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:  ★★★★


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

WHAT LIGHT by Jay Asher
October 18, 2016;
Penguin Young Readers Group   

I was given a sneak peek copy of the book through Netgalley. There’s not much to go on with what I’ve read, so I can’t share much, considering (of course) you’ve also read the book blurb.

I could tell that this is going to be a contemporary fiction, which closely involves tight friendship, exemplar family, and idyllic Christmas. In other words, a good background for a love story. Lately, I’ve been reading YA fiction with non-functioning families, not that it didn’t work with the stories, but sometimes a reader finds ordinary relations more responsive. Which brings me to the characters in the book –they are not just likable, they are also very relatable –ordinary people going about their ordinary lives and challenges.

I know for a fact that, oftentimes, it’s the ordinary that can bring out the punch, it affects people, because they can mirror themselves in the characters, or at least deeply empathize with them. Besides, it is set in “the most wonderful time of the year.” So, WHAT LIGHT is really something to look forward to.

TFG will have this as our December book and you are welcome to discuss with us.

Book details:
Title:  What Light
Author:  Jay Asher
Publication:  October 18, 2016;
                       Penguin Young Readers Group
Genre:  YA fiction, Romance
Rating:  ★★★

*Rating may change after reading the final book.
  Thank you Penguin Group for the copy.

Sneak Peek Review | WHAT LIGHT by Jay Asher

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

TWELFTH NIGHT  by Deanna Raybourn

Often times, curiosity is indeed a wonderful thing. This is another review copy I clicked out of mere curiosity, really. I’ve seen raving reviews about this Victorian series and its daring female protagonist, and when I saw this novella available in Netgalley, I did not hesitate.

This installment is #5.6 in the series. What’s amazing was, I didn’t have a hard time following who’s who and what’s what. Ms. Raybourn has a knack of moving her readers along without getting lost, and simply introduces everyone in the most unconventional way (it seems to me). Like, meeting Nicholas Brisbane for the first time - naked in bed. A very fine specimen too, I gathered.

So far, I liked all the characters I’ve met, very interesting set of people with strong wit and personalities. Reading this series will never be boring.  I guess I have to set a date for a reading marathon.

Book details:
Title:  Twelfth Night
Author:  Deanna Raybourn
Publication:  June 1st 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
Genre:  General Fiction/ Historical
Rating:   ★★★

*Thank you MIRA for being generous.

Book Review | TWELFTH NIGHT by Deanna Raybourn

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

THE SINNER by Amanda Stevens  
September 27, 2016 | MIRA

I am a living ghost, a wanderer in search of my purpose and place… 

I'm a cemetery restorer by trade, but my calling has evolved from that of ghost seer to death walker to detective of lost souls. I solve the riddles of the dead so the dead will leave me alone. 

Book Review | THE SINNER by Amanda Stevens

Thursday, August 4, 2016

 LEAVE ME by Gayle Forman
September 6, 2016; Algonquin Books
I highly recommend LEAVE ME.

Book Review | LEAVE ME by Gayle Forman

Monday, July 18, 2016

BEST BOOKS of 2016 (so far)

As we reach the middle of 2016 -notwithstanding my expedient tardiness- it's time to take a look back at the best books  I've read so far. Presented in no particular order, here are the reads I've shelve from January to June with my highest rating.

BEST BOOKS of 2016 (so far)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

August 23, 2016;
Random House

Ambitious and brave. I expect nothing less from a Caleb Carr novel.

Book Review | SURRENDER, NEW YORK by Caleb Carr

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Why Read Translated Works?This was a question sent to me a few months back. I never had the chance to answer this earlier, mainly because I feel I have no substantial answer to begin with. You see, I’m no expert on the subject, and anything I’ll say here is purely based on my opinion as a reader or a person who delights in reading good books. If it’s an expert’s opinion you’re after, then you’re on the wrong page. If you want to stick around, you have to take everything with a grain of salt.

Did I buy them because they were translations? No. 
So far I have read a number of translated works, none of them I bought for that reason. The truth is, only after reading most of them did I realize that they were translations. (Just to show you how deep my expertise on this subject.) And it took a while before I did realize what I like about them.  

Translation in literature, for me, is more than breaking the language barrier. It helps us learn about other cultures, their fashion, their spirituality, and their political views, how they really feel about family values, and their passion for food. Most of the answers to these made me laugh, shocked at the huge difference with mine, and marveled at the similarities.

Transmitting cultural aspects through literature is a difficult mission. It is a multifaceted collection of experiences in daily life. And I am often fascinated with the translator’s ability to capture and project them, and to be understood by readers outside the original cultural condition. Sure, some readers are vexed because some sense do get lost in translation, but heck, it's not about to cause World War III, right?
Without translation, I would be limited to the borders of my own country. The translator is my most important ally. He introduces me to the world. -Italo Calvino

Translation is also akin to travelling to places we have not reached yet.  It’s been years, but the image of Stockholm is stockpiled in my memory on how Reg Keeland translated it for Stieg Larsson. I felt the melancholic voice of José Saramago, when Margaret Jull Costa translated his memories of Azinhaga and Lisbon. I will always miss the lights of Barcelona as Lucia Graves translated it for Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Lastly, whilst I read English-written works more often, I also read translations because I think it’s abnormal and restrictive to lock myself from the rest of the remarkable literature mankind have written.
It is better to have read a great work of another culture in translation than never to have read it at all. -Henry Gratton Doyle

While we’re at it, here are the Best Translated Novels and Favorite Translated Literature from Goodreads Listopia. And THE MILLIONS announced the Winners for the Best Translated Book for 2016.

I'm also interested in your opinion on this matter. Please, do share.

Why Read Translated Works?