Friday, December 31, 2010

A Stranger in the Mirror by Sidney Sheldon

(Photo taken from Goodreads)

Title: A Stranger in the Mirror
Author:  Sidney Sheldon
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing
Language: English
ISBN-10:  0446356573
ISBN-13:  978-0446356572
Rating:
 






This book is amazing-blah-amazing.  I know it sounds confusing, but read on, and I'll explain to you as best as I can.

According to Goodreads
"Toby Temple is a superstar, the world's funniest man. He gets any woman that he wants, but under the superstar image is a lonely man. Jill Castle is a sensuous starlet. She has a dark and mysterious past and has an ambition even greater than Toby's. Together they rule Hollywood."
This story builds its momentum with meticulous precision, snappy dialogue, and slow-but-gripping pace.  The back story is a bit long, but necessary to understand the whole story, and in my opinion, it was the best part of this book.  I learned a lot about all the characters, that I was able to form an attachment for Toby and Jill for their similar struggles and sacrifices.  I laughed with them, cried with them, got mad with them, and dreamed with them.  I loved them.

Reading further, I thought it would deepen the connection I felt between these characters.  For Toby, it certainly did, seeing all his efforts finally paying off.  However, for Jill, I suddenly felt like I did not know her anymore.  Gone is the down-to-earth Jill full of hope.  Replacing her is a mean and vicious woman, out to get everyone that put her down in the past.  I'm afraid to say that although I was behind her every step of her struggles, I was not very pleased with this development in her character and really began to resent her.  Maybe that is what the author wanted, to have the readers really connecting with the characters and then either understanding or shunning this unfavorable change in Jill's character.  Maybe that means the author has really written a story with really relatable characters that have distinguishable personalities and definitive backgrounds. 

With regard to the story, I really have no problem with it except that it dragged towards the middle and I had a bit of difficulty pushing through its slow pace.  I was rewarded, however, with an enriching experience when the story built into its climax and resolution.  I loved how it turned out, even if it does seem tragic and sad.  But for me, I was completely satisfied with how things played out in the end, I was totally vindicated with my sudden dislike for Jill, and not wanting to inadvertently put in a spoiler here, I am thoroughly content.  To understand what happened, you better grab a copy of this book.
 
 ----------

This will definitely be the last post for this blog this year, and ARGH and I would like to greet everyone a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!  We wish that 2011 will be a fabulously-awesome year for all of us!
 


    Follow New Year's Eve Friday!



    Finally it's Friday again, and literally the end of 2010!  Next week it's going to be a new year and it will be fabulously awesome!

    I have a joke with my friends:  Every time they ask me when we can go out again, which is usually Saturday next week - I'm passing this Saturday because that's the New Year - I only have one reply for them:  I'll see you guys next year.  Heh.  Do you have any New Year joke you love to make?

    Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's Views and this week, the question is:

      What are your new years book blogging resolutions?

    Mine:

    1.  Read more.  I bet you think this is not possible because everyone on here are reading more.  What I'm saying is that, I may have read a lot, but not enough.  I haven't even read To Kill A Mockingbird for cryin' out loud!  (More on this disgraceful fault on another post.)
    2.  Keep an open mind on other genres.  As you probably know, I'm not much for paranormal fiction, sci-fi, and series in general.  I will try to explore other genres more, who knows?  I might like them.
    3.  Read and review more Filipino authors.
    4.  Come up with more creative ways to review books.  I've tried writing an open letter, fictional conversations, and the typical style review.  I like stirring things up and would love to look for other ways I could do that.
    5.  Stop.  Splurging.  On.  Books.  I need money for other stuff too.  :D

    That's it!  HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

    Thursday, December 30, 2010

    Favorite Book Characters and Significant Book for 2010



    It's the last day of 2010!  Are you ready to face the New Year?

