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AllBooks

Page history last edited by abernaith 16 years, 3 months ago

BIBLIOTHECA PEREGRINE

 

A : B : C : D : E : F : G : H : I : J : K : L : M : M : O

P : Q : R : S : T : U : V : W : X : Y : Z


Book titles here link directly to

 

 

 

 

A

 

Adams, Douglas

 

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

 

The breadth and depth of Mr. Adam's psyche (or perhaps I should say "psychosis"?) has turned my philosophical world into a topsy-turvy frenzy. The whole series, composed of 5 fantastic books (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe, and Everything; So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish; and culminating in Mostly Harmless), have been wrapped up like a present, shaken like a box of fragile crystal, stomped on, thrown in the recycle bin, salvaged the next day amidst mildew and rot, and then sorted out so smoothly and roundly just like a fresh, shiny watermelon, only to crack open under the heavy Hammer of Reality. And, surprisingly, it All. Makes. Sense.

 

In this series:

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

2. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

3. Life, the Universe, and Everything

4. So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

5. Mostly Harmless

 

Rating:

 

 

Allende, Isabel

 

The House of Spirits

 

 

Anderson, Poul

 

The High Crusade

 

I've never read any historical fiction set during the Crusades before this, though "The High Crusade" is something of a wild tangent to the real deal. It's sort of a "what-if" scenario, that goes: "What if an alien ship landed on a fiefdom where 10,000 soldiers are about to embark on their own campaign for the Crusades?"

 

Well, for the record, Poul Anderson did pull off on the story. It was, surprisingly, quite believable, once you get used to it. He chose to narrate it through a third person however, who is not even the main protagonist but a sort of side-kick friar, which unfortunately has the side-effect of making the narration feel slightly detached from the book. It's just like when someone holds a snake for the first time, and though it's been a while since the first contact, his mind is still in suspended disbelief and goes "I can't believe I'm holding a snake," over and over again.

 

Besides, the friar was rather dull. His voice was always awfully serious and/or somber. Also, the space campaigns were all stiff, documentary-like. Sure, there was lots of action, and maybe if you're eccentric enough (like me) you could still get a kick c/o good ole 3D panorama imagination, but nonetheless all the battles were very much of the realistically practical encounters rather than, say, Staw Wars or Star Trek (more so on the latter). I'd actually hazard saying that a Data-like character would've made this into a bonafide space adventure, instead of just fencing rather uncomfortably between historical fiction and sci-fi.

 

Rating:

 

 

Armistead, Maupin

 

Tales of the City

 

 

Top


 

B

 

Baldwin, James

 

Giovanni's Room

 

It's bitter and jaded and makes you feel a right awful for the characters. If you ask me to describe it in one word, it would have to be "Jaded", (emphasis on the capital "J"). There's no other work I know of that deserves it better.

 

Just, if you can imagine, a world that is both stark and straight, at the same time being distorted and faded and full of greys. It's like Baldwin captured that singular moment between the anxiety and desperation, that hard, sharp grain that is just about to drop into the pit of your stomach, making all your hopes turn to ashes and the world around you melt into an acidic puddle that you desperately, depressingly, try to push away.

 

Imagine that grain, that one almost non-moment, that passes in time in the spare fraction of a fraction of a second...imagine it in Baldwin's hands, and see him stretch it out, so exquisite and fine as onion paper, and place it delicately into his story, like the oily sheen of sweat of the knowing damned.

 

This book is beyond burnt bridges and broken hearts. It takes the confused state of human relationships and magnifies it to excruciating heights. It's a revelation on the hardness of human hearts, and how much of the dark and the cold we can bear, despite all the things we say about being "social creatures". This is about the destruction of the human spirit at its finest, right down to the seemingly incongruous core of our natures, which is supposedly love, but which can easily turn as blackest hate all the same.

 

Rating:

 

 

Barry, Max

 

Jennifer Government

 

 

Batacan, F.H.

 

Smaller and Smaller Circles

 

 

Berendt, John

 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

 

 

Berg, Carol

 

In this series:

1. Transformation

2. Revelation

3. Restoration

 

 

Blume, Judy

 

Summer Sisters

 

 

Brown, Dan

 

Angels and Demons

 

The Da Vinci Code

 

 

Buchan, John

 

Thirty-nine Steps

 

 

Burgess, Anthony

 

The Enderby Quartet

 

In this series:

1. Inside Mr Enderby

2. Enderby Outside

3. Clockwork Testament

4. Enderby's Dark Lady

 

 

Top


 

C

 

Card, Orson Scott

 

The Ender Saga

 

In this series:

1. Ender's Game

2. Speaker of the Dead

3. Xenocide

4. Children of the Mind

5. Ender's Shadow

6. Shadow of the Hegemon

7. Shadow Puppets

8. Shadow of the Giant

 

 

Chevalier, Tracy

 

