It’s my second time going to CebuLitfest x Komiket and I came home with a hoard of art prints and stickers twice as large as last year. Here’s a look at what I bought and why. Do we even need a reason for new merch?
This is my hoard from the Manila-based artists. The postcards and sticker in the middle is from Cheryl J. Owen. Love the fantasy and steampunk elements in her work. I got the other stickers from Fandom Feels PH, Miss Adventures, and StickxPop. Lot’s of geeky and fandom goodness right here: books, TV shows, video games, and more.
It’s so nice to be able to geek out without judgement even if it’s just once a year. Just remember, you shall not pass & bawal umihi ditto!
Last year, I bought several prints from Art by Bred, and this year I bought even more. 2019 is my year for reading Stephen King books, and Art by Bred had art prints featuring two of my favorite King books: “IT” and “The Shining”. Bought six prints and got a free Pennywise sticker!
The other stickers I bought from Bastinuod whose socially relevant works are amazing. This is the second year in a row I bought from this artist too. These new stickers will join my Bastinuod collection on my gaming PC.
The two art prints on the upper right are from Art of Ver Onika, whose prints I used as the front cover of my 2018 Hobonichi so I could see them every time I used my planner. I love the oriental style of her works.
My favorite newly discovered artist of the year is Art Sliced. I love his anime themed bookmarks and art prints. I only know around half of the anime series and movies referenced in his works, but I just want to stare at them all day.
I think the donuts bookmark was referencing Shirobako, so “Don-don donuts, let’s go nuts!” Let your geek flag fly!
What do you feel when you encounter the word “vampire”? Do you experience an inexplicable primal fear?
Or do you feel something different, filled with images of glittery attractive young people involved in political and romantic encounters with humans, werewolves, witches, etc., etc. etc.?
Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot is a throwback to the good old days when vampires were simpler and more terrifying. They come out at night and suck the life out of you–killing you or making you a vampire too. Simply terrifying!
Here is the book synopsis from Goodreads:
Thousands of miles away from the small township of ‘Salem’s Lot, two terrified people, a man and a boy, still share the secrets of those clapboard houses and tree-lined streets. They must return to ‘Salem’s Lot for a final confrontation with the unspeakable evil that lives on in the town.
Salem’s Lot is Stephen King’s second published novel, yet it’s different from Carrie in many ways. It’s a more adult novel, with more explicit violent and sexual content. And yet many things are similar between the two.
You have the isolated small town setting with its small town secrets. The small towns in King’s novels are like living creatures!
Religion is also a common thread between these novels. In Salem’s Lot, it’s the power of good against evil. The power of religious objects versus the power of individual faith.
Imagine a man with a makeshift cross made from two sticks being more powerful than an ordained priest wielding a blessed crucifix. A simple yet powerful image.
Characters die aplenty in Salem’s Lot. There is no hero in this story. No Van Helsing or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There are no epic fight sequences, powerful artifacts or spells to use against the undead.
The vampires here are so terrifying and powerful that they overrun the town easily. You would doubt the man and boy would survive a final confrontation with the unspeakable evil.
If you are looking for a serious vampire story with plenty of scares, Salem’s Lot by Stephen King is for you. If you are looking for a story with plenty of action and romance then you should look elsewhere.
The game can be played by one to four players, and a single play through will last around 20 minutes.
You can buy the game at your nearest Neutral Grounds store, but I didn’t get my copy from them.
I am based in Cebu, so I asked Neutral Grounds if I could get the game from them. They said I could pay via bank deposit, but when I asked them how much shipping to Cebu City would cost, they stopped replying. I assume they would have told me if they had stocks in their Cebu branch, so I decided to look for other options.
Fortunately, I was able to order an official copy of the game from Shopee. It only took me a minute to order the game. I was able to pay cash on delivery and use my Shopee coins and a free shipping voucher to offset some of the cost.
There was slight damage to the box when I got the game, but that’s the norm, based on my previous experiences ordering from other Manila-based board game retailers like Gaming Library and Fortress Games.
I love Pawikan Patrol’s front and back box art. The illustrations are very cute and vibrant. Very kid-friendly. The stickers are really nice too! I was initially going to cut through them with a box cutter, but decided I’d rather stick them on my laptop and planner. They peel of easily and neatly.
