Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – I have already heard of this title before, but somehow, the title didn’t exactly catch my attention, let alone be aware of its story. I know a lot of people have read this book, but I was not one of them. With the recent release of its film adaptation, it still did not convince me to buy the book. I did plan on watching the movie, though. But then, whenever I entered a book store, I kept seeing its promotional posters. But it was not the pictures that convinced me to buy a copy. It was the passages from the book that were posted that took my interest and so, I got myself a copy.

Here’s the summary from the back cover of the book:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Now that’s something. As simple as it may sound, the story holds something more. The format of the book is written in the form of letters. Charlie, the main character, writes the letters and he sends it to an unknown addressee, only considering the person as a friend. We do not know who that friend is, but I guess this format helps in engaging the readers more in the story. In turn, the letters demonstrate the experiences of a person undergoing adolescence as well as express Charlie’s thoughts, feelings, fears, and anxieties.

One can easily get into the book as the characters are realistic enough to be relatable – may it be Charlie’s sister, his brother, Sam, Patrick, Bill, etc. – because what they have gone through, any other person could experience. But Charlie has the greatest effect on me.

Charlie is outspoken and has an open mind that allows him to notice things around him and ponder about them. I also admire him since he is not afraid of his peers and just acts his true self, although in a different and special kind of way. He may have suffered emotionally and psychologically, but he shows to overcome them slowly. Quite frankly, I was surprised by the twist of the story that is revealed towards the end of the book. The way he cope with his struggles may not be all favorable to me, but the book still manages to let me get into his mind and understand his actions.

Evidently, Charlie’s a way of thinking is a bit mature for his age and somehow, there are those moments when I can see myself in him especially when he contemplates and reacts to certain situations. Sure enough, Stephen Chbosky is able to craft a story that let readers understand the message behind the title and Charlie shows to be the perfect example. A wallflower symbolizes a person who is merely a spectator of the world rather than a participator. Therefore, readers get a glimpse of the personal lives of other characters as well. On the other hand, I’m glad Charlie becomes a changed person with the help of his family and friends. I guess there are pros and cons of being a wallflower, but too much of something is not good, so I do hope Charlie is doing well now, now that he doesn’t send letters anymore.

Despite it being a short read, this book still has depth in it that makes me reflect and evaluate my life in general. Stephen Chbosky uses simple words to construct his storyline, but the weight of the story affect me in ways I never expected it to. He knows when to use the right words, and when certain sensitive things should slowly unfold without ever revealing everything immediately. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is surely a page-turner and, without a doubt, an amazingly life-changing book. It certainly gives me new insights about experiences that life presents. I just wish I could’ve picked this up sooner.

So, I would like to end this review with an inspiring passage I got from the book:

“…we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”

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Infinity Ring, Book One: A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner

Last September, when my sister and my friend attended the 33rd Manila International Book Fair, we stumbled upon a newly released series entitled Infinity Ring. Also published by Scholastic, the book had the same size and look as the 39 Clues series. The plot seems promising and my sister was intrigued by the story, so we bought the first book, Infinity Ring, Book One: A Mutiny in Time.

Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

History is broken.

When best friends Dak Smyth and Sera Froste stumble upon the key to time travel – a handheld device known as the Infinity Ring – they’re swept up in a centuries-old war for the fate of humankind. Recruited by a secret society named the Hystorians, the kids learn that history has gone disastrously off course. Now it’s up to Dak, Sera, and young Hystorian Riq to travel back in time to fix the Great Breaks.

After reading the plot, it is evident that it’s about time traveling. But what makes this story interesting is that this concept of time traveling is modeled into something modern and high-tech, suitable for today’s era. I may not be a fan of Sci-Fi, but this definitely got my attention.

Dak and Sera are best friends. While Dak has a love for history, Sera, on the other hand, loves science. Despite the difference in their passions, it cannot be overlooked that science and history complement one another. Moreover, both Dak and Sera amaze me with their brilliance of their respective interest fields. They have shown great enthusiasm and determination to learn more about them. And there’s Riq, a Hystorian. He is said to have learned several languages, but I have yet to see what he’s capable of.

