2013 in Photos

Going through my photos on Facebook, I realize how much of a blast this year had been!

So I thought I'd compile this little blog, Buzzfeed style.

1. First, there was that final book in the series that I followed for ten years!

2. Speaking of fandom, the Avengers turned 50!

Original to movie logos

3. And my friendship with my high school friends turned 18!

4. There were those couple of times I got published ( NAME INCLUDED) internationally.

Planet Philippines
San Diego Comic Con Souvenir Book

5. Then, those few times I tried something new and physical like running...

Outbreak BGC 2
Color Dash
...and rafting.

Magdalena, Laguna

6. When I got a new dog.

His name is Manong and he's a constant presence on my Instagram.

7. Or when my friends got married.

Armi and Jay-r
Duds and Carlo
Han and Bon
Pat and Carlos (Photo c/o Andrea)

8. And had babies.


9. A couple of friends returned after so many years away.

Alec's birthday
Hec's (plus Elaine and Rej's) birthday/s
10. And we went places!

UP Fair

11. We also said a goodbye to a fellow geek. RIP Vic.

Honoring Vic's favorite past time: GAMING!

12. Speaking of the geeks, one of the proudest moments I had this year was helping to raise funds for Yolanda survivors doing what we love to do - BE OURSELVES!

I even got to design our promotional materials.

13. I got obsessed with PAYING FOR digital content.

(Not in picture: Imagecomics.com and CDbaby.com)

14. And even got new gadgets!

My 'Droids
My e-book reader!

15. I didn't get to travel much this year but I still got to discover brave new worlds.

(Not in picture: Elantris)

16. I also started wearing glasses and got my teeth fixed (but we don't want a picture of that now, do we?).

17. Perhaps the best thing to ever happen this year (that don't get to happen often) was getting to spend more time with family since my grandma and my cousin were here.

That happened to be our first trip in forever - and I'm glad to have been the one to organize it!
18. Oh, and I turned 32.

For the most part, it's been a bit of a banner year. But it also left me with a lot to think about. It was the year of the elections and Yolanda, after all.
On a personal level, I realized I had some growing up to do.
I've been holding on to the returns from my Prudentialife college plan for quite a while only to see it fizzle out into practically nothing. That I'm unprepared for so many things was a harsh realization.

Still, it was a good year. The only regret I had was I seemed to have lost a friend.
My only wish for the coming year is to see that bridge rebuilt.


Kobo Glo and eBook Shopping

Earlier this month, thanks to a seasonal spike in income, I finally got myself a dedicated ebook reader. And as one can surmise from this blog's title, I got a Kobo.

Why a Kobo?

Because it's not a Kindle.

Look, I don't want to turn this into a Kindle vs Kobo thing because I've only ever had the experience of using the one device. And while I have nothing against Amazon (except maybe the closed ecosystem), I do believe in growing the industry by encouraging competition. So while everybody and their mother enjoy their Kindles, I'm going for the alternative experience.

National Bookstore also made the accessories available, so I got my Kobo a nice sleep cover.
Sidenote: This is pretty consistent of me. As I mentioned on Instagram, back when the iPod was king, I went Creative. Heck, I'd be using Palm/WebOS right now if the platform was still active.

Anyway, I got the Glo, which is Kobo's mid-range offering that competes directly with the Kindle Paperwhite and Nook Glowlight. The model was launched last year and I've all but given up on ever getting my hands on one locally.

Then something near to miraculous happened when National Bookstore partnered with Kobo Inc. to be the official distributor of Kobo products in the country. The Glo, along with the Touch and the Arc, was officially launched at the Manila International Book Fair mid of this year. But I still bided my time because: a) Limited income; and b) I still had a collection of droids that I can read books on. For the same reasons, I also waited for a sale that never happened and mentally debated whether I should just get a Mini from one of the local online gray market shops.

Image credit: Kobo's device line-up
All the while I keep thinking that I don't really have a collection of eBooks to merit a separate device specifically for reading. I have a small collection of pirated epubs but every time I try to read one, I just couldn't help feeling uncomfortable. As a writer, I just didn't like the idea of cheating authors out of their due royalties. Also: most of these typed up epubs are really crappy.

Then fate handed me a good one once again when just last month, Kobo sent me a 50% discount code that I can use multiple times on their online store! I also stumbled upon other discount coupons online that went as high as 85%! Long story short, I'm almost broke by P10k thanks to my eBook spree.

TIP: BPI My ePrepaid has a down-time from 10am to 6pm. Paying either directly or via Paypal can result in failed transactions during that period. My account was locked after three unsuccessful attempts, so I had to use my Metrobank Mastercard debit card.

The great thing about the Kobo eBook store is that their prices are already in Philippine peso. The downside, I notice, is that there is no Add To Cart option. I had to Check-out every item individually, which can get pretty taxing.

By the end of the promo period, I had acquired a good number of ebooks and the Kobo virtual library on my tablet was looking pretty filled up. I got books by Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, Guy Gavriel Kay, Jim C. Hines and young adult fantasy series like the Last Apprentice/Wardstone Chronicles, Ranger's Apprentice, and Septimus Heap. Gee, I think it's gonna take me a couple of years to go through them all!

A small section of my virtual library from the Chrome app.
When I finally got my Kobo Glo, all that content was waiting and ready to go! Theoretically, I can also load pirated epubs and other non-Amazon formats as well as the free titles I got from Google Play Books but I have yet to try them.

