Little Red Cowboy Hat

Little Miss Red by Robin Palmer

Little Miss Red by Robin Palmer

Sophie Greene gets good grades, does the right thing, and has a boyfriend that her parents — and her younger brother –just love. (Too bad she doesn’t love him.)

Sophie dreams of being more like Devon Deveraux, star of her favorite romance novels, but, in reality, Sophie isn’t even daring enough to change her nail polish.

All of that changes when Sophie goes to Florida to visit her grandma Roz, and she finds herself seated next to a wolfishly good looking guy on the plane. The two hit it off, and before she knows it, Sophie’s living on the edge. But is the drama all it’s cracked up to be?

I think I mentioned it before — I love re-tellings. When I found Robin Palmer’s books one random day at National Bookstore, I knew I had to read them.

Little Miss Red is Robin Palmer’s third fairy tale based novel, and this time, she took the story of Little Red Riding Hood and turned it into a fun and wild and surprising story about love and drama.

Sophie’s tired of her life. She wants to have a more exciting life — something that her favorite novel character Devon Deveraux has. She’s tired of not being able to do what she wants to do because it doesn’t “fit” her, and she wants a more exciting life than she has. When her trip to Mexico with her friends got canceled, Sophie gets sent to Florida to bring a family heirloom to her grandmother. Because of a case of chicken pox caught by her boyfriend, who has pushed the “pause” button in their relationship, Sophie meets Jack, a daring, good looking guy and thinks that finally, she’s getting the adventure she deserves.

Little Miss Red is a fun read, and I really found myself rooting for Sophie all the way. Somehow, I found myself relating to her struggle about drama — I’ve always had a time when I wish that something exciting would happen to my life, but when it finally does happen, I find myself wishing for my life to be boring all over again.

There were times I wanted to slap Sophie silly when she kept on falling for Jack’s charm, even if it was already obvious that he’s just mooching money from her. I knew I would not be surprised if Jack turns out to be a crook all along, but Robin Palmer surprised me with the ending, which just made me feel, well, a bit sorry for someone like Jack.

No more spoilers here now, but I can say that Robin made the story of Little Red Riding Hood a bit more interesting than the old fairy tale, and ended it with a sort of unexpected twist. :) It’s a fun, entertaining read, something I’d recommend to YA and fairy tale lovers out there. And one last thing: I like the overall lesson of Little Miss Red: sometimes, drama is really unnecessary in life. And in love, it’s the boring things that really count in the end.

Oh, and good news to all Robin Palmer fans: she’s going to write another fairy tale retelling, this time, it’s Snow White. Now that is something to look forward to. :D

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 14 out of 100 for 2010

→ Get Little Miss Red by Robin Palmer on Amazon.com
→ Robin Palmer’s website

The Cop and the Blue-Haired Chick

Going Too Far by Jennifer EcholsGoing Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Number of pages:  245
My copy: paperback, bought from National Bookstore

How far would you go?

All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far… and almost doesn’t make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge – and over…

* * *

I’ve read glowing reviews about this book from different book blogs I frequent. Again, I’m sort of kind of hesitant with getting impulse buy books because I’ve had a bit of bad experiences with them. But when I saw this book, I decided to get it. I thought, “Why not?”

I’m just really glad the impulse buy was worth it. :)

Going Too Far is about Meg the rebel and John the cop, who get to spend time together as a punishment to Meg for going to the forbidden railroad tracks. Meg just wants to have fun, and to make the last of her weeks in the small town go by fast, while John is serious about his responsibilities as a cop and has a huge fixation on the railroad tracks. As the two of them spend time together, they get to know more about each other, and yeah, eventually fall in love.

But it’s not a typical boy-meets-girl, Stockholm Syndrome type of story. I’d have to agree with the other reviews I read about this book: it’s a novel full of issues. It’s not really dark/deep issues — they’re real life issues that could happen to anyone, and that explains why Meg and John are doing what they were doing. These issues were slowly fleshed out, in a way that I didn’t see them coming. I had to back up a few lines to make sure I read them right, and then went back to the story, wanting to know more.

While I didn’t stay up late to finish this book in one sitting, I was hooked in the story. I wanted to know what happened, I want to know how they’d end up together, and how they would settle the leaving thing. The ending was satisfying, and hopeful, and you know things will somehow work out for the both of them.

