Monday, January 20, 2020


I was willing to forego last year’s best list, then again, how can I say I was satisfied with my read list if I didn’t actually say why I was satisfied in the first place. So, weeks went by and here I am, late as usual.


   In no particular order, here are the best books I read last 2019:

Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden - The Winternight Trilogy may not be the most epic trilogy there is but it definitely holds power that I will always embrace it close to heart. The mixture of old tales I knew as a child with grand history is both fascinating and immersive. And Ms. Arden writes so beautifully, too. You may want to try the audio version as well, read by Kathleen Gati.

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick - I love reading books about books and library settings. Book lovers are the most interesting people, right? I read this twice in a row. Simply wonderful. And Ms. Patrick picks the most curious protagonist.

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris - There are very few series I followed through the years and Chocolat is one of them. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes and its people feel like home to me. And I will continue reading them for as long as they exist.

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg - I love Berg’s take on people. I love her characters, including their flaws. I’m glad she gave her characters another motivation in life. I’m glad to have met Arthur and wishing there’d be more like him in the world. I’m happy knowing that his kindness survived him and will continue effecting.

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay - I breezed through this. I love that this book loves the books I love. And the life lessons are spot on. I need to write a full review on this one and hope to give it justice.

Find Me by André Aciman - You should see the quotes I have tabbed in this book! But that is not why this book is special. It is because of the hope it carries, not just for Elio and Oliver, but for everyone who may read it. It says that having an unlived life is living the wrong life. And we owe it to ourselves to find it. The audiobook was read by Michael Stuhlbarg.

Killer Instinct by James Patterson and Howard Roughan - I love my share of action and espionage and this one didn’t fail to deliver. I (maybe) love this more than I love the first one. I am patiently waiting for the next installment.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern - Enchanting! This is a nod to many stories we’ve read before and more. I want to write a full review of this but I still don’t know how to start. The cast of narrators did a wonderful job in the audiobook version, I highly recommend it.


As always, I'm excited to meet my next best reads. I'm sure you are too, friends!



BEST READS from 2019

Monday, January 6, 2020



It's a new year and a new journey in books, as well. 

   Last year I also had my list of Most Anticipated Books, which was very helpful because without it I may have rutted all the more. Admittedly, I did not finish the list. Some I have started and paused, others I have not even cracked yet, and two were not in fact published last year. Also, I seem to be leaning more on feel-good/gentle reads lately, which may be why I have those paused and uncracked books still on my TBR.

I’ve read 29 books and although it’s a far cry from my usual count, I really feel good about most of them. So, satisfied me had no complaints.

For 2020, here’s my eclectic list of Most Anticipated Books:
  • Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
               (December 31, 2019, by G.P. Putnam's Sons)
  • When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald
               (January 28, 2020, by Scout Press)
  • The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey
               (February 4, 2020, by G.P. Putnam's Sons)
  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
               (February 4, 2020, by Random House)
  • The King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips
               (February 11, 2020, by Random House)
  • Wicked As You Wish (A Hundred Names for Magic #1) by Rin Chupeco
               (March 3, 2020, by Sourcebooks Fire)
  • Lost Autumn by Mary-Rose MacColl
               (March 3, 2020, by G.P. Putnam's Sons)
  • Writers & Lovers by Lily King
               (March 3, 2020, by Grove Press)
  • We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
               (March 3, 2020, by Pantheon)
  • 20th Victim (WMC, #20) by James Patterson & Maxine Paertro
               (March 5, 2020, by Little, Brown, and Company)
  • The New Life of Hugo Gardner by Louis Begley
               (March 17, 2020, by Nan A. Talese)
  • Who Speaks for the Damned (St. Cyr, #15) by C.S. Harris
               (April 7, 2020, by Berkley Books)
  • The Sweeney Sisters: A Novel by Lian Dolan
               (April 28, 2020, by William Morrow)
  • Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay
               (May 12, 2020, by Thomas Nelson)
  • The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick
               (May 28, 2020, by Park Row)
  • Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
               (June 4, 2020, by Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim
               (August 4, 2020, by Berkley)
  • The Seven Sisters (The World of Neverwhere #2) by Neil Gaiman,
               (September 15, 2020, by William Morrow)


I have previously published books on my list too. They usually change over the course, depending on my mood. Most of them are also in audiobook form, and I may need to buy printed copies or loan copies from the library soon. 

I'm also into Libby by Overdrive lately. Wonderful site, even though sometimes I have to wait for weeks for an audiobook request.   The same goes for our cloudLibrary  by Bibliotheca Ltd.  The magic of having a library card! Right? Also, let us keep supporting our local libraries -visit often, vote for their renovations, and fight to keep librarians (they are precious and few).

