Book Review : Descartes Highland


Two men, each unaware of the other, share a common family secret: they were sold for adoption by their American father shortly after their births in the Philippines. Three alternating stories interweave the experiences of father Andrew Breszky and the two sons who try to connect and piece together the puzzle of their reckless, impulsive father. One lives in New York and the other grows up in the south of France, later traveling all over Asia as a documentary filmmaker. Both will discover that their relationships somehow echo that of the young man whose history eludes them.
Celebrated Filipino writer Eric Gamalinda’s international debut novel is a contemporary work of ideas that combines mystery, film noir, and existential philosophy. Highly intricate and written in a style reminiscent of the maverick narrative techniques of such filmmakers as Andrei Tarkovsky and Béla Tarr, and with some of the philosophical underpinnings of Michel Houellebecq or Javier Marías. Named after the region of the moon where Apollo 16 landed in the same year these men were born, The Descartes Highlands demonstrates that for lives marked by unrelieved loneliness, the only hope lies in the redemptive power of love.

Back in High School days, I got addicted to local(Philippines) novels mostly written in Tagalog. The stories mostly revolve around forbidden love, Cinderella type stories and lots of drama. English novels were
hard to find and a bit expensive for a student like me.

Although it’s been awhile since I read this pocketbooks, I’m always in a look out for a Filipino writer who deviates from this genre so when Amy Tan recommended this book from Eric Gamalinda, I instantly got a copy.

The book is definitely an intereting read. It switches from present time to early 1970’s in the Philippines and narrates what happens to each character in their period. It explores the era in the Philippines during the Martial Law where everyone is trying to find a way to escape or survive the regime.

What I like about this book is that nothing is sugar coated when it talks about the Philippines. This was/is the lives of some Filipinos. Reading it made me realize what my country has become this past 40 years.

The corruption in the government is still rampant though but slowly being exposed. The ruling politicians that were the same people involve in the Martial Law are still ruling the country.The bad things that he mentioned are ( I think ) still exists especially in the big cities.

I want to say more smart things about the book, but I think it’s much better if you just read it, I can assure you you will not be disappointed.


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Book Review : The Folded Earth

Desperate to leave a private tragedy behind, Maya abandons herself to the rhythms of the little village, where people coexist peacefully with nature. But all is not as it seems, and she soon learns that no refuge is remote enough to keep out the modern world. When power-hungry politicians threaten her beloved mountain community, Maya finds herself caught between the life she left behind and the new home she is determined to protect.

By Anuradha Roy.

It’s one of those books that gives you a calm , serene feeling while you are reading.

Unfortunately though, I can get a connection with the main character Maya. I’m not sure if she is a strong woman or not.  She did defy her father when she decided to marry a foreigner and not somebody from her own caste, but after Micheal (her husband) died, she seems to have lost her zest for life.

On the other hand, I enjoy reading Charu’s adventure. For me, I think she is the best character in the book. She is feisty and full of life. She fights for what she wants when she wants and do not do the things that she finds useless.

It took me a little while to finish reading this book though. Every time there is a description about the mountain, I would have this feeling of going for a climb again or just be outdoor and enjoy instead of being coped up inside the house with the book.

I give it about 2.5 rating out of 5.

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Book : The Waiting Years


I accidentally found this book in the local library and got very curious with it. Here is a summary.

The beautiful, immature girl whom she took home to her husband was a maid only in name. Tomo’s real mission had been to find him a mistress. Nor did her secret humiliation end there. The web that his insatiable lust spun about him soon trapped another young woman, and another … and the relationships between the women thus caught were to form, over the years, a subtle, shifting pattern in which they all played a part. There was Suga, the innocent, introspective girl from a respectable but impoverished family; the outgoing, cheerful, almost boyish Yumi; the flirtatious, seductive Miya, who soon found her father-in-law more dependable as a man than his brutish son…. And at the center, rejected yet dominating them all, the near tragic figure of the wife Tomo, whose passionate heart was always, until that final day, held in check by an old-fashioned code.

This book was brilliantly written by Fumiko Enchi and won one of the highest literary honor in Japan.

It was amazing how patient Tomo with all her husbands cheating with other women and how far she would go to protect her family’s honor.

At first it irked me to read about it and almost put the book down but fortunately I did not and was amazed about the relationship of each woman and how they rely on each other strengths. The art of “Gaman” or patience is definitely well defined in this book.

As I finished reading this book, it gave me a new perspective about relationship and of preserving it not just for myself but for the people that is affected with it.

A book of the past but definitely a great lesson for the future.

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Event : Book Discussion on Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club

For this coming July, the Osaka Book Group is doing Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club”.

I have read this book more than 15 years ago  and fell in love with it, watched the movie and shed a bucket of tears.

If you are an Amy Tan fan or simply love to read and share your opinion and ideas about the book, then please join us over a cup of coffee or wine at Takamura Wine and Coffee Roasters.

A short introduction of the book:

The Joy Luck Club consists of sixteen interlocking stories about the lives of four Chinese immigrant mothers and their four American-born daughters. In 1949, the four mothers meet at the First Chinese Baptist Church in San Francisco and agree to continue to meet to play mah jong. They call their mah jong group the Joy Luck Club. The stories told in this novel revolve around the Joy Luck Club women and their daughters. Structurally, the novel is divided into four major sections, with two sections focusing on the stories of the mothers and two sections on the stories of the daughters.


Where :  Takamura Wine and Coffee Roasters

When : July 6, 2014

Time : 1 P.M. Onwards

Fee : Basically Free, just get a drink from the Shop.

If you are interested in joining this event, please comment here or you can contact me on the Event Page.


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Book: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is the first book of the Ice and Fire Series written by George RR Martin.

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne

By now you probably would have heard about this book or the show.

This was the  book that was discussed during my second meeting with the Osaka Book Group.

My impression of this book? Awesome. Well I’m probably biased but what can I say I really fell in love with the book, the characters and everything in it.

My favorite character? The Imp or commonly known as Tyrion Lannister. He is smart, witty and full of humor and sometimes an ass but that is what made him really interesting.

I could go on and on and on about why you need to read this book and its good and bad point, but what’s the point right? It’s much better to read it and enjoy.

Any GoT fans out there? What do you think of this book.

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