Monday, December 8, 2014

Required Reading 2014: December

It's the final required reading post for the year! I have plans to change it up a little next year since the creator of the original meme has, for the meantime and because of work constraints, taken a hiatus from book blogging. It will still be the same reading lists that I come up with every month (because I find it fun choosing books to read and taking photos of them too, haha) so it's just a little tweaking with the name and feature images. :)

image source

How's December treating everyone? As I write this, the metro is bracing for the arrival of typhoon Ruby (international name: Hagupit) as it traverses the island of Luzon from the Visayas. Stay safe and keep dry if you can, friends, and let's prepare for the worst.

So how did my November reading go? I went on a Gaimaniac reading month last month, so let's find out what happened:

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, A History

by Lewis Buzbee

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, A History condenses the bibliophile’s life led by the author, Lewis Buzbee, from the time he discovered the beauty and wonder of the written word, to the time he first held a job at a small bookstore, up to the time he built his entire career on books, publishing, and bookstores. It is a series of essays that talked about books, the bibliophile, the beloved bookstore, and other facets of life related to or about books.

It was very interesting to read about something from a bookseller’s perspective. Buzbee is not only a wide reader; he is also largely involved in the sales and marketing aspects of books and is very knowledgeable about statistics and such. Being strictly and purely a reader, with only the vaguest idea of the process a book goes through once the manuscript leaves the hands of the writer and undergoes the procedure of mass production, I found this book replete with information for the unacquainted. It is filled with anecdotes and short stories of the author’s experiences throughout his book-filled life.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Brotherly Love

by Jhumpa Lahiri

Brotherly Love is a novella from one of my favorite authors, Jhumpa Lahiri, published in The New Yorker in June last year. I came across the novella while I was searching for a short story to feature over at The Short Story Station last month. While in the end, I decided to use other short stories for the said purpose, I thought I'd read Brotherly Love anyway, and I wasn’t surprised to find that I loved it.

Image from The New Yorker

Brotherly Love is about brothers Subhash and Udayan who live in Calcutta, India with their parents. While Subhash was the quiet, complacent one, Udayan was the opposite: he was a mischievous, frisky little boy who had the penchant to get himself and his older brother into trouble, even defiant to a certain extent. Still, the siblings loved and cherished each other. They grew up in the streets of Calcutta but later in life, their own choices brought them physically and emotionally apart: Subhash continued his studies in the United States while Udayan was left in India and became involved in leftist activities that put his life and his parents in danger.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So it was my first time to Komikon...

last weekend, and to be honest, I really wouldn't have gone were it not for the fact that this year's Filipino Reader Conference - at least, the second day thereof - is co-located with the Komikon at the Bayanihan Center, and our book club's face-to-face (F2F) discussion for this month is scheduled as part of the Filipino ReaderCon's book discussions. Don't get me wrong: I read graphic novels (loving Neil Gaiman's Sandman series!), but I am not that hardcore. So my main purpose in going to the Komikon, really, was to attend our book club discussion; we talked about Eliza Victoria's latest offering, Dwellers.

Most of the attendees were from our book club, The Filipino Group (TFG), and there were attendees from Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books (PRPB) as well. After the usual preliminaries where we introduced ourselves (mandatory even if we all already know each other), individually rated the book (average rating would be 4 stars, I think), and picked a person, living or dead, with whom we'd switch bodies for one day (I picked PNoy so I could tender my irrevocable resignation as president), we talked about the book. I'm better at summarizing things through bullet points, so here's what happened during the discussion, in bullet points (at least the ones I can still remember):

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Shorts: Eliza Victoria's Fiction

One of my favorite local authors is Eliza Victoria. I first encountered her through her story contribution, Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St., in the Philippine mythology-inspired short story compendium Alternative Alamat, back in 2011. Her story was the very first one in the collection composed of stories contributed by various authors, and it was a perfect opening salvo to what I would later find to be an amazing book. After that, I read Eliza’s own short story collection, A Bottle of Storm Clouds: Stories, in 2012, and I was officially a convert.

I read three of her published works this year: Project 17, Dwellers, and Lower Myths.


Project 17 had a 1984-ish feel to it, with a Filipino flavor. Set in the not-so-distant future, the novel is about Lillian, a college student who was looking for a babysitting job for the summer. She responds to the advertisement of a man named Paul Dolores, who needed someone to look after his younger brother, Caleb, who was suffering from a “schizoaffective disorder” and required help with his medication. While working for the brothers, Lillian discovers things about them that simply just didn’t make sense. She should have just minded her own business, but then there wouldn’t be a story now, would there?

The technological advances and science fiction concepts that were factored into this work were a welcome change from Eliza’s usual horror or mystery/suspense fares. Project 17 had the Zoners, Sentries, and Cleaners, among others, that are reminiscent of George Orwell’s futuristic (back then) 1984, and I loved how sci-fi elements were incorporated into the Philippine setting. As you read through it, you may even forget that this is a Filipino novel were it not for the mention of Bulacan, or Metro Manila, or other things and people that are distinctly local.

As with all works written by Eliza Victoria, I love how this was narrated, with special mention to the witty, oftentimes snarky, exchanges between the characters. I have always envied people who can come up with witty retorts when needed, and there is an abundance of that here, with Lillian and her friends.

Read in January 2014
Rating: ★★★★
Book Details: Brand-new, trade paperback from Visprint Publishing

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"Fall Like Rain" by Ana Tejano: Blog Tour [Excerpt Reveal]

It's been a while since I've signed up for book blog tours mainly because I find that I don't have a lot of extra time these days. But now I'm setting aside some time to join this particular blog tour because Fall Like Rain is the debut novella of my very good friend Ana Tejano.

It's the third day of the blog tour, and I'm glad you've found your way over here!

Rain De Castro has been in love with her best friend, Mark Velasco, for almost the entire time she has known him, but she’s clearly in the friend zone because he’s happily in a relationship. Or so she thought, until the news of his break-up reaches her. Now that Mark’s single again, she decides that it’s time to get out of the zone. But when her cousin Lissa comes into the picture and sets her eyes on Mark, Rain feels troubled when he gets a little too friendly with her. Rain is determined to fight for what she feels this time, but is it worth the effort if it's a losing battle from the start? Will she back off to give way for her best friend's happiness, even if it means losing him to someone else again?

Have you gotten yourselves a copy of Fall Like Rain already? It's available in digital format, and orders are being accepted right now for print copies, too!

Or, perhaps you haven't totally decided yet? To help you decide, here's an excerpt from the book that's sure to pique your curiosity.

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