Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Green Lantern: Rebirth

The really good thing about having a comic book collector for a colleague is that I get to enjoy them without having to shell out a single centavo. And I avoid the long wait between issues too. :)

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going through the event, Blackest Night. Yesterday, I sat through the whole limited series that was Green Lantern: Rebirth To be honest, before the Blackest Night, I had the faintest idea of who the Green Lantern was. I'm not a big fan of superheroes, see. But the whole philosophy behind the Corps and all that, now I found those fascinating. It's interesting to look into all those constructs and see how the themes are repeated in other epic stories.

So Rebirth, owing to the fact that it included a recap of who Hal Jordan was, and how he had become different and then how he sacrificed himself for greater good, gave me a better idea of who the Green Lantern was before Parallax, and The Spectre. 

I had expected to see a glimpse of what relationship Hal Jordan had with The Flash before Blackest Night but this was not evident in Rebirth. Instead, what shone through was the conflict between Green Lantern and Batman. More important though, was the bond between the Green Lanterns, specifically Guy Gardner and John Stewart. Kyle Rayner played the vital role of unearthing the truth, and bringing Hal's body back to Earth.

To my opinion, Rebirth was not so much as the story of Hal Jordan's escape from the clutches of death. It is, just as the name implies, the rebirth of a legend. This is DC Comics' finest attempt at restoring Hal Jordan's old glory. I can see how this would have been a hit for old GL fans, especially when you consider how Batman was so unforgiving.

In brightest day, in blackest night . No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Goodnight Nobody - Jennifer Weiner

I love Jennifer Weiner's books. Her main characters (those I've read so far) are big full girls. Maybe not as big and fat like myself, but still big. :)

Apart from that tidbit, I just really like the stories. A favorite is Little Earthquakes, the book that my dog chewed on back when he still didn't know better.  Saying this,  reminds me that I should actually get another copy is I come across one in the second-hand bookshop.

I'd been meaning to read Goodnight Nobody for quite awhile. The first copy I bought though, went unread as it got drowned by the big flood. Now, I've got two copies because when I bought the third copy, I wasn't sure I already had it. That's not such a bad thing though. If you're interested in my other copy (still in very good condition), and you're in the Philippines, let me know and I'll send it to you for 150 pesos, inclusive of shipping. :)

Kate Klein was a mother of three toddlers, stays at home, and lives in a picture-perfect community in Connecticut. That is, until a super mom was killed in her home. Her discovery of the body starts her off on her own investigation. It awakens her sleeping senses, and gives her purpose.

Goodnight Nobody, the title, comes from a bedtime story that Kate reads to her daughter. As she reads it, she begins to realize that she seems to have become a nobody; she lost her identity because who she is now seems to be defined by her kids, her husband, and the community she's been having trouble fitting into.

As she snoops around to find the killer, she also struggles with her emotions - her feelings about motherhood, her husband, her mom, and an old flame. There's also that back story about Kate not being too confident about herself, and how her friend Janie helps her through those moments all the time. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

For One More Day

Mitch Albom has a number of best-selling works, known to provoke introspection, and give inspiration. For One More Day is one of those.

I read the book in 2007, a looooong time ago. There's a movie adaptation and it's currently being shown in the Hallmark Channel. I'm afraid I've missed parts of the movie because I keep nodding off. Not because the movie is boring, but because it's late, and I'm just generally sleepy at this time of day. Haha. :)

I thought I'd go ahead and re-post my thoughts from the time I read the book:

"When someone is in your heart, they're never truly gone. They can come back to you, even at unlikely times."

I find this true. And I believe this to be true. I believe that Chick Benetto did spend one more day with his mom. One day to answer all his questions (without him even asking), one day to give him clarity - to show him where he should go.

I've never gone through anything similar, but we were witness to my grandmother going through it. Oh, she was very much alive then, but she was seeing spirits who were waiting to take her to the next life.

It gives me comfort to know that in the end, Lola was not alone in her journey to her God. And it was even more comforting that she may not have had to go with the angel of death, like Nicolas Cage was in City of Angels, but with family and friends who have gone before her. Her kindred. It comforts me, I admit, to believe that when my time comes, she will be there guiding me through too.

I don't know what the author meant by writing Chick's story. Is it, as many think, to remind us not to waste our time? Was it to teach kids to appreciate and get to know their parents' stories? Yeah, I get all that, but what was more striking to me is this: the heartstrings that transcend life and death.

I'd like to believe that I'm the kind of person who would not wish to spend one more day with anyone, because I give of myself so freely to the people that I love, while I can. A lesson I learned when we lost my Aunt. I am not wishing for the impossible, for her to come back to life just so we can show her how much we love her. But I am looking forward to that one more day with her because I know it will come. She'll be there with my grandma when my time comes.

