“Broken” isn’t the right word to describe my wee fangirl alarm, were it a concrete thing. With the overwhelming flurry of alerts it receives in a short span of time, I think the best term would be “obliterated.” I couldn’t care less, though. And neither could Neil Gaiman—I think he’s even bent on melting every Gaimaniac into pools of excited mess, what with the amount of  literary news-bombs he’s launching lately.

A few weeks after announcing his new Sandman prequel mini-series in 2013, we heard that he’s also writing new books—one for adult (The Ocean at the End of the Lane), one for “really little kids” (Chu’s Day), and one for all ages (Fortunately, The Milk). Chu’s Day sounds a tad too cute; I heard it’s a picture book about a baby panda that keeps on sneezing. Perhaps I’ll buy it for my grand-aunt. It’s never too early to introduce tots to good Brit authors! 😉

Check out what I saw on  Gaiman’s  Tumblr after some days of blog-hopping abstinence:

Smoke and Mirrors 1

Smoke and Mirrors 2

These are Dave McKean’s illustrations for the forthcoming Subterranean Press limited edition of Smoke & Mirrors, one of Gaiman’s earliest anthologies that I got engrossed with. The fact that there are going to be drawings for each freaking story is enough to make me shudder with sheer thrill. I need to have this! I’d love to see what McKean’s take would be on Troll Bridge, Murder Mysteries and Snow, Glass, and Apples.

What can I say? My Gaimaniac Disorder just went up another serious stage. I’m incurable and happy about it. 🙂

Stories. I miss the feeling of being a young mother of the words of my own worlds. I miss the cry of a newborn plot in my head, an infant of fiction that I will cradle in my heart until it’s strong enough to stand on its own. I miss deciding if I will see this literary as a boy or a girl—if the story will be masculine or feminine—but thinking that it doesn’t matter at all that much in the end.

I miss crafting characters that I will give this baby, not as dolls or marionettes but as people that she would grow up with. I miss grooming her with twists and turns, with conflicts within conflicts, and with climaxes and denouements. I miss seeing her grow up into a full story. I miss seeing her bloom.

I miss all the nights I used to spend weaving “clothes” for her—the right adjectives, the clever repartees, the right mixture of glam and grit that would make her more human. I miss all the days where I had little inner battles, whether I should braid her hair with ribbons of happy-ever-after’s or just let her tresses fall to her shoulders, open-ended.

And I miss that proud moment when I know she’s ready to be seen by the world, to be read.

I just…miss her.

Bookwormism Update!

Posted: August 2, 2012 in book recs, book-related

It seems like my one-book-a-week plan is now inching into the “Goals that are No More” area of my mind, because new things that require my full attention keep on popping under my nose. But I won’t neglect my to-read babies, of course! I’d still find time to get through them. Stay tuned for my upcoming review for Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood!
Parfum

In other news, Patrick Suskind’s the latest to join my Barrow Jane family! I wandered a bit in the bookstore after work, and I went home with an English copy of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. I’ll have to postpone reading The Maze Runner for a while (it’s a bad idea to read four straight dystopian YA books in a row, I tell you) and skip to either this one or the other anthology that’s been in my oldest stack for ages.

Happy reading! Cheers and ciao,

Airiz

Outbreak Manila II: Teaser

Posted: July 31, 2012 in memories, rl

We came. We ran. We survived…well, barely. After Outbreak Manila II (also known as Outbreak BGC), more than half the GALA team was unable to go to work due to a variety of health-related reasons, mostly cold and sore throat. We had fun, though, and I guess that’s what’s important.

July 28 was a night full of remarkable moments—sprinting away with grotesquely made-up zombies, the adrenaline-rich laughter and teases shared between runners, the half-meant “friendship over” remarks whenever someone gets left behind, and the happy hopping and walking under the rain. It’s memorable in so many levels!

Outbreak BGCZombie Food! (Photo by Ate Fish)

I experienced an excruciating migraine hours after I snuggled into bed that night. It was the worst, I tell you! And since the headache was sort of connected to zombies, I postponed reading Mira Grant’s Feed for a while and skipped to James Dashner’s The Maze Runner instead. I didn’t even join Papa’s The Walking Dead marathon. Yeah, it was that bad.

Stay tuned for more details! And do  watch out for Gala magazine’s September issue, I’m going to write a more detailed (and polished, haha) post-coverage Outbreak Manila article there. 🙂

Cheers and Ciao!

