visprint launches dwellers + three more books

My heartfelt gratitude to Powerbooks, Ms. Nida Ramirez, Kyra Ballesteros, and the rest of Visprint; artist Aldy Aguirre for creating great art for my book, fellow authors Paolo Chikiamco, Karl De Mesa, and Dean Francis Alfar; fellow Alternative Alamat contributors, and the people who took the time to drop by the launch, listen, chat, buy books and have their copies of Dwellers signed. Thank you very much!

Dwellers is available now in all Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal and Cavite branches of National Book Store and Powerbooks Store, as well as Uno Morato in Quezon City.

For those outside Luzon, copies are also making their way to your book stores.

Photos! I wasn’t able to take a lot of photos, but I thoroughly enjoyed Paolo’s short talk about the rationale behind Alternative Alamat (How come we know more about Greek myths than our own myths?) and the contributors’ individual stories behind their stories, Dean’s advice to new writers (summary: the mechanism is all there, all you have to do is actually sit down and write!), and Karl’s showbiz tsismis. (Talagang yung tsismis yung nag-stand out sa akin ano.)

Dwellers

Dwellers

Dwellers

After the event, celebrating with Jaykie and some ciders.

Dwellers

Dwellers

I also got copies of the books launched that day. Grateful for the heartfelt messages.

Dwellers

Dwellers

Dwellers

Beautiful covers!

Dwellers

Here’s a closer look at Dwellers. I’m loving the size — it’s small enough to fit in your back pocket.

Dwellers

Dwellers

Dwellers

Early reviews from readers are positive and encouraging. :)

For more information about the book, please click here. For questions about availability, kindly contact the publisher.

Thanks, and happy reading!!!

mystic river by dennis lehane

Mystic RiverMystic River by Dennis Lehane

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An incredible page-turner that I think was ruined slightly for me by its Epilogue. The tonal (and philosophical) shift in the final section would have been more acceptable if the events it described happened not a couple days later but years later. One character moves from guilt and remorse to an acceptance of his evil in a matter of days? From grief to a rant against gentrification? Hm. But there we have it. Everything before the epilogue though was magic, with searing insight about loss and loneliness, about the end of friendships and the end of innocence, with boundless compassion for its characters, all the while managing to remain suspenseful and entertaining. This is my first Dennis Lehane novel, and what a great novel.

View all my reviews

 

Other books I have recently finished that I feel you should check out: Ball Peen Hammer by Adam Rapp and George O’Connor (which I found fucked-up and terrifying and heartbreaking), and two books by David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.

some love for ‘unseen moon’, ‘project 17′, ‘the viewless dark’, and ‘lower myths’

Here are new reviews for Unseen Moon and Project 17.

From Cassandra Javier (a review of the paperback, which contains The Viewless Dark):

A collection of Horror Stories from Eliza Victoria, a brilliant and undeniably good Filipina Author, Unseen Moon is something that every Horror/Mystery/Crime fan must read.

First in the collection is Needle Rain. A story of a barkada and how they try to uncover the mysteries of a murder that happened in their hometown. One of the most mysterious stories in the pack, this is a good way to build the tension and suspense that one should feel while reading the book. However, aside from being scary, there’s bit of sadness and surprise here, too. What’s good is that the author was really able to capture the old-skool Filipino neighborhood–she was able to build the feel and imagery that was needed.

And then comes my favorite story in the book: The Ghosts of Sinagtala. Oh, god, this is the perfect thing to read right now as the Holy Week is coming up soon, and aside from being “Holy”, we all know that it’s also the time when they say that bad spirits are all over the place. This (and I told the author about this) SERIOUSLY. CREEPED. ME. OUT. It’s not about monsters or the usual white ladies or whatever, but the kind of horror depicted in this story is so psychological that it would really rack your brain. (And I’m getting goosies again while writing this). Read it and you will know what I mean. It’s really something you’d have to put down and continue once the sun shines again (yeah I read it late, late at night and god my mind worked so bad) because it’s so scary. Watch out for rats.

