Minis: Charlie and Willy Wonka

So last December, our book club’s book for the month was a very sweet book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t read the book yet, but this is one of the books that escaped my childhood. But nevertheless, I was excited for it not only because the discussion date is also our Christmas party, but also because hey, it’s chocolate. Who wouldn’t want that?

I ended up buying the complete Charlie and Willy Wonka adventures book because the series completist in me surfaced and I figured it was cheaper to get the two-in-one book when I went to the bookstore, plus I may want to read the other one after I read the first. So here are my review of the two books as my first Minis post for 2013. :)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald DahlCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Charlie Bucket # 1
Publisher: Puffin
Number of pages:  155
My copy: paperback, The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka, bought from Fully Booked

Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last!

But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

* * *

Charlie Bucket comes from a poor family who lives near Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory. Always hungry, Charlie looks forward to his birthday every year because he gets to have one chocolate bar. Just in time for his birthday, Willy Wonka announced that he is opening his factory again, and five lucky kids who can find a golden ticket will be given entrance to the factory. Our little hero finds one in the most unusual way. Together with four kids — one who likes to eat, one who likes to chew gum, one who never stops watching TV and a spoiled brat — Charlie comes in and finds that he may be in for the biggest adventure of his life.

I remember my first impression of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I was reading the first few pages: it cheered me up. Maybe it’s a psychological thing with all the chocolates and all, but I felt a bit lighter when I was reading the first few pages. Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryis children’s fiction anyway, so there’s nothing heavy to expect in the book, which my very busy and frazzled mind appreciated very much — a very well-deserved break from looking at zooprinting.com for cheap brochures.

However, I realize now that while I’m reading this as an (almost) adult, I wasn’t as enchanted with the book as it went on. I liked the Oompa-Loompa’s song and all, and the lessons that Mr. Wonka gave about each kid are pretty valuable, but in the end I just find him a bit...creepy. I wouldn’t want to be left alone with him, really. Perhaps if I read this as a kid, I would enjoy it for all its chocolate-y goodness, but the grown-up part of my mind is resisting some of its charm.

I think my younger self would have loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryif I had a chance to read it back then. My sweet tooth would have been beside herself with glee. But now that I’m a little bit older (I was about to say jaded, but that’s too negative, heh), I just like it. I would’ve loved it, but now I just like it.

Now I want a chocolate bar.

Rating:
Other review: marginalia

Charlie and the Great Glass ElevatorCharlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
Charlie Bucket # 2
Publisher: Puffin
Number of pages:  159
My copy: paperback, The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka, bought from Fully Booked

Now that he’s won the chocolate factory, what’s next for Charlie?

Last seen flying through the sky in a giant elevator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie Bucket’s back for another adventure. When the giant elevator picks up speed, Charlie, Willy Wonka, and the gang are sent hurtling through space and time. Visiting the world’’ first space hotel, battling the dreaded Vermicious Knids, and saving the world are only a few stops along this remarkable, intergalactic joyride.

* * *

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevatorpicks up right where the first book left off, and Charlie finds himself with Mr. Wonka and the rest of his family inside the glass elevator and by some crazy mishap involving one of Charlie’s grandmothers, they all end up in outer space. But no fear, since Mr. Wonka is there! They find themselves looking at the world’s first space hotel, some bewildered astronauts and finally some Vermicious Knids who are set on having them for lunch.

If Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was fun and comforting, I was just kind of …weirded out with the next book. There’s lots of space stuff here, which was fun in itself, but the fun feel of the first book was missing in this book. It felt like all the other adults in this book save for Willy Wonka and Charlie’s Grandpa Joe were all…well, stupid. The Vermicious Knids delivered the right kind of terror, I think, and even I wouldn’t want to be trapped with them. Sure, there’s a smidgen of adventure in the first part, but it didn’t really fly with me. The second part, when they’re back in the factory, worked a bit better for me although I felt like it was just an afterthought in the book. There is a bit of a lesson there somewhere, but it didn’t have the same charm as the first book.

I guess if I were younger I would’ve enjoyed this one too, but honestly, I was just reading it to finish it when I got to the end. Although it had some fun merits, a part of me wished that I just stopped with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now I can’t get the image of those Vermicious Knids out of my head.

