Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Books’

Waiting for The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

September 01, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books No Comments →


Over coffee we confessed that we are literary snobs. We judge people according to what they read. We think the label “Young Adult” disparages the intellectual capacity of adolescents. Deo does not read popular books unless they have been deemed worthy by the critics he listens to. Angus took some unfortunate stranger to task for thinking that Harry Potter was the greatest thing ever written.

We are all waiting for the same book: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.


According to Lola the fiction buyer of National Bookstore, The Bone Clocks is on order, along with the new Ian McEwan (We were not crazy about his previous book, which revisited terrain done better in The Innocent and Atonement. Read our review here). Both will probably ship this week, and we hope the congested port doesn’t cause a delay in transporting the books to the warehouse.

(“Then why don’t you get the e-book?” How clever you are. Because we want something we can hold, smell, and if we have to, throw across the room with great force.)

James Wood reviews The Bone Clocks in The New Yorker. Here’s the part where he sums up Mitchell’s work so far.

David Mitchell is a superb storyteller. He has an extraordinary facility with narrative: he can get a narrative rolling along faster than most writers, so that it is filled with its own mobile life. You feel that he can do anything he wants, in a variety of modes, and still convince. “Black Swan Green” (2006) is a funny and sweet-natured semi-autobiographical novel, conventionally told, about a boy growing up in a stifling Worcestershire village. “Cloud Atlas” (2004), his best-known book, is a brilliant postmodern suite, comprising six connected and overlapping novellas, set in such eras as the eighteen-fifties, the nineteen-thirties, the nineteen-seventies, and the dystopian future. His 2010 book, “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet,” is a more or less traditional historical novel, set in 1799, in the bay of Nagasaki, about relations between the Japanese and the Dutch. He has a marvellous sense of the real and of the unreal, and his best work keeps these elements in nice tension—a balancing of different vitalities. One of the reasons he is such a popular and critically lauded writer is that he combines both the giddy, freewheeling ceaselessness of the pure storyteller with the grounded realism of the humanist. There’s something for everyone, traditionalist or postmodernist, realist or fantasist; Mitchell is a steady entertainer. Pleasing his readership, he has said, is important to him: “One of the questions I always try to keep in the front of my mind is to ask why would anyone want to read this, and to try to find a positive answer for that. People’s time, if you bought it off them, is expensive. Someone’s going to give you eight or ten hours of their life. I want to give them something back, and I want it to be an enjoyable experience.”

Win 2 tickets to our Game of Thrones and Geekery talk at Ayala Museum

August 29, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Contest No Comments →


Let us know what your favorite fantasy novel is, when you first read it, and why you love it.

Word count: Knock yourself out. Be epic.

Criteria: Grammar and clarity. We think of ourselves as the Grammar Watch, defending The Wall against incoherence and unacceptable usage.

We are the red pencil in the darkness.
We are the watcher of the written word.
We are the fire that burns against ignorance and illiteracy,
the light that corrects syntax errors,
the horn that wakes those whose subjects and verbs do not agree,
the shield that guards grammar.

When an editor dies, we say, “And now her/his watch has ended.” As for the rest of the oath, we observe it at least as well as Jon Snow does.

Post your answer in Comments before noon on Wednesday, 3 September 2014. The winner will be announced the following day. The tickets can be claimed at the front desk of the Ayala Museum on the day of the lecture.

Coloring books for clever kids or adults who need therapy

August 29, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Books, Childhood, Sponsored 1 Comment →

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.



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





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 →

christopher priest

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 →

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!).


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 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).


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.


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.