Saturday, 22 October 2011

Featured Author: Samantha Sotto sharing her first debut novel

I am pleased to introduce another Filipino achiever, no other than SAMANTHA SOTTO. She is the author of Before Ever After who happened to be the first Pinoy writer to publish a book by Crown Publishers/Random House (New York, USA).

I had the chance to chat with the author during her online radio station interview with PinoyRadioUK. Samantha's debut story was inspired by her travel experiences in Europe. Of course, I asked her to be featured in my blogsite and she answered some of the questions. She also maintains a blog for her fans to get more updates of her writings and travels, including promotional tours and signing engagements for her book.

Last month, I finally met her during the International Book Fair in Manila which I will also write a journal about the event very soon.

Samantha perfectly answered my top 10 questions!

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? When I typed "The End" after I wrote Before Ever After. I had written the book for fun, but the dream of publishing the book began only when I had finished it.

2. How long does it take you to write a book? About a year for writing and three months for editing. Time went by fast since I enjoyed the process.

3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing? I try to write for two to three hours every morning on weekdays.I'm on mommy duty the rest of the day.

4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? I cannot read other books while I'm writing. I don't want to inadvertently copy someone else's style.

5. What does your family think of your writing? They're very supportive, but they also give it to me straight. I really appreciate their honest feedback.

6. How many books have you written? Which is your favourite? Before Ever After is my first book. I'm working on my next book now.

7. Do you hear from your readers much? Wha kind of things do they say? Yes! They send me notes of appreciation about the book and share how they were able to relate to the story.

8. What do you think makes a good story? As a reader, I appreciate stories with intriguing mystery boxes, fascinating characters, and good pacing.

9. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? I wanted to be Tina Monzon Palma. (note: Tina is one of the respected and excellent tv broadcasters in the Philippines).

10. Who is your favourite author(s)? Neil Gaiman. I love his humor and the way he weaves magic into his stories.

THANK YOU SAM and I am glad that I met you in person! Im bit busy at the moment, but I will write my review of the book soon! To find more about her debut novel and updates, visit her blogsite: SamanthaSotto.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Manila International Book Fair 2011

VENUE : Exhibit Halls 1 – 4, SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City, Metro Manila

EVENT DATES: September 14 - 18, 2011

EVENT HOURS: 10:00 A.M. – 8:00 P.M.

ORGANIZERS: Primetrade Asia, Incorporated
5th Floor Accelerando Building,395 Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Bry. Bel-Air, 1209 Makati City, Metro Manila
Telephone Nos. (632) 896-0661, 896-0682 • Fax No.: (632) 896-0695; Website:

PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS: Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP); Asian Catholic Communicators, Inc. (ACCI); Philippine Booksellers Association, Inc. (PBAI); Overseas Publishers’ Representatives Association of the Philippines (OPRAP)

SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS: Association of Special Libraries of the Philippines (ASLP); Medical & Health Librarians Association of the Philippines (MAHLAP); Ortigas Center Library Consortium (OCLC) Inc.; Philippine Association of Academic and Research Librarians (PAARL); Philippine Association of Teachers of Library Science (PATLS); Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. (PLAI); University of the Philippines Library Science Alumni Assn. (UPLSA).

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Bjorn Lomborg: the skeptical environmentalist

I MET HIM IN PERSON WHEN I WAS A POSTGRAD STUDENT at the University of Queensland (UQ), Brisbane (Australia). He gave a free public lecture on 01 October 2003 at the UQ Centre, and who wrote a book-selling book, The Skeptical Environmentalist - Measuring the Real State of the World. The book became controversial among the communities of scientists and environmentalists arguing that the "book's litany of errors and misinterpretations can be explained by the fact that the author has no qualifications in any area related to it." Some groups also cricitised Cambridge University Press for publishing and promoting the book which is an "error-filled, poorly referenced and non-reviewed work."

I purchased the book at A$50.95 and Bjorn got it signed after his lecture at UQ. Surprisingly, almost one-third of the book content is pages of Notes and Bibliography, and still it is referred as "poorly-referenced" work.

I do share with Bjorn's ideas on the real state of our environment. He states that: "the key idea is what we ought not to let the environmental organizations, business lobbyists or the media be alone in presenting truths and priorities. Rather, we should strive for a careful democratic check on the environmental debate, by knowing the real state of the world - having knowledge of the most important facts and connections in the essential areas of our world."

