Unseen Moon

Unseen Moon by Eliza VictoriaUnseen Moon by Eliza Victoria
Publisher: Independent/Print-on-demand
Number of pages: 220
My copy: ebook review copy from the author

Ghosts in a mansion. A home invasion. A group of friends haunted by a murder. An unlikely friendship, a dead body in an abandoned house. A girl falling to her death, and another falling into the viewless darkness.

Unseen Moon collects five suspenseful stories by award-winning author Eliza Victoria.

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When Eliza Victoria sent me an email about sending a review copy of her newest book, I couldn’t say no. Note that I’m not really a fan of dark fiction, or horror or suspense, but this is Eliza, guys. I read her stuff and liked it, even if they’re not the usual things I go for. I’m not really one for scaring myself, but I make certain exceptions especially when the author just writes really, really well.

Unseen Moon is Eliza’s newest collection that contains several of her short stories, most of them never been published in print. They’re part horror, lots of crime and suspense…and well, lots of dead bodies. Like her other works, the stories are well-written and I think they are exactly what she intended them to be — dark. Sometimes, a bit too bloody. But definitely dark. Here’s a mini-review of each of the stories, and my rating for them.

Needle Rain (3/5) – This is the story of Cleofe, Cedric, Brian and Emily, their friendship and the murder that happened in their town. For some reason, this story felt distinctly Filipino. The combination of the small town, hanging out with friends in the afternoon while eating, and the storms that raged in the story reminded me of my own younger years, where I would work on projects at home while a storm happened outside and it was only a matter of minutes before the house is plunged in darkness because the storm caused a power interruption. Of course, that’s the only thing that I related to in this story. :P Needle Rain comes off as a murder mystery story at first, and then it spirals into something else. I was quite prepared to be scared at first, but in the end I felt more sad. If only the characters were wiser, then it wouldn’t have turned out that way.

The Ghosts of Sinagtala (4/5) – This is a story of Ben and Emma, who inherited a mansion from their grandparents that had a dark history. Oh what a creepy, creepy story. Tricia was tweeting about this when she read it first, so I knew well enough to read this in broad daylight. And even then, I still got terribly creeped out. This is my favorite in the book, and I really liked the connection between the mansion’s past to Ben and Emma. This is the story that successfully made me not want to go out of my room at night to get a glass of water because I was afraid to find a little girl crying in the darkness. O_o

Summer Evening (2/5) – Twins Amarilis and Carlos were left behind by their older brother, Nathan, to his ex-girlfriend, Alicia, because he had a job to do. The twins hate Alicia, so when two guys entered their house to do something to her, they turned their backs. I wasn’t really a big fan of this because it felt too violent for me, and it kind of took me by surprise. That, and there was just something a little too disturbing with the characters — perhaps I just refused to believe that they are capable of what they are doing in the story? It’s still well-written, though, and the ending kind of made me want to wring one of the characters’ necks, but this was one story that I kind of wanted to end quickly because the events made me just a bit queasy.

December (3/5) – Gabriel makes an unlikely friend in an orphan named December, who has her own issues with the people around her. A dead body in an abandoned mansion, a dead body in the lake and lots of music form the core of this story. This one sort of reminds me of Summer Evening, but it was less violent and a little more melancholic than the previous story. In some ways it was a little bit disturbing, but I was able to sympathize with the two main characters in the story more than I did for the previous story.

The Viewless Dark (4/5) – I read this back in October 2012 and I really liked it. I didn’t exactly reread all of it when I read this book again. I still read parts of it, though, and felt the same chill I had when I first read it, and felt the same attachment to the characters, both dead and alive. I think this is a good story to end this collection.

Overall, Unseen Moon is another good collection of Eliza’s stories. It’s not as scary as I expected (except for The Ghosts of Sinagtala – remembering several scenes still gives me the creeps), but it was really quite dark. This collection is a little bit more similar to Lower Myths than A Bottle of Storm Clouds, sans the paranormal aspect. If you want to get to know Eliza’s works but you’re not a huge fan of anything that is out of the normal world, then Unseen Moon might be the right Eliza book for you. If you’ve read Eliza’s other works and you want more, then you won’t want to miss this one. :)

The ebook edition of Unseen Moon is available via Smashwords right now (four stories only, since the ebook edition of The Viewless Dark is available via Flipreads), but if you’re a print person, you can pre-order a print copy of Unseen Moon until May 10 through Eliza’s blog. An excerpt of the stories is also posted in the same blog entry.

