J.P. Morrissey's A Weekend At Bleinheim

A Weekend at Blenheim: A NovelA Weekend at Blenheim: A Novel by J.P. Morrissey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having this book bought at Php10 is AWESOME! I just can't believe I bought a goodread at a cheap price.

Just to share something: The setting of the story is 30-40 miles outside the Oxford University centre. I went to the University, yes, but not outside of it. And if you are a typical tourist that doesn't regularly see a majestic palace, this is the postcard view:

A Weekend at Blenheim is the first novel by JP Morrissey that touches an episode in the lives of the Churchills in their grandiose estate of Blenheim Palace. A statehome located in Woostock, Oxfordshire, It was the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.

An Ewardian novel, the story is about an American draftsman named John Vanbrugh employed by the Duchess of Marlborough, Consuelo Vanderbilt, to renovate her quarters at the Blenheim estate. John, having the same name as the original architect and a playwright who designed the mansion, is the main decision he was tasked to design and further encouraged by his English wife, Margaret Barton-Vanbrugh.

John and Margaret stayed at Blenheim with other guests: the Duke of Marlborough, his cousin Winston Churchill, the painter Sargent, and the Duchess' friend Ms. Deacon. It was pleasant until one night, the servant maid to Margaret was killed and buried in the crypt of the Palace Chapel.

Considered as a gothic mystery, the novel is established on a historical imprint with picturesque descriptions of the setting. Told at the first person perspective, the reader is easily immersed in the depicting terms of the manor's architype, as it is to the events happening around the place. A remarkable addition to the plot is the conversations and philosophies exchange between the guests and the conception of weaknesses, strengths and intrigues of male and female sexes. In this enthralling and atmospheric tale of murder, revenge, and redemption, it can give the same chill and curiosity from reading Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, the latter being set in the Tudor era.

This is not as amazing as the other victorian classics, but this can be used as a material for creating a movie about the Churchills. After all, I have not seen any fictitious controversy in Winston Churchill flicks (maybe because I haven't seen any movie about that politician).

View all my reviews


Charles Dicken's The Great Expectations

Great ExpectationsGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Told in a kid's perspective, everything is in fast-paced.
The victorian-ala-gothic drama was lacking in the story book, but I enjoyed the drawings and the love element. Simply nice.

I hope I have the luxury of time to reread this as it was written by Charles Dickens himself. :)

View all my reviews


Manix Abrera's Venn Mann (KikoKomiks #6)

Kikomachine Komix Blg. 6: Venn Man at iba pang Kalupitan ng Kapalaran!Kikomachine Komix Blg. 6: Venn Man at iba pang Kalupitan ng Kapalaran! by Manix Abrera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

PATOK! corny nga pero hindi ko maiwasang humagikhik habang ako ay nagbabasa. ahahahahaha! :D
ASTEEEGGG~~~~ the best ang mga comiks na corny ni manix. ahahahah :p

View all my reviews

Selected Poems by Merlie Alunan

Selected PoemsSelected Poems by Merlie M. Alunan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ang likha na puno ng prosang tula
Tila isang gawang nakababahala
Isang limbag di makapaniwalang
Sinimulang ng isang Pilipinong manunula

Hindi man ito pinuno ng pag-ibig
Pagkat kalungkutan ang nakaukit
sa mga pahina nitong wari'y malamig
Ang laman nito'y puru pasakit

Ninais ko ang kwento ng mga bata
Pati ang kanilang mga sinimulan
Ninais ko rin ang kwento ng mga matatanda
Sa pagsalaysay ng binagtas na daan

At dito ko tatapusin ang aking tula
na wala mang sukat ngunit may tugma
Ninais kong mahalin mula simula
Pero sapat lang ang pagkakagawa

-Rebyu, by Matronang Mambabasa

View all my reviews


John Green's Looking for Alaska

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There are books that help me exercise my mind in imagining some things, feeling some emotions and living in the dreams. This is supposed to be an example of one but its letters simply passed my eyes.

Looking for Alaska is the first YA novel ever crafted by John Green way back in 2005, and won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award for this book exemplified excellence in this genre. An American author from Indiana, he loves writing as well as loves video blogging.

