You know how I said that I probably would not drop by Komikon if the Trese 5 release wasn't announced? I take it back --...moreOriginal post at One More Page
You know how I said that I probably would not drop by Komikon if the Trese 5 release wasn't announced? I take it back -- I realize that I would have probably gone there anyway, just to support Paolo's newest release, Mythspace. It's not that I did not know about his newest project. I heard of it, but I was too busy in the past weeks before Komikon to check the Mythspace Monday posts he had up on his blog leading to the release. In a way that is a blessing in disguise, because now that I've read the sampler they released last Komikon, I'm catching up on the posts which I hope will tide me over until Mythspace fully launches.
What is Mythspace, anyway? Pao talks about it in detail in this post, but if you want the quick, one-line summary: Mythspace is what happens when Philippine folklore meets science fiction, specifically aliens. This new series plays on the idea that the creatures we know from folk tales and movies not simply monsters from our grandparents' stories, but you know, creatures from outer space. Sounds crazy, yes?
But you know what? It actually works.
Mythspace #0is the preview issue for the science fiction anthology. Here we can read a bit of two stories from the anthology, as well as preview of the art from the different illustrators: Koi Carreon, Borg Sinaban, Jules Gregorio, Mico Dimagiba, Cristina Rose Chua, Paul Quiroga. I'm not a good judge of art, but I liked that each story seemed to have its own personality because of the artist. I also liked reading the previews for the two longest stories there, with Liftoff having that mystery-in-space type of story with a somewhat angst-ridden hero, and Unfurling of Wings reminding me so much of the chimaera world in Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone. There's also a bit of information on the aliens we will meet in the issues. My favorites are the Kapre and the Manananggal - somehow, these versions are less scary than what I heard from stories growing up.
Overall, I loved this preview. The booklet is short, so everything ends before you feel like you really know things, but it's a good thing because I am totally looking forward to the release of the first installment of the anthology in 2013. Now I'm pretty sure that the world will not (and cannot!) end on December 2012 -- after all, we still need to have the rest of the Mythspace anthology in our grubby little hands. :) (less)
So the news of the fifth installmentof the graphic novel Trese by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo totally took me by su...moreOriginal post at One More Page
So the news of the fifth installmentof the graphic novel Trese by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo totally took me by surprise. I wasn't supposed to pass by the Komikon on the last weekend of October because I thought I didn't have anything to go there for. And then I saw the Facebook update from the publisher and that made me adjust my weekend plans, stat.
When weird things happen in the city, the police call Alexandra Trese. However, there seemed to be someone else who's answering these calls before Trese can get to them. Someone who's faster, and who's slowly gaining popularity because of his public antics. Trese gets to the bottom of it quick, and finds that there's more to the surface with this being who's doing her job for her.
I'm making the summary vague on purpose because it's good not to be spoiled with this issue. This is a common storyline, really, where someone else tries to take the job of our hero/heroine and can often do it better than them, which makes our star a less credible hero. But more often than not, this replacement hero/heroine has bad intentions, which our hero/heroine will uncover in the end. Trese #5 followed that pattern and then veered away from it, making it more interesting than it already is.
Midnight Tribunalfollows the same format that Mass Murdersdid, with four interconnected stories instead of independent cases. I loved how old characters showed up again, like the nuno (who is now asking for Kitkat instead of Chocnut) and Maliksi, the young tikbalang bachelor who will definitely play a big part in the later issues. I love, love, love the Kambal, with their funny quips and awesome, awesome lines. They're definitely funnier now than they were before, but they were also just as kick-ass as their boss.
I loved how there was more development in Trese's story arc here, and important characters were introduced in this installment that I am definitely looking forward to reading about in the next! This is definitely one of my favorites in the series, and I am one very, very happy fan. :) I cannot wait to know what happens next!(less)
Here's my theory about love stories, or at least, anything romantic: my appreciation level in the story is directly rela...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Here's my theory about love stories, or at least, anything romantic: my appreciation level in the story is directly related to the state of my heart while I was reading it. Wow, look at that, me using that phrase state of my heart. But it's true, isn't it? It's easier to appreciate happy love stories when you're happy, and heartache stories resonate more when you more or less share the same state, or have been in that state before and you can relate.
