I’ve been neglecting my Monthly Reads posts! *cue dramatic violin screech*
However, I haven’t been slacking on my reading. (Thank God for small mercies.) To make up for the lack of posts on what I’ve been reading, here’s a quick recap of my July and August 2016 reads!
1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
*scales a cliff*
*jumps off and screams*
THIS BOOK IS THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO ME, EVER. It’s so awesomely written and it’s fucking inclusive as hell. PLUS Leigh Bardugo has actively committed to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement. Dammit I love her! I love this book!
Look for my fangirling here.
2. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
A beautifully written book. Make no mistake though. Despite the novel’s fairly diminutive size, this is not a light read. At first, it seems like a fairly typical novel of a Japanese woman who made a life in a foreign, Western country – in this case, England – and finds herself comparing the vast differences between her two homes. Then, towards the end, the book acquires a suddenly more chilling tone that makes you realize that the narrator is not as innocent as she seems.
3. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith / J.K. Rowling
I’ve read the first Cormoran Strike novel, Cuckoo’s Calling, and immensely liked it, so I got started ASAP on The Silkworm. It was, in my opinion, not as good as Cuckoo’s Calling, but it was still a pretty good read! Revolving around the gruesome murder of a writer who inserted thinly veiled references to people such as his boss, wife, and coworkers in a poison novel (is there such a thing? Is that a term? Idk man), The Silkworm is a great read not just for crime buffs, but aspiring authors as well.
“Writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long friendship and selfless camaraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels.”
4. Room by Emma Donoghue
I wanted to watch the movie, so I thought I should finally get around to reading the book. I really have no words for it other than wow. Deeply moving and highly emotional, this story about a kidnapped mother’s struggle to give her son a normal life despite spending a good six years under the control of their abuser is sure to elicit tears from anyone.
The one thing I really, really, really liked about this book is how Emma Donoghue manages to convey to the reader the mother’s emotions and hardships, despite the book being from the son’s point of view.
Readers should be warned however that the story alludes to a lot of dark matter like rape and abuse. Proceed with caution if that sort of thing makes you uncomfortable or upset.
I would just like to add a note that here in the Philippines, August is also known as the Buwan ng Mga Akdang Pinoy, or the Month of Filipino Written Works. So for August, I made the commitment to read more works written by Filipinos, and it was great! There really is something to be said for reading books written by your #OwnVoices.
(Check out my post on more Filipino authors to read here.)
1. A Bottle of Storm Clouds by Eliza Victoria
An anthology that perfectly mixes the ordinary with the extraordinary, the magical with the mundane. Read my review of it, as well as my list of favorites from this collection, at my blog post here!
2. Project 17 by Eliza Victoria
My second book from Eliza Victoria. Maybe not of the same caliber as the short stories in A Bottle of Storm Clouds, but an overall good book to browse through while waiting for a bus or train, or at the airport (which, incidentally, was where I finished this book).
Lillian is a young college student looking for a babysitting job, but instead of ending up with some kids, she winds up looking after Caleb, who is suffering from schizoaffective disorder and lives with his brother, Paul. At first, it seems like a relatively normal caretaking job. But then, she realizes she can’t find any information about the drugs Caleb has been prescribed. Not to mention, both Caleb and Paul are listed as deceased in the national database.
In my opinion, the story was what we Filipinos call bitin. I can’t really think of an English translation for that word, but basically it means that the story was lacking in depth or length. Project 17 suffers from this lack. It was a great, great story, but at the end of it you’re left going, “That’s it? Where’s the rest of it?”
I felt like it could also use a little more world-building. You know me, I’m a sucker for really good world-building. The snippets of what the Philippines and the rest of the world is like in the Project 17 universe is really fascinating, but Eliza Victoria just fails to expound.
Beyond those two things, however, this book was great, and an excellent addition to the collection of any Filipino author looking to read more #OwnVoices books.
3. Naermyth by Karen Francisco
Ah, man. This book. Boy oh boy was I conflicted by this book.
The plot is great. The world has ended, the Apocalypse has happened, and earth has been taken over by supernatural creatures, here called Naermyth because “never were they myth”. It’s been five years, and the only beacon of hope are the Shepherds, a ragtag armed militia that guides lost humans to mankind’s last outposts. In Manila, the Shepherd Aegis discovers what she thinks is a human named Dorian kept captive by duwende. Little does she know that Dorian holds a secret that could turn the tide of the war and give humans their first fighting chance against the naermyth.
This book really delves into the mythological creatures of the Philippines such as manananggal, aswang, segben, duwenda, sirena, and tikbalang. I’ve always believed that the Philippines had so much to offer the world of supernatural novels, with tons of monsters that are more interesting and unique than your average everyday vampire.
The thing is, the ending was so abrupt and predictable, and not in a good way that left me wanting more. It was more of a, “well, that was a totally crap way to end the story” kind of thing. There were also a ton of grammatical and spelling errors – which I just can’t forgive in any book put out by a publishing company, as opposed to self-publishing or works put online.
Additionally, comparison has been made to the first-person point of view employed by Suzanne Collins. While Katniss from The Hunger Games is punchy and sarcastic, Aegis just comes across as wordy and whiny. She’s one of those female characters who I feel was written strong for the sake of being strong, like the author had a checklist of “what makes a strong female character” and worked from there.
I feel like Karen Francisco needs to work on expanding the characters and making them real, believable, relatable people. Otherwise, her excellent research and world-building will have been wasted.
4. The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
DON’T READ THIS ALONE. JUST DON’T.
Okiku is an onryō, the ghost of a woman murdered violently who walks the earth seeking revenge. In particular, Okiku goes after child-killers, men who murder innocents like she once was. She can never rest, but she’s content with her existence. At least, until she runs into a boy named Tark, whose body contains an evil that surpasses even Okiku’s.
One part The Exorcist, one part The Ring, The Girl from the Well is a creepy read that will keep you up into the night, cowering beneath your covers and breathlessly awaiting the rustle in the night that means you’re not alone.
Check out my June 2016 reads by clicking the link, or check out what I’ve read so far in 2016 here!