10 for 2010: Favorite Male Characters

Favorite Male Characters

We kick-off the 10 for 2010 series with my Favorite Male Characters in 2010. I like strong, male characters in books, but by strong, I don’t mean macho or all gung-ho and just masculine. I like guys that leave an impact — guys who are not afraid to admit their weaknesses, guys who aren’t afraid to cry, guys who know how to respect the people around them and still stand up for themselves or their family when needed. In short, I like my male characters real, as real as they can be in fiction.

Not all of these characters listed below are the main heroes. Some of them are sidekicks or supporting characters, and they deserve as much credit as the heroes do. The heroes won’t be heroes without them!

And now my 10 Favorite Male Characters from 2010 — these came from books I read this year, and in no particular order.

1. Happyface (Happyface by Stephen Emond) – He has no face except for a happy face. He’s probably one of the most real characters I’ve read this year, and I cannot stop expressing my love for this guy. He’s just…aww. To quote my review:

Happyface is the dorky boy in school who you would never have a crush on, but would be really good friends with. He’s the guy who’d draw stuff for you, join you in shopping and hand you a Christmas gift that he made himself, looking all awkward and blushing. He’s the guy you will call when you’re dating someone and you need someone to encourage you or tell you that everything will work out — heck, he may even help you work things out with the guy. Happyface is the guy who is secretly in love with you, and you may never ever know because he’s too shy to tell you about it.

2. Radar (Paper Towns by John Green) – one of my favorite John Green sidekicks. I love that he’s black, and I love that he’s the ultimate geek in their little trio. I also love that Radar’s parents have the biggest collection of black Santas in the world. Radar is the type of friend who you’d normally forget, and he knows it, but when you need him, he will be there. Q is lucky to have him as a friend.

3. Jinn (As You Wish by Jackson Pearce) – for a paranormal creature, Jinn is not perfect. I really liked how the author wrote him, and how I was given an opportunity to see his side of the romance in the story, instead of just seeing everything from the girl’s side. Jinn is snarky, sarcastic and vulnerable at the same time. I rooted for him from the start all the way to the end. :)

4. Curran (Kate Andrews series by Ilona Andrews) – Ah Curran. I wouldn’t have discovered him if it weren’t for Chachic and Michelle pushing me to get the books. And I am very, very thankful for giving in because Curran is awesome. How do I describe the Beast Lord more accurately? I don’t have the words. Let’s just say he’s the guy who’d go through hell just to save his Mate. Who would not like that? I cannot wait for Magic Slays.

5. Bennett (Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick) – Another sidekick that won my heart. Bennett is your standard sci-fi geek who has a blog, a Twitter and is normally there to annoy the heck out of other people. However, he’s also the guy who you can count on to be there when things get ugly. I liked how complex his character was in Tweet Heart, and that’s saying a lot because that’s a book written in tweets and emails. :P

6. Shaun Mason (Feed by Mira Grant) – I love Shaun because I love brothers. And I like that while he can be reckless, he’s also very loyal to his sister, Georgia. This is a guy character who supports the female character and he still shines with his own wit and personality. I cannot wait to read more about him in the next book, Deadline.

7. Arnold Spirit / Junior (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexey) – As I mentioned in the review, Arnold reminds me of Happyface and that was already an ultimate plus for me. I liked that he fought for what he wanted even if he knew no one really believed in him. I liked how he let things roll off his back and he keeps on standing up again. We could all learn a lot from Arnold Spirit. :)

8. Hassan (An Abundance of Katherines by John Green) – I am conflicted between Hassan and Radar as the best John Green sidekick, but who says I cannot love both. Just like Radar, Hassan is funny and loyal. I love that he’s Lebanese and even if Colin has been ditching him for all the Katherines, he stuck by him and he’s always there to pick him up after a break up.

9. Brigan (Fire by Kristin Cashore) – I loved Brigan the moment he first showed up in Fire. He’s the kind of guy that you’d initially be intimidated with, but you’ll also find him quite attractive. He’s the kind of man you know you could trust with your life, and would do everything in his power to keep his loved ones safe.

