Once more, another summer has come to a close, and the school year is upon us yet again. Like last year, I’m posting a list of what I’ve read and watched, and where I wound up eating whether with the family, or on my own, over the long summer break. With each entry is a short commentary, which will hopefully be helpful should you decide to pick up the book, watch the DVD, or visit the restaurant. Note: Apparently, just the books so far is going to make a long post, so I'll be breaking this up into two or three parts.
1. Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, The Arctic Expedition, The Eternity Code, The Opal Deception, The Lost Colony, The Time Paradox) – Eoin Colfer
I’d gotten the first five books of Colfer’s answer to Harry Potter last year, and, although I’d read the first two books, I didn’t get around to reading the rest of the series over the summer; in addition, I picked up the sixth book this month. Artemis Fowl is a criminal genius, and at the start of the series, he is only twelve. With his father gone missing in the Arctic, and his mother in a state of delirium over his loss, Artemis is driven to desperate measures to replenish his family fortune. And what better way than to capture a fairy and force it to give up its gold? However, the fairies that populate Artemis Fowl’s world are a very different story from the flighty pixies and sprites scattered in our stories. Fowl, to his delight and dismay, discovers how dangerous the fairy world can be.
It’s obvious that the Artemis Fowl stories are geared for a younger (10-12 years) audience, as the language is fairly straightforward. Still, it is an interesting series, as Fowl and his fairy adversaries are forced by circumstances to join forces again and again, and, as they do, a mutual respect grows between them.
2. The Dresden Files (Storm Front, Summer Knight, Small Favor) – Jim Butcher
When I got Fool Moon, my first book about magician Harry Dresden, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the story, which revolved around a modern day magician living in Chicago, offering his services for a fee. Still, since one of my friends had the complete collection, I thought I’d borrow his books to get a better feel of the series.
It was after Summer Knight that I was finally hooked to the series. Author Jim Butcher slowly guided us into a world so much like our own, but so very different. Dresden’s world is of two parts, the real and the supernatural, and populated by characters who are very compelling. Told through the point of view of Harry Dresden, the series reads like a hard-boiled detective novel with a good dash of magic thrown in for good effect.
3. Shadow of Doubt – Marites Vitug
This book has generated a lot of controversy, as Vitug takes a no-holds-barred look at the Supreme Court. It was controversial enough that National Book Store, the country’s biggest bookstore chain, has refused to stock it; I had to get my copy from Fully Booked.
The content of the book itself is shocking to say the least, as Vitug attempts to strip the Court of its veil of secrecy and expose its inner workings. In doing so, she also exposes the many and varied sins of the various Justices of the Court; in particular, she appears to have trained her guns on Justices Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Renato Corona, and Chief Justice Reynato Puno, as a good amount of the book is devoted to these three.
However, she appears to be all praises for Justice Antonio Carpio; in fact, nowhere in her book does she deliver any dirt on Carpio.
In sum, Shadow of Doubt reads like one of those tell-all unauthorized biographies wherein the author appears to have some ulterior motive behind the surface reason of giving the “juicy” details about her subject.
4. The Lovely Bones –Alice Sebold
One of my friends used this in a book sharing with the faculty a few years ago, and it’s only now that I got to finally finish it.
The Lovely Bones is told from the point of view of a murdered girl, as she observes the members of her family, her friends and her murderer, from her slice of heaven, as they go through their lives after her disappearance.
Aside from being a unique perspective, the author manages to capture the grief and the emotions that Susie’s family goes through as they try to make sense of their tragedy. It’s also realistic as it shows the imperfections of the various family members; while it doesn’t go to the extreme and display a negative ending, it also doesn’t have a fairy tale ending where everyone lives happily ever after.
5 Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett
This is a reread, and it’s always entertaining, as both Gaiman and Prachett wrote this as a lark. As Gaiman observed in an interview, it’s unlikely that we’ll see them collaborate on another work without a ream of legal work to wade through before they can start anything.
Good Omens is their telling of a possible apocalypse, and how it was averted. I’d rather not say anything much about it, and prefer that you read it for yourself.
6. The Edge Chronicles (Beyond the Deepwoods, Stormchaser, Midnight Over Sanctaphrax) – Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Another reread, The Edge Chronicles is the fanciful creation of writer Paul Stewart and artist Chris Riddell. The Edge is a world unlike any other fantasy world, full of danger and strange creatures. It’s as if Stewart and Riddell were compelled to create something so far away from the traditional notions of fantasy, and, in doing so, created something so interestingly weird.
The trilogy I read is part of a nine-book compilation, wherein each trilogy focuses around a central character who has a role to play in the next trilogy. The trilogy revolves around Twig, an apparent orphan adopted by tradition and routine-bound Woodtrolls, who live their lives always following their well-worn paths. When Twig decides to search for his true parents, it is when his adventures begin.