Required Reading 2013: September (and then some)

Hello folks, look at that – it’s September! In the Philippines, Christmas preparations start as early as today so I will go ahead and say: Merry Christmas! :P

On another note, August has come and gone, and I read a lot of books this month (compared to last month, anyway) because there were several long weekends in the month. :) I wasn’t able to finish all August books, though, because I got distracted by other shiny little books along the way. Still, no regrets. :D

  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay (4/5) – the reread was as charming as the first time. We had our discussion yesterday and it was filled with warmth, especially with all the sibling stories we shared. :)
  • No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July (3/5) – I didn’t like some of the stories, but there were others that were really good ones. Here’s to trying to find time to blog about it soon.

I didn’t touch Jasper Fforde’s book at all, or even made really good progress with A Clash of Kings. Well. But I’m not hurrying anything, so…let’s go to September. :D

Required Reading: September

No particular theme this month, except for that spillover from July. I’ve tried to balance out the serious and lighter books but I don’t even know if I will be able to read them all. Heh. Either way, it wouldn’t hurt to try. :D

September 2013 books

  1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – our book club’s book of the month. I hope I’m ready for this. XD
  2. A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin – it is my hope to finish this soon, except that I’m still at page 250ish. Not that it’s boring — it’s not. I’m just not in the mood for it for some reason. Oh well, I must soldier on!
  3. The Zigzag Effect by Lili Wilkinson – something light to offset the first two. :)
  4. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne Valente – just because the main character’s name is September. :)

Now we go to the “and then some” part of the post. I haven’t really been blogging, obviously, and I think I found out why: I’m not too interested in it anymore. This doesn’t mean I will stop blogging, though — I think maybe I just need a little change. I think I may have outgrown the “One More Page” aspect of this blog.

SO…I am going to apologize in advance if I don’t really blog yet anytime soon, but trust me, I’ve got something going on for this blog. It may include a blog facelift of sorts and even a name change, something to reflect my new reading habits, among other things. :) This won’t take too long, I hope! (Maybe by mid September? :D)

Have a happy reading month, you guys. :)

12 Best Books of 2012

So the 2012 reading year was interesting because I think this is the most I’ve explored different genres. I blame my book club for this, especially with our monthly discussions and their book recommendations. As a result, I didn’t reach the 150-ish book goal. However, I did enjoy exploring these other books that I wouldn’t normally read, so it’s still a pretty good year reading year.

I’ll talk about my reading stats more on another post. First, let’s get the best list out. 12 Best Books for 2012. Let’s get at it, shall we?

  1. Angelfall by Susan EeGruesome, creepy and scary but absolutely fun. I read this book because of all the good reviews I read from my Goodreads friends, and I devoured it in several days. I loved Penryn the kick-ass heroine and the equally bad-ass angels who caused the apocalypse. When is the sequel coming out again? Please make it soon?
    Angelfall by Susan Ee Continue Reading →

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own MakingThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Makingby Catherynne M. Valente
Publisher: Corsair
Number of pages: 326
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

Gather up your courage and your wishes; grab a little pinch of luck – and prepare to be swept away, in a ship of your own making, to a land unlike any other. September is a twelve-year-old girl, Somewhat Grown and Somewhat Heartless, and she longs for adventure. So when a Green Wind and a Leopard of Little Breezes invite her to Fairyland – well, of course, she accepts (mightn’t you?).

When she gets there, she finds a land in crisis and confusion – crushed by the iron rule of a villainous Marquess – she soon discovers that she alone holds the key to restoring order. Having read enough books to know what a girl with a quest must do, September sets out to Fix Things.

As September forges her way through Fairyland, with a book-loving dragon and a partly human boy named Saturday by her side, she makes many friends and mistakes; loses her shadow, her shoes and her way. But she finds adventure, courage, a rather special Spoon, and a lot more besides . . .

* * *

I’ve been wanting to get The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (will be called Fairyland from here on out) by Catherynne M. Valente ever since I read a review from The Book Smugglers. I was curious because they both gave high ratings for the book, but I was also a bit too stingy to get myself a hardbound copy, and it was quite hard to find one in local bookstores here. But patience is a virtue, because after some waiting (and browsing some buy petite scrubs sites in between), I finally spotted a paperback copy of the book in Fully Booked one time early this year.

Twelve-year-old September is Somewhat Grown and Somewhat Heartless, and when the Green Wind and a Leopard of Little Breezes came and asked to join them into Fairyland, she accepts. What follows is a fun adventure where September gets her courage and wishes washed, befriends the wyvern born from a library, and sets out to Fix Things for Fairyland who has been under a rule of a villainous Marquess.

I read the book for my Required Reading in September, just because the main character’s name is also September. I was prepared for a light and joyful fantasy romp, and I was really hoping that I would like it as much as the other reviewers said they did.

And you know what? I liked Fairyland very much! Fairyland is such a smart and fun book — fun because of all the adventures and characters that our heroine meets along the way, and smart because things were never really explained in detail, but the readers were allowed to figure things out. Everything in the book was so creative and bright and shiny, and I was truly, truly invested in everyone in the book.

