Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

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Young, beautiful, and dead. When supermodel Lula Landry is found dead on the pavement, the media is in a frenzy. Did she commit suicide, or was she pushed off by her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Evan Duffield?

Cormoran Strike is a wounded war veteran down on his luck. His fiancée has kicked him out of their house and he’s been living out of a camper kit in his office. He has barely enough to pay for his new (and overqualified) assistant, Robin. When John Bristow, Lula’s older brother, offers him a hefty sum to investigate Lula’s death, Cormoran knows his luck is about to change. Plunged into the world of glitz and glamour, Strike and Robin meet a colorful cast of characters, each with varying degrees of possible involvement in Lula’s death. They discover her struggles with fame and fortune, as well as Lula’s overprotective mother and highly dysfunctional family.

What makes this story particularly gripping is that it is classic detective work. There isn’t any singular aspect of the book that sticks out and it doesn’t try to be too ambitious. It’s fast paced and very descriptive, with numerous plot twists and well-written characters. Strike and Robin are likeable, and readers can empathize with them as they also deal with their crumbling personal lives.

This is a first in a series of novels featuring Cormoran Strike, Readers who enjoy good old detective novels will certainly enjoy The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith — or as the world now knows, J.K. Rowling.

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Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Book Review: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

[note: I wrote this review some time ago, but thought it was appropriate to post it again, because Holy Week is coming up]

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Everyone knows the story of Christ. Even those who aren’t Christian. We’ve seen it depicted in movies and musicals, and is retold every Sunday at mass. But what do we know about his life between the ages of twelve and thirty-three? Hardly anything.

LAMB tells the story of what could have happened during those years, through the eyes of Christ’s childhood friend, Levi bar Alphaeus, also known as Biff.

Biff tells us of his adventures with Joshua. We learn of their travels to the East to seek the Three Wise Men (a magician, a Buddhist monk, a Hindu Yogi). They spend a considerable amount of time with each one and learn important life lessons. And Jew-do. He learns about human nature and while he is aware of his mission on earth and that he is the Messiah, Joshua is very much human as he is divine. This is an important aspect which we tend to forget. Joshua was a man. He had desires. He made mistakes. He had emotions.

There is very little to spoil in this book (because really, spoil a story that is 2000 years old? That’s very funny). While the events in Asia and India may or may not have transpired, important events such as the feeding of the five thousand, the beatitudes, the raising of Lazarus and the crucifixion all happen in the book. The apostles and disciples were included as well, and each with their own personality. Mary Magdalene (or as she was called -Maggie) was portrayed as a love interest, a woman with strong beliefs, and not as a prostitute as many still believe.

Certain events may shock readers, but this book isn’t meant to change a person’s faith that way. It took me about three weeks to finish this book because even though it was an easy read, there was so much going on. I enjoyed it immensely. The dialogue was very witty, the story fast-paced. There were some cringe-worthy moments in the book, but more towards Biff and not Joshua. I liked that it showed a very human side of Joshua, more human than the Gospels would lead us to believe. One edition of the book (pictured above), is made to look like a Bible, complete with a red ribbon marker and gilt-edged pages.

Despite the humourous narration of Biff throughout the book, his fierce loyalty to Joshua is very apparent and admirable. So much so that it was difficult to read the last days leading to Joshua’s death. It was very sad to read about Biff feeling helpless in trying to save his best friend.

We will never know for sure if there really was someone named Biff and if he really was Joshua’s best friend. Then again, the Gospels never mentioned much about Joshua’s childhood, either.

By the way. It was HALLOWED

Book Review: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

Thank You For The Venom

For the past couple of days, I’ve been listening to my favorite band, My Chemical Romance, on loop. 

Today, they announced that they were disbanding after 12 years together. 

Not going to lie, I’m pretty fucking heartbroken at this news. They were MY favorite band. As typical and trite as this sounds, they helped me get through a lot of dark times in my life. No, I did not attempt anything life-threatening, but I did have a lot of moments when I turned to their music and they kept me sane and gave me hope.

Victor Hugo once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent”. That was My Chemical Romance for me. They were not just some “emo” rock band that I was obsessed with in high school, they were one of the few bands I was a fan of from the very beginning, and will be even after the end. 

A lot of the bands I like have disbanded, and I’ve never felt as sad as now. My Chemical Romance had a good run, I’m glad to have had the opportunity to see them live in 2007. 

Cause you only live forever in the lights you make
When we were young we used to say
That you only hear the music when your heart begins to break
Now we are the kids from yesterday

Thank You For The Venom

Peculiar.

