that made him very adorable for me. The romance in Unearthly is *another gasp!* quite healthy, too. Lots of banter, conversations and time spent together -- none of those "I saw him and fell in love" thing. Yes, even the instant connection with Christian was toned down with conversations and whatnot. And it was definitely refreshing.
The angel mythology was probably my favorite of all in this book -- very well done, not too religious and not blasphemous, too. I liked how it seemed respectful of how angels are known, and it seemed very well-researched. I loved the idea of Glory, or the wing color, and how angels were given a purpose. This played very well within the story, and it also opened up a very, very surprising twist in the end that really shocked me. And that ending? OMG THAT ENDING! It's not really a big cliffhanger but it would definitely leave you wanting for more. More, I tell you. WANT! But the next book, Hallowed, isn't coming out until 2012. Long wait is long! :(
So, if it isn't obvious, I really liked Unearthly. Definitely one of those books that I am glad I picked up, and one of those books that I am considering getting in print form since my copy is an e-galley (it helps that the cover is very pretty, too) just so I can go back to it again when the next book is out. If you're planning to pick up a paranormal romance novel soon, or if you want something to surprise you, then definitely get this book. Take it from someone who's given up on paranormal romance -- this is one of the good ones. ;)...more
What do you get when you cross the niece of the head of the Japanese mafia with a Southern belle in need of protection aOriginal post at One More Page
What do you get when you cross the niece of the head of the Japanese mafia with a Southern belle in need of protection and a straight-edge lawyer who hates the said mafia? Tessa Lancaster is the niece of Teruo Ota, the head of the San Francisco yakuza. Left by her dad when she was young and living with a difficult relationship with her mom and sister, she becomes some sort of mercenary to her uncle's mafia, working as an enforcer for her mafia cousins. She was doing fine just like that until she decided to take the fall for her cousin Fred's careless murder of his girlfriend, landing her in prison. Seven years later, Tessa is out, and she's turning over a new leaf, after meeting Christ in prison. But her reputation precedes her that everyone's still afraid of her, making it hard for her to live a normal life. Until she meets Elizabeth St. Amant with her three-year-old son on the run from her husband who's trying to kill her. Elizabeth hires Tessa to be her bodyguard, which would be a fine job if not for Elizabeth's lawyer, Charles Britton. Unbeknownst to Tessa, Charles was the reason why Tessa served extra years in prison, and Charles does not trust her...but he can't deny the attraction that he feels for her. Throw in Tessa's Uncle wanting her to work for him again, her mom, her sister and her new found faith, and...well, God only knows what could happen.
I'm not just saying this because Camy is one of my favorite authors, but really, Protection for Hire was such a fun book. This book is reminiscent of her Sushi series with all the wackiness and hijinks that the characters get into. But because Tessa had such a shady past and a heavy responsibility on her shoulders, there were more risks involved for Tessa. Tessa reminds me a bit of Venus, my favorite Sushi sister, but a bit more vulnerable especially since she's been trying to live her faith. Her vulnerability is what made Tessa so endearing, and I rooted for her from the start up to the end.
The other characters surrounding Tessa were a hoot, too. Camy's characters are one of my favorite things to read in her novels. They always feel so real, and I felt like I could easily be friends with them. In Protection for Hire, I loved Charles' family, especially his mom and his brother! Such a darling family, and I don't care if Charles' mom cooks all the random food. Plus, she was a breath of fresh air from Tessa's annoying (yet, well meaning...most of the time, anyway) mother. As always, there's the heroine's crazy family, which seemed to be a staple in Camy's stories. I thought Tessa's immediate family would be similar to the Sushi sisters' clans, but I was glad that it turned out to be different, and dare I say, more entertaining to read. The Japanese mafia aspect was very interesting too. It was the first time I've read about the yakuza, and while it wasn't really discussed in detail here, I liked the overall mafia/The Godfather-like feel that the story had.
Now, I wouldn't have liked this so much if the plot wasn't as good as the characters. There's lots of action, funny moments and yes, romance, in Protection for Hire, enough to keep me glued to the pages. There were moments of shock, too -- the good kind, the one that made me sigh and smile with delight when it happened. :) There was enough suspense in the story to have me guessing about what exactly were they up against. It almost came to a point where I was a bit overwhelmed with all the plot twists but in the end, I think it still paid off well. The wrap up at the end felt just a teensy bit rushed for me, but I guess it was still in character given Tessa's family.
Protection for Hire is a fun, action-packed and romantic book that will definitely satisfy those who crave for that kind of stuff. If you're wary of the faith aspect of the novel (being that it is a Christian novel), don't worry -- it's never preachy or in-your-face. If you've ever been one who has tried to move on and make up from past mistakes and yet still find yourself under a microscope and slapped with your mistakes on the face over and over again, then you will be able to relate to Tessa. Throw in the a cast of hilarious, gripping plot and good writing, and...well, you have yourself a really awesome book. :)...more
One of my favorite things to hear back during those high school graduation programs is the class prophecy. I think I heaOriginal post at One More Page
One of my favorite things to hear back during those high school graduation programs is the class prophecy. I think I heard my first class prophecy back in elementary, when our teacher read a prophecy of one batch for us. Then sometime during sophomore year in high school, I wrote an incomplete class prophecy on a whim, set about ten years later, one where I apparently lost contact with most of my high school friends and even crashed into my best friend's car. And finally, during senior year, I was assigned to write our batch's prophecy, which was kind of boring now that I remember it. Boring compared to the sort of morbid prophecy that the higher batch had before us, anyway.
But again, I love those things because it has that infinite feel to it. I can write practically anything about what our fortunes will be (and because it's going to be read to everyone, I have to make sure all of us were successful, sort of). It had all those possibilities for all of us, giving all of us in the batch hope that we could all fulfill that prophecy that I had penned.
That's what The Piper's Son read like for me -- a class prophecy. It's been five years since Saving Francesca, and the little group that I have grown to love in that book has changed. Will is now an engineer in Singapore, and having a long-distance relationship with Frankie. Frankie's parents are in Italy and she now works in a local pub with Justine. Siobhan is in England, Tara is in Timor, Jimmy is somewhere out there. And Tom. Tom Mackee is lost. Ever since his uncle died in a terrorist attack in London, Tom's life had fallen apart. When he finally hit rock bottom, he finds himself living with his pregnant aunt Georgie, who's also deep in her own grief. Tom is going to have to start picking his life back up again, but will the people he's left behind be there to help him?
What can I say about The Piper's Son that the other readers haven't said yet? Once again, Marchetta shines in this book. This is one of the best spin-off novels I've read ever. Like I said, it reads like a class prophecy, so I was thrilled to read about what happened to my favorite group of fictional friends five years down the road. It wasn't the same as my "we're all so successful" prophecies though, because Tom is broken. And it's with Tom that makes this book so heartbreakingly good. There were so many layers to him and his relationship with his family and friends. I think it was Aaron who once said that he had more personality than Will had in Saving Francesca, and it's true. I liked that this book gave us a way to know him more than the smart-aleck seemingly bad guy character he had before.
