Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Everyone is “catching fire” with this trilogy. Who wouldn’t idolize a gutsy heroine who triumphs over oppressive and depressing social circumstances,  and has, in Pinoy catchphrases, the “long hair” (pun intended) for having two knights in shining armor to fall in love with her and make her life much more tragic? Catching Fire is the exhilarating sequel that continues to describe the hardships of Katniss Everdeen, victor of the Hunger Games. She has been given false hopes by the Capitol on the promise of a peaceful existence after winning the live or die competition, because her edgy personality had offended President Snow and triggered a series of uprisings in the different Districts. Tradition had taken a drastic spin as the Quarter Quell, a grander version of the hunger games that happen every 25 yrs., scheduled to happen a few months after Katniss survived her harrowing experience, took a surprising feature. Participants will not go through the usual “reaping” process. Instead, all victors of the games, young and old, including Katniss of course, will kill each other off for the top spot.

Just the premise alone can send chills to your spine. One has to face the cream of the crop, and in history have become friends and family because of this privileged status until the rug was pulled. The cruelty of the Capitol has displayed itself more blatantly as Katniss, her family, Gale, Peeta, and Haymitch are under strict guarding to prevent escape or rebellious agenda. The heartbreak of our heroine is intensified in this novel, as the dilemmas push her to the brink of insanity, the overwhelming bad circumstances tear her apart.There was no other way but to face the games again. There was no other way but to leave Gale to save him too. There was no other option except to convince herself to play up a notch her supposed love for Peeta to convince the President and save him also. A lot of selflessness and sacrifice were expected of her, and her guts of steel are tested again when it seems like the odds are against her will to live.

The book ends with an intense cliffhanger, as the fire she has created in the hearts of the people of Panem has spread.  She has given them hope and a desire for freedom from the clutches of injustice. She has chosen to die, but she has realized that she will not die alone. Her confusion is every hero’s confusion. Will she experience a happy ending in Mockingjay? Let’s wait and see. Only a few days more and the last book will be released!

75 signs you’re a bibliophile!

We consider ourselves perched on the precipice of culture. Worshippers of the written word. Titans of tomes. Lovers of literature. We swarm the world with a voracious hunger cured only by sufficient mental and creative stimulation. We are in your office. We are in your schools. We may even be in your homes. You may even be one of us…

1. You actually completed an English degree.

Almost finished my coursework for Literary & Cultural Studies, but I have yet to pass the comprehensive exams before I get to start on my thesis. Imagine having to review literary theories from the Ancients to Post-Modernists. I just don’t have all the time in the world.

3. Harold Bloom actually makes sense.

Yeah, he’s helpful.

4. You’ve actually used the term “hack writer” unironically…

Some journalists are, so I bet some are too. Those who go along the hype of a trend (the cult fiction for vampires, for example), aren’t really taken seriously.

5. You fight to diversify the literary canon.

Classics can be a bore, admit it. I don’t fight against the classics that I like, but I appreciate contemporary writers.

7. You have a little vein in your forehead that throbs whenever you hear about sparkly vampires.

If it’s a good thing, nope. If that’s bad, hell yeah. They just turned a vampire into a laughingstock.

12. You have ardently argued that comic books deserve to be considered literature on par with more “acceptable” formats like short stories and novels.

Alan Moore & Neil Gaiman deserve a spot in literary history!

13. Seeing “Based on the bestselling novel by…” in a movie trailer makes you dizzy.

I’ve no expectations, or it’ll ruin my movie experience. I have a healthy sense of detachment 🙂

14. You’d read in the car if you could.

I do, but it gives me eye strain/migraines.

16. Used, local and specialty bookstores are your kryptonite.

I ❤ Zeitgeist bookstore!

18. You start a book blog just for the ARCs.

Maybe I should start asking to be paid…haha, kidding!

26. You actually know the difference between you’re/your, they’re/their/there and it’s/its.


30. You think Kindles, Nooks, iPads and other electronic books take a little something away from the reading experience.

I do.

34. You prefer the term “erotica.”

Anaïs Nin books are not pornographic!

40. You actually read the included supplementary material.

I once bought ALL the supplementary materials for His Dark Materials, just because I was making my final term paper on it (including the movie supplementary, harhar).

42. You love incorporating books into your home décor.

Very much! Bookshelves and hardbound books are very pretty.

44. You have one specific genre or subgenre that you absolutely hate and avoid at all costs.

Chick lit. Maybe am just afraid of seeing my juvenile issues in them.

48. You’re reluctant to lend out your books.

Because I’ve lost my signed Coraline, am more hesistant now.

50. You never walk out of a bookstore empty-handed.

On sales, yes. But I try to restrain myself.

