Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best of Books in 2012

Best Read of 2012
my review here

The Rest of the Best
(in no particular order)

my review here

my review here

my review here

my review here

my semi-review here

The Year in Reading

In 2012, I
read 73 books,
bought 50 books,
spending a total of Php9,600+ on books,
and was gifted with 9 books;

an average of
6 books read per month,
4-5 books bought per month,
spending Php800+ on books per month.

4 more books read than last year,
40 less books bought than last year,
and Php5,000 less spent than last year. :)

I read 1.5 books for every book I bought.

Most read genre was fantasy,
followed by non-fiction,
then romance.

Most read author was Lisa Kleypas. :P

01 “I, Claudius” by Robert Graves
02 “Selected Poems” by Jorge Luis Borges
03 “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt

04 “Sexually, I’m More of a Switzerland: More Personal Ads from the London Review of Books” by David Rose
05 “Game of Thrones” by George RR Martin
06 “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
07 “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins
08 “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins
09 “Dirty Dancing: Looking Back 2” by Ambeth R. Ocampo
10 “A Clash of Kings” by George RR Martin

11 “A Storm of Swords” by George RR Martin

12 “Thunderstruck” by Erik Larson
13 “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” by Christopher Moore
14 “Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders” by Neil Gaiman
15 “Lincoln’s Dreams” by Connie Willis
16 “The Truth” by Terry Pratchett
17 “Those Who Hunt the Night” by Barbara Hambly

18 “The Son of Neptune” by Rick Riordan
19 “The Fifth Elephant” by Terry Pratchett
20 “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
21 “The Red Pyramid” by Rick Riordan
22 “The Throne of Fire” by Rick Riordan
23 “Snuff” by Terry Pratchett
24 “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

25 “The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World” by Eric Weiner
26 “Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife” by Francine Prose
27 “Trese: Murder on Balete Drive” by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo
28 “Trese: Unreported Murders” by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo
29 “The Acorn People” by Ron Jones

30 “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury
31 “Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites” by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson
32 “The Walking Dead Book 1: Days Gone Bye” by Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore
33 “The Walking Dead Book 2: Miles Behind Us” by Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore
34 “The Best of Chico and Delamar’s The Morning Rush Top 10”

35 “Heroes of the Valley” by Jonathan Stroud
36 “I Killed Adolf Hitler” by Jason
37 “The Bro Code” by Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn
38 “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell
39 “Tristes Recuerdos Manila” by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines
40 “The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines: A Pictorial History” by Ricardo T. Jose and Lydia Yu-Jose

41 “Chulalongkorn’s Elephants: Looking Back 4” by Ambeth R. Ocampo
42 “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery
43 “The Best of This is a Crazy Planets” by Lourd Ernest H. de Veyra

44 “Winter of the World” by Ken Follett
45 “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
46 “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs
47 “Soulless” by Gail Carriger
48 “Changeless” by Gail Carriger
49 “Blameless” by Gail Carriger
50 “Heartless” by Gail Carriger
51 “Timeless” by Gail Carriger

52 “I Am Legend” by Richard Mattheson
53 “11/22/63” by Stephen King
54 “Soulless: The Manga 1” by Gail Carriger & REM
55 “Bones of Contention: The Andres Bonifacio Lectures” by Ambeth R. Ocampo
56 “The Hobbit” by JRR Tolkien (reread)

57 “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” by Max Brooks
58 “Mine Till Midnight” by Lisa Kleypas
59 “Seduce Me at Sunrise” by Lisa Kleypas
60 “Tempt Me at Twilight” by Lisa Kleypas
61 “Married by Morning” by Lisa Kleypas
62 “Love in the Afternoon” by Lisa Kleypas
63 “Noli Me Tangere” by Jose Rizal, English translation by Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin
64 “Secrets of a Summer Night” by Lisa Kleypas
65 “A Christmas Journey” by Anne Perry
66 “Pure” by Andrew Miller
67 “The Mark of Athena” by Rick Riordan
68 “The Serpent’s Shadow” by Rick Riordan
69 “Devil in Winter” by Lisa Kleypas
70 “Scandal in Spring” by Lisa Kleypas
71 “Rizal’s Teeth, Bonifacio’s Bones: Looking Back 5” by Ambeth R. Ocampo
72 “It Happened One Autumn” by Lisa Kleypas

Friday, October 26, 2012

Neil Gaiman and All Hallows Read

2 years ago Neil Gaiman started a new tradition of giving away a scary book during Halloween, and this year he posted his list of recommendations.

