23 September 2013

Public Service Announcement

I'm done with Horns by Joe Hill. Hopefully I can post about my thoughts about the book sometime this weekend, after I watch The Killers before Friday. Yes, I love The Killers. I love listening to Under the Gun even if it's unreleased. I can listen to them all day and be happy. Well, the same way I could shut myself from the outside world and tune in to three Radiohead songs non-stop when I need some perspective. But I'm rambling.

I am debating whether I should pick up The Woman in Black or Among Others. I've started with Among Others - I'm at the part where Mori received word from her mother after meeting her first fairy while in boarding school. It's just that I find it difficult to read just a few paragraphs with the pockets of free time I get on breaks or before I sleep. Whilst The Woman in Black seems like the kind of book I need to put down every so often (yes, the title alone scares me to bits).

Then again, I think I have my answer.

08 September 2013

Stop Watching Him

A serial killer is preying on young boys in Quezon City, particularly in the dump site called Payatas. At least five bodies of young victims, all boys, were found with the entrails and hearts carved out and the faces peeled back. It starts with the thoughts of the serial killer himself: short enough to tease the reader into the story, and quickly proceeds to the discovery of another body left rotting in the mountain of garbage. This is F.H. Batacan's Smaller and Smaller Circles, a 155-paged novel that won at least three literary awards here in the Philippines; the first book I finished for Readers Imbibing Peril VIII.

While I try to support local authors, I rarely encounter local, realistic mysteries. This is probably the first time I read a serial killer story set in the Philippines.

The protagonists are not your usual suspects. The main man, the hero, is a priest. A Jesuit priest named Gus Saenz, who is also a forensic anthropologist. His assistant, so to speak, is also a Jesuit priest named Jerome Lucero, a clinical psychologist. On a special request by the Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the two act as consultants to the case, considering that they are the only two people who believe that the spate of murders in Payatas is done by a serial killer.

In the periphery, an investigative journalist named Joanna Bonifacio who is out for a story and has a beef against incompetent investigators of the NBI. And lawyer Benjamin Arcinas of the NBI, one of Joanna's favorite targets in her news segments. By the end of the book, all four, one way or another, come together in an attempt to stop the murderer from killing again.

This book feels like a two-part episode of Bones, particularly since Saenz is a forensic anthropologist like Brennan. While it starts with a body being discovered, we learn later on that it was the fifth body already and the two priests have been investigating the case for some time after the NBI Director asked Saenz for help. After the usual misdirection (necessary for a mystery) is resolved, we come face to face with a killer and we recognize him for both the monster that he is and what made him that way. There's science talk, music talk, a peek into the life of a Jesuit priest, and of familial ties that bind and burn us.

The chapter where the possible suspects are identified.

What I like about the book: The setting. You see, I've been to Payatas countless of times. People from the first world may not be able to imagine it but yes, it is a dump site and people scavenge there for a living. I can imagine bodies being dumped there, and I recognize that that is a morbid thought. With Payatas as the setting, I can understand why the other elements of the story - the serial killer's history, the way the victims are chosen, the reason why the deaths can easily be dismissed as random - work with the background. 

I also liked the Jesuits. Then again, I have a special fondness for Jesuits. These fictionalized Jesuits in the story feel like the real thing. Sort of. I also liked that part when Lucero's character felt like TV's Will Graham (in Hannibal) imagining the killer in his mind.

What I didn't like? Plenty. Well, not that plenty. It is a satisfying book to read. It's just that, when characters think in language other than English (or Filipino, for that matter), I am easily put off. Especially when the book does not provide for immediate translations. Heck, I took up Latin in college and that was some time ago and I can't even recall the Latin idioms used here. Or maybe that was my problem. But what about the Italian? A handful of thoughts from Joanna switching to Italian while on thinking mode? Was it unnecessary? I think so. Maybe it was important for the character to separate herself from what she was seeing at that time - a dead body, really. But hey, not all readers understand Italian. Do I have to Google those parts written in a foreign language? I hated that to bits. I may understand why a person, an actual person, can switch her thoughts from one language to another, but man, this is such a short book and I didn't need to turn on my computer to check what the hell was the character saying in her thoughts. Then again, I did not do that. I simply imagined what she might have thought. Problem solved. [To me it felt like "Oh I can speak and write in a lot of languages, keep up, dear reader!"] Sorry, I rambled.

And there's a bit (well, a lot) of suspension of disbelief in the part when the killer is cornered. Maybe that's why I imagined the book to be an episode of a TV series.

02 September 2013

Perilous Tasks Ahead

This is it! For now, at least. I've a tendency to change my mind. 

My book pile for Readers Imbibing Peril VIII

It's just a pile, though obviously I'm aiming for Peril the First. I've always chosen Peril the First the few times I joined this challenge even if I've been noticeably absent in the blogging world for the past couple or so years. 

Notice my gadgets? My Kindle has Joe Hill's NOS4A2. My iPad has Joe Hill's Horns. I started Horns last week, around the time Carl posted about the challenge. But, after I finally secured a copy of F.H. Batacan's Smaller and Smaller Circles, I felt the need to set aside Ig's quest for revenge against his longtime friend Lee for Merrin's death and start on the story about a serial killer here in the Philippines.

Short of saying "Challenge accepted!" Let's hope I get to finish all of them, or even more. 

26 August 2013


Is just around the corner.

I will join my favorite reading challenge. Which means I will read books and post about them. Hopefully.

Now I try to look for books.

That's all for now.

10 August 2013

Angels and Their Wars

The last four books I've read dealt with angels. Stories of angels. I liked the first series better. The second one is okay enough, something I read to pass the time and forget about stuff like life and living it. Like I said, both are stories of angels, one way or another. And there are other striking similarities.

The first series is not yet done. I am referring to Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. The second one is Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments. I'm done with Taylor's first two books and waiting for the publication of the last one. I'm on the third book of Clare's series.

I did mention striking similarities. Both books have strong, young female leads with striking head of hair: Karou and Clary. They both have their histories/past lives somehow hidden from them. They both fall for "soldiers," so to speak - Akiva and Jace - both lovely specimens of the male species. Although at this point, Akiva wins it for me, considering he's a seraph. Ah, I digress. Both Karou and Clary hold the key to a war brewing amongst supernatural/demonic/angelic species. I think. They both have bestfriends who join them in the "war," one way or another. And, the lovers - Karou and Akiva, Clary and Jace - are both torn apart by histories/past lives hidden from them, or something to that effect. Oh, and both Karou and Clary draw, I mean, they are artists, aside from the fact that they both possess "powers."

But I'm drawn to Laini Taylor's series even if I'm not in the right frame of mind to discuss it right now.

I've never been to Prague. But a part of me wanted to fly while I was reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Taylor's words translated vividly in my mind. I can picture a blue-haired girl protected by a seraph from two other equally beautiful and frightening seraphims. The burned hand print at doors leading to other worlds. The chimaera. The Misbegotten. Eretz. Astrae. I'm rambling, right?

I don't normally read while commuting. I get dizzy when I'm in a moving vehicle and I attempt to read. All that was forgotten while I was reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I was pulled from the start - Karou with her drawing books, illustrations of chimaera who brought her up. The necessity of teeth in Brimstone's trade chilled me to the bone. And then the other important revelation - Karou's history - when it unfolded, while a part of me expected it (because both Karou and Akiva were drawn to each other), it still floored me nonetheless. I jumped to the next book after that and well, hated the idea that trilogies are ruining my reading plan when I realized the last part of the series will be published next year. What will I do in the meantime?

I know the answer to that question. Read some more. There are other books out there.

Why I read The Mortal Instruments? A friend gave me a copy and I wanted to read it before I watch the film version. This is my short take on the matter: the backdrop is intriguing: there's a race of Shadowhunters tasked to eliminate demons that roam our cities unseen. The blood of the angels run in every Shadowhunters veins. They have a treaty with the downworlders - the vampires, werewolves, whatever. They also have a treaty with the fey folk. They call us, normal people, mundane. But all these intriguing backdrop are just that: a backdrop, for the love story between Clary - who grew up in the mundane world - and Jace - a Shadowhunter with a communication skills of a brat. At least that's how I see it. I'm a few chapters into the third book and I'm still in that mindset. And most of the times I just skim the pages until I get to the fight parts. Hahaha. The reason I'm watching the film version is Aidan Turner. Enough said.

So, this is not a review. I just want to post.


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