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Archive for October 2010

Review: Trash by Andy Mulligan

In a third-world country, there lives three boys who picks up trash to make a living. Welcome to their life: picking up trash to clean, sell and get a bit of money in return to feed them. It's a life that's bleak, where most of the stuff they scavenge turn out to be human waste [not a good thing], until one day, they come across a bag. The police are after this bag, so they try and chase the boys to get it. Little did these boys know that this bag would change their lives forever, and unravel a mystery that was in the national news.

I first came across this at a Facebook post by one of my favourite bookstores here in Manila: National Bookstore. They were having a book launch and since there rarely are any book launches in MNL, I jumped at the chance and went with a colleague of mine from work!

Anyway, I have a bit of a soft spot for this book. First off, it shows the cruel reality of life here in MNL: the poor are getting poorer, the rich are getting richer, and well, there are so many corrupt officials out here that it's hard for the country to actually rise up. Okay, enough of the dark stuff, on to the book. Although the setting was not specified, it is obviously based in Manila [as what Andy Mulligan said during his book launch] and some of the places he stated in his book are real: Green hills, McKinley Hill [which is just a stone's throw away from my office building and the British School Manila, where Andy used to teach], South Superhighway [which I pass every day as I go to and from work], while some places are loosely based on other settings in Manila. I believe Navaho Cemetery is the North Cemetery -- where yes, there is a divide between the poor and the rich, even in death. There are obviously those stacks of graves that he was describing, and yes, the 5-year lease is also true and if you can't pay, the bones would just be tossed out. And yes, there definitely are people who make a living by foraging in the trash, even children. The sad realities of life in Manila.

While the characters are not as well-developed as I hoped, their bonding makes it an ideal team as they tried to solve the puzzles in the book. At times I often wonder if I were in that situation, would I have been brave enough to complete the task and the mystery involved? Or would I have taken the money? It's such a huge dilemma! And yes, money definitely is involved in almost every aspect in everyday life here.

I loved this book, it took me just a few days to finish this, and since it's quite short [200+ pages], it is a quick read, but the message is deep. Although the plot can be quite predictable, and the writing is simple, I loved every bit of this book and I'm more than happy to have gotten a copy and had it signed by the author. It makes me want to say how lucky I am to be in a position that I am in and thankful for everything that I have.

Published: 2010
Publisher: David Fickling books/Random House
Available from: Everywhere!
Read it if: You want a glimpse of life in MNL and the realities of the harshness of life picking up trash, how corruption works
Book was: bought from National Bookstore; signed by the author at the book launch.
Rating: LOVES [4/5 rating!]

Lord of the Rams

The Lord of the Rams is an autobiography of Ronan Smith as he was growing up in the late 80s, early 90s in rural Ireland. It shows him as a troublesome young lad, as he was terrorizing his teachers, bus drivers, and others through his unstoppable mouth. The book also shows his adventures with his friends: mostly gross, but then again what can you expect from boys?

So, what are my thoughts about this book? Uhmm... Let's just say that the descriptions of some of the pranks and things that happened to him are utterly disgusting, you'll be put off from reading after some time. The mere thought of their antics as well is enough to make a parent shake their head in disbelief and wish that their children would not be as troublesome as the Rams was when he was younger.

Was it entertaining? A bit, yes. Was it worth your time to read? I honestly don't know. To each their own, I guess. Did I learn something new from the book? Uh.. maybe more tricks to terrorize adults? Okay, I did not entirely like the book, but there's this area where I could totally relate to the Rams: it was college, and he was broke. I experienced the same hardship when i was in university and my funds were very limited, and yes, I have to come up with ways to earn more moolah! I also can relate to him when he was feeling down and depressed as he was searching for a job after university. And finally landing a job he really likes!

So, okay, what else? I wouldn't really bother spending some money or time on this book, but read it if you're curious about rural Ireland in the 80s/90s.


Published: 2008
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Available from: Amazon
Read it if: Huh. I don't know.
Book was: provided by the author for review.
Rating: So-So [2/5 rating]

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters

Percy's first year at Camp Half Blood was a success! He was sent on his very first quest and managed to live another year. This time, he meets a new friend, Tyson, at Merryweather Prep, managed to get attacked by monsters [Laistrygonians], and had to save the Camp from being destroyed by getting the Golden Fleece when Thalia's tree was poisoned.

Another action-packed Percy Jackson novel! I can't write my own summary without giving too much away! Teehee. This book has got a lot of family values, a lot of action, and a lot of adventure, all in 279 pages. I love how Rick Riordan manages to combine reality and Greek mythology in his Percy Jackson novels -- it sure can encourage the young ones to remember their mythology [if it is still required for school].

However, I've got some rants about this book. I find it too predictable... the stories obviously have been mashed from some of the mythologies that are already known -- Jason and the Argonauts, and most of the plot is from Odysseus. I've managed to watch a documentary of sorts about Odysseus one time from the History Channel and everything is plotted out there. Down to Circes, and all the other characters from the quest -- I guess the Sea of Monsters is a retelling of sorts? [Uh, Duh, Ruby?]

