Friday, July 24, 2015

Happy 4th, marginalia!

Aaand my little book blog turns 4 today. Happy anniversary to us!

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A few days ago, I announced a book giveaway in celebration of this milestone. I asked readers and/or participants to name a book they think should win an award (any bookish award!) but didn't, for whatever reason. I also qualified that the giveaway is open only to Philippine residents and non-robots, which in my book means someone who is not a stranger. (Hey, it's my giveaway; I have the final say on this matter, yes?)

Anyway, the deadline for entries was at 11:59 pm yesterday, and there are four valid entries:


I commissioned the help of my darling daughter in picking the winner because I didn't want to use a randomizer this year. So, without further ado, here's the winner of this year's giveaway:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Maltese Falcon

by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon was the book club's book for the month of June. I missed the actual discussion but I had fun reading it and talking about it online with the folks at the book club.


Set in 1920s San Francisco, The Maltese Falcon is a hard-boiled detective noir story. The main protagonist is Sam Spade, the detective hired by femme fatale Brigid O'Shaughnessy to tail a certain Floyd Thursby, who allegedly kidnapped her sister. The story is fake, though, and when Miles Archer, Spade's partner, was shot to death while he was on Thursby's trail that same evening, Spade will discover what Brigid has actually hired him for: to trace the location of the invaluable Maltese Falcon, a historical artifact. While Spade hunts down the Falcon, however, he is also hunted down not only by the police, who have him figured out as prime suspect for the killing of both Thursby and Archer, but also by devious characters who would do anything to get the Falcon first.

*

The Maltese Falcon is a short and easy read. It was fast-paced and dialogue-heavy, which I think is effective for a plot-driven work such as a detective story. The characters were all interesting, especially Joel Cairo, the queer crook who was after the Falcon - among others. Brigid O’Shaughnessy managed to annoy me from her first appearance up until the end, while Spade himself came off as a mystery, as his real feelings and thoughts were not apparent. In fact, because Spade’s point of view was conveniently concealed, the reader is left to speculate on his sense of morality and opinion on things. Thus, from the characters alone, The Maltese Falcon worked for me.

Monday, July 13, 2015

It's marginalia's 4th anniversary soon! + Book Giveaway

My book blog's 4th year anniversary will be in a few days, and what better way to celebrate a book blog anniversary than with a book giveaway, yes? Are you up for it? :)

image source


Because I've only recently begun collecting and reading award-winners (particularly, the Man Booker, Pulitzer, NBA, IMPAC Dublin, and Folio winners), the giveaway will be something related to book awards. In the comments section of this post, leave a comment and tell me which book you've read deserves to win an award, but for whatever reason, it didn't. Briefly explain why you think it should win something. And then I'll pick one winner on July 24, 2015, marginalia's 4th birthday. All entries must be in by 11:59pm of July 23. Giveaway is open to Philippine residents and non-robots only. The prize? The winner's book of choice from The Book Depository, max amount of US$20.00.

Game? Comment away! :)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Reading List 2015: July

It's the middle of the year today, which means half of 2015 is officially past. Really?? Where did my 6 months go? How time flies, indeed.

A quick check of my 2015 read shelf over at Goodreads shows that I've already finished reading 19 books so far. For someone who doesn't really read that fast (well, by my own standards at least) I think I'm doing well. 19 books means I get to read 3 books on the average per month, and that's good for me! No reading slumps so far, but I'm not crossing my fingers now, right?


Before I proceed to this month's reading list, a quick recap of the last month's books:
  • The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett - The book club's book of the month. 3/5.
  • Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel - Spillover from May. Currently at page 322 of 404. Fewer than a hundred pages left!
  • How to be both by Ali Smith - A little underwhelmed with this book. 3/5.
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - What a mess of a book! Ugh. 1/5.

I'm itching to write my thoughts about The Goldfinch, which so far holds the record for being my sole 1-starrer this year, but I need to tackle one other book first.

And now, for my July books:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Redeployment

by Phil Klay

Redeployment is a collection of short stories about the war – particularly the US-led war in Iraq that began in 2003 – and its effects on its major players (and casualties): the civilians and the soldiers. Mostly the stories dealt with death, and if one is lucky enough to survive, the long-term effects of war, emotionally and psychologically. Hello, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).


There are 12 stories that make up the book: Redeployment, Frago, After Action Report, Bodies, OIF, Money as a Weapons System, In Vietnam They Had Whores, Prayer in the Furnace, Psychological Operations, War Stories, Unless It’s A Sucking Chest Wound, and Ten Kliks South. Except for vague recollections of particular scenes, however, I can no longer remember each story with accuracy – they were that forgettable for me. Redeployment, the first story, was about shooting stray dogs as they conduct operations in Iraq, when the narrator himself was a lover of dogs back home. There’s a story there about a veteran who was severely and physically injured after he was nearly blown off in an explosion, and because he was lucky enough to have survived, a girl wanted to interview him for a story. Another story was about a marine who wanted to confess something to their resident cleric but hesitates each time they meet. And these two latter stories are just a couple whose titles I can no longer remember. The others, I cannot recall without taking a peek at my copy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Lowland

by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Lowland is the first full-length novel by Jhumpa Lahiri that I’ve read; I have a copy of The Namesake for years now but for some reason I haven’t felt inspired to pick it up. I have, however, read her short story collections – Interpreter of Maladies is my favorite short story collection of all time and Unaccustomed Earth is just as wonderful. Because The Lowland was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker prize, I decided to read it first as I delve into Lahiri’s full-length works, not knowing that nearly the first half of it was actually a novella that I’ve read last year, Brotherly Love. In The Lowland, the story of the brothers picks up where Brotherly Love left off.



From Brotherly Love, we already know that this is the story of Subhash and Udayan, brothers who started out their lives as close as two people can be, but as the years went by, they began to slowly drift apart. While Subhash was pensive and compliant, Udayan was mischievous and daring, even defiant to a certain extent. Still, the siblings loved and cherished each other. They spent their childhood in Calcutta but would eventually be separated, as dictated by their life choices: Subhash continued his studies in the United States while Udayan was left in India and became involved in the Naxalite movement, putting his and his parents' lives in danger. While Subhash was abroad, Udayan secretly married a girl, Gauri, defying custom and depriving their parents of their right to choose a wife for their son. Unfortunately, Udayan’s Naxalite activities go too far, prompting Subhash’s unplanned return to Calcutta and the beginning of his attempts to put to right what has been lost, especially where Udayan and Gauri were concerned.

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