29 June 2011


Character Connection 29

I can't believe that this is only my second Character Connection post for June! You'd think that with a giveaway to promote, I'd work harder at these things. =P

Today, I have a character from another novel I'm about to toss into my June Giveaway pool. She's one of the minor figures, whom another writer might have allowed to fade into the background--but I daresay you'd never know it from what I've found to write about her. Her own author doesn't fumble any of the characters in her generous ensemble cast, and I'm really looking forward to telling you more about that novel over the weekend.

28 June 2011


Option 10: By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II by Alfonso J. Aluit
(Visit the new Giveaways page to learn how you could win this book!)

While this work is concerned with the destruction of Manila towards the end of World War II in the Pacific, it begins with a history of Manila and a reconstruction in words of its physical condition up to February 1945.

It is our aim to show insofar as is practicable what actually was destroyed, not only the physical structures and material treasures of a city 400 years old, but also the way of life, the social organisation of the people.

Only if one understood and appreciated what it was that perished would the loss truly make sense . . .

Not that I'm making excuses for myself or anything, but this book doesn't really need a Locus Focus post to sell it. I've already written about it in a TBR Tuesday post and in a Theme Thursday post--and frankly, the Locus Focus I was drafting wasn't building on Aluit's storytelling journalism as much as rephrasing everything he had said and spoiling his point by making it more obvious. And that's not what my meme is all about, is it?

Anyway, if you check out the June Giveaway post, you'll see that By Sword and Fire is already in the pool of prizes. As it deserves to be.

27 June 2011


If I Had a 90s Soundtrack . . .

Now, I have no talent for putting playlists together. The secret to making one song flow properly into (or even sit amicably next to) another is beyond me. But if I had to put together a compilation album that sounded like the 1990s as I heard them, these two tracks--as different as they seem--would definitely make it in . . .


And I bring this up now because I recently heard them come together in a single song.

What's that? You don't believe me? Oh, ye of little musical imagination . . .

26 June 2011


Locus Focus: No Take

Right now you're wondering where yesterday's Locus Focus post is. As soon as I figure it out, I'll let you know! But even without looking, I'm willing to bet my whole blog that it's buried under the big heap of reality that came crashing down on my shoulders a few days ago. =/

UPDATE: Here it is! =P Locus Focus: Take Fifty-Seven. Enjoy! LOL!

If you had a "Foreign Shores" setting of your own all ready to publish, I apologise for yoking your neatly worked out schedule to my own shot-to-heck one. Since I do want to write one more Locus Focus post for a June Giveaway book, I'm extending the theme to next Saturday.

As for the rest of July, I'm pretty set on Island Settings. No cheesy name for them yet, but I'm willing to take suggestions. Sounds good, I hope? =)

25 June 2011


Locus Focus: Take Fifty-Seven!

Today, still in keeping with my June Giveaway and its sort-of complementary Foreign Shores theme, I present another place from a book about to enter the prize pool.

Sadly, it's not the "non-fiction setting" I promised earlier in the week, but it's still pretty good.

(Notice I didn't write "earlier this week." Even I'm not that Orwellian! LOL!)

24 June 2011


Faerie Tale Theatre Production Smackdown, Round 3B
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2 and Round 3A)

It's finally here!!! Can you believe it??? (I know I still can't . . .)

This week, two "Prince and Princess" faerie tales get to face off. Writing this post was an interesting experience for me, because I hadn't realised before I began how thematically related these two stories actually are. Another case of learning as I go and finally being ready to host a smackdown only when the smackdown is actually over. =P (But you like learning with me, right?)

At the end of this post, you'll get another chance to influence the outcome of this bracket when the winner faces off against one of our wild cards. Remember that casting a vote for a Faerie Tale Theatre Production gets you one extra entry in the June Giveaway.

Round 3B
The Faerie Four

23 June 2011


For the Love of Themes

As meme hostess Kavyen explains, Theme Thursday is "a wonderful opportunity to explore and understand different writing styles and descriptive approaches adopted by authors." I totally see where she's coming from.

Pick a theme--any theme: as long as it's universal enough, you'll find it in good literature across historical, geographical and cultural divides.

When I was in uni, I took a paper called "The Novel" in which I had to read Pride and Prejudice and Emma by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Howards End and A Passage to India by E.M. Forster, Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad, and Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence. The course description in the catalogue had the professor's quip that "Women in Love" is not just one title among the bunch, but also a theme shared by all the books assigned for reading. I daresay that the title of the other "bookend" novel could serve a similar double purpose: these books are also all about different forms of "Pride and Prejudice".