To be honest, I had no idea where this book was going and a part of me keeps on wondering where. But I think the beauty of contemporary novels, especially that of Marchetta, is she makes even the most ordinary seem extraordinary. Tom's days in the pub, his encoding work, his family, most especially his emails to his sister and Tara made this book so much more emotional than I expected. His aunt Georgie's point of view also gave us a different perspective. It wasn't opposing, but just different, and it gave a certain depth in the story that made us understand just how much they all lost when Joe Finch Mackee died in that explosion. Oh, but it's not completely sad, though -- there's still humor, especially when the Tom and his friends banter, and even with their grudge on Tom's abandonment, it's clear that they all still care for one another. My favorite moments include the one with Lord of the Rings, Tom playing with Callum, the one with "I think we're getting our Tom back", and Tom telling Frankie to stop listening to the news. Oh, and of course, the reunion scene -- I've been an inexplicable fool / A thousand times, yes. :)
I had to marinate on this book for a while before I decided on its final rating. It's not exactly an easy read, especially with all the issues it tackled. Somehow, this made Saving Francesca seem like a sunshine-y happy book, even if it also tackled pretty serious issues. I guess it's because Tom was dealing with harder ones, and being a guy, he handles it differently. But after a few days of thinking about it, I finally got to the point where the beauty of this novel has finally settled deep into my bones, and I am just in awe of how Marchetta can keep me thinking about her story and her characters long after I've finished reading. If that isn't a sign of a great book, then I don't know what is.
The Piper's Son is not an easy book to read, but it's one of those books that you'd want to read. Because a story such as this deserves to be read. It just wraps itself around your heart like that. If you're off to read contemporary YA books, do yourself a favor and put Melina Marchetta high on your list. I promise you won't regret it. ...more
I was planning to put off reading Jasper Fforde's latest Thursday Next book until I found the time to reread the first fOriginal post at One More Page
I was planning to put off reading Jasper Fforde's latest Thursday Next book until I found the time to reread the first five books. It's been years since I last read any of them, so I thought I'd appreciate reading this latest one better if I read the first ones again. Never mind that there are five of them and it would take significant time off my real TBR. But then I got sick a few weeks before I had to fly to Europe, which got me worried about all kinds of things especially because of that trip to Europe. I needed a book to get my mind off the possibilities that my 48-hour on/off fever could mean, so I finally decided to unearth TN #6 out of the TBR pile. If there was an ultimate escape novel, I figured Thursday Next should be one.
Some spoilers for the first five books -- be warned!
So the last time Thursday Next was in the Book World, she ended up looking for a replacement for her character in her series because the original fictional Thursday Next was too violent to be her. One of Our Thursdays is Missing is told from this new fictional Thursday's point of view -- a gentler, bohemian character who never tries to make waves even if it means being the boring Thursday Next that no one likes. But when she gets called by the Jurisfiction to investigate a crashed TransGenre Taxi. Fictional Thursday Next finds herself in the middle of a mystery that gets her involved in all sorts of fictional drama, and a robot butler to boot. With the real Thursday Next missing, it's up to fictional Thursday Next to save the day.
I think it was Aaron who mentioned the perfect word to describe the Thursday Next series: it's so meta. The first five Thursday Next books are pretty much meta-fiction - fiction about fiction. It's what makes all the books so much fun to read especially for book-lovers, because we're basically reading about books that we may or may not have read. And just as when you think that Jasper Fforde has no way to impress longtime fans of the series, he does something completely surprising and makes it work. If the first five books were meta-fiction, the sixth book is meta-Thursday Next. Meta-meta-fiction - that's what this is. Kind of hard to wrap my mind around it, but it still works. One of Our Thursdays is Missing has all elements of a Fforde novel: seemingly random characters, odd accidents, mystery, murder, all wrapped in a fun, seemingly absurd package. Jasper Fforde is a genius, I tell you. :)
This book cheered me up so much while I was sick, especially after reading lines like these:
The Snooze button was reserved only for dire emergencies. Once utilised, a reverse throughput capacitor on the ImaginoTransference engines would cause the reader instantaneous yawning, drowsiness and then sleep...To discourage misuse, every time the button was pressed one or more kittens were put to death somewhere in the Book World. (p. 26-27)
I fell asleep several times while I was reading this. I wonder who was hitting the Snooze button.
Harry Potter was seriously pissed off that he'd have to spend the rest of his life looking like Daniel Radcliffe. (p. 75)
"The Great Gatsby drives taxis in his spare time?"
"No, his younger and less handsome or less intelligent brother -- the Mediocre Gatsby." (p. 273)
I was a bit afraid that it would be hard to get back into the series again especially since it's been so long since I read the first five books, but given that this book is narrated by the fictional Thursday Next, I didn't have such a hard time. I don't recommend starting the series with this book, though, but there is no need to reread the other books to make sense of this one.
One of Our Thursdays is Missing probably isn't as witty as the first four books (best one for me is still Something Rotten), but it's a good and fun addition to an already awesome series. :) The question is: will there be a next Thursday Next book? I sure hope so! :)...more
If you know me really well or if you've been reading my blog for a while now, you'd know that I tend to gravitate towardOriginal post at One More Page
If you know me really well or if you've been reading my blog for a while now, you'd know that I tend to gravitate towards contemporary fiction books. It's not that I don't like speculative fiction (I do, very much), but I just prefer reading about real life and the real world because it feels easier to understand than a world full of impossibilities.
However, I make an exception for some authors, and Jasper Fforde is one of them. Before I even got to know John Green, Jasper Fforde is the first author that can do no wrong in my book. I fell in love with his world in 2006 when I read Something Rotten (yes, I read the fourth Thursday Next book first. Gasp!) even if it's the most outrageous world I have ever read. I searched for all his books after that and declared him my favorite, making me read more because of all his literary references. He's one of those authors whose books I know I can get lost in easily whenever I need something to escape without the additional mental strain of having to figure out their world every now and then.
So it's really no question that when he released his first YA book, I would be there to get it and gobble it up. You think?
The Last Dragonslayer stars Jennifer Strange, a fifteen (almost sixteen) orphan who manages the Kazam!, a magical agency that provides jobs for magicians and sorcerers. Magic has been on a steady decline for years now, and there were less and less jobs for them. Still Jennifer tries to make do, and for someone who's mature for her age, she does it very well. Up until she hears a premonition about the last dragon dying. Dragons are fierce creatures that are said to eat humans and destroy homes but was contained by the Dragonpact years ago by the Mighty Shandar. Jennifer had no big concerns about the dragon dying until the wizards under her care started experiencing surges in power, but it became more of a problem when the premonition says that the dragon will die in the hands of a dragon slayer, and Jennifer is involved. What's a foundling like Jennifer to do now?
This book had everything I loved about Jasper Fforde. The best thing about his novels is how real they are even in their impossibility. Fforde writes in such a deadpan manner that you just can't help but believe what he writes no matter how outrageous they all seem to be. It takes a while to fully get into the world, but once you've accepted the world his characters move in, you're in for a very, very fun ride. Fforde knows his worlds, and it's amazing because The Last Dragonslayer's world is different from his other works -- is there no end to this guy's imagination?
In addition to the solid world building, the characters are also very real and wacky, with very fun names to boot! Jennifer Strange is a lovely narrator, akin to Thursday Next but with less of the adult jadedness. The villains were annoying all the way to the end, but that doesn't mean they were less hilarious. :P Even the dragon (of course the dragon talks in Fforde's world!) stands on his own, and if there was anything I would wish for this novel, it was more of the dragon.
If you've been a longtime fan of Jasper Fforde, you will not be disappointed by his YA venture, and I bet like me, you'd be clamoring for more! If you're new to Jasper Fforde and his adult novels intimidate you (which you really shouldn't be because they're awesome), The Last Dragonslayer is a good book to get your feet wet. :)
Oh, and one more wish, if I may. I want my own Quarkbeast. :P One of Jennifer's loyal sidekicks, a Quarkbeast is described as:
Often described as one tenth Labrador, six tents velociraptor and three tenths kitchen food blender, the Quarkbeast's razor sharp fangs and hideously frightening demeanour mask a quieter side that rarely, if ever, eats cats.
