Sunday, September 11, 2011

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
Review in few words:
A brilliant (genius!) book. I think what placed this book above a number of others (in my eyes, at least) are not only the poignant essays at the beginning of each book/chapter, but also the keenness and delicacy in the narration that Henry Fielding uses to take me, the reader, into the topsy-turvy life of the most unfortunate (?) Tom Jones.

Other details I enjoyed/noticed about the book:
- Tom Jones is a simple, handsome, seemingly perfect young fellow with one glaring defect: a vague history (in particular- low birth). It saddens me to see how the people around him look at him with such alarm and disgust- all because of something that he himself couldn't have helped! Bravo to Mr. Fielding for showing the reactions of a range of different personalities having known Jones' history.
- Sophia Western is too perfect, I think. (She somehow reminded me of Arabella of The Female Quixote: or The Adventures of Arabella.) I suppose it can't be helped on Fielding's part- I've read somewhere that he adored his wife so, and somehow patterned Sophia after her.
- I enjoyed getting know the king of the gypsies :)
- The people here are very real to me, and the narration was very, very good. I agree with Fielding when he hinted in an essay that he had not written a funny line before laughing about it himself, nor had he not written a sad line before feeling ill at ease himself. I enjoyed the story very much - mostly due to the excellent narration.
- The essays were superb. At first, I was put off by them, and went along reading since, well, why not? After the first few, however, I started to enjoy Fielding's little dialogues, and looked forward to them with gusto. (I liked that he even placed a nice little good-bye to the reader.)
- I also liked the fact that most (if not all) the characters were seen off in the end, given respectable (and some surprising) endings, so you needn't wonder much about how they were after the story.

{Other notes: I didn't realize this book was so long (I'm reading it via audiobook) until I discovered it has around 1k+ pages o_o}

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Female Quixote: Or the Adventures of Arabella by Charlotte Lennox

The Female Quixote: Or the Adventures of Arabella
Hah, what a lovely little book this is. What a lovely, deliciously ridiculous book this is. Seriously, it's a romp.

From the title itself, you can discern that it involves some kind of delusional mis-adventurer. Quite right, as the story revolves around the life-story of the Lady Arabella, who is as beautiful as she is intelligent, graceful and kind-hearted. It is a pity that, with all her admirable traits, she is possessed with a mind too swayed by the romances stocked in her library.

In this book, you will see the beautiful lady think that each man she meets has an intention to carry her away, while each woman she beholds has a sob story about a passionate lover or two. She is almost too silly in thinking that the world is still full of the antiquated notions of unregulated passions and murderous violence, but still she is much charming in her pleasant speeches and very elegant grace.

It was somewhat pleasant to hear of her tales, but it was rather sad to see how such an accomplished lady could have such notions of love. I felt quite sorry for her zealous lover for keeping his stead. I laughed with much zest at the story of a man who, wanting to woo the lady by his mastery of the romantic stories of then, saw that his plans backfired on him. I was rather glad at seeing that there were some understanding personalities who tried to help Arabella see reason. (The Countess is just so lovely!)

My only complaint: The climax was very near the end, and the ending seemed rather rushed :/ While I was happy about how it ended, I felt that it would have been nice to see all the rich niceties there.

Delightful, humorous, and with such engaging story-telling. A very happy read for me :D

[Notes: Randomly picked... Arabella's just so oblivious and unconscious, it's simply delicious reading of her "adventures". SRSLY.]

The Female Quixote: Or the Adventures of Arabella by Charlotte Lennox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis
(I have read, in particular, an edition that was translated by Ian Johnston.)

Let me start off by saying this: I have a deep aversion to insects, so I was rather squeamish while reading more than one passage here. Eeeeek.

I applaud the book for having been able to agitate me into learning more about it. I am also impressed on how simply narrated the circumstances were discussed-- from Gregor managing to adapt to his new life (from trying to get out of bed to hiding under the "coverlet") to Grete changing her stance from love to something probably akin to hate towards her brother. I was appalled by how human the family reacted to Gregor's new identity-- from fright to love to indifference to, finally, annoyance. I just find it so richly entertaining and vaguely disturbing how the family could be so complacent about letting Gregor do all the work, then complain when they have to then work and take care of Gregor in turn. (highlight for spoilers)

(Warning: I may ramble from here on out. Beware.)

