Sunday, February 20, 2011

Another new book!

Yes, that's right. That is Extras by Scott Westerfeld, and I didn't buy it from National Bookstore or Powerbooks. I found it on Booksale... for 50 pesos. (These people don't know how much they're losing!) Last time I checked, Extras cost 289 pesos in NBS, and that's in paperback. My latest buy is a hard-bound, in good condition copy of Extras. Although it's the last book in the quartet, I never hesitated to buy it because it's not everyday that I see a [relatively new] book as cheap.

This book is really a treasure. I've always wanted to purchase the series, but the price is really scary. However, finding this one raised my hopes up.

I hope I'm lucky as this every week!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Two new books

I just bought a copy of Miguel Syjuco's Ilustrado, a 2008 Man Asian Literary Award and a Palanca Award. Back then, it was still unpublished so it's probably a really, really good novel. Plus, it's written by a Filipino and it's about Philippine history - stuff which I dig right now. It costs 288 pesos at National Bookstore. Quite a sale, if you ask me. I found it on the "Literary Winners" shelf. As soon as I came home, I covered it with plastic to take care of it. :) 

I also saw copies of Ang mga kaibigan ni Mama Susan by Bob Ong, Between a rock and a hard place by Aron Ralston, and Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Suzanne Collins' best-selling The Hunger Games trilogy is there - my dream buy. The next book I'll purchase from National is U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton. :) 

Christmas with Anne and other Holiday Stories is a lucky find. I left Booksale to meet up with my sisters outside, but since my aunt wasn't there yet, I decided to go back in. I went to the back of the store where the hard-bounds were. I don't usually go there because they're more expensive than paperbacks. While scanning the shelves, I saw it. It was right there, sitting. It's kind of battered, but it has seen a lot of years (printed in 1996). It's a rare find; I don't usually see these kinds of Montgomery novels around, except for the Anne series. It costs 40 pesos.
I also found a copy of Dr. Faustus, but since it's a play, I didn't buy it. Plays aren't my thing. :P

Of course, there were about five books by Michael Crichton, but they were all expensive. I found two copies of E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton; I already have those.

It's awesome how many books I've found in that store. It's the best shop in the world. :D

Friday, February 18, 2011

Book Review - I is for Innocent by Sue Grafton

Rating: 9/10

PI Kinsey Millhone finds new office space with her attorney, Lonnie Kingman, after being fired by California Fidelity. Lonnie has a case he needs help with: Isabelle, a house designer, was shot through a spy hole on her front door six years ago. Her husband, David Barney, was accused, tried, but found innocent because the prosecution couldn't make it stick. Now Isabelle's former husband, Kenneth Voigt, wants to try once more, and Kinsey is hired to look for evidence. However, every discovery she makes seems to prove that David Barney is innocent. If he didn't kill her, then who did?

I is for Innocent is one of the best Alphabet Mysteries novel I've read. There is a lot going on, and the reader is as clueless as Kinsey (at some part, at least) is on the investigation. The ending is surprising and, yet, predictable. It's everything you're looking for in a mystery novel.

Book Review - Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Rating: 10/10

Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea are set in the Avonlea where the likeable Anne Shirley grew up. These two books consist of stories about the people living in that place. Humorous, refreshing, and lively - the way every L.M. Montgomery novel is - Chronicles and Further Chronicles makes a reader see the good in life, love, and everything under the sun. They will make anyone fall in love all over again.

If you're looking for a pick-me-upper kind of book, then check these two out.

Book Review - Looking back trilogy by Ambeth Ocampo

Rating: 9/10

Ambeth Ocampo's Looking Back trilogy (Looking Back, Dirty Dancing, and Death by Garrote) are essays he wrote for the Philippine Daily Inquirer about historical Filipinos and events (as others say, tsismis). There are, for example, writings about the love story of Andres Bonifacio and Gregoria de Jesus, Pres. Manuel Quezon's temper, and Graciano Lopez Jaena's drinking problem. It's certainly a break from the monotonous books we were made to read in high school - those which glorified the events but made them as distant as Jupiter to us. In this trilogy, Ocampo makes use of data which cannot be gleaned from these books. He delves deep into the lives of heroes and presidents and presents them as people that are vulnerable, in short, just like you and me.

