Monday, February 6, 2017


Every place I am acquainted with is buzzing with excitement because of Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation of the book. It was initially released last January 22 of this year. I have not seen the movie, though. I don’t usually watch book adaptations, with only two exceptions: the Harry Potter series and Game of Thrones series. Although, Guadagnino’s peculiarity on shooting the entire movie with a 35 mm lens alone, and his reason for doing so, are really intriguing. So, you may rest assured that this is not a movie promotional review.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME was our TFG book for March of 2016, and it was on my best book list, too. Exploring the internet, you’ll see both accolades and rebukes for the author, same goes with the book. The most apt description I’ve read so far was “maddening”. This book has the capacity to hurl my emotions into a turbulent sea. My need to resurface for air, every now and then, was acutely palpable.
Adflictus sum et humiliatus sum nimis rugiebam a gemitu cordis mei! -Psalm 37:9 DRA

Reading Elio prompted me to look around me, asking myself if I made the right choices. Mindfully, he allowed me to view choices akin to a tub of boiling water, jumping in will not spare me from scars, but it will be absolutely liberating. I will wear those scars proudly, because they are intrinsically part of me. Elio made choices by predicting on how these choices will affect his feelings, his being, in the future. He, in every sense, provides his future adult self an emotional revelation he befittingly deserves. It astounded me (it still does, I believe) how Elio marries his present and his envisioned self without any sense of insincerity or regret.
Most of us can't help but live as though we've got two lives to live, one is the mockup, the other the finished version, and then there are all those versions in between. -Mr. Perlman

As much as people categorized this book as LGBT novel or romance, it will remain as a coming of age book for me. The greatest magic of this book is that it shows people, and I mean everyone, will transform. This space we occupy now, though necessary, is evanescent. We will, in essence, continue laboring for our envisioned future selves. In his purity, Elio created a portrait of a love fated to last lifetimes, even when that love is no longer with him. Since every human is driven by desire, we choose to love someone that will aid us to project the kind of person we want to be, into a full bodied being the world will see. Every desire, present or absent, will help ferry us into that envisioned being.
Instead, I squirreled away small things so that in the lean days ahead glimmers from the past might bring back the warmth. I began, reluctantly, to steal from the present to pay off debts I knew I’d incur in the future. -Elio

SPOILER ALERT. The best part of this book for me was the father and son reserved scene. It bespoke of a father’s unparalleled love for his son. It squeezed my heart, because, truly, in our pursuit of that envisioned self, we will need all the people who love us.
If there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don't snuff it out, don't be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we'd want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything - what a waste! -Mr. Perlman


Book details:
Author:  André Aciman
Publication:  January 22nd 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre:  Fiction / Coming of Age
Rating:  ★★★★★       




                       

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME by André Aciman

Monday, January 30, 2017


My first glimpse of this book, I didn’t get a copy, because budget ruled that I was not in the bookstore to purchase it after I’ve already spent money on three books. I promised to purchase it next time, but you know what next time already means. Then, I saw the movie trailer, which reminded me to buy the book next time. That was over a year ago, sadly. Like the rest of my failings, I realized I need to amend that.

On a NYT article, Backman revealed that his book was rejected several times before he finally had Forum to print him. And by October 2016, A MAN CALLED OVE has sold 2.8 million copies.

Ove is that grouchy neighbor, who makes sure that everyone walks in line all the time in his neighborhood. He’s the one you can rely on to point a finger at whoever parks in the wrong place and argue hotly about the parking fee.  He is mighty suspicious of everyone and everything. His social incompetence is oftentimes cringe-worthy and hilarious. And his greatest achievement is failing at suicide, time and again.
Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say.

However, a man like Ove is tested by time with ridicule, deceit, and pain. Underneath his façade, is a man with a huge heart (figuratively and literally), who allotted a space even for a stray cat. He is a man without preconception of race, appearance, or gender. Except, of course, if you're not driving a Saab. Ove’s story is a delightful exploration of one cranky neighbor’s significant impact on others. He’s an unlikely hero with an exceptional story.
People had always said that Ove was "bitter." But he wasn't bloody bitter. He just didn't go around grinning the whole time. Did that mean one had to be treated like a criminal?

