Heist Society

Heist Society by Ally CarterHeist Society by Ally Carter
Heist Society # 1
Publisher: Hyperion

Number of pages:  287
My copy: hardbound, Christmas gift from Maria

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

* * *

I never realized that I really liked con stories until I am already right in the middle of reading or watching them. Case in point: I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy watching Fast & the Furious 5 when my friend invited me to watch it with her, until I saw the big job they were attempting to pull in the movie and I enjoyed the entire thing immensely. Con stories are so smart and cunning…and now that makes me wonder why I’ve only watched only one Oceans movie? :o Gasp. I must remedy that.

But I digress. I’ve had Heist Societyby Ally Carter in my radar for a while because of all the fun things I’ve heard about it, but I never got a copy because I always believed someone will get it for me for Christmas or my birthday. My wish finally came true last Christmas thanks to Maria, and I picked the book up after I was trying to get over the hangover from Life of Pi. We meet Katarina Bishop in Heist Society, a fifteen year old girl who came from a family of thieves. But Kat is “retired”, and she has left her family to lead a normal life, after conning her way into a prestigious boarding school. Then Kat’s friend, Hale, gets her out of the school because her family needs her help — a powerful mobster who lost rare art from his collection is after her dad, the only suspect in his list. Kat must find a way to save her dad, even if it means going back to the life she left. How? By stealing the paintings back, of course.

Oh so fun. I had so much fun with this book that I didn’t want it to end when I was done. Or at least, that I had the next books with me immediately. Heist Society had all the elements of a book that I enjoyed — a fun premise, just the right amount of danger, real characters with fun banter all wrapped in a light and fast read. The con is not too complicated to require that much thinking power, and I liked how everything came together as Kat and Hale went from one place to another and formed their little group of bandits until they finally pulled everything together. There was that fun element of suspense that I like in con stories, where you think everything is going to fall apart but it was really going as planned. Add the Bishop family dynamics and you’ve got a book you’ll really like up to the last page.

A little suspension of disbelief is in order, of course, especially since these kids tend to jump around the world as the story goes on with little difficulty. I guess it follows that con families are rich people, too? But it was fun traipsing around the world with them. There was a time when I wished that the book was written in first person, since I really wanted to get into Kat’s head, but I realized later on that it was better if she was held at arm’s length, because it gave a different kind of feel for her epiphanies and sentimental moments. She’s a cool heroine, and I liked how she’s not overly dramatic or too cold or even too cunning to be lovable. Kat is the kind of person you’d want to be on your team, and if I were a thief like them, I would want to be in her team too. There’s also a hint of romance in the book. Just a hint, enough to make it even more exciting in the next books. :)

Heist Society is a fun, fast and light read. I really, really had fun with it, and I look forward to reading the next two books in the series. More W. W. Hale the Fifth, please! :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Good Books and Good Wine
The Nocturnal Library
reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac

Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Publisher: Walker
Number of pages: 352
My copy: Paperback, bought from National Bookstore

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, it is my pleasure and honour to present to you:

THE PI PATEL, INDO-CANADIAN, TRANS-PACIFIC, FLOATING CIRCUUUSSSSS!!!

Take one sixteen-year-old boy and cast him away at sea in a lifeboat with a large (and seasick) Royal Bengal tiger. Imagine the scene 227 days later.

Now read Life of Pi and change your imagination.

* * *

I’ve had Life of Pi by Yann Martel on my radar since my senior year in college, but I never got it because I couldn’t really afford it on my allowance back then. Later, much later, there were many, many times I could have bought it but I prioritized other books so I didn’t get it even then. One time, during a book club meet-up, some friends were talking about this book so I asked them if they think it was something I would like. I remember someone telling me that I might be bored with it, so I decided to just borrow instead of buy. But alas, I never got to borrow it even after. It still wasn’t in my priority list, up until late last year, when my friends were talking about the books that will soon become movies. I figured, since I was starting to explore outside of the genres I usually read, that maybe it’s finally time to read it.

That, and there was the tiger.

rylietiger

My laptop’s wallpaper after watching Life of Pi. :)

I love tigers. Tigers are some of my favorite animals. If I could own a tiger for a pet, I would do that in a heartbeat. Tiger photos are an automatic reblog in my Tumblr, and I swear, I could stare at them for hours on end. So a big part of my wanting to read and watch Life of Piwas because of the tiger in the story.

Piscine Molitor Patel — Pi, for short — is a teenage boy whose family owned a zoo in Pondicherry, India. Pi has lived an interesting life, one that made the author seek him out so he can write his book, intrigued by the idea that Pi’s story can make him believe in God. Life of Piis really, well, Pi’s life, as he grew up surrounded by animals, his quest for (three) religions, growing with his belief and of course, his 227-days in the middle of the ocean after the ship carrying them to Canada sunk, leaving him on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, which probably helped me appreciate it. I just knew about the shipwreck and the tiger, but I didn’t know what was supposed to happen around it. I liked Pi’s voice, his boyishness that was slightly tinged with pain of recollection, since the story was being told from the point of view of the older Pi. I liked the lush atmosphere of Pi’s life in the zoo, and all the animal behavior lessons that he shared. It reminded me a bit of all the animal lessons in Animorphs by K.A. Applegate, my favorite scifi series growing up. This made me want to go visit a zoo and observe the animals for myself.

