Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

[MPOV] The Painted Hall Collection

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4/5
Published: 15/12/2018
Author: Anna Tan
Genre: fantasy, magical realism

Another pick for July's Book Challenge:
1. TBNT Book Challenge: A speculative novella OR a read with magical elements
2. Book Spin / Book Spin Bingo: letters T or A (Anna Tan)

This is a reread for me, you can read my initial review here:

The experience reading it a second time is different as, initially, I've read it over a span of a few years due to it's various release dates from the e-ARC I've received. Now reading it at one go from a book definitely had a much pleasant reading journey compared to earlier. 

This is a unique novel where the story is broken down by it's various phase of life. First one, When Wind Blows Cold, is based on Danis finding Hana. Next, The Flame of The North and Beneath The Rumbling Earth are based on both Mica and Hono, Danis and Hana's children. Last but not least, The Still, Small Voice is based on Hono.

Overall, it was truly an exciting journey for a simple kinda folklore with some magical elements. It is fast paced and straightforward which can be finished in 2 seating max but I did take a longer time to complete due to working from home. After finishing work, there are lots of home chores to complete too! Anyway, it has only 93 pages so you get the drift :-)

The remaining 27 pages is based on a trilogy the author is working on. Shattered Memories is part of this trilogy namely Absolution so you can get a taste of what to expect from it. Amok is the first release from the Absolution trilogy and I have read the e-ARC. You can check out my review here: 

All in all, Anna Tan's novels are suitable for all walks of life including young readers too. With it's easy to understand prose and attractive magical realism, I'm sure it will keep them, and even us, entertained until the end :-)

For more deets, you can check out her website:

Thank you again, Anna, for the opportunity to read and review your novels. I truly can't wait for the next Absolution novel!

Thursday, 8 July 2021

[MPOV] Sewing Face Masks, Scrub Caps, Arm Slings, and More

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.38/5
Published: April 1st, 2021
Author: Angie Herbertson
Genre: non-fiction, crafts, sewing

I've gotten this e-ARC from Netgalley as I was interested in sewing more other types of face masks.

This is my pick for July's Book Challenge:
1. TBNT Book Challenge: A speculative novella OR a read with magical elements
2. Book Spin / Book Spin Bingo: letters T or A (Angie Herbertson)

Interestingly, very straightforward with many templates and it's easy to pick up sewing even for a newbie. It is very thorough with proper instructions and pics that you won't get lost. Very easy to understand which is a plus as like many sewists, I may not know most sewing jargons. 

There are a total of 14 patterns to choose from, all practical projects. It does piqued my interests on the other projects which I have to find time and material to do it LOL! Perhaps later when I am not bogged down by work and life :-)

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

[MPOV] The Vagina Monologues

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.87/5
Published: January 1st, 1996
Author: Eve Ensler
Genre: non-fiction, feminism, plays

Synopsis from Goodreads:
I decided to talk to women about their vaginas, to do vagina interviews, which became vagina monologues...At first women were reluctant to talk. They were a little shy. But once they got going, you couldn't stop them. Women secretly love to talk about their vaginas. They get very excited, mainly because no one's ever asked them before.

Another pick for June's #bookspin #bookspinbingo with letter E or F (Eve Ensler)

I have always been curious about this book, mainly due to it's outrageous title, The Vagina Monologues, as though vagina could talk LOL! Anyway, the Asian upbringing in me was taken back a little whilst reading it, a bit of a culture shock kinda way, but after a while I get used to it. 

This book is based on real women's stories, their experiences and their monologues compiled by the author. The sharing of their discovery of their vagina, be it sexual or intimate, was quite profound and I am surprised that there are such support groups for this! Of course, only in the USA and not in Malaysia lah! Their stories were quite frank and straightforward that I could feel their anxiety or sadness or pain. 
I finally know the difference between pleasing and loving, obeying and respecting...
Aside from the vagina monologues, it's also about Female Empowerment or Girl Power. This is where violence against women came into view with the V-Day Movement. There are some sharing of such related stories too.
Eve Ensler, also known mononymously as V, is an American playwright, performer, feminist and activist. She is on a mission among so many other great and powerful women to help women accept their bodies.
The author credits her past marriage, rehab and therapy with helping her work through issues. A woman in progress, she pointedly never uses the word ''overcome''.
When you rape, beat, maim, mutilate, burn, bury and terrorise women, you destroy the essential life energy in the planet.

If you like reading on feminism or the likes then this would be up your alley. If you are curious like me, you must read with an open mind and not closed up rigid. Overall, this is an eye-opening read for me which made me love myself more.

Saturday, 19 June 2021

[MPOV] My Brilliant Friend (Book 1 of the Neapolitan Novels)

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3.97/5
Published: September 25th, 2012
Author: Elena Ferrante
Translator: Ann Goldstein
Genre: women's fiction, Italian literature

My Brilliant Friend is the first book in Italian writer Elena Ferrante’s world-acclaimed quartet of Neapolitan novels, which documents the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo. It was originally published in 2011.

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense and generous hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante's inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists.

This is my pick for June's Book Challenge:
1. TBNT Book Challenge: A translated book OR written by a non native-English speaker
2. Book Spin / Book Spin Bingo: letters E and F (Elena Ferrante)

This is book one of the Neapolitan Novels quartet by Elena Ferrante. The story revolves around Lena and her neighbourhood, especially on her love and hate friendship with Lila. This book is about her childhood and adolescence, narrated in her point of view where she has typed it down into her computer. Here she shares her story from the day she met Lila, how their friendship progressed and eventually blossomed into the best buds they are today. 

This is not the first and I guess it will not be the last where a translated book got me nowhere. I'm not sure if it is due to the translation or what nots but I just couldn't get into the story, just couldn't grasp it nor resonate with it. It was hard for me to wear Lena's shoes and view it all through her eyes. I could imagined her speaking though with her slang. 

In the chapter of their childhood, there is quite a few reference of husband beating wife and children, brothers beating sisters, arguments between neighbours and drunken men fighting in this poor neighbourhood. It is similar to some of the TV series or movies I have watched hence I was able to relate here. Btw, this has been made into a TV series which I have yet to catch.

Lena does has a competitive streak which elevates her jealousy towards Lila and always wanting to be a step better though feeling inferior always. Both are relatively good in their studies but Lila had to stop schooling and started working for her family. However, she still goes to the library to read more. Lena does missed their friendship when Lila slowly distanced away from her then, leaving Lena to move on without her.

During their adolescence, Lila has blossomed into a beautiful young lady and all the legit bachelors came knocking on her door. Lena, however, became plumpier and not as pretty as Lila in her own view, which led to her being more inferior and lack of confidence, hiding like a shadow behind Lila but she still strives to be good in her studies. When Lila continues to befriend her again, Lena was happy to have her best friend back though with a kind of resentment at times or envy in another!

It is a complicated kind of friendship with many characters and subplots that were thrown in to make this poor neighbourhood dramatically alive. Through it all, I got confused, passionless, at times interested and a little intrigued. I do want to enjoy this acclaimed novel by Elena Ferrante but it is somehow not my cup of tea though I have persevered to finish it. It did reminds me of J.K Rowling's Casual Vacancy with a similar kind of scenario but of a different pace that I have DNF it. 

The author chose to write it like a screenplay, a memory play to be precise, with Lena reminiscing of her past with Lila and typing it into the computer. It did feels like a drama on TV but with the main character narrating the whole drama from her point of view only and the remaining characters are there to supply the drama with more chaos and friction, just like an actual TV drama. I guess I'm not in favour of such prose as such I got lost in translation, so to speak. I've speed read through just so I could finished and know how it ends instead of DNF it.

As this is book 1, the ending has a slight cliffhanger so you would need to have book 2 ready so as not to stop suddenly, like me now LOL! If you like melodramatic kinda novel like a telenovela then this quartet should be up your alley. Lena is like many of us, booknerds or not, who are insecure of ourselves, lack of confidence with the inferiority complex hence it is easily relatable on this point.
''They won't touch me, because I'm ugly and I don't have my period,'' she said, ''but with you they might. If anything happens, tell me.''

I looked at her in confusion. We were almost thirteen, we knew nothing about institutions, laws, justice. I went home. I realized that with those last words she had admitted that I was important to her, and I was happy.

Whereas Lila, starting in March, at sixteen, would have a husband and within a year, at seventeen, a child, and then another, and another, and another. I felt I was a shadow, I wept in despair. 

"Not for you: you're my brilliant friend, you have to be the best of all, boys and girls." - Raffaella Cerullo 

Friday, 28 May 2021

[MPOV] Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.83/5
Published: December 7th, 2004
Author: Rebecca Wells
Genre: Women's fiction, contemporary, Southern

When Siddalee Walker, oldest daughter of Vivi Abbott Walker, Ya-Ya extraordinaire, is interviewed in the New York Times about a hit play she's directed, her mother gets described as a "tap-dancing child abuser." Enraged, Vivi disowns Sidda. Devastated, Sidda begs forgiveness, and postpones her upcoming wedding. All looks bleak until the Ya-Yas step in and convince Vivi to send Sidda a scrapbook of their girlhood mementos, called "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." As Sidda struggles to analyze her mother, she comes face to face with the tangled beauty of imperfect love, and the fact that forgiveness, more than understanding, is often what the heart longs for.

I'm reading this for May's book challenges below:
1. TBNT Book Challenge: A Bildungsroman (coming of age story) OR exploring relationships & family issues
2. Book Spin / Book Spin Bingo: letters B and R (Rebecca Wells)
My mother is not the Holy Lady, she thought. My mother's love is not perfect. My mother's love is good enough. My lover's love is good enough. Maybe I am good enough.
All the while reading this book, I somehow envisioned Jessica Lange as Vivi. I recently got to know there was a movie based on this book but the actress acted as Vivi was a different one. Am not sure if I will watch it yet. Anyway, back to this awesome book. This is one book which I would loved to be in! The story, the writing, the pact, the everything are so deep yet with so much feels!

The past: Vivi grew up seeking her mother's love and father's approval but her mother, Buggy, was a devout Christian who couldn't tolerate Vivi's wild behavior. Her parents were always arguing due to their different faith and believe. Vivi was also beaten by her own father. Hence after she got married, her husband was rarely home to help her raising their 4 children, she vent her anger on the children with Sidda getting the brunt of it. Vivi finally succumbed to depression and had a huge mental breakdown.

