29 July 2014


Judging Readers by Their Collections

This Week's Theme:
Authors We Own the Most Books Of

My title is tongue-in-cheek, of course. I know as well as anybody that book buying habits can change over time and that collections can be "curated." (You know who'd have a field day with that word, though? George Orwell.) These days, I tend not to stick to a single author for very long, preferring to choose a new book to read according to how different it is from the book I just finished. But when I was young, my habit was to stockpile as many books as I could by the author I liked most at the moment. It was the first strategy I ever developed for choosing books--and a quick glance at the yellowing, crumbling editions on my shelves will reveal which writers wove the stories of my childhood and youth. But there's no similar "giveaway" for those who left an equally huge impact later on.

Then there were the years I was part of the online Romance community, where reading as many titles as possible by a single author was part of the culture--which, of course, I was determined to assimilate into. (I'm a good immigrant.) Although I don't read much Romance any longer, my holding on to my old books makes it easy for anyone to tell which authors I had "love affairs" with. I'd argue that their disproportionate representation in my personal library no longer says something substantial about me, but neither Alone of The Last Psychiatrist nor David Wong of Cracked.com's End Times Report would let me get away with that. =P

Nonetheless, in a world where reading a book and owning a book aren't always the same thing . . . with a market fond of pushing trilogies and series . . . how do we crunch the numbers? To take an analogy from a different medium, a friend of mine one described the TV series LOST as "a great novel": does this mean that all 121 episodes count as one? I could ask these questions all day, but I really ought to get to the point, aye? So while we're working out our answers, here is my list . . .

A Tenner:
Authors Whose Books Take The Most Space in My Personal Collection

28 July 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 98

So what has everyone been reading lately? Thanks to last June's odd mix of Philippine literature and Plato's Dialogues, I've been feeling a little more critical of Philippine society and been adapting my reading accordingly. These days, I'm getting through more non-fiction than usual, the books which keep me the busiest being those which purport to answer the question "What's wrong with the world?"--though not including G.K. Chesterton's What's Wrong with the World. =P

I'm also feeling more tired than usual . . . not because of work, but because of life . . . and I almost decided to put off having another Book Club pick until September . . . before I realised that there happens to be a popular genre I do want to read with others right now, if you all are willing, too. That is, if Dystopian Fiction sounds good to you and you don't mind that my deadline for finishing the readalong is 30 September, please help me to choose from among the following two books by a critically acclaimed author . . .

27 July 2014


Book Boyfriend #4

Meet "The Bad Boy King" and other Book Boyfriends
@ Stuck in Books

It seems that my status as "Sensor Librorum" is still official. Someone at work who knows that I read YA novels recently asked me if the book with today's "boyfriend" would be appropriate for "a mature ten-year-old" girl. Not having been around ten-year-old children for a while, I waffled a bit before finally saying no.

"But I thought you said there was no graphic violence and that the most sexual word in the text was 'kiss.'"

As I explained that you don't even need to kiss if you can play mind games, this post began to take shape. But as you can already tell, I'm looking at today's book boyfriend not from the perspective of someone who might want to date him but from the perspective of someone who would like her daughter to stay away from him . . . for at least a few more years.

23 July 2014


Early Edition: Shooting Accident

This episode gives us one of the more interesting challenges of Season 1. A child shoots his brother with a gun that his mother has been keeping because she fears (with very good reason) that their estranged father will return and try to kill her. What is one who hears the news in advance to do?

As if he heard today's question back in 1995, Gary Hobson says, "I get the gun. I'm in. I'm out." But is it really that simple?

20 July 2014


Children's Programme "Fake" Band Smackdown, Final Winner!!!
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2 Round 3A, the Intermission, Round 3B, and Round 4)

Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem!

What a band, aye? =D I am always in awe of what Jim Henson and his colleagues were able to create on The Muppet Show and their other projects. Of all the "fake" bands in this smackdown, they are the realest because they were so from the beginning. The Monkees may have surprised everyone by becoming real after their first season, but The Electric Mayhem and all the other Muppets topped them by being real in their very first show.  

