What I Read (3): Maria

What I Read

What I Read is a semi-regular guest feature in One More Page allows them to talk about what the title says: what they read. I believe that every reader has a unique reading preference and no reader is exactly the same. What I Read explores that idea, where I let the guests talk about their favorite, genre preferences, pet peeves and everything else in between. :)

So…it’s been a while since my last What I Read post. Apologies — it’s been…well, slow, and busy and quite honestly, I forgot about this feature for a while. I meant to have one a month for this, but alas, I’ve missed two months. Oh well. I did say this is a semi-regular feature, right?

Now that the apology is out of the way, it’s time to catch up! For the third installment of the What I Read feature, I have one of my book club friends with me here once again. A year ago, she sent me an email for an interview in her blog during Armchair BEA week. I don’t think we’ve met in person back then — I just knew her from Goodreads and her blog. I got to know her better during one of our book club trips, and we have pretty similar tastes in genres (but not necessarily books). :D I thought of featuring her this month too because she’s the moderator for our Fellowship of the Ring face to face discussion next week.

So without further ado, let’s give it up for Maria! :)

Maria and Jane Eyre

In ten words or less, what kind of books do you usually read?

Books that are adventurous, mysterious, suspenseful, and yes, a little romantic. :D

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Ender’s Game

Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Number of pages:  324
My copy: paperback, gift from Monique

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

* * *

So everyone who’s ever read and loved science fiction has read and loved Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. My friends who have read and loved science fiction also were true to their responsibility to push this book to everyone, particularly people who are curious about the said genre. Particularly, me.

But a little commercial first: I’ve always thought that I never read any science fiction book in my entire reading life. But it turns out, one of my favorite young adult series growing up was science fiction: Animorphs by K.A. Applegate. Five kids and one alien with the power to morph into any animal they touch against an alien race of parasite slugs set to invade the world? If that is not science fiction, I will eat my hat.

And so Ender’s Game. It was duly recommended, but for some reason a copy eluded me until my friend Monique found one for me. Of course, as luck would have it, I end up seeing copies of the book everywhere after I got the copy. But anyway! Of course, it takes me another year to read it, but I don’t really think it matters now.

The Wiggin children, Peter, Valentine and Andrew aka Ender, were all candidates for the soldier training program in their childhood, but only the youngest, Ender, makes the cut. Ender has always been distant with his family so joining Battle School wasn’t much of a difference in his young life. Ender’s skills made him a leader in Battle School, admired and hated at the same time by his classmates. But Ender’s brilliance in the Battle Room had a price — isolation, loneliness, and the fear that he is becoming like his older brother who he despises. But there are secrets around Ender’s training, secrets that could very well mean the survival of the human race in a war against an alien race for the last hundred years.

Here’s one thing about Ender’s Game: it’s so readable. I’m initially apprehensive of reading science fiction (and high fantasy) novels because I’m afraid of not being able to fully immerse into the world. If it’s not very obvious yet, I’m really a contemporary reader and most of the books I read are set in the real world, so reading something set in a different world, or set in the future is quite a challenge for me. Orson Scott Card made Ender’s Game very accessible, though, and it was easy enough to understand what was happening in Ender’s world. Oh, I didn’t really understand much of how the Battle School worked, or the space travel later into the book, but I had a pretty okay grasp with it early in the story, so reading it slowly became a breeze.

I loved the military set-up over the sci-fi aspect. People say this is really more of a military novel, and I kind of agree with that. Reading this reminded me of those Citizen Army Training days back in high school, where we’d practice rifle drills and do other activities during camp, like Search & Destroy and Escape & Evade (I hate the latter, btw). I liked reading about the strategies and the platoon (toon) set up and the promotions. I love reading about the war games in null gravity — it made me wish that laser tag games here were done in the same environment! I would probably be the first to be frozen in that, but it would be so much fun. It was fascinating to see how Ender came up with strategies to confuse his enemies in the games and wonder at how he was able to see it and make it work. And there isn’t just the military thing either. The political aspects of war — in space and on earth — were discussed, too, and it makes readers see that some well-placed words said (or written) on a platform can be enough to start a war. A bit of suspension of disbelief might be in order for the part of the novel is needed, but if you can believe that a six year old is the hope of the world against an alien race, then believing that part should be easy enough.

Poor Ender, though. I keep on forgetting that he was just a kid (six years old at the start of the novel) as the story progressed. He always seemed older, especially with all the military school talk. Ender’s fighter qualities were admirable and oftentimes scary, but it was hard not to root for him in the story. I sympathized a lot with Valentine, Ender’s sister, with how she cared for him because I wanted to take care of Ender too, and keep him a kid longer because he deserved to be one. I also liked Ender’s friends, too, especially the ones who were with him at the end. There was this one particular scene that really made my heart swell with happiness for Ender that involved his friends, and it shows that true friends are those people who are with you in your darkest hours.