The future: Sidda is having a nervous breakdown and wanted to delay her marriage. Her reason was purely due to her relationship with her family. She idolized her mother, Vivi, and her best friends. As their past is a blur to her, she hopes to find out their secrets and resolved her insecurities once and for all so that she could move on with her life.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood is a story of awakening, family and friends... the relationship of 3 generations of women... the ups, the meltdowns all correlated to one another. From Buggy to Vivi, from Vivi to Sidda, it truly is a cycle from one woman's experience to another. The journey one experienced, so eventful and adventurous, I am envious of it all! On the other hand, it sure proves as relevant even now as most of the time we rarely discussed our feelings, our state of mind to each other or anyone. Mental health is real!

I won't divulge much but I can't help getting over those emotional chaos after reading this book! Definitely having a book hangover now LOL! I do find it is well written, easily absorbed and the way Rebecca Well plots the story is up my alley. If you are looking for a family oriented read with lots to think about, you should give this book a try.
Them that know don't tell; and them that tell don't know. For Siddalee Walker, the need to understand had passed, at least for the moment. All that was left was love and wonder.
Some new words for me:
Equipoise - balance of forces or interests

Vetiver - a fragrant extract or essential oil obtained from the root of an Indian grass, used in perfumery and aromatherapy

Genuflect - lower one's body briefly by bending one knee to the ground, typically in worship or as a sign of respect

Pissoir - a public urinal

Whippoorwill - a North and Central American nightjar with a distinctive call

Emphysema - a lung disease which results in shortness of breath due to over-swelling of the alveoli

Monday, 24 May 2021

Amok: Cover Reveal

What is Amok?

Amok is a new novel by Anna Tan, a talented Malaysian author based in Penang, which will be released on 24th June 2021. I had the opportunity to read the e-ARC of this awesome novel recently! Finally, the cover reveal is here! It sure looks as awesome as the novel itself!

You can read my full review here:

Amok: e-ARC review

What is faith, except hope in desperation?

All Putera Mikal wants is to gain the Amok Strength, the supernatural power granted by Kudus to the Mahan royal family. No matter how religiously Mikal keeps his vows, Kudus still denies him the Strength—whilst his father, Sultan Simson, flaunts the Strength despite his blatant defiance of the Temple and the priests’ visions of coming doom.

Then the prophecies come true.

Taken captive, Mikal must find a way to liberate his people and restore his throne in Maha—and the key to this is the Amok Strength. But what does it take to gain Kudus’ favour?


If you are interested, you can order from the Pre-order links here:

For Malaysia Only: Paperback (signed copies) preorder price: RM35 [Full price: RM45]

Signed Paperbacks: https://teaspoonpublishing.com.my/shop/amok-paperback/ 

For the rest of the world: Ebook preorder price: USD2.99 / RM12.00 [Full price: USD4.99 / RM20]

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Amok-Absolution-Book-Anna-Tan-ebook/dp/B08YXQKPN7/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna Tan grew up in Malaysia, the country that is not Singapore. She is interested in Malay/Nusantara and Chinese legends and folklore in exploring the intersection of language, culture, and faith. 

Anna has an MA in Creative Writing: The Novel under a Chevening scholarship and is the President of the Malaysian Writers Society. She can be found tweeting as @natzers and forgetting to update annatsp.com.

Where to find Anna online:

Website: https://annatsp.com

Instagram: http://instagram.com/annatsp

Facebook: http://facebook.com/annatansp

Twitter: http://twitter.com/natzers

Thursday, 6 May 2021

[MPOV] What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3.85/5
Published: October 20th, 2009
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Genre: non-fiction, psychology, sociology, social science, economics

What is the difference between choking and panicking? Why are there dozens of varieties of mustard but only one variety of ketchup? What do football players teach us about how to hire teachers? What does hair dye tell us about the history of the 20th century?

In the past decade, Malcolm Gladwell has written three books that have radically changed how we understand our world and ourselves: The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. Now, in What the Dog Saw, he brings together, for the first time, the best of his writing from The New Yorker over the same period.

Here you'll find the bittersweet tale of the inventor of the birth control pill, and the dazzling creations of pasta sauce pioneer Howard Moscowitz. Gladwell sits with Ron Popeil, the king of the American kitchen, as he sells rotisserie ovens, and divines the secrets of Cesar Millan, the "dog whisperer" who can calm savage animals with the touch of his hand. He explores intelligence tests and ethnic profiling and why it was that employers in Silicon Valley once tripped over themselves to hire the same college graduate. 

I have picked this book based on April challenges for the below:
1. TBNT Book Challenge: A book with an animal on the cover
2. Bookspin / Bookspin Bingo: letters G and M (Malcolm Gladwell)

To be honest, I've come across many rave reviews of this author. Hence my expectation is definitely high for this book. I do agree, it was well written with a straightforward prose, definitely getting the message over with lots of details and examples. The author definitely did his homework thoroughly which is why he could explain it quite accurately. However the habitual paraphrasing the story with elaborated examples is a little over daunting for me which in turn kinda bored me a little especially when it isn't my cup of tea. I guess reading it as a short story on a weekly basis differed to reading it in a book where all the short stories are. His style of writing is very prominent as such.

Anyway, there are a few which I've enjoyed, in fact eye opening for me like:
  1. True Colors
  2. John Rock's Error
  3. What the Dog Saw
  4. The Picture Problem
  5. Something Borrowed
  6. Late Bloomers
  7. Dangerous Minds
  8. Troublemakers
These stories resonate with me and I could relate to it or have interest in it. The others were more business like with more conundrums that is more for the serious minded LOL! Anyway, if you like varieties then this book is definitely for you. It is actually a great mind boggling filled with facts kinda read!

