READING BUDDIES: A MONSTER CALLS/Patrick Ness (1)

 

As what I have said in the previous post, I will be joining some reading buddies for A Monster Calls for the whole month of October. The book is divided into 5 parts according to chapter titles, and for this week, we are scheduled to read from A Monster Calls to Grandma. I started reading last night and if I didn’t have an appointment early the next morning, I might have stayed up all night and finished the book. But then again, I want to savor the story bit by bit so I will (strongly) control myself not to finish the book in one sitting. 🙂

 Part 1: A Monster Calls to Grandma

As early as now, I already love the book because it is very easy to read, no “big” words whatsoever, no need to re-read pages before I can fully understand what the author means. Connor O’Malley is 13 years old and at his age, he has already encountered more than enough troubles: he has recurring nightmares lately, his mother is sick, his grandmother whom he doesn’t like is coming home, he is bullied in school, and worse, his bestfriend, Lily, betrayed him by telling everyone at school that his mom is ill. And then one night, he saw a yew tree turn into a giant monster. What else could go wrong?

The questions for this part are as follows:

1. “You’re a good boy,” Conor’s mother tells him. “I wish you didn’t have to be quite so good.” (p. 17) What do you think she means by that?

I’d like to answer this question by dividing the statement into two: First, “You’re a good boy” –  this is Conor’s mom’s way of affirming and appreciating all that Connor has done while she’s sick. At his age, Connor is already independent. He fixes his own breakfast, cleans the house, and prepares for school all by his own. He has shown strength of character for someone as young as him.

Second, “I wish you didn’t have to be quite so good.” Conor’s mom could be talking more to herself than to Conor when she spoke this. Because she is very sick, she could be thinking about death more now and she finds it hard to die when she has to leave someone who is “so good.”

 2. Lily was once Conor’s closest friend but now he can’t forgive her. Why? Is he right to feel betrayed?

I think yes. The illness of Conor’s mom is something that Conor feels to be a very personal matter and when Lily told somebody else about this, Conor felt angry and betrayed. Anger is already brewing inside Conor because of the circumstances and he is still in the process of accepting the fact that his mother is ill. He is trying to put up a very strong front, as a coping mechanism perhaps, and he is not yet prepared to deal with other people yet regarding his mother’s situation.

3. The monster talked about 4 stories, 3 from him and one from Conor. The one from Conor should be the truth. What do you think is this truth? (Feel free to speculate 😀 To those who’ve read this already, you can write what you first thought this truth was.)

 I think the truth that comes from Conor is that he is afraid of being left alone. He has suffered loss early in his life when his father left them, and now his mother is sick and does not seem to get well. However, Conor doesn’t want to face this truth because he doesn’t want to feel afraid. After all he is a boy, who will grow up to be a man, and a man is not supposed to feel afraid, right?

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OCTOBER READING BUDDIES: A MONSTER CALLS/Patrick Ness

A monster calls. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting.

He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming. . .

This monster, though, is something different.

Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.

For this month (which is also my birth month, just so you know :P) I will be doing a buddy read of Patrick Ness’s new book, A Monster Calls, together with Tina, Ariel, Louize, Monique, Kwesi and Celina, with Tina as moderator. Reading Buddies is currently conducted over at The Filipino Group in Goodreads where a group of at least two members decide to read a certain book together according to a schedule and post summaries and thoughts on the designated thread. I have already joined two – The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, the latter I wasn’t able to finish (sadly) because I simply suck at reading ebooks.

Anyway, with A Monster Calls, Tina will be posting a set of questions on the story according to 5 parts which is as follows:

 Part 1 – From A Monster Calls to Grandma
Part 2 – From The Wildness of Stories to Champ
Part 3 – From Americans Don’t Get Much Holidays to No Tale
Part 4 – From I No Longer See You to 100 Years
Part 5 – From What’s the Use of You to The Truth

Each of the buddies will be posting their respective answers to the questions on the thread as well as post the same on their blogs if they happen to have one.

It is no secret how much I loved Patrick Ness’s The Ask And The Answer, and I am already waiting for my copies of the rest of the books in The Chaos Walking Trilogy to arrive in the mail. So, even if my copy of A Monster Calls is an ebook (thanks, Aldrin!), I will definitely make an effort to finish the story.

Here is the book trailer of A Monster Calls which I found on Youtube:

 

a book in the mail!

This came in the mail today:

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller, in hardbound! Weee! 😀

The blurb about this book in Goodreads says:

The legendary love story, the bestselling hardcover novel of all time, and the major motion picture starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. This is the story of Robert Kincaid, the photographer and free spirit searching for the covered bridges of Madison County, and Francesca Johnson, the farm wife waiting for fulfillment of a girlhood dream. It shows readers what it is to love and be loved so intensely that life is never the same again.

I have not watched the movie yet. But I already have the sequel, A Thousand Country Roads, in paperback which I bought frfom Booksale for just Php5.00. Can’t wait to have a reading marathon of these two books. Maybe, one weekend. Soon! 😀

Thanks KD, for this very surprising and early birthday gift. 🙂

CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BABOON/Paul Zindel

image from Goodreads

First off, a baboon is defined as “any of several large African and Asian monkeys having long squarish muzzles and usually short tails” (quoted from here). This is what a baboon looks like:

image from Wikipedia

I first encountered Paul Zindel in his famous novelette, The Pigman, and though I have a faint recollection about the story, I strongly remember how I liked it then. So, seeing a copy of this book at Booksale, I cannot pass up the opportunity to read another one of his novels.