Global warming is one of the hottest issues of the present time and Bjorn clearly explained three important lessons that everyone should know about it: (a) First, we have to realize what we are arguing about - do we want to handle global warming in the most efficient way or do we want to use global warming as a stepping stone to other political projects; (b) Second, we should not spend vast amounts of money to cut a tiny slice of the global temperature increase when this constitutes a poor use of resources and when we could probably use these funds far more effectively in the developing world; and (c) Third, we should realize that the cost of global warming will be substantial...since cutting back CO2 emissions quickly becomes very constly, and easily counterproductive, we should focus more of our effort at finding ways of easing the emission of greenhouse gases over the long run. AMEN TO THAT!!!

Only at the middle of this year that I bought another book authored by him entitled, COOL IT at discounted price of 200 pesos (hardbound, less than 5 US dollars) only. Again, one-third of the book contains notes and reference list! Bjorn supported my understanding about Global Warming, or now it is popularly coined as "Climate Change" because the earth is totally cooling at the moment! The book argues that: "(a) global warming is real and man-made; (b) statements about the strong, ominous and immediate consequences of global warming are often wildly exaggerated; and (c) many other issues are much more important than global warming."

FINALLY, I do share Bjorn's sentiments that his books can help us to better understand the various environmental issues that our Mother Earth is facing... be smarter about solutions to solve them, and also to regain our perspective on the most effective and efficient ways to make Mother Earth a better place that all of us desire to achieve!

Note: Cool It is now a motion the trailer below!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

National Bookstore (Philippines) sales still goin' on...

BEING A "LAKING NATIONAL" cardholder, I get points for every purchase and turn to peso equivalent from this biggest bookshop in the Philippines. National Bookstore is currently offers cut-off prices of books up to 75%. This offers started last 29 July and will end on the 21st August.
Since I arrived Manila last May 2011, I already bought dozens of books of my favourite authors as low as 75 pesos (approx 1 pound/1.7 US dollars)! It seems that it is already a habit to visit this bookshop during weekends and I can not help to grab one or two pocket books to be added to my personal collection.

With my present commitment at work, it is difficult to update my blog or even write a journal on books that Ive bought and read. Despite this, my enthusiasm to share my passion for books is not fading but thriving every day! Even I seldom write on my blog, it does not mean that I dont read or buy books... believe me, it is addictive to read stories! Of course, dont forget that I have my best companion, Amazon Kindle that gives me the convenience to read while travelling - inside the MRT or just sipping a coffee at Starbucks! I am currently reading three books - one before I sleep, one from my Kindle and another copy in my office bag!

By the way, National Bookstore near Getaway/Araneta Coliseum has a whole floor dedicated for second-hand books at very reasonable prices. So, if you have the chance to visit Cubao, then why not spend time to find out by yourself of what I've discovered!

Go...share your passion in lead...

Monday, 20 June 2011

Ambeth Ocampo: A Filipino Writer's book signing at Powerbooks

AMBETH OCAMPO IS A FILIPINO HISTORIAN, a well-known journalist and currently a professor of Ateneo de Manila University's History Department is having a booksigning at Powerbooks in Trinoma shopping mall (Quezon City, Philippines) on the 24th June 2011. Powerbooks organised this Ocampo's talk and booksigning in celebration of Jose Rizal's 15oth birthday anniversary. (Click the left image for details).

Ambeth is also invited to give a lecture at Ayala Museum, Makati (Philippines) on the 25h June. His talk is entitled Mukhang Pera: Banknotes and Nation. There is a fee of PHP350, inclusive for museum admission and a complimentary book of Ocampo, entitled Meaning and History - The Rizal Lectures.



Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Books on Sales @ PowerBooks and Fullybooked (Philippines)

ONE OF THE BOOKSTORE CHAINS IN THE PHILIPPINES is offering a selection of discounted books up to 80 percent until June 15, 2011. POWERBOOKS located at Mall of Asia (MOA) is now on clearance sale as the store is closing down very soon. The store is also offering online purchase and free delivery for a minimum single receipt of purchase of 5,000 pesos. This is free delivery service for Metro Manila area only. For details, click the images or HERE.

ANOTHER BOOKSTORE, FULLY BOOKED is also offering a weekend sale at Mall of Asia in celebration of the Philippine Independence Day (June 12).

