Tuesday, 8 January 2013

2013 reading goals

share a #virtualbeer with me. via bluemask2099
share a #virtualbeer with me. via bluemask2099
Over at Goodreads I gave myself another reading challenge. Last year, I challenged myself to read 12 books but read 20 instead. This year I am raising it to 25. I think that is manageable. I am planning to read at least 2 books a month with 1 “thick” book that I might not finish in a month.

Why such a low number as compared to other readers? I am a “slow” reader. I usually read for pleasure. For that my reading speed is almost equal to my speaking speed.

Over at Meann’s blog (The Girl Who Reads and Other Stories), she asked for specific reading goals. (By the way, she is currently running a book give-away.) Here is mine:


For the rest, any book from my TBR list. Most of it I bought from The Kindle Daily Deal (for e-books) or Booksale (for paperbacks).
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Sunday, 6 January 2013

2012 in books

Device and device
Device and device (Photo credit: icheb)
So, I remembered that I have a blog that I neglected for a long time. The last one I posted here was dated December 2011. A got a whole year of no posts! To compensate, I'll post what happened on my reading list during the year 2012... as far as what my Goodreads account tells me.

January: I posted a reading challenge for myself: read 12 books for the year 2012. I told myself, a book a month, I can do this. After posting this challenge, I failed the first month. I didn't start reading, I just procrastinated.

February: Fine, I'll start. I downloaded on my Kindle a copy of the first book of The Romulan Wars: Beneath the Raptor's Wing since I can't find a copy on local bookstores. I followed it up with the second book: To Brave the Storm. Good, I finished two books, I am on track. I challenged myself on reading a hard SF. Since I enjoyed reading on my Kindle, another e-book is in order. I downloaded the first book of The Uplift Saga: Sundiver. I find the concept of uplift intriguing.

March: I don't know why but I haven't finished Sundiver this month. Maybe because the story is dragging? I don't remember.

April: Finally finished Sundiver on the first week. After looking at my currently-reading list, I decided to finish The Time Traveler's Wife. I liked both the book and the movie versions actually. Also this month, I read American Gods. I asked myself why I didn't bought this book after reading Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. Good thing this book was on a discount on the Amazon Kindle store during that month. Also on discount that month was the first book of the Sword of Truth: Wizard's First Rule. As a friend put it, this my first foray with thick books. I put it down for a few days to read the second Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations book: Forgotten History. Five stars goes to Mr. Bennett as usual.

May: Still reading Wizard's First Rule. I squeezed a few days reading Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries that I bought on discount over at the Kindle store. After reading this, I imagined myself traveling to countries where English language is not as prevalent. It would be a challenge, I thought.

June to August: Real life interfered with my reading. I occasionally read Wizard's First Rule during those days. Again, that was a very “thick” book.

tonight 's pre and in flight reading material ...
tonight 's pre and in flight reading material via bluemask2099
September: I was back at our main office, (in La Union for those who ask) and I had to stay on the family home while I was there. Since I don't have internet at home (my phone can only access Twitter), I was back on my reading list. First stop, the latest Star Trek release, the Voyager novel The Eternal Tide. I made an experiment by tweeting my side comments while reading this book. It was fun to do but it was slowing down my reading pace. After reading another Kindle book, I told myself to start making a dent on my paperback pile. I picked up The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks. Yes, I also read books other than science fiction and fantasy. I also picked up one of those Star Trek paperbacks that was collecting dust on my pile: Seize the Fire, a Typhon Pact novel featuring the crew of Star Trek: Titan. I previously blogged one of those novels in 2011. That was a long time between reading those books. I finished this one early October.

October: I decided to finally catch up with Star Trek novels, starting with Star Trek: Titan – Fallen Gods, the direct sequel of Sieze the Fire; and Star Trek: Typhon Pact novels Plagues of the Night, Raise the Dawn, and Brinkmanship, all on the Kindle since the local bookstore that might carry these books is in Metro Manila which is far from where I was that time. I also read the Doctor Who: The Angel's Kiss novella.

November: I returned to Wizard's First Rule only to put it down again to read the latest from Star Trek: the first book of Cold Equations, The Persistence of Memory. As usual, Mr. Mack delivers. Finally, I finished Mr. Goodkind's book this month. One word: “thick”.

December: I finished the second book of Cold Equations, Silent Weapons. Also finished this month was Supernatural: Bobby Singer's Guide to Hunting. I say, this is the best Supernatural tie-in book so far. Finally, I also got to finish reading The Halfling's Gem, the sixth book of The Legend of Drizzt. I read the last Drizzt book years ago and this book was collecting dust for quite a while now.


Also in 2012, I discovered The Book Depository where I can order books online and be delivered for free. The first book I bought was Idlewild by Nick Sagan. It will be on my 2013 reading list, I swear. In December, I won my first free book from Goodreads, Becoming a Superhero, signed by author Oliver Galang. I will resume reading this after the holiday break.