This book perplexed me. Not just in the fact that I have no idea on how the premise of the change of Gregor Samsa happened, but also in how the story progressed, from one chapter on to another. The ending certainly didn't help explain anything in the end.

The storytelling is, admittedly, great. I am held in suspense (and aversion) as I watch the interesting happenings in this story unfold. I am constantly wanting to question the author headlong about what so and so of such and such part of the book means, but I am always held back, lying in wait as Gregor himself does, patiently watching to see if my questions will at all be answered. I dare say that little, if any, have been answered to my satisfaction at all, by the time I got to the last few words.

One of the questions I'd so want to be answered is related to this: If 'metamorphosis' means a "process of change", then where oh where is the change that is being talked about here? I see Gregor's change, all right (I, in fact, cannot un-see that), but is that really the metamorphosis being talked about here? I personally believe it has something to do with the family... Maybe of Grete herself! Oh, how I would love to read more about this, if only to satisfy my curiosity about this book!

An interesting read, but I'm incredibly agitated by how unsatisfied I am by what I've read. Curious... Very curious.

(To satisfy my curiosity as much as I can, I took a look at Vladimir Nabokov's lecture on Kafka's The Metamorphosis here:,209,0,0,1,0 I am somewhat happy I read it :D)

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Madame Butterfly by John Luther Long

Madame Butterfly
The story is quite simple, and I dare say quite realistic. After all, we have all probably heard of the story of a charming provincial girl (in this case, a Japanese seventeen-year-old dancer) who was lead to believe that she was the ultimate love of a sailor (in this case, and in probably most cases I've heard of, an American), who left his pretty princess in hopes of his return. While her behavior and personal changes were amusing at first to behold, I cannot but help notice the delusional waiting, the gradual change of customs and traditions, and the forgotten family which haunted Madame Butterfly as she waited for the robins to nest.

The little nuances of (age-old?) Japanese culture are easily seen in the story, from the way Madame Butterfly addresses her beloved, to the front she puts on in front of a stranger who wants her to be his wife. Death, honor and ancestry are given particular detail in the last few chapters, and it's almost heart-breaking to see how Madame Butterfly tried (though eventually failed) to protect her sanctity by "a long, beautiful sleep".

I have a feeling that this story is more than just the drama of a young girl who fell in love too easily; I think I see a wide-scale frontier here, one that involves Americans, a war with China, and Japan as a springboard... But that may as well be the social scientist in me talking.

At any rate, 'tis a quick tale on love (and, possibly, betrayal), with interesting insights on Japanese culture.

[At the end of this book, I ardently wish I could see Puccini's play of Madame Butterfly :D]

Madame Butterfly by John Luther Long
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Don't Know Much About Literature: What You Need to Know but Never Learned About Great Books and Authors by Kenneth C. Davis

Don't Know Much About Literature: What You Need to Know but Never Learned About Great Books and Authors
Note: This book is part of the Don't Know Much About series (which I only found out about when I looked this up on Goodreads, lol).

What I thought would be a definitive and extremely wordy guide to well-known books and authors actually just turned out to be a bunch of trivia about well-known books and authors. So, basically, it 1) disappointed me when I saw the contents, but it also 2) astounded me on how simply placed and interesting the facts were mentioned in this book. It gives little background on a certain book/author/topic (say, for instance "Agatha Christie" or "Moby-Dick" or "Pen Names"), then enumerates a few questions about the category in question. The answers to the questions may then be seen on the back of the page.

I suppose the book was made to anticipate and answer the first questions anyone new to the world of literature may have, and I can say it does so efficiently enough. I wouldn't call this a perfect reference guide though; I'd just say that it's a decent trivia book... And, I guess, who doesn't like trivia?

Don't Know Much About Literature: What You Need to Know but Never Learned About Great Books and Authors by Kenneth C. Davis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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The Man Book by Otto DeFay

The Man Book
I've flipped through some pages, and already know that I'm going to be laughing out loud (while learning a lot on HOW TO BE A MAN) on about every page. It has dictionary terms ("A Thousand Names For Your Penis (Not Counting Your Penis)", etc.), interesting lists ("Great Professional Wrestlers And Their Signature Moves", etc.), jokes ("The Alligator Joke, Part 1" (and 2! I LOL'ed at them, haha!), etc.), tips which are honestly helpful & useful ("Words of Wisdom: Resumes", etc.), and some other random bits and pieces ("The Finest Insults Ever Made", "Terms for Sexual Intercourse", "Manned Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Missions", etc.).

