Category: Books

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins


Mockingjay is the third and final book in The Hunger Games trilogy.  It concludes the story of Hunger Games.  I spent a weekend reading all three books (Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mockingjay) and there, the story ended just like that.  I guess every story has an ending.  Besides, we wouldn’t wanna know any more details about Katniss personal life after all the hunger games and war ended right?


Having escaped from the 75th Hunger Games, Katniss is in more danger than ever.  President Snow is out to kill her and the people she loves while holding Peeta hostage.

It has been revealed that the mysterious District 13 still exists, and is the headquarters of the rebellion.  Katniss must decide her role in the revolution.

While Katniss becomes the districts’ icon, it turns out the rebels are as cruel as the Capitol’s leaders.

Survival and trust are further tackled in Mockingjay.  Katniss faces a new responsibility by having to choose to become a mocking jay or not for the rebels.  Things are really different as Katniss’ motivation is no longer just about her family but also the strong urge to seek revenge against President Snow for the justice of her friends who were killed.

Mockingjay is more serious compared to the other books as we learn more about the Capitol and how cruel they are, even toward the citizens of their own city!  The focus point in this book is that the districts are in a revolution against the Capitol: who will win the revolution?  Will Katniss survive it?  who will she end up with?

New characters are introduced in the book that are mostly part of the rebellion group.  There are tons of politics and I actually got a bit lost as to who’s really the villain and who’s really the hero.  That made it exciting for me.  It wasn’t a game anymore.  War is really happening.

The love story wasn’t a major theme in the Hunger Games trilogy.  I expected to see more of that in Mockingjay but unfortunately, the love triangle between Gale, Katniss and Peeta wasn’t expounded as I wish it to be.  We just knew who Katniss ended up with.  Somehow, I also felt that the situation called for Katniss to settle for a guy and it really wasn’t her choice for her.  I guess that’s the only angle that I felt disappointed with.  Nevertheless, Mockingjay was awesome!

Mockingjay has shown how real a person Katniss is.  Both her weaknesses and strengths are laid out and you can see how complex her character is (just like all of us).  She’s not perfect.  She’s a teenager who possesses enormous inner strength based on personal experiences.  She’s both a killer and a victim.  At the latter part, I saw how she allowed other people control her actions which is really sad but a teenager can only do so much.

Knowing how traumatic Katniss’ experiences are, the book has shown that it had an effect on her.  At least, this fictional story has some hint of reality which is really good.  I believe that’s one of the reason why the Hunger Games trilogy is successful.

Suzanne Collins
Hardcover: $10, Kindle Edition: $8

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Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire

Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  The first book ended with Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark winning the 74th Hunger Games.

I’m relieved that I discovered the books after watching the movie, Hunger Games.  Because if I have read the 2008 book when it was released, I would have been so impatient in waiting for the next one to arrive.  Luckily, I can read the books continuously.

This time, I’m sharing with you my review of Catching Fire.  The book continues the story of Katniss, the only female victor from District 12.  It revolves around the aftermath of her victory.

** spoiler alert

  • Katniss’ rebelliousness (berries) in the 74th Hunger games angered the leaders of the capitol.
  • President Snow threatening Gale & Katniss’ family’s lives unless Katniss convinces the people that she and Peeta are madly in love.
  • The victory tour where she and Peeta visits all 12 districts of Panem starting with district 11, where Katniss’ friend Rue came from.
  • the romance part where Katniss starts to get confused with her feelings for both Peeta (her co-victor) & Gale (her best friend).
  • Katniss discovering the ongoing rebellion in the districts.
  • 75th Hunger Games wherein former victors are entered again in the survivor game including Katniss & Peeta.
  • Rebellion finally started and is now full-blown.
  • Peeta being captured by the Capitol.
  • District 12 has been bombed and destroyed.

Most young adult books focus on love or supernatural abilities.  The Hunger Games trilogy doesn’t do those at all!  We can certainly relate with the characters especially Katniss.  She’s not a damsel in distress that needs rescuing from prince charming.  I like that the female lead character is strong and sophisticated.  This is really just a story of survival, friendship, government, control, love, friendship and family.

