Today, my  fellow Filipino-Chinese countrymen and the  Korean community living in the Philippines have been painting the town red in observance of the New Year according to the lunar calendar. In fact, our President declared Monday, February 08 as a non-working holiday -a long weekend for those who had  no office work this last  weekend , and especially for those voracious readers- to give respect to their most celebrated tradition. Unfortunately, our academy was open ,  par for the course conforming to Korean’s“ workaholic” culture-a custom I have almost adapted to. If I we didn’t have classes, I would definitely   have holed up in my library house the whole day. 😛 I  just want to keep up with the books I have laid on my table for a long time, the wrapped-up books  I scavenged on last year.

With no  further ado, here are the books I  ENJOYED in January because I gave most of them  high ratings:


Book: The Professor’s Daughter

Genre: Comic

Author:Joann Sfar

Rating: 3/ 5 stars

Thoughts: I liked its concept of the story- a dashing  mummy  Imhotep IV  fell in love with an Egyptologist’s beautiful daughter. Besides, its ending is unexpected without clinging to the reality.


Book: Salu-Salo Para Kay Kuya

Genre: Children’s Book

Author: Ergoe Tinio

Rating: 3/ 5 stars

Thoughts: A very touching story  that everyone who has the same experience can relate to.


Book: Tolits

Genre: Children’s Book

Author: Genaro Gojo Cruz

Rating: 3/ 5 stars

Thoughts:  Another Gojo Cruz’s masterpiece which has proved his skills in being a children raconteur.


Book: Man in the Dark

Genre:  Dystopian Novel

Author : Paul Auster

Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Thoughts: Auster’s book that endeared me to him more. I want to read his other works more.


Book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Author: Douglas Adams

  Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Thoughts: I belong to the readers who claim his  being a gifted writer. I will re-read it in  paperback.


Book: Bread Givers

Author: Anzia Yezierska

Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Thoughts: A toes-curling but important book  we should read to understand immigrant life as well as ridiculous customs we should no longer observe in our modern daily life.


Book: Crossing the Water: Eighteen Months on an Island Working with Troubled Boys- A  Teacher’s Memoir

Genre: Memoir

Author: Daniel Robb

Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Thought: A worth reading for educators and an eye-opener for narrow-minded society.


Book: The Mercury Reader

Author: Pearson

Rating: 5/ 5 stars

 Thoughts:  A collection of gifted writers’  essays which  can move the world. Follow up with my review of it next week.

In this month, I will try to finish two voluminous novels ( when my tight schedule  permits)  that have still been collecting dust bunnies on my currently-reading shelf: Moby Dick ,The Last of the Mohican ,and S. Vagus’  Kasma Forma.  Probably, I will read at least one of them depending on my   reading condition. But I am determined to read S. Vagus’s ( Grammarian, don’t be confused about the possessive form. I just prefer William Strunk Jr.’ s The Elements of Style.) because I have been enjoying  it so far, especially it is somehow light,  and interestingly, has something to do with philosophy.  In addition,  there are some books in my huge tinned  “ baul” I found more  tempting to read.  Gee, little did I realize that I have been hoarding  a great deal of   books . Most of them   still look new since I no longer desire to read an old, tattered one. So, before they become  as crispy as dried leaves , I have to  keep up with them before the year ends.  Batman ( God ) willing!

Kung Hei Fat Choi, buddies! 🙂



The Martian by Andy Weir : A Book Review

martianThe best-seller and awarded the Goodreads  Choice 2014 Winner   and   which is said to have done well  at the box office since  October 02, 2015  is indeed  WORTH READING. I  repeat it is WORTH READING.

If you have not read it yet and  have been curious about why it is such a big  talk in the Goodreads universe, I would like you to bear in mind  first some reminders before you prep it- but not necessarily that you take  them; I know you would still give it a try at any cost  out of idle curiosity.

You should be ready that reading it requires  a  paucity of MATH and other  branches of science such as CHEMISTRY, ASTRONOMY, ENGINEERING, PHYSICS , BOTANY, to name a few unless you majored in one of them. Otherwise, you might end up in a   moment of epistaxis  and cerebral hemorrhage. In other words, the   novel  is strewn with  technical words. Therefore, make sure that you have internet connection  at your disposal to Google some words beyond your imagination. In doing so can help you understand the story more clearly.

The concept of the story is very new to me, for it  may be my second Sci-Fi. The last  one was the Contact by Carl Sagan. I had enjoyed it at first since I was not completely familiar with all stuff in the universe. However, I lost my interest   in its book cover edition; I was very choosy then. (Uh-oh! Beggars cannot be choosers.) Then, I could  no longer get around to it.