I just love the twist of the story which makes it unique and motivating. In this book, history is altered and it’s up to Dak, Sera, and Riq to correct the Great Breaks in order to remove the Remnants and prevent the world from Cataclysm. I’m sure there are some terms such as Great Breaks, Remnants, and Cataclysm that confuse you, but these will be explained in the book for deeper understanding of the situation. I won’t delve into these to avoid any spoilers, but to give you a teeny hint, this book focuses on the voyage of Christopher Columbus.

Overall, I must say, this is a fun and enjoyable read. I wonder what would eventually happen to Dak and Sera’s future (in their case, their present time) if they successfully correct all the Breaks. Will something happen that will greatly affect their lives? Surely, the idea of time traveling is a bit far-fetched and I don’t think it suits in real life. Either way, I’m looking forward to the second book. What will be in store for us?


The 39 Clues: Cahills VS Vespers, Book Four: Shatterproof by Roland Smith

The wait is over! Now we move on to more adventures of Dan and Amy Cahill. Here’s the summary from the back cover of the book:

An outrageous crime…

Thirteen-year-old Dan Cahill and his older sister, Amy, have committed a string of thefts that lands them on Interpol’s Most Wanted list. But the crimes are not Amy and Dan’s fault. A shadowy organization known as the Vespers has kidnapped seven members of the Cahill family. If Amy and Dan don’t deliver a series of bizarre ransoms, it’s lights out for the hostages.

Until now, Amy and Dan have stayed one step ahead of the police and managed to keep their family safe. But all that’s about to change. Vesper One commands them to steal the Golden Jubilee, one of the world’s largest diamonds. What Amy and Dan don’t know is that the Jubilee is a setup…and someone is going to die.

I can certainly say that the series is getting more interesting and suspenseful. I’m actually glad that Dan and Amy aren’t the only ones to go through these things, as they have Jake and Atticus to help them. As usual, the book contains informative details and descriptive narration of the settings. Readers can vividly imagine the place where the characters are at and they also get a glimpse of some of the characters’ deeper personalities.

Speaking of the Rosenblooms, I wish Amy would end up with Jake rather than with Evan. Although Evan has been very helpful throughout the challenges Vesper One has given to Dan and Amy, I think Amy has a connection with Jake more than with Evan. On the other hand, I don’t want Amy to end things badly with Evan as well. I guess I’ll just have to find out who Amy will end up with when the series is finished.

Moving on to Dan and Atticus, I have slowly taken a liking to their bond and friendship with each other. Their exchange of conversations is at times humorous and witty. I actually find myself giggling and laughing as I read some of the passages. I’m pretty sure they’ll be fun to be with, if there happen to be a Dan and Atticus in real life. Anyway, despite what they’re going through, you slowly see how they’ve changed and grew to become more mature and independent. But this does not hinder them from acting like their ages again, being just childish and naïve.

Overall, the book definitely has a lot to offer. It certainly does not disappoint me. With all that’s been happening, now I don’t know who to trust. Most of the characters seem to become more suspicious than ever. Confusion starts to arise, questioning the loyalty of each individual to his original party. Is Ian a Vesper? Who’s really the mole in the Cahill family? I hope the next book will give more light to my never-ending questions.


The First Time I Saw Your Face by Hazel Osmond

So, since Who’s Afraid of Mr. Wolfe? did not fail to amaze me, I immediately pre-ordered a copy of Hazel Osmond’s second new book, The First Time I Saw Your Face, when I found out its nearing release date. I was very much excited on the day when my copy arrived at my doorstep. Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

Jennifer had it all. But a terrible accident has taken almost everything.

Moving back home, her future isn’t looking too bright. Until she meets Mack.

Sexy, dishevelled and just a little clumsy, he starts to make her believe that she can move on from the past and embrace life all over again. But he has a secret he’d do anything to protect and he’ll have to betray her to keep it…

As you can see, the book cover for this one is different from Who’s Afraid of Mr. Wolfe?. I’m not exactly fond of book covers using pictures of real people, but in this case, it does justice to the plotline of the book. Readers will be able to connect the story to the message the picture tries to project. Moreover, the colors used contrast one another which makes the cover look more attractive.

