Corpse in the Mirror

Corpse in the Mirror by A.S. SantosCorpse in the Mirror by A.S. Santos
Student Paranormal Research Group # 2
Publisher: Flipside Digital
Number of pages: 207
My copy: Ebook review copy from publisher

Samantha Davidson’s powers have been growing. Now, not only can she hear other people’s thoughts, but she can also sometimes see things through others’ eyes. They aren’t much—momentary glimpses, really—but these are dark things. Twisted things. Things she can’t bear to watch. But since she is the only one who can see them as they happen, she may be the only one who can prevent them from happening again.

CORPSE IN THE MIRROR is the second installment of A.S. Santos’ three-book Young Adult Paranormal Romance. Follow Sam and her friends in the Student Paranormal Research Group as they encounter bizarre and often dangerous supernatural occurrences, battle demons both spiritual and psychological, and navigate adolescence and young love.

I can’t remember the last time I was so excited to receive an email about a review request from the publisher until I got an email from Katz of Flipside, about A.S. Santos’ new book, Corpse in the Mirror. I really enjoyed Voices in the Theater from last year, and it was one of those books that I didn’t think I would like but I ended up enjoying, so I was really looking forward to reading the next book. So imagine my joy when I received an email about this. I practically jumped in my seat (and I was having dinner with my family), and right after that, I started to reread the first book just so I can get ready for the second. (Oh, and I enjoyed reading the first book just as much as I did on the first time :D)

In the second book of the Student Paranormal Research Group (SPRG) series, Sam’s powers are growing, and more than just hearing things, she starts seeing things. But that’s not what really is taking a lot of her attention now, because her friend and fellow SPRG member, Richard, is being all too showy with her, almost like they’re dating but they’re not. When their next case brings them to Richard’s apartment where weird things have been happening lately, Sam realizes just how much her powers have changed. Now someone they know is in trouble, and only she can help her.

Just like the first book in the series, Corpse in the Mirror is very readable. It’s so easy to drop into Sam’s world (although perhaps it’s easier for me because the setting, again, was quite familiar) and be a quiet member of their group. The first few chapters of the book was equally creepy, so much that I realized I had to stop reading it when I realized I was reading it late at night, and I wanted to go to the bathroom to pee but there’s a mirror, and who knows what I’ll see there? :o But anyway, after the first initial creep-out part, it became more of a murder mystery with a supernatural twist, and it was quite interesting following the team in solving this mystery.

I think there’s a little less of the angel aspect in this book. I mean sure, there was still a bit of it, but there were more interactions between Sam and the other characters in the group instead of Sam and the angels. I liked this, and it was interesting to see how their relationships grew here, both in the platonic and romantic sense. I think I especially liked the romance aspect in this novel — it’s not cheesy, but it’s definitely a bit more complicated. But its complications felt grounded. A little spoiler: there’s some sort of a love triangle, but it’s not the usual triangle of the recent paranormal romance novels where one is the obvious choice. I liked how there were several voices of reason in the book when it came to the romance, and how the advice was sound and relevant. The lessons for the here were definitely something that everyone who’s ever been confused with relationships and romance need to hear. (Well I know I sort of needed to read them at that time. ;) )

I also really liked how this one ended, even more so than the last one. In a way, you would need to suspend your disbelief at how things were resolved, but I thought it worked well with the story’s universe. It reminded me a little bit of how the things worked in my favorite books, This Present Darkness, so I don’t have much complaint over that. It’s a bit of a cliffhanger, though, and now I can’t help but wonder what could happen next to Sam and her group? I have a few predictions on the romantic side though, so I really, really hope it works out that way. :D

If you enjoyed Voices in the Theater, I definitely recommend that you pick this up. Corpse in the Mirror is a good blend of horror, suspense, faith and romance. I am definitely, definitely looking forward to the third book in the series. :)

Number of dog-eared pages: 21

Favorite dog-eared quote(s):

That’s why relationships take effort. And because they do take effort, they’re more valuable when you make them work.