My signed copy of Becoming a Superhero by Oliv...
My signed copy of Becoming a Superhero by Oliver Galang arrived earlier this week. via bluemask2099
So, what happened to my reading challenge? I read 20 books in 2012, way past my 12 book mark. Not bad. I will raise that number for my 2013 challenge. Hope I can make it.

I also hope that I can maintain regularly posting on this blog this time around. See ya next time.

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Monday, 12 December 2011

Review: New Year's Eve (2011)

What are your hopes for the new year?

From the director of Valentine's Day, the new film New Year's Eve also follows the lives of different people and how their lives intersect during a single day. Director Garry Marshall and writer Katherine Fugate present a new set of stories of people and their relationships. This time, most of the stories are not restricted to romantic relationships. While the storylines occurred simultaneously, only a few of them fully crossed over to another story with some only have the setting or familial relationship as the common denominator.

Here are some of my favorite storylines:

In the Jensen/Laura story, Jon Bon Jovi (Pucked) plays Jensen, a rock star, who want to reconcile with Laura, a chef, played by Katherine Heigl (Life as We Know It). I liked this storyline not because of the main characters but of the supporting cast. Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), played Chef Ava, is such a scene stealer.

In the Resolution Tour, Michelle Pfeiffer (Stardust) plays Ingrid, a receptionist who just quit her job and wanted to fulfill her resolution list. She met Paul, a bike messenger played by Zac Efron (Charlie St. Cloud), and asked him to help her. How Paul checked off her list is genius.

In the New Year Baby, Seth Myers (Saturday Night Live) and Jessica Biel (The A-Team) competes with another couple on a race to have their baby to be named as the hospital's New Year baby and win a prize. This is the comedy storyline of the film. Liked how this story ended.

The other storylines on this film features the following: Robert De Niro (Killer Elite), Halle Berry (X-Men: The Last Stand), Ashton Kutcher (What Happens in Vegas), Lea Michele (Glee), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City), Josh Duhamel (Life as We Know It), Hilary Swank (Amelia), and Ludacris (Fast Five). I am surprised with the appearance of Alysa Milano (Charmed) and Joey McIntyre (NKOTB).

This is pretty much a feel good movie. Quick rating: 3.5 falling balls out of 5.

Please do watch the credits. It contains scenes during the New Year's party and hilarious outtakes.

New Year's Eve is now on cinemas. Distributed by Warner Brothers Philippines.

Poster and still images (c) 2011 Warner Bros.
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Friday, 28 October 2011

Review: In Time (2011)

"Time is gold." Cliché much?


In a future where the aging gene has been switched off, people don't age past 25. In order to prevent overpopulation, time becomes the currency used to pay for necessities and luxuries. It is a world where the rich live forever and the poor die young. This is the world of In Time, a new film by Andrew Niccol starring Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy.



The film revolves around the character Will Salas, played by Justin Timberlake. I last saw Justin Timberlake in The Social Network. All I can say is, Timberlake can act.



Poor boy meets rich girl Sylvia Weis played by Amanda Seyfried. I last saw Seyfried in Red Riding Hood. She played different kinds of roles in her past films, and she played them well. Here, though, I wondered, "How did she run in those heels?"



Cillian Murphy (Inception) plays a Timekeeper--a kind of cop. Will's best friend is played by Johnny Galecki (Leonard of The Big Bang Theory), the rich "villain" is played by Vincent Kartheiser (Angel), the mysterious man that started it all is played by Matt Bomer (White Collar), and Olivia Wilde (House) is Will's mom. What can I say, the casting is great! I am familiar with, and loved these actors in their previous works.

What I loved about this film is it made me think, but at the same time, it kept me on the edge of my seat. The film runs for almost 2 hours (real time), but you won't notice it. The characterizations are used well to move the plot further between action sequences. And since this film is about time used as currency, there really was no time wasted.

People familiar with science fiction films can draw parallels and similarities with other works like Logan's Run, and the director's previous work, Gattaca. There are also parallels to real world events like Occupy Wall Street.

A character from the film asked, "If you had as much time as I have, what would you do with it?" My answer would be, "I'll make the most of it."

In Time opens in cinemas today, October 28.

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Thursday, 6 October 2011

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

Steve Jobs at the WWDC 07Image via Wikipedia

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.

Steve Jobs
1955-2011

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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

[TrekLit] Review: Paths of Disharmony (Star Trek: Typhon Pact)

Author: Dayton Ward
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation; Star Trek: Typhon Pact

A casual reader or Trek fan should not take a Star Trek novel lightly these days, especially when the novel is set on the late 24th century. Novels released by Pocket Books starting early 2000s fall into some sort of a continuity which fans call the “Novelverse” where events in one book might be referenced in another or a meta-story can drive the plotlines of multiple books. Some authors may or may not follow the novels continuity (you can spot continuity slip-ups and ret-cons here and there) but the story in the novels strive to be self-contained. Continuity may be good or bad for the books but some (like me) appreciates this and wants to follow where the new Star Trek lit universe go.

