Monthly Archives: June 2011

Lauren Kate returns!

Late in 2010, I had the chance to talk to Lauren Kate, the bestselling author of the young adult books “Fallen” and “Torment”. It went well, for the most part — I got to ask all the questions I wanted to ask.

I did hit upon a snag when the post-interview conversation with her and the other journalists veered toward the topic of other young adult authors. Being the tactless and hate-filled person that I am, I just had to bring up my intense and burning dislike for Becca Fitzpatrick. And wouldn’t you know it, the two of them are friends!

My face after the revelation

How do you recover from that? I just gritted my teeth and soldiered on as if I didn’t just make a damn fool of myself. It was best I forgot about the whole sad scene, because it’s not like she’s coming back here, right?

Of course, fate has struck me down once again as Lauren Kate is set to return here to the country this July, thanks to National Bookstore. And it’s not just the Manila readers who get to meet her this time around as she will also be making a stopover at Cebu.

I’m pretty sure all three of you blog readers already have your copies and invites to the “Passion” tour, but in case you still don’t, head on over to your nearest NBS and get yourself a copy of the book!

I, on the other hand, will be praying fervently that my new haircut confuses her enough to mistake me for an entirely different journalist just sharing the same name.

(Photo from the National Bookstore Facebook page)

Book review: Lauren Kate’s “Passion”

I only started reading Lauren Kate’s “Fallen” series when I had to interview her for the paper that I work for. While the cover art was certainly intriguing, I didn’t feel any pressing need to get copies of the books until that particular assignment.

After finishing the books — about two days after my interview, I think — my opinion was mixed. “Fallen” didn’t exactly sweep me off my feet as it’s yet another young adult (YA) supernatural romance in the same vein as “Twilight”: Hundreds of pages spent on the girl worrying if the boy really loves her or not before A WILD PLOT APPEARS! If I wasn’t intrigued with her angel mythology, I would have passed on her second offering, “Torment”.

“Torment” was much more enjoyable, even if it still had what appears to be the de rigeur dilemma for YA supernatural romances these days: BUT DOES HE REALLY LOVE ME?!? Getting into angel mythology was a welcome break for me from all the romance, and the cliffhanger at the end actually had me looking forward to “Passion”, the third installment in the series.

Continue reading

Your week in books #9

  • Of course, the big news of the day is J.K. Rowling’s announcement regarding Pottermore. Rather than a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG) or an online game as some newspapers announced, the website is just a little bit more. Not only will it be the only place to get your ebook versions of the novels, it will also have interactive features and additional information about the books, characters, and the story, provided by Rowling herself. I personally just want to know which house I’ll be sorted in.  (Source 1, Source 2)
  • Spider-Man is dead! SPIDER-MAN IS DEAD! WHATEVER SHALL WE DO NOW?!? Oh wait, it happens in the Ultimates universe, so it basically affects nothing. Nothing at all. (Source)
  • The New York Times has an interesting piece on Eva Gabrielsson, Stieg Larsson’s partner for more than three decades. I am particularly interested in the Viking curse ritual. (Source)
  • Lastly, NPR has a really touching story on Alice Ozma and Jim Brozina, a father and daughter pair who kept up a tradition of reading together every night for nine years. (Source)

My (second and third) day with the Rizal manuscripts

Taken with my iPod's crappy camera

I know all three of you readers may be tired of all my posts on the original Rizal manuscripts — I believe this is the fourth one? — but I hope that you will humor me this one last time.

Over the weekend, I made two more trips (Friday and Saturday) to the National Library to take a look not just at the original manuscripts — I’d seen them up close before anyway — but also at the other Rizal artifacts that the National Library had on display in celebration of our national hero’s sesquicentennial. And as it turns out, the National Library did have more artifacts in its vaults than just the “Noli”, the “Fili”, and the “Mi Ultimo Adios”.

Continue reading

Your week in books #8

The return of the comeback! It’s been months since I last put up one of these, so I hope I can come up with some interesting stuff to present to you readers in bullet form.