Then throughout our lives we make different choices and take different paths, and in the process we are changed, along with our souls. We either grow and expand with enlightenment, or become corrupted and weak and confused, because our souls and bodies are linked together…every choice and action we take in our lives also affects the lives of other people — other souls — creating a huge interconnected ripple effect throughout this world and the next.

We’re never really in full control of the things we feel. What we are always in control of, however, are the decisions we make and the actions we take…because of or in spite of the things we feel.

Love is always a gift.

Free will is what makes Love possible. You cannot force anyone to love you. Love only becomes love when it is a true and free choice.

Even when hearts are broken, they still keep beating.

Rating:

Book trailer:

I think this is the first book trailer the publishers have made for their books, so I thought I’d share it with you guys, too:

YouTube Preview Image

Corpse in the Mirror is out today! You can also read the first few chapters of Voices in the Theater here.

ReaderCon 2013 Filipino Friday (3): Book Drop!

Two reasons why this post is delayed: I did it on purpose, and I was just so darned busy again. I’m trying to catch up, really, but ack, I’m sorry if I’ve been neglecting this blog again.

But anyway, better late than never (and just in time for the wrap-up post, I hope! :D)
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Last week’s Filipino Friday is a little more interactive than the previous ones because it was the Pinoy Book Drop week. This idea started last year, after we started the Great Book Swap, which flew well. This year, we thought of putting it in a week (and onwards) so we could drive more activities. It was fun to see how many books were dropped through Twitter and Facebook, and I have a feeling there’s more that we haven’t heard from (like, you know, the ones with private profiles, or those who just didn’t tag us). I think people had fun doing the drops? :)

I have a little confession, though. I had five books to drop…but I only got to drop one. Like I said, I was so darned busy, that I hardly had time to prepare my books. :(

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols near Digital Walker in Eastwood

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols near Digital Walker in Eastwood

I feel a little bad, because I should have done more. But the good thing is, even if Book Drop week is over, I can still drop some books. And it’s another long weekend, so I’d have the time, right?

Right.

Oh, and I checked and the book is gone. So yay, whoever you are who got it, I hope you enjoy the book! You can check out the other books dropped through the #pbdrop hashtag. :) Did you find one?

Now because I only have one book for this post, I’m going to answer the second question, too:

Tell us about your most memorable or favorite book hunting experience. Have you ever found a book in a most unexpected place? If you find a dropped book somewhere, what would you do with it? Where do you get your books nowadays? Do you still go to bookstores, or do you buy/order books online?

This is years ago, as in I was still a freshman in college. My mom and I were in Robinson’s Galleria, where I met them after an event. I was browsing around National Bookstore, digging through the books to see if there’s anything there, when I found at the very bottom shelf, two books in a bundle. I pulled it out, just to fix it, when I saw the name of the author: Frank E. Peretti. I think I let out a little squeal when I read the titles: This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness.

I found out about This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti from a friend in high school, four years before I found that little treasure in National Bookstore. She lent me the book, and I read it in a few days and I was so amazed at it that I knew I wanted to have a copy of the book for myself. But it was an old book, so I didn’t really think I’d find a copy, until that day. And I was so surprised to find that there was a sequel to it, which made me even more excited because I had no idea there was a sequel.

So I begged my mom to buy it (because I don’t have enough money to do so yet), and I’m glad she did. I read the two books in a week, and I remember being so happy about that find that I emailed several friends about it. I was that happy — and I still have those books on my shelf. I don’t think I will ever let that go, even if the newer editions look nicer. Those two books sealed my love for Frank Peretti and reading longer novels. :D

It’s November tomorrow! That means the ReaderCon is just 9 days away! Don’t forget to pre-register here! The 3rd Filipino ReaderCon: What Do Readers Want? will be on November 9, 2013, 8:00am to 6:00pm at the Rizal Library – Ateneo de Manila University. This event is held in partnership with Rizal Library and National Book Development Board (NBDB), and sponsored by Buqo, Fully Booked, Adarna House, Scholastic, Flipreads, OMF Literature, Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Island Merchants Corporation, with media partner When In Manila. See you there! :)

Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage

Packing LightPacking Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt
Publisher: Moody Publishing
Number of pages: 256
My copy: Kindle edition

What do you need to leave behind?

