Tag Archives: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – The Movie

Okay, calm down. We all need to calm down for a bit. Over the weekend, the ever so lovely Mr. Saenz tweeted a photo of him with Henry Alberto – the guy who apparently got the nod from our beloved author into writing the screenplay of the award-winning Young Adult book, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I mean, screenplay. Like screenplay! Are we just months or years away from the very own movie of our dear Ari & Dante? Gosh! I was hoping for this for the longest time since I’ve read the book and I do know that eventually it’ll be translated into the big screen but having an acknowledgement that it would indeed be on the silver screen in the future is such a euphoric feeling!!!

Now, let’s just zoom past into the future as to who should be playing the main lead! If I were the casting director, it’d be awfully difficult for me to cast this once in a lifetime roles!!! Who are your Ari & Dante?

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My October-December 2017 Book Haul!

So here’s my final book haul for the year 2017! Whoot hoot! I’ve actually read of all them already but as I’ve said – I loved having my own copies – it’s sort of easier when I’d like to reread them (I am actually rereading the Andrew Brawley now in between books haha)

If you are not familiar with the titles, five of these seven books are all young adult titles save for Texas Pride by Kindle Alexander and On Dublin Street by Samantha Young – both are spectacular reads and both were purchased from Book For Less (along with the Official Illustrated Movie Companion of Beautiful Creatures)

The other four came from Fully Booked which amounted to around 2600-2700 pesos. I discovered though, that Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentelman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is P185 cheaper at the National Bookstore – a shame really cuz I saw it first in Fullybooked! I’m still happy though because I enjoyed the book plus, Fullybooked offers more LGBTQ+ title than the National Bookstore.

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On Dublin Street – Samantha Young
Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare …

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well – until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street, where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her . . . down to the very soul.

Texas Pride – Kindle Alexander
When mega movie star and two time Academy Award winner, Austin Grainger voluntarily gave up his dazzling film career, his adoring fan base thought he’d lost his mind. For Austin, the seclusion of fifteen hundred acres in the middle of Texas sounds like paradise. No more cameras, paparazzi, or overzealous media to hound him every day and night. Little did the sexiest man alive know when one door closes, another usually opens. And Austin’s opened by way of a sexy, hot ranch owner right next door.

Kitt Kelly wasn’t your average rancher. He’s young, well educated and has hidden his sexuality for most of his life. When his long time wet dream materializes as his new neighbor it threatens everything he holds dear. No way the ranching community would ever accept him if he came out. With every part of his life riding on the edge, can Kitt risk it all for a chance at love or will responsibility to his family heritage cost him his one chance at happiness?

He Forgot to Say Goodbye – Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove don’t appear to have much in common. Ram lives in the Mexican-American working-class barrio of El Paso called “Dizzy Land.” His brother is sinking into a world of drugs, wreaking havoc in their household. Jake is a rich West Side white boy who has developed a problem managing his anger. An only child, he is a misfit in his mother’s shallow and materialistic world. But Ram and Jake do have one thing in common: They are lost boys who have never met their fathers. This sad fact has left both of them undeniably scarred and obsessed with the men who abandoned them. As Jake and Ram overcome their suspicions of each other, they begin to move away from their loner existences and realize that they are capable of reaching out beyond their wounds and the neighborhoods that they grew up in. Their friendship becomes a healing in a world of hurt.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzi Lee
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life – Benjamin Alire Sáenz
The first day of senior year:

Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.

Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

Beautiful Creatures : The Official Illustrated Movie Companion – Mark Cotta Vaz
xplore the making of the film Beautiful Creatures in this ultimate visual companion, lavishly illustrated with full-color photos of the cast, locations, and sets. This beautiful paperback edition celebrates the on-screen creation of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s fascinating world, brought to life by screenwriter and director Richard LaGravenese.

With never-before-seen images, exclusive interviews and personal stories, Mark Cotta Vaz takes you behind the scenes with cast and crew, uncovering intimate details of the filmmaking process.

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I cannot wait to reread all of these books and I am excited for next year’s hunt!

Book Review: The Inexplicable Logic Of My Life – Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Published March 7th 2017
Format: Novel
Genre: Coming-of-Age, Fiction /Family/Contemporary/YA
Length: 452 pages, Hardcover
Publisher: Clarion Books
Cover Artist: Antonio Castro H.
Ebook ASIN/ISBN: 0544586506 (ISBN13: 9780544586505)
Characters: Salvador Silva, Samantha Diaz, Vicente Silva, Fito Fresqeuz

Blurb: The first day of senior year:

Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.

Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

I’ve delayed reading this because I wanted to read it from my own physical copy of the book and boy was it worth it! I absolutely loved – like really loved this book! Everything about it is perfection.

Sal, Sam, Mr. V, Fito, Mima and the rest of its characters are fleshed out in a way that makes you want to meet them in real life and be friends with them. They’re just so alive. Each have their own little story within the book.

Salvador. God, I absolutely adore this boy. If I were to have a kid in a few years, I’d want him to grow up just like him. Actually, I want to be just like him! He’s mature in so many ways and as innocent as a little kid at times. What a sweet, sweet boy.

If you’ve read the author’s most celebrated book, Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – you’d probably notice the similarity of Sal with Ari and Dante’s character. He’s like the mixed of these two well-loved characters.

There’s Samantha. Feisty Sam. The perfect bestfriend. Sam is so different from Sal which totally balanced out their relationship. I loved Sam.

Sal’s father Vicente or Mr. V. If you’ll read a book entitled “What Makes A Man?” he’s the perfect embodiment of it.

Then there’s poor Fito. My heart goes out to this very determined boy who won’t let bad things in his life hinder his ambition to succeed.

The poetry that is this story is just beyond beautiful. The realistic portrayal of the emotions in it touched my heart and my soul. Centered on family, individuality and love – the story simply reached out to me with its rich narrative.

With that, I’ve to say that this is the best book I’ve read this year. Just the best.

Benjamin Alire Saenz, you are incomparable!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

About The Author
Benjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children’s books.

He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humanities and Philosophy in 1977. He studied Theology at the University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium from 1977 to 1981. He was a priest for a few years in El Paso, Texas before leaving the order.

In 1985, he returned to school, and studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso where he earned an M.A. degree in Creative Writing. He then spent a year at the University of Iowa as a PhD student in American Literature. A year later, he was awarded a Wallace E. Stegner fellowship. While at Stanford University under the guidance of Denise Levertov, he completed his first book of poems, Calendar of Dust, which won an American Book Award in 1992. He entered the Ph.D. program at Stanford and continued his studies for two more years. Before completing his Ph.D., he moved back to the border and began teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso in the bilingual MFA program.

His first novel, Carry Me Like Water was a saga that brought together the Victorian novel and the Latin American tradition of magic realism and received much critical attention.

In The Book of What Remains (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), his fifth book of poems, he writes to the core truth of life’s ever-shifting memories. Set along the Mexican border, the contrast between the desert’s austere beauty and the brutality of border politics mirrors humanity’s capacity for both generosity and cruelty.

In 2005, he curated a show of photographs by Julian Cardona.

He continues to teach in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Book Review: Last Night I Sang to the Monster – Benjamin Alire Sáenz

MonsterPublished September 1st 2009
Format: Novel
Genre: Fiction /Family/Contemporary/YA
Length: 250 pages, ebook
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Cover Artist: Antonio Castro H.
Ebook ISBN: 1933693797
Characters: Zach Gonzalez

Eighteen-year-old Zach does not remember why he’s in a rehabilitation center for alcoholics, but with therapy and group sessions, he soon finds out that he’s capable of dealing with his past and be able to work on his recovery.

I decided to pick this up when I found out that the author was working on the sequel of his multi-awarded novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I just wanted to get a feel again, of how this author lured me the way he did with Ari and Dante’s story and this one totally gave me those feelings again! [and this came out three years before Ari and Dante] What an incredible novel! The quality of his writing is impeccable. His characterization rich and the realism behind each character masked through his beautiful prose is fucking genius! Seriously, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I laughed with Zach, cried with him and all those crazy mixed-up emotions that it felt like I was living his life.

I believe this story. I devoured everything in it although Zach may have used a few expressions excessively – I believed that these were actually part of his personality where he could not fully articulate himself, depending mostly on his ‘private conversations’ with people.

While reading it, I was Zach in the story – not that I’m an alcoholic, an addict or something but there’s something about his character that totally resonates with me. The ‘lost me,’ the ‘little boy’ me that may have been looking for some happiness. I dunno, it’s almost depressing to think about those times while I’m writing this review but yeah, I guess the book is kind of depressing but not in a “I will wallow in this shit and will cry myself to sleep” kind of way. I guess, what I’m trying to say is that you have a choice to read this book and get all weepy about it or read this, wallow in it but expect that at the end of it – there’s some sort of happy ending waiting for you. I liked that in this book. It’s dark in a way that it showed the reality of people suffering from addiction. There was no sugarcoating the fact that it’s not just about destroying themselves but it’s also about destroying everything around them, but most importantly – something I’ve gathered from experience that it’s actually a cry for help.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster is an evocative prose of a novel that will leave you enthralled with Benjamin Alire Sáenz artistry! What a truly delightful masterpiece!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

BUY LINKS:
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About The Author
Benjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children’s books.

He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humanities and Philosophy in 1977. He studied Theology at the University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium from 1977 to 1981. He was a priest for a few years in El Paso, Texas before leaving the order.

In 1985, he returned to school, and studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso where he earned an M.A. degree in Creative Writing. He then spent a year at the University of Iowa as a PhD student in American Literature. A year later, he was awarded a Wallace E. Stegner fellowship. While at Stanford University under the guidance of Denise Levertov, he completed his first book of poems, Calendar of Dust, which won an American Book Award in 1992. He entered the Ph.D. program at Stanford and continued his studies for two more years. Before completing his Ph.D., he moved back to the border and began teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso in the bilingual MFA program.

His first novel, Carry Me Like Water was a saga that brought together the Victorian novel and the Latin American tradition of magic realism and received much critical attention.

In The Book of What Remains (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), his fifth book of poems, he writes to the core truth of life’s ever-shifting memories. Set along the Mexican border, the contrast between the desert’s austere beauty and the brutality of border politics mirrors humanity’s capacity for both generosity and cruelty.

In 2005, he curated a show of photographs by Julian Cardona.

He continues to teach in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

via goodreads

via goodreads

When I first acquired this title, I thought it has one of the best covers I’ve seen in a while and the title itself is screaming “Good Book!” “Read Me!” “Now!” but I didn’t exactly read it right away. It actually took me over three months before I finally decided to give it a go. I was able to finish it in one reading and I’m duly impressed on how detailed and rich the story was. How deluded am I to have not read this sooner? This coming of age narrative about young Mexican-American teenagers Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana tackles so many things that even adults alike doesn’t seem to understand. Those secrets of the universe became Ari and Dante’s emotional battlefields that they have to go through to realize something out of ‘em. I loved how this book reminded me of one of my favorite books “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry due to its stirring and lyrical rendition of the story. You know that feeling when you’re trying to decipher something by simply reading the lyrics of a song but when you hear its melody, that’s when it would make sense. Aristotle and Dante…. is like that. It is a book that brings hope, acceptance, forgiveness, love – such a joy for us readers to try to discover the secrets of our own universe…

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars