Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

It is both thumbs up for this book, Battle Royale.

Set in a different kind of Japan, the Republic of Greater East Asia, the 42 students of a junior class from Shiroiwa Junior High School find themselves the main players in what their country has known to be The Program.

They were all happy to go on a class trip, but one by one they fall asleep while on the bus. When they awake they are in a classroom much like their own. Seated in order of their class number. But the teacher isn’t somebody they know. He tells them that the class has been chosen for the program, and their families have been notified. Before long, they see the corpse of their teacher, and two of them get killed. Later still, they leave the school grounds and must decide for themselves how to play the game.

The story is told mostly in the point of view of Shuya Nanahara. A star athlete in his Little League days, and apparently the class heartthrob. Throughout the book I kept wishing that his little group does finally hook up with Shinji Mimura. With them together, and counting Shogo’s all-around amazingness at the game, they are unbeatable.

I can see why the novel has been compared to Lord of the Flies, and also The Hunger Games. Unlike The Hunger Games though, these students had no opportunity to train or prepare for what was going to happen. They had no foreknowledge that soon, they will have to kill their classmates. Each student, upon exiting the school, was given a random day pack. Each pack contained food and water, and a weapon. No black diamond poles to help them with trekking, nothing that would help them gather more food. Cellphones didn’t work. Although there were residential areas on the island, no one was left to ask help from. Everyone was evacuated.

It was very interesting and not at all surprising to find that students reacted differently to their situation. Being a relatively nice person wasn’t guarantee that the person wouldn’t kill another. It is also very true though, if we can’t trust others, then there is just not much to go on with.

I’d love to see the movie version, but I can’t help to be a bit scared of it though. While reading, I imagined the scenes, and they were bloody for the most part. But it would be nice to see the tender moments between the main protagonists too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Data Never Sleeps

Ever wonder how much data is generated every minute? The folks at Domo came out with this poster to illustrate:

Source: via Vera on Pinterest


Quite interesting isn’t it? But one commenter on the blog where this was first posted raised an important question, how much of this data is original, and how is the data used? How much 204M email messages are SPAM?

Thank you Design Mom for sharing this on your blog.

Becky Higgins has revealed two new designs in the Project Life family. Though the Olive edition is also beautiful, I am digging Elisa Blaha’s Seafoam edition more! Not that I’m actually making any progress on my own PL album, but seeing these inventory labels the other day, can’t help but think how those can be used on albums too.

Oh, and if you haven’t visited my main blog lately, then you haven’t met Sean and Sab. Go click that link, you won’t regret it. If you need a smile now, then the post is guaranteed to give you one Smile If it doesn’t, you can go over to The Newbie Photographer blog, that latest post will definitely make you smile, if not laugh! Smile

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My second trip out of the country was a long flight to Stockholm, Sweden. It was such a memorable trip for so many reasons. I was a very young 15-year-old then.

Reading Stieg Larsson’s first installment to the Millenium Series added fuel to my desire to visit that country again. Just because, hehe. No, it’s not a touristy story extolling the beauty of the country, but it still had that effect on me.

the girl with the dragon tattoo

Photo from this book review.

I bought the book in 2010, again at my favorite used bookshop at the ELJ bldg, ABS-CBN compound. Didn’t get to read it until last week, while we were trapped in the house due to the flooding.

(Instagrammed this photo, asking “Guess what I’m reading?”)

So what is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo all about? Perhaps knowing that the translation of the original Swedish title for the novel is Men Who Hate Women will give you a better idea.

It’s main protagonists are Mikael Blomkvist, financial journalist, book writer, and magazine publisher, and social deviant but ace investigator Lisbeth Salander. The Vanger Corporation and the Wennerstrom Affair brought the two together. Quite an unlikely pair, but a good matchup nonetheless.

The story started out a bit slow, I was waiting for Blomkvist and Salander to finally work together and I think it was already more than half the novel before this happened. When it did, boom! Things really started to fall into place.

The things they uncovered – a lot were quite unimaginable, yet you also know deep down in your gut that these things could really be happening. You could either be scared of the world, or you could find it within you to be hopeful. Hopeful that society also has a way of righting itself.