  • Of course, this week’s big news is still the exhibit of the original manuscripts of Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo” at the National Library of the Philippines. While I had originally blogged that the exhibit was only until today, the National Library has been ordered by the President himself to extend it up to Monday, June 20. So for those of you with an interest in history and our national hero, it’s best to check this exhibit out. The last time these works were exhibited to the general public was in the 60s, and you guys certainly don’t want to wait another 40 years to get to see these priceless historical relics.
  • What has been keeping the Internet abuzz, though, is J.K. Rowling’s announcement of her new project, Pottermore. All everybody has right now is just a website, though; Rowling says the big announcement will come maybe five days from now. Mark your calendars!
  • While some of my elementary school classmates grew up on Tintin, I grew up on a healthy diet of Funny komiks, Hardy Boys, Sweet Valley High, and Asterix comics. And as the cover on the right suggests, Asterix had quite a lot of violence in it. Probably because they had nothing better to do, a group of academics have analyzed the violence in these books in detail and published a study about in the European Journal of Neurosurgery, Acta Neurochirurgica. The results are just what you’d expect. (Source)

Mansplaining*, the V.S. Naipaul edition

Look at this smug motherfucker

The guy above with the adorable expression is Nobel Prize-winning novelist V.S. Naipul. A couple of weeks ago he made a claim that I’m sure you readers of the female persuasion will find absolutely charming.

I quote:

I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.

Naipul says that women’s writing is easily identifiable because they are full of “sentimentality” and a “narrow view of the world”. This narrow view, he says, is because women are never “a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too.”

I mean, I’m no Nobel Prize winner, so I may just be blowing smoke out of my ass, but most of the authors that I’ve really felt a personal connection with have been women authors — even if I am in possession of a decidedly male appendage.

Continue reading

Calling all Rizal and history buffs!

Remember back in May 9, when I posted this blog about spending a day with the original manuscripts of Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere”, “El Filibusterismo”, “Mi Ultimo Adios”, and “Guillermo Tell”?

The people at the National Library told me that they’d tell me when the manuscripts would be put up on display after they were restored by visiting German conservators. Weeks passed with me not getting any word about it, so I assumed that something fell through.

Then I got this in the old email inbox:

Continue reading

When the nation bids goodbye to an artist

The remains of National Artist for Literature Alejandro 'Anding' Roces

Back in 2004, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the necrological services for Nick Joaquin, the country’s very first National Artist for Literature and one of the writers whom I really admire.

It was a beautiful and somber service, with quite a few National Artists in attendance and paying their respects to their fallen companion. It was a bit heart wrenching to see how old and frail some of the National Artists were, especially when they had to go up the stage to pay tribute to Joaquin.

A couple of weeks ago, Alejandro Roces, another National Artist for Literature, succumbed to complications from pneumonia, and recently he was awarded the same necrological service given to other National Artists.

Perhaps because he was widely acknowledged as the best writer of humor in the country, the necrological service — while still very somber — had touches of humor and even a little bit of festivity to it.

Less than an hour into the proceedings, fellow National Artist F. Sionil Jose was already recalling to the gathered audience a humorous experience with Roces in China involving “ancient Chinese poetry” that turned out to be a restaurant menu. From there, everyone was treated to a few scenes from Roces’ zarzuela “Something to Crow About”, and I can honestly say that this is the first necrological service I’ve attended where a song about a man obsessed with his cock was a prominent part of the proceedings.

While things became a little more serious afterwards — there were noticeably lesser National Artists this time around, and they all looked even frailer than before — the service still ended on a high note, with the Bayanihan Dancers performing after the final eulogy was spoken.

Oddly enough, I found myself tearing up about the whole thing while Roces’ cremated remains were being taken out of the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m not as familiar with Roces’ canon as I am with Joaquin’s, so I can’t say it was because of the death of a writer whose works I had a personal connection with. I don’t know why, but I just found it incredibly poignant watching the people file out of the theater while the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra played a medley of Philippine folk songs.

Book review: Cassandra Clare’s “City of Fallen Angels”

Anyone who’s been in Harry Potter fandom for as long as I have has certainly heard of the infamous Cassandra Clare. Bringing her up is always fun because people have such extreme feelings when it comes to her — either rabid hate or blind obedience. There is no gray area when it comes to Clare. For me, the whole debacle and the way she handled it has always made me skeptical of everything that she has put out.

That plagiarism debacle, however, certainly didn’t end Clare’s writing career. In 2007, she came out with “City of Bones”, a book that would jumpstart her successful “The Mortal Instruments” series. She’s been on the top of the New York Times (NYT) Bestseller List and as garnered praise from authors like Holly Black and Tamora Pierce.

Even “Clockwork Angel”, the first book in her new “Infernal Devices” series, shot up the NYT Bestseller List despite the mixed fan reaction, with most of the fans complaining that “Clockwork Angel” merely rehashed characters, plots, and themes Clare had already explored in her three previous books.

Her latest novel, “City of Fallen Angels”, is a return to the series that made her famous. The novel shifts its focus from Clary Fray to that of her best friend, Simon Lewis. Will this new novel be a return to form, or another clunky addition to a once soaring collection?

Continue reading