Reads a lot. Rants a lot. Rambles a lot more. Approach with caution.


Reading progress update: I've read 525 out of 650 pages.

The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch

"I won't lie. My feelings about you are selfish as hell. I don't like to think about you with anyone else but--I wasn't there. You're a grown woman and you didn't owe me anything."

I like this. I seriously like this. Too many books, especially in YA, make it look like as if feeling possessive/ insanely jealous when a person you have feelings for dates someone else is a good thing.


See, back in high school, this boy had a crush on me. I didn't like him back and I made that pretty clear to him. So I befriended--not dated, befriended--the man who would later become my best friend. When he found out about our friendship, this boy went wild. It looked a bit like this:



He came very close to physically hurting me, all because I decided to make friends with a guy who was not him. It's a ridiculous and harmful thing to think that just because you have feelings for someone, you own them.

I like that Locke (and by extension, Scott Lynch), acknowledges Sabetha's freedom to date other men (or women) during their time apart. It says a lot about his maturity. It also says a lot that this is the first time I've seen the hero not fly into a jealous rage when he finds out that his love interest has dated other people.

"Here now," he said. "half this gods-damned company has been drunk for weeks. The twins have been out of their minds on anything that comes in a bottle or cask. When did they ever try to rape anyone?" Locke jabbed a finger at Boulidazi. "This is his fucking fault, nobody else's!"

More gentleman than bastard, it seems. Is Scott Lynch trying to make me put Locke Lamora in my list of Top Ten Fantasy Heroes? He's succeeding.


Scott Lynch also gets points for being able to get his argument across without getting preachy or making someone veer off character. Locke's above statement has far more impact than, say, the whole "women are like flames" speech from The Name of the Wind or the way an entire village immediately switched into a non-victim blaming attitude after a short speech from Kvothe in The Wise Man's Fear.


I've said it before, I like how Scott Lynch treats women in his Gentleman Bastards series.

He makes it clear that the world his protagonists live in is crap, but he does it without making pointless, grimmy-grim-dark scenes, the way George R.R. Martin handles rape (just take a look at what happened to poor Lollys Stokeworth) or making this ridiculous dichotomy between "whores" and "women", the way Patrick Rothfuss does in The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear.


What's more, his female characters aren't just the heroes' love interest, but they have a story onto themselves. They have been portrayed as weak and vulnerable, strong and intelligent, annoying and charming. They're obviously doing their own stuff, instead of just being there for the convenience of the protagonist. In short, Scott Lynch treats female characters as people, instead of just tired cliches.


Final point: I really shouldn't be making these type of posts when I'm barely awake and haven't even finished my first cup of coffee yet. Also, my coffee tastes like crap.



Reading progress update: I've read 488 out of 650 pages.

The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch

I didn't know how bored I was about this book until tonight, when I realized that I just spent an hour and a half doing whatever just to avoid going back to reading it. 



I think the reason why Sabetha is always so angry about Locke and Jean's relationship is because she knows, just like the reader knows, that Locke and Jean make a better couple than she and Locke ever would.

(show spoiler)


I'm not really sure if that's what Scott Lynch intended, but that's what I read. 



N is for New-To-You Authors

Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta

This book.

This book.


The only reason I kept reading past the hundredth page was because I kept telling myself that if I paid a week’s worth of savings for a book, I was damn well going to finish it.


Jellicoe Road was frustrating, confusing and its narrative was deliberately hard to follow. I found the main character, Taylor Markham, unlikeable and she had a tendency to wallow in self-pity.  


And yet. And yet this book made me cry without even knowing the reason why, it made me ache for the main characters, it made me remember all the friends I had as a child. The ones who I made treehouses with, explored new places with, the ones that made me feel as if I was invincible.  


Taylor’s development throughout the book was one of the best I’ve read.


Really, this is all just the long way of saying, “I have no idea what to feel about this book”.


Jellicoe Road is a strange book. But it is also strangely beautiful.


Reading it felt less like reading a book and more like getting to know a person. Namely, Taylor who was abandoned by her mother when she was eleven-years-old. I need to give kudos to Melina Marchetta, who used the first-person narrative to great effect; Taylor’s narration revealed just how much her mother’s abandonment affected her. She made for a sullen and cynical narrator, she was snobbish and rude to her peers. But she was also desperate for affection, and afraid to trust because she thinks that she’ll be hurt again.


Taylor’s thoughts were often chaotic, cycling between wanting to be left alone to wanting to be held dear by someone, specifically by Hannah, her caretaker. All this made Taylor’s character, that of a confused and hurt teenager, all the more believable.

