On the Bookshelf: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room is one of the very few books that I judged by its cover.

It was white, with only the title and author’s name written across the front using a multicolored childish-handwriting font.

It was a refreshing sight from all the vampire-themed young adult books that dominate the display cases these days. Room looked like a light read, Fully Booked was on sale, and I had gift cards to spend. I grabbed a copy right away.

Upon entering the story, all you know is that to a kid named Jack, Room was the entire world, and this is where he lives with his Ma. You can see that he is happy with the arrangements,  his whole day mapped out for him, with meals and play and treats toward the end of every week. The story progresses and, together with Jack, you find out more about this tiny, highly structured world that he lives in.

You find out that to his Ma, Room was not the whole world; it’s  a prison. You find out about Old Nick, his regular visits, and that Jack should always, always be in the closet when Old Nick arrives.

Immediately you find yourself trying to read faster to answer all the “Why??”s.

The story was written in Jack’s point of view. This, I feel, is what really drew me in. You see, Jack is five years old. It was amazing, how Donoghue wrote the entire thing using his voice and made it sound convincing. Peppered with toddler-isms, I felt like Jack really was talking me through the whole story. The narration had the attention span of a toddler as well, one minute eavesdropping on adult conversations that revealed important plot turners, the next he’d be thinking about how much he needed to poo, and you’d go all “Aww, come on Jack FOCUS!”.

While the first half felt like a suspense thriller, room is not so much an escape story as much as it is an unconventional portrayal of a mother-and-child bond, and a socio-psychological commentary of survival and growth.

Through Jack’s entertaining narration, the plot points unfold gradually. Donoghue’s writing gives you enough details yet still left much to the imagination. I don’t know about you, but personally, love it when an author let’s you think for yourself instead of being tongue-in-cheek. It makes me feel like she thinks her readers are smart enough to piece the plot together.

Audrey Niffeneger’s review said “Room is a book to read in one sitting. When its over, you look up: The world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days.” I agree with her completely; I felt the same way after I was done with it.

This post doesn’t do the book any justice, but I must say, it’s one of the most engaging books I’ve read in a long time. If you liked Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and Anne Frank, you just might like this one too.

Find out more about Room the book here.

A Very Geeky Wishlist

October means birthday month… which means it’s time for the obligatory birthday wishlist!

Onwards, then!

1. Desk organizer: We recently just moved to a new office location,  and I want to revamp my station. A pretty station keeps me motivated, k. Hush.

Desk Organizer from Refresh Fashion (clicky on photo to view site)

2. Geekcessories! When I fangirl, I fangirl hard.

Top: Time-Turner (Harry Potter) and Evenstar (Lord of the Rings) necklaces from noblecollection.com; Bottom: The Deathly Hallows + Mockingjay pendants; Alice in Wonderland pendant from Wickedclothes.com

 3. New mugs for the office. I consume a lot of caffeine and water, one mug is rarely ever enough.

Mugs! Gamer-reference mugs much preferred

4. Books/Graphic Novels. Self-explanatory. I doubt if these will ever leave my wishlists.

Clockwise from left: Sandman series; Fables series; Neil Gaiman books; Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

5. World of Warcraft hoodies. LOOK at how sexy those are. Yes, I want both Alliance and Horde hoodies, because I love my Night Elf hunter (Lurline) and Tauren shaman (Arrabelle) equally. And yes, I just described something WoW related asa sexy.

Clicky on photo to see the rest of the shop

6. Any accessory with an opal.Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find something with an opal that doesn’t look like it belongs to a grandmother??

Siobahn's Wish by Etsy.

Last, and most out of place of all…

7. An out of town trip. Somewhere quiet and remote, somewhere that I’ve never been to before where all I have to do is relax, enjoy beautiful scenery and LIVE.

Can I just say, that this year’s list is the geekiest one that I’ve ever come up with? :))

What do YOU want to get for your birthday?

