23 BOOKS IN JULY 2015

Last year, I managed to read 100 books . It was  an  astounding and fulfilling  experience I had not expected . It just so happened that I had  rude awakening  in that mid-year when I found out that Goodreads, the biggest book club site in the world , has this  challenging goal for its members including myself. You can set a reading goal as many as you can. The site monitors how many reads you have done so far which I am a little quite pressured about. However,  I realized that you don’t need to keep up with the goal. Just enjoy the book. You can  understand it more.

Since I  just created my own book blog  in March this year, it is now too late for me to share the books I  have read  for the past 4 months. So I will just share the ones I read in July, the month when  I was so   obsessed with reading more books.

Supposedly, I must read only the books on   my currently-reading shelf on Goodreads. However,  I  drew my attention to the local  books   I bought on sale. Well, that’s the way a bookworm and book lover  is.

The books are more on poems, LGBT, essays, children books, novellas, and short stories.

 

1. Human Decency by Gong Ji Young ( 3/5 stars ). One of the Korean fictions my nun student gave to me as a pasalubong ( gift ) coming from her country. I liked the story because its plot is quite enigmatic and misleading.

2. Saling Pusa by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz ( 1/ 5 stars ) I had had a hard time looking for its copy at National Book Store branches .

Not much satisfied with its story but I was glad to have read one of Genaro Cruz’s children books since I am now his  avid fan  upon reading his YA Connecting the Dots: Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay.

I  have still been  hunting his other works such as Si Tolits, Jeep ni Mang Tomas, Ang Bahaghari, Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa,Pitong AngelAng Aking PamilyaHello, Tatay!Ang Asul na KaritonMalaking Malaking BahayAng Kamisetang Dilaw. and Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting

I am now a Genaronian. (laughs)

3. Nanay Coring by Yvette Hernandez ( 2/ 5 stars ) A simple story – enough to educate children how the National Book Store reached its apogee under the indefatigable determination of Nanay Coring

4.Angkas by Aris Santos ( 3 / 5 stars ) An LGBT short story which opens narrow-minded individuals’ eyes to the real internal feelings of a gay toward a straight man.

5. Hangganan by Aris Santos ( 3/ 5 stars ) Another eye-opener LGBT short story. The story is realistic that only LGBT community can understand.

6. Best Man by Aris Santos ( 3/ 5 stars ) It could be my most favorite work of Aris Santos. I cringed at the story , but its concept bespeaks that there is such thing Love Triangle  between a gay and man and a woman. Enough said!

7. A Dwarf Launches a Little Ball by Cho Se-Hui ( 3/ 5 stars )  Another story  that illustrates what a really knitted Korean family looked like  when Korea was still a poor country.

8. Father Solo and other stories by Isagani R. Cruz ( 5/ 5 stars ) Thanks to Isagani . I have now the confidence to write.

9. The Soul Mate Meets its Mate by Arch Bala ( 1/ 5 stars ) I did not like the story- ill-thought and slapdash. It could be a chit-lit. Nevertheless, I admired Bala’s craft of writing.

10. Ang Kwento ng Manok at ang Asong si Patty by Arch Bala ( 4/ 5 stars ) Among Bala’s works, it is the only one that astounded and proved me wrong that he has what it takes to be a good writer. Encore, Arch! I liked this kind of story. It could be your trademark.  ^_^

11. Sapatos by Arch Bala ( 2/ 5 stars ) What happened? The beginning and the middle part are almost cliff-hanging and at the same time impressively adulterated with  the  beautiful sentences. However, its ending seems like the author was at loss for   another ideas.  God willing! Sayang!

12. Hope by Arch Bala ( 1/ 5 stars ) It just so happened that I am not Kapampangan. I had these stuffy feelings.

13. Bulosan by Carlos Bulosan ( 5 / 5 stars ) Another remarkable collections of Carlos Bulosan.

14. The Landlady by Road Dahl ( 1/ 5 stars ) The longer I read Road Dahl’s stories, the more I come to realize that I don’t enjoy his works much. I still have some of his other short stories, but I will still hang in there.

