Wednesday, January 17, 2018

About the Book:

The Helper is the story of John Sloan, a Marine Corps veteran with a life-long secret that is haunting him. He is a conduit to a healing light that draws him to people on the brink of emotional disintegration, people who are then healed and Helped by this light. His blue-collar world is shattered when he finds that his connection to this anonymous portal has vanished. He is alone, seemingly beyond aid, and in desperate need of a Helping himself.

The book tracks the intersecting lives of John and two other Helpers. His lifelong friend Dusty Hakalla is a mixed-blood Ojibwe, with a secret of his own. His power to help is remarkable, but was once destructively misused. A career Marine, his scarred childhood and momentary abuse of power have left him jaded and bereft. Deena Morrison, also a Helper, is John’s girlfriend. Adopted as an infant, she flees John to find her birth-mother, while carrying within herself her own secret. Another character shadows their lives as narrator, Nan’b’oozoo, the trickster god of Ojibwe legend—at times sarcastic and petulant, at others insightful and humorous.

Get your copy here.

About the Author:

The author’s bio includes years as a public radio host and anchor, primarily in the south Florida market, but also for Wisconsin Public Radio. M. N. has had various short stories published, and is also a published cartoonist, a former contributing writer for Reader Weekly  (Duluth, MN), and a former Marine Corps NCO. After spending some years at home, in the Twin Ports of Duluth, MN/Superior, WI, writing the book, the author is currently back living in Key West, FL.

Wednesday Spotlight | The Helper by M.N. SNow

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy 2018, dear readers!

Last year was really busy for me. The move from the Philippines was extra challenging -been to places, made some new friends, and tackled some pretty weighty obstacles. I labored to realign some priorities and that helped me grow these past months, since I came here in Canada. I took a couple of online courses from University of Toronto and earned my certifications last November 2017. I had an odd job to gain a Canadian experience, which was not all that bad, since I gained some good friends and connections through it.

I managed to squeeze in a few readings, here and there. So here's what Goodreads has to say about it...

 My Year in Books

I'm not a mathematical genius, but I'm pretty sure I counted only 37 books in there. Anyways, here are my best books for 2017 (in no particular order):

  1. The Awakening by Amanda Stevens -I love how this series ended. It showed how Amelia evolved immensely and exacted due retribution in the process.
  2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman - Ove’s an unlikely hero with an exceptional story.
  3. Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone by Phaedra Patrick - It tackles family and communal issues, childlessness, and one's sense of self-efficacy with a good sense of honesty and depth.
  4. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce - I still cannot talk about this book. It was so painfully keen, and yet, I can't recommend it highly enough.
  5. Where the Dead Lie by C.S. Harris - A favorite historical fiction series. There's no book in this series that I don't like. Every single one of them went through thorough research.
  6. Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino - This is my 2nd Higashino, it doesn't disappoint at all. If you want a good mystery, you have one here.
  7. The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce - Another RJ book, yes. The reader has to listen to this book intently, don't just read it.
  8. A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin - the ending of this installment got me in knots for sometime. I wish there was a way to finish this series.
  9. Being Perfect by Anna Quindlen - A short read, but dense in many ways.
  10. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman - My second FB book. I cried without tears with this one, I don't know how else to express how heartbreaking it was.

The notable ones are:

  1. I Murdered My Library by Linda Grant
  2. See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
  3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  4. Nutshell by Ian McEwan
  5. Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin 
  6. Autumn by Ali Smith
  7. Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carl Rifka Brunt
  8. The Way Through Doors by Jesse Ball

Wow, that's half of what I read last year. But that's exactly what I promised myself, that I'll aspire reading really satisfying books. Hopefully, 2018 will be filled with them, as well.

Let us be optimistic that my blogging will improve, too. I'll still be posting ARC reviews, some pre-Blogger reviews, Wednesday Spotlights, and maybe some Author Interviews. We'll see. Stay in touch.

Oh, by the way, it's The Page Walker's 5th Bloggy Birthday. Thank you for staying with me.

