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I wasn't sure what to expect with Grace when I got it. Okay, so I posted a WoW post about this because I was curious, evOriginal post at One More Page
I wasn't sure what to expect with Grace when I got it. Okay, so I posted a WoW post about this because I was curious, even if I'm not (yet) a fan of Elizabeth Scott. So far, out of all Scott's work, the only book I liked was Stealing Heaven, and I am not so sure if I want to read her other books after that. But I made an exception for this because it is dystopian, and I have been liking that sub-genre a lot lately.
Grace was raised as an Angel, a suicide bomber trained by the People to fight against Keran Berj's oppression. She was brought to the People by her dad after her mother died, and she knew that she will be herald of death, a girl chosen by the Saints to fight for freedom against Keran Berj's cruelty against the land. She grew up knowing what an honor it would be to die for the cause, but knowing is not the same as believing. On the day that she was supposed to kill the Minister of Culture, Grace decides not to die and instead escapes. She is joined by a mysterious, seemingly compassionate man named Kerr as they rode the train to a border that they were not sure if they could reach.
The story is simple, both in prose and plot. It's confusing at first, because the story wasn't told in a linear manner, but in flashbacks and anecdotes of Grace's past and the history that she knew of about their land and Keran Berj's rule. After some time, though, as I got used to the narration, I finally got the hang of it and it was easier from there. The chapters were short, sparse and almost poetic and but it does not lack the emotion or action that would pull the readers in Grace's bleak world. There is very little hope as what little of Grace's story unfolds, and I felt afraid for her as she rode the train to the border. This is not a book you would want to read for a quick and easy read because it's not. However, despite all that, Scott manages to weave a little bit of hope in the story, a little spark in the darkness that Grace had lived in almost all her life. Just like Grace, I was hesitant to believe in that hope, but I wanted her to hold on to it because I wanted to believe that there is still something good in the world she lives in.
This is a depressing book. It reminds me a lot of those war movies and books that I avoid, particularly ones about World War II and the Nazis. I never liked watching those movies because it's scary, and I hate the idea that it could possibly happen again. I know it's weird coming from someone who likes dystopian fiction, but there is a certain level of separation between reality and the dystopian books I have read. Grace is different, because there is a definite sense of reality in the story, a question that I can't help but ask as I read this book. That is the most terrifying thing in this novel. This is not fantasy. There's no magic, no special high technology, nothing. The lack of out-of-this-world elements in this story makes you wonder if this is really happening somewhere else...and if it is, is there anything we can do to stop it?...more
So it took me a while to write a review of this book, for several reasons. First is the usual excuse that I am just busyOriginal post at One More Page
So it took me a while to write a review of this book, for several reasons. First is the usual excuse that I am just busy (I still have a huge review backlog), second is that I don't know how to start the review, and third is because I'm just not sure how to really rate this book.
Monsters of Menby Patrick Ness is the final installment to the Chaos Walking trilogy, and it is all about war. And it's not just the kind of war that we've read in The Hunger Games trilogy, but a bigger, badder and more intense kind of war that kind of exhausted me when I was reading it. Wait, scratch that -- it did not just kind of exhausted me but I really got exhausted.
I'm not sure how to write about the plot of the book because I'm afraid my words won't suffice. Even the summary I posted above doesn't say much about the everything that's happened in the book. It was intense, but I loved the intensity it carried - it starts out with a bang and pauses and then brings it back all over again. The stakes are higher, and there isn't just two sides in this war. You'd find yourself wondering just who really is the bad guy in this, and if the actions of the "good" people would be justified because of their intentions. I felt torn over the motivations of the people, and somehow, reading about them as they were revealed made me sympathize even with the most unlikely characters. Yes, even the Mayor -- I think he had some of the best moments in this book and I can't help but feel a bit sorry for him. He's such a complex villain that it's not easy to simply just hate him for all his supposed evilness.
It's exhausting. But it's also gripping. And as with every Patrick Ness book, I shed tears, because he can do that with how he deals with his characters. The writing is simple and definitely way easier to read compared to the first book, and it's in this simplicity that makes the message shine. War makes monsters of men. Is there ever any way for us to avoid this kind of war that ruins people? Perhaps.
I honestly had a hard time rating this at first because while I thought it was very good, I also felt that maybe I was giving it that rating because of the hype and the good reviews of all the people who has read this before and has read this with me. But now that it's been more than a month since I finished it, I realized that this book deserves no less than my current rating. After all the tears and time I have invested in this series (I read this in the span of 3 years because I had to rest in-between the books!), I must say it is truly one of the best series for young adults out right now. Monsters of Menis an excellent ending to an excellent series and I am so, so glad that I was able to read this. :)...more
There are certain books that can wait before you actually crack its pages. They’re the types of books that you want, but are in no hurry to read, so they sit pretty on your shelf, waiting to be picked once you’re finished with what you’re reading, or once you feel like reading them. They wait patiently for you, never complaining, never taunting you to read the last few pages to see what would happen in the end, and it can wait for a long time before you actually read it without complaints.
This book wasn’t one of them.
When I read the first book of the It’s All About Us series for the first time, I wasn’t really pleased with it. I liked it, yes, but I didn’t feel like it was a favorite because I couldn’t really relate to it, and all the name and brand dropping kind of got to me. I mean, the characters were Christian; why are they spouting off brands and such? Don’t they have better things to do than concentrate on designer brands or something?
I could have given up on the series then, but I have this obsessive thing on finishing what I started, so when the next few books came out, I got them and read them. Slowly, I started to fall in love with the characters and understand where they were coming from, even if I couldn’t relate too much. I found myself rooting for them, and even if I don’t really wish for the kind of life they have, I wished to find friends like Lissa, Gillian, Carly, Shanni and Mac — friends who would stick by you through and through and pray with you and be there for you like real God-given friends are.
I have to remember that these books were written to cater to a specific kind of group: the Gossip Girl/insert book series name here generation. I like watching Gossip Girl on TV, but I never picked up any of their books because I never felt interested in it. A friend told me they’re good, but they were kind of scandalous, especially for the audience it was written for. The It’s All About Us series counters that, and shows us that girls can love God and still have fun. The books focus on the real important things: friendship, love, family, following God’s will and growing in God’s love. It’s like a breath of fresh air for all young adult books, and it’s something that parents wouldn’t be afraid to let their daughters read. :)
I’m blabbing about that because I’m trying to avoid spoilers for this book. I got this book yesterday, and I was trying to resist reading the book because I told myself I’d finish Persuasion first. I failed miserably, picked the book up last night and read it until way past my bed time, and it was so worth it. I slept with a huge smile on my face knowing that was the ending, and even if I wanted a bit more, I’m okay with how this series ended. I really liked Lissa in this book, much more than I did in the first book. I like how she had matured from the girl who wanted to be popular to a girl who loves her God and her friends and is happy with that. I like the other conflicts in the story, too, and it was nice to see more of Vanessa even if I don’t know what else will happen to her. It was really nice to read more of Kaz, too, and I wouldn’t mind having a best friend like that. :) I just kind of feel off about how Lissa was depicted in the cover — I don’t know if it’s just me, but Lissa there (the blonde) looked a bit too old to be the Lissa I imagined. Carly (I think it’s her, the one on the right), looks gorgeous though. :)
What I love about the entire series is it never really wraps up everything nicely — the consequences of their actions are still there and they can’t turn back from their mistakes. They just have to learn to forgive themselves and others and ask forgiveness and trust that God knows what He’s doing. It doesn’t sugarcoat any of the issues, but instead connects it with practical lessons and teachings that could be applied in everyday life.
If you haven’t read the series yet, I recommend that you start with the first book because it’s really where the story started, and this book concludes the series in a really romantic and satisfying way. :) No regrets in buying this yesterday or staying up late to read this. I’m going to miss the girls, but I’m happy to know I can always visit them on my bookshelf....more
Reread it in preparation for Deadline. I still loved it, it was still as awesome as the first time. But I tell you -- it kind of sucks when you know wReread it in preparation for Deadline. I still loved it, it was still as awesome as the first time. But I tell you -- it kind of sucks when you know what will happen and you can't do anything to stop it. My heart broke again. 3
If you have a copy of this book and you haven't read it yet...well, why haven't you?!READ IT.
It was a normal afternoon at work. My colleagues and I were preparing to attend a required meeting when the boys started discussing their last Left 4 Dead 2 gaming session. I listened to them talk about how hard it was to get through whatever level they were in and how they blasted the zombies in the game, then I interrupted them with a question: “What if a zombie apocalypse actually happens?”
That simple question started a string of discussions about what could happen if zombies actually walk among us, hungry for our brains. We talked about the zombie apocalypse at length and what we would do: where to hide, how to kill zombies effectively, what weapons to use given our location, how to survive, even what to do if one of us were to get infected. Answers drew from sources of zombie wisdom ranging from movies like Zombieland to games like Resident Evil and even Plants vs. Zombies, all discussed with absolute seriousness, as if a zombie invasion was a real possibility.