I don't know why, but whenever the Quarkbeast is mentioned in the novel, I remember Hyperbole and a Half's ALOT.
Does anyone else get the same impression?
More fun information on all things Strange in Jasper Fforde's website. :) I'm not sure if this is a standalone novel or if it would become a series, but I definitely wouldn't mind if this becomes a series. More YA, Fforde! :)
A few weeks ago, I found myself stuck at home without Internet, so I tuned in to the TV. I caught this show, If You ReallyOriginal post One More Page
A few weeks ago, I found myself stuck at home without Internet, so I tuned in to the TV. I caught this show, If You Really Knew Me, and ended up crying in the middle of watching the episode. I had a pretty happy high school life, so I was a bit distant with the situations of the kids there, but it did not stop me from shedding some tears for the kids featured in the show.
When I read Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers later, I can't help but think that the students from Hallowell High could use a Challenge Day for themselves, especially after how the popular group dealt with our heroine Regina. Regina Afton used to be a part of the Fearsome Fivesome, until she got frozen out after rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend spread around. What follows is a series of serious bullying, as her ex best friends are out of revenge -- the bloodier, the better. Regina finds herself trying to make amends with loner Michael Hayden, a boy he used to bully. She comes into terms with just how bad she really was, and wonders what makes her different from the girls who are making her life a living hell.
When I finished reading Some Girls Are, I was exhausted. I knew this book is about bullying, but I didn't expect it to be almost bloody. The Fivesome turned Foursome was more than mean -- they're evil. I don't understand how some people can deliberately hurt other people and influence others to do the same, too. Maybe it's because I can't relate that kind of high school life, but...who would want to? The thought of being in that same school is scary, and I don't blame Michael wanting to be alone after everything that happened to him.
This isn't an easy novel to read. It was hard and bloody and sometimes scary -- at one point, I wanted to beg it to stop. I wanted to whisk Regina away to another school and forget what happened to her. I also wanted to bonk Regina in the head for her to do something reasonable, like oh, tell someone? Some Girls Are is very hard to put down. I just have to know what happens next, even if it meant reading how Regina's ex-friends would do something that would hurt her again. This reminds me of those TV shows I watch where I utterly hate the villains. Hate. When someone or some people are as evil as the ones in this book, it's hard to find the good in them, and it's easier to just hate them.
The ending is a tiny bit anticlimactic for my taste, but after all the things that happened in the book, I guess that's a relief. I just wanted it to end, and while I'm not entirely convinced that the bullying has ended there, I think it's the right end for Regina. Don't get me wrong, though -- this novel is very good. I can't say how real it was, but it sounded like it is, and I commend Courtney Summers for this.
I've heard so many good things about Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, but it took me a while before I acquired itOriginal 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. :)...more
This particular cover for Melina Marchetta's Saving Francesca is a lie. I expected a quirky, funny and light novel, buOriginal post at One More Page
This particular cover for Melina Marchetta's Saving Francesca is a lie. I expected a quirky, funny and light novel, but it didn't give me that. I thought it would be just funny, friends, and I honestly thought I would only be in for a quick and light in-between read, but it wasn't that.
Saving Francesca was funny. Quirky. It was light in some ways, and being less than 250 pages, it was a very quick read indeed. I thought it would be just that. Look at the cover and tell me, wouldn't you expect the same thing? I think I must clarify, though -- it wasn't just what I was expecting if I were to judge it by its cover. It was more. Friends, I was expecting to only like this book. I wasn't expecting to love it.
Francesca's mom, Mia, is a hands-on mom who wants nothing but the best for her daughter. Francesca is used to waking up to her mom giving her pep talks for conquering her day especially after she's moved to the recently co-ed St. Sebastian's. However, one day, Mia just simply doesn't get out of bed. Francesca's days are suddenly plunged into a surprising silence from her Mom and everything she knows suddenly doesn't make sense. Not only is her family falling apart, but she had no friends in St. Sebastian's, and it doesn't help that she's having weird feelings for popular guy William Thrombal. Francesca needs saving -- stat.
I've been meaning to read a Marchetta book for the longest time, as everyone I know who's read them keeps on singing praises to her books. As a fan of contemporary YA, not reading Marchetta's books seem like a crime, so I finally gave in and cracked this book last week. And I was really, really glad I did. :)
Marchetta certainly knows how to make it all realistic. Francesca is such a strong character that even in her weak moments, she shows a unique strength that makes you root for her all the way. My heart broke for her when she finds herself lost, and I rejoiced when I see her slowly rising up. She's one of those heroines that will remain with you and wish to be there for when she needed someone the most.
But then again, as the story goes, you'd realize that maybe Francesca had all that she needs after all. The best part of this book (and I hear most of Marchetta's books) are the relationships. I loved Francesca's family and her friends. None of them were perfect, but it was the kind of relationship that you'd want to have in your life. Her family reminded me of mine -- the father's quiet strength, the mother's louder personality and a close relationship with the brother. I especially loved the Francesca's relationship with her dad -- flawed and very realistic, and it was one of the things that made me shed a tear or two. :)
I especially loved her friends, and the author had their interactions done pat. I loved every bus scene where they'd argue and pretend not to be friends, I loved every time one character would invite himself over to dinner. I found it really nice when the girls would hang out and watch Pride and Prejudice and eat Oreos and Pringles. Like Aaron, I loved that scene in Francesca's bedroom after a particularly emotional moment in the book. Like everyone else, too, I wanted to be a part of that group, to ride the bus with them and see them everyday in school and joke with them and all that.
Hm, you know what? Francesca's friends remind me of my own too. We weren't exactly all friends from school or did we bond over bus rides, but I can't help but think of them as I think about the characters in the book. :) Look at us here:
It must be noted, too, that I was very thrilled when I read about the Filipino character in the book, Eva Rodriguez. And even if she wasn't really a part of the main group, I liked that she was present there every now and then. :)
Saving Francesca is a very, very good book about family, friendships and identity. I loved every bit of it -- as if it wasn't that obvious from all my gushing. :) I cannot wait to read more of Marchetta's books. This is definitely one great contemporary YA novel that I would keep on my shelf and revisit every now and then. :)...more
There are books that grab you by the collar from the very start and force you to pay attention to what you are reading.Original post at One More Page
There are books that grab you by the collar from the very start and force you to pay attention to what you are reading. These books are typically the explosive, action-packed ones, ones that plunge you right into the action, leaving you breathless from the start all the way up to the last page. However, there are books that start off quiet, with barely a bang. You're not quite sure what would happen with these books, but you allow yourself to be carried gently with the languid flow of the story. You think it wouldn't really grip you so much as those action-packed books that you can put it down every now and then, reading at your own pace.
And then it proves you wrong. Somewhere in the story, the book grabs you by the hand and pulls you in, refusing to let go unless you get to the very last page, and you're left even more breathless, wondering what just happened in the past pages and chapters.
That, my friends, is the kind of book Never Let Me Goby Kazuo Ishiguro is.
I've been seeing this book for a long time now, but I never thought of picking it up because I often confuse it with other books written by Japanese authors that I am not sure if I want to read. Even my friends reading it in my book club didn't make me read it because by then, I was more into reading YA books, and I never thought it would be something I'd like to read, anyway. When I ran across its ebook on sale on Kindle, I finally surrendered and purchased it. If my other friends liked it, I probably would, too, right?