When I was in college, I figured my life would come together around graduation. I’d meet a guy; we’d plan a beautiful wedding and buy a nice house-not necessarily with a picket fence, but with whatever kind of fence we wanted. I might work, or I might not, but whatever we decided, I would be happy.

When I got out of college and my life didn’t look like that, I floundered around, trying to figure out how to get the life I had always dreamed of. I went down so many different paths for it. Career. Travel. Friends. Relationships. But none of them were as satisfying as I hoped they would be.

Like many twenty-somethings, I tried desperately to discover the life of my dreams after college, but instead of finding it, I just kept accumulating baggage . I had school loans, car payments, electronics I couldn’t afford, a house full of mismatched furniture I didn’t love but that had become my own, hurt from broken relationships, and unmet expectations for what life was “supposed to be” like.

Just when I had given up all hope of finding the “life I’d always dreamed about,” I decided to take a trip to all fifty states…because when you go on a trip, you can’t take your baggage. What I found was that “packing light” wasn’t as easy as I thought it was.

This is the story of that trip and learning to live life with less baggage.

* * *

I found Ally’s blog through Twitter one time and her blog quickly became one of my favorites. I must admit that I really liked reading the stuff she wrote about dating, because I thought they spoke the truth, and not in a flowery way but in a real, age-appropriate, I-can-apply-this-to-my-life way. I was also very, very amazed at how she and her friend quit their jobs, sell everything and then went on a road trip to pursue their dreams. It’s such an exciting thing, things that my friends and I can only think about. I mean, quit our jobs, sell everything and travel? It seemed hardly rational.

When I heard that Ally was releasing a book about her adventures in this trip — and one of the reasons she went on a road trip, I think — I knew I wanted to read it. I find it funny that this book, like the previous non-fiction book I bought and read — came to my life at exactly the right time, and it seemed like the words I read were the exact words I needed in my life.

I make it sound so dramatic, I know, but it was the only thing that fits with my reading experience. Packing Light is a memoir of sorts, of Ally’s trip with her friend Sharaya, and what she learned about baggage, be it physical or not. Ally talked about the preparations for the trip, her doubts, their adventures and misadventures. She talked about the relationships that she formed and lost and strengthened in the course of six months, how she dealt with heartbreak and how she found herself again. In each of the chapters, Ally would share the lessons she learned, and how she learned that in a trip — and in life — you can’t take all the baggage that you have accumulated, but packing light isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

The best thing about books like this, I think, is its honesty. It helps that I knew Ally from her blog before, and her posts are just so real and honest that I knew her book would be nothing less. Packing Light has that same feel, the same kind of intimacy of a good friend who is telling you her story, and her adventures and you learn a thing or two from what she’s saying. I liked reading about how she and Sharaya prepared for the trip, and then she puts it in such a way that anyone could be going through the trip, and the preparations. Ally makes it seem like anyone can do what she and her friend did…and maybe anyone really can. Perhaps not the same kind of trip, but still a trip that has a potential to change your life. Then again, every trip has a potential to do that, right?

Needless to say, I loved Packing Light. I learned a lot while I was reading it, and I bet that if I reread it again, I will learn new things too. This is exactly the kind of book that I’d recommend to read if you’re at a crossroad in your life, if you’re having a life crisis, if you’re feeling a little lost and broken and you don’t want to be alone. But even if you’re not in any of those states, I still think Packing Light is a must-read book. Ally’s experiences teach us about what baggage can do in our life, and how important it is to let go.