Open the box and you will find an accordion fold manual containing all the information you need to play the game. Everything is well-written and well-designed, so it’s easy to understand. The manual also contains advanced rules for solo play, a fully cooperative mode, and a hard mode for added variety.
Pawikan Patrol contains 42 playing cards featuring the adorable illustrations of Patricia Ramos, and clear text that is easy to read and understand. Card thickness isn’t the thickest, but it’s very sturdy and at par with the quality you can expect from popular board and card game publishers today.
This morning’s downpour couldn’t stop me from going to National Book Store Mango Plaza at 9 a.m. for NBS’s 2019 Book Binge Bazaar. Today’s preview day is exclusive to Laking National cardholders, so I went early in the hopes of finding rare books.
There were already over a dozen people shopping when I arrived. Some of them already had baskets filled with books. Many of the books on display were for children’s, teens, and young adults, but there was a large selection of books for adults as well. However, these books were displayed throughout the store, unlike the books for younger readers which were mostly grouped together.
After going around the store and browsing through all the shelves several times, I noticed that some of the books were not as marked down as others in a way that could be seen as misleading, at first. For example, many of the books have price tags indicating significantly reduced prices. I saw a Brandon Sanderson book being sold for Php 50.00!
However, other books will have price tags indicating their regular prices. The markdown on these books aren’t as big. Most of them will only be 10 or 20 percent off. That’s where the price scanners come in handy.
There are several price scanners stationed throughout the store, so use them if you are interested in a regularly priced book or a book with a markdown that seems to good to be true. And if the scanner won’t work on the book, there are plenty of NBS staff around who would be glad to help you.
That being said, all the books are discounted. So buying at a 10 or 20 percent discount might be worth it for certain books. The Haruki Murakami book I bought was only slightly discounted, but I would have bought it at the regular price, so this was a steal for me!
Meanwhile, I saw a guy grab a copy of Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer like it was the Goblet of Fire only to find out it wasn’t as marked down as he initially thought. Major bummer!
I had a shortlist of more than 20 books I wanted to buy. In the end I bought these 10 books for only Php 2,000.00. The three rightmost books in the photo above is probably worth more than Php 2,000.00 already, so I saved plenty.
Notable books that were heavily marked down, but I already have a copy of include White Teeth by Zadie Smith, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card.
What I love most about this National Book Store book sale is that I saw so many books that I don’t see in NBS on a regular day. Fortunately, some of these niche interest books are the ones I enjoy reading the most. Will definitely come back during the next sale. Who knows what I will find?
Here are more photos of my book haul from the 2019 Binge Book Bazaar:
I have watched the occasional Star Trek film and television episode, but it wasn’t until Netflix’s Star Trek Discovery that I became a fan. I just finished watching season two, and I love the series now more than ever.
I have grown very attached to the characters in Star Trek Discovery, and I find their individual stories and how they interact with each other central to why I like the show so much.
The characters I like include Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), Gabrielle Burnham (Sonjah Sohn), Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), Sarul (Doug Jones), Spock (Ethan Peck), and Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman). And, of course, who can forget Airiam (Sara Mitch)!
Prior to Episode 9: Project Daedalus, Airiam was mostly a side character existing in the periphery of the show. It’s a testament to the show’s excellent writing, how they managed to make me love the character of Airiam and break my heart in the confines of a single episode. Rest in peace, Airiam. Your sacrifice will always be remembered.
This season is when familiar characters Christopher Pike and Spock return to television. I’m not familiar enough to compare the new and old, but I was very invested in the duo and their story arcs in Star Trek Discovery. And I do think Spock looks very different with the beard. I think it works on him.
Another episode I liked was Episode 14: Such Sweet Sorrow. The space battle sequence was so epic, I felt like I was watching a movie rather than a TV show. I recently invested in a pair of Q Acoustic bookshelf speakers and an Onkyo stereo amplifier. The sound production was so good, I found myself increasing the volume to movie theater levels, until my grandparents started banging on my door and yelling at me to turn it down.
I really hope season 3 is coming soon, and that there are many more seasons of Star Trek Discovery to come. I’m not even entertaining the possibility that the show will be cancelled. Please don’t let it be cancelled!
Created by Tim Miller, LOVE, DEATH + ROBOTS is 18-episode animated Netflix series for adults that debuted on March 2019.
