Minis: Alternate Endings, Award Winners and Love Stories

I feel this counts as cheating, but sometimes, I read some short stories and books just to up the number of books I read. Is that bad? They can’t really be books since they’re super short sometimes, but they count as one because they’re stories. Right? Or I’m just making excuses?

But anyway, I am still reading every-so-slowly and I really don’t know what’s up, but I will stop worrying about that. And I will “cheat” anytime I want to, so there. :P Besides, cheating means more Mini-Reviews posts, right? :D

Fed by Mira Grant Fed by Mira Grant
Publisher: Orbit
Number of pages: 53
My copy: ebook

An alternate ending to the first novel in the Newsflesh trilogy, Feed.

* * *

So I actually wrote a review on this on Goodreads as soon as I finished reading it because I was so overwhelmed. Here’s the short review in verbatim, and right now I still stand by this. Mira Grant, you are an evil genius.

If you haven’t read Feed yet, don’t even try opening this. Read it first, digest it, and then come back for this when you’re ready enough to do so.

Well if you think having your heart broken from Feed wasn’t enough, try this alternate ending. I never thought it could happen this way, but when you think about it, this seemed like the way it could and would happen.

Of course, if you’ve read Deadline, questions will pop up about how this ending happened. But that doesn’t make this less heart breaking.

Mira Grant, I am in awe.

Rating: [rating=5]

The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu
Publisher: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Number of pages: 15
My copy: ebook

A gentle fantasy. Love, paper tigers, mail order bride, culture clash.

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I wouldn’t have heard of this short story if it wasn’t for my Goodreads friends who started reviewing it on their profiles.The Paper Menagerie is a short story about a boy whose mom was a mail-order bride from China who can barely speak English and can make magical paper origami. The boy had a collection of moving paper animals from his mother as a kid, and it was their odd but sweet means of communication. However, as the boy grew up, he had to deal with his friends who don’t understand their family set-up and eventually, he started drifting apart from his mother.

This short story reminded me of all those stories that I used to read as a kid, the ones that make me feel guilty and inspired at the same time — guilty because I know that I can be like the kid who push away her parents because I am starting to have my own life, but also inspired because it makes me not want to have the same fate as the kids in the story. The fantasy elements in The Paper Menagerie were indeed gentle, and at first I wasn’t sure if I read it right. It made me wonder for a moment if origami paper animals were really supposed to move and I’ve been doing the things I used to do wrong.

This is short and sweet, and it would take little time to read it. It left me with a feeling that…well, I don’t want to end up being like the boy in the end. It’s not the kind of regret that anyone wants to have, for sure. You can read The Paper Menagerie here, or listen to the story here.

Rating: [rating=4]

Comic Stories About Love & Heartbreak Comic Stories About Love and Heartache by Various Authors, edited by Elbert Or

Comic Stories About Love and Heartache by Various Authors, edited by Elbert Or
Publisher: Psicom
My copy: gift from KD

The long-awaited anthology contains eleven stories exploring characters who have loved and been loved, have broken hearts and had their hearts broken and still love (or long to be loved).

* * *

Here’s my theory about love stories, or at least, anything romantic: my appreciation level in the story is directly related to the state of my heart while I was reading it. Wow, look at that, me using that phrase state of my heart. But it’s true, isn’t it? It’s easier to appreciate happy love stories when you’re happy, and heartache stories resonate more when you more or less share the same state, or have been in that state before and you can relate.

So how exactly did I find this comic book? Well, if the state of my heart was any indication (and I am probably digging a grave for myself by writing this), I liked it. Maybe I’m just really a romantic at heart, or I’m just a generally happy person, or there’s something else, but I thought this book is pretty sweet, despite it being “stories of love and heartache”. I’m no expert at art, but I appreciated the comics, especially the cute stories in between each major story.

I guess this is one of those books that show different facets of love, and how things can work out or how things may not work out. It’s a very quick read, and I finished it in one sitting, but I didn’t feel as if I wanted more. Perhaps the reading was enough to satisfy the state of my heart then.

My favorite part in the entire anthology is the last story, Red String, about a man who has been looking for his soul mate by looking for whoever was tied to the other end of the red string on his finger. I don’t know about you, but I found the last part quite…hopeful.