The most (if not all) thoughts here are meant to inform (wine terms, weather, how to hot-wire a car, poker hands, major crimes, how to tie a tie, ivy league schools, etc.), though admittedly an idea not meant to be taken seriously (well, that's what I think anyway) is found here and there. I dare say that more often than not, the machismo oozing in this book was not exactly meant to degrade women, but merely to celebrate and definitely educate the reader (preferably a man) the well-known ideas of "being a man". It's up to the reader on how to react, but I definitely enjoyed this-- both for its being a very informative read, as well as its humor.

Pro-tip: Read the introduction. SRSLY. I mean, it says there plainly: "Women's books have names like Our Bodies, Ourselves... Men don't have books- they have magazines. Most of these magazines you can't read in public after the age of thirty... So it's time for a book. This book. This book is for men." So revel in the fact that there's a book like this (probably among others, but this is THE MAN BOOK, and how could you go wrong with a book with such a telling title?), and read on.

[To clarify: I'm not a man. I just bought this book out of interest, plus it was on sale. Sweet deal, I'll say.]

The Man Book by Otto DeFay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Making Your Money Work; Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo! 2 by Francisco J. Colayco

Making Your Money Work; Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo! 2
This book is a simple and easy-to-understand guide on how you can make your money, no matter how little you think it is, grow. This book tackles topics such as mutual funds, the stock market, entrepreneurship, bonds, and almost anything you can invest your money into. These concepts may sound daunting to the layman who knows nothing about investments, but Colayco was able to make them engaging, bite-size and almost too easy to act upon (which they probably are, if you're up for the task).

I believe this book was really written with the Filipino wage-earner in mind. It has anecdotes, showing the different scenarios that unwise vs knowledgeable small-time Filipino investors have gone through. It has graphs and pictures. It sometimes has repetitive phrases, but they only seemed to emphasize rather than annoy.

I was most interested in its discussion about ages- about how I should be risking & investing more while I'm young, while placing my money into safer financial instruments as I get older (all the while reaping the benefits of my prolonged savings/investments during my younger years).

A very good read that got me motivated to take a second look at my expenditures xD a must-read not just for wannabe businessmen and stock brokers, but also to anyone who'd want to get extra cash on the side, but not wanting to take another job, nor work too hard for it. ;)

[This is the first DIY investing book I've ever read. This was actually required reading for a course of mine in college. I'm more than glad to have gotten a copy of this for my own perusal, and I'm infinitely thankful to the professor who asked us to buy a copy of this :)]

Making Your Money Work; Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo! 2 by Francisco J. Colayco
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Filipino Heroes League: Sticks and Stones by Paolo Fabregas

The Filipino Heroes League: Sticks and Stones (The Filipino Heroes League, #1)
"The Filipino Heroes League". Just try chewing on that concept for a sec. Just think about a gang of supers running amidst not some skyscrapered American city, but among the road of EDSA, the community of Payatas, the incredibly politicized government of the Philippines. Yeah, I just realized how that looked like in my eyes.

Ok, I honestly can't say that I'm knowledgeable in the field of comics, but man, was I taken aback by this band of heroes. Okay, you may have heard of the detective Trese of Murder On Balete Drive, maybe even Zsazsa Zaturnnah of Ang Kagilagilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah, or perhaps Andong Agimat of Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat, and these personalities may have (if you're familiar with their stories) already given you beforehand of an idea of just how hard it sometimes gets when you wanna protect not just your family and friends, but the entire Filipino nation.

While I wasn't surprised to hear of politics weaving its way into these heroes lives, I suppose I wasn't prepared to see traces of recent history written in them too. The heroes themselves were very real and very human, while possessing their superpowers. [I wish I could make commentary on about how this volume is very much like or not at all like American comics, but sadly, as previously mentioned, I'm not very informed on the subject.] Their characters and habits are quite Filipino-like, really... Not to mention the setting and overall environment. Would you believe in the concept "Overseas Filipino Heroes"? (highlight for spoilers)

The art was pretty well-executed. The dialogues are quite readable and understandable, and I have not seen a typo here or there, heh. (Yes, it's in English.) There's a lot of action, surprising revelations, the sexy girl and the dashing dude. There's even talk about costumes, of financial difficulties, of the unknown boss. There are definitely villains-- even supervillains! The thread that maintains what is good and evil is somewhat thin, and it's almost difficult to know who you should believe in. The storyline is interesting in itself, and I'm definitely looking forward to Book 2.