To New Beginnings

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Many times, I've read this book alluded as Calvino-esque, which I find really wrong, foremost, because I cannot stress enough how much I disliked how the stories in Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler were put together. Meanwhile, the stories in The Way Through Doors conjunct intriguingly well. And this, this is an absolute pleasure to read.
Let us make a pact, she said. To madness at every juncture!
It is fortuity that our enigmatic protagonist, Selah Morse, is a pamphleteer, since, in this winding novel, he must tell stories all night to an equally enigmatic young lady suffering from a (assumingly) temporary memory loss. He began by explaining his work as a municipal inspector (doing many things, yet seemingly nothing), in a surreptitious office inside a surreptitious building, with a badge that can open many doors. His stories bled into stories that bled some more, exactly like two dogs chasing each other in circles. There is nothing linear about this book except for Mora Klein having drawn an image with precise angles. His peculiar characters, including a lover, a guess artist, and a gambler, evaporate only to apparate again in another story.

My favorite story -well it is not the story itself, but how the words were knitted together nicely- is Entering Rooms, a Grammar and Method.
Sometimes one must be more careful of being seen in happiness than in grief or anger. A great deal may be told from the expression of a happy man or woman. In any case, one must be prepared for the worst, and ready. Therefore, pause a moment before passing through a door, unless, of course, one is being watched on the outside, or one’s approach to the door is being timed, as in a situation when one is buzzed through an exterior door. In that case, one does not have the leisure to pause, for that pause would in its turn be noted and interpreted in a variety of ways, some of which would be harmful. Therefore, perhaps we should say, make the pause a mental pause, a sort of inner unveiling of precaution. It should last barely a second, and immediately preface the entering of the room in question.
A very curious story, too, because of our protagonist’s name, Selah, which if translated literally is “Pause”. Now thinking about it, most of the names here are curious.

THE WAY THROUGH DOORS is a very interesting read, with its iced tea that could taste better in a Cabernet bottle, the dead-letter office that housed a couple and their dog, and the secret of  Lincoln’s Folly.  

Question:  Is Selah Morse as cute as Jesse Ball?
I don't know. It didn't say.

Book details:
Title:  The Way Through Doors
Author:  Jesse Ball
Publication:  February 10, 2009; Vintage
Genre:   Metafiction


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Shanna, the Ice Queen, refuses to be forced into marriage, unless it is for true love.  But her father, Lord Orlan Trahern, will not simply bend to her wishes.  Lord Trahern wants his lineage to continue.  He need heirs… soon.  It will take a great scheme to outwit her father.  A scheme that Shanna never knew will catch her heart off-guard.
“I think I’ve loved you forever,” Shanna confessed in wonder. “When the scales of blindness were lifted from my eyes, I saw you not as a dragon, but as the one I would have chosen.”

A prisoner condemned to death, Ruark, crossed the seas to the Caribbean and accepted a life of bondage to collect a bargain not fully met.  He vowed to win his heart’s desire with everything he has.

   “You did choose me, remember?” Ruark grinned.

This is a beautiful story of how fates are intertwined; and how true love can be found in very odd circumstances.  I know… the usual stuff, right?  What makes this different is the mystery and action attached to the whole plot.  I never get tired reading and rereading this story since I was 15.  SHANNA taught me how to be fierce and fight for what I want, not just for love, but for everything I believe in. This book started me into collecting Kathleen E. Woodiwiss works.  She’s a genius.  Her romance and language were never cheap.  She will always be the Queen of Historical Romance for me.

BTW, there'd be pirates.

Book Details:
Title:  SHANNA
Author:  Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
ISBN:  00380385880
Publication: Avon Books, 1977
Pages: 666
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Purchased copy
Review Rating: ★★★★★/ ♥ 

*Originally posted here.

