Archive for June 2010
I am impressed enough by the premise of the book. A group of mortals infused with the spirits of celestial beings, guarding against unruly spirits and ghosts. A Byronic figure waiting for his goddess to return as the seventh member of that group. And a girl white as snow with strange visions. The story takes off from the Persephone myth, then twists it.
If she didn’t think herself handicapped by strange looks, I bet she’d be a flirt.
Which I’m not sure I liked, fond as I am of the story of Hades’s cruel passion for the girl forbidden to him. But I can live with that. The Gothic imagery and chase scenes across the slums of London are captivating, and all the grandiose gestures make for cinematic appeal.
My problem with this book is Miss Percy Parker who is supposedly timid but just comes across as vulgar with her exaggerated protestations of her “deformity.” She sounds like a whipped cur most of the time, irritatingly needy.
I can’t relate to her and, except for Alexi and Rebecca, the others of the Guard who have little to no personality to speak of. Do they have a purpose aside from making the number?
Beautiful, strangely not quite.
Who is that unseen narrator? So melodramatic.
Is there a burden more terrifying than the knowledge that one day the man you love will destroy your family? Lia, daughter of Rue and Kit of The Smoke Thief, has dreamt of the future for years. In her dreams, Zane, urchin thief who served her mother, has become a ruthless, master thief. Wielding Draumr, a diamond with the power to enslave the drakons, creatures of legend who can shift from human to smoke to dragon at will, he will turn Lia’s world upside down, and she will let him.
But before that future comes, Lia sets out to find Draumr first. As Lia does not seem to possess the power to turn, she was not as well guarded as her siblings by her people, and managed to sneak away. This is still a no mean feat as Drakon society embraces its women in a velvet-covered vice. Worried about the potential harm of the diamond, her parents had commissioned Zane to return the diamond to the dragon clan.
Lia intercepts Zane, convincing him to take her with him. To Zane, Lia was a quiet child. But now he sees a woman who has grown into her beauty. Through their quest, he also witnesses her grow into her power. To his despair, he realizes he wants her, but cannot have her, but with Draumr, would he be able to claim her? Could he become more powerful than the drakons?
Buried within the Carpathian Mountains, a diamond continues to dream, and call.
I don’t know if I like this better than Smoke Thief. The passion is more complex, as Zane is no drakon who cannot help but love the alpha who is his match. Lia loves her family and will risk all for them, but is drawn to Zane’s darkness. I am oftentimes disturbed by Zane, who is oftentimes not gentle with Lia.
Tenderness and brutality. Love is weird. But in a world where dragons still fly, Shana Abe has somehow made it magic. I’m still very much into dragons.
Where have all the good sites gone? My friends and I asked as we walked up and down A. Mabini and M.H. del Pilar in Malate.
According to Josefina P Manahan on Street-Bound: Manila on Foot, the stretch from Quirino to Kalaw should be lined by antique shops, handicraft stores, and famous boutiques. As we walked on a Sunday afternoon a week ago looking for these places, our glimpses of Old Manila were few, counted in one hand, leaving images of sad, old buildings with sadder people in our memories.
We were following the ghosts of Manahan’s walks, it seems. In 2001, she came out with a guidebook for the curious and adventurous, the bored and jaded, hoping they will be inspired by walks through Manila’s historical and more colorful districts. It came complete with maps, a glossary, and a directory.
Even then, she was urging public officials to make an effort to preserve our heritage: restore landmark buildings instead of tearing them down to give way to malls; and create more space for greenery instead of planting parking spaces on them.
Her pleas, and her book, did little good, I guess (for Malate and Ermita, at least) , because eight years later I can barely hear the echo of the proud and genteel Manila A. Mabini and M.H. del Pilar used to be.
Next, I’ll probably be asking, where have the Mehan Gardens gone? Oldest in Asia, the gardens date back three centuries, boasting of a botanical garden and a zoo which were famous during the Spanish and American regimes.
In 2003, during Lito Atienza’s time as Manila Mayor, a row over the city’s green spaces beside Metropolitan Theater and Manila City Hall erupted. The good mayor wanted to cut trees from the Mehan Gardens and Arroceros Forest Park for a bus parking terminal, a city college, and a teacher’s dormitory. Environmentalists sued him, but even as wheels of the legal system slowly moved, the parks lost more than a few trees
This mayor was also responsible for tearing down in 2000 the Jai Alai building, one of Asia’s finest Art Deco buildings for a new Hall of Justice for the city (which was never built) and chopping down trees a few years later along Roxas Boulevard for the construction of a row of restaurants beside the sea.
If you want funny, this official was named Environment Secretary in 2007.
Before I go down a spiral of despair and pessimism, I think some of the walks listed down in this guidebook are still worthwhile to do. Binondo and Quiapo are as vibrant as ever. Paco Park is still atmospheric. And the National Museum Complex enjoyed an overhaul during Fidel V Ramos’s presidency in the 1990s. Last April, I joined an unforgettable tour of the national museum led by the highly witty John Silva, historian and museum expert.
Highlights of that tour was the exhibit on Philippine Haute Couture, featuring some of Slim‘s creations from 1947 to 1990, and the Spoliarium, world-famous painting by Juan Luna that won for him the gold from a prestigious art contest in Spain in 1884. Slim is Salvacion Lim Higgins, a famous designer who dressed the elite back when coy allure and elegant grace had the premium in beauty.
I don’t know if there are any updated Manila Walk guidebooks around. I think Street-bound can still be useful, though, as it led me and my friends to the knowledge that if we don’t walk now, we will never walk these old Manila places ever again.
“How do you find these farcical characters?” – John Smythe. “He’s just jealous.” – ArtSeblis
In the heart of a festive Bavarian Christmas, a cast of characters must figure out where the Trojan Gold is. These treasure disappeared at the end of World War II. A bloody envelope containing a photo of a woman wearing the gold leads Vicky and company to a winter wonderland town. Amidst the Christmas cheer, is a murderer biding his or her time until Vicky leads him/her to the treasure?
Really, the more of Vicky Bliss I get the more I like her. I like her just somewhat at first, chuckling at instances of hilarity and smirking at the touches of romance. Then I read the second book, pleased that it was better. Addicted, I read the third and now with the fourth book I am happy to report that brainy historian Vicky is still sarcastic, but a little mellowed by the dangers survived in Silhouette in Scarlet; and John Smith, is as devious a thief as ever, but not so successful at it as his passion for Vicky gets in the way–that and he had to keep saving Vicky’s life.
If these two aren’t colorful enough, Anton Schmidt, head director of Munich’s Art Museum has grown from insignificant character of the first book to pudgy but tenacious sidekick to Vicky’s detective. The interaction between these two is as interesting, and funny, as the romantic tension between sleuth and thief.
Tony Peters, academic rival and romantic prospect in Borrower of the Night, makes a comeback, intent on putting one up over Vicky, proving he is her intellectual superior, which may finally convince her to marry him–he’s been pursuing her for years!
With this cozy mystery, romance does not take a backseat, but given a minimalist touch. I can imagine the author’s pen, immediately freezing just at the right moments to keep me wondering, and reading.