Favorite Books as Gifts

The other weekend was the first Filipino Book Bloggers meet-up for the year 2011, which was also the first Flips Flipping Pages meet-up for the year, and the first one I attended with them. It’s always fun to spend time with fellow book-lovers discussing books and I liked that we discussed our best and worst reads for 2010. It just goes to show how different everyone’s choices are.

Anyway, there was a book swap after the discussion, and we were advised to bring our best or worst book for swapping with other people. Since my worst book is an electronic copy, I decided to bring a brand new copy of my best book (one of them, anyway — Feed by Mira Grant) so other people can read it. I figure if a blogger gets it, then a book about blogging (and zombies) should be in good hands, right?

I realized then that I’ve been giving books as gifts ever since I can remember. I don’t always receive books as gifts (with the exception of last Christmas and my 18th birthday — bags of books there), but I know that I always go to books whenever I’m giving gifts way back. I think that was before I really knew about the concept of gift certificates (sorry, I was way younger then and I never thought of GCs), and I always found it difficult to get clothes for someone else. If the recipient of the gift isn’t a reader, then I would resolve to getting her* pillows, stuffed toys or candles.

I find it kind of funny that I tend to give specific books as gifts, especially for people who don’t have wish lists. You know how when you spot a copy of one of your favorite books in the store, and for some reason you want to buy another copy even if you already have a copy (or multiple copies of it). It’s like, you want to buy that copy and give it to someone who you know will appreciate the book in the same way as you did. Like you’re saving the book or something. That’s how I feel, anyway. :D It’s almost like getting a pet for someone who you know will take care of that pet the way you would. Did that make sense?

I’ve been keeping count of the books that I loved and gifted/gave away to other people. So far, they are:

  • Feed by Mira Grant – 3 copies bought (1 gift and 2 for give away)
  • Paper Towns by John Green – 2 copies bought (1 gift and 1 for give away)
  • The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen – 1 copy as gift
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – 2 copies bought for give away
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – 1 copy as gift
  • Naermyth by Karen Francisco – 3 copies bought (1 gift, 2 give away)
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – 1 copy bought for give away
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – 1 copy as gift
  • Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti – 1 copy as gift

Most of those books are my favorites, or if they aren’t in my list, they’re books with good reviews. I find it funny that I have bought so many copies of Feed and Naermyth and Paper Towns – promoting much?

What about you? Do you have specific books that you give as a default gift? How many copies of your favorite books have you bought as gifts for friends or for giveaway?

* I say “her” because it’s very hard to shop for some guy friends who are not readers. It’s not like you can give them something generic like bathroom faucets or something. Anyone who agree with this, say aye!

Never were they myth

Naermyth by Karen Francisco
Publisher: Visprint
Number of pages: 304
My copy: paperback, from Fully Booked

Never were they myth in the first place…

The world ended. It was not because of a comet, prophecy, natural disaster or whatever garbage foretold on the internet, but because every myth ever written turned out to be an account of historical fact. These monsters we’ve read about as children waged a war that lead to the human race’s downfall. And the unlucky who survived are hunted down or, worse, tortured.

In these dark times, people could only turn to the Shepherd for help. I am one such Shepherd and I thought my only task was to protect the few humans who still thrived on this desolate world. But when I rescued Dorian from Dwende captivity, I discovered that not only is he the most dangerous thing to have around, but he could be our one hope for redemption. I now find myself protecting a born killer, but in doing so, I’m turning my back on everything human.

* * *

I spotted Naermyth by Karen Francisco in Fully Booked by sheer accident. I was supposed to get The Giver by Lois Lowry when I felt like ambling over to the Filipiniana section of the store and then I saw the black and orange spine of the book. I thought it was just a new local comics or something but when I read the blurb, I was sold. Could it be? Local dystopian fantasy? This I have to read.

Naermyth is a word play on the phrase “never myth”, which is what the people used to describe creatures that caused the apocalypse after they attacked the human race. These are creatures from Philippine mythology that we have often watched or heard stories from as children — aswang, duwende, kapre (complete with their cigars), nuno sa punso, diwata, etc — that we thought were just that: myths. However, it turns out they were never myths at all, and they attacked defenseless humans, quickly wiping out civilizations and most of the population. The only remaining resistance against these creatures are the National Bureau of Conflict and Transport or the NaBuCAT, informally known as the Shepherds, who find remaining survivors and give them refuge against the Naermyth.

The story is set in the Philippines 5 years after the war between human and Naermyth started. We meet Athena “Aegis” Dizon, one of the best Shepherds on their way back to the Ruins after a rescue mission. Aegis is one of the best Shepherds in their NaBuCAT branch, but she is also one of the least affectionate and most brash among all of them, an issue that her brothers often tease her with. Aegis doesn’t mind, because she knows that if she wants to live in the world now, there is no room to be soft. On their way back to their headquarters after a particularly bad night with an aswang and a duwende in the morning, Aegis rescues Dorian, a mysterious man who has no memory of the last five years and no knowledge of the Naermyth at all. Aegis brings him to the headquarters, and despite her usually brash nature, she finds herself connected to Dorian in ways she could not explain. When they find out what Dorian is, Aegis goes against all she believed in as a Shepherd to protect him. As Dorian tries to find out about his past, Aegis finds out more about hers, and they uncover a conspiracy that could destroy everything they had worked for.