The Red String

Okay, maybe I am just a happy person. :)

Rating: [rating=4]

After the Storm: Stories on Ondoy

After the Storm: Stories on OndoyAfter the Storm: Stories on Ondoy by Various Authors, edited by Elbert Or
Anvil, 128 pages

The pieces in After the Storm were mostly written in the midst of and immediately after the typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009. The writers share their experiences of the typhoon, their insights and reflections, their hopes and aspirations. Long after the news media has moved on to the next big headline, After the Storm hopes to stand as written record to remind everyone that this happened. We were there. We are still here.

Two years ago, on this day, I woke up and found it was raining hard. It was a normal occurrence, of course, since it was the rainy season at that time. I was all ready to snuggle down into bed and enjoy a rainy bed weather, thanking that I was safe and sound with my family, at home.

Then this happened:

September 26, 2009

It was two years ago today that Typhoon Ketsana, locally own as Ondoy, hit our country, submerging Metro Manila underwater. It should have been a normal day, especially for us since it has never flooded in the 20 years that I lived where I lived. But that day changed everything, and in a span of hours, we found ourselves trying to secure all the important things we own away from the rising waters of a flood that got into our house, and eventually evacuating to our neighbor’s house where we stayed the next two nights.

Typhoon Ketsana/Ondoy changed my life, and while I think I have pretty much moved on from this flood, it’s still one of the things that I will never be able to forget.

So that’s why I felt that this collection of essays edited by Elbert Or, After the Storm, is pretty much a required reading for me. When you survive a disaster like this, it’s either you completely turn away and try to forget about it, or move on and remember it every now and then, using it to make you a little bit stronger. I choose the latter.

After the Storm is filled with essays from different people sharing their various experiences that happened before, during and after the typhoon. These essays range from a creative piece told from the point of view of a floating hardbound book, to a senator’s reflections on the effects of the typhoon and the resiliency of the Filipino spirit, to a person’s thoughts on volunteering and even a firsthand account of a survivor from Provident Village in Marikina, one of the hardest hits of the flood. Needless to say, this was one of the books that I should not have read in public, because I found my eyes filling with tears every now and then. It’s hard to forget the fear, the disbelief, the wondering if things will ever be the same again after this, and if we will ever even recover from this.

To be honest, I wasn’t really feeling the first part of the book. It felt like some of the entries were written just to impress people, or to pat their egos about volunteering. I couldn’t relate, and I felt like it lacked the proper empathy that victims survivors would look for. I felt exasperated at the truth that shows just how unprepared we are, and how much the government lacked, and how some people pointed fingers at that. Some talked so much about volunteering that it almost didn’t sound sincere. On the other side of the spectrum, there was one essay that talked about how it is better not to volunteer and instead go back to work and donate money because it would be more helpful. As much as it made sense, I was kind of miffed. Are you just trying to comfort yourself with the fact that you didn’t take time off from work to help out? Come on. Tell that to the people who’s on the receiving end of the help.

But then somewhere in the end, I realized that maybe, just like grieving, there is never really a single way in moving on from calamities such as this. Maybe people cope differently. Maybe some people get so moved that they have to move physically, that they have to do something about it, such as organize a sandwich drive or volunteer for various relief efforts. Maybe some people get so shocked that they can’t do anything, except maybe find a way to spread the word. Maybe some people get moved to write. Maybe, some victims start off with shock, sadness, disbelief until they find the strength in themselves and in other people to help them become survivors instead.

There are people who suffered much more than I did, but it wouldn’t change the fact that Typhoon Ketsana/Ondoy changed my life. I think and I hope it changed everyone’s lives, with it has tested us. Anthologies such as this may not be perfect, it may not contain a very accurate account of everything that happened in those dark and stormy days, but I must agree that it’s a way of reminding us that it happened. And while we must move on, we must not forget.

Two years ago today, Ondoy surprised all of us.

We were there.

Yes, we are still here.

And yes, we are still standing.

And maybe, that’s really the point of this book.

Rating: [rating=3]

My copy: paperback from National Bookstore

Cover & blurb: Goodreads

Other reviews:
taking a break