Spoiler Warning (Nothing major, and the ending remains unspoiled.)
In Mira Grant’s Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy, zombies have become a part of the normal everyday existence. In 2014, cures for the common cold and for cancer were developed, from modifying strains of rhinovirus and filovirus, respectively. These cures were made to attack the original virus and cells that caused the sickness, and then lie dormant in the system until the illness threatened to come back again. It was a joyful breakthrough in the field of medicine, but the scientists couldn't have known was that the combination of these two cures would form an airborne virus that could raise the dead. No one knew when that first mutation occurred, but the new virus spread quickly and soon everyone had acquired it, the virus waiting to be amplified through death or direct fluid contact with any of the infected.
More than two decades later, the virus, dubbed as Kellis-Amberlee remains a threat. Instead of the virus wiping out the entire human population, humans have managed to push back with help from the bloggers who first spread the news of what they call as “The Rising.” While traditional media were hesitant to warn the people of the threat because of government ties and a general policy of denial, bloggers fearlessly reported the news in all parts of the world, sometimes even risking their lives to get the story, and this helped people survive.
Georgia Mason is one of those bloggers. Together with her brother Shaun, and their friend Buffy, they form the main team of news blog "After the End Times." Georgia is a Newsie, a stick-to-the-facts news reporter who believes that everyone deserves to know the truth and nothing but. Shaun, an Irwin (named after the late Steve Irwin), enjoys poking zombies with sticks and chasing them around on camera, and Buffy is a Fictional, providing poetry and stories for their site while double-hatting as their all-around tech girl. The three were selected to join the young Republican Senator Peter Ryman on his presidential campaign, a first in the history of all campaigns since the Rising. Ryman remembered being betrayed by the news because they didn’t do enough to warn the people of the zombie threat, and so he wanted to give bloggers equal standing in his campaign, as a way to thank them. In a career where ratings are everything, this opportunity was the team’s big break, and Georgia, Shaun, and Buffy became instant celebrities in the blogosphere. Just as they were starting to get used to their newfound popularity, the campaign and the Senator's family are attacked. Georgia and her team digs deeper, and soon realize the scale of the conspiracy behind the attacks. Georgia and her team stick to their guns – literally and figuratively – and vow to let the people know the truth, despite the risks.
Feed first caught my eye because of the RSS logo on the cover, done in blood. When you’ve been blogging for so long, it’s hard to miss it when something so familiar is reimagined. When I found out it was about zombies, I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Oh cool!” I’m not really a fan of horror, but I sort of grew up with zombies--er, figuratively speaking. I can still remember the first time I watched my brother play Resident Evil 1, and the horror I felt when I saw the first zombie sequence in the game. After that, I started to have this weird fascination for zombies, and I couldn’t stop watching my brother play the game. I love playing House of the Dead and Plants vs. Zombies whenever I get the chance, and while I never got to watch Night of the Living Dead or other zombie movies (it’s either I’m too chicken to do so, or I just don’t have the time), I’ve watched all Resident Evil movies at least twice. While I've never had the chance use them in any of my novels because of my chosen genre, zombies are also a popular plot device during National Novel Writing Month, and they always come up during plotting exercises. So when I found out about Feed, I knew I just had to have it -- so much that I got myself a Kindle app in my iPod and bought the book since local bookstores don’t carry it yet. Bloggers, a presidential campaign and zombies? I'm in!
Overall, the novel had a video game/movie feel. It’s told from Georgia’s point of view for most of the novel, with blog entries and quotes in between chapters to show her brother’s point of view. Being a Newsie, Georgia loves the facts, and she tells the facts straight out. The post-apocalyptic zombie world was described in so much detail that I felt like I too lived in their world. The level of detail ensured that there was never a “huh?” moment in the book. While this did result in a certain amount of wordiness, I didn’t mind, but other people may – the actual book is 600 pages long, and that can be intimidating. The author, however, makes use of a lot of pop culture references that make it easy for people from our generation to read it. From the names (George as in Romero, Shaun from Shaun of the Dead and Buffy as in the Vampire Slayer), to references to reality TV, social networking and of course, blogging, my inner geek was overjoyed because I could relate. For non-techie readers, worry not: Georgia doesn't delve too much into the actual technical aspects of their systems, so any technical talk stops before it gets too complicated, but there’s enough for the readers to know that they have really cool equipment.
Wordiness aside, Feed was actually quite...well, awesome. It’s a political thriller written over a horror backdrop, where the presence of the zombies was used to compare how the living can still do more damage than the undead. There were only a handful of zombie encounters in the entire novel, but each of the situations felt so real, that it gave the impression that the zombies were everywhere. Mira Grant allows the readers to think that everything is going fine…and then throws a huge curve ball that changes the game. It’s a thrill ride in 600 pages: I was intrigued, elated, shocked, horrified and most of all heartbroken all throughout the story, and…for me, that's what makes a story awesome.
Georgia, Shaun, Buffy and the rest of the characters were a treat to read. I never had a problem distinguishing one voice from another, and even the minor characters have their own quirks to make them memorable. I liked Georgia and Shaun’s relationship as siblings, having each other's back until the end. My favorite character in this book is Buffy, though, and I liked that their fiction department head was also their all-around tech girl. Who says tech-geeks can’t be writers?
My only peeve in the cast of characters in Feed is the villain. I don’t know if years of watching crime shows has made me sharper at figuring out whodunit, or if the villain was really just a stereotypical bad guy, but it was easy to guess who it was. There was little flair in how the bad guy was defeated, too – it would have been more exciting if there was a bigger showdown at the end.
The conclusion, however, was definitely surprising, and quite heartbreaking. It took awhile for me to shake my sense of disbelief over what happened, and I admit: tears were shed. No major spoilers but let me say this: I have never read a novel that ended in this way.
Feed gives us a glimpse of how people in the media live, whether they work in traditional or new media. We’re no strangers to journalists being killed in the field, and Mira Grant effectively shows us how much these people risk their lives just to give us the truth. The people always have the right to know. After all, the truth can set people free. Georgia hit the nail on the head with this line from her blog:
The truth is only scary when you think part of it might be missing…if we didn’t have to fear the truths we didn’t hear, we’d lose the need to fear the ones we did.
I really wasn't planning to read this book, because despite the blue eyes that looked out at me on the cover, I felt thaOriginal post at One More Page
I really wasn't planning to read this book, because despite the blue eyes that looked out at me on the cover, I felt that it wasn't something I would be interested in. Maybe it's because I just glaze over the summary, or maybe I thought it would be just like the other contemporary YA romances that I haven't felt like reading, lately. Maybe it reminded me too much of Gayle Forman's If I Stay, which I thought was a really good novel already, and I didn't want to read a book that seemed to be a copycat. Or, shallow as this may seem, I didn't want to read it because it's still in hardcover, and I'm not fond of hardcover books.
Regardless of my initial avoidance, I still ended up getting a sample of it from Amazon, and the sample kind of piqued my interest. Eventually, I got myself a copy and started reading, but I always put it off for some other book. It wasn't until last week that I started to really focus on the book, and even then, I wasn't sure if I would stick with it. The blurb pretty much tells it all: Sam Kingston is one of the popular girls in school, and she pretty much has a perfect life. February 12 is supposed to be one of the best days of her life, but the day goes horribly wrong at the end and Sam dies in a car crash. Although I was curious, it wasn't something I thought I need to read immediately. That changed when I reached the end of the first chapter, and then I knew I just had to read it until the end. Just read Sam's chilling words at the end of that chapter (Note: edited out some spoiler-y parts):
I know some of you are thinking maybe I deserved it...there are probably some of you who think I deserved it... -- because I wasn't going to save myself.
But before you start pointing fingers, let me ask you: is what I did really so bad? So bad I deserved to die? So bad I deserved to die like that?
Is what I did really so much worse than what anybody else does?
Is it really so much worse than what you do?
Think about it.
I had to pause my reading to really absorb that part, re-reading the previous parts to really get the impact of what Sam was asking me, as a reader before I continued to the next pages. You see, I couldn't really empathize with Sam because I never had first hand experience with the high school life and the cliques that this novel (or any other YA novel that is set in high school, for that matter). I studied in a very small high school, and I don't think these kinds of cliques are really present in high schools in my country, especially the small ones. Sure, there were groups -- or barkadas as we call it -- but there was never a "popular clique", the one that everyone fears, hates and worship at some level. That being said, I didn't like Sam and her friends immediately. I guess all those TV shows and novels where the popular clique is synonymous to the meanest people in the school, it was easy for me to put them into that label too. And in the first chapter, they really make it easy. Sam, Lindsay, Elody and Ally are the classic mean, popular girls that we all know. They were mean and self-centered. They picked on people in school that they don't like. They cheat on exams because they can and people are afraid of them. They worry more about their image rather than the other important things in life. They drank and smoked excessively, they didn't follow traffic rules, had sex with various people. They lied, they do things only for their own good, they made up rumors about other students and the others followed suit. They were just nasty people who I know I'd avoid if they studied in my high school.
