Well Played

Well Played by Katrina Ramos AtienzaWell Played by Katrina Ramos Atienza
Publisher: KRAtienza
Number of pages: 121
My copy: Kindle edition

Patrice Reyes is starting her junior year at the University and she’s convinced it’s going to be the best semester ever. For starters, it looks like this is the year her team will win the regional football (soccer, for you Yanks) championships. Her subjects are looking good, and there’s even a chance she might finally get somewhere with her rock star crush. But a new classmate—arrogant, cold math nerd—is seriously throwing off her groove. Will she ever get rid of him and have the awesome semester she deserves? Or is there truth to never judging (math) books by their cover?

* * *

I’m a fan of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, although perhaps not as much of a big fan as other friends (I’m still very partial to Persuasion, because hello, Captain Wentworth and that letter!), but I like reading books and watching adaptations of Pride & Prejudice because it’s my first Austen and you don’t forget your first. :) When I heard of Katrina Ramos Atienza’s retelling of P&P set in the Los Banos, I knew I had to read it. Even if I’m not a huge fan of football.

Patrice Reyes is an incoming junior and she believes that it will be her best semester ever. She’s sure her team will win the regional football championships, her grades look good, she has good friends at the dorm, and oh look, there’s a crush. But when cold and arrogant math guy Paul becomes her partner in one of her major subjects, her days are thrown off course. How will she get rid of him to get her perfect semester back? Does she even really want to get rid of him?

I had a lot of fun with Well Played, mostly because it was so much fun matching the characters to the original. Almost everyone had a match, save for a few, which would have complicated the plot a little. I appreciate that the plot wasn’t that complicated, though, because it made the story easier to read, with just enough drama to make me hang on. I liked Patrice and her wit, her loyalty to her friends and her fierceness and her passion for her sport. I wasn’t always fond of her, to be honest, but she made for a great Filipino Lizzie Bennett. :) I also really liked Gia (the equivalent of Jane) and and Deenie, although I can’t decide if Deenie is less or more annoying than Lydia. I really liked Migs (Bingley) too, and he seems like such a nice guy. Paul is such a true Darcy, with the angst and the grumpiness, and all the hidden layers that makes him a Darcy.

My favorite part of the book is the setting, most definitely. I loved how the setting just worked for the story. The setting was based on University of the Philippines in Los Banos, Laguna. I didn’t study there, and the last time I was there was in 2003, but even if I can barely remember anything there, the setting in this book felt so real. I liked the dorm setting and how the setting seemed to be a character in itself. I liked it so much that it was so easy to imagine everything there, and I don’t even have to suspend any kind of disbelief.

I think the only thing that niggled at me was how sometimes the characters didn’t sound like they’re Filipinos at all. They seemed just a tad too foreign when I read their dialogue, like they’re all foreign exchange students. But other than that, I liked Well Played a lot, and I think it’s a pretty faithful and entertaining Filipino adaptation of P&P. Oh, and even if I still don’t really understand (or even watch) football, I must mention that I liked how the sport played a role in the story, too. And that really cute ending after that football game? Oh, I definitely approve. :)

Number of dog-eared pages: 5

Favorite dog-eared quote(s):

When it came down to it, she mused philosophically, there were girls like Deenie to whom romantic attachments come easy; they followed their hearts, got into sticky situations and got up to pursue other adventures. More power to them, but Patrice wasn’t like that. She had too many responsibilities and, to be honest, she was much too afraid of being hurt to fling her heart open the way Deenie did.

“How can there be any hard feelings when there weren’t any feelings to start with?”

Rating:

Other reviews:
Sab the Book Eater
Book Junkie Joint

Happy birthday!

I owe you guys a lot of reviews, and I promise to catch up on them on my long weekend this week and next. A short post is in order, just to let you guys know that yes, I’m still alive. Just terribly busy. And also, a year older.

Anyway, I was watching the latest episodes of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (if you haven’t watched this fun and modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice…why haven’t you? Go watch, now), and I found out that Lizzie and Charlotte recently celebrated their birthdays. Being a March birthday, too, I wondered when their birthdays were, so I did a little search1. And then, surprise! We were all born on the same day – March 17! :)

Happy birthday! - Click to watch the video :)

Happy birthday! – Click to watch the video :)

Okay, fine, they’re fictional characters. But I think it’s still cool to share my birthday with these two girls on Youtube. :) At least, their fictional counterparts.

So, belated happy birthday to Charlotte, Lizzie and me! :) I will end this post now, so you can go ahead and watch The Lizzie Bennett Diaries. Because you really should. :)

  1. Twitter would’ve made it easier, but I’m fasting from Twitter this Lent, so Google is my best friend []

2012 Books I Can’t Wait to Get My Hands On

So hello, it’s 2012. I will be all cliche and stuff and say that I can’t believe we’re at a new year all over again. Didn’t 2011 just start yesterday?