SHANNA by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Monday, November 6, 2017

AUTUMN begins in a dream-like state. Daniel Gluck is dead. He supposed he is in heaven, because he looks young again and naked. It is as if rebirth took place by the seashore and he is the only one who survived. The truth is, time has finally caught up with Daniel. He is reliving some old memories, and escape is inevitable at this state.
Is there never any escaping the junkshop of the self?
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Demand is experiencing the hard reality of the bureaucratic world. Her passport application was rejected: “Your face is the wrong size… The correct size in the photograph submitted, the man say, is between 29 millimetres and 34 millimetres. Yours falls short by 5 millimetres.” Apparently, there are correct stipulations in life, measurements that we have to abide, like sizes, dates, and time. Very unlike in death.

This is my first Ali Smith, and I find myself in a difficulty here, describing how her writing works, or how this book worked for me. To call her wonderful seems underrated. To pronounce her difficult, on the other hand, seems obtuse. And yet, I find her both wonderful and difficult.

I find her words fluid, yet I don’t know where it will lead me. They seem to make no sense, until it gets me where it needs me to be, where it is profound and unblinking. Smith can move from poetic, to conversational, and matter-of-factly funny. At one point, the book tells about the Brexit and the chaos it brought to the English nation. Still, in a succession of recollections, it tells about life in its minute form. Autumn is the paradoxical view of death and birth, of letting go and seeding. It tells us that time is not really our enemy, but not exactly our friend either.

Autumn is the first book in the Seasonal Quartet, followed by Winter.

About my copy:
Title:  Autumn
Author:  Ali Smith
Publications: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Pantheon, 07 Feb 2017
Genre: Literary Fiction / Women's Fiction
Rating:  ★★★★

*Thank you, Pantheon and Netgalley for the review copy.

Book Review | Autumn by Ali Smith

Friday, October 13, 2017

August 29 2017
Penguin Random House
Sincerely sharp!

I won a copy through Goodreads giveaways. I was so excited, because having read the Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, I knew Ms. Zevin will pull off another unconventional structure.

I am getting ahead of myself again, let’s return to the beginning…

Aviva Grossman is on her first internship -had an affair with a politician (very much married), blogged about it, and the netizens made sure that she is never forgotten. A second chance is so bleak. Her relationship with her parents was affected, her studies and career was affected, and even her sex life was affected. Until, she decided to reinvent herself.
“They didn’t put a scarlet letter on her chest, but they didn’t need to. That’s what the Internet is for.”
The book is divided into five parts, told by women from different generations, in honest-to-God details. Women whose resilience was highlighted through their flaws. Their voices have varying levels that strongly speak of distinctiveness and worth. Ms. Zevin made her every character undeniably timely and relevant.

The plot discloses effortlessly, using an unusual book structure. It was refreshing, absorbing the reader from start to finish. It amazes me how the various approaches helped highlight the noteworthy parts further.
"Life unspools more inevitably."
Do not let the book cover deceive you into thinking that this is just another light read. It is funny and entertaining, yes, but it is also thought-provoking, hitting each nail in the head. YOUNG JANE YOUNG is a story of women empowerment, survival, and the biased sexist degradation that still plagues women today.

Author:  Gabrielle Zevin
Publication:  August 29, 2017; Penguin Random House
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  ★★★★

*Thank you, Penguin Random House Canada and Goodreads, for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for an unbiased review.

Book Review | YOUNG JANE YOUNG by Gabrielle Zevin

Monday, July 24, 2017

October 3, 2017 
Charlesbridge Teen
“It had always been a fact of life that we were biologically different—better—and that it had to be kept secret.”  
Seventeen-year-old Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. She’s beautiful, freakishly athletic, and extremely smart. That’s because she comes from a race of highly-evolved humans living in the heart of Austin, Texas.  
In order to protect their anonymity and preserve their elite society, Julia’s powerful father forces her to suppress her abilities. When she accidentally demonstrates her super human prowess in public, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school. Thrust into the confusion and humiliation of a normal high school, Julia is just trying to keep her head down when John Ford strolls into her life. (Read complete synopsis here.)

This book basically has that Star-Crossed-Lovers trope. Julia Jaynes was born to a billionaire family with genetically superior genes than common humans. For decades, her kind is hiding in plain sight among the populace. And despite their great fortune and efforts, they are close to extinction. Meanwhile, John Ford is your average senior high school guy struggling to get into college through a scholarship.