Rating:

Adorkable

Adorkable by Sarra ManningAdorkable by Sarra Manning
Publisher: Atom
Number of pages: 387
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

Welcome to the dorkside. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Jeane Smith’s a blogger, a dreamer, a jumble sale queen, CEO of her own lifestyle brand, and has half a million followers on Twitter. Michael Lee’s a star of school, stage, and playing field. A golden boy in a Jack Wills hoodie. They have nothing in common but a pair of cheating exes. So why can’t they stop making out? This novel is about an unlikely relationship, but it’s also about roller derby, dogs on skateboards, dogs on surfboards, dogs doing any form of extreme sport, old skool hip hop, riding your bike downhill really fast, riot grrrl, those boys you want to kiss but punch in the face at the same time, dyeing your hair ridiculous colors just because you can, stitch ‘n’ bitch, the songs that make you dance, the songs that make you cry, being a bad ass, cake, love, death, and everything in between.

* * *

So I got Adorkable based on impulse, and I got it because I was curious with Sarra Manning books. I haven’t found copies of her adult contemporary romances just yet, so I settled for her YA book and one that seemed to be something I would like. Jeane Smith is a blogger and she basically runs her own life with her own brand of quirky style. This makes her quite unpopular, especially with her strong opinions on things, which puts her on the other end of the spectrum from popular boy Michael Lee, who she can’t really stand. When Jeane’s ex-boyfriend and Michael’s ex-girlfriend get together, it was the only thing that they share in common. But is that enough for them to…well, start snogging? Apparently, it is.

So Adorkable. I liked how clear Jeane and Michael’s voices were that even if there were no clear chapter headings or style changes every time a chapter changes, I know who’s speaking. I liked the idea that Jeane makes a living as a blogger (possibly enough to get her one of the homes for sale outer banks if she wanted to) and how she speaks to so many people about her own brand and how she has become the voice of the teens. There were so many fun things in this novel that I can’t help but smile and wonder why those things didn’t happen back when I was Jeane’s age. I could’ve been one of those blogging superstars too, you know? :P There were also many laugh out loud moments, in the book and “awww” moments, especially during that Christmas scene with the Lee family and…well, basically anything that involved Michael because he is kind of adorable.

But…my like for this book kind of ends there. I really wanted to like this book, but somehow most of it just kind of got on my nerves. I think it came to a point when I realized that I was one of those kids that Jeane would be annoyed at if I were in high school with her. I don’t follow trends blindly nor go and be mean on purpose to some classmates that I don’t like, but I feel like I’m not dorky enough to pass by Jeane’s standards. And somehow that made me feel like I’m in the wrong despite the fact that the book was promoting being comfortable with yourself. Maybe Jeane is just not the person I would be friends with if I was back in high school. I’d like to believe that I won’t be judging, but knowing my high school self, I probably will. There were times when I enjoyed and admired Jeane, but I think there were more times when I was just exasperated with her, and I wondered what would be her undoing. Sometimes I think she was trying hard to be too radical and dorky, and I just got so annoyed a how she pushed everyone away.

But maybe that’s the point of that, and the point of the story with how she changed. Still, I felt that when that turning point finally came, it was too late for me to start liking Jeane again. I get all the empowerment with being yourself and daring to be different, but here’s the thing: do you really have to be in everyone’s faces and think who doesn’t dress or think like you so you can be adorkable? Nah. Adorkable is cute, but I think it’s not my kind of book.

Rating:

Other reviews:
Hobbitsies

Insurgent

Insurgent by Veronica RothInsurgent by Veronica Roth
Divergent # 2
HarperTeen, 525 pages

One choice can transform you–or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves–and herself–while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable–and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

I didn’t really love Divergent when I first read it, but I liked it well enough to get the second book in the series. I must admit that I’m really more into it because of the covers because it would look nice on my shelf, but as for knowing what happens next, I wasn’t in a hurry to read it anytime. Call me ambivalent, I guess. That, and I may be one of the few readers who don’t have a fictional crush on Four.

But anyway, Insurgent is the second book in the latest dystopian YA series taking readers by a storm. This book picks up immediately from where the first book ended, so I had to check the last parts of the first book before reading through this one to remember how things ended. The action was there at the start, and I was really interested in knowing what would happen to Tris and Four and the rest.Thing was, I actually forgot who the other characters were, so I kind of groped in the dark as I read on.

I think my favorite part of Insurgent is really getting to know the other factions more. I liked their “field trips” between Amity, Candor, Erudite and even the Factionless. I liked seeing how the other factions worked, and how they supported how their world lives. My issues at how the world like this can exist that I mentioned in the first book still remain, but I guess I’m more forgiving this time around because I was curious about how their world operated. We see more of the villain and how cunning she is…but also, she didn’t give much dangerous vibes than I expected. She’s just…smart, but dangerous? Nope, didn’t feel like it. There were a lot of betrayals in this book though, and it was hard to know who to really believe in as the story unfolds.

