Numbers, The Chaos, and Rachel Ward

I read Numbers last year and was highly intrigued about the sequel, The Chaos, the second book in the Numbers trilogy. Being invited to join the live chat with author Rachel Ward at the Manila International Book Fair presented a golden opportunity to read the book, so I set out to finish it in time for the event.

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To Lola, with love

I’ve been away for a spell as the whole family flew to Bacolod to pay our last respects to my paternal grandmother, Lola Binyang, who passed away last week.

I was too young to remember the death of my paternal grandfather or my maternal grandmother, so losing both remaining grandparents in under two years is painful. Growing up with grandparents make you feel they’ll last forever (because to you they’ve always been old), and no matter how old you get, they still make you feel like a kid again, so losing a grandparent is a bit like a death toll on your own mortality.

Lola always spent part of the year with us when I was younger and she was still mobile. I remember endless summer afternoons playing cards on the bed with her — she was quite the cardshark — paris-paris (“pairs” in Ilonggo), blackjack, and even solitaire, as she’d leave a pack of cards behind to tide me over until she returned to our house the following year.

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Saying Goodbye

There’s been a lull in my blogging in the last couple of weeks, as my maternal grandfather, Lolo Jaime (lolo is grandfather in Filipino), had a massive stroke, and finally passed away last Sunday, at the age of 89.

This is the first death of a grandparent that I’ve experienced (my paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother died when I was too young to understand), and there is something about my Lolo’s passing that makes me feel as if I’ve lost a part of my childhood.

Even though I saw my Lolo only once or twice a year (he lives in my parents’ provincial hometown in Isabela, Negros Occidental, a plane ride and two-hour drive away), we talked frequently on the phone, and I had a special bond with him — I inherited his artistic inclinations, and he was my biggest fan.

I had a feeling his time was drawing near when we got the news that he got a stroke two weeks ago, and I was preparing a special picture book roundup for him, except that death got to him first, and for the past few days I couldn’t bring myself to write this piece without breaking down.

But he would have wanted me to keep on writing — he loved my writing as much as my art — so in honor of my Lolo, I’m doing the year’s first picture book roundup, featuring the books Brown Paper Bear by Neil Reed; Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman, illus. by Stephen Gammel; and You’re Only Old Once by Dr. Seuss.

(Will resume working off the 2009 backlog after this post.)

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Christmas Picture Books (The Flash Review Roundup)


It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas!

I’ve been having trouble updating my blog because of the sheer busy-ness of the season, with Christmas parties left and right, endless shopping and giftwrapping, and I’ve been attending the dawn masses (at 4:30 am) at church as well (today was the last one!).

I’ve been poring through some Christmassy picture books for the holidays, (i didn’t realize I had so many on my shelves!)¬† so here’s another picture book roundup, flash review style.

(Oh, and this doesn’t include How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which I already reviewed a few months back).

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A shiver through the spine (The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold)


I’d been avoiding reading The Lovely Bones because for a while everyone seemed to be reading it, and it wasn’t really¬†my type of book. I don’t like dramatic fiction, especially domestic dramas. I find them very stressful to read, sometimes even traumatic, like a A Heart of Stone. Sometimes, it’s just nothing spectacular for me, like The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.

The trade paperback I mooched had been languishing in my TBR for over a year already, and I dreaded reading it, but it was taunting me (yes, it all happens in my mind) so I decided it was time to conquer this book.

It surprised me, actually, because as much as I was prepared not to like it, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, which goes to show how going out of your comfort zone once in a while can be rewarding.

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