Summer Evening, meanwhile, is brutal. You never know how twins’ minds’ work these days. You might be disturbed by this story and by the brutality, but all in all it was good. I like how different and creative the author can get.

A tale that will surely tug at your heartstrings without losing its mystery, December, is about an orphan named December, who makes friends with a boy named Gabriel. Together, they discover secrets and mysteries about a dead body in the lake, an abandoned mansion and the people around them.

Finally, there is the Viewless Dark. If you’re a student and are frequenting the library, you’ll be afraid. Okay seriously, this was one of the best. It’s about finding out about someone’s death and learning what you need to learn about that person. It’s scary, it’s suspenseful and it’s a work that’s just definitely top of the line. If you’re fond of trying to solve mysteries, this story is for you.

Give this book a chance because you will not regret it. And you know what? I think I’m going to re-read these stories sometime soon. They’re THAT good.

From Cathriona Lethal:

This is the second book by Eliza Victoria that I’ve read. The first one was Project 17. Whenever I read her stories I [think], “This author must have killed somebody to be able to write gripping tales like these.”

There are four short stories in this book. Reading the first, “Needle Rain”, is like watching true crime. I felt like I was praying hard as my windpipe hang on the second, “The Ghosts of Sinagtala”, and only after I reached the ending was I able to breathe – finally relieved. After reading the third, “Summer Evening”, I was convinced Miss Victoria must have really murdered somebody to be able to pull this story off, like she’s in a vengeance. And lastly, the final fresh-dead-cat present from the book, “December”, is just sick. Sick. I want to run from it, however, I was coaxed to go on…

From Tricia:

Ever since I’ve read Eliza Victoria‘s Unseen Moon, I became a fan. When the news broke that she published a new book last year, I really wanted to get a copy but I missed it during the book fair. Initially, I [didn’t] have any idea about Project 17, but I was so attracted [by] the book cover (cover and illustrations by Jap Mikel) and Victoria’s books are now an auto-buy for me, [that] I got a copy. I am glad I was able to grab one last Summer Komikon!

Let’s admit it, there are only a few science fiction books by our local authors in the Philippines—or maybe I’m just not that well-read when it comes to Filipiniana—and this is a good news that our local authors are now venturing and writing different genres (most of our local writers are into chick-lit and literary fiction).

Project 17 is set in the immediate to near future in the Philippines where robots are now among humans. Cellphones, no-hands, high-technology devices are part of being a human to survive. In this story, our protagonist, Lillian was hired as a babysitter for summer job by a man named Paul Dolores. Her duty is to look after his younger brother, a 28-year old guy suffering from a schizoaffective disorder named Caleb. The situation looks harmless and soon she accepted the job. Boring day after boring day, she starts being curious about the lives of these two brothers as well as Caleb’s medications that  are nonexistent online.

What I like about Project 17 is how Victoria created a world that is new and familiar at the same time. She didn’t dwell too much on being science fiction or on using epistaxis-inducing geeky high science/technology terms for a non-science-fiction-fan like me. It’s just on the right combination of science fiction, mixed with mystery and thrown in bits of humor. What piqued my interest is the mental disorder mentioned in the book. I really like books with health or mental disorders because I had close encounters with people with mental problems when I was a college nursing student. It was a memorable experience and I am forever interested and curious on such topics. Although the book only has few mentions about the mental case, the flow of the story didn’t disappoint. It was well-paced, although I found myself being impatient because it’s a thin book and there’s too much going on! But then, it was all right because things fell into places and I’m all ohhhs and ahhhs after connecting all the details. I like that the book gave off a feeling like I am a detective on [the] run chased by some big, unknown, all-seeing person ala Big Brother for discovering such information Lillian learned. I felt bits of paranoia and was on a look out for heavily-tinted cars that might, you know, kidnap me. Ha ha.

Here are reviews for two of my earlier releases, The Viewless Dark and Lower Myths, both available on Amazon, Flipreads, and other fine places.

