Sunday, February 26, 2012

book review: "A Clash of Kings" by George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin

The title of the second book in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series is truly apt. In "A Clash of Kings", we are treated to a battle between brothers and wars among factions, with only the Night's Watch recognizing and standing against the common enemy, the creatures beyond the Wall.

It is difficult to write a review without giving away spoilers, so let me just say that after reading "A Game of Thrones" and having experienced how Martin writes, nothing should surprise you. Betrayals abound in this book.

I like this part more than I did the first, I think because I have become emotionally invested in the characters. I have come to really care about what happens to them, especially House Stark. And because of that my next read will be "A Storm of Swords".


Friday, February 24, 2012

book diaries

book diaries, 2006 to present

It all started with a blank journal, and a love for writing down memorable lines from books.

book quotes, circa 2006-2007

Then, in the second half of 2008, I was inspired during a monthly book discussion by fellow book club member Marie to keep an actual book diary.

first book diary entry, on "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova

I started to write down not only my favorite lines from books, but also my thoughts during and after reading, as well as interesting trivia encountered along the way. At the end, I gave each book a rating, ranging from 1 to 5 stars.

book rating system

I also started to keep track of the books I acquired and the consequent expenses, and made a summary at the end of every month.

monthly summary (left & bottom right) and
book acquisition list & expenses (top right)

And because I love lists lists lists, I also wrote down my reading targets for the year.

book list for the Flips Flipping Pages Reading Diversity Challenge 2009

I also made a year-end summary and, for the past couple of years, a list of my top reads for the year.

top 10 reads for 2010

Browsing through my old book diaries, I was amused to realize that I am fond of genealogies. :) The most difficult and convoluted family tree I have made thus far has been for the Julio-Octavian family from Robert Graves' "I, Claudius". If only I knew about the one on Wikipedia beforehand. :P
family trees through the years

I used to ask friends for lined journals for Christmas, but now I've stocked a handful on my own for future use.
 blank journals

Keeping a book diary has allowed me to relive the experience of past books read, without having to read the book again.

And now, a new entry awaits...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

book review: "The Hunger Games" trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in place of her younger sister as District 12's female tribute in the country's hunger games, an annual survival-of-the-fittest, and becomes entangled in a bigger game with higher stakes.

Oft compared to the Japanese film "Battle Royale", the series, composed of three books - "The Hunger Games", "Catching Fire", and "Mockingjay" - goes further than the brutality and horror of "kill or be killed" and focuses on the characters and the world that produced the games. It feels like a coming-of-age story, except the reader knows that Katniss grew up before her time in the name of survival.

The best book in the trilogy for me is "Mockingjay". I think it is the most real of the three books. It shows us that we don't always get what we want. People sometimes come to hate the ones they love. And love does not make our family and friends immune to suffering and death.

Heroes die. Winning the war does not mean that things will immediately become better. It may take years, even generations, for true change to be felt. But as long as there is life, one must not give up.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Panem Map

I started reading "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins last night in preparation to seeing the film adaptation (to be released locally at SM Cinemas on March 21, 2012), and look what I found online!

Map of Panem by aimmyarrowshigh & badguys

I'm only on Chapter 7, but I'm sure this will be helpful later on.

book review: "A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin

I like fantasy novels, but I'm the type of reader who won't touch a "popular" book until the hype has died down. However, since my book club Flips Flipping Pages will be discussing "A Game of Thrones" this month, I thought it was time I read it.

From the beginning of the novel the reader is presented with the challenge of keeping track of the numerous characters and their relationships with each other. Thank God for the appendix at the end. And it seems from the way AGoT is written, from the points-of-view of different characters, that Martin wants his readers to empathize with House Stark. Or it could just be me.

Once King Robert Baratheon arrives at Winterfell, one has a foreboding of terrible times to come, especially after a certain likeable character has an unpleasant "accident". My experience throughout the novel was that of a helpless spectator to a tragedy; you can't keep your eyes off the carnage.

A lot of things happen in the book, but once you reach the end it feels like everything was simply a setup for the rest of the series (of which there are currently 4 books, not including this one, out of a projected 7). Yet you can't help but read the next book in line. And watch the TV series.

Aside: For those who have read Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy, the Wall of Westeros reminds me of the Wall between the Old Kingdom and Ancelstierre. Even the supernatural beings (the Others vs. the Dead Hands and Free Magic elementals) feel similar. Coincidence?


Monday, February 06, 2012

February 2012 book haul

Last month I discovered that there was a post office beside the university 4 blocks away from my house, so this morning I went there to send a postcard. And since I was already outside the house, I visited the bargain bins of the 2 bookstores nearby. And look at my haul!

"Wolf Hall" has been in my wish list for some time since Honey of Flips Flipping Pages (the book club I belong to) mentioned it as one of her all-time favorite books. And ever since I read Philippa Gregory's "The Other Boleyn Girl", I've been hooked on the Tudors. I think it would be interesting now to read the story from the viewpoint of one of the people who surrounded and influenced the royal family.