There's also the winner of the June/July Giveaway to announce. But first, the conclusion to my thoughts on Fred Rogers's belief that it is wrong to blur the lines between fantasy and reality when dealing with children, which I didn't include at the end of last week's post for reasons that I hope will be obvious in a few seconds . . .

19 July 2014


Locus Focus: Take One Hundred and Six!

Whenever I do a themed series for Locus Focus, I try to find four settings for each theme--and for the most part, I succeed. This June and July, I played tour guide in an ancient barrio, a sordid slum, and a modern suburb . . . but I'm afraid that it for the Filipino settings.

I did think about featuring something from a Filipino movie (as I did last year, in Take Ninety-Seven). But then it dawned on me that there is another "video" setting that I've been appreciating for weeks. It may not fit one theme I've been working, but it totally fits another.

17 July 2014


Theme Thursday 12

The last time I did a Theme Thursday post, I also tried to visit all the bloggers who had participated in it three years ago. Some of the blogs were no longer active, but I left comments for all those which were. It was nice to be reminded of the reason I started doing Theme Thursday posts back then: the show-and-tell aspect of everyone reaching into his current read and pulling out something both similar and different. But it was also a little sad to give old posts some comment love; I felt as if I were writing letters to people whose old diaries I had come across in an attic.

Since I'll be doing that again this week, for the theme from 9 March 2011, I'm bracing myself right now.

This Week's Theme:

12 July 2014


Children's Programme "Fake" Band Smackdown, Round 4
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2 Round 3A, the Intermission, and Round 3B)

Now we come to everyone's favourite part of my smackdowns: the part where I run out of things to say. =P I'll just officially declare that Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution were the winners of the last little face-off, and then turn the final vote for the greatest Children's Programme "Fake" Band over to you. So which shall it be?

Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem
The Monkees

Both bands put up such a good fight in every round that I think this is too close to call. The last time we had a race this tight, we were "watching" the finals of the Weird "Al" Yankovic Song smackdown. I kind of wish we could call this a tie! (Actually, no I don't. LOL!) While I do have a favourite between them, I leave the final decision up to you. Let me know in the combox which "fake" band from TV deserves the Shredded Cheddar crown.

Those who are voting for June/July Giveaway entries already know that the Rafflecopter is after the jump. But what you don't know is that I have one more surprise . . .

11 July 2014


Option #30:"Gotita de Dragon" and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin
(Scroll down for the Rafflecopter and see the Giveaways page for more information)

There lived a poet in Pasig for whom twilight sometimes gathered while the sun was still a-nooning. When that happened, he could understand the language of animals, and also of flowers, kettles, and chairs.

One day he was having a pre-lunch aperitif when what should drop into his drink but a lizard. It was a baby lizard no bigger than a pin, and not yet expert at cruising ceilings. "Crawling upside down takes a lot of practice," its mother had said, "so we'll begin with something easier, like crawling down walls." Which was what she had been training her baby to do, every evening, at the sound of the Angelus, when, as we know, good house lizards kiss the ground in homage to the Virgin . . .

-- from "Gotita de Dragon"

The last time I read a Nick Joaquin story for children, I was a child myself. I especially loved one Western faerie tale that he retold in a "groovy" Philippine setting . . . but it's not in this collection and may not be reprinted for many years yet. On the other hand, I'm pleased to report that at least one more faerie tale once passed through the prism of his imagination, that we will find it here, and that it also happens to be the faerie tale that spilled its secrets to me this Giveaway season. Don't you love it when stories do that?

Joaquin's style is very uneven--almost rough--in his novels, but he always has just the right touch in his shorter pieces. Here are my even shorter reviews for all five stories in this book . . .

08 July 2014


Book Blogger Buzzkills

This Week's Topic:
Book Blogger Confessions

Sometimes I know well in advance what my blog's week is going to look like, and sometimes posts just write themselves. I may have drafted this on the spur of the moment, but I've been thinking about many of the issues in it for years. And while they aren't really secrets--because I'm open about them when anyone asks--I get the sense that some of them shouldn't be brought up in mixed company.

But The Broke and the Bookish is actually inviting people to share not one . . . not two . . . but ten of our "deepest, darkest confessions" today, and it's only the perfect time to pull them all out! So here we go . . .

A Tenner:
What I Secretly Think of the Book Blogging Community

05 July 2014


Locus Focus: Take One Hundred and Five!

It seems that Locus Focus is now a fortnightly festival. That works for me, even if it's one more thing messing up the June/July Giveaway. I had to adjust the end date on the Rafflecopter again, but this time is really the last time.

Two fortnights ago, we read about an ancient village; last fortnight, it was a modern city slum. Today's setting is kind of in between, with more creature comforts . . . 

04 July 2014


Children's Programme "Fake" Band Smackdown, Round 3B!
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2 Round 3A, and the Intermission)

We're finally back on track this week--sort of! During the Intermission, Love Handel utterly demolished Iron Weasel . . . and I can't say I'm surprised. =P Here's a face-off that (I hope) will be a little more unpredictable.

The Sundance Kids vs. The Evolution Revolution

The 1970s were a great decade for "fake" bands. I couldn't let them dominate the Archies Sixteen, of course, but it still hurt to cull them from the final cut. Some bands seemed to exist "just because," but others came with stories. And for some reason, many of the stories involved crime and espionage. Take the Sundance Kids, a teen band with fans all over the world: they were really undercover CIA agents whose gigs gave them the perfect cover in any foreign locations where they had to solve a case. On the other hand, Lance Link already had a good thing going with the Evolution Revolution when he was recruited by A.P.E. to be one of their secret agents. The band continued to perform together because songs turned out to be great vehicles for coded messages! Which group of singing spies gets your vote?

Tell me in the combox which band you like better and earn another entry in what really should be called the June/July Giveaway! The Rafflecopter is at the end of this post.

Round 3B
The "Fake" Four

03 July 2014


Theme Thursday 11

When I first started joining Theme Thursday, I would have to wait until the theme was announced and then try to find a fitting passage for it from my current read. These days, checking off posts as old as three years and four months, I can keep a theme in mind over several books, until I finally find something that does it justice. As I have today . . .

Today's Theme:

01 July 2014


Option #29: Project 17 by Eliza Victoria
(Scroll down for the Rafflecopter and see the Giveaways page for more information)

"A lot of people fought the idea when they were first introduced in 2015," [the old woman] said, pointing at the walking Sentry, aware that she now had an audience. "I remember. They said it was government control, that it would pave the way for a second, stronger Martial Law, a literal hand of steel that we wouldn't be able to fight. But I'm 60 years old and I remember the state of law and order long before the Sentries came, and it doesn't compare to this . . . I remember a time when troops operated as local officials' private armies . . . Others shook down citizens, asking for money and planting evidence, or conjuring make-believe violations . . . Some were kind, but flawed, shooting hostages instead of the hostage takers, endangering bystanders because they either got nervous in front of the TV cameras or were just plain stupid. Some were good souls, but the corrupt system broke them . . . That there's your police and military, and you can't trust them. Justice can only be delivered by someone who doesn't care about how much he's paid . . . whose ego won't be inflated by grandeur or power . . . who won't be influenced by this guy's being the CEO of this or his being the Mayor of that. And let's face it: that someone couldn't be human."

If I had wanted a palate cleanser after two "social justice novels" in a row, then I couldn't have asked for better than this Science Fiction novella, set in a future when I could play the old lady with a long memory. But would I be as rosy-eyed as she about the robot Sentries who ushered in a new golden age of peace and order? As you can see, there's still some relevant social commentary in Eliza Victoria's Project 17, but it is secondary to all the other elements. That's probably the most unsatisfying thing about it.

I'm throwing it into the June Giveaway pool anyway because anything goes in July it's the first example of "Philippine Speculative Fiction" I've ever read and because it's a twist on the sort-of genre that is the "Governess Novel", which you know I love.