This wasn’t always a good thing, though. This kind of prose made the story hard to follow. The reader was given absolutely nothing to go on at the beginning of the story, presumably because the narrator, Taylor, already knew all the things that the reader wasn't privy to.


While it made sense that a character who already knows about territory wars won’t go into internal explanations about them, it also made for a muddled beginning.


The first chapter was basically just me going: Who are the Cadets? Who are the Townies? What are the rules? What part of Jellicoe belongs to which faction?


It took too long before these questions were actually answered, and by the time they were answered, I didn’t care about the questions anymore.


But it gets better, as much as that sounds like an excuse, it gets better.

As I read further and further into the book, it felt like I was painstakingly peeling away the many layers that made up Taylor Markham. Jellicoe Road was at its most fascinating when Taylor’s barriers come down and the reader was allowed to see into her thoughts, her insecurities, when she was at her rawest and most vulnerable. These were the times were I just had to put down the book to cry, because Taylor felt so painfully human, because I saw a bit of myself in her.


The book had a weak plot, but its characters more than made up for it.

Its strength lay in its characters, both major and minor ones. I never really cared about territory wars and the mystery of Hannah had a way of fading into the background, but I wanted to know more about Taylor, about her relationship with Jonah Griggs, her friendship with Ben and Raffy. Melina Marchetta’s characters were wonderfully three-dimensional, complex and they resonate. These are the type of characters that made it hard for me to close the book and say goodbye.


But as much as I wanted to give this book five stars, I can’t. A five star read, for me, shouldn’t be frustrating or confusing. It shouldn’t make me feel as if reading was a chore, no matter how much later chapters made up for it. This book wasn’t perfect, but it had that something that gripped me as a reader, the same something that had me reading it until 3 am in the morning, that made me laugh and cry and feel for these characters.


I purchased this book on a whim, because I felt that I needed to read something “different”, and Melina Marchetta certainly delivered.



The original title of this book was "On the Jellicoe Road" but my cover simply said "Jellicoe Road". I have no idea where the "On the" part of the title went. 

Reading progress update: I've read 40 out of 336 pages.

War for the Oaks - Emma Bull

I'm in love with the phouka already. 


It's amazing how reading a good book with your morning coffee makes you feel as if your day is going to turn out great



Reading progress update: I've read 70%.

Lips Touch: Three Times - Jim Di Bartolo, Laini Taylor

"The fire took in souls and made them new, and Yama sleeved them as he saw fit. Estella might be reborn as a tigress or a river dolphin or an ibex that could balance on tiptoe on a mountaintop. 

Or she might be born as a woman again, perhaps one who could have love all her life, instead of only the memory of it."



I don't know why this passage hurts me, but it does. 

Istilo Ko: Rizal Romantik

Istilo Ko: Rizal Romantik: Mga Tala at Pag-Agam ng Pag-ibig - Nilo Ocampo


The first sentence was “This tome will endeavor to scrutinize, in quasi-inclusive breadth, the epistemology of ophthalmologically contrived appraisals of ocular systems and the subsequent and requisite exertions imperative for expugnation of injurious states,” and as Violet read it out loud to her sister, both children felt the dread that comes when you begin a very boring and difficult book.” -  A Miserable Mill, Lemony Snicket


See that? That bold part is exactly what reading Istilo Ko felt like.


Look, I get it, poetry is what gets lost in translation, after all. It’s hard to translate an original work into another language without losing some of its soul in the process. Professor Ocampo had to translate Rizal’s works in such a way that he is able to portray Jose Rizal as an eloquent, educated man and at the same time, make it easy to read.


He succeeded in the first goal, and failed miserably in the second.

Let me explain: Tagalog is to Filipino as Ye Olde English is to modern-day English.

Most of us who can speak Filipino can understand Tagalog as well. It doesn’t come easy, at least for me, because Filipino is what we use in our everyday life.  Tagalog is the language you will hear during orations and speech competitions.


Tagalog was the language that Professor Ocampo used in translating Rizal’s works and letters in Istilo Ko.


How I wish he just stuck with it to the end.


The language used in Istilo Ko would fluctuate from informal Filipino, using words such as “okey!” and other such borrowed English words, to formal Tagalog. It was irritating to have to rewire my brain to understand Tagalog and then backpedal to my normal Filipino a paragraph later.


To add to the confusion, several Spanish words were left untranslated, without any footnotes to explain what they meant. Professor Ocampo simply assumed that the reader knew that these phrases meant.


Because in addition to having to spiral between Tagalog and Filipino, interpret whatever the hell Rizal was trying to say I had to be able to speak Spanish as well.


