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Lives are made and unmade by books every day.

Southern Reach Trilogy: ANNIHILATION by Jeff VanderMeer

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"Some questions will ruin you if you are denied the answers long enough."
Any bibliophile knows that there are certain books that often call to us; books that, once picked up, would be incredibly difficult to put down. And long after the spell of its story has been broken, the link can never be severed completely. It would haunt the reader even after that first page has been turned. There are several books that have had the same effect on me, and most of them have been science fiction stories, if not all. I've read at least 12 sci-fi books since 2014, and they have stayed with me, tucked away in the deep recesses of subconscious, both darkening my soul a little as they set me free as well.
When I encountered copies of this trilogy, I was mesmerized of the covers, and had great hopes for the promising story within, seeing that it's critically-acclaimed. I curtailed these expectations, however, when I saw a few of users I follow in Goodreads, and whose reviews I respect,…

"It is always the nature of dreams to define reality"

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The craft that goes into weaving stories is majorly credited as the most astounding feat of the imagination, but it is also nonetheless laborious and altogether a vexing preoccupation. My own fascination for myths and legends started from an impressionable age which I pursued over the years ever since I discovered that I not only have an insatiable passion to read books but also an inclination to pen tales of my very own.

And this is how Neil Gaiman's enduring series found me at the ripe age of nineteen. In 2009, I was also actively pursuing a scholastic career in writing as soon as I joined the student paper to become a literary writer. The current associate there then (who eventually became one of my best friends) introduced me to Neil Gaiman. He looked up to this author and even had a chance to interview the man himself and write a feature article for our magazine.

Suffice to say, The Sandman shaped a lot about how I began to view the art of making myths and storytelling ever s…

"When you allow darkness to blanket your being..."

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The root of all horror is fear, but people frequently mistake fear as an easy experience; it's that obvious crescendo in the scoring during a movie when you know some weird shit it about to go down. Horror then is reduced to mere jump scares and cheap thrills to shock and repulse people, but that ultimately is a disservice. Granted, said genre in film had often catered to audiences that are simply looking for mindless gore and lifeless dialogue being spoken by flat characters whose only purpose are to be brutally murdered and disposed. 
But with recent entries like The Babadook, It Follows and even The VVitch, horror movies can possibly become more exploratory and symbolic; just as it had been decades ago in its prime before all these franchises about serial killers, ghosts and demon possessions have turned the genre into something rather repetitive and sublimely stupid.
Such stories after all lack the human element which is exactly what horror is supposed to be all about regardless…

To More Ceaseless Nights of Bliss and Frenzied Feeding

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Short stories can probably be considered the most underappreciated form of fiction writing these days, particularly those that belong in the genre of speculative fiction. Not a lot of people are aware of this, but said genre actually thrives in the fringes of Filipino literature and most are written in the English language. Writers like Dean Francis Alfar and Eliza Victoria have had small mainstream successes with their respective works, but other writers for the genre only have their works usually published as part of a varied anthology.
In fact, I never would have discovered author Gabriela Lee myself if I wasn't dutifully checking the Filipino Literature section of my local bookstore near my place of work. I'm glad I did one day because I would have missed out in buying my copy of her freshman debut Instructions on How to Disappear whose cover illustration as well as the rest of its visual presentation was enticing enough to pick up and browse through. I was furthermore enco…

"Poems. Confessions. Apologies. Promises."

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Shelved next to copies of Otaku, Candy and Reader's Digest, In Case You Come Back is this medium-sized book of poems with assorted themes which wouldn't even be as noticeable at first glance. Its spine is plain white with a small and barely discernible font, prompting most of us not to give it a second look unless we feel the need to keep browsing the shelf. The only way you could select it among the pile was either by purposely looking for it, or by simply having the strangest luck. My stumbling upon it was admittedly through pure chance, and I may even deem such event as 'serendipitous' because it found me while I was in a delicate cusp of heartbreak and discord where I could certainly use a balm that would appease my troubles.
This poetry collection was a collaborative effort between writers Marla Miniano and Reese Lansangan as well as with the illustrator Jamie Catt. The latter's sketches were pretty and metaphorical enough in execution, providing readers the im…

Legends of RED SONJA by Gail Simone Vol. 1

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I have no idea who Red Sonja is, to be honest, and that means I had to go online to research about the character's origin and publication history as a comic book series. From what I understand overall, she was a character created by Marvel Comics around 1973 when she first appeared in a Conan the Barbarian issue. There was also a movie about her at some point. She's the quintessential pin-up fantasy heroine from comics. What made me want to read this more recent Dynamite comics title is because Gail Simone (from DC's Batgirl) is the writer of this particular line-up. Also, there is something nostalgic about warrior women for me. I did after all grow up to Xena: the Warrior Princess (but I was nine and I don’t remember specific things about that show except that Lucy Lawless rocked and kicked ass). And so reading Red Sonja definitely gave me that kind of nostalgia.
The first volume of this revamped version from 2010 to 2012 entitled Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues reads more of …