Paths of Disharmony is written by Dayton Ward and is part of the Star Trek: Typhon Pact miniseries featuring the characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Captain Picard was sent by Federation President Nanietta Bacco[1] on a diplomatic mission to Andor. The reproductive crisis of the Andorian people[2] was compounded by the devastation of the cities of the planet following the last Borg Invasion.[3] Leading Andorian scientists struggle to solve the crisis with one solution[4] seems promising but later discarded when number of failures became higher than successful births. The Enterprise' task is to bring leading scientists from the Federation and non-aligned worlds to a conference on Andor to help solve the crisis.

If your last Next Gen story was Star Trek Nemesis, here are some pointers on the current crew of the Enterprise. Will Riker left to command his own ship, the USS Titan.[5] Counselor Troi followed Riker on Titan. Data's twin, B4, is not on board.[6] Worf stayed as Picard's first officer. LaForge is still the chief engineer. Picard filled in the missing posts with new officers trying to find the perfect mix but almost every novel there is a change in the line-up. In this novel, the following are new faces are significant characters: Choudhurry the chief of security, Taurik a Vulcan assistant chief engineer, and T'Ryssa Chen a half-Vulcan contact specialist. By the way, Picard is already married and there is a little Picard crawling around.[7]

The plot revolves around Andorian politics and the reaction of the Andorian people following the Borg Invasion to the Federation. Some groups felt that the Andorians was forsaken by the Federation or outright against the Federation.[8] Some groups protesting that the new solution for the reproductive crisis is un-Andorian. When the Tholians, member of the Typhon Pact, announced that the possible solution to the crisis was held secret by the Federation[9] the protests turned into violence, the Enterprise was caught in the middle but was able to quell both camps. In the end, the decision of Andor will rock the core of the Federation while the Typhon Pact watches.

The miniseries Star Trek: Typhon pact was supposed to feature a member of the new coalition called Typhon Pact[10] that serves as the counterpart of the Federation. In this book, it is only revealed that the Tholians are doing something behind the scenes. Since the Tholians are already featured in the series Star Trek: Vanguard, I understand why they are not featured in full here.

This book also features the Andorian Thirishar ch'Thane back to the TrekLit[11] although not much of “airtime” as I liked it to be. I hope his character will be revisited soon and in a Deep Space Nine book.

I get the feeling that Pocket Books is slowly closing the gap between the novels and the prime universe segment of the Star Trek (2009) movie, specially the Star Trek: Countdown comic by IDW. There are hints on the future role of Picard. On that note, I want a Data/B-4 story!

The novel started slow but it picked up the pace sometime after the midpoint up to the big decision near the end. I want to read the aftermath of this book soon.

Quick rating: 3 Borg Cubes (out of 5).

[1] first mentioned in A Time for War, A Time for Peace

[2] first discussed on the DS9 relaunch novels

[3] as seen in Star Trek: Destiny miniseries

[4] first presented in Mission Gamma miniseries

[5] follow his adventures on Star Trek: Titan series

[6] read what happened on Articles of the Federation

[7] more of that on Greater Than the Sum and Losing the Peace

[8] one of them was featured in the comic Alien Spotlight: Andorians by IDW

[9] this is the meta-story of the Star Trek: Vanguard series

[10] first mentioned in A Singular Destiny

[11] he was last seen on Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Volume One



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Sunday, 11 September 2011

[Movies] One Day

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess
Director: Lone Scherfig

I have nothing to do this afternoon so I checked the local movie listings to find something to pass the time on. I saw One Day is showing and I remember Anne Hathaway on the movie poster I saw last week. I decided to watch this instead of Contagion. (Thanks Wil.)

Since this is a Hathaway movie, I have to watch it. I'm in love Anne since her first appearance on the movie Princess Diaries. I did a little digging on the internet about this movie so that at least I have something to look forward to. I restrained myself to read significant spoilers. She is paired with Jim Sturgess. I haven't seen his other films. Yes, I haven't seen 21 (thank you IMDB for the info). So according to sources I've read, this movie is based on a novel by David Nicholls. He also wrote the movie's screenplay. Since I haven't read the book, I will not comment on how it is faithful as an adaptation.

Cover of "One Day"Cover of One Day
The movie is based on two “friends”, Emma and Dexter, whose lives keep on intersect on the anniversary of their first meeting. At first I thought, how will the movie pull this off telling 20 years worth of friendship with just one day for each year. Suffice to say, I was satisfied. I loved the evolution of the character of Dexter. Of course, the writer of the novel is a man that is why the male lead's character is full. (I also loved Nicholas Sparks' male leads.) Even though I can relate with Dexter (especially with his relationship with his mother), I say I can relate more with Emma. That is something to talk about with me over coffee (or beer).

Visuals, I loved how the characters are addressed appropriately for the season. The bulk of the movie is set on the 90s and for that decade, almost every year have different fashion and hairstyles. It was reflected on the movie and since I grew up in the 90s, I really loved it. Music was also used to emphasize the time setting, including songs from Tears For Fears, Robbie Williams, and Ronan Keating.

Although I watched this alone (seems to be a recent trend to me), this is a good date movie. Might as well check out the original novel and the soundtrack album.

Quick Rating: 3.5 (of 5) stars.




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