My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel PitcherMy Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher
Audiobook, read by David Tennant

My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece.
Well, some of her does.
A collarbone, two ribs, a bit of skull, and a little toe.

To ten-year-old Jamie, his family has fallen apart because of the loss of someone he barely remembers: his sister Rose, who died five years ago in a terrorist bombing. To his father, life is impossible to make sense of when he lives in a world that could so cruelly take away a ten-year-old girl. To Rose’s surviving fifteen year old twin, Jas, everyday she lives in Rose’s ever present shadow, forever feeling the loss like a limb, but unable to be seen for herself alone.

Told with warmth and humor, this powerful novel is a sophisticated take on one family’s struggle to make sense of the loss that’s torn them apart… and their discovery of what it means to stay together.

* * *

I listened to this book months ago, but you know how I have that backlog in reviewing books? Yeah, this is one of them.

I was on the search for an audiobook to listen to after I realized I wanted to listen to more audiobooks because it helps me multitask. I know audiobooks are dependent on the narrator, too, so I didn’t want just any audiobook, but something that I would enjoy. And then Aaron told me about My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher, narrated by David Tennant. Oh, I am so in. :)

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is the story of ten-year-old Jamie as he tries to live in the aftermath of his older sister, Rose, dying in a terrorist attack. It has been five years since Rose died and Jamie could hardly remember her, but he could see the effect that this had on his family. This novel deals about loss, grief, hate, family and religion, all told in the eyes of a ten-year-old boy.

It was a pleasure listening to this book, not only because it was narrated by David Tennant, but because it was actually quite charming despite the serious topics it dealt with. The main character, Jamie, reminded me a bit of Auggie from Wonder, and I was immediately drawn to his story. Somehow, this gave the book a more honest point of view, and it gives us a different insight on grieving, especially for someone who you barely know but you should still grieve for.

I really liked Sunya, Jamie’s Muslim friend, too. I liked how smart and resilient and friendly she was, and how she changed Jamie’s perception of something that his father really hated and blamed for the loss of Rose. Jamie and Sunya’s friendship was cute and funny and heartwarming, and that little hint of a young romance was done quite well. But more than this friendship, I really liked Jamie’s relationship with his older sister, Jasmine. In a way, Jas lost more than anyone did, because Rose is her twin sister. Their sibling relationship made my heart hurt several times, and I liked how protective Jas was of Jamie even to the point of keeping something from him so he won’t get hurt.

This book made me laugh and tear up several times, and when it left me with a nice and hopeful feeling in the end. It’s not an easy novel to read, I think, but the author handled all the difficult issues very well. :) I liked My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece a lot, and I also need to say that I think I liked it more because David Tennant narrated it to me. <3

P.S. I can’t help but smile every time David Tennant says “Rose” in the audiobook. He turns into the the Doctor for a few seconds in my head before turning back into just the audiobook’s narrator again. :D

Rating:

Other reviews:
Young Adult Anonymous

Mythspace Lift Off

Mythspace Lift OffMythspace Lift Off by Paolo Chikiamco, illustrated by various artists
Mythspace # 0
Rocket Kapre

Kapre. Nuno. Manananggal.

They are monsters of the past, remnants of primitive fantasies.

UFOs. Aliens. Extraterrestrials.

They are hallucinations, creations of modern science fiction.

Or are they?

Evidence unearth is debunked…or disappears. Witnesses who speak are ridiculed…or silenced.

We are alone, say our leaders.

There are no Manananggal that consume our children. There are no Kapres who watch in the night.

There are no aliens that abduct our neighbors. There are no UFOs with dazzling lights.

We were never alone.

These are not your Lola’s monsters.

These are not your children’s aliens.

They are one and the same. They are here.

You know how I said that I probably would not drop by Komikon if the Trese 5 release wasn’t announced? I take it back — I realize that I would have probably gone there anyway, just to support Paolo‘s newest release, Mythspace. It’s not that I did not know about his newest project. I heard of it, but I was too busy in the past weeks before Komikon to check the Mythspace Monday posts he had up on his blog leading to the release. In a way that is a blessing in disguise, because now that I’ve read the sampler they released last Komikon, I’m catching up on the posts which I hope will tide me over until Mythspace fully launches.

What is Mythspace, anyway? Pao talks about it in detail in this post, but if you want the quick, one-line summary: Mythspace is what happens when Philippine folklore meets science fiction, specifically aliens. This new series plays on the idea that the creatures we know from folk tales and movies not simply monsters from our grandparents’ stories, but you know, creatures from outer space. Sounds crazy, yes?