Girl With A Pearl Earring

 

 

Clark, Susanna

 

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

 

 

Coelho, Paulo

 

The Alchemist

 

By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept

 

The Zahir

 

 

Colfer, Eoin

 

Artemis Fowl Series

 

In this series:

1. Artemis Fowl

2. The Arctic Incident

3. The Eternity Code

4. The Opal Deception

 

 

The Supernaturalist

 

 

Constantine, Storm

 

Wreaththu Trilogy

 

In this series:

1. Enchantments of the Flesh and Spirit

2. The Bewitchments of Love and Hate

3. The Fulfillment of Fate and Desire

 

Top


 

D

 

Dumas, Alexandre

 

The Count of Monte Cristo

 

I love Dumas. I love Dumas so much. So why am I not reading more of him? I should, I think. I will, hopefully very very soon.

 

Top


 

E

 

Top


 

F

 

Flewelling, Lynn

 

The Nightrunners Series

 

In this series:

1. Luck in the Shadows

2. Stalking Darkness

3. Traitor's Moon

 

Traitor's Moon, in my opinion, surpasses the quality of the previous installments in the series combined. It sports a very colorful plot, ripe with intrigue and whodunnit theories, where the characters Ms. Flewelling had patiently nurtured in her previous books successfully thrive. The whole book is filled with side plots and characters blossoming left and right without detracting from the main plot, and I'd say that this is a mark of a master juggler of a fantasy writer.

 

The final installment offers a very interesting setting; Seregil's homeland, Aurenen, where his own long-lived people, the Aurenfaie, live in a pace that the usual Tirfaie (with an average human lifespan), would find excruciatingly slow. The re-introduction of Seregil, who brings with him a delegation of Skalan Tirfaie, stirs the calm oceans of Aurenfaie life into a veritable summer storm. The adrenaline-charged plot that was imposed upon the serenity of Aurenen makes for a beautiful contrast, especially because Ms. Flewelling has skillfully managed to retain a steady upbeat rhythm for her story inspite of the rigours of the setting.

 

You can't not love her two leading men, Seregil and Alec, after reading this book. In past installments, they were the crime capers in a world of cloak-and-dagger mysteries and sword-and-sorcery adventures. I must admit that with the previous books, I thought Ms. Flewelling too intently focused on preoccupying her characters, building them up to earn their 'traits'. But with "Traitor's Moon", Ms. Flewelling has finally acknowledged that Seregil and Alec (at the least) have got the full arsenal, and are thus ready to fend for themselves in a more mature, more complicated plot of her weaving. All the better for the serious fantasy reader, in my opinion.

 

Rating:

 

 

Top


 

G

 

Gaiman, Neil

 

American Gods

 

Anansi Boys

 

Neverwhere

 

Stardust

 

Children's Books:

 

1. Coraline

2. The Wolves in the Walls Illustrated by Dave McKean

3. The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish Illustrated by Dave McKean

 

Good Omens (see also: Pratchett, P.)

 

How can you not love this book? I mean, seriously, how can you not love this book???

 

It seems to me that Good Omens has only a humble following, but they're all dedicated to the core, and I'm proud to be one of them. If you go to Amazon.com, you'll find a lot of lukewarm reviews. People tend to hit on the Britishisms first thing--claiming that the jokes are too British, the characters are too British, the whole setting is too British. Oh well. Hard luck to those folks, 's what I say.

 

Good Omens is not about "Apocalypse, The". Rather, it's a pun about "Apocalypse, The Several". Since the dawn of time, people have been throwing around theories of how the world were to end, ranging from Prophetic, to Foreboding, to Just Plain Weird. So it's just a matter for two certain writers, by the monickers Gneil and Pterry, to throw in as many crazy predictions as they can into a big cauldron to make a suitably strange brew of a plot. Obviously, it turned out as a fine soup to me. The characters are all quacky, really quacky, but my most favourite pair would have to be two certain supernatural agents, who work for Heaven and Hell respectively, and who happen to have a peculiar accord, which started a long, long, long time ago in the Garden of Eden, to evolve, oddly, as a duck-feeding ritual in St. James Park.

 

Real fun. Totally. Who else but Mssrs. Gaiman and Pratchett could come up with a book called "The Nice and Accurate Predictions of Agnes Nutter", an "An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards", and my most favourite haiku in all the world:

 

Late frost burns the bloom

Would a fool not let the belt

Restrain the body?

 

Rating:

 

 

Golden, Arthur

 

Memoirs of a Geisha

 

 

Goldman, William

 

Maverick (Screenplay)

 

The Princess Bride

 

 

Top


 

H

 

Heinlein, Robert

 

Citizen of the Galaxy

 

The Door Into Summer

 

Have Spacesuit - Will Travel

 

The Red Planet

 

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

 

 

Hobb, Robin

 

The Farseer Trilogy

 

In this series:

1.Assassin's Apprentice

2.Royal Assassin

3.Assassin's Quest

 

Still nothing compared to George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" Saga, but good enough to read over a short period of Having-Nothing-To-Do-Time, enough to keep the flicker of interest burning. The life of FitzChivalry Farseer has more of a from-boyhood-to-manhood transformation that is more interesting to follow than the plot.