I also really liked Pi’s journey into religion. Or religions, rather. I think this is a part that people either really get or don’t get in the book. I don’t claim to get it all completely, but I appreciated Pi’s attempts to find God, even if it meant going to the other religions. It was more of a spiritual journey rather than religious, really, and there were several things that he learned from all three religions that I felt applied to life in general. I liked how Pi learned about God willingly, and I am pretty sure his earlier spiritual journey helped him in his predicament later on.

I realized while watching the movie that being stuck in the middle of the ocean with no sign of help or no land is now my worst nightmare. When I am island hopping on vacations, I am always the one wearing a life vest, because I am not the strongest swimmer. In the book, I cannot envision how the ocean can be merciless because I kept on thinking of it as a calm ocean since they were in the Pacific, right? Then I watched the movie and oh my Lord, I never want to be in that situation ever. Especially with a bengal tiger, even if I love that animal.

I found Pi’s adventures in the middle of the ocean very interesting and I was really, really rooting for him to live. Or rather, I am really, really hoping Richard Parker the tiger would live in the end. I can just imagine the tiger in the story, and the visuals in the movie (even if the tiger is completely computer generated) helped me love Richard Parker more. Pi’s adventures in the ocean had the most meat in it, I think, and there were so many, many things that got me even if I wouldn’t even dare to be stuck in the middle of the ocean like him. Some of my favorite passages:

It begins in your mind, always. One moment, you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy…
So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.
(p. 161, 162)

Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was a hell beyond expression. I thank God it always passed…The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving. (p. 209)

It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse. (p. 285)

The ending left me…reeling. A friend told me about the twist in the story, but I wanted to be surprised and boy was I surprised. I couldn’t wrap my head around it for a while, and I had my first case of a book hangover for the year, which was extended right after watching the movie.

I’m really glad I started the year with this one. Life of Piby Yann Martel is a beautiful book. It’s not often a book leaves me with a delicious hangover that leaves me thinking and talking about the book after I was done. While it didn’t exactly make me believe in God more than I already do, I think this is a book that speaks of hope and belief even in the most impossible situations. :)

I meant to rate this four stars, but I am giving one full star for Richard Parker the tiger. Just because. :3

Rating:

Required Reading: January

Other reviews:
Code Name: Blue
It’s a Wonderful Book World
reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac

Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards set for 2013

In 2012, I was lucky to be included in the team that organized the first Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards that was a part of the 2nd Filipino ReaderCon that happened last August. It was fun because I saw so many Filipino books that I can add to my TBR. This year we’re sort of launching the awards a little bit earlier, so we readers can start recalling our favorite Philippine published books in 2012. :)

Filipino Readers' Choice Awards

The Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards returns for its second straight year, engaging the Filipino reading public in honoring their favorite Philippine-published titles.

An initiative of the Filipino Book Bloggers Group, the Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards debuted at the 2nd Filipino Reader Conference in 2012, and was established to develop awareness and appreciation of Philippine literature, recognize the reader’s role in creating the meaning and experience of a literary work, and give the readers a voice in the Philippine book industry.

For 2013, the Filipino Readers’ choice awards will be open to books published from January to December 2012. Nomination period is set for May 2013, in preparation for the awards ceremony at 3rd Filipino ReaderCon in August.

2012 winners of the Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards (books published 2010-2011) were: “But That Won’t Wake Me Up!” by Annie and Anelka Lumbao and Liza Flores, Adarna House (Children’s Picture Book); “Fairy Tale Fail” by Mina V. Esguerra, Summit Books (Chick Lit); “Ilustrado” by Miguel Syjuco, Anvil Publishing (Novel in English), “Ang Huling Dalagang Bukid at ang Authobiography na Mali” by Jun Cruz-Reyes, Anvil Publishing (Novel in Filipino); “KikoMachine Komiks Blg 6” by Manix Abrera, Visprint (Comics/ graphic novel); “Alternative Alamat” edited by Paolo Chikiamco, Rocket Kapre and Flipside (Short Story Anthology); “It’s A Mens World” by Bebang Siy, Anvil Publishing (Essay Anthology); and “Off the Beaten Track: Tulaan sa Tren 2” NBDB and Vibal Foundation (Poetry Anthology).

Preliminary survey for the Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards is now ongoing at http://filipinoreadercon.wordpress.com/readers-choice-awards/frca-2013-survey/.