I am so impressed with Ove’s story I intend to read more of Mr. Backman’s stories soon. And, I absolutely recommend this to everyone who wants an uplifting read.


Book copy details:
Author:  Fredrik Backman
Publication:  July 15, 2014, Atria
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating:  ★★★★★



A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Buy a copy from Poster Gully       
Photo courtesy of  postergully.com

Every now and then, I get book-related questions, through email or through the blog’s contact form, from different sorts of visitors – authors, fellow reader, students with paperwork, surveyor, and trolls. I’m not sure how many of them are actually my blog followers, but I do appreciate their effort in bothering to contact me (trolls included). I admit to having varied ways of neglecting them; oftentimes, it took me weeks before I can sort the interesting from the insignificant. Most interesting at times, it’s the trolls who have the more significant questions, if you can believe that.

I was asked a few months back if I was ever declined by a publisher in Netgalley. I assumed that the question came from a fellow site user, who is pretty new at it, and have been recently declined. However, since my querier did not leave any contact information, I decided to answer this question here. And hopefully, this will help others, out there, who experienced the same.

The truth.

The answer is a resounding YES, I have. I was declined 56 times, the last one, in fact, was last January 14 of this year. Now, that was almost as many times I was approved. The general reason I got for being declined was that the publisher already hit their egalley limit.  It probably meant that I sent my request too close to the publishing date, or a number of requests already came through before mine. However, there were three incidents wherein publishers declined me because they were dissatisfied with my profile information. They cited several reasons as to why. Some of these rejections even came from publishers who approved my previous requests. Some were even sequels to books I have reviewed for them before.


Keep at it.

Was I disappointed? Yes. Was I discouraged? No.  I just keep on requesting for other books I like. I continue updating my profile, because, of course, changes happen. And I keep reading and blogging.  And, then I get pre-approval from publishers. Not just for one particular book, but for all their new releases. To show them my appreciation, I request and review books from their racks every month. I can be a grateful bitch, if I want to. 

There were times, too, when the author or a publicist will directly email their egalley, or send download links, which is generous, of course. 

I am not trying to boast here. I am simply telling you, guys, that good things also happen to hardworking and honest reviewers/bloggers.


Not just a reader.

Every time I get declined, I’d tell myself that it was not my loss; it was theirs, because mine was another recommendation they will never have. What some publishers failed to see was that not all reviewers from Netgalley are just professional readers. Most of us are “book lovers”, we are born to read books. Readers like me will not just submit a feedback for the egalley, we will actually buy a printed copy if we liked it, take pictures of them, and put them on display or post them on social media. 
There are two motives for reading a book;
one, that you enjoy it;
the other, that you can boast about it.― Bertrand Russell

Crazy as this may sound, but I even buy the audiobook when it becomes available. I became a completist of authors, because of some great galley proofs I’ve read.

My advice to my fellow Netgalley users, keep going to the site, keep requesting for books that appeals to you, and keep recommending; because you are there not for the rating, not for the pride of badges, but FOR THE LOVE OF BOOKS. For a more cohesive advice, you may want to read Savy's post.


P.S.

And this last bit is for the publicists who use “Review Opportunity” on their email heading:  Whose opportunity are you referring? May I suggest Barb Drozdowich’s Book Blogger Survey for references before emailing book reviewers?

Good day, everyone. Thanks for keeping with my ramblings.




ON HOW I HANDLE REJECTION

Tuesday, January 3, 2017



     Happy 2017, Everyone!

This is our annual welcome post, where I get to show you my year of reading, my top list for the previous year, and my wishes and perspective for this glorious year ahead of us. On top of that, The Page Walker’s 4th birthday is just around the corner. So, I bid you greet me a Happy Bloggy Birthday. Go ahead, don’t be shy.

