May 21, 2013

In My Mailbox: Books Are Awesome Gifts

I’m not an excellent gift giver. It is a proven fact to most people to whom I assume received my gifts. I don’t normally go and shop gifts. I usually ask my mom, sister or my dearest friends which item is decent—not excellent—to be given as a gift. But what makes a gift awesome for me? I don’t know, but the best gift for me is a bag full of books. Who will say “no” for that!

My mom and I went to the nearest mall to buy a gift for a friend’s son. Well, what happened? I hoard books while my mom looking for a gift but end up giving half of my hoarded books. I don’t like to be mean to a one-year old child, but I want my cute books back! For now, I will stick to half of my hoarded books.

Mom, you will pay for this.
  1. One Day by David Nicholls – I’m very happy that I found a copy. I know, I know. I don’t really like to read this for one reason, this is known in the TFG circle that the book is recommended by a matronic reader. Hilariously true! But she made my day and because of that, I’ll push this book up in my TBR. [₱127.00; Booksale – KCC Mall of Marbel; May 9, 2013]
  2. Leaving Home: A Novel by Anita Brookner – I bought this because of the tempting price and Anita Brookner’s Booker Prize-Winning Hotel Du Lac. Have anyone read Hotel Du Lac? Was it good? [₱50.00; Booksale – KCC Mall of Marbel; May 9, 2013]
  3. Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer by Lynne Cox – I’ve read Lynne Cox’s Grayson last two years ago. It was a thin book and it was a heart-warming autobiography of her seventeen-year old self and how she saved a baby whale in the nearby coast of California. Again, Booksale never disappoints me if we talk about the price. Anyway, Lynne Cox’s works are scattered everywhere if you only dig books. [₱25.00; Booksale – KCC Mall of Marbel; May 9, 2013]
  4. A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard – I’ve been looking for this since 2011 but I found a cheap mint copy. I think that was my lucky day. Hooray for book hunters. If I could still remember, Amazon featured this book before it was released. So I think buying this is like buying a good read. Plus, people in Goodreads loved the book. [₱115.00; Booksale – KCC Mall of Marbel; May 9, 2013]
  5. Mourning Diary: October 26, 1977–September 15, 1979 by Roland Barthes, t. Richard Howard – I found this beneath the stocks of old books. None of my local friends owned it. The reason I purchased the book is because of the sober entries. Yes, I checked the inside before buying it because I never heard of the author. If you can find one, I suggest buying it. Although it’s quiet pricey for an unknown author the entries are worth reading. I skimmed it while waiting for my mom though. [₱145.00; Booksale – KCC Mall of Marbel; May 9, 2013]
  6. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier – This is one of our unsuccessful buddy reads with Paolo and Phoebe and soon more lost documented book chats. Chevalier’s attempt in creating a new dimension to masterworks made her famous. I've read Chevalier’s The Lady and the Unicorn and it was an awesome read. I think picking this one up is another Chevalier’s time teleporting reads. [₱45.00; Booksale – KCC Mall of Marbel; May 9, 2013]
  7. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle – I can’t believe the cute kid on the cover won the 1993 Booker Prize! [₱45.00; Booksale – KCC Mall of Marbel; May 9, 2013]
  8. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – I recommend this book to a stranger but he did not listen so I’m giving this book to a friend because he write short stories hoping to read his works soon. I don’t like to waste Lahiri’s book and I am sure he will like it more than I did—or maybe not. We don’t know but I’m still hoping. [₱75.00; Booksale – KCC Mall of Marbel; May 9, 2013]
And my mom pay for everything!

I exclude the books I bought intended for my friend’s son but in the end of that day, I was happy and perplexed enough to carry them. Overall, I have books to read and I have books to give. I don’t have any words left to explain what I felt that day but only the memories of digging treasures.

May 17, 2013

Week 19: The Approaching Hurricane Katrina

Reading hurricane Katrina in the middle of a desert is as magnificent as taking a shower but Hurricane Katrina reminds me of one of my unbelievable experiences in Manila. I said unbelievable, not worst because things changed after the storm. I believe that tropical storm Ondoy is Katrina’s little brother after all what they have done, they still exist and traveling the globe at 74 mph. What if... what if Ondoy give us a lesson that we will never forget? Do you believe that the existence of such storm can change oneself forever?

Salvage the Bones
by Jesmyn Ward

Read from April 28 to May 06, 2013 — I own a copy, read count: 1

A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. He's a hard drinker, largely absent, and it isn't often he worries about the family. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; at fifteen, she has just realised that she's pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pit bull's new litter, dying one by one. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child's play and short on parenting. 
As the twelve days that make up the novel's framework yield to a dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family—motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce—pulls itself up to face another day.

Salvage the Bones took us to Mississippi where a family is in struggle to take their ties close to each other. Salvage the Bones, written by 2011 National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, received claims from book critics and community reviewers all around the world with her brilliant, beautiful and fierce novel of her time.

If you like slow pace books, this will work for you. Jesmyn Ward’s dreamy writing style made her characters indecisive selves and the mysterious Bois Savage prominent in the story. Which is which? The story asked which decision should be made and which part of their lives should be changed. The story’s prose made it hard to read. To pass through the story, you have to prepare yourself from the obstruction of commas. The commas made me uneasy but the commas gave beauty to her work. The style need more time to read but the experience is worth the wait.