**May contain spoilers**

 I looooooove Tyson!! He is such a cute little character -- as well as Hermes's snakes, George and Magda!!! "Rats are delicious." Hmmm... not that I like rats too but it's become my favourite tag line for the whole of the Percy second tale! Magda is the more serious one but George and Magda combined offer a lot of laughs for me. I hope they would make some other cameos in the other books!

Honestly, that part about the golden fleece and Thalia? I kind of thought that would happen. Oh well. Predictable. But nevertheless fun.

So, on to the ratings then!

Published: 2006
Publisher: Hyperion
Available from: Everywhere!
Read it if: You want to learn about Greek mythology, or you want to know what's next in Percy's adventure
Book was: Borrowed from a friend
Rating: LIKES

The Final Stretch - Oct 2010 Readathon Updates/Challenges

**Scroll down for earlier hour updates**

I can't believe the Readathon is nearly over. As I type this, there's 9 more minutes left before the end... oh my gosh....

So, what are my stats?
Only managed to read two books out of the four I've posted... Finished books? Zero. Managed to finish half of The Dust of 100 Dogs, and uh.. until Chapter 8 of The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle. No idea how many pages I've read in The Sign of Four tho!

Hours spent reading/blogging/joining mini challenges/looking at other blogs: 10.

See you on the next readathon! :) I'll mark the date on my calendar now!

HOUR 21:

Just gone online again... wanted to take a little break and join in yet another mini-challenge =) It's about memoirs/true stories. Hmm... they all count as autobiographies, right? Off to answer the questionnaire:

Have you ever read a memoir/true story (Or book 'based on true events'?)
Yes, quite a few, actually

2. If so, what was the title/author?
Ronan Keating - Life is a Rollercoaster
Belle de Jour - The Unlikely Diary of a London Call Girl
Mitch Albom - Tuesdays with Morrie
Westlife - Our Story

3. What what it about?
Mostly biographies about the life of the authors I've been reading.

4. Did you like it? Would you recommend it?
I like most of the books -- definitely will recommend Tuesdays with Morrie to anyone. All the rest? Well, I guess fans of them would definitely enjoy it but it's not for everyday reading.

5. How many have you read?

6. Why or what made you want to read it?
I'm either a) a fan of the band or person I want to read the book [case of Westlife and Ronan Keating] or b) I've seen a tv series/movie based on the book and wanted to check if the adaptation is same or almost close to the book [like Belle de Jour] or c) I needed some lessons in life [case of Tuesdays with Morrie]

7. What was the saddest/scariest one you read? 
Tuesdays with Morrie, definitely

8. Did it have a 'happy ending'?
Not really.

9. When choosing a memoir/true story, do you look for a certain kind? ( i.e. historical diary, inspirational like The Freedom Writer's Diary, Christian, non Christian)
I normally just look for inspirational stuff for people or shows I'm not normally a fan of.

10. Bonus question(s-it's in parts:) for my giveaway: Have you read 3 or more memoirs/true stories? Title/Author, would you recommend them?If you were to win the giveaway prize, would you want the book, (Sizzling 16 by Janet Evanovich) and would you prefer the coffee or tea? or both?
Yes, I've read three or more memoirs/true stories; Title/Authors listed are same as the list above; would I recommend them? YES,; and if I were to win a giveaway prize, I'd get Sizzling 16. 
Ronan Keating - Life is a Rollercoaster
Belle de Jour - The Unlikely Diary of a London Call Girl
Mitch Albom - Tuesdays with Morrie
Westlife - Our Story

HOUR 18:
Yay!! I just won a prize from the Readathon from the mid-event meme !
Thank you sooo much!! Anyway, on to more mini-challenges to distract myself from reading. I am getting a wee bit sleepy [Gaahhhh my body is reacting to me reading! It thinks that it's already evening and I'm set to sleep for a new day ahead! I should program myself next time that there's a readathon to stay up!]

I am making good progress on The Sign of Four by Sherlock Holmes [I think I'm about to finish Chapter 8 but no clue on the whole progress/page count since I'm using a Kindle for iPhone to read the ebook] and I'm on page 122 of The Dust of 100 Dogs by AS King already! It's a re-read but I looove this book!

Anyway, Part of a mini-challenge for Dewey's 24-Hour readathon is hosted by Midnight Book Girl: It is to present a book and why it should be banned. It doesn't matter if the book is already part of the banned book list or is not, you just have to market it to her!

So, going back to my comfort book, The Dust of 100 Dogs by AS King, I am going to present why it should be banned:

The Dust of 100 Dogs lets you inside the world of Emer, a female pirate. Hmm... pirate books in itself should be banned as there are also loads of Somali pirates [real life ones, in fact] that are kidnapping sailors and boatnapping ships alike! Also, this book should definitely be banned given that the main character always imagines sadistic, hurtful things to other people who pissed her off. Hmm.. that, and violence around the home is also being discussed in the book. Now, would you also like your kids to imagine that they could remember their past lives, if ever? I wouldn't think so. So, ban this book [although banning certain books would be certain to make the sales go up higher] and protest against pirates, boatnapping, kidnapping and violence against the home!!!
Tag : ,

October 2010 Readathon Day Two

And so it's 9:37AM here in Manila as I type this. I've just spent 20 minutes trying to connect on my wireless internet. Gaah. Unpredictable internet speed. I've just gone from mass and had my sleep so it's time to start anew. Oh, and it's 10.10.10!