1o. Etienne St. Clair (Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins) – Etienne St. Clair is probably the most popular guy character in the contemporary world now, ever since Stephanie Perkins’ debut novel came out. And who wouldn’t like him? He’s funny, he’s witty, and he’s wonderfully imperfect. His British accent really helps up the hotness factor, too. :P

Runners-up:

Oh, and you do know I’m giving away some of my favorite books in 2010 in my Anniversary Giveaway, right? Win awesome books such as Stephen Emond’s Happyface — this happy/sad graphic novel like book has one of the most real heroes I’ve ever read, and it deserves more attention! Every comment you leave is one entry — the more comments you leave, the more entries you get! :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes!

10 for 2010

I love count downs. Don’t you? Okay, this isn’t really a count down, but I like writing best-of lists, even if writing them is always a hard thing to do. But they’re always fun to do, right?

2010 year was an awesome year in reading and blogging, so for the next few days leading to the new year, I’ll be posting some of my bests for 2010, specifically:

  • 10 Favorite Male Characters
  • 10 Favorite Female Characters
  • 10 Favorite Couples
  • 10 Favorite Authors
  • 10 Most Anticipated Books in 2011
  • 10 Blogging and Reading Highlights
  • 10 Favorite Reads in 2010

I know, that’s a lot of 10’s, right? Please note that all of these are subjective, so I’m sure not all of you may agree. Are you writing a Top 10 list of your own or something for 2010? If you are, do share — I would love to read them. :)

Oh, and you do know I’m giving away some of my favorite books in 2010 in my Anniversary Giveaway, right? Win awesome books such as Justina Chen Headley’s North of Beautiful, one of my favorite contemporary YA reads in 2010! Every comment you leave is one entry — the more comments you leave, the more entries you get! :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes!

The Chronicles of Narnia # 2: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia # 2
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 206
My copy: paperback from Scholastic Book Fair

What begins as a simple game of hide-and-seek quickly turns into the adventure of a lifetime when Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy walk through the wardrobe and into the land of Narnia. There they find a cold, snow-covered land frozen into eternal winter by the evil White Witch. All who challenge her rule are turned into stone. Narnia, once filled with all manner of Talking Beasts, Dwarfs, Giants, and Fauns is now a dark, joyless wasteland.

The children can only hope that Aslan, the Great Lion, will return to Narnia and restore beauty and peace to the land. But will the power of Aslan be enough to conquer the dark magic of the White Witch?

* * *

What better book to read during the holidays than C.S. Lewis’ classic, The Chronicles of Narnia? While I was lamenting at how I never read The Giver back in high school, I was also sad that The Chronicles of Narnia were never required reading for school, too. I’ve heard of the series for a long time now, but I never really knew of the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe until senior year in college, right before the movie showed. I was already nineteen then! Why was this never a part of my childhood? I am glad that Scholastic had a book fair at my office a couple of years later — I got the entire Narnia boxed set for only Php 500 (around USD 11).

Still, it took me a while to read it, and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I decided to go on a Narnia trip for Christmas. Like I said, what better book to read during the holidays, right?

In case you were like me who’s never read this book or watched the movie or even a stage play of this, here’s a quick recap: siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy were sent to stay at a Professor’s house, and during one game of hide and seek, Lucy stumbles upon the land of Narnia through a wardrobe. She makes friends with a faun, Mr. Tumnus, and she finds out that Narnia has been stuck in winter for a long time because of a White Witch Jadis. Later on the siblings end up all going to Narnia, and they find out that they are the fulfillment of a prophecy and the Great Lion Aslan is on his way back to Narnia to restore the land.

I first “read” this book through an audiobook before the movie was shown in the cinemas. I loved the audiobook. Then I watched the movie and I loved it too — not caring if there were any differences from what I “read”. I think I loved it because it was a Christian novel, and I truly related to what Edmund did and what Aslan did for him. Aslan became one of my favorite fictional characters, and I always loved it whenever he shows up on the movies (but that may be because Aslan is voiced by Liam Neeson).

