#T5W | Better Than The First

This week, we are talking about Second/Middle Books That Are the Best in the Series.

Long time no post. I have good reasons for that.

I wrote a fic! It’s in the Yuri!!! ON ICE fandom but inspired by my new obsession, Pitbulls and Parolees. It’s aptly called Poodles and Figure Skaters. It’s Makkachin-centric. Now, I’m so inspired to write more fic. I haven’t finished anything in almost ten years. I even have a Generation Kill fic that is very loosely based on Jane Eyre… 60,000 words and counting. And unfinished. It’s almost done… almost seven years ago.

Another thing that is taking my mind off blogging is Pitbulls and Parolees. Thank goodness for Animal Planet Go. They have all the seasons on there and I’m loving this show so much. If I’m not reading for Tome Topple, I’m probably watching this.

So there’s that. This week’s topic is quite a bit of a challenge. Like with other series lists, I realize that I read a lot of stand alones in the past. I have quite a few series on-going and not a lot finished. And from those I’ve finished, I’m not a huge fan of either the middle book or the series as a whole. While I agree that The Winner’s Crime is the best in the series, I’m not really impressed. I haven’t finished A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy yet so I can’t say for sure if ACOMAF is the best. And Siege & Storm is only better than the other books because of Nikolai’s introduction to the story. IMHO, anyway.

I have three books, one movie, and one anime series for you. I hope you enjoy!

Taken 3 years ago, almost to the day!

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.
This should be the only title in this list. Catching Fire was leaps and bounds better than The Hunger Games and Mockingjay. Even the movie was fantastic. It was all action from the get-go and it was such an adventure. I thought it was going to be tedious because it was potentially just a retelling of the events of the first book but it was so much more fun. Then Mockingkay. Well, let’s not talk about that.

Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy.
I loved the first book, Him. When I thought it can’t get any better, it did. Us didn’t have the angst from miscommunication and uncertainty from the first book. The relationship was already established and all they had to deal with was the effect of fame and fortune on their relationship. Plus, the new characters were awesome. So much that I actually want a book about them.

Spiral by Koji Suzuki.
I say this again and again, I rated Ring 5 stars but this, only a 4. But I thought this was better than Ring. Oh man, this was a mindfuck. I thought I would merely skim read this but I was hooked all the way to the end. I understand that this might not translate to film as successfully as Ring. This book doesn’t have a long-haired girl in white that comes out of TV sets. It has a terribly smart virus. Scary.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
This is actually – officially – my favorite movie of all time. While I can recite The Fellowship of the Ring from memory, I love rewatching The Two Towers. Especially the Helm’s Deep scene and when the ents attack Isengard. What I do is I try to track ONE ORC and see where it goes. There’s always something new whenever I watch this.

Free! Eternal Summer
The second season of the Free! anime series. I love Free! Iwatobi Swim Club but I find myself rewatching Eternal Summer more. They’re all friends in this series and everything means so much more. All of them have grown and it sort of became more of a slice-of-life than a gimmicky sports dramedy. I love this series so much! I’ve since met one of the voice actors from the anime so it made it much more special.


That’s my list! Now, let me go back to writing my next YOI fic… this time, inspired by another anime, sweetness & lightning. I’m gonna have so much fun rewatching this series!

#T5W | I’m (a) Game(r)

This week, we are talking about Books That Would Make Good Games.

One thing you may not know about me is that I’m a gamer. Sure, I spectate more than I actually play but I’ve always had a controller in my hand since the classic Nintendo Famicom. I had three PSX consoles, 2 PS One, 2 PS2, a PS3, 3 PSPs, a PS Vita, and a PS4 Pro. My brother and I are actually planning to buy another PS Vita because the one we have now is rooted in the Japanese PlayStation store. And if it’s not yet obvious, we’re Playstation fans. I’ve never even held a GameBoy or a Nintendo DS in my life. No joke. XD

My favorite genres are Japanese RPG, survival horror, and fighting games. Tekken 3 is like the national video game in the Philippines. Final Fantasy VIII was my top favorite JRPG until recently. And while kids spend the day with their dads in parks, malls, or fixing cars… I was helping him beat Silent Hill. Today, I still love Tekken and have grown to love Street Fighter. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel has dethroned FF8 as my favorite JRPG so much that I am seriously contemplating on buying a Windows system so I can play the game’s re-release with 5000 extra voice over clips. And I think Resident Evil: Biohazard is one of the scariest video games ever! I can talk you to the ground about video games like I can with books and anime.

Anyway, I figure this is going to be a long post. I will not only name 5 (or more) books that would make great video games but I will try to mention games that can be good books too. And I will be categorizing them into genres/modes instead of the book’s genres. This is going to be fun!

Continue reading

The Olympics Book Tag

Photo credit: thepancakelife.com

Photo credit: thepancakelife.com

Yes, I know I’m a month late but it’s only these past two days that this tag showed up on my “Suggested Videos” scroll on Youtube. I checked it out and hey, I wanna do it too.

I would have you know that the Olympics has a special connection to my very existence. I was born on the exact same day as the Opening Ceremonies of the Seoul Summer Olympics. Google that and you’ll know my exact age. Yup. Exact. So I make it a point to watch at least the Opening Ceremonies at every Summer Olympics. And Swimming. And Tennis, of course, my favorite sport to watch. In fact, it was at the 1988 Olympics that they reintroduced tennis as an official Olympic sport since 1924. See, tennis… South Korea… it’s all in the cards since the day I was born.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s head on over to the tag. I’ll add a few anecdotes here and there apart from my answers.

OPENING CEREMONY – Books You Loved From the First Page
(My favorite Opening Ceremonies ever is Beijing’s epic production.)

Vicious by VE Schwab. It was my 2nd book by her and I knew I was going to love it from the first page. I tend to enjoy her “adult” writing vs her “YA” style. It’s dark, very calculated and structured. I loved it all the way through. I really hope that the sequel comes out soon.

CYCLING – Favorite Road Trip Book
(My house watched Tour de France. My folks even met a couple of yellow jacket wearers.)

I’ve only read one that I’m positive is a road trip and that is Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. And I loved it. I never thought that I would put a YA Contemporary under “Favorites” but this book decided to come into my life.

TRIATHLON – Book With A Good Love Triangle
(My favorite triathlon event is not from the Olympics but from Superman is Back.)

Actually, the book that I’m currently reading has a good love triangle. I’m having a hard time reading it but the triangle between Mather, Meira, and Theron from Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch is being handled well. I can’t pick between the two!

HANDBALL – A Book You Didn’t Really “Get”
(Why handball? LOL. I watched a bit of this during the Rio Olympics and I just watched it for the pretty.)

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes. A lot of people sing its praises. But I… actually unhauled it right after reading the last page. The cover didn’t have anything to do with the story; the story itself was all over the place. Whut?

BEACH VOLLEYBALL – A Book Set in Summer
(I was supposed to go to a beach volleyball charity meet by Josh Hutcherson but oh well.)

Summer is the season of YA Contemporary and Beach Reads. I don’t read a lot of either of those. So I really don’t have an answer for this item.

FENCING – A Book With A Lot of Fighting/Bloodshed
(I watched the semis of Men’s Fencing. There was this cute American guy competing. Hah!)

I would have to give it to Serena by Ron Rash. This books doesn’t shy away from death and killing. More than that of A Song of Ice and Fire even.

GYMNASTICS – A Book With A Lot of Plot Twists
(I used to watch this religiously back when the Chinese and Russians dominated the sport.)

Uh hello, Morning Star by Pierce Brown. What was that towards the end? And the ending!

SWIMMING – A Books that Made You Sob
(Don’t judge me… but I like Ryan Lochte. The Swimmer. His “Lochte Turn” is life. But just… sigh, don’t open your mouth.)

I don’t really cry when I read books. Yes, I get touched but not to the point of crying. But there’s this part of Voyager by Diana Gabaldon that absolutely destroyed me. If you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about. You know, print shop… photos… Claire… Jamie. Yup.

GOLF – A Slow-Paced Book
(I tried watching golf but I don’t get it and I don’t have the patience for it.)

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I didn’t really have a hard time reading it but it was a brick of a book and I remember just staring at huge blocks of text with so few breaks. I do like that book but man, it took a while.

TRAMPOLINE – A Childhood Favorite

The Nancy Drew Mysteries. Of course. I loved it then, I still love it now.

EQUESTRIAN – A Book Featuring Animals

The Saga graphic novels by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples feature something named the “Lying Cat”. I want one.

HURDLES – A Book You Struggled to Finish
(To me, it ain’t the Olympics until the track & field events start LOL.)

I’m struggling right now. Snow Like Ashes. It’s the writing that is throwing me off. I like the story well enough but everything about the writing is reminding me why I stayed away from YA at the first place. But I’m almost there and I’m determined to finish.

SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING – A Book With Great Friendship
(I enjoy watching the Diving events more than Synchronized Swimming.)

It’s not a tag without Harry Potter by JK Rowling. Especially the first book. As they grew up, romance began to creep into their relationships but back when things were simple, it was cute.

BONUS – Books that Actually Feature Olympic Sports

I thought I could get away without mentioning this book but The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. You know… archery. Also, The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. Legolas.

There you go. Not only a bunch of book recommendations, but a little something about me as well.

What’s your favorite sport? Do you play a sport? Let me know. Let’s talk in the comments!

#T5W | Least Favorite in a Favorite Series

This week, we’re talking about five least favorite book in my favorite series.

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Ah, series. I’ve started a lot. I’ve abandoned quite a few. I’m determined to finish more. And I’ll probably start new ones in the coming months. Sigh. It never ends.

On this list, I’ll include three series that have ended, two that are ongoing but I’ve read all the books released so far, and an honorable mention – an ongoing series but I’ve not read all the books already released. Got it? Good.

  1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown, the first book in the Red Rising trilogy.
    Oh boy. If I were to read it today, I would’ve quit the series. But there was something about the characters that made me decide to stick with it. I bought the 2nd book digitally on the release date and LOVED it. Same story with the finale book. I can talk about this trilogy to the ground. I love it. Just… be patient with the omelette du fromage info dump that is the first book.
  2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, the 5th book in the Harry Potter series.
    I blame Dolores Umbridge for this. I read this in two days. It usually takes me less than 24 hours to read a Harry Potter book. But I hated Umbridge so much that I had to take extended coffee breaks.
  3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, the 3rd book in The Hunger Games trilogy.
    Isn’t that just unfortunate? An awful book to close out an amazing series. What the hell happened? Catching Fire was everything! Movies > Book. That’s just the fact.
  4. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, the 3rd book in the Robert Langdon series.
    I just thought it was not as thrilling as the other books in the series. It’s based in the United States and frankly, I’m not that interested in the whole American History aspect of it.
  5. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz, the continuation to the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson.
    This is kind of unfair because this book has a totally different author than the original trilogy but… eh, my expectations were only partially met. However, this series is in my auto-buy list.

Honorable mention:

  • Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, the second book in the Outlander series.
    I stopped reading midway through book 5. Five seems to be my magic number for a lot of things. But I didn’t DNF. I just took a break. Understand that these are HUGE books. I sort of marathon’d it from book 1 and I remember I slowed down and got a bit bored in the 2nd one. The 3rd and 4th books are fan-freakin-tastic and I flew through them like nothing. This one wasn’t bad… I just remembering being a bit disinterested in some parts.

I have a lot of series sitting on my shelf, both physical and digital. My goal for 2016 is to at least finish 5 series. I’ve already finished the Red Rising trilogy and I have Legend, Parasitology, and Graceling Realm up next. Hopefully. I can do this!

#BOOKBLOGWRIMO – DAY TWENTY-TWO #ShowMeYourShelves

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11/22 – #ShowMeYourShelves

I just very recently updated my shelving situation. Actually, I bought a new shelf. I have another one that is in complete disarray right now so we won’t talk about that. Let’s talk about new and pretty stuff!

 

It’s the Ameriwood™ Dark Russet 5-Shelf Bookcase that I got from Big Lots. My brother and I assembled it, dragged it across the house to our tiny little space. But it works well enough. Our room is like a 2-person dorm room and it fits nicely between our beds. (My bed is the one with the alpaca.)

Let’s go level by level, shall we? Starting from the top:

That’s my most priced Broadway possession. No one in the world has that. I have almost ALL of their autographs on that photo. And if my life is going to be defined by one photo, this will be it. I’m so proud of this shot.

And oh, by the way… this is my JK Rowling and Jane Eyre shelf. I was going to say Harry Potter but The Casual Vacancy is there, because same author – I never really got past Chapter 7. Behind the frame are my paperbacks of HP 1-4. And Psys Funko Pop figure. Primrose Past is written by Caroline Rose Huntgrandmother of Stark Sands who is in the photo. And of course, several copies of Jane Eyre.

This is my passion shelf. I love each and everything on this shelf forever and ever. Lord of the Rings, Les Miserables, Spartacus, The Borgias, Generation Kill, Pillars of the EarthTroy is in there because Orlando Bloom and it’s a special edition set. As many of these things are. The black box beside the LOTR books houses a replica of Thorin’s key. That Gollum is special edition too, from The Two Towers.

If you look closely, I have pretty much have LOTR in all separate forms of DVD it came in. And I’m still on the look out for more.

I wanted to call this my HBO shelf. I have my Generation Kill (and related) books as well as my remaining bottles of True Blood. But I also have my empty Butterbeer glass and mug there, from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But on the other side, I have my many copies of The Sound of Music, one for every five-ten years anniversary, I think. Then my other musicals such as Rent and Mamma Mia!

On top of my military books, there are two Korean books. Well, Pieces of You by Tablo is in English but he’s a Korean rapper, leader of Epik High. Then under that is Big Bang‘s Shout to the World (세상에 너를 소리쳐). That one is 100% in Korean. All my physical copies of Miss Peregine’s is there too as well as my special signed copy of Heat Wave (signed by almost all of the season 1-2 main cast of Castle). I heard of The Social Animal by David Brooks from Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away so that belongs here too.

Up next is my Outlander and Sherlock level. And my extra LOTR stuff too. As you can see, they’re pretty heavy so I had to put them near the bottom. And yeah, my miscellaneous Benedict Cumberbatch stuff is here too. Five of these Diana Gabaldon books are signed. Then the Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch stuff. I’m still collecting his filmography so I might move the DVDs out of there when I get more. (I recently got the limited edition gift set, by the way.)

And finally, my blurry coffee table level. Look, more LOTR goodness!

The heaviest stuff goes on the bottom. All my LOTR art books, movie guides, special edition magazines, references, screenplays. Together with my YA stuff… those The Hunger Games books, those are NOT in English. They’re in Tagalog! I know I have Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone lying around somewhere. It’ll go to the HP shelf once I find it. Then my signed The Maze Runner books. Those thin books between The Hobbit books and the photo albums are by Viggo Mortensen. I’m also on the hunt for those.

So there’s my new shelf. I hope I keep it as neat and tidy as what you can see here.

 

TOP TEN TUESDAYS | I got through it… eventually.

When I say that I’m open to reading anything, I really do mean it.  But it doesn’t mean I have to like it or should have an easy and enjoyable time doing it. I will try all genres at least once.  That way, I find my “comfort genre” – historical fiction – but even in that classification, I stumble upon books that are difficult to get through whether they tug at my heartstrings or they bore me or I have issues with the author’s style.

Based on my experience while reading The Fault in Our Stars, emotion doesn’t really sway me.  I mean, I cried harder over fan fiction than TFIOS.  If anything, it only pushes me faster. I breezed through Drums of Autumn so fast because of all the great moments.  So far, the Outlander series isn’t giving me any trouble. But I can’t say the same for the other books that I’ve been reading.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday , we’re listing down the Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read (because difficult of book, subject matter, because it was cringeworthy– however you want to interpret)

1. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.
I’ve said this once, I will say it again.  This is one of the most disappointing moments of my reading history. I don’t think I ever devoured a YA book like I did Catching Fire.  I loved it so much, my excitement for the final book was immeasurable. When I told my friends (who had read Mockingjay), they gave me sympathetic looks. Within the first three chapters, I understood why.  I have a full review of it but in a nutshell, Collins just gave up. I’m hoping the movie will redeem it. And you can’t NOT read it. It’s a friggin’ trilogy!

2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.
“Hate” is a strong word but if I were to use it on a book, I’d use it on this one. My review for this book has been burning a hole in Drafts for quite some time. At first, I wanted to post my immediate thoughts on it but I decided to cool down and be more careful about it. I wanted to read it because year-end lists were raving about it. I disliked it within the first few pages and I should’ve taken it as a sign of what’s to come. Nope. My ol’ stubborn self soldiered on. I cannot tell you how many times my eyes glazed over at how tedious, boring this was.

3. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful story. The writing is magnificent. But it dragged so much. And all character names are mentioned in full. Some characters have three names! It’s like reading The Fiery Cross and seeing this, “I’ve only the one life – and that’s you, mo chridhe,” said James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, instead of just “Jamie”. But I got through it, with much skimming and eyes glazing over. The words are flowery which I think added to the drag. But like I said, it’s a beautiful story. I won’t be reading it again.

4. The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
You do know that all 3 books come in one tome, yeah? This is a labor of love. Even if I read the three books separately, it still takes a very long time. Like ents, you know? 😉  But by now, I’ve seen the movies so many times that I can skip those that are included in the movies and just read the parts that were left out.

5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
Oh my feelz.  This was emotionally difficult to read. I know I said something about not being affected by that but I found myself stopping at certain parts just to collect myself. This has no happy moments at all. You finish the book feeling so sad and heavy.

6. any of the non-Harry Potter works of JK Rowling.
How tough? I still haven’t finished any of them. Boring. Generic. I’ll stick with the magic.

7. What Maisie Knew by Henry James.
I had a hard time even starting this book! The language is too flowery and tedious. I mean, who wants to read a continuous paragraph that consists of  three long-winded sentences stretched over one-and-a-half pages? I nearly gave up by the first chapter. But it’s a heartwarming story and I guess it was worth the effort.

8. Wicked by Gregory Maguire.
This is more my fault than the book’s really. I read this book AFTER I got obsessed over the musical. Therefore, I was expecting the same excitement from the book. Halfway through, my smile gradually turned into a frown.

9. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.
I remember reading this and mentally screaming at the pages, “BULLSH*T!!!” Anger was what I felt when I read this book. Just thinking about it fills me with rage.

10. Dirty Little Secrets by Kerry Cohen.
This was so hard to read because I disagreed with a lot of stuff being talked about.

Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay / Suzanne Collins

I think I now know why I cannot get into this trilogy all that much.  At first, I thought I got turned off by the hype and that fact that it is a young adult novel.  I just wasn’t buying it.  But it wasn’t any of that.  I read the first book and it was okay at best.  I watched the movie and liked it a lot.  And you know in my Catching Fire review, I loved it.  Yet one thing bothered me about that book… the writing.

I had the same problem with this.  I had such high hopes after the very well-crafted second book.  I could not wait to read about what happens to Katniss and Peta, and even to Gale!  (I am Team Peeta all the way but I like Gale too.)  In the first two books, Collins introduced these characters and gave them storylines that made me care so much for them.  I felt sorry for Peeta, sympathized with Gale, wanted Katniss to succeed.  But by the end of this book?  I don’t know what happened.

The story picks up where the second one left off, at District 13.  There, Katniss and the other rescued victors are recovering and adjusting to their new home.  Not all of them were saved.  Peeta, together with Johanna and Enobaria, were captured by The Capitol.  Under the leadership of President Coin of District 13, Katniss, Gale, Finnick, and other soldiers will try to unite the Districts, infiltrate The Capitol, and rescue Peeta and the others.  For Katniss, she has one more goal… to kill President Snow.

Sounds action-packed, right?  Well, it is.  But the writing did not do those ideas any justice.  Everything felt rushed, especially towards the end.  Things were just starting to heat up and then I noticed that there were only about 25 pages left. Told in Katniss’ POV, it was like she was merely narrating a story while in a daze.  I think months pass by in the book where nothing much happened.  The deaths of some of the well-loved characters were mentioned in passing.  Half the time, I had nothing to go on.  So and so died and we’ll just forget about him/her, okay?  Then what?

There were so many things that I was looking forward to in this book and it is just frustrating the way they concluded.  The author could’ve done so much more.  It had all the ideas but everything fell short.  The changes in the characters were relatively subtle yet it changed my opinion of them drastically.  Halfway through this book, I almost stopped caring for Gale.  Katniss became weak and whiny.  I think the author might be shooting for vulnerability but I wasn’t getting that in this book.  All the other characters faded – or disappeared all together – during the second half.

And I thought the writing was pretty bad.  Not Twilight bad though, just… uninspired.  It didn’t flow well although it was consistent in Katniss’ flat tone.  Clearly, emotions and feelings are not the author’s strongest suit.  It is readable but not that engaging.  Out of the three books, Catching Fire had the best writing and construction while The Hunger Games had the best characters.  Mockingjay had none of that going on for it.

One thing I liked, however, was the way the romance aspect was treated.  I’m a sucker for angst and mix that with the right amount of romance then you’ll get plus points from me.

Overall, it is disappointing.  Personally, it was frustrating.  Just when I thought I finally found a YA series that I can get behind, the last book has everything I dislike about the genre: bad writing, whiny characters, and a half-assed epilogue.  I guess I’ll just stick with the movie.

Rating: 2/5.

Recommendation: If you liked Catching Fire, don’t get your hopes up for this one.  But it’s the last book in a trilogy so it’s rather pointless to skip it if you are a fan of the series.  If you’re just buying off the hype, you can hold off reading this after you’re finished with the second book.  You’re not missing anything.

Get your copy here.