There is a fair amount of violence in this book, so a fair warning to those who think that this is about some kids who get roped into a “save the world” thing. Even more horrifying is that these are just kids beating each other up. Despite that, Ender’s Game is pretty, well, darn good. I know I’m not a credible judge of science fiction since (like I said) I barely read the genre, but I think Ender’s Game is science fiction at its simplest and maybe at its finest, too. It’s no wonder why people kept on recommending this to me. If you’re a newbie to science fiction and you’re looking for titles to start with, then listen to everyone who has recommended this book to you because trust me: they are right about it. If it’s not enough, then let its awards push you to the right direction. Also, a movie is coming out next year. Enough reasons? Get a copy and remember: the enemy’s gate is down! :)

Rating:

Required Reading: March

Other reviews:
SF Reviews
reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac

Required Reading: April

Look, the first quarter of 2012 is over. I cannot believe it. (And goodbye, favorite month! Till next year!)

March was all sorts of busy and fun, mostly because of work and the birthday. But this busy status and all the days/nights out was taxing to my reading and I was still oh-so-slow. I am currently behind my reading challenge by 4-5 books, and a part of me is crazily scrambling to catch up. But I can’t seem to.

Even so, the bigger part of me didn’t really mind the slowness because I think I was able to read a lot of good books in the past month. It was more of quality over quantity and it’s a nice way to spend my favorite month knowing you read good books. :D So, a recap:

There were some fun reads and some great reads in the past month too, and like I said, it was quite a nice reading month, even if I was so slow.

Now what’s in store for April?

Required Reading: April

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Required Reading: March

Well hello there, favorite month!

Okay, January was some sort of a reading high and I blame it on the newness of the year. February was a different story — I don’t exactly know what happened, but I was a slower reader. Sometimes I could go for a day not flipping a book open. Books I normally finish within three to four days, I finish in a week. Maybe I was just too busy, but it felt weird to be reading a book for so long that isn’t even that thick.

But I have another theory. I think I may have gotten soft. Remember, my Required Reading theme for February was zombies, and I thought I would just be able to jump right into the undead shambling goodness…but no. Believe it or not, the zombie books I finished left me…grossed out. The only zombie book I was partially grossed out with was Married with Zombies, and that was an apocalypse book. I thought I had a stomach made of steel from all the zombie books I’ve read…but I was wrong, apparently. Which led to my being a slow reader last month, I guess.

Recap!

  • The Enemy by Charlie Higson (3/5)
  • The Little Prince by Antonine de Saint-Exupery (4/5)
  • The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell (5/5)

I read a total of 9 books this month, which isn’t really that bad. But I totally missed out on Warm Bodies (I would have read it if I could, but reviews talked of gross parts so I thought I’d pass for now) and Game of Thrones. I really hope to find time to squeeze GoT soon!

As for the TBR reducing challenge…gasp, my TBR still at 128. Ack. Most of them were galleys, anyway, and I only bought 3 books for February, two of them pre-orders while one is a secondhand book. Can I try to reduce my TBR to 125 next month? I hope so!

Required Reading: March

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In My Mailbox (9): Enders and Dust

Thought I’d do a quick post before I hit the sack again. Today I ran another 10 kilometer race, and my knees are killing me. I was slower by almost ten minutes from my personal record, but that’s probably because I didn’t have enough sleep (then again, I never had enough sleep before a race), and because there was just something wrong about how the entire event was organized. I’ll rant post about it in my personal blog sometime this week. :)

This week is a pretty small stash, but I did get a lot of awesome emails and did a lot of orders so there should be a pretty sizable stash next week. I’ve been very good with resisting to buy, too, especially after I’ve spotted a bunch of new books that I am interested in getting. I just keep on reminding myself three things:

  1. I still have a lot waiting to be read
  2. I have to save money for NaNoWriMo ML duties
  3. I’ll be packing up my books soon to move because we’ll be having our house renovated, and adding a bunch of books on the shelf will just make it hard to move out.

I’ve been a good girl, yes? :) So, just two books this week!

  1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Everyone has been recommending this book to me, but for some reason I can’t find a copy. So one day, I posted it on a wish list in our Goodreads group, and one of my new friends there kindly sent me a copy. Thanks Monique! :) I am not a sci-fi reader so normally I wouldn’t get Ender’s Game, but when people who don’t normally read sci-fi say this is good…well I’ve got to find out why for myself, too.What’s funny though, is now that I have it, I saw two copies of the book in National Bookstore. What up, world. :))
  2. Dust City by Robert Paul Weston. After posting this on as my Want Books entry a little over a week ago, I saw a copy of it in Fully Booked Eastwood the following weekend. I wasn’t supposed to get it, but I had it reserved so I can mull over it the next day if I will get it. Well, of course, I ended up getting it. And true to what Chelle said in her review, the cover is pretty:You’d actually have to touch it to see how nice it is. :)

Oh, the books behind the two books I featured this week are old books I haven’t read yet. You’re seeing the foot of my Mt. TBR. :P

I also got some pretty awesome emails this week! The best one is probably when Dee of e-Volving books told me I won her 100+ Follower contest! This is my first time to win a book contest that I actually really wanted to join, and the $15 from Book Depository sponsored by Book Quoter is a really awesome prize. :) I’ll post about the books once they get here, of course.

And finally, I received the One Lovely Blog Award (my second one!) from Kate of Literary Explorations. Thank you! :)

I should hit the sack now if I want to catch up on lost sleep and help my poor aching legs recover. I hope you all had a great weekend (long weekend for us in the Philippines!), and I leave you with the note that Monique wrote on the wrapping of the book she sent me:

Have a great week everyone! :)