The first seasons features stand alone episodes all under 20 minutes long. A different team worked on each episode resulting in a variety of stories and animation styles.
I absolutely loved the first season as a whole. Anime and science fiction are two things I really enjoy, so watching this was double the fun!
I recommend watching the series in chronological order as there are lighter episodes interspersed between the heavier ones. It might be a good idea to spit your enjoyment into several viewing sessions to avoid information and sensory overload.
If you plan to watch the show, here are some of my favorite episodes from Love, Death + Robots:
Sonnie’s Edge – The first episode of the series is violent and visually stunning. It features blood and sex. Also, an epic monster versus monster gladiatorial battle. Definitely a great way to start the show.
Three Robots – Three adorable robots feature in the funniest and most lighthearted episode of the series. No sex or violence here. Just lovely comedic banter between post apocalyptic buddies.
Lucky 13 – A story about a pilot’s love for her aircraft. Once considered unlucky, the ship becomes this pilot’s Lucky 13 as she flies in various missions against the alien army.
The Witness – Featuring a man and woman seemingly stuck in a perpetual time loop this episode is one of favorites in terms of concept. However, the gratuitous sex and violence in this episode makes it one of the disliked in the series.
Beyond the Aquila Rift – The hyper realistic animation in this episodes lends to the dilemma a spaceship captain and his crew face when they are forced to question what is and isn’t real.
Suits – Fans of the Borderlands video game franchise will feel right at home in this episode that seems like an ultra-high budget Borderlands cut scene. They can literally hire the team behind this episode and hire them to produce an animated series for the franchise. Fans of tower defense games will love this episode too!
Zima Blue – This is the essential episode of the series. Thought-provoking and down to earth, it is the opposite of most of supercharged action and sex laden content prevalent in the series. This episode shows that despite advancements in animation technology that allow creators to manufacture feasts for the senses, what matters most is masterful storytelling.
There are many more amazing episodes of Love, Death + Robots. Actually, the only one I disliked was Episode 17: Alternate Histories, which shows Hilters from different multiverses dying repeatedly in comical ways. The episode was too corny for me.
Otherwise, I think the series is a must watch if you’re a fan of anime, science fiction, and great storytelling.
Here is the synopsis from Goodreads (which is a note from Sanderson himself):
The following is a short story I wrote in the Elantris world back in January of 2006. At that point, Elantris had only been out in stores for about seven or eight months, but I actually hadn’t written anything new on the story or world since 2000, when I’d finished the first draft of the original book. This story was originally posted for sale on Amazon.com; once the contract with them ran out, I posted it on my website.
There were always a few holes in the manuscript where I decided not to include viewpoints or sections of explanation in the name of streamlining, particularly at the end. In the back of my mind, I knew what happened. This story talks about one of those holes; it is meant to be read after you’ve finished the novel and takes place during the events of the climax. In the annotation, I’ve written a further explanation of why I wrote this piece. Some of you may find it interesting to read this ahead of time; I put it in the annotation, however, as I know others would rather enjoy the story without bias beforehand, then read my thoughts afterward.
Either way, if you haven’t read the novel Elantris, this contains major spoilers. Might I suggest reading the book first? This story won’t work at all for you if you haven’t.
As always, thanks for reading!
Now this is the Elantris I remember! The Hope of Elantris is a brief look into life inside Elantris, instead of the larger country of Arleon, which Elantris is a part of. More specifically, it tells the story of the night when magic is restored to Elantris after the novel’s protagonists succeed in their mission.
Elantris used to be a magical place, where its people could create and cure things with the wave of a hand. Then the place was cursed after a cataclysmic event, which stripped Elantrians of their healing magic.
Moreover, the curse rendered Elantrians unable to heal from their wounds. Even a series of small wounds like sprains and scratches could transform Elantrians into Hoed, comatose from the accumulated unending pain.
Despite the curse, Elantrians continue to hope the curse will be lifted and their healing magic returned to them. They managed to form a community of relative safety within the all the chaos happening around them.
The Hope of Elantris focuses on Matisse, an Elantrian tasked with the duty of caring for Elantrian children. Her children had just gone to sleep one night when a group of soldiers bent on eliminating the Elantrian people begin attacking their community.
