Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

03
May
13

Food Review: Red Buffalo (Wings and Pizza)

Hi Metropolitan Manila! I’m back to a place where there is easy access to so much international food!

Earlier last week, I was invited by fellow blogger Aldous to join a food event at Red Buffalo which is located at Greenhills Town Center (along Gilmore/Granada). Imagine my surprise when I found out that Red Buffalo was an American restaurant serving buffalo wings and pizza, especially since I’ve recently been tuned to TLC and The Food Channel watching people make all kinds of delicious food….and I was just hankering for some good old American dishes.

Red Buffalo is styled after American restaurants in where else – Buffalo, New York, so you can take a bite and feel like you’re actually in the US eating their well-renowned buffalo wings. They opened up this branch around March 2012 of last year but were open at a different location before then. So if you’ve eaten at the old Red Buffalo branch, which is already closed, don’t fret. This new Red Buffalo branch is much more cosy, allows for more people and more space. And if you’ve had the Breakfast Delight (from the old branch) and are sad to find that it’s not on the current menu, do not fret. Miss Cheska (one of the owners of Red Buffalo) says that you can order the Breakfast Delight from their staff, even if it’s not on the menu.

Located along Gilmore Street (sometimes known as Granada), Greenhills Town Center is an area of food establishments, most notably for its Mcdonalds branch located upfront. Red Buffalo is (literally) right behind Mcdonalds, so follow the drive-thru road to the back and you’ll spot it right away. There are a lot of other restaurants and food establishments in the area, but as it was my first time here… I wasn’t able to notice much of the others. The great thing about Greenhills Town Center that I noticed, is that it sort of separates itself from the Greenhills Shopping Center crowd and traffic, yet it is still accessible to people who live around the area.

Red Buffalo: A True American Original

Outside

The outside is spacious (sorry, I have no pictures of what the entire outside looks like) but there are comfortable seats if you don’t want the stuffy inside aura, or if you want to smoke or just enjoy the afternoon/night air.

The inside was pretty cozy too. I’ve never been to the US, but it kind of feels like a diner but with less noise and less people. The following pictures are a couple more shots of what the inside looks like…

I love these blown-up photos on the wall!

Menu and Restaurant Sign

Very Red, White and Blue…except it’s all red and white. Haha.

Adverts board

And of course, what other great American meal wouldn’t be complete without a load of this to help down all that greasy, oily, but really delicious food..

Hello beer!

Okay, now unto the good part. The food! I arrived pretty early (Well if you consider the time it was suppose to start, which was 5, then I’m late since I arrived at 530. But, we only really started at 630 so that makes me early….Filipino time) so we were given drinks to cool us off while waiting for the others. When we finally decided to start tasting the food, which was when we were around 6 people, we were amazed at how much food they were bringing out for us at any one time. It was hard to pick which dishes to try first because they all looked good. I’d like to believe that I’m an American when it comes to food, because I love eating anything that has a lot of meat, a lot of oil, basically anything that looks outrageously delicious but unhealthy at the same time. So, picking which dishes to try out first was a dilemma.

House blend iced tea (P55)

Above is their house-blend iced tea. If you’re looking for the usual Filipino sweetness, this isn’t anything like that. The sweetness level is okay, enough to make it a delicious drink, but nothing like the usual Nestea iced tea. I guess that’s a good thing because with all the oily food you’ll be downing, you’ll need a lot of water to somewhat balance out the food intake.

Below is the Chili Cheese Fries. I’m not a big fan of Chili or spicy food, but I was surprised to find that I actually liked this combination of fries with chili. It gives it a different flavor from the usual condiments that you partner with fries.

Chili Cheese Fries (P155)

For the orders of Buffalo wings, here’s a list below of the details you’d like to know if you’re ordering any.

Single (5pieces) – P165, Double (10pieces) – P320, Family (20pieces) – P620, Party (40pieces) – P1190

Signature Flavors Include:

  • Original Buffalo (comes with different spiciness levels: Hot, X-hot and Suicidal)
  • Parmesan Garlic
  • Honey Bourbon
  • Sweet Heat BBQ
  • Teriyaki
  • Hawaiian

Dips

Ranch or Bleu Cheese (Cost for the dips: 30g – P25, 1/2 pint – P150, 1 pint – P25o)

Parmesan Garlic

The Parmesan Garlic was by far my favorite buffalo wings order. It looks like a normal chicken with some sprinkling of something on the outside, but once you bite into it, the tasty goodness of the parmesan just sinks in. I’m a big big fan of parmesan so I love how every bite just brings out that parmesan flavor. If you’re a parmesan fan like me, they have parmesan cheese in the condiments rack, so you can just add more of it to the wing if you feel that it isn’t enough.

I wouldn’t suggest you eat this with rice though, I can just imagine that it’d lose it’s flavor if you eat it along with rice.

Original Buffalo (Hot)

I’m not someone who likes spicy food so I don’t think I appreciated this flavor very much. This is just hot (lowest of the 3 in terms of level of spiciness) but I could really feel the spiciness of it kicking in. Miss Cheska says that the suicidal is really extra spicy, so i probably won’t get that if I’m ever here because I already have a hard time handling the spiciness of the hot level. SMOKING HOT!

Teriyaki

This is the Teriyaki. One bite and you can really feel yourself digging into that teriyaki flavor. It’s delicious and I personally think this would go well with some steamed rice (P25).

RB’s Special (P395)

RB’s Special. Short of course for Red Buffalo’s Special. You’ll notice that the pizza here in Red Buffalo are all thin crust. Apparently, they use something like a combination of the brick oven with a more modern oven. I love how it’s a thin pizza because you don’t feel yourself gnawing at the pizza when you’re trying to get a bite. Also, each slice is made so that none of the pizza parts fall off as you’re eating it. You can eat it old-style and use your hands, or use utensils to get through each and every bite.

Personally though, I’d just use my hands as you eat more of the pizza that way. ;)

Vegetarian (P335)

If you’re trying to cut down, or want to eat something a little healthier to kind of balance out the rest of your orders, you can also go for the Vegetarian Pizza. It has less oils in it so you’re basically eating a pizza without worrying so much about all the fats and other things that make a pizza unhealthy.