 

The books are very much concentrated on FitzChivalry's life, taking on a surprisingly comfortable first-person view. It was a bit of a job at first, to get into the groove, but by the third installment, I guess I just kind of realized that the character has grown on me, somewhat. I don't profess that I like FitzChivalry Farseer, and honestly I don't much sympathize in his plight. But it's easy to see how much Robin Hobb loves him to make him grow and mature and truly flesh out.

 

Rating:

 

 

Hooker, Richard

M*A*S*H

 

This was just a barrel full of laughs. M*A*S*H has the kind of weird stories you just never get tired of hearing. The characters are so smart they're clinically insane, and the pranks they pull off are the type of crazy legends that people shake their heads over and slap their knees at in fond remembrance. (I mean, what other unbelievable racket on Earth could ever beat the photos of Trapper John "Jesus Christ" McIntyre??

 

Reactions to reading vary wildly, from: "What the HELL are they thinking!?" to "For crying out loud, are these guys FOR REAL???" Minor health warning for possible jaw displacement.

 

Rating:

 

M*A*S*H Goes to Maine

 

 

Hosseini, Khaled

 

The Kite Runner

 

One of the old proverbs that I was taught in school as a child was, "Never forget your roots." In turning your back to your past, you loose the anchor of your present, and inevitably, you loose sight of the future. In order to move forward, you have to embrace your past, or else you will find yourself trapped in a never-ending circle of what-ifs, regrets, and self-contempt and misery. As a child I had nodded in my infinite child wisdom, and accepted it as absolute truth. How I long to go back to that time, and shake the hand of that child who had nodded in her simplicity! Now, much older than that simple child, I could only stare this plain and absolute truth in the face, and exclaim, "How hard and painful it is, to sever my ties to the past! Yet, how hard and painful it is, as well, to hold on!" It seems to me, as we grow older, avoiding the trap waiting between the soft lie and the hard truth is becoming more and more difficult.

 

I find that Amir, the story's main protagonist, and I share in this common dilemma. What lies beneath the web of lies is a sharp truth that will one day, inevitably, come at you from behind, and you have to fight it if you want to move on, to live on. This sympathetic link made me reach out for him, and drew me deeper into the book. In the midst of all the foreigness of its atmosphere, in the degree of turmoil and suffering that I am blessed never to experience, this common and universal thread of suffering and misery is something I could hold onto, cling to, in the book. And I followed it to the end, where Amir seems to have found a seed of peace with which to supplant the thick jungle of self-contempt he had nurtured in his heart for decades. I hope, for myself, that I could find that seed of peace myself, and finally clear my heart of its garden of contempt and plant this seed successfully.

 

Rating:

 

 

Hughart, Barry

 

Bridge of Birds

 

Top


 

I

 

 

Ikezawa, Natsuki and Alfred Birnbaum

 

A Burden of Flowers

 

This is the first modern Asian novel I've read, to be honest, and I enjoyed it very much. There is a sense of the quiet and calm that is embedded deep within every turn of phrase, in the speech and mannerism of the characters, in the progression of events such as a reader is led to believe that she knows how the author's mind ticks. I am no expert in any way in Asian lit criticism, but I get the feeling that the inter-culturalism, the rich pluralism of semantics and logic of exposition, is very much, and humbly so, Eastern in all senses. This flavors its appeal, I must admit, but ultimately, it can only add so much to what beauty there already is in the story. And what a great story! I have always been fascinated with transient scapes, of the nomadic heart tied fast to centuries of culture-formation: of the concept of family, filial devotion, love across borders and boundaries, and of death; such burdens no Westerner of the post-nuclear age can understand.

 

 

 

 

Top


 

J

 

Jones, Diana Wynne

 

Howl's Moving Castle

 

Jordan, Robert

 

The Wheel of Time Series

 

Three wishes I want to make to the fan community of WoT:

1. More hot fan art. As in FLAMIN HAWT MEN fan art.

2. More fanfiction. (For those of you who have taken an ill-advised peek into my Fanfiction section, you know just what kind of fanfic I like. And last but not the least...

3. More publicity! Because by no means is the WoT series a weak story. It has weak narrative, but the story itself is fantastic. And the characters are worth your time and effort to love. But without debates and forums and discussion groups and all that jazz, it's just gonna be ignored. Writers nowadays (or at least people like Joss Whedon) listen to their fans and encourage intellectual talks because this is rich fodder to feed the fires of canon. I mean, don't want to help the man--and here I quote from his future desired epitaph--"try to get better at it"? (Nevermind what it actually is, but my guess is as good as any that it's about his writing, particularly in WoT.