    Okay, so I have only been blogging for just barely over a month, but hey, in that time, I've read 29 books and reviewed 34 (some books I've read earlier than November).  I got 115 followers and made some friends, found some really interesting books to read and upcoming titles to watch out for.  The year is ending and I would like to end it with a bang by sharing not my top favorite books of this year - you already know that (the blog footer will give you an idea) - but let's do something new, I'm sharing my top favorite book characters for 2010!

    I am going to base my favorites on the books I've read this year, and you know what they are, if you don't, you may check them out here.

    Top 5 Male Book Characters for 2010:

    5.  John Sampson from Kiss the Girls by James Patterson.  He was strong, brave, mean, and loyal.  And he's got a good sense of humor too. 

    4.  Parker from The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson.  He was the perfect 'not boyfriend boyfriend' and he's such a great friend as well.  I would love to have him as a friend if he were a real person, maybe even my boyfriend! (Let's hope The Boyfriend does not read this)

    3.   Cyril Bartholomew from Flavor of the Week by Tucker Shaw.  I love that he can cook and he's big and he's really, really smart.  He's a great friend and an even better cook and if he were real, I'd totally bug him for his recipes.

    2.  Quentin "Q" Jacobsen from Paper Towns by John Green.  He's very intelligent and loyal to his friends.  I love how he managed to figure out the mystery surrounding Margo's disappearance and how he managed to keep a clear head through most of what he went through.  He'd make a really great team leader and I'd love to be on his team.

    1.  Dash from Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.  He is my new hero!  I love everything he says and I plan to use it in my own daily conversations.  Check these out:
    "I was horribly bookish, to the point of coming right out and saying it, which I knew was not socially acceptable..."
    "The drapery was so thick and the furniture so cloaked that I half expected to find Sherlock Holmes thumb-wrestling with Jane Austen in the corner."
    He's got sarcasm and dry wit down to a tee and I would LOVE a friend like that - we'd spend hours to see if we could out-talk and outwit each other.


    Top 5 Female Characters of 2010:

    5.  Sasha from What If... All the Rumors Were True by Liz Ruckdeschel and Sara James.  She's this well-rounded pretty girl who can play soccer like mad, play music like a genius, and do school with flying colors.  She's so friendly and beautiful and down-to-earth and what person does not want that?

    4.  Phoebe from The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.  Phoebe has Down syndrome in the story but it does not stop her from being the most lovable character in the book.  Her innocence and common sense makes her a very easy person to be with.

    3.  Nina Bermudez from The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson.  Let's just say she's mainly one of my favorites because we have the same names!  And she's very smart and driven and has really great leadership qualities.  Someone I'd love to be with under very critical situations.

    2.  Grace from Delirium by Lauren Oliver.  She's Lena's young cousin.  She does not speak and only Lena has heard her talk.  She knows what she wants for herself and she protects the people she loves in a fierce, yet silent manner.

    1.  Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  She's such a brave girl.  She's been through a lot in the story and she was still able to hold her own and roll with the punches.  Her strength of character is very admirable  because of the experiences she had in her life.


    Honorable Mention:

    Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
    Infinite Darlene from Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan 

    These two characters are gay and proud of that fact.  They do not let their sexuality affect their lives - in fact it's what helps them give their best in everything they do.  They're both kickass athletes, creative artists, fiercely loyal friends, and all-around great people.

    ----------

    Before wrapping up this post, I would also like to honor this book that has become the most significant book for me in 2010, not really the favorite-favorite, although I do love this book a lot, but because this was what pushed me to make a book blog in the first place, and this book was also the first one I reviewed on here.  The Significant Book of 2010 goes to:

     The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

    I would forever remember this book as the one that started it all - bloggers this is what you should blame for my blogging about books in the first place.

    That's it, expect that next year the list would be longer and better, as it would definitely reflect a whole new year of reading and blogging.  A Happy New Year to us all!

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

    (Photo taken from Goodreads)

    Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
    Author:  Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
    Publisher: Quirk Books
    Language: English
    ISBN-10:  1594743347
    ISBN-13:  978-1594743344
    Rating: 







    I previously said I'll be reading this but I ended up ditching it because it bored me.  Well, in between books, I tried to read a few pages and now I am done, hence this review.