Considering his first creation to bring home the top award, this is, on an average point of view, recommended to readers of YA kind as a good read. I for one who doesn’t like high-school-on-paper-too-much and doesn’t feel the teenage-form-of-catharsis, considered this a challenge to continuously, and not drop the book for 24 hours.

It's just… the words did not hit me as much.

I read Paper Towns first since the mood of the story is a mixture of comic relief and utter loneliness – a good combination for someone like me who doesn’t know the author well. The message of the author to see metamorphosis and the science of change in a positive light guaranteed that I, as a reader, felt compelled to see the book and imagine through the pages. It made me see and understand the misunderstood and its stand. And for the comic relief, I find myself laughing out loud imagining a character pissing all of his drunkenness from last night in a beer can – imagine?! A BEER CAN. An adult may have done that, but not of the same sillyness as of a teenager. Such joy to laugh and imagine you are with them, traveling in a minivan, eating junk food and trash talk.

But to stick my nose in yet again, another John Green (after reading a series of serious animal conversations from Beatrice and Virgil), is not a good exercise for a nonfanatic of YA fiction. I saw the weaknesses – in the plot, in the imprint and in the catharsis. Let me expound in my own little way:

Looking for Alaska is about a guy named Miles “Pudge” Halter moving from their neighborhood in Florida to the Culver Creek Prep (duh, a boarding school) in Alabama, aiming for a good college after a year or two. His parents threw him a disappointing despedida party, where Miles being an antisocial, have no friends attending to such. So there, the author further immerse the protagonist in the life of a prep student, befriending the Colonel (Chip Martin) and a half-blood named Takumi Hikohito (half Japanese, half Birmingham in the US), antagonizing the Eagle (Mr. Starnes), learning to make love with a Romanian (Lara Buterskaya), and instantly love Alaska Young. Befriending the Colonel gave him a new name: Pudge, the guy with the chicken legs and geekiness, all together nice.

An American author from Indiana, he patterned his Boarding School (Indiana Springs School) in his adolescent years as a reference to the setting of the story. Some may find this intriguing, but I am the otherwise. I am sick and tired of hearing the type of classes they have and the luxury / nonluxury of attending one. In addition, they have the “Weekday Warriors” as their number one enemy, and these are the privileged Birmingham-area students. To rationalize, this is the picturesque description of school bullying, the hindsight is that the author makes it a point that this happens in a boarding school. Lest it be known that bullying is anywhere – in any school, be it a public (like PS 118) and in a private (Donovan Preparatory Academy). This is a weakness.

An antisocial persona is a pity. The character, while kept on saying he/she used to be that way (an unfriendly as he/she was) and realize that he/she needs someone to hold on to, is too cliché. Or simply immature. I am not up to the person who is weak or with issues such as this. A person tends to be competitive or otherwise because he/she chose to be one, not to get some appeal. This is a weakness.

His recipe for disaster: having the same recipe with his Paper Towns. It would be much better if it has a different perspective, but maybe because Paper Towns is the second book and thus, the copycat. It just so happen that I read that first.

The geek – the first person; the struggle (seeking a Great Perhaps), the habit (interest for the last words)
The girl – destructive yet mysterious, eyes of color (make it green, hazel, brown, blue, whatever) with wholeness and emptiness at the same time
The set of friends – intelligent and cool in their own way
The car – in itself – whatever form – THERE IS ALWAYS A CAR! :p
The school – the corridors, the “pa-deep” class, the conversations with the professors

Seeking a Great Perhaps: Pudge’s driver in the beginning of the story. Too teen.
Labyrinth of Suffering: Alaska’s driver. Too destructive, yes, I would have loved that, but the way of the delivery of the message – to shallow.
POOF~! Did it became a coco crunch? Yeah, it did, just like Margo did.

My two cents
I am not antagonizing everything. After all, [1] I am a critic in my own right (for I am not really interested in YA fiction) and [2] I am not a die-hard John Green fan. And I hate this kind of enumeration. If you want to enumerate, do it as line items, like the accountant does the financial accounts in a balance sheet.

Overall, it will appeal to my younger versions of me. Just that.

View all my reviews


Yann Martel's Beatrice and Virgil

Beatrice and VirgilBeatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For you to cry at the last part of the novel is normal. If it is a romantic story… You cry because of the lived-happily-ever-after or because of a bittersweet memory, or the acceptance to start again. But to cry on an empty box that the author asks you to fill in? That is not normal. Not normal, but too emotional.

