Underrated Contemporary Book Recs

September has been a good month so far, I’ve read a list of fantastic contemporary books. All of them are diverse, and written by marginalized authors. Its sad to see, they’re quite underrated and not getting enough love. Somehow I hope this post will boost them. So if you want to diversify your reading list, you might want to add these books to your list!

  • Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert. Written by Chinese American author. Conviction is an authentic, emotionally devastating story about abuse and faith. The abuse portrayal in this book is gut wrenching and spot on. Gilbert present in her plot and writing, how abuse massively affects someone in all these subtle and huge things.
  • The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco: Written by Filipino and Philippines based author. This book is inspired by Japanese ghost story “Bancho Sarayashiki.” The story is narrated by Okiku as she follows the journey of Tarquin, the half Japanese boy “to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.” Most readers said they find it scary, but I read it in broad daylight so I suppose I escaped that horror effect. One of my favorite things about it though is that, it is flowery and lyrical, the Japanese culture is also embedded in the plot.

  • Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani: Written by Japanese American author, Ink and Ashes is a Mystery Thriller book. Starring by Japanese family. The story opened up when the narrator, Claire discovered his father was a member of the Yakuza (the Japanese mafia.) Like its premise, this book lived up to its title. It is heart pounding, bloody and it will keep you guessing. The Japanese culture is integrated into the plot. There is heavy emphasis on family and friendship dynamics, just how I like it. You can expect plenty of laughing and swooning. The only think I didn’t liked about it is the subtle “special girl” syndrome and the influx amount of testosterone. But overall, YOU SHOULD BE READING IT. I am smitten. Head over heels.

  • Song of Summer by Laura Lee Anderson: This book has a fantastic disability representation. The protagonist, Carter is deaf and so is his entire family with the exception of her mom who is an ASL interpreter. They are very supportive and I love their interaction. Hands down. Song of Summer is genuinely cute, and adorable until the ending happened. This is something I want to be affront about because I assumed it is  HEA. When I finished it, I felt I was conned. I’m all in for open ending, but I don’t agree with the author’s choice of  direction for the ending. Even though this is the case, I am still recommending it.

  • Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler: This book won’t be released until November, but I read a few days ago and its DEFINITELY worth checking out. We have a very diverse cast, an Indian and Asian - Jew side characters, a Mexican American protagonist, Victoria Reyes, who is fluent in ASL (because her mother is deaf.) Reagan Forrester who lives in the trailer park, who wanted a way out of her town. Aside from that glaring importance of this story. Adler also brought a lot of relevant topics, we haven’t seen much in YA. I’ll try to sum it up, though I’m sure I’ll forget a handful of details. Disability, poverty, positive sex discussion about unprotected sex, oral sex, consent, feminism, abuse and more. It sounds very daunting and it’s just natural to think how could a “plethora of SJ"could fit in a limited page count. But honestly speaking, Just Visiting stays very true. Its a reflection of the world we live in. There is diversity within diversity. And its a damn shame, books like these have a difficult time getting published, if not a very small amount of people pays attention to them.

  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: This book speaks for its title. Its about a Singaporean Chinese family who is ridiculously rich. They live off lavishly. It is outrageously fun and it gives you a close glimpse about their food obsessed culture,  keeping the bloodline and legacy pure, old money and new money - classicism. It was also discussed the racial tension between Mainland Chinese and Overseas Chinese. If you’re looking for a refreshing read. I’d say pick it.

  • An Eternity of Eclipse by Con Template: This book follows the story of Grace Hwang, who was accused of murdering her entire family at the age of six. She has sadistic tendencies and she lives off knowing everyone around her is in misery. Then she met, a Demon who covets her soul. To sum it up, its a paranormal romance and it gives you glimpse about the nature of demons. Compared to your standard Adult paranormal books, this one is actually starring by Korean characters and it is set in Korea.

look what decided to come in the mail today! the majority of my amazon wishlist has a lot of books by filipino authors or about filipino history/culture/literature that i recommend checking out! (please don’t get me anything, just use it as a reference)

Ways of the Ancient Healer: Sacred Teachings from the Philippine Ancestral Traditions by Virgil Mayor Apostol and Brown Skin, White Minds: Filipino -/ American Postcolonial Psychology by E.J.R. David have been on my to-read list forever and now they’re in my hands! 

i’ll be tackling them but i’ll keep y’all updated on the content. 