    At first I was really fascinated with the concept of introducing a completely bizarre story into the classics, helps stir things up and encourages a renewed interest in the books.  I even did a post on these book mashups and most of the commenters on that post said they have a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I was also thinking of which book I could pick up, and thinking that this book is the most popular one, I know a friend who has a copy and borrowed this and started reading.  The first few chapters are funny and interesting, but I think all of you have experienced having a conversation with your parents/friends/anyone else you know where they always bring up this silly incident which makes you laugh the first few times but then the joke gets old pretty soon and all you could say when they repeat it again is, "Yeah, I think you already told me that story..." but they still insist on telling you about it again?  That's what happened in this book.  I loved Pride and Prejudice so much and I understand that that book, as well as Austen's other books are really very powerful that the magic of their stories transcends time.  I also like zombies although not too much to go gaga over them but enough to give me a laugh when I read about them, and it was interesting to see Austen's storyline being invaded by zombies.  But mere insertions of a zombie fight or some such thing is not really that riveting to me, it was just like reading Pride and Prejudice all over again, but this time it's like my mind is warping some of the passages that makes reading about zombies not very amusing.


    I thought the book would be giving different twists and quirks and maybe that's what disappointed me so much.  I suppose I could not expect any of the major characters to die or turn into a zombie, but something to that effect could have been better, could have at least made the book more fascinating on its own, than relying on Austen's power and just tossing in some undead beings.  For me, it doesn't really matter if you don't stay too faithful to the original book, the point here is to create a new story from an old book and a new concept right?   This book had a lot of promise, but the execution was poorly done.

    Of course, Austen's prim and proper manner of writing is preserved, the voice solid and clear, the characters charming and relatable.  I loved the graphic illustrations and the realistic tone of dialogue but that's where it stops.  If the story itself had been written with more creativity and force, this book could have been better.  I could not picture myself  buying this book and keeping it on my shelf to re-read it over and over.  Good thing I did not get this on my own, otherwise, I would be really kicking myself in the head right now for wasting a lot of money on something as useless as this book.

      Third Sentence Thursday

      Third Sentence Thursday

      Third Sentence Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books for treating third sentences with the dignity they deserve!

      This week's theme is review the sentence from your current read.

      1) Take the book you are reading now and post the third sentence
      2) Review this sentence anyway you want (funny and silly reviews encouraged)
      3) Post a link to your sentence here or if you don't have a blog, just post it in the comments!
      4) Prepare for next week's theme: Weirdest Third Sentence!

      My Third Sentence for this week is from Paper Towns by John Green:



      "YOU WILL GO TO THE PAPER TOWNS
      AND YOU WILL NEVER COME BACK"

      -In the book, that sentence was found painted on the wall of a deserted building.  It was painted in red, but was painted over thinly with white, which makes it only visible when you point a light at an angle towards it.  I totally freaked when I got to this part and it really felt weird, but at the same time, there was a surge of excitement because this was another clue for the mystery.



      I Finally Found the Reading Challenges for Me!




      I finally found a reading challenge I can do!  Yay‼  Katy from A Few More Pages is hosting the 2011 Seconds Challenge.  I've read books from some authors that makes me want to go read their other works but I never get around to doing it.  This might help me with that and hey, an excuse to read more books is always welcome, right?

      For this challenge, because I don't want to go way over my head, I'm going to do the second level:  A Few More Bites which requires me to read six books.

      Actually, I already have two books I could line up on this challenge!  I promise not to read them until January 1, 2011 (as if I can read them before 2010 ends):

      Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson
      An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
      Sea Glass by Anita Shreve
      The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares
      The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon



      I'm going to add to the list as I go, but at least I already have two five prepared, three of which are already done.  I'm so excited!

      Also, since I'm going to get into these reading challenges, I've decided to join Lazy Girl Reads' Mini Book Challenge for 2011 that runs from January to April 2011. 


      Basically you have to read four books that have each of the following themes:

      1.  Something old - Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
      2.  Something new - Plan B by Charnan Simon
      3.  Something borrowed - My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares
      4.  Something blue - Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenneger

      I thought it would be fairly easy to complete but I'll make up my book list as I go, I have a few titles in mind already but I thought I could give it a little time, I might find better books for this one :D DONE!!!

      Here is the award that Lah from Lazy Girl Reads sent everyone who completed this challenge, which includes me :D




      So there you have it, two reading challenges for 2011.  Might not be much, but I just wanted to wade in the water for a while.  I don't want to sign up for more than I could handle as I can become impossibly busy sometimes.


      Diagnosis Death by Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

       
      (Photo taken from Goodreads)

      Title: Diagnosis Death
      Author:  Richard L. Mabry, M.D.
      Publisher: Abingdon Press
      Publication Date:  4/1/2011
      Language: English
      ISBN-10: 1426710216
      ISBN-13: 978-1426710216
      Advanced reader's digital copy received from NetGalley
      Rating:
       
       
       
       
       
        

      On further research, I learned that this is the third book off the Prescription for Trouble series, but it's not completely dependent on the first two books and you can read this on its own.  This digital advanced reader's copy was sent to me by NetGalley.  I did not have any expectations up front when I requested for a copy of this book, although the fact that it's got euthanasia as one of its topics got me interested but that was just it.  Reading through the first few pages got me hooked and I somehow knew this would be a really fun and intense ride. 

      According to Amazon.com
      "When her comatose husband dies in the ICU while on life support, the whispers about Dr. Elena Gardner begin. Another death during her training puts her under suspicion. When the pattern is repeated in the hospital where she is attempting to start over, the whispers turn into a shout: “mercy killing.”

      What is the dark secret that keeps Elena’s lips sealed when she should be defending herself? Despite her move to a new city, the midnight phone calls that started after her husband’s death follow Elena. Who is the woman who sobs out, “I know what you did?” What does she mean by “You’ll pay?” And what can Elena do to prevent it?


      Two physicians, widowers themselves, offer support, telling Elena they know what she is going through after the death of her husband. But do they? And is it safe to trust either of them with her secret?" 
       This book totally blew me away!  It possessed everything I have been looking for in a thriller:  Mystery, suspense, some psychological kicks.  This could be one of the scariest thrillers out there to be released in 2011.  While reading this book, I couldn't help but think to myself, This is totally up there with Hannibal.  There aren't any gruesome murders or inconceivable torturing but the fear that each chapter conveys - the mysterious calls, the anonymous letters, all those harrowing events that haunt Elena's life is so surreal yet very realistic.  I could never begin to figure out how anyone confronted with such threats could cope, and yet in this well-written story, I think I almost could.

      Euthanasia has been the topic of much debate over the years in Bio-Ethics.  In this book, it covers the legal, emotional, and psychological ramifications for the people that will survive the patient once life support is withdrawn.  The grief and the guilt caused by making that major decision to allow a loved one to die is so inconsolable and overwhelming, and this story attempts to portray all those emotions with logical and spiritual balance. 

      The writing is snappy, demanding, and well-paced.  You begin to read this and you do not put this down.  The voice of the narration is neutral but laced with excitement and pulls the reader deeper into the story until all questions are answered, all mysteries solved.  It did not also attempt to hold off on the suspense too much, unlike other stories that try to string the reader along until the very end to reveal every answer that turns out to be too simple or bland that it becomes an anticlimax.  But it did not, however, expose everything right away, the timing is impeccable, that once I got into some of those parts, I would try to cover the lower page with my hand just so my eyes wouldn't cheat and try to peek and see the answers.  It was exciting to solve the mystery and it was exciting to understand the mystery. 

      The characters are all well-rounded, well-thought of, their personalities very human and realistic.  I felt a lot of sympathy for Elena, for all her losses and misfortunes, but I was totally with her to the end.  I loved her courage and her strength, and somehow she reminded me of her mother, nothing fazes them.  As for the other characters, they are all very likable and relatable, although I would have wanted to torture some characters a bit more.  But that's just the sadist in me talking.

      Overall, I could not wait for this book to be out in bookstores next year.  Even if I'd read this already, I would love to pick up a copy and read it all over again.  I would definitely recommend this book to everyone.  Watch out for this one and don't forget the date this will be published:  April 1, 2011!


       

      Wednesday, December 29, 2010

      'New Book' Ritual

      Today I woke up with this nagging feeling that I need to go to the bookstore and buy a book.  So I went to the secondhand bookshop in the mall and got four books.  It did not cause a dent in my budget so it was okay (just a bit worried that the books might not be that good, crossing my fingers!).  The books are:


      Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
      A Dangerous Dress by Julia Holden
      Back in the Game by Holly Chamberlin
      Fat Hoochie Prom Queen by Nico Medina - I remembered this from Dash and Lily's Book of Dares but I thought this was just a made up title.  So when I found this in one of the shelves, I let out a chuckle and grabbed it. :D

      When I got home, I do the first thing I always do for my new books:  
      1. Wrap the cover in plastic, for hardbound books with jackets, I use a double-sided adhesive to tape the jacket to the cover then wrap it in plastic.  
      2. Put my name in the front page and the year I bought the book.  
      3. Open the book in the middle, smell it (I am addicted to the smell of new books), open other pages again and smell them too, then run my thumb through the pages.  
      4. Turn the pages as fast as I can, checking the page numbers to make sure there are no missing pages, blank pages, or any other inconsistencies.
      I've been doing this since I was in high school, and even did it for my school books.  So how about you?  What's the first thing you do when you get a new book?  Any practical or quirky ritual you'd love to share? 

      Life is Good Award

      I just got a heads up from Ivan of Ivan Bookworm that he is giving me the Life is Good Award!  Yay‼

      UPDATE:  Cynthia at Wytch's Mirror is also passing this award onto me.  Isn't it wonderful?  Thank you, Cynthia!

      Here's the picture trophy :D

      I am so thrilled and so is ARGH and we'd love to say:

       So apparently, we also have do the following tasks for this award:

      1. First, thank and link back to the person that gave the award.
      2. Answer the 10 survey questions
      3. Pass the award along to other bloggers whom you think are fantastic.
      4. Contact the bloggers you have chosen to let them know about the award.

      10 survey questions:

      1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this?   If you are not anonymous, do you wish that you had started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now?


      A:  Not exactly anonymous because sometimes I like to share something about myself that's still sort of related to what this blog is all about because that makes things interesting.  I mean, if I were a reader of this blog, I would definitely get bored just reading book reviews and memes but not really being able to connect with the person behind those stuff.  But I do not like to share too much of myself for obvious reasons, and because I don't really think that's necessary.  This is not a personal blog, anyway.

      2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side.

      A:  I've got a lot of that!  I am a very stubborn person, and headstrong too.  Once I've made up my mind about something, it's very difficult to change my mind.  But one incident:  I was in high school and we were having our school fair.  My class was assigned to work on the Horror House and I was one of the 'ghosts.'  During break, I really needed to go get something to eat but I did not want to take off my makeup because it was difficult to put on, my classmates were already insisting that I change costumes first before going and that they'd help me with changing later on but I wouldn't listen.  I was too concerned with how much effort would be put into getting into my costume again.  So off I went to the cafeteria.  On the way there, I had to go down three sets of stairs and my dress was quite long, I kept tripping on my skirts and on the last step, I tripped again and fell face first on the floor.  So much for my stubbornness, not only do I have to re-do my makeup, I had to nurse a black eye for days after that.

      3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

      A:  Mirrors break when I look at them.  Just kidding :p  I see someone with sharp eyes, the kind that people know cannot be fooled, I see a pair of lips that spew words dripping with dry wit and sarcasm, and I see a face that looks back at me and tells me I have to do something.  What that something is, I haven't really figured out yet.

      4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?

      A:  Watermelon shake!  But my really favorite cold drink is cold, icy water.

      5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

      A:  Read, eat, read, sleep.

      6. Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?

      A:  Put up my own bookstore (more on that next time), have kids that I would dress up like me, even if I have a boy, and of course, travel the world!

      7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching?

      A:  I was the class clown and class achiever - not really overachiever, no, I could not get past the ceiling grades back then and I did not really want to because I thought I would need a lot of brain cells when I get out of school.  Good foresight, I had. 

      8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?

      A:  When I had to kiss and hug my father goodbye when he died :-(

      9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?

      A:  Depends on my mood and the topic.

      10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

      A:  Read AND talk on the phone!  Who said you could only do just one?  But really, I'd rather read.  Talking on the phone can wait, I wouldn't have that much to say anyway.
      So that wraps up the survey.  The following are the people ARGH and I would like to pass this award to, and we hope they'd love it as much as we did: 

      Lazy Girl Reads
      Once again, thank you very much Ivan and Cynthia for giving us this award, ARGH and I love it, and congratulations to everyone who received this as well‼ 


      Tuesday, December 28, 2010

      So 5 Minutes Ago by Hilary de Vries

      (Photo taken from Goodreads)

      Title:  So 5 Minutes Ago
      Author:  Hilary de Vries
      Publisher:  Villard
      Language: English
      ISBN-10: 
      1400061385
      ISBN-13:  978-1400061389
      Rating:







      If I previously thought that chick lit will always be the best go-to book for a light read, then I am now going to change that opinion.  This book was too negative and whiny and I could not get through each chapter without thinking that I would love to strangle the main character Alex if I were given the chance.

      The story is about a Hollywood publicist in her thirties,  Alex Davidson, who finds herself torn between her loyalty for her previous DWP boss Suzanne, and the new boss of  DWP -  G, amidst juggling her career keeping B-list Hollywood clients' careers afloat, her personal and love life, and her family.  

      This book had so much promise because once I read the blurb in the book, it just screams "Girl Power!" and that was why I could not wait to read it.  I. Was. Wrong.  The potential girl power story turned out to be a major bitch fest of a thirty-something woman against the whole world.  I would have been able to look past that if the rest of the story is great but the lukewarm climax and ending, the fictional celebrity names like 'Scrappy,' 'Scooby,' or 'Phoenix,' and shallow minor conflicts that tried to create tension where there shouldn't be did not help this read to be salvageable.

      But bland, whiny plot aside, I thought the writing was good, dialogue crisp, characters vivid and realistic.  I would have loved even bitchy Alex if the plot were different or written more creatively.  Among the characters however, I loved Steve, Alex's assistant, the most.  He's such a fun, down-to-earth, and efficient assistant and friend to Alex, I would have loved to meet him if he were real.  

      So overall, this book is light, interesting due to its Hollywood theme, but not really that earth-shattering.  If you would like to get an inside peek on Hollywood, you may pick up this book, but only for the sole purpose of looking into the inner workings of that formidable industry.  Otherwise, steer clear of this book.  A good read this book does not make.  Only something to waste time while I dunno, waiting for your break in Hollywood, I guess.

      Teaser Tuesday





      Teaser Tuesdays
      is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:



      • Grab your current recently finished and new favorite read
      • Open to a random page
      • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
      • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
      • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 
      My Teaser:

      I still have a big Will Grayson, Will Grayson hangover and I would like to dedicate a Teaser Tuesday to them.  This week, I will ignore rule number one above, just for this week, I promise!



      "tiny:  847-555-3982
       Gay God:  847-555-7363
       tiny:  WILL SOMEONE PLEASE WRITE THAT DOWN FOR ME?" 


      -page 259, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

      Monday, December 27, 2010

      Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

      (Photo taken from Goodreads)

      Title:  Will Grayson, Will Grayson
      Author:  John Green and David Levithan
      Publisher:  Dutton
      Language: English
      ISBN-10:  0525421580
      ISBN-13:  978-0525421580
      Music In My Head:  Two Headed Boy by Neutral Milk Hotel
      Rating:







      I finished this book in one go.  I normally have a lot to do during the holidays but once I decided I'm reading this, I let nothing and no one distract me, which is fairly easy because really, when has a David Levithan or a John Green book ever been a drag?  And considering this is a collaboration between the two awesome authors mentioned above, this book is overflowing with awesomeness some of it drips on me!  And because this is partly a David Levithan work, my head automatically plays music and for once, it decides to use one of the songs mentioned in the book, Neutral Milk Hotel's Two Headed Boy, which is Will Grayson #1's least favorite song, but hits the story spot on.  Perfect.

      Imagine having another person with your name, not just your first name but your last name too.  Now, suppose you met that person someplace.  I bet some have, and isn't it the strangest feeling?  I have never known anyone named Nina Bermudez - it's my brother who has a namesake, who turns out to be his classmate so imagine the weirdness and the awkward moments when their professor kept confusing them with each other - I do have a fictional character namesake, Nina Bermudez from The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson, but you already know that given that I've mentioned it about 18,546 times on this blog already.  But sometimes, when someone I know reads that book, he/she never fails to tell me about it and say that it felt weird reading about someone in a book that has my name, and they immediately compare me to that character, easily trying to base the character on my personality in high school (which is interestingly, almost the same with what's in the book.  Almost ).  In Will Grayson, Will Grayson,  two 'superficially different' (I'll get to that later) teenagers with the same name meet by accident, and their lives intertwine when Tiny Cooper, Will Grayson #1's (from here on, I shall refer to Will Grayson #1 as WG1 and Will Grayson #2 as WG2) best friend becomes WG2's boyfriend.  A quirky, touching, and cool story about love, friendship, accepting and becoming the real you, and a fabulous school play that brings it full circle.  

      If I thought, just by reading the teasers that this would be a predictable story, I couldn't have been more wrong.  First, I did not expect the depth of Tiny's influence on both Will Graysons and how it would affect their outlook in life.  Next, I did not expect the conflict and especially the ending.  I totally had no idea how the book would turn out, but I did predict that I would love everything about it.

      In Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, I knew that David Levithan was writing Dash, and Rachel Cohn was writing Lily.  Doing a little research, I found that John Green wrote the chapters for the straight Will Grayson (WG1) and Levithan wrote for the gay Will Grayson (WG2).  Naturally, now why didn't I think of that?  They even split the thinking of a name for their main character, with Levithan coming up with the first name and Green with the last name.  In describing their writing process, they each wrote three chapters for their characters on their own without really agreeing on a definite plot, read it aloud to each other, and then try to imagine the nuances and appropriate reactions of each character when they eventually meet.  Each character stands out clearly, not just because WG2's chapters are written lowercase, reflecting the character's feelings of smallness, marginalization, and hopelessness.  For WG1, the chapters are written in normal type and gives off that smart-guy-who-is-not-aware-of-his-own-coolness-and-pretends-he-does-not-care vibe, which is how WG1 would actually be described.  But even if they are written by two different authors, the story is very clean, seamless, and united  Each chapter flows through the next as smoothly as if I poured oil onto the pages to help the words slide through.  You get this book knowing it's a collaboration, but you finish reading it thinking this is written by just one writer.  There are no contradicting statements, each scene, dialogue, and character consistent and faithful to its initial presentation.  

      So now you're probably thinking about the 'superficially different' statement I said about WG1 and WG2.  I think that on the surface, they are different:  1.   WG1 is straight, WG2 is gay;  2.  WG1 has a somewhat easy relationship with his parents, WG2 doesn't; 3.  WG1 may be socially awkward, but sociable nonetheless, while WG2 is a loner and only has one 'real' friend and that does not even work out; 4.  WG1 is sort of smart and upbeat, WG2 is clinically depressed and takes prescribed medications.  So how different can they get, right?  But I can't help noticing the parallel between these two Will Graysons:  They are both trying not to care, not to say too much, and both are afraid and hiding inside themselves - ultimately, they are both hiding, period.  The first two statements are demonstrations of that fact.  I would love to delve deeper into this parallel thing, but that would mean I have to put spoilers and that can't happen.  

      I love the supporting characters and how they hold the story together.  They each inspire some emotion from the reader.  I  hated and pitied Maura, got annoyed and then a little 'sweetly cuted-out' by Jane (although I didn't really like her that much), and admired-got-annoyed-fell-in-love with Tiny.  I thought WG1's parents were pretty cool, especially his dad, and I really wanted to give WG2's mom a hug and tell her that everything would be all right.  They could each have their own story lines and plots, especially Tiny.  I would give Tiny a whole novel, come to that.  But I did love the musical he wrote about his life and I wish it could become a reality.  After a little research, I found that the title of his musical, Tiny Dancer and later, Hold Me Closer, are actually parts of a song title by Ironik.  Tiny Dancer (Hold Me Closer) is a 2008 song by Ironik that uses samples of Elton John's song, Tiny Dancer.  And guess what, some Nerdfighters from John Green's website, www.nerdfighters.com are working on making Hold Me Closer a reality, and you may visit here if you want to help.  

      I think everything in this story is very smart, poignant, and touching, and although this is technically a young adult novel, adults will definitely enjoy reading this as the issues presented here are as mature and as adult as you can get.  I mean, you can go all paranoid and self-conscious about your appearance, your coolness vibe, and your popularity status when you're in high school, but understanding who you really are and accepting yourself is a timeless issue, which makes this book light but meaningful, poking fun at people's pretensions of indifference but shedding light on deciding to face yourself and self-acceptance.  A humorous, quirky, but serious story that every teenager or any-ager needs to read.


      10 Good Things on a Monday

       10 Good Things on a Monday is a weekly meme I would be doing dedicated to every person's compulsive list-writing.  Every Monday we are going to make a list of 10 things that will cheer us up and help us tide over the whole week.  

      Here's how it works:
      1. Think of a particular group of good things you want to make a list on, does not necessarily have to be about books, e.g. your current book wish list, or your favorite book foods (you know, foods you love to eat while reading, if you're like me), or your favorite girly names, whatever you can think of, as long as it makes you feel good.
      2. If you have no ideas for a list, you can always visit my blog post to check out my theme for that week and you can take a cue from my list.
      3. Post your list on your blog, grab that cute ARGH button above and put it on your post too, so we'd know you're doing this meme.
      4. Leave the link for your post on my own 10 Good Things post for the week, if you see others doing it, comment too and let's share our good things with everybody.
      5. Everybody goes through the whole week happy!
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      My 10 Good Things for this weekMy favorite music for 2010

      Christmas has just passed and the New Year is on its way.  This week, my list would be about my 10 favorite songs for 2010 - not necessarily songs that were released this year, but songs that I discovered in 2010 and has been occupying my playlist for most of this year.  Do note though, some of these songs I only listen to the music and don't really mind the music all that much.

      So here goes:


      1.  Hey Hey You by the Vinyl Pinups.  
      2.  Gimme Sympathy by Metric.
      4.  Heard It On the Radio by The Bird and The Bee.
      5.  Teenage Dream by Katie Perry. 
      6.  If It's Love by Train.
      7.  Rhythm of Love by Plain White Ts.
      8.  Don't Call It Love by the Vinyl Pinups
      9.  Forget You by Cee Lo Green.  The 'unclean' version is not allowed in our house. Meh.
      10.  Nothing On You by BoB. and Bruno Mars.  I just looove the intro.