Spaghetti and Meatballs (P215)

(start Italian accent here) That’s a good-a meat-a-ball! (end Italian accent here)

Chicken Alfredo (P195)

Hickory Baby Back RIbs (P375)

This order of baby back ribs looked absolutely delicious, but since I was still eating the other dishes….well I wasn’t able to have a-go at them ribs. It was all gone by the time I wanted to have a bite of this. Oh well, next time maybe?

Double Cheesy Bacon Burger (P235)

Can you see how delicious that Double Cheesy Bacon Burger looks?! Look at how that cheese just melts onto the burger, and then imagine it melting even more when you take a bite out of it. I was taking my time as I was eating this, savoring each bite. Hmmm. Yummy.

Garden Salad (P145)

Healthy healthy living!

Apple Bar with Vanilla Ice Cream (P110)

This divine looking Apple Bar with Vanilla Ice Cream is Miss Cheska’s own creation. She’s been making this and perfecting this since she was a little girl. I love how the vanilla ice cream just melts into the vanilla bar as you’re eating it. Neither of the two flavors are too strong, they complement each other well. I would love to have another go at this dish the next time I come here. And now that it’s summer and all here in the Philippines, this would definitely be a good dessert to order!

I’d definitely like to come back here with my friends and/or my family, for another go at some of the dishes I really really liked.

With Miss Cheska (in red and white) and the other food bloggers. Photo taken from Aldous (http://aldousatetheworld.blogspot.com/)

Red Buffalo Wings and Pizza

Address: #11 Greenhills Towncenter, #2 Granada St., Barangay Valencia, Quezon City.

(Places near here include: Robinsons Magnolia, Intersection of Santolan and Ortigas/Granada)

Telephone No: (02) 654-6997

>Deliveries are available with a minimum P300 required purchase. Limited delivery area only.

Hours:

  • Mon – Thu: 11:00 – 00:15 (11AM-12:15AM)
  • Fri – Sat: 11:00 – 02:00 (11AM-2AM)
  • Sun: 11:00 – 00:15 (11AM-12:15AM)

Website: http://www.redbuffalowingspizza.com/

Check out their facebook page!
All major credit cards are accepted.
10
Apr
13

Book Review: The Queen of the Damned

Review on: The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

Series: The Vampire Chronicles (Book 3)

Rating: 4.5/5

When I first encountered this title before, from Anne Rice’s collection, I never thought it was part of the vampire series. I originally thought it had something to do with mummy’s and other paranormal creatures or something. Now, I know I was not correct, but i wasn’t entirely wrong, read below to find out why.

Enter The Queen of the Damned, and where we left off from the other book (The Vampire Lestat, book #2) is Lestat finding himself face-to-face with a very powerful vampire before he goes to his sleep-of-the-dead. The prior book talks about Lestat’s world-changing concert, but this next book takes place somewhere before and after the concert. The Queen of the Damned explains to us what happens before the concert, because most of us are left shocked and disoriented with regard to how Lestat’s concert ended the way it did. More or less, the end of the last book and the beginning of this book leads us to understand that another life-changing character makes its appearance, who else but Akasha. I guess I was correct when I guessed that this book sounded like it had to do with mummy’s, because The Queen of the Damned explains to us how it all started. Akasha kidnaps Lestat, and we later find out why it happens. Somewhere in the middle of the book, our young vampires meet up with some very old and ancient vampires who’ve been living for thousands of years, and they help readers understand how vampires came about (in the book). We meet a lof of new characters, and if you’ve read the Mayfair Chronicles series from Anne Rice, we get re-introduced to our old friends – The Talamasca.

Now, The Queen of the Damned is focused on Akasha, she’s the queen of the damned. The flow of the story focuses on why Akasha kidnaps Lestat and goes on the killing-rampage that threatens not only all vampires but mankind as well. With that, we discover the origins of vampires, and how Akasha becomes the slightly deranged vampire that she is. Her origins lead us to Maharet, a beautiful red-headed vampire whom we firstly meet as the relative of Jesse (also a new character) who works for the Talamasca and becomes intertwined with the story of Lestat, since we know and are introduced to the Talamasca who are there to study the paranormal and the weird and the things that normal humans don’t understand. We later find out that Maharet is one of the first vampires after Akasha and Enkil and that she has some connection to the red-headed twins in the dreams that start invading the younger vampires’ minds. We later understand her (Maharet’s) connection to vampires, and how she inconceivably helps bring about the birth of the undead race.

Okay, I find my prior paragraph confusing…and you probably do too. Let me make it much simpler, or at least I’ll try to. During the last book, we meet Akasha and Enkil whom we discover are the first vampires…aka The Mother and The Father, but they have been standing still and they haven’t moved for a very long time. In this book, we are shocked to discover that Akasha kidnaps Lestat and that yes, she can actually move, and she’s quite powerful too. Apparently, her listening to Lestat’s songs spurred something in her and she goes on this quest, or cleansing, which is something like her understanding of a perfect world. On her way to Lestat, she kills off most of the vampire race, except for a special few who are close to Lestat and whom she feels can be spared so as not to sadden Lestat. During her crusade/rampage, and because of Lestat’s concert, a lot of new and old characters meet up and later come together to find out how to stop Akasha. It is within this group, a meeting of old and new vampires that we discover the story behind the creation of vampires, which is also connected to the origins of the newly turned vampire Jesse (she gets introduced and turned in this book) and how she is related to Maharet. Sometime during Lestat’s kidnapping, Akasha gives Lestat some of her original blood which strengthens him but also makes him unable to say no to Akasha, and she introduces Lestat to her perfect world….a world without men, which includes killing off most of the mortal human men and sparing only a few. We also begin to understand that Maharet is the red-haired girl in the dreams, and that she has a twin – Mekare, the one who is creating the visions and spreading them to the vampiric youth.