Oh, and even if this is an “issue book”, it was refreshing to read that it didn’t have too dark/issue-dwelling tones. I’m not sure how to describe it, but the storytelling did not depress me even as I found out the characters’ issues.  There were certain dialogues in the novel that reminded me that it’s a young adult novel, and it somehow lightened the overall mood.

Going Too Far is a good book — it’s not exactly a favorite, but I do recommend this book for those who want good, realistic teen fiction.

Rating:

A Trip to Neverland

One of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid was the anime Peter Pan, as pictured above. I remember watching that show religiously in ABS-CBN everyday, and especially the extended story, the one with Luna and the mirror and the dark queen. Anyone who was a child during the 90’s surely knows this show, right?

I know not all of that cartoon came from the book, but I was curious to read the book nonetheless. What’s cool with classics is that there are free ebooks around, so I downloaded an ebook of Peter Pan and started reading it in between Persuasion.

My first impression with Peter Pan is that it was an easier read compared to the other classics I have read. I didn’t have to read it slowly to understand the text, unlike how I read the other books. There was a certain playfulness in the way the book was written that made it fit the characters and the nature of the story, of making believe. I found the characters endearing, especially Tootles, in all his awkwardness.

However…I don’t know, it’s just an okay book for me. I liked it a lot, but that’s it. It didn’t give me a huge sense of amazement, unlike when I read an Austen or To Kill a Mockingbird. Maybe it’s because I read it from an ebook? Or maybe because I need to believe in fairies and Neverland more? Or maybe it was because I was trying to make sense of the story too much — is Neverland all in their imaginations? Is Peter just a figment of all of their imaginations, including Mr. and Mrs. Darling?

Yeah, I probably did too much over thinking again with this. :P I don’t mean to be cynical, maybe a re-read would change my mind. Or maybe, Peter Pan is the type of book that I’d really rather watch on TV.

Rating:

Kapitan Sino (Bob Ong)

Kapitan Sino by Bob Ong

Kapitan Sino by Bob Ong
Visprint, 166 pages

THERE IS SOMETHING STRANGE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.b

Naunahan na naman ang mga pulis sa pagtugis sa mga holdaper ng isang jewelry shop. Bago noon, may iba na ring nakahuli sa isang carnaper; sumaklolo sa mga taong nasa itaas ng nasusunog na building; nagligtas sa sanggol na hinostage ng ama; tumulong para makatawid sa kalsada ang isnag matanda; tumiklo sa mga miyembro ng Akyat Bahay; sumagip sa mga mag-anak na tinagay ng tubig-baha; nag-landing ng maayos sa isang Boeing 747 na nasiraan ng engine; at nagpasabog s aisang iganteng robot. Pero sino ang taong ‘yon? Maliligtas nya ba sila Aling Baby? At ano nga ba talaga ang sabon ng mga artista?

Bob Ong is known for his funny yet thought provoking books about the life of a Filipino. I’m sure you’ve heard of him at one point, or have received a forwarded email regarding his little thoughts on life and love (ex. “Kung maghihintay ka nang lalandi sayo, walang mangyayari sa buhay mo. Dapat lumandi ka din.” Don’t wait for someone to flirt with you. Learn to flirt as well.) and I know that most people have certainly agreed with a lot of what he has written.

Kapitan Sino is Ong’s 7th book, and it takes us in an adventure in the town of Pelaez. There we find Rogelio, an ordinary man who makes a living by fixing different appliances in their shop named “Hasmin’s Sari-Sari Store” that they’ve planned to change but never got around to. He lives his life one day at at time, enjoying his little jokes with the kids who insist on buying candies at their sari-sari store turned electronic repair shop, listening to his neighbors Aling Precious and Aling Baby best each other and sing to the different songs he hears on the radio. All this changes one day when his friend Bok-Bok visits his place and they both find out Rogelio has super powers.

Kapitan Sino was born, and from there, Rogelio started saving other people’s lives, disguised in a silver costume and helmet that his blind friend and childhood love Tessa made. Pretty soon, Kapitan Sino was everywhere — on the children that play along the streets pretending to be the hero and the villains, on snacks, gums, newspaper, radio, TV. Everyone was thankful for Kapitan Sino’s heroism, and Rogelio was just happy that he was able to help. This was up until his encounter with the town’s monster, which he defeats but then fails to save someone that mattered to him.