So how exactly did I find this comic book? Well, if the state of my heart was any indication (and I am probably digging a grave for myself by writing this), I liked it. Maybe I'm just really a romantic at heart, or I'm just a generally happy person, or there's something else, but I thought this book is pretty sweet, despite it being "stories of love and heartache". I'm no expert at art, but I appreciated the comics, especially the cute stories in between each major story.
I guess this is one of those books that show different facets of love, and how things can work out or how things may not work out. It's a very quick read, and I finished it in one sitting, but I didn't feel as if I wanted more. Perhaps the reading was enough to satisfy the state of my heart then.
My favorite part in the entire anthology is the last story, Red String, about a man who has been looking for his soul mate by looking for whoever was tied to the other end of the red string on his finger. I don't know about you, but I found the last part quite...hopeful.
I'm one of those people who tries to scrapbook. I say try because as much as I try, I can't really make my scrapbook pag...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I'm one of those people who tries to scrapbook. I say try because as much as I try, I can't really make my scrapbook pages look...well, as pretty and cute as the ones that other people do. That, or maybe I just don't have that artsy vibe (and the patience) to do them. But anyway, that never really stopped me from having fun with my planners, though:
[Click to embiggen] Top row: 2006 planner - thesis defense+birthday week, Kalinga Luzon Bottom row, left: 2010, 25th birthday week Bottom row, right: 2012, February, word of the year
So it's not as pretty, but it serves well as my own memory bank. That's pretty much why I was delighted to receive The Scrapbook of Frankie Prattby Caroline Preston from one of my co-moderators in our book club on my 26th birthday (Thanks, Kuya Doni!). I had no idea what the book was about, but looking at the first few pages, I knew I was going to like this if only for the visual treat that it has. If I can't make pretty scrapbook pages, then I would live vicariously through others', even if it is from a fictional character.
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratttells of a story of Frances Pratt, who received a scrapbook and her father's old Corona typewriter as a high school graduation present. In here she documents her summer after high school where she decides to forgo a college scholarship to help her mom out, but she is smitten by an older man. Her mom finds a way to get her to college to keep her out of the influence of her unsuitable suitor, and Frankie finds her world opening up to more possibilities than she can imagine. We follow Frankie's adventures in college and in her meeting Vassar alumna Edna St. Vincent Millay, who inspires Frankie to go to New York to pursue her dreams. But when heartbreak finds her there, she sets sail to Paris to make it on her own. All Frankie wants is to find herself and the love of her life, but will she ever find it when she gets called home to be with her sick mother?
If I were to describe this book in a just one word, it's gorgeous. I loved every page of the book with all the typewritten (and some handwritten) words and the photos and the 1920's memorabilia. Some of them makes me wish they were real and I can pluck them off the page and keep them for myself! Look at some of these photos from the inside of the book (warning, slight photo dump):
Can you imagine how much effort the author went through for each and every page of this book? I'm no expert in vintage, but this book just screams it from the cover all the way to the last page, and it made me a bit more interested in the 1920's (even if I have a feeling I don't think I can carry a flapper dress, LOL).
The story feels just a little bit ordinary. I don't mean that in a bad way -- but if you've read the book's dust jacket, you pretty much know the story save for what happens in the end. It didn't have that much revelation, and it read like a coming-of-age story, but again, I didn't find ittoo shocking. But then...life doesn't have to be shocking to be extraordinary, yes?
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a relaxing book to read for all its gorgeousness, and maybe that really is the charm of the book. It may not end up as a favorite, but I will keep it on my shelf whenever I need to look at some pretty stuff, and maybe even get inspiration for the other pages of my planner when I get the mood to scrapbook again. :)(less)
I never really go to the graphic novels section of NetGalley, but anything Avatar: The Last Airbender related is an auto...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I never really go to the graphic novels section of NetGalley, but anything Avatar: The Last Airbender related is an automatic pick for me. I loved the series, so reading this was a definite treat.