It All Ends – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

This is not a movie review.

I don’t think I can review the last Harry Potter movie effectively, simply because I might have put too much sentimental value in this entire franchise to comment in a completely objective manner.

Yeah, best not make me do a proper review.

I met Harry about twelve years ago. I was eleven, same as he was when he first entered Hogwarts. I’ve seen copies of Sorcerer’s Stone several times in the stores, but I always ignored them. I was a cocky eleven-year-old. I read the summary in the back of the book and immediately thought it was “too childish” for me. Yes, yes I know, shame on me.

And then I saw one of my friends reading it in class. What’s so weird is that this friend is a guy who just didn’t like to read. Was the book just THAT good that it even interests non-readers? That sparked my curiosity enough to borrow the book from him and read, at the very least, the first chapter.

I wasn’t able to put it down after the first page.

This collection isn't mine, but I'm sincerely wishing that it is

From there, I religiously followed the series, saw all the movies, haunted fan sites and read fanfiction during the excruciatingly long periods of waiting in between books. I bawled like a baby whenever someone died, hated Umbridge and Cho Chang with a passion, shipped all the pairs that are never going to happen and apologized profusely to the books for thinking so horribly of Snape.

I'M SORRY OKAY STOP MAKING ME CRY ALREADY T__T

I honestly felt that as I grew up, Harry and everyone else grew up with me. Standing in line for the last movie gave me the same feeling I felt when I was boarding the plane for Canada. Like I was saying goodbye to everything I knew and loved.

Admittedly, the scenes from the final battle could’ve been more epic, Voldemort made the weirdest sounds a villain can ever make (I think it’s the severe lack of a nose), and that fucking epilogue just really never worked for me, but STILL. It’s the last movie, the end of everything. I can’t even begin to describe how much this really means to me and to fans all over the world.

Yeeeah we're stuck with this epilogue forever, aren't we? Oh wellz.

But it’s not really good bye, is it? JK Rowling said so herself.

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

Make sure your kids get to experience Harry Potter, guys. It would be a huge mistake if they don’t.

Winter is Coming

“When you play the game of thrones, either you win or you die.”

When I read that line in the first volume of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series, I just knew this tale would be too good NOT to be translated to film.

A Song of Fire and Ice is basically a series revolving around seven kingdoms fighting for the right to rule one realm. Sounds simple enough, yes? Sounds pretty damn boring too. I REALLY do not have a stomach for politics, so I nearly brushed this book aside when somebody suggested it to me.

Persistent friends I have, and soon enough I found myself listening begrudgingly to the audiobook  copy of the first novel.

One of the best gifts that I've ever received

Most of the story takes place in various regions in a continent called Westeros, previously ruled by the Targaryens, a family well-known and feared by many for their strange affinity with dragons. Yes, you read that right. Dragons. See? The series is looking better already, yeah?

Anyway, yeah. Westeros was ruled by the Targaryens until two other families (Baratheon and Stark) allied to overthrow them. Several years of peace later, the usurper king meets his death. His firstborn son, should’ve been the rightful heir…but who his first and trueborn son is a question that must be answered first. And as that question hangs unanswered, the rest of the seven kingdoms of Westeros have begun the mad race to claim the Iron Throne.

Across the sea, exiled from Westeros, is the last Targaryen aiming to claim what she thinks is hers by birthright.

Elements like intrigue, betrayal, fantasy, incest and revenge make for a novel that is just SO HARD to put down. George RR Martin has an intricate writing style that allows him to integrate magical elements oh so subtly into a very rustic medieval setting which just makes everything much more believable.

I muscled through the audiobook despite my firm belief that books are meant to be read, and not listened to, just because I didn’t have money at the time to buy my own paperback copy. I’m on the third installment of the series now, and I just have to say, so far, it just keeps getting better.