 

I'd write a proper review but I am not in a particularly dark mood this lazy golden afternoon, so I'll just direct you to Wikipedia's article on The Wheel of Time to enlighten you further. Plus, there are all these Amazon.com links of WoT for you to explore.

 

 

In this series:

1. The Eye of the World

2. The Great Hunt

3. The Dragon Reborn

4. The Shadow Rising

5. The Fires of Heaven

6. Lord of Chaos

7. A Crown of Swords

8. The Path of Daggers

9. Winter's Heart

10. Crossroads of Twilight

11. Knife of Dreams

 

 

Rating:

 

Top


 

K

 

 

Keyes, Daniel

 

Flowers for Algernon

 

 

Keyes, Gregory

 

The Age of Unreason

1. Newton's Cannon

2. A Calculus of Angels

3. Empire of Unreason

 

 

Kipling, Rudyard

 

KIM

 

 

Knight, E. E.

 

[|The Vampire Earth Series]

 

In this series:

1. [|The Way of the Wolf]

 

I think I may have been expecting too much of "Way of the Wolf". Well, it was alright, and some parts were real good and reminded me of, strangely, Star Wars Episode I. But the story wears its gritty violence like a badge of honor, and I'm not sure I can see past its being a semi-juvenile glorified sci-fi thriller. It's not the kind of story that casts the bad guys in the usual "dark, deadly, romantic" light, and I can dig that, but the main protagonist makes me think of Robin Hobb's FitzChivalry Farseer half the time that I don't see him as a young Anakin Skywalker-wannabe. Seriously, the Force is strong with him and all that shit. Sooner or later, we'll be seeing another Aragorn clone pop out of the woodwork.

 

But for all the crap I've been blathering, I think this still stands a fair chance at getting a solid following. I will even allow that maybe it really doesn't deserve my initial impressions "bashing" here. There is a promise of an interesting, intricate plot in the air, you can almost taste it in the words. Now if only David Valentine (the lead guy), can get out of his David Copperfield persona and get into some sweet leather digs, he may be able to make more of a positive impression on me. E. E. Knight had better shift to higher gears in his next book, "Choice of the Cat", because I can't stand much "boy-to-man transformations" for storylines. For now, (and while I wait and stew for a copy of the next installment to be available through my channels), things remain to be seen.

 

Rating:

 

 

Kundera, Milan

 

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

 

 

Kushner, Ellen

 

Swordspoint

 

George R. R. Martin said it had an "unforgettable opening". Orson Scott Card said that [Kushner]'s going to be "one of the great ones". Two of the greats I respect and admire (and worship, really); it's hard to top their praise. But for those who need more than that, I can vouch for the fact that Swordspoint is really well-written, with a smart plot that is centered on politics (of the 18th century kind), and nobody has qualms about homosexuality--except the nobles, and only on breeding. So, definitely not for the faint of heart 'and' faint of mind. Lots of moral ambiguity here, kiddies, so better have a steel spine if you can't get jiggy with it.

 

On a good day, I can really get jiggy with the savvy politicking. Kushner's Swordspoint never lacks in that. I actally imagine that this book could be turned into a smashing play, and I'd pay big bucks to watch it too. "Amazonker" from Amazon.com pointed out the "gay swordsman" factor, and I think that's one of the things that actually makes this story unique. Although, I have to say that Kushner didn't quite get a handle the character relationships as well as the individuality of each character. Frankly speaking, I feel that the characters, moreso, ironically, the two leading men (Richard St. Vier and Alec) to have a certain "caricaturish" feel. Kushner, I'm afraid, "over-characterizes" them; making them more the ideal instead of the real. It suffices for the plot and how she paces it actually, but I can't see them fitting anywhere else, and that's a real shame. Still, they're really cool, the sort that you'd ogle at in anime, that don't much require complex emotions from you other than the standard fan homage.

 

(Yeah, most definitely. I think I'm half in love with Alec too because he's just the type of guy I like: cool, distant, creamy voice and green slanted eyes and BOOKISH--yep, my type of guy exactly.)

 

Rating:

 

 

Top


 

L

 

Lee, Harper

 

To Kill A Mockingbird

 

 

Lindsay, Jeff

 

DEXTER

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Dearly Devoted Dexter

Dexter in the Dark

 

 

 

 

 

London, Jack

 

Call of the Wild

 

 

Lovecraft, H. P.

 

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kaddath

 

I don't think I ever had the chance to truly appreciate this book. I only read it once, a copy I borrowed from a friend. It was kind of awkward at first too, because Dream-Quest is the kind of story you expect to stumble into from within a musty, old, unnamed tome. I felt that putting it on paperback is a big shame, but then of course, I have to take that back because how else could my kind of poor have bought a copy of it in the first place, eh?