The graphic novel picks up immediately where the series ended (spoiler warning if you haven't watched the entire series yet), where Aang and Zuko and the rest of the gang were working on bringing back peace in the world. One of the things they were planning to do was to return the Earth Nation land that the Fire Nation invaded back to its rightful owners, but trouble looms when resistance comes. Zuko experiences a personal crisis and asks Aang to promise something...something that Aang wasn't sure if he can really fulfill. But a promise is a promise, right?
What. Fun. I loved this graphic novel, and it brought back fond memories of the series I loved. I love that it picked up where it left off, providing excellent continuity. I love that everyone was there too, and honestly, I could imagine the graphic novel all animated and their voices still rang in my head (Dante Basco!). The funny and serious parts were pretty balanced, and the "oogie" moments were hilarious.
It's also quite apt that I read this a few weeks before I got to watch the first few episodes of Legend of Korra. If you're a fan of the series, you really shouldn't miss this. The only thing I wish is that it was longer, or, that I have part 2 with me already! And part 3! Please, NetGalley, please have it in your catalog? :)(less)
Quick note! I'm giving away a Kindle copy of this book on my blog! Just a leave a comment on this entry and I'll pick one lucky winner on November 18....moreQuick note! I'm giving away a Kindle copy of this book on my blog! Just a leave a comment on this entry and I'll pick one lucky winner on November 18. :)
I'm really all for supporting local authors and content, so when Honey told me that they will be releasing Paolo Chikiamco and Hannah Buena's High Society under their publishing company, I bought it without blinking. Local content for the win, plus I really enjoyed Kataastaasan, so I was excited to read more about this alternate steampunk world.
Thing is, High Society is really the same as the Kataastaasan I read a year back...but also a little bit different. High Society is a stand-alone comic set in Cebu City circa 1770, and tells an alternate history of the Philippines’ struggle for independence from Spain. Here we meet someone called "The Carpenter" telling our main character Rita about the location of a treasure that they need to recover. Rita goes undercover in a party with the Spanish colonizers to retrieve the treasure. Now you'd think Rita is just your normal undercover agent and all, but then she's also not. I won't reveal what the twist is, but I remember I was pleasantly surprised when I found out about it on my first read. Even if I knew about it then, I really liked how it was illustrated and revealed this time, and I think it's the part of the story that hooks the reader the most.
I think the improvement on this one compared to the ARC I read was how Rita was given a more human aspect. There's a hint of romance in the story that made me smile, and it made me want to know more. This version also had a little more background on how Rita came to be as well as why their mission was important. I'm not a big judge on artwork, but I liked how it had that dark and authentic Philippines in Spanish era vibe.
So yeah, I liked this one on the second round as much as I liked it during the first. Too bad it's a stand alone, but I kind of have high hopes with what they mean with the "Wooden War" series. More please? High Society is a creative take in Philippine history, and anyone who's a history buff, or at least interested in alternate histories and steampunk should pick this up. (less)
When I finished reading Trese a few months back, I was very excited to read the next book. Truth be told, I thought t...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When I finished reading Trese a few months back, I was very excited to read the next book. Truth be told, I thought the fourth book was already out last year, so I added it in my Christmas wish list. Oops, my bad!
So I wasn't exactly sure when the next installment would be out, but I wasn't really in a big hurry because there were still too many books on my TBR. However, I admit to letting out a squeal of delight when I heard of the launch of the fourth book. Of course I will be there. Of course I need to get it. And of course, I need to get them signed. :)
Trese 4: Last Seen After Midnight follows the same format of the first three books: 4 short stories each showing a case. But unlike Book 3, Mass Murders (my favorite), the cases were not connected. This is not a bad thing, and I wasn't really expecting them to really continue on what was shown in the third book, although I know some people who would like that.
But then again, who cares? The fourth Trese installment is just as good as its predecessors, and possibly even better. The cases still deal with paranormal creatures from Philippine mythology and more. This time, Budjette and KaJo made use of pop culture and melded it into the cases flawlessly. Cadena de Amor got me humming Eraserheads' Ang Huling El Bimbo as it reminded me of a recent murder case that hit the TV and newspapers everywhere. The Fight of the Year is undoubtedly based on Manny Pacquiao, and I really loved the explanation they gave on why crime rate goes down and why the boxer, "Manuel" fights so hard. Oh, and how can I forget -- Alexandra Trese in a dress!
A Private Collection was written as a Trese short movie that didn't push through, so there were more action scenes involved in this case. This is probably the one where I saw Trese in her angriest, and the one I felt most nervous because I thought she was about to get beaten. I'm curious now to see how this would translate to a movie -- must be really, really cool. :)
But my favorite (and I think everyone else loved this one too) was Wanted: Bedspacer. In this story, Budjette and KaJo gives us a different version of the bangungot. Common knowledge translates bangungot to nightmare, but Philippine mythology equates this to the batibat, a fat spirit that chokes their victims as they sleep by sitting on their chests. However, in this story, the bangungot is a spirit that joins sad people in their loneliness, trying to keep their hearts from breaking by holding it, sometimes too tight that the person dies. There were no hardcore action scenes here, just some sleuthing and a sad revelation when they find out what really happened. I thought this was the one with the best plot, a great resolution, a reference to something that Trese did in book 3 and possibly even hinted a past heartache for Trese. :) This is why when they asked if Trese should get a romantic interest, I'm all yes! Not because I'm a girl, but because I think it would give Trese's character more depth. I'm not saying she has to have a boyfriend -- unrequited love has always been good writing material. :P
Mass Murders is still my favorite Trese book so far, but Last Seen After Midnight truly delivers. If you haven't read any Trese books yet, well this is the time you should, because you're missing out on a lot. Is it too early to say "I can't wait" for the next? :)(less)
I'm not well-versed with graphic novels. Truth be told, in my mind, it's graphic novel = comics. Isn't it? I'm not sure,...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I'm not well-versed with graphic novels. Truth be told, in my mind, it's graphic novel = comics. Isn't it? I'm not sure, actually, but as far as I'm concerned, they're one and the same. Correct me if I'm wrong, of course.
Anyway, in the spirit of buddy reads and exploring other genres and book format, I picked up Kingdom Come by Mark Waid, illustrated by Alex Ross, through the push of my friend, fellow book blogger and graphic novel fan, Ariel. Kingdom Come is set in the DC Universe, several years into the future. Superman has gone into hiding after he was disappointed at how a superhero was acquitted for committing the murder of a villain. The other heroes had gone into hiding, too, disheartened by Superman's and the people's actions. Without them, their moral compass has gone astray, and the metahumans have become aggressive, blurring the lines between who are the heroes and the villains. Ten years later, we meet the story's narrator, a minister named Norman McCay. He started getting dreams and visions of an apocalypse shortly after his friend Wesley Dodds (who is Sandman, according to Wikipedia), passed away. Soon, the Spectre shows up to him and recruits him as a witness to help him judge who are the good from the wicked in the impending superhuman apocalypse.
Kingdom Come reminds me a bit of the movie The Incredibles, sans the kiddie concept. This is definitely (and obviously) way darker, and discusses a lot of deeper moral themes, such as the real meaning of justice (if killing people who did wrong is justified just because they are evil and they killed other people too), humanity (are they still humans just because they're super?) and morality (is it ever justifiable to allow some people to be killed if it saves more people?). I guess I shouldn't be surprised at all, with the title and everything, right? I liked how these things were tackled in the superhero universe, making it not just your normal superhero-saves-the-day story but something that discusses the things we readers most probably ponder about everyday.
What really surprised me in reading Kingdom Come, though, was how familiar I was with this. I mean, I don't know half of the heroes mentioned here since I never opened a DC comic book in my entire life until now (my brother wouldn't let me touch his collection back when we were kids). However, I guess growing up with a brother who loves these things and watching movies and cartoons with these characters enforced familiarity. Although I had to consult Wikipedia every now and then to see who's who, I was more or less comfortable with navigating this universe on my own.
There was a lot of deep talk in this that had me rereading some parts of it again, but it was all wrapped up nicely in the end. And speaking of that ending: it was a nice, heartfelt one that had me chuckling. If you've read this, you probably know what I mean. :) I enjoyed reading this one, and it served as a good companion to those slow night shifts at work.(less)
A week after I finished reading Kingdom Come, I felt the urge to read another graphic novel because, well, I was sick,...moreOriginal post at One More Page
A week after I finished reading Kingdom Come, I felt the urge to read another graphic novel because, well, I was sick, and actual wordy novels made me dizzy and/or sleepy. So I finally decided to pick up The Filipino Heroes League Book 1: Sticks and Stones by Paolo Fabregas, which I bought after Jason's very enthusiastic recommendation.
The Filipino Heroes League, or FHL, were a group of superheroes that fight injustice and help the police apprehend criminals in the Philippines. Well, they fought, but because of bad economy and the defeat of all Filipino supervillains in the country, some of the heroes have decided to take on normal people jobs using their powers, and/or migrate to other countries in hopes of being an international superhero and making it big.
We meet two of our heroes still loyal to the FHL, Kidlat Kid and Vis, who are off to catch bank robbers. After dismissing a warning from a kid who told them his classmate will kill a public official, they race off in a pedicab to catch the criminals, only to be scolded by the police after they set the van on fire with the stolen money still inside it. Meanwhile, government people who are in favor of the president's impeachment are being killed one by one. When the remaining members of FHL are framed for these murders, they escape, only to find out that (1) there's another group of "superheroes" who are off to get them and make them look bad, and (2) there's a bigger conspiracy that ties all these events together, and tells them that what the FHL believed all this time may just not be true.
Fresh from reading Kingdom Come, FHL turned out to be a very fun read. I loved the local references, and how these heroes are just so...Filipino. The characters were fun, the dialogue was so familiar and the story was so gripping that I almost wished I bought this when the second book is out just so I would know immediately what happens next. I thought it was very well-written and easy to read, and it served as great entertainment for the few hours that I sat down reading this. :) I especially loved Kidlat Kid -- he reminded me so much of Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender! :)
I thought it felt right to juxtapose this book with Kingdom Come, because they have similar elements: a team of superheroes, some of them forgotten and set aside, all trying to make things right with the best of their abilities. Of course, Kingdom Come takes well-known characters so it obviously has more punch, but I think FHL is pretty much at par with its foreign counterparts.
If you're looking for another good, local graphic novel to get you by while waiting for, say, the next Trese book, then I recommend the first book of The Filipino Heroes League. It helps that Budjette Tan edited this book, too.
And once again: I really, really can't wait for the next book. When is it coming out?(less)
When I finished the second Trese book (Unreported Murders), I was very, very glad to have the third book on hand, because despite my being successfully creeped out, I still wanted more. The thinness of the second book guaranteed a thirst for more Trese, and I think the creators satiated that thirst with the third volume.
Instead of the usual unconnected paranormal crimes, the third book regales us with Alexandra Trese's history. We are introduced to the Trese clan, especially Alexandra's father and grandfather, how she became what she was now and the prophecy that surrounded her birth. We are also introduced to how the Kambal (the two guys in masks who act as Trese's bodyguards and helpers) came to be who they are, and what those masks represent. We get to know what makes Trese special (or not), and even what her outfit means. And, we also get to know one of Trese's greatest nemesis, one that I am pretty sure would make a come back in the future books.
I love exploring a character's history, so this third book is my favorite of all so far. I loved seeing the younger Trese, I loved reading about her family and her "weapons". I liked how this book showed a little more of who she is, and how she became a little bit cold and aloof. This book showed her with a little more emotion, although I kind of wished for a bit more I guess. Still, this book showed greater insight on this heroine that I've already started liking a lot. I am also very glad that the Kambal were given a focus here, even if I was a tiny bit confused at first because I thought the Pack was the Kambal, too. I liked their character development, how they changed and became Trese's friends, too.
I'm not much into graphic novels, as I mentioned before, but I really liked Trese. I am glad to say that Alexandra Trese has just joined the list of my favorite heroines in 2011. I now join the other fans in eager anticipation of the next volume (sometime this year, I hope). The authors posted a preview of a one of the cases here -- but I must say: more, please? :)(less)
The second Trese volume takes a turn to include some of the Filipino urban legends instead of just sticking with the usual l...moreFull post at One More Page
The second Trese volume takes a turn to include some of the Filipino urban legends instead of just sticking with the usual lower Philippine mythology. It still has the same approach as the first book, only I find the stories here closer to what I know. Growing up in the city has obviously lessened my exposure to the remote areas of my country. That's where most of the creatures are said to lurk, so I've always been more secure with the idea that there were less things that go bump in the night here. Or ...so I thought. The second book had dark parking lots, mall urban legends, and creepy villages that make living in the city a little bit more creepy than usual.
I'm not a fan of horror, so I'm easily freaked out by other things, and Trese Book 2 successfully did that for me. I liked it, I liked that it had a lot of action and interesting stories. This book had zombies in it, too. But I did have that freaked out feeling after finishing this book -- the one that made me open all the lights in the darkened areas of the house, one that made me retreat inside the house from the terrace after realizing that open air could mean aswang. LOL, how lame of me, I know. But kudos to this book for doing that to me.
On another note, though, I liked how they always tied up the paranormal creatures with values that us humans have. Things like selfishness and greed and apathy always had a bad effect on others, only amplified here because the underworld was disturbed by our own evil. I liked it how when Trese said that the underworld is just like our world, only payback is different. I think it gave this more substance, and not just fantasy for the sake of having magical creatures in and whatnot.
I'm not one to comment on the art, but I do kind of feel bad about the book's binding. The paper quality leaves a bit more to be desired, but the binding is weak. Some pages are ready to fall off after I opened them a little bit too wide. :/ Nevertheless, the second book, while short, is a good follow up.(less)
Kataastaasan by Hannah Buena and Paolo Chikiamco is not really a book but a short 22-page comic that is set in 1770 in Cebu City and tells an alternate history of the Philippines' struggle for independence from Spain. I don't want to give anything away since it's a pretty short piece, but suffice to say, I was pleasantly surprised at how the story turned out! I'm not much of a comic person and I'm fairly new to speculative fiction, so I did not know what to expect with this, but I finished this one with only one thought: that was a really cool twist.
And it really is. I thought it was a very creative use of one of the many colorful aspects of Filipino culture, with a steampunk twist. The language was easy to understand and I liked the dark vibe it had despite the innocent looking characters. I'm also not very knowledgeable in making comments on artwork, but I thought the illustrations here were very good, even if it's all in black and white. The lack of color just adds to the overall historic feel to it, IMHO.
I really, really liked this one, and it was worth the fifteen minutes I stole from work to read it. :P I'm hoping there would be more? I'm not much of a comic reader, but I'll definitely be in line for this one if there is more. :)
Kataastaasan will be published by Espresso Comics, which hopefully will be published before this year ends. Thanks to Pao for the ARC!(less)
Trese is a comic book series about Alexandra Trese, a bar owner who also works as a paranormal detective helping the Manila...moreFull post at One More Page
Trese is a comic book series about Alexandra Trese, a bar owner who also works as a paranormal detective helping the Manila police in solving the weirder crimes that happen in the metro. Each book has a series of shorter stories inside, where we see Trese find the criminal through her contacts in the paranormal world. As it's set in the Philippines, Trese's paranormal contacts are all from the Philippine mythology -- aswang, duwende, tikblang, etc.
I remember reading the first book last year and being impressed -- it was very nice to read about something I know and grew up with given a different twist. Trese was likeable despite her very cold demeanor, and she immediately joins the strong female leads that I have read about in other books. I do find her a little bit too perfect in this though -- perfect in the sense that she knows everything and she does everything right. I would've wanted her to mess up a bit, but that may be too much for me to ask in the first book.
The cases were interesting, and they tread carefully between the line of paranormal and horror (is there a line there? Not sure). I liked how it related to what I know as a Filipino, but not in the classic, dated sense. I liked that the story was set in places in Manila and how they were updated to the current times. No deep dark forests or remote provinces were the creatures normally lurk here, for sure. It's fun, and thankfully not scary enough for me to really freak out, you know?
Yeah, I know, I'm a big chicken. :P
On the international front, I think Trese would be able to hold its own with a bit of limitation. I don't think it's very hard to understand, but I think the mythology would take some time to get used to and would need more research for a non-Filipino reader to understand. It's easy for me to wrap my head around the creepiness of Balete Drive because I live here, but for someone in another country, I'm not sure if the creepiness factor would be the same. Still, I'd like to see how non-Filipino readers would view Trese.(less)