Book Swap Cebu

I dropped by the second Book Swap Cebu event last Friday to have some of my old favorites traded with some of other people’s faves. I missed the first one earlier this year so I’m really glad they organized another one so soon after.

These are my loot:

I haven’t been book shopping much lately, partly because I have no time, but mostly because I really haven’t got the space for more books after I’ve moved in to a smaller apartment. I have tons of books and I’ve given away so many (including my Harry Potter set, nbd) but when I moved out last year, I was very much surprised to find that my books still took up a good four boxes + 1 shelf.

I really didn’t expect to go home with so many books as I’ve restricted myself to only pick up titles that are very compelling so imagine my surprise when I found someone who traded in China Mieville’s Kraken and C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed. Grief has been on my death reading list for so long, and I am the biggest China Mieville fan I know lol, so I was ecstatic. I felt like a child again.

I also traded in my copy of Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents (A Discworld book), so it was amusing to get another Discworld book back (Witches Abroad) as a sort of funny Discworld barter.

The place (Handuraw Mango) was packed and too bad I couldn’t stay for Short Reads live after the swapping as I had to rush to the other Handuraw for Karla’s book launch. That place was also stuffed to the brim, but I managed to get a copy of her book.

It’s exciting to have two prime hangout places in Cebu crowded with book-loving people on a Friday night. I never thought I’d see the day.


Light by Rob Cham; and Limbo by Playdead

Light is a worldless comic book created by Rob Cham and released by Anino in 2015. The pages are framed in black and features a backpack-toting, nameless fella that travels across different lands, and encounters and battles different monsters in his mysterious quest.

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His journey unfolds delightfully in pitch black backgrounds, with the occasional peppering of colors to signify a milestone. The illustrations are beautifully rendered in the limited color palette that Rob Cham chooses and reminds me a lot of Limbo, a wordless puzzle-platform game made by independent Danish game developer Playdead.


Both titles play around with black and white, they have beautiful visuals, and both tease their audiences with a mystery (What are these kids up to?) that makes us want to keep going til the very end.

Continue reading “Light by Rob Cham; and Limbo by Playdead”

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Consumerism

But whatever, right? These are good books I bought at a bargain in that crazy National Bookstore Warehouse Sale from the last weekend. The hardcovers were the most expensive at Php100, which is a deal for hardcover copies of books I’ve been eyeing for months.  I did not pick up some good titles (Mieville’s Kraken in hardcover gaah!) because I make bad decisions in my life.

Not pictured is Kurt Vonnegut: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, because, I dunno, another bad decision I guess.



A Childhood Farewell of Sorts

IMG_5650 I’m giving away my children’s books mostly because I’m running out of space for new ones, and also because I have not re-read any of these for so long that they’ve started looking sad.

I’ve been collecting Newberry medalists for a few years now – I fancied myself building a respectable library for my future children, but since all maternal instincts have escaped me and I cannot/don’t want to find a justifiable reason to make a human, there really is no point in amassing books that just end up gathering dust for years. Besides, if I finally decide to bear spawns, I could always buy more of these books. Or send the little ones off to the library.

I’m giving these books to a friend who’s a mother who loves books. I hope she and her boys enjoy them as much as I did.


I read The Egypt Game last weekend because I couldn’t remember what it was about. Well, it was about children fascinated with Egypt (d’oh!) which I would like to think all nerdy children had a phase with at some point in our their childhood.


I read this when I was in college and at a very bad time (night before finals) because I started it and couldn’t stop and go back to my college textbooks without finishing the story. It was a bad time to read a book for pleasure but The Door in the Wall was so good.  A great book of adventure and excitement. 10/10 will read again.


From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler has got to be one of my favorite childhood books ever. It’s one of two books from this pile that I’ve read more than twice, and it’s still as fun and still as charming as when I first read it so many years ago.

It also bears one of my favorite quotes about learning:

I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside of you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It’s hollow.



Roald Dahl is one of the most clever and fun writers with his odd but endearing characters.  I see more Dahls accumulating on my shelf for the years to come as one of my personal reading goals is to read (and write about) all of his works. Matilda and the Charlie Bucket series are probably his most popular books, no?


A Wrinkle in Time is also one of my childhood favorites. I used to hunt for the entire Time Quartet series in my grade school library and talk about them with the only other person I knew back then who was as crazy about the series as I was (hello, Zerah). I still remember staying up late at night to finish this and daydream about the book all through the next school day. This copy is so old, torn and battered (but so pretty). I tried re-reading this last week but I can’t seem to get past the first few pages.  Curious.IMG_5641 I also read The Midwife’s Apprentice in college and it’s quirky and quaint. It reminded me a lot of Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons, another grade school Newberry favorite.