If you think I should add more to my list or you have any recommendations, please leave a comment below. 

Now, let's begin!


*This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on  LovelyAudiobooks.info

MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2020

Friday, January 3, 2020


Hello, 2020!

A New Year and a new decade have come. Most people have made their list of resolutions by now, but it’s certainly not too late to join the bandwagon if you haven’t yet. I for one am not fond of making a list of resolutions every year. I choose my yearly word instead. And this year is…
      Stand!

I am contemplating on the things I should be standing in still and those things I may have failed to stand for and if I do have regrets about them. Regret is such an inauspicious word to start the year, so I might have to skip that part and move on.

As always, I stand for kindness. Let us be kinder to ourselves and others. Flex the effort to be kind, even in mourning or victory; to be firm in being kind before anything else. I stand for family and friendship. Let us be more generous in giving them the gift of time. Take the time to laugh and listen and the time to share. I stand for peace. Not the quiet kind, but the one that resonates. The kind of peace that heals gaps, multiplies charity, holds the light up, and flames hospitality. We can all be couch potatoes for our serials and dramas, but we have to stand for something firmer at the end of the day. The adage "If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything." is quite accurate on that. 

And, speaking of moving on, The Page Walker is in its 7th year today. Yay! Thank you for staying with me. I appreciate all the visits, comments, and emails I receive. I also acknowledge every author, publicist, and publisher whom I have worked with and trusted me with their books. Here’s hoping for more books and collaborations this year.

Godspeed, everyone!



STAND!

Friday, December 27, 2019


Reese's Book Club Pick for January 2020
December 31, 2019
G.P. Putnam's Sons


A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both. - Goodreads

Kiley Reid chronicled an absorbing story from the standpoint of two different women –different history, different status, different colors.

 Alix Chamberlain has everything moving up for herself, except, she is no longer living among Manhattan’s finest, meaning there are no rich friends and no in-laws to rely on. Down in Philadelphia, she needs help taking care of her children if she wants to finish her debut book in time. So she was very fortunate to employ Emira Tucker as Briar Chamberlain’s part-time sitter. Meanwhile, Emira is grappling for resources, whose major concern at present is being twenty-five and soon-to-be kicked out of her parents’ health care. Beneficially, Briar is her “favorite little human” and happy as a pea to stay as her sitter for as long as possible. Then a much unforeseen, but not surprising, incident happened at a nearby grocery store, wherein Emira was stopped by a security guard and accused her of kidnapping Briar. A lot has span off since – news got around, people came and people went, privacy and consent were breached. Culpability may be the operative word here. This story shows that any good intention, no matter how noble, can be soiled by any hint of personal agenda.

SUCH A FUN AGE is a breezy story on the surface that it is easy to miss some minute details that Reid has meticulously incorporated. With a closer look, it has multiple layers and peeling back reveals that only a keen observer can write a story like this one. Her use of English argots is rich and realistic, giving a partition to fully visualize the characters. In her debut, Reid provided distinctions and displays of insecurities, and incisively shows how they manifest generally in everyone. These pages are clearly a product of hard work and good research.

Start your year 2020 with this one!


Book details:
Author: Kiley Reid
Publication: December 31, 2019, GP Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Fiction
Rating: ★★★★



*Thanks to GP Putnam's Sons and Edelweiss for the egalley in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info



Book Review | SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid

Monday, December 9, 2019


A beautiful, life-affirming novel 
about a remarkably loving man 
who creates for himself and others
second chances at happiness. -Goodreads

Elizabeth Berg put together [probably] the most unlikely people together in this story… and they turned out to be very charming.

 Arthur is an octogenarian and a widower, whose everyday highlight is visiting his dead wife at the local cemetery. Meanwhile, Maddy is a bullied teenager, who lost her mother very early after she was born, leaving her to his distant and unaffectionate father. And Lucille is Arthur’s neighbor, who waited all her life for true love to happen.

At the center of this heartwarming story is a makeshift family. They’ve built a home abound with kindness and rooms for consideration. A simple structure, really, allowing them to forget the troubles and awful of the outside world, and focus on seeing the good in people. Unlikely people, yes, but home nonetheless.

I love Berg’s take on people. I love her characters, including their flaws. I’m glad she gave her characters another motivation in life. I’m glad to have met Arthur and wishing there’d be more like him in the world. I’m happy knowing that his kindness survived him and will continue effecting.

THE STORY OF ARTHUR TRULUV is Book #1 of the Mason series.