 

I think the most surprising quality of this book is that it sticks in your head, casting a glamour of unfathomable depths to its fantastical worlds that just, for some unknown reason, settles in the back of your subconsciousness and stays there, no matter how hard you pry. If I think hard, I actually believe that I can recall the entire story, even with its miasma of characters and creatures and worlds all with unpronouncable names.

 

Apparently, Mr. Lovecraft's prose is so much more impressionable, when, with the most subtle circumlocutions, it insinuates itself into the unwary mind of a casual reader, who wanders indiffirently into his world, not expecting anything out of the trip.

 

And after writing this review, said casual reader now wonders to herself, "Now how on Earth did I end up praising this book, when I was only supposed to write a half-hearted review about it???" (Haha. Tis only a master of the Art, could work this magic into my head...)

 

Rating:

 

 

Top


 

M

 

 

Maguire, Gregory

 

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

 

 

Marquez, Gabriel Garcia

 

One Hundred Years of Solitude

 

 

Martin, George R. R.

 

A Song of Ice and Fire

 

This is perhaps the single most brilliant fantasy series I hold in highest esteem. Looking back, I didn't expect much out of it when I first read about it in a TIME Magazine article. But I am so glad that they pitched this book, and so very glad that I gave them my time and effort, none of which was wasted, because that was how I found out how a master fantasy writer wins the game. I've always dreamt of writing my own fantasy fiction novel, and with George R. R. Martin's work, I believe I got a glimpse into what it really takes to break new ground and raise the standards of the work to the highest quality possible.

 

Rating:

 

In this series:

 

1.A Game of Thrones

2.A Clash of Kings

3.A Storm of Swords

4.A Feast for Crows

 

 

McKiernan, Dennis

 

The Eye of the Hunter

 

This will always have a special place in my heart. My first true forage into the realm of fantasy fiction; lent to me by a visiting cousin when I was ten. It took me about a week to read the 600-page doorstopper crammed with tiny, tiny text--what a monolith! And I had considered it a marked achievement in my reading prowess. Though it wouldn't amount to natch in my current standards, I consider it as valuable as, say Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, because otherwise I'd never have had developed a taste for the hardcore fantasy realm as early as I did. And I would probably have shirked thick hardbounds and other massive books, hadn't I encountered this book, which ultimately opened my eyes to the potential of paperbacks with more than 500 pages.

 

Rating:

 

 

Michener, James

 

Mexico

 

 

Morrow, James

 

Towing Jehovah

 

Top


 

N

 

Niffenegger, Audrey

 

The Time Traveler's Wife

 

The Time Traveler's Wife to me speaks of the artless beauty that is real normal life--something that is most profound in the book for its periodic absence--for the complete inability of the main protagonist, Henry DeTamble, to sustain such a life, hold it in one place, one time; to keep still in time. He is a traveler lost at sea and the Fates are cruel to him, making him go around and around circles that are pointless or painful or both, and seem to be, more often than not, without purpose. But Henry finds a measure of stability in his life, despite his very weird but dangerous problem, in the love of his wife, Clare.

 

I must say, the book is quite a surprise to me. To be honest, I'm not very much into romance stories and so perhaps that accounts for much of the "muddling through" I did (although don't take my opinion to heart, the love story is actually precious and uniquely presented, and some parts made me cry-loathe I am to admit it). But then the philosophy involved, of time travel that is--of being, and dasein, and the role of time in humanity in general, in human nature, in the very essence/core/Being of a human individual, is simply fascinating. Time is Time, a line to forever, a fragile ephemeral thread, moreso than we let ourselves think/wonder/worry, and usually even take for granted. And yet that is all we ever hold, that one single fragile thread, that can snap any moment and throw us back into Chaos, and yet holds, for most of the time, for most of our lives, for ten minutes, ten years, ten millenia. And we just hold on, keep on holding on, because it's our only lifeline, though we never, no one ever, knows what's in the other end.

 

Rating:

 

 

Novik, Naomi

 

Temeraire Series:

 

  1. His Majesty's Dragon
  2. Throne of Jade
  3. Black Powder War

 

View the official website.

 

Top


O

 

Orwell, George

 

1984

 

This is perhaps one of the most influential books I have ever read to date.

 

I was born in a time of relative peace, and am fortunate to have never experienced the deprivations of war. I have not an inkling of what would really happen if another world war were to break out, moreso a world where the bad guys win. George Orwell's world is just that: a 1984 where the whole world is in the grip of three relatively self-sufficient superpowers, who all rule with soul-crushing dictatorships.

 

1984 follows the life of one Winston Smith, who has been having "out of the box" thoughts contrary to what is promoted by Big Brother, the image of a dictator that is supposedly behind all the machinations of Mr. Smith's daily life of communist drudgery.