Lower Myths: I’ve always loved Eliza Victoria’s works for having a strong Filipino feel. Some people might see the words “diwata” or “mambabarang” in these two stories and automatically classify them as fantasy works, but what really gives both titles an impact is a common emotion that is skillfully weaved into it: love of siblings, love of family. That is something any reader can relate to, and I find that these are what makes both memorable. They are supernatural stories to be sure, intriguing but also very touching for it features something that hits close to home for all of us.

The Viewless Dark: The story was creepy and hair raising at times, but still managed to be incredibly touching with the twist at the end. A fantastic mixture of the supernatural, tragedy, friendship and family all in one short story. I’d loved Eliza Victoria’s works ever since randomly picking up “A Bottle of Storm Clouds” and if there’s only one complaint I have about this author, it’s that her stories always leave me wanting more.

Thank you very much to readers who take the time to write their thoughts about my work. I love how most readers pick up one book of mine, and check out my other books. Returning customers! I must be doing something right.

Unseen Moon can be purchased on Smashwords and Amazon.

Project 17 is in all major Philippine bookstores. (And soon as an ebook! Watch out for that.)

The Viewless Dark is available on Amazon and other places.

Lower Myths is available on Amazon and other places.

Disclaimer: I don’t kill people, just cockroaches.

books books books: summer komikon + gina apostol lecture & book signing

So how’s everyone doing post-Komikon? We woke up early so we could be at the venue early. Tried Highlands Coffee for the first time. (There was a branch across the street from the Bayanihan Center.) Though I’ve had Vietnamese coffee before (here and in Vietnam when we traveled there last year), it felt like the coffee I had that Saturday morning was sprinkled with crack. I was seriously jumping out of my skin around lunch. I hope people didn’t notice.

Anyway! The Summer Komikon was fantastic. The star of the Visprint table were (as always) Manix Abrera with his 10th volume of Kikomachine Komix, the editors of Abangan: The Best Philippine Comics 2014, and Mervin Malonzo, with the print version of his webcomic, Tabi Po. I was there signing copies of my two books. Check out my headband.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

With Mervin and his book. Congrats!

Untitled

Funny about Manix: you had to take a number to have your copy signed. We were there early. We got #67. Sixty-seven! After 30 minutes I asked what number was being served, and they said #12. Dyos ko. Daig pa ang doctor’s clinic. Char.

Congrats Manix and please sign my books next time I see you.

Got these cards that I ordered from Shani Tan of Aromateria. Pretty! I’ll be giving these out to readers in upcoming events.

Untitled

Mervin’s promise regarding After Lambana. Posting this here SO EVERYONE WILL KNOW.

Untitled

We left Komikon early (with Honey, Adam, and Ken) to attend Gina Apostol‘s Lecture & Book Signing at Glorietta 1. I have not read a novel of hers, but I deeply admire and enjoy her essays, like this one, on reading/writing novels, and Rizal.

Enjoyed Danton Remoto’s introduction, particularly the Doris Lessing anecdote. (He asked her if they could have a picture taken with her; the British novelist and poet said no. “We’re in New York, but I’m from Loyola Heights, you know. Hindi ko naman alam na may mga protocol na ganyan!”)

Untitled

Gina Apostol was equally hilarious, reading sections from her novels Gun Dealers’ Daughter, and The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata. I only brought money for Gun Dealer’s Daughter but (and I told her this) ended up getting Raymundo Mata as well because I enjoyed her reading and discussion so much. Rizal and the revolution through the eyes of a “kooky” blind man. (Raymundo Mata was the blind man who went with Pio Valenzuela in his controversial 1896 visit to Rizal in Dapitan.) Premise pa lang ulam na.

Gina said Raymundo Mata is actually her favorite. I have started reading it and it. Is. Hilarious. Also very inventive and carefully and beautifully written. Check it out.

Untitled

Untitled

My little loot at the end of the day. Happy.

Untitled

we are all completely beside ourselves by karen joy fowler

We Are All Completely Beside OurselvesWe Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a nominee for both the Nebula Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. I can’t remember now where I read it, but this is the first time the same novel has been nominated for both prestigious awards. I got curious (the Nebula Awards focuses on science fiction and fantasy, while I have always assumed the PEN/Faulkner focuses on realist literary work, though I can see that I am mistaken) and immediately went on Amazon to read the sample. You should go ahead and do that. The writing is extraordinary. Two pages in and I was hooked. Chapter 1 shows a couple breaking up and the girl going berserk in a cafeteria. What’s not to like?