The dog fight almost known to be the issue of most readers. The scene gives us the glimpse of how cruel underground dog fights are. It is part of the culture. It is part of how those people in the story make living out of their least resources. It gives the story credibility. The scene which we least expected made the story a whole. It gives the meaning of everything. It is the star of the show; the premise of the book. Skeetah’s dog symbolizes the family as they one by one drifted off from their ties.

As hurricane Katrina approaches the Mississippi, the individuals prepared for their greatest test. Love will appear in the midst of all unexpected events. Jesmyn Ward courage to face her fear in the past gave her the strength to write a tough book.

Jesmyn Ward, winner of 2011 National Book Award, is a must watched author.

Jesmyn Ward grew up in DeLisle, Mississippi. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won five of the school’s esteemed Hopwood Awards for essays, drama, and fiction. Ward was the recipient of a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford and is currently the John and Renée Grisham Visiting Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, was an Essence Magazine Book Club selection, a Black Caucus of the ALA Honor Award recipient, and a finalist for both the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

May 14, 2013

In My Mailbox: Ninjutsu Master

Hoarding is like getting out of your daily nightmare but it seems that my addiction is gradually losing. Does it mean I’m ready to face my nightmare? Sounds good to me and I think saving money is the next best thing. I went to my usual favorite spot and bought a book while waiting for my mom to take her regular weekly groceries. I know, we consume too much goods per week and I’m hoping that coupons are available in the Philippines or my mom would be the next extreme couponer.
  1. Dancing to “Almendra” by Mayra Montero, t. Edith Grossman – I only bought this because it reminds me of the Diversity Challenge the Flippers are currently hosting. I still need South American author but I have Llosa, Marquez and Fuentes on my list yet the price is tempting. Of course, I also notice Edith Grossman and her credibility of translating famous Spanish works. Well, she did great with Marquez’s and Llosa’s books if I could still remember reading Marquez’s Memories of My Melancholy Whores and Llosa’s positive Goodreads’ community reviewers. [₱35.00; Booksale – KCC Mall of Marbel; May 6, 2013]
The truth, I was in a hurry because I don’t want my mom see me buying books again. Sometime I really have to hide but I know, she knows, that I can’t go to the nearest mall without entering any bookstores. Besides, I did purchase books last week. Being a hoarder is like being a ninja without noticing that you are in fact a natural master of ninjutsu.

May 07, 2013

Week 18: Benjamin Franklin and His Amazing Inventions

You can turn your boring summer into something adventurous without spending money by rereading old, dusty books while drinking freshly brewed mint tea. Something you dreamed before the end of school term but don’t have the bragging rights because you don’t have the credits to spend it for your dream summer vacation. Well, this is the right time to free from your anxiety, reread books this summer and brag about it!

The Maze of Bones (The 39 Clues, #1)
by Rick Riordan

Read from April 30 to May 01, 2013 — I own a copy, read count: 2

A million dollars… or a clue

What would happen if you discovered that your family was one of the most powerful in human history? What if you were told that the source of the family’s power was hidden around the world, in the form of 39 clues? What if you were given a choice—take a million dollars and walk away… or get the first Clue? If you’re Amy and Dan Cahill, you take the Clue—and begin a very dangerous race.

As much as it bothers me to reread books, this book still amazes me until the end. I can feel Riordan’s style into the book as much as I wanted to compare it to Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. This is a good start to make Riordan the leading author in The 39 Clues arc and to make my statement clear, Riordan’s popularity and good writing style topped the first book in the series leading readers to read the other books in the arc written by different awesome authors.

But what made The 39 Clues different from the other series I’ve read is the freshness of the story that could drive young and fascinating adult readers and to indulge them into the lives of the well-known historical names. Of course, what will be the reason of writing a boring historical book for children if we could write it with fascinating facts and action-packed adventure to find the next clue? It’s thrilling and it’s fun, right? This is just another work of Riordan that will well work with Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ fans and all.

The problem with rereading: there is nothing new to offer. Although it is a reread, still it amazes me until the end.

For the Cahill siblings, good luck and be the victor of the race!

Rick Riordan is the author of the New York Times #1 best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife and two sons. To learn more about Rick, visit his Web site at

May 03, 2013

Required Reading: May 2013

Philippines is getting hotter and so do the books I’m requiring myself to read for the month of May. Required books of the month are not as fancy as it seems. I don’t read books regularly under this genre but who dares not to challenge oneself, right? It seems that I’m way ahead of my quantity challenge and the month of May is a good start to read books that requires much energy to finish. So here comes the spaceship from the galaxy.

  1. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne – I don’t bother to read this since I've started skimming the first few chapters and the Oxford edition is quiet good in making bad translations awesome but what bothers me is the denizens who never stopped recommending Verne’s books.
  2. Foundation by Isaac Asimov – As much as your ass is tight, I don’t use foundation and I don’t enjoy reading textbooks.
  3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – I think this is the right time to read The Filipino Group’s Book of the Month of January. I’m sure the rough days are over.
  4. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson – Never heard of Neal Stephenson before but I’m sure Flippers are talking about avatars. You mean the movie Avatar? I’m sure it’s not.

Science fiction for the month of May, am I joking? Of course I am aware that the Earth’s end is near and I foresee that May is the month of reckoning. I’m sure nobody believes that and I’m sure I was just freaking you guys. The truth is Flips Flipping Pages is having their second read along this May and the last time I joined, I failed to finish Haruki Murakami’s very dull and thick book, 1Q84. For Flippers, the month of May is the month to celebrate science fiction with co-readers.

For the moms around the world, Happy Mother’s Day!