#Cybils reads: Oyster War


imageBlood’s Haven, Maryland, post-Civil War. The oyster trade makes for booming business, and watermen all across Chesapeake Bay are keen on cashing in on this lucrative business. Regulations have been drawn with regards to oyster harvests, but oyster pirates, a small but vicious group led by the nefarious Treacher Fink, have not only been harvesting oysters without a license; they’ve also been using destructive oyster dredges that would render the bay barren within a few years.

To curtail the pirates’ activity, the governor and town mayor establish an Oyster Army (with Commander Davidson Bulloch and his motley crew aboard the Layla) to deal with the pirates once and for all.

From the time the Cybils finalists were announced, I was immediately drawn to Ben Towles’ “Oyster War” because of its cover art – it seemed to promise a great maritime adventure, and I must say it did not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic novel.

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Julius Chancer

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A couple of years ago, I discovered Julius Chancer completely by chance at the Manila International Book Fair at a publisher’s rep booth, and being a Tintin fan, I was instantly attracted to the cover art. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was an omnibus of “The Rainbow Orchid” adventure, and I knew I wouldn’t find it in the bookstores — I felt it was too good to pass up. I inquired about the book and they told me it wasn’t for sale, and I wheedled and wheedled until they finally agreed to sell it to me (It wasn’t cheap. Haha). I’d been meaning to read it, but with all the moving around my books have been doing in the past couple of years, it got lost in the stacks and only resurfaced as I was packing some books for storage after last year’s monsoon.

Written and illustrated by Garen Ewing and published by Egmont (incidentally, also the publisher of Tintin), The Complete Rainbow Orchid won the Young People’s Comic Award at the 2013 British Comic Awards.

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Back to the Underland

Last month, I blogged about how much I loved Suzanne CollinsUnderland Chronicles after I read the first three books right before Mockingjay was released. I must confess the series took me by surprise; way before I discovered the Hunger Games series, I’d been seeing the Underland Chronicles in the bookstores and never really thought of picking them up. Then I managed to forage two books out of the bargain bins, and when I finally decided to read them, I found them utterly engrossing!

I read straight on from books 1-3: Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, and Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods. I had trouble finding copies of the next books in the series, Gregor and the Marks of Secret and Gregor and the Code of the Claw so I momentarily had to stop reading the series, but some wonderful friends at Scholastic (yay, thanks Ms. Joyce and Ms. Roselle!) gifted me with books 4 and 5, and as soon as the craziness of the past couple of weeks subsided, I happily dug into the remainder of the Underland Chronicles.

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Suzanne Collins Marathon


Still counting down to Mockingjay!

In an attempt to slake my excitement over Mockingjay, I brought out all the Suzanne Collins books in my possession (and bought one more) and have been reading voraciously for the past five days. I started with Gregor the Overlander, the first book of the Underland Chronicles last Friday, but I didn’t have book 2  yet so I decided to reread Hunger Games and Catching Fire on Saturday. By Sunday, I was already reaching for the copy of Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane that I’d bought the day before. And then I started reading Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods yesterday, and now I’m out of the Underland Chronicles, so the marathon’s on hold (at least until I can find myself copies of Gregor and the Marks of Secret and Gregor and the Code of the Claw).

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The Blood Stone


I spotted Jamila Gavin’s The Blood Stone in a bargain bin some months back; the squarish shape of the book caught my eye. Then I read the back of the book and I was even more intrigued — it promised “a dazzling whirlwind of a journey, over seas and across the desert, into the very heart of danger,” and the clincher — it starts out in Venice, one of my all-time favorite settings for a novel (yes, I judge the book by the setting)! At P40 (less than $1), I couldn’t pass.

I went on a daytrip out of town for work, and the first book I grabbed off the shelf happened to be this one, and I ended up finishing the novel even before I made it back to the city.

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