Goodreads was good enough (pun not intended), to compile our yearly reading for us. So, simply click on the photo below and you’ll be electronically transported to that beautiful cover collage.  According to Goodreads, I read 62 books last 2016 (rereads not included). Pretty good job for a lazy sloth like me, I guess. The thing is I don’t regret reading any of these books. In fact, I’ve had some very satisfying reads. Most of them were real tearjerkers, some were bloody murder, and some were as scary as hell.




Last July 2016, I’ve already posted half of my best list, so, I’ll just add the rest here.

  1. Stormy Weather by Dermot Davis – This is a philosophical challenge. I chose it for my TFG Bingo card, because it posed a very intriguing story line. I had a huge take from this story because it tells the story of a therapist struggling with his own priorities.
  2. Leave Me by Gayle Forman – I connected with this book. The main character voiced every exhausted mother’s plea and call for validation.
  3. The Sinner by Amanda Stevens – This is the 5th instalment of the Graveyard Queen. And I admit to loving this series too much, because it scared me out of my pants (and out of my bed, too).
  4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows – Another book for the TFG Bingo. This is a sweetheart. I dearly love all the exchanges.
  5. All In  (The Naturals #3) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  6. Bad Blood (The Naturals #4) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – The Naturals is one freakin’ psyched series. I love it.
  7. Stay Where You Are And Then Leave by John Boyne – The same guy who wrote The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas wrote this book, so, I don’t need to tell you to grab a huge roll of tissue when you read this.
  8. The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino – This book is deceptive, I tell you. It lulled me into believing that it’d be the perfect murder. Then, the ending happened, and I totally lost it. Bloody murder and a tearjerker, rolled into one. What a punch!
  9. A List of Cages by Robin Roe – This debut novel crushed my heart most assuredly. It made me cry, it made me angry – I felt absolutely helpless. The roll of tissue failed to rescue me from this one. I highly recommend this.

I’m proud of my TFG Bingo Challenge, even though I’m 4 books shy of completing a blackout. I finished 21 books, with 5 patterns.  I had great times exploring books to fit into each category and enjoyed most of my choices. Kudos to the mind who sacrificed both time and effort in creating such challenges. You can click on the pattern below to embiggen.


2016 turned me into a very lousy blogger, averaging to 2 blogs a month. There is no excuse, really. Simply, lazy and uninspired. As I said earlier, The Page Walker is turning 4 this January. So, it’s time to seriously put the ING into ADULTING. I’ll do my best to post something significant every week.

As to my reading, I still aspire to read satisfying books -those books that wounds, scars, and mends; those that will scare the wits out me; and those that will keep me at the edge of my seat (or perch, or wherever). I may even read a lesser number this year, but I want to make sure that all of them are those I've really wanted to read. Like the literary awardees I've been keeping an eye on; those series I've been missing; and those short story collections that have been gathering dust on my shelves. I'd be random and eclectic as always.

Again, thank you for putting up with me all through this time. I appreciate all the emails, the shy people who prefer not leaving a comment, and those who shares my links. Sorry for not replying promptly to your emails, or for ignoring most of them. I am an awful, awful blogger, sorry. Yet again, to all the publicists and authors, kindly read my policy thoroughly before sending me an email. Goodspeed!




The 3-Day Late Year-End Post

Monday, December 26, 2016


Book Review | DAWN STUDY by Maria V. Snyder     
January 31, 2017
MIRA

DAWN STUDY is the much awaited conclusion of the Study Series by Maria V. Snyder. Although I am very sad to say goodbye to this series and its characters, I can’t help feeling contented on how everything came together in the end.

Sitia and Ixia are still in the verge of war. In spite of Yelena’s magicless status, she and her enigmatic husband, with their motley crew, must find a way to defeat the rouge magicians, overturn the Cartel, and free the Commander from the influence of Owen Moon. On top of that, they are desperate to keep their family together by avoiding assassins, and bring their child safely into the world.