- admin v

Philippine Mythology is Brought into New Light in “Alternative Alamat”

By Lauren Lola

When we were little, we were exposed to the fairytales of Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson (often filtered more or less through Disney animated features). When we’re older, we learn of the great heroes and violent wars of Greek and Roman mythology. And, if one is lucky, they may possibly be exposed to mythology or folktales that hail from outside of Europe- and this is often the case if one lives in a heavily diverse area, or in another country.

There are many folktales and mythologies from all over the world that have yet to take center stage in people’s consciousness. In the case of the Philippines, it’s especially interesting, for many of their own tales aren’t known- let alone read- nowadays. That’s where “Alternative Alamat: Stories Inspired by Philippine Mythology” comes into play.

Edited together by Paolo Chikiamco and featuring stories written by many contemporary Filipino fantasy authors, “Alternative Alamat” is a short story collection that either gives a modern spin on Filipino folklore, or a tale that’s been passed along for generations is tackled from a different angle or expanded on. From the numerous takes of Maria Makiling (one of the more prominent figures of Philippine mythology), to gods of different parts of the universe falling in love or being separated, these carefully crafted stories are not so much for directly re-telling the original stories, but to showcase them in a different- and sometimes relate-able- light.

Prior to dwelling into this short story collection, my experience and knowledge of Filipino folklore was very limited. Really the only one that I knew of was of Princess Urduja; the warrior princess of the fictional island nation of Tawalisi. This collection opened me up to a whole new world of stories, of gods and heroes that I never knew of beforehand, and the way these authors went about them was engaging and entertaining. They were cool to read, and I now know more tales from the Philippines than I did before.

But at the same time though, I thought it was a little inconvenient that these stories were written in a way as to where one is already expected to know who these characters are (for the most part) going into it. Any references that were made to the original tales completely flew over my head, due to my lack of familiarity for them beforehand, and while there were little descriptions prior to each story regarding what to expect to read, those only helped so much. The good news is though, the book does provide more information for those who’d like to learn more about the folktales and mythology these stories were branched off of.

“Alternative Alamat” was an enjoyable and educational reading experience that I hope to embrace more of the next time I read it. It’s not the wisest introduction to Filipino folklore, but for any lovers of good storytelling out there where legends and modern times meet, then this book is definitely suited for that role.

The World Readers' Award is launched, set to "change the rules"

(Photo by Millie J.A Clinton)

Born in Bangkok last October 2014, the idea of the World Readers’ Award gives Asian writers a chance to be recognized to the world by not initially considering the authors’ nationality.

Organized by The Asia Pacific Writers & Translators, the prize is, in a sense, a broader kind of recognition, compared to the popular favorites like Pulitzer (which requires a US passport), and the Man Booker (which requires a British Commonwealth passport).

Isagani Cruz, an award-winning Filipino author sends recognition to the news saying:

“This is a chance for unwritten and unpublished books to be read and admired…This is also a chance for readers to tell writers that they love these books.”

The executive director of the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Association Jane Camens gives her thought about the prize:

“As the world becomes a more level playing field, the next JRR Tolkien or Ian Fleming will likely be a female from Asia…This prize gives her a chance.“

Unlike the other prizes, the winners will be chosen by a group of readers having diverse cultural backgrounds, not by a panel of professors. The prize is not just set to recognize authors from Asia and does not require specific nationalities. It is open to the world.

The World Readers’ Award office is located in Hong Kong. For more FAQs, visit



Read: July 2010

Repost: Original Review at my Goodreads Account 

It’s been awhile since I’ve read anything in Filipino so I felt that I was slow in enunciating the Tagalog words in my head. 