See why theme is such a lovely thing to a reader?

This Week's Theme:
Male Person

22 June 2011


Option 9: Tall Story by Candy Gourlay
(Visit the new Giveaways page to learn how you could win this book!)

"I have sorry. My English is . . . barok."

Barok. Baroque? Broken?

"It's okay, Bernardo. I understand everything."

How many times had Bernardo apologised for his English? I couldn't seem to make him understand that it really, really was okay.

In a funny way, I think I do get a lot of Tagalog. Language is just like a film soundtrack. I've heard Mum and Dad say,
Hey that piece of music was the soundtrack of my childhood! Well. Bernardo's barok English was just him singing his soundtrack in another key. Not his key. My key. When I thought about it that way, it wasn't the funny, broken English that I heard, but the story he wanted to tell.

And what a story it was . . .

This is another book that probably shouldn't be in the June Giveaway pool because it already has UK and US editions--and will have an Italian translation coming out soon. (!!!) So if you want to read it, you won't really need me to mail you a copy from all the way over here. And that kind of kills the point of the giveaway, you know? =P

But Tall Story gets in the pool, anyway, for two reasons: a) I really, really like it; and b) I want to stop feeling guilty, for just a couple of seconds, for promoting the heck out of books that most people might not be able to read for years to come. At least you know that no matter how the giveaway turns out, you'll be able to walk to a local bookstore and order your region's edition of Tall Story. And that's win-win! =D

21 June 2011


Life As a Reading Challenge, Chapter 7

Until very recently, I've been weathering a bad season for Reading Challenges (official) and reading projects (unofficial) alike.

My first and very basic personal challenge/project of writing down the title of every book I read this year took a completely unnecessary blow last March, when I couldn't figure out whether to count both new reads and rereads. So I just ended up not writing anything down. (Ridiculous, I know.) But it wasn't as bad as what happened a month later, when I found myself with enough material for another list: Books Started and Then Abandoned in 2011. For an even more basic personal reading challenge/project--one that is so obvious that it has hitherto gone unsaid--is that of finishing whatever I start.

19 June 2011


Option 8: The Secret by Lin Acacio Flores
(Visit the new Giveaways page to learn how you could win this book!)

So what if it was a mystery why the girls weren't allowed in the building anymore to enjoy the gym and the library?

So what if she had seen Sister Carentia enter the building with a huge basket on her arm and then lie about going there?

So what if Sister Carentia's cheeks turned as red as the tomatoes she was slicing when asked what was in the building?

Your curiosity will get you into trouble again, Rica scolded herself. Like, when you got caught peeking into the nuns' cloister. Then you were not allowed to play at all during recess for a whole month . . .

When I was making a list of six new books to throw into the June Giveaway pool this year, The Secret was the first title I wrote down. I discovered this novella about ten years ago, when my younger sister had to read it in grade school, and I remember liking it so much more than all the other local books she had been assigned over the years.

Well, I've just reread it and discovered I was grading on a curve! =P It's really not half as good as I remembered.

So how in the world did it manage to make the pool???

18 June 2011


Locus Focus: Take Fifty-Six!

Today I have another setting from a book that is in our June Giveaway pool. What I don't have (yet) is a cover image. =/

For some arcane reason, the publishers haven't seen fit to release a single promotional scan of the cover. The book is reasonably well known: it's still in print, very visible to browsers, familiar to many young readers I've tutored, and used to be required reading in one of the biggest grade schools in the metro (if not more than one!). And yet it is virtually invisible on the Internet.

I took a decent photo of the cover with my family's new camera--but of course, I can't find the USB cord and so can't upload it. (Typical.) Until then, I'll be using the logo of the Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting (loosely translated as "Storytellers for Tots"), an association of writers for children to which the author belongs.

17 June 2011


Character Connection 28

Did I really say that I would be resuming the Faerie Tale Theatre Production Smackdown today? Really and truly?

You're never going to anything I say again, are you? =/

But I hope that the following character, from a novel that has just slipped into the June Giveaway pool, will at least persuade you to forgive me. He's really wonderful, and I can't think of anyone worthier of leading out this month's crop of Character Connection posts.