Despite my mumble-jumble explanation of the story, I think that this book was pretty well-written. The only problem being that it’s sort of hard to understand which came first, as the book jumps from one story and one reality to the next, to some extent. There is an introduction of new characters, some who are familiar if you’ve read some of Anne Rice’s other works, which can be a bit confusing when you’re trying to see the story as a whole. There is a lot of history and stories in this book, and I guess the book itself is full of confusing ideas because it doesn’t only focus on one character. In this book, we meet a lot of people who explain their own stories – Lestat, Akasha, Maharet, Jesse and Khayman. It’s a lot to take in, though Anne Rice seems to organize it all pretty well so that despite all these various backgrounds and characters and stories, you later realize that they are intertwined and interconnected, and that they all serve a purpose.

Personally, I liked The Vampire Lestat better, as the story was more focused and more relate-able. The Queen of the Damned is confusing because it tries to justify and explain so many things that were left out of the previous book. What I loved about this book is how it interconnects itself with characters from Rice’s other books, and here you see the origins of not just vampires but of Maharet’s family, who’ve made a big impact in the genre that Rice writes about. I’m sure some of the members of this family will weave their way into some of Rice’s other books, which makes it just the more interesting. Sometimes though, I found myself just trying to summarize the characters, trying to figure out how they fit here-and-there-and-everywhere.

I would love to give this story 5 starts because it was so well-written and well thought out, but I find that Rice could have done better with how she spread some of the characters. She introduced a lot more characters here than in The Vampire Lestat, and she gave a lot more background and history, sometimes moving from past to present to past to present, while The Vampire Lestat had a clearer flow for the story. Also, I didn’t understand some parts of the end of this book, and I felt like she could have done more there…..but then again, there are still books that follow this one so maybe some of it will be explained later on.

I can’t wait for the next one: Tale of the Body Thief.

01
Apr
13

Book Review: The Vampire Lestat

Review on: The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

Series: The Vampire Chronicles (Book 2)

Rating: 5/5

You haven’t understood Anne Rice’s vampires until you read about the Vampire, Lestat.  The Vampire Lestat is an introduction to Lestat, from his days as a human to his days and nights as a vampire. I find that Lestat is more human than most, but is also one of the best examples of a vampire.

So who is Lestat in this story? He first begins as a nobleman, born into a poor family of noble lineage. Early on, he was somewhat isolated from his brothers and sisters, but very close to his mother. He always felt like he didn’t belong, but he had wondrous dreams that always felt like they were out of reach. But on his final adventure as a mortal, he escapes with his friend Nicolas to Paris where they live their liberal and independent lives, until their jobs at the local theatre make Lestat the target of the vampire Magnus. Magnus kidnaps Lestat in the middle of the night and turns him into a vampire, before throwing himself into the fire (ultimately killing himself) and leaves Lestat to fend for himself as a new-born vampire. Lestat, proud and willful as he is, uses the money left to him to splurge on himself and his friends at the theatre, who don’t know who their benefactor is. Somewhere along the way, Lestat’s mother Gabrielle comes to say goodbye to her son, as she is already at the brink of dying. Instead of letting her die, along with her mother’s unresolved dreams, he turns her into a vampire like himself. Later on in the story, Nicolas becomes resentful of Lestat’s money and gifts, and forces Lestat to turn him into a vampire too. In the time before Nicolas is turned into a vampire, Lestat and Gabrielle encounter a band of vampires who belong to a coven under Armand (see book 1) who have long ago followed a set of guidelines about vampires, and serving Satan, and who have lived in hiding from humans. This coven tries to condemn Lestat and Gabrielle who try to make themselves human by living amongst them. Later on, this coven along with the now-turned Nicolas, become the Théâtre des Vampires (see book 1), leaving a very reluctant Armand in-charge of a band of vampires who must now try to adapt to the more modern Paris. Gabrielle and Lestat leave Paris and go on their own adventure but later part as they find that they have different desires for the future, but promising that they will meet again. It is in Egypt that Lestat becomes distraught and he buries himself underground, and how he later on meets Marius – a very old but legendary vampire. It is Marius who has been alive for over a thousand years that shares with Lestat all the questions he has had, later on introducing Enkil and Akasha whom Armand calls Those Who Must be Kept. He listens to the beginnings of Marius and his time since being turned, increasing evermore Lestat’s curiosity for Enkil and Akasha whom he wakes up with his violin-playing. Here, Enkil almost kills Lestat and Marius is forced to send Lestat away  to the New World, where the story of Interview With a Vampire begins. The story doesn’t end here as it takes us back to the beginning of the novel, where Lestat introduces himself as a rockstar who has exposed himself to the world as a vampire (fictional of course, to the eyes of the mortal) and exposes his story and the stories that were to be kept.

If you’ve read the first book, Interview With a Vampire, we finally see the character of Lestat whom Louis doesn’t describe much in his story, more or less because there is so much of Lestat’s story that Louis doesn’t know. If you wanted to see more of Lestat, this is really the book you should be reading. Finally, readers get a chance to see how Lestat really is, and why his personality and character is perceived the way he explains it. Because Rice writes the story from Lestat’s time as a mortal to his time as a vampire in pre-Industrial Europe to the modern 20th century, we are able to see the various parts of Lestat and how his experiences mold him to become the vampire that he is at the end of this book. This book is full of various characters, each interesting on their own, but contributing to a better understanding of our main character. It’s like joining a character from their birth to their death (or as far along as the story can take us), we see how they are at their immature stage, yet we see them learn from their experiences and we see them grow into something more. We don’t understand much of Lestat at the beginning of the story, but as time passes on, and the years and centuries in the book take place, we see Lestat grow and face both his immortality and his human-ness.

At times, the book feels like it’s carrying too much. Like there are too many characters and too many stories and too many things happening at the same time. When I read this book, I felt like I wanted to know more about so many other characters but it wasn’t tackled by Anne Rice. Well, it is about the vampire Lestat and not the others, but the introduction of those characters in the book, though short, pave the way for the future books of this series. One thing that the introduction of so many new characters does though, is that it gives us a clearer understanding of what a vampire really is. The different stories and personalities of the characters from the first two books (this and Interview with a Vampire), already tells us so much of Anne Rice’s vampire characters. It is quite a sight, seeing the limits of vampires, and also becoming disillusioned by what we think vampires are. As the book progresses, we begin to understand that vampires are not to be understood in the context of a single lifetime, but the lifetimes of so many characters put together, and the characters we have yet to meet in the future books.