[Holy. I like reading comics made by Filipinos (Gerry Alanguilan, Arnold Arre, Budjette Tan, etc), and by God am I surprised to find this last book among a seemingly untouched Filipiniana shelf in some school supplies store. Suh-weet, I tell you ;) I was also rather surprised to find out that this volume was copyrighted in 2009. Two years ago! Interesting. Budjette Tan's foreword was dated Dec. 2010, though... Budjette Tan! Woo! Just... you know, mind blown n.nb]

The Filipino Heroes League: Sticks and Stones by Paolo Fabregas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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The Mythology Class: A Graphic Novel by Arnold Arre

The Mythology Class: A Graphic Novel
As usual, Arnold Arre does not disappoint.

I will always, always remember with a smile the quirky name of this book, "Mythology Class", mostly because it's true. Even though there are interestingly awe-inspiring, incredibly dramatic, definitely heart-pounding events in this book, at the heart of it all we find a band of "students" who learn more about the mythological world of the Philippines.

Read this book, if only to reorient yourself in the Filipino tales of old. Read this book, if only to behold the awesomeness of Filipino lore and ancient history. Read this book, if only to be carried by a love that... that... Oh, it just brings tears in my eyes to remember that love.

The art is great, as usual. The book is a very informative guide to Filipino legendary mythological creatures. The story is really quite gripping, with its action, humor, drama and suspense. (I think I did quite shed a tear in the end.) There's an array of characters, from the smart and simple to the extremely haughty. The storytelling- simply superb.

This book is just truly a gem, and an overall wonderful read.

[I gave my copy to a friend, so this review is made from memory. It's one of the best books I've ever read, so I'd like to think that I've reviewed this right :)]

The Mythology Class: A Graphic Novel by Arnold Arre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Garden of Lies by Eileen Goudge

Garden of Lies
[Confession: I immediately branded this book as "chick lit" upon seeing just the cover, so I was pretty biased throughout reading this (a pretty sad assumption, I know, I know). I can't help it if the reviews on the book mentioned "great sex scenes" & "beautiful women"! SRSLY, those phrases just scream "ultimate chick lit"... Another term I'm using freely and discriminatorily (if there is such a term). I'll try to be more careful... But what the heck. (highlight for spoilers/rant)]

This is a story about a woman, who had the unfortunate (?) chance to change the lives of two baby girls forever. It discusses the pains and triumphs of these three women, as well as pointing out the men that they have loved and lost throughout the years. As mentioned in the title, the book dwells heavily on the premise of lies deeply interwoven in the relationships of these ladies. (Hint hint: no lesbianism involved, lol.)

I liked how Goudge used discussions on the political heads & issues of that time, giving the story a time frame, as well as an overall atmosphere. Part of the story takes place in Vietnam, and it was kind of sad, yet uplifting, to read the passages pertaining to that time of history. (highlight for spoilers/rant)

The story itself is not unique, but the way it's been told is pretty overwhelming, and you never know what would be around the next bend. While some of the events may have been foreshadowed in the text itself, it was not entirely predictable. I myself tried not to hold on to just one ending, as there seemed to be a multitude of them possible while going through the book.

One thing that annoyed me most was the huge gaps between the dates. It seems as if the story moved so fast; we see the characters moving from child to young adult to adult to the "golden age" pretty swiftly. Still, the story itself seemed not wanting of detail, so I simply took this fact with a grain of salt.

The sex was not as "steamy" as I thought it would be, in all honesty. It was more soulful and emotional instead of physical and intimate, the previous being something honestly not my style :P If you plan to read this for the sake of the sex scenes, I dare say it won't satisfy your palette quite well. Still, it's a pretty simple and a more-on-the-emotional-side story, with your typical "Prince Charmings" (who are almost always handsome and more or less older & fatherly) present to give the ladies their needs and wants. A decent beach read, but just that, I suppose.

Garden of Lies
 by Eileen Goudge
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

The First Escape by G.P. Taylor

The First Escape (The Doppleganger Chronicles, #1)
It looks artsy and all, but sometimes the artfulness somehow put me off. Truly, I adored the fact that there were comics (would you believe that?) in between the pages, but the rest seemed unnecessary sometimes. Still, I liked how I can imagine the characters and scenes easily enough, thanks to the illustrations, and it was pretty cool how the extra drawings and shadings helped in the overall development and atmosphere of the book, so the artsy stuff isn't so bad.