Confessions of a Teenage Baboon is a coming-of-age story of sixteen year-old Christopher Boyd who has to live with his nurse/caregiver mother caring for a demented old lady named Carmelita Dipardi. Carmelita has a 30-year old son, Lloyd, who is a drunk and has taken an interest on teaching Chris a thing or two about life.

 Confessions of a Teenage Baboon is a dark, melancholic story, with dark, melancholic characters but I like how it ended – deeply moving and hopeful. Paul Zindel writes both with humor and wit and his analogies aren’t the clichés I often get to read in some other books. At first, Chris seems to be a normal boy but his troubles and struggles are slowly revealed one by one as the story progressed. It was not until I have finished reading when I finally understood who the “teenage baboon” in the title is being referred to in the story.

A very good read, short but pregnant with thoughts worthy of discussion. What does it really mean to be a man?

4 stars.

30/50 2011 Goodreads Reading Goal.

where are those reviews?

Ever since setting up this site, I managed to finish only 4 books. Which means I have 4 books on pile, the reviews of which are waiting to be posted in this supposedly book blog.

Before my to-write-review pile becomes a real pile, and thus altogether making me even more the lazier to write full length reviews (as in over 500 words kind of review), here are short plot summaries and my quick reviews. I hope I could get around to writing the reviews for each of them. If only I am not always distracted by office work. Sigh. Haha!

The Divide by Nicholas Evans

This is a story of Ben, Sarah, Abbie and Josh, who started as a happy family with their regular summer vacations to the ranches of Colorado, until a series of events began to tear them apart, eventually leading to the tragic death of Abbie. The story opens with two skiers who found a body embedded under the ice, which turned out to be Abbie. Ben and Sarah, now divorced, meet again and unavoidably, the pains of the past returns to haunt them. The book then proceeds to show in  “flashback”, the love story of Ben and Sarah, the journey of Abbie into becoming an eco-activist and a wanted criminal, of how Josh dealt in his growing up years the separation of his parents and the disappearance of Abbie.

I gave this book 4 stars. I liked it much but not well enough to give it full 5 stars.

Nicholas Evans has been a favorite ever since I read The Horse Whisperer. I loved the characters in this book and how intricate their personalities were. The Divide tells of the divide between men and women, parents and children, lovers, siblings. The mystery surrounding Abbie’s death keeps the pace going and the circumstances that  made the family fall apart is worth thinking over even after you turn the last page.

SeinLanguage by Jerry Seinfield

This is a collection of short essays by Jerry Seinfield. A light read with short quips and anecdotes about everything under the sun — topics about differences about men and women, about a suit and dying, about travelling, the theater, and arranging furniture in an apartment, among others. Definitely a quick read (consists of only 192 pages) and guaranteed not give you any headaches, well except maybe after some laughs. I liked it well enough even if I don’t know who Jerry Seinfield is.

4 stars.

The Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz

A year has passed since little Danny’s death – a year since his mother began the painful process of acceptance. But tonight, Tina Evans swore she saw her Danny in a stranger’s car. Then she dreamed that Danny was alive. And when she awoke, she found a message waiting for her in Danny’s bedroom – NOT DEAD. Was this a grim joke? Or something more? For Tina Evans, it was a mystery she couldn’t escape. An obsession that would lead her from the bright lights of Las Vegas to the cold shadows of the High Sierras.

I am a gushing Dean Koontz fan and I hate doing this but I gave this book 2 stars.

Probably because Eyes of Darkness is one of his “old” novels, first published in 1981 under the pseudonym Leigh Nichols. The pace is there though only picking up after the first 6 chapters or so. Tina Evans is a likeable “mother” character but Elliot Stryker strikes me as a character whose background wasn’t well developed enough to be believable. The romance is shallow and predictable. The paranormal aspects of the story didn’t add to its appeal too. But this doesn’t mean I now like Dean Koontz less.

The Noah Confessions by Barbara Hall

Lynnie is turning 16 and all along she had been expecting to get a car as a birthday present. What she got instead was an old bracelet owned by her dead mother. Utterly devastated, she cut classes and went surfing. Her dad was mad of course but instead of grounding her, he hands her a box of manuscript and says, “Your mother wanted you to have this when it seemed you were losing perspective. I think now’s the time.”

The manuscript was written by Lynnie’s dead mother and contains family secrets and tragedies in the past – circumstances that would affect Lynnie’s choices in the future.

I am not much of a YA reader, in fact this could be the first YA fiction I have ever read (except of course the Sweet Valley, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books from way back), but I just couldn’t pass upon a Php 30 book from National Bookstore, so I gave YA fiction a chance.

This book was okay, I gave it 2 stars. It was an easy read. I breezed through the pages and finished sooner than I expected. I however found tiring, boring at times, the parts about reading the letters addressed to Noah. And the suspense about the crime committed by Lynnie’s mother during her teenage years was a little exaggerated I felt like I was listening to a radio drama or soap opera.

Call me shallow but I just don’t get the connection between Lynnie’s longing to have a car as a birthday present and the box of manuscript owned by her dead mother that she got instead. There are parts at the ending that I liked, a topic I wanted to talk about more thoroughly when I get around to writing a more decent review of this book in the future.

So there. I hope I have at least fulfilled the objective of this site which is to talk about books. 🙂

Before I end, let me tell you what’s in my currently-reading shelf these days.

I’m already on page 258 of 353. A little less than a hundred pages and I’m done.

This is the first book in the Prey series (consisting of 21 books) and even though I have already read the other books before this, I don’t mind. Lucas Davenport, the cop protagonist is like-able, as always and the chilling pace is quick and exciting. How will Lucas Davenport catch Louis Vuillon, a lawyer and a brilliant serial killer? This I will eventually find out.

Tonight. 🙂