I think the best thing about Naermyth is its realistic world building. It’s often hard to get into dystopian fiction especially if the world is does not feel real, but Karen Francisco managed to create a very believable post-apocalyptic Philippines, making the different places in the country come alive as a setting. I liked how she used Ruins as a fortress from its bazaar status in the past, and how Makati is Naermyth territory because of how it used to be a swamp. It wasn’t contained in Manila, too, but in other provinces in the Philippines: Baguio is a dead spot for Naermyth because of its altitude, as is Pangasinan being the country’s salt center (salt was used as a weapon against aswang because it stops them from regenerating), while Capiz is obviously Naermyth headquarters. And it didn’t stop there, too, because it’s not post-apocalypse if it doesn’t involve the rest of the world, right? Other countries were also affected by the uprising of these creatures, but each country has their own kind of Naermyth based on their folklore. Norway has dragons, and yes, even the Loch Ness monster is alive. With all these elements securely in place, it’s easy to believe in the world that Aegis lives in, and I don’t get surprised when weirder creatures surface.

That being said, however, Naermyth suffers from attempting to cover so much ground in one book. Don’t get me wrong — I liked a good mystery, I liked conspiracies, I liked betrayals in my dystopian fiction. However, I felt a little bit overwhelmed with all the events happening…and then, that feeling would be abruptly interrupted with information overload, in the form of a dialogue. It seemed like some parts of the book were too much tell rather show, and even the encounter with the bad guy at the end felt more telling than showing. Also, while I liked Aegis as a heroine, I wasn’t sold on her past. I felt that it was opened up a little too late. If Aegis’ past was so important in the end, I didn’t feel it was stressed too much at the start since most of the focus was on her family and Dorian’s past. The romantic angle was kind of weak, too, and personally, I could have done without it. And if you would allow me to nitpick a bit — I was very distracted at how many synonyms of “said” were used. I’d like to believe that the characters don’t always roar or scream when they’re in a normal conversation. It is true what they said: replacing “said” a bit too many times in the text is very distracting.

I think Naermyth is the first of its kind that is not a graphic novel (correct me if I am wrong, though), and I think it’s a feat in itself. This book is a fulfillment of what some friends and I were wishing for a few months back: a fantasy novel written by a Filipino that makes use of the plethora of creatures from our own mythology. Despite my slight issue with the plot and the pacing and that little nitpick, I still enjoyed reading Naermyth. This is not YA, but I think YA dystopian fantasy fans will like this well enough. It’s a solid debut, and this book gives me hope that we will see more Filipino fantasy books on shelves (virtual or not) soon. It’s about time, don’t you think? :)

You can find more info on the book on the official website, and look, a book trailer!

YouTube Preview Image

Rating:

Other reviews:
Taking a Break

In My Mailbox (11)

I really did not mean to get any books these week (yes, I know I always say that), but Fully Booked Eastwood is on sale…so how can I resist? It’s not like Cyber Monday, but still. Resistance against books is always, always futile.

Oh, and I got some awesome galleys and some books I won arrived this week…and that’s totally free. I can’t help that too, right? ;)

In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store. Here’s this week’s stash!

BOUGHT:

  1. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. I got the UK edition after Chachic, Aaron and I browsed it in Fully Booked Gateway during the last FBB meet up. This hardly looks like a book at all, with its layout and designs inside. Plus it’s pretty cheap for somewhat of a “hardcover”.  Look:
  2. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. Grace and I were browsing through the 80% off table in Fully Booked Eastwood when I saw a very familiar spine. I picked it up and yes! It’s this book! Hard cover, 80% off! :) Of course I had to get it. Talk about steal. :P
  3. Naermyth by Karen Francisco. I was originally planning to get The Giver by Lois Lowry (yes, I haven’t read that yet!), but when I wandered over to the Filipiniana section in Fully Booked and saw this. I read the blurb and my pulse quickened — could it be? Local dystopian fantasy? It seems like it! I started reading this yesterday but my copy had a printing error so I returned it to Fully Booked. Now I have a proper copy and I can continue reading. Watch out for my review soon. :)

WON:

On the Edge and Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

I got great news almost a month ago that I won Dee’s 100+ Follower Giveaway. I get to pick any book (or books) worth $15 from Book Depository sponsored by The Book Quoter. I was wondering when the package would arrive and I was kind of worried, too, since we moved to an apartment and I don’t know if they would get delivered to me. Friday was a good day, though, when I saw the packages waiting at my dresser. Yay! I now have more Ilona Andrews books to read! Thanks again Dee and Book Quoter. :)

FOR REVIEW:

Lots of awesome books from Netgalley and Simon & Schuster! :)

  • The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa (currently reading The Iron Daughter, review of The Iron King up!)
  • My Soul to Steal by Rachel Vincent (must finish reading My Soul to Keep)
  • Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  • Choker by Elizabeth Woods
  • Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
  • Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
  • Haven by Kristi Cook
  • Deadly by Julie Chibbaro

So many books, so little time! :o I have no idea when I’ll be able to read this and my mountain of TBR…but I guess I should be used to that already, right?

What’s in your mailbox this week? :)