The novel is narrated by Rosemary Cooke, and she starts her story, as she is wont to do, in the middle. It is 1996, she is 22 years old, and she has not seen her brother Lowell in a decade. Her sister Fern has been missing for seventeen years.

I am going to stop here just to say that this is an incredible book, very well-written, heartbreaking, with an important message to tell, and that you should stop reading this post (and the book’s reviews, and the summaries) and read the book instead.

However, if you have read it, or if you don’t mind spoilers, I’ll see you after the cut.

Continue reading

leningrad by anna reid

Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944 by Anna Reid

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For nearly 900 days, from 1941 to 1944, Hitler’s troops encircled Leningrad, the former capital of Russia and the symbolic capital of the Russian Revolution, in an effort to starve out its inhabitants. The siege, known as the Leningrad Blockade, forced inhabitants to turn to murder and cannibalism, and starved to death around 750,000 people, or “between one in three and one in four of Leningrad’s immediate pre-siege population.”

It took me a long time to finish this book – not because it was written in a way that discouraged continuous reading, but because the despair and horror depicted in its pages were so difficult to absorb. I feel there is nothing I can say that can be considered an adequate response. I can focus on the language, the craft of it. I can say Anna Reid writes so vividly that the book has the feel and sound of poetry. I can say everyone should read this important historical account. But regarding the stories and diary entries she quotes, to say the siege was “horrible” is a horrible understatement.

I can only share the passages from the final few chapters that struck me:

Statues, landscaping, poetry – nothing can say all that should be said and felt about a tragedy on the scale of Leningrad.

For them the siege is not history but acute, lived experience, and their memories of it, as Olga Grechina puts it, ‘a minefield of the mind. You only have to step on them, and you explode. Everything flies to hell – quiet, comfort, present-day happiness.’

‘All those stories’, [historian Anzhelina Kupaigorodskaya] said, ‘of girls too weak to stand roped to lathes, clutching their dolls – they’re just post-war sentimentality.’ In reality the siege was drab, hard, and horrible. No human being should have to live through such a time…Now that my questions were over this was the important thing, the point she was determined to get across.

View all my reviews

reading update

We got this pack at Shoppers in Ongpin, Manila. It’s nice to drink something warm and tasty while reading. Mmm.

So, what have we been reading?

LocalLocal by Brian Wood & Ryan Kelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A collection of twelve interconnected short stories. Every chapter represents one year in the life of protagonist Megan McKeenan, from age 18 to age 30. Beautiful, beautiful stories, and with great art, too. The art truly shines in the quiet frames, particularly in the largely wordless “Polaroid Boyfriend”. My other favorites are “The Last 10 Lonely Days at the Oxford Theater”  and “Megan and Gloria, Apartment 5A”. “Two Brothers” was a violent surprise.

Batman, Vol. 3: Death of the FamilyBatman, Vol. 3: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read all three volumes, and the third one’s the best, sure to go down in history as one of the most disturbing Joker stories. Scott Snyder’s writing is moving.

 

 

American ElsewhereAmerican Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to talk a lot more about this book, but I dove into this blind (as I’m wont to do with both books and films), and I would love it if you did the same thing. All you need to know: Mona Bright, ex-cop, inherits a house from a mother who committed suicide when Mona was still a child. The house is in the town of Wink, which was created when a science laboratory was built in the area. The laboratory has been closed for thirty years, and Mona finds Wink an idyllic but strange town. Of course there are secrets. Of course there are strange things that go bump in the dark. I thought it would be a full-on horror novel, but I got something whimsical, and true, and special. Oh, you are in for a treat. If this book were a person I would hug it.

Read it and let’s meet up and talk about it, okay?

I have also read The Ruins by Scott Smith but it wasn’t very good, and 100 Bullets by Brian Azarrello and Eduardo Risso - all 100 issues of it! – which ended up muddy for me, but still an enjoyable read.