The Isle of Blood

The Isle of Blood by Rick YanceyThe Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey
The Monstrumologist # 3
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Number of pages: 538
My copy: paperback, gift from Kwesi

When Dr. Warthrop goes hunting the “Holy Grail of Monstrumology” with his eager new assistant, Arkwright, he leaves Will Henry in New York. Finally, Will can enjoy something that always seemed out of reach; a normal life with a real family. But part of Will can’t let go of Dr. Warthrop, and when Arkwright returns claiming that the doctor is dead, Will is devastated–and not convinced.

Determined to discover the truth, Will travels to London, knowing that if he succeeds, he will be plunging into depths of horror worse than anything he has experienced so far. His journey will take him to Socotra, the Isle of Blood, where human beings are used to make nests and blood rains from the sky–and will put Will Henry’s loyalty to the ultimate test.

* * *

I’m not a super-fast reader, but some friends tell me I have a pretty fast reading pace. I’ve been pretty slow lately, though, but for young adult books with a max of 500 pages, I know I can finish it in a week or two weeks, tops. Which is why I feel slightly terrible when I realized that it took me two months to finish one book from a series that I really like. In my defense, I was reading this together with The Historian while NaNoWriMo-ing, and then life and work happened. But I still felt bad.

I’m so, so sorry, Will Henry. And Dr. Warthrop. :(

The Isle of Blood is the third book of The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey. We continue Will Henry and Dr. Pellinore Warthrop’s adventures found in the folio that the author was reading to piece together the story of a certain Will Henry who passed away without any relations. In this book, Dr. Warthrop receives a mysterious package that contained a nidus ex magnificum, a nest made from human body parts, held together by a substance called pwder ser. With just one touch, the person transforms into a creature with a hunger that cannot be satisfied, so much that they start eating their own self. Warthrop sets off to find the creator of the nidus, the Typheous Magnificum, but he doesn’t take Will Henry with him. Instead, he takes a new assistant, who returns later bearing the news that the Doctor is dead. Will Henry doesn’t believe this, and sets off to discover the truth, further tying his life inexplicably to the doctor, whether he liked it or not.

Ah Will Henry. I loved The Curse of the Wendigo because it was a Warthrop book, but The Isle of Blood is Will Henry’s through and through. We see Will Henry here without the Doctor, and how far he has gone through in the name of the science that he has grown up with with Warthrop. There is a certain darkness in this book that was kind of new to me — not that the first two books were not dark. It just seemed that with this book, there were more internal struggles with the characters, especially Will Henry. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that he’s still young in the story but the older Will Henry wrote the folios. It was almost like the older Will Henry was starting to wax poetic over things in this book. It was a tad too poetic at times and I think that was one of the reasons why I wasn’t able to finish this faster than I normally do. Not that it’s bad, but it almost felt repetitive. The story felt slower this time around, and so many things happened that a part of me felt a tad impatient with the story’s progress.

The Isle of Blood isn’t as scary as the first two books. There were some mind games, but it didn’t feel as psychological as it was in The Curse of the Wendigo. There were some scary parts in the book, but I felt that they were more of the suspense part, but not really scary/horror type of scary that will wracked my nerves.However, it was very dark, as I mentioned and it’s still grotesque like the first two. Perhaps not as raw and as blood-curdling as The Monstrumologist, but pretty gross enough for me to remember not to read this while eating. There were funny moments too, and a funny cameo of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that made me wonder if the author of Sherlock Holmes really knew someone named Pellinore Warthrop. Hee. :D

There’s a twist at the end that I wasn’t really expecting, and this made the book’s monster quite…well terrifying. After some thinking, though, I realized that the monster in this book is pretty close to the things I liked reading in my fiction, so that made me smile even if it was a truly horrifying thing to smile about. The ending wrapped the book nicely and it made my heart hurt just a bit.

My favorite in the series is still The Curse of the Wendigo, but The Isle of Blood is definitely a good (and sad and horrifying and beautiful) follow up in the series. I honestly have no idea how this series will end, and while I am looking forward to reading the last book (which finally has a cover!), I am honestly quite scared to know what will happen to Will Henry and Dr. Pellinore Warhtrop. I have a feeling it will break my heart. :(

Rating:

Reviews of other The Monstrumologist Books:
#1 The Monstrumologist
#2 The Curse of the Wendigo

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers

Terrific Three

True to form, I almost forgot what today’s date meant.

And then, I saw blog birthdays from other friends‘ blogs, I thought: Wait. My blog’s birthday is also on January. I checked the calendar and then gasp, there!

Happy third birthday, One More Page!

Image from we heart it

Image from we heart it

Three years blogging about books. Imagine that. I’m quite proud and amazed that I lasted this long, even if I kind of had a slump by late 2012. I am not going to say that I’m surprised that I’m still blogging about books because the surprise is long gone, and I really don’t think I’ll stop anytime soon. So, to celebrate my blog’s third birthday, I have three blogging confessions.

Continue Reading →