Minis: Outbreak, Goodbyes and a Prince

I have some books lined up for review but I thought I’d get the shorter ones out of the way with another round of mini reviews. :)

Countdown by Mira GrantCountdown by Mira Grant
Newsflesh # 0
Publisher: Orbit
Number of pages: 84
My copy: ebook, bought from Amazon Kindle Store

The year is 2014, the year everything changed. We cured cancer. We cured the common cold. We died.

This is the story of how we rose.

When will you rise?

* * *

This is actually one of the last books I read for 2011, and I got this because I’m such a loyal reader of Mira Grant and her Newsflesh universe. Countdown is the a prequel to her story and it narrates just how the Rising happened through the different perspectives involved in the story. I liked how the story wasn’t really as simple as how it seemed when Georgia talked about it in Feed. There were so many people involved, some that were already known such as the developers of the cure, and also some unknown people like the activists that caused the virus to go out. It had just enough detail without being too scientific or too political, and the growing terror of what just might happen because of the chain of events was very well conveyed. The slow unveiling of the effects of the new virus strain was horrifying at its best and you just know that it’s too late when it all comes down.

While there’s no Georgia or Shaun in this book yet, we get a glimpse of their parents and how they got involved and what happened that could have led them to adopting the two. It wasn’t really narrated as a whole, but when the book is done, it’s easier to connect the dots.

This isn’t a required reading to fully understand the series, but for fans who are itching to read the last book in the trilogy, Countdown is a good pick to satiate this hunger.

Rating:

What is Goodbye? By Nikki GrimesWhat is Goodbye? by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Raul Colon
Publisher: Hyperion
Number of pages: 64
My copy:  hardbound, gift from KD

Jerilyn and Jesse have lost their beloved older brother. But each of them deals with Jaron’s death differently. Jerilyn tries to keep it in and hold it together; Jesse acts out. But after a year of anger, pain, and guilt, they come to understand that it’s time to move on. It’s time for a new family picture-with one piece missing, yet whole again. Through the alternating voices of a brother and sister, Nikki Grimes eloquently portrays the grieving process in this gem of a book that is honest, powerful, and ultimately hopeful.

* * *

I read and loved Nikki Grimes’ A Girl Named Mister so I was very excited to get this book from Kuya Doni during one of our Goodreads meet ups. A slim volume with illustrated pages, this is a book that discusses griefs and its different effects on people struggling with it. Jerilyn and Jesse just lost their older brother — too much too soon that they are at a loss at how to deal. Jerilyn holds it all together, showing an unruffled exterior but inside she is just as broken as how Jesse acts out. Questions about life, death and family surface and we get to see how the siblings and the rest of the family dealt with this loss. It will never be the same again, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be whole.

Nikki Grimes’ poetry was easy to read and the illustrations were a good complement to the story. True to form, I found myself shedding some tears at a certain page, and I honestly cannot imagine losing my one and only brother too soon to death. While this book offers no solutions on how to handle grief and death and loss, it shows a hopeful picture that someday, it will all be okay.

Rating:

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExuperyThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Publisher: Egmont
Number of pages: 96
My copy: paperback, bought from National Bookstore

A pilot forced to land in the Sahara meets a little prince. The wise and enchanting stories the prince tells of his own planet with its three volcanoes and a haughty flower are unforgettable.

* * *

I read this book sometime during high school, I think, not because of a school requirement but because people around me were quoting it and such. I remember being partly fascinated by it, but not so much to make it a favorite book. I just know that this book had a memorable line that everyone seems to know: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.

I ended up reading the book again for our book club’s discussion, and seeing that it was a short book, I read it just a few days before the discussion happened. Still the same — the book had that whimsical feel, with the little prince’s innocence and stories bringing the pilot (and the readers) to wonder if this little prince was the real thing. The book didn’t bring any new emotions, but it reminded me of just how sad I felt when I got to the end. I remember not knowing the answer to the question: what do you think happened to the little prince?

Nevertheless, the book gained more meaning to me after my friends and I had a very good (and brain-frying) discussion on it. Despite its thinness, The Little Prince is one of those books that pack a pretty heavy punch with its different adages that is pretty much applicable to so many things in life. I’d like to believe that people of all ages will be able to pick something interesting in this book, even if it gets a wee bit childish for older readers. After all, this was written as a children’s book.

