Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: A Book Review

I admit that reading romantic novels , except pink  ones, is not my cup of tea. I may be such  a consummate misogynist or misandrist, or  I just believe in the Filipino  bromide  , “Walang Forever .” ( laughs)  In fact, I have no any clues about Nicholas Sparks’s best-selling novels yet except their movie adaptions. I do not even include them in my required reading.  Nevertheless, there are two love stories that always remind me of whenever I think of this kind of genre: the classics Jane Eyre  by Charlotte Brontë and Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence. Both  novels are the outcomes of  the writers’  desires  to paint the picture of what was love like in a suppressible generation. But when it comes to modern ones, so far, among the ones I  have read, this Me Before You is the one I would say is the catalyst of my elusive finickiness and  the springboard for  a new genre on my list instead.I did not expect to have read a book that would make a difference to   my reading preference. I hate you Jojo Moyes.

As a matter of fact, I did not find this book romantic as what I had expected. It is not similar to the ones you are giddy about in that you are almost gaga for the  main characters, typical of teenyboppers’  reaction. Oh, my gosh!  I feel like fainting! Instead , the book is  enveloped  in  bipolar atmospheres.  Lou Clark ,on the one hand, the main character is a funny lady who loves wearing weird getups. Will Traynor ,on the other hand, a  quadriplegic man who  emits gloomy ,sombre, and dour responses around him. It is a matter of black and white. Romantic? No. My heart broke for Will. I was just being amused by Lou’s  dramatic but optimistic and humorous dramas.So, it is  as though the love that prevailed is compassion. Furthermore, honestly speaking, I am fully aware of the controversial issue on euthanasia, the desire of a patient to end his/ her  life on account of unbearable  body pains and feeling of uselessness.  I  was subjectively reading it  in light of my pragmatic view. My opinion? Again, it’s  a question of white and black.

Rather, its other themes are  realistically compelling  like Lou’s relationship problem with her boyfriend and family.Anyone out there except me may relate to her  love story. And for those self-proclaimed ” bread-winners ”  financially depended on by their ” poor ” families, Lou Clark be like. Hahaha  Besides, if you are a certified book worm, you will nudge at your chair in excitement because both the main characters discuss  different literary books I have read  such  as  Red Queen , Flannery O’Connor’s stories , to name a few. Oh, it  makes sense after all, indeed.

The themes would be inconsequential if it were not Jojo Moye’s  riveting and  beautiful sentences. She really knows her stuff. The pacing and prose  are natural  without  any smidgens of  conspicuously  patched  drafts that she had gathered for a long time.  That’s why I did not feel bored. I just kept on turning the pages  though as I was watching an  a la Mary-Lennox-and Colin-Craven  scene in the  Secret Garden.

Surprisingly, Jojo Moyes  was able to hold  me in  her unconscious target to  be teetering on the edge of  what we call  ” emotional attachment.” Its ending cracked the carapace  of my tough heart. I blinked my tears away, but I have learned  the same lesson again and again : Life is a choice. If you don’t think so, hang in your drama. Bow.

Trivia:

Jojo Moyes was inspired to write the story on euthanasia based on late American rugby player Daniel James who  took his life at the Dignitas clinic on 12 September 2008.

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it.)

 

 

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Book News: BOOKS for LESS Warehouse Sale

Filipino book  lovers, get a load of this!  BOOKS for  LESS  will be having  a Warehouse Sale in August.

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Thousands of books cost 20 pesos each.Good for those  bibliophiles who have a lot of money to burn. Yahoo!

I hope I’m  able to go even though the place is a bit far from our office and  expected to be jam-packed with the book lovers or book sellers who will take advantage of the  dirt cheap price.Besides, I have never been to such a grand sale event  yet, so I want to jump at this chance in a million. Hohoho

Its official Facebook account posted some directions on how to get to the  warehouse and  helpful tips   before going there.

For more information, visit  the  official book store’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bflbookstore/

Good luck!!! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Makinang Makina by Genaro Gojo Cruz : A Book Review

When I see an antique sewing machine, the only idea  that reminds me of is late great-grandmother,  Lilang Tisay .She used to be our neighbor when  we still lived  in a countryside. Every afternoon, I  would  always visit her in their palatial leaning-to watching her sew some cloth.(I didn’t know what  she was doing then. She may have  made some rags.) But I was mesmerized  by her adeptness at  operating that noisy machine. I even wondered whether she could be impaled with the needle or not  if she didn’t focus on it.As a matter of fact, that machine became more historical  when she made me a doll out of the cloth leavings  because my mother could not bring herself to buy me one. That was the first doll I had ever played,  unaware of my sexual orientation. I tend to smile to myself whenever I remember this. I wonder  how I lost that doll and whether her  family still keeps that machine.