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

BookFace: Courtesy of Chapters & Pages (Philippines)

THIS IS THE FIRST JOURNAL OF MY BOOKFACE series featuring books that I purchased in the Philippines. As usual, visiting bookstores and bargain bookshops is always included in my window shopping. I was surprised that alot of bookstores are now flourishing in the metropolis (inside the malls), aside from the original ones like National Bookstore and Powerbooks.

When I left the Philippines in 2005, it was hard to find secondhand books unless I have to go to the university belt in C.M.Recto where old copies could be found. At that time, it was also expensive to hardbound books.

But few weeks ago, I found this bookshop at Market Market in the newly developed commercial district of Taguig (adjoining Bel-Air area), The Global City - the former Fort Bonifacio military camp. Chapters & Pages is located at the ground floor of the mall offering discounted books - from children to adults. The store is also promoting "buy one take one" at 100 pesos (almost US$2.50 or 1.50 sterling pounds).

After browsing for almost an hour, I was happy to bring the above three hardbound books home. Saving Private Ryan became a movie first under the direction of Steven Spielberg in 1998 and the book is based on its screenplay (Robert Rodat). This is my first attempt to read a book based from the film so I dont know if the book will exceed the outstanding reviews of the motion picture. The Children of Men also became a motion picture directed by Eduardo Cuaron in 2006. Written by P.D. James, a British writer and I only found out few weeks ago while reading a newspaper in London that she is a female novelist! Finally, Mary Higgins Clark's three complete novels (Weep No More, My Lady; StillWatch; and A Cry in the Night) in one edition. She is my first female author that really inspired me to read more, more and more! Surprisingly, I also discovered that most of her novels were became popular to be adapted in tv productions.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Featured Author: Stuart Neild - horror and thriller mastermind

MY NEXT FEATURED AUTHOR IS SOMEONE WHO CAN STIR OUR IMAGINATION. Stuart Neild loves to write stories that go behind our wildest dreams. Unfortunately, I havent finished one of his ebooks, but Im sure it entice my appetite for horror, suspense and thriller plots.
I met Stuart online thru Amazon Kindle Facebook fanpage whom Im the administrator and he signed-up to become a member of the group. Without any hesitation, he accepted by invitation to be featured in my blog. I asked him some questions to get to know him better as a writer, and so here are his answers!

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I was very young. I can’t put an exact age on it, but I must have been about eight or nine.

2. How long does it take you to write a book? It all depends. My first published book was 100k words and took a year. A shorter book like the 40k worded Giant Killer Eels took three months

3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing? Once again it depends. I could be working away quite nicely on a novel, only to be yanked off it to do some screenplay work. Up to now, I’ve come pretty close to have certain works of mine filmed. My first novel A Haunted Man was in development in Hollywood for quite a while. And only last year a promo was shot for a British TV series I was co- writing with the very talented British director, WJ Davies.

4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? That while I’m writing my books I have a bowl of healthy food to my left side, salad etc and to my right a plate of unhealthy food, burgers, fries. If everything is going to plan I eat from the left side, if it’s not, I comfort eat from the right. I’ve put on a couple of stones in the last few years.

5. What do you like to do when you're not writing? I’m really into reading on the kindle, it’s opened up whole new works to me that just wouldn’t have been available before. Some of them are great, some of them should never have been available, but I still want to peek anyway.

6. What does your family think of your writing? My Mother and Father have been very supportive, so have my children. My wife stands there watching and waiting like a hawk for any money that comes in. She’s still waiting now, in the corner over there with her hand outstretched. Doesn’t miss a trick that one.

7. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? The fact that I’m still fired up and hungry to do more work after all these years, after all the disappointments and few victories, it still seems fresh, enjoyable and worth doing.

8. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? I’ve written seven books so far and I have to say I like Gnomes the best. It’s full of very dark humor going close to the line of bad taste (and sometimes straying over the line.) It was a guilty pleasure writing it, but it seems to have won an audience as it’s my second most popular book.

9. Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they? Just practice. It’s the same in any art or sport, the more you do it, the more you learn and the more(in theory), you should improve.

10. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? Yes, I do hear from readers and there’s nothing better than hearing that they’ve enjoyed what you’ve written. The buzz from that is amazing.

11. What do you think makes a good story? Something that’s interesting. I think for the past two decades we’ve been bogged down in books full of wordy prose and padding that was only there to make the page count bigger. Somewhere along the way, snappy, interesting story telling that kept you entertained and hooked got a little lost. I think that’s coming back now with the Indie e-book market.

12. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? My first thought was to be older, but on second thoughts, it was a toss-up between being a writer and a superhero. I didn’t fancy the wearing of ones underpants on the outside that goes with being a superhero, so I choose to be a writer instead.

13. Who is your favourite author (s)? Guy N Smith has always been a writing hero of mine. Guy’s works were massive in the UK in the seventies and eighties. One of the first horror novels I ever read was Night of the Crabs by Guy. It’s a cult classic and still a favorite. It went on to spawn another five crab books and sell hundreds of thousands. I know they say you shouldn’t meet your idols but I met mine and I have to say, Guy is one of the most down to earth, nicest people you could meet. So nice in fact that myself and another writer, Dave Jeffery (check his work out now, he’s a genius) are writing the seventh crab novel for charity with Guy’s blessing.

14. If you are recommending one of your latest book to a friend - how would you describe it? The First Ghost Town, it will change your life forever, but will it be for the better or the worse, do you have the guts to find out?

INDEED I'M PLEASED THAT STUART AGREED TO BE PART OF MY blogsite and it seems that he really enjoying his craft as a writer. Stuart, thank you again for giving me free copies of your ebooks. Surely, I will post my review very soon! All his ebooks are available for download from both Amazon and Smashwords at very reasonal prices...

Monday, 9 May 2011

A close encounter with Candy Gourlay (Tall Story's author)

(L-R: Myself, Lou Ramos, Candy G. and Mark W.). Im honoured to meet Candy Gourlay, the author of Tall Story in London last week prior to my departure to Manila. She even shared her latest vacation escapade in Manila especially when she and friends did a nature-trek to Mt. Pinatubo! It was really entertaining and hilarious story...

Tall Story grabbed the Crystal Kite Prize and shortlisted for this year's Primary Children's Book Prize of Warwickshire Library Service (UK).

I also extend my thanks to Ms Lou Ramos (of Philippine Embassy, London) for being the host of this meet-up, and nice knowing Mark (one of the founders of One Filipino).

To find more about Candy Gourlay, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Money is the root of good and bad things…

JEFFREY ARCHER’S FIFTH SHORT STORIES COLLECTION contains a dozen of interesting plots with unexpected endings. Cat O’Nine Tales is another masterpiece from Jeff after his two years of incarceration – actually he picked the ideas for these stories while he was inside bars.

The twelve stories include the following: (1) The Man who robbed his own post office, (2) Maetro, (3) Don’t drink the water, (4) It can’t be October already, (5) The red king, (6) The wisdom of Solomon, (7) Know what I mean, (8) Charity begins at home, (9) The alibi, (10) A Greek tragedy, (11 The commissioner, and (12) In the eye of the beholder.

Among these stories, I like the plot and characters in (1), (2), (4), (6), (7), (8) and (10). “The man who robbed his own post office” is actually a couple that robbed their own business firm to earn back their original investment because they feel that the money will not be returned to them even they will work hard for the rest of their lives. The second story, Maestro is funny and unpredictable. Again, it is quite a reflection of a real situation when people try to evade from paying taxes. “It can’t be October already” (4th story) on the other hand, it is also a funny story - something that reflects the weakness of the legal system and being abused by criminals. The 6th story also shows how the legal process can pass fair judgment; while the 7th story that proves that despite the laws and regulations are properly administered and enforced, still there are some people can evade or get away from it. While the 8th story, Charity begins at home tells us that there are simple means in getting richer by money laundering. Finally, the 10th story also tells us that sometimes bad things happen for reasons, consequently the outcomes influence the way people live their lives.

Overall, Jeff proves that money is the main cause of all troubles and his stories also illustrate on how money can greatly influence our way of living, BUT it can also provide good karma to people. From a legal perspective, Jeff told the stories that allow the readers to understand the grounds for crime and the loopholes or weaknesses within the legal system. It is not a straight forward storytelling, but always with unexpected twists that linger in our mind for a while...