Rarely does a book captivate me from the moment I set sights on the cover, to the moment I turn the last page and close the book. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children did just that. It lingered in my head for a while, to the point where I didn’t want to read other books for a while because I wanted the story to stay fresh in my mind.

The book was indeed peculiar, but the author, not at all.

When I heard that Fully Booked was bringing Ransom Riggs here for a signing, I knew I NEEDED to see him. I never had the chance to meet any of my favourite authors before (that’s quite impossible too, since Oscar Wilde has long been dead), so I jumped at this chance.

Aside from being handsome (ahem), Ransom struck me as a very down to earth, quirky dude with a quiet intensity. I could totally see myself being friends with someone like him. He treated the audience more like friends than fans. There was a rather cute moment during the Q&A here.

Let me quote spot.ph on that amusing moment:

One excited fan, who carefully sets up her phone to a perfect angle before asking her idol a question, looks up in surprise to see Riggs with his phone poised toward her as well.

Fan: “Oh! You’re taking a video! Are you?”
Riggs: “Don’t let that stop you!”
Fan: “I was going to take a video of you taking a video of me!”
Riggs: “Is that weird?”
Fan: “It’s okay. Can you say hi to the camera?”
Riggs: “HI!!!

That excited fan? That was me. The video of which is here. I have to say, it was a very safe answer, but it did make me curious as to who the casting directors were considering for the roles. Most of the questions centred on the book being adapted into a movie, and being directed by Tim Burton (please God can we not have Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Peregrine…).

When it was finally my turn to have my book signed, I was so starstruck that I hardly remembered anything he or I said. God knows what I blabbered to him… I can usually carry myself well during situations like these, but it was those intense blue-green eyes of his that probably made my brain melt. At least I had the presence of mind to ask if I could have a photo taken with him!

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IMG_1091IMG_1093That awesome moment when Ransom Riggs takes a photo of you.

There’s a reason why Fully Booked is the best bookstore ever. Not only do they encourage people to read more, they make awesome events like this possible. So thank you very much, Fully Booked. My year has been made.

Peculiar.

Phantom Faces at the Stage Door

(See what I did there?)

The following is a narrative of how I lost my sanity in one night. My usually calm and composed self, shattered, and reduced into a shaking, fan girl mess. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did.

Enjoy.

I watched the Phantom of the Opera last August 31 and it rekindled my love for the musical. My review of it will be another time as it deserves a post on its own.

At the time I watched, I had no idea we could actually go to the stage door and actually meet the actors. Now, I had done this before when I watched Les Miserables in Paris and Wicked in Singapore, but the CCP had never allowed this sort of thing so I had assumed it just wasn’t done here. It was only the day after that I realised it was possible!

So last week, my friends and I went to the stage door and waited for the actors to come out. When Jonathan finally came out of the stage door, I went up to him, smiled and introduced myself.

I was not prepared for the conversation that followed.

Me: Hi Jonathan! I’m Trish and I am absolutely thrilled to meet you!

Jonathan: Hi Trish! Wait, Trish like, TWITTER TRISH?

Me: *to myself* (HOLY HELL HE RECOGNIZES ME?!) Um. Yes! That’s me! I was the one who scanned the article on you in the Philippine Star.

Jonathan: YES that’s right! It’s such a pleasure to meet you, Trish! Nice to finally put a face to the name!

Me: Oh my GOD I’m so sorry for freaking out right now it’s just that IT’S A DREAM TO MEET YOU.

Regina (my sister): HEY I’m recording this, just so you know!

 Jonathan: *faces the camera* Trish! You’re gonna look back at this video and regret not hugging me before I hug you!!

He then pulls me into the best hug ever.

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ImageOh look at me, freaking out…

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I can’t even. I’m not making this stuff up. He is HONESTLY the nicest theatre actor I’ve met (and I’ve met a lot). He even missed the bus just so he could talk to us.

Thank you, Jonathan Roxmouth, for making my entire YEAR.

Dreams do come true. 🙂

Phantom Faces at the Stage Door

The Downton Life

it’s funny when people first meet me, they get this impression that I’m a sheltered rich kid, who lives in some mansion with a hundred staff. I don’t know where they get that impression from, but it’s both amusing and annoying.

My life, like everyone else’s, has drama. Tragedy. Comedy. Romance. Okay, maybe not romance at the moment but you do get the point. My sister and I do have a laugh about how the soundtrack of our lives would be the music from Downton Abbey.

It amuses me especially when I see their faces when I prove them wrong. It annoys me because they distance themselves from me each time they say they’re “not cool/fancy like me”.

I don’t understand it and I never will.

Sometimes I’m tired of explaining myself. Maybe I should just let them believe I live the Downton life.

The Downton Life