Here are some interesting facts, there were more but I've reduced it to this 4:
There are five known fundamental tastes in the human palate:
Salty, sweet sour butter and umami

When a woman is on the Pill, however, no egg is released, because the Pill suppresses ovulation. The fluxes of estrogen and progestin that cause the lining of the uterus to grow are dramatically reduced, because the Pill slows down the ovaries.

The problem of interval tumors explains why the overwhelming majority of breast-cancer experts insist that women in the critical 50 - 69 age group get regular mammograms.

Choking is about thinking too much. Panic is about thinking too little.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

[MPOV] Downtrodden Abbey

My rating: 1/5
Goodreads rating: 2.92/5
Published: December 3rd, 2013
Author: Gillian Fetlock
Genre: Historical fiction, humour, comedy, parody

Welcome to Downtrodden Abbey, where a battle for the deed to the property is waged between legitimate aristocrats and literal pretenders to the throne. The Crawfish family—Marry, Supple, Enid, Lady Flora, and Lord Roderick—are content wiling their days away with naughty charades and twenty-two course dinners until the sinking of the Gigantic takes down the next in line to inherit Downtrodden. Soon, cousin Isabich and her son, Atchew, the rightful heir to the Abbey, arrive to claim what's theirs. Downstairs, the servants are running amok, as crippled weakling Brace is aggressively courted by teen hottie Nana, and lady's maid "Potatoes" O'Grotten and her flamboyant sidekick, Tomaine, cause trouble at every turn. The ensuing, insufferably overwrought melodrama takes the reader upstairs and downstairs, into parlours and drawing rooms, boudoirs and bathrooms, and across every class—from the classiest to the classless—in the social pecking order of Edwardian England. Uproariously funny, with a wicked sense of humor that Downton Abbey diehards will enjoy, Gillians Fetlocks skewers your favorite characters with panache in this winning parody.

I have picked this book based on April challenges for the below:
1. TBNT Book Challenge: A book with an animal on the cover
2. Bookspin / Bookspin Bingo: letters G and M (Gillian Fetlock)

This novel is a parody of Downton Abbey filled with sarcasm which is not my cup of tea. I have not watched Downton Abbey so I have read this with an open mind. However, the sarcasm and ridiculousness eventually got to me and I've speedread it just to finish it. Thankfully it was well written hence the one star for the author's effort. 

A notable quote which I'm partial with:
Unfortunately, you were born into an era of entitled, lazy men who tale advantage of gender privilege and dominate ladies in ways that border on abuse. They earn twice as much money as women for doing less work, their thirst for alcohol is boundless, and their prehistoric sexual proclivities do not seem to evolve from when they were at puberty.
Learnt a few new words:
Daguerreotype - a photograph taken by an early photographic process employing an iodine-sensitized silvered plate and mercury vapour.

Harpsichord - a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard.

Accoutrement - an additional item of dress or equipment.

Zaftig - having a full, rounded figure; plump (typically used of a woman).

Monday, 26 April 2021

[MPOV] A Dog's Journey (A Dog's Purpose #2)

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.41/5
Published: 2012
Author: W. Bruce Cameron
Genre: Contemporary fiction, young adult, animals

Buddy is a good dog.

After searching for his purpose through several eventful lives, Buddy is sure that he has found and fulfilled it. Yet as he watches curious baby Clarity get into dangerous mischief, he is certain that this little girl is very much in need of a dog of her own.

When Buddy is reborn, he realizes that he has a new destiny. He's overjoyed when he is adopted by Clarity, now a vibrant but troubled teenager. When they are suddenly separated, Buddy despairs―who will take care of his girl?

A charming and heartwarming story of hope, love, and unending devotion, A Dog's Journey asks the question: Do we really take care of our pets, or do they take care of us? More than just another endearing dog tale, A Dog's Journey is the moving story of unwavering loyalty and a love that crosses all barriers.

#tbntbookchallenge for April: A book with a non-human main character OR with an animal on the cover

This month's challenge is easy. I have been meaning to read this book but always shelved it for later. So now it is a good time to bring it out and read it! I am happy that I did as it turned out to be an amazing one!

Fluidly written with the right pace, I've truly enjoyed this cool dog's journey from different phase of his or her life. Filled with so much feels, the bond he or she shared with CJ was abundance. It had me in tears a few times which was kinda difficult reading it in public! No matter which path he or she took, it will always lead to his or her life purpose. It honestly made me seemed to understand my dog more LOL!

While reading, I can just imagined Sofia Vergara as Gloria, AnnaSophia Robb as CJ and James Van Der Beek as Trent. It just pops up in my mind which was helpful when I was reading it! Unfortunately, it has been made into a movie and the casts were totally different LOL! I do prefer mine actually.

Definitely a loveable pet story, it is meaningful and had me thinking more of my dog, treating her better for sure or it could be the other way round :-) I would likely read more pet story as it's so relatable and endearing. Here are some quotes which I liked:

“You can usually tell that a man is good if he has a dog who loves him.”

“Dog’ is ‘God’ spelled backward; you know that. That’s why you’re here, to help the nuns do God’s work.”

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

[MPOV] Amok (Absolution #1)

My rating: 4/5
Published: June 2021
Author: Anna Tan
Genre: Magical realism, Asian lit, fantasy fiction

What is faith, except hope in desperation?