The ones with a pink star are the ones I've read. Which means I have a lot of reading still to do. (Don't I always? ;P)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hallows reads

Confined (mostly) to bed since Sunday due to an upper respiratory tract infection, I had time to catch up on my reading, and since Halloween and All Souls' (Hallows') Day and All Saints' Day are coming up, I thought to read accordingly.

First was "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs. I can say that this is one of my best reads for the year, for the unusual presentation and the unusual story. I'm eagerly anticipating the sequel.

Then, finding my schedule will allow me to attend my friends' steampunk-themed (post-)Halloween party, I proceeded to get informed on the genre. I'm not sure mention of mechanical devices considered advanced for the Victorian period can be termed steampunk, but I am enjoying the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. It reminds me very much of my favorite Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. (Incidental?)

Here is my pile for the rest of the week and the next...


  • "Trese: Mass Murder" & "Trese: Last Seen After Midnight" by Budjette Tan & KaJO Baldisimo
  • "How to Live with a Unicorn: The Fantastic Guide to Keeping Mythical Pets" by Jane Moseley
  • "I am Legend" by Richard Matheson
  • "Pure" by Andrew Miller
  • "From the Dust Returned" by Ray Bradbury
  • "A Hat Full of Sky" by Terry Pratchett

Nothing too long, nothing too scary. Not a guarantee that I will read them, but I like having my options at the ready.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

ebook haul #2

I just bought a pile of books at the Manila International Book Fair last month...

... yet here I am again downloading another pile of ebooks...

... including Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy, which I have been looking for a copy of (both print and electronic) for months.

I did already finish one of the books I bought at the MIBF (Lourd de Veyra's "The Best of This is a Crazy Planets", which a friend had Lourd autograph for me :)), and am currently reading Ken Follett's "Winter of the World". :P

edit: 10/07/12
And a handful more...

Sunday, August 05, 2012

book review: "I Killed Adolf Hitler" by Jason


In a world where anyone can hire an assassin and killing people in public is commonplace, what happens when someone is commissioned to travel in time and eliminate Adolf Hitler?

The anthropomorphic animals and the violence may be unsettling to some, but Jason (pseudonym of Norwegian comic book artist John Arne Sæterøy) manages to tell a thought-provoking story about morality and love in less than 50 pages without spoon-feeding it to the reader. Well-deserving of the Eisner Award it received in 2008 for Best US Edition of International Material.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Filipino Friday 2: School of Reading

Another late post :P; this week's topic is School of Reading.


We all started reading somewhere, and more often than not, we were influenced by someone. Who got you into reading? Your parents? A friend? A librarian? One teacher who always lends out his/her books? How helpful was your school in helping your reading habit / fueling your book addiction?

My parents are not readers (unless it's the Bible for mother, and a newspaper for father), but I will forever be thankful that they encouraged the reader in me. It was my father who first taught me to read using this book (on the right), and posters and flashcards he made himself.

Some of my earliest and fondest memories of books were of A Child's First Library of Learning. I remember looking forward to the arrival of each volume every month, since my mother bought the series volume per volume from my nursery school teacher, Mrs. Lansangan. Mrs. Lansangan was the person who convinced my parents to enroll me in school at the young age of 4 years, so I have many things to be thankful to her for.

the 24 volumes of A Child's First Library of Learning

Another teacher stands out in my memory for turning me into even more of a literature lover - Mrs. Oblepias, one of my English teachers in high school. Because of her I read and loved "The Iliad" by Homer, "Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare, and "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo.

late 5th to early 6th century Iliad manuscript

From grade school to high school to college, the library was my favorite hangout. I am especially fond of my university's (old) Rizal Library, where I felt I had my own world inside my cubicle, with treasures in the shelves waiting for me to discover them.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Filipino Friday 1: Introductions

In a month's time it will be the 2nd Filipino ReaderCon.

I was unable to attend the first one last year due to hospital duty, and am unsure I can attend this year due to clinic duty, so I was happy to learn that I can still participate through the Filipino Friday meme.

This week's topic is Introductions.

As with every start of a weekly meme, we need to know a bit about you! Talk about your top 3-5 (or more!) favorite books of all time, the genres you read and would never read, the books that surprised you this year. You can also talk about how you became a reader and why you love it so much! And finally, if you were in the ReaderCon last year, talk about your experience too! If you weren’t there, but you’re planning to go this year, then what do you expect for the upcoming ReaderCon?

Firstly, I am Cecille, a doctor of internal, or adult, medicine. Because I almost always get asked after having studied thick tomes of medical books - no, I have not tired of reading. I was a reader first before I became a doctor. :)

My Favorite Books of All Time 

I have had many favorite books throughout the years, but the books that I have and will still read over and over, the ones that I would like stranded with me on a desert island, are...

"The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien

I remember a high school friend reciting the poem - "...One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them..." - from memory to me, but I first picked up the novel for myself in the year the first film in Peter Jackson's adaptation was released. And each served to enhance my love for both.

"The Stand" by Stephen King


I am a fan of Stephen King, but of all his works this is my absolute favorite. I love its post-apocalyptic setting, and its epic tone. But as with all his works, it is his characterization that I love the most.

My Favorite Genres
 History, both fiction and non-fiction, especially about ancient civilizations, the 19th century, and the two world wars, Mystery, Fantasy, and combinations of the above

I Avoid Reading...
I will probably read anything, but will not pick these up on my own - Sports Fiction, Techno-Thrillers, Westerns.

Book That Surprised Me This Year

"Lamb" by Christopher Moore
(click for my review)

I became a reader when... 
Ever since I can remember I have always loved reading, and I have to thank my parents for encouraging me by treating me to books whenever I did well in school.

1-year-old me "reading"

I love reading...
for many reasons, but primarily because it introduces me to different people, brings me to different places, and transports me to different times.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

looking for (hot) author of award-winning historical novels!

Being a fan of history books, non-fiction and fiction alike, I checked out The Guardian's Top 10 Best Historical Novels, and was struck by the phrases "the destruction of the church of Les Innocents and the clearance of its cemetery" and "major conflicts... between history and progress, remembering and forgetting". It was part of the list-compiler's description of "Pure" by Andrew Miller, winner of the 2011 Costa Book Awards.

I was intrigued, and read more. And learned that his first novel, "Ingenious Pain", whose main character reminds me of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from "Perfume" by Patrick Suskind, won several awards.

Also, Andrew Miller is hot (for a 52-year-old)!

How could I have not heard of him before? Well, the only thing to do is to rectify the situation and get my hands on the above books.

book review: "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I have seen this novel a couple of times at my favorite secondhand bookstore, but what finally made me buy a copy were the recommendations from members of The Historical Fiction Group at Shelfari.

Trying to rebuild their lives after the Second World War, writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from farmer Dawsey Adams, who lives on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel, asking her to recommend a book seller who would send him Charles Lamb's works. Thus begins the correspondence between Juliet and the other members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, and other characters that inhabit Juliet's life in London and Dawsey's life in Guernsey.

I finished the book in an afternoon, stopping near the end for a cup of tea and a tuna sandwich (I dislike cucumbers) to savor the book longer. I was charmed by Guernsey and its people. Each character's personality comes across in the letters he or she writes, making me mourn the disappearing art of letter-writing in this age of the internet. I especially empathize with Juliet, who at the age of 32 has mostly resigned herself to living a solitary life with her writing and her books, breaking off her engagement with a man who would dare empty her bookshelves and pack her books in boxes.

The story wanders, although Juliet remains the center, but that's how life happens; one can't impose order on it. Still, the novel affirms the fact that sometimes it is not the book that matters, but the company of people who enjoy books and reading as much as one does.


Friday, May 04, 2012

book review: "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

John Green

Have you ever read a book you had difficulty trying to tell other people about, because you feel that your words are inadequate to describe what the book meant to you, and you're afraid that your attempt might diminish its meaning, and afraid you would not be understood? "The Fault in Our Stars" is such a book. To say that it is about a girl with cancer who falls in love with a boy who also has cancer, and their experience living with cancer, is a simplification; It cannot convey the depths of a life aware of its nearing death, and its impact not only on the way that life is lived but also its impact on the lives around it.

I would recommend this book not only to people who have cancer or people who know people who have cancer, but also people who have a long-term illness and those who know them, and people who have had experience with death, which is all of us.


Monday, April 30, 2012


So I went on an ebook download spree...

Some of these titles are part of series I follow [Discworld, the Rick Riordan's], one is a book up for discussion at my book club, a handful are recommendations by friends, and the rest are books I've read good reviews of.

The Keys to the Kingdom is another series I want to try because I liked Garth Nix's previous work, the Abhorsen / Old Kingdom trilogy, and a friend says this is good.