"You need to keep people close. You need to give them access to your heart."

I guess this is what's most important. After all, no man is an island.

(reposted from my Vox blog:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Best of Friends - Cathy Kelly

One of my favorite authors is Maeve Binchy, she's Irish and she writes about women and the many ways we can be empowered. Her stories have so many lessons on friendship, faly, and community. I think I've found another Irish author to watch out for: Cathy Kelly.

Best of Friends is a gem of a book. I love it. :)

It's about three women who have learned so much from their friend who died quite suddenly. They weren't all that good friends in the beginning, but because of their common loss, and by virtue of them living in the same quaint community, they came together and honored their friend. They each went through "moments" and it was wonderful that they had each other to pull strength from.

One good lesson I picked up from their stories is that we should never take for granted the happiness that we have today. We have the tendency to overlook what we have, and wonder how it would be if things would be a little different. Then, when everything's taken from us, or things change but not in the direction we would have preferred it to, we'd be at such a loss.

It isn't wrong to wish you had it better. There's no fault in wishing that your guy or husband paid more attention to you. Most of the time you're perfectly well within your rights to demand attention. But there's a way to communicate all of it effectively. Going out and having a meaningless affair isn't going to get you what you need. :)

Abby Barton is my favorite character of the lot. She was a housewife who built a small business. She got attention for it, and a TV show was setup for her and what she does. She built a new career and a new life for her family at the prime of her life. There was a downside, as there always seems to be, but it wasn't all her fault like she was willing to admit. Her daughter had issues of her own, so did her husband. They needed to realize that too.

The novel is a lot more interesting that how I put it out to be. It's definitely worth the money I spent for it and more. :) You can use this link to buy it at Amazon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blackest Night - DC Comics

I'm not an avid comic book reader. I tried to collect Spawn when I was in college but soon lost interest in it. Not very exciting for me, or maybe it was the cost. After seeing the Watchmen on the big screen, we bought the hardcover and I was amazed at how they were able to stay true to the original. It wasn't a cheap buy though, and it so far hasn't been followed by another series. 

Last week, I had the chance to read Blackest Night, thanks to a colleague who has a collection of comic books. My boss has been borrowing his titles bit by bit and I saw this on the pile of the ones that were already being returned. I checked them out and since there were only nine sections for the event, I went ahead and borrowed them. It caught my interest, and now I want to read Green Lantern, and Sinestro Corps War. I think that I would appreciate and understand Blackest Night more if I actually read those. 

Of particular interest is the dynamics between Hal Jordan and Flash, and all those other super heroes. The origin (and purpose) of the different Corps is also something of interest to me. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Mighty Heart - Mariane Pearl

The brave life and death of (my/author's) husband Danny Pearl.

A Mighty Heart is one of the most moving books I have read in a long time. It was a welcome surprise. The abduction and execution of journalist Daniel Pearl was a story I heard about when it was happening. I knew it happened, but it's only now that I can truly say that I know.

I was prepared to be bored of this book but I wanted to read it anyway. Mariane Pearl intrigued me. How did she really take it? How has she been since? Surprisingly though, she captivated me. It was about what I imagine to be the most painful moments in her life, and yet, she told the story so well and with so much detail. She is a skilled writer, with the gift to make people understand.   

In the Prologue, she writes: 
I write this book to show that you were right: The task of changing a hate-filled world belongs to each one of us...
I write this book for you Adam, so you know that your father was not a hero but an ordinary man. An ordinary hero with a mighty heart.

That sums it all up for me. Danny and Mariane Pearl are, without a doubt, soulmates. They had found each other, fallen in love, and pursued their dreams together. Danny's work with The Wall Street Journal took him to many different countries. Wherever he went, Mariane went too. It worked for them because they both understood that it was their calling, as journalists, to seek out the stories and educate the rest of the world. Being a couple of mixed race also made it easier for them to blend in, to become a true citizen of the world. 

They were not oblivious to the risks though. They knew very well that in the world post 9/11, and in the very work they sought to do, they put their lives at greater risk. Yet they continue. 

The book is more than just the story of their life and love. It is as much a story of our world. It gives us an opportunity to look at the biggest threat facing the world today: terrorism. To me, it gives terrorism a human face. For a book written by a victim, it was refreshing that there was no finger-pointing, and there was no hate. 

It's true. Mariane Pearl had no animosity against the Pakistanis. Unlike how I'd imagine how foreigners would be, she dealt with and trusted a specific group of Pakistani law enforcement to head the search for her husband. After the ordeal, she kept in contact with them still. That says something about her character.

As a young girl, I had dreams of becoming a journalist someday. It didn't happen. People like Mariane and Danny should be the kind of journalists that our youth should aspire to be. This book is a keeper. I see myself reading it over and over in years to come. Get your copy here: A Mighty Heart.