April 14, 2017

The Orphan Master's Son

by Adam Johnson

I met Adam Johnson last year on my first Philippine Readers and Writers Festival, an event I attended with my good friend Benny. Prior to that day, I only knew Adam Johnson as the author of The Orphan Master's Son, a Pulitzer winner, which I haven't read yet (at the time). After meeting him, I discovered that he has a good sense of humor, he is over six feet tall, he actually flew to North Korea for the purpose of gathering material for his Pulitzer-winning novel, and he is a friendly, good-natured guy, you will feel at ease talking to him.

But that isn't why I loved The Orphan Master's Son. Really.

Pak Jun Do's father runs Long Tomorrows, an orphanage outside Pyongyang. Although he is not an orphan, he might as well be, as far as everyone else is concerned. Living among his father's wards and exercising authority over them elevate him from the ranks until he is "recruited" by Pyongyang as a professional kidnapper, abducting Japanese citizens and bringing them back to North Korea for whatever purpose they may serve. Later, Pak Jun Do embarks on other roles until finally, he assumes the personality of Commander Ga, once the most loyal subject of Kim Jong Il and the husband of the actress Sun Moon, the woman he loves.

April 7, 2017

Don't You Cry

by Mary Kubica

This mystery/thriller penned by Mary Kubica was our book club's book for the month of February. It's been a while since I read it (I know, I know, I've been remiss in my blogging duties) but it feels like only yesterday when we discussed it.

I don't know how I could describe the story without giving away too much, so I'll just say that the story begins with the disappearance of Esther Vaughan, Quinn Collins' roommate. Although Quinn tries to convince herself, at first, that Esther couldn't have just gone missing, she eventually accepts the fact of her disappearance and attempts to find her.

March 1, 2017


by Colm Toibin

In a nutshell, Brooklyn is the story of a young Irish woman, Eilis Lacey, who finds herself torn between two lovers. (If you began to sing after reading that, I won't blame you.) She grew up in a small town in Ireland. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers her a job in the United States, Eilis takes it, leaving behind her mother and older sister, Rose.

In Brooklyn, Eilis stays in a boarding house for ladies and works in a department store. Well into her first year of living abroad, she falls in love with Tony, an Italian immigrant. Everything is going well when bad news from Ireland summon Eilis back home, and there begins the conflict. 

February 14, 2017

Running With Scissors

by Augusten Burroughs

Bought this from Book Sale on a whim years ago, picked it up recently because I needed to read a title from the GR Humorous List for a book bingo I joined. Both instances, I wasn't aware that it's a memoir. When I started reading, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but I'm surprised now that I did. Boy, Augusten sure went through a LOT. That he injected humor into this memoir isn't easy, and I admire the guy for his resilience and strength.

Augusten Burroughs - but that wasn't his name then; he had it legally changed when he was able to - knew at a young age that he was gay. He was fond of fixing his hair a certain way, was interested in fashion early on, he wanted to be either a doctor (because of the white coat) or the owner of a chain of beauty shops, and so on. He was also the product of a dysfunctional family: his father never cared for him, his mother - a struggling poet - battled with anxiety and depression, and his older brother, who had Asperger's, also didn't give a f*ck. By the time his parents had separated and his mother had sole custody of him, he was certain of his sexual orientation and of another thing: he didn't like school and wanted to quit.

January 31, 2017

Everything is Illuminated

by Jonathan Safran Foer

My copy of Everything Is Illuminated was a gift from one of my good friends from the book club, given as a birthday gift some years ago. On the note that came with it, he wrote that he gave it to me because it was on my wish list. To be honest, however, I had no idea what the book is about and put it up on my wish list only because it was the debut novel of a very young writer - only in his 20s when the book was published - and I was, as usual, curious. Only now when I picked it up did i realize that the book has its roots in the Holocaust, a topic I've always been interested in.

The main characters are Jonathan Safran Foer (uh, yes, the author's name), a young writer traveling to Ukraine to find - with the aid of only a map and an old photograph - Augustine, the woman who purportedly helped his grandfather escape the Nazis; Alex, his Ukrainian translator who hilariously botches the English language; Alex's "blind" grandfather, who drives for them; and Sammy Davis Junior, Junior, the grandfather's seeing eye bitch. They go on a road trip to find Trachimbrod, the town where Jonathan's grandfather, Safran, hails from - the same place where they think they could find Augustine.

January 30, 2017

(Team) Bingo!

Our book club has a new reading challenge this year: in addition to the individual book bingo, we also have the team book bingo. Want to know more? Rules, mechanics, and other relevant stuff are all here

My teammate for the challenge is my good friend and kumare Ronnie. She's going to read 5 books and I'll read 4 - she was kind enough to offer to read more because I needed to moderate the book club's book for the month. And what do you know, we got the first pattern!
We'll be relaxing for the next patterns (F and G) to give others the chance to complete their cards. Yay to us, partner!