Moving on to the story, The First Time I Saw Your Face actually presents a story we are all familiar about in the life of a Hollywood star. Mack Stone utilizes a fake identity in a small town called Northumberland to get a scoop on Cressida, a very popular actress, through her cousin, Jennifer. This is basically a big deal in the world of journalism and in return, they provide the readers an update on the lives of famous actors and actresses.

To give you a small background of the story, Mack Stone used to be part of this dirty job, but years after he quitted, he’s recruited once again by O’Dowd through blackmail. Blackmail is something that people can’t easily get away from. Rather than freely choosing choices, one ends up being manipulated by the other party. That’s exactly what happened to Mack and so, he heads for Northumberland to finish what he is tasked to do.

There, he meets Jennifer, a vulnerable woman who’s just stuck in her past. The story behind Jen’s scarred face smoothly unfolds and I like how the story is revealed, not just through a simple narration from the author. As the story progresses, we learn that Mack is at war with himself. He may be judged, but I like how he is able to boost Jen’s self-esteem and confidence again. He later on starts to notice other beautiful things about her rather than dwelling too much on her scarred face. As for the rest of the story, well, it’s for you to find out.

Furthermore, I can’t help but talk about the setting of the story. Despite it being just a small town, Northumberland surely gives readers an idea on what it feels like to live there. Full of greeneries and its serene environment, it reminds me of the time when my family and I went on a trip to Australia and New Zealand. It’s really a perfect place to relax and appreciate the nature, without it ever being disturbed by pollution and other city-related things. And the beach, the way Hazel Osmond describes it is just breathtaking. Plus, she also succeeds in portraying the personalities and livelihood of the people in the community which adds up more to the place’s atmosphere.

This is quite a different story. We get a glimpse of an actor/actress’s life behind the screen or rumors and somehow we feel empathy towards them. And most importantly, the realization of an inevitable fact of life that looks or physical appearances still matter to most of us as they always contribute to our first impression on someone. I’m glad that Hazel Osmond is realistic in her story while she still gives light and hope in these situations that seems to have no way out. I’m also quite surprised by some revelations of the story which spice the book up to make it more interesting and perhaps, scandalous, to read.

The First Time I Saw Your Face is an adult contemporary romance that favors the old-fashioned kind of love and let readers root for the main characters to a happy ending. I couldn’t put the book down. In fact, I have to resist the urge to spoil myself. Hazel Osmond truly knows how to touch my heart through her perfectly-written and structured words. If you guys love Who’s Afraid of Mr. Wolfe?, then without a doubt, you’d enjoy this, too.


Project: Fairy Tale Sign Up Post

(Banner created and designed by Alisa over at Picture Me Reading)

When Alison from The Cheap Reader announced on Twitter that she’ll be hosting a project on fairy tales, well, since then, I anticipated the day she’ll post the details about it. The day came and I couldn’t seem to contain my excitement! I didn’t hesitate to join immediately. Details about the project can be found here.

Fairy tales have basically become a part of us already – from the original versions, childhood stories, modern and classic retellings, to TV series, animations, and film adaptations. They somehow grow with us and can continuously go on for as long as time will allow them to. To be honest, I’m not very much familiar with most fairy tale retellings as I grew up only watching several Disney fairy tale movies. Years after, though, I began reading Fables (Vertigo) graphic novels by Bill Willingham and watched the recent Once Upon A Time TV series. But when I started blogging, it was only then that I read a few other fairy tale retellings.

I chose Beauty and the Beast as my fairy tale. Beauty by Robin McKinley has been on my to-buy and to-be-read lists for weeks now – all the more reason to join the project. Factoring in the availability in the market, here are the three books I’ve chosen to review for Project: Fairy Tale:

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

Belle: A Retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” by Cameron Dokey

Before I post the book reviews, I plan to post an introduction first, comparing the original version of Beauty and the Beast to the Disney film version, since that’s the only fairy tale retelling movie I’ve watched. Plus, I haven’t read the original version of Beauty and the Beast yet. In fact, I haven’t familiarized myself with several original fairy tales.

If you guys happen to think of a good book title, feel free to comment and suggest. I’m really looking forward to this project. This will certainly provide an avenue to broaden my knowledge on fairy tales.