However, I would have to agree: the meat of the book really happens with the prince’s conversations with the fox. Don’t get me wrong — the rest of the book was pretty lovely as well, but if you need the most popular quotes in the book, just look for that chapter. It’s pretty much all there.

Rating:

Faves of TwentyEleven: The Random

I’m a few days late to this part of my Faves of TwentyEleven post — sorry! Christmas got me a little too busy, so yeah. Too much food and time with friends will do that do you. But anyway, I have a few more days left of 2011 (Can you believe it!) and so I still have time to do this. :)

Faves of TwentyEleven is hosted by Nomes of inkcrush. And in case you’re interested, here are my other Faves of TwentyEleven posts:

Day Four: The Random

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Faves of TwentyEleven: The Books

I remember making my own set of best-of lists for last year, but this year I don’t have that same gimmick, so I’ll ride on other bloggers’ gimmicks instead. Ha. Here’s my first post for the Faves of Twenty Eleven hosted by Nomes of inkcrush! :)

Day One: The Books

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In My Mailbox (17): Goodreads Meet-Up

A day and a year ago, I met some of my now favorite people, the Filipino Group from Goodreads. Back then, we were just 12 in the meet-up:

gr-filipinosYesterday was the 5th meet-up of the group, and it was…well, monumental. I mean, compare the number last year to this year (thanks to Book Elf for the photo):

Class picture? :P

It was loads of fun, as usual, and like all other meet-ups, we were all crazy talking to each other and grabbing books everywhere. I was a zombie that day because I just came from night shift, but that didn’t mean it was less fun. I was just a bit lot loopy while it was all happening. :P We ended up staying until closing time in SM Megamall, and then some more walking after that before I finally crashed at my brother’s place to sleep and prepare for the 10k race the next day. See why I’m so sleepy now? :D

But I digress. As with all Goodreads meet-ups I’ve been to, there is always a rainshower of books. I don’t have a picture of the stash, but it was huge, to the point that some people don’t want to take the remaining ones anymore. And to those who got so many were all complaining of heavy baggage. :P

Anyway, I really liked my book stash yesterday. All of them were books that I really wanted to read:

  • What is Goodbye by Nikki Grimes – thanks Kuya Doni!
  • Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell – I don’t know who put this in the book pile, but thank you! I was already eying this one during the interview with the guests, and when our team won in the literary quiz, this was the first book I grabbed. :D
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – I don’t know who put this in the pile either, but I didn’t see it. Monique saw it, though, and she was kind enough to grab it for me. :)
  • Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock – thanks again to Monique! :) She saw this in Book Sale just as I put it on my wish list and got it for me.
  • The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty – from Aaron. He was putting this up for swap, I think? I used my “charms” to get it from him instead. LOL.
  • Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley – borrowed from Chachic. I cannot wait to read this. :)
  • Pink by Lili Wilkinson – borrowed from Celina. Yay Aussie YA. :)

I also finally got to meet Mina V. Esguerra in person, as well as Samantha Sotto, who will launch her debut, Before Ever After, this week. I got my copy of My Imaginary Ex signed by Mina (someone has a picture of us somewhere, so I’ll get that when they post it :D), and while I wasn’t able to get a book signed by Samantha, I’m definitely picking it up soon. :)

Oh, I also got some ebooks this week, and again, they’re books I am really excited about:

Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca LeeSaving June by Hannah Harrington

  • Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
  • Saving June by Hannah Harrington

I still badly need sleep now, but this weekend is definitely one for the books — literally, and figuratively. ;)

I hope you all had an awesome weekend! Have a great week everybody! :)

A Girl Named Mister

A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes
Publisher: Zondervan
Number of pages: 223
My copy: hardbound, won from Goodreads giveaway

My boyfriend used to think it was cute,
a girl named Mister.
Used to think I was cute.
Used to be my boyfriend
what feels like a million years ago.
Then again,
I used to be a good Christian girl,
the kind who would never, well…
Just goes to show how little people know.
Even I was surprised by me.
Now, I close my eyes
hoping to see exactly where I went wrong.