If you want read more about Ally’s thoughts on living a life with less, you can visit her blog here. :)

Number of dog-eared pages: 98

Favorite dog-eared quote(s):

Baggage is like that. You pick it up one piece at a time, and it grows heavy over time, so you hardly even realize you’re carrying it. And the only way we know we’re holding it is if we go somewhere. As long as we stay stationary, we’ll never realize how full our arms, and our suitcases, really are. but when we decide to go somewhere, we discover that we can’t take it with us. (p.18)

That’s the thing with ideas. They start small, somewhere inside of you, and nothing will happen with them until you finally speak them out loud. (p. 30)

It isn’t until we’re honest about who we really are, and what we’re really feeling, that we give others a chance to show us how brave they think we are. It isn’t until we believe in ourselves to do something radical that we invite others to believe with us. And it isn’t until those we trust tell us we’re trustworthy and brave that we actually realize how trustworthy and brave we really are. (p. 40)

Unless I let go of what I was holding, I would never get the answers to my deepest questions: is God good? Can I trust Him? Will He provide for me? Should I jump into the waterfall? (p. 48)

I wonder if what we need, more than anything, is for someone to tell us that we’re going to “make it.” No matter where we are in our journey, or what has gone wrong, I wonder if what we really need are people who are waiting for us, without judgment, willing to say, “Do what you need to do. I’ll be here when you make it.” (p. 84)

I want to be the kind of write who is awake to the realities of heaven, but engaged in the realities of this world. (p. 95)

When you are living in your passion, people around you who were once sleeping will be woken up. That’s how you know. When we become who we were made to be, we come alive, but the people around us come alive, too. Listen carefully. Watch. Are people responding? Are they changing? When we become who God meant us to be all along, we leave a wake of His presence behind us. (p.130)

Open hands to receive gifts that come, enjoy them while they last, and give freely when it’s required. Open hands that live gracefully, with gratitude, with or without a toothbrush. (p. 190)

He’s waiting for us to do something beautiful, something courageous, something totally out of the ordinary.

Your whole life is an invitation. God isn’t going to tell you the “right” answer to force you to the right direction, because if He did, He would only be stealing the joy that comes when you pick yourself. You’ll face obstacles along the way, like we did. There will be breakdowns and sickness, and losses you can’t imagine before you start. But God isn’t punishing you. He’s on your side. He’s never left you. He’ll be with you the whole way. (p. 247)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Magnolia Grace
Krisi Ruth Johnson

 

ReaderCon 2013 Filipino Friday (2): Kids and Books

I haven’t been blogging in the past days, sorry. It’s because I rarely have time to be in front of my computer in the past days because I haven’t been home for the past days. Well, I’m sort of home, because I’m with my entire family, but I’m not really home home, because I’ve been in Guam since Monday. I’m here because it’s my dad’s birthday today (Happy birthday, Papa!), so we’ve been busy catching up and going around and shopping and just having a chill (working) vacation. (Don’t worry, I’ll blog about my bookstore visit here soon)

Anyway, so there. Hello, friends! It’s time for another Filipino Friday!
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Week 2: Kids and Books. What were your favorite books as a kid or while you were growing up? Do you still read children’s books? If you could give your younger self a book to read, what would it be?

I talked about this first book that started me reading when I was featured in Monique’s The Spark Project over at marginalia. I am honestly trying to go back even before that, and I think I blogged about it in last year’s Filipino Friday, about how my dad read Pepito the Catfish to me when I younger. But if there was one book that I really, really loved and that I read over and over again, it is A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

My original copy is lost, somewhere. But this was the cover I owned, and it looked almost as dilapidated as this. :D

My original copy is lost, somewhere. But this was the cover I owned, and it looked almost as dilapidated as this. :D (image source)

I was influenced in part by that cartoon series shown in the morning, and I really, really loved Sara Crewe. I remember reading this book during summer afternoons, when I had no other book to read at home, and then I remember rereading this book while I was in school after I finished a Math quiz. I even remember my Math teacher scolding me for reading a book that is not a text book in school, and threatened to confiscate it. (Boo. I mean, they should be happy that I’m reading a book, and I’m not checking my Math notes so I can change my answer.) But anyway, I’m pretty sure it was the first classic book that I read over and over again, and I still feel comforted when I read it again a few years back.