My main issue with Insurgent is really its length. It felt so long, but there were too little things happening! Divergent had me glued to the pages with all the exciting things, but the sequel kind of fell flat with that. I felt that it went on too long when some scenes could have been cut, or shortened. Perhaps it was written that way to show more of the world that Tris lives in, or fine, to give way to introduce the factions more, but I think it could have been made shorter. I remember coming to a point where I was almost skimming the pages because I wanted to get to the exciting parts. While I did like knowing more about the factions, I can’t help but wish it hurried with the action scenes in the end. Case in point: this was my favorite part in the book, but see that it happens in p. 440, where one would normally expect more exciting things to be happening in a 500+ page book:

Of course, this lukewarm reaction could be because I was reading an equally long book while I was reading this one, so I could be just in the middle of a slump and I was feeling impatient.

I did like Insurgent‘s ending though, and it had that second-book-in-trilogy-cliffhanger ending that I kind of expected, like how Mira Grant did it with Deadline. The ending feels like a game-changer and I am curious with how Veronica Roth will run away with this one. Overall, I liked Insurgent but not as much as I enjoyed the first book. I will still read the last book, just to satisfy my curiosity…but I think I’ll just borrow the next book instead of just buying one for my own. Unless of course the cover convinces me otherwise, that is.

Rating:

My copy: hardcover, bought from Fully Booked

Other reviews:
reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac
The Book Smugglers

Minis: Required Reading for August

Still working through my review backlog, so I thought — let’s do a Minis post again! I don’t know if I should make this a habit, but I’m making it a sort of special case for August’s reading list so I can get them all down in one go. I’m efficient that way. (And also maybe a bit lazy. :p)

On another note: I was supposed to include the review of Noli Me Tangere in this post, but it isn’t short anymore, so I will reserve that for another post. :)

Paper Cuts by Pam PastorPaper Cuts: Dodging Deadlines, Celebrity run-ins and Other stories I told the Internet by Pam Pastor
Publisher: Anvil
Number of pages: 169
My copy: paperback, bought from National Bookstore

Paper Cuts is a collection of stories from my crazy life, what happens between deadlines.

* * *

I got this book a year ago during the book launch, not because I knew the author or I was even really remotely interested — I got this simply because I wanted to support local authors and their work. Of course, with the not-so-high interest level, I pushed this down my TBR until I finally pulled it out so I can finally read it. Paper Cuts is a collection of stories from journalist/writer Pam Pastor based on her adventures in her “crazy life”. I liked the idea, given that I’m a blogger myself, although I doubt that my life is as crazy as hers.

I enjoyed Paper Cuts for the most part, especially the ones where the author shared anecdotes about her family. There’s nothing like crazy family stories to set the tone of a non-fiction book. I also liked her crazy commuting/cab stories because I share the same things too. However…my enjoyment kind of stopped there. After some time, I just couldn’t relate much to the other parts of the book. It feels like maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I wanted to have the same adventures as she did — meet different celebrities, go around the world for her job and party when there’s time — but I’m actually quite happy with my own life. These stories were good to read, but it’s not something that I would probably gush about, unless they were my own experiences, that is. But knowing (boring) old me, I don’t think I’ll even reach as many crazy experiences like that.

It’s not a bad book, per se. The writing was very witty and again, there were several stories that made me chuckle, but I was a bit apathetic for the rest of the stories. It’s just one of those books that I am not a part of the intended audience. But you know what, maybe that’s why I haven’t heard of the author until her book came out — maybe it’s because we’re just in entirely different circles. Overall, it’s an okay book.

Rating:

Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin by Bob OngLumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin by Bob Ong
Publisher: Visprint
Number of pages: 186
My copy: paperback, gift from KD

Mula sa kasumpa-sumpang kahirapan at kalunos-lunos na kaignorantehan sa mundong kanyang kinagisnan, namulat si Marie sa tunay na mukha ng matamis at mapapakasakit na pag-ibig.

Ngunit makakayanan niya ba ang mga hamon ng bukas?

Ano ang kanyang magiging kapalaran?

Huwag na huwag palalampasin ang mga tagpo ngayong gabi sa telesineryenobela na kumpleto sa mga pang-aapi, paghihiganti, impostor, amnesia, kasal at diary!