Rating:

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 →

Minis: Eliza Victoria

So it’s been months since I read all of these, and I apologize for the late, late, late reviews. I’m just catching up, you see, and since the following books are all form the same author, I thought I’d go and put them all in one post. :)

I’ve heard of Eliza online through some fellow writers in NaNoWriMo, I think, but I can’t remember if I ever sent her an email or talked before the 2nd Filipino ReaderCon. I’ve read her work in Alternative Alamat, and it was one of my favorite stories in the collection. It reminded me of those days in my college literary folio (the short times I’ve spent there, anyway), and it made me want to read more of her work. We follow each other on Twitter, but I was always shy in talking to her because I feel like I’m just going to fan girl. Haha. Imagine my surprise when she approached me during the ReaderCon. :D And then I did not even get to fan girl properly. :P

Anyway, these are three of Eliza’s works that I got and read after the ReaderCon was done. And I’m going to spoil you right now: I liked all of them. Very much. :)

Lower MythsLower Myths by Eliza Victoria
Publisher: Flipside Publishing
Number of pages: 87
My copy: ebook from Amazon Kindle Store

Lower Myths features two compelling novellas of contemporary fantasy from Eliza Victoria, one of the most talented young writers in Asian speculative fiction today. In “Trust Fund Babies,” children of two warring witch and fairy families face off in the final round to a centuries-old vendetta.

In “The Very Last Case of Messrs. Aristotel and Arkimedes Magtanggol,” an aristocrat and his daughter consult a famous lawyer-sibling pair about a mysterious crime. But in the lawyers’ hilltop mansion by the sea, they uncover sinister hints that their reality may not be what it seems.

Eliza Victoria’s fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications including High Chair, The Pedestal Magazine, Expanded Horizons, Usok, and the Philippine Speculative Fiction series.

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I got this one as a sample first, and this was one of the cases where I loved the sample so much that I had to get the book soon after.To be quite honest, I was not sure what Lower Myths was all about, except that it contains two short stories/novellas and the sample just made me want to read on.Trust Fund Babies is a fun, with and fairy story that totally had that mafia feel. It’s violent and can be quite gory, but all done in a tasteful way. I liked the relationship of the families and the idea of the glamour. I can imagine this as a short film with all the effects and the mystery.

The second story, The Very Last Case of Messrs. Aristotel and Arkimedes Magtanggol is kind of confusing because of the shifting realities, but the world building is superb. There’s a certain disconnect at first, but when things start falling into place, I found it so engaging that I just have to find out what happened next. While it’s not really as fun as Trust Fund Babies (for me, anyway), I liked how this one played out. This is the kind of world that I cannot imagine writing on my own, but I love reading. :)

Lower Myths is a good starter for Eliza’s works, if you’re into quick, fantasy reads with a local flavor. Of course, it could also be too short for you, but that’s why you’d end up looking for her other works just to satisfy that craving. :)

Rating:
Other Reviews: The Girl Who Read and Other Stories

A Bottle of Storm CloudsA Bottle of Storm Clouds by Eliza Victoria
Publisher: Visprint
Number of pages: 209
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

Award-winning author Eliza Victoria mixes magic with the mundane in this special concoction of 16 short stories. A girl meets a young man with the legs of a chicken. A boy is employed by a goddess running a pawnshop. A group of teenagers are trapped in an enchanted forest for 900 days. A man finds himself in an MRT station beyond Taft, a station that was not supposed to exist. A student claims to have seen the last few digits of pi. Someone’s sister gets abducted by mermaids.

Includes stories that have appeared in the critically acclaimed anthologies Philippine Speculative Fiction and Alternative Alamat, and stories that have won prizes in the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards and the Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Literary Contest.

Lower Myths got me craving for more of Eliza’s stories, so when I found out that Visprint released an anthology of her stories, I knew I had to get it. A Bottle of Storm Clouds contains 16 short stories that have appeared in various anthologies, all with the same local fantasy goodness. I was so excited to get this one after the 2nd Filipino ReaderCon (I really, really wanted to win one, but alas, I didn’t) — and I wasn’t planning to read it immediately to save me some local fiction goodness, but I couldn’t wait, either. And so I read.