But does she deserve to die that way? Does anyone deserve to die because they're mean and nasty, because they did something wrong, because they hurt other people, because they're not very likable? Borrowing Sam's words: is what these people did really worse than what anybody else does? Than what I do? Than what you do? Is it?
Needless to say, I gobbled up the book after that part. Sam lives through the same day over and over again for the next six days. Like anyone in caught in that situation, Sam freaked out and wondered if the previous day was a dream, a crazy deja vu. Then this freak out moment gave way to fear, and anger and reckless abandon, until she finally realized that there must be something she could do to change the outcome, to save herself and live in the end. As she learns more about the people around her, she realizes how much power she has, and what she has to do in order to make things right.
There is a particular haunting beauty in how the book was written and constructed. It can seem quite boring to think that the same day is going to be lived out in seven chapters, but Lauren Oliver managed to make each day different, depending on what Sam chooses to do. Even the smallest actions can change what happens in the day and have a different effect at the end -- chaos theory or butterfly effect, in short. I liked how there were so many outcomes in one day even with the smallest action that Sam does or doesn't do. I started to sympathize with Sam after the first chapter, and I had to resist the urge to check the last chapter to see what would happen to her in the end because I wanted to know if she will be able to get out of what seemed to be her personal hell.
Like everyone else who's read this, I didn't like Sam at first. But as I joined her in her journey in the next seven days, I find myself liking her not because she was popular or pretty or perfect, but because she was flawed, and very human. She was mean not because she wanted to be, but she felt she had to be in order to keep up with her image and to keep her friends. It's sad, but in a way I could sympathize with her because deep inside, Sam just felt very lost. It wasn't just Sam that shone in this novel, but her friends as well. Lauren Oliver wrote very credible characters with a heart. Sure, they were bitches, but as each repeating day, she reveals another layer of Sam and her friends, ones that reveal different weaknesses and vulnerabilities, showing that they were also just as imperfect as the people the other people. The author effectively managed to show that even if they are popular, they are really no different from the others who feared, hated or worshiped them. I also liked that the girls were true friends to each other, despite their bitchiness, and it was one of the reasons why I found myself tearing up at the end. They're not the type of girls who'd stab each other in the back, which is my impression of popular cliques -- they really and truly cared for each other, enough to forgive and excuse one another, and yes, even help them keep their own secrets.
This book dares to ask the question: what would you do if you know today is the last day you'll live? I know most of us will say that we'll find time to spend with our friends, families, loved ones and all that. Perhaps some of us may even find a way to be careful, to try to avoid anything that could lead to our death before the day ends. Honestly, I don't know what I'd do, or if I'd even want to know if it is my last day. I don't think I will be able to handle knowing that this is my last day or my last laugh, or last hang out with my friends or last dinner with my family (I'd say last kiss, but then I realized that I haven't even been kissed yet, so thinking about my last day without being kissed feels a bit...well, sad. ^^ But I digress). Will I be able to let go and say goodbye? I agree with what Sam said in the book:
...I'm guessing it's like that for most things in life -- the last kiss, the last laugh, the last cup of coffee, the last sunset, the last time you jump through a sprinkler or eat an ice cream cone, or stick your tongue out to catch a snowflake. You just don't know.
But I think that's a good thing, really, because if you did know, it would be almost impossible to let go. When you do know, it's like being asked to step off the edge of a cliff: all you want to do is to get down on your hands and knees and kiss the solid ground, smell it, hold on to it.
I guess that's what saying goodbye is always like -- like jumping off an edge. The worst part is making the choice to do it. Once you're in the air, there's nothing you can do to let it go.
So what happens to Sam in the end? Did she manage to change everything? Well, I'll leave it up to you to find out.
This is probably one of the hardest reviews I've ever written, because I wanted to give justice to this book that left me thinking and even dreaming about the ending after I finished it. Before I Fall is thought provoking, beautiful, and stunning debut from Lauren Oliver, definitely one of my best reads for 2010....more
The main reason I bought The Monstrumologist last year was because of the cover. I thought it had a very good and creepyOriginal post at One More Page
The main reason I bought The Monstrumologist last year was because of the cover. I thought it had a very good and creepy design, and the title's font made it seem like someone was whispering it to you -- "The Monstrumologist". I didn't really know what it was about, but I relied on the Printz medallion on the cover and believed it was good. Every time I see this on my shelf I felt like someone was whispering to me, but I never got around to reading it for so many reasons. When Aaron read it and said it was "...the type of book that should come with a warning: Caution: Not for the faint heart or weak stomach – that sort of thing", I put it down further my TBR, thinking I'll read it when I'm ready because I am so not the one who goes for gore. But alas, I'm pretty easy to bully when it comes to reading, so when my October Required Reading came around, I had no choice but to put this on my reading list.
You'd think The Monstrumologist is a pretty easy-peasy not-so-scary YA novel about monsters. You'd think. Twelve-year-old Will Henry is left orphaned after his parents died in a fire, and he was taken in by his dad's employer, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop. Warthrop is not an ordinary doctor -- he is a monstrumologist. Warthrop is self-absorbed, often buried in his work and has young Will Henry at his beck and call. One night, a grave digger arrives at their doorstep bringing the most curious package: the cold remains of a young girl that is being devoured by a very terrifying and a very dead monster. It was an Anthropophagus: a monster shaped like a human but with no head, mouth on its stomach and black eyes on its shoulders. Anthropophagi feed on human flesh, but that is not the most curious thing that got the doctor wondering. Anthropophagi are native in Africa, so finding one in New Jerusalem was the singular curiosity -- never mind that finding scary man-eating monsters was already the strangest thing for young Will Henry. Now it is up to the doctor and Will Henry (and some "friends" -- and I use the term loosely) to figure out how these man-eating monsters got there, and to stop them before they go on an eating spree.
Aaron's review got me preparing for the worst for this book. Seeing that I'm such a big chicken, I was all set to read this in broad daylight. As luck would had it, I ended up reading this while I was on the Alabat Island trip with my Goodreads friends. Not that it's bad, but because the part of Quezon province we visited wasn't an urban area. While it wasn't completely rural, it was still a quiet place with lots of trees, especially when we were on our way to and back from the beach. And it was dark, very dark at night. Somewhere during those trips there, I realize that it may be a bit of a bad decision to read this book while I was there. The Monstrumologist isn't scary in the way ghost books are scary. It doesn't really give that spine tingling feeling, or the type that makes me want to sleep with the lights on. Instead, The Monstrumologist gave me that creepy look-over-your-shoulder feeling after. While it did not make my spine tingle like how Paranormal Activity 3 did after I watched it, it did make me look over my shoulder a few times. I knew in my heart that this is all fiction, but a little voice at the back of my head was asking, "What if it is real?"
The Monstrumologist is a very vivid and well-written gothic horror novel and I have never been more captivated by a book like this. It was creepy scary all right, but it was so good that I could not stop reading it even if it was in a dark and moving jeep (while everyone was telling scary stories). Despite my misgivings and initial hesitation, I actually ended up loving this book. To say it was well-written is an understatement. It was extremely well written. The story was basically being told in from the point of view of the older Will Henry recalling memories of those scary nights, there was excellent foreshadowing and it made me fear for what could happen to the story. I remember having to stop a couple of times to take a breather or to shudder and squirm at how gory some parts were. But it wasn't just pointless gore -- the story was quite engaging as well. The characters were very fleshed out, and I especially loved the relationship between Will Henry and the doctor. It was strained, but also I think they were just having a hard time showing how important they were to one another. I especially liked the last scene in the book, and if you've read it, I think you will also find it a bit heartwarming.
I think The Monstrumologist would fare very well not just a book but also as a movie. I could clearly imagine the final chase scenes of the book as a motion picture. Like I said, I'm not a fan of anything horror, but The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey may just have made my best of 2011 list. :) And it's so good that I am actually reading the next book in the series (but this is because I got semi-bullied into reading it :P).
One final anecdote: soon after I finished reading this book, the electricity at home went out. I found myself straining to hear the hiss of the Anthropophagus in the silence and total darkness of the night. If that is not an effect of a great novel, than I do not know what is. If you haven't read The Monstrumologist, well, snap to!...more
One of my favorite things to hear back during those high school graduation programs is the class prophecy. I think I heaOriginal post at One More Page
One of my favorite things to hear back during those high school graduation programs is the class prophecy. I think I heard my first class prophecy back in elementary, when our teacher read a prophecy of one batch for us. Then sometime during sophomore year in high school, I wrote an incomplete class prophecy on a whim, set about ten years later, one where I apparently lost contact with most of my high school friends and even crashed into my best friend's car. And finally, during senior year, I was assigned to write our batch's prophecy, which was kind of boring now that I remember it. Boring compared to the sort of morbid prophecy that the higher batch had before us, anyway.