ANYWAY. The whole point of me blathering about the books is that HBO has turned it into a series! It’s supposed to be premiering April 17, 2011 in the US, but since I am in poor, ol’ third world Philippines, I would have to wait until mid-year to see the first episode. Which really kinda sucks, because I’ve been drooling over the promotional posters for months and months.

If you’re in a country where A Game of Thrones has premiered, please let me know how it turned out. Is it worth watching? Did HBO do justice to its epic-ness? DO YOU HAVE A LINK WHERE I CAN WATCH IT OHMYGOD DYING HERE

Anway, if you’re just like me and do not have the luxury of seeing the pilot episode, I guess we should just settle for the promo posters:


…I really should unfollow the AGoT Twitter so I don’t get even more envious of everyone else who HAS seen the premiere.

Recent Read: Looking Glass Wars

Of all the Disney movies that I grew up to, Alice in Wonderland has got to be my least favorite. As a child, I thought the story pointless, and the movie miserable. It felt so different from all the other happy and fluffy Disney movies that I’ve seen. The fact that I am deathly afraid of getting lost must’ve played a part in that. There you have Alice, lost in a place that made no sense to her, and everything that surrounded her seemed to be determined to be unhelpful. When it ended with Alice waking up from a dream, I felt cheated. After all that trouble, THAT’S how it ends? HRRR.

OFF WITH YER HEAD!

I was able to read the novel just recently, and though I learned to appreciate the whimsical writing style and admire the wordplay, I’m still not in love with the story. The book just seemed to ramble on without a definite purpose but to show a collection of bizarre dreams of a little girl with a very creative mind. I suppose it would help to read it as though it were poetry and not prose, but that’s a whole, different topic.

ANYWAY.

Looking Glass Wars, the first of a three-part series by Frank Beddor, is a twisted, upside down version of Lewis Caroll’s classic story. In this reimagining of the novel, Alice did not stumble into Wonderland, she came from it. Alyss Heart is crown princess to the Queendom of Wonderland and was forced to flee into the human world when her aunt Redd (the Queen of Hearts counterpart. No duh.) waged war to usurp the throne. There she struggles to live among humans who would not believe any of her stories. Eventually she stops trying to convince everyone and starts to believe that all her memories were only dreams until someone from her past tries to take her back to where she came from.

The book’s pacing was incredibly fast. I was able to finish it in a day, reading during particularly long rides. I really liked how Beddor transformed Caroll’s (and Disney’s) colorfully nonsensical world into a dark and sinister chaos. He interprets the familiar characters and elements into something slightly more complex. Silly Mad Hatter comes in the form of badass Hatter Madigan, the honor-bound front-liner of the Queen’s personal guard whose hat is not a fashion statement but a death sentence. The Cheshire Cat is a dangerous shapeshifting assassin, the White Rabbit a wise old tutor going by the name Bibwit Harte. What Caroll’s and Beddor’s main protagonist had in common was that they both had a powerful imagination, though in very different senses.

So badass, he has his own spin-off

There were a few things that I thought could be improved though. The Looking Glass Maze, for example, was supposed to be the biggest obstacle Alyss would have to face to be able to reach her full potential. The chapter of that trial felt glossed over to me, as though Beddor was in such a hurry to get to the impending war. I’m not entirely convinced of the whole “romance” between Alyss and her childhood friend Dodge either. I mean, come on. Normally, a ten-year-old boy’s and a seven-year-old girl’s only thoughts when dancing would be “Eww, COOTIES!”, not “D’aww, she smells nice, too bad I can’t marry her.” There was also the fact that most of the characters were too black and white for my taste, in the sense that good is good and evil is evil. I would’ve appreciated a bit of gray area, a little more depth.

The story had a very graphic-novel feel to it, which is always a good thing for me. Plus, I’m a HUGE sucker for remakes of stories from my childhood. So yeah, despite its flaws, I still found Looking Glass Wars a worthy read.

Check out the trilogy’s official site here.