"A storyteller in the class of Alexander Dumas. . . Unsurpassed skill…making the reader wonder intensely what will happen next." (The Washington Post)

"There isn't a better story-teller alive." (Larry King)

"Archer is a master entertainer." (Time)

"Archer is a terrific story-teller, and meets the reader's ultimate tests---to want to turn the page to see what happens next." (Sunday Times, London)

"Probably the greatest storyteller of our age." (Mail on Sunday, London)

"Jeffrey Archer has a gift for plot that can only be described as genius." (Daily Telegraph, London)

"Cunning plots, silken style . . . Archer plays a cat-and-mouse game with the reader." (The New York Times)

Note: This book in hardbound is part of my Read-Release Challenge which is my personal commitment with my first participation in World Book Night 2011 (UK). I gave it as a birthday gift to a new friend from Nigeria and she's also a PhD student at the university where I'm currently enrolled.

Friday, 22 April 2011

BookFace: Short stories of Filipino Tales courtesy of Manybooks

ANOTHER SET OF EBOOKS ABOUT FILIPINO TALES AVAILABLE IN MANYBOOKSdotNET. Not written in Filipino (Tagalog), but it is worth discovering Pinoy folklores and anting-anting stories which are translated/presented in English.

From the editor's Foreword, he describes the book (Anting-Anting) as a "collection of simple yet powerful stories...with dramatic vividness - pirates, half naked natives, pearls, man-apes, towering volcanoues...these remarkable stories written by Sargent Kayme dont exaggerate the realities of this strange life...strangest, perhaps, of all these possibilities for fiction is the anting-anting, at once a mysterious power to protect its possessor and the outward symbol of the protection."

On the other hand, Fansler's popular tales were collected during the years from 1908 to 1914. Written down in English but not in the original vernacular languages (Visayans, Tagalog, etc.) for the main reason of "recording these tales has been a literary one, not a linguistic one..."

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Book Catcher Series Six: Courtesy of Enable Ireland (Dublin)

SINCE I AM LEAVING FOR MANILA (PHILIPPINES) VERY SOON, I DECIDED TO VISIT DUBLIN (IRELAND) FOR THE LAST TIME. I visited some of the iconic urban forms (Spire, James Joyce, Temple Bar, Halfpenny bridge, etc.) at the city centre, including Makati Avenue Restaurant owned by a Filipina businesswoman. She even prepared authentic Filipino halo-halo (sweet icy dessert) for my me and my two companions.

As usual, I'm on my book hunt and luckily there was a charity shop nearby. Enable Ireland (Capel Street) is an Irish non-profit organisation that provides free services to children and adults with disabilities and their families from 40 locations in 14 counties.

With few minutes of browsing of its discounted books, I finally grabbed two bestseller copies of The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) and Northern Lights (Philip Pullman) tagged at 1 Euro (approximately 50 pesos)! The Lovely Bones became a box office motion picture last year and it is a sad engaging story which somehow convinced me to grab the book, while Northern Lights (1995) is the first book of Pullman well-known trilogy, His Dark Materials and this book is also included in the launching of World Book Night 2011 in Britain. Northern Lights is the winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Award. Im also interested to read the its continuing story, The Subtle Knife (1997) and concluding part, The Amber Spyglass (2000). The Amber Spyglass received the Whitbread Book of the Year Award - the first time in the history of that prize given to a children's book.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Featured Author: Phillip Thomas Duck shares his passion for writing romantic stories

I FOUND MY NEXT FEATURED AUTHOR THRU GOODREADS WEBSITE. His name is Phillip Thomas Duck who is also an active member of my newly created Facebook Group page: Amazon Kindle/Ebook readers that provides information on free ebook downloads from various websites (aside from Amazon). I already read his sexy short stories collection, One Quick Kiss and the first offering of his romantic suspense series, Excuse Me, Miss to get to know his writing style and characters.

Phillip is happy to be part of my blogsite and shares his passion for writing romantic stories. Despite his hectic schedule and deadline, he was able to answers some of the queries that I asked him which might serve as inspiration to us readers and aspiring writers worldwide. And of course, Im hoping that we include his ebook novellas in our reading list.

1. How long does it take you to write a book? It generally takes me about four months to write a decent draft of a full-length novel. Then I embark on the task of rewriting and revising. My favorite part of writing is actually this second phase, when a novel comes into shape and is no longer just a big hunk of clay.

2. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? I’ve heard other writers say that they couldn’t start writing until they have a title, and I fall in the same category. My biggest quirk, however, would probably be my insistence that words line up nicely on the page. I can’t stand paragraphs that don’t fit into a nice box shape.

