Store in a cool, dry place

Several weeks ago, I spotted the book Shelf Life by Rosie Walford with Paula Benson and Paul West (book #76 for 2009) at Book Sale but it was priced P170 (around $3.50) so as amusing as it appeared to be, I decided to pass. Whenever I’m in Book Sale and a book I like is too expensive (i.e. over P100, that’s around $2) and I don’t think I’ll lose sleep if I don’t buy it right away, I usually pass because I’m always hopeful that a cheaper copy will turn up sooner or later.

This Sunday, I found a copy of Shelf Life at another Book Sale branch and it was only P90 (under $2), so I decided the book belonged on my book shelf.

Shelf Life, subtitled “A celebration of the world’s quirkiest brands,” is a pictorial collection of local products from all over the world that have funny and peculiar (often suggestive) brand names.

I’ll let some photos from the book do the talking, just pardon the whacked-out angles as my scanner is currently out of commission.

Dutch brown sugar

I wonder exactly how inviting this one is?

sounds ominous…

Maybe it talks?

It must have some special properties!

And here are a couple of brands that are available here in the Philippines:

I’ve always been queasy at the thought of ingesting this.

One of my favorite childhood snacks!

The book is a lot of fun to leaf through, and I was in stitches the whole time!

My copy: hardcover

My rating: 4/5 stars

A narf, a seamstress, and the orchestra (Picture book roundup #5)

It’s been a while since my last picture book roundup, mainly because I haven’t had the time to put some protective plastic cover on my new picture book acquisitions (and you know I can’t read a “naked” book). 

I got three picture books that came already encased in plastic, so here they are in today’s roundup: Lady in the Water: A bedtime story by M. Night Shyamalan (illustrated by Crash McCreery), Lucy Dove by Janice Del Negro (illustrated by Leonid Gore), and Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss (illustrated by Marjorie Priceman), books 73-75 for 2009.

Lady in the Water is based on the film of the same title. Having watched that documentary about M. Night Shyamalan on cable that turned out to be a hoax (a guerilla tactic for the pre-publicity of The Village), I still get the creeps reading this book, which, in a cautionary tone, tells the reader about the narf, the “lady in the water,” a rare type of sea nymph that could be living right in your backyard.

The narrator enumerates the signs that point to a narf: sprinklers going off by mistake, slime in the swimming pool, pinpricks in the chest, and the narf looks for a person that can be used as a vessel so that she can return to the ocean.

But there is something else that could be in your backyard, the hyena-like scrunt that hunts for the narf as prey. The scrunt is also afraid of Tartutic, three monkey-like creatures that lie in wait for the scrunt to make a wrong move.
Continue reading “A narf, a seamstress, and the orchestra (Picture book roundup #5)”

The Great Book Blockade of 2009

When my book club friends and I came back from our trip to the Mountain Province, one of the first things that caught our attention was the issue now known as The Great Book Blockade of 2009, brought to public attention by Robin Hemley.

tsk tsk tsk… Bad news for Pinoy Book Lovers

Continue reading “The Great Book Blockade of 2009”

Doggone it!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not a fan of talking animals.

I love animals (I have a pure white shorthair cat named Missy, and a shih tzu- maltese mix named Macky), but in books, they’re usually one of three things: a) sickeningly cutesy, b) wise and all-knowing, or c) sarcastic and wisecracking.

The persona in Peter Mayle’s A Dog’s Life (book #72 for 2009) belongs to that third category, unfortunately.

Now I’m a big fan of Peter Mayle, but this is probably my least favorite book of his, not that it isn’t well written (he’s one of the best contemporary writers I’ve read), but because I just couldn’t get myself to buy the fact that it was a dog talking to me.

A Dog’s Life is about Boy, the Mayles’ dog, and how he goes from unwanted puppy to abused servant to thieving stray, and finally as a member of the Mayles’ Provencal household. In all fairness, the idea of a dog narrator is quite original, and Boy is very eloquent (with an astoundingly sophisticated vocabulary!), but I got the feeling that he talked too much.

Boy was going on and on and on about well, dog stuff — going after the mailman, getting a girlfriend, jumping on the bed, knocking down a glass of wine, chasing cats, chewing shoes, and all other things dogs do — and some of it is amusing, but it gets tiring after awhile. I mean, just how long can a person stand reading about the excruciating details of a dog’s life?
I love dogs, but this book still fails to sustain the interest for me.

My copy: trade paperback, local mooch

My rating: 2/5 stars


By the way, this was the only book I finished during the trip I took up to the mountains (Sagada, Mountain Province and Bontoc, Mountain Province) with some book club friends.

Caught reading on the bus

I brought along four other books but between the long hours of travel (mostly on zigzagging roads), the seven-hour spelunking and the various other treks we made, I didn’t even make a dent in them. But it was a great trip, and my reading ratio can afford to slack off a bit. Here are some photos, just so you know what I’ve been up to:

Squeezing through
in front of a mushroom-shaped rock

on top of a frog-shaped rock

by the waterfalls

what locals refer to as taplod (top load)
giant bamboo

the rice terraces

More photos here:

I’m off on an islandhopping trip next week, hopefully I can get some reading done then.

Family Ties

Have you ever wished you were born to a different family?

The thought is something most of us have probably entertained while growing up, especially during the not so few times our family drives us up the wall. But no matter what we do, family will always be family, and there’s not very much we can do about it.

This is the theme behind Get Real by Betty Hicks (book #71 of 2009), a young adult novel that explores the concept of family.

The neat freak Dez feels ill at ease with her eccentric, messy and geeky family, while her best friend Jil feels constricted by her affluent, cultured and picture-perfect parents, and both would have loved nothing more than to switch places. Jil, an adopted child, and grabs at the opportunity to meet her birth mom and sister, and Dez cannot understand why Jil is so eager to trade in her perfect life.

I actually just mooched this book from a local moocher and it was one of those filler mooches that I made to help the owner economize on shipping (2-mooch minimum).

While there was nothing really outstanding about the book, it wasn’t half bad, I was actually amused at Dez’s bewilderment towards her Rennaissance poetry-quoting dad, muumuu-loving scientist mom, and disaster-prone younger brother. I think this is something everyone goes through, that moment of incredulity when you actually wonder if you come from the same set of genes as the rest of your family.

I like how it tackles family issues realistically, and how it is a fresh and healthy voice in contemporary young adult literature, which I’m afraid right now is oversaturated with skanky novels and empty special effects.

Plus points go to the cover design also, its seventeen-style treatment is very appealing to the age group for which the book is intended.

my copy: hardcover with dustjacket, local mooch

my rating: 3/5 stars