16 June 2011


Writing Diary, Entry #26
(Alternatively Titled: "On Prequels and Sequels")

There's something about prequels that I just have to love. I suppose I should thank George Lucas for getting the ball rolling with The Phantom Menace, but it wasn't until this year, when I was hit with the double whammy of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and X-men: First Class, that I became not just a fan, but also a believer.

If you want to read my thoughts on X-men: First Class, you can check out my Twelve Things post.

For the same on Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, you'll have to be living in the Philippines and willing to buy a copy of next month's Atlas TV Guide. =P

15 June 2011


A Place and a Question

W Gi-and Q
number 1 3

Welcome to this special edition of Word & Question! This month, I changed the rules a little: instead of submitting a word, all players had to submit the name of a place. That's to tie this monthly activity to my June Giveaway, which lets one lucky reader win a book from the Philippines. (Remember that if you're playing this game for points/entries, you must be linked up by 29 June!)

Speaking of giveaways, haiku wizard Vvb32 has her own special giveaway of a book by a Filipina writer! Link up your poem a second time on her Word and Question: Deadhorse post and get a chance to win Her Wild American Self by Evelina Galang. This offer is also open to anyone willing to compose a haiku using the prompts Vvb32 received in this game--and yes, it's international! =D

By the way, if you didn't get to read all the poems from last month's game, you can always go back to Very Sleepy People and get updated!

UPDATE: For more poetry, visit this week's Poem in Your Post Blog Hop. I've already linked up this post and hope you'll join us by linking up your own as well. =)

12 June 2011


Option 7: The God Stealer by F. Sionil Jose
(Visit the new Giveaways page to learn how you could win this book!)

They were the best of friends and that was possible because they worked in the same office and both were young and imbued with a freshness of outlook. Sam Christie was twenty-eight and his Filipino assistant, Philip Latak, was twenty-six and was--just as Sam was in the Agency for International Development before he assumed his post--intelligent and industrious.

"That is to be expected," the official whom Sam replaced explained, "because Philip is Ifugao and you don't know patience until you have seen the rice terraces his ancestors built."

"You will find," Sam Christie was also told, "that the Ifugao, like the Ilocanos, no matter how urbanised they already are, retain a sense of inferiority. Not Philip. He is proud of being Ifugao . . ."

--from the short story The God Stealer

F. Sionil Jose is a writer I am very ambivalent about. On the one hand, his Po-on is one of my favourite Filipino novels of all time. (That's why it remains Option 4 in this year's June Giveaway.) On the other hand, it's only one of five novels in his Rosales saga--and I couldn't stand three of the other four enough even to finish them. (The last one I didn't even bother with. And frankly, I couldn't tell you which were which.)

That's why I'm a bit nervous about throwing the short story anthology The God Stealer into the giveaway pool this year. It has thirteen different stories (Oooh! Lucky number! LOL!), but only a few I really love. In fact, there are some I hadn't read until I said to myself, "Hey, why don't I include that story about the Filipino named Philip and the American named Sam?" and bought this specific collection so I could reread it. And there are a couple of stories I don't like at all and the rest I have yet to read. I'm probably not the best person to recommend this book, but it's in the pool, anyway. Caveat lector.

Having said that, let me give you a sampler of the other stories I am familiar with . . .

11 June 2011


Locus Focus: Take Fifty-Five!

Welcome to the Foreign Shores Challenge!

Today I am hosting not just Locus Focus, but also the June Giveaway in which I offer one reader the chance to win a book from the Philippines. This means that while the settings I feature in June will definitely be foreign to those who are eligible to enter the giveaway, they won't also be foreign to me. (Okay, it's cheating a bit . . . but we're still friends, right?)

The seventh book up for grabs is The God Stealer, a collection of short stories by F. Sionil Jose, the title work of which is his most anthologised piece of short fiction. I'll have a proper post on the whole collection up soon, but today let's just focus on the setting of the jewel in its crown. (Pun not intended.)

08 June 2011


Playing Poetry with a Lucky 13 Twist

letter W ampersand & letter Q
Audio Tour Number 1 Cardboard Bingo Number 3

This month, I am giving away another book from the Philippines to one lucky reader . . . and that is why our latest "Word & Question" gets to be "Place & Question"! (Yes, that's probably a non sequitur.) You don't have to enter the giveaway to join the game, but you will have to play along with our twist.

The rules are exactly the same, except that your word should also be the name of a place. Send your prompts to me before the first deadline in the following schedule:

07 June 2011


Just when you thought I had forgotten about it . . . ;-)

Remember these books from last year? They're back in the giveaway pool for this year!