Airiz

Fear

The Name of the Star (Maureen Johnson)

Review: Cinder

Posted: July 30, 2012 in book recs, book reviews

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopia, Romance
My Rating: ★★★★

Cinder

It’s just one of those cookie-cutter Cinderella stories hitting the bookshelves lately…if you established the whole story in a setting reminiscent of Star Wars. Instead of a fairy godmother, the protagonist has her robotic brain interface to protect her from strange magic or simple lies. Instead of a pumpkin carriage, she has an ancient gasoline car she recovered from a junkyard. Instead of mice and bird friends, she has a talkative android rolling around with her whenever she does errands for her stepmother. And instead of a pretty glass slipper, she has her old, rust-caked metal foot falling off  from her growing sixteen-year-old body.

This is the story of Cinder: a snarky cyborg mechanic, 36.38% not human, and considered as a technological mistake by many.

Marissa Meyer’s Cinder—the first book in the Lunar Chronicles—combine two of the most popular themes that continuously top the bestseller’s list and bedside tables nowadays: re-imagined fairytales and post-apocalyptic worlds centering on young adults. In the futuristic setting of Cinder, cyborgs are former victims of mutilating accidents who are given second chance at life by having their destroyed human parts substituted by computer-operated nervous systems and limbs. However, despite the advanced technology, earthlings are still not immune to a deadly virus—one which Cinder is strangely immune to. Unbeknown to her, there’s a secret in her blood that may save not only the Emperor or New Beijing but also the whole world.

The premise is an instant attention-grabber, and once you plunge in, you wouldn’t stop until you get to the last page. I love how Cinder is a sarcastic butt-kicking girl that is light years away from the damsel-in-distress she is loosely based on. Her internal struggle about being a cyborg—particularly the bits about her “metallic monstrosities”—is profound, although it is never really revealed to the readers if her emotions are programmed or not. Her dichotomic nature removed  some of her human stimuli like blushing and crying, but the author managed to maker her not come off as robotic. As a character, I think she’s 100 %, multi-dimensionally human.

The pacing is good; pages containing action scenes pack a wallop, and the arcs where the author is sprinkling romantic hints burst like cherry blossoms amongst the cold metallic world where Cinder walks on. Prince Kai is also interesting, representing the epitome of energetic youth that has to be prematurely shed, skipping straight into the chaotic adulthood of a royal politics. He is not just the flat Prince Charming character that happy-ever-after stories supplied to the pop culture.

Meyer handled the budding romance very well, too. It is not too saccharine nor is it too trying-hard; it is just there, embedded as a subplot, left to bloom on its own and treated as a secondary concern even by Cinder herself. “Love conquers all” is the clichéd adage we encounter in almost all love stories, but not here in this book. When Cinder finally uses it as one of her desperate “weapons” near the end, it backfires so bad that even the Prince felt betrayed by her.

There is one thing that prevented me from giving this novel five stars, though: it’s predictable, and that’s not even counting the fact that it has a classic fairytale framework. I’m not sure if the author dropped too many hints or if she gave them away too early, but about fifty pages in there’s a good chance you’ll know the most important bit that will be officially revealed 300 pages later. It’s still an entertaining ride, though, and I’m eagerly waiting for the next installment.

(PS: The Lunar Chronicles book #2 is Scarlet, this time featuring Little Red Riding Hood. I wish Meyer will not shift the spotlight from Cinder to LRRH. Some of the synopses are worrying me!)

(PSPS: I almost forgot—Rapunzel has a cameo in Cinder! She’s a computer programmer trapped by one of the Lunars or the moon people. I’m having a people that she’ll have her own book, too).

AC 195 Addiction

Posted: July 23, 2012 in anime, fandom:gundam wing

While I do believe that cross-posting is almost equivalent to spreading the love in the blogosphere, I know better than to litter everyone’s dashboard with raves, rants, ramblings, and randomness about a  17-year-old -sci-fi mecha show. You can check out my GW tag, but here’s a convenient list of what I’ve been doing on my other Tumblr—at least for this fandom:

OTP: You are Kinder than Me. Basically a bunch of graphics I created for my favorite ship in GW, Quatre Winner and Dorothy Catalonia. I just love them, okay? And as they say—naysayers gonna naysay. Haha! There’s just three at the moment, but they’ll pile up soon, especially that I’m encountering lots of books with quotes that I could integrate with pictures of these two. The last one I got from Holly Black’s Black Heart. I can’t help it. Lila Zacharov is so Dorothy sometimes.

My AC195 Metas. Self-explanatory, with an accompanying poor excuse for graphics. I’ve written two mini-essays, one where I did a comparative review of sorts about Dorothy Catalonia (I just can’t get enough of her) and Catherine Bloom, and one where I talk about how awesome the fact that there’s no cookie-cutter hero or villain in the series is. More soon, I hope. 🙂

Little GW Things. Just as the title says, it’s all things GW—trivia, favorite “insignificant” scenes, badass dialogues, running gags—basically a mishmash of fun stuff about this show. Aside the one about The Wizard of Oz, I particularly love the trivia about the Maguanac…but that’s of course only because I’m a Filipino. Haha. :p

My GIFS. I’m nowhere near the regular MA student when it comes to Photoshop, I admit, but at least I can gif. As evidenced by a moving picture of Alex Turner singing and a few stray Game of Thrones gif-set you see when you click the link, I haven’t organized all my gifs there (and I’m quite sure I didn’t tag them all). I’ll organize them over the weekend.

Pilot Photoset. I need to work on a Wufei one.

Title: The Name of the Star
Author: Maureen Johnson
Genre: Thriller, Crime, Mystery, Young Adult
My Rating: ★★★★

The Name of the Star

Jack the Ripper is back.

At least that’s according to the news filling the London air waves when Aurora “Rory” Deveaux arrives in Wexford, her new boarding school. A series of harrowing crimes mimicking the Whitechapel Murders in 1888 envelops the city in Rippermania, and smack in the middle of it all, Rory finds herself as the only witness. She has spotted a suspicious man the police consider as the prime suspect. When people who should have also seen the man claim to have not, she realizes something is awfully wrong…especially when she becomes the Ripper copycat’s next target.

Not counting the short story “The Children of the Revolution” from the geektastic anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns, The Name of the Star is Maureen Johnson’s first work that I’ve ever read, and its impressive mash-up of young adult humor and thrilling murder mystery  easily convinced me to pick up her other works.

I see how the slow pacing (and all the things that bordered on cliché) in the first part of the novel was necessary for Johnson to craft the cast of characters and portray the new environment from the eyes of the snarky, smart heroine. It was mostly focused on the development of Rory, since the characters introduced early in the story were not as important as the ones that popped in the middle. However, while they can easily be dismissed as just part of the “background,” they are still part of Rory’s growth as she adjusts to what will be her second home.

I liked how the characters are carefully inflated one at a time, ending up fully blown with three-dimensional concreteness after mini anecdotes about them are exposed to the readers. It was obviously one of the easiest ways to give weight to a shell-hollow character, but I admit that it was rather impressive in the hands of Johnson. She made it seem…more realistic, with the drastic changes in Rory’s initial judgments of other people upon her discovery of their little histories that made them the way they are in the present. Rory eased into my favorite spot, and my unconventional second-rank favorite was the minor character Alistair (Thank God he wasn’t terminus-ed at the end! I’d love to see more of him in the next books!). I still need to warm up to the ghost-busting squad, though; with a little more push, I think I’d actually like Stephen.

The transition from the normal contemporary school life in the beginning into the darker life of being involved with the Shades was not precisely flawless, but it stayed faithful to Rory’s voice. Her life has changed when she gains her sight, and the story’s tone is not exempted from the transformations.

The plot was enjoyable and not hard to follow, and I kept on turning pages as more questions starved me for the next scenes. The happenings near the end packed a punch, and I simultaneously loved and hated the ending…for making me salivate for more! Cliffhangers should always be like this. I can’t wait for the next book to be released!

___

Photo by: m a r i e ★

Riding Hood

“There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficulty to recognize for what they are. And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep overlapping and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there in no telling where any of them may lead. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey.”

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)

Friday the 13th wasn’t so much of a big deal to me, but this day was extremely remarkable—not because a truckload of bad luck was dumped on me, but because I just received one of the best news the literary world could ever announce this month…or year, even.

I was at the office for another ordinary working day when a friend linked a video of this announcement on my Facebook wall. Neil Gaiman, my favorite writer,  will be writing more Sandman, and it will be released next year!

Morpheus-Pusheen (even Pusheen is excited about this!)

I practically went OMG all over the place. In celebration of the graphic novel series’ 25th anniversary, Gaiman would be writing the prequel to his 10-volume opus that ended years ago, telling the story of the broody Morpheus before he was imprisoned in the beginning of the original Sandman series.

I just can’t thank God enough! I know this may sound, say, exaggerated to some people who may be reading this, but Gaiman’s works mean so much to me. Nobody knows how much, really. I won’t go cheeseballs here and enumerate why Gaiman is my primary inspiration, but I’m just…extremely excited.

Apocalypse can wait until after 2013, and what I just said above is the number one reason.