Never Let Me Gotells the story of friends Kathy H, Tommy D and Ruth, who all met and grew up in Hailsham, a private boarding school somewhere in England. Kathy, now 31 years old, narrates her memories of her life as a child and early teen there, the next years as she, Tommy and Ruth moved to the Cottages after their time in Hailsham and finally her years as a carer where she crosses paths with Tommy and Ruth again. The book is really a collection of Kathy's memories, told almost out of chronological order but in a way of significance, all leading to the readers wondering who Kathy is, why there were in Hailsham and what they are up to in present time.
To say anything more would be a spoiler, so I will leave you at that. I was partially spoiled already as I read the book because of some reviews that I read even if it was clearly marked with a spoiler. However, that didn't lessen the enjoyment of reading this wonderful piece of work. As I mentioned above, Never Let Me Go is a book that starts off very quiet, with hardly any bang. In fact, there isn't really much excitement in the book, yet I never found it boring. Kathy's voice rang clear all throughout the book. It almost felt like I was sitting with her in a shop and she was just telling me her life story, or perhaps I was sitting at the passenger seat of her car as she regaled to me their little misadventures in Hailsham.
Even if it was told in Kathy's point of view, the other characters' voices were distinct, too. Kathy tells her stories about her friends with little bias to herself, which allows us to see and forgive them for their own faults towards the heroine. For example, every time I would feel annoyed at Ruth for being so dominating, Kathy would say something to make me understand her in a way, or would convince me that somehow Kathy was also at fault. Perhaps it was written that way because these are Kathy's recollections and at her age, she definitely knew better than she knew then. Tommy and Ruth felt as real as Kathy was, and I truly felt their importance in Kathy's life.
The strength of the characters didn't really water down the plot, so there is still much satisfaction as the secrets behind their existence and Hailsham were revealed. As these are Kathy's memories, they tend to jump from one scene to another before going back to the original intent. It may take a bit to get used to that kind of narration and it may turn some people off. However, that is almost the same way as some Sarah Dessen novels are, so I'm fairly used to that. Everything is revealed gradually and there seemed to be a quiet acceptance to everything that's happening that even I am convinced that it's really just the way it is and there is no way out.
Perhaps that is the most striking thing about Never Let Me Go. Kathy tells her story as if there was no other alternative, that it is really the only way for her and her friends. There is a quiet resignation in Kathy that she was destined to do what she was made to do, that there was no other choice but that. It makes me wonder what I would have done if I grew up in Hailsham and I knew what I know as I read this book -- would I accept my fate as Kathy did or will I rebel? Or what if I was a guardian -- how can I face those kids everyday for the first thirteen years or so of their life knowing what awaits them sometime in their life? Can my conscience take it, even if it is all in the name of science and the progress of humanity?
A movie version of this book starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Kiera Knightley came out last year (in all other parts of the world, that is. It hasn't been shown here yet). If you're planning to read this, DO NOT watch the movie trailer if you don't want to be spoiled. I haven't watched the movie yet, so I don't know the difference, but it is always wiser to read the book first before watching the movie. Even if you're not much of a reader, Never Let Me Go is too good of a book to pass up for the movie version. Make it one of the few books that you'd read in your life, if you must.
Never Let Me Go is one book that truly did not let me go (no pun intended). It reeled me in with its simplicity and refused to let me move on long after I finished with the last page. Beautiful and haunting, this is definitely one of my best reads for this year....more
I was never a big fan of historical novels because in my mind, they're equivalent to classics: slow reading and oftentimOriginal 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. :)...more
I wasn't planning to read A Monster Calls soon, because I wanted to save it for my slump days. I heard so many good thinOriginal post at One More Page
I wasn't planning to read A Monster Calls soon, because I wanted to save it for my slump days. I heard so many good things about this, but I savored the fact that it was patiently waiting for me on my shelf. But last weekend, after my friend asked if I knew if this book is locally available, I had that urge to pick it up and read it, thinking it shouldn't take me too long. And if my fellow bloggers were right and this would also make me cry, at least I can do it in the privacy of my own home, right?
It's 12:07am. Our main character, Conor, wakes up from the nightmare, the one that's been haunting him ever since his mother had a "talk" with him. He wakes up, thinking someone has called his name, but there was no one in sight, save for that yew tree by the churchyard on a hill near his house. When the yew tree turns out to be a monster, Conor finds himself unafraid, because there were far scarier monsters in his world. The monster is a wild, ancient monster who comes with four stories: three coming from him and the fourth coming from Conor, the truth that he has been hiding for so long.
A Monster Calls is simple, really. It may seem like a paranormal or fantasy book from its title and the blurb and the cover, but it's really a contemporary novel at its core. I haven't read any of Siobhan Dowd's work, and I've only read two of Patrick Ness', but I didn't really have much doubt over how good this book would be. What surprised me, though, is how this book left me biting back the sobs as I finished it during breakfast on Sunday morning. Sure, The Knife of Never Letting Go made me shed some tears, but this! A Monster Calls had me sobbing. How my chest hurt so much with emotion, and how close it hit to my heart even if I am -- thankfully -- not in Conor's position.
But I think that's the thing. Anyone can easily be Conor. Anyone can easily be in his shoes, think his thoughts and find the same nightmare he wrestles with every night. But the thing is, not everyone can have "monsters" to tell us and help us face truths. I think this is why books like these are so important: in the absence of our own yew tree monster, we get this. We may not wake up with a monster calling our name, but we can always turn to a book like this and find important lessons that would give us strength to face some of the hardest parts of life.
Fans of Patrick Ness will undoubtedly love this book. I haven't even read the entire Chaos Walking trilogy yet and I am in awe of his writing prowess. If you were turned off by the any one of his previous novels, I urge you to give him another chance and read A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness is an excellent storyteller, and if that is not enough to convince you, maybe the illustrations by Jim Kay will (and these illustrations make this book worth to own in print):
Suffice to say that this is one of my "This is why I read!" moments. Patrick Ness has successfully made a mess out of my heart once again. There's a line in the book that perfectly fits what this book is:
"Stories are wild creatures...When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?"
And what a havoc this story wreaked, my friends. Beautiful and powerful. I definitely recommend A Monster Calls. ...more
One of my best book discoveries last year was Mira Grant's Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy. I was so exciOriginal post at One More Page
One of my best book discoveries last year was Mira Grant's Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy. I was so excited about it when I heard it was about zombies AND blogging, and it was my first big Kindle purchase. It remains as one of my favorite books, one that I have given away as gifts and prizes numerous times. I was excited for the next book, Deadline, but I wasn't expecting that much, given that second books are usually so-so compared to the first books in a trilogy. I had a feeling it would be good, but I wasn't expecting it to be as good as its predecessor, you know?
Deadline starts shortly after Feed, where Shaun Mason and the rest of the staff of After the End Times are still reporting the news and making noise in the blogosphere. Shaun, however, is no longer the Irwin that he used to be -- he's tired of it, and he's just running the news organization because he had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. When a CDC researcher fakes her death and drops by their office with a lot of terrifying and confusing medical research, Shaun and the team find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy connected to the ones they encountered during the campaign. Hungry for the truth, they follow the trail, and find themselves facing an enemy bigger and scarier than the living dead that has become a constant threat in their lives.