Reading the book for the first time reminded me so much of all the things I loved from the audio book and the movie, and maybe even more. Since the entire Narnia series is written as children’s books, the text is lyrical and there’s a whimsical feel in the story, almost like when I was reading the fairy tale books when I was a kid. I think the only way to describe this book is it’s magical. I don’t know if it’s just Christmas, or if it’s because I’m more receptive to fantasy now than I was a year ago, but I really enjoyed reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I think that if I read this as a kid, I may not have been able to appreciate it as much as I do now, so maybe reading it this late in my life is a good thing. :)

I don’t think I’d have the time to read the rest of the Narnia books before the year ends, but I will finish reading them soon. :) When I have children, I will make sure to have copies of these books at home so they can read it and visit Narnia anytime they want to.

And one more thing: show of hands to anyone who can relate to Edmund? I know I do.

Rating:

Cover and Blurb: Goodreads

Other reviews:
Bookie Woogie
Becky’s Book Reviews

Don’t forget about my ongoing Anniversary Giveaway! Every comment you leave is one entry — the more comments you leave, the more entries you get! :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes!

Have a blessed Christmas Eve everyone! :) Merry Christmas!

Christmas Cake

It’s two days before Christmas, and this has been the craziest Christmas season I’ve ever had. For some reason, everyone’s just out these past few days, and it’s crazy on my part of the world. Not to mention that a friend is also getting married today, and sometimes I can’t help but wish they picked another time to get married because this year’s Christmas rush isn’t that kind.

But I shouldn’t be focusing on those things because…well, it’s Christmas! And despite the Christmas rush, it’s still the most wonderful time of the year. :)

I can’t really remember how I got to this tradition, but since 2006, I’ve always made sure that there’s a cake on our Christmas dinner (we call it noche buena in the Philippines). Our nochebuena has been fairly simple for the past few years. We’re a pretty small family, anyway, so there’s no need for too much food on the table. We usually have a bucket of KFC chicken, a pasta dish and one viand and some rice. We’d bake some brownies too, but we hardly eat them because when we bake brownies, we give them away. You can only bake so many brownies before you get sick of them, and eating them would surely tip the scales. ;) But anyway, it’s pretty simple, but one Christmas, I brought home a cake. You see, Christmas really isn’t just eating or gift-giving, but a birthday. It is Jesus’ birthday, after all.

Sometimes we all get so caught up in the Christmas rush that we forget the reason for the season. That phrase, “reason for the season” is actually becoming cliche already, but I try to remember that every year. It’s easy to be excited about giving and receiving gifts and all the parties, but I always try to slow down as Christmas approaches and remember why I am celebrating in the first place. And I know a cake is just a small thing, but I always make sure there’s one on our table for Christmas, to celebrate the birthday. And I don’t know about you, but birthdays are always more fun with cake, right? :)

And here’s a story. I wrote this a couple of years ago, about a group of friends having their Christmas dinner. And there’s some cake. And maybe a little romance. :) Wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a blessed and merry Christmas!

* * *

CAKE

I don’t know why I allowed myself to endure what I had just gone through. I like shopping, yes, but shopping when everyone else in the world also has the same idea and this late in the season? Let’s just say it wasn’t my best idea. This is one of the times online shopping should have saved me, but contrary to popular belief, you can’t always find what you need on the Internet.

“I swear, I am never doing that again!”

Seven pairs of eyes turned to look at me as I entered my Pia’s Kitchen. Jostling with the crowd and lining up in all the stores cost me so much time that I had to resort to buying the nicest paper bags I can find to put everything I bought in and going straight to my best friend’s restaurant where my friends were waiting for me for dinner.

“What happened to you, Ruth?” Naomi asked. She and Ian stood up to help me carry all the packages I carried in my arms. My sister took the paper bags that hung from my fingers and put it on the table where all other brightly wrapped packages lay, while Ian took the tray of lasagna I was carrying and brought it to the table where all our other friends sat.