But it’s not all bright and happy and joyful all the time — there was bloodshed, and several dark moments in the book that made me realize that it’s not really a children’s book after all. But I liked how it balanced off the fun elements and really brings out the point of the story and also makes September and our other characters grow up.

Other than the story, I really loved the writing. Valente’s writing is very whimsical and charming, and I was surprised at how many pages I have dog-eared in the book. There were some passages that were just fun (but true), like:

Temperament, you’ll find, is highly dependent on time of day, weather, frequency of naps, and whether one has had enough to eat.

Some full of wisdom:

When you are born, your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you’re half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it’s so grunged up with living. So every once and a while, you have to scrub it and get the works going or else you’ll never be brave again…So most people go around with grimy machinery, when all it would take is a bit of spit and polish to make paladins once more, bold knights and true.

While some just squeezed my heart:

I will walk wherever it is I wish to go. I will walk to my grandfather the Municipal Library, and he will praise me for my unselfishness. I have walked my whole life. More will not hurt me.

Fairyland is a fun book, and I like that there’s more to look forward to in the next book, which I hear is also very, very good. I’m looking forward to reading more of September’s adventures (and finding out about that part near the ending — Did you see her?) and also reading Cat Valente’s other books for her gorgeous writing. :)

Rating:

Required Reading: September

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Book Harbinger
Janicu’s Book Blog

Required Reading: October

Just like that, we’re in the final quarter of the year. How about that!

September wasn’t a bad reading month, but a lot of things happened in my personal life which also kind of affected my reading, but not in a bad way. And there were also many changes that happened in our book club which kind of took me by surprise, but I think things have settled down now, and I hope things can only get better after this!

But interestingly, I managed to finish 3 out of the 4 books I listed for September’s Required Reading. I think I also managed to blog a bit more in September, although I am still very far from getting my blogging backlog cleared. Oh well. If this keeps up, I will probably end up working on that backlog until December. But anyway. Here’s how September went:

  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (3/5) – I enjoyed this a bit more than I expected, and the book discussion helped me appreciate the book more.
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (5/5) – Oh my stars. I loved this one. I wrote more in my review, so all I’m going to say now is that I am looking forward to reading everything else that Mitchell wrote. And watch the movie.
  • The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (4/5) – It’s been a while since I read fun YA fantasy, and this one was not just fun, but also quite deep. I liked how whimsical and smart it is and it’s made its way to my best of 2012 reads. :) I can’t wait for the next book.

So, October!

Required Reading: October

So, my October choices have me just a bit nervous because I’m not a fan of this genre, but of course, I have to let myself experience the chills every year, right? Right? So bring on the horror, yes?

  • The Viewless Dark by Eliza Victoria – thanks to Flipside for the review copy of the ebook. :) I’ve read some of Eliza’s short stories and I really liked them (review coming…sometime), and I’m looking forward to this one a lot. :)
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – This is really supposed to be our book of the month for our book club for November, but seeing its length, I thought I’d start it early. It’s a good thing I’ve read October’s book of the month already. :D Monique says this isn’t really horror anyway, but knowing my weak nerves…yeah. I will probably get creeped out. :D
  • The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey – I have been so excited to read this book since I finished The Curse of the Wendigo last year, but I had to hold off because this is the perfect Halloween read! I’m buddying up with some TFG friends for the last week of October to read this. Snap to! :)

I’ve also got two classics up for this month – Little Women and a reread of Pride and Prejudice, so it’s going to be a busy reading month for me. I just hope I get out of this slump. :D And you know, blog more.

Happy October, everyone!

Required Reading: September

Ahoy there, look, it’s September!

Some of my book club friends received a very perky text message this morning about the fact that it’s September, and it’s almost Christmas1 and because it’s the start of one of our biggest buddy reads ever today as well. September to remember? :)

I’m just really happy that we’re onto a new month because August was kind of…interesting. Some things are a bit too personal to divulge, but in terms of reading, August has been one of those slump-y months. I read, but I was terribly slow, and I hardly made a dent with my TBR because I ended up getting more new books and reading them instead of reading the ones I already have. It’s a vicious cycle, I tell you. But first, recap of my August Required Reading list (none of which I have written reviews for yet, eep!):

  • Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin by Bob Ong (1/5) – Ugh. I shouldn’t have expected much, really.
  • Paper Cuts by Pam Pastor (2/5) – I read this and Bob Ong’s book in one weekend. Aaron had to ask me if I was torturing myself on purpose. Not that it’s bad, but it’s not my kind of book after all. More details when I sit down and review it.
  • Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal (3-4/5) – Haven’t decided on the final rating. Rating it 3 seems so low because this is like THE novel that spurred the revolution against Spain in Filipino history so my Filipino heart feels that I should rate this higher. But as a reader…it’s not really that amazing.

Interestingly, I think I read so many books by Filipino authors this month too! I’d like to think it’s because of the really awesome 2nd Filipino ReaderCon that drove me to get more local books. :) I still have several local books on my TBR shelf that I am pretty sure I’ll be able to read this year, and I’m quite excited about it. Maybe I’ll finally reach that 20 Filipino books goal!

My review backlog is still a backlog — let me work on that. :P

Now let’s move on to September!

Required Reading: September

Continue Reading →

  1. Yep, we Filipinos start counting down to Christmas this early []