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Local Book Reviews

I figured I won’t be able to reach my goal of reading 50 books in 2008 as I’m still at books # 45, 46 and 47 (This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen, Fast Food Fiction edited by Noelle de Jesus and Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado respectively), but I figured I should be able to reach my resolution to review 25 books. I removed my progress counter from the previous layout already, but if my count was right, I think I’ve reviewed 20 books already, including the last three ones I reviewed (The Thirteenth Tale, City of Bones and Privileged).

Anyway, the next reviews will be on the local books I picked up late this year. I started reading some local chick lit for research on my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel, and I ended up buying and reading more than I originally planned to. It was…entertaining. It’s interesting to read some local chick lit, and I’m glad there are some, but I wish they’re longer. Reading really thin books makes me feel like I’m not reading anything at all. But then again, who knows about the market here?

Here are the books I’ve lined up for review for this post:

Since they’re all relatively short novels, I thought I’d bunch them up in one post. :) Before anything else, please note that the contents of this post are purely based on my opinion. My opinion is bound to be different than others’, so no offense to anyone. :)

Continue reading Local Book Reviews

Meet The Robinsons and Scoop

I’ve been doing some movie watching this week, much thanks to Triskal who can help me watch while on the road, and I thought I’d do some movie reviews since it’s been a while since I last did one. :)

Scoop (2006)

SCOOP (2006)

Rating: [rate 3]

A student journalist, for a college paper, visiting friends in contemporary London happens upon the scoop of a lifetime. Along the investigative trail, she finds magic, murder, mystery – and perhaps love, with a British aristocrat.

Now I only watched this movie all because of the hunkiness that is Hugh Jackman. ♥ I also think Scarlett Johansson is a good actress, so this should be interesting. The movie starts with Joe Stromble’s funeral, which later moves to his soul together with the other dead ones on a boat with the Grim Reaper. He talks to one, who apparently is the old secretary of Peter Lyman (Jackman) and she has reason to believe that he is the Tarot Card Killer, who kills brown haired prostitutes with a tarot card sign after. Scarlett plays Sondra Prensky, a journalism student who is in London for some project. She attends one of Sid’s (Woody Allen) show as Splendini the magician and volunteers for the vanishing act. Inside the box, she meets the ghost of Joe Stromble who gives her a tip on Peter Lyman. So off she goes to investigate, dragging Sid with her. She meets Peter with her fake drowning, and they use this closeness to investigate on him. Sondra falls in love with him, while Sid realizes that maybe Peter really is a fake.

Now the movie is nice, if only because of Hugh Jackman’s presence. But somehow I feel like the movie’s lacking something. I feel like Hugh and Scarlett didn’t have much chemistry together, even if I think they played their roles perfectly. Did that make sense? Maybe it just turned me off that from the first moment that Peter and Sondra met, they both want to get into one another’s pants. That particular part did not feel realistic enough; half the time they were kissing and making goo-goo eyes to each other. I also feel that the investigation/mystery part of the movie wasn’t given that much focus. It dragged on the first part and then quickly wrapped up at the last. Woody Allen was stellar, though, and if it weren’t for him (and yes, the hunkiness of Hugh Jackman), the movie would lose all its charms.

Just three stars, and one is for Hugh Jackman. Sorry, maybe on your next movie, I’ll give you more. But you’re still hot. :P

Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Rating: [rate 5]

Lewis is a brilliant 12-year-old orphan who has failed a lot of adoption interviews because of his creativity. On his last failed interview, he decides to create an invention that would let him search deep in his memory so he could see his mother when she left her at the orphanage. He brings this invention to the science fair and meets Wilbur, who warns him of a Bowler Hat Guy. Lewis’ invention screws up much thanks to the said person, and he loses belief in himself. Wilbur tries to convince him to go back to the Science Fair but Lewis doesn’t want to and he doesn’t believe that the former is from the future, so Wilbur brings him to 2037, his current time. Unfortunately, the two of them got into an accident, which makes Lewis stay, making him meet Wilbur’s wacky family as well while the Bowler Hat Guy works on destroying the time and space continuum.

