[BOOK] Daughters of the Dragon.

20925858.jpg“Daughters of the Dragon” was on sale on Amazon Books so I did the only reasonable thing: I purchased it. I actually didn’t really know what the book was about before even purchasing it. The title seemed interesting and that was it. The part where it says “A COMFORT WOMAN’S STORY” did not even stand out to me since it’s really hard to see such details on a Kindle Paperwhite.

This book surprised me because it tells the story of a comfort woman named Jae-Hee who was only 14 years old when the Japanese ordered her and her sister to be sent to a camp where young Korean girls would serve as comfort women for the Japanese soldiers during World War II. It’s disgusting to think that these Japanese soldiers abused these young women and forced them to “serve” for the sake of Japan. I was actually ignorant of the history and the events that transpired in Korea during World War II.

My country, being a former Japanese colony as well, was also a victim of the evil acts of the Japanese soldiers and government back in the day. In fact, my maternal grandmother bore a deep scar on her chest where she was struck by a harpoon-like gun when they were captured by the Japanese. It was also during that time where my grandmother’s brother was killed by the Japanese. To be honest, I’ve forgotten about these facts and I was only reminded about them when I read “Daughters of the Dragon.” Even though the stories were completely different from what my ancestors went through, the story of Jae-Hee as a comfort woman, as a lost Korean in her own land, as a single mother; similar stories are abundant throughout history but they have been forgotten, ignored. This book is a great reminder that such cruelty happened to these people and it’s hopefully a lesson that we learn from; that we don’t repeat the same mistakes and we don’t let it happen again.

 

This book was purely fictional according to the author, William Andrews, but was based on historical facts. That fact makes it all the more terrible as it is stated that the existence of the comfort women is being denied by the Japanese government which all the more makes it harder for the survivors to seek the deserved justice. What this book does is it creates awareness that hopefully someday these victims receive the justice they have been looking for.

NinthMelody rating: 8/10

[TV] 13 Reasons Why.

13-Reasons-WhyOk, done!

After reading the 13 Reasons Why, I definitely had to watch it. It’s a Netflix Original Series and all 13 episodes can be watched on NETFLIX right now.

I’m gonna say it now at the very beginning. I actually liked this better than the book. It’s quite rare for me to prefer a movie/tv adaptation over the book because normally the adaptations lose important details that are present on the books. In this series, however, they’ve actually added details that were missing on the book and it made everything more interesting and more alive.

In the book, the readers only read about Hannah’s and Clay’s perspectives. We only hear their versions of the truth. I’m not saying that Hannah was lying, only that her perception of the events is different from how another person might see it. It’s interesting to also see the reactions and consequences of Hannah’s tapes on the lives of the other people mentioned on the tapes and not just Clay’s. Also, each character mentioned by Hannah on her tape was given a backstory in the series. We get a glimpse of their lives and it helps us understand why they are the way they are. In a way, the series was able to humanize the characters and create a sense of empathy for them; no matter how bad they might have been to Hannah, their actions do not define who they are.

There are definitely changes in the story so it’s not a complete adaptation from the book.

  1. In the book, Clay was able to listen to the tapes in a day. In the series, however, Clay finishes listening to the tapes in several days. This is actually the mildest difference I noticed.
  2. There were additional characters in the series like Jeff Atkins (Clay’s friend whom he tutors), the parents (played a more active role in the series), and Sheri (originally Jenny in the book).
  3. A large part of the series also focuses on Hannah Baker’s parents who are also looking for answers. In the book, they were hardly mentioned but in the series, they played a much bigger role which makes a lot of sense since what kind of parents would not want to seek justice for their child’s death especially since they believe that Hannah was bullied or treated badly in school which pushed her to her decision.
  4. The sequence of the tapes are different. Clay was 11th in the series. In the book, he was 9th.
  5. Hannah’s suicide was more gory in the series where she decided to slit her wrists whilst in the bathtub. The book was more mild with Hannah overdosing on pills (which actually makes more sense since her parents own a pharmacy store).

There are other changes I’m sure but I wasn’t able to note them all down.

For entertainment value, 13 Reasons Why is a very good show. It shows the harsh reality  of life. It puts into spotlight the effects of suicide, bullying, spreading of rumors, sexual assault, emotional assault and many other topics that are difficult to discuss. The show, however, requires strict parental guidance as it does portray such topics that may be misconstrued or misunderstood by troubled audiences as a glamorization of suicide. I’m sure that is not the intent of the series but rather the opposite however, to the sensitive minds of audiences who may be playing with the idea of suicide, I worry that there might be a misinterpretation of the idea which is why STRONG PARENTAL GUIDANCE is advised. 

All in all, a good series and I wouldn’t mind getting a Season 2. It would be nice to have a definite closure for every puzzle piece. It sure did leave us hanging even more so than the book did.

NinthMelody rating: 9/10

[BOOK] 13 Reasons Why.

Reasons USThis debut novel by Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why, was first released in 2007. I only decided to read it 10 years later. Although I have known about this book for a couple of years already, I only decided to give it a go now because of the NETFLIX series of the same name, based on this book, which was produced by Selena Gomez. (I will definitely watch it!)

I found that the premise was interesting and the story was told in dual points of view simultaneously which is quite refreshing. Most of the books that I’ve read that have dual perspectives dedicate one chapter per person so although that creates more of an in depth narration of each perspective, the way Jay Asher presented the voices of the two main characters, Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen, was highly engaging that it feels more conversational and intimate.

For those who have not read the summary of this book yet, it’s about Hannah Baker, a high school student who commits suicide. Before her death, she made recordings on a cassette tape which she sent out to those people whom she believed to have pushed her to end her own life. One of the recipients of the tapes is Clay Jensen, the other protagonist of the story.

The book opens with Clay sending out the cassette package to the next person on Hannah Baker’s list. She sent out the cassette tapes to the first person on her list where she details what that person did to her that made a snowball effect on her life which eventually made her decide to commit suicide. It was her intention to make the cassettes be passed on from one person to the next until it reaches the 13th person mentioned in the tape, thus the 13 Reasons Why (she killed herself).

What I liked about this book was Jay Asher’s style which was not only easily comprehensible but also relatable. You could empathize with Hannah or her “friends” or the people mentioned in her tape. Either way, it’s something that would leave an impression on you long after you’ve finished reading it.

I don’t want to talk about details from the book as it would ruin the whole experience. However, I do have some afterthoughts after having read the book.

What happened to Hannah Baker is devastating and frustrating at the same time. The worst part about this type of death is there is always that part of you that looks for “signs” or “clues” whether you could have done something to prevent it from happening and even more so frustrating is that even if you do realize it, you realize it a little too late. Such events are filled with regrets and what-ifs which makes it that much harder to move on.

The topic of “suicide” is a very serious matter that requires attention especially since the number of suicide rates in teens and young adults are surprisingly large. From Hannah’s experience, it shows that it’s not just one reason or a singular incident that pushes one over the edge. It’s actually the small details that have a snowball effect on one’s life that if left unattended, can push one over the edge of the cliff. Realizing this makes you think of the little things you do that might have a massive effect on other people. In this regard, it reminded me of the book “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng which I read last year. It’s the things we don’t say that make the most impact on other people and that makes it terrifying. To think that how much of the unsaid things could have saved a relationship, a friendship, a life.

I do not condone suicide. I will not justify Hannah’s actions. Were her problems too much for her to handle? Maybe. Even so, I believe that every problem has a solution. The solution may not be easy, it might even seem impossible, but there is always a solution. Suicide is never the answer. If such thoughts enter your mind, seek help. There’s no shame in admitting it. Find your solution because if suicide is your answer, you have not found it.

All in all, 13 Reasons Why is a must-read. It might be a dark-themed story but it reflects real-life. It’s close to reality as it can happen to anyone, anyone we know and if this book can make us want to be a better person just so we can help prevent other people from falling into the same fate as Hannah Baker, then this book has done its job well.

NinthMelody rating: 8.75/10

[BOOK] A Thousand Pieces of You.

9780062278968I’ll be honest. I “judged a book by its cover” and that’s how I came to read this book by Claudia Gray, the first book in the Firebird series, “A Thousand Pieces of You.” I don’t think anyone can deny the beauty of the cover but does the story live up to its cover art?

Here’s the synopsis of the book from Goodreads:

Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father’s killer through multiple dimensions.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores an amazingly intricate multi-universe where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.

Right off the bat, the readers are introduced to the “Firebird,” the device that allows its wearer’s consciousness to travel to different dimensions. In fact, from the first chapter, the adventure starts right away. Marguerite and her friend, Theo, immediately put on their Firebirds to chase Paul into another dimension to avenge Marguerite’s father’s death. That’s exactly why I found it a bit overwhelming in the beginning. I felt like I was being thrown in a battlefield without being briefed on what the war was about.

Getting past the beginning though, I was able to appreciate the multi-universe travel concept more than time-travel mainly because it has less loopholes. With time travel there are problems with paradoxes and the whole thing is just messy once you think about it. With multi-universe travels, only the consciousness of the person travels, not the physical body so there is no possibility of accidentally bumping into your other self in the other dimension. This also means that you may only travel into a parallel universe where your other self exists. Sounds fun actually (unless you’re being targeted by bad guys).

Anyway, back to the story… Marguerite and Theo follow Paul across universes to supposedly “kill” him for killing Marguerite’s father. The thing about travelling to other dimensions is that you never know where and what your other self would be. Even more complicated than that, the other universes could be completely different from your original universe. So when Marguerite and Theo follow Paul into another universe, they also find out that if they take over the body of their other selves, they could also be taken over by that universe’s version of them.

Aside from the multi-universe travelling, the story also involves a love story. In some ways, it’s a love-triangle but most of the time, Marguerite keeps denying her feelings or keeps trying to hide it. She clearly feels closer to Paul over Theo before the whole “Paul-killed-my-father” incident. Obviously this is also the reason why she keeps stopping herself from loving Paul. Who in their right mind would fall in love with the person who supposedly robbed you of the chance to ever see your parent?

Since this is a 3-part series, I can’t make conclusions about the whole story just yet. The first series was alright. It was interesting enough to make me want to read the succeeding books.

NinthMelody rating: 7/10

 

[BOOK] After You.

AfterYouOkay, so months after I finished Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, I decided to read “After You,” the sequel. It still follows the story of Louisa Clark, years after the end of “Me Before You.”

As seen in Goodreads, here’s a brief synopsis of the book:

“You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future…

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

I would say that it was quite enjoyable just not as engaging as the first one except for some of the more fast-paced parts. I would not give out any spoilers but there are some pretty exciting scenes so look forward to those. However, I feel like After You did not leave as big an impression as Me Before You did. To be honest, I was fine with not knowing what Louisa Clark did with her life after Me Before You. By the end of the first book, I was convinced that Louisa would eventually find her own way with the help of Will’s loving memory pushing her to move forward no matter what. I’m not saying that’s not what happened in After You but I feel like her story was concluded right there and then.

Anyway, the book was not such a bad read. Not at all. It had a pretty solid story with the introduction of new characters that would affect Louisa’s life in big ways. For those who felt Me Before You was too short, definitely read this sequel. It might give you the closure you’re looking for.

NinthMelody rating: 7/10

[BOOK] The Girl On The Train.

I’ve had this book for quite some time now and I’ve always wanted to read it ever since I got it. The premise looked interesting and I was simply curious so I decided to read it.

Here’s the description from the iTunes store:

girl-train-movie-detailsRachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

It is a psychological suspense thriller that would keep you guessing “Who did it?” until the end. Not only do the readers not know what happened to the missing person, the readers and also the main character (Rachel) do not know whether the she had anything to do with it. This is due to Rachel’s alcoholism which renders her completely unaware of what happens during her bouts of drunkenness.

I see a lot of comments around the web saying it is like “Gone Girl” and I disagree. Sure, some girl ends up “missing,” the characters are not to be trusted, but other than those, I don’t find any more similarities. They seem familiar but completely different. In my opinion, both stories are good because of the surprise elements. So if you want to be surprised, stop reading reviews about these 2 books and just go read. NOW!

I have not watched the movie adaptation of this book but I am excited how it would translate on screen. It stars Emily Blunt as the main character, Rachel. From the trailer, I thought Jess/Megan would be Jennifer Lawrence but apparently it’s Haley Bennet. They look very similar from the trailer. The trailer can be seen below but I suggest watching it only once you’ve read it. In my opinion, that’s the best way to read a book. It’s so much more satisfying.

NinthMelody rating: 8.5/10

[MOVIE][BOOK] The Little Prince.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

It’s 2017 and there are so many things to be excited about. I don’t know about you, but I sure am excited for the future.

Let me start off my first post by sharing my thoughts on my favorite animated movie that I watched last year (even though it was apparently released in 2015), THE LITTLE PRINCE.


little_princeFirst of all, this movie is too cute!! All the characters are lovable and most of all, the story has moral lessons all over. The animation is just top notch and simply mesmerizing. The first time I watched the trailer, I was dead set on watching out for it.

Prior to watching the movie, I must admit, I hadn’t read the book beforehand. In a way, it was great because everything was a surprise. I was a stranger to the whole storyline so I was in full attention while watching it. The Little Prince was so lovable and I wanted to actually meet such an innocent, kind-hearted soul.

The movie starts out with a little girl whose life is strictly planned out to the point that every hour of her summer is scheduled into a time table. Clearly, no child should be submitted to this kind of rigidity that they would lose the freedom to be just kids. The little girl, one day, meets her neighbor, an old man, who seems to have been an aviator in the past. He was clearly a man of adventure back in the old days and it could also be seen through his quirky house, the lone house in the whole neighborhood which had a distinct personality. The Aviator tells the Little Girl of the story about his encounter with the Little Prince in the Sahara desert back in the old days. From this point on, we hear the story of the Little Prince as written in the book (this I found out, after reading the book of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).

I was never really introduced the story of The Little Prince when I was younger so imagine my surprise when I found out that this was such a classic story, normally given as a mandatory reading in schools. Obviously I thought it was a childish story but it definitely is not. It is a story both children and adults would surely appreciate and love. The philosophy behind it is advanced yet the storytelling is extremely basic to be understood even by children.

“The Little Prince” also touches on the concept of death which might sound a bit too dark for children but it is actually a good introduction for them. It was dealt with in such a way that might help children accept the fact that death is a natural concept and in the event that it occurs, the best way is to let go and move on. Sadness will always be a part of death but there is also the hope of peace and acceptance associated with it.

Here’s the trailer:

All in all, both the book and the movie were enjoyable in my opinion and it is something that should not be missed. It’s truly a classic that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults.

NinthMelody rating: BOOK – 9/10  | MOVIE  – 9/10