"Please Stop Judging Me"

是-ZE 1 (ZE, #1)是-ZE 1 by Yuki Shimizu

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Don't judge me! I was influenced by my brother's interests in these kinds of stories. But to note some citations - the plot is like Fruits Basket, with lots of pairings, back stories, and supernatural. It's about a new housekeeper being thrust into the live of a powerful family who uses paper dolls as their protectors. Not sure if there is a legit Japanese folklore about them, but this perspective is very unique. Sketches are nice, so are ecchi scenes, hahaha. But it is still weird that there are innocent pairings, vulgar beyond repair, and those two-straight-guys-doing-sex-because-they-need-help. LOL.

I would recommend this to the open-minded manga readers who likes the manly sketches. The art reminded me of Kyou Kara Koi Wo Hajimemasu (forgot who's the author, though)

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Back to the Basics: #LaslasReads

Puppy Love and Thirteen Short StoriesPuppy Love and Thirteen Short Stories by F. Sionil José

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"How could two very young people get to know the arcane ways of loving, caring? I did not know then what love was but I did know feeling - unexpressed, compulsive - "
-Puppy Love, an excerpt

A collection of stories by the National Artist F. Sionil Jose, he coincided the them of love into his foray of genres - from magical realism, to taboo tales, to Noir-ish takes, and even a shot of a children's story. The red book is romantic but is not cheesy. He weaves the words like a household chore, like washing the dishes - so mundane, yet so extraordinary.

My personal favorites from the collection is the children's story entitled The Molave and The Orchid, where the author wrote this -
"Someday, I will love someone for we are destined to do so."

Other notable story here is the Waltz, which appealed to female readers (most of the bookish friends gush in this work, remembering the way the two characters danced and talked).

I suggest you read it in random. You never know what story is in store for you. And if you are a guy who doesn't prefer flowers as a gift to a special someone, give a copy of this instead. Introduce her to that children's story. And give the feels away.

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Ola, Lang.

Of all the poems that she wrote in this second collection, this is the worst. She made mention:
"Lullabies is a book that, over time, will reveal itself to you slowly."

What actually revealed to me is that she is trying to sell an anticipatory heartbreak, for you to appreciate her "whimsical rhythms". In addition, she is trying to be the next E.L.James, selling BDSM as a YA read. She wants her nursery rhyme about "I’d take you out, fuck you up against the car." to appeal to teenage jejemons who cannot ingest malayang taludturan.

Just saying.


Navigating Connections

Navigating EarlyNavigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Our stories are all intertwined. It’s just a matter of connecting the dots."

There is something subliminal in the prose that made me shed a tear or two, or something sincere in the voices of the two boys, Jack and Early, that made me go on reading the adventures. The voyage may be a series of coincidences, but who are we to judge the technicality of fiction-writing to kids when we, kids-at-heart, are ready to receive the message being sent across..?

In the first point-of-view of Jack Baker we see the sentiments of being lost. And yet, it is through the characters around him that create a wonderful landscape, adding tones and texture and sensory overloads. Female readers might find the story too superficial, but again, who are we to judge the book that caters kids of all ages?

The part that marked so special in my heart is when Jack and Early stayed with the "big whale", looking at the stars. I remember imagining myself hearing the telltales - the Sagas - that for me, adds us to the essence of life. Or in Icelandic, I might say, is kvöldvaka.

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Bad Joke?

Batman: The Killing JokeBatman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“So when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there's always madness. Madness is the emergency exit.”

I do not normally read these kinds of Graphic Novels, involving a superhero. But since my chief is a fan of Alan Moore's story and art (and I suppose a fan of this kind) he let me read one of his brother's collections in one sitting.

The Noir vibe of Joker's back-story made us look into the Sepia-colored-past of one of Batman's biggest villains. In the first few panels of this brownish tones, we saw that he lacked the self-esteem, feeling desperate for his wife and the incoming baby. This part of his life portrayed some of the make-or-break scenarios that tug our sensitivity, or might as well, increased our sympathy quotient.

In mere less-than-a-hundred pages, we tried filling in the gaps. The open-ended sequence of 9 panels in the last page - when the police light became visible and the rain got stronger - Alan Moore nailed that cliffhanger.

It made me wonder at our protagonist - if he, known as the more rational, used the emergency exit.

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The First National Hero: Take Two

Lapu-LapuLapu-Lapu by Francisco V. Coching

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Iyan si Lapu-lapu... Ang dakilang kayumangging may pusong kasintigas ng kanyang pananalig, na hanggang siya'y buhay, ang Mactan ay hindi malulupig!

That is how the National Artist ended his series of romanticized episodes of battles and adventures of our first National Hero.

In the 50's Manila where the Television is for the upper classes, the masses considered a 25-centavo komiks as their form of entertainment. This is where the Filipino language is very tagalized, and the colloquial terms are not much rampant. This is where the male are drawn as alpha-male, and women are drawn as very feminine. I loved the sketches, the six-panel conversations per page never fails to amaze me - the ability to convey the conversations in mere six boxes is, for me, one of the best inventions comic book writers ever devised in the old times.

What made me realized is that many of us patronize the romantic element in a plot. There are lots of tandems in the series, unlike the thesis that Tepai Pascual formulated in her Mactan 1521. In addition, the sharp contrast of Lapu-lapu's representation between these two novels only enlightened me how fast the time went by - making the first hero a bit metrosexual in the latter's work (view spoiler).

If you are a curious reader and you want to explore the life of the National Hero, I suggest you start with this one. Start with the oldies style, so that you can see the transition of Coching's work to Pascual's Opus.

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