Tuesday, December 03, 2013

What I've Been Reading

In the past few months, I've been blogging less about book reviews and more about local authors. It's a conscious decision, especially since I started publishing independently. To be honest, I have a lot of hesitations about what being an indie writer can mean to my book-blogging self. Can someone be both writer and critic -- especially someone who does not have the pedigree or the cajones to lay claim to either label yet?

While the choice might have been easy to some -- I grew up wanting to be a writer and not a book blogger anyway -- it still puts me in murky territory. I love discussing books. I like talking about the writing process. So please be patient with me while I still try to figure out what to do with my little space on the internet here. In the meantime, here are the books that I've managed to finish recently:

Welcome to Envy Park (Mina V. Esguerra) - A contemporary Filipino romance about Moira, who's back in Manila just biding her time before she heads off to another Asian country for her next job. I liked the tone and the dialogue in this one. Among Ms Esguerra's other heroines, I could also relate to Moira best. She speaks and thinks with candor and her voice felt very genuine. Her romance with Ethan was quite well-developed to me, so organic and natural and extremely kilig. Their interplay was engaging without being heavy-handed. Robbie and Dante are still my favorite male characters, but when couples are involved, Ethan and Moira appeal to me the most. I finished the paperback but I still went back to my ebook version just so I could mark my favorite lines and situations.

Love Story (Jennifer Echols) - This was my first Jennifer Echols book. Erin had a interesting poor-little-rich-girl story, and I thought the novel's writing class backdrop made it a bit more self-aware of the tropes that the story employs. Some comments from minor characters felt meta to me, which made me smile. One of my major reservations about it was that I don't understand how the class also seemed to be in the same residence hall (and they're all from different majors too), which I thought was pretty convenient.

Project 17 (Eliza Victoria) - I love reading science-fiction set in the Philippines. Ms Victoria crafts a world of high-stakes security and medical advancement against the backdrop of a futuristic Manila. Lillian is hired as the babysitter of Paul Dolores' brother Caleb, a smart and introverted man with schizoaffective disorder. Her job was supposed to be easy, but her curiosity lands her in a more than what she bargained for. Great tension and action, plus I thought the characters are very engaging. Finished this in one sitting.

The Manual of Detection (Jedediah Berry) - Part noir mystery, part dream. The narrative is expansive and many-layered, as it follows a clerk who has to step into the large (empty) shoes of the best detective in the agency. On one hand, it is the story of the clerk Unwin who, like his name, is far from being a force to reckon with. Bland and ordinary, he doesn't understand how he could be promoted to detective position vacated by the investigator for whom he clerks and attempts to find a way back to his old humdrum position. But there's more here than meets the eye. Add to his story the different mysteries that detective Silart has solved, which are also being told and re-told in bits and pieces. Chapter headings echo the headings of a manual that Unwin has received on his first day at the new job -- the so-called Manual of Detection. This was a really engrossing read.


Khursten said...

Wow. These sound like awesome reads. I actually got Envy Park off Amazon but now I am more curious about The Manual of Detection. Love noir-ish tales so that'll be a treat. :D

dementedchris said...


You will like this one! Dream-noir. LOL.