And in case you don't remember or are new to this giveaway, I've provided links to each non-review posts inspired by these six books.

Barefoot in Fire: A World War II Childhood by Barbara Gamboa-Lewis
Locus Focus #6 -- Number 75, Ortega Street

The Manila We Knew edited by Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio
Locus Focus #5 -- The Escolta

The Woman Who Had Two Navels by Nick Joaquin
Character Connection #9 -- Pepe Monson
Locus Focus #8 -- St. Andrew's Convent
Teaser Tuesday -- Excerpt

NEW BOOK: The God Stealer by F. Sionil Jose
Locus Focus #55 -- Ifugao

NEW BOOK: Tall Story by Candy Gourlay
Character Connection #28 -- Bernardo Hipolito

NEW BOOK: By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II by Alfonso J. Aluit
Theme Thursday -- Male Person

Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan
Character Connection #7 -- Gus Saenz, SJ

Owl Friends by Carla M. Pacis
Locus Focus #4 -- Loob Bunga

Po-on by F. Sionil Jose
Character Connection #8 -- Eustaquio "Istak" Salvador
From Reading for Believers: First Impressions? and On Tagalog vs. English

NEW BOOK: The Secret by Lin Acacio-Flores
Locus Focus #56: The Grade School Building

NEW BOOK: Banana Heart Summer by Merlinda Bobis
Character Connection #29 -- Maria Corazon Alano

NEW BOOK: Cave and Shadows by Nick Joaquin
Character Connection #30 -- Nenita Coogan
Locus Focus #57 -- The Cave

I'll be adding more to their number as the month unfolds,
so keep checking back for updates! =)

06 June 2011


Reading Diary: I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-word Memoirs by Teens Famous + Obscure

This is the story of six . . .

Most memoirs are books written by one person and are meant to be read from start to finish. There's one overall story with a beginning, middle, and end, plus some characters you get to know pretty well.

This is not one of those books.

This is a book with over 600 authors (all aged thirteen to nineteen) and 600 characters (all real, as far as we know) and 600 stories (which can be read in any order). What every story has in common is that each was written about the author's own life, and that each is the exact same length: six words.

The introduction includes that legend about Ernest Hemingway I've always loved: the one in which he was challenged to write a short story in ten words and came back with six:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

There is a whole novel in those six words, for those who know how to read them.

Romance author Mary Jo Putney once said of Hemingway's style that it is "as devoid of emotion as it is of adjectives." While I generally agree with her critique, I wonder if a six-word Putney Romance novel would be any match for our six-word Hemingway classic.

But novels are hard--and as I glance around my glass house, I realise I have no business throwing down gauntlets. Let's stick with the memoirs.

05 June 2011


Twelve Things about X-men: First Class

12. This is going to be a wordy "Twelve Things" post (So what's new?), but for those who like their reviews short and sweet, I offer this one word to stand for everything I feel about this movie . . .


Okay, you may stop reading now. =P

11. Some of my recent activities have convinced me that it takes more creativity and skill to answer the question, "What happened first?" than the more conventional one of "What happened next?"

Prequels are very easy to screw up. (Just ask George Lucas.) But when they are good, oh, they are very good. This one is very good. Even those who have little idea who the X-men are can go to see it and be edified.

04 June 2011


My Life in Movies

Before I let Shredded Cheddar go back to looking like a book blog, I thought I'd make another stab at movie blog status. And it seemed like a good idea to start with a movie meme (Yes, those do exist!) that's been going viral around the movie-verse.

The rule is simple. For every year you've been alive, pick a movie.

So of course I'm going to complicate it.

You see, while I was making this list and picking my obvious favourites from each year, I found myself reminded of movies I haven't thought of in the longest time, but which would have easily made this list, had I tried this twenty, ten or even five years ago. That's because I keep discovering "old" movies that I didn't see when they were still "new"--usually because I was too young for them when they first came out. And that's kind of interesting, in this light of this exercise, which remembers when old movies were new--no matter how long ago they came out.

That's why I thought I'd make a series of My Life in Movies lists and start with those films that I wasn't too young for. Although I might not have seen all of these in their year of release, I saw them close enough to the date to have been young with them, too.

The Last Unicorn
No other movie could make me so happy to reveal my real age to all of cyberspace. So much of what I understand of loneliness and longing was shaped into something bittersweet and beautiful by this movie. (And now you know why, despite my great love for Zombies, I will always choose Unicorns.)