Rachel Rising by Terry Moore

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The last graphic novel I reviewed just a week ago is about a woman who cannot be killed (Lazarus), and now I'm doing another one about yet another female character who is resurrected from the dead. It's a playful coincidence. The two stories have nothing much in common except that basic premise, however, and if I'm to be honest I think I much enjoyed Lazarus although that doesn't actually mean that Terry Moore's Rachel Rising doesn't hold up well as a series. If the first volume is any indication of how certifiably creepy and atmospheric everything is, then I will surely pick up the second volume someday.
Rachel Rising is about the titular female character who was strangled and left for dead as she was buried in a shallow grave next to what seemed to be implied as a land where witches used to live and do evil stuff? It's all speculative for now. The very first pages opened with Rachel walking out of said grave with fragmented memories as well as possessing l…

LAZARUS by Greg Rucka Volume 1

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Comprised of the series first four issues, this debut volume written by Greg Rucka, and illustrated by Michael Lark with the colors done by Santi Arcas, is a dystopian science fiction story that definitely holds promises. 
I actually liked it even if it's only a hundred pages long. My review for this graphic novel collection is positive enough although I can't say yet what is in store for the rest of the series, seeing as the four issues of Lazarus felt like watching a pilot for a TV show. With that comparison, I believe these issues hold enough weight on their own both as separate installments and as a singular story that unfolds efficiently well. Action-packed and well-balanced when it comes to exposition and dialogue, Lazarus: Family is something readers can easily consume in one sitting but it's also a substantial serving which would make them come back for more.
Speaking of TV pilots, this series might actually be adapted for a television show, and based from what I hav…

Webcomics Watch: CUCUMBER QUEST by Gigi D.G

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There are a lot of wonderful adventure-fantasy webcomics out there, both popular and obscure, and some of them are long-running series that stretched out for years already that keeping track of their multiple arcs can be a hassle especially if you are more of a casual reader (and more so if you barely get internet access). This ongoing fluff yet sublime webcomics story written and drawn by Gigi D.G is still in the earlier stages of its hopefully long run in years to come, so there is definitely more time to catch up and get yourselves invested in the amusingly enjoyable characters and the literal candy-colored worlds of Cucumber Quest
The collected printed volumes for this webcomics has the Prologue and Chapter 0 as the first volume, Chapters 1 as its second, and Chapter 2 as its third. Currently, the fourth chapter online is about to be concluded. I managed to finish until the third chapter last night, and man it has been such an utter delight. The good thing about Cucumber Quest is…

NOVEMBER List of Readables

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"No one's love is truly unconditional"

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I have been a fan of Eliza Victoria since coming across her novel Dwellers which is one of the most exciting psychological supernatural thrillers I have read, and it spanned only for less than two hundred pages! A year later I stumbled upon this, her latest book, and as fates would have it, I only carried enough money with me that also happens to be the exact amount that had enabled me to purchase this treasure. And it is one for the collection!

The reasons why I get excited about reading Eliza Victoria are (1) I don't usually connect with female fiction writers for some reason, save for Virginia Woolf and the CLAMP mangaka; (2) she is a Filipino author and a very talented one at that; and (3) the genre she writes in, which is urban fantasy, is something I believe she brings a lot of freshness of ideas into, particularly on the mythology of supernatural creatures and several folklores. 

Wounded Little Gods touches upon the polytheistic religion of Filipinos from the old times. Befor…

X/1999 by CLAMP Volumes 1-9 review Part 1

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If you have ever read a CLAMP manga, chances are you're a cynical romantic masochist. And yes, that's a thing and if you have ever fallen in love with any CLAMP work, you know deep inside that you fucking are a cynical romantic masochist. It'd be easier to just blow past it now and accept facts. This particular manga series known as X, and then changed to X/1999 because there was also a Western series with the same name, is the famed 'unfinished' work by CLAMP that is more or less a magnus opei. It went on a very, very long-term hiatus since 2003 and in doing so, left the story lacking any real conclusion TO THIS DAY. Concerns about its increasingly violent scenes have been the issue why the series has been discontinued by the magazine it was published in because they're a bunch of sissies. 
In any case, X/1999 definitely deserved better because it was simply brilliant with layers that would make this possible for several readings. Also, this has to be the most …

LOW by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini

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The last Rick Remender graphic novel I read had been actually scheduled as the last X-Men series I read earlier this year for my X-Men comics diet. Suffice to say, I wasn't charmed by it so I only got to finish the first volume because I lost interest easily in the way the story was told. It just didn't click for me, is all.  
Now that was back in April or so, and now here I am just a few months later reading another work of his. As soon as I finished this, I have to say that this is comparably an improvement from Uncanny Avengers. That comparison would be unfair though, since they are of different genres, and I could tell (given the Afterword for every issue of this series) that Remender is quite passionate and proud about this work. I do think he should be.
LOW is a sci-fi comic book story set in an underwater world. It's also billions of years into the future, where our sun in the solar system has expanded to a toxic level of radiation, so it is more or less about to wipe…