 

At first, I was drawn to Winston. He was a small but bright spark in a world full of grubbiness and dull, dirty shades of grey. He wasn't by any means a proficient filibuster, but he was getting there, and you could just feel the hope building within him, brick by brittle brick, that life once again is filled with meaning, and that luxuries do exist--to love, to hate, to be free.

 

I suspect that that's when Mr. Orwell's book caught me in its vice-like grip. The feverish promises of hope are addictive, and every little moment of freedom that Winston Smith experiences is like a balm to my soul. It brought out all the masochist in me, to watch as Winston suffered for his 'secret life', for all the struggles and confusions he had to face. It positively shattered my soul to see his spark, once bright and infectious and full of hope, get smudged, inch by painful inch, until at the last all the light has bled out of him and it's as if, as his soul was raped and ravished, mine was violated as well. In the end, when all that is left is the grey facsimile of the man who once wanted to be a rebel, my mind is left in the cold, and it really feels so very hollow.

 

I think that the book's message is very effective, because in the grey and hollow end, you start to think, "Yes. The fight is worth it. I must never give up." After all, it's what, in the end, all that a certain individual named Winston Smith really had--the only kind of freedom that he could ever get his hands on, that he could ever only taste. I believe that this, above all things, is what makes the book truly provocative.

 

Rating:

 

 

Animal Farm

 

Top


 

P

 

Pratchett, Terry

 

Good Omens (see also: Gaiman, N.)

 

How can you not love this book? I mean, seriously, how can you not love this book???

 

It seems to me that Good Omens has only a humble following, but they're all dedicated to the core, and I'm proud to be one of them. If you go to Amazon.com, you'll find a lot of lukewarm reviews. People tend to hit on the Britishisms first thing--claiming that the jokes are too British, the characters are too British, the whole setting is too British. Oh well. Hard luck to those folks, 's what I say.

 

Good Omens is not about "Apocalypse, The". Rather, it's a pun about "Apocalypse, The Several". Since the dawn of time, people have been throwing around theories of how the world were to end, ranging from Prophetic, to Foreboding, to Just Plain Weird. So it's just a matter for two certain writers, by the monickers Gneil and Pterry, to throw in as many crazy predictions as they can into a big cauldron to make a suitably strange brew of a plot. Obviously, it turned out as a fine soup to me. The characters are all quacky, really quacky, but my most favourite pair would have to be two certain supernatural agents, who work for Heaven and Hell respectively, and who happen to have a peculiar accord, which started a long, long, long time ago in the Garden of Eden, to evolve, oddly, as a duck-feeding ritual in St. James Park.

 

Real fun. Totally. Who else but Mssrs. Gaiman and Pratchett could come up with a book called "The Nice and Accurate Predictions of Agnes Nutter", an "An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards", and my most favourite haiku in all the world:

 

Late frost burns the bloom

Would a fool not let the belt

Restrain the body?

 

Rating:

 

 

Discworld

 

In the series:

 

1. The Colour of Magic

2. The Light Fantastic

3. Equal Rites

4. Mort

5. Sourcery

6. Wyrd Sisters

7. Pyramids

8. Guards! Guards!

9. FaustEric

10. Moving Pictures

11. Reaper Man

12. Witches Abroad

13. Small Gods

14. Lords and Ladies

15. Men at Arms

16. Soul Music

17. Interesting Times

18. Maskerade

19. Feet of Clay

20. Hogfather

21. Jingo

22. The Last Continent

23. Carpe Jugulum

24. The Fifth Elephant

25. The Truth

26. Thief of Time

27. The Last Hero

28. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents

29. Night Watch

30. The Wee Free Men

31. Monstrous Regiment

32. A Hat Full of Sky

33. Going Postal

34. Thud!

35. Wintersmith

36. Making Money

37. The Science of Discworld

38. The Science of Discworld II: The Globe

39. The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch

 

 

Proulx, Annie

 

Brokeback Mountain

 

 

Pullman, Philip

 

His Dark Materials Trilogy

 

In this series:

 

1. The Golden Compass

2. The Subtle Knife

3. The Amber Spyglass

 

 

Top


 

Q

 

Top


 

R

 

Renault, Mary

 

The Charioteer

 

The Persian Boy

 

Who wouldn't love Bagoas? Especially after reading this. You get hooked into his life from the very first page, and the subtle intricacies of his world, seen from the eyes of a timid boy turned into a refined and cultured citizen during Alexander the Great's reign. Too bad he was a eunuch, you say, shaking your head. But, taking a closer look, you realize that the character Mary Renault has created, plucked from the bottomless pit of history's footnote caricatures, has blossomed beautifully, heart and soul. And it's hard not to see what he sees in Alexander--his quiet reflections and gentle confessions, through tender loving eyes.

