Sunday, January 08, 2017

To Be Read Challenge 2017

I am unofficially joining the 2017 To Be Read Challenge by Wendy the Super Librarian.

I have been reading the past 2 years, of course, but not blogging, though I post book thoughts on Goodreads so I might as well crosspost here.

My reading backlog is so high that I have taken to calling it Mount TBR. These books have been on the pile for at least a year, and even up to 4 years or more, so I decided to dust them off and read them, finally.

Expect sporadic updates over the next months!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

In Memoriam, Sir Terry Pratchett

I was leaving for the airport when I learned about the death of Sir Terry Pratchett, one of my favorite authors. I set aside my emotions for later because I was going to one of my dream destinations, and I knew I needed time to grieve.

My first introduction to the Discworld universe was a preloved copy of the first novel, "The Colour of Magic", that I found at my favorite secondhand bookstore. Pratchett wrote with humor and wit and heart, and it was always a pleasure and a mental exercise reading his works. Ask any Pratchett fan what their favorite novel of his is and the answers would probably vary. Some of mine are "Thief of Time" and "Nation" and "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" and "Only You Can Save Mankind".

Of all the storylines, I love the City Watch best, and it makes me sad that we will never read it in Pratchett's own words, if Captain Carrot really is the rightful King of Ankh Morpork, if Commander Vimes will mellow in his old age, or what unmentionables CMOT Dibbler will peddle next. Sergeant Colon and Corporal Nobbs will never again go on their rounds and shout "All is well", but Sir Terry will always live on on that flat disc supported by the backs of four elephants standing on a giant turtle hurtling through space.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Filipino Friday 2014, Week 1: Surprise, Reader!

Long time, no blog! Last post was one and a half years ago, but will try to be active for Filipino Readercon 2014's -

 Filipino Fridays

Hello, it’s the first week of Filipino Fridays 2014! Whether it’s your first time to participate or not, tell us a bit about yourself. More specifically, tell us about your favorite book discoveries for this year. Any author you started reading this year that you can’t get enough of? A book you didn’t think you’d like, but you ended up liking/loving? Any book series that you just have to get your hands on? Have you discovered anything new from Filipino authors this year?

Favorite Book Discoveries for 2014

The Rosales Saga by F. Sionil Jose

I don't read Filipino books much, so to address that deficiency I joined the read-along of this famous series at our book club Flips Flipping Pages (FFP). I read Sionil Jose's "Ermita" last year and liked the historical aspect but disliked the preachy tone at the end, so I didn't expect to enjoy these. I have yet to finish the last book but I am awed by the beauty and truth of Sionil Jose's words. He reminds me of the works of Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

This was last year's best read by Honey, another FFP member. I did not enjoy Hill's "Heart-Shaped Box" but decided to give this comic book series a try on her recommendation. A blend of mystery, fantasy, horror and suspense, I devoured this series.

Author I Can't Get Enough Of

TJ Klune from Dreamspinner Press. I read an anthology dedicated to him and his fiance Eric Arvin (another MM romance author) and got curious. I started with "Bear, Otter, and the Kid", the novel he is most known for, and had to read the next one, "Who We Are", immediately after, and the one after that, "The Art of Breathing". I like the intelligence of Klune's characters, and their acceptance of their weaknesses.

Book/s I Didn't Think I'd Like But Ended Up Liking/Loving

See "Favorite Book Discoveries" above. :)

Book Series I Have to Get My Hands On

I'm looking forward to reading
- "Edge of Eternity", the last book in Ken Follett's The Century Trilogy, and
- "The Blood of Olympus", the last book in Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus series.

I'm waiting for the conclusion to Justin Cronin's The Passage Trilogy, "The City of Mirrors", scheduled for release next year.

New Discovery from Filipino Authors

"Alternative Alamat", edited by Paolo Chikiamco. I love mythology, and I'm currently enjoying the different takes on our own gods and legends and beliefs.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon 2013

I owe at least 2 entries, one on the musical "Sa Wakas" and another on Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose", but they will have to wait because...

Today is Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon!

I first participated in the read-a-thon 2 years ago with my fellow Flippers, which was held at Libreria Bookstore. I finished 2 books, "Death by Garrotte: Looking Back 3" by Ambeth R. Ocampo and "Johnny and the Dead" by Terry Pratchett, but still haven't gotten around to finishing "Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt" by Barbara Mertz. :P

Flips Flipping Pages does Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon, April 2011
(That's me on the far right.)
(Photo courtesy of Don Taduran) 
This year I decided to participate again mainly to chip away Mount TBR. My list includes (in no particular order, and may change throughout the day) -
  1. "Soulless: The Manga, Volume 2" by Gail Carriger and REM - easy reading
  2. "George's Secret Key to the Universe" by Lucy & Stephen Hawking - thinking of donating this to a children's library but must read first
  3. "Dodger" by Terry Pratchett - comfort reading, because Pratchett never fails to be funny
  4. "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque - need to read this before month's end for the April Group Discussion on The Historical Fiction Group at Shelfari
No pressures though, which means I will still sleep and eat and do other things because it's a Sunday. :)

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Answers to the Introductory Questionnaire:
  1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Manila
  2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? "George's Secret Key to the Universe" :)
  3. Which snack are you most looking forward to? I honestly didn't prepare anything, but I've had half a glass of cold chocolate drink.
  4. Tell us a little something about yourself! I like lists. :) And smileys.
  5. If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I won't put pressure on myself like before but instead will relax and have fun. :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

book review: "Azincourt" by Bernard Cornwell

Bernard Cornwell

Azincourt (or Agincourt) is apparently one of the most famous battles in English history, but having no knowledge of the pre-Tudor era I had no idea what to expect. Yet Bernard Cornwell tells us about the famous battle only in the last 1/3 of the novel, instead focusing on the story of English archer Nicholas Hook and how he came to be part of la malheureuse journee ("the unfortunate day") for France on Saint Crispin's Day, 25 October 1415.