3. What do you like to do when you're not writing? Listening to music. Watching the NBA or NFL. Playing with my daughter. Reading a good book.

4. What does your family think of your writing? Hemingway who? I’m the greatest writer the world has ever known.

5. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? That sometimes the characters would stop listening to me and do their own thing. Now, I’ve come to appreciate it when that happens, because it means the story is truly turning into something creative.

6.How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? Six published traditionally, with a seventh due out in August. Three independently published novellas. They’re all my children, I can’t pick a favorite. I poured my heart and soul into the writing of each one.

7. Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they? Read a lot. Make sure Sol Stein’s books on writing are a part of their library. Write everyday. Follow their heart and not the trends of the moment. Make the writing sensual. I have a note above my keyboard reminding me to include all of the senses in my writing.

8. What do you think makes a good story? Every great story is driven by characters a reader can care about, and the thwarting of that character’s wants, needs, and desires. That’s the classic story.

9. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? Score 50 points against Michael Jordan. But I stopped growing at a shade over six feet tall and my knees wouldn’t cooperate.

10. Who is your favourite author (s)? I love the crime fiction genre above all else so my favorite writers are primarily of that ilk. George Pelecanos, Daniel Woodrell, James Lee Burke, Lee Child, Walter Mosley, Jonathan Kellerman and on and on.

Phillip's newly published ebook, Distracted is out now and available in Amazon and Smashwords, including his previous novellas and short stories at very reasonable prices. My reviews for his ebooks will be posted here in my blogsite very soon, so watch out for that as well. Again, thank you very much Phillip for sharing your writing experiences to us and we look forward to your next ebooks.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

BookFace: Amazon Freebies on Business and Environment

BOTH OF AMAZON.COM AND AMAZON.CO.UK offer these ebooks free for download at a limited period. Hurry up, check it out and you can still be able to read them thru your computers using Whispersync - reader for Amazon ebooks.

Note: If the links of these ebooks are directed to, you can also search the titles using These options allow you to download these ebooks depending in your location and for some they vary on the kindle registration. For example, my kindle is still registered in the US, so I use the to transfer these freebies, eventhough that I currently live in the UK.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Book Catcher Series Five: courtesy of The Works (Britain's discount store)

THE WORKS IS ONE OF MY FAV BOOKSHOPS IN BELFAST. It offers a variety of publications and school supplies. Visiting this bookshop is already part of my regular window shopping at the city centre. Hardcovers are always expensive compare to paperback copies. However, this shop offers cheaper prices for both copies. Believe it or not, my recent catch from the store is hardcopies of the following books: The Jesus Papers - Esposing the Greatest Cover-up in History (Michael Baigent), and JFK In Ireland - Four Days that Changed a President (Ryan Tubridy) for 2.99 and 3.99 sterling pounds, respectively. Baigent is the co-author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, while Tubridy is an award-winning broadcaster in Ireland and currently the presenter of the world's longest running chat show, The Late Late Show.

Briefly, Baigent's book takes the reader step by step through explosive new evidence that challenges everything we know about the life and death of Jesus Christ. While Tubridy's book captures the time that the late US President Kennedy (the first Irish Catholic American US President) is visiting the Republic of Ireland in June 1963.

Monday, 11 April 2011

WBN 2011 Read-Release Challenge Part 2

I STARTED THIS PERSONAL CHALLENGE in March after the World Book Night launched on 5 March 2011. This is a commitment to read and release books every month. My first release was the book written by Candy Gourlay, Tall Story and a reader from the Philippines won the two paperback copies of Tall Story with an inclusion of a bookplate. For details, CLICK HERE.The releases are recorded using BookCrossing ten-digit tracking system.

For this month of April 2011, Im releasing one of the short stories' collections of Jeffrey Archer, entitled Cat O'Nine Tales. It is a hardcover which contains 12 stories, including drawings by Ronald Searle. The difference for this month's release is that I personally given this book as a bday present to a friend from Nigeria who just started her PhD programme at my university in Northern Ireland. Since it is a gift, my friend can keep it or she can release or pass it to her friends.