So, gotta complete some mini challenges now:

1. What are you reading right now? The Dust of 100 Dogs by AS King
2. How many books have you read so far? 0. I was asleep from hour 3-9 then went to mass and had bfast. eeep.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? The Dust of 100 Dogs!!
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Not really, it just so happened that I've no plans for the afternoon and all were done early this morning!
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Yes! Sleep and mass. Well, I can't really deal with those so I've got to stop reading and just go on with the flow.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? I fell asleep early!! That was a huge surprise, I was reading after hour 2 last night and was sooo sleepy.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Keep it up, its so much fun!
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I guess I'd try and read more??
9. Are you getting tired yet? Nope, I just woke up!! =p
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Looks like I need advice more!
Tag : ,

October 2010 Readathon Updates

Hiya everyone! This will be the place I'll be posting my updates relating to the 24 hour readathon. This year is a bit different for me since I did not sign up to be a cheerleader. For the past two readathons, I was a cheerleader but realized I need to concentrate on reading this time.

Okay, on to the updates and mini-challenge posts over the next few hours.

First up, the books I am going to read during the duration of the readathon:

1. The Further Adventures of a London Call Girl - Belle De Jour
2. City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
3. The Dust of 100 Dogs - A.S. King
4. The Sign of Four - Sherlock Holmes

Okay guys, I'm logging off the internet and my computer now. My mum only has two electric sockets in her room for now, where I've plugged in my external hard drive and the other, I alternate between an electric fan and the laptop. I'm dizzy because it's really hot whenever I unplug the fan to charge the laptop's batteries, it's bloody bloody hot in Manila right now!

I'll go back online tomorrow, where I would blog and stay online during the duration of the readathon -- will probably schedule some book reviews as well.

So, good night everyone. Sorry to be logging off this early in the readathon and I hope I'll get to visit some of your blogs tomorrow! 10.10.10! whee.

**Dewey Readathon meme**
Where are you reading from today?  my house.
3 facts about me … i have a dog named goofy, am a really slow reader, and have 7 pets.
How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? 3. But doubt I'd ever get to finish any of them unless some sort of miracle happens.
Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? Nothing particular, just read as much as I can and join in as many mini challenges as I can.
If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time? I'm not really a veteran but keep on reading and don't forget to take breaks! This is supposed to be a fun activity, after all.

The 24-Hour Readathon

It's that time of the year again! The second 24-hour readathon would start this Saturday, October 9th, 8pm Manila time and end on October 10th, 8pm Manila time as well.
TIt's a great time to start reading some TBR books, and to finish reading some other books as well!

This is my second year to participate and although I do not read very quickly, it is a fun way of meeting other book bloggers and also join in some of the other mini challenges!

To join and learn more info on the readathon, visit their website: http://24hourreadathon.com
Tag : ,

Belle De Jour

Belle De Jour: The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl is a real-life memoir of "Belle", a university graduate who could not find a decent job in London so she became a prostitute to earn her keep. Based on the blog of Belle - http://belledejour-uk.blogspot.com/ the book was written in a diary sort of way and does not exactly have a specific plot. Rather, the book revolves around Belle's lovelife, her clients, and some memoirs of her personal life.

I initially found out about this book way back in 2008, I was holding a Belle De Jour planner, and my British boss looked at it and said: "Did you know that Belle de Jour is a prostitute?" Confused, I looked at a colleague [who is Malaysian but happens to live in Britain for some time], who explained: "Belle de Jour is a tv show adapted from a book. You should watch it, it's fun."

And so, I watched the tv series starring Billie Piper and Iddo Goldberg, fell in love with the tv series and decided to get the book. Well, I had to wait two years to get the book because it proved to be quite difficult to find in Manila, until I saw it in Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street. The cheapskate in me did not want to get the book until it was on sale and lo and behold, a few weeks later, they had a 20% off sale and I immediately nabbed it! teehee.

Enough of the story and lets get on with the review. The book is so raunchy, sexy and witty. It is definitely not for the younger folk as it describes some of the acts she does in detail. Belle may be a call girl in profession but her normal life is just like you and me and loves to hang out with her friends, who all happens to be boys, and her ex-lovers. Hmm.. interesting. I love her writing, it is just like a diary or a blog entry. Guilty pleasure material? Yes! Is the tv series like the book? Not really, but entertaining nontheless.
Although the book may sound a bit like erotica on some diary dates, and plain slutty on the other, it provides an entertaining factor nontheless, and Belle shares everything which we do not dare talk about at times. I can't wait to read her other books! Now, if only I could find books 3-4 in the bookstore and go back to get it when there's a sale! =p

Published: 2006
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Available from: Amazon. Pretty much everywhere if you're in the UK. Fully Booked if you're in the Philippines.
Read it if: You want an insight on what a life of a call girl is!
Book was: Bought from Fully Booked.

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