Too bad I don’t yet have a copy of the second book in the series. I would have started on it if I did. Though I told myself not to buy additional books, I know I’m going to break that because I just can’t wait until next year to read book 2, The Girl Who Played with Fire.

*This is my second entry to the 2012 Award Winning Books Reading Challenge. According to the book’s Wikipedia page:

“The novel was released to great acclaim in Sweden and later, on its publication in many other European countries. In the original language, it won Sweden's Glass Key Award in 2006 for best crime novel of the year. It also won the 2008 Boeke Prize, and in 2009 the Galaxy British Book Awards[6] for Books Direct Crime Thriller of the Year, and the prestigious Anthony Award [7][8] for Best First Novel.

Larsson was posthumously awarded the ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for International Author of the Year in 2008.[9]

Monday, August 6, 2012

Silver Wedding by Maeve Binchy

Based on what I’ve blogged, this would be my 4th Binchy novel for this year. Silver Wedding.

Anna’s parents, Desmond and Deirdre Doyle, are celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary. And since this was definitely a milestone, a celebration was in order. Everyone who had been at the wedding party a quarter of a century ago had to be invited. Silver Wedding tells us the story of those in the wedding, and the children who came after, and what became of them in 25 years.

The family had quite an odd life. By all indications, they had the makings of a family who should be quite happy, and so it was really sad that they were always in a suspended state of pretend happy. All those years Deirdre fussed about keeping up appearances – appearing to be quite happy, that her husband is well on his way up the ladder of success in the company, that the children have each found their own place in the world and off in their successful and happy lives.

If they had problems, no one else needed to be told. All had to be kept within the family. A lay off, a son who ran away from home. None of this was to be discussed with other people, not even Grannie O’Hagan, who was family after all. And that is such a tiresome way to live. Nobody has a life of all peaches and cream. Not even I do, and I live quite a peaceful, normal life. I do have secrets, yes, but I don’t feel the need to cover them up all the time. And I definitely don’t feel the need to do that.

Apparently, Deirdre felt like she had to. And she did for the first 25 years of her marriage. Something tells me though that after the celebration, things did change. And she was free to finally be happy.

This book doesn’t make it to my favorites list, but like a true Binchy fan, I consider this a keeper. Once again, the importance of family is a central theme. But so is dreaming, and going after that dream.

RIP Maeve Binchy

I had learned a few days ago that as crazy as July had been, it was also the month that one of my favorite writers died. Binchy died in July 30, 2012. Rest in Peace Ma’am. You live on through the many stories you weaved for us.

I had to checkout her website of course, and saw this on the homepage:

The happiest moments of my life are connected with family and friends. There is a great comfort about being with people who knew you way back when. There is a mental shorthand, an easy-going feeling that life doesn't have to be explained or defined; we are all in more or less the same boat. To have a community around you in a changing and unstable world is invaluable and nothing can beat the feeling that there will always be people out for our good.

I know exactly what she means. That’s how I see the Seminary I grew up in, and the true friends I’ve had all these years.

In the About page, I read this line and realized that maybe this is why I liked her writing so much?

I was lucky enough to be fairly quick at understanding what was taught, but unlucky enough not to be really interested in it so I always got my exams but never had the scholar’s love of learning for its own sake. And even though I was fat and hopeless at games, which are very unacceptable things for a schoolgirl, I was happy and confident. That was quite simply because I had a mother and a father at home who thought I was wonderful. They thought all their geese were swans. It was a gift greater than beauty or riches, the feeling that you were as fine as anyone else.

I can so relate with her!

I would love to see her hometown someday, and see the beauty of Ireland. That would be a real treat!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A'mazed’ with books!

This maze was featured in Yahoo last week:


Made up of 250,000 books, this labyrinth is on display in London right now.

I’d be a little intimidated to go into this display, I might take a book and then the maze might collapse! Haha. But seriously, it might be really fun to visit and then take a book, sit back on bean bags, read. Then a few hours later, get up, put the book back, take another one. Repeat. Smile