Regarding the…

I’d seen the “Regarding the…” series books at the bargain bookstore for some time, but I kept passing up on them until my cousin Dianne (a.k.a. book addiction enabler) raved about them… And then they became harder to find, proving my bargain bookstore theory yet again: the probability of finding a particular book in a bargain bookstore is inversely proportional to the urgency of your need for it.

Anyway, I lucked out and managed to find two: Regarding the Fountain and Regarding the Bathrooms by Kate Klise, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise. These were among the first books I read this year, but I lent them to someone and only got them back a few weeks ago.

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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I’ve been meaning to read the classic Dracula ever since I read (and reread) The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. With all the vampire fiction that’s been coming out recently, I realized I really abhor the glamorized vampire and prefer the good, old-fashioned Dracula, and so I grabbed the chance when I spotted the Viking Studio illustrated edition featuring comic book artist Jae Lee at last year’s Cut-Price Sale at National Bookstore, for about P200, along with a copy of Jane Eyre from the same line, also P200.

I knew I read Dracula when I was in 6th grade but it must have been abridged, or maybe I covered my eyes over the scary parts (Rich Hall has a sniglet for it — “snargle” — to lessen the visual impact of a horror movie [in this case, a book] by filtering it through one’s fingers) because I don’t remember much of it.

Anyway, I had to read Dracula because I need to read the book “Mina” by Marie Kiraly, a Dracula spin-off assigned to me by another Flipper for the Flips Flipping Pages Diversity Challenge this year. I also have some more Dracula-themed books in my TBR that I’d like to read so I figured I needed to read the original for comparison.

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The Venetian’s Wife

venetianPardon the sporadic posts. I’m still not feeling quite up to scratch but I know need to whack away at the growing pile of books I have to review or else I’ll never catch up.

I’ve always been in awe of Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine series, and I’ve wanted to read Nick Bantock’s The Venetian’s Wife (book #105 for 2009) for some time now, just to see how he fares outside of Griffin and Sabine.

The Venetian’s Wife, subtitled “A Strangely Sensual Tale of a Renaissance Explorer, a Computer, and a Metamorphosis,” is another epistolary tale from Nick Bantock, tracing the email correspondence between a museum researcher, Sara Wolfe, and N. Conti, a centuries-old ghost trapped within the confines of modern technology. Conti hires Sara to track down the pieces of a peculiar art collection, and Sara discovers more of herself — and her destiny — in the process.

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The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova


A young girl exploring her father’s library chances upon an ancient book and a collection of aged letters containing secrets that connect her family’s past to Vlad the Impaler, the Prince of Wallachia, on whom the legend of Dracula is based.
Except that it turns out that it’s not just a legend…

The Historian is one of the best thrillers I have ever read. 816 pages might seem long for a novel, but I thoroughly enjoyed its wordiness as I sank my teeth into this hair-raising adventure.

The narrative is told in alternating chapters from three different timelines: the narrator, the narrator’s father (Paul), and Paul’s adviser Professor Rossi. It is interesting to note that they are, at different points of their lives, on the same quest — the quest to find Dracula and vanquish his evil.

It is an exciting chase throughout the Eastern bloc, rich Eastern European history, and a lot of sleepless nights for the reader.

I don’t know what interrupted my reading more — endless things to do at work, or the fact that I couldn’t stay up alone at night reading it because it gave me the creeps.

On my first reading, I was at Starbucks, sipping my latte and reading, sitting on the counter against the glass wall of the store. Suddenly a rap comes through the window and I nearly jump out of my skin in fright… It turned out it was my thesis adviser — hehe, Sir Brion lang pala, phew! — but man, I was terrified!

When I first got The Historian, I was really looking for a good historical thriller and I seriously thought I’d be sorely disappointed, after having read The Rule of Four, The Secret Supper, and The Dante Club in succession. With all the historical thrillers out, I was really cautious of buying another one because it might turn out to be a dud. I’m glad I was wrong. The Historian was definitely a satisfying read.

The second time I read it was in September, when a bunch of The Historian fans from Flips Flipping Pages decided to get together to discuss the book and eventually turned it into an official discussion. I thought rereading it wouldn’t be as scary, but I spoke too soon, as I was home alone and couldn’t sleep without the light on! I kept seeing Vlad Tepes’ face every time I closed my eyes that week…

The Historian isn’t for everyone — some balk at length, some (*cough Twilight fans cough*) prefer four volumes of sap disguised as vampire novels, and some just plain don’t like it — but for those into historical thrillers, I’d say it’s a must read!

***
My copy: originally a mass market paperback, upgraded into a trade paperback, upgraded into a hardcover with a missing dust jacket, and now (permanently) a hardcover with a dust jacket!

My rating: 5/5 stars!

book photo courtesy: http://frontier.cincinnati.com/blogs/litchick/uploaded_images/historian-799672.jpg

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