Yann Martel takes another provocative novel to another level, to test your humanity, and to test your perspective in life and in living it. He has made you see survival in the Life of Pi, and you will see his imprint in Beatrice and Virgil.

The story is about a writer named Henry, a frustrated writer after formulating his invention of a flipbook, combining a fable and an essay in one – about Holocaust. After five years of soul-searching, researching and talking with different people to personify a morbid history – speaking of which is a taboo in some places, the result is a flop. This is a big failure that led him to move from one continent to another just to start life all over.

Years of peace later, in an unexpected event he crossed paths with a taxidermist that needed his help. The taxidermist is creating a play about a donkey and a monkey – named Beatrice and Virgil – and arrange it properly so that the chronology and its true story will be seen and heard in a theatre. It is considered the taxidermist’s life’s work.

I consider this book as another genius because it touches the heart of the reader and made you transport through time, in a magical place of stripes, a country of wide shirt with all those games for Gustav and the full brightness of the sun, giving you an inch of shadow in your being. It was constructed not as a flipbook like Henry the writer would have wanted, but it has an empty space – giving you no endings, but a new “beginning”. There are no chapters that separate a page from another, just like a play, it was supposed to be understood in different settings to suit the mood of the conversation and the trail of thoughts.

Honestly, I cannot empathize to the victims of the Second World War or whatever they have thought before and after it happened. I cannot easily relate to those victims of Holocaust, or even retell the history because I have never experienced such reality. I have to apologize for not stepping on their shoes. But I want to thank the author for experiencing the feeling of whatever they felt then. It made me gasp, made me wanted to shout (just that I read the climax of the story in a setting that shouting will require expulsion in the place), and made me cry in silence. I want to thank the author for letting me play Games for Gustav as it was a quiz after reading all those “unreadable” segments. It left me a stigma to appreciate the events before. It left me a challenge to retell the story as vivid and as humane as it can be.

The challenge of a reader in Beatrice and Virgil is what Henry the writer said:
“The sun of faith came before the generous wind, but which came first, the black cat or the three whispered jokes?”

How the Henry the writer tells his story will always be different on how will you fill in the box in the last piece of Games for Gustav. How will the sun shine on you depends on how long will you cast you own shadow.

View all my reviews


John Green's Paper Towns

Paper TownsPaper Towns by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The prolouge pique my interest because a girl and a boy looked at a dead body and have two different ideas going inside their heads. I though this is going to be a mystery case.

But when you turned the first part, it was totally disappointing. It was HIGHSCHOOL OVER AND OVER. And for a non-YA lover, this is one bitter gourd. So if you are not a YA lover, do not expect too much.

Paper Towns is about a boy, nicknamed Q, who aspired to be a scholar in college and graduate with a Degree in Law. With all the geekiness inside him, he fell in love with Margo since he was a kid. He fell in love not with Margo as a girl - he fell in love with the idea of Margo - and that is what the author wanted to teach us:

"We don't suffer from a shortage of metaphors, is what I mean. But you have to be careful which metaphors you choose, because it matters."

How we define ourselves lies in the idea that we welcome our minds. A paper town for a paper girl, having a crush with a paper guy, being geek all the time, believing in the paper future ahead of him - that for the latter, it felt so real.

We tend to be apire for our dreams and reach for more, we tend to make a difference, like a balloon filled with helium, reaching for the vastness of the blue sky, filling ourselves with hope and the essence of our beings. And how will you do it, depends upon the idea that you once feed yourself, and letting yourself get consumed by it.

I love the third part of the novel stricken by the last page of the second part - applying syntax to a write-up. Once you see her rule of capitalization on prepositions (amongst other words) you will know it is her, and you will know there is something to happen. It may not be the climax, but the heart of the novel starts there.

How the author deliver the message about living our lives, is (may I quote you Charles?) profound. Two paper characters give three-dimensional approaches to pursuing whatever "future" you wanted for yourself. The feeling of this reader on reflecting the metamorphosis - on leaving one stage to another, leaving memories behind and simply growing up - is simply magical.

I may not be a paper girl to my paper mum and I may not lived the same paper high school as theirs, but leaving the three-dimensional memories and starting over - felt the same.