All Putera Mikal wants is to gain the Amok Strength, the supernatural power granted by Kudus to the Mahan royal family. No matter how religiously Mikal keeps his vows, Kudus still denies him the Strength—whilst his father, Sultan Simson, flaunts the Strength despite his blatant defiance of the Temple and the priests’ visions of coming doom.

Then the prophecies come true.
​Taken captive, Mikal must find a way to liberate his people and restore his throne Maha—and the key to this is the Amok Strength. But what does it take to gain Kudus’ favour?

I have received this e-ARC in return for my honest review.

Thank you to the author for this opportunity to read such an amazing novel! It was unexpected in my books and it totally kept me on my toes. Such an enthralling novel, with many exciting plots to keep me engrossed! Not forgetting that it was well written, with the many characters, it was easily understood without confusion.

Honestly, I did not expect much and I had thought that it was just another local folklore of some sort. How wrong I was as the story builds on and on with so many courageous efforts that had me rooting for Mikal! Maybe I'm a historical buff but I was so vested in the story that I can't wait to know how it ends!

Such a relatable story and I didn't want it to end! Fortunately, this is the first book in the Absolution series, not sure how many would there be. I am looking forward to Mikal's journey to Sultan hood and how he would fare being a fair and just king.

If you are looking for a new refreshing read, I'm sure Amok will be able to fulfill your palate. It's not often I come across such a fascinating read locally especially for a fantasy novel. Amok will be released in June 2021. Please click on this link for more details:

Saturday, 17 April 2021

[MPOV] The Lady and The Miner (Ladies & Strays #1)

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 4.26/5
Published: March 29th, 2021
Author: Lisa Torquay
Genre: Historical romance

As an astronomer, Amelia understands that the celestial bodies attract each other. Here on Earth it's no different.

Amelia Bolton belongs to one of the richest families in England, one who made its fortune in coal. Her brother Joseph aims at having access to parliament and is pressuring Amelia to marry a nobleman who has a seat in it. She knows her duties to the family, she does. But there's one man who won't leave her mind and, sadly, her heart. Daniel, the miner who lives just down the village, is as distant from her world as the planet Saturn is from Earth. She must force herself to leave her girlish fancies aside and become the titled lady of the ton her brother wishes her to be. It will tear her apart but she has no choice.

Daniel Hill was born in this mine and lost all his family to it. He has no illusions about the fact that he'll die in it too. But every time he catches sight of Miss Bolton, he dies a different death: That of knowing she's not for the likes of him. He can't dream of laying his coal-soot covered hands on her delicate person though the thought throws him in a torturous hell. He'll do his best to keep away from her, even if it sends him to an early grave.

I have received this e-ARC in return for my honest review. 

Thank you to the author for this opportunity to read and review this lovely novel! I've truly enjoyed the romance between Amelia and Daniel. It was fast paced at the start but slowly dwindled to a slower pace when things got rough between them. I did wished that the pace was consistent as it was kinda long winded a little then with repetition of their individual thoughts. 

Anyway, it is a refreshing read since it is the other way around with a stronger female lead and higher born as compared to the usual male protagonists. Definitely a quick and interesting kinda romance without much courtship so if you liked a light and straightforward read, this would be up your alley.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

[MPOV] The Courage to Be Disliked

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 4.08/5
Published: December 12th, 2013
Author: Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga
Genre: non-fiction, self-help

The Japanese phenomenon that teaches us the simple yet profound lessons required to liberate our real selves and find lasting happiness.

The Courage to be Disliked shows you how to unlock the power within yourself to become your best and truest self, change your future and find lasting happiness. Using the theories of Alfred Adler, one of the three giants of 19th century psychology alongside Freud and Jung, the authors explain how we are all free to determine our own future free of the shackles of past experiences, doubts and the expectations of others. It’s a philosophy that’s profoundly liberating, allowing us to develop the courage to change, and to ignore the limitations that we and those around us can place on ourselves.

The result is a book that is both highly accessible and profound in its importance. Millions have already read and benefited from its wisdom. Now that The Courage to be Disliked has been published for the first time in English, so can you. 

#bookspin #bookspinbingo #tbntbookchallenge 
March: A book written by a Japanese author

This book is written in a dialogue version between a youth and a philosopher. It covers mostly about Adler's psychology as compared with Freudian Aetiology and Socrates teachings, to name a few. Here are some excerpts taken from the book:




It is a refreshing insight on what Alfred Adler's psychology is all about. However as the dialogue progresses, I found it to be quite repetitive that it bores me at times. As such, I tend to speed read through. It is also confusing at some point that I had reread it to understand. I think it's more due to it's translation though.

The only thing missing in this book is the summary of it all. That would have been a great help which we can refer to as and when we like. With some key words that we can repeatedly remind ourselves especially for the likes of me who are forgetful. 

Anyway, just sharing a couple of excerpts which I liked best:

So, life is simple. Just live in the current now, forget of the past and the future. To live happily, one should live in harmony with society and to be self-reliant which lead to interpersonal relationships and separation of tasks. Last but not least, expressing our gratitude is of utmost importance and not praising others. I hoped I have summarized it correctly :-)

Thursday, 18 March 2021

[MPOV] Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3.80/5
Published: April 11, 2017
Author: Fumio Sasaki
Translator: Eriko Sugita
Genre: non-fiction, self help, philosophy

The best-selling phenomenon from Japan that shows us a minimalist life is a happy life.