But again, I love those things because it has that infinite feel to it. I can write practically anything about what our fortunes will be (and because it's going to be read to everyone, I have to make sure all of us were successful, sort of). It had all those possibilities for all of us, giving all of us in the batch hope that we could all fulfill that prophecy that I had penned.
That's what The Piper's Son read like for me -- a class prophecy. It's been five years since Saving Francesca, and the little group that I have grown to love in that book has changed. Will is now an engineer in Singapore, and having a long-distance relationship with Frankie. Frankie's parents are in Italy and she now works in a local pub with Justine. Siobhan is in England, Tara is in Timor, Jimmy is somewhere out there. And Tom. Tom Mackee is lost. Ever since his uncle died in a terrorist attack in London, Tom's life had fallen apart. When he finally hit rock bottom, he finds himself living with his pregnant aunt Georgie, who's also deep in her own grief. Tom is going to have to start picking his life back up again, but will the people he's left behind be there to help him?
What can I say about The Piper's Son that the other readers haven't said yet? Once again, Marchetta shines in this book. This is one of the best spin-off novels I've read ever. Like I said, it reads like a class prophecy, so I was thrilled to read about what happened to my favorite group of fictional friends five years down the road. It wasn't the same as my "we're all so successful" prophecies though, because Tom is broken. And it's with Tom that makes this book so heartbreakingly good. There were so many layers to him and his relationship with his family and friends. I think it was Aaron who once said that he had more personality than Will had in Saving Francesca, and it's true. I liked that this book gave us a way to know him more than the smart-aleck seemingly bad guy character he had before.
To be honest, I had no idea where this book was going and a part of me keeps on wondering where. But I think the beauty of contemporary novels, especially that of Marchetta, is she makes even the most ordinary seem extraordinary. Tom's days in the pub, his encoding work, his family, most especially his emails to his sister and Tara made this book so much more emotional than I expected. His aunt Georgie's point of view also gave us a different perspective. It wasn't opposing, but just different, and it gave a certain depth in the story that made us understand just how much they all lost when Joe Finch Mackee died in that explosion. Oh, but it's not completely sad, though -- there's still humor, especially when the Tom and his friends banter, and even with their grudge on Tom's abandonment, it's clear that they all still care for one another. My favorite moments include the one with Lord of the Rings, Tom playing with Callum, the one with "I think we're getting our Tom back", and Tom telling Frankie to stop listening to the news. Oh, and of course, the reunion scene -- I've been an inexplicable fool / A thousand times, yes. :)
I had to marinate on this book for a while before I decided on its final rating. It's not exactly an easy read, especially with all the issues it tackled. Somehow, this made Saving Francesca seem like a sunshine-y happy book, even if it also tackled pretty serious issues. I guess it's because Tom was dealing with harder ones, and being a guy, he handles it differently. But after a few days of thinking about it, I finally got to the point where the beauty of this novel has finally settled deep into my bones, and I am just in awe of how Marchetta can keep me thinking about her story and her characters long after I've finished reading. If that isn't a sign of a great book, then I don't know what is.
The Piper's Son is not an easy book to read, but it's one of those books that you'd want to read. Because a story such as this deserves to be read. It just wraps itself around your heart like that. If you're off to read contemporary YA books, do yourself a favor and put Melina Marchetta high on your list. I promise you won't regret it. ...more
The bright yellow cover called me the moment I entered the YA section of Fully Booked Eastwood. It was bright, and the sOriginal post at One More Page
The bright yellow cover called me the moment I entered the YA section of Fully Booked Eastwood. It was bright, and the smiley made an interesting cover, and when I took a peek inside, I saw that it was a book...with drawings!
But what really convinced me to buy is when I removed the half dust jacket and saw this:
This certainly got me very, very curious. How can a book entitled "Happyface" have a sad face inside?
Happyface is the journal of a boy who has been christened Happyface by the girl he likes because of his sense of humor and his happy demeanor. Happyface is a high school sophomore, and a shy, artistic kid who tries to reinvent himself when he moves to a new town. The journal contains the account of the school year, from June to March, as he tries to make friends, ask out the girl he liked and be the happy person that everyone expects him to be.
This isn't exactly a comic book, but it's also not a plain novel. I like reading journal-type novels because I like first person accounts, and I'm a journal keeper myself. The drawings in this book are fascinating and entertaining at the same time. Look:
I'm not big on graphics or photos in a novel -- I like words more. However, Happyface made me appreciate art (simple as they may be sometimes), and the images were not there just to be there, but they really add to the story. I can't draw to save my life, so I am immediately in awe of anyone who can draw something that is more than a stick figure. I do wonder sometimes how Happyface can have the time to draw and write -- writing is hard enough, but drawing them as well? Wow. Of course, again, I'm not an artist, and I can't draw, so I can't exactly say how hard or easy keeping a journal with art is. Perhaps someone can enlighten me?
Happyface may sound and look like a happy book, but I was surprised to find myself sighing and feeling really...well, sad, about Happyface. Like what the dust jacket and cover shows, there is more to Happyface than his smiley face. When I was in college, I used to call myself a sugarcoater. I remember telling my YFC household head to never ask me how I am once -- she needed to ask me twice (and sometimes even more) because I automatically answer "Fine" or "I'm okay" whenever they ask me how I am. Ever since then, people were careful to really ask me that, and conversations usually start like this:
Friend: Hi Tinamats! How are you? Me: Hi! I'm okay. Friend: (pauses) Okay. Again. How are you? Me: (take a deep breath and tries to answer the question again)
It's a defense mechanism, I think. It's not that I'm never okay, or I lie at the first answer, but it's become such an instinct to just answer that I am okay, rather than explain why if I am not. Plus I always felt like if I open up and tell them exactly how I am, it's like I'm laying the burden on them. I figure I'd be of better help to them if I was okay, and I can listen to them better rather than give myself room to rant.
I'm happy to say that I am doing my best not to be that way anymore. Reading Happyface reminded me of those days, and I really empathized for Happyface in his plight. It's easy to think Happyface was just a shy, awkward kid who would rather spend time in front of the computer or at home with his comic books and sketch books. It's easier to think of that because I didn't think he's the kind of guy who has serious problems, because he was so cheerful all the time, even to himself, and this book was supposed to be his journal! But as the story went on, we find out what happened to Happyface and his family, why he moved in the first place and how he really, really felt (with some help from alcohol). It's sad, almost heartbreaking, and now I really understand the presence of the sad face.
Happyface is the dorky boy in school who you would never have a crush on, but would be really good friends with. He's the guy who'd draw stuff for you, join you in shopping and hand you a Christmas gift that he made himself, looking all awkward and blushing. He's the guy you will call when you're dating someone and you need someone to encourage you or tell you that everything will work out -- heck, he may even help you work things out with the guy. Happyface is the guy who is secretly in love with you, and you may never ever know because he's too shy to tell you about it.
Altogether now: awwwww. :(
I also love how refreshing a male point of view is in contemporary YA fiction. I am a girl and I appreciate it if I read a girl's story about life or love or whatever...but let's face it girls: we can be too whiny and we over think a lot. Happyface's voice is refreshing and funny, and it's a relief to read that guys can be awkward and dorky yet be totally sweet all at the same time.
Happyface is a fun yet painfully honest journal, not about self discovery, but realizing that everyone of us hides behind our own happy faces. It may not be like how Happyface hides behind his smiles -- we may hide behind what we wear, what we eat, what we do, who we date, how we act, but we all hide something, that we are afraid of others to see. Happyface the novel and the character teaches us that it's okay to (and I quote) "...allow myself to cry or sit by myself when I need to...and find things to really smile about..." after.
I recommend this book to anyone who's loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, or, if you haven't read that yet, those who can appreciate a good, non-paranormal YA story. My friend Aaron says this sounds similar to what John Green writes, and that I have yet to find out. I'm pretty sure girls will like this book (who doesn't like reading about sensitive, awkward and geeky guys? :P), but I'd recommend this book more to guys who may have been a Happyface at one point in their life.
Oh, and my favorite part of Happyface? This drawing. I really think I look like her when I don't dry my hair properly and when I wear my glasses. What do you think? :)
When I was in elementary, we used to have these character books, where we write the names of all the characters of the cartoon shows we watch, and weWhen I was in elementary, we used to have these character books, where we write the names of all the characters of the cartoon shows we watch, and we match them with the people in our class. I almost never get the "lead roles" because there's always someone else for them, even in my own notebook (but I don't put myself in the lead roles there because as a rule, everyone can read that notebook, and I didn't want to be thought of as conceitedor something), so I usually I put myself in the secondary roles -- the ones that still matter, but not really the star of the show. So for the pages based on the Peter Pan anime that we all grew up with, I am usually Tiger Lily.
