The Year We Became Invincible

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I met Mae Coyiuto sometime last year to discuss a project, and we’ve been corresponding on that for some months now when she asked if I would be interested in reviewing  her upcoming YA novella. I knew she has been writing since she was very young, but I’ve never actually read any of her work so I told her to go ahead and send me the manuscript.

Set for release later this month (under Anvil Publishing), “The Year We Became Invincible” is about high school senior Camille Li, whose life is planned out to the last detail. She’s a ballerina who plans to major in chemistry, and go on to med school to become a doctor like her dad. But when Camille meets Ian, a “smart ass slacker” and his group of adventure-loving friends, she finds herself doing things she never would have dared to do before, and she starts to reconsider what she wants to do with her life.

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What I Saw and How I Lied

I’ve always wanted to read Judy Blundell’s What I Saw and How I Lied, not just because it won the (US) National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2008, but also because I was familiar with the author’s work.

Writing as Jude Watson, she penned Beyond the Grave (#4), In Too Deep (#6), and part of Vespers Rising (#11). I always appreciated how she brought out a more personal side to Dan and Amy — and even the baddies! — and I was eager to read her most notable work.

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No food, no water, no signal, and no… eyeliner?!?

(first published in Manila Bulletin, Students and Campuses section)

The stage is set for the Forty-first Annual Miss Teen Dream Pageant. Fifty Teen Dreamers board the plane to Paradise Cove to film some fun-in-the-sun pieces and rehearse their performance numbers for the pageant. But the beauty queens never get to their destination, as the plane crashes, and the survivors find themselves marooned on a desert island — no food, no water, no signal, and no eyeliner.

Thus begins Scholastic Press’ Beauty Queens by NY Times bestselling author Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing, and Going Bovine). Beauty Queens is a young adult novel that has the spirit of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies fused with Sandra Bullock’s Ms. Congeniality movies, or more accurately, that of the iconic 80’s Pinoy film, Temptation Island.

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Banana Heart Summer

For those who love to love and eat
For those who long to love and eat

I fell in love with the book Banana Heart Summer by Merlinda Bobis as soon as I read the title of the first chapter of the book (quoted above). Those words, strung together, told me I was going to like the novel —  I’ve always subscribed to the idea of a correlation between loving and enjoying food.

Banana Heart Summer is a Filipino novel published locally by Anvil Publishing (internationally by Delta), which tells of a summer in  Bicol (right at the foot of the Mayon volcano) in 1960. Twelve-year old Nenita,inspired by the myth of the banana heart (Close to midnight, whent the heart bows from its stem, wait for its first dew. It will drop like a gem. Catch it with your tongue. When you eat the heart of the matter, you’ll never grow hungry again), leaves home to become a helper in the house next door so she can earn her mother’s love and put food on her hungry family’s table.

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Hearing Voices

I like good, strong voices in fiction. I like characters that ring true, make a distinct impression, and keep me engaged in the story.

In the past week, I read The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides and The Lacemaker and the Princess by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley. These two novels each offered a unique point of view: one from the outside looking in, and the other from inside looking out.

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