But you know what? It actually works.

Mythspace #0 is the preview issue for the science fiction anthology. Here we can read a bit of two stories from the anthology, as well as preview of the art from the different illustrators: Koi Carreon, Borg Sinaban, Jules Gregorio, Mico Dimagiba, Cristina Rose Chua, Paul Quiroga. I’m not a good judge of art, but I liked that each story seemed to have its own personality because of the artist. I also liked reading the previews for the two longest stories there, with Liftoff having that mystery-in-space type of story with a somewhat angst-ridden hero, and Unfurling of Wings reminding me so much of the chimaera world in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. There’s also a bit of information on the aliens we will meet in the issues. My favorites are the Kapre and the Manananggal – somehow, these versions are less scary than what I heard from stories growing up.

Overall, I loved this preview. The booklet is short, so everything ends before you feel like you really know things, but it’s a good thing because I am totally looking forward to the release of the first installment of the anthology in 2013. Now I’m pretty sure that the world will not (and cannot!) end on December 2012 — after all, we still need to have the rest of the Mythspace anthology in our grubby little hands. :)

Rating:

My copy: signed, bought from Komikon

Other reviews:
Jumper Cable
Hawkers Magazine
Crime-Fighting Call Center Agents

Trese 5: Midnight Tribunal

Trese 5: Midnight TribunalTrese # 5: Midnight Tribunal by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo
Publisher: Visprint
Number of pages: 90
My copy: signed paperback, bought during Komikon 2012

In a city where the aswang control everything that is illegal
and where ancient gods seek to control everything else,
enforcing the law can be a very difficult task.

When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police normally call Alexandra Trese. Lately, it seems like others have been taking that call.

Trese must confront these supernatural crime-fighters and bring order back to the city, before the underworld attempts to seek balance in its own way.

* * *

So the news of the fifth installment of the graphic novel Trese by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo totally took me by surprise. I wasn’t supposed to pass by the Komikon on the last weekend of October because I thought I didn’t have anything to go there for. And then I saw the Facebook update from the publisher and that made me adjust my weekend plans, stat.

When weird things happen in the city, the police call Alexandra Trese. However, there seemed to be someone else who’s answering these calls before Trese can get to them. Someone who’s faster, and who’s slowly gaining popularity because of his public antics. Trese gets to the bottom of it quick, and finds that there’s more to the surface with this being who’s doing her job for her.

I’m making the summary vague on purpose because it’s good not to be spoiled with this issue. This is a common storyline, really, where someone else tries to take the job of our hero/heroine and can often do it better than them, which makes our star a less credible hero. But more often than not, this replacement hero/heroine has bad intentions, which our hero/heroine will uncover in the end. Trese #5 followed that pattern and then veered away from it, making it more interesting than it already is.

Midnight Tribunal follows the same format that Mass Murders did, with four interconnected stories instead of independent cases. I loved how old characters showed up again, like the nuno (who is now asking for Kitkat instead of Chocnut) and Maliksi, the young tikbalang bachelor who will definitely play a big part in the later issues. I love, love, love the Kambal, with their funny quips and awesome, awesome lines. They’re definitely funnier now than they were before, but they were also just as kick-ass as their boss.

I loved how there was more development in Trese’s story arc here, and important characters were introduced in this installment that I am definitely looking forward to reading about in the next! This is definitely one of my favorites in the series, and I am one very, very happy fan. :) I cannot wait to know what happens next!

Rating:

Other reviews:
taking a break

Reviews of other Trese Books:

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own MakingThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Makingby Catherynne M. Valente
Publisher: Corsair
Number of pages: 326
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

Gather up your courage and your wishes; grab a little pinch of luck – and prepare to be swept away, in a ship of your own making, to a land unlike any other. September is a twelve-year-old girl, Somewhat Grown and Somewhat Heartless, and she longs for adventure. So when a Green Wind and a Leopard of Little Breezes invite her to Fairyland – well, of course, she accepts (mightn’t you?).

When she gets there, she finds a land in crisis and confusion – crushed by the iron rule of a villainous Marquess – she soon discovers that she alone holds the key to restoring order. Having read enough books to know what a girl with a quest must do, September sets out to Fix Things.