An astronaut is stranded on Mars when it just happens  that he is not able to leave it with his other crews in the midst of the sandstorm. In order to survive the red  planet, he will use his vast knowledge of Botany and Engineering as well as his wide training   and experience in Astronomy. Each day is perilous for Mark as if he walks with a tight rope.

Admittedly, I was close to demoting it to 3 stars ( Not that bad. I still liked it ) for the three  reasons:

  • I did not like the writing style, let alone its prose. It is brusque in context despite the fact that it is  pregnant with jargon. ( But I know there is nothing wrong  with brusque language ; it could still be an art. Probably, it is not my cup of tea. I am more used to   classic writings  just the like of award-winning writers’. You know what I meant to say.  ^^)  Nevertheless, in the end, I realized that  Andy Weir’s intention is to  voice  what  a devastating   life of an astronaut   stuck on such  barren and dreary planet is like . ( If I am not mistaken!)
  • Although I enjoyed the parts in the beginning, of how Mark Wanty sorts  his dilemma out, the longer he describes his some problems , the  more I find them a pain in the ass. In short, they were taxing me too.
  • The plot of the story is  banal and typical of other there-should-be-on-the-rescue-scenes science fictions.

On the other hand, I can’t forbear from lavishing praise on it:

  • Indeed, it is spell-binding. Every page is so enthralling that I could no longer recognize the people around me, that I was not aware of  them, of  my environment at all. (laughs)
  • I liked its ending. It does not need to show that Mark Wanty will have a tear-jerking hero’s welcome as soon as he is back on Earth. The last   breath-taking scene of how he gets aboard and his final journal  are enough to bring a thousand words. Weir might have been aware that readers are already familiar with that schematic denouement.
  • I learned a whole lot about science. In fact, I feel like studying Astronomy. (blushing) I am now very interested in studying the heavenly bodies. All the things about Cosmo, NASA, space exploration, thingamabob. Wow! What an interesting field!
  • The theme is very purely scientific. It focuses just on Mars probe. As far as we know, Mars has been the favorite hobbyhorse among scientists in the  hypothesis that whether there is a  high chance to live on this planet or not.
  • It is very scientifically detailed. Obviously, Andy Weir researched about Mars and NASA thoroughly, especially the problems on Mars Mark Wanty has to sort out such as on how to produce water and oxygen , plant , repair the machines , blah blah blah . Wow, I was impressed. Kudos to him! ^_^
  • Despite its typically there-should-be-on-the-rescue-scenes story, the epistolary writing riddled with technical words did the justice. So, I can’t say that there is nothing new to it. Rather, I highly recommend it to everyone, notably to  students who have been taught the Creationism.

Upon reading it, I would like to conclude that:

  • The book awkwardly suggests that China has hidden ambition to compete with the USA in the field of space exploration. The good thing is that China has  not given Andy Weir a brunt of criticism nor even declared him persona non grata yet. Perhaps Weir also suggests that China has the capacity to keep up with the modern technology despite the world’s stereotype about made-in-China products.
  • The book suggests the perpetual debate among  theists and atheists whether God exists or not.
  • The book suggests that sometimes NASA or science itself has limitations; scientific analyses could be invalid, but nothing is impossible.
  • The book suggests that we, the world, at any cost, is raring to spend billions of dollars on space exploration. (Paradoxically, there is a widespread famine in some parts of the world.)
  • The book suggests that we could be optimistic in a dire situation. ( I doubt it. ) Probably yes, since we have the survival instinct. But gee, if I were Mark Watney, probably no! since I am not that as genius as he is.( laughs)
  • The book suggests that we should use our “common sense” as well as need to be knowledgeable about science at all times if the need rises.
  • The book suggests that a human being has a basic instinct to help one another out as what Mark Watney exemplifies at the end of the book  :

“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re ,massively outnumbered by the people who do. And because of that, I had billions of people on my side.”

Well, no doubt it has received   positive  feedback, so the British magazine site ,The Guardian , should put it on the new  pedestal of 1001 Best Novels of All Time.

Since I am done with it, I am all systems go for its movie adaptation, especially the actor who leads the role of Mark Watney  is  one of my favorite Hollywood actors, Matt Damon. 13 13 13 ^_^

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


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! ^_^

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton: A Book Review


How do you rate your books on Goodreads?

When I joined Goodreads in 2013, I had no conception of what criteria I should have based on rating the books I read. I just rated based on my satisfaction. But the longer I use this site, the more I come to the ideas that there are two bases how I rate a book. First, I rate the books objectively based on the writing styles although I have no background in literary studies. Second, I rate the books subjectively based on their impacts upon me.

Giving it 1 star does not mean that this Edith Wharton’s novel is inferior, nor did she make hash out of it. Not that. In fact, I was impressed by her neat writing skills as well as how she used the literary device flashback in creating this novel. She began the story under the auspices of a man narrating at the present situation, observing a crippled man, Ethan Frome, he finds mysterious. Then, the preceding chapters tell the historical background of the characters. The final chapter will make readers realize that the ‘smash-up” referred to in the first chapters has something to do with the middle parts. Reading it was like a retrograde step. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Therefore, objectively speaking, I would give it 4 stars. Hahaha However ,it just so happened that I abandoned myself to its story. I did not like it.

Why didn’t I like it? I found the story IMMATURE, ANNOYING, and LAUGHABLE .


Obviously, the love story between Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver is illicit passion. In other words, the act is no longer morally appropriate, for Ethan Frome is married and Mattie Silver is his wife’s cousin. Besides, Ethan appears to be childish. He does not act his age . On the other hand, Mattie is fucking coquettishly demure. So their dialogues drove me crazy.


Edith Wharton may have intended to write such plots with some “bologna” settings. Would you care about the broken plate and how they will repair it with glue ? Their insistence on buying glue added to the fuel more. Grrr! Also, Would you not get upset about Ethan’s sentiment in how nostalgic he is for Mattie?


The romantic dialogues between Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver make my toes curl. In addition, both decide against committing suicide by hitting the elm tree on sled. (In fact, this scene is now classic. ) Eventually, both will be miserably crippled. The ridiculous part is that Ethan Frome’s wife Zeena will be the one to take care of them.

It’s not that I am trying to be the immoralist. As a matter of fact, I consider myself an amoral Babbit. Hahaha

Now I have understood why it is said to be Edith Wharton’s most revealing novel. There is a method in her madness, but I’d rather go sledding.  ^^

Rating: 1/ 5 stars ( I didn’t like it. )

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides: A Book Review

marriageplotAs far as I remember, a few months ago, Ian McEwan, an English writer , famous for his novel Atonement, once said in an interview that he finds a very long novel boring. I was confused about his statement then because I have read some ambitious novels which are superbly amazing . In the middle of reading it, it came to me that one of the reasons may be PADDING– meaning to say to make a book thicker or its story longer, a writer pads it with unnecessary words or details. THE MARRIAGE PLOT is not far different from this kind of literary trick. The book has many parts which appear to be irrelevant and have no total significance to the heart of the story. There are some scenes which are described and narrated exaggeratedly, as though in English grammar, they are non-essential clauses. They just serve as extra information, so they undermine the exciting and thrilling flows of the story. To put it bluntly, they add fuel to the boredom. In addition, they distracted my concentration on the crux of the three main characters’ stories. No doubt I came close to giving it 2 stars. Somehow, I was grateful for the previous dull stretch because it increased my eventual pleasure.

Nevertheless, I was brainwashed into giving it 3 stars for some reasons:

(a) The books the readers get into although I’m not very much familiar with them. Also, I enjoyed the academic discussions, particularly on the polemical arguments on the existence of GOD.

(b) The novel is steeped in hefty metaphors or semiotics to make the book sound very modern despite the fact that  it may almost reflect Jeffrey Eugenides’ la-di-dah attitude. Eugenides’s writing styles reminds me of Martin Amis.

(c) The engrossing characters of Madeiline Hanna, a graduating student who bends her mind to her thesis, THE MARRIAGE PLOT and moons over sexual fantasies, for she is inexperienced in sex; Leonard Bankhead, a Darwinian student, diagnosed with manic-depression (Poor Leonard. He broke my heart.) ; and Mitchell Grammaticus, a religious studies student who is generally acting strange – resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.

(d) The love triangle among the three main characters above and its  ending; it is very unique.

(e) Hilarity and transparency. It is brazenly written regardless of whatever kinds of readers will read it, for it has lot of sex scenes. Of course, it is not a total pulp fiction. It is what the real world people usually make the light of, or are scared to bring up. Thus, it is not good for the ultraconservative. For sure they would give it x-double -minus rating. f@$#$ hypocrites.

(f) Finally, before I read it, my friend on Goodreads warned that we read it carefully on account of its confusing plot. But by my troth, readers can manage it. In fact, its plot is the main reason why I eventually enjoyed it. It is a challenging story puzzle. The only problem is how to patch the stories together for someone. Hahaha Alas, only this part is deserving of 5 stars.

