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

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:

From This Day Forward

From This Day Forward by Marla MinianoFrom This Day Forward by Marla Miniano
Publisher: Summit Books

Number of pages: 144
My copy: signed paperback, bought from Book Sale

When a couple gets married, it isn’t just their lives that are thrown into chaos.

For Nicholas and Nala’s wedding, there’s the mother of the bride who is forced to face her failed marriage; there mother of the groom, who revisits her past — an old love; the bride’s best friend who has lost the only boy she thinks she will ever love and with him, all her happiness; the bride’s cousin who fooled around with her boyfriend’s best friend (who inconveniently turns out to be the groom); and the groom’s sister who cannot understand her brother’s choice of a future wife.

Surrounding the bride and groom’s happiness are the heartache, joys, hopes, dreams and realizations of the people who care about them. It makes you think: does everybody get a chance at happily ever after?

* * *

When a couple gets married, it’s easy to think that only their lives will change since they’re really the star of the wedding with dance gifts and all that, and the marriage that comes after. It’s easy to think that way since all spotlight is turned to them, but have we ever considered what happens to the lives of the people around them? Case in point: one of my closest friend’s sister got married last December, and she told me that she and their youngest sister spent the next few days crying because they missed their sister so much. You’d think the sister who got married was all happy because she was now living with her husband, but no — the married sister was also crying her eyes out of homesickness and separation anxiety for the people at home.

There wasn’t much drama in my home when my brother got married, although it did take me a little time to get used to the fact that I can’t just barge into the condo where my brother lives anytime I want, or he can’t stay too late at our house because he has another home now. Oh, don’t get me wrong — I love my sister-in-law and there’s no discord between us. I just needed some time to adjust to the fact that my brother’s priorities had changed, which meant ours had to as well.

This is what Marla Miniano’s latest book, From This Day Forward, talks about — how the lives of the people around the couple are also changed once two people decide to get married. Similar to one of her previous books, Table for TwoFrom This Day Forward contains interconnected stories that revolve around a major catalyst: main characters Nala and Nicholas’ decision to get married. There’s the story of Nala’s mom when Nala tells her that she was engaged, and Nicholas’ mom who goes off to see an old flame after finding out about the engagement. There’s Nala’s best friend, who lost the guy she loved and could never get him back, to Nala’s cousin who had a complicated relationship with her boyfriend’s best friend…who is also incidentally, the groom. The stories are told in different formats and styles — the straightforward storytelling, third and second person POV, poetry, letters and diary entries — but all revolving around the two main characters, their families and their friends.

If you’ve read Marla’s Table for Two, From This Day Forward has a pretty similar structure, but instead of absolutely random characters who have little connections, we have a cast that have better connections with each other. I liked that about this book, and I felt that it was easier to get into the story of these people because of the closer connections. As usual, there’s a certain elegance with the way Marla writes, each word chosen with care to deliver the right punch, but not too flowery that it feels too dramatic. I reveled in these words, and the characters jumped out at me, almost like they were real people instead of just people from a 144-page book. It feels like readers will relate to a bit of each story here, or maybe even find a friend in one of the characters.

I liked From This Day Forward a bit more than I liked Table for Two because of the stronger connections, although I felt that the last story could have tied up the loose ends from the other characters better. But if we were to be realistic, anyway, when did loose ends in life ever tie up neatly? I liked how Marla ended the book with a quote from her first novel, almost like she was paying a homage of sorts to where she started:

Matter occupies space, and I know — I guess I always have — that I can only have space for the things that matter.

After reading this book, I realized that I have become a Marla Miniano completist too. :) I guess it was the right timing too because soon after I got this, I met her in person when I attended her Letters Out Loud event and had my copy signed:

With Marla, and my signed book. :D

With Marla, and my signed book. :D

So if you’re looking for a quick, romantic and sentimental read, or if you have someone close to you who’s tying the knot soon and you’re feeling some kind of jitters but don’t know why, then you probably want to pick up a copy of From This Day Forward. :)

Rating:

My copy: paperback, bought from Book Sale

Other reviews:
Goodreads

Let It Snow

Let It Snow

Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green
and Lauren Myracle
Publisher: Speak
Number of pages: 352
My copy: paperback, bought from National Bookstore

Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors–John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle–the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

* * *

The Philippines celebrates the longest Christmas season ever, with Christmas unofficially starting once the -ber months come along, and all the way to mid-January, as indicated in the Catholic Church’s Liturgical Calendar. I think it’s because we just really like celebrating Christmas here — and that’s also why I am posting this review weeks after Christmas season is over (but really, I was just too busy so I only got to write this review now).