I've seen Tiger Lilyby Jodi Lynn Anderson in other blogs for a long time now, but I'm not that much of a fan of Peter Pan and its retellings, so I didn't really care for it. I've heard good things about it, though, but I didn't think it would be my thing, you know? Then I ran into it again, while I was looking for other books to read in my Kindle, when the books I was currently reading weren't doing just what I want for me. But I was kind of wary, too, especially since I knew this was a love story, and not a happy one at that. We all know that, right? I mean, Peter Pan is with Wendy, and even Tinkerbell knows that. But what happened before Wendy arrived in Neverland? Did Peter ever belong to someone else?
Jodi Lynn Anderson's Tiger Lily explored that. We meet fifteen year old Tiger Lily, a loner among her Sky Eaters tribe. She's often quiet and usually fierce, and most people in her tribe are afraid of her, save for her adopted father, Tik Tok, a small guy named Pine Sap, another girl named Moon Eye and finally, the little fairy who started following her, Tinkerbell. We follow Tiger Lily's story through Tinkerbell's eyes, with how she saved a man, and how she was set for marriage, and how meets Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. Soon, quiet Tiger Lily is entranced by the childish yet charismatic Peter, and she starts sneaking out just to be with him. But when she is called to do her duty for her family and her tribe, she must make a choice. With the pirates looming around the boys and someone trying to change the way her tribe works, Tiger Lily is dealing with a lot, but it's Wendy Darling who ends up threatening her the most.
Oh, my heart. I knew this isn't a happy story, I really did. But I didn't expect how much this will make me sigh and kind of wreck havoc over my heart. :( Tiger Lilyheld me captive, and I couldn't stop reading it when I started. A lot of what the readability had to do with the writing -- there was simple yet beautiful prose in the story, and it perfectly fits the almost somber and whimsical mood of the story. The quotes I included below are a proof of that. It's like the author chose her words very carefully, so it would really sound like how Tinkerbell would see it, and say it.
If you're a purist for Peter Pan's stories though, you might get a little disappointed with how there were some things lacking in Anderson's depiction of Neverland. Save for the fairies, there's no magic. Neverland is a place that is somewhere in the Atlantic, and not "Second star to the right and straight on till morning". The boys don't fly, and Tinkerbell doesn't spread fairy dust so they can think happy thoughts. There were some seemingly magical elements, but they weren't blatant, and they're still sort of believable and I didn't mind it. It made the story a little easier to get into (except that I kept on expecting the boys to fly. Heh).
The story isn't fluff, though. Tiger Lily is also quite brutal in some scenes, and the complicated relationships add to this brutality. But can a book this brutal be beautiful, too? I think so, I really do. Because oh, my heart. My heart broke so much for Tiger Lily and Peter, and how their story has been doomed for the start. Knowing that it was doomed didn't make me want to stop reading, because I wanted to know how it all played out. Maybe I was wishing it wouldn't end the way I was already expecting it. Or maybe, I just want to see how it ends, because it couldn't possibly have an absolutely ugly ending, right?
I'm pretty sure it was the latter, because when I got to the end, I sighed. My heart sighed, several times, and Tiger Lily left me with a little ache there -- it hurt, but it was also beautiful, and I know that I couldn't ask for anything more.
I'm glad I read Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson now. I think I read it at the right time, just as when I needed something like this. Oh, my heart.
I only really read The Monstrumologist last month because I got into this agreement with Aaron and Tricia that I will read the second book with them. What is it with me scaring myself silly all of a sudden, yes? I don't know, either. If it were up to me, I would probably wait another year to read the next book in this series to give me (more than) enough recovery time. But because I can be such a pushover sometimes, I gave in and read The Curse of the Wendigo soon after I finished the first book, even if my nerves were still slightly wracked from all the Halloween scare and I was busy with NaNoWriMo.
So, The Curse of the Wendigo is the second book in The Monstrumologist series, and it features the older Will Henry's journals, specifically folios 4-6. Here we find another adventure of Will Henry with his mentor, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop. Warthrop receives a letter that his mentor is about to make a statement in the next gathering of all monstrumologists that they were to include "supernatural" creatures in the roster of monsters that they know -- creatures such as vampires, werewolves and the like. Warthrop adamantly believes that they do not exist, and was enraged to hear about this. As he was preparing for his rebuttal, a beautiful lady comes knocking at their door -- it was Muriel Chanler, Warthrop's old friend and ex-fiance. She asks for Warthrop's help: her husband and his old friend John Chanler had gone hunting for the mythical Wendigo and had gone missing. Despite Warthrop's misgivings about his old friend's hunt for this creature, he goes out to bring him back, even if only to give him a proper burial if he is really dead. Will Henry, the ever loyal apprentice, tags along, and finds himself in another sort of horrific world that tests his loyalty and his beliefs in things such as love, hate and friendship.
I will come out and say it right now: if I really liked The Monstrumologist, I think I lovedThe Curse of the Wendigo more. The second book in the series gives us a bigger view the world that Will Henry lived in. The first book was really more on what monstrumology is, and how Will Henry has come to lived in such a world. It focuses more on how humans aren't really at the top of the food chain and we can just be hunted as any other animal out there. There was a certain distance with the horror that the first book can give: at the end of the book, it never became really personal for Will Henry, much less for the doctor. It was, for them, another day's work. There were casualties, but it was still work.
The Curse of the Wendigo makes things more personal, especially for the doctor. Rick Yancey excels in making Pellinore Warthrop's character shine in this book. The first book tells us about his chosen profession, the second book told us all about his life: how he wanted to be a poet (!!!), how he was almost married, how he had a friend, how he lost both the love of his life and his friend when he made a choice. I always thought Warthrop was this old man who was passionate about the odd things, but in the second book, I saw him as an entirely different person. First impressions show Warthrop as a cold and scientific man, but here we see him as a real person capable of caring, loving and loyal even up to the end, to the point of dismissing everything that everyone is telling him.
The horror level in this book is also almost entirely different from its predecessor. I felt that the anthropophagi in the first book were considered as animals, but here, the wendigo is really more of a psycho killer that was out for revenge. The crime scenes were more a notch more brutal, almost downright disgusting. If I did not know that the book was set in the 1880's, I would have thought it fit a modern murder mystery story. Not that it's a bad thing -- it made getting immersed in the story easier for me (although perhaps it was just because of all the CSI episodes I watched). Yancey writes the entire story of hunting the wendigo (and also, not hunting the wendigo) with excellent pacing that it came to a point that I cannot put the book down.
But the best part of this book for me really is how much we see of Warthrop here. I have to go back to that because that's really the strength of this book. I don't think this would count as a fictional crush, but it's really more of the admiration of how strong and weak and broken a character can be. I also really liked that we see everything through Will Henry's eyes, and through all that, we see that the doctor is not the cold and purely scientific man from the first impression. The tender moment at the end of the sixth folio was enough to induce tears, and I would have shed them if I did not finish the book while I was commuting. When I finished the book, I had zero doubt that Pellinore Warthrop thought of Will Henry like a son, and it kind of hurts to wonder what will happen to them by the twelfth folio.
I thought The Curse of the Wendigo is even better than The Monstrumologist, and it is one of the best books I've read in 2011. Once again I am very glad I allowed myself to be "bullied" into reading this. I promise, though, that I don't have to be bullied to read the third book. Once the paperback is released (because all my series books must match), I will definitely read it without waiting for someone to push me into starting it. ;) ...more
In 2007, I wrote a NaNoWriMo novel with my main character as the manager and the guitarist of a Christian band. I had aOriginal post at One More Page
In 2007, I wrote a NaNoWriMo novel with my main character as the manager and the guitarist of a Christian band. I had a pretty good idea for a story, really, with the band looking for a female vocalist and I figured the hardest part was writing about their chemistry. It turned out it wasn't. The hardest part was writing about music because even if I've helped produced some concerts before, I still didn't know how it feels like to be in an actual band, or even to just manage one. Suffice to say, that was one of the hardest novels I've tried to write.
But that doesn't stop me from putting singing characters or bands in my stories. I don't know why -- maybe it's a frustration because I know I am hardly musical? Oh I listen to a lot of songs, but I usually pay attention to the lyrics and not the music. Maybe it's because I have a secret dream of being a rock star or a manager of a band?
Antony John's latest novel, Five Flavors of Dumb spoke to my inner rock star and band manager. I've been eying this book for the longest time (even made a Want Books post about it) ever since I saw it from That Cover Girl. I was planning on waiting for the actual book to arrive but I had an ebook itch I needed to scratch and I was very easily swayed when she convinced me to. And this is one splurge I am very glad I did. :)
Five Flavors of Dumb tells the story of Piper Vaughan, deaf girl, who gets recruited to be the manager of Dumb, the new rock band in school. What would a deaf girl know about music, right? But Piper says yes to it after she finds out that her parents used her college money to buy a cochlear implant for her baby sister, Grace, who was born deaf. She has one month to bring in the cash, and it would have been easier for her if Dumb actually worked together...but as luck would have it, it wasn't. And craziness ensues.