The story was very short and sweet. It didn’t add much lore to the lore of Elantris as a whole, but it didn’t need to.
I was very satisfied with the story of Matisse protecting the children under her care, and the story of Dashe protecting his own child. In the postscript, Brandon Sanderson explains the interesting inspiration behind this story, which I’ll leave you to discover on your own.
Others may find this short story insignificant, but I enjoy reading about things that happen in the periphery of larger events, of ordinary people working in the background, their actions and sacrifices unnoticed in the grander scheme of things.
Matisse may not be a member of the royal family, a commander of soldiers, or a powerful hero. She’s just an ordinary woman with no fighting skills or magic abilities, yet she does her part in protecting the children. And that’s just as important as ruling a kingdom, leading an army, or defeating mighty foes.
It’s Holy Week weekend and I’m searching for a TV series to binge watch on Netflix. I’m about ready to start watching the first season of The OA, when I notice Netflix recommending me a new zombie series–probably because I recently watched and absolutely loved the first season of Kingdom. A quick Google search for Black Summer leads me to the article: Stephen King Raves About New Netflix Series “Black Summer.”
The master of horror fiction and one of my favorite authors says this TV show is amazing? Hell yeah, I’m watching Black Summer!
Synopsis from Netflix:
Set in the dark, early days of a zombie apocalypse, Black Summer stars Jaime King as Rose, a mother torn from her daughter who embarks upon a harrowing journey to find her. Thrust alongside a small group of American refugees, these complete strangers must find the strength they need to fight their way back to loved ones. But in order for Rose and her team to brave this hostile new world, they will need to make brutal decisions to contend with zombies – and each other.
My Black Summer Review:
Black Summer‘s is the best zombie apocalypse TV series debut I’ve watched since the first season of The Walking Dead, and yet the two are quite different. Black Summer has a very small town setting compared to the Walking Dead‘s massive scope. The new show feels very intimate and in your face, shaky camera shots and all.
Black Summer is very action driven and grounded in the present. It focuses on the plight of its refugee characters, all headed for a stadium where survivors are being evacuated to. The show has a Game of Thrones vibe to it in a sense that no character is sacred. Anyone can die at any time. What’s different is that the viewer knows little more about the characters than the characters know about each other. Having zero flashbacks helps in this regard.
Every episode of the series is divided into several chapters, each with its own name. This serves as a breaks in between the fast paced story lines or action sequences (usually running sequences) and when shifting from one point-of-view to another. They even have chapters following the POV of protagonists turned zombies.
Despite the focus on action and the lack of backstory elements, Black Summer does tell engaging stories, the main one being a mother searching for her daughter. Where it excels is telling stories of tension, not from waves of zombies coming at you, but from being chased by a single zombie or being hunted by fellow humans. The fireman’s axe scene is golden.
One of my favorites in the series is episode 3, Summer School. Four of the protagonists take refuge in a seemingly abandoned school, when they realize they’re not alone. There is a kid in the school. Lead protagonist Rose wants to do the right thing. She wants to look for the boy and take him with them. What follows is a lesson for those who choose to follow their hearts rather than their heads.
I also loved episode 8, The Stadium. The season finale is only 20 minutes long. It’s twenty minutes of utter bullet hell chaos, and it’s absolutely brilliant!
Imagine the surviving refugees nearing the stadium. But to get there, they have to pass through the downtown area, where there is a much higher population of people and hence, many more zombies. It’s alright though because the group is armed to the teeth with guns.
Then, they see other refugees. Many more refugees, all armed with guns as well. You can imagine, every one of these groups starring in their own spin-off series. Everyone with their own stories of death, love and survival. But to the zombies, all they are is fresh meat.
So the zombies are coming in from every angle. All the groups of refugees are firing away like they’ve got unlimited ammo, instead of focusing on head shots. Refugees are firing behind other refugees, to save them from surprise attacks. Friendly fire ensues, so newly killed refugees are transforming into zombies. Everyone starts running and shooting. Chaos. Then the army sends planes to drop bombs and control the new outbreak. They hit humans and zombies alike. More chaos! Will anyone make it to the stadium alive?
Be warned, my favorite episodes are also the two lowest rated ones on IMDb. But if you want to watch an action packed zombie show that focuses on the meat of the story instead of the drama surrounding it, I very much recommend Black Summer.