Speaking about development: this book is really quite action-packed. All the pages of this book were dedicated in telling us the fascinating adventures of Erik and the Dopple twins. Interestingly enough, the book narrates what happened in the span of just a few hours! It was honestly breath-taking and pretty exciting.

I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment of this series, and so does my youngest sister, who is currently in elementary. While the setting is dark and the words sometimes too much for my kid sis's vocabulary, she enjoyed it as a whole and summarizes the experience of reading this as "AWESOME". (She doesn't read much, but she does adore the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.)

Totally cool.

The First Escape by G.P. Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Farah by Edilberto K. Tiempo

This is a book about a Filipino Muslim girl named Farah who had been blessed with the opportunity for a better life (to put it lightly). It also gives some detail into the Tausug culture, particularly some discussion on martabbat, a kind of vendetta curiously unique to this kind of Filipino society.

I particularly liked how the author was able to give ample descriptions about Farah- her likes and dislikes, her love and duty of and to her family, her own perspectives and thoughts about her life. The people around her weren't passive characters either; they all have their own unique personalities and reactions towards Farah and her lifestyle. I love how the book ends, although it seems as if all the drama-charged action of the last few pages was too rushed.

This book, however, is a bit verbose. While the story itself is interesting, there are times wherein it deviates from the main storyline and goes into other topics, such as grand descriptions of well-known art forms (be it performance, sculpture, architecture, literature or painting), or some history of a couple of European sites. Fascinating as these pieces of information may be, they tend to stray almost a whole lot from Farah's story.

All in all, a good read, although the what I'd call "irrelevant discussion" (that lends almost very little towards the story) almost put me off from finishing this. The bits of discussion here on art and literature are definitely worth a re-read, though.

Farah by Edilberto K. Tiempo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Wasted by Gerry Alanguilan

I read this book through the online edition, available here:
(Interestingly, Alanguilan comments on the pages every so often on this online book.)

WARNING: This is a very bloody (read: violent) book. (It's in black and white though, if that helps.)

Simple story: girl and guy fall in love, girl breaks up with guy, guy contemplates on break-up & ends up pretty crazy-desperate.

The scenes are pretty fast and almost too simplistic. The emotion seems to bleed through the pages. I'd say the story's cliche, but there's something about the way it's been told that makes it almost unbelievably original. The art is pretty great too.

A heart-clenchingly fast, sad, beautiful read.

Wasted by Gerry Alanguilan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog by Edgar Calabia Samar

Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog
Isa itong kwento tungkol sa isang kwentistang nag-kukwento ng kanyang kwento.

Iba't ibang paksa ang madadaanan ni Daniel (ang bida... o siya nga ba?) habang siya'y nag-tatalambuhay: pagbabasa, panunulat, pag-ibig, pagkakaibigan, pulitika, relasyon, pamilya, pag-iisa, pilosopiya at pag-hahanap. (Sa totoo lang, marami talagang paksa siyang mapag-usapan.) May mga elemento rin ng mga alamat at mito (gaya ng diwata, dwende at tiyanak).

Medyo mahirap basahin ang librong ito. 'Di na bale ang talinhaga, pero...
- Una, pabalik-balik si Daniel sa kanyang mga kwento; maaalala niya ang kanyang nakaraan sa gitna ng pag-tatala ng kanyang kasalukuyan.
- Ikalawa, maraming pilosopiya ang nakaukit sa mga pahina nito. Mahihirapan ang isang mambabasa sa librong ito kung hindi siya mahilig sa pag-iisip ng *sobrang* malalim.
- Ikatlo, nag-iiba ang kapanahunan ng mga pandiwa paminsan-minsan. (Translation: verb tenses change every so often.) May pagkaimportante ito, kaya mabuti na siguro itabi muna ang pagiging Grammar Nazi kung may plano mang basahin ang librong ito.
- Ikaapat, dapat bukas ang kaiisipan para sa iba't ibang ideya na ipepresenta ng librong ito. Baka mainip o mayamot ka lamang kung hindi mo gagawin ito.

Kung hindi naman problema ang mga isinaad ko, sige lang. Nag-kukwento na si Daniel. Hayaan mong mamangha ka sa kanyang mga salita.

Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog by Edgar Calabia Samar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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