At the start of this review, I said that I think Lestat is more human than most. Throughout the story, Lestat has this characteristic of being both inside and outside of a circle. He is made immortal but he clings to his human side, his family and his friends and his memories. Throughout the story, he is continuously searching for the place where he can belong or people he can be with. Unlike other vampires (explained in later stories), he is rarely alone and always has a companion with him. He longs for companionship while most vampires tend to keep away from each other. Also, within Lestat is a continuous struggle for good and bad.  One cannot say that Lestat is completely evil, but one cannot say he is completely good. This struggle to do what’s right and to do what’s natural (for a vampire), constantly clashes as Lestat lives on, whether it’s something personal that he learns on his own or whether it’s from the other people and vampires he encounters. Despite the years, Lestat’s personality changes yet remains the same, and you can see a power and arrogance and strength that was with him when he was a human and is still with him as a vampire, with his being a vampire and immortal and with power only making all these characteristics all the more clear to the readers.

One can’t help but love and hate Lestat for what he is.

The next book is even more shocking.

01
Apr
13

Book Review: Interview with the Vampire

Review on: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Series: The Vampire Chronicles (Book 1)

Rating: 4/5

Interview with a Vampire follows the story of Louis, a vampire currently living in the 20th century, who in an interview with a young journalist introduces his story of how he lived when he was a human, until he was turned into a vampire, and his life following that event.

Louis, the wealthy young master of a family who owns a plantation in New Orleans, recounts to us his life with his younger brother and sister, and how the events after the death of his younger brother drove him to the brink of alcoholism and how this eventually leads to his having encountered Lestat who turns Louis into the vampire he is. Louis continues to recount to the journalist how he learns to become a vampire under Lestat, his journey as they try to live within the society without giving away their identity. And later when Lestat turns a young girl child into a vampire to act as Louis’ companion, how they journey through the years and the realizations they encounter along the way. Later, Louis and Claudia (the girl vampire) try to escape from Lestat by attempting to kill him and they flee to Europe in the hopes of finding old-vampires who can teach them things that Lestat was never able to share with them. This leads them to meet the Théâtre des Vampires, with their coven leader Armand, who introduces them to their vampire world with vampires who are nothing like the vampires that Louis and Claudia hoped to find. Later, this is where they are again discovered by Lestat who hopes to take Louis away and to do away with Claudia who in the first place attempted to kill Lestat. Here, Claudia and Madeleine (a woman who Louis turns into a vampire to act as a companion for Claudia – upon her request) are killed by the Théâtre des Vampires, whom later Louis takes vengeance on before running off with Armand. The end of the story follows Louis who happens to meet Lestat again in New Orleans, and later on the end of the recounting of his story with the journalist who is not satisfied with the ending to such a thrilling story.

This book actually has a movie-version, which I happened upon over 10 years ago. I can remember parts of the movie, and faces of the characters, but nothing more of the story, so I guess you can say I came upon this book without any expectations.

The content of the book is exactly as the title says it is, it is an interview with a vampire. The recounting of a sad story, to an interested journalist/ reader. The start of the story is actually quite intriguing as we see and we sort of empathize with Louis who after the death of his brother has to deal with becoming a new vampire, just like a child who needs guidance. Time within the book is hard to understand though as the passing of a couple of years in the book happens over a couple of paragraphs at certain parts of the story, and other parts are more detailed. The switching of dialogues between Louis’ and the journalist, and his recounting of the story can be a bit confusing as it seems so realistic, like someone remembering a story and actually living in the memory and then suddenly finding themselves thrown back into reality. But it is just a characteristic of the story that makes it even more interesting. All the characters are given enough “screen time”, depending on how important they are to the flow of the story as they are introduced with character descriptions.

I can say that for this book I am somewhat disappointed, just like the journalist. The ending came by quickly, and maybe I had hoped for something more grand for the ending because the start of the book just sounded so amazing and interesting. But then again, the end was a little cliff hanger, leaving the reader to imagine what happened to Louis. Now that I think about it, I wish the book was a little longer and had more dialogue for Lestat, but then again this is the story of Louis, not Lestat, so I cannot fault the book for this.

Overall, this is really quite an interesting book as it tries to explain to us the story of Anne Rice’s vampires, from their beginnings (when they are newly turned) to decades and centuries later as they try to adapt to the ever-changing world. I cannot wait to read the other Anne Rice books that have Lestat as a main part of their story. It also makes me want to go back and read the Anne Rice books that I read over 5 years ago, because I’m sure that their stories will make more sense to me now.

30
Jun
12

Book Review: Vittorio the Vampire

Review on: Vittorio the Vampire by Anne Rice

Series: The Vampire Chronicles

Rating: 3/5

Vittorio the Vampire is a creatively written story by Anne Rice, introducing to us Vittorio who is a very educated nobleman born in the mountains north of Tuscany. Before he became a vampire, Vittorio was a strapping educated young man who was gifted in physical attributes, but also gifted of mind. Learned because of his having traveled to places like Florence where he cultivated his love of literature and the arts. It is when he is 16years old that his quiet and peaceful world is destroyed by what he believes to be demons. All of his family members are attacked and killed when their compound is infiltrated, and he is spared by the kindness of one of these female monsters. It is then that he goes off to seek vengeance for his family’s death.

He soon learns that these demons are blood-sucking vampires who are creatures of the night, and that some towns actually pay them homage in return for their safety, by giving these vampires unwanted members of society like the sick, the dying, the misshapen, the old, and such. It is during his discovery that he is chanced upon by a creature of the night and taken to their abode, but not before having killed his abductor, and then having his life spared again by the same female creature that spared his life when Vittorio’s home was attacked.

The Court of the Ruby Grail – the Court of Vampires from long before men lived in that part of the world. Ursula, the female vampire who begs for Vittorio’s life, saves Vittorio from being killed by the Court for being impudent and unfailing in his philosophies. It is here though that he is poisoned and then left to wander in Florence, and this poison allows him later to see angels whom he is able to convince to aid him in taking revenge for his family. And it is later these angels that Vittorio disappoints and fails when in his quest to destroy the very things that killed his family, he is unable to kill the female vampire who saved him and who he has fallen in love with. Despite his revulsion of the vampires, he is tricked into becoming the very thing he loathes and goes on a blood-seeking adventure with Ursula.