Fumio Sasaki is not an enlightened minimalism expert or organizing guru like Marie Kondo—he’s just a regular guy who was stressed out and constantly comparing himself to others, until one day he decided to change his life by saying goodbye to everything he didn’t absolutely need. The effects were remarkable: Sasaki gained true freedom, new focus, and a real sense of gratitude for everything around him. In Goodbye, Things Sasaki modestly shares his personal minimalist experience, offering specific tips on the minimizing process and revealing how the new minimalist movement can not only transform your space but truly enrich your life. The benefits of a minimalist life can be realized by anyone, and Sasaki’s humble vision of true happiness will open your eyes to minimalism’s potential.

#tbntbookchallenge for March: A book featuring LGBTQ issues OR written by a Japanese author.

As I do not recall having books featuring LGBTQ issues, I've settled on books written by a Japanese author. I do have a handful in my TBR pile but I just had the knack for non-fiction lately. As such, I've devoured this one by Fumio Sasaki.

Goodbye, Things is all about minimalism. It's about the author's experience from being a maximalist to a minimalist, on how he has encountered, embarked and eventually enveloped minimalism. His journey may be the same with other minimalist but it is his honesty and simplicity that is engaging for me. In some ways quite scary, such as the way he uses only one towel for everything which is too extreme for me but I do understand his relevance and attitude towards his goal.

I can say for now, I am not minimalist material. However, I do want to minimalize my belongings so that I would not burden my family when I pass on eventually. I do not want my children to experience an abundance of stuff left behind by me and be overwhelmed to sort it all out. It may be my beloved stuff but it could be garbage to them. As such I do not want to accumulate unnecessary materials which will take up my time to maintain them and it could eventually be a burden to my children. A boon to me but a bane to them, so to speak.

Hence quite a lot of details in this book resonated with me. I've been sticking quite a few tabs which I've transferred to my book journal for future reminders and reference. This is a good read, aside from Marie Kondo's Spark Joy, which I do feel that both can work hand in hand. After 2 rounds of KonMari, I still feel overwhelmed with my material belongings so I'm going to attempt a third round with additional tips from Sasaki. I hoped this would work out and finally spark joy for me!

A point to note which I'm amazed is that most minimalists meditate and practice yoga. Apparently Google and Facebook are also into such Zen and meditation where they have workshops in their offices. It is a good way to declutter their mind since they have to always be online :-)

There are many quotes I've liked but I've picked these few to share:
Our worth is not the sum of our belongings.
All these things eventually turn on us; we become slaves to our belongings, forced to spend time and energy caring for them.
Our houses aren't museums; they don't need collections. 
When you think about it, it's experience that builds our unique characteristics, not material objects.
Listen, life is short. It's a shame to waste it because of some material object.
All in all, it was well translated and I do recommend this book if you are finding inspiration especially on how to start on being a minimalist or finding a more effective way to KonMari. Either way, it's nice to know there are others with similar headaches LOL!
When we aim for gratitude right now, we become more positive, tolerant, and generous. Above all, we open ourselves up to everyday happiness, and that openness will eventually change reality.

Friday, 26 February 2021

[MPOV] Emerging Malaysian Writers 2018

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3.29/5
Published: November 2018
Editors: Angelina Bong, Anna Tan, Foo Sek Han, Gina Yap, Jo Ch'ng, Pepper Lim
Genre: short stories, poems, anthology

One takes a very long emotional rollercoaster ride in a novel, but in an anthology, one takes many many short emotional rides. And that's what this anthology will do to you: bring you on different rides of new Malaysian writings.

So sit back with your cuppa and enjoy the read!

This anthology comprises of 14 short stories and poems written by aspiring Malaysian writers. From personal experience to family story to historical era, it was like a magical journey reading through it all. Short and sweet yet filled with various individual style and local flair, it was truly a different read from the usual, not as experienced and also some in Bahasa Malaysia.

All in all, I resonate more to Peter Soh's The Missing Tomb. It was akin to my late uncle telling me his stories during the Japanese occupation hence the familiarity. I can actually visualize it in a movie set-up especially with the peranakan grandeur with all it's glory and the harrowing experience during the Japanese occupation.

This is a nice short read out of the usual box. If you are interested to buy and support the local publication, please click here:

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

[MPOV] Map of the Invisible World

My rating: 2.5/5
Goodreads rating: 3.41/5
Published: April 28th, 2009
Author: Tash Aw
Genre: Asian literature, fiction

From the author of the internationally acclaimed, Costa Award-winning The Harmony Silk Factory comes an enthralling new novel that evokes an exotic yet turbulent and often frightening world.

16-year-old Adam is an orphan three times over. He and his older brother, Johan, were abandoned by their mother as children; he watched as Johan was adopted and taken away by a wealthy couple; and he had to hide when Karl, the Dutch man who raised him, was arrested by soldiers during Sukarno’s drive to purge 1960s Indonesia of its colonial past.

Adam sets out on a quest to find Karl, but all he has to guide him are some old photos and letters, which send him to the colourful, dangerous capital, Jakarta. Johan, meanwhile, is living a seemingly carefree, privileged life in Malaysia, but is careening out of control, unable to forget the long-ago betrayal of his helpless, trusting brother.

Map of the Invisible World is a masterful novel, and confirms Tash Aw as one of the most exciting young writers at work today.

#tbntbookchallenge for February: A book with a Southeast Asian main character OR set in Southeast Asia.
#tbntbookchallenge Bonus: A book by an author TBNT has interviewed / featured.