I never expected this from Bob Ong. Ang nabasa ko lang kasi na libro niya noong high school pa ako ay yung “ABNKKBSNPLAKO!.” All the while, my impression of him was he gets his messages across via humor. This came as a good surprise though. 

Bob Ong was able to give a glimpse of what a typical Filipino living in the squatters area go through just to survive on a day-to-day basis. 

After reading the novel, I felt sadness. 

Sa tuwing madadaan ako sa squatters area at sa maingay na palengke, makasalubong ang mga nanlilimos at nagpapagod na mga kapwa Pilipino, maaalala ko sina Jim, Voltron, Noel at Cyrus. Pati na si Mang Justo. 

Tapos sasambit ako ng maikling dasal, na sana kumapit lang sila ng mahigpit, patuloy magpursige at umasang balang araw…aayos din ang lahat. 

Bata, Bata...Pa'no Ka Ginawa?

“Bata, bata…pa'no ka ginawa? Dahil may dalawang tao diyan na naghandong ng sarili nila sa isa’t isa, dalawang tao na nag-akalang magkabuhol na ang buhay nila. At kahit nang matuklasan nila na mabubuhay din pala sila nang wala ang isa, wala nang magagawa…ang bata ay eto na.

Bata, bata…pa'no ka ginawa? Hindi bigla kundi unti-until, tulad sa lahat ng normal na proseso ng paglaki.”

Bata, Bata…Pa'no Ka Ginawa by Lualhati Bautista

Nakakatuwa! :)

Kanina, pagbukas ko ng FB ko, may notification na, Bebang Siy accepted your friend request. Click to post on her timeline. Ganyan ba yung saktong yun?

And kahapon, nung nag request ako, I left a nakakatangang parang ewang message to her. At ito na ang simula ng pag-uusap namin kanina na parang di kami titigil. Haha! Ni hindi ko na nga alam how to keep the convo going. Alam niyo naman, walang sosyal skills.

Sinong nagsabing matino akong kausap?

Medyo hesitant akong ipasa yung link nung gawa ko kasi may nakita akong grammar laps. Actually, di na siya grammar laps? May nalimutan akong word! Yung ‘like’ bago sa them. Won’t run like them. Won’t ba o don’t ginamit ko? Anyway….

E di pinasa ko pa rin. Nahiya naman ako. Parang pahaging na direkta ko na ngang sinabing gumawa ako, di ko ipapakita? Haha!


“Palagay ko kayang-kaya mo magsulat ng libro! tara! tutulungan kita!”

Pang!!! Haha! Nakakatuwa lang. Kaya lang di ko masabi sa kaniyang isa akong tamad na bata na sa simula lamang magaling pagdating sa mga ganyang bagay at writer-writeran lang ako.

Yeah. Jo asked me once. “Thei, gusto mo magsulat ng libro?” Random and out-of-the-blue yung question. Last sem yun e. Basta nung unang nauso The Hunger Games na lahat sila, nagbabasa ako hindi. Hanggang ngayon naman. Hawakan nga yun di ko pa nagagawa eh!

At friends sila ni Sir Ricky! KEWL! hahaha!

Actually, mahaba pa yan. Natapos lang nung nag-offline na ata siya? Sana, magkita kami! Hehe. Pero wala akong libro. Anong ipapapirma ko? Pwede bang sa damit ko na lang? Haha!

Just so kewl. :)

At, pinost nga niya sa blogsite niya :).

At, hahah! Bb. Althea! NAKS! XD

Poetic adventure through the tarot

(In the photo: Filipino poet Ralph Semino Galán)

Just up today: One of BookMania’s own reviews Ralph Semino Galan’s poetry collection for the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

MANILA, Philippines—Following the successful release of his second book Discernments (Manila: UST Publishing House, 2013), a collection of literary and cultural essays, and book reviews, poet-critic Ralph Semino Galán returns to his first love with the publication of a new poetry collection, “From the Major Arcana” (Manila: UST Publishing House, 2014). Read more.

Check out the review and buy the poetry collection if ever you are in the Philippines!