15. Bight, Catholic-and Gay by Danton Remoto ( 4/ 5 stars ) I admire Danton Remoto’s writing styles. He is one of the writers along with Doris Lessing, and Isagani R. Cruz who made me muster enough confidence that I CAN  write.

16. The Secret of the Cave and Other  Stories for young  readers by Ed Maranan ( 3/ 5 stars ) Light and typical of Filipino writing

17. Ladlad 3 by Danton Remoto ( 5/ 5 stars ) At last I have completed this classic LGBT literature. I hope to read its new edition.

 18. Sugar and Salt by Nichotchka Rosca ( 5/ 5 stars ) Rotska has this gall to experiment a literary work. It is a W. O.W.!

19. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White ( 3 / 5 stars ) A philosophical book that an average young reader might not have an idea of what this book is really all about.

20. Pulot Gata by Danton Remoto ( 3/ 5 stars ) Read between the lines. ^^

21. Twisted Travels by Jessica Zafra ( 3/ 5 stars) Now I understand why Jessica Zafra is an immortal writer.

22. Gaydar by Danton Remot ( 5/ 5 stars ) Danton Remoto said , “ You CAN write after all.”

23. Where the Boys Are by Richard Labonte ( 3/5 stars ) An erotica which narrow-minded , or to put it bluntly, hypocrite, readers might cringe at.

I haven’t written my reviews of the books above yet   on account of my demanding job.  I need enough time to do so.

In this August ,  I will be clearing out  my currently –reading shelf on Goodreads. The books have been collecting dust bunnies and mice.

  1. Moby Dick by Herman Merville. I miss reading a classic steeped in old English words.
  2.  A Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. I want to understand Nelson Mandela’s fighting spirit again.
  3. Thinking by John Brockman . It is  mental calisthenics.
  4. Dead Air by Iain Banks. I learned that it is not a good read, but still I will give it a try.

When I am tired of their hefty contents, I might turn  to:

  1. A Man in the Dark by Paul Austere.
  2. Jungle of No Memory: A Memoir of a Japanese Soldier by Hiroyuki Mizuguchi.
  3. Spartacus by Howard Fast . Little did I realize that I am fond of reading books on ancient military.

So far I have read 2 book for the first week of August.I am now kicking to  bury myself in those  above-mentioned  books.  ^^

Happy Reading to everyone! ^_^

The Secret of the Cave and Other Stories for Young Readers by Ed Maranan : A Book Review

IMG_20130110_035026What really made me decide to grab it  in a flash apart from the fact that I bought it  at  reduced price is its cute paperback picture. A boy ,  whole -naked  except with a “bahag” ( garment ) draped around his  waist like an underwear , typical of an indigenous  Igorot in the  Cordillera Region in the Philippines, is drawing some pictures in the cave wall   with a pair of  wood sticks as his brushes. Besides, the color  of the background  was beautifully illustrated. As a result, it is so appealing to my eyes that I was eager to absorb myself in its contents.

Ed Maranan , the author of the book, compiled his four short stories which reflect in the typical life of the Filipino.

The Secret of the Cave

The story centers around Masino and Simona. You can notice the anagram  in their names.

Masino ,   a native boy lived in the primitive time ,  was so enthusiastically eager to learn what  adults usually do.  His  parents found his ideas such as his dream to fly like birds strange. His character was like an impulsive child who had many bees in his bonnet and ants in his pants. Out of this character, he died from  his plan to climb a high mountain. A tragic part.

Simona , a young  , introvert  geek who prefers to be left to her   reading  books about  human culture and geography . She  is inspired to be an anthropologist someday. Like Masino,  her parents find her strange too because of her out-of-this-world ideas such as her being maudlin toward the nature. She becomes obsessed  about the graffiti  Masino draws  in the cave wall .

