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Archive for the ‘Books’

Coloring books for clever kids or adults who need therapy

August 29, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Books, Childhood, Sponsored No Comments →

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Crayons, 96 colors, Php409 at National Bookstores

Your crayon coloring technique says a lot about you. As a kid we would press the crayon heavily onto the page, leaving a thick layer of color, and then we would scrape off the layers so the color would look light. Why didn’t we just color lightly, then? We don’t know.

We went through several boxes of crayons that way. You know those 48-color sets that came in a box with a built-in sharpener? We kept sharpening the crayons till nothing was left.

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Why didn’t we have these coloring books when we were kids?

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Coloring books, Php295 at National Bookstores

Bedtime story: The Thing read-along book

August 22, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies No Comments →


via the A.V. Club

Where are our Star Trek fotonovels??

The Completist Chronicles: Christopher Priest

August 21, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 2 Comments →

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A few years ago we picked up The Separation by Christopher Priest and found we could not put it down until we had gotten to the very end. We do enjoy books that question what we know, what we remember, and what is real. Then we swore we would read everything Christopher Priest had ever written. We have yet to make good on that oath—whenever we like a book, we resolve to read all the books by that author, hence our enormous backlog—but we will get around to it. While checking out recent releases at National Bookstore, we found a reissue of an early Priest novel The Affirmation (Php315) and the 2011 novel The Islanders (Php315). And he has a new novel called The Adjacent so we should get cracking before he puts out any more books.

Binge-watching: Vikings

August 19, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, History, Television 3 Comments →

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All photos from the History Channel site.

We like swords, carnage, and medieval history, so we’re watching Vikings. It’s the first drama series from the History Channel, created by Michael Hirst who was behind The Tudors, The Borgias, and Camelot.

The Vikings were a race of seafaring Nordic badasses who went on marauding expeditions to Europe, Russia, all the way to North America. They were large, terrifying warriors who not only did not fear death, they went looking for it. To die a glorious death in battle meant that they would be taken by Valkyrie maidens to Valhalla, where they would feast in the great hall of Odin.

Vikings follows the adventures of the Ragnar Lothbrok, legendary hero of Norse sagas. Here he is with an unfortunate haircut and a stare that makes him look like an inbred redneck (We hear banjoes! Flee!).

Ragnar

When we meet him in the first season, he is a young farmer with a wife and two small kids, but what he really wants to do is sail west to loot and pillage. That was the common job description at the time: Farmer/Marauder. His earl has grown over-cautious and doesn’t believe there’s anything in the west. So Ragnar asks his best friend Floki to secretly build a ship that can sail great distances using primitive GPS technology.

Floki

Floki is played by Gustaf Skarsgard, son of Stellan, brother of the hot vampire on True Blood. (Yup, that’s the genetic lottery for you.) We don’t watch True Blood but our sister has Alexander Skarsgard on her Google alerts and of course we’ve seen his naked GIFs. The eccentric Floki is said to be descended from the trickster god Loki (Hoy, cute si Loki ha).

Rollo

Ragnar has a good-looking brother named Rollo who is a great fighter but is deeply jealous of Ragnar. Bad enough that everyone considers him the spare, but Rollo is also in love with Ragnar’s wife, the shieldmaiden Lagertha.

Lagertha

Some scholars believe that in Viking culture, the women could fight along with the men. Lagertha cooks and raises the children, but she also gets ticked off when Ragnar goes off marauding without her.

On one raid Ragnar captures an Anglo-Saxon monk named Athelstan, who becomes his slave and later his friend. The Athelstan character lets us see the differences between the Viking and Christian cultures. The Vikings have a very open and healthy attitude towards sex (Rollo: Where are your parents? Bjorn: They’re having sex). The Christians are stuck up and fearful, and Athelstan nervously declines when he gets invited to a threesome.

On the show the Vikings look filthy, but they were definitely cleaner than the monks, who never bathed. They live in what is now Denmark, so they should look like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones). And if axe-wielding Nikolaj Coster-Waldaus are coming at you, surrender and ask for their autograph.

Rating: Highly recommended.

In one Comp Lit course we had to read Scandinavian sagas. Along with the Volsunga, we read the Njala, which is also called Burnt Njal. We don’t remember any of it, except that part where the hero Njal is besieged in his house and he valiantly fights off the invaders with bow and arrow. Unfortunately his bowstrings snap, so he turns to his wife and asks her to braid her hair into a bowstring. And she says something like, “Remember two months ago when you hit me?” and refuses to give her hair to his defense. She leaves, and Njal’s enemies surround his house and burn it down with him in it. That’s why it’s called Burnt Njal.

The Super-Morphing GIF

August 15, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Movies No Comments →

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Watch them all morphing into each other, superheroes and their nemeses. Nemesises. Nemesi.

From I Raff I Ruse, via io9.

Reading year 2014: In George R.R. Martin’s Westeros prequel, the thrill of battle and the horror of war

August 14, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Television 4 Comments →

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Dangerous Women, all new tales of powerful women from Jim Butcher (We love The Dresden Files), Diana Gabaldon, Lev Grossman, Brandon Sanderson, George R.R. Martin et al. Edited by GRRM and Gardner Dozois. Hardcover, Php1399 at National Bookstores.

We were so excited to read the new George R.R. Martin novella, a prequel to A Song of Ice and Fire, that we unwrapped the doorstop-size book while we were standing in the taxi queue at Glorietta 4. That’s when we were approached by a beggar who said he needed money to buy medicine, whereupon he lifted his pants leg to show his blackened, swollen leg. So we gave him all the change in our pocket, which must’ve been around ten bucks. He seemed to really be ill, and to be honest we just wanted him to stop showing us his leg. He looked at the coins and said, “Ah. Change.” Then he went away, looking peeved and making us sorry we had given him anything.

That has nothing to do with the book, we just thought we’d mention it.

The novella The Princess and the Queen, or The Blacks and the Greens is about one of the civil wars that rocked Westeros centuries before the events in A Song of Ice and Fire. Specifically, the war among the Targaryens known as The Dance of Dragons. At 81 pages, this novella is 20 times more eventful than A Dance with Dragons, the fifth volume of Martin’s epic. That one was a slog, with entire chapters that read like filler, and too much mooning about love by Daenerys (Get a grip, you have a kingdom to reconquer). We confess that we skipped many sections, which we will probably regret once all the plots are resolved.

The Princess and the Queen does away with the interior monologues and most of the dialogue, focusing instead on the major events following the death of Viserys I Targaryen. His eldest daughter Rhaenyra was presumed to be his heir, but his second wife Alicent decided it would be better for Westeros if her son Aegon II succeeded to the Iron Throne. Both sides have dragons, and the sections on how one becomes a dragonrider could provide material for a whole book. (Don’t tell George, it’ll distract him some more.)

The Princess and the Queen reads like those medieval chronicles enumerating the warriors and their most prominent qualities, then telling us how they died. It is brutal and efficient, and you can imagine the author cackling at the wonderful names he’s invented (And then howling at the twists he puts his characters through). There is plenty of carnage, and in case we enjoy the bloodletting too much, the sorrow and the pity of war. Conspiracy! Treachery! And best of all, aerial battles involving dragons, whom we respond to as if they were human.

A Song of Fire and Ice is said to be loosely based on the Hundred Years’ War in British history; The Princess and the Queen seems to draw from events in The Anarchy, in which the king’s daughter Matilda asserted her right to the throne over the male claimants. Or maybe it doesn’t. Our point is that shocking as the events in Game of Thrones may be, most of them happened in real life.

We mean no disrespect towards the other authors, whose stories we will now read.

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The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Mass market paperback, Php415 at National Bookstores.

We’ve been seeing rave reviews of the TV series The Outlander, which we would view unhesitatingly if it weren’t produced by Starz. Has anyone seen it? The photos look Highlander-ish. According to the book blurb it is a historical time-travel romance; we’ll give it a whack.

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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami. Hardcover, Php885 at National Bookstores.

Another year, another Murakami book.

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Jacket and binding design by Chip Kidd, who also did the terrific IQ84 cover.