* * *

Bob Ong was a staple among my friends in college, because he provided us with quick and funny reads that keeps us afloat during stressful school days. I guess reading his books has become a habit that I haven’t shaken yet, that’s why I wanted to read his latest book, Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin (loose translation: Stay Away From Me). The title is a play on one old Filipino song Lumayo Ka Man Sa Akin by Rodel Naval that eventually became a title of a Filipino noontime soap opera. The book is written in script format with three stories, one that plays on the cliches found in Filipino action movies, Filipino horror movies and finally, Filipino romance movies. Since this book is written for Filipinos, it’s going to be hard to explain these cliches to foreigners, so let’s kind of leave it at that. Anyway, as with every Bob Ong book, the book pokes fun at different things in the Filipino society, too, with the purpose of using humor to make the readers thing.

This book reminds me of those old gag skits I used to write for my org in school. And that’s the only charm of the book. Overall, I had the huge urge to just chuck the book and not finish it. There were some funny parts, yes, but it wasn’t the old funny thing that Bob Ong used to write. More often than not, the jokes fall flat and are just plain corny. It’s not that I didn’t get it — I just didn’t appreciate it, I guess.

So it’s either I’ve outgrown Bob Ong books, or this is just blah. Maybe a little of both? Or I guess I just kind of miss the ABNKKBSNPLAKo and Stainless Longganisa days.

Rating:

Required Reading: August

The Boyfriend Thief

The Boyfriend Thief by Snana NorrisThe Boyfriend Thief by Shana Norris
Publisher: Independent
Number of pages: 188
My copy: ebook, review copy from the author

Avery James has her life planned out: this summer she’ll work with a humanitarian program in Costa Rica, next year she’ll graduate at the top of her class, and after that, college and medical school. Perfect, planned, total order.

The only problem: getting the rest of the money she needs for the trip before the deadline. Hannah Cohen, her biggest competition for the valedictorian title, makes an unexpected offer: If Avery can win over Zac Greeley and make him break up with Hannah before the end of the school year, a check for five hundred dollars is all hers. Faced with the prospect of spending yet another summer working as a giant hot dog, it’s an offer Avery can’t refuse.

Zac is nothing like Avery expected. Within his chaotic world of midnight slushie runs and spontaneous dance parties, her total order is quickly falling apart while Hannah seems poised to get everything she wants. But just how much is Avery willing to give up for the perfect, planned life?

* * *

Avery has her eyes set on her life plan: she plans to attend a summer program in Costa Rica, graduate the top of her class during senior year and then head for medical school. She wasn’t going to let anything get in her way…except her dreams hang on a very critical issue: she needed more money to get into the program in Costa Rica. Then her biggest rival for the valedictorian position and ex-best friend Hannah gives her an offer: she will pay Avery five hundred dollars if she can make Zac Greeley break up with Hannah. Avery accepts the offer, only to be surprised that Zac is nothing like she expected.

I read The Boyfriend Thief by Shana Norris expecting that there would be two girls trying to steal a guy, or at least a girl falling for a guy who has a girlfriend and the girl trying to steal him. You know, the kind you watch on TV shows that make you curse whoever you don’t like and wish for the guy to end up with the girl you most identified with? Well, it wasn’t at all like that, and I know I should have read the summary more so I wouldn’t bethat surprised.

But it’s not a bad surprise anyway. The Boyfriend Thief is a fun, independently published contemporary YA novel about a girl who likes being in control. Avery is a girl who needs to have everything in control, but not really without good reason. When Avery’s mom left them, she took control of their household, thinking that if she has everything under her control, then no one would leave anymore. I used to be/still am a control freak so I know how that feels, but I also know how hard it is when things do not go the way I want to. In a way I sympathized with Avery with this, and I was really worried at what could happen with the fallout.

Here’s the thing, though — as much as I can relate to Avery, I don’t think I really like her. I don’t think I would be good friends with her because she can be so uptight! I’d like to believe that I’m not like that anymore (dear friends, I’m not, right? :D) and I figure that if I met Avery, I wouldn’t really want to be friends with her. :-s That doesn’t mean that she’s a bad character though — I think this reaction is kind of a testament that she was well-written that I get this reaction. On the upside, her growth in the book felt real, and I found myself cheering for her when she finally loosened up.

The other characters that needs to be noted are Zac and Hannah. Zac seemed like such a darling. I liked him and his craziness, even if his spontaneity would probably drive me nuts, too. I liked his intensity and his chemistry with Avery. I wished there was more to Hannah, though, like a bit more dimension in her character? She was mean and calculating, but I wished there was some kind of redemption for her in the end, instead of being a “scorned woman” character.

Overall, I liked The Boyfriend Thief enough. It was a fun read (although not so quick, because I think I was reading Fellowship of the Ring while I was also reading this), and it’s also quite well written. I learned several things in this — not about stealing boyfriends, but how sometimes, we just have to let go of control and let life happen because sometimes it just works better that way. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Amaterasu Reads