I was equally happy to find Connie Willis' first novel "Lincoln's Dreams", which won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Willis' "To Say Nothing of the Dog" is one of my favorite novels; I love the way she mixes science fiction (time travel) with history, although the history is more apparent in "Doomsday Book". Both novels are multi-award winners, which is saying something, so I always look forward to reading Willis' works. And would you believe I got "Lincoln's Dreams" for just Php5 (~$0.12)? :)

"Sexually, I'm More of a Switzerland: More Personal Ads from the London Review of Books" by David Rose, I picked up because it promised to be funny. And it was! Hopefully more on it on a review post.

Lastly, 2 copies of "Terry Pratchett's Hogfather: The Illustrated Screenplay", for friends.

Today's total = 5 books = Php179 (~$4.20) :)

Friday, February 03, 2012

book lockets

from Junk Studio... 

Thinking of having one made of "The Lord of the Rings". :)

2011 Reads

19 more than my annual target of 50 books, so I'm pleased. :)

2011 Reads

01. "Pardonable Lies" by Jacqueline Winspear
02. "Dust and Shadow" by Lyndsay Faye
03. "The Fourth Bear" by Jasper Fforde
04. "Makamisa: The Search for Rizal's Third Novel" by Ambeth R. Ocampo
05. "Earthly Joys" by Philippa Gregory


06. "Where's My Cow?" by Terry Pratchett
07. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 1: The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan
08. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 2: The Sea of Monsters" by Rick Riordan
09. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 3: The Titan's Curse" by Rick Riordan
10. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 4: The Battle of the Labyrinth" by Rick Riordan
11. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 5: The Last Olympian" by Rick Riordan
12. "The Swan Thieves" by Elizabeth Kostova
13. "Blindness" by Jose Saramago

14. "Death by Garotte: Looking Back 3" by Ambeth R. Ocampo
15. "Johnny and the Dead" by Terry Pratchett
16. "Blankets" by Craig Thompson
17. "The Queen's Fool" by Philippa Gregory

18. "Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code" by Eoin Colfer
19. "The Artemis Fowl Files" by Eoin Colfer
20. "Lord John and the Hand of Devils" by Diana Gabaldon
21. "The Museum Vaults" by Marc-Antoine Mathieu
22. "Shakespeare: The World As Stage" by Bill Bryson
23. "The Lost Hero" by Rick Riordan
24. "Fool" by Christopher Moore
25. "Slaves and Obsession" by Anne Perry
26. "Where Poppies Grow" by Linda Granfield

27. "Tokio Hotel Fever" by Beatrice Nouveau
28. "Going Postal" by Terry Pratchett

29. "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson
30. "Boy Meets Boy" by David Levithan

31. "Angels in the Gloom" by Anne Perry
32. "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote
33. "Doomsday Book" by Connie Willis
34. "Life As We Knew It" by Susan Beth Pfeffer
35. "The Dead and the Gone" by Susan Beth Pfeffer
36. "This World We Live In" by Susan Beth Pfeffer

37. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson
38. "Mort: A Discworld Big Comic" by Terry Pratchett, illustrated by Graham Higgins
39. "The Woman in Black" by Susan Hill
40. "Which Witch?" by Eva Ibbotson

41. "Nation" by Terry Pratchett
42. "Shoulder the Sky" by Anne Perry
43. "We Shall Not Sleep" by Anne Perry
44. "Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance" by Gyles Brandreth
45. "Talking About Detective Fiction" by P.D. James
46. "Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile" by Gyles Brandreth

47. "Kimi Shiruya - Dost Thou Know?" by Satoru Ishihara
48. "La Esperanca 1" by Chigusa Kawai
49. "La Esperanca 2" by Chigusa Kawai
50. "La Esperanca 3" by Chigusa Kawai
51. "La Esperanca 4" by Chigusa Kawai
52. "La Esperanca 6" by Chigusa Kawai
53. "Dear Myself" by Eiki Eiki
54. "Johnny and the Bomb" by Terry Pratchett
55. "Dead Until Dark" by Charlaine Harris
56. "Living Dead in Dallas" by Charlaine Harris
57. "Night Pleasures" by Sherrilyn Kenyon
58. "Antique Bakery 3" by Fumi Yoshinaga
59. "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" by Herge

60. "Fall of Giants" by Ken Follett
61. "Antique Bakery 2" by Fumi Yoshinaga
62. "Seventy-Seven Clocks" by Christopher Fowler
63. "The Twisted Root" by Anne Perry
64. "A River in the Sky" by Elizabeth Peters
65. "Death of a Stranger" by Anne Perry
66. "The Shifting Tide" by Anne Perry
67. "Dark Assassin" by Anne Perry
68. "Execution Dock" by Anne Perry
69. "Silence in Hanover Close" by Anne Perry

Best Reads of 2011