Aside from the above, I still have several books on my download queue. Not to mention the ones already on my computer. :P

I currently read ebooks through iBooks on my iPhone. Small screen, I know, but it serves. I want to buy an ebook reader, but because I am not technology savvy I'm afraid of investing in a Kindle or a Nook.

Like bibliophiles that have come before me, I am beset by the eternal dilemma - "So many books, so little time."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

book review: "Lincoln's Dreams" by Connie Willis

Connie Willis

While doing research on Abraham Lincoln and his prophetic dreams, Jeff meets Annie, herself experiencing the Civil War in sleep, and tries to help her find meaning to her dreams.

I know next to nothing about the American Civil War, but it did not hinder me from enjoying Connie Willis' "Lincoln's Dreams". Annie's experience was gripping, and the story relevant.

We are conditioned to look up to our heroes on their pedestals, but we need to remember that they were human too. Even though they inspire us by their courage and with their triumphs, they also suffered loss and failure.

Jeff, turning down a job opportunity on studying the effects of the Vietnam War, says, "I haven't figured out the long-term effects of the Civil War yet." It seems that mankind has not even recovered from one war before he becomes involved in another. In the last century alone, we had World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq, with Afghanistan at the start of this century. Does no one understand that war does not solve anything? It is a waste of human lives and material resources. War does not resolve conflict, it only postpones it until the "losing" side musters strength to fight again. Which is a lesson mankind, sadly, seems slow to learn.


Monday, April 09, 2012

book review: "Lamb" by Christopher Moore

LAMB: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
Christopher Moore

The first Moore novel I read, "Fool", turned out to be my worst read of 2011, but I decided to give his work another chance before giving up on it for good. I especially reserved "Lamb" to read for Lent, expecting to dislike it, for pointless mentions of sex and for blasphemy, but I'm glad I gave Moore a second chance [although "Lamb" did have numerous mentions of sex].

"Lamb" tells us the story of Jesus', or Joshua in Hebrew, "lost years" from the age of 1 to 33, as told by his best friend Levi who is called Biff. It may be improbable, but given the little that is known about that period of time, who is to say that it was impossible? To enjoy the tale, one needs to view it not as a result of serious religious contemplation, but rather as entertainment.

However, the story is not only about Joshua, but about Biff. Biff represents the ugly in all of us, our lust, our envy, but he is also that part of ourselves who try to be better despite our failings. And Joshua is always there at our side to accept us as we are.

Ultimately I think "Lamb" is a story about friendship, loyalty, and love. Who else but a friend would follow you wherever you went, to try and protect you from harm, to support you and cheer you up, who would share your suffering, who would place your well-being first and his second? Anyone who has a Biff in their life is lucky, and should be grateful for that blessing.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 2012 book haul

Took a break from reading after finishing "A Storm of Swords", but not from book buying. :P

I'm looking forward to "Robbie Ross", because most articles focus on Oscar Wilde's relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, but this book also shows what happened to Oscar and his sons after the trial. "The Virgin's Lover" I have been looking for a copy of, because I want to read on Elizabeth I and Sir Dudley. Ditto "Those Who Hunt the Night", apparently a good vampire book. "The Man Who Loved China" I picked up because it touches on Ancient China, which I want to learn more about.

My friend Triccie's bookstore Libreria closed last Saturday, 24 March 2012, :( and I went there for one last hurrah.

I have (mostly) the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast to blame for getting me hooked on royalty. :P

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

book review: "A Storm of Swords" by George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin

In the aftermath of The War of the Five Kings, unexpected and uneasy partnerships form among the characters, making the reader re-examine his/her opinions of them. And by the end of this installment, Martin has managed to remove several of his pieces from the board, to make way for new players.

For the first time in the span of three books, I finally like Daenerys Targaryen. And if I didn't already love Jon Snow, I would love him for his defense of Castle Black, which reminded me of the Battle of Helm's Deep in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Two Towers".

But I can't believe I spent nearly a month in Westeros and its environs, reading books 2 and 3 of "A Song of Ice and Fire". I think it's time for me to move on. Who knows when I might return?


Sunday, March 11, 2012

corner bookmarks, and A Song of Ice & Fire map

These corner bookmarks were inspired by instructions from I Could Make That.

So I'm currently halfway through "A Storm of Swords", and here is a great map I recently saw -

A Song of Ice and Fire Speculative World Map by theMountainGoat