I’ve read Ambeth Ocampo’s translation of Makamisa, Rizal’s third, unfinished novel that parodied Filipino culture and I found it a lot preferable to this. The translation was breezy, easy to read and it was able to get its point across without having to resort to flowery language. I would’ve been a lot happier when reading Istilo Ko if the translation was a bit like Ambeth Ocampo’s work. Works are translated so that they can become more accessible to people, but Professor Ocampo made reading Rizal’s works a lot harder than it should have been.


Reading progress update: I've read 13%.

Lips Touch: Three Times - Jim Di Bartolo, Laini Taylor

"Kizzy wanted to be a woman who would dive off the prow of a sailboat into the sea, who would fall back in a tangle of sheets, laughing, and who could dance a tango, lazily stroke a leopard with her bare foot, freeze an enemy's blood with her eyes, make promises she couldn't possibly keep and then shift the world to keep them. She wanted to write memoirs and autograph them at a tiny bookshop in Rome, with a line of admirers snaking down a pink-lit alley. She wanted to make love on a balcony, ruin someone, trade in esoteric knowledge, watch strangers as coolly as a cat. She wanted to be inscrutable, have a drink named after her, a love song written for her, and a handsome adventurer's small airplane, champagne-christened Krizzy, which would vanish one day in a windstorm in Arabia so that she would have to mount a rescue operation involving camels and wear an indigo veil against the stinging sand, just like the nomads.


Kizzy wanted." 


Now I remember why I love reading Laini Taylor.

Reading progress update: I've read 233 out of 505 pages.

Death Watch - Ari Berk

"Several pages contained only newspaper cuttings. These, at least, were easy to read. Most were clippings that had been pasted into the ledger, stories about accidents, murders and terrible deaths that someone thought might be related to or result in ghostly activity. The headlines were terrible:











The book speaks for itself: The headlines were terrible


Reading progress update: I've read 197 out of 505 pages.

Death Watch - Ari Berk



Here's the thing, if you're going to have your main character spend 200 freaking pages investigating his father's mysterious business, don't put the sentence,


"Unbeknownst to his son, Amos was an Undertaker, responsible for settling the account of the dead in the Shadowlands, the states of limbo binding spirits to earth." in the book blurb. 


Also, it's generally not fun reading about a hero who does the same thing over and over and over again without the plot EVER moving forward. 




On fantasy
On fantasy

Full quote: 


The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.


Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?


We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.


They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.


Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 1396 pages.

War and Peace - Henry Gifford, Aylmer Maude, Louise Maude, Leo Tolstoy

My Philosophy professor convinced me to read War and Peace during my summer break. I'm trying not to notice how thick and heavy it is. 


God help me. 

So this is where binge-reading gets you...

Goosebumps Collection #1-62 - R.L. Stine

Because the last few weeks of a semester are particularly stressful, I decided that the best way to de-stress was to read a childhood favorite of mine: Goosebumps. 


Reading the Goosebumps series was a great way to unwind: it didn't require too much thought and it had predictable, amusing plots that neatly tied all the strings at the end of each book. 


Little 12-year-old me could (and did) spend hours reading book after book of R.L. Stine's work. However, 19-year-old me reads a lot faster than her younger counterpart and I usually finished a Goosebumps book within fifteen minutes of opening it. You'd think that that would have been hint enough that I needed to pick up something else. But I wasn't ready to relinquish the turn-your-brain-off-for-a-little-while quality that Goosebumps had.


So, instead of picking up a joke book like any regular person, I plowed through at least twenty of these things these past two weeks.  


Now I feel ill and bloated, the way one would feel after eating so much Christmas dinner that the mere sight of food turns them off. 


This has been my first case of binge-reading and it has not been pleasant. 

Now I think that I'll de-stress in a much more rational manner. Like looking up cute puppies on Google. 







The first thing I thought of was my dojo in Kendo.

Then in my room, lying in bed and reading a book.

Or playing a video game. 



Reading progress update: I've read 327 out of 448 pages.

White Teeth - Zadie Smith

Nothing gets me out of a funk better (or faster) than a good book and a cup of coffee. 

An Angry Letter to the Manila Train Authorities


Note: An English version of the letter is available somewhere farther down the article. 


But I would like to point something out: MRT fares are ridiculously cheap, charging half or sometimes even a third, of the fare you would have to spend if you took the jeep or the FX.


Every time the MRT and LRT companies express an interest in raising the fare, people take to the streets. They rally, they go on strikes, they rant on social media.

How then, do you expect to have a good service if you refuse to pay for it? 