Like the first book, I was totally excited about what would happen next.  I would quickly read Catching Fire trying to guess succeeding events but I failed.  The story wasn’t predictable at all and I really appreciated that!

Suzanne Collins was successful in improving the first book and I was even more psyched to read the third book.  Catching Fire was very well-written.  I don’t have any complaints with it at all since there wasn’t any dull moment.  I was trying to catch every single detail in the book hoping to understand/participate the ending.

The 75th Hunger Games is more deadly and the tributes personalities’ are more interesting.  In Catching Fire, we get to know more of each of the characters and their stories.  I can imagine how cool the next Hunger Games movie will be.  November 2013, I can’t wait for it!

Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins
Hardcover: $11, Kindle Edition: $8

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Hunger Games Book

I immediately got myself a copy of the book right after I watched the movie, Hunger Games.  As far as I can remember, this is the first time that I actually wanted to read all the books right after finishing a movie.  I read this first book by Suzanne Collins nonstop on a saturday afternoon and finished it in one sitting! :O

And that goes the same for the next 2 books (Catching Fire & Mockingjay) in this Hunger Games trilogy…

The Hunger Games Book was written as a narration by the main character of the story, Katniss Everdeen.


North America has been destroyed and now named Panem.  The Capitol rules Panem and is divided into 12 districts.

As punishment for the districts’ rebellion attempts in the past (specifically district 13, now destroyed), the Capitol holds an annual televised reality show called the Hunger Games.  Each of the 12 districts must draw the names of a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18.  These 24 young kids (called ‘tributes’) must fight to the death in an arena created by the Capitol Gamemakers.  The one and only survivor will go home to a more comfortable life with money and fame waiting for them.

Prim Everdeen (Katniss’ 12-year old sister) is the only person that Katniss loves above everyone else.  So when Prim’s name was called to be a tribute, Katniss immediately volunteered to take her place.  Together with Peeta Mellark from District 12, they must fight their way to be the sole survivor of the Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games is intended for kids ages 13 and up.  I still feel a bit uncomfortable with kids reading the book considering the many violence, especially the one where kids as young as 12 years old kill and die out of survival.  But I guess, every generation is different.  Young adults are smarter and they know what is right and what is wrong.  We just have to trust that they treat this as fiction and look beyond what the story is all about.

The concept of this kill to survive in a game is not new.  There’s Battle Royale which was much more gore and deadly.  The reason why The Hunger Games was successful is how the author Suzanne Collins wrote it. While it was disturbing to read murders like snapping necks, killed by spears, arrows, rocks and mutated animals, Collins made sure that we focused on the emotional side of the story.  And that of course moved readers like us.  We all wanted to find out what will happen with Katniss, Peeta and Gale, when and if Hunger Games will ever stop, and how the story will finally end.

It was successful in its target audience and it expanded to everyone else!  I’m older (hehe!) but I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  The nonstop suspense kept me from putting down the book.  On that day that I was reading The Hunger Games, I only took breaks to go to the washroom or to eat.

Whatever way you look at it, there are lessons that you can find in the book.  Whether they are to be applied to your job or to your personal life, there are takeaways and that’s what’s important.  As I was browsing through the net, I actually saw different lists of lessons from the book.  It was actually impressive!  There were lessons for marketers, for social media professionals and even for economy!

On the other hand, I had these thoughts after reading the first book:

  • It is vital for us to know what our strengths are and to make good use of them.  Katniss knew she can hunt and that definitely helped her thoroughly with surviving in the Hunger games.
  • Do not let other people control us and our principles.  We have the power to choose.  We must be in control of our own lives.  I loved the line of Peeta when he told Katniss, “I keep wishing I could think of a way to show the capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than a piece in their games.”
  • Winning does not always bring fulfillment and happiness.  District 12 mentor Haymitch, in spite of winning Hunger Games, ended up being a miserable drunk person.  We all know why he was like that.  Imagine killing tons of people against your will or personal morals, would you be happy with that?
  • While you can succeed on your own, it’s better to form alliances.  The more people working together, the bigger chances you will succeed.  In the Hunger Games, we saw several alliances like Katniss & Rue and the career tributes.
  • Having a mentor is great.  I used to take this for granted and didn’t take opportunities when I got the chance.  In this book, you’ll see how valuable Haymitch is for Katniss.  He saved her lots of times during the game and he continued to be a good coach especially for District 12 tributes.
  • Lastly, YOU can make a difference.  We all can!  Look at how Katniss inspired the people in Panem!  She became a symbol of change through her actions in the Hunger games.

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
Paperback: $5.00/Kindle Edition: $5.00

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The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

I believe everyone of us is a work in progress.  Which is why I tend to find ways to improve myself.  I know possibilities are endless and time is indeed essential.  One of things I know I should start doing is to read a lot of books.  So when the opportunity came that I can join a book club (even via Twitter), I immediately showed my interest.

The group calls themselves #Gangsters.  I don’t know the history why they called the group that name but I’m okay with anything.  I’m just glad that they accepted me to be part of the group.  The first book that we all decided to read together is A.J. Jacobs‘ book, The Year of Living Biblically – One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.  It’s timely especially for me as I have started my spiritual journey this year.  I was baptized last Chinese New Year and also, I have started my Project 365 which coincidentally is to read the Bible completely.  So having a perspective from A.J. Jacobs was really good.

A.J. went as far as following all the commandments and rules in the Bible literally.  He bought almost every Bible translation in the market, talking to different religious leaders/people and going to religious places to experience the word of God.

Reading the book was truly enlightening.  I can say that it was also very entertaining!  The author had so much wit and humor that there weren’t any dull moment as I browse through the author’s daily story.

Here are some more things I find fascinating in A.J. Jacobs’ book: The Year of Living Biblically:

  • One of the A.J. Jacobs’ reasons in going through the Bible quest was to instill some religion to his son, Jasper.  I felt it was very loving of him and we wish that all fathers are like that.  Like all agnostics, A.J. knew that there is a God, a higher being, a God that we look up to and always strive to seek.  It’s admirable that he wanted to go through this journey in full so that he can share what he learned to his son.
  • I think, just like the author, I also violate the second commandment a lot.  As what is said, “You shall not make for yourself a graven image”, can be interpreted as not taking photographs, drawn images, paintings and sculpture.  My blog is full of photographs.  I truly believe that if I don’t put photos in this blog, it’ll become boring and readers won’t come back to check more posts.  I haven’t finished reading the Bible but I want to understand this myself.  For now, I have to ask for forgiveness from the Lord as I can’t seem to give this up for Him 🙁
  • I use a life study version for my Bible study.  I find it extremely hard to understand the Bible with just its original verses.  I find it odd why the Bible won’t use simple words so we can understand quickly.  One of the author’s spiritual board members answered this same question with, “Life is a jigsaw puzzle.  The joy and challenge of life — and the Bible — is figuring things out.  If a jigsaw puzzle came numbered, you’d return it to the store.  Same with life.”.
  • I find A.J. attempt in stoning adulterers hilarious!  He really took it literally.  He took some pebbles and threw it at someone who admitted he’s an adulterer, hahaha!  He only tried it once though.  I could feel his struggle in obeying that rule.  Maybe I should try to do this too :))
  • A.J. practiced praying 30 minutes a day in 10-minute intervals.  It actually helped him become a better person because he learned to be compassionate and less selfish especially when he was praying for others.  I believe I should do the same.  I also learned from the book this acronym ACTS (4 types of prayers) which means Adoration (praising God), Confession (telling God your sins), Thanksgiving (being thankful to God for what you have) and Supplication (asking God to help you).  I shall be using that in my own prayers.  Of course, I never forget what my family in Christ always tell me — to always call on the Lord, like saying, “O Lord Jesus”, all the time!
  • Apparently, the Bible has food laws!  Prohibited food items are pork, bacon or any other pig meat, shellfish (e.g., shrimps, clams, lobsters), blood, rabbits, some birds (i.e., eagles, vultures, falcons) and insects (except for locusts, crickets & grasshopper).  Surprisingly, there are fruits that aren’t allowed too!  Fruits like peaches and pears aren’t allowed as we can only eat fruits from a tree that is at least 5 years old.  According to A.J., most Christians believe that Jesus’ sacrifice freed Christians from the food laws.  I was totally relieve to know that as I SUPER love bacon and shrimps!
  • A lot of people take Bible as a self-help book which I’m guilty of too.  It’s nice that I get reminded that religion is more than that, it’s about serving the Lord 🙂
  • This verse from the new testament: “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of doings“.  The author actually listed down wrong doings of his wife but after reading the verse, he immediately deleted it.  For everyone out there, if we doubt love whether it’s for family, friends or partners, it’s best that we always refer to the verse.
  • I easily get angry when on the road that I tend to curse while driving.  Outside of road rage, I don’t curse but when I’m extremely angry, I curse too.  I know it’s wrong and we should learn to react better when situations calls for it.  Knowing that the Bible wants us not to say bad words or cursing, made me wanna stop cursing altogether.  I hope I can do it.  There are two genres of Biblically naughty words and they are: blasphemy [not to use God’s name in vain (use God’s name only when praying/talking about the Bible] and profanity (e.g., s-word, f-word).

