Trese 4: Last Seen After Midnight

Trese 4: Last Seen After MidnightTrese # 4: Last Seen After Midnight by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo
Publisher: Visprint
Number of pages: 108
My copy: signed paperback, bought from Bestsellers

Foul play. Magic spells. Supernatural criminals. When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese.

This graphic novel contains the following cases:

CADENA DE AMOR
In a neglected area of Luneta Park, where the grass grows untended, a man is found strangled by vines; which have started to grow outwards, killing anyone that gets in its path.

A PRIVATE COLLECTION
A manananggal has been found, tortured and murdered. The Manananggal Clan declares war on the Aswang Clan. Trese must find the real murderer before more blood is shed, before Manila gets in the crossfire of a supernatural gang war.

WANTED: BEDSPACER
A strange illness has affected the students living along Katipunan Avenue. The doctors are clueless on what’s driving these people mad with despair. Can Trese trace the source of this growing paranormal epidemic?

FIGHT OF THE YEAR
Once a year, in General Santos City, the demons and creatures of the underworld converge to watch a most awaited event, where the country’s greatest boxer fights for his very soul.

* * *

When I finished reading Trese a few months back, I was very excited to read the next book. Truth be told, I thought the fourth book was already out last year, so I added it in my Christmas wish list. Oops, my bad!

So I wasn’t exactly sure when the next installment would be out, but I wasn’t really in a big hurry because there were still too many books on my TBR. However, I admit to letting out a squeal of delight when I heard of the launch of the fourth book. Of course I will be there. Of course I need to get it. And of course, I need to get them signed. :)

With fellow book bloggers at the launch — thanks to Aimee of yellowlibrary.com for the photo :)

Trese 4: Last Seen After Midnight follows the same format of the first three books: 4 short stories each showing a case. But unlike Book 3, Mass Murders (my favorite), the cases were not connected. This is not a bad thing, and I wasn’t really expecting them to really continue on what was shown in the third book, although I know some people who would like that.

But then again, who cares? The fourth Trese installment is just as good as its predecessors, and possibly even better. The cases still deal with paranormal creatures from Philippine mythology and more. This time, Budjette and KaJo made use of pop culture and melded it into the cases flawlessly. Cadena de Amor got me humming Eraserheads’ Ang Huling El Bimbo as it reminded me of a recent murder case that hit the TV and newspapers everywhere. The Fight of the Year is undoubtedly based on Manny Pacquiao, and I really loved the explanation they gave on why crime rate goes down and why the boxer, “Manuel” fights so hard. Oh, and how can I forget — Alexandra Trese in a dress!

A Private Collection was written as a Trese short movie that didn’t push through, so there were more action scenes involved in this case. This is probably the one where I saw Trese in her angriest, and the one I felt most nervous because I thought she was about to get beaten. I’m curious now to see how this would translate to a movie — must be really, really cool. :)

But my favorite (and I think everyone else loved this one too) was Wanted: Bedspacer. In this story, Budjette and KaJo gives us a different version of the bangungot. Common knowledge translates bangungot to nightmare, but Philippine mythology equates this to the batibat, a fat spirit that chokes their victims as they sleep by sitting on their chests. However, in this story, the bangungot is a spirit that joins sad people in their loneliness, trying to keep their hearts from breaking by holding it, sometimes too tight that the person dies. There were no hardcore action scenes here, just some sleuthing and a sad revelation when they find out what really happened. I thought this was the one with the best plot, a great resolution, a reference to something that Trese did in book 3 and possibly even hinted a past heartache for Trese. :) This is why when they asked if Trese should get a romantic interest, I’m all yes! Not because I’m a girl, but because I think it would give Trese’s character more depth. I’m not saying she has to have a boyfriend — unrequited love has always been good writing material. :P

Mass Murders is still my favorite Trese book so far, but Last Seen After Midnight truly delivers. If you haven’t read any Trese books yet, well this is the time you should, because you’re missing out on a lot. Is it too early to say “I can’t wait” for the next? :)

My autographed Trese 4 :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
taking a break
I am Pinoy Peter Pan
RonReads

Reviews of other Trese Books:


Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone # 1
Publisher: Hachette
Number of pages: 420
My copy: hardbound, bought from Fully Booked

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

* * *

It’s hard to turn your back on a book when people everywhere seem to be raving about it. I’ve been hearing lots of really good stuff about Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor from practically all the blogs I’ve been following, so I put the book on my radar with full intention of just borrowing and not buying. But the lure of books is stronger when more people rave about it, so when I saw a lone hardcover copy in Fully Booked, I knew I had to leave the store with it. And start it immediately as soon as I finished my last read.

