Category Archives: Fantasy

Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 13th 2015
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 328 pages

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Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

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I have little knowledge about fairie folklore and such but I do really like fairytales. Don’t know why I haven’t read that many but I’ll try to read some from now on. This was my first Holly Black book and it was an okay read for me not that it blown me away or whatsoever. But I found myself having a hard time putting this book down.

It was the relationship between Hazel and Ben that drawn me in. Through the characters we see the real brother-and-sister relationship.

Remember the old days where you used to be inseparable with your sister or brother? Spending the whole day just playing whatever stuff that comes in to your mind and sometimes dreaming of becoming a prince or princess someday. But things have changed when you both grew up. And you miss it when the memories came rushing back. Well, Hazel misses it too. When she and her brother used to hunt monsters together and dreaming of saving a faerie prince and their town Fairfold. Then the day Ben insisted to stop hunting and the day they both started keeping secrets to themselves.

And if you think about it you’ll realize it’s realistic enough to be believable that it somehow hurts. Unlike with some books out there that offer the same perspective that siblings are naturally born enemies, it’s great to see a different angle of that kind of relationship like what Ben and Hazel do have.

“I know you, Benjamin Evans,” Severin said. “Remember?”

He kept forgetting that Severin knew him, knew more about him than any person in the world.

It was in fact the reason why I considered reading this. It is not many books with lgbt characters written by non-lgbt-themed authors. So whenever they do I never hesitate checking them out.

The Ben-Severin thing is actually cute and I loved their shared moments together but their relationship alone wasn’t well-executed.

Obviously, there are two main characters in the story, Hazel and Ben. But it felt like Hazel is the only important character and Ben is rather a secondary one, her shadow, a background tree in a stage play. Poor Benjamin. I mean, there are barely scenes of him, I counted two or three chapters only. And most of them are told in a distant perspective. I never get to know who Ben really is. Let alone, Severin.

The spotlights are all to Hazel. She gets all the adventure, the thrill, the fun, the cool stuff. It bored the story, actually. And I was like, one more Hazel’s pov and I’m gonna put this down.

So when Ben and Severin started showing up again and whatever those things they do look foreign to us. Especially that surprising moment when Severin confessed his true feelings for Ben. Okay, I’ll be honest enough that it actually made my day. *Blush*

But it more felt like this:
O-okay? That’s cool bro. Not against it, really. But how come?

Yeah. That’s it. How come.

We need to see how it happened. You need to show us the development. How Severin came to that conclusion.

But all in all, it’s a good book. There’s a HEA. Interesting characters and plot. A beautiful setting. And a handsome faerie prince who loves a guy named, Benjamin.

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Review: Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

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Title: Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods
Author: Rick Riordan, John Rocco (Illustrator)
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: August 19th 2014
Series or Standalone: Standalone but a companion to Percy Jackson & Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series
Format: Paperback, 336 pages

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A publisher in New York asked me to write down what I know about the Greek gods, and I was like, Can we do this anonymously? Because I don’t need the Olympians mad at me again. But if it helps you to know your Greek gods, and survive an encounter with them if they ever show up in your face, then I guess writing all this down will be my good deed for the week.

So begins Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, in which the son of Poseidon adds his own magic–and sarcastic asides–to the classics. He explains how the world was created, then gives readers his personal take on a who’s who of ancients, from Apollo to Zeus.  Percy does not hold back.

“If you like horror shows, blood baths, lying, stealing, backstabbing, and cannibalism, then read on, because it definitely was a Golden Age for all that.”

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Rick Riordan made me love the greek mythology. No doubt with that. But I have zero intention of reading the actual greek mythology. Just seeing that thick book with the smallest font I’ve ever seen before. My brain says no. My body says no.

This book is actually a compilation of different stories of the twelve olympians and some gods and titans. Hades, Artemis, Persephone, Zeus, Atlas, Hestia and everyone. Name it. Every stories is narrated by Percy Jackson himself. So imagine a 21st century teenager telling you all this greek stuff with overloaded persassyness (if such word exists) on it. Just imagine. Cool right? The stories never get boring with Percy’s pov. It never will. You know. It’s Percy. And John Rocco’s stunning artwork made the book more enjoyable. I mean, I literally spent more than a minute devouring its beauty. Yeah, that’s me.

Unlike Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series which are both middle grade. Is HoO middle grade or young adult? It confuses me, actually. But I don’t think this one is. Why? It contains rapes in different forms. Yes. Zeus in snake form to snake-Demeter or horse-Poseidon to horse-mortal woman? nymph? (I forgot, sorry). Do you think it’s weird enough? Wait and see.

It also includes putting your ugly children down to underworld, killing your own dad, swallowing whole your children, killing your own baby-eating-dad, cooking your own son into stew, and kidnapping a goddess to make her as a wife. You know. Just a typical day for your favorite gods.

Well if you’re a fan and a demigod, this is a must-read for you. And Percy narrates it!!!! I know you miss him too as much as I do. Higly recommended.

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Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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Title: Vicious
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: September 24th 2013
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 340 pages

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A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability.

Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

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“I want to believe that there’s more. That we could be more. Hell, we could be heroes.”

Time really passes by quickly. I remember myself that day lying on my bed while cuddling with my pillow and eagerly holding my phone. Reading a book from an author unknown to me with no expectations at all. Without realizing that it’d be one of my favorite reads of all time. That it wouldn’t be my last read from her. Now, it’s been months since the last time I read something form her that only I realized after reading this, how much I missed Victoria Schwab’s writing. Her irresistible and addictive writing.

I really don’t how to make this review proper but let’s start things off by saying, Vicious suprised me. And I really had a hard time putting this book down that I had to stay up till 4 in the morning just to finish it. Every pages read leaving you craving for more.

Even the story takes us into different set of times. Last night. 10 years ago. A week ago. Two days ago. Last year. This morning. It might be a confusing way of telling a story but Schwab handled it very well. Because the excitement never breaks and it made the story unique and beautiful. And it amazes me how she managed to do it because it’s not every day you come across with that kind of writing style and it’s a tricky way to handle with. Because some books failed to do that.

Every one of the characters even the secondary ones is used well in the story. I mean, they’re not there just to become someone’s life background. Everyone has something to do with the development of the plot and it’s easy to make a connection with them.

I particularly liked the partnership of the three: Victor, Mitch, and Sydney. Despite their differences the group still fits perfectly together. And I liked it how they trust each other even if it means death.

Victor. I liked how he handles himself as the group’s leader that he really knows what he’s doing. And how he plans things out, is incredibly cool. Especially how he ends the story which have left me in awe. Because I didn’t really see it coming. And probably that’s one of the best conclusion I’ve ever seen. Mitch, despite his hulking appearance with tattoos all over his body. A good heart rests in him and Sydney is just adorable. She turns out to be this strong character with a great determination but the innocence is still visible.

Well I had zero sympathy with Eli. He reminds of Teren from The Young Elites and of Light from Death Note. He’s given his own pov so we get to see what’s going on in his mind. Eli thinks EOs are unnatural and affront to nature, and to god. And what ever reasons that crawl in his mind, I just don’t buy them. And calling himself as ‘god’s servant’ by eradicating all EOs. What? Don’t. You’re messed up, dude.

I thoroughly enjoyed it considering this is Schwab’s first adult book. And it’s interesting to associate NDE with creating EOs and the explanation is pretty simple not the brain-cell-burning way. Highly recommended!

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Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

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Title: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 7th 2014
Series or Standalone: The Young Elites #1
Format: Hardcover, 355 pages

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I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen. Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

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“I am Adelina Amouteru. I belong to no one. On this night, I swear to you that I will rise above everything you’ve ever taught me. I will become a force that this world has never known. I will come into such power that none will dare hurt me again.”

This book gave me a lot of FEELS. Marie Lu did a great job playing with my freaking emotions throughout the story. While her other books didn’t really appeal to me, I was suprised that I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I had so much fun with it.

Adelina. I liked this girl so much not just because she’s a strong heroine but every time I leaf through the pages, this girl always comes with a suprise. She always has something new to offer. That there’s more of her and all the characters in the story. And that excites me and increases my anticipation for the next installment. And Adelina is a complex character, battling with darkness and fury that’s engulfing her that makes her a threat to everyone.

Every characters has depth in them even Teren, the bad guy, has given his own pov so there’s an explanation behind his wrong doings. I liked all the members of the Dagger Society, they’re fantastic especially Rafaelle. Yes, this guy almost gave me an heart attack that I was like: Don’t you ever try to hurt him, Marie Lu, or the world will see my wrath. Yeah.

This is dark fantasy so expect to see tons of dead people. Because deaths are everywhere. And if you’re looking for a chessy romance, never mind about that because it’ll just break your heart. Trust me.

The conclusion is very satisfying that leaves me with a high expectation and that terrifies me. We’re promised to see more awesome and cool new characters. A stronger Adelina with a new purpose and great determination. And of course, more of Rafaelle (with his love interest *hoping*).

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Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness; Jim Kay (Illustrator); Siobhan Dowd (Conception)
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: September 27th 2011
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 215 pages

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The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one 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 is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it
wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

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This is my first Patrick Ness book and it’s good and heartbreaking. It really did touch my heart and if the story ended up with 5 or so more pages, I would have been crying right now. Almost.

The book is well-written and imaginative with a simple narrative that follows the story of Connor O’Malley, whose mom is suffering from a cancer. He’s father left them with a new family. And everyone at school—his teachers, obviously shows their pity towards him. And those thing hurt him.

It is about loss and letting go of someone who really matters to you the most. Forgiving everyone and even yourself.

But I could have given this a perfect 5 stars if it is not the lack of characterization. Everyone is interesting. I like Harry and Lily and even Connor’s grandmother. Maybe a little bit more details about them would do. And I also liked the banter between Connor and the monster. That there is still a room for funny moments in this sad story.

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Review: Fury by Elizabeth Miles

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Title: Fury
Author: Elizabeth Miles
Publisher: Simon Pluse
Publication Date: August 30th 2011
Series or Standalone: Fury #1
Format: Paperback, 370 pages

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Sometimes sorry isn’t enough….

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems… Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better—the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel…something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay. Em and Chase have been chosen.

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This book has been sitting pretty on my sister’s shelf for who knows how long. Maybe a year. The cover is gorgeous, yes. And probably the reason why she bought this but eventually ended up not liking it. She hated it. And I didn’t have any plan on reading it too. But look at the cover, it really is beautiful and it’s seducing me. So when curiousity striked I picked this up on a whim and hoped I made the right choice.

Did I like the book? NO. I should have followed my sister. Fury  is a cover fraud. Don’t trust it, it’s a trap.

For the first 50% or so, I had no idea what was really going on. Or what the whole thing was all about. I was entirely clueless. And found out that this is about three shallow and stupid Furies who came/lived in Ascension to punish bad teenagers. Seriously, why them? What about the murderers? rapists? corrupt politicians? drug dealers? thieves? Ever think about them? Argh.

And the characters. Jeez, they’re boring and too predictable that I might have just put this down.

Emily or Em for short, this girl has never failed to annoy me. She’s too busy focusing all her attention to her bestfriend’s boyfriend, Zach, on how to get a chance on him, not to notice JD’s feeling for her. Which is so freaking obvious because the moment JD appeared in the very first chapter, it’s clear to the readers that this guy has something for Em.

It’s only then she realized that she loves JD and he loves her back when everything turned up against her. Freak.

And Chase. Okay, this is a spoiler so close your eyes and proceed to the next part. The only likeable character in the story and yet he is killed. Booo!! *throw tomatoes* I’d rather see both Em and JD covered in cement. Or that Gabby die in a plane crash. Anyone but Chase!

The plot is very predictable that it loses your reading interest. And the characters are tiresome.

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Review: Kian’s Hunter by R.J. Scott

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Title: Kian’s Hunter
Author: R.J. Scott
Publisher: Love Lane Books
Publication Date: March 19th 2014
Series or Standalone: Fire #1
Format: eBook, 2nd edition, 102 pages

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Please note, this book was originally a short story written in 2010. This version is inspired by that short story and is a complete re-write.

Kian has crossed over from his world to ours to seek revenge. His plan is to kill the monster who murdered his Uncle. The same monster who used magic to escape to our world and is hiding here and growing in strength.

Regan Campbell is a hunter of Demons. The first son, of a first son, he is the one who protects this world from the monsters that no one else knows are here. When Kian reaches this world, he knows Regan is the perfect man to fight alongside him, but Regan trusts no one. It isn’t until they are facing death and a terrible evil that will be let loose, that Regan finally realises he can trust another…his fated partner, Kian.

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This is a good story to start off the Fire Trilogy. The world bulding is pretty good and interesting with a parallel world concept, Fire magik, and demons. However, the two main characters, Kian and Regan, didn’t sit well with me. They are likeable MC’s but everytime Regan and Kian do something, they seem so distant to me that they are actually in there but I barely feel them. Eventhough the story is always about them still there’s no attachment made. And also, the story lacks chemistry. I did not see the spark when they become lovers, and their relationship looks forced.

The fighting scene against the Danio, which is supposed to be the strongest demon, is not handled well. They finished it off like a piece of cake. Though, I loved the magik fire idea, the demon hunting, and the bond thing. Those are interesting.

I think I’ll continue with the series. But I’m looking forward to the next installment that the MCs would be able to explore their world. Not just by Kian narrating it. Because there are some parts left vague in the plot and I want those to be cleared. And also I’m curious about who Darach really is.

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Review: Henni by Miss Lasko-Gross

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Title: Henni
Author: Miss Lasko-Gross
Publisher: Z2 Comics
Publication Date: January 20th 2015
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 168 pages
Source: eARC from the Publisher via NetGalley

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In a fantastical world where old traditions and religion dominate every aspect of life, lives a girl named Henni. Unlike most in her village, Henni questions and wonders what the world is like as she comes of age. Striking out on her own, Henni goes out in search of truth, adventure, and more!

Written and drawn by Miss Lasko-Gross (A Mess of Everything and Escape From Special), Henni is a commentary on religion, coming of age and being yourself.

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A cat-like girl named Henni lives in a society where a false religion and old tradition dominate everyone. With Henni’s curiosity, as she grows up, she tends to question everything around her whether if it is right or wrong. And aparrently finds herself looking for answers.

I easily find myself liking Henni, for she is a very bold and witty character who didn’t let her surrounding controls her life. And has a great determination in seeking the truth. The Disruptor is also a lovable character who owns a true heart of an artist. Because he never stops doing what he loves despite the fact that both of his eyes are removed and the city that continuously ruins all his works.

Miss Lasko-Gross addresses many issues in this story: the old traditions, religion, gender inequality, and the caste system-like society. Where Miss still able to carry out the issues cleverly till the end of the story. A simple story yet holds a strong message.

Henni ends in an abrupt way but I’d love to see if there’s going to be a next installation. The story obviously targets the younger audiences but teenagers alike will also find this good. Recommended!

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Review: Stones of Power by Azumi Isora

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Title: Stones of Power
Author: Azumi Isora
Publisher: Gen Manga Entertainment
Publication Date: December 30th 2014
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 168 pages
Source: eARC from the Publisher via NetGalley

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Cafe Renard seems to be your run-of-the-mill establishment, but it is more than meets the eye. When strangers stumble upon the hidden secret within an average business front, they find a mysterious woman selling stones with magical properties. Before they know it they are transported on strange adventures of science fiction and fantasy.

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It is tough giving this manga a one star. And I really tried hard to devour everything the author has offered in this story. But that everything fails to keep my interest. The endless fish and the magic stone talking are tiresome in some way. I mean it is good that Isora includes facts about those expensive fishes and those power stones. But it overshadows the other elements of the story, like the characters. She digs out to much information about fishes and stones and almost forgets that there are actually people in the story to fill in. Which leads all the character to voice out every bit of informations about them to the readers. So it is like watching a commercial on tv, endorsing their product to the audience with a boring script. So I felt disengaged with all the characters. And only know one thing about them: they like fish. Gahh, fish again.

And after all that fishy thing talking, here comes a big big ball from only god knows where that holds a powerful monster or a snake something. And follows many things that no one seems to care about. And for the artwork, it’s drawn like your typical manga. So no emphasizing on that part.

I’m not really sure if I’m going to recommend this manga. Maybe no. And before I end this review let me tell you something, this thing really bugs me from the very start, it’s the Cafe Renan.This may be a petty observation but I haven’t seen any other customers in the cafe nor the siblings serving coffee to anyone in the entire manga. But I’ve seen them selling stones but never a single cup of coffee. Nor doing any coffee related stuff. See? I told you it’s not really important.

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Review: Kapitan Sino by Bob Ong

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Title: Kapitan Sino
Author: Bob Ong
Publisher: Visprint
Publication Date: May 2009
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 166 pages

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THERE IS SOMETHING STRANGE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

Naunahan na naman ang mga pulis sa pagtugis sa mga holdaper ng isang jewelry shop. Bago noon, may iba na ring nakahuli sa isang carnaper; sumaklolo sa mga taong nasa itaas ng nasusunog na building; nagligtas sa sanggol na hinostage ng ama; tumulong para makatawid sa kalsada ang isnag matanda; tumiklo sa mga miyembro ng Akyat Bahay; sumagip sa mga mag-anak na tinagay ng tubig-baha; naglanding ng maayos sa isang Boeing 747 na nasiraan ng engine; at nagpasabog sa isang higanteng robot. Pero sino ang taong ‘yon? Maliligtas nya ba sila Aling Baby? At ano nga ba talaga ang sabon ng mga artista?

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Matagal ko nang nabasa yung libro pero ngayon ko pa lang gagawan ng review XD

Ang kwento ay umiikot kay Rogelio Manglicmot na sa kalaunan ay nalaman niya at ng kanyang kaibigan na si Bok-bok na may kakaiba siyang kapangyarihan.

Nang matutunan na ni Rogelio na kontrolin ang kanyang kapangyarihan at napagdesisyunan niyang maging isang Hero sa pangalan na ‘Kapitan Sino’. At nang malaman ni Rogelio na isang halimaw ang anak ng mayor ay tinalo niya ito. Pero halos nawalan na siya ni lakas ng loob ng mabuhay pa nang mamatay ang kanyang kasintahang si Tessa na siyang huling biktima ng halimaw.

Hanggang sa isang araw lumaganap amg isang epidemya at lahat ng mamamayan ay despiradong makahanap ng lunas. Napag-alaman ng kinauukulan na ang dugo ni Rogelio ay maaaring maging lunas.

Nagtapos ang kwento ng may makasalubong siyang isang amang may dala dalang batang may sakit at sinaksak nito si Rogelio nang malamang ang dugo nito ay ang lunas.

OKAY. Maikli lang yung libro gaya ng ibang akda ni Bob Ong. Isa ako sa mga tagahanga ni Bob Ong, at isa to sa mga kwentong muntik nang magpaiyak sa akin. Pero medyo naboring ako sa pagbabasa kasi medyo common na yung plot. Pero gaya ng ibang akda, pinapakita dito ang buhay buhay nating mga pilipino. Inilalarawan ng libro kung papaano madaling makalimot ang mga pilipino sa mga nagawa ng mga bayani sa ating bansa. Na sa kabila ng ginawa nilang mga kabutihan sa ating bayan, hindi nabibigyan ng halaga.

Yun lang.

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