Cornwell has Hook hearing the voices of Saint Crispin and Saint Crispinian and guiding him, but I think this was underutilized in the development of his character. I felt no connection with him or any of the characters in the novel because despite the horrors they experienced, they still lacked depth.

Cornwell's descriptions of the siege of the port town of Harfleur and the Battle of Azincourt that followed were well-written. I never realized the strength and the importance of archers in battle. To give one an idea why Azincourt became legendary, here is an illustration of the battlefield (from The New York Times) -

However, I would have appreciated more information about the history of the enmity between England and France, and about the king who brought the Englishmen and Welshmen to war, Henry V.


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The 2013 Flips Flipping Pages Reading Diversity Challenge

Here is my reading list for -

(to be updated throughout the year)

as of 02/26/13: 7 of 25

1 Common Book (published 2013)
  • TBA
1 Umberto Eco
  • "The Name of the Rose"
1 Partner Challenge
  • TBA
3 Alternative Media (at least 1 audiobook)
  • "Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe" by Bill Bryson (audiobook)
  • "Blackout" by Connie Willis (ebook) - finished 01/10/13
  • "All Clear" by Connie Willis (ebook) - finished 01/14/13 
1 Foreign Award Winner
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card (Nebula Award for Best Novel 1985, Hugo Award for Best Novel 1986) - finished 02/26/13
1 Self-/Indie-Published Book: Foreign
  • "The Knife of Never Letting Go" by Patrick Ness (Candlewick Press) or
  • "Infernal Devices" by KW Jeter (Angry Robot Books)
1 Self-/Indie-Published Book: Local (Local Title #1)

1 Local Title #2: Non-Fiction
  • "Prehistoric Philippines: Looking Back 6" by Ambeth R. Ocampo 
1 Local Title #3: Award Winner
  • "Smaller and Smaller Circles" by F.H. Batacan (Palanca Grand Prize 1999, National Book Award 2002, Madrigal-Gonzalez Award 2003) - finished 01/21/13
1 Local Title #4: Filipino Dialect
  • "It's a Mens World" by Bebang Siy
1 Foreign Book #1: Asia (except the Philippines)

1 Foreign Book #2: Australia 
  • "Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks - finished 01/23/13
1 Foreign Book #3: North America (except USA)
  • "The Blind Assassin" by Margaret Atwood (Canada)
1 Foreign Book #4: South America 

1 Foreign Book #5: Europe (except England)
  • "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque (Germany)
1 Foreign Book #6: Africa
  • "Secrets from the Sand: My Search for Egypt's Past" by Zahi Hawass (Egypt)
1 Read-Along
  • "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" by Jules Verne
1 Poetry
  • "100 selected poems" by e.e. cummings
2 Non-Fiction

2 1001 Books to Read Before You Die
  • "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins - finished 01/09/13 
  • "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo (reread)
1 Graphic Novel
  • "Daytripper" by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon - finished 01/01/13

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

book review: "The Sunne in Splendour" by Sharon Kay Penman

Sharon Kay Penman

News of the discovery of Richard III's remains under a car park in Leicester, England prompted me to finally read this hefty novel.

Richard III is infamous as the king who had his brother Edward IV's son and successor Edward V and other son Richard, popularly known as the Princes in the Tower, killed while imprisoned in the Tower of London. He is the last king of England to have died in battle, in Bosworth Field in 1485, and the last Plantagenet king, after which the Tudor dynasty reigned.

I first read about Richard III in "The Daughter of Time" by Josephine Tey about 5 years ago, and was intrigued by the story of Richard and his nephews. Did he, or did he not, order their murder?

In this novel, as in "The Daughter of Time", the author tries to make a case for Richard III.  She chronicles his life and the life of his brother Edward IV, that of their family the House of York, and of their friends and supporters during the Wars of the Roses. Penman also shows us the other side of the coin, the House of Lancaster of Henry VI.

My thought throughout the novel was, "George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire has nothing to this!" It really happened; rebellions and factions and betrayals... I wonder if the Wars of the Roses inspired GRRM. Like ASoIaF, it was difficult to keep track of the characters at first, all the Edwards and Richards and Henrys and Elizabeths and Annes, that I had to look for a family tree online.

Having no previous knowledge of English history and not having read the play by William Shakespeare, my sympathy lies with Richard III. But I admit that these historical novels were written against popular belief, so I aim to read a non-fiction account, "The Princes in the Tower" by Alison Weir, in future.

For now, I remain loyal to the Whyte Boar of Gloucester.