14 Books, 14 Movies in 2014

Happy New Year!!!

I know it’s awfully late, but I thought I’d greet you all anyway. I hope the first 12 days of the year have been kind to you all so far.

Now, as you can see from the title of this entry, I plan to read 14 books and watch 14 movies for the year 2014. I always tell myself that I want to read more books and watch more movies every year but I think I barely get to do that. So I thought it’s probably best to make a post with concrete parameters to make it official. I’ll also make an entry for each book or movie that I finish just to keep track. I feel like I should make some kind of graphic for this but. I actually don’t know how to make those, haha.

I thought about officially doing this because I have tons of books that I have lying around that are just waiting to be read and there’s a ton of movies that I want to see or already own so might as well. And well, new ideas, new styles and others.

Let’s do this! ­čśÇ

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Effects of the Media Club

My laptop got infected by a virus, and I was scrambling around trying to look for a way to back up my files because as my luck would have it, even my external hard drive got infected. I considered using Google Drive and I already uploaded some files into it. I finally hit on the idea of burning stuff into DVDs on the way to work earlier today, so I decided that I would be getting blank DVDs on the way home later.

There was a National Bookstore on the way home, so it was easy enough to drop in for a quick shopping trip. I got my blank DVDs, and I also got a blue gel pen because I needed one for work. That was all I needed, but of course, since I was already in the bookstore, I decided to browse around a little. In the end, I left the store with four blank DVDs, a blue gel pen, three comic books and one book.

I suppose it wouldn’t have been anything new for me, coming out of a bookstore with more purchases than I planned to get. What was new, though, was the kind of stuff I bought. I got three different Black Ink comics, namely┬áPepe: the Lost Years of Rizal,┬áThe Reaper┬áand┬áVergil: the Warrior Angel, and a book by Alan Navarra entitled┬áDumot. I got the comics because I got curious about the stories of each comic as they dealt with the supernatural and because each cost a very affordable P69.75. The book was a bit more pricey at P200, but again, I was curious. The blurb at the back was intriguing and the cover had a unique design. And what was “dumot” anyway? As I was standing in line to pay for everything, I knew that at any other time, I would most probably not have bothered with the comics and the book. I was still keeping careful control of my finances and I haven’t been a comic-reading person in a very long time. Admittedly, the price was a factor, but at the same time, I guess I could say that I have become more open to trying things that were different from my usual diversions of choice.

The Media Club has been going on for a while now and I like to think that it has broadened my horizons and made me more curious about what’s out there and open to trying different things. At the same time, with the club involving other people, it’s much easier to share experiences and thoughts which don’t come as easily when you experience something by yourself and just write about it on your blog like I tend to do when I can. Maybe I’ll share some of these discoveries when it’s my turn to bring up something for the club.

Let’s keep it up, guys. I think our Media Club is really doing something good for us. ­čśÇ

Girls, Boys and Suicide

SPOILERS AHEAD!

I downloaded Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher ages ago, but it’s only now that I got around to reading it. It was easy enough to convince me to get it since the reviews on it were pretty favorable and the summary was kind of intriguing. Here is the summary of the book from Amazon.Com:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

I must have zeroed in on the word “suicide” which of course has always been a rather attention-grabbing topic. When you think suicide, you get blood, death and angst and there are times when I am a sucker for such things. Plus, there’s a long suicide note recorded in┬ácassette┬átapes. My curiosity was piqued, so the book was downloaded and I went through it yesterday, finally.

Honestly, I can’t help not really enjoying it. I want to, but it just didn’t seem possible. I really don’t think this is a book you enjoy rather than experience. First reason is the subject matter. A girl narrating 13 reasons why she killed herself in every gritty, painful detail. It’s disturbing and you can just imagine how Clay and his classmates who receive the tapes must feel as they listen to them. It’s almost like a voice from the grave and it’s telling you you’re one of the reasons why she swallowed a handful of pills. I imagine it’s perfectly chilling. The second reason is how the story is presented. I really can’t say that the way the story is written is beautiful. There are hardly any witticisms here, no carefully and lovingly crafted turns of phrase, but what I can tell you about the writing is that it’s very real, very raw. You have here a teenage girl in pain, at the end of her rope and it’s very convincing. It’s not really a fun read when you take all that into consideration. But I think that was the point. You’re not supposed to enjoy this book as you are to experience it and for that I think Jay Asher managed to make a book that does exactly that. Suicide isn’t pretty and the circumstances and method cinched that.

I can appreciate the style and concept of the book as a reader and reviewer but just as a person, the book left quite a bit to be desired. This is probably very insensitive, but at times as I was reading, I wished Hannah would just get over herself and get some help. Actually go up to someone and tell them she’s got problems. Well, she did, but I guess it was too late for her. Clay’s right there before it all felt like it’s not going to get better. They had “a moment”. Why didn’t she tell him right then? Another frustrating theme in this book: missed chances. I know I wasn’t there and I may not really know what I’m talking about (as someone who hasn’t been a teenager in high school for a long time and whose high school experience was quite good), but at times Hannah and the idea of why she did the things she did was really grating and I wanted to yell at the book and stop reading. But I plodded on because maybe the ending would be good.

It wasn’t, not really. For me, it was kind of underwhelming. I get why it ended that way but still. It could have gone another direction to make it feel more satisfying as far as I could tell. I can’t tell you how to end it in a way that would make me feel better about it, but I just thought the ending felt kind of hollow, disappointing. Realistic, sure, but disappointing. I thought this book missed the opportunity to reach its full potential. It’s kind of good, but it could have been better.

But anyway, if after you read the book and you loved it, I suggest you check out the book’s official webpage here. It’s got a couple of cool features, including recordings of Hannah’s tapes which should give you a first-hand experience of what it was like to be in Clay’s shoes, sort of. Can I just say that this site is pretty cool? I love how books are becoming more interactive now and the publishing business is really trying its hardest to catch the attention of very picky and flighty readers.

Over all, I can understand why Thirteen Reasons Why is considered a good book for teenagers or others to read as the subject matter is quite serious and relateable in some ways, but I’m just not that into it as I could be, I guess. Maybe it’s because I had a pretty good high school experience, who knows? But yes, other people will probably appreciate this book more than I did.

Here Comes the Weekend

It feels just like yesterday when I wrote that freakin’ Monday post┬áand now it’s Friday. And I still find that entry quite funny, actually. I think it’s my favorite entry yet since I started with NaBloPoMo. Now it’s Friday and again, I’m grasping for stuff to post. I had it in mind to write my Christmas Wish List, finally, but I think I’ll postpone that for some other time. Maybe this weekend. Maybe.

I wonder what everyone else is doing tonight. Most probably out and about, welcoming the weekend by unwinding in their own favored ways. Some people like to go out with friends and get some drinks. Others retreat to their homes and start the weekend early by picking up the book or movie on their To-Read or To-Watch lists. I guess I’m sort of on the latter group. At least I’m home and I’m also here just chilling out. I’m still trying to decide if I should start reading something or try to catch up with Supernatural.

Sometimes, I like to plan out my weekends. Make a list and everything. I almost always know that I won’t be able to accomplish everything, but I do it anyway. For this weekend, I want to get around to doing the following:

  1. Continue to blog for Me Time
  2. Write something for Takaw Mode
  3. Watch The Avengers movie for the nth time to take notes for Bom’s requested fic
  4. Choose a question for my guest post over at Addie’s blog
  5. Catch up with The Big Bang Theory and Supernatural
  6. Get started on Once Upon A Time
  7. Get blood tests done
  8. Eat more stuff from Manila Adventist Hospital’s vegetarian cafeteria
  9. Get The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
  10. Get started on reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett or Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Here’s to a satisfying and productive weekend!

P.S. Note to self: bring camera everywhere. Pictures help with conceptualizing blog entries! ­čśÇ

We Are Young and In…Vincible

Am I being far too predictable? Maybe! But I really can’t help it that I really enjoyed the movie and I loved rereading the book. Why yes, I have read the book before I have even heard of it being made into a film. Does that make me a hipster?

I really have to say that The Perks of Being a Wallflower has got to be one of those really special stories for me because I read the book twice. I don’t really do that anymore nowadays, but I did for this one. Admittedly, it’s for this Media Club I have with my friends (I actually chose this, both the book and the movie because of REASONS), but I think the other members were also excited for it too.

I watched the movie with my friend Elise and we did it before we read the book. I didn’t really know what to expect because I’ve always thought you shouldn’t go into a movie based on a book expecting it to be as good as the book. It just seems unfair to me, so I went in and watched. And was quite impressed by how well the movie was executed. The atmosphere and design was just appropriate, kind of with an indie-retro feel that for me fit the tone of the story very well. It’s a story based in the 90’s starring high school kids who weren’t like the obnoxious, dreamy kids you usually see in Hollywood movies. It’s not sparkly, even if you have Emma Watson and Logan Lerman right there, fresh from successes of huge, box office blockbusters. It all seemed very raw, real and honest which was just perfect.

The main three of the cast were all wonderful in different ways. I was really excited to see Patrick played onscreen and I was so glad that Ezra Miller did him such great justice. Patrick was supposed to be a free spirit with his own moments of darkness and confusion and I think Ezra Miller was able to give a powerful performance. It was Patrick right there and I wanted him to be my crazy, gay friend all over again. However, I still lament how he’s given such little screen time. I get it, it’s Charlie’s story, but Patrick, dude. Patrick needs to grace us with his individual brand of awesome. I still call Logan Lerman Percy Jackson and I still can’t get over the fact that this was the guy who played D’Artagnan in that horribly awesome steampunk-ish remake of The Three Musketeers, but boy was he amazing as Charlie. I read that he really prepared for the role and I think it showed. As you watch the movie, you can’t help but feel his awkwardness and his anguish as you get deeper and deeper into the story and Charlie went through his downward spiral. I think I’m a fan of his now and I look forward to his next project. Meanwhile, Emma Watson. I’ve seen her grow up as Hermione Granger and I was kind of fearful that we’d see Hermione onscreen instead of Sam. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. I guess it helped that she had short hair and she talked in a charming American accent. Her acting was very subtle. She left the over-the-topness to Ezra and Logan and I think that fit, but then she gets into these emotional scenes and BOOM! Her face. It can be so expressive and it looked so effortless.

Aside from the main cast, you also had other stars like Nina Dobrev, Paul Rudd and Joan Cusack. I don’t particularly know why they cast Nina Dobrev, but I guess she was okay. Maybe it’s just my Vampire Diaries prejudice, but she was really overtaken in this movie though she had some moments. I couldn’t say the same for Paul Rudd and Joan Cusack, though, because seriously, if these two are in a movie, you have to be sure that it’ll be good. And it was.

It was just amazing to see the book come alive before my eyes and to touch me in the deepest pits of my usually apathetic heart. People have probably heard of the “We are infinite.” scene and yes, the movie was able to capture the essence of it very well. I certainly felt that infinite-ness after everything was done.

After finishing with the movie, I soon started re-reading the book. I took the time to actually take notes this time, however, instead of just devouring it in huge chunks whenever I could like the first time I read it. And enhanced by the experience of the movie, the book was quite different the second time around. There was a lot that I missed, things made clearer and it was like I haven’t read the book the first time. Maybe because it’s been a while since my last reading of it.

The first thing I noted was that I think I loved the book from the start because it was very intimate as it was written in a stream of┬áconsciousness, diary kind of style that was very candid yet quirky. It felt to me that Charlie was really being honest about his thoughts and he felt that almost no censure was necessary┬áwhen he wrote to this friend. It’s also a chockful of quotes that just hits you right there, like “Sometimes, people use thought not to participate in life,” “You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand,” “We accept the love we think we deserve,” and of course, “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” You can see how these quotes communicate ideas that a lot of people can relate to. That idea and feeling of passiveness about life in general and how people fall in love are themes that are very heavy in the story and I think a lot of people can relate to no matter how old they are. I’m no teenager but they still resonate with me so that must mean something. The book (and of course also the movie) also brought back things that I want to do again, like making mixed tapes and Secret Santa. My world was certainly different from Charlie, Patrick and Sam’s, but some things were still similar and I liked that a lot. ‘Made me feel all nostalgic.

Reading the book also made me see that a lot of things that weren’t included in the movie, which was kind of sad but then you can’t really fit everything in a movie that’s only an hour and a half long. And of course, there are differences between the movie and the book, too. The movie focused more on Charlie and that was probably the point since he is the wallflower, isn’t he? And it’s his story so it made sense.

I finished reading the book earlier today and I look forward to talking about it more later with my friends when we meet for that Media Club meeting. In the end, I have to say that I have really enjoyed the experience The Perks of Being a Wallflower has brought me. I was touched, also energized in a way and that usually meant that something was good. There’s also nothing quite like taking the time to enjoy something the second and third time around. Maybe in the future, I’ll take another crack at the book and then find something else new. I think I will because I think this is one of the stories that have really left an impact on me between one thing or another. It reminded me of being young and feeling invincible at times even when it felt like nothing was going right and there was so much to fear. I think we should all somehow hold on to that feeling of being, well, infinite even when the world thinks it should throw us curve balls all the time. We need it, especially the older we get and the more complicated problems come our way. Let’s not forget about being young and infinite, because we can be, even if we don’t look it.

This is What Happens When I Encounter Cheap Books and Stuff

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Behold my book sale haul! Admittedly, this haul could have been larger. Thank goodness for some self control and budget constraints! ­čśŤ

So, what’ve we got?

  1. Isabel Allende’s Zorro. I’ve been looking for this book forever probably because I love Antonio Banderas’ Mask of Zorro and I was also a fan of other incarnations of the story in anime and comic forms in the past. Isabel Allende’s also a writer that we were required to read back in high school and getting to read her House of the Spirits was actually one of the more enjoyable reading assignments I ever had to do for school. Put both these things together and I think I’ve got something cool to add to the To-Read List.
  2. Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds (screenplay). I love the film and Michael Fassbender (even before I knew his name!), so of course I couldn’t resist this one, especially given how badass the cover looks.
  3. Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia. Another one that I got because I loved the film version. Plus it was a book about a woman trying out recipes. There’s food involved. How in the world am I supposed to pass this up?
  4. George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.┬á┬áI’m sensing a pattern here. I first got in contact with Pygmalion through the film version of My Fair Lady which is based on this play. I just thought it would be wicked cool to have it in my collection.
  5. Bob Gill’s Logo Mania. This one, meanwhile, is for Elise. It’s this really creatively-made book about how a graphic designer solved some designing problems. I thought Elise would enjoy and appreciate this, so I got it.

Of course, there were some books that didn’t quite make the cut for various reasons. They are the Jennifer’s Body graphic novel (I really wasn’t that into it at the end of the day, though it was probably pretty cool), Nina Garcia’s Black Book of Style (Still a bit pricey at P315. The rest of my books cost half or less than half of that) and Karen Jay Fowler’s The Jane Austen Book Club (Kind of the same reason as with the graphic novel).

And since I was in bookstores and also made my rounds in Japanese P88 stores, of course I got myself new pens, notebooks and other stuff. Because I can.

Pens! Post its! Cute notebooks (though those notebooks aren’t all bought recently)! A portable reading light! This cute protective sleeve thing for my Kindle! I also got more notebooks and a pencil case yesterday but no pictures, because I was lazy. Maybe some other time this week. I was supposed to write this entry about all my stuff here (including how I was in the bookstore and actually squealed over cute post its and tiny sticky tabs) but again, lazy. Anyway, it’s better that you’re spared my weird love for office supplies, haha.

You guys know what to get me for my birthday and Christmas. *hinthint*

Unfinished Books

Seriously, I think I have ADD when it comes to books. I was looking at my Kindle yesterday, because I was preparing for a road trip with the family when I realized that I’ve got a couple of books I have yet to finish reading. That’s another thing with the Kindle. Yes, it makes bringing around books much easier, but then it also makes it more convenient to start with another book while you’re in the middle of reading one. I just get so bored with just reading one book at a time nowadays. I just don’t seem to have the patience anymore to just sit down and focus on one. I don’t know why, but that’s it.

My friend, Elaine, and I have been thinking about starting a book club the other day when of course my focus shifted to books and I suddenly remembered all the books that I have yet to finish reading. So I thought I’d make an organized list to remind myself.

LIST OF BOOKS THAT CRISSY HAS YET TO FINISH

1. George R. R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords

Okay, I admit I have also still yet to finish reading A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, but it’s hard when you’ve already seen the first two seasons of Game of Thrones! I don’t know how people can read and watch alongside each other for this series! I just can’t imagine doing it! So before the third season goes on air next year, I endeavor to somehow finish this book. I have a lot of time. I keep saying that. It’s a curse. I say that and the next thing I know it’s the start of the third season already. ­čśÉ

2. Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Prince

Yeah, Cassandra Clare as in the controversial-Harry-Potter-fanfiction-writer Cassandra Clare. At first I was really hesitant to pick up the first book in the series, Clockwork Angel, but then I was on a steam punk curiosity binge and decided to give it a go. I ended up liking it so I started with the second book. I have yet to go far, though. And the covers are pretty. :3 I wish I could get the real books, but alas.

3. William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair

Why am I reading this? I’m not usually one for classics like this, especially after the special brand of torture that I experienced through having to plod through Sense and Sensibility in college and other such readings in high school. Well, it’s set in 19th Century England, which was an era that I’ve always been interested in. Plus I’ve seen the movie starring Reese Witherspoon so I thought, “Why not read the novel?” It’s… Easier to read than Austen, which is good enough for me. And Becky Sharp is a bitch, but I can’t help but love her. And in relation to this, I also have…

4. Daniel Pool’s What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist–the Facts of Daily Life in 19th Century England

I’m a bit of a history geek (and a Hetalia fan) so I find these kind of books interesting at times. Books like this can be a bit boring, though, so I don’t really try to read everything all at once. But yes, this book is awesome and I’ve learned some pretty cool, but useless things, hahaha.

5. David Cordingly’s Under the Black Flag: the Romance and Reality of Life Among Pirates

Because pirates!!! And it was on sale and the cover is cool! Yes, the last two books aren’t Kindle editions but actual books. And I love them both to bits though I have a hard time reading them in one sitting.

6. Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince

Another actual book that I have yet to finish reading. I saw this in Powerbooks ages ago and I thought I’d get it because I was curious and it was cheap. It was one of those sales, I think, and I bought this along with some Shakespearean plays. My friend Elaine also recommended the book to me before, so I thought I’d get it. It’s been a long time since I’ve started reading to then consequently abandon this book. Due to an interest on the series The Borgias, however, I find myself wanting to read it again. Maybe it’ll be more exciting to read as I picture Francois Arnaud as The Prince aka Cesare Borgia.

7. Christopher Hibbert’s The Borgias

Of course, there’s this. I also have an Alexandre Dumas account on the Borgia family, but I think that’ll be harder to read. I thought I’d give this a try first. I feel like I need to take notes while I read this book, just so many dates and people to remember.

8. Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief

It’s not exactly a happy book, considering that it’s set during World War II in Germany, but I think it deserves the raves and good reviews it received. It’s probably the subject matter that makes it hard for me to read it continuously. It’s not light reading, that’s for sure.

9. Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Because I’m a nut who likes to cross her historical fiction with horror elements like this. I was really excited to see the movie for this, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to. I actually can’t remember if I started reading the book, but I do have it. It’s all just a matter of sitting down and reading through it, though I have a feeling I’ll be reading this for a while yet.

It seems to be book sale season again and while I may have been holding back on buying books recently, who knows what will happen when I’m faced with on-sale books once I step into book stores. I have been eyeing some books in the Filipiniana section recently and those books are hard to find online. Award-winning authors like Nick Joaquin and Ambeth Ocampo and the newbreed authors like Eros S. Atalia, Bob Ong and others, for example, so I don’t know. Maybe this list will grow and really, I know I’ve forgotten other books I’ve read and not finished.

Oh well. I guess we’ll just see how things go.