Kapitan Sino is a lot like his previous book MacArthur, but a bit more fun. The thing I did not like about MacArthur was how depressing it was, and I didn’t want to read it afterwards. Kapitan Sino is funny in the sense that it brings in a lot of late 80′s to 90′s Filipino culture, such as snacks like Rinbee, Bazooka Bubble Gum and TV shows like Pinoy Thriller or  Batibot — things that Generation X and Y will surely understand and remember. However, Kapitan Sino is kind of sad too, because it shows us just how our nation is, reflected in the small town of Pelaez: from the corrupt government officials to the people who spend time trying to best each other with their riches, spending more time gossiping than doing something productive and even blaming other people for things that are not their fault. It’s a startlingly accurate picture, and it’s kind of sad to realize the reality of what Bob Ong has written.

But do we really need superheroes to be able to fix our situation? Do we have to have super powers to be heroes? Or can we be heroes on our own?

I’ll leave that up to you to answer.

Rating:

My copy: Paperback, Php250 (?) from Fully Booked

Cover: Visprint – Bob Ong Books
Blurb: Back of the book

Note: Review originally posted at Refine Me

Lock and Key

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin USA
Number of pages: 432
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

Ruby can take care of herself.

She’s used to counting on no one and answering to nobody. But all of that changes when her mother vanishes and Ruby is sent to live with her older sister, Cora. Now Ruby’s got her own room in a fabulous new house, she’s going to private school, and — for the first time — feeling as if she has a future. Plus, there’s an adorable and sweet boy next door, Nate. Everything should be perfect. So why is Ruby so wary? And why is Nate keeping her at a distance? Ruby soon comes to realize that sometimes, in order to save yourself, you’ve got to reach out to someone else.

* * *

Don’t you think that’s such a pretty cover? There’s really something about Sarah Dessen‘s book covers, and I know how much it appeals to its target audience.

Lock and Key is about Ruby Cooper, who moves into her siser’s place after her mother left her behind to fend for herself. Ruby has gotten used to taking care of herself ever since her sister left and her mom could hardly be counted on. She was so used to not owing anyone for help that when she moved to her sister Cora’s place, all she wanted to do was go back. But her new family was insistent on letting her stay and taking care of her, especially Jamie, Cora’s husband, who wanted to provide a good future for Ruby. Ruby is stuck, and despite all good things happening to her, she couldn’t help but feel wary of all this good fortune. She knows that Cora’s world isn’t her world, but she knew she couldn’t count on her mother anymore. But can she really learn to trust all the other people that’s coming in her life?

All the typical Dessen elements were in the story: Ruby, the sort of troubled child who’s left to fend off for herself; Nate, the cute neighbor who Ruby falls for but then has a secret of his own; Olivia, her classmate who she didn’t really like at first but then became friends with; Harriet, her boss at her job who was even more of a control freak than Ruby. There are also old friends who are only in the book to appear that they’re not really “friends”: Marshall, Ruby’s sort of boyfriend and Peyton, the closest thing she had to a best friend. Though not set in the summer, like other Dessen books were, this one still spanned a couple of months, almost half a school year if I got it right. There’s a lot of looking into the past, and backstories and family events and little symbolisms that made the story poignant.

I liked how Dessen was descriptive with Ruby’s past and everything around her  — from Ruby’s new room to the key that she kept hanging around her neck. The thing about Lock and Key for me, however, is that it read too much like Love Walked In by Marisa Delos Santos, with the mentally unstable and possibly a drug addict mother leaving the daughter to fend off for herself and someone coming in to save the daughter. I couldn’t help but recall that other novel while reading this one. It’s not entirely the same, but the similarities just feel a bit odd.

But if you’re a Dessen fan, you’ll love all the Easter eggs in this novel. You’ll find a character from almost all of Dessen’s past novels. I especially love it when Kristy and Bert from The Truth About Forever showed up in one scene. :D

Lock and Key is a good read, but I think it’s not really as good as The Truth About Forever or Just Listen or This Lullaby.

Rating:

Note: Review originally posted at Refine Me