63. You enjoy reading the more obscure works in a popular writer’s oeuvre.

Roald Dahl’s short stories will horrify you. Definitely NOT for kids.

70. You are conflicted over the thought of writing on the pages.

I NEVER HIGHLIGHT. I use post-it flags 🙂

75. You really, really, really, really, really, really, really like books.

Why would I even waste time answering 75 items to prove that I am? :p

Lost and Found and other essays by Rica Bolipata-Santos

Her gift in storytelling is in her genes, as expected of a Bolipata offspring. This family’s hold of the arts has contributed significantly to Philippine culture, as the Bolipata children have been locally and internationally recognized for their excellence in music and painting. Rica here has ventured off that path to become a writer (but is a singer herself and is one of the pioneer members of the Bukas Palad Music Ministry). In Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo’s foreword of this book, Rica describes herself as a “closet writer,” a talent she just honed in the last decade as she enrolled for her doctoral studies in Creative Writing in U.P., which she also expounded on in the last essay of the book entitled “Why I Write”.

Lost and Found is a collection of essays she has written for her column in the broadsheet The Philippine Star over the years, and documents her honest musings on life, love, and family.  What does it mean to be “honest” in a field where words mask and conceal the truth for you to get it indirectly? Rica is frank about sometimes sensitive topics like self-discovery, mistakes,  desire, affirmation, special children, and difficult people.  She is brave in tackling these issues, and her straightforwardness on how she feels and what she thinks about these is what it’s all about. Truth is served to you in a silver platter, no holds barred. Despite serious topics, she is not too serious in tone.  Her delightful candidness shines through, her profundity in simplicity.

When I think of the word “hopeless,” I think of this other beautiful word despair. I think it’s beautiful because it sounds the way it should feel like. The air at the end of the word seems incapable of flight because of the harshness of the consonants d, s, and p. This is what despair feels like—a yearning hampered.

I am on first name basis on this review because yes, she is my friend 🙂 She shares her reflections with our group through leading the opening/closing prayers occasionally, writes for the print and album merchandise and promotional materials of Bukas Palad, and sends us hard copies or emails of her new essays even before she sends them to her publishers. It’s weird because sometimes she’s actually shy around people (she hates singing solos, and sometimes hides from persons she may have an awkward small talk moment with), but I’d like you to meet her, because she is a wonderful, wise woman.

Get to know her in this book published by the U.P. Press. Why not grab her first one too? Available at all National Bookstores and Powerbooks.

*Her first book (Love, Desire, Children, Etc. by Milflores Publishing, 2005) won the Madrigal-Gonzalez Best First Book Award. She has also been awarded by Free Press for an essay in English, and blogs at

Things Unsaid (last words)

Regulus Black, to Sirius Black

I tried to do what you would have done, in the end.

Peter Pettigrew, to James Potter

I wish I could take it back.

Gideon Prewett, to Arthur Weasley

You take good care of our Molly, you hear?

Merope Gaunt, to Tom Marvolo Riddle

Grow up strong like your father, Tommy. But learn to love.

Dobby, to Harry Potter

Harry Potter is safe now, sir. Dobby has repaid him.

Quirinus Quirrell, to Sibyll Trelawney

Travelling will bring great peril, indeed. I’m sorry I laughed.

Cedric Diggory, to Amos Diggory

I won, Dad. Aren’t you proud?

Colin Creevey, to Dennis Creevey

I died like a real wizard, Dennis. Isn’t that cool?

Kendra Dumbledore, to Ariana Dumbledore

I wish I could have fixed it. That’s what mothers are supposed to do, right?

Fred Weasley, to George Weasley

Don’t worry, George. I’m going to heaven. Guess how I know? Because we’re the Holy Spirit! Get it? Because you’re holey and I’m… dead. Please don’t cry.

Severus Snape, to Lily Evans

I tried to protect him, Lily. I can do no more.

Helena Ravenclaw, to Rowena Ravenclaw

I’m sorry I left, Mother. I’m not like you; I’ve always made stupid choices.

Hepzibah Smith, to Hokey the House Elf

Never trust a pretty face.

Bertha Jorkins, to Rita Skeeter

You’ll never believe who I met in Albania, Rita!

Igor Karkaroff, to Severus Snape

I vish I could haf had your bravery.

Gellert Grindelwald, to Albus Dumbledore

I killed her, Albus. And I’m sorry.

Mrs. Crouch, to Barty Crouch, Junior

Be happy, sweetheart.

Rowena Ravenclaw, to Helena Ravenclaw

I miss you. Please come home.

Fawkes, to Albus Dumbledore

I’ll be back. I promise.

Nymphadora Tonks-Lupin, to Remus Lupin

It was all too brief.