It is only later that Vittorio is back in Florence and finds himself face to face with the angels he had faced, most especially the strongest of them, who grants Vittorio one last gift….a curse to what remains of his humanity.

Vittorio the Vampire is an interesting book with a very enthralling introduction. There are great expectations from the book as Anne Rice introduces a very strong-willed character who’s like a hero that can’t be defeated. His background, the setting, the movement of the story, it all seemed to be moving forward well. And then of course, there’s the reality of the story. Of how the story suddenly ended, the disappointment in the main character Vittorio and how I as a reader hoped that he would remain fervent in upholding his philosophy. The whole story takes place more or less in a span of one week, with most of the story focused on 4 days. Seeing as how Vittorio was introduced, despite the dilemma he is faced with because of the death of his family, I thought his revenge story would seem much more worthwhile as a read, especially since it is mentioned in the book how he is disturbed by his dream-turned-reality of holding his brother and sister’s severed head in his hands. Apparently, the decapitation of the vampires though interesting, didn’t garner much interest in me as a reader, in contrast to what I expected. Also, the resulting Vittorio (as a vampire) felt too much a disappointment since I half-hoped that Vittorio the human would have retained more of his human nature and would have more conflicting emotions within himself during his transformation. His gift-curse was appealing to me, though I would have loved to have that further expanded.

The thing I liked most out of the story was Anne Rice’s inclusion of the angels as Vittorio’s guides through his revenge-seeking adventure. The dialogue was thought-provoking, and reminded me a lot of the Philosophy classes I took back in university. There were parts of the story where Vittorio would quote from philosophers, and his having a stand against the angels as he was venting out his frustrations, and even the angels’ conversations with him, were really nice additions to the story.

I finished this book in about 3 sittings, over a span of 2 days, which is too say…you can go through the content of the story pretty fast. It’s not that hard of a read, and it has some biblical and philosophical references, which always makes for great debate topics later on.

19
Dec
11

Book Review: Love in the time of Cholera

Review on: Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Rating: 3.5/5

Let me just say, I did not expect for the book to turn out the way it did. In fact, I thought this book was some kind of autobiography before I picked it up in an airport bookstore en route to the province. I’ve heard about this book before, and a lot of people said it was good. Well, with a catchy title like this, I cannot imagine otherwise.

So this book is a love story, and as you are reading the book, you are living it.

Imagine you’re a boy who has fallen in love with the perfect girl. To make it even more dramatic, your love is some kind of forbidden secret, and the girl you love is someone who lives in a world completely different from yours. Everything seems to be going smoothly (despite the secrecy) and later on you become engaged (though only the two of you know).  You’ve made all the preparations for the house she’ll one day live in, the lives you’ll someday live, and everything else for the perfection that seems to love you back. And suddenly, one day, she tells you that she doesn’t love you anymore and asks you to forget everything the two of you have ever done. What makes the pain even worse is that she later on marries someone prestigious and popular, the man who is completely opposite you in family background and character.

Next, imagine you are a girl lost in your own little world, until the day someone tells you they like you. The whole story seems like a dream and you find yourself attracted to this boy. The secrecy, the hidden place you keep your letters and imagining your seemingly perfect love story unfolding like a book. It is like one big game, especially when you find yourself secretly engaged to him. After that, everything else you see and feel seems like a dream, and you prepare yourself for the married life. Then one fateful day, you discover that your husband-to-be is not just different from the guy you remembered him to be, he’s someone you can’t bear to spend the rest of your life with. Later, you find yourself somewhat attracted to this famous guy and find yourself marrying him.

Fast forward to around 51 years later when fate appears after the girl’s husband’s death and they are forced to again confront their feelings from before. Florentino the boy, has filled his somewhat empty life with trysts, yet continue to longs for his perfect woman. Fermina the girl, has had a somewhat fulfilling married life though she has always carried with her the feeling of guilt towards the boy she had rejected. Watch as the love story from their teen years catches up with them and we wait to see if Florentino’s half a century of devotion proves fruitful, while we watch Fermina confront her past and face the future.

I didn’t imagine this book would be so entertaining. The book itself is an entire lifetime of the stories of the 2 main characters – Florentino and Fermina. My fascination with the content of the story goes up-and-down as the initial part of the story is sort of interesting, gets a little boring after a while, and then goes up again. There were times like I felt like giving up on the book because parts were dull, but then you make the effort to just read a few more pages and it gets interesting again.

The book starts with both characters in their old age (at around 60-something), then goes back to telling their story of love in their youth, and then comes back to them in their old age as they try to figure out what to do with life. One thing I loved in the book is how the story makes you feel as if you’re kind of growing up alongside the characters. You see the mistakes of their youth, and the wisdom of old age. There are so many points in the story that people can relate to, or if not, can teach them about life. The story focuses so much on Florentino’s love for Fermina, which often times borders on the point of obsession. Though it’s somewhat romantic how he devotes himself to Fermina, his obsession drives him to lose focus on the things he could have done in his life. And the other, Fermina, whose love matures from her youthful dreams of Florentino, to reality, and later on to the wisdom of her post-married life. One thing I didn’t like, as I mentioned earlier is how interesting the book is towards me as a reader. The best part of the book is probably the middle part where Fermina and Florentino talk about their youth, and the beginning part of the book which introduces the characters and the story. The latter part of the book is a bit dull and often times, I just wanted the whole thing to end.

Truth be told, I didn’t like how the ending occurred. It’s like watching some Filipino telenovela unfold before your eyes. Can’t fault the author though because culture-wise, the Philippines and South America if very much alike.