I decided to reread Feed shortly after Deadline was delivered to my Kindle to refresh my memory of the Newsflesh world. I was a bit impatient while rereading because I kept on seeing really good reviews for the newest book, but I soldiered on, determined to have the best reading experience for the sequel. It took so much control for me not to read reviews and comments in reviews in full, too, so I won't be spoiled (and believe me, there are spoilers galore in the reviews for this book). I finished the first book, loved it just the same, and then moved on to the next book. Not even 1/4 into the book yet and I was already crying. A little over that, and my heart was breaking. And then, I just can't stop reading it. I finished the book at one in the morning last Sunday and it took all of me to stop myself from swearing. If my mom wasn't fast asleep beside me, I would have yelled many, many expletives that morning.
Mira Grant achieves a great balance between detail and action in Deadline. The previous book was admittedly wordy with all the exposition on the history of the Rising and the Kellis-Amberlee virus. Deadline may be just as wordy, but since the book is told in Shaun's point of view, we are given a bit of time to process the information in the same way as he does. There's less politics here, as it focuses on the virus itself -- lots of science, lots of medical terms, but not so much that it's too hard to follow. It's got good, solid world building, with lots of references to pre-Rising things, the things we have now. I love the references to zombie video games, most especially, and it makes the action scenes easier for me to imagine. There was a time when I was reading a zombie chase scene when something similar to a Resident Evil background music played on the TV. Talk about setting the scene. The story is tight, and it honestly had me totally creeped out as the story progressed. I had the same feeling while rereading Feed, but I dare say Deadlineamplified that feeling. By the end of the book, I was ready to hide under the covers and never go out.
While this is more of Shaun's story to tell, the girls Georgia and Buffy still play a big part in the story. The best part, I think, is how their staff gets to play bigger roles. Mira Grant created excellent characters that you'd want to be on your side when zombies walk with the living. I loved Mahir and Maggie (with her epileptic teacup bulldogs!) the most, but I also liked Dave, Becks and Alaric well enough to get attached to them even if I knew better not to get attached to any of Mira Grant's characters. Lines are blurred and gray areas abound in Deadline: the stereotypical villain in the previous book suddenly had more depth, there's no clear villain in this book, and there really is no one you could trust.
Unlike Feed, Deadline ends in a major cliffhanger, which could have also resulted in many, many expletives if I hadn't finished this book late in the night. And to prove the evil (genius) that Mira Grant really is, a preview of the third book, Blackout, is included in Deadline (A word of advice -- do not read the preview if you're not yet done with the book. YOU WILL REGRET IT IF YOU DO, TRUST ME.). While that's a teensy bit comforting, it still doesn't change the fact that it would not be out until next year. Alas, I wait in agony with the rest of the world. :o
Deadline by Mira Grant definitely exceeded all my expectations. I love it when a book does that. Even if I have to wait for a whole year for the conclusion of this wonderfully terrifying, expletive-inducing trilogy, I have a good feeling the third book will shoot straight up the ceiling with its awesomeness....more
We experienced heavy rains last weekend, which got me stuck at home with no Internet to boot. Having no Internet is notOriginal post at One More Page
We experienced heavy rains last weekend, which got me stuck at home with no Internet to boot. Having no Internet is not fun, but my annoyance was alleviated with the fact that I had good books waiting for me on my shelf. So, instead of being frustrated at our non connection, I decided to sink back on the cold, cold sheets, and plunge into the world of Ilona Andrews in the fifth installment in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Slays.
Spoiler warning: Inevitable spoilers for the first four books in the series in this review.
In Magic Slays, Kate is no longer working for the Order and she is also no longer living in her old apartment. After a particularly big fight with her seemingly immortal now dead Aunt Erra, she has not only quit the Order, but started her own independent paranormal clean-up business, Cutting Edge. But wait, there's more! She also lives in the Pack's Keep, because she's mated to the Pack's alpha, Beast Lord Curran. After all the tension in the past four books, Kate and Curran had finally admitted their feelings to one another. Even so, Kate still insists on doing things on her own, worried that her past would catch up with her and kill everyone she loves. However, business for Cutting Edge is kind of bad, until the People asks Kate for help to secure a loose vampire. Things go south quickly and soon Kate is faced with a more serious mission that could wipe away the magic community of Atlanta in a snap.
It's been almost a year since I last read Magic Bleeds, and I was kind of worried that I would be a bit lost when I started reading the newest book. I considered rereading the fourth for a while, but sheer laziness told me I can just try to Google if I can't remember. (Then I remembered I had no Internet after that, haha) But I was glad that it didn't take me long to sink back into Kate's world. The magical Atlanta is still as vivid as ever, and I felt like I never left at all. The characters were quite easy to remember, too, and I was very glad to see so many familiar faces again -- Dr. Doolittle, Julie, Aunt B, Derek, Andrea and Grendel the attack poodle! I loved how every character had their role, and they all fit neatly into the world that the authors built.
I also really liked how the authors really do their mythology research in every book in this series. I was one of those people who concentrated on Greek and Roman mythology when I was younger, so discovering other myths is always a treat. I liked the Russian element in this story, and it's worth to mention that despite the gloom and doom prediction of the story, they always manage to insert crazy funny things, such as the volhvs and the witches. That truly cracked me up. More magical communities were brought in the story, too, and it made for an awesome (albeit short) showdown at the end. See, this is how you bring in the troops to fight a common enemy -- you build it up really good and end with with an actual fight, not just a conversation and the main character casting an unbreakable shield around everyone (yes, Breaking Dawn, I'm looking at you).
Kate and Curran's relationship were also nicely done here, and I really like how the authors treat it. It's never going to be always rainbows and butterflies for both of them, but their relationship is very fun to read because it's grounded. It's healthy, despite it being a bit violent, and it never really takes center stage so much that it becomes the main point of the story. It's just there, and it's a part of Kate and it gives so much to her character development.
The book's conclusion is also nicely done, and I am truly, truly excited for the next book. Kate's past life is slowly unraveling, and I can't help but wonder what she will do next in order to fulfill the "mission" she has grown up believing in. Magic Slays is a solid installment in this already awesome series. I never expected anything less, really, and I bet it can only go better from here. :)...more
I only really read The Monstrumologist last month because I got into this agreement with Aaron and Tricia that I will read the second book with them. What is it with me scaring myself silly all of a sudden, yes? I don't know, either. If it were up to me, I would probably wait another year to read the next book in this series to give me (more than) enough recovery time. But because I can be such a pushover sometimes, I gave in and read The Curse of the Wendigo soon after I finished the first book, even if my nerves were still slightly wracked from all the Halloween scare and I was busy with NaNoWriMo.
So, The Curse of the Wendigo is the second book in The Monstrumologist series, and it features the older Will Henry's journals, specifically folios 4-6. Here we find another adventure of Will Henry with his mentor, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop. Warthrop receives a letter that his mentor is about to make a statement in the next gathering of all monstrumologists that they were to include "supernatural" creatures in the roster of monsters that they know -- creatures such as vampires, werewolves and the like. Warthrop adamantly believes that they do not exist, and was enraged to hear about this. As he was preparing for his rebuttal, a beautiful lady comes knocking at their door -- it was Muriel Chanler, Warthrop's old friend and ex-fiance. She asks for Warthrop's help: her husband and his old friend John Chanler had gone hunting for the mythical Wendigo and had gone missing. Despite Warthrop's misgivings about his old friend's hunt for this creature, he goes out to bring him back, even if only to give him a proper burial if he is really dead. Will Henry, the ever loyal apprentice, tags along, and finds himself in another sort of horrific world that tests his loyalty and his beliefs in things such as love, hate and friendship.