I just love reading how our power couple, Valek and Yelena, grew equally dependent on each other’s guidance, yet remains to be independent powerful individuals. The turn of tides -Yelena being magicless, while Valek just gained his- brought forth more of themselves and marveled at those revelations. They both remain strong and trusting despite the odds and challenges in every turn. I like how Ms. Snyder inserted certain qualities that working couples should learn and keep. That’s one of the interesting elements in this series, there’s always a lesson here.

I will also (of course) miss the rest of the gang. This series introduced a number of characters, every one of them are truly unique and fun. They dragged us through different adventures with their quips and cranks that drove us crazy, but kept us asking for more. I definitely will not forget about them. 

Thank you, Ms. Snyder, for this wonderful series.

And needless to say, I  do recommend this series. Don’t miss out on the fun!


Book details:
Title:  Dawn Study
Series:  Study Series #6
Author:  Maria V. Snyder
Publication:  January 31, 2017 by MIRA
Genre:  Fiction, Fantasy
Rating:  ★★★★


*Thank you, Mira, for the egalley. 




Book Review | DAWN STUDY by Maria V. Snyder

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


 A LIST OF CAGES by Robin Roe    
January 10, 2017
Disney-Hyperion

A LIST OF CAGES is not your average contemporary young adult novel. With deep raw emotions and a loud call for compassion, Robin Roe wrote a debut that may mark every reader forever.

Fourteen-year old Julian is reclusive, anxious, and suffers from self-esteem attacks. Five years ago, he lost both of his parents in a car accident and he was immediately folded into foster care. As a high school freshman, school is very difficult for Julian. He has learning disabilities, which makes him an everyday target for bullies, and, sadly, his teachers never cared enough to help him.

Adam, meanwhile, is a high school senior, whose present elective is to help the school psychologist track down Julian and make sure he doesn’t (conveniently) miss more appointments. It should help that Adam was once Julian’s foster brother, but the present Julian that Adam is trying to engage is too different from the one he remembered. So, despite their age difference and preferences, Adam threw in some effort in including Julian into his circle of friends and adds some sense of normalcy into the boy’s life. 

As the story unfold, Adam suspect that things are much worse than Julian lets on, but Julian is frantic in keeping his friend at arm’s length. Undeterred, Adam is resolute to find out the answers to his worrying questions.
"I know it’s pointless, but I find myself doing it now.
Projecting thoughts and whispering names.
Trying to send out a message that will never be received."

This book caught me off guard. I didn't know when the tears start spilling, but they certainly did. Julian’s story squeezed my heart; it was so painful that at times I wanted to shout.  What happened to him was harrowing. I terribly wished for him to open up, tell the truth, to call for help. I could feel his anguish and fear -his list of cages- that entraps him. This book could hurt you too. 

Statistics says (1) that there are an estimated 400,000 kids in (USA) foster care right now; (2) that foster kids can suffer from PTSD at almost two times the rate of returning veterans; (3) that the average age of a foster child is 9-years old; (4) that half of all foster kids are in non-relative foster homes. Julian’s story confirms that these statistics are the reality. I highly recommend that you read it too. 👍



Book details: 
Title:  A LIST OF CAGES
Author:  Robin Roe
Publication:  January 10, 2017 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre:  YA Fiction
Rating: ★★★★★


*Thank you, Disney-Hyperion, for the egalley.
*This review contains a quote from an uncorrected copy.



Book Review | A LIST OF CAGES by Robin Roe

Friday, October 28, 2016


     THE CHILDREN ACT by Ian McEwan
Image courtesy of armonte.wordpress.com
You have to forgive me if I do this review using a long pole. You may have realized by now that I shy away from reviewing renowned books by high-profiled authors. It is as if my inadequacy might somehow contaminate its spirit, and that’s the last thing I wanted to do. Besides, books of that caliber, more or less, have already been dissected and autopsied by listed review sites. Still, this book has been niggling at me for some time now, I am reluctant to open another McEwan unless I get to say something about it first. Hopefully, that “something” will be significant.