Happy 2012!

And now I’m done being cliche, I will not stop blathering on and share some of the reasons why I’m looking forward to this year (even if the Mayans think the world will end by December) — good books for another year, they’re things to be excited about, yes?

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (January 10). You know this isn’t even a question, really. Anyone who’s a fan of contemporary YA novels should be looking forward to this, especially because: (1) It’s by John Green and (2) All pre-ordered copies were signed by the author himself. You still have time to pre-order this if you haven’t — go and do it now!

Blackout by Mira Grant

Blackout by Mira Grant (June 7). If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog or my friend in real life, you would know how much I love the Newsflesh trilogy. So much that I’ve given away so many copies of Feed and Deadline already. Now the end is near, the end of this amazing trilogy is also near. I’m so excited for this that I already pre-ordered it on Kindle. :D

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (June 19). And more zombies! I haven’t read all of Courtney Summers’ stuff, but I liked Some Girls Are and the news of her releasing a zombie novel just tickled me pink. :) Or maybe that wasn’t the right term to use. But anyway, with a creepy cover like this, who wouldn’t be excited?

The Return of the Shandar

The Last Dragonslayer # 3: The Return of the Shandar by Jasper Fforde (November 2012). This is also really no question. I love Jasper Fforde, and I loved The Last Dragonslayer. I’ve yet to read The Song of the Quarkbeast, but since I’m a completist for Jasper Fforde, I must have this. :)

Thursday Next # 7: Dark Reading Matter by Jasper Fforde (July 12). And here’s another Fforde! I love that he has two-books-a-year release deal, so now we get to know more about what happens next to Thursday next sooner rather than later. Awesomeness.

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand (January 17). I’ve read and loved Unearthly last year, and I’ve also already read and loved the next book. It’s probably high time I get myself a print copy of both books. I hope this one is as shiny and pretty as Unearthly. :)

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (June 12). I loved Rampant, even if I have never read the next book, I still think Diana Peterfreund is someone to look out for. And then, she comes out with a new book. That is dystopian. And is based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion which I also loved. How. Freaking. Awesome.

Discount Armageddon by Seannan McGuire

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire (March 6). I haven’t read any Seanan McGuire books…oh wait, she’s also the same person as Mira Grant. One more time. I’ve never read any October Daye books and I plan to, one day. But I can’t deny being excited over Seanan’s new series. This sounds so interesting, and knowing the author, I’m sure it’s going to be great, too.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. While I didn’t really like Lola and the Boy Next Door as much as I liked Anna and the French Kiss, I can’t deny that I’m a fan of whatever Stephanie Perkins writes. I know that Isla brings us back to one of Anna’s friends in the first book, Josh, and it has that romantic feel of “I like this guy but he has no idea that I exist“. Aw. </3

Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews (August 2012). A spin-off in Kate Daniels universe — how exciting is this!!!!! (Yes, the exclamation points should express my excitement even if it’s not enough :D)

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (May 1). It’s been a long, long time (okay, fine, two years) since I read Fire and Graceling, and I’ve waited for so long to get my hands on this. Finally, the wait is about to end! :)

Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra. And finally, I can’t ignore a local book coming out, yes? One of my favorite local authors is coming out with a YA book! We were talking on Twitter about this one time and I told her that I want to put her book in my list, and that would make her focus. So..here it is. Yay for more Filipino YA! :)

I’m pretty sure there are more books to look forward to in the coming year, but let’s be surprised at that, yes? I hope 2012 becomes a good reading year for everyone! What books are you looking forward to in 2012?

Emma

Emma by Jane AustenEmma by Jane Austen
Number of pages: 474 pages
My copy: ebook, free from Amazon

‘I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall’

Beautiful, clever, rich – and single – Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protégée Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen’s most flawless work.

* * *

I wasn’t sure what Austen to read this year until my book club did the choosing for me. Emma won as this month’s choice of read, so I knew I was going to read it early this year. Then I came across Miss Match by Erynn Mangum and found out it was based on Emma. I didn’t really like the former, and that made me wary with this book, thinking maybe I wouldn’t like this either (but I kind of doubted that, since this is a classic, and I’ve liked Austen so far).

Emma is about Emma Woodhouse, a 21-year-old woman who’s swore never to marry not because of past hurts but because she feels that she is perfectly content with her life. This doesn’t stop her from meddling with other people’s affairs, though and she’s decided to appoint herself a matchmaker for her new friend Harriet Smith, after she had proven that her matchmaking skills are good based on her old governess getting married to someone she matched her with. This meddling starts the mess in all of Emma’s life as she finds her carefully laid out plans unraveled, and she realizes that maybe she doesn’t always get it right. With a cast of other interesting and sometimes annoying characters, Emma finds out a thing or two about love from the most unexpected people.

