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ATD Festival of Learning

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I’ve volunteered for ATD (All Together in Dignity) Fourth World Philippines before, but last Saturday was my first time to join their annual Festival of Learning, together with my Flipper friends Sana (a long-time ATD volunteer) and Joko (who volunteers regularly for the annual festival).

It was a bright Saturday afternoon when we gathered at the North Cemetery, one of ATD’s communities in the Philippines. I had written a piece on this particular community for one of ATD’s reports last year, and I had read through a lot of documents and watched some video footage to write it, but I’d never actually set foot in the place before, and it was quite a moving experience to fill in my mental image of the area with the faces of the people from the community.

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Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros

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Ever since it was announced on Matthew Reinhart’s Facebook page, “Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros” has been an exercise in EQ (of the “Shut up and take my money!” sort), so when I finally saw it today at the bookstore, I was powerless to resist.

Paper engineered by Matthew Reinhart, with illustrations by Michael Komark, this deluxe pop-up book is an incredible volume that  takes the reader through Westeros and beyond, featuring five spreads of key locations in the series and over thirty smaller pop-ups, folding out into a 46″x30″ map of the kingdom.

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Becca Fitzpatrick in Manila

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Last Saturday, I had the chance to interview New York Times bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick, who had book signing events at National Book Store Glorietta 1 and Ayala Center Cebu over the weekend.

Becca Fitzpatrick is famous for her “Hush, Hush” saga, comprised of the novels “Hush, Hush,” “Crescendo,” “Silence” and “Finale.” The young adult paranormal romance saga is centered around Nora Grey, who is drawn to the mysterious Patch, a fallen angel whose fate is intertwined with hers. I  read “Hush, Hush” in time for the interview, and the genre  — plus the fallen angels theme — isn’t my cup of tea. As YA paranormal characters go, Nora wasn’t really a standout for me and beyond the mysterious, brooding image, Patch doesn’t strike me as a particularly likeable character. I did appreciate the mythology — part of the puzzle has been revealed in the first book, and while the poses more questions than the answers it gives, I felt that it had let out enough rope on the anchor for the next books. I was actually apprehensive about reading the book because I’ve heard and read a lot of criticism on the series, and while I can’t judge the whole series on the basis of one book, I thought that it wasn’t half bad, and for a debut novel, the prose was clean and a lot more readable compared to its contemporaries in the popular genre.

What I was more excited about, actually, was Becca Fitzpatrick’s upcoming standalone novel, “Black Ice,” set for release in October. It’s a YA thriller about Britt Pfeiffer, who is geared up to backpack across the Teton mountains of Wyoming with her best friend, but ends up abducted by two fugitives who force her into guiding them off the mountain in exchange for their life. One of the fugitives, Mason, confuses Britt with his kindness, but as Britt uncovers evidence of serial murders across their trail, Britt isn’t sure who she can trust. As luck would have it, Becca had brought over a delightful surprise for those of us who had attended the bloggers’ forum prior to her signing: ARCs of “Black Ice,” which prompted squees (!) all around.

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Flowers for Algernon

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“Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes has been in my to-be-read pile for some time now, and it came so highly recommended by my book club friends Peter and Orly, so I decided to bump it up last January.

Originally a Hugo award-winning short story written in 1958, “Flowers for Algernon” was expanded into a full length novel, which subsequently won the Nebula award in 1966. The story is told from the point of view of Charlie Gordon, a mentally-challenged man who becomes the subject of a study, causing his IQ to dramatically increase after he undergoes brain surgery.

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Books for Bedtime

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We have a new kitten in the house and she’s been driving us crazy with her late night activity, when her energy peaks after snoozing away most of the day. I’ve been staying up with her until she tires herself out and goes to sleep, because otherwise she cries all night (and goes wandering, magically apparating outside of her locked cage), and then we ALL don’t get any sleep.

Two books have been keeping me company while trying to put Molly (as in Molly Hooper :D) to sleep: Margaret Wise Brown’s “Goodnight Songs” featuring various award-winning picture book illustrators, and Tahanan Book’s “Antukin: Philippine Folk Songs and Lullabies” selected by Felicidad A. Prudente, Ph.D. with illustrations by Joanne de Leon.

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