The novella is set in the world of Elantris, the novel that introduced me to Brandon Sanderson and his writing. I’ve been craving for a new Elantris book for years, so I was really excited to read The Emperor’s Soul.
Here is the novella’s synopsis from Goodreads:
A heretic thief is the empire’s only hope in this fascinating tale that inhabits the same world as the popular novel, Elantris.
Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead.
Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.
Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit.
Okay, so this is not the Elantris I remember. It may be set in the same world, but the The Emperor’s Soul is 100% a standalone story. And I love it!
Why? Firstly, the magic system. The seal carvings Shai uses to create her forgeries is familiar to me, as it reminds me of the seals they sell in China and other Asian countries. For a small fee, artists can carve the Chinese characters of your name onto a seal that you can use or keep as a souvenir.
In a sense, the artist carves your essence onto the seal. That is essentially the magic of carvings in the novella: the magic of forgery. A wonderful thing to use for the preservation and appreciation of the arts, but an abomination when used for nefarious purposes like theft.
I imagine the transformation of old, dilapidated objects into works of art would look magnificent in reality. Broken floorboards into intricately carved wood, shattered glass into stained glass masterpieces. I shiver just thinking about it.
Secondly, the character of Shai is very likeable. She has to reconcile her need to escape vis-a-vis her desire to create the greatest forgery of all time–a forgery of the emperor’s soul. In the novella, Shai is offered chances to take the easy way out. Insert a backdoor for a politician to control the emperor’s actions. Add a desire in the emperor to keep Shai alive. Even escaping early without ever completing the emperor’s soul.
However, Shai is an artist who takes pride in her work. Forgery is simply her medium. So she sets out to create her greatest masterpiece–a soul containing Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature. Unlike most artists, Shai’s goal isn’t to get her name known, her work into the possession of collectors, galleries, and museums. Her purpose is to remain in the shadows, while fooling the whole kingdom into thinking her forgeries are real.
With great skill and study, Shai recreates the emperor’s soul. But in discovering the emperor’s truest self, Shai may have gone one step further. She may have created the purest and best version of the emperor that could have been, instead of the flawed and ultimately doomed leader the emperor was becoming.
One step further or one step too far? Read The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson and decide for yourself.
I used to hate reading books. This, despite my mom’s best efforts to get me into the habit during my elementary years. She bought me Roald Dahl’s children’s books, The Chronicles of Narnia book set, among other books. She even bought me a bookshelf!
But it was Stephen King’s Carrie that finally got me into reading. Thus, the clear divide in my history as a reader: before Carrie (B.C.) and after Carrie (A.C.).
I had few close friends in school back in 2001, and it was my best friend Josh who introduced me to the master of horror. Stephen King was Josh’s favorite author. Josh would incessantly talk about King’s stories and how much he loved them every chance he got.
It was only a matter of time before he convinced me to try reading one of King’s novels. He told me to start with Carrie.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Carrie knew she should not use the terrifying power she possessed… But one night at her senior prom, Carrie was scorned and humiliated just one time too many, and in a fit of uncontrollable fury she turned her clandestine game into a weapon of horror and destruction…
A socially-awkward introvert, I was bullied relentlessly in and out of school. This was the main reason I immediately connected with Carrie. I totally understood her feeling like an outcast, her desire to fit in, and her need for revenge. If only I had telekinetic abilities like she did…just kidding!
First published in 1974, Carrie is King’s first novel. It’s quite dated now, but I never tire of rereading it. The message of bullying still resonates with me. The prom scene is a classic, as is the destruction that follows. Even today, I’m terrified by Carrie’s mom. Margaret White is one of the scariest mothers in all of literature.
Carrie is a book I reread for fun. It’s very cathartic living vicariously through her, until she overuses her powers and her heart explodes. I also read it for nostalgia. Carrie is the first novel I read for fun. It is the book that started me on my reading journey that continues today.
Without Carrie, I may never have read the books of J.K. Rowling, Haruki Murakami, and Brandon Sanderson. I may not have taken up Creative Writing in college and worked as a writer after graduating. Stephen King’s Carrie changed my life forever.
I recommend the book to anyone who was bullied or is being bullied today. It may change your life too. 😉