A Bottle of Storm Clouds is one of those books that you can’t help but keep on reading but you also don’t want to end just yet. I tried not to read this book too fast because I wanted to savor each story. There’s something interesting and entirely different in each story — some of them were creepy, most of them sad, but all had really good fantasy elements that stretched my imagination wider than it did before. :) I liked how Eliza hinged most of the stories with real human experiences like grief and sadness, family and friendship and love and even selfishness and life crisis. It’s a good balance between magic and reality, and there are certain lines that meld them together nicely, like this one:

Magic. Amanda thought of clear skies and stars, steamed rice and fish, bagoong soaked in vinegar. A cup of coffee in the early morning, the feel of grass, the city lights. Clarissa. Her brother carrying her on his back, her parents dancing on the cool patio as it rained. The ground pounding with life. A poem humming in her head. (Siren Song)

My personal favorites: Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St., Intersections, Sugar Pi, Parallels, Monsters, The Storyteller’s Curse, Siren’s Song. I think there’s a story for each and every reader in this collection, and probably even for every mood. I liked this collection a lot, and if you want to read good, local fantasy with different flavors, get A Bottle of Storm Clouds. I’m sure you’ll find a favorite in one of them. :)

Rating:
The Viewless DarkThe Viewless Dark by Eliza Victoria
Publisher: Flipside Publishing
Number of pages: 56
My copy: ebook, requested from the publisher

When Anthony found Flo dead, locked overnight in one of the reading rooms of the university library, he knew it must have something to do with Mary. Mary Prestosa, fourth year graduating Philosophy student, whom they had been investigating. Mary, who surprised her roommate one night by suddenly standing up from her bed, throwing the windows open, and jumping down, headfirst, to the dormitory grounds below. Mary, whose memory marked the trail of mysterious deaths and bizarre occurrences that followed her own fateful fall: the fifth-year Computer Engineering student who prowled the campus on all fours, thirsty for blood, believing he was a wolf; the revelation of an all-girls’ satanic cult; the demonic possession of a fourth-year student from the Department of Psychology; and now—Flo, dead.

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So I read The Viewless Dark around October, because it was supposed to be a horror novel and the best time to read a horror story is during Halloween, right? I was kind of wary, though, because I’m not a fan of anything scary, so I made sure I read this in broad daylight.

The Viewless Dark is about Anthony’s friend, Flo, who was found dead in the university library. He knew his friend’s death had something to do with Mary, who committed suicide some time ago, and whose death Anthony and Flo were investigating. Here we see what really happened, and what Anthony knew about Flo that no one else knew and what exactly Flo had been going through the night before she died.

Of course I ended up reading this at night, anyway, because I need something to lull me to sleep. And even if I read this in broad daylight, I still felt creeped out every now and then with the story. I liked how the story unfolded from the death of Flo and into flashbacks that pointed just to how exactly Flo ended up that way to what happened to Anthony’s family. I liked how vivid the setting was and how sufficiently creepy the “possession” they set up until the final twist in the end which undid everything I thought I knew. And then Eliza wraps it up in a different way, giving it a poignant, almost hopeful ending.

I’m pretty sure I’m just chicken, and other friends might not think that this is as scary as I thought it was. But even so, I have a very good feeling that some of my friends will like this book just as much as I did. :)

Rating:

Required Reading: November

Where did October go? I seriously do not know. I knew it was just crazy (but good!), and now it is November and I am still going crazy. I had planned to blog several times here, really, but gah, all I want to do when I go home after work is sleep. Sleep. Sleep. And I think I will still be busy until 2012 ends. :( I feel like I’m going to crash at any time and like I would need a Nolan N90 helmet to stop me from getting too burned out. Gah.

But I will still try to read, I promise. I always do. I think it’s one of the things that keep me sane. :o

I realized that I didn’t have a Required Reading post last November because I was too busy with NaNoWriMo. I almost didn’t want to have a post for this year because I am still busy, but I realized — what the heck. It’s not like there are brand new books on my list anyway. And nothing’s stopping me from trying, right?

But first, October!

  • The Viewless Dark by Eliza Victoria (4/5) – Totally creeped me out. I liked it! I have a bunch of Eliza’s book pending for review. One day I will write about all of them!

I’m still in the middle of The Historian and Isle of Blood, and honestly I don’t know when I will be able to read them, but I am easing pressure on myself. Because it’s never fun to be pressured, yes?

Required Reading: November

On to this crazy, crazy month!

November Books

  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova — still ongoing, and I’m halfway through! :) I can definitely finish this before the discussion.
  • The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka by Roald Dahl – this is for our December discussion, and I kind of want to get tot his earlier than usual so I won’t cram. We will be discussing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory , but since I saw this book has both Charlie stories in, I decided to get this one instead. This should be an easy read, right?
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – only because November plays a big part in this novel. I have no idea if I will be able to crack into this, though.

Here’s to trying this November. It will be crazy, but I will definitely try. :)

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!