Now this is a good movie. :) I am a fan of cartoons, so this interested me, but the story just pulled me in. Its main storyline played on time travel, and unlike other time traveling movies, this one doesn’t make you confused with the continuity. The characters were wacky, especially the Bowler Hat Guy! The revelations were quite surprising, and the ending was nicely done. The movie stresses the importance of family, and of always moving forward despite all failures. :)

This movie is definitely a keeper, something I’d like to watch over and over again. :) Another notable character there is Goob. Who is he? Watch the movie, you’ll know. :D

Flabbergasted (Ray Blackston)

Flabbergasted by Ray Blackston Rating: [rate 5]

Jay Jarvis just moved East.
His dating life’s gone south.
What else is a guy to do but go fishing?

Flabbergasted is a story of a twenty-something year old stockbroker who just moved to Greenville, South Carolina. Jay is not a serious Christian; in fact, he calls his religion “workaholic”, and it wasn’t until his real estate agent told him that in Greenville, the in thing are churches, not bars. So Jay drives to the North Hills Presbyterian Church, fully intending to meet females but he didn’t expect Ecuador missionary Allie Kyle to catch his eye. In order to get to know Allie, he volunteers to help out in their singles beach trip. There he meets his new best friend Steve, righteous-man-with-big-words Stanley, married surfer dude Ransom, The Numericals, Allie’s lime-green loving best friend Darcy (and her lime green Sherbet) and of course, Allie. Jay’s landing into the church feels so casual, and yet, “God had him at the collar” and was leading him into places he never would have imagined he would be.

Flabbergasted is a lad lit, a sub-genre of chick lit for men, where a twenty-something semi-successful man is the narrator. Reviews of this book are mixed; some of them really like this while some don’t. I fall in the former.

The novel, true to its nature, is very light and funny. The dialogues kept me laughing and giggling to myself while reading it and the characters are indeed so wacky but at the same time so real. I like how clean it is, with hardly any mention of sex or male enhancement or anything in that nature. The story is real enough in the sense that some people join religious groups to scope out some chicks or some boys, and while it’s not right, the novel shows that even with these kinds of intentions, God makes use of them to get us closer to Him.

Writing wise, some parts of the story are kind of hard to connect with each other, especially when the story suddenly turns into another part of Jay’s life. Some chapters are kind of skippable too, but they make up the story quite nicely. I think we will all see ourselves in Jay Jarvis as he eventually sees himself and what God wants for him. The ending is a bit obvious, but Jay’s realizations wraps it up really good.

It’s a good book, perfect for some light afternoon reading. :D

…I really just wanted to stay tight — tight to the south of God, right there in his shadow. Because outside of God’s shadow, I was just a gaudy plastic float filled with stubborn air, drifting off like a blind Jonah in search of Plan B, manipulating circumstances and wondering why I kept waking up in my very own Tarshish. But in God’s shadow I had been dazzled by the detour, amazed at the fraternity, and flabbergasted by the depth that comes from simplicity, from serving in a village that was shabby, green, and pulsing with life.”
– Jay Jarvis, p. 326

Savannah from Savannah (Denise Hildreth)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

Savannah from Savannah by Denise HildrethI’m coming home to prove something..to my city, my mother, and myself.It is a place known to most as Savannah. It is a place known to me as home. I wish I could tell you it was my love for this city that precipitated my return. But I did not return out of a mere longing for home. I returned because I have something to prove to home. I am Savannah…from Savannah.

Savannah from Savannah is the first part of the trilogy of Savannah Phillips, a twenty-four year old woman who has been named by her mother after their beloved Georgia town, Savannah. Savannah had just finished graduate school when she learns two things: 1) her favorite newspaper writer back home passed away and 2) her novel was chosen by a New York publishing house and it will be considered for publishing and she should go to their awards night. After a bit of squealing and all, she notices that the letter has her mother’s name. She puts two and two together and realized that her mother Victoria (Vicky) pulled some strings to get her there. She decided to go home and apply at the newspaper to continue the legacy of her favorite writer and to show her mom just who she is and that she doesn’t need any help — especially her’s — to reach her dreams.

Or does she? Savannah goes back home ready to prove things to her mother, but it turns out she has a lot more to find out not only about her mother but also about herself. (What a cheesy way to put it. :p)

Continue reading Savannah from Savannah (Denise Hildreth)

Blink (Ted Dekker)

Rating: [rate 4]

Blink by Ted DekkerThe future changes in the BLINK of an eye…or does it?

Seth Borders isn’t your average graduate student. For starters, he has one of the world’s highest IQs. Now he’s suddenly struck by an incredible power–the ability to see multiple potential futures.