Raising the fare by even one peso will generate millions of revenue, which can be used to make the rails a safer and faster transportation for commuters.


I'm not saying that it won't fall into the pockets of some corrupt asshole (because it probably will) but with a rise in transportation fees, people will expect a greater service from the MRT company. When that expectation is not met, strikes and rallies will invariably follow, which will result in either a rollback of fees or better service.  


Now for my red side to take over, 

I don't believe in censorship, especially not when it comes to someone's speech. The point of having a fucking Facebook page is so you can communicate with your customers, not so you can block their comments.

Your system sucks and you can't handle it when people tell you so?

What's the point of having a page then? 


Also, a "red" point of view on the MRT service.

These bastards make millions of pesos everyday and yet they don't improve the quality of service they have. I'm appalled at the sort of service described by the letter. 


I'm really just sitting the fence on what to believe of the MRT service. It's partly owned by a government organ (Department of Transportation and Communication) and partly owned by a private company (Manila Rail Transit Corporation). 

Is it the government's responsibility then, that the Filipino people be provided with a safe, efficient and convenient method of transport?

Or are we really just getting what we pay for?


Really, all I'm really sure of is how much I admire my friend, who has to take the MRT everyday and never even says a word of complaint about it. 

R is for Run (the main character is running from something)

Crimes Against Magic  - Steve McHugh

Done for Sockpoppet’s 2014 Reading Challenge R is for Run (the main character is running from something)—I should have run from this book. 


Crimes Against Magic is a perfect example of a "should have" book. It should have been good, I should have loved it. It had an interest plot and a pretty cool protagonist. But, like all should haves, there were a lot of things that prevented me from loving it. 

World-building (and how it was presented)

The author tried to make it into a The Nightside series-The Dresden Files combo, but it fell short of both. In the Dresden Files, Jim Butcher built up the world gently by expanding, introducing a new facet of it in each book.


But in Crimes Against Magic, the author immediately buffets the reader with information. Worse still, every time someone tries to explain something, they sound like exactly like an encyclopedia entry.


"There are several types of psychics. Some have convulsions when they see a vision. Some enter a trance-like state. Some even cause both themselves and the person they're viewing to go into a trance-like state. The one common denominator is that they need body contact, the more powerful the psychic the less contact they need."

 "Ever heard of Harbingers?"
I shook my head.
"They're the elite warriors of Avalon. They undergo a series of mental and physical trials to ensure that they operate at peak performance. It involves increasing their abilities, both magical and otherwise, through the use of psychics and rune work. Firstly, they give participants access to power that would otherwise take them a hundred years to develop. And secondly, it creates a loyalty and bond between each other, which is almost unbreakable."

It sounded less like a character explaining something and more like an audio book reading of "The Boring Encyclopedia of Supernatural Creatures".

The Nightside series also suffered from info-dumping but most of it happened inside John's head, so I could write it off as a character quirk.

In Crimes Against Magic everyone talked like that once something needed explaining. This got old pretty quickly since everything about the supernatural world was info-dumped onto the reader. Any spark of interest I felt for the world was stifled by the way it was presented. 


The characters were pretty bland, which was pretty surprising considering that all of them have pretty interesting backgrounds: the spunky kid with a neglectful mother, a woman who belongs to the mafia family but is rattled by the thought of violence.

But the thing is...they all had the same voice.

None of them were distinct enough that I stopped referring to them as Minor Characters X and Y.

Nathan Garrett: Sorcerer Extraordinaire is obviously meant to be a hardboiled detective/thief, but he just came out as a Mary Sue.

Everyone he meets immediately becomes friends with him (and are willing to die for him) or they're a villain.


Oh and every lady he meets wants to screw him, which can get pretty annoying to read about.


No man is that appealing--unless of course you're Nathan Garrett.

Unless it helps the plot or character development, I don't really see the point of putting so much sex scenes in a book.
It does nothing but tell us, the readers, that Nathan Garrett is hotter than u, so suck it bruh.


The Plot:
The plot seemed decent at first: a sorcerer wakes up in a warehouse with no memory of who he was. Beside him, a paper with the name "Nathan Garrett" written on it. Ten years later, the demons of his past catches up with him. It was pretty interesting but it got bogged down by all the stuff I already mentioned.


By the end, I was reading not because I wanted something to happen but because I wanted to get the book over with. 


Currently reading

Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn
Vladimir Bartol, Michael Biggins
The Republic of Thieves
Scott Lynch
Progress: 525/650 pages
War and Peace
Henry Gifford, Aylmer Maude, Louise Maude, Leo Tolstoy