Talk about a slow reading. I know I read classics very slowly because of how it was written, but Emma is probably the book that I took the longest time reading, since it takes me about 2-3 days to finish a book. Emma took me more than two weeks. At times I wanted to stop reading and pick it up sometime else, but I know that if I do that, I will get completely lost in the story and would have to start again.

Emma is highly amusing, even if it can get boring sometimes. I had to laugh at the long lines of dialogue — and I mean pure dialogue since there wasn’t much action being described as the characters talked. It made me imagine that they were all just standing around and talking in their long skirts and suits without really doing anything else but that. Sometimes I wonder if there was a point with all the dialogue and the number of names mentioned in the first few chapters got me so dizzy that I couldn’t keep track anymore.

Here’s a not-so-secret: I spoiled myself with the ending. Somewhere during the first part of the book, I decided to go on Wikipedia and read about the novel just so I know what to expect. I read the summary and continued reading the novel, watching out for the key scenes mentioned in the synopsis. I don’t think it made the novel less of a fun reading experience for me, but it did remove the surprise factor a bit.

The thing I realized about Emma is how different the heroine is from the two Austen heroines I’ve read: Elizabeth Bennett and Anne Elliot. I read in a review once that people always read and liked Pride & Prejudice first, enjoyed Emma more but loved Persuasion. I find that I have a different type of relationship with the books because of the heroines. Elizabeth Bennett is someone I’d want to be friends with while Anne Elliot is someone I wanted to be. Emma Woodhouse, on the other hand, is someone I know I am before I can become Anne Elliot. It’s like Emma is younger version of these two other heroines — the not so mature yet still smart heroine that grows into a character you’d love if she decides to learn from her mistakes. Emma is flawed and annoying at times, and I can say that I related to her more than I expected I would. It’s almost like looking in the mirror sometimes, and it’s funny because it lessens the annoyance I had with Emma at the first parts of the book.

I can say that Miss Match was definitely a lot like Emma, but even so, I find myself less irritated with Emma than Laurie. Maybe Laurie was really just irritating to me, period. It makes me wonder again if I was/am anything like Laurie, and if I saw the things I hated about myself in her. Maybe I did. The difference between Emma and Laurie is Emma seemed to have learned how to be a proper lady in the end while Laurie just kept on being…meddling. But that may be because it’s a trilogy, and there’s more character growth in the next books.

But I digress. Emma is an enjoyable read, despite its length. Was I ever so glad when I finished it! It does get better by the third part of the book, so if you’re reading it, just keep on because it gets interesting. While it’s not my favorite Austen novel (this still goes to Persuasion), I liked Emma a lot more than I expected I would. Like the other Austens I’ve read, the ending made me sigh in happiness, and made me close the (e)book with a smile. :)

Rating:

10 for 2010: Favorite Reads

And here is the final 10 for 2010 list for this year, and the hardest one at that. There has just been too many good books in this year that it’s so hard to pick just ten. But I have to choose ten…but that doesn’t mean I can’t have runner ups and honorable mentions. ;) It’s my list, I can do anything I want to. :P

So, the last 10 for 2010, here are 10 of my Favorite Reads in no particular order…and then some. :)

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen – How much do I love this book? I am very glad that I chose this book as my first classic read for this year. I love Anne Elliot, and I want to be her. I don’t have much point of comparison over other Austen books, but this one is really, really good, even better than P&P. :) I cannot recommend this one enough. :)

2. Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews – I fell in love with the Kate Daniels series this year (thanks again to Chachic and Michelle for pushing!), but among the four books out in the series, Magic Strikes is the best one so far. It’s got action, tension and all the yummy hotness of Kate and Curran in all of it. Plus the ending had me all smiling and giggly and that is always very, very good. :)

2. Feed by Mira Grant – This book wasn’t the one that got me started on zombies this year, but it was the zombie book I loved the most. :) This book had me from the cover, and then with the story. I loved how geeky this book is and how emotional it is at the end. I loved the characters, and I loved the theme of the story…and I just really loved every bit of this book! This is one of the books that I got in Kindle, then got in print because I want to have my own copy. I gave a copy away, then I gave one as a gift, and now I’m (sort of) giving this away, too. I love this book that much.