About the book:
Title: The Story of Arthur Truluv
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Publication: November 21, 2017, by Random House
Genre: Fiction
Rating: ★★★★★



THE STORY OF ARTHUR TRULUV by Elizabeth Berg

Monday, December 2, 2019


   David was conquered by grief and jealousy due to his mother’s death and of his father’s newfound family- Rose and Georgie. It proves that anguish and loneliness can sometimes poison even a child’s heart. Later, he can hear the books whisper to him, then soon, seizures began to attack him which baffled the doctors of its cause. But The Crooked Man can bring back everything he had lost… for a bargain.
. . . For a lifetime was but a moment in that place, and each man dreams his own heaven.

And in the darkness, David closed his eyes, as all that was lost was found again.”
I love the poetic tone of the story. It pulled me in and kept me reading despite the sad things happening along the way. It's interesting when twists were added to fairytales we grew up with. This is a dark tale of one boy's inner turmoil and descent to despondency. Also, a message of how powerful stories can be in children's lives. I adore John Connolly for this brilliant book!


Book details:
Title: The Book of Lost Things
Author: John Connolly
Publication: October 16, 2007,  Washington Square Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/ Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★


THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS by John Connolly

Monday, November 18, 2019

My spawn at 12.
My family has a standing Yuletide tradition to [either] listen to the Harry Potter audiobooks, or watch the movies, each day leading to New Year’s Eve. However, there are also other books we shared together over the years since my daughter started reading at three. It was always tricky choosing because it involved plenty of compromise and message consideration, due to her age. It took some preparations too since we want to anticipate her many questions during the actual reading.

 Here, I compiled only the book series we mostly adored. Some of these were books my husband and I read when we were young and shared with our daughter, others, we chose together.




(1) Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne (Illustrator: Ernest Howard Shepard) 

Pooh is described as “the bear of very little brain” or “the best bear in all the world”. I believe we all prefer the latter. This little old bear really knows how to worm into everyone’s heart. The diversity of the characters from the 100-Acre Wood is reflective enough to transcend heartening lessons every time. Parents like me are able to explain plainly to a three-year-old child because of Milne’s use of naivety and simple child-like language and logic to push the message across.



(2) Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park (Illustrator: Denise Brunkus)


The first book is Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, detailing Junie’s first school bus ride to school, which we chose purposely to encourage our little girl (then) to go to kindergarten. This series is goofy-fun and filled with common childish behaviors. Very young readers can easily learn golden lessons behind Junie’s mishaps and misbehaviors.





(3) Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne (Illustrators: Salvatore Murdocca; Okama)

Siblings Annie and Jack discovered that a treehouse in the woods near their house can transport them to historical places and times. We simply love these siblings -their constant encouragements, on being brave, accountability for each other and for their choices. Replete with historical details, scientific facts, and life lessons, children will undoubtedly learn cool stuff from this series. My daughter still collects them up until now.


(4) Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey 

“Who would let their child read a banned book?” I WOULD! George and Harold are rebellious enough to pull pranks on anyone in the school including their very own strict principal. This series is banned from school libraries because adults believe that it encourages kids to be rebels, to question authority. Parents need to know that behind all the potty humor it also encourages them to be critical thinkers. We usually asked our daughter what she thought about the book aside from being funny and identify which she thought was wrong. What we learned was that every kid needs a hero, even the most recalcitrant and unrepentant ones. Parents can both leave their kids with their own choices and create their own hero or parents can help them find an ideal one. These series may not be a model blueprint but they’ll know which kind they are supposed to stay away from.


(5) Jigsaw Jones Mysteries by James Preller (Illustrator: R.W. Alley). 

Very much like our beloved HP books, this series is about friendship, family, school, inclusion, and mystery. The books are noir-esque, witty and exciting to read. By the time we get to the middle page, we each have our own inferences and dispute behind it. It really heightens the reading experience exponentially and enhances the kid’s deduction skills, too.


(6) The Magic School Bus by Joanna Cole (Illustrator: Bruce Degen). 

This series is a great way for early readers to learn more about scientific stuff. Ms. Frizzle takes her students to incredible field trips, learning from inside a magical bus that can pretty much do anything. This is a good series to hook kids and love science.  The series is not exactly for read-aloud. It is more advisable that parents and kids read the books separately and discuss or compare notes later.


(7) Wayside School by Louis Sachar (Illustrator: Adam McCauley). 