It's a fun read, I'm sure everyone will enjoy it. :)

Book Review - Process of Elimination by Carolyn Keene

Rating: 9/10

Nancy Drew, with her friend Bess Marvin, were going to have lunch with one of the speakers from the environmental conference in California they just attended. However, Carl Dubchek was not able to come - he was killed, gunned down while he was walking down the street. What;s more, they find out that Dubchek was a CIA agent! In San Diego, Frank and Joe Hardy try to stop a burglary of bamboo from the San Diego Zoo. They investigate the reason behind the puzzling theft, and discover that it is connected to the CIA. The three detectives find themselves entangled in the same web of murder and deceit, with a controversy that could destroy nations.

Process of Elimination is my first book where Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys team up. It's a change from the usual Nancy Drew (where she solves a crime, falls in love with a guy, and still ends up in Ned's arms) and Hardy Boys books. I actually admire the way it was written: entertaining and suspense-filled.

Book Review - Rizal without the overcoat by Ambeth Ocampo

Rating: 10/10

Ambeth Ocampo's essays about Jose Rizal are compiled in this award-winning volume. At times humorous and thoughtful, Rizal without the overcoat gives the reader a glimpse into the rich life of our national hero. His life and loves are all in here, written in a style that is educational and entertaining at the same time. Ocampo doesn't fail to deliver. :)

Movie Review - 127 Hours

Rating: 9/10

Aron Ralston was a mountaineer and outdoorsman. He was very much experienced. However, he did not see the rock falling and pinning his right hand and wrist against the canyon wall while on a hike in Utah. 127 Hours is a movie adaptation of his best-selling book Between a Rock and a Hard Place that describes the hell he went through for five days.

The movie is told in a mostly restricted narration - which means we hardly have the chance to get into the mind of Aron (played by James Franco) while he is trapped in the canyon. This restriction makes his actions more surprising; we don't know what will happen next. That exactly, is the point of the film: Aron didn't know what was going to happen him but he saw it through, he survived and lived to tell the experience.

My sister was complaining about the quality of the video, but I think the not-so-HD quality was done to impress the timeframe when it happened (year 2003, to be exact).

Anyway, I think James Franco did a great job. The musical score was great, courtesy of A.R. Rahman. The direction is, of course, brilliant. You can't expect anything less from Danny Boyle (of Slumdog Millionaire fame).

Movie Review - Black Swan

Rating: 10/10

Black Swan
is the story of a young ballerina named Nina (Natalie Portman) who was cast as the Swan Queen in the company's version of Swan Lake. However, the presence of a prodigy (Mila Kunis) threatens Nina, knowing that the newcomer could very well take the role from her.

I admire everything about this movie. Darren Aronofsky is a genius. The score, setting, and even the shots are great. Add Natalie Portman's stellar and convincing performance and you've got a brilliant mix. Black Swan definitely deserves an Academy Award.

Movie Review - Tangled

Rating: 10/10

Tangled is the 50th animated movie by Disney. It's a re-telling of the story of Rapunzel, a girl with long hair who was trapped in a tower.

There are actually two protagonists: Rapunzel, the girl with the magic hair, and Flynn Rider, a thief. In an effort to run away from the soldiers, Flynn climbs the tower, not knowing that there was someone in it. Rapunzel, who had never seen a man before, hits him with a frying pan and hides him in her closet. When the fugitive wakes up, she strikes a deal with him: she'll give him back the crown he stole, but he must fulfill her dream - to go to see the "lights" on her birthday. He agrees, and their adventure begins.

I wouldn't normally go see an animated fairy tale movie, but I did with this one. It wasn't a waste of money, either. I enjoyed every minute of the movie. Criticisms aside, it's a great movie. I appreciate everything about it. Nice, nice, nice. :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Second time in court

Today, we went back to the Quezon City Hall of Justice for a second round of our court reporting. This time we went to a hearing for the Maguindanao massacre (November 23, 2009 - 57 people were killed).

Before we were able to enter the court room, we had to pass a couple of security personnel. We were given square stickers so we can watch the trial. Cellphones weren't allowed inside so we had to deposit them outside the room, which means no recorder - take down notes!

Before the judge entered the room, pictures of the bodies were being passed around by lawyers. We got a couple of glimpses of the shots. They were grim and dark.

Dr. Felino Brunia, a coroner, was on the witness stand. He explained his findings after he performed autopsy on some of the bodies. The morning session involved direct examination - the prosecution lawyer asked the witness questions regarding the evidence. It was a continuation of yesterday's proceedings. I found it rather... exciting.

(Well, you can say that I'm morbid, because I admit that I am. I enjoy watching CSI, especially when Dr. Al Robbins, the coroner, is present. The description of wounds... uhh... excites me.)

The afternoon session was the cross-examination. It was rather like a tennis match, especially when the prosecution objects to the questions of the defense lawyer.

It was way better than our first court adventure, which was all arraignment - a very boring proceeding. I was able to write down a lot. It's a shame we weren't able to lay our hands on a transcript.

I found covering this trial exciting. My classmates were feeling drowsy, but I think I was very much awake. I enjoyed the cross-examination very much. I feel horrible for the witness, though. I don't want to sit on that chair, ever.

Anyway, I finished writing my first draft and I'll be editing it tomorrow night, maybe.

(Maybe I shouldn't really feel anything exciting about it, because for the families who lost their loved ones, it isn't.)

That's all for now. :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011


As of 7:58 p.m. the number of books I own is 182.

I just bought Process of Elimination by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys investigate together) and When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne. The former costs 15 pesos (joy!) while the latter costs 40 pesos and was shown to me by my youngest sister (I lend her my Pooh books and tell her to read them but, so far, she hasn't. She's nine years old.).

There was also a graphic novel of Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I'm thinking of buying it tomorrow.

I still haven't found K is for Killer. I'm planning to buy U is for Undertow from the book store (might cost 350 pesos) because I can't help it. After reading T is for Trespass, I'm so excited!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I've got a confession to make.

I am turning into a history buff.

Ever since my uncle first introduced me to Ambeth Ocampo's Looking Back, Dirty Dancing, and Death by Garrote, I have been hooked into his books. Right now I'm reading Rizal without the overcoat. I learned a lot of things about our national hero that makes him more 'human'. After that, I want to borrow Luna's moustache.

The thing is, history in Ocampo's essays came alive for me, unlike the boring discussions we used to get in classrooms. Graciano Lopez-Jaena was rendered real with that funny little anecdote about his dirty coat and how his peers would force him to write with a round of drinks. Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon was no longer just the face on a twenty peso bill. I found Andres Bonifacio and Gregoria de Jesus' story very romantic and dramatic, stuff for a primetime telenovela. Actually, the lives of all our heroes could be made into telenovelas, if producers only paid more attention to our history and culture rather than thinking that the people still like mushy love stories with a lot of violence.

It was also quite interesting that even though Jose Rizal is our national hero there is still so much that we don't know about the man. There are dozens of documents pertaining to him and yet students only know two facts: he wrote the Noli and El Fili and was shot on Bagumbayan (now Luneta). There are so many things we miss out on because we're too lazy to read and dig up all these interesting tidbits about our heroes that make them human. For instance, I discovered that Rizal is so thrifty that he would often leave the boarding house to stroll outside. He would look into the windows of restaurants and watch people eat. Then he would go back to the house with a straight face, leaving his landlady thinking that he had enjoyed a good meal. It is also interesting that Filipinos abroad before and today's Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) have something in common: they both longed for Filipino food. Our heroes had stocks of bagoong and in one essay, it was said that Rizal's specialty was pancit. Fancy Rizal, del Pilar, the Lunas, and their friends eating pancit in Madrid!

The point is, we would appreciate our history more if we only took the time to do more research. I'm dying to go to museums and risk the allergic reactions to see for myself what stuff our heroes left us. Given the chance, I'd love to go around Fort Santiago and see it with clearer eyes.