THE CHILDREN ACT moves around a childless High Court judge, Fiona Maye, distinguished for her accomplishments at adjudicating delicately knotty cases in the Family Courts. One of her most difficult has recently been served -a life and death decision for Adam Henry, a 17-year old Jehovah’s Witness, in need of blood transfusion.  Fiona decided that a personal visit to the hospital is in order to determine whether Adam is mature enough to make his own decisions; or that the implementation of the Children Act of 1989 is duly necessary, which means junking both the parent’s petition and their religious precept.

Meanwhile, on the domestic front, Jack, Fiona’s husband for 35 years, announces that due to their lack of sexual intimacy for the last seven weeks, have decided he needs a passionate affair.  “I need it. I’m fifty-nine. This is my last shot,” he argued –apparently, he already has a young statistician waiting in line.

What will follow is the author’s scrutinized account of the protagonist’s self-confidence and power beset by betrayal and self-pity. In her years of separating herself from sentimentality and insignificance, she had never been threatened by this kind of crisis before. In that disarrayed condition, she was stirred by Adam’s condensed naiveté. Adam, in return, was enraptured by Fiona’s genuine servile attention. With music and words between them, they found a kindred spirit in each other. In McEwan’s prose, I was carried by the same emotions, akin to Fiona. In those moments, they seem inescapable for me too.

That the world should be filled with such detail, such tiny points of human frailty, threatened to crush her and she had to look away.

In her review for The Guardian, Tessa Hadley wrote that Ian McEwan is fascinated by “the great institutionalized authorities”, choosing characters that belong to the echelons of their profession. This is my first McEwan novel, so I have to rely on her with that information. What awed me, though, is his view of the conflicting powers of an individual –commitment, resilience, compassion. People, even people of power or with great advocacy, will be subjected to vulnerability, one time or another.  Threat and problems arises when the personal blurs the professional lines.  Sometimes, a single act may tinge a purpose or may even turn a whole event. On how we face and move on from these circumstances are the questions that we need to ponder.

The ending was unpretentious. It quietly glided along.  Nevertheless, the paradox of the title screams at me.  

Instead, she found her argument in the “doctrine of necessity,” an idea established in common law that in certain limited circumstances, which no parliament would ever care to define, it was permissible to break the criminal law to prevent a greater evil


Book details:
Author:  Ian MacEwan
Publication:  September 9th 2014 by Knopf Canada
Genre:  General Fiction
Rating:  ★★★★★



THE CHILDREN ACT by Ian McEwan

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I read this before going to sleep last night. I should be bothered, because this was branded by some as horror, but I was not. After finishing the story, I slept soundly while Typhoon Sarika was raging outside our windows. Possibly, it’s because I was left satisfied after reading the story.

Lucretia is a 12-year old girl living with her mother on the 4th floor of an apartment building. Loochie (her nickname) seems to be in the minority of girls her age –she’s not popular enough, or maturing beautifully enough- to fit in the regular giggling girl’s clique. But she dearly loves Sunny –her best friend who lives on the apartment upstairs. As you can see, Loochie is not exactly an enthralling girl, neither is her Wonderland-like story believable. Would you believe her if she told you that she was forcibly pulled in from a fire escape window, but mysteriously entered a derelict park instead? Would you believe that she was chased by monsters and flying rats across the park? And that a stadium is the entry way to heaven? Of course not. You’d think that she’s out of her mind.

I am really pleased with all the metaphoric elements in this story. I think it’s a very imaginative technique to use strangeness and eerie characters to mirror dealing with loss successfully. It emphasized how grief can amass more fear instead of optimism, disbelief instead of acceptance, and anger instead of sympathy. This novella is a very convincing introduction to Victor LaValle’s The Devil in Silver. I was briefly introduced to Pepper, and I think I will like him too.

Book details:
Author:  Victor LaValle
Publication:  July 23rd 2012 by Spiegel & Grau
Genre:  General Fiction
Rating:  ★★★★




LUCRETIA AND THE KROONS by Victor LaValle