 

I'm not into sordid drama types. I like Sidney Sheldon's work, but I don't think it's anything special. But, put in the words Historical Fiction, and I'd gobble it up even if it were the sappiest romance story on Earth. That's what I like about this book. Mary Renault made Alexander the Great my hero, and her Bagoas was the perfect excuse for my conversion.

 

Rating:

 

 

Rice, Anne

 

The Vampire Chronicles

 

In this series:

 

1. Interview with a Vampire

2. The Vampire Lestat

3. The Queen of the Damned

4. Tale of the Body Thief

5. Memnoch the Devil

6. [|Armand]

7. [|Merrick]

8. [|Blood and Gold]

9. [|Vittorio the Vampire]

10. [|Pandora]

11. [|Blackwood Farm]

12. [|Blood Canticle]

 

 

Rice, Christopher

 

Density of Souls

 

 

Rimbaud, Arthur

 

A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat

 

 

Rizal, Jose P.

 

Noli Me Tangere

 

El Filibusterismo

 

 

Rothfuss, Patrick

 

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller 01)

 

 

Rowling, J. K.

 

Harry Potter Series

 

In this series:

 

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

 

 

Rushdie, Salman

 

Fury

 

Most of the professional reviews I've read claim that this isn't Rushdie's best work. I wouldn't know. This is the first book of his I've read, and perhaps in a long time to come, it shall remain the only book of his I will have read. It's not out of disinterest that I'm avoiding him, nor do I detest his writings or just plain hate his writer's guts. No, I'm just, well, abstaining.

 

Fury, to me, was all about power. That, and a WHOLE LOT OF PENT-UP RAGE. You could feel it in ever line of text, in every printed letter, in every breath you take before you subvocalize the words--the Power of The Written Word. Yeah, yeah...it sounds cheesy, but it's there. Maybe lots of his fans don't feel it much, don't really see it here, because they've seen it before; in his critically-acclaimed and much more popular "Satanic Verses", and even in his earlier "hits", like "Midnight's Children". (And perhaps that's why they feel differently about this book, hearing only echoes of past glories--well, my theory anyway.) But then, this is my first taste of Salman Rushdie, and his juices flow fresh here, and apparently, its nectar is so sweet it's bitter, and I haven't fully recovered from the effect just yet. That is why I'm abstaining.

 

Fury is a mix of emotions: confusion, bafflement, anger, frustration, craziness, desperation, anxiety, hope, love...well, all of that and more, all directed to one thing: the United States of America. Nope, this isn't a very pro-American novel. It doesn't really go direct on its "subversive talk", but it does spread out a lot of tension and anxiety all around. They may as well be seeds of dissent to me, though, as I've never looked favourably upon Capitalism. (Haha, as if I have the right to "look favourably" upon anything. I'm just a poor simple soul, that's right.) After the first chapter (which to me was really tedious to get through), you'll find that you're either hating it or liking it, and if the latter's the case, reading speed will pick up 'most favourably'. The delivery of the story is fragmented, almost irrational, and if you can see past the thick haze of rage overlaying everything like a thick but crystal-clear bed of ice, you'll find that the threads of the plot are beautifully raw, but purposefully broken. Maybe you'll be thinking, "So what in hell's the point of trying to break the ice? Why should I read on?" Well, I can't answer that for you. For me, it was because, in a personal way, I found a strand of 'sense' in the book, and this I followed to the end.

 

I quite enjoyed reading it, but mind, it's really not for the faint of mind, or moral constitution, for that matter.

 

Rating:

 

 

Russell, Mary Doria

 

The Sparrow

 

Children of God

 

Jesuits in space: Constantly pushing the limits of a man's faith and the ability to accept the fact that God's ways are not our ways. In hindsight, I think the most valuable lesson in these books is that man will never be rid of the temptation of hubris.

 

These are by far two of the most intellectually and spiritually challenging books I've encountered. The prose is powerful and compelling, so much so that the books themselves serve as metaphors of man's search for God and modalities for the reader's personal search for true faith.

 

I might be doubly biased since I am privileged to have and genuinely appreciate a Jesuit education and then I am also a bit of a sci-fi fan, but that doesn't stop me from giving these books two thumbs up.

 

Rating:

 

Top


 

S

 

Sedaris, David

 

Me Talk Pretty One Day

 

 

Seward, Jack

 

The Japanese

 

I feel that though the cultural information is technically outdated, its treasure trove of humorous insights will never go obsolete. The way he writes his jokes are funny, not because they are meant to be, but because he writes his observations seriously. You could almost see the author's poker face, with not a single crack in his voice, narrating these eccentric tales from the Land of the Rising Sun.

 

Rating:

 

 

Sheldon, Sidney

 

Are You Afraid of the Dark: A Novel

 

Memories of Midnight

 

The Other Side of Midnight

 

Rage of Angels

 

 

Stephenson, Neal

 

In The Beginning...Was The Command Line

 

 

Suskind, Patrick

 

Perfume

 

 

Top


 

T

 

Thompson, Hunter S.