The book synopsis said it all. Readers don’t have to look very far and grasp that this book has all the trending YA elements:  (1) a certain group of people with inhuman abilities, (2) they need to keep their identity a secret, (3) intermingling is a big no, (4) angsty teenagers, (5) stunning beauty, and (6) a love triangle. If you are into all of that, then, this book is for you. However, I am looking for something… more. I was looking for something outstanding in the story that may trump those previous YA books. Something absolutely exciting or may shock the senses, that will remain with the reader for a long period of time.

Now, I am not saying that there is nothing great about this book. The story is really well-paced. I read the whole book for only a few hours without any back tracking. The general plot is very interesting. Julia came from a group of people who experienced genocide. Their number is small and nearing extinction. Now, that’s a huge topic to explore, given with all the issues in world today. I was actually hoping the story to explore more of this perspective, rather than the love pursuits of the characters.  And speaking of characters, I like them. They need more depth, not just their life grievances. But yes, I do like them.

Overall, this is okay. It has plenty of potentials and hopefully Ms. Weisenberg explores them all.

Book detail:
Title:  Select
Author:  Marit Weisenberg
Publication:  October 3rd 2017 by Charlesbridge Teen
Genre:  YA Fiction
Rating:  ★★★

*Thanks to Charlesbridge Teen and Netgalley for the copy.

Book Review | SELECT by Marit Weisenberg

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Dearest James,

I know that introduction is a must, polite even, but on this one I do suggest that we skip that. It is you who matters, and no one else.

Foremost, how was the end of your motoring trip? Was it pleasant on your return? I do hope that none of the inconveniences you encountered on leaving crossed your path on the way home. It was a good thing Mr. Farraday suggested this motoring trip. You’ve been cooked up in that hall for a very long time. Different scenery gave you a new perspective, indeed. Suddenly you grew up in a span of one week.

Ah, yes, I did read your travelogue and musings. I am quite taken by them. It’s very difficult not to be. Although, I did notice that you often answer your own questions. I boldly assume that those are signs not of confusion but of hesitation to acknowledge the truth. It was a bit alarming -hesitation and an advancing age. Don’t make a good match, do they?

It was not difficult, as well, to notice the ever present topic of greatness and dignity throughout your entries. It is apparent that justification is what you seek. Then, yes James, you are a great and dignified butler. But does that account for all the mistakes you’ve made? No, of course not, old chap. Your dignity lies in your ability not to abandon your professional being (as a butler) during trying times. Always the epitome of restraint, calmness, and placidness. Thus by achieving your goal of greatness, and by withholding your inner feelings and belief, you have forgone a most vital aspect of life –relationships. For you see, dignity and greatness will lose its luster and usefulness, like your father before you. Great butlers will come and go, but a good friend, husband, or father will be cherished for all time.

Oh, but James, if only you had taken the leap… 

Alas and alack, regret is not something we should dwell in. It has already pervaded your thoughts for many years. Bless Ms. Kenton for choosing a different path merely to spite you; but fate has spoken, she’s happily married now. She did say all is well, right? Move on; for her sake, James. As for Lord Darlington, his folly is his; they are not yours to suffer. Loyalty is not measured by how much you've tolerated your employer, but by how well you’ve serve them. You should know that by now. Then let the case rest. Correcting the past is a miserable business, after all. I know you’ve already dwelled along this line for a day, since you made no entry on your fifth day on the road. 

The man at the marina was right, there’s nothing fruitful by dwelling in the past. The day is not yet over. There is much to be gained and done still. You are right, work on your bantering. Make light of life by humor. Women do enjoy men with humor. Well, in any case, humor will make you feel younger.

Farewell, James. Bless you on your new endeavor. Do send news of your improvements, if you can.



PS: Just in case you are wondering, I am not someone older. Just someone who enjoys good bantering.

Book details:
Title:  The Remains of the Day
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publication:  January 1, 2010; Vintage
Genre:  Literary Fiction
Rating:   ★★★★

Originally posted here.

THE REMAINS OF THE DAY by Kazuo Ishiguro