“Shopping. Crowds. That’s what happened,” I said, dropping onto the free seat. I sighed with relief as my aching feet finally got to rest. “I will never, ever do that again.”

“You always say that,” my best friend and the owner of the restaurant, Pia, teased.

“I am serious this time,” I declared. Naomi returned to the table with a glass of water which I gratefully received.

“Bad crowds huh?” Carol said with a grin.

Continue Reading →

An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Publisher: Penguin USA
Number of pages: 272
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.

Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself by Printz medalist John Green, acclaimed author of Looking for Alaska.

* * *

When the need to read contemporary novels hit me, it stays and it stays until the need decides it’s satisfied. And what better book to fill that contemporary need than something written by John Green?

I was really planning to read John Green’s books in order of publication, but Paper Towns had to come first due to an insistent friend and because I covered that with plastic first. I didn’t mind, although I was kind of wary thinking of how this book would fare against the rest, or how the other books would fare after I read this one, given the John Green formula. True to that formula, An Abundance of Katherines has the usual elements: a nerdy/loserish (by popularity’s standards)/socially awkward guy, a mysterious girl, a trusty and equally nerdy/loserish (by popularity’s standards)/socially awkward sidekick, and a car. But that’s when the similarities end, because this book is probably is indeed the funniest, quirkiest, and the happiest among all Green books.

Colin Singleton is an anagram loving child prodigy who has only one friend and strangely a lot of girlfriends, all named Katherines. After he gets dumped by the 19th Katherine, he sets off on a road trip with his Lebanese friend, Hassan. The two find themselves in Gutshot, Tennessee, where they meet Hollis and Lindsey, and find a job gathering stories from locals for some project. Colin finds himself consumed by trying to prove his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which would predict his relationship with the next Katherine, and along the way (just like the other John Green books), our hero finds out more about himself.

The best thing about An Abundance of Katherines is how quirky the entire book is. It’s not just the characters or the story but how it was also written. Math geeks would definitely be happy about the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, with graphs and whatnot inside the book. I love the little footnotes on the pages that translates some of the words Colin and Hassan say, as well as little anecdotes about Colin and his own quirkiness. If you don’t like math, well, don’t worry either. I’m pretty sure you will still enjoy this book because you don’t really need math to understand the graphs or equations. You don’t really need to understand them, anyway,  but if you’re like me who doesn’t really like math but want to understand things, there’s an appendix right at the end of the book that explains the equations and graphs. It reminds me a bit of analytic geometry in high school, but in a more fun scale. Why didn’t we have this book back then?

I love that this book not only talks about relationships and dumping, but it also manages to touch a bit on reading, books and telling stories — three things I like. I’ve never actually been a Dumpee or a Dumper (that is, in a “proper” relationship sense. By proper, I mean actual real relationships where both parties are in it, and not just one pining after the other, or what I like to call “Almost there, but not quite”. Okay, Dingleberries! :P), so I couldn’t really relate to that, but I like how there were some parts of Colin that I could relate to, particularly in books. I really liked one of his last Eureka moments, particularly this quote:

Even if it’s a dumb story, telling it changes other people just the slightest little bit, just as living the story changes me. An infinitesimal change. And that infinitesimal change ripples outward – ever smaller but everlasting. I will get forgotten, but the stories will last. And so we all matter – maybe less than a lot, but always more than some.

This really makes me wonder why I waited so long to read John Green’s books. But no matter, I’m glad I read them now. This makes me want to go to the book store and search for his works (namely Let It Snow, Geektastic, 21 Proms, and Will Grayson Will Grayson). More John Green over here, please.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering how this compares to Paper Towns for me? It’s a tie, really. I can’t pick which is better. But An Abundance of Katherines definitely has the happiest ending among all John Green books, so that’s something to keep in mind if you’re wondering which to read first. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Book Harbinger
The Book Smugglers