Books, Briefly: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

Kay reviews books in 100 words or less.


The brevity of goodbyes surprised me the most. Every time Eilis had to say goodbye, I expected grand paragraphs that revealed the storm inside her and the pain of separation—but that didn’t happen, or it rarely did. Goodbyes were cut short. They were scenes that happened between lines and pages. The focus of the narrative was on her first day, her first time, her new beginning. I think it’s because this isn’t a book about letting go; Brooklyn is about Eilis finding herself.

Now that this is done, I can finally watch Saoirse and Domhnall in Brooklyn, the film!


My 2016 Reading Challenge

I have so many other things I probably should be writing about. My Japan travel series, for example, which I’ve been trying to finish since 2014(!) Or my Kay in the Bag series, since I promised one post every week. I’m supremely bad at keeping my blogging promises, but here’s another post I pulled out of a hat for ya. Happy New Year, kids.

Today let’s talk about books. Last year I read around three or four books. Maybe even less, I’m not sure. (To be honest I’m just trying to save face here. Does fanfiction count as literature?)

Even though I can literally cover my bedroom in books, I’m not a voracious reader. I’m relentless when it comes to book sales, but once I’ve emerged from the piles with my bounty and hinted at my victory on social media, I quickly realize I have five more books to read—on top of the five hundred I already have on my backlog. The pressure to read all the books I’ve acquired over the years pushes me into a state of distress and into the easy, undemanding arms of fanfiction (#Dramione, just gonna leave this here).

My workaround to this mild hoarding problem: push stuff around until I have a space where I can pile my purchases, taking great pains to make sure it doesn’t look like a hot mess.


As the new year jumped into view, I told myself—in a fit of bright, shiny, new optimism and motivation spurred by my dream of constant self-improvement—that 2016 is the year I’m going to be better. Better at reading, better about forming well-constructed opinions about the literature, better at cross-referencing texts on the fly, better at educating myself, better at being a better person. And I thought, what could be better than hitting the books? Finally get around to conquering that hill. That literal hill of books I have in my room.

Here are the twenty books I intend to read this year.

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Books, Briefly: WonderLust: Stories by Nikki Alfar

Kay reviews books in 100 words or less.


Nikki Alfar’s WonderLust: Stories can kinda pass off as a Neil Gaiman short story collection. Not one of his best, but quite good nonetheless. I don’t really have anything bad to say about it. WonderLust is a pretty enjoyable dip into Philippine speculative fiction. Some of Alfar’s ideas piqued my interest, definitely, truly. In particular, I liked the stories about a literally doe-eyed princess, a god under the protection of his skeptical yet dependable bodyguard, and an Edo-era mecha. If you’re just looking for something interesting and undemanding to read, take WonderLust out for a spin. Tangkilikin ang sariling atin.

Books, Briefly: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Kay reviews books in 100 words or less.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

You know the writing is fantastic when you get sexy, cool dreams in the middle of finishing the book, and you’re suddenly very attracted to and appreciative of culo. I also wanted to pick up where I left off in the Dune series. Junot Diaz did that to me with The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, and if you let him, he can do that to you too. Took him a decade to write Oscar Wao, an exceptionally vibrant and dynamic obra, and he deserves everything for it.

P.S. I’ll die if he calls me his Bene Gesserit bruja.

I Got Manga on My Mind, and My Mind on Manga

I remember the blissful afternoons when I would get home from school, turn on the TV, and just plop down on my bed to watch anime. I grew up in the time of Wedding Peach, Marmalade Boy, Daimos, Voltes V, Akazukin Chacha, Cardcaptor Sakura, Ghost Fighter, Flame of Recca, Gundam Wing, and Fushigi Yuugi re-runs (back when “unite” was just another innocuous word. Thanks a lot, Nakago). Good times, good times. I read (and wrote, regrettably) a lot of fanfiction as well because the feels were too powerful to be left unattended.

Manga, on the other hand, is something I didn’t get into until recently. I’m pretty sure it was hard to get a hold of decent translated scans back in my day, and I didn’t want to get obsessed with collecting a ton of volumes I wouldn’t know what to do with after reading a few times. I think my foray into manga started when I finished watching Kimi Ni Todoke (Reaching You), which drove me absolutely bonkers because it was so adorable and romantic and relatable! As I sat in front of my laptop, browsing for the nth time, I thought, ‘There’s gotta be something more. More official!’ So, I Googled “Kimi Ni Todoke manga,” and the rest is history.

Manga Fox is my go-to website. I think there’s beef between sites like Manga Fox, which collates all the manga you can ever possibly want, and smaller sites that translate only the manga they choose to work on. I guess it’s because the smaller sites work so hard to translate, and Manga Fox just gets their work and their website traffic. Maybe? I’m so sorry, smaller sites! I really like Manga Fox because everything’s there already. I’m sorry. :s

I’ve read a lot of manga thanks to those four-hour-long commutes to and from the office, and a precious few have made it to my Bookmarks folder. Below are the completed works (save for one) that I really, really enjoyed (i.e. made me lose my marbles shipping so hard).  If you’re just getting into manga like I am, I highly recommend these. Ready your precious heart for the barrage of feels.

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