This novel mainly sets in Indonesia during the 1960's when the country was filled with political unrest. It started off with Adam who was suddenly abandoned when his stepfather, Karl, was taken by the soldiers. He knew he has an older brother, Johan, who was adopted by a couple prior to him but he could not remember him or anything from the orphanage. As such, with what little he knows and have, he embarked to Jakarta seeking Karl's long lost friend, Margaret, for help. 

Over in Malaysia, Johan is filled with guilt on abandoning his little brother, Adam, and always in a destructive mode. His stepfamily tried their best to sooth and understand him but to no avail since they do not allow the only subject his mind is full of, the little brother he left behind.

The story was told in alternate view points of Adam and Johan. The distinct difference in writing also indicates the variance i.e. Johan's was written as if he's dreaming it. I liked that so it would not be as confusing. Also Indonesia's setting was more obvious with many details as opposed to Malaysia.

The premise of the story was actually interesting including an assassination attempt on the Indonesian President which made it more realistic. However, with some historical background mostly of Margaret with her connections to Karl, Bill and Mick somehow deviate into a little romance. Even both Adam and Johan have their own hook up along the way. 

This novel was a total opposite to The Harmony Silk Factory (THSF) in writing where I've enjoyed THSF way much more than this. From the start to the end, this novel fell flat for the most part and only peaked a little toward the end. I found it hard to continue reading it and nearly DNF it midway but I forced myself to speed read through to finish it. It sure was a relief to finally read the ending and to complete 2 goals for TBNT Book Challenge (February and Bonus)!

A couple of quotes that caught my attention:
It is the non-verbal communication between human beings that forms the basis of all society.
Sometimes, Karl often told him, it is better not to own things, especially precious things, because they will be lost or taken away; things cannot last beyond your lifetime.

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

[MPOV] The Glass Menagerie


My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3.71/5
Published: March 31st, 1945
Playwright: Tennessee Williams
Genre: memory play

Abandoned by her husband, Amanda Wingfield comforts herself with recollections of her earlier, life in Blue Mountain when she was pursued by 'gentleman callers'. Her son Tom, a poet with a job in a warehouse, longs for adventure and escape from his mother's suffocating embrace, while Laura, her daughter, has her glass menagerie and her memories.

No play in the modern theater has so captured the imagination and heart of the American public as Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie. As Williams's first popular success, it launched the brilliant, if somewhat controversial, career, of our pre-eminent lyric playwright. Since its premiere in Chicago in 1944, with the legendary Laurette Taylor in the role of Amanda, Menagaerie has been the bravura piece for great actresses from Jessica Tandy to Joanne Woodward, and is studied and performed in classrooms and theatres around the world.

The Glass Menagerie (in the reading text the author preferred) is now available only in its New Directions Paperbook edition. A new introduction by the editor of The Tennessee Williams Annual Review, Robert Bray, reappraises the play more than half a century after it won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. This edition of The Glass Menagerie also includes Williams's essay on the impact of sudden fame on a struggling writer, "The Catastrophe of Success," as well as a short section of Williams's own "Production Notes."

#bookspinbingo #tbntbookchallenge
January: an inspirational read

I do not know why I have always thought that Tennessee Williams was a coloured woman. So when I started reading it, I then began to think that it was a white woman. However when I've Googled to include some summary of the play, I was surprised that it's actually a white man! The way it was written so fluidly somehow had me thinking it's a woman's and not a man's! Honestly, don't judge a book by it's cover stays so true! 

This book is amazing! From the start, even with his essay on 'The Catastrophe of Success', he sure has a knack with words and he can twirl it around so nicely. The way it was written and told, even though it's a memory play, was so mesmerising. His vocabulary was astounding and I am filled with envy with his prose! Tennessee Williams deserved to be applauded and accolade for his fruitful effort, his wonderful talent and his vast imagination.

However, every ups do have it's downs. It would have been due to that era but a reference to 'nigger' kinda turned me off a little. Here's the excerpt where the mother, Amanda, said:

One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain - your mother received - seventeen! - gentlemen callers! Why, sometimes there weren't chairs enough to accommodate them all. We had to send the nigger over to bring in folding chairs from the parish house.

All in all, it was a simple play of a struggling mother with a dreamy son and a very shy daughter who has a collection of glass menagerie. The mother hoped for her daughter to be married off quickly since she has been idling at home due to her shyness and lack of confidence. So when a gentleman caller finally came, he was able to sum up the daughter's character and even encouraged her to be more confident. Here's a snippet of what he said which has been truncated as it was very long:

You know what I judge to be the trouble with you? Inferiority complex! ........................... You know what my strong advice to you is? Think of yourself as superior in some way!

Unfortunately, the ending was not what I had hoped for but if you are looking for a quick read, this is one you should try. With the many rave reviews, aside from his wonderful prose, the plot was actually ordinary in my opinion so don't get your expectations too high.

Friday, 29 January 2021

Book Spin Bingo

As I do have a lot of books piling high up without much time to read as many, I enjoy doing book challenges as a way to help clear my pile. This way, I have something to look forward to and felt more motivated to read. I managed to complete TBNT Book Challenge for last year except for their bonus round. I hoped to complete it fully this year.

I have also recently discovered another book challenge on Litsy! In case you didn't know, Litsy is an app for bookish reviews. It's a mix between Goodreads and Instagram where you can just posts reviews, blurbs or quotes about books you have read. It's a simple and easy to use app.

