I can't remember the last time I was so excited to receive an email about a review request from the publisher until I got an email from Katz of Flipsi...moreI can't remember the last time I was so excited to receive an email about a review request from the publisher until I got an email from Katz of Flipside, about A.S. Santos' new book, Corpse in the Mirror. I really enjoyed Voices in the Theater from last year, and it was one of those books that I didn't think I would like but I ended up enjoying, so I was really looking forward to reading the next book. So imagine my joy when I received an email about this. I practically jumped in my seat (and I was having dinner with my family), and right after that, I started to reread the first book just so I can get ready for the second. (Oh, and I enjoyed reading the first book just as much as I did on the first time :D)
In the second book of the Student Paranormal Research Group (SPRG) series, Sam's powers are growing, and more than just hearing things, she starts seeing things. But that's not what really is taking a lot of her attention now, because her friend and fellow SPRG member, Richard, is being all too showy with her, almost like they're dating but they're not. When their next case brings them to Richard's apartment where weird things have been happening lately, Sam realizes just how much her powers have changed. Now someone they know is in trouble, and only she can help her.
Just like the first book in the series, Corpse in the Mirror is very readable. It's so easy to drop into Sam's world (although perhaps it's easier for me because the setting, again, was quite familiar) and be a quiet member of their group. The first few chapters of the book was equally creepy, so much that I realized I had to stop reading it when I realized I was reading it late at night, and I wanted to go to the bathroom to pee but there's a mirror, and who knows what I'll see there? :o But anyway, after the first initial creep-out part, it became more of a murder mystery with a supernatural twist, and it was quite interesting following the team in solving this mystery.
I think there's a little less of the angel aspect in this book. I mean sure, there was still a bit of it, but there were more interactions between Sam and the other characters in the group instead of Sam and the angels. I liked this, and it was interesting to see how their relationships grew here, both in the platonic and romantic sense. I think I especially liked the romance aspect in this novel -- it's not cheesy, but it's definitely a bit more complicated. But its complications felt grounded. A little spoiler: there's some sort of a love triangle, but it's not the usual triangle of the recent paranormal romance novels where one is the obvious choice. I liked how there were several voices of reason in the book when it came to the romance, and how the advice was sound and relevant. The lessons for the here were definitely something that everyone who's ever been confused with relationships and romance need to hear. (Well I know I sort of needed to read them at that time. ;) )
I also really liked how this one ended, even more so than the last one. In a way, you would need to suspend your disbelief at how things were resolved, but I thought it worked well with the story's universe. It reminded me a little bit of how the things worked in my favorite books, This Present Darkness, so I don't have much complaint over that. It's a bit of a cliffhanger, though, and now I can't help but wonder what could happen next to Sam and her group? I have a few predictions on the romantic side though, so I really, really hope it works out that way. :D
If you enjoyed Voices in the Theater, I definitely recommend that you pick this up. Corpse in the Mirror is a good blend of horror, suspense, faith and romance. I am definitely, definitely looking forward to the third book in the series. :)
When I was a kid, I loved watching those early morning educational shows on TV. I thought it was such a genius thing but I felt really bad because the...moreWhen I was a kid, I loved watching those early morning educational shows on TV. I thought it was such a genius thing but I felt really bad because they weren't available in my school. I mean, why can't we watch it at nine in the morning? They're educational! So come summer vacation, I end up watching them religiously every morning, over breakfast, before I get asked to do chores. I loved the historical shows the most, more than the science ones, because I loved how they were told and it helped me remember history a little easier than just simply reading it.
Reading Guardians of Tradition: The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayanreminded me of those days when I watched those shows. This book by Mae Astrid Tobias, illustrated by Rommel E. Joson and with photos by Renato S. Rastrollo, is a children's book about the different indigenous and folk artists of the Philippines. These are people who were awarded by the government the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan to let the country know about their art. These people are the best weavers, folk musicians, performing artists, mat weavers and metal smiths in the Philippines. The book talks about them, who they are, what they do, and it even includes some fun activities to help the readers appreciate what these people do. The book is narrated by two characters Kiko and Banog, and it is filled with colorful photos and illustrations for not just young but also the old readers.
In a nutshell, I really enjoyed this book. It's not often I read a children's book, and this one is a really pretty one. I loved the binding, and the glossy pages. I also love the illustrations and how the two main characters (or tour guides) seem so fun. They make it easier for the books to be read, and it didn't seem like a simple history/arts/culture book. I honestly haven't heard of anyone in the book, and it was fun reading about them and what they do. I figure I've probably seen some of these pieces, but I never knew the history behind it, and more importantly, the people behind them. There's also a glossary of terms at the back for review, and a map of the Philippines that points out the locations of the people featured in the book.
I could easily this book as an app, or a TV show, especially since the two characters seem to be drawn for that. I would love to have another volume for this book, because I'm pretty sure there are more than 11 of these people in the country! They truly are guardians of our tradition, and it made me proud to be born and raised in a country with such colorful culture. :)
On my way home from Singapore, I intended to make the plane ride home a chance to make progress in our book club's book of the month, Lolita. But some...moreOn my way home from Singapore, I intended to make the plane ride home a chance to make progress in our book club's book of the month, Lolita. But somewhere after I was able to open my Kindle back again, I realized that I couldn't focus on the book anymore because my mind kept wandering off. I needed something quick and light, something to keep me company for the next three hours that won't put me to sleep. So I decided to switch to the latest release from our #romanceclass, Kesh Tanglao's The Real Score.
Caitlin Tan had a very unusual friendship with Marcus Wayans -- unusual mostly because Marcus is a part of the biggest boy band Gezellig, while Caitlin is an ordinary girl working in a media company in Manila, Philippines. Caitlin wasn't even a fan of their band, until that night she met them through a meet-and-greet that she attended as a favor to a friend. She found a kindred soul in Marcus, and they became best friends, making an effort to keep their friendship alive despite the limelight that accompanied Marcus. But are they really just friends? Because no one in the world thinks so, despite their denial of anything romantic. When something comes along and threatens their friendship, followed by a no-holds-barred interview for a good cause, will the world know what is the real score between them?
I read a few parts of this novella while it was still on Wattpad before Kesh published it. Frankly, it reminded me a little bit of the band fan fiction that I used to read -- you know, how this ordinary girl meets the band she's been a fan of for ages, and then one (or two, or three) fall in love with her, and all that jazz. I wasn't sure if it was my cup of tea, really, because the type of musician/band fiction I read are the likes of Five Flavors of Dumb or Amplified. But I kept reading on, and I was pleasantly surprised.
This is an unusual friendship story, but it's not so unusual that it couldn't be real. I mean, anyone can be friends with a famous person, although perhaps not the way Caitlin met Marcus. Even so, I liked how real they were, especially the band. As I read the book, they became less of band members, and more just ordinary British boys who like to sing. I also liked how the friendship between Caitlin and Marcus progressed, and I saw immediately from when they decided to be friends that they mean it, and they will work for it. And because the friendship didn't seem forced, the romantic developments that followed seemed just as natural, like that is the most obvious thing that should happen after.
As with every music-related novel, I wished I could hear the original songs mentioned in the book, but I settled for listening to the ones on the title of the chapters. I really liked reading about the backstage things -- how the crew of a tour becomes your family, and how it can go crazy there, and how it seemed so fun. I had this little crazy dream of becoming a band's roadie, or at least, produce more concerts on my own, and it was fun to read a slice of that kind of life here.
So I take it back: The Real Score is actually far from the band fan fiction I used to read. I finished the book with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, just as the plane started to descend to Manila. For a moment there, it almost felt like I was Caitlin, making a decision with how her life would go when she got off the plane. The Real Scoreis a story of friendship and romance, and all the mess that comes when the line between those two blur. Take away the superstar status of the guy and this can be anyone's story, really. This novel hurt in just the right places, and it made me want the best for the two main characters. But more than the romance, The Real Scoreis also a story about taking risks, going out of your routine and allowing life's curve balls to surprise you, both in good and bad ways. You never know what you will find when you decide to take the risk. :)
If it were any other time, any other season, I probably wouldn't have picked this up from the Kindle store. I wouldn't have looked at this twice, beca...moreIf it were any other time, any other season, I probably wouldn't have picked this up from the Kindle store. I wouldn't have looked at this twice, because I don't think it's for me, or I would be interested. When was the last time I read a non-fiction, self-help book like this? I can't remember. But I know for sure that if it were any other time early this year, or if it were any other season in my life, I wouldn't have decided to get Bittersweetby Shauna Niequist and read it immediately after it loaded on Hannah the Kindle.
Oh, I guess it helped that the ebook was on sale when I saw it, so I bought it. But still, I wouldn't have gotten it and enjoyed it as much as I did if it were any other time of my life.
Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist is about so many things, but mostly, about how life is bittersweet. How life isn't always happy or sweet but we shouldn't let the bitterness of it get to us. There is such a thing as bittersweet, and it's the kind of life that we should appreciate, especially because all the learning and the changes and (most importantly) grace is seen in the bittersweet parts of life. This is a collection of essays and realizations about her life, and what she learned from them -- from her fights with her husband to moving to a new place, from meeting new friends, having parties and serving them food and these friends moving away. From her problems getting pregnant again to broken hearts, family members dying and babies being born. The book is an honest collection of stories that the reader will definitely relate to at some point, and drives the point that life is really bittersweet.
Like I said, if I read this at any other time, I don't think it would have made as much of a big impact as it did now. Bittersweetkept me company during the hard days, and spoke to me over and over and over again about grace and God's faithfulness. I couldn't relate to some of the stories Niequist wrote because I don't have a family, and I haven't moved away yet, but the lessons she talked about were universal, and somehow I felt like she really knew what heartache is, and she can relate to me. Her words served like a balm to my soul, and some passages made me cry several times because it felt like they were exactly what I needed to read.
In a way, it seemed like a promise, too -- that whatever you're going through, whatever your situation is, God knows it, and He will take you through it. It's not easy, but you have a choice to view your situation as bittersweet. And from her words, it seemed like she's healed and moved on from the hard parts of her life and if she can do it, then you definitely can, too. I needed that, and as I read the book more, I realize that maybe it was meant for me to see this book on Amazon, and to see it on sale so I can buy it.
Granted, some of the stories were a little repetitive, like stories at the end had some similarities to the stories at the start, but by the time I got to that, I was far too in love with what I've read for me to really nitpick about it. Despite that repetitiveness, though, the stories in Bittersweetwere honest and heartfelt and real, and it made me feel that I had a friend in Shauna Niequist, even if this is the first book of hers I've read.
I wonder now how I would've reacted to this if I read this on any other time, at any other season. I know I'm being repetitive on this review with that, but I can't help but wonder. Would I even read this at all? If I did, though, I don't think I would've loved it as much as I did now. But whatever -- I'm just really, really glad that this book got to me at the right time. If you're in a tough time, if you're experiencing bitter moments, I definitely recommend this book. Bittersweetmay not make your life better in a snap, but I hope it helps you heal, just like a good book ought to do. :)
My prayer for you is not that you live a life that's only sweet and never bitter, but that even in the bitterest of moments, you will find the comfort of Christ, deep and enduring, powerful beyond all imagination.
Repetitive at some point, but I loved every story in it. So honest and heartfelt and real. :) (less)
There are some books that I told myself I would never read. I would never put them in an actual list, really, but I know that these are the books that...moreThere are some books that I told myself I would never read. I would never put them in an actual list, really, but I know that these are the books that I would ignore in a bookstore, books that I wouldn't even think of buying. Reasons behind this may vary, but you know how we readers have preferences depending on the books we enjoy, or the time we have or the things we value, and all that.
I said that about Les Miserableslate last year. I'd never read it because it's just too thick, and I simply have no time. Then I read it and finished it in 45 days.
I said the same thing for Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. I didn't think I would read it, because frankly, I found the topic icky. I mean, a grown man supposedly "in love" with a child? I squirm at the thought -- just as how I squirmed and looked away when I watched those crime shows (based on a true story or not) that involved someone who sexually abuses a child. It's just not something I would even want to read, quite honestly.
And then, Lolita won in our book club's polls for our September discussion. I guess in a way it was my fault for suggesting banned books as a topic for September, and this one made it to the final list. Lolita was far more popular than the two other books in the list, so it was kind of a shoo-in to win. I remember thinking (and saying this to one of the discussion moderators): Perhaps it's time for me to read this. Year of the Brave, you say?
I won't talk about the plot anymore because this is a pretty popular novel, with its controversial themes and gorgeous prose, as they say. I knew I was a apprehensive when I started reading hits. No, not because I can relate to any of it (thank God I don't), but because I was wary of how it would go with me. Lolita is readable overall, because its prose isn't hard to read, nor it is boring. It's very well-written, actually, and it's commendable especially since Nabokov's first language is Russian. Humbert Humbert comes off as an unreliable narrator from the start, and Lolita is his account of what happened with her and to some events that led him to make that statement. I got confused about that, honestly -- why "statement"? I figure he did something wrong there, but what? Did he kill someone? Who? Did he kill Lolita? (No, this isn't a spoiler)
Let me go back to the prose. It was gorgeous, and surprisingly, it isn't explicit. I mean, sometimes I have to go back to some passages to understand what Nabokov was writing about and then I'll realize what happened there. Huh. And then I read on, and I go all, "Huh" again. I mean that in a good way, really.
Here's the thing: I sort of predicted from the start that I would probably not rate Lolita higher than three stars, given that this isn't really the kind of book I would read. I think even my friends expected that. But when I got to the end while I waited in line at the bank to pay some bills...I don't know, I knew I couldn't rate it that. I can't explain it in full, but there was something in that ending that just made me change my mind. Is it the writing? Probably. Is it how Nabokov somehow made Humbert Humbert seemed deserving of sympathy? Maybe. I don't know, really. It's been a little over a month since I finished this book, but I still can't answer that. All I know is I found myself thinking at the ending. It doesn't make everything that he did or whatever happened in the story less icky because it is icky, period. But somehow, there was something in the ending that made me change my mind about rating this novel.
Lolitais controversial, I have to agree. But I also agree that this is just one of those books that a reader has to read in their lifetime. I'm glad my book club made me read this.
I was exploring TV Tropes last week and I stumbled on the Animorphs pages. I got lost in it for a good hour, reading and reminiscing this first scifi...moreI was exploring TV Tropes last week and I stumbled on the Animorphs pages. I got lost in it for a good hour, reading and reminiscing this first scifi series I loved. In Marco's words, it's kind of insane how much I missed this series after that, so I dug up my copy of the first book and started reading.
I can see how my elementary school self got hooked with this series. It was fun, action-packed and the concepts were pretty original (as far as I'm concerned anyway). A part of me still want to be one of them, if only so I can also morph into a dog or a tiger. Heh. :p
The first time I went to the island of Boracay in the Philippines ended in some sort of disaster, and I haven't really "recorded over" that memory yet...moreThe first time I went to the island of Boracay in the Philippines ended in some sort of disaster, and I haven't really "recorded over" that memory yet. To the uninformed, my month-old phone took a dip in the saltwater on our last day at the beach, so the last few hours on the island was kind of stressful. Not to mention that moment where I thought I was going to drown at Ariel's Point while I was snorkeling, and that it was rainy half the time. It was a good vacation in some ways (Hello, Boracay PubCrawl!), but you know, not exactly the most relaxing one.
I haven't had the chance to go there again, but I got a taste of the island when I read Chris Mariano's Cover (Story) Girl.Chris is a fellow book blogger and a classmate in #romanceclass, so it was no question that I will buy her book the moment it was released. Cover (Story) Girlis about Gio, who works in a museum in the island of Boracay, keeping it neat and organized and ready for visitors. In the middle of preparing for an exhibit, Jang Min Hee walks into his life, and starts messing with it -- literally and figuratively. Thing is, Gio wasn't sure what's keeping her in the island and why she's sticking with him. She tells him all these stories and he goes along with her, sometimes even saving her from some trouble. Gio is mystified...but how will he know which among Min Hee's stories are the truth?
Okay here's the thing: I was just a teensy bit hesitant about this because of the Korean angle. I'm not a fan of K-pop, or K-drama or anything Korean, really, except maybe for the food. And maybe Daniel Henney. Every time some friends squee over Korean stuff, I just look blank, like how I look blank over anime. I was kind of worried that I wouldn't get or like the story, because of the Korean things...but I'm glad to say that it didn't. I liked Min Hee a lot. I liked what I learned about her from Gio's eyes, and how she seemed so flighty at first and then had more depth later on. She provided a fun contrast against Gio, who likes his routines and his organized life. Okay, maybe he can be a little boring, but it worked well for the story, and I liked how he lost this as he spent more time with Min Hee. Gio reminds me a little of Macy from Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever,all organized and perfect until people came and threw her out of the loop. Gio is the kind of good guy I like reading in fiction, and it was fun being in his mind in this story. I liked reading his POV, and I think Chris did really well with it.
The story can feel a little slow and quiet, but I think that adds to the charm. You won't really get too many exciting things at the start, except for Gio and Min Hee's banter. The quiet flow of the story fits into its setting, which was my favorite part. I really liked that this was set in Boracay. I've only been there once, but reading this made me miss it. I liked how Chris focused on the quiet part of it and not much on the partying that happens there. I was never really a party girl, so I appreciate how there was more of the lesser known side of Boracay (and Aklan) in the story than the usual. And of course, the calamansi muffins. Oh my Lord, this book will have you craving for Real Coffee's calamansi muffins, if you've had them before. If you haven't, then you might want to bake some on your own, instead. (I really should do that.) Because calamansi muffins are yummy.
I really liked Cover (Story) Girl,if it's not too obvious yet. By default this can be considered as a summer romance read because of the beach elements...but if it's rainy and cold where you are now (which is also how it is on my side of the world now), Cover (Story) Girlis also a really good rainy day companion. Come to think of it, it's a perfect companion anytime you want some swoon. :D And again, don't forget your calamansi muffins!
I spotted this book on another blog, really, and didn't really think of it until my friend posted about it on his blog. I was curious, only because of...more I spotted this book on another blog, really, and didn't really think of it until my friend posted about it on his blog. I was curious, only because of the first post I saw, and when I had a chance to borrow it from my friend, I jumped on the chance. I like short story collections, and ever since I read my first Carver, I felt like it was the kind of book I can manage back then. I wasn't in the mood for a lot of books, so maybe something like this would shock me out of the slump. Or at least, the bright yellow cover would, somehow.
No One Belongs Here More Than You is a collection of stories from Miranda July, who...I really have no idea who she is. I don't even know what the stories were about, so I really, really just took a chance on this book. This book contains stories of women, mostly, stories of ordinary things. People who do things, who are in search for things, who lost things. These are stories of the seemingly ordinary things that become extraordinary with the way the words were woven and how these simple things came about in each story.
I liked this well enough. I liked the ordinariness of it all -- the quiet and the commonplace things in the stories, and how they all translate into something that made me think and wonder if the story was real, or perhaps just the imagination of the character. I guess a little mistake I made when I first started to read this was to compare it to Carver. They're very different -- Carver's stories (from the one collection I read, anyway) left my heart in a bit of disquiet, like there are questions you want to ask but are kind of afraid of asking. July's stories, while some of them have the same effect as Carver, are different in the way she tackled things and left me thinking about how her stories just end, and there are no questions that I don't want to ask.
Here's the thing: everyone seemed to be so sad in this story. Not the heartbreaking sadness, but just a tinge of it, like these characters need a little hug or something. Sometimes, I feel like I need a hug after I read some of the stories, because I wished I could say something to the characters to ease them of things.
Did the title of the collection mean something? I guess so. It is what it is, I think: No one belongs here more than you. I may be over thinking it, but maybe these stories are really just about belonging, and how we long for that. I don't think all the characters in the stories found a place to belong, but as a reader, I hoped that they would still somehow find it, or that it would somehow found them, in their own fictional worlds.
Okay, I'm rambling. There were several stories that I wasn't fond of, but the interesting thing was the first and the last few were the ones I really liked. I started this on a high, then the excitement lulled, and just as when I was already resisting the urge to skim, I got to the last stories and found that I really, really liked them. My favorite, of all, is Birthmark,a story about a woman who had her port-wine stain removed from her face and her husband who didn't know anything about it, and how this birthmark affected them. It left me with very fond thoughts with the book after.
Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You is a good read, especially for people who are fond of short story collections. It's not exactly my favorite, but I would read another July book again, given the chance. Plus that yellow cover and simple text is just something I would want to have printed and framed to remind myself that yes, no one belongs here more than you.
There was a time in my life when I pored over fashion blogs, especially those blogs where the authors showcased the ou...moreOriginal post from One More Page
There was a time in my life when I pored over fashion blogs, especially those blogs where the authors showcased the outfits they made with half the items from thrift store shopping (aka ukay-ukay). I can count the number of times I went thrift store shopping with one hand, so I am a little envious with those people who seem to score so much good stuff in these stores while I can't seem to find any. I think this is some sort of talent, or you know, you just haveto devote more time in it so you can actually find something. Anyway, it's been a long time since I last scoured thrift shops, and reading Agay's Vintage Love kind of made me want to go do it again.
We meet Crissy Lopez in Vintage Love- a 26-year-old producer from a local network, whose life needs a serious make-over. Her usual wardrobe consists of jeans and sneakers, and her schedule gives her little free time for herself. To top it off, she's still hung up over her ex. When her stylish grandmother passes away, leaving her with all funky vintage items, Crissy decides to do something with her life. But what will she do if her past decides to catch up on her just as she is making progress? Can she make that leap to leave it all behind?
Vintage Love is as cute as its paper-doll cover. I liked Crissy from the start -- she seemed like a very smart heroine who is caught up with her career, and it's something that I think everyone her age can relate to. I liked how she was passionate for her art, but not really her job, and how she went for what she really wanted to do as the story went on. Plus, there was more to Crissy than just the romance -- the story had her really trying to improve herself, and the romance seemed to just come along as a bonus. The secondary characters in the book were also quite interesting, with the sort-of subplot for her best friend, Bea. This subplot wasn't intrusive and it fit the story well, and it makes me want to have a little spin-off for her too. Mama Maring is another secondary character I really liked, and her presence in the novel was really felt even if she wasn't really there.
The romance angle is cute and swoony and I really liked the text messages part, where lead interest, Vince, tried to cheer her up. Hee, I liked it because that thing was one of those "moves" back in college, when text quotes were still the "in" thing. Using that style in the story just fits in the whole vintage thing. The romance was pretty grounded and realistic, and it gave the characters enough space for their attraction and their relationship to develop, and even heal from whatever issues they both had. We can learn a lot with what Crissy went through, and the story's lesson on choice. My favorite quote in the book sums it up very well:
At any given moment, at any given struggle, you always had a choice. Even happiness was a choice.
Vintage Love is not just a romance story, but also a story of strength and recovery, finding yourself and going for what you love. You don't have to be a fan of vintage stuff to appreciate this novel. I think we all have a little bit of Crissy in us, and I hope that after reading this book, our inner Crissy's will find the strength to take a leap of faith, too. :)(less)
I'm a fan ofJane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, although perhaps not as much of a big fan as other friends (I'm still very partial to Persuasion, be...moreI'm a fan ofJane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, although perhaps not as much of a big fan as other friends (I'm still very partial to Persuasion, because hello, Captain Wentworth and that letter!), but I like reading books and watching adaptations of Pride & Prejudice because it's my first Austen and you don't forget your first. :) When I heard of Katrina Ramos Atienza's retelling of P&P set in the Los Banos, I knew I had to read it. Even if I'm not a huge fan of football.
Patrice Reyes is an incoming junior and she believes that it will be her best semester ever. She's sure her team will win the regional football championships, her grades look good, she has good friends at the dorm, and oh look, there's a crush. But when cold and arrogant math guy Paul becomes her partner in one of her major subjects, her days are thrown off course. How will she get rid of him to get her perfect semester back? Does she even really want to get rid of him?
I had a lot of fun with Well Played,mostly because it was so much fun matching the characters to the original. Almost everyone had a match, save for a few, which would have complicated the plot a little. I appreciate that the plot wasn't that complicated, though, because it made the story easier to read, with just enough drama to make me hang on. I liked Patrice and her wit, her loyalty to her friends and her fierceness and her passion for her sport. I wasn't always fond of her, to be honest, but she made for a great Filipino Lizzie Bennett. :) I also really liked Gia (the equivalent of Jane) and and Deenie, although I can't decide if Deenie is less or more annoying than Lydia. I really liked Migs (Bingley) too, and he seems like such a nice guy. Paul is such a true Darcy, with the angst and the grumpiness, and all the hidden layers that makes him a Darcy.
My favorite part of the book is the setting, most definitely. I loved how the setting just worked for the story. The setting was based on University of the Philippines in Los Banos, Laguna. I didn't study there, and the last time I was there was in 2003, but even if I can barely remember anything there, the setting in this book felt so real. I liked the dorm setting and how the setting seemed to be a character in itself. I liked it so much that it was so easy to imagine everything there, and I don't even have to suspend any kind of disbelief.
I think the only thing that niggled at me was how sometimes the characters didn't sound like they're Filipinos at all. They seemed just a tad too foreign when I read their dialogue, like they're all foreign exchange students. But other than that, I liked Well Playeda lot, and I think it's a pretty faithful and entertaining Filipino adaptation of P&P. Oh, and even if I still don't really understand (or even watch) football, I must mention that I liked how the sport played a role in the story, too. And that really cute ending after that football game? Oh, I definitely approve. :)
I wish I could say I'm a huge, huge Gaiman fan like my other friends are, but really, the only Gaiman book I've read...moreOriginal post from One More Page.
I wish I could say I'm a huge, huge Gaiman fan like my other friends are, but really, the only Gaiman book I've read in my life is Stardust. I read it twice and loved it, and I always associate good memories with that book. I meant to read more Gaiman, but the only other book I have at home is The Graveyard Book, which has been in two of our book club's polls but kept on losing to other books so I had no reason to pick it up anytime soon. I knew he was one of those really awesome authors (plus he has the most awesome New Year's messages), and I know I had to read more of his works but it just doesn't really come up in the priority list. So when my friends started raving about The Ocean at the End of the Lane,I was only mildly curious.
Until I saw the book, touched it and realized how pretty the physical copy was. Needless to say, after a few moments of touching the cover, I went ahead and bought the book. Yes, I am easily swayed like that.
The Ocean at the End of the Laneis a short book, about an unnamed narrator who visits his childhood home and goes to the end of the road, where he remembers his childhood friend, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. It started with a man who lived with them who committed suicide, and then all sorts of weird things happened after that, trapping him in a bizarre world that has enchanted his family. It's too much for a little boy to deal with on his own, except that he wasn't really alone because his new friend Lettie promised to protect him at all costs.
The Ocean at the End of the Laneheld me captive from the first page. It had a lovely sort of storytelling that was comforting and creepy at the same time -- you know it's not real, but there's that fear of the things that our hero is getting himself into. I liked how honest and quiet the narration is, how the hero as a boy tried to make sense of things and be brave, even if things are getting creepier and creepier. You can feel all the doubt and worry and fear in him, and I wanted so much for him to prevail, for him to find a way out of things and save his family. It felt a little bit like a fairy tale, with how everything was set up, but also not so much, because there were really some frightening instances. Not scary in the sense of ghosts, or how horror movies were scary, but more of I'm so scared for you type of terror.
I think my favorite part of the entire story is the hero's friendship with Lettie. It's easy to nitpick on the Hempstocks and their abilities, but I won't because other reviewers have done that already. I'd like to focus more on how Gaiman wrote the friendship -- it was my most favorite part of the book. I liked how Lettie stood by him and protected him up to the end. It made the ending a lot more bittersweet, and full of heart. Yes, heart. That's the right word to use -- especially with what I one of the Hempstocks said to the hero near the end of the book:
I think you're doing better than you were the last time we saw you. You're growing a new heart, for a start.
Suffice to say that after reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane,I will start working on reading more Gaiman. If all his books has the same kind of lovely storytelling, then I certainly don't want to miss out. :)(less)
I've been in a reading rut in the past month because I was too busy doing something else, and that "something else" is...moreOriginal post from One More Page
I've been in a reading rut in the past month because I was too busy doing something else, and that "something else" is writing my novella. I took my own sweet time reading our book club's book of the month because I couldn't focus on it, and I didn't have any desire to read anything else that isn't contemporary romance because it was all my mind can handle that time. When one of our classmates in #romanceclass released her book into the wild last week, I automatically bought it and loaded it into my Kindle. For one, it's contemporary romance, which is just what I need; it's Filipino; and finally, it's a classmate's work, so I should support! (Plus, look at that gorgeous cover!) I finished reading this in a day, and when I was done, I found myself thinking, "What reading rut?"
In Chrissie Peria's All's Fair in Blog and War, we meet Five Cuevas, a virtual assistant by night and travel blogger the rest of the time, reading an email from the Macau Tourism Board inviting her for an all-expense paid trip to Macau. It was something I would joyfully jump into, and Five does the same thing. It was exciting, until she meets Jesse Ruiz, the photoblogger who gets in her way and on her nerves. She's determined not to let him ruin her trip, but it's proving just a bit hard when she was partnered with him for the rest of the trip.
Okay, this is fun. So much fun. I love books with blogging, regardless of whatever kind of blogging that is. I love Five's voice, and her passion for traveling and writing about it. I love the entire set-up and how she and Jesse met, and how their relationship grew in the story. It was a short trip, but it was believable, and reading the story made me want to go to Macau, or at least, find myself some egg tarts! There were so many lines in the book that made me smile, and it's no surprise that I breezed through it because I just wanted to keep on reading to know what happens to them in the end.
Granted, the story could be longer, and there could have been more tension, but for a quick and light read, All's Fair in Blog and Warreally works. It's the kind you'd want to read on a trip, or the kind you'd recommend to a friend who's going on a trip (I did that), or the kind you'd recommend to a friend who's looking for a light read (I also did this). I was happy with the ending, and how they got to the ending, especially for a social media/blogging junkie like me. :P If you're a blogger, a traveler or a reader (or, maybe even all) who is looking for a light and sweet contemporary romance fix, then All's Fair in Blog and War is a book for you. :)(less)
My friend JL lent this book to me because he wanted me to read one story, The Art of Understatement. But when I saw th...moreOriginal post from One More Page
My friend JL lent this book to me because he wanted me to read one story, The Art of Understatement. But when I saw that this is a Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo collection, I decided to read it, anyway, since I really liked the author's other collection, Catch a Falling Star.
It's been a while since I finished reading this collection, and I am honestly struggling a little to remember what I liked about this. I liked what my friend recommended to me - The Art of Understatement left me feeling wistful, and wondering about my own writing. There were some familiar stories from Patriciang Payatot, which is the content of Catch a Falling Star. Several favorites, though, other than The Art of Understatement:The Warrior, which tells the story of two estranged friends who see each other one last time before one of them dies; The Tale of the Spinster and Peter Pan, a woman whose routine is disrupted by a young man in a rock band; The Ghost of La Casa Grande, an interesting take on a family history and how a mother tries to help her daughter get her happiness; and The Painting, a kind of story that seemed fit to be told around the campfire.
I am still quite partial towards Patriciang Payatot stories in Catch a Falling Star, but Sky Blue After the Rain is a good short story collection from Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, and is worth the read. It's the kind you'd want to go back to every now and then to get your fix of a well-written short story with lots of Filipino flavor. :)(less)
I wasn't completely sold on the author's first book, so I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read this one. Curiosity won out, though, especially with this interesting cover. In a nutshell, What's In Your Heartis about 19-year old Nat who is reeling from a break-up and had no clear direction in her life. Then three things happen: she starts an internship in a pre-school, finds a bunch of letters from the grand-aunt she was named after to her grandmother, and starts a friendship with good-boy Luis who kept on saving her, it seemed like maybe, Nat isn't that lost after all.
Honest moment: Nat drove me nuts at the first part of the book. She's so weepy and whiny and mopey that I didn't feel like I wanted to read more about her. I couldn't find anything too redeeming about her until she finally picked herself up, and I found myself slowly cheering for her. I liked the pre-school aspect, and Luis, and that tiny twist with him before things fell into place for her. The letters thing was a creative touch, except in the end, it felt a little too teleserye-like for me.
I really liked the last chapter, too. I think this is a more satisfying and well-rounded story than One Crazy Summer, and this is probably something I would like reading back in college when I was Nat's age, too. :)(less)
So at the end Queen of the Clueless by Mina V. Esguerra, I was pretty much sad for Hannah, and I was wondering what will happen next. I won't explain why I was sad, but if you've read a lot of trilogies like I do, second books usually end on a sad/cliffhanger note, so it was kind of expected. I was very, very glad to hear that Mina planned to release Hannah's third and last book, Icon of the Indecisive, early, because I need to know what will happen next!
Slight spoilers for the first two books starts here! The story opens on Valentine's Day, the day when Hannah as the Interim Goddess of Love, will become most busy. Hannah is a little bit tired of handling other people's love problems, and she wants to focus on her own this time around. But since Quin is supposed to fall in love with an extraordinary human girl, Hannah figures may it's time to give Robbie the Cute Human a chance. But Quin's acting just a little strange lately. Not to mention there's Vida, who still hasn't explained what she did to Hannah, and Diego, who asks strange things of Hannah. How will Hannah ever focus on her own life now? Spoiler warning ends here.
Let's just say this book had me...er, squeeing more than half the time. Hee. There were many, many things I wanted to ask at the end of the second book, but I'm very glad to report that this third book delivers. Questions were answered here, and loose ends were tied up nicely, with a lot more explanations to what the gods and goddesses can do. I liked that Hannah can do more goddess-y stuff here, and that we get to see her grow more here with her own decisions in life. I like that there's more Robbie the Cute Human here (because he is a cute human :D), and there's just a lot more swoon here.
As far as the ending goes...I got the ending I wanted. But it's not just that, and I liked the message about how these characters will get to that ending. I won't say anything more, but if we've talked about these books lately, then you'll know why I was very happy with how this ended. Veryhappy. <3
Okay, I was partially squeeing there, did you notice? I actually got to read the book waaay earlier than the release because Mina asked me to be a part of the Interim Goddess of Love audio commentary (with Chachic, Chris and Meann) that you can download here. Not only do you get to hear us talk, but you also get to hear some juicy trivia about the series. But listen to it after you're done with the series, because you don't really want to be spoiled. :)
If you want something cute, light with so many #feels, or if you just want an easy introduction to Filipino fiction with a bit of Filipino folklore, make sure you pick up the Interim Goddess of Love series. And lucky you who won't have to wait long to see how Hannah's story ends. :)(less)
Here's a little fact: I love snail mail. I love letters, specifically. I think it started when our third grade teacher...moreOriginal post from One More Page
Here's a little fact: I love snail mail. I love letters, specifically. I think it started when our third grade teacher taught us about letter writing, and we had to pick pen pals within the class. I loved getting letters in the mail, but since my classmates and I live close to each other, it's not really that practical to be pen pals with them. When I was in sixth grade, though, my best friend from elementary school moved to the United States. We didn't have much contact when she left, until I happened to get her mailing address from a common friend and I sent her my first snail mail letter. This had us sending letters back and forth for the next two years, until email came and we switched to that.
Reading 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is almost like a trip back to memory lane on those days when I would spend so much time writing letters to my best friend who lived in the other side of the world. This thin volume is a collection of letters from Helene Hanff, a screenwriter in New York search of second hand books to a bookstore in 84, Charing Cross Road in London. This sparked the friendship between Helene and the staff of the bookstore, one that consisted of letters, books and gifts and spanned for decades.
84, Charing Cross Road is a little gem of a book for book lovers, and it's most appropriate that the copy I read is a shared copy from our book club. We call it our own traveling book, and it's gone through several readers before it landed in my hands. It's a quick and funny read, and I finished it in a few hours -- smiling, laughing, and then sighing at the end. Helene's letters were witty and sarcastic most of the time, and Frank Doel of the book shop were always formal and proper, yet still filled with warmth. Pretty soon, the rest of the staff were writing letters to Helene, too. I find myself checking the dates in the letters every now and then, and I can't imagine the time that pass before the letters get to the recipients. My own mail takes two to three weeks before it arrives, but some of them span months in the book. I guess it meant that they were more patient back then, whereas I get so miffed sometimes when I don't get a reply to my email or my text message within the day. But true friendship transcends time and distance, right?
This book is very reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, with the letters shared between book lovers. I love that 84, Charing Cross Roadhas that same warmth I got from the other book, even if the ending was slightly different. But I liked the latter more because it's a true story. I think that's the reason why I added one more star in my rating -- there's something about knowing how all of this is real that makes it even more charming. It's too bad that the actual bookstore doesn't exist anymore, but I would love to see where the building stood and imagine what the people inside were doing, and how excited they were every time they received Helene's letters and packages. And maybe, even do what Helene asked her friend to do:
If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much.
Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll stock up on my stationery so I can go write some letters again. Anyone want one? :)(less)
I had only one Literature class for college, which made me just a little bit sad because it was one of my favorite one...moreOriginal post from One More Page
I had only one Literature class for college, which made me just a little bit sad because it was one of my favorite ones, and I could use a bit more lit reading in my academic life. Anyway, we were assigned novels to read in that class, and I was really, really hoping that our group would get Smaller and Smaller Circlesby FH Batacan because I loved the premise: a Pinoy detective novel? Serial killers? "The first of its kind" (at least, back in that time years ago)? I want it.
Anyway, our group didn't get it, and I ended up borrowing my roommate's copy, but not before I got spoiled with the ending because of the group who reported on the novel. But even so, I enjoyed reading it and was kind of glad that I had a chance to read it again for our book club's discussion last May.
Did I like it on my second read, years after I read it the first time? Yes, I still did. I am a fan of crime procedural shows, so reading something similar gives me the same thrill of watching. The book reminded me of that tiny, tiny dream of being a forensic specialist that I sometimes get, if only I don't get so queasy over blood. Smaller and Smaller Circlesis still as engaging as when I first read it, and I still felt the thrill over the chase and the satisfaction on the ending. Granted, it wasn't perfect and some of it weren't that believable, but I still enjoyed reading it the second time around.(less)
I attended the wedding of my brother's best friend last week. I like weddings. It may be something that runs in the family since my brother is a weddi...moreI attended the wedding of my brother's best friend last week. I like weddings. It may be something that runs in the family since my brother is a wedding videographer. But I really, really like attending weddings, because it's such a happy, happy day. Plus, I really like hearing wedding vows.
Anyway, my wedding weekend read was Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, which I borrowed from Angus when I got the chance to check out his bookshelf. This is my first Carver, and the first time I have heard about him also because of Angus' rave review. This is a collection of short stories about people who talk about, well, love. I figure it may be a fitting book to bring since it's a wedding and all. What do people talk about when they talk about love in weddings?
Before I go to the proper review, let me tell you what people talk about when they talk about love in a wedding. Weddings are happy, happy days, not only for the couple but also for everyone who came to celebrate with them. It's funny, though, how people often look forward to the wedding and see it as a "happily ever after", when it is really just the start of something new. The priest gave this lovely homily during my brother's best friend's wedding that had all of us laughing and me thinking really hard. He talked about good memories and bad memories, and how ten, twenty years down the road, the couple will lose a lot of things: their youth, their health, their money. And when people lose these things, when life gets difficult, sometimes it's harder to hold on and remember your commitment. And then he reminds them that they're not the boss of each other, and getting married in the church - in front of God and in front of the people - is their promise of giving up the right to give up on each other, no matter how hard life gets. Then they said their vows, and...it was so real and so beautiful.
Then, I spent time with my parents over the weekend, and I took the time to observe how they treat and interact with each other. My parents have been married for 30+ years, and sometimes I think I take that for granted. That weekend, I saw how they act around each other, and I realized how their love is that quiet, enduring love that I also want for myself. There are some things that my mom would say or do that, if I were my dad, would rub me the wrong way and I would say something back in defiance...but my dad does nothing. Instead, he smiles, and just takes it and does something. My dad would do something, or say something that, if I were my mom, would feel like it lacks emotion or affection, but I see that my mom doesn't see that. I see how they're around each other and how they support each other and how they love us so much, and my heart just swells because I see a glimpse of what the priest said, and I see what kind of love I want, and the one that I wish I would be able to give, too. Imperfect, yet strong and enduring.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love isn't too romantic -- in fact, sometimes I think it's not romantic at all. It's not like the romance books I usually read, with fluff and cheese andswoon and kilig that makes them so fun to read. No, Carver's collection of short stories about love is about love in many forms, but it dealt with love after all the kilig and swoon and cheese and fluff are gone. Most of the stories are melancholic in its nature, and for a moment, it didn't seem like the right thing to read on a wedding weekend. But it seems perfect, too, because this book somehow set my thoughts straight -- or at least, gave me a different perspective, after the reception is over and the wedding fuzzies have started to fade.
Most of the stories in this collection are stories of lonely people, or people seeing lonely people, or people talking about old experiences of loneliness that is related to love. The realness in these stories is what got to me: this is what could happen, days, months or years after the wedding day. These stories can happen, but it doesn't mean that it is the only ending. Love doesn't mean mistakes won't happen, or your loved ones will always be healthy or you will never fight. It's a little bit more complicated than that. The stories were short and the writing was simple, and sometimes I get surprised when a story is over and I wasn't exactly sure what it was supposed to tell me. But as I read on, I realize that these stories are fragments of love in its everyday form, during the hard parts, and also, in some of the happy parts, too.
I liked most of the stories, but three stories stood out: After the Denim ("He'd tell them what to expect! He'd set those floozies straight! He'd tell them what was waiting for you after the denim and the earrings, after touching each other and cheating at games."), Everything Stuck to Him ("Things change. I don't know how they do. But they do without realizing it or wanting them to [...] he stays by the window, remembering. They had laughed. They had leaned on each other and laughed until the tears had come, while everything else - the cold, and where he'd go in it - was outside, for a while anyway.") and the title story, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love ("I'm telling you, the man's heart was breaking because he couldn't turn his goddamn head and see his goddamn wife."). When I was done, I found myself rereading parts of some of my favorite stories (especially the last one), and then sitting down at home and thinking about love.
Because really, what do people talk about when they talk about love? My friends and I do this a lot, and while we all have these ideas and dreams and everything, I don't think we will ever grasp what love really is about. The best we can do, I think, is try.
Let's have a toast. I want to propose a toast. A toast to love. To true love. (p.141)
This is my first Carver, and I don't think this will be my last. :)
When Eliza Victoria sent me an email about sending a review copy of her newest book, I couldn't say no. Note that I'm not really a fan of dark fiction, or horror or suspense, but this is Eliza, guys. I read her stuff and liked it, even if they're not the usual things I go for. I'm not really one for scaring myself, but I make certain exceptions especially when the author just writes really, really well.
Unseen Moonis Eliza's newest collection that contains several of her short stories, most of them never been published in print. They're part horror, lots of crime and suspense...and well, lots of dead bodies. Like her other works, the stories are well-written and I think they are exactly what she intended them to be -- dark. Sometimes, a bit too bloody. But definitely dark. Here's a mini-review of each of the stories, and my rating for them.
Needle Rain (3/5) - This is the story of Cleofe, Cedric, Brian and Emily, their friendship and the murder that happened in their town. For some reason, this story felt distinctly Filipino. The combination of the small town, hanging out with friends in the afternoon while eating, and the storms that raged in the story reminded me of my own younger years, where I would work on projects at home while a storm happened outside and it was only a matter of minutes before the house is plunged in darkness because the storm caused a power interruption. Of course, that's the only thing that I related to in this story. :P Needle Rain comes off as a murder mystery story at first, and then it spirals into something else. I was quite prepared to be scared at first, but in the end I felt more sad. If only the characters were wiser, then it wouldn't have turned out that way.
The Ghosts of Sinagtala (4/5) - This is a story of Ben and Emma, who inherited a mansion from their grandparents that had a dark history. Oh what a creepy, creepy story. Tricia was tweeting about this when she read it first, so I knew well enough to read this in broad daylight. And even then, I still got terribly creeped out. This is my favorite in the book, and I really liked the connection between the mansion's past to Ben and Emma. This is the story that successfully made me not want to go out of my room at night to get a glass of water because I was afraid to find a little girl crying in the darkness. O_o
Summer Evening (2/5) - Twins Amarilis and Carlos were left behind by their older brother, Nathan, to his ex-girlfriend, Alicia, because he had a job to do. The twins hate Alicia, so when two guys entered their house to do something to her, they turned their backs. I wasn't really a big fan of this because it felt too violent for me, and it kind of took me by surprise. That, and there was just something a little too disturbing with the characters -- perhaps I just refused to believe that they are capable of what they are doing in the story? It's still well-written, though, and the ending kind of made me want to wring one of the characters' necks, but this was one story that I kind of wanted to end quickly because the events made me just a bit queasy.
December (3/5) - Gabriel makes an unlikely friend in an orphan named December, who has her own issues with the people around her. A dead body in an abandoned mansion, a dead body in the lake and lots of music form the core of this story. This one sort of reminds me of Summer Evening, but it was less violent and a little more melancholic than the previous story. In some ways it was a little bit disturbing, but I was able to sympathize with the two main characters in the story more than I did for the previous story.
The Viewless Dark (4/5) - I read this back in October 2012 and I really liked it. I didn't exactly reread all of it when I read this book again. I still read parts of it, though, and felt the same chill I had when I first read it, and felt the same attachment to the characters, both dead and alive. I think this is a good story to end this collection.
Overall, Unseen Moonis another good collection of Eliza's stories. It's not as scary as I expected (except for The Ghosts of Sinagtala - remembering several scenes still gives me the creeps), but it was really quite dark. This collection is a little bit more similar to Lower Myths than A Bottle of Storm Clouds, sans the paranormal aspect. If you want to get to know Eliza's works but you're not a huge fan of anything that is out of the normal world, then Unseen Moonmight be the right Eliza book for you. If you've read Eliza's other works and you want more, then you won't want to miss this one. :)(less)