Still reeling from this inexplicable gift, Seth stumbles upon a beautiful woman named Miriam. Unknown to Seth, Miriam is a Saudi Arabian princess who has fled her veiled existence to escape a forced marriage of unimaginable consequences. Cultures collide as they’re thrown together and forced to run from an unstoppable force determined to kidnap or kill Miriam.

Seth’s mysterious ability helps them avoid capture once, then twice. But with no sleep, a fugitive princess by his side, hit men a heartbeat away, and a massive manhunt steadily closing in, evasion becomes impossible. – From Westbow Press website

This is my second Dekker book, and because of the good experience I’ve had with Thr3e, I expected a lot from this one too. The blurb from Westbow Press explained the basic plot of the story already, so let’s get to the review.

The thing I really like about Dekker is that his characters come out like real people. Thr3e‘s characters (Kevin, Sam, Slater, Jennifer) makes me wonder if they somehow exist out there (then again, that existence is kind of weird…haha, you’d have to read the novel to get what I mean :p). Blink is no different, and I’ve grown to love Seth Border for the past 36 hours or so since I started reading it, I kind of wish he’s a real person. But then again, that may be the inner girl speaking in me — Seth seemed like the perfect gentleman, even amidst his intellect and unique gift. One particular scene that proved this was when he and Miriam booked into a hotel: he knew he had some sort of feelings for her, but he reserved two rooms so as not to take advantage of her. Then again, this is Christian fiction.

Continue reading Blink (Ted Dekker)

The Well of Lost Plots (Jasper Fforde)

Rating: [rate 5]

The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde“Anything is possible in the BookWorld. The only barriers are those of the human imagination.”
– Miss Havisham

Protecting the world’s greatest literature — not to mention keeping up with Miss Havisham — is tiring work for an expectant mother. And Thursday can definitely use a respite. So what better hideaway than inside the unread and unreadable Caversham Heights, a cliche-ridden pulp mystery in the hidden depths of the Well of Lost Plots, where all unpublished books reside? But peace and quiet remain elusive for Thursday, who soon discovers that the Well itself is a veritable linguistic free-for-all, where grammasites run rampant, plot devices are hawked on the black market, and lousy books — like Caversham Heights — are scrapped for salvage. To top it off, a murderer is stalking Jurisfiction personnel and nobody is safe — least of all Thursday.

This is the third novel in the Thursday Next novels, which tells of Thursday’s first adventures in the BookWorld while she “rests” from the real world. She resides in Caversham Heights as a part of the Character Exchange Program, lives in a houseboat with two Generics ibb and obb (eventually named Lola and Randolph), her pet dodo Pickwick who is warming her egg and her 108-year old Granny Next. She is apprenticed under Miss Havisham and meets lots of books characters including Trafford Bradshaw, Vern Deane, the Bellman, the Cat formerly known as Cheshire, detective partners Perkins and Snell and the only other Outlander (meaning a real person), Harris Tweed. As well as trying to learn her way around the Book World and playing her role as DS Mary, partner of DCI Jack Spratt in a totally unreadable novel in danger of being scrapped, she also has to battle Aornis Hades’ mindworm which threatens to erase all her memory of her eradicated husband, Landen Parke-Laine.

Continue reading The Well of Lost Plots (Jasper Fforde)

Lost in a Good Book (Jasper Fforde)

Rating: [rate 4]

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper FfordeHer adventures as a renowned Special Operative in literary detection have left Thursday Next yearning for a rest. But when the love of her life is eradicated by the corrupt multinational Goliath Corporation, Thursday must bite the bullet and moonlight as a Prose Resource Operative in the secret world of Jurisfiction, the police force inside books. There she is apprenticed to Miss Havisham, the famous man-hater from Dickens’ Great Expectations, who teaches her to book-jump like a pro. If she retrieves a supposedly vanquished enemy from the pages of Poe’s “The Raven,” she thinks Goliath might return her lost love, Landen. But her latest mission is endlessly complicated. Not only are there side trips to the works of Kafka and Austen, and even Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Flopsy Bunnies, Thursday finds herself a target of a series of potentially lethal coincidences, the authenticator of a newly discovered play by the Bard himself, and the only one who can prevent an unidentifiable pink sludge from engulfing all life on Earth.

Well, that summary surely said enough. Lost in a Good Book is the sequel to The Eyre Affair, which picks up just about two weeks from the last novel. The book is just as fun to read as the last one, with all the new characters coming in especially the ones from fiction.

Continue reading Lost in a Good Book (Jasper Fforde)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”

It’s a story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. The world of sex, drugs and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where all you need is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.– blurb from the back of the book

I’ve been trying to find this book for almost a year but always failing. This is just like The Virgin Suicides…a copy keeps evading me, until that day at National Bookstore when I finally spotted a copy of this. I bought it immediately, savoring the idea that I finally have this book. :P

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an epistolary novel, filled with letters from Charlie who seems to be writing to you, the reader, because “she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.” Charlie begins to tell you of his adventures during his freshman year of high school, of how his friend Michael kills himself, on how he met his friends Patrick (aka Nothing) and Sam. Every letter is filled with stories of his experiences with his family (who is actually quite normal), his friends and their encounters with drugs, alcohol, smoking and sex. Continue reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)

The Big Over Easy (Jasper Fforde)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde (image courtesy of amazon.co.uk)Dead bodies never look like this.

It’s Easter in Reading — a bad time for eggs — and the shattered, tuxedo-clad corpse of a local businessman Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III has been found lying beneath a wall in a shabby part of town. Humpty was one of life’s good guys — so who would want him knocked off? And is it a coincidence that his ex-wife has just met with a sticky end down at the local biscuit factory?

A hardened cop on the mean streets of the Thomas Valley’s most dangerous precinct, DI Jack Spratt has seen it all, and something tells him this is going to be a tough case to crack… – blurb from the back of the book

We all know Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall and had a great fall…but do we ever wonder why he fell? Jasper Fforde explores this idea in his first Jack Spratt novel, The Big Over Easy. The novel starts with the introduction of Detective Sergeant (DS) Mary Mary, who is applying for a job in the Reading Police Department. She’s a good detective, though she always ends up having to do difficult choices for herself. She thought she would be working with Friedland Chymes, her number one idol but as with every new employee, she had to start out low — in the Nursery Crime Division (NCD) under DI Jack Spratt.

Continue reading The Big Over Easy (Jasper Fforde)

Something Rotten (Jasper Fforde)

Rating: [rate 5]

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde (image courtesy of Amazon.co.uk)Literary detective Thursday Next is on a mission — and it’s not just a mission to save the planet. If only life were that simple.

Unemployed following an international cheese-smuggling scandal, our favorite cultural crime-fighter is faced with a world of problems: Hamlet’s not attending his conflict resolution classes, President George Formby is facing a coup led by dastardly Yorrick Kaine and, what’s more, the evil Goliath Corporation are refusing to un-eradicate Thursday’s husband, Landen.

Will she ever see Landen again? Is shopping the new religion? Can Thursday prevent Armageddon? And who will babysit her son while she does it? – blurb from the back of the book

If you were (or still) a fan of Nancy Drew or have read Agatha Christie novels, you’d probably like Thursday Next. Thursday is Nancy Drew and Hercule Poirot thrown in a Harry Potter-like land: an alternate England where there is a special police department named Special Operatives (SpecOps) who deals with EVERYTHING (from literature to the undead), where having a stalker is normal, where time travel is possible and where dodos make good pets. What a world, eh? I definitely agree. :)

Something Rotten is actually the fourth Thursday Next novel in Mr. Fforde‘s Thursday Next series. In case you’re a new reader of his works (like me), you don’t have to worry about getting confused with the characters because more or less each character was re-introduced at the start of the novel. Thursday Next is a literary detective at SpecOps-27, the Literary Detective department (or LiteraTec) of the SpecOps. Thursday is also the head of Jurisfiction in the BookWorld and after living there for two years, she wanted a break for her to properly take care of her son Friday and to find a way to get her husband Landen back after being eradicated by the ChronoGuard (the time-travelling department of SpecOps — SO-12) when he was two. So she goes back to Swindon with her son, her pet dodo Pickwick and her son Alan and Hamlet the Prince of Denmark (who wanted to see if the reports about him from the real world a.k.a Outland is true). Thursday heads back home and tries to fix her life again (and to bring her husband back), but then finds herself under an assassination plot, responsible to get rid of Yorrick Kaine, a fictional character who got out of an unknown book and was planning to become a dictator and of course, to stop the world from ending. What’s new?

Continue reading Something Rotten (Jasper Fforde)