This is my first Eugenides novel. He has not let me down yet. I know his famous novels Middlesex and Virgin Suicides will drop my jaw once I get into them.

Rating : 3/ 5 stars

A Son of the Circus by John Irving: A Book Review

Somewhere in a vacuous universe of this tube, Joey bumped into GR.

Joey: Hi, you look familiar with me. Have we met before? You must be … one of my friends on Good Reads!

GR: Oh, yeah! You are …Joey! ( overwhelmed )

Joey: And you are …GR! Oh, it’s nice to see ya here! ( shaking hands with GR)

GR: Oh, yeah! As though we haven’t seen each other for ages! ( laughs)
( then she saw a book Joey holding) Oh, you must be reading something. ( trying to look through it) Wait ! wait! Wait! You have been reading John Irving’s ?

Joey: ( hiding the book behind his back ) Ah,huh…er… I have. ( smiling )

GR: What’s the title?

Joey: Ah…er..A Son of the Circus.

GR: Oh, really? Wait! ( thinking ) Is not that on the list of 1001 Best Novels of All Time? ( giggling)

Joey: Oh, yeah! You are right!

GR: I said it. So,what do you think of it?( excited )

Joey: Ah.. er..Well, H-how bout you? What have you been reading?

GR : Oh, I have just finished a chicklit by Rainbow Rowell. OMG! It’ terrific. I recommend you read it. It’s heart-breaking!In fact, it won …..

Joey: Oh, really?

GR: So , Is John Irving’s interesting?

Joey: Er..I think I have heard a lot of good things about Rowell. I would love to read hers too.

GR: Oh, yeah ! Come on! Get on with it! Then, let me know what you think of it. I am so excited !What was it again? Oh, yeah! It is John…

Joey : Ah,( looking at his watch ) er.. I am sorry! I’ve got to go! Nice to meet you again, GR. Chat you on Good reads. ( walking past him in a hurry)

GR: Er..H-how about …? Wait! ( waving his hand ) Ok. ( watching him fading away ) …Is there something the matter with the book? ( muttering under his breath, despaired)

When GR was home, he logged into his Goodreads account. The first message popped was from Joey’s.

To: GR
From: Joey

Hi, GR. I’ve checked that you haven’t read A Son of the Circus by John Irving’s yet.Well, I don’’t wanna be a spoiler. If you wanna read it, have LONG PATIENCE.
Otherwise, you might end up laying it to rest.
Good luck!


At last, I finished this 708 –page novel since I had let it on my study table collect mote of dust as well as get stuck and musty in my currently-reading list on Goodreads for a year. Gee, at that time I still found it very humorous, replete with amusing themes I could not find from other novels, as well as I was impressed by its firs immortal THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP ( 4 stars ). In fact, I was tempted to read first thereupon buying his A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR because I was fascinated by its softbound cover. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. So, automatically, I gave it 1 star. And for the second time around, A SON OF THE CIRCUS is somewhat less disappointing than the former . What’s the matter? In effect, doubtless , John Irving is a gifted writer. I liked the fact that he is able to write such ambitious novels as though he does not have to deal with a writer’s block, as if he never runs out of any ideas. Besides, it is amazing of him to jumble up his different themes together in the same concept. On the other hand, since it is now my third novel, I am now getting more familiar with his writing style than that I found out why I gave both A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR and this one 1 star. First, Irving loves dilly-dallying with his stories as I thought of before. He tends to beat around the bush. He does not stick to the main story. Rather, he tells more details about a superficial situation I am not very much familiar with. . Who cares? Thus, the narrator sounds to be blabbering.

Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah!

Furthermore, I have noticed that John Irving loves repeating the same stories in the other chapters in a sense that they are all connected- a writing style that is doubtless very rare among other writers. However, such style is persistent in a sense that it ends up a pain in the ass. Imagine a plot goes like this :

Chapter 1 : You read a story …………………..blah! blah! blah!
Chapter 2: You read another story…….then here it goes again, the same with Chapter 1…blah! blah! blah!

I am telling you. You need a considerable amount of long patience to finish it.

Granted that this is less disappointing, I believe that this is still a masterpiece. For me , any piece of literary work is a labor of writing skills. Alas, it’s beyond my taste. But as the cliché goes,” There must be the method to Irving’s madness.”, and this is on what I want to be shed light someday.

I still have his two novels more on my shelf: A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY and UNTIL I FIND YOU. I wonder if he wrote them with the same style. Dear me!