I will come out and say it right now: if I really liked The Monstrumologist, I think I lovedThe Curse of the Wendigo more. The second book in the series gives us a bigger view the world that Will Henry lived in. The first book was really more on what monstrumology is, and how Will Henry has come to lived in such a world. It focuses more on how humans aren't really at the top of the food chain and we can just be hunted as any other animal out there. There was a certain distance with the horror that the first book can give: at the end of the book, it never became really personal for Will Henry, much less for the doctor. It was, for them, another day's work. There were casualties, but it was still work.
The Curse of the Wendigo makes things more personal, especially for the doctor. Rick Yancey excels in making Pellinore Warthrop's character shine in this book. The first book tells us about his chosen profession, the second book told us all about his life: how he wanted to be a poet (!!!), how he was almost married, how he had a friend, how he lost both the love of his life and his friend when he made a choice. I always thought Warthrop was this old man who was passionate about the odd things, but in the second book, I saw him as an entirely different person. First impressions show Warthrop as a cold and scientific man, but here we see him as a real person capable of caring, loving and loyal even up to the end, to the point of dismissing everything that everyone is telling him.
The horror level in this book is also almost entirely different from its predecessor. I felt that the anthropophagi in the first book were considered as animals, but here, the wendigo is really more of a psycho killer that was out for revenge. The crime scenes were more a notch more brutal, almost downright disgusting. If I did not know that the book was set in the 1880's, I would have thought it fit a modern murder mystery story. Not that it's a bad thing -- it made getting immersed in the story easier for me (although perhaps it was just because of all the CSI episodes I watched). Yancey writes the entire story of hunting the wendigo (and also, not hunting the wendigo) with excellent pacing that it came to a point that I cannot put the book down.
But the best part of this book for me really is how much we see of Warthrop here. I have to go back to that because that's really the strength of this book. I don't think this would count as a fictional crush, but it's really more of the admiration of how strong and weak and broken a character can be. I also really liked that we see everything through Will Henry's eyes, and through all that, we see that the doctor is not the cold and purely scientific man from the first impression. The tender moment at the end of the sixth folio was enough to induce tears, and I would have shed them if I did not finish the book while I was commuting. When I finished the book, I had zero doubt that Pellinore Warthrop thought of Will Henry like a son, and it kind of hurts to wonder what will happen to them by the twelfth folio.
I thought The Curse of the Wendigo is even better than The Monstrumologist, and it is one of the best books I've read in 2011. Once again I am very glad I allowed myself to be "bullied" into reading this. I promise, though, that I don't have to be bullied to read the third book. Once the paperback is released (because all my series books must match), I will definitely read it without waiting for someone to push me into starting it. ;) ...more
When I first heard about David Levithan's latest book, The Lover's Dictionary, I wanted to read it only because of theOriginal post at One More Page
When I first heard about David Levithan's latest book, The Lover's Dictionary, I wanted to read it only because of the clever idea behind the book. I love anything that involves wordplay. I loved the idea that this book is told using dictionary words, and for some reason, this gives me the feeling that this book has a universal feel to it, like anyone could relate to an entry here at one point. I ordered a copy off Book Depository a few weeks ago after I realized that it's cheaper there, and when it finally arrived, I actually dropped the books I was reading to devour this one.
The Lover's Dictionary is quite easy to devour given its short, dictionary-like format. This book, as mentioned in the blurb, tells the story of an unnamed couple, written using different words from a dictionary. The narrator, who is a guy based on the entries, is a writer while the girl seemed like a wild, whimsical character who seems to have enchanted our narrator. But as their relationship goes on, it gets harder for the both of them, and we readers are left wondering if the they decide to stay together or part.
The entries weren't written in chronological order so the timeline tends to jump from one anecdote to another, while others just seem like a sharing, or a comment on how the relationship is or how each has changed because of the relationship. It's equal parts sad and happy, a lot mushy and it tends to leave the readers pondering on what makes a relationship tick. There's something about finding common ground, which I really liked:
I noticed on your profile that you said you said you loved Charlotte's Web. So it was something we talked about on that first date, about how much the world radiant sealed it for ach of us, and how the most heartbreaking moment isn't when Charlotte dies, but when it looks like all of her children will leave Wilbur, too.
In the long view, did it matter that we shared this? Did it matter that we both drank coffee at night and both happened to go to Barcelona the summer after our senior year? In the long view, was it such a revelation that we were both ticklish and that we both liked dogs more than cats? Really, weren't these facts just placeholders until the long view could truly assert itself?
We were paining by numbers, starting with the greens. Because that happened to be our favorite color. And this, we figured, had to mean something.
Or this, about being intimidated by one another:
Really, we should use this more as a verb. You daunted me, and I daunted you. Or would it be that I was daunted by you and you were daunted by me? That sounds better. it daunted me that you were so beautiful, that you were so ate ease in social situations, as if every room was heliotropic, with you at the center. And I guess it daunted you that I had so many more friends than you, that I could put words together like this, on paper, and could sometimes conjure a certain sense out of things.
The key is to never recognize these imbalances. To not let the dauntingness daunt us.
I'm pretty sure the story the authors intended for the characters here is not the same for everyone, but I think everyone who's ever loved will find that they are able to relate to one or two or more entries in The Lover's Dictionary. This makes the book very rereadable, especially in random -- just pick it up, open to a page and read. This book also makes me wonder: if I were to make a dictionary of my own love life, what words would I use?
But alas, my own love life is still nonexistent. That fact made me a bit distant to the novel, because I can't relate. Not yet, anyway. However, The Lover's Dictionary affirms things that I know, based from stories, reading and yes, even experiences (the proper place to elaborate on this is on my personal blog :P): relationships are messy, it takes a lot of work and it would hurt both parties a lot...but allow me to believe that even so, relationships can be beautiful at the same time. :)
Whether you're a romantic or not, I recommend The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan. I'm sure you'll find a bit of yourself in one of the entries in this dictionary....more
I did say that when I finished The Queen of Attolia, I cannot not pick up the next book, right? And that is very true -- soon as I finished that book, I immediately picked up The King of Attolia to know what happens next. Because really, after you're done with Queen, how could you not want to know?
Seriously, don't say I didn't warn you if you read on and haven't read the first two books.
So there is a new king in Attolia after years of not having one. But the Attolians aren't rejoicing because they do not believe in the king. The scheming people who want to remove the queen think it's easy to get rid of the king, too, while the loyal ones to the queen believe that the king is a fool. Reminiscent of school bullying, the Attolian court make life for the new king hard with various pranks and mockeries. But those pranks are nothing compared to an assassination attempt at the king. In the middle of all of this is Costis, a simple guard who did the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time. This makes him an unwilling companion to the king, and privy to his personal moments with the queen. His contempt for the king soon fades away, when he realizes what we readers have known or a long time: that the king, Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, is smarter and more cunning than everyone in the Attolian court combined. That, and he loves the Queen of Attolia and she loves him back.
Again, I must say: Megan Whalen Turner is a genius. Or a GENius, because Eugenides is a genius. After reading the first two books in the series, I already know what Eugenides is capable of, so it felt like I was in on a big secret as I read the book. I felt sorry for Costis, but I was amazed at how the events unfolded. MWT is amazing with hiding things from the reader, and making us wonder about the schemes and secrets of her characters. We know that Eugenides is smart, but why does it feel like he's being beaten? What is the queen doing? Where is Eddis?
But as good as she is with hiding things from the reader, she's also extremely skilled in revealing it bit by bit, and convincing readers of how it was all planned all along when we get to the end. It makes for a very, very satisfying read, and it made me fall in love with the series and the characters as I go on.