View all my reviews


Neil Gaiman's Stardust

StardustStardust by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I cannot believe this little book never let me sleep, rather, it made me dream in a world of Old England, of villages, or long black skirtles, hushed laughs, and gentlemen. It made me dream of walking in the meadows, riding unicorns and slaying bad witches. It made me dream of a true love - and if I may say sir Neil, you made me feel envious about this:

"They kissed for the first time then in the cold spring rain though neither one of them now knew that it was raining."

How ironic that I did not feel that kind of first kiss. Of all the first kisses that I felt, it was not raining.

This book is recommended for the kids who like magic and black large pots. Who like ships and captains and dances and music and folklore in general. Most of all, this is recommended to those who want a break-out from all the harsh realities - and wanted a simple escape.

When I was walking with my teammates I carried and read a part of this book, not minding the darkness of the streets, with little light from the lamp posts of the Burgos Circle guiding me as I read Neil's letters. I have no questions of how loud and boisterous the laugh of my seatmates in a restaurant that would have made me feel annoyed last night - but I cannot help myself to get my eyes read the book's letters and fill my mind with such imaginations of a floating ship named Heart of a Dream maneuvered by Captain Yann.

The only weakness that I encountered as I read the novel is my moments of comparing this with the movie version. Beware reader, DO NOT WATCH THE MOVIE IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE DISAPPOINTED.

In addition, every event is too sudden. I wasn't expecting that the ship's sail will fall short. I was expecting the otherwise. I was hoping to see on the intensity of how much Tristran has grown since I cannot easily imagine them, especially if it was driven by "suddenlies". Suddenly he was on this place, suddenly he was walking, suddenly he was floating. everything went on suddenly. T_T

But do not despair my friend, for this is one goodread.

View all my reviews


Anne Enright's The Gathering

The GatheringThe Gathering by Anne Enright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When was the last time I had my orange highlighter when I try to read a fiction? Aahh, David Nicholls - and Emily Bronte.

Anne Enright may not deserve all the love, but this novel of hers deserve a credit. After all, she made a challenge - to assess how true I am in feeling different emotions.

The composition is like puzzle pieces that needs to be put together, piece-by-piece, for you to understand its bigger picture and its message. Chapters are illustrated in one era to another, one generation to another, one memory to another. And you will get annoyed because at the first part, you tend to get bored. Enright dared me at page 52 of Chapter 9: DROP THIS BOOK NOW IF THIS IRRITATES YOU:

Hay, Harmless, harmless, harmless.

Is this page 52 even relevant? I told myself.

But I have to continue. Because I haven't seen it yet.

And as you get along in the middle part of the novel, the pace gives an upbeat. And yeah, there were moments when I cannot stop: The ghost-like apparitions, paranoias, and tears where I cannot compel myself to relate because I am not depressed in the first place.

I cannot believe my skill in understanding psychographs will be challenged here; honestly, I read most of the chapters more than once, because I need to review and get to know the relevance of one stage to another. If you are a psychology student, you should read this novel for you are to test your own wit, your own logic, and your own way of thinking as you immerse yourself on the depths of loneliness and how a person sees the light after all those episodes of darkness.

I give it not of the same rank as of David Nicholls because I cannot make this as my "life manual". There are lessons, yeah, there are also things to consider and quotes to remember. But to see myself as an undersexed individual who had a close brother died via suicide, I cannot seem to picture myself in one. One, because I see sex as an ultimate surrender and insignia of love (PLEASE DO NOT BUTT IN, THIS IS A PERSONAL NOTE ANYWAY), and for me to remain sexless as of to-date is a personal choice. Two, because I have a brother like Liam who fell in love with a girl once but cannot-seem-to-continuously-love-her-because-he-has-seen-the-light-and-he-will-never-be-like-Liam-who-had-a-hidden-past-that-cannot-be-told-easily-because-he-is-happy-in-the-first-place. And three, my grandma has had no secrets hidden from dad, from mum, and from us.

There's humor in this novel too. If you cannot spell penis, you have to read this. This is one intelligent porn like Murakami's.

Just a side note: I do not know where Djerba is, but based on Google, it is in North Africa. And yeah, Gatwick airport sucks, but Heathrow sucks more.

View all my reviews


Got myself a badge of goodreads for a collection of all the titles of the books/novels I have read/currently reading/to read. Yehey! :p