Books, Lists
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Capsule Reviews No. 6: April and May (Pt. 1) 2016

What a long and boring title. I’m a little behind in… well, a lot of things. But I’d like to think it’s because I’ve been concerned with a bunch of other “more interesting” things. This, post, for example, I had planned to post about a month prior to today. And here we are. To be fair, I have gone to another continent (and it’s something I’m still not quite over!) and have been working, etc. And also, I should have posted this earlier than a month ago, anyway.

APRIL

In April, I read four fairly short books, and my memory’s a little fuzzy, but I’ll try to talk a little bit about them. Like, oh, I don’t know, a capsule review. Ahem.

07— The Guardians by Sarah Manguso

I guess I had an inexplicable urge to buy all of Manguso’s books that I didn’t already have? I only had Siste Viator, Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape, and The Captain Lands in Paradise at that point. This is the first nonfiction book of hers I was able to read in its entirety. It’s poetic in its (seeming) pointlessness, where Manguso attempts to solve the death of her friend, trying to fill in the hours between he was last scene and what appears to be a suicide-like departure, despite not being a witness and not having any clues.

It’s futile as a “mystery,” but a beautiful expression of grief, love, and friendship, and an empathetic approach to madness and mental health.

08— Staying Alive by Laura Sims

To be honest, this probably deserves a re-read! I should have spent more time with it, but I didn’t, and I feel like a lot of its complexities didn’t seem apparent to me. Because I rushed it. A short poetry collection that’s set around the imminent apocalypse, Staying Alive deals with survival. A gift from my sister.

09— Happy Endings by Luis Katigbak*

Found my old copy from high school, given to me by Petra. I wish I had paid more attention to this short story collection, because it might have helped me gain the confidence to write more. Often, we’re struck with paralysis when we try to write stories, because it feels like the only ones worth telling are the ones that have grand adventures and voyages, or teach heavy and important life lessons, or a have a character change completely, as part of a personality transformation that propels the entire plot.

But what I love about Luis’ stories is that they feel as real as can be. And even when they’re small, they feel important and worthy of telling. He has a way that makes you listen and pay attention and give a shit.

10— Itch by Mich Cervantes

Finally got myself a copy of Itch, heh. 💛 Loved this, @themichlife! — #carinareads2016

A photo posted by Carina Santos (@presidents) on

Added this to my list of 20 books from the last 20 years that are worth a read. This is how you battle stigma—you talk about it. Itch deals with the stigma around sex, specifically, and how we grow up being so shy and ashamed to even broach the subject. We’re a long-ass ways away, but if you’re young (or if you have a young kid, or a young pamangkin), this is a good place to start opening up the conversation around sexuality. Daunting, true, but necessary.

MAY (PART 1)

Okay, so in May, it turns out I was super diligent, but also very into graphic novels and comics. So I read about 12 books, but a lot are either super short or come with pictures. No big deal for me, since I shamelessly count them towards my reading goal. I’ll talk about a few here, so the next post isn’t so overwhelming.

11-13— Young Avengers Vol. 1 to Vol. 3 by Kieron Gillen

Young Avengers on the bus ride home 🚌 #CarinaReads2016

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I actually read this series without reading Allan Heinberg’s “The Children’s Crusade” first, so I had to, um, learn quickly. I really enjoyed it, though. I mean, I’m really not a comics expert… at all, but I’ve always enjoyed these coming-of-age age superhero stories, because of course you have time for hormonal drama in between saving the world (or yourselves!). Really enjoyed this series; so much so that it made me very enthusiastic about…

14-16— The Wicked + the Divine by Kieron Gillen

This universe is completely up my alley. Basically, gods from across the board get reincarnated every few years (a cycle) within the bodies of then-normal humans, and then they assume the identities of pop/rock stars. Recognizable are the likes of David Bowie and Prince. It’s probably super gratuitous, with all the musical appearances (although, that aspect is central to the plot), but it honestly works out so well with the mythologies. And, I appreciate the wide diversity in these characters, from race to sexual orientation to personalities. I’ve definitely been enjoying this series. My only gripe is that I have to wait for new issues, since it’s an ongoing, unfinished series.

17-18— Afterlife with Archie Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

As far as I know, these are the only two volumes out so far (surprise: it’s unfinished), but if I remember correctly, they’re in the process of making the third volume? Is that just my wishful thinking talking? Possibly. In any case, this is a pretty morbid take on the whole Archie universe—someone important gets turned into a zombie, and then there’s a weird side-story that I’m still a little shaken by—but this homage to old horror actually works really well.

And that’s that for now. I know these are a little vague, but I can’t get into detail too much because it’s been a while since I read these things. My mental capacity is mostly at “good, I liked it” or, you know… not good. Still, I hope this was helpful? In some way? To you? I know it is, to me, just for the record.