Other than the usual Sweet Valley and Animorphs, I remember also growing up with some Enid Blyton books that my mom got from a book sale. I remember really loving The Secret Island, so much that I bought another copy of it when I can’t find the one my mom gave me. I also really liked the two Famous Five books I read: Five on Finniston Farm and Five Get Into a Fix. And even if I only read one book in this series, I really loved Last Term At Malory Towers. I’m currently on a mission to get the first six books in the series so I can finally read the entire thing. :D

So if I could give my younger self books, what would I give? I think I would give my younger self some of the best YA books I read now, like Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. I would also give myself some fantasy, because I rarely read fantasy books when I was a kid, and then I would give my younger self some local books as well, like the Interim Goddess of Love series by Mina V. Esguerra, and Voices in the Theater by A.S. Santos (whose second book, Corpse in the Mirror is coming out soon. Yay). And definitely a copy of A Little Princess. :D

22 days till the ReaderCon! Have you seen the updated program? And the confirmed panelists and facilitators? So excited to attend these panels. I hope you are, too! See you at the ReaderCon on November 9, 2013 at the Rizal Library! :)

 

Guardians of Tradition (Blog Tour Review + Excerpt + Giveaway)

Guardians of Tradition Blog Tour

Guardians of TraditionGuardians of Tradition: The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan by Mae Astrid Tobias, Rommel E. Joson (Illustrator), Renato S. Rastrollo
Publisher: Adarna
Number of pages: 32
My copy: print, review copy from author, for the Guardians of Tradition Blog Tour

Who are the indigenous and folk artists of the Philippines? Guardians of Tradition by Mae Astrid Tobias and illustrated by Rommel Joson is full of facts about 11 of the best Philippine master weavers, folk musicians, performing artists, mat weavers and metal smiths whose talents and skills have earned them the title Manlilikha ng Bayan. Designed to help children recognize native Filipino ingenuity and creativity, the book includes fun activities to promote appreciation for culture and arts. Guardians of Tradition has a fun and colorful design that appeals to young readers.

* * *

When I was a kid, I loved watching those early morning educational shows on TV. I thought it was such a genius thing but I felt really bad because they weren’t available in my school. I mean, why can’t we watch it at nine in the morning? They’re educational! So come summer vacation, I end up watching them religiously every morning, over breakfast, before I get asked to do chores. I loved the historical shows the most, more than the science ones, because I loved how they were told and it helped me remember history a little easier than just simply reading it.

Reading Guardians of Tradition: The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan reminded me of those days when I watched those shows. This book by Mae Astrid Tobias, illustrated by Rommel E. Joson and with photos by Renato S. Rastrollo, is a children’s book about the different indigenous and folk artists of the Philippines. These are people who were awarded by the government the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan to let the country know about their art. These people are the best weavers, folk musicians, performing artists, mat weavers and metal smiths in the Philippines. The book talks about them, who they are, what they do, and it even includes some fun activities to help the readers appreciate what these people do. The book is narrated by two characters Kiko and Banog, and it is filled with colorful photos and illustrations for not just young but also the old readers.

In a nutshell, I really enjoyed this book. It’s not often I read a children’s book, and this one is a really pretty one. I loved the binding, and the glossy pages. I also love the illustrations and how the two main characters (or tour guides) seem so fun. They make it easier for the books to be read, and it didn’t seem like a simple history/arts/culture book. I honestly haven’t heard of anyone in the book, and it was fun reading about them and what they do. I figure I’ve probably seen some of these pieces, but I never knew the history behind it, and more importantly, the people behind them. There’s also a glossary of terms at the back for review, and a map of the Philippines that points out the locations of the people featured in the book.

I could easily this book as an app, or a TV show, especially since the two characters seem to be drawn for that. I would love to have another volume for this book, because I’m pretty sure there are more than 11 of these people in the country! They truly are guardians of our tradition, and it made me proud to be born and raised in a country with such colorful culture. :)

Rating:

For the duration of the Guardians of Tradition Blog Tour, Guardians of Tradition is available at discounted price at the Adarna showroom in Scout Torillo corner Scout Fernandez Streets, Barangay Sacred Heart, Quezon City 1103 Philippines (Trunkline: (632) 352-6765, Fax: (632) 352-6765 local 125, Email Address: adarnahouse@adarna.com.ph)

For international readers and Filipinos abroad, an ebook version is coming soon. Click here to order paperback copies online.

Here’s an excerpt:

Lang Dulay

Lang Dulay – Photo by Renato S. Rastrollo

Lang Dulay of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato has been weaving t’nalak since she was twelve years old. T’nalak is what the T’boli call the three-colored cloth made from fine abaca fiber. The three colors of the t’nalak represent the three places where the T’boli believe the soul goes when one dies. Hitem (black) is for people who died because of natural causes. Hulo (red) for those who died violently like by a bullet or a blade. Bukay (white) is for those who take taken their lives and those whose deaths were untimely.

The T’boli weavers, like Lang Dulay, get the designs for their t’nalak from their dreams. They believe that when Fu Dalu, the spirit of the abaca, shows them the design in their dreams, they must immediately weave it into cloth or else they might fall ill and soon forget the pattern. Sometimes, the designs are passed on from generation to generation, from grandmother to grandchild. Lang Dulay knows a hundred designs like the bulinglangit (clouds), the bangkiring (hair bangs), and the kabangi (butterfly).

When Lang Dulay became a Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan awardee, she was able to build a traditional long house where she teaches younger women how to weave.

Lang Dulay

Lang Dulay – Photo by Renato S. Rastrollo

Suggested activity:
The T’boli get their ideas for t’nalak designs from their dreams. Dreams are good sources of ideas for stories, poems, and drawings. Why don’t you try to keep a dream journal? Get a small notebook and a pen. Keep it near your bed. Every morning when you wake up, write down or sketch what you remember from your dream the previous night.

About the Author:

Author - Mae Astrid TobiasMAE ASTRID TOBIAS (1979-2009) was a Palanca-award winning author of children’s books. In addition to Guardians of Tradition, her books include Blue Bananas (Crucible), Bayong ng Kuting (Lampara Books), My Forest Friends (Haribon), Bakawan (Adarna Books) and two books retelling the Ifugao traditional chant, hudhud. These are Halikpon: A Retelling of an Ancient Ifugao Chant and Pumbakhayon: An Origin Myth of the Ifugao Hudhud. Both are finalists for children’s literature and best design in the 2006 National Book Awards of the Manila Critics Circle.

She also spent several years in the field of children’s television. She served as the Manila Bureau Manager of Kabataan News Network, a project of UNICEF and Probe Media Foundation that trains young people nationwide how to produce their own broadcast quality documentaries. She also also wrote episodes for children shows like Sirit!, and ABS-CBN and Eskuwela ng Bayan, as well as worked for Philippine Junior Inquirer and Shell Foundation. She was a member of Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting  (KUTING), an organization of Filipino writers for children.

About the Illustrator:

Illustrator - Rommel JosonROMMEL JOSON is a painter and an illustrator. He graduated magna cum laude and College Valedictorian from the University of Philippines College of Fine Arts. He was also a Merit Scholar and a recipient of the Dean’s Awards for Visual Awards from the Ateneo de Manila University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. He worked in the advertising industry for several years before devoting his time fully to painting and illustration. He has received awards and citations for painting, illustration, comics, and design from various organizations such as the Philippine Board of Books for Young People (Honorable Mention), the Shell National Art Competition (3rd Place Oil/Acrylic Category), the Neil Gaiman/Fully Booked Graphic Fiction Competition (3rd Place in the Graphic Fiction category), the Adobo Design Awards (Silver) and the Philippine Araw Awards (Silver in Art Direction) and the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence Competition (Semifinalist in Oil). He is currently an active member of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK).

About the Photographer:

RENATO S. RASTROLLO, is a photographer, graphic artist, book and exhibit designer. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Advertising from the Philippine Women’s University. With over 25 years of experience in the field of documentary photography, his works have appeared in national and international publications. Presently, he is a culture and arts officer  at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Giveaway time! :)

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