We love all the zany, odd people in this series. The school is 30-floors high, each classroom built on top of each other, and a lot more crazies happen on the 13th floor. These books are attention-grabbers, so be absolutely prepared for longer reading sessions, rereads, and terrible giggling even after lights out. And these are the only books I know where the author wrote himself into his own books and shared with all the wackiness.


These books were written several decades apart. Most people know about the movies, but hardly know that there are four more books after A Wrinkle in Time. I found a copy of A Wrinkle in Time in my old grade school library, a long way back. And like the first few books I had, I had my elder brother scout for the rest of the books from Recto, a street in Manila where you can find all kinds of second-hand books. The quintet is classified under coming-of-age fiction, which means children come to certain awakenings, and may need closer attention when they raise some questions or concerns. It does not only give children perspectives but also questions them and challenges them to make tough choices.


My husband and I discovered the first book in different fashions. His was more interesting, I admit. Way back in grade school, he needed to make his first book report (a book of his own choice) and found an old Puffin copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in the church library. I’ve always argued that this series should be classified under Christian fantasy, and it’s good to know, that a long time ago, an old church librarian thought the same too. By this time, we know how magical these stories are and the virtues they possess. We all know how four ordinary kids had the journey of a lifetime -filled with secrets, valiance, betrayal, unconditional love- and lived to tell all about it. Exactly the kind of journey parents would like to share with their kid/s.



This is my all-time favorite children's fantasy. It has everything a child can conceive in a series –myths, Arthurian, old magic, time travel, and the Holy Grail. I have no qualms recommending this to any parent with middle-grade kids. The language alone employed by Cooper is a good foothold and unsoiled; it is very savory for any age. This is replete of life lessons –accountability, priorities, sacrifices, and conquering challenges- that parents can discuss in detail with their kids and exercise their problem-solving skills. We took turns reading chapters every night. Those were absolutely wonderful nights.


(11) Inkworld by Cornelia Funke (Translator: Anthea Bell)

This is also a very rich fantasy series, wherein book characters can come to life and real people are sucked into books. Familial love resonates throughout the series and it’s very compelling. My daughter was about ten-years-old when we started reading this series. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone younger because there are some graphic details of violence and disagreeable language. However, this series is an agreeable challenge for pre-teens. Some more delicate readers/parents might disagree with me though.



(12) A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (Illustrator: Brett Helquist)

These are the thirteen unpleasant tales of the unlucky Baudelaire orphans. Certainly, there is violence here, as there is a sinister villain vent on harming the kids and their protectors. However, Daniel Handler is a master story-teller and can blow over such events with good humor. And with his fine writing, he has a clever way of explaining words in context. This is altogether mysterious, adventurous, and grimly engaging. Parents might want to give their kids a taste of The Bad Beginning first, and then ask them how they feel about dark humor before introducing the next book.


(13) Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch (Illustrator: Gilbert Ford)

The key element to these books is the mystery. Parents with mystery-hungry kids will enjoy secret codes and anagrams. We love the family set-ups the author cleverly introduced here. It gives children an opportunity to learn and appreciate different family structures. And, if both parents and kids are [just] a bit curious about Synesthesia, they definitely need to meet Max-Ernest. Or, if in need of first-hand knowledge on survival skills, well then, Cass could be their next best friend. OR, if kids just need some silly reads to blow off some steam, this series is a clear choice.


This is such a fun, fun read. Talk about not-so-little geniuses on adventures. It is smart, mysterious, and adventurous. All the characters are amusingly odd and very engaging. Kids will love the puzzle-solving parts of the stories, including all the twists and turns. By the time we read this, our daughter is already twelve-years of age. So we read the books separately, and then greedily discussed them right after.


When our daughter asked us if she could read the series, we approved but with some apprehensions. We were preparing ourselves for probable questions about Christianity and the human soul, actually. After reading The Amber Glass, she broke into our room crying, accusing us of not warning her about the ending, which was bittersweet, if not heartbreaking. Not every book has an “and-they-lived-happily-ever-after” kind of ending. It involved some really tough lessons and my husband and I agreed that she’s ready enough to learn about them. Parents who want some level-up challenges for their pre-teens can definitely recommend this one. It is an engaging alternative world fantasy with gripping adventures and mystical elements that will allow kids’ imagination to soar high.



In our experience, shared reading is a good bonding motivation for parents and kids. It encourages discussion, allowing everyone to openly share their feelings and thoughts. Problems are easily resolved and secrets don’t hang back because kids are accustomed to discussing them with their parents. Reading with parents also builds their confidence. So next time you read with your kids, make sure it’s not just to lull them to sleep, take it as an opportunity to engage.



15 BOOK SERIES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY (OTHER THAN HP)