Recently,  Genaro Gojo Cruz, the author of this book, won PBBY-Salanga Prize for this Filipino children story, Makinang Makina ( Brilliant Machine). The story is about a boy  who enjoys watching his mother sew with the sewing machine she has inherited from her mother’s  mother. He tends to be transfixed  by its antiquity . He also enjoys helping his mother by catching up with the thread spool  rolling off the floor  and sucking its edge to pass it through the eye of the needle. He  is even riveted on riding the machine’s floor like a horse. He is  sooo cute. 🙂

The most touching part of the story is when he asks his mother if he can be like her because he thinks of that  sewing is supposed to be for women’s job. His mother explains that a man who sews clothes is a sastre in Filipino. He can be! Sewing  does not bear on your sexuality.

The funny thing  is that  I had negative stereotype about the boy.While  reading it, I mistook him for  belonging to the confederation, an archaic expression used in the Philippines referring to homosexuals. In other words, I thought he was bakla ( gay) because he seems to be malamya ( clumsy)  in Genaro’s descriptions. In the Philippines, when  a boy is observed to be in that behavior , he is judged or predicted to be a queer  at his later age. So, usually, his father’s kumpare  advises  his father that he should be straightened up to prevent that homosexual tendency. Poo-bah! A form of ignorance some parents are still shrouded in.  But I was all wrong. I may have just been subjective. Hahaha  In the context of child psychology, he is at the stage of  exploring the world he finds magical. I bear witness to that 🙂

It’s now my 11th Genaro Gojo Cruz ‘s  children story  books. As usual, I am like a  rabid wolf , hot on Gojo Cruz’s heels. Hahaha I have been after :

  1. Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas
  2. Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa
  3. Pitong Angel
  4. Hello, Tatay!
  5. Ang Aking Pamilya
  6. Ang Bahaghari
  7. Maghapon Namin ni Nanay
  8. Malaking-Malaking Bahay
  9. Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting
  10. Ang Lumang Aparador ni Lola
  11. Ang Asul na Kariton
  12. Ang Kamisetang Dilaw
  13. May Pamilya na ring Mag-aaruga sa Akin
  14. Ang Sulatan
  15. Mga Laruang Papel
  16. May Sampung Pulang Langgam

So far,  I ‘m  glad to have  read his :

  1. Connect the Dots o Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay ( YA)
  2. Ang Batang May Maraming Maraming Bahay
  3. Mahabang-Mahabang-Mahaba
  4. Ang Aking Photo Album
  5. Noong Nakaraang Taon
  6. Bunsoy
  7. Saling Pusa
  8. Anluwagi
  9. Tolits

I am not sure if the book is now available in book stores. I just happened to see this on the author’s FB post. I  was excited  then to search in the internet if it has free PDF. Fortunately, it does, but nothing beats  buying the book as one of your Genaro Gojo Cruz collections, and I will. 🙂

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

 

 

 

 

Iain Banks, Pat Barker, and My Backsliding into Buying Books

I feel as though I am no longer a book teetotaler, anorexic, or shopaholic because I’m now in the habit of buying books every Saturday again ( just when I have enough money). I have abstained  from this uncontrollable behavior for almost two months because I realized then that there are still a great deal of books I have not read yet. Besides, I thought that they are a waste of money because some of them are now getting ” blighted” despite that they are safely stored in two big boxes. Their pages are getting  withered, blotched, dappled, dotted, eye spotted, flecked, mottled, patched, speckled. Oh, I’m now hyperbolic. I can’t stand being obsessed over them changing like that. In fact,I am now persnickety about book covers. I enjoy reading books  more if they are in pristine conditions.

Even so, I was at ease for a short while  because I could save money unlike before despite that I had this persistent withdrawal-symptom-like situation. I tried to restrain myself from dropping into the book store. The idea of dropping into that place was always haunting me like a ghost  appearing out of nowhere. Indeed, I’m sick. It was just as well that I was engaged in a charity event every Saturday- my moral compass.

However, I could not stand my impulse any longer. I had the chance to visit it when I didn’t have classes at night during the typhoon last week. There I was, after two months, surrounded with the stacks of books higher than me. I basked in their musty musk ,and was riveted on their iridescent covers. I was like a book vulture again, scavenging on a heap of second-hand books. I was making sure that the names of the authors still sounded Greek to me. Usually, I read my list of the best novels in the world before I go to that book store, but I didn’t do so since it was a capricious decision.

The outlet of the book store has not changed yet. Luckily, there were a few customers at that time , so I didn’t need to elbow myself through the crowd . The cashier is still working there who must be familiar with me already. I was reading his mind .