Mary Rudine, called Mister by almost everyone, has  attended church and sung in the choir for as long as she can remember. But then she meets Trey. His long lashes and smooth words make her question what she knows is right, and one mistake leaves her hiding a growing secret. Another Mary is preparing for her upcoming wedding and has done everything according to Jewish law. So when an angel appears one night and tells her that she—a virgin—will give birth, Mary can’t help but feel confused, and soon finds herself struggling with the greatest blessing the world will ever know. Feeling abandoned, Mister is drawn to Mary’s story, and together both young women discover the depth of God’s love and the mysteries of his divine plan.

* * *

I’m not a poetry person. When I was younger, I tried my hand at writing some poems because I wanted to be a writer. I started off with the poems with correct syllables and enough rhymes, and then I graduated to free verse poems which didn’t have the same poetic tone that other poems I read do. When I got to college and joined our literary folio, I
decided that I am not a poet, and while I appreciate some poems every now and then, I would really rather read prose.

I can’t really remember why I joined the Goodreads contest for A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes. I think I was too excited to join giveaways then, and I was just clicking on “enter” whenever I see it’s a genre or an author or even a publisher I’d like. I’m not always lucky with giveaways, so color me surprised when I found out I won this book. I got kind of hesitant when I found out that this was a novel in verse, but a free book is still a free book. Of course, the book was sent to my dad (and it kind of took forever to get there), and I wasn’t able to get it until he stopped over in the country last weekend before heading to China for a company event.

A Girl Named Mister is a novel in verse about a 14-year-old girl named Mary Rudine, nicknamed “Mister” for her initials. She’s your typical Christian teenager who grew up in church: she’s a part of the choir, her best friends were from church and she believes in preserving her purity for marriage. Then she meets Trey, whose beautiful eyelashes captured her heart and eventually everything she has. As Mister struggles with her secret guilt and its seed, another Mary’s story plays out. This teenage Mary has always been a good Jewish girl, and she was soon to be wed to Joseph. When an angel appears before her and tells her she would be a virgin mother, her world is turned upside down (and it’s not just because she would need to find baby clothes). Mister finds solace in this Mary, and as she gets to know more about her namesake, she finds out just how deep God’s love and how big God’s plans can be.

I breezed through this book in a night. Being written in verse, it was a quick and easy read, almost like I was reading some kind of Psalm. However, the issues it tackled weren’t really easy. The story is as real as it can be, and I know it is happening to other teenage girls everywhere in the world. The good thing about this novel is how the author juxtaposed Mister’s story with Mary’s story. It was kind of hard to fathom at first how Mister, who bore the weight of her sin with her literally, could relate to Mary the mother of Jesus,  whose pregnancy was divinely ordained. I liked how the author showed that even if Mister sinned, He still had a purpose for her and she is not a lost cause. It’s easy to put God in a box and think that He cannot do anything about us when we do something bad. But as I’ve learned — not only in this book but in real life — His ways are higher than our ways, and He is bigger than whatever sin we can ever commit in this life. No matter how big the guilt is, His grace is still bigger and stronger and more powerful than that.

I also liked how real Mary came off in this book. It’s easy to think that Mary as this sweet, solemn-faced woman who followed God’s will without hesitation. In Nikki Grimes’ novel, we see Mary’s struggles as she accepted God’s will, as she told Joseph and her parentsabout the angel’s message and even her struggles as she carried Jesus in her womb. It’s always nice to realize that even if Mary was set apart by God to carry His son, she was also still very human. This book helped me see another side of Mama Mary. I thought the author got it spot on with this particular part:

EASY

I always thought
Mary had it easy,
her knowing all along
God was the one who
wrote her story.
Guess I was wrong.
Turns out she needed God
as bad as me. (p. 171)

A Girl Named Mister is a quick but not exactly an easy read. It made me cry and sigh, but in the end it made me smile as I, with Mister, realize the power of God’s forgiveness, the grace of second chances and the depth of His love. :) Highly recommended.

Rating:

Book trailer: I thought the book’s trailer was very creative and almost cinematic. :) Guess the part where I started tearing up again. ;)

YouTube Preview Image

Other reviews:
Handle Like Hendrix