Personally, I’d rate this book a 3, maybe I’m biased because I didn’t like how the story turned out. But the book was otherwise a fascinating read. Though dull and boring at certain parts, the storytelling of the author was so well done that you didn’t feel as if it was too complicated moving from the present to the past and back to the present (within the book). Also, the story was quite educational as it often offered points from various characters that gave a more in-depth understanding of the environment and the main characters. Plus love, the center of the story, is shown in three phases, innocence, wisdom and obsession. I guess you need a level of maturity to understand the book, but understanding the characters and how each of them focuses on one of those phases of love is such an interesting process as you are reading.

Definitely an interesting read that portrays a different sort of love story.

12
Nov
11

Book Review: A Game of Thrones

Review on: Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Rating: 4.5/5

First book in the book series, A Song of Ice and Fire

Welcome to Westeros, where most of the story takes place. The land is ruled by a king, Robert Baratheon, who sits on the iron throne. Throughout the story, you’ll encounter the stories of many other characters like the Starks who rule over Winterfell in the North, or the Lannisters of Casterly Rock who win their loyalty through gold, the Night’s Watch who guards over the realms of men from things beyond The Wall and takes no part in the problems of the kingdom, or beyond the kingdom of Westeros to that land across the sea where the previous’ king of Targaryen blood still has family who’ll do anything to get their throne back. In this story, one event leads to the next. The beginning of the story begins with peace and the start of conflict within the world, and what starts of as an interesting introduction of various characters, families, history and whatnot, eventually leads into the heart of the entire series – competition for the Iron Throne. A fight ensues for the Iron Throne when Robert dies, a fight between the supposedly lawful heir Joffrey Baratheon, and Robert’s brothers Renly and Stannis, while those in the North fight to save one of their own, and somewhere across the sea a young girl’s marriage turns herself from a little girl..into a Queen.

Welcome to an amazing series filled with stories of giants and dragons, shapeshifters and dead that come back to life, stories of knights and ladies, princes and kings, lands of long summers and longer winters, of bastards and royalty and arranged marriages. Be prepared to meet the most unimaginable of characters in the most unusual of settings. Welcome to a world that plays a song of ice and fire.

A complex fictional world built into one amazing series. Game of Thrones is the first book in the (so-far) 5-book series. From the very beginning of the book, the author Martin already takes you into the complex world of Westeros, and the world beyond The Wall. The chapters are written from the POVs of various important characters within the series, and at times, the chapters overlap with the other chapters, so don’t take the chapters as happening in sequence. That’s one thing that’s great about Martin’s way of story writing. To each new reader, it takes some getting used to at the beginning of Game of Thrones, as Martin thrusts the story to you without giving too many explanations as to who is who and what is what.

Be wary innocent readers, this series will not spare you with kind words and stories of happily ever after. Even in the first book, Martin does not spare you with stories of murder, incest, betrayal, war, glory and lust. If you have watched the HBO TV series based on the books, you’ll probably understand what I’m talking about. The series is more or less truthful with the book, except for some parts which are discussed in the later books but presented in Season 1, or parts that are only subtly spoken of in the books but are presented to viewers on the show, and well there’s a lot more sex in the series than there is in the book. If you’ve watched the series and aren’t sure if you’d like to spend hours pouring over the book, let me give you a suggestion, READ IT. Though the series is amazingly portrayed by wonderfully chosen actors with wonderfully captured scenery, there are so many amazingly written details for the characters, the histories, the backgrounds, among other things. Watching the series is like scratching the surface of an amazing treasure box. A lot of things within the story won’t be understood well or correctly till you read what’s written in the books.

Originally, I wanted to give the book a perfect score of 5 out of 5, but I had to deduct points for the lack of reader-friendliness for the first few chapters. Honestly speaking, parts of the book become a bit boring if you aren’t the type of person who loves going into the history of characters and things like that. Plus in a series like this, you’re sure to encounter so many characters, you’ll have a hard time remembering which is which and who is who. Not to mention all the places in the kingdom, or characters from way way before with names similar to those at present. It’s quite confusing. One good thing I love about the book is the visual maps at the beginning of the book, which usually depict the locations where majority of the story takes place. The back part of the book also helps readers with its own set of family tree listings for all important characters in the story, just so you know who’s who, and in case you forget later on and want to refresh yourself while reading the chapters.

I thought I wasn’t a big fan of fantasy fiction books because I gave up on Lord of the Rings halfway through book 2, though I liked The Hobbit and book 1. No offense to Tolkien’s wonderfully created world, but Martin’s world is just so much more interesting and funny and eye-catching. Despite all those details and names and whatnot which would seem annoying after a while, Martin just keeps you coming back with his character dialogue and the way he unexpectedly brings in a certain character, or how he suddenly kills off a beloved character. It’s like 2 emotions fighting to take over, because one part of you just wants to continue reading to see how a situation or story ends, but another part of you wants to preserve a beloved character so you can’t help but stop reading for fear of what will happen next.

I’ve probably said enough to hopefully inform you of what to expect in the book and to hopefully encourage you to read the book. I hope I haven’t deterred anyone from reading this. Haha. So. happy reading to all my readers. I welcome any comments, so don’t be afraid to tell me what you think of the book too.

Cheers and happy reading!

A Song of Ice and Fire series:

  • Book 1 – A Game of Thrones
  • Book 2 – A Clash of Kings
  • Book 3 – A Storm of Swords
  • Book 4: A Feast for Crows
  • Book 5: A Dance with Dragons
04
Feb
11

花木兰(电影)Mulan (movie)

Last week I went to watch the movie, Hua Mulan (花木兰) at the Spring Film Festival Gala Night. I missed about 10-15minutes of the first part of the movie because I was having dinner with friends, but was able to catch up to the part where Mulan first enters the camp. I loved the story. It’s definitely different from the Disney version, and is much suited to more mature audiences (late teens/young adults-onwards). The amazing thing about the movie is that it doesn’t skimp on action and drama, and doesn’t fail to include some bits of a romantic story. I wouldn’t compare it to the Red Cliff movie which is definitely one of the most thrilling Chinese movies I’ve seen so far….but this definitely is a movie that would still appeal to me.