I had a lot of aha moments while I read through The Year of Living Biblically.  I also tend to think if I should do some of the things that A.J. Jacobs did.  Things like not wearing mixed-fiber clothing (wool-linen combination), using white garments often and not working on a sunday.  There are some things that I find personally outrageous and I’m itching to find out myself as I read the Bible.  I consider myself a Christian already but I know I’m still a young one when it comes to my faith.  So this book gave me tons of insights and learnings.

I highly recommend you read this book by A.J. Jacobs.  I appreciate the author’s writing a lot that I suggested to the #GangsterBookClub that we also read his other book, The Know-It-All, next.

The Year of Living Biblically
A.J. Jacobs

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Stanley Chi’s Book: Suplado Tips 2

Stanley Chi’s Book: Suplado Tips 2

Well, what can I say?  Stanley Chi’s Suplado Tips has gone a long way.  In just a few months after Suplado Tips book was launched, UniSilver Time came out with a watch that was inspired by the book.  Both the book and the watches are a huge successes.  So it wasn’t a big surprise when Stanley sent me his latest book, Suplado Tips 2, which is the second installation of Suplado Tips.

Stanley Chi Suplado

In less than a year, Stanley Chi already came up with the second book!  Wow!  Congrats Stan!  I guess people find it entertaining enough learning and practicing the different suplado tips that Stan has shared in his first book.  Maybe, they got themselves ladies chasing after them because they gained confidence by being a suplado?  Well, there’s one thing I know for sure.  Stanley has his own suplada girl!

Now, how timely is that the Suplado Tips 2 book is launching this love month!  The suplado guys need more pointers and they should be more fierce than the ones shared in the first installment of the book.  Well, I’m sure the second book will be able to satisfy their need.  I read the book – Suplado Tips 2 and I must say, Stanley Chi has definitely leveled up!  The tips shared are more ‘suplado-er’.  If I’m a guy, I will have second thoughts using those tips.  Maybe, just maybe, true suplado guys are the ones who can actually pull those off!

Here are some of the Suplado Tips shared on the book sequel:

  • Pag sinabi ng kasama mo, “Hay naku, Monday na naman,” hiritan mo ng, “Alam ko, tumitingin ako sa kalendaryo!”
  • Kung malakas makipagusap sa cellphone ang katabi mo sa bus, tingnan mo ng masama at sabihan mo ng, “Ituloy mo lang yung usapan niyo, nakikinig ako eh!”
  • Kung may nanggagaya sa porma, kilos, at style mo, smile ka lang pero hiritan mo ng, “Talagang wala kang originality, ano?” sabay talikod sa kanya!

Suplado Tips 2

What I like about the Suplado Tips 2 is that aside from the usual suplado tips, Stan has added tons of stuff.  Stuff like comic strips, slum book, photographs, tips from the fans, suplado/suplada stories and the funniest or cutest of them all is the Suplado Society of the Philippines I.D.! hahahaha!

So you wanna level up your being suplado?  Then head on over to Fully Booked and National Bookstore outlets nationwide to get your copy of Stanley Chi’s newest book, Suplado Tips 2 (Php 95).  You can also get the book online through PSICOM Publishing.

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