 Lolo Magno and The Sweetest Mango in the World

I never used  to be fond of  eating  yellow  mangoes ( different from Indian green mangoes) , but now I love them since my cousin brought some mangoes back to Manila from Zambales. The mangoes grown in Zambales are said to be the most delicious mangoes in the world. As far as I know, then retired Pope Benedict (Joseph Ratzinger)  once said  that he likes the mangoes from Zambales in the Philippines. In fact, the  unripe mangoes there  are already sweet . Thereafter, I have been searching its aftertaste unparalleled to the other mangoes I buy in the market.

In this story, Lolo Magno Senior gave his favorite grandson , Magno  Junior , a book as a gift rather than  his favorite toys.  He wrote the book himself which is about the accounts of his mango farms in the Philippines. Later on Magno will appreciate the  present as he grows up until he has made his own family. He will come back to the Philippines to see the  mango orchards  his grandfather built. There he found out why his  Lolo Magno ‘s mangoes are considered as the sweetest ones in the world.

The Day the Crocodiles Came

I did not enjoy it much because I have some ideas of  how the story will go in the end. I don’t like listening to legends or myths which are completely out of reality, but somehow I enjoyed it  because I remembered  my grandfather.

Neighbors

There is a tricky one in this book. Ed Maranan must have intended to make Neighbors as the last part because  ,similar to other heart-rending novels , readers   become emotional . Nevertheless, I appreciated the story since it had an impact upon me. Everyone  could for  sure relate  to it especially those who were born in country sides.

I liked this book for some reasons:

(a) Typical of Filipino life. Filipino custom and values  are reflected in the short stories . In The Secret of the Cave, it deals with the modern and old life  of the Filipino families. In Lolo Magno and The Sweetest Mango in the World is about being proud of our mangoes  and working  abroad. In The Day the Crocodiles Came ;of  how  life and  love among couples were being intertwined in the past. Finally, Neighbors ;of poverty experienced by a poor family causing  the pillar of the house to take the plunge in working abroad as a domestic helper- typical of a domestic helper who comes back lying in a horizontal position.

(b) Ed Maranan’s ingenuity. He used anagram to add excitement and interest in the story. For instance, the names Masino and Simona in the Secret Cave. Lolo Magno if you scrabble his name is Mango. Another thing is his namedropping  some  historical figures such as Andres, Jose, and Leonora.

( c) All the  stories are  too light  to read. It is not as hard as the other westernized books that I still have to turn over in my mind.  Besides, its English command is really typical of Filipino- English, not as native as American , but grammatically correct. In this way, I can learn how to form   correct English sentences. This is the good thing about Filipino fictions written in English and which I will not get sick and tired of.

On the other hand, when it comes to combining short stories in one book, it is important that the publisher knows how to organize each story according to its qualitative contents and elements. If the tones and concepts of the stories are  joyful,  magical , surreal, then they could  be preludes to the book. If they are a little serious , philosophical, or otherwise cliffhanging ,  then they could serve as  the climaxes to the finale , which  readers might find  so complicated to get out of. If they are tear-jerking, bitter-sweet, tragic, melodramatic, then they could be the denouements which might render readers speechless or maudlin. Perhaps the above-mentioned techniques could be done vice-versa. It depends on  of what organization the publisher thinks  marketable. In this respect, Ed Maranan’s publisher really knows his stuff.

In the context of this book, the first story’s literary atmosphere is surreal.  I was fascinated. Then, the middle parts are bittersweet, notably  the Lolo Magno and The Sweetest Mango in the World.   Finally, its finale; romantically idealistic,  but melodramatic  , with the feelings  you have  been imbued all along . This last part made me elevate the book to 3 stars.

Obviously, the  title suggests that  the book  is intended for young readers. I am now in my twenties , but I still read such genre. Did I feel reading like a child? I did, but not as much as a child does. If I were, I would just have hopped   with  joy around my room. ^_^

Anyway, I will still read YA’s at any costs.

Rating: 3/ 5  stars ( I liked it. )

Local Books are Now on My List

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Definitely, my big, big frustration   since   the day I discovered my penchant for reading books is to buy  not only  new best-selling  international books but also local ones written by award-winning Filipino writers. (Who wants to get stuck  in a time warp? ) I still cannot afford their astronomical prices despite that I’ve got my job , so I just slobber over them  in book stores while thumbing through their  appealing paperbacks.

I rarely splurge on one book when I have enough budgets. Poor old  me!  I could be kleptomaniac for sure. Jeez whiz!  In fact, I could spend 350 pesos , the common price of the books , on more than 7 imported books at  a second-hand book store. At least they are on the list of 1001 Best Novels of All Time. Bitter!

Green with envy , I leave the book stores  chanting yada yada yada  in the  chambers of my mind, hoping   that the pantheistic forces   conspire with me that those books I crave  be on sale.

Eventually, my silent  wish has come true. Recently, when my friend fond of reading Philippine books had told me about the local books the National Book Store branch is selling on sale- it may be  part of its yearly clearance -I marked it on my plan last Saturday. I was aware of that I had to scrimp and save, but  this  desire  had kept on eating me.

1. Bulosan : An Introduction with Selections by E. San Juan , Jr.

If someone asks me what  Filipino classic  he/ she wants  me to  recommend, definitely, so far, Carlos Bulosan’s  America is in the Heart. This  novel  is  based on   his life story as a countryside  boy and eventually as an  immigrant in America    during the  American colonialism. So, his accounts are heart-rending  and inspiring , for Bulosan showed his determination and hope he had showed from being a farmer boy to a writer  despite the travails he had gone through.

Bulosan mentioned in his book the stories and essays  that redounded him to fame. I can read some of them in this book. I can’t wait.  ^^

 2. Jungle of No Mercy : Memoir of Japanese Soldier by Hiroyuki Mizuguchi

I love reading memoirs. When I  found out that it has something to do with a Japanese soldier’s memoir in the Philippines , I remembered my a-la-Lola-Basyang  grandfather who always told us about his juvenile life during  the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. So,this book could be a time machine I could ride back to the past. Yaahaa!

3. The Secret of the Cave and other Stories for Young Readers by Ed Maranan

Its  paperback picture is so intriguing that I was like a child eager to know what the  aboriginal boy draws in the cave wall  all about. I read and rated it with 3 stars. I’m still assimilating  it.^^

4. Danton Remoto’s books

I am now a big fan of Danton Remoto. Before I disliked his ways of publicity in the media  considering that his advocacy is about our rights, but  upon reading his  Gaydar,  there is a method to his  madness after all.

a. Pulotgata: The Love Poems

I want to explore  Remoto’s godsend talents more.  I read and rated it with 4 stars. I’m still assimilating it.^^

b. Bright, Catholic- and Gay

Reading Remoto’s essays on social issues , notably homosexuality in the Philippines is addicting. I am currently reading it now. But I still can’t somehow bring myself to read it  on the bus to work since its  paperback is about two Davids holding hands with  wings flapping. ( Blushing)

c. Gaydar

My friend only  lent me this  , so  I want to have my own copy since  Remoto’s writing skills struck me in awe.

I’m enjoying reading local books now which I , of course,   must do  to show our  nationalism. Actually, my desire to read  books on spirit of  nationalism  has been awoken  since I read Celso  Al.  Carunungan’s Like a Brave Man ( Alas,   I dunno where  on earth it has been . Besides,  Goodreads does not have  its records) ; then, Candy Gourlay’s Tall Story.

likeabravemann

There are some  books  in National Book Store  I wish to read  more beyond  exorbitance. As of now , all I have to do is to bind time.

“ When you want something, all the universe conspires…”

-Paolo Coelho-

Happy reading to everyone! ^__^

tall story