“Look, the bizarro man is back. I’m sure he will be staying here until we are closed.”

As usual, I am familiar with one distinct pattern of behavior common among us bibliophiles- to look after the books you have found or you will pore over whether you will buy them or not.

As a matter of fact, little did I know that the book store was selling on sale. So, eventually, I bought four books , 3 of which have the same author- Iain M. Banks

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I bought Canal Dreams, The Player of Games, and The State of  the Art . Each was only 35 pesos.

I decided to buy  Iain Banks’s works not only because he impressed me with his The Crow Road ( 5/ 5 stars ), The Bridge ( 5 stars ), and Dead Air ( 3 stars ) , but I was enchanted by their book covers given that I wasn’t cocksure if they are included on my list. Uh-oh, I’m a different book beholder. And my gut feeling was right upon checking them on Goodreads. I could  include them in my required reading this year.However, all of them turned out to be the sequels of the first books. Alas!

Book:Canal Dreams by Iain Banks

Paperback: Abacus Fiction, 275 pages
Published :1990 by Abacus (first published 1989)

 

Synopsis: Hisako Onoda, world famous cellist, refuses to fly. And so she travels to Europe as a passenger on a tanker bound through the Panama Canal. By the end of her journey she had ignited one soldier with an oxy-acetylene torch, stabbed another through the chest with the spike of her cello, clobbered a guard with the butt of a rifle and raked terrorists with machine-gun fire before frazzling the survivors in an oil-covered sea.

 

Book:The Player of Games (Culture #2) by Iain M. Banks

Paperback: 309 pages
Published :August 10th 1989 by Orbit (first published August 1988)

Synopsis: The Culture–a humanoid/machine symbiotic society–has thrown up many great Game Players. One of the best is Jernau Morat Gurgeh, Player of Games, master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel & incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game, a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game and with it the challenge of his life, and very possibly his death.

 

 Book:The State of the Art (Culture #4) by Iain M. Banks

 

Paperback: 216 pages
Published: May 27th 1993 by Orbit (first published March 1991)
Goodreads Synopsis:

The first ever collection of Iain Banks’ short fiction, this volume includes the acclaimed novella, The State of the Art. This is a striking addition to the growing body of Culture lore, and adds definition and scale to the previous works by using the Earth of 1977 as contrast.

The other stories in the collection range from science fiction to horror, dark-coated fantasy to morality tale. All bear the indefinable stamp of Iain Banks’ staggering talent.

To dissipate my frustration,I am just souring grapes that I will still read them. I’m curious about their stories since Iain Banks is considered as one of the best imaginative writers in his generation. The Bridge and Dead Air which I have read can bear witness to this. Much more of his The Wasp Factory which catapulted him to fame.

The other book that I bought was The Ghost Road by Pat Barker  which also turned out to be a sequel to  Regeneration . But I thought that I was still lucky to buy this, apart from the fact that it was cheap,  because I had a hard time finding other Pat Barker’s works. I have found some but  they were in bad conditions. Besides, I have always been curious about P.Barker’s works. Why is he so a buzzword among readers? I will find out sooner or later.

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Book :The Ghost Road (Regeneration #3) by Pat Barker

Paperback: 278 pages
Published : 1996 by Penguin Books (first published 1995)
Synopsis:

The final book in the Regeneration Trilogy, and winner of the 1995 Booker Prize

The Ghost Road is the culminating masterpiece of Pat Barker’s towering World War I fiction trilogy. The time of the novel is the closing months of the most senselessly savage of modern conflicts. In France, millions of men engaged in brutal trench warfare are all “ghosts in the making.” In England, psychologist William Rivers, with severe pangs of conscience, treats the mental casualties of the war to make them whole enough to fight again. One of these, Billy Prior, risen to the officer class from the working class, both courageous and sardonic, decides to return to France with his fellow officer, poet Wilfred Owen, to fight a war he no longer believes in. Meanwhile, Rivers, enfevered by influenza, returns in memory to his experience studying a South Pacific tribe whose ethos amounted to a culture of death. Across the gulf between his society and theirs, Rivers begins to form connections that cast new light on his–and our–understanding of war.

Combining poetic intensity with gritty realism, blending biting humor with tragic drama, moving toward a denouement as inevitable as it is devastating, The Ghost Road both encapsulates history and transcends it. It is a modern masterpiece.

Another thing that was added to my disappointment was that I regret not having bought a critically-acclaimed book because of its bad condition,The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers; it has been scrawled with some comments which must have been done by a literary critic, and two books which may be popular among the literati because of their compelling reviews at their back covers:Pure by Andrew Miller  and One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School by Scott Turow .I hope I can still find them. Better luck next time.

As long as possible I want to avoid splurging on books I will just store for a longer period of time. Besides, I realized that I can only buy a new one  if I have almost read half of the books I haven’t even laid a finger on, especially if  that one is  rare. What an oxymoron resolution!How about challenging myself to read  them within a year? In a pig’s eye! 

Just god’s will!  I will just read  and read and read. Hahaha

How about you, buddies? What books have you bought recently? 🙂

Happy Reading, everyone!

 

 

 

 

Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard : A Book Review

22328546When I tried to flip though the first pages ( since I don’t want to read PDFs), I noticed that the story seemed to be new to my taste :  I thought stealing was the theme. So, I talked through my hat that it could be the moral talk of the town. Is stealing really morally bad? It’s not a question at all.  With this  arousing idea, I  let myself  dig it  whenever I  couldn’t read a real book on a bus , or I didn’t want to bring my  bag full of the books I haven’t read yet. As the story went deeper, there were ambivalent revelations I had feared to read cynically. First, I found the themes, settings, and backdrops   garden-variety such as the love-story scenes, the climatic conflicts, and indescribable places beyond imagination, which could have been mutated from the ideas of other famous fantasy writers, and so on.  I’m almost familiar with them in other YAs I have read or in the movies I have watched. Nevertheless, what I liked about the book is its unconcealed but  irresistible  romance among the three main characters, theme on social stratification between the SILVER and the RED, and the unexpectedly tremendous  impact  upon me at the ending. Duh, I still can’t get over it.

In a world full of accessible and vicarious  information  where people tend to have the same ideas from one place to another, from one  generation to another, we tend to be almost familiar with the same work of different authors. Consequently, we look for something new whenever we are sick and tired of it. No doubt the culture  in different aspects changes. No doubt something unique stands out among the others. This case happens to a wide reader when he/she has read the same story over and over again. Let me now stop blathering. So when it comes to reading books, specifically romantic YAs,  for instance, I am almost familiar with the same settings such as a man meets a lady by accident. Then, they will fall in love with each other until they  have reached the  complete blissfulness . Of course, the climatic conflicts they will  go through is  the  love triangle.  The supporting-actor man will comfort the  main-character  lady , but he turns out to be a bad ass. But some YAs endings are so tragic that you may need a diaper for your unbearable flow of tears. Since the book is intended for young audience, nowadays, the theme should be about a la Edward –of-Twilight style- enchantingly dour and tough. Gee, for sure,  you may be tired of it if you’re no longer a teenybopper.

So when I noticed the blatant commonality, I was almost stooped to terminal boredom. I was somehow disappointed, and lost my interest. I wanted to X the PDF and find something new to read. Besides, I am sick and tired of the same   settings and backdrops  that have gone down in world literature. In fact,  the prose appears  not to be well-written but “ simple” , to put it mildly. Victoria Aveyard may have wanted  to reach out to all kinds of  readers   since it is a YA.  So, I should blame it on my literary standard.

To distract my careful scrutiny and make this book susceptible to my negative criticism, V.  Aveyard wants to impress me  by her  ingenious plot twists. She may have come up with a theme I as her audience might find new, fresh, and original. (I wish I were right. You may cite some literary works   from which she may have drawn impression. ) To be unique, the center of the theme is the social discrepancy between the Silver and the Red. The Silver are superior to the Red.They are powerful and the privileged, the god, but the Red are considered the dredge of society.All the rage in the story is the blood distinction. Your blood can be traced: If your blood is silver, you’re a Silver. You should not live in a world apart from the inferior- the Red whose blood is red. In short, the theme is literally about social stratification.  So, the book is shed with silver and red blood which curdled my blood.  

There is something somewhat different in this book despite that I did not feel these so-called “ romantic-excitement scenes”. The love triangle among the main characters is suppressible but irresistible, which somehow  gave me a little thrill. Hihihi Let me chortle in this coquettish way. In fact, I didn’t predict  the conflicts that would  center around them wherein the supporting  man turns out to be a protagonist despite the fact that I  could have predicted it too. Therefore, I was trapped! I wanted to cry bloody murder that I was betrayed too as the book has mentioned many times the quotable line:

Anyone can betray anyone.

When I was close to its ending, at that time, I lost sight of my finickiness. All the hell let loose. The clash of the Silver   revealed  the real drama of the bogus drama. I felt the adrenaline rush in my veins. I had this burning sensation of rage  as did the main  character: I also wanted to REVENGE , and now I am ready to do so in  the book 2: Glass Sword.  Grrrr!!!

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I  got angry.)