The best part of this book, IMHO, was the romance. The romance took me by surprise in The Queen of Attolia, and a part of me had a hard time believing it. In The King of Attolia, this romance was proven. I don't think I fully understood how it came to be, but in the end, I was definitely convinced that these two people really love each other. (view spoiler)[My favorite scene (may be slight spoilery):
After one moment of gripped immobility, the queen bent to kiss the king lightly on one closed eyelid, then on the other. She said, "I love your eyes." She kissed him on either cheek, near the small lobe of his ear. "I love your ears, and I love" -- she paused as she kissed him gently on the lips --"every single one of your ridiculous lies." (p. 218)
I think this is my favorite of all the books so far. The King of Attolia had me snickering, sighing, giggling and sighing again with satisfaction when I was done. I think this may be my favorite book in the series. I can't wait to get my hands on A Conspiracy of Kings. :)
Oh, and you know what? I think this book will also make for very good rereading. I look forward to that, too. :)
"Am I king?"["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
If I Stay was one of the books I really loved last year, and news of the sequel made me squee enough to guarantee a posOriginal post One More Page
If I Stay was one of the books I really loved last year, and news of the sequel made me squee enough to guarantee a post. :) It was a very, very long wait, though, before I could get my grubby hands on them. When reviews of the book start popping up every now and then as it nears the release date, I was even more intrigued. I wanted it, but because of my Lenten book buying fast, I had to wait a bit more.
I remember reading If I Stay in a day -- it was that hard to put down. I remember shedding a few tears over some parts, and that feeling of relief and happiness when the book finished on a positive note. Where She Went brings us three years after Mia's accident, in Adam's point of view. Adam is alone, lonely and jaded amidst all the fame that he and his band, Shooting Star, is getting. Something is missing, and when he almost breaks down on one interview before he goes to London for a sixty-day tour, he finds what it is, or rather, who is missing: Mia.
But the problem is, Mia is unreachable. She just graduated from Julliard and is about to start touring herself. Adam finds himself in one of her shows, and to his utter surprise, she invites him for a walk, after three years of zero contact. Elated, confused and still angry, Adam joins Mia as he finds out what happened, or did not happen between the two of them.
I will agree with everyone: this book is packed with emotion. It may not be as morbid or as tragic as If I Stay, but it's sad in a way that you just want to hug Adam and try to make him feel better. It's kind of sad when you see a guy feel so down and out, and hopeless. Girls are often more emotional, so seeing a guy so broken? It's just hard not to feel sad for him too. And we know that his reasons for being broken is valid...but the thing we want to know is, what exactly happened?
This book kind of reminds me of 500 Days of Summer, where I felt more sympathy with the guy rather than the girl. But Mia isn't Summer because I also understand why she wanted what she wanted. What she did wasn't very nice, but still, she needed it. And sometimes, when we think we do some things so we won't hurt other people, we still end up hurting them more. And that's what happened to Adam.
I liked how the story unfolded in Where She Went, and how it all ties up neatly with If I Stay.The ending scene felt a teensy bit cheesy, but still perfect for Adam and Mia's characters. This book left me with a very satisfied, albeit slightly wrenched, heart. :) It's a very good sequel. :)
Oh, and a funny note. I was reading this book while watching a Blessed John Paul 2 documentary. I can't help but shed tears every time I watch a JP2 documentary (you should see me during his beatification! Crying rivers for no reason!), and this book played on those emotions and made me cry more. I was a sight. :P I will have to try and reread this (and If I Stay) next time without other things that could make me cry to see if it still has that effect. :P
Edited to add: After some thinking, I realized something else. The story arc for these two books could be used as a Filipino movie, the ones I love to watch. No wonder it resonated with me so much. :P...more
I'm a little bit OC when it comes to my reviewing order, and it's not often that I skip over some books I need to reviewOriginal post at One More Page
I'm a little bit OC when it comes to my reviewing order, and it's not often that I skip over some books I need to review first to write one for another. Usually doing that means one of the following: I am in a hurry to post a review for the book for a deadline (doesn't usually happen), or I love the book so much that I just have to write a review about it immediately.
Such is Jellicoe Road, my second Melina Marchetta book. Ever since I finished and enjoyed Saving Francesca, I've been itching to read another Marchetta book to experience the goodness of her writing and the realness of her characters. But alas, I know I must pace myself because Jellicoe was the only other book I had of hers -- I still had to buy The Piper's Son and Looking for Alibrandi after Holy Week. After finishing two books from my Required Reading for April, I decided to reward myself with her book.
And man, was it such a good idea. I gobbled up Jellicoe Road so fast that I surprised myself. Jellicoe Road is the story of Taylor Markham, whose mom left her when she was 11, picked up shortly by Hannah. At fourteen, she ran away from her boarding school to look for her mom only to be found and brought back by a stranger. Now, she's almost eighteen, and she is the leader of their school's underground community that is neck deep in a territory war with the kids from Jellicoe town called Townies and a group of kids undergoing military training aptly named Cadets. Then Hannah disappears and it throws Taylor's life out of the loop. If it wasn't enough, the leader of the Cadets turn out to be Jonah Griggs, a guy from Taylor's past that she's trying hard to forget. Taylor's life unravels as she tries to cope with Hannah's disappearance, piecing together clues Hannah left and things her memory is trying to hide from her.
One word: wow. I was warned that this book would be an emotional ride, but I wasn't expecting that. It's really hard to describe the book without putting a spoiler, and the last thing you want to be with this book is to be spoiled. I've been warned that the first 100 pages or so of this book would be confusing, and indeed it was. For some people, this might be enough for them to stop reading and never revisit the book again, but trust me when I say this: don't. Keep on reading, and somewhere a few pages later, you'll find that this book had you in its grip and will refuse to let you go up until the last page.
Just like in Saving Francesca, Marchetta definitely had her way with the characters and how they interact here. I thought the book would just be about the territory wars, which kind of turns me off, but the author made that as interesting as figuring out Taylor's past. I loved the relationships that the characters formed in this book -- they all had history with each other, and even if I have equally awesome friends, this book made me crave the same history that Taylor wanted: "These people have history and I crave history. I crave someone knowing me so well that they can tell what I'm thinking." I loved how they all just formed this friendship without too much effort, and how some characters who come off as annoying at first become even a little bit endearing in the end.
But that plot -- oh that plot. When I got to my first "aha!" moment in the book, I just couldn't stop reading. I wanted to know what happens next and I want it now. At the same time, I also didn't want it to end. I just want to live in Jellicoe Road, if that was possible. I loved how everything tied up together at the end, and how the story kept on surprising me everyday. Even when I thought I had it all figured out, I was still surprised at the end, and I don't think I've ever read a book that did just that. When I was done with the book, I had an extreme desire to reread it all over again, if only to figure out what part I missed now that I knew how everything fits.
While I was going through the first part of the book, I wasn't really sure if I would like it as much as my other bookish friends did. When I closed the last page, I was sure that I had just as much love for this book as they do. Like what I tweeted, reading this book was like breaking my heart and then putting it back together again. It was that awesome. Jellicoe Road reminded me of why I love contemporary YA, and it definitely made me a fan of Melina Marchetta. :)
Read it, read it. Take your time with the start and be amazed at how Marchetta weaves a story so beautiful that it keeps a hold on you long after you have closed the book. ♥...more
The main reason I bought The Monstrumologist last year was because of the cover. I thought it had a very good and creepyOriginal post at One More Page
The main reason I bought The Monstrumologist last year was because of the cover. I thought it had a very good and creepy design, and the title's font made it seem like someone was whispering it to you -- "The Monstrumologist". I didn't really know what it was about, but I relied on the Printz medallion on the cover and believed it was good. Every time I see this on my shelf I felt like someone was whispering to me, but I never got around to reading it for so many reasons. When Aaron read it and said it was "...the type of book that should come with a warning: Caution: Not for the faint heart or weak stomach – that sort of thing", I put it down further my TBR, thinking I'll read it when I'm ready because I am so not the one who goes for gore. But alas, I'm pretty easy to bully when it comes to reading, so when my October Required Reading came around, I had no choice but to put this on my reading list.