Note: Jeffrey Archer is one of my fav British authors. I really enjoyed these short stories which reminded me that MONEY is the root of all evils but it also serves as an inspiration for people to change their lives for the better. Majority of these stories were came to Jeff during his two years imprisonment. My review will follow very soon!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

C.S. Lewis: the magical world of Narnia

The Linen Hall Library (Belfast) organised an exhibition that featured the popular Irish novelist, C.S. Lewis who created the magical world of Narnia. With my personal fascination of Lewis' writings, I have already collected most of his stories and visited some of the Belfast landmarks, including the place that inspired Lewis to write about Narnia - the Mountains of Mourne. I climbed the mountains in two separate occasions!

The exhibition also taught me some basic facts about C.S Lewis books. I learned the suggested sequence in reading his Narnia series as follows: (1) The Magicians Nephew - 1955, (2) The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - 1950, (3) The Horse and his Boy - 1954, (4) Prince Caspian - 1951, (5) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - 1952, (6) The Silver Chair - 1953, (7) The Last Battle - 1956. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is the first published story of the seven Chronicles of Narnia, and then followed by Prince Caspian. The Magicians Nephew should be read first for you to understand the creation of Narnia - how Lewis started the fascinating characters and other things (like wardrobe) in the chronicles.

Note: Click the images and you will be directed to the podcast, or HERE of the talk/lecture series about the life and writings of Lewis and to find out more of the symbolism and iconography of Narnia.

BookFaces from the Book Depository: My first online purchase

WHEN I FOUND OUT THAT THE BOOK DEPOSITORY is offering free delivery any where in the world, without a second thought I placed my first order online. But why children's books written by Morris Gleitzman? It is a long story but... seven years ago, I lived in Brisbane, Australia as part of my postgrad program and this was the time that my passion for books started.

For two years, I collected different books - from fantasy to children's books with authors that are unknown to me. At that time, I was collecting and reading books not based on bestseller's status, but guided by films or friends' recommendation. Surprisingly, I collected books that required me to send 6 balikbayan boxes to Manila for door-door delivery. Until now, these books are still kept inside the boxes - waiting for me to release them and maybe they are excited to feel the fresh air and some touches from dust!

Since I was busy with a research project at the university, I concentrated on children's books which are more manageable to read and less time consuming to finish the books. And this the reason why I was captivated with Morris Glietzman's stories and introduced the adventures of Limpy, the toad... I loved his Limpy and Goliath tandem stories - from Toad Heaven to Toad Rage!

Then few weeks ago, I decided to buy Gleitzman books from the Book Depository - a trilogy (Once, Then and Now). Once and Then are previously published separately but the latest edition contained both of them. With excitement, I immediately read them all in a matter of less than a week... I finished reading Now few hours ago!

Synopsis (from GoodReads) : (THEN and ONCE) That's the good thing with stories. There's always a chance they can come true. Felix is lucky. Unlike the other children in the orphanage, he's certain his parents will come back for him one day. And whatever the Nazis do and however many books they burn, Felix's imagination provides him and his companions with an endless supply of stories - stories that protect them when they're on the run, shield them from the violent madness all around, give them hope when all seems lost, and one day may even save Felix's life. (NOW) Morris Gleitzman's acclaimed story of friends Felix and Zelda in Nazi-occupied Poland has captured the hearts and minds of readers worldwide. In "Now", he delivers the final chapter, bringing this most moving of stories into the present day.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Featured Author: Candy Gourlay - the author behind the success of Tall Story

I AM VERY FORTUNATE TO BE ABLE TO INTERVIEW SOME OF THE PROMISING AUTHORS for my blogsite and indeed a nice feeling when they have a Filipino lineage like my next featured writer. CANDY GOURLAY is the author of Tall Story - a children book released in Great Britain in 2010 and got numerous international award nominations. I also chose the book as my first Read-Release World Challenge giveaway. CLICK HERE for my review which was dedicated to all the people affected by the earthquake/tsunami that struck Japan on the 11th March 2011.

I havent met Candy in person but hopefully we will meet before I go home to Manila in May. So, expect some snapshots of Candy and myself, including some updates from her forthcoming novel. Without further a do, here she is, Candy answering my few questions and to get know her. Find out more about her inspirations to write Tall Story - an amazing story that tells about Bernardo, an eight-foot tall lad.

1. When and why did you begin writing? I wanted to become a writer from the I realized that reading was cool - I was about six and the long hot summer stretched out ahead of me. My grandmother had a complete collection of a 1930s serial called the Beverley Gray Mysteries. I picked one up and realized that the words made paragraphs and the paragraphs made chapters and before you knew it, I had finished the book. I read every single book in her series that summer! Beverley Gray was a reporter who was desperate to get published as a novelist. So by the time I finished the book, I wanted to do exactly the same!

2. Who has influenced your writing? My mother aspired to become a writer when she was a teenager and as we were growing up, she often talked with great fondness about her time on her high school literary magazine and she would read to me from Horacio de la Costa's Like the Molave ("Gods walk on brown legs"). She used to buy any Filipiniana children's fiction there was and my greatest treat as a child was a trip to Erehwon bookstore in Makati. So I think it was my mother who encouraged me to think of myself as a writer.As for writing itself, in terms of technique, I read enormously but there are two authors that I carry around with me when I'm writing in cafes. I don't know why but when I dip into their books, I feel enabled to write! One is Geraldine McCaughrean who wrote the White Darkness and the other is Ray Bradbury.

3. Who is your favourite author? What a difficult question. I have a different favourite author every few months! As a child, my favourite author was Louisa May Alcott who wrote the Little Women books - but this was because I wanted to be of her characters (Jo, the writer). When I read Little Women now I wonder how I managed to get through it - the language was so archaic. As a child I also loved Samuel Clemens (The Prince and the Pauper). It was after I read Holes by Louis Sachar that I became really serious about becoming an author.

4. Why did you pick your setting for debut novel, Tall Story? Tall Story is set in the Philippines and in London. One of the reasons I did this was because I wanted to write a book for my children who have grown up in both settings. The Newbery winning author Richard Peck once said if a child can't find himself in the pages of a book, he will go looking for himself in all the wrong places. My kids will certainly find themselves in Tall Story.

5. How long did it take you to write this book? It took me ten months!

6. If you are recommending your book to a friend - how would you describe it? It's about a brother and sister getting to know each other after years of being separated by immigration paperwork, only to find that they still have to cross a gulf created by language, culture and calamity.

TALL STORY Book Trailer from Candy Gourlay on Vimeo.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR BEING MY FEATURED AUTHOR which I'm sure that one or two or even more will be inspired by your writings and hopefully be able to grab a copy of your bestselling book, Tall Story. Good luck and hope to see you soon in London!

Note: For more info about Candy, CLICK HERE for her Facebook FanPage, and HERE for her own blogsite. Or you can even click the photo above for you to be directed to her blogsite. If you are interested to find out who is my first featured author, (who happened to be the author of the two unpublished ebooks), CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Book Catcher 2011 Series Four courtesy of BookCrossing Meet-up

IM A MEMBER OF BOOKCROSSING NORTHERN IRELAND(BCNI) Book Club, unfortunately, I dont have time to attend the monthly meeting. But this month I was able to catch up with the group inside a bar in Belfast. As usual, every member brought their own books to swap with others, and for my share, I brought the remaining copies of Sarah Waters' novel, Fingersmith that I've also distributed during the World Book Night (WBN) last 05 March 2011.

At the end of the meet-up, I brought home three books: A Life Like Other People's (Alan Bennett), Memoir of Geisha (Arthur Golden), and Beatrice and Virgil (Yann Martel). Bennett's book is included in the WBN 25 book titles and one of the members of the club swapped with my book, Fingersmith. Geisha was published in 1997 and became a major motion picture, while Beatrice and Virgil was published in 2010 with the same author of the winner of the Man Book Prize, Life of Pi.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

BookFace: Academic ebooks for a grab

ACADEMIC TEXTBOOKS ARE VERY EXPENSIVE since I was in college/uni taking-up a Civil Engineering degree a long time ago! It was a frustrating experience when the professors/lecturers were using textbooks that dont have much copies available in the library. Indeed, it was an annoying feeling to reserve the books and waiting for other students returned the copies, at the same time catching up with numerous project/research work deadlines.

Students nowadays are more luckier considering that majority of course/module handouts are given-out by the lecturers and more reference books are readily available in the library. Of course, with internet/online connection, it is much easier and manageable to do further readings or to do the assignments.

With the introduction of e-reading devices (like the Amazon Kindle), some of these academic books are now accessible to everyone - free of charge. I chose some of them (as shown above) that I think more helpful for students and teachers or even for those people (like me) who want to review some of the basic theories in geometry, trigonometry, earth science and chemistry.

NOTE: These ebooks are freebies in and for both UK and US regions at the time of posting. It might NOT be free in other regions but normally available for discounted prices.