Friday, October 17, 2014

Filipino Fridays 2014: Surprise, Reader!

As I’m typing this, there’s only one hour left before Friday is over. So I will try to beat the buzzer and fork up a decent post for this year’s first Filipino Fridays meme, one of the activities pre-Filipino ReaderCon that I’ve always loved participating in for years now.

For this first salvo, here are the questions for the participants:

Surprise, Reader! Hello, it’s the first week of Filipino Fridays 2014! Whether it’s your first time to participate or not, tell us a bit about yourself. More specifically, tell us about your favorite book discoveries for this year. Any author you started reading this year that you can’t get enough of? A book you didn’t think you’d like, but you ended up liking/loving? Any book series that you just have to get your hands on? Have you discovered anything new from Filipino authors this year?

My name is Monique, and I’m an eclectic reader. I read both print and digital formats of books, and my Kindle Paperwhite’s name is Oscar, from my favorite Junot Diaz book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Required Reading 2014: October

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to experience the turning and falling of the leaves in autumn! Someday, I will. For now, though, I will content myself looking at pretty photos or videos of bronzed leaves falling away from the trees as soon as October rolls around.

And Halloween! Suddenly everyone is busy preparing for the few days that connect and transition October to November. This year, though, Halloween is more exciting for me because it’s my daughter’s first trick-or-treat party in school! I’m excited to put together a costume for her. I'm thinking that she could go as one of these three things: a pink pirate, a Lalaloopsy character (her favorite dolls), or a cowgirl. What do you think? :)

Anyway, I have some new titles on my reading list for October, but before that, a recap of my September books:

  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell – The latest genre-defying, mind-bending novel from one of my favorite authors of all time. Nothing but 5/5 stars.
  • The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee – The second traveling book of the book club. Loved the historical bits! Quite interesting. 4/5 stars.
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – The book club’s book of the month which, unfortunately, I was unable to read because my copy is still with my friend. Thankfully, she was able to attend the joint discussion with another book club. [Carry-over.]
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – Currently on page 505 of 832. So far the book I've been reading for the longest period this year. I can do this! [Carry-over.]

And now, for October:

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Sense of an Ending

by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending is my first foray into the world of Julian Barnes’ lyrical prose, and I am bowled over. There is hardly any place in the novella where you won’t find a passage worth quoting. But the writing is just the tip of the iceberg; this Man Booker winner begs the question, how infallible is one’s memory?

Tony Webster – once married, successfully divorced – is quietly enjoying his retirement when a letter from a solicitor arrives with an enclosure. The enclosure is a letter from Sarah Ford, the mother of his erstwhile college sweetheart Veronica. Tony met Sarah only once, when Veronica brought him home over the holidays to meet her family several decades before. In her letter, Sarah bequeathed upon Tony two things: the diary of his old friend, Adrian, with whom Veronica had taken up after breaking things off with Tony, and “a little money.” She also apologized for the way her family had treated him during that isolated visit to their home, and wished him well, “even beyond the grave.” In answer to his silent questions, the solicitor’s letter informs Tony that Mrs Ford has drawn up her will five years prior, and that the diary mentioned in her letter is still in the possession of her daughter, Veronica.

The letter comes as a surprise, after nearly 40 years of silence, and its contents baffle Tony even more. Why was Sarah in possession of a diary owned by his friend Adrian? Why was she leaving him money? His tumultuous relationship with Veronica decades ago had ended even worse than the actual affair, which was already bad enough, and Adrian had committed suicide at a time when Tony had severed ties with them both. Sarah’s letter, therefore, prompts Tony to re-examine a cache of memories involving himself, Adrian, and Veronica.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Splurge [24] a.k.a. The MIBF 2014 Loot + Bookmarks Galore [18]

It's (only) my fifth year of attending the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) which is now on its 35th year. I attended my first MIBF back in 2010, when I was in my sixth month of pregnancy with my daughter; I remember practically waddling among the crowd because of my near-to-bursting tummy (I am not exaggerating; I was huge). Five years later, and I am still at it, and the enjoyment of going through bargain bins and discounted book-related stuff has not waned an iota.

This year, I went local. I figured that I could always get the foreign books that I want anytime (if the local bookstores don’t have a copy, there’s always Book Depository), and there wasn’t anything that I urgently needed to get. True, there would be no 20% discount on the titles, but that’s okay. If I want a book that bad, I would gladly purchase it full price anyway.

So, without further ado, I present you my #MIBF2014 loot:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bookmarks Galore [17]

A yosegi bookmark from Hakone, Japan, from my friend Beejay who went there in May. Yosegi literally means "combination of pieces of wood," as they are assembled by gluing together wood of different colors. Amazing Japanese craftsmanship, yes? :)

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Spark Project [15]: Tin

The Spark Project is a semi-regular blog feature where a reader and/or book blogger is invited to talk about that one book that sparked his/her interest in books and reading. He/She will tell us about the what-when-where-why-and-how of this topic, how his/her reading habits have evolved since encountering that book, and so on. Wouldn't it be fun and interesting as well to know how a fellow book lover discovered the wonderful world of books? :)
Featured today on The Spark Project: TIN of Rabbitin
People from The Filipino Group (TFG) over at Goodreads (well, at least those who are currently active) have known her and felt her online presence for a while now, but no one has yet had the pleasure of personally meeting Tin. She resides outside of Metro Manila, so she finds it difficult to attend book discussions and other events, which usually happen within the metro. Still, her fun and friendly personality can be felt online, as she actively participates in group discussions. She also regularly tumbles down into her rabbit hole, er, updates her book blog, Rabbitin, where you can "discover a whole new world through the pages of books."

This little rabbit is shy. :)

(1) What is the one book that sparked or kindled your love for reading? Describe the circumstances in which you found or discovered it.

I wish I was like Matilda, the smart and precocious protagonist created by Roald Dahl, who at the age of four has read Bronte, Hemingway, Faulkner, Austen, Steinbeck, Dickens and a whole slew of other big literary names. At the age of four, or perhaps a little older than that, what I could tell you about were: The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, The Uncanny X-Men, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bugs and Daffy, and Tom and Jerry, Shaider and Bioman, and Disney Princesses. I wasn’t entirely devoid of reading experiences. I did read a couple of Ladybird books and a ton of Archie Comics, which I very much remember with fondness. But I mostly spent my free time zombified by the thing called television.

So the reading habit was not something that came naturally to me. My earliest memory would have to be around the time when I was about 11, I think. That was when a peddler of this big book of fairy tales came to our doorstep. She was a lady, who was quite pretty, I remember. My mom sat opposite her, held one of her wares, something entitled: A Treasury of Fairy tales. It had this glossy and padded cover, with illustrations I found to be quite mesmerizing. I was at an age then, when I knew well enough that showing eagerness in front of a salesman won’t be to your advantage, so I slunk and rubbed around my mom like a cat, willing her to get it for me. I would have purred right then and there. But it turns out, I did not need to debase myself further, as she already handed the lady some payment. And soon it became a ritual for me and my eldest sister to read one story from that book, aloud, every other night. I always look forward to those nights.

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