It's been three weeks since I've had the Glo and I've experienced no problem with the hardware or the store. And if there were, I'm glad to report that the customer service has been excellent. I sent a request for a change of cover and I was promptly advised to contact the publisher, which I did. Within a week, the cover had changed but wouldn't sync to my device. Contacted Kobo customer service via email; they gave me instructions; and presto! Nice, updated ebook cover!

Is it worth reading on a Kobo than on a tablet or smartphone? Hell yeah! I don't know what it is but reading on either devices make me sleepy and disconnected from what I'm reading. I've also tried reading in a moving bus but I got dizzy and nauseated. On the Kobo, I felt more engaged. I also didn't have problems reading in a bus. I don't really know if this adds to the e-ink vs. LCD debate but that's been my experience.

Oh, and don't even get me started on ComfortLight! There's really something about reading in a dark room with the only light coming from my back-lit book that's so engrossing! I love it!

ComfortLight in action. Kobo Glo in front, laptop LCD in the background.
If there's one feature that I would like to add, it's a dedicated notepad app. After all, the Glo does have some games and even a web browser. Evernote integration perhaps - similar to what they've implemented with Pocket?

Either way, it's been a pretty amazing experience so far and I dare to say that next to the PDA and the PMP, I think the dedicated ebook reader is my favorite gadget ever (though I'd probably say that with any ereader).


A Memory of Light: A Fitting End

Well, this is it. A Memory of Light. The final volume in the Wheel of Time series - the massive 14-book series that I found myself delving into 10 years ago during the holiday break from school.

I picked up my copy of the book a week ago when it dropped on local stores along with other members of Wheel of Time Phils. Like with the past two releases, it wasn't without incident with the big bookstores. I had reserved 20 copies with Fully Booked months ahead of the release date but was told their supply hasn't arrived yet. For a reader, nay, a fan who's been following the series for years, the delay was just unacceptable. Thankfully, one of our members tipped me that Powerbooks already has the book. A couple of phone calls later and I had secured my group's copies.


Crisis averted.

Wheel of Time Phils.
I plowed through the book for the next three days, even bringing my copy to the office and reading during breaks. But for Quiz Night Thursday, I had spent the next few evenings reading, forfeiting hours of sleep and even declining an invitation from a friend to hang on a Friday evening. All this just so I can finish the book by Saturday in time for our group's discussion.

A pity I didn't have time to blog about it immediately but here I am now.
So what did I think of A Memory of Light?


Maybe deliberately depriving myself of sleep while going through the more action-packed and emotionally charged third act of the book had more to do with it but I find that I can empathize with the characters better that way. The more exhausted I was, the more I found myself lamenting the fate of certain characters, though it was Bela's death that really made me jump. Egwene's sacrifice was shocking but she went in a blaze of glory, so that wasn't so bad.

Orbit Edition Cover
There were a number of notable deaths in the story (is this a trend for the final books in any series?) but there were hopeful moments as well. The sounding of the Horn of Valere is something that I was personally looking forward to and it was amazing how Olver released the heroes of the Horn! That the Horn also brought out glowing spirit wolves to battle the darkhounds was a plus!

My favorite scenes include Moirane's entrance into the meeting at Merrilor, giving everyone assembled the surprise of their lives, and Mat and Rand's exchange of one-upmanship! Another personal favorite, though not many will agree with me, is Faile's inner monologue about starting out as a Hunter of the Horn (something I have also forgotten) only for the Horn to fall into her hands.

I also loved seeing several minor characters return even for just one scene: Morgase, Teslyn, Laras, Elyas, Juilin, Raen and Ila, Alviarin, and Hurin! Some deceased characters like Aram, Verin, and Masema even get a passing mention along with living characters Valan Luca, Lini, and Thera who probably just didn't figure into the story. As if to remind us that they all played a part in the epic. I'd rather think it was for us fans to properly bid these characters goodbye.

In between these scenes of light are scenes of slaughter. It is war, after all. And this is why reading the book gets really exhausting: When it flies, it's really high but when it falls, it's really low. And because it is a book about war and Robert Jordan is a war historian, the book also gets into excruciating details when it comes to the battle scenes. Often times I find myself not bothering to visualize the battles and just skipping to the outcome. I would have rather those pages devoted to detailing battles be used for character moments like a meeting between Moiraine and Siuan, for example (a scene I was surprised to find absent from the book). Or how about foreshadowing Padan Fain/Mashadar instead of springing him up out of nowhere towards the conclusion? But that's just me.

Daryl K. Sweet's original cover before he passed away
As for that ultimate ending, I am a bit torn. On one hand, it does make sense for Rand to survive and live the rest of his life in peace, affirming everyone else who've been telling him not to relish his impending death. On the other hand, the body-switching was a bit corny though I admit I don't see any other way for him to survive otherwise.

AMoL Book Discussion/Support Group
All in all, though, A Memory of Light is a fitting conclusion as any. I still love it despite my own misgivings. I have to thank Brandon Sanderson for taking on the herculean task of helping draw this series to a close.
As for the series as a whole, I'm going to miss waiting for the next book, going through the speculations and theories, and coordinating with local bookstores to make sure members of our group get copies. I don't know if I'll ever be as committed to another fantasy book series as much as I was with The Wheel of Time. Heck, I only got as far as book six in the Sword of Truth series and I haven't even read Dance of Dragons yet.

I suppose there are still some things to look forward to. The encyclopedia is in the works, the comic adaptation is ongoing, and maybe a TV series or movies in the future.

But the saga has definitely come to a close. So farewell, old friend. Thanks for a decade of adventures.