2013 Book Hauls: So far, Not very bad

I’ve been trying not to buy too many books because my life can’t possibly just be all about reading. I think I did fairly okay with staying away from books this year, so far. Seven books in a couple of months is not THAT bad, yes? I mean, I did read eight books so far this year too, even if none of them were any of these books below. Oh well. Such is life.

A Pulitzer winner and a non-fiction.

Booksale Parkmall. January 2013.

Black Hawk Down. Non-fiction piece on warfare.

Black Hawk Down. Non-fiction piece on warfare.
Booksale SM City Cebu.

The Book Thief really got me into Nazi Germany and Antisemitism. I even started reading Mein Kampf!

The Book Thief really got me into Nazi Germany and Antisemitism. I even started reading Mein Kampf!
Booksale SM City Cebu.

My first Charles de Lint. I always enjoy his book reviews.

My first Charles de Lint. I always enjoy his book reviews.
A La Belle Aurore purchase.

Classic Mieville. Can’t wait to read this!

Classic Mieville. Can't wait to get my hands on this.
Another La Belle Aurore purchase.

For my Nebula reading list. I’ve been waiting for this to go on sale (I’m a poor cat), and I got it for 30% off. Woot.

For my Nebula reading list. I've been waiting for this to go on sale (I'm a poor cat), and I got it for 30% off. Woot.
NBS Ayala Center Cebu.

I’m giving away books this month too. Partly to make space for new books, and also because it’s my birthday month and I’m feeling generous.

A Northern Light

I brought this book with me on a holiday and stayed up ’til 2 A.M. and woke up at 6:30 A.M. just to get back to the story. I finished the book in less than a day, a feat when you’re on a vacation. It was a compelling read and I enjoyed it a lot. The setting was vivid and the era so well-rendered and well-researched too that it felt like I was reading a real memoir from a real person living in the 1900’s. I felt like I was there, and in many ways, I was. Mattie lost her mother to the same disease I lost mine to (the emperor of maladies), I read a lot/too much when I was younger and was consistently harassed for it (my fault though, I read before doing chores), and I too, was and am, caught between familial responsibilities, societal pressures and wanting to be yourself and do the things you want to do, which is all too familiar for bull-headed females who take the road not taken.

It was an interesting book to escape a hard reality from because “they” too lived a hard life. It isn’t all roses and perfume and grand and beautiful things, but the book felt real. I liked it a lot.

A Northern Light

Sadly though, I don’t love it as much as Darden and all the other kids at Goodreads did. I’m not really sure why, but I have an inkling that it’s because I am too old for it, or I’ve read The Book Thief first, or that the word games are all too familiar to me so it didn’t really bring something new to the table. The word play and the word games felt somewhat juvenile, and a bit gimmicky. 😦

I also couldn’t help but compare it to The Book Thief, which is a sad exercise to do when you’re reading a book (compare it with something else, I mean). But I couldn’t help it. I was set up for it and it ultimately led to disappointment because the prose for A Northern Light just didn’t… sing. It’s good writing but it’s not seamless, nor was it staggeringly beautiful – very much unlike Markus Zusak’s prose, which literally gave me goosebumps and made me want to cry just for being so elegant and sublime.

I also didn’t like how it turned out in the end – Mattie’s choices did not parallel what would’ve been mine, though I really don’t want to judge the book, a work of fiction, by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of my life, so that’s another matter.

I’m not saying that A Northern Light isn’t a good book. It is. I’m pretty sure I would love this so much more if I had read it years ago. I may not be gaga over it, I’m still very much glad I read it. Thank you.

A Northern Light

Aren’t the photos beautiful? I hope you like it as much as I do. We took them at the majestic Lake Danao in Camotes Island, which is probably the most apt setting we could think of for a shoot of this book *wink wink nudge nudge*. The place is amazingly peaceful and beautiful. I have not seen anything quite like it.

Here’s a bonus photo of us kayaking in the water. Look how placid everything is. We were the only ones creating a ruckus in the area. A Northern Light

Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories

I picked up this old, yellowed copy in 2010 and only got around to reading it this year. When I first watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), I was enamored with the beautiful Audrey Hepburn. How can someone have such ridiculously good bone structure? It didn’t matter then how Holly Golightly was, it just that she was sassy, glamorous and very good to look at. But book Holiday Golightly was very different to me.

To call Holly Golightly independent would be an understatement. Capote’s girl is a wild thing. Wild, wonderful and wacky. She insists on being independent, hankers for intimacy but spurns attachment and runs away from anything or anyone that could possibly make her feel like she belongs. She vows to never get used to anything. “Anybody that does, they might as well be dead.” But she is sweet in her own way, and her easy existence hides an iron will and a heavy heart. She is a glamorous oddball who wants to go places and will. She takes heartbreaks with stride and grace.

Book Holly is a pained bad-ass teen slut with attachment issues and ambitions that make her a more interesting and three-dimensional character compared to Audrey’s Holly. She can be very grating, and quite racist too, but I love her with all her faults and sensibilities. She is just a scared and lonely child at the core.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

I guess there’s a Holiday Golightly in us all – not necessarily the slut Holly, but the kid that wants to be forever the wild child, to reach the skies, to be somewhere, and be someone. But as Holly puts it herself, “It’s better to look at the sky than live there. Such an empty place; so vague. Just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s felt like a coming-of-age novella for adults.  I love this wistful, little book and how it makes me feel – there’s not a lot of things that are as good as picking this one up on a dull, rainy afternoon and reading it cover to cover.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's

I picked up the book for the short novel, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and as much as I like the novella, I ended up liking the short stories more. Capote wrote beautiful, whimsical stories with quirky characters and all of his sentences are perfect. His seamless writing transports you to where he wants you to be and lets you feel what he wants you to feel.

My favorite of his short stories in this book is A Christmas Memory, and when I finished it, I went right back to read it all over again. It made me sad, and it made me happy and I wanted to feel all those feels all over again.

The Annotated Hobbit

The Annotated Hobbit

Ola! So I got The Annotated Hobbit Revised and Expanded Edition for Christmas this year. I have a yellowed paperback copy that my dear mother bought for me in high school, but I wanted to get an updated and leveled-up version of the book this year. There are so many beautiful editions out there but this particular one stood out because it’s annotated by the Tolkien scholar Douglas A. Anderson, and it’s not just some annotated version – it’s THE annotated version to get.

Today, I’m sharing with all Tolkien and/or book fans (aren’t all Tolkien fans book fans though?) some notable portions of the book as well as a recommendation of whether or not you should get it, or if this book is for you.

The Annotated Hobbit

    The Annotated Hobbit

Price tag not yet removed because removing properly pasted tags is a definite pain in the ass.

The dust jacket is classy, sophisticated and pretty thoroughly designed.

The Annotated Hobbit

The Annotated Hobbit

Isn’t that shade of yellow gorgeous?

The Annotated Hobbit

This is the hardcover spine. Classy.

And now on to the details…

The Annotated Hobbit

A wonderful portrait of J.R.R. Tolkien across the title page. I love the dwarven runes as details. It looks gorgeous. I’ll check what they mean later.

The Annotated HobbitClose up of the portrait. I really like it. Mr. Elven Linguist looking so fly.

The Annotated Hobbit

Hello, Smaug.

The Annotated Hobbit

The book’s introduction is a pretty thorough biography of J.R.R. Tolkien’s life which includes pictures, such as the one above of his family. It provides a great insight to the background of the man who created Middle-earth and all those wonderful characters from that world.

The Annotated Hobbit

History of The Hobbit – how it came to be and positive critical reception when it first came out in 1937.

The Annotated Hobbit

The first page of The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again. As you can see, the book is arranged neatly in two columns. The outer columns contain the annotations which are pretty thorough. They’re not your usual annotations/footnotes. These are really detailed explanations of parts of a book from a real gentleman and scholar.

As you can see, the opening line “In a hole in a ground there lived a hobbit.”, has an annotation that is far longer than the sentence. It’s thorough like you wouldn’t believe.

The Annotated Hobbit

Another example page of annotations. One thing this book doesn’t lack is drawings! Drawings everywhere! There are illustrations of The Hobbit characters from all of the world – some of them pretty hilarious as they don’t resemble Tolkien’s versions of what his characters look like at all. Regardless though, all of them are charming.

One of my favorite parts of the book are in the three photos below. Colored drawings and scanned papers of wonderful Middle-earth settings, maps, and a dust jacket. Most of these are drawn by the Man himself.

The Annotated Hobbit The Annotated Hobbit The Annotated Hobbit

This book is absolutely gorgeous and if you like gorgeous books on your shelf, I highly recommend this. The dimensions are 9.3 x 8 x 1.1 inches, and about 2 lbs in shipping weight (as per Amazon), in case you are obsessive about sizes of books like some people I know.

Do I recommend this for Tolkien fans? Definitely. This is the annotated version to get because it’s amazing and awe-inspiring and filled to the brim with information not just about The Hobbit but also about the LOTR trilogy. Douglas A. Anderson is as thorough as he is smart. He’s also a big Tolkien fanboy so our precioussss is perfectly safe in his scholarly hands. If you love Middle-earth, this is a must-have.

Do I recommend this for general readers? I’m not sure! This book is not for everyone – the notes can be overwhelming most especially for people who don’t or don’t want to care. If you just want to read The Hobbit, there are so many other cheaper and simpler editions out there that are just as beautiful (or even far prettier) than this one. I suggest you take a look at different editions first before you decide.

I got this book for Php1,199 at Fullybooked Ayala Center Cebu. This is the last copy from that branch but I know that they can ship copies from other branches if you insist. It’s also available in Amazon for $18.28 or Php750+shipping.