Five Flavors of Dumb is such a fun read from the start all the way to the end. I loved Piper's voice. If you didn't read the blurb, you'd honestly be surprised to find out she was deaf as she revealed it. I loved how smart and snarky Piper was despite her circumstances, and the fact that she was hearing impaired made her rock some more. I love how the other characters were more than what they were at first, particularly the other girls, Tash and Kallie. The characters were a diverse group, and it really brought out the "flavors" in the novel.
There's also a lot more going in this novel other than Piper's deafness or managing the band. This book also tackled some music history (Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix, for those who are curious), passion, a bit of self-image and a lot of family. I was torn between Piper and her family when tensions rose about her deafness and her sister's cochlear implants, and normally I would think it was unfair for Piper. I hated Piper's father at first for being so prejudiced against his daughter, but he had a good redemption in the end. It really is a difficult situation for a family to be in, anyway. The choices that Piper's parents made are choices that they shouldn't have to make, but they have to and just find ways to deal with what happens after. I loved how that issue was resolved and how everything was tied up at the end. To put it simply: it rocked.
I was kind of expecting it to be like Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway (which I also liked a lot), but Five Flavors of Dumb had all the things I liked about that novel, and more. This is one of the books that I think I will also get in print version when I see it in the stores here so I can lend it to other people and they can read for themselves how much this book rocks (and the cover is just really pretty). Don't miss out on this one rocking your world. :)
I'm a little bit OC when it comes to my reviewing order, and it's not often that I skip over some books I need to reviewOriginal post at One More Page
I'm a little bit OC when it comes to my reviewing order, and it's not often that I skip over some books I need to review first to write one for another. Usually doing that means one of the following: I am in a hurry to post a review for the book for a deadline (doesn't usually happen), or I love the book so much that I just have to write a review about it immediately.
Such is Jellicoe Road, my second Melina Marchetta book. Ever since I finished and enjoyed Saving Francesca, I've been itching to read another Marchetta book to experience the goodness of her writing and the realness of her characters. But alas, I know I must pace myself because Jellicoe was the only other book I had of hers -- I still had to buy The Piper's Son and Looking for Alibrandi after Holy Week. After finishing two books from my Required Reading for April, I decided to reward myself with her book.
And man, was it such a good idea. I gobbled up Jellicoe Road so fast that I surprised myself. Jellicoe Road is the story of Taylor Markham, whose mom left her when she was 11, picked up shortly by Hannah. At fourteen, she ran away from her boarding school to look for her mom only to be found and brought back by a stranger. Now, she's almost eighteen, and she is the leader of their school's underground community that is neck deep in a territory war with the kids from Jellicoe town called Townies and a group of kids undergoing military training aptly named Cadets. Then Hannah disappears and it throws Taylor's life out of the loop. If it wasn't enough, the leader of the Cadets turn out to be Jonah Griggs, a guy from Taylor's past that she's trying hard to forget. Taylor's life unravels as she tries to cope with Hannah's disappearance, piecing together clues Hannah left and things her memory is trying to hide from her.
One word: wow. I was warned that this book would be an emotional ride, but I wasn't expecting that. It's really hard to describe the book without putting a spoiler, and the last thing you want to be with this book is to be spoiled. I've been warned that the first 100 pages or so of this book would be confusing, and indeed it was. For some people, this might be enough for them to stop reading and never revisit the book again, but trust me when I say this: don't. Keep on reading, and somewhere a few pages later, you'll find that this book had you in its grip and will refuse to let you go up until the last page.
Just like in Saving Francesca, Marchetta definitely had her way with the characters and how they interact here. I thought the book would just be about the territory wars, which kind of turns me off, but the author made that as interesting as figuring out Taylor's past. I loved the relationships that the characters formed in this book -- they all had history with each other, and even if I have equally awesome friends, this book made me crave the same history that Taylor wanted: "These people have history and I crave history. I crave someone knowing me so well that they can tell what I'm thinking." I loved how they all just formed this friendship without too much effort, and how some characters who come off as annoying at first become even a little bit endearing in the end.
But that plot -- oh that plot. When I got to my first "aha!" moment in the book, I just couldn't stop reading. I wanted to know what happens next and I want it now. At the same time, I also didn't want it to end. I just want to live in Jellicoe Road, if that was possible. I loved how everything tied up together at the end, and how the story kept on surprising me everyday. Even when I thought I had it all figured out, I was still surprised at the end, and I don't think I've ever read a book that did just that. When I was done with the book, I had an extreme desire to reread it all over again, if only to figure out what part I missed now that I knew how everything fits.
While I was going through the first part of the book, I wasn't really sure if I would like it as much as my other bookish friends did. When I closed the last page, I was sure that I had just as much love for this book as they do. Like what I tweeted, reading this book was like breaking my heart and then putting it back together again. It was that awesome. Jellicoe Road reminded me of why I love contemporary YA, and it definitely made me a fan of Melina Marchetta. :)
Read it, read it. Take your time with the start and be amazed at how Marchetta weaves a story so beautiful that it keeps a hold on you long after you have closed the book. ♥...more
Sometime early this year, my book club started selecting books that we will discuss fOriginal post at One More Page First read and reviewed: April 2011
Sometime early this year, my book club started selecting books that we will discuss for our monthly discussion. When the YA theme came up, I was excited to see that my one of my favorite books last year, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, was included in the short list. Of course that got me campaigning for the book, because when you love a certain book, you just want a lot of people to read it and hope to be enthralled by it like you were.
The book won by one vote, and I was happy because it gave me the perfect excuse to reread the book. This time around, though, I wanted to try another format, so I got myself an audiobook version of the book and settled in for the ride. :) My mind was ready, but I wasn't really sure if my heart was. Still, I wanted to know if I would love the book as much as I did the first time around, especially since I know what was going to happen.
How did I describe this book last year? ...reading this book was like breaking my heart and then putting it back together again. I know that sounds terribly dramatic, but that was exactly what I felt back when I first read this and I was anticipating the same thing when I listened to it.
Listening to the book was a different experience, mostly because it gave me a bit of room to "read" while doing something else. The audiobook became my companion for my night shift work, and I was transported to that little stretch of Jellicoe Road every time I turn my player on. I found that I was paying attention to the things more, and that I caught little quotes that I wasn't sure if I caught before (my print copy has lots of dog-ears -- I didn't exactly take note what I was dog-earing then). I found the parts I love were still well-loved, and found new things to love in the book as well.
One might think that rereading this book known for its confusing start will lessen the thrill of the reading experience because you know what's going to happen already. I was ready to be a bit less enchanted with the twists, to be less heartbroken when the things happen as I was expecting them...but I wasn't. Okay, perhaps it's because I came into the book expecting to love it again, so it was harder for me to find fault. There's one chapter that still killed me, over and over again, and there were those chapters that made me smile and stop and want to listen to them again, because I forgot about them already. Despite knowing what the story was about, the reading experience was still as enjoyable as the first.
Admittedly, there was a time when I was asked, "What's the point of all of this again?" But then as I finished listening to the book, I realized that maybe it doesn't really have to have a point. It's a story of real life -- of Taylor and Jonah and Raffy and Santangelo, of Narnie and Jude and Webb and Tate and Fitz -- and it doesn't really have to make a single and simple point. Like what C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, real things aren't made to be simple. So maybe, a story about real life and all its complications isn't supposed to be simple, either.
I can't relate to Taylor's family woes, but once again, I'm amazed at how the friendships were forged in this book. This is the kind of friendship that makes you want to keep on fighting, to keep on going back, to keep on trying. If you ever have the chance to run into this kind of friendship, do everything in your power to keep it -- these are the kind of friendships that can save your life.
So did I like it as much as I did the first time? There is no other answer to that question but yes. Maybe I will grow out of this in a few years, maybe not. But for now, I still stand by every word I wrote last year, and I am very happy to know of a place "...where they would all belong, or long to be. A place on the Jellicoe Road." :)...more
I've been wanting to get The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell during the time I was so crazy for zombies in fiction,Original post at One More Page
I've been wanting to get The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell during the time I was so crazy for zombies in fiction, and that's one of the reasons why I got this from Book Depository in the first place. I wanted to add every single book that had zombies in it, until it became a little bit too mainstream for my taste. That's probably why I made this book languish in my TBR for a while, almost forgetting that I had this book with me until lately. Because you know, sometimes you have to dig through your TBR just to get some books out and get that number down.
The Reapers are the Angels introduces a world that is full of zombies. There's nothing really new about that, but then here comes Temple, a fifteen year old girl who's turned herself into a vagabond after something happened in her past. She runs into a small community of survivors who take her in, but when she accidentally kills a man who tried to take advantage of her, she is back on the run now that his brother is after her. On her journey, she meets a group of hunters who take on a new way of survival, picks up a mentally challenged man who becomes her unwanted ward, stays with a rich family who refuses to acknowledge the state of the world and gets caught by a horrifically mutated group of people whose loyalty to each other leads them to kill. All this time, Temple fights the evil she thinks is in her while running away from the man who wants to kill her.
Or perhaps running away isn't the right term. As the story goes on, it doesn't really feel that Temple was running away -- perhaps there was something else. It was almost like this chase gave her some kind of purpose, and it was interesting to read about that. Temple is a different girl and we know it right from the start. Why she chose to be alone is a mystery, and how she seemed to unafraid later on as she travels is another question. Her character makes this initially simple and typical zombie story come more alive. The Reapers are the Angels isn't a story of zombies or the fallen world but a story of a person wrestling with her past and trying to atone for this. Temple's brokenness makes her who she is -- the hard, no-nonsense girl with awesome fighting skills -- but it doesn't lessen her compassion for others who need her help, even if she doesn't really want to help at all. (view spoiler)[I found her unlikely "friendship" with Maury, the mentally challenged guy she helps and "adopts", quite endearing and possibly my favorite part in the entire story. (hide spoiler)]
But this book isn't really an easy read. The lush writing helped a lot in making me want to read this, but this is a bleak book -- not quite as hopeless as The Forest of Hands and Teeth and also not quite as action packed as The Enemy, but still pretty, well, not cheerful. There were also lots of philosophical talk, which makes this book really a story of survival and how humanity carries on after an apocalypse. I think what makes this book a little harder for me to read was the gross-out factor -- like I said, I may have gone soft, and there were some scenes in this book that made me stop reading for a bit just so my stomach would stop churning. Oh Tina, what do you expect of a zombie book, anyway? Just...don't read this while eating, especially for some parts.
Even so, I find that I loved The Reapers are the Angels, especially for how it ended. Sigh. --> That will be my one and only clue for you. I think The Reapers are the Angels is a beautifully sad but deep book, and I was a very satisfied reader when I finished the book. It's not at the level of how much I loved Mira Grant's Feed, my favorite zombie book of all time, but Alden Bell's creation has made it into the list of zombie books I will recommend to people who want to read about them. This is a good one, folks -- gross scenes aside, this is a zombie book that lived up to my expectations, and I hope it lives up to yours, too.
See, God is a slick god. He makes it so you don't miss out on nothing you're supposed to witness firsthand.
Fairy Tale Fail really is a cute book, one that has the right amount of fluff and life lessons for the everyday working girl. It’s very easy to relateFairy Tale Fail really is a cute book, one that has the right amount of fluff and life lessons for the everyday working girl. It’s very easy to relate to Ellie, the protagonist, with her fairy tale whims and romanticism. While I never had a Prince Charming like her, I knew the feeling of wanting to have a fairy tale romance, one where I have a set guide for who Prince Charming should be. I know about obsessing about a guy, and I sort of know how it feels to restoring yourself when experiencing a loss.
I have to admit that like Ellie, I think I’d also prefer to have a guy like Don, but I would find someone like Lucas intriguing. Out of my league, but very intriguing. Lucas and Ellie’s development was done gradually, and it was nice to see that it wasn’t a rushed romance — nothing is more disappointing than a rushed romance in a chick lit novel, I swear. Lucas seemed sexy, yet he had a good heart, even if he seemed a bit hard to see. I kind of wish I got to know more of him through the story, but since the story was told in Ellie’s point of view, we only know as much as she does.
Here’s my favorite part (a spoiler, so if you’re reading/planning to read this, skip this!):
“You think you’re funny,” I said ruefully. “I have no idea what my life is going to be like now.”
…”You told me that your life wasn’t all about work. That you had a lot of things you looked forward to when you got out of the office…Then that’s exactly what your life is going to be. You’ve still got your family, your hobbies, your friends, and none of that will change…And I’m probably going to, you know, start calling. Driving you home. Taking you to movies you hate…And then you’ll probably want to introduce me to your mom. Your nephew Dylan will love me because kids like me, and I’ll tell him about my brother’s job and our pirate story, and he’ll just be so attached to me. And then you’ll want me to go to church again, and we’ll probably discuss that at length. But I probably will go to church with you at least once, and it will be in your college church, to erase the memory of what that douche did there.”
Ah Lucas. Where can I find someone like you? ♥ Fairy Tale Fail is a fresh and cute story that’s sure to make you sigh and be kilig. :) ...more
I was one of those kids who believed in wishing on stars. My earliest memory of making a wish was when my brother told me abouFull review at Pinoy Pop
I was one of those kids who believed in wishing on stars. My earliest memory of making a wish was when my brother told me about the North Star, and I wished that I'd dream about Cinderella that night (I was pretty young then). Years later, my friends and I would wait for the first star to appear so we could make a wish before going home, but as time went by, I found it harder and harder to make a simple wish. I'd end up using my wishes (even birthday wishes) for some beauty pageant greater good, you know, like world peace. It's a part of growing up I guess, or a fear that I'd wish for the wrong thing and then it would come true. I needed to be sure that if my wish did come true, it would be one I wouldn't regret.
Sixteen-year-old Viola faces the same problem in Jackson Pearce’s novel, As You Wish. Viola has been feeling invisible ever since her best friend and boyfriend, Lawrence, broke up with her after confessing he was gay. His coming out of the closet catapulted him to popularity, and Viola’s heartbreak pushed her to the sidelines. For the next seven months, she spends most of her days observing the people around her, trying to figure out how they belong to their own groups and wishing that she could simply belong, like they did. Viola’s desperate wish summons a young and handsome genie with no name, bearing (what else?) three wishes. The genie is anxious to return to his home world (he ages in the human world) but the only way for him to go back is for his master to use up her wishes. However, Viola is terrified of making the wrong wish, so she asks for time, much to the genie’s chagrin. Refusing to treat the genie as a slave, Viola gives him a name, Jinn, and forces him to call her by her name instead of Master. And that's when things get complicated…Click here to read the rest of the review....more
Note: This is a very late review, I know. This was meant to be posted at Pinoy Pop, but because of some events, I'll jusOriginal post at One More Page
Note: This is a very late review, I know. This was meant to be posted at Pinoy Pop, but because of some events, I'll just post it here. Plus I need to have this up before I finally write my Mockingjay review. So...yay, finally this is up. This review is written without much references to Mockingjay so let's assume I don't know how the trilogy ends as you read this review. :)
Whenever the word sequel comes to mind, I know a lot of people often cringe. More often than not, people only have one question about sequels: how will it measure up? Sequels – be it in books or movies – are either a hit-or-miss, usually because of the high expectations set by its predecessor. Will the sequel live up to the fans’ expectations? Will it be everything that we loved in it and more? Or will it just disappoint?
Catching Fireby Suzanne Collins is one of those sequels. Released a year after The Hunger Games, Catching Fire was one of the most anticipated books to be released in 2009. While other fans who got the first book when it was released had to wait a year before they got to read it, I was lucky enough to be able to get a copy of Catching Fire at the same time that I got The Hunger Games. Call me a late bloomer, I guess, but it was a blessing in disguise because even if the first book didn’t end with a huge cliffhanger, the waiting time was reduced and I could just get into the action immediately.
If you haven’t read The Hunger Games, then this spoiler warning is for you. Catching Fire starts with the heroine Katniss Everdeen preparing for the Victory Tour with her fellow tribute Peeta Mellark after winning the 74th Hunger Games. Katniss thought winning the games would bring her life back to normal, but instead, it changed everything: Peeta remains cold to her after he found out that Katniss was just playing their romance for show, and her best friend Gale is aloof with her for reasons he knows why. Unknown to Katniss but revealed soon after, her final act at the Hunger Games that meant to save herself and Peeta has fueled the unrest in the other districts, and these rebels have made Katniss the symbol of their rebellion. Just in time for all this unrest is the 75th Hunger Games that is also the Quarter Quell: the rules of the games are changed, raising the stakes higher to remind Panem – and ultimately, Katniss – that the Capitol still owns them, no matter what.
I really didn’t have much doubt that Collins would deliver a great sequel, especially after some of my bookish friends have praised Catching Fire, but I tried to keep my expectations down as I read the book. I think that might have helped because, personally, I thought Catching Fire was all kinds of awesome. Katniss is back, and she was still as great as she was in the first book, fighting against fear and the people that threatened the safety of her family and friends. I liked Katniss more in The Hunger Games, but the sequel shows us a different side of Katniss now that she is thrown into a situation she did not expect would happen if she won the Games in the last book. Her confusion and fear is palpable, and I liked all the moments when she found strength somewhere in her to protect the ones she loves. It's almost like a maternal instinct, which I wouldn't doubt if it is given that she practically raised her family after her dad died. Katniss is still surly and not too charming here despite how she was being packaged to Panem, but she is still that same protagonist that fans of the first book would definitely root for.