<Beware Possible Spoilers>

And the movie doesn’t fail to be Chinese as the ending portrays a love of country over one’s own personal love life. There are also many aspects that Chinese hold dear, such as filial piety, a love (not romantic) between brothers, love for country, and the whole glory in death while fighting. The values portrayed in this movie are really values properly exhibited in old Chinese movies, or when concerned with older Chinese cultures and traditions (古代的文化,古代的习惯,古代的中国).

I’d definitely want to watch this movie again. My dad missed out on watching the movie so he’s planning on buying a copy when he goes to Xiamen (厦门) soon. I’d like to find myself a copy too when I go back to Beijing. Oh what’s more, since my Mandarin is much more improved than before, I was able to understand the movie dialogue much better and even compared it to the English subtitles. Of course, definitely, dialgoue in Mandarin was much better than the English translations.

Also, the pick of using Vicki Zhao as the main actress was pretty good, in my opinion. Seeing her as a tomboy-ish sort of actress from previous movies such as Red Cliff and So Close, makes it more believable that she would pass of as a boy in a war army as compared to other popular actresses…based on what I’ve seen on some forums. I love Zhang ZiYi and Michelle Yeoh in movies like Memoirs of a Geisha, House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, but it’s nice to see other popular actresses star in movies like this. After all, we can’t have the same actresses hogging the spotlight all the time.

04
Feb
11

Book Review: The Book of Tomorrow

Review on: The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

Rating: 3/5

Celia Ahern’s The Book of Tomorrow is quite the interesting quick read. It’s a book I would recommend for teenagers and young adults, it’s definitely more suited for teenagers though I was quite taken in by the cover and title of the book.

Ahern introduces Tamara, a teenager who has just suffered the loss of her father and is forced from her rich world habits into the quiet life in the country with her aunt and uncle. While in the country, she soon discovers that the world she thought she knew is not what it seems to be, coupled with her mother’s having withdrawn herself after losing her husband, and her aunt’s being secretive and over-protective of her, what else is a teenager to do? Put in some detective-sleuthing, add in a bit of mystery, drama and romance, and there you have one short novel.

I wouldn’t say that this book is quite the extra-ordinary novel. Parts of the story could have been written better, or explained better to induce more dramatic effects while reading the story. I wouldn’t say it’s bad either because I was quite at the edge-of-my-seat at certain points, trying to guess my way through the novel by guessing who the bad guy in the story was, the ending did come out as somewhat surprising though other parts of the story came out as quite obvious.

What I didn’t get though was how the title had anything to do with the book, though upon reading the book you see how the title is introduced into the story. Still, I didn’t quite see the relevance of the item referred to in the title, when it came to the progression of the story. Maybe that’s just me…

17
Jan
11

Book Review: Mr Darcy Takes A Wife

Review on: Mr Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll

Rating: 4.5/5

A novel following a novel. Mr Darcy Takes a Wife is a story all on its own, following the events that happen after the Pride and Prejudice book. Definitely a love story come true through another book, Berdoll is able to bring to life the world of Elizabeth Bennet as she weaves together a story that does not bring shame to Austen’s original tale.

What awaits in Mr Darcy Takes a Wife is not just a quick glimpse of what happens once Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy are married, but is able to give the reader a glimpse into the good things that happen in their marriage, as well the problems that they encounter. Not just the Darcy’s, but it also includes the lives of the Bingley’s and the other Bennet sisters. What’s more, Berdoll brings into the story a side of reality that includes a bit of history, incorporating the problems of Britain with Napoleon’s European conquests as well as other aspects of the society the Pride and Prejudice world revolves around. This is not just a story from the perspective of Elizabeth, but also from Fitzwilliam’s as well as even Georgina Darcy’s points-of-view.

If you’re looking for a story that you can quickly read through, this book is not it. Not only does the novel include the passing of many years within the Darcy’s marriage, the way Berdoll writes it makes it feel like the book in itself is an authentic continuation to Pride and Prejudice. Using language and mannerisms from Austen’s time, Berdoll allows the reader to be absorbed into a completely different world. The introduction of various new characters, as well as the re-introduction of original characters, whose stories bring mystery and drama into the Darcys’ lives leaves the readers begging for more.

Despite the almost authentic feeling the book brings, the novel in itself can be quite dragging at certain points in the story. Because of the introduction of various new characters, Berdoll has to create new stories for these characters, and it at times creates confusion within the story, especially when these characters have to by some hand of fate, become involved with the main characters. Also, due to the development of many characters because of the number of years that pass within the story, and also due to the imagination of Berdoll, it may leave readers wondering if certain original characters really do act the way Berdoll writes them out to be.

Personally though, I am quite in love with the way the story pans out. Though it may cause some confusion at times, the way the story makes me feel as I turn page by page, especially when I can almost imagine the story unfolding before my very eyes, it’s quite amazing really. Like a whole new story in itself, readers can truly see the effort and time Berdoll puts into making the book as true (to Pride and Prejudice) as possible, without sacrificing her imagination and integrity as her own writer.

Definitely one of the best Pride and Prejudice sequel books I’ve read so far. I’ve already begun reading the second part of this series…..:)

29
Jun
10

Book Review: Time Traveler’s Wife

Review on: Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Rating: 5/5

Recommended

Time Traveler’s Wife is one of the most fascinating, dramatic, confusing, heart-wrenching, not-so-fairy-tale dream stories I’ve ever read. The book is filled with so much emotion, so much feelings, conflicting yet in-sync, happy yet dreadful, a book full of so many ironies that in some way just make sense.

Meet Henry, a time-traveler that is able to distort his time because of a rare genetic disease. Because of this disease, Henry has no control over when or where he time-travels. Because of this, and another problem – whenever he time travels he cannot bring anything with him so always appears naked wherever he arrives, Henry has learned to fend for himself and do whatever it takes for him to survive until he returns to his own time. One day, he meets Clare, who has known him for her entire life. His future self has constantly time traveled to her past, and here, they meet and eventually fall in love, both in the present and in the past.

The couple encounter so many problems from Henry’s constant disappearance, to eventually, their being unable to have children because of his genetic disorder which he has passed down to his not-yet-born embryo children. Add to that a world that cannot be altered, where the present and the past and the future are all but one existing reality, and where changing fate just doesn’t happen.

From the moment I read the summary to this book a few years ago, I automatically fell in love. I can’t imagine why I’ve always prioritized buying my romance novels over this book, until I read it. Now, I understand why maybe fate didn’t let me read this book until recently. Actually, I saw the movie to this a few months back, before I even started reading the novel. I have to say, this book is A LOT better than the movie. There are so many things that make more sense when you’re reading the book.

The book says so much. The characters are so real, they are characters that readers can definitely relate to. The characters in the story evoke so much emotion. Unlike other books where other characters in the story don’t really make a big impact, in Time Traveler’s Wife, all characters are part of the big picture. All characters, though at first you don’t see how they can be of any importance to the story, just make sense. The way Niffenegger writes it too, it seems so messy, it’s like reading a book that jumps from the start, to the end, to the middle of the story. But that style of writing, just adds to the intrigue and the delight that comes with reading the book, you never know what’s in store. Some books just come off as having obvious plots, obvious flow of the story, yadda yadda, but in Time Traveler’s Wife, you are never sure what surprise you’ll encounter next, or what fact you’ll encounter, or what memory you’ll uncover.

One great thing I loved about the story is that Niffenegger doesn’t write the book as if she’s toning it down for her readers. She makes it honest, blunt yes, but not at all deceiving. What you see in the book is pure honesty. Pure love, pure confusion, pure drama, pure hate, pure everything. That’s probably why this book is not suited to people who are of a young age, because to them, the story just won’t make sense. They won’t understand the emotions that come out of the story, and that come out of the character’s relationships with each other.

The book is so detailed, it gives so many explanations that are left unanswered in the movie. Though the deeper details the characters may seem confusing at first, continuing to read the book will open readers up to a whole new world. Henry and Claire’s relationship is not just a meeting of fate that ends in a happily ever after. Their struggles as a couple, and their personal individual conflicts not just with each other but with other characters, give more heart to the book. The book just explains it so well that readers will be surprised at how Niffenegger can write a book that’s like a scattered puzzle piece that just fits together so well in the end.

Another great thing about this book is how the small things that you don’t notice in previous chapters make sense in future chapters. Many times while reading the book, I was tempted to make sure that what’s happening in the present chapter corroborates what’s being said in a previous chapter. It’s thrilling to turn back to old chapters and realize why things happened there, and what importance it gives to the flow of the story.

Everything in the story is just beautifully written. From the small things to the big things. From details of clothes and emotions, to scenes where the stories take place. Reading it all, you can just imagine how the story is happening, how the story is unfolding before your very eyes. It’s like uncovering the world that we exist in now, but in a whole new light. The story is not just a fictional book that would be enjoyable for readers, but many parts in the story have so much more depth than they’re given credit for. There are so many philosophical issues, philosophical truths that are encountered in the story. There are so many things to discover in this book. I was able to understand some of what was explained because I had taken 4 semesters of Philosophy in my university. It’s something that people take for granted, but something that people will surely be able to use when making insights about a lot of life issues.

It’s the kind of book that you’d love reading again, like a whole new adventure every time you open the pages, or like a re-discovery of characters you didn’t fully understand before.

23
Jun
10

Book Review: Everything and the Moon

Review on: Everything and the Moon by Julia Quinn

Rating: 3.5/5

The main character in this novel is Victoria Lyndon, the daughter of the new vicar. On her first few days at their new residence, she meets Robert and finds out that he is the young earl of Macclesfield, the lord of their new residence. From their very first encounter, both Victoria and Robert find themselves deeply in love with the other. All goes well until both their fathers disapprove of the relationship and try to force them apart. They decide to elope but fate deals them an unlucky blow and their plans go astray, leaving both thinking that the other has abandoned them.

Many years later, Victoria is a governess to a wealthy family, and it is here that she again meets Robert whom she believes abandoned her. Robert on the other hand coincidentally encounters Victoria whom he believes didn’t love him enough to elope. Fate is funny that way and the reunited pair obviously still love each other though they refuse to admit so. But their past heartbreaks still get in the way and they are faced with problems that eventually lead to their getting separated again.

Even when the truth about what happened in their past is revealed, it is still difficult to forget what has happened, and Victoria and Robert have to learn to accept the past and move forward, sometimes giving in to the other because of love.

One thing I loved about the story is the change from the youthful love to what is eventually mature love. Quinn writes the story in such a way that the beginning is merely their love that has not endured hardships. Later on, you can see how the characters mature as they’ve gone on through their own separate lives, learning from the past and somewhat moving on. You’d think that them meeting again would be such a mature encounter, but Quinn writes it in a way that lets the readers see that some of their youth, their past, still remains within them. And it is this that hinders them from moving forward.

The playful banter between the two characters can be seen as both cute, and at times frustrating. What keeps the story interesting between the two is the inclusion of some characters who make Robert’s struggle for Victoria’s affections much more amusing.

Individual character-wise though, Quinn could have presented the characters better. Victoria and Robert were presented as two star-crossed lovers, but nothing much about their other characteristics were given much detail. I would have preferred to see more of their lives, which didn’t center around the other. For the most part, both Victoria’s and Robert’s stories always included each other, making it feel like the story has too many coincidences in it.

A good book to read, and it will leave you laughing and smiling. But, it definitely could have been better.




The Doll(dalera)

What lies behind the mask of a doll, kept sheltered and propped against the shelf wall. Beautiful and untouched for all to see, she comes unmasked in beautiful glory.

The Doll behind the mask

A fresh university graduate from the Ateneo de Manila University who loves to write stories, articles and poetry. Enjoys reading books - mostly fiction, and loves to play video games.

My Tweets

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 663 other followers

Categories

Archives

My Flickr Photos

Life springs from sorrow & calamity. Death from ease & pleasure.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

My current #toolsofthetrade #calligraphy #handwriting

Jamba Juice

Jamba Juice- Eastwood opening

To God be the Glory! Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

Two #books to add to my collection, which I haven't done in a few weeks due to lack of space and money. :( Been eyeing Love and Misadventure since Feb. Found the China book on a pile on the floor, and it's quite educational...even to a Chinese like me. :)

More Photos

Blog Stats

  • 151,644 hits

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 663 other followers