3. Happyface by Stephen Emond – This is one of the impulse buys that I never regretted. I wasn’t a fan of hardcovers, but I am glad I got this one the moment I saw it because there are no copies of this one here. This is one of my favorite contemporary YA reads of the year. Happyface is such a darling character, and you just can’t help but fall in love with him. The plot is simple, but it’s very surprising and heartwarming at the end. I wish there were more copies of Happyface here so more people can read it…but that’s why I’m giving one away, right? ;) Oh, and I still think I look like Gretchen. ;)

4. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley – This was another impulse buy, but I’ve been seeing this one way before I got it. I am glad I got it, too, because it has such a beautiful story. The story may sound a bit cheesy with all the beauty talk, but it doesn’t only just talk about inner beauty and self-esteem, but also complications of a family and dreams that never came true. Terra’s transformation was very inspiring, and the ending left me feeling very good about myself, and very beautiful. :) Truly a gem.

6. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – I wasn’t planning to read this, and I stopped reading the start for a couple of times, but after I finished the first chapter, I got hooked. Before I Fall is a surprisingly good and powerful novel about life, death, friendship and the choices we make and how they affect people. I finished this book with a wistful smile on my face and tears in my eyes, thankful that I finally gave in and read it.

7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – This is one of the book that I know I would love, only because the people whose book tastes I trust loved this one, too. After reeling from The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I needed more dystopia to keep the high going, so I finally read this one. And I loved every bit of it. I know it gets better with the next two books, and I am very excited to read them. :D Soon.

8. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John – This book wouldn’t have made the list if I didn’t read it on time. If I read it in 2011, this would probably have made it in my 2011 list. :P I love the cover, and the story is just as good as the book. It’s not often you read a YA novel about a band, and it’s even rarer that you read a heroine who was deaf. It’s got diverse characters, a great story and a very rocking ending. :) A book that makes me reconsider my Top 10 is a book that deserves more attention. :D

9. Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra – You know you really love a book when you re-read it and it still gives you the same feeling it did on the first read. You know you love a book when you actually re-read it in the first place, and within the same year, to boot! I re-read Fairy Tale Fail after I finished reading The Maze Runner, and I really needed a pick-me-up after. It definitely picked me up, and it made me wish to have my own Lucas all over again. :)

10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – And like every Best of 2010 books out there, I must not forget about Anna and the French Kiss! This book was an absolutely fun read. After a series of not-so-stellar books, this one just kind of blew my mind. :) I realized a lot of things in this book, particularly: I still love contemporary YA the best, and you can tell a completely ordinary story in an extraordinary way. This is also one of the books that I got on Kindle first, then the hardcover when I found out it’s already available here. That much love, people. That much love. :)

Runners-Up:

  • Paper Towns by John Green – I finished the John Green trifecta this year, and out of all books, I have decided that I liked Paper Towns best. While An Abundance of Katherines was the funniest and happiest, I thought Paper Towns had the better plot and would fare better for a re-read. :) Plus Radar + Ben and the road trip? Priceless.
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – I wouldn’t have heard of this one if not for Pao and Chachic, and I am glad I got this one. Tall Story is a charming story about siblings, Filipino folklore and magic. This is a very heartwarming story, and I am glad this book is available internationally so more people can read it. If you haven’t read it, do include it in your 2011 reading list. You won’t regret it. :)
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman – I wouldn’t have picked this book up if I hadn’t heard good things about it from my Goodreads friends. Perhaps my reaction to this was a bit similar to The Knife of Never Letting Go – I plunged into it ready to love it, and I did. It’s not a very cheerful book being dystopia, but it’s very good and it has a lot of potential for a re-read. :)
  • Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr – I read two of Sara Zarr’s books last year and I loved them, so when I saw she had a new book, I knew I had to read it. Once Was Lost was just as beautiful as her other books, but I think I like this one more because it tackled faith. I loved how simple Zarr’s prose was, and how she tackled sensitive issues with grace. If I may quote my review: “Once Was Lost makes you think, makes you ask, and in the end, makes you believe that no matter what the tragedy is, no matter how hard things are, there will always, always be hope.
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – I read this one fairly recently, and I really liked it. I don’t know if my moods influenced how much I liked it though…but like I said before: any book that has me smiling like an idiot at the last page deserves a recognition. :)

Honorable Mentions:

See, I told you it was too hard. I’m sorry if I overwhelmed you with too many books in this list! It’s just very, very hard to choose. Maybe next year I’ll be more critical, but I’m glad I read so many good books this year. Looking forward to what 2011 had to offer. :)

Now it’s your turn. What’s your top reads in 2010? :)

Check out my other 10 for 2010 posts!
10 Favorite Male Characters
10 Favorite Female Characters
10 Favorite Couples
10 Favorite Authors
10 Most Anticipated for 2011
10 Blogging and Reading Highlights

I’m giving away some of my favorite books in 2010 in my Anniversary Giveaway! Get to know the awesomeness that is Feed by Mira Grant, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy! 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!