You'd think The Monstrumologist is a pretty easy-peasy not-so-scary YA novel about monsters. You'd think. Twelve-year-old Will Henry is left orphaned after his parents died in a fire, and he was taken in by his dad's employer, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop. Warthrop is not an ordinary doctor -- he is a monstrumologist. Warthrop is self-absorbed, often buried in his work and has young Will Henry at his beck and call. One night, a grave digger arrives at their doorstep bringing the most curious package: the cold remains of a young girl that is being devoured by a very terrifying and a very dead monster. It was an Anthropophagus: a monster shaped like a human but with no head, mouth on its stomach and black eyes on its shoulders. Anthropophagi feed on human flesh, but that is not the most curious thing that got the doctor wondering. Anthropophagi are native in Africa, so finding one in New Jerusalem was the singular curiosity -- never mind that finding scary man-eating monsters was already the strangest thing for young Will Henry. Now it is up to the doctor and Will Henry (and some "friends" -- and I use the term loosely) to figure out how these man-eating monsters got there, and to stop them before they go on an eating spree.
Aaron's review got me preparing for the worst for this book. Seeing that I'm such a big chicken, I was all set to read this in broad daylight. As luck would had it, I ended up reading this while I was on the Alabat Island trip with my Goodreads friends. Not that it's bad, but because the part of Quezon province we visited wasn't an urban area. While it wasn't completely rural, it was still a quiet place with lots of trees, especially when we were on our way to and back from the beach. And it was dark, very dark at night. Somewhere during those trips there, I realize that it may be a bit of a bad decision to read this book while I was there. The Monstrumologist isn't scary in the way ghost books are scary. It doesn't really give that spine tingling feeling, or the type that makes me want to sleep with the lights on. Instead, The Monstrumologist gave me that creepy look-over-your-shoulder feeling after. While it did not make my spine tingle like how Paranormal Activity 3 did after I watched it, it did make me look over my shoulder a few times. I knew in my heart that this is all fiction, but a little voice at the back of my head was asking, "What if it is real?"
The Monstrumologist is a very vivid and well-written gothic horror novel and I have never been more captivated by a book like this. It was creepy scary all right, but it was so good that I could not stop reading it even if it was in a dark and moving jeep (while everyone was telling scary stories). Despite my misgivings and initial hesitation, I actually ended up loving this book. To say it was well-written is an understatement. It was extremely well written. The story was basically being told in from the point of view of the older Will Henry recalling memories of those scary nights, there was excellent foreshadowing and it made me fear for what could happen to the story. I remember having to stop a couple of times to take a breather or to shudder and squirm at how gory some parts were. But it wasn't just pointless gore -- the story was quite engaging as well. The characters were very fleshed out, and I especially loved the relationship between Will Henry and the doctor. It was strained, but also I think they were just having a hard time showing how important they were to one another. I especially liked the last scene in the book, and if you've read it, I think you will also find it a bit heartwarming.
I think The Monstrumologist would fare very well not just a book but also as a movie. I could clearly imagine the final chase scenes of the book as a motion picture. Like I said, I'm not a fan of anything horror, but The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey may just have made my best of 2011 list. :) And it's so good that I am actually reading the next book in the series (but this is because I got semi-bullied into reading it :P).
One final anecdote: soon after I finished reading this book, the electricity at home went out. I found myself straining to hear the hiss of the Anthropophagus in the silence and total darkness of the night. If that is not an effect of a great novel, than I do not know what is. If you haven't read The Monstrumologist, well, snap to!...more
I have had Tosca's book on my TBR shelf since 2009, and I meant to read it soon after I finished reading her other novelOriginal post at One More Page
I have had Tosca's book on my TBR shelf since 2009, and I meant to read it soon after I finished reading her other novel, Demon: A Memoir. Somehow, this book got pushed farther and farther down Mt. TBR until I almost forgot about having it. It wasn't until I was thinking of a good book to start 2011 with that I remembered having this one, so I dug it up from my books, and cracked the book open again come 1st of January.
Around October last year, some of my Goodreads friends started a year-long reading challenge to read the Bible in its entirety. I have tried reading the Bible from cover to cover back in college but I failed miserably when I got to Chronicles. When I heard of the challenge in the group, the challenge addict in me jumped in, choosing to read The Message translation of the Bible for easier reading. The thing with reading the Bible is it's so easy to be disenchanted with the stories there, especially if you've heard the stories in it over and over, particularly in Genesis. What else there is to read about Adam and Eve anyway? They were created, they lived in God's presence, then Eve got tempted and got Adam in with her. They were banished from the garden, they had kids, and then the world started with them. Not that interesting, right?
They say familiarity breeds contempt, and I guess that has happened to me in the case of Genesis. Tosca Lee breathes life into the story of creation, particularly with the first woman ever created in Havah.
I have seen paradise and ruin. I have known bliss and terror.
I have walked with God.
And I know that God made the hart the most fragile and resilient of organs, that a lifetime of joy and pain might be encased in one moral chamber.
So it starts. I fell in love with Tosca Lee's writing with Demon, and I knew Havah is going to be just as beautifully written as the former, if not more. This retelling of Eve from the moment of her creation to their fall to their exile and her mortal life was told in Eve's point of view, making the novel feel more personal compared to Demon.
I am not an expert in theology so I can't say how accurate this was or if Tosca missed addressing something in this novel. However, I can say that reading Havah became more than just leisurely reading but almost a personal journey. Eve, christened as Havah by the adam because she "...will live, and all who live will come from [her], and [she] will give birth to hope." (p. 102), spoke to my heart as she told her story. I guess it's because she's a woman, and I sympathized with her struggles and her woes. How I could I not? In a sense, I was also Havah -- I sinned against God so many times that I know I am so far away from Him, but I crave for His presence just as Havah sought Him, too. It was that brokenness that got to me the most. I do not blame her for her act of disobedience and in the fall, because as she said quite eloquently, "If not for our transgression, we would not know redemption."(p. 349) In a sense, Havah really embodied how it is to be a human in this broken world: a constant struggle to find God in our surroundings, in the people and in life, pressing on even if sometimes He seems empty and silent.
Since this was told in her point of view, this will seem like a female-biased novel, but I think (and hope!) that guys will still be able to find themselves in this novel, too. It's hard to describe this novel in its entirety because there is so much beauty and pain and love in this book.
It took me a while to finish reading this, but I know I made the right choice in starting 2011 with this novel. This is still fiction, of course, and this does not replace the parts written in Genesis, but it definitely helped me understand that part of the Bible more. I had no doubt that this would be a good book after enjoying Tosca's first novel, but Havah just totally blew my mind and heart away. And if you decide to pick this one up, I hope it does the same for you too. :)
How mighty, how great the One must be, I thought, to send the heavens careening, and yet hear the cry of a single heart. (p. 28)
You can watch the book trailer here or hear what the author has to say about her second novel here. ...more