 

The Rum Diary

 

 

Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel

 

The Hobbit

 

The Lord of the Rings

 

In this series:

 

1. The Fellowship of the Ring

2. The Two Towers

3. The Return of the King

 

 

Truss, Lynne

Eats,  Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

 

 

Top


 

U

 

Top


 

V

 

Verne, Jules

 

The Mysterious Island

 

I first read this when I was in 5th grade. I remembered liking it so much, back then. Second time around was when I was maybe 12. I liked it even better then. I've always liked "The Mysterious Island". And though I haven't read anything else by Jules Verne, I think this book is the best of the lot, really. It's not the plot that really shines through here. And I wouldn't expect that of Mr. Verne either. I believe that his goal in writing is for the adventure, the opportunity to bring his ideas (speculations and theories) to life in the medium that is most accessible to his means. And I think he did brilliantly, for the seeds of curiosity stayed with me, and I'd like to think they grew. Perhaps not in the way that Mr. Verne and his likes (Robert Heinlein, for instance, who like Verne was all for promoting scientific careers through their literature), but not in an entirely useless way either. Fantasy is the world that I would like to explore, one day, with my own pen and my own wit and a name worthy to be published. But, for now, I'll content myself with dreams of exploration and discovery, that admirable figures like Captain Harding, fictitious characters though they may be, has taught me to tackle with much patience, diligence and discipline.

 

In the meantime, why not check out my little fanfic tribute to "The Mysterious Island" entitled, "G.E.S.: A Writer's Journal"?

Brief Synopsis: From the pen of Gideon E. Spilett. The early days of the five men (and dog), who became the Colonists of Lincoln Island.

 

Rating:

 

Top


 

W

 

Top


 

X

 

Top


 

Y

 

Top


 

Z

 

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz

 

The Shadow of the Wind

 

I confess to a most juvenile delight in such titles as "The Cemetery of Forgotten Books" and "The Angel of Mist". "The Shadow of the Wind" is full of these intriguing phrases (just look at the title, for instance), and such fanciful charms give this allegorical fiction the extra boost it needs to effectively suspend the reader's disbelief. If I were a young teen, perhaps I would have loved this book even more. But, at this time, I must admit that I am guilty of comparing it to Dumas' work. It's terribly unfair, I know, but I can't help it really, especially since the story so reminds me of Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo". Such a tale of vengeance and convoluted schemes that spans the lives of two generations is something of a common drama nowadays, I suppose, but you'd know the true gems from the way they are told. Dumas' work was chiefly straightforward in manner, but Zafon's "The Shadow of the Wind", in comparison, shapes up with more intricate embellishments and metaphoric filligrees. To put them in a linear analogy, "The Count" would be as straight a line there ever was to Zafon's curvy, curlicued work.

 

But then, Dumas' work is only my personal preference, and even I can tell you that Zafon's work should not have to hide behind the shadow of the classic mystery-romance novels. The book can well stand on its own, and even rise to excellence for being a fine, well-written story. Almost all the characters are fascinating caricatures, gems that glitter or exude a smoky, mysterious beauty, all carrying distinct personalities that simply beg for the reader to love or hate them fiercely. The mystery ensnares you quickly and efficiently with its faces and settings of ethereal beauty, and the twists of the plot are like fine silver tendrils laced into the thick, heavy veil of its drama. (I make it sound as bad as a soap opera, but trust me, it's not all as terrible as that.) The prose is smooth and lyrical, switching flawlessly from the naive, hopeful outlook of the young main protagonist to the shady sinister voices of the past that he inevitably uncovers. And it's story--a love story of the only kind there ever was--is woven expertly into a misty web of history, violence and tragedy. Ultimately, the moral of the story is that love finds its way into all human affairs--established, contrived or still to be conceived. And that, for those who persevere through all hardships caused directly or indirectly by love's meddling ways, there is the promise of a happy ending and, more importantly, of continuity of life for the good guys.

 

Perhaps the only quite obvious flaw of this story, for me, is that towards the end the plot seemed a tad rushed and that the present was not so perfectly merged with the past. For all that the author vigorously explored the life and tragedy of Julian Carax through the main protagonist, Daniel Sempere, it seemed that Daniel's life has been poorly cultivated in comparison. So intent was the story bent on tying Daniel's life to that of Julian and his past that Daniel's own relationships and the people of his present appear as minor circumstances and largely as devices to further encourage the past to emerge.

 

Rating:

 

 

Top

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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slipping away like light through the jalousies...

 

Have a confession? Did you like this site? Or do you hate it, and hate the guts of whoever came up with it?

So. Come and nag to your heart's content. Or, you could drop by my new guestbook c/o the beautiful people of Ur I.T. Mate Group.

People who give feedback are good, conscientious people.

 

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