I’ve been meaning to read Let It Snow for a while now, but every time I intended to get it, it was always out of stock. When the new version was released, I got my copy, and told myself I’ll make it my holiday read for 2012. I mean, when is the perfect time to read this but you know, Christmas? Let It Snow is a book with three holiday romances, with each story intersecting a little bit with the next. The first story, The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson, had main character Jubilee in a train on her way to her grandparents in Florida after her parents were jailed for a Flobie Village Convention riot. The train was traveling in the middle of a snowstorm which causes them to stop and get stranded in Gracetown, where she meets Stuart who gives her a home for the night. In John Green’s A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle, Tobin, the Duke and JP were summoned from Tobin’s house where they were happily watching movies from Tobin’s dvd rack to a race to the Waffle House in the middle of a snowstorm, and it involved a game of Twister, lots of snow, twins and lots of running to get to the finish line. And finally, we meet Addie in The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle, who’s deep in her own drama on Christmas after she gets ditched by her ex-boyfriend on their make-up date. When her friends called her self-absorbed, she tries to prove them wrong by volunteering to pick up a teacup-sized pig for her best friend, which led to meeting the person responsible for her break-up, a pig buyer, as well as Jubilee and Tobin, where it all goes down in Gracetown’s local Starbucks.

Let It Snow was fun, if only because of the romantic Christmas-y vibe. I’ve read/listened to just one Maureen Johnson and I liked it enough, so I was expecting to fairly enjoy her story in the book. I did, except maybe I didn’t really buy how fast Jubilee “fell”. And I couldn’t help but think of what happens next for them after the story. But it was fun, and I liked Jubilee and the quirkiness of the family and the good back story each character had. John Green’s story was the highlight of the book, with the most quotable lines in all. It gave me the warm fuzzies that I expected, and I loved the entire adventure in the snow at night, the craziness and the conversations and how it all unfolded in the end. I saw what would happen in the end way before I got there, but even if it was a bit predictable in that sense, I still liked how it all unfolded and it left me smiling for the “happy middles” when I finished it. I’ve never read any Lauren Myracle, so I have no benchmark for this story. I liked it okay enough, although it didn’t have the same warm fuzzies that the first two stories had. I honestly felt sorry for Addie, but I also saw her friends’ points when they were talking to her. I liked it when the characters from the other stories finally showed up at the end, although I thought it fell a bit flat, like the characters from the other stories were not the same ones I’ve read earlier. The last story could have been stronger, I guess, or maybe it just paled in comparison because the first two stories were good.

So, Let It Snow wasn’t exactly the most amazing holiday read, but I enjoyed reading it. It wasn’t as fun and engaging as Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (which I reread after reading this one), but Let It Snow was light and fun enough to read during the busyness of the holiday season. :)

Rating:

Required Reading: December

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Rabbitin

2012 Book Report

We’re down to less than 30 hours left for 2012, and I think I’ll spend my last day being sappy/sentimental about the last day of a very good year. I also feel that I may not be able to finish another book until tomorrow, so here’s my 2012 book report. :) How was my 2012 reading year?

Image from we heart it

Image from we heart it

Total books read: 103
Total pages read:
27,101
Total print books: 69
Total ebooks:
32
Total audiobooks: 2
Total rereads: 8
* Includes 160 pages from Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares and 15 pages from Life of Pi

Written by male authors: 38*
Written by female authors: 67*
* Books written by a male and a female author count twice

Reviews written: 90

Ratings:
5 stars – 16
4 stars – 51
3 stars – 28
2 stars – 7
1 star – 1
Did not Finish – 0

2011 Challenges Status:
2 out of 4 books for Chubby Chunkster Challange
3 out of 5 classics for 2012
26 out of 20 books for 20 Filipino Books
8 books for The Reread Factor
28 books for Required Reading

Compared to 2011, all my numbers seem lower, except for the Filipino books. I feel a bit disappointed that I only got to 103 books — my original unwritten goal (at least, my first Goodreads challenge) was 150, but sometime around middle of the year, I started lagging behind. Then I lowered the total number to 120, and then finally lowered it to a solid 100. Oh, and I hardly dented my TBR — I didn’t even make it reach less than 100 books! I think my lowest is 115? I didn’t buy as many books this year, but somehow, I think I acquired more! Strange, isn’t it?

But even if I read fewer books this year, and I read slower now, I think it’s still a good reading year. I read 12 books for our book discussions, and 2/3 of it are books that I normally do not read. I’ve explored so many genres and authors this year that I have started moving away from my usual YA fare, and I have actually started roaming around the other shelves in the bookstores that I normally ignore. I am really excited for this, because I feel like I’m growing up as a reader. Have you ever felt that, too?

As for other bookish things, there’s the United We Read ReaderCon and the very bookish TFG year that made 2012 a very, very bookish year indeed. I kind of sucked at blogging, so I’m sorry about that. There are just some times when blogging has to take a bit of a back seat, but I promise to try harder next year. Oh, and I also said goodbye to Astrid the Kindle 2, but I’m getting a new reading toy very soon (Paperwhite ♥) and I cannot wait to read more books on that!

So that’s 2012 in reading. :) I have about a third of my 2013 reading plan somewhere in my head, because a part of me likes winging things, so I may leave some of my book selections next year to chance. Or, my mood.

I hope you all had a great 2012, and here’s to more bookish adventures in 2013! Happy new year, everyone!