This book also gave us more of a glimpse of the people around Katniss, particularly the two guys in her life, Peeta and Gale. In Hunger Games, there was more screen time for Peeta that people tend to gravitate to him instead of Gale. In the sequel, Peeta still gets more screen time but we get to see more of Gale, as much as Katniss sees him, anyway. Here we see and understand a bit more of Katniss and Gale's relationship, as well how Katniss depends on Gale. It's kind of hard to read Gale here at first, but we get a glimpse of how he has been hardened by what he has went through, and even more after what his best friend (and love, perhaps) has gone through. Peeta, on the other hand, really becomes the golden boy here, by the way he manages the pressure and invisible (at least to him in the early story) threat to Katniss. Later, he becomes the "most" protected, which puts him more on spotlight -- again. No wonder more people liked Peeta. :P These two boys provide good contrast over Katniss’ character in the story, and set the dynamics of their relationships is what set the scene in Catching Fire. These boys aren’t perfect, which is a breath of fresh air from all the seemingly perfect YA male leads.
The Peeta-Katniss-Gale love triangle is also one of the big ones that divided the fans into separate teams, akin to -- yes, I dare mention it -- Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga. Personally, I didn’t make a choice between the two. I like Peeta, but I’m (always) very partial to the best friend. In the end, though, I didn't really care who Katniss would choose, if she will choose. I felt like Katniss doesn’t feel the need to make a choice here. I don’t think she even really understood the weight of the affections of the two guys had for her, which can be frustrating to read, especially since she kept on swinging from one to another. I agree with Adele: Katniss can very well make a choice, but the thing is, will she? Can she make a choice? Does she have enough strength to choose one and let go of the other? Or will she just let romance go altogether? In a way, I can sort of understand Katniss' indecision. More often than not, it's easier to just not make a decision than decide and think of the what-ifs after the choice has been made. I'm pretty sure that is going on in Katniss' mind, and it didn't help that the Capitol is making it hard for her. Talk about really making it hard for her. Love is already hard, and life in Panem for Katniss just makes it harder. :P
But I think the real star of this novel in my opinion is not Katniss or Peeta or Gale, but the Capitol. All throughout the novel, I was trying to think of a justification why the Hunger Games was happening, specifically, why there was a need for a Quarter Quell. I know it’s already been introduced in the first novel, but the cruelty of the Quarter Quell just seemed too senseless that there has to be some kind of good reason why they had to do it. Perhaps I was just being naïve, but I wanted to find something good in the Capitol, to give some kind of justification for this...horror. But as I continued reading, I am always struck by how evil they really were, how senseless the games really were. This realization made me not only really hate the Capitol (and President Snow as the face of the Capitol) but also understand what The Book Smugglers said about dystopian novels having one unifying factor: the Truly Villainous Government. Think your government is bad? Wait till you live in Panem.
True to its title, Catching Fire is a fiery read. I think this may be the first time that I have loved the sequel more than I loved the first book. Re-reading it in preparation for Mockingjay didn’t change my initial opinions of it – in fact, it was even better the second time around. Catching Fire is truly a heart-pounding, explosive, adrenaline-inducing, page-turning read. Definitely my favorite among the three books. :)...more
I often rely on blog reviews whenever I’m getting a new book from an author that I don’t know. Okay, usually, I rely on covers (shallow, I know), butI often rely on blog reviews whenever I’m getting a new book from an author that I don’t know. Okay, usually, I rely on covers (shallow, I know), but that only works whenever the book is anything in the realistic genre.
So one day, I was browsing through one of the new favorite YA book blog sites I started reading lately, Persnickety Snark, and saw her review for Fire by Kristin Cashore. Back then, I was looking for fantasy books to read to start my fantasy reading resolution, and I added Fire and Graceling (the companion book) to my mental list. That same afternoon, my friends and I found the latter book, but my friend bought it, so I told myself I’d buy it when 2010 comes in.
A few days before Christmas, I was feeling a bit restless and felt the need to buy a new book, regardless of how many other books I still have lying unread at home (we have that day, right? :P ). I wanted to get Graceling, too, but instead found Fire, and went home with it despite my complaining wallet. :)
To put it simply, Fire was one of those books that I’m glad I bought on an impulse. It was one of those books that I couldn’t put down but I don’t want to rush reading simply because I didn’t want to leave the Dells too soon. I started reading this after Christmas and finished up until after New Year, which is already long for a book that I really loved.
So what did I really love about this book? Let’s see:
1. Characters. I’m a sucker for strong characters. I love it when the characters in a book all leave imprints in me, and that their voice are so distinct that I could tell who was speaking even without the identifiers in the text. Fire, as a protagonist, is a well-developed character, with her physical beauty that could make her own anything she wants and her compassion for the people around her that makes her not like a monster. Even her guard Musa was a real person to me, and she was just a minor character. Every character in this book is crafted so carefully and splendidly that I felt that I was inside the story, like I was one of the people who actually got to know Fire as a person and not a monster. 2. Plot. Fire isn’t the type of book that will make you keep on turning the pages. True, the story is captivating, but the story flows steadily, no actual highs or lows or quick action/battle parts that other novels have. It’s not that there’s no climax in this book — not like some other book I know hmph — it had one, but it didn’t consist of pages and pages of descriptions about the climax. The story flowed steadily. Every part of the novel was significant, and after a while, you’ll see the connection with all the little things mentioned in the previous pages. I don’t know about others, but I liked that. Why put a part in the story if it doesn’t have any significance, right? 3. Concept. I mean, human monsters who can make you do anything? Monsters that will eat monsters and if they don’t get that, they can make other creatures with brains go out and convince them to be eaten? How can people come up of these kinds of stories?!
So I’m glad I went on an impulse and bought Fire. It’s the companion book for Graceling, which means I kind of know some of the characters in Graceling already because of that, but it’s okay, I think. :D This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in 2010....more
I'm not a poetry person. When I was younger, I tried my hand at writing some poems because I wanted to be a writer. I stOriginal post at One More Page
I'm not a poetry person. When I was younger, I tried my hand at writing some poems because I wanted to be a writer. I started off with the poems with correct syllables and enough rhymes, and then I graduated to free verse poems which didn't have the same poetic tone that other poems I read do. When I got to college and joined our literary folio, I decided that I am not a poet, and while I appreciate some poems every now and then, I would really rather read prose.
I can't really remember why I joined the Goodreads contest for A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes. I think I was too excited to join giveaways then, and I was just clicking on "enter" whenever I see it's a genre or an author or even a publisher I'd like. I'm not always lucky with giveaways, so color me surprised when I found out I won this book. I got kind of hesitant when I found out that this was a novel in verse, but a free book is still a free book. Of course, the book was sent to my dad (and it kind of took forever to get there), and I wasn't able to get it until he stopped over in the country last weekend before heading to China for a company event.
A Girl Named Mister is a novel in verse about a 14-year-old girl named Mary Rudine, nicknamed "Mister" for her initials. She's your typical Christian teenager who grew up in church: she's a part of the choir, her best friends were from church and she believes in preserving her purity for marriage. Then she meets Trey, whose beautiful eyelashes captured her heart and eventually everything she has. As Mister struggles with her secret guilt and its seed, another Mary's story plays out. This teenage Mary has always been a good Jewish girl, and she was soon to be wed to Joseph. When an angel appears before her and tells her she would be a virgin mother, her world is turned upside down. Mister finds solace in this Mary, and as she gets to know more about her namesake, she finds out just how deep God's love and how big God's plans can be.
I breezed through this book in a night. Being written in verse, it was a quick and easy read, almost like I was reading some kind of Psalm. However, the issues it tackled weren't really easy. The story is as real as it can be, and I know it is happening to other teenage girls everywhere in the world. The good thing about this novel is how the author juxtaposed Mister's story with Mary's story. It was kind of hard to fathom at first how Mister, who bore the weight of her sin with her literally, could relate to Mary the mother of Jesus, whose pregnancy was divinely ordained. I liked how the author showed that even if Mister sinned, He still had a purpose for her and she is not a lost cause. It's easy to put God in a box and think that He cannot do anything about us when we do something bad. But as I've learned -- not only in this book but in real life -- His ways are higher than our ways, and He is bigger than whatever sin we can ever commit in this life. No matter how big the guilt is, His grace is still bigger and stronger and more powerful than that.
I also liked how real Mary came off in this book. It's easy to think that Mary as this sweet, solemn-faced woman who followed God's will without hesitation. In Nikki Grimes' novel, we see Mary's struggles as she accepted God's will, as she told Joseph and her parents about the angel's message and even her struggles as she carried Jesus in her womb. It's always nice to realize that even if Mary was set apart by God to carry His son, she was also still very human. This book helped me see another side of Mama Mary. I thought the author got it spot on with this particular part:
I always thought Mary had it easy, her knowing all along God was the one who wrote her story. Guess I was wrong. Turns out she needed God as bad as me. (p. 171)
A Girl Named Mister is a quick but not exactly an easy read. It made me cry and sigh, but in the end it made me smile as I, with Mister, realize the power of God's forgiveness, the grace of second chances and the depth of His love. :) Highly recommended....more