As September forges her way through Fairyland, with a book-loving dragon and a partly human boy named Saturday by her side, she makes many friends and mistakes; loses her shadow, her shoes and her way. But she finds adventure, courage, a rather special Spoon, and a lot more besides . . .

* * *

I’ve been wanting to get The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (will be called Fairyland from here on out) by Catherynne M. Valente ever since I read a review from The Book Smugglers. I was curious because they both gave high ratings for the book, but I was also a bit too stingy to get myself a hardbound copy, and it was quite hard to find one in local bookstores here. But patience is a virtue, because after some waiting (and browsing some buy petite scrubs sites in between), I finally spotted a paperback copy of the book in Fully Booked one time early this year.

Twelve-year-old September is Somewhat Grown and Somewhat Heartless, and when the Green Wind and a Leopard of Little Breezes came and asked to join them into Fairyland, she accepts. What follows is a fun adventure where September gets her courage and wishes washed, befriends the wyvern born from a library, and sets out to Fix Things for Fairyland who has been under a rule of a villainous Marquess.

I read the book for my Required Reading in September, just because the main character’s name is also September. I was prepared for a light and joyful fantasy romp, and I was really hoping that I would like it as much as the other reviewers said they did.

And you know what? I liked Fairyland very much! Fairyland is such a smart and fun book — fun because of all the adventures and characters that our heroine meets along the way, and smart because things were never really explained in detail, but the readers were allowed to figure things out. Everything in the book was so creative and bright and shiny, and I was truly, truly invested in everyone in the book.

But it’s not all bright and happy and joyful all the time — there was bloodshed, and several dark moments in the book that made me realize that it’s not really a children’s book after all. But I liked how it balanced off the fun elements and really brings out the point of the story and also makes September and our other characters grow up.

Other than the story, I really loved the writing. Valente’s writing is very whimsical and charming, and I was surprised at how many pages I have dog-eared in the book. There were some passages that were just fun (but true), like:

Temperament, you’ll find, is highly dependent on time of day, weather, frequency of naps, and whether one has had enough to eat.

Some full of wisdom:

When you are born, your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you’re half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it’s so grunged up with living. So every once and a while, you have to scrub it and get the works going or else you’ll never be brave again…So most people go around with grimy machinery, when all it would take is a bit of spit and polish to make paladins once more, bold knights and true.

While some just squeezed my heart:

I will walk wherever it is I wish to go. I will walk to my grandfather the Municipal Library, and he will praise me for my unselfishness. I have walked my whole life. More will not hurt me.

Fairyland is a fun book, and I like that there’s more to look forward to in the next book, which I hear is also very, very good. I’m looking forward to reading more of September’s adventures (and finding out about that part near the ending — Did you see her?) and also reading Cat Valente’s other books for her gorgeous writing. :)

Rating:

Required Reading: September

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Book Harbinger
Janicu’s Book Blog

Required Reading: November

Where did October go? I seriously do not know. I knew it was just crazy (but good!), and now it is November and I am still going crazy. I had planned to blog several times here, really, but gah, all I want to do when I go home after work is sleep. Sleep. Sleep. And I think I will still be busy until 2012 ends. :( I feel like I’m going to crash at any time and like I would need a Nolan N90 helmet to stop me from getting too burned out. Gah.

But I will still try to read, I promise. I always do. I think it’s one of the things that keep me sane. :o

I realized that I didn’t have a Required Reading post last November because I was too busy with NaNoWriMo. I almost didn’t want to have a post for this year because I am still busy, but I realized — what the heck. It’s not like there are brand new books on my list anyway. And nothing’s stopping me from trying, right?

But first, October!

  • The Viewless Dark by Eliza Victoria (4/5) – Totally creeped me out. I liked it! I have a bunch of Eliza’s book pending for review. One day I will write about all of them!

I’m still in the middle of The Historian and Isle of Blood, and honestly I don’t know when I will be able to read them, but I am easing pressure on myself. Because it’s never fun to be pressured, yes?

Required Reading: November

On to this crazy, crazy month!

November Books

  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova — still ongoing, and I’m halfway through! :) I can definitely finish this before the discussion.
  • The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka by Roald Dahl – this is for our December discussion, and I kind of want to get tot his earlier than usual so I won’t cram. We will be discussing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory , but since I saw this book has both Charlie stories in, I decided to get this one instead. This should be an easy read, right?
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – only because November plays a big part in this novel. I have no idea if I will be able to crack into this, though.

Here’s to trying this November. It will be crazy, but I will definitely try. :)