Friday, 11 March 2011

Miracles happen every day...let us pray for earthquake/tsunami victims

THIS BOOK REVIEW IS DIFFERENT FROM the rest of my previous reviews. Honestly, I don't intend to write this review very soon but today is very important for us to offer our prayers and support (in any means) to people who are currently affected by a 8.9 magnitude earthquake (that created tsunamis/surges) in Japan (coast of Sendai City) and for those people in Christchurch (New Zealand) that suffered the same fate few weeks ago. With this journal, it is my simple way to extend my concern which could also remind people to be vigilant in times of calamities. What a coincidence that Candy Gourlay's debut novel has something to do with the human spirit when unexpected natural disasters strike. It tackles issues related to cultural indifferences, sibling relationship, belongingness (peers acceptance), and friendship. The story evolves in the personal life and family of Bernardo - a young lad, who lives in one of the towns of Metro Manila with unusual height of 8-foot tall - still growing; but for his neighbours/townmates he is a hero who has the power to stop earthquakes. Trying to live-up with the community expectation and his "humongous" structure, Bernardo (Nardo) also struggles to be just a normal kid and hoping that he finally visit his mother's family in London. On the other hand, the book also brings the life of Andi, the half-sister of Nardo who loves to play basketball! Ultimately, these young siblings meet-up and interactions are the main ingredients of the novel. The book is categorised as a children's story, but honestly, there are underlying messages that the author would like to convey, not only for those kids who love to play basketball, who believe in myths/tales, but also for adults (like me) being captivated by Filipino hero characters (like Bernardo Carpio, Darna, Ang Panday, and many others) and supertitious beliefs. And most importantly, the story rekindles the human spirit, hope, faith and courage - having them could bring miracles in our lives, especially in time of calamities and family problems. In particular, the story also provides a glimpse of Filipino culture like: the struggles among Filipinos working abroad (aka OFWs) to bring a bright future for their families left back in the Philippines. On the lighter side of it, the author shows the comical side in the lives of Bernardo and Andi with their loved ones and friends. Cultural differences and individual expectation among siblings also bring sense of humor and entertainment in the story.
"So many years I wear rubber slippers or sandals because no shoes fitting me. Timbuktu sandals good but London very too cold to have bare toes." - Nardo
After reading this book, it allows me to reflect on issues relating to natural disaster preparedness, culture shock (living, working, studying overseas) and immigration issues. It reminded me of my personal experience during the 1990 (16 July) earthquake that struck the Philippines with a magnitude of 7.8 (epicenter). I dont know but it was a death-threatening moment trying to hide myself under the office table as the whole building moved furiously. Another important highlight of the story is about the eagerness of Filipinos to work abroad. As poverty haunts them back in the Philippines, they work hard only to send remittances to their families. Referrred as Overseas Filipinos Workers (aka OFWs), they have the same fate that Nardo's has, struggling to be heroes - helping their loved ones back home despite the hardships of living/working abroad! The author is clever enough to bring some of the Filipino way of living: giving a name to a child (using best friend's name, a syllable combination from parents' name, using grandparents' name, or father name - becomes Junior/Jr). I was surprised that the author did not use "Junior" (aka Jr) for Bernardo's nickname since his first name is derived from his late father's name. Moreover, I thought that the issue on immigration is a bit outdated and doubtful considering that Bernardo's petition took a long time to process. I assumed that the parents asked a solicitor's assistance to expedite the process which was not explicitly explained in the story. Another minor situation presented in the book that I disagree is Bernardo's arrival to London, a week after his immigration papers was approved by the Home Office. Obtaining a passport, visa and plane ticket need a substantial amount of money, and with the current financial status of Nardo's parents (just bought a house) could probably requires a longer time for him to fly to London. Unless his Aunt Sofia and Uncle have savings to cover the expenses.
"And the truth is, even though I didn't know him, I have missed him just as much as he has missed me" - Amandolina aka Andi
Finally, using a best friend's name for her daughter is also unusual (not common but the name itself might came from the friend parents: Amando and Lina) Filipino custom - mostly parents mix-up with their own first names to come-up with a name like my sister got (without her consent and hated it...hahaha) - Rodyma, a combination of the first syllables of my parents' name: Rodolfo (Rudy) and Magdalena! Or another example that might give you a smile - Luzviminda, derived from the three major island groups of the Philippines - Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Overall, this is a captivating story that brings hope to everyone - having a positive outlook in life. And of course, the power of prayers that could bring miracles in our lives...God Bless every one! Note: Tall Story has been shortlisted in the following British book awards: Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, Blue Peter Favourite Story Prize, the Leeds Children’s Book Prize and the Hillingdon Secondary School Book Prize, Branford Boase, the Redbridge Children’s Book Award, the UKLA Book Award and the Carnegie Medal. The book is now available in the US since February 08, 2011.

Im happy to give away two paperback copies of the book (maybe signed by the author). If you are interested to join my Read-Release Global Challenge 2011, CLICK HERE. Deadline: 15 March 2011 (midnite)

For updates on Japan's earthquake/tsunami, the British Foreign Office can be contacted for advice on 020 7008 0000, or from Japan on +44 20 7008 0000 +44 20 7008 0000, and can be emailed on

Monday, 7 March 2011

World Book Night 2011 Givers Global Challenge: My first giveaway/release

WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT TO BE CHOSEN as one of the bookgivers of the 2011 World Book Night held in the UK on 5 March 2011. In my previous journals/posts, I mentioned that I created/initiated a group challenge thru WBN website entitled, WBN 2011 Givers Global Challenge which aims to encourage bookgivers to share a dozen of books (or more) every year (at least one book per month).

This challenge is an independent activity but somehow support WBN (UK) mission to distribute books every year. The WBN organiser selected 20,000 givers during the launching and printed 1,000,000 copies of 25 titles.

On a personal level, to support this worldwide campaign and for this month (March) I am giving out "new paperback copies" of TALL STORY written by Candy Gourlay. Candy is a Filipino by birth and this book is about the story of Bernardo who happens to be an eight-foot tall lad and lives with his relatives in one of the towns in Metro Manila. His neighbours believe that he is a hero and saves the town from the earthquakes. The story is not only for young readers but also for those who have young hearts and for those who believe in miracles.

MECHANICS/TERMS/CONDITIONS. To get this free book, just do the following:

1. Join in the World Book Night or BookCrossing. This is optional at the moment, but winners are obliged to register the books with BookCrossing.

2. Write a comment in this post, with information about your first name, location (country), website (if you have). Only the winners will be asked for the complete mailing address.

3. Read the book, write a journal (in BookCrossing), and pass/release it. Winners have to share the books with friends and family.

4. You have only one (1) month (maximum period) to read the book upon receipt from post.

5. The book recipient will be chosen by lottery.

6. Unfortunately, not all countries will qualify for this giveaways. This is the reason why you have to specify your country of residence. Participants from UK, Europe, US, Australia including some part of Asia (Philippines, Hongkong, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.) are ELIGIBLE TO JOIN

7. Entries (thru your comments) will be accepted until 15 March 2011 (midnite). This is extended until 20th March 2011. Of course, you can still write your comments after midnite but it will not be counted for the giveaways.

UPDATES: (11/03/2011) Tall Story has been shortlisted in the following British book awards: Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, Blue Peter Favourite Story Prize, the Leeds Children’s Book Prize and the Hillingdon Secondary School Book Prize, Branford Boase, the Redbridge Children’s Book Award, the UKLA Book Award and the Carnegie Medal. The book is now available in the US since February 08, 2011.

Why Tall Story? Ive heard about the book launching last year at the Philippine Embassy (London) thru a friend who happens to work in the embassy. I bought the book at Waterstone's Belfast on the 3rd March 2011 and finished reading it on the day of the WBN 2011 launching (05 March). I thought that this story should be shared to others thru this read-release challenge. The author recently expressed her gratitude for choosing her debut novel and also announced my giveaway challenge in her Facebook fanpage.

Finally, this free book giveaway challenge is not part of the World Book Night 2011 launched on the 5th March 2011 but a personal commitment to support WBN project. In addition, I did not get any endorsement from the author or publisher, and this is solely my personal offer.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Book Catcher 2011 Series Two courtesy of World Book Night

IN CELEBRATION OF WORLD BOOK NIGHT (WBN) in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Waterstone's Bookshop (Fountain Street) organised an event for talk/book signing, including a book quiz - Book Hunt. A refresment was served as well.

Since Im one of the WBN givers, I had took the opportunity to distribute copies of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. It was a surprise for me to have my own small table to display the books and easier for guests to grab a copy.

In relation to the talk/book signing, there were two local Irish writers/authors invited for the event, Tim Brannigan and Alf McCreary. Both of the writers spoke about the inception/excerpts of their books, Where are you really from? and Titanic Port, respectively. It was a hearthwarming but funny chat from Tim, who wrote his own personal experience - a memoir of an adopted child by his own biological mother! Well, I cant stop myself not to get a copy and asked him to sign...This is a rare opportunity to meet indie authors like Tim and of course, be able to read his book that got an initial offer to make into a film/movie production.

Aside from Tim's memoir book, I also met some WBN givers and swapped books with them: Dissolution (C.J. Sansom) from Damian and A Time Balance (Rohinton Mistry) from Clare. Expect that these two books will travel a long way!

Note: If you want to join the WBN 2011 Givers Global Challenge, please click HERE or you can visit its FACEBOOK PAGE.