Karou is an eccentric girl by normal people’s standards, but in a city like Prague, they don’t really mind. Her art student friends dismiss her blue hair, her random disappearances to run errands and her knowledge of many language to see her sketchbooks and stories of monsters that are supposedly real. No one knows who Karou really is, even herself. All she knows is that her only family are the chimaera who lives in Brimstone’s shop, who collect teeth in exchange for wishes. Karou cannot escape the emptiness she feels, until she meets Akiva, a stranger with fire-colored eyes, who almost just about killed her…until he didn’t. What follows is a gradual unveiling of Karou’s hidden past, one that that bears repercussions and choices that could result to her losing everything she has ever known.

I’ve read lots of praises for Laini Taylor’s writing, and I saw just what they meant in this book. What beautiful writing. I remember reading the first page of the book the day I bought it and not wanting to stop (but I had to, because if I don’t, I would never have finished Breathe). I lost count at how many times I wanted to dive into her prose and wish to write the way she does — lyrical and flowery but never veering towards purple. Very vivid, too, because I never had a hard time imagining the things she was describing. Passages like this broke a bit of my heart:

With the infinite patience of one who has learned to live broken, he awaited her return.

But there were also parts like these that made me chuckle:

“Hey! My body may be small, but my soul is large. It’s why I wear platforms. So I can reach the top of my soul.”

And:

“I don’t know many rules to live by,’ he’d said. ‘But here’s one. It’s simple. Don’t put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles–drug or tattoo–and…no inessential penises either.’

‘Inessential penises?’ Karou had repeated, delighted with the phrase in spite of her grief. ‘Is there any such thing as an essential one?’

‘When an essential one comes along, you’ll know,’ he’d replied.”

And there were some that just made me sigh:

Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort. It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star.

It was because of this writing that I forgave and even liked the paranormal romance aspect. I’m not a fan of anything insta-love, so I was kind of wary, but the writing! It’s just too beautiful for me to pass up. It’s not that the romance was the typical ones that have been ravaging the bookstore shelves lately — in fact, it actually has a very good story to it. It may be a bit dramatic for some, but it’s still a very good read, and it’s not the I-would-die-without-you-my-life-is-incomplete-without-you romance.

And again, the writing. I mean, more, read this:

…and for that moment, her hand in his, Karou felt as powerless as starlight tugged toward the sun in the huge, strange warp of space.

I can’t remember the last time I read the word “starlight” used as a figure of speech without making it sound cheesy. Can you?

One of the other things I really, really liked about this book was the setting. Days after I was back from my Europe trip, I was talking to one of my friends who was still there and she was up to ears with excitement about their trip to Prague. I have heard of Prague before, but just like Geneva, it wasn’t really up high in my bucket list. Their pictures, however, made me want to bump it up my bucket list — what a beautiful place it seemed to be! Reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone made me want to go there even more. The other places that Karou visited were also described vividly (I felt a little thrill when she started talking about the metro in Paris), but I think Prague was the perfect stage for the first part of the story (the second part was in an entirely another world, described just as vividly as the one in the real world). As it was described:

The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century—or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Mozart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet.

Match that description with these photos like these and who would not want to go to Prague?1

Yep. I’m making sure to go to Prague next time I get to go to Europe.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is a must-read book for this year, whether you like paranormal romance or not. :) I’d read every book Laini Taylor writes if only to soak in her gorgeous, gorgeous writing. Sigh.

Rating:

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
The Girl Who Read
The Book Smugglers
Book Harbinger
Janicu’s Book Blog
Ficsation

  1. Photos from my friend, Ate Sheh, taken last September :) []

In My Mailbox (20): Where did all these books come from?

This is me catching up on a couple of weeks of In My Mailbox posts again. It’s always more fun to post when you have more books to post about, right? :) Plus, I was out of town last weekend and I was just too exhausted to take photos and come up with an IMM post. Anyway, so many books in the past weeks — even I am surprised at my stash. Look:

Wee~

So, what did we get in the past few weeks?


I attended the launch of the fourth (and much-awaited!) Trese graphic novel at Robinsons Bestsellers two weeks ago. I’m not really a graphic novel person, but I loved Trese and I’ve been waiting for the fourth book ever since I finished all three a few months ago. :) The event was a success if you were to judge only with the number of people who attended (dress code was black, apparently :P). I do think it was an overall success because not only was it a full-house event, but also we got our books signed. :)

Continue Reading →

Breathe

Breathe by Cliff McNishBreathe by Cliff McNish
McArthur & Co, 232 pages

Jack is used to danger. His asthma has nearly killed him more than once. But his new home has a danger he’s never known before — the spirits of the dead.

The can’t breathe.

But in Jack’s house, they can chase, hide, scream.

Only Jack can see them. Only he can hear them. And only he can learn their secrets in time to save his mother — and himself…

I may be one of the biggest scaredy-cats in the world, or at least, among my group of friends. I know this doesn’t make sense when it comes to my love for all things zombie. I like all the shambling, brain-moaning creatures, but when it comes to ghosts and other supernatural stuff? I cower under my covers. When I was a kid I used to like scaring myself silly by watching those Halloween specials that all local TV shows air during those times and no fail, I always end up being too scared to sleep for at least a week after watching those shows. I finally got to the point where I told myself to stop — no more scary TV shows, no more scary anything, especially if I will lose sleep over it!

So to be totally honest, I was kind of apprehensive with my Required Reading challenge for October, given my state of being a chicken. :P But of course, what is a challenge if you don’t challenge yourself, right?

The thing that really got me to buy Breathe by Cliff McNish is the fact that the main character, Jack, has asthma. I’m an asthmatic, too, so reading about characters who have the same condition brings me comfort because I could relate to them1. Jack’s asthma attacks seem to be more dangerous than the ones I’ve been having lately, though, bad enough to almost kill him. It doesn’t help that his dad recently passed away. In an effort to stop him from stressing out or getting lonely, Jack and his mom moved out and into an old farmhouse, where they hope to find peace and quiet.

But instead of finding peace and quiet, they find something else. Little did they know that the farmhouse was haunted by four ghosts, all children, whose spirits can’t seem to leave the house Jack finds that he has the ability to sense who had lived in the house before, and to the ghost children’s surprise, he could actually see them. This makes Jack extremely curious to the point of triggering his asthma, but then he discovers that there is something more sinister living in the house, and only he has the power to save himself and his mother.

Like I said, I’m a big scaredy-cat, so I made it a point to read Breathe in broad daylight. The first few chapters of the book were creepy and the illustrations at the start of each chapter gave my imagination enough fuel to see practically the entire chapter. McNish’s writing is very vivid — it was easy to slip into the world he created and actually see the house and the characters. I admit to being spooked for the first few chapters (but then again, it may be just because I’m easily frightened), but I grew comfortable with it later on. Jack’s asthma attacks were also very accurate — and also really scary, in the actual physical sense because I know I could also experience something like that. The extreme measures he and his mom had to go through just to make sure his lungs would behave is something akin to what my mom used to do when I was younger. I’m really, really hoping my asthma won’t escalate to anything similar.

You know now that I think about it, it’s not really that scary. However, I think I can attribute that to the fact that the story is really quite linear. Somewhere early into the book, we already know who the real villain is, and a little bit of why. The other reasons and the story were gradually revealed, but by then it feels almost like a typical ghost story. While I’d really rather not read ghost stories, I still want for a twist that will leave my mouth hanging open in the end, at least to thrill the reader in me.

Breathe still manages to have a heart-warming moment somewhere in the end, which earns it more points for me. I liked how the Nightmare Realm (the place where spirits go when they don’t go to the “light”) is described, and how one of the ghost kids finds some kind of peace there. The actual ending was wrapped nicely and I think it would leave readers with pretty much a good sense of completeness that stand-alone novels can give. (Except if you decide to nitpick, like me. But I can’t offer another ending, so I should stop doing that :D)

Breathe by Cliff McNish may not fare so much with people who really love ghost stories (or who take delight in being scared), but for a casual reader (or for someone who doesn’t really like getting scared), it’s a pretty good novel. The first aid lessons for an asthma attack are a plus, too. This is my first Cliff McNish, but I think it won’t be my last. Now, are his other books scary, too?

Rating:

2011 Challenge Status:
Required Reading – October

My copy: paperback, bought from Bestsellers Galleria

Other reviews:
Goodreads

  1. If you want to know how it is to have an asthma attack, try breathing through a straw. Hard, right? :P []

Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride

Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker
Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker
Emma Rae Creation # 2
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Number of pages:  320 pages
My copy: ebook ARC from Netgalley

As a wedding planner, you’d thinkshe would have the perfect wedding experience…

Sherilyn Caine has left Chicago behind to marry Andrew Drummond IV, an Atlanta native with a family name that tops all the social registers. Landing the job as The Tanglewood’s wedding planner is a piece of cake for someone with a Type A personality; she’s the perfect fit for a wedding destination hotel known for its attention to even the tiniest details.

But when everything else is going along swimmingly, why are her own wedding plans drowning right before her eyes? One way or the other, Sherilyn is determined to make this wedding work—until the latest development threatens to call the whole thing off. Is it possible that Sherilyn is allergic to her fiance?

* * *

I read and enjoyed Sandra D. Bricker’s other book, Always the Baker, Never the Bride last year, and I honestly had no idea that this was a part of a series. So when I saw the galley for this book on Netgalley, I was pleasantly surprised. The first book wasn’t a favorite, but I liked it enough for me to get the sequel and read it in between pages of a ghost story I was also currently reading.

In Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride (which will be known as AWPNTB from now on — what a long title), we meet an old friend of the heroine from the first book, Sherilyn Caine. She’s a wedding planner and she fits right in the Tanglewood Hotel’s wedding planning staff. Sherilyn is also moving back home to get married with her fiance, Andrew Drummond IV, who she has met only a few months ago. Their engagement was short, sure, but they love each other — that should be enough right? But why is it that none of their wedding plans are pushing through?

AWPNTB is a fun read, especially since there are all those familiar characters that I liked last year. There was also the Southern charm that most Christian chick lit has, and it made me want to really see if Atlanta was as nice as it was written in these books. The book stays true to its wedding themes, too, and I liked the little wedding checklists written in between the chapters, as well as some of the recipes (like cookies) that Emma the baker plays with.

This had more marriage and wedding stuff compared to the first book, so to be totally honest, I wasn’t able to relate. Oh sure, I know a lot about weddings, given that my brother got married just last year and that he works as a wedding videographer, so I get regular doses of wedding magic. But being someone who has no plans of settling down anytime soon, I really couldn’t relate to the things that Sherilyn worried about. I felt bad for her, yes, but that was just it. I can’t really empathize — not yet, anyway.

Okay, maybe I feel that way because Sherilyn and Andy seemed to be products of “insta-love”, and I’m not really much of a fan of that. They knew each other for less than a year and then they’re getting married — how about that? But the good thing is, the issues about this quick engagement were tackled really well. The doubts, the quirks and the little issues that came up were addressed well, and even I was surprised with the last thing that ultimately gave Sherilyn and Andy reason to think about their relationship. I also liked how Sherilyn came into her final realization. It’s sweet and I guess, true. Not that I would know now, of course, but I’d like to believe that it is. :)

Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride is a nice installment to the Emma Rae Creation series, even if it I wasn’t able to relate to it that much. I dare say I will still pick up the next book, Always the Designer, Never the Bride. I wonder what crazy love-related and wedding antics the main characters will get into then?

Rating:

Other reviews:
Long and Short Reviews