Anyway, I was introduced to this book spin bingo which was created by The Aroma of Books and I quite liked the concept since I can never decide what to read next. I have changed it a little to suit me since I can never decide which books I should list down to read either LOL! So here is what I have done:

- Instead of listing books in the bingo boxes, I've placed alphabets instead

- After getting the book spin numbers, I'll look for the alphabets and searched for first name of authors that I have. For example, January's numbers were 20 and 4 where alphabets T and D are! I do have quite a few books so I have dwindle it down by choosing the one that suits January's TBNT Book Challenge theme.

- So that's how I have ended up with Tennessee William's The Glass Menagerie!

If you are interested to do a Book Spin Bingo, do check out The Aroma of Books on Litsy or search for the below hashtags:

#bookspin
#doublespin
#bookspinbingo

Friday, 22 January 2021

[MPOV] Joy at Work

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.48/5
Published: 7/4/2020
Author: Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein
Genre: Personal development, non-fiction

The workplace is a magnet for clutter and mess. Who hasn't felt drained by wasteful meetings, disorganized papers, endless emails, and unnecessary tasks? These are the modern-day hazards of working, and they can slowly drain the joy from work, limit our chances of career progress, and undermine our well-being. The authors offer stories, studies, and strategies to help you eliminate clutter and make space for work that really matters. They will help you overcome the challenges of workplace mess and enjoy the productivity, success, and happiness that comes with a tidy desk and mind.

#tbntbookchallenge for January: A book about new beginnings

It's a coincident that I've wanted to read this in January and there were changes in my job that I have to be laterally transferred to a new JV. It truly helps to set my mind positively of this new change and also helps me to be more inclusive. 

I've always had a negative mindset and pretty judgmental at that. A very bad working trait, I know, but in the long run I've realized I was brought up in such mindset. So I have been working on changing this for a long time but it is hard as it is a trait I've known since small. As such, I have a 'mini me' in my mind telling me if I'm swaying to the 'dark side' so to speak LOL! It isn't easy but I'm taking baby steps to correct it. Hence reading this book does helped in a way to declutter my work space and in turn my mind.

I did not find any flaw to this book as it was well written with views from both authors except that Scott may seemed more in authority than Marie Kondo. Other than that, I've enjoyed how Marie has shared about her family which made her more relevant and more humane. It's nice to know she has also struggled with her work too LOL!

All in all, time to work on getting mine right and not dwell on the past, time to let it all go and keep moving forward! Here are some excerpts I've liked and the Americans one is eye-opening:




"No matter what your ideal work life is, the final goal is the same, to be able to work with joy."

"When teams are in sync, work feels energizing and our productivity is high."

"Our work and our lives are the cumulative result of our past choices. Whether you stay or leave, don't hold on to the past or be fearful of the future."

Thursday, 14 January 2021

[MPOV] The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man (The Hundred-Year-Old Man #2)

My rating: 2/5
Goodreads rating: 3.72/5
Published: 7/8/2018
Author: Jonas Jonasson
Translator: Rachel Willson-Broyles
Genre: fiction, humour

The sequel to Jonas Jonasson’s international bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

It all begins with a hot air balloon trip and three bottles of champagne. Allan and Julius are ready for some spectacular views, but they’re not expecting to land in the sea and be rescued by a North Korean ship, and they could never have imagined that the captain of the ship would be harbouring a suitcase full of contraband uranium, on a nuclear weapons mission for Kim Jong-un …

Soon Allan and Julius are at the centre of a complex diplomatic crisis involving world figures from the Swedish foreign minister to Angela Merkel and President Trump. Things are about to get very complicated …

#tbntbookchallenge for January: An inspirational read

I've chosen this book for January's TBNT Book Challenge as it's inspiring that a 101 year old man still moves as Allan does and has a wonderful adventure to boot! He's definitely inspiring for me :-)

Anyway, I was excited upon finding out about the sequel hence I did have a very high expectation for when reading it. It actually did not excite as much and I was rather sad that it was kinda flat mostly. There were moments when it was actually funny and exciting, thinking that special Jonas' zest is back but after a while, it dissipates again. All in all, it was nice to know where Allan has ventured to but I did wished it was as good as the first.

The one thing I did liked about this book is how the author blatantly shot the political figures which was totally spot on! Oh well, it's just a novel and enjoyable at that but how apt! Anyway, it did got on the soft spot of most readers, I would think, with the way it was written and translated nicely. I sure hoped Allan would continue to grace us with his presence but not too commonly though.

Here are some excerpts that sorta tickled my funny bones:

'With the possible difference that Trump drew conclusions without doing the actual reading.'

'Above all, he had grown tired of the president's habit of repeating himself, like a scratched record.'

"We haven't had it before. Relax, Sabine! We only live once. That's the only certainty in life. How long, though - that varies."

Saturday, 2 January 2021

TBNT Book Challenge 2021

Two Book Nerds Talking (TBNT) has continued to come up with a book challenge for year 2021. Since I have done this year's so it makes sense to continue as it helps to clear my 'to be read' piles of books. It finally moved the mountain little by little so I hoped that it will eventually flatten it soon! So here's the list of book challenge, if you are interested too...




I know there are many book challenges available but I